225: Your Questions Answered – Bjork Answers Your Blog Monetization, Content, and Social Questions

An image of cards with questions marks on them and the title of the 225th episode on the Food Blogger Pro Podcast, 'Your Questions Answered.'

Welcome to episode 225 of The Food Blogger Pro Podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork answers some questions from a recent member Live Q&A.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork talked about some of the routines he implemented to help him stay focused. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Your Questions Answered

This is an exciting podcast episode because it will give you a taste of what it’s like to be a Food Blogger Pro member!

We hold an exclusive Live Q&A with our members every single month, and during those Q&As, members can ask Bjork, Lindsay, and/or our experts any questions they have about blogging. In this episode of the podcast, Bjork takes some of the questions we didn’t get to during our most recent Live Q&A and answers them for our FBP Podcast fam. He answers some of our members’ questions about video, ads, social media, and monetization today.

Live Q&A days are always some of our favorite days of the month, and we’re so excited to be able to give you a sneak peek into how these member-only events work. Enjoy!

A quote from Bjork Ostrom’s appearance on the Food Blogger Pro podcast that says, 'Show up at the harbor.'

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What Q&As look like on Food Blogger Pro
  • If photos or videos are more important for a food blog
  • How you can use ads for your website
  • How to schedule your social media posts
  • What can give you the most earning potential as a blogger
  • How to build an audience using your area of expertise

Listen to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast below or check it out on Google Play Music, or Spotify:

Resources:

If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions for interviews, be sure to email them to [email protected].

If you’d like to jump to the comments section, click here.

Transcript:

Bjork Ostrom: Hello, hello, hello and welcome to the Food Blogger Pro Podcast. My name is Bjork Ostrom, and I am so excited that you are here today tuning in to this week’s episode. We try and switch things up a decent amount here on the Food Blogger Pro podcast and try different episode styles. We try structuring things a little bit different. Every once in a while, we will include a one off episode that will be presented in a different way when compared to the other podcast episodes. And today’s episode is one of those one off podcast episodes. It’s a little bit different than what we normally do, and I’ll explain a little bit about what it is. So on Food Blogger Pro, we have the podcast, we have the blog, we have the email newsletter, you have these different ways that you can interact with Food Blogger Pro, and those are open to anybody and everybody.

Bjork Ostrom: But we also have a membership component of the site, which means that you need to log in and be a member, and we have a community of thousands of people who are a part of that membership. And one of the things that we do is what’s called a live Q&A. We do this once a month and we’ll either do a general Q&A or we will have it on a specific topic. What happens is we will have this, we use a platform called Crowdcast, and essentially it’s a way for us to all gather in one place and members can submit questions and then if people are especially interested in talking about that question, they can vote on that and that question shows up at the top. So even though any given live Q&A will have 30, 40, 50 questions as a part of it, we can pick the top 10 questions and go through those knowing that those are the things that people want to talk about the most because people are able to vote on them.

Bjork Ostrom: It’s a really fun thing that we do with members every month and we have a little chat area where people are able to engage in real time and then you can also go back and watch any of the previous Q&A’s. So that’s one of the other great benefits is that they’re all archived so you can go back and you can find any specific question that we’ve answered previously on a live Q&A. And when I wanted to do for this podcast here today is actually do a version of what that live Q&A would be. Now a lot of times when we’re doing these live Q&A’s, we’ll have a guest with us and they’ll be able to add some commentary or all kinds of facilitate, but in this instance, our last one, it was Lindsay, Lindsay and me, but in this episode, I’m going to pick up some of the questions that we weren’t able to get to on the previous live Q&A, and I’m going to answer those for this week’s podcast episode.

Bjork Ostrom: So you’ll get a little bit of an idea, a little bit of the flavor of how this works for Food Blogger Pro members. Now the difference if you were to log in as a member is this would actually be video. In this case, it’s just audio, but it’s a similar look and feel. So let’s go ahead and jump in. I have, there’s actually a handful of questions that we didn’t get to on the previous live Q&A. Usually what ends up happening is we’ll dive deep, unspecific questions and it can take anywhere from five to 10 minutes to go through them. So we end up having a lot of questions that we don’t actually get to. So I thought it’d be fun to hit some of those here. So let’s go ahead and move through these.

Bjork Ostrom: Bruce submitted a question and he said, how important is video content versus images? So one of the things that’s interesting about this question is it’s like A versus B. Coke versus Pepsi. And I like to think of it as complimentary. So I would say baseline, if you’re producing a piece of content on your blog, you want to make sure that that piece of content, that that has images. I would say that’s a baseline starting point. Now, that’s not true for every piece of content. There’s a lot of really successful writers who just write. They don’t have any images or if they do have images, it’s very sparse. However, if we are speaking specifically to food content or recipe content, it’s really important to include images because it’s one of the easiest ways to communicate what the recipe’s about. People are able to see it. That’s how they judge if they would want to make it or not. You can imagine it would be a lot harder if you’re reading about something to imagine that it’s a lot more work and then to think, do I want to actually make this?

Bjork Ostrom: The other thing is images are a huge marketing avenue for blogs. Pinterest is a really obvious example, Instagram, all of these are image forward. Now it’s also true that you will have texts supporting that, so you’ll have a description both for Pinterest, for Instagram, but what’s important to remember is that the images is the first thing. So I think that’s a good starting point. Images baseline, especially for this niche of recipe content or food content. Video, I think is bonus above and beyond. Now I’m speaking specifically to people who are creating a blog post and publishing that. So there’s some people who build a following online doing video first. Those would be people who would maybe have a really heavy emphasis on video as it relates to Instagram. So they would be doing Instagram stories or Instagram videos within their feed, or they’d maybe have a YouTube channel and they have a really significant following there.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a great avenue for people who are excited about being in front of the camera and producing video content, and there’s a ton of potential that’s available for people who are interested in doing that type of content production. But if you are a blog forward in the sense that you are writing content, you’re taking photos, you’re publishing recipes on a blog, video is a bonus above and beyond that. Now, why is video helpful? What does it do? Well, much like photos do a really good job of communicating what recipe is about, videos does an even better job of that. So you can imagine if you only had words and let’s say you had a group of 50 people and they had to read about what a recipe was, and then they had to accurately communicate back to what it was or let’s say accurately create that recipe and maybe take a photo of it, and you can imagine what that would look like across the board.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, some people would do a really good job of replicating that and understanding the directions, and other people would maybe struggle with that a little bit. It’s one of the things that we’ve learned more and more as we’ve worked on trying to figure out how to communicate things online, is that there’s a lot of room for interpretation even if you are really specific in how you’re crafting your content. So that’s the written form. Then you can imagine if you included videos or if you included images and step-by-step images. So you had text and images in that same group of 50 people went through that exercise and they tried to replicate the recipe that you’re making. You can imagine the success rate would probably go up. If people were able to see each step along the way, they’d have a better understanding of what the finished product would look like and how they would get there each step of the way.

Bjork Ostrom: Video’s the ultimate example of that. So if you’re able to actually show people the specific steps along the way, that does an even better job of communicating how to move through the instructions for something. In this case it’d be recipes, but it could exist for a lot of different things. It could be home DIY, it could be crafts, all of those things will benefit from having video in terms of the success rate of replicating what it is that you are trying to do. Now, video is going to be more time intensive, but one of the things that we are starting to experiment, we’re early on in experimenting with this on Pinch of Yum, is not only including the traditional like one to two minute trailer highlight reel type video, but also starting to include story like video within a recipe.

Bjork Ostrom: And what I mean by that is if you use Facebook a lot or Instagram a lot, you know that there’s these things called stories, and stories are these raw, not super polished intimate type content where somebody is recording themselves or it’s a selfie mode or they’re just pointing their camera, their phone video camera somewhere, and they’re recording the process of doing something. We’re experimenting with that on Pinch of Yum, and the tool that we’re using is a tool called Slickstream. Now, Slickstream full disclosure, I’m an advisor for this company, but it’s a Silicon Valley startup company that is looking to figure out ways to fully engage, to engage each user as much as possible. So they’re not about traffic acquisition, they’re about engagement once you’re there.

Bjork Ostrom: And one of the ways that we’re experimenting with this on Pinch of Yum is using stories within a blog post. It’s a little bit of a different way of thinking about content. So if that’s something that’s interesting to you as a way to start to include video, but to not have to have that super polished video, I think there’s a lot of opportunity for this and we’re really excited about it. So the basic idea would be, let’s say you’re creating a recipe, instead of feeling like you have to have a DSLR camera where you invest a bunch of time in editing software and have to learn Final Cut Pro, you’re just taking your camera and you’re pointing it at the recipe as you’re making it and you’re talking through each of the steps. And then you’d include that as an embed, like you would YouTube, on a blog post.

Bjork Ostrom: And we think that there’s some cool opportunity to add a really helpful layer like I talked about before, that video content that does a better job explaining, while also reducing the amount of time and energy and resources that go into video, traditional high level video content production. So for you Bruce, as you’re weighing the advantages of video versus images, I would say you start with images, but think of ways to lessen the workload of video, and we think the Instagram story like content within the blog post is a great way to do that. So think about ways that you can lessen the workload of video but still include it within your content. And what you’ll find, what I think you’ll find is that those who do engage with the content, it won’t be everybody, but those who do engage with it will have a higher level of success with executing the thing that you’re hoping that they do.

Bjork Ostrom: In this case, let’s say it’s creating a recipe. So when you look at video versus images, I would say as much as possible, try and figure out ways to do both, but as is the issue with every content creator, there’s the burden of time and resources. So think creatively about how you can get most of the benefit of the thing that’s hard to do in this case, video, with the least amount of work. And we are excited about some of the offerings that Slickstream is starting to work on as it relates to Instagram story like content within the blog post. And we can link to some of those examples in the show notes for this podcast so you can check those out.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, moving along here, Sarah says, what do you feel is the best way to use advertising dollars to drive traffic to your website? So I’m guessing what Sarah is asking here is most publishers who create income, a substantial amount of that is created from advertising dollars. And you work with a company like AdThrive or Sortable or Mediavine, one of these advertising companies, and what you do is you’ll work with them and they help build out your ad stack. And then for every person that comes to your site, you get a few pennies or maybe a penny. And the hope is that you have in a day, thousands of people coming and eventually those pennies add up and you are able to create an income from advertising dollars. In this case, Sarah, as far as I understand it, is asking take the flip side of that. If you take the flip side and you say, hey, I’m going to pay money, I’m going to pay different companies to try and get clicks to my website. What’s the best way to drive that traffic to my website?

Bjork Ostrom: Now, the hard thing here is the economics that exist around that type of traffic acquisition. And most of the people that listen to this podcast, are creating an income through sponsor content, affiliate marketing or traditional advertising like I talked about with one of those companies. And for the most part, you should be able to get a general idea that you should be able to do some basic math to get an idea around for each person that visits your site or each page view however you want to look at it, you get a certain amount of money, and my guess is this would be true for us. I like Pinch of Yum, depending on the year, depending on the time, depending on the page, a lot of depends involved in this, but it would land between the one and maybe three cent mark for somebody who is creating an income through traditional publishing sources like advertising or sponsor content or affiliate marketing.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, that is going to be really hard to find a way to acquire traffic that’s going to be cheaper than the amount that you’re getting when somebody actually comes and visits your site. Because if you are getting, let’s say one cent, two cents, three cents per visit or per page view, that means you’re going to have to pay less than that in order for it to make sense to continually do that on a consistent basis. So you’re going to have to find a way to get somebody to click on something that’s going to cost, let’s say half a cent or one cent. And those click that cheap, that is actually a valuable targeted user is going to be really, really difficult to find. And so that’s why it’s so rare for publishers to do advertising to get people to come to their site.

Bjork Ostrom: Now the exception would be people who are squeezing pennies out of their content and are figuring out every way possible to get people to see as many ads as possible. And a really great example of that is any of those sites like where it would be like top 16 celebrity breakups. And what happens is all of us have, whether intentionally or maybe accidentally, clicked on one of these. You go to these sites and you’re having to refresh, go to the next page continually. It’s you read one story and then you click next and it goes to the next one, or sometimes there’ll be stories about like you’ll never believe what happened to this family and their haunted house on Halloween 2018. So that people are like, “Oh my gosh, what happened to this family?”

Bjork Ostrom: You go and they just draw all this story out over 26 pages and it’s not actually that interesting or good, but what you’ve done is you’ve, because of curiosity, you’ve clicked through 24 different pages, so suddenly maybe they’ve spent 10 cents on a click, and a lot of times you’ll see these at the bottom of a piece of content and it’ll be a block of recommended articles and sometimes they look spammy, but when you click on that and you go through 20 different pages, then those people have crunched the numbers and they say, “We know that we can spend 10 cents.” And on average, let’s say we make 15 cents whenever somebody clicks on one of these, so we’re going to just going to do that all day long and we’re going to continually collect nickles throughout the day because we know on average, we’re not going to go above 10 cents and we know that we can see statistically people will make 15 cents from this.

Bjork Ostrom: So those are the only instances where it really starts to make sense for a publisher to pay for advertising, to get people to consume their content from a purely revenue based perspective. Now there might be some one off unique situations either that I’m not thinking of. I know that those are out there, but also there might be some one off situations like maybe you are working with a sponsor and you know that you have gotten… you’ve maybe made let’s say $1,000 from this relationship with a sponsor and you want it to go really well, so you pay to get additional exposure on social media or you pay to get some clicks to the site so you have more engagement on that. So when you pass along those metrics, those metrics are positive strong metrics. So that’s something that we do with Pinch of Yum, but I know there are other people who do that, and it’s not bad to do that. Just know that if you’re spending that revenue and if that is part of your process, you have to factor that into your sponsor content agreement.

Bjork Ostrom: So you don’t want to have a $1,000 sponsored post and then spend 250 on advertising and spend 100 on food and 250 hiring somebody to do video. Quickly, it adds up and you’re not actually making any money. So you have to make sure that you are crunching those numbers to make sure that it makes sense. But for people in this niche, for people who are doing traditional publishing and monetizing through affiliate sponsored content in ads, it’s really hard to justify advertising dollars as a way to acquire traffic at a profitable level. So that’s why organic is so popular because it’s free. Organic is free in the sense that if you get a lot of people coming from Pinterest or search, you’re not having to pay for that. Now you’re exchanging your time, your effort, your resources, in order to get to that point, but you’re not actually exchanging dollars.

Bjork Ostrom: And so even if you are making $200 from your site, if you’re not paying anything for advertising, then great. It makes sense for you to continue to do that because you have a profitable business. One last example of a contrast of when it does make sense to pay for advertising would be a company like WP Tasty. WP Tasty is the plugins business that we have, and we don’t monetize in any other way other than people purchasing the plugins from WP Tasty. So let’s say that somebody comes and they visit Tasty Pins, the landing page for Tasty Pins, which is the Pinterest plugin that we have, when they leave, if they haven’t purchased, they’ll see ads that follow them around the web. The reason that we do that, and that would be on Facebook, it’d be on Instagram, it would be on other websites, the reason that we do that re-targeting it’s called, is because we know that we can justify the cost of those clicks to get people back because there’s a high likelihood that they will purchase.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, we’re not spending a bunch of money to get pure traffic acquisition, and the reason is because even though we have a product, it’s still relatively low dollar value. It’s $29, it’s $79, so we would have to be really smart about how we are running our ads in order to continually make that profitable or to make sense. Now, an example would be if you search top recipe plugin, you might see an ad for WP Tasty. That’s a really targeted ad. Not many people are searching that, but when they do, we want to make sure that they notice and that they see Tasty Pins. So we need to be intentional about thinking about how we are spending money on advertising and making sure that it’s really targeted. So if you do have a product, Sarah, if there is something that you’re selling, there’s a good chance that there might be ways for you to pay for the traffic to come to that site, but you just need to make sure that you understand how many people actually purchase after they click on those ads.

Bjork Ostrom: If you’re just doing it for a traditional publishing site, there’s a really good chance that you’re not actually going to be able to do it in a way that make sense for how much you’re spending versus how much you actually get from that visit. So that’s a great question and I think really important concept for publishers and bloggers to understand. Alright, continuing to move along here, Picky says, do you use different scheduling systems for different social media or just one, for example, CoSchedule, and then if you had to pick one scheduling system for Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and blog posts, which would it be? So I don’t know if I have an idea of one that we’d use for sure, but I am able to share the suite of tools that we use across the board, and Abby, who’s the social media manager understands these a little bit more and Jenna, who helps out with some of the Pinch of Yum stuff, understands this a little bit more. So I can only speak at a high level and then I will keep myself from getting really specific.

Bjork Ostrom: So we use CoSchedule, and CoSchedule is a great marketing and publishing and planning tool, but it also ties in on some social media related scheduling things. And we use that primarily for the blog posts that we have coming up, but then also for Instagram. So Instagram is a really important platform for us and we use CoSchedule to help plan that. We use a app called Tailwind for scheduling Pinterest related content, and then everything else goes into a bucket that is managed by Sprout Social, and that’s actually the tool that we use to manage all the other accounts. So Food Blogger Pro, Pinch of Yum, WP Tasty, those are all managed within Sprout Social. So it’s a great question. I would say that there’s a lot of different tools out there. I would start by figuring out what you actually need to use in what you actually are wanting to do with the tools, and then going and comparing and contrasting what each one of those tools offers.

Bjork Ostrom: One of the things I also encourage people with as they’re starting out is this idea that you can’t do it all and it’s probably more beneficial to focus on one single platform and to do a really good job of that, and then once you have a system around that, fold in another platform versus trying to start right from the beginning with doing all of it and figuring out how you can manage all of it at the same time. What will happen is instead of going deep and really understanding and having success on a platform, it will be thin. You’ll stay at the top layer layer and you’ll try to juggle too much and you won’t actually get traction in a single platform. So I would start small and really understand one single platform, be okay, not being active on the other platforms or very minimal activity on those other platforms, and build those out over time as you start to get a system around one single platform and move forward from there.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, we are going to continue moving along here. Again, just a quick reminder of what this is. So this is an example of something that we would do on a monthly basis for Food Blogger Pro. We might have a specific topic. For instance, we might talk about video or photography, maybe affiliate marketing, search engine optimization, these are live Q&A’s that we do on Food Blogger Pro. The difference is, obviously I’m recording this and then we’re publishing it, but for Food Blogger Pro, we do this live. We have members who jump in, we interact and chat and then submit questions that we go through in real time. So I’m grabbing some of the questions that we didn’t get to on our last live Q&A with Lindsay and I and going through some of those here on the podcast.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, so here’s a question coming in. A good question from Stacy. Stacy says, what is the highest earning potential for newbies? So one of the questions that I always like to ask when somebody asks this question is, what is your goal? What is your hope in earning from your site? And that will inform the response that I give. My assumption in this case, and what I’ll use moving forward is that the goal is to create something that will become an income source for you and maybe be disposable income or discretionary income for your family or potentially replace the current work that you’re doing, the current job or career that you have and allow you to transition into doing your blog or building a business on your own. And I think one of the highest starting potentials for newbies is to trade your time and expertise in a certain area for dollars.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, that’s not somewhere that you’re necessarily going to want to sit for a really long period of time, but it has the highest earning potential. And the reason is because you probably have a specific skill or expertise and even without knowing it in, in going through content and lessons and learning about all the different parts of building a blog, you’re starting to also develop skills and areas of expertise. And what you can do is use those to help other people who want to accomplish similar things but don’t have the time or bandwidth to do it. So maybe these are people who are further along in building their site, or maybe it’s people who aren’t building something at all, they just are interested in having you help them with something. An example would be maybe you have a really good understanding of a certain diet and you have been doing, let’s say you’ve been eating vegan for a really long time and you want to offer your services to help people transition into eating vegan.

Bjork Ostrom: So you do a one hour new vegan consulting call, and that’s the first product that you offer. The great thing about that is if you’re creating content on your blog about vegan eating and people come in and maybe the content that you’re creating is closely parallel to the service you have. So it’s not only vegan eating but it’s how to start eating vegan if you never have before. So you know that over time you’re going to start to get a lot of people who are searching and trying to understand that. Then you can have a product or service offering that is closely correlated to that content, in this case, a one hour start eating vegan consulting call, and on that call you have resources, you guide people through the things that took you three years to learn and you compress it down into an hour and you help people get started right away.

Bjork Ostrom: If it was me, if I were to rewind the tape and everything were to go away and we are starting over today, I would build some version of that. I would create something where I offer a service or a productized service, meaning the service looks the same, it’s not super custom, and then create content that supports that product. Now for me, I wouldn’t be great in vegan eating. I wouldn’t be great in any specific advice around a diet, but probably what I would do is something similar to at Food Blogger Pro is, which is I’d create content around something really specific. Maybe it’s some type of marketing channel or maybe it’s starting from zero to one, how to make your first $1,000 with the site, and I would do some type of consulting around that. Now over time, what you’ll realize is that 80% to 90% of the questions and the feedback and the ideas that you have will be pretty similar, and so what you can do is you can start to create that productized version, which means that it’s a template that you follow and move through.

Bjork Ostrom: So you won’t have to have this super custom one hour call each time. It’ll probably look pretty similar from person to person. Now, to get towards your other question, Stacy, which I’m guessing is like, hey, if I’m going to do this from a “passive” level, what would have the highest earning potential? Passive meaning you’re not trading your time for dollars, but instead you are building a site that creates an income from the things within the site. And the most earning potential that you have from that is selling something. And I don’t mean selling something like in an affiliate way, but actually having something that you create that you sell on your site. And the contrast would be something like WP Tasty, which I’ve used before because it’s the internal good example versus Pinch of Yum. WP tasty has, I don’t know what it would be one 500th of the traffic versus Pinch of Yum, but because we’re actually selling something on that site, plugins, the value of that traffic is actually a lot higher. Pinch of Yum doesn’t have very many things that it’s selling.

Bjork Ostrom: It requires people to come and visit into monetize through ads, affiliate or sponsor content. And while Pinch of Yum has a lot of traffic and then is able to create a substantial income from that, it’s not required for you to have that in order to have a successful site online. So again, if you’re in the early stages, if you’re a newbie, I would start to think about what is the thing that you can actually offer or sell. And I won’t get into details with that, but it’s something that’s worth considering. And maybe you can look at other successful sites to see is there something that these people are selling? And maybe it’s not even blogs, but it’s other food related companies that exist online, to see what they are doing and how they’re building an income.

Bjork Ostrom: We’ve done podcasts with people who have talked about even creating their own food products. So maybe that’s something that you want to venture into where you have a specific expertise or interest and you want to white label or actually create your own type of food. Maybe you have a really popular cookie recipe and you can sell the packaged goods for that, and people can just order it and they get it all, and it arrives in maybe a big batch. And so if you have a party, you have this awesome recipe and all the ingredients come and it’s ready to make and prepare. And maybe you include some fun like Christmas themed cookie cutters or something like that. So think about what are the ways that you could create something that you could actually offer to sell? That’s going to have the most earning potential for a site, whether you are in your 10th year doing this or in the very beginning stages of doing it. It’s a great question, Stacy.

Bjork Ostrom: All right, we are moving through here hitting some of these questions that we didn’t get to on the live Q&A for Food Blogger Pro. We will hit a couple more of these here and then we will wrap up with this episode, and then eventually we’re going to get back to some of the traditional interviews that we’ve done on the podcast. We’ve scattered those in throughout, but we’ll also move into a different season here where we’ll have some more of those a little bit more consistently coming up. Alright, Heather is asking also, is it too late to make money from a blog if you aren’t selling a course, et cetera. So this actually ties in, Heather, to the question that I had talked about before, which has to do with creating something that you are selling, and I think it’s important to know that there aren’t limitless ways to create an income from something that you’re building online, from a website or a business in general, it’s advertising dollars in the traditional sense, it’s sponsored content, it’s affiliate marketing, it’s selling a product, it’s selling a service, it’s some type of marketplace.

Bjork Ostrom: So that would be like something like eBay where you sit in the middle, but there aren’t hundreds of options of the foundational ways to create an income from a website. Now there’s hundreds of different ways to do that limited amount of or that limited list of things that you can do. You can be really creative in how that works, but it’s not like there’s a hundred different general categories. So I think it’s important to remember that there’s always going to be a way for that to exist in the world. There’s always going to be a way for you to create an income from building something online, that’s not going away. It’s just becoming more and more prevalent. In my opinion, it’s becoming easier in the sense that more people are living, they’re spending their time online, whether that be on their phone or on a computer. We work online, people are working remote, it’s getting more and more common to spend most of our time, whether you like it or not, most of our time online.

Bjork Ostrom: And what that means is that dollars are switching to being spent online and attention is online, which means that advertisers are starting to think about switching to go online. So I think that I’m really excited about the future potential of building profitable things online. However, what that looks like might change. And so for your question, is it too late to make money from blog if you aren’t selling a course? I think my guess is, what you’re addressing is like, hey, if I want to create and income from advertising with my site, is it too late? Has that ship already sailed? And I would say no, but know that it’s going to take a long time for you to build something to the point where it creates a substantial amount of income. You could maybe compress that down into a year. If you’re really intentional, super smart, you really understand growth, you can do that in a relatively short amount of time, but for a lot of people, they’re building and they’re also learning.

Bjork Ostrom: So they’re learning how to publish online. They’re learning what good content looks like. They’re learning how to talk to their audience. They’re learning about some of the basics of advertising and creating an income online. So for a lot of people that are acquiring new skills, they’re learning how to publish, they’re learning how to take a good photography, and those things take time. So it’s not too late. The ship hasn’t sailed. Just know that depending on the category that you’re focusing on, it could take a decent amount of time to get up to speed to the point where it’s a substantial amount of income from you in the work that you’re doing. Now there’s other ways that you can shorten that, maybe you are focusing on something else or as you addressed, maybe you’re selling a course. And the reason that many people sell courses is because of what I was talking about before, which is this idea of selling a product or a service, and that’s it’s a lot easier in a sense because you’re not needing as much traffic as you would if you are doing something like monetizing via ads.

Bjork Ostrom: Now, the hard part is with selling a course is you have to understand marketing. And that’s a huge part of it. You have to understand how to build something that’s actually helpful, but then once you’ve done that, you have to understand how to get people to target that to people, to get them to actually come and purchase that product. So my advice to you, Heather, my encouragement, I guess it would be is that it’s not too late. There’s, if anything, there’s more and more potential in this space, but it probably doesn’t look like what it did 10 years ago, and it also probably doesn’t look like what you’re seeing right now. It’s important to spend time understanding how the trends where things are shifting, and to understand what’s happening on a macro scale as it relates to publishing online. For example, one of the shifts that’s happening is this idea of influencer marketing and is becoming more and more common for brands to partner with people with a following, whether micro or macro, to promote their products.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a shift that has happened. We’ve seen that in the life of our side of building a blog. And 10 years ago, it didn’t really exist. Five years ago, it was starting to get more common, and now, it’s really common for brands to partner with people who have a following. There are lots of things like that that are always developing and changing and shifting. So what does that look like? It looks like reading articles, it looks like listening to podcasts, it looks like being in tune with what other people are doing and understanding the shifts and changes that are happening. So if you see somebody right now who’s really successful in one venture, that doesn’t mean that’s what you need to do. You can think creatively around not only what the best fit for you is, but also where your expertise is and then what feels best in terms of the type of content that you’re creating.

Bjork Ostrom: So concretely, what does that mean and how does that look? A hypothetical situation. Maybe what you’ve realized is that you really love photography, and in doing that, you also realize that you love video and you love being in front of the camera. What you can do is you can pair those two things and you can start to create content by going in front of the camera, recording video and talking about the things that you’re learning with photography. And once you do that, once you have that audience, you can start to learn what are the things that they’re interested in? What are the things that they need? What are the things that we could create that would be helpful? Another example would be maybe you love, this would be specific for food and recipe, maybe you realize that you love meal planning and meal prep and you have a big family, and you also love the idea of podcasting as a medium.

Bjork Ostrom: What you can start to do is you can create content, audio content, that talks through how you as a big family, make a healthy eating sustainable without getting totally burnt out. You’ll start to get an audience of people who are interested in doing that same thing. Once you have that audience, then you’re able to speak to those people and help them along their journey. And that might be, excuse me, that might be with a service like we talked about before, that might be with a product, or if you aren’t interested in doing either of those things, there might be other companies then who come in and that would be the traditional sponsored or advertising relationship. One last example, an actual example that we’ve used on this podcast, is we’re in the early stages of building a new tool to help bloggers with post log.

Bjork Ostrom: And if you follow closely with the podcast, you know I did an episode where I talk about the benefits of a post log and why that’s really helpful, how we use it on Pinch of Yum, and how we realize it’s such a pain to maintain the spreadsheet. And we said anytime there’s a pain with something, we feel like there’s probably a solution for that pain and a lot of times technology can solve that. Because of this podcast, I was able to record an episode and talk through that and I said, hey, if you’re interested in solving some of these same problems, just drop me an email [email protected] and say I’m interested, and from that, we have this handful, we have a bunch of people who emailed to say, I’m interested in this. I want a similar tool. I’ve had a similar problem, and so we have from that group, this beta group of people who I’ll reach out to and we’ll start to have a conversation around the things that they want, the needs that they want for this specific tool.

Bjork Ostrom: That’s a really concrete example of how we have leveraged this podcast, how we as online business builders, have thought about what it looks like to create a new thing, to create a product, in this case, a SaaS software as a service product, and how we use the podcast to kick that off. So you can do similar things with your own area of expertise or your own area of interest. What’s required is an audience, people who are actually following along or advertising smarts. And that would mean understanding how to advertise on Facebook or Instagram or Google ads. So if you’re not organically building that audience, we’ve always organically built an audience, then you’re going to have to really understand advertising and know that you’re going to pay for that audience, but if you have a really specific service or product you’re offering at the end that you can sell them and you know that they’ll purchase it, then you can use advertising to gain those eyeballs, to gain that attention, to get that attention from people who might be interested in the thing that you’re selling.

Bjork Ostrom: So, Heather, I’m super optimistic about the future for content creators, for people who are interested in building something online, but know that there are ships that are sailing and this would maybe be the takeaway and maybe a good note to end on for this podcast, but it’s not a singular ship. There’s not one ship that sails. We live in a harbor where every single day there’s a ship going out to sea, and those ships, there are ships that have sailed. But every single day there’s ships that are going out to sea, and I think more and more, not less and less ships are sailing. And so the point that I’m trying to make and my encouragement to you as we wrap up this podcast is to show up at the harbor.

Bjork Ostrom: So continually show up, study the ships that are leaving, try and understand the successes that people are having because you will find one of those ships that’s a good fit for you, that feels like the right size and speed and is pointed in the right direction, but it might take some studying of the other ships that are going out to sea, but know that it’s not a singular ship. Every single day there are new ships going out to sea and eventually you’ll find one and you’ll say, “Hey, this is a really good fit for me. I’m going to board this one.” And that will be your ship. And it will go to sea, and if you stick with it long enough, if you work hard, if you continually learn, if you show up every day and try and get a little bit better, we call that 1% infinity, that eventually you’ll find that ship and you’ll be able to take that out to sea.

Bjork Ostrom: So this is a wrap up of the live Q&A podcast session and we do these every month on Food Blogger Pro, but we wanted to take a moment to give a taste test, so to speak, of what that is for the podcast listeners. So we appreciate you tuning in. We appreciate you being a part of this audience. This is one of the great joys that we have is having this conversation. It’s a one way conversation but having this conversation on a weekly basis and my hope is that we can connect in person some day, make it a two way conversation and continue to figure out ways that we can build things that have an impact on the world and have an impact on our lives. Thanks so much for tuning in and we will be back here next week. Until then, make it a great week. Thanks.

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