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Robert: welcome to the e-commerce marketing podcast today’s guest is Bjork Ostrom and Bjork is from pinchofyum.com/ food blogger pro and they also have two new endeavors. WP tasty, nutria Fox. Welcome to the podcast Bjork.
Bjork: Hey thanks Robert yeah we’re really excited to be here and to chat with you and to connect with people on the other side of the world or maybe in the same state or wherever they are that’s the amazing thing about podcasts right we can connect with people in all different places. So I’m really excited to be here.
Robert: Yeah we connect with everybody around the world. [01:32 inaudible] state.
Bjork: Yeah we’re in Minnesota so the Twin Cities area we have a studio in Minneapolis and then we actually live in St. Paul. So we get each one of the twin cities in usually each day.
Robert: Okay I’m actually located in Orlando in Florida.
Bjork: Yeah so we are on the opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of whether. You have like hot and muggy and humid and we have frigid and terribly cold. But we actually have nice summers. So yeah that one for us.
Robert: Yeah I don’t ever you guys I got away from the I came down here. The weather is good. But the only complaint is allergy, its allergy season right now. Other than that I love everything about.
Bjork: For sure for sure. Yeah a little Claritin.
Robert: Yeah so we, tell us about yourself.
Bjork: Sure so our online story in terms of our business is seven years ago almost now my wife Lindsey started a food and recipe website called pinch of YUM and she started that as a hobby and I at the time was super interested in online businesses. And that manifested itself not in actually creating businesses but just like reading a lot about them. And listening to podcasts like this one or eBooks and I worked at a non-profit NGO here in the Twin Cities. And so on my commute I would listen to these podcasts you know in audiobooks. So I’d listen to podcasts like misery or one of the books that I listen to was a Gary Vaynerchuk book. So I was really interested in learning about kind of the evolution of online marketplaces and business online and was lucky enough at my job to be able to take over some of the tech stuff at the nonprofit. And so I was able to do things from troubleshooting computers, to helping out building their website and at the same time Lindsay my wife was interested in starting this food and recipe site. And so I said hey I’d be interested in coming alongside you as you start to publish these recipes and take pictures of food and also consuming the food. But alongside consuming it and being what I called the CTO which was the chief tasting officer also being the chief technology officer of this tiny little blog that we had. And so that was seven years ago and slowly but surely over time Lindsay refined her craft with content creation and I started to learn more and more about building the blog as a business. And we built it up to the point where three years ago we transitioned into doing that full-time. And from that and that’s called pinch of YUM. From that blog we’ve used that as a launching platform for these three other sites that we have one is food blogger Pro which is a membership site. The other is WP tasty which you mentioned and WP tasty is WordPress plugins. And it will be themes for food blogs. People that create food and recipe websites and the last one is called nutria Fox. And nutria fox is a nutrition based website where at this point we allow people that create food and recipe content to really easily create a nutrition label. So we’ve really used it as a launching platform for these other businesses and you know whether it’s a membership site or a SAS business or WP Tasty, which is more like e-commerce software.
Robert: Okay so I’m excited that you’re on and first of all congratulations. You know just getting started first being a fan of online businesses and listening to the podcast and then you know throwing yourself out there, doing it yourself and scaling and build in these established businesses. So you’ve gone through the whole journey. How do you like the journey so far?
Bjork: It’s good you know and I think that’s a really good way to describe it as a journey. because so often what happens is people can get into it and they can hope that they build and scale something you know in six months and it’s so much more common for that to be six years not six months. Especially when you look at people’s extended story. So for me my extended story was for two years before I was doing any of this stuff for pinch of YUM I was you know not volunteering but I was picking up projects at my nonprofit working on websites or working with the IT related stuff. And so it takes a really really long time and that’s the mindset that we’ve adopted for a lot of the new things that we’re starting. you know we launched was maybe officially launched three months ago, this WP tasty and we only have one plugin that we’re offering right now. And we’re in the beginning stages again with this new business and for us what I’ve realized is I want to have both of the long term in the short term mindset with it. Short term being how can we as quickly as possible get this to a place where it’s an awesome solution for people. But I’m not going to get discouraged if I don’t see massive growth within the first year or even two years. because I know that it’s a really really long term game and I’m willing to spend five years, six years building some because I know that’s when the fruit of your labor or the fruit of the journey to tie back to what you the question that you asked, that’s when that fruit really starts to become fully developed and really sweet. And so it takes a long time and it is a journey and for those that are listening I want to encourage them and remind them that there are businesses that grow in scale and become massive in a year or two years. But it’s so much more common to put in a lot of time a lot of energy and to slowly but surely build something up. Especially if you’re bootstrapping. That’s a huge part of it. So yeah it’s a journey, we appreciate it and we want to enjoy the journey because that’s all that it is, right? a lot of times you get to that final destination and you realize it’s not as good as you thought it would be so how do you enjoy the journey and we’ve really taken on that mindset it’s a huge part of how we process through this experience in Building businesses online.
Robert: Yeah you definitely go through a mind shift when you’re in the journey. For whatever reason I don’t know but there’s something in us when you do start these new projects, on your business that you, I guess it’s ignorance maybe. And you’re uninformed that you think oh I can just have it happen overnight. And it doesn’t happen for everybody. It does happen in some cases but for majority of the people it does take time.
Bjork: It takes a long time yeah. And that’s why it’s so important to enjoy it because if you’re not enjoying it then it’s going to take years and so you’re going to be miserable for those years and years and years that it takes. The other thing is it might bring you to a place where you think that suddenly you’re going to be rewarded. But so often that reward isn’t as sweet as you think it would be whether it’s you know getting to a certain dollar amount or selling the business or whatever it is. Like that payoff is never quite as good as people think that it would be. At least in what I’ve seen from other people’s experiences. So then of the question is how you enjoy the journey that you’re actually on. I think it’s a huge part of it.
Robert: Okay so let’s get to helping everybody who’s in the journey and get to the good stuff. So tell us, you guys, you have a lot of things happening in your portfolio. You have like four websites, four separate businesses. But tell us what are the top marketing strategies that you’re using to grow them right now.
Bjork: Sure for us it all comes back to content marketing so we’re not doing any type of intense paid marketing. We have a few really basic things on Facebook set up like you know we’re retargeting people that come to the site. So that would be a really quick takeaway. if people don’t have that set up to put the Facebook pixel on your site so it’s at least collecting information not that you even need to be running ads on it. But if you’re collecting information via the Facebook pixel what that allows you to do is to gather up a little bit of data that you can then mark it against or mark it through down the line. So if people haven’t done that yet I encourage you to do that so we have some basic retargeting set up. But the biggest thing for us is content marketing so and using the platforms that we have to cross pollinate with the other brands. So for pinch of YUM for example, it’s a food and a recipe website. One of the most important things for food and recipe website is to have you know the recipe displayed in a certain way. And you do that through a plugin and so we created a plugin and then we have a small little attribution that says powered by you know tasty recipes which is the plug-in name. So us it allows us to not only publish a recipe, but it’s also a little bit of marketing that we have towards another product that we have. And we do a lot of that throughout the different businesses that we have. We try and cross promote across the different businesses. Same with food bloggers Pro the membership site that we have. For people that are interested in starting a food blog we talk about that on pinch of YUM and encourage people to go to those other places. one of the things that we’re really excited to do moving forward is to start to lean into some of the more intentional paid marketing type of content and what we’ll look at first would be doing some type of lead generation process that would be triggered by Facebook advertising and I think we would focus on doing some type of webinar with that. But we’ve played around with it a little bit but we haven’t done a ton of that. So it’s really for us it’s been social media and search. The two most important for us obviously Google for Search. But Pinterest for social media is really important. So we’ve been really intentional try and take awesome photographs and have stuff that’s really well designed so people want to share it. That’s been a huge part of it as well. But the bottom line for us is really content marketing and really spending a lot of time and energy crafting high quality content.
Robert: Okay so with your content marketing is your goal for just getting indexed and bringing traffic to the website. Okay so it does the goal whether you’re doing content in, actually let’s break down the different types of content you do and you’ve mentioned pictures for Pinterest. I’m assuming you guys also do yeah like with blogging. So what are the, are you guys doing videos or what are the different types of content [11:42 inaudible].
Bjork: Yeah so the core of what we do is blog posts and that’s Lindsay. So if you go to pinch of M calm you would see Lindsay’s publishing recipes on a consistent basis. And for pinch of yum. One of the main ways that we’re monetizing is not an e-commerce site not first and foremost. So it’s traditional display advertising and it’s also affiliate marketing. So that’s a huge part of the content marketing. But also within pinch of yum once a month we’ll do a blogging report. We say here’s the details behind the scenes look at pinch of YUM. The things that we did, the things that work, the things that didn’t work. We call those income and traffic reports. That’s a content marketing piece for food bloggers Pro our membership site, that’s a huge part of it. We also do a ton of video and we do video primarily on Instagram and Facebook. But then we also included on posts. it’s a huge SEO boost for posts because one of the things that Google will track is, is a page a really good solution for somebody when they come to that page like did it answer their question and one of the best ways they can track that is by seeing if the person comes back to the search results page. So let’s say you type in chocolate-chip cookies you see pinch of YUM has a result on that. You click on it. What you do is you’ll scroll a little bit and then you’ll see a video you could click play and then you are kind of engaged with that post. You probably won’t go back to the search results and look for something else. That tells Google that okay this was a really good post, this was a good solution and that gives you a little SEO boost. Because you didn’t go back and try find a different recipe. So video is really important on the content side for us. And then we also do a weekly podcast. So we do the food bloggers pro podcast which is a once a week. Interview show similar to this. Where we interview people that are either in the food and recipe space or experts that can speak into the food and recipe space. And that’s been a really big important piece for us. Just like the people that are listening to this. After the show they’re going to be like oh I understand who Bjork is a little bit more. Because I’ve heard him I’ve connected with him. There’s more trust which is the ultimate you know value exchange, it’s not money it’s trust that’s the biggest bottom line with anything online. And so you know just like people know you Robert a little bit better because of this podcast, people now will know me a little bit better. Podcasting has been a really important piece of the puzzle for us and a really significant way that we’ve connected with people and established trust. So if I were to rank them in terms of importance number one would be a typical standard blog post with photos that would drive traffic via SEO and Pinterest. number two would be video for engagement that would be going through Instagram Facebook and then the post itself and then number three would be the podcast which has a really high touch high impact but not as high in the numbers.
Robert: Okay and you mentioned in your monthly report you look at some of the strategies that didn’t work. so what are some strategies you guys tried and after you look at the numbers you say you know what this is not happening for us, let’s forget them and just focus on some other things.
Bjork: Yeah for sure one of the things that you know interestingly enough that we haven’t spent a ton of time on is things like keyword research and doing really intensive SEO investigating and what we found was SEO is both an art and a science. right so this science part of it is looking at numbers seeing what weak keywords are trying to find ways to build links to content by reaching out to people or encouraging other sites to link back to your content. I think that’s really important and realistically it’s probably something that we could do. But what we found is for who we are our personality both Lindsay and I, that’s not the most exciting thing for us. And if this goes back to the journey comment that we talked about before. We that this is a really long journey we know that it’s three four or five years before we can really start to see traction on a new idea that we’re implementing. so for us we want to figure out how can we do something that’s successful and the biggest way to do something that’s successful is to find something that we enjoy getting into and working on and enjoy the process of like the grit of it, right. So showing up every day, putting in the hard work. Not that hard work has to feel crappy. Like hard work can feel good but it doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It’s still hard work. But that has to align with your passion and interest and so for us we’ve kind of you know experimented with doing more of the science side of SEO. But we found that it didn’t really work for us because of our personalities. We really love to think about what is the content that we enjoy working on, the content that we enjoy spending time with. Whether that’s a recipe or a type of content like producing a video or doing a podcast. And then how do we really lean into that which allows us to do something for a really long time.
Robert: Okay so one last question what is one thing that you tell an e-commerce business or any business person right now. What is one thing piece of advice you give them on what they should do right now today to make the business happen.
Bjork: Yeah I think that’s a great question so I would say today I would take one hour of your time and I would not work on your business I would shut down your computer. I would turn off your phone and I would think really really long and hard about what are the things that I can do and enjoy doing and maybe journal that out or list that out. And then think about are these things that I’m actually working on and doing in my day to day, in my business and that’s not because you want to be doing something, I mean you do. You want to be working on something that you’re passionate about. But it’s not like the solution to every business is like work on what you’re passionate about and then income will come from it. The important thing is figuring out what can you work on really hard for a long period of time and then once you have that filter I would take a really long hard look and say, is there potential for a business in this space and I would almost always say there would be somewhere. And then is what I’m doing actually in that space. Like does it line up with that stuff that I’m really passionate and interested in and can spend a lot of time on? Because if it’s not then what’s going to happen is you’re going to get a year down the line or two years down the line. and that’s probably not going to change you’re going to still be working on those things that you might not be as excited about and so often in our life we can go head down and we can work work work work work and we never take a moment to step back and say is this the stuff that I actually want to be doing or am I just chasing after some fleeting goal, which I think that I’ll get through this Avenue. Whether that be money or freedom of time. Whatever it is there’s a lot of these goals that we chase. But the path that we’re taking to get to that goal isn’t actually something that lines up with us or that we really enjoy in terms of who we are and what we want to be doing. So, not that you can’t get to that goal at all. But just look at the path that you’re on and see if you can shift that a little bit. Might being working in a different business. It might mean shifting how you’re working in your business. Might mean shifting who you’re working with. But it really encouraged people to step back and take that fifty thousand foot view of their business in what they’re doing as opposed to being on the ground and in the dirt all the time.
Robert: Okay Bjork thanks for being on the podcast. How can people reach you?
Bjork: Thanks. Yeah so I’m not super active on Twitter. But if people want to reach out to me on Twitter they can. It’s Bjork Ostrom. otherwise any of the sites that we mentioned pinchofYUM, food bloggers Pro, nutria Fox or WT tasty, they all can reach out to [19:06 inaudible] and connect with us on any of those sites.
Robert: Again Bjork thanks for being on the podcast.
Bjork: Really appreciate it Robert, yeah thanks so much for having me.
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