In episode 168 Megan shares important takeaways from all that 2020 taught us, because there was a lot we learned.
We cover key elements from the year like food bloggers are needed! Also diversifying streams of revenue is so important, technology can be our friend and being adaptable is vital.
- Technology rocks!
- The worlds needs us!
- It’s not all about me.
- White space protects you.
- We need structure.
- Diversify your revenue. You’ll be glad you did.
- Why aren’t you incorporating self-care into your life?
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Megan shares in episode 106 how to prepare for the unexpected by having your data backed up so you don’t find yourself stressed out.
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Hey Eat Blog Talkers! It’s just you and me today and today I’m going to talk through my top takeaways from 2020. First, though, real quick, I want to say thank you for listening. Thank you for being here and for coming back and listening week after week. I am grateful for you and I truly hope that you find value here because that is always my number one goal with this podcast.
If you would head over to itunes to subscribe, rate and review EBT I’d be so grateful. It literally takes 2 minutes to do this.. Those 2 minutes of your time are SO appreciated.. And they also add value to EBT, so thank you.. I’m really so grateful for every single person who takes the time to do this.
And are you thinking about diversifying your revenue streams in 2021? There are so many ways for food bloggers to make money in their businesses and we have a 100% FREE email course that will help you sort through some of the possibilities waiting for you. This email course will take you through 5 lessons that take a deep dive into monetization strategies that will help you boost your revenue quickly! Let’s get some extra cash flowing into your bank account in 2021! Go to EBT.com to get started!
If you are not a member inside the EBT membership community, this is a great time to join! We are implementing a new planning feature where we will do quarterly planning to keep you on track this year. Also in 2021 we will be sharing exclusive food blogger success stories in the membership, as well as bringing you new challenges and ways to connect with like-minded food bloggers. Go to EBT.com to become a member today!
Let’s chat about 2020 a bit. Just saying “2020” out loud can hit some nerves for a lot of us, I’m sure. It was quite a year. It was a year unlike any other. And it is a year none of us will ever forget. It’s really easy to talk about the negative points from the year, but that is not what I’m going to do today. Today I’m going to talk about the good things that came from it from the standpoint of a busy food blogger and entrepreneur.
Let’s do this top 10 style because that seems like a fun thing to do..
TOP TEN 2020 TAKEAWAYS…
#10- Technology rocks.
Thanks to the magic of technology we were able to stay virtually connected throughout 2020, the year of no in-person gatherings. Certainly because we were not allowed to gather in person, our time spent together virtually increased, which made me feel so much more connected with all of you. I made friends virtually in 2020 who I feel really connected to and who I would trust to watch my children. Even a few years ago that would have sounded nuts! I am grateful that I’ve been able to get to know so many incredible people, YOU included, thanks to the magic powers of the internet and technology. We all would certainly be insane right now without Zoom meetings and forums and emails, am I right?
#9- The world needs food bloggers.
There has never been a year when it’s been more evident that people need us! We obviously have always known this deep down because people need food to survive and most people need recipes in order to make food taste good. But after 2020, we actually SAW this in action. Not long after being told that we had to quarantine, masses of people began searching for recipes. Many of us saw huge surges in traffic because of this. I love that thought- that people came to US for quality recipes. Food bloggers made a difference in 2020, which means that we make a difference all the time. We provide value and quality to the people who need to eat (uh, everyone) and that is a huge confidence booster! Great job security, too. Nice work to YOU! Keep putting your content out into the world, knowing it is making a difference. Sometimes we need reminders about that, especially if we don’t believe our traffic is reflecting the amount of work we’re putting in. People need you and your efforts are making a difference.
#8- It’s not all about me.
When the craziness started going down last March, everything began to change for food bloggers. Suddenly people were stuck at home and needing to cook more than ever before. They started searching for easy recipes, staple recipes, etc. Our analytics changed drastically. I remember a few weeks in, looking at Google Analytics and thinking, “The people are here!” It was jolting evidence that I had an audience! People needed my content! They wanted my recipes! It’s so easy to carry on, week after week and month after month, thinking that intangible beings are generating the traffic stats that we peek at occasionally. The quarantine recipe surge was a solid reminder for me that those “intangible beings” are actual humans with needs and desires! I honed my Ideal Customer Avatar in 2020, which has helped me understand and connect with my audience tremendously. If you want to create your own ICA, we have a handy guide that walks you through this process. Grab your guide here today!
#7- Adaptability for the win.
I think we can all say that adaptability was a blog and business theme (as well as a personal theme!) in 2020. All of us had to adapt, and quickly, if we wanted to stay in the game. In March, things changed so drastically with how people were grocery shopping and making food at home. Yeastless bread recipes and simple-ingredient recipes were suddenly really important. The bloggers who saw this and pivoted were the ones who saw their traffic go way up. 2020 aside, food blogging is a constantly-changing game and the bloggers who are the most adaptable to that change are the ones who survive and thrive. Whether a pandemic strikes or a Google core update occurs or a new social media platform emerges, we HAVE to be able to adapt without groaning. Ok, maybe a little groaning is necessary, but then it’s time to shrug it off and carry on.
#6- White space protects you.
Creating white space in my life is not something I’ve done well until very recently (and you’ll hear a story about how doing this has literally transformed my life in Takeaway #1), but until you get to that point, consider how much white space you allow into your own life. If a new impossible-to-pass-down opportunity landed in your lap today, would you have the space to say YES to it? If a family member needed your attention for an entire day, would your entire month of work be totally thrown off? If something kept you from sleeping all night long, would you be unable to function for an entire week? Creating white space in your life and business may seem unnecessary and counterintuitive, but it’s going to save you in the long run. Schedule at least one “nothing” day per month into your calendar. Commit to stop working at a certain time every day. Schedule time with loved ones and protect that time fiercely. Stop looking at your phone and laptop before bed so your quality of sleep improves. These are all great ways to add safety margins to your life, which will give you wiggle room to experience life’s surprises without them sinking you.
#5- A structure should not be built on a pile of garbage.
This was a hard, deep-rooted lesson for me to learn. Since starting blogging ten years ago, all I have ever done is continue to pile content on top of content, repeat, repeat, repeat, without giving any consideration to the status of the content sitting on the bottom of that giant heap. This is how things used to be, before the different platforms began doing updates and algorithm changes were a common theme. This might seem like a strange concept to you if you’re a newer blogger, but not too long ago a blog post could take off without having a whole lot of value inside it. The first 500 or more blog posts I put on my site had decent photos, good recipes, but otherwise no real value. That’s a lot of low-quality garbage that was sitting at the very bottom of my heap of content. Halfway through 2020 I stopped creating new content and only republished old content, after adding value to it, of course. For the first time in my blog’s existence, I have a handle on the madness. I know exactly how many posts need to be updated. I have a PLAN in place, finally, and I will not be publishing ANY new content for the entire year of 2021. By the end of 2021, all of my content will be updated, and all of it will contain actual value for my readers. My heap of content will have no rotten bananas festering underneath the fresh-out-of-the-oven cheesecakes.
#4- Diversifying revenue is a good stress reliever.
Prior to 2020 I had 1.25 streams of revenue: ads on my site and the 0.25 of that number represents very half-hearted efforts with Amazon Associates affiliate sales. Today I have 9 streams of revenue, which seems crazy to even say out loud. Side note: most of the 9 streams don’t bring in bucketloads of money, but the money comes in nonetheless. Also prior to 2020, I was always stressed when summer rolled around because my traffic has historically dipped in the summertime which has always meant a dip in revenue. I would approach every summer on tiptoes and I’d start getting super stingy with my cash once spring rolled around in anticipation of what was to come. This was a problem! I love summer! And summer was constantly stressing me out. Now? It’s the beginning of the year, so my traffic and revenue have done their usual January dip, but I’m not frantic as I look ahead to summer. I have other things in motion that I can tap into to relieve stress. If you have limited streams of revenue like I did for so long, don’t stress! There’s never a bad time to expand your horizons AND there are so many ways to do this. At Eat Blog Talk we created a monetization ebook in 2020 to help you with this very problem. The book is called Conversations on Monetization and it is jam-packed with great ways to monetize, even if you already have a handful of avenues you’re currently juggling. Go to EBT.com or visit the show notes to grab your e-copy.
#3- There is always a positive spin and there is always room for light.
Most people, when asked about 2020, would probably refer to it as a dark year. It WAS tough, challenging, difficult and mind-boggling in so many ways and I don’t deny any of that. Those are the first words that come to mind because negativity tends to prevail over positivity, especially if you watch the news or have worriers in your life. Early in the summer of last year when alllll kinds of crazy stuff was going down, I made the decision to step away from the noise. I relied on getting important bits of news from my husband and his circle of friends (who stay well-informed) and I shut absolutely every other piece of noise out. For me that meant no news (although I don’t watch the news ever anyway), no Facebook and no spending time with people expressing anxious thoughts and ideas. Doing this enhanced the quality of my life drastically. (ps. I am not making a case for being uninformed.) Shutting out the noise allowed me to see the good things that were happening all around me. This snowballed into working on myself and also into many good things happening within my business and it really was a game changer. This applies to food blogging, too, because negative, scary and uncertain things happen all the time within our little world. Google updates and sweeping Pinterest changes and watching others succeed who have seemingly not worked as hard as you…there are all kinds of things we can get down in the dumps about if we allow the negativity to creep in. 2020 taught me that it is ok to shut out the noise, when needed, in order to see the many many good things that are surrounding me in any given moment. Once you begin to see more of the positive than the negative, you become a light. And when you are a light, YOU are a positive force that others appreciate. Whether a pandemic is happening or not, be a light in our little food blogging corner of the world. It doesn’t always seem possible, but it IS always possible.
#2- There’s never a better time than now.
2020 did a good job of teaching us all that life is short. Life is also precious and fragile and at any given moment a global pandemic and chaotic elections can flip us off our feet and turn our worlds upside down. With that in mind, there is never a better time than NOW to do those things your heart is calling you to do. For some of us, 2020 caused us to take action and others may have been stopped in their tracks (and for valid reasons). As I speak, you may have dreams for your business that have been brewing for a while. NOW is the time to bring them to life. WHY. NOT. Take one small step today toward making those dreams a reality.
#1 takeaway from 2020- Self care is KEY.
This was by far my biggest takeaway from 2020. I have talked about this in other episodes and on other podcasts, so bear with me if you’ve already heard this story but I feel it’s worth repeating because it was so transformative. And I’ve gotta give the pandemic and quarantine props because without them I don’t believe this would have dawned on me.
Last spring toward the end of the strictest part of quarantine (so, at the end of May) I noticed that I was feeling off-the-charts frazzled. Not “frazzled” in the I’ve-just-been-quarantined-at-home-for-months sort of way, but “frazzled” in the I’m-burnt-out sort of way. This did not make ANY sense to me because I hadn’t left my home in months, I had no new projects on my plate and nothing “extra” was going on in my life. I thought to myself, “Wait a second. Something is not right with this situation.” I knew in my gut that something was wrong and I knew some changes needed to be made. I took a long hard look at my priorities and my habits and realized that I just was not taking care of myself. At. All. I decided to do a little experiment. I made a few tweaks to my then-habits, which individually were small but added together were big. I knew I would have to keep up with the changes consistently, so I committed to not giving up. Here are the changes I made: I stopped checking email on my phone completely, which might not seem like a big deal to some of you, but for me it was a VERY big deal. I was a complete email junkie, checking it on my phone constantly. And for what?! I have no idea. I also started putting my work away at 5pm every night, even if I was right in the middle of a project. I put my laptop in another room to make sure I was never tempted by it. I also put restrictions on social media usage. After 3 months of this, I saw astounding results.
Changes in Personal life: All of my relationships improved. I was sleeping better, which helps everything, as you know. I was making better choices with what I was putting into my body. And I experienced a mental freedom and overall happiness that I’d never had before.
On a personal and mental level, 2020 was the happiest year of my life and I hesitate to say that out loud because there’s such a conflicting overall mood about the year, but.. it’s the truth. I’ve never felt more at peace with who I am and where I’m at and I’ve never been this anxiety-free and rested. I mean, I definitely have my days and weeks but overall, my experiment (that I’m still going strong with, by the way) was massively successful.
Changes in my Business: This is what I didn’t see coming. Things changed in my business in such a massive way during my little self-care challenge. I broke through to making 6 figures for the first time in my entire food blogging career. Work opportunities started falling into my lap. So many smart, inspiring peers and friends were suddenly in my life that I have learned so much from. I gained clarity about which projects I should be working on that were actually going to move my business forward.
All of this happened with much less time spent working than ever before. I spent so much less energy and less time with my laptop or phone staring at me and MORE time with my family and an explosion with my business.
So the moral of the story is this: Experiment with introducing more self-care into your life and you WILL see results if you commit to sticking with it. It seems totally counterintuitive that taking care of yourself and working less would bring about results, but this. works. Thank you, 2020, for that lesson because it may have taken me another entire decade to learn that without your jolting lessons.
That’s a wrap on my top ten takeaways from 2020, food bloggers! Send me an email and tell me what I missed. What did YOU take away from 2020?
As always, thanks for listening, food bloggers. I’ll see you next time..
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Questions or comments on this episode?
Head over to the Eat Blog Talk forum post about episode #168 to leave any questions or comments. We’d love to hear from you!