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Episode 037: Create Custom Products People Will Devour With Barbara Hobart

In episode 037 we talk with Barbara Hobart, an entrepreneur with many different businesses that support bloggers. Barbara helps people create custom branded products to promote your business as well as has affordable backdrops and currently is blogging as well.

We cover information about why you should consider putting your logon on favorite items for both giveaways as well working with manufacturers to create a custom item you can sell on your site.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.


Guest Details

Connect with Home Plates Wholesale
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
Barbara Hobart has been creating custom products since 1994 through her company HomePlates Worldwide. She invented the first decorative light switch cover which required no rewiring and launched her company in the UK and Australia. Her most recent product line Best Ever Backdrops is geared toward food bloggers and photographers. When she’s not creating her own products, she develops and manufactures products for hundreds of companies large and small and is launching her course Private Label Brand Academy which teaches you how to create your own products so you can generate revenue, build brand awareness, and stop promoting someone else’s brand.

Takeaways

  • Creating a custom product can benefit a blogger.

  • Custom products create brand awareness and brand identity. 

  • Besides keeping your brand in the hands of followers, they can be used for giveaways and contests.  
  • Anyone and everyone should have their brand on custom products. Whether you’re a new blogger or a large blog with lots of followers, custom products are a must have.

  • Stop sending your audience away to purchase these from someone else and hope they use your affiliate link. Barbara can help you make your own and get your logo on the products too. 
  • Products you sell would be something you naturally use daily – you want something you can market effortlessly. Reusable grocery totes, coffee mugs, cell phone stands, cell phone pop its, water bottles, pens. Pay attention to what is being used around you and what people like to have in hand and use daily.

  • A misconception is you have to order 1000’s of stock to keep on hand. You can do a print on demand option and order one at a time. 
  • Budget determines what you can do for a specific product you are coming up with – modifications and style would be considered as well as budget and quantity that you want to have. 

  • If you have a product to purchase on your site, you can use these as giveaways to gain someone’s email address. If you only sold on Amazon, you wouldn’t be able to get the email address but when its hosted on your site, you can. 

  • Sell on your website, as well as on IG and FB. Amazon, or Buy It Live.

  • Barbara started her Private Label Brand Academy which is an online course that walks you through how to create your own products.

  • Private Label Brand Academy is a course which teaches bloggers how to create their own product line so they don’t have to rely on ad revenue or affiliate links and just promotes their own line — and brand.

Resources Mentioned

Instant Potluck

Private Label Brand Academy

Home Plates Wholesale

Best Ever Backdrops

How Instant Potluck was created

Ready to learn more about selling products?

Jason Logsdon hops on episode 104 and shares about creating courses.


Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro (00:01):

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog and we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself, because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta (00:23):

Okay, food bloggers. Have you heard of Flodesk, the new big email marketing rage? This is an amazing new option for managing your email subscriber list. It is super easy to use and it comes with gorgeous, intuitive drag and drop templates. And Flodesk does not charge based on the number of subscribers. So your monthly rate will stay the same from month to month. Everyone pays $38 a month or uses my affiliate link to get 50% off and pay only $19 a month. You guys, this is a fraction of the price of other email service providers, and you’ll be blown away by the beautiful and intuitive templates waiting for you inside. Visit eatblogtalk.com/resources to grab your link. Flodesk, the stunning new option for email marketing.

(01:11):

Hello, food bloggers. Welcome to the Eat Blog Talk podcast made for you, food bloggers who are seeking value for your blogs and your lives. In today’s episode, I will be talking to Barbara Hobart from homeplateswholesale.com, and we will be discussing creating custom products that food bloggers will devour. Barbara has been creating custom products since 1994 through her company home plates worldwide. She invented the first decorative light switch cover, which required no rewiring and launched her company in the UK and Australia.

(01:45):

Her most recent product line, Best Ever Backdrops, is geared toward food bloggers and photographers. When she’s not creating her own products. She develops and manufactures products for hundreds of companies, large and small, and is launching her course Private Label Brand Academy, which teaches you how to create your own products so you can generate revenue, build brand awareness and stop promoting someone else’s brand.

(02:35):

Hey Barbara, I am really eager to dive into this topic today, but before we do that, give us a quick fun fact about yourself.

Barbara Hobart (02:44):

Okay. Well, it’s great to be here. Thanks for having me. Well, the one thing people probably don’t know is that my real profession, I’m actually a television writer producer.

Megan (02:56):

That’s so cool.

Barbara (02:58):

Yeah. I, my entire career writing. So I inadvertently ended up manufacturing products, and it kind of stuck.

Megan (03:08):

It’s so funny how things inadvertently happen when you don’t expect them to, and then they turn out being something that you love. I love tha.

Barbara (03:15):

Absolutely. I never expected to actually end up as a television comedy writer/manufacturer.

Megan (03:20):

Yeah, that’s quite a combo.

Barbara (03:24):

Yeah. It’s also weird on a business card. Actually what happened was I was living in Los Angeles because right now I’m based in Chicago, but what happened was I was on a hiatus from a show and I didn’t feel like writing, as most writers do. And I was goofing around in my garage and I had just bought a new house and it was in the nineties. So sponge painting was really big. And I had apparently sponge painted every vertical surface in the entire house. Mini Martha Stewart here. And I saw these white lights, which were on the wall and I thought, Hmm. And you know, back then, I know this is hard to believe, but back then there was really no such thing as decorative light switch plate covers.

Megan (04:21):

Oh, okay.

Barbara (04:23):

It was like not a thing or a product. Anyways. I was doing decoupage and glue and paper. And I was being crafty or whatever. Mainly as I said, because I didn’t really feel like writing. And so I put them all up over the house and some friends had said Oh my God, these are really cute. And they said you should sell these. I said, well, I kind of have a job at the studio. I ended up hiring some stay-at-home moms and we started making them and it was not really lucrative, but you know, then some stores kind of liked them and I started selling them. And again, they were handcrafted. So this was going on until around 2003, believe it or not. And I was in London visiting some friends and they had just redecorated their entire kitchen, this beautiful Italian tile. And on their backsplash were these like hideous white square light switches. So I said to my friend, Jonathan, let me make you a decorative light switch cover. He goes, you can’t. I said, well, what do you mean? I can’t. And in England, their switches are physically molded into the plastic and then wired into the wall, unlike ours in America, our light switch covers in the wall and then you just take off the light switch and then you replace it. Okay. So I said, you mean like the whole country is like this? And he says, yeah. And so I went, huh. So I went back to Los Angeles two days later and I said I’m inventing a light switch cover that requires no rewiring.

Megan (05:57):

I love it.

Barbara (05:59):

Now I’m a comedy writer. And I don’t even know what the word injection molding is. I don’t even know what I’m inventing, but I’m inventing something. And sure enough, I figured it out. And nine months later I launched my company in England.

Megan (06:12):

That is so awesome.

Barbara (06:13):

And I Introduced the first decorative lights, which cover that required no rewiring and Home Plate was born. And I had a bunch of different designs, but mainly I became a manufacturer for brands. And my first major company that found me at a trade show was Laura Ashley. And so they gave me all their wallpapers and I basically took them and matched them so it was like a seamless look. Now, mind you, this is really before the internet was huge and big and whatever. So there was no Facebook. There was no, this is like two years before fire was invented. Anyway, so that’s how I got started. And from there, it kind of developed into my creating custom products.

Megan (07:02):

I love that. So what a great fun fact too, that you have such a diverse background and then you just really saw a need for something and just made it happen. And like you said, you had no knowledge in certain aspects of the process, but yet you knew that it could be profitable and worthwhile. So you made it happen. That’s super inspiring. So let’s dive into this. You already gave us your fun fact. Let’s talk about creating a custom product that food bloggers specifically are going to love and devour. So, many food bloggers, myself included, rely solely or largely, I should say, on ad revenue for income. Affiliate programs and brand partnerships are also ways to tap into extra revenue, but there are other ways to bring in more money that a lot of us don’t pay enough attention to, like you’ve pointed out Barbara. And that is to create a product line that can be sold to and will also benefit food bloggers. So I think a great place to start Barbara is to tell us how creating a custom product can benefit us and benefit our brands.

Barbara (08:09):

Okay, perfect. The main thing I think is that custom products create brand awareness and build your brand identity. Custom products keep your brand in the hands of your followers and they can be used for other things other than just generating revenue. They can also be used for contests and giveaways. And there’s nothing worse that I see is that when somebody spends all this time and effort building their blog and you get people to your blog, however you do your marketing, whether it’s Instagram or Pinterest or Facebook or your email list. As you get them there then you’re sending them away to purchase products made by other companies. So here’s a really good example. Let’s say you do meal prep, okay. And so you have these great meal prep recipes and ideas, and then everybody wants them. So they’re downloading that. And then you’re using an affiliate link for instance, to food storage containers, because they have to put their foods that they prepared in something. And then you’re sending them off to go buy Oxxo food storage containers. So the only two people that are getting rich on this are Oxxo and Amazon. So it’s really simple. If you want to create your own line of food storage containers, I can help you do that. And there’s so many different ones to choose from. You could do glass or plastic or silicone or reusables, disposables. And the thing that’s the most important is to get your logo in your brand, on your product.

Megan (09:54):

That’s fascinating. And I can probably speak for a lot of food bloggers by saying that this is not something that’s on our radar and it’s not something we think of. We love promoting the products that we love. And we typically don’t think to stand outside the box and look at another option, like you’re mentioning. We can actually create products. So I like your idea of just taking something simple, like meal storage containers and putting your own spin on it and creating it to fit your needs, whether it’s plastic or a combination of plastic and glass or whatever it is and getting your own name on it. Oh, I just absolutely love that idea.

Barbara (10:35):

Absolutely. The thing is, let’s say everybody’s going to the grocery store. Well, have your own grocery tote. Have something that has your logo that also just like when you’re walking down the street with like a cup, let’s say from Starbucks, that’s free advertising. So when people are walking around with your tote bag, they’re seeing your brand.

Megan (10:56):

And the sky really is the limit. I mean, think about all the products that we use daily. And I don’t know, I’m just, as you’re talking, I’m thinking, I’m going to start paying attention more to what I’m using and what I’m interacting with daily and could I make it better?

Barbara (11:11):

Absolutely. That’s one of the things that I have in the course is that you look at the products that you are using every day and you’re promoting. One of the things is most people have fear that they’re going to have to buy tens of thousands of things and hold a lot of inventory or turn their dining room into a mailing house. There’s so many different types of things and it’s not just for food bloggers. I mean, it could be a lifestyle blogger or a beauty blogger, but all the products that you use on a daily basis that people ask, “where’d you get that”? I mean, how many times do people say, Oh my God, I love that. Where did you get that?

Megan (11:52):

So often. Yup.

Barbara (11:53):

Absolutely. And so this is something where you can actually now have your own brand awareness and building your identity, because the thing that you really want is to have your brand in the hands of your followers every day. One of the products that’s really cool that a lot of people may have heard of, for instance, a lot of people don’t know what Swedish dishcloths are. They’re biodegradable and they’re compostable. They last six to nine months. You can put a fabulous design on them and people do the dishes and wash up every day. So why not have your logo or your brand on that Swedish dishcloth. So there’s like a ton of different things you could do that are something that you may not have even thought of.

Megan (12:42):

So I think that’s a good place to start. Just kind of paying attention to what you are using and then also pay attention to what people are saying to you. Oh, that’s a great cup. Where’d you get that? I like that because I hear that all the time. And I see that all the time too, when I’m interacting with people. People I don’t even know. I’m like, Oh my gosh, I love that cup. Tell me where you got it. So just kind of taking a note of that, I think is a good place to start. And as far as food blogging related products, as you’re taking photos or video, or as you’re in the kitchen cooking or baking, there are so many things that we interact with daily.

Barbara (13:18):

Well, here’s something that’s interesting that people may not have thought about.

Megan (13:21):

Yeah, let’s hear it.

Barbara (13:23):

Everybody uses spices. Yeah. Everybody uses salt and pepper. Why not put your logo on Himalayan pink salt, and pepper. Or there’s a different spice blend or certain types of barbecue rubs or whatever, you can basically create your own spice line.

Megan (13:46):

Yeah. That’s great. I mean, we don’t have to overcomplicate this. It can be something as simple as salt and pepper or spices.

Barbara (13:54):

And it’s in their hands everyday.

Megan (13:54):

Or containers that they go into even. Okay. So if we are going to create a custom product and we’ve been pondering this and we kind of come up with a few ideas, what is our next step to take?

Barbara (14:09):

Well, there’s a couple of ways to think about this. You can either do something where you’re using a print on demand service. There’s a ton out there right now, so in other words, if you don’t really want to go purchase stock and hold inventory, not that you’d be physically holding it, we’ll get into that because there’s fulfillment centers or fulfilled by Amazon or mailing houses you can use. But let’s say you just want to create some products that are ordered as orders come in. For instance, whether they’re mugs or a t-shirt or an apron, or there’s a ton of different print on demand services that you can create your own product and just order one at a time. So you don’t have to hold stock. So that’s one way. Now a lot of these companies have a lot of different products too that can be made. For instance, a line of spices or a line of food storage containers, those may not be available.

Speaker 3 (15:12):

For instance, something like my company, called Home Plates Worldwide, there’s about 500,000 products on the backend of my website. So in other words, if you wanted to type into the search engine, food storage containers, or stainless steel kids water bottles, a whole array of products are going to come up and you can choose them by color or by size or by style, and then have those decorated with your logo. And there’s a lot of companies that do premiums and promotions and giveaways, or you could shop on Home Plates and search out the type of product that’s going to really fit your brand.

Megan (15:57):

Yeah. So you can do kind of a print on demand service, or you could do something even more custom. And I think Googling that is probably a good place to start. What, if you want to know how competitive the product is. There’s a lot of other competition out there that’s doing the same thing and maybe you don’t want to go there. Is that something you look at?

Barbara (16:20):

Yes, I do. For instance, if somebody is coming to your site, you already have them, you already have them as a follower. In other words, your meal prep recipes in your brand and your style is going to be unique to you. I mean, let’s say there’s hundreds and hundreds of meal preppers; everybody’s a little bit different. And the way they go about creating their strategy. So in other words, your products that you’re going to create are going to be unique to you and how you sell them. So in other words, somebody that’s doing meal prep for kids may not be doing the same type of meal prep as somebody that is dealing with working millennials that want to bring their lunch to work. So in the marketplace if we look anywhere on Amazon or anywhere in any store, you’re going to see hundreds of different water bottles. And it’s really up to you, how to make it unique to your brand and your style.

Megan (17:21):

Yeah, definitely only we know how to put those special touches on our own things. Right. Nobody can tell you how to put your own touch on something,

Barbara (17:31):

Right? Like for instance, I’m doing a line of food storage containers and lunch bags. I’m doing it for a couple of different types of companies right now. And yes, they are a lunch bag, but they’re completely different because of the style of each of the companies and brands. One is completely organic and is done in organic materials. And the other one is a plastic.

Megan (18:02):

Nice. So what do you recommend for a product that someone has an idea for that needs to be completely manufactured from scratch?

Barbara (18:13):

Well, it really depends on the budget. There are hundreds of thousands of products that are ready-made. But depending on the budget and depending on what types of modifications are needed, I would really have to take a look at that and see if there’s something that we can modify inexpensively and what the investment is, could you order all a hundred of something or would you have to order a thousand of something? It really depends on the product itself.

Megan (18:45):

Okay. So it’s just a case by case basis for that sort of thing.

Barbara (18:51):

Pretty much. I’m currently modifying something from our client right now and that product does not have huge minimums, but some do. And it really depends on also, can we make something work that already exists? It really depends on the product.

Megan (19:09):

Yeah. So speaking specifically to food bloggers, because I know that food bloggers are going to start thinking in terms of food blogging and what makes our lives easier, or maybe what makes someone who reads our blogs life easier, how do we figure out what those products are?

Barbara (19:30):

Well, I think that we kind of touched on this briefly. The products that you are going to sell or something that naturally fits into your brand. Maybe it’s something you’re already using today. Do you work out and do you use the same water bottle all the time? Or the same mug or the same measuring ingredients or the same spatulas or the same utensils? For instance, maybe a food storage bag. I mean, they come in everything from silicon, you might want to just take a look at all of your affiliate links that you’re currently using right now for other people’s products and see what’s the most popular, or just look at what’s in each of your recipes and what it is that you’re promoting. Let’s say you’re doing pastry. That’s going to probably be a very different type of a product that you might want to come up with. Maybe there’s spatulas versus somebody that’s going to end up with kids’ meals. So it’s really what is in each recipe that you’re doing. And what are the tips that you promote and what products go along with those, that’s going to start to give you a really good idea of what type of a product that you want to create.

Megan (20:44):

So in addition to just keeping an on the world around you and what people are saying, like we had talked about a little bit earlier, also keep an eye on your affiliate links, what you are linking t,o what you are recommending within your blog posts and in your emails and your subscriber lists. Look inside your recipes. I love that recommendation, Barbara, that’s such a great tip because we all have stuff that we recommend in our notes sections or within our posts that we use all the time. Maybe even unknowingly, there are plenty of products that I talk about, and I’m not an affiliate, you know, I’m not promoting their affiliate link necessarily, but I love them. So just keeping an eye on the outside world, but also kind of what’s going on inside of our blogs as well.

Barbara (21:32):

Absolutely.

Megan (21:33):

Yeah. I really liked that. And we mentioned this before, but just products that we use for photography, you developed a backdrop for photography. So tell us how you kind of figured out that people were needing that and how that process went.

Barbara (21:47):

Oh, absolutely. So I inadvertently also became a food blogger. About a year ago.

Megan (21:55):

Inadvertently came, became a food blogger.

Barbara (21:57):

Yeah, I did. So this is what actually happened. And this is interesting about how doing one thing leads to another because I never, in a million years, even though I’ve been creating products since 1994, this is something this opportunity to create this backdrop company came from a completely different area. So what happened was, I always loved cooking. And when I became single, after an 18 year relationship ended, I kind of stopped eating. I just stopped cooking and I just didn’t really want to go to all that trouble and fuss just for myself. Now everything is okay, but this is how I actually built a new company from this breakup. I was on Facebook and a friend of mine had mentioned this thing called the Instant Pot. I was like, well, what the hell is that?

Barbara (22:57):

And they’re making all these things and I thought this kind of looks interesting. Now my mother never actually had a pressure cooker or a crockpot. My mother never found that but she was a fabulous, fabulous cook. Well, this is kind of interesting. Then all of a sudden I noticed like everybody on the planet is talking about Instant Pot. I’m going to go get an instant pot. So I go get one and I’m honestly thinking how much food could I make for one person? So I got the mini. So I ended up getting the three quart and this appliance changed my life. And I got crazy obsessed with this Instant Pot. And then of course I was running out of food storage containers, because I was making so much food and starting to have dinner parties again, and really enjoying cooking and entertaining like I used to. I was running out of food storage containers and I said, what could I use? And I wanted something cute and fun and decorative. And there was like nothing out there. So I think you will, where can I get that? And I went, Oh, well, that would be me. So I ended up creating this line of Instant Potluck. The name of the blog is Instant Potluck. And I ended up creating food storage containers that you could personalize with your name on them. Because I was giving them as gifts. It kind of was also a throwback to my mother, Bernice, where when she would give everybody leftovers, she would use an old, cool whip and stick a piece of masking tape on it and write their name, love Bernice. And so I wanted to kind of do a tribute to my mom. So that’s why I created these, that you could write your own names. You could write your name on it.

Megan (24:47):

That’s so cool.

Barbara (24:51):

So I created these little food storage containers and a bunch of other little products. I was going to have just a website selling these products. And everybody says, well, Barbara, you need a blog. I don’t want to blog. They go, well, you’re a writer. I said, well, I don’t want to do that. They go, you need one. I was like all right, fine. I’ll do it. So anyway, I ended up creating, I didn’t even know what a food blog was.

Megan (25:16):

But people were telling you to make one.

Barbara (25:19):

So people are telling me to make one, they tell me you’re funny, write one, whatever. Cut to the chase. I do this food blog. On it I have all these cute little products and the little sleigh trays and the serving plates and some really fun salt and pepper shakers, just really cute little products. And they started to sell out and people just love them because everybody has potlucks and they wanted to give gifts of food. So that was fun. But what happened was, I met a food photographer. I cook really great food. I started to find all of my mother’s recipes. I started making them and I started really having fun in the kitchen again. But when I started looking at my pictures, they were so hideous that I can’t even, I am just not a photographer.

(26:08):

So I had to hire food photographers. I was working with some really great people. I’m watching them schlep and lift these ridiculously heavy, crazy boards, slabs of marble and these crazy like heavy woods things. And I said, my God, are you like getting a gold medal in weightlifting? I mean, you’re a food blogger and a photographer. So I was sitting in my office and I thought these people were insane. Does everybody do this? They’re like, yeah, pretty much. I said that’s stupid. I’m sitting in my office and I  said, I’ll just make them. I know every material known to man, how to make a product that’s going to work for a specific application just because I’ve been doing it so long. So I realized, what is needed, they need to be ridiculously lightweight. They need to be a hundred percent waterproof. They need to be completely stain resistant and virtually indestructible and non-glare. In about an hour, I created them and I launched my company at the Everything Food Conference.

Megan (27:19):

Wow. That’s very inspiring. I love that you wrapped your head around what qualities you knew that would be needed and then just established that and then just launched into it.

Barbara (27:33):

Absolutely. And it’s really simple. People think it’s very daunting to create your own product. I mean, the thing is doing it. It’s not creating it. I was talking to somebody a few months back and they said, it’s in my five-year plan. I go, what are you doing Tuesday? What are you waiting five years for? It’s crazy, because from my creating Instant Potluck, which by the way, is being rebranded into, believe it or not, my mother Bernice. Because basically what I’m doing is I’m taking her recipes, her traditional wonderful recipes. And I’m also making them in the Instant Pot and I’m doing a cookbook, which is going to be coming out and that’s kind of another project. But one of the things I would never have created these backdrops if I had not done the other thing first. So I never knew that creating a backdrop company was going to be there. So when you have an idea to do something, do it.

Megan (28:39):

So true. And I think we’re all so good at not doing it or putting things off. I just read a quote literally this morning, it went, Something like someday is not a day in the week. So I hate the word someday, personally, because for me that means never. If you say, Oh, someday I’ll have X or do X. That basically means that you are planning to never do it because someday is not achievable. I like what you said, Barbara, how about Tuesday? Sounds good. Make a plan and make it happen.

Barbara (29:10):

That’s my mantra. Because also in five years I could be dead. I mean, I hate to say that, but the thing is everybody is worried about what they’re doing now. But if what they’re doing now and they’re worrying about it, then something’s not working. I see so many people spinning their wheels. I’ve got to get like X amount of traffic to my blog so I could get this advertiser. Well, do you really want those advertisers on your blog distracting from your blog?

Megan (29:40):

The question of the century.

Barbara (29:43):

A lot of people are making a lot of money doing that. So if that’s working for you, do it. But the thing is, there’s other ways to go about it. When somebody comes to your website and you’re giving away a lot of free stuff and you got that pop-up that comes up to join my mailing list. People don’t know if they want to join your mailing list until they see what you have to offer. So they’re obviously going there for some reason, because maybe they want to read that recipe. Get them to your recipe first. The thing is you might have this product that you want to give away because you really value that follower and you want to turn them into a customer. So a lot of having custom products is also to generate brand awareness and use these as premium and promotional items.

Megan (30:33):

Yeah. I love that. So not necessarily

Barbara (30:36):

A huge way to build a following.

Megan (30:39):

Not necessarily starting with a big product that you’re going to create and sell, but maybe just starting with a product that you can use as a giveaway item for people who come to your site and see that you’re trustworthy and appreciate you, send them that little token of thanks for coming and looking. And that could be really anything because the sky’s the limit with food related and blogging related items.

Barbara (31:06):

Send them your salt and pepper shakers that you created. Because the next time they’re going to come back and they’re going to buy.

Megan (31:13):

They appreciate those little tokens.

Barbara (31:14):

Because let’s say it’s even five bucks. I’m just picking a number. This is one other thing that’s really important to stress. You want their email. When you’re selling something on Amazon, it’s Amazon’s client, not yours. You don’t have their email address. You can’t email them. So if every social media thing went down, you’re relying on them. You want their email. So you want to build a relationship with them and if it means sending them a gift, send it to them for signing up or send it your salt and pepper shakers, or your Swedish dishcloth, whatever it is that you want, a fabulous mug with a really funny saying on it. Let’s say you have silicone food storage bags for them to take their lunch in. There’s a million, million different products that you could use as a giveaway or to sell.

Megan (32:15):

I experimented with this a little bit early on in my blogging career. And I have a friend who runs a promotional products business, so it was kind of like a no brainer. I would test some things out. So I did the standard by putting my logo on a pen. I did a t-shirt, I did measuring spoons, but the one product that really killed it, that people loved was a little phone stand that had my logo on it. People loved it because I am a recipe blog. So when they’re in the kitchen, looking at my recipe on their phone or their iPad, they can set it on the stand. And I have people ask me all the time, do you have any more of those phone stands?

Barbara (33:00):

You’re not going to believe this. I’m staring at one right now because I make those.

Megan (33:04):

They’re valuable.

Barbara (33:08):

You’re looking at it every single day. They’re looking at that and your website address. Yep. That’s brilliant. I love that you do that because I have mine here, sitting right here on my desk.

Megan (33:20):

I have one on my desk. I have them all over my house. I have one in my kitchen and I look at it all the time. So my logo is probably ingrained in a lot of people’s heads without even knowing it. But that’s good. That’s what we’re wanting. We’re wanting to get our names and our brands out there.

Barbara (33:38):

Here’s something crazy too. Every single person has a cell phone. What’s the most annoying thing that happens when you don’t have it charged? A battery charger that has your logo on it.

Megan (33:56):

Oh that’s a good idea.

Barbara (33:56):

I mean, that’s something that’s just like a great piece of swag and that thing is going to be in their hand for the rest of their lives.

Megan (34:03):

Absolutely. Little things like that that you really don’t think about. That’s why we kind of talked about this early on in our conversation. Just keeping an eye, really a detailed, focused eye on every single thing you’re looking at throughout the day and kind of go from there. Do you think that this is something that all bloggers should consider or is this more for if someone is just jumping into the scene?

Barbara (34:30):

I have a thing of who should be selling custom products. Anybody with even a couple of a hundred followers up to tens of thousands followers because the thing is, if you are just starting out, you need something unique to either give away, or that is so unique to your product that’s going to increase your following. Or if you already have tens of thousands of followers, it’s tied to increase your brand. Stop selling other people’s products, Anybody that has an email list or wants to build their email list, anybody that’s selling, we’ve covered this. Anybody that’s selling other people’s products. Again, Oxxo is great. And so are a lot of other food storage containers. But you know, the thing is, you can really have your own, unless you’re making so much money with that, then get another product.

Barbara (35:25):

Anybody that has brands already reaching out to you to promote their products. And as you said, anybody that asks you where you got something, that you’ve shown just on your blog or on social media. So really it’s for everybody. When I was at the conference recently, I handed everybody my business card. I also hand somebody my pen. I also have hand sanitizer people keep in their purse. I even have, believe it or not, this is something really fun that I do a lot. You can make cookies with your logo embedded or chocolate bars or candies or mints. You can even give away a cute little food product with your logo. So when you meet somebody, give them a little treat.

Megan (36:14):

Right, and that’s right up, everyone’s alley, who’s listening right now, anything food related, right?

Barbara (36:19):

Absolutely. You could just give away a little something.

Megan (36:22):

I mean, I could come up with a million things now that we’re chatting. I’m like, Oh my gosh, what about this? What about that? I look at that every day, I use this everyday. So just get your wheels turning and think about this and give it some actual thought. And I think that you could come up with some really good ideas. So this is for everybody, not just for bloggers who have been in the game for a long time, but even if you’re just starting, that might be a really good time to do it because you want to get your name out there. I liked your idea about pens. I did that too in the beginning. I got a ton of, I think I ordered like 500 or a thousand pens. I mean something ridiculous, but I got rid of them all. I would just go to random places and leave my pen. Then my dad is my cute little advocate. He’ll be like, give me some more pens, I’ll go throw them around town. So just any chance you can get, toss little nuggets around.

Barbara (37:18):

Yes, share them at blogger events, throw them the swag. That’s an inexpensive way to bring something with you that has your name on it. Food products are great, I’ll eat the cookie right away, but it does stand in your mind. Pens, there’s just a ton of different things, what’s also fun, on the back of your cell phone, the little pop-ups. Those are really great gifts because again, it’s in their hand every day.

Megan (37:50):

Yeah. And when you go to a conference and they have the wall of swag and you can fill up your bag with all those fun little things. That’s where you kind of take note too. Those little gadgets where you realize this is so valuable, but I never would’ve thought of it. There were a handful of those things that we grabbed at the conference where I was thinking that’s so cool.

Barbara (38:10):

Absolutely. Those are really fun.

Megan (38:13):

Nnow you’ve got a set of products or a product established in your mind that you want to create and you do it now we’re ready to sell the product. This is kind of more speaking to people who want to sell a product because giveaways are easy. You just give them away as needed. But if you’re selling a product, where should we focus our selling efforts? Because selling can be really hard, especially for food bloggers, because we have a very full schedule. We don’t have time for much, and we’ve all heard horror stories about Etsy and how impossible it is to sell anything there. So can you give us any pointers you have for getting a product out into the world and spreading the word about it?

Barbara (38:58):

Absolutely. First of all, people are already coming to your blog. If anybody is promoting products on affiliate links, people are already buying from you. So there’s a number of different ways you can do this. You can sell it right there on your blog or your website. You could sell it on Instagram, on Facebook, there’s outlets now called Comment Sold or Buy It Live or on Amazon. So if you’re sending people over to Amazon, why not have them go to your Amazon link? Or if you have an Amazon shop, or if you just create a product page on your blog of all of your products, you mix it. Maybe you are selling somebody else’s spices that you make a lot of money from. You should really set up a product page, whether they’re for your affiliate link, if you are making a lot of money, or put your own products and create your own product page of things you love. Have just a link ready to buy and boom you’re selling right there, or in the actual blog post, you might have a link to that particular product of yours and you’d send them right over to checkout. I personally recommend Shopify.

Megan (40:16):

Okay, that’s a good recommendation.

Barbara (40:19):

Also don’t need to have a whole website. You could just have it sell right on Instagram or on Facebook. And it’s just right there so that they’re not clicking all over. And then a lot of people, I have not done this yet because this is not really my model, but a lot of people are doing very well with this thing called Comment Soldor Buy It Live. Those are great things to look into. Of course, Amazon. I’m not like the biggest fan of bed, but if you’re already selling there or you’re buying there, definitely open an account as a seller.

Megan (40:53):

So there are a lot of options available. Obviously Shopify is a pretty popular one these days. Amazon shop or just selling right from your blog. Do you notice that there is one over the other that’s most successful, that people tend to buy from more readily?

Barbara (41:11):

I don’t, because it really, for Instant Potluck, I have a shop attached to my blog and then for Best Ever Backdrops, you just shop right there. And none of my products for Best Ever Backdrops, because it’s so customized, are on Amazon. So really thousands of people just buy directly from my website.

Megan (41:32):

Yeah, that’s perfect.

Barbara (41:34):

Cause they’re there. Same with my Instant Potluck. They’re there and then they see it and they go and they buy.

Megan (41:42):

Especially if it’s a type of recipe or process that you’re doing a lot and people are reading it and you know that people are engaging in it. Then do more of that, basically. Like if you’re using your Instant Pot a lot, like you were saying Barbara, create a product based around that. So just keeping your eyes open, lots of paying attention to the details here, for this whole process from creating to selling.

Barbara (42:09):

If you look at your very, your most popular recipe, let’s say there’s one that has just gone viral. You’ve got the Pinterest or whatever. Go look at what is in that post that you could create.

Megan (42:24):

I love that. And we kind of do that with other things as well. We are always told, take your most popular posts and go look in them and then create more of that or create similar things based on SEO, or what Google wants. So same thing with products; go there and kind of see what’s inside of there. What Dutch oven did you use or just exploring what is inside those top five posts? I have five posts that have been in my top five, they have not changed in years. I am talking, years. So there’s something to that. There’s something in there that people are liking and don’t eliminate the possibility that a product could be involved.

Barbara (43:10):

Absolutely. Ok, this is hysterical. My applesauce recipe went viral. It’s a no-peel apple recipe, you throw them into the Instant Pot in three minutes, you have the best apple sauce you’ve ever had. Well, this thing was better than watching Netflix. When I first came out with this, I was just watching the people go to my site. People were out of their minds. But one of the things that we shot them in, we shot them in the little containers that I sell. And one of them, we shot in my little mini Dutch oven, which I also sell. So that was what made me think of it because my applesauce and my mini Dutch oven are the things that people are like obsessed with. So I sell the two little sizes and people just love them. So I sell those.

Megan (44:06):

Wow. You’re so inspiring. I just love that you find these things that just work and that you make it work even more. I think that’s really inspiring. So I know that you’re needing to go and I don’t want to infringe on your time too much today, but do you have just a few minutes to share about your company, Private Label Brand Academy and what food bloggers specifically can expect if they want to dive into that?

Barbara (44:34):

Absolutely. I was at Inspired Home last year. And I was talking with a blogger who said, Barbara, you have got to create a course again. I don’t want to create a course. And here we go again. I always joke. I create products like people change this swag. I do that all day. It’s really simple. And so what I did was I realized as I got more and more involved in this community and after I created the backdrops, I realized that people are spinning their wheels and promoting people other than themselves. So I created a course called Private Label Brand Academy. I think it’s launching like October 15th and it’s an online course that basically walks you through how to create your own products.

(45:35):

I’m also going to be doing, and I’m not sure exactly when, because I’m in the middle of putting this together. I’m going to be having, here in Chicago, some private workshops with eight to 10 people. We’re going to do two days and you’re going to walk out of there with your own product. So not sure where we’re going to be doing that. But right now, if people want to just go sign up to do the course online, that’s coming out and they can just go there and check it out. If you go to that page, Private Label Brand Academy, it’ll kind of walk you through what the course entails.

Megan (46:14):

And we will have all of that information on your show notes page for anyone who’s interested. I wanted to point out one thing that you have said repeatedly, that I think is really important for people to hear – stop selling other people’s products. I love that. I think that’s kind of a theme. And another theme that I’ve noticed Barbara, is that you going through kind of your history and things that you’ve created and I’ve noticed the theme of, I don’t want to (fill in the blank) and those things that you didn’t want to do or that you out loud stated. I don’t want to build a course. I don’t want to create a course. Those were the things that you needed to do.

Barbara (46:50):

Right! And I built products and brands from that because everybody says, I don’t want to do that. I don’t know how to do that. Well, if you build it, it’ll happen.

Megan (47:01):

And if you build it, other things will be built off of it. Yeah. That’s such a great thing to keep in my mind. And I’m so glad we had this chat today. I think it was just really valuable. And it gave me a new perspective on just really going about my day and seeing what products are around me and everything we’ve talked about. I just really appreciate you being here and taking the time.

Barbara (47:22):

I’m so glad you asked me. I’m thrilled to be here. Oh this is great.

Megan (47:25):

This was really fun. I think that food bloggers are going to find lots of value in this as well. So thank you. I will let you go about your day, but before you go, do you have a favorite quote or any words of inspiration to share with our fellow food bloggers?

Barbara (47:38):

Yes, I do. My mother, Bernice, who is my inspiration. She used to say, “if zucchini can be pasta, you can be anything”. I’ll leave you with that.

(47:50):

Oh my goodness. Okay. How am I supposed to finish? That was amazing.

Barbara (47:58):

Oh, thank you. Which by the way are on her line of mugs.

Megan (48:02):

Gosh, that is incredible. I love it so much.

Barbara (48:07):

If you go over to Insta, Bernice has a collection of mugs now with her sayings. There’s one I’m not going to say because she tended to drop the F bomb.

Megan (48:16):

Oh, yeah, maybe leave that one off. But if zucchini can be pasta, you can be anything, people. I love it. Okay. So Barbara has a list of favorite resources relating to today’s topic. And also you can find all of the information about her Academy on her show notes page, and you can find that at eatblogtalk.com/BarbaraHobart. Barbara, tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Barbara (48:42):

Two places besteverbackdrops.com. Homeplateswholesale.com, Instantpotluck.co. And what am I missing?

Megan (48:56):

Do you have an Instagram handle?

Barbara (48:59):

Yes. At Best Ever Backdrops. And the other one is at Instantpotluck.

Megan (49:04):

Oh my gosh. Well, I’m excited to go check all of those out. So inspiring.

Barbara (49:09):

Oh and Privatelabelbrandacademy.com.

Megan (49:12):

Okay. Yep. And all of that will be on your show notes page. So should be covered there, but thank you again, Barbara.

Barbara (49:20):

Thank you Megan. Oh my God, it was so wonderful.

Megan (49:22):

Totally agreed. And thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro (49:27):

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat Blog Talk. For more resources based on today’s discussion, as well as show notes and an opportunity to be on a future episode of the show, be sure to head to eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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