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Episode 169: The Balancing Act of Working as a Blogging Team with Wrenn Pacheco

In episode 169, we talk with Wrenn Pacheco, half of a husband/wife team that work together both in jobs outside of blogging and on a food blog.

We cover information about what to over-analyze and what not to! Also, a little distraction can be healthy and can keep you focused on what really matters.

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 Cooking With The Cowboy
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
Wrenn and Arturo are a husband and wife team at their ranching business as well as running their food blog, Cooking with the Cowboy. You’ll find them in the Flint Hills of Kansas where they love telling their story of caring for cattle, little cowboys, and living in rural America through food. Arturo does all the cooking and Wren does all the photography, posting and handling the social media efforts for our food blog.

Takeaways

  • Wrenn and Arturo split the duties of their blog based on their natural talents and Wrenn fills in what needs to be done from there.
  • You can use natural light and simple decor to create your brand on your blog. An iphone will get you started until you can improve your photography skills and afford a nicer camera.
  • You can take the joy out of cooking and any magic you’ve cooked up if you’re so focused on being technical with every recipe.
  • Communication between spouses in everyday life and blogging together is key. Don’t set up your spouse to be the bad guy, instead frame your needs with requests for help to do your job the best.
  • You have to put aside your own feelings when you’re in a team – it’s not I, it’s we.
  • Start your day with a plan. Look at what’s ahead of you and try to make a detailed plan to work so you reach your goals for that day.
  • It becomes easy to be negative to your significant other so be intentional about speaking with the positive when communicating.
  • Keep your end goal in mind as you build your work environment and head towards successes.
  • Incorporate systems into your work day to simplify your days. Create processes and forms or email templates. Ask for help.
  • Try not to overshoot on pictures and end up making more work for yourself.
  • Don’t overanalyze your work. Put your best foot forward, do quality work and then publish. Don’t compare your work to others.

Resources Mentioned

Wrenn’s book, My Mommy and Daddy Are Ranchers

Grow Your Business With Self-Care

Check out episode 148 to learn how you can use self-care to grow your business with Megan Porta.

Transcript

Click for full script.

Intro:

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:

Bloggers. You are going to want to get on the waitlist for the virtual Tastemaker conference today. This virtual experience is where food bloggers and content creators come together online for two days to build community with fellow foodies and brands, learn from top industry experts in classes and online excursions, and experience the magic of Tastemaker. Whether you’re a beginner or a pro, this premiere food blogger conference is for everyone, including you. This year’s theme is clarity, purpose, and efficiency. The pathway to success as a food content creator, it will be held on Friday, April 9th through Saturday, April 10th, 2021. There will be 14 live sessions with topics on SEO and tech, revenue, business growth and management, content creation and marketing. Plus, there are five hours of bonus on-demand content, two live cooking class excursions, one-on-one live virtual networking with brands who want to work with food influencers, live attendee networking Hangouts, $1,000 in giveaways and virtual swag, exclusive Facebook group for attendees to collaborate and connect beforehand. This content is worth over $2,000 in value, but tickets are only $49. Limited tickets are available so be sure to join the waitlist to get first access to this must attend virtual event. Go to eatblogtalk.com/resources to grab the link and get on the waitlist today.

Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. This podcast is for you, food bloggers wanting value and clarity to help you find greater success in your business. Today I will be having a chat with Wrenn Pacheco from cookingwiththecowboy.com. And we are going to talk about working as a team and also how to balance it all. Wrenn and her husband are a hubby wife team at their ranching business, as well as running their food blog, Cooking With The Cowboy. You’ll find them in the Flint Hills of Kansas, where they love telling their story of caring for the cattle, little Cowboys and living in rural America through food. Arturo does all of the cooking and Wrenn does all of the photography posting and handling the social media efforts for their blog. Wrenn, I love your story. I cannot wait to hear it from your own lips, so I can’t wait to get there, but before we do that, we all want to hear your fun fact.

Wrenn Pacheco:

Thank you, Megan. I am so excited to be and to be chatting with you today. So fun fact, I am dyslexic and I actually published my first children’s book in 2020 this year. So I have a children’s book called My Mommy and Daddy Are Ranchers, that really shows the drive and the spirit that we as ranchers have through our little boy’s eyes. They’re our little Cowboys eyes. Being dyslexic and someone that struggles with a learning disability and sometimes can’t spell cat, I am very proud that I actually got a children’s book published and I self published it and it has been a really fun project.

Megan:

Absolutely, that’s huge! I don’t know anyone personally who has published a children’s book, but I’ve always been curious what the process is like. Was it a tedious process? Was it pretty smooth? How did it go?

Wrenn:

It was very smooth. I worked with an amazing illustrator. I wrote the story myself, sat on it for about a year before I actually moved forward on getting it published or moving forward on the illustration piece of it. I found an amazing illustrator that was super young. It was her first project too, but she just did great work and helped me through that process. We self published through Amazon. We had some little ups and down, little things, but now that I’ve got that figured out, it was, it was pretty smooth, once you got it uploaded. It was very cool.

Megan:

Good for you for persevering, even though there are challenges that may have gotten in the way for others. Wow. I mean that just shows your level of perseverance and fortitude, so awesome work. I am just so intrigued by your story. You and your husband have such an inspiring story to share, and I want to hear more about it. Before we dig into how you guys work together as a team and balance it all, because I think that is also a part of your story, you have something to kind of preface it. Your husband is a cowboy and that’s kind of your theme, right. So tell us how that started. So your husband was doing his cowboy things and cooking a lot of food and that’s kind of where this all began. So take us through that.

Wrenn:

I’ll take you back to when we first got married. Well, actually when we were in college. We met in college, we were both on livestock judging teams. We got scholarships to go to college to do that. We met judging livestock and then we went to senior college together at Texas Tech University. We had a really close livestock judging team and we would all cook together. Arturo was the main cook. He would cook anything from the tortillas that his mom taught him how to cook, to duck which wasn’t very good at the time. He’s mastered that now, but he would try anything. We got married, he finished his master’s program at Tech and moved to Kansas. At that point we were young and in love, loved good food, but we couldn’t afford good food.

Arturo had always had that love of cooking and creating dishes so he really honed in on that. What brought us to Kansas was his PhD program. He has a PhD in Reminant Nutrition; he’s a nutritionist for cows. He helps farmers and ranchers learn how to feed their cattle. Doing his research, he would be out riding horses and checking cattle and caring for cattle cause that’s in his blood and that’s never going to go away, no matter how advanced his degree is, he will always be a cowboy. He would do all that and then he’d come home and he would make fresh, homemade pasta and Ragu. Also go back to his roots of the New Mexico cooking of tortillas and enchiladas and all of those dishes. He really enjoys mixing those flavors. So I always thought it was a really cool story of there’s this cowboy that wears chaps and boots and a hat every single day, but then he comes home and he cooks me a five course meal.

Megan:

Oh my gosh, that’s amazing.

Wrenn:

Yeah, it’s really amazing. It’s not great for the waistline. Anyway, I have a passion for telling our agriculture story, of helping connect where our food comes from to those that may not get to live the lifestyle that we live here in the Flint Hills. Just really connecting that. We are moms and dads, just like people that may live in Kansas City or Dallas or wherever. We’re parents just like they are, and we enjoy really good food. Just our office view looks a lot different. So I had the idea of connecting with our love of food through the food blog, Cooking With The Cowboy and telling that story of Arturo working and producing beef and then coming into the kitchen and cooking that beef and other dishes and other proteins as well, cooking that and sharing those recipes that we have created, that we feed our family.

Megan:

That is such an inspiring and amazing story and so unique too, which I love. You guys had a couple passions. So Arturo loved cooking and also being a cowboy and all of the stuff that falls under that. Then you had this idea, let’s put this out there, let’s use your love for food to create a blog. You had different strengths as well. So coming into the blog, you are strong in some areas and he was strong in other areas. So talk to us about that. How does that work? He does all of the cooking and then you photograph and what else do you do for the blog?

Wrenn:

Yep. So he does the cooking piece and creates the recipe. That recipe was created in his head. Then I have to figure out how to get it out of his head and onto paper. But we’re still working through that. What we found is either I’m in the kitchen typing as he’s cooking and measuring things out, or he’ll dictate it on his phone, if I’m not available to be in the kitchen with him. He’ll dictate it on his phone and then I will type it. So basically he just cooks. Then I do the rest, which is okay and it works because he’s got a really big plate. He runs two separate businesses. So we work well together and so I take that piece of it and create the photograph to go with it.

He helps me plate it. He has some serious opinions on the way things should be plated, which is good. I appreciate those opinions and he has a creative eye and he knows how he wants his food to look. H e helps me plate it and part of my style in photography is I want it to be pretty simple. I want it to be eye appealing and look delicious, but I don’t need a bunch of style prop things around my plate. I want them to be a pretty simple plate. I want the food to look really good because I really want to showcase the food. I don’t want a bunch of things around the plate distracting from the food. We work together on that plating. Then I will edit the images as well as write the recipe, post it to the blog. Then I run all of our social media media efforts for Cooking With The Cowboy.

Megan:

So does he ever have times where he says, that photograph doesn’t exactly represent what I was thinking and do you have to redo it?

Wrenn:

We’ve had a couple that he’s not pleased with. I am more concerned. So I am a photographer. I have a photography business of shooting weddings and families and those types of things. I have the eye, I have the knowledge of light and how to use light. There are times that I’m like this doesn’t look good, I’m the one that’s more picky about the end image because the light’s not right. The winter is really hard for us because we both have businesses that we’re running. So we don’t really have a dedicated day to cook and shoot. Most of the time it’s on a Sunday afternoon. So if there are times that, like now it gets dark at five o’clock, we eat by about seven, so that I lose light really fast. So I don’t shoot as much in the winter because I’m very picky about the style of the photo. I don’t want a dark photo. I want a light photo.

Megan:

You guys work together on that. So he has the vision and you bring it to life and it’s good that you have the photography background and you know how to light a scene and all of that. It really does sound like you guys round each other out so perfectly and not knowing your husband at all, I’ve never even talked to him, but as you were talking about him, I came up with this idea about him just using thoughtless magic. He doesn’t overanalyze what he’s doing. It comes to him naturally. He has the idea for the recipe. He doesn’t even write it down. He just comes into the kitchen and does his magic and you’re sitting there recording. Tell me what to do and how much of this and how much of that. I don’t know, there’s something to be said for sitting down and analyzing things I think, but sometimes it’s better just to let the magic flow through you. It just seems like that’s what you guys do.

Wrenn:

He’s very good. He’s a scientist, so he’s very technical on things. So if I get him to try to talk about why the science behind sourdough works, he loses me really quickly. He’s very good at studying things and researching things and making sure that it’s right, but then he can also step into the kitchen and make those things flow really easy and that magic. Sometimes we’ll go months without posting and that may not be a true food bloggers way of doing things, but that’s what works for us because either we’re wrapped up in other things and we haven’t had a chance to really truly cook or I’ve just let him cook and we’re not trying to create a recipe with it. Cause sometimes you take the joy out of cooking if you’re trying to create that hard and fast recipe, if that makes sense.

Megan:

Yeah, it does make sense. Also taking the magic out of it because we sometimes set such a strict, rigid schedule for our food blogging worlds that we stick to it no matter what, even if we’re not inspired or if there’s no magic flowing. We’re like, I’m supposed to post Thursday. So here’s this recipe that really doesn’t mean anything. So I love that you guys tap into that intuition to post when inspired instead of post when your calendar tells you you’re supposed to post. That’s awesome. So working closely with a spouse is not an easy transition from what I hear. So talk through some of the struggles that you guys have had. Then I also want to hear about some of the successes because I know those are there as well, but yeah, we want to hear everything.

Wrenn:

I’m going to talk a little bit outside of the food blog world of working together because we do flow really well there, he’s taught me a ton about cooking and about how things work and flavors marrying and all of that. But the background of us working well in the kitchen together has really pushed over to us working well together in the pasture. As ranchers here in the Flint Hills, we care for about 500 to a thousand head of yearlings. And yearlings are a year old calf. The area that we’re in is very rich. The grass is very rich in nutrition, From May one through August one and we call that grass season. We take in these cattle and we make sure that they’re healthy and that they are doing well on this very nutrient, rich grass through that time period.

We do everything by horseback. That means that if there is one that is sick, we will have to rope and doctor that calf. That’s because that calf needs that medicine to be able to get to water and get around to graze and do things, to grow and be efficient. We don’t want to leave a sick calf without being doctored. So it’s very important to us that we do it efficiently and we get our job done. So working together in that aspect can be very stressful because there’s another live animal involved. We want to be efficient at it. So learning to work together as a team and really communicating is the big piece of that because he grew up doing things like this, but I did not. I grew up around cows, but we didn’t grow up doing things on horseback. So I’ve learned a lot in the last five years of how to work horseback and really be efficient and take care of that animal correctly with compassion and, and as less stress as possible for the animal and for ourselves. So communication is the big key of that, because if you don’t communicate, you don’t know, we can’t read each other’s minds. Even though he thinks that I should, or he thinks that I should be able to read his mind. We have to really work together and talk about the plan before we even get going. So I think that we bring that piece into the kitchen as well. I talk through and I talk a lot, I’m an over communicator. I talk through what I want the blog post to look like, what I need as far as photographs. What my idea of where I’m going to take this on social media. I think he tunes me out for the most part, but we still over-talk about things that need to happen for that post and for that social media effort. We work together to make that post happen.

Megan:

So three key ingredients from what I just heard. So communication number one. Over-talking is fine because you really can’t, over-communicate I think in any situation, whether it’s a marriage or relationship, a partnership, whatever it is, communication is so important. You can miss those little things that you don’t think about. I do this all the time, where I think, why didn’t she do that? It was in my head and then I think, wait a second. Nobody else is in my head. Of course she didn’t do that. You know? So communication, no matter who you’re working with. Then also said, efficiency is really important. So getting whatever process you’re working on streamlined and down to a really efficient system. Then you also just kind of touched on not thinking about yourself. So when you’re caring for your cattle, you’re putting yourself aside because it’s not about you. It’s about getting them healthy and safe. So there are really three key components there and they sound easy. Oh, just get these three things together, but those are not always easy. Do you have specific tips for getting through those things? Because communication is not always easy, finding an efficient system isn’t always easy and putting yourself aside isn’t easy. So what little tips do you have?

Wrenn:

I would think that both in the kitchen or in the pasture, going into the day with a plan. No matter what, they both come down to that communication piece and put yourselves aside. Making sure you have a plan of what you need, what you want and what the end goal is going to be or needs to be for the day or for the recipe or for the blog post or whatever that is. If you have a plan that you communicate about, then you should be more efficient at getting to that end goal of having that post rolled out. So we walk through, especially in the summer, when we’re going to check cattle, we have our cups of coffee. We’re out early before the sun even rises, in the truck together.

We talk through what pastures we’re going to touch, what pastures we’re going to ride through that day, what needs to get done and then make a plan from there. Then we usually split up and we text a lot throughout the day and have that plan and communicate where we are, what we’ve got going. Then we get home and we’re in the kitchen, same thing. We’re going to cook this tonight. This is going on the blog and I need X, Y, and Z photos to make that blog post happen. So I think it’s that planning and communicating about that plan.

Megan:

I love that I am such a proponent of planning and there’s such power in it, and it just gets pushed aside so often. We start digging into our days or our projects, and we think that we can just do it without a plan, but then things get really muddy and confusing very quickly. Then we realize after many failures that we actually need to go back and create a plan. So I am all on board with that. I love how you guys have tied the ranching side and the blogging side and how to use one to kind of frame it. We plan for ranching every day and what our plans are overall. So we’re going to do that for blogging. Do you think you would have been able to plan for blogging as well, if you didn’t have the other side of it?

Wrenn:

I don’t think we would’ve been able to work as well together. It would’ve taken longer, I guess, to get to the point where we today. Because I think working with your spouse is, it’s really hard. Because your spouse is someone you’re the most comfortable you’ve ever been with, other than your mother, if you’re really close to your parents. I’m going to say this, but it’s going to sound really bad. Sometimes you take out that level of respect, or I don’t want to say respect, but the comfort level of needing to watch what you say, because you don’t want to offend the other person because your spouse is someone that you should be able to share and say anything to.

So sometimes that level of comfort makes it even more hard because you are so comfortable that you can call them out on their mistakes or their things. Sometimes we look at the negative, not so much as the positive. It’s easier to go the negative way than it is the positive. So I think being able to communicate and saying, Hey, that hurt my feelings. I want to do it this way. I need to make sure that you help me and respect me. I’m calling that out when we are on horseback and doing things there has brought that into the kitchen, if that makes sense. I don’t know if I’ve lost you there.

Megan:

Yeah. That does make sense because when you’re so comfortable with somebody, it is easy to feel like you can say anything, which is good, but then you can go into bad areas. You have to be able to respect the other’s strengths. I’m saying this, not having ever worked with my husband professionally, but I can imagine we would just need to work through that. Get to a point where we respect each other, knowing you are really good at this, so I’m going to let you do that. Please respect that. I’m good at this. It just seems like there would be so much gray area to work through. My husband and I have talked about working together and we never have, but in my mind it gets all cloudy. Would we be able to do that? I just don’t know. I think it’s just one of those things that you have to launch into and try it.

Wrenn:

I think that goes back to that communication piece. If you’re working with your spouse, or have never worked with your spouse and you’re thinking about doing that, going back to that communication of, Hey, that hurt my feelings and not being mad about it, not getting angry or anything in the mix, just having an open conversation about, that hurt my feelings. What can we do to make it better? And vice versa, not just me, but him too. Will you help me do this better? Just being open, without anger. Because the anger is where the fights start. If you can do it without, um, being angry with one another and having an open, honest conversation, that’s where the key or the magic of, of working together is I think.

Megan:

I like how you said that. So instead of saying like, you need to do this better or putting it on the other person, framing it like this, will you help me do this better? Because then you’re asking for help. You’re saying that, you know, you have room for improvement as opposed to you need to improve. I really like that because we’ve all been blamed for things and it’s not a good thing to hear. I don’t think a lot of people react well to that. So just the way that you phrase things or the way that you approach a project or a question, or even a day, how can you help me be better today is great. I love that. I actually wrote it down for my future. When my husband and I are working together, I’ll come back to that Wrenn.

Wrenn:

Not every day is pretty. I’ll give you that. At the end of the day and knowing that we work together as a team no matter what project we’re working on, we’re working together as a team to better our lives for our boys. That’s pretty cool. That’s really fun. We get to do this together and we’re building something. As far as businesses, blogs, sharing our story, whatever it is, for these two little Cowboys that we have watching us every day.

Megan:

So keeping that end goal in mind, which is another thing I love is just having big goals ahead, down the road in the future that you can always look to. So your goals are bettering your boys’ lives and being there for them and obviously taking care of your animals. So you have big goals that you reference, you probably talk about and you think about daily in order to keep you on track. Is that right?

Wrenn:

Yeah, definitely.

Megan:

Goals are so important. We talked kind of about some of the struggles and some things that you have to keep in mind. When do you guys give high fives? You say yes, we are rocking it. That was awesome. Tell us about some of your big successes.

Wrenn:

So big successes. On the cattle side of it, when those cattle leave in August, on August one, that we’ve cared for all summer and they get on the truck and they’ve gained the weight that they’re supposed to and they look good and they’re healthy and our customers is happy, that’s when we high five and we thaw a steak and we celebrate, that we did our jobs right as ranchers. We also do some other things with some heifers, which are females that are cows that have not had a calf yet. When we have success there and we’re doing things right, and our customers are happy, we high-five then as well. Knowing that we’ve done our jobs right, and we’ve cared for these cattle and we’re providing a stage, cause we’re just one piece of a calf’s life cycle.

But knowing that we have provided for those animals, we’ve given them a safe and healthy and good home, in their life cycle to know that they’re going on to the next safe and healthy place to end up in the meat case. That’s really cool, to be able to know that we’re feeding consumers or those that enjoy beef or steaks on their plate, knowing that we are doing that. Then knowing that when we get home, we have two boys that we are providing fun foods and different recipes that we are introducing them to as well.

Megan:

So your high-fives are really your end goals. So thinking of those successes and those times when you say, yes, we did it, we accomplished X, Y, Z. Those are the things that keep propelling you forward and keep you moving. Because you guys don’t have an easy job. Oh my goodness. I mean, what you’re talking about is, I just can’t even imagine doing that, but it’s something that you’ve just stepped into and you’ve figured it out and you’re doing it successfully, which is amazing. Then on top of that, you’re coming home and you’re blogging. Oh my goodness. When do you find time to blog and how do you balance that?

Wrenn:

That’s why sometimes our posts are not as scheduled as they probably should be, or our blogs. We haven’t made it to that monetization and click rate and all of that stuff yet because it is hard to find time. I thought when we started off, this would be easy. I’ll just blog as we go. But in truth, there are lots of mini steps and lots of things to keep your blog moving forward. As far as Pinterest, learning the ins and outs of Pinterest, learning the algorithms of Facebook and Instagram and all of those pieces. I do it when I can, and I try to set a goal to have one post up a month and then really talk about that post and what we’re doing and other things as we’re cooking on Instagram, because I really like Instagram. I like social media and connecting that way. I know that’s not the best way to monetize your blog, but that’s the way I enjoy connecting. So again, it’s finding that joy in doing things, doing it in the way that works for us, and not putting that pressure on making it something that has to happen,

Megan:

Not putting the pressure. That kind of describes what you were talking about earlier with your husband’s cooking process, where he’s too busy to overanalyze and put pressure on it because he doesn’t have the time. That’s kind of the way you frame your blog too. So there’s really no pressure there, but yet you still love it. Eventually, would you like to monetize, is that your end goal with your blog?

Wrenn:

Yes. Yeah. We would love to monetize and we’re getting there. Our click rates get bigger and more robust every month. So it’s growing. We would like to monetize it and we have some other avenues that we’re working on that will kind of run parallel with the food blog, that will monetize it in a way. So we’ve got some other offshoots of the blog that we’re working on.

Megan:

That’s great. So I’m a little caught up right now because I went onto your site and I’m looking through your pictures and you guys are so cute and just the cowboy hats and your boys are adorable and your house is just so dreamy. I love just that lifestyle. The ranching lifestyle is nothing that I’ve ever been a part of, but it’s so intriguing to me, so different from anything I’ve ever experienced. Okay. So just got caught up in that a little bit. Sorry. So balance and you guys work on it when you can, do you have any other tidbits for us about how to balance, if other people listening have a busy life, maybe they’re not ranchers and they don’t have to take care of cattle because that’s a lot, but maybe they do have full-time jobs they go to daily. So what other tips do you have for them?

Wrenn:

So I have a system. I’m a big believer in systems as far as email systems and forms and things like that. I wrote out a blog post form, basically. The way that the blog posts will be formed as far as heading, and then the caption and the description of the post of what’s going to be shared and then the photo. So I try to follow that form throughout every blog post. So that really helps me stay organized. I have this form, it’s just a word document with things bolded and italicized. So whenever I go to write my blog posts, I create, I go into that form and I just start filling things out. So it makes it very easy and straightforward for me and makes it just a little more efficient for me to get that post up.

Megan:

I love that you do that. That’s so great. I’ve never heard of that before, just having like a set form, so you don’t get distracted. Here’s the field you need for the header. Okay. Description. Yeah. Moving along.

Wrenn:

Like I said earlier, I am dyslexic. So writing sometimes can be very hard for me and putting words in line is sometimes hard for me. So if I have something that is straightforward for me, then I can easily get in there and just make it happen. I do try to have my mom, she is my copy editor. She reads through everything for me. I try to have her do that before I get it posted. Sometimes I don’t make time and I just post it and then there’s mistakes of course, but we can fix those. I also try not to overshoot. In my day job, I overshoot a lot. So when I’m shooting food, I try really hard to not shoot a ton, just shoot one or two images because that’s all that I really need. That eliminates the big editing process of editing for me. Making sure my light is right when I do shoot so there’s not a ton of editing to do as well.

Megan:

So systems, you mentioned, are huge, I think, especially for food bloggers who have so much going on and you can overthink things. You think, I need to take 200 pictures and to just simplify, creating a system in any area of your business, and then also not overdoing it because we’ve all been through those stages where we do take way too many photos. Then we have 200 photos to go through. That’s ridiculous. That’s such a simple little thing that it took me years to get to that place too, probably way too long, but now I’m at that place to where I just don’t overdo it. I think, ok, I just took 10 photos, something in there is great. I move on, whereas before it was an hour of my time where I could’ve been doing something else. So how do we get to that point? How do we get confident enough to think that we just can be done? Because again, overthinking, over analyzing, it creeps in so much. Do you have tips for that? For letting things go, is it just creating this busy life where you don’t have an option?

Wrenn:

Yes, that’s part of it, but I also really think that, people, I mean myself, everyone that is looking at our food blogs that are looking at our social media account, they’re busy, just as busy as we are. So they’re not going to overanalyze what you’ve posted, I believe, and maybe I’m wrong, but I really feel like put something that’s good and quality up, but don’t overanalyze it because what you have put up is something that they came to your blog because they’re interested either in you or your recipe, and they might have found you through social media or they might’ve found you through Pinterest, but something that you put on that first site. I may be totally wrong on this, but I really feel like the way I work anyway, is I either find recipes or people that I love to follow, on Pinterest or social media.

So if you have that first impression on either of those two social platforms, that’s what they found you for. So don’t over analyze. If you’re going to overanalyze something, over analyze what you put up there. But let come from your heart and let that be authentic because that’s what people really enjoy, is authentic. People really want to follow stories and really want to follow you as a person, not an over styled dish. That’s what I want. I want to know about people. Of course the food comes with it too, but I want to know about people. Just not overthinking and just really, truly being your true self. If you’re your true self, you show that, then people will love you.

Megan:

Oh, I love all of that Wrenn. That was all just so well said. Be authentic, stop over analyzing. We all do it and don’t feel bad for over-analyzing because it kind of comes with the territory. We feel like we’re putting our content out there for everyone to see. We sometimes feel judged and just cautious about who’s seeing it and what they’re thinking. It’s normal to overanalyze, but with practice and with time, you get to a point where you honestly, you just don’t really care anymore. You realize that you don’t need to do that, and you don’t need a million images. You don’t need the most perfect copy because nothing’s perfect anyway. You really only need one good image for a blog post. Like you said, you judge people’s content by that one image that you see on Pinterest or Instagram and anything else that is contained in the blog post is kind of irrelevant. I hate to say that because I know a lot of people pride themselves on having 17 grand photos within a blog post, which is great. I think that is part of the process of being a food blogger, but you really don’t need all of that.

Wrenn:

I love the quote, comparison is the thief of joy. If you’re comparing yourself to other food bloggers, don’t , just do you and do what you love and what gives you joy. Because then if you take the joy out of food blogging, then what’s the point of doing it? Unless you’re Ree Drummond that’s making millions and millions of dollars, that is her job. For me as a small time food blogger, it has to be joyful or I won’t do it because I’ve got other irons in the fire.

Megan:

I’m coming away with a few themes, so no over analyzing, stop the over analyzing as soon as you possibly can. Be your authentic self. Do what gives you joy. Honestly, your story just proves that a little bit of distraction is really healthy and good and can bring about such magic and really good content and really good relationships. So I love all of those themes. Do you have anything else for us along the lines of just balancing it and working with a spouse before we move on? Because I know you’re a really good photographer, so I want to ask you a few tips about photography, but do you have anything else along those lines first?

Wrenn:

No, just going back to that communication, I think communication is the biggest key when it comes to working with their spouse and just being open and honest and not letting anger get in the way.

Megan:

Mm that’s great. You’re an awesome photographer. You mentioned that you have a background and you shoot weddings and some portraits. So give us your best tips and tricks about photography in general.

Wrenn:

Okay. I love to shoot with natural light. I am a natural light photographer. I have some flashes in some off-camera light, but that’s not what I prefer. So I really love to shoot and we have some south facing windows in our home and I have a white table that sits right in front of the south facing windows. So I love to shoot at that table with those windows. Then I have a very, very fancy, let me tell you it’s super fancy, reflector. It is at three pieces of foam board taped together with duct tape. So it’s super fancy, but that reflector allows me to have some fill light on the back of that photo. So with that south facing window, if I put my plate on that white table and I put that reflector behind it, that soft light is coming in and it’s going to hit that reflector.

It’s going to bounce back into my food and really just give an even light across that plate. If you are struggling with a little bit of light, a little bit of having some dark spots or some of the spots that need to be filled in with light, get you some foam board, just a white piece of foam board from the grocery store. Not even from a craft store and use that as your reflector. I like a really simple plate or simple styled area. I don’t like a lot of garnish on my plate. I like it just very simple because the star of the show is the food. So I feel like sometimes we could get away with extra garnish and extra things around can really take away from that food.

Megan:

I liked that you mentioned not to get fancy because we can overthink again, here’s that theme of overthinking, but we think I have to buy all of this expensive, extravagant equipment in order to take good photos. That is not true. Foam board at the grocery store, that’s a couple dollars of your life, so that can fill in all the light you need for a photo shoot. No need to go overboard.

Wrenn:

I have a professional DSLR camera, because that’s my job, but I also have taken some things, not for the blog, but for Instagram, I have used my cell phone, my iPhone. If you aren’t ready to invest in a big, expensive camera, I think there are some lower budget cameras that you could invest in. I think you could also start with your iPhone and just knowing how to use that light and knowing how to use that foam board as a reflector, you could still use your iPhone to create nice images.

Megan:

Going into photography, if somebody isn’t familiar with photography and the principles behind it, that it can be so overwhelming that you really don’t know what to do anyway. So starting with exactly what’s in front of you, that you actually know how to work and you know your iPhone camera is probably amazing for anyone listening and you likely know how to use that very well. So start there and then take your next step up. Then you’re going to know what you’re doing. You’re not going from zero to a huge expensive DSLR, where you say, I don’t even know how to use this thing. I think that can be so overwhelming for food bloggers to think about having to buy that massive camera and then know how to use it. So you really can do it in stages. Buy some foam board, use your iPhone until you know what you’re doing, and go from there. That’s a whole other soapbox, but what else do you have for us for photography?

Wrenn:

I also really love to use just a simple white plate and then even some simple napkins for my style. Those napkins have come from Walmart to even some handkerchiefs that I’ve bought at a thrift store. So find something that fits you again, that is you and your authentic self. Just keep with that style throughout your blog or on your social accounts. I think having that one style of editing and the way you plate and style things on for the photo is really a way that people will identify your work, as you continue to be consistent with that.

Megan:

Again, you don’t need to get fancy. You don’t need a whole entire shelf full of every single color of dish and plate and bowl and place mat. Just the other day, my husband asked, what percentage would you say of these that you actually use? I said, Ooh, like 2%. I mean, it’s bad. So I need to get rid of some of that. It’s not necessary.

Wrenn:

I love it. I love buying new napkins and things like that, but then I always go back to the same old tried and true ones that I’ve seen over and over.

Megan:

Absolutely the same here. Do you have anything else for us? Those have been really great tips.

Wrenn:

I think that we covered a lot.

Megan:

We did, there’s so much juice and good stuff in this episode. What is your main takeaway for food bloggers today, Wrenn?

Wrenn:

I think we’re going back to that authentic self. Being you, sharing recipes that are you because they’re from your heart. They may not be truly Pinterest worthy or something that Pinterest is trending on. But doing things that bring you joy. I think that is the only way to make for me any way to make this food blogging thing work, is things that bring us joy and sharing those recipes that feed our families and that we have gathered from our family recipe collection.

Megan:

Oh, that’s great. This conversation today with you, Wrenn has just inspired me. Thank you so much. It has been such a pleasure to chat with you, and I’m just so grateful that you’re here today. So thank you for being here and sharing such value with food bloggers.

Wrenn:

Thank you for having me. It’s been such a pleasure and such an honor for sure.

Megan:

It was so fun. So we will put together some show notes for you, Wrenn. If anybody wants to go see those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/cookingwiththecowboy. Wrenn, tell my listeners the best place to find you and your husband online.

Wrenn:

So you can connect with us on Facebook or Instagram at Cooking With The Cowboy. Also on Pinterest. We’re not as active over there Instagram is my favorite platform. So at Cooking With The Cowboy, and then I have my photography page at wrennbird.com as well if you’re interested in that.

Megan:

Your children’s book too.

Wrenn:

Yep. On Amazon. Then on our food blog, there’s an option to buy it there as well.

Megan:

Well, thank you again, Wrenn, so much for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro:

We’re glad you could join us on this episode of Eat BlogTalk. 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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pinterest image for the balancing act of working as a blogging team
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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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