Press "Enter" to skip to content

Episode 115: Running Challenges With Denise Bustard

In episode 115, we talk with Denise Bustard, blogger at Sweet Peas and Saffron, who shares about how she found success running challenges for her audience.

We cover information about how challenges can build connection and trust with you, how to consider starting with a short, free challenge and the importance of keeping it simple and not focusing just on the numbers.

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 Sweet Peas & Saffron
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bio Denise has been a food blogger at Sweet Peas & Saffron since 2012. For the first 4-5 years, she blogged about everything from healthy to indulgent foods, and never really found her community. In 2016, Denise decided to take the leap and niche down on the topic of meal prep. Through focussing on a niche topic, and hosting live meal prep challenges, she was able to build a community and connection with her audience, and found a real home in the blogging world.

Takeaways

  • A challenge is an event that you put on your blog outside of your normal recipe content. The goal is to teach a new skill in bite sized pieces or to encourage your audience in some way to take action when they need a little extra push to get started. 
  • You want the readers to experience some sort of transformation.
  • A challenge will help your audience to get to know you more, check out your content and build trust with you. 
  • You should run challenges at different times of the year.
  • Key to a successful challenge is to have everyone in it at the same time doing the same thing.
  • Share your challenges on social media as and to your email list.
  • By running challenges, you can become an authority and then grow your following on your website.
  • You will get to know your readers on a personal level through running challenges.
  • Make your challenge simple, with bite size steps. 
  • Subscribe to other challenges to learn about them. 
  • Jump in and try them out yourself!

Resources Mentioned

Other great resources to learn about running challenges:

Check out Build Your Challenge course by Jenna Kutcher. She walks through everything from how to pick a topic, all the way through to completing it.

Simple Green Smoothies by Jadah Sellner

Transcript

Click for full text.

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:

Food bloggers, hey! The new Eat Blog Talk Community platform is here! One of my favorite things about the platform is the Mastermind program, where you will be placed in a group of like-minded food bloggers that will meet regularly. Masterminds are so important for success, which is why it is one of the pillar features within the community. So you can start feeling more connected and more confident as a food blogger visit, eatblogtalk.com to get the details. See you there!

What’s up food bloggers? Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast to meet for you, food bloggers seeking value for your businesses and your lives. Today I have Denise from Sweet Peas and Saffron with me on the show. And we are going to talk about how to build connection and community with your readers by running challenges. Denise has been a food blogger at Sweet Peas and Saffron since 2012. For the first four to five years, she blogged about everything from healthy to indulgent foods and never really felt like she had a community. In 2016, Denise decided to take the leap and niche down on the topic of meal prep. By focusing on a niche topic and hosting live meal prep challenges, she was able to build a community and connection with her readers and finally felt like she had a real home in the blogging world.

Denise, this is such a great topic to cover, and I’m really excited to chat with you about running challenges, but first give us a fun fact about yourself.

Denise Bustard:

Thank you so much for having me on your podcast. So one fun fact about me is I have a PhD in biochemistry. So I actually started my blog in the middle of my degree as a fun creative outlet. Then by the end of it, I kind of was able to transition into being a full-time food blogger. So never expected that when I started it.

Megan:

I don’t think many food bloggers can say that they have that background. That makes you really unique. That is definitely a fun fact. Well, thanks for sharing that. So Denise, it’s becoming more and more evident that when food bloggers niche down and focus in on a really specific way to serve an audience, that they are massively rewarded. I’m seeing that more and more, people talk to me about that all the time. So it sounds like you have done just that by focusing on a really specific niche or problem people are having. For you it’s meal prep, by running challenges that support the people inside that niche. So I just think challenges are super intriguing. It’s something that I’ve never launched into myself, and I’m kind of excited to learn from you today. So would you start by talking about free challenges because I know our audiences all love that word free and kind of how those work.

Denise:

Sure. So a challenge is just an event that you put on by your blog, but it’s outside of your normal recipe content. The goal of the challenge is to teach people a new skill in bite sized pieces, or to encourage them in some way to take action on something when they might need just a little extra push to get started. The key to running a challenge is that you want the readers to experience some sort of transformation. So with my meal prep challenges, I’m teaching people how to meal prep because there’s a bit of a learning curve involved. People really like to have their handheld a little bit when getting started. But it also, because there’s a certain amount of effort you have to put in with meal prep, it also helps people get that push and that accountability factor to actually get it done.

Then through the challenge, they experience all the benefits of meal prep. So reducing their stress around meal times, saving money and eating a little bit healthier. Then through the challenge, it gets people familiar with you as a person and your recipes. It helps to build trust, which I think is really important for food blogs, especially if you’re maybe a smaller food blog. People might not be familiar with your name, but if you’re able to build trust with people through this sort of thing, I think that’s really a good thing.

Megan:

Trust is so huge. I think we see that all the time, even with Google, that’s one of their core aspects. You need to build trust with your audience. It’s really important for the user side too, user experience. So what a great way to do that just by encouraging people, holding them accountable, reducing stress. I mean, everything you listed, everyone would sign up for it. Yes, yes, please, save money. So just that factor of building trust with your audience. So talk to us about how to start with a free challenge.

Denise:

I can walk you through how I run my challenges. The structure of my challenge is, first I should mention that I do run different challenges based on the time of year because people are interested in different food topics depending on the time of the year. So for whatever reason, people are super interested in meal prep for their lunches in January. I’m still not entirely sure why, but that one was a huge hit. So it’s permanent in January for us. Then in the fall, we run a stock up the freezer challenge because people are more interested in prepping, stocking up their freezers. So my challenges take place through email. I send out two emails over the course of two weeks. Two emails per week, I should say, over the course of two weeks. They have a meal plan, some recipes and a shopping list.

So basically everything they need to meal prep the recipes for each week. So it’s a big email. It’s got a lot of information and in order to access that information, they need to subscribe to my email list. For a long time, that was actually my only opt in. I’ve since created a second opt in to go in between the challenges. So I always have something going for people. I also have a Facebook group and I think that’s the key to building community. So in the group, I post daily prompts throughout the challenge, just to get people interacting and answering questions and we have prizes. So to enter, to win a prize, you have to post a picture of your completed meal prep. That really helps. I think, especially once the challenge gets started and if people are feeling they’re not sure if they really want to do this, but if they see all of these pictures happening on the Sunday when we do our prep, it’s really encouraging for them. I’ve heard so many times people say, I was going to just not do it again, but I saw all the pictures and I couldn’t not do it, you know?

Megan:

Oh yeah. That’s great. The Facebook group is a really great way to kind of bring everyone together because like you said, people mentioned, well, I wasn’t going to do it, but I’m seeing other people are doing it. When you see other people doing it that motivates you to do it yourself. So that’s our really smart part of this that I would not have thought of. You pretty much constantly have some challenge going at any given time. Do you have a single Facebook group for all of those people or do you host different groups for different challenges? Or how does that go?

Denise:

I actually only do three to four challenges a year. Some people have challenges, it’s just an email, air quotes, the challenge and it’s running all the time. But the key, I think to a successful challenge, is to have everybody in it together doing the same thing at the same time. There’s just something so contagious about that and so inspirational just to feel like you’re a part of something. We have challenges in January and usually sometime in the spring. Sometimes I’ve had them in the summer. Although with the summer slump and blogging, I haven’t had it for the past couple of years. It’s just always been pretty quiet, but then we also have one in September for back to school. I do have the Facebook group for all of the challenges and something that I kind of go back and forth on is that our group is pretty quiet in between the challenges and that’s kind of for my own mental health. It’s really a lot of energy required during the challenge. It’s important for me to rest in between. For a while, I was trying to kind of keep things going in the group in between. I would get burned out with that and with everything else bloggers have on their plate, that’s how I’ve decided to run mine.

Megan:

I think that’s smart. So you do three to four a year and you said that each one is about two weeks or what is the length that you usually stick to?

Denise:

So I’ve played around with this. I used to do three weeks and I always found by the third week that people were kind of starting to get tired. It was kind of petering out. So I’ve reduced it to two weeks. So one thing I learned about this whole challenge thing from Jadah Sellner, who was the co-founder of simple green smoothies. She’s the challenge expert. She recommends that you have a shorter challenge because it just feels more doable for people and they maintain their excitement throughout. So she actually recommends doing a one week challenge where you send out daily emails and people are taking daily action.

Megan:

That’s great. I never would’ve thought of that. Whenever I think of challenges, I think 30 days in checking in periodically, but that might be too long.

Denise:

Simple Green Smoothies used to do a 30 day challenge where you drink a green smoothie every day for 30 days, but they’ve actually changed to a seven day challenge because they were just finding that people were not maintaining their enthusiasm all the way through the end. I believe. They’ve just found more success in shortening it.

Megan:

That’s very interesting. The attention span, right? People have that really short and it’s exciting. You get into a challenge. Someone is challenging you to do something and it’s really exciting at first. Then you get maybe 10 days in and then you start to lose steam. So I get that. I’ve been there too. At first you’re like, yes, I’m going to do this. Then, 30 days is so far off. You can’t even imagine getting there.

Denise:

Especially if you have a product to offer at the end, if you wait for 30 days, people are just tired by the end. If they’re like, yes, I did it. What’s next. Then you have a product to offer them. Then you can really capitalize on that enthusiasm and excitement.

Megan:

Okay. So you do a couple of them a year. How did you test this out? How did you find that January was good for meal prep and fall is good for freezer meals. How did you sort that out?

Denise:

Just honestly through experimentation. My first challenge was actually a breakfast prep challenge. So my first challenge had 50 people join. Because for me meal prepping, my breakfast was the big thing for me that really helped me out personally. So I thought that was going to be something that everybody was interested in, but people are just less interested in breakfast. My first challenge had 70 or 50 people I believe. My second one had around 250 and my third one was in January 2017. New Year’s resolution season. I put a sign up link on a video that went viral and I got 15,000 people in my third challenge. It was pretty crazy. I was honestly really scared of 15,000 people making this recipe.

Megan:

Oh goodness. I don’t even, I can’t even comprehend that number. I would be freaking out too. Goodness. Well, that’s great though. I mean, people were obviously interested in what you were having to offer, so that’s great. So then right there, you’re like, okay. Yes, this is what people are wanting. Then you just keep doing that year after year.

Denise:

Exactly. Yep.

Megan:

Oh my gosh. So testing a little bit. Then obviously if you get a handful of people, it’s probably not the best idea, but if you get 15,000 people, then yes, you’ve hit a home run.

Denise:

Sometimes it just takes a little luck too, because you know, like I said, the timing of food interests, people are really into meal prep in the New Year and that’s just something I accidentally stumbled upon. You might try a challenge and it’s not super popular, but you try it like another time and it might take off, it just takes a little luck and good timing sometimes I think.

Megan:

That’s a really good point. Maybe it’s not necessarily the topic, but the topic plus the timing. So try again. That is hard. We kind of all test that out with our blogs and what works, just general recipes posting on our blogs, what works and what doesn’t and what timing works and what timing doesn’t. So it’s just kind of an extension of that except with challenges. So how do you get people? Where do you find these people? Obviously you must have an email list and you seek people out there, but are there other ways that you can get people interested?

Denise:

So when I started, I mostly just posted on all my social media channels that I was having it. At that point, I didn’t have a huge community. For me, after that first challenge or the third challenge where I had 15,000 people, I feel like that really got the ball rolling for me. I have had a lot of return challengers ever since then. I do ask them to help me spread the word I also have. It used to be my only email opt-in, now I have a separate opt-in. And so I also emailed that section of my list to say, Hey, I’m having a challenge. It’s starting next week, click this link if you want to join. I also put a post on my Facebook page and I’ll boost it. I tried playing around with Facebook ads and I find it super overwhelming. That’s a whole thing. So that’s how I have done it.

Megan:

No, that’s great. So do you feel like these people who are taking your challenges are really loyal audience members for you? Do they come to your blog as well? Or do they just come to you for the challenges?

Denise:

I think it was a great way to introduce me to new people initially. I think that I personally feel like it was the key to growing a community around my blog and centering myself as a meal prep expert. So over the years I see these people come back. I see them come back to challenge after challenge and I see them commenting on the blog. So I do feel like it really helped me build a community. I often poll them at the start of a challenge and it’s usually these days about 50/50 new people and those returning.

Megan:

Interesting. So it establishes you as an expert. It helps you to build trust with your people and also build community. I think those are all things that we can all say we really want for our businesses and our blogs. So there really is no reason why we shouldn’t test with this. I mean, aside from it takes a little bit of time when you’re actually in the challenge to go into the group and communicate, other than that, there’s really no downfall.

Denise:

Yeah. I think like the first couple challenges you run, it does take a little effort to get it up and running, but then you can get a format. One thing I’m working on now is, I used to run new menus every time. That means rewriting all the emails and reshooting the video demos that I do. What we’ve done now is we’re going to just like a permanent January challenge, a permanent fall challenge, and I’m working on a permanent spring challenge as well.

Megan:

That’s very smart.

Denise:

It should be easier going forward to rerun them.

Megan:

Yeah. You can probably streamline as you go, so you don’t have to spend quite as much time. So do you ever do live videos inside the groups or do you just reply to comments?

Denise:

So I think for meal prep, especially, it’s really important to see how you’re prepping. Because I’m prepping multiple meals at a time. I think it’s important for them to see how to do that. I’ve always done a video component. Initially that was just a Facebook live in my terrible orange kitchen. But now we do more professional looking YouTube style videos. So, you know, we’ve kind of evolved a little bit but I think just work with what you’ve got.

Megan:

Then you just repurpose those or do you do them fresh every challenge?

Denise:

I repurpose them now. I used to do a Facebook live every challenge, but now I just repurpose the YouTube videos.

Megan:

Okay. So running challenges obviously benefits us. Do you have any other ways that it could benefit us as bloggers, especially these free challenges because they take a lot of time. I mean, especially up front when you’re just getting started, they’re an investment of time. So what good things can come out of this for us?

Denise:

I really got to know my readers on a personal level through this because at the start of the challenge, I always ask them, what are you hoping to get out of this? I feel like, you know, when you’re just, when you’re blogging, you can see what posts get traffic and what’s trending on Pinterest, that kind of thing. But seeing people’s faces or their Facebook profile pictures and reading their words of what they’re struggling with, it can really help you connect with them on a deeper level and just understanding the struggles that they have. One of the best parts of the challenge is at the end, I always ask them, what is a small victory you’ve experienced during the challenge. Just to read that people have had more time with their family or they’ve eaten healthier or they’ve lost weight. It’s just so fulfilling to feel like you’re really helping somebody out. So that was huge for me.

Megan:

So it truly is something that provides value or it should be for your readers. You should be able to see that. I love that you asked that question, like, what was your favorite thing or what did you get out of this the most? Do you ever ask, you may have said this already. I’m sorry. But did you say that when they start the challenge that you ask what their struggles are, what they’re hoping to gain?

Denise:

I do. Sometimes they’re asking an awful lot of a challenge. For example, I want to lose 10 kilograms or something like that. You’re not going to get that from this. I try to help them adjust their expectations to be a little more realistic. I do like to see what people are struggling with in that way and how else I can help them.

Megan:

How large is your Facebook group, because I’m sure that you accumulate people, every challenge. So how many people are in there currently?

Denise:

I think it’s about 15,000. It might be more. Some people stick around for multiple challenges and some people are one and done. Actually a lot of people don’t have Facebook, which is really interesting. So I do make the challenge accessible to those people and they get all the recipes via email and they can watch the video demo on YouTube. So there’s a lot of people who do sign up, but aren’t in the group.

Megan:

Interesting. It’s funny when you find those people that aren’t on Facebook or but you have to find a way to accommodate them because if they want to take your challenge, you obviously want to deliver that information to them. So where do we go from free challenges? Let’s say we have a product we want to sell or a service or something to incorporate in, where do we, and how do we include that?

Denise:

There’s a couple of kinds of different ways that you can do this. So one way that I monetize it slightly, is that I offer a recipe card kit for my challenge. So all the recipes are available for free, but if you want them all in one place and you don’t want to be digging through your email account for them, then you can purchase the card kit. I sell that for $5 and personally also offer a bundle of meal prep eBooks. I’m still very much learning about the ebook thing, but that is another thing that seems to require a lot of experimentation. So I do try to pair up an ebook sale with the meal prep challenge. This year, I coincided the end of my sale, my new year’s ebook sale with the end of my meal prep challenge. That kind of pairs the excitement surrounding the challenge with the scarcity of the ebook price going up. That was pretty successful. But I’m still playing around. I think it’s really smart to have, if you have some sort of service to use the challenge as a sort of sample of your service, but I don’t offer services. So I can’t really speak to that.

Megan:

That’s a great way to pull people in. Hey, I’m offering this and then people get really intrigued and maybe they see a difference in their lives or their business or whatever they’re there for. Then they’re like, Oh, I need more. So they dive in even more.

Denise:

Yeah. One thing I’m playing around with is, I’m working on a dinner prep challenge and it’s going to be two weeks of a meal plan where you spend one to two hours prepping for dinners for the week. Then after the challenge, I’ll offer them a six week basically the same thing, but six weeks of it as a paid ebook. We’ll see how that does. I’m still testing it and all the recipes.

Megan:

Yeah, a lot of testing is involved and also some strategy because you have to think through what people want, think through that whole scarcity mentality. We don’t have much left or just thinking through all of that. What is the book that I just read about that? Oh, The Launch book. Have you ever read that by Jeff Walker.

Denise:

I hear people talk about it all the time, but I’ve never read it.

Megan:

I just read that and it’s so great because he talks about the mental processes that go on when you’re buying something or being marketed to. He talks about all these different factors like scarcity and there’s a bunch more, but it’s so interesting. Ever since I read that, I notice how I react to marketing and it’s spot on. If people are doing the scarcity thing for me, Oh no, I have to grab that before it leaves but it does require some forethought and strategy and testing, like you’re doing Denise. Just seeing what works and what doesn’t, and experimenting with length and topic and season, and also coinciding it with other products. So that’s really fun, I think. Or do you find it exhausting?

Denise:

For me, it’s important to have an alternative source of income because relying on ads is a little scary to me, especially with the fluctuations that we’re seeing in this season right now. It’s a little bit of a roller coaster. So I do find eBooks to be a lot of work, but I’ll also say that when you get the right thing, the right messaging and timing and product, that it can really pay off. So I’m definitely continuing to build it out. But I will say that it’s definitely people who say it’s passive income. It’s definitely not passive income. You have to market it. And that’s something I’m trying to get comfortable with myself. I’m not really a super sales-y kind of person and I’m trying to get comfortable with that, but it definitely gets easier the more you do it.

Megan:

I think that’s a good point because marketing is not easy. It’s actually the least easy part for me personally, Creating content is so fun. I love it. I think all of us enjoy that part, but when it comes to actually promoting ourselves and our content and the things that we create, I would rather not, but it is so worthwhile when you dig into it and figure it out. Just reading through this Launch book has been really huge for me because I tend to make stuff and just put it out there and just pray that it does well. Then when it doesn’t, I’m like, what happened? It was great. I loved it. But you have to think through all of that. I think challenges definitely require you thinking through all of those things as well. So let’s talk about logistics. So how do you go from start to finish? Do you promote on all of your channels? Do you promote on social media? What is the flow? So you decide on a topic and a time, you send it out to your email list and then, where does it go from there? Do you go to Facebook, Instagram? How does that work?

Denise:

I’ll post it in my Facebook group and I’ll say, Hey, if you’ve loved the challenge, I would love your help in spreading the word. Can you invite a friend or just let them know that we’re having another challenge. I’ll also go to my Facebook page and I’ll post a couple of different images over the course of a few weeks, leading up to it and just boost them so that people actually see them. You can also create an event for your page on Facebook. That sometimes helps people learn about the challenge because I have the two different segments of my email list. I’ll send out an email to the people who are not tagged with challenges and say, Hey, we’re having a challenge. Then they can click and get added to the challenge list. I also share on Instagram and in Instagram stories, but to be honest, I haven’t really figured out the Instagram piece of the puzzle. I do share during the challenge, like, Hey, we’re having a challenge, but the party’s kinda on Facebook, so go over there.

Megan:

Yeah. That would be hard to integrate both major social platforms. You find your one. I think we all have like that one platform and then you kind of stick to it because they’re not the same. It’s a totally different feel and purpose for each. So I can see what you mean. You have it on Facebook, go to that party and I’ll direct you there.

Denise:

Other people have run challenges without a Facebook group and they just say, use the hashtag for the challenge. Then they would promote these people, share their images in their Instagram stories and that kind of thing. But I like the setting of a Facebook group, because over time I’ve even seen participants start to interact with each other and it just feels more like we’re in something together.

Megan:

It’s a big party. I like that. So let’s say that someone is just testing the waters, where do they start? Do they just randomly pick a topic? Do they send out a survey? I had this idea the other day, because I was thinking about doing maybe a challenge or something. I thought about sending out a survey to my basic email list and providing a few different topic ideas and seeing what people picked. Do you think that’s a good strategy or is there a different way to go about that? If you’re really fresh, just starting out, you really have no idea where to start.

Denise:

When I was first thinking about doing a challenge, I took Jedah Sellner’s Build Your Challenge course. She basically walked you through even how to pick a topic and she recommended picking your drug of choice, which is kind of a funny way to call it. But the thing that got you hooked on whatever you want to teach them about. That’s why when I was doing my meal prep challenges, I thought, breakfast because I’m not a morning person and I was skipping breakfast and it was a disaster. So that was what I picked. She helps you map through the whole structure of the challenge. My challenge is actually kind of weird because I only emailed twice a week over two weeks, but most people would pick one week and then email every day. Some ideas could be how to use an Instant Pot or how to use an air fryer or some other equipment. A daily ritual for some sort of wellness challenge, like the way that simple green smoothies does drink a green smoothie every day. You could introduce people to a specific type of diet, like low carb or vegan. If people are curious about if that’s the right diet for them, that kind of thing. Then you just want to really break it down into very doable steps, very bite sized pieces.

Megan:

Because that is something that people can digest. Giving them too much right away is probably just a recipe for disaster, I would imagine.

Denise:

Yeah. Even my challenge is kind of asking a lot of people because I mean, for the lunch prep challenge, we’re prepping three recipes because it’s a packed lunch challenge. So there’s snacks as well. I mean I’m asking people to go to the grocery store and spend one to two hours in the kitchen. It’s a big ask. A challenge that had more bite-sized pieces might be more successful.

Megan:

Yeah, definitely. Do you have any other general tips for people who are thinking about running challenges and just starting out?

Denise:

I think it’s good to consider the seasons. New Year’s resolution season is huge for healthy food bloggers. So if you’re in the healthy food space, that is a really great time to run a challenge. Maybe running a challenge during the holidays might not be really great. Actually, during March I was going to do a spring challenge, but the word challenge wasn’t really sitting super well with me with what everyone’s been going through. So we pivoted away from a challenge. Plus I didn’t want people going to the grocery store when we’re supposed to be sheltering in place. So we pivoted and we had a pantry meal cook-in, which is just cook anything from any blog using what you have in your pantry. It was such a good diversion.

Megan:

Yeah. I like that you even changed the word challenge to just cook in because we don’t need any more of that word in our lives, I feel like. So that was really, that was considerate and very smart too.

Denise:

Yeah. It was so good to have a little corner of Facebook that wasn’t political or didn’t have scary medical graphs or anything. People really liked that. But you know, as we’re getting started, I really did like the course that I took or you can go and subscribe to somebody else’s challenge. You guys can subscribe to my challenge, although I’m not sure when the next one will be. Probably in the fall, but I know like Simple Green Smoothies, they’ve been doing it for a really long time, so they know what they’re doing. Maybe subscribe to other people’s challenges and see how they’re doing it and polling your audience couldn’t hurt. I think you gotta at a certain point just jump in and try it out.

Megan:

I agree. We’re in this place right now where we’re ad revenue is kind of scary. It’s all over the place. We don’t really know what’s going on in the world or with our revenue. A lot of us have just like that one main stream of revenue and that is definitely scary. So jumping into new ways to earn income and revenue is so appealing for me and for so many other food bloggers, I think. So this is one great way to do that. Then to kind of think through beyond the challenge, like how can I add a product here? What would incorporate well, maybe you’re good at doing coaching for something or I don’t know what that would be, but I think there is a lot of opportunity here and how cool that you’ve tapped into this. How long have you been doing this, the challenges?

Denise:

Since 2016.e So I think I’ve done 14 challenges, but I honestly lost count at this point.

Megan:

That’s a lot. That’s great. What is your one main thing that you’ve learned from these challenges, from starting a challenge to challenge 14, what is the one thing that you would say you were doing wrong in the beginning or that you’ve just learned something valuable?

Denise:

I think in the beginning I was focused way too much on the numbers. I was really bummed out that I only had 50 people in my first challenge, but in retrospect it was really good that it started small because I made mistakes and I fixed them. I learned little things like emails mysteriously vanish in cyberspace. So I need to have a copy of everything on my website. Things like that. I think focusing on the numbers just focused on like how many people you do have and that you’re helping these people. That’s what I would say.

Megan:

That’s great. I think we’ve covered so much. Well thank you Denise, for sharing your amazing knowledge with us. I think this is going to inspire me for sure. A lot of other food bloggers take the leap into making a challenge. It doesn’t have to be a big ordeal, right? I mean, we could start really small, start a Facebook group. Have reasonable expectations about numbers. Don’t focus on the numbers that you get disappointed and just see what happens. There’s really no harm in just testing it out.

Denise:

You can even use recipes that are already on your site. If you’re doing an Instant Pot challenge, you could say let’s start with the easiest Instant Pot recipe and you could progress. It doesn’t have to necessarily be completely new exclusive content.

Megan:

Right. I liked what you mentioned earlier when you were talking about monetization and just creating a recipe card kit for $5 and people can go find those exact recipes on your blog, but not altogether. So there’s value in putting things together in one space where they can just have easy access to it. So I thought that was really smart too.

Denise:

People also really love a meal plan, especially if it has a shopping list. So not even just the fact that they don’t have to track down all the recipes, but people will pay for a meal plan. Actually all of the recipes in my eBooks are already on my blog, but you know, what they get by buying the bundle is that they get everything altogether. But I also have some meal plans so that they can put them together and just makes it a little easier.

Megan:

A lot easier, I think. Even if you’re not necessarily focusing on meal plans or meal prep, like you used Instant Pot as an example, you could still give people Instant Pot recipes and include a meal plan and a shopping list. That is super valuable because the least amount of work people need to do is valued. Especially right now when we’re all stressed and just wanting to eliminate garbage from our lives. So I think that’s pretty valuable right now. Well, thank you again, Denise so much for being here before you go, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to share with food bloggers?

Denise:

No specific quote, but I think it’s important right now to remember that everybody’s going through something and it’s important to be really compassionate right now with everybody.

Megan:

It is. Grace, right? That’s my word right now. Just everyone deals with this situation so differently, myself included, I am dealing with it in ways that I never expected. So I feel like I want other people to have grace with me while I need to keep that in mind too. I need to have grace with so many other people. It’s just a time that we never expected, anticipated. We just don’t know. So I love it. It is a crazy year. This will never be forgotten for sure.

Denise:

That’s what I’ve been telling my son. They’re going to write about this in the history books. He’s like, really!?

Megan:

You’re going down in history. Well, I’m going to put together a list of resources and everything that we’ve talked about today and I’ll put those in Denise’s show notes and those can be found at eatblogtalk.com/deniseb. Denise, tell my listeners the best place to find you online.

Denise:

I’m pretty well everywhere at Sweet Peas and Saffron. Facebook, Instagram, my blog, Pinterest, and now on TikToK.

Megan:

Oh, look at that. Awesome. Well, thanks again for being here, Denise, and thank you for listening, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Outro:

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.


💥 Join the EBT community, where you will gain confidence and clarity as a food blogger so you don’t feel so overwhelmed by ALL THE THINGS!

📩 Sign up for FLODESK, the email service provider with intuitive, gorgeous templates and a FLAT MONTHLY RATE (no more rate increases when you acquire subscribers!).

Read this post about why I switched from Convertkit to Flodesk!

pinterest image for running challenges

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.

View all posts

Comments are closed, but trackbacks and pingbacks are open.