In episode 435, Carmen Spillette teaches us the latest strategies to grow our blogs and gain success in the food blogging industry, especially if we’re just starting out.
In this episode, we talk about what it means to treat your blog like a business, how videography should be handled as a blogger, why it’s important to post every day, how AI and project management software will help you level up and learn the mindset and time management strategies from successful people.
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Bio Carmen is a food blogger from Victoria – Canada. Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom. Carmen started her food blog spring of 2022. It has always been a dream to share and she had the courage to start and never looked back. Last year, Carmen gained 106,000 followers on Instagram in 5 months and she’s excited to have qualified for Mediavine on April 2023.
- Invest in yourself!
- Invest in your business – tools, courses, SEO, equipment.
- Know your audience and niche, who you’re serving.
- Don’t reinvent the wheel.
- Grow your skills – photography, videography, and social media management.
- Utilize free resources like podcasts.
- Post every day. What’s good for IG isn’t right for Google all the time but post somewhere.
- Make a weekly content calendar so you don’t get overwhelmed by the monthly calendar.
- Put together SOP and use project management software.
- Do not be scared to use AI in your business.
- Time blocking and batch work.
- Be hungry for being successful.
- Book: Atomic Habits and Influencer: Building Your Personal Brand in the Age of Social Media
Click for full script.
EBT435 – Carmen Spillette
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. As there are so many food bloggers out there looking for success and looking for ways to grow their businesses in the best, smartest way possible, I feel like there’s a new formula that is required if you want to get into this food blogging niche and find quick success. It is so different from the old formula of three to five to seven and beyond years ago. Carmen Spillette joins me here in this episode. She’s from eatwithcarmen.com and she provides this formula. She started food blogging one year ago. She’s in an ad network. She’s found quick success in so many different realms of this business, and it’s amazing and super inspiring. So I know you’re going to love this. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or a new blogger, you will find value in this episode and there will be plenty of gems that you can take away. So tune in and listen to the entire thing because it goes right to the end. The good stuff is permeated throughout the entire thing. Episode number 435. This is such a great one. It’s one of my favorites I’ve recorded in a really long time. Thank you, Carmen. It is sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hello, my favorite people. Let’s chat quickly about some ways Eat Blog Talk can help you ditch the overwhelm, manage your time, feel connected, and prioritize that seemingly never ending stream of tasks, platforms, and algorithm changes we’re faced with.
The Eat Blog Talk Mastermind program is our signature offering and the best investment you will make in your blogging business. This is a transformative 12 month experience that will help you achieve your goals faster than you ever thought possible. Join the waitlist for 2024 groups. Go to eatblogtalk.com/mastermind to get in on that. If the mastermind program is on your dream board, but you aren’t quite ready to make that investment in your business yet, the next perfect step for you might be the Eat Blog Talk Mini Minds. This six month program is designed to help you achieve your goals and overcome any obstacles that may be holding you back so you can experience the freedoms you’re yearning for. Join the waitlist for groups starting in Q4 of 2023 at Eatblogtalk.com/miniminds.
If you are ready to learn, grow, and build relationships in person, join me and a handful of your fellow food bloggers at an upcoming Eat Blog Talk retreat. This is a great opportunity to convene in an intimate setting, to learn, collaborate, and connect. These retreats involve mastermind style peer to peer collaboration and are incredibly powerful and fun experiences. Go to eatblogtalk.com/retreat.
To get information about all Eat Blog Talk services, go to eatblogtalk.com/services, eatblogtalk.com/services. Now back to the episode.
Megan Porta: Carmen is a food blogger from Victoria, Canada. Currently, she is a stay at home mom. Carmen started her food blog in the spring of 2022. It has always been a dream to share and she had the courage to start and never looked back.
Last year, Carmen gained 106,000 followers on Instagram in just five months. She’s excited to have qualified for Mediavine very recently. Carmen, thank you for joining me on Eat Blog Talk. How are you doing? How’s your day going?
Carmen Spillette: Hi. Hi, Megan. I’m good. Thank you. How are you?
Megan Porta: I’m good. It’s a nice sunny day, so I can’t complain. I’m excited to get outside, to be honest with you. But I’m really excited for this chat because I know you have a lot of lessons to share with us about blogging in general. But before we get to that, do you have a fun fact you want to share with us?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, so my fun fact is actually I was born and I grew up in the Philippines and I immigrated here in Canada with my family when I was 12. So I learned how to speak English by watching Disney movies.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love that. Oh my gosh. Do you have some favorites? Favorite Disney movies?
Carmen Spillette: Every single one. I just actually watched the latest Little Mermaid live action in the movie theaters with my son. I made him watch it. It was very cool. He hated every minute of it.
Megan Porta: Oh, did he? I have one son who would totally go watch it and another who would rather die than probably go into the theater. But I’m curious, did you like it?
Carmen Spillette: Oh, I loved it. Honestly, Disney has a soft spot in my heart for sure. So it’s very cool to see.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’m excited to see it. I think it’ll be on my list this summer as well.
Carmen Spillette: Bring your one son. Bribe him with popcorn and snacks and he’ll go. It’s awesome.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s all he needs. A big bucket of popcorn and candy and yeah, we’re all over it. Alright first, before we get into your amazing lessons that you’ve learned so far in your blogging journey, do you want to tell us just a little bit about when you started your blog and talk us through how that’s gone?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, so a little bit of intro. This has always been my dream. I’ve had this idea of starting a food blog for about six, seven years. I actually bought a used DSLR camera and I just had it in my closet for so long. Last year I just decided, you know what? Life is too short. My father died from cancer last year and I realized it’s now or never. So I picked up the camera. I started listening to your podcast. I started listening to Blogging Millionaire, Food Blogger Pro Podcast. I just went from there. It’s been just over a year. I started last April and it’s been the best journey. It’s just been really awesome.
Megan Porta: What is your niche?
Carmen Spillette: My niche is Asian food. I wanted to make easy Asian food, because that’s what I cook every day for my family. I cook a lot of things, but primarily Asian food. My kids are half Filipino and half Caucasian, and so I wanted to make sure that they get everything.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I’m looking at your blog now. Your photos are so gorgeous. Were you a food photographer before you started blogging or a photographer?
Carmen Spillette: Nope.
Megan Porta: Wow. That’s amazing.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. So one of the things that I did was I invested in myself and I did Foodtography school. I knew that first thing first, it’s like people need to click on the picture. So I really started my food photography. So thank you. I appreciate that. That’s very kind.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Then how is your blog done?
Carmen Spillette: It’s very new. It’s just over a year.
Megan Porta: In the blogging world, that’s very young.
Carmen Spillette: Thank you.
Megan Porta: So how is it doing traffic wise?
Carmen Spillette: Traffic wise, it’s doing really well. I just got into Mediavine a couple months ago.
Megan Porta: Congratulations.
Carmen Spillette: So that was really cool to have money coming in. So that’s nice. It’s been great. You just have To immerse yourself and just jump. You don’t even look back. Don’t let imposter syndrome get you. Although it does, I deal with it all the time, but you just gotta go.
Megan Porta: Everyone does. It’s not just for the bloggers who have just started. Everyone deals with that. So yeah. Okay. So in your young journey, you’ve gotten really far already. You’re already on an ad network. That’s amazing. Congratulations. So there are some lessons that you’ve learned along the way, and that’s what we’re going to talk through today. So tell us what one of the lessons are that you have learned so far.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, so let’s start with treating it like a business day one. You got to know your audience .You got to know your niche. It will change over time but as soon as you know the idea of your customer and who you’re serving, it is really important and that’s how I who I make content for. So for my website I know that I make easy Asian meals for busy moms. A lot of my recipes are like less than eight ingredients. I try to make it really simple and quick and fast. I love using the air fryer because if you know as a mom, you are juggling way too many things. So that’s how I’ve grown as a food blogger.
Megan Porta: These days you need to know that. Back when I started, you didn’t need to know that. You just could put up random whatever. But if you start a food blog now, you have to know exactly what you’re doing and who you’re serving. That is step one. If you want it to be a business, you’ve got to treat it like a business.
Carmen Spillette: Exactly. So that’s how I started. I took a picture of my friend and I was like that is who I’m making content for so I just have that idea. So I visualized so I’m making the content for and started from there.
Megan Porta: I love that. Okay. So you have an actual visual so you can connect it in your mind.
Carmen Spillette: Exactly. Like how much money they make, what they do for a living, how many kids they have. I just wanted it to be very clear from the get go. Just having clarity in who you’re making content for, basically.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s really good advice. Thank you. Okay. That’s how you get started. That’s how you establish it right off the bat. What do you need to do next? What other lessons have you learned?
Carmen Spillette: Invest in your website. Treat it like you build a store. Invest like you would in inventory, staffing, learning. I invested in a feast theme. I did think about it for a long time. So I did it six months after I started my food blog and it has been the best investment ever. I did all the plugins that he recommended. Courses like Sophia’s blogging and Pinterest course, Foodtography school, and Cooking with Keywords. Because I knew nothing about blogging, I knew nothing about SEO, knew nothing about food photography. So I learned from other people who’ve had success and so I didn’t have to reinvent the wheel and just did my own path from there.
Megan Porta: There is a path now. A lot of people have paved the path for those of you who are starting now and that is very fortunate for you. I didn’t have that path.
Carmen Spillette: Exactly.
Megan Porta: So follow the path. It’s been paved in this world. Yeah, it saves you so much time.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. Do not reinvent the wheel and don’t think you’re too smart because you’re not. It is a very tough road if you want to be serious in this. So learn.
Megan Porta: Love it. And then can you tell me just a few key things that you love about the feast theme because I agree with you. I always love hearing it from other people. Why are you glad you invested in that?
Carmen Spillette: Feast theme, let’s be real, everybody uses it. If everybody’s using it, It must be doing something great. So that was my first initial thought of it. Then once I dug deep into what he did, he just optimized your website. The Feast theme is the reason I got into Mediavine by 110%. As soon as I got into fees, two months later, I was on Mediavine. So it’s amazing. Just knowing Pinterest. Pinterest, a lot of people, they get scared. So I took Sophia’s Blogging Pinterest course and it was very helpful because I had no idea what Pinterest was. Foodtography school, food styling is probably one of the biggest parts of our jobs. So you got to learn how to make that plate look great. Because you can have the best recipe, the best food in the world, but if you don’t know how to style it, if you don’t know how to take a picture, no one’s going to click on it. So you got to do that. SEO, let’s be real. Our life is SEO.
Megan Porta: Yeah, this is our life. I haven’t taken Cooking With Keywords, but I’ve heard so many great things about it. I’ve had Aleka on the podcast and I know it’s transformed a lot of people’s businesses. So it’s really good to hear that’s been the case with you as well.
Carmen Spillette: Yes. I love her course, but SEO is not something that makes me excited to get up and go do it, but you gotta do it.
Megan Porta: You do. Yep. It’s a necessary, I won’t call it an evil, it’s a necessary task.
Carmen Spillette: Yes. Yes.
Megan Porta: All right. What is lesson number three that you’ve learned?
Carmen Spillette: Okay. Learn all the skills. You gotta learn how to do videography nowadays. A lot of bloggers that are prominent in our space, they didn’t have to learn videography. But now, if you’re new and you want to get ahead, you have to learn videography. Food photography, SEO, social media management, managing your website. You gotta learn all the things. But videography is probably my most important tip for everybody. Because I grew my Instagram following from zero to 106,000 followers in five months. So that’s really helped with my traffic. You have to learn how to do that. Whenever I cook something, I do photos and process shots as well as videography. I learned how to edit. You just gotta do it. It’s part of the game. That is the reason I’ve gotten my success is because videos are super important.
Megan Porta: So you have traffic from Instagram, correct? You get traffic?
Carmen Spillette: Yes, a lot.
Megan Porta: At what point would you say that kind of started happening? Because I know there’s a tipping point for some people, around the 50k mark or something along those lines.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, so I started to get it when I had one viral video. I realized I have to show them where to go to get the website. So I was just very determined at the very beginning. The tipping point was definitely my first viral. So I had 5,000 followers at that point. The moment my viral recipe went crazy, I started to get a thousand followers a day.
Megan Porta: Whoa.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. That’s amazing. It was great. The traffic was crazy. So whenever you have a good recipe, you will get pushback for not putting the recipe down in the captions, but at that point, I was just, you know what? They gotta go. The whole point of this is to drive traffic to the website. So you just have to be strong.
Megan Porta: rBe strong.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, be strong.
Megan Porta: Which one went viral? Was it a reel? Do you remember what?
Carmen Spillette: It was definitely a reel. The photos don’t get any kind of traffic. Reels, definitely. Reels.
Megan Porta: Do you remember the recipe or the topic?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, I have a few now. I got garlic miso chicken thighs. I have Three Cups Chicken. I there’s several, but a lot of chicken dishes. Definitely, people love the easy chicken recipes. So those ones, they do really well.
Megan Porta: Okay. Then do you do a reel like every day? How often are you publishing those reels on Instagram?
Carmen Spillette: I like to publish three. I used to publish two a week, but Instagram doesn’t like that anymore. So they want you to post every day, which has been very tough for sure. I’ve definitely struggled. I’m struggling sometimes, it is what it is. They like you to post seven days a week, but I am at three to four.
Megan Porta: Okay, and you’ve still made it work, so that’s encouraging, I think. Okay, cool. So videography is a must these days. I know that’s becoming more and more prominent.
Carmen Spillette: If you’re new, but if you can get traffic elsewhere 100%. With a domain authority like mine, it is really tough, especially in the first year. SEO is a marathon. So I had to get traffic elsewhere. So that’s what I did.
Megan Porta: Do you post videos on YouTube?
Carmen Spillette: Oh my gosh, yes I do. But not as consistent as I like. There’s just way too many platforms, Megan, and I need to be very disciplined in that sense. So yes and no.
Megan Porta: I hear you. You have to draw the line somewhere. You could do everything and it would just burn you out, I feel like.
Carmen Spillette: Yes, I did reach burnout a couple of times already. So you have to be very careful with your mental health. You have to draw the line somewhere. But if you’re organized, you can definitely do it. Oh, 100%. I just have to be extra organized.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Do you use Facebook? Do you post videos on Facebook as well?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. I try to repurpose everything I try to repurpose, but yes, I do. But Facebook, I don’t get a lot of traction from. Just Instagram. Instagram has been my driver for traffic. I think it’s because it’s the platform I used in the past. So I just really knew the platform really well. So get to know your platform and do really well at that. So my suggestion for that, my next strategy for that is I really want to focus on YouTube. I’m gonna do Instagram and stuff. However, I’m really gonna focus on YouTube shorts, and YouTube long forms. So that’s gonna be my goal for Q3 and Q4.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’ve never had that magic success with Instagram that you have. Granted I’ve put very little effort into it, but I don’t get it. I see it as a community piece, like a way to connect with people versus a way to get traffic. But amazing that you have actually found a way to get traffic through Instagram. I think that is so inspiring and awesome.
Carmen Spillette: Thank you so much. It just went viral. It took, it only took one video to go big and then once you’re there, you have that longevity with Instagram.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Create some magic flow. Awesome. Okay. What is next on your list? What’s your next lesson?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. Listen to podcasts like yours. Food blogging podcast. You guys know your stuff. I get amazing advice about RankIQ supplemental posts. So I’ve been including that in my strategy. Google web stories and Facebook groups. I learned that from your podcast, so that was very helpful.
Megan Porta: Yes. Free content right there. Podcasts are the best for that. You can listen for free. You can do it anytime. You don’t have to be sitting at your computer. I know. Podcasts are amazing.
Carmen Spillette: Yes. Also, because you don’t have any co-workers to talk to. You’re by yourself. So it’s like having a friend. You can talk to yourself about it too. It’s a very lonely, isolating job in the very beginning. So podcasts have really been really helpful for my growth as a food blogger.
Megan Porta: So have I been your friend, Carmen?
Carmen Spillette: Yes. Oh my gosh Megan. We’ve been BFFs since day one.
Megan Porta: You just told me before we recorded that we went on a walk together this morning. I’m so happy that I was there for you.
Carmen Spillette: I listen to your podcast every Tuesday, Thursday, I look forward to it.
Megan Porta: Oh yeah. I love that. I’m glad it’s helped you so much. I know there’ve been so many amazing guests sharing amazing stuff on here. So yay. That makes me feel so happy.
Carmen Spillette: Incredible information. You couldn’t Google the kind of information that you share. Like it’s awesome.
Megan Porta: You just made my day. You made my week.
Carmen Spillette: Thank you.
Megan Porta: All right. So go listen to podcasts, find some food blogging ones. Then also, don’t you think going out of the realm of food blogging is helpful too? I love entrepreneurial, just more generalized podcasts and mindset and money and business.
Carmen Spillette: You got to share some of your favorites. I’d love to listen more. I just love them. I go for walks. I take my kids to the park and I listen to a podcast. So share some. I’d love anything mindset and money and growth.
Megan Porta: Okay. I’ll tell you three amazing ones right now that come to the top of my head. So Chill and Prosper by Denise Duffield-Thomas. She is a money mindset coach and she shares really short, like 20, 25 minute episodes that are just so good. She’s a multi millionaire. She’s a published author multiple times. She runs a money boot camp, which is highly successful. She’s amazing.
Second, the Mind Your Business podcast by James Wedmore. He is also a very successful entrepreneur and focuses on the woo spiritual side of business and how you can get ahead by tapping into spirituality, which I love, love, love that. Highly recommend him as well. Then Cliff Ravenscraft, he is actually my business coach, but he has a Mindset podcast that digs into, again, all the stuff on the mindset side of running an entrepreneurial business. So it’s called the Cliff Ravenscraft Show. That one’s really good too.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. I got to listen to those. Now, would you recommend hiring a business coach? Like I said, it’s an isolating industry. Would you highly recommend hiring a business coach?
Megan Porta: 1 million percent. This is something that a lot of people hesitate to do because they’re a big investment. If you get a good coach, it’s a big investment. I sat on this for years. Once I decided to do it, it was a really hard decision, but it completely changed my business. I can look back and see almost to the day, how things were going, like in my bank account and just generally in my business, changed immediately once I hired him. I’ve had him for two years now and it has been a complete transformation. So that it is next level probably when you’re ready for it. Save up for it and do it.
Sponsor: Food bloggers, let’s chat about RankIQ for just a minute. There has been a lot of worry circulating around our food blogging niche around the topic of AI and how this might negatively impact organic traffic to our blogs. First and foremost, I highly recommend that you listen to the Blogging Millionaires recent episode addressing the impact of Google’s new search generative experience on organic traffic and ad income in 2023 and 24. One of the points Brandon himself mentions, he is also the founder of RankIQ. He mentions in the episode that grabbing those low competition keywords that have thin content in the top 10 results and that currently have low domain authority blog securing the keywords is going to provide a chance to duck under the radar of the new Google AI search feature that is starting to get rolled out. This provides the perfect reason for using RankIQ because it is already packed with those handpicked low competition keywords that are ready for you to use. Go pick some low competition keywords yourself by visiting RankIQ.com and get started today. Now back to the episode.
Carmen Spillette: I think it’s great for the very beginning just because you’re so overwhelmed with everything. I think having a business coach, I can see how that would help any business because when you’re by yourself working for yourself, it can get pretty scary. You don’t know which way to go, which path. So I think something like that could help anybody.
Megan Porta: 100%. Yep. There are just things that I get hung up on in my head, and if I didn’t have my brain thinking, I would be able to probably sort it out, but I do. So just running it by him every month okay, what do you think about this? He’ll be like, I’m not in your life, so I can give you clarity. Here’s the answer, or whatever. Nobody else would be that honest with me. My husband wouldn’t tell me these things. My best friends wouldn’t tell me these things.
Carmen Spillette: I know.
Megan Porta: It’s so helpful because he knows I’m paying him to deliver honesty, and he shows up, and I don’t know. It’s a game changer, for sure. So that can be like four A, for your lessons.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, exactly. Let’s be real. Our husband does not want to be our business coach.
Megan Porta: No. We don’t want him to be either.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. If you can recommend something for me later, I would love to dive into a business coach. Because I think that would really help me out a lot, right now, just because I’m so overwhelmed with all the tasks. It’d be great to have some kind of structure and a path. So that’s very cool.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Email me later. I can give you some thoughts. Then also when you’re looking for one, I always say to these people, make sure you hire somebody who is into their mindset. Because so much of what we do relates, the bare bones, you have to take care of your mindset first and foremost. You can do all the work in the world on your business, but if you don’t have your mindset in check, you’re never going to get anywhere. So that is super important to look for.
Carmen Spillette: That’s very helpful. Thank you. See, I learned something new.
Megan Porta: Oh, there you go. Yay. Okay. What is your next lesson? Number five.
Carmen Spillette: Okay. You need to post every day. You need to stand out. If you’re a new blogger, you can’t expect rank day one, regardless how low your competition is. You have to post every day and don’t just do any posts as well. Like you got to strategically post. What’s good for Google SEO is not necessarily good for Instagram. For example, whenever I do a recipe for Instagram, sometimes I do it just because I know it’s going to do well on Instagram and I don’t really think about the SEO. It’s really hard to think of a recipe that’s good for SEO, good for Instagram, good for TikTok, good for this. You just have to sometimes see what’s good for your growth. You have to be strategic. So that’s why it’s very exhausting to post every day, but you gotta do it, especially when you’re new. Because posting every day also helps you grow in a way that you become a better videographer, what your audience wants to see from you. So you can see what works and what doesn’t.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So when you say post every day, do you mean some platform?
Carmen Spillette: Yes. For example, my seven day work week looks like I’ll post two blog posts a week that’s SEO rich. That’s really optimized for SEO. Then I’ll do, and then I’ll post the exact same thing for Instagram, but then I’ll add a couple of things. Whenever something is trending on Instagram, I say, go do that. They don’t have to go straight to your website, but at least you have something that will boost up your algorithm on Instagram. Yeah. So you have to be strategic with what you post and how often you post so you don’t get burned out. Because like I said I’ve gotten burnt out a couple of times. So you have to be very smart. I like to do a weekly social calendar, not a monthly. Because I’m monthly, I will get very overwhelmed, whereas when I see it Monday to Sunday, it’s a little bit more doable. I’m like, okay, today I’m posting here. Okay, today I’m posting here, so I’m not posting on Facebook or Instagram every day, but I am posting, I have somewhere to post every day.
Megan Porta: That’s really smart. I love that. So somewhere. In our little internet and social media, they are seeing your content every single day.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. So you’re boosting everywhere. Essentially.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I like that. I like your weekly approach to it, too, so that you’re not seeing a whole month’s worth of content and going, no, thank you. I’m running to the hills.
Carmen Spillette: Yes, exactly. Because I did that. That was my goal in the very beginning and it almost made me vomit, so I like to avoid that. I was like, nope, this is not doable, so you gotta do what works for you. I like to be one week in advance. Sometimes trends, the trends on Instagram is you have to play with it. If you see something that’s trending, you have to be on it right away. So a week in advance is very sustainable. It’s a more sustainable way to be able to post frequently.
Megan Porta: I love that. That’s such great advice. This is the modernized version of lessons from a food blogger. If I would have had this conversation four years ago with somebody, these would be totally different. So I love this. This is so cool. So great. So what is next on your list?
Carmen Spillette: So don’t be scared of this one, but this one is especially when you’re trying to qualify for Mediavine or an ad network like AdThrive, which is called Raptive now, and so 15 hour days are super normal, just when you’re trying to qualify. Because once you get the juices going, once you get some gas in the fire, you want to play on it, especially during qualification times. So not going to lie. I had some crazy long days when I was trying to qualify. I was posting three web stories a day. I was posting on Instagram every day, just trying to boost my traffic. But I qualified. So that was good. So sometimes it’s important and the reward at the end, it’s really worth it. Once you are making money, passive income, I like to call it or ad network money, it’s really nice. So you just got to work a little bit hard in the very beginning and then hopefully you’ll pay off at the end.
Megan Porta: It is unfortunately a part of the game. If you want to find that quick success, it comes hand in hand. Once you got into an ad network, were you able to cut back a little bit?
Carmen Spillette: Yes and no. You have to optimize your site a little bit more. Because now you’re trying to get the RPM, you’re trying to build your RPM up. So you have to work on your website a little bit more. So I don’t work 15 hour days anymore. I have cut back, but now I have to really think about how to optimize my website and what the next goal is and what the next strategy is for Q3, Q4.
Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s smart. Very smart approach. Alright, what is your next lesson?
Carmen Spillette: Project management software and Calendly are my best friends. You gotta have some sort of structure, SOPs, and right in the very beginning. Because when you get busy and when you start to get overloaded with stuff, it’s nice to build something at the very beginning. I use Trello and it’s been amazing. It’s very affordable. I do not write a blog post without using my Trello just because it keeps me very organized, especially when you’re trying to qualify and you’re writing so many blog posts and you’re doing so much content work. It’s really nice to have the structure in place. So you have a system.
Megan Porta: I totally agree with this. Do it from the start because I know bloggers who have been blogging for a long time and don’t have. They have all of this content just floating around in their minds and they don’t have a place where they have it structured. I feel like that creates clutter that doesn’t need to be there. So from the beginning, start logging, start creating that structure within whatever software you decide. Using Calendly too for your appointments.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. So Calendly for appointments because you will start to get brand sponsorship deals and stuff. So you want to make sure you don’t overbook yourself. I have to juggle my kids. Both my son’s activities, my business, and my husband like it’s really nice to have everything set up in your calendar so you don’t overbook. Because there’s nothing worse than double booking yourself and you have a client meeting. It’s happened to me and that’s why I got it because I’m like, oh this can’t happen. So gotta put something there. Just avoid making those mistakes because you want us to seem like you’re professional. You have a lot of competition for brand sponsorships. You want to be very professional.
Megan Porta: There is nothing worse than double booking, and you just need to do that once before you learn, right? You’re like, oh crap. You’re at a soccer game or something trying to get on a call, on a Zoom call. Oh, I used to do that.
Carmen Spillette: You’ve done the same thing. Perfect.
Megan Porta: Yes, and it’s painful.
Carmen Spillette: Oh my gosh. You don’t like yourself after, you’re like why did I do that? So yeah. So avoid that mistake. So just be very organized because there’ll be a lot of moving parts. They say food blogging is a hobby. It’s so easy. No, definitely not.
Megan Porta: If you’re taking it seriously, no. Then you mentioned Trello. So I wanted to mention Airtable is also really good for managing your content. Then if you don’t like either one of those, that’s fine. You can just use a simple Google sheet in your Google Drive and go that route. But start with something, please. I beg you.
Carmen Spillette: Start with something. What’s awesome about Trello, so what I do, this is really cool for new bloggers, is I set goals. It could be like delusional goals, I call it. I’m going to qualify for Mediavine in Q1, Q2. Hey, but those delusional goals, I’ve made one or two of them happen.
Megan Porta: I love that. Tell me about them.
Carmen Spillette: Write your goals. It’s like manifesting. So it’s just that I write at the beginning of every quarter, I just sit down, no kids, no dogs, no nobody. Just write my goals for the quarter. How many blog posts and be very specific, how many blog posts do you want to post every month for the quarter. How many brand deals you want. What was your number one goal? Honestly. Mediavine was at the top of my goal and I got it. The Q two that I said I was gonna do it, I got it in Q two.
Megan Porta: Goosebumps, Carmen. That’s amazing.
Carmen Spillette: When you said mindset is everything, when you look at your project management and you just see that the first thing is like your goals, it sets you up in the right direction, right off the bat.
Megan Porta: That’s so powerful. It’s so true. Yeah. Then one thing I found with goals is if I do what you’re saying and have them somewhere where I can see them, but I’m not obsessing over them, they happen much more quickly. But if I obsess over them, they never happen. It’s holding on, like clinging to something really tight. It’s never going to work out, but if you can just hold it in your project management software and just put it there, you’re lightly touching it every time you go in there. I think that’s the exact balance you want.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. I think it’s so important to visualize the goals that you have. So anything, project management. Make yourself a vision board and see what you can achieve. It’s crazy how what you wish for actually happens. For example, on my vision board this year I said I want to live somewhere warm even for six months or a year. My family and I are moving to Mexico in August just to change the scene. I live in Canada so my content photography days revolve around the sun and It’s always raining here. So it’s just something, come on, we can both work remote. So why can’t we just do it? So I think I manifested that somehow. I can’t believe my family said yes. So just something like that, it’s very cool to do. Manifesting is very powerful. So be careful.
Megan Porta: So that’s 7a. Point 7a here.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, 7a.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I feel like you and I could have a separate discussion about this. I love talking about this, as you probably know since you listen to the podcast, but yeah, super awesome topic. Okay, what is number eight, lesson number eight?
Carmen Spillette: AI. Do not be scared to use AI. The world, especially the online world, changes every day and you have to adapt and you have to learn when something new and amazing comes in. Because, instead of being scared, instead of being mad about it, you just learn and see what, how it can help you with your business. AI has definitely been very helpful. It’s given me ideas when I’m so tired. Oh, when your brain is just to the point of you can’t even think of a single idea for a recipe. It’s very helpful. So just use that and lean into it instead of being scared and mad about how the world changes so quickly. Unfortunately, it’s going to happen.
Megan Porta: Can’t stop the flood, right? The floodgates are open. So you might as well pull out your raft and get on the water and embrace it because nothing else is. It is scary, but you gotta do it. I’m with you, Carmen. I feel like, yes, scary for sure. Weird. It’s uncomfortable. But resisting it is not going to get you anywhere.
Carmen Spillette: The amount of time that I’ve been food blogging, which is just a little bit over a year, the game has changed probably 10 times. So I don’t know. I’m just so used to it. Something new will happen every month. So I’m just okay, what’s this month, so you just have to like, learn.
Megan Porta: I love it. What a great mindset. Maybe you should be a mindset coach.
Carmen Spillette: No, I need one. I need one.
Megan Porta: You could do both.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. So number nine is my favorite. I’ve actually learned this from you. It’s time blocking, batch work. It is the thing that changed my life. That’s what I do in my project management. So I just have certain days that this is what I do on certain days. And that’s all I do. I batch work. I do as many of those as I can in the three, four hour block that I have it for. It’s been very helpful and it’s changed my life, really.
Megan Porta: There’s so much power there. And I know that people who don’t do this doubt the power because they haven’t experienced it, but holy crap. If you can experience the power of batching and time blocking, you will never go back and it does change your life because it helps you to streamline and prioritize to the point where you can add more things to make money and then you keep doing it. You keep building on it. It’s amazing.
Carmen Spillette: It’s amazing. So what I do on a Sunday, I look at my calendar because as I go on a weekly, like what I do. What am I gonna do that week? So I time block and see first, I have to check the weather as I live in Canada. So I got a check when it’s sunny. Those are my work days. Those are my content filming days and then I go from there. So I have a day, I have a four hour slot for editing photos. I have a four hour slot for video editing. I have a four hour slot for just writing blog posts. That’s all I do. I write blog posts. I have a four hour slot just creating recipes. So I spend four hours and I just create recipes for that four hours. That’s how I batch my content. So every task is four hour or two to four hours, essentially.
Megan Porta: Sometimes it’s painful. I sometimes time block and batch and it’s not fun. It gets to the point where I’m so over this, but if you just keep going, push through a little bit, it’s so worth it.
Carmen Spillette: Yeah. I say four hours, it’s because my kids, that’s the time that they’re at school. So that’s the only time I only have, four and a half hours until I have to pick up and drop off again. So do what you can, obviously, if you have more time. That’s amazing. Good for you.
Megan Porta: You got this. Alright, what’s your last lesson? Last but not least.
Carmen Spillette: My last is to be hungry and be ambitious and be delusional. If you want something, you have to go get it. No one’s going to do it for you. You can only make as many excuses until you’re sick of it and you just gotta go. Go, jump, because it’s been awesome. It’s been such a cool journey to learn and just do it and follow your dreams, because that’s what life is all about.
Megan Porta: If you could look back and pinpoint the scariest thing that you did in the past year since starting, what would it be?
Carmen Spillette: Telling people that I was going to do it.
Megan Porta: Oh. Oh, before you did it or after you did it?
Carmen Spillette: After I did it. There’s something to be said when I’m just telling my husband and a couple of my friends And I think I’m gonna start this. I think this is a good idea. To actually tell the world hey, this is what I’ve been doing because I started my instagram from zero. I wanted to be fearless and so I didn’t tell a soul I was doing this. I didn’t tell a soul, but the moment I told everybody, that was the scariest part. That’s where imposter syndrome started happening. So don’t tell a soul, just do it and just see what happens.
Megan Porta: Do you feel like telling people gave it power in a good way?
Carmen Spillette: Yeah, definitely. It made me more confident after but in the very beginning, I just didn’t want to tell anyone. I just wanted to see if I could do it on my own. So that was the scariest part was just starting to tell people and it’s hey guys I’m doing this. You’re vulnerable, it’s a very vulnerable thing to do to put yourself out there. So kudos to everyone who has the courage to do it because it is scary.
Megan Porta: It is. If you think about it, if the scariest part is talking about it, then you don’t have anything to worry about. Because that’s easy. It’s easy to talk, you know what I mean? If you can do that, you can do anything.
Carmen Spillette: I think so. Being on this podcast too, it’s really, for me, that’s scary. This is the first podcast I’ve ever been on. So it’s very cool. Thank you.
Megan Porta: Being here isn’t actually scary, right?
Carmen Spillette: No.
Megan Porta: Having a conversation is super easy.
Carmen Spillette: Easy. Especially with you. I feel like we’ve been best friends since I started, so really you’ve made it easy. You’ve made it so comfortable. Thank you.
Megan Porta: I’m glad you’ve been comfortable. It’s been awesome. To wrap up, do you have anything else, any other lessons or points or anything you want to expand on before we start saying goodbye?
Carmen Spillette: No. If you’re thinking about it, just start because there’s nothing greater than just doing something you really want to do. There’s nothing a greater reward, other than our kids, obviously, but for yourself. It’s just really cool to build something that you did all on your own and to see it flourish. There’s nothing cooler.
Megan Porta: Honestly, let’s be honest. Our blogs are our kids. They are a part of our souls.
Carmen Spillette: They are. It is the most vulnerable thing I’ve ever done.
Megan Porta: All the pieces, the video, the social media, the writing, the photography. Yeah, it’s very vulnerable. So kudos to everyone for tackling this job. Isn’t it amazing to think that thousands and thousands of people do this consistently and show up all the time?
Carmen Spillette: It’s honestly such an incredible thing. When I look at other bloggers doing their thing, look at all the content creators, I never get jealous. I’m just in awe of them. It is so hard. To show up like that is awesome. So kudos to everyone.
Megan Porta: Oh, love it. Thank you so much for being here, Carmen. This was seriously so fun. It made my day. I loved our chat, so it’s been a pleasure to talk to you.
Carmen Spillette: Thank you so much for having me.
Megan Porta: Yes, do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?
Carmen Spillette: Yes. So the theme of this is from this quote actually. It’s by Benjamin Franklin. It’s a classic. But it’s on my vision board and I look at it every day. It’s called by, failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. So just be very prepared.
Megan Porta: Oh, I love that. It speaks to our entire conversation today. So the perfect way to end this. We will put together a show notes page for you, Carmen. If anyone wants to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/eatwithcarmen. Tell everyone where they can find you, Carmen.
Carmen Spillette: You can find me on my website eatwithcarmen.com or on Instagram, eatwithcarmen, everywhere, on all the platforms. Just put eatwithcarmen and you’ll find me.
Megan Porta: That’s amazing that eatwithcarmen was available everywhere. That seems like someone would have taken that.
Carmen Spillette: I can’t believe it either. I know. It’s awesome.
Megan Porta: It was meant to be.
Carmen Spillette: Thank you so much. Thanks, Megan.
Megan Porta: Thanks for being here. And thank you so much for listening, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like minded peers. I will see you next time.
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