In episode 404, Megan chats to Clara Cheng about achieving fitness goals and how applying a fitness mentality to your blogging business can help you grow.
We cover information on the similarities that fitness and blogging goals share when working to reach goals, why investing in your goals is valuable, how to line up expectations to reality, and understand what to prioritize and deprioritize.
Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.
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Bio Clara is a content creator for the last 2 years at Fitsian Food Life, which shares macro-friendly healthy recipes that are still delicious. Fitness is a very integral part of her life and is also the key reason why she started the blog. Clara likes to stay active by training in Muay Thai and powerlifting. In order to make sure she has enough energy to train well, it’s essential for her to replenish her body with adequate nutrition. At the same time, Clara loves good food and really doesn’t want to resort to eating the typical plain chicken, broccoli, and rice diet that a lot of athletes resort to, which is why she started creating recipes of her favorite dishes, tweaked to be healthy and nutritious. Throughout the past year, Clara has invested in the right tooling and education to see meaningful traction in traffic growth for her blog.
- Learn what to prioritize in blogging.
- Blogging is a lot of moving parts, not just sharing your digital cookbook.
- Be willing to invest in tools, and education to get to the next level.
- Get your mindset into running a business, not just sharing your recipes.
- Consistency is important.
- Find that outlet that you enjoy to give yourself a mental break when you need it from blogging burnout.
- Prioritize blogging duties with a higher ROI and remove things from your focus that you aren’t going to really dig into.
- Connect with successful bloggers to see what they have success with it.
- You can spend money or spend time. Protect your time when it makes sense.
- Achievable bite-size goals are very important.
Focus on what you can control because some pieces are outside of your control. But many things you can control so set your mind to that.
- Free Customizable Recipes Customized To Your Nutrition Needs (Sign up for my newsletter to get this freebie)
- Pretty Focused Course – There are multiple tiers for this food photography course, but I chose to do tier 3 because it was the only course that I’ve encountered that offered feedback on actual photoshoots, which I found to be invaluable. The course helps you put together a portfolio and helps you work with clients after you graduate. Note that I am an affiliate, but I truly stand by this course as it really advanced my food photography at an accelerated pace.
- Rank IQ – Great for helping you find keywords and what to write about for each
- Keysearch – Affordable and essential keyword research tool. Use KSDISC for a discount. Not an affiliate but this tool has been invaluable for my growth.
- Feast Plugin – A fast theme is invaluable and the plugin helps you keep up with updates. I was on a free theme for so long and literally saw my traffic jump the day after I implemented this theme.
- Blogging Millionaire Podcast
- Joanie Simon Youtube Channel
- Chris Pieta Youtube Channel
- Feast Blog
- Top Hat Rank Seminars
Click for full script
EBT404 – Clara Cheng
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 their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve their freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
Megan Porta: 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.
I love a good analogy and Clara Cheng from Fitsian Food Life brought the best analogy to this conversation. I think you guys are gonna love it too. She talks about how adopting a fitness mentality will help to build your blogging business. There are so many parallels and I love the way she has used a fitness mentality to help grow her business. It’s so awesome. This is episode number 404, and it is sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Eat Blog Talk is here to support you at every stage of your food blogging journey to help you accelerate your blog’s growth so you can achieve your freedom. We offer many services that will help get you on the right path no matter where you’re at in your journey. Don’t forget to check out our free discussion forum at forum.eatblogtalk.com. Go there to connect with like-minded peers, learn and grow, and share any wins that you have.
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This is a great way to get to know your fellow food bloggers really well in an intimate setting learn a ton about food blogging in a short timeframe, and to eat some delicious food that you will never forget. Go to eatblogtalk.com/services to get all the information about all of our services.
Megan Porta: Clara is a content creator for the last two years at Fitsian Food Life, which shares macro-friendly, healthy recipes that are still delicious. Fitness is a very integral part of her life, and it is also the key reason why she started the blog. Clara likes to stay active by training in Mui Thai and powerlifting. In order to make sure she has enough energy to train well, it is essential for her to replenish her body with adequate nutrition. At the same time, Clara loves good food and really doesn’t want to resort to eating the typical plain chicken, broccoli, and rice diet that a lot of athletes resort to, which is why she started creating recipes of her favorite dishes tweaked to be healthy and nutritious.
Throughout the past year, Clara has invested in the right tools and education to see meaningful traffic growth for her blog. Hello, Clara, thank you so much for joining me on the podcast today. How are you?
Clara Cheng: Hi, Megan.
Megan Porta: I’m so excited to have you here.
Clara Cheng: Me too. I’ve been listening to your podcast for a long time, so it’s pretty cool to be able to finally come on as a guest.
Megan Porta: Ah, I’m so happy to have you here and can’t wait for our chat today. Before we get into this awesome topic, though, we want to know if you have a fun fact to share with us.
Clara Cheng: Yeah. So every time I travel, I bring my boxing gloves with me. Which raises some eyebrows at airport security. Yeah, the reason for that is, another fun fact about me is that I’ve been training Muay Thai for a few years, and that’s one of my biggest passions in life. So when I travel, I like to go visit other gyms and just meet people from the Muay Thai community in that city.
Megan Porta: That’s so cool. How long have you been training for that?
Clara Cheng: Around three to four years.
Megan Porta: Oh, so cool. It is such awesome, I almost see it as like an art form. It’s so fun to watch. So I love that you do that. Not many people that I know get into that. So cool. Yeah, I love the security comment. I’m sure the airport security’s like, why are you using these? What do you need these for? Oh, I love it. We are going to talk today about this fitness mentality and how we can apply that to building your blogging business, which I really love. I love that analogy. Clara, would you mind just starting with the journey of your blog? Why did you start your blog and where are you at today with it?
Clara Cheng: Yeah, sure. So I started my blog two years ago, Fitsian Food Life, and it shares macro-friendly recipes that are still healthy and still delicious. I started it about two years ago because it was around a month before Covid, I actually got into a bike accident and broke my arm. Because of that, I couldn’t really work out or do Mui Thai or any of that. I really had to double down my nutrition. Nutrition in the fitness world is known as 70% of reaching our fitness goals. Because of Covid, I was working from home too, so I just really got into cooking. Before that, I actually was pretty useless in the kitchen. Literally never used my kitchen except to melt my mouth guard for Muay Thai. But yeah, COVID really spurred cooking for me, it was just that one thing I was like looking forward to doing every day. Trying a new recipe, tried a new technique, and just would take recipes that I had from restaurants eating out or like stuff I saw on YouTube that I really liked and I’d tweak it to be healthy. By healthy my, I know there are a lot of different definitions of healthy, but my definition is macro-friendly, which means there’s enough protein that will feel my workouts and a good balance of the other macronutrients, like carbs and fats. So it does involve a little bit of weighing how much rice I’m using or how much chicken I’m using. But once you get into the groove of it, you know how much you need to use for a meal. So I started just doing all these recipes for myself and eventually thought it’d be cool to like share that because I had friends who would ask me for some nutrition advice. I thought it’d just be cool to share somewhere that’s more centralized and basically have almost a recipe book in a way, but like digital. So yeah, that’s how I started my blog.
Megan Porta: Awesome. I love your story. I love that you started with Covid and that kind of spurred your love for cooking. I’ve heard that story over and over again, and I think that one of the good things that have come from it is that people found joy in being in the kitchen. So not only did you find kitchen joy, but you started a blog That’s so cool. Is it your full-time business or are you doing it part-time?
Clara Cheng: Part-time for now.
Megan Porta: Awesome. So you clearly have a background in fitness and now you have a love for food. So how have those two kinds of married together? Also talk about like the amount of work that you’ve had to put into your blog, because I know that one of your points is you didn’t know it would be as much work.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, so I’ve thought about starting the blog for a really long time. I just never really had the time and space to do it until Covid. But I never thought in a million years it would take hard work, grit, and consistency to build it. I think when you read about the stories or hear about the stories online, You don’t really see the amount of work that goes into it, you just see the success.
So I think on my end I was just caught off guard and I often would just feel really frustrated and the lack of results right out of the gate. Part of it was also because I didn’t really know what to prioritize. I just felt like I was trying to do everything from Instagram, creating the blog, photography, et cetera. I should have known better, but I think it’s really hard, at least for me personally, to try to do all these things and do them well. Usually, it’s a matter of prioritization, focusing on one or two top-priority things. For the other things, just keep the lights on. I’ve been blogging for about two years I just got into Mediavine.
Megan Porta: Ooh, congratulations.
Clara Cheng: Thank you. A lot of people will ask me like, Oh, how long did it take to get there? What do you do? Then I’ll tell them, yeah, it took me two years, but the first year I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. It was just a lot of looking through the Facebook group. Also, I would say another thing that held me back is not really being willing to invest in the plugins and tools, and education that I needed to get me to the next level. I think changing that mindset in the second year really helped advance me.
Megan Porta: Love your story and love the evolution in hearing you talk through all of that. I think that it is so common for people to get into blogging and just assume that success is easy because we do hear all of the success stories, right? There’s no handbook. You don’t get in and get handed this book like, okay, here’s where you start. Here’s what you prioritize. We get in and we have to figure it out for ourselves, which nobody tells us that it’s as hard as it is.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, for sure. Even a year in, I even almost wanted to give up because I was just doing it for a year, putting a pretty decent amount of time into it, but not really seeing any substantial results. But yeah, around that same time I was in between jobs, and the next job I had actually gave me two months off before I would even start, which never happens really in the corporate world. So I was like, I’m just gonna go to Thailand for a month.
Megan Porta: Oh, awesome.
Clara Cheng: I went to Thailand for a month and just trained Muay Thai and I think just being away, being somewhere where I was like really happy and doing what I loved really gave me the clarity and a refreshed mindset. I think the other thing about being in Thailand is that there are a lot of digital nomads and entrepreneurs who leave their country and go make it on their own in Thailand. It’s also really like inspiring. So after that, I was like, I’m not giving up. I just need to change my strategy. I don’t know what I was expecting going into this thinking it was an overnight thing. Because when you start Muay Thai, you don’t become a fighter overnight. I’m three years in and I’m still not a fighter. When you start power lifting, which is another thing I do you don’t walk into the gym and start lifting 200 pounds on your first attempt. It takes years to get to that point. It takes daily consistency to build to that. So that’s when I started to change my mindset. Just finding the right number one-like format obviously. Then once I found something that worked for me, then just did that consistently.
Megan Porta: I love this so much. Before we started recording, I told you that I’ve always been able to see those analogies between fitness and changing your body in good ways and blogging because it does take time. I love your analogy of you can’t be a good fighter or whatever you can’t build muscles or lose the weight or whatever in a day or a week or a month even. Or even a year, right? It takes so long. So you have to go in with that mindset. It’s the exact same thing with blogging. The people who go in thinking they can do it overnight are the ones who give up and get frustrated and can’t tackle it because their expectations don’t line up with what’s reality. I love this analogy so much. So what helped you reach the point where you had that different mindset? Was it just being in Thailand or were there other things that came together for you?
Clara Cheng: I think it was a combination of being in Thailand and also just taking a break. Because sometimes when you’re in that state of feeling really down and in the dumps, you just need to take a break. Just give yourself the time to go back with renewed energy. So it’s not to say that you have to take a long trip somewhere to get to that. Yeah. I think giving myself that mental break was really valuable.
Megan Porta: Really important. So would you say for others who can’t necessarily take a break away from, or go to another location in the world? How else would you recommend that people take breaks so that they can find the clarity? How long? How long of a break do you think is needed?
Clara Cheng: Yeah, I think in terms of taking a break, like for me, I love Muay Thai. So that’s what makes sense to me. But like for anyone else, it’s like, what else in your life sparks joy? Treat yourself and spend some time doing that thing, whatever that might be. I think you’ll just feel a lot more energized. Because for me, after I have a really long, bad day, I go train in Muay Thai and I’m great. I feel great. So I’m sure everyone has that thing for them. So just treat yourself and spend some time doing that. In terms of how long? It really depends on the person, right? It could be like a week, it could be a month. I’ve taken a break of a week two. So it just really depends on what works for them.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Just experimenting a little bit.
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Megan Porta: There’s this constant pull I feel, and this is even after many years of being a blogger, to keep working. So it’s sometimes even still, I have to pull myself away from my computer. As a less mature blogger, I remember I couldn’t do that. It felt so impossible to do that. So do you have any tips for that? Because we feel like we need to be in our business and doing and accomplishing all the things and being in all the platforms and everything. So how do you pull yourself away to go do Muay Thai? You know that’s good for you, but you also have maybe this pull to be working.
Clara Cheng: I think it’s just prioritization. I also struggle with this. Especially in the age of laptops. It’s hard, it’s definitely hard to pull it away because I definitely took my laptop to Thailand. But I think when you’re in Muay Thai, because it’s such an immersive experience, you just don’t really think about it. Because it’s a lot of strategy in terms of trying not to get hit and how to counter back. So I think I’m lucky in that regard that it’s such a mentally engaging experience.
But in terms of how I try to keep a work-life balance, I definitely find myself all the time thinking, oh, I also need to do this thing and this thing. Then my to-do list ends up being like literally a mile long. So I started doing this thing where I have a calendar of each day of the week and the to-dos for those days. Then I have a backlog. So what I end up doing is like at the beginning of the day or whenever I feel like really overwhelmed by the number of tasks I have, I literally look at that calendar and think okay, what are the one or two things that I should focus on for today? Then everything else, I’m just gonna put in the backlog. Then we will revisit it when I’m done with those one or two things. Usually, one or two things will end up taking the whole day anyway. So I just go back and look at the backlog, maybe the next day and see if it’s still It’s the most high-priority thing I need to do.
Megan Porta: So you do that by the day. Do you do it by the week? Do you have monthly themes? How often do you prioritize?
Clara Cheng: I have monthly themes, but I think the very tactical, concrete tasks, they’re due on a weekly basis. This month for me, I just had an audit with Casey Markee last month. So this month for me is literally just focusing on getting all the things on the list done to the extent that I can. I definitely have gotten distracted by other shiny objects here and there, but I’m like, no, just focus on this for now.
Megan Porta: It’s hard to do that. It is so hard. I find difficulty in that all the time. So for anyone listening this seems impossible, I get it. Clara gets it. It is not easy because we do get pulled in so many directions. But yeah, I think that just having that laser focus on a handful of things is key to just prioritizing those things that really matter that week or that month, or whatever.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, I would even say I did it on an annual level last year. Because last year after I came back from my trip, I was like, okay, I just need to really prioritize and grow my blog. Before I did Instagram as well as my blog and I just didn’t see high ROI on it for myself personally. I actually work for Instagram too, but
Megan Porta: Oh!
Clara Cheng: This is really ironic, but I don’t think as a secret thought to grow on Instagram, you have to be really consistent with content production. Specifically for video. That was just not something I wanted to invest my time in. So I just intentionally shifted away from that and I focused specifically on SEO and photography. Once I got the right format down for that, having the right photography, writing the articles in a way that was SEO optimized and I was just like repeating that many times consistently. Because I also looked at all the bloggers when you like got into Mediavine relatively recently. I asked them how many posts they had. It was always a hundred plus something like 150 on average, I’d say. So I was I did the math. Okay, that’s about two to three posts a week. So I just tried to aim for that every week.
Megan Porta: I like your approach, how you’re oh, how many? What’s the number that’s average it takes to get here, and then you go for that? So I love that. Then you’ve mentioned this a few times too. You have just looked into what is working and then you prioritize that. Which I think is so important because a lot of us, I included, raising my hand here, do things over and over that don’t work, and then we realize, oh my gosh, what have I been doing? That is super frustrating. So step one, find the things that are working and then prioritize from there. Then deprioritizing, as you mentioned. There are things that you are going to have to say no to if you want to succeed because you cannot do it all. Then social media was that thing for you.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, for sure. There are people who are very successful on social media. They get a lot of traffic from there. They get a lot of brand deals or a really loyal audience, and that’s definitely something I would be interested in pursuing in the future. But I think for me, step one, I really wanted to get into Mediavine. So I really just focused on SEO.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I think that’s super smart. You’ve mentioned this a couple of times, so investing. You said at first you were resistant to investing and the plugins and the things that would make your business move forward. Then you got to a point where you were like, okay, I need to start investing. So what made you get to that point? Was there one thing that you’re like, oh, I need to do this? Then you just dug into making investments?
Clara Cheng: Yeah. It’s similar to how I thought about what I need to do to grow my blog. I also just looked at mine and a lot of them said the same things. A lot of them took the Cooking with Keywords course. They used Keysearch. They focused on SEO. A lot of them had the audit with Casey. A lot of them took a photography class. So they all had to plug in WP Rocket. A good theme. I was on a free theme for so long, it’s actually a little embarrassing. It was until August maybe, I switched over to Feast. Literally overnight, like without having produced any new content or whatever, my traffic literally just went up. I was just on a free theme. I think it was maybe Kale. Yeah, you have to be willing to invest in this as you would in any business. I think blogging compared to a lot of other businesses is actually not as high of a barrier to entry to invest in as in something like a restaurant or whatever. I think it’s like everyone else is doing it. If you’re not doing it, you’re just not setting yourself up to be competitive.
Megan Porta: I know. This is so true, Clara. I see it all the time. People who are willing to invest and people who are not, and they’re doing outside of that, they’re doing the same things. Maybe they’re creating the same number of posts and doing high-quality content they’re producing. The ones who do not invest, fall behind every single time. It’s not like you have to make huge money investments. The Feast theme that you mentioned is not a wildly expensive plugin, but it can take you so far. There are these little things that you can do that you should do if you want to get ahead.
Clara Cheng: Yeah. The way I think about it is that you can either spend your money or you can spend your time. After the first year especially, I think I’ve learned that I think I should rather spend my money.
Megan Porta: That’s so true. Time is so valuable that we need to protect our time, right?
Clara Cheng: Yeah, exactly.
Megan Porta: Okay. Anything else that you feel like food bloggers listening might be intrigued to know? Anything along the lines of just this mentality, the mindset of getting fitter and digging into your blog a little bit more?
Clara Cheng: Yeah. I think I mentioned this before, but I think similar to getting fitter, it’s good to have Concrete controllable goals that you can work towards. I think everyone has this huge goal if they’re not in Mediavine already. Hey, I wanna get into Mediavine. How can I get to that 50K? But really working backward and breaking that down into smaller goals. Because ultimately we can’t really control the sessions, right? That’s based on the algorithm that Google has. We can control is the quality of our posts. How often do we post? If we’re investing in taking the right photography. So that’s another mindset shift that I had to make for myself. Because in the beginning, I was like looking at Google Analytics every day and just getting frustrated. So I just try to shift my mindset into okay, this is obviously not something I have direct control over. What are the things I can control to move the needle on this? That’s where I went into having two to three posts a week. Really investing in my photography education.
Megan Porta: I love this so much because a lot of us fall into this trap where we try to control the things that are completely out of the realm of control for us. I’ve done that for years on end, where I would just open Google Analytics and obsessively look at it. Something in my eyes was going to change the number. Laser beams or something. But we can’t do that. Step away from the analytics and do those things that you know can move the needle forward, which is exactly what you did. I think it’s so smart. Yeah. This is such a great approach. So having your fitness mindset, Clara, as a backdrop for the way you approach our business, is super smart.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, I’m glad it all worked out and aligned. I definitely feel there’s definitely a lot more to do, but I think I’ve gotten to a point where my mindset is in a good place, so I’m very happy about that.
Megan Porta: As bloggers, we need our mindset to be in a good place. Otherwise, frustration sets in and we are prone to giving up.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, for sure.
Megan Porta: Awesome. I love this chat so much. Thank you so much for everything today, Clara, and for joining me and delivering so much value to food bloggers. We appreciate you.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, thank you for having me.
Megan Porta: This was so fun. Do you have a quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?
Clara Cheng: Yeah, so the quote I have is, success isn’t always about greatness. It’s about consistency. And consistent hard work leads to success and greatness will come after that.
Megan Porta: I am so aligned with that. It’s something I so strongly believe in. Love that you ended that way. We’ll put together show notes for you, Clara. If anyone wants to look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/fitsianFood Life and that is spelled F I T S I A N Food Life. Tell everyone where they can find you on your blog and on social media, et cetera, Clara.
Clara Cheng: Yeah, you can find me on fitsianfoodlife.com or on my Instagram which is also Fitsian Food Life. I just also released a new recipe template that will help you calculate your macros and will give you two recipes that you can customize to fit your macros. So hopefully that will help people with getting an idea of what it’s like to calculate their macros and create a recipe that fits their personal health.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Definitely go check that out and peek at Clara’s blog. It is beautiful and her social channels. So thank you again, Clara, for being here, and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.
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