In episode 233, we chat with Lynn & Matt, a husband and wife team who successfully run several businesses and have learned how to communicate effectively and share their tools for a work-life balance.
We cover information about how to use a yes, and… when speaking to a partner about a suggestion, why the right team members will help you succeed and how firm decisions about boundaries will protect your time.
Bio Lynn is a classically trained biologist who left the lab bench to turn her side job of food blogging into a full time career. Lynn’s husband is also a small business owner, owning a private gym from the same year she began her blog. Together, they now own and operate the gym together and her blog remains their personal #1 source of income.
- Start your entrepreneurial journey the moment you have an idea by listening to podcasts, reading books, networking and learning all you can.
- Entrepreneurs often have to sacrifice something to get their business going. Be realistic – is it sleep? family time? Think outside the box and determine where you can make adjustments and sacrifices to move your business forward.
- Let your partner be your biggest cheerleader no matter the size of their involvement in the business.
- Learn to offer suggestions as “have you thought about” vs “you should…”
- Learn to respond to suggestions with, “yes, and…” instead of no or I don’t want to.
- Some partners will be doer’s and others will be thinker’s – they will initiate ideas differently so its important to understand what you and a partner are in this relationship.
- Create a team to make you successful – everyone from an employee to a babysitter to an assistant/VA.
- Write out your non-negotiables so they are front and center and you don’t compromise.
- Be willing to adjust the plan – check it out quarterly to help you adjust as needed.
- Recognize an area that’s holding you back and find a solution. I.E. Natural light is making you crazy trying to get photography done in. Invest in an artificial lighting class and stop the crazy train.
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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. 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: Food bloggers. Hey, I want you to know that I myself am a food blogger. So I understand the need to find those connections and find the answers and create transformations in my business that are actually going to matter and help me grow and make more money and get more traffic and all of those good things.
If you’re interested in this too, the new Eat Blog Talk mastermind groups might be a great fit for you. Go to eatblo talk.com to find the application that you can fill out for consideration. As Napoleon Hill, the author of Think and Grow Rich says about the mastermind principle, two or more people actively engaged in the pursuit of a definite purpose with a positive mental attitude, constitute an unbeatable force.
Unbeatable force. I love that. You can’t argue with that. Inside the Eat Blog Talk mastermind groups’ weekly zoom calls, we’ll have the format of peer to peer learning with members taking turns being in the hot seat. Once a month, guest experts join us and they will unleash their knowledge about very specific topics relating to food blogging and being a small business owner and relating to ways that you can grow your business.
We convene every week, we share our struggles, our wins, and we can shine and lift each other up and provide resources and input that will help the other members in the group to grow their businesses and grow as individuals as well. Again, go to eatblogtalk.com to fill out an application for consideration.
What’s up, food bloggers. Welcome to another episode of Eat Blog talk. Thank you so much for being here today. I am so excited. I have Lynn and Matt April with me from freshaprilflowers.com. We’re going to talk about work-life balance when you own a business alongside your partner or spouse. Lynn is a classically trained biologist who left the lab bench to turn her side job of food blogging into a full-time career. Matt is also a business owner, a small business owner, owning a private gym from the same year Lynn began her blog. Together, they now own and operate the gym together and their blog remains their personal number one source of income.
Guys, thank you so much for being here with me today. I’m so excited to have this chat. But before we get started, do you guys have a fun fact to share?
Lynn: Fun fact, fun fact about Lynn. I am a personal trainer, which might surprise you because I’m also a dessert blogger. People always ask, which came first, the blogger or the trainer. Truthfully, I was a blogger first, a dessert blogger first. No, I did not become a personal trainer to help people with that. That’s a whole topic for another day. Balance is important and I totally am a personal trainer who thinks that treats are great. I’m a personal trainer and I work at our gym that I own with Matt.
Megan: So just proof that you, that you are all about balance, right. Because you couldn’t do that without balance.
Lynn: Yeah, exactly.
Megan: That’s awesome. Matt, do you have something to share?
Matt: Sure. So, on the other side of it is that people think of me as this ultra athletic person who doesn’t eat anything bad for him. That is by far the absolute opposite of me. I am someone who will tell you, and I’m honest about it, I will eat everything and anything that Lynn makes; some exceptions now with my own dietary restrictions, but everything from, I have the biggest sweet tooth in the world. So even though I’m always in fitness and always trying to make sure that I’m maintaining a lean body, it’s more just, I love sweets and I love treats and it happens to be that my wife is an amazing baker who also provides those. So for years I would be the one who would eat them and test them before anyone else could. Wow, how can you have that in your house? Yeah, I eat all of it, I know.
Megan: That’s great. So what’s your favorite thing that Lynn makes Matt?
Matt: Oh man, that’s tough. Well, I’m a huge sucker for banana bread and Lynn makes this bomb.com banana bread. It’s just so good. There’s a streusel that she put on top of that this one time. Oh my goodness. It was so good.
Lynn: The salted caramel banana bread. Is that the one you’re thinking?
Megan: Oh, that sounds amazing. Oh my goodness. You guys are making me hungry. I love the way you’re talking about it. You’re just very clearly in love with sweets. So I love that. Well, I know that you guys are working together, the story is going to just shed light on balance. I’m so grateful that you’re here today. I would love to hear your stories about how you guys got started. I know you have a handful of different businesses going on. Can you guys just share how you individually and then together, got started with your businesses?
Matt: Sure. So I think I’ll start off this. So I’m taking it all the way back to 2012, 13. I was going through this struggle of trying to find myself and I knew I wanted to start a business. So I started doing personal development, started working on reading blogs, and listening to podcasts.
I didn’t read too much, that is a lie. I was listening to a lot of books and podcasts, but at that time I was understanding business development and growth and just trying to suck in as much information as possible. At that time, Lynn was already a self-taught baker and I’ll let her go into her story about it.
But in those years of me trying to develop and understand and get a better idea of what a business could be for me before I even had a business, Lynn was already kind of doing her own business and it was really exciting for me, but also at the same time, I was envious because I wanted to be a part of that.
I wanted that and she had already done it so naturally. That’s just what kicked off the journey for our entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial journey and it started in that time and it grew. With Lynn’s support, I was able to take this little hobby of being a personal trainer. I was a nanny for a little while. So for four years of my life, I was a nanny or a manny. But at that time I would work all day and then I would work my part-time job as a trainer. Then I would come home and work on building my business. Then that just kind of compounded and over the years, I’d pick up more clients, more members it would develop into now what it is now with over a hundred adults training at our facility, working with us as well as athletes, anywhere from eight to 18 years old and a team of people who are amazing. We have four trainers who work for us. So it’s grown to an amazing, couldn’t have even imagined it, what it is now. But I’ll let Lynn hop in here and tie her story into what that was.
Lynn: So I think you mentioned it in my Biography. I graduated from college in 2008 with a biology degree. Got a job right out of college, working in an immunology lab. I loved it. I loved it. I will never say that I didn’t love it. It was wonderful. In late 2010, so probably like a year and a half to two years later, Matt was still in school.
I’m three years older than him. So I spent those three years waiting for him to graduate college. Being a loner a little bit and I needed a hobby. Matt’s got homework, he’s got tests. He also has his own friends. So I took a Wilton cake decorating class at my local, it was either AC Moore or Michaels, one of those craft stores. Just to find something to do. I fell in love with it. I actually took a box cake to that to that class. I think I made my frosting from scratch. But I didn’t know what to expect. I was just hoping I would find something fun to do.
It sort of went from there. I built this custom cake and cupcake decorating business, and people were asking me to make cakes for baby showers, parties, weddings, and all kinds of celebrations. I was also working this full-time job and coming home at night, not sitting down until like nine or 10 at night. Making people cakes for the weekends, for work, for weekdays, I got so busy.
Matt: I was so excited. I was like, oh my God, like people are paying you money to do this thing that you’re enjoying. That is so cool. Let’s start branding it. You came up with a name and we started a t-shirt line. We had friends and family make us crafts and things that we could sell and keep, and we still have some of those things.
Lynn: Yeah. It was getting to be too much to handle. I actually took a little bit of a break, it was a couple of months before our wedding. I took a little break because I can’t decorate cakes while planning this wedding. During that break, I realized that I didn’t really love making cakes for people anymore. It was really rewarding as it was happening, but I was kind of at this place where Matt was like, you can hire people. I don’t think I want to. I don’t know if that’s my dream. I love my job. I love being an employee. So I don’t know if that’s me. So we hemmed and hawed over it for a little while.
I thought, you know what? Maybe I’ll just start a blog because as soon as I told people I was going to stop making cakes,they were like, but we want your recipes. I was like, okay, okay, here, I can put them on the internet and you can find them here. The rest is history as they say.
So I started my blog in 2014, a couple of months after Matt started his little personal training journey. I worked on that on the side until October 2019, when I called it quits on my full-time job. That conversation sort of started in the summertime of 2019, where we have two kids at this point that were one and three at that time.
I was doing my blogging in the evenings, on the weekends. I was sacrificing time with my family to keep this blog going that I loved, but I also had this full-time job that gave us our benefits. It was a large chunk of our income and something needs to give and it can’t be the kids.
It can’t be our marriage. It can’t be my sleep. I still need to sleep to function. So it was like, what would life look like if I just quit my job. We put it down on paper. That’s kind of where you need to start and then you just need to make that jump. So I gave them seven weeks, seven or eight weeks of notice. Then in October 2019, I quit. It’s been a crazy journey since then, as you can imagine, going into the spring of 2020 was bananas. But that’s where we are now. That’s how we got started.
Megan: What a great story. So now your blog, Lynn, do you operate that by yourself or does Matt help at all?
Matt: It’s all her, it’s all her. I’m behind the scenes. I’m the one who will help wash dishes.
Lynn: Which is super helpful.
Megan: Hey, that is helpful. You’re contributing.
Matt: I’m with the kids and make sure we have the sitter on hand. Just help out with the little things behind the scenes that go into making what she does. I will not take any credit for that because all the credit that’s due to her. But the push to do the things that she’s been doing, I will take credit for that.
Lynn: Absolutely. I would have done probably none of these things if it wasn’t for Matt. He is definitely my biggest cheerleader and I think that’s really important to note that I won’t say we have a perfect marriage, but we work really hard to be a team. Even our kids say it all the time. Teamwork makes the dream work. It’s true. You have to have somebody who supports you and does the little things like, oh my gosh, I just finished this photo shoot. I do not want to make dinner, I did not want to do these dishes and Matt’s got his own stuff that he needs to do.
But if I look at these dishes more, I’m just going to hate them. So can you please do this? Just like he said, even just coordinating the kids if I need to concentrate, if I want it quiet while I’m doing my photo shoot. If I don’t want to take a video and our babysitter isn’t around, then Matt’s got to coordinate that. So the little things, the little things that make life easier for me to do what I need to do are huge, for sure.
Megan: So my husband is not in my business at all, he has a corporate job. But I always say that he is kind of in my business because he does those things. He’s an emotional support for me. He helps me to protect my time a lot. So our boys are older than your kids. They’re 11 and 14, but still, there are times when I just need that quiet time. I need the door shut. I need to know that somebody else is watching them. He protects that time for me when I need it. So he really is a part of my business and he would say, no, I’m not, kind of what Matt is saying, I don’t take any credit. But you guys are important. That whole background support is huge. So thank you, Matt.
Lynn: That’s great.
Megan: I love that you guys sound like such a great team. I love this. I love this chat. As you guys know, you can work non-stop having just one business that you do, like self-employed business, but having two, oh my gosh. How does that work? What kind of boundaries do you guys have to set? I would love to talk through just some ways that you personally balance your businesses and your lives so that you do have time for your kids and you have time to sleep and eat and spend time with each other. Do you guys just want to talk through some of that?
Lynn: Yeah. So I think that one of the most helpful things that I asked Matt to do, and he might not even remember this. When we sort of started working in the same space together, I was home a lot because you know, food blogging happens at home.
Matt is such an ideal person. He always has ideas. If you need an idea for something like Matt’s your dude. He’s great. He works in all different spaces. I’ve heard him come up with some really great ideas for people in very different businesses than us. Matt used to do a lot of you should do this.
You should do this. You should do that. I needed to communicate with him that I was going to respond much better if he said, have you thought about this? Have you thought about that? Because Matt is big on, he has an idea. He implements it, it gets done. I am a thinker. I need to say, well, what about this? What about this? We have this standing agreement that we do yes and have conversations. So someone presents an idea to you, whether it’s about the business or it’s about the kids, your response is yes, and. So when someone says you should do this, you should do this. You’re automatically on the defensive. You’re automatically, no, I don’t want to do that, or I’ve thought about that, but I don’t want to do it. So when Matt presents these ideas to me, have you thought about this? It’s much easier for me to say yes, and I decided that I don’t want to make a coconut cookie with blueberries in it. It’s a little less defensive and it really leads to some really good conversations.
That’s one thing that I think has really helped us. I don’t even know if you remember that, but that was huge. That was huge in leading our conversations discussing both businesses; with my blog and the gym. I do the same for him. Have you thought about this? Have you looked into this? It’s much better than a suggestion of you should. So that’s one. I think that that’s really helpful for us.
Megan: I just want to comment on that. I think that’s so brilliant. It’s such a little thing, right? It’s two words. Yes, and can replace no, but. Because especially when it’s our businesses, this is something that I started and it’s something that you started Lynn.
So to have another outside perspective come in and say, my husband does this all the time too. He’ll be like, why don’t you do this? I say, well, because, and I get super defensive. This is why. It automatically put your walls up. But to reframe it and just step back and be like, okay, wait, he’s trying to help. So just replacing those words, I’m going to start doing that. So thank you. Both of you.
Lynn: Actually, I think that’s how I wound up a personal trainer. It was never a pressure. You should come work with us like this. I want you to work with me. I don’t think he ever expected me to come on to the team as a trainer and not just a co-owner slash supportive wife. That was probably one of those conversations where he was like, have you ever thought about becoming a personal trainer or have you ever thought about starting a program. I did. Last summer during the height of COVID, he asked, have you thought about adding a program to our gym?
I’m coming up on almost a year of having our pre and postnatal program here at the gym, which is a certification that I got aside from my personal trainer certification. It did, it opened up a whole new facet of our gym. We serve a whole different population. It’s just really cool that if I hadn’t quit my job, if I hadn’t built the blog to a point where it would allow me to leave my job, I don’t know that the gym would be where it is. Not that my program is like this gigantic program, but it just has allowed us to open up lots of possibilities with our other businesses, because I was able to leave that job and be more accessible to Matt.
Megan: Because you made the space for it.
Lynn: Right. Exactly.
Megan: That’s so cool. What a great story. So what are some other ways that you guys have been able to balance? Maybe we could talk about family and kids. Are there any other things that come to mind?
Matt: Yeah, I’ll take this one. So I don’t think this was shared yet, but the journey of the gym and the blog happened to be that I chose to be a stay-at-home dad. The first couple of years of our kids’ lives. So our oldest, Joey, I was with him all the way past until our younger one, when Johnny was born. So more than two years, it was probably closer to three years. I was a full-time stay-at-home dad. A lot of people got that confused. I want to say this publicly. If you see a dad in public, don’t ask them where mom is. Don’t say, oh you’re on dad duty. You’re on babysitter duty today, whatever it is. That those comments like that just boiled my skin, just so much because I was the number one.
I was a stay-at-home parent. That was a full-time job in itself. Trying to have a growing business, the gym and having the growing business, the blog, and having a wife who’s fully supportive but not around because she was working eight hours, plus the commute, the one hour there and back, like that was 10 hours of the day that you were gone.
So I was that person. I was there all the time. But one of the big things for me is, I loved it. I say this to Lynn all the time. My dream is to be able to spend all my time with my family. Of course I love what I do. I love being a coach and being able to help people change their lives with fitness, but I love spending time with my kids. So one of the things that was big for us as we’ve continued to grow our businesses is that we have the right people in place as part of our team. So that I know that I can come home, like last night, real randomly. I finished all my consultations. I had recorded my own podcasts.
I took down everything I needed to get done for the day. Instead of staying and doing more work, I texted Lynn and said, Hey, want to have a dinner date tonight?
Lynn: I could not have said yes quick enough. It was so fast. So we ordered dinner from doordash, we had it delivered and I came home and I was able to help with all of the bath.
You were able to get your shower done. So you could take time then help with bedtime because that’s for any parent, you know that even with one kid, I’m sure with multiple kids bath time and bedtime are always quite the experience. Lynn does it all the time when I’m not able to be there. So the fact that I’ve been able to do that, I couldn’t do that without an amazing team. So part of how we work so well together is having a great team in place. So we have coaches here who are on staff. We have our nanny slash babysitter. We have our assistants and we even have staff members who help keep the gym in tiptop clean shape for everyone to be able to know not only is it clean to the eye, but it’s also clean for every other reason it needs to be clean. So we have all these wonderful, amazing people who are part of our team. We always say, teamwork makes the dream work. We couldn’t have done everything we’ve done without our team. We couldn’t have done and continue to do what we do without the right people around us and surrounding ourselves with those people and trusting those people.
But going back to your question about having time with family, that’s it. It was understanding that there has to be this non-negotiable. So it used to be that Sundays were my non-negotiable. That we tried, we tried, we tried to make it so I would only work Monday through Saturday and have Sunday, but it turns out that most people don’t realize that that would be the case. So most people are texting me and calling me and emailing me and reaching out on Sundays when they’re not at work. So we’re still trying to find that non-negotiable time for a day, but right now the non-negotiable time is 8:00 PM. From 8:00 PM to 8:00 AM.
I don’t take on work unless it’s something that’s absolutely urgent. We try to make it so that 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM is family time. It’s our time. It’s my time. So I get to spend time with Lynn watching our favorite shows or movies and spend time with me doing my daily stretches and whatever needs to be done.
But yeah, having that time, I think it’s important for anyone who’s listening if you have to find a non-negotiable time. You have to set up a non-negotiable and that just means that no matter what comes up, no matter what it is, It’s non-negotiable. You have to have that time for yourself. It doesn’t have to be seven days a week, but it needs to be consistent so that you can continue to move forward with whatever you’re doing; whether it’s work, whether it’s building your business, a side hustle, multiple businesses, whatever it is. You have to set aside that time for yourself to take care of yourself.
Megan: Boundaries. Just set those boundaries. I always say this to my husband. You have to decide. You can’t just set a boundary and be loosey-goosey and oh, maybe it’ll work Monday, Thursday, and Friday, but you have to, like you guys, it sounds like you’ve done this very thing. Eight to eight, that is your boundary.
You’ve made the decision. You stick to it no matter what and you cherish and prioritize that time and it’s time for you to reset and connect. Oh my gosh, I think, if everyone did this, everyone would live happier lives. Don’t you think? There are so many people who go through life not having those boundaries and maybe their kids go to bed at midnight and then they don’t have time for themselves and they don’t get up and have time to work out or whatever. That is key, especially if you are running two businesses, like you guys.
Matt: Also just a little note, a personal note. S o Lynn’s blogs. So we have Fresh April Flowers. Lynn has had for the past two years now the Fresh April Sprinkles line.
So she has a complete custom line of sprinkles, but we have the blog, we have the sprinkles, we have the gym and we just filed the paperwork to start our nonprofit. So we now also have a nonprofit in the mix; there are a lot of moving pieces. Again, it comes back to the non-negotiable time. It’s making this decision and sticking to it, having a team in place that you can trust and know that things are going to be able to continue to move forward, even if you’re not able to be in the day-to-day things and activities. Just make sure that you take it slowly and recognize and be in the moment.
Megan: I think that’s a big piece of it too, is just taking it slowly and having grace with yourself to move through the journey a little bit more slowly, if you need to. If you can’t do eight to eight, start 10 to eight and then move back, but allowing a little bit of wiggle room so that you can grow.
Lynn: I think it’s also important to mention that I have had an assistant for a long time. That was also a suggestion.
Matt: She was so hesitant. Hesitant is a very nice way of putting it, but this is back to the time where I would say things like you should, you should, you should. Then it was always just going on and going on. When I switched it to have you considered and then I would follow it up with a what if. So have you considered having a personal trainer? What if you could just hand off some of these activities that you’re doing right now?
Lynn: You said personal trainer, you meant personal assistant. How about that?
Matt: We’re in the gym right now, personal assistant. What, if you could hand off some of these activities, what are some of the things that you’re currently doing that you could teach someone else how to do and know that it could be done really well that doesn’t have to have your personal touch to it. That rippled out too.
The point I’m trying to make here is that don’t feel like you’re a side hustle blogger, because I know there are a lot of you out there, don’t feel like you have to be making the big bucks to outsource yourself.
I handed off to my assistant Lauren, if she’s listening, she probably will. She’s great. Lauren, we love you. I had been blogging for only three and a half years. Didn’t even have blogging as a full-time job on my radar. But she came on and I just outsourced my social media to her.
She just did my Instagram and Facebook posts and she still does it to this day. She also now has taken on a few other things, but just handing that off. Our first son was one when we hired Lauren. What took her maybe two hours to do a week would have taken me four or five, just because of all the things I had to do.
Lynn: Like taking care of our son and doing my full-time job and also working out because that’s also something that I do, that’s my personal time. So if there’s any space to have someone help you, take it absolutely. If you have the ability to do it.
Megan: So in addition to outsourcing, which I think is really solid advice for people listening, what other things have you been able to do within your business Lynn? Within food blogging to help you streamline and maybe balance a little bit more.
Lynn: Oh my gosh. Flash photography and artificial light changed my life. I mean that in a completely honest way changed my life 1000 percent.
Matt: Can I jump in? It would get to the point, Megan, where Lynn would get so, so mad if the sun came out when it’s supposed to be partly cloudy because apparently that was the best day, if it was like partly cloudy days. I remember there were times where we would be doing something and then the lighting would be so nice for the photography and Lynn would be like, okay, I need to take a picture right now. Lighting is perfect. She would set everything up and then the sun would come back out and she would be like, oh! Nope, can’t do it now. The sun’s blasting on my food and I just set all this up. So she would leave it out and wait for this specific little pocket of time. She would constantly say, I can only take it at this time of the day. You need to do all these different things so that I can do this, this specific thing in this timeframe.
Lynn: That was a problem that came up actually, when I quit my job, because I was home all day and I basically had free reign of whenever I could shoot, but I also was shooting in natural light. So I kind of had these two to three hour windows. So I would look at the weather for the week and say, okay, I’m going to bake on this day so I can shoot on this day. Then the weather changes and you’re like, well, crap. That just totally threw me off. So last summer I took an artificial light photography class. I will say that I don’t take pictures at midnight, but if I needed to, I could. It just really completely relaxed my schedule. I can plan my schedule out 100% on what works for me. It has absolutely nothing to do with what’s going on outside my window.
I can shoot anytime of the day and it will look exactly the same. I can shoot at two o’clock in the afternoon, or I can shoot at midnight if I really wanted to. It would look exactly the same. You just had Whitney on from Salt and Baker. She and I are in a group together. So I talked to her pretty often, but she said some of the same things as you. You can just streamline photography so much if you just take the time to learn artificial lighting. Not that everybody needs to do that. It’s definitely a time and financial investment. But that was just something that really streamlined my work and now has completely made my schedule so flexible that I can pretty much do whatever I want whenever I want to. I don’t have to rely on the sun.
Megan: Oh, I hear you. I do rely on the sun and it gets very frustrating. So the learning curve is definitely worth the investment in your opinion.
Lynn: I think so. And you know what? I knew a lot about photography and food photography before I started. I am self-taught on that. I had always shot in manual mode, but I think that the learning curve was not that steep. Especially if you’re starting from already knowing a little bit about photography. If you’re starting from scratch, I don’t know, maybe it would be even easier because then you would just know; that’s all you would know. It was fairly easy for as difficult as I thought it was going to be and how much I resisted it. I’ve been able to make my photos look In my opinion, top notch.
Matt: Your photos were already amazing.
Lynn: Well, thank you.
Megan: And consistent, right? It’s probably consistent across the board.
Lynn: Oh yes. Oh, that’s the best part. The consistency is amazing. Yeah.
Megan: I think that’s great for people to hear because we have enough going on and our businesses; there are so many moving parts that the thought of adding something else to learn is like, oh my gosh, really? The sun is right there. I can rely on the sun, but to hear someone like you say, okay, it’s definitely worth it. It’s freed up so much time and energy and worrying and hassle in my business. I think you’ve just given a lot of people permission to go learn that. Do you have any resources that you recommend for learning?
Matt: We’ll hook up that affiliate link.
Megan: Pull out your link.
Lynn: I do have an affiliate link for her course, but I also will plug her YouTube. Joanie Simon of The Bite Shot is amazing. She’s the course that I took. It was called Artificial Academy, but she also has a ton of videos on her YouTube that are about shooting in natural light, but she’s very focused on artificial light.
She’s great. She’s wonderful. She’s a wonderful teacher. She’s quirky. She’s funny. She has awesome hair and she’s just a really good resource, especially if you’re looking for something free. Joanie is your girl. She’s awesome.
Megan: I’ve heard so many bloggers rave about Joanie. So I love that you mentioned her and I’m looking at your Instagram feed right now, Lynn. It’s so beautiful. Your photos are stunning.
Lynn: Thank you.
Megan: Yes, I am entranced. I gotta put that down. Okay. Is there anything else that you do within your business, Lynn, that helps you streamline?
Lynn: Learning about SEO was also another huge thing. I feel like I was throwing spaghetti at the wall for a really long time, and I’m talking like the whole first five years of my business. When I really sat down and learned about SEO, I think a lot more people are learning about SEO and have a better idea of what exactly that is and how to work with it. That has helped me sort of guide my editorial calendar. I kind of pulled out of thin air before. It was really difficult. I’m a dessert blogger.
There are a bajillion desserts. I’m not in this hyper-focus niche. I don’t make paleo desserts or keto friendly meals. I literally have the entire desert world that I can choose from. Which sounds really cool until you have to sit down and choose all that stuff.
So learning about SEO really helped me hone in o n what I was actually looking for and what my people were looking for. So that’s been huge too. The artificial light plus SEO totally changed my business for sure.
Megan: SEO is another one of those overwhelming obstacles in our minds that we can kind of build up like, oh, it’s too much. It’s technical. I don’t want to learn about it and I don’t want to invest any energy in it. But once you do, it’s easy. It flows. You can learn pretty easily, I think. Most people can. You start seeing results very quickly. So it’s worth it to get rid of the sun as an obstacle and the lack of sun.
And also SEO, I totally agree. Is there anything else within your business that you feel like would help food bloggers to balance and streamline a little bit better?
Matt: Lynn lays everything out on her calendar; literally writes down every recipe she’s going to make. She plans it out six months in advance. She knows everything she’s going to make, what day she’s going to make it and just backtracks it. So she thinks, okay, I know I need to make these cookies that need to come out three weeks prior to Christmas time. So she’ll bake all those cookies in the summer. Take those pictures in the summer, have the blog post done in the fall.
That way they’re already scheduled and ready to go out in time for the people who are looking in that time, there’s three weeks prior to Christmas, for those cookie recipes. Lynn does that, she does it so well in that time. So she always has this paper calendar with all these little tiny, she just bought more actually, all these little colored pegs that go, flags I mean.
Lynn: I didn’t even think about that. That’s just normal to me.
Matt: That’s a huge resource. I think a lot of people overlook that. I’ll plan my months out, but I only plan it out two months in advance and then just kind of go by what is needed at that time. I know that I would be able to serve our audience and our, and our members so much better if I could think six months, 12 months out. That’s one of my weaknesses. I’m always thinking about right now and then the next month. That’s it. You’re thinking way past that. That’s where one of your strengths is, that you already had the plan. I think that you do that so well. Sometimes it’s also something that holds you back and that you have this plan set, and if something comes up, it throws off your plan, it kind of skews you. Then that’s where I come in as a team like, Hey, you’ve got this; you’re doing just fine. Just change this one to that one, move the date over here and you’re good. Then you say, yeah, you’re right. I should do that.
Megan: Oh. You guys are a well oiled machine. Look at you guys.
Lynn: But I think that is important. And you know what? I feel like that’s something that got easier, once I learned artificial light. Because I do, I work backwards. I have had 2021 planned out since February or March, like all of 2021. Right now I am already working on what I want to do in January, February, March of 2022. So I think that if you’re able to, I definitely could do this much better once I had more time to dedicate to it. Thinking ahead and especially as food bloggers, because you know, you want to do things seasonally and you want to put them out with enough time for Google to find them. Here’s a fun fact, and this is something that I learned while learning more about SEO. I already have some of my fall and Halloween content backdated and published on my blog. So Google is seeing it already. Google already knows that I am making some Halloween treats. My audience doesn’t even know that it’s there.
Maybe they’ll find it if they go digging. I know Lauren, my assistant has found things every once in a while and she’ll be like, wait a second. How did I never see this before? You know, it’s back dated a few months and I’m like, oh, don’t worry about that right now. I just published it so that Google can see it.
Then once it’s time, then I just bring that date forward and now it’s ready to go. Google has been seeing it for X number of weeks or months. It’s already got a little bit of street cred.
Megan: I love that. What a great little tip. Just a little extra tidbit there. Awesome. I would love to hear from each of you individually, what you think, what you would say maybe is your best piece of advice for food bloggers listening, who might be considering working with a partner, alongside a partner like you guys are, or even if they’re not like, even if they’re just looking for a little bit more support for their businesses and they have a partner like mine who does work outside of the business, but still provides support. So what would your best piece of advice be for any of that?
Matt: So it comes back to the team and operating as a team. So whether you’re a team of two, whether a team of 10, whether a team of 25 or 500 doesn’t matter. Knowing the roles and what you play for that organization or for that business, or for that side hustle, knowing your roles will dramatically improve your performance and allow you to grow. So as a food blogger, knowing that I know, as a team that the food blog is Lynn’s baby, that’s Lynn’s blog. That is her thing. I know that I won’t be able to step in to help with the photography. I know that I won’t be able to step in to help with the recipe development or the writing of the blog.
However, what I can help with is I know that I will be able to do the things like taking videos on her Instagram while she’s capturing those moments on her pictures. Those really raw moments where, they’re usually in our story that you’ll see that’s me. That’s typically me behind the scenes, just pulling out her phone.
Hey, where’s your phone? Let me see, let me get a picture of this or a video of this. She’s oh my gosh, I forgot. So I’ll do that. But my role is to support her so she can do what she needs to be doing. So my role is to help clean the dishes, help coordinate the kids, and help make sure the babysitters are on hand. Help make sure that the area’s cleaned off so that my work stuff isn’t in the way of her work stuff.
Just knowing the role of what you play in that company and that organization will help make sure that as a whole, we’re able to move forward and continue to grow, because why start a business? Just to say you did it? You want to start a business so you can succeed. So you can make money; so you can create generational wealth for the kids and create a legacy and do all these things that you want to do.
Everyone’s goals are different. No matter what it is, there’s a purpose behind it. It’s not just to say you did it. It’s to move beyond that. So having defined roles and knowing where your roles are and knowing what will make you part of that team and successful, is my number one piece of advice.
Megan: Great answer. Wow. That was amazing, Matt. Thank you. What about you, Lynn? What is your advice?
Lynn: I can’t follow that. Oh, that’s another thing we say; if you say you can’t or you can, you’re right.
Megan: Mm that’s so true.
Lynn: Okay. You know what? You’re right. I can add something. We have started implementing house meetings, between just the two of us. Whether it’s like 10 minutes or an hour, whatever we need to talk about; a team meeting as any team should have, even if it’s just the two of you. If it’s one person who works on the blog, you have your, your dishwasher video, behind the scenes video, kid corral or whatever you have, just kind of set up the expectation for the week or the workday or whatever it is. Especially if you’re a side hustle blogger. Communication is top-notch, key.
Sitting down and having a conversation is way better than trying to, and I say this from experience, trying to have conversations while you’re getting things ready for kids. Did you hear me? Did you check the calendar? Do you know what we’re doing today? That kind of thing. Even if it’s just five or 10 minutes at the beginning of the day before everyone’s busy and doing something. A communicative meeting with goals and just a discussion can go a really long way.
Matt: Oh, I have one last thing. One last thing that has worked. Megan, do we have time for this?
Megan: Absolutely go for it.
Matt: So the other really, I think big thing that we probably overlook. Really simple, that anyone can implement. So if you have a spouse or a partner, a significant other, or anyone else who can be part of something with what you’re doing, with your developing your food blog, where there’s a side hustle or a full-time thing.
Even if your spouse or other person is not involved directly, having them involved in this simple thing is going to be a game changer. Link your calendars. So Lynn and I both have our own, but we all have our own phones. You all have your own Google calendars and your own accounts.
You can get the Google calendar app. You can attach whatever emails you use on there, and then you can link your calendars so that I know when I have a dentist appointment at two o’clock, which I do, that Lynn is not going to plan on doing a photography shoot at that time, because I won’t be around to help.
So she’ll be able to see in my calendar that I have that set time block out. The flip side is, I know I’m not going to build consultations at 10:00 AM on a Tuesday because that’s when Lynn’s teaching her pre and postnatal class or I have to make sure I have a babysitter. So having our calendars linked has allowed for us to grow again in a different way that before it was always kind of like, Hey, what are you doing at this time on this day?
I need to make sure that I’m available at this time, this day. Then we have to stop what we’re doing, go in there and coordinate and figure out if we can make things work. We have it all there. It’s already there. The communication with Lynn, with what she just said was also important. We’ll see it in the calendar, but we’ll still communicate. Hey, I saw you have the dentist appointment at two o’clock. Is that still happening or what’s going on there? Yep. Still on. Cool. There we go. That’s it. Simple, easy peasy, done because it’s already there. It’s laid out and we communicated what was going on.
Megan: Oh, you guys, this is such great advice. Thank you so much. See Lynn, you did have amazing advice to contribute.
Lynn: Did you hear that though? Because Matt told me I did.
Megan: Yeah. You were like, wait, I can; I can do this.
Lynn: I know, he believes in me. I’m telling you, best cheerleader right here.
Matt: I believe in her more than I believe myself, sometimes. I say that to her all the time.? I think you have so much more potential than I even have in myself. I’m always, always trying to push, always trying to push in the sweetest humblest little way that I can.
Lynn: There you go. Get yourself a spouse or partner like that.
Megan: You guys are so adorable. I just love chatting with you. You guys are the best. Well, thank you. Is there anything you want to impart before we say goodbye, or do you think we’ve covered it all? We have covered so much. You’ve delivered so much value.
Lynn: You know, I do have one last little bit of my food blogger advice from a standpoint of if I could talk to myself back then, kind of thing. I think that there needs to be, we’ve talked about balance several times during this whole podcast. So I think that there needs to be a balance also in content. So I think we, as food blogger people, have really gotten focused on SEO and giving your readers what they want, producing content that people are looking for.
But I also think there needs to be a balance of also really not straying too far from what your specific audience wants. So yes, we do want to write for SEO. Yes, we want to make things that people are looking for. But we also sometimes want to have content on our websites that are just because we want to have them there.
So for example, one of my readers last year used my chocolate cake recipe to make cupcakes. They didn’t turn out great. She came to me and said, oh, I used this cake recipe for cupcakes. But you know, they didn’t turn out great. I said, you know what, that’s not my favorite recipe to use for chocolate cupcakes.
I should really give you my favorite chocolate cupcake recipe. But SEO is not telling me, my SEO research is not telling me that chocolate cupcakes are something that would work really well for me. But you know what? I figured it out. I made it work. I have a chocolate cupcake recipe on my blog now that is maybe a little bit non-traditional than what someone would type into Google – chocolate cupcake recipe. But it works for me organically and it also has served a particular person, a particular reader of mine. She’s not the only one, you know what I mean? So I think that what I’m trying to say is don’t overlook always trying to make Google happy and doing what we are quote unquote told to do, and what’s going to get our needle moving. Don’t be afraid to actually ask your audience questions. Because you know, people love to give their opinion. Even just one of those Instagram stories, that’s a this or that kind of thing. Do you want chocolate cupcakes or would you prefer vanilla cupcakes? That kind of thing. Let your readers guide your content because they’re the ones who are coming to your blog. You may not think that you have loyal readers, but they’re out there. They just don’t maybe make themselves as known as you know, other people might, but they’re out there. I’ve found mine.
I have readers who email me all the time, and that really only started when I started asking them to. I have a call to action in all of my emails at the bottom of my emails that is reach out to me any time or write a review on the blog because it helps other people. So really finding that balance between what Google wants and what the blogging world wants, and also not ignoring what your audience wants.
Megan: That is such an important message for food bloggers to hear, I feel like, because we so often get it ingrained in our heads that it’s one size fits all, that this is how it is for everyone. Really you need to do keyword research and that’s all that matters. I think that’s the wrong message because what our audience is wanting may be completely different than what is popping up for keyword research. So thank you so much for sharing that. I love your story about the chocolate cupcakes and how you just forged ahead and did it anyway.
Who cares if keyword research is telling you that that’s not your big thing that you should be focusing on? Oh, well! Your audience wants it and that’s what’s important.
Lynn: You need to remember that you might be the only blog that people visit. If you don’t have something that they’re looking for, they’ll go somewhere else and find it. So if you can just every once in a while, just throw something on your blog. The world doesn’t need another chocolate chip cookie recipe, but maybe you have readers that really only want yours. I have heard the line that it’s a privilege to be on your mailing list.
It’s a privilege to be one of your followers and treat it like that. You are awesome. Whoever’s listening to this. You are awesome. You have great content and your readers like you, so give them what they want.
Megan: I don’t know that there’s another episode packed with so much gold. You guys are the best. This has been so great. Well, thank you for joining me today. I know you guys are both really busy, so we appreciate your time and all of the value you’ve shared. So thank you. Thank you.
Lynn: Thanks for having us, Megan. This is awesome.
Megan: So before you go, I don’t know if that was your words of inspiration, Lynn, but I do like to ask my guests for words of inspiration or a favorite quote, before they say goodbye.Do you guys have anything additional or are you out, are you depleted?
Matt: I’ve got something. So in more of the inspirational side of things, less about the quote, but really, if I can impart anything to your listeners right now, and to anyone, I know there’s a lot of food bloggers listening, and I’m not a food blogger. But I am someone who takes pride in thinking outside of the box. Sometimes the easiest way to grow is to step outside of the box and climb up a ladder and look from a bird’s eye view of your current box and see what is currently happening in that box. How you can break down the walls and build it out stronger, maybe add another level or set a new foundation.
So a lot of what I do and how I’ve been able to be so successful in the gym and provide what we provide to our members and our clients is that I look outside of the box. I don’t just look at other gyms and say, oh, look, that’s what they’re doing. I look at other places, other spaces.
So I look at real estate agents. I look at food bloggers. I look at YouTubers. I look at so many other areas that are not gym or fitness related and see what’s working super well for them and then figure out a way to apply it to myself. I listened to podcasts and listened to audio books.
I consider myself a forever student because I’m always trying to grow, not just me personally, but grow so that I can continue to grow the people around me and take care of people around me in ways beyond fitness. So if there’s anything we can leave everyone with is you’ve heard the saying of staying in your lane, but the coolest part about taking a moment to go to the side of the road safely go to the side of the road, hop out on the shoulder and watch out for traffic, but look at the road, look at the destination. Look at the journey, look at your car. Look at what you’re driving in. Take a look and take account of what you’re currently doing and see if there’s a better way of doing things. See if there’s another way and consider all the cars driving past.
Maybe you’ll see that they’re driving in different ways, different lanes, whatever it might be. I’m not sure where I’m going with this analogy, but the point I want to make is just take a moment to step outside of your comfort zone. Take a moment to step outside of where your current focus is and learn from others in other things. So you can apply it to yours and then be that one who is doing something different. Which then can turn out to be something really special.
Megan: Wow. That was amazing as well. I feel like I need to know you guys in person. Someday, I will meet you. I’m across the country in Minneapolis, but maybe our paths will cross someday. Thank you guys so much. This has been super awesome. We will put together a show notes page for you guys. If anyone wants to go peek at those, you can find them at eatblogtalk.com/freshAprilflours and flours are spelled F L O U R S.
Why don’t you guys tell everyone where they can find you online? Instagram website, anywhere else?
Lynn: Yep. So my website is freshaprilflours.com. Thank you for spelling that Megan, I usually just say flour, like the ingredient and people go, oh, that’s cool. So yes, Fresh April flours. I’m also Fresh April Flours on Instagram and on Facebook. On Pinterest I’m at frshAprilflowers without the e the cause I couldn’t have that many characters. By the time this is probably out there, by the time this is published on your podcast, I will be on Skillshare actually. So we just finished recording two courses. One is on cupcake decorating, the basics of cupcake decorating.
Another one is just basic cake decorating; stacking two and three layer cakes. So those will be on Skillshare. You can find me if you’re there. If you’re not sure what Skillshare is, check it out because it’s awesome. So that’s where you can find me.
Megan: Awesome. Well, thanks again guys. Thank you for listening today, 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.
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