In episode 378, Megan chats to Zhen Zhou about how her experience in business school translated into her blogging career and how that has helped her succeed.

We cover information about the value of RPMs and keywords and when to use which, remember that you don’t pay for in money, you’ll pay for in time, know investing is important to grow, how to diversify your income and getting uncomfortable helps you stretch and grow.

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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Guest Details

Connect with Greedy Girl Gourmet
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio Zen blog about cooking up flavorful South East Asian recipes for her audience because she can’t stand bland food! She also occasionally shares about the life of a food blogger


  • What gets you here won’t get you there – be willing to dig into information to inform yourself on what to focus on.
  • Investing and treating blog like a business – what you don’t pay for in money, you probably will pay in time. Decide what’s valuable to learn and grow in.
  • Get comfortable learning a new skill
  • Processes are important even as an entrepreneur.
  • Diversification – it’s important to be involved in multiple revenue streams then if one revenue stream slows, another will keep you earning.
  • Putting yourself out there – there are benefits to help yourself even if you’re shy or uncomfortable. Practice makes it easier.
  • Going on podcasts and sharing on other platforms helps you earn backlinks.
  • Thinking about the consumer – put yourselves in their shoes and lean into ways that your consumer would want to receive the information from you.
  • Find your community to lift each other up and learn from one another in the blogging world.
  • Keep track of your milestones to see progress to encourage yourself to move forward.

Resources Mentioned

Cooking with Keywords


Top Hat Rank


Click for the full script.

EBT378 – Zhen Zhou

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. 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. 

It’s not always about how long you’ve been blogging. It’s sometimes about what you did before you started blogging that matters. This episode is proof of that. Zhen Zhou joins me on the episode. She is from Greedy Girl Gourmet, and she talks about how her experience in business school translated into the blogging world and how that has helped her to succeed. This is episode number 378, sponsored by RankIQ. You’re gonna love this one. Thanks for tuning in. Enjoy. 

Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review, this will only benefit this podcast. It adds value. I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode. 

Megan Porta: I have Zhen Zhou with me today. She is going to talk to us about translating what she learned at business school into the blogging world. Zhen blogs about cooking up flavorful Southeast Asian recipes for her audience because she can’t stand bland food. She also occasionally shares about the life of a food blogger. Zhen, how are you today? It’s so great to have you on the podcast.

Zhen Zhou: Hi. Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here. I’ve listened to so many of your podcasts. It feels like a milestone to be here. But I’m not a great public speaker, so you know, if I have a brain spasm and I don’t say anything, or I say something totally weird, forgive me and I will promise to say something useful after that. 

Megan Porta: You’re not the only one. I have those often. So we’re in the same boat and I’m sure everything will be great. So such a pleasure to have you here today. Before we get into this amazing topic, do you have a fun fact to share with us? 

Zhen Zhou: Yes, I do. Because my topic was about the MBA, I thought I should have a fun fact related to the MBA. So I did my MBA at London Business School, which is obviously in London. Then as part of. Took part in this entrepreneurship event called Pitch the Palace, and it was held in St. James Palace, which is one of the royal family’s properties in London. 

Megan Porta: Oh my. Oh, that’s so cool. Okay. Do you have any details about that experience that we could hear about, that we would love? 

Zhen Zhou: So I was there with a British friend and I think he must have thought, this is such a hillbilly, because I told him, this palace just looks like a really old house.

Megan Porta: Oh! 

Zhen Zhou: You’re expecting something super grand because it’s a palace, but really, it’s quite like a normal old house. 

Megan Porta: That’s funny, yeah. Not everything can be grand like we imagine in our minds, right? 

Zhen Zhou: Yep. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. Now we want to hear about business school and how you’ve translated what you’ve learned there into blogging, which I think is such a cool topic. Would you mind just starting by telling us what has been your journey with business school, and then also just touch on your blogging journey as well. 

Zhen Zhou: Okay. If I say too many extraneous things about MBA, which is not related to blogging, do feel free to redirect me. But I went to MBA basically because I was at this crossroads in my career and I just wanted to see what other options there were out there to explore and what the opportunities were. Then somehow when I was at business school, I can’t remember why, but I suddenly felt I really wanted to be a blogger. I think maybe that was about the time when blogging was starting to explode on the scene and I could see that it was a great fit for myself because I’ve always loved creative stuff. So I’ve been selling my own designs since I was really young. But I knew that wasn’t a viable career because it’s not scalable. If I sell, for example, my handmade jewelry, I can only sell the number of pieces I can produce in a month. Because I’m not superwoman there, there’s a limit to that number. So unless I want to outsource production to somewhere else, which I think then takes you away from the fact that I want to do something creative because then it just becomes out managing somebody else doing the work. Then with blogging, I thought it was amazing because you could do something creative, cooking or sharing a DIY tutorial. Then because there’s no limit to the number of people you can reach with the internet, you know your work is, there’s no limit to how much you can scale up that piece of work. 

Megan Porta: Okay, that’s cool. Yeah, that’s so true, right? Like you can only make so many pieces of jewelry before you’re dying and tired and not making much money in the end. So blogging is such a great way to fulfill that creativity. But also the world is your oyster. The sky’s the limit with the amount of money you can make. So I love that you made that connection. Okay. So where did you go from there? Once you realized you wanted to dig into blogging?

Zhen Zhou: Just to mention, the other thing I really like about blogging is that it’s actually the perfect marriage of creativity and business. Blogging is a huge business. There’s a lot of strategy and business tactics behind the whole creative process. 

Megan Porta: Oh gosh, that’s so true. Yes. 

Zhen Zhou: So then this is where I mentioned to you that my journey was a bit convoluted. So actually this is not my first blog. So when I first started I did a DIY blog because you know I made jewelry for sale and it seemed natural. So then I did that for a while. Then I felt like I wasn’t getting anywhere. So then I closed the blog, which I think was a big mistake because it actually was on Buzzfeed and it was on Timeout and whatnot, so I regret doing that. So then I rethought about it and I was thinking, what can I do that is still creative within blogging, but I think has more potential? Then that’s when I thought about food. Because I love food and to me it’s more than just eating, even though I do love eating too much but I think like foods stop bringing people together. It’s just another form of being creative besides jewelry. There are more people interested in recipes than there are in jewelry. Just for today, I actually researched, so I used to do runway tutorials, like how do you recreate this Prada earring? I searched that on Key search and zero people in the whole world are looking for how to make a Prada earring.

Megan Porta: Lots of people there. 

Zhen Zhou: So. I think the switch was a good choice.

Megan Porta: Yeah. Yeah. Everyone needs food, right? Most people who consume food love food. So I just think that was a really smart call. It’s never gonna go away. Food is only gonna get more and more popular. So you made that decision to dig into food blogging, and when was that? 

Zhen Zhou: Okay. This is again, where it gets a bit complicated again. So I think I told people that I wanted to be a food recipe blogger in 2017. It’s because I saw that my Instagram account was open in 2017 and I think I got this reply from everyone. Are you sure that blogs are still alive? Does anyone read a blog? Probably because you know, I didn’t have much success with my previous blog. To be fair, I got 20,000 views a month with the DIY blog, which I think was okay. It’s not amazing, but I think I could probably have built it up higher if I knew then what I know now. 

Megan Porta: Sure. 

Zhen Zhou: But because you know of my perception that it wasn’t going anywhere or I don’t know what I was doing. I think I just had so many site hustles, so it took me another two years before I actually started the actual blog. Then, it took me again another year before I even set that blog up. So it took me one year to realize that I set the wrong blog up. 

Megan Porta: Oh no!

Zhen Zhou: Because you know what? I had a blog before, so I knew that I wanted self-hosted, but in the time I was away from blogging, Wordpress had come up with something that was in between self-hosted and then hosting. So there was like this middle option. So I just thought that, oh, the paid option is what I’m going for because it’s self-hosted. Then I said, and then later realized, oh no, I’m still being hosted by WordPress, which is not what I want. So then I had to redo that and then it took me, I think another year or two before I put up my first recipe post.

Megan Porta: Oh, wow. Yeah. 

Zhen Zhou: Wasn’t very efficient. 

Megan Porta: That’s all right. I, A lot of us have that as part of our story. In different forms. I look back and I’m like, whoa, I could have done things way more efficiently and way quicker, but whatever. I claim it as my story and I embrace it. So at what point did you put up your first blog post?

Zhen Zhou: Okay, so I, I actually researched all the dates for the podcast because you know, there were so many like stops that I really couldn’t remember. So I think November 20th, 2021 was my first blog post. 

Megan Porta: So you’re just coming up on a year.

Zhen Zhou: Wait, or maybe it was November, 2020. 

Megan Porta: Okay. Yeah. Either way a year or two in

Zhen Zhou: But basically I only really got serious in December 2021, because that’s when I started actually producing content and doing keyword research and whatnot. 

Megan Porta: So once you dug in, you applied some of the knowledge that you had acquired in business school to blogging. So can you talk through some of that, how it applies in our world?

Zhen Zhou: Okay. So I think with a business school, kind of like with SEO, so they always say, it’s not one big thing, it’s many small things. It’s the same with translating what I learned in the MBA. But I think if we divided it into themes, I think there would be five. So one is what gets you here won’t get you there. Then another is investing and treating your blog like a business, which you’ve heard many times. Then the third one is diversification. The fourth is putting yourself out there, and the fifth is thinking about the consumer. So is there one that you want me to start with or should I just go?

Megan Porta: Let’s start with number one.

Zhen Zhou: Okay, cool. So what gets you here won’t get you there is the first thing they tell us when we get into MBS. Which is that, whatever skills we have that make them accept us, it’s not gonna get us the job we want. I think it’s the same with blogging. So before Mediavine, I was obsessed with traffic because you know, everyone wants 50K to get into Mediavine to earn some decent ad money. But now that I’ve joined Mediavine, it’s not that I don’t want traffic, I still want traffic, but I think about other things as well. So I don’t always go for the highest volume keyword that I can rank for anymore. For example, I will look at the RPM. So there’s some topics that I said to have lower RPMs like cocktails, so I don’t go for those. Then others that are like negative keywords. So for example, recently I found this keyword that had good volume and looked quite easy on Keysearch, but it was some kind of cocoa bomb or chocolate bomb and your bomb is a negative keyword in Mediavine. So I didn’t go for that. I’m not saying I won’t, but I can do a lot of other posts before I run out of posts to write about and then do this one. 

Megan Porta: The low RPM thing is a big one. You have to be really careful about some of those words. I know a lot of people use these as killer brownies. Or, there’s a handful of violence related words and then also sexual content. There’s things that can describe food that maybe shouldn’t.

Zhen Zhou: Yep. Yeah. And you know how I know this because someone told me my blog got blocked in their office for being a porn site. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. 

Zhen Zhou: So I really have to look at the language on my blog, I think. 

Megan Porta: Wow. Yeah. That’s huge. Something that slips under the radar for a lot of us. I didn’t know this until recently either, and I went back and I think the word that I kept finding in my low RPM post that was being flagged was, I think, don’t quote me on this, but I think it was delectable or desirable or something like that kind of could allude to something else. So I just replaced it and my RPMs went up.

Zhen Zhou: Amazing. Yeah. Okay. I’m going to look into those words as well because I use a Mediavine list but they don’t mention that and I can see how that might be suggestive. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. Okay. Anything else on your point about what got you here won’t get you there?

Zhen Zhou: Then for example, before Mediavine, I would never touch a top three post. But now I just look at the RPMs. One of my top three posts actually has really low RPMs. So now, what is my purpose for this post? My purpose is not the traffic anymore. Cause now I’m in Mediavine, right? My purpose is to earn money from the post. So if the RPMs are low, I should still update it even though it’s a top three post. People might disagree, but that’s my approach at the moment. 

Megan Porta: Has that paid off for you? Have you ever had a moment where you’re like, oh shoot, I wish I wouldn’t have touched that?

Zhen Zhou: Because I only very recently got into MediaMind, so there hasn’t been enough data to do a comparison. If you ever re invite me back on the show, I promise to share all the data with you. 

Megan Porta: We’ll get an update then. All right. Anything else about that first point? 

Zhen Zhou: So I think that’s about the main thing about thinking about what got you here and then what you need to get to where you wanna go from now on. So the second point was, investing and treating your blog like a business, which so many people say. There’s the obvious thing. So I did an SEO audit with Casey Markee. I thought that was really good and that’s really what helped me get into Mediavine because it showed me this yellow brick road to follow. But I think there’s some less of your stuff as well. So like for example, I think with blogging sometimes there’s a group of bloggers that pride themselves on never having paid for anything. Never having bought a prop, never having taken a course, never having taken a tool, sorry. I was gonna say that’s cool. But I think it might not work for everyone. I think sometimes what we’re not paying and money we’re paying for in time. I’m sure they’ve given enough time, all of us could figure out what the course is and not teach as well. But it’s just gonna take you so much longer to learn it rather than just pay someone to teach you. 

Megan Porta: I love this point. If you listen to the podcast, which I know you do, Zhen, this is huge for me. I have really good friends who are bloggers who are exactly what you’re describing. They’re like, I don’t pay for anything and I figure it out. But my question is, how long does it take you though to get you to where you wanna go on your path if you’re not investing in learning and as much as you can. This is such an important point. What else about that? 

Zhen Zhou: Oh, so I was just gonna say, I totally agree with you. I’m always looking for new things to invest in. Which doesn’t mean I invest in everything cuz you know, I like to make data decisions. I think sometimes the things you invest in don’t have to be super obvious. So for example, like props. So I do latte posts and one of my friends actually called me out for bad photos because she said, why are you always doing a top-down post of a shot? The reason I do that is because I don’t have one of those clear glasses so that you can see the nice layers in the latte. I think I really should invest in that.

Megan Porta: A little detail, but yeah. 

Zhen Zhou: Then other things about treating your blog like a business. I think it’s like having processes. So you know, when you have a corporate career. In a way it’s quite easy because someone else has already thought about all these things and they have come up with a standard operating procedure that you just have to follow. When you’re a blogger or you’re doing a small business, you don’t have that map. You need to figure it out yourself. Even if your business is super small, you need to just work out what works for you or your business. So for example, for keyword research, I realized that I was always getting seduced by these keywords that don’t fit my niche, but look super rankable and writing about that, which is not great. So I’ve actually started this flow chart to help me determine whether or not I should go after a keyword. I think the good thing about having that is that in future, if you wanna hire out a job, so if I want someone else to write the post or to do the keyword research, they have all the processes to follow. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s smart. I love that idea. Anything else on investing? What other things? If people are listening and they’re like what should I be investing in? Do you have thoughts on that?

Zhen Zhou: So for investment I’ve said that we should invest, but obviously there are now so many courses out there, it doesn’t mean you should take everyone. So I often ask for recommendations in groups and I see lots of people do that too. But it doesn’t mean I just take every suggestion that comes up. I need to see that lots of people, there’s a trend, lots of people have taken it and recommended it. Or more importantly, I wanna know the concrete proof that the traffic improved or the revenue improved after the course. So that’s actually why I started doing my reviews or some of the courses and tools I took. So I actually go into the really granular detail. I don’t just say my traffic improved. I say after taking the course, I got 50% more clicks, but then, what are these 50% more clicks? Maybe because I took the course, I wrote more posts, so that’s why I have more clicks. So then I go into how many clicks per post before and after the course. So you know, if I’m getting more clicks on average, then I know the course is good for me. So that’s something I did with like Keysearch and with cooking with keywords and RankIQ and a couple of other things that I tried.

Megan Porta: Yeah, the people like those details. I think that speaks volumes when you can get as nitty gritty with the numbers as possible. People can make a better decision when they hear those numbers. 

Zhen Zhou: I think it also helps me keep track of my progress. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, definitely. Any other investments that you recommend?

Zhen Zhou: So I mentioned that I really like Cooking with Keywords, my SEO audit was great. RankIQ, I think you mentioned that a lot as well . Yep. It’s familiar to your listeners. 

Megan Porta: Yes. All great investments. Anything to do with, I feel like finding that SEO or Keyword research tool that you really trust and and know and just digging into it, whether it’s Keysearch or RankIQ, or whether it’s getting an audit or whatever, like figuring that out I think is a huge piece of the whole puzzle.

Zhen Zhou: I think it is. Also like trusting the person you’re paying. So I’m not saying put your brain to sleep and not think about yourself. If I paid someone, then I should take its advice and try it before deciding. I wanna do something else. 

Megan Porta: That’s a good one. Yep. Completely trusting, implementing, and then moving on to the next thing. Yeah. Yeah. That’s great. Okay. Are you through investing? Anything else on that before we move to diversifying? 

Zhen Zhou: No, I’m very happy to talk about diversification. 

Megan Porta: Okay, yeah, go for it. 

Zhen Zhou: Diversification and two things. One in your traffic sources and the second in income. So previously I was just focused on SEO, but now that I’ve made it to Irvine, I’m getting a bit concerned about being hit by a Google update. So I’ve started to look into other sources like Pinterest and Facebook. Then for income, so I think, a lot of us know that Google is actually going to do away with third party cookies, and obviously we all hope that our ad earnings will not be affected. But I was talking to one of my friends who also did MBA and she was saying that actually this is what happened to Facebook. They got rid of the third party cookies and now the revenue is down by a lot. So even though I hope that it’s good news for us, I think we should be prepared. So I started to look at diversifying income and actually I’m actually thinking of starting a second blog, which has more affiliate potential. Because with a cooking blog, if I sell you a piece of cheese on Amazon, I think I get paid like a couple of cents. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. So what is your focus? 

Zhen Zhou: For the second blog? So I’ve got two ideas and one is a travel blog about Korea. Because before I did my MBA I was selling Korean beauty products. So I’ve been there many times, and I really like the country and travel. You get a good affiliate with the etiquettes and the hotels and whatnot. Then a second one would be maybe doing a DIY site again, because I really enjoyed that as well and it ties into the recipes as well. 

Sponsor: Hey there. Jumping in for a quick break to talk about RankIQ. I love this keyword research tool and you’ve heard me talk about how much it has helped me to grow my traffic on my food blog. I’d love to share one of the reasons I love this tool so much, which is how fast I can kick out a post. Here is why it’s faster. Number one, the RankIQ optimizer is an incredible optimizer and provides very specific recommendations about content to include inside the post, while allowing me to write my own posts in my own words from my own perspective, and with my unique experience and expertise. This makes the writing process go really smoothly, and the optimizer acts as my guide leading the way to a comprehensively written post. Number two, I don’t do as much searching when deciding on a keyword, so I dig into the writing portion really quickly, and with laser focus. Number three, I dive into each post with confidence because each keyword has been handpicked by the creator of the tool, Brandon, versus having some automated robot to do it. With other tools I approach each keyword with much more trepidation because I honestly have no clue how it will perform or whether it is worth my time and energy. Go to to sign up and check it out for yourself. Now back to the episode. 

Megan Porta: Then with the DIY site, you could use that to promote more specific affiliates, right?

Zhen Zhou: I think more like equipment because you know, you get paid more if they buy something like a big ticket item. So for example, there’s something called cricut, which is this printer that prints out, which I think laser cut designs for you. So you know, you get a bigger commission if someone buys that printer.

Megan Porta: Yeah. Like you mentioned, if someone purchases, I don’t know, a can of beans that you recommend on Amazon affiliate program, you get 3 cents, and that does not add up very quickly. So those bigger ticket items would probably produce a lot more revenue. I can see. 

Zhen Zhou: Yep. Actually, one of my MBA classmates was in charge of this affiliate system thing in Amazon, but she didn’t really wanna tell me all the details, but she did say that there are some bloggers earning millions from the affiliates. Her advice was just to concentrate on the big ticket items and to do roundups. Like the 10 best x, y, z of 2021. 

Megan Porta: Ooh, that right there is a great tip. I love that. Okay, I love that. Anything else about diversifying, whether it’s income or platforms? 

Zhen Zhou: That’s about it in general. If you have specific questions, I’m happy to answer them.

Megan Porta: Okay. How much do you recommend diversifying on platforms? 

Zhen Zhou: You mean as in traffic? 

Megan Porta: Yeah, so to diversify between Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram doesn’t provide a lot, but there and your blog. 

Zhen Zhou: So I greatly recommend diversification because you hear so many bloggers who get hit by a Google update and then their traffic just tanks. I think you feel less stressed if you know that you have something else to rely on.

Megan Porta: Yeah. That is so true. Pinterest is not dead. I know a lot of people don’t like Pinterest right now because it’s changed so much in the past couple of years. It’s not what it used to be, but I think that, my opinion stays that Pinterest is such a visual platform. People love getting recipes on Pinterest, so I feel like that is a no-brainer. If you’re a food blogger, you should be dedicating some time to Pinterest, even if it’s just a little bit. But just my opinion there. 

Zhen Zhou: I do pin every day now actually, but I must confess, I never actually did Pinterest before this. And the reason was because when I had a DIY blog and I used to search on Pinterest, I loved looking, using it to look at photos. But when I search, I would search for a skirt and I would get shown a shoe or if I click the link it would just bring me to somewhere not related. So to me, the search didn’t seem to work. So then I thought that it didn’t work for other people. That’s why I think a community is important. Because I think a few years ago Pinterest was actually bringing bloggers, lots of traffic, but I didn’t know that because my search process was just not working. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, every platform is a learning curve, right? You just have to dig in a little bit and see what works for you. Okay. What about tip number four, putting yourself out there. What do you have about that?

Zhen Zhou: So I think we need to lean into what’s uncomfortable. So I’m actually not only introverted, I’m super shy and super reserved. Before the MBA, I would never have pitched to you and say, can I come on your podcast? I’ll tell you a secret, I’m here because I love listening to your podcast, but also because I really want the back link.

Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s huge. I think that’s a huge reason to come on. Absolutely. 

Zhen Zhou: So I think if I still continue thinking I’m shy, I don’t want to do this, then you know I’m never gonna help myself. So we really need to do what makes us uncomfortable to help us grow.

Megan Porta: Yes. 

Zhen Zhou: If you do it more, it really becomes more like second nature. So like before the MBA, I remember once I had to talk to my boss about something and we actually got on quite well, but because I was so shy, she actually thought I was breaking out in hives because I guess, I was just so stressed about talking to her. But then during the MBA we had a couple of conferences. So that was one way I went to Morocco and then it was held by MIT. So we were pitching people about our business ideas and then I really invested so much in paying for the MBA, so I just made myself go up on stage and pitch my business idea. People were really encouraging. So I think, just try doing what makes you uncomfortable, and you’ll be surprised. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, you do get used to the discomfort and the discomfort becomes less and less, the more you do it, like you mentioned. By the way, here’s a little side note, I believe that everyone listening should be on a podcast, if not more than one, because of that, it pushes you out of your comfort zone. It also gives you back links. It allows you the opportunity to talk about things that you are knowledgeable about. It allows you to become connected with other people. It gains you, new networking opportunities and things like that. So yeah, just a little side note. Everyone listening, go pitch a podcast that you would be great on and pitch me.

Zhen Zhou: Pitch Megan. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Yes. Get on a podcast. I think it’s great for everyone. Anything else about putting yourself out there and making yourself a little uncomfortable? 

Zhen Zhou: Just two points. One is that if you’re not uncomfortable, it means you’re not growing. So that’s not good. Then secondly, Megan is so encouraging when you pitch her, so please pitch her.

Megan Porta: Yay. I love that. Do it. I hope to get a surge of pitches now, after your episode is released, Zhen. 

Zhen Zhou: Let me know. 

Megan Porta: Yes. Okay. And I wrote that you have a fifth point, but I didn’t write down what it was, so remind me what that is and then you can chat about that one. 

Zhen Zhou: Okay. The fifth point was actually thinking about the consumer. So I think we are also getting told you need to think about your blog reader and solving their problems, but I think we should also put ourselves in the shoes of the consumer. So actually we are also consumers. So for example, when you think about which social media platform to concentrate on, you need to think about what kind of consumer they are looking for and does that fit your personality? So to my point about how I was on Instagram doing SEO, I realized that I used to gripe to people that I wasted so much time on Instagram, but then actually I realized that’s not true. I didn’t actually waste time. I just wasn’t taking full use of the opportunities it was giving me because I’m not the right consumer for them. So I heard in this Top Hat Rank webinar that Instagram is like the bar and I’m not really the right customer for the bar. So when I was on Instagram, I actually got asked to be on two TV shows. One is Channel News Asia, which is like CNN for Asia. Then another was this British reality TV cooking show, which is like the home cooking version of Great British Bake Off. You know, if I had taken them, you never know, my blog might have become really successful, but I didn’t take them. So that’s my point. You should lean into discomfort. Secondly, you should also think about whether you are really the person who’s going to take advantage of, the chances that social media platforms offer you.

Megan Porta: Wow, that’s so cool. I love that, that you shared that. Yeah. You just never know, right? Alright. Anything else about that last point that you wanna mention? 

Zhen Zhou: Now I just have lots of little points about what I learned from the MBA. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, let’s hear it. 

Zhen Zhou: Which are not themes. Okay. So one is related to Instagram. So I think one thing that would have been useful was having a stop loss. So in stock trading you are encouraged to actually have this price that you will sell at when your stocks fall in price. So for example, before I buy Apple, I know that you know the hit 30, I’m gonna sell it. The reason for that is because there’s this escalation of commitment. So people invest, they get a negative return, and what do you think they do? 

Megan Porta: Sure. 

Zhen Zhou: So they invest again. And economics that is so irrational. You just made a loss. Why are you buying some more of the loss making stock? That’s because people, the loss of us, they don’t want to give up on it. With Instagram, I was on it for years just trying and never giving up. So I think for example, now I’m moving to TikTok, but before I’m moving I’m thinking, you know what, by when, if I don’t get X number of followers, then I am going to give up on this platform. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, I think we all need to listen to this a little more because you’re so right. With each passing year, we’re like maybe this year, maybe if I tweak this, maybe if I do this. But then like year after year, it just doesn’t move anywhere. So we should put our sites elsewhere. 

Zhen Zhou: Or you change what you’re doing. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, that’s a great point. Okay. What other little tips do you have?

Zhen Zhou: Then one I guess is and I think we mentioned this about the importance of networking, and having that community. So as I mentioned, because you know I had a DIY blog when I was in the MBA and nobody in the MBA was into blogging. So I think that it just made it harder to amplify my efforts with the blog, which is why I immediately looked for Facebook groups when I started the food blog. I found Food Blogger Central and that’s what led me to Casey Markee, which led me to Cooking with Keywords, which led me to Mediavine. Because I really believe in community and it’s really interesting. When I was in business school, I hated networking because I thought it was really fake. But I actually love blogging networking and I think about it more like community building rather than, it’s tit for tat networking, if that makes sense. So actually I pitched so many Facebook groups and I wouldn’t have done this before when I was shy and I just told them, I find blogging can be isolating. If you’re looking for people to be like your blogging colleagues, because we don’t have that anymore maybe we can start a WhatsApp chat. I got inundated with replies, so I got like thousands of replies. 

Megan Porta: Wow. Just a note about what you said, business networking. When you said those words, I was like, oh, I clinched up. Because I remember those conferences that I used to have to go to in the corporate world that were super stuffy and uncomfortable and not genuine. Networking in the food blogging space is so different from that. 

Zhen Zhou: I think in food blogging, we all want to really help each other and in business, everyone’s what can I get from you? What can you give me? 

Megan Porta: That’s so true. Yeah. Such an important piece of the whole puzzle, that networking and community piece. Do you have recommendations about where to start? You mentioned that you started in the Food Blogger Central. Do you have any other places to go to get started with that? 

Zhen Zhou: Oh, I do have one and it’s my own. So I told you that I pitched all these groups and got these thousands of replies. So I messaged these thousands of people and only hundreds replied. So then I sorted out many groups and we said, we’ll do calls, and I think only two calls happened. The reason is because firstly, I think people might be interested, but they’re not so committed. Secondly, because of the timing thing. Because we’re all spread around the world. So what I did was I started a Facebook group called Connecting Bloggers and my plan is to start a weekly or monthly community building. I’m staying away from networking here. Then whoever can make it, just signs up for it on that day. Because I think with most accountability mastermind groups, there’s a set time and it might be 2:00 AM your time or 5:00 AM your time if you just make it. But now I’m just putting out various timings every month and then if you wanna be there and you can make it, you just sign up. 

Megan Porta: Ah, great idea. I love that. 

Zhen Zhou: So we’d love to have you, Megan, if you wanna join us. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, I love that idea. That’s such a new perspective on how to do that. Amazing. 

Zhen Zhou: Originally I was inspired by somebody who came on your podcast.Oh, so I think it’s, I might be saying her name wrong. I think it’s Allea. She does email marketing and she does a monthly roundtable on Zoom, I think, and it’s shared on YouTube. I got an invitation to it and I was like, this is so clever. So I thought I should do the same thing for food blogging. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. I love that. 

Zhen Zhou: Not that I’m gonna put the video on YouTube, by the way. So nobody here has to be worried. 

Megan Porta: All right. Do you have any other little tips for us, Zhen? 

Zhen Zhou: Okay. So I do have just a couple of small things here and there yeah. If it gets too granular, do feel free to stop me.

Megan Porta: Go for it. 

Zhen Zhou: So one thing we learn in business school is that, do you think choices are good or bad? 

Megan Porta: Oh gosh, that is a loaded question. I don’t know. What are your thoughts?

Zhen Zhou: I think we say we want choice, we want lots of choice, right? Yeah. But actually too much choice is bad. It’s bad for the consumer and it’s bad for the company selling a product. Because people can’t make a decision. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s complicated. It makes it more complicated. 

Zhen Zhou: Yeah. So when I was doing my newsletter very recently, at first I was like, no, I have to give them lots of choices. Maybe they just want dessert recipes or they just want bubble tea, or they want savory. So then I had all these choices. Then I remember, wait, too much choice is bad. So then I just thought, what are the really important sections I have to have? Which is all recipes, vegan recipes, because if I send a vegan a pork recipe, I don’t think they’re gonna be staying on my mailing list. Then the third one is the life of the food blogger. Because I don’t think they’re here for my recipes. So then I just have these three simple segments. 

Megan Porta: I love that. Simplicity goes a long way. 

Zhen Zhou: It makes our life easier too because then you don’t have to manage so many streams. 

Megan Porta: Yes, that is true. It simplifies it for the user, but also for us. So all around . Yeah. It just brings more clarity, I think. What am I really good at? What is worth delivering? What’s, where’s the value here? So yeah. Good message. All right, what else do you have? 

Zhen Zhou: Okay, so two last points. The second last is, so one thing we learned in organizational behavior is they were looking at what makes a successful team. One thing they identified was that all these teams had early successes. So then when I thought about blogging, I started this thing where now I write down all my milestones. Because I think all of us, we go through these parts of the journey where we wanna give up. We think that Google hates us. It’s not giving us love. We’ve done it for years. It’s not going anywhere. But then before you give up, look at your milestones and maybe that will convince you to continue your journey. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. This is like the, have you read? Are you a business book reader? 

Zhen Zhou: I was, but the last, but this whole year I’ve just been so focused on the blog. I haven’t had time to do anything outside the blog. 

Megan Porta: Yeah, fair enough. So there’s a book called The Gap in the Gain by Dan Sullivan. It is so good. It’s about this whole concept. It’s one of my favorite new business books that I’ve read. But yeah, like when you look back and you look at the progress that you’ve made in any area of your business or life, that is more powerful than looking ahead to what you haven’t done yet. And that can be a huge game changer. So that reminded me of this concept that you were just talking about. 

Zhen Zhou: I will check that book out and thanks for sharing that. So I know that I wasn’t just regurgitating on since someone else has actually written a book about it, so it must be a good tip to share.

Megan Porta: It is so good. It’s an amazing book. You’ll love it. What is your last tip for us Zhen? 

Zhen Zhou: So my last one is about comparison and competition. So I think we’re always being told not to compare, and I think in the ideal world, we won’t compare ourselves, but in reality we all compare ourselves. We hear about someone who does it better or quicker or whatnot than us and we think, oh dear, I suck. So I think to manage this, you need to know who your real competitors are. So one reason I gave up my DIY blog was because I felt that there was no traction. But actually now I think 20,000 views wasn’t bad for that time. I think at that time I could almost have gotten into Mediavine, cause that was 25,000 right then. But because the only people I knew about doing this were like people like honestly, WTF and they were all like in the billions of views. They were always in the newspapers and they were getting big brands working with them. So I felt oh no, I’m losing. My blog’s doing nothing because I can’t match up to these. So you know, you need to compare yourself with your real competition, not with the outliers. 

Megan Porta: This goes back to your previous point a little bit. Compare yourself with a previous version of you so that you don’t have to look outside of what you were doing necessarily.

Zhen Zhou:True. But sometimes looking at your competitions also results in healthy benchmarking. In the business world they do that. I’m not saying compare yourself to someone else but sometimes you know, if you think it’s not working for yourself and someone who’s started at the same time as you, or is at the similar point in the journey, you can share tips or whatnot. Or just look at what that person’s doing that you’re not, that you might wanna try. 

Megan Porta: We talked about this a little earlier, just embracing that journey, even if it’s been a messy one. Even if you’ve made mistakes that have held you back for years, like I have. It’s okay, that’s my story. There’s no way I can go back and change my story. Nothing in this world will allow that to happen. So what is resisting it going to do? That’s only gonna cause me discouragement and Being upset and there’s no point in that. So embracing whatever your journey is and moving forward. 

Zhen Zhou:True. Maybe in those periods you were planting seeds and they haven’t bloomed yet, but one day they will.

Megan Porta: Yep. That’s an analogy I love to use too. Plant those seeds. They are germinating beneath the surface, even as we speak. Yeah. Oh, this has been so good. Thank you business school for giving Zhen such clarity and value and wisdom. 

Zhen Zhou: I will let them know they ever invite me back as an alumni speaker

Megan Porta: Yes, you should. That’s such a great idea. That would push you out of your comfort zone too, right? 

Zhen Zhou: Only if they give the back link. 

Megan Porta: Oh, yes. Oh my gosh. That’s funny. All right. Is there anything we’re missing that you just wanted to make sure to touch on before we say goodbye? 

Zhen Zhou: I think we’ve covered almost everything.

Megan Porta: Oh, this was so valuable. Thank you, Zhen, for your time today. Really appreciate chatting with you and connecting. This has been super fun. 

Zhen Zhou: Thank you for taking a chance on me and for inviting me to be here. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Of course. Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?

Zhen Zhou: Yep. So actually this section really speaks to me because when I was a kid I used to collect quotes, but I would just leave you with one. Which is that it doesn’t matter how slowly you go, as long as you don’t stop. So it doesn’t matter how slow our blogging journey is, as long as we don’t stop, we’ll get there eventually.

Megan Porta: Oh amazing. That fits in so well with our chat. Thank you. Thank you. We’ll put together show notes for you, Zhen, and if you wanna go peek at those, you can go to Tell everyone where they can find you online and social media, etc cetera. 

Zhen Zhou: So my blog is and on all the social media except Twitter because my name is too long. On Twitter, it’s greedy girl g. 

Megan Porta: All right. Oh, I just put that together why your name is GGG on Skype. That’s funny. All right. I am a little slow sometimes. All right. Thank you everyone. Go check out Zhen and thank you, Zhen for being here. Thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers.

Outro: I will see you in the next episode. Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be so grateful if you posted it to your social media feed and stories. I will see you next time.

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