In this episode, Christine McMichael teaches us how to balance being a blogger with taking care of our families without getting stuck in burnout.

We cover information on productivity and time management strategies geared towards being a full-time parent while running your own business.

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 Jar of Lemons

Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bio Christine is the recipe creator and food blogger at Jar of Lemons! Jar Of Lemons is a healthy recipe website focused on easy-to-find ingredients that are flavorful and creative. From comforting dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less, to healthier takes on classic favorites, Jar Of Lemons is here to help with inspired recipes and a refreshing, relatable community!


  • When you experience burnout as a parent and blogger, shift your focus back to what you love doing.
  • Should you remove SEO and other blogging tools to revive your passion for blogging?
  • Plan your content out in advance and hire help to make it easier.
  • Outsource where you can because it can be a game changer long-term.
  • Find the parenting approach that works for you – everyone is different.
  • Are you making space to still spend quality time with your family?
  • Mom guilt is normal and don’t feel like you need to do everything when it comes to your work or home.
  • Set realistic content creation goals.
  • Done is better than none – not everything will be perfect.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to other bloggers and stick to your boundaries.


Click for full transcript.

EBT462 – Christine McMichael

Intro  00:00

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 achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.

I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 13 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported. 

Megan Porta  00:37

Whether you are a mom or not, but especially if you’re a mom, this episode is going to be really inspiring and beneficial for you. Christine McMichael from Jar of Lemons joins me inside the episode to talk about how to juggle this crazy job of being a food blogger while also juggling being a mom. She talks through her story of being a mom of three. After her second baby, she really struggled to keep up with a blog and almost quit and reached the stage called burnout that some of us know about, unfortunately. Before she had her third baby though, she decided to come up with a strategy so that this didn’t happen again. And she shares all of her insights with us so that we can be prepared whether we are preparing for a baby or some other big event in our life. You are going to love this one. Christine is so fun to talk to. This is episode number 462 sponsored by RankIQ. 

Sponsor  01:36

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Megan Porta  02:34

Christine is the recipe developer and food blogger at Jar of Lemons. Jar of Lemons is a healthy recipe website focused on easy to find ingredients that are flavorful and creative. From comforting dinners that can be made in 30 minutes or less to healthier takes on classic favorites. Jar of Lemons is here to help with inspired recipes and a refreshing relatable community. 

Megan Porta  02:56

Good morning, Christine, how are you today?

Christine McMichael  02:59

I’m good. How are you?

Megan Porta  03:00

I’m doing well. I’m super excited to chat with you. I think this topic is very relevant for probably most people listening. And we’re going to talk about just being a mom or a parent, and how it can be so much and how to manage all of that as a blogger. But first, before we get into that. Do you have a fun fact to share with us?

Christine McMichael  03:20

Yeah, so I actually went to school for mechanical engineering. And I worked in that field for a while. And I guess my fun fact from that season is that I actually got to work at a power plant for like three months and wore a hard hat and steel toed boots. Which is pretty ironic because I am pretty much like the girliest girl on the planet. Like I live in dresses and but it was actually such a fun experience. And I learned so much and yeah, so random thing in my past. 

Megan Porta  03:56

Yeah, I get a little glimpse of a different. Yeah, just a different way to dress yourself and kind of show yourself to the world. So what do you think you learned the most from that experience? 

Christine McMichael  04:08

Oh, man. Well, I was in the middle of like the desert. So I was pretty just on my own. It was actually my internship during school. And I I learned how to live in a world of men and worked really hard and I learned a lot about electricity. But yeah, it was a good experience. I learned a lot it was is just a crazy one for sure.

Megan Porta  04:36

Round out your experience. And now as a food blogger, you’re definitely not in the land of men, now you’re in the land of women. Mostly there are some men are but let’s talk about your story. I think that will frame this conversation really well. So Christine, would you mind talking through just like when you started your blog and you know, a short synopsis of the evolution of it?

Christine McMichael  04:58

Yeah, so I started my blog. In 2015, it was a hobby, my head just gotten married. And I was, I had not been cooking at all, like I truly did not know how to cook. It wasn’t something like my mom really did growing up, we ate a lot of fast food, or like a lot of hamburger helper and things like that. And fast forward to when we got married, I was living on like, Lean Cuisines and Lucky Charms for dinner, literally. So I thought, this is a really great time to dive into cooking, I should probably figure out how to feed my husband. So I started cooking and kind of documenting the journey through Jar of Lemons. And it has just grown from there. I focus mostly on healthyish recipes. And they’re usually quick and easy. And then now having three kids I am focused on okay, what can I feed my entire family in one meal that everyone will love? So yeah, that’s kind of in the evolution of Jar of Lemons.

Megan Porta  06:00

I love it. And I love how you grew up just not having prepared cuisine like Lucky Charms for dinner and and how you’ve evolved to where you’re at today. How does that feel looking back on that evolution?

Christine McMichael  06:12

I mean, really good compared to like where I was. Yeah, part of that was a little bit self-induced just with college. And then like going into a career, you know, being single and working. I just didn’t really value cooking for myself. So once I got married, that really shifted things, and my eyes have been opened so much. I’ve learned a ton. I would say my friends are like “Man, you’ve come a long way from those Lucky Charm days.”

Megan Porta  06:43

Yeah, that’s funny. Okay, so you mentioned that you’re a mom, how you have three kids, right? 

Christine McMichael  06:48

Yeah, I do. 

Megan Porta  06:50

Okay, and how old are they?

Christine McMichael  06:51

So I have a five-year-old, a three-year-old and a four-month-old.

Megan Porta  06:55

Oh, wow. Oh, gosh. You’re busy and tired. 

Christine McMichael  06:58

Yes, all those things, yeah. 

Megan Porta  07:01

Yes. Okay. So when you first had your first baby, your five-year-old, how did that go? Having a blog and having a baby a new baby? 

Christine McMichael  07:09

Yeah, that was, it was pretty rough. Honestly, it was 2018. I was just a few years into the blog. And we had just moved. Were from Texas, but we’re in Oklahoma now. And so that whole thing was a big adjustment. Having the baby at home at first I was like, He’s gonna stay home with me. I’m gonna do both of these things. And it was just really, really hard. I actually could not do it, like I tried. It was it was a recipe for burnout. I would say I didn’t actually hit burnout until my second kiddo in 2020. Which, of course, add 2020 on there. And oh, yeah, that was the shifting point for me. But with the first one, there’s so much I was just learning about having a baby. I think I pretty much just took time completely off of the blog. Like I didn’t even do anything during that time. With the second one. I tried to do both. And that’s when I truly burned out. And then with my most recent baby, I feel like I did the work in advance to prepare. And that helped so much. And I feel like I went into it with a better mindset. But yeah, it did take that burnout to get there for sure. 

Megan Porta  07:16

And I’m just curious, because I’ve experienced burnout a handful of times as well. So what did your burnout look like for you just unable to focus on work, just exhausted? How did it look for you?

Christine McMichael  08:39

Well, yeah, so 2020 was a hard year, of course for everyone. Yeah. And so I had him in July of 2020. So it was right in the middle of it. My blog, because I think because it was a healthy niche. It started taking a nosedive that year. I know a lot of people actually did really great that year, because everyone was home and cooking. But for some reason mine tanked that started the year off. And then I had him. And so after that it was like, I don’t even know if I’m gonna go back to blogging, like, there…It almost felt like what’s the point? Like things aren’t going well. I have a baby. I have two kids now. They were all home. We were all home trying to work. My husband was working. We were like taking shifts, and it just felt like I don’t know if this is worth it. And so I had pretty much decided like, I think I’m done and I’m gonna just stop and then I’m trying to remember exactly what that shifting point was. I think it was I talked to a friend and she was like, stop worrying about SEO and all of these like technical things trying to like revive your blog. Just start creating and just do what you love. And so I actually like deleted all of my like SEO tools and everything. And I was like, I’m just gonna make what I want. And that things just shifted when I started doing that and focusing on creating what I love.

Megan Porta  10:12

Oh, I love that. And that, that takes a lot of courage, but also willpower, because it’s so tempting to like, get back into those details of how am I going to get traction on this post? So how did you get around that because that would be really hard for me.

Christine McMichael  10:30

I had to literally delete, like, all of my accounts, like I deleted Yoast, I deleted Semrush, like all of all of the things. I knew if I had the tools, I would still go to them. And they would shift how I thought about food and, and recipe creation. So I just got rid of them all. And it was like, Okay, I’m starting over, basically.

Megan Porta  10:52

Wow. So how did it go from there? At what point were you like, okay, I can get back into SEO and some of those other things, details. 

Christine McMichael  11:02

When I started seeing traction again, that’s when I kind of started bringing that stuff in very carefully, because I was using it too much as like a crutch. So there was a lot of things that happened in that time. My baby was older. So things were starting to get a little bit easier. I started hiring out some help. And then that also helped me like free up my mind and free up my workflow to where I could start bringing in some more of those like technical elements, and focusing on SEO again. So I think it was just kind of a slow process.

Megan Porta  11:38

Yeah. And you didn’t it sounds like you didn’t rush into it. You just kind of let it evolve and you tapped into your creativity again. Which is vital, right? Like that is probably the most important piece right there is just feeling that passion that we have for our blogs and cooking again, right? 

Christine McMichael  11:55

Yeah, I, I think taking like a full break like that, even though it wasn’t long. But you know, through postpartum, I fully just stopped. I don’t know, it was kind of a weird mix of things. I do remember, like, once I hit just like, I’m just gonna create, and I freed that up. I think I did that through the rest of 2020. Then in 2021, I felt like okay, you know, New Year, I can start over I’m refreshed again. So yeah, that helps so much.

Megan Porta  12:22

Yeah. And then for your third baby, you said you kind of prepped yourself and you came in with a plan. So what was your plan beforehand? 

Christine McMichael  12:31

Okay, yes. So this really changed everything for me, because with my first I just didn’t work with my second I tried to work and just struggled through it. But with my third baby, I did a lot of preparation in advance, I actually wrote out my content calendar all the way up through three months postpartum, which is crazy. So like the second I found out, I was pregnant, I have had terrible nausea, like really, really bad nausea with all of my pregnancies. It’s the literal worst. So I was like, I know, I can’t work in the first trimester because I’ll be too sick. And then the third trimester is hard. And then there’s postpartum. So I went ahead and plan out my entire content calendar. And I planned to shoot as much content as possible. In the second trimester, I hired a kitchen assistant. So that was actually probably my biggest game changer. She helped me so much with just dishes prepping ingredients. She kept me accountable to like, twice a week, we have shoot days, and we get it done, we would get so much done together. It really was such a game changer. And that helped me to be able to prep all of my content through three months postpartum. 

Megan Porta  13:53


Christine McMichael  13:54

Yeah, it was great. 

Megan Porta  13:55

That’s amazing. Yeah, that’s amazing. And so when you were ready to go when it was time to go back, did you feel ready? 

Christine McMichael  14:03

Yeah. I mean, yeah, I was ready. Like, honestly, the weird thing was, this baby was the easiest of all. I don’t know why maybe just because I’ve done it two other times. I felt like really motivated to go back to work. But I was in a healthier place this time, like my site was doing well. And I didn’t have like that pressure that I had in 2020. Also, I had a little bit more of a team. So I would say like, my number one tip, if, if someone is listening to this, and they have a baby at home, or they are preparing for a baby, if you can hire help early before the baby comes, that really helps so much. I also hired a photographer, a writer, like all of these kind of hired like a little mini team to help me get through postpartum. And I thought like, I’ll just use them through postpartum and then we’ll be done. I’ll go back to doing everything myself and I have kept them because it has been so transformational. 

Megan Porta  15:06

I love that. 

Christine McMichael  15:07

Yeah, it has helped so much.

Megan Porta  15:09

And I feel like maybe we should all just pretend we’re gonna have a baby. So we actually are motivated to do this because I hear so many people. And you probably do too, just talk about like, I can’t outsource, like they can never justify it fully in their minds, like, I’m not quite there. I’m not quite there. Maybe someday, maybe next year, it’s always like in the distance. But maybe if we just all pretended like, Okay, we’re gonna have this fake baby or real baby. Just as act as if and get the team together. Because I love how this has changed your life, even postpartum. And after you were supposed to, you know, get rid of the team and go back to work on your own, you’ve still kept them and it’s still been life-changing for you. 

Christine McMichael  15:53

Well, it’s funny that you say that because going like, as I found out, I was pregnant, I kind of almost thought of it as like writing a cookbook, like, okay, it’s a season, I’m just going to get all the help, like all hands on deck, we’re going to get this thing done. And then I’m going to take a break. And I almost feel like that would be a good way to just run things in general like that your time that your work, maybe have like seasons of like, I’m going to shoot for Q4 and hire a team and get things ready, knock out Q4. And then you have time to focus on other things like marketing and things like that the things you never get to, you know.

Sponsor  16:36

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Megan Porta  17:53

So many people say that having or like writing a cookbook is like having a baby is painful, beautiful experience all in one. So I think that’s, that’s the perfect plan. And then I love how you said earlier about having that space. So giving yourself the time to be with your baby and to do all the important things as a mother gave you motivation to go back later. I think that’s so true. Even if babies aren’t involved, if we just decide to take a period of time off of work, and then go back, I find that I’m so much more motivated and in just in love with my business again, like to kind of fall back in love with it so that space can open up creativity and passion again. 

Christine McMichael  18:39

It’s so true. 

Megan Porta  18:40

Yeah. And that’s motivation for anyone listening, whether you have a baby on the horizon or not. Do you have any other tips, Christine, for mothers listening who want to have a baby or maybe they’re pregnant now and they’re just like, kind of stressing about what’s going to happen?

Christine McMichael  18:57

I mean, honestly, if whether you’re in like the baby’s season, or you have a toddler at home, or even if you have like, like I have my five-year-old just started kindergarten, and I am now adjusting to our new schedule where he’s home at like 3:30 and so like workflow just keeps changing depending on family and I would say like, do what you need to do, I think for so many years and I know this is a different topic and it’s a deeper topic but mom guilt is so real. And I struggled with that for so long, and I don’t feel like I had to it was all just like self-induced. And you know, I didn’t hire because I was a little bit afraid. And I was also just like, there was just like this guilt of like I should do it myself. I should be able to work full-time and have a baby at home. I don’t know why I thought that but for some reason that was my mindset. And it wasn’t until something shifted in my mind. And I realized, no, this is literally impossible. I need help. That’s when things shifted for me. And the pressure was just off little things like I started using Instacart, instead of going to the grocery store, I hired a house cleaner, which was really hard for me to do, like really, really hard. Yeah, just little tasks that were taking up my time. And now I have time with my family, and I’m able to work and it’s, it’s still far from perfect. But yeah, that mindset of like, I just need to do what I need to do to be in a healthy place for my kids. That was the biggest shift, hiring content creators, photographers, writers, like all of that stuff, that little team just has helped me get in such a healthier mindset. 

Megan Porta  20:57

And to look outside your work team and to, you know, find ways in your home or your life that you can get help, like you did, I think is something that a lot of us don’t think about. And why do you think it is that women and moms have such a hard time with this? This is across the board, every woman I know has, who’s a mother has that mom guilt thing? Like they.. it’s ingrained, like they feel like they need to do it all. Why is this?

Christine McMichael  21:23

I don’t know why it’s like, sometimes I think a little bit, it’s society, like, the world we live in, sometimes I do think puts pressure on moms without meaning to. But also, yeah, I don’t know. It’s something I know that affects all of us, Everybody I talked to. Something I’ve talked to a few other bloggers about is like, so my kids go to daycare now. They didn’t before. But at some point, I just was like, Okay, I’m done. I’m done carrying this guilt around, they’re gonna go to daycare, and I’m going to work. And I’m going to try not to feel guilty about that. And I struggled with it for a long time, if I’m being completely honest. And I’ve talked to a few other bloggers who actually did the same thing and felt the same way. And it is just really heartbreaking. Because we were working moms, like, there’s no way we can work with a baby or toddler or kiddo at home. Some people do. And that’s awesome. But it just, I couldn’t do it. And so I think feeling like I just need to do what I need to do to get the job done to be a good mom, that kind of freed me up like that mindset of, it’s okay to take care of myself, it’s okay to put things in place to set our family up for success. 

Megan Porta  22:40

Oh, I love that. You said that so well. It’s so true. And we all have to have grace for each other because I’ve noticed just you know, being older, I get… old-ish. I don’t know, I just hearing women share that guilt, like whether it is what you said, Christine, or it’s the other side. And people have such strong opinions. Like you need to be home with your kids or you, you shouldn’t be home with your kids. So just learning to have grace with everyone. And because everybody is different, and every family is different. And every dynamic is different. So I don’t know, just if somebody else listening is like, Nope, I need to have my baby home with me. That’s fine, too. Right. That’s your decision, but to have grace with people who have opposing decisions, if that makes sense.

Christine McMichael  23:31

Right, yeah, it’s everyone moms differently. Everyone’s workflow is different. And that that should be okay.

Megan Porta  23:38

Yes, exactly. And also, my boys are older, and I still kind of have that mom guilt. So it’s not just a baby toddler thing. 

Christine McMichael  23:47


Megan Porta  23:48

I find, yeah. Because now they’re self sufficient. So they don’t need to be watched. So during the summer, they’re kind of left to their own devices, like the Xbox or they’re watching a movie. And then I feel like I almost have more guilt now. Because I’m like, oh, gosh, I should be like, taking them out and getting them outside and making them take a walk or something. And they’re just sitting and looking at a screen. So I feel… Yeah, so it just never totally goes away. It just kind of shifts like the type of guilt you feel. Yeah. And now they’re old enough that I can’t go get them, you know, like put them in daycare or anything, but at least when they’re younger, you can put them in daycare and know that they’re being watched and they’re probably outside playing or whatever. Yeah, being active.

Christine McMichael  24:36

Right. Yeah. Yeah, that’s a good point. Because so we just started kinder, so we will have summer this year, and I don’t know what I’m going to do. Like I haven’t thought through that. But I have thought about it a little bit. And I’m like, Oh, is he just gonna watch TV the whole time? I don’t know. But and you know, maybe like that the batch work situation could work again for summers, even though that does take a lot of planning. But I’m gonna try it. I’ll let you know how it goes. 

Megan Porta  25:05

Yeah, definitely report back. It is always this like, kind of puzzle that you’re putting together. As a mom, I feel like we have to be so strategic with our work. And then we add a family. And we have to be really strategic with that as well. Yeah, it’s an ever shifting game. Right, Christine. 

Christine McMichael  25:25

Yes. 100%.

Megan Porta  25:26

Do you have any other advice for food bloggers, whether they’re moms or not just looking to, I don’t know, relieve, maybe avoid burnout. And yeah, just navigate this journey better?

Christine McMichael  25:40

Yeah, along the lines of like guilt, I would say set realistic goals, because that is one thing I did with this baby that I did not do with my others, I thought, I’m gonna still publish like three posts a week, I had all of these expectations for myself. And I’m someone who like if I, if it’s on my to do list, it’s going to get done, which is a problem. Because you know, family life is flexible, and kids get sick, and things happen, and you have a baby. And so yeah, I did not set realistic goals for myself with my first two, with my third, I decided to only post one to two times a week. And that helps so much not only with content creation, because it was really hard to shoot that much content in just a few months. But it helped my mindset of like, I only have to publish one post a week, I only have to get that one post out the door. So that helps a lot just knowing the season that you’re in. And being realistic about that. And then also, just like you said, having grace on yourself, and others because as much as quality is important for your work. You just have to look at your season, because sometimes done is better than none. And you just get it out the door and you move on and maybe you can come back and and clean it up later or make it better later. But you know, if you’re having a baby or you’re postpartum, or you’re in summertime, you know, with your kids at home, like don’t worry about perfection, have grace on yourself. And I’m speaking to the choir because I am the queen of not having grace on myself, like so many of us, but something I’m always working on. And definitely my advice as well. 

Megan Porta  27:31

Do you feel like comparison plays into that too, because I for me, I find that I have so much more grace with myself when I’m not comparing myself to other people’s journeys like, oh, this bloggers cranking out three recipes a week or fill in the blank with that. And when I am able to kind of look away from that and put my blinders on. I can just do my own thing. Like okay, this is my story right now. That’s my season. But when I do get caught up in comparison, occasionally when I do, that’s when I have a harder time. 

Megan Porta  28:06

Yes so true. I actually didn’t think about that. But that’s a huge factor, especially with like Instagram, even though things are supposed to look more realistic now, like more authentic. And that’s what everybody wants. I think, yeah, I do the same thing where I see another blogger is writing a cookbook or doing all these things or has all these posts that they’re getting out with a baby. And I’m like, how how are you doing that? But I do think just yeah, turning it off getting away from it. I heard another blogger say she never scrolled on Instagram. And I was like that, that’s actually really smart. Like, just not even looking at it just putting boundaries for yourself so that you don’t fall into those temptations. And this mindset, I think it’s really wise.

Megan Porta  28:56

Yeah, it’s hard, though. I think it requires like really solid self discipline and just kind of being strict with yourself. I had to do that a few times. Like, no, you cannot like stop scrolling, stop looking at other people’s stuff. And that takes a lot of willpower, I think but if you do it, it really does. It’s so beneficial. 

Christine McMichael  29:20

Especially, when you when you’re posting every day you’re coming to the apps every day, of course you’re gonna see something but I think also when I shifted to like, I’m just gonna focus on my creative process and how I want my business to look and be that helps me to not focus on those things as much. So I think like shifting your focus could help as well.

Megan Porta  29:46

Yeah, a lot goes into this. I mean, it’s not a simple equation like okay, you need to do this and then feel like this and think this and then you’ll be good if this ever shifting thing that you need to figure out and like we’ve said, Every journey is different. Every puzzle that needs to be put together, every family is going to be different. So just kind of, I don’t know, like figuring it out as you go really? 

Christine McMichael  30:11

Right. Yeah. 

Megan Porta  30:12

But just I think the main thing that we’ve both touched on is grace. Yeah, to have grace with whatever presents in your journey and to just keep being flexible.

Christine McMichael  30:24

Right, yeah, I’m such an I’m like an all or nothing person. And so it’s really hard. Flexibility is so hard for me because I think like, this is how things are now this is how they will be forever. And I think having thinking in season might be a healthier way to navigate this. Because as our kids grow up, we go through so many different seasons, and different schedules, you know, summertime, early ending of school, like kids are home, but I think it helps to think through okay, like we have summer season coming up, we’re going to knock out some work beforehand to prepare ourselves for that time. That definitely helped me.

Megan Porta  31:06

Yeah, this is an important conversation. Thank you so much for bringing it to the table. Christine. I really appreciate your just words of wisdom and insights, and also really sorry that you had to experience that nasty burnout. I hope nobody else listening has experienced it, but probably a few have, unfortunately. So yeah, just thank you for being vulnerable and sharing about that. 

Christine McMichael  31:29

Of course. Thank you for having me.

Megan Porta  31:31

Yeah. Such a pleasure to connect with you. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with?

Christine McMichael  31:38

Yes. Okay. So I heard this recently. And I thought it was so good. It’s from Oprah, the one and only, she said, “You get in life, what you have the courage to ask for. And that’s been big for me lately, just sometimes we’re afraid to ask, or we think like, I’m not quite there where that person is yet. So I can’t ask for those things. But you’d be surprised when you just jump in and ask.”

Megan Porta  32:03

Yeah, it’s true. It’s as simple as that, right? 

Christine McMichael  32:06


Megan Porta  32:07

We’ll put together a show notes page for you, Christine. If anyone wants to go peek at those you can head to Tell everyone where they can find you.

Christine McMichael  32:19

So my website is And then you can find me on Instagram @jar.of.lemons. And then everywhere else is just jaroflemons.

Megan Porta  32:30

Amazing. Everyone go check out Christine’s content. And thank you again, Christine, for being here. And thank you so much for listening food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode. 

Outro  32:43

Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Please share this episode with a friend who would benefit from tuning in. I will see you next time.

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