Press "Enter" to skip to content

Episode 132: Starting A YouTube Channel Over 40 with Jennifer Lefforge

Blog Title: Jen Lefforge

Social Media:

Jen Lefforge on Instagram

Jen Lefforge on Facebook

About Jen:

Jen is a wife, a mom of college aged kids, and a full time YouTube Creator! On her two channels, Jen Lefforge and Joyful Living with Jen Lefforge, she talks about life, Disney, organization, running, fitness and all things being 50 and fabulous!

Takeaways From Episode 132:

Fun fact: Jen was actually a professional singer for a lot of years. She has a community theater background the entire time she was growing up and toured with a group for a while. And then she was in a garage band for about ten years.

Jen has been blogging for twelve years.

Jen switched careers her stress was through the roof. So took what she refers to as a gap year to travel and figure out what she wanted to do.

A friend recommended that Jen document her trip and create videos for YouTube. Jen thought, why not? She acknowledges she knew nothing about how to do it before she chose this path.

“I think especially women, when we get to a certain stage of our life, we spent so much time working and raising our kids and barely even having time to, you know, take care of our biological needs, let alone, you know, try to take a 5,000 foot view of what do I really want to do in my life. You know, you just don’t have time. So allowing myself truly 12 months to evaluate and say, okay, what do I want to be when I grow up? That gave me clarity, absolutely.”

“And the fact that I did combine my passion project with how I made my living, is such an amazing blessing.”

(Jen traveling for 12 months) “really gave me space to have clarity about the direction that I wanted to go. And I am so grateful for it. Had I not done that? I’m not sure I ever would have had the courage to strike out and do what I’ve been able to do.”

Jen was initially working 50-60 hours a week on these projects.

It was Jen’s husband that reminded her that all small businesses work hard up front to be able to get up and running but that it would pay off.

YouTube is a very slow growing medium and it takes consistency and it takes dedication. And I think anyone who doesn’t want to devote at least a year to it, may want to consider not doing it unless of course they’re doing it just to augment what they’re doing on their blog.

If you really hope to create a following on YouTube, you really need to be willing to vote devote at least a year before you even know if you have the potential to be successful.

YouTube is the second largest search engine outside of Google.

YouTube is the encyclopedia Brittanica of this generation.

There’s plenty of room for new creators (on YouTube).

YouTube used to promote videos that were 10-15 minutes but now are giving space and time to 3 minute videos.

Your videos should be as long as it takes for you to effectively and clearly communicate your message. So that should be your focus rather than a time.

All roads lead to YouTube.

You should be posting minimum of once a week but more if you want to see growth, as long as its quality content.

Jen was shocked to find how many of her subscribers in her circle are in their 20’s and 30’s.

The suicide rate in 45 to 55 year old female demographic has gone up faster than the suicide rate across any other age group. So Jen’s passion from the start was to inspire these women.

Jen said a lofty goal is to help women not give up, because women that get into their forties and fifties and they feel like the best years of their life, they’re behind them. They’ve raised their families. They’ve had the bulk of their careers and nothing could be further from the truth.

It’s knowing that every day when I get up and do my job, I could be inspiring another woman to follow her dream, no matter what that is, that gets me really motivated and gets me out of bed every day.

We all need to be keeping our minds busy and we need to have purpose.

So there’s a Chinese proverb that says, if you don’t want to worry about aging, break your mirror. Jen says, throw away your mirror or break your mirror because we tend to look at ourselves on the outside and it doesn’t line up with the inside because we’re still excited and enthusiastic and we still have things we want to do. Focus on the inside.

SEO on YouTube is much different than other platforms so do your homework on that.

Be sure to work on developing a presentation style to be successful on YouTube. Your first 5 videos posted might be cringe-worthy, but you did it. Then build on your style from there.

Everyone of us started with one subscriber.

Moderate your comments on YouTube carefully. Bad comments aren’t necessarily bad though, a healthy discussion is good for you and your algorithm. But mean or abusive comments should be deleted and not tolerated.

You can set up blocked words in advance in your settings to avoid some types of robots and rudeness that’s unnecessary.

Develop a thick skin and remember, you don’t always want all kinds of subscribers.

Transcript of Episode 132

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. And 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 Porta:

Food bloggers. Hey, if you have not yet joined the new, amazing Eat Blog Talk community, you have to go do it. You will find so much value inside, including connecting with other food bloggers in a much deeper way and having access to all kinds of exclusive value, such as bonus podcast episodes and mastermind groups, and a Resources and Service Providers Directory, and so much more. Go to Eatblogtalk.com for more information, and we cannot wait to see you inside. Okay, food bloggers, have you heard of Flo Desk, the new big email marketing rage. This is an amazing new option for managing your email subscriber list. It is super easy to use and it comes with gorgeous, intuitive drag and drop templates. And Flo Desk does not charge based on number of subscribers. So your monthly rate will stay the same from month to month. Everyone pays $38 a month or use my affiliate link to get 50% off and pay only $19 a month. You guys, this is a fraction of the price of other email service providers, and you’ll be blown away by the beautiful and intuitive templates waiting for you inside. Visit Eatblogtalk.com/resources to grab your link. Flo Desk, the stunning new option for email marketing. What’s up food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk. The podcast made for you, food bloggers, seeking value for your businesses and for your lives. Today, I will be having a chat with Jen Lefforge from Jenlefforge.com. And we are going to talk about starting a YouTube channel over 40. Jen is a wife, a mom of college aged kids, and a full time YouTube creator. On her two channels, Jen Lefforge, and Joyful Living with Jen Lefforge, she talks about life, Disney organization, running, fitness and all things being 50 and fabulous. Jen, I am super excited to chat with you today, but first give us a fun fact about yourself.

Jen Lefforge:

Oh my goodness. Megan. Okay. So, um, fun fact about me is that I was actually a professional singer for a lot of years. I have a community theater background the entire time I was growing up and I toured with a group for a while. And then I was in a garage band for about ten years.

Megan Porta:

Whoa!

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah, that’s, that’s my fun facts. So if I burst into song during the interview, don’t be surprised. That’s kind of part of my schtick.

Megan Porta:

A garage band! How did you get involved with that?

Jen Lefforge:

So my next door neighbor, when we first moved in, uh, I went over to take them some mail and I noticed he had some, this was years after I had stopped being a professional singer. I was raising my boys and I noticed he had all this band equipment and I asked and believe it or not, he said, I actually have a band that does weddings and bar mitzvahs and church picnics. And we’re looking for a singer. Would you care to audition?

Megan Porta:

No way!

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah, so I did that. We were called the Midnight Shift and um, yeah, about 10 years, almost every weekend, we were busy doing different gigs all around the Dallas metroplex. So it was a lot of fun.

Megan Porta:

And you would just have such an array of interests, reading through your bio, all of these different things that you like to talk about. So adding singer to that list is so fun. I am not a singer, so I always really appreciate people who can sing well, so, good for you. That’s amazing. I love that fun fact.

Jen Lefforge:

Thank you! Me too.

Megan Porta:

Yes. Well, let’s talk about YouTube because it is a really big deal for food bloggers and it’s becoming more and more so, but it can be a really daunting part of the business for a handful of reasons. I think the main one being, you know, just that whole thing of like showing your face to people. A lot of people are not comfortable with that. And it’s really a hard thing to dive into when you’re not used to it. And I especially think it’s daunting for people over the age of 40, because a lot of us feel like we can’t compete with the women, especially of like the twenties and thirties, who are really youthful and they’re energetic and they just look so young. So I think the fact that you have grown your YouTube channel, your channels, both of them very quickly, is inspiring for me personally because I, to am in the 40 plus club. And I feel that inner voice occasionally telling me that I’m too old to do certain things. So this is just like a really big topic for me as a food blogger, as a woman over 40. And I know that there are a lot of other women in that same boat who are listening. So this is just an awesome one to cover. So let’s back up first though, because I would love to just hear you talk through your personal story with your YouTube channels and how you got started with those.

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah, absolutely. So I, I’ve actually been a blogger for over 10 years. Um, I think it might actually be going on 12 years, which is crazy. But, um, when I left my last job, which was two and a half years ago, I wasn’t, I was a little lost. I had, uh, transferred careers and I had switched to a different career. My stress level was through the roof. My boys were seniors in high school and I just felt like I needed to take a break. So I took a one year what I like to call a grownup gap year, where I just sort of decided I was going to travel. Uh, we had some savings that we could rely on and Scott and I talked about it and I was just going to see what happened. And a good friend of mine suggested that in addition to the blog, which I had expected to keep up, that I should add video and that I would do really well on YouTube. Now, keep in mind. I knew absolutely nothing about YouTube. I had never edited a movie, an imovie, I did have a bit of an editing and production background, but from the producer standpoint, from an old job that I had, that I had never done any of the filming or editing or any of that myself. So I thought, well, you know what, let’s start this for fun. And then see if it’s something that I could do with in addition to the blog and maybe even turn into a business at some point. And things just really took off. Um, I was really shocked with the response I received. Things grew very quickly. I was able to be monetized and now I have just over 20,000 subscribers between the two channels. And I’m able to actually make my living as a YouTube creator, which completely blows my mind.

Megan Porta:

That’s amazing. So, first of all, I love that you took an adult gap year. I think that is such a smart thing to do and adults, you know, past the age of 20, typically don’t think to do something like that because we feel like we shouldn’t, or we can’t, we’re we’re adult, we need to work now. But what a smart thing for you to just step back and say, you know what, I need a break and to take a year to travel and just kind of unwind and take care of yourself a little bit after your stressful previous job. I love that you did that. So do you think that gap year really gave you clarity about moving forward into a really new venture?

Jen Lefforge:

Yes, absolutely. No question. I think especially women, when we get to a certain stage of our life, we spent so much time working and raising our kids and barely even having time to, you know, take care of our biological needs, let alone, you know, try to take a 5,000 foot view of what do I really want to do in my life. You know, you just don’t have time. So allowing myself truly 12 months to evaluate and say, okay, what do I want to be when I grow up? Which is a question I think, especially now, we are productive well into our eighties, if we’re lucky. And so our children leave the home and we really have to be looking at, what’s going to be my passion project. And the fact that I did combine my passion project with how I made my living, uh, is such an amazing blessing. And it really gave me space to have clarity about the direction that I wanted to go. And I am so grateful for it. Had I not done that? I’m not sure I ever would have had the courage to strike out and do what I’ve been able to do.

Megan Porta:

That’s really inspiring. I think like even a year ago, if somebody would have asked me for like, what is my best business advice, I would have said something entirely different than what I would say now, because now I would say, take a break when you need it until you have clarity about how to move forward. Because I’ve taken those breaks in the past year. And it has been transformative in the way that I have seen my business and the clarity that I’ve had in order to move forward in a new way. So I think with age and maturity, you kind of see the need for those things. Whereas like when I was younger, I never would have taken a break like that, but that’s, that’s great. So inspiring. And you grow your YouTube channels really fast. So two years, you have two channels and 20,000 subscribers, but you really did focus pretty much full time on your YouTube channels, right? I mean, you had a blog too, but how much time did you dedicate to those?

Jen Lefforge:

Oh gosh, I would say in the beginning and, and this kind of speaks to any business that you start, you work for free for a long time before you make any money. And it can be very discouraging if you’re not realistic. So I would say at the in the beginning, now keep in mind I was traveling while I was doing this because that’s part of what I was doing, was documenting my travels. Uh, but I would say on a week that I wasn’t traveling, I was probably devoting 50 to 60 hours a week, between editing and just the learning curve because I had all these new skills. And anytime you’re doing something for the first time, I mean, it used to take me five to six hours from the time I had a video kind of in, you know, filmed to editing and posting and metadata and all of that. Now I can do that in 30 minutes, but that first, probably, oh, I don’t know, Megan, maybe six months, the time commitment was ridiculous. And there were so many days where I was like, I better not figure out what I’m getting paid hourly to do this. And my husband was really good. He kept reminding me, this is what every small business goes through. You have to invest in the beginning and you’ll reap those dividends later on down the road. And that has 100% rang true for me. But you have to have that patience with yourself and with how long it really does take. YouTube is a very slow growing medium. And yes, I have grown fast by some standards, but you know, people who think they’re going to get into YouTube and they’re going to be monetized in 30 days, I suppose that does happen. But for the most part, it’s kind of a long, um, really has to be a labor of love because it does not happen overnight.

Megan Porta:

That’s a great point. And that falls on ears that are like, definitely understanding what you’re saying, because food bloggers know that for us, it’s a really long game. It’s not a sprint. You cannot get into this field and expect to just kill it right away, because it just doesn’t happen like that. And YouTube is the same as there’s no exception there. So why do you think that now is a really great time for people to start a YouTube channel?

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah. So YouTube, as we know is the second largest search engine outside of Google. And as opposed to in the beginning, YouTube was a very different animal. Now YouTube is where people go to learn. Um, my husband for example, is remodeling our guest bathroom. And guess where he learned how to do the electrical wiring to install the new light and how to do the lightswitch and how to install a new faucet. All of it was from YouTube videos. So it has definitely shifted into becoming, I don’t know if I’m dating myself, but remember when we used to have the encyclopedia Britannica at our house.

Megan Porta:

Oh yes.

Jen Lefforge:

You wanted to learn something. Now this is for your younger listeners. This is going to be a big revelation. We actually went and looked it up in the encyclopedia and that was how we learned. Or we went to the library. Now everybody goes to YouTube. So, uh, the, especially for food bloggers, right? You’re teaching people how to do something that they don’t know how to do. And we all learn best visually for the most part. So seeing an actual video of how to make the food, in my case, you know, seeing an actual video, whether it be for organization or Disney or whatever it is, um, people are looking for that information. And honestly, people will tell me all the time well, don’t you think there’s enough people on YouTube that cover whatever the topic is? But you’ve never done it. And so there’s only one, Megan, they can go on YouTube. And people resonate with different personalities. So if it’s something that you feel might amplify your voice, it is a fantastic time to do it. And there is still plenty of room for new creators.

Megan Porta:

There is room for everyone. And I know like we hear that all the time. People say that all the time, but it really like let that sink in because it is true. It’s not just something that people say to sugarcoat things like there truly is room for everyone. Yes. YouTube is completely saturated with information, but yeah. Are you teaching it there? I know it took me a really long time to learn that or to really hear it, I think. Then you start to move forward and you start to put your content out in a new way. And like, yes, my voice needs to be heard. I wanted to ask you, like, just talking to food bloggers specifically. Do you have recommendations as far as, I don’t know. I mean, anything you have as far as like topics to cover, obviously we have recipes that we talk people through, but anything else, like length of videos, what’s popular right now, quantity of videos. How many should we be doing a week? Any of that information that you have to offer?

Jen Lefforge:

First of all, whatever I say today, by the time this podcast goes up, may have, because every time I feel like I understand the YouTube algorithm, they change the game on me. So, um, interestingly YouTube is just now starting to promote a whole bunch of videos that are under three minutes. For the longest time, the rule of thumb was, you know, 10 to 15 minutes, longer is better. All of those things. Um, but they’ve just recently started a feature where they actually have an area of YouTube, that features three minutes and less. Now, I’m assuming they’re doing this in response to Tik Tok and, you know, Instagram reels and all of these other things. Uh, but I absolutely think a good, this is what I’ve decided to start saying, because I get asked this question all the time. People always say, how long should my videos be? And my answer is your videos should be as long as it takes for you to effectively and clearly communicate your message. So if that means that the best way for you to effectively and communicate, and I’ll use an example of one of your videos, Megan, how to make goulash, is to do that in a 55 second video. That is what you should put up on YouTube. If you can effectively tell the story of your trip to Paris and that takes you 30 minutes, but it’s a good quality entertaining video. Your video should be 30 minutes. I think it’s very individual because if you look at a creator like Tabitha Brown, which I’m assuming that a lot of your listeners know who Tabitha Brown is, maybe not, but she’s just recently, um, through Tic Tok moved over to YouTube and many of her videos are under three minutes and she’s killing it. Um, so I don’t ever like to start there. I always feel like, communicate your message clearly and to the best of your ability, and then let the rest kind of reveal itself to you.

Megan Porta:

It’s like a one of those things where you don’t really know how long it’s going to take you to effectively communicate something until you just dive into it. You can’t say like, my video is going to be three minutes. You have to just let it kind of unfold naturally. Don’t you think?

Jen Lefforge:

I completely agree. I, and you know, everyone has their own different approach. Um, I’m a storyteller. And so if I can tell my story in five minutes, then I’m going to tell it in five and it takes me 30 and I’m going to do it in 30. And it doesn’t, um, people care more that you’re holding their attention. And I think for every creator, you really have to dig deep and figure out, you know, what does that look like for you? And you also have to figure out your why, because sometimes bloggers are moving over to YouTube to support their blog. That makes all the sense in the world. But if your why is to build a monetized YouTube channel, obviously your approach is going to be somewhat different. My whole, why is always, I always say all roads lead to YouTube. So I’m posting on Pinterest and my blog and Instagram and Twitter to get everyone to YouTube. But for a blogger, it may just be something that enhances the work they’re doing on these other platforms. So length really depends on what your goals are, what your purposes are and what, how long does it take you to tell an effective story,

Megan Porta:

You used the word enhancing. And I think that is what most of us food bloggers are doing. I mean, some are doing YouTube as a fulltime thing like you are, but most of us are just using it as kind of like an enhancement or a supplement to our blogs, because that is typically the main focus. I love that you pointed that out too. What are your recommendations as far as like how many videos or does it depend on what niche you’re in or what do you think?

Jen Lefforge:

So if you’re trying to build a following on YouTube, um, and, and I think, um, you have a very savvy audience, so they probably know that you need a thousand subscribers and 4,000 hours of watch time in order to get monetized. And that may not even be their goal, but if that is your goal, and you’re trying to build a channel once a week is the absolute minimum. Um, twice a week is actually preferable, but there’s also a tipping point because sometimes you can post too many times a week and then you, actually it’s that diminishing returns. You, you don’t get as many views. Maybe you don’t have as much time to put into the videos because you’re just focusing on pushing out content. So obviously quality still has to be the most important thing. So if you can only effectively do two videos a month and give them the amount of time and intentionality that you want to put into them, so that it’s a quality product, then two videos a month is how many you need to be doing. Um, ideally once a week. But I would never tell someone, put a video up twice a week, even if it’s not very good, so that you can grow your channel because that won’t work. You know, you need to be putting out quality content. And, um, but a general rule of thumb for growth is going to be a minimum of once a week.

Megan Porta:

What are your recommendations as far as other topics that food bloggers could cover? I mean, there are like instructional videos for cooking and baking. They’re obviously like the kind that I do or that are just more like step-by-step recipes. There’s like in face instruction about how to create a recipe. Do you have any other ideas that you’ve seen that are really popular right now?

Jen Lefforge:

Um, I definitely am. You know, Google is your friend in this department and we all know the trick of just go to Google and put in what you’re going to talk about and see what fills in. But what I’m seeing is there is such a pull in our current, um, what I call “the great unpleasantness”, towards, um, home. And I think that food bloggers who lean into that, are what I’m watching, even though I am, you know, I can only speak to personal experience, but if you want to have a secret shopper with you right now, here today on your podcast, if, if I’m looking to create more of a safe place for my family, which is ultimately what we’re all trying to do right now, I’m looking for recipes, but I’m also looking for overall home topics and warmth and things along those lines. Um, and kind of speaking back to something you said earlier about, you know, the 20 and 30 somethings, feeling like they’re dominating a lot of these spaces. I’m finding, and it’s been so inspiring, Megan, but I’m finding such a draw of 20 and 30 year olds that are coming to my channel because they need comfort too. And they want to watch someone who’s been doing this for awhile. They don’t want to watch a 20 year old organize her closet because there’s a million options for that. They want someone that’s a little bit further ahead on the path than they are that will bring them a sense of stability and experience and wisdom. And I have been shocked at how many of my subscribers and, you know, people that really I would consider in my inner circle, are actually in their twenties and thirties. I did not expect that to be the case, but they are looking for inspiration from an older generation.

Megan Porta:

Wow. That is crazy. And I guess I had never put real thought to that, but that makes total sense in the climate that we are in right now. Like people, yes, they want inspiration and they want all those same things that they’ve always wanted. But now they also, in addition to that, want safety and security and wisdom and maturity, and I love that your channel is offering that to people. That’s kind of cool, right?

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah. Yeah. It is. It, you know, especially as a mom of college aged kids, I’m always shocked how many times my son’s friends will tell me how much they love my child. And, you know, these are kids that are anywhere from 19 to 25 years old and they consider themselves full on subscribers and followers of the work that I do. And I always think about that when I’m making videos, because sure. Yes, I am talking to women that are in the same stage of life as I am, but I’m also talking to a 20 year old kid in a dorm room. That’s feeling very insecure right now and missing home. And he can watch a video of mine and feel like, Oh, my mom did it that way. Or I always wanted to make that or do that the way that my mom did it. And especially how my Disney channel, there is a whole group of twenties and 30 somethings that call me their Disney mom. And I am so happy to step into that space and feel like they really do come to me. I mean, they DM me for advice and all of those kinds of things, and I’m honored that they do so. So don’t think that the demographic you’re speaking to is just the demographic that you’re in. You probably have a voice that can be amplified across many different age groups.

Megan Porta:

That’s so cool. Okay. So that puts a different spin on the way that you create too, because if you have that in mind, before you even dive into a video, it just gives you a different frame, I think, knowing that you’re going to be reaching so many different audiences. And the fact that you’re reaching, uh, young men ages 19 to 25, that is so cool that they respect you and they respect your work and see you as an authority figure in your areas. So I love that. So let’s talk about that a little bit more because I do love the fact that you embraced that you were over 40, you’re killing your goals. You dove in, you just, you know, tackle this YouTube project and you figured it out and you’re doing amazing. You’re doing it full time. That is so inspiring to me. So talk to us about why the rest of us 40 plus’ers embrace should embrace our age. As we forge ahead into a new venture, such as YouTube. We have talked about it a little bit, like reaching those new people, but what else do you have for us?

Jen Lefforge:

Well, you know, one of my big inspirations, um, and actually this is the thing that has, was my goal from the very beginning. Um, and it had nothing to do with business. It had to do with who I wanted to inspire. Um, actually the suicide rate in that demographic in, uh, from 45 to 55 year old women has gone up faster than the suicide rate across any other age group. And when I first read that statistic, it was extremely grounding for me because I thought, what is going on? What are we missing? And I was very inspired by the fact that I think what we’ve done is we’ve all focused on work and children so much that we get to a certain age and we’re just lost because we’ve devoted everything to our families and our careers. At the same time, we kind of stick our head up and we go, wait a minute, what did I do all that for? And we lose ourselves in the process. So I think in particular, when women in their forties and fifties can do new things, whether that’s YouTube or starting a blog or running a marathon or any new thing that they’re doing, they are inspiring other women to go, not only is your life not been wasted, not only is your life, no longer have meaning, but you’re just beginning the best parts of your life. And we need to see women doing those things. And we need to see that more represented in all different forms of media. So that’s kind of a huge lofty goal of mine is to help women not give up, because I know we’ve all known women that get into their forties and fifties and they feel like the best years of their life, they’re behind them. You know, they’ve raised their families. They’ve had the bulk of their careers and nothing could be further from the truth. So, you know, not to be too, I don’t want to, you know, get preachy about the whole thing cause I was pastor for 10 years. So, um, but I do feel that it’s, it’s really speaks to our soul, Megan and, and I think we need to never underestimate the power of putting ourselves out there, no matter what it is that we’re talking about as women that are really in our most productive parts of our lives. So I think it’s far more inspiring than people understand.

Megan Porta:

You said the most productive time of our lives. I have found that. So I’m 45 and I’ve found that when I hit 40, I became much more productive, I think because I slowed down a little bit. And also because I too, like you, I just wanted to put myself out there to hopefully inspire people and you just never know who you’re reaching. And I always think of that. Like I like to try to be a light and try to be as positive and good and kind as I can be, invaluable and all of that, and just hope and pray that I am somehow inspiring someone somewhere, even if they never tell me, just hoping that women, like you, believe to, feel empowered and inspired to move forward into this phase, because it can be hard. You spend so much of your time, especially if you’re a mom raising kids and day in day out doing the grind, getting up early, you’re exhausted. You’re basically not caring for yourself at all for many years. And then you get to a point where your kids are older and more self sufficient. And you’re like, wait, what, like, what do I do now? So diving into a project and like really finding fulfillment in some area is so important.

Jen Lefforge:

Well, and if you’re not going to do it now, when are you going to do it? And I think that’s the message I’m always trying to give to women. If you have a dream, I always dreamed of being an actor when I was young. And I thought, well, I’m never going to be able to do that. Well, really Megan, for all intents and purposes, I am an entertainer. That is what I do. So I am getting paid to fulfill, you know, to do that dream that I always had. So no matter what it is, that thing that you always dream to doing, now is the time because we don’t want to wait until, you know, I mean, who knows how long before we start to decide, maybe we don’t want to do as much, or maybe we don’t want to put as much time and energy into something because we are going to age. So now is the time to grab those passion projects and make it happen. And I don’t know, it’s just, it’s, it’s honest to goodness, as much as I love this as a career and as much as I love my business, it’s knowing that every day when I get up and do my job, I could be inspiring another woman to follow her dream, no matter what that is, that gets me really motivated and gets me out of bed every day.

Megan Porta:

Don’t you think that having those passion projects like you call it, keeps us younger. It keeps us mentally young. I found that I feel like if I did not have my blog and all of the stuff that I think about all day long, that is like, really I am passionate about, I feel like I would have just aged mentally so much more.

Jen Lefforge:

Yes. I totally agree. We all need to be keeping our minds busy and we need to have purpose. And you know, I’m learning French right now, too. In addition to everything. I’m doing Duolingo, which I’m loving, I was terrible at French in high school. And I was like, okay, I need to master this before I go to Paris next time. So see a little bit of hope mixed in there. Like I will be going to Paris again eventually. But, um, and last time I was there, I got horribly lost because of my problem with the language. But that’s a story (muffled) I was by myself too. So that was good time. But, um, you know, I think that you start to realize that it’s not compartmentalized, right? It’s not family and work. And then my personal life, that really our entire lives, are, our passion project. And you start to realize, this is my story. I’m living it. I’m not waiting for it to begin. This is the legacy that I’m leaving. And I want that to be something that I’m really, really proud of. And so that was why when I left my last job and I knew that that wasn’t going to be the answer for me. We all deserve to go on that quest and to get to that point. So yeah, it definitely keeps us younger. I feel younger now than I did when I had three kids under four. For sure.

Megan Porta:

Oh wow. Isn’t that great love hearing that because you will see all the time. You’ll see people who are like 60 and they look and act like they’re 90. And then my dad, he’s 84 and he acts like he’s 60. So I just love it when people act and feel and look so much younger than they are just because they are loving life and enjoying every day in everything that they put their heart into.

Jen Lefforge:

So there’s a Chinese proverb. I think it’s Chinese, that says, if you don’t want to worry about aging, break your mirror. And I love that because it’s either throw away your mirror or break your mirror because it’s, we, we tend to look at ourselves on the outside and it doesn’t line up with the inside because we’re still excited and enthusiastic and we still have things we want to do. And so I just kind of tend to not think about it. I mean, I just turned 50, so that was a big birthday for me. And you can really let that define you as feeling like it’s older, or you can look at it and go, but look at all the life I’ve lived and all that I’ve accomplished and all that I still have to learn and live and accomplish. So yeah, I’m finding it to be honestly the best time of my life.

Megan Porta:

Oh, I love that so much. So my whole entire life I’ve looked a lot younger than I am. I mean, starting when I was a kid, people used to think when I was like 17, that I was 11. And then when I was 25, they thought I was 12 and 30. They were like, Oh, you’re maybe 18. I remember walking through the airport with my boys when they were like, I don’t know, maybe um four and seven or something like that. And we were going through security and the security guy, our guard turned around and looked at us and he was like, where are your parents? And I was like, Oh, he’s talking to me. And he thought that I was like their older sister and I was well into my, probably late thirties. So I was like, um, I’m their mother. And so I’ve dealt with this my whole life. So, I mean, it’s been kind of hard like, ugh, why can’t people think that I’m older than I am. It’s been really a frustration point for me. But once I hit 40, I kind of embraced that thing. I love surprising people because I do act young too. And I just love life. I love enjoying simple pleasures. I’ll get on the swings with my boys at the park and things like that. But it’s good, I think to act young and now I embrace looking young too.

Jen Lefforge:

That is great. That is great. You live with that as long. I mean, I think if we could just kind of get over whatever’s on the outside and focus on what’s on the inside with people. And we could say that about a lot of different things. We’d be a lot better off anyway,

Megan Porta:

My boys are always like, mom, you look like you’re 20. Aww, thanks guys. You’re the best. They know what to say to me.

Jen Lefforge:

My boys never say that to me.

Megan Porta:

Oh my gosh. I love talking about that. Thank you for sharing all of that about just being over 40 and embracing yourself and your goals and living life. That’s a huge inspiration to me. And I know that there are plenty of food bloggers listening, who will find that really inspiring as well. And I wondering where you live, do you live in Georgia?

Jen Lefforge:

Yes. We’re just North of Atlanta.

Megan Porta:

That is too bad because I’m really far away. I feel like I should hang out with you, but Minneapolis is a long way from Georgia.

Jen Lefforge:

It really is, but that’s okay because of technology, we can feel like we’re in the same neighborhood.

Megan Porta:

That’s right. So what tips do you have Jen, for just kind of overall YouTube success. Do you have any of those little nuggets to share with us?

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah, I would definitely say do your homework. It, it is a complicated algorithm. And as I said earlier, it is always changing, but I would say number one, don’t go out and spend a ton of money. Uh, as long as your audience can hear you and see you, you’re good. So you can really make wonderful videos. And I think that your listeners know this, you know, using your phone, you can buy very inexpensive microphones that are plugged, you know, lapel mic that’ll plug in directly to your iPhone really easily. Um, I wouldn’t go out and spend a ton of money for the purposes of your YouTube channel. Um, I would, however, spend a lot of time learning about things like how to make an effective thumbnail, how to do SEO that is specific to YouTube, which is different than a blog. They may want to consider an extension like Two Buddy. There’s a couple of other different ones. That’s a plugin that kind of is the, is the, you know, I it’s, um, what do they call it when you’re you bowl with your kids and you put the bumpers up on either side, it kind of allows you to have some safety nets. And so it will remind you of best practices and talk you through things. Um, those extensions will also do things like offer, uh, tags suggestions, topic suggestions, all of that. And I found, especially in the beginning, that was enormously helpful for me. Um, and then I would just say really work on your presentation style. And at some point you have to start making videos. I think there’s so much fear that you don’t learn until you actually start doing it. And your first few videos are like the first waffle, right? It’s not going to be good. You just have to accept that you have to get your first, I always say your first five videos. You have to get them out of the way because you build up so much fear and anxiety about it and, and yes, they are cringe-worthy and you can go back and watch my first five videos, if that will make you feel better because they’re cringe worthy for everybody. But there is something to be said about actually doing it. And that is really how you learn.

Megan Porta:

Uh, you mentioned my goulash video earlier and I cringed a little bit because that was one of the first videos that I ever did. So I was like, Oh no, she saw that video.

Jen Lefforge:

But Megan, it’s got 75,000 views, girlfriend.

Megan Porta:

I know, exactly. There’s those little gems that slipped through like that one and a handful of other ones that I started with, are doing amazingly on YouTube, mostly because probably they’ve been there forever, but like, Hey, something about that people are liking. And so I’ve just left them up, cuz I figure, why not.

Jen Lefforge:

You know what, it’s all part of your story and you did the best you could with what you had at the time. And I think that’s really the message for everybody, is, is you’re learning and you’re doing the best you can. You are not, you know, NBC and you have a camera crew and it’s actually been really good for us. I think to see some of these professionals that are trying to do a video production from their own homes, uh, you know, by themselves without a crew and without makeup and all of that. And they’re not good.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. It’s good for us to see that because we, we really do put ourselves out there and we learn a lot really quickly. We learn how to do the audio and the, uh, the video editing and the recording and the present. Like you mentioned, the presentation, like making a good presentation yourself, and there is a lot that goes into it. So give yourself some credit. And like you said, Jen, you do just have to start, knowing that your first handful of videos are probably going to be, you know, embarrassing in the future, but that’s okay. That’s like, that’s part of your story. Just like we look back on our twenties and thirties and maybe some decisions that we’ve made or things that we didn’t do that we wish we would have done. And we cringe a little bit. It’s the same thing. Like you look back, it’s part of your history and you have to just embrace it.

Jen Lefforge:

Every one of us started with one subscriber. So remind yourself of that. Think of the biggest YouTuber in the world. They started with one subscriber and you just have to take it as it comes. And if this is the right path for you to go down, you’ll know and you’ll enjoy the process. And if it isn’t, you know, the good thing about YouTube is it doesn’t cost you anything to start. So you can just get out there and give it a try and see what happens. And you may find that audiences really resonate with you, and it will give you an entirely new platform and a whole new audience.

Megan Porta:

What are your thoughts about comments? Because I feel like commenters on YouTube are a little more harsh than any other platform. Do you find that too?

Jen Lefforge:

It depends. I feel very blessed in that I’ve curated a wonderful group of subscribers. And usually if there’s a negative comment, um, I have a few of them that I have marked as moderators, um, they’ll report it before I ever even see it, which, you know, that’s something I just am so grateful for every day. Uh, but you really have to remember that. Uh, just recently I had somebody go after me and it turned out he had like five different accounts. And so he was commenting from all different directions that I thought I was getting all this hate. And then I realized it was actually probably all coming from one person that had decided to target me. So I think just, don’t be afraid to curate your own timeline and your own comments. Um, I don’t ever leave a comment up that I wouldn’t want one of my subscribers to read. So, um, and I have a big disclaimer on the bottom of my description of every single video, that says while I don’t remember exactly the way it’s worded, by the way, y’all are welcome to copy and paste it. You can steal it directly from my YouTube videos, but it’s basically something along the lines of, although disagreement is or courteous disagreement is tolerated, comments that are made just to be divisive or hateful will be removed. And I just moderate very carefully. And I think anyone that gets on there for the wrong reason quickly learns that that’s not how we play on my channels. And I just delete the comments. You can also put in all kinds of blocked words, which I recommend you do before you ever put up a video. There’s a section in the advanced mode and put in everything from variations of your home address, to your children’s names, to your employer’s names, uh, because when people decide to go after you, they will be very ruthless at times. And that’s just from a matter of self protection. And that way, those comments will actually never even show up. I was actually doing a live stream once and someone posted my home address in the comment section of the livestream. And, you know, you’re, you’re, you can’t help but register fear because I was sitting in that home address when that popped up. And so, you know, a fellow YouTuber was like, Jen, you’re so silly. Why didn’t you put all variations of your home address as blocked words. That way no one could ever comment that. So some safety protocols like that, so that you have a lot less of that to deal with is always a good idea. But you’re always going to get negative comments. And I think, you know, we tend to dwell on the one negative, we’ve had a hundred fantastic comments. We have one person that says something about, you know, your appearance or whatever the case may be. You do have to develop a thick skin and remember that that’s not someone you want on your channel anyway. So delete the comment, bid them adieu, have another cup of coffee and move on with your day.

Megan Porta:

And unfortunately food bloggers are really well versed in this because we do get a lot of blog comments that are unsavory that we have to delete. So we do kind of know how that game goes. And it’s just unfortunate. Like, I don’t know. I always feel like we put so much time into producing such quality work that we really, really believe in and that our, the work is going to actually help people in some way and then to receive such hateful words. And sometimes people can just say the worst things that just triggers us, right? Like that goulash video that you talked about, that we’ve talked about a little bit, that video triggered the most hateful conversations on YouTube. And I was like, over a pasta dish, really? This is insane. But I had to delete a huge amount of comments on that thread. And it’s just like, it’s really frustrating, but yeah, you do have to develop that thick skin.

Jen Lefforge:

And I would say to be, um, be okay with controversy because obviously there’s a difference between, um, someone disagreeing and someone being abusive. Um, people getting into a fight in your comment section over something that is relatively healthy is really, really good for your channel.

Megan Porta:

Oh, there you go.

Jen Lefforge:

So as long, my kind of rule of thumb is as long as you’re not being abusive. Go ahead. You know, if you all want to get into an argument in my comments section, um, YouTube algorithm triggers that as activity. I mean, that may be why that video continues to do so well.

Megan Porta:

Oh my gosh, maybe that is it. That’s so funny. My husband always says this because I have a, again, pasta dish, Crock-Pot Mac and cheese recipe. So this was on my blog and people were like, commenting back and forth irate. Like people hated it or they loved it. And they were like, this is the worst thing ever. It was a bowl full of mush. And then someone else would say, I love this recipe. And so I let all those go and it created this like really good drama. Like people were like, Ooh, what’s this Mac and cheese recipe all about. So they would come over and contribute to the conversation. And my husband would just say, you’re creating good drama. Let it flow. Don’t delete it unless they’re like unsavory words or something crazy. But I did. I left all of that there.

Jen Lefforge:

I think good drama is like, I kind of want to rename my company now. Good drama, perfect word for it. I don’t know. Everybody has to navigate that for themselves as far as what they feel is appropriate. Um, like for instance, I always delete comments that are about my looks, good and bad. And my husband is like why do you delete those? I’m like because it’s just not what I want to curate. You know, that’s not the direction I want to go. Um, but everybody just gets it’s, it’s our playground, our rules. And if you heard that, then everything’s okay, because you’re the one that gets to decide. And, you know, I had someone accuse me of censoring once and I’m like, no, no, no, it’s not sensoring when it’s in my own playground. You know, I get to decide the environment that exists here. So just remember who’s the boss. And for me, that goes a long way to help me not be stressed out about it.

Megan Porta:

Do you have any other just kind of general YouTube tips for us before we start saying goodbye?

Jen Lefforge:

I would say, just be very, very patient. As I said earlier, YouTube is a very slow growing medium and it takes consistency and it takes dedication. And I think anyone who doesn’t want to devote at least a year to it, may want to consider not doing it unless of course they’re doing it just to augment what they’re doing on their blog. But if they really hope to create a following on YouTube, you really need to be willing to vote devote at least a year before you even know if you have the potential to be successful. And I know that that’s hard for a lot of people to hear because we want things to be quick. Um, but YouTube is just not that way. And then be very careful of anyone that promises to grow your YouTube channel. If you’ll just give them a hundred dollars or $200 or whatever the case may be. Um, just recently I’ve seen a huge uptick in that, and it does not work and they’re using a lot of techniques with bots and things like that. And you might see huge growth in the short term but that will not be sustainable growth. And it’s just not healthy for your channel.

Megan Porta:

That’s great to hear. And I have seen an increase, not just with YouTube, but in overall emails on that same band along that same vein. So I don’t know what’s going on with that, but like daily, I receive so many emails saying I can help you. And like, really? I don’t, I don’t trust you.

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah. And I do offer, I do YouTube consulting right now and the clients that I work with, I’m always like, whenever they call me the first time, I’m like, okay, so are you ready to work on this for a year? And you know, funny, some people, that’s the last phone call I have with them. But anyone that really knows what they’re doing. And I feel like this is totally true in the blogging world as well. Any coach or consultant that tells you, they, you know, we’ve all seen the grow 100,000 Instagram followers and, you know, two weeks or whatever, that’s not legit and it’s not what you want your business to be. So just, buyer beware and make sure you’re vetting anybody before you give them your hard earned money.

Megan Porta:

Hmm. That’s great advice. Thank you, Jen. This was such an amazing conversation, super inspiring for me personally. And I know it will be well received by everybody listening. You are encouraging. You’re just such an inspiration and I’m happy to know you. So thank you for being here today.

Jen Lefforge:

Thank you so much, Megan. I loved it. Thank you for inviting me.

Megan Porta:

Yeah. This was super fun. Before you go. I like to ask my guests if they have either a favorite quote to share or words of inspiration for food bloggers.

Jen Lefforge:

Yeah. So, um, this quote is so overused, but it is my favorite and I have it all over my office and that is Walt Disney. And it was also said in the movie Meet The Robinsons, which is one of my favorites. And it’s “keep moving forward”. And the quote Walt says in relation to projects that fail and things that don’t work out the way that he wanted them to. They’re not always going to work out the way you want them to, but just getting up and being resilient. And when you keep moving forward, you do find your path and you will absolutely find success.

Megan Porta:

I love that. Thank you so much for sharing that. We will put together a show notes page for you Jen. Just listing everything that we’ve talked about today. I wrote down about five or six quotes of yours that I just absolutely love. So you’ll probably see those floating around social media when your when your episode is released. So if you want to see Jen’s show notes, you can find those at Eatblogtalk.com/jenleffforge. And that is spelled L E F F O R G E. Jen. Tell my listeners the best place they can find you on.

Jen Lefforge:

Like I am literally Jen Lefforge on everything. So you can just put in. You know, I’m very lucky that I have a name that I’m the only one. So you can put in Jen Lefforge, you can find me on my blog that way. You can find me on YouTube that way. Two channels, Jen Lefforge, and then my lifestyle channel is Joyful Living with Jen Lefforge. Instagram is Jen Lefforge. And then of course my blog is Jenlefforge.com.

Megan Porta:

Awesome. Well thank you again for being here, Jen, and thank you for listening today food bloggers. I will see you next.

Megan Porta:

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 Eat Blog Talk.com. If you feel that hunger for information will be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *