In episode 406, Megan chats to Liam Smith about how food bloggers can launch their own memberships to create a new revenue stream from existing content.
We cover information about how to create a new revenue stream with your current content, repurpose the existing content without worry of an algorithm change, figure out who the audience would be for this app, and be able to scale the growth and gain knowledge on how to package your membership content.
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Bio Liam has 10+ years of experience in tech, working with Fortune 500 companies and growing start-ups. Through a series of fortunate events, Liam was able to combine his passion for tech and desire to help people eat better to create MealPro App – a platform helping food bloggers to launch their own memberships with their existing recipe content.
- This app is completely white-labeled for your brand.
- Custom platform for food bloggers to share their content – a web app and a mobile app option.
- The platform helps to repurpose existing content and create a new revenue stream.
- Integrates with technical pieces already in place for bloggers.
- Able to engage with your audience in a new way.
- You can begin small and then scale it as you have time and a vision to grow organically.
- You can build up your own ecosystem with this platform for your audience and not lose it to an algorithm.
- Test the appetite for this service to your audience using your newsletter or on social media.
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EBT406 – Liam Smith
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve 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 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.
Is anyone up for creating a new revenue stream for their blogging business? Yes. Okay. You need to listen to this episode. I have Liam Smith with me. He is from Meal Pro App. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it, but it is amazing. I did not know anything about it, so I dug into all the details inside this chat with him. We talked about why he started it, how to set it up, why you would want to provide your user with this sort of membership, how you can earn money, the earning potential seems like it could be pretty big, and how this can create a little bit of a buffer between your business and all of those volatile changes that are happening in our space. I hope this episode inspires you to go check out the Meal Pro app. It sounds amazing. I’m gonna check it out myself for my own food blog. This is episode number 406, sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Eat Blog Talk is here to support you at every stage of your food blogging journey to help you accelerate your blog’s growth so you can achieve your freedom. We offer many services that will help get you on the right path no matter where you’re at in your journey. Don’t forget to check out our free discussion forum at forum.eatblogtalk.com. Go there to connect with like-minded peers, learn and grow, and share any wins that you have.
Our signature service is our mastermind program. We are currently accepting waitlist submissions for 2024, so if you want to get on the list for this year-long experience starting in January 2024, definitely do that now.
If you are not quite ready for that investment, the mini minds program might be for you. It is a six-month program that will help you achieve your goals and overcome any obstacles that are holding you back. If you’re up for getting together in person with some like-minded food bloggers, consider coming to one of our in-person retreats in 2023. This is a great way to get to know your fellow food bloggers really well in an intimate setting, learn a ton about food blogging in a short timeframe, and eat some delicious food that you will never forget. Go to eatblogtalk.com/services to get all the information about all of our services.
Megan Porta: Liam Smith from the Meal Pro App has 10-plus years of experience in tech, working with Fortune 500 companies and growing startups. Through a series of fortunate events, Liam was able to combine his passion for tech and desire to help people eat better to create the Meal Pro App, a platform helping food bloggers to launch their own memberships with their existing recipe content.
Hello Liam. Thank you so much for joining me on Eat Blog Talk. How are you today?
Liam Smith: I’m good, thanks, Megan. Yeah. Good to be here. Good to connect.
Megan Porta: Yes. I’m excited to talk about the Meal Pro app, but first, we would like to know if you have a fun fact to share about yourself.
Liam Smith: Yes, I do. I suppose two parts of this. I ask my wife because I know you like to ask people a fun fact. Asked my wife and she turned to me dead serious and she said Liam, I don’t think you have any. I was just, I was mortified.
Megan Porta: You’re not fun.
Liam Smith: What do you mean? I was like, oh thanks. Charming. Then I spent a long time trying to think of one, there are a few things maybe. But I suppose when I was young when everyone else was getting hamsters and fluffy pets, I ended up getting a snake and two pet scorpions. Maybe that sort of explains how I ended up in the tech world and going down the slightly, what sort of path you might call it.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, so I have two boys and they always joke about getting, because I am not a snake person. I’m not a rodent person. No, thank you. So they were like, Mom, we’re going to get tarantulas and snakes. So that’s right up your alley.
Liam Smith: That was me.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Do you still house these sorts of creatures, or are you done with that?
Liam Smith: I don’t. I don’t like keeping things in tanks and cages anymore. I love watching the programs and when I am somewhere exotic, trying to lift up rocks that I probably shouldn’t and have a look up what’s under there and stuff.
Megan Porta: Okay. Tell your wife that we did indeed uncover a fun fact. So you are a fun person.
Liam Smith: I will. I’ll make sure she listens to this.
Megan Porta: Yes. That’s so funny. All right. You are here to talk about how food bloggers can create a new revenue stream. This is something that is going to perk up everyone’s ears because we are all looking for new revenue streams. Then you are suggesting this through your app called The Meal Pro App. So I want to hear about the app, but first I want to hear how you got to the point where you created the app. So talk about your journey that led to the app.
Liam Smith: Yeah, I’m not a food blogger myself, although, I’ve been around the internet and, blogging a little bit for many years. But I’m not a food blogger myself. I come from it from a slightly different perspective. My background is in software and technology, so I’m also very passionate about what I eat and using that as fuel to feel better, whether that’s fitness-related or just general well-being. Having been working in London for a number of years, the stress of commuting, working long hours, and trying to eat, adds up. I ended up trying various things, even using virtual assistants, humans based in India to do my meal planning, a very analog sort of way of doing it. Then I started developing meal-planning apps for myself to solve a problem. Again, just purely for myself. A lot of the sort of mailbox delivery services maybe been a bit expensive and weren’t always the best quality, so I looked at ways to build my own application, never really trying to monetize. I wrote a few articles about it on tech blogs, mind the product is one which is industry specific to what I do. Randomly, I totally didn’t expect it. I actually got contacted by a couple of food bloggers, moving into sort of the Instagram and TikTok creator space, in terms of the later audiences as well. But yeah a couple of food bloggers and a couple of sort of health coaches. The basic thing is, can you build me an app just like the one that you’ve built for yourself? I said yeah, I can, it’s gonna cost you however many thousands. The quote was maybe $15,000, which really is not a lot for a custom app build, by the way.
But even that was like, whoa, that’s way too much. So I had a few conversations with people like that. Again, I dunno how they found this article. I think it was like the fourth page of Google, one person told me. It’s not something they would normally search for, a blog they would normally be on. Eventually, it came around to the idea of building this as software as a service. Basically, we build the software, and we own the IP, but we allow people to use it as white-label software and just pay us a monthly subscription. So it’s affordable for people who are food bloggers content creators and coaches who don’t have thousands or don’t want to spend thousands each month on an app. So it’s accessible for them, but it means that we can also scale it and actually cover our cost as well. So I’ve ended up in this space, in a very indirect route. But I’m loving connecting with food bloggers’ content created, everyone, just learning so much about what’s happening in the space, the good and the bad. The sort of scary stuff with AI and stuff coming to get everyone.
Megan Porta: Coming to get everyone. Watch out. Okay. So what’s so interesting is you really built this app based on your personal struggles, and then you were like, oh, people can actually benefit from this as well.
Liam Smith: Yeah, exactly. Then I suppose we built it with two food bloggers. So we built it around their needs. So we built it like a custom application for them. But again, we would own the IP, which if you’re paying for a custom development project, you would get the IP, you would own the IP, intellectual property. So when I’m speaking to food bloggers now, I’m told it works really well for, for example, if you’re using WordPress, if you’re using WP Recipe makers, using all these other things because of the journey we’ve been on to build it, building it with our customers. So yeah, it’s been a really unique sort of experience getting to build it with someone as well. You don’t always get that.
Megan Porta: I think it was so smart for you guys to bring two food bloggers on board to just learn from them. Just from what you’ve said so far, you clearly know the terminology and the plugins and all of that. So tell us more about the app. We’re all curious. I’m dying to know.
Liam Smith: Yeah, so I suppose at the heart of it, you know what we do, what we provide is software, but really, I think a bit more than that, how we’re helping is we’re helping sort of food bloggers, content creators, and some coaches to, like you said, to develop a new stream of income by repurposing existing content. So that’s a big thing, as you may know, yourself, as I know you’ve got an online course, having to create new content to develop a revenue stream is, especially if you’re not doing it full-time in terms of blogging is not a full-time job of yours, it’s very difficult. So really the platform we’ve built allows you to repurpose the existing recipe catalog that you’ve already built upon your blog. You might have some that hardly get any traffic and aren’t offering a lot in terms of ad revenue and things. You’re able to repurpose that content and build a meal-planning membership around it.
So for example, you can import your recipes, and add your branding to our software, so your logo, your colors, and things like that. Then you can connect it to your website. So typically you would use a subscription plugin, MemberPress is a popular one. We have an integration with that and you’d take payments on your website and then you’d input your recipes, add your branding and you would pretty much have a meal planning membership service you can offer to your customers ready to go. Maybe I am oversimplifying it a little bit. Of course, there’s some complexity in the launch process, which I’m happy to talk about, but from a technical standpoint, there’s not that much more if we’re importing recipes from WP recipe maker, for example, they offer an export, an import function. You can get this set up in the space of an afternoon if you dedicate the right time to it.
Megan Porta: Remember, you are a tech guy and you’re talking to a lot of mostly creative, mostly women. Some of us are tech. I am not, but some people in our area are techy. So from that standpoint, do you still think it’s a simple process, not having a tech background?
Liam Smith: Yeah, I mean it’s hard for me to say, from the outside in, I suppose. I can only go, I suppose the feedback I get from customers. So we’re working with a customer in South Africa right now who’s just signed up and they help busy mums basically and do some stuff with specific around gluten-free recipes as well. In their own words, they are technophobes.
Megan Porta: Technophobes? That’s funny.
Liam Smith: Yeah. So the sign-up process to actually create your app is literally just you fill in a form and you’ve got your app. Then click, upload your logo. Add your brand colors. Then it’s just a case of importing recipes, which you can either do manually or we have import from the recipe. So you can add your web link, a link to a webpage, and import your recipes, pull your recipe from there. Again that’s as simple as entering a URL and clicking import. There are some more involved things like if you want to do a book import from say, WP Recipe Maker, then we can help with that from our support team, connecting integrations, we can help with that. We have help guides. So it’s probably for someone who doesn’t have a tech background, yes maybe, it would take a few more hours to figure things out. I’m told our customer support is very good. But I would say that of course.
Megan Porta: Okay. No, that helps. I think one thing about food bloggers is that we figure things out. That is what defines us. We just keep going. And if we find a stumbling block, then we figure out a way to get over it and we figure it out. So I don’t think that is too much of a hurdle. I was just curious.
Liam Smith: I feel like WordPress itself can be more confusing.
Megan Porta: Yeah, exactly. If you can manage WordPress and figure all of that out, because it’s not super intuitive the first time you go in or the first a hundred times you go in, so Yeah, then you’re probably set.
Liam Smith: It’s way simpler. In my opinion.
Megan Porta: Okay, now it’s an app, so it’s, but it’s something that we have to integrate on the backend of WordPress? Talk through that. Is it an app that users pull up on their phone or they go to a web browser, or how do they use this?
Liam Smith: So it’s both. So your WordPress website is a website that you access through your web browser on any device. So we have a version that’s exactly the same, so you can add your own domain to it. So let’s say, Eat Blog Talk. You could say if you launched one, then you could launch on a brand-new domain. So you could pick something else completely, mymealplanningapp.com or something or you could do it on a subdomain like planner.eatblogtalk.com. So then again, someone would just access your app exactly the same way that would access your website and you’d just include it in your navigation or in a link or however you want to include it, exactly the same way. I think you have a teachable cost, don’t you? And in exactly the same way that you would do that. So that’s one way of doing it. Then we have a mobile app which is only available on a high higher price plan because it takes a bit more work to set up and for us to maintain. But a mobile app version that is also white label and allows your brand to be published within the mobile app stores, so Apple and Google. So people could on their mobile devices, they could find you in the app stores and download your app onto their phones themselves. So there are two options and it really depends on what stage you’re at. What we always say is, start with the web app because it’s much simpler to get set up and you can, like I said, maybe I am oversimplifying it somewhat, but I’ve spoken to people who are very, like I said, maybe technophobic, but they can generally figure out the web app with a little bit of support from our team and get launched with that. Then when they’re ready and the sort of, the numbers are growing as well in terms of memberships, then we say, maybe it’s time to start thinking about the mobile app so people, if they are searching your brand in the app store, can find you there as well. That offers another really unique way to engage with people. If your brand is on someone’s mobile device and you’re able to send them a push notification when you publish a new meal plan or something like that. Again it’s such a powerful way to say, oh hi, by the way, remember me? In the same way that a newsletter is a really powerful way to engage with people if it’s nurtured in the right way.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Okay. That makes sense. Then you said just probably an initial investment of maybe a few hours of getting set up. Then do you have to set up the recipes one by one or how does that work?
Liam Smith: Yeah, so the first thing I’ll say, and this is an anti-pattern, I dunno what you might call it, but when I speak to a lot of people, say I’m doing a demo or an onboarding call or something, let’s say on your food blog you’ve got 400 recipes. I spoke to someone recently who has 2000 and they said, they’re under the impression they need to add every single one to be able to launch this membership. We have a customer who launched last year, who launched 25 recipes on their membership and one meal plan, and they just continue to add more each week and they grew to over a thousand members. I’m not saying everyone’s going to grow to a thousand members. They did. It’s not like they have a huge social media following or anything like that, a huge email list or anything like that. But they just continue to add more each week and that also allows you to the n send out an email, say, oh new recipes published in the app or a new category. It gives you an organic way to continue speaking to people, whether they’re existing subscribers or people who might be interested, to continue talking to them. But yes, you can add recipes one by one. You can import from your website using the simple import function. We’ll pull in most of the information. You can just check it and publish it. Or, with WP recipe maker, we can do a bulk import from your recipes, and then you can just go through them, just check their right and publish them one by one. So a couple of options really. I think that probably is the most time-consuming part, which isn’t the most technically difficult, but I guess you want to just check it looks right and that you’re setting them up correctly. But yeah, we do most of the work In terms of the import for you.
Megan Porta: Then who is the user and how are you finding that they’re using this content within the app?
Liam Smith: Yes, that’s a really good question, I think. So zooming out a little bit, this is something I find interesting again, because I’m not from the blogging world per se, although again, I’ve been around the web for a while. It seems like not every food blogger, but a lot of food bloggers, especially newer bloggers, I suppose, stop at sort of their email list in terms you think of an ecosystem. You’ve got your website, you’ve got people coming from Google to your website. You’ve got maybe some ads running, and you’ve got maybe an opt-in to get a newsletter. That newsletter’s really just used to drive people back to your website and maybe have some socials going as well. That’s where a lot of people seem to stop. In terms of the user, the end user of a service like this, I guess would be someone who may sign up for your newsletter, for example. So people come to your website because they’re looking for a solution to their problem. They sign up for your newsletter because whatever freebies are opting for, you are offering them. Maybe it’s a mini masterclass or a free ebook or maybe is a meal plan of sorts. They sign up because again, they need a bit more help solving whatever problem there that you are offering that you provide a solution to. So the people, our customers, the food bloggers, and the creators who have been most successful with this, really get to know the problems of the people that come to their website or follow them on social media or sign up to their newsletter. They really get to know them well or and maybe that’s through creating a free Facebook group or, just sending out surveys via the newsletter or socials and doing things like that. They build their memberships around that. So it could be, helping people to go plant-based, and then they talk about some of the common problems. So the user is, as I said someone who’s interested, who keeps coming back to you because they need help and perhaps they need a bit more help than they are getting from the free content they are pushing out there. They want something where it will be beneficial to get ongoing support if that sort of makes sense. This is where the membership element comes in and that’s where it can add the most value for the end user and also then you, as the blogger, you can also get the most out of it because people stay around as well. If that sort of answers your question, I’m not sure.
Megan Porta: Yeah, no. So we are really tapping into our own audiences, solving really specific pain points for them, and then using the app as a way to deliver the solutions as opposed to you don’t necessarily have an audience that you’re giving us access to?
Liam Smith: No. So this is where we differ. Maybe I’ll talk a little bit about how what we do is different and why we decided to make some of the decisions we did. So our product is completely white label, so if you wanted to launch a membership for Pip and Ebby say, then you would use our software, you’d add your branding and you would launch it for your audience, to your readers, to your socials, et cetera. So you would leverage your audience. So that’s what I was saying about reusing existing content in terms of your recipes, you’re also leveraging your existing audience. So you’ve done the hard work, building an engaged, loyal following and building up your recipe content. Now we’re saying here’s some software that you can use. You can add your branding, combine those two things, your content and your audience, solve a problem for them, and offer it as a paid subscription, and it’ll help them and it’ll help you. That’s what we do. So I suppose there are platforms like Whisk, so Whisk for Creators where they’re saying, add your recipes to our network. Their app, and their social media. They’re almost talking about social media for recipe content really now, aren’t they? Which I suppose is good in terms of helping you get found in another way, for some bloggers, I guess they look at it as just another thing to do, given that there are already tons of other things going on. But we’re saying the opposite because, in my opinion, the trend is that as a blogger, it feels like you’re getting less and less control because, social media algorithms keep changing. Then you’ve got the constant changes in new features coming out. Instagram admitted fairly recently that they deprioritized, traditional photo posts for some time. Then you’ve got, things like ChatGPT and how is that going to impact traditional search and things like that. It’s all these other factors, the Google cookie apocalypse, and all of that stuff. We’re actually saying, try and build out your own ecosystem so that you’re not as reliant on all of these external traffic sources, so you work really hard to get people to your site or run to your newsletter or whatever, then leverage that and keep them within your ecosystem. Keep nurturing them and helping them. We provide part of that ecosystem in terms of the software that you can leverage in much the same way that you know you might use Convert Kit or something for your email sending. People don’t need to know that it’s Convertkit, but you use it, and Convertkit doesn’t own your data, you still own your audience, et cetera. We are exactly the same. We say use our software. You still have a relationship with your customers. It’s all your content. You own that. We just own the IP to the software and you brand it and all of that stuff. So I suppose that’s how we’re a bit different from how some of the other things in the market.
Megan Porta: Yeah, good clarification. So if we’re taking our own content that is already published on our site, are we just repackaging it in a way that’s really different for the user? Or can you give some examples of how other bloggers who are using this app are repackaging their content?
Liam Smith: Yeah. So a customer asked the same question. If they’re getting the content for free on my website, why are they going to pay for it? Again, what problem are you solving for them? Again, how you package your membership comes back to you again. So it could be something like, in your case, I’m trying to think with Pip and Ebb, in terms of the recipes that you provide and the sort of methods that you teach. It could be stress-free dinner times done for you and how you do it is that you’d say, get ad-free access to all of our recipes, add them to the meal planner, and auto-generate shopping list that you take to the grocery stores. Meal planning is done in five minutes, dinnertime with no stress or something like that. The packaging is not saying, okay, I’m going to change this recipe somehow. I’m gonna create a whole node of new recipes. It’s saying that by combining your recipe content into something that allows people to chuck a load of recipes in for the week, generate a shopping list really quickly, and if they change servings or swap recipes, it automatically updates the shopping list and gives them something they can go shopping with. Then when it comes to cooking, they just go back in and just say, okay, I’m cooking this recipe and it’s this many servings. I might even need to adjust it and adjust the ingredients and things. It adds another level of support you can provide to them during the week as opposed to just giving them a one-off pdf. So for example, PDF content is as you probably know, it’s difficult to customize if you wanna change the recipe. If there’s one recipe you don’t like, then the shopping list is automatically redundant unless you want to go through it. So the way we see a lot of customers being successful with it is providing that flexibility to the end user, to be able to use their recipes, which they love because they follow them obviously and they trust the blogger, but in a way that allows them to yeah, shape their week and know that what they’re gonna be making fits whatever their particular goals are. Whether that is because they want to eat more plant-based meals, whether that is
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Megan Porta: So I can see this being really beneficial for bloggers who have more of that specific pain point that you talk about. Maybe someone is just being introduced to a gluten-free diet or some specific diet that they need to follow and they’re not quite sure how to do it. This could be a roadmap to doing something like that, or somebody who just really needs healthy meal plans for the week or something along those lines.
Liam Smith: Yeah. Exactly. We have a real mix. I’ll be honest. Like we have some people who are quite specific like we have one person who comes more from a coaching place background and helps people with anti-inflammatory sort of foods and diets and meal plans. That’s all linked to MS and multiple sclerosis and things like that. On the other end of the spectrum, we have people, as I said before, who help busy mums just eat slightly healthier meals that are easy to prep. Not super specific, but just takes the stress out of, what am I gonna eat this week. The way they do it is, a popular way of doing it is, for example, the blogger would publish a sample meal plan each week and say, here’s a starter for 10. Have a look, see what you think, and if you wanna change any recipes, then you do that. It takes a few clicks in the app swaps and recipes to change servings, and it gives you a new shopping list. So it’s saying, here’s a new meal plan, here’s something to start with. So again, you’re just helping people take the guesswork out of it. That’s really where I think a lot of the benefit is. But the more specific the more sort of it goes into the coaching world, the more we see people charging for their memberships, but that comes at a cost to them because they spend a bit more time in terms of producing content. So it’s a bit of a sliding scale.
Megan Porta: Okay. Then what is the earning potential?
Liam Smith: Earning potential? Yeah, it’s a good question. Yeah, I could tell you that we have customers earning, I’m trying to think, probably $20,000 plus a month from their meal planning memberships, and we have customers earning less than a thousand, and we have customers in between. The earnings potential, I think, sky’s the limit really, because one of the most powerful things about this, and again, back to how perhaps we’re slightly different to a lot of the software in the market, is that we’ve built this for scale. So one of the reasons, back in the, very first days when we were speaking to the food bloggers, we decided to build this and why they needed it is because there are lots of really good coaching tools out there, nutrition coaching, tools like that. A clean life is such a nice piece of software, but it is built with four people working one-on-one or working with small groups of people. If you want to try and help a thousand people, then you do need a tool that supports you in that. That’s how we built it. We built it where you publish meal plans and allow people, to create, customize themselves, or create their own as opposed to having to create individual meal plans for each person. So because of that, like I said, yeah we have people with thousands and thousands of members in their subscription. It’s not really much more work for them. Yes. They maybe hired a community manager if they have a Facebook group and they now spend a bit more money on their recipe content. In terms of the amount you have to invest to scale, it’s really minimal. Which has been great to see. Because the platform itself is only probably only 18, or 20 months old. So it’s quite a nice journey to have witnessed.
Megan Porta: Okay. Wow, that’s so cool. I just have your website up and I’m just looking through here. It looks really clean like the dashboard is really clean and easy to use. What kind of feedback have you guys gotten from the food bloggers who have been using it and then from their users?
Liam Smith: Yeah, so the first thing, as you said, is people like the app. I would say, both as the food blogger setting it up, yes. Don’t get me wrong, there are some things where people need a little bit more handholding if they don’t have a team or someone else, like maybe setting up a Xavier connection. But even that is becoming more and more common in the blogging world. But the clean interface is something that people have commented on and we have left a lot of things out that people have asked for. What we tend to do is we leave things out and then if enough people ask for them, we’ll add them in. Just because we know every time we add something in, it creates that additional sort of mental load, whether it’s for the blogger creating the meal plans and recipes, or for the end user who’s having to think about what to do. We would just wanna allow ’em to focus on the jobs at hand. Yeah, that’s it. But, I spoke to someone on a demo last week. She was about to go down the route of getting a custom app developed, and then she saw our platform. After I showed her the demo, she said, you’ve solved every problem that I have at the moment.
Megan Porta: Aw, that feels good, I bet.
Liam Smith: It really does. Yeah, and that’s what I was saying about having, being able to build and co-build it effectively with food bloggers and creators. I think it’s allowed us to build something that works well for the people like that. I think on the other side of things as I said, our platform is only 18, 20 months old and we’re a bootstrapped startup. We may well look to take on funding at some point, one day, but we’re a bootstrapped startup. Feel a lot of the pains of many of the sort of small business owners listening to this, I imagine. I imagine you can relate as well, but that’s allowed us to stay, to focus purely on the customers rather than trying to get investment and all of that stuff, like a lot of software startups. Maybe in the future. Because of that, we’re relatively new. There are tons of things we still want to do. People ask us for stuff and we know it’s a good idea and we are going to add stuff that we know will make, whether that’s the setup process easier like we were saying about removing the need to connect integrations. Once we do that, it literally makes the setup a breeze and that’s what we want to get to. We will get there. It’ll just take time. Then there are other things that end users, like being able to add comments to recipes or things like that or notes and things like that, as the end user. There are things like that. There are always going to be requests and we generally accommodate things from customers but ultimately, we’re a team. We can only do so much at one point in time. So it’s trying to manage that feedback and keep people happy.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It’s cool because you guys are solving food bloggers’ problems, but you’re also solving food bloggers’ users’ problems, so that has to feel really good. It’s a win-win all around. Okay. So what else do you feel like food bloggers need to know about the apps? We’ve talked through the setup and how it’s going to serve our users. How it works on our site or on a mobile app. What else do we need to know?
Liam Smith: So I think when I speak to people on demos, maybe even an onboarding call, but still a lot of people know that they want to diversify their income. They know that membership will probably work well for them because maybe they know a little bit about their audience already. Maybe they already have, like you said, the recipe content and the following. Then they’re not sure what to do next. That seems to be the common theme. I’m very much the same in very self-critical overthinking things. It’s oh how do I know it’s going to work? I think ultimately we never. If it’s going to work, anything in life, do we? Let’s say we’re starting a blog. As I was listening to one of your recent episodes, it’s about setting up multiple blogs. It’s you never know until you try. But just try. Even that said, we recorded a masterclass recently with Taylor Stinson, The Girl on Bloor, and she talked us through the process of how she went about doing it. I think the best way to get started, even before, regardless of whether you use our solution or not, is just to start to get to know your audience a bit better, if you’re not already. If you’re not speaking to them and understanding their problems, whether that’s through surveys, just start doing that and then get a feel for what you can help them with. Put up a simple landing page, like a, I dunno, it could be converted here, it could be your email provider, it could be on WordPress using a simple sort of pre-built page. Just something super simple. We’re coming soon, we’re launching, whether it’s a meal planning membership to solve your X, Y, Z problem, your dinnertime stress, or to help you manage your gluten-free lifestyle or whatever it is, and then promote that to your audience and just get a feel for this sort of interest at that point. Again, just keep having those regular conversations. It doesn’t take tons of work. You don’t have to have hundreds of conversations, five conversations are plenty. I think that’s a nice step stepping stone between, okay, now I’m going to start adding stuff to the app, and I’m gonna do all of this stuff. I’m going to just test the water with a simple landing page, speak to a few people, get a bit of feedback, use that to update your landing page again, and then launch something. I spoke to someone yesterday who just did that. They got 30 people super interested on their waitlist already, and they said, right and ready to go, let’s go with the app. Now they’re going through the onboarding process. So I would just say, yeah, not even related to the software itself, just think about how can I test the appetite for this simple landing page. Promote it a little bit to your newsletter or socials or whatever, and get the appetite. So that’s an indirect way of answering your question, I think. But I feel like that’s the most pertinent thing that I’ve been talking to people about recently.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Oh, that’s great. You broke it down really well and I’m just tossing it around in my head right now. Oh my goodness, should I do this? I don’t have time. What you said earlier really hit me. Google updates, Google algorithms, and now we have impending AI concerns. Are our searches going to be obsolete? All of that. There’s so much. We take Pinterest hits. It’s like we’re just getting constantly punched down and punched down. So this would alleviate a lot of those concerns because we have control over this.
Liam Smith: Yeah, absolutely. It seems to be that bloggers are getting punched more and more as well, by the tech giants. Which is, it’s double-edged. They need you as much as you need them right now, and it’s already a trend that’s happening. Google snippet featured snippets, for example, are already Increasing like no-click searches, supposedly. Chatbots being introduced into search could do that even more. If you’ve seen what Microsoft Bing is doing, integrating with AI-powered chatbots and things like that. I agree. Whether it is meal planning memberships, of course, that’s something we can help with. But even just building out your ecosystem in terms of what you offer to people, whether that is building a small community, whether that is having online courses or membership or both, and just building that out progressively. There’s a reason that it’s becoming more of a talked about thing because I think it is more important to do now than ever.
Megan Porta: Oh you made a good case, Liam. I think that this will definitely be something that food bloggers want to hear more about. Is there anything else you wanna cover about the app or just in general before we start saying goodbye?
Liam Smith: I would be curious to get your thoughts on something actually. This is something that we’re also tying with, and I’ve not really talked about this publicly, but maybe this is a good opportunity and I would love to hear if there is anyone listening who’s interested. I’ll share my details of course, and please do get in touch. In the course of what we do, most of our customers are food bloggers, content creators, and things, but we also get people who come from the coaching world. Typically coaches don’t have the back catalog of recipes that a lot of food bloggers have. They say, oh okay, I love your software, but can you give us the recipes as well? I’m like no, because we don’t provide the recipes. Food bloggers add their recipes. Then we speak to food bloggers. Two weeks ago, I think it was, I spoke to a food blog with 2000 recipes on their blog, and they admitted themselves like a lot of those, spent a lot of time creating them and a lot of those don’t really offer much in terms of ROI right now. Of course, there are various factors that influence SEO and things. That moved to the idea of we’ve got people who need recipes and we have people who have tons of recipes on their blog, and some of them aren’t really being utilized. Is there, as a complimentary service to what we already do, to broker that relationship between the food blogger and the coach who needs a recipe? So someone can offer recipes like a white label, here are a hundred of my recipes as a food blogger. Here are a hundred of my recipes that you can use, within set guidelines. Then the coach will be able to use them and pay you. So you get paid upfront for people using your recipes as opposed to things like Whisk, where you are giving your recipes over and then you might get paid for them later down the line. That’s how I understand the model works. Even with Google, you get paid only when people click on them and things like that. So the idea of a sort of recipe marketplace as well is something that’s flowing through my mind and something we’re testing the idea for with food bloggers. But I’d love to hear your feedback initially, and any major concerns, but I’d love to hear any feedback from people listening as well.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So would it be just one flat fee for each recipe, or were you thinking that they would be given a portion of the membership or how would that work, the payment terms?
Liam Smith: So if you think about it’s separate from the app a little bit. Let’s say that you have 500 recipes on your blog. You say, actually, I’ve got 50 recipes that I know that I’m happy for other people to use because they’re not like flagship recipes. They’ve not got lots of traffic or anything like that, but they certain niche. So it could be air fryer, here are 50 air fryer recipes that you package up and you provide as a, here are Megan Porta’s 50 air fryer recipes, and that’s a bundle, and maybe you offer that at $99. So every time someone buys that, it’s $99. Maybe we take a 10% commission as a sort of broker. Then the coach pays for the block of recipes. You get 90% of the revenue or whatever it is, and we get 10% as the sort of broker between the two services. Then you could have other bloggers, in the, in the, maybe it’s the vegan niche or keto or whatever it might be, whole food, all offering bundles of recipes that you would purchase, but it’s of another way to earn passive income on your recipe content, is the line I’m thinking down.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I think that you would find food bloggers who would be up for that. I know that a lot of bloggers are very protective of their recipes and don’t want them published anywhere else. But on the flip side, I know that there are also a lot of bloggers who really want to earn extra revenue and enjoy that part of it, doing the recipe development and all of that. So I think you would find both sides. I don’t know. I can’t say a percentage. But I’ve talked to food bloggers who are on both sides for sure. So I don’t think that would be a problem to find food bloggers who would be up for a venture like that. I don’t know if I would. I don’t know that I would necessarily do it, just, I’m just at a weird place in my journey. I’ve been blogging for so long that I don’t personally feel like I need that right now, but I can see where at one point in my journey I would’ve been like, sure, I’ll do that. Does that make sense?
Liam Smith: I think this is born out of, like you said some bloggers don’t want to give over their recipes. I totally agree. I think it’s another thing that’s sort of part of this whole discussion, not just around AI, but even before that, when I’m speaking to people, it’s not necessarily they don’t want other people to use their recipes, it’s that they don’t want other people to use their recipes without their permission because it’s so easy to scrape the web now, isn’t it? That people just rip your recipes off and you don’t get any credit for it. There are recipe APIs that scrape the web and give your recipes and sell your recipes effectively without ever giving you anything back for it. So this is saying, take more control, offer some of your recipes, and get paid for it. But I don’t know, it’s just a very early stage of just very curious to hear your thoughts on it. Again, it’s just just from speaking to people, just trying to solve that problem of, how can we help bloggers get more control over their income really and not quite passive. Nothing’s perfectly passive. Is it really? But without having to take on another job to earn it, sort of thing.
Megan Porta: I think what you just said is a huge point. A lot of food bloggers are on their way to monetizing and they’re not there yet. So this would be a really good solution for them. Outright purchasing the recipes for them, as you said, you’re not scraping, you’re not stealing, you’re not taking, you are offering compensation for their recipes. I think, my opinion is that I think it would be great for a lot of people. Yeah, it would be an amazing opportunity.
Liam Smith: Yeah. Okay. But as I said, you know along with the app, yes, at the moment what we do is we provide software that helps people launch meal planning memberships by repurposing content. But we have three or four other things that we believe food bloggers and content creators to again, to monetize without having to take on another full-time job. We’re excited about where it goes.
Megan Porta: Yeah. This is exciting. I’m really excited for you guys. When did you launch this? I’m curious.
Liam Smith: Yeah, so I think we’ve been working on it for probably a couple of years. But in terms of launching the actual app, that was from early discussions, with the couple of food bloggers that I talked about. But in terms of launching, it was the middle of 2021. So I think like July or August 2021. So what’s that, like 20 months maybe?
Megan Porta: Yeah. Amazing. All right is there anything else we should know before we say goodbye, Liam? This has been a really great conversation.
Liam Smith: Not that I can think of. I hope I haven’t waffled too much.
Megan Porta: No, it was great. I think you provided everything we need to know to decide whether or not we want to get started. So thank you for joining me and for telling us about your amazing app, and I’m sure you’ll get some people who go check you out. Do you have a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Liam Smith: Yes, I do actually. I saw something pop up on, I think it was my LinkedIn feed the other day by the founder of Basecamp. If anyone uses Basecamp, it’s like a project manager. By Jason Fried. So it’s really about what was saying about understanding your readers and your followers solve of problems and not being wedded to an idea. Yes. By all means, ads may well be your primary source of revenue, but I think what he said, expectations are the enemy here, in that they limit the number of great landing spots and make the idealized one impossibly hard. So what you suggest is relaxing your expectations and hundreds of positive possibilities will open up in the sense, go out there with an open mind, speak to people, and see what sort of comes back and see what happens. I think that’s the journey we’ve been on. We never expected, I never expected, to end up where I am, two years ago, to be honest. I think very much the same when I speak to people, food bloggers. It’s very much the same. People are on a journey. If this is the first time they’re doing something in terms of trying to earn income that is not purely from ad revenue. It’s a new learning experience and it’s having to think about things slightly differently than keyword research and then getting into Mediavine, Adthrive and then working your way to, higher RPMs and all of that stuff. But, have an open mind and see where it takes you.
Megan Porta: I think that is the key to success right there, but so hard because we so often are like, this is what I want, this is my expectation. If it doesn’t happen, I’m not happy. But it actually does open up so much magic if you can just let the expectations go. Easier said than done though.
Liam Smith: That’s why I used it because I struggle with it. That’s why I said it as a quote.
Megan Porta: No, I love it. Such a great one to end on. Thank you. So we’ll put together a show notes page for you and we’ll put all of your app information in there. You can go to eatblogtalk.com/mealproapp to find all of that. Why don’t you tell everyone, Liam, where they can find you and get more information about the app and anything else you want to mention?
Liam Smith: Yeah, so if you’re interested to learn more, please go to mealproapp.com. MealProapp is all one word, mealproapp.com. So yeah, you can learn a bit more about the software there. From there, you can book a demo or you can contact us via the form. I’m actually doing a lot of the demos at the moment. We’re probably going to swap that out for a video. So yeah, if you’re interested to speak to me and talk a bit more about your blog and how you could monetize it through this stream, then by all means, go ahead and book a demo. That’ll be with me at least for the next sort of month or so, I think. We also have a masterclass, so in the navigation mealproapp.com in navigation, if you click the masterclass link, you’ll be able to get access to the video with Taylor Stinson, AKA The Girl on Bloor, where Taylor and I talked through her journey from before she even heard about Meal Pro App through to doing surveys before launch, all the way through to monetizing it and within about six weeks after launch, I think Taylor was at nearly two and a half thousand dollars in recurring revenue, which was a whole new income stream for her. So yeah, that video in the masterclass video, you can get free access to that. Yeah, so by all means, go and have a watch of that and that’ll give you an introduction to how to take the next steps, I think.
Megan Porta: Amazing. Thank you so much. I hope that you get tons of traffic and lots of interest in this, Liam. Looks like a really solid platform. So thank you for sharing everything you did today, and thank you so much for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. 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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