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Episode 254: Series (Part 3): From Many Mistakes to Big Wins with Megan Porta

In episode 254, Megan continues the series, from many mistakes to big wins and what she learned. Today’s episode covers why having boundaries is a must in today’s world of information overload.

We cover information such as why you need to have a vision and goals to work towards, the importance of protecting your time and theme your months and quarters as well as surround yourself with people who will help you stick to your boundaries.

Listen on the player below or on iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, or your favorite podcast player. Or scroll down to read a full transcript.

Takeaways

  • The world of food blogging has evolved over the years and so should you.
  • Not setting boundaries will get you burnt out, and you’ll never be an expert and the less money you’ll make.
  • Not setting boundaries will also ruin relationships with friends and family.
  • Set boundaries by having specific visions and goals. This is important in both your business and your personal life.
  • Protect your time. Let your time be productive with the tasks you’ve set and let your time with family be valued too.
  • Monthly and quarterly themeing is valuable. This concept plays into the theme of batching.
  • Surround yourself with supportive people.
  • Having boundaries is a MUST in our worlds of information overload.

Make Sure You Heard Part 2 of This Series

Megan shares in episode 249 how you can overcomplicate everything and make this blogging journey so much more difficult than it needs to be.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Food bloggers! Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, THE podcast for food bloggers looking for the value and confidence that will move the needle forward in their businesses. I’m your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode 254. 

This episode is the third in a series called From Many Mistakes to Big Wins where I will talk through specific mistakes I’ve made in my own blogging journey and how YOU can learn from my struggles. 

Before we dive into that, I’d love to take some time here to share about all of the resources available here at EBT that give you a chance to connect, gain confidence, dig into food blogging in a new way and just LEVEL UP in your business growth and with your networking.

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Just to do a quick recap of the previous mistakes I talked about in the first 2 episodes in this series.. I talked about my BIGGEST mistake: Thinking I could do everything on my own (ep 244). And in the previous episode in this series I talked about how I over-complicated absolutely everything in my business for a lot of years (ep 249).

Before I dig into this episode, I will reiterate that I will not refer to my mistakes as “failures” because I don’t believe in failure. I embrace mistakes as a part of my business and a part of my journey because they are what help me to learn and grow.

Mistake #2: No boundaries! 

This is such a timeless lesson that applies to every aspect of human life and it definitely applies to food blogging, with all the different balls we feel we need to juggle at any given moment. When my own personal food blogging journey began, there were literally like three things to do: write/make a recipe, take/edit photos and write a blog post. This was doable! So I “did it all.”

But then the world of food blogging started evolving. Pinterest entered the scene. Then recipe videos were huge. Facebook became a really good way to gain momentum (especially when posting videos). Brands began seeing the value of doing work with bloggers, so sponsored work became a focus. Then we collectively saw the need to not just take photos but to take GOOD food photography. Enter SEO and keyword research and Instagram and oh my gosh this could go on forever.

More stuff to keep afloat just keep arriving on the food blogging scene. And because I started food blogging when “doing it all” was very manageable, I carried this belief with me for a very long time that I needed to KEEP doing it all, even if the “ALL” kept growing.

Plus, remember my last episode in this series? I talked about doing most things the hard and complicated way? Because I wasn’t networking and thought I could do it all myself? That made keeping up with it all even more of a challenge. 

Basically I tried to adopt all the new things as they were happening because I didn’t know any better. Once I realized that I needed to put boundaries on my life and business I was already frazzled and burned out.

About 6 or 7 years into blogging, I saw the need to get work tasks onto a calendar. There was a lot to manage, so I wrote it all into my Google calendar. When I had everything logged that I SHOULD be doing, it was totally overflowing and too packed to even understand. I ran out of room for everything, so I started putting tasks outside my normal work windows. I remember looking at my calendar one day and seeing work start times of 6am!!! I never start working even close to 6am, so I’m not sure when I thought I was going to squeeze that work in.

Right around that time I started hiring out my weekly emails, Facebook posts and Pinterest, which opened up a ton of time for me. But then more things arrived on the scene: reels, tiktok, web stories, idea pins, etc, which is where I (along with a lot of YOU!) realize that setting some boundaries is an ongoing thing. New platforms and strategies and tools will continue to bombard our businesses, so setting firm boundaries is a necessity.. MORE NOW THAN EVER. 

I know you guys feel it. We all do.. It’s hard! It is REALLY hard to know how and when and where to set boundaries in our businesses. And then we have to stick to them and continue to set boundaries for the new things that emerge.

First let’s talk through what will happen if you DO try to do all the things and you DON’T set boundaries in your business, then we’ll chat about how to set those boundaries.

What NOT SETTING BOUNDARIES got me and what it’ll get you..

  1. Never an expert. I dug a mile wide and an inch deep for nearly eight years. I dabbled in just about everything under the food blogging sun and never got “really good” at any aspect of it. I’d see the food bloggers who would dig into really specific parts of the job (photos, video, SEO, etc) and I saw how skilled they were becoming in these micro aspects of the whole of food blogging. Trying to do it all ensured that I’d never become an expert in any one particular area.
  2. Burnout. I’ve talked about this before on the podcast, but I got to the point where burnout was a common point I’d get to, probably 4 times/year. No boundaries for me meant there were no limits to the amount of time I worked, which led to me being frazzled, irritable and tired all the time. Which, by the way, was actually counter-productive, causing a decrease in productivity and creativity (but I was too strung out to understand this while it was happening).
  3. Limited money. I thought for so long that the more I work, the more money I’ll make! Um, WRONG. This was another thing I was too exhausted to understand at the time, but in fact the exact opposite is true. The LESS time I give myself to work, the more efficient and productive I become. I work half the time I did back then and earn more. Plus, when our calendars are jam-packed full of things, we don’t have bandwidth to open ourselves up to new opportunities so that puts a limit on the amount of money we bring in, as well.
  4. Mad friends and family. Being an entrepreneur is hard.. That’s just the truth and this sentence probably deserves its own series, but one of the hardest things about it is trying to explain WHAT we do and WHY we do what we do.. to non-entrepreneur friends and family. We have to answer questions like, “Now WHY are you working so much? And HOW much money are you making?” When we answer those things out loud, especially in the early years of our businesses, we sound crazy to ourselves even. It’s so hard to explain to people what we KNOW to be true. Like the way I’ve just always known, even in the very beginning when I was a terrible photographer and had no idea what I was doing, that I was going to turn my business into a success machine. I KNEW IT. But even when I said those words, other people didn’t understand. So adding that lack of understanding to not having boundaries and working around the clock on everything equals mad friends and family. They didn’t understand before, but when you don’t show up at the dinner table or when you keep canceling dinner dates with friends they REALLY won’t understand.

HOW TO SET BOUNDARIES

  1. Visions and goals. This is my number one, biggest piece of advice with creating boundaries. Establishing visions and goals for not just your business, but for your life as a whole, will totally transform everything.. In a good way. If you haven’t put energy into doing this, I strongly encourage you to do so. Start with the WHYs. WHY are you a food blogger? Why did you make the decision to level up and make this business work? Keep asking WHY? After every time you answer until you hit a spot where you get emotional. That’s the key, right there, and that is what you set your vision around. For me, my point of emotion with this exercise is that I want to maximize my time with the people who live in my house with me and who I love so very much. Based on that, I sit down at least once/quarter (sometimes more) and I write out my long-term vision, as well as 1-year, 6-month and 3-month goals, all that support my vision. I write it on a white board that I put in my bedroom and look at multiple times/day. Constantly reminding myself of where I’m going ENSURES that I don’t get distracted by projects or people that don’t align. It ensures that I create and stick to my boundaries. 
  2. Protect your time. Being a “time protector” is one of my biggest pieces of advice for people looking to increase their productivity. Once you’ve established your boundaries, so you know exactly what you’re doing for self care (#1) and family time and you know exactly what you’re doing for work, chisel these things in stone. Move into each day and week KNOWING that you will do everything in your power to protect the time you’ve set aside for yourself, your family and your work (and other priorities, as well). I’m probably on the extreme end of this spectrum.. To the degree where I don’t even allow my pets in the same room as me while I’m working and I ignore the doorbell and my phone.. Which is why I can get so much work done.
  3. Theme your months/quarters. This is a newer concept for me, but I’m beginning to do this monthly and quarterly “theming,” thanks to a few other food bloggers who have shared their success stories with me. To start, try theming your month. Like, I’m going to create as many videos this month as possible. Everything else will involve either bare minimum work or you will say NO to.. Or at least NO for now. This concept plays into the theme of batching, which I’m a huge fan of, because by focusing on a single task repeatedly within a specified timeframe, you can be MUCH more productive than if you break up that time with tasks that require a totally different mindset. 
  4. Surround yourself with supportive people. This one is a biggie and something that I believe gets overlooked because it seems too simple to do any good. But. It. Does. Surrounding yourself with the right people is EVERYTHING. One bad piece of advice can sink an entrepreneur. When we have supportive, big-thinking peers in our circles, they will call us out when we’re overstepping our boundaries. How do you find these people? Well.. Keep your eyes and ears open. You KNOW when you meet people who will be a positive influence in your life. Follow those feelings and seek out those people.. And hold onto them.

That’s all for mistake #3! To recap, having boundaries is a MUST in our worlds of information overload. I hope that me sharing my mistakes (and resulting lessons) has been helpful.

The next episode in this series will be #262, published on 12/13/21, so stay tuned to hear more of my epic mistakes! Specifically I’ll talk about Mistake #4, which is investing in the wrong things and in some cases avoiding making investments.


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Megan
Megan

Megan started her food blog Pip and Ebby in 2010 and food blogging has been her full-time career since 2013. Her passion for blogging has grown into an intense desire to help fellow food bloggers find the information, insight, and community they need in order to find success.

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