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Episode 268: From Part-Time Blog to Full-Time Thriving Business with Natalya Drozhzhin

In episode 268, Natalya Drozhzhin of Momsdish, talks to us about her journey of going from part time hobby blogger to turning her blog into a full time business.

We cover information on how to avoid burnout and really find a balance for yourself, strategizing through tough times to keep moving forward and why hosting blogger retreats is valuable in several ways.

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

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Guest Details

Connect with Momsdish
Website | Facebook | Instagram

Bio Natalya Drozhzhin is the founder and head home cook for Momsdish, a food blog focused on bringing crazy easy recipes to the masses. She’s a fan of minimal ingredient lists and giving her followers great foundational recipes that they can tweak and make their own. One thing she isn’t a fan of? Turning her kitchen into an all-day-long science experiment (unless it’s for the sake of fresh sourdough).

Takeaways

  • When you make that decision to go from hobby blogging to a business to grow, find one or two things you want to focus on growing and learning that will impact growth.
  • Do a deep dive into SEO to look at your niche’s potential.
  • If you can put the same amount of energy and passion into your blog that you have for a day job, then you can grow a blog into a business.
  • Dream big and know that you’re going to work hard to achieve results.
  • Being a blogger can help balance family time and provide flexibility if you’re thoughtful about it so that mom guilt doesn’t take over.
  • If you don’t have a tech savvy go-to person, get one. Being a blogger, that is essential.
  • When you add a spouse to the blog, treat it like your partners and not one working for the other. Both have a vested interest.
  • Burnout is real so its important to add boundaries to your work day.
  • You’re going to hit bumps in the road. When you do, find the silver lining in them and maximize that to put systems in place or better organize so you come out stronger.
  • Creating and organizing food blogger retreats is a great way to grow your community and learn hands on from fellow bloggers.
  • Blogger retreats can be simple. Don’t let them get complicated.

Resources Mentioned

Refresher on Natalya’s last visit to EBT

In episode #039, Natalya visited with Megan about how she got into full time blogging and what that looked like.

Transcript

Click for full text.

268 Natalya D

Natalya Drozhzhin: Hi, this is Natalya Drozhzhin and you’re listening to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. 

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

Hey, food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, sponsored by RankIQ. I am your host, Megan Porta, and you are listening to episode 268. Today, Natalya and I are going to talk about her awesome blogging journey and how her first two years of full-time blogging have gone, including all of those hiccups and wins. Natalya Drozhzhin is the founder and head home cook for Mom’s Dish, a food blog focused on bringing crazy easy recipes to the masses. She’s a fan of minimal ingredient lists and giving her followers great foundational recipes that they can tweak and make their own. One thing she isn’t a fan of is turning her kitchen into an all day long science experiment, unless it’s for the sake of fresh sourdough, of course. Hey Natalya, how are you today?

Natalya Drozhzhin: I’m doing good, Megan. Thank you for having me. 

Megan Porta: Yeah. It’s so great to have you here for the second time. I haven’t talked to you in over a year, but I love having repeat guests and it’s so great to have you back. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Yeah. Time flies and I’m excited to come back. 

Megan Porta: Yes. And hearing about your full-time journey is going to be fun. I’m excited for this conversation, but first, do you have a second fun fact to share with us?

Natalya Drozhzhin: Yeah, sure. A life update almost. We packed everything up and moved cross country. Originally, I’m a Ukrainian. So we moved to the US in the nineties with my family. Met my husband in Seattle and just this last year we packed everything up, our little family with two boys and moved to Nashville. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I love Nashville. What is your favorite part about being in Nashville? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Oh my. That’s putting me on this spot because there’s so many great things. I’m actually really impressed with the food scene and the family environment here. I think those are the two favorite things, but it’s really hard to put it in one, but definitely the family environment, you feel safe, comfortable. It’s just that the people in the south are the best. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I know it is such a great little city. Okay. I don’t want to waste any time because I know we have a lot to talk about and you’ve had an up and down journey as far as digging into full-time food blogging for your first couple of years. So let’s dig right into this. Do you want to just start with leaving your quote day job? I think that was in 2019, and how that went. Just talk us through that. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Alright, It feels almost too far to remember, but I can walk through it. So 2019 I left my job, it was nerve-wracking. So in 2019, I created this vision board. If at some point I make a certain amount of dollars, I can do this. So at that point I left my job and what a journey, because we have a few team members now and just diving in. Do you want me to share what I started with or?

Megan Porta: Yep. Go for it. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Okay. So in 2019, we’ll launch the new site. So I actually have been blogging with Mom’s Dish for fun. I was one of those believers that will never have an ad on my website. I will never ever charge for my recipes. But time came. I knew if I had to provide quality work, I had to pick one. I was very successful at my corporate job or started blogging full-time and actually provide a good resource, not just like a hobby type of thing. I could just never do a good job, I was never consistent with my recipes. So leaving the job was a big decision for me, because like I said, I was very successful at my corporate job, and I’m going into something, knowing that there is an opportunity out there, but we just started with a new site updated. We started updating all of our recipes, which I’m still doing. It just never ends. It’s like a circle. 

Megan Porta: Oh, it doesn’t ever end. I swear. Never.

Natalya Drozhzhin: But yeah, that’s, those were the few things that we focused on. But photography was not great at times. So I really focused on updating my photos, of really diving deep into the photography, because then you want to be successful, I really needed to take that upon us and make sure that I’m doing a good job with that. It’s not perfect right now, but it’s good enough. That’s what I keep telling myself. We updated, mostly focusing on recipes and photos on the new site. 

Megan Porta: I love that you started with something that you noticed that you weren’t excelling at and you really focused on that. Then also I have to point this out that you just decided, right? There came a point when you just had to make a decision whether or not your blog was going to be a hobby or a business. Once he made that decision, then things started to unfold more easily for you. Do you feel like? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: So we pretty much, at that point, me and my husband worked very closely together in all of our jobs of life, so we sat down and we made a plan. I dove deep into SEMrush, researching a little bit more. What is our opportunity? Then focusing on a blog, understanding in the community what people, as far as money-wise, whether they make, does this make sense for me to leave a job? So when we sat down and made that plan, it was easier because I knew I was getting up at 4:00 AM every morning to go to my work. Then I have two young children. Right now they’re almost teenagers. One of them is a teenager. Knowing that I have been getting up at 4:00 AM. I am doing all this hard work while I am successful at the corporate job, but it is not for us. It’s not our future. If I don’t show up tomorrow for work and I don’t get paid. So I knew if I put in the same amount of energy into this blog, I knew that we can be successful .Because all you need to do is just work hard. That was my concept in my head. So there was always that. 

Megan Porta: Can I throw in a question here that I think would be helpful for listeners? If there’s somebody who is currently in the shoes that you were in, where you’re trying to divide your life and do both things, getting up at 4:00 AM just to fit it all in. What advice do you have for them? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: You have to decide if this is going to be your job. If you’re going to leave your job, I put in the same exact effort that I was putting into the other job, with the blog. So for us, we already knew that we’re going to be successful because we’re getting traffic already. At the time in 2019 or 18, even we were already qualified for an ad network. We just didn’t have an ad network on our website, because like I said before, we didn’t believe in adding ads to our website until we updated it completely. So at that time I knew we could make some money. It’ll cover enough for life. But I also knew that if we made this plan researching everything, I worked just as hard for them to be successful. So it’s almost like giving yourself permission to dream big and knowing that if you work hard, that you’re going to get the results.

Megan Porta: I like that. Giving yourself permission to dream big and also just making the decision. Because when you’re waffling about something, when you’re on the fence about anything, you’re never going to go all in. You’re just going to be like maybe this smell, maybe not. But when you just decide, then you have to, you have no other choice, you’re in.

Natalya Drozhzhin: Also, I had a lot of mom guilt too. Because when you were working at 4am, we had a set of deals, come and take them to school. So when they would come back from school, I was already home for my job. But at the same time, in the afternoons, I would be working on the blog because it truly, it was my passion. I loved what I was doing with the blog. It was like me working full-time plus doing this. I knew it was not doing a good job anywhere because I was just pulling myself too thin. So knowing that I can have this opportunity by putting in all this energy and then still having the balance or seeing my kids in the afternoons or on the weekends. It was just the best thing for our family. 

Megan Porta: The mom’s guilt is so real. I still even feel it sometimes, even though I feel like I have a really good balance. We do pretty good. I always tell my boys, you guys are actually really lucky that I have been able to be here for you after school, even though I’m working most days in the basement doing, I’m here. Most parents are not, and they’re always like, mom, get off your computer. I’m like, you have no idea. This is a huge blessing. I know that they’ll understand that someday. But when they say that I still feel those twinges of mom guilt. It never fully goes away. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: For sure. Yesterday I was driving with my younger son to a soccer game and I was talking to him. Can you imagine getting up at 4am? You have to get ready. It takes some time. I still put myself together most days, but still it’s not the same type of get ready to go to a corporate job. Then you drive. The amount of time that you spend working. I was breaking it down to him, how long it takes to actually work. So if you’re working 40 hours a week, you’re really spending 60 hours a week on work. So we have that flexibility at home to do that, at any time of the day, which is incredible right now.

Megan Porta: Yes, that’s so true. I remember as a kid, when I was my boy’s age, I spent a lot of time home alone, just listening to the radio and watching TV, waiting for my mom to get off of work. So it’s a huge blessing that we are able to be here for our kids, for the most part. I would like to hear, because I know your husband has joined you. So I would love to hear about that. When did he make that decision to come over and help you full-time and how did that all go? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: So my husband is the tech savvy guy in our business. I think we’re lucky because I do the recipe development and he does all the website stuff. Pretty much anything that you need to Google, he will know it. He’s super smart in all those aspects. So we are lucky there and in 2021. I keep on thinking I still have 2020. Thank God that year is over. 

Megan Porta: Time warp. The COVID time warp. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: So in 2021, earlier in the year, we decided that he’s going to leave his job. So this was during the process when we moved. So it was earlier this year, but he was very involved. So it was also the same thing, where he was working at the other job. He was actually working from home starting 2020, or actually late 2019. So he’s working from home, but the balance between two jobs and Mom’s Dish was keeping him quite busy because we were relaunching everything. We knew that at some point where we made enough money with the blog, we’ll have the permission pretty much for him to leave. It was scary because he had health insurance, he was running a big corporation online. So he had a very successful career. I’m like, are we doing the right thing? You almost double question everything. It was scary, but at the same time, it was the best thing we have done because I knew we were also sacrificing that time with kids. Because I would be doing the sports. He was busy, then I would be helping out with boys all the time and doing all those little things. Now he’s way more involved. They just have a great bond and I think it’s a good outcome. 

Megan Porta: So you feel like him coming full-time with you has actually increased her family bond. Is that what you’re saying? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: For sure, because he is no longer pulled between. He can also focus more on one thing and we can actually, instead of burning bridges, we’re like trying to fix the little things that are dying. He’s actually working on new things that are starting to grow. So it’s just really exciting with the blog, I think we’ll see the benefits of it in the future. He’s working with the blog right now. 

Megan Porta: You’re planting the seeds right now. You’ll see them grow later. I love that so much. I love stories about husbands who come on board with their wives and just have total faith in them and know their businesses are strong and going to thrive. Then it works out, I just love that. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Some people say to him, how does it feel like working for your wife? We never feel that way. It’s never been like that since day one, because he’s the one who created the blog. He’s the one who developed everything. So in our situation, he doesn’t work for me. A lot of bloggers will bring their husbands in because they do have the stability to bring them in. But oftentimes husbands come in and they don’t know where they would fit in. He already had a place in a blog. He’s the one who was the biggest part of the blog. I’m just the creative side. So we have a great partnership in that sense. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so great. Can you talk us through some of your, maybe low points in your two year journey so far, being full time? What are some of those lowest points that you guys have experienced? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: The biggest challenge right now, especially in the last few weeks we’ve been talking about it quite a bit. The burnout is real. I have been hearing a lot of bloggers also talking about mental health in the last year or so, because we do work together and it’s constant. We’re trying to have more intentional time together, where we don’t talk about the blog. Cause we’re constantly working and working till midnight and you never know when to stop. Because you’re like, I can do this and this will happen. So that’s the biggest challenge, especially if you’re working together and we do have that partnership, it’s really hard to know when to stop right now.

Megan Porta: Do you guys set hard, fast rules for yourselves? We’re done by a certain time or anything like that? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: No. No. Our biggest thing right now, I think with the balance, is we travel. So we plan quite a bit of trips. We traveled about three months out of the year. Even during the 2020, 2021, when we managed to figure out a way to travel. It’s been a great thing for our family, for us to be able to unplug. Our next summer plan is to go to Europe for the whole summer. So that’s gonna be really great for our family. That’s one thing that really helps me to look forward to those things. But I do think we need to get better about the balance, day-to-day balance.

Megan Porta: How do you handle vacation? How do you handle traveling? Do you work while you’re traveling or do you shut it down while you’re on the road or out exploring? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: We do very little work. We still do work because we do have a team right now. We communicate with them. Maybe this is completely off topic, but we have Monday meetings with our team. So we still would do that because we still want the blog to continue having the active life behind this. Besides that, we are not creating new projects. We’re just making sure everything’s running smoothly, but it’s very little work, a few hours a day.

Megan Porta: This is a struggle for me. I still have a hard time with this. So we just went on vacation last week for the whole week. Even though I had everything done, everything was scheduled. I had everything under control. My VA was taking care of loose ends where needed. I still mentally, I couldn’t fully detach. I was thinking, this is ridiculous. I have been doing this for 11 years. You can have a week off. Oh my gosh. It was just this mental battle. Do you ever experience things like that or is it just me? I do. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: I do, but at the same time, I’m very good about getting ahead with things. So I try to give myself permission. But the times that we do work we allow our boys to use electronics. They don’t use a lot of electronics. We have a policy in our family that they can only use it on the weekend, or if we’re traveling, we have some downtime so they can play their games. If they are having fun, they don’t mind us workin., but I want them not to feel like, hey, we went on this trip and mom was still working. I would hate for them to have that image or that impression of us. 

Megan Porta: No, I totally agree. I’ve worked very minimally when we’re on vacation. I’ll maybe go into email like once a day, just to make sure it doesn’t build up crazily. But I noticed that when I do that, I’ll be in there just for a few minutes and my boys will be like, mom, why are you working? I’m like, whoa. This is two minutes of my day. Back off. I am with you. I hate to think that they have this image of me working while we’re on vacation. So I think that keeps me from really digging in. But it’s always good to hear how other people manage that and also how they mentally manage it, because I need to work on that. That is a real struggle for me. I just feel guilty about it. Why am I still struggling with this? Why can’t I just let it go? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: I think I hear across the board, it’s very common for everybody. I think it’s almost impossible to have that balance to a point, but we have limitless success. The more you work, the more successful that you can be. So, at the same time, you’re like, oh, I can do this and this. There’s so many things you can do, a million things. I have a million ideas in my head. So you could just never want to stop working. But stopping yourself and realizing that hey, it’s okay. 

Megan Porta: Just giving yourself permission to stop and enjoy life and enjoy your family fully once in a while, I think is really important. What are some of the other lows you guys have experienced? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: So this last summer, just a little backstory. When I left my job, we had amazing growth with Google. Every update, we had a benefit from it and we just kept growing and growing. We felt like we were just doubling our numbers every year pretty much or more than doubling. I think we had 400% growth in 2020. 

Megan Porta: Good for you guys. That’s amazing. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: We had amazing growth. And then the 2021 summer update really hit us. It was painful because I think every time you get hit with something like that, you feel almost discouraged. 

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Natalya Drozhzhin: So at some point, we’re like men, we’ve been doing all of these things and we’ve been doing the same pattern. Why did this hit us? What is happening? So it was hard because we were expecting this 400% growth again this year, but we’re not experiencing that. So it was challenging. Every morning we would get up, we’d see that it was dropping, the traffic was dropping. So I think it was like 30%. We’ve recovered the majority of it, we knew what the issue was, having Tim on our team. So I guess my biggest suggestion would be if you don’t have somebody like my husband on your team, hiring some good developer that’s in-house, that’s really helpful. I think that was our biggest benefit, having him on our team and being able to dive in deep, right away and stop what was happening. It was really helpful for us. Although it did take about three months to recover back up. 

Megan Porta: So what was your mindset going through that? Because I know pretty much anyone listening has probably been through something like that, where just overnight they’ve seen a drop in traffic on some platform and it’s hard. It is so hard to recover from that. So what was your mindset as you were going through it and what mindset pulled you out of it? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: It was really hard because now we have a team of people we’re financially responsible for. My biggest thing as a business owner right now, I never want to fire people. I want to make sure we hired the right people for the team. We never want to fire somebody unless they’re doing a terrible job. Being financially responsible for somebody else was the first thing on my mind. I was like, what are we going to do? What if this all dies tomorrow? Because it kept on dropping every day, I wouldn’t get up. I knew we’re not going to lose everything. But the drastic drops that we saw every day were just scary. So I was like, okay, How do we do this? But our main thing was that we have a year of salary saved for our employees in a savings account. Just a case of something happening. That way we always had job security for them. So I knew that’s going to be okay financially. We can still support our team. If we keep working hard, it’s going to recover back up. Then it actually kicked us, but in a good way. We started being more organized. We got better systems in place and we just started producing better content. 

Megan Porta: So it really propelled you to think differently and to think about your business differently and do new things and different things, which is great. Did you diversify in any way after that? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Let me go back a little bit to your product question, because I feel like I didn’t answer you fully. Also, having a skilled developer on our end and talking and communicating and Tim explained to me this is not a bad thing. We can fix this. We’re going to recover in three months and we did recover in three months. So having a skilled person was reassuring. So I think that helped that. During the process, it was hard. About diversifying. We decided we’re actually going to create a second blog. So it did encourage us to think about different avenues of what we’re gonna do. We are focused more on the YouTube channel right now. Although moving cross country, it quite interrupted our videos. But at the same time, we’re trying to focus and use a channel. We’re in the process of creating a second blog. 

Megan Porta: Oh. So where did the second blog come from? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: The second blog was an idea we still had a year ago. But that was just okay, we really got to do this. What are the steps that we’re taking to do it? So we started developing the second blog. 

Megan Porta: That’s exciting. I’ve heard more and more bloggers considering that and doing that. So it is always something that intrigues me, but I need to reign myself in because I don’t know that I could handle that, but good for you guys. That’s exciting. Is it a totally separate niche? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: It’s similar to what we’re interested in. We’re not sharing a URL yet because we’ll have at least 50 recipes before we go live. It’s part of our strategy. But it’s something we’re passionate about, but it’s very niched down.

Megan Porta: Okay. Very good. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: We’re really excited. Maybe I can share about it next time we come on board, but it really helped us to get organized. We have an Air Table, I don’t know if you’ve heard of it. We’re super organized in Air Table. We have a lot of like automations in there. It really helped us to get organized, create systems in place. So I think the second blog will not feel overwhelming because everything is not in our head, but it’s in Air Table. 

Megan Porta: Okay. I know Natalya, I know that you guys are just killing it with the retreats you’ve been doing. I know COVID probably dampened that a little bit. But are you back up and running with retreats and how are those going? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Let me explain my reasoning for the retreats. In 2018, when I came on board in blogging, I knew nothing. Like I just did not know where to start. What are we supposed to do? I had some friends in the community and one of the friends that was very successful, she said, I know of bloggers doing retreats. I was like, okay. If I plan a retreat and do all the hard work, I can invite people and I can learn from them. So I was willing to put in all the work for the retreat, that way I can create a community. We have started, we did the first one, I believe 2019. Then ever since then, I think we have done seven retreats, so far, maybe six. Maybe I might be planning my sixth one. So we have two different retreats. I’m planning one retreat that’s more very organized and very professional. We went overboard, last time we ordered a limo. A Chef came into the house, all that stuff. So the other retreat is more our closer friends that are blogging with their spouses. I’m very passionate about couples that blog together. So that was my initial retreat that I created. So I found couples in the community that blog together. So I invited a few couples. We just became great friends. So we grill together. We cook together. We just hang out as friends. At the same time, we have something in common, which is a blog. So we do that one once a year. Then the other one I’m doing with a friend once a year as well. So I personally have planned two retreats a year. 

Megan Porta: That is so great. I hosted one in the fall of this year, 2021. It was amazing. Honestly, like not a ton of work went into it. I found a good place, found the right people to come, and got some good food. Those were like the necessary ingredients. That was it. So do you have any takeaways that you’ve learned from planning so many retreats? What main advice would you give to the rest of us?

Natalya Drozhzhin: So I think one of the biggest things, people get overwhelmed by a retreat. The idea of it. It’s actually really simple. That’s my strategy for life in general. If you can simplify something to the simplest thing possible, it’s really possible to retreat and it’s effortless. People in the group are so thankful. They’re so willing to help. We usually find one sponsor or two sponsors to sponsor the entire retreat. So there is no cost to the blogger to come, for the house or the food. We usually get somebody to sponsor that. Then they cover their travel costs. Then the rest of it would just put ideas together. We have a Facebook group, we put ideas together and we create a schedule and talk about those topics. Sometimes when it’s a large group, you have to bring everybody together and be like, okay guys. Let’s get together and talk about this and interrupt, like some conversations. It just depends on the group, but you can really simplify it and make it really great.

Megan Porta: So do you do mastermind style where you just let the conversation flow freely and let each person bring something specific to the table? Or do you ever do, we are going to focus on video or we’re going to focus on photography or anything like that. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: So one specific retreat, we don’t do just one topic. We talk about everything. Oftentimes we do an icebreaker and everybody shares what’s been successful for them. What’s been going really well for them. Then we dive into different topics. So sometimes you’ll see, Hey, this blogger is strong on YouTube. I really want you to share. Then knowing that we like just setting up our Air Table is such a great way, then we have somebody else share about that. So finding somebody who specializes in and talking about those topics and then other people can add to it or ask questions. So it’s super casual. That’s why I say it’s not really hard to find them because we don’t have a keynote speaker. We don’t really have anybody that specializes because I think we’re the best experts, we do this every day. 

Megan Porta: You can get your hands on everything really easily. So if somebody, like you said, has expertise in YouTube, you can just sit right at their computer and watch exactly what they do. We were talking at our recent retreat about how it’s actually more valuable doing that as opposed to going to a conference. Conferences are amazing. I’m not going to say they’re not. But you can get right in there and you can ask questions, whereas at a conference, if you’re just listening to somebody speak on stage, you can’t raise your hand and stop them. It’s just a very hands-on experience that is unlike any other. I feel like it’s one of the most valuable things you can actually do to learn.

Natalya Drozhzhin: Having the same group return every year or every retreat is very valuable as well, because then you can say, Hey, we talked about this last time and this is what happened. Then things like that’s been really helpful for us, is having the same group. This is a more casual style, but that’s why it works. The retreat environment, we create a Google doc where everybody is invited to, and we just take notes on that Google doc, the whole entire retreat. Then when we come home, we have combined notes because it’s not just what if I step away to the bathroom and I miss something, but everything’s in this Google doc. Or I go get a snack but everything’s there. So to have all of our information that we learned from the retreat and come back home and actually do those things. 

Megan Porta: I’m so glad you touched on retreats because I think it’s something that food bloggers don’t always think to do. It goes under the radar, but there’s so much power in it. Just getting a small group of like-minded peers together to really learn. So that brings me to another question. What do you feel like is the magic number of people to get together for a retreat? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: I personally think anything over 10 is too much. So if you can go under 10 people is a good number because then everybody will feel inclusive. People don’t split up into small groups, everybody stays together. When you go over ten, I feel like at that point, there’s little groups forming, it’s harder to have that connection when it’s a large group. So while we’ve been planning so many retreats, people want to get invited and it’s really hard to say no. Then people feel like I’m not inviting them just because I don’t like them. I love everybody. It’s hard to invite more people into the group, but once you have this magic number, it’s really hard to grow that group of people, because then it’s not the same. It’s no longer a personal retreat.

Megan Porta: Do you have any other tips for retreats specifically? 

Natalya Drozhzhin: I would say if you’re going to be planning a retreat, find the location that’s convenient, close to the airport. Find a place that has a fun food scene, maybe to get out one of the nights to go to the restaurant. A lot of the time bloggers are afraid to ask for a sponsor to sponsor the retreat. This last retreat, we were planning we had seven brands we’re fighting for. We’d make it exclusive. So we would just say, Hey, first come, first serve. We want this deal for everyone. We just are going to take one or two brands to work with because we don’t want it to be about brands. So that’s our other thing is that we don’t want it to be so much of a sponsor. So we pick one or two sponsors and we try to focus on that one brand and the brand loves it because there’s so much exposure for them, but at the same time, it’s just an amazing opportunity all around. It’s a win-win for bloggers and it’s a win-win for the brand as well. 

Megan Porta: So don’t be afraid to reach out and ask because most likely people want their brand to be associated with a solid group of awesome food bloggers. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: For sure. Especially if you have been working with the brand for awhile and you have a great relationship and explaining what you’re doing. We don’t, for example, when we work with brands, we don’t set numbers or expectations or anything. We get on the call with them, explain, Hey, we can’t require every blogger to do this and we don’t put it in a contract, like nobody’s required to do anything. But this is going to be your opportunity. We’re going to encourage it, but nobody’s going to be required to do anything. A lot of the time brands would be cautious about the same time, they have to really trust you that you’re the right person to work with. 

Megan Porta: Do you foresee yourself continuing with the retreats going forward?

Natalya Drozhzhin: For sure. I think that’s where we learned the most. That’s where we grew the most. That’s where I created a lot of connections. I have the best friends in the community because of it. It’s not hard. People oftentimes reach out to me like that want to be invited and they ask. I always say, Hey, if you want to plan a retreat and I’m going to say this on here, if you ever want to plan a retreat, reach out,I can give you the tools, I can help you out. I’m not going to charge you for my information. Free of cost. It’s so easy. I want everybody to create their community, to create their little bubble of people, because it’s so helpful to have that mastermind of people, a group of people that you can connect with. 

Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, there’s so much power in that. I can’t even say that enough. That was a very generous offer. So if you guys want to reach out to Natalya, that would be a great way to learn about retreats and get those key takeaways for what you need to do. So thank you for doing that Natalya. So in the general scope of just transforming into a full-time food blogger, do you have any last takeaways, last bits of advice for people who are on the fence or considering it in the near future?

Natalya Drozhzhin: If you can see yourself working just as passionately as if you were at your other job and you’re learning the tools, you’re open in the community, for sure. I think there’s a lot of great opportunities if you can put in an energy to it. Also getting a team that will help you out. There’s so many tools. So our thing with our blog, I think the reason why we grew the way we did is because we didn’t hire out. We had high expenses at the beginning of it all. It was just pretty much spending everything we’re making because we’re hiring so many people to help us grow the blog. Oftentimes bloggers hold on to that. They’re like, oh, I don’t really want to do this. Or I don’t want to get a good hosting company. If you don’t get a good hosting company, your blog can get hurt eventually. Or if you didn’t get a good developer, It’s just like any other business, think about restaurant business. How much investment they have to put into a restaurant before the restaurant starts up. Same thing here. If you treat it like a business, it will be a business. If you don’t, I don’t think it will grow if you don’t treat it like a business. It’s really hard to grow it into a business, especially right now. It’s so competitive. 

Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so true. I think that is one of the things that gets missed, especially if you’re like me and you’ve started a long time ago and it was a hobby. You just carry that mindset with you. There has to be a point where you just decide that it’s a business and then once you make that decision to start treating it that way, then things start to transform. This has been such a great chat, Natalya. Thank you so much for coming back for your second interview. I had so much fun chatting with you. Is there anything you would like to leave us with as far as another favorite quote or words of inspiration for food bloggers?

Natalya Drozhzhin: This year, good enough has been my quote. Because not everything can be perfect. So it sounds horrible, like I’m doing a mediocre job, but I don’t think I am. But sometimes we’re so hard on ourselves to make everything, so being reminded that good enough is also good enough. 

Megan Porta: Oh, I think we all need to hear that because we do get in that mindset of it’s not perfect. Is that okay to publish? Is it okay to put my video out there? So great message to end on. Now, if people want to get a hold of you to talk about retreats or anything else, is there a place they can go and also share your social media handles and website with us.

Natalya Drozhzhin: I think the best way to reach out to me personally would be the Instagram page, Mom’s Dish. We do have Facebook, email. I don’t know if I want to post an email, but I think the best way to connect would be Instagram. But as well, reach out through the contact page on the blog. It’ll go to me as well. But we do have team members that will point that out to me as well if it comes through other sources.

Megan Porta: Your site is momsdish.com. Correct?

Natalya Drozhzhin: Correct.

Megan Porta: Okay, so everyone go check out Natalya there. We will put together a show notes page for you too. So if you want to check those out you can go to eatblogtalk.com/moms dish2. So thank you again for being here, Natalya. It was such a pleasure to chat with you today. Thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time. 

Natalya Drozhzhin: Thank you for having me.

Outro: 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 eatblogtalk.com. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll be here to feed you on Eat Blog Talk. .


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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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