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Episode 087: Working With Contributors With Jessica Formicola

In episode 087 we talk with Jessica Formicola, blogger at Savory Experiments, about why she began to partner with contributors for her site and how she was able to make that a success for both her business and the contributor.

We cover information about how to select a contributor that makes a good fit for your business, how to organize yourself ahead of time contributors find it easy to send their work in and how to go about finding a blog to contribute to as well.

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


Guest Details

Connect with Savory Experiments
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
Savory Experiments is a food blog that Jessica started as a hobby but is now a full time career. In her prior career she was a psychotherapist and you’ll see hints of self-care and mental well being in parts of her writing. Now Jessica likes creating recipes that bring people together, make people happy and teach people to enjoy creating something in the kitchen instead of it being a chore. Jessica collaborates with large National Food Brands, appear on local television and is currently working with a literary agent and talent agent to expand her business to print and national television.

Takeaways

  • When you need to free up time and delegate things to others so you are able to focus on specific parts of your business, a contributor is an option.

  • If you need more back links and content creation and or need to grow social media, contributors can be an asset.

  • Jessica’s goal is to have a full content calendar with 2-3 recipes published a week. One of those is from a contributor. She works with 4-6 contributors at a time.

  • When looking for an applicant, you don’t want someone to sound just like you. You can share similar views and they should fit the aesthetic of the blog with what they believe and they’re style.

  • Create a Google doc with what you’re searching for in a contributor and post it in a food blogging forum. Ask the participants to share what blog they have as well as 3 posts they are proud of. What is their motivation is for being a contributor (backlinks, blog coaching, Pinterest growth, payment)helps you sort through the group as well.

  • Pay rate for contributors can include backlinks and payment for a post without backlinks.

  • Monthly, Jessica puts up what content she is in need of on her Facebook group where the contributors can select what they can put content together and submit back to the site within a month.

  • Look at some of your favorite blogs and see if they have contributors already. Some blogs have never thought about it before so it can’t hurt to ask. 

  • Be sure to find a blog that’s a good fit for your style of content creation and share with the blogger what makes you two a good fit (content, ingredients, photography)
  • Contributors submit 5 pictures for each piece.

References Mentioned

Contributor Contract Example

Contributor Application Example

You can reach Jessica at [email protected]


Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro (00:01):

Welcome to Eat Blog Talk where food bloggers come to get their fill of the latest tips, tricks, and insights into the world of food blogging. If you feel that hunger for information, we’ll provide you with the tools you need to add value to your blog, and we’ll also ensure you’re taking care of yourself because food blogging is a demanding job. Now, please welcome your host, Megan Porta.

Megan Porta  (00:25):

Food bloggers. Don’t forget to check out the food blogging forum style community that we started over at forum.eatblogtalk.com. Finally, there is one place that we can all convene and talk and that isn’t scattered all over Facebook. Here are the things that I am loving about it. It is free. It also allows for categorized discussions on all food blogging topics, and there’s a category for sharing successes, AKA self promotion. So no more holding back about discussing your big wins and things that you’re promoting. Also, everything is in one single spot. So no hopping around from group to group, and there’s an amazing opportunity to network and really get to know your fellow food bloggers in a single place. So come join the discussions that are going on over forum.eatblogtalk.com. I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Don’t forget. Forum.eatblogtalk.com.

(01:31):

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Megan Porta (02:20):

What’s up food bloggers. Welcome to Eat Blog Talk, the podcast made for you food bloggers, seeking value for your businesses and your lives. Today, I will be talking to Jessica Formicola from savoryexperiments.com. And we will be talking about working with contributors as food bloggers. Savory Experiments as a food blog that Jessica started as a hobby, but is now a full-time career. In her prior career, she was a psychotherapist and you’ll see hints of self-care and mental wellbeing in parts of her writing. Now Jessica likes creating recipes that bring people together, make people happy and also teach people to enjoy creating something in the kitchen instead of it being a chore. Jessica collaborates with large national food brands, appears on local television and is currently working with a literary agent and talent agent to expand her business to print and national television. Jessica, that’s all so awesome. I’m really excited to talk about this topic today with you, but first will you give us a fun fact about yourself?

Jessica Formicola (03:23):

Well, my usual fun fact is that I was once bit by a monkey in Venezuela, but given the current climate of things, that’s not nearly as funny as it used to be. So my new fun fact is that I broke my tailbone and I actually had to have it removed. So I’m missing the lower part of my back.

Megan  (03:42):

Oh my goodness. I’ve never heard of, I mean, I’ve heard of tailbone injuries, but having it removed, has that helped? I mean?

Jessica (03:51):

Yeah. Very, very much so. Yeah. Yeah, it was, it was tremendously painful and it had broken completely off instead of just cracked. My quality of life was not good. So I was actually excited to have surgery, to have it removed. Life has restored to almost normal. There’s a few yoga poses that I have trouble with when I’m balancing on what would be your tailbone. But other than that, I am back to full capacity.

Megan  (04:17):

Well, your monkey fact kind of made me giggle. I’m glad you touched on that. I have a story from college when I was in my dorm room. We had Christmas lights strung around our bunk beds and I was trying to get off my bunk bed and my feet got caught in the lights and I fell from my bunk onto the floor, butt first and I hurt my tailbone and it hurt for years. I mean probably a decade. It would come and go. So I can relate to that pain. I’m sure it’s not quite as bad as what you experienced, that sounds terrible, but I know that pain it’s awful.

Jessica (04:56):

It is, it’s pretty bad.

Megan  (04:56):

Wow. Well thank you for sharing all of that. That was fun. Talking about contributors, food bloggers are always on the lookout for new creative ways to expand their businesses and do new things. I think that’s really relevant today and this week, especially. I think that having contributors on our sites is a smart avenue to explore. So to start Jessica, talk to us about why blogs have contributors, just talk us through that.

Jessica (05:30):

I think that blogs had contributors for a long time, but the reason behind why we’ve had contributors has changed. Likewise, why people want to contribute. For me right now, my personal reason to add contributors was because, as a business, you need to learn where to delegate things and where to take things on as your own to grow. You can’t do everything and you can’t do it alone. And for me, I needed content creation. I needed more backlinks. I wanted to grow my social media, but I also am passionate about giving back. I found myself doing a lot of blog coaching and blog mentoring. Let me also say, I’m not the biggest blog out there. I think that I’m doing well and I’m doing good for the food blogging industry, but I’m also not one of the mega huge blogs, but I have the time to be able to help coach and mentor people.

(06:27):

And it was the smart business move for me to then also get something back in return for what I was giving out. As well as having more content creation, because I was having trouble keeping up with all of the SEO ideas that I needed to compete with other individuals online because I have kids and a life and I don’t work full-time so it made most sense to me to start adding contributors. I only started a couple of months ago, so it’s been interesting and it’s been a learning curve, but it’s going really well.

Megan  (07:04):

So as we grow our businesses, obviously more projects fall into our laps and we want to keep doing those extra projects and also diving into all of the aspects of food blogging. You talked about SEO and there’s so many other parts of it. So having a contributor to help you create content basically takes that part of it off your plate.

Jessica (07:27):

It does. It does. I still create some content. Don’t get me wrong. I love being in the kitchen and I love developing recipes, but it got to the point where my to make recipe list was way longer than the amount of time that I had to do it.

Megan  (07:41):

So what percentage would you say, are you creating your content versus what contributors are and what is your goal?

Jessica (07:48):

My goal is to have a full content calendar and that varies. Right now my contents being pulled back just because of what’s going on in the world. Generally I try to post two to three new posts per week. One of those is a contributor post. At any point in time, I have anywhere from four to six contributors. So I’d say about two thirds of what goes out is mine. One third of what goes out is contributor posts.

Megan  (08:18):

Okay. So let’s, let’s dig into this because this is kind of intriguing to me. I have such a hard time wrapping my head around how to find somebody who can talk like me. I think that’s one of my hangups. I see in the forums, people talking about this as well, it’s not easy to find somebody. Explaining that someone is a contributor on your site. They don’t necessarily need to be mimicking your voice, but you do want them to align with what your visions are and what you believe in too. So how do you go about doing that? And is it hard?

Jessica (08:56):

No, in fact, I would say it’s not hard at all. I am amazed when I put up my application or when I open my application for contributors, how many applications I get. There are so many people that want to contribute to quality blogs and all for different reasons. For instance, I actually just had the application open last week and I had to shut it off after 12 hours. I had 28 applicants.

Megan  (09:22):

Oh my gosh.

Jessica  (09:23):

So part of what you want to remember is that they’re not supposed to sound just like you. Of course, you want them to have similar views. You want them to fit the aesthetic of your blog and you want them to fit your all around philosophy. If you’re organic, you don’t want somebody that focuses on semi-homemade. If you’re vegan, you don’t want somebody that focuses on beef. But there’s so many bloggers out there that you’re bound to find somebody that fits with you at least 90%. You’re going to have to have some give and take.

Megan  (09:59):

That’s amazing that you had so many applicants. So where are you finding these people? If someone is interested in doing what you’re doing and what you’re digging into, how do they go about finding people to help?

Jessica (10:10):

It’s really easy. I just created a Google doc, like a Google application in Google docs. I posted it in just one of the food blogging forums and within 12 hours. I only posted it in one. I didn’t even post it in other places. It was kind of crazy. This happened the first time I did a call-out for contributors as well. I think I shut it off when I only had 12, but it was because I was only looking for three and I found five in the 12th that applied that would be a good fit.

Megan  (10:46):

How did you sort through them? What sorts of things did you look for and how did you weed people out?

Jessica (10:51):

So I asked for several things, I asked for your name, I asked for your blog, and then I ask you to give me three posts you’re proud of, because let’s be honest, we have a few things on our blog that if you clicked on my blog and found some of my older posts just randomly, wouldn’t be too proud of them. So I asked them what they wanted me to look at. Then I asked them what their motivation is for wanting to be a contributor. It’s a multiple choice answer. So backlinks, blog coaching, and mentoring, Pinterest growth, which right now is also completely chaotic and wild, but Pinterest growth, payments, because there is a payment option and I can touch on that in a minute, but I’m really looking for people that are looking for SEO growth and backlinks.

(11:39):

And it’s not because I’m trying to be stingy and not pay people, it’s because I know that those are the people that get it. Those are the people that are like-minded, that understand that blogging is moving away from social media. Not that it’s not important and not that we don’t have to have it. Not that it’s still not a connection, but I think we’re all experiencing this push to improve on our SEO because that and our email lists are going to be what we have control over somewhat. What we can do to expand our businesses further when social media platforms just keep…

Megan  (12:19):

Throwing curve balls.

Jessica (12:20):

Throwing curve balls and limiting the number of people that see our posts and our information and all of this stuff, at least we know we can work on SEO and see some real changes.

Megan  (12:31):

I think that’s really smart that you pinpoint the people who are looking for those things specifically, knowing that those are the people that just get it and they’re not doing it for any other reason, but you know that they understand where you’re coming from. Your motivation for wanting to be a contributor is really important. So in looking for that upfront, I think it is really good. Then also the three posts you’re proud of, that’s brilliant too. Because if you just randomly go into somebody’s site and look through whatever content you land on, it could be something that they’re really not proud of because we all have that content, right?

Jessica (13:08):

It might not even be old content. Last week, I randomly just on a whim, shot ranch butter, cause I was making it and it was not my pride and joy, but it’s there. So I think that’s important and any business and any manager of people, I know this from my prior life when I was a psychotherapist, was actually the director of a psychiatric department at a hospital, and I managed a team of people and nurses and therapists and doctors. And in order for it to work, you have to build a good team and you could teach people how to do stuff, but they need to have a good personality, good motivation and at least a basic grasp of getting it. I offer blog coaching, but I’m not going to start at square one of how to start a blog. I need you to at least have the foundations in place.

Megan  (14:00):

Even as we write, the first thing that came to my mind was kind of robotic, even as robotic as our writing has become with blogging recently, because of all of the Google changes, you can still tell so much about somebody through their writing. Even when it is more just fact based, and I think that’s a really good place to start with just telling if someone is sincere and kind of what their motivation is. So that’s a great point. You did touch on the pay rate a little bit. Can you talk to us about that? What does a typical pay rate range for contributors?

Jessica (14:40):

So for my contributors, it’s set up that they have two options. The first option is that they get backlinks. In that they give one post to me and they get two backlinks and the backlinks don’t necessarily have to correlate with the topic of the post. I can also touch on how they get the topic of the post, because that’s part of our monthly logistics. They give me two backlinks that they need kind of Google juice on, that they need the amp and that might not be the post that they gave me. So I’ll find someplace else within my blog to place those links. They also get some posts on my Facebook page. They get a couple of pins of their choice to go out through my Tailwind board groups. They get Instagram stories and I’ll tag them in them.

(15:26):

They’ll get a couple of other things. But the real thing that they want is the back links. So the payment is the second option. And honestly, I accept that they have the option to do one to three posts per month. I’ve never had anybody do three. I have had people do two and they’ve done the first one for links and they’ve done the second one for payment. And I give them the option to change that monthly. This month, people might need the payment more than they need the backlinks. I’m okay doing that. Some blogs don’t even offer payment. In fact, two of the contributorships that I’ve been apart of, payment wasn’t even an option. It was backlinks or nothing. And some of them I know from other blogs go up to $150 to $200 for a post. I offer a hundred.

(16:15):

I used to offer 75. I’ve upped it to a hundred. The way that I got to that number was because that’s what I’ve paid freelancers to write posts for me. So I figure I’ll offer the same amount, but if you do that, you don’t get do follow links in the post or anywhere else. You know, you don’t want to anger the Google gods. And I know that there is some discussion among people who have contributors about whether it is considered a violation of Google to give payment and backlinks. But to me it feels exactly like a sponsored post. That means that if I did give you back links, they’re going to be no follow. And it doesn’t mean that no follow links aren’t important. It just means that it’s not as powerful or impactful as a do follow.

Megan  (17:05):

That makes sense. I think that’s a really good and smart way to go about it because backlinks and social attention are so valuable to bloggers. But I also like that you offer money too, because there are going to be times, like right now, when money might be a little bit more valuable than the back links. I also liked that you brought up Google violation and whether or not Google sees this as kind of a strike against you. If you’re doing that, it’s just something to think about. I don’t really know what my thoughts are on that, but it’s at least something to have in your mind if you’re launching into being a contributor or hiring a contributor too.

Jessica (17:46):

It is. And I have some good friends that offer links and payment. I’m very upfront with my contributors about it. Listen, you might be able to go to other blogs and they’ll do this, but I’m not taking my chance at this. So that’s where we are. In my eyes, the amount of time that I spend helping them with coaching is more valuable than a hundred bucks I’d send them for a blog post. Because I do help them out a lot. All the little 15 minutes here and there of, can you look at this? Can you give me advice on this? And I’ll jump on Google chat with them and go through their SEMRush analytics and we’ll look for keywords and you know, I’ll show them how I do things. I’m very transparent and very candid. I don’t want anything to be shady or a secret.

 (18:32):

I want them to succeed. It’s all part of giving back and developing a good tribe. In fact, I also allow them to syndicate to their own blogs, if they choose backlinks. So they can syndicate to their own blogs 60 days after they post on mine. In that syndication, there’s also a link back to me, you know? So Google knows that this is where the original content was and that there is a contributor, you know, canonical tag, can’t say that word this morning apparently. If they start having a better page authority and a better Google score, that just helps my backlinks too.

Megan  (19:10):

Yeah, absolutely. So how do you land on a topic and offer that to them? Do you let them contribute to that conversation? Or how does that go?

Jessica (19:20):

Yes and no. So for my blog, I have a Facebook group for my contributors where we discuss things, if I find something interesting or an article. I’m very database. So if I find something that’s working that I’ve been studying, I’ll put it there. But I also on the first of the month, post a list of recipe topics that I need, because again, this is a business and I know what I need for my SEO purposes. What sweet spot I have for keyword research and volume, or if I just need some cornerstone content to round things out or to supplement another post. So I post about 15 to 20 different recipes that I need. They then comment on that post of which one that they want to take. So there’s always plenty to go around. Some of them are, you know, more interesting than others.

(20:09):

Then I send them an email. If it had any parameters, say, I need this chicken to be an Instapot chicken or a slow cooker chicken, or what I need is I need this recipe to definitely include cream cheese because that’s where I’m going to rank. Plus any kind of visions I have. If they have a recipe topic that they want to pitch to me, they can send it and then I’ll do the keyword research and decide if it’s something that would round me out or not. Sometimes it doesn’t. For this month I had one contributor pick cannoli dip and she emailed me saying, Hey, can I do it key lime? And I said, no, it’s really not going to fit what I’ve got going on, but this would be an excellent thing for you to do about shot. You know, you can then take your canola dip you made for me, make it into key lime, shoot it. And now you’ve got two recipes instead of one.

Megan  (20:56):

I love that. Thinking through it a little bit and getting the most out of it. What a smart idea to, to just create a Facebook group where people can just contribute there and bounce ideas back and forth, and you can let everyone know what page you’re on and what you’re thinking. That’s really smart as well. Let’s move on a little bit, looking at this from a different perspective. What if someone listening is interested in being a contributor on a site, how do people in that situation find blogs to contribute to? Obviously people found you in a Facebook group, so that’s one way just to keep your eyes peeled. Is it okay to post in a Facebook group? Hey, I want to contribute! I have no idea. I know that some things just aren’t allowed, you can’t quote, promote yourself in a lot of those groups. Is that considered promoting or how does that work?

Jessica (21:49):

Well, I’m not sure. You know, I’ve never seen anybody say I’m looking for a contributorship, but I also don’t think that it wouldn’t be allowed. I don’t think it’s necessarily promoting. I think it’s just the same as somebody asking a question about how to grow and how to build and getting feedback. But you can also look at some of your favorite blogs. I’m amazed at how many of them have contributors. Generally, at least on my blog, like in the header menu, there’s a spot for contributors. It says meet the team. Because that’s what I look at them as. They’re my team, they’re my tribe. They’re all part of this bigger thing. So look on some of those blogs and see if they have them. Even if you don’t see a page for contributors or a team, you can always email and ask if they’re looking to add contributors to their site. Some people have just never even thought about it before. Oh, maybe that’s a good idea. You know, let’s test this out and see if it works.

Megan  (22:47):

I think a lot of bloggers don’t really see it as an option because you just get into a groove with creating your content and doing all the things. Then it just isn’t on our radar a lot of the time. But every once in a while I’ll land on a blog and find that page that you’re talking about, where I see, Meet The Team and you see all the contributors and Oh wow. There’s a lot of minds going into creating content for this blog. That’s so cool. It is such a good idea. So if you see a blog that you really admire, that’s another way to get on their radar. You can reach out to them, email them, find them on social media and just ask if they’re taking contributors. What are some other ways?

Jessica (23:28):

I think that’s the best way. I’m trying to think of any other ways but I’m not sure that there are. I also know of a lot of bloggers that have had contributors before and don’t need more just because they didn’t find people that were a good fit. So I guess my biggest piece of advice, if you’re looking for a blog to contribute to, is find a blog that’s a good fit. Not necessarily the biggest blog you can find, but a blog that’s a good fit. Also be able to tell that blogger what you’re able to offer them. Our photography styles are similar. Our writing styles, our recipes. I do a lot of Instapot. I see you have a lot of Instapot. I’ve had some people apply for my blog that were solely Indian food or baby food. That just doesn’t fit what my audience is looking for. So it wasn’t that they were bad bloggers or they had bad images. It was just that it’s not a good fit. Having a good fit is going to be the number one way to keep a contributor or to be accepted as a contributor.

Megan  (24:27):

Yeah. Those are great thoughts too. So talk us through some logistics because depending on how many contributors you have on your blog, I’d imagine this could potentially cause some headaches, just keeping track of everything, or is it not too bad? How do you manage and organize everything?

Jessica (24:43):

I don’t find it to be too bad. I know that some of my friends that have had contributors that have stopped having them found it to be more work than they did helpful. I think, again, that goes back to making sure you have a good team. If you’ve got people that you don’t have to heavily edit, then you’re better off. I also don’t have all of my contributors having access to my WordPress dash. So what I do is I put out that list of recipe topics on the first of the month. Instead of having different due dates throughout the month, based on my editorial calendar, all of the due dates say going out on April 1st, actually won’t be on the editorial calendar until may. Everybody’s content is due on May 1st. Your contributors sub sites, and they’d send out topics on the first and then you’d get an email saying, Hey, yours has to go live on the sixth. I need it by the fourth. I’m going, I don’t drop everything in my business because of your emergency. So I found that that gives people the most time to be able to plan ahead. It’s easier for me because I know all the contents going to be there on the first. And if it’s not, then we can figure something out and switch things around. But honestly, no one’s ever been late because they have a whole month to get it done.

Megan  (25:55):

Dropping everything and writing, preparing, and creating a post in a couple of days. I mean, it can happen, but it’s just not feasible and you’re not going to create the best content. So giving them time to actually do their best is really smart.

Jessica (26:08):

It is and they’re happy. Because happy contributors create better content than disgruntled contributors. So I have a Google folder for each one of them. What they do is they just drop their images and their posts in a word doc, the images are separate, but their post will just be in a regular word doc. They know the formatting, like Meta and I have pro tips throughout, but they just put it in a word doc and my assistant copies and paste that into WordPress and then formats it. So I don’t have to worry about the formatting being wrong. So I think that’s, again, one of the biggest gripes for people who have contributors is I do my best trying to tell people to do stuff, but then I end up having to do it twice. So if you just know you’re going to have to do it, then just do it once.

(26:54):

And it’s easier that way. It’s something my assistant could do cause she knows all the formatting. So it actually doesn’t fall onto my plate. They give me all of their images. I resize them, pop them into all of my templates and I insert them into the post where I see that they’d be best fit. It does take a little bit of time, but I’m still cutting out recipe creation. I’m still cutting out photographs. I’m still cutting out editing. I’m cutting out four or five hours worth of time for each of these recipes that I’m posting. And I am getting a back link in addition and content for all my social media. So I’m getting a lot for the amount of time that I would have been spending doing it on the other end. So, they put it all in that Google doc and that’s it for them.

(27:39):

I think that that’s also appealing for the contributor because they don’t have to do a ton of work. I know on contributor ships that I’ve been in, I’ve spent almost a whole day between creating, editing, writing, formatting, and finding all of the pieces that this blogger needed to be in. Going through their blog to find five like posts to put in the related posts. That’s all stuff my VA could do in two and three minutes. I let that happen there instead of making the contributor do it. So it’s not a huge time drain or energy drain on them either, but it is a little bit of work on our end.

Megan  (28:21):

Yeah. And it’s good that you have an assistant who can dig into it and just you feel comfortable, knowing that she knows all your formatting and what your preferences are. You’ve touched on photos too. I hadn’t thought of that, but obviously you gauge photography when you’re scoping out the contributor before they’re hired, just to make sure they’re on the same page that their photos look nice, but is there ever a time when photos are like, Ooh, I don’t feel like that should go on my site. If that has happened, what would you do about that?

Jessica (28:56):

I have not had that happen yet, but I’ve thought about it. I mean, when I’m doing the selection process, I look at the posts you sent me and other posts. Cause I figure if your worst photograph is the worst thing you can send to me, if it’s still somewhat suitable, workable, then we’re still in a good place. If it did happen, I’d probably ask somebody to reshoot. I doubt it would, or I might reshoot it myself. Sometimes it’s just a styling difference. Like in my head, I thought this was going to have a green garnish with sour cream and scallions and you didn’t do that. It might be a style difference more than a photography issue, but they’re all really eager to please too. And sometimes they’ll throw things by me or send me inspiration shots or ask me for an inspiration shot ahead of time.

(29:45):

I only ask for five images and in my own stuff, I’d probably put more into my posts, but again, I don’t want to be a complete time and energy drain on them. Some of my contributors send me more than that. There’ve been a couple of times where I’ve scaled it down or just one shot is the same picture just from three angles and that just didn’t work for me. I sent them a note and said, Hey, next month we just need more than three angles of the same image. So providing feedback isn’t only good for my blog, but it’s also good for theirs. If something was a complete no-go not fit, I just skip it for that month. We’d go back to the drawing board with them for a little bit of coaching.

(30:28):

I have enough content in my back pocket that that wouldn’t completely screw up my editorial schedule. All of my contracts with my contributors are only for three months.

Megan  (30:38):

That’s a good point too.

Jessica (30:38):

I figured that’s enough time where nobody feels like they’re locked in for a ridiculous amount of time. After three months, it’s month to month. I’ve never had anybody just pick up and leave. In fact, the only person that I’ve had leave was because she’s moving, like a long distance move out of the country. I have another one who’s working on an ebook. They’re all, there’s no bad blood there. But again, that goes back to picking a good team.

Megan  (31:05):

Right? And if somebody is looking for an opportunity to contribute on another site, they’re going to be eager to please, like you said, so they’re going to want to do their best work. They’re going to want to please you and make you happy and create the best content possible. That’s going to make your site look great. Then when we were talking about photos, I had this thought that having someone shoot maybe with a little bit of a different style, or like you mentioned using different props, maybe that’s not so bad. I mean, that can broaden your horizons because how often are we on other blogs? We see a photo styled in a certain way and we say, that’s so brilliant. I never would have thought of that. So it’s a really good way to just kind of add diversity to your blog too, which I think is really valuable.

Jessica (31:51):

Listen, I have two of my contributors that are way better photographers than I am. I am the first one to tell you that they create awesome, beautiful work. Not that the rest of them don’t, the rest of them shoot very similar to me. I’m pretty minimalistic. The two of them go above and beyond and I post it. I’m like people are going to be able to tell this is not my work, which is fine. I don’t like to hide that, their names are all over it, but still, it’s like this is too good to be me.

Megan  (32:19):

That’s great. No, I think that’s good though. It just adds a little flair of something to your blog.

Jessica (32:24):

Yeah, definitely. But I do look at that. If something’s way too fancy or dark and moody, that just doesn’t appeal with my audience and I’m into succeed and I also want them to succeed. Again, it’s not a bad thing. It’s not that anybody’s bad. It’s just not a good fit and it might not be. I have had a couple of times where I’ve had to edit images just to be a little bit lighter, add a little bit of brightness to them, just to fit the aesthetic so it doesn’t look completely different. But if all I have to do is adjust the brightness on a couple of photos..

Megan  (32:55):

Yeah. You’re still saving hours and hours. So I was thinking this might be a really good time to explore having contributors on our sites, don’t you think? With the unfolding coronavirus situation, we actually might want to get more creative about getting new information on our sites and also opening up time for us to do other things that our audience is wanting from us. So I think this is kind of an accidental timely conversation because I had not thought of this at all before we scheduled this chat. I think this might be a really relevant thing that food bloggers are going to be thinking more about doing.

Jessica (33:36):

Definitely. I was only gonna accept one new contributor and I actually hired a new one yesterday, which I’m really excited about joining our team. But I have a list, a wait list. So if anybody’s even looking at other blogs, be aware that they also might have a waitlist and that’s not a bad thing, especially when we’re only on a three month rolling contract. They might call you up next month or in two months. So if you’re adding contributors, I would say, be organized and have all your T’s crossed and I’s dotted before you ask for contributors. Know what you want and how you want to organize it, so that it’s not more work on your end.

Megan  (34:16):

I like your three month contract deal because three months is a really good timeframe for anyone, whether you’re a contributor or the blogger having contributors. I think that’s a really good place to start. Then doing month to month after that, I really liked that. Do you have any other tips before we start saying goodbye, that you think would be helpful for people? If they want to start looking into doing this?

Jessica (34:40):

I would say definitely have a Skype or Google chat interview with your potential contributors. Don’t just go through email. Having a personal touch and air quotes, meeting somebody, before they join your team, gives them a sense of relief because they actually get a sense of you and your personality, even if it’s just hearing your affect when you talk. But it also gives you a sense of what they’re looking for. And even the person that I talked to yesterday, she was so excited and just her energy made me excited to have her working with me. That personal touch is so important. It just goes back to creating a good team if you’re going to have a good business.

Megan  (35:17):

You can tell so much about an in-person chat, even if it’s on the phone, you don’t even have to really see their face. I mean, I can get a gauge for what kind of person you are just by talking to you here. Just like the spunk that you cannot gauge over email or texting. So I think that’s a very valid and smart thing to point out. Is there anything else that we’ve missed that you want to touch on?

Jessica (35:43):

I think that’s it. If anybody has any questions, they’re more than welcome to reach out to me, [email protected] I’m happy to answer questions or even share my templates with you. If you need templates for a contractor, an application, I’m more than happy to share all that.

Megan  (36:02):

That’s generous of you. We will probably link to some of that in your show notes, if you’re okay with that, Jessica. So, this was a really good chat. You definitely have my wheels turning. I’ve never considered having a contributor just because I always have felt like it’s too much work. It’s just like working with brands too, for me, it’s like, Nope, too much work. But you’ve kind of simplified it for me. You’ve presented it as maybe not being so much work and actually taking work off my plate.

Jessica (36:32):

And it’s fun. It’s just kind of fun to have your own tribe.

Megan  (36:36):

Yeah, absolutely. And to have a tribe. Right. So thank you for that perspective. I really appreciate all of this information and I know that food bloggers listening will as well. So thank you for being here and before you go, I would love it if you shared with us either a favorite quote or any words of inspiration you have for food bloggers.

Jessica (36:54):

Treat your blog like a business. That’s probably the biggest thing I can tell people and you’ve probably heard it before, but I think we all need to remind ourselves of that sometimes. That’s probably the number one reason people don’t have contributors is because they feel like it’s their personal journal, but it’s your business. Treat it as such.

Megan  (37:11):

That’s great advice. Thank you. And we mentioned Jessica’s show notes where we will have resources relating to everything we’ve talked about today. You can find those at eatblogtalk.com/savoryexperiments. Jessica already shared where you can find her online. Do you have a different Instagram handle or is there anything else you want to share about where people can find you?

Jessica (37:32):

If you go to Savoryexperiments.com, all of my social media is there as well as a contact page and my email. So I’m pretty easy to find.

Megan  (37:42):

Great. Well, thank you again, Jessica so much. And thanks for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro (37:53):

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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