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Episode 097: Managing The Daily Grind In Times Of Uncertainty With Suzy Karadsheh

In episode 097 we talk with Suzy Karadsheh of The Mediterranean Dish about working as an entrepreneur, and niche blogger during uncertain times when we can’t rely on what has always worked.

We cover being flexible and finding what works for you, learn how to pivot and figure out how to do business differently and be strategic so you can always look to the future for better times.

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 The Mediterranean Dish
Website | Instagram | Facebook

Bio
 Suzy Karadsheh is a true daughter of the Mediterranean. Born on the coast of Egypt in the bustling cosmopolitan city of Port Said, Suzy built her blog to become the #1 resource for Mediterranean recipes and the Mediterranean lifestyle! Her blog showcase modern Mediterranean recipes and lifestyle that she and her family enjoy and share with you.

Want to continue to improve on work-life balance?

Sarah and Laura talk to us about creating a routine with structure to be effective at being food bloggers that work towards success in episode 094.


Takeaways

  • Set up three buckets to get organized – Bucket #1 – what you have to do. Bucket #2 – what tasks you can pass off. Bucket #3 – which tasks have to be put on hold/addressed at a later time.
  • Dig into the WHY and WHO you’re serving. Clarity of purpose defined for you on paper helps! 
  • Day to day planning might be more realistic right now. Develop a pattern for your workflow. This will help you work your plan. 
  • You might not increase the number of posts you’re creating but pivot on what type of content to put out that’s helpful. Dig into your blogs and use some great existing content to post on Instagram or put in an email blast. 
  • Lean on your business partner, your spouse, your loved ones. They can give you perspective you don’t have on her own.
  • Build your community engagement! Brighten their day, interact with them.
  • Help yourself to remember this is a process; it’s messy and you’ll have to switch your routine as well as assess your priorities. 
  • Use this time to work on things that you think will serve your audience in the future and leave behind what wasn’t working.
  • Dive into analytics, take an online class and calculate what your next step is.
  • Your audience might ask for something and you can fulfill that with a physical product or a PDF. Take inventory of what your audience needs most and what they are asking for. Then do it well.

Transcript

Click for full text.

Intro:

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

Megan Porta:

Food bloggers. 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 at forum.eatblogtalk.com. And I hope you enjoy this as much as I do. Don’t forget. Forum.eatblogtalk.com.

Megan Porta:

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Megan Porta:

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 am so excited to talk to Suzy Karadsheh from themediterraneandish.com. And we are going to talk about the daily grind, how to manage stress and stay productive, particularly in times of uncertainty. Suzy is the creator behind The Mediterranean Dish, a food blog and online resource focused on easy wholesome recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. What started as a hobby blog just five years ago, it became a leading site for all things Mediterranean cooking and the Mediterranean lifestyle. And it has turned into a successful multi-faceted business, including a growing line of all-natural and organic products. I am super excited for our chat today, Suzy, but first give us a quick fun fact about yourself.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Uh, well, Hey Megan, I’m happy to be here. A fun fact. Well, I was born and raised in a Mediterranean cosmopolitan city, right in Egypt. So, that’s where The Mediterranean Dish comes from. So yeah.

Megan Porta:

Oh, well, so how long have you been in America?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Uh, so I was born and raised in Egypt. I probably moved to the States at age 18 to attend college in Michigan and I got married and kind of just stayed. So here I am.

Megan Porta:

So yeah, that provides a very good base for your theme and your website. So there’s authenticity there. I love it. Well, as you know, Suzy, we are in some uncertain times, currently some challenging times with all that’s going on around us. So I think this will be a really good topic to cover for food bloggers and influencers. So at the time we’re recording this episode, we’re a good, I don’t know, four or five, six weeks into pandemic chaos and quarantining ourselves and all of the stress and uncertainty surrounding all of that. So I think this episode addresses the current situation well, but also I want this to be a resource for people outside of the situation who can just see it as a general guide for how to manage stress and stay productive. So let’s dive into this, talk to us about the daily grind. What is your best advice for managing stress and staying productive?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Oh, wow. Okay. We’re delving right in, aren’t we?

Megan Porta:

We’re diving in.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yes. Well honestly, like I think for all of us food bloggers and really any business owner, particularly if you have a very small team or maybe you’re just doing all of it on your own, you are juggling a ton of different things on a daily basis. So every day looks different. There’s so many balls in the air. And for me, that does create stress. Like no matter how you try, right. So I think probably one of the biggest advice pieces that I received growing up from my father was just kind of take it one day at a time. And I’m really trying to do that in the current situation. So I would say, one day at a time, honestly, because it came to a point for me, uh, and this business is about five years old now, that I was doing all of that on my own.

Now my husband joined me and, um, it’s still just the two of us, like with some part-time support. So how do you manage all of that is kind of the key question that you, that you ask yourself. So, I kind of speak from experience because I had come to a point of complete burnout where I couldn’t even, yeah, no, it was bad, where I couldn’t even produce one more thing. And it took a bit of planning and just kind of stepping back and giving yourself grace in times of stress. So right now in this current situation, the routine that I had built over the last year is completely different because I’m in a different place right now. So I had to reassess where I am today and what are those important things to prioritize?

And what are those things that you can give to someone else to do if you can. And what are those things, you know, bucket three, if you will, that you don’t even need to address at this point in time. So I’ve kind of come to a point of addressing my tasks in this way. Kind of just putting them in three different buckets. What are my priorities that have to be done and only I can do them? What are some priorities that have to be done, someone else can help me with? And then what are some things that are nice to do, but aren’t urgent, aren’t priority and can be addressed at a later time. So that’s the second thing that I’ve kind of come to do now on a regular basis.

Megan Porta:

I think it is so important to point out, like you did Suzy, that things are so different now. So anything we were doing prior to this craziness, is so different. I think we can all say that. I used to plan my weeks, like every week I would plan it a week in advance and ever since this began, I have not been doing that. But it’s just kind of been a necessary part of the journey. And now I literally just go day to day. And I think at first I was really hard on myself about it, but now I’m to the point where I’m like, this is how it has to be. And I just have to have that grace with myself and not put those same pressures from before on myself. So are you finding that same thing that you’re kind of doing more short-term planning?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Absolutely. And, and in general, I’m going to confess this to people, like I was never able to get months ahead with my planning. Like I know there are people who are really good at kind of like even planning out a whole year worth of content or three months at a time or six months at a time. Or some people are able to take the summer off because they’ve already developed a big calendar and they have all their content. That has never been me. But what I had been able to do was to kind of just take a good look at my month and kind of just maybe develop a general idea of what the theme of the month will be and what are some things that I would like to see happen. And then I was like you, like more on a weekly basis, I would sit down and I would say, these are the recipes I’m going to work on this week. These are the blog posts I’m going to write. And honestly, because our business is far beyond the blog right now, it isn’t all about the content. There’s our e-commerce site and all sorts of stuff to do with that. So that has to fit in somewhere as well. Now with the pandemic and our kids are home, we have two kids, we’ve had to adjust our entire day to accommodate homeschooling, which I am not qualified to do. But…

Megan Porta:

Same

Suzy Karadsheh:

Right where we’re at now you’ve got, you’ve added to your, you’ve added to your plate, a full-time job, which is educating your child because you are the resident teacher. So now the idea of even planning a week or a few days in advance is just not even possible. And I think another thing that this quarantine situation we’re in had taught me is, it’s okay, like to be flexible and to just take it one day at a time. And I’ve had some ideas on the calendar that just don’t fit where we are today. You know, like some recipes where the ingredients aren’t available and who’s going to cook that. So I have learned it’s okay to be flexible and maybe to come back a little bit during times of stress. So that’s one more thing.

Megan Porta:

That’s so true. So true. And I’m glad you mentioned the homeschooling thing because a lot of us have that new duty on our plates unexpectedly. I never thought I would be a mom who had to teach my children from home, but I think we’re all in that, all of us parents are in that boat where we’re like, Oh my gosh. And then now I have a job that I have to keep going. And it’s, it’s a really challenging thing. So I think the day-to-day planning is more than okay. And that, I just hope that a lot more people have grace with themselves. Cause I see all over social media, people are frustrated, but we’re all frustrated. It’s we’re, all there.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. I think too, and this is maybe a general rule for me that I had come to realize, do not look at how somebody else plans their work. It’s not going to work for you. We’re all different. We all have different priorities. And our businesses are all different. My content calendars are not going to look like yours and my audience is different than yours. So just take that, when you watch social media, some people for example are doing a great, amazing job on Instagram. They have millions of followers there. That’s never been me. My bread and butter is really the blog and I thrive more in that area. Do I do an okay job on Instagram? Should I keep doing Instagram? Absolutely. But it’s not going to be my number one priority. My number one priority is still my site. So I think when you take a look at other people, another important point is just to remind yourself of who you are, what your business is about and where the channel is that you completely thrive and you’re shining like a star, keep that going first and then go into the other things.

So I feel like one of the things that bring about stress in our lives as bloggers is watching other people, and I’m not above that. I’ve watched other people and it’s inspiring and it’s exciting. And you’re like, Hey, that’s cool. I should do that too. And sometimes you’re looking and you’re thinking, well, they are doing so much more than I am. And you’re frustrated with yourself because you feel like you’re not as productive. So it’s like this catch 22 when you’re watching someone else. Just remember you only see one side of the story and it may be that one particular thing that this person is doing, that’s their thing that they shine in. It’s not going to always work for everybody. So just kind of making sure that you return to your, you know, core values and your core priorities and your business itself and your core channels and thinking through, do I really need to add this extra thing on my plate that I saw somebody else doing? What will that do for my business? You know what I mean?

Megan Porta:

I do. And you know what I have to say, like doing this podcast, is it’s great. I mean, I have learned so incredibly much from so many amazing experts and food bloggers all across the board. But at the same time, it’s almost like it hinders me because every time I have a conversation, I’m like, oh, they’re killing it on Instagram. They did this. And then I feel like I have to go do it. So I have to check myself regularly and just take a step back, take a breath, calm down. What are you good at? Like you just said, Suzy, that’s such a great kind of self-check thing to do. Like, who are you? Where is your main place? Where are you killing it at? And yes, keep a peripheral eye on your competition and the people who do the same thing you do, but do that with care. Like you have to be careful not to just dive into everything. So I think it’s really important to keep that focus. Like where is your main place and kind of stick with it, especially during times of stress and uncertainty like we’re in right now.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. I think that honestly, if you really kind of just boil down the whole, where the biggest stress points are in a creative world, where there really isn’t one formula that you can succeed. The biggest stress point is there’s so many ways you can succeed, right?

Megan Porta:

Oh, that is true. It’s so true.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Right? So pick your path, pick your path. And for me, that has just been the only way that I can stay sane and be able to produce the content that my audience, my tribe is looking for. I’m not, I’m not creating content for everybody on the internet. I am creating content for the people who want to cook the Mediterranean way. And that has helped me out. So I would say if you feel like you’re frazzled and there’s too many balls in the air and where to focus, how to prioritize, just begin with the simple question of like what niche or what particular item can you focus on that only you can do best? What kind of content can you produce for your audience? So take inventory of what, what you’re serving your niche, you know? Right. So don’t look at everybody else is doing so many different things, but everybody else has a reason for doing those. Don’t borrow somebody else’s path. You know what I mean?

Megan Porta:

I love that, don’t borrow somebody else’s path. And I think it’s so ironic, isn’t it? That one of our main stress points is that there are so many paths to success. I mean, it’s like irony at its best right there because we do, we have so much opportunity to focus on, not just different foods, but different niches within food. And then also, I mean, there’s a million ways you could go, as you know, there are so many like super, super niche down successful blogs. So it’s just ironic to me that that is a stress point, but it’s so true. And I’m one of those people who I just, I have so many ideas and I get inspired by so much, that it’s almost like my main source of stress and that’s crazy. Like I shouldn’t be stressed by the fact that there’s so much opportunity, but there are so many options. Yes. So let’s talk about stress a little bit because food blogging, as you know, is very stressful for many reasons. So what’s your best advice for managing this?

Suzy Karadsheh:

I think so it depends on the situation obviously, and it’s different for each of us, but like I said, first of all, really focus on who you are and develop a plan that works for you. So, really dig into the why you’re doing this and who you’re serving. So this is maybe a higher level too. If you set yourself up in that, in that area where, you know, and understand what it is that you’re trying to do and who you’re trying to serve, it trickles down from there. So I think that’s a very important key thing strategically to focus on a higher level on who you are, what content you’re producing and who you are trying to serve. Because that, for me, when I digress and feel stressed out and I’m wanting to take on all these different things that don’t really fit, I go back to that and that kind of clears my path and I’m reminded of what I should be doing.

So that would be the first thing I would advise. Just sit down and clarify that if you don’t already have it down on paper, have a visual of who I am. This is what my business is about. These are the people I want to serve. Because every time you’re going to be stressed out, it’s probably because you’re thinking of so many different things that you feel that you feel you should be doing, but should you really do them? And having that clarity of purpose already developed for you allows you to go back to that same pace and kind of scale back to where you should be and eliminate some of the stress factors. On a practical level though, like on a day to day, so once you have that clarity, that’s kind of like the strategic high, you know, high up thing that you should be looking at.

But on a day to day, for me, I feel less stressed when I kind of just have some sort of routine in place. And that, like, we’ve just talked about how that all flip-flopped once the quarantine took place, but in general, just kind of sit down and think of like your week, what’s your week. Like, and can you develop some routines, some patterns where you say to yourself, I’m not very rigid with my calendar, but other people really live by account or where it’s like from minute one to minute five, I’m going to do this. And from minute five to 10, I’m going to do this. I am not like that because that really is stressful to me. But as general routine of the day, where I feel like I know my flow, I know that in my, you know, morning hours, I’m going to sit down and write, in my afternoon hours, I might take pictures of a new recipe, or I might do some video, or I might do some social media. Develop that routine for yourself. It’s going to look different for each of us. And three, be flexible, like try it out for a while and then see where you need to make some adjustments, you know? And then again, prioritiz,e always, you can’t do all of it. You know?

Megan Porta:

Every day I feel like I have a mental list kind of as I go into a day, knowing, like you said, just having a general feel for what you’re going to be doing, but then also prioritizing. And then also I’d add to that, just having grace, especially right now. Yesterday, I had a bunch of stuff on my to do list that I didn’t do. It was just one of those days. And I think we have those right now, where we get hit when we’re not expecting it with emotion or overwhelm. And I just got to the point, it was like three in the afternoon. And I realized I wasn’t going to do the rest of my list. And I just had to be okay with that and just move on, because I typically work with a pretty rigid schedule before this pandemic hit. That’s just how I operate. And I work really well, normal life, like that, but now I just have to be really gentle with myself. And I think that’s really important to put out there.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. And one very practical thing that I have started to do more of is not spending as much time on social media if I don’t have to. So, like very practical, like we all look at social media because we have to. So once I sit down and do what I need to do, work-wise, I am out of there because again, you start looking and you might borrow someone else’s excitement about someone else’s project. And suddenly you have someone else’s path and you’re thinking, that’s the path I need to take, or this is something I might have liked to do. And it was on my list for so long and I never got to do it. And someone else hopped on it. Well, great for them. But you have your own list already, right? You have your own path already. So social media has a way of influencing us, right.

It’s influenced, right. That’s what it’s there for. And we’re influenced as well. We’re not immune to what we’re seeing on social media. So, and that goes for work or life or other things like, you know, I don’t know, somebody else is taking some amazing vacation that you might’ve liked to do with your family. Is that gonna, is that gonna be something you have to put on your bucket list? No, because it’s somebody else’s excitement. You don’t need to borrow somebody else’s excitement. I keep reminding myself of that because it’s great for them and we can celebrate that, but we can’t borrow it.

Megan Porta:

Right.

Suzy Karadsheh:

We can’t borrow it.

Megan Porta:

That’s a great line too.

Suzy Karadsheh:

So, um, so those things have helped me just on a very practical level, just assigning myself a routine, an easy routine, nothing fancy, nothing out of the ordinary. And being flexible with it, especially during this time. And moving on to the bigger things that I truly have to get to rather than borrowing somebody else’s things. Those are the things I do every day. Pretty much to keep sane, you know?

Megan Porta:

Those are great. That’s very good advice. And I think we should keep those practical things at the top of our minds as we move through this, because we don’t really know what’s coming. Right. We don’t know what to expect. So, just keeping those there, I think is good. So I have a question for you. How do you deal with the extra content? Because I think a lot of us are creating a little bit extra content right now to serve our audiences in a more relevant way. But I mean, not serving other people. We’re still staying focused on our people, but we are creating extra. Whether that’s like extra Instagram posts or stories or even extra blog posts. How do you sprinkle that into your normal schedule?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Well, I will tell you that I have pivoted a little bit as far as the kind of content that I’ve produced, but I haven’t necessarily increased the number of blog posts I put out there. Because, you know, my plate is too full. So I can’t add suddenly, go from four blog posts to six, or from two to five. That’s just not feasible for me. So one thing that I’ve had to assess, and I too was in that same mindset of like, Oh, I need to create extra content. And that just created so much anxiety for me. But rather than ending up producing extra content, I took a minute to just think about, uh, it doesn’t have to be extra, just has to be relevant. So for me, I’ve decided to pivot from some of the things that were on the calendar and choose different items or different recipes or things that people are really needing right now, or resources that people need to have and create that kind of content in place of what else I might have created.

So I actually did not increase my blog posts, uh, amount of blogging that I do. I’m very slow in writing like a blog post will take me a few hours because I like to make sure it has everything it needs. Um, so, and we hear this a lot. We, you like, it’s not about the quantity, it’s about the quality. And again, if you are somebody where producing extra blog posts is no big deal and it’s a piece of cake for you and that’s where you thrive, do that. That’s a great thing. But if it’s going to cause extra stress, just make sure you know, is this really necessary? Make sure, you know, is this gonna help my audience? Is it gonna help my business assess that really well and be honest with yourself, because we’re running a business for the long-term too. So you don’t want to drive yourself to the point of not being able to create anymore.

You want to be able to create and be helpful to people right now, not at the cost of your life, you know, not at the cost of your sanity. And I have, so I have my husband, who’s also my advisor and business partner. He really kind of grounds me and I’m so blessed to have somebody to talk through these things with, because I am very prone to like wanting to do extra. And he’s more of an analytical mind who takes a step back. And he would say, you know, actually, the numbers show that when you’ve slowed down and you’ve produced such and such quality content, you actually did better for the business. So I approach this with a very critical eye where I have increased a bit of my content or where I’ve spent more energy lately is a little bit more on, you know, Instagram stories and not even anything too much, like some days I don’t go on Instagram at all. But I have made a bit of a conscious effort to maybe do Instagram live and answer some questions, to just pop in and brighten somebody’s day.

Um, I’ve been doing a little bit more of that community engagement and then making sure that I’m pushing out the right content and just very selectively picking what goes on social media from my existing content. So I feel like if we all dug into our blogs, we probably have a ton of great existing content that could be repurposed, that could be repackaged, sent out in emails or otherwise, that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. So I’ve done a bit of that. That’s how I have dealt with it. Like that’s how I pivoted. I didn’t necessarily just kind of go on hyper creating, you know, like pushing out 10 blog posts per week or anything of that nature, but maybe taking it more like one day at a time. And what do my people need today? And making that happen, within my means within my time limitations, within my family’s you know, work, school routine, right. All of that plays into it. So that’s how I have done it. And, and I’m sharing this because I feel like, like you said, we’re all doing a little bit extra and everybody’s extras going to look different. And maybe you don’t need extra, you know, take a minute to think about that.

Megan Porta:

I like what you said, it doesn’t have to be extra. It just has to be relevant. And a lot of us have so much content sitting in our blogging archives that can be dusted off and brought to life right now. That will be really helpful for people. So that’s a great perspective to have. I mean, it’s just, it’s more about like, I think the word I’m looking for is pivoting. Like you’re changing, but you don’t, that doesn’t have to mean like creating brand new stuff on the fly. So just like pivoting, changing a little bit. Um, and that does require effort, but not as much as brand new content.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah, absolutely. I feel for me, I should probably start by saying for me, whenever I have been in a very stressful situation, it is probably because I have not stuck to my priorities. It’s always because I have taken on something I shouldn’t tab something. That’s probably not going to pan out to the extent that I thought at the time, but it just seemed like that’s the thing to do and I’ve got to do it and you know, you hurry up and get it done. And I am not very good at this yet, but I’m working towards this kind of taking a step back and deciding how to pivot in this situation. And what’s the best thing for my blog versus what’s the best thing that everybody else is doing.

Megan Porta:

Yes. That’s such a great perspective. Oh, I love that. Um, I kind of got lost just listening to you talk so I have to refocus here. So yeah, I was kind of wondering, as you were talking, do you have thoughts on moving forward and moving past this because we really don’t know what’s in front of us and we’re all speculating about what this means for blogging and nobody really knows, this is uncharted territory. So kind of going into those uncertain waters, do you have thoughts about how we can do that and stay grounded and reduce as much mental stress as possible?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah, I mean, so I mean, there’s a lot of speculation as far as what’s going on in the blogging universe right now. So some people are seeing crazy traffic, maybe a lot of the food bloggers, particularly the ones that, you know, have a lot of pantry recipes and that kind of thing, a lot of baking is happening. So we’re seeing, we’re seeing thankfully some increases, a lot of us are. And some of us in other niches, so to speak are not, and we’re wondering what’s going to happen once everything goes back to normal. So I think one thing that for all of us to remember is, it’s not going to happen overnight. Like normal is not going to happen overnight. It’s not like suddenly, suddenly tomorrow everybody’s out of the house and everything is back to normal immediately and you’re shopping and you’re out with your friends and you’re out on vacation.

It’s not going to just, it’s not a flip over switch it’s going to be another few months, even as things begin to open up, people mentally, like this has been such a stressful time. That to me, I don’t think people can just flip a switch and feel okay about going back to life as normal. They’re going to go back to normal eventually, you know, and for some people that’s quicker than others. And I think, you know, going back to the point of giving ourselves grace, we are included in those people, right? We are not going to be able to flip a switch and move on to what, you know, what feels like a normal routine to us. So to me, I just feel like the biggest thing that we can do to help ourselves is just remember that this is going to be a bit of a process.

And to just remember that it’s going to be a bit messy. And again, you’re going to be having to switch your routine. You’re going to be having to look at your priorities again, and you’re going to be having to think, what do I need to do right now for my audience? So, um, it’s going to take a little time and it’s going to take some refinement, but it will come back to normal. And I’m feeling very optimistic that hopefully by Q4 and we all get excited about Q4 when business is at its top. By that time, I’m hoping that people are going to be hopefully in the holiday routine and things go closer to normal than they do now. So I, in my opinion, to kind of move past where we are today is to take a little bit of that future perspective and think toward Q4.

Speaker 3:

I’m not very good at all. I’ve never been good at thinking two quarters ahead. So like Q4 to me, I’m like, Oh gosh, I gotta be thinking of Christmas recipes. That’s just hard for me to say. And it’s not, I’m probably just sharing this in terms of concept wise, it seems like a good idea to think toward Q4 in terms of encouraging oneself, to be thinking of the kind of content that you will soon be creating and to encourage yourself to start taking notes on those things. You don’t have to get up and make him, but just to start to, just to start kind of thinking, hey, this is gonna turn around and more of a positive, you know, encouragement that Q4 is coming. And hopefully we will have better numbers again, in terms of advertising money.

Maybe we will see some, um, some brand work again, because right now, I mean, brands have, as you probably know, brands are not seeking out new partnerships. Some things that were in the, in the works for us, we kind of got, you know, put on hold for now. So one can start thinking towards Q4 when possibly some of that might be turned on, it might not fully get there, but to get past this, I think we just have to kind of take it as if it were going to be a great normal holiday season and hope for the best and look toward that and move yourself from like, man, this is so terrible, to it’s going to get better. So I think it’s more of a mindset situation than it is, like get up and do something about it today because you can only do so much, you know.

Megan Porta:

I like your perspective on just thinking ahead to Q4. I think that’s so smart, but it’s also like the light at the end of our hopeless tunnel that we feel like we’re in right now. Because it is such a bright time, not just for bloggers, but it’s a bright time because it’s about family and celebrating and meals and all of that. So, I really liked that kind of looking at that Q4, it’s sitting at the end of our dark tunnel, and I also wanted to point out Suzy, what you said about this has been a process getting into it. And we need to sit back and recognize that, because anything that takes a process to get into, you’re going to need a process to get out of. And we’re all hopeful that it would just be like done one day, this is all over, but that is not realistic. So it’s been what, I don’t know, five, six weeks and I feel like we still just don’t fully have a mental handle on it. We’re still kind of adapting every day, I think. So it’s going to be the same emerging from it and just recognizing that is really going to help us.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. And I feel like, honestly, like I said, I’m not going to get up and make all the dessert recipes for the holiday season today, but does it excite me to think about the future? Yes. So maybe I’ll think on that just from the moral, you know, just for a little moral support and lift, if nothing else. So the way forward is really to assume normalcy is coming back and to assume it’s going to take a while. And it’s not just going to be, you know, all right, we’re good now, it’s not. And maybe the advertising money is not going to be as great this Q4 as it was before because companies are coming out of whatever they had to go through. So there’s a lot in the economy, right? That plays into our livelihood. All of us, not just bloggers. And we have to just respect the process and have grace for ourselves too, because we can’t affect those external factors. We can only affect our content and the people we serve and what we can provide them. So, thinking on that path is my way forward, I think.

Megan Porta:

I really like that. So what about people who don’t just want to get by during this time? What about people who want to actually dig in in some way and diversify or build and grow and thrive with their businesses during this time? Do you have any advice for those people?

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we all want to do well. I, we don’t, I’m not saying all this to say, Hey, we should all be lazy or anything like that.

Megan Porta:

Oh, no, I didn’t think that at all.

Suzy Karadsheh:

But I’m just saying that like managing our stress is one thing, but can we succeed and thrive and build and get our businesses to a better place? Absolutely. I think some of the things that I am spending a little time on is looking through my old content and unearthing some of it and cleaning it up and SEO is always something that has served my blog. And I’m trying to do a little bit better at it. So, I’m taking some time rather than just spitting out new content, to go back and look at those other pieces of content that already exist. That could be great building blocks that could really lift my presence and my traffic. So I’m doing some of that. So some republishing of old content. Nothing major, just as I’m able to. And that’s something that will be better for my audience in the long term.

My husband and I are looking at our e-commerce and we manage a number of different products that we like. We have Greek extra virgin olive oils that we import from Greece. And this whole quarantine has really slowed things down a little bit. And so we’re looking at what are some new products that we should be looking into for our audience. So, similarly, maybe you don’t have physical products that you sell to your audience, but could you take the time to develop something else that can serve your audience, diversify in the way that you can do best? Some of my friends are very good at meal planning and have created some amazing eBooks and content that people are purchasing. That’s going to come back at some point in time when people have to go back to work and they’re going to have to start meal planning again.

So maybe start working on the things that you think people are going to need in a couple months from now and take the time to work on those today. So I don’t think that I have any big earth shattering ideas for people other than to look at where it is that you had wanted to invest time that maybe now you have a few extra hours in your day because you haven’t, you’re not seeing people or we’re all like quarantined. So what better opportunity since we’re home any way, to think through some places, some channels that maybe have been on the back burner for a while, that you could do a little bit better with. Like, I’m doing a little bit more on Instagram, but we are investing very heavily in our e-commerce side of the business, in our food brands. So our entire line of products, and we’re moving that into a bigger warehouse and we’re working through, we’re taking even a look at our business side of things in terms of like, are we at the point where we need to hire more people?

So, is this a time for you to maybe look at your business as a whole and take a more strategic approach to, uh, do I need more people, do I need more equipment? Do I need to take a class on photography or video or something else? Like, this is a great time where we’re taking some easy classes. My husband especially is looking at a few things that are more on the technical side of things. Maybe it’s learning, maybe it’s time to learn a few things that you have wanted to dig into a little bit more. Um, I kind of take this opportunity as it’s quarantine, but it’s like waiting time. Like, what are you doing you know, with those extra hours that you can’t see friends that you can’t go hang out with your neighbor, that you aren’t able to go to a conference. Like I, you know, a few of the conferences were canceled and I got a few extra days maybe to take a class or maybe to just dig into the, all the business stuff that we hadn’t gotten into. So we’re really doing a little bit of calculating of like, what is our next step? Where do we want to grow? And who do we want to hire to do that? So yeah.

Megan Porta:

Time all adds up. I mean, the time spent talking to your neighbors or going out to lunch with a friend or going to a conference for two or three days, all of that time really does add up. So overall, we should have a little bit extra time. And I think that really thinking about our businesses is something that we all put off because it just seems boring. And there’s no time for that. I have content to create.

Suzy Karadsheh:

In the day to day, and I have found that it’s okay to maybe pull back on some things that we were rushing to get done all the time. And to think a little bit more on the strategic things and the planning side of things in our financials and our diversification, what our portfolio looks like, where for us, the blog had been, had always been the main source of income. And we are actually pivoting a little bit away from that and investing more into the e-commerce side of the business. And we, it has been crazy the amount of traffic to the e-commerce site and to like the product that we sell. The all-natural spices are going off the shelf. We can’t keep anything in inventory anymore. And that has kind of woke us up to the fact that, hey, maybe it is time to do more with e-commerce and less with the blog.

It’ll look different for somebody else. So just sit down and take inventory of your business over the channels that bring you income and think about it, like put a pie chart together and say, right now, this is how much is coming from each of these channels. And maybe it’s time to invest in the YouTube area or it’s time to invest in that ebook area or whatever other product that you want to sell. And really just do that. But I will say one last thing with regards to creating products to sell, the way that we have gone about it. And you didn’t ask me this, but I’m going to volunteer it because it was a process. So we opted for the physical product, right, with the food, with the actual food, because our audience asked us to, so we actually did not go into e-commerce.

We did not go after importing the Greek extra-virgin olive oils and then sourcing all the spices and the tahini and all that. We didn’t go into it until our audience was asking. So this came, this came much later in the business, like, so the blog started about five years ago, just as a hobby. And it wasn’t a thing. It was not a real thing until 2016. And that’s when I kind of took it as, hey, this can be a part-time gig, but I’m going to be more serious about it. It wasn’t until late 2017, 2018, that we started thinking about doing the e-commerce thing. And it took a minute and like, it didn’t just happen, but it didn’t come from thin air. It came because I was literally getting an email every single day saying, can you recommend an extra virgin olive oil? Where can I find such and such spice?

Um, you know, what is the best brand for tahini? All of these are ingredients that are used in my own recipes because I am The Mediterranean Dish. So it made sense for me at that point, like I had this honestly aha moment, like a light bulb where I said to my husband, hey, people want olive oil. People want spices. People are frustrated that they don’t like the quality of, you know, I don’t know, the flavors not the same or whatever. So I collected all that feedback from people and we went about it and we did our research and we found two olive groves in Greece and somebody who connected us to them. And we started importing after we tested all the olive oils and all the spices that we could get our hands on from different places. We decided who our partners were going to be. It’s a process. So just because you want to create maybe a new product, my product may not be the product for you, right? So you want to take inventory of what your audience needs most. So what are they asking you to do, right? And then do it and then do it and do it well. And don’t do it fast.

Megan Porta:

Yes. Good point. Do it well, not fast. And I think this just requires a little bit of listening and leaning in, and just like for you, you were getting emails every day. It sounded like asking for a very specific thing. So maybe that’s happening to other people and they don’t even really see it because it’s maybe a nuisance, like, ah, people keep emailing me or I keep getting the same comments or whatever it might be. Just like, how I love how you just said, you had a moment where you were like, oh my gosh, people want this from us. So just take this time, maybe to take a step back from your normal perspective and see those things that people are truly wanting from you, they might be really, really obvious.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. And they might be simple. Like maybe one of the products I created and it’s a free product. It’s not anything that we even sell in the store. But people were like, hey, do you have a Mediterranean diet shopping list? I’m like, well, shoot, that’s very obvious. I’m going to create one for you because listen, I have a shopping list that I use every week. So why don’t I make that available in some sort of a simple PDF, put it up on the blog, explain it to people. And it became a blog post. Now people are able to, I point them to that resource all the time through my email lists. Maybe people are asking you for dinner plans or whatever. Could you create something that you can send out by email? So I think that is really key for how you go about selecting the product that you are going to sell people. If you’re going to charge them for something, than it better be something that they want, right?

Megan Porta:

Right. You don’t want to just guess about what they’re wanting. You want to know they want it.

Suzy Karadsheh:

And you are going to invest a lot of time and you’re going to invest maybe some money to create it. So we even toyed with some ideas of like, well, do people want cute t-shirts and maybe hats or tote bags or what not? No. Our people don’t want that. They don’t want cute stuff from us with food sayings necessarily. That, you know, like they’re not suddenly looking for a t-shirt that says #kale. They’re not, from us. They’re getting that from Amazon, you know?

Megan Porta:

But some people will deliver that well.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. But that may be somebody else’s projects. So just make sure that you create the right products and, or select the right channel to invest in.

Megan Porta:

Sure. Yes. And you can do testing with that. You can even do polls or research with your actual audience. I mean, that’s, Instagram is great for that. That’s a great way to utilize that email lists are great for that. Literally just ask for people what they want. And I promise you will get people who reply to you and tell you exactly what they’re wanting.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah, absolutely. And this time is a good time to do that because a lot of people are spending a lot of time on Instagram. And even when I was kind of stuck for ideas for what to create in the kitchen or what recipes they want, I would just hop on Instagram and say, hey, what ingredients are you cooking more with? What do you want me to make for you next? And you know, crowdsourcing is a great tool and now’s the time for it.

Megan Porta:

People are more responsive now, more than ever before I’m finding and vice versa. I’m also finding that I am more inclined to respond and engage with my audience in a new way. So that’s one of the nice things or the good things that has come out of this for me, at least, I just feel like we’re all being a little bit kinder and just reaching out more, being more resourceful and accommodating. And I think people really appreciate that because like you said, they’re online more and they’re also really lonely. Everyone’s lonely. So keep that in mind too.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Absolutely. And, and maybe really your focus right now, isn’t going to be creating a new product or creating extra blog posts. Maybe it’s building community. Maybe it’s focusing on your brand and building community because people are listening and people are hungry for community right now. So you’re here. Maybe you are the community for them. Maybe this is your opportunity to put your brand in front of these people and really, really build that tribe that all of us need, because when traffic is bad, it’s the tribe that’s going to come back to you all the time, right? It’s these people who have become just diehard fans and how would they get to be a die hard fan unless they enter your community and become engaged with you. Maybe now is that time. So there’s just so many opportunities, select the one that is going to be most effective for you; what your brand needs and what your business needs today.

Megan Porta:

Hmm. I love that. That gives me a lot to think about, because when you talk about your products and how you guys are creating products, I think that’s amazing. But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that involved. I mean, it’s as simple as looking at your community, like you said, and that’s a really easy thing to focus on, but that can reap such rewards now. Yes. But definitely in the future. So I like that you mentioned that. Thank you for mentioning that. This has been so fun, Susie. Unfortunately I have to say goodbye to you, but I’m sad. It’s been just tons of fun listening to you talk and you have such great insight and yeah. So is there anything you want to touch on quickly before we say goodbye that you feel like we’ve missed and that would be really helpful for food bloggers?

Suzy Karadsheh:

I can’t think of any. I feel like I talked a ton.

Megan Porta:

Well, you, everything you said was valuable and wonderful.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Yeah. Thank you. I just keep on keeping on and you know, if you have to take a minute to breathe or a day off, I’ve done that a ton during this time and it’s okay. So just, grace, I just want to leave people with that word, grace.

Megan Porta:

Hm. I love that. Yes. Let that sink in and really, really just allow that for yourself. I think we’re all having to learn that the hard way, but it’s so important. It’s not the same. We’re not dealing with our businesses in the same way, so that’s a perfect way to end. So I will compile a kind of page of show notes for you, Suzy. And if anyone’s interested in looking at those, you can find them at eatblogtalk.com/SuzyK and Suzy is spelled with a Y, S U Z Y. Suzy, tell my listeners the best place they can find you online.

Suzy Karadsheh:

Well, I am obviously at theMediterraneandish.com and on Instagram and Facebook at the Mediterranean dish. So that’s probably the quickest way to find me.

Megan Porta:

Great. Well, everyone go check out Suzy’s page and information. Thank you again, Suzy for being here and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you next time.

Intro:

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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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