In episode 408, Megan chats to Miriam Schulman about why embracing our inner uniqueness can take us from starving artists to well-paid and well-known artists.
We cover information on how to stand out, why being a people-pleaser won’t help you be marketable to your audience, become memorable by being your authentic self, how sharing your values can be relatable as well, and, why email marketing is more valuable than social media.
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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Bio Miriam Schulman is an artist and founder of The Inspiration Place, where she helps other artists learn how to profit from their passion or become better artists. She’s helped thousands of artists around the world develop their skill sets and create more time and freedom to do what they love. Her art and story have been featured in major publications including Forbes, The New York Times, Art of Man, Art Journaling magazine, and What Women Create as well as featured on NBC’s “Parenthood” and the Amazon series “Hunters” with Al Pacino. Schulman’s forthcoming book with HarperCollins Leadership Artpreneur is scheduled to be released on January 31, 2023. The Inspiration Place podcast is in the top 1% of all podcasts and is listened to in over 100 countries.
- You have to be willing to fail.
- Embrace your inner weirdo. Don’t resist.
- Find your signature style so you are memorable and stand out.
- Go beyond your influences.
- Amplify your quirky self – your audience wants to connect with the blogger behind the brand.
- Stop people-pleasing.
- Share your values – don’t assume people know, and don’t hide it.
- ChatGPT doesn’t have opinions but you do – share them.
- There’s no money in the middle. Be loved or hated.
- Embrace imperfection.
Check out Miriam’s free chapter of Artpreneur:
Click for the full script.
EBT408 – Miriam Schulman
Intro: Food bloggers. Hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
If you majored in art or if you’ve just been an artist your whole life like I have, you will completely relate to a lot of this episode. Miriam Schulman joins me from the Inspiration Place and she talks about embracing your inner uniqueness in order to find the success that you want. So instead of resisting that creative artist side, like I was told for a lot of my life, we need to embrace that. That is going to bring us the success that we want. This is such an interesting conversation. I got so much out of it. I felt empowered after talking to Miriam. I felt like I wanted to just go speak my opinion and be weird and show people my unique sides of myself. So I hope that you are truly inspired by this too. This is episode number 408, sponsored by RankIQ.
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Megan Porta: Miriam Schulman is an artist and founder of the Inspiration Place where she helps other artists learn how to profit from their passion to become better artists. She’s helped thousands of artists around the world develop their skill sets and create more time and freedom to do what they love. Her art and story have been featured in major publications including Forbes the New York Times, Art of Man, Art Journaling Magazine, and What Women Create, as well as featured on NBC’s Parenthood and the Amazon Series, Hunters with Al Pacino.
Schulman’s forthcoming book with Harper Collins Leadership, Artpreneur was released on January 31st, 2023. The Inspiration Place Podcast is in the top 1% of all podcasts and is listened to in over a hundred countries. Hello, Miriam. Thank you so much for joining me on Eat Blog Talk. How are you today?
Miriam Schulman: It’s so great to be here, Megan. Thanks for having me.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I start all of my episodes off by asking my guest if they have a fun fact to share. So do you have something to share with us?
Miriam Schulman: Yes. So since you talk to food bloggers, I will share with you that I am a vegan but only 80 to 90% of the time, and I lie about it the rest of the time.
Megan Porta: Okay. How is that accepted by your fellow vegans? Because in our world, that doesn’t usually fly.
Miriam Schulman: So I was fully vegan for like about five years and then I added in some fish, so. Maybe some eggs and possibly really good cheese when it’s available. So there you go. Yeah. I guess I lied.
Megan Porta: So part-time vegan, it sounds like.
Miriam Schulman: That’s right.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Thank you for joining me today. I’m super excited to hear just more about everything that you have to offer. You call yourself an artpreneur. I would love to hear just a little bit about your story, like what led you to the place where you’re at today. I know you published a book. Just tell us a little bit about you.
Miriam Schulman: Thank you. The book is Artpreneur and it’s been 20 years really in the making, even though I only started writing it three years ago. So my story is like many others, I didn’t believe I could make a living as an artist. So I took the practical route and I went to work for Wall Street. After nine 11 happened, I knew I couldn’t go back to that world. So I set off to do something else. I still didn’t believe that it would be art, because I didn’t believe I could make a living from it. Long story short, I took a job as a Pilates instructor and the gym was teaching me to upsell personal training packages because that’s really how the business model of successful gyms is all the upsells. When I was going through that sales training is when I had my aha moment and realized, oh, these skills can be used to sell art. So I left the gym. That’s when I became a full-time artist. So I’ve been a full-time artist for over 20 years now. I started coaching other artists about four years ago, right around the time I started the Inspiration Place podcast.
Megan Porta: So interesting. Okay. So which skills did you pinpoint that were being used that you could sell art with as well?
Miriam Schulman: Definitely customer service and follow-up. So those were huge. But the first thing that I did was I simply moved the portrait of my son into the foyer where the moms were coming to pick up their kids from play dates. My son is pretty social, so that really helped. It was like basically the first influencer. That was influencer marketing, old-school style. Then if I had a portrait commission and they wanted to pick it up from my home, I said, oh no, don’t worry about that. I’ll see you at pickup. I’ll bring it there. Because I knew the other mothers, it was mostly moms that pick up, a few dads sometimes, but I knew the other parents would see the portrait and so I would get more commissions that way. So it was definitely Gorilla Style Marketing the first few years.
Megan Porta: I love that. Okay, so you used your skills there and you just decided, yes, I’m going to make money as an artist. This is a thing. I remember I went to school, I got an art degree in college, and we were told by our professors, you are going to be a starving artist unless you can figure this out. We were like, what? So why are we here? Why are we paying all this money? So this is a real thing. We’re taught to believe that artists do not make money.
Miriam Schulman: And they didn’t tell you how to figure it out, which you would think they would do in art school, tell you, okay, and this is how you make a living. But there’s definitely a path. Now I’m not talking about making a living if you have your eyes set on being in a museum. That’s a completely different path. But to be a mid-career artist and making 60 to a hundred thousand dollars a year from your art, I have lots of clients who are doing it too.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It is funny that they tell you that this is a problem, but then they don’t tell you how to solve the problem. They’re like, oh, good luck. You’re here. Let’s create some art. You’re not gonna make any money. Okay. So you took those skills and you just figured this out, and I know that you have this belief that we all need to just embrace our style, and that can lead to success. So can you talk a little bit about that?
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. But just before we get there, I just want your listeners to know that it wasn’t like, Oh the whole time. I definitely made mistakes along the way and I stumbled, and really when you’re figuring anything out, you have to be willing to fail. So I just wanted to put that out there.
Megan Porta: Love it.
Miriam Schulman: You know, that this was not like I decided and everything was great. There were obstacles I had to overcome, and that’s why I’m able to teach each other people. Because if it was all perfect, nobody would think it would work for them. You have to be able to say, Hey, Some things work, some things don’t. This is what works.
Megan Porta: That’s so true. Yeah.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, so you wanna get into embracing?
Megan Porta: Yeah, let’s get into it.
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. Okay. So in my book Artpreneur, I call this embracing your inner weirdo, but it’s truly about finding your signature style. The reason Megan, I call it weirdo, is because weird did not always have a negative connotation. The word weird is derived from Scotland. Those of our listeners who may have studied Macbeth may remember the weird sisters. They were the three witches in Macbeth that predicted his fate. So the word back then, weird, actually meant fate, destiny, or magical. What happened is over time, as the supernatural became vilified, the word weird took on a negative connotation. But when you say you’re embracing, you’re weird, you’re actually embracing what’s special, what’s unique, what’s magical about you. So that’s what I want to talk to you and your listeners about today.
Megan Porta: Okay. I think the word weird is changing too. I don’t necessarily associate it with a negative connotation anymore. I think it’s yeah. Be weird, right? Be different, be unique. So I think it’s evolving, but okay, go ahead.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, so I identified nine steps, and I know we may not get through all of them today, but they all are in the book Artpreneur. But the first one is going beyond your influences. All these things are very important for the food bloggers who are listening because there are lots of food bloggers. Wouldn’t you say that?
Megan Porta: Ah, yeah. Lots.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. So the only way you’re gonna really succeed is if you stand out. So step one is going beyond your influences. Now, it’s okay when you first get started to be a little derivative and model the gurus, but you’re not gonna get anywhere staying there. You really have to go beyond that.
Megan Porta: Ok. That’s hard to do. I will say, as you said, there are a lot of us, and I hear this all the time in our space. How can I stand out? So what are your thoughts on that? What are ways that we can do that?
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. We’ll get into all of them in the steps, but one thing I just want to say is that what you said, weird isn’t so negative anymore. What I hear from so many artists is they want to be weird. I bet a lot of your food bloggers want to, but they’re afraid and they’re people-pleasing. So I want to go to the place that’s unusual, embrace my inner weirdo, and trust my intuition that these eccentricities are what gonna make your blog better, more memorable, and ultimately more marketable.
Megan Porta: So don’t resist the weird.
Miriam Schulman: That’s right. That’s right.
Megan Porta: Stop resisting.
Miriam Schulman: Okay, so step two is to amplify those quirky things about you. So what is it that’s really weird about you and that’s why I love the way you started off with the fun fact. I bet you have some fun facts that make you quirky.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. So many.
Miriam Schulman: Tell me one, your listeners know, but I don’t.
Megan Porta: Oh, now you put me on the spot. Yeah.
Miriam Schulman: See how it feels?
Megan Porta: Turn the tables. All right. I’ll let you think about that for a minute. Okay. I will. When people pause for that on that, for me, I’m always like, come on, find something and now it’s oh my gosh. Okay. I’ll think about it. Okay.
Miriam Schulman: All right. So think about the things that have nothing to do with being a podcaster or a blogger. So your audience, and now I’m talking to the listeners, your audience wants to connect with the real you behind the food blog. They may not share the same exact obsessions, but those idiosyncrasies is what’s going to make you a more relatable person. So for me, I talk about how I live in New York. I talk about how I’m Jewish and most of the country is not in New York or Jewish, but hey, they like Seinfeld so they get it. Or I talk about how much I love Harry Potter and not everybody likes Harry Potter, but I’m giving them permission to love their own fandom or love their own thing that they may be obsessed with. So did anything come to mind for you?
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’m absolutely obsessed with sweets, candy, and sugar, and it’s a huge obsession for me. People are surprised about how much candy I can eat. So there’s one. I’m obsessed with Coldplay. I love Chris Martin. There are a couple for you.
Miriam Schulman: That’s awesome. I love that. Okay, so step three we’ve already alluded to, but it stops people pleasing. Do you know what people pleasing is?
Megan Porta: Yeah. Not being yourself, so that you are more acceptable maybe to the masses?
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. So if you’re feeling reluctant to be weird or even different, it might be because you’re inclined to people-please. So let’s say my example. So I’m New Yorker, and I’m Jewish. When I first started not selling my portraits, cuz obviously I was selling my portraits in New York. But when I started teaching online art classes, and this was about 10 years ago, the only online art teachers that I was aware of all had these three things in common. They were blonde. They lived in the Midwest, like Utah and Idaho, and they were not Jewish, let me put it that way. So I thought, oh, what should I do? Should I be teaching people how to make Christmas ornaments? So we talked about step one, go beyond your influences. I looked at what they were doing and thought I needed to do that. When you hide parts about yourself because you’re afraid people are gonna be in my case, anti-Semitic. Okay? If I’m afraid people are gonna be anti-Semitic, I’m not sharing the real me and that is not connected. That’s the opposite of connection. So when you’re hiding your eccentricities, you’re not showing your authenticity. Most often, these are the very things that are going to make you memorable. That is gonna make you stand out from all the other food bloggers. So when you are talking, you need to make a point of bringing these things in. Not worrying about being weird, not worrying about pleasing everyone, and instead do the opposite and promote that special thing that only you have.
Megan Porta: I love this concept, by the way. Do you recommend that we do this through our blog post writing, social media, all the places, and video, as much as we can?
Miriam Schulman: Everything. The thing is that we’re so self-absorbed. So I’m not trying to point fingers at anybody. All of us are like this.
Megan Porta: All of us as a whole, yes.
Miriam Schulman: We all think that everyone reads every single thing that we write and say. They don’t. So repeat yourself, say the same things on social media and put that in your blog and put that into your email. Put it in all the places over and over again. It’s like when you have a favorite band, you want their greatest hits. So people actually, when they like you, they like when you say similar things over and over again anyway. So don’t worry about repeating yourself.
Megan Porta: Okay. Yeah, especially for our blog posts. People tell us all the time, we don’t read your blog posts. There are too many words. So say it again, somewhere else, over and over. Okay. What else? So that was step two, just amplifying those quirky things. Anything else about that?
Miriam Schulman: No. We can move on to step four, which is to share your values. So your values are gonna be, what do you believe? What do you think? Don’t assume people know and again, don’t hide it because people are gonna make assumptions about you either way. If you’re not sharing these things, then you’re still sharing something. You’re sharing that you’re opaque. That you’re not a transparent person. Either way, they will get an idea about you. So what I like to say is that people are gonna love you or hate you. They might as well hate you for the right reasons. So don’t be afraid to share what your true values are. Again, there are a lot of people who are going to connect with what you truly believe.
Megan Porta: Give us an example of that. So if you were to share something about your values, what would you share?
Miriam Schulman: Okay, there’s a very good example that just happened recently. So in 2020 with George Floyd, there were a lot of people who were afraid to share what they think online about that, and that really came back to hurt people because when you’re not sharing, they’re gonna assume something. They’re gonna assume what you think about that. So don’t be afraid to share your values in terms of where you stand on women’s rights. Where do you stand on abortion? Where do you stand on what’s going on in education? Megan, are you American? I forgot to ask you.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. This does not just apply to Americans though. Where do you stand on what’s going on with the environment? What are your values? So for me, one of my core values is inclusivity, and you can see that throughout my book and throughout my podcast, by the guests that I invite and by the people and the artists that I’m including in my book. One of my main motivations for this book was whenever I tried to learn more about business over the years and I picked up a business book, there wasn’t a single woman on any of the pages. Even the quotes. It would be Zig Ziegler or Seth Goad, and the examples were their male clients and Picasso and Renoir. It’s so unfair because there are so many successful women entrepreneurs, artists, and musicians and there always have been.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Miriam Schulman: There always has been. It’s up to us to include them in our narratives and make a conscious effort to make sure we’re being inclusive because it’s too easy not to.
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Megan Porta: I think this is something that we, just not food bloggers, but online creators as a whole kind of shy away from, because we don’t want to, I don’t know, it’s like we don’t wanna be pigeonholed almost as the person who voiced their opinion about this. We just tend to want to talk about our art, right instead of the values? But you feel like it’s really important that we talk about these.
Miriam Schulman: It’s the opposite. You do wanna be pigeonholed. If you look at the people who are most successful, no matter what we’re talking about, whether we’re talking about politicians who we love or hate or musicians who we love or hate. They’revVery polarizing.
Megan Porta: Yes. That’s so true.
Miriam Schulman: Look at Beyonce. She is not afraid. She campaigned for Hillary, so she’s not afraid to do that, and not everybody likes her. Then you look at the opposite spectrum, of course, Donald Trump. So there are people who are very polarizing, they’re very successful. People want to stand behind someone who has an opinion. This is a fact. This is so relevant right now, Megan, because of ChatGPT. Anyone can give information, but ChatGPT does not have an opinion. AI does not have an opinion. We have opinions. How can we stand out in the world of artificial intelligence? You have to share your opinions, starting with your values.
Megan Porta: Okay. I love this because my youngest son just got into Eminem. He thinks he’s so cool. We were listening to some of his lyrics. I’m like, wow, he is super opinionated. I always knew that, but just looking at what he was saying, I was like, holy cow. He is not shy, and we all know how loved Eminem is. So yeah, that is one example of what you’re saying.
Miriam Schulman: Yeah, and this is what I want the listeners to know. There’s no money in the middle. You have to have people love you and hate you. Be willing to have people hate you because there’s no way you’re going to have those lovers without the haters.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, that’s so good. I just wanna go speak my opinion now, Miriam, just all day. I’m just gonna tell everyone what I think.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. Please do.
Megan Porta: You’re inspiring me. No, this is really good because the whole, we’re in a sea of all of these food bloggers and in order to stand out, one of the things we should be doing is speaking our opinion and telling people what we think. But we tend to do the opposite, so many of us do. So this is really inspiring.
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. It’s boring not to tell your opinions.
Megan Porta: It is boring. You’re right.
Miriam Schulman: That’s the death of a food blogger, to be boring.
Megan Porta: It’s suffocating too. Wait a second. Shouldn’t I be saying what I believe?
Miriam Schulman: That’s right. That’s right.
Megan Porta: Okay. What else is there?
Miriam Schulman: All right. Step five is to embrace imperfection. Notice even though I’m doing this the whole time, like you said, what’s your fun fact? I’m vegan most of the time. Look, I’m not afraid to let you see how I’m not perfect or that I’ve made mistakes along the way. So you need to embrace your imperfection, but it’s more than that. So the example that I use in Artpreneur is Britney Spears. Now, with the lens that we’re in 2023, she does not seem like someone who’s imperfect. But when she first came out, the way she sang, incorporating valley talk into her singing was not done. That was not done back then. Her vocal coaches could have trained that out of her. But they didn’t. Instead, they emphasized it. They dialed it up to an 11. That is why then she became so popular and people started imitating that. Now looking back, it seems oh, that’s so obvious, but it wasn’t. It wasn’t obvious. So here’s the thing that I want you to remember. You do not have to give up your weirdness when you’re blogging, in fact, the exact opposite is true. You must give in to your weirdness and go to that place that’s different from everyone else and create a blog that’s completely different without caring what other people think. Don’t get mad or upset or resentful. Just embrace that weirdness on every level.
Megan Porta: The imperfection thing is huge. I think when I see other creators or even friends just embracing imperfections online, I love it. I think, how real and how relatable and how awesome that they’re willing to show us this imperfect side of themselves. I feel like, when it’s perfect, is that real? That has to be fake. But the imperfection is something that I can relate to because I am imperfect. So I personally love that.
Miriam Schulman: I think that’s why the TikTokers without makeup and no filters, do so well, is people really want that. Now we can go off on a deep tangent here. One of my friends was saying how Pluto is entering Aquarius now and Pluto had been in Capricorn, and when it was in Capricorn, money was the most thing. But now that it’s an Aquarius, people who follow astrology would know what I’m talking about. I barely know what I’m talking about here. But there’s gonna be a planetary shift according to people who are into this.
But I’ve been seeing this anyway. That whole pro marketer polished, posing in front of the jet, that is over. That’s passe. People don’t want that anymore. Yeah, they want something that’s real. You can see this even in the decorating styles, how things are more organic, is more in style now rather than this very perfect, clean look. Things that are looking more grungy are more in style now.
Megan Porta: Yes, and you mentioned TikTok. TikTok embodies imperfection. It’s if you want to really find success over there, you have to be real. You have to let down your guard a little bit and not be perfect, is what I meant to say. So I love that. I love the new trend of just being more real for everyone. Do you want to talk about more of your steps or I know you have some thoughts about the future of marketing and social media that kind of leads nicely into this? Which route would you like to go?
Miriam Schulman: Yeah, we can do that. Because they can get all nine steps in my book, Artpreneur. There are some bonuses they get when they go to artrpreneurbook.com. But you can get any format audio. In fact, what’s interesting about the audio version of the book is that I included, instead of saying on the podcast, Amy Porterfield says blah, blah, blah, I actually have the sound bites of everyone who’s been on my podcast as they’re quoted throughout the book. So the audiobook is a very interesting experience for that.
Megan Porta: Oh, cool. Cool. Okay. So future of marketing. You have this idea that social media is maybe no longer the most effective marketing tool.
Miriam Schulman: Yeah. I’m ready to climb up on that soapbox.
Megan Porta: All right. Okay, let’s hear it.
Miriam Schulman: All right, so Instagram is about to drive off the cliff, like Thelma and Louise. Maybe they’ll take their foot off the gas. I’m not really sure. I will share some statistics about that. TikTok, we talked about TikTok but doesn’t mean rushing over there because there are a couple of things about that. One, it might be shut down by the government. Number two, you can follow somebody on TikTok and never see their content ever again. So it’s engaging, but I call it the death of the scroll, and this is true of all short video formats, whether we’re talking about reels, TikTok, or YouTube shorts the way those algorithms are set up is they want you to scroll up and you scroll up to something different, not the same person’s content, before it’s even done. So there’s no time to really engage with the creator. So we spend a lot of time creating this content that doesn’t really lead to a lead for our email list, a follower on social media, or somebody who’s gonna follow our blog. So it’s a lot of time spent and I’ve had clients who’ve had reels go viral, like 45,000 views on Instagram, and only picked up a few new Instagram followers and no sales and no email leads.
So let me just share some of the statistics. So when I started writing the book, the average engagement rate on Instagram was 1%. By the time I went to edit that section of the book in early 2022, it had dropped to .6%. 0.6%. What about the influencers? The ones who are telling us, oh, sign up for my class and I’ll teach you how to get more engagement. We’ve all gotten those DMs from people, Hey, I’ll show you how to get more engagement. The average engagement rate for an influencer, Megan is 1.12%.
Megan Porta: Oh, wow.
Miriam Schulman: That means out of a thousand people, only 11 people are engaging with what you’re doing.
Megan Porta: That’s sad. That’s hard to hear.
Miriam Schulman: Now let’s compare that to email. So email, the average open rate is around 24%, right? So we’re talking averages. If you do a good job, it might be better. Depending on your subject line, let’s go with the average of 24%. So we said for Instagram, an influencer needs to have a thousand people to get 11 people to engage. An influencer needs 2000 people to get 12 people to engage. How many people then do you need on email to get the same results? 24%. I’m gonna do the math for you so I’ll make it easy math. Out of a hundred people on your email list, that 24% open rate will be 24 people.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So a lot less.
Miriam Schulman: To get the same result on Instagram, you need 4,000 people. A hundred people. A hundred people on email to get 24 people. 4,000 people on Instagram. I don’t know about you, but the odds are a lot better on email and it’s a lot easier to get a hundred people on an email list than 4,000 followers.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. This is a message that we’ve been hearing for years, and I feel like you’re right. It’s going in that direction. So many people are frustrated with social media specifically, Instagram right now. I hear it all the time.
Miriam Schulman: I can tell you, Megan, it’s not even the algorithm. We want to blame it on the algorithm. How do we beat the algorithm? It’s not just the algorithm. People are just not on the platform anymore. So I wanted to, for my book launch, do a series of Instagram lives, and I ended up having to cancel them because right before you go live on Instagram. How many followers do you have on Instagram, Megan?
Megan Porta: Not many. 3000, maybe?
Miriam Schulman: Okay. All right. That’s still a lot of people. You couldn’t fit 3000 people in this room. Okay. But I have 25,000 followers on Instagram, so I thought this would be a great strategy to do Instagram lives with influencers and with my clients. I thought it would go live on both of our channels. Right before, anyone at home can do this. So if you open up the app and you pretend like you’re about to do a live, and you click that plus button and you scroll to where it says to live. Right before you hit live, it will say right on the top of your phone, how many of your followers are on the platform? If it doesn’t say anything, that means nobody’s on the platform, by the way. So for me, out of 25,000, how many would you think would be live on the platform? Not live to join me, not live but on the platform. Not live to join me. Very big distinction, but actually on the platform.
Megan Porta: I was gonna say a hundred.
Miriam Schulman: It was never more than 65.
Megan Porta: Oh wow.
Miriam Schulman: That’s not joining me live. That’s on the platform. So we were struggling to get 15 people to live and that was a lot of time. So I was like, screw this, I’m not doing this anymore. I’m just gonna send more emails out and do other things. It’s not just the algorithms. People are just no longer on the platform. The way they were during the pandemic in 2020 and the way they were prior to 2020 when there were fewer things and less competition online for their attention.
Megan Porta: So we should be on email because that is something we definitely have control over. Do you have any tips for creating effective email marketing?
Miriam Schulman: Yeah, so the first thing I just want to say is that, let’s say the same person is following you on Instagram versus email, and we said about the different open rates and the algorithm and blah, blah, blah. The biggest difference is that if I’m following you, Megan, when you send me an email, I decide whether or not I’m gonna open that email.
Megan Porta: Oh, yeah.
Miriam Schulman: On Instagram, the algorithm decides if you’re even going to see it. So we have control over that, much more control over that. That starts with a good subject line. So if you want to improve your open rate from 24% to 30% or 40%, that’s about writing a quality subject line. I can just give a f I have a lot to say on this topic. I can just give a very quick tip.
Megan Porta: Sure.
Miriam Schulman: Please do not have your email subject line be, food blogger updates for March.
Megan Porta: Boring.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. Now I know you say the boring right away, and that sounds so obvious, but in my world with the artists, we have studio updates. I get them all the time, these types of emails from other people. Young’s decorating insights for March. So if it’s Screams newsletter by the subject line, people just won’t open it.
Megan Porta: So what would you recommend instead? Let’s say a food blogger is sending out an update, maybe a collection of four recipes or something that they’ve done recently. What would they put instead?
Miriam Schulman: Okay this isn’t my world, but I’ll make it up. Okay. Nutella is the new black question mark? Obviously, I’m making things up. But do something that’s curiosity-driven. Okay, so you said four ideas, so four ideas. That might be okay. But I would do something like, what do you serve your mother-in-law? See, that would get me to open it because it’s like, this is something that’s so different than what somebody else might write.
Megan Porta: Or my mother-in-law actually ate this, or something like that. I love the intrigue, the curiosity.
Miriam Schulman: Yes.
Megan Porta: Subject lines are so good. Those always perform better for me.
Miriam Schulman: That’s also how you bring in a part of you. So it may be three snacks to serve your son’s wrestling team. Oh, now, even if you don’t have a son on the wrestling team, I had a son on a wrestling team. But even if you don’t, that would make you open it. Then you need to share details about your son’s wrestling team and what you serve them. Now, the person who may be opening it, maybe they don’t have a son on the wrestling team, but maybe they have a daughter who has soccer. A soccer team. So do you see how that works? Bringing in your style with also create emails that make people want to open them and be more interested. Now people are following along with your journey. So what did she serve her mother-in-law, what’s this all about? You can share a little bit more. Of course, this assumes your mother-in-law isn’t subscribed to your email list.
Megan Porta: She’s like, wait, that’s a lie.
Miriam Schulman: If she is, just be nice.
Megan Porta: No, but this also opens the door for everything else you’ve talked about. So this opens the door for you to share your uniqueness, you being imperfect. Maybe you share a story about the failure that you served your son’s wrestling team. It opens the door for all of your messaging.
Miriam Schulman: Yes, exactly. So the subject line could be, don’t serve this, exclamation point. You know what I mean? So it’s those are the things that really get people to open an email. They’ve all seen four ideas for a Sunday brunch. I wouldn’t open that one.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I’m with you. We see all the standard food subject lines over and it’s oh my gosh, I’ve seen that so many times. So we do have to get a little bit creative and unique. Okay. Is there anything else you want to mention? I know you have a lot to talk about in your book, so tell us anything that we’re missing and then also tell us where we can find your book and any other details you wanna say about it.
Miriam Schulman: Sure. So they can get started. I did drop the link earlier for how they can buy the book, but they can get started absolutely free. We’re giving away the first chapter and the first chapter is called Choose to Believe. And you can go to schulmanart.com/believe. Schulman is spelled like school, S C H U L M A N a r t. If you like what you heard today, come find me on the Inspiration Plays podcast. These are the kinds of things I talk about.
Megan Porta: Awesome. This was so fun, Miriam. I feel inspired to just go be unique and weird and opinionated now.
Miriam Schulman: Love that.
Megan Porta: Thank you for that. It’s been a pleasure to talk to you, really. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Miriam Schulman: Sure. Okay. All right. I just flipped open my book because I start every chapter of a quote and I’m trying to pick one.
Megan Porta: Oh, nice. Perfect.
Miriam Schulman: Okay. This is a good one. This one is from Misty Copeland. So for those who don’t know, she was I think one of the first black prima ballerinas. “Know that you can start late, look different, be uncertain, and still succeed.”
Megan Porta: How perfect for today in this chat, right?
Miriam Schulman: Yes.
Megan Porta: Oh. I love that. Thank you. That was absolutely perfect. Miriam, we will put together a show notes page for you, so if you want to go peek at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/theinspirationplace. You’ve already shared everything about your book and where we can find that. Is there anything else you want to share about where we can find you online?
Miriam Schulman: No, just if you like what you heard today, come find me on the Inspiration Place podcast, wherever you’re listening to Megan and me. I’m on all the places and I’d love to connect with you over there.
Megan Porta: Great. Thank you so much for being here. It was such a fun chat, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like-minded peers. I will see you next time.
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