In episode 410, Megan chats to Jenna Urben about what we need to advance now in our businesses to be able to take a significant amount of time off later on.
In this episode, we talk about how to create checklists to keep you on track, publish your content ahead of taking time off so it grows while you’re gone, why Canva is helpful to bloggers, how social media can be scheduled out, and what automation tools you can use to give you a leg up on being more efficient.
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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Connect with The Urben Life
Website | Facebook | Instagram
Bio Jenna is the content creator of The Urben Life, a food and lifestyle blog where she shares allergy-friendly recipes and travel guides. Jenna started blogging about 5 years ago and was immediately drawn to the community aspect. Over the years, she realized there was a need for more transparency in the creator space. So Jenna went on to create Bloggerbytes to provide bloggers and influencers with resources and tools they can use to thrive!
- Work to do things in advance so your business is on autopilot as much as possible.
- Writing, scheduling & automating email and socials should be on your radar.
- Think about simple tasks you can do if you have to do some work that you would enjoy more than others.
- Publish content now, before going on leave, and promote it, then allow it to grow and percolate over the time you’re away.
- Consider cutting and/or suspending subscriptions and memberships while you’re enjoying time off to consolidate payments.
- Find automation (from Zapier or places like that) you can set up to make work easier now and in the future for yourself.
- Set up out-of-office notifications.
Jenna’s podcast: BloggerBytes
EBT Episode #50: How To Fund Your Maternity Leave as a Food Blogger
Click for full script.
EBT410 – Jenna Urben
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 them to achieve their 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.
Do you ever take time off as a food blogger? Do you think about taking time off and then you don’t actually do it because there’s just so much to do or feel like there’s way too much to prep to even take time off? Jenna Urben from the Urben Life, and I have an amazing discussion about this topic because she is planning to take time off this summer, as am I. So we talk about all the things that we are thinking through in advance in order to make that happen. Jenna talks about getting social media scheduled for the summer. We both talk about our strategy for getting blog posts published now so they can do our work for us in the summer, and we can kick our feet up and let that magic happen. We talk about a lot of things, so if you have taken time off on your radar, you have to listen to this episode. If you don’t have that on your radar, you should listen and it might encourage you to actually take some time off. This is episode number 410. It is sponsored by RankIQ and I hope you love it.
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Megan Porta: Jenna Urben is the content creator of the Urben Life, a food and lifestyle blog where she shares allergy-friendly recipes and travel guides. Jenna started blogging about five years ago and was immediately drawn to the community aspect. Over the years, she realized there was a need for more transparency in the creator space, so she went on to create BloggerBytes, to provide bloggers and influencers with resources and tools they can use to thrive.
Jenna, how are you? So good to have you back on Eat Blog Talk, I think it’s the fourth time, right?
Jenna Urben: Oh my gosh. Is it? Yeah. I’m so happy to be here. Thank you for having me back. I’m excited to chat today.
Megan Porta: I’m super excited about this chat because it’s super relevant for me, for upcoming plans, and super relevant for you. I think something that should be maybe at the forefront of a lot of food blogger’s minds, just taking time off because we need it once in a while. So I am pumped for this chat. But first, we want to know, or I want to know what your fun fact is. Fun fact number four.
Jenna Urben: My fun fact for this episode is that I’m pregnant and due at the end of this summer.
Megan Porta: Yay. Okay. That is awesome. I’m not going to pretend I didn’t know, but I’m so excited for you guys. Oh my gosh. I hope that your baby is born on my birthday because I think the due date is right around my birthday, right?
Jenna Urben: It’s pretty close.
Megan Porta: July, is it 26th your due date?
Jenna Urben: Mmm hmm.
Megan Porta: Okay. Yeah, three days sooner.
Jenna Urben: We can do it.
Megan Porta: Little baby. Come on.
Jenna Urben: I’ll get curb walk-in and all the other stuff they say to do.
Megan Porta: Yes. I’ll be sending you texts on the 21st just to prep yourself.
Jenna Urben: Perfect. Yes.
Megan Porta: Yes. Good fun fact, because that sets the stage for our chat. So you are going to be taking time off this summer?
Jenna Urben: Yes.
Megan Porta: So you are doing some things now, so when we’re talking it’s like the end ish of March. So months in advance you’re thinking about taking time off for the baby. Which I love because a lot of us don’t necessarily plan ahead like that, but I think it is so important in our jobs because there’s so much to do and we don’t want to abandon our businesses. We want to stay totally on top of things. So just I guess, talk to us about first things first, like what do you do first when you know you want to take a break?
Jenna Urben: Yeah. It’s a hard question because I feel like I’ve never really planned to take a break, and it’s something that I always want to do, especially in the summer or around the holidays, but I just never really make it a point to plan ahead. So this is the first time that I’m like really planning ahead and thinking through okay, what are all the things I need to do right now? But also that needs to get done in July, August, and throughout the rest of the year, really. So I feel like I should preface this by saying that I’m a one-woman show over here. I don’t have an assistant, I don’t have an intern or anything like that. So I feel like the way I’m approaching it could be different than others who have someone who could help them whenever they’re out on leave. But really what I’m doing is I’m just doing a bunch of work upfront so that everything is pretty much on autopilot and I can fully step away. If I feel like coming back in a couple of weeks or a couple of months, I’m giving myself a lot of leeway basically. If I want to step back in, I can. If I don’t want to, then it’s no pressure on myself. So really what I’ve been doing is just writing, scheduling, not really even scheduling blog posts, but writing blog posts and scheduling and automating the social side of things and the email side of things. So we can get more into that if you want to. But yeah, I definitely wanted to say yeah, if you had an assistant, I think you could definitely be scheduling those blog posts ahead of time. So it looks like you haven’t even left. Once I publish a post, I have a checklist for things I do afterward. For me, I feel more comfortable if I have a post ready to go right now in March or April or whatever throughout the summer, let’s just get it out there now rather than waiting to trickle it out later. We can dive into all of that and more.
Megan Porta: Okay. So you talked about writing blog posts, that’s one of the things you’re doing ahead of time. I think that’s something we can all do really easily. Talk about what you’re doing with that.
Jenna Urben: Yeah, so really just my normal process of keyword research, recipe development, making the recipe, taking photos, taking video, if I’m doing a video for that recipe. Then really just going through the whole process of writing it, publishing it, promoting it, getting it scheduled on social throughout all the socials really. Then also make a note of where to slide it in for my emails, which we’ll get to email later on. For me, I was just thinking, it takes a while for new blog posts to get indexed and circulated on social media as well. So rather than sitting on it, let’s just get it out now and get that process going now and then it can work for me like whenever I am on leave rather than waiting a few months. That’s just how I’m thinking of it. I know that others totally do it another way, so I’d love to hear what you think about that.
Megan Porta: Actually, this is exactly what I do as well. So I am on the same timeline, it seems like. Taking time off this summer, and I have the same mindset, Jenna. So I publish a ton of content from this year it was November. I just decided on November 1st to April 30th. I don’t know where that came from, but six months. I knew that starting in May, I wanted to start thinking about summer and planning and getting on the road and taking vacations, and spending time with my family. So that was my mental timeline. I just decided to create a really aggressive approach this year. So I decided on 80 new pieces of content that I’d publish in that timeframe.
Jenna Urben: Whoa. Yeah.
Megan Porta: Then, as you said, letting it work for me over the summer. So instead of I wrote a post, now I’m going to schedule it for June 15th. Oh my gosh, that’s so much time that content could have been working for me. So I am doing the exact same thing and putting it out there, and then riding the wave through the summer.
Jenna Urben: Oh, okay. I love that you said that, because I feel like some people, it doesn’t matter which way you do it. Any way that works for you or whoever’s listening is what you should do, but maybe this isn’t the right thing to do. Maybe I should act like I am actively at my computer writing, but I was like, that’s just not for me. It’s just not going to work. I’m glad to hear that you’re also doing it in a similar way. Just makes me feel like, okay, I’m okay.
Megan Porta: I did this last year too, and it worked really well. I didn’t do 80, I did 60 within a few months. So it was a little bit lesser scale, but I stopped publishing new content, I think it was like toward the beginning of April or mid-April. From then through the end of the summer, I only did a handful of updates and this was the first time in 12 years that I hadn’t done consistent weekly publishing. So I was terrified, just putting that out there. It was scary. So I’m like, I don’t know if this is going to work. Maybe my blog’s going to crumble and fall apart. But it didn’t.
Jenna Urben: You survived.
Megan Porta: Yes. Not only that, but the blog traffic I got was getting at the end of the summer, far exceeded anything that I had imagined. So this actually works. I have historical data from last year to just show you that for me, for my business, it did work.
Jenna Urben: Oh, okay. I just like, I don’t know, I didn’t realize I was carrying such a mental load and I feel like lighter from hearing that.
Megan Porta: Oh good.
Jenna Urben: I really do. So I love hearing that, especially because you’ve been through it. I think on Clubhouse I’ve mentioned, probably more than once about this. Oh, what am I going to do? Is my blog going to explode? No. I think everyone has always told me like, it, it’s going be fine. So just hearing it again, hearing this time, you always have to hear things a few times for it to click. This was that moment.
Megan Porta: So true.
Jenna Urben: So I’m like, whew.
Megan Porta: Oh good. I’m glad you were able to take a little mental load off because you don’t have anything to worry about. I think that’s a common fear for all of us when we take time off. Even if it’s just like a week, right? Oh my gosh, is everyone going to forget me? I’m not going to be relevant. I’m not going to know the change that happened on Pinterest. You just feel like all of the things are going to collapse you in your business, and that is so not true. After taking most of the last summer off, I came back without missing a beat. It was like a little bit of a reentry okay, what’s going on in this world? But it wasn’t bad. So just to give a little bit of encouragement for people considering it.
Jenna Urben: Love that. Love that.
Megan Porta: Okay. Talk about social media. So this, are you actually scheduling out social media or are you, is that what you said, or are you doing real-time too?
Jenna Urben: I am. So even currently, right now, I always schedule out Facebook. I just use the Meta business suite. You can schedule out 75 days’ worth of content and then I’ll put it in my calendar a few days before that kind of cut off, I’ll just say reminder, add more content to Facebook. So I currently, I already do that. I was looking into alternatives because I don’t remember if it’s co-schedule or whatever that one’s called, or if there was another one that you could go beyond 75 days. But I just again decided you know what? I’m used to the meta business suite. It’s working for me. I’ve never had issues with it. It’s not a huge task. It’s not a huge burden for me to go in and schedule that. I think that’s probably because I’ve been doing this, I’ve been doing this 75 days worth. I’ll go in and do that. I’ve been doing that for years now. So for me, it’s not a big burden. It doesn’t take a ton of time. But if you were doing it for the first time, it might probably take you longer. But for me, I was like, let’s just stick with the meta business suite. We don’t need to switch it up. So I will continue. I guess that will be something that will be on my radar, but. I’m okay with having that be like, oh, you can do this. Whenever the 75 days are up if I am wanting to do a little bit of work, then it’s like this is, I think it’s fun. But this is a fun type of work project and I don’t have to sit down and do all 75 days. I could just do it a week at a time. Or a month. So that’s what I’m doing for Facebook. I could also do that for Instagram, but I’m just honestly not in an Instagram state of mind.
Megan Porta: Ooh, this is a theme. This is such a theme right now. I haven’t heard many people say that they are in the Instagram flow.
Jenna Urben: I accidentally took a hiatus from it and I just can’t, I’m just not motivated to post really. I’ve been posting stories. I have been connecting with more people on Instagram stories lately, and that’s where I’m like having fun on Instagram. We don’t even have to get into the broadcast channels, but that’s another thing on Instagram. But I’m like, oh, this is fun. This is a good way to connect. But again, like that’s real-time, both stories and whatnot. So who knows what that’ll look like later this year for me. Technically you can schedule Instagram out, but I’m not. Then for Pinterest, I know that you’ve been using Canva, so I’d love to hear if you’ve been using the Canva Pinterest scheduler because I might need to do that because my current state of pinning, I guess, is all just live pin or manually pin whenever I have a newer updated post and I’ll go in sometimes and add like an additional post or additional pin for a post or re-pin. But I wasn’t necessarily planning on really worrying about Pinterest at all during my leave. But since you’re loving this Canva scheduler, I might need to hear more about this and see if I need to do this. So I’d love to hear how you’re using it.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So prior to discovering this new amazing feature inside of Canva Pro or I think it’s Pro, right? You have to pay for it. It’s a paid version. But it’s like a hundred ish dollars a year and I’ve paid for it for a few years because me and my team use Canva a lot. So it was just worth it. But then I feel like I’ve just not heard much about this scheduler. Then somebody on Clubhouse mentioned it and I just thought, what? There has to be something wrong because it just sounded too good to be true. So I went and checked it out and Jenna, it is amazing. Okay, prior to discovering this, my VA and I were, she was mostly doing my Pinterest pinning and she was using the Pinterest scheduling tool, which is very limited. I think it’s two weeks or something like that. I was just doing anything I did in real time. So that’s a pain. So the scheduler, like you can schedule unlimited. I have hundreds of pins in there right now in the queue and they’re far out. I’m already scheduling into the summer and there’s, and so far there’s no limit. It’s very intuitive. You create the pin right in Canva and you link your Pinterest account and then you designate the board in your title and description and URL and all of that. So you don’t have to download an image to your computer and then upload it to another. It’s just right there. It’s so easy. So I love it. So yeah, I am scheduling old content right now, so my VA is doing Idea Pins for me and I’m doing all of the relevant seasonal content, just recycling my old stuff and scheduling it out through the summer so that I can let Pinterest, this amazing scheduler and Pinterest do the work for me through the summer. So that’s my goal. It’s not quote, working yet. I’m not seeing a tidal wave of traffic or anything yet. But my hope is that my consistency with it will eventually pay off.
Jenna Urben: Yes. I think it will because I don’t remember how long, I don’t know if it’s ever actually been confirmed how long it takes for Pinterest to index and circulate.
Megan Porta: A million years.
Jenna Urben: Really, sometimes it really does feel like didn’t I post this like last year or two years ago? Now it’s driving stuff? I love that and it is something I’ve been considering because my alternative was, really for those standard pains, to go with nothing new. Then for idea pins, basically, my folder, my file folder for my videos is such a mess. It’s like the one thing that is not organized at all. It’s horrible, honestly. It’s not a good system and it does not work for me. I might still, I should still basically lump these videos in categories of this is summer, this is Halloween, this is Thanksgiving. Then, whenever these seasons or holidays or whatever come, if I want to post on Pinterest and make an idea pin, I can quickly come on into my computer, grab the stuff I need, the files I need, and then make an idea pin with it. Of course that would also work for, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and all the things. So that was my potential Pinterest plan. But yeah, now that Canva has this pretty slick-sounding scheduler, then I could also integrate standard pins as well. That way I can schedule that all ahead of time because we all know what people are searching for during these different seasons. So it’s not like a surprise like we can just put it up now and then the hope would be that come, whatever, November and someone’s searching for green bean casserole, oh, there ours is that we did earlier this year. I’m so glad you talked through that. I do need to check it out. I will say I don’t pay for Canva Pro because I use Photoshop, but when I’ve used it, I’ve done all the free trials with a million different emails that I have, I’m like, this is so nice. The background remover. Oh, love. There are just so many tools in there. So I guess well that was one of the things I was going to say to you, but now I’m thinking about it now, is something else I’m going to be doing whenever I’m like getting closer to when I’m going to leave is I was going to cancel subscriptions that I’m not going to have a use for and just look at okay, whatever things I pay for on a monthly basis that I just can cut. So my thought as you’re talking, I’m like, Ooh, okay. If I cut out, whatever, membership or subscription I’m not going to need anymore, then I can add in the Canva Pro and I can justify that very easily.
Megan Porta: I think once you’re in, you’ll realize that there’s even more to it than probably what you remember because they have this new magic right tool that’s like ChatGPT, like the AI sort of thing. So you can write descriptions right in there. So you don’t even have to leave the platform for that. I’ll go look as we’re talking to see what I pay, but it’s right around a hundred. It’s so worthwhile. It’s such a robust tool. I feel like the creators are just like, they don’t even know how much value they’re giving us for such a little dollar amount that I don’t want them to make this realization anytime soon. Okay, so I pay $119 a year, so I don’t know what, $12 a month or something like that?
Jenna Urben: Yeah. That’s pretty convincing. Especially when you think of what you said, all that you’re getting because it’s not just we’re making graphics, no, you’re making a pin and you’re scheduling it and you can use there, whatever their ChatGPT competitor is right in there. Oof, oof, Megan.
Megan Porta: Think about how much time you’re saving from that. In your mind, it doesn’t seem like it should add up to a lot of time like, oh, I have to download a file, big deal. But that adds up over time and then opening another browser and taking your copy and moving it to ChatGPT and doing a copy and paste, that is valuable time that’s so worth $12 a month. I did not intend for this to be an ad for Canva, but I love it, I just love it.
Jenna Urben: No that’s convincing. I think I’ve probably mentioned this before, if not on the podcast, it’s definitely on Clubhouse. I like to just personally, internally, I like to know where my expenses are going and be able to justify them to myself and that’s very justifiable.
Megan Porta: Yeah. We could go on and on. Think that is one expense that most of us should be investing in if we want to save time and do all the things. Yes. Okay. So you’re going to look into Canva.
Jenna Urben: Yes, I am.
Megan Porta: Then what are some other platforms or tools? You mentioned you were going to maybe let some fall away. What are some that you don’t think you’ll need while you’re on leave?
Jenna Urben: Oh, yeah. This was actually something I literally thought about, maybe it was yesterday or over the weekend, but basically, every time I get billed for things, I’m just like, am I using this? Maybe I am, maybe I’m not. But if I’m not, then it’s okay can I use it? Should I be using it or, I don’t know. I just really think about that. So like for example, I signed up for Food Blogger Pro and when I first signed up, I binged everything. I’ve gotten a little bit busier these last few months and to be honest, I haven’t really been using it at all. I got billed, I think it was last week, and I was like, oh my gosh. I don’t know why I take such offense to it. I’m like, oh my gosh, I got billed again and yet again. I haven’t logged in. For the past literally three months, I’ve been saying, okay, Jenna, if you don’t log in, you have to cancel it. But then I’m like I’m going to do it. Yeah. This is a conversation with myself.
Megan Porta: In your head.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. It’s not like I’m talking to anyone else, you need to do this.
Megan Porta: We understand. We have these conversations too with ourselves.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. There’s there are so many resources in there too, and so many videos are constantly being uploaded. It’s fantastic. But I was like, okay, let’s be realistic. I’m never going to be able to, absorb everything on there. So what do I want to watch and learn that then I’d feel good canceling it. So I did. I made a list and it’s a lot of photography stuff. So I’m going to learn all of this, but then am I actually going to put it to use before I go on leave? I’m not sure. So would that be better to wait until next year? You’re getting a real inside look into my brain.
Megan Porta: I love it. I love how your brain works. This is smart though. Like really giving it some forethought and strategizing okay, where is that going to go? Am I going to use that and when?
Jenna Urben: Exactly. Exactly. So there are a few like modules or I don’t know exactly what they call them, but there were a few that I was like, okay, I want to watch these and then I’m going to cancel it knowing I can re-up my membership whenever I want to. It’s not like I can never sign up again. So yeah, that is one. Then my buzz sprout, that’s what I use for my podcast. I think it is $12 a month, which is totally fine. It’s getting my podcast out in the world. It’s taking care of so much stuff that I don’t have to worry about. But if I’m being honest, this was literally back, I think I’ve published one this calendar year and before that, it was like Thanksgiving. I literally have podcasts outlined, and ready to record. I just haven’t made that a priority. I think it’s because I’m making blog posts a priority right now, but it is very high on my priority list to record these dang podcasts and get them out there. So once I do that and once they’re uploaded and scheduled, I believe that somewhere, one time I found that Buzz Sprout offers a lower rate basically, I believe. I don’t want to misspeak, but I’m pretty sure it has to do with your monthly…
Megan Porta: Storage allotment.
Jenna Urben: Yes. I think, yeah, something like that.
Megan Porta: That’s what Libsyn does too. The minimum fee for Lipson is like $5 a month or something, really doable.
Jenna Urben: Yes, exactly. So it’s if I know I’m not going to be uploading new podcast episodes, but I still want to keep my podcast alive. Yeah.
Megan Porta: Which you do, right?
Jenna Urben: Yes, absolutely. I can batch record, edit, trickle them out, and then demote whatever tier is that I’m on. So that was another one. Then after that, I’m not sure just off the top of my head, but honestly, I’m sure that there are others that I won’t necessarily need, that I could either do a similar thing or just cancel. Then if I realize oh I actually need this, then just sign up again. I don’t know why there’s such a mental block for me. I’m afraid to cancel a membership and it’s like Jenna, you can just redo it. Literally, the same day if you want.
Megan Porta: I don’t think it’s just you. I think a lot of us do that. I know I do. Where it’s I remember for the longest time I was going back and forth about Tailwind. Should I, shouldn’t I, should, I shouldn’t. Oh my gosh. Just do it and see if the world explodes and then if it does explode, you can always go back. Two days later you can go back and I don’t know why we think that just because you cancel something you can’t ever go back and it’s like you’re broken up for good.
Jenna Urben: Really honestly.
Megan Porta: It’s not like that.
Jenna Urben: Yes. It’s like a big statement and it’s no, you can literally just fill out the form again. There’s your credit card info. Oh, you’re fine. I
Megan Porta: It’s so silly.
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Megan Porta: I do think that this is a good point to just think through your expenses if you know you’re going to be taking a break time off for whatever reason, and just pausing if you need to, or cutting back. I’m literally looking at my list of expenses right now. That’s so funny. But I think this is really smart. Just a good way to plan ahead so that you can save some money while you’re taking time off too. Okay. So what else do you do or what have you done or plan to do to prep for your time off?
Jenna Urben: Yeah, so I don’t know if this is the last one, but for what I’ve already done, it basically it’s email. But email has so many different facets, I feel like. So one of the things that I’ve done is for my email, I actually did this last summer. I set up a new opt-in freebie on my subscribe page, on my blog, and once they subscribe, they are automatically put into my welcome series. Having the welcome series has been so awesome. You hear that all the time set up a welcome series, set up all these different things. To be honest, I only, I’ve only had my welcome series. I don’t have an evergreen whatever.
Megan Porta: Nurturing series.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. Nurturing. Yes. I don’t have that, but just having a welcome series, I feel like it has helped and it has helped me connect with these new subscribers. So that has been something that, I guess I set it up a year ago, or not, maybe not quite a year. But I set it up last year and I can just tell that it’s really working. So I’ve been going back into the different emails and whatnot and seeing okay, is this good? Is this still going to work for this year? I’ve determined yes. So I was like, okay, check. But the other thing is I somewhat recently enabled Spotlight Subscribe, and so it was great. I was getting more subscribers than just if you clicked on the subscribe page because it is more of a callout, it’s not a pop-up. But I don’t know how to describe it very well.
Megan Porta: Yeah, it’s hard to describe. It’s like a highlighted feature that scrolls along with your content or something like that.
Jenna Urben: Beautiful. Yes, that’s exactly what it is. Yes, it’s great. I love it. But the thing was then I would go onto my Mediavine dashboard and see okay, overnight X amount of people subscribed, and then I would have to import them manually into Flodesk, which is what I used for my email platform. So I was like, oh man, like there has to be a better way because this is great that I’m the subscriber. But one, it’s not like they would subscribe and then immediately get my freebie ebook. It’s whenever I would look at it and then say okay, let me add you. So I figured out on Zapier, I think is how you pronounce it. I set up a Zap on Zapier and now it’s automated and I don’t have to look at it. It works and it’s free. So that has been just another mental load. It doesn’t sound like that would be a lot. But it’s like what you were saying about how I currently, I download from Photoshop and then I upload and all this stuff. It doesn’t sound like it’s a lot, but it does take time.
Megan Porta: Yep. It adds up.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. Especially for the email. It’s not like you’re just copy copying and pasting their email. I’m also doing their first name, so I better make sure that I’m spelling it correctly. I was like, whoa. Okay. I need to figure out all the different zaps I can do.
Megan Porta: I love Zapier. It’s like a miracle, isn’t it? That thing works.
Jenna Urben: Yes. I’m surprised that I’m not having to pay for it, knock on wood.
Megan Porta: I think you have to have a certain number of Zaps or like automation that you’re running. It has to be like 20. Is that right?
Jenna Urben: Oh, I have no idea.
Megan Porta: That might not be right, but I did reach the threshold once and I was like, oh boy. Then I started paying for it, and then I cut back. But it is an amazing tool.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. I’ve been loving it and I just discovered it a couple of months ago, maybe last month. Yeah. I’ve heard of it, but again, for some reason I was like, oh, that seems scary and hard. I don’t know. It also was like, I don’t know, I had a lot of false narratives about it. I was talking to my husband about it and he was like, I use this all the time at work. It’s going to be fine. I was like, oh, okay. I’ll actually look into it then. It was great.
Megan Porta: So it’s a mindset hurdle because a lot of us aren’t techy people and we hear something like that, that’s like an automation tool. We tend to run away thinking, we don’t know, we don’t understand it. We won’t be able to learn it easily. But it’s actually when you dig in, it’s really easy to learn and it saves you so much time and headache.
Jenna Urben: Honestly. Yes. That was the biggest thing. Like rolling into the next part of my email, so I know I’ve talked about this before, is about how I use my Facebook group, my private Facebook group. When someone wants to join, I had it said, optional, leave your email address if you want my dairy-free, egg-free, beginner’s guide, or it was something like that. It was just about everyone who wanted to join my Facebook group who would leave me their email address.
Megan Porta: So Awesome.
Jenna Urben: It was a lot of people every week and so every Friday, I deemed Friday my import day, but it was the same thing as what I was doing with the spotlight subscribe, having to copy and paste their email, get their name. Put that into Flodesk and it didn’t take a ton of time, but there were some days where it was like 30 minutes of me doing that. It’s okay, sure. But the thing that really got me to make a change, and I don’t use that fear for this, but the thing that got me to make the change was I realized that because I wasn’t approving people to join my Facebook group until I added them to my email list because it’s just easier to do it that way. But then I was like neglecting them of joining for, sometimes it was longer than a week. Sometimes I didn’t do it every Friday, so I was just like, oh gosh. Okay. So I literally did this last week. So I don’t know if it’s really working or not, but again, that mental space is freed up. I don’t have to think about it anymore instead of what I was doing, what I just described. Now when you join my group, I still approve people because I feel like I do need that. I do need that. I can’t just have it public and anyone can go in because it is really more of a community. But now when you get into the group, it’s a pinned or featured post basically, it’s right at the top and it says join the email list. Then you can add group rules now and I made one of them, check the pinned post to join my email list. So I don’t know if it’s going to work as well because it’s an extra couple clicks for them, but that link takes them right to my subscribe page, on my blog, and then they subscribe and everything’s cool.
Megan Porta: That’s so smart.
Jenna Urben: We’ll see if it works. If nothing else, honestly already it hasn’t even been a full week since I did that. It’s just been nice not to have to worry about that. It’s a quick approve type thing and then that’s it. So that has been really nice.
Megan Porta: The little things, I’m telling you, they all add up to big things. I think it’s worthwhile once in a while, even if you’re not prepping for time off, just to make a list of those little tasks that you do each week and then maybe assess okay, could this be automated? Can I do anything to streamline this, get this off my plate? I just did this on March 1st. A couple of weeks ago I just found this note as you were talking in my notes app. List of admin tasks and started writing all of these things down because I just get tired of doing all the admin tasks over and over that is not filling me up but they have to be done, right? So I have this huge list. So I’m thinking of now going through this and seeing what I can automate for the summer. What can I delegate? What can I take off my plate? Because each one takes me, like the one I’m looking at right now, this takes me 60 seconds a week. I hate it. I hate doing it. Yeah. Every time I’m like for an hour leading up to it, I’m like, I don’t want to do it. Don’t make me. But then when I’m done, I’m like, okay, that wasn’t a big deal. But it was all that energy I wasted hating it.
Jenna Urben: Yep. That’s a really good idea. I should do that exercise.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I think it’s good for anyone listening just to have a list of things that you intend to remove from your life eventually. Oh, I have a question for you, Jenna. So you mentioned email and then this is something I struggle with because even when I’m taking time off, this is something that I continue doing. I always write my Eat Blog Talk Monday emails by myself. I don’t know that I need to fully do that. I could probably schedule some, I could hand some off. So do people want to know that I’m taking time off or do they not care? You mentioned earlier, like I wrote down, like you haven’t left like acting like you haven’t left. Is it valuable to act like you haven’t left or is it more valuable to be upfront and let people know that you’re taking time for yourself?
Jenna Urben: Okay. This is something that I really think about, especially when it comes to emails. I really think that it just depends on personal preference. Do you like sharing tidbits from your real life, like what you’re truly doing, like that week? I feel like some bloggers absolutely love writing paragraphs upon paragraphs. I know yours aren’t paragraphs, but like they just love filling in all these different life updates along with recipes and just all this stuff. Like from a reader, and from a user, I think it’s super interesting. But I also, when I receive it because I subscribe to all my creator friends. I also love when it’s just here’s a new recipe for this cake. Here’s the link. Have a good week. Goodbye. I also love that. So I really, I think it depends on like just which you prefer and then also going back to what frees up the most mental space for you. So I’ve actually scheduled out my emails all the way through January 2024.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. Are you kidding?
Jenna Urben: I’m not kidding.
Megan Porta: Jenna, that’s so inspiring.
Jenna Urben: Okay. It took a full day, like a full working business day to do, which I feel is pretty good. I should say, it’s once a week, so it’s not two or three times, it’s one email a week. I did leave the last week of the month open and I made like thought starters for myself to go back in, with the intention of the last week will either be a roundup. So for October, it’ll be a pumpkin, every pumpkin recipe I have. It’ll either be like that, so not necessarily Hey, it’s Jenna. It’s. Cold outside, it’s pumpkin season. It could be that, but more so it’s just yay, October pumpkin season, here are my recipes. But since I’m still actively working right now and probably through June, maybe some of July we’ll see what I have been doing is there’s still the roundup post, but I actually did like what you’re saying at the top, I said a note from Jenna and it was like, Hey, we got a new air fryer. Check out my favorite kitchen appliances here. Check out the new recipes I’ve published this month below because I’m writing new posts right now. But they’re not necessarily getting their individual new post, whatever. That’s what I have been doing. I personally find that my audience doesn’t respond as well to Roundup posts. They really like the here’s the recipe, click goodbye. So since I know that’s why the roundup he posts are like just my way to be like, here’s new posts. This is the best way for me to get it out. Especially since I have all of my other emails scheduled out. But of course, I want to get the new posts out too. So that was my solution to that. There are two things. So also knowing one, if I notice that these emails just are not resonating, I can always go in and edit them. Then two, like I can always switch stuff around. If I really wanted to, I don’t know, let’s say I made an Easter recipe that I really want to get out right now. I can go in and reschedule whatever I have and add in the new one. But again, I feel like the theme of this is really just bringing up my mental load. It’s fine. It’s okay. Just choose something and move on.
Megan Porta: Nothing is etched in stone is another theme that we’ve talked about. If you make a change, it doesn’t have to be a forever change. The little things will add up when you remove them from your mental load.
Jenna Urben: In your emails, you’ll include, we’re camping this week somewhere. I do like knowing that.
Megan Porta: I like sharing that and I don’t foresee changing that. But what I’m thinking is that everything under my initial paragraph could be written by somebody else. So like podcast updated or published this week. Someone else could do that for me. Prep the email, and then all I would need to do is hop in and write my intro paragraph. It would take me five minutes and then I could press send.
Jenna Urben: Yes. That’s really smart.
Megan Porta: So I might do that this summer because it’s not a big deal, but again, it adds up. On Monday morning when I’m on the road and we were at the campfire late and we slept in late on Monday morning and I’m like, oh, dang it. I have to write an email. So then I’m scrambling and stressing and I’d rather not do that. I’d rather just pop in and write a few sentences and press send. Okay. I have another question about emails before we get too far from that topic. Do you recommend, and are you doing anything like this to prep an out-of-office email? I won’t be as attentive in the next week. I’m on vacation or anything like that.
Jenna Urben: Okay. Yes. I’ve never done it. We recently went to Hawaii and I wanted to try it then. Because we were gone for a week or like a little over a week and sometimes, like I do feel bad when I don’t respond to people, especially brands. But of course, I didn’t plan for it, and if I don’t plan for it, it just doesn’t happen. If it’s not on the to-do list, it doesn’t exist. So I didn’t. But I did have it written out on a sticky note actually, so that I will not forget to set this out of office. Megan, I was listening to one of your old podcast episodes where you all talked about leave and out-of-office emails and I don’t remember exactly what the guests was, but I basically copied it, and took from it. But since I’m not really giving myself a duration, I’m going to be out for three months, or I’m going to be out for one. I truly have no idea. I can read it. I literally have it sitting in front of me, but I left it like incredibly open-ended. So basically it’s just thanks for reaching out. I’m currently on maternity leave. Please be patient with my response time. That’s what I’m thinking. Very simple.
Megan Porta: No, that’s really good because people have a ton of grace for that. Oh my gosh, a baby. Of course. There’s no messing with that. You take as much time as you need, basically. So I love that. It’s short and sweet. They don’t have to dig into a whole paragraph. They know exactly what you’re saying right off the bat.
Jenna Urben: So I’ve seen some out-of-office emails that have a date and I’m like, oof, I’m not giving myself a date.
Megan Porta: Oh no, don’t do that. Or you can keep changing it. Just Yes, revise it every week.
Jenna Urben: Exactly. I guess I could put October or whatever, but I was like, I don’t want to give myself any sort of timeline. Let’s just keep it simple, keep it easy. But that podcast, there were a lot of golden nuggets in that one, but that was something that I was like, I for sure need to do an out-of-office email. I don’t remember what the setting is in my phone, but basically just turn off like essentially all notifications. I do that when I take vacations and whew, it is so great. I have to manually go in and refresh and then I’m like, flooded with them. But like I really should keep it on just always, honestly, now that I think about it.
Megan Porta: I don’t have any notifications on my phone except for texts, and calls. But nothing pops up on my phone.
Jenna Urben: I should really do that. I did that for Slack because I’ve joined a few channels now or whatever.
Megan Porta: Slack alone is oof!
Jenna Urben: Oh my gosh. Yes. I’m the type of person who if I see a red notification bubble. Oh, my anxiety is spiking.
Megan Porta: That’s why I did this. I made this change a few years ago and it’s been life-changing, honestly. So vacation isn’t as much of a transition for me anymore. It used to be like, whoa, night and day from notification overload to nothing. Because I would try to ignore it on vacation too. But now it’s oh, just the same kind of thing. You don’t have to stick with it, but at least try it. I recommend that for everyone. Just give it a try for a week and see how your life changes and I bet it will.
Jenna Urben: I really love that because that is something that I have been thinking about. Just the things that I do daily that will just stop. How jarring that could be. Even just looking at my analytics, I’ve tried to get better at don’t open Google Analytics every single morning because we’re not going to be doing that. Oh, I like that. I’m inspired.
Megan Porta: It’s a process though, and takes real intentionality I’ve found. But if you are serious about wanting to protect your time and your energy, which I’ve been lately, then it’s, yeah. You can prioritize it. I cannot believe how fast this has gone. Okay. We have a few more minutes, but I have one more question for you. I feel like this is like a coaching call. Thank you, Jenna, for helping me record our live coaching call. Because I have a vacation coming up, so it’s just a week-long, a little over a week. We’re going in our RV to visit my dad and I’ve been working really hard so that I don’t have to work on the road. I think I’m going to do it, but one thing remaining that is a question mark for me, and I want to get your thoughts, are those little responses to people. I get DMs all the time on Instagram from people just Hey, I love your podcast. Or do you have a resource for this? One of the reasons I love my job is that I like being able to deliver those little responses back to people. So I actually really like that. But how do I handle that on the road? How do you plan to do that with your upcoming leave? Do you plan to have automation saying I’m out, or what would you do?
Jenna Urben: Oh, this is something that I truly struggle with, like I, I mentioned we were just in Hawaii and whenever we’re waking up, having breakfast, having our tea, that’s like our time. We totally could just relax, but like we, both my husband and I, we like getting on Twitter and seeing what’s going on in the world and that was my time when I would get onto Instagram and I would see similar things to what you’re saying, Megan. Like someone saying Tried your banana bread. Love it. I want to tell them thank you. Or I definitely did not need to do this when we were in Hawaii, but the Instagram broadcast channels rolled out and I got access and it was a chill day. We were going to the beach, we were just hanging out. So I did use it, and then I got a million messages like, what the heck is this? What is this, Jenna? Then I was like, crap. This was probably not the best thing to do. But honestly, I do struggle with that because again, first of all, like seeing that I have an unread notification, it does for whatever reason affect me. But then if I open it and I don’t respond, there is no way I’m remembering to go back in.
Megan Porta: Yes. Same.
Jenna Urben: So like honestly, I feel like one, I’m going to have to turn off notifications when maternity leave comes, but I do like the idea of setting up an automatic reply on Instagram and I’ve seen where you can do it. I’ve never done it, but I know that you can. I think may be similar to the out-of-office email, just saying I’m currently on leave, so please be patient with my response time. That kind of gives you an out for not responding, but also if you want to respond then you can wait 15 minutes or a day or if you are so inclined, which I know I am often, to reply. It’s not like it has to be instant. That’s something that I definitely do need to figure out, especially if I plan on being on Instagram stories at all. Which if I was going to show up anywhere, it probably would be Instagram stories. But with that would probably come messages. So it’s figuring out like, how much do I want to put myself out there during that time? Then also, do I want to be responding? I don’t know. Yeah. I feel like that’s hard.
Megan Porta: I know because on the one hand, I’d rather not touch my phone. But on the other hand, I don’t want to come back after a week and find 200 messages that I have to go through because I’m not the kind of person to just ignore. Maybe this is a problem for me that I need to sort through, but in my industry, I feel like I need to at least respond to everyone. I don’t necessarily need to be delivering the best 15-minute response, high value, or anything like that. But at least I need to acknowledge it. So the thought of being so overwhelmed by a ton of messages at the end of my week is not good. That’s not good for me.
Jenna Urben: I know. I feel that same way. But you do have a virtual assistant or an assistant. So I do feel like for those messages that you’re probably receiving, you’d have to give them access to that account, which maybe they already have or maybe they don’t. But if they do, that could be a really easy way for them to screen, is someone asking for a podcast episode or a resource? Or honestly, I know that like a big part of our job is the connections, and like I know like whenever I get a message saying anything heartfelt, it truly does mean a lot and like I really do feel, I’m like, oh my gosh, they took the time to message me. I love that interaction. However, you could in theory have someone else respond, and say thank you or whatever. But that totally takes away the good connection and warm fuzzies that we get from this job.
Megan Porta: Yeah. But it’s hard. The bottom line is there’s no easy answer. You have to sacrifice something. I feel like the human connection. I don’t have anyone on my Instagram account. I just feel like that’s the one place where I want people to know they can go where it’s just me. Nobody else is going to be there. It is true. So the conclusion I’ve come to after our chat, Jenna, is that I will go on Instagram daily, but I’m going to limit my time. So I think I will set a 10-minute timer. You have 10 minutes to get through these 10 messages. So then I just have to figure that out. Coordinate my time so it aligns with that. Then that’s it. Then I don’t have a million at the end of the time at my week.
Jenna Urben: Yeah. Yeah. I like that. I do the idea too, of. Setting up an automated message on Instagram as well. I do like that. I’m going to look into that too.
Megan Porta: Okay. Is there anything we’ve missed that you feel like people should have on their radar if they are planning to take time off and just want to prep like you are?
Jenna Urben: I think we covered it.
Megan Porta: Okay. We talked a lot. So again, Jenna’s having a baby, so that’s a really good reason to take time off. But if you can, and I know Jenna would too, encourage you to just experiment with this and maybe if you want to have extra time with your family this summer, even if it’s just a week or three days or something, try it because it’s so freeing. As food bloggers, we’re in our businesses so much that that time off is just special. I just love having time off to breathe and not be totally immersed in my job. In the episode you referred to earlier, Jenna, that you said was super helpful, is number 50 on Eat Blog Talk, so if you want to listen to that one as well. She talked about maternity leave as well, but gave a lot of tips just for in general, leaving her business for a period and making money during that time.
Jenna Urben: Yes. I was like, there was some other aspect to it as well. Yes. That was a really good one.
Megan Porta: Thank you, Jenna. It’s always so much fun talking to you. I love our conversations. They fly by. Do you have another quote or words of inspiration you’d like to share with us?
Jenna Urben: First of all, I love chatting with you too, Megan. I went into this thinking like, oh, this is going to be like a quick 20-minute episode. Sorry.
Megan Porta: No, this has been all good. I feel like we could have gone on and on, so I feel like we did pretty well.
Jenna Urben: Okay, good. Good. Yeah, I actually do have a quote that I heard, I heard it either on TikTok or Reels and I have no idea where it came from, but I have been clinging onto it and I feel like it’s going to be my quote for the year and it’s, I am capable and everything is figureoutable.
Megan Porta: Is that from Marie Forlio?
Jenna Urben: I don’t know. I tried to feel like I tried to look. I don’t know.
Megan Porta: I love that so much, Jenna. It’s so true. We need to remind ourselves of that all the time, right?
Jenna Urben: Yes. I have it like written out in every room. I’m not kidding.
Megan Porta: I love it. What a great way to end. Then I also thought of this as you were saying your quote, something else just to mention before we officially say goodbye is if you are planning time off, and this goes for you too, Jenna, just have grace with yourself and not assume that it’s going to be the perfect leave and you’re going to have all your stuff scheduled and your traffic is going to be flowing and everything’s going to be amazing because things will happen. But it’s okay. That’s what’s great about our businesses is that they’re flexible. We are our bosses, we can go with the flow. So Jenna, as you’re going into your leave, just remember that too. Have grace with yourself. Let yourself enjoy the time, even if everything isn’t perfect when you have your baby.
Jenna Urben: Thank you. Honestly, I feel like having you and others in the community who share these reminders and share How special the time leaves are, like, of course, I’m having a baby, which is like just mind-blowing first of all. But it’s of course it’s one of the most special times of my entire life. I really like leaning into that and it’s such a short period of time. I’ve had that reminder from countless people and every time I hear it, it’s like the first time. So yeah hearing your words of advice and encouragement and really being surrounded by all of you in the community is like hearing it, it does make a difference and it’s such a good reminder even though I keep telling myself, I’m giving myself grace. It’s no, give yourself more grace.
Megan Porta: Yes. More. Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. You’ll cherish this time. It’s a blip. I often look at my teenage boys and I’m like, oh my gosh, I wish I could go back and just cherish those moments a little bit more.
Jenna Urben: I’ve heard that and that’s what I’m really trying to keep that top of mind because that’s all I hear. Yeah, I’m glad that you shared that.
Megan Porta: Wow. I almost got teary. I did not expect that.
Jenna Urben: Me too! Dang!
Megan Porta: Okay. We’re going to put show notes together for you, Jenna. So if you want to go look at those, you can go to eatblogtalk.com/theUrbenLife4, numeral four, and Urben is spelled with an E U R B E N. Tell everyone where they can find you, Jenna.
Jenna Urben: Oh yes. You can find me just about on any social media at The Urben Life and theurbanlife.com. And since I did talk about my podcast…
Megan Porta: Yes, I was hoping you would.
Jenna Urben: I do have a podcast too, and a website that corresponds. Blogger Bytes. Bytes Is spelled b y t e s because I just cannot spell anything the normal way. Yeah, I plan on, they’re going to stay alive and well, and I want to be around as much as possible. If I want to be around, I’m around. So I want to stay connected in a healthy way. So that’s how I’m entering that. Everyone, please message me still. I don’t want to fall off the face of the earth.
Megan Porta: Preface it with, this is what I normally do when someone, I know someone’s on leave. Don’t feel like you need to reply, but just wanted to let you know, whatever. So then it’s permission to read it and delete it.
Jenna Urben: Oh, I like that.
Megan Porta: Yes. Yes. Okay. I love this chat. Thank you so much, Jenna. This is going to help so many people and encourage them as they’re preparing to take time off. So thank you so much for being here, and thank you for listening today, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
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