Ep. 109: Turning a Blog into a Business

Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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On today's reverse interview episode, listener Bethany joins me to talk about how to turn a blog into a business.


We're back with our 109th episode of the Fed+Fit Podcast! Remember to check back every Monday for a new episode and be sure to subscribe on iTunes!

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Episode 109 Sponsors

  • Aaptiv – be sure to enter the promo code “FEDANDFIT” (one word, all caps) at checkout, and your first 30 days are on the house!
  • PrepDish – Join the 21-day meal prep challenge & learn how to make meal prep a lasting habit by clicking HERE!

Episode 109 Transcription

Today’s show is brought to you by Aaptiv! Aaptiv is a fabulous app and robust online community that allows you access to top notch, motivating personal trainers who guide you through an audio-based workout that is timed to your choosing with fun, perfectly synchronized music. Like Netflix for fitness; Aaptiv gives members unlimited access to their entire bank of high-end, trainer-led workout classes. So if you’re looking for fresh, high quality, on the go, motivating workouts that adapt to your lifestyle, I highly recommend Aaptiv.

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Cassy Joy: Welcome back to another episode of the Fed and Fit podcast. I’m excited today. I just stinking love these episodes! I almost said freaking loving these episodes, and then I stopped myself because I was afraid freaking was a bad word, then I realized it wasn’t. I just had to own that whole little…

Bethany: Just own up to it.

Cassy Joy: I did. I had to own where my brain went just then. But I just love these episodes. We’re doing another reverse interview today where I have invited Bethany. She is in Jacksonville, Florida, to come on the show today for a reverse interview. For those of you who are new here, this is where a Fed and Fit listener or reader will write in with a great question. And instead of just answering their questions via email, I invite them to come on the show where she and I will have a conversation, record it, and hopefully publish it to the podcast with the hopes that it helps other folks that are out there. Because I really think that some of these questions that I get, there’s definitely more than just one of you out there and I really think this is going to be a great conversation.

So the way that it works is that I essentially hand Bethany the baton to lead the show. I’m here to answer whatever her questions are. We’ll have a great discussion. And hopefully it will help lots of folks. Welcome to the show, Bethany!

Bethany: Thank you. I really appreciate it. It’s so much fun to be here.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, it’s so fun for me, for you to be here. Oh my gosh. My brain; it needs a jump start today. Bethany and I actually got to meet in person not too long ago. I was visiting family in Jacksonville, and we were there for about 4 days. And I got a little twitchy; it’s hard for me to be away from work for that long. And so I thought a fun to do would be to do a quick meet up. So I posted; I think it was just on Snapchat. It was some place…

Bethany: Yeah, I think it was Snapchat. I think that’s where I found you.

Cassy Joy: Was it Snapchat? Ok. It was some place pretty small. I didn’t broadcast it everywhere. But I said, we’re going to do a quick meetup if anyone in Jacksonville area wants to come out. So obviously really short notice, but we all met up at a coffee shop there where a good 6; I think 5 or 6 of us were there. And Bethany was one of the ones who came out. So it’s so fun to be able to; I already have a face to your voce.

Bethany: Yep.

Cassy Joy: But yeah. Tell folks a little bit more about yourself, and some of the questions you’ve got today.

Bethany: Yeah. Of course, I’d love to. So I started paleo back in October 2013. I originally wasn’t into anything healthy, any sort of healthier lifestyle. Any sort of particular lifestyle such as paleo. I ate whatever I wanted when I wanted kind of thing. It’s horrible to say that, but I didn’t have any healthy eating habits whatsoever. My boyfriend was the one that introduced me to this paleo lifestyle. And he was like, “This is something that I would like to try. I want to do this with you. Let’s do this together.” We lived together, so it’d just be easier to just do it together. I was a little bit reluctant, because of course I’m the one that was going to be the cook. So figuring out how to go paleo was a little bit daunting. However, we moved down to Gainesville to go to UF for a little bit, and I had some time off while we were in school to just figure out the food situation. I learned how to cook; I picked it up rather quick. It wasn’t anything that was as daunting as I thought it was going to be, because paleo is pretty easy. It’s just your healthy fats, it was your healthy proteins, and your vegetables. So it’s just kind of like playing around and figuring out how to cook vegetables differently. And broil, and roast.

So when I went paleo, I noticed a lot of things that kind of changed for me. My headaches went away. I didn’t realize I had sugar headaches, I guess. So whenever I got rid of all of the sugars, I went through a big withdrawal. I had mood swings; it was ridiculous. They were really bad. But my headaches went away. I slept better. Which was a lot; I did get my normal 7.5 hours, but I started getting better sleep at like 8 hours and not having to wake up throughout the night. It was just altogether healthier and better for me. My mood was a lot more even keeled. I didn’t have those mood swings when it came around to that time of the month. Sorry if that’s a little personal.

Cassy Joy: No, share it. We’ve shared more.

Bethany: Yeah. So with that being said, I kind of just feel in love with it. I was going to UF for computer engineering, and that was a goal that I had at the time. And it was just a goal, unfortunately. It was something to go to school for, because I was kind of lost, and I didn’t really know what I wanted to do so I kind of set this goal. I went through all my engineering prerequisites, and then we went to UF to go for computer engineering; both my boyfriend and I. I fell in love with nutrition at the same time we transferred in with going paleo. And then I started wanting to read more about nutrition, and figuring out how to help people with ailments. I also had eczema that went away, so that was pretty awesome. I was pretty bad with eczema, it was on my neck and on my face. And then I realized once I went paleo it just kind of went away. That was something I never really realized was an issue until it wasn’t there anymore. So that was pretty cool.

But I realized that computer engineering isn’t where it was for me anymore. My heart wasn’t in it. I tried to figure out if I wanted to go to med school, or just kind of a branch that I wanted to go down. And I realized that nutrition; holistic nutrition, moreover; is where I wanted to go. So I left. I can’t believe I did it. I walked away from computer engineering, and the debt that goes along with it. I walked away. And I’m not pursuing starting my own business with holistic nutrition. Figuring out where to go to school. I’ve listened to a few podcasts of yours on how to start that career. So I have that more figured out than the whole business aspect of everything. So that’s what I would like to pick your brain about today.

Cassy Joy: Yeah!

Bethany: I feel like that was a super long introduction.

Cassy Joy: I love it! I love the backstory.

Bethany: I’m so sorry!

Cassy Joy: Don’t apologize. I bet that really encouraged a lot of folks. Because there are listeners here; not everybody is very well versed in paleo, so I’m really glad you shared that. That’s a really awesome journey.

Bethany: Yeah. It was a scary time; but I was like, you kind of have to go for what you like. No matter how much time and effort you put into one thing. If you give it up, then you give it up, and you move on to what you really, really enjoy. So that’s where I’m at today.

Cassy Joy: That’s wonderful. Well congratulations.

Bethany: Thank you.

Cassy Joy: Very cool. Well, what is your overall vision for your business?

Bethany: My overall vision; I, right now, have more of a vision to help people in a sense. Right now, starting out, since it’s going to be so tiny I am going to just be writing some blog posts and kind of getting a feel for it and just seeing if this is something that I really would like to do. Because I feel like a lot of people are gung-ho at first, and then they get into and they’re like; “Eww. I don’t really like writing.” {laughs} Or, “I don’t really like putting out 5 recipes in a month.” So on and so forth. So I’m trying to kind of do a little trial and error beforehand, and trying to figure out exactly where my heart lies. But I have a lot of people around me that have certain ailments, like Hashimoto’s, or endometriosis. So I’m trying to figure out a way to reach those people. Not necessarily just autoimmune issues, but just overall health concerns. So I’m trying to figure out a way to reach people doing that while doing something that I really like to do, like cooking, and recipe developing, and possibly even doing cute little beauty posts and fashion posts that you do. Just to kind of switch it up a little bit.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. I think that’s great. Do you kind of have an idea of how you would work with people? I would assume that would be more under professional services capacity, like consulting, is that right?

Bethany: Right.

Cassy Joy: And you kind of have a good idea of how you would do that already?

Bethany: I actually don’t have a good idea. I know that I would like to bring on clients. But maybe how many; do you have clients currently? How many did you start with, particularly?

Cassy Joy: Good question. So I actually don’t have any more one-on-one clients. Which may be a part of why I love these interviews so much. Because I get to work with people one on one. I got to a point in my consulting practice where I was maxed out. The amount of time that I would pour into each of my nutrition consulting clients was pretty; for any nutrition consultants or NTPs or NTCs listening to this, they’re probably nodding their head. It takes an extraordinary amount of time to really devote to a person when they sign on for consulting. And me personally, the amount of work I was doing. I couldn’t take on more than 10 clients at a time, and also run a blog.

Bethany: Oh wow.

Cassy Joy: So that was really full time for me. And with my clients, it was very much a, “You can reach me any time.” But I had folks that I was having to turn away, and I didn’t like that. So what I did is I took some of my biggest lessons learned from my one on one coaching, and turned it into a program. An online program.

Bethany: I like that. I saw that; the perfect you plan. I like that.

Cassy Joy: Yep, exactly. So that’s the Fed and Fit Project. And that’s what I call my online program. There’s a copy of it in the Fed and Fit book. And that was born, truly, from my one on one consulting practice. The things that I noticed worked the best from person to person to person. So what I like to think of it as it’s 80% of the solution. Out of the box; here’s an 80% solution. It will get you 80% of the way there. And then the extra 20% to get you to the final finish line; that perfect you plan, only you can answer for yourself. So you give folks the tools to figure out how to do that. So that’s the Fed and Fit Project. And now through the project, we serve about 100 folks a month.

Bethany: Oh, wow.

Cassy Joy: So it’s kind of blossomed from that. So not necessarily any more one on one coaching in a sense; aside from my beauty business. I do one on one business coaching with those folks. But on the nutrition side, I’m available for those folks, members of the project. But we wrote a whole bunch of material, so they get emails, and they get videos, and they get all kinds of support documents. And then a couple live coaching calls a month. So that’s kind of how I’ve done that. But you don’t have to have clients necessarily to open your door. So I think, if this is the route you want to go, I think this is a really, really great route. I think it sounds like your heart is definitely wanting to work with folks. And a really good way to figure out what your long-term; when I started coaching people one on one, I did not have it in my plan to do a program. It was not at all on my radar. The program was borne out of; I had to figure out what I could do to scale.

Bethany: Gotcha.

Cassy Joy: So it was a product of just needing to figure out a way to serve more folks. But I think that starting with one on one coaching; there’s such a need for that out there. We’re trying to figure out a way, actually, to reverse engineer it. Bringing on more coaches onto our team, so that they can coach within the format of the Project; coming soon. If anybody is listening; we don’t have that up and running yet. But we’re working on it. Sometime probably in the next 3 to 6 months. But anyways. I hope that’s kind of helpful, that explanation.

Bethany: That is extremely helpful, yes. Because I never really thought about how much time. I mean, I understood how much time it would take, but expanding it into the Fed and Fit Project, that makes a lot of sense now. To be able to help people in a vast majority instead of just such a scaled amount of people.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Bethany: Yeah, that definitely opens up a little bit more.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. I would say that if you want to work with folks; if you want to work as a consultant in health and wellness in that spectrum. And Florida is going to have its own rules and regulations; every state is going to have its own different rules and regulations. So folks listening who want to do something similar, I definitely recommend sit down, jump into Google, and see what you can find as far as what are the requirements to be able to work with people in this capacity. But let’s just say the requirements are very few and far between. If you want to work with people one on one, there are a couple of different ways. Let’s just assume that you already have the necessary requirements. Let’s just state that.

There are a couple of different ways you can take your practice. You can either start as a content creator. And this is the path that it sounds like you want to go. It sounds like you do have the desire to write blog posts, to build your own personal brand. To get out there as someone who is creating and publishing content that is helping to move the needle. To really forward the industry. And that’s a really great way to go. So that becomes the website. Your website, your blog, becomes your storefront. It becomes what people see and how they come to trust you. They will read your content, and they will either think that yes, you're a great fit for me and I’m going to reach out to her and see if she’s got any openings. Or, not. You’ll find your tribe. And that’s a really great way to do it.

Another way to go; and you can, of course, create hybrids of any of these models. Is to just reach out to your local physicians, your family practices. The general medicine clinics around town, and introduce yourself as a local nutrition consultant. Or a nutritionist, or a dietician, whatever the requirement is. Introduce yourself, and say, “If you have any patients, I would love to work with you and them.” Be a part of this wellness team. And that’s a really great way to get referrals. So you can get referral clients from in-person, going to talk to physicians’ offices, and/or you can have your own website where you're funneling people in from that regard. Is that kind of helpful to you?

Bethany: Yes, very.

Cassy Joy: Ok. Am I answering some of your questions? I’m just rambling. {laughs}

Bethany: Yeah, you are. I am going to focus more on a few questions concerning your blog, if that’s ok. Kind of switch gears a little bit.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. Go for it.

Bethany: Because I do have more business-oriented questions for you, just focusing specifically on blog business.

Cassy Joy: Let’s hear it.

Bethany: On average, how many hours a week do you spend working on your blog/business?

Cassy Joy: Whoo, that’s a good question.

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Bethany: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: So, my blog. It is an 8-legged animal at this point. And it depends on what you would consider the blog. The legs of my business, just so you know where I’m spending the majority of my time, is going to be developing new free content. That would be blog. And that would be either developing a recipe, taking photos of products, consulting with different brands who I might be wanting to work with. Writing the actual recipe, writing the actual blog post, editing photos, and publishing. So that would be something that would go under the blog format. I would say also under the blog you could call the podcast as a part of the blog, as well. Because it shows up on the same website. So we do all the graphic design for that, the recording, the editing, the publishing.

Oh man. I feel like I need a white board. What else falls under the blog? Some fashion posts. Some beauty posts. Those posts typically; beauty, specifically, I spend a little bit more time on those articles than any of the other ones. Because I really want to make sure that I’m presenting the best science. I want to make sure I’m presenting the best information there. So there’s a lot of research that goes into those posts. The 5 ingredients to avoid. We spend a lot of time, as a team, developing those articles. So I would say, on average, I probably spend between 3 and 4 hours a day on just my blog in general. And when I say blog, I’m thinking the free content.

Bethany: Right.

Cassy Joy: Right? The things I publish for free. The podcast, the recipes, the beauty articles. The fashion posts. I would say that’s about fair. I would also say fashion photo shoots could get rolled up into the 3-4 hours a day. And I actually work 6 days a week. I don’t work 5 days a week. So that’s a good 24 hours a week or so.

And then I would say I also spend another; I feel like that’s an underestimate. It may be more than that. But I also, on other legs of the business, I have my Fed and Fit podcast, the online program. And I probably spend a good 2 hours a day on that. Developing content, working with my team to making sure that we have good plans set for the future. That’s between 1 and 2 hours a day. I have my Beautycounter business, which is a big affiliate program that I’m a part of. That contributes a lot to our team. And I have my own separate team of people that I work with there. And I spend about 8 hours a week coaching those folks, making myself available for one on one business consulting.

I feel like I’m forgetting something. There’s definitely more stuff that I do. What do I do? Book stuff. {laughs} Oh man. Anyway, it’s just kind of the full gamut. The blog, I would say probably does take up the most time right now. Anytime I have a new; and I also spend a good 5 hours a week on whatever my new project is. Whether that’s this food product that I’m working on putting together. And I think I might have even mentioned it to you girls when we were in Florida.

Bethany: You did; yeah.

Cassy Joy: Still top secret. And I actually changed my plan. But we’ll have details out soon, because I finally got the website. So we’re going to have a graphic up ASAP. So you guys won’t have to wait for a product to be available to learn about what I’m working on. But I spend, I would say, about 5 hours a week on that stuff. Interviewing people, trying to learn as much as possible. Working on things like that. Is that helpful?

Bethany: Extremely helpful. Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Ok.

Bethany: Ok, so next question. How long until you were able to quit your job and run your business full time?

Cassy Joy: So I took the advice to keep my job as long as possible. And I think that was really good advice. I kept my day job so to speak until; I had actually hired somebody under Fed and Fit and I still had my day job. Because I wanted to make sure that I felt secure in my business before I was able to really support. Because it was important to me to continue to grow. And for a long time, I took every dollar that Fed and Fit made and put it right back into the business. I didn’t earn a single penny off of it for about 5.5 years. Which is nuts; there’s no reason why it should take that long for other people. Or maybe it does take that long; I don’t know. It’s hard to say. I think of myself as a relatively tenacious person, but I’m also sometimes a very slow learner. So I’m sure there are people out there who can do it much faster than I did. And I’m happy, like in these conversations, to share all the things that I did that helped make that possible. took me about 5.5 years until I really felt comfortable stepping down.

Bethany: Ok. I remember you mentioning that it was 5 years, or 5.5 years until you started making any monetary; any sort of money at all from your website. So I figured it would be about 5 years until you were able to quit your day job.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, definitely. And that’s also about the same time that I started working on my book. And then when my book came out; and that’s a whole misnomer. You don’t actually money on books; on printed books. I mean, there’s a way, definitely. But you don’t get paid; when I signed my contract, I didn’t get my first book distribution until almost 2.5 years later.

Bethany: Oh my goodness!

Cassy Joy: So it’s just; you don’t write a book, necessarily, to make money. It’s really just a 400-page business card. That’s all it is. And everything else that you do, like the book tour, the materials that go into writing the book, and your time, is self-funded. Unless you get an advance, and that’s a whole nother bag of worms we can talk about at another time. But it’s pretty interesting. Which is part of the reason why I had to pour every penny back into Fed and Fit. So the company was making money. I did have my consulting practice. I did have my program when the beta group launched. And I did have advertising revenue. It’s not quite what it is now today, but it was enough to help fund those endeavors.

Bethany: Ok. Alright. That’s really interesting. {laughs} {cell phone rings} I’m so sorry.

Cassy Joy: You’re fine!

Bethany: Hey dad. I’m going to have to call you back. I didn’t mean to answer that phone call.

Cassy Joy: Hi dad!

Bethany: Hi dad! Oh my goodness. I’m helping my dad with his business right now too.

Cassy Joy: Oh, awesome! It’s a family of entrepreneurs.

Bethany: I did not mean to answer that. I am so sorry.

Cassy Joy: It’s ok girl. We’re good.

Bethany: Anywho. So the next question would be; after you find your name and publish a few blog posts, how do you market yourself? Is Facebook still a viable marketing option? What’s your go-to platform?

Cassy Joy: Oh. That’s a good question. I would say; I’m going to start with your last question and work my way backwards. My go-to platform; my personal go-to platform in Instagram. But I have a very image-friendly content. So I’ve got food; that’s definitely picture oriented. People want to see pictures of food and descriptions of food. Fashion is picture oriented, obviously. Beauty-type products; that’s picture oriented. Products in general are picture oriented. And then I throw in real life. My garden, and Gus, and things like that. So Instagram is a really nice place to house all that content. And I find it to actually be the easiest place for people for us to interact. For me to interact with readers. Because they can very easily comment there. I think it’s one of the more intuitive platforms out there.

Oh my gosh; Bethany, this is nuts. This morning, I was trying to create a Facebook group. A page, a secret page for my Beautycounter team. Because I wanted a place where I could talk to them about just the coaching kind of activities that I do with just that group of people. And Facebook has gotten so elaborate and so complicated, that I feel like I should have sat down and listened to a class first before I made this group. And I accidentally created a group, “Friends who like Diane Sanfilippo.” And I accidentally invited; I created this group, and invited 40 of my friends. {laughs}

Bethany: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: For those of you listening, you don’t know, Diane Sanfilippo is a fellow author, blogger, and she’s a really good, dear friend of mine. But I was like, “These people are going to think I’m this freak flag waving fan girl!” I accidentally made this group. As an aside. I texted her about it, and I was like; just so you know, I’m your number one fan apparently. So I find Facebook to be slightly more confusing. It’s good for long-form conversations. If you have a lot of content that you want to post in a Facebook post and you’d rather get some really in-depth conversations there. It’s easier for people to share on Facebook and that’s wonderful. But for the most part, because my content is so image-heavy, I find that Instagram is much easier.

Now, that being said, I would go where the people are. So if you find that your people are on Facebook, then go there. If you find that your people are on Snapchat, go there. Instagram, go there. I don’t know the other platforms, because I don’t have that kind of commitment. But I would say go to where the people are. Go to where they respond the most. I’ve kind of started to gravitate away from Snapchat because I got so much more engagement on Instagram. So many more people are there. Like, 10 times the amount of people, since I started doing Instagram stories. So that’s why I started doing that. Go where the people are, and as often as you can, try to do video.

Bethany: Ok.

Cassy Joy: So I would say that video is definitely where everything is going. So if you're wanting to be a content creator and share your ideas and share these topics, then try to create; whether it’s a Facebook live video. That’s one tool on Facebook that I do adore, is the Facebook live component. Where people can type in when you're on.

Bethany: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: I think that’s a really great thing to do. Instagram live is great. Instagram stories are great. Snapchat is great; but again, know your audience. Know who is really out there.

Bethany: Mm-hmm.

Cassy Joy: And then how do you market yourself is an interesting question. I think that in a lot of ways; I don’t think about how to market myself. I really don’t. The thing that has worked for me when it comes to marketing, is I have just created the content that readers have asked me to create, and then I told them it was there.

Bethany: Beautiful.

Cassy Joy: It really is that simple. I don’t have this big elaborate plan. I don’t have a brand vision board. It’s just me. I’m kind of hacking away at this thing. And there’s no big brand image consulting that goes on. And if you guys have followed me for a while, you probably may have picked up on that. But really, if folks ask for things, then I try to give them those things and tell them that it’s up. That is my whole marketing plan. You wanted a podcast? Here’s the podcast, and here’s where you can find it. You know? Here’s the content in it so you know what to expect. I’m going to publish a taco recipe today, so here’s a taco recipe that I offered you guys. And then that’s it. Try to take good photos. Try to deliver yourself as well as possible. But at the end of the day, it’s up to the reader to decide if it’s really going to be useful to them.

Bethany: Great. Ok. Let’s see. Flowing right into my next question, this actually works out really well. If you get a lot of requests for your blog topics, what are the top 3 most requested?

Cassy Joy: Top 3 most requested blog topics.

Bethany: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: That’s a good question. I would say; Fed and Fit is a recipe blog, right? It’s very, very heavy in recipes. I have over 300 free recipes on my blog, and then another 200 in my book. So that’s definitely something that comes up a lot. And in terms of recipes, I get a lot of requests for slow cooker recipes; or nowadays would be Instant Pot. People are more interested in those. People love casseroles. They really love casserole recipes so I try to do at least one of those a month. And then I actually get a lot of requests from people to do more simple vegetables dishes. Not just necessarily; yeah, the proteins are great, and the big elaborate meals are great. But some folks are just like, “I just need a new way to eat broccoli.” You know? And I really get that. Sometimes I’m like; I need a new way to eat broccoli! So I would say those are the ones that comes up the most. And that’s where some of my best recipes have come from. I have a chunky Mexican coleslaw on right now that was written for that purpose, so folks could have a veggie side dish. And people are really loving that. My 4 greens soup has been a really huge success. People have really loved it. And that was written really because people ask for those kinds of dishes.

And then I also get a lot of requests on beauty reviews. So, what are the products I use on my hair? What are the products that I use in my house; home products, cleaning products. People want to know what I’m using and why I chose to use those. And again, those take a little bit more time. So I’m a little slower to get those up. And then I also get a lot of requests for people really wanting to see fashion stuff. So that’s why I started doing that. It’s a lot of fun. It keeps the creative juices flowing. But I would say that’s a good spread.

Bethany: I would have to agree about you have to kind of keep it fun, you know. Like doing recipes and all of that is what you're here for; but maybe switching it up and doing some beauty posts and doing some cute outfit posts kind of keeps your creative juices flowing, like you said. I have to kind of disconnect sometimes and do a painting every now and then to kind of remember I’m creative too.

Cassy Joy: Totally. Yeah, you're exactly right. My readers tend to really like science, the people listening are nodding their heads. They really like science podcasts. When I talk about; I don’t know why, but caffeine 101 came to mind. That episode already exists. But when we really jump into the science, take a Ms. Frizzle approach to the body, people really like those. Whether it’s a blog post or a podcast. So I think there’s definitely a need for making really complex scientific principles really fun conversational topics. So I think there’s a big need for that. And then I think that it’s also important; I talk to this a lot with my other blogger friends. Juli Bauer and I talked about this. Diane Sanfilippo and I have talked about this. But it’s important that; food is not my entire life, and it’s important, if we’re encouraging folks to approach the lifestyle. The entire lifestyle at large, to give a representation of what that looks like. So that does include beauty. How am I making decisions on skincare products? How am I making decisions on the things that go into my home? On fitness routines?

And then there’s this fun side of it, like we also get to dress up and go and be ourselves. And this is a really cool byproduct. When you feel healthy and happy and comfortable in your own skin, you want to get out there and wear a big poufy skirt. So that becomes a part of it as well.

Bethany: I completely agree. I definitely agree. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in the nutrition of things, and just surround yourself with the food aspect of it. But you have to kind of realize; it goes deeper than food.

Cassy Joy: Mm-hmm.

Bethany: It really does. Happiness is where it’s at, too. You have to smile. You have to laugh. It’s not just all food.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Bethany: Great. How do you monetize your blog? How did you monetize when you were small, and then what were some of the changes that you made once you got larger?

Cassy Joy: So when I monetized when I was smaller. Let’s see. I started; I think that anybody can develop some sort of a product. So for me, that was an eBook. A recipe eBook. I did the Holiday Feast eBook. And I spent a good amount of time on it. I hired a photographer for the cover. I mean, I was in it to win it. I really wanted this to be an impressive product for the buy. So I put a whole lot into this product. I think that when you're starting off, there’s nothing wrong with coming up with a very small thing that you can sell people. Whether it is a 5-steps to wellness guide. Something where, maybe it could have been a blog post, but you pour a little bit more into it. Maybe you put a couple of worksheets on it. Something like that that makes it a little bit interactive and of value to the end-user. And maybe you sell it for $5. It doesn’t have to be a crazy amount. And then have a link to that in your Instagram profile the whole time. On Facebook, talk about it a lot. And then on your website, have that on your main menu bar. “Get my guide.” You know? My 5-step guide. Something like that. Really something simple. I think that’s a really good thing to do. The Holiday Feast was a good one for me to get started.

I participated; I mean, I worked with some advertising networks, and at the beginning that didn’t bring in a whole lot of money until finally. You don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to advertising networks. You don’t know who the right fit is going to be for you, and where you're going to get the most reward. It takes a while. Eventually you’ll be able to find a company that I’m sure you like. But on average, I started making maybe $200 a month on advertisement on my website. And then I switched companies, and that number drastically changed. But I think $200 or so is a good one. Sign up for Amazon affiliates if you can. Some states have different regulations. But become an Amazon affiliate so whenever you talk about something on your blog. If you're talking about the Instant Pot, right? Then you put a link to the Instant Pot through your affiliate link. And it’s not going to; it doesn’t make tons and tons and tons of money, but every little bit counts.

So what you kind of have to do, when it comes to monetizing a blog, is you have to throw out a really wide net. Work with companies you're really proud to work with and be affiliate partners for them. So whenever you link to a bone broth, you may earn a small commission on it, but you love and you stand by that product. So that’s first and foremost. Make sure you're working with affiliate programs you really love and respect and are proud to refer to your readers. Sign up for Amazon whenever possible. Come up with some sort of a product to sell and just have it there. You don’t have to put it on iTunes; you don’t have to put it on Amazon as an eBook. You could just sell it as a direct download PDF on your website.

Let’s see, what else could we do? You could try to get into the sponsored post world, and a really great, professional way to get into that is to come up with a media kit. And a media kit is a PDF, maybe it’s one page, two pages. Mine is nutso because I can’t help myself. It’s 7 pages. But it just shows who you are, what you do, samples of your work, ways you’ve worked with other people, and then your rates. And that’s what you send to companies where you say, “I would love to work with you. I would love to develop.” Let’s say it’s Bob’s Red Mill. And you send this to Bob’s Red Mill PR group. You say, “Hey I would love to work with Bob’s Red Mill. I know they just came out with this new flour. If you have anything else in mind, I’m a grain-free baking specialist, and I would love to come up with some recipes. Here’s my media kit if you're interested in working together.” And you never know what that might turn into. I got 99 nos, and one yes. You just kind of have to get used to that, especially at the beginning. And eventually the scale starts to tip the other way. So that’s how I did it in the beginning.

Now, monetizing the blog I would say the majority; being very transparent. My income comes from three main buckets. It comes from affiliate programs; so that would be, I’ll put Amazon in there as an example, but Amazon is probably the smallest. So Amazon is in there. Other affiliate programs that I work with, like Primally Pure. I really love Primally Pure products. You guys hear me fangirl over them all the time. The body butter, the lip gloss. Not lip gloss; chapstick. What does she call it? Lip balm. {laughs} Those kinds of products. I love it so much. And I actually worked with her to develop this brand ambassador program. So I’m an affiliate for her. I earn a very small commission off of things that people click one of my links and buys something through her; I earn a very small commission. So those are those kinds of things. Beautycounter falls into that bucket. I’m a Beautycounter consultant. So when people purchase Beautycounter products through me, then I earn a commission off of that, as well. And again, these are only companies that I love and trust otherwise I wouldn’t work with them. So that’s a huge bucket for me, it represents about a third of my income.

Another third of my income comes from my Project; the Fed and Fit Project online. And keep in mind, also this is how I pay my team. My team is sponsored through my online program. So it’s a very large third, but that’s where a lot of it comes from. And then the last one I would say is a mix between advertising revenue on my blog and I would say sponsored posts or paid visits, presentations.

Bethany: Ok. Great. Gosh, you have it down to a science.

Cassy Joy: No, it just sounds that way. I actually don’t. {laughs}

Bethany: {laughs} You're like, “I’m just trying to seem like I’m put together.”

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Bethany: You do a very good job.

Cassy Joy: Oh, thanks.

Bethany: Another question; this is just kind of a general question. Not anything about blogging or anything. But what are some of your favorite business books, if you have any?

Cassy Joy: Whoo. Some of my favorite business books. I think Good to Great is a really good read. Don’t let good be the enemy of great, kind of thing. And then how to go from good to great is a great one. Oh my gosh. As soon as we get off this call I’m going to remember.

Bethany: I know, I put you on the spot. I’m so sorry!

Cassy Joy: No, don’t apologize. I should have these things at the top of my mind. I’m listening to You are a Badass, which so far I really like, by Jen Sincero, I think that’s how you say her name. I’m really enjoying that one. What else? Let me pull up my Audible, see what’s on here. I am kind of; I’m an audio book junkie.

Bethany: It’s so convenient, it’s unreal. Just go grocery shopping and listen to a book. It’s amazing.

Cassy Joy: It is. That’s so true. Big Magic, I really enjoyed that, by Elizabeth Gilbert. I think that Bossypants by Tina Fey; it’s not necessarily a business book, but I think you can get a really good idea for certain things. That was a great one. That’s all I’ve got on here. I’m all over the map. I listen to a lot more business podcasts. If there are people that I really admire, I just try to dive into their work. Gary Vaynerchuk was somebody who I listened to when I was kind of in a rut and trying to work through it. So that was good. The Ask Gary V show was helpful for me back then. And then Chalene Johnson; her stuff is pretty good. Her business oriented stuff.

Bethany: And speaking of ruts, that was another question that I had. If you ever found yourself in a rut, how did you kick yourself out of it?

Cassy Joy: Oh, that’s a good question. You know, I am a pretty high energy person. And if I find myself in a rut, it probably just means that I need a break. Because if I go too much without a break. And this is true of anybody. You just kind of wear down a little bit. You get exhausted. I think when that happens, and I’m lacking inspiration, or I’m missing that drive that maybe I normally have, it really probably just means that I need to unplug for a full 24, 48 hours, whatever it needs to be, go do something completely different, and then come back to it. Your work will always be there. You can always come back to it. And whenever that happens, and I take a break, I always come back refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. So it usually just means that I need a break.

And if I’m really struggling with something. If it’s a big sort of; if it’s a business decision that I have to make and I don’t know how to make it, I really appreciate input. I have not gotten here because I did it on my own. That’s by no means the truth. I’ve had a lot of coaching, and I asked for a lot of coaching. Diane is a good friend of mine, for example. I’ve talked about her a couple of times. But I’ll call her up, and be like, “I need to run this by you. I probably just need to hear myself say it, really is what it is. But I ask for coaching from people that I know and trust, and that usually also helps give me some perspective.

Bethany: That’s great. I was going to ask if you have any mentors; and I guess Diane Sanfilippo would be a great, not necessarily a mentor but just a friend to kind of bounce ideas off of.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. She’s a friend and a mentor. She’s definitely both. I would say Liz Wolfe is a business mentor of mine, as well. Juli Bauer and I are constantly; all these women are just like sisters, but we’re constantly sitting there. Whenever we travel together, it’s just so funny. Groups will be that kind of 9 o’clock magical time after a late dinner. And whoever we’re with will always want to go out for another drink, and Juli and I look at each other and say, “Do you want to go sit in our hotel bed and work instead?”

Bethany: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: And we do. We’d rather go wash our face, put on our pajamas, and sit there with our laptops on our laps and just chat about business. So I think surrounding yourself by people who are doing really wonderful things in business that you really respect and admire; just gravitate towards those people, and you never know what kind of friendships can come from those. And those folks; they’re friends first. Friends before business. But I have learned so much about business from those women.

Bethany: That’s awesome. It’s great to have such a community. Especially of women. To not feel judged. Because I feel like sometimes you can feel a little judged, or feel a little bit like you're stepping on someone’s coattails, or getting into some territory that you feel like you might not belong. I’m glad it’s such a great community of women that you can just kind of sit around and talk to and not feel overwhelmed doing so.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, definitely.

Bethany: Is there a time of year where you see more traffic. Let me rephrase that. Is there a time of year that you see the most traffic on your blog?

Cassy Joy: Yes. Especially for recipe blogs; the holidays will usually see a spike because that’s when people like to cook with recipes. You know, that’s when they’re Googling pecan pie.

Bethany: Mm-hmm. Green beans.

Cassy Joy: Green beans, yeah exactly! And eggnog. Exactly. So I would say around the holidays there’s definitely a spike. Around any holiday you're going to see some sort of a spike. And playing to those holidays is important. We just had Easter, for example. Memorial Day is coming up. And publishing recipes that are friendly for those holidays will help keep your content really fresh and relative for readers. And so I will definitely see a spike then. And then for all of us health bloggers out there, everybody sees the biggest spike in January. The first week in January is always the largest traffic day, usually of the whole year. So definitely prepare for that. Have lots of really great content. And that’s a tricky one, because you have the holidays and you want to take some time off too. So you have to plan ahead. But it’s always worth it to have fresh stuff out for folks.

Bethany: I completely agree. And I was thinking holidays would be a huge time. Or even the beginning of the year, around January, everyone is trying to do their New Year’s resolutions and everything. So that’s what I kind of figured. What is; let’s see, I had this here. Oh my gosh, I just lost this question. I had like two pages of questions up {laughs}. And it’s really my last question, so it will kind of round everything out. What are some important things to keep in mind when starting a business? What’s the final; what are your final touches, I guess. The main things to think about when starting your business or your blog.

Cassy Joy: You know, I’ve said this before but it definitely bears repeating again. I think when it comes to deciding on a blog direction, and what you're going to write about, it’s important that you don’t worry about trying to fit some arbitrary mold that you think is already out there. There’s no recipe for success that’s already out there. I can give you some tips, but your path to success is going to look much different than any of the other ones out there. So It’s important that you blog according to what you want to blog about. You build a business around what you want to build a business about. And you serve the people that you want to serve. Focus on your people. Just like with social media. Go to where your people are. Write what your people want to read. And more importantly, write what you want to read. Write the articles that you would want to look up. Develop the programs that you would want to work through. Come up with the eBooks for sale that you would personally want to buy. And work with brands that you would be a customer of. Right?

So you are going to be the barometer, the compass. Compass is much better analogy. You're going to be the compass for your brand and trust that. Trust where you want to go. If you're out to build a personal brand, then it needs to be according to what you want. And then when you get to a certain point where 600 recipes almost in the bank; I did not personally crave all 600 of those recipes. Now, I enjoyed them all, and they wouldn’t have made it on the blog if I didn’t. But you get to a point where you're going to want input. And when you’ve put out enough content that is according to your personal compass, you're going to find your tribe. You’re going to your people, and you can start asking them what do they want from you. And they’ll be able to help really well. So I would say make sure that you're building a business around things that are important to you, not around what you think people will want to read. Right? That’s really important.

And then I would say definitely try to keep your side job as long as possible. There’s no reason why you can’t start off with a product ASAP. Build a product as soon as you go. That’s great. Have something to sell people when they go to your website. Start working on building your email list. I think that’s also really important. When it comes to social media, we have no idea. We’re not in control of those platforms. We’re not in control of how they’re going to change the game. It used to be that everybody saw everything on Facebook. And then they didn’t anymore, because they changed the algorithm. Everybody used to see everything on Instagram, and then they didn’t because they changed the algorithm. There’s no guarantee when it comes to other platforms how many of our readers are actually going to be able to see stuff.

When it comes to Facebook, I think I’m lucky if 300 people see a post on Facebook. Out of 26,000. Which is a much smaller number than my other platforms, but still. 300 people out of 26,000, that’s bananas! Of people who have clicked and said, “Yes, I want notifications from her.” So, I think it’s important to come up with some sort of way to communicate with your people that we are more in control of, and an email list is the way to do that. So start collecting emails. Have an opt in for those. Send out regular newsletter to your people that’s of value. Those are some of the biggest tips I’ve got.

Bethany: Well that’s great. Thank you so much. Because I’ve heard Juli Bauer talk about how they’ve changed the algorithm, and how not a lot of people get to see her posts. And she’s like, “There’s no way I’m paying for this.” {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Definitely don’t pay for it.

Bethany: Yeah, I’m just keeping it the way that it is, and just kind of reach out to everybody through a bunch of different platforms. So that was my plan. One more question that I found here, and then I think you kind of just made my entire day. So if there’s something you could change, knowing what you know now, what would it have been?

Cassy Joy: You know, if there’s something I could have changed knowing what I know now, I would have just gone for it sooner. I wouldn’t have waited. I’m a little bit type A, and a forever recovering perfectionist. And I probably would have just come up with a download. I would have come up with a document. I would have come up with a way to monetize my business at the beginning. I would have been more aggressive in just asserting myself. Not that I’m aggressive now, but I would say that I’m more bold, and I’m more sure of myself than I was at the very beginning. And I probably would have just hit the ground running more quickly. Back then, I think I waited a long time for people to give me permission to do this thing that I thought I wanted to do. And what that turned into was about 3 years of waiting until I felt like enough people had said, “Yes. You're good at this. We want more.” And I waited until that to really jump in and to really get my hands dirty and to really give it as much time as I had. So I would say I would have just started more quickly.

Now, I’m grateful for my past. I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had done anything different, so I’m not saying that I have any regrets. But I would say that if you have it in you, and you have this vision, and you have a belief in yourself, and you believe that you can make a difference in the world. You can have a positive impact on the lives of other people, then just do it. Do not wait for permission. Don’t wait for somebody to pat you on the back and tell you you're good enough. Tell you your name is good enough. Your URL is good enough. Your logo is good enough or your content is good enough. Just start doing it. Start writing it. It’s kind of that Field of Dreams analogy; but if you build it, they will come! Just build it. Start building that house. You don’t have to put in one nail at a time and wait until somebody comes by and inspects your work. Just build it and it will all workout.

Bethany: That’s amazing. That’s something that I relate to the most. Because you do sit there wondering; is this good enough? Have I proofread this enough? Are there people out there that are actually going to be interested in what I’m saying? Are there actually people that are going to care about what I’m saying? So I definitely relate to that the most. If you just kind of put everything out there, you’ll get the people that want to know about it and I guess that will be end of story.

Cassy Joy: Yeah!

Bethany: It’s really daunting, starting this. It’s such a pleasure being able to talk to someone that has successfully done this. So thank you so much.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, of course. You’ve got this. You know, at the end of the day, just remember that at the beginning it’s actually the best time to experiment. And it’s the best time to be bold. Because what have you got to lose?

Bethany: Right.

Cassy Joy: You know? Nothing! You really don’t have a whole lot to lose later on, either, and you’ll realize that, but now you really don’t. So just go out there. Be very bold. Be very assertive. And just go for it. You have got nothing to lose and everything to gain. So I would encourage you not to doubt yourself, and just to jump in.

Bethany: Well perfect.

Cassy Joy: Awesome Bethany! Well thank you so much for coming on the show today!

Bethany: It was such a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Cassy Joy: Yeah. And for everybody listening, if you made it this far thank you so much for sticking with us. Really appreciate it. As always, you’ll be able to find a full transcript of today’s show over at www.FedandFit.com. And if you enjoy the podcast, please take a moment to head over to iTunes. Leave a review. Those reviews actually help this show get into the hands of future listeners, so it’s a really great way to spread the message. Thanks everybody for joining us. We’ll be back again next week.


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