Episode 20: Developing Recipes That Every Family Member Will Enjoy, with Monica Lensink

June 1, 2021

When I first found this week’s guest, Monica Lensink, I went down a HUGE rabbit hole of her site and recipes… and to be honest, the photography behind it!! Monica is the Founder and recipe developer of Nourish and Fete, an online food blog that is BEYOND delicious and (most importantly for me) practical for families.

In this episode Monica talks about how she has always loved cooking and actually loved her 9-5, so assumed the blog would be a hobby not a business (ha, jokes on her!). We dive into how her move overseas coincided with the birth of her son and allowed her to see what she wanted out of her professional and personal career. She then gives one of my favorite tips throughout the episode — how she continues to learn as she goes, educating herself along the way. I find this to be such a good confidence boost to those of you who don’t have the perfect background/degree for what you want to do — you can find ways to educate yourself and build on your passions! She tells me about the food blogging community and how she started to invest in photography once she realized this was going to be more than a hobby. We finish with her giving insight on how her schedule has changed since she had her daughter this past year, and how she uses SEO, social platforms and display ads to her advantage.

This episode was amazing for SO many reasons — Monica hit on a ton personal things I have often thought about, while giving tangible tips and tricks for businesses as well. Whether you are a master chef or simply a master toast maker, there are endless pieces you can take from this episode. Now, rush (yes, rush) over to Monica’s site, Instagram or Pinterest to get all the yummy recipes she has been pulling together for you!!

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20. Developing Recipes That Every Family Member Will Enjoy, with Monica Lensink

When I first found this week’s guest, Monica Lensink, I went down a HUGE rabbit hole of her site and recipes… and to be honest, the photography behind it!! Monica is the Founder and recipe developer of Nourish and Fete, an online food blog that is BEYOND delicious and (most importantly for me) practical for families.

Full Transcript:

Dana: All right, hi everybody welcome back to another episode of Amidst the Chaos I’m super excited about our guest today. As always I feel like I literally opened every single episode with that same sentence but I’m genuinely so excited every time to talk to whoever if the next guesses So Monica is here and she is, you know what, I’m gonna let you tell exactly what you do, so that I don’t get anything wrong, or miss a beat. So welcome Monica thanks for coming. 

Monica: Oh my gosh, and I thank you so much for having me. I’m so excited to chat with you today. So I run a recipe website or a food blog as many people know it, my site is called nourish and fit, and it’s basically my collection of fresh fast kind of everyday recipes, really tailored for home cooks and busy families. So I created the website, I’m the recipe writer and photographer.

Dana: So you’ve already mentioned so many things that I know I want to touch on and ask about, but what I do want to do first is kind of tell your story so I know so many people obviously have tons of recipes in their head that they use things grown up with, you know, different sorts of resources that they’ve had and places to find recipes, but what is your story. How did you even get into food blogging, what did your life look like before Niroshan fat was live and ready for the world to see.

Monica: Yeah, well, I will say I have always enjoyed cooking and baking, I actually began more enjoying baking I have a huge sweet tooth, but, you know, but as many people I learned to cook out of necessity over time and then grew to really love it but it was always a hobby. I might be a little different from some actually because I honestly loved my nine to five, when I had it, And when I started my website I truly envisioned it more as a hobby than as a future business, but, you know, life, always has its own plan doesn’t it was no exception. 

Dana: Yes, it does.

Monica: So I’ve been working for the federal government for more than a decade as both a diploma and an analyst, and it was a career that I, I had really invested in very deeply and I do truly love it to this day, as it happened though before my son was born in 2015 I was working a very demanding job, long hours, but then, right after he was born, we moved overseas for my husband’s position. So, with this international move and our new baby. I, this was kind of a natural break for me. I just didn’t realize at the time what how major of an inflection point it was going to be. I knew it was an opportunity to do something different career wise but entrepreneurship just wasn’t on my mind yet. I actually spent those three years overseas, we were living in Belgium, getting my master’s degree and then working in a more traditional office job but part time, but what I found in that process was how much I loved being able to have that more flexible schedule and be there for every moment with my son, I was able to be home with him so much more than I would have otherwise. And I didn’t even expect how much I would love that and how, how much I would cherish that. So, looking back I almost think it was fated because I honestly think that if we hadn’t moved right then and if life hadn’t sort of, you know reshuffled to me anyway, I may well have just gone back to my former position, put him in, you know, full time daycare and carried on not even realizing how rewarding. I would find this other path. Anyway, so right in the midst of those years I began blogging just as a hobby, I had read food and lifestyle blogs for several years, my son was an infant, I just wanted to do something fun for myself and thought it would be fun to try writing my own blog. And at the time when I started it, it was kind of a mishmash of all different things parenting my, you know, cute pictures of my son travel, what have you, but within about a year I decided I really wanted to just focus on food and recipes, and about another year after that I decided I really wanted to professionalize this site and make a go of it. monetizing the content and making it really a professional endeavor, I guess once I got knee deep in it, I was really invested and I just wanted to do it well, I didn’t want to do it halfway, And I saw how it could be an opportunity to earn an income while working more on my own terms.

Dana: Yeah and I think that’s really interesting because you’re doing something that you love and something that you, you know, recognize as starting off as a hobby, but it is something that you can monetize right and you can turn it back around and start this thing, but what is also great about what you said is that, you know, you really don’t know what you don’t know when it comes to being home with your kids, and I think a lot of people this year have found out more of what they didn’t know before, but that’s also not fair either because you’re trying to work a full time job and you have your kids at home. It’s very difficult to be able to get a taste of that life of what it’s like to be a stay at home mom with your kids and not have your job to do at the same time as that it’s very hard to separate those two things from just a logistical perspective, I mean if you’ve quit your job and you financially need money to start a new job, you’re going to have to go ahead and start your new job, but it’s hard to really find that and, spoiler alert maternity leave doesn’t count. Like, that is, you’re so tired. You don’t know this human very well yet you don’t know what it’s what it’s going to be like being home with them. My life as a stay at home mom for those first three months of my daughter’s life on that maternity leave. No no no no no, I would not want to stay at home to do that. My, but we’ll be going back to work for sure. 

Monica: Like, it’s so funny that you say that because 100% I joke that I think I basically have blacked out my son’s first three to six months probably six months really from my memory because I was so overwhelmed, I had no idea what would be involved in having, you know, a baby, and I’m very type A, so I thought that I could control everything. I decided, We cannot, you know internationally. So I was just on the ceiling about everything so that was not the best time I was not at my best. It was really only after probably another like nine months or even closer to a year that I started that I got to that point where I was like I would like a hobby, I would think I’ll start a website because I was just completely in survival mode before that.

Dana: Yes 100% I can totally understand that and I do think with my second it was easier to see. Okay, hey I know this first phase is hard, but I know you kind of quickly get to the second phase, it feels long at the time, but it got easier for me quicker and just knowing that, because you can’t tell somebody that, right. You can’t tell somebody that until they experience it once they experience it like, oh, right, right, right, I get it now.

Monica: Oh my goodness, so I’m actually kind of at that point so my daughter is five and a half months. And so it has been so much, frankly easier for me just because I know that and I know that this is a short phase. It’s been so much easier because of that, that we joke to my husband has to I have a much older stepson and step daughter. And so my husband has this is our daughter is his fourth rodeo so he right. So even with our son he would tell me like it’s gonna get better. It’s gonna be okay. And I was like, when, and how will it get better, I need to know specifics because I literally can’t believe them, 

Dana: People will tell you that and even anybody listening to this right now you’re probably like yeah yeah okay okay whatever like this isn’t helpful. It will be helpful and when you listen to this podcast in a year from now, when your baby is you know, a year and four months old, We will understand. So I appreciate that you recognize that clip because I don’t think we really talked about that too much on the podcast so far and it’s definitely a big mental hurdle that I had to come across and that something that made my to, you know postpartum experience is very different from one another. So that’s, that’s awesome. Okay, so you started your food blog right nourish and fete is up, it’s going, how did you decide which website to use if you knew you were going to do blogging like what did you even do at that point because you had never started a business before, there’s so many options out there, what did you use as resources to figure out where you’re going to launch from.

Monica: I think that I made a lot of mistakes along the way, or not mistakes but there are a lot of things that I did one way and then had to change, because I learned a lot as I went, which I think is important too that people who don’t necessarily like if you, if you are already familiar with the industry that you want to grow into, then that’s great you can dive in and do that but I also think that to some extent. If you are not already familiar but you are interested and curious and passionate, then you can learn as you go, and that was 100% me, I had to educate myself as I went and I have been fortunate that I’m operating in a space where you can do that you can always continually improve, and that could be particularly about like technical issues. I started my website for instance on Blogger, which was a really old. I think Google platform for blog, and then I quickly realized, no, if I want to be serious about this, I need to have it on WordPress and so on and so forth a lot of other technical issues, but I wouldn’t have realized any of that if I hadn’t taken the time to educate myself, and a lot of that was just basically by reading online reading anything I could find a lot of just simple Google searches, best web platform for food blogs, you know, how to improve food photography, you know how to write recipes correctly looking for books about that, and I think really just a lot of self initiated research was key. Also, a lot of networking, I will say that we blogging, generally speaking is a really positive and supportive community. And generally speaking, pretty affirming. So there were a lot of things that I didn’t know I didn’t know until I began to make friends with or sort of participate in some of these message boards and literally Facebook groups and other things with other food bloggers where I started to realize, Oh, if I want to be more professional, this is what I have to do, and I loved every element of that I love learning about it and then figuring out how to make it happen on my own site, to where it could snowball and grow over time.

Dana: Yeah and it clearly has for anybody who hasn’t been to her site, either her website or her Instagram either one, like, this is the most professional food blog I’ve ever seen in my life. I mean seriously, and I’m a photographer and I’m looking at her image like, Okay. Who does she pay to do this so tell me about that. Did you own a camera like from a purely like selfish perspective I need to know how you taught yourself to do this because it’s really really impressive.

Monica: Well it’s funny that you say that because I guarantee you that I, I can take pictures of food for sure but my pictures of people do not look. Do not look like yours, or any other professional portrait photographer. My kid is usually blurry and poorly lit and out of focus. All the things oh that was Dude dude I can do food as the advantage of not moving, once you put it into place, it stays there, genuinely, but yeah definitely the best investments that I’ve made, I think sort of in my second phase of growing the business have been in photography because we do we eat with our eyes first and looking for you look as good as it tastes can be a lot easier said than done, which pretty much anyone who’s ever tried to, you know, snap a quick Instagram pic of their dinner knows. But yeah but if you want to attract visitors to your site the photos have to make the sale has to look like something that you want to eat, and that you think you could make. So, again, I think a lot at the beginning phase I did a lot of just researching online I did have an old sort of entry level DSLR camera that I had gotten years back, before taking a big trip, you know, just doing some personal travel and wanted to be able to take pictures so I had kind of an old DSLR gathering dust so I blew off the dust and started to learn how to use that more properly, and eventually upgraded from there. Learn more about lenses backdrops settings, how to do everything, how to use software I use Adobe Lightroom to edit my photos, which really helps to make them, I think, you know, consistent, and have you know the vibrant bright colors that really draw people in, and a big thing that I went through that often surprises people is I switched actually to using flash photography, which people will say, is not a good idea for food, it has to do a lot with how you set up the flash, but as a mom, I found it absolutely essential to switch to flash photography because I could not guarantee you that I would be in a position to photograph a recipe, when it was if it just was never going to line up that the recipe would be done and ready to photograph, while the natural light was good and well, no children needed me. Never gonna happen with Flash, I can photograph, literally anytime day or night and get a consistent result. So all of those investments, I think have really paid off, and I love the photography aspect of it, and it’s also very useful because food photography is something that in addition to the recipe development and the website itself provides another avenue to monetize things and I think diversifying income is always important, especially for a small business owner, so I’m really glad to have that skill in my back pocket as well.

Dana: Okay so many exciting things to talk about here so first I do, I do want to come back to you, monetizing that second skill and having a different revenue stream because I think that’s really really genius. But first, I do want to note what you’ve done here right you took the time to say, hey. Realistically speaking, I cannot do the work I need to do to provide the quality content I need to provide unless I get some education and maybe do do something a little bit different than what other people say is right or normal, I was literal I knew immediately, like not even, well, I can tell because I can tell that it’s flash but I had to really look like I had to really like think about it and then, but from a practical standpoint, I was like, this girl has two kids, there is no way that her photos are this consistent without having taught herself flash there’s no, no chance because I was literally wondering from a logistical perspective, how in the world could you do this, take these pictures. Have your kids all around, all your gear set up I mean it would be impossible. So I think this is such a great lesson for everybody listening that she took the time Monica sat down and said hey, it is not realistic for me to get the same results with this situation and the circumstances that I’m under right now. And I think knowing that it’s okay then to educate yourself into something new and do something a little different, to make it work for you and your life is amazing.

Monica: Well, I mean, it definitely was a game changer for me because I was struggling with photography prior to making that switch just struggling, I would take photos and be unhappy with them and you and you don’t want to post something that you don’t believe is quality work even if the end even if you believe in, you know that the recipe is valuable. You don’t want to post it if you don’t think the pictures show it in its best light. So it was an absolute game changer for me to switch to that. and there is a great class, if anybody listening is interested, there is a photographer named Joni Simon. She has a wonderful YouTube channel and a wonderful class all about lash, and how to set yourself up and get started with it, which was not even that expensive but certainly one of the best investments I’ve made.

Dana: That’s great and I hope somebody out there listening knows that you know, food photography is a whole league of its own for sure, but finding somebody that really focuses on flash gives you that power to take images whenever and wherever you need to take them so that’s great that you have that flexibility. So the other thing I want to talk about is that you have now, you know, use your skill set that you’ve learned in this education that you’ve acquired to kind of start putting new spoke in your wheel and add something else to your to your repertoire of income streams so how did you add that spoke in as well.

Monica: For me it’s been a very natural outgrowth. I have had a few people reach out to me, usually just connecting on Instagram so it goes to show that social media can in fact be social. And in fact, It works best when it’s social, and connecting with people, real people out there, and so both other bloggers and website owners and brands who, for their own reasons need food photography and it’s nice because they’re able to see from my Instagram and from my website. You know what my typical style is, I can certainly deviate from that to fit with a client need but. But in any event, so they’re able to look at sort of It’s a de facto portfolio, they’re able to look at that and I have been able to just from that do some freelance projects that are photography only, and I have found that for me, that’s a very good fit. There are plenty of other bloggers and food photographers who prefer doing freelance projects that are recipe only, or only, you know, a sponsored post where the sort of the whole package but talking about how they do a particular brand and, and I have found that for me, I, if I create the recipe myself, then I feel too much sort of pride of ownership but I love sort of doing entrepreneur photography for people because I just find that to be a creative process in its own right, so it’s been really nice to have that along the side and it’s nice to because it’s very flexible I can since it’s freelance based I can do more or less the same, you know, and I could seek out more work if I if I needed or wanted to, although with my six month old right now. That’s not something happened during a lot of but in the future I definitely could which is good peace of mind.

Dana: And so speaking of you’re almost six months old, how do you balance, doing this job and doing your blog with now two children, have you seen there be a shift in the hours you can work hours, you want to work it she’s shaking her head right now with her hands on her head, because this was, this is a hard question So what have you. What have you done to survive.

Monica: I mean it’s been a heck of a year, right. Yeah, so my son started kindergarten. In the fall of 2020 and that of course has been overwhelmingly conducted virtually. So he’s been at home basically full time and then my daughter was born in late 2020 So with a new baby in the mix there, frankly are just not a lot of extra hours in the day. Right now what this looks like for me, is not very organized and not really something that I would recommend to anyone, but at the same time. We’re surviving and it’s okay and I know that it’s this season, it’s gonna get easier and it’s gonna get better, and in a lot of ways, the benefit is that I’m working for myself, and I can’t afford to do that, I can afford to have this season where if things grow more slowly. That’s okay, they’re still growing. In any event, so as far as what it actually looks like in practice, it is pretty chaotic, I mean I try to as best I can align what we are actually eating because you know, dinner still has to get made to recipes that I want to test or photograph for the blog, but I have learned over time, even before my daughter was born, that the 30 minutes before dinner time is not when I want to be photographing a recipe when everyone’s hungry. Everyone’s tired. Yeah, that’s just not a good idea, so I will sometimes literally start cooking at, you know 9am lay the baby down for a nap, do some prep work start chopping. Keep going do the next step whenever everybody’s happy and nobody needs me. And then hopefully just, you know, do whatever I need to do to have time to get at least that one thing photograph that day. There’s a ton of computer work behind the scenes with blogging that most people don’t realize or think about so all the computer work then I also kind of fit into the margins early mornings, other nap times late nights, but yeah so it’s not ideal. It’s not what I would recommend to anybody but it is okay, we’re getting it done. My son is back to being in school, some of the time, in person, so that is a big help. And, you know, and my daughter will only get older and will certainly I have promised myself that I don’t know exactly when but when she gets a little bit older and when COVID is even more under control, a big part of the reason I’m doing this is so that I can be very present for them. At the same time if I want this to be a business and I need to invest time in it as well. I don’t know exactly what, and that is going to mean some help, and some childcare, I don’t know exactly what that’s going to look like, but it will be necessary.

Dana: Yeah, that was a big turning point for sure like saying okay like and also they’re old enough that they want to spend time with other people, they want to do other things at that point and I think that was a big, a big deal for me when I was like, Oh, they had so much fun in the few hours we had a sitter, they had a blast and I think that for me was like, Okay, this is permission and you need some time for yourself you need to some time to do the work that you want to do and you’re excited about your business so it’s important to be able to invest that time, so Okay. MONICA I want to go back a little bit for those who have started thinking about starting a blog in general doesn’t have to be food photography, what are some good pointers that you would give out for somebody that’s just starting, would it be, you know to be consistent, would it be to a certain length of your posts Was there something that really stood out to you as like, oh, that’s something that not enough people talk about, but as a game changer.

Monica: I think that the most important thing in my opinion, the most important thing is to just get started and practice and learn as you go, because you will never be perfect you will never have all of the information and be able to do everything perfectly the first time, especially because really, frankly, there is no perfect. You’re going to evolve in your own style and what how you want to structure things, what you want things to look like that’s going to evolve over time so my advice to somebody would be to embrace that and just get started and learn by doing. And then in parallel to that make that effort to continue to educate yourself and learn so that you can just get a little bit better every day. There’s another great podcast called food blogger Pro that I would highly recommend to anyone interested specifically in food blogging, and the host of that podcast talks about you know the 1% infinity, that if you can get 1% better every day or every week, and keep that going, ad infinitum, you will get so much better over time, you know, we all overestimate what we can get done in one day but vastly underestimate what we could do in a year. So just get started and keep learning and let all of the little things add up also with blogging in general to be a little bit more concrete, I will say that with blogging content is king, it is a content business so your content is your product. So, it is important to keep generating content, and to have each piece of it be as high quality as you can so people say oh quality over quantity quantity over quality it kind of has to be both, to make a really successful run of a content oriented business.

Dana: Yeah, and that is hard, that is a hard thing to do. It is difficult to stay on top of it but not just like be rolling stuff out, like you just don’t want to post a post you like you need to be providing quality content but you need to be consistent and pretty regular. I will say you do provide quality content I’ve made two of your recipes so far and one of my friends has made one and I think is on her second, maybe for dinner tonight, but I have ingredients for even more so I will vouch for you and say it is delicious. It is not even made me like me Chick fil A at all like even in the near future, like I’m totally satisfied and very, very happy. And it was easy and I think, I think so many recipes on like, okay I don’t, I can’t, like, I can’t, I don’t, I’m here by myself, like, my kids are picky anyway like, I’ll just eat kid food, but I think some of the like the me like one of the chicken and sausage and broccoli like sheet pan meals. Oh my gosh, it was so easy and it was so good and my kids actually ate it and it was, it was easier. Honestly it was easier than leaving the house getting to fly, coming back, it was easy, so I do think that, you know, having your content out and having it be quality and then having people review it, I mean there’s tons of people that have written on your blog and all the good things there so when you first started and you knew you’re creating good recipes you knew you had the content there, you knew you’re being consistent, what is sort of the biggest way that people are finding you right now is it Instagram have you worked on your SEO like what helped you grow the most online.

Monica: For me, it is overwhelmingly, and in equal parts two things, it is SEO, which, for you know some sort of search engine optimization is absolutely essential for running a food blog and I would wager probably for a lot of other content businesses so baking your recipes, such that they are fundable on Google and then trying to do what you can Google is a bit of a black box but not entirely. You know, you kind of know what they’re trying to surface and their results. So trying to write content that will truly provide the best value to readers, and do so in a way that is recognizable to the great Google is absolutely essential. So, over half of my traffic comes from search engines, and that’s super necessary, the second half, and honestly that part to me is also kind of fun. I also enjoy the analytical aspect of that. I enjoy digging in seeing what people are searching for seeing what unmet needs there might be it’s a pretty saturated market but there are still, there’s always room for more helpful recipes right so how can I identify unmet needs try to answer them. And, you know look at what’s already performing well for me. I enjoy that aspect of it and that really feeds into good SEO, which is, is very is then very rewarding, in turn, because you get traffic. The second thing that way that I get a lot of traffic is Pinterest. I have found that for recipes Pinterest is a really valuable social media platform because people do, you know, browse Pinterest just to save recipes, a lot of people use it as a personal recipe box, they’re searching for things. So, anyway So Pinterest is also a huge source of traffic for me. I have personally struggled with Instagram more, even though I enjoy it for connecting with people as I mentioned, but in any event, so Google and Pinterest have been king for me.

Dana: And so when you are looking at your you know, all your Google Analytics and you’re the backend of your website, what are people actually googling that’s making them find you, is it specific like hey I need a recipe with broccoli and chicken sausage or hey I, or is it healthy recipes for kids or like what is it that they’re searching that they’re finding you the most on.

Monica: For me, it’s usually specific recipes that tend to do the best so I have found in some cases, it is just a specific recipe that happens to rank really well like, this is kind of amusingly specific but I just this morning, I said to my husband I had been doing some research, late last night I noticed some things and I said to my husband Hey babe, I’m ranking number one for lemon time chicken, and he got super excited he was like, Oh, that’s great. The fact that you love eating it and the fact that it raised everyone on Google for that search term are not exactly related but they’re both great. I love these.

Dana: Right, but it’s good to know too, I mean it is good to know that hey you’re loving this it’s probably something that other people are gonna love and their families are going to say they love it, which there’s nothing like cooking an entire meal and then having no one really eat it, like, I’m just gonna see myself out now like y’all are good with bath in bed, on your own because I can’t even look at you right now.

Monica: And I can tell you my son is somewhat choosy, he’s not, he’s not terrible but he is true the toddler. Yeah, anymore but it’s crazy right. It doesn’t get actually eaten here then it does not Pascoe does not earn too.

Dana: I love that. Okay so you’re in the space right I do want to back up just one more time because I think this is really important, especially you know when interviewing a blogger of any sort, so you had this going on, you had all your recipes your contents going well your photography is going well like you have the components that you think you need, you know you’ve educated yourself to be providing quality consistent content, where in that journey, did you decide okay I need to monetize and what were your first steps to doing so.

Monica: I think it was fairly early on at the time of, like I said when I sort of made that shift to wanting to do this and even more, just professional manner. I think monetizing it was part and parcel of that partly just for the challenge. Honestly, I also love just the challenge of like know if other people can do this, then I can too. And I want to do this, you know by gum like. So, anyway, so I think part of it was literally just like, I want to see if I can. And then, so for a food blog, the simplest way to monetize is just by display advertising. And that’s also in some ways the most reliable, particularly if you are, you know, a mom or somebody else who has a lot of other time commitments that may ebb and flow. The nice thing about display advertising is that in some ways, like I’m getting paid for that now, Regardless of whether I spend three hours today working on the website, or eight, or zero. I’m still getting paid for the display ads based on the traffic that’s coming in viewing, and hopefully using and enjoying posts that I published 123 or more years ago. So I’ll say to my husband like oh well no it’s passive income, and he’s like, that’s nothing but that’s not that’s not passive you’ve been working your tail off to get that up and I’m like, Well, yes but now. Going forward, it is. So in any event, so that’s why the traffic really is for me and for my business strategy the traffic has been key because I established early on, like I said that I would rather have a sort of the base of my monetization strategy display advertising that that was going to work best with my own with my lifestyle and what I could sustain, and then I could layer on freelance projects or other forms of monetization, down the line as it worked out. And so yeah and so to get traffic again you’re back to SEO, social media, Pinterest promotion and really just having, you know, great content like content really is the key so just producing more and more of that until you get to certain thresholds, there are two major very reputable ad networks that work with bloggers and both of them have minimum traffic thresholds, but once you meet those thresholds and get accepted by those networks. They handle your odds for you, which is very helpful. So I’m not having to do any of the day to day placements or negotiations or anything like that, and that’s great. Once you sort of meet those specials that are able to sign on with those companies. It’s a really good feeling.

Dana: And so about how long did that take you, was it just constant posting and like making sure that your content was very SEO friendly like, how long did that take and how did you make sure that happened,

Monica: I think it took me about a year to sign on. Initially, with one of those ad networks, from the time that I sort of decided yeah I want to try to do this, the real way. I think it took me about a year, which would be another thing I would tell people that blogging is a long game. So if you need something to pay the bills right now, which a lot of people do, totally understandable. Unfortunately blogging is not usually a very good fit for that. Blogging is a long game. So you usually, you know we’ll get started. Start putting out content and that’s kind of why I say also to like just start, because it takes a while, not only to build up your library of content but it takes a while for search engines to start taking your domain seriously, they don’t want to serve a brand new domain to people because if it’s not established. So it’s good to just start because it does take a while to get to that point.

Dana: Yeah, and so I do want to go back and ask you one question about that passive income or at least, maybe not even question but just touch on it because it’s so funny. Your attitude is my husband’s attitude on passive income. So I’m currently working on a couple of courses behind the scenes where. Ideally, it will be, you know, passive income for us so once they’re launched and, like, Do you know how much work goes into that, like, he’s like, Oh no, it’s gonna be great to be up you have to do anything. First off, that’s not how I’m gonna roll but second off like it takes so much work to get things up front so I think it’s so funny that your perspective is my husband’s and my perspective was 100% Your husband’s like, know you’ve worked so hard but what I do love is that you had a cheerleader, right, you had him in the background, like just cheering you on and being like this is so awesome and great for you so I love that he’s encouraging you there. Well that was really good pointers for the blog and I do think, you know, having that content and just getting started. If you are looking for a long game, like let’s say you just had your first baby, and you know don’t want to quit your job yet, right you know that it doesn’t make sense, you only have one kid to pay for daycare for the financial aspect is not there, it’s not there for you to quit your job, but you know that when you have two or even three that still are in public school. It isn’t gonna be, it isn’t gonna fly, right. So start now. Start your blog now start putting out that quality content so that in three years in four years, when that’s happened, you have a business right and it doesn’t have to be every day, but maybe it could be every week or even every month when you first start just to get your foot in the door and get something as a baseline there to get you going. So I think that’s super super helpful advice. And I love the ads too I will tell you, I definitely bought something from your recipe from a was like a meat thermometer because I was like ours just broke I need one, she just prompted me to get this. It’s not even fancy it was like just a normal meat thermometer and I needed it so it’s like supporting her click the link, buy it here so it is not not worth your time to make those links and I know that, you know, with every post there is so much that goes into it that nobody really realizes, nobody really recognizes that hey like this has been not only the cooking and the recipe creation and the testing and the photography, but it’s also the writing and making it something that somebody wants to read and I will say that, you know, most people on recipe blogs you scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, till you get to the little box that shows exactly what to do. But I will say that I enjoyed reading the pointers that you had and I could take it across into several other cooking strategies too it was like it’s all very like tangible tips on hey this is why this tastes bad, like, you need to do, since I think providing that content is great content, it’s good for SEO but it also does provide some sort of education for the people that are reading it too and it makes them feel like you’ve invested in them as well, for trying to make their everyday life better. So I applaud you for that because I know it’s so so so much work on the back end.

Monica: Oh my gosh, but that just warms my heart because honestly like nothing makes me happier than knowing that and you think that you’ve made some of the recipes because that is honestly at the end of the day, far more than the monetization honestly is why it is so rewarding to me about it when I hear somebody say that my pinkie can eat that I mean, it was easy, and my pinky kid ate it or I made those for my elderly father, and he went back for a second, he never, he doesn’t eat anymore and he went back for seconds, you know like when I hear something like that, it makes, it makes me it just really like fills my heart, and, and then also as far as the content goes, that’s also nice to hear because it can be hard, especially with blogging you know you have to be comfortable kind of like staring at a blank screen. Yes, and filling it up somehow. And I think that is part of what has led to there has been an evolution in, certainly in food blogging, where, and I think many people still perceive a food blogging as kind of what it used to be where there’s a lot of sort of personal narrative, shall we say, that goes before the rest of you that may or may not be relevant to yep there. And that, not for everyone and not in every circumstance. That’s a big turnoff. So good news, very few bloggers do that anymore, and there is much more of a focus on like okay how can I make this useful content, how can I make sure that whatever is here, had some utility for the reader. And to make it easy to use, you know, some listeners might be familiar with like jump to recipe buttons where you have at the very top of the home. This is like jumped recipe so, which honestly, I use that I use that on my own site, because I’ll be cooking something, and I wrote everything in the middle so I’m like I do, I also just want the rest of right now, because, you know, the baby’s crying, whatever. Yeah, so making that content as useful as possible is it something that a lot of thought gets put into and I think is really important so glad to hear it’s working.

Dana: Thank you so so much for coming on. I’ve been so excited to talk to you since we connected on Instagram and in case anybody doesn’t realize Monica is actually local to me so she’s only like a stone’s throw down the road so I think we’re going to try and get together here shortly and I’m excited to have some new friends in the area, especially after this year of club I what I’m like, How many friends do I still have, I don’t know.

Monica: They’’re out there,

Dana: so everybody you can go and check out Monica’s website please please please do Monica let us know where we can find you on your website and on Instagram and Pinterest and all the places. Yep,

Monica: so I am at nourish-and-fete.com with dashes between all three words. Fete is spelled F E T E. So nourish and fat calm and just that same thing, nourish and but without any dashes on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, all the rest,

Dana: okay I lied. I lied. I have one more question. I did want to talk to you about your name and we kind of touched on this in the before we started recording so tell me how you came up with that name and I know that you gave me a sneak peek saying that you might have thought of something different. Give. Tell me how you thought of it and then what you were thinking now, like what’s the kind of thought process there.

Monica: Well, when I, when I started the site, it’s, you know, current forum focused on on food. We were living in Belgium and in a French speaking part of Belgium, and fats is the French word for party or celebrate, and I think I had this vision of a site that would have a mix of, you know, nourishing everyday meals, and I’ve always loved to bake so sort of, you know, cakes and treats that would be suitable for like a, you know, a celebration or a special occasion. So I thought, oh nourish and thought and also it was available, the domain was available and all of the social media handles. When you’re starting out on something like that. That said, I think, you know also again at that time it was still pretty much a hobby, so I wasn’t overly seized with thinking of something that would be super recognizable or easy to say which has been, you know, so if I were doing it again today, I might try to find something that we’re, you know, they kind of rolled off the tongue a little bit more, but that ship has sailed. So here we are.

Dana: Yeah, once you’re once you’re in, it’s it’s very hard, we talked about this, it’s very expensive to change that and it’s, you’ve also built so much there is so much the SEO that does get lost there and you have to change every thing, it’s like getting married and changing your name but maybe worse I mean still to this day, I use my personal email address as my maiden name, because I just like anything, where somebody can get in contact me and technology wise, I just can’t, everything else I’ve done that that is just probably never going to change it so totally understand what that is, For the record, it is such a cute name and I love it and I, I think it’s recognized because it’s a little bit different to once you, once you know who you are. It’s definitely like, oh, okay, there she is again. So, what Monica is with it. Well, Monica thank you so so much for coming on. I am so appreciative and I know our listeners are going to absolutely love this episode so thanks again.

Monica: Thank you so much for having me.

Dana: I am so honored you spent any minutes of your day listening to me babble about living this entrepreneurial life amidst the chaos in any mom’s normal day to day. If you love what you’ve heard and read more snippets of knowledge about this mob boss life, head over to our website at amidst the chaos podcast, calm. For show notes and links to anything mentioned in today’s episode. If you’re really feeling inspired, it would mean the world to me and my family if you take the time to write in with you. Thanks for joining me, Amidst the chaos.

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