Are you passionate about a particular niche?
It could even be SEO. Perhaps you know someone who loves a topic and can write but isn’t interested in learning how to rank websites.
These complementary interests could provide you with an excellent business opportunity.
Bjork Ostrom is proof and joins the Niche Pursuits podcast today to share with you his recipe for success when building niche sites and niche-related businesses.
Bjork and his wife Lindsay started Pinch of Yum back in 2010 as a food blog on Tumblr. They were as green as it gets and didn’t even know about WordPress.
But they slowly picked up the know-how and complementary skills for growing niche sites as they went along.
And today, their site gets between 4 to 5 million page views per month.
The how behind this growth is fascinating, and Bjork shares some of the approaches they’ve taken to grow their blog and multiple business ventures.
Here’s just one example:
They like to lead with Lindsay’s passion, interests, and understanding of the audience, before adding SEO best practices to the mix.
And so he discusses how passion and love of a niche is a necessary ingredient for your site’s success and why Google seems to reward these sites accordingly.
The interview is equal parts inspiration and strategy, and even non-site owners will get a ton of value from Bjork’s mindset with his 1% infinity philosophy.
So please enjoy!
Topics Bjork Ostrom Covers
- How their business is organized under the TinyBit parent company
- Diversifying cash flow investments offline
- The often unspoken ups and downs behind business success stories
- How Pinch of Yum came about and their current traffic breakdown
- Learning important blogging skills along the way
- The importance of writing in a way that connects with readers first
- The business of food content and why they stopped sharing income reports
- How they built and grew a successful membership site
- Advice for those hoping to transition into full-time bloggers
- What WP Tasty is and the importance of schema for food bloggers
- Content updating vs producing new content
- Starting with what would help real people
- How they’re tackling E-A-T
- Balancing the art and science of niche sites
- Importance of creating linkable assets with an example of one that worked well for them
- The steps they take when updating content
- What Clariti is and how it can help bloggers with testing, monetization, and search optimization
Links & Resources
Sponsored by Web Asset Builders
Watch the Interview
Read the Transcription
Spencer: Hey Bjork, welcome to the Niche Pursuits podcast
Bjork: Hey, happy to be here, Spencer, you’re one of those people where I, you’re like a everlasting internet friend, like in the world of internet time. I feel like it goes back a really long time for how long I’ve known you followed what you’re up to. So it’s really fun for me to be here and hopefully you can cover some stuff that’s helpful and motivating and, uh, encouraging to people who listen.
Spencer: Absolutely. Yeah, it’s, it’s awesome to have you, Bjork, like you said, we, we’ve kind of been internet friends, I guess, for, for a long time and kind of almost started our blogs, similar timeframe, like Pinch of Yum. Was that around 20 10, 20 11, or was it
Bjork: a little 2010 when Pinch of Yum started and there’s a few people who were kind of doing the stuff that you were doing where you’re talking about kind.
Strategically building websites and the considerations around that. And at the time, sometimes I get back to this mindset, but it’s deep in the archives of my brain. But it’s like, it was such a new, interesting, like fascinating thing at the time, just in general, but also for me, like it was a brand new thing for me.
And so it’s fun to think back to those early stages when it was less familiar and it was all, there’s something about it, the newness of it that was especially exciting. But there’s also something really great about being in it 10, 11, 12 years where you feel like you kind of know it a little bit and understand it.
And at the same time, the more you know, the more you. The how much you don’t know.
Spencer: Yeah. There’s so much more to learn. Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. And so it is like I, I started, um, niche pursuits in 2011, right. And so we were both kind of getting started blogging, you know, around the same time. And I know back in the day we were both kind of sharing income reports and mm-hmm.
doing a lot of things like that. And then, uh, I think the first time we met in person was at a rodeo event three years ago, four years ago. Yeah. In Mexico. And so that was a lot of fun. And we’ve met a couple times in person, uh, since then. And so I know you have a lot going on, uh, as well beyond what maybe people are even aware of.
Yeah. Um, with Pinch of Young. And so before we jump into a lot of specifics and strategies, maybe you can give the, the listeners just kind of a quick overview of your business ventures, everything that you’re kind of involved.
Bjork: Yep, for sure. So Pinch VM was kind of the original, like the first business that we started and we’ve started other businesses along the way.
There’s a site that I, Lindsay and I joke about, um, called Picture Pretzel. And I was really excited about picture pretzel because I was gonna sell like Photoshop actions. Maybe it’s still a big thing, but it was like a big thing at that point. We sold like one Photoshop action, so, which I was so excited about when it sold.
So we, pinch of View was the first one. We’ve had a lot of businesses that don’t currently exist that we kind of experiment with along the way, but the ones that do exist that we still have are under this umbrella of a parent company called Tiny Bit, which is all about this idea of continual improvement, getting a tiny bit better every day forever, which we can talk about a little bit later on.
Kind of that being a core way of how we think about doing business. Um, But the, the other ones that people might be aware of. So Pinch of Yum is the one that most people are aware of. It’s a recipe blog, and my wife Lindsay, produces most of the content for that. So she does the photography and the writing and the recipe development.
So all credit to her for building that. In incredible audience and, and following that, she has, we have Food Blog Approach, which is a membership site for food creators. We started that kind in the 20 12, 20 13 range. Um, we have a WordPress plugins business called WP Tasty. We have a nutrition analysis.
Software called Neutro Fox, um, a software product called Clarity. And then we acquired another site called Curley, which is like a home DIY site that, that we also operate. So all of those are under the umbrella of tiny bit. And then one of the things that we’ve done, I don’t know if this is something that you’d want me to speak to, but with some of the operating income that we’ve been, the operating profits, one of the ways that we’ve been trying to think about reinvesting is like reinvesting into areas of diversification outside of the online world.
So we also have a small portfolio of commercial real estate, and that’s kind of a piece of the puzzle for us too. Hedging against like Google algorithm changes. Mm-hmm. and Instagram updates and all of those things. For us, it feels good to have some of our investments, not just in digital things, but also in like brick and mortar things you can touch and like doors you can actually open and walk through, things like that.
So, The la the landscape for us from a business perspective is, that’s kind of the overview of what it looks like.
Spencer: Yeah. So you definitely, I mean, you have a lot going on. Um, I like what you said that, uh, these are the businesses that have survived, right? That you kind of list that, uh, you had so many other maybe crazy ideas or things you tried that maybe didn’t work that at the time you thought were good ideas.
Um, and I, and I’m the same and I often maybe don’t always point that out that I’ve tried a dozen things and like two of them works really well. Um, and so maybe that’s encouragement to listeners, right? Is that, you know, just because an idea fail fails doesn’t mean the next one won’t be the one that
Yeah. And I think there’s something about the, the one of the downsides with the internet is often. What we’re doing is we’re looking at or consuming somebody’s highlight reel. You hear that a lot, especially on like social media, on Instagram. But I think it’s also really true for business. Like you look at what somebody’s done.
Oh my gosh, they’ve built this awesome business. And then you’re working on something and you’re kind of slogging through it. It feels like maybe you’re not making progress, but a lot of times other people have been at that point and they persevered through it. Maybe they continued with that same idea and eventually it caught, maybe they decided to wind it down and started a new thing and then that thing took off.
So I think it’s more often than not it what you think it is when you look at somebody else’s reality. Personal life or business life. Mm-hmm. . It’s not as like clean or glamorous as it might seem from, from the outside. And I think there’s encouragement in that, in that it normalizes some of the. Reality of what it means to be human and it means to run a business.
And it’s like both of those things are like really hard sometimes. It’s hard to be a human, sometimes hard to run a business oftentimes, and we don’t often see that. So as much as possible, I think it’s good to. Like, revisit that reality when talking about business or life.
Spencer: Really. Yeah, a hundred percent. I, I really like that.
And I was just talking with somebody recently about like raising teenagers, right? Yeah. You can look at that through the same lens as like running a business almost. Right? You get. I was teenager that, you know, doesn’t fit into the, the square hole that, that you’ve thought, you know? Yeah. And all parents are going through this, right?
Mm-hmm. , and I think all business owners are going through struggles, right? Nothing is, is perfect out there. And so that’s, that’s a super, super good point, um, to make. And so, um, and then as, as well, you chatted about, um, you know, as your business is now matured, right? Um, you’re trying to diversify outside of, uh, the online businesses and, and so I think there is a spectrum there as a lot of people put all their time, energy, and money into first finding something that works and is generating income.
Yeah. And I think that’s the smart way to go, but as, as the business maybe matures, right? Um, you’re looking to diversify. And so we may not jump into that too much. Yep. But I just think that is super cool that you’re now going into commercial real estate and thinking about, okay, how can we be more stable?
Whether it’s Google updates or econ economic updates or anything else. Yeah. Yeah. Um, And so, as I understand Pinch of Yum is, is either the biggest or you know, right up there at the top, right? Yep. Uh, in terms of, of income. So let’s chat about that one a little bit. Um, sure. Pinch of Yum. How did it get started?
I know like you said, it’s been around since 2010. Yeah. Uh, but what, what’s kind of the, um, origin story of
Bjork: that? Sure. So Pinch a vm. Yeah. Started in 2010, we started out on a Tumblr blog and, uh, nice. The very first post, we couldn’t figure out how to get like, uh, an image and text in the same post. So first we did a Tumblr update, which was like a text update, and then it was like another post after that, which was images that we wanted to be a part of.
The first. But we couldn’t figure out how to put ’em together. Um, so that was the start of it. I mean, that was us trying to figure it out, didn’t know what WordPress was, didn’t know the idea of like a self hosted WordPress site versus, you know, wordpress.com. All of those things, completely unaware of it.
Um, and day by day you start to pick up information and learn, and you start to get better at the things that you’d realize you need to get better at. Uh, for Lindsay, that was photography that was super important. Um, it was writing and she got and still is passionate about how do you write in a way where people feel connected, um, to what you’re writing.
Not just like search optimization, but I think personally a lot of search optimization is people optimization. Like it’s this balance of structuring a piece of content in a way where Google can understand it. Like you’re smart about structured data schema, you’re smart about having a, you know, your core web vitals.
Um, you know, optimized. But really, like, if you’re not producing stuff that doesn’t resonate with people, that doesn’t impact people that they don’t wanna share, it’s not gonna matter if you have all of that stuff perfectly tuned. Um, it, it, it doesn’t matter. And so that was a big part of it for Lindsay writing in a way where people can connect.
It’s obviously the recipe development. For me it was stuff like ad optimization. It was some of the, it was the behind the scene stuff, even like bookkeeping. What does it look like to do bookkeeping? Well, to have tight books, to understand like where your revenues coming from, where your expenses are, building systems around that.
What does it look like to hire a team? You know, W two versus 10 99. All of those things were some of the things that I started to learn about and think a lot about. And so it was just by chance that four pinch of yam, specifically Lindsay and I kind of fell in. What would be like departments within a business.
Um, it wasn’t strategic, it was just really lucky. Like there could have been another scenario where we both were really interested in photography and then, you know, the, what we created would’ve been in a much different place, for better or for worse. But it happened to be that we each had these kind of respective interests that kind of complimented each other.
So, um, we started working on figuring those things out. Nights, weekends, you know, lunch breaks. I remember going to Subway and working for 30 minutes trying to figure out certain things, listening to podcasts, things like that. Um, and then eventually I started doing what you referred to before with these income reports.
We started, our first one was $21 and we did it all the way up through, it was maybe around $30,000 in a month. Mm-hmm. . Okay. And so we, we kind of chronicled that process. I think one of the things that was fun for me, and I think also for readers was. You, you gotta see the complete story. Like we started in chapter one, which was like, we’re not making any money really, and we want to figure out how to do that.
And people were able to follow us through that journey. For me, it was really an experiment. Can we do this? Especially in a niche where it’s not necessarily business oriented, it’s food, right? And there’s some people who said like, you can’t do it, it’s just not possible to do with food. And then there’s another camp of people who are like, you could do it with anything.
Like there’s a passionate group of, it’s a niche pursuits, right? Like if you build a niche, there’s gonna be, in the in the world, there’s gonna be enough people to come alongside you and say, I’m gonna support you. If what you’re doing is good, it’s go. It’s the Kevin Kelly a thousand true fans. Like if you musician and you have a thousand true fans and you produce two, you know things that people can buy a year for $50, you can create a sustainable income.
And so that was the experiment. In the early stages, I feel like we proved out the experiment by saying, Hey, we. Got to a point that’s a full-time salary for both Lindsay and I, and that’s when we decided to wind it down. It felt like it wasn’t really serving us in that season the same purpose. And, and it felt a little bit like of a tension point in that the purpose of Pinch of Yum was food and recipes.
Mm-hmm. , it wasn’t business. And so right at that point we kind of separated that out and we really talk about kind of the business of, of food content within Food Blogger Pro. Yeah. Um, so that’s kind of the, the story for Pinch of Beyond Food Blogger Pro came 20 12, 20 13. It’s a membership site. What we did for that was we pre-launched.
Before we were done with it three months before, we got $10,000 from people who, uh, paid to become early access members. And we did it where if you signed up three months before you got a year for like $29 or something like that, if you signed up two months before it was like 70. And then if you signed up one month before it was 110 or something like that, like motivating people to sign up earlier.
And then the price went up as it got closer. But that funded, uh, food Blogger Pro, it got us to the point where we could use that money to invest in the business and grow it. Um, and you know, depending on the season, there’s could be anywhere from 1500 to 2000 members who were a part of Food blog or pro paying.
$30 to $350 a year depending on when they signed up. Yeah. Um, to be a part of that. Um, and that’s coming up on 10 years here that we’ve had that community and that membership site. We do a podcast as well. Um, I could talk about the other businesses, but I don’t wanna get too deep into the weeds of kind of the origin stories.
Those are kind of the two big ones. Yeah.
Spencer: Yeah. Lot lots there. Um, so, uh, you said, uh, you know, 2017 roughly is when you stopped doing the income reports and Yeah, that sounds right. Is that also when you went full-time or did you quit your job a little bit before then or?
Bjork: Yeah, so our story of going full time is interesting.
So, which everybody probably thinks their story is interesting, , but here’s ours. 2010 is when we started, I would, I don’t remember exactly how far into it. We started to experiment with trying to create an income as maybe. Six months, a year or something like that. And Lindsay was a teacher. I worked at a nonprofit and we were still in this stage of like getting outta school and feeling like, I remember when I first started to look at how much I’d be earning coming outta school.
I don’t remember the exact numbers, but it was like 40,000. I was like, what am I gonna do with all that money? Like, you still have this mindset where you haven’t had lifestyle inflation. You know, we have kids now and there’s all those considerations as well. But, um, so we, there’s an advantage to us from a timing perspective when we started in that replacing our income wasn’t a huge shift.
Like we, we weren’t making a substantial amount. It’s not like we had these really high paying corporate jobs. Mm-hmm. , that would’ve been hard to leave. Yeah. Um, And we also took a really significant pay check in the most kind of transitional time for the blog, which was 2012 to 2013, because Lindsay went over to work for a year at an orphanage.
So she has three adopted siblings. They’re from this orphanage in the Philippines called the Children’s Shelter of Sabu. And I had never been there before. Everybody in Lindsay’s family had been there. And so we were planning a two week trip before, like months before we left, the president called and was like, this is kinda a big question, but would you be interested in staying a year and potentially teaching?
Wow. And so that was 20 12, 20 13. Continued to work on the blog during that time, publish content, share a little bit about what it was like to live and work in the Philippines, but during that time, you know, it. I was kind of working a little bit part-time remote. Lindsay was an orphanage and so we had raised some money, um, to cover her salary.
So it really was not a lot that we had to cover. So when we came back that 20 13, 20 14 time period, we continued to work part-time and transitioned into working on the blog full time. So if it’s possible, the advice for people who are thinking of making that transition, one of the things that was really beneficial for us was to kind of go like, A hundred percent.
So we were full-time W2 employees, Lindsay teacher, me part-time or me at a nonprofit. And then to think about like how could we scale back? So when we got back we were 75% essentially each Lindsay and I. So we had one or two days a week where we were able to dedicate just to working on the blog. And then it kind of went like 50 50 for me.
And then I was, I was working one to two days a week at this nonprofit and then eventually it was like, okay, it’s time for us to make the transition. So it was really nice to be able to tier. Back and to two down the transition instead of making this hard stop at one single point, which I know is impossible for everybody, but it was helpful for us to make that transition.
So it was essentially like 2014 when we both transitioned into working on, on all of this full time. Yeah.
Spencer: Yeah. And, um, I think that’s, you know, good, good motivation, I guess, or, or reality check maybe on the other hand, for people that, you know, starting, starting a blog, um, it can take time, right? You work on it.
Sure. Like three years and that was two of you, you know, in your spare
Bjork: time of course. But it was a lot of spare time, but it was a lot of
Spencer: spare time. Right. And I’m sure towards the end it became like, okay, this has legs and Right. We’re gonna really try to, in 20 13, 20 14, put a ton of time into it.
Bjork: Probably. But especially in the world of content, and especially if you’re new to it, like for you Spencer, you could probably start something and that timeline if everything else went away, like the knowledge you’ve acquired over the past 10 to. 12 years, you’d be able to compress your time period into like, covering your full-time salary into a pretty short period of time.
Right. Like you didn’t even know
Spencer: what, uh, WordPress
Bjork: Yeah. WordPress. Right, exactly. You’re on Tumblr, right? Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yep. Uh, but you, but if you’re starting out, it’s gonna take a while. And, and especially in the world of content. Like it just takes time.
Spencer: Yeah, yeah. No, it does. Um, so, uh, one question about Food Blogger Pro.
Um, how did you, how did you launch it? I mean, uh, your site, um, pinch of Yum is mostly people reading about recipes and interested in food. Um, I guess was it because you had, you know, you had been sharing income reports, you had some people, and that’s kind of the email list you had built.
Bjork: Um, we had essentially built an audience for two years in a really specific niche.
Right. Which was food creators who wanted to learn how to, who already had or wanted to learn how to start a blog. Yeah. Excuse me. And. My advice for people would be, you know, for us, you look at it and you’re like, oh my gosh, how did you do that? You launched this thing, you got $10,000, and then that propelled it into this thing that you now have.
But it really was two years of, of creating content for specific niches, building an audience. And then it was saying, now we have something to sell. We didn’t really sell anything and didn’t have any intent to for a long period of time. Right. It was actually from those reports that we realized there’s a need for this, because we hear from people a lot.
They’re saying, how did you do this? What was that like? Could you teach me how to do this thing? And so really what it was, was starting in an area of interest, a curiosity, pursuing that over a period of time with no expectations. From that, listening to the people that we were talking to and coming out of it was the idea.
So it wasn’t like we had this grandiose idea. What we had was like an area of interest, an area of passion, an area of curiosity. Time dedicated to that, and then a response to that community that we had built around their needs.
Spencer: Yeah, I love that when you’re kind of heads down working on a business or in a business and you start to see something that resonates with your audience, right?
Yeah. You either go further into that, Or you have light bulb moments that are like, you know what? We need to do this Right. For you as Food Blog or Pro. And of course now with WP Tasty Plugins, you’re like kind of in the business, in the weeds, right? Yeah. You and Lindsay are still creating the blog post and you’re like, we need a better way to do recipes.
Yeah. Right? Yeah. And, and so you created a plugin. Um, so, because a lot of our listeners are WordPress users, maybe just tell us very briefly what WP Tasty is, how many plugins there are. Sure.
Bjork: Um, yeah, yeah, absolutely. So there’s four plugins. It started with one called Tasty Recipes. They’re all kind of branded with like, uh, tasty, whatever it is that they do.
Mm-hmm. . So Tasty Recipes does structured data and visual markup for a recipe. So when you search and Google, one of the things that’s important, and this should be a little note for anybody who, there’s a lot of people who’d know about this, some who might not. This is like a. Really smart audience. So most probably do know about this, but structured data.
And essentially what structured data is, is it’s a sign post to a search engine. We’ll say Google to tell it what the content is when they come and look at a site. So in our case, Google comes and crawls a post and we have a little sign post using structured data saying this is about a recipe. And then with that information, Google can go back and mark up their, um, the search result in a certain way.
Right? Excuse me. And um, so that’s Tasty recipes. Tasty Roundups is similar if you have a roundup post, essentially what you’re doing is you are telling Google this is a roundup of other pieces of content and here where those other pieces of content are. So in our case, it’s often recipe roundups. But you can use it for any type of, of Roundup.
Tasty Links is kind of a light, um, link plugin that automatically, uh, marks up any keyword with an affiliate link if you want to, or adds kind of like recommended products within a post. Um, like we include it within a recipe card, so like if you have a knife or a slow cooker that you’d recommend. And then we have a plugin called Tasty Pins, which optimize for Pinterest.
So for visual forward blogs like a food blog, Pinterest is, um, it was more important. Um, as they’ve changed their algorithm, it’s become less important. But still it’s important to think about how do you optimize your images. Maybe there’s an image, like an example would be you have a sidebar image of yourself and when somebody goes to click pin, you don’t want like this picture of.
Lindsay to show up when it’s a taco recipe and for somebody to pin that to Pinterest. So you can do things like using, um, Pinterest code that they give you. You can say like, don’t show this image when somebody wants to pin this thing. Or make sure that this description is being used in the Pinterest description when an image is being pinned.
Um, so it’s all around optimization of onsite P trust related. Um, Considerations. Yeah,
Spencer: that’s great. So if people want to, uh, check, check those out, of course they can go to wp tasty.com. They can look at the plugins there. Um, I love chatting with you about the business side of WP Tasty as we’ve done privately, right?
Yeah. Um, talking about how you grew plugins. We’re not gonna dive into that here today. Uh, just because I know most of our listeners love the content side, the SEO side of stuff, so I’d like to chat a little bit about that with Pinch of Yum. Mm-hmm. . Um, can, are you willing to share like an overall picture of like how much Traffic Pinch of Yum Gives and how much of that is SEO traffic?
Bjork: Yep. Um, I don’t know the specific SEO percentages. It’s vast majority seo, four to 5 million a month page use. Awesome. For, for Pinch of Yum. And you know, the catalog of content that we have has been built up over 12 years and the recipe world. Is super high traffic because people are searching for recipes more than they’re searching for, you know, like a product review on a whisk or something like that.
Whatever it might be. Right. Um, so the earnings probably aren’t per page. You probably aren’t as high as what it would be with like an affiliate site or, um, you know, if you’re selling an actual product. Um, but yeah, that’s kind of the, the lay of the land. It’s, it would be in terms of like traffic, it would be, search would be most important.
It would be, um, like Pinterest or Instagram after that, and then maybe Facebook. Well, and then direct it would, it would be search direct. Right. And then, um, some of the social media accounts. But like most of those, as people know, most of those are becoming more, um, like insular in terms of letting or wanting people to get out of the platform.
Um, so the traffic, we don’t view like Instagram. There’s, Lindsay has, I think 1.1 million followers on Instagram. We don’t view that as like a traffic source. It’s like a place to do sponsor content. Right?
Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. Um, no, that makes sense. So, um, four to 5 million visitors a month. Congrats. I mean,
Bjork: that’s huge.
Page use, page use to be
Spencer: clear. Yeah. Yeah. Still huge site. Um, and obviously a great business. Um, how much content, if you’re aware, is on the site? Like how many articles,
Bjork: posts? Yeah, I think maybe I haven’t looked recently. In my mind it’s like 1200. Okay.
Spencer: 1400. And, and do you know roughly how many articles a month you guys are still producing?
Not many. Okay. Three to four. Oh, really? Yeah. So really isn’t very much. No. Um, so what are you doing in terms of content? What are we doing in
Bjork: general ? What are we doing with all of our time? Um, right. You know, uh, uh, and, and part of that is, um, the recipe world is, is unique in that it’s evergreen, so mm-hmm.
a lot of it is revisiting and improving older content, making sure that it’s as quality as it can be. And it doesn’t mean like continually adding stuff just to add stuff, but like, if we see an opportunity to improve something, so it’s that. Um, the other piece is like we, the two options, other options would be you could bring in contributors, so then you have other people who are producing content and becoming contributors, and you kind of build a contributor site.
But just have made a decision, at least in this season, like Pinch of Ya is a personal brand. That’s Lindsay as the primary voice. That’s, that hasn’t been true for every season. We’ve also had seasons where Lindsay’s, you know, was on maternity leave and said, Hey, we’re gonna prioritize continuing to produce content and the team’s gonna help with that.
Um, or we’ve had seasons where, um, just not producing, like Lindsay’s just kind of said, Hey, I’m gonna take a break for a month and kind of step back. So contributor would be one option. Um, the other option would be just to produce more, like just for Lindsay to produce more. But she’s also in a season where she wants, we have two girls, two and four.
She wants to be home with them. Yeah. Um, so she’s just kind of reduced capacity and said, Hey, once a week, maybe twice a week is what we’re gonna do for the season, knowing that we might leave some, you know, potential upside on the table. But that’s okay. Like right. We, uh, wanna make sure that like we, our work is serving us and that we’re not serving our work.
And which is a really hard balance to figure out mm-hmm. . Um, because there is some type of, kind of feedback loop that becomes addicting. Like, if I do this thing, then I get this reward and that feels really good. And like in our case, the feedback loop of parenting doesn’t always work the same way where you’re like, if I do all this work and I’m like, really go out of my way to like, create an experience for my child, they might like kick and scream and, and hit me.
Um, but it’s like we still wanna figure out how do we prioritize that in this season, knowing that it’s, you know, it doesn’t last forever. So that’s kind of the, the reason it’s not a strategy. From a like optimization standpoint, it’s more of like a life optimization, right?
Spencer: Yeah. And, and still, I mean three to four articles a month is still like a lot of work for Lindsay I’m sure.
And I think
Bjork: that’s doing recipes and I think that’s pictures, right? I think that’s the thing that people don’t realize is, um, who I was talking to somebody just the other day, I think it was somebody on our team, she was with us as a writer for a season when Lindsay wasn’t writing as much for emails and things like that.
And I was talking to her and one of, she was saying, her friend was like, why don’t you start a blog like you’ve worked, you know, for Pinch Ya. You’ve seen kind of the ins and outs, you know, food, you know, writing. And what she said was, she was like, I also saw like how much work goes into a single post.
Mm-hmm. , um, you know, it’s mul multiple rounds of recipe development, it’s photography, there’s video. Um, there’s just a lot that goes into it. And so it’s not like a standard article per se, where you’re writing 500 words and then publishing it. Um, you know, there’s, there’s multiple different kind of considerations that go along with it.
So Yeah. That’s a
Spencer: valid point. Yeah. And then even after it’s published, right? Yeah. Sharing on social media, maybe doing some other clips on wherever Right. Videos and things like that. Um, so it is, it’s, it’s a lot of work. Um, but it does sound like SEO is the largest portion of your traffic. That’s obviously built up over time, but do you have kind of a general SEO strategy or what, what’s worked really well, uh, for you that maybe listeners can implement?
Bjork: Sure. So this is where it’s gonna, this will probably be like in the art and science of. Search optimization in business, whatever it might be, this probably leans more into the art than the science. Okay. But the art for us being that, and this is important because we are the ones that are creating the content.
Like, and by we, I mean Lindsay, when speaking directly about pinch of ya, um, the, one of the most significant considerations is your ability to continue to have a good relationship with the thing that you are talking about, writing about creating content about. And in order to do that, um, you have to make sure that you still enjoy it.
And so, Or in the world of food, there’s gonna be a category of people who are really motivated by keyword research. Like they’re gonna start the process of their discovery around what they’re gonna produce a recipe for by doing like keyword research and seeing what’s available and what’s kind of low hanging fruit that’s gonna give me the most traffic, which is great.
Like for those people I think they have a lot of success. And I think in some ways if pinch Avi was built in a way where we were both like, that would probably even have the ability to have more traffic or, you know, search traffic, whatever it might be, but does not like, that’s not how really I’m built or that’s not how, it’s definitely not how Lindsay’s built.
And so for her, the primary starting point is like, What is a recipe I’m excited about in piece of content, more broadly speaking, what is something that I think will resonate with people in this season, in starting there? And it’s, it’s, so, it’s not starting with keyword research. It’s not starting with like competitive analysis.
It’s just purely starting with a, uh, recipe or a piece of content that she feels drawn to. Yeah. And, but that’s not to say that we’re not strategic about tracking those. And oftentimes what you’ll have is like, uh, you’ll, you’ll come up with, it’s not like the, the type of content is really esoteric and weird.
It’s like rice crispy bars, like people are still gonna search for rice crispy bars. Yeah. But the, the fact is like, that’s not where we’re starting with the keyword research, but we will come back to. By tracking the performance of a keyword within hfs. So let’s say that we have something that’s performing really well, like Chile.
Mm-hmm. Lindsay produced a piece of content around Chile that did really well, had a lot of search traffic, has a lot of search traffic, monitoring that and saying like, okay, this is important. It’s performing well. If this starts to slip, like if we go from position three to position six, we need to trigger some type of flag that has us go back to that and say, okay, what can we do to, to regain that position within search?
And we, you can use Google Search Console for that. Obviously people know that’s super powerful tool to track kind of performance over time. Mm-hmm. , um, we use HFS as a, as a tool to track some of that stuff. Um, so we are thinking strategically from a search perspective, but we’re leading not with strategy, but with.
Like passion and interest and audience. Yeah. And then folding in some kind of search best practices around that. Similar to some of the site structure stuff. Like how are you organizing your site or do you have strong category pages? You know, right now we’re working on building out authoritative author pages, um, to make sure to, uh, that we’re doing what we can from an expertise and authority perspective.
So it’s not that we’re ignoring search, we’re just not leading with it.
Spencer: Right. Yeah. And it sounds like, um, you’re able to do that or Lindsay’s able to do that because, um, she is so passionate and Yeah. In, in, in tune with the, the niche, right? Yep. Like she is also kind of the, the end consumer in a way. And so she understands her readers super well and kind of has a pulse on what might be interesting.
Right? It and, and maybe that’s something that. People can’t develop overnight, right? It takes two or three years to be blogging about it, to go like, you know what, this would be a really interesting subject or topic or
Bjork: whatever. Yep. And, and that’s if you wanna be the person that’s creating the content.
Like do you wanna be the expert? Do you wanna be known? Do you wanna be the person that, you know, like we’ll come people come up to Lindsay and be like, Hey, are you pinch of Yu? Like, or to me and be like, Hey, are you pinch of Yum’s husband ? Um, and it’s because they know her because she’s, she’s um, the person at kind the center of this.
We, you and I both know a lot of people, their passion is like the mechanics of the search, which is the search process or like the, the, the, the processes behind the scenes. That’s also awesome. Like if that’s, you lean into that. The thing that you’ll have to remember though is at some point you’re going to need somebody who is that like expert.
If you are really gonna do it well, like you can’t really fake or you can only do it for so long, like true expertise and authority to the degree that it’s actually helpful to people in a really meaningful way that’s multiples above what other people are doing. You can only take that so far if you aren’t actually really passionate and interested in it.
Mm-hmm. , and you know, I’m thinking of even the rodeo community. There’s lots of people who lead. Things like search optimization and keyword research, like thinking about a niche that they can pursue and then bringing in this is a key piece and it’s a hiring process that you have to solve. Bringing in an expert to be that person who’s like, I love pickleball , and I wanna write about pickleball all day long.
I wanna think about pickleball all day long. And if you feed me an article about like, best pickleball, paddles, I’m gonna love to deep dive on that and write about it. Mm-hmm. . And so you, you can come at it from either way, but you have to have both of those things, uh, fulfilled on either side. You have to have the expertise and the authority.
Of the subject, but you also have to have the expertise and authority around best practices for how to set up a website, you know, structure data, if that exists within your category, which it probably does, um, you know, best practices from a performance standpoint with core web vitals, things like that. So, um, both of those things I think have to
Yeah, no, I think that’s great advice there. And so to kind of recap at least a portion of your SEO strategy as I’m hearing it right, you’ve gotta have those two ingredients of that, you know, analytical keyword research data. Yeah. Uh, mind coupled with somebody that’s passionate or an expert in the niche that can actually produce that super valuable content.
Both are important. And then you’re going in and looking at content that, um, either could be performing a little bit better or, um, you know, needs an update and you’re going in and updating that, uh, content to, to help it perform better in, in the search engines. Yep. Um, What, what else is, is working well as a general SEO strategy.
Did, did you do a lot of link building? Are you doing link building,
Bjork: that sort of thing? No, to both. Okay. Um, and that’s not necessarily best practice, that’s just how we came into it. Mm-hmm. like, sure. It wasn’t something we thought about doing. How we always approach things was like what is the, how it was, it was very content forward, like what is the most helpful piece of content?
How can we make these pictures better? Um, how do we improve this recipe? Um, the other thing that Lindsay’s really good at is like, what does it look like to build momentum around, uh, like a shared experience? And I think it’s link building in the. That it’s creating things that people want to link to.
It’s not link building in the sense that you’re like finding a broken link and emailing somebody and saying like, Hey, can you switch this link out with like, one that I recommend? Right? Like the purest form. And I think the most effective form of link building is producing something that naturally people wanna link to.
And so an example would be, um, last year in January, Lindsay and the pinch of VM team did a, um, like a January meal plans, uh, January meal plans would, and, and like created these meal plans as a free thing, sent it out to people. And there’s just a ton of momentum and excitement around it. And there’s naturally a lot of people linking to it, talking about it on social.
And that I think from a link perspective and from a search perspective, all of those unknowns, some of ’em are known, some of ’em are unknowns. But I think what at its core, what. Like a Google is trying to do is figure out like, where are the most helpful places to point people? And usually the most helpful places to point people are gonna be the things that are actually the most helpful.
And that’s where I think in the long run, it’s gonna be most beneficial for you to focus is how can I create something that’s gonna resonate with people, that they will then do the things that naturally people do when something is interesting or engaging or helpful or that they wanna share. And letting search engines do what they’re really good at, which is respond to those things that people are, are doing naturally online.
It’s, it’s, it’s almost like a switch in a mindset of like mm-hmm. . It’s, it’s trying to align what you’re doing with what Google’s trying to do, which is surface the best piece of content. And instead of trying to figure out how Google’s trying to do that, what you’re trying to do is figure out what is the most helpful thing for people and, and leading with that and letting Google follow behind.
Spencer: Yeah. Yeah. I love what you’re saying here and hope, hopefully people are, are kind of attaching to this, um, just this, this quality first approach. Um, I, it resonates really well with me and so I, I love that approach that you guys have taken there. And, um, I guess somewhat related, and you already mentioned that you’ve got like 1.1 million followers on Instagram.
You’ve got a large Pinterest, you know, following. So social media is, is, has become core to the business. Yep. Um, and would I be correct in sort of assuming that that in a way also helps, um, get noticed by Google or, or maybe even attract links, right? Sure. Because you share it with a million people, like some of those are gonna share it Yeah.
On their website or something, right?
Bjork: Yep. One of the things that we think about the visual that I have in my mind is this idea of a car wash. And, um, this is specifically when we’re looking at a piece of content that we’re gonna go back. And like refresh. That’s the idea of the car wash. It’s like we wanna spiff it up a little bit.
What are the different things that we can do with that piece of content that may or may not have an influence on search traffic, but definitely have an influence on visibility to that specific piece of content. So an example being if something goes viral on Pinterest, does that have an impact on search traffic?
I don’t know. I mean, all of those links are gonna be no follow. So from that perspective, like more links on a Pinterest may or may not have an impact. I have no clue. But that, that car wash idea, what we’re doing is we’re saying, okay, we’ve looked at this piece of content, we’ve decided we wanna add some things to it.
We’re gonna, these are some things that we might do. We might. Take new pictures, like refresh the pictures to be, uh, more helpful, um, and just better. Mm-hmm. , like, we’re gonna add an FAQ section. So for those who use Yost, um, which is, you know, most popular search plugin, there’s a way that you can add a block around frequently asked questions, and that’s gonna be structured data, which we talked about that sign post.
So you’re telling Google these are questions and answers related to this specific piece of content. So we might put in an FAQ box, we might put in a video, which also has structured data around it. Um, there was a report from an ad network that we work with, and they saw that there’s a 30% increase in search traffic when a correlated video was added to a piece of content.
I don’t know where they got that data, but Interesting. That’s what it said. Mm-hmm. . Um, there’s an, there’s an additional, uh, plugin that you can download. I think this is how it works with Yost that will mark up and create a site map for your videos as well. So that’s really important. Um, so in that car wash, we might add a video for that specific piece of content.
Um, we might add additional sections, so we might look at, um, some of the areas that are confusing within the recipe or things that we could build it out. Maybe we want to talk a little bit about how to make it vegan or something like that. Um, we’ll look at if there’s any like cleanup that needs to happen.
Maybe the images were too large and they need to be compressed for some reason, if they got missed in the process of getting compressed. So like performance related stuff. And then what we’ll do after we’ve. Updated the post is, we’ll look at putting that in other places. What does it look like to mention it on Instagram in a, in a real or a story?
Mm-hmm. publish it to Twitter. Um, Facebook. What does it look like to push it out to Pinterest? Great. So we’ve done that. Maybe we include it in an email newsletter and, uh, we send that out. Uh, we could also potentially move it to the front of the blog, so anybody who’s coming sees that right away. And, and that gets exposure there.
So we, we kind of go through this process of saying, we, we see that this specific piece of content has the opportunity to be improved. Maybe it’s slipped a little bit in search results, put it through the car wash. Oftentimes what we’ll see is it, excuse. It comes out the other side looking better, like it performs better.
It, um, you know, is getting more search traffic. It regains some of the position in search. Personally, I’m not enough of a data nerd to look at it and like, say, and that happened because this change. Right? Um, but we know it’s like the, there’s this advertising quote where they say like, I know that 50% of my advertising works, I just don’t know which 50%.
Mm-hmm. . It’s less true now with like when we have all this data on advertising, but especially like 30 years ago. But I feel like that’s true when we approach updating and, and pub republishing or promoting a older piece of content to get it toor, try and perform better. Like we do all these things. We don’t know which specific one it is that’s gonna improve the performance, but we do know that it’s common for the outcome of that process to be that, that specific.
Pizza content performs better. Yeah.
Spencer: Now we, you’ve already mentioned, um, something you had your company is called Tiny Bit. Yeah. Uh, and this is gonna all connect with what you just talked about, I think, um, with updating content and proving, um, you, you like to talk, talk about something called 1% Infinity.
Right. And, and that I think all ties together the tiny bit, the 1% Infinity and this car wash approach almost Right. With the updating content and that specific example. So tell us, um, about 1% Infinity and, um, how you applied it to your business. Sure.
Bjork: I mean, essentially at its core, it’s just this idea of compounding.
And I, I saw this tweet the other day and it was talking about, um, Warren Buffet and at 37 it said at, I don’t know if this is true or not. It’s one of those things where I don’t know what the source is and I didn’t check. But it said at 37 he had 0.01% of his net worth compared to what he does it has right now.
Mm-hmm. , um, you know, kind of related to that is this idea of people underestimate what they can do in, well see. It’s better. Say it like this. People overestimate if they, what they can do in a year, underestimate what they can do in 10 years. I think compounding plays into that as well. Mm-hmm. . So it really comes back to that.
It’s this idea that, you know, for you and I Spencer here at 12 years in, um, we can start to see some of the compounding that has come from 12 years of work in a specific area. But for somebody who’s one year in and or two years in, they can look at it and be like, oh my gosh, like, why haven’t I made more progress?
And oftentimes what it takes is showing up every day saying like, what am I after? Getting really clear on where you’re going and then saying, what is it that I need to do today to get incrementally better, incrementally better, like a tiny bit better today? Um, and it’s not massive gains. Gains. It’s not like crushing it every single day.
It’s like slow and consistent. Um, steady improvement. And that could be applied on a macro level, like as you look at your life holistically. Mm-hmm. . Or it could be applied with a specific thing like trying to improve your search traffic and saying like, what is the one thing I can do today that will help me moving forward?
And there’ll always be one of those things. And you don’t need to do everything in a day. You know, you don’t need to work 14 hour days. But you should show up and say like, what can I get a little bit better at today? And, and how can that help me, like propel me towards where I’m.
Spencer: Yeah, I love that approach because a lot of times we can set these big audacious goals and, and look at it and go, some days get frustrated, right?
Like, I’ve got like a hundred things on my to-do list, uh, if I wanna hit this huge goal, but the approach of like, you know what, I’m gonna just get a little bit better today or improve this one thing a little bit better than it was last week or even last year. Right. Just the, the, the continuous improvement there.
I love that. Um, you can apply that Yeah. Everywhere. Um, business life, wherever you want. Yeah. Yeah. Um, and so, uh, I have tons more questions, but I don’t want us to go on, you know, too, too long here. So I wanted to jump, um, to a new software tool that you recently launched called Clarity. Yeah. Um, and maybe you can tie the two together, tell us, you know, what, what it is.
But did you create it partially because of this 1% infinity idea?
Bjork: Yeah. You know, the, the thing that it probably ties best back towards is, um, that car wash process that I talked about and the switch that has happened for us from a mindset perspective when it comes to content. And we’ve gone from this idea of like, how do we, like create a factory where we’re planting seeds to, um, how do we tend the garden?
And I think once you’ve been producing content for a certain period of time on a specific site or within a specific niche, there will be a time when it starts to become more advantageous for you to tend to your current content, uh, versus creating new content. And that’s why for say, like, pinch of Yum.
We’re not producing three, four posts a week because we have these other posts and our, the return on our time is gonna be better by looking at an older piece of content and making sure that that’s performing well. So clarity came from the fact that we were running our, uh, process for this off of a spreadsheet.
So we had 1200 posts and we had a column that was like alt text in all images and like going through and saying like, okay, or have we optimized this post for alt text? Um, or we were going through and doing something that we wanted to do on our side. And this is, we didn’t do this for all posts, but like recipe tested.
Like, did we test this recipe and make sure that it’s good? Like, okay, check. That’s great. Um, or we were doing things like wanting to sort order. This happened with a site that we acquired recently and even for Pinch of Yu, this just came up. We wanted to quickly sort order content that wasn’t getting any traffic and spin up a project around that to just delete that.
Like an example for Pinch of Yu is we had these really old posts that were giveaway posts, like win a free $50 gift card. It’s like that’s not valuable for anybody. Like you can’t even win the gift card anymore. So we need to delete that. So Clarity, what it does is it, it’s a tool, C L A R I T i.com, clarity.com, and it’s a tool that brings in data from three different places.
Your WordPress blog. So it brings in things like, um, Like word count, it brings in things like how many images, broken links it brings in things like broken images, alt text, like all of these components of a post or an article. It brings that in so you can quickly sort order and, and find information about your content.
And then it also hooks into Google Analytics and Google Search Console. So then it brings in additional information like page use, and it will attach that to the WordPress information and it brings in keyword information. So you can see what are the specific keywords that are ranking from Google Search Console.
More information is being connected and brought in over time, um, as we improve and enhance it. But the basic idea is it brings all of those things into one place and it allows you to quickly sort and, and, and filter and analyze your content and then to create a project out of that. So an example would be for Pinch of Yu, what does it look like for us to.
Find all the pieces of content that had, let’s say, less than 50 page views in the last year. Mm-hmm. , and then to create a project around any of those that we don’t actually need to just delete ’em. Yeah. Like they’re not helpful. We want to get rid of it. And we can do all of that within clarity, within, you know, three minutes.
Like it’s just slice and dice and, and create a project out of it. So for us it was really rep replacing that spreadsheet one, but then also finding a way to bring all of those different components in to a single area. Um, so that was the, that was the idea with Clarity. We have maybe like 500 users who have signed up to be a part of it.
And so we’re kind of awesome still in the early stages, but also at the point where like have some traction and people who are really excited about it and using.
Spencer: Yeah. So the core function is, uh, really updating content or removing content, like you said, really being able to analyze all your posts, you know, um, yeah, being able to see what needs to be updated, how to actually update that, what’s, what’s, you know, seeing it a lot easier and kind of imagining all those projects with kind of, um, pruning or updating content,
Bjork: pruning, updating, or there’s a lot of content or, you know, processes that we would go through, um, that would have some unrelated, uh, or, or some kind of random thing that we wanted to do to a specific piece of content like add affiliate links.
Yeah. So we wanted to go through and make sure that we add affiliate links to these 20 posts. Where are we tracking that? How are we making sure that it gets done? And then this is the other really important piece on a post specific level, having an, having a note. On when that change happened. So then we can go back and see like historically, did things change in one direction or another based on that change.
That was the other piece is we didn’t have a good place to annotate that we could do it within Google Analytics and create an annotation, but then it’s like a, I don’t think there’s a way to do this on a post specific level. It was a site-wide annotation. So like if we made a change to one specific post, we noted that in Google Analytics we would just see that everywhere.
So we’d have like all of these annotations kind of floating around. Um, so that was the other piece that was important is like the historical point on when changes were made, either by us checking a box and then that being recorded, or by us leaving a note to say, Hey, at this. We made this change. Like we wanna know that just so we can look back to see if something looks different six months later.
Right, right. To get better, worse, what happened. Right. And then the, the last piece that’s, uh, helpful is categories outside of WordPress. So an example for us would be editorial versus sponsored. To be able to segment our content to say like, this is all sponsored content in this bucket. And to give it a tag or a category to, to tag that specific piece of content.
So we could look at it and say like, okay, let’s take a look at any piece of content that’s sponsored to make sure that, um, like we could go back to that brand as an example and say, Hey, would you wanna work with us again? Here’s. Uh, piece of content still doing well. So essentially organization outside of WordPress.
Like if we didn’t want sign an actual category, it’d be be a way for us to organize content as well. Yeah,
Spencer: no, that’s great. So it sounds like if people wanna learn more about that, they can go to clarity.com and that’s with an i Clarity with an eye. Um, and so yeah, people can, can check that out and, and see what that tool is all about.
Um, sounds like it’s gain some attraction. So congrats on that. That’s awesome here. Yeah. Um, I do have one last small curve ball for you. Love it. Uh, what is your favorite recipe on Pinch of Young? Okay. You’ve got thousands there.
Bjork: This is, this is really funny because Lindsay , there was one time where Lindsay was.
Name a recipe from Pitch of Young , and I was like, and you froze. Yeah. I couldn’t think of it. It’s like when Jimmy Fallon does the like street interviews and he is like, name a woman. And people are like, right
Spencer: When you’re on the spot you
Bjork: can’t do it. Yeah, totally. So there’s this, the thing that we always come back to is there’s this like super old recipe, which was.
It was like a grilled cheese. Like a grilled cheese with like jam or something like that. Okay. Uh, and just super random. Lindsay just sent me a text message and it was the eye roll emoji and she said it actually wasn’t the grilled cheese. She’s listening in in real time from the other room. . But Lindsay sent me, sent me the recipe that I’m talking about.
Help me out . But anyways, so anytime that, anytime that she says like what was, what’s your, somebody says, what’s your favorite recipe in Lindsay’s around? I always laugh because I bring that up. I would say one that would be would be good. We, she said we have a thousand other better recipes on Pinch of Yu.
This is like us in real time. You’re seeing our like language interaction. That’s right.
Spencer: I need to have her on and then we can really talk food and recipe apiece.
Bjork: I’ll say this, there’s a chicken nochi, which difficult word to spell G N O C C. I Okay. Soup. That’s really good. And we’re coming up to that season of like being able to make soups like that.
Yes. Yep. So I’ll, uh, I’ll send you that link and then there you
Spencer: go. We’ll put it in the show notes, the show notes, if anybody, uh, is craving that. Um, yeah. Awesome. Sorry to put you on the spot there, Bjork.
Bjork: That was probably the best part of the interview. .
Spencer: Good. So, um, if people wanna follow along with you or get in touch with you, you know, are you on Twitter or where else should they go to,
Bjork: you know, kind?
Yeah. Probably best way to get ahold of me is actually email. So for as important as social media is for everything that we have going on, personally, I’m not really active, so it’s just bjork tiny bit.com. If somebody wanted to drop you an email and say hi, I can, um, follow up and, and uh, connect with you there.
Um, otherwise Pinch of Yam is, you know, pinch of yam.com and then all the other places. And if people wanna see all the other kind of brands, what we’re up to, you can check out tiny bit.com. Perfect.
Spencer: Yeah. Thank you bor so much for coming on the show. Shared lots of, uh, great tis both seo, general business and otherwise.
Um, it’s been a
Bjork: pleasure. Thanks, Spencer. Thank you.