“Think left and think right, and think low and think high.
Oh, the things you can think up if you only try!” ~ Dr. Seuss
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A continuation today of my interview with Lindsay Ostrom, who's created such a beautiful blog: Pinch of Yum. Part of a new series here at The Veggies, devoted to people living lives filled with creativity and inspiration.
In Part I we chatted about favorite cookbooks, her blogging philosophy, and the hustle. Part II includes advice for people just getting started, those who've been at it a while
and everywhere in between
What would you tell your just-beginning self?
To stay open-minded and find the joy in it, even if you know it’s going to change. Early on, I couldn't wait to see how many comments I'd gotten. Now the joy is in something different. I think it's important to always keep a pulse on that
“I know it sounds a bit cheesy, but one of my best pieces of advice is to keep an open mind, dream big, and not limit yourself to just your own ideas” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
I would also tell my just-beginning self not to limit your vision. I’m really fortunate because Pinch of Yum is something my husband and I have created together. Big dreaming and visionary thinking have always been a strength of his. If I'd built it on my own and relied on my own ideas, I never would have imagined I could make money. Much less turn it into a career and a business with a team.
Over the years, as your husband's thrown out ideas, have there ever been times when you've thought, “I'm not so sure.” Or have you always said, “Let's try.”
I've got a perfect example.
Bjork: “I think you should write an e-book with all of the things you've learned about food photography. It'll become part of the way we monetize the blog
Me (skeptical): “What? Oh, I don't know” (pregnant pause) “Well, it would be fun to write”
My husband is driven by results and growth (the big picture stuff). I'm driven by the work. I just really like to do the work. In the case of the e-book, I like teaching, and I like photography, so it made a lot of sense for me to put together this teaching tool. I had a lot of fun doing it and whatever else happened was just a bonus. To be honest, I'd do it for free because I like to do that kind of stuff
What would you tell someone who'd like to turn their blog into a job instead of a hobby?
The first thing I'd say is be patient because it takes time. Certainly, there are stories of people who, within a year, have taken their blog to a level where they are making enough to quit their day job. That's really rare, and I think it's becoming even more so as the industry becomes more saturated. There may be ways you can do it, and that's where the hustle comes into play. If you really want to experience that hockey-stick growth and turn a hobby into a viable career, you simply have to work harder than anybody else you know.
You're probably going to have a time where you have to work your day job and do the side-hustle for your blog on nights and weekends. For three or four years, that was my experience. Although in my case, it was a little different, because I never wanted to leave my day job. It just sort of happened.
“You need to ask yourself, is this really what I want to do?” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
It's easy to idealize what it's like to be your own boss and run your blog. I've discovered what most people are after is the quitting-your-job part. The reality is, when you're working on your own thing, you're going to be working a lot and taking on a lot of stress. There is a whole other side. When you're doing it as your full-time job, it feels different from doing it as a hobby. I'd say spend some time thinking about that. If you want to take it full-time you can, but be prepared to be patient, and be prepared to hustle for a good chunk of time. Also, don't jump into it because you're unhappy in your current job. Really think about what feels purposeful and meaningful to you, and use those things as guideposts for direction
I have a lot of friends who are new moms. Many of them thought it would be wonderful to quit their jobs and stay home with their cute new baby, but after a while, they realized how much work that was too. Full-time blogging can be like that. It can look very different from the outside.
How do you handle negative people and comments?
It's hard. One of the things that's helpful to me is talking about it. (But that's Dealing With Stuff 101). I always feel worse when I'm sitting at my computer by myself, than if I'm talking to someone face to face. If I'm looking at it on the screen, I can feel my blood start to boil a little bit, or I think, “Why am I even doing this?” But later on, when I'm telling a friend, we laugh it off. It feels so much better to process it with someone else instead of just me and the screen
At the same time, dealing with negative people and comments is just part of the job description. You're going to get negative feedback. I might not have the thickest skin, but I've got some strategies for dealing with it. Like I mentioned earlier, talking to people helps, as well as choosing my response. Sometimes the right decision is not to respond. Other times the response is one that deflects the situation.
What are your thoughts about authenticity online?
Authenticity is a big win. Once you reach a certain level, you have to ask yourself, “Where does it make sense for me to be?” For example, I write the blog posts but am not involved in creating videos. Anything that has my name on it has been written by me. I never ask someone to comment as me. It's a big deal to my husband and me that we're seen as real people who've created a team
How do you handle fear?
Fear is always there, and it takes a lot of different forms. “What are people going to think?” “What's going to happen next?” As a blogger, there are so many unknowns, and “What's going to happen next” is a big one for me. “If I want to change something, what's going to happen?”
“The way I get past the fear is always to stay curious” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
If I'm following something I'm interested in, as opposed to being motivated by fear, that just feels a lot better and far more natural. Ironically that's where I've found success when I'm simply following something I'm interested in
Have you ever thought about quitting?
During the first three years, I thought about quitting about once a month. “Maybe I should quit this; it's a lot of work.” Usually, it would follow closely on the heels of a perceived failure, and that was telling to me.
“I'm not just having this thought; it's one that always follows failure, and it's not a true thought.” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
Now that I'm more steady in blogging, I still entertain the idea from time to time, but it's happening less often now.
How do you stay true to yourself by keeping the blog a creative outlet, yet at the same time produce interesting content for your readers?
Two of the things I think a lot about are, “What will perform” and “What do I like?” If I only focus on what will perform, I start to feel pretty dry creatively. It starts to feel like I'm working for the machine and trying to get more of, whatever. Yet I have to keep it interesting for myself, in order to keep the spirit of the blog alive. So I try to maintain a balance. For example, two posts a month are sponsored, two posts a month are strategic and tailored toward higher rankings, three or four posts a month are about creating something that's fun and exciting for me
Tune in Saturday for the final installment. It will be especially interesting for those wondering, “How in the world does she take such beautiful photos?” She'll share her workflow, camera settings, where she turns for inspiration, and much, much more
One of the questions I always ask of fellow bloggers is, “What are a few of your favorite recipes from over the years?” Their answers are never what I'd have guessed
“One of my favorite recipes from the site is the 5 Minute Magic Green Sauce. It's a cross between a pesto and guacamole. It goes on anything. I can have almost no ingredients in my house, and it'll go with eggs, vegetables, whatever” ~ Lindsay Ostrom
I couldn't help but smile; in the Rolodex of every healthy cook lies a recipe for their go-to green sauce.
Mine comes from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. After reading cookbooks by Sara Leah Chase were some of Ina Garten's most treasured, I've collected them all.
We too, have found ourselves eating green sauce on nearly everything. Salads, indeed it's great on salads, but it's also wonderful over salmon, grilled chicken, shrimp or steak. Use it as a dip for veggies, on sandwiches, or over roasted veggies.
There's almost nothing you can cook for dinner that you won't want to cover in green sauce
~ Adapted from The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook by Sheila Lukins, Julee Rosso, and Sarah Leah Chase
Magical Herbed Green Sauce
- 2 cups fresh parsley leaves
- 3 scallions, white and green parts, sliced
- ½ cup fresh dill sprigs
- 3 anchovy fillets, drained
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tbsp capers, drained
- 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- ¾ cup olive oil
- Fine grain sea salt + freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 hard-boiled eggs, finely chopped
- 2-3 tbsp shaved asiago cheese (or parmesan)
- Mince the parsley, scallions, and dill in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
- Add the anchovies, garlic, capers, asiago cheese, and lemon juice. Process until smooth.
- With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Remove to a serving bowl and stir in the eggs.
- (Makes about 1 ½ cups)