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Blogging success - A Pinch of Yum. (And oops!)

Updated: Apr 27

"People sharing information that helps people." Bjork Ostrom

First of all the oops. Somehow or other when I wrote my post about not really being 64 in Collioure, I now realise that I am really losing it and I actually was 64. I mentioned that it was 2007, not 2003 and therefore I was 68. Obviously my failing brain made a mathematical miscalculation, thinking that although in 2003 I actually turned 60 my brain somehow translated that into 64. But yes actually June 20 2007 was when I did indeed turn 64. Like I said in the post - a failing brain. It's marginally worrying.

But - to the topic of today - a website called A Pinch of Yum. A website that makes a lot of money and has 4-5 million monthly viewers, a team of some 13 people, and, I imagine, pretty massive earnings, even without a cookbook. That's its Facebook page, which mysteriously seems to be written in Dutch. The main website is run by this husband and wife team - Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom.

It's a true husband and wife effort. Lindsay and Bjork Ostrom who live in Minnesota - a former teacher and, I'm guessing, an executive of some kind. for a non-profit company. It was her thing to begin with - a passion hobby, as so many of these things are. Sharing recipes, travel, life - with the inevitable dog. Somehow or other it became a minor success - I suspect with the business knowledge of Bjorn playing a major part in this.

The interesting and somewhat unusual thing, that was back in 2011 they decided to document online in a monthly report their income and their progress, both monetary and in a whole lot of other ways. That first report documented an income of US$21.97. I have no idea what it is today but obviously a lot. By 2024 they were earning enough to dedicate themselves to it full-time. Interesting and unusual however, for a food blog to report all the income and expenses, etc. in a report online every month. In 2017 those reports came to an end, mostly I think because of a family tragedy - their first child - a son - died a few days after birth. They now have a young daughter. The impetus to succeed and work must have subsided for a while and part of Lindsay's way of recovering was to write about it on the blog.

I guess time is a healer, which is not to denigrate the loss and so they picked up and continued - well it was their full-time job by now.

In 2013 they set up Foodblogger Pro - a sister company which provided advice and assistance in setting up and running a successful food blog. This is Bjork's baby. You pay your membership and get access to podcasts, videos, documents ... Fundamentally how to make money from food blogging. Which is a relatively unique thing for a food blog to do I guess. Lindsay, meanwhile continues to write her food (and travel) blog, although the travel part is minor and actually not that easy to find. There is no direct link to those posts in the menu bar.

Other websites I have come across rarely have dedicated parts of their business telling you how to write a successful food blog, although there are, of course, numerous dedicated businesses doing this. It is therefore, in some ways the most interesting thing for me to write about, so let me offer you some of Bjork's bits of advice - truisms I suppose - from that last income report - What We Learned and Why We're Stopping.

"Know Your Pull

Where are you naturally pulled?

What do you find yourself thinking about or daydreaming about?

What do you think about if you’re driving by yourself with nothing to listen to?

That’s your pull.

It’s the place where your brain naturally goes when there’s nothing distracting it. It’s the thing that you think about, and enjoy thinking about, when there’s nothing else to fill that space. ... You have a pull. It might look similar to ours, or it might be something completely different. Find what that is and search for ways to build something around it."

"Learning how to learn because things change quickly, and if you can’t learn the new thing, then you’ll still be doing the old thing. And it’s the old thing, not the industry, that ends." I find this one particularly true - think every new technical communications development. If you don't keep up with each new step you won't be able to cope. An example is banking - we still need to bank - but increasingly we have to learn new ways to do it.

"if you find a way to improve just a little bit each day, and continue to do that consistent work and content creation, then six years down the line you’ll look back at where you started and be impressed at how much progress you’ve made."

Am I? Well I suppose I'm still doing it, and that's a success in a way. Are other sites as successful as Pinch of Yum? Well Bjork did a survey of some sites and reported that: "About 12.5 percent said they made over $100,000."

Now I, of course have no success at all - in the sense of commercial or even readership success, but then I'm not attempting to attain that. My aim is just to keep my brain ticking over, and to stop myself being bored. And I really do appreciate that in fact I do have some regular readers. Thank you.

But enough about the business - what about the food? Well here is the Home Page with a 'taster' kind of invite. Similar in so many ways to countless other sites is it not? Delicious looking stuff but unless you are a regular follower you probably wouldn't come across them very often. I do see their offerings in my Google searches pretty often but I don't search them out.

Anyway I decided to check out two of their most recent recipes and one pasta - well we all love pasta don't we.

Number one - Crispy rice salad with cucumbers and herbs which apparently is her take on a Laotion dish - nam khao:

"This salad is a riff on Nam Khao which is a Laotian appetizer-style salad where the rice is fried into balls with fermented sausage, broken apart, and then eaten on a platter with lettuce cups"

And she uses an air-fryer to cook the rice, although she also tells you how to do it in the oven. Aldi has an air-fryer on sale on Saturday. I shall try to resist buying one, even though my daughter-in-law tells me that the one she bought is her new best friend.

Number two - Incredible gochujang sauce - another air-fryer connection in that she is dipping some air-fryer salmon into it. Do I have room for an air-fryer? They are so big. Maybe if I shuffle a few things around ... But gochujang - I should investigate it more. I have another jar of the related crispy chilli oil which I pretty much adore in spite of its expense, but I have not actually tried gochujang, mostly because I fear it will be too hot for usage in the Dearman household.

Here I should mention one thing she has in her recipes - an FAQ about each recipe which is often useful, although I suspect they are not genuine reader sourced questions, just questions she has thought readers might want to know the answers to. Useful though.

Number three - the pasta - just the first one in her pasta selection. Spaghetti with crispy zucchini. Now this one I might try. Not necessarily because it's the best looking pasta recipe ever, but because the other day I succumbed and bought a big bag of zucchini in Woolworths' Odd Bunch section. Zucchini don't last that long in the fridge and so I shall have to do something with them some time soon. It's also a 'new' recipe week, so maybe I should make this my 'new' recipe. It's pretty simple you fry the breaded zucchini slices, combine with your pasta and cover with a melting cheese. Everything we like isn't it?

Whilst I was looking for interviews and reviews I came across a couple of reddit comments on the negative side. Just to show I'm unbiased:

"As a whole I like and respect POY and their team, but there is something about the excessive hype for every single recipe they come out with. Not everything you cook needs to be life changing!" r/FoodieSnark/reddit

Don't you feel old when you see those initialised words - POY for Pinch of Yum? In this particular thread there were also many references to HBH which meant absolutely nothing to me - apparently it's Half Baked Harvest which is another supposedly successful website of which I have never heard. So I've added it to my list. Our grandchildren communicate in initialised words all the time. We sometimes have to seek clarification. I am so old!

"To be honest I just hit “Jump to Recipe” and ignore all the fluff before a recipe. This applies to all food bloggers." SwimmingWaterdog11/reddit

Oh dear. It is true though. Food bloggers do indeed tend to rave about absolutely everything in fairly awful drivel sometimes. Mostly like that last commenter I also skip, although I always try to read the intro and every now and then the intro is worth reading. It is rare that you get a combination of words worth reading and recipes worth making. It's actually surprising and indeed wonderful how many there actually are.

A slightly different approach from this website - well in the background with all that business stuff. The foreground, is in a way, the usual.


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Apr 24

Do I really need an air fryer. We don’t eat a lot of fried foods and like you I have no space for one. But like you I am intrigued

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