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If you’re a food blogger and you’re looking for a vision for your role, Laurie Buckle of CookIt Media, encourages you to consider becoming the Editor-in-Chief. It’s kinda catchy, don’t you think? It has a good ring to it. Whereas a blogger may be simply going from post to post, the editor-in-chief takes a higher level view of her audience and how she delivers content to them. It really is an inspiring discussion to help you take things to another level!
More about Laurie
Laurie comes to the food blogging community with a past in the print world, having previously worked with Bon Appetit, Better Homes and Gardens, and Fine Cooking. Yes, this is the crème de la crème of food-focused magazines!
However, Laurie recognized what was going on in the food blogging community and she thought there was an opportunity to help. So she started CookIt Media where she works one-on-one and provides courses to help food bloggers expand their horizons.
Having a background in food-focused print media, gave Laurie important perspectives that helped her guide food bloggers away from the one-off posting process, to becoming Editor in Chief of their food blogs.
Becoming the Editor in Chief
Laurie reminds us that it’s important to do more than serve Google with our content. We should be serving our readers. That means understanding our readers and delivering content that impacts them.
What does this mean for you?
- Stop scanning keywords for the latest and greatest unicorn posts
- Take a higher level view and deliver content in a way your reader embraces
- Get higher engagement
- Gain a better understanding of what your audience wants.
Laurie encourages knowing your readers’ needs as a high-level problem that must be solved in order to move forward. In addition, she suggests that you put aside your concerns about authenticity to yourself as a blogger, and deliver the content your readers want.
Here are important links and resources related to today’s post on Becoming the Editor-in-Chief with Lauri Buckle.
- Connect with Laurie and her team on her site: CookIt Media
- Say thanks to our guest today with a shout-out: CookIt Media on Instagram
- Check out CookIt Media’s Beyond the Blog course!
- Related Post: Laurie’s first visit on the Chopped Podcast — Laurie Buckle encourages you to Create a Vision Statement
- Connect with Chopped Academy Online: Instagram | Twitter
- Related Post: Here’s some Food Blogging Inspiration with Ali of Gimme Some Oven
- Connect with Marly: Namely Marly | Instagram | Twitter
- Today’s post production, music, graphic art & sound design by Shawn Beelman
- Subscribe below to be the first to hear about future Chopped Podcast episodes and get some awesome tips on food blogging. You can subscribe at the bottom of this page. You’ll be glad you did!
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Podcast Interview Transcript
[00:00:00] Marly: Hey, everyone. I’m so happy to have on the show today. Laurie buckle. She’s the founder and CEO of CookIt Media. And she’s back on the show today. Hey Laurie. Welcome to the Chopped Podcast.
Laurie: Hey Marly. Thank you so much.
Marly: I am so excited to have you here today. We had a little pre conversation and I just know everybody’s going to love what we’re going to be talking about today.
Laurie: I hope so. I’m also worried that we’re probably gonna talk for what four or five days.
Marly: I totally could talk to you that long, but we’ll try to keep it short for everybody else. So on the, you know, just for people who haven’t listened to the previous episode, I really encourage you to go back it’s episode number 148. And Lori talked about, you know, your food blogger brand and I just found that to be so inspiring, but for people who didn’t catch that episode and they don’t have time to go back right now, Laurie, can you give us a quick synopsis of Cook-it Media?
Laurie: Absolutely excited to do so. So Cook-It Media is [00:01:00] my little startup. We’ve actually been around for five years and we started in the consulting space. Mine was, I was working at food magazines my entire career at Bon Appetit and Better Homes and Gardens and Fine Cooking and wanting to find a way to bring my experiences, what I knew about creating a brand and speaking to an audience and creating differentiation for who you are out there in the marketplace. I wanted to help basically bloggers at that point in time, understand how to think about their blogs that way, and how to look at the opportunity as bigger and sort of filled with opportunities in a way that I didn’t think they were. So, we got started in consulting. One-on-one really working with individuals to help them become better businesses in many ways. And, that was the, that was sort of the root of it all. And I got to work with some amazing people who still friends with to this day.
And at that time, as people were beginning to kind of [00:02:00] find success on the other side of those consulting conversations, they were coming back to us and saying, wow, I’m starting to hear from brands. And I’m not really sure what to say to them. I don’t really understand this whole world of partnerships and I don’t know what to charge for myself.
And from my perspective, again, kind of with this magazine experience that I have really knowing what it’s like to have both an editorial team and an ad sales team in your back pockets all the time and how the two work together. It made sense to me to really think about, what is an agency that really supports the influencer part of this process, the creativity that, that she brings to it and the work that she can do that.
Well, really help a brand, you know, sort of help that boat rise, but also help her boat rise in the process. So that was the point at which Cook-It became both consulting and, and brand management. In the intervening years, we’ve also added our [00:03:00] content studio, which is where we work with influencers as content creators for brands, custom content effectively.
So we’re sort of a three-pronged machine, all really focused on influencers and helping them still become better businesses.
Marly: I love it. I feel like it’s like you saw this burgeoning food blogging movement happening and you realized the similarities to publishing and, and trying to help. I think we were all just trying to figure things out as we went along and you’re trying to help food bloggers understand that they are basically an online magazine.
Laurie: Exactly. That’s that’s so perceptive. From the beginning of blogging, I was still in magazines at that time and I was. I was kind of hesitant. I was sort of resistant to what are these people doing? Especially in the food space, you know, where I had grown up in a test kitchen, at Bon Appetit and I knew what it was like to create recipes and test [00:04:00] them and test them seven times over and over.
And I kept thinking, well, okay, Wow. How did these people know how to do that? How do they bring that expertise and authority to this process? So I think initially I was like, wait, wait, is this right? But then I realized that what was happening online was actually a lot more interesting than what was happening in print.
At least to me, I felt like the food was so much more creative. That the way they did their work was so interesting. I mean, this is at the root of our content studio is – that efficiency, the economy, the, I can do it all element that influencers have that did not exist and still does not exist in the print world.
It was fascinating to me. So there was just a couple of moments in there where I was like, all right, I am, I need to go over there because I think that’s really where the food is more interested in and the opportunity is bigger. But bottom line, it is all still content and it’s all still a business that runs on content.
And I think that was, for me, what I [00:05:00] could see was that, all right here’s how we create content. You’re doing that much better, but I can help you learn what to do with that content that will sort of, you know, grow your opportunities.
Marly: Oh, yeah. I love that. I, I mean, I feel a little overwhelmed when I think about the fact that in the print world you have, you know, food photographer, food stylist, you know, the recipe testers are that probably chefs involved and, and all the way to marketing and all these experts. And then you’ve you, you transitioned to a food blogger where it’s maybe just one person.
Laurie: It’s one person and I’m I have, I am and have always been astounded by that. And the fact that they can do that. That said, I don’t think it’s sustainable. I’m happy to chat about that, but I feel like it was, it was this amazing experience where they were able to launch, really a whole new industry, if you think about it, and do it from the ground up. The real pioneers, you know, that kind of really showed us what this could be.
But I think as it’s [00:06:00] expanded and as it’s become, oh, my gosh, it’s so chaotic out there. It’s so hard to get yourself noticed. It’s so hard to find your audience, all those things that were so much easier, 8, 10, 12 years ago. They’re so hard now. And now the opportunity is really, it looks different because it does require more of the influencer and more of sort of her expertise in the category, for lack of a better way to put it. Lots to talk about there.
Marly: Yes exactly. I’m actually, I’m looking forward to talking with you more about that here in a minute, but I really was intrigued by what you talked about, you know, with the relationship between the blogger and the brand. So let’s talk about that for a moment. I know that you’ve seen that change over time.
Can you talk a little bit about the things that you’ve seen and the direction you think it should be going?
Laurie: Yes happily. so it’s been so great to have five years of experience under our belt, in this business and to kind of. Where we were five years [00:07:00] ago and where we are now and the big picture around what that looks like when we’d started up the agency. and what it looks like now. And again, coming back to that idea about how it’s, it’s so much bigger.
Now, it’s so much, it’s so much more important in many ways, and it’s so much more complex than it ever used to be. And I think something has, something really interesting, perhaps this is just in my brain, but something really interesting has happened in the past few months. As we have all come home, all of us, we’re all home and we’re all really focused on cooking in a way that hasn’t existed since.
I don’t know, maybe forever. I think especially for a generation that really wasn’t cooking, that really was much more interested in eating out and ordering in and, you know, sort of, not really seeing the advantages of what it was like to cook at home. And I love that. I mean, I love watching these [00:08:00] people making bread now and, you know, planning their meals for the week and doing things that they didn’t even really have the resources to do a few months ago, combined with the fact that they’ve used the world of social media, because that’s really where they live to better understand how to do all of these things, to learn how to cook effectively, not just recipes, but ideas and tips and cooking from the pantry. A lot of how to, and I think what that’s done for the industry is it’s given them a true sense of purpose as an influencer.
The past few months, it wasn’t so much about, you know, sort of the business of what they were doing. It was about their readers and how they could help them. And I think what we’ve all learned from that experience is that these people, influencers with all of this knowledge, provide a real value for, for an audience that perhaps had been overlooked for a while there.
And that as we think about sort of, what that looks [00:09:00] like from the brand perspective and when the brand has the opportunity to see this value that influencers are, you know, sort of providing for their, for their followers and their readers. I think this shift is happening. And I think what it means is that brands are better understanding influencer marketing.
They’re kind of realizing what’s going on over here and they’re beginning to see a place for themselves. And I think they’re also beginning to understand that it is. It is not their job to tell the influencer what to do in a partnership. This is, I think this is actually the big shift. It’s their job to create a partnership with that influencer.
That’s really built on the power of her influence, combined with the creativity that she brings to the content that she shares with her reader. so I think that’s a different view. I think for a while there really, what was happening was the brand was conducting the partnership between brand and influencer and the brand was too heavy handed in terms of their [00:10:00] role in the process.
And they didn’t necessarily understand the potential for creativity I think the way they do now.
Marly: They were kind of micromanaging a little.
Laurie: They were micromanaging. Right, right. And we would tell them they were micromanaging. But you know, really great content comes from the influencers’ knowledge of her reader, what that reader needs and her creative thinking around a product that she probably already loves and uses.
That’s a, that’s a really great partnership, right? That’s a really organic look at how to think about as an influencer, the things that you love and the things that you share with your readers and the things you’re proud to, you know, to tell them about and letting that become a part of your business strategy, whereby you’re also able to work with that brand, that, you know, brand who produces that product and give them this kind of creative content that I think was a part of the “way back when” story in terms of influencer marketing. It was about creativity and it was about [00:11:00] these really authentic partnerships. And it has shifted away from that.
And I see it coming back. Oh, I can’t even tell you how excited I am.
Marly: But I also want to point out, I feel like some of these brands have gone through some life changing experiences as well, because many of them are maybe for the first time having employees work from home. And so talk about the trust that you need in that, the trust that you need in an influencer to do their job.
I mean, there’s, I think it’s been on there on the part of the brand to learn that trust.
Laurie: I completely agree. I think the brands have learned as much as we all have. We’ve had so many conversations over the past few months with, with brands that we work with, who are pretty confused about their role, about who they are and what they’re talking about and who they’re partnering with at this moment in time, because, everything is different. Do you know what I mean? It’s [00:12:00] like back-to-school season is not necessarily back-to-school season anymore. We’re not sure when all the kids are going back to school, like. Entertaining isn’t really entertaining anymore. It’s people gathering in large backyards and social distancing, but still trying to stay connected.
And I think they’ve really had a hard time kind of understanding that. They need to be speaking to their consumers almost the same way an influencer is speaking to her readers with this sense of how can we help you not so much. How do we sell you this product more? What can we do to make this experience easier, better for you. And, you know, a lot of them, I think have kind of almost stepped out and basically said, okay, we’re just going to pause until things get back to normal and others have jumped right in and said, Oh wow. I can really see how our products can do that. And we’re gonna, we’re going to shift our strategy in that direction.
And others are kind of in the middle. They’re like, Taking steps, [00:13:00] but not still, not really confident about exactly how to do this. And I think influencers can be such amazing guides for the brands in this process.
Marly: Oh, I agree so much. Now, what do you think influencers can do to help brands feel that trust? I mean, I’ve, I’ve seen some influencers who do these regular reports. It’s whenever they finish up, a campaign with the big brand. Are, are those the kinds of things you recommend?
Laurie: Yes, a hundred percent. I think metrics on the, you know, the, the end of the partnership are key to helping that brand understand the value of what that partnership was because obviously bottom line, it is a business and the brand needs those numbers. They need that information to really kind of, you know, understand what that was for them.
And, and it’s, you know, it’s potential, it’s value for them going forward. But I think way back at the beginning though, before there even is a partnership, I think influencers can really help brands almost see what is about to [00:14:00] happen when the brand gets the opportunity to look at it. Almost really experienced the organic content that the influencer has already created around that product.
Kind of coming back to that idea of really working with brands that you value as an influencer, letting that be a part of your content, letting it be a very organic, you know, editorial reference to that product and then showing the brand, I mean, that’s the best kind of trust, right? It’s like, I love your product.
Let me show you how much my readers love your product. Look at these conversations we’re having, in comments and things like that about this product and its value. And when we are a partner, a partnership, a partnership together, basically the influencer and the brand. This will happen again because my audience now is not skeptical of this partnership, they don’t see hashtag “ad” and run. They basically embrace the idea that this influencer, that they follow loves this product. And it’s only natural that she would partner with that brand. So [00:15:00] , it’s setting everybody up for success way back at the beginning.
Marly: Yeah, I think it’s a little bit of a challenge though, for some influencers. I wouldn’t say all, but for some of us, I think it’s a little bit of a challenge because we feel like we’re, we’re selling or we’re, you know, selling our soul maybe as the term that comes to mind. But, but I think what I’m hearing you say, as long as you’re picking brands that you just love any way and courting them and trying to create this, maybe like a brand ambassador ship with them, I think that feels a lot, a lot better.
Laurie: Exactly. I love that concept of ambassadorship. That’s really what we’re talking about here. And to be honest with you, this is something that magazines have always done, and they do it with confidence because they do it from an editorial perspective. I think that influencers are right to worry about what might be called working for free.
And I would never recommend that someone work for free, but when you, let’s see, let’s take an example of a magazine that has a shopping page in the front of that [00:16:00] magazine. And the shopping section is all about, you know, the best tools to use in the kitchen. And those are products. Those are obviously brand products, but the magazine has gone out of its way to research work with their test kitchen. Really understand what are, let’s say, what are the top 10 tools that we want to recommend to our readers, and make those recommendations in that shopping section? Not because they want to bring in the advertising, but because they want to share that information with their readers, The same thing that’s happening at the same time is the ad sales team is over here saying, wow, editorial is working on this amazing piece about kitchen tools and this kind of thing. We’re going to talk to these brands about actually coming into this partnership with this magazine kind of the same process.
In other words, because organically, there is a mention in here of, you know, of that brand or of that product kind of thing. So it, it sounds funny when I say it out loud, but it really does work because the reader is very savvy and the [00:17:00] reader is smart enough to, you know, call it as it is basically.
And when she knows that there really is organic interest in that product. In the influencer’s feed long before there’s any kind of partnership. She’s very accepting of that. And she accepts the fact that the influencer has a business and at the same time, she’s very honest and transparent about that fact.
And I think it’s all part of. It’s all part of that. You know what I mean? Everyone understands this is a business, but there is at the very root of it. It’s, it’s organic, it’s creative. And it’s all the things that the reader desires in the, in the content.
Marly: Well, I think that kind of leads me to the next section that I want to talk with you about because, I’ve heard you say a lot about this concept, that blogging is dead. And whenever I hear you say that, I always kind of like cringe a little bit like, Oh, but you know, we’re all doing this and, but, but you, I think it’s very creative and I love the way that you explain it.
Can you talk a little bit about that?
Laurie: Yeah, [00:18:00] sure. I’m sure that has come out of my mouth before, but I try really hard not to say that it’s dead. It’s just undergoing a transition. Really what I mean when I say that is that it’s almost, I’m really talking about the format because from the beginning, you know, this whole concept of a blog and a blog role is very limiting.
If you think about it, it kind of requires you to be an individual who can tell a story about yourself and what you’re cooking day in and day out and make it really interesting. Do you know what I mean? And I don’t think any of us is actually interesting every single day, right?
Marly: I’m definitely in that category.
Laurie: It’s so funny. I used to teach food writing, and it would be, I dunno, it’s a 10 week long course and it, by the last lesson, the last, the last session, that was the only point in the entire course [00:19:00] when the, the writers, the students effectively were allowed to write in the first person they had to master all the other, you know, ways to write about content before they can indulge themselves by writing in the first person. And it’s simply because there is very little call for content that is about an individual. It needs to be content that serves an audience. So the format itself, a blog, you know, the blog concept was really focused on that individual and, and this storytelling that kind of was.
Just in one in one category, for lack of a better, better way to describe it. It’s sort of, there were, there were no ways to think about how content could be different things. Like if you had a website that really had amazing recipes for, you know, getting dinner on the table and then a, how to section where there was a lot of information about how to create those recipes from tips to techniques. That kind of thing.
And another section that was [00:20:00] really about content that was more focused on feeding friends and, you know, getting together and that kind of thing. That’s really hard to do in the blog format where it’s really just the one story over and over rolling underneath each other. And there isn’t that chance for the reader to have that exploratory experience of, well, look at all the amazing content in this blog. And , that’s really what I’m saying is that it’s the format that needs to change the influencer herself. I mean, obviously her role has to change as the environment that she works in like a website, as opposed to a blog is more complicated and does require more out of her, but we still need her up there as the face of the brand, she doesn’t have to be the voice of the brand every day. And it doesn’t have to be very specific to her story, to the age of her kids or something like that. But she does have to have a story and she has to be there for her readers in a very visual way on so many platforms. If you [00:21:00] think about it, especially as, you know, as we move into IGTV and live and stories and all of these things, there has to be a face of that brand. So we’ve, we talk about that a lot.
Marly: Yeah, I love that. And I think what I got out of that is that, I don’t know. We can kind of look at blogging as. A one off, like maybe I get somebody there for , my mashed potatoes and then they leave and that’s all they’re there for. But I feel like when I heard you talking about this, I mean, my first reaction was like, what, what is she talking about? But then as I listened to your explanation, I’m like, okay, this makes sense. Rather than looking at. My site that way, like, okay, what’s a keyword that I could go for and people will come to my site for that keyword. And then I go to another keyword and look for that keyword and, and, you know, rather than having all these disparate recipes, it’s really more of a cohesive site and I’m the editor in chief. And I love that.
Laurie: You are the editor in chief of your brand and every day it’s an obligation. Do you know what I mean? You are there to really serve that [00:22:00] reader and you can’t serve Google. You can use Google as a tool, as a support system, as a way to, you know, find eyeballs that are hard to find, but it can’t be your guide.
Basically, Google wants you to do what I want you to do, which is create really outstanding, expert content that serves your reader, that answers her questions. When she reaches out to you and says, ask, you know, well, how do I do this? Or do you have this? Or tell me how to store this or that kind of thing. And we want the same things, obviously they’re different tactics to get there, but most importantly is that you are the editor in chief working for your reader all the time, and that is your focus. And then everything else takes shape around around that, that goal.
Marly: Yeah. So when you’re, I I’m actually going to tie this in to the conversation on branding, because you know, you were talking about how you have different departments in the magazine that, one would be [00:23:00] maybe working – we’re going to create these top 10 products that we think your kitchen needs.
And maybe one of them’s a Vitamix, and then you’ve got a different department reaching out to Vitamix. And so as a food blogger, I might say, Oh, well that might turn off my audience, but I think it’s time to take off that food blogging hat and put in the editor in chief. And what does the editor and chief say?
Yeah, we want to show that we’re integrated here and I don’t know. I just think it really does help expand your horizons a little bit.
Laurie: That’s a really good point. As the editor in chief, you really run everything. You run the editorial side, you run the advertising side, you run it. The growth strategy you run, you know, your team, all of that stuff that in many ways an influencer is doing right now, she gets, she needs to get more credit for that.
Do you know what I mean? She needs to be the business woman that she already is and be acknowledged as such and, and have that opportunity to create. This true business for herself, that will, it will take her it’s this, it will take her beyond the blog. I think [00:24:00] that’s a, you know, that’s what we’re calling the course that we just created that helps people do all of this, but it really is.
It is saying to the influence. So the blog is not dead. It’s just like what lies beyond the blog. And it’s a heck of a lot more interesting and more fun than the limitations of the current blog.
Marly: Yes. And I love how just hearing you talk about it, it, it kind of maps it all together for the reader. So, you’re talking about if you’re creating a recipe on mashed potatoes and you might talk about the best tools to make those mashed potatoes, or , you learned to think about the things that the reader’s looking for and delivering that, and maybe, you know, like you say, we’re still thinking about Google, but it doesn’t become the main driver of the content we have on our site.
Laurie: Exactly. And I worry about that a lot. I feel like I see that a lot right now that it’s really just, you know, like serving at the feet of Google in order to find success, you know, and, No in metrics and that sort of thing. Yeah. No, it’s, it’s your reader who’s telling you what to do.
Marly: Yes. And so that, I [00:25:00] mean, it’s just another hat to wear, but I really love this editor in chief hat. And then we get to still maintain ourselves as the face of the brand. And so we’re out there on Instagram or we’re out there visually, but again, it gives us a little bit of separation. I think that’s important.
Laurie: Okay. It does because it allows you to tell a bigger story. And I think that’s one of the challenges that influencers have had as they started 10 years ago when they were 22 years old and it was simply a place to store their recipes and they were really excited to see it grow and to have people follow them.
And who was that? Who were these people following them. And then, every day it seems like I talked to somebody who says, I didn’t know this was going to happen. I, I didn’t know that I was going to end up here with all of these followers and all of these people. And now I’m married and I have two kids and my story is completely different than it was 10 years ago.
What do I do? Who am I talking to? Who, who am I in this process? But when you at the beginning really create a [00:26:00] story that is reflective of what’s unique about you and what’s really important to you in the conversation about food and cooking, and you find that in your experiences and in your knowledge and in your expertise and you make that, we like to call that like your unique selling proposition, basically that’s effectively who you are, that story lives outside of you, but it’s informed by you.
And it’s informed by your ongoing interest in that story and your curiosity and your understanding of how it serves and benefits your audience. So even though your life has changed, that doesn’t mean that the story has changed. I think we can all look back at ourselves as teenagers or something like that and realize that something that we loved then is still with us in a very important way in this larger conversation we’re having about, about food.
Marly: Yes, absolutely. So an example might be, if, if [00:27:00] we know that our site is about, easy recipes, you know, easy, healthy recipes may be even, that’s something that we can, like you say, as your life changes on you, now you have kids or, or things. Maybe your kids have gone off to college. There’s a different stories in your life that happen, but you can still maintain that blog story or the brand story, which is we’re here to help you serve easy, healthy recipes.
Laurie: Basically it’s you, you want, I think refine it even a little more than that. So, because there’s, there’s so many other brands out there kind of, you know, struggling for that same space that you are. And I think when you’re very precise about sort of who you are, what you do. Who you do it for and why it’s important.
Like when you really work yourself through that process and you understand it almost outside of yourself, but it’s informed by you and it’s informed by everything [00:28:00] that you’re bringing to the story and it grows with you and it grows with your readers. It’s. You know, this business is there’s a shark light quality to this business because the conversation is always changing.
I think wellness is such a good as health is such a good example of that because it wasn’t very long ago that we were all talking about paleo and keto and all those sorts of different diets. And now we’re talking about wellness. Now, now we’re over here looking at the whole body, really thinking about.
Well what’s what does that mean for us and how do we do it and how, where does food come in there? So it’s like, you can see that, that we’ve always been interested in health, but here we go, really down a different path. That’s going to take us somewhere else and not, you know, not a very long space of time is a very fast changing industry.
I just, one of the things I love most about it is that it’s. It, you got to keep up with it and you’ve got to really understand what are the people that you’re taught, the ones that you’re talking to your, you know, your readers, what are they [00:29:00] interested in? Where can you help them go?
Marly: Well, and I like the idea of not letting that feel like a burden, but letting that feel like it keeps it interesting and fun and always getting to learn something new.
Laurie: It really is. You know, it’s so much easier now than it used to be in print . Print was really focused on research and data and really learning about, your readers and that kind of thing. And that was great. But now every day you can walk out into any social platform onto your site, wherever you might go and talk directly to these people.
And that’s the gift that. I just, sometimes, I can’t believe it’s there every day. It’s like, I can actually ask somebody, what do you think of this? Do you like this? Did this help you? and you’ll get a straight answer and you can take the, you know, take all of those answers in the aggregate and better understand this, you know, the success of your content or, or the, or not.
It’s like, oops, I made a wrong turn there. I’m going to switch back and go over here. Now as a magazine editors, I can tell you, we do that all [00:30:00] the time. It’s like you learn from your failures, right?
Marly: But don’t be afraid to try them. Right. You
Laurie: Oh, no, no. I’ll ask some classics out there.
Marly: Yeah, but there’s really no excuse these days for not knowing your audience.
Laurie: Right? Right. And there’s so many ways to do it. You know, even, even a survey, a good old fashioned survey is an amazing way. And to kind of have that survey in the digital space is even better too. You know, they turn into conversations and conversations and where you really get to the heart of what that person is really asking you for.
Marly: Yeah, I think of an example I heard you talk about where maybe the blogger herself doesn’t like some kind of food. Like I think the example you gave was omelets and yet, but her audience, it’s a really great recipe for her audience it’s and yet she may feel a little bit like, am I being untrue to myself if I put an omelette recipe on there when I hate omelets? But, but I think what you’re saying is if you look at yourself as editor in chief, you might look at that a little differently.
Laurie: Exactly. And I understand that that is a fine [00:31:00] line. And I, I get asked that a lot, but, but it’s this isn’t right for me or this isn’t something I would do, you know, for myself. there’s a long standing joke in the office and, it continues to this day about my dislike of bananas. it’s pretty funny, but, people would go out of their way to tease me about it. But at the same time, I can’t work for a food magazine and not acknowledge that bananas exist in the world because do you know what I mean? There’s so many great reasons to actually like bananas. I mean, when you get to the dark of winter and there’s very little fruit out there in the grocery store, that’s not grown in some other continent or whatever. Bananas are really good resource. And when you’re starving and you’re grabbing a cup of coffee and there’s a bunch of bananas kind of on the counter, it’s really good choice probably to if you like bananas, but do you know what I mean? It’s kind of like really acknowledging that there is value in that product is simply because I don’t like bananas [00:32:00] doesn’t mean that we’re going to ban them from the magazine or the blog, that kind of thing. That’s a simplified version of what we’re talking about, but you do need to separate, sort of the oddities about you, from what your audience is asking you for.
Marly: Yes, that’s perfect. I also liked what you talked about with, knowing your brand story, and then. What I think I’ve see the very successful bloggers, whether they’re lifestyle bloggers or food bloggers. I see them repeat that story a lot. So that I’ve, I, I remember it when I go to their site and I think that’s another thing that we have to get better at, which is feeling comfortable, repeating that story.
Laurie: That’s such a good point, Marly. you’re exactly right. And I think there’s some amazing success stories out there that are kind of showing you how to do that in such a way that you’re just reminding your readers. Both existing, not there yet. You know, it’s like your potential readers. You’re reminding everyone that this is what you hold [00:33:00] true.
This is the thing that is important to you. This is the thing that drives you every day, because when you kind of, when you kind of walk out into the world and you’re, you know, you’re trying to buy a pair of sneakers and you’re trying to decide, okay, which of these brands companies do I want to. Support, you need to be really clear on where each one stands that helps you make that choice.
And I think that’s really similar to understanding and influencers story. What, what is her story? Why do you believe in her and what is it about her that. You hold highest basically. And how is she reminding you every day? That that’s really important to her too. And I think it does come back to story. I think it comes back to, you know, kind of what we were talking about, really understanding who you are in the bigger picture, understanding everything from the marketplace out there that you work in to your role in it, to the thing that makes you unique.
All of these pieces, they effectively [00:34:00] add up to your story.
Marly: Yeah. And I think that would influence the content that you create, not just for your site, but also for social media as well. Wouldn’t you think that would help you, like, you know, there’s so many angles you could go, but if you know your story that I think it kind of helps pair it down and then you know exactly the kind of contact you want to create.
Laurie: Yes. Excellent point. I mean, you do different platforms, have different audiences on them. It’s rare that all of your audience is going to live in one place. And I think when you’re really smart about that, and you understand that you’re a multi-platform brand, that you, you realize that on Instagram, you’re talking to one segment of your audience over here on Facebook.
You’re talking to another. Your tic-toc audience is probably completely different than either of those two. And over here on your website, it’s probably another group. And how do you bring that same story to all of those different audiences, those segments in a way that’s relevant to them. So you’re very respectful of that.
And [00:35:00] at the same time, you can shift your, your tone, your, you know, your perspective slightly just enough so that you know who you’re talking to, and you’re kind of delivering it in a package that suits them.
Marly: Yeah. And I think it’s easy to think of these, you know, some of the bigger bloggers, I mean, I’m thinking of people like Gaby, with, what what’s Gaby cooking, you know, you know, that you might want to think, well, they just have this natural knack to do all this, but I have a feeling there’s a lot more thought that goes into a lot more intention that goes into it then we can even, you know, realize.
Laurie: Yes exactly. I was fortunate enough to work with Gaby way back at the beginning of cook it and help her build this whole, you know, this whole concept of sort of the California girl lifestyle around her brand and what that looks like and how it was both aspirational. We all want to be California girls.
Right. And how it was also really practical in terms of understanding what balance was in a brand. But you’re exactly right. She [00:36:00] tells that story. This is seven or eight years later, I think to this day, all the time in everything that she does and whether that’s a video for the today show or it’s one of her lives or whatever it might be, she’s remembering that that’s who she is in the conversation.
And this is what her reader expects from her.
Marly: Yeah. I mean, I know what to expect when I go to her Instagram feed, it’s, it’s always natural and fun and you know, there’s just a, there’s a certain vibe I get and it’s addicting after a while. You’re like, Oh, I want to go a little, get a little Gaby right now.
Laurie: I’m exactly the same way. I tell her that all the time.
Marly: So then I guess the question we have to ask ourselves is what is that? You know, it’s not an easy answer to get to, I don’t think. And that’s why I really liked being able to, you know, go into your course. And I know that you do this. I think that the reason I want to go here is because, You have worked with bloggers one-on-one and I don’t think there’s anybody better to answer the question than somebody who has actually talked to a number of [00:37:00] different food bloggers.
And you’ve seen the same questions over and over. You’ve seen the same struggles that people have. So you kind of have a good idea of ,how to direct people.
Laurie: I like to think so. It is really interesting almost to a person so much is, is similar in the ways people started in where they are now and what they’re striving to do going forward. It’s it’s really interesting. My heart goes out to these people because they work so hard and they’re trying so hard.
And I feel like I have kind of a, an unfair advantage. Having had this background in content that was created, that it was different and it has the, you know, it has the potential to help them as they go forward. And yes, we have done one-on-one consulting for all these years, but to be honest, I created the course.
Oh, my gosh, it took us more than a year to do it. I really created it so that it could reach a larger audience so that I, I wasn’t [00:38:00] just limited to the few people that there was, you know, the time to work with every, every year, that it was more about, alright, how can we help this larger group of so deserving people who are looking for these answers?
So that’s really the genesis of the course and what I hope it becomes for people is. You know, it is this guide to, you know, where are you going and how are you going to get there and how is it going to actually be your forever job? And the one that you’re so passionate about.
Marly: Yeah. I like this concept of thinking of, you know, when somebody starts a blog, they’re new at it the concept, maybe kicking the can down the road. I wrote a little bit to see what happens, where it goes and, and then when you’re ready to graduate from that, that I think that’s, I think that’s where I, I see this term of looking at yourself as a site or an online magazine. I think that’s a nice next step to take. And I think that’s when you really have to have a lot more intentionality to it.
Laurie: Yes, I agree. And I think [00:39:00] people get to that point in their careers at different points. Some from the beginning are like, ready to go and ready to make this a business and ready to kind of really figure out, okay, I don’t want to start just a blog. Right. Anybody can start just a blog. I want to do this. And, and I, I get to talk to those people every now and then I get to talk to the other people who have been at it for 10 years and are really at a standstill are really just kind of at that point where, well, I know so much about this business, but I can’t see the future. and it’s somewhere in the middle there that everybody I think is sort of beginning to realize that.
There’s way too much and it’s, and it’s too competitive and the content isn’t good enough. And all of these things sort of happening in the blogging space right now that they need to separate themselves from, they kind of need to like rise up out of it and figure out how, how to understand what they do know and how that can really serve them as they move forward to the, what I really think of as the next iteration of the business.
Marly: Yes. You know, Laurie, I love to talk about [00:40:00] tennis. The example I’m having here is that I want to improve in tennis. I hire a coach to help me because there are things that I’m doing that I have no idea. And the coach is like lift your hand up, but you know, when you do this and I’m like, I am doing that.
And he’s like, no, you’re not. So. Yes, trust me. You’re not doing it well, you’re not doing what you think you’re doing. So I think that’s the value in, you know, I’ve often thought that with food blogging as well, if I could have, you know, I hired a coach on SEO or you want to hire a coach to help you really understand what you’re doing and the ways that you can do it better.
I don’t know. I just think there’s, there’s a lot of value to investing in your business, especially if you want to take it to the next level.
Laurie: Yes. I see that. And I see the value of an outside perspective to someone who can look at you and say, no, you’re not doing that right now. Your shoes don’t match kind of thing. and to be honest, that’s one of the reasons that this course it’s, it’s both the how to it’s, it’s all the instruction, it’s all the sort of, you know, the homework and the workbooks and that kind of thing.
It’s basically [00:41:00] everything I teach in the one on one, but it’s. Also, it has a Facebook group component to it, a private Facebook group where we all get together and have that sort of outside perspective opportunity. So you can come into the Facebook group and ask me a question and I can say, no, that’s not the right way to think about it.
So you kind of, you kind of get the best of both. I hope that’s the plan.
Marly: Yeah. I just think, there’s so much value in that. And I mean, I, I dunno, it’s, I think it’s easy to, keep moving forward. Like, I can go practice tennis by myself, but I’m going to keep doing the wrong things over and over and over again, and just imprint that into my memory and it makes it even harder to learn new things.
That’s all I’m trying to say is I think the sooner that we can you do a course like this and really understand what our brand story is and really embrace that. And wow. The sooner you get a good start on taking your brand to another level, I just, I have really, I love it.
Laurie: Oh, amazing. That’s [00:42:00] such a good analogy, right? You’ll just keep doing the same thing until you find a way to think differently.
Marly: Right. Exactly. And we’re not just talking about the blog at this point, either because it does relate to social media and that’s like you said, I mean Facebook and Instagram, the story may be the same, but how we approach those is really different. I also just want to say though that I think it’s hard. I feel this strongly that, it is hard to put yourself out there. And so I think there’s a little bit of fear that we have, like, for example, on Instagram, putting, putting yourself out there and not feeling confident in what the story is that you’re saying. Whereas I think if you were confident in the story, it would be a little bit easier to put yourself out there.
I don’t know if I’m right, but I’m just throwing that out there.
Laurie: No, I think that makes perfect sense. It’s it’s hard to put yourself out there when you don’t know what you’re doing or what you’re talking about when you have no real sense of why am I here again? I don’t, I don’t think it would be possible. Right. What would you, you [00:43:00] know, sort of, how would you create content, in any important way, if you didn’t have those pieces?
And I think people get stuck in that rut of not really sure who I am talking to. I’m not really sure what to say and it’s, I hate to say. Think of it this way, but it’s almost like a waste of your time because you don’t have the direction you need to succeed. And I, you know, when we talk about the multi-platform part of this business, it’s so important, you really can’t just be on one platform.
You can’t just be an Instagram brand. For example, you have to better understand what are your opportunities across all of these things and how all these things are changing all the time, too. It’s a, it’s a big job. And I also sort of feel like it. It may be getting to the point where it’s the kind of job where people are like, wow, I actually really love the food photography, part of what I do.
And I’m going to step out of the cast of a basically creating this ginormous brand that calls me, you know, 24 hours a day. [00:44:00] And I’m going to focus on this part of the business that I have learned in these past many years, because I want to grow from here. And I see people making that choice and I’m so supportive of that. There’s so much talent and creativity that has come out of this business that I don’t think everybody should feel like they have to go on and make a website and build a team of 10 people and do all those things that I’m pretty sure are where we’re all going, but they can be amazing food stylists and prop, stylist, videographers, and photographers, and all those skills that are still very much needed in the world of content.
Marly: Yes, absolutely. And knowing what your strengths are and what brings you joy and, and spending more time there. I think it’s, I’m trying to think of Gay Hendricks. Has that book called what? I don’t, I don’t, I can’t think of any of the book, but basically he talks about the, your, your areas of strength, your areas.
Yes. You know what I’m talking about
Laurie: Yes, that very [00:45:00] concept. I’m very big on that. I there’s this quote that I’m always at work. I’m always like only do what only you can do. And I feel like I say that every day and I think for people to realize that could be true in so many ways. It can be true. If you run a giant company, your, your obligation is still to really focus on what, what do you do?
Well, let everybody else go do what they do well, but it also can be sort of a way to measure. You know the path of your career?
Marly: Oh, yeah, that’s beautiful. I oftentimes will tell people that sometimes I feel like I’m on, you know, like w when you were a kid and you would go to that really tall, diving board, and then you would scoot back to the, you know, all the way to the front of the board. And you would just stand there, like, I’m not going to jump.
Laurie: Or sit down.
Marly: That’s all right. We’re sitting down. Right. And you’re just like working up the nerve to finally make that jump. And I that’s, that’s the reason why I think I fell in love with your course so much is because I feel like, you know, when we’re standing there and we’re like, okay, I’m going to do this.
I’m going to do this. I’m going to do this. [00:46:00] And then you need it. It’s just like very helpful to have somebody hold your hand and say, you can do this. You got the, and
Laurie: so funny you say that you’re so sweet and it’s so funny that you realize that that’s kind of what this course is about because I, I, there is a video moment in there where I think I actually say that out loud. I think I say you are standing at the precipice of a really big decision. Let’s think about this and let’s talk about it.
And it’s kind of really looking at the course as you know, your roadmap and simultaneously realizing that personally.
Marly: Yes. You’re like the one saying there’s water down there and going to be fine when your jump.
Laurie: I do believe that I do believe that especially, you know, sort of the influencers who have grown up in this industry and who really do understand it, I’m sure much more than I do. I think they have it in them, to really kind of understand that, wow, this is moving ahead. and I better get [00:47:00] on the, you know, I better get on the, or I’m going to get.
Stuck here in this, you know, this place that is no longer as relevant as where we’re all going. I know they can do it.
Marly: I love that. I think it’s a great place to end today’s conversation. We’ve given a lot of people, a lot of things to think about, and I I’m, I’m really excited now. I love to ask these fun questions that I know we, we went through these last time, but you know, things changed since the last time you’ve been on the show.
Laurie: that was like eons ago. Right?
Marly: yeah, that’s right. What was it like two years maybe?
Laurie: I know in Instagram time it was eons ago.
Marly: That’s right. Exactly. I love to talk about food. I’m these are food bloggers. So I would love to hear what’s your favorite food?
Laurie: Oh, that’s so funny. Gabby and I were actually having this conversation the other day of all people. I ended up with grilled cheese, if you can believe that isn’t that crazy?
Marly: No, it’s great.
Laurie: Love a good grilled cheese.
Marly: Yeah. It’s just like a plane or how was your way that you, your favorite way to fix it?
Laurie: Oh, I do a bunch of crazy things. I guess it depends on the bread, the bread that’s in the [00:48:00] house. Luckily, my husband’s an amazing bread Baker, so it’s, it’s gotta be great bread. I do mix a cheese depending on what’s in the cheese drawer, which I’m also always kind of filling with things that are, you know, are new to me.
And then I use. This incredible French butter. That’s like extra salty. And then I do the low and slow technique and a cast iron skillet. You can tell I’m not particular at all.
Marly: I like that low and slow. That sounds very good.
Laurie: Oh yeah. So you get the really crispy crusty like, outside melty inside. See what I mean?
Marly: yeah, that may be, have to, we may have to do some kind of thing like that for dinner now you’ve got me craving
Laurie: I wonder what I said last time. What did I say last time?
Marly: You know what? I should have gotten the list and I don’t remember it. Wouldn’t be funny if you said grilled cheese.
Laurie: It really wouldn’t be, it wouldn’t be unexpected.
Marly: Okay. What’s the favorite app on your phone these days?
Laurie: Oh, wait. You know what? I really love the one that tells you what song you’re listening [00:49:00] to now.
Marly: What is that
Laurie: Shazam. Thank you. I’m the, I must be the last remaining Shizam user on the planet, but I’m always hearing music wherever I go and, and wanting to know what it is. So I used her Sam a lot too, but yeah, I’m on Instagram all the time too.
Marly: A lot of really good shows these days, they just throw in really good music.
I’ve never heard that.
Laurie: always making a playlist.
Marly: yes. Always with the playlist. Yes, of course. Okay. Any new TV or book favorites that you’re you’re indulging in these days?
Laurie: Oh, so many aren’t we all aren’t. We all I have, like on everything from my iPad to television, somewhat audible subscription, like all those things. I have all this different stuff that I do at any given point in time. I’ve been. Oh, okay. Maybe Shitz Creek. I don’t know why I’m thinking of this, but it’s I had this initial resistance to it and I started it and I put it away.
and somebody said, you should go back. You should try this [00:50:00] again because you need four or five ways into it. And kind of having that moment now where I’m shifting over to, Oh, this is actually kind of amazing.
Marly: See I’m with you. I kind of didn’t like it at first. So you think I should give it another try?
Laurie: I think so. I think it was good advice, but obviously it’s very light entertainment. I’m still a magazine reader of stacks and magazines. I read multiple books at the same time. There’s way too much to choose from there.
Marly: I know. What’s your favorite magazine then?
Laurie: Oh, my goodness. It’s actually In Style magazine. I’m so embarrassed. Kind of saying that out loud, but I’m, they’re doing such an, I’ve always had this interest in fashion and that kind of thing.
And I’ve always thought, Oh, my career should have been in, but not really. I’m so glad I’m in food, but I think they’re just kind of doing this amazing job of understanding what a magazine is now and how a magazine is multi-platform and simultaneously like. Kind of understanding how fashion is shifting in this crazy world, but just the same way food is.
So I’m sort of watching that happen. And I feel like there are very [00:51:00] few like style fashion magazines left that really feel relevant to me anymore, but they have an amazing editor and I think she just, she gets it almost the way an influencer gets it. So, you know, kudos to her. But I do look forward to that one every month.
Marly: Well, you know, I think that’s something to think about to find a magazine that you like and try to understand why you like it and how can I deliver these things to my blog.
Laurie: Yes, that’s definitely the old magazine editor in me is constantly looking at magazines that way. Obviously I read all the food magazines and kind of, you know, really kind of. Understand where, what are they doing and why are they doing this? What are some of these titles that are actually working? I don’t know if anybody’s seen sweet July, but really interesting new publication with Ayesha Curry, at the head.
And I was fascinated by the food content in there. So there’s lots of things like that. It’s again, this is kind of part of that curiosity that you really have to bring to the process of understanding your brand. And where you fit in. [00:52:00] you, you have to kind of take that curiosity out there into the world and be watching everywhere.
Marly: Yes, I love it. And so you, I think I heard you say audible is your favorite. That’s your favorite way to read books?
Laurie: It is. Yes, it, I know it’s that kind of thing where you’re so exhausted by the time you get into bed at 11 o’clock at night, at the end of a long Workday, it was, it’s kind of like, Oh, I would just fall asleep, but if I’m listening and I’m kind of walking, I don’t know about you, but doing a lot of dog-walking these days.
Definitely, definitely book reading while walking and podcasts listening.
Marly: Yeah. That’s exactly. Cause I think, you know, I think I need those times to get out and get away from that. So walking is great. Yes. I love it. Okay. So how can people find you online?
Laurie: They can find us. They could probably best to find me via Cook-It. I do have, my Instagram is Laurie Buckle but it’s kind of silly over there. but it’s, it’s basically Cook-It on Instagram and all the other platforms and it’s, Cook-Itmedia.com, [00:53:00] which should come right up. our website. On our website, there are forms that people can fill out things that ways of contacting us there that were right on the other end up and happy to talk to anybody.
You can also DM us on Instagram and we can get right back to you. We’d actually love to offer your listeners a discount on the course, if they’re interested and if they wanted to DM us on Instagram at Cook-It Media, happy to get back and give them that code.
Marly: Oh, I love that. I, I highly encourage everybody to do that. It’s a great course. And, and you also have other, other things that you do. So I encourage people to go to the site and see the services that you offer there. And so you have both
Laurie: Yes, and always happy to talk to people. I know we’re, we’re, we’re a bit of an outlier in the agency world in the way we do things and the priorities that we have in the way we sort of look to the future of what’s going on. Obviously we look at it from the influencers perspective and the brand’s perspective.
So [00:54:00] we’re always kind of balancing that and happy to really talk to. Anybody. Who’s just like, I often just get those emails, like also, what is it that you actually do? So always happy to have that chat too.
Marly: I love it. Lauri. I’ve had a really good time. So thank you for taking the time to talk with me today.
Laurie: Oh, Marly. I had so much fun. It was so nice to catch up.