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Today we’re celebrating 50 episodes of the Chopped Podcast. My present to you is this: I’m sharing with you the Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging for creative entrepreneurs, what I’ve learned after 50+ interviews with some of the best! Read on!

Chopped Podcast Episode 50: The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging

Some people have asked why I started the Chopped Podcast. It’s a great question. Here’s my answer: I started the podcast initially as an extension of the conference. We all felt such a great energy of learning and sharing there and I wanted to continue that feeling throughout the year. The Chopped Brand is developing an identity – it’s about helping creative entrepreneurs with a passion for food — to learn their craft and to find a place of confidence in that.

Because here’s what I know. Being a creative entrepreneur is hard work. Our friends and family may not always get that. Right? They hear food blogger and they get that blank look on their face. You do what?

But here’s what I’ve learned after 50 episodes of this podcast: Being a creative entrepreneur is even harder work if you’re not aligned with your true calling.

The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging

I know that being a creative entrepreneur is not easy when you’re not aligned to your true calling, because I’ve operated from that position before. I’ve felt tossed this way and that, trying to understand the craft of food blogging.

  • Should I do roundups?
  • Should I do tall pins?
  • This person is posting 5 days a week, so should I do that?
  • Should I write long posts? Short posts?

To be honest, when I started this podcast, I thought there were a lot of secrets out there about blogging. Or maybe just a few secrets. And I hoped to uncover them so we could all better understand how this highly complicated thing called blogging works.

I have an MBA and so when I went to grad school there was a curriculum. After completing the coursework I had the diploma. And there’s an expectation of people with certain degrees. A student achieving an MBA will take foundational coursework in:

  • economics
  • accounting
  • management
  • negotiations
  • product development, etc.

I think sometimes I could envision a sort of MBA for creative bloggers. The foundational coursework for the Creative Entrepreneur MBA could include:

  • SEO
  • Marketing
  • Photography/Video
  • Branding
  • Social Media
  • Small Business Management
  • Technology
  • Networking (the people-to-people kind)
  • Negotiations
  • Team Building

Did I get it all? What would you add to the foundational course for creative bloggers?

Whatever those foundational courses would be, the idea would be that if you could master these areas then you would have a fighting chance at being successful as a creative blogger.

I think there is some truth to this concept. It’s good to immerse yourself in these foundational topics as a blogger. But beyond those foundational courses, my big take-aways based on the first 50 episodes of the Chopped Podcast is: beyond the foundational stuff, it’s simply a bunch of electives.

Because what I’ve learned is there’s not one path to success, there’s actually a whole lot of pathways toward being a successful entrepreneur.

Even how a blogger defines “success” can be so different. I talked about this before in my post on the Three Different Revenue Models for Food Bloggers. Here’s a synopsis.

The Page View Version of Success

For example, if your definition of “succes” is based on pageviews, then I’ve talked to people who only post one to two times per week and rely heavily on SEO and keyword planning to achieve over 300,000 page views per month. Others I’ve talked with achieve high page views by posting five to six days a week.

The Sponsored Post Version of Success

If you prefer sponsored posts, you may think you need high page views, but we’ve learned that may not always be the number one thing brands are looking for. But we know brands love great photos and engagement. Or they’re looking for video work. The important skills you need to develop include being highly professional in your correspondence. You’ll also want strong negotiation skills. And you’ll need to find ways to have confidence in what you bring to the table.

The Product Offering Version of Success

If you prefer creating your own products, you may not need high pagveiws, but you will want a committed audience on a focused topic. You’ll probably also want a strong email list. Listen in on my interview with Brooke Lark on ways to grow your email list. And, of course, you’ll want to develop a great product or products.

The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging is the topic on today's Chopped Podcast, episode 50!

The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging

There are so many amazing stories amongst the bloggers I’ve interviewed. And there may be some inside of you, some untapped passion wanting to come alive. And if you haven’t tapped into that passion, then you may even be wondering why you started your blog in the first place because blogging without a passion begins to feel an awful lot like a chore. That’s hard to maintain over  the long haul. Eventually you may fee like you want to quit You may even feel like a failure.

Blogging without a passion can feel an awful lot like a chore. — Marly McMillen, #choppedcon Click To Tweet

I’ve been there before. I’ve been back and forth with my blog over the years, sometimes taking on consulting projects which would cause my interest in my blog to wane at times. And then something happens and the passion reignites. The well is refilled.

This is sometimes how blogging works. There can be a bit of a back and forth dance like that. And it’s especially the case when it’s a hobby blog.

However, if you’re yearning for something more, you want to take your blog to the professional level. Then I want to tell you a secret we learned this year. After 50 episodes of this podcast, including interviews with some very successful bloggers from around the world, there is a secret sauce I’ve seen that comes through.

It’s passion. And not just any passion, it’s your passion.

To be truly successful we have to go inside ourselves to truly know what our passion is. Jay Pryor talks about Finding Joy in Episode 48. Jay is a life and executive coach and he works specifically with creative entrepreneurs. His advice? Everything you need is inside you, you just have to do the work to understand what that is.

Blogger, Know Thyself

There are many ways you can take to better understand yourself and your passions.

You can hire a life coach

Or maybe you prefer a therapist. I’ve met with therapists at different periods of time in my life and they can be very helpful and sometimes necessary.

There are plenty of others you can consider, but there are two specifically that I want to talk with you about today.


The first tool for really knowing yourself is meditation.

I know people talk about meditation as a way to relax and avoid stress. Some even refer to it as a way to help you be more productive. That’s great. But what I’ve been using meditation for lately is a way to peel back the layers and truly understand myself. To know who I am and what my true passions are.

If you’re unfamiliar with meditation, see the links below on some of my favorite resources.


Another tool I think is really important for better understanding myself is daily journaling. Most every morning I write two-to-three handwritten pages in a notebook. I buy cheep notebooks at the dollar store, but I do like to write with a nice pen. So I have a nice pen or two that I love to write with and I write and I sit down each morning and write. It sounds so peaceful, right?

Morning journaling is not about the zen of writing. It’s good to turn off the internal censor and not worry about writing “good”. It’s more about allowing your thoughts come out and onto the page. I may write about a problem I’m experiencing. I may complain the whole two to three pages. Or I may get creative and brainstorm around a certain topic. It doesn’t matter. It’s good not to censor it too much.

What I’ve found is that by journaling consistently over the years, I’ve become my own friend. I know myself so much better. Sometimes when I have a problem, I can go to my notebook and sort things out there. That can help me better understand what my next steps need to be. Oftentimes my next step is to talk to my husband, Shawn. He’s my rock. But I don’t understand the problem really well myself, then I’m just not in the right place to take any other steps.

I learned this technique for morning pages in Julia Cameron’s book, The Artist’s Way. She explains an entire process for tapping into your creativity. [see link below]

Whatever your process is, whether hiring a life coach like Jay, meditation, or following a book with a prescriptive creative process, looking at the launch and continued outreach of your blog as your desire for creative expression, is important. Maybe you love the creativity you find in the kitchen, or the photography, or the fun of writing whatever and however you want in your blog. It’s all great stuff! Finding a way to tap into and unleash your passion is key.

Underdeveloped Wisdom

Sometimes I feel like it’s easy to suffer from overdeveloped knowledge and underdeveloped wisdom these days.

Let me explain.

I’m listening to Sam Harris’s book called Waking Up [see link below]. It’s a book about spirituality and Sam calls wisdom knowing the right thing to do and then doing it.

He suggests that if a friend comes to us with a question on how to lose weight or how to live a better life or even how to do the dishes, we oftentimes have an answer to give that friend. We know what to do.

The question is, are we doing it ourselves.

Knowing the right thing to do and doing it, that’s wisdom.

And sometimes it feels so easy in today’s overdeveloped knowledge world to swim in that sea of “they know what they’re doing so I should spend time watching them. Or if they have a book then buy their audio book or watch their webinar or whatever.”

Now, if you’re seeing a course offered about something foundational and you really want to improve in those skills, such as SEO, then great. Take their course. Watch their webinar. Listen to their podcast. I love listening to podcasts like Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income that shares so many different approaches to being an online entrepreneur. It’s fascinating!

But for the passion part of the equation, that’s the stuff that’s inside of us. Only we can do that work.

Gain the knowledge you need for the foundational stuff, and then spend the time in meditation and journaling to know yourself creatively. And then apply your wisdom and do it.

So, that’s the end of today’s podcast. I have truly enjoyed taking this journey with you. And we have some amazing interviews coming right around the corner. I cannot wait to share them with you. And I’ll continue with this podcast as long as it’s a service to you and the important work you’re doing every day.

Show Notes: The Secret Sauce of Successful Blogging

This episode includes references to some resources you might find interesting. Here they are:


  1. Learn about future Chopped Podcast episodes by subscribing to the ChoppedCon newsletter. Just add your email in the subscribe section at the bottom of this page. You’ll be glad you did!

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Thanks so much for listening to today’s podcast. I hope you found it informative and helpful to the work you do every day. Make sure you don’t miss out on any of the Chopped Podcast episodes by heading on over to iTunes to subscribe to the Chopped Podcast. While you’re there, provide a review and rating is a great way to help other podcast listeners find it too! That’s it for today’s podcast. As always, thanks so much for joining in the discussion!