Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom are the founders of foodbloggerpro.com and pinchofyum.com. In just under 5 years the couple managed to build their hobby – a food blog – into a $300,000+ per year (and growing) online membership site. Now Bjork and his wife are on a mission to continue developing their business and teach other bloggers how to turn their side hustle into a successful business. In this interview we talk with Bjork about their brands, their experiences as entrepreneurs and some tips for others on the same path.
You have a number of brands – Pinch of Yum, TinyBit, Food Blogger Pro, Clariti and a few others, what is the story behind those? Which one was the first?
The first brand we launched was Pinch of Yum. Lindsay (my better half and the author behind the majority of content on Pinch of Yum), started publishing recipes on a tumblr site in 2010 (we eventually moved over to WordPress). She spent countless hours refining her writing, photography, and recipe development. Over time, a few visitors a day turned into a few hundred, and a few hundred eventually turned into a few thousand. Today, Pinch of Yum gets millions of page views a month and has an incredible team that makes sure it continues to grow and thrive.
What process do you go through to select a brand name for your projects? When do you know it is The one?
It’s usually a few weeks to months of me just thinking through different names and variations and then checking to see if they’re available.
I like to think about concepts and themes and then pull from those. For instance, we landed on the name TinyBit after thinking through our core values. One of those core values is one percent infinity, which is all about getting a tiny bit better, every day, forever. Continual improvement!
You recently secured the domain name tinybit.com, what other domains do you have? How do you select a domain for your brands?
The majority of the domain names we have we put into use right away, as we acquire with the purpose of putting the domain name into use vs. holding it. I had contemplated starting a travel site for the state we live in (Minnesota), so I acquired visitminnesota.com, but haven’t done anything with it. In college I thought about starting a sports photography business and bought gameshutter.com, which I think I still have. Nothing that’s super valuable. Just domain names that I continue to hold onto with the thought that I might use them some day (don’t we all?).
You work with a lot of bloggers and entrepreneurs, what are the most common mistakes you see?
I think the most common mistake is a mindset mistake.
Most of us think we need to learn everything before we get started, but the truth is that the best way to learn is to get started.
Many entrepreneurs and influencers specifically rely on social media for connecting with their audience. With the recent outage of Facebook and Instagram in mind, what are your thoughts on how to build a strong independent brand?
There’s always an inherent risk in building on a certain platform. Whether it’s email, social, or a blog. At any point the thing you’re building on could be disrupted for some reason. I also think it’s important for folks to start by focusing on one platform and master that platform before splitting their focus on other areas. So, for a season, you’ll have a certain level of risk exposure as you build on a single platform. Over time, as bandwidth or budget allows, you should expand to other platforms to help diversify and spread out your risk.
Has the pandemic affected your business in any way? What has changed since?
Yes and no. We saw the most obvious change during March, April, and May of 2020, where traffic (for Pinch of Yum) and sales (for the software companies) went up, but advertising spend (for Pinch of Yum) was almost cut in half. Overall it ended up being similar (revenue wise) to 2019, as traffic almost doubled but ad revenue was cut in half.
What do you do to make sure your marketing is effective?
We’re actually trying to figure this out. We’ve always just produced the best content we could and hope that people find it through organic search and social. We’re at the point now where we’re starting to think more strategically about tracking our marketing and tying it to a specific dollar amount so we can understand the impact.
What would your advice be to entrepreneurs who are just starting out, in general, and when it comes to branding and naming?
I’d say start building your brand today and level up along the way. You might not have the budget to invest into branding and premium domains when you’re first getting started, but that doesn’t mean you can’t start. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. At the same time, don’t forget to level up along the way. Once you have the budget, money invested into branding communicates a level of professionalism. It’s not something you can concretely track, but I think we know it when we see it.
…start building your brand today and level up along the way. Once you have the budget, money invested into branding communicates a level of professionalism.
What are you working on currently and what is next for TinyBit?
We just acquired a content site called Curbly. We’ll be working to bring that into the TinyBit family, including migrating it to WordPress, updating the design, and building out a content team for it.
We hope the above information will help you in making informed decisions about your brand. If you want to say hi or have any questions about naming, branding, and domain names get in touch, we’re always happy to hear from you.