We’re Still Mediavine3 min read
Mediavine has been in business since 2004, and needless to say, a great deal has changed after almost two decades. We’ve gone from four founders running a publishing company to …
What happens when you take seven content creators, each wildly successful with their own sites, and unite them under one website with a very important mission?
The answer is the brand new site Black People’s Recipes.
On this episode of Mediavine On Air, Senior Director of Marketing Jenny guy is sitting down with two of the creators, Brandi Crawford of Stay Snatched and Tanya Harris of My Forking Life, to dish about what they’ve got cooking with their new venture.
We’ll hear how the seven women are blending their visions and backgrounds to empower one another and their readers, while building a new online destination for African, African-American and Caribbean cuisine.
Listen to the episode, watch the Teal Talk or read the transcript below!
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JENNY GUY: Hello. Welcome one and all to another Teal Talk Tuesday in almost March. I have to take a moment and ask an important question. Am I the only one that finds it incredibly rude every single time I’m reminded that we’re already almost in the third month of the year 2022? I can’t be the only one. I feel assaulted every time.
To be perfectly honest I was struggling like pre-COVID to accept that 2008 was not just a couple of years ago anymore. But with everything that happened in 2020 and 2021, like any hope that I had of knowing the date or not feeling just completely attacked by the date went out the window. So that’s where I am. So I hope I’m not alone.
Anyway, here we are on 2/22/22. It’s a palindrome day. I’m your host for Teal Talk, Jenny Guy, and I am so happy that we are all here together, whatever the year or date may be. Today I am joined by two powerhouse content creators who have done something incredibly brave and maybe just like a little bit crazy.
They have partnered up with five other extremely successful publishers and done an additional website. So Black People’s Recipes debuted at the end of January in 2022, and we cannot think of a better way to continue with our Black History Month content than to hear the story of how it all came to be.
So please join me in welcoming back to Teal Talk the wonderful Tanya Harris and for the first time Brandi Crawford. Hello, ladies. Welcome.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Hello.
TANYA HARRIS: Hey.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Thank you so much.
JENNY GUY: I’m going to read the very incredibly impressive bios for each of them. So Brandi Crawford is the recipe developer and food photographer behind Stay Snatched, where she shares quick and easy healthy recipes that do not compromise on taste. Very important.
She’s a CPA with a background in corporate finance and financial planning. So her love is real for numbers, data sets, and Excel spreadsheets. She is also the author of the Super Easy Air Fryer Cookbook and has been featured on Good Morning America, Women’s Health Magazine, Shape Magazine, Parade Magazine, Essence Magazine, Country Living Magazine, Southern Living Magazine, BuzzFeed, Delish, the Kansas City Star, Kansas City Spaces, Greatest, and more. Brandi, welcome for the first time to Teal Talk.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Thanks, Jenny. So happy to be here.
JENNY GUY: So happy to have you. And now for another incredibly impressive person. Tanya Harris Fleming is a mom, wife, attorney, recipe groupie, photographer, and traffic whisperer who took a love of pressure cooker and air fryer recipes and turned them into a full time income on her part-time blog, My Forking Life, which she began in 2016.
Devoting between 5 to 15 hours a week to her site, she reached up to 500,000 page views a month and she now averages over a million page views a month. She reached the Mediavine threshold in April 2018 and was able to quit her job as an attorney in 2019 to blog full-time and spend more time with her family. Tanya, welcome back.
TANYA HARRIS: Hey, Jenny. Thanks. I’m glad to be back.
JENNY GUY: All right. So we are very excited to have everyone. As my wonderful team has said in the comments, if anyone has any questions about the topics or for Brandi or Tanya, please drop those into the comments and I will talk with them about them. But in the meantime, I want to start out like we typically do on Teal Talk, which is by going beyond the bio.
Both of you are incredibly successful content creators in your own right. So please give us a little insight to your own journey in the blogging industry and what made you seek out this career. And we heard a little bit from Tanya. So let’s hear a little bit more with My Forking Life. You are an attorney?
TANYA HARRIS: That’s correct. Yeah. So I’m an attorney and I’ve been practicing since 2009, and I started my blog as a hobby when I just started to really learn to cook and I wanted to share those experiences. And one of my main motivations was when I was looking at recipes or looking at other bloggers at that time, I didn’t see that many that looked like me or had the kind of cuisine that I kind of grew up eating.
So that kind of motivated me to want to build my site to be bigger and stronger so that it could actually reach more. And then in the process I started to meet more bloggers and did come across a lot of bloggers that did look like me, like Brandi and some of the women that I’ve connected with. So that’s been kind of one of the main motivations for my site and building it so that I could, of course, be also represent myself in the space as well.
JENNY GUY: I love that so many of our publishers and content creators who have successful careers in other places find that there’s a vacancy in the content creation space. And so they just fill it by making their own thing. I think that’s so inspirational and wonderful to hear about.
Brandi, same question to you. How did you get started with Stay Snatched?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: I started in 2016. And so I grew up cooking and in the kitchen and things like that. But I was at a point in my life a couple of years prior to starting my blog, but I wanted to make all of my family favorite recipes healthier. And so I sought out like healthy eating blogs. At the time, Instagram was very meal prep of chicken breast, brown rice and some carrots, or something like that. And I’m like, nope, I’m going to need some flavor. So I started creating my own healthy recipes that were well seasoned, have a lot of flavor, and I was just sharing them kind of with family and friends.
And I wanted to start saving the recipes, so I started a blog. Had no idea that it could take off until I started listening to podcasts. And so I started in November 2016. Within six months I qualified for Mediavine, and two years later in 2018 on the same anniversary date of starting my site, I quit my job as a CPA. And so here I am now.
JENNY GUY: And never looked back. I love both of you totally successful in a professional capacity, CPA and an attorney.
Actually I’m going to go off script and ask a question. I hope you don’t mind. That’s what I do. Tanya knows. How have you taken those skills from CPA and attorney and brought them into your career as content creator? I’m going to start with Brandi on that one.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: So for me because I love spreadsheets and analyzing data. I did a lot of financial planning and analysis. I’ve translated that right to my business. And so I do forecasting models in terms of revenue and expenses and things like that on an annual basis, and then on a monthly basis too.
And I’m my own CPA. So when it comes to doing my taxes and bookkeeping and stuff like that, I can do it myself. And so it’s really just enabled me to step out of the creator and artistic element of what I do and really focus on the business, which I think has helped my growth and success tremendously.
JENNY GUY: It’s amazing that you have both sides. And it had to make it less scary, less intimidating because I know that we hear that a lot when– like a lot of our publishers, their goal is to step out of their full-time day job, but there’s a lot of fear there and also no safety net, no insurance, no 401(k), all of those things that you have all that experience.
And Betsy just said actually in the comment, sounds like Brandi could start a side hustle doing a CPA stuff for bloggers because it’s in need.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: I thought about it, then I was like nah, that’s too much time. But that’s interesting that you mention the safety net thing because I thought that I would never leave. Even after I qualified for Mediavine and my blog was taking off, I had a fairly successful career in doing what I was doing. And so I was like, there’s no way this blog will ever make more money than what I’m making now, especially taking into account the benefits and 401(k) and things like that.
And so when I saw that I was approaching that horizon, I put together a spreadsheet. And so I did kind of some analysis of what I would need to make from my blog, including real health insurance costs because I was only paying $25 a month for health care. I would dream to pay that.
And so I was like, how much is it really going to cost when I step out on my own for health care? How much is it going to cost for me to actually fund my retirement on my own? And so once I ran the numbers and I also paid off my debt, then I felt completely fine kind of taking that job.
JENNY GUY: I love to hear that. And maybe even if you didn’t want to offer like the CPA coaching, maybe even an e-book or a course and how– I’m just saying.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Call Black people’s recipes.
JENNY GUY: Maybe you have another side hustle going yet. Tanya, same question to you. How do you bring those attorney skills into your air fryer skills?
TANYA HARRIS: Well, I do not have the skills of spreadsheets, but I was a criminal defense attorney. That was the only law I practiced, and as a criminal defense attorney I had to learn how to take complex legal issues and facts and break them down and explain it in a way to clients, judges, whoever in a really easy way. So when that translates to recipes and recipe development, that’s kind of where I went with my blog.
So things that may seem complicated to certain people I would create the recipe, but then I would be very detailed when it came to that. That was one of the skills I had as an attorney and I do it on my site. That’s why if you come to my site, you’ll see a lot of step by step photos where I explain all of this stuff. So that was one of the main skills I took.
The other is that I had to speak to strangers in front of people every single day, and I had to think on the cove. So that’s kind of helped me when it comes to being on video. So I was one of the people early on that embraced video content.
And then people like, well, how do you do that? And I’m like because I used to have to do this in front of judges in very scary situations. So filming like a YouTube video in my home kitchen is not that hard for me. So those are I would say the most important skills from being an attorney that I’ve translated over to the blog.
JENNY GUY: I love that. And I’m thinking that hopefully, maybe a audience or a reader who’s saying that your recipe, their recipe didn’t work out is not as scary as a judge made your case. But maybe I don’t know. I’ve read some of the comments that you guys get and I just– I love– I bought my air fryer earlier this year, and I was on your site constantly, watching all the videos, to make sure I was buying all the things that you were recommending. So you help a lot of people, help–
TANYA HARRIS: Oh, well thank you.
JENNY GUY: –a lot of people. OK, so speaking and seguing into what Brandi was bringing up, we know everyone on this live and in the comments knows that being a small digital business owner is a more than full-time job. 24 hours in a day is not enough to learn all the things that are classified as need to know for you guys. That’s not even close.
With all that being said, you both decided to take on another full-time job and start an additional website, Black People’s Recipes. So will you tell us more about that decision? What was the inspiration for the new site? I’m going to start with Tanya on that one.
TANYA HARRIS: Well, we actually, we had been meeting with each other. And I think a lot of us wanted to start second sites already. And it just made sense for us to actually join forces and start one together. That way, we would each be able to contribute, and it wouldn’t be as time-consuming as taking on a site on our own.
And we just had this common purpose and goal that we wanted. And so it just made it easy for us to join together and decide to create the site. And it’s been going very, very well.
JENNY GUY: Tell us, before I move on to Brandi, what was the common purpose and goal?
TANYA HARRIS: Oh, OK, so one of the things that– I mean, it’s one of the purposes of why I even started blogging as well. A lot of cultural recipes, the way that we grew up eating and that we were familiar with, they were out there, but they weren’t pretty much– I want to say– I hate saying the word authentic, but they weren’t really true to the culture of the way the foods were. And so we would talk about these things, especially me, as I was born in the US, but my dad is from Africa, and my mom is Jamaican.
So I grew up eating certain Caribbean dishes. And then I would go to Google, and I would look, and they would be completely modified from the version that I had growing up. So I just felt like it was important to make sure that I was presenting these dishes, especially the way that my Jamaican mother made it and how I remembered eating it and preparing it.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, I love that. I also have to say, we’re going to share a resource doc at the end, everybody, with links to everybody’s sites, all the founders, and Black People’s Recipe, so you can look at them. But I have yet to click on your site, and the content is going up fast.
But every time I go there, mouth starts watering instantly the second I get there. There are so many things I want to jump in and try. But Brandi, same question to you, what is the method behind the madness?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think so actually, two years ago– I feel like this month or maybe last month, Tanya– we collectively, all of the founders of the group, were just seeking a resource for each other, of like-minded women, where we could just talk about things like these recipes and then just talk about being a Black content creator in this space and being a Black food create– food blogger in this space. And so we were going to meet monthly.
But then the pandemic happened, and everyone needed more closeness. I think everyone in the world just needed a little bit more friendship. It turned into a group of just like-minded business women getting together to talk business to friendship, that also has a business element to it. And so just in natural conversation, this opportunity just came up. And we honed in on it very quickly and were able to turn it into what we have now.
And so what I’m just thankful for is when you bring together seven women who’ve been successful in their own right, you have seven different sets of ideas, seven people who have experience starting something from the ground up, and seven women who made mistakes, who know, oh, we’re not going to do that again, or we know what works really well. We are going to do a lot of that. We’re going to go ham on that type thing.
And so that part of it is just invaluable. And I’ll just echo everything Tanya said about the recipes. We want true– and I am going to probably use the word authentic– authentic Black cultural recipes that my Granny was making, that my Granny showed me how to make, that I can share with the world.
JENNY GUY: I love, I love all of what you said. And I love hearing the way that you have seven different expertise, ideas, inspirations, and that you’re able to make all of those sing in harmony. And we’re going to talk more about that in just a second.
But I wanted to ask. I’d love to hear a little more about how you guys found each other, in the first place. Was it a conference? Was it searching each other online and asking specific questions in Facebook groups? Brandi, I’ll start with you on that one.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: When you are Black in the space, it’s not hard to notice each other, especially when you’re Black and doing well. And so I think most of us were already following each other on Instagram. And we literally just were sliding in the DMs– like, hey, we’re looking to connect, maybe form some type of group where we can just bounce ideas off of each other type thing.
And it literally just happen that way. And then it turned into us just meeting. We’ve actually taken trips. Some of us have gone to Mexico City over the summer, so just really nice bonding experience.
JENNY GUY: Oh, I love that. Any additional to add to that, Tanya? Anything that you have noticed? Sliding in the DMs– I love this.
TANYA HARRIS: Exactly how she said it, we’re sliding into DMs, like, hey, girl, hey.
JENNY GUY: That’s terrific. OK. While we have the privilege of talking with you two, two of the founders of Black People’s Recipes today, there are five more wonderful Black content creators that aren’t with us on the episode. So will you tell us a little more about each of them? Tanya, will you start? Tell us about the people who aren’t with us today. Hopefully, they’re watching.
TANYA HARRIS: OK, I’m going to get them all to. We’ve got Jocelyn of Grandbaby Cakes. And she’s been blogging for a good while. She does a lot of Southern generational recipes.
We’ve got Shannon of Fit Slow Queen. And she does a lot of Whole30 recipes. And she does, also, a lot of gadget recipes stuff in instant pot slow cookers, air fryers as well. We’ve got Jessica of Jessica’s in the Kit– Jessica’s Kitchen– sorry. And she does vegan recipes. And she’s Jamaican as well. So I love seeing her recipes.
We’ve got Davinah of Dr. Davinah’s Cooks. And she does a lot of comfort food that fits the low carb way of eating. And we have Imma of Immaculate Bites, who’s also been blogging for a good while. And she does a lot of Southern Caribbean, as well as African cuisine. I think I covered everybody.
JENNY GUY: That is a killer lineup, a killer lineup. Brandi, are each of these creators bringing their own take on their recipes to it, and so you have some that are vegan, some that are gadget, some that are low carb? Is that how you guys are going about it?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Absolutely. And so I love that we all have a different level of expertise to bring to the table, being able to create vegan versions of recipes that are historic and authentic and true to our roots, but just using different ingredients, low carb versions that can still be considered comfort food, but maybe just don’t have the sugar or the all-purpose flour, and stuff like that. And then it’s just amazing.
We can do gadget recipes. We can have it ready for you in 15 or 20 minutes instead of two or three hours, in the kitchen all day. And so you’ll see a wide mix of everything on the site. And that’s another thing that I love, and I think that sets us apart.
JENNY GUY: I would say that yeah, what I love that I’ve seen the most so far is a lot of the recipes that I see are with the Southern, and things like that. They are all-day recipes, or they are all-month recipes. You’re making three different things that you’re keeping, and you’re storing, and then you’re putting it all together.
So that makes it to where there’s special occasion meals where you have to have. But I love that you guys are taking that and making it to where it doesn’t have to be a four-day cooking affair or a gut buster that you only feel like you’re going to want to eat once a year at Christmas. You can have these flavors and these flavor profiles all year round. I love that.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Mm-hm, exactly.
JENNY GUY: OK. One of the most comm– and you’ve already said this actually, Brandi, one of the most common refrains we hear around amongst the blogging community and the Mediavine staff is, oh, I wish I knew, when I started my website, is x, y, and z. Gosh, I wish I knew more about SEO when I started my website.
So for all of the creators of Black People’s Recipes, as you brought up, this is your second go round, at minimum. So what were your priorities, starting out? Are there any must dos or must haves in terms of setups or programs? I’m going to start out with Tanya on that one.
TANYA HARRIS: I would say I think, especially– and I think we started out this, having a particular goal or purpose, like, what is your reason why you’re doing this? Because of course, part of it may be monetary, but I think you still need another goal, whether it’s to preserve and share authentic recipes, whether it’s to show successful Black women in the space running a business together. You just need some kind of purpose as to why you’re even starting this website.
I think, when I started My Forking Life, it was like, oh, this is just for fun. But I didn’t even know like– completely hone down what my goal and overall purpose for the site was. I know now. But the first day I started, I had no clue. I was just doing stuff. And so I think that’s one of the things you want to make sure you know when you’re starting out.
JENNY GUY: I would imagine it’s also probably– oh, sorry, Brandi– I would imagine it’s also probably something that is helpful, when you have seven different voices coming together, that you have to be extremely clear about what it is that you’re trying to do, otherwise all over the map. Because all of you guys are all over the map with your– so Brandi, same question to you, were there any musts that you felt like you guys needed to start out with?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: I would say, I wanted us to focus on owning one platform. We’re not trying to be everywhere at the same time. So I’d say, when I started my site, I was like, oh my god, I’ve got to take over Instagram. I’m going to take over Facebook. I’m going to take over Pinterest. Ooh, I’m going to do some YouTube videos, too.
So I was like, I’m going to be in all of these places. And within three weeks, I was like, I’m not doing that. I’m going to focus on my site, And I’m going to post to Instagram. And once I got really good momentum with my site, I really honed in on Instagram.
And then when I was doing really well on Instagram, then I focused on Facebook, and things like that. And so just understanding that you don’t have to be everywhere at the same time, because championing one platform takes so much effort, so much time– and so just making sure that we’re focusing on the right things and at the right time and not feeling the pressure or FOMO of being everywhere. Because you can’t.
JENNY GUY: That FOMO is so real, too. Every time you see somebody post, I got 500,000 page views from x, y, and z, and you’re like, I have to do it. I have to do it now. I know I don’t know anything about it, but I’m going to go buy a camera, a new video camera. I need to have lighting.
It’s so hard not to run around in that way. So I appreciate that you guys– so where are you focusing? I actually saw somebody in the comments say, TikTok. Yeah?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Maybe individually, I think we’re trying to work on our sites for TikTok. But I would say, in terms of social media, probably Pinterest and Instagram. But the site is the main goal, actually having good content.
Because that’s another point, another thing that we’re working on, too, is just having– and Tanya spoke to this, too– really good recipes. And so a goal is, to someone who’s never cooked anything before, can they read your recipe, read your tips, your blog posts, and make that recipe successfully without even having to ask you a question? Can they just go through everything, because it’s so well-written, so well-outlined?
And so to me, that’s a focus. A good content is something I feel like that’s like a broken record thing, is, oh my god, you have to have good content. But for a recipe creator, good content-wise in the recipe– like, how well is it written? Are your instructions clear? Are they easy to follow? Even for complex traditional soul food and Southern recipes, you can write that recipe so that someone with no experience can still make it, even if it’s complex.
JENNY GUY: And that all, yeah, that’s one of our biggest SEO tips that we ever give, is have good content, write good content, and like you said, answering those questions, that you know readers are going to have, preemptively. So that when we’re talking about, I can’t write more than the recipe, well, when you’re answering all those questions in advance, when you’re anticipating them, you can. Because they’re all there. It’s all written right into it. I have to do a little plug. Because I’ve noticed that your site is built on a Mediavine product. It is on Trellis?
TANYA HARRIS: It is on Trellis.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: It sure is. I emailed. I was so quickly, was that, we’re going to need Trellis. We’re starting Black People’s Recipes. We’re going to need Trellis. So that was one of the first to-do items on our watch list. So yes, it is on Trellis.
JENNY GUY: And it’s going well– I mean, it looks good. It looks great to me. I love it. So you guys are happy with the end? So it’s going well for you and working for your purposes?
TANYA HARRIS: Absolutely, yeah. We both have Trellis.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: We both have Trellis, yeah.
TANYA HARRIS: So it was no brain. Trellis is– we love it.
JENNY GUY: All Trellis all the time– I love to hear it. The nice thing about Trellis, from my perspective, is that don’t have to worry about things like the Core Web Vitals, and all that. It’s done– because again, with all of the different things grabbing your attention.
OK, so one of the primary goals you guys mentioned, you set out for your mission. And that’s your core, what you’re going for. But one of the goals is also monetization with that. So how are you handling that with Black People’s Recipes? Are you looking for sponsored content, wanting to work with specific brands? Are you doing ads? What about affiliate? And I’ll direct that to Tanya.
I’m sorry. I promised I would do it and then I didn’t do it. I said I would direct things so they weren’t both trying to answer at the same time. I fell down on the job.
TANYA HARRIS: Definitely, our main, I think, priority is through ads. Ads is one of those. Although it’s not necessarily completely passive, it’s one of the more passively forms of income. And so that’s our main one, affiliates as well.
And then, of course sponsorship work, we’re new. So it’s not like we’ve got sponsors knocking– well, we do have a few already reaching out, actually. But our main priority for now is ads. And then in the future, who knows? But I feel like there’s so many ways to monetize a website and a brand, that just the possibilities are endless. But right now, it’s mostly ad income.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, I just started out with a few basics, to begin with. You’ve got products. You’ve got courses. You’ve got all the things. Anything to add to that about monetization, Brandi?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: I don’t think so. Tanya covered it all.
JENNY GUY: All right, fantastic. All right, since we’re talking about monetization and in honor of Black History Month– we talked about this a little before we came on. But I wanted to bring up that advertisers are earmarking ad spend, ad dollars, specifically for Black and Brown content creators. Tanya, you specifically spoke about this for a couple of media minds, ad partners, TripleLift and GroupM, in June of 2021, and this, where you were talking about their Underrepresented Voices initiative.
And what you said, then, was, as a Black woman business owner, I have firsthand experience as to why initiatives such as this one are so important. I started my blog five years ago, and I noticed a lack of diversity in the blogging industry. That’s starting to change, but much more could be done to level the playing fields. Underrepresented Voices is a huge step in the right direction, and I’m thankful that TripleLift and GroupM started this initiative.
I would love to hear more from both of you on your thoughts on the importance of initiatives like this one, where we’re talking about specific ad dollars that are earmarked for Black content creators, Brown content creators, API content creators, women, LGBTQIA, and I would love to hear about your feelings on that, and as well as how you feel about the self-identifying. Because in the Mediavine world, that’s the only way to know. That’s the only way we can attribute, is if you self-identify. I’m going to start with you, Brandi.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: And so with the self-identifying, you’re meaning in the Mediavine dashboard, you can check a box–
JENNY GUY: Correct.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: –if you’re a Black creator. OK.
JENNY GUY: Thank you for checking your box. Yes.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: My box is checked, because just in general, I’m Black. I’m proud of being Black. I live an authentically Black life. If you follow me on social media, you’re probably reminded of that unintentionally every single day.
And so for me, initiatives like this are important because I feel like we’re asked all of the time, how can we pass the mic to Black creators, Black business owners, Black entrepreneurs? How can we share this space and be inclusive? And just to be frank, putting money behind us and other creators is one way to do that. And so initiatives like this can help propel people that look like me to follow their dreams and to actually be able to share their talent and to get paid for it, as they should.
JENNY GUY: As they 1,000% should. Pay content creators. Tanya, same to you.
TANYA HARRIS: Yeah, and I guess to follow up, echo what I said earlier, as well, and as Brandi said, money talks. And so right now, the playing fields isn’t equal. And that’s not just in the food blog industry, that’s a lot of industries.
As an attorney, there’s less than 2% Black women that are attorneys. So you can imagine how it is in the blogging community. So initiatives like these are important, if we want anything to change.
And as far as identifying, I love the fact– I know initially, when I started blogging, I think before, it was just a logo. No one knew I was behind the site. But then I realized the importance of showing who I am. Because if you see me down the street, I am a Black woman. And that affects every little aspect of my life, when I walk down the street, how I feel going into the space, how I felt being a food blogger in the space.
So I think it’s important, because I do think people need to see that it is a Black woman that’s running the site and how I work hard to make sure that it is successful. So that others can also be inspired and know that they can do the same as well. Because if you don’t see us doing it, then you’re going to think, well, there’s no one like me doing this. I can’t do it. So I think it’s important to actually show who you are, check the box. And that way, of course, you can get the money to help further their mission as well.
JENNY GUY: Absolutely. That was incredibly poignant. And I can’t imagine how hard it must to feel like you’re breaking into an industry and to struggle where there aren’t people that you feel like that’s represented, and you’re paving the way. And you’re making the road easier for everybody who follows behind you. And that’s incredibly, incredibly inspirational and important. So thank you for doing that.
Let’s talk workflow for a bit. I’m going to pivot from the emotional topic. Because I think we’d all agree, it is a journey to establish a workflow for yourself, especially when you’re the one-woman band, that so many content creators are, how to devote the right amount and what even is the right amount of time and attention to all of the myriad important things, without getting bogged down.
And as we talked about before, without the FOMO, your attention is constantly getting pulled from thing to thing to thing to thing to thing. As a result, content creators have to be, a lot of times, a one-woman or one-man army. You have to be in order to achieve success. So how does that translate now with seven independent people and workflows coming together on one site? Brandi, I’ll start with you there.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: One thing that works well for us is that we meet regularly. So we have meetings regularly, where we can discuss, what are our hot button things that need to be done this week, next month, and that kind of thing? We also have an editorial calendar, so we all know what we’re working on for the next few months.
And we just tapped into each other’s zones of genius. And so we’ve just delegated roles and responsibilities, as it pertains to the site, based on who’s good at what and divvied it out that way. And so it’s been awesome. It just been awesome having other people to help with all of the tasks and not having to do it on your own, as clearly, we both did with our site initially. And then things that we don’t necessarily need our individual zones of genius for, that we can farm out, we have help for that, too.
JENNY GUY: I think that the best part of zones of genius and working on a team is that it’s something that you feel is so easy and natural, that you don’t even think that it’s– don’t think about it as a skill. Because you’re so natural at it. But other people are struggling.
Just hearing you talk about spreadsheets and coming up with budgets, and everything, makes me go, oh my god, I’m so glad that that’s your zone.
It’s definitely not mine. So I love hearing that. Same question to you– and I also wanted to ask, to drill down a little bit further, is there a specific editorial calendar that you’re working through? How do you guys do that? Because that’s something we are always struggling around here to– all publishers I hear.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Literally, just a basic spreadsheet with a month and all of our names on it.
JENNY GUY: Got it.
TANYA HARRIS: That’s Brandi’s zone of genius. She creates the spreadsheets. And I know how to enter stuff in a spreadsheet, so that’s what I do.
JENNY GUY: Yes. But don’t ask me to add it all up, because that’s not– it’s tough. Highlight it anyway. OK, same question to you, Tanya, how have you found making the workflow work for you guys?
TANYA HARRIS: I think it works, since that we all have established blogs. And the majority of us, our blogs, we have our own content calendars that we do. We do our own SEO research, so that, that way, you can feel strong that everyone’s bringing the same, I guess, quality of content and quality of ideas that belong on the blog.
And as Brandi said, we meet weekly. So we are able to discuss the kind of content that we’re going for the next month or the next few months, and then the topics that are going to get covered. And then if we’ve got other things that are outside of our zones of genius, we talk about who we’re going to hire to help us with that, as well.
Because I mean, that’s what successful businesses do. If they need to delegate, they delegate. And so I think it’s good that we’ve all had our blogs enough and have grown them significantly enough, that we just– or we know what to do. And we are able to work together.
JENNY GUY: I love hearing all of that. I love the weekly meetings. Communication is definitely key. I’m going to put that down as one of the things. We also have people that are now posting in the comments that, “Now it makes me wonder why not everyone is doing a group blog, designating tasks according to strengths.” So you might spur– we may have a rash of group sites happening after this.
I wanted to ask, for SEO purposes, if you guys had a tool that you specifically like, or tools. And how much new content were you working to put out when you launched? And how often are you posting? Brandi, I’ll ask you.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Some of us use Semrush. Some of us use Ahrefs. So I don’t think that there’s just one tool that we use. In terms of the content we wanted to start with, we wanted enough to where people who came to the site, there could be a good mix of different types of recipes, appetizers. I think we had a drink. We had a couple of desserts and things like that. And we’re doing that same style for the rest of the year. So we’re basically just making sure that we have very well-rounded categories, and we’re covering everything.
JENNY GUY: Love it. And so you establish your category as establish the site navigation, based on the type of experience you wanted your readers to have when they arrived. And then you’re just filling the categories accordingly. I love hearing that. OK. And Semrush, we’re Semrush fans around here at Mediavine, too. We use that one, Google Search Console as well.
As I talked about the workflow– I didn’t put this on the sheet either, on the pre-questionnaire– but I wanted to ask, what is it like getting seven founders together? And is it something to where, as each of you are independent and successful in your own right, are there contracts? Is there mission? How do you work on that together? Because that could be a challenging thing to navigate. And I’ll ask Tanya about that one, as our lawyer.
TANYA HARRIS: I had to put a disclaimer on that’ You’re a lawyer, but–
JENNY GUY: Oh, this is not our lawyer. Oh my goodness, no.
TANYA HARRIS: This is not legal advice.
JENNY GUY: No, this is not. Thank you. No. And the only thing that’s left now is to say, it depends, is your answer. Because that’s my favorite answer to everything.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Oh yeah, I like that one. I like that.
JENNY GUY: It depends. It depends.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: It depends.
TANYA HARRIS: Yeah, like any business, we have our general contracts and agreements that we have. And that wasn’t hard to come about. I think another thing, outside of the legal part of it, I think another thing, that Brandi mentioned, is that we’re not just people that like, hey, you’re successful, let’s work together. We are actually friends. We speak weekly.
So it’s one of those things where we knew that it wouldn’t be an issue. And then if we have any disagreements, we have, I guess, bylaws that tell us how to handle those as well. There are seven of us, so there’s never going to be a tie if we ever have to have a vote. It works out that way as well.
So we did cover those. But I think one of the biggest things that makes it work is that we both know– we know that we all work hard. We all are going to meet our deadlines. And speaking with us over two years– Brandi and I have known each other longer than that– we just know that we’re not going to just blow the other off. We’re actually going to work hard to make sure that the site is a success. So I think that’s the main thing that has helped us be successful in this site so far.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think it’d be a lot different if it was just one person going up to six people, like, hey, let’s start a blog. Like, no.
TANYA HARRIS: Yeah.
JENNY GUY: It was an organic idea, right? You guys were together as a sort of mastermind. Then you became friends. Then it built into a business idea. But I loved hearing about bylaws. Yes. Yes, lawyer talk. It’s there. You hope you don’t need it. You probably won’t. But it’s there just in case. That is very, very exciting.
OK. I also wanted to talk about one of the recurring themes that we’ve had around here for Black History Month. We’ve had some incredible speakers. We’ve talked to Black teammates that we have at Mediavine, Black content creators that we work with for full-service ad management.
And one of the recurring themes has definitely been a scarcity versus abundance mindset and how important– how a lot of what we see reflected in the instances of hate and the instances, come down to fear of having whatever it is that you perceive as yours taken away from you. And I would love to hear how that scarcity, versus abundance clearly manifests in having seven people, who are all successful on their own, come together. And I’ll ask you, Brandi. I’m not sure that what the exact question is there, but I just– more of a general talk about scarcity versus abundance.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Well, when I hear of scarcity mindset, I know, just in terms of– we were just talking about keyword volume. And when we think about ranking on Google and things like that, a lot of people want to hold on to their rankings, and stuff like that. And with an opportunity like this, it could present itself to be competitive, even amongst each other.
But at the end of the day, we all want each other to win. So if Tanya’s recipe is beating out mine, cool. Another Black woman is at least getting that keyword in that recipe. And so if I win, she wins.
And one of the Mediavine quotes is, what is it? The rising tide lifts all boats, and things like that. And so I love that reference, because I feel like if someone else in this space is winning, then I’m winning, too. And so there’s never any scarcity. There’s always enough room, and there’s always a seat for me at the table. That’s just how I feel and think.
JENNY GUY: Yes. And also, hearing that there aren’t just five people searching for the chocolate chip recipe. There are enough people who want some chocolate chip cookies, that it’s OK that her– yes, yes.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: And there are going to be some people who want my chocolate chip recipe, because there’s something that I can make that will distinguish it as mine to be different.
JENNY GUY: Yes, your chocolate chip recipe is yours. And it’s people who want your– yes, yes. I’m going to leave that where it is. Tanya, same question to you– scarcity, versus abundance, and how that’s manifesting here.
TANYA HARRIS: Yeah, I agree with Brandi. And I think, for me personally, I think scarcity was just inbred in my mind. When I was growing up, I would always be fearful that– we would budget everything, because the idea was you only would get a certain amount.
And then when I got older, I realized there is an abundance of people in the world looking for recipes. And like Brandi said, when one of us wins, we all win. It’s just it’s super excited.
So I’m even one of those people like, I don’t have every single recipe out there. And I don’t want to make every single recipe out there. So if people say, hey, do you have a recipe for this? I’m not going to go and create that. I’m going to share another blogger’s recipes, especially one that I trust.
So that happens to me a lot. People will come and say, do you have this? And I’ll be like, no, but Brandi has one. Here you go. Try this out. And that doesn’t hurt me, because there’s 50 other people that want to get another recipe on my site.
And I do believe, honestly, when you have that mindset, abundancy comes. But I do think that’s something that you have to teach yourself. Because a lot of times, we’ve– not everyone, but some people have been raised to just feel that if I don’t win, then there’s no more out there. And I feel like you just have to have the proper mindset of abundance and like she said, the tides and the boats and the–
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think I butchered it. I knew what I meant. I knew what I meant.
JENNY GUY: That’s right. That’s what I’d say. And it’s one of those sayings right? Rising tides raise all ships.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yes.
JENNY GUY: Because I–
TANYA HARRIS: Yeah, that one.
JENNY GUY: –butchered it so many times on different things. And you don’t even realize it until you’re midway into it. You’re like, rising.
TANYA HARRIS: I’m going to say the the ship quote, the quote about the ship, that one, that one.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: That one.
JENNY GUY: Exactly.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yeah, that one.
JENNY GUY: And this– we’re all going to be higher, is really what I’m saying, with water. We actually had a speaker who is the senior vice president of brand strategy and marketing at BET. His name is Tiyale Hayes. We had him last week, and he was magical.
But his analogy that he talked about with the scarcity, versus abundance mindset, was the idea that you’re a parent, and you have one child, and whether that– a niece, or whatever. But if there’s a scarcity mindset, you won’t have love for the second child. Like, it’s just the first child, like, I’m done. I’m out. My love is gone.
But the idea that somehow, that incredible amount of love that you have multiplies by two or by three or by five– and that’s how it happens. It’s like somebody said. The universe is infinite. It’s not pie. That is the truth. Unfortunately, a pie is good.
I love that. OK, we actually had a Search Console question from Jenny Field. She said, “Do all of you guys have access to your new blog Search Console, or do you have a designated person who is your Search Console genius? Brandi?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: We all have access to it. I think that they’re varying. Some people care about looking at it all the time, more than others. But we all have access to it.
I haven’t looked at it in a week, though. I can say maybe I’m not the person. I haven’t looked in a week or two.
JENNY GUY: That’s amazing. Some people might want to look at it every day.
TANYA HARRIS: It’s me.
JENNY GUY: I don’t. But someone does.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Now, normally, I would be. I’ve just been busy over the last week. So I’ll get back to checking it every day.
JENNY GUY: All right, so you all launched a little under a month ago. Looking forward to the rest of 2022 and then beyond, what are some of your goals for Black People’s Recipes? What would you like to accomplish? I’ll start with Tanya on that one.
TANYA HARRIS: Well, I want Google to rank us. That’s– rank us, Google. But the other thing is I just want to reach as many people as we can, so that: they can come to the recipes and basically, learn a lot. So I’m going to piggyback off of one of the articles that has gotten a lot of interaction, was one that Brandi wrote, which was why do Black people wash chicken?
And it’s a conversation that happens a lot. It’s a very controversial topic. But then I feel like a lot of people didn’t know why there was this stigma of washing chicken or why people wash chicken. But Brandi broke it down and was like, you guys, this is why. And I don’t think there’s a lot of content out there that explains that.
So I just hope that we reach as many people as we can, so that they can learn more about our culture of food, our culture traditions, and things such as that. So that’s the overall goal. As long as Google ranks us, it will happen.
JENNY GUY: Speak it into existence.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Abundance, abundance Google mindset. Just rain down the Google abundance.
JENNY GUY: Exactly. Brandi, same question to you, what are some of your goals?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: I’ll definitely echo what Tanya said. The educational piece, I think, is invaluable. And it’s a large reason why we started this site, to teach people. It’s not even just about teaching recipes. It’s teaching our traditions, our customs, and why we do the things that we do.
And I had a feeling that that “Why Black People All Wash Chicken” post would be really popular. And it really speaks to the historical reasons and the history of Black people in this country, how we were treated and things that were done, and just things of that nature. If you haven’t read that article, blackpeoplesrecipes.com/whyblackpeoplewashchicken. It’s really, really good.
And so I shared it. And within 30 minutes, we were getting comments after comment on the post, where people were just like, oh my god, I never knew any of this historical background, and things of that nature. So just knowing that you can reach people and that they can learn something is invaluable. And so that’s probably first and foremost goal, for sure.
JENNY GUY: All right, yes, that is an incredible goal. And I love, setting that out as being your mission, then all the other things are going to follow, all of the other. The Google and the monetization and all of those things are going to come when you’re pursuing the mission that you have.
OK, so we are almost at the end of our time here, which is a big old bummer. But we always like to leave our incredible audience with action items, so that they can walk away and immediately be able to put your expertise into practice, when they walk away. So today, I would like to ask for your advice on content creator allyship.
And how can we, as content creators, best use our influence to support sites like Black People’s Recipes? And as you said, how can we pass the mic beyond checking the box– every Mediavine publisher, go check the box and get the money, but beyond that. So I’m going to leave you guys for just a second and make a quick announcement. I will come back, and I will start out with Tanya on that one.
Guys, for our next Teal Talk, we are gone for a couple of weeks. When we come back, it will be March, again, with the rudeness of the dates. But it will be March 15, Tuesday, at 1:00 PM Eastern, noon Central. We will have Andy Dehnart, of Reality Blurred, with a possible surprise guest.
We are going to be talking about a new venture that we’ll be releasing. It is called Mediavine University. And we will be releasing that out in the next couple of months. We are very excited about it. Please join us. So we will see you then.
But for now, let’s go back to my incredible guests that I’ve had today. It’s been a wonderful conversation, and I’m so grateful that you guys have been here. I’m going to start with Brandi. People who say they want to help– and I believe they do want to help– how can you be a good ally?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Yeah, I think it starts with being genuine, as you just said, taking a genuine interest and helping, and making it not a check-the-box task. Because I feel like, during the Black Lives Matter huge movement, that we saw June, May of 2020, lots of White content creators were sharing our content. Hey, follow this person. She’s Black, makes recipes, and things like that. And that lasted. That was cool for a month or two.
But it’s like, what steps are you taking past that? And are you sharing people on a consistent basis from a genuine place and not a check-the-box place? Evaluating your friendship circles, evaluating your blogger circles, how do those people look? Are they all White? Is there any diversity there?
Mastermind groups, retreats, when you reach out for people to be a part of your mastermind group or in your retreat, are you looking to create diversity in those spaces and lift up the community that many people say they want to lift up? But it needs to be more than a check-the-box. It needs to be an ongoing thing that’s at the forefront of your mind.
If you scroll Instagram, how do the people look? When you like a photo or engage with the photo, do you scroll past the Black content creators? And I feel like we’re easy to find. And like I said, we all knew about each other, because we’re Black in this space. And so we found each other the same way other people can find us and uplift us.
JENNY GUY: Very helpful– so it is not just about checking the box. But it is just about checking the box when you are trying to identify–
BRANDI CRAWFORD: In the dashboard.
JENNY GUY: In the dashboard. But that’s the simplest part. Beyond that, it’s about the starting from a genuine place. And it’s more than just– I love that because the people you’re surrounded with, that’s going to seep into what you’re doing. It’s going to seep into every part of your life. And if you’re not looking at that, yeah, absolutely great advice. Same question to you, Tanya.
TANYA HARRIS: Wow. Well, Brandi’s response was incredible. Yeah, and I do agree about the being genuine. Because that is what allows you to stay consistent. And what she said, as well, is surrounding your circles. I know for me, myself, I went to an HBCU for law school. And I went particularly, because it was the most diverse law school that I ever saw and went to.
And the experiences I got there were incredible. And I think people need to think about that, just that when you’re going to– you’re forming a mastermind. Who is in it? Is it diverse? How could you make it diverse?
And also, supporting– a lot of Black food bloggers also have books. Brandi has a book, The Air Fryer Cookbook, that’s the title of it.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Super Easy Air Fryer Cookbook.
TANYA HARRIS: Oops, Super Easy Air Fryer Cookbook. She’s got a bok. And now Grandbaby Cakes also has a book. And so purchasing their products, sharing their recipes, things such as that, if you want to make a recipe for your own site, maybe rather than just creating it, maybe spotlighting someone else’s recipe in that on your social media, or whatever, I think if you do that consistently and not once, then that’s definitely a great way to be an ally.
JENNY GUY: Not just in February, right?
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Or Juneteenth. February and Juneteenth, those are the days we see the spike in shares.
JENNY GUY: Yeah, it’s not– no, that’s not the way to make changes, that consistency showing up. Thank you so, so much for sharing and for the work you’re doing and for creating this wonderful website, that is not only delicious, but inspiring to all of us out here. We’re very, very excited to be working with you at Mediavine, and we’re very appreciative for taking this time to talk with us today.
BRANDI CRAWFORD: Thanks for having us.
TANYA HARRIS: Yes, thank you for having us.
JENNY GUY: All right, ladies. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. We’ll see you in a couple of weeks. And have a great rest of your February.
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