More About Andy

Andrea (Andy) Mathis is an Alabama-based Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of the healthy food blogs Beautiful Eats & Things and Little Eats & Things.

After completing her graduate studies at the University of Alabama, Andrea worked in several different healthcare settings including clinical, public health, and long-term care.

Andrea believes in achieving optimal health by incorporating healthier eating habits into your lifestyle and making healthy eating fun! When she’s not running after her two boys, she enjoys creating content to encourage self-love and promote body positivity.

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Welcome to The Unconventional RD podcast, where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We’ll talk all things online business to help you start, grow, and scale your own digital empire.

What to expect from this episode

This week on the podcast, we’ve got the fabulous Andy Mathis here talking about her life as a full time blogger. We chat about how Andy got started blogging and how she grew her traffic so that she was able to leave her job after just one year of blogging.

You’ll get an inside look into the multiple websites Andy runs, her various income streams, and where she sees her life and business going longterm. You guys already know I’m obsessed with interviewing other successful dietitian bloggers and online business owners, so I hope you guys find this episode as fun and inspirational as I did. Let’s dive in.

How and why Andy became a dietitian blogger

Erica: Hi, Andy. Thanks so much for being on the podcast today.

Andy: Hey, how are you doing today? Thank you so much for having me.

Erica: Yeah, I’m so excited. It’s uh, early in the morning for me. I still have a line on my face from my pillow.

Andy: That good sleep. I understand that!

Erica: Haha but yeah, I’m so excited to have you here today to talk about blogging, which is one of my favorite topics of all time. I’m really excited. But I always like to get people’s background first. So could you start by kind of telling us more about your background in dietetics and maybe what led you to become a dietitian in the first place?

Andy: Sure. Well, you know, of course, I’ve always been interested in food and nutrition. I guess it has always kind of been a passion of mine, and so while I was in high school, I started looking at options for careers in this field and came across dietetics. And so I pursued that. I got my undergraduate at the University of Montebello and then after that I completed an internship at Oakwood. I did the distance internship and then after that, I went straight into the work field.

I started as a clinical dietitian for a couple years. Then I worked in public health as a WIC nutritionist. So I worked there for about a year and then I went to long term care and I stayed there for maybe a little bit over eight years. And I was the director of nutrition there and that was kinda like, I guess that job where I thought, okay, this is it because it’s what I’m going to retire from. And I enjoyed it, but I, you know, I wanted something else. I kinda started losing my passion a little bit.

So about two and a half years ago, I left that job and started pursuing the blog full time. So, yeah, it’s been one of the best decisions that I’ve ever made. I was so scared at first. I was like, I’m leaving the steady job to start blogging, you know?

Erica: Yeah. It sounds crazy to a lot of people. I think it sounds super inspirational and I love that. Cause sometimes people are like, Oh, it’s too late. You know? I can’t get into blogging now… but like, you just left your job to blog two and a half years ago. Like you could still do that today, I think.

Andy: Sure can. Yeah, you can, if that’s what you’re passionate about.

How Andy started her blogs

Erica: So can you take us back to when you first started your blog, Beautiful Eats and Things? Did you start that while you were working full time? Or how did that go? And why were you drawn to it?

Andy: Yes, I started the blog Beautiful Eats and Things while I was still working full time. So I just started it almost like as an outlet, you know? I have a household of boys. Two boys, a husband. And so I wanted something that I can kind of like escape, you know? An outlet, just somewhere I can kind of express my creativity. And I love to cook so I was always getting asked like, okay, so where’s this recipe for this and where’s this recipe?

So I thought to create a blog so that I can have all the recipes that I’ve been cooking on one site. I knew nothing about blogging. Didn’t know how to do anything. I’m not computer savvy or tech-savvy at all. So I started just to have somewhere to put my recipes and it just kind of grew from there.

And I just got more and more into it, more interested in learning more about blogging and it just grew, it just kind of like grew very quickly.

Erica: That’s super exciting. And just in case people listening haven’t checked out your blog yet, what type of content do you post?

Andy: I would say it’s a mixture of food content and lifestyle. I like to post healthier recipes, maybe like with a little bit of a Southern flair. I am from Alabama so I like to post recipes, like comfort recipes that you can maybe kind of put a healthier twist on and make it really easy.

I love to post things about entertaining cause I love to entertain. Health and beauty, I love makeup. I love things like that. So you’ll find a mixture of that, food, and lifestyle content.

Erica: And then what led you to launch a second blog, Little Eats and Things? Well, I actually had like a little section on Beautiful Eats and Things when I first started, but the more that I posted on Beautiful Eats and Things, I felt like maybe I had two different audiences… because like I would post like cocktails and you know, just kind of like all this adult stuff and then I would turn around and like post like a lunchbox post, like for kids. And I just feel like it kinda wasn’t flowing if that makes sense.

SoI created Little Eats and Things so that I can have a place like strictly for kids recipes, crafts, things like that. I just wanted to have those separate spaces.

Erica: Oooo. That’s such a good lesson, because I did something similar when I first created my membership site. I only had one website and it was a food blog. Then I made a nutrition membership site, but I was like too scared to buy another domain and commit. So I put it on my food blog. And then after I realized that it was maybe going to be successful, then I moved it. So you can totally do that. You know? That’s a really cool story.

And is it challenging to run both of them?

Andy: Yes. You know, it is very challenging. And at first, when I started Little Eats and Things, yeah, I questioned myself. I was like, am I insane? Like what am I doing? I’m starting another blog?

Cause I have two kids, you know, where’s the time going to come from? But I just kinda got my schedule and just plan everything out and it’s not hard once you kind of, you know, plan your content for both blogs and kind of have a plan in place. So it’s okay now, but at first I was very overwhelmed because I was like, well, how am I going to do this? I’m a one woman show over here, trying to just figure everything out. But now I have a system, so it’s okay now, but in the beginning, yeah, I was kinda scared about that.

How she stays organized with two blogs

Erica: Can you tell us more about your system? That sounds really helpful.

Andy: Okay. Sure. Well, it’s nothing fancy. Like I said, I’m not like, you know, savvy with all this new technology, but it’s just like a simple word document. Like I have a calendar and I place everything that’s due, content that I would like to create, in a place on my calendar so that I can keep up with everything.

I also put reminders like on my Google calendar. Um, so that’s, that’s really it. And I like to plan in advance. So like, I know the holidays are coming up, so I’ve already have content on my calendar for that. And I know what I can take on and I don’t like to take on too many sponsorships or too many jobs, you know? So I always like to keep that in mind too.

Erica: How often do you post on each blog?

Andy: Um, I would probably say at least maybe once a week with little eats and things. And then it’s maybe one to two times a week with beautiful eats and things.

Erica: Yeah. And I don’t know about you, but I agree, once you come up with a content calendar, it’s almost like this weight is lifted and you’re not showing up, like, what am I doing this week? What am I posting? It’s like it’s already there. You’re just buying the groceries, making the recipes, etc.

What Andy loves most about blogging

Erica: So what do you love most about blogging?

Andy: I think I love that I can be creative and I can produce content that I enjoy, but also that other people will enjoy as well. So it’s like I’m in control, you know? I’m able to do something that I love and around like my own schedule, my own hours. So I like the flexibility of it. So I really enjoy that and it doesn’t feel like work cause I’m having fun. I love to cook and I love to style my food and take pictures. So it’s just, I’m just having fun with it.

Erica: I know it’s surreal sometimes that you can make money doing something that just feels fun and natural. And you know it’s a good fit when that’s how you feel about it, you know?

Andy: Yes. Yeah, yeah. Sure.

How to know if blogging is right for you

Erica: What if somebody’s not sure if blogging’s right for them? Do you have any tips on maybe how they could figure out whether it might be something they’d enjoy?

Andy: Well I would say if you’re questioning it, definitely reach out to bloggers that you’re following or somebody that you admire, reach out and ask them some questions. I have people to do that all the time. My inbox asks me questions and I don’t mind, like I always take the time to answer those questions. And I’m real with them. They ask, well, is this easy?

Is this something that I can do? I’m like, well, anyone could do it if that’s something that you want to do, if they’re passionate about it, but you know, it’s not like an overnight success thing. You know, it takes time, it takes commitment. And I make sure that everyone knows that. Like, you’re going to have to put some time and effort into this, you know?

So I would just say if you have the time and if this is something that you really want to do, then, you know, go for it, but definitely reach out to people. People won’t bite, they’ll give you some pretty good advice, you know?

Andy’s transition to full time blogging

Erica: So what was the timeline between when you started it and when you were able to leave your job?

Andy: Um, let’s see. I think maybe about a year. Cause I started, I think it was like October of 2017 and then I left the next year, maybe like November or October, but the following year, 2018. So I wasn’t expecting that at all. Like that was not in my plan. I’m a planner and that was not in my plan to leave my job.

Erica: So now that this is what you do full time, can you walk us through what a typical week looks like for you?

Andy: Um, well now things are different, you know, because of what’s going on. So I have my kids, but before, when they were in school, I had a few days to myself, which was really nice so that I was able to set days for recipe creation and like set days for shooting videos or taking pictures. So I had my set days, which, you know, worked out really well. And that just kinda made my schedule, I guess, a little bit easier so it wasn’t so overwhelming.

And so I would just kind of plan out things that I had to, I guess, accomplish and my due dates, my deadlines, and everything. So I had all that planned out and yeah, so maybe about three or four hours, I would stick strictly to blogging, kinda like when I first got up and then, you know, I would take a break after that, do some health stuff, cook, you know, and then it was time to get the kids.

So it was pretty good when they were in school, but now I’m having to just fit it where I can, you know? If they happen to take a nap I’m like, okay, let’s get some work done. You know, and I’m doing my work at night too.

You know, I’m having to work when they go to sleep. So it’s been a challenge. We all know.

Erica: That’s fun for photography too, with the lighting.

Andy: Yes. It’s been a challenge.

What helped Andy the most in the beginning

Erica: Well, looking back, is there anything that really stands out to you as something you did when you first started that you think really helped you?

Andy: Um, let’s see. When I first started, I would say, I think I started with the intention of really bringing in myself and my personality out for people to see. And I’m glad that I did that because I think people were able to connect with me a little bit better and it helped to grow my audience, which, you know, I was like, okay, well, this is great, but I really wanted people to get a sense of who I was and feel my personality like see my pictures and everything like that. So, I’m glad that I tried to start with that. So, you know, trying to keep it real.

Erica: And yeah, having the personal connection helps so much. And it also sets you apart. I think if you’re trying to be everything to everyone and you have no soul to your content, then it just gets looked over.

What Andy regrets early on

Erica: Is there anything you maybe regret doing early on?

Andy: Well, I would say in the very early stages, when I didn’t know anything about this, even like how to post stuff on Instagram, in the very beginning I was looking at other bloggers and content creators and trying to kind of copy that because I’m like, well, if it’s working for them, let me do my pictures this way.

And that didn’t work out because it wasn’t me. And so I’m glad that I quickly shifted, you know, to the mindset of okay, just be you, you know? Do what you like. Edit your pictures how you want to edit them. So yeah, in the very beginning, that comparison game kinda got me. Made me feel a little bit discouraged at times. It still kind of hits here and there, you know, I’m a human, so it kind of gets in my head every once in a while, but I’m a lot better with now.

Erica: Yeah. I mean, food photography is no joke. It takes a while to kind of find your style.

Andy: It sure does.

Andy’s tips for photography

Erica: What kind of tools do you use to edit?

Andy: Well, I take a lot of my pictures with my phone. I do have a camera, but I’ve been liking, for some reason, pictures on my phone and I use Lightroom to edit a lot of my pictures.

I’m trying to find the best way to edit videos. I still haven’t figured that one out just yet. I’m still kind of, um, figuring out and trying to determine what’s the best program, but Lightroom. And then Photoshop, I have that, so yeah, just been using those.

Erica: Yeah. Yeah. It’s really cool that you’re taking a lot of the pictures on your phone. It’s been a few years since I’ve been in the food blogging world, but it does seem like the phones on people’s cameras now are just so good that you can get by, especially now that you can kind of adjust. I don’t know. I forget the right word, but so it looks kind of blurry in the background and in focus. Yeah. Like you can do that on your phone now. That’s crazy.

So I do think that’s that should hopefully help people listening, feel like that’s one less barrier to getting started. Cause sometimes they’re like, Oh, I’ve got to buy an expensive camera and all this stuff.

Andy: Yeah, you don’t need that. You can definitely start with your phone.

Erica: And I would say that probably wasn’t the case like five years ago, but now it is, so that’s great. I know I look back at my photos from like 2015, like not food photos, but just photos I took on my camera, and I’m like, Oh, they’re so grainy.

Andy: I know, I want to redo so many of my photos from like when I first started, but I’m like, I’ll just keep going. Some people actually like those photos, it’s getting some traffic. So yeah.

Erica: It’s funny when you’re like your oldest posts do the best. I have this really old posts from a day when I didn’t know what to post and it was just like a five-minute side dish that I put together, like a bag of greens and mushrooms. And it’s like my number one performing recipe.

Andy: You’ll be surprised. It’s like those easy dishes are the ones that get a lot of traffic.

How Andy grew her traffic in the beginning

Erica: So yeah. Speaking of traffic, do you think there’s anything that you did in the beginning to help you really grow your traffic?

Andy: Let’s see. I tried to perfect my food photography, cause early on, like even before I actually started the blog, I was buying books, I was searching on the internet just trying to find everything that I could to take the best pictures. So even though a lot of pictures starting out were just okay. I feel that it improved quickly and as it was improving I felt like I was getting more traffic. Maybe the pictures were bringing in people to my website. So I feel that that helped a lot.

Erica: Where do you get most of your traffic from right now?

Andy: Um, let’s see. A lot of it comes from Pinterest. Some Google, but it’s been mostly Pinterest.

Erica: Yeah I was going to say if your pictures are like your selling point, I would guess that that would be your number one draw. Cause that matters so much.

Andy: Yeah.

Erica: What about, and this is kind of going off topic, but what about Instagram? Do you get traffic from Instagram or is it more like building your community?

Andy: Um, I do. I think it’s more about building my community on Instagram, but I get some traffic. Not as much as I would like to, but it does help to build that community and help people get more of a sense of who I am.

Erica: That was kinda my perception as well. Just for people listening who aren’t familiar with the differences, Pinterest is like a search engine, a visual search engine almost. So people will type in meatballs or something. And then all these pictures of meatballs will come up and people kind of choose by the picture a lot of times. So that’s where having good photography can help and they’ll click on it and it takes them to your website. So that’s why it’s a traffic driver versus Instagram is like, Oh, a pretty picture, but you can’t really easily click to get to the recipe as much as you can on Pinterest.

But I know you have a good following on Instagram, so that’s awesome. And that’s probably again, due to your awesome photography and your personality shining through, you know?

How can you make money from a blog?

Erica: Okay. So I think it’d be helpful for people listening. Could you walk us through how you monetize your blog?

Andy: Sure. Um, let’s see, a few different ways, but I will say the majority of my income comes from sponsored posts. So I do quite a bit of those and I actually really like to do those. I love to create content with certain products and I love the challenge of creating like a different recipe or something featuring that product. But I think it’s really fun for me. So I’ve really enjoyed doing the sponsored content.

I also write for a couple of magazines, Eating Well and The Kitchn, I’ve done some work with them, and then some food photography work behind the scenes for clients. And then of course ad revenue. So I’m with Mediavine. Those are kind of my top ways I’m able to make some money off the blog.

Erica: That’s great! I’d like to dive into some of those a little more in depth. Let’s start with sponsored posts. How did you get your first sponsored post? Like, were you pitching people or were brands coming to you? How did that work?

Andy: Well, in the very beginning I kind of just went through, I guess the third party sites, like, you know, Social Fabric and things like that. And I was applying for the sponsorships and I was able to get a few. I got most of the sponsored posts in the beginning from those sites. And then when I got a little bit more comfortable with my pitching, then I started reaching out to brands and just kind of taking my shot and just like, Hey, you know, I’m loving this product, let’s work together. You know?

So I started receiving a few “yes” emails back from them. Cause I would send out TONS and I still send out emails now, but I send out tons and you know, out of maybe like 30 emails out, we’ll get back maybe two or three that was like, okay. Yeah, sure. We’ll work with you.

Erica: Yeah. That’s not bad. That’s pretty good return rate! So did you just go to those people’s websites and try to find the contact email?

Andy: Yes. I just went to the website and try to like find like the press contact or media contact and um, and just reach out to that person that’s listed.

Erica: And what are you even saying?

Andy: Yeah, well, I always like to give an intro. Like I always like to say who I am, you know, Beautiful eats and Things, registered dietitian. My blog specializes in comfort food and lifestyle. So I always give like an introduction.

And then the next section I like to kind of tell them a little bit more about why I like their product, cause I like to pitch the brands that I actually use, that I actually like. So if it’s something that I’ve been using for a while, I’ll say, you know, this has been something in my home that I always keep on hand. I love it. It’s been in a few of my recipes and I always ask, well, I would love to work together to support you and your company and these are my ideas, I would love to discuss further, and just kinda of like that.

Erica: Yeah, you hit on so many good points there. Making it about the brand and how you can help them. Not like just an ask, you know? That’s probably why it goes over a lot better too. So thank you for sharing that.

Do you remember looking back, like how long it took you to qualify for Mediavine?

Andy: Let’s see… for Mediavine, I can’t remember when I applied, but I know I did it before the new 50,000 cutoff. Now I know it’s changed. So, I want to say maybe after a year? I had my blog for a year because when I left my job and then shortly after that I applied for Mediavine and got accepted. So yeah. I guess it took me about a year to get up to where they wanted us to be.

Erica: That’s really great progress.

Andy: Yeah. So I was really happy. I’m trying to get Little Eats and Things up to that point, but it’s not there yet.

Erica: The grind.

Andy: Yeah.

Erica: Yeah. So for people listening, it used to be 25,000 sessions a month. So like that’s basically like individual people coming to your site every month. I really think in the beginning, it’s really Pinterest and SEO. Pinterest can take off faster, I think. Cause once you kind of get it and you understand how to utilize and optimize it and you are good at creating good pins, then that can grow really quickly. And then SEO is more like a slow burn, but stable, mostly speaking. So it’s like every time you put out new content, if you optimize it, it’s just building kind of, your backlog of content that can be discovered.

Andy: I’m still learning about SEO. I don’t know if I’ll ever learn it.

Erica: Yeah. And the fact that you grew your blog to full time without really feeling like you had a firm grasp on SEO, I hope that inspires people. That there’s not just one way to make it, you know? Obviously I’m a huge fan of SEO because SEO because I have an SEO course, but I also acknowledge that Pinterest is very powerful and a lot of people make it to ad networks by capitalizing on Pinterest alone.

So I do think like in the long run, you should have both optimized, but you can pick whatever feels most natural to you to grow your traffic in the beginning. You can do it either way.

So I was looking through your blog and I saw that in the past, you got to go on a sponsored retreat from the grocery store Sprouts. And that just seems so cool. And can you just share with us, like how did that come about and what does that even entail? Cause I do see, especially dietitians, doing sponsored trips., I think it’s a really cool thing that my audience probably doesn’t know much about.

Andy: Yeah, well, um, I was actually working with Sprouts on a few sponsored campaigns. So I believe they were trying to get some of their blogger influencers out to visit their headquarters in Arizona. I think they usually do it every year. Of course not this year, but, they’ve been doing it every year.

And it was exciting. I was able to meet a few bloggers that I follow on Instagram. So we all kind of met and great energy. It was just, it was a fun trip getting to know a little bit more about Sprouts their background, get a tour of the headquarters, you know, things like that.

And I really enjoyed it and it’s just, I guess, like if you have those really good relationships with brands, they will reach out to you and and see if you’re willing to go on a sponsored trip, you know, to learn more about that brand and learn more about what they do. So I was really excited about that opportunity.

Erica: Yeah. I’ve seen people do like cranberry board trips and you know, there’s all sorts of companies and like, not brands, but like, food boards, almost, like the potato board or something, and they’ll bring dietitians out, which is kind of cool.

Can being a dietitian bring more opportunities online?

Erica: Do you think being a dietitian helped you in any of these avenues to get more opportunities?

Andy: Um, I believe so. I guess maybe it kind of adds that that credibility, especially if the brand is like a healthier food brand, working with a dietitian kind of adds that credibility when you’re able to back it up and say, yes, I, I support this brand. You know, this is something that I recommend. So I believe that it helps in that aspect of it. But does it help to make me a better food photographer? No. You know, like stuff like that.

Erica: Did you have any mentors or other bloggers that you learned from?

Andy: Well there were people that I guess that I admired their style, but it really just kinda came about like with trial and error, you know, just learning what I like, what I wanted to look at, you know, it was like, well, if this appeals to me, maybe it’ll appeal to somebody else.

So it just, I guess, came from experimenting, kind of playing around with a few different things.

Erica: Yeah. I don’t have that visual design skill inherently, so that part was hard for me, but sometimes I’ll just look on Pinterest to almost like learn composition because I don’t have that skill. I’m like, Oh, they put the napkin there. And like, that makes sense. When I started to actually look and dissect the photos and be like, Oh, like the bowl’s not in the dead center, it’s off to the side a little bit and like there’s stuff around it, like that. Then I’d try to replicate those pieces within my photos. And that helped a lot, I think.

Andy: Yes, those details are so important in photos.

Erica: And do you have any favorite resources or places to learn? I know you said you bought some books.

Andy: Yes. It was a book that I bought and I cannot remember the name of that book, but I got it off Amazon. And it was just this basic book, like a basic food photography book. If I get the name of it, I’ll have to send it to you. It was really a great book because it kind of broke it down and was really simple cause I needed something really simple and it just explained basic techniques for taking pictures and all that stuff. So that was really helpful just to learn how to use my camera. I didn’t even know how to use my camera cause my husband bought it as a Christmas gift and I just looked at it and I was like, what am I supposed to do with this? So it kind of really helped me to figure that out too.

Selling physical goods online

Erica: One more thing that I saw on your website, I saw that you have some t-shirts that you sell as well. Can you tell us what gave you the inspiration to get into that?

Andy: Yes. Well I just have two, well now I have three designs because I added one this year, but the shirts came about… The first large design was like, Be You, Be Beautiful. And that was just a simple phrase. Just told everybody to just be yourself and that makes you beautiful, you know, no matter what.

So I just got that inspiration as I continued to create content and just became more into the body positive movement and just try to let everybody know that, you know, accept yourself, love yourself. And then with that experience came the RD shirts. I made a shirt that says curvy, proud, registered dietitian.

Because unfortunately there are not a lot of curvy dietitians out there and you know, and I wanted to just come out and say it’s okay if you got a little extra thickness somewhere. It’s okay. And I just wanted to show that it’s okay to be curvy, proud, and also a registered dietitian. And still just as credible, you know, we’re still just as knowledgeable. So I made a shirt to say that. And so that people would know, you know, I’m proud, I’m not going to hide, but I’m a dietitian, you know, because of my size.

And I made one this year for RDs to be, so it says curvy proud RD to be, and it was requested by one of my Instagram friends and she inboxed me and she said, well, can you make a shirt that says this. And I was like, that’s a good idea. And so I added that one. That’s all this year.

Erica: That gave me goosebumps. That’s so inspiring. And again, I think you’re bringing your personality and your authenticity to your brand. That’s always a win. How do you make them?

Andy: Right now it’s through Bonfire and anybody can like make a T-shirt through that website and they print it for you and then they send it off to the people that purchase the shirts. So that’s where it is right now. But I am looking to move to another platform because it’s, I’m wanting to do more, um, like shirts and leggings, like things like that. So I’m wanting to add more. So it probably will not be on the Bonfire platform beyond probably after a few months.

Erica: So do you know what platform you’re thinking of moving to?

Andy: Well, it’ll be like on my page, but I’m just trying to figure out another way, I guess, to print the merchandise and like put more printing options. I’ve heard of Printify, or like some other options like that, that gives you more choices. I think they have like pillows that you can design and mugs, like all these different things. So I still haven’t decided. I’m just kind of looking around to see what would be the best option.

Erica: Okay. So like wanting to expand beyond t-shirts basically.

Andy: Yes.

Erica: What has been the most effective channel for selling the T-shirts? Like, does it seem like your blog readers are buying or your social media followers? Like how does that work?

Andy: Probably social media, I would say maybe from Instagram I’ve received like the most sales for the shirts from Instagram.

I would love for it to just be regular blog traffic and people are just coming to shop at my little bitty shop, but yeah, I think right now people, I think it helps when I tell the message behind the shirts and then people are drawn to purchase it.

Erica: That was going to be my guess, because just thinking about it, the people who just randomly find your blog through search engines or Pinterest, they’re probably like laser focused on that specific recipe that they were looking for. And they may not click around. For people listening, the bounce rate, which is when people just visit one page on your site and then leave, is notoriously high for food blogs, because people are just generally looking for one type of recipe.

And then when they find it, they leave. In contrast to Instagram or any social media platform where you were building the connection with people and the relationship, that makes a lot of sense to me that that would be where the buyers for your shirts would come from.

How Andy got over 70k followers on Instagram

Erica: It’s been awhile since I looked at these notes a few weeks ago, but I know you have like over 70,000 followers on Instagram for your main blog, which maybe it’s even higher now, and over 15,000 for your second. That is freaking amazingly inspirational. And I don’t know that much about Instagram, so I would love to chat for a minute. Like how did you grow your Instagram to that level?

Andy: Well, um, first, before I even thought about the food blog, I had an Instagram and it was like a makeup artistry Instagram account because I worked at Mac for several years. So I was a freelance makeup artist, so I had a pretty good following then. And so that kind of helped I guess, to kind of boost it along. So I changed the whole account over to Beautiful Eats and Things, and I was able to keep a lot of those followers, thankfully. So I just, I started there and then it just kind of grew as I brought more of myself to Instagram.

Cause I post food, but I started to also post more about maybe me and my family, just kind of some real life stuff. And I feel like I was able to connect with people more when I started doing that and that also helped to grow my account. And then I would say, this year, of course it has grown, you know, because of the amplify melanated voices that was going on on Instagram. So of course my account grew by several thousand like within the past couple of months because people were sharing my content, which was awesome. And I hope that it continues. I’ve kind of gotten a lot of followers for the past few months.

Erica: So how often do you post? Do you have a schedule for that too? Or is it a little more unplanned?

Andy: I don’t really have a schedule, but I post a lot. Like maybe for Little Eats and Things, it might be one to two times a week, but for Beautiful Eats and Things, maybe at least once a day, maybe twice a day, you know, if something comes up in my head or whatever recipe that I’m trying to cook, I’ll post it.

So I’m really active on that account.

Erica: What about like the regular feed versus the stories? Do you do both of those?

Andy: I do. I try to keep my Instagram stories current and kind of let people know what I’m doing day by day. It gets hard, like I said, with the kids are at home now, and so you can’t always do that, but, um, yeah, I try to post stories as often as I’m posting the in-feed content.

Where Andy’s promotional attention is going next

Erica: Awesome. So a really great Instagram following. You’re doing amazing at Pinterest. Is there any other avenue that you feel you really excel at or maybe something you’re going to focus on in the future?

Andy: Um, TikTok, TikTok has been awesome. I will say I joined it earlier this year, but I was too scared to post videos. Like I was just on there just to look at everybody else’s videos, but I think I posted my first one in May or maybe the end of April.

And that just kind of took off, like one of my videos went viral and I gained a lot of followers and just people inboxing me, messaging me, like how can I work with you? And you know, how can you offer services and do you help people? And I was just like, Whoa, like, you know, just from that one post. And so I continued to post content and it has been really, really great to build another audience.

Erica: Yes…. TikTok has come up quite a few times in my interviews over the last few months. It’s definitely growing. I hope with all the drama that’s happening on whether it’s going to get banned or whatever, that it’s all okay. I bet by the time this airs there will be a resolution. It does seem like, like you said, in your experience of going viral, it’s like, you just need that one video to kind of take off.

Andy: Yeah. Like it’s awesome and I like that with TikTok I don’t feel as much pressure. Like with Instagram, it’s almost like everything kind of has to be perfect. You know, I have to make sure everything is good, but TikTok, like I can record a video and, you know, if my kitchen’s not clean, like whatever, it’s like the audience there, they don’t really care about that.

It’s like, they’re just there to get the content and your message. So I’m kind of laid back, which I like.

Erica: Definitely way more laid back. Just to put this into perspective, what types of content are you posting as a dietitian slash food blogger on TikTok?

Andy: Um, I posted maybe a couple of recipes, but most are messages like body positivity. Just helpful notes to not shame people, you know, body shame and it’s never okay. So a lot of those messages I’m trying to get out to people and to kind of keep that going.

And then I do some silly videos because my kids are wanting to be in the video. One of me and my oldest son dancing. So some are just fun.

Erica: Thank you. Cause I think out of all the platforms, TikTok is the babiest one. So the least number of people in my audience probably are on it or are familiar even with the type of content. So that’s helpful for fleshing it out.

Andy’s long-term career visions

Erica: So what’s your longterm vision for both of your blogs and your online career in general? Where do you see things going?

Andy: I would love to do like a virtual practice or be able to help people online. I’ve gotten so many requests, especially from TikTok. People are wanting help with their relationship with food. Surprisingly people are not asking me, Oh, I want to lose weight. Can you help me? It’s more so well, can you help me with my relationship with food?

And I was like, I didn’t even know people really wanted that help. And so I’m really looking into doing some work, maybe, you know, building up a virtual practice with that. For Little Eats and Things also maybe working with parents, I’ve gotten questions about intuitive eating with kids and I was like, Oh, Hey, like, so I’m getting all these different requests, which is helping me to understand maybe how to move forward with the businesses. So of course I would like to do that.

Maybe some more merchandise, more apparel coming in the works for both blogs, but that’s what I’m thinking. And of course, cookbooks. I would love to do that with cookbooks. Yeah.

Erica: So exciting! I get really, nerdily excited about all of these things. I’m like, yessss. I’m excited about it. I love that you’re using the feedback too. Like that’s almost like a sure-fire away to do something that’s going to work.

If you’re meeting a need that people are literally asking you for, then you already know there’s people out there wanting to buy that from you, which is the best possible scenario, versus if you don’t yet have the audience and there’s no one talking to you, sometimes it can be hard to figure out what people want or what you want to make for the world. You know?

How to connect with Andy

Erica: Cool. Well, if someone is listening to this right now and they would love to support and connect with you, where should they go? What’s the best place?

Andy: I would say to head over to my website, beautifuleatsandthings. And right now I have a free one-pot E-cookbook that’s available if you sign up for the newsletter. So I would encourage anyone to do that. And then to also head over to my shop, take a look at my shirts, you know, holidays are coming up, so maybe a good holiday gift for someone. Um, and then also little eats and things to sign up for the newsletter as well. Just follow me on all the social media channels, leave me feedback. I love to get messages. I love to receive comments on all my things. So definitely a few of those things would help support.

Erica: Yeah. Would Instagram be the place to go to if they wanted to message you?

Andy: Yes. Instagram or just email me directly [email protected] but usually Instagram and my email, I’m always checking those. I get a few messages on TikTok, but I don’t really check them as I should. So it may kind of get lost.

Three tips for new bloggers today

Erica: Awesome. Well, good to know. Before we wrap up, what are your top three pieces of advice that you would give RDs who might be thinking about starting a blog today?

Andy: Sure. I would say the first one would be to just do it, you know, because I feel like if you continue to wait and just kind of prolong it, I feel like you’re going to second guess yourself into not doing it.

And then you’re going to have that wonder, Well, what if I would have started it? So if you’re really wanting to start a blog, just go ahead and do it and just learn along the way. I, a lot of us have, cause I’m still learning. So I would definitely say just to go ahead and start it.

And the second piece of advice I would say to be patient with yourself, because it’s not gunna just be this huge success overnight. Be patient with yourself and give yourself that time to build your blog. Give yourself time to grow and also to enjoy the journey. I feel like sometimes we get so caught up in, like, I want to build this blog, I wanna make all this money, that you forget to enjoy the steps that it takes to get there. So that’s probably number three. So like enjoy that journey, enjoy the steps that it takes to, to get to where you’re trying to be, you know? Cause you can learn from that.

Erica: Yeah. And it feels like every time you level up, there’s a new set of challenges. So, you know, you’re never going to be done. So it’s important to enjoy the process because the process is never ending. Could you ever see yourself with a team or people helping you with content creation?

Andy: Oh, I would love to have a team. Cause I definitely need some help. I’d love to have a team. I don’t know when that’s gonna happen because I’m so thrifty, like how I hold onto my money. I’m so tight. So I have to get used to idea of shelling out money for my business.

Erica: I am the same way. I’m still a solopreneur here as well. But yeah, I hang out in some like food blogging Facebook groups and I’ve seen some of the really big names that have full on teams. It’s crazy, but inspirational. Like they’re treating it like an actual business. Cause it is, you know?

And how cool also (I try to shift my mindset around this) that you get to employ someone and that’s maybe their dream job that you get to provide, which is super cool.

Andy: Maybe I’ll get there one day. We’ll see.

Erica: I know ,we’ve got plenty of time! Well, it was so wonderful chatting with you. Thank you for coming on the podcast today. And for anyone listening, I’ll put all the links to everything that we mentioned, all of Andy’s resources and links to all of her websites and social media handles and all of that in the show notes. So just go to the unconventional to check those out. So yeah. Thanks again, Andy.

Andy: Thank you so much for having me I enjoyed chatting with you.

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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.