Jessica Randhawa is the head chef, recipe creator, photographer, and writer behind The Forked Spoon. She creates delicious family-friendly recipes that anyone can make, and her website has over one million users per month.
Where did the idea for The Forked Spoon come from?
I first started food blogging back in 2011. A recent graduate from the University of California Santa Cruz with a Bachelors of Science in Molecular, Cellular, Developmental Biology, I was working at Stanford University School of Medicine when my boyfriend (now husband) and I decided to pack our things into boxes, say goodbye to our jobs and backpack through Nepal and South East Asia for six months. Throughout that journey, I fell in love with the blogging community, traveling, and cooking (plus eating) new foods and flavors. Also, food and recipes are sought year-round, and the niche generally does well even in recessions.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts with first seeing which way the wind is blowing, which in my online publishing world means reviewing Google Keyword Gains and Losses that morning from SEMrush, looking over advertising income from the previous day, and reviewing analytics to see what is trending so I can push it harder on social media. After my morning routine is complete, I jump right into content creation for the day, which can be recipe development, recipe cooking, recipe photography, or typing up the recipe post copy, which tends to take up most of my time.
How do you bring ideas to life?
To bring new recipes to life, I generally start researching recipe topics to see what would be a good fit for my audience and my business. Once the formula is picked, I test it out to make sure that it is precisely how I want it to be presented. From there, I do the final run making the recipe, photographing, and taking video of the process. Once I have the media content, I edit my own photos in Photoshop Lightroom, and send my raw video files to a contractor to turn into social media videos. With the recipe established and media processed, I then write a copy of the post and recipe, publish, and share accordingly to my hundreds of thousands of followers and millions of monthly readers.
What’s one trend that excites you?
While the global pandemic has economically impacted many small businesses and restaurants that I love, this new environment has created a broader audience for people eating at home. We saw a 30% uptick in traffic during the lockdown in March, and traffic is still up significantly since then.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Staying motivated with a continually changing world can pose severe challenges to any CEO. I firmly believe that finding outlets outside of work and scheduling those outlets regularly has helped me stay focused and motivated in my time for business. Pre-pandemic, I was a massive fan of Cross Fit like High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) group classes, which I would do 5 to 6 days per week to clear my head, spike my heart rate up, get my endorphins pumping. With my gym shut down and no opening insight, I have had to look for new ways to get those same benefits, which will help me continue to grow my business. I turned my focus to trail running with my dog in the hills behind my house. While it is not quite the same workout level, I can clear my head in nature while enjoying flora and fauna (not including our local rattlesnakes). These long runs help me stay focused and allow my headspace to be refreshed when I return to business.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Try new experiences as often as you can, as life experiences make you the sum of who you are.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
My favorite part of traveling is going to the airport and getting on the plane. I don’t know many other people that appreciate this part of the journey as much as I do.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
For years now, and even in these uncertain times, I have exceeded my business goals. The best expert tip I can give that has helped me succeed is outsourcing the business parts that I don’t love or am not an expert at. So my best advice is not to be afraid to invest in contractors with highly specialized skill sets. This goes for any part of the business that you and your team don’t have the expertise, is project-based, or does not warrant hiring full-time staff. Hiring the right people for the right job is essential for growth. Just make sure that you do your due diligence with verified referrals or reviews of the services offered.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
If you don’t love doing a specific task, outsource it, or delegate it. This allows me to be more productive in areas that I enjoy, and I know I can move the needle on. I try to get referrals for parts of my business that I want to outsource, so that way, I have a good idea of the quality of work that I am outsourcing.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest failure which held back my success for a few years was picking the wrong Content Management System of Squarespace after I transitioned from Blogger. If one is truly aspiring to be a blogger/publisher, they should start with WordPress.org. While there are many different avenues to drive traffic like email and social media, one of the biggest for most professional blogs is Google searches. Having a domain on a quality host with WordPress.org enables building a much more search engine and social media friendly website right from the start.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Look into building customer engagement. I just started using a new customer engagement suite called SlickStream, and the preliminary trial results look very promising.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I have spent recently was on a day of rafting down the American River. We all need breaks and time to recharge. White water rafting got me on a boat, without the ability to use my phone, and let me unplug entirely for the day, which made me more productive the next day.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
I love the online visibility management platform SEMrush. It allows me to dial in my recipe research to enable content to be more productive. I can track how visibility is going for my company on a micro or macro basis. Likewise, I can also track what thousands of competitors are doing.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love listening to the audio edition of The Economist every week while I am cooking or writing. The Economist keeps me informed about business, politics, science, technology, economics, and trends in an easy to digest way.
What is your favorite quote?
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.” – Notorious RBG
- Outsource or delegate parts of the business that you don’t love.
- Customer engagement platforms are worth researching.
- Choose the right Content Management System for growth.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.