June 20, 2022

58 - Chef Dennis Littley Talks About Blogging

58 - Chef Dennis Littley Talks About Blogging

In This Episode Chef Dennis Shares:
That he has had several mentors throughout his career that have helped him become the Chef that he is today.
He has had two carpal tunnel surgeries on his hand.
How he started a culinary program for teen girls that was...


In This Episode Chef Dennis Shares:

That he has had several mentors throughout his career that have helped him become the Chef that he is today.

He has had two carpal tunnel surgeries on his hand.

How he started a culinary program for teen girls that was one of the schools points of excellence.

What prompted him to create a blog and how it didn't initially function like he thought that it would.

How many hours a week he works in 'retirement.'

That he was Philadelphia's Power User for Google Plus.

His attitude towards competitors and competition.

How the President of Media Vine helped him set his blog up for ads.

How much he made last year.

The effect that COVID has had on his business.

The number of people that make up his Ask Chef Dennis team and some of their roles.

What got him in to Travel blogging.

What he considers the secret to successful blogging.

The effect that an SEO audit had on his site.

 

 

 

 

Be sure to hit Subscribe in your podcast app so that you don't miss it or any other episodes.

Transcript

Greg Mills: Our guest today is the founder and CEO of ask ship Dennis productions, where he runs one of the most successful food blogs in the world with over 1 million followers on social media and almost 10 million page views annually. He's built a loyal following that uses his recipes and cooking tips and techniques in their home kitchens to feed their family and friends, easy to make restaurant style dishes at a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Greg Mills: Chef Dennis also works with travel companies and cruise lines showcasing their travel opportunities as he shares his travel adventures and the deliciousness he's enjoying as he travels the world without further ado shift in us Lilly. Hey Greg,

Dennis Littley: thanks so much for having me on today. It's a pleasure to be here.

Greg Mills: Well thank you for being here now. Chef Dennis, can you take a few moments and fill in the gaps from that intro and bring us up to speed with what's going on in your world today?

Dennis Littley: Sure, sure. You know, travel, hasn't been a big part of my life over the past few years because of the pandemic and how it's affected the world.

Dennis Littley: But. We're hoping in the spring next year to get back on some kind of schedule as long as things work themselves out, I think we're down to just having a pretty bad cold right now if we catch COVID, which is fine, get back to some life is normal, but, we're having a really good time.

Dennis Littley: We move to New Jersey. I had mentioned that to you earlier. We got a condo, so we're back up here for the summer. So we're at the Jersey shore, basically. It's a seven minute drive across the bridge to get to that. It's almost like going home for me. I didn't grow up right in this area, but it was familiar to me.

Dennis Littley: So it's been nice coming back here and, you know, food blogs doing great. The pandemic was very, very good to me because everybody was eating at home. So, picked up a lot of new readers and I've been, developing a lot of new recipes and creating. So I'm having a good time.

Greg Mills: Now, did you come from an entrepreneurial background at all?

Greg Mills: Did anybody in your family have their own

Dennis Littley: business? No. My mom was a nurse and she was a nurse up until she was almost 80. I think she might have been 82 when she stopped. But, she was a nurse, all of her life. My dad was in the army and then, he kind of learned to be an electrician and, he went to work for a yacht company on the docks and worked his way up into management.

Dennis Littley: So, no, no entrepreneurial .

Greg Mills: Okay. Now, would you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

Dennis Littley: It depends on the day. for the most part . I think I'm an introvert. I can entertain myself, very well. I don't need to go out a lot. , but when I go to a function or a party, I can easily become an extrovert.

Dennis Littley: Now, if no one comes over to talk to me, you'll probably find me against the wall. But, once somebody comes up and starts some kind of conversation, I can go on for hours and hours almost to the point where my wife's gotta drag me out of there. But for the most part, I think I'm an introvert.

Greg Mills: How did you get interested in cooking? Ugh. I

Dennis Littley: love to eat. That was the first segue into it. And, I mentioned my mom was a nurse and she worked nights, so she would be home with us during the day. So when I was trying to be good, I would let her sleep. And that meant, cooking during the summer, cooking for myself, making something to eat.

Dennis Littley: And I kind of figured out that, if I could cook something I could eat. And that was a, a good. For me, I wasn't out picking berries or something. I could actually make something and then generally focused around pasta of some sort at that age. And then, when I was, I think it was 12 or 13, there was a guy came on TV, his name was Graham Kerr.

Dennis Littley: He was a galloping gourmet and he was cutting edge. He wore an Ascot, a scarf and he was an AIE and he had that accent and he made these foods that were just, uh, I was in awe. I mean, I didn't know why, I, I didn't know what he was making. Some of these French dishes and things, but people would come down from the audience and they would literally moan when they ate the food.

Dennis Littley: So in, in my little, you know, underdeveloped brain at that point, it kind of stuck in there and it says, oh, food makes people happy. You know, not just me, it makes other people happy. So I think that kind of always led me to the fact cuz that's, for me, the greatest part of cooking is the enjoyment I get out of serving other people.

Greg Mills: Can you describe kind of your career progression as you've gone through? Cause I'm thinking that you didn't start at chef, and then, become a world famous blogger. So how did all of this kind of come about?

I

Dennis Littley: think a lot of it is accidental for me.

Dennis Littley: It was, being in the right place at the right time. I started flipping burgers when I was 12. There was an hamburger place within a half a mile walk of the house. And I was a frequent, frequent patron of that place, wimpy burgers. When I graduated eighth grade, I got a job there.

Dennis Littley: And by the next year I was the manager of the place cuz I was an overachiever at that point of my life. I was the Jack of all trades master of none and everything looked greener on the other side. And then finally I was working as a manager. I had managed, restaurants and I was managing a nursing home.

Dennis Littley: I usually had I still do, I usually had a good four year shelf life before people looked at me and went, oh, you're just more trouble than your were in the beginning of my career, I was under the Messiah cuz I changed everything they ever wanted changed.

Dennis Littley: I was picky like that even after I'd fixed things. And then I was just a pain in the butt. So about four years into working in this hamburger chain, I left really quickly and got a job, cuz my mother worked there, had a nursing home as a food service director. And I was lucky enough to have a woman there who had retired and she was a dietician and she had been the head dietician at a huge hospital and also the head of food services.

Dennis Littley: She had done two different stints there and she taught me so much. And while I was there again towards the end of my career, one of my sales said, Hey, this restaurant is looking for somebody to work there and train and I didn't let on. I knew anything really at that point that I'd had any training and I went over there and it was, oh, it.

Dennis Littley: Horrible. It was cramped, it was busy, it was hot. But I knew I'd find a home cuz at the end of the first shift I turned to the owner, the chef and said, I wish I'd been more help. And he looked at me and said, yeah, I wish you had to . So I knew I had found a kindred spirit and we actually became very good friends and I looked as him as, a mentor for a good many years during the path, as I learned how to really be a chef and run a restaurant.

Dennis Littley: And that kind of just built into what it was over the course of the years. I, I went to different restaurants and different places and I always tended to come back there. And then I had two carpal tunnel surgeries on my hands and I wasn't supposed to work as a chef anymore. And I got a job in management for a food service.

Dennis Littley: And I was there working there in, course of things. I was in a place that the food was horrible. So I went back in the kitchen and started cooking and it was almost like legendary at that point. And then I had second car tunnel surgery, cuz I had ruined my hand again. And when I came back, my boss was gone and I called him and said, what happened to?

Dennis Littley: He goes, oh, I left. I went to this different company. It's a school system. He goes, I got a job for you. And I went, oh no, I'm not ready to. Go out to pasture and just sit in an office and cook school food. He goes, no, no, go out. And I went out there and it was really outdated. It didn't look like a good situation at all.

Dennis Littley: And I'm gonna nicely tell the principal and the president of the school, the nuns that thank you for the opportunity, but I don't think I'll take it. And the principal said, and you work 165 days a year. And I went, when would you like me to start?

Greg Mills: oh, I could see that being a huge motivator, especially living in Florida.

Greg Mills: Oh, well this was in Pennsylvania.

Dennis Littley: Oh, okay. I was living in New Jersey and the school was in flower town, Pennsylvania, which is right outside of Chestnut hill, outside of Philadelphia. And my wife was a teacher. So unless there was a state of emergency, I had to dig myself out and get to work.

Dennis Littley: Even if none of my employees showed up, I had to be there to cook for whoever came into work that day it's executive dining. So I took the job. I was on the same schedule as her. In fact, I had more days off cuz I was at a Catholic school and we had other holidays off and, it was great and I didn't make as much money.

Dennis Littley: I took a pretty good pay cut for it, but it was a quality of life move . And a few years into that, I was hiring temps for events and they were horrible for the most part. And I got the idea to start training my own staff. So I started a culinary program at this school. And I started training girls, to cook, teaching them, to cook, figuring I could use them for events.

Dennis Littley: And the school was very happy because I was doing something really good for this school. And the company I worked for was happy because I was giving to the community and doing part of, they were real big on that. And it was good for everybody. No one bothered me. End of the year, the biggest event I had 11 girls left outta 60 that signed up for the program because they just couldn't make time.

Dennis Littley: They were all really busy. All of 'em went to college, they had full plates. So I had 11 freshmen left that could fit me in to their schedules. And I, I told 'em to wear black pants, a t-shirt I would give 'em a chef coat and tell 'em how to show 'em how to wear an apron. Cool. So they looked really good.

Dennis Littley: Wasn't for working, but it was for looking good. I dressed him up, walked him out into the main dining room with about 500 people. And it was like, you could have heard a pin drop. No one had a clue what I was doing, he was a good guy. The girls love him. Everything's good. Don't even bother going down there.

Dennis Littley: So, then I just kept training him and they got better and better. My last year there, I had students had been with me for four years. And, then fact we had a re-certification of the school and the school was given two points of excellence, one for the robotics team, which won national titles and one for the culinary team.

Dennis Littley: And, the girls actually had set the room, made most of the food, served the food and cleared the room because I was so sick. I was in the office just helping 'em if they had questions and they did everything. So it was, kind of fun to see how they progressed. And I wasn't trying to train many chefs.

Dennis Littley: I was trying to teach 'em the concept that food is not rocket science. It's food. You can make it. Let's see what we have in the refrigerator. So in the walkin and I would take him in there all, what do you wanna make today? What are you? Chicken. All right. Grab that. What do you wanna put with it? Broccoli.

Dennis Littley: All right. Grab that. Grab some mushrooms. What else do you wanna put in it? And then we'd go out and we'd create something with it, not all the time, but when days I hadn't set up a class criteria that was always the catch all and says, you know, you can make dinner really easily. It's not hard.

Dennis Littley: You just have to get a few key skills and you have to know how to get the food you're buying. Sourcing. It is always the biggest thing.

Greg Mills: How did you go from there to starting a blog and, YouTube channel and all of the ask shift in as productions?

Greg Mills: Well,

Dennis Littley: when I started the class, it was 2009 and blogging was brand new and, was the wild, wild west. And I saw it and I went, you know, I'm gonna start a blog. So the girls have somewhere to go to interact with me and engage with me and they can ask about recipes so they can tell me, cuz you can comment back and forth and stuff.

Dennis Littley: It wasn't a chat room, but it was kind of, above that. And of course, none of the girls ever wanted to go to it. They wanted to stop in the office and just talk to me directly. But kids in this school and teachers in this school. Because I would post what we were eating and they love me.

Dennis Littley: I wasn't feeding them what schools eat. I was feeding. 'em what I was used to making executives in restaurants. We having chicken Marcala and sushi and all kinds of things, you know? So they'd go for the recipes, and they'd how did you make that? Of course, they were more interested in like my peanut butter pie and things like that, but, they would go for those.

Dennis Littley: And then I joined a community of bloggers called food buzz, and that was basically the catalyst that made it possible to get in the right direction, to become a business. At that point, I had these grand aspirations, everybody does when they start something thinking, ah, they're gonna be the next best thing, or they're gonna be big.

Dennis Littley: Hardly ever happens that way or overnight or quickly, sometimes every now and then someone grabs that thunder immediately and just runs with it. But for me, it wasn't it, I was working 50 hours a week, I was trying to find time to create at home and take the pictures , and learn all the rest about blogging.

Dennis Littley: So it was a process. And then social media, how do I get in social media? And then it was just, it was a lot to do. And then, Google plus started. I think it was 2011. and I felt like I found my people , I had such a good time on there and I really, where I had been late to the game and all other social medias, I was on a level playing field.

Dennis Littley: It was brand new. And I went at it like nobody's business and became Philadelphia's power user. And I was rewarded by being featured as one of the people to follow along Anthony Bourdain and Rachel Ray and Martha Stewart and, uh Lagosi and all these big looking, how the hell did I get up there? You know?

Dennis Littley: And I started getting more followers and more followers, and I was doing all these live shows and it was just crazy. And then I was started getting requested to speak at conferences. So then I was making a conference tour and talking about things and I was getting more well known and I was picking up more FA so it wasn't making any money but.

Dennis Littley: I was laying the groundwork because I was still learning what I was doing. There was no manuals back then. there are some now, but there were no. And no one would tell you anything because they were afraid you were gonna steal their thunder, steal their business, which is the less truth you can say, because if you do good and you bring everybody up with you, everybody does good and rising tide raises all boats.

Dennis Littley: Who you think is your biggest competitor. I've said this for years should be your best friend. because you got the same thing in common, in interest and, you know, you can help each other really keep growing. If you don't fight and think they're trying to hurt you , or steal your recipe or, or something, you know, it just it's crazy.

Dennis Littley: So I worked on that premise and I helped a lot of people and it was always, what can we do for you? And I was like, nothing. I said, just pay it forward, just pay it forward. That's always been my premise for that. So eventually I got to the point, you know, someone would point me in another direction of an ad company that was really good.

Dennis Littley: And it was just beginning. It was called media vine. And it was, oh, they just starting out, but they really loved their people. And the, the president of the company was the one that actually set my blog up. That's how small they were at the time. Right. So I still remind him about that. He said, you remember you went in, I didn't know what was going on.

Dennis Littley: I said, please don't lose anything. You know, actually flying to Florida to look for a home. And it was the day that he did it and he is okay, you're all set up. Everything's good. And I think the first month with them, I made like $300 and I was like, oh my God, I've hit the big time. Cuz I was making maybe $50 before then with this other company I was doing great.

Dennis Littley: And I was like, wow. And you know, you just keep at it. I, I was retired at that point. We had moved to Florida. I had more time to commit to it I have people say, what do you do for a living? You're a blogger. And they kind of snicker a little bit, you know, until I tell 'em that they, how much I made last year.

Dennis Littley: And then they just look at me and go what

Greg Mills: how much did you make last year?

Dennis Littley: $417,000. Wow.

Greg Mills: That's nothing to snicker at.

Dennis Littley: No, I'm always all about full disclosure. The government knows, so I figure what the hell, I made more than I thought, cuz I owed the government a pretty good chunk of change at the end of the year and I paid them quarterly, but my accountant said.

Dennis Littley: Oh, my God. Congratulations. First of all, second of all, owe the government $57,000 more. so I was like, I made money. I gotta pay.

Dennis Littley: I paid them more last year than I made almost every year of my life, except for the last four, you know?

Dennis Littley: I started at the low end and it's just over the years, it's just increased and increased. Last year was a monumental year because, the COVID business really rolled for when COVID first hit. No one was paying us anything. We were getting traffic like mad, but they missed the early opportunity to really advertise through us because their budgets had been cut cuz they didn't know what was happening.

Dennis Littley: It was the end of the world, as we knew it at that point, when it first hit. Then when they realized, Hey, everybody's cooking. This is the best time to be advertising with blockers. So it just really built to a point. Now people are eating out more. So the business, I won't make that much, this year business is coming down a bit.

Dennis Littley: It'll still be good. it's not gonna be that good. Again, it did not happen overnight. I work 60 to 70 hours a week now. Okay. It's not, something that you can set more on autopilot and I probably don't have to work that much, but I'm kind of anal retentive about certain things.

Dennis Littley: I, have maybe 10 people that work for me in some capacity. So by pass some of it on, I have people that do all the back end, cuz I'm just not technical and watch it. And I have an attorney on staff, when I need it. And I have, all these different people when I need them.

Dennis Littley: Once you start. Making money and you really start paying the IRS, more than a couple bucks, you have to start thinking about, you know, I incorporated, I listed my company. I had a copyright on the name. That was the coolest thing. When I, that I hung up in my office was the copyright for as chef Dennis productions.

Dennis Littley: That was really cool. but it's a business, so you have to treat it as a business. You have to advertise I advertise on Google and it's finally started making a few dollars about a year ago. Up to that point, it was a loss. Because you have to work through it and you have to be there.

Dennis Littley: But again, advertising is an important thing because you have to be in front of people. Otherwise, if they don't know who you are, they can't find you Facebook thing thing, you have to advertise sometimes to get your name out there. And it's a part of business. When the companies hire me, I always include a portion of what I charge them for advertising.

Dennis Littley: Cuz I want to boost that post that I wrote for them, I wanted to do well, this is a business we're in this together. A lot of bloggers don't think that way a lot of bloggers just think about themselves and what's going in their pocket. So they don't get a lot of repeat business because of that, companies that work with me keep coming back because I spend money on what they're hiring me to do.

Dennis Littley: Yeah. Besides just putting it in my pocket and running with it. So I get them some incredible, return. So that's been good, but again, it's all a part of learning and it's, and finding some other people to bounce things off of. And then in any business you do, you have to do that. You have to have people, you feel comfortable enough with talking about your business.

Dennis Littley: So you can talk through all the problems you have and figure out solutions to them. And that's why I say your competitor, man, that should be your best friend. That should be the person you go out drinking with. If you do, because you can commiserate over business and then you can say, I did this last week, did it work?

Dennis Littley: Yeah, it worked, oh my God, I'm gonna try that. I tried this and it didn't work. So don't waste your time, and I'm usually stupid enough to try it anyway and I'll go, hell, you were right. It didn't work but. It's good to have those kind of people in your corner. And Google plus really gave that to me because I met people from all over the world and I still talk to some of them.

Dennis Littley: They're still my friends and they would write to me and say, Dennis, did you see this? This is new. I know, no, I didn't. This is great. Or a new social media. I'm like, I'm tired of social media now, but I went on, I'd get my name just to make sure no one else got my name and, see what happens.

Dennis Littley: But, yeah, it's community effort and it's a big time thing.

Greg Mills: Okay. Now you listed, a few of your sources of revenue. What are your different sources? And probably what's the large majority, I guess by percentage,

Dennis Littley: largest majority would be the ad revenue through media V and, that's probably about 85%.

Dennis Littley: It could be smaller, but I choose not to work as much. I'm very particular about who I work for. In terms of writing sponsored posts and I have a set rate and if I, they don't make my rate, I just don't bother with them. I don't have to. I could work a lot, lot more than I do, but I'm retired.

Dennis Littley: I keep telling people that they'll say, you know, we want you to do this where us, I go, I'm retired. Come on. We really want you, so I'll give 'em an outrageous price and they'll come back and go, okay. And I go, crap, you money still motivates me, even though I don't necessarily need to work that hard money is a great motivator money makes you know, I love doing what I'm doing and I would still, I might not do it as much, but I would still be doing it.

Dennis Littley: Even if I cuz there were all those years, I didn't make money and I was doing it. But money is a great motivator. Money gives you a reason to really keep digging in it. It pays for all the things that make you happy. So you can work, it pays for things for going out or doing things for traveling for seeing things.

Dennis Littley: So when I get to work, it's like, wow. And I get to work, it creates a reason to stay passionate about what you love doing. Where if I wasn't making money, I might not do it as much. I would still do it, but I would not be there as often as I am. I would not be, seen as much as I'm seen.

Dennis Littley: I would not be on podcast. Now my SEO guy says, you gotta go on podcast. He goes, your, your back links are horrible. We need to get you more back links. So you need to do podcasts. And I found out I love doing podcasts. This is fun. My wife goes, oh yeah, you get to talk about yourself right now.

Dennis Littley: I guess it is fun.

Greg Mills: yeah, I enjoy the people that I meet and that I would not talk to otherwise. Yeah. You know, you and I, probably could go out and have a beer or something, but absolutely. Our social circles probably would not intersect.

Greg Mills: No.

Dennis Littley: That's what I loved about Google plus. I had a show and I had these visions of, of greatness at that time, too. It was called good day, Google plus. And I'm thinking okay, once a week, but who knows maybe every day syndicated, and I'm like, and then after I got into it, it was like a lot of trouble.

Dennis Littley: There's no way, even if I could do it every day, would I? But when I got to meet people from all over the world and I'd usually put three or four of 'em in the room with me, and it was a good show if they just talked to each other, cuz they would ask each other and they were always different lines of business and see how they intersect.

Dennis Littley: And a lot of them went away as friends. That was the coolest thing. I introduced him to new friends. And if I, if you'd see me on the microphone going and I would just keep trying to say something and I never got a chance, it was a good show. If I had to talk consistently as was they weren't doing their part and it was not a good show.

Dennis Littley: So yeah.

Greg Mills: So you mentioned, this is not a fulltime gig, but you do work a lot of hours for it. How many hours a week do you probably work?

Dennis Littley: I work 50 to 60 hours a week.

Greg Mills: Easy. Scratch what I just said. no,

Dennis Littley: It's been a full time job since we moved to Florida in 2013 and now we're back in Jersey.

Dennis Littley: It has been my full-time job for almost 10 years. And it was easier for me to do. I had to quit working because of a series of injuries. My back was just a mess from being on those kind of floors, all my life from being on concrete floors. Even with mats, I had torn a rotator cuff in September and I didn't get it looked at till June.

Dennis Littley: It got better and then it got worse. and then it didn't want to get better. I had had two carpal tunnel surgeries on my right hand and I needed a third and they don't do a third, so I couldn't hold on to things. I couldn't stand for a lot of time. I couldn't lift my left arm above my head really well.

Dennis Littley: I was becoming more of, an accident waiting to happen at that point. I went to the best surgeons in Philadelphia and they're going, oh, we can't do anything for you. I'm going, I can't work like this. And then finally, I went to an attorney because I didn't know what else to do.

Dennis Littley: And he goes, you're done. He goes, do you want to be a cripple? And I went, no. And he goes, well, you're done, you are done until your body can recover and get better. You are done. So that got me to Florida and I couldn't work as much as I wanted to so that I got to sit at a desk easy enough.

Dennis Littley: So that gave me time to really work on social media more and on the blog more and spend, it was a different kind of hours. Like right now I probably spend 10 to 12 hours a week actually cooking. And the rest of it is working on the images that I take, editing them, writing the blog posts, working with the people that work with me.

Dennis Littley: I have a, girl that reshoots all of my old desserts because I had a blood sugar problem a couple years ago because in the pandemic, cuz I was eating way too much. Cakes and things I was baking. So she re now she reduced all my old posts, so I don't have to eat the whole cake anymore, force myself to eat the whole cake making sure that hers are done right.

Dennis Littley: And then editing her pictures and doing things. There's a lot that goes into it.

Greg Mills: Well, you've mentioned carpal tunnel. Is this not affecting your, keyboarding skills

Dennis Littley: actually it's pretty good. It's these years, just getting out of the kitchen, cuz everything you do in the kitchen, all the cutting, all the cooking, stirring, everything was with your hands every now and then I get a little bit, of a twinge.

Dennis Littley: I actually was having a problem with my right hand about two years ago. So I moved my mouse over to the. Which was quite an adjustment, took a long time to get used to that. Yeah. But I got it. And uh, now it's back on the right. It has been. I don't spend more than a bike.

Dennis Littley: I said 10 to 12 hours a week, actually. the most I cook is dinner every night. And then I try to write two to three new post a week. They're an hour or two there, generally. One of the things I specialize in with my blog and why I am popular is I do restaurant style recipes.

Dennis Littley: I do a lot of restaurant style and in a restaurant, what we cook does not take a lot of time. Otherwise we couldn't turn the dining room over and over and over and get people in so we can make money. So most of the things I cook take under 30 minutes, that's with the prep work involved, in the restaurant, the prep work's done earlier, or people are doing it constantly while you're cooking.

Dennis Littley: But the actual cooking of the food shouldn't take more than about 10 to 15 minutes, 20 minutes tops, depending on what you're cooking. So that's what a lot of my recipes are, and that's why they're popular. Cuz people can come home from work. They can just throw something together really easily and quick, or they can prep it the night before, even if it has to sit for a while and come in and cook it when they come home.

Dennis Littley: That style of cooking doesn't require as much work, you know, where I was making a hundred or 200 or something I don't have to do better anymore. It's two. So it, it doesn't take cutting is done in, in five minutes, you know, chopping is done maybe in 10 if it's not making a soup, but, so it doesn't require as much work.

Greg Mills: What are some of the different food trends that you've seen come and go over the years?

Dennis Littley: I keep seeing new equipment, like SUID was real big and SU is great if you like it, I old school. And to me, when you cook SU you're actually putting in a plastic bag and you're immersing it in water and you're boiling it for no, for lack of a better term, but it cooks completely evenly.

Dennis Littley: So if you want medium rare from end to end, the steak is gonna be medium rare, but when it comes down of that bag, you still gotta throw it in a pan because you've got no color to it. And you got. Caramelization, on the protein from natural sugars in it or the fish. So it's flat. So it still has to go and reverse what they call reverse.

Dennis Littley: So I'm thinking, well, why don't I just S it, put it in the oven and I'm done with it, and I don't need another step for more equipment. The next thing was the instant pot and I of course always buy them and I use them, and then I sell them because I don't like them. I bought the instant pot and it took longer to heat up than it did to cook something in it.

Dennis Littley: So that went away. But people lo you know, people that don't have time, find ways to use these to their advantage. It's just like the, slow cooker kind of thing. I see no real reason to use a slow cooker cuz I'm home. Right. And I have a Dutch oven and if I wanna slow cook something, I do it the old fashioned way.

Dennis Littley: I put it in the Dutch oven and put it in the oven. I did a cooking class with 16 hundreds cooking, 17 hundreds cooking. And I found out what a Dutch oven was really used for the woman. We made a soup, but then she made a molasses pie that she made in a Dutch oven and she drug coals out of the fire onto the, brick hearth and then she put the Dutch oven on top of the coals and then she covered it with more coals.

Dennis Littley: So that's how they baked. So I was like, wow, this is really amazing. I'm glad I don't live in this

Greg Mills: time.

Dennis Littley: And then the next thing again is the air fryer. Well, with the instant pot though, I see recipes. And I go just because you can cook it in the instant pot doesn't necessarily mean it's a good idea.

Dennis Littley: Like people cooking spaghetti and meatballs, one pot, and the spaghetti's gonna be in there for, I don't know how long, well, what's it gonna, it's gonna be mush. It's gonna be horrible. The air, Fryer's actually pretty cool. It's a toaster oven on steroids that gets really, really hot.

Dennis Littley: It's a small space, so that heat is blasting what you're cooking in it. So you don't really need a lot of oil because it's getting that intense heat in a small area. I have two of them. I have one here. I had one that I'd sold and I liked it. It really cooked. Cool. But boy, it stun up the kitchen.

Dennis Littley: I mean all the, the smell from the odor and everything so I'm thinking, oh, let me just do it in the oven. It's just, again, old habits die hard. Now I still have one here that I love ninja stuff. Ninja makes things and they never just do one thing. Okay. So I have a grill. That's an air fryer. I think it's a slow cooker.

Dennis Littley: Every piece of equipment they make these days does like eight or nine things. Which is cool for someone who has a small kitchen. but again, if you find a piece of equipment that works for you, I always tell people just because I don't like it doesn't mean it's not good.

Dennis Littley: It's just me being me. Right. So if it works for you more power to you,

Greg Mills: That, that brings up an interesting point. How have you defined your target? Market your target consumer, and how do you come up with compelling content for them?

Dennis Littley: That's a good question. And it's one that I debate with other food bloggers all the time.

Dennis Littley: On the compelling content, my niche is restaurant style recipes. My niche is, quick under 30, although I never really took advantage of it until recently under 30 minute meals. But easy recipes that don't have for the most part, not a lot of ingredients.

Dennis Littley: The people I'm looking for is for good, authentic cooking that you can do at home and kinda look like the superstar when you get done. I'm not teaching to make something that looks like it came out of a can or, that's fast food. I'm making I'm teaching to make something that looked like you got it, your favorite Italian restaurant or better.

Dennis Littley: So that's my niche. So developing that niche and actually what got me, a lot of people was a dessert I make at TSU . I used to be number one I was number one in TSU forever. And then the New York times and the Washington post and the food network all started doing recipes and bumped me down and bumped me down, out of the number one position, but that, every day of the year, that was my biggest post.

Dennis Littley: So people would come see that and they would look for something else. So that was a big help for me. Now, when you asked about how I make compelling recipes? Well, a lot of my friends have a tool that's called SCM rush and you search keywords. And you find out what keywords have the most appeal.

Dennis Littley: So if I wanted to do a chicken recipe and I would say, chicken, par chicken cord on blue, which ones I just made, things like that. And, that doesn't get enough search volume that that's only looking at, 1200 hits a month. That's not worth my trouble. Chicken frequency, that's getting a hundred thousand, right.

Dennis Littley: I'm gonna make that well, that's how a lot of other bloggers operate. I go, what do I feel like eating? Or, my friends are coming over? What should I make for them? That's how I pick my recipes. I make what I've eaten out and I wanna recreate, I make something that I'd forgotten about and wanna make again or things.

Dennis Littley: Just something new. . I go through a lot of magazines and I look at pictures. We're very visual people. In fact, there's a saying in food, as you eat with your eyes, So I always tell people, to make it a little pretty, take a minute. My wife laughs at me cuz I still grab a napkin or paper towel and I wipe the plate after I've, after I played it to make sure it's not filled across it.

Dennis Littley: And then a little fresh parsley to make it perk a little bit or something else for some color, a few seconds worth of work can make all the difference when you present something and people go, Ooh, pretty, eat with your eyes first, then the aroma and then the taste.

Dennis Littley: So it just builds, it's a sensory thing. Food is sensory. So. I pick my recipes based on what I like to eat and I like to eat. It's like, Ooh, I found a new company to get pork from. Let's see what we can make,

Greg Mills: Does your wife, does she know how good she's got it?

Greg Mills: Yeah,

Dennis Littley: she does. She would cook for herself when she was single and we talk about those days and, I think the first time I went over to her apartment or house, she had like four. Open bottles of Ragoo or some jarred sauce, that had been sitting in there for God knows how long, she doesn't eat that way anymore.

Dennis Littley: We always talk about that. I didn't marry you because you can cook. I says, I know that I says, but it's a fringe benefit of it. When we first met, she wouldn't eat lobster. Well, I changed that yeah, there were things she wouldn't eat. I taught her how to enjoy, , blue cheese. When we first started eating, she would not touch it.

Dennis Littley: And then I introduced her in what I call the gateway cheese, which was go Zola. But the Dolche the sweet, it's not really sweet, but it's not age as much. You spread it on kind of like butter. Ooh, this is good. We would try a little, the pecans, its aged a little bit longer. Oh, I like the other one, but then she would try that and then blue cheese and then we were on a cruise and she got to try rope for, she goes, oh, this is really good.

Dennis Littley: You know like ha ha ha. My job is done. .

Greg Mills: Well, that brings up an interesting point. We had taken a trip to Europe. It was our first trip ever to Europe abroad and we went to Switzerland. We visited LAER um, which I believe you also enjoyed. Yes. Love LAER. What was your favorite travel adventure that you've done so far so

Dennis Littley: far?

Dennis Littley: Ooh, well, I will always love Paris. Paris is my favorite city. I've been there four times and, uh, it was the first place my wife and I ever went to together. Our first trip. There's so many. I there's so many thanks from each one. I love Italy. I love Italian food. the last one we went to was we went from the , Trento district of Italy, which is up closer to Switzerland.

Dennis Littley: That was amazing. Oh, the cheese is, there were just great. Every region and, and she laughs when we go out to eat because every meal I have while I'm having it and the chef is there talking to me and sharing some things with me is the best meal I've ever had, until, cause I get so into it until later on, I can say, all right, well, I could have done this or maybe this, but I embrace every travel adventure.

Dennis Littley: Our first Viking cruise was probably one of the most memorable events of my life. I had just started travel blogging. And I had started to get some renowned, not a lot, but some, and I got an email from Viking saying, you fit our, criteria. You know, they went, yay. I'm old. Okay. Number one.

Dennis Littley: And number two. Oh my God. It's liking. And first cruise, they upgraded, we walked in and it's just, I hope you don't mind. We upgraded you to a suite. Oh my God. Damn nothing in storage, and it was like, oh my God, I could live like this. And, we couldn't pay for anything. They were just so kind.

Dennis Littley: And the chefs taking me into the kitchen and the one manager saying, what's he doing here? He shouldn't be in here. And he just went like that to the guy. And he turned to me, goes, just be careful. But it was just magical. I had no idea. We did a big cruise and I, we both came off the, the big ship cruise going.

Dennis Littley: I don't think we're cruise people. Because we like to get out and about and see, and with the locals and really do our thing and just adventure. Well, with Viking, we pulled up to the port, right to the dock right off of, we were in, Vienna, you know, the cities like that or Budapest. And we were right in the middle of town.

Dennis Littley: We get off the ship and walk right into town. And it was like, oh my God. And eat wherever we wanted. If we didn't want to eat on the ship and they'd take us out and show us the sites first and then cut us loose. It was like, damn, this is great. I, I think that if I look back as probably the most memorable, but every trips blue se was amazing, Switzerland was just expensive, but amazing.

Dennis Littley: Italy, every part of Italy from Rome to, Venice to the Al coast to we had the trip of a lifetime plan. When COVID hit, we were going to do Sicily for a conference first, stay there and then go up to Rome and just hang out for a week and then go over to Croatia. And we're picking up a cruise that was gonna go all the way around Italy and stop it everywhere we'd been.

Dennis Littley: Or, and hadn't been, and then go to niece, back to Denise. We were in niece before and it was, and then COVID hit. And I was like, ah, can't do it. But you know, the trips, Greece, we went to Greece and it was, I don't know if I'd go back, but it was an amazing trip. You know, I, I, I have the allure Europe just, just pulls to me, you know, Italy pulls to me, France, Spain.

Dennis Littley: We were in Madrid and I could live in Madrid. The thing I found. The most interesting about Madrid was like, it was being in New York city, but everybody was happy. they were smiling, they were laughing. They were out 11, 12 o'clock at night, the streets were packed and they all dressed like Americans, like where you go to France they're Europeans.

Dennis Littley: Oh no, they don't dress like us. You know, Italy, they, they have that little sauce, you know, the SVA fair that they dress like England, they had their own, but, and Madrid was like, big look just like us.

Dennis Littley: I think one of the monumental times for me was I forget where we were.

Dennis Littley: I think it was in France somewhere and someone stopped asked me for directions. Cause they thought I was French. I was like, Ooh . But yeah. As soon as I spoke, they just like, oh, went never mind. Sorry. Yeah. And I

Dennis Littley: was like, oh my God, they either they can't see her. Or I look very dapper today.

Greg Mills: yeah, we'll go with dapper.

Dennis Littley: Yeah. That was what I always try, you know, go with dapper, but you know, travel has been a fun travel. Doesn't pay the bills. Food pays the bills. I was called the accidental travel blog. I had a friend, I just moved to Orlando area and I had a friend, , tell me that a hotel or, a property on the beach on the Atlantic coast was looking for bloggers.

Dennis Littley: And I says, I'm not a travel blogger. She goes no, just apply. Just apply. I sent my information over a couple weeks later. I get a note saying, oh, we'd love to host you. You know, once you come over and I got the last room they had, and it was on the third floor and it wasn't a real pretty room cuz they were redoing the levels.

Dennis Littley: They had the start of the first ground level and they hadn't gotten to the second yet, but they had put in nine foot sliding glass doors, these European windows, doers that they had. And I'm standing at the door, looking out at the ocean and it kind of clicked for me. I went, can do this, is that build it?

Dennis Littley: And they will come right about it and they will send you. So I started working in the state of Florida and I always tell people, if you wanna be a travel blogger, start local, write about your city and then go to the next city over and write about that. And then the next one over, and then take something a few hours and just start building your sphere of influence of what you're known for.

Dennis Littley: So we did that in Florida. You know, Florida is a huge state though. So I was going more than the next city I was going to where this one select group of hotels they were all boutique hotels. So I would stay, I would write to the man at the one that was doing all their PR and say, I want, a hotel for at least four nights on either the golf or the Atlantic.

Dennis Littley: Well, the first time she says, okay, I got one on the golf and one on the Atlantic. I went, oh my goodness. So I took both. And then after that says, okay, I have one in the Atlantic and one in the Gulf, so then I just started asking for it and they kept sending me. And then I spoke at the governor's conference on tourism one year in Florida.

Dennis Littley: And I was someone reached out to me and I said, are you sure you have the right person says, yeah, we want you to speak at the governor's conference. So I was like, okay. And then that's when the Viking thing happened and then that escalated. And then I found another travel company, uh, that would send me places and other cruise lines would send me places and.

Dennis Littley: It just became a lot of fun, and we would go to Europe and we would try to stay for four to six weeks, however long we could get. So we wouldn't have to fly back over again and build stuff around that. Some of it on our own, some of it on, on the companies, you know? Okay.

Greg Mills: Now what are some, what are two or three tips that you've got that you could give regarding SEO that you found really moved the needle?

Dennis Littley: Well, the biggest move for me was I hired a gentleman named Casey marque. , he does audits on blocks and when I got 'em, the first time I got 'em, it was, I think it was $900. And I was like, oh my God, it's a lot of money to pay. I wasn't making very much, well, best money I ever spent.

Dennis Littley: That was, I think in April I had the audit in may my, uh, revenue doubled. And in June and July it quadruple. So having someone who knew SEO and helped me fix a lot of the obvious errors that I had no idea what they were getting a pair of eyes on there, you know, there's a lot of people out there that pretend to know SEO too.

Dennis Littley: So you gotta be careful who you pick. I had a good friend named David Alin, who, who did a lot about, Google semantics search. It was always a joke. I said, on a good day, I can spell SEO. I don't know a whole lot I've since learned quite a bit, but I still am nowhere near.

Dennis Littley: That level that, Casey is, and he is a good guy and he, again, he says, well, you can do it this way, but I sure wouldn't. He goes, if you wanna make some money, you wanna get some presence. And part of it is always staying on top of the algorithm, changes that Google does. I I've only been affected by one of them so far, and that was last November.

Dennis Littley: People are just crying the blues when they change the algorithms. And it's writing for Google. You have to kinda change your method, about placing keywords and I have no problem using keywords. I have a tool that I use called rank IQ, which is really, not expensive.

Dennis Littley: And you get a good idea of other words that should be in your post. And that helps Google find it easier. It's not like I'm, scheming the system or playing the system. I'm letting Google know what I'm writing about more so that they actually show it. So you have to learn these kind of tips and tricks.

Dennis Littley: There we go to, to make yourself more visible. And that's the same thing with social media. People say, oh, you're using social media. You're playing a game. I says, no, I'm not. I'm advertising. Social media is free. Advertis. And if you don't take advantage of it, you know, you're just being foolish because Facebook used to really be good now it's you gotta pay for what you want.

Dennis Littley: And then again, I have no problem doing that. If it's for a client, I don't do it for myself, but, Twitter, Instagram, even Pinterest is coming back. I just hired someone to put more of my posts on Pinterest Google stories is big right now. So I have someone that writes, does the stories for me and puts 'em up and you'll see them, if you have Google search on your not search, but. The little advertise, not advertisements post that they have on different topics that you might look at.

Dennis Littley: If I swipe left on my screen, I get all these Google things and I'll show up there in stories sometimes, and I'll see myself. So it's a good way to get people, to see you, to find you cuz otherwise, the type of advertising we used to do has changed. we don't do newspaper, we don't do radio.

Dennis Littley: TV is just too expensive. So social media is your advertising.

Greg Mills: It's 20, 22. When we're recording this, what has been the online platform that has really moved your business, forward the most lately? Obviously logging know was early on. I,

Dennis Littley: I think the biggest boon to my business these days has been, Google stories.

Dennis Littley: Web stories they're starting to cool off a little bit, but over the past year, they have really been hot and they're still doing pretty good for me, but I'm getting hundreds of thousands of impressions on my web stories and that means people are finding me through that medium and finding you as part of the battle, getting them interested enough.

Dennis Littley: To look at something else is what you need to do at that point. And then it becomes playing a little bit of a game in how you set up your blog and what you feature in it. And new techniques that, that you use. Like, we used to put links in the blog. If you enjoyed this, you might like this. Well, now there's a new option in there.

Dennis Littley: It's called FSRI, which lets you put pictures and we are visual. We've talked about that. People eat with their eyes. So instead of just having a link that says chicken par, now you've got a picture of chicken par you know, so I have four pictures so people can Ooh, bright, shiny. Look at that. Let me click on that.

Dennis Littley: I kind of put my eggs in Google baskets because I don't think they're going away.

Greg Mills: No, no, not anytime

Dennis Littley: soon. I mean, Facebook. I used to have, I have almost a million followers on Facebook. I would've had, if I had kept going the way I had been, but that just kind of dried out Instagram since Facebook took it has, has dried out a little bit.

Dennis Littley: Pinterest, hot and cold used to be great. Now it's coming back a little bit. So the only thing you really have control over is your site, your blog, and also your email list. , email list is the only thing you. Really when it comes down to it. So you have to work on that. Again, I was terrible at that.

Dennis Littley: So I hired someone three years ago and she's been a godsend and has writes my email. In fact, she just mentioned that we moved, she, she writes 'em shoes. As many of you know, I was in Florida, we just moved back to New Jersey, yada, yada I'm like, oh, I love her. You know, she just writes, she knows I'm a Dallas cowboy fan and it pains her to write about it because she's an Eagle fan, but, you know, she will, uh, she'll mention that occasionally.

Dennis Littley: Um,

Greg Mills: give her a special assignment for when Dallas plays Philly.

Dennis Littley: I don't even ask then. Cause I don't wanna rock the boat. I'll put on a, Eagles Jersey. If it means she keeps writing for me, you know, smart man. She's good. She's really good.

Dennis Littley: I'm lucky I have some really good people that work for me. It's not been like they were the first person I hired and in her case she was the second one. The first one was horrible and she worked out really well, but in finding people to do pictures for me has been a struggle. This is like the eighth person, but she's been working for me for about a year and a half now.

Dennis Littley: She's really good. So, you know, it's finding that right person that can talk in your voice or can take something that looks like something you would do, uh, finding those right matches is, is not always easy, but when you do, you have to pay em for it. That's okay.

Greg Mills: Well, what are you working on now?

Greg Mills: That's new and exciting.

Dennis Littley: Well, we just got back in New Jersey a week ago. All of our stuff is coming tomorrow. We're going, getting put in storage. The crazy thing is when you pack up your house and you have 45 bins, we didn't even move furniture, 45 bins of stuff, and you don't miss anything after you've packed them away.

Dennis Littley: That's when you question your sanity. But I have my cam, some of my other cameras coming for doing more video. I want to do some more video I've been outsourcing it and it's just, I have not been happy with the results of video. So I think it's something I need to do. I was really into video.

Dennis Littley: And then when Facebook made it super easy, I stopped doing video. And the days of Google plus I loved it and I did a lot of it. So maybe it's time I get back into it, set something up in my kitchen. But other than that, I'm having fun. The pandemic reminded me that I loved to cook up to that point.

Dennis Littley: I was so busy with social media and everything else and travel. And we went out to eat way too much, cuz I was tired and the pandemic hit and I had to start cooking dinner every night. All of a sudden I'm going, you know, I really like doing this. I really enjoy cooking. It's fun. It's relaxing for me. It's my therapy and shopping was the other therapy.

Dennis Littley: So when I got to actually go back in the grocery store, that was a big relief too. Although I did learn to use Instacart and I do enjoy not having to go for everything.

Dennis Littley: Again, I found online companies for some of the meats and seafood that worked out really, really well.

Dennis Littley: So, just getting back into it, and start cooking regularly and creating new dishes and see what I can come up with. , what other things now I'm gonna start dwelling more on chicken, cuz I find those posts do better because chicken's less expensive. Let's face it. So I'm gonna start working on that and maybe, and, and sometimes I think I try to get not fancy, but too restaurant like.

Dennis Littley: You know, some of my dishes and they're great and they don't really don't take that long, but a lot of people just eat more plain. Do I have a recipe just how to prepare chicken thighs or chicken breast? No, I don't. , or quarters of chicken or, and I like to put things in, well, if you like that, you can also do this, this and this to it.

Dennis Littley: You know, if you just don't want it plain, you know, you offer

Greg Mills: suggestions. So that could be kinda like your gateway, I guess.

Dennis Littley: Yes. You pull 'em in with something and then you give them the rest of the flash, you know? Sometimes I think I take too much for granted.

Dennis Littley: Like I know how to cook. I've been doing it for so many years, but maybe if I can show you how to make really, really good, just chicken quarters. You know that you'd be very happy with, with not having to buy a rotiserie chicken. And they're really good at the grocery store by the way, but not have to buy one and make it yourself.

Dennis Littley: No, Jeff Dennis loves it. RO good rotiserie chicken. Um, scandal

Greg Mills: alert.

Dennis Littley: yeah. Oh yeah. I used to, the Costco had the best ones for a while. I'm telling you Sam's club, but, to make things at home, then go, okay, you really did well with that. Now. Next time you make it, let's use lemon pepper on it. Okay. And I go, Ooh, that was pretty TA you don't like lemon pepper.

Dennis Littley: How about oldey put old bay on it. I never thought of that. Wow. Let's try that. You know, different things. So you're having chicken quarters again, but they don't taste the same. All right. Now, You're tired of that. Now let's try something else. Let's brush 'em with a little tomato paste, or maybe let's put 'em in with some onions and carrots and cover it and foil, and let's bake them a little, let's get a little different flavor to it.

Dennis Littley: Something that's still not gonna take any different time, but again, like my wife with the gateway cheese, you get them hooked on something and thinking, yeah, I really do like that. And then you move 'em onto the next item. And then the next thing you know, they're using a Dutch oven to cook with.

Dennis Littley: So it's like now they're and they're having fun. So that's the best thing. All right.

Greg Mills: What's your number one skill, and weakness. And obviously cooking would probably be your number one, but I'm gonna force you to pick something else as well.

Dennis Littley: Well, in cooking, my number one skill is knowing what food should you should add to it.

Dennis Littley: I had a teacher a long time ago. Mama Jeanette. And she told me, she goes sunny. She's called me sunny boy, sunny boy, if you listen to the food, it'll tell you what it wants. Know, and I'm looking at her going, okay. She says, no, if you listen to the food, it'll tell you what it wants. And that's what I do.

Dennis Littley: I'll just be looking at it sometimes and I'll know what it needs, know what it wants. So, you know, listen to it, look at it, smell it, see it, feel it. And it'll kind of tell you in the direction. So that is my gift. I, I had learned that it's not something that everybody can do or wants to do but it's, that is my strength when it comes to cooking.

Dennis Littley: Other than that, I think my only other strength would be that I learned how to talk to groups. I learned how to talk, just like we're doing my first Google plus videos were painful, were horrible. And now I've gotten better at. Yeah, those would be my strengths.

Greg Mills: Okay. What about weaknesses?

Dennis Littley: Weaknesses? Oh, I hate asking for money. Well, I

Greg Mills: know you're a, I know you're a Cowboys fan, so that's one. What else? Yeah.

Dennis Littley: that's and I readily admit that I am a Cowboys fan true and blue through the bad times, which they've been mostly bad, but, except for my Troy Aman era but selling myself is my weakness.

Dennis Littley: Believe it or not selling myself to brands. I get a lot of what people refer to as an imposter syndrome where you really don't think you're as good as everyone thinks you are crazy. I know. I think that's my weakness. And because of that, I don't feel adequate when I. When I, talk to brands or I push to brands and I'm like, okay, and it's kind of, my fail safe is kind of like asking for more money than they really have.

Dennis Littley: So they can just deny me and say no, and then I don't have to deal with it. Um, and then when they come back and say, okay, and I'm going, oh,

Greg Mills: what a great fell safe to have.

Dennis Littley: Know, I know. And I tell people that too. I says, you know, I told one of my friends that I says, tell 'em, you know, she was working for nothing.

Dennis Littley: And I says, tell 'em, you know, things are just nuts. They want too much of her time. I says, triple your rate and say, I'm sorry, but my, uh, general manager says, I can't do that anymore. My account says, I can't, this is what the rate is now. And if they say, yes, you gotta go damn, but then at least you're getting what you deserve.

Dennis Littley: Cause she wants to lose them. I said, well, that's the easiest way to do it. They'll either walk away or they'll pay it. And if they pay it and well, other problems solved too, you know, so

Greg Mills: exactly. Let's get ready to wrap this up. Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd asked you that you'd like to talk about?

Dennis Littley: No, we, we covered a lot of stuff. Starting a business, you know, if you wanna be an entrepreneur, try it, again, people, you don't fail unless you try. You never know unless you try and you're gonna fail. I failed the first six, seven years really? Cuz I was learning what I was doing.

Dennis Littley: I wasn't fully vested in it and I was trying, but I wasn't trying as best as I could. And there were a lot, a lot of failures in there, but I just kept working at it. I didn't start a new business. I just kept refining it, refining it, refining it and fixing it. So you learn as you go or , maybe what you thought was a good idea.

Dennis Littley: Really wasn't so you, but you learn something from it. every failure teaches you something. Okay. It's an opportunity. So, , if you want to be your own boss, I'm telling you I could not work for someone else anymore, but I'm a slave driver, so I don't mind working for me, but I mean, there's some days it's just being able to control what you do and when you do it, there's a lot to be said for that.

Greg Mills: Okay. What's the number one piece of advice that you can give for our listeners and you may have just given it,

Dennis Littley: I think that was it. Don't be afraid to try, if there's something you really want to do, you know, don't quit your day job but try it. And who knows, you know, I love seeing those success stories, nobody starts out being a blogger.

Dennis Littley: It's always their, doing it. They're trying to pick it up. I'm leaving my six figure job at this company because I can blog now full time, it's like, you hear that and you go, oh my God, I don't know if I would've ever done that, but good for you.

Dennis Littley: But they find peace in that. Because again, you, you quality of life. I always tell people don't ever get a job just for money. Money's great. But if you're only working for money, your quality of life's gonna suck. Cuz eventually you'll become hating yourself and you'll hate everything you do. Like where I wake up in the morning now I'm still happy because I get to cook today or I'm going to eat today.

Dennis Littley: So for me it worked out really, really well. But you know, if you like flowers, you know, you can blog about anything and people will read them, you know, uh, the, the different topics that are available for you, if you're passionate and I always tell people, 40 is a good time. To start planning for your future.

Dennis Littley: 35 is better. And I tell people that want to be blogger. So I says, look, start now. Don't quit your day job. Let's plan for your future. So that when you're 50, they can be mailing those checks to the beach, to you where wherever, whatever island you're on, they direct deposit really, really nicely.

Dennis Littley: Doesn't matter where

Greg Mills: you are. Exactly.

Dennis Littley: Just start creating and start that path. So when you reach the age, like I retired late, but maybe you can retire at 50 instead of 60. If you get to that point, so start work for long game, don't think you're gonna go out and make an immediate killing, cuz you're not, and it's gonna be painful.

Dennis Littley: Amen. be real. And the lessons are gonna be painful and you're gonna cry because you think you should be better than you are. And that doesn't happen. It's gonna take two to three years to get people to really. It gets you really rolling, honestly, you know, especially the, as it gets saturated, but in whatever you choose, you know, I have friends that like a tar blogger, an automotive blogger, people read everything, you know, I think that's,

Greg Mills: podcasting's great too.

Greg Mills: Yeah. I think that's actually the, another addiction, you know, people are addicted to content.

Dennis Littley: And again, short bites, like I, I run into problems with travel bloggers that would kind of, and I never said I am not. I'm not a, a writer. I'm not a travel writer. I am a blogger. I'm not gonna give you the great American novel.

Dennis Littley: I'm not gonna write 20,000 words on a city. I'm gonna tell you what I like to eat. What you can eat there. What's fun to do there. You know, I had some guy say, you know, he was at six UNESCO sites and never mentioned, but he talked about all the food he had. I, well, yeah, that's what I do. I'm a food writer, you know, everybody else knows why the escal sites are there.

Dennis Littley: Why do I have to mention them? You know, exactly, but right. About what your passion is, whatever, if it's quilting, you know, there's people out there and it does not matter. There's people out there, if you are passionate about what you do and you do. Regularly. That's the big key, whether it's one post a week, two posts a week, three post a week, do it regularly.

Dennis Littley: One post every two weeks, do it regularly and start building your email list. And then gradually, three years, depending on how fast you want it to move three years, five years, 10 years. By that time, you know, you got an income coming in. You can go sit on a beach and drink margaritas

Greg Mills: sounds good.

Greg Mills: Well, what's the best way for people to check you out and get in touch with you, chef Dennis? Well,

Dennis Littley: I am ask chef dennis.com and, my email's out there too on the page. And you can find me on social media as ask chef Dennis. All right. I'm pretty much everywhere.

Greg Mills: All right. Well, that's a wrap.

Greg Mills: Thank you, chef Dennis for being my guest on entrepreneurs over 40.

Dennis Littley: My pleasure, Greg. Thanks for having me.

Dennis Littley Profile Photo

Dennis Littley

CEO

Dennis Littley is the founder and CEO of Ask Chef Dennis Productions where he runs one of the most successful food blogs in the world. With over one million followers on social media and almost 10 million page views annually, he has built a loyal following that use his recipes and cooking tips in their home kitchens to feed their family and friends easy-to-make restaurant-style dishes at a fraction of the cost of eating out.

Chef Dennis also works with travel companies and cruise lines showcasing their travel opportunities as he shares his travel adventures and the deliciousness he's enjoying as he travels the world.