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#282: How to Build a Successful Influencer Brand

Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast! In this episode, I had the pleasure of interviewing KariAnne Wood, the creator of Thistlewood Farms, a creative lifestyle blog.

We talked about her inspiring weight loss journey and how she became a successful fashion influencer. We also delved into the world of affiliate marketing and selling digital products.

KariAnne shared some valuable insights on how to promote products that you genuinely love and trust, and how to leverage social media to maximize your affiliate marketing efforts.

We also talked about the amazing benefits of MiloTree and MiloTreeCart – two of my businesses – for bloggers and influencers who want to grow their email lists and sell digital products.

The key takeaway from this episode is that building a personal connection with your audience is crucial to growing an authentic and successful business.

So, whether you’re a blogger, influencer, or entrepreneur, make sure to prioritize your audience and find ways to serve them in a genuine and meaningful way.

How to Build a Successful Influencer Brand | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Show Notes:

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Intro (00:00:03) – Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast, brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Jillian Leslie (00:00:11) – Hello my friends. Welcome back to this show. I am Jillian Leslie. I am a blogger and a serial entrepreneur. I started with my husband in 2009 when we launched Catch My Party, and we have grown it into the largest party idea site on the web. 

If you need Father’s Day printables and ideas head over there. Next, we launched our pop-up app called MiloTree. That is the easiest way to grow your social media followers and email subscribers. You just install it on your blog and it works. 

Why We Built MiloTreeCart

And now we’ve launched MiloTreeCart, which is the easiest way to sell digital products to your audience. Someone recently reached out to me and asked me why we built MiloTreeCart, and I said it was because you guys asked us to. 

Bloggers and creators kept reaching out to me saying they wanted to start memberships. They wanted to sell digital downloads. They had all these ideas, but handling the tech was just too much. 

So, David and I took a step back. We’d already built our pop-up app, which is so simple to use, that’s really our special sauce. And we thought, hey, could we build a tool that bloggers and creators could use to sell digital products and services simply? 

And I think we have, and by the way, we know tech is hard. It’s hard for everybody. So, if this is speaking to you, if you want to tap into a new way to serve your people, solve problems, and make real money, please go check out milotreecart.com, sign up.

Go use our free hosted sales pages, set up products, start getting traction, and start building your digital product Empires. 

I reach out to our MiloTreeCart customers to get feedback, and I always hear the same two things. One, your platform is so simple to use. And two, you guys go above and beyond with your customer service. If this resonates with you, please go to milotreecart.com. 

If you want to get on a call with me to talk about all of this, head to milotree.com/meet. And maybe I’ll even give you some digital product ideas. 

For today’s episode. I have my good friend KariAnne Wood on the show. This is her third appearance. She is the creator, founder, blogger behind Thistlewood Farms, and I’ve watched her whole evolution. 

I’m going to put links to her first two episodes in the show notes. But this episode, I think, is so transformative because KariAnne shares her weight loss journey, and she’s an open book about it. 

And then how she leaned into being a fashion influencer. What I love about this episode is KariAnne shares step by step how she figured out affiliate marketing and selling digital products. This is so inspiring. I promise you’re going to want to take notes. 

So without further delay, here is my episode with KariAnne Wood. KariAnne, welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast.

KariAnne Wood (00:03:35) – Thank you so much. I’m so happy to be here.

Jillian Leslie (00:03:39) – It’s so nice to reconnect with you because we’ve been just emailing over the course of the pandemic. To be honest, just to be on a Zoom, to have an excuse, to be on a Zoom call, I think is so incredible.

KariAnne Wood (00:03:54) – Oh, you are so sweet. You are one of my favorite people. I love talking with you. I think what people don’t know is before we even hopped on here, we had probably a 30 minute just debriefing on our lives. 

And I’m already so full of joy and happiness to be here. Thank you so much for having me. I really appreciate it. 

Jillian Leslie (00:04:12) – I think, maybe your third or fourth appearance actually on the podcast. We started with your books a long time ago, and then we were talking about affiliate marketing, but we are going to go deep into affiliate marketing. 

First, will you just give people a very brief background of who you are and what you do, and then we’re going to talk about how you have found these, I don’t if they’re secrets, but really ways of tapping into what people want to buy and being able to monetize off of that.

KariAnne Wood (00:04:45) – My name is KariAnne Wood and I have an online platform called Thistlewood Farms, with all the social media between the blog, all my social channels, we have about a million followers now. And so it’s really growing and it continues to grow. 

I write about simple, easy DIY projects, but lately I’ve been sprinkling in fashion and a little bit of beauty. It’s really what is bringing me joy in my life and really teaching people simple, easy tips to live the loveliest life possible.

Jillian Leslie (00:05:22) – I don’t know if it’s that recent, but from when I saw you last, and this is before the pandemic until now, you have gone through an enormous transformation. Would you share what that has been?

KariAnne’s Weight Loss Journey

KariAnne Wood (00:05:36) – It all started during the pandemic. We were home and I had a little bit of extra time and with all the challenges going on in the world, I just really wanted to pour into myself a little bit. 

And so, I went on a weight loss journey, but it was more than a weight loss journey. It was really almost a complete transformation of who I was and really pulling down some barriers that I had with the world and really opening myself up to live life a little more fully. 

Along that journey, I actually lost 105 pounds. And you asked me earlier how I did it and I said, well, I did a specific weight loss program, but I think more importantly than that, what I did was I shifted my focus and the way that I thought about myself, and I decided that I had more value than I was giving myself credit for.

And so I really decided, you know what? I’m a person. I am worthy and I’m going to treat myself and I’m going to pour into myself and I’m going to wake up every day and I’m going to live the healthiest, most joyous life that I can. 

And so, the result was my business has grown, I’ve lost weight. I wake up every day with a giant smile on my face just ready to take on the day. 

And I discovered along the way too, something else about myself that I could really do the hard things, like things that I always put off before, because there was a barrier. I was nervous, I was worried that people would reject me or people would say, “Oh, the heavy girl.”

I just had maybe more of a negative self image of myself. And so, I always put off hard things because I thought, I’m going to do that later. I’m going to do that when I get to a point when I feel better about myself, I’m going to do that. 

And through the journey, I discovered that I had value when I was heavier. It wasn’t like now just because I’ve lost weight, I don’t, I have more value. I was this incredible, valuable person before, but I did not let myself see that. 

And so part of this has all been this amazing mental journey and just growing with who I am and growing as an individual. And the weight loss is almost like a byproduct. 

Jillian Leslie (00:08:10) – If somebody is listening to this and they’re like, “Hey, that’s really good for you KariAnne,” but if you were to get into my head and hear the negative self-talk that is on like level volume 10 playing 24/7, what would you say to them?

KariAnne Wood (00:08:30) – First of all, I would say to that person, there’s nothing that you’re saying to yourself that I didn’t say to myself except probably screaming it through a megaphone at myself. And so, I hear you. There’s nothing you could tell me that would surprise me. 

Nothing that I did not tell myself that I did not have value before. And I think really what it was is every time one of those thoughts would come into my brain, I pictured the person that I always wanted to be inside. 

So, when something was negative, I had a negative thought. I would think in my mind, I’m a lovely person. That’s not how lovely people think. They don’t think like that. You need to give yourself grace KariAnne, you are amazing. You are incredible. 

And I kept up this whole narrative inside of my head about the person that I envisioned myself to be, rather than the person that when I looked in the mirror, that negative person that I was always telling myself I was.

I instead envisioned where I wanted to be and really spoke to that person rather than the person that was looking at me in the mirror.

KariAnne Wood (00:09:42) – And grace. I love grace.

Jillian Leslie (00:09:44) – Yes, grace. That’s why I think one of my favorites. I feel like we all just need grace. The world needs grace.

KariAnne Wood (00:09:51) – The world needs grace.

Jillian Leslie(00:09:53) – Here’s my question. How were you able to start to catch yourself thinking that thought? Because I think what happens is we get so used to these thoughts, that’s the water we swim in, and we don’t even notice the self-hatred coming our way. 

It would almost feel too weird to not have it. It becomes comfortable.

KariAnne Wood (00:10:19) – Yes. And in my case, I can’t speak to everyone, but in my case, I used it as an excuse. There were things that I wanted to accomplish with my business, things that I wanted to do, things that just in light that I want to do, fly places, go places, experience life. 

But instead I would use that self-talk almost. And by the way, a tub of cray and cream ice cream .

Jillian Leslie (00:10:44) – Yes, yes, yes.

KariAnne Wood (00:10:47) – Distract myself from my purpose. It was easier and more comfortable for me to tell myself negative talk and then use food to make myself feel better. 

But when I stepped outside of that voice and every time that voice, I was like giving myself a good talking to every day. Like, KariAnne, you are more than this. You are more than this. 

And the other tip that I would tell people too is I would wake up every day and I would do something hard first thing in the morning, something that I didn’t want to do, something that I was not comfortable doing.

How to Build a Successful Influencer Brand | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Starting Your Day with Hard Tasks

I would say, you know what? I’m just going to do that and get that out of the way, whatever it was. And sometimes it was a case of the thing that was hard, didn’t even seem like it was as hard.

Once I started doing it, I’m like, oh, this isn’t as hard as I thought. I’ll just give you an example. I decided that I was going to build a few pages on my blog to which we’re going to talk about affiliates in just a second. But I was going to build a few pages on my blog. 

And that was way overwhelming. I felt like I was going to climb a mountain doing that. And so, I would wake up every day and I would do that first. I would lean into that first. And then once I got some of those tasks out of the way, it was almost like I created my own value.

I’m like, oh, I did that. Everything else from here is down. Rather than the way I used to approach things, I would ease into the day. I’d wake up, I’d do all the easy tasks and this looming sitting on my shoulder task would be sitting there. 

And then inevitably the day would end and I’d just be like, I think I’m going to go eat some ice cream and not do that task. So, when I woke up and did the task first, it almost eliminated that fear that I had and the procrastination, which was my best friend. 

Jillian Leslie (00:12:36) – In our family, we have this expression, “Eat the Frog,” and I think it’s from Mark Twain, somebody like that. Like, get up, eat the frog. Do the most awful, disgusting, horrible thing. You’re going to eat the frog and then you’ve done it and then it is smooth sailing. 

I find the same thing because what I find is I’m weirdly financing the bad task throughout my day. It’s not like, “Oh, I am thinking about it and I am feeling bad about myself because I haven’t gotten to it yet.” And it’s starting to loom larger and larger and larger. And I agree with you. 

And then let’s say the day is over and I haven’t gotten to it. I am the worst person ever. Yes. I can’t even do that thing.

KariAnne Wood (00:13:22) – The best example, this is the analogy that everybody will understand. It’s like one of the tasks that I do not like to do is empty the dishwasher. 

So, the dishes are finished and you walk by the dishwasher and the little light is on and you see it and you’re like, I need to empty the dishwasher. Oh, I don’t want to do that right now. And you go on and do something else, but the green light is shining brightly. 

And you walk by the dishwasher maybe 7, 8, 10 times and every time you mentally think, gosh, I should empty that dishwasher, I should empty that dishwasher, I should empty that dishwasher. And in reality, when you go to empty the dishwasher and it takes you like two minutes to empty the dishwasher, you’re like, why did I not just do that initially? 

Jillian Leslie (00:14:05) – The mental load. 

KariAnne Wood (00:14:07) – Looking at the green light saying scolding yourself, not giving yourself grace that you have done this is literally, it takes you the five seconds to do the task. 

If you just think next time you have to do a hard task, think of that dishwasher and realize when you actually go to empty the dishwasher, I timed myself the other day just to prove this analogy and it took me 2 minutes and 12 seconds to empty the dishwasher. I’m sure I spent way more mental time on that.

Jillian Leslie (00:14:36) – And mental time feeling bad.

KariAnne Wood (00:14:40) – Yes. Mental time. You’re not a good person because you’re not emptying the dishwasher. 

Jillian Leslie (00:14:44) – What kind of mom are you? I get it. I get it. Let’s talk about how by you losing weight, all of a sudden I’m seeing you show up in my Facebook feed, modeling clothes and selling stuff and being like, what do you think of these jeans? 

And I’m like, oh my God, you go KariAnne, you middle-aged woman in these fancy stuff, if people could see you now, and I hopefully will at some point post this video, but you’ve got awesome earrings and this cool top, tell me about that journey. Did you ever think you would be a fashion influencer?

KariAnne Wood (00:15:25) – Never.

Jillian Leslie (00:15:28) – And how did this segue, because we want to talk about affiliates. How did this become a thing?

KariAnne Wood (00:15:35) – And I think there’s an important bigger message here. I think what happened was when I started showing up on my feed and I started putting myself into my post, and I started filming videos of myself when I started talking to the camera and I started doing all of these things. 

Once I started doing that, my business skyrocketed because at the heart of all of our brands and our business, if you’re an influencer and you’re listening to this and you are not putting yourself into your brand, it’s very hard sometimes for your brand to grow. 

The one thing that sets us apart from national brands like Target, Walmart, brands like that, is the fact that we are the thing that makes the difference. Us as an individual and what we sound like, what we love, things that we enjoy, products that we are using that celebrate us. 

All of those are what sets us apart from other competitors or other people that are doing what we do. 

The Importance of Being the Face of Your Brand

Jillian Leslie (00:16:38) – And I’m going to say, you and I, of course, we were talking about our love of, of AI and the thing that keeps coming up for me as I’m talking to people a about AI, and I’m reading about this is your content now is only as good as you are. 

Meaning if there’s no, Jillian, if you’re not feeling me or smelling me or seeing me, how will you know that this isn’t just AI generated content? You become that much more important. You become that much more special. 

And as we move to a world where we don’t know what’s real and what’s not, if you go, I’m a real person, these are my real thoughts, I promise you it’s like white on rice that people will be drawn to that. 

The Future of Digital Products

So please, as you’re working on your business, hear what KariAnne is saying, and I’m saying it’s only going to be more important that you become the face that you can’t hide anymore behind your blog of like, I’m an authority from behind.

You have to walk out in front of it and introduce yourself to your people because people buy from people as you know, KariAnne. That is go and you’re going to show up. 

Now, as I’m predicting, we’re going to talk about digital products too, whether it be in a membership, in a workshop, in coaching somewhere where it is person to person. So what you’re saying I totally resonate with and I think it’s going to become even more important.

Finding the Perfect Leggings

KariAnne (00:18:10) – I agree. And so, to that end here I am, I’ve lost weight. I’m on a journey of self-discovery. I’m finding new products and I decide along the way that I am going to, one of the things that makes me happy in this world is I’m going to treat myself. 

I don’t want to just treat myself with anything. So, I decided that I’m going to go on a hunt for the things that I truly love. So, I’ll give you a perfect example of this. I decided, I have a personal trainer, I work out and I’m like, I need leggings. 

I don’t want to just go and get any leggings. I need the perfect leggings, but I need the leggings for me. I do go on a whole journey of finding the perfect leggings. I order nine leggings now, and I have a list, a checklist of everything I need for leggings.

I’m short, so they need to be cropped a little bit. And I don’t like a super thick ham at the bottom. I need pockets. I need them to hold this tummy in. All of this flabbiness is sucked in and looks amazing. I need to be a high waistband and on and on and on. I have a whole list. 

So, I order all of these leggings and they come into the house and I tried no, too tall, no too short, no to this, no, not the right material. Oh wait. Oh, and the material had to be like buttery soft too. And I couldn’t pay a lot of money for them. 

And so at the end of my journey, I found the world’s most perfect leggings for me. Maybe not for everyone. 

Jillian Leslie (00:19:34) – Which are they? You have to share. I’ll put an affiliate link.

KariAnne Wood(00:19:41) – And they’re under $25. 

Jillian Leslie – What? 

KariAnne Wood – And here’s the thing. I put it out into the world and the world has bought those leggings and we are all in a giant legging fan club of these leggings. And so, I found this was my first foray into like, wait, I’m going to go do all the research and figure things out, and then I’m going to report back. 

Jillian Leslie (00:20:07) – Did you take photos of yourself in every single one, did you share the journey of this? Or was it more like, “Okay guys, I did this off camera. I’m now back on camera. Here is the answer.”

KariAnne Wood (00:20:21) – I didn’t share the leggings I didn’t like because I didn’t want to be negative about those particular leggings. But I just said to people, I hold up a variety of leggings and say, “Here are my leggings. Here are the perfect leggings and they’re under $25.”

And people were like, okay, we’re going to try this out. We’ll trust you and try it out. And the email, the massive DMs messages, “Thank you so much, KariAnne Wood. These leggings have changed my life. They’re amazing, they’re incredible.” And I thought, well, I’m onto something.

If I find the perfect leggings, what’s the next thing? Oh, I need to find the perfect jeans and I need to find the perfect leggings. And I need to find the perfect earrings. I need to find the perfect perfume. I need to find the perfect lipstick, and when I say perfect, I mean perfect for me. What is working for me? 

When I make recommendations with affiliates, I’m not just randomly making these things that I love and I have my tried and true things. And once people follow you and see like, okay, she’s putting a lot of thought into this. 

How to Build a Successful Influencer Brand | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Hero Products and Affiliate Marketing

Okay, I’ve tried her leggings, I’ve tried her jeans, I’ve tried her lipstick. They’re like, what else she got? What else? Come on, we need some more. And because now they’re trusting your recommendation. 

And that to me is the secret to winning in the affiliate game is figuring out, and I probably have a list of about 10 hero products, finding your hero products that are your tried and true that you love, that people have responded to, that people want to buy. 

And then sharing those on repeat, whenever they go on sale, sharing them, like, “Hey guys, in case you missed it, they’ve restocked it.” There’s a blue and white rug that is in my living room that literally, I know it from your post.

Jillian Leslie (00:22:10) – I know it. 

KariAnne Wood (00:22:13) – We’ve sold that rug. We’ve sold so many of that rug that the manufacturer contacted me and said, your little blog, your little social media is selling so many of the rug. 

And truth be told, I’m not just doing it to be human, what’s the word? I’m not just doing it to be selfless. No, I’m doing it because that rug has been my favorite for three years in a row. That rug has been my top three sellers on Amazon, on Walmart, and on Overstock, those three sellers.

So, the rug is in three locations. It has been my top three sellers for the year, for the last three years. And that rug has single-handedly put one of my twins through freshman year at Baylor University.

Advertisement (00:23:00) – I wanted to take a short break to say that if you are enjoying the podcast, please sign up for my newsletter. On Sundays, I send out an email where I share my four biggest takeaways from my most recent episode. 

As the world of blogging and online business is changing very rapidly, this is a great way to stay on top of it. So, to join the newsletter, just head to bloggergenius.com. That’s it, bloggergenius.com. And now back to the show.

Jillian Leslie (00:23:37) – Let’s break this down. So, you say to yourself, I’m new, I’m in this new body and I’ve got my trainer and I need some cute leggings. And you go on the journey and you find the right leggings. 

Let’s talk about how then you are strategically posting about these leggings. For example, walk me through, does it start with a blog post? Does it start with a pre blog post? Like, I’m on the search for new leggings, come along with me. 

Are you on Instagram going live, doing reels? Are you on TikTok? Are you making videos for YouTube, like Pinterest pins show? Tell me how you found or you’ve decided, I need the leggings, I need to find the right leggings. Walk me through the journey of sharing this.

KariAnne Wood (00:24:23) – So, here I’ve got it down to a science. Get out your pen and paper. The first thing that I do it took me a little bit of time. If you go back way in my social media, you’ll probably see some things that aren’t quite like this. But this is my current formula that I’m using. 

What I do is the secret is to show all the features and benefits of the product. Whether it’s a rug, whether it’s leggings, whether it’s jeans, whether it’s lipstick, I find the features and the benefits of those products that work the best for me. 

Sharing Product Features and Benefits

And I take little two to three second video clips of all of those features of benefits. So, for example, let’s take the leggings. I take a video of myself and the leggings, an overall video, maybe two to three seconds. 

Then I do a closeup of the pockets and show the phone going in the pockets. I do a closeup of the waistband and showing like, look at this amazing waistband that it’s super thick. 

So, I go through and I’m talking for two to three seconds. Not long, I don’t speak at all. I just film individual, tiny little clips together. Probably make a 10 to 12 second video. Then I use a tool called CapCut, which is a free video editor, which is amazing. 

I upload the snippets. Then I film a voiceover over the entire clip. And I try to sound super energetic. And what tip, if you’re going to film a voiceover, I’ve got a really good tip for you.

Before you speak into the voiceover, take a deep breath and then go. So, your first thing isn’t like this, you all are not going to believe. I don’t know why I take great pride in that too. 

Jillian Leslie (00:26:09) – That’s funny. My tip is talk with your hands.

KariAnne Wood (00:26:13) – Oh, nobody sees you.

Jillian Leslie (00:26:14) – I find that if I over gesticulate, I sound more excited or interested. I’m not sitting here like this, I’m recording let’s say something for my podcast. 

And again, I’m recording it into a microphone, so I have my hands free, but I will be like, “Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.” And something about the movement of my hands makes my voice sound better, more like I’m engaged.

Sharing on Social Media

KariAnne Wood (00:26:44) – I agree. I think little tips like that are if you’re going to do a voiceover, try to be excited. Now I have my clip, my 12 second clip with a voiceover. 

The first thing I do is I go to Instagram stories, I upload the entire video, two Instagram stories, and I immediately put captions on there. I use a very specific CapCut. Now it’s the third row one over because I like it because it’s very clean and easy to read and it flips. 

And then I download that video. Now I have a video with a voiceover, without writing, and I have a video with writing. And then I go without belaboring all the details, just suffice it to say I uploaded the Instagram stories. 

I upload it to TikTok, I upload it to YouTube shorts, I upload it as a video onto my Amazon store. I upload it to Facebook reels. I upload it to my private Facebook groups and I upload it to regular Facebook, my personal and my business. And lastly, I upload it as a video pin and an Idea Pin on Pinterest. 

Jillian Leslie (00:27:57) – Wow. Do you have an assistant who’s helping you do this or are you going through the checklist?

KariAnne Wood (00:28:01) – I just go through the little checklist and I have it down to a science to do all of that. It takes me under 30 minutes even.

Jillian Leslie (00:28:08) – Not shooting the video. So, you’ve got the video clips. Just creating it once.

KariAnne Wood (00:28:13) – I already have the video, just because my system is down. And I keep thinking, I keep telling myself every place I load it, I’m going to make money. I’m going to make some more money. 

And it’s amazing how interesting and fun it is to upload things to social media when you’re making money. 

Affiliate Marketing Strategy

Jillian Leslie (00:28:26) – So, you are linking, where can you be putting that affiliate link?

KariAnne Wood (00:28:32) – The first thing is on Pinterest Idea Pins, they now have the ability to upload a photo of the individual item that has a link in it. They used to just have a link. Now in Pinterest Idea Pins, you can upload a photo, which is absolute gold on YouTube shorts. 

My best tip is because YouTube shorts, you people don’t really pay attention to the description because it’s more like a scrolling feed. So, I go to the first comment, I upload the affiliate link to the very first comment, and I pin it to the top and then in the description.

That’s why it’s very important to have one video with writing and one video without, because depending on the social media, I upload different ones. Typically on YouTube shorts, I upload without the writing and I’ll say, “Hey, this is an amazing product.”

It’s linked in the first comment, I have it in the description right there. On TikTok and Instagram, I have actually a link. I use a tool, a tool called Shared Vision where I upload, it’s an amazing tool.

You can look it up, join Shared Vision.

And I have a list, a shopping list. When you click on my link, it goes to a page on my blog with a shopping list right there. You can go click, click, click, add everything to the Amazon cart and check out one time on Instagram reels. I also upload it as an Instagram reel. 

And I use AI to send a direct message to all of the people that comment. So, I’ll say to someone, for example, let’s say I was sharing the leggings. I’ll be like, “You all, these leggings, they’re amazing. You need them. They’re incredible.”

And remember, the video has all the features and benefits very quickly of the product. Then I’ll say, if you’re interested in these leggings comment, and I use a little code, I typically use T for Thistlewood. 

And then whatever the month is, so this, right now I’m using TA and then whatever the date is, so today is the 18th, so I’ll say TA18 comment TA18. And I will automatically through AI DM you the link. 

Jillian Leslie (00:30:40) – What tool are you using for that? Do you know? 

KariAnne Wood (00:30:43) – I’m using a tool called Customer Ai.

Jillian Leslie (00:30:45) – Okay.

KariAnne Wood (00:30:47) – And what I find works the best. So, I’ve done all this AB testing, and what I find works the best is if you send them to a link on your blog, for some reason, the algorithm of Instagram just likes it better if you’re sending them to a blog.

You cannot link an Amazon store and you cannot link a direct link to Amazon. So, you cannot send them. Instead I send them to a page on my blog. 

So, I use Customer AI to send them an A message automatically, and then it links in the little message, it says, go shop my blog right here. And there’s a link to a page on my blog. And on that blog I have the shared vision tool. I use two tools to do this. And it, and it works like gold.

If you go, you can look at my most recent post I was sharing Kurt Rods, and I think there’s up to 400 comments of people that said, “Hey, will you DM me?” And so, I’m sitting here talking to you on this podcast. I’m just doing this magically.

Jillian Leslie (00:31:48) – Oh my God, that is amazing.

KariAnne Wood (00:31:53) – I’m sitting here, oh wait, I think another sale now. Oh wait, there was another sale. Oh wait, there was another sale. So yes, the AI, so those two, the combination of Customer AI along with the shared vision tool is an absolute gold. 

I have the same formula I do on TikTok, this same formula I do on the brand new, oh, one other place I upload it to is there’s a new social media called Lemon8, the number eight. Yes. And I have it over there as well.

Jillian Leslie (00:32:20) – Here’s a question, where does your blog fit in?

Providing Value on Blog Posts 

KariAnne Wood (00:32:24) – My blog, what I do is, and this has been working very well for me. A lot of times I’ll choose the formula that I’m sharing with you, whether it’s leggings, whether it’s curtain rods, whether it’s that blue and white rug, I typically pick about three products a week to share through affiliates. 

And because I don’t want to overwhelm my audience, instead of going wide, I go very deep on just a few products. So, typically I’ll do a corresponding blog post. 

So for example, with the curtain rods, which are the one, the most recent one, I did an entire blog post showing how to cover a closet door with curtains. And I linked the curtain rods with the curtain rings and a variety of curtains on the blog post as well.

Jillian Leslie (00:33:13) – So, you’re providing value by saying, hey guys, it’s not just like sell, sell, sell buy this, buy this. It’s like, here is the context, here is why you would want to buy this. Again, as KariAnne, I’m like, I’m your girl. I’m going to show you this awesome DIY that’s going to make your house look great and I’m going to set you up, here’s what you need to purchase.

KariAnne Wood (00:33:38) – And I think it’s important. Again, it all goes back to demonstrating to them why you love this. Why do you love this curtain rod? 

The curtain rods are the reason why, and in the video that I did the quick little 12 second video that we talked about earlier, I show the curtain rods at five different windows in my home, where with five different types of curtains. 

And I show the video, it shows me pulling the curtain up across and pulling it back because the value of these rings and the curtain is so easy to close. It’s an easy glide curtain rod. 

So, I show that and I also leave a great tip on videos, especially if you’re trying to sell people things that are SMR, the sound, those sounds that are there, I leave those on the video and I do the voiceover over top of that. Rather than using music, I let the product make its own sounds.

Jillian Leslie (00:34:32) – Ooh. Ooh. Okay. So you’re Ka Ann and you’re in the, you must have packages arriving constantly at your house.

KariAnne Wood (00:34:40) – Maybe . I think the reason really between you and I, Jillian, the reason why I started selling so many affiliates is one day I remember, I’m on this weight loss journey and I’m treating myself and I can really treat myself for sure. 

And my husband opens the door and there are stacks of Amazon packages that are all coming in and he’s holding them. And he looks at me like this. And I thought, wow, that is a lot of treating.

 And then I thought to myself, I have to figure out a way to pay for all this treating, hence affiliates with my love with affiliates was born.

Affiliate Marketing Tips

Jillian Leslie (00:35:14) – Let’s say I’m going to do a deep dive on lipstick. Let’s say, how many of these different deep dive products are you posting or doing per week or per month? 

KariAnne Wood (00:35:28) – I do about three products per week. The secret that people don’t tell you is once I have that little 12 second clip of video, I actually have it all organized in a Google drive on my phone, and I’ll pull it out at the regular. 

There’s a video of that blue and white rug. I think I probably shared that thing maybe a hundred times, maybe 150 times. I’m constantly re-sharing my favorite products over and over and over again. 

So, those curtain rods, they showed up today, but guess what, they’ll be back, they’ll be back in a couple of weeks. And so I have videos that I’ve made, and then I will re-share those if people respond. That’s another secret with affiliates is figuring out what people buy and sharing more of that.

If I do a deep dive and I share something and people don’t respond to it, then I’m like, I love it and I will still continue to use it, but I’m probably not going to shout it out. I’ll shout out the leggings and by the way, I did have an amazing lipstick. 

Changed my life because I found this lipstick. It’s a lip stain that just stays on all day. But I have this secret layering method where I layer three different lipsticks with gloss on top. So, I’m always at the ready .

Jillian Leslie (00:36:39) – That’s great. Because I like you, you show up in your lipstick and I’m like, oh my God, I have to put my lipstick on. So, here I am talking to you going, wait, I need to beautify. So, I love your lipstick.

KariAnne Wood (00:36:50) – And this lipstick has been through four hours of Zoom calls, just for direct.

Jillian Leslie (00:36:53) – It’s great. It’s great. So, you’re sharing three different products a week,  are you doing big blog posts for each one? Or if it’s taking off, then you’ll go, oh, this needs a blog post. This needs a deep dive.

KariAnne Wood (00:37:08) – That’s right. I don’t, because I’m still trying to provide value with the blog and the blog’s about more than selling. And so, if I solve a problem for someone with a DIY product, then I will do for sure it deserves its own blog post. 

If it’s just something that I discovered that I love, for example, I do not have an entire post on those leggings. I mostly share those on social media. Yes, yes, yes. I might. 

Now I’ve definitely shared them on the blog, but they don’t have a dedicated blog post. Because I’m more of a DIY blog, not as much into fashion, but on social media that video I share it over and over and over and over again. 

Jillian Leslie (00:37:50) – And you were just re-sharing the same video. You’re not going, “Well, I should take a new video.” I love that. So, it’s not like, “Hey, in order to re-share, you have to put the leggings on and do another dance in the video.” It’s the same video.

KariAnne Wood (00:38:04) – It’s the same video. There’s a video of these bath rows. I was not in the bathrobe. I would not, I was not that bold, but I put them, I hung them very, I thought artistically on a closet door. And they just look beautiful hanging on the closet door. 

And I did a whole video and I show you the features and benefits, just like I talked about earlier. And it’s for Mother’s Day. And I have shared that same video in the past two weeks. I think I’ve shared it seven times maybe. 

What you don’t understand is everybody doesn’t see all of our posts. And sometimes you have people that might see it, but they’re like, “I saw that before.” Think of how many times that you’ve seen a certain commercial on television before you act on it.

Sometimes we have to, we can’t expect that we’re going to show people one time. And you know, I would love it if I showed them leggings and they all ran really fast to go by the leggings or the bathrobe or the lipstick. But that doesn’t happen. 

So, sharing on repeat actually is you’re doing your audience a favor because you’re helping them. 

Another tip that I would give you on affiliates is if you share the leggings and someone has purchased the leggings and they send you a DM saying, “Thank you so much,” make sure you screenshot that and share that DM.

It’s proof that what you recommended has value that someone else has purchased what you recommended and loved it just as much as you did.

Jillian Leslie (00:39:33) – I love that. Now, can we shift gears, because when we were talking beforehand, we were talking about you and I seem to be in agreement on the importance as a blogger, as a creator of really selling your own products, your own digital products, and we haven’t even really dug that deep in it. 

We’re both like, oh yeah, definitely. So, tell me what your thoughts are about that and what you recommend to bloggers, because you also, for a long time have been coaching bloggers.

Importance of Digital Products

KariAnne Wood (00:40:02) – Yes. I think that for the future, in other words, if I was coaching you and I was saying, here we are, it’s 2023 right now, where would you put your time? Where would put your energy? 

And I really feel this very strongly that two major sources of revenue from now, I would say probably for the next two or three years for sure are affiliates, which we’ve already talked about, and digital products as well. 

I think digital products are a great way to put all of your knowledge into a format that people can consume. I think sometimes a blog post has ads in it, it’s overwhelming. Sometimes you’ll do a little bit of a snippet on social media. 

A digital product is a way for you to do a deep dive into one particular subject. So for example, I have an amazing, incredible ebook that I have written on affiliates. It’s 33 pages. It is chalk full of ideas. 

There are 17 places that you’ve probably never even thought of to use affiliates. For example, your welcome email is a great place to put affiliates. There’s so much knowledge in that little book. And it’s under $10. It’s $9.95.

And this was my first foray into the whole digital product. Because I was like, I have a lot of knowledge. I’m going to create this ebook. And I sat down and I sat down with very little marketing. 

I wrote it about a month ago because I’m speaking on affiliates in so many different places. And so I thought, I’m just going to, I don’t even really have it on my blog. I just talk about it when I go on podcasts.

And we’ve sold over 300 of those. So, if you do the math that was created one time, it took me quite a little bit of time to write the initial ebook. But then the product is living and breathing and sitting there and making you money. It’s an amazing, credible source of passive income. 

And anytime that I think, oh, I need to make a little bit more passive income, I just push it out again on social media or shout it out and there’s $3,000 in passive income. 

But the key really, I feel like with digital products, which is something we were talking about, and I would love to talk about this on another podcast, or my fifth.

Jillian Leslie (00:42:23) – Yes.

Creating a Digital Product Funnel

KariAnne Wood (00:42:25) – I think the secret with really digital products is having them live on your blog and then having them feed into other digital products. 

So, if someone buys a digital product, having a Tripwire with a bump offer or having an upsell, hey, you like this, then buy this. Or, hey, my entire library is on sale. Or hey, I’m having a Mother’s Day sale for this. I really want to pour into your business. Let me group the different products together. 

So, every time you write a digital product, it should somehow be connected to another digital product. You could actually sell two of them. And I think there’s so much gold in that. And the way that people are consuming information more and more and more is through digital products.

Affiliate Marketing and Digital Products

Jillian Leslie (00:43:11) – I agree. And with MiloTreeCart, you can bundle your products. We’re actually just rolling out order bumps because if I’ve got your credit card and you’ve just purchased from me.

And I put another offer in front of you, it’s a little bit like being at the grocery store when you’re in the checkout counter and you’re like, oh, and I’ll get the Gump right there. 

So, that’s the whole beauty of thinking about the problems you can solve for your audience and then being like, okay, if you like this, it wouldn’t be great to be curtain rods and lipstick. But it might be curtain rods and drapes or lipstick and lip liner. 

And so you’re always trying to go, well, if it’s affiliates, maybe you bought my affiliate book, but now get my checklist of how I share on what social media, my checklist at first, you share this is how you do your video. 

And then here are the places that I share it and all that stuff. Oh my God, that would be so purposeful. And I’d buy that right after buying your affiliate book.

And I think that the thing with MiloTreeCart, I think that’s gold, it’s doing all the work for you. Because again, just like affiliates, it’s like I was talking through those videos. Those videos, once you get them on Pinterest and other places, they’re out there, they’re working for you. 

I’m sitting here chatting with you. I’m about to go to dinner after this and have a lovely dinner. And all the while my little products are selling themselves. My rugs are over there making me money, my lipsticks making money. 

And so, with a product like MiloTreeCart, once you set the process up, you are doing nothing. You’ve already created it, it’s the easiest passive income stream. So, there’s a little bit of heavy loading on the front end to create the product. But it’s so much easier. 

Canva has some great ebook templates for free. You can also buy ebook templates off Etsy as well. They are so easy. It’s pretty much drag and drop, so easy to use. And then you set it up, you pay for the one time MiloTreeCart, and then it’s doing all of the work behind the scenes. You’re doing nothing.

The Ease of Using AI

Jillian Leslie (00:45:27) – And to say, remember I had shared this previously. I wrote an ebook using AI on how to use AI to write your ebook, and it’ll be in the show notes, but you can get that  at milotree.com/aiebook. It’s free right now. 

Ultimately it’s not going to be free, but go use that. Because what we did here at MiloTreeCart headquarters was we said, wait a second, we should test this out. So, we challenged ourselves, how long would it take us to use AI to write our ebook about using AI to write an ebook? 

And we were able to complete it in four hours. This would’ve taken months. And yet, and it’s really good, and it’s got prompts to go, “Hey, you want product ideas? Put this prompt right into ChatGPT, and it will give you 10 ideas.

KariAnne Wood (00:46:24) – In the prompts, I love AI. We’ve been talking, I think we’re a little frightened of AI and excited about that all the same exact time. 

But I think something that’s super important to understand, if you are nervous about AI, if you’re overwhelmed, if you have prompts, like what you’re talking about in the ebook, the world is your oyster. AI is so easy to use because at the end of the day, AI just comes down to the prompt.

If you have the right input, you’re going to get the right output. So, if you’ve already done all the heavy lifting and you’re already over there with the prompts on the ebook, that is absolute. I’m literally going to get it after a run.

Jillian Leslie (00:47:03) – Go get it. And if you’re not playing around with it, please do, go ask it, like you’ve got a new mole on your arm, go describe it to ChatGPT and it will give you information on whether you should be worried or not. 

You say, “Here’s what’s in my fridge. What can I make for dinner?” It is like AIs are weirdly going to become our best friends. And I think of mine as my most helpful assistant. So, throw anything in there, play around with it, get used to it. It’s not scary.

KariAnne Wood (00:47:47) – No, no. It’s actually a lot more helpful than you give it credit and the thing that you give it credit for. But I like it too. 

And if you think back, you can remember way back in the recesses of your memory when the internet showed up and we were all like, what do you do with the internet? How does the internet help you? You’re kind of confused. 

You’re like, do I use it for emails? You’re just confused. And now can you imagine life without the internet? That is what is going to happen with AI. It’s the same principle. 

Jillian Leslie (00:48:23) – Absolutely. I remember texting and I thought to myself, why would you ever text? Why don’t you just call somebody? And now the thought of calling somebody is so weird that of course you text. So, it is true. It is absolutely true. KariAnne, a couple things. One, if people want to get your ebook, where should they go?

KariAnne Wood (00:48:44) – I can give you the link if you don’t prefer to put it in show notes.

Jillian Leslie (00:48:47) – I’ll totally put it in the show notes. So go, yes, we’ll grab it in the show notes, and if people want to learn about you, reach out to you, find out about those leggings and lipstick, tell me where they should go.

Connecting with KariAnne

KariAnne Wood (00:49:02) – You can find me any place online under Thistlewood. So, if you just search “Thistlewood”, The Thistlewood Farms, the blog will show up. Instagram, TikTok. But you are more than welcome, anyone.

I will answer any affiliate questions, help you in any way possible, anything we talked about today. If you want to unpack it a little bit, I’m happy to help. You can email me at thistlewoodfarms@yahoo.com, and I will be your best friend. Not quite as helpful as ChatGPT, but close.

Jillian Leslie (00:49:31) – Awesome. I have to say, I’m so glad that we got a chance to do this and to catch up. And I’m going to go right now and go check out your posts on social media just to see how you’re doing it. And thank you for sharing all of the tools and tricks and tips. 

You are just such a font of knowledge and so generous. So I have to just say, KariAnne, thank you so much for coming back on the show.

KariAnne Wood (00:49:57) – Thank you so much for having me. This is as always an absolute joy.

Jillian Leslie (00:50:02) – I hope you guys like this episode as much as I did. I think you could tell why I have so much love and admiration for KariAnne. She is as genuine in real life as she sounds on the podcast. 

For me, what I found so inspiring about this episode is that KariAnne was able to take her own personal journey and figure out a way to authentically grow her business from it. It’s like she was celebrating herself and then celebrating everybody else along the way. 

For those of you who hate technology, but you want to do two things, you want to serve your audience and tap into a new income stream, please come talk to me about selling easy digital products.

I promise you I can get you up and selling in 10 minutes. Plus I’ll give you some ideas for products you could sell. So, go check out milotreecart.com and reach out with any questions you have, and I will see you here again next week.

Other Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes You’ll Like:

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