I had the pleasure of sitting down with Amy Reinecke and Jennifer Draper, the dynamic duo of blogging coaches and co-founders of Spark Media Concepts. Together, we delved into the evolving world of blogging, the art of monetization, and the strategies that will help you thrive in 2024.
Table of Contents
- Catch My Party
- MiloTree Pop-Up App
- Spark Media Concepts
- The Ultimate Blog Podcast
- Personality Quiz: What Digital Product Should I Create?
- Join My Blogger Genius Email List
- Become a Blogger Genius Facebook Group
- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
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The Journey to Blogging Success
Amy and Jennifer’s stories are a testament to the power of blogging. Jennifer’s leap into the blogging world began in 2010 with a slow cooker recipe blog, capitalizing on a niche that lacked wholesome content. Her blog’s quick traction is a nod to the less saturated digital landscape of the time. Amy, on the other hand, started with no intention of building a business. Her journey began on social media, sharing her health journey, which eventually led her to blogging and partnering with Jennifer.
Their partnership blossomed into Spark Media Concepts, a venture that started almost serendipitously. It’s a story of recognizing potential, seizing opportunities, and the importance of encouragement and mentorship. They’ve since shifted from doing the work for their clients to empowering them to take charge of their own blogging journeys.
Monetization and the Importance of Adaptability
In our conversation, Amy and Jennifer emphasized the need for bloggers to be adaptable and open-minded. With the blogging landscape constantly changing, it’s crucial to understand your audience and make intentional decisions to grow your business. They shared their experiences with pricing changes and course restructuring, underscoring the importance of aligning pricing with the value offered and what the audience can afford.
The Power of Niching Down
Niching down is more important than ever. Amy and Jennifer highlighted the significance of understanding the specific needs of your audience. By focusing on a niche, you can become an authority in your space, which is invaluable in a crowded market.
The Role of Podcasting and Challenges with Facebook Ads
Amy and Jennifer also discussed the impact of their podcast, the Ultimate Blog Podcast, in driving traffic to their courses. They candidly shared the challenges they faced with Facebook ads, reminding us that not all marketing channels work for everyone and the importance of finding what works best for your brand.
Email Marketing: The Trend to Watch in 2024
When asked about the trends for 2024, both Amy and Jennifer agreed on the importance of email marketing. With social media fatigue on the rise, they predict a shift towards more intimate connections through email lists. They advocate for a robust email marketing strategy, including welcome series, re-engagement campaigns, and a focus on providing valuable content that your audience wants to open.
My Takeaway for Aspiring Bloggers
As your host, I’ve seen the blogging industry evolve, and this conversation has only reinforced my belief in the power of adaptability and the value of your email list. In a world where social media can be fleeting, owning your email list is akin to owning a piece of digital real estate that no algorithm can take away from you.
MiloTreeCart: Your Partner in Monetization
Before I wrap up, let me introduce you to MiloTree Cart, the tool that can revolutionize how you sell digital products and services. With MiloTreeCart, you can set up memberships, digital downloads, workshops, coaching, and mini-courses in minutes. It’s user-friendly, backed by a supportive team, and currently available for a lifetime deal of $349. Plus, if you purchase by the end of January, you’ll get a one-hour coaching call with me to strategize and learn best practices.
The blogging world is ever-changing, but with the right strategies and tools, you can navigate it successfully. Take the advice from Amy and Jennifer to heart, consider your email marketing strategy, and don’t forget to check out MiloTreeCart to take your monetization to the next level.
Ready to dive deeper into the world of blogging and learn from the best? Subscribe to The Blogger Genius podcast and join me, Jillian, as we explore the genius behind successful blogging.
Other Related Blogger Genius Podcast episodes You’ll Enjoy:
- AI-Driven Content and the Future of SEO with Steve Wiideman
- The Truth About Blogging Success: Hard Work and Risks with Faith Mariah
- What’s Next for Food Bloggers: Changes in 2024 with Megan Porta
MiloTreeCart, the Best Tool for Non-Techies to Sell Digital Products
I also want to introduce you to the MiloTreeCart, a tool designed for non-techies to sell digital products easily. It comes with features like fill-in-the-blank sales pages, check-out pages, a sales dashboard, upsells, and customer support. MiloTreeCart is currently available for a lifetime deal of $349 or three easy installments of $116.33.
Transcript: #314: New Ways to Grow Your Blog Income in 2024
Jillian Leslie (00:00:00) – Hi, I’m Jillian, welcome to a brand new episode of The Blogger Genius Podcast. But before I launch in, I have a question for you. How are you planning to grow your income in 2024? With competition from AI content and ad revenue potentially declining due to the phase out of third party cookies? My advice? It’s time to pivot by selling your own digital products and services to your audience. And this is where MiloTreeCart comes in. Imagine setting up unlimited memberships, digital downloads, workshops, coaching, and mini courses in less than ten minutes. MiloTreeCart isn’t just another tech tool, it’s the easiest you’ve ever used with real people behind it ready to help. And here’s the best part. We are currently selling MiloTreeCart for a lifetime deal of 349. Buy it once, own it forever. No recurring fees, and our customers often find it pays for itself after their first product launch. Plus, we’re all about trust, so we offer a 30 day, no questions asked money back guarantee.
Jillian Leslie (00:01:07) – There’s absolutely no risk in giving it a try. Ready to explode your income in 2024? Visit Military.com and grab this exclusive offer, and here is a bonus purchase by the end of January, and we will get on a one hour coaching call. What I will help you come up with your strategy, share best practices, and show you how others are having tremendous success, and what could be better than getting a pair of fresh eyes on your business in 2024? Pause this episode, head over to Military.com and sign up.
Announcer (00:01:47) – Welcome to the Blogger Genius podcast, brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie (00:01:54) – Hey guys, it is Jillian. And welcome back to the show. I think you’re going to really enjoy today’s episode. I am interviewing Amy Reinecke and Jennifer Draper, and they are blogging coaches. They have a podcast called The Ultimate Blog Podcast. They sell a course on blogging, and they really help people understand what blogging is, what it entails, and how to make money at it.
Jillian Leslie (00:02:24) – I found their stories interesting of how they got together and how they run their business, and how they are always looking for problems they can solve, and then building products and services around that. We talk about their course and how they’re experimenting with pricing, and I love when my guests are transparent about that. I think you will find that interesting. So without further delay, here is my interview with Amy Reinecke and Jennifer Draper. Jennifer and Amy. Welcome to the Blogger Genius podcast.
Amy Reinecke (00:03:05) – Thank you. We are so glad to be here.
Jillian Leslie (00:03:07) – Okay, so will you guys introduce yourselves and kind of how you got into blogging and how you hooked up with each other and what you’re doing now, like how you see your businesses separately and together now.
Jennifer Draper (00:03:24) – Okay, so back in 2010. Okay, so.
Jillian Leslie (00:03:28) – Wait, you’re Jennifer, just so that people can identify your voice with your name?
Jennifer Draper (00:03:33) – Yes. So I’m Jennifer. And back in 2013, um, I had quit my job and was trying to figure out what to do with my life and came across blogging as an opportunity to actually create a business.
Jennifer Draper (00:03:49) – So I found another blogger who was thankfully sharing reports on how she made an income from blogging, and I decided I would give it a shot. What did I have to lose? I wanted to create a blog as a business because I had always dreamed of owning my own business. I just never knew what it could possibly be. So when I came across this, it felt right to me because I was such an avid blog reader, and I had an idea in my mind of how I could also share and have an impact in a different way. I decided to start a slow cooker, a recipe blog, in order to share like wholesome slow cooker recipes, because I felt like there was a little bit of a gap in being able to find what I wanted, so I was creating it myself anyway. So I started my blog with the intention of creating a business that could eventually make an income, and thankfully, back in that time it was a little bit easier to get some traction, and it did take off fairly quickly and started to grow and.
Jennifer Draper (00:04:51) – Amy remind me what year it was. I believe it was in 2015. That I put out a call for help because I wanted to start 2016. I wanted to bring in a little bit of help in my business. And, um, I had Amy in mind. We were actually acquaintances. We were next door neighbors, and I knew she would be the perfect person to help me, but I was afraid to ask her directly. And so I put a, uh, basically a post out on my Facebook, and she replied to it, and the rest is history. She started helping me a little bit with my blog, and over time we came to realize that she needed to have a blog. So I’ll let her tell a little bit about her story. But yeah, so it’s been a little over, um, ten years since I started my blog. And yeah, I’ve, I would never look back on it. It’s changed so much. We’ll get into everything that’s changed in blogging over the last ten years, but I’ll let Amy share a little bit more about her blog and how we came to create a business together.
Amy Reinecke (00:05:50) – Yeah. So in actually, the end of 2015, I began sharing on social media. I was, um, on a health journey at that point and decided to share it on social media. And so I was sharing, and that’s when I got connected with Jennifer in this space. I had been, uh, like the nosy neighbor who never asked the question, but always was like, how in the world is she making money over there? Like, so curious. Like, I knew she had been an accountant and then I knew she was doing that. And I just found it so intriguing that she was doing this. And I. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. Uh, my family are their business owners, and so that just comes naturally for me to want to do something more on my own versus go working for somebody else. And so when I started my Instagram, though, I was like doing all kinds of other random things, but that was just supposed to be a fun thing. So I actually started completely differently than Jennifer did.
Amy Reinecke (00:06:46) – I started with zero intention of growing a business, and it actually was from the encouragement of Jennifer who was saying, hey, I see something, I see something in what you’re doing, and that this could turn into more. And so, uh, in 2016, I was her I was her quote unquote virtual assistant who lived next door. So call that what you want. But, um, I was, like, helping her with her Pinterest and things like that. And we ended up actually going to a, um, it would have been the beginning of 2017 that we went to a couple of different conferences, and I actually went in a survey. And, uh, it was such an intriguing place to be for somebody who was not yet in that world to kind of learn more about blogging. I was I was sharing on Instagram. I had been at that point for over a year and not making a dime. It was literally just a fun hobby I was doing and connecting with the community, and that those conferences really gave me the insight that like, this is a valid career.
Amy Reinecke (00:07:41) – This is a legitimate way to earn a living and provide financially to your family. And so when we left the last conference that spring, Jennifer said to me, well, what did you learn? And I said, I learned that I need to have my own blog, because at that point I still hadn’t. And she said, I’ve been waiting for you to come to this realization. And what I’ve always appreciated about Jennifer is that she saw not only that, I was made for more than just being a VA, and that’s not a knock on any Vas, but it was that I that that some of us are meant to be Vas and help those of us in the blogging seat do the work that we need to do, but others of us are meant to be the blogger and meant to put the content out there. And, um, I was selling myself a little bit short saying that I didn’t have that when in reality I did. And so it just took some encouragement, I think, to get me started.
Amy Reinecke (00:08:31) – And now we do that together. And the interesting piece about that piece of this story is, uh, we were sitting around my kitchen table one day and Jennifer shared this kind of what I’ll call off the wall idea of helping people start their own blogs. And she went into some detail about it, about, you know, helping people do this. And I was like, yeah, okay, sure. And thinking, nobody’s going to pay you for that. And, uh, this is before like a lot of courses and mentoring and stuff had really started. And so I really did not have the vision for it, to be honest. It just was not there for me yet. And I thought she was a little bit nuts. And but I listened to her because she was my friend. And, uh, within a couple weeks, I met someone, um, a friend of mine, and she was describing what she needed in her business, and it mirrored what Jennifer had said she wanted to do.
Amy Reinecke (00:09:26) – And so my nature is just to be like, hey, uh, I can help you with that. Uh, me and Jennifer, actually, we know how to do all that stuff, and so we can help you with that. So get in the car, call Jennifer and said, so you know that, like, dream that you had that a couple weeks ago that you were sharing with me. Uh, we have our first client, and she she we got to get started here in the next couple weeks. And that’s how Spark Media Concepts is born. It was born, uh, literally like three months after I started my blog. So this goes to show that, uh, you don’t have to be an expert in every little thing in order to start helping people do the same thing that you’re doing. Um, I started blog coaching as a beginner blogger. Um, so I was very well-versed. I obviously was with Jennifer, who had been blogging by that point for about four years. But, uh, together we created Spark Media Concepts at the end of 2017.
Amy Reinecke (00:10:19) – Uh, we used to do people’s websites for them, and then when the pandemic hit, quickly realized that, uh, really, our goal, instead of doing it for somebody, was to empower someone to do it on their own and to really learn the ins and outs of their blog and the why behind what they’re doing, and to, uh, serve as a voice in that, in that way. And so since 2020 and that that pivotal shift in the Spark Media Concepts business model, you know, we have really become more blog coaches. We help people start their blog from the ground up and provide a community for them as well to do that. And, uh, we have a podcast that also shares as well. And it’s been a really, really fun journey, um, as a bloggers ourselves. And then to take what we’re learning independently and show up for our students and help coach them along the way. So it’s been a really fun journey so far. Wow.
Jillian Leslie (00:11:09) – Wow. Okay, so what are Jennifer and Amy? Just quickly, what are your blog names in case people want to see what you’re doing separately and then together?
Jennifer Draper (00:11:19) – My blog is Slow Cooker Gourmet net.
Amy Reinecke (00:11:23) – Okay and and I blog at love your buddy Walnut and also have a podcast. Love your buddy.
Jillian Leslie (00:11:28) – Well, nice. Okay, so now here is my question. I feel like the world this is the term I keep using is speeding up. Everything is speeding up. If you’re using I, chances are you can be creating content faster. You can do things faster. But also because of that, uh, things are changing faster. They’ve just been a bunch of Google updates more than is typical. And, uh, it feels a little I’m feeling from people I’m talking to that they feel a little out of breath. And I don’t know if you guys are seeing that, but I want to talk about trends you might be seeing for 2024 and then how to deal with those trends in 2024.
Jennifer Draper (00:12:22) – Yeah, I think the biggest thing is as we’re having these changes just coming at us, first and foremost, we kind of have to take a deep breath so that we don’t become breathless. And we have to remember to, like, thoughtfully react to things and not just react because we heard something on a podcast or a friend told us something or we saw something in a Facebook group, we can take note of all of these changes that we hear about, but I think we have to compile things together to really think about a strategy before we just dive in and start changing things.
Jennifer Draper (00:12:58) – So I think that is one of the most important things to keep in mind as you start to, to, to hear about Google changed an algorithm or, you know, Instagram has changed who they’re showing their content to, or Pinterest isn’t performing the way that it used to. I think those things are going to happen. And as bloggers, it’s our job to keep up with the changes. But not to just react immediately to everything that comes at us. So, you know, with with Google, I think the biggest thing is they are adjusting their algorithms because they want to show content that people really want. And I think we always have to keep these things in mind when it comes to Google. When it comes to Pinterest, we have to put ourselves in the minds of those platforms and say, why are they doing this? And how can we work together? So when Google is changing their algorithm to, you know, show more helpful content, it can feel like almost a slap in the face when you’re if your content doesn’t get shown as much and you have to remember that the first thing is they may adjust those algorithms as we go.
Jennifer Draper (00:14:08) – We’ve already seen that happen in these last couple of updates. So people’s traffic is starting to come back. And so a lot of this is just testing for them too. So being mindful of that, but also just being mindful of the fact that our job is to create really helpful content. So if we can if we can keep that in mind at all times, then I think we won’t necessarily have to react every time a change gets thrown at us.
Amy Reinecke (00:14:37) – Um.
Jillian Leslie (00:14:38) – Now, in terms of thinking about monetizing. When you are talking to your blogger community. What are you telling them? How? You know, again, you’re talking about content, which is great because I completely agree with you. You want to be making content that is helpful to humans, not just for the algorithms, because at some point Google’s going to figure out what you’re doing and that won’t work anymore. Whereas if you are constantly serving people with real problems, you are much more apt to benefit from that. So when it’s a choice between what are you optimizing for? Optimize for people over machines.
Jillian Leslie (00:15:27) – Now be smart about machines, but be thinking people first, people first, people first. So that I totally agree. But let’s talk about monetizing, because the truth is, we’re all blogging. But and we’re doing it because we love it. But it’s like if there were no money involved, I’m not sure we would be doing it or doing it as, um, consistently and with as much intention. So what do you say in terms of making money?
Amy Reinecke (00:15:59) – I think that in terms of making money, it’s a long game. It’s not something that is built overnight. And something to consider as well is that you have to think throughout your blogging career, you are going to have times that you’re going to have to pivot. And if if you’re resistant to change, then I think that’s.
Jillian Leslie (00:16:18) – Where you get out.
Amy Reinecke (00:16:20) – Yeah, it’s really not. It’s really not. Because if you want things to be a specific way and stay that way, or if you want to learn a task and just have that task be that way for the rest of, you know, eternity, it isn’t the job for you.
Amy Reinecke (00:16:33) – Um, that is one of the things that I’ve learned to love about the job is that it is always changing it. It always gives us an opportunity for growth. And that’s a mindset shift, quite honestly. So what you’ve started, you know, at the beginning of your blog and doing that might not be working for you anymore. And and really, you have a choice there. You have a choice to stay there and be ticked off about it, or you have a choice to say, okay, what can I learn from this? And how can I improve and then show up differently and I understand that that’s frustrating. Like, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that like, it’s not okay to have a pity party every once in a while, but I think that we can kind of get stuck in the pity party. Um, I’m in a lot of different Facebook groups, and you see that quite honestly, you see a ton of complaining. And I if people put half the energy that they had in complaining and instead looking at what they can do to improve, it might just change the game.
Amy Reinecke (00:17:24) – And I think at the end of the day, you talked about the connection instead of, you know, basically people over machines. I think at the end of the day, that is one thing that doesn’t change and that is that bloggers are connectors, we are helpers, we are solution providers. And so we have to remind ourselves of that in in the day and age of, of Google and social media and all of that. At the end of the day, a lot of people still want to connect with a human. They want to know somebody sharing this affiliate link like, I love her, like I would buy ice from her because she’s amazing and I want to support her. If you’ve lost that connection with your community, maybe that’s where you focus. Maybe you start to like, really connect with your community again. You learn what their problems are. You learn what solutions you can provide to them. And I think when we tap into that and we truly get curious about who we’re serving, then we can show up differently as bloggers and we can see the purpose in what we’re doing in the first place.
Amy Reinecke (00:18:26) – I mean, a lot of us did get started for the freedom of schedule and, uh, money potential and all of that. But at the end of the day, a lot of us who sit behind these computers every single day and push out content, or people who just want to help other people.
Jillian Leslie (00:18:39) – Yeah. And I, I would say that people. Thinking about it in terms of human connection is the way you will be competing successfully against AI. And I think that we want things to be black and white, like AI is taking over, and nobody’s ever going to go to my blog again. Well guess what? Maybe some people will never go to your blog again. But the world is really big, so all you need is a small percentage of people who say, I like you and I will come to your blog like not. We’re not monoliths like or humanity is not a monolith. So will certain people go to Google and type into the AI box, whatever their issue is? Do they want to rescue a slow cooker recipe? And guess what? Some people are going to do that, but not everybody is going to do that.
Jillian Leslie (00:19:37) – There will be other people that say, I want a recipe from Jennifer because I like her style and I her recipes come out good and I like Jennifer. And so therefore I say lean again going back to that machine versus people thing. And I’m going optimize for people, not the machines. I think that’s going to become even more important. Jennifer is going to become even more important. And your blog, which somebody might have found on Pinterest, will become less important if there’s no Jennifer there. I want to take a short break to say that if you are a blogger and you do not have my blog post checklist, you need to get this because I outline how to structure your blog post. In fact, so many bloggers I know keep it on their desks next to them when they are writing blog posts. So to grab this, go to Military.com, slash blog post checklist, Military.com slash blog post checklist. And now back to the show.
Jennifer Draper (00:20:58) – Yeah, I think that that kind of sums it all up because like you said, what’s happening with monetization? Well, in the old days, we could rely on just getting that Pinterest traffic and the Google traffic and just traffic traffic, more traffic and ad revenue.
Jennifer Draper (00:21:13) – And, you know, that may change we it remains to be seen, but a lot of people have seen decreases in their traffic. So they’re feeling a little bit panicked. But I think the beauty of it is we can really differentiate ourselves by creating those solid connections, offering those really good solutions, making sure that what you’re offering is truly helping and solving a problem for someone. And we can diversify our monetization by offering out of the box solutions. We might start thinking about creating some courses or offering some digital products or offering coaching. I think there’s so many different opportunities that remain to be seen. Being a blogger, I think that the landscape is just changing a little bit, and it’s going to be less about all this competition for traffic, and it’s really going to be more about the connection you can make with the people that do land on your website and come back for more.
Jillian Leslie (00:22:12) – I agree and and thinking about, you know, I feel like it’s the fight against atomization. You know, the Covid kind of sent us all home and I don’t think we fully come back yet.
Jillian Leslie (00:22:23) – I don’t know if we will, but we are humans and humans need other humans. So if you could see that as your superpower, if you that becomes really, really valuable. And the other thing you got and in your story is, I think very inspiring, which is you said Jennifer, waking up one day, hey, we could help other bloggers, you know, and you, Amy, were like, what is that? And then some opportunity came your way and you’re like, whoa, let’s jump at this. So funny. Like people are looking at AI and going, okay, it’s going to get rid of all the lawyers and it’s going to get rid of all of the graphic designers, and it’s going to get rid of the doctors, because you’re just going to type it in, or your doctor’s going to go type it in, like all these jobs are going to go away. However, all these jobs are going to be coming. We don’t know what they are. But I know, like prompt engineer, if I said prompt engineer to you a year ago, you would be like, what the hell is that? And now it’s like, hey, maybe I could become an awesome prompt engineer for a very specific task.
Jillian Leslie (00:23:35) – Maybe I don’t even know what it is, but be looking for those opportunities that spark you, that you go, hey, I’m pretty good at this. Maybe I could get even better at this. And like you were saying, Amy, you don’t need to have a PhD. You were like, I’m a beginning blogger coaching other beginning bloggers, but chances are you were like an advanced beginner. You knew stuff that you could then be, but you were probably very empathetic because you had just been there six months ago. So to go, oh my God, WordPress is a nightmare here. Here are my shortcuts that you just figured out a month ago. So it’s not. So it’s like, but I think this is a time where you get to be creative, looking for these opportunities, breaking outside of, okay, I need to do my keyword research and I need to create my blog post, and I need to get my Pinterest pin. And I’m not saying those things aren’t important, but being open to this new Wild West.
Amy Reinecke (00:24:40) – Absolutely. And I think that brings up a really, really important point that I think a lot of people don’t quite understand, especially when they start blogging. And that is when we become bloggers. We think that we’re just going to essentially write blog posts. But what we don’t often understand when we become a blogger is that we’re going to develop all of these skills that can serve us in so many different ways in our life, whether that is, you know, volunteering. Like I, I volunteer on the PTO board at my kid’s school and I’m like, oh my gosh, I’ve learned so much from blogging that helped me with PTO. I never would have thought that, you know, but it could also be something that you could freelance for and offer support to somebody else. That’s I mean, we have to think outside of the box when it comes to making money. Anyways, I was just talking to somebody yesterday who’s like, we essentially need to be three income families in order to survive in America right now.
Amy Reinecke (00:25:32) – And that’s true. I mean, a lot of us feel like they need like three incomes. So like even a couple who’s like a family, you essentially feel like you need three incomes just in order to survive. And yeah, she’s like, it’s like one of be working two jobs, you know, in order to just make ends meet. And so think about that in blogging is it’s likely going to be more than just sitting down and writing blog posts. What else can you do? What other gifts do you have? Maybe you have a knack for writing and you could be a ghostwriter for somebody. Maybe you have a knack for photography and you could do photography on the side for somebody. Think about the things that really like spark you, like you said, hence their name too, but really spark. You really like drive that in you and like, how can you make that another stream of revenue in your business? And that’s the way that I think that blogging is going. It’s it’s moving away from just creating content to like running a fully functioning business and a fully functioning business means that you likely have people on your team.
Amy Reinecke (00:26:33) – If you’re at that point that you are bringing people on your team who are helping you write your emails or doing your Pinterest pins for you, because that’s not your zone of genius. That’s not where you’re meant to be working. You’re meant to be working on specific areas of your business, letting go of the things that you’re not as good at, but spending your time on the things that really allow you to shine. And that might mean freelancing or creating your own products or courses or things like that, and then seeking help on the side for the things that, um, take you away from that, or take your energy out of the things that can really build the revenue in your business. Like we we can see ourselves as business owners more. I think when we are willing to pay for services that we’re not the best at. And I think that that’s a really, really hard thing for a lot of us to do. It’s easier for some. For me, it’s really hard, um, to, to give that out.
Amy Reinecke (00:27:22) – But what I’ve noticed is that when you do it, you’re like, geez, like that. That was taking so much of my energy to do that anyways, so why not allow someone to help me in that, in that realm, and then in turn, maybe I can help somebody else in this other realm, because I’m really good at it and I can offer my services in that way. So I think just in regards to monetization and thinking outside the boxes, it’s more than ad revenue. It’s more than affiliate sales, it’s more than some brand sponsorships. What else can you do? What what products and services can you do exactly?
Jillian Leslie (00:27:53) – And by the way, that’s why we built MiloTreeCart for this very reason. Because we saw this. We saw this need for bloggers to have an easy way to sell digital products to their audiences. In fact, it started with a couple bloggers coming to me and saying, I want to start a membership and I don’t know how to do it, or I want to sell an e-book, and it seems really complicated.
Jillian Leslie (00:28:18) – So we said, what if we offered software where people could create a sales page in ten minutes and be able to collect payments from their customers? Now, one thing I don’t think bloggers are great at right now is selling. Getting comfortable with selling. I just did a whole series for my podcast of solo episodes on how awkward and weird it is to sell, and how we all hate it and how important it is. And it is a muscle, and you get better and better at it, like you’re working your biceps. So I’m seeing this new world where, yes, again, keywords are useful for now. Like we, you know, who knows. But you being out there with a problem that you can solve for people, or you see new problems that people don’t even know that they are suffering from, or that they need a solution for you jump on that and try it.
Jennifer Draper (00:29:22) – Yeah, I think it’s just I think blogging is being open minded and just always being aware of what’s going on.
Jennifer Draper (00:29:30) – Like you said, people are always offering advice. I mean, we’re offering advice, but it’s all based on our experiences that we want to share, and I think that can be helpful to people. But at the end of the day, what we always say is like, you can take in all this information, but you are the boss of your business. You get to decide and you know when there’s changes coming along, you want to implement some of them. And the most important thing is just to be really intentional. So be intentional about the information that you’re taking in. Don’t take in too much. Don’t overanalyze, but take in enough information. Make decisions and then try things. You’re going to have to pivot. You’re going to have to try new things. But again, keep track of what you’re doing. Keep track of the data that is a result of that, and just constantly be willing to adjust based on what you’re seeing, what you’re learning about your business, about how it performs, and all of that.
Jennifer Draper (00:30:25) – That’s really the only way to know what’s working, what’s not working. You don’t just want to make all the changes and then be like, okay, well, this was successful, but which thing that I implemented was successful. You have to be able to be a business owner and keep track of what’s going on as well.
Amy Reinecke (00:30:41) – Absolutely. Not only that.
Jillian Leslie (00:30:43) – Oh go ahead.
Amy Reinecke (00:30:44) – Not only that, but I think it’s really important to make note here too, that just because it made somebody else successful does not mean that you’re going to have the same result. And that is dependent upon your niche. That’s dependent upon, honestly, your personality, how you deliver content, how consistent you are. But a lot of times we can get caught up in, oh, so-and-so told me to do this. Well, they might be in a completely different niche than you. And so what? What works in the travel niche might not work in the crafting niche. And so you have to kind of really, I think, learn who your community is, learn who’s reading your content, learn who’s coming that that’s really getting a solid reader avatar and understanding who am I speaking to? And if you don’t know that, if you’re if you’re trying to like, speak to everybody, what happens is you wind up speaking to nobody.
Amy Reinecke (00:31:28) – And I think that that has to come into the equation here of like, who am I serving exactly? And then knowing how to serve them well. And if you try something that somebody recommended to you and it didn’t work, well, that doesn’t mean that you’re a failure. It just means that that particular advice didn’t work well. And so once again become a pivot, because that’s what we do in blogging. Pivot. Change a little bit, you know, refine it a little bit and then see what can we do differently. We’ve done that at at spark. Honestly. We’ve done that with our course. We’ve we’ve pivoted some. And it’s been very interesting to see over the years how when we’ve changed things, how it’s impacted people differently or how we can have a greater impact on people by simple shifts. And you can you.
Jillian Leslie (00:32:13) – Unpack how did you start your course, what kinds of changes did you make and what kind of results did you see?
Amy Reinecke (00:32:18) – Yeah. So one of the biggest things that we did that we we did is like we used to start with coaching calls.
Amy Reinecke (00:32:24) – And so I’m gonna, I’m gonna put my, my business owner hat on here for a minute. So anybody listening um, that’s that’s the hat I’m using here. But when we started the course, so it started out as a course, and then we did a weekly coaching calls, and we did that honestly for a couple of years. And it wasn’t until I believe last year. So. Is that right? It’s probably been a year. Yeah. Okay. So it’s been one solid year that we eliminated the coaching calls. What? Because what we found were a couple things. One, people might not do, like the weekly, uh, module work that they needed to do, and they would just show up at the coaching calls and do it. So they weren’t they weren’t really owning everything that they needed to do on their own time for their homework, or they were doing it. And then we were essentially regurgitating everything that the course had, um, on our weekly coaching call. And it was time consuming and it was a lot on us that we we really got to the point that we’re like, do we want to be this tied down in our business? Is this the area that we want to be tied down in? And because are they that impactful? And what we found is that we’re actually more impactful by using slack as a resource to communicate with our students.
Amy Reinecke (00:33:39) – You can record a video in there. You can, um, communicate in different channels. It’s been a really beautiful way for us to continually show up in our business Monday through Friday to support our students without having it be another meeting on our calendar. So that’s coming from a business owners perspective. Um, that that’s been helpful. That was a really hard change for us to make, though, to say, okay, like we’ve marketed this as having coaching calls for the last two years, and now all of a sudden we’re taking the coaching calls away. And that was hard. Those first couple things were hard. Uh, but now I wouldn’t ever go back. I would I would never go back to that other way. It wouldn’t make sense for us to do that. Now.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:19) – Did you change your pricing? Did you like anything like that?
Amy Reinecke (00:34:24) – Yes. Our pricing has changed significantly. Uh, up and down, uh, over the course of.
Jillian Leslie (00:34:32) – When did you when did you record this course and kind of what is your pricing? How has it changed and what have you discovered?
Jennifer Draper (00:34:40) – Um, so we originally launched it.
Jennifer Draper (00:34:44) – Um, and then we over time, over the next couple of years, we kept increasing the price as we, we were just like. So we were we originally recorded it in like March and April of 2020. And then we would continue to add and improve the original course over the next couple of years. And, um, we would change the formats just a little bit of the coaching calls in the support. We had a Facebook group and then we went to slack. So, um, we received some coaching that encouraged us to keep raising our price, even though we felt a little resistance to that. That’s when we took advice from an expert. Um, but at the end of the day, we ultimately decided at like the end of 2022, that none of that felt right to us. We felt that the audience that we were serving, we were not at a price point that felt good to us, whether or not it was worth it based on what we were offering, we didn’t feel it was the right price for our audience, for the people that we were serving.
Jennifer Draper (00:35:49) – So that’s why we went back to the drawing board and we said, how can we do this differently? We we still need to make money. We’re a business, so how can we potentially invest a little less of our time but still provide even more value? So that’s when we reformatted the course entirely. We rerecorded all of the modules in December of 2022 and relaunched in January of 2023, and that’s the point in which we took out the coaching calls, I believe. And then, um, is that when we lowered the price.
Amy Reinecke (00:36:24) – We lowered the price, and we also made it an evergreen course that people could join at any time. Got it. Before it had been, it had been a launch model. That’s what I was. And we were launching constantly. And that is one of the things that we did take away from our business coach that year, uh, was we were getting like launch fatigue, you know, like we’d had, I don’t even know, like 12 or 14 launches or something.
Amy Reinecke (00:36:48) – It was exhausting. In like two and a half years time, I felt like we were always launching, and it was exhausting. Quite honestly. It was taking a huge toll on us. And what it was also doing is it was pulling us away from our blogs. And at the end of the day, if we’re not blogging, then what do we have to offer anybody in our community if we’re not growing our own blog? And so we really struggled with that identity, I think, um, because it was like, well, well, how can we be coaching people if we’re not blogging ourselves? And it was just it was just a a real pivot once again, that needed to happen. And we kind of got pushed in that way to kind of ask ourselves what’s working and what’s not. And I think it’s really important whether you’re a business owner or a blogger or both. I mean, you’re both if you’re a blogger. But like ask yourself, like, is this really working for me? And that answer might scare the shit out of you.
Amy Reinecke (00:37:41) – Like, it really might and it might, it might, like, make you feel really uncomfortable. Um, but it’s necessary. It might be a really difficult conversation that you have to have with your spouse or your business partner or whatever, but you have to ask yourself, like, is this working for me? And if that answer is no, then the next question is, how can I get it to work for me better? So and I don’t.
Jillian Leslie (00:38:03) – Oh, so going back, sorry. Going back to your course, would you share what you initially priced it at, what you went up to and where you are now? Like what? Like what are we talking about?
Amy Reinecke (00:38:13) – Yep. So the initial price I believe.
Jennifer Draper (00:38:18) – 997.
Amy Reinecke (00:38:19) – Okay. The initial price was 997. Wow. It has been priced 1097. 1297. The highest we’ve ever gone is 1597. And that was the price that did not feel right. That was the price that we didn’t make as many sales. It didn’t feel right to us.
Amy Reinecke (00:38:38) – Um, do I believe that our course is worth that money? Yes, I do like I believe that the support and encouragement and the guidance that we offer with the modules is worth that 100%, like. Absolutely. But at the end of the day, um, how can we make a greater impact? And the greater impact is that we have to realize that it. At one given time. We were beginner beginner bloggers ourselves and we might not have wanted to invest $1,600 just learning. We might not have had the money to do that. So how can we? How can we offer something to somebody that has a ton of value? And at a price point that is more attainable for them. And so now our price is at 797. It it seems to fit really well. It’s a price point that people can justify. They can invest in themselves for that price point. We offer a payment plan as well. Um, and that price feels good to us because there’s not.
Jillian Leslie (00:39:35) – Are you continually marketing this course? So how are you? I know you have your podcast.
Jillian Leslie (00:39:41) – Are you running Facebook ads? Like where how are you continuing to fill up your funnel?
Amy Reinecke (00:39:47) – The course. I’m sorry. The podcast is our main driver of traffic to the course at this point. Um, really, we started the podcast in January of 2022 and it has grown exponentially over that time. And I think a big reason for that is that it’s very niche down. And I think that that in the content creation space that serves you really well when you can niche down. And I realized that that is not the journey for everybody. And I think just an understanding of that is important. But in this case it is helpful that we niche down to just blogging, especially to like beginner intermediate bloggers. Like we’re not going into like really in-depth advanced blogging concepts on the Ultimate Blog podcast. Um, our goal is to give the belief to those people who have wanted to blog, to give them the belief and the encouragement to start in the guidance. And so that’s what the ultimate blog blog. That’s what the Ultimate Blog podcast provides.
Amy Reinecke (00:40:40) – And in turn with that is that we do we offer a lot of, um, information that people can start their blogs on their own if they want. But a lot of people are really scared of that technical side of blogging, because it is a really overwhelming thing if you’ve never done it before. And so we wanted to be able to offer that to people, um, on the podcast, to be able to join us in the Ultimate Blog bootcamp. And so it really does. It drives a lot. I mean, I would say 95% of the people who joined the boot camp at this point are from the podcast. I mean, it is just the the driver of traffic, um, we’ve donated money to Facebook ads is what I’m going to say there it is. Never worked for us. Ever. Um, if anybody has any genius ideas on Facebook, ads, hit us up because, uh, we have yet to ever find a Facebook ad to work for us because, uh, it’s literally become a donation.
Jillian Leslie (00:41:32) – Yes, I get it, I get it. Well, that’s. So what? I back to the idea of niching down. I would say I agree with you. Like, yeah, you don’t have to niche down if you don’t want to, but I have never. I have seen so much success from people who niche down, and that would be that’s one of those things that you got to go, you know, find it out for yourself if it works. But that is one of those things in my five years of doing this podcast, the people who know their niche, know who they serve, know their problems, the problems that they’re solving intimately. Those are the ones who I see have the most success. So I’m totally with you about that. You know that somebody who wants. I don’t know. Tips on starting an e-commerce store. You go, no, not no, that’s not what we do. You know, this is what we do. And I think that that is really powerful.
Jillian Leslie (00:42:35) – So you guys, if I were to ask you both for one trend you think could be a trend in 2024, in the world of blogging and online entrepreneurship, what would it be? Oh, gosh, I know put you on this.
Jennifer Draper (00:42:54) – The first thing.
Amy Reinecke (00:42:55) – That comes to my mind, the first thing that comes to my mind, quite honestly, is like become very intimate with your email list. I think it’s just gold. I don’t think that’s a new concept either, but I think that showing up in that way is going to serve you well. I think that, I don’t know, don’t call this a prediction, but. People are getting a little burned out with social media, in my opinion. More and more people that I know are getting off social media. So if we are relying solely on social media to grow. That’s a risk. That’s also a choice. You can do that for sure. But you own your email list the way that you own your blog. And so that is something that I would I would just take into 2024.
Amy Reinecke (00:43:39) – Like if you do not have an email marketing strategy, I would come up with one. If you don’t have a welcome series on on your on your blog, I would come up with one. If you don’t have a re-engagement campaign, I would come up with one. I would figure out a way to get your email list engaged. I would figure out ways to grow your email list because when you know what people are clicking on, I mean, you can visibly see it. And you know, we use ConvertKit so you can visibly see it in ConvertKit. Like, what do people want? We released a podcast episode today that clearly people want. I just looked at our stats and I’m like, well, people were interested in that. They wanted to open that today. Like learn what your audience is wanting, learn what your community wants, and then give them to that show up in email and provide that to them because I know the email inboxes are. Really awful. But when you can provide.
Amy Reinecke (00:44:30) – Really.