Today we’re talking about why it’s worth growing an engaged Facebook audience and how this could be a game-changer for your business.
We talk about how valuable followers are when growing your online business because they show up for you.
And Facebook is one of the best ways to get quick and easy feedback from your fans.
Many people are underestimating the power of Facebook right now. They believe it’s hard to get organic reach.
But if you are willing to go live on Facebook regularly, and engage with your audience, Facebook will reward you.
Melanie shares strategies she uses to grow her page, how she’s built different businesses by leveraging her audience, and tips you can use for going live on Facebook.
After listening to this episode, I think you might want to reevaluate your relationship with Facebook. It might not be as cold and unloving as you think. 🙂
- MiloTree App
- MiloTree BlogStart
- Southern Crush at Home
- Southern Crush at Home Facebook Page
- Southern Crush at Home Craftathon
- Episode #017: How To Use Facebook to Go Viral with Rachel Miller
- MiloTree WordPress Workshop
- Blogger Genius 4 Biggest Takeaways Email
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Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast, brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello friends. It’s me Jillian serial entrepreneur, founder of Catch My Party and the MiloTree app and also host of The Blogger Genius Podcast.
Where I share and break down what is working in online business today, so that you can take it into your business and have success. Before I get started. I wanted to share that we offer text services and WordPress blog set up through MiloTree.
So, if you’ve got any sort of technical problems with your blog, just reach out to me at Jillian@milotree.com and we would love to help you. And if you have not started your blog yet, we recommend it beyond WordPress, and we can set it up for you.
To learn more about that head to milotree/blogstart. For today’s episode, I have my friend Melanie Ferguson on the show and she is the blogger behind Southern Crush at Home. And she also has a very large Facebook page that we’re going to talk about.
And she blogs all about DIY decorating and crafts. What’s also super cool about what Melanie does is she hosts Craftathons. And she’s been wildly successful with them and she monetizes them.
And I just thought it was such an interesting way to grow your business. So, without further delay, here is my interview with Melanie Ferguson.
Melanie, welcome to the show.
Melanie Ferguson 1:49
On Jillian, thank you so much for having me.
Jillian Leslie 1:53
You have a very interesting business. It has a lot of different parts to it. And I don’t even know how you started your business. So, could you share your origin story? So, I can learn it too.
Getting Started Selling Online
Melanie Ferguson 2:11
Oh, my goodness. Yes. So, my story starts well before the online space back in real estate where I had a business for 20 years selling homes, of course.
And so, it was the perfect segue to the online space because I was already familiar with dealing with all types of people and things that can come up. And so, when I started my Facebook, it was back when I had a real estate business.
And we were actually trying to diversify. So, we bought a historical building in our downtown small town in Texas.
Jillian Leslie 2:54
This is you and your husband?
Melanie Ferguson 2:56
Jillian Leslie 2:57
Melanie Ferguson 2:57
Yes, my husband and I live in a small town in Texas, we bought a historical building, and we fixed it up and we were going to put our real estate business in it. And then we thought to each other. This is a lot of space for just a real estate business.
And we it was right when Chip and Joanna Gaines were heating up and getting more popular. So, we thought we’ll just put kind of a home decor store in here and we’ll carry farmhouse type items. And so, we did that.
Jillian Leslie 3:28
And did you call it Southern Crush?
Melanie Ferguson 3:30
We called it Southern Crush.
Jillian Leslie 3:33
Melanie Ferguson 3:35
So, basically, we carried all sorts of home decor, and we had different vendors. And so, I knew I needed to have social media presence as well in order to grow the traffic because it is a small town.
Jillian Leslie 3:52
Okay. What year is this?
Melanie Ferguson 3:54
This is four years ago, so maybe 2016?
Jillian Leslie 4:03
Melanie Ferguson 4:04
And then we grew off of that. I was having online sales.
The Importance of Starting a Facebook Page to Sell
Jillian Leslie 4:11
So, you created a Facebook page?
Melanie Ferguson 4:13
Yes, ma’am. A Facebook page was definitely what I was leaning towards. Mainly because of the fact that you can go live and sell things. It was before Instagram even had a live option. So, I did that and then our store flooded.
So, we had quite the situation on our hands and we had to make a big decision. Were we going to redo the store inside or take the business completely online?
And that was when we made the pivot and sold the building moved home and Southern Crush at Home was born.
Jillian Leslie 5:00
Got it. So, you had this original Facebook page for your store? And then you change the name. Did you have a bunch of inventories that all of a sudden now you’ve got to sell from home?
Melanie Ferguson 5:12
Definitely. So, we did a huge liquidation over two separate full weekends, and sold just about every single thing except for the things I couldn’t possibly part with for pennies on the dollar. And that is what I started with from home.
Jillian Leslie 5:28
Wow, okay, emotionally, how was this going through this?
Melanie Ferguson 5:32
Horrific. Actually, I’ve never released it. But I’ve videotaped myself and my thoughts before I went in each day for the sales, because it was quite gut wrenching.
Jillian Leslie 5:47
And you thought to yourself, you had the peace of mind to think I’m going to pivot my business and move it online?
Melanie Ferguson 5:55
Yes, because we had already experienced a bit of success with the online space, married to the physical storefront. So, I knew there was opportunity there. I didn’t know what exactly it was going to ultimately look like, though.
Jillian Leslie 6:14
So, when you had your brick and mortar store and you’re doing Facebook Lives. Is that when you started doing Facebook Lives when you had the brick and mortar?
Melanie Ferguson 6:24
Jillian Leslie 6:25
And would you be selling items? Would you be saying, “Hey, guys, I’ve got a sale on this cool, rustic picture frame, buy it now.”
Selling Local with Facebook Lives
Melanie Ferguson 6:34
I did not do it that exact way. I would do shop tours every week where I walked around and showed him everything that was new. And that was just to come look at everything.
And then on Saturday mornings, I would have actual live sales, where I would hold up an item and give it a number. And then they would all comment they would know how many I had.
But I did it the old-fashioned way. And it was it worked really, really well.
Jillian Leslie 7:07
Did you have to contact everybody and get their credit card number and make a sale? If somebody said I want that?
Melanie Ferguson 7:14
Mm hmm. I had to go back through the comments. And I had to message each person.
Jillian Leslie 7:19
Melanie Ferguson 7:21
Yeah, they had the option to come in and pay or pay over the phone.
Jillian Leslie 7:26
So, were you getting the people from all over or was it predominantly local?
Melanie Ferguson 7:32
It was actually predominantly local.
Jillian Leslie 7:34
That’s so interesting.
Melanie Ferguson 7:36
It’s a very interesting twist, Jillian. I have to say is that about 65% of our traffic in the store was not local. But in the online space, for the social media page, it was the complete opposite.
Jillian Leslie 8:02
Interesting, interesting. Okay, so now your building is wrecked. You’re moved home, you got a bunch of inventories, and you’ve got a Facebook page. What did you do?
Melanie Ferguson 8:15
I just started going live.
Jillian Leslie 8:17
Melanie Ferguson 8:18
I was going live, once or twice a week. I didn’t do that every single day. And I tried my hand at selling things from that space. But I think where I think a lot of people get hung up, and I fell into the trap as well was shipping. And it wasn’t just shipping.
Oh, I can’t figure it out. Of course, I could figure it out. I sent things to people; the problem became a problem. When it was things, I was used to carrying in my storefront that were priceless, like antiques and one of a kind.
You can’t just replace that if it’s lost in the mail, or never gets to your recipient. So, therefore, I quickly shut down the idea that I was going to ship things I was used to shipping from home.
So, I was faced with a decision do I want to continue the same path that I have with the storefront? And just maybe go with things I can buy in bulk that aren’t one of a kind, that aren’t big, vintage picture frames that you can sell and a lot of things were huge.
And you really, you’d have to go freight or do I want to take a different path altogether and just not work in the physical realm. And that’s what I thought.
Jillian Leslie 9:48
Okay, so let’s talked through that. Which way did you go?
Melanie Ferguson 9:53
I went with the complete hands-free online space.
Jillian Leslie 9:57
And what does that mean?
Melanie Ferguson 10:00
Actually, interestingly enough, I thought, well, if I’m not going to ship, then I’m going to do print on demand. And I went in and I added Oberlo. And all of the things that you can add to a Shopify site, where it’s basically you pick the items.
People buy them from your site, and the place in another country sends it out to them.
Jillian Leslie 10:27
What was the company over?
Melanie Ferguson 10:29
Its O-B-E-R-L-O. Oberlo.
Jillian Leslie 10:32
Oberlo. Okay. So, you’re just picking items, and you’re selling these items from this overseas vendor? So, these aren’t personalized?
Melanie Ferguson 10:44
Jillian Leslie 10:45
And how did that go?
Melanie Ferguson 10:47
I did not like it.
Jillian Leslie 10:48
Melanie Ferguson 10:50
Because there is a long gap in the amount of time that it takes for them to ship things to your customers. And I was used to getting things out the door in a couple of days. And this would be more like four weeks before they would receive it.
And the quality was not there that I’m used to being able to promise. So, it was not a good match. For me. It only took me a few probably weeks to figure out that wasn’t going to work either.
Jillian Leslie 11:17
Okay. So, now what are you doing? Now you’re like, Okay. I couldn’t do this. I’m not psyched about this. What did you then come up with?
Growing an Engaged Facebook Audience
Melanie Ferguson 11:27
I decided to grow my Facebook page.
Jillian Leslie 11:32
At this point, how big is your Facebook page?
Melanie Ferguson 11:34
It’s about 4,000.
Jillian Leslie 11:36
Melanie Ferguson 11:36
Jillian Leslie 11:38
And it’s not a group, it’s a page?
Melanie Ferguson 11:41
It’s a business page.
Jillian Leslie 11:42
Melanie Ferguson 11:45
I knew that there wasn’t going to be any income immediately coming from it. Because I’m not selling a physical product. And I don’t have the numbers, you have to have a certain amount of audience to sell to, because it is a numbers game.
And I knew I just need to put my head down and grow my presence online. So, with that being said, I decided to double down what was working for other people.
The Power of Going Live on Facebook
And it looked as if what was working was going live and showing creativity, like DIY projects, things of that nature. And I wasn’t used to doing that I was used to doing more of the decorating end where I show you how to put everything together.
But then I was like, but I can certainly do the DIY part. And therefore, I pivoted my page to more of a watch me make something, you go make it and let’s put it in your home somewhere and make it look pretty.
Jillian Leslie 12:47
Okay. And how often? Did you put yourself on a schedule?
Melanie Ferguson 12:52
I didn’t, I didn’t put it on a technical schedule. So, I just went ahead and made sure though, that I was going live consistently, at least a couple times a week.
Jillian Leslie 13:05
And you’re doing projects each time?
Melanie Ferguson 13:08
I was. I was doing projects each time. And I was posting consistently every single day, multiple times a day, at that time. And there are times of the day that are better depending on your audience.
As well as there are a certain number of times you should post based on the size of your audience. And I kind of played with that until it worked best for me using the analytics and the insights that Facebook gives you.
Jillian Leslie 13:37
So, were there rules of thumb that you were using? Or was this really based on trial and error? Did you read on somebody who had gone before you who said post four times a day and these are the best times and so you started there?
Or you really were just kind of figuring it out for yourself?
Melanie Ferguson 13:57
Probably for the first eight months, I was just figuring it out for myself. And then I realized there were experts out there on some of these things. And so, I immediately latched on.
Rachel Miller is one of my mentors. She runs a business called Moolah, and she has an amazing set of steps that you can take to grow a page. And I implemented several of her ideas to my page.
One of which was to make sure you knew who you were trying to attract. And some of that had happened organically already. But it definitely helped to have her techniques on board.
Jillian Leslie 14:42
And by the way, I’ve interviewed Rachel for the podcast, so I will link to it in the show notes for people who want to go listen to her and get some of her tips. Okay. So, she said know who you’re talking to.
Melanie Ferguson 14:55
Jillian Leslie 14:57
Who were you talking to?
Melanie Ferguson 14:59
Well I probably wasn’t even cognizant of who I exactly was supposed to be talking to. But I realized that it was important in order to grow quickly to actually drill down to a specific niche.
And so, I realized it kind of shifted for me somewhere. Somewhere in there it went from just you’re a person who wants to buy something to make their home look pretty to an actual crafter.
So, instead of DIY home decorating, which is the name of my page, it’s actually more of a DIY crafter. And there’s an entire niche out there that I learned of for that.
Jillian Leslie 15:46
So, your page is starting to grow, and you’re seeing it grow?
Leaning into Crafting to Grow a Facebook Page
Melanie Ferguson 15:50
Yes, I leaned into the crafting, and I noticed the more I would lean into the crafting, the more that would flourish for me.
So, I kept leaning into the crafting, and I looked up and had plenty of people that wanted to be a part of it. A part of what it was that I was doing. And there were people that were reaching up and wanting to know how I was doing what I was doing.
And so, I branched off of there with a coaching group, and also an event that I do quarterly now.
Jillian Leslie 16:31
And I have to say this, this is so interesting, given that my podcast is The Blogger Genius Podcast. You did not have a blog at this point.
Melanie Ferguson 16:38
I did not have a blog at this point. Honestly, I had a really good friend, when I was starting this from home journey. Way before any of the issues we have in the world right now. And she was saying my sister is a blogger, and you ought to consider blogging.
And I was like, oh, no, I don’t really know what that is. And I just didn’t know anything about it. And it sounded like it was just something you do as a hobby. It didn’t really sound like anything businessey. And I didn’t have a blog.
Growing an Online Business Without a Blog
Jillian Leslie 17:17
I love that. Again, this shows that you can build your business in a variety of ways. It’s by doing exactly what you’re talking about Melanie, which is identifying what’s working and leaning into it.
And it’s like you got this teeny little like you’ve got some sparks, and you’re starting to feed the fire, and you’re starting to add some more twigs and add stuff. And then all of a sudden, you’re watching this thing grow.
And from that, then you can grow these other parts.
Add the MiloTree Pop-Up App to Your Blog in 2 Minutes!
I wanted to take a quick break to talk about the MiloTree app, the pop-up app that David, my husband and partner and I built to help bloggers grow their social media followers and email lists.
Now the great thing about it is you can grow your Facebook followers with it, Melanie uses it on her blog, and she’s got a huge Facebook page. So, that’s what you’re looking for, definitely use MiloTree.
And it will also grow your followers on Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube plus your email list. If you have not tried it yet, please pause the episode, head to milotree.com. Sign up, you get your first 30 days free, then it’s $9 a month after that.
You can cancel at anytime there is no risk. So, use MiloTree to grow your followers and subscribers which will grow your business.
Jillian Leslie 18:35
And now back to the show.
Building a Business Hosting Online Events
Jillian Leslie 18:39
So, let’s talk about some of these other parts. You’ve got coaching and then you’ve got something called Craftathons. What’s all that?
Melanie Ferguson 18:48
Well, I decided to try. I knew some basic business principles, which is two is better than one. And so, collaborating is key. And I knew that if I could get a group of people together, that were doing a similar business that we could grow it faster.
And it happened. So, I went ahead and put together a group of ladies for my very first event and called it the Southern Crush Craftathon. And it was a hit.
Jillian Leslie 19:31
Explain what it is because it’s all online. And by the way, I just want to stop for one second. I say this all the time.
The internet is a very big place and I love that you had that peace of mind the thought of abundance, which is I’m not competing with you other crafters. If I work with you, we can put our audiences together, we can promote each other.
Mindset: Abundance vs. Scarcity
And together we can be more than just one plus one is two. Maybe one plus one is three. And I love that idea of abundance.
Melanie Ferguson 20:06
Definitely, definitely. I had to learn that back in real estate. There were a lot of companies out there, everything was hush hush, you don’t tell your secrets. Nobody needs to know how you made that sale.
And then I went and worked with a company that was just the complete opposite. Everything was abundance. Sharing is caring. It was so much better. And so, I think that really contributed to my success in that field.
And I knew it would carry over to this field as well. And so, we had the event, it started out as a one day 36 crafters, 20 minutes each. They go live and my Craftathon group present a project for the public.
And the public can view it for free. And it was a hit, it was a hit. And so, I knew from there, I wanted to do it again. And so, I immediately started planning for the next event.
And about three events in we decided we were going to make it bigger and better because I was getting more and more interest from crafters who wanted to participate in it.
Jillian Leslie 21:22
So, wait, I love how you start with 36 crafters, you don’t start with six crafters. Like you’re swinging for the fences, but yet you didn’t know at this point how you were going to monetize it, or you did?
Melanie Ferguson 21:35
Correct. I did not it was all 100% free. I wanted to test the waters, see if this was a viable business concept and go from there. And yes, I want I knew I wanted it to be. Okay, let’s just back up the term Craftathon, so, I have that trademarked.
And I it came to me because I remember in high school, or maybe it was junior high, we used to do these things called the jump rope-a-thon. And it was this marathon of jumping rope.
And what made it so special was your of course, let’s be honest, it was always your parents, your grandparents and your neighbors who sponsored you and would pay like a penny to the American Heart Foundation or whatever, for each minute you jumped.
And so, to me, it was a THON because it was going to be a marathon and it needed to be long. So, I knew for 12 hours, how many crafters can I accommodate?
How many crafters can I shove into that short amount of time and benefit their businesses and still make sense? And so, 36 right out of the gate was just what worked.
Jillian Leslie 22:52
That’s amazing. And then you’re there behind the scenes having to make sure that it’s switching every 20 minutes. What is the value for somebody coming? I’m a crafter and I come and I’m a participant in your Craftathon, why? What am I getting?
Melanie Ferguson 23:08
That is where everything is different. Everything is different from every other virtual event that I’ve seen online. You go live from your page, Jillian. I share your video to my private group, and the power of it being seen by every single other person’s viewer.
So, all 36 people’s pages are coming together telling all their audiences to come view it in this one space.
Jillian Leslie 23:47
Okay, wait, wait back up. Alright, say that again? So, I’m a crafter. And I have let’s say 5000 followers on my business page, you’ve got a bigger page at this point. Right?
So, I’m going live in my house on my page. And then you are restreaming that. What are you doing?
Melanie Ferguson 24:13
I’m sharing it over into my group that I have created for the event.
Jillian Leslie 24:19
So, you can do that on Facebook. So if I’m live on my page, you can reshare my page into your page and on your business page into your group, all this stuff?
Melanie Ferguson 24:31
Yes, but I only send it to one place, because I don’t want the people to be confused, the public. And so, you are putting in your description that you are part of this event to see all of the rest of the projects, make sure that they’re in that group.
Jillian Leslie 24:51
So, my crafting is showing up on your page, but is it showing up on the other people’s pages or you’re the main focal point.
So, I’m going to go live on my page, but all my audience is going to see me but I’m sending them to your page where they can then go see 35 other crafters.
Melanie Ferguson 25:09
Yes, but it’s a group not a page.
Jillian Leslie 25:11
Okay, it’s a group? Got it. Okay. So, it’s not your page. Sorry. It’s your group got it. Okay.
Melanie Ferguson 25:17
I would never have other crafters go live on my page. There are multiple reasons for that. But it’s a group.
Jillian Leslie 25:23
It’s a group. Okay. So, when you started, how many people were in this group?
Melanie Ferguson 25:29
Oh, my goodness. So, when I had the first event, I had only, like 1000 people on in this group. It wasn’t very big.
Jillian Leslie 25:41
But because with all these 36 people are sending people to this group. All of a sudden, this group is growing.
Melanie Ferguson 25:48
Jillian Leslie 25:49
Okay, today, how many people are in this group?
Melanie Ferguson 25:52
There’s about 17,000.
Jillian Leslie 25:54
And what’s the name of the group?
Melanie Ferguson 25:56
It’s the Craftathon. Southern Crush Craftathon group.
Jillian Leslie 25:59
Love it. Okay. So, the value for me as a crafter, is I’m going live on my page. And it’s going live in your group. And then people from my audience now are coming and watching these 35 other crafters, hopefully growing their pages as well.
Melanie Ferguson 26:18
And all of their followers are coming to see your video in my group. And anytime someone taps on the video and watches it, it’s giving you the juice. Your page, the juice, if they share it, they’ve just shared your page again.
And you the people who participate in my event, grow their pages overnight by at least 500 followers.
I don’t really know anywhere else; you can go live for 20 minutes and get 500 followers. And they get thousands and thousands and thousands of views to that video.
Jillian Leslie 26:54
Wow. So, talk about the juice on their page. That’s amazing. Which will then hopefully be like an umbrella and help give that page this push in Facebook’s algorithm eyes?
Melanie Ferguson 27:08
Jillian Leslie 27:09
Okay. So, you’re doing this. You’ve done now three of them, you’re not monetizing it. You’re doing it really to grow this page, I guess, to get your name out there. Why else are you doing this?
Melanie Ferguson 27:21
So, it wasn’t monetized the first event. It was monetized every event since then.
Jillian Leslie 27:27
Melanie Ferguson 27:28
About the third event, I decided how many other people can I serve. How can I make this bigger and better? And we’ve added a second day. So, now for two times, there is a second day to the event.
It’s two full days of crafting, 54 crafters 20 minutes each. And we have double the juice almost for everyone’s business.
Monetizing an Online Craftathon
Jillian Leslie 27:52
Okay, so how do you make money? How did you figure out how to monetize it?
Melanie Ferguson 27:57
So, now each presenter pays a fee.
Jillian Leslie 28:00
Melanie Ferguson 28:00
To participate. There are three levels, they can participate at a base level, a medium level and a premier level. And we also have sponsors for the event. We’ve had sponsors since the second event.
And those people get extra. Their name is huge, they’re on the back of the shirt that goes with the event. They get their advertisement in the group during the event. And so on and so forth.
Jillian Leslie 28:27
Have you gone out to crafting brands or these predominantly crafters who are the sponsors?
Melanie Ferguson 28:33
Both. So, I’ve had DecoExchange. I’ve had Essential Stencils. I’ve had Totally Dazzled We’ve had corporate sponsors for the event.
Jillian Leslie 28:47
Wow. And how many times a year are you doing this?
Melanie Ferguson 28:50
This is four times a year now.
Jillian Leslie 28:52
So, is your life just like a total kind of crazy mastering those two days?
Melanie Ferguson 29:00
Yeah, the two days my husband brings me food. I don’t leave the computer because I am constantly putting out fires and making sure things are going smoothly for everyone.
I’ve been so blessed with this experience have only had to jump in one time ever. For a crafter that just wasn’t on the same page and didn’t present.
Jillian Leslie 29:27
So, are you dealing with all the tech behind the scenes?
Melanie Ferguson 29:30
Jillian Leslie 29:31
Like switching it up and making sure. Oh my gosh, for 12 hours a day?
Melanie Ferguson 29:36
Yes. Well, the first day now is 12 hours. The second day is six hours.
Jillian Leslie 29:41
Wow. Okay. Oh my gosh. Okay, so how many Craftathons have you done?
Melanie Ferguson 29:48
Well, we are about to have our fifth one and it is November 21st and 22nd.
Jillian Leslie 29:53
Alright. So where should people go to sign up for it?
Melanie Ferguson 29:56
It is Christmascraftathon.com.
Growing a Coaching Business of Crafters
Jillian Leslie 29:58
I love that. I love that. Okay, so from this now, you’ve been able to grow a coaching business of crafters. What is the goal? Why did this happen?
Melanie Ferguson 30:13
So, it was organic. They want to know how to make money online. And so, the way I know to teach them is how to grow your audience online. And so, my coaching group is six figure following.
How to grow your social media platforms to where you have an audience that knows, likes and trust you enough to buy from you. So, that is what I teach.
Jillian Leslie 30:43
Do you sell other things besides the Craftathon?
Melanie Ferguson 30:48
Yes. So, I knew I didn’t want a subscription, because again, that would put me back into the mix of shipping a product. I knew I wanted a membership; I just didn’t know exactly what that looked like.
Because I knew I wasn’t going to be able to commit to showing up like every week, or whatever they would have expected from me in a membership. And so, I decided to build a membership on the back-end of the Craftathon.
Jillian Leslie 31:20
What that mean?
Melanie Ferguson 31:24
That looks like basically, the public can watch the Craftathon for free for the first 24 hours of each day, 48 hours, I’m sorry. And after 48 hours, the videos disappear and go into my VIP group. So, they can join there. And that is monetized and it is growing.
Jillian Leslie 31:47
Nice. Okay. How much is that a month?
Melanie Ferguson 31:52
It is now currently $17 a month.
Jillian Leslie 31:54
So, for $17 a month, I have access to all of the past ones or just the most recent Craftathon?
Melanie Ferguson 32:02
All of them.
Jillian Leslie 32:03
Wow. I was just reading an article that people who watch nature videos, e.g. during this stressful time it calms them down. Like physiologically if shown too.
I feel like if you are a crafter, and now you have access to all of these hours and hours of crafting videos, it could do wonders for your mental health.
Melanie Ferguson 32:23
Exactly. And it’s all in one place. And it’s on order and it’s labeled. They don’t have to search the interwebs for all the things.
Jillian Leslie 32:33
For all these crafting videos.
Melanie Ferguson 32:35
And maybe they are addicted and love it and want to meet new presenters, and they’re all there.
Jillian Leslie 32:43
Oh, wow. Wow. That’s a great idea. Again, a lot of times there are these symposiums or events online. And it’s a thing where you know, let’s say it’s like a blogger event, there are all these different speakers, and you have access to it in real time.
But then if you want recordings, because it’s a lot of content to consume, you pay for the kind of membership or the package. So, you or people can subscribe monthly and then just have access.
But they don’t get new content until there’s the next Craftathon.
Melanie Ferguson 33:20
Yes, but currently, until further notice, they have always gotten additionally, one live crafting presentation a week.
So, they’re also getting fresh content every single week inside of the VIP group as well as any discounts that I find online that I can offer to them in the crafting.
Jillian Leslie 33:46
And are you doing that craft?
Melanie Ferguson 33:48
Jillian Leslie 33:50
Okay. Who’s doing that craft?
Melanie Ferguson 33:53
People from my business coaching group, people from past Craftathons that have presented who see the value.
Jillian Leslie 34:00
Wow. And let’s talk about other social networks that are important to your business. So, Facebook, by far how many Facebook followers do you have currently?
Melanie Ferguson 34:10
I am sitting at just over 100,000.
Tips For Going Live on Facebook
Jillian Leslie 34:12
How often are you going live on your page?
Melanie Ferguson 34:16
At least twice a week.
Jillian Leslie 34:17
And you’re doing crafts both times?
Melanie Ferguson 34:19
No, I do crafts maybe once a week.
Jillian Leslie 34:22
Okay. And the other time you’re just like, hey, it’s Melanie, guys. What’s up?
Melanie Ferguson 34:27
Jillian Leslie 34:28
Okay. How long do you go live for when you go live?
Melanie Ferguson 34:31
I try never to go live less than 15 minutes but my average up project would be about 20 to 30 minutes.
Jillian Leslie 34:40
Do you show up like people know it’s Tuesday Melanie’s going live at 2pm today, or is it still kind of more ad hoc?
Melanie Ferguson 34:49
It’s pretty much just I wing it.
Jillian Leslie 34:52
I personally like that because I go live in my Facebook group. I try to do it Mondays at 3pm and sometimes it doesn’t happen. And I love you who has this big page saying, you know what, I don’t even have a schedule, I try to show up.
It just takes a lot of pressure off, because people will always say no, stick to and I agree. If people knew Jillian goes live 3pm, Central Time MiloTree Mastermind group, you know what I mean?
Then they would hopefully show up and know that, but I like that you’re like, you know what, going live is better than not going live. So, it doesn’t mean if you can’t stick to a schedule, don’t go live. Go live. Would you agree?
Melanie Ferguson 35:31
I agree. 1,000%. And let me tell you why. Because when it comes to Facebook, 80% of your viewers and your views on that video will come after the fact, they will be replayed.
So, whether you were live at a specific time or not, your audience may not already be there.
Jillian Leslie 35:49
I like that.
Melanie Ferguson 35:50
They know that you’re always at a certain time, there will be a certain amount of people who will love that and get glom on to that.
But there will be the other bulk of the people who were like, “Oh, well, I know, she went live yesterday at three, I’m going to go see that maybe tomorrow or the next day.” So, it really had no bearing on the time you were live.
Jillian Leslie 36:10
I like that. And the other thing that I just recently read that I really tried to take in for my own for when I go live is to have an idea of what I want to talk about.
Because if nobody shows up, it feels like crickets and like nobody’s going to stop, let’s say it shows up in their in their feed. And I’m just sitting there waiting for people. Hey, guys, come. When somebody’s going to join.
Versus. Okay, so what I do is I talk about my most recent podcast episode and what the biggest takeaways were for me, so at least I have some content.
So, whether people show. I love it when they do, but even if they don’t, somebody who’s viewing this later, is not just getting me there kind of twiddling my thumbs, but is actually getting real content.
Melanie Ferguson 36:53
That is exactly right. In fact, I tell my coaching clients, don’t ever let me catch you saying I’m going to wait for some people to pop on. Because that is the rudest thing you can do online.
It is rude to the one person who’s sitting there. And it’s rude to the 80% that are going to watch it tomorrow. It is not a good thing. And I know for a fact multiple people who have told me that if that’s the way a video starts, they delete and they move on.
Jillian Leslie 37:24
Absolutely. So, I just kind of jump in. And I’m like, well, hopefully in my head, knowing that I’ve got an agenda. So at least I’m not psyched out. If I’m the only one talking at the beginning. That I know. Okay, let’s dig in. Let’s talk about this.
So, I tried to create that level of community even if I know it’s going to be asynchronous. They’re not going to be there with me. And by the way, that is a muscle. So, in the beginning, when you show up, and nobody’s there, it feels really weird.
And you feel very unloved. However, I love that you’re saying no, no, it’s valuable because people will see it. So, you have to assume that it’s a synchronous love that there is love there. It just might not be showing up when you’re showing up.
Always Introduce Yourself When You Go Live
Melanie Ferguson 38:14
Yes. And it’s helpful to have maybe a short slogan or something that you say every single time. For you. I guess it’s a recap. For mine, it’s my name and my brand.
I’ll say, “Hey, there, it’s Melanie Ferguson, with Southern Crush at Home. Where I hope to inspire you to create and decorate a home that you love.” And I’ll say it kind of slow.
And then about that time, I’ll see Facebook, sending out the notifications because I put myself on a notification. So, when I’m live, I can see the delay exactly. And then I’m like, Okay, well, nobody even saw it up to this point yet.
And then the people start piling in. And then I start greeting just one or two people not 50 before I actually dig into my content. And I don’t want to repeat myself, but that’s just part of it.
Jillian Leslie 39:11
And I by the way, have started to do the same thing, which is I weirdly assumed people knew who I was and what I was about. And now even though it seems weird to do for myself, I’ll go, “Hey, guys, it’s Jillian Leslie, founder of Catch My Party.”
“Founder of MiloTree and host of The Blogger Genius Podcast.” But then I give you what the benefit is. Which I say, “I take complex business concepts, but things that are working today and I break them down for you so that you can take them into your own business.”
And I only just recently started that. Melanie, where were you to tell me that I needed to be doing that. I would just kind of launch it and think oh, people know me. It’s like, why would they know me? Why would they know what value I could provide?
Melanie Ferguson 39:58
Well that and there is power in saying your name out loud. So, people retain things based on seeing it in the written form. And the verbal form.
And sometimes you have to hit them several times. But if you say, your name here and there, it sticks with the people.
Jillian Leslie 40:18
So, in the midst of your Live, you’re repeating your name?
Melanie Ferguson 40:21
Sometimes I will say, “Oh, my goodness.” And I was going out to grab this object for our project. And I was like, “Melanie, what are you thinking? You need two of those.” I’ll just drop it here and there, because it sticks with them. And Melanie, okay, yeah.
Jillian Leslie 40:38
That’s so interesting. And I will say this, today, I had this realization. I was looking through my email, and I will join people’s email lists to see what they’re up to. By the way, I highly recommend your email list.
I said that to you before we press record, it’s true. Get on Melanie’s email list. But let’s say, I find somebody and she’s an email marketer. And she’s got all these tips for email. And then her emails drift to me. And I see her name show up in my inbox.
And especially let’s say that day or the day after I remember who she is. However, three days later, an email shows up from this random person, I’ve completely forgotten her name. And she’s talking to me as if I know who she is. And I’m like, Who’s this person?
Remind People Who You Are
It’s completely lost. Let’s say she doesn’t email me for a week. And so, I realized that in my own emails, I need to remind people who I am and what I offer, because she’s now thinking, we’re besties.
And I have no idea who she is, even if I just signed up for her email list two weeks ago, I’ve signed up for 20 people’s email list, to join their newsletters. Therefore, to assume that people know you, I think is a really big mistake.
Melanie Ferguson 41:56
Definitely, and you hit the nail on the head, the email is one of the best places because even if they push, delete, they saw your name first. It’s the same thing with Instagram stories and Facebook stories.
The content if it’s great, but at the least you want to shove something up in there, because they’ll see it as they’re scrolling through the stories. So, it’s having relevance in your space.
And the repetitiveness is something that they can’t shed, if you’re everywhere.
Jillian Leslie 42:29
I love that. Okay, tell me then. So, Facebook is really important. What other platforms are really important to you? And how do you use them?
Melanie Ferguson 42:37
It depends on what your goal is 100%. So, like you were mentioning before, I didn’t have a blog. And so, as I started diving into the world of blogging and learning how definitely its business.
I learned that certain things would work to promote it better than others, and definitely used my Facebook as a tool. And that’s a whole other story. But I learned how important Instagram was for a blog. Should you decide to delve into brands.
Jillian Leslie 43:13
And working with brands.
Melanie Ferguson 43:15
Jillian Leslie 43:15
Tell me why. What does that mean?
Brands Want Instagram Engagement
Melanie Ferguson 43:17
Because for some unknown reason, I don’t really know the history there. But brands have decided that Instagram is really all that counts. And it’s as if Facebook doesn’t even exist.
However, I beg to differ if they only knew the power that they could have behind Facebook presence as well.
Jillian Leslie 43:43
I think brands are like lemmings. So, if one brand decides that Instagram is where it’s at all brands believe that. I do think that Instagram is cool. Instagram is sexy, Instagram, it just is and Facebook feels a little like fuddy duddyish.
So, if you’re like a 20 something year old brand marketer, you’re kind of like, I want to be where the cool kids are. And I think there is a lot of that. Also, you can reach out to brands, I think more easily on Instagram because everybody’s DMing.
But I agree with you, which is I don’t think it’s necessarily real, or like the right answer. I just think it’s the answer right now because brands have deemed it to be the answer.
Melanie Ferguson 44:33
Correct. And I think the way they’re looking at it and then what they’re not seeing is that yes, Instagram is where all the pretty things go. And there’s a little bit of community.
There is an entire world of community that they’re missing out on Facebook, and it’s sometimes an even tighter community.
Jillian Leslie 44:59
I would agree. I would agree, I would agree. not sexy, though. Doesn’t feel sexy. Okay. So, Instagram Tell me then how do you use Instagram for your blog?
Melanie Ferguson 45:09
Well, that’s been a little more recent of a journey. I am desperately working towards getting that optimized over there. But definitely adding to the stories adding everywhere that Instagram wants IGTV videos, they now have the reels.
And just being consistent over there, which again, is a lot less pressure, because it’s only posting once every three days versus three times in one day. So, it’s a little different animal and it has to be treated that way.
Instagram Strategy Ideas
Jillian Leslie 45:45
Okay, so how often are you showing up on Instagram? Like your feed, stories, IGTV reels, what is your strategy?
Melanie Ferguson 45:54
I post on Instagram once every two to three days.
Jillian Leslie 45:58
On the feed?
Melanie Ferguson 45:59
On the feed.
Jillian Leslie 46:00
Melanie Ferguson 46:01
And then on IGTV truly just whenever I get around to it, but I don’t just not post to iIGTV. And then stories, I’m trying desperately to be consistent every day, at least five slides, stories.
And I start each story with either myself on a video talking, or a photo of me with like something wording on it. Because the first image that you put on your story is the one that sticks the whole 24 hours first up at the top.
And so, I don’t want it to be some random image. It needs to be you. It’s more personable. And they’re like, Oh, yeah, and people are more likely to click on something that’s somebody versus a product.
So, I try to make sure that first slide or two are me either on video or a still picture. And then after that I will promote whatever it is, I’m promoting.
Jillian Leslie 47:04
Melanie Ferguson 47:06
If it’s for a brand or for myself, if I have a printable, I want you to get or if I have an event that I want you to attend. Whatever it is I’m promoting. I’ll put after that.
Email Marketing Strategies
Jillian Leslie 47:17
And let’s briefly talk about email because I think you do a really good job at email. How do you think about it, and is that where most of your sales for the Craftathon come from?
Melanie Ferguson 47:27
Email is everything. And I hadn’t gotten serious about email until about a couple years ago. And when the Craftathon was born, and slowly started to see that was going to be a viable business, I decided to be very on purpose with collecting the emails.
So, I offer the public a way to register for prizes. And I give away prizes, myself. And now more recently, the presenters are also putting in prizes, but they all go into one till and I collect the registrations for that.
So, I’ve grown my list exponentially with each event. And so, I am making sure that I communicate with that list. It used to be at least once a week, but now I have a framework set in place to communicate three times a week minimum.
Jillian Leslie 48:28
Melanie Ferguson 48:29
And more if I have something timely.
Jillian Leslie 48:32
I love that and I like that you are bold, and you’re going oh no, my people want to hear from me. A lot of times people go, “No, no, I don’t want to be a bother.”
And everything that I experienced and everything that I read is no email, do it like and if they don’t like it, guess what? They unsubscribe, and then you don’t pay for them.
So, even though again, it might hurt a little bit to go oh, I got these, people who unsubscribed.
It’s okay because you continually honing that audience of people who want to hear from Melanie or want to hear from Jillian, because hopefully we are providing value.
So, again, it’s mindset shift. Just say what I offer is valuable. Yay, somebody on my list. I’m going to give them value.
Melanie Ferguson 49:20
I think that I am the oddity here, I look forward to the unsubscribes because I have a bulk number of people just sitting there so, every time I get the opportunity to clean my list, I do.
And I feel like the ones that want to hear from me, that’s who I want to target. And I know it’s a numbers game. So, I feel like the more laser focused that group of people is that’s receiving my emails, the more sales I’ll have in the long run.
Because they are the tried and true know like and trust people that really want to hear from me? And their next natural instinct is what can I buy from you?
Jillian Leslie 50:05
Melanie Ferguson 50:06
You give so much. You go live every week and you show me stuff for free. I log in, I do this, I do that I really want to support you. I don’t have a fan group on Facebook. I don’t have donations.
This is how they support me, is going through my email, and if they see something that appeals to them, investing in it.
Jillian Leslie 50:31
There are these people. In fact, I was talking to David, my husband and partner about this, which is, there are those people who we try to really offer high value things, courses, coaching groups, that kind of thing.
Why You Want to Sell to Your True Fans
And they will buy, when we come out with a new course, they’re right there, because they know that they’re going to get value, and they trust us to provide. And I said to David, we just did a WordPress Workshop. And I went through the list.
And I’m like, I know these people, I know them because we either set up their blog, or they were in our coaching group, or they subscribe to MiloTree, the people who buy from us are people who’ve bought from us in the past.
And I think that’s a testament to Oh, we’re providing value, but it’s also to relationship building, and to leading into those people who are your fans?
Melanie Ferguson 51:27
Definitely. And another way, I’ve been growing my email list, Jillian has been free groups on Facebook.
Jillian Leslie 51:35
Okay, so first of all, wait, how often do you call your list?
Melanie Ferguson 51:40
Every 90 days.
Jillian Leslie 51:42
Okay. And the inactives for the announcement. Go ahead.
Melanie Ferguson 51:48
Other than that, it’s every day. If somebody bounced, or somebody didn’t like the email, I will delete them from it.
Jillian Leslie 51:58
Wow, okay, good for you. Can I ask you how many people on your list?
Melanie Ferguson 52:04
I am just sitting at 16,000.
Jillian Leslie 52:06
Melanie Ferguson 52:07
Really clean list.
Jillian Leslie 52:09
Exactly. High quality list. 16,000, high quality list is equal to 100,000 of people who are just hanging out on your list that you’re paying for.
Melanie Ferguson 52:20
Jillian Leslie 52:21
Okay, so tell me what you were saying about groups?
What Is the Value of a Facebook Group?
Melanie Ferguson 52:24
So, for Facebook groups, I know that there’s that little trigger where you can ask people questions before they join. And I don’t require them to provide their email address.
But I do ask them is there an interest there for them to keep in touch? And I can share with them XYZ depending on the group. I will tell you, probably 90% of the people give their email address, whether it’s a good one or not. But still they give the email address.
And when I get them into my list, based on the group they entered from, they get a specific welcome series. And from there, I’ll immediately know, obviously, if it was a good email address.
And we move on from there, and so far, the net gain of subscribers has been well worth it.
Jillian Leslie 53:18
That’s terrific. How many groups do you have? And do you manage?
Melanie Ferguson 53:24
I believe I have five right now.
Jillian Leslie 53:26
Wow. And they’re all different?
Melanie Ferguson 53:29
They’re different. But one of course, is my VIP group for the Craftathon and one is the Craftathon group. So, the others are specific to my niche.
Jillian Leslie 53:44
And how do you break them out? What are those three? How do you differentiate them?
Melanie Ferguson 53:49
Well, it’s really clear. So, I have a Christmas group. And I have a buffalo check group. And I have a new group. It’s a cricket group.
Jillian Leslie 53:57
Oh, wow. What is buffalo check?
Melanie Ferguson 54:00
Buffalo check is like buffalo plaid.
Jillian Leslie 54:02
Oh, okay. Oh, wow. Those are very specific niches. Okay. And so, are you funneling? How are you getting people to join these groups?
Melanie Ferguson 54:11
I haven’t done anything. It’s the power of Facebook.
Jillian Leslie 54:14
Wow. So, you just put these groups up and people are joining? And are you jumping into all of these groups often?
Melanie Ferguson 54:20
I’ll post once a day in each group, just to keep interaction and those are highly engaging posts, and I will do a welcome post every week on Wednesdays. That just welcomes all the new people and I get lots of interaction on those.
And then I post once a week, a blog post that is relevant to that specific groups niche.
Jillian Leslie 54:54
Oh my God, you are the hardest working person in online business. Oh, Melanie, okay, we’re going to have to do a part two, because this is just so good.
Melanie, if people want to reach out to you learn more have questions or want to know your Facebook strategy of how you did this. What what’s the best way?
Melanie Ferguson 55:22
I guess they can either message me on Facebook, because I’m there all the time. Or they could go to my blog and go to southerncrushathome.com/sixfigurefollowing.
Jillian Leslie 55:35
And what will they get at Six Figure Following?
Melanie Ferguson 55:38
They will get a menu of choices. They can find my Facebook famous formula, which is a little mini course on how to capitalize when you go live on Facebook and make the most of it.
And then they will have the opportunity to learn more about my coaching that I offer on growing your audiences across social media platforms.
Jillian Leslie 56:03
Oh, Melanie. Well, this has been such a pleasure. I’m so glad we’re friends. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
Melanie Ferguson 56:10
Thank you so much for having me. Jillian, you are always such a joy to speak with. And I love love love. We didn’t get to go into it. But I love all of the services you offer. And MiloTree has been a huge player in the growth of my online platforms.
Jillian Leslie 56:26
I love that. And we will do a part two.
Melanie Ferguson 56:29
Jillian Leslie 56:30
I hope you guys got a lot out of my interview with Melanie. I think this is a perfect example of something I teach which is called emergent business building. You start somewhere.
And as that starts growing, you start to see opportunities around you and build that way. It’s really a bottom up strategy, not a top down strategy. And for online business. I don’t think there’s any other way to grow a successful business.
So, think about that in your own business, what’s working, what can you lean into and are there opportunities you can see around that. And remember, if you need blog tech help, we are here reach out to me at Jillian@milotree.com.
And if you are ready to start your blog, I can’t think of a better time than right now. We would love to set it up for you and optimize it. We are here for you. We are here for questions, anything.
So, add that. You can learn about it milotree/blogstart and I will see you here again next week.
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Let it pop up in front of your visitors and ask them to follow you on Instagram Pinterest, YouTube, Facebook, join your list, check out the exit intent but really get your community growing. And we’d love to help you with MiloTree. And I will see you here again next week.