What are secret ways to monetize your blog that you need to know?
I am interviewing Christina Hitchcock, and Corinne Schmitt, the two women behind The Smart Influencer. They coach bloggers and online entrepreneurs to work smarter and grow their businesses.
In this episode, we take a high-level view on all the secret ways bloggers monetize and what the journey actually looks like!
We talk about:
- How not to get caught up in being busy
- How not follow what others are doing
- How to think about creating content people want to read
- How to work with brands
- And why creating products is where the big money is!
Table of Contents
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- 5 Secrets Successful Bloggers Already Know
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- All Blogger Genius Podcast Episodes
- MiloTree on TikTok
- The Smart Influencer
- The Smart Influencer Podcast
- It’s a Keeper
- Wondermom Wannabe
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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, my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I’m your host, Jillian Leslie and I am a serial entrepreneur, I build businesses with my husband. And I’ve also been recording this podcast for four years.
The product I am most excited about right now that we are building is called MiloTreeCart. And it is a way to easily sell and get paid for digital products on the internet. Somebody recently said to me what does that really mean? So I wanted to tell you what it is and also why we built it and a little bit about our philosophy.
So what it is, is if you want to set up a paid workshop, a membership, coaching and coming soon digital downloads, this is the platform for you. We offer you unlimited products, and the best part, free sales pages unlimited that we host for you that you can set up in 5 to 10 minutes.
Now, we do not charge a monthly fee like a lot of our competitors, like SamCart or ThriveCart or Kajabi, or Teachable, we are a much less expensive platform than these, we only make money when you do we take a 5% transaction fee. And that is it. And we did this because of our philosophy.
Our philosophy is we want to put out incredibly easy solutions for you. And the best part is we want you to have fun with it. It’s so easy to use. We want you to get creative, thinking of all the products that you could sell to your audience.
So head to milotreecart.com, sign up for your free account, start creating some digital products and see what connects with your audience. If you’d like me to help you get set up, just email me, firstname.lastname@example.org. And we’ll get on a call and we’ll get you set up.
For today’s episode. I’ve got a really good one. I am interviewing Christina Hitchcock, and Corinne Schmitt and these are the two women behind The Smart Influencer. They coach bloggers and online entrepreneurs to work smarter.
Secret Ways to Monetize Your Blog
What I really like about this episode is we elevate up and look at the landscape for how bloggers and creators actually grow businesses and make money.
If you’ve been struggling with this, or if you want a really clear view of what it looks like to build a successful business what the stages are that you will go through what the different revenue streams look like. I think you’re going to really like this episode.
So without further delay, here is my interview with Christina and Corinne from the Smart Influencer. Christina and Corinne, welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast.
Corinne & Christina 3:25
Thanks so much for having us.
Christina Hitchcock 3:27
I love you guys in unison. Will each of you, introduce yourself so they can hear your different voice and share just a little bit about your background and how you got into blogging.
I’ll start. I’m Christina and I am Corinne’s partner in crime and I started blogging in 2010. I created a food blog website way back in the day after watching the movie, Julie and Julia, where she blogs her way through the cookbook and I was cleaning my house and I had this pile of recipes as I’m watching the movie.
I’m like I’m going to blog my way through this pile of recipes. And I had no idea how to start a blog. So like I’m googling “How to Start a Blog?” And from there the rest is history. I just googled it and completely self-taught.
I was working full time and blogging on the side and was eventually able to grow my site to where I was able to leave my full time job and focus 100% on my website and I haven’t looked back since it’s been the best adventure ever.
Jillian Leslie 4:29
Corinne Schmitt 4:30
Now and I started in 2013 a little bit after Christina, my youngest kid had started school and I still wanted to be there before and after school for my kids. And there are not a lot of jobs that let you have that flexibility and actually pay anything.
And even if you’ve been a stay at home mom for a while. I think once you’ve worked in the work world, it’s really hard to move backwards and I wasn’t I’m willing to.
So, like Christina, I went and got a book. I’m like, oh, how to blog, read a book. But that seems easy enough and started it. And yeah, never looked back since it’s been my favorite thing to do ever since I started it.
Christina Hitchcock 5:14
And you’re Corinne. Tell me about how you guys then met up and started working together and what your mission is?
Corinne Schmitt 5:22
So Christina and I met at a mini conference, it was like a retreat. And we had both gotten there early. And we laugh about this, because everything we’ve done since then together. We’re trying to recreate the circumstances under which we met.
Like that hotel lobby, meeting someone that’s there for an educational purpose that really we know all of the secrets and all the magic comes out in those private conversations in between sessions.
So, we had both got there early. Christina and I, for reference she has a police in her background, I was married to a marine. So we went to this restaurant Beignets, it’s actually in New Orleans. And she and I were both friendly, fighting over the same seat.
Because coming from the law enforcement background, both of us have been trained, you don’t sit with your back to the door, you want to see who’s coming in so you can assess any threats.
Christina Hitchcock 6:25
Don’t know why we felt threatened. But we did.
Corinne Schmitt 6:29
So, we were both fighting for the same seat. And then it came out that we have this in common and we’ve been besties ever since.
Christina Hitchcock 6:36
So when you set out to help bloggers, what did you think they were struggling with the most? Where do you think bloggers make the most mistakes?
I will definitely say and this is one thing that I noticed time and time again, when talking with different influencers is that we tend to prioritize busy work over activities that are actually going to grow our businesses.
So we get caught up in emails that don’t matter and scrolling in Facebook and social media things. We’re not actually doing activities that are growing our business, but we’re wasting our time in other things where we think we’re busy, but we’re not really.
Stop Prioritizing Busy over Growing a Business
Well, we are busy. We’re just not making any money.
Exactly. We’re keeping ourselves active, we’re actively doing things like you said, it’s just not productive work that’s providing a return on our investment of time.
Jillian Leslie 7:37
Absolutely. One thing that I am always sharing is how does this directly lead to money? And it sounds really kind of callous. But chances are, you’re not doing this as just a hobby. There’s a difference between a blogger who’s just putting their thoughts out there, who just wants to express themselves.
And women, especially who go no, no, this is to make money. This is to send my kid to college one day, this is to take that family vacation.
So I’m always saying, you think you’re growing your Instagram followers, and eventually that’s going to make you money. And I say back that up and tell me how’s it going to make you money today?
Christina Hitchcock 8:22
And I think that’s one of the biggest mistakes we see. And we’re guilty of it too. I catch myself doing stuff like that all the time. And I actually have to have that conversation with myself. I’m always using ROI, the return on investment, and my investment is my time. So what’s that return on my time?
Am I actually making something back by doing whatever activity it is that I’m arguing with myself about?
So let’s talk about then, when you are advising bloggers about this issue. And you say go this way to make money go this way to grow your business. What is this way and this way?
Stop Chasing What Others Are Doing
Corinne Schmitt 8:59
So actually, I want to talk about that for a second. Because I think that’s the other mistake we make as bloggers the most. It’s chasing what somebody else is telling us to do. Chasing someone else’s success.
All of a sudden, somebody is doing well on TikTok, and we’re like, oh, we’re missing an opportunity. I have to go hop over to TikTok that may not align with what you want to do.
So Christina and I are very consistent when we’re talking with other bloggers less consistent in following the advice ourselves and we always regret it when we don’t, is that you should pay attention to what’s going on in our landscape.
First and foremost know where it is you’re trying to go. And then you pick the pieces out of what people are telling you and what you’re seeing and you fit that into your game plan but you have to get solid there first. Like, I want to build my site or do I really want to build a brand and be famous?
Do I want to work with a lot of brands do I want to do sponsorships? Because your approach for landing a lot of sponsorships is very different than your approach if you want to make a lot of money from creating your own products, or you want a lot of passive income but you need to know what that is.
Christina Hitchcock 10:07
I love this. Let’s walk down these different paths. So when you talk about this, and you say, hey, let’s say a beginning blogger, somebody who already has a blog and is getting traffic, and let’s say an expert blogger.
Jillian Leslie 10:23
Let’s start with the beginning blogger, what do you recommend as a way to quick start their income?
Christina Hitchcock 10:31
Right out of the gate, I would say there are two things you need to focus on. Number one is SEO, you need to learn the current SEO practices, and how you can make the most of that when creating your content.
One of the mistakes I made when I first started out blogging, and I’m still correcting them today, 12 years later, is I was creating recipes I wanted. Things that I wanted to make, I was just making them, I didn’t give a thought to SEO, what people were searching for.
Do SEO Research to Post About What People Want
So now I’m a little more strategic, I’ll still make things because I want to make them and I’ll post them on my website. But I’m more strategic in creating my editorial calendar and looking to see what are people actually searching for.
I would say the other thing I would tell people to focus on right out of the gate is email and email marketing, because that is the one consistent I mean, it’s constant over any of the social networks, which are so volatile in today’s society.
Okay, to back that up a little bit. When you say looking for opportunities, how often do you recommend I’d be blogging and creating new, highly optimized for SEO content?
Corinne Schmitt 11:44
So I get everything and I hate this but in our industry everything comes back to “it depends” but it does, it does depend on it. And I hate that answer when people give it to me, but I’ll justify the answer here.
In my opinion, you should never put out a piece of content, that isn’t going to be the absolute best answer to that for SEO purposes it should be the absolute best response.
Now, if you can only manage to do that once a week, then that’s how often you publish it. But if you’ve got more bandwidth, you’ve got the ability to do that on a more regular basis than do it more often. It’s a numbers game.
The amount of keywords you go after, the more you are after that you can rank for, the more traffic you will get, the faster you’ll succeed. But if you can only put together a high quality piece of content. And you can only do that once a week do that, as opposed to putting out low quality content three times a week.
So it does depend the more you can do the better. And the faster, you’ll scale. And it’s just that math.
Christina Hitchcock 12:52
And one piece of advice Corinne gave to me because we had this conversation a few weeks ago, I was sitting on a bunch of content that I had updated. And she’s like, “It is not making you any money just sitting there in draft format, get it out.”
So even if you have it, just publish it, get it out there and let it start doing something in percolating you don’t have to sit on it and dribble it out.
Corinne Schmitt 13:12
I don’t work for Google. But I’m pretty sure Google doesn’t give you a Perfect Attendance Award for publishing every day.
Jillian Leslie 13:19
I like that.
Post Your Posts That Don’t Feel Ready
Corinne Schmitt 13:21
So, if you’ve got the content, and it’s ready to go, why don’t you have it out there? Because it’s not getting you any traffic. It’s not doing any better in search while it’s in draft mode.
Christina Hitchcock 13:31
Absolutely. So let’s talk about email, because that was the other thing that you recommended. Grow your email list. Why?
Because when you have that email address, you are able to regularly communicate with that person, you are getting that invitation into their inbox. And a lot of people are very private about their giving out their email.
So when they trust you enough to give that to you, they are giving you the okay to come into their inbox on a regular basis and share your new content with them. Where on social media, it’s more haphazard.
It’s like scrolling through TV channels. You’re just kind of scrolling. You don’t have that relationship where they’re actually trading you something for something else. And I just think email is the smarter way to go.
Once you have that email address until they unsubscribe, you are able to actively reach out to them. Where on social media, you are at the whim of that algorithm.
Jillian Leslie 14:35
Corinne Schmitt 14:36
And you control more of the sales funnel at the point that you’re selling products. If you put a link on Instagram, maybe Instagram will show that to people maybe not, maybe some will open the email, maybe not. But if they didn’t open it on email, I can send them another one.
I can tag them if they hit certain things so that I know what offers to target them with. I don’t have any of that capability on social.
All the social networks locked down their analytics to some extent, for privacy concerns, which is great, but at least an email, you can tag people like they’re engaging specifically with you directly with you.
So you can know that this person likes Instant Pot recipes, they don’t like airfryer. And you don’t send them your airfryer stuff, you’re not annoying them. So it’s a better service to them. It’s a better conversion for sales, just all around, it’s a better experience for everyone.
Christina Hitchcock 15:28
So what I hear you saying is beginning blogger focused on creating content for your blog for Google that is SEO optimized that is solving specific problems, and grow your email list. Perfect.
Jillian Leslie 15:42
Now, I’m that mid-level blogger. So I’m starting to get traffic. I am maybe making a little bit in AD income. Maybe I’m making a little bit in affiliate sales. How do I accelerate my business where I’m starting to see some traction? Not a lot of money, but some traction. What does that person do?
Start Selling Products to Your Audience
Corinne Schmitt 16:08
To me, it’s product sales. So once you have a certain amount of traffic, and for everybody it is different. But once you’ve hit your end with an ad network, because I feel like the ad revenue jumps dramatically when you can get in with an ad network that actually pays you a higher RPM.
So once you can get in with Mediavine or AdThrive, and you’ve got good passive income coming from your ad revenues. So you have some time to breathe, because early stages, most people I know get muddy down in sponsored work, because they’ll pay you a pay check now.
Christina Hitchcock 16:41
Let’s talk about that. So what happens is, let’s say I’ve grown my Instagram and a blog sees that I’ve got 10,000 followers on Instagram. And I again, I think somehow, when I hit a magic number 5,000, 10,000 20,000 money is going to fly in the windows, but brands are reaching out to me.
Jillian Leslie 16:43
So initially, brands are saying, hey, I want to give you some product. And your thought for that is yay or nay am I going to do it.
Corinne Schmitt 17:10
Jillian Leslie 17:11
But then brands are coming to me and saying, “Hey, I’ve got a budget of a couple 100 bucks. However, I need you to jump through these hoops in order to get that money.” And I might come back to you and go, “I don’t like your photos. I don’t like that video, you’re going to have to redo it, rework it.”
What is your thought about that? Do I do that work?
Corinne Schmitt 17:29
And this is where I feel like, again, it’s an it depends answer. It’s what your threshold is. But for me, I’m stingy with my time. And I always have been even when I wasn’t making much money with my blog, I was stingy with my time.
And I made the mistake a few times, because when you’re first starting out, you don’t know that that’s going to happen. But the first time that I had to go redo an entire post, from then on, it was in my contract, you only get one edit, or we won’t reduce your images, whatever it was.
And for me, it was photography, it always came down to photography, I was not reshooting images. So, if they wanted me to do that it was they pay another 50% of the fee to get me to do so. Or they needed to be specific about what shots they wanted. That way I knew I didn’t make the mistake in the photography.
Know Your Boundaries When Working With Sponsors
So again, you’ve got to know your boundaries. So just like you need to know what it is that you want to happen. You need to know your boundaries. And when it comes to sponsored work, this is another thing I think people should do early on, even when you’re a baby blogger.
And I don’t mean a baby, but that’s what I considered myself when I had small blog, it was a baby blog, I was a baby blogger, I didn’t have impressive numbers anywhere. What I wish I had done then, and it took me a little while to figure it out was to really figure out my vision of what I wanted to be doing with my blog.
It will change it will change because you’ll get a book deal or things will happen or you’ll get speaking gigs. Things that you didn’t anticipate would happen. But as much as possible figure out where it is you want to be making your money do you like passive income?
Do you really like working with brands, whatever that is, but figure that out early so that when you take sponsored work because it’s a key revenue stream for most bloggers at some stage in your journey.
So if you figure that out early, that you’re going to want passive income, you’re not going to want to work with brands forever, you’ll be more selective about the brands you work with, because they’ll fit better and the content that you create will be evergreen.
I still make money on my sponsored posts, which was not something that occurred to me that I could do for the first year that I was doing sponsored work.
I was always just trying to make the client happy and I wasn’t thinking necessarily about what was going to serve my blog in the long term and what was going to serve my readers in the long term. I think you would do that a little bit faster if you figured things out sooner.
Get the Five Secrets Successful Bloggers Already Know Cheatsheet
Since we’re talking all about how bloggers make money on the internet, I welcome you to grab my free PDF download called the 5 Secrets Successful Bloggers Already Know, to Make Six and Seven figures, these are the things you want to start setting up in your own business.
I wish I knew this when I was just starting out. So to grab it, go to milotree.com/secrets. Milotree.com/secrets. And now back to the show.
Christina Hitchcock 20:34
So, I have a couple of points here, since we’re talking about sponsored content. Number one, when we first started, back in the old days, there wasn’t the plethora of resources that there is today.
There’re all kinds of free groups that you can get in and pick people’s brains and other influencers’ brains who have been there, done that, and get kind of the baseline of what you need to do. And what you need to include in a contract and what you should be looking for. So that’s super important.
Jillian Leslie 21:09
By the way, are you talking about Facebook groups?
Christina Hitchcock 21:12
Yes. Facebook groups. Yes. Or wherever you congregate digitally with people. So, if it’s a mastermind, a Facebook group wherever, bounce ideas off of them, and reach out and crowdsource for some information, but do your own due diligence and check into everything.
The other thing I’m going to say is you have to know your value. You have to know what your time is worth, like Corinne said she is stingy with her time. She values that at a higher level, if right now all you have is time to give, your value might be a little lower, you might be able to do the work for a little lower.
So you need to, to think about that, and how you value your time. And I think that is super important.
Know How to Value Your Time
Jillian Leslie 21:52
And I was just going to add, you could do a very easy back of the envelope calculation and say, how much money am I making currently? What is my per hour income? How many hours is the sponsor post really going to take? Because I would say come up with an estimate and double or triple it.
Christina Hitchcock 22:14
Jillian Leslie 22:15
Because we are bad prognosticators around time. And then do the math and say, okay, they want to pay me $300, $3,000. What does that look like on a per hour basis? And does this fall within what is acceptable to me?
Christina Hitchcock 22:15
Yes. And actually I have a spreadsheet that I use to calculate that all out. Every step of the process for doing a sponsored post. And just so I don’t forget, and I can get a baseline number and I say, okay, this step is going to take me two hours, this is my hourly rate, this step is going to take me three hours, this is my hourly rate.
And then I total it all up at the end and see where I’m at. And does this number make sense to me? And then I go from there. It’s like a jumping off point.
And one thing I want to say is the numbers, especially if you’re working directly with the brand, which usually is a PR agency, those numbers are fungible, meaning at a certain point, you do the math, and you go, oh, wow, they want to pay me $500, which seems like a ton of money.
Jillian Leslie 23:20
But when I do this calculation, I need to be paid $1,000. Guess what? Go back to them at $1,000. Because if they say no, who cares. It’s not worth your time. Maybe even ask for $1,500 go be ballsy and see what happens. Because they put a number down doesn’t mean it’s the final number.
Christina Hitchcock 23:42
Right. And I personally have a rule and I call it working for the jar of mayonnaise. So, if a company came and offered me a jar of mayonnaise to do a sponsored post, I’m probably and I use the word probably. Probably not going to do it.
And now I may give them like a social shout out if I like them. But you also have to think about where this connection can lead down the road. Is there a potential to make a connection that will be more lucrative later on? And is this just your foot in the door offer.
So while it may not be the exact thing you want right now, it doesn’t have the potential to be better later and are you building that relationship? So you always have to think about that. Like Corrine said, it’s always an “It depends.” There’s no magic.
There’s no magic number. There’s no magic answer. You really have to think about everything.
Jillian Leslie 24:33
Yes. Now, you Corinne mentioned products and I as you know with MiloTree Easy Payments, which is going to be branded MiloTreeCart very soon.
I am a big fan of selling to your audience, and I’m all about selling your knowledge to your audience and my hypothesis which it keeps getting proved true over and over again is, if you have an audience, there is money to be made selling directly to them.
And this is why, again, Christina, you talking about growing that email list is so valuable because these are typically the people who will buy your offer. So can you guys speak to where you’re seeing success with people selling products.
Corinne Schmitt 25:24
So right off the bat, because we talk to people a lot about this because it’s a new revenue stream, especially for a newer blogger, it’s not one that most people jump right into.
Normally, we’re trying to make ad revenue, we do the sponsored work, and then you eventually get to affiliate sales. Well, if you can make affiliate sales, you can sell your own products, and then you keep all of the money.
How to Start Selling Products on Your Blog
But the easiest way to do it for people that are a little shy about that, and you don’t want to invest a lot of time, all of my initial products were content I had already created, I just repackaged them and then attached a fee to it.
So I do a lot of printables, for example, on my site, so I would bundle them. And even though you could get every single one and same with my recipes, every single one of the recipes in my first cookbook was already published on my site.
If you wanted to spend all day hopping around on my site to get them, you could, but we have time or you have money, it’s always a trade-off between those two, and you will find that many, many people would rather spend the money.
Christina Hitchcock 26:28
Because they value their time.
Jillian Leslie 26:29
One thing we were talking about before we press record was proof of concept like you started with the Tripwire and you saw that it worked. Can you share that story?
Corinne Schmitt 26:29
Set Up Tripwires On Your Blog
Jillian Leslie 26:32
So what a tripwire is and how you were able to figure this out?
Corinne Schmitt 26:44
Okay, so I’ll start with what it was, and then back into the language. So I had a lot of Instant Pot recipes. And they were doing very well. So I had a lot of posts already that people were landing on. And I’m like, oh, I want to start getting their email address. So I created this Instant Pot cheat sheet that was an opt-in.
Jillian Leslie 27:03
So what was the cheat sheet?
Corinne Schmitt 27:05
It was just like, for a lot of the foods that you would routinely cook in the Instant Pot, just put cooking times, like what to set it at and how long. So just a sheet of the most commonly cooked items. And it’s just something that you’re meant to print off and keep with your Instant Pot or on the refrigerator or whatever.
So super simple, didn’t take that long to create. And people would opt in for it, you land on the post and you would see that I had this cheat sheet you give me your email address to get it and then you’d get every week my new Instant Pot recipe as well.
So once I had enough Instant Pot recipes, I just took them all and put them in a PDF and made an Instant Pot cookbook.
Christina Hitchcock 27:45
Again you did this on Canva how’d you do this? Is it pretty?
Corinne Schmitt 27:49
It was not especially pretty. No, this was way back when I did it in Microsoft Word. So, it wasn’t pretty. I think I did a photo index. So you could see what each of them were supposed to look like. I did that in Canva. I didn’t have it for each recipe.
So the photo index was at the front. And actually it’s exactly the same. I’ve never revamped that cookbook. It’s exactly the same if you opt in on my cheat sheet.
So what happens now is you sign up, you’re on an instapot recipe, you see the cheat sheet advertised, you fill in your email, and then it takes you to what I call the Tripwire page..
Jillian Leslie 28:28
Which is a Thank You page. Usually when you sign up for somebody’s email list, you get this page and the weird part is everybody sees it.
Corinne Schmitt 28:29
Jillian Leslie 28:29
So if anybody sees it, it’s like a highly valuable page. So instead of it just being like, “Thank you for joining we’ll be sending the cheat sheet in your email.” You decided to use that.
Corinne Schmitt 28:55
Right. And it still does say that, “Thank you for signing up.” And here’s the beauty of this step is they have just given you their email address, they are already on the Instant Pot site. They know who you are, they know why they are communicating with you.
So this is the most connected. Ironically they’re going to build with you unless they stick around for years to come and are opening all of your emails. So they still know who you are. You’re not a stranger to them.
So you say, “Thanks so much for signing up. Hey to welcome you here I’ve got a special offer. I’ve got this Instapot cookbook.” And I’m not confident when it comes to pricing so I always price things really low. So my cookbook was $4.99 full price and I tripwired it at $2.99.
Jillian Leslie 29:37
So you give the discount?
Corinne Schmitt 29:40
So, to welcome you it’s a big favor to them. To welcome you you’ve got this special offer, you’re never going to see it again and they really don’t. I hold to that I want to be true to my word. You get it now for 40% off or it’s always available in my store if you want to buy it for full price but right now you can get it for $2.99.
Jillian Leslie 30:00
And what happened when you rolled this out?
Corinne Schmitt 30:02
So many conversions, I don’t think that thing had been live for an hour and I’d already made two sales, which doesn’t sound like a lot. But the fact that I hadn’t sold anything before this was miraculous to me.
And every single day even through low traffic times, I sell one of those. Every single day, I get notifications for that. And it’s only $3. But once I set it up, I don’t do anything else I made thousands of dollars off that cookbook.
Jillian Leslie 30:32
Here’s the thing that I think is even more empowering about what you just said, people were willing to take out their credit card for you and buy a product that you created. When I am helping people set up a paid workshop with MiloTree Easy Payments, aka MiloTreeCart, and they get sales.
The first sale, they will typically message me and go, somebody purchased. And I can feel them almost like coming into their own as an entrepreneur in a whole new way. Because it’s not just like, “Hey, I made this Instapot recipe, check it out if you’d like of course it’s for free.”
But it’s like, “I made something of value that you’re willing to pay for. And that is I think mind blowing for many of us.”
Christina Hitchcock 31:25
Yes. And I think today too, like you mentioned, your product makes it easy for them to sell. There’s so many tools out there today that makes it easy to create these products, like you mentioned Canva. So that’s one of the tools I use.
But I also went out on Creative Market and bought a template for the eBook. So I didn’t have to worry about the design. I purchased the template it was a one time fee. I think it was like $20. And I can use it over and over and over again to create different eBooks.
So not just one, so Corinne has her Instant Pot one, I created one for Flavored Moonshine recipes, because that was some of the most popular content on my site. So I’m like people are flocking to these recipes. What else can I do? I’ve created an eBook where I’m giving them even more recipes.
And that one sells for me like hotcakes. It’s fantastic. But I didn’t have to worry about designing the whole eBook myself and everything.
Or hiring somebody to do it for you.
Yes, $20. I bought the template. I imported it into Canva. And it’s just drag and drop and put in some text and it was done. It’s something you could do in a weekend really quickly.
Grow Your Email List as a Blogger
I love that. There are two things. One. So now we’ve talked about this mid-level blogger. And your recommendation is continue to grow your email list, continue to work on your posts, and now you’re making, some money with sponsors, but you’re being particular about which ones you decide to work with.
Jillian Leslie 32:57
Maybe you’re making some money with affiliates, and then start exploring product sales. Product sales can also be, “Hey, sign up for a coaching session with me and get that one-on-one experience.” I know that somebody I’ve worked with helps people set up their gardens and she teaches all about that.
And again, same idea. You can go to her blog, get all of that information. But if you have specific questions about your garden, and you want to book a call with her, and she’ll go through what she recommends you do Godspeed, that’s another product that you can sell.
So now let’s talk about the person who’s kind of cooking and growing, what is your thought for that person to really accelerate their business?
Corinne Schmitt 33:42
So this is why I like product sales because I feel like once you open that door it balloons out because you go from Tripwire to now you create some other products. And you’ve got a bump offer a cross sell offer that you can offer them with that then you bundle things together and you’ve got an upsell.
So all of a sudden that cart value goes from $3 to $30 and you’ve 10 times your income and you haven’t really added a lot of work. And again most of these products sales once you set them up and you set up your email sequences, you set up all the things that sell it it’s set and forget for the most part.
Most of my funnels once I set them up other than tweaking them I don’t go back and touch them so they just continue to make money. So once you’ve got that, you can scale all of your income very quickly. And then I will say the piece that never goes away is the traffic driving though.
I’d say half of my active work time is still dedicated to figuring out keyword research what niches to go after it is driving more traffic because it is a numbers game.
So the more traffic you can push into the system. The more people you can get on your list, the more conversions you can get on your Tripwire the more sales you make overall, the more affiliate clicks, you’ll get, everything ties to the traffic coming in. So that piece never goes away.
Jillian Leslie 35:05
I love that.
Corinne Schmitt 35:06
I don’t have 10 million pageviews. But I’d still be going for 100 million, there’s never going to be enough.
Jillian Leslie 35:12
I have to say I interview so many successful bloggers on my site. And I will say that they have followed, the ones who are making seven figures have done exactly what you guys have outlined, and they are making the majority of their money via product sales.
They’re still making a ton of money, a lot of them have tremendous traffic. But really, when they’ve been able to figure out that product piece, then they can start selling higher ticket things like masterminds or memberships or courses.
Don’t Create a Course as Your First Digital Product
Although we talked about this before, I want to say if you’re thinking about creating a course, really consider how much time that’s going to take and how much time that’s going to take to sell. And I personally recommend starting with a paid workshop and testing your idea in front of some live people.
So that’s just my take on that. But let’s talk about the one thing we haven’t mentioned, I feel like if we rewound time, a year, two years ago, it would all be Pinterest. And notice Pinterest has not come up one time. So they’re smiling and nodding.
Corinne Schmitt 36:30
We have podcasts on Pinterest.
Christina Hitchcock 36:33
We do. We have pods on it. So I’m going to say we all know Pinterest is having an identity crisis. They don’t know what they want to be in this social media landscape that we’re in right now.
But both Corinne and I have not given up on Pinterest, we’ve maintained our activity there. We haven’t focused and made it like it used to be where you are spending x amount of time every day, really doing work in Pinterest, but we haven’t given up on it completely because you don’t know where it’s going to go.
How to Use Pinterest as a Blogger
I personally wouldn’t want to give up on it until it’s done and dead. And I don’t think it’s done and dead I still get Pinterest traffic to my site.
Are you doing all of the things like videos and creating on the platforms?
True. With Pinterest I think if you are actually analyzing the data and seeing what’s working, if you have Pinterest traffic coming to your site, really digging in and seeing what that content is how it’s coming, what’s driving it to your site from Pinterest, and then doing more of that, I think is the smart way to do it.
And then well, here and there testing out some of the new things because you don’t know how it’s going to work and you have to be willing to test. What would you add to that, Corinne?
Corinne Schmitt 38:01
With Pinterest, it’s a business. I feel like as long as we remember that about all the platforms that we use, you remember that they’re businesses with goals of their own.
Pinterest wants to make money, they went public, we knew there was going to be an issue, I was afraid that they were going to really push advertising, which they have. But that was going to be paid to play over there, much like Facebook became for a while.
But ultimately, Pinterest wants to make money. Fashion is doing really well. Beauty is doing really well there.
Jillian Leslie 38:24
Corinne Schmitt 38:24
It may not be the platform for food bloggers necessarily moving forward. But the user experience has degraded substantially. And I hear it because we do we have friends in real life. And all my friends are irritated with it, you have a recipe, they don’t understand these Idea Pins.
So you watch this video, and then they click to go through and it doesn’t click anywhere. It doesn’t go anywhere. But they can’t make the recipe because recipe creators are not making a TikTok. They’re not trying to show you how to do the whole thing. We’re still trying to get you to our site.
So Pinterest in my mind has to adjust. And I could be way wrong on that. But they have to adjust. For a long time they wanted to be a visual search engine. And then that changed. And they tried this other stuff and I don’t think it’s working at all.
I will say my shop is doing very well I sell a lot more. So if you’ve got a store or you’ve got products, push that on Pinterest because those are doing well and I’m not having to pay advertising dollars yet that might change.
But I do think Pinterest is going to have to do an adjustment because people are leaving in droves. And I don’t have any numbers to back that up. I only have anecdotal evidence from talking to people that I interact with in real life, which is one of our information gathering means.
So people don’t like it. They’re not using it. Pinterest can’t make money if nobody is on it.
Christina Hitchcock 39:56
Back in the day, if I was looking for a recipe for something, that’s where I would go, I could get what I wanted. And pin it to my board and make my own little recipe books and my boards. Now you can’t do that. So, it’s not my go to place when I’m looking for recipe content.
I personally don’t go there, because I’m not going to watch an Idea Pin and then not get the link to get the recipe. I’m not there to be entertained. If I want entertainment I’m on TikTok. And I’m watching there and being entertained with recipes.
And then the other thing to me is there’s a lot of bloat over at Pinterest, they went public, and all of a sudden, they had all these different departments. So they had Pinterest creators, but then those people would show up, they were hosting conferences and things.
Corinne Schmitt 40:40
So they’d fly people in from all over the country, you’d go, they’d tell you one thing, but then you’ve got some email address and you’re contacted for something else. And they have no idea what they’re talking about.
Recommended pin size, you could talk to six different people at Pinterest, and you get six different pin size recommendations. Nobody knew what everyone was doing. To me that is bloat in an organization. And I’ve never known a successful business that survived that.
So I have faith, someone’s going to come in. The CEO is going to wake up and be like, “We need to clean this up.” So that’s just me, it’s my anecdotal, my opinion, it will clear up. And I think those of us that stuck with it and still had content going out continuously, will be rewarded for our patients.
Either that or they’ll never get their act together. And it’s going to go belly up. And we gambled wrong.
Christina Hitchcock 41:30
So now you guys sell tools for bloggers. Can you just share what you guys do as we wrap this up, and how people can follow you join all of your stuff and learn more.
Sure. So Corinne and I, this is one of the things we connected on when we first met.
Jillian Leslie 41:56
Not just where to sit in restaurants.
Christina Hitchcock 42:00
Once we get the seating arrangements down.
Corinne Schmitt 42:02
The other thing we have in common.
Christina Hitchcock 42:07
We like to organize and organizing our data and just making sure our businesses are organized and working smarter and streamlining processes. So we’re not wasting time doing the same thing over and over and over again. So we are huge on templates.
And then we both at one point discovered a mutual love of a product called Airtable. And it’s a project management tool similar to you might have heard like Asana or Trello, a tool like that, but Airtable does so much more.
And we both fell in love with it and started playing with it. It’s almost like a spreadsheet in a database. But we have found while we love to do stuff like this, and we like to talk in spreadsheet, speak and organize things in columns and rows, many creative influencers do not enjoy that at all.
So what we did was we’ve built our systems on how we manage our website. And we both have several websites that we manage now. But we’ve built our systems in Airtable, and we’re now sharing them with other influencers.
Like ways that we manage our behind the scenes business. Ways that we manage our content, and keep track of everything we’re publishing or the ideas we have or what’s in production, whether it’s video or written content, our social media shares, that’s one of our more popular ones.
And we have a pin strategy that we actually use where we can live pin, and it takes us only 10 minutes a day. Because the system we set up in the Airtable tells us what to pin and where. And it’s all automatic.
So we go in, we pin it, we mark the date. And then the next time we’re ready to pin it’s going to tell us what to do and where. So that’s the great thing about having a tool like that to help you systematize and automate so that you’re working smarter and not harder.
Jillian Leslie 44:07
So where can people find this?
Christina Hitchcock 44:11
Over on our website, thesmartinfluencer.com. We have a listing there of the different products that we offer. We have a number of different ones on there.
Jillian Leslie 44:22
And you guys have a podcast.
Corinne Schmitt 44:25
We do. Yep. So you can also find the link to our podcast on the on thesmartinfluencer.com. But the name of the podcast is The Smart Influencer Podcast. And then we’re also on social media as The Smart Influencer. We’re branding.
Jillian Leslie 44:40
Christina Hitchcock 44:42
Can I just take a second I want to talk about two of our newer products that we have out there. I’m kind of exciting because I think they really fill a need that has come up very recently. You see it in all the Facebook groups.
So the first one is we have a legacy organizer. So it’s really a way for you to organize all of the critical information about your business.
If God forbid, something should happen to you, and somebody needs to figure out what to do with your business because I know my husband doesn’t even know the password to get into my computer. So he would be lost if something were to happen to me, he would not know what to do where anything is.
So this was a problem Corinne and I had thought about and we created a solution, or a template within Airtable that will track and organize all of that information to make it super easy for anyone, people who are not technology and spreadsheet nerds like us.
And then we are coming out with one where you can organize your SOPs or your standard operating procedures.
That’s something that a lot of people are talking about today is getting your processes and your operating procedures organized and in a way that you can track them and find them and make sure that they’re up-to-date.
Wow. Wow. Alright, you guys and what are your own personal blogs?
Corinne Schmitt 46:03
So my main site is Wondermom Wannabe so wondermomwannabe.com.
Christina Hitchcock 46:06
And mine is It Is a Keeper. Itisakeeper.com.
Nice. Well, Christina, and Corinne. Thank you guys, both for being on the show.
Corinne Schmitt 46:19
Thank you so much, Jillian. It’s been a pleasure.
Christina Hitchcock 46:21
Jillian Leslie 46:23
I hope you guys liked this episode with Christina and Corinne. What I thought was so interesting is how like-minded we all were about the stages of growing your business kind of what it looks like, as you go from beginner to intermediate to advanced.
And what is not surprising is the idea that the most successful bloggers sell products to their audiences. And this is again, where MiloTree Cart comes in. It is a way for you to monetize your audience. If you have an email list. If you have a social media following if you have traffic to your blog, there is money to be made.
It is just about figuring out what problem you can solve for your audience. And then testing different ideas, different solutions that connect because as soon as you find that connection, boom, that’s gold, and you can build off of that and build an enormous business.
So please sign up for your free account at milotreecart.com play around, go have fun. Go test it out and let me know what you think. Email me at email@example.com with any questions you have any thoughts, product suggestions, or if you’d like some help, and I will see you here again next week.
Imagine a world where growing your social media followers and email list was easy…
If you are looking for ways to grow your community whether that be email whether that be social media, right now head to Milotree.com install the MiloTree app on your blog and it will do the work for you. Let it do the heavy lifting for you.
Let it pop up in front of your visitors and ask them to follow you on Instagram, TikTok, 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.