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#208: What to Do When You Lose Your Instagram Account with 63k Followers

Today I’m talking about what to do when you lose your Instagram account with 63k followers. This is exactly what happened to Cristy Harfmann, creator of The Happy Family Blog.

One morning she woke up and realized she lost both her Facebook and Instagram pages. Her Facebook page came back quickly. But no matter what she did, she couldn’t get her Instagram account back.

Cristy, who made a large part of her income sharing sponsored content on her Instagram page, freaked out!

Listen to the episode to hear her story.

Hear about the support she got from her community of fellow bloggers

Hear how she ultimately got her page back and what you should do if you are ever in the same position.

And hear how it’s completely changed the way she thinks about building her business.

What to Do When You Lose Your Instagram Account with 63k Followers | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Show Notes:

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Intro 0:04
Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.

Get Your Paid Workshop Up in 5 Day with My Email Challenge

Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, my friends. Welcome back to the Blogger Genius Podcast. I am your host, Jillian Leslie. And I am so happy that you are here listening. Before I get started, I want to tell you about my new challenge.

And this is all about helping you create a new, easy product for 2022. What am I talking about? I am talking about helping you create a paid workshop that you can offer to your community.

So in this challenge, it’s five emails that I send you, and I step you through all you need to do. All the tiny tasks, I call them, you need to do to get this set up so that you can then go to your audience and test it.

And we help you build a free sales page that we host for you with your permalink. So, you can put this in front of your audience so quickly and easily, and see if this is what they want from you.

And guess what? If it isn’t, I say go create a new sales page with a new offering because you will hit it and find success. So, go join the challenge head to milotree.com/challenge for it, challenge and you will start getting emails from me.

And if you have any questions, just reply to one of the emails and I’ll get right back to you. This is the year of monetizing and monetizing with your own audience.

What to Do When You Lose Your Instagram Account with 63k Followers

Okay, for today’s episode, I have Cristy Harfmann on the show. And she’s the creator of The Happy Family Blog.

And what we’re going to talk about is how she had grown this big Instagram page to over 60,000 followers, and then lost it overnight it just disappeared. And we talked about the heartache, and we talked about what she did.

And it’s a really interesting story because it also made her rethink a lot about her business. So without further delay, here is my interview with Cristy Harfmann. Cristy, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you.

Cristy Harfmann 2:28
I am so excited to be here. As I was sharing before you are my favorite podcast, I listened to you forever since you first came out. And I have been a fan of yours since I first started blogging. Eight years ago, my goal was to be on your site.

And I used to submit parties to you, I just think you are an absolute resource and gem to our blogging community. So thank you so much for having me.

Jillian Leslie 2:50
Okay, I’m blushing. I’m blushing. Thank you so much for saying that. In fact, I was going back through our emails and right when I started my podcast, you were one of the first people to reach out to be like, yes, thank you.

And I was like, Oh, my God, because as I was sharing with you, I’m just sitting here in my house, like on the inside of me going I hope this is working. So, you saying that, I cannot tell you how much that means to me.

And as I was sharing, I feel like it’s such an honor to get into people’s ears. So thank you for letting me in your ears. That sounds creepy. But thank you.

Cristy Harfmann 3:23
Thank you for always giving such great nuggets and such great takeaways, because I feel like it’s going to be the Wild Wild West. And this is a really, really difficult industry to be successful in.

And I think it’s an easy industry to start in. The entry is very easy, but it is difficult to be successful. And I think like we talked about before, there are so many juggling balls up in the air at the same time.

And it’s so easy to get distracted, and focus on the wrong thing or focus on one thing for too long. And so I’m so grateful that your episodes oftentimes are like, “Oh, I should be working on that.”

Don’t forget, because it’s easy to just work on what you’re enjoying and not what other people say.

Jillian Leslie 4:05
I talked about this in my most recent podcasts that have gone live, being busy as a way to avoid working on your business. You know, I’ll take this course I’ll work on my logo, I’ll do these things that make me feel like I’m moving forward.

But when it comes to the real stuff, I’ll get to that later.

Cristy Harfmann 4:27
Yes. 100%.

What to Do When You Lose Your Instagram Account with 63k Followers | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Getting Started as a Party Blogger

Jillian Leslie 4:28
Okay. Cristy, will you share how you started blogging and your entrepreneurial journey and where you are now?

Cristy Harfmann 4:37
Of course. So I started almost nine years ago, I had a baby who is now nine and I worked for a marketing agency and I worked 100 hours a week and I loved every minute of it.

We pretended we are an ad agency from the 50s. We used to have cocktails in our office we joked that I would give birth, not cocktails when I was pregnant, but cocktails before I was pregnant.

We would joke that I would give birth and then keep working. I loved it. Work was everything my husband worked there as well. It was amazing. And then I had a premature baby and my whole world, flipped upside down.

And I tried to go back to work at the agency. And I would go to work in the morning, and baby would still be sleeping, and I would get home and she would be sleeping again. And I realized I was going to miss her entire life. And that was really, really sad.

And this woman who had spent her entire career trying to climb the corporate ladder and make it was like, “I think I want to be a stay at home mom. I’m done.”

And my husband was like, “Oh, that’s cute. We’re a dual income family, you’re not going to be a stay at home mom, you won’t be happy.”

And so I decided to start blogging because I thought it would be the perfect balance where I could build a business at home with my daughter who was in preschool by the time I started it.

So I had a couple hours every single day to really focus without having her there. And it has just grown from, when I look back on these photos, from the very beginning the crafts that I was doing.

Oh my goodness, my version of a watermark was like this massive logo that I had made like myself, oh, so awful. But people started to follow us, even though the pictures were dark and ugly and gross.

But I was just writing about what we were doing. And I was connecting with other moms. I knew that you could make money.

Jillian Leslie 6:29
So your blog is the Happy Family blog?

Cristy Harfmann 6:33

Jillian Leslie 6:34
So when you started, what was your vision, like, I’m going to blog about all these different aspects of family life?

Cristy Harfmann 6:41
So I know and I’m like, nervous to be with you. Because I know you’re all about niching down, but I wanted to be well, originally, I wanted to be a party blogger.

And then I quickly realized that was not sustainable with my life. Because how I was going to spend all this money on parties and as much fun as parties are, it would make more sense to be a lifestyle.

Jillian Leslie 6:58
And by the way, I know this with Catch My Party. Your daughter has a party, like a birthday one time a year, or there’s one Christmas, so like, you’re going to have to wait a long time.

Cristy Harfmann 7:10
Exactly. I was buying stuff and doing like, fake setups. And then people were getting upset because they thought I had a party. And I was like, oh, stylish, cute, and they’re like, I don’t know what that is.

Okay, so now my back bedroom was filling up with all this, crafting stuff and party supplies. And my husband was like, “What is going on?” So then I quickly realized my greatest strength is my positivity.

And I want to help people find the joy in the every day. So we all know that being a mom and a business owner, even just a stay-at-home mom alone without the business is difficult and chaotic.

And the days are so long, I wanted people to be able to find joy in the every day. So I wanted to share easy recipes, crafts, travel, so that families could come together and really enjoy their time spent together.

And that’s really what I’ve stood by the entire time. And I’m excited that as my family has grown, my business has grown with me. But really, I’ve stayed true to the core besides the parties.

I still do parties, but I don’t do over the top parties anymore, because it’s just not good for my family. One, my husband doesn’t like them. And my daughter wants to go on trips now. And so family travel is a really important part of what I share.

Because I want families to know that you can have incredible time with your family on a weekend. Or we show small trips so that they’re attainable and doable for our readers. And my business has grown because of that.

Jillian Leslie 8:36
So when you started, when did you first know I can make money at this.

How to Work with Brands as a Blogger

Cristy Harfmann 8:42
So it’s interesting. There’s two local bloggers in Boca, and they had blogs, they were just like focused on South Florida. And I knew that they’d made money but I couldn’t understand how.

And so for the first year, I made no money. And then the second year I made minimum wage. So, my husband was like this is amazing. Like this stuff is amazing. Like you should really stick with this.

Jillian Leslie 9:10
I’m so glad you left your big corporate jobs.

Cristy Harfmann 9:15
Yes. Exactly. Those six figures they disappeared quickly. But what I realized was that people were making money with sponsored content. And so I found some ad networks not ad networks.

But Social Fabric is the first one where you can go in and they say this is the brand this is what they’re looking for. What do you want to do? And I remember my first party was with Lay’s Potato Chips or something and so I did like a sun yellow themed setup.

And I was like, this is so much fun like brands who I already know love and trust will pay me money to set up fun things to do a recipe to share how I would use it. This is the dream like, “Oh my gosh!”

How to Pitch to Brands When You’re a Blogger

And so, I started to do really well with pitching brands. And I went from the networks to pitching directly. I still have to say, it’s almost like an addiction with these networks, because everyone says, you should pitch direct.

And you should 100% pitch direct when you were on to work with brands, because you get paid more money, there’s more creative license, but it takes so many pitches to get one person. The networks are so easy, when you know exactly what they want.

They basically tell you, we don’t want a recipe, we want a lifestyle, we wanted you to tell us that you would take this yogurt with you and your morning walk or like, the brand basically feeds it to you. And it makes it much easier to pitch them.

So as much as I would like to leave the networks I have never left them. I definitely pitch direct as well. But pitching and working with brands was really my first ability to make any money. And it is still my greatest income source today. And I love it.

Jillian Leslie 10:58
So, what are your favorite networks?

Cristy Harfmann 11:00
So, social fabric is still one of my favorite networks, it historically had really, really low rates, they still boost your post if you’re selected. And so, I had before I knew about Mediavine and all these things, I used to have 100,000 pageview months.

And I didn’t know that I should apply for Mediavine. And I didn’t. So I missed all this ad revenue. But there were like, all these things that I could have done with that. But now their rates are much better.

They’re definitely my favorite. Activate is another good one. Those are probably my two favorites, and then Sway I work well with. So, I think if you’re starting out being able to go in it’s a great way to start to have your first brand contract.

Because like I said, it’s so much fun. I just pinched myself.

Jillian Leslie 11:54
Okay. As a blogger, as a lifestyle blogger, I’ll call you that. How often are you blogging? And how often are you doing sponsored content?

Cristy Harfmann 12:10
It’s a very good question. So I am not very regimented with that. So, I really do content when it fits my family because I have a one year old. And so my days of being able to work 60 hours a week on this business have really scaled back.

My son is home, my husband unfortunately works from home as well. So, I rarely blog. I would do a new recipe when I found a new recipe that works well for our family. I share about family travel, when we go on a trip.

And then I share about brands when the contracts come in. So, I don’t really have a set way I used to.

The biggest mistake I did make and I would say, if I could go back in time was I used to just write about anything, we would make a bird feeder, and I’d be like, look at the bird feeder.

Jillian Leslie 12:53
Totally. Back in the day, I’d wake up in the morning and go, “What recipe do I want to make today? What craft do I want to make today?” I had no concept of oh, wait a second, I need to be thinking about what people are looking for not what I care about.

Cristy Harfmann 13:08

Jillian Leslie 13:08
We all got this.

Cristy Harfmann 13:11
Because it seems like if you just build it, they will come.

Jillian Leslie 13:13
Yeah, totally.

Why You Want to Do Keyword Research Before Writing a Blog Post

Cristy Harfmann 13:14
I still do that. But now then I go into SEMrush. And I look to see what the volume is and how competitive the keywords are. Because I don’t want to write we’re going on a trip to Jacksonville this weekend.

And I’m writing the blog post now before we go and the first thing I did was go and look at the keywords because I want that post to rank for SEO. If it doesn’t, then I’m going to have to work really, really hard to get the pageviews.

The pageviews don’t just come. I think at the beginning, I just thought like, oh, you get these dedicated readers. And every time you do a new post they just come.

Jillian Leslie 13:45
They follow it. They know they know.

Cristy Harfmann 13:47
Right. Discuss it.

Jillian Leslie 13:51
So, are you talking then about on average now with a one year old one post a month, one post every two months? One post every week?

Cristy Harfmann 14:00
At least a post a week.

Jillian Leslie 14:02

Cristy Harfmann 14:02
And then it’s funny, I look at Instagram and my blog is almost two separate things. Because an Instagram post I will do and sometimes not write a blog post for because my Instagram audience wants a pretty picture and some quick inspiration.

And sometimes I don’t have the bandwidth to do a full blog post for it. And so sometimes I can batch create content for Instagram and go and create a couple of Instagram post and have those saved for later.

I should if I was a good blogger, I would then make those into full blown blog post. And if you have the time, I think that that’s the best way to do it.

And we’re going to talk about losing my Instagram account and how that really makes you say, oh my goodness gracious, do not depend on Instagram and Facebook for your business.

Jillian Leslie 14:48

What to Do When You Lose Your Instagram Account with 63k Followers | The Blogger Genius Podcast with Jillian Leslie

Building an Instagram Following to Over 60k

Cristy Harfmann 14:48
But it has been a really important part of my business a huge part of my following. I have over 60,000 followers on Instagram and so they want consistent content and so I post on Instagram at least four to five times a week.

Jillian Leslie 15:02
Okay. And when you are posting on Instagram, what does that mean? Is it a post, an image, a video? Are you going live? Are you doing reels? How does that work for you now?

Cristy Harfmann 15:16
So it really depends on what the content is and sort of what format I share it in. If I do a single image, I tried to do multiple images, because they say that carousel images work better, because it’s all about the Instagram algorithm.

So, the number of touches on your post are impacting how many people are seeing it. So. if you give people a chance to interact with your content, then you’re telling Instagram that, hey, this is good stuff.

Where if you have a single photo, the chance of somebody just liking it, commenting or sharing it, or saving it is not as good. So, I tried to do multiple images, I do a carousel.

Experimenting with Creating Reels on Instagram

I’ve been experimenting with Reels. And I have to say, God love Instagram. They tell you that they want video, and that they want Reels.

And then they invite you to their Creators Program so that you can get paid bonuses for doing Reels based on the number of views, and then you sign up for it. And then they stop showing your content to your followers.

So, I’m seeing it from a lot of friends who are saying I don’t understand, I signed up for this program, I’m creating the same type of Reels, and my views have just like plummeted, and I’m having the same challenge.

So I know a lot of people are having great success. That’s a great way to gain followers. And I look forward to that in 2022. But that has not been my experience with reels I don’t do like dancing reels.

I do recipes, oftentimes with the reel because I think it’s an easy thing to shoot overhead and share. I do a lot of our trip recaps on reels. So content that I think should be performing well.

But I have not figured out the secret sauce of how to get the followers and how to get the good engagement. I get much better engagement on my images. Which what Instagram said recently, like, we’re not a photo sharing app.

Jillian Leslie 17:05
Totally. Now what about Stories? Are you speaking directly to your audience? How do you use stories?

Cristy Harfmann 17:11
Yeah, so the other thing with stories is Instagram really wants you to again to show engagement. So I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of people now are putting polls all the time. The question boxes are really important.

So when I do those, I do see an uptick in stories. I try to post on stories every day combination of my face talking, sharing other people’s posts, sharing relevant posts of mine.

I’ve recently started to share more like affiliate links, because after my Instagram debacle, I realized like that I was really evil. Like I was lying to myself.

I know that I should have seven streams of income. But I was counting Instagram as multiple streams.

Jillian Leslie 17:50
Wait. Wait. Let’s do it. Let’s talk about what happens because you reached out to me. So tell me what happened. So, of all your social media networks, Instagram is your goal, right? That’s your that’s your bread and butter.

But I do want to know actually if you were making money from Instagram, or if it’s more kind of brand building. So let’s start there. Were you making money? I’m sure you were sharing stuff from sponsors on Instagram. And they’re very interested.

Cristy Harfmann 18:23
Yeah. So, when I first started, I’m going to focus on Instagram. And then after Instagram, I’m going to focus on SEO and then I’m going to go to Pinterest. Why focus on Instagram? And I got such good feedback and return that I kind of got stuck.

Doing Sponsored Content with Brands

And really brands almost exclusively want Instagram, I would say that 50% of my brand contracts say that they just want Instagram, they don’t even want a blog post anymore. And that’s sad for all of us.

Because now we’re not doing the SEO, all these other pieces that need to happen. So, it was really scary for me because so many brands just want that Instagram content and so I was counting these multiple streams is like some brands just wanted stories.

Some brands just wanted reels, some brands wanted feed post, and I was sort of counting those as separate ones. I was doing affiliate income, but sharing it on my Instagram stories, so it’s like, “Oh, I have this.”

But when that Instagram page went down for five days, I started to realize, we even had trips planned. I was like, “Are they still going to want me to come if I don’t have this large following on Instagram?” And I didn’t ask because I didn’t want to know the answer.

But it was really scary and it made me realize that I need to focus on my pageviews I need to have those up. Luckily my Facebook page has like over 20,000 followers.

So for one brand I did say, “Can I just post onto Facebook?” And I didn’t tell them but to myself I said I’ll boost the post. And that way, I’ll get the same reach that they would have gotten on my Instagram account.

And luckily, brands they’re people too, which is amazing. And they were so understanding and thoughtful within and allowed me to do that.

Jillian Leslie 20:15
Okay. So tell me what happened, you wake up in the morning and what?

What Happens When You Lose Your Instagram Account

Cristy Harfmann 20:21
So, I wake up in the morning and I go to check my Instagram just like I always do, and it didn’t load. And I thought that’s strange. Maybe my internet’s not doing well. And then I went to my Facebook page, and my Facebook page said, “We think you’re under 13.”

I was like, interesting. I have two children, one is nine. So, that would be very interesting. I’ve had a Facebook account for 15 years. So, you think you’d go back to see when this account started, but I uploaded my ID, and they’re like, “Great, here’s your page back.”

So, I got my Facebook page back almost immediately. And then my Instagram page didn’t come back. And I didn’t really think anything of it. I thought, Okay, this is like a gift from the internet gods. I won’t have to focus on this for today.

And then a couple hours later, my first brand reached out and said, “Hey, are you okay? Your post is down that you posted for us. Is everything alright?” And then I started to get a little panicky, the challenge is it’s really difficult to get a hold of Instagram.

So for the first day, I didn’t do anything, because I thought I had already provided them my ID, which is what they asked for. I thought that they were just going to take care of everything. Well, that’s not the case.

So, I finally posted on my Facebook page and said, “Hey, does anybody have a contact at Facebook?”

I am now a day without my page, I’ve now had multiple brands reach out one brand, who I work with every month was like, “I thought you quit.” I was like, okay.

Jillian Leslie 22:21
So, you were saying that you waited and it’s not coming back.

Cristy Harfmann 22:29
So, I finally went to my Facebook page, and I did a call out to my friends and just said, “Does anyone know how to get in touch with Facebook?” I had a couple of friends that worked there. I reached out to them.

And they all said, “Listen, we are so siloed I would love to help you. But I don’t know anybody who works in that department. I couldn’t even get you.” So, one friend gave me a URL that allowed me to fill out a form.

And the form said, like, let us know what happened. And we’ll get back to you if we can. Someone also gave me a telephone number. And so I was so excited. I’m finally going to get someone on the phone.

I called and the voicemail I’ll never forget, it says like, welcome to Facebook. Basically, we get a lot of calls, we probably won’t call you back, but leave a message. And we’ll try.

Like, oh my heavens, how can you run a business like this? And I spent a decent amount on ads with Facebook and Instagram as part of my business strategy. There was no support.

So, I finally got somebody and they said, we’ll do a manual review of your account and see what’s going on. So I was like, alright, good. So I went to bed. I woke up at four o’clock in the morning thinking about it.

Of course, I rolled over check my phone and they said, “Thank you. We’ve done a manual review, we see that you’ve broken community standards, your account has been disabled, and will be deleted in seven days.”

Jillian Leslie 23:53
Oh my God.

Cristy Harfmann 23:54
I was bawling my eyes out. My husband wakes up. He’s like what’s going on? I’m like, this is insane. My blog is called Happy Family blog. I literally post like happy content about recipes and travel and family fun.

The most controversial thing I’ve posted about is vaccinations because I believe that people should be vaccinated. I’ve posted about it before the pandemic during the pandemic. That is my most controversial thing.

And so I said to the lady, “Could you please tell me what it is?” And they couldn’t tell me anything. They wouldn’t give me any details. My Account was like gone when you go to search for it.

And so I said, if you go to my blog, you’ll see this is the type of content that I post if there’s anything posted that doesn’t align with what’s on my blog, then I’ve been hacked and she’s like, “Oh, you think you’ve been hacked?”

Jillian Leslie 24:47
Oh, no.

Cristy Harfmann 24:50
“Yes. I don’t know.” I was like desperate at this point. Like, “Yes, I think I’ve been hacked.” Well then that went to a hacking team like a whole separate. So it almost worked to say that I was hacked because they did a manual review a second time.

And this is like day three. They’re like, “Okay, we’re going to reinstate your account.” I was like, “Oh, yay.” That took another two days, though. But on a Monday morning, I got my account back. And they said nothing.

They said, “Congratulations, here’s your account.” And I was like, congratulations, what do you mean, congratulation? I literally lost years from my life, I have lost thousands of dollars, because this is in the middle of Q4, when I’m pitching heavily.

I stopped pitching for five days, I had to post onto my Facebook account, instead of my Instagram. Businesses were calling me freaking out. They give absolutely no explanation. They don’t care. They are just like, “Okay, you got it back.”

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Jillian Leslie 27:18
We are sharecroppers building businesses on platforms that can just do something like this. This wasn’t even an algorithm change.

This was like some, I don’t know, bug in the system, and your whole business or a big part of your business just kind of fell apart, or disappeared. So, what did this make you think having gone through this?

Blogger Tip: Get Your Instagram Followers on Your Email List

Cristy Harfmann 27:48
It made me cry a lot. It made me realize a couple of things. One, I need to know who my followers are on Instagram through other places. So, I need to have them on my email list.

Because what I would have loved to have done was to have emailed everyone to say, “Hey, this happened to me.” I have an email list, but I haven’t been good to it. So, I didn’t even think about using it.

And I haven’t been good about promoting my Instagram followers to come to my email. Oftentimes, my followers don’t like to leave the platform. So it’s very difficult to get them across.

So, one of the things that I have done now that I wish I had that I share with my friends that they should have is a backup account, not a backup account necessarily with your same name.

But a backup account, maybe I did it with my personal name, where you could follow some of your biggest supporters who could help get you back into your community if you have to start over.

Every single day I get a message from a friend who has to start over because they get hacked by somebody who’s asking them for Bitcoin, or because of some sort of weird issue with Instagram.

And so, if you’re able then to reconnect, because I had these groups of people. I actually had one follower who said, “I Googled you, I thought you died.”

Jillian Leslie 29:08

Cristy Harfmann 29:09
I know, I was like, “Oh.” I didn’t know what had happened. So I was like, “Oh my gosh.” So, what I have done now is have this personal account.

Jillian Leslie 29:18
Let’s go through this. Okay, so you start a new Instagram account.

Cristy Harfmann 29:24
So on day four, I decided to start a new Instagram account for my business. I should have said that part.

Blogger Tip: Be Part of a Blogger Network

And one of the things I learned during this process is if you are a content creator, and you are not friends with other content creators, you are missing like the silver lining of this business.

Because the people who were the greatest to me were my friends who were content creators. So, one of my girlfriends and she just changed her name, so I have to find out what she has changed her handle to.

But she offered me a backup account that she had. She’s like, “I have 7,000 followers on this account. I’m happy to give it to you so that you’re not starting from zero.”

Jillian Leslie 30:01
Oh, my gosh!

Cristy Harfmann 30:03
And those are the type of things that you’re like, “Oh, my goodness, how am I so blessed to have these women in my life?” Mainly women, a couple of men, but mainly women who are so supportive of my business because my friends, they didn’t get it.

They were like, “Oh, ha ha you got IDed. Haha.” Because for them, it’s just a spiritual.

Jillian Leslie 30:17
They don’t understand it.

Cristy Harfmann 30:24
Yeah, right. They’re showing pictures of their kids. Even my mom asked me. I’ve been doing this for almost nine years. And she asked me the other day, “Do you get paid?” I was like, “Mom.” I love it. And I’m so grateful for this business.

But I would not be doing this for nine years full time if I wasn’t making any money, like, “Yes, I get paid.” But I think my friends just didn’t understand.

And so, the content creators who share that account, once I got it set up and share it and said,” Listen, Cristy is starting over, please share her account.” Was just like the most heartwarming part of all of this.

And I feel like, it really made me realize, I’m not alone in this. And my friends want to support me and want to see me grow. Some of my friends I say, friends. You have these connections with people online.

And I feel like you and I have never met in person. But I feel like I am friends with you. Because you have shared so much of your life.

There were some people like, I just said, my friend, I don’t remember her handle, whose handles I didn’t even remember, because we messaged back and forth every single day. And it’s like a telephone number.

You don’t memorize all your friends’ telephone numbers. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, what if I couldn’t find these internet friends again?” So a couple of people I became friends with on Facebook.

It used to be my rule, I was only friends with people on Facebook who I’ve met in person, because that’s more personal for me. But there were a couple people that I was like, I need to be friends with you on Facebook, if anything were to ever happen.

Blogger Tip: How to Get Your Followers on Your Email List

I want to be able to have where I am, what’s happening, but also have your support. And then I created. So I’ve changed that account now to Happy Family Steals and Deals because I realized that I’m missing a huge part of affiliate income.

I was really focused on Amazon sales, because having an Amazon shop is easy but Amazon really ties your hands as a creator and trying to do affiliate sales. You can’t post their links in your emails.

I realized that there is so much money to be made by sharing affiliates. So, I have had Like To Know It for four or five years. It’s a little bit more cumbersome than I realized it would be. So I had never done anything with it.

And I’ve been sitting there saying like, “Oh, I’ll get to that.” When like when when. And so this really made me say I need to really figure out how to work Like To Know It, I created a Facebook group called Happy Family Steals and Deals.

My husband loves to find the deals. And so it has been so nice to have had all these followers reach out to say thank you like you helped us so much with our Christmas shopping and our Hanukkah shopping.

By sharing like all these deals, I didn’t have to go find them. And so I realized that while content creation is the part of this business that I love the most.

There are other ways to support this community that I’ve grown, that can be beneficial for them, but also a little selfishly beneficial for me as well. And it’s a new revenue stream.

Jillian Leslie 33:16
Yes. As you’re saying this, first of all, absolutely. This is the hardest part is getting our followers onto our email list. And as you’re talking, I’m like going use Steals and Deals as a way to get people on to your list.

I will email you once a week the best deals like get what’s in it for them. Oh my God, who doesn’t want an email with curated deals?

Cristy Harfmann 33:45
Mm hmm. No, that’s a great idea.

Jillian Leslie 33:46
And host it all the time on your stories with a link to say, sign up for this. Or if you can put together a one page PDF of like, how to, I don’t know, find great deals, or whatever it is, and go get this.

And get those people like those 60,000 followers, even if you get a small percentage of them over. Keep working that because that is a real asset that you can control.

I think that when you reached out to me and told me you lost your page, and it was like I had heart palpitations for you.

Cristy Harfmann 34:24
I think as we all know what it would feel like. The other part of this because I’m a lifestyle account. And I’ve shared so much of my family. I was like, “Oh my gosh, I hope I have those photos and videos, especially from stories.”

So, I think a lot of us create inside the app, especially for stories. And I don’t do that anymore. I create all of my stuff on my phones, but I can have it saved because if my account ever went away, I would hate to have lost these videos of my son and my daughter.

As a lifestyle blogger, this Happy Family blog is really me and my family and my children. So, I was so sad about losing all of these memories that I had put onto this platform because I thought that I could also selfishly reference them for myself.

I have a saved highlight of like baby brother of my son. And I was like, Oh my gosh, we put not just our heart and soul into this, because it’s a business but our heart and soul because that’s the connection that we’re making with our readers.

Because we want to share our lives and inspire other people. And so I think it’s important to have all of that information saved on your phone, you can save, your entire Facebook page, you can do a download.

I have a couple of friends who said they do that once a month, and they save all that information to the cloud. Because it’s these are our portfolios, to show to businesses to see how we operate, what type of content we create.

And it’s important to have that information. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to sell yourself. Like, how do you sell it?

Jillian Leslie 35:51
How did this change your relationship with Instagram?

Having a Love/Hate Relationship with Instagram

Cristy Harfmann 35:56
So, my relationship with Instagram has been difficult over the last two years, I would say they’re just not good to content creators. I spent eight years building an audience. And then they don’t want to show my content to my audience.

So, I’ve already had this love hate relationship with them, because brands want to be seen on my Instagram page. And so I have said to a couple of my close friends, I’m going to ride this to the very end.

For a moment, I thought, I literally wrote it to the very end like it’s gone. But it’s really changed my perspective on the fact that I need to be more focused on myself, I need to be focused on my email list.

I need to be focused on affiliate income that’s not connected to content creation. And I should have, when the pandemic hit, I even had a contract with Clorox and Clorox put my contract on hold for almost a year because there was no product.

They didn’t even have product that they could ship me. So to even create the content, and then when I finally found it, they were like, “Oh, I don’t know.”

A lot of businesses got really uncomfortable with having content creators creating content during the middle or the beginning of the pandemic. Luckily, that’s changed.

So, that should have been my wake up call to say as much as I love content creation, there are so many other ways to make money in this business. I can’t just focus on working with brands and creating content for that.

Being Part of the Creator Economy

Jillian Leslie 37:26
I would say that is super powerful. What I am seeing from where I sit is this burgeoning world of what’s called the creator economy, where creators are taking their fates in their own hands.

Now, there’s all this stuff going on called Web 3. And it’s like crypto, and I’m trying to understand it. But I would say we’re not necessarily there yet. But the idea is for content creators, like you, like me, it’s building these closer relationships with our people.

And then by doing that, we can listen to them more closely, we can get feedback from them, and we can provide them with the solutions that they’re looking for. So you had no idea Steals and Deals would be a thing.

You create it, and then people are reaching out to you saying, “Thank you.” And you’re going, “Wow, I didn’t even know that this should be part of my business.” But if you can build, like, take the middleman out.

For example, I know there’s all this talk in terms of the creator economy, like you’re a musician, and now all of a sudden, you can start selling things directly to your audience. There are these things called NFT’s and you being near Miami, it’s a big thing there.

But the idea is that you aren’t as dependent on Instagram, or Facebook or TikTok, that you get to go, “Hey, people, I’m here for you. I want to build a tighter community where I am of service and I make money from you.”

And this is where there’s like all these paid newsletters on substack where independent journalists are able to leave, regular newspapers and go directly to their people. So, I want to put that into your thinking especially for 2022.

What could you create products or services that you could offer beyond? Again, working with brands because all of a sudden they’re supply chain issues and Clorox isn’t on the shelf.

And then it’s like there are so many things that have to happen between where you’re creating content and you’re getting paid for that content. So it’s like, oh, you’ve got all these intermediaries.

You’ve got the platforms, the sponsorship platforms that you then have to work with who then work with the brand. And that your audience is much further away from you impacting them. How do you bring your audience closer to you?

And even for example, this is what made us go, let’s create a payment platform MiloTree Easy Payments.

Why You Want to Be Selling Products and Services Directly to Your Community

So that you could say, I’m going to teach a live workshop or I’m going to do a membership or I’m going to create services, one-off services that I provide. Or who knows what the options are, but I’m all about for 2022, getting close.

It’s weirdly more intimate. I say this, it’s like, weirdly, it’s much more kind of one-on-one, when you were talking about how you speak to other content creators daily, it’s like, what if that were a way that you could be speaking to your audience.

You almost start building those one-on-one relationships, and then all of a sudden, you go, “Whoa, I’ve got this massive people who I can serve, and monetize.”

It’s like a win win. So that’s my kind of thesis, or what I’m really thinking about for 2022 is the power of the creator.

Cristy Harfmann 41:09
I love that and selling products and services is the piece that keeps coming back after all of this. And I know, you had a great guest. And I wish that I had remembered her name because I’m terrible with names.

But she talked about building her email list and she did gardening.

Jillian Leslie 41:26
Haeley. Yes, yes.

Cristy Harfmann 41:27
I loved the fact that you could be a gardener and figure out a way to sell products and services. And I’m like, if she could figure out how to sell products and services, like I have to be able to figure it out. And I realized that is a 2022 goal for sure.

Because it’s just like the pitching. I’m really good at pitching I know how to pitch. I should be selling, it doesn’t even have to be a course. It could be just a couple of pages, here are the templates I use. I have bought other people’s templates over the years.

Setting Up a Paid Workshop on How Bloggers Can Pitch to Brands

Jillian Leslie 41:55
Alright, so here’s the thing, which is okay. And I also have a thought about courses, which is they are hard and they are time consuming. And there’s no guarantee that they’re purchasers on the other side that there are people who will buy it.

So I would say, go put out, do a paid workshop, a one hour thing, teach it, see if people show up. I don’t know if they will go try it and say, I know how to pitch to brands, like look at my portfolio.

And start there and see, because there are so many people who would want your insights. In fact, I’m thinking I want to have you come back again. So we can just talk about what is it to pitch to brands.

What are brands looking for today? Because I haven’t done an episode like that for a while. So, it’s like what knowledge do you have that you think is kind of like everybody knows this.

Like we don’t weirdly value our own knowledge in the same way. Because we’re like, oh, what do I have to share? But really you do and how can you?

So what I would recommend is getting on to Instagram saying, “Are there people out there who’d be interested in this?” Like float it.

Cristy Harfmann 43:07
Right and see.

Jillian Leslie 43:08
And they might not. Your audience would be like, you know what, no, I want that recipe, or I want that parenting tip. Who knows? But there might be people who raise their hand and say no, I would show up for that.

Cristy Harfmann 43:19
That’s a great idea. I know, I’m always shocked when a follower comments and says like, “Oh, I’ve been thinking about growing a business.” And I’m like, Oh my gosh, like I forget. Like you said, you forget that you are like a business and you’ve done well.

And I think we talked about imposter syndrome. I think no matter how long you’ve been in this industry, there’s always someone who’s bigger than you. And you’re always looking up to someone.

Jillian Leslie 43:42

Cristy Harfmann 43:42
And you discount how good you are at what you do. And I think that this piece made me realize like, oh my gosh, I have literally thousands of brands that I have partnered with over the last eight years. And that’s huge.

And if that Instagram page was gone, some of those partnerships were Instagram only and they would be gone. And that portfolio is gone. I still have the content that I could have showed them.

But the engagement is so important, brands they want to know about your engagement.

Jillian Leslie 44:11
Yes. I don’t even know what is it like today versus say five years ago. How has it changed? And what do brands want? And so no, I think that there is so much value.

And again, as I say to people, I just did a workshop paid workshop, where I said, “What are you an expert in?” And I could feel the energy change when I said that because everyone went, “I’m not really an expert.”

And I go, No, no. Small ‘e’ small ‘e’ expert, like really, you know something that other people don’t know. And how could you break it down for them and make it easy and give them as I say a win.

Where at the end of it you’ve empowered them to go and do something take action. And it’s so funny, I was recording a podcast earlier this week, and this woman said to me on the podcast, what’s your word for 2022.

And I was like, “Wow, I haven’t thought of that.” And as we were talking, and I decided my word for 2022, is “engage,” which is different, engage is kind of like reach out, instead of connect, it was more like, engaged. I’m going to really work on that in 2022.

But then we were talking and she said for her, like, the word start just kept coming up. And I’m like, ooh, if there’s a word that I’d like to put out to everybody, it’s the word start.

Cristy Harfmann 45:39
I love that. Because we get in our own way. My husband started a new business last year. He’s a real estate agent. And we realize it’s progress, not perfection.

So if you’re moving the needle forward, every single day, you are going to be so much further ahead than someone like me has sometimes gets in their head. And then analysis, paralysis kills you.

And you have to put it out there. And I think that’s so much of what we do in business. It’s not perfect. You just put it out there.

Jillian Leslie 46:09
Totally. And I shared this story. As you know, we’ve been remodeling our kitchen, and we finally have it. It’s never done, by the way. It’s still kind of a mess. But we decided we were going to unpack our kitchen.

And I was like, we talk about decision. Like, what is it? I was paralyzed. Because I had all my spatulas and cooking stuff, and they’re drawers now and my kitchen looks different than it did before.

And I’m like, where’s the right drawer for the spatula? And I was really kind of stuck. And then I had that moment where I said, put it somewhere, put it somewhere, start using your kitchen, start going, wait a second. I’m cooking and I need a spatula.

And is it in the right drawer? No, you know what it’s in this drawer. It should probably be in this drawer I don’t know the right drawer for the spatula.

But eventually, by getting into my kitchen, and kind of cooking and fumbling around, I’m going to find the right drawer for the spatula. And for me, it was just start put it somewhere.

Cristy Harfmann 47:11
I love that because I know one of my favorite books is Good to Great. And he says like just get everyone on the bus. And then you find out where people need to be on the bus. Just get them on the bus. And I feel like that’s exactly right.

Just decide what you’re going to do. Just start running. And then you can start to see how you are able to fit that into what your goals are for the year because I totally agree with you, we all get there.

Blogger Tip: Start Building Your TikTok

And we’re like, oh, like TikTok. I’ve had a TikTok account for as long as I can remember and I’m so afraid of it. But I finally after this Instagram stuff said you know what? I have friends who have just skyrocketed on TikTok.

And I’m seeing now in some of the networks, that TikTok pay is better than the Instagram pay. Because TikTok doesn’t have the algorithm that Instagram does.

So a small creator can have a massive reach and brands want to see your reach, not necessarily the number of followers you have. Because the number of followers you have doesn’t mean anything because of the Instagram algorithm.

And so, it really encourages you, get on and try and see what works and it’s scary and overwhelming and it’s a totally different thought process. Even just their editing. I was like I don’t even know how to edit my video in here. Like, what do I do?

How do I do a voiceover? There’s so much to learn that I think after one platform has beaten you down a little, I think a lot of Instagram people are moving to TikTok.

Because they’ve still got the core of the joy that is creating content and then putting it out there and actually allowing people to see it.

Jillian Leslie 48:47
Absolutely. Would you come back for a part two where we talk about sponsored content and all of those secrets all the things you know that you think everybody knows, we don’t know? I’d love you to share that.

Cristy Harfmann 49:00
I would love to share that. Yes, I know. It is funny how you how we doubt ourselves sometimes.

Jillian Leslie 49:05
So okay, Cristy if people want to reach out to you see what you’re doing on Instagram, also your blog, or they have a question about say, sponsorships. How can they do that?

Cristy Harfmann 49:16
Of course. So, I’m happyfamilyblog is my URL is my name on all of my channels. So Happy Family blog on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, TikTok all of them so I’m happy to answer any questions and this has been so much fun.

You realize when you were like a business person before a content creator, how much of the business you really enjoy. I love talking about the business behind what we’re doing and not just the pretty pictures and videos that everyone thinks they are.

So many friends now are like, “I’m excited. I’m going to be content creator.” I’m like, “That’s amazing, prepare for like two years of minimum wage and then you’re golden.”

I think now there’s so many more people like you who have podcasts that are sharing these tidbits.

I think when I started, the information was so spotty, and you didn’t know who to trust and so that process today would be a lot shorter to get up to speed and running than it was nine years ago.

Jillian Leslie 50:13
Awesome. Well, Cristy, thank you so much for coming on the show.

Cristy Harfmann 50:19
Thank you so much for having me. I look forward to coming back.

Jillian Leslie 50:21
I hope you guys like that episode. For me, the biggest takeaway is be careful building your business on rented land because it could go away at any moment.

So, make sure you’re using social media to build your audience. But get those people onto your list. So you own that relationship.

Okay, just to wrap up two things, one, join by challenge at milotree.com/challenge. I really want to help you diversify your business and really get out there and put offers in front of your audience.

The other thing is I’ve just reengaged on TikTok and I am having so much fun. Please follow me on TikTok. It would just boost my spirit. So, I’m @milotreeapp on TikTok and I would love to see you over there. And I will see you here again next week.

Other Blogger Genius Podcast episodes to listen to:

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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.

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