Check out this Blogger Genius Podcast episode where I interview Cassidy Tuttle on finding financial freedom by creating a niche blog.
Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the show. I know there are a lot of you who are listening to the podcast, and you have a dream of starting an online business, but you haven’t done it yet.
If you’ve listened to, let’s say, five episodes, and you don’t have a blog yet, I want to help you. I want you to head to MiloTree.com/blogstart. I want to help you start your business. A lot of people say to me, “But starting a blog is hard.”
We saw this. And we said, “We can help those people get started on the right foot.” So, we’ll set your blog out. We’ll help you sign up for your domain, get hosting. We will optimize your blog, the best way we know-how, and we know how to do it. You can trust us.
We’ll be there for any technical help you need going forward. I want to put more entrepreneurs into the world. And I want to make it easy because I will tell you, blogging is a lot. There are a lot of things you need to know about. I want to take this one off your plate.
I want to help people dream big, reach their goals, and live the life. We only have one life so I want people to live the life they were meant to live. If I’m speaking to you, please head to MiloTree.com/blogstart, and I would be so honored to help you on your journey.
If you have any questions, please reach out to me at Jillian@MiloTree.com. For today’s episode, I am interviewing Cassidy Tuttle. She is the creator of a blog called Succulents and sunshine.
I talk a lot about being a niche player in the world of the internet. And she is a perfect example of this. What I really think is most interesting about this interview is that she is a blogger, but she is so much more.
She’s been able to organically create products and courses and sell to her audience and be a resource. I love too that she tests things and is always tweaking and trying.
So, if you want to be inspired, definitely listen to this episode. Without further delay, here is my interview with Cassidy Tuttle.
Cassidy, welcome to the show. I’m really excited to talk to you.
Cassidy Tuttle 2:54
Thank you for having me. I’m looking forward to it.
Jillian Leslie 2:57
Let’s start with your entrepreneurial journey. We were just talking before I pressed record about how you are what I would call a niche blogger. Will you tell us, share how you found your niche and how you started?
Cassidy Tuttle 3:14
Yeah. I actually have a bachelor’s degree in photography. In school, I found out that the thing I loved photographing was food primarily, and then also just products. So, I liked anything that stood still. I didn’t have to tell it what to do. That’s my favorite thing.
So, I did a lot of product photography. Early on in school, blogging was starting to become popular. So, I started a blog for my photography. I would post projects or things I was working on.
But then I bought a couple of succulents in the middle of a nasty gray winter in Utah. I had those growing on my window sill. They were really photogenic, so I was taking pictures of them.
I was doing research trying to figure out how to water them. How do I keep these alive? What do I need to do? Because I learned pretty quick they aren’t like most plants. So, as I was researching, I really couldn’t find anything that talked about growing succulents indoors.
That is very much changed in the last seven years, eight years. I started writing about what I was doing. So I’m like, “Okay. I can’t really find exactly what I’m looking for. I’ll just post some pictures.”
At the time, blogging was like you post every day and you talk about everything that you’re doing. That’s really what I started doing.
Jillian Leslie 4:40
Wait. What year was this?
Cassidy Tuttle 4:42
I’m pretty sure I bought my first succulents in 2012. So, about eight years ago. It was just something just to post on my photography blog at the time. And then, I started learning more about online business and how to make money online. I’ve always been really interested in business.
I actually started out school thinking I was going to major in business, and then decided I really want to do photography instead. So, I started learning about how you can monetize and look at what people are viewing on your website.
And when I put analytics on the website, this was the photography blog, I realized that I was getting organic search traffic from Google to these blog posts I had written about how to propagate or make more succulents from the ones you already have.
And so, I saw that as an opportunity because I listened to these podcast episodes or read ebooks about how you need to find something that people are searching for that you can write about.
I’m like, “I’m already getting this. This seems something kind of cool. succulents are fun. So let’s pursue this and see what happens.” So, I usually tell people it was kind of a happy accident but turned very intentional business.
So, actually, on Valentine’s Day of 2013, I bought the domain, succulentsandsunshine.com, and gradually moved over all these blog posts they had already written.
There were maybe five that were decent. A lot of it was just like, here’s what they look like today. Here’s what they look like today. I took what was good. I was more intentional about them.
I filled them out a little bit more, made it more tutorial-esque instead of just like, “Hey, I’m trying this and this seems to be kind of working.” That’s really when it started taking off. So that first year of 2013 we ended up making $15,000 for the year.
Jillian Leslie 6:47
Wow. And that was predominantly with ads?
Cassidy Tuttle 6:50
It was. Yeah. So march of 2013 was when I received my first payout from Google Ads of $100. A little bit of that was from I had put ads on the other photography blog. But then most of it was from the new website, just having it switched over to the new domain.
Jillian Leslie 7:09
Very cool. Okay. So then you said to yourself, “I can start monetizing this.” And I see on your blog that you also have products. So how did that come about?
Cassidy Tuttle 7:21
Yeah. So in 2014, I think it’s 2014. Maybe it’s 2013. Now, I can’t remember, but early on, like within the first year, propagation is what really got traffic to my website. That was the thing that people were coming before.
So, I had learned all about ebooks so I thought, “Okay. I’m going to write an Ebook on propagation.” It’s going to be super pretty because that’s what I loved, you know with photography.
So, I wrote an Ebook just on propagation. I had a very very tiny email list at the time, but it was more like… It might have only been an RSS feed at that point, but enough that I could email people and say, “Hey, I have this book coming out.”
At the time when I launched it, I thought it didn’t do very well. My perspective was totally changed since then. So when we launched it, and it was not a hard launch, it was just like, “Hey, guys. I have this Ebook that’s out.”
There was no prep coming up to it, or lead in. I made me send out two emails about it. And we ended up making $1000 from this $10 Ebook.
Jillian Leslie 8:35
Wow. Okay. Wow. What did you think?
Cassidy Tuttle 8:41
Well, honestly, I remember being disappointed, which is really sad. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized like, “You know what, this is a $10 product. I’m not gonna have like a five-figure launch.”
I don’t quite have that audience. But I realized I’m like, “I just made $1,000.” I’m going to keep earning money from it. We’ve kind of shifted the way we’re focusing on products now, but it consistently made about $500 a month from that point on.
Jillian Leslie 9:16
Cassidy Tuttle 9:17
It was a game-changer, for sure.
Jillian Leslie 9:19
You made it and then it’s up there, and it’s just passive income for you.
Cassidy Tuttle 9:23
Yup. So we just had links to it on the different blog posts. We’re promoting it that way. And it kept selling. And so then, I believe it was the end of 2014, I launched another Ebook, and we just kind of kept launching them from there.
I think, technically we have five Ebooks total. And we now have two courses. We have the succulent ID card, so kind of like a prettier, more informative version of that plant label you would get at a nursery when you buy a plant.
We have a digital version of those that we sell. There’s like 100. I think we have 150 plants, maybe now, were cards. And then, we also have a membership site that we just started at the end of 2019.
Jillian Leslie 10:17
Okay, so let’s step back. First of all, how long did it take you to write an Ebook? Or how long that let’s say you’ve got five?
Cassidy Tuttle 10:26
Well, the actual writing of it probably took me two hours.
Jillian Leslie 10:30
To write the entire Ebook?
Cassidy Tuttle 10:31
Yeah. It is a very helpful informative Ebook but it’s not very long.
Unknown Speaker 10:40
I think that one is for 45 pages, but it’s a picture book. So it’s not like there’s a ton of text on each page. It’s about… I want to say it’s about 4500 words. Maybe 9000. It’s just like a really long blog post.
Jillian Leslie 11:04
Wow. And then, how about your other Ebooks?
Cassidy Tuttle 11:09
Most of them are pretty similar. The writing part of it for me has always been pretty quick. I’ve done like research and different things, and it’s hard for me to say like,” Oh, I spent like five hours, 10 hours, 20 hours researching for this particular ebook.” Because it all kind of flows together. But most of them are, I would say 10,000 to 20,000 words or less.
Jillian Leslie 11:33
So it’s not like these are taking you three months.
Cassidy Tuttle 11:36
No. And honestly, the thing that took the longest with all of them was getting the photos taken. And then, I had a great graphic designer that I was using. It just took some time for her to get the Ebook put together. She was actually pretty quick.
It was still probably like a two or three-week turnaround. But overall, I would say it maybe took a month to get the Ebook done once I figured out what I was doing.
Jillian Leslie 11:59
Now, do you know like out of your five, are there certain ones that are big sellers and other ones that just kind of, you know, haven’t really panned out in that way? Like, are you making most of your money from Ebooks on two ebooks?
Cassidy Tuttle 12:17
With the ebooks right now we have a bundle option. Unfortunately for the past two years, the way the bundle was set up, I didn’t actually know what people were buying and then upgrading from. If that makes sense.
They could add the watering Ebook to their cart, and then I say, “Hey, do you want to get the bundle instead?” And they would say, “Yes.” And up until just like a few months ago, I didn’t know that it was like the watering or the propagating or the indoors Ebook that they were adding to their cart.
However, I do know that the water… So we have an Ebook on watering and that is probably the most popular one. Quickly followed by the propagation Ebook, so that original one.
I have only made like a handful of updates to it since it came out. So it was really like, write it and I was done.
Jillian Leslie 13:10
Wow. Okay. So you’re selling your Ebook for let’s say $10. Is that right?
Cassidy Tuttle 13:16
Jillian Leslie 13:16
And then, do you do a tripwire, which is where once they put it in their cart, you come out and say, “Hey, do you want to get the entire bundle for however much money?” Is it kind of like an impulse purchase to upgrade?
Cassidy Tuttle 13:35
Yeah. The term we’ve been using for is an order bump. So, pretty much if you add any of our products to your cart, just before you would click Checkout, it says, “Hey, do you want to get this item?”
Usually, it’s at a discount before you go. And across the board, we’ve had pretty great success with that. I think our average conversion is… I think it’s about 35%.
Jillian Leslie 14:03
Cassidy Tuttle 14:05
Yes. So it’s really increasing the average order value and selling a lot more products that way.
Jillian Leslie 14:11
You sell the first one for $10, but then how much is the bundle?
Cassidy Tuttle 14:15
Let’s see. The bundle is… I want to say it’s $25.
Jillian Leslie 14:23
And you get all five?
Cassidy Tuttle 14:25
Jillian Leslie 14:26
And for you it’s all free. It doesn’t matter in terms of your costs.
Cassidy Tuttle 14:32
Yup. And it’s interesting because with the ID cards, I’ve actually been playing around with different options. So we had the Ebook bundle as an option for the order bump. And now we’re switching to just trying one Ebook at a discount.
That’s actually been converting it over 50% but the order value, like the bump price, is so much lower that even though it’s converting higher, we’re not actually making as much. So, there’s just a lot of little things like that.
Jillian Leslie 15:05
But I love how you’re testing.
Cassidy Tuttle 15:08
Yeah. So we’ve tried a bunch of different things. It’s always exciting when they work. It’s more frustrating when they don’t. But that idea of trying new things and testing, I think it’s part of what keeps me going because it’s just fun to see what works.
And we’ve had a few things in the last few months that haven’t actually worked out the way we thought. They didn’t improve. And so, that’s frustrating. I’m like, “Man, why didn’t we do that?” It didn’t work out. But we wouldn’t have known otherwise.
We actually made a change last spring to the way we were asking people for their email address. We were using the same lead magnet or opt-in, but we changed the design of how the forum would show up.
Someone recommended this change to me. I had a coach and he’s like, “Let’s try doing it this way.” I’m like, “That doesn’t make any sense.” It seems like it’s not going to be as visible.
But interestingly, we went from having about 2% to 3% conversion rate on a particular blog post, and it jumped up to almost 8%.
Jillian Leslie 16:19
Wow! What was the change? Please share what was the change.
Cassidy Tuttle 16:22
Yeah. So, what we had before was like this big box that was in line in the blog post, so it definitely stood out. And it said, “Hey, do you want to get this free cheat sheet?” I’m sure the wording was much better but, “Do you want to get this cheat sheet that shows you signs your succulent has been overwatered or underwatered?”
I think you still had to click a button to put your email address in. I can’t remember for sure, but it was something that was very obviously an opt-in. And instead what we did was I wrote a paragraph that said, “Hey, by the way, I have this cheat sheet that will show you early signs that your succulent’s getting too much or too little water. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.”
And it was just text. And then, that link that said click here to grab it would then have the pop up where they put in their name and their email address.
Jillian Leslie 17:18
Interesting. So it didn’t look like it was an opt-in. It looked like, “Hey, just grab this.” And then people are like, “All right, here’s my email address.”
Cassidy Tuttle 17:25
Yeah. And what I was worried about because I am a skimmer. There are very few articles where I read in-depth. So I’m like, “But if people are skimming, they’re not gonna see this.”
But the people who actually read through the article knew that they wanted that and they were the most engaged visitors anyway. And so, instead of looking like an ad or an interruption, it just flows with the text.
So we ended up changing that for the majority of our blog posts. It basically doubled our email opt-in conversion rate for the site as a whole.
Jillian Leslie 18:02
That’s amazing. Now, one step back for your products. What software are you using to do the bumps and all of that to make that a good experience for your visitors?
Cassidy Tuttle 18:15
Yeah. I’ve tried a lot of things. And at the end of the day, I realized I’m very much a control freak. I just want to be able to manage everything and do it my way. I am currently set up on WooCommerce. But I did not like the way that WooCommerce’s shopping cart was set up.
So I found a plugin or software. I don’t know what the right thing to call it is, but it’s a plugin on the website that overrides the default WooCommerce checkout page and lets you customize it more.
And then, it also gives you like the order bump. And then, you can also do upsells. So like after they purchase, you can sell them a product there. And that’s called WooFunnels. It is the brand or company.
Jillian Leslie 19:03
And you’d like that.
Cassidy Tuttle 19:05
Yeah, I’ve really liked it. Like, everything has its drawbacks. There are things that I’d probably change or could be better, but it has really simplified the whole checkout process for us.
Especially where we don’t have an e-commerce storefront. It’s not like we have all of these products. Basically, if people are buying a product from us, they’re clicking to buy it, they’re buying that one thing, and that’s all, or the order bump, obviously, but we’re sending people directly from a sales page to check out. There’s not like an add to cart.
Jillian Leslie 19:42
Cassidy Tuttle 19:43
Yeah. I think the shopping cart plugin is actually called Aero Checkout, and then order bump is that plugin. So they have a couple of different plugins that do different things. All under WooFunnels.
Jillian Leslie 19:59
I wanted to take a quick break to talk about how, as bloggers and online entrepreneurs, the landscape is always changing. What you want to do today is really direct your visitors and your customers to where you want them to go.
We decided that we launch as part of MiloTree, so not only can you grow your social media followers on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube and get people to subscribe to your list from your pop-up.
Now, let’s say it’s a sponsored post. You want to get eyeballs on it. That’s a great use case for the pop-up. Let’s say you’re selling a product, and you have a landing page or sales page, you can link this pop-up to that.
But we have another pop-up that we just launched, and it’s a custom link pop-up. What that means is if you want people to see a certain piece of content on your site, you can link your pop-up to that piece of content, put an image in the pop-up so that when someone comes to your site, they’ll be directed to go see that.
Let’s say you’re really psyched about your TikTok account, go link the pop-up to your TikTok account. Wherever you want it to go, you can. And therefore, you start to gain control of your audience’s path.
Head to MiloTree.com. Get your first 30 days free. You’ll see the custom link pop-up. Also, you have access to all the other ones. But I think this is a game-changer because I think we are going to see over the next six to 12 months a real shift in how people make money online.
If you have any questions reach out to me at Jillian@MiloTree.com. And now, back to the show.
So now, if you would share, how much do you make from your Ebooks and bumps and all of that?
Cassidy Tuttle 22:05
Yeah. I would say about 40% of our income is sales of our own products. Roughly half of that would be the digital downloads. So Ebooks or the ID cards. And then the other half is our course sales.
Jillian Leslie 22:24
Okay. So tell me about the courses. When did you start making them? How many do you offer? How do you sell them?
Cassidy Tuttle 22:30
Yeah. We have two courses that we offer right now. The first one, I want to say we started it in 2016. So it’s just over three years that we’ve had it. We’ve done a variety of different things to promote it.
Initially, we had it so that the only way that you could buy it was through an email sequence. So, you’d opt-in for that free cheat sheet, you’d get a series of helpful emails, and then you would get a sales sequence.
And then, we tried having the course just available always. That’s what we’ve had for most of the time that we’ve had the course. And then, the email funnel would give people a discount on the course for a limited time.
We’re actually migrating back to only having the course available through the email funnel and then doing like a promotion for it two or three times a year.
Jillian Leslie 23:32
Have you started that?
Cassidy Tuttle 23:34
We’re actually getting… Yeah, so we actually just kind of closed the course to the public. There are some loose ends, we’re still tying up but we just closed that in February. And then we’ll do a big promotion for it. Most likely in May.
Jillian Leslie 23:52
Now when you say “we” who is we?
Cassidy Tuttle 23:55
That’s a good question. In my head, my husband and I run the business together. He’s awesome moral support, like bouncing ideas off of him. He has a lot of great insight and feedback, and he’ll do whatever random or odd jobs I need him to do.
And then, I also have a full-time assistant. And so, she and I are the ones that are like really running the business. In reality, it’s probably her running the business.
So actually, you and I, before we were able to schedule this call, I had been sick, like in bed, not able to do anything for almost two weeks. Shawntel just keeps the show rolling. She’s answering emails, doing any social media, and just all the kind of day to day tasks.
And then I’m focused more on planning and big ideas. I do most of the email marketing side of things. So, coming up with what we’re going to do four different funnels, and kind of, I guess, higher-level stuff like that.
But it’s been awesome to have her just because I don’t have to be the one doing every single thing. And then we do have a couple of contractors that we hire for different things. Like someone manages our Pinterest for us.
We have a VA in the Philippines that does a lot of our like Facebook. We have a big Facebook group. And so, she manages a lot of that. We also have moderators in there. So we do have a lot of people helping out in various ways, but primarily, it’s myself and then my assistant.
And then my husband builds a bunch of like… like he built an awesome wall that I record in front of for YouTube. And he’s building like a planter. And tech support sometimes. Just a variety of things.
Jillian Leslie 25:49
Oh, that’s cool. I mean I love how it has grown organically. I work with my husband too. He’s my partner. And same thing, I have a full-time contractors from the Philippines, and other people to help.
But it’s like, “Oh, wait. I need this.” And then, I go find that person. So I don’t start off thinking, “Well, what do I need to build my team?” It just organically starts growing.
Cassidy Tuttle 26:16
Yeah. And it’s interesting because over the last probably two or three years, I’ve had… Shawntel has been on our team since April of 2017, or August of 2017. And really, since then, I’ve learned a lot about what I do and don’t like about working with other people.
She and I work together extremely well. We’ve both said, the only way this will end is when the business just dies or if her side projects take off and different things. We work really well together.
But just as we’ve worked with other people, I have realized that I do not enjoy, and I’m not very good at managing people. I’m just not consistent enough in that way. And she is good at that.
But we’ve just been figuring out, you know, this dynamic of what’s the best way for us to have other people help get projects done. And for the most part that’s not been having like another full time or even part-time assistant.
Like most of the people that we have working for us maybe do like five or 10 hours a week. And it’s a one very, very specific thing that they do instead of having kind of like a jack of all trades person.
Jillian Leslie 27:36
Same thing. Same thing. I have different people doing very specific tasks over and over again so that the work is consistent and I don’t have to check up on them. I find that to be the same thing in terms of just my own mental load.
If it relates to this specific thing, this person does it. And I have to set them up, like let’s say train them once. And then boom, I can let that run. And I don’t have to find projects for people. I’m so with you.
Cassidy Tuttle 28:13
Yeah. And it’s been nice now people who are just really good at what they do. And so then we’re not like worried about, can we utilize them better doing this thing or this thing? Like we hired them for that purpose, and that’s what they’re doing, and they’re awesome at it.
Jillian Leslie 28:30
Absolutely. Okay, so you’ve made two courses. How do you feel about courses? I know you’re now going to go back to your strategy of an email sequence where you sell the course. Do you feel like in your business, when you think about the products that you’ve made, where do you feel the opportunities are going forward?
Cassidy Tuttle 28:51
The courses are definitely a big part of it. I mean if for no other reason, then it’s a much bigger ticket item. And so, being able to sell twice as many courses makes a much bigger impact on our income versus selling twice as many Ebooks.
Jillian Leslie 29:07
How much a year do you charge for your courses?
Cassidy Tuttle 29:10
So our main course, Successfully Growing Succulents is $127. And then we have a course that we launched last year, Successfully Propagating Succulents. So, getting back to that propagation thing. That one is $45. It’s a smaller course.
Jillian Leslie 29:30
Got it. Okay, so let’s talk about this thing that we were talking about before we press record. If you listen to my podcast, you know that I talk a lot about finding a niche.
And because the internet is so big, your niche can be relatively small and you can build a very successful business in that niche. So, will you talk to me about how you think about the fact that you are a niche blogger, and what the pros and cons of that are?
Cassidy Tuttle 30:02
I have realized over the years that succulents are not even as niche as most people think they are. We had talked about when I go to blogging conferences, you know, a lot of people are like, “Why do you like lifestyle?”
“I do food, and fashion, and different things all in one blog.” And then when they find out, I just do succulents, they’re like, “Really? Only succulents?” How do you have enough ideas for that?
Part of it is that I think, because I’m in the space I’m realizing that succulents are a lot bigger than most people think, but it’s so helpful because I know exactly why people are coming to my site. I know exactly what they want to do.
Even if they’re in various stages of owning succulents, they still want to know how to take care of them. Maybe it’s really basic, like let’s just talk about watering, but then you’ll have people who also want to know about growing from seeds, or they want more rare plants, and how do you find rare plants? How do you keep them alive versus some of the more common varieties?
But the thing that’s nice is I’ve come to realize that by being so niche, I don’t have to try and satisfy a bunch of different needs that someone has. I think there’s absolutely a place for lifestyle blogging, and there are so many good things about it.
I don’t want to make it seem like “If you’re not niche, that’s a problem.” But I absolutely think that starting small and serving your audience really well in that really small thing, it creates super fans. Right?
It creates people who love you and they feel like you have transformed this particular thing for them. When I started, I was really focused just on propagating succulents from leaves. That was the thing that I was getting traffic from. And so, I really focused on that.
And then, started branching out into more like, “Okay. Well, here’s a basic care for succulents.” And the thing that I’ve actually been finding over the last two or three years especially is I have people all over the world in all kinds of climates who are coming to my website to learn how to grow succulents.
And growing succulents in the dry heat here in Phoenix is so different than growing succulents in Florida if you’re growing them outside. Now, indoor growing, for the most part, is fairly similar.
But even then there are some nuances just like with humidity, so I have actually struggled just in the last two or three years feeling like I’m not niche enough, because there’s not like this…
I’m teaching techniques that work for people around the world. And that’s the way we’ve started framing it is like, “Look, I’m not going to give you the exact watering schedule for your succulent.”
“But I’m going to tell you how succulents like to be watered. I’m going to tell you the science is getting too much or too little so that you are then informed and can create your own watering schedule based on your climate.”
Jillian Leslie 33:15
I love that.
Cassidy Tuttle 33:17
So, that’s the niche or direction I’ve kind of gone into it, which may or may not seem niche to people, but we’d also looked at like, “Well, let’s only focus on indoor succulent growers.” And that is primarily where we focus.
But it wasn’t like I went with just succulents that survive in like a humid climate or just succulents that survive in a four-season climate. So there are different ways that you can niche down in various topics, but by serving a small audience and doing it really well. You get people who keep coming back over and over. And I feel like you’re seeing as a lot more of an expert.
Jillian Leslie 33:55
Absolutely. One thing that I would add as a blogger, as an expert, your job is to solve people’s problems. And because you’re in this niche, you know that the one big problem that you’ve been talking about is how much to water your succulents.
And you can answer that from a place of authority. And immediately you create trust, and people will look to you. Whereas, again, if you’re a lifestyle blogger, it’s harder to figure out what are the exact problems you can solve for somebody because maybe somebody is coming to you for food, or maybe somebody is coming to you for travel or fashion.
And I always say, “Lifestyle is not a niche. And if you are a lifestyle blogger and you’re not having success, or you’re struggling a little bit to think about where are people responding to you. What kinds of content are people responding to you the most about and going that way?
Like if you are a kind of celebrity and people just want to like… Like you are Jessica Alba and people want to learn about your life. They want to hear about your travels and they want to hear about your fashion.
But if you’re starting out today, my recommendation is really figure out, like test a bunch of stuff and see what hits because then you want to be answering the question in your niche of how much to water your succulents, like the equivalent of that question.
Cassidy Tuttle 35:27
Yeah, and the thing I think that people get really afraid of when they’re just starting is like, “Well, what if it’s too small? Then you can branch out, right?
Like worst-case scenario is you pick something so hyper niched and focused that you’re only finding like 10 people, but like you’re saying, they probably have other problems you can solve that are a little bit broader.
But if you start small, it’s so much easier to then branch out. Whereas we kind of had to do this shift and we took all of this big broad stuff. We really had to kind of focus it in and figure out how to make it specific to people.
And that is much harder because then you’re tied to all these other things. And you’re like, “Oh, but this person wants me to do this. This person wants to do this.” Or, just internally, “But I really like doing this. I really liked doing this one. I don’t want to only focus on one thing.”
Whereas if you start with just one thing, it’s easy to add. You can always add things, but it’s harder to take away.
Jillian Leslie 36:31
Absolutely. And I think just what you were saying in terms of well, “I like doing food and I like doing travel.” And I would say the mindset shift needs to be, “I want to help people. I want to build relationships.” So, it becomes “I want to help that one person. How can I do that?”
So, if you are a lifestyle blogger, and you’re like, “Well, I love to travel.” Like, where are people coming to you as an expert and really digging in on that? Like really thinking of your business more as in terms of relationships, rather than content?
Cassidy Tuttle 37:06
Yeah, it’s interesting you say that because I actually had the opportunity to meet Seth Godin at a conference.
Jillian Leslie 37:12
I love him.
Cassidy Tuttle 37:14
Yes. I didn’t want to overwhelm. Everyone was talking to him. But I did want to say hi, and we chatted for just a minute. And the one thing that he said to me was, he said, “You need to find a community of people that want to be together and that you can serve.”
And just that concept of community has… I think we were focused on it a little bit in the beginning, but I have really, really leaned into that because all of the great ideas that we have all come from feedback that we’ve gotten from our audience.
They may not be saying it directly, but there are things that I recognize as like, “Oh, everyone keeps saying this thing over and over. This keeps popping up. What can we do to help with that?” Or like, “What’s missing? Why is this an issue?”
And being able to have that audience that’s responsive, that talks to you, or that you can sit back and just kind of watch, you know, maybe you’re not like actually engaging all the time, but you can see what people are talking about. That is invaluable. We have a large Facebook community…
Jillian Leslie 38:25
How big is your Facebook? Is it a Facebook group?
Cassidy Tuttle 38:28
Yeah, we have a Facebook group. I want to say we’re at about 55,000 members.
Jillian Leslie 38:35
Cassidy Tuttle 38:36
Yeah. And I have been on a roller coaster of emotions with it. But initially, I was like, “Oh, we’re gonna make so much money from this Facebook group.” And it really is like, that’s not the point of the Facebook group.
The Facebook group for us currently kind of provides two things. It gives us a place to send people because I can’t directly answer every person’s question. I can send them to blog posts.
But if they want more personalized help, they can buy our course, join the membership, or we can send them to this Facebook community, which is so great. Like we have a super-engaged group there. So that’s nice.
But then also, it’s like instant feedback. If I have a question, and I want to get some insight from people in our audience, I just post in our Facebook group, and you know, within like, 20-30 minutes, I usually have 10 or 15 comments, depending on the question.
Some obviously, strike more engagement than others. But it’s so awesome to just see what people are saying. I mean I sometimes will just like scroll the feed and see, “Okay. What’s popping up?”
What are the most common problems that people are having this week? What are people most excited about this week?
And so, if you start small and you have a good connection with your audience, and you can get feedback from them, that just enables you to do so much more and be more genuine in helping people.
And then in turn, they’re way more likely to purchase from you and stick around, because they can see how you’re directly solving their problem and making their life better.
Jillian Leslie 40:10
Absolutely. I’m really invested in my Facebook group called the MiloTree Mastermind group. And same thing. I feel like I know these people. I feel like they know me. I show up and they show up.
And you’re right about, it’s not about directly selling to them. But it is about like, I will show them let’s say, a sales page that I’ve created and say, “Give me your feedback on this.” Not go buy my product.
It’s almost like they’re on the inside and I’m on the inside and there’s something very intimate about that. And back to the point of being a lifestyle blogger.
I don’t mean to criticize lifestyle bloggers, but if you’re seeing your blog, I guess the way that I think about it is the magazine business right now is really struggling. The magazines that you see, say at the airport or the grocery store, notice they’ve gotten much smaller, and it’s not really a great business to be in.
And if your blog is like a magazine, I would argue that’s not a great business to be in. I believe the business of solving problems and connecting to people is a really good business to be in.
Cassidy Tuttle 41:22
Yes, definitely. And it’s awesome because then you see results, right? And when people get results, then they want to share with everyone.
We have this happen all the time with our readers, with our customers, where it’s like they buy a succulent, and maybe they’ve had one or two before and they’ve died, but this time, they’re going to keep it alive. They’re determined.
They come to the website, they read some blog post. Maybe they joined the course, and suddenly they understand what was wrong and why it didn’t work before. And now they know what to do and it’s working.
Then they, in turn, start buying more succulents sometimes through us. And then they share it with their friends. And they’re like, “Oh, by the way, you should check Succulents and Sunshine because this is where I learned everything.
Or they’re teaching people. But it just spreads when people are changing something and making something happen. That’s what gets them excited. And that’s what they want to share.
Jillian Leslie 42:24
Yeah, there’s nothing better than success and happiness.
Cassidy Tuttle 42:27
Jillian Leslie 42:28
And sunshine. It’s all about good feelings.
Cassidy Tuttle 42:32
Jillian Leslie 42:33
Okay. A couple more questions. Are you actively blogging? And if so, how often?
Cassidy Tuttle 42:47
I have a hard time answering that question. In my head, no, I would not say that. I actually kind of don’t consider myself a blogger so much anymore. But I think it’s just my perception of the word.
Currently, we have one new article coming out each week. Generally, one a week. It’s focused on a particular succulents species. So like the zebra plant. We’ll have this article that’s really in-depth about the specific needs of this species of succulents.
My assistant is actually doing most of the work on those. It’s very research-based. It’s like trying to find all of the information about this plant and combine it all into one and trying to be as comprehensive as possible.
We are doing one of those every week, but in terms of writing like a blog post, or like a how-to article, something along that line, I can’t remember the last time I published one. I mean it’s probably been a year.
We’ve hit this point where we have the basics covered. There are actually some other blog post topics that are on my to-do list that just haven’t become a priority. But we have the basics of care really flushed out on the website.
And so, we’ve put a lot more time and energy into marketing our products better. And then also, like you’ve mentioned the membership, that’s where a lot of our new content is going. We’re focusing more on video and classes.
So each month in our membership, we do a new class. And some of it are things that I have already talked about on the blog, I’ve already talked about in a course, but it’s just a fresh approach. It’s a new video.
We have different people in the membership than we do anywhere else. And so, I really am not publishing a lot of new content. And even these, we call them types of succulents pages, we will be doing one a week for the rest of the year. And that’s the end so far as we can tell.
We will probably add some here and there just based on requests. But that will probably be the last of like brand new content on Succulents & Sunshine. We’ll update and revise old content, you know, and try and make things better.
And it’s not that we don’t have more content that we could share. It’s just that we have what we need, and right now traffic is not our issue.
And so, if these other topics are things that we can easily put behind a paywall now where it’s like, you know, join the membership, get access to these different things. We still have so much great free content out there that is serving and helping people. And then, we have other stuff that’s paid.
Jillian Leslie 45:52
I think that is great. Okay. And how much is your membership site?
Cassidy Tuttle 45:55
It is $25 a month.
Jillian Leslie 45:57
And how is that going?
Cassidy Tuttle 45:59
Good. It’s been an adventure. I will say that. I was at a conference in July last year and talked to Shane Sam’s of Flip your Life. I’m trying to remember what their podcast is called. Anyway, I knew he was gonna tell me I should start a membership site.
And I’ve been so resistant to it for a very long time. But having a conversation with him was really interesting. He just helps me realize that I can do a membership site however I want to do it.
I don’t have to follow this mold. Like the example I gave him. And it seems so dumb now is I’m like, “I don’t want to show up on the first Thursday of every month at one o’clock.” Like, what if I want to do it on a different day?
And he’s like, “Well, why do you have to always do it on the first Thursday?” It was such a little shift, but like, “Okay. Yeah, you’re right.” Like, I can just look at my schedule for the month and say, “Hey, this day works. Let’s do it this day.” You know, for like a live Q&A or something.
We ended up starting it in September. And it’s evolved a little bit since then. I’m sure it will continue to evolve a little bit. But we’re really excited with the direction it’s going. And the people who are in it are so happy to be there. And that’s been really, really nice.
Jillian Leslie 47:20
Yes, I get it. I love the way your business just keeps evolving. But the one constant is the connection to your audience and that you are solving problems for them. And they are willing to take out their credit card to learn because they trust you.
Cassidy Tuttle 47:36
Yeah. And it’s so interesting because when I came up with the concept for the membership site, I posted in our free community group about it, and I’m like, “What do you guys think?”
And 90%, maybe 95% of people said they wouldn’t buy it. And the price point was actually lower at that point in time. And it was like, “No, why would I pay for that?” Like, there’s so much free content.
But we had two people on there who commented. They’re like, “This is so nice.” Like, that’s what I need is the one on one help. The smaller, more personal access. And that’s the thing that I’ve loved.
Yeah, we don’t have like this massive membership but we have people who are going to be with us. Most of the people in our membership have probably been there since we started in September. So they’re like going on six months.
We’ve had people come and join and leave too, but a lot of people have been there for a good amount of time already. And that’s the thing that’s nice is like, they feel like they’re getting so much of what they need.
And it’s okay that other people don’t want what I have, that they think it’s too expensive, or they think it’s ridiculous. That’s fine. It’s not for them.
Jillian Leslie 48:50
Okay. I feel like you need to come back for part two. Would you do that?
Cassidy Tuttle 48:57
We can do it.
Jillian Leslie 48:58
Okay. So wait, so last question, which is, what is the one piece of advice that you would give my audience that you wish you had gotten at the beginning as you were building your business?
Cassidy Tuttle 49:18
So usually the advice I give people is just like, just keep trying things. And, I feel like that’s kind of been the constant for me, is like not getting discouraged. I will be the first person to tell you that blogging or online business is a boatload of work.
It’s so much work and there are so many ups and downs. Sometimes daily. And I can’t tell you how many times I have thought about just being done. I’m like, “I’m not touching another succulent again. We are moving on. Let’s go get a regular job.”
But just keep trying things and don’t be afraid to start and don’t be afraid to shift. I think people are just afraid of taking action and making something happen because they don’t know what’s going to come and because bad things can happen, but good things can also happen too. So just don’t be afraid to try something new.
Jillian Leslie 50:17
And just to add to that would be what you had said previously. Don’t believe that just because everybody, not everybody, but that’s like the thinking, everybody does a membership site this way, you have to do it that way, too.
Cassidy Tuttle 50:32
Yes. And that’s something that I don’t know if it’s my niche, or my audience or what it is. But I have actually found… Like, a lot of general best online business practices work really well for us. But there’s a lot that we’ve been totally backward on.
You know, just that like people are like, “Oh, you absolutely should not do that.” It’s like the first thing that comes to mind is people only have one thing for people to click on in your weekly emails.
It’s like you only want to give one action item, but we have seven because our members wanted it. They’re like, “Well, I’m not going to open your email if it’s not something that interests me.”
But if we have seven different things in our weekly email, we found that our open rate went up because people are curious. Like, what could I possibly learn about this week?
So yeah, be willing to definitely listen to all the advice out there and do your research and see what’s working for people. And then, try some different things too.
Jillian Leslie 51:34
I love that. Okay.
Cassidy Tuttle 51:35
I wouldn’t say going against the grain is like the norm. I wouldn’t go against the grain most of the time, but, you know, don’t be afraid to try something different.
Jillian Leslie 51:42
I love that. Okay, Cassidy. People want to reach out to you, find more about you. How can they?
Cassidy Tuttle 51:50
The best place is probably SucculentsandSunshine.com. You can also go to CassidyTuttle.com. Depending on when you’re listening to this, there may or may not be very much up there. But Succulents and Sunshine is where all the awesome stuff is really happening right now.
Jillian Leslie 52:04
And is there like a contact page if people want to email you?
Cassidy Tuttle 52:08
Yes, there is an about form on there. Or about page.
Jillian Leslie 52:12
I think that’s how I reached out to you.
Cassidy Tuttle 52:13
Jillian Leslie 52:15
Well, so will you come back for part two? I feel like there’s so much to talk about.
Cassidy Tuttle 52:20
Yeah, that’d be awesome. I’d love to come back.
Jillian Leslie 52:22
Awesome. Well, Cassidy, thank you so much for being on the show.
Cassidy Tuttle 52:26
Thank you for having me.
Jillian Leslie 52:27
Definitely, my biggest takeaway from this episode with Cassidy is that people are building very unique businesses on the internet. It used to be, if you were a blogger, your blog was like a magazine. And you were trying to get the broadest audience that you could find.
Today, blogging is all about serving a very specific audience that you’ve cultivated. Figuring out what they’re interested in and serving up solutions. And what’s so interesting about that is, those solutions can look very different depending on what your niche is.
If you are liking the podcast and you want to continue the conversation, please join my Facebook group. It’s called the MiloTree Mastermind group. I love it. I’m in there all the time. It is an awesome community of entrepreneurs. I love talking to everybody.
I go in live a lot. I talk about the episodes. I talk about what’s on my mind. I talk about building businesses. So please head to Facebook, join the MiloTree Mastermind group. And I will see you here again next week.
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