In this episode we talk about how to build enormous Instagram and Facebook pages. Yes, it is still possible to grow an enormous social media presence today.
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. Before I get started, I wanted to announce that I’ve started going live in my Facebook group on Mondays. My Facebook group is the MiloTree Mastermind Group, and I welcome you all to join. And then, to join me on Mondays, live at 3pm Eastern, 12 Pacific, where I do a recap of this week’s episode.
I want the Facebook group to really be an extension of the podcast. It’s a place where you guys can reach out to me and I can reach out to you, and we can all learn together. So please, again, MiloTree Mastermind Group, 3pm Eastern Time, Mondays, 12 o’clock Pacific. Hopefully, I will see you there.
Okay. For today’s episode, I am interviewing Andrea Scalzo Yi. She is the creator of the blog, Raising Dragons. She has four sons, so hence the name. What she does is stem projects for kids. She makes these really lovely, beautiful videos where she videotapes the projects.
What’s amazing about what Andrea has done is she has built a business so quickly. And we talk about how she did it. And also, we talked about where she plans to take her business in the future, given that she’s built this incredible audience.
One last thing, I recorded the episode in Zoom. And so, the recording is not as great. I’m still kind of tweaking it and working out all the kinks so please bear with me, but the interview is so worth it. So without further ado, here is my interview with Andrea Scalzo Yi.
Andrea, welcome to the show.
Andrea Yi 1:57
Thank you. Thanks for having me. So good to be here.
Jillian Leslie 2:00
Okay. We were just talking about how we feel like we’ve known each other because we’ve been talking back and forth for years, I feel like. And you use MiloTree to grow your Instagram followers, which I just looked, you have 66,000 Instagram followers. And your real focus before this, I think, was Facebook because you’ve got 649,000 Facebook followers.
I want to get into that. But before we launch in, I want you to tell me your entrepreneurial journey. Like how you got to be where you are.
Andrea Yi 2:37
Oh my gosh. Well, it all started after I had my fourth son. I was working full time through really having all my kids and after having the fourth son I decided I can’t be at work anymore. I mean, it was just unreasonable. I was managing a team at work, a team at home, and you know.
Jillian Leslie 2:57
Crazy. Well, and what were you doing?
Andrea Yi 2:59
I was in strategic partnerships for destination maternity. I’ve always worked in retail. I was at Donna Karen for many years on the buying side. And then we relocated out of New York City down to the Philadelphia area.
And then I joined destination maternity, which is based down here. And I got into marketing and strategic partnerships. So that’s what I’m doing up until that point, which I really enjoyed. But you know, when the demands of kids sort of come into the picture, and you’re kind of getting pulled in a million directions, it just wasn’t sustainable.
And so, we made a decision as a family that I would just take a few years off. But I’ve always worked. And so, I took like, six months off, and then I was like, “I need to do something. I can’t just stay at home.” That’s sort of where it started from.
I was like, “If I’m going to be home, I would like to try to do something with the kids.” I was an engineering major in college. I always loved science and engineering topics like that. And then, working for Donna Karen I always had kind of the fashion and art thing, so I just started doing simple experiments with them. We were enjoying ourselves.
Jillian Leslie 4:19
Wait. I have to stop you for a second which is I don’t know if I mentioned it. Okay. Your blog, Raising Dragons. So you’ve got four little dragons at home?
Andrea Yi 4:26
Yes. I have four little dragons, hence the name. I was like, “Maybe I’ll start a blog.” I have a friend who’s been a blogger since like 2006 and has made a very good living off of it. So I sort of had that person. I knew it was possible but I don’t love to write. I’m not a natural writer.
I was always like, “I don’t know if blogging is for me.” I always said it had to be writing. I was like, “Maybe we can make videos.” I’ve seen video starts to become bigger on social media.
Jillian Leslie 4:54
What year is this?
Andrea Yi 4:56
This was 2017.
Jillian Leslie 4:59
Andrea Yi 5:00
That’s two years ago.
Jillian Leslie 5:01
Oh my God.
Andrea Yi 5:01
Jillian Leslie 5:02
I thought you’ve been doing this for a really long time. Wow! Wow!
Andrea Yi 5:06
Yeah. I think I started thinking by the end of 2016. And by 2017, I come up with the name Raising Dragons and I bought the domain. So it was available. I bought it. I remember I started writing like a chores blog. And then I was like, “Blog post. I can’t write.”
It is not what I want to do. And so, I just rethought about it. Already, I was like, “I have to rethink this.” And I was like, “I’m going to start to video.” And I own the domain but I really went for social media. I got all my social media set up. And then I just started posting videos of me and the boys doing science experiments.
One minute videos with no volume really designed for the busy parent that is scrolling through to show them they can do things with their kids. The videos just started taking off on Facebook. First, we showed it to our friends. And then I started joining groups and sort of learning.
And then, one big page posted one of my videos, and that was sort of it. Then I saw the power of like a video going viral. I just started making more content like that. What was great was I was doing things with my kids to make my content and then just posting it. So, that’s sort of where it all snowballed from.
Facebook really just allowed me to grow quickly. I mean I’ve had over 20 videos go viral on Facebook.
Jillian Leslie 6:34
Explain how many views that means.
Andrea Yi 6:37
Oh, my gosh. One video alone has, I think, 30 million views.
Jillian Leslie 6:43
Wow! Wow. These are one minute videos. No dialogue.
Andrea Yi 6:50
Yeah. I just put in a music. I speed things up. I started off just giving sort of everything in the vlog. I just was like, “I’m just going to serve people how I would want to be served exactly.” Like I really wasn’t worried about driving traffic anywhere. I was like, “I’m going to build an audience and then I’ll figure out what to do with it.”
Jillian Leslie 7:07
I like that. Okay.
Andrea Yi 7:10
And so, I would just put like one little paragraph. This is how you do it. Then the video would show what it is.
Jillian Leslie 7:16
This is on your blog, you would do this? Or on Facebook, you would do this?
Andrea Yi 7:18
I would make it once and post it everywhere. So yeah, even on my blog. I wasn’t SEO-ing anything. I didn’t even know what any of it was. I would just make because I didn’t have a lot of time either. I’m like raising these kids.
I literally do everything on my phone. I still, to this day, do 90% of my work on my phone.
Jillian Leslie 7:39
I love that.
Andrea Yi 7:39
I make it. I edit it. I post it. I also move things around. Because I’m like, in the parking lot waiting for my kids. You know, like I’m moving a lot so I needed it to be like on my phone.
Jillian Leslie 7:52
How many videos were you making a week? And how many are you still making?
Andrea Yi 7:57
Yes. I would say the first two years, I made three to four videos a week. I was just focused on content because that was what I could do, what I was seeing a reaction to. And now, I’m more to one to two new videos a week because a lot of the content is evergreen that I can sort of recycle.
There’s always new people coming to me. So you know, it works. Now I can move my focus to other areas, right. I’m not making as much now. Although, I still try to put out at least one new piece of content a week.
Jillian Leslie 8:31
Okay. So your initial place was really Facebook?
Andrea Yi 8:37
Jillian Leslie 8:38
And now, has that changed? Has the Facebook algorithm hurt you? What have you seen? How has this evolved in the last two years?
Andrea Yi 8:47
I mean the algorithms are always changing on all the platforms, right? So, you have to adjust a little bit but I still try to stay true to what has always worked for me.
I’ve seen Pinterest now, I think in the last year, started allowing video content. So now I’ve posted all my content on Pinterest. Not even all of it. Like as I can do it. But by Pinterest traffic has taken off and I’m getting like 8 million views a month there. So now that’s really grown because they didn’t allow video in the past.
Jillian Leslie 9:19
Right. Are you getting clicks back to your website from Pinterest?
Andrea Yi 9:23
Yes. So, since I’ve started now, even when I post a Facebook video, I’ll give a little blurb and then I’ll say, “If you want full instructions, just link to my website.” So start driving traffic there so I can collect email. I’m sort of like building my strategy that way.
But Pinterest, yes, Pinterest drives over half of my traffic now because you can’t really show anything on Pinterest on how to do it. So yeah, because Pinterest is really important to me now. And then Instagram is important from a brand perspective.
Most brands want to work with Instagram so I’m always interested in growing my Instagram account. Although it’s much harder because you can’t share on Instagram the way you can share on Facebook. So that’s why Instagram’s always been a little slower for me to grow.
Jillian Leslie 10:10
Got it. And are you working with brands? Are brands finding you on Instagram? So, in terms of your strategy, what I think is really interesting is you really took social media and go, “I’m going all in here. And then, I’m going to worry about the rest of my business after I’ve grown this audience.”
So how are you then, first, monetizing? And kind of how does social media fit in with that?
Andrea Yi 10:34
So my primary way of monetization right now is sponsored content. I don’t work with a ton of brands either. I work with brands that make sense to educational or steam activities or in a way we can tie in.
Jillian Leslie 10:53
Give me an example of a brand that you work with.
Andrea Yi 10:55
So we just worked with Penguin Books, for example. It was one of my most recent. We promoted Mad Libs for them. Just to remind people, Mad Libs, is actually great educational activity. And then we did another post for their book series, The Last Kids on Earth.
And we did a steam activity that’s tied to like the zombies and monsters. So, that’s sort of ways we work with brands. I work with a lot of toy brands too. I love to work with small brands like other mom entrepreneurs just getting started if it makes sense to what I’m doing already.
I am open to working with people. I don’t do a ton of sponsored content. So, I don’t actively seek it out so much. I do work with a business partner that is sort of… I’m pretty much a one woman show but I have a partner that helps me manage my partnership relationships.
Jillian Leslie 11:52
Okay. So, what is this person doing? They’re interacting with the brands?
Andrea Yi 11:56
Yes. Her name is Danny. She’s a former coworker of mine and now we’re both doing our own business. She has always been in marketing partnerships. So she has a lot of relationships in the mom and baby space.
So, when I started doing my own thing, she started doing her own thing, we were like “Let’s work together.” So she works with a lot of brands outside of mine, but we work together to do this. Any sponsored content basically.
Jillian Leslie 12:20
A brand comes to you and says, “I want your special sauce.” Right? And so, what will you be offering to a brand because you’re so big on social? Is it a blog post? Is it Instagram? What are brands wanting from you? A video?
Andrea Yi 12:38
We’ll tailor fit to whatever they want. Like Penguin, for example, wanted across the board of post. So that’s obviously more expensive. Many brands don’t have a lot of money, so they will just do an Instagram post I’ll do giveaways on Instagram because they work well there.
If it’s a toy company, giveaways work well. It’s the right product for my audience. We try to take their budget and then we’ll tailor it to what we can offer and just give them my time constraints.
If it’s a budget that’s worth doing a video and editing and all that comes with a video, then we’ll do that. If they have a really small budget, we’ll do a static photo. I’ll do it if it makes sense to work with.
Jillian Leslie 13:17
Got it. Okay. So, let’s go back to then, what are the other ways in which you’re monetizing?
Andrea Yi 13:25
I do affiliate links back to Amazon, which is okay. And then the book will be another way to monetize.
Jillian Leslie 13:33
Show the book. Show the book.
Andrea Yi 13:35
Okay. Here’s my first copy. It’s a 100 easy steam activities. It goes really well with all the activities that we do on the site. It has some of our best ones and then many, many new ones. This will be coming out December 10.
Jillian Leslie 13:51
All right, cool.
Andrea Yi 13:52
I’m very excited for that. And then, my focus I think going forward for the next year is going to be figuring out product and like what can I offer my followers that will serve them well. I’m really trying to figure out what that is at this point.
I’ll be testing some things. Whether it’s like kits to help go with the activities that we’re doing.
Jillian Leslie 14:16
Kind of like Kiwi Crate kind of things?
Andrea Yi 14:19
Yes, but more reusable. Maybe a little science kit that’ll give them all the tools they need to do the experiments. Or an engineering kit. Or a sensory kit. Sensory activities are really big for us. I’m just trying to figure out what should be in that.
Jillian Leslie 14:35
Oh, that’s neat.
Andrea Yi 14:37
That’s what my focus is going to be on. I would say over the next year.
Jillian Leslie 14:42
Got it. Okay. So, when you think social media, what do you think today? Do you think video on Facebook? Where do you start?
Andrea Yi 14:51
I still, when I make a video, post it across all my platforms, but now I write a bigger blog post to go with it.
Jillian Leslie 15:01
On your blog?
Andrea Yi 15:02
Jillian Leslie 15:02
Okay. And with a little SEO?
Andrea Yi 15:05
Jillian Leslie 15:06
It’s so hard.
Andrea Yi 15:07
I need to everything we have to learn.
Jillian Leslie 15:10
I know. I know.
Andrea Yi 15:12
I don’t even feel like I can do three or four pieces of content a week because now I want to write the post and I want to make sure everything is good.
Jillian Leslie 15:19
Right. I get that.
Andrea Yi 15:20
Yeah. So I’m trying but I still try to put the content across all platforms because I think different people are on different platforms and I still want to reach them wherever they’re coming to me from.
Jillian Leslie 15:33
Now, on Instagram for example. Are you doing stories, like behind the scenes? In your feed, is it static images and video? How do you think about Instagram?
Andrea Yi 15:44
I’m still primarily video. I like it. That’s how I like to view things. I tried to do stories. I’m not good at putting myself out there. I need to get better. That’s the challenge to myself.
I’ll be doing more and more of that. But I do do clips of the kids and kind of what we’re doing during the day. If I think it’s a value to people. I don’t try to post things that I don’t think are a value. I always try to keep that in mind as I’m posting.
Jillian Leslie 16:15
Right. I’m totally with you. I don’t really want to watch your kids jumping into the pool unless there’s some sort of cool stem thing in the pool. That they’re thinking about this water displacement, you know, that kind of thing.
Andrea Yi 16:33
Yeah, Exactly. I think people are always looking for ideas of things to do with their kids. But are they meaningful and educational? So that’s what I’m always trying to do.
Jillian Leslie 16:41
And how old are your kids, by the way, just because I didn’t ask.
Andrea Yi 16:44
My youngest is three. And then, I have a… Oh my gosh, seven, almost nine, and a 10 year old.
Jillian Leslie 16:50
Okay. Got it. And they’re still willing participants?
Andrea Yi 16:55
Most of the time. Between the four of them, I can usually get two of them that are…?
Jillian Leslie 17:00
You didn’t like wrangle them?
Andrea Yi 17:01
At the moment. Yes.
Jillian Leslie 17:02
Andrea Yi 17:04
It works. Sometimes I have to capture the moment when one is really interested. Like if my three year old is interested, I’ll try to pull together four or five things and we’ll just film it all at once.
Jillian Leslie 17:13
That’s amazing. Okay. Can you walk through? Because I’m still trying to figure this out. How to go end to end on my phone doing video?
Andrea Yi 17:22
Jillian Leslie 17:24
Explain your process
Andrea Yi 17:25
I have like a little sunroom which I’m sitting in right now. There’s a lot of Windows. Like natural light. I have like my desk which is also I just pull it out and then we film. They’ll stand behind it against the white walls. I make everything as white as possible.
Jillian Leslie 17:39
I love your style, by the way.
Andrea Yi 17:40
Jillian Leslie 17:41
Like pops of color. Like definitely go check her out because not only do you stem, you do like beautiful stem.
Andrea Yi 17:48
Oh, thank you. Yeah, so I just try to make it as clean slate as possible so you can really focus on the activity. And then, if it’s an afternoon we’re getting good sun. I put as much light on as I can. And then, I kind of have activities set up in here.
So if the mood strikes them… because ultimately they just want to play and be kids. I’m not gonna force them to do an activity. So if I see they’re doing something that I know will make a good video, then I’ll kind of get it up here.
And then if we want to do it on video, then we can run up here and do it. And so, I have like a tripod. I just put my phone on it and then film.
Jillian Leslie 18:24
Are you filming which way?
Andrea Yi 18:27
I film in a landscape usually. Unless I know I’m going to make a story out of it, then I’ll sometimes just do a couple clips with the story. And then, I have a little app called video shop.
Jillian Leslie 18:40
Video shop. Okay.
Andrea Yi 18:42
I think I bought it when I first started a couple years ago. I feel like it was 99 cents. It was so cheap. And then I load all the clips on there. And then sometimes when I’m watching TV at night or something, I’ll just edit video.
Jillian Leslie 18:58
Are you putting text in the video? Are you putting caption or anything?
Andrea Yi 19:01
Not usually. Not usually. I’ve started adding volume a little bit to them but many times I have to speed up so I just turn the volume off. I kind of edit the pieces that I think are the best of the videos and then I see where I’m at time wise. And then, I kind of edit.
Jillian Leslie 19:18
And you’re shooting for a minute?
Andrea Yi 19:21
Yeah. Yes. I think that’s the attention span. Now, Facebook has started to let you monetize if you have three minute videos. So, I’m trying to compile.
Like what I’m gonna be working on today is I have a bunch of Halloween videos that I’ve released separately that I’m going to put together and then release as a compilation too. So that way, if I know what’s kind of already done well, I can get this to do well, then it’ll make a little bit of money on Facebook.
Jillian Leslie 19:50
Got it. Are you seeing good returns on video on Facebook?
Andrea Yi 19:55
Not so much. I mean I haven’t done a lot with it yet but… And I know Facebook has fan subscriptions too, which then I haven’t really done that either because I’ve heard it can mess with your reach.
I have really good organic engagement and reach. I just don’t want to mess with it. So I’ve always been on the mindset I’m building the brand and I’m not really worrying about little bits of ad revenue here and there if I can kind of fit it in organically to my mission.
I had ads on my site for a while through AdThrive. And for me, it just wasn’t making enough money to justify kind of all the ads popping up on my site. So I take them down. I think I have one ad in the sidebar, just to keep a little bit of something going. If you click on one of my articles, it’s just a clean, written out instructions.
Jillian Leslie 20:50
It’s beautiful. Yes. Totally. I know.
Andrea Yi 20:53
Yeah. I mean I make so much more on the sponsored content. I just was like, “It’s not worth it to put all the ads on my site.”
Jillian Leslie 20:59
So Interesting. Okay. So now you’ve got video shop, you’ve edited your video. Are you adding a logo? Are you putting your name on it?
Andrea Yi 21:09
I didn’t have a logo for a very long time. I figured out, I just would put… I wanted to watermark my video somehow. So I was like, “I’m just going to put my website in the bottom corner of the video.”
That video shop allowed me to do that. So that’s just what I started doing. It was also kind of went with the clean, minimalist sort of look of the video. I just started doing that. And now, I mean I see a lot of people doing that. So I feel like that was a good thing to do.
Jillian Leslie 21:37
Yeah, don’t you love that when you find out like, “Oh, this is a good thing.”
Andrea Yi 21:41
It makes sense.
Jillian Leslie 21:42
Andrea Yi 21:43
So that’s really what I put in my videos. It also tell people about my website too. And it’s kind of just a clean, little watermark. I just had a logo done. So at the end of my video, now it has this sort of… I forget what it’s called, but it’s a motionized…
Jillian Leslie 22:00
Like an animated kind of logo?
Andrea Yi 22:02
Animated logo at the end. The sort of [unclear22:04] with all these steam images and then it goes into my logo that I just had designed. That’s very recent. Usually, I had at the end just like Raising Dragons, and like this websites and stuff.
Jillian Leslie 22:19
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Okay. Now, I know you said you are a one-woman operation. Are you fully a one woman operation? And I know you have a partner to help you with brands. Do you have anybody else like helping you with social media, or posting for you, or anything?
Andrea Yi 24:30
Not really. I have had someone rewrite some of the articles on my website for SEO purposes but I haven’t seen a lot of like… I know that can take a few months to sort of change but I didn’t see a lot of worth from it yet. So, no. Not really.
Jillian Leslie 24:51
Are you getting a lot of people on Instagram DM-ing you or on Facebook reaching out to you? Are you spending a lot of time connecting with people?
Andrea Yi 25:02
A little. Yeah. A lot of the Instagram people ask me questions and things like that. But I don’t spend a ton of time doing that. I also recently started a Facebook group that’s taking more time than I would like to, but I think it’s going to be worth it in the end. I’m just trying to build.
Also Facebook, this is another change from them. They’re giving more emphasis to groups. I’m finding a lot of people are finding my group before they’re finding my page because it’s coming up in suggested groups. So that is one area that I’m putting a lot of energy into.
I think I have 8000 people in the group now. It’s been something that’s been able to grow pretty quickly. And then, I’ve been collecting emails from just asking the questions.
Before they join the group, I’ll ask like, how they found me, to follow my page too, and then what they’re looking for. And then if they want to get our newsletter, they can put their email in.
Jillian Leslie 25:54
Oh, that’s great.
Andrea Yi 25:55
Yes, I’m kind of getting feedback on what people are looking for, how they found me, and if they want to give their email.
Jillian Leslie 26:01
I love that. Okay. So, in order to join your group, they have to answer these specific questions.
Andrea Yi 26:06
Yeah. I mean they don’t have to.
Jillian Leslie 26:08
But they can still join even if they don’t?
Andrea Yi 26:11
Yeah. Yes. Some people I approve. Some people I don’t. If I think they’re the right fit for the group, then I’ll approve them.
Jillian Leslie 26:19
Right. And are you promoting the group elsewhere? How are you driving people? I know Facebook is recommending it.
Andrea Yi 26:27
Yes. I interact in other groups sometimes. A lot of people that are finding me, they’ll say through my Facebook ad but I’m not advertising it. So I think Facebook is popping up suggestions. Like if you like this group, you’ll like this group. And so, I think that’s how people are finding me a lot.
Jillian Leslie 26:44
Got it. Now, are you putting your videos on YouTube?
Andrea Yi 26:47
Jillian Leslie 26:48
Okay. How is YouTube for you? Are you able to monetize it?
Andrea Yi 26:52
Jillian Leslie 26:52
Okay, so the big thing about YouTube, you know, because I get to interview lots of different experts and they’re all these things about YouTube. Like, we want 10-minute videos and you know, there are certain kind of rules to win with the YouTube algorithm.
Andrea Yi 27:08
Right. No. I have not mastered YouTube at all. I think that my videos actually aren’t the best for YouTube.
Jillian Leslie 27:17
Why do you think that is?
Andrea Yi 27:18
There’s no sound to them. They’re sort of designed for the busy parent. So yeah, I know for YouTube, I feel like I need to do longer format, I need to talk, I need to walk people through it a little bit more.
And I just don’t have the bandwidth right now. YouTube was on my list to focus on for this year and it’s kind of just gotten pushed, because other things have just, you know, come into it.
Jillian Leslie 27:47
Right. Well, I think that you’re smart in that like Facebook is that kind of thing where busy moms are just scrolling through and they want something entertaining and they want something inspiring, but they’re not looking to necessarily go take your video and go do that specific thing.
It’s more like inspiration and entertainment. I think people go to YouTube because they want to fix their toilet. And they want somebody to show them step by step, how to fix your toilet.
Andrea Yi 28:19
Jillian Leslie 28:21
I think those are different. One is more entertainment, like edutainment. And one is more like, we’re going to roll up our sleeves here and get dirty and dig into the toilet. Right?
Andrea Yi 28:34
Right. Yes. There are people doing YouTube like five minute crafts where they’ll show like 20 science experiments, and my kids will watch them all the time. They’ll be like, “We should do that.” They’ll watch it. So I feel like I can crack it if I figure it out.
Jillian Leslie 28:53
Well, also again, you’ve got so much on your plate.
Andrea Yi 28:56
Jillian Leslie 28:57
And I see this all the time which is to figure out what works for you and go toward that. And then if you have some extra bandwidth to try something else, but to just be everywhere and then be nowhere doesn’t make a lot of sense.
And we could all feel so inadequate because, “Well, I might be killing it on Facebook. Well, my YouTube isn’t working.” And so weirdly, we focus on the fact that that’s like a place where somehow we’re not succeeding. Instead of saying, “Oh, my God. Look at all of my big wins elsewhere.”
Andrea Yi 29:31
Right. And you know, Pinterest was always okay for me, but once they put video on then it just went crazy. So I’m always like, “Well, maybe YouTube will change their algorithm.” Because I feel like their algorithm doesn’t help me a lot either.
My videos are short. Even though the view through is like 60% or 70%, I feel like maybe they don’t favor that length of video either because I’m getting good watch through. I’m getting like Good thumbs ups. I get to think that they’re not favoring me.
Jillian Leslie 30:07
When you make the compilations, what goes on YouTube?
Andrea Yi 30:11
Yes. Yeah, definitely.
Jillian Leslie 30:13
I know that 10 minutes is like what they’re looking for.
Andrea Yi 30:17
Jillian Leslie 30:19
That’s just my piece of advice having talked to some YouTubers and experts about it. They want people on the platform for long periods of time.
Andrea Yi 30:28
Jillian Leslie 30:30
How do you find all of these STEM activities? And do you ever get burnt out?
Andrea Yi 30:38
Yes, I do. So, science experiments. There’s many just classic science experiments. The science experiments I’m not making up, you know, like the do yourself lava lamps where we put oil and water and we drop in some food color.
Like those have been around but like they’re new to a lot of people, right. If I see something I’ve never seen before, I’m like, “Great. We’re going to do this.” For a lot of the other activities, we sometimes are just messing around.
We’ll come up with a new art technique. Or we’ll see someone doing something similar and we’ll kind of put our own twist on it. Some things we just make up.
I know we do a lot with sensory bags, which means you take a like a Ziploc bag and you put like hand sanitizer or gel on it. The possibilities are endless what you can do with that. I’ll just make up something for the season. Maybe it’s something for Halloween or something of that nature.
So it’s fun. You get to be creative. You kind of know the tools people have around the house and then it’s just finding new and fun ways to do things with them.
Jillian Leslie 31:47
Okay. And then, what about burnout?
Andrea Yi 31:49
So, burnout. This year I have felt burnt out a little bit with doing the videos but I think it was because I’ve been focusing on writing. I’ve been writing this book and figuring out how to market it.
I’ve just been pulled in a lot of different directions, which didn’t leave me as much time to prioritize the videos. I just got to the point where I was like–.
Jillian Leslie 32:10
“Oh, shoot. I got to make a video.”
Andrea Yi 32:11
Yeah. And then I got to edit it, and I got to write this blog post. Actually, I just chose to scale back to try to do one a week. And then, I even try to batch them. So I’m like shooting a bunch.
I’ve just had to sort of redo the way I do it because I was doing like shoot the video, edit it, post it the next day. And then like shooting another video. So I wasn’t batching.
I think when that was all I was doing, it was okay. But now, I couldn’t keep up that pace now because I’m focusing on other things. My business is just in a different place and I want to focus on other things.
I do feel a little burnout in the video sometimes, but then I feel like if I take a break, then I get like, reinvigorated on it again.
Jillian Leslie 32:54
Do you ever take weeks off or you take weeks off but then like, you’ll continue to post them?
Andrea Yi 33:01
Yeah. I try to space out to one piece of content a week. So if I can film a little ahead of time if I know I have a vacation coming up, that way I can like just kind of schedule everything out. And then, I can take time off or I’m just checking for comments.
I try to check the post so that I can make sure I’m responding if anybody has a question. That’s easy for me. I do find I don’t really go on my personal social media anymore, though. I’m on it all the time.
Jillian Leslie 33:30
Totally. It’s kind of like the manicurist who has the worst nails. Or like the cobbler’s son has the worst shoes. It’s like you just kind of go, “I do this so much that like, I don’t need to do it. It’s not as enjoyable.”
Andrea Yi 33:44
It’s so true. I find I only post if like my son lost his first tooth,you know, it’s like milestones where I’m like, “I don’t want to forget this. I’m gonna like put this out.”
Jillian Leslie 33:54
I totally get it. Can you talk briefly about the book and how that came about?
Andrea Yi 33:58
Yes. I think it was the beginning of 2018. I’m sort of setting goals for myself. I was like, what can I sort of take this to? Because I’d only been in business a year. I’ve seen a lot of growth on social media.
I just goal myself. And like, I think writing a book would be awesome. I know nothing about it. I have no idea where to go. I just put it as a goal for me.
I started talking to friends that were sort of in the industry. I did some more research. I have another friend who’s trying to publish a book too. We would talk all the time and just sort of brainstorm.
And then, I heard about Page 3 Publishing through other influencers in my space. They work with a lot of bloggers and influencers. And then, through my friend who was trying to publish her own children’s book, she brought them up to me.
So I went to their website, and I just submitted my idea to them. I told them about my social following. And then like two months later, maybe a month or two later, they call me back and they’re like, “If you’re still interested, we’re interested.”
I think I had proposed 40 STEAM activities. How about 100? I’m like, “Okay. Sure.” I mean, little did I know that was a lot, but I am really happy with the book now. And they’ve been really great to work with.
They put me on a timeline. It’s very formulaic for them. So they’re like, you have this many months. I think I had four months to write the book and submit the manuscript to them. Then we went back and forth through all the editing. But it has been a long process.
Jillian Leslie 35:34
And did you take all the photos for the experiments?
Andrea Yi 35:37
I did not take these photos because again, I shoot everything with my video. They hired a lot of people. A lot of the bloggers will shoot their own books because they shoot photo. Their blogs have a lot of photos but since mine is so video based, and really my photos are screen grabs from the video, I will have someone else shoot it.
There are a few pictures of my kids in there because after the book came out, I was showing my husband. He’s like, “Where’s our boys?” “We got to get a shot in New Hampshire, and we’re in Philadelphia. So, they’re not in here.”
He’s like, “We should have a few.” So there are a few pictures in here from video activities that we’ve done that just my boys are in it, but for the most part, it was shot in New Hampshire.
Jillian Leslie 36:28
That’s kind of nice, to be honest.
Andrea Yi 36:31
Yeah. It actually was.
Jillian Leslie 36:33
I mean I get it. On one hand, it’s kind of like you have this very strong visual style. Were they able to capture your visual style?
Andrea Yi 36:41
Yes. They worked with me quite a bit too. They showed me the proofs of the first few activities, and then we made some tweaks. I wanted it to have a lighter background. They were very collaborative in that sense, and I’m really happy with the way it came out.
Jillian Leslie 36:57
Got it. Okay. So, if you had a piece of advice for a blogger, who is kind of just starting out or kind of in it, you know, in this kind of like wild west, what would it be? What would you say?
Andrea Yi 37:14
My gosh. I would just say, focus on providing value. What has really served me well, I think, is giving people exactly what they want in exactly the way they want to consume it, and not worrying about monetizing really or driving them somewhere.
Especially when you’re starting to try to grow. That is also to be worried about later you know, and figuring that out later. That was really my like laser focus in the beginning.
Jillian Leslie 37:45
Wait. Are you looking at your videos and going, “Okay. This one killed it. I need to make more videos like this one.”?
Andrea Yi 37:51
Yes, absolutely. Because sometimes I’ll be like, “this one’s going to do amazing” and it totally flops, and then I’ll be like, “this is terrible” and then it’ll go crazy. So, you know, you don’t really know what makes something viral.
Who knows, right? It’s just hitting a nerve. And people are like, into it. So yeah, it’s all about trial and error and just moving forward, right. Like I made content, it was my business. My sole focus was on for almost the first two years.
I just put out a ton of content and I figured out what people wanted and then I will go deeper into that. And yeah, so that’s sort of how I got here today. Now, the good thing about content is you can reuse it.
Unless it’s like very specific to the time but I’m doing kids activities, right. So a lava lamp today is a lava lamp a year from now.
Jillian Leslie 38:43
Right. And Halloween today can look very Halloween last year or next year.
Andrea Yi 38:49
Yeah, exactly. And there’s always new people coming to you too. And then, even the people that have followed you, they’re like, “Oh, right. I forgot.” I mean, you know, you need to be reminded sometimes.
Jillian Leslie 38:59
Okay, Andrea. How can people reach out to you if they have questions or want to connect with you? Where should they go?
Andrea Yi 39:07
Well, I manage all my social media so you can always direct messaged me on Instagram. We’re Raising Dragons for Facebook and Pinterest. And then we’re @raisingdragons for Instagram and Twitter. Although I’m rarely on Twitter.
Or you can email me, email@example.com on the website.
Jillian Leslie 39:31
Well, terrific. Well, I have to say, I thought you were at this for much longer. I am incredibly impressed with what you built. I think you have a very clear philosophy of how to build your audience by serving them with exactly like you said, by figuring out what they want and giving it to them.
Andrea Yi 39:51
Jillian Leslie 39:51
So, I feel like you have a very rich future just by understanding that.
Andrea Yi 39:57
I feel like I have so much to learn still, but you know.
Jillian Leslie 40:01
Are you enjoying the journey?
Andrea Yi 40:03
Yes. So much. I’ve never been entrepreneurial, I would say. I’ve always worked for big companies. And so, this is really my first venture into being an entrepreneur. And I do love making my own decisions, trying new things. My failures are my failures. My successes are my successes. So, I love it.
Jillian Leslie 40:22
Oh, that’s so great. Well, thank you so much for being on the show and doing this video.
Andrea Yi 40:26
Thank you. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.
Jillian Leslie 40:31
I hope you guys liked that episode. I’m just so impressed with what Andrea has been able to build so quickly. And remember, please join my facebook group, the MiloTree Mastermind Group. I’m really trying to build a community there, where we can all learn from each other. And I will see you back here next week.
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