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 begin, I want to invite you to head over to Facebook and join my Facebook group called the MiloTree Mastermind Group.
If you want to be part of a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, and bloggers, please come over and join. I’m in there all the time. I’m doing Facebook Lives.
And for something new, I’m going to have David, my husband, partner, and incredible technologist in there with me. He’s going to answer any technical questions you have about blogging. Like WordPress, or site speed, those kinds of things.
Please email me your questions to Jillian@MiloTree.com and we will be answering them in the Facebook group. So, do go join the Facebook group, MiloTree Mastermind.
Okay. For today’s episode, I have my good friend, KariAnne Wood on the show. She is the blogger behind Thistlewood Farms. She was a previous guest.
Today, we are talking all things sponsored posts. Now, KariAnne works with over 50 brands a year. She has such a unique perspective on working with brands and how to cultivate those relationships.
For KariAnne, it’s all about the win-win. It’s all about being there to serve the brand in the way in which they need it. She’s a master. So without further delay, here is my interview with KariAnne Wood.
KariAnne, welcome back to the show for the second time.
KariAnne Wood 1:49
Thank you so much for having me. I’m so glad to be here.
Jillian Leslie 1:52
We did our first podcast episode talking about you as writer, as a blogger, but you had written a whole host of books. Today though, we’re going to talk about something completely different, which is working with brands.
KariAnne Wood 2:06
Yes, one of my favorite topics honestly.
Jillian Leslie 2:08
Okay. And we just reconnected at a kind of blogger mastermind in Round Top Texas. It was so fun connecting with you again because I feel like I knew you but I didn’t really know you.
I feel like there are these things in the blogging world when you just meet a fellow blogger and you connect, and you know you will be friends for life. KariAnne, I feel that way about you. I trully do.
KariAnne Wood 2:31
Oh, right back at you Jillian. Right back at you.
Jillian Leslie 2:34
And we spent a lot of time talking about enneagram. For people who don’t know, it’s a personality typing test. I’m a six and you are a seven.
You can go look that up. And in fact, I was thinking of doing a whole podcast episode about enneagram because I think it’s so powerful.
KariAnne Wood 2:52
Oh, you should. If people don’t know it, they should immediately run out and get the book and read up because it is probably one of the best life tools that you can have to help figure other people out and how you kind of fit in with other people.
Jillian Leslie 3:04
Yes. If you want to Google it right now, it’s E-N-N-E-A-G-R-A-M. And then, I’ll do a separate podcast where we just talk about the Enneagram because for me, it has been like the best tool for my marriage.
KariAnne Wood 3:17
Yes, 100%. I agree, 100%.
Jillian Leslie 3:20
Okay. So let’s dive in because KariAnne, you did a whole session about working with brands. How many sponsored posts would you say you do a year?
KariAnne Wood 3:31
So, sponsored posts I’m not sure the exact number. This year we’re on target to work with more but last year we worked with 58 different brands on the blog in a variety of ways.
That doesn’t always mean sponsored posts. There are other ways of working with brands that are equally as successful. It’s just finding out what the best fit for that brand is.
Jillian Leslie 3:52
Right. Okay. And KariAnne, would you call yourself an interior design blogger or DIY blogger?
KariAnne Wood 4:03
Gosh. I’m kind of a storyteller/find-stuff-by-the-side-of-the-road/paint-your-dining-room-blue type of blogger.
Jillian Leslie 4:13
Yes, exactly. You can see her wall which she has painted blue, which we were talking about before we pressed record. Yes, okay.
So you’re typical brand might be, say like a paint company, or a furniture manufacturer, or a floor manufacturer. Would you say that’s kind of what your thought is?
KariAnne Wood 4:33
I work with all different spectrums. I work with Sherwin-Williams. I just worked with them on the color of the year which is naval. Beautiful, beautiful naval. Amazing blue if anyone’s looking for a blue.
I’m also a brand ambassador for HomeTalk, which is an online kind of community for different DIYers. I am a brand ambassador for Jeffrey Court, which is like a tiling company.
I’m a brand ambassador for Lamps Plus, which is an online furniture company. They also have stores nationwide. So yeah, they kind of runs the gamut, but most of them are all tied back to home decor.
Jillian Leslie 5:09
Got it. Okay. So what I was really impressed with is the way that you approach brands, the way you work with your brands, the way you continue to nurture the relationship even after the first project is done.
So could you tell us about your philosophy because I think it is so refreshing.
KariAnne Wood 5:29
First of all, let’s back up for just one tiny sec, because I think there’s an important concept. A lot of times I have bloggers asked me, “Well, when is the right time to start working with brands?”
I always say to them, you have something so amazingly valuable in your hands right now. You have a target audience that is the exact fit.
So if you’re a home decor blogger, you have a target audience that is the exact fit for a home decor company. It’s almost like taking an arrow and aiming it at the heart of that market.
Jillian Leslie 6:03
Their perfect customer.
KariAnne Wood 6:05
Exactly. The people that they are trying to reach. So for example, if you do a radio ad, you have a myriad of different people in the audience.
If you do a television ad, you know, even if you’re on HD TV, or even a home decor network, chances are that you’re going to have some people that are watching that maybe they just flip through the channels or whatever.
But in a blog, people are coming to that blog for the specific purpose of learning more about home decor. I think that is such a valuable commodity and you don’t want to lose sight of that when you’re talking to these brands.
I always tell people this and I mean it from the bottom my heart. If I had 1000 loyal readers. I mean I’ve many more than that but if I only had 1000 loyal readers, I could rule the world.
Jillian Leslie 6:51
I love that. I love that. Go ahead.
KariAnne Wood 6:53
Because at the end of the day, we are more than bloggers. We are actually influencers and we are here to influence other people’s buying decisions. And that’s what the marketable part of it is.
It’s not really so much how many numbers you have or how big your blog is. It’s more the quality of your projects that you have. It’s more about, can you translate talking about a brand and influencing others’ buying decisions?
I think that’s the nut. Like in this conversation, that’s really where our foundation is.
Jillian Leslie 7:26
Wouldn’t you really say it is your relationship with your audience? That’s what you’re selling. Yes, you do beautiful projects and all that stuff, but it’s KariAnne.
People know who you are. People trust what you say. People want to emulate what you do. Therefore, you know what, you’re the best friend who says, “Go”.
We all want those shortcuts. We all want somebody to go, “Go buy this.” And you’re that person to these people.
KariAnne Wood 7:54
Well, and I’m so extraordinarily blessed, extraordinarily blessed in that I have literally the most amazing readers on the planet. I’m not kidding you. We have been friends for seven years now.
Some people have been reading faithfully from the first time I put a blog post up and they are still reading. Every time I meet someone that reads my blog, we are instantly BFFs because actually we all like kind of the same stuff.
We like decor. We like yard sales. We like bargain finds. We like vavy paint. We like just talking about our houses. But we also love our families and we love talking about just everyday things in this world.
And this amazing, incredible group, this community, it’s a responsibility that I take very very seriously. So I don’t ever work with a brand if I don’t feel like it’s a fit for the audience or I don’t feel like this could benefit the audience. I don’t work with that.
Jillian Leslie 8:49
Right. So that they trust you. If you’re going to stand behind that navy wall and say buy this, you mean that.
KariAnne Wood 8:56
Jillian Leslie 8:58
Okay. So now you’ve got your community. And even for smaller bloggers to recognize, you’ve got something really special that a brand wants.
KariAnne Wood 9:07
Yes, 100%. So now the next step is you’re like, “Well, how do you work with brands?” And I think that there are many different ways that you can start that relationship. You can connect with them on social media.
When I very first started, I left Hagen, which is a blogging conference. I left there and I was not working with any brands at the time. I thought, “Okay. I am ready to step it up. I’m ready to monetize this thing.”
Although I didn’t even know the word monetize, right. That’s a fancy word that came later, but I am ready to make some money. And so, I targeted five brands that I really want to work with, that I thought were amazing.
I kind of went after those brands like the football player that wanted to ask you to homecoming. I hang out by their locker after the game. I want to make sure that they knew what the moms were you know.
I casually would work into conversation when the football game was. I courted them is a good way of saying that. And so, I reached out to them on social media. I made sure to educate myself on those brands.
Jillian Leslie 10:13
This is what I love. Okay, yes.
KariAnne Wood 10:17
In other words, if I want to work with them, wouldn’t I want to know about them? So I researched what their newest products were. I researched what their most important products were.
I researched campaigns that they had done in the past and things that I thought really would resonate with my readers. There was like this honeymoon period where I just reached out to them and they would kind of share me on social media back and forth.
And then, I decided I was going to pitch them. I pitched after the kind of this period of really getting to know them better. I pitched five of them. Out of the five, how many do you think worked with me?
Jillian Leslie 10:52
KariAnne Wood 10:53
Jillian Leslie 10:55
KariAnne Wood 10:55
Jillian Leslie 10:57
Okay. So this is at Hagen, you did this.
KariAnne Wood 10:59
Basically, well, after I came home from Hagen.
Jillian Leslie 11:01
Okay. So you met these brands in person at a conference, which is why I always say do go to conferences.
KariAnne Wood 11:07
Jillian Leslie 11:08
You do. Because you meet people like other bloggers, you hear what’s going on, and you get your face in front of brands. And you get people’s business cards because then you have their direct email.
You went home, and you said, “Okay. I’m going to now research this brand.” And then what? You went back to the brand, and what did you say?
KariAnne Wood 11:27
So I pitched them. I pitched five of them. Always when you’re pitching brands, this is what I say. I say lead with about them. Everybody wants to know about them.
So instead of saying, “Hi! I am KariAnne, and I have this many page views on doing this, and blah, blah, and how great I have done this.” I made it all about them.
So I say, “Hello.” And one of the most amazing brands that I first reached out to was a brand called FrogTape. And I still work with them to this day. They’re an incredible, amazing brand. So all these years later, I’m still working with them.
I reached out to them and I demonstrated knowledge like FrogTape is amazing because it has peel off. Like there’s that perfect paint line. And I knew that they had different types of tapes. It wasn’t just one type of frog tape.
There was delicate surfaces tape, and there’s all these different types of frog tape. I knew what they had done in marketing in the past. I demonstrated all of that in this pitch letter.
And then I closed the pitch letter with saying, by the way, I had this amazing… all of my social media. Like all of my Facebook and Pinterest, which at the time it was a small little number.
I think maybe it was like maybe 3000 everybody all-in. Pinterest, Facebook. Well, Instagram wasn’t even around then. And it was the blog and my email list. Everything I could add to that.
I said I have 3000 loyal followers and they would like to hear more about your product. And then, I pitch them a very specific idea because a lot of times people write pitch letters and the pitch letter say something like, “Hey, it would be great to work with you.”
Jillian Leslie 12:57
KariAnne Wood 12:58
What does that mean? They don’t have a lot of time to waste in their day. Everyone’s very busy. And so just a random email like, “I’d like to work with.” No, it was a very specific project. I demonstrate knowledge.
Like I saw that you did this project with another blogger. And I think this is a great way to expand it. And I pitched them.
Actually the project that I pitched them was taping off your front porch steps to make it look like a pho runner, kind of going down your concrete porch, which met all of the criteria that they were trying to promote with their brand.
I used the delicate surfaces so you could really see the individual. It worked very, very well on the steps. It was an incredible thing. And the project went viral. And then, I worked very very hard to make the project go viral.
Along the way I helped to educate them like, “Oh my gosh, this project’s going viral. Oh my gosh, more people are pinning it.” I kept them up to date. So we have the time period of the post. I didn’t just post and walk away.
Jillian Leslie 13:54
Now, okay, so you post and did you think to yourself, I think this could go viral or it started to go viral. Did you put money behind promoting it on Facebook?
KariAnne Wood 14:03
I didn’t put any money. Although if I was brilliant I should have but I was not that smart at the time. Again, I didn’t even know the word monetize. What I did was I just kept referring to it in the post. So I’d say like, “I love clever projects.”
Like in a new post, I’d say, “I really love clever projects.” And I would link back to that post. Like, I just kept promoting it, and I would repin it and I pinned it to group boards.
If the project took steam and it created this kind of buzz around this project. And then it got picked up and was on other blogs.
And every time it was on another blog, I would send them, “Hey, by the way, this product just got picked up and it’s on another blog now.” Or, “So and so picks it up. It’s on her Facebook page.” I worked as my own little mini-PR.
Jillian Leslie 14:42
Yes, that’s what I was going to say which is what’s so brilliant about what you’re saying is you’re making the person at the PR company. Because remember most brands have a PR company.
Your job is to make that PR associate, you know kind of that lower Level PR person who’s doing the grunt work, who’s like interacting with you finding, you know, all that stuff, you want to make them look good.
So as soon as you send that email saying, “Oh my God, this is going viral.” You better believe that email is being forwarded to that PR person’s boss, and hopefully being forwarded to their boss and then being forwarded to the brand. Because you’re just like laying it up for that?
KariAnne Wood 15:25
You should never lose sight of the fact that you have different, for lack of a better term, bosses in this. So number one, you have your audience. You want to make sure that the project is actually a value.
Even if it wasn’t a sponsored post that they would see value in it, because if there’s value in the post, you’re not just doing it for a brand. That never works.
You provide value to your readers. And then, you’re also providing value to that PR company, which then in turn demonstrate how you can provide value to the brand. And then, everybody wins. Everybody wins.
And then the post goes viral and gets you all picky so it’s like the cyclical thing that just. It’s just a win win. But I think the biggest tip I could give is that no one is going to tell the brand.
In other words, the brand might have missed that it was on those blogs or the brand might have missed that it was featured over on these websites, or the brand might have missed that it got pinned so many times on Pinterest.
It’s your job as an influencer and as the owner of your own small company to let the brand know about that because then you kind of proved your worth. You have more straight credit.
Next time when you want to go back and pitch them again, they’re usually ears open because you’ve demonstrated that you’re successful at what you do.
Jillian Leslie 16:40
Now, how do you then turn that one off post or that one off assignment, let’s say, into continual work? Because every time you work with a new brand, there’s this like a new relationship and you have to kind of invest in it.
How do you build that goodwill? So that brand is saying, “Hey KariAnne, we want to work with you.”
KariAnne Wood 17:01
I think there’s a couple things. I think number one, I know this is going to be Hello, Captain Obvious, but you actually need to answer your emails. Bloggers are notorious for being very poor communicator.
Sometimes a brand will email them and they don’t respond immediately. I have a reputation that if you email me, it’s pretty much within an hour or two that I’m going to email you back with a response.
Brands love that because they’re on deadlines and they want to know that they can count on you because when they book you, they’re actually taking a leap of faith that you can actually come through and do the project for them.
Jillian Leslie 17:38
Totally. And by the way, you’re signaling to the brand, “I’m responsible. I’m responsive. I’m going to get back to you. I’m not going to flake on this.”
KariAnne Wood 17:45
And you’re signaling to them that you’re respecting them and that you’re appreciative of this opportunity. And so, typically, I can pretty much tell now that I’ve done this for a while, if a brand is going to kind of be a one off.
Sometimes that is what it is and you just have to accept that this is kind of a one off, and I charge accordingly. So if it’s just a one off without potential for a future relationship, of course, I’m going to charge that brand more.
It’s just like anything. Like a bulk discount, you know. The more blog posts you book then the less cost there is.
Jillian Leslie 18:21
KariAnne Wood 18:22
You have to kind of size it up because the more you start working with brands, you don’t want to waste too much time if you know that that brand, there’s no potential.
But if I sense that there’s potential for that brand, and I sense that, “Oh my gosh, there is like amazing opportunity here.” Then I follow up with them. I pitched them sometimes a series.
Like, “Okay, let’s do a series of different things.” I’ll say, “Let’s do an entire campaign that involves like a Pinterest campaign, that involves a Facebook campaign, an Instagram campaign, as well as a blog campaign.”
So I look at it from a different perspective rather than just only utilizing the blog. I expand and work out with all of my social to help them promote their products.
Jillian Leslie 19:03
Are brands coming to you today saying, I just want Instagram?
KariAnne Wood 19:08
There are a few brands that do that. I think if I was only Instagram, or probably the majority of my brands would only be interested in Instagram campaign, I have seen an uptick for sure in that more brands are interested in the whole Instagram component that wasn’t present so many years ago.
I think the key about Instagram is it’s such an engaged community. Especially if you have the swipe up on your Instagram. Brands love that.
They see the immediate, you know, you’re swiping up, you can see how many times people swipe up and it’s an immediate metric of what’s going on with their campaign.
Whereas a blogging campaign, a little bit. You can definitely see how many page views. You can send them how many unique visitors you had, you know all of that, but Instagram is so engaged.
Jillian Leslie 20:00
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You do not have a rate card that you send brands. That is amazing because everybody that I think thinks, “I gotta put together a rate card.” You know, which is like these are my metrics. It all looks really pretty. It’s a beautiful PDF. It talks about your pricing. And then, you’re always updating it. What do you do?
KariAnne Wood 22:20
I think I don’t have a rate card because I think that that’s a close to a conversation. I think that, you know, a brand contacts me and they say, “Do you have a rate card?”
Let’s follow the logic. If I send them a rate card, and they look at the rate card and they’re not happy with the rate card, or they’re like, “Oh, this wasn’t what we were looking for.” Then, the conversation ends.
I feel like I bring so much more to the table than a rate card. I mean I have great numbers. I have great brands that I’ve worked with before. I stand behind my blog. I would put my blog up with anyone’s blog. I believe in it. It’s not that I don’t have a rate card because I’m ashamed of it.
Jillian Leslie 22:58
Or because you’re lazy to put it together.
KariAnne Wood 23:01
No, no, no, no. I do it because I want to have a conversation with the brand.
The key is every brand has a different metric that they’re looking for from their campaigns. For example, some brands are only looking for page views to their website. Some brands are only looking for an amazing, beautiful project that they could put on their social media.
Some brands are only looking for photography that they could use and put into, oh, I don’t know, different things.
Jillian Leslie 23:32
Their work potions and things, right.
KariAnne Wood 23:34
Promotions that they have. Every brand, their metrics that they’re looking for are complete.
Sometimes they just want brand awareness. Sometimes they want to send people to their Instagram. Sometimes they want to get people to sign up for their newsletter. Every metric is different.
And so, sending them a rate card doesn’t really address that metric. When I talk to a brand, my first question always is what would make this a successful campaign for you?
Jillian Leslie 24:00
Love that. Love that. Love it. A brand says to you, “Hey, we’ve got this possibility. We want to work with you. Send us your rate card.” And you email back and what does it say?
KariAnne Wood 24:13
And I say, “Oh my gosh, I’m so excited and full of joy.” I immediately demonstrate knowledge of something. I go run over their website and I say, “Oh my gosh, I love your new shag carpeting that you just got in. I think it’s incredible. Oh my gosh, we’re kind of a lot of buzz about this product. It’s amazing.”
You know, whatever it is, I immediately demonstrate knowledge and say, I would love to put together a whole campaign for you. What are your metrics? What are you looking for? And by the way, do you have time to hop on a quick phone call?
Jillian Leslie 24:44
Okay, so you’re not even saying, “This is how big I am.” Or, “Let me tell you about me.” You’re not there yet?
KariAnne Wood 24:50
No. If they ask for it specifically, I mean I have my numbers. So I have a page with numbers on it. Mostly, I do that for straight credit. Like, okay.
Because sometimes I don’t want them to think that I’m not sharing numbers because I’m embarrassed. I’m not sharing numbers because I don’t really want that to be part of the conversation.
Jillian Leslie 25:08
So is that like a link though?
KariAnne Wood 25:09
Jillian Leslie 25:10
Would you put that into that first email?
KariAnne Wood 25:13
Only if they pressed me.
Jillian Leslie 25:14
Okay. Otherwise, no.
KariAnne Wood 25:16
I rather not do it. Unless they pressed me for it. Unless they say, “No, we’re really not interested in all this fancy metric talk that you’re going to.” I mean that’s what I lead with. I lead with more about them. I lean more about what their metrics are and less about me.
I cannot stress this enough. I know I sound like a broken record but I have been on campaigns with people that had 2 million page views. I have sent them more traffic with my page views that I have because the readers that I have are engaged and they are sincerely interested and I have their trust.
And so, that is so much more marketable than page view. Sometimes bloggers fall back on, especially bigger bloggers, fall back on the page view as if that’s going to solve everything. But I feel like you’re only letting the brand down then.
Jillian Leslie 26:07
KariAnne Wood 26:09
If you are promoting aproduct that your readers are not going to be interested, you’re doing a disservice to that brand. Well, I think that’s why it’s important. And I have walked away from campaigns.
If they’ve said to me, I mean I can’t think of something but if they said, “Well, we really want you to do this, or we really want you to do this.” I can’t think of a specific example. But I’m like, “Oh, my readers are not going to go for that. They’re not gonna be up for that.” And I have literally walked away.
Or if it’s a product that is not going to be a fit, then I kind of walk away because it’s low hanging fruit. There’s so many more things to be achieved from your blog that are not that low hanging fruit.
I’m not here. I’m here for tomorrow and the day after that, and the day after that. I’m not just here for what’s going on today.
Jillian Leslie 26:50
I love that. I love that. Okay, so then now you’ve gone back and forth and you’ve come up with, we want you know this mini story posts, and like we want a blog posts and this many story posts, story segments and like, this many posts in your feed, and a Pinterest pin and whatever.
And you’ve agreed to that, and then you deliver. And then they’re happy. And then how do you keep that going? Like, how quickly are you getting back to them and like pitching them new ideas and stuff like that?
KariAnne Wood 27:23
Let’s say we agree on everything in the blog post. The blog post goes live, and social media all goes live. After about two weeks, I typically present them with a report on all the numbers and what everything looks like.
And I said, “Let me circle back with you in about a month.” We’ll just see how everything’s going. Then I kind of find a final wrap up call or wrap up email with them usually about 30 days out.
At that point, when I have proven the successful campaign and the successful metrics and I have met what they were looking for. I’m sure in that report to address the metrics that they specifically were highlighting.
And then I go back and I typically then will do an ask for another campaign. I usually don’t try to pitch brand ambassador or doing something like that until I’ve done about two or three campaigns.
I don’t go straight from one off to a brand ambassador, but I for sure I never let the conversation close without pitching something else. Because I’ll say, “Hey, would you guys have any follow up plans?”
And I always have an idea. I always lead. I don’t just pitch and say, “Hey, it’d be fun to work together again.” I always lead with a specific pitch like, “By the way, we’re working on our bedroom upstairs and we’re going to be painting on the plywood stuff floor. Does this seem like something you want to get behind? Because this will be an amazing project? I know it’s going to do really well on Pinterest. This seem like something you could get on board with?”
And I would say on that statement? I’d say I probably have 75% of them. If it’s been a successful campaign with metrics that have been proven, I’d say about 75% typically rebook.
They don’t rebook at that moment, but they said yes. And I put in a particular file and contact them whenever the next time that we want to work together.
Jillian Leslie 29:08
That’s amazing. Okay. Now how do you do this though? I know you work with your husband. I work with my husband. If you are working with 50 brands in a year, the one thing about sponsored content is it’s harder to scale because you’re now faced with a new project.
Like every single time, you’re starting at the bottom of the hill and having to climb up the hill. How do you think about ways that you can scale that to make it easier for you so you’re not always back at square one? Or maybe you are back at square one.
KariAnne Wood 29:41
No. I think the easiest thing sometimes is to batch it. So for example, if you have a room and the room has different elements in it and different projects in it, then… I’ll give you a perfect example of this.
So I have a fence that’s in the backyard that needed painting. Let’s talk through the elements. For that I would maybe work with a potential sponsor on the paint that we would use for the fence. I would maybe work with a potential sponsor on maybe the application of how we were applying the paint to the fence.
Jillian Leslie 30:12
Do you mean like brushes or something like that?
KariAnne Wood 30:14
Yes, something like that. Or like a paint sprayer or something like that. I could also work with a hardware company on how to attach hardware to my gate, or something like that.
I could work with a potential, like outdoor lawn equipment to showcase like doing the bar beds around the newly painted vents.
We look at it from that perspective. I’m not saying all of them would go for the same project. But a lot of times, it’s easier. And readers love it when you show step by steps along the way.
So you’re like, “Oh my gosh, I painted my fence. Oh my gosh, here’s how I’m painting my fence. Oh my gosh, here’s how I’m attaching hardware to it. Oh, now here’s my finished painted fence with beautiful landscaping.”
Like it’s almost like building and people go, “Oh, I love that.” And every time when you’re linking old posts to each other, Google’s like loving you, because you’re…
Jillian Leslie 31:01
Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes.
KariAnne Wood 31:04
And one of the best examples of this is when I painted my concrete front porch. Well, it’s a brick. But the top part is concrete and the bottom is brick. And I painted that. I was going to do it anyway.
Like most of my projects I do, I’m already going to do the projects because I’m by nature, a DIYer. I’ve been doing projects for my whole life.
Jillian Leslie 31:27
Now you can get paid for it. Yes, totally.
KariAnne Wood 31:29
It’s not like I was sitting at my house not doing any projects. And I go, “Gosh, I’m going to do some projects for the blog.” No. I’m like, my whole life. Like I finish one, I’m doing another. I’m doing another. I’m doing another.
And so, now we’re about to start building a garage in the backyard back here. I just think life is boring if you don’t have a good DIY project going, which I don’t know, some people might not like that but I’m all about. I always have a project and I’m always figuring out how to fit a brand typically into that project.
Jillian Leslie 32:01
I love that. Okay. And brands are cool with this. Like, if you say, “I’m doing this whole thing.” Do they know that you’re also doing the hardware with another brand or something like that? I mean, I know you’ll do that one post for like the paint.
KariAnne Wood 32:15
Yes, it depends on the timeframe. I mean, if I do them all within, like, you know, couple weeks of each other, I would always disclose to other brands like, “Hey, I’m working.”
But if they’re kind of disjointed, like if I’m doing this one post, I probably wouldn’t call up one company and say, “Oh, by the way, I’m using this you know.” It’s part of my house. It’s my environment. So you know, I definitely might reference it in the post but I probably would not call them and let them know.
The one thing about brands is I try to never work with the same brand. I had been all Sherwin Williams before I started the blog. I love Sherwin Williams. I think they are the best paint on the planet but I don’t work with another paint brand.
I don’t confuse people because if I’m all Sherwin Williams why would I be all about another paint company another day? I’m all in on FrogTape. I’m not in on their competitors. I try not to mix up. If I go with one mattress, I try to stay with that mattress.
I go with one appliance company, I try to stay. I pretty much find a brand that I like, and I continue to work with them. I think the confusing part comes in when you mix the different… And a lot of brands have non compete clauses that you have to sign in their contracts and you can’t do it anyway.
I just think it’s good business practice because I am all in on Sherwin Williams and I literally, with painting rooms in, you know 2000,before I even wrote a blog. All Sherwin Williams.
One of my party tricks is I would go to a party and I would like… People say, “What’s a good packing idea?” Show my sandbar. What’s good and right?
Jillian Leslie 33:55
Totally. That is great. What is really, I think super cool about how you approach your business is, it is so intentional. You will step back. You will assess the brands and look at what they’re working on and you will align yourself organically, authentically with them.
You will think about your house in terms of projects, and how could you work with multiple brands on this one project. There’s so much intention and you’re not reactive. You are proactive in everything you’re doing with brands.
And then, can you talk about your newsletter because I think that’s brilliant too, which is how you structure your newsletter so that these sponsored posts are going live in your newsletter but they get like two hits.
KariAnne Wood 34:43
Yes. Okay. That’s actually a great tip.
Jillian Leslie 34:47
And you said how many newsletters a week?
KariAnne Wood 34:49
I send five newsletters a week. And so, I send the first newsletter when the project goes live on the blog. I send it at the top. I send it to the project with probably just a snippet. I usually typically try to provide before pictures because people are much more likely to click.
They love a before picture. And so that goes too on Instagram stories as well. Anything that’s kind of the before people are like, Oh my gosh, like I…
Jillian Leslie 35:19
You’re not hiding the after.
KariAnne Wood 35:21
Yes. So I’ll show the before with a snippet of whatever the blog post is, which typically is very conversational. My blog is very conversational. And then I’ll say to see the rest of the project, click here.
And then right below that is a post from earlier in the week. Let’s say I’m doing a paint post. The post below that will be like something else from the blog that week. But then below that there’s two other paint post.
Especially if I work with that brand, I’ll put two old posts for that brand in there so that basically three of the posts in that one newsletter are all devoted to that brand.
Then the next day, I bumped that brand’s post down to just the picture with a link. And then I put whatever the current content is. So the brand is basically being sent out in a newsletter four to five times for that one project. And again, that’s a value to them but I go back to this, they don’t know it’s a value so I demonstrate it to them.
Jillian Leslie 36:18
You then forward those newsletters to them and go, “Hey, check it out. You’re in my newsletter today.” The next day, you know, “I love your project so much. I wanted to feature it again. Here, take a look. It’s in my newsletter again.”
KariAnne Wood 36:31
Yes, another thing along the lines of newsletter. So I am super blessing that I get these amazing comments on the blog like people… I mean, I love them. They are the cutest and the best. I’m always emailing back like, “You’re the greatest.”
They’re like, “No, you’re the greatest.” We’re great together. We are the greatest people together. Especially if someone is highly complimentary of the blog, I always forward those comments to the brand.
Oh my gosh, readers look at that. I’ve gotten over 100 comments on this post. In my report, a lot of times, sometimes if it’s super clever, I will forward that immediately because I just think it’s so cute. My comments come in email so it’s just a five second clip to just send it to them.
But in my report that I give them, I also take those comments, just the best ones that are in there, maybe four or five of them, because again, they’re sending this to their boss. And so there’s no better way to demonstrate that you’re influencing someone’s buying decision than by having them actually leave a comment on a post.
Jillian Leslie 37:32
Oh, totally. Yeah.
KariAnne Wood 37:33
So for example, for this dining room that I did, I think there was over 120 comments on this dining room. People were like, “Oh my gosh, KariAnne, how did you do this? What goes with naval? What paint colors would you recommend? What was your finish?” And you know, all these.
Well, of course, I forwarded them, you know. And sometimes the readers will answer each other. It’s almost like a forum. They’ll go and answer each other because they know each other, and they’ll chat it up in the comments which then the brand loves that too.
Jillian Leslie 38:00
Oh, my God. Okay, KariAnne. And then, will one other thing you shared is, if you’re, let’s say on Instagram, and you’re seeing that a brand is working with a bunch of people in your space, that might give you the idea that that brand is in the process of reaching out to bloggers, and that’s a good signal.
KariAnne Wood 38:23
Yeah, for sure. I think that’s part of just being part of our community. I mean I think we are immersed in this blogging community, in this Instagram community. I mean I’m a seven remember. For those of you who don’t know, enthusiasts.
Jillian Leslie 38:39
Exactly, so you’re out there? Yes, totally.
KariAnne Wood 38:41
I mean I never met probably another blogger, another Instagramer that I did not absolutely adore. I am very present, I think, on both of those platforms. And so, just in my travels, sometimes I’ll notice, “Oh, someone else is working with this company.” And I’m like, “Wait.”
And so, I’ll contact that brand and say, “By the way, I have this amazing project. I’d love to work together.” And the brand will say, “Oh my gosh, you’re perfect timing.” And I’m like, “I know right?”
Jillian Leslie 39:08
Exactly. But I think again, that’s so strategic. And I am a big believer like you, which is we’re not in competition with the people in our space, because we all do it differently. There is room. And maybe that brand is, you know, their budgets done. Who knows?
But maybe because you’ve now looked at that brand and you see what they’re looking for, you can serve up to them how to continue their work with bloggers. You can build on top of what other bloggers have done.
KariAnne Wood 39:40
100%. Another tip, speaking of Instagram. A lot of times I’ll get even a private message like months later, and someone will say to me, “Remember when you get that project” And we’ll use the dining room. “Remember when you did that project where you painted the dining room? What color did you use?”
Well, I respond, “Of course, Sherwin Williams navel. And then I screenshot that and send it to Sherwin Williams and say, “Oh my gosh, it’s six months later and the color is still living large.” So I think that sometimes it’s just kind of reversing your thoughts into like, how can you prove your street credit to the brand. People probably have stuff like this all the time.
Jillian Leslie 40:24
Yes. It goes by and they don’t think about circling back because again it’s you going, “Hey guys, KariAnne here. Hey guys, KariAnne.” But with value. Not KariAnne is needy, KariAnne needs a paycheck. It’s KariAnne helping the brand. KariAnne helping your brand.
KariAnne Wood 40:48
I think if there’s one thing that I could, you know, really communicate to brands and communicate to bloggers about working with brands is you are lucky to be working with that brand, but that brand is also extraordinarily lucky to be working with you. You’re amazing.
And the things that you are bringing to the table and the things that you are bringing to the brand goes back to that very first conversation that we had on this podcast, which is that arrow straight to the heart of their market. Never undervalue that.
Never let yourself feel small. Know your worth when you are talking to a brand because you, my friend are amazing, you’re incredible. And just because you don’t have XYZ numbers and you don’t have this, that in no way diminishes your ability to communicate the benefits of this product to your readers.
You have to communicate that you have adequately demonstrated the benefits of the product to your readers to that brand. That might be a private message to them. That might be an email back, you know.
I mean, I remember when I was very first starting out. Anytime I emailed anyone, I mean the poor brand. I was like, “Look, now I’m answering another email for you.” Then, another email, another email.
It’s probably too much infairness for that sweet little brand but what I was trying to do was just demonstrate. Like, “Look, I’m here speaking on your behalf and telling people how increrdible you are.” Let’s not diminish that. You know what I’m saying?
And so, I think that’s so important that we lose sight of that. Sometimes people just say, “Oh well, there’s a brand and they’re paying and I’m working that and that.”
And I’m like, “Oh my gosh, first of all, treat that with respect and honor. And your readers will honor you. And the brand will honor you back.”
Jillian Leslie 42:38
Okay. Now, let’s talk pricing. Because again, this is I’m sure what everybody is thinking. I’m not as big as you. I have that targeted audience. I have that arrow, you know, boom. But it’s when you were starting out and you could reach 3000 people or whatever, but how do you make this work for you so you’re not doing slave labor?
When you figure out how much you’re getting paid per hour, it’s not $5 and 90 cents. How do you get them to say yes to what you think you’re worth, which based on your numbers might not exactly be something where they want to step up and pay you? How do you think about that?
KariAnne Wood 43:19
Okay, so I think that you kind of have a base rate when you get started. I think that the best tip I can give anyone is don’t underpriced yourself. So let’s say that you have, we’ll just start with 50,000 page views. Let’s say you have 50,000 page views.
We’re only using page views here as a kind of a metric to determine pricing. There’s other things that can affect like for example, if you have 50,000 pages, but you have a huge following or a huge Facebook following that would affect you.
So I’m just going to take this in isolation as if I’m a blogger with only 50,000 page views. And my other social media is very small, okay. Because there’s so many things that go in. And we could have a full on podcast on just how to price yourself correctly.
So let’s say you have 50,000 page views and you think, “Oh my gosh. I want to come in. I think I should probably get $100.” And I would be like, “No. You should never do anything for $100 because $100 or even $250.” That can come to me as you’re not valuing yourself.
They say that you’re supposed to do for every 10,000 page views you do $100. Okay? Which you can quickly price yourself out of the market at that. Let’s say you have 600,000 page views, and now you’re, I don’t know, that’s a lot of money. I don’t know.
Jillian Leslie 44:38
Yes, maybe $6,000. Yes.
KariAnne Wood 44:41
Okay. I’m just saying I think that. If I was in that range, I’ll probably start at about $500. And then, probably about 100,000, I would go to about 1000 page views. Now you can always upsell for different…
Jillian Leslie 44:58
You mean you’d go for $1,000 for 100,000 page views.
KariAnne Wood 45:01
400,000 page views goes for 1000. For every 10,000 pages you have $100. That’s a good metric to stick with. That being said, a lot of times that can be your base right. Now, you can upsell.
For example, let’s say you have a huge Instagram following. Well then you would need to take that into account. And you can almost create treat in Instagram. Negotiation a little bit separately.
Like, “By the way, if you want me to do an Instagram shout out, that would be X amount of dollars.” Or if you want to be in my Instagram story, it’d be X amount of dollars. So get your base and you can go there depending on what social media you add in.
Jillian Leslie 45:46
Sorry. I was gonna say, what we do for Catch My Party is we give you like, “Hey, we’ll split it up like that.” But then we’ll say, “Oh, but if you want all of this, look at the deal you’re getting.”
It’s like, “Oh, My God.” I could do like a one off Instagram. Or if I do a blog post and an Instagram and Pinterest pin and a story and whatever, it’s like, “Whoa, what value?”
KariAnne Wood 46:11
Yes. And I also think too don’t underestimate the power of high res photos either. I mean you want to make sure that you negotiate those assets in and make sure that you have all that written into your contract because a lot of times what happens is the brand sees what you’re doing and they’re like, “Oh my gosh, I want to use this in an advertising or something.” So make sure you have all of that built into.
Jillian Leslie 46:32
How much do you charge would you say for high res photos? And then they can use them in perpetuity?
KariAnne Wood 46:38
No, I don’t use them in perpetuity. I mean very rarely. I give them kind of the rights to a one time use for them to use on their social or whatever. They come back to me six months later go, “Oh, by the way, now we’re doing the magazine campaign.”
No, no, no. You don’t get the same. That’s a whole different animal than social. So I tend to negotiate based on… but I charge 250 for one high res photo. That’s to use on your social in conjunction with this campaign, not just randomly. Yeah.
Jillian Leslie 47:16
Okay. Yup. Yup. So again, so you kind of piece it out and people should piece it out. This is the other thing that I recommend, which is lead with your best metrics. Tell them how many Twitter followers you have.
KariAnne Wood 47:33
No, no, no, no. And another thing too. Now, this is another way that I work with brands is I help them with marketing. So, because I’ve worked with some brands for so long, I approach them and say, “Hey, listen. Let me help you put together your marketing campaign for 2020 or 2019.”
I charge them a fee to be able to do that because I feel like I’m bringing my expertise. And when you have a blogger on board, a blogger is telling… because brands have no idea of our world. Kind of we don’t know anything about their world.
That’s why you have to ask the brand, what metrics are important to you, because you don’t know their world. You’re not in thier world. You have no idea. But they don’t know the blogger world either. Especially if they’re just starting out, they have no idea how to work with bloggers. The information that you can bring to the table is valuable, but you shouldn’t just give that away.
Jillian Leslie 48:20
So when you then work with a brand, as let’s say, a marketing ambassador, and you’re saying I’m going to give you the prism, you’re going to get to look through my eyes and see how I see your brand and how the world of bloggers sees your brand.
Are you pitching them story ideas? Are you pitching them post ideas? Are you are you pitching them trends? What does that mean?
KariAnne Wood 48:41
Typically, I do two things. I pitch them new social that they sometimes don’t know about, or new ways. Like when Ig TV came on. Like things that they might not be aware of that are new in all of the social.
Or the fact that Pinterest now basically is not a scial media anymore as much as it is just a search engine. And they might not take that to account, they might approach Pinterest differently. So things in the marketplace shift very rapidly.
Since we’re bloggers we have our fingers on the pulse of everything. And so, I can take that knowledge just on basic changes in social. And the other thing is I don’t pitch them individual story ideas.
I do pitch them campaign ideas, overall campaigns that I think based on what the marketplace is, and clever ways of incorporating social into that campaign, and clever ways of really putting their brand at the forefront of that campaign and figuring out, “Oh hey, have you thought about bloggers working like this with you? Or have you thought about this?” And a lot of times it’s very clever, out of the box that they might not have thought of before.
Jillian Leslie 49:48
Don’t they want to hire you then?
KariAnne Wood 49:50
As a blogger?
Jillian Leslie 49:51
Yes. Reaching them this cool idea, like as an expert, and then you’re like, “Okay, guys. I’m ready.” Like, what a great way?
KariAnne Wood 50:03
Yes. Yes. So it’s a great way to get your face in front of the brand, but it’s also a great way to help them. So you’re providing a service to them. I come from a place of respect. I mean I’m not doing this just because I’m getting paid.
I’m doing this because I believe in the brand. And I feel like I know, from my perspective, or what I see, and that’s going on marketplace right now, I see the easiest way to be of help to them. And I think they value that. And so we’ve had a lot of really successful campaigns that I’ve helped to put together.
Jillian Leslie 50:34
That’s amazing. Again, like what a way also then to create a job for yourself. Like you become indispensable because you’re then the go-to person for trends, for what this whole other world looks like. That is you know, sending them those targeted customers. I mean, that’s just so brilliant.
Again, I love that you take that step back. I love that you look at the landscape and you go, “How can I be of service?” And then, benefit yourself as well. What a great way to do that win-win?
KariAnne Wood 51:07
Yes, for sure. It’s a win win for everyone.
Jillian Leslie 51:09
Which is what I love. Oh my God, KariAnne, we could talk forever. Okay. Before we go, I want to just talk a little bit because before we started recording, you mentioned how MiloTree is helping grow your Instagram.
And so, I said, “Oh my God, would you talk about this?” Because honestly, you made my day talking about it. So, there.
KariAnne Wood 51:30
Okay, so really unsolicited. Jillian did not ask me. This is just us chatting as friends. When we were at the blogger retreat she had mentioned, “Oh. Have y’all tried this?” And I said, “Oh, I’ve heard of it but haven’t really tried it.” I said let me try it and let me just see kind of if I think it works, what’s going on?
I mean even if I did not know Jillian, like podcast listeners, just act like Jillian is not even here telling you face to face, ear to ear. I guess your voice to ear or whatever. It is absolutely amazing.
I personally have gained over 2000 Instagram followers. What? Has it been a month since we’ve been out there?
Jillian Leslie 52:13
I think so. I think even less than a month.
KariAnne Wood 52:15
Yeah, maybe less a month but I personally have. So I’m not just telling you this like because Jillian’s on the podcast, like blogger blogger, like I want to help you. Like I was like, “Oh my gosh, Jillian, this is like a game changer.”
Especially, with so many more brands concentrating on Instagram. Now you don’t have to just – I chose Instagram because that’s my platform, but you could also grow your email list or you could grow your Pinterest or whatever. Whatever your it is, you could easily grow it.
But me as a personal testimonial, just a random blogger. Really kind of knew Jillian, but really didn’t know that much about MiloTree and start using it. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. It’s my new best friend.”
I’ve told so many people about it and they’ve had great results too. So I told her, “Oh, I’m getting all these people to sign up just because when it works, I mean you got to share it with your friends you know.
Jillian Leslie 53:07
Totally. Totally. Especially because Instagram right now is hard to grow.
KariAnne Wood 53:11
Yes it is.
Jillian Leslie 53:12
It used to be easier.
KariAnne Wood 53:14
It’s very challenging I think right now. I’ve just really kind of put the pedal to the metal and tried to grow it. I think MiloTree is a huge part of that success.
Jillian Leslie 53:25
Oh my God. Well KariAnne, thank you. Now, okay, so let everybody know how they can reach out to you, how they can see what you’re doing, all of that stuff.
KariAnne Wood 53:35
Okay. You can follow me of course on my blog ThistlewoodFarms.com
Jillian Leslie 53:39
We’ll have links to all of this. KariAnne does beautiful things. Before we press record, I’m getting her advice on home decor. You know, I’m like, “Okay, but what about my accent wall?”
And I want to give the advice that you just gave me which is, go do it! Go paint that accent wall. Because if you don’t like it, you can always repaint it. And I just felt so free when you said that to me. So definitely.
And read KariAnne’s blog because while you are a DIY blogger, interior design, you are a storyteller first. And her stories are so touching and funny and you have such a vim and vigor about you. So definitely go read her blog, not just go look at the pretty pictures.
KariAnne Wood 54:31
Well, you are too kind. And of course they can always follow me on Instagram.
Jillian Leslie 54:36
Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. Great. So if people have questions about working with brands, you know, can they…?
KariAnne Wood 54:42
Yes! Email me. I will put my email on here. I pay it forward all the time. So if y’all have any individual questions, or there’s anything. I speak all over the country on this.
I actually just have two emails in my inbox from someone where I spoke a while back and I’m happy to answer any questions about the blogging or working with brands or anything. It’s my passion. And if I can do anything to help anyone that’s listening, I would be more than happy to.
Jillian Leslie 55:07
And join her email list because I think that what you do is really special in your connection with your audience, in how you’re kind of sharing your content, and you send five emails a week. So definitely join her email list to see.
KariAnne Wood 55:23
We’re going to have so much fun.
Jillian Leslie 55:24
Oh my God. All right. We’re going to do another one, by the way, because we have a whole other thing about affiliates that I want to talk about, but I don’t want to mix it up with this. So would you come back and do talk about affiliates?
KariAnne Wood 55:35
Of course. You say the word, I’m here.
Jillian Leslie 55:36
Okay. All right. Perfect.
KariAnne Wood 55:37
You have the best audience. You have the best audience.
Jillian Leslie 55:39
Oh, well. KariAnne, honestly, thank you so much for part two, and we’re going to do part three.
KariAnne Wood 55:44
Thanks! See y’all later. Bye.
Jillian Leslie 55:46
I hope you guys liked that episode. For me, my biggest takeaway is how KariAnne thinks about the brand first, how she thinks about how to give them what they want. That it’s not about her. It’s really about how she can help them.
Now, before I go, I want to remind you to head over to Facebook and join my facebook group, the MiloTree Mastermind group. And also to email me any technical blogging questions you have. I will share them with David and then we will go into a Facebook Live and answer those questions.
So please send those questions to Jillian@MiloTree.com. I will be here again next week.
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