Episode #20: Striking a Balance Between Affiliate & Personal Sales (How to Make Money Mini-Series, Part 3)

In today’s episode, we’re bringing you the third of our three-part mini series on how to make money in your business! We’re going to marry our first two episodes together with a discussion on how to strike a balance between affiliate and personal product/service sales. Then we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.

Podcast Sponsors:

NTA | Podcast Sponsor | Driven Podcast

Cassy Joy: It almost seems like we’re trying to talk people out of feeling sales-y, and coming across as sales-y. And really chasing what you’ve referenced before is the ultimate ROI; return on investment that we’re after is trust. In those two; if you have trust with your readers, you will not come across as sales-y.

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Cassy Joy: In today’s episode, we’re bringing you the third part of our three-part miniseries on how to make money in your business. We’re going to marry our first two episodes together with a discussion on how to strike a balance between affiliate and personal products/service sales. Then we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.


  1. What’s on my plate [2:27]
  2. Shop Talk: Affiliate strategy [13:52]
  3. Shop Talk: Sponsor strategy [25:36]
  4. Shop Talk: Your own content [38:38]
  5. Tip of The Week: Pen to paper [52:07]

Cassy Joy: Today’s show is brought to you by the Nutritional Therapy Association. The NTA trains and certifies nutritional therapy practitioners by focusing on bio-individuality and the range of dietary strategies that support wellness. The NTA emphasizes a whole-food, properly prepared, and nutrient dense diet as the key to restoring balance and enhancing the body’s innate ability to heal.

Throughout their programs, students learn a wide range of educational tools and techniques to identify and correct nutritional imbalances and deficiencies in their clients, and to launch a successful career in holistic nutrition. The NTA produces like-minded practitioners and consultants that we endorse and consider colleagues in the health and wellness space. Registration for the February class is now open through January 31st. And seats are already filling up quickly. You can learn more and save your seat by going to www.NutritionalTherapy.com. Don’t forget to mention our name, The Driven Podcast, on your application.

1.  What’s on my plate [2:27]

Cassy Joy: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses and lives this week. Diane; what’s going on over there?

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, hello!

Cassy Joy: Hello.

Diane Sanfilippo: Nice to see you today, my friend. A couple of sort of housekeeping updates. We are hiring a customer service, I don’t know; rep? What would you call this person? A customer service person. And I don’t know if by the time this episode airs the job will be posted yet, but when it’s posted it will be at DianeSanfilippo.com/jobs. And I’ll probably be sending it out to my Diane Sanfilippo email list, which I call Diane Direct. But we’ll make sure we tell people about it. And it’s going to be a remote job. And probably just about 10 hours a week. Nothing too heavy weight; just somebody who can help out in customer service.

So, beyond that, other updates. Shipping hold; we’ve got a shipping hold for Balanced Bites meals and let’s see; this episode will be airing on December 30th. Until January 4th, the shipping hold is in effect. So if anybody is ordering Balanced Bites meals, they all ship on January 7th. I just kind of want to share that and let you guys know a quick behind the scenes on that, in terms of the business decision. The holidays are such a crazy time. And I have this hunch that folks who want to order meals are going to be ready for it in January. But over the holidays, I did not think that our order quantities would be maintained where they need to be in order to make sense to say to the kitchens; we need the same number of people in there cooking, packing, and shipping as we would every week.

So, I made that kind of executive decision to say; let’s just have a freeze for a couple of weeks and we’ll resume shipping again. So people can still order, but they’re all going to ship a little bit later, and time will tell if that was the right decision. So we’ll see what happens. But I have a feeling it’s going to work out just fine.

My one other kind of work life update, which I posted about on Instagram when I got back from Los Angeles. I was there for a long weekend for a friend’s birthday. You and I have talked about this; for probably the last year, I’ve been saying, “I really need to reach out to Miguel Garza.” Apparently, his family calls him Mike.

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: He has always introduced himself to me as Miguel. And I spoke to Veronica about it, one of the sisters, in the seven, and she said it was weird to call him anything other than Mike. But I spoke to him; well I told you I wanted to speak to him for the last year, because I was really curious about the process of rebranding Siete. You know, it was called Must be Nutty in the very beginning. Their whole rebrand, and then growth and explosion as a company. We all know this brand, we love it. We love the family and everything about it.

So I just knew that as a business mentor in terms of a food product, he would be a good person to talk to. And I did not want to bother him. {laughs} I was just like; I don’t know. I don’t want to be a pain, or a nuisance, or kind of ask for more than I deserve. And how silly is that, right? We constantly tell people; reach out to somebody who you know. You’re a colleague with them. And it’s not about brain picking, because I do not like when someone contacts me and says; “Can I pick your brain?” It’s just different. We have a history. We go back to 2011 or even before that. They attended one of my seminars. We’re just in this community together. It’s a really different situation.

So, long story short, I did not ever reach out to him. And lo and behold, on Sunday, I walk into Air One market in Santa Monica, and I’m coming up the stairs at the exact same time, opposite side of the stairs. We practically walk into each other. They live in Austin, Miguel and his wife Alex. And I love in Los {laughs} not in Los Angeles. In San Francisco; and what are the chances that we run into each other in a totally different city at the exact same moment going into the store? Ended up talking. And it was like the universe literally threw me in front of him and said, “Talk to him now. You need to do this. Stop thinking about it.” It was just; I mean I can’t make this stuff up!

So that happened. I wrote about it on Instagram. If you guys didn’t see it; I have a not so cute selfie in the store. I was like; I’m going to commemorate this and take a picture of myself in the middle of the grocery store. But that was a big moment. And I’ll talk more about that as things kind of start to come to fruition from that conversation. But it was really powerful. I don’t take advice from a lot of people. But I was trying to listen as much as possible in this conversation, and only say enough to spur him to say the next thing. And it was; I cried. I mean, we must have been talking for at least 40 minutes in the store.

My friend, Naomi. I was like; did you think I left? She was like, nah, I was just walking around. {laughs} we’re the same. We just get lost in the grocery store, right? But she came back there, and when we finally parted ways, I literally broke down crying as if I had just come out of a therapy session. It was insane for me. Anyway. So that was big. So I’m excited about what’s to come, and I’m reinvigorated and have so many ideas. So those are some big updates.

What’s going on with you?

Cassy Joy: Oh, that is so dang sweet. It feels like; it must have felt like a warm hug.

Diane Sanfilippo: It did.

Cassy Joy: I’m so glad you got that.

Diane Sanfilippo: Thank you.

Cassy Joy: And I also call him Miguel. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s what he introduces himself as!

Cassy Joy: I know. I’m with you.

Diane Sanfilippo: But I don’t like not calling him something the family calls him. That feels wrong.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m family.

Cassy Joy: I’ve heard people call him Mike before, and I was like; I just can’t rewrite. I don’t know that I can rewire those synapses in my brain. {laughing} We also have a babysitter, her full name. She’s Grayson’s favorite babysitter. Her full name is Analisa, so I’ve called her Analisa for the last year and a half that she’s been coming to our house. And I saw on her Starbucks cup the other day, she goes by Anna. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But maybe she just does that for Starbucks.

Cassy Joy: That’s true. I tell Starbucks CJ. Because I just can’t with the, “Cathy? Casey?” I just can’t. {laughs} Ok. What’s going on; I got Invisalign! And you really did; this is another warm hug from our sweet universe. But you swept in with some really timely advice. I was on my way back from the dentist office yesterday. First of all; I had some people send me messages. They’re like; why are you changing your smile?! And that’s not what it’s about.

I’m one of the very, very few that never had braces. And I just; I love my teeth, and I love my smile. But I just went to this really great dentist, who I really trust. And he has three adult children about my age. And he sat me down; and he’s near retirement and all these things. He’s so respected in his industry. And he’s like; ok, here’s the thing. I was like; I want the full analysis. Please deep dive; I want to maximize my dental health {laughing}.

And he said; if you were one of my children, he says, you have beautiful teeth, a beautiful bite, everything looks good. But, you can start to see that the way some of my teeth are naturally; he says, as you age, over the next 20, 30, 50-plus years, your teeth are going to shift more into a slightly dysfunctional alignment that’s going to cause you problems way down the line. But he says it’s way down the line. So it’s up to you. We can either correct it now, and then that not be an issue. And I was like; what would you say? He said, well, if you were one of my children, I would advise you to go ahead and do it.

So that’s what we’re doing.  I have 9 trays ahead of me; and boy howdy. They pop those suckers in. {laughs} I told Diane; she said, you’re probably not thinking this yet. But just in case you do, about a week in, you might be regretting it. I was like; I regretted it while I was walking to my car. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I believe the words I used were; you may be filled with regret.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Those are the words.

Diane Sanfilippo: You’re not wearing them right now; for the record.

Cassy Joy: I’m not. That’s why I’m speaking so clearly.

Diane Sanfilippo: Mm-hmm.

Cassy Joy: That’s right.

Diane Sanfilippo: Welcome to an adult lisp that you didn’t have before.

Cassy Joy: Exactly. I was speaking; man. I just had a rough morning. And I was crying, talking to my husband. I was talking to him with these darn Invisalign things in my mouth, and I was spitting! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Like a freaking, I don’t know, what’s it called. The watering thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like a sprinkler.

Cassy Joy: Thank you. A sprinkler. Yes. {laughing} Anyway. A whole new thing to get used to. But I’m excited. I’m excited to see what happens. And it’s not going to be that long. Hopefully, if everything goes according to plan, they’ll be out by baby. But I guess I’m not holding my breath. Because I know that that can be a moving target.

Puppy Ben; Benjamin. Benny-Boo-Boo. He’s doing great.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Benny-Boo-Boo! Do you know how many times I’ve watched How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? Like, more times than is reasonable. It’s like; it was always on when I was home on a Saturday night. and I was like; listen, A&E or whatever. USA channel you’re on; why do you have to know me so well that I’m home and watching this?

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Oh my gosh. It’s such a good movie. I won’t lie to you, Diane. As soon as Austin said the name, Ben. And I thought; Benny-Boo-Boo, Boo-boo-boo. {Laughing} I was like; I am in! I’m so sold. He’s such a good boy. He really is. He’s doubled in size. Pyr’s just grow so fast. And he’s just sweet. He’s so sweet. Gus is adjusting well. He’s got these little needle teefies, so he likes chewing things. Trying to make sure he doesn’t chew on Grayson is a real; that’s our current challenge. Because we don’t want her to be afraid of Ben. But she’s pretty scrappy. Anyway. So he’s doing great.

And then just really looking forward to 2020! I know this is airing on one of the last days of the year. And man, what a transformative year it has been for my business; me personally; and I’ve said this, I think, on a prior episode. But I just really think that 2020; this is the year where a lot of pieces fall into place. And I’m very patient in business and in life and in big things happening. And it’s just so exciting to know that over the next 12 months, some of the things that we’ve carefully been planning on; an office, the team filling out, and there being just solid roles for people that can thrive within them. My family, having another baby, Benjamin growing up, Gus and Ben becoming best friends, moving into our own house, possibly, or building it out. And then Austin and I just continuing to grow through challenges. I’m just really excited about next year.

2.  Shop Talk: Affiliate strategy [13:52]

Diane Sanfilippo: Shop Talk. In this segment, we talk about topics that are on both our minds and yours. We’ll cover all sides of the issue, and hopefully land somewhere concise, actionable, and helpful. Well, today we’re talking shop about how to strike a healthy balance between affiliate and personal products or service sales, and we’re going to cover the pros and cons and how to build a strategy that weaves the two together. And I think Cassy is going to be the right person to kick us off on this topic. So why don’t you do that?

Cassy Joy: Yes. I’m so excited to jump into this. I’ve alluded to this on prior episodes in this series. But when I look at business strategy for Fed and Fit in 2020, Amber is our managing editor. And she has really done a deep dive on how can we build out, specifically utilizing emails, but how do we seamlessly work in some of these affiliates and these sponsorships and our own products into this free content that we’re offering.

Because for so many folks, especially when you’re in this game. If we roll back the clock a little bit; when I think about myself and definitely can think of a handful of colleagues; we were giving out free information for so long. And I remember, Diane, being just gripped with; I was so afraid and so nervous to sell my own thing. Because I had never asked my audience for a transaction before. And I had just given, given, given; and then all of a sudden I was so afraid that they were going to unfollow, unsubscribe, write me off, how dare you ask me to buy something that you’ve been giving me for so long. And it’s just so neat to see how that strategy and fear has evolved into; there’s a way, actually, to marry things that you can monetize into your content. Into what is free, what is paid for, what is proprietary.

So that’s what we’re going to dive into. I’m going to break it up into affiliate strategy, sponsor strategy, and then your own program and we’ll just kind of talk about some options within all of those. But Diane, I would love to know; can you think of, when you’re following folks on, let’s say Instagram or their businesses, or their websites. Have you seen an affiliate strategy implemented really well that wasn’t; let me give an example of an affiliate strategy that maybe is not a great example.

Let’s say you found out that Instant Pots are selling like hotcakes. You’re a business owner, you’re like; wow, Instant Pots are selling like hotcakes over on Amazon. I’ve never talked about them before. I’ve never shown cooking before. I’m just going to put up a link in my Instagram stories and say, hey go get you an Instant Pot right now. Right? It’s out of context. I would say that is a poor show of affiliate strategy, because it just doesn’t make any sense. Your audience has no idea why you’re promoting this product.

But have you seen one that’s been done really well?

Diane Sanfilippo: I think consistently, a lot of our peers and colleagues do this really, really well. I can point out a few names of folks who do that. So someone like Michelle Tam from Nom Nom Paleo; a good example with the Instant Pot. First of all, I’m pretty sure she introduced most of us to the Instant Pot.

Cassy Joy: She’s why I bought it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. If I go back far enough to think; who was the first person I saw talking about this electric pressure cooker, it was her. And she was talking about it long before people were really buying it at all or using it. And she was using it and showing people and telling us not to be afraid. So for the longest time, doing that.

Now, I have an Instant Pot, and I use it, but if there is a huge sale on an Instant Pot, I don’t even normally post it. Because it’s not part of something that I talk about really consistently. People know that I don’t cook everything in it. I’m not in the Instant Pot obsessed camp; there’s nothing wrong with it, I just use it for particular things. So if I were to be the one who was like; oh my gosh, there’s a great sale.

Now, I don’t think it would be fully out of left field, but it’s probably a less quality example, if I were to post it. Versus when Michelle posts it; it’s so obvious. And it’s also like; thank you for posting that. Right? It’s a totally different thing. Instead of this; oh, that just came out of left field, it’s; ok this is a thing you’ve been talking about for forever and now it’s on a special sale. So I think that’s one.

My friend Kendra of Peace, Love, and Low Carb, she does a really good job of consistently cooking in her stories, and often using different cuts of meat. And then she’ll promote a meat company that she’s working with and say; this is the one I love the most, and add a swipe up. And that’s an affiliate situation, too. So I think when it can integrate into what you already know, and love, and talk about, and educate around. It can be something new. You can say; oh my gosh, this is a new ranch that I found out about that’s offering a different cut of steak that I’ve never had before. Not like ranch dressing. {laughs} I just mean like a new farm. And it is new. There will always be the time when you introduce something new. But it makes sense; it doesn’t just hit your readers and they know it’s not just about; oh, this cool toothbrush has a big discount, so this person is posting about the toothbrush out of nowhere.

Cassy Joy: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think those are some good examples.

Cassy Joy: I think that’s great. I think you hit the nail on the head. And what I want to really drill home today is; how do you marry free content, and content that you’re already creating and educating on, with affiliate links. Which can be a massive income revenue generator, y’all. Do not underestimate the potential here if you’re using them to reference as a part of your solution.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s woven in. Somebody already wanted to buy that thing; now you happen to offer a specific brand that you love, or you have a discount, or there’s a sale, etc. It’s like; it’s very well married.

Cassy Joy: Exactly. So what I want you to understand is you need to create content around the links that your providing and the products that you’re hoping to sell when it comes to those affiliate partnerships. So a different example in the same category; I can look at household cleaners. Branch Basics is a company that I love to support, because I really like their mission. If you don’t know their story yet; I highly recommend looking it up.

But we have reviews of Branch Basics. We have used them; these things are not published yet. {laughs} But we’re working on them. But this is a part of our own strategy, looking into 2020, is to build educational content, answer your questions about it, talk about how we transitioned cleaning products over in our own homes to safer options. And then here is one option. You can also mix oil with water and get these kinds of results. They may not be as great.

But I think that educating and providing context for these products, and then allowing your customers, or your readers, or your subscribers to choose for themselves what fits is also, I think, really well placed. So when you’re recommending an affiliate type product; the beef, the protein is a really good example of this. I really love it when folks; and we do it ourselves but provide references for lots of options. Here’s the place to go when you want to find a cow share near you; go to this website. Or if you go to the grocery store, make sure you’re grabbing these kinds of things off of labels. And if you just want to press the easiest button possible, here’s the one that’s going to deliver to your home, and this is my favorite. So let your clients and your readers; trust them enough to choose. And I think when you give up a little bit of that control, and you give up a little bit of; “this is the only option, I want you to choose what I chose for you,” I think that you’ll find that you have a stronger bond with your readers and probably a higher click through and purchase rate.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And I think a couple other notes I have on that. One is; when you’re offering something as an affiliate, you have the opportunity to draw some comparisons. Or compare and contrast either brands or options. So to your point, offering varying levels of a solution; one that might be less expensive but a little bit more labor intensive, versus more expensive, less labor intensive. So somebody is going to spend time or money. And you, as this blogger, influencer, nutrition coach, business owner; whatever, you’re going to make that comparison for them. Another way to do a comparison or compare and contrast is multiple brands. Here’s what I love about each one. Here’s maybe something that, if this is something you want to look out for that you might not like. For example, if there’s a protein powder that uses stevia, and somebody wants to eat keto and they don’t want the additional sweetener, that’s a good option for them. But if they don’t like that type of sweetener, then they can be aware.

And I think as the affiliate, you’re in a good position to draw those comparisons. Or make contrasting statements. Because as the company; so I’m more in the situation typically where now, what I offer is my own products. I’m not going to do that, as the brand. It’s not a good look for a brand to compare to another brand, especially in a way that might be negative. I might compare a size of a jar, and that’s just matter of fact. But I’m not going to say; “This is better because XYZ.” For me, as the company, I’m not going to do that.

But for you as an affiliate, it’s actually a great thing to do. People appreciate it. They want that comparison. I just can’t give it to them. So if you want to give it to them; you want to say; wow, this garlic is so much better than this one for the following reasons. Does that make sense?

So I think that’s a unique opportunity to give your opinion when you do something as an affiliate, and you are not under any obligation to only talk about that one brand. Which is in contrast, as well, to kind of that next strategy where within, let’s say one blog post, you’re probably only going to talk about one brand if it’s sponsored, versus an affiliate situation. Right?

Cassy Joy: Absolutely. Great nail on the head. So ways that you can create content around your affiliate partnerships are; you can use the Michelle Tam example is a fabulous one. She educates very frequently. She creates recipes for the Instant Pot on a very regular basis. She uses it. She references it. So she’s creating a wealth of content on both her website and her social media platforms.

And then I also want to highlight the ability to create; and we’ll talk about this a little bit with your own product. But when you think about educational email sequences; within Fed and Fit we call these mini courses. But you can sign up and get a five-day mini course on how to get dinner on the table easier. Easier, faster, less hassle, less expensive. So it’s this educational course. And within it we offer solutions. If you are looking for a non-stick, non-toxic pan, here’s an option. Here’s our favorite option. That’s an affiliate tagged link, but we’re still providing an option, letting somebody make the decision, whether or not they need it. We’re not saying you have to have this or bust. And we’re still providing education and content around it. So I think that’s a great way to do it.

3.  Shop Talk: Sponsor strategy [25:36]

Cassy Joy: Ok, sponsor strategy. This is the next category. And Diane did a great lead-in for it; but stark contrast to the affiliate strategy, most of the time, let’s say you land a sponsorship. You’re super excited. There’s a really good chance that they’re having you sign some sort of an exclusivity for a certain period of time. In general, I can speak from experience, most standard exclusivity clauses are two weeks prior to posting date and two weeks after. And I actually think that’s a really long time. I think four weeks; buying my silence for four weeks is a really long time. So that’s part of the reason why we say yes to so few sponsorships. Because I would rather not be fenced in and not be able to tell y’all about the best new bread I found, ever.

But that’s kind of one of the reasons. So you are fenced into only talking about one product within that category. And you probably also have to submit your content for review, so there’s a lot of planning ahead that needs to go in here. Whereas with affiliate partnerships, you can kind of fly by the seat of your pants. If you are cooking up steaks for dinner, you can film it, put it on your Instagram stories, and reference your favorite grass-fed beef company. Whereas sponsorship strategy does require some forethought.

And there are ways to do this well, and there are ways to do this not well. So a way to maybe do it not well, and then I’m going to ask Diane to pick another one that she really likes. But a way to not do it well; I think we all probably follow people who would consider themselves true blue Instagram influencers. Or at least I do; I definitely follow a handful of folks like that. And I just have for a while; I respect the businesses they’re building on the side, and I just think it’s so interesting. But every once in a while, they will take on what is a sponsored post. And it is like a hard-left turn from their normal content. They go from posting about their babies and their puppies to all of a sudden writing some sort of a sponsored post about a travel agency.

That’s not a good example; I’m struggling to find an example. But something that is just really out of left field, out of the blue, doesn’t really fit their mission. The language obviously was massaged. It wasn’t something they wrote in the moment like they normally do. The photos are different. Those are sponsorships that I would say that are not done very well. Because what’s going to happen is somebody is going to see #ad at the beginning of a caption. And if the photo doesn’t fit, and they’re like; this doesn’t make sense. I follow this person for fashion advice, and now all of a sudden, she’s trying to give me a recommendation on; what’s something unrelated to fashion?

Diane Sanfilippo: Well, there are a lot of things unrelated. And I’ll talk about a way to ease in. But this is like when somebody who is a fashion blogger starts talking about food, and vice versa. And there is a way to do it. But when it’s out of left field, and just the first time you post about food, it’s a sponsored post; it doesn’t make sense.

Cassy Joy: Yes. Yeah. That’s a good example. Or if you’re a super healthy food blogger, and you all of a sudden post a; {laughs} did you just see a cat walk by your window?

Diane Sanfilippo: I just saw a really cool bird. I’m officially the old grandma emoji, because I look at foliage and birds. And I don’t even like birds, because they’re loud.

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: But it was like a black and yellow, looked like a little chickie shape. And it was so cute, and I wanted to take a picture of it, but he flew away. Sorry. I literally got distracted by a shiny object. You saw my face.

Cassy Joy: I was watching your face! {laughing} I was like; what just went by that window, I need to know! {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m sorry. So sorry.

Cassy Joy: It’s ok. I was going to say; another poorly done example for a sponsorship could be; maybe it’s in the food vein. Let’s say you post about healthy food, and you’re a nutritionist. But then all of a sudden you take an ad sponsorship from a soda pop company. And you don’t provide any context around why. You’re just like, “Man. When I’ve been craving a Coca-Cola, or something, this brand is my favorite one to go to.” It’s just something that your audience is not prepared for.

So I’ve given some really fuzzy, terribly executed poor examples. {laughs} Have you seen a sponsorship example done really well that you really liked and admired?

Diane Sanfilippo: I love the way Juli Bauer, at PaleOMG; I love the way she does what seems to be like serial sponsored content. Not cereal, like breakfast cereal. As in a series. I’ve noticed that she does this with Natural Grocers, and I do think this is something that not everyone will have access to, if you’re new and you have a smaller following, for example. I think because she has a robust platform, it’s probably; I’m not going to say it’s easy to do this. But easier to get a brand to agree to a longer-term type of sponsored contract.

But I will say, as somebody who owns a food brand, I would rather sponsor somebody for serial content than I would for a one-off because I know the ROI on a consistent share is way higher than a one-off post. I think a one-off post is mostly useless. As a brand owner, you know what I mean? I don’t thing that’s a helpful thing. And in fact, when we tell people who are affiliates how to post, we give people recommendations; I tell them; this isn’t going to convert on your first post. Don’t expect it to. I tell them right out of the gate. because I know both sides of it now, right?

So I think that Juli does a great job of delivering content for Natural Grocers, and I’ve seen her post about the brand multiple times. She always hashtags it sponsored; but she’s going into the store. She’s pointing out products that are on sale, or whatever the special thing is they want her to talk about at that moment. I mean, she’s just such a hard worker. She was really sick the other day, and she’s live in the store grabbing the items during the sale. And I know, it’s just crazy. But also super consistent because they are products that we’ve seen her use before. So again, she’s not coming out of left field and saying; oh, this hair spray is on sale. No. She’s pointing to the brownie mix that she would normally buy. And it’s also on sale.

So this is; again, it’s like the perfect marriage. Listen; it’s not always available to everyone to have brands and companies that you already know and love and want to talk about be in a position where they can sponsor you. I don’t have tens of thousands of dollars in a marketing budget to throw at somebody and say; hey, can we sponsor you for 6 months, or a year? I don’t have that with my business at this time. Maybe one day we will.

But there are some brands that do have a bigger budget. And when they do, I think it’s wise. And you and I have talked about this, Cassy. I think it’s wise to tell a brand; I think you’re going to have a better return on your investment if we do something that is not just a one-off post. And help them understand that you want to deliver for them, and that approach of just one time doesn’t really work that well.

{laughs} I mean, this is a little bit of our expertise and longer-term experience in the world of social media; in the world of online content sharing. And for me, just as somebody who, I have worked in marketing and retail for my entire life. It’s just basic information on brand exposure. It takes a lot of exposures, and a moment when the person is ready. And that combination of; how many times have I seen and am I ready for it in this moment to actually have it convert into a purchase. So a one-off post is kind of not that useful for anyone. Even though in the moment it might feel like; I can get $300 if I post once. You’re actually better off telling them; you know what? For $500 I can post three times, and I think this is going to deliver better for you.

Again, this is if you’re in a position where; if $3-500 is making a big impact in the money coming into your business, you want it to work well. You don’t just want the money. You want the work you’re doing to convert for them and to work for them, so that you have a good reference and a good example. So I think knowing what you’re capable of in terms of what you can deliver on one post is important.

Anyway, all that to say, I think Juli at PaleOMG does a really great job of having consistent serial; not breakfast cereal, content. I’ve seen that over and over again. And it does make me believe it more. And she’s looping it into stuff that she already purchases. And I think that’s really helpful.

Cassy Joy: I love that. Man, she is the hardest working woman I know.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} And we work pretty darn hard, so that’s kind of {laughs}. That says a lot.

Cassy Joy: We do. We work really hard, and she’s the hardest working person I know. She’s amazing. So, I love that. And I think that’s a really great example. So to just double down on what Diane’s advice was; if you are talking with a brand. Let’s say you are; remember we gave you, was it a penny a follower, I think was the number I gave last time, is on average what you can expect for a sponsored post. Either on Instagram or also about that in terms of viewers. Unique visitors to your website in terms of sponsored blog content.

So I think when you’re talking to a brand, just feel emboldened and feel empowered to be able to; it is so exciting when your favorite toothpaste company that you emailed, because you’ve been educating on maybe swapping over your safer skincare, safer household products. And you have a toothpaste that you love. Let’s say you email them; you go out on a limb and you say; I would like to work with you. I would love to do some sponsored content. Here’s my rate. My rate is $200 for a sponsored post. I really encourage you, when you do get into conversation with them.

And trust, you guys. If you are that sweet spot, under 20,000 followers on Instagram, you have a better chance of securing job with larger companies than folks who have larger followings. Because they realize that not only does a higher percentage of your audience actually see everything that you post, but a higher percentage of your audience trusts you. Because they know that you aren’t just going to give lip service about any one thing. So I want you to feel really empowered in these conversations.

But you email your favorite toothpaste company and you say, hey. I would love to have a conversation and work with you guys and promote your brand. I’m a big fan. Maybe here’s my plan on rolling out a strategy. Propose a series. Propose something like what Diane just described. Because it really is going to have a big impact. Not only on their return on investment, but also on your time. And you’re not going to sacrifice your readers trust in exchange for a one-off post. Because if it’s out of context, and if it doesn’t have any content around it that could enrich their lives, like you have been doing for so long, then it’s going to fall flat. It’s not going to be a win for the brand. It’s going to ding against the trust of your readers. And that’s really not worth it. From years of experience, that’s not worth it. So try to stay true to yourself and build content and context around it.

I have also seen some fashion bloggers do sponsored content in the past. I don’t know; I’m still a little conflicted around it, but gosh darn it, it worked. I definitely clicked through and I read the blog post. But they would say; for the first time ever, I’m sharing the story of, I don’t know, our journey to get pregnant. Something that you know people would want to go read. Something very personal. And this is brought to you in partnership with blah-blah company. So there are content creators out there who are holding on to really valuable pieces of content that can generate a lot of views and a lot of impressions on behalf of the brand. And I think at that point it’s kind of a wash. Your readers probably don’t care that it’s sponsored, because they just want the content. So it’s got to be one or the other. I think if you either build out a series that build this content and this context into your brand, and it becomes a service offering. Or you provide them with something that’s so wonderful, and so grand, that they don’t even care who it’s brought to you buy.

4.  Shop Talk: Your own content [38:38]

Cassy Joy: Ok. Last category is your own product. I think this is an interesting one; how to weave this in with your free content. Funny enough, this was the biggest challenge for me, Diane. Sometimes, I find myself; it’s so much easier to sell other people’s stuff than it is to sell my own. I don’t know what that says about me. If we were to sit down and were on a therapists’ couch. But I find sometimes it’s easier to sell other folks’ stuff than my own. Which is funny because today I need to go on and talk about; it’s going to be a free course, but still, we’re boosting our email list in an effort.

I think that this is often the one that is overlooked by folks; whether you’ve created an eBook or you’ve created a program, or you have an actual in-hand product that you’re really trying to sell. This can be a really tough one to weave into your own brand if you have any insecurities, maybe, around the product that you’re building. So I would love to have a conversation really quickly about weaving in your own brand story that also points people to your products. Because it is a solution. I want you to be proud of it. If it is helping people out there, then you need to continue to tell people about it.

Don’t just assume that if they follow you, or they subscribe to your list, that they know what books you’ve written. They know what eBooks you’ve published. That they know what programs you offer. Because unless you tell them, and you make it a part of your brand story, which is your free content. The brand story meaning the content that your producing and publishing on a regular basis. The copy going into your newsletters. What you’re putting on social media. The stuff putting on your blog. If you are not constantly referencing and pointing people back to your own products, they’re not going to know it’s there.

So in addition to that, I think it’s also interesting to chat about how you can weave in your own products with other brands that are out there in a way to kind of marry these two worlds together. Promoting your products and promoting other peoples’ products. Diane, is there any example of, let’s see, somebody out there who you think does a really great job of self-promoting their products in a way that it’s still a joy. Even if you haven’t; you’ve already bought their content, or you don’t care to buy it, but you still enjoy following them, even though they reference on a regular basis?

Diane Sanfilippo: I mean, can I toot our own horns? {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I thoroughly enjoy watching you cook from Cook Once, Eat All Week.

Cassy Joy: Aw, thank you.

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it is of the utmost importance for us to recognize that we need to be the number one cheerleader for our own product, or service, or program. Whatever it is. We need to be that. If somebody else is talking about your thing more than you are, what are you selling?

Of course, when you get to a point where you have a lot of products, you might not be able to talk about all of them all the time. And this is something I’m even working on now with Candace on my team. We’re going to be working on a strategy for making sure that I do reference and talk about a lot of the things that I’ve created over time. Because, to your point, I can’t expect people to know what Practical Paleo is or Keto Quick Start or the 21-Day Sugar Detox. I just can’t expect them to know that; especially because we do have new followers all the time.

And no matter how big your following is, your new followers; look. {laughs} Make new friends and keep the old, right? One is silver, the other is gold. {laughs} That’s like the girl scout or whatever it was motto. But new followers are really valuable, because they tend to see your content more. Especially on Instagram. Do you notice when you hit follow you start to see the content of that account more than other things. So I think realizing that we need to be the best cheerleader for whatever our thing is, and be consistent in talking about it, so that when, let’s say there’s a sale. So there’s a sale for Balanced Bites spices one week or something like that. It’s not just out of left field, that here I am talking about these spices, and people don’t even know that I’m the creator. It just comes out of nowhere.

So, I think to the point of integrating when we talk about our own products and other people’s products, it does get easier when you more freely will talk about other brands that you do or don’t earn money from. So here’s an example, something that I do pretty often. When I show making something like a dip in my Instagram stories, and I’m using Green Valley Organic. It’s a lactose free sour cream that I really love. And sometimes I’ll mix it with a little bit of Redwood Hill Farm goat yogurt, and I’m making my little dip, and I talk about those brands. They’re brands I love, and they’re available nationally, and people can get them themselves. It doesn’t go through me. But then I’m also showing my product that I created; Balanced Bites spices. And I have to show how to use it. And I’m giving people that education along with recommendations.

And I think this kind of goes back also to feeling confident in promoting your own thing; I think for a lot of people, it does take time. Because if you have really high standards, a lot of people suffer with perfectionism and all of that. Sometimes, when you first introduce it and you’re not sure if it’s great. Because you haven’t gotten feedback. You haven’t seen it out there working, and people using it, etc. It’s hard to feel more confident about it.

So even your level of confidence, talking about Cook Once, Eat All Week, has really changed since the book came out and then since having the response that it had. So you can speak so much more confidently about it now, because you’re like; thousands of people have told me that it’s helping them. Instead of; I think it’s going to help you, but I don’t know for sure. So it does sometimes take that proof. That other people saying; yeah, this worked for me. I love it. I’m getting DMs; I tried your soften the goat cheese and mix it in thing, and it worked really well. So I can be even more confident sharing that with people.

So, I think we do that pretty well. I’d love to hear what other people have to say about other folks who they see weaving in things that they have to offer with maybe affiliate products or sponsorships, etc. And I think; I was someone who, I didn’t have as much to say about the way to work on these affiliate and sponsor strategies, because I didn’t take that approach as heavily from the beginning. I was selling my own product from the very beginning, and I have positives and negatives to say about the way I approached it. It’s not the right way and the other way is wrong. It’s just a different approach. And I do think a lot of folks who are out there would be served really well to get both sides of this integrated from the beginning.

Because one thing that I recognize on social media with somebody who is, let’s say, an “influencer”, if they have a ton of followers. I’m like; where did those people come from? Why do they care that this person is a resource on XYZ? And I think for something like fashion, it might not be a depth of education in the same way that it is on other topics. And I’m not saying it can’t be. Maybe somebody educates deeply on fast fashion versus not, and they’ve written an eBook about it and they’re educating on that and what they promote is not fast fashion. Something to that degree. But I think for a lot of folks, being able to say; I’ve created this eBook, or this program, or this resource. Or I’m educating on a topic where I’m connecting more deeply with my audience to build trust. They don’t just trust me because of these squares on Instagram or watching my life. They trust me because I have really helped transform something about their life that’s deeper than a photo. It’s not going to be just there.

So, that’s one of the reasons why I know even with the following that I have, that might not be as large as some of our peers. People who wrote books at the same time as I did and have exponentially more followers; they have amazing trust. But I know that I also have amazing trust with my readers, because the kinds of conversations that we have, those are affecting their everyday lives in different ways beyond just a spice blend or something else. It’s about a depth of connection.

Anyway, I got off on a tangent there. But I do think that feeling confident about the solution that you have to offer, it can be a little harder at first, but it will get easier. And you have to be the number one cheerleader for whatever your product or service is. Because who else is going to be that number one cheerleader, right? Unless you’re hiring Jennifer Aniston as your spokesperson. {laughs}

Cassy Joy: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Jennifer Garner. Any of the Jennifer’s. Jennifer Lopez. {laughs} Any of them. But do you know what I’m saying?

Cassy Joy: I do.

Diane Sanfilippo: We have to be the ones to marry those things together.

Cassy Joy: I love that. I think that’s so well put. And if I’m looking holistically at everything we’ve talked about today, it almost seems like we’re trying to talk people out of feeling sales-y, and coming across as sales-y. And really chasing what you’ve referenced before is the ultimate ROI; return on investment that we’re after is trust. In those two; if you have trust with your readers, you will not come across as sales-y. And that you’re trying to get a quick one by them. Whether it’s an affiliate product, a sponsored post, or something that you’re selling yourself. Because if you have their trust, which you can build with content and context over time slowly. Give, give, give. By providing great content, and then when you do offer a solution that you could potentially earn money form, you put it within the context of what you’ve already told them. You’re going to help build that trust. And your own product; there’s nothing, like Diane just said, there’s nothing that converts more immediately and more lastingly. Did I use that word correctly? To a long-term trust with your audience like you personally solving a problem for them.

Diane Sanfilippo: Here, here.

Cassy Joy: And I think that’s just so incredible, and that’s so valuable.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right.

Cassy Joy: And like you said; it’s not about the numbers. It really isn’t. It’s not about the thousands of followers. I know it’s hard; if you’re trying to build a business online, it is tough to set the comparison game down. Because what somebody puts out there, it might seem like they have this banging business. And they’ve got it all going on. And maybe their content to you seems more trite than what you’re trying to put out there. Try to keep your head down; focus on how you can build more and offer better content that solves problems for your readers. Keep focused on solving problems for people. And it will build. If you build it, they will come.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. And the cherry I want to put on top of this conversation is that; if what you’re sharing is helping a good portion of your readers to solve a problem more deeply, it does not need to help every single one of them. And some of them might not like what you’re sharing the first time you share it because it’s not for them.

Maybe they followed for fashion, and now you’re talking about healthy snacks. And there are going to be a ton of people who are like; “cool. I trust your advice. You’ve not led me astray on these other topics, so now I’m going to see; I’ll buy the snack once and see if I like it too. And then, ok maybe I trust you on this thing, too, now.” You will have some people who are not comfortable with that shift. That doesn’t mean you don’t make the shift. You have to do what feels right for you.

And if you want to talk about more topics than you originally talked about, it’s ok. But you do need to have a transition where you don’t talk about it every day suddenly. Mix it in, but just know that you will help some people. As long as you feel confident that the thing you’re offering, it will help some people. Then you’re good to go.

Cassy Joy: Absolutely. Take your readers along for the ride. I think safer skincare; Diane and I are both involved in Beautycounter, and that’s something I like to tell people who are nervous about introducing skincare for the first time on their social medial plans, they’ve never talked about it before. Take people along for the ride. Tell them why, and then introduce it, like she just said, at a slow but incremental pace. And you can pick up speed and pace as time goes on once your audience is adjusted.

Beautiful job, Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: Today’s podcast is sponsored in part by Vital Choice Wild Seafood and Organics. America’s leading purveyor of premium, sustainable seafood and grass-fed meats, and a certified B corporation. Holiday season means parties and meals with family and friends, so now is the time to stock up on deliciously healthy foods you’ll be proud to serve. Vital Choice offers a wide selection of wild sea foods, grass-fed meats and poultry, and zesty organic soups. The perfect paleo-friendly fare for holiday feasting. And they make hosting easy with luscious nova lox, Alaskan crab, frozen at sea spot prawns, and much more. Be sure to save 15% on one regular order with the promo code DRIVEN or get $15 off your first Vital Box with the promocode DRIVENVB from now through the end of the year.

5. Tip of The Week: Pen to paper [52:07]

Diane Sanfilippo: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or your life forward. Cassy, why don’t you give us a tip?

Cassy Joy: OK. So to pull all this together, what I want you to do is when you’re thinking about your own business and looking forward, jot down all of your upcoming affiliate, maybe sponsorship opportunities, and maybe your own product or service promotions that you have coming up in the next three months. So quarter one of 2020; I want you to write all those down. And then I want you to actually write down a strategy on how you can build more content and context around each of those offerings.

Don’t stress out; you don’t have to invent a sponsorship category if you don’t have any there. But if you have anything that you’re an affiliate for, maybe you really love these two things on Amazon that you’ve really been wanting to promote. Then build around a strategy that walks your readers through it. Or maybe your own product or promotion. Build that more into your story.

And actually put pen to paper. Don’t just talk about it or think about it or say; I’m going to go listen to that podcast again when I need a refresher on how to do this better in the future. Actually put pen to paper and build yourself a plan.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to your shows. Follow us on Instagram @DrivenPodcast. Cassy is @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo. Tune in next week when we’ll answer your questions to wrap up this miniseries on making money. We’ll see you next week.