Digital Marketing & Affiliate Programs | Mediavine Teal Talk

[MUSIC PLAYING] Hello, everybody. I’m Jenny Guy. I am the marketing
manager for Mediavine, and I’m so happy that two
weeks have finally gone by and I’m sitting here with
you again for Teal Talk. We’ve got an amazing
episode lined up for you, but we have great
time every two weeks when we come on for Teal Talk. We invite industry experts
from all over the place, from bloggers, to
accountants to lawyers– we have everybody here. It’s all for you guys
to provide education and to help you further
your businesses. Today I’m going to introduce,
without any further ado, I am here with Marie Denee,
and she is incredible. She is a plus size fashion
style expert and blogger. She’s experienced in
retail for over 13 years. She worked in
various retail stores as a stylist, a fashion
expert, and in management, and she took all of that
and mashed it all up to bring to the world her dream
in 2008, which is The Curvy Fashionista, is one of
the most fabulous websites on the internet today. So I challenge you
to go look at it. So she has also created
from there, Marie Denee, which is all of her services,
her expertise, her passions into one site for those who
are looking for someone who is keenly aware of and in touch
with the plus size community and the fabulous world
of plus size fashion. She has contributed, as
the curvy fashionista, on plus size fashion
tips and trends, on Vo Curvy, Signature9, fashion
and style editor at Plus Model Magazine, for
plus size fashion, Seventeen magazine, Focus On Style,
and The Fashionable Housewife among others. She has been featured in Black
Enterprise, USA Today, InStyle, People Style Watch, Sizeon– Sizeon? We talked about this
before we started. I’m not sure– SF Chronicle, SF Bay Style,
NBC Bay Area, My Lifetime, Hungry by Crystal
Renn, The Style Sample, in addition to many others. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia. And in addition to
the Curvy Fashionista, she fashions her
skills and passion as a plus size industry
insider, consultant, advocate, and public speaker on
body image and confidence. And if that’s not
enough, she’s currently launched the
TCFStyle Expo, which is an event for plus
sized fashion bloggers. I was lucky enough
to attend this year and it was incredible. And she also recently
wrapped her TCF cruise event to Cozumel, Mexico. She’s a busy lady. Marie, welcome to Teal Talk. Thank you so much
for joining us today. Thank you so much for having me. Thank you. You have quite a bio
there, my friend. It’s really weird. I think 10 years, and as
you’re reading I’m like, oh, I didn’t put that in there. Oh, I forgot that. And I think over the time,
you forget sometimes. But 10 years is kind of
old in blog years, I think. I definitely think it is. And so really, I
was going to ask you the first question was going to
be talking about the blogging journey, and I’m still
going to do that. But you basically saw blogging
come to life as a career, as a legitimized career. Yeah. I remember when blogging
wasn’t even called blogging. Blogging was a “weblog” is
what they were terming it. It wasn’t even a blog. That whole verbiage,
that creation around it, like how they spoke to it,
was completely different. Now, it’s like “blog.” Back then my mom didn’t
understand what I was doing– nobody. They were like, what? What is this? You’re doing what? Why are you playing on Facebook? And so do tell me. How did you get started
in this and how did you have the faith to know that
this could become something that would be your career? Did you have that faith
when you first started? I started very
happenstance accidentally. I lost my job in retail
at the top of 2009, when the economy started
shifting downwards. And then I had just
recently graduated with my MBA in marketing. And nobody wanted to
hire an MBA student. I couldn’t even get
a job at Starbucks, as much as I was there, because
it was just that competitive. Everyone had all this education. At that point, I was
living in the Bay. So in the Bay Area, everyone
had degrees competing for this entry level
Starbucks management role. Everything was a competition. I had started my blog right
at the end of my MBA program, because ideally I wanted to
open up a plus sized boutique. I wanted to be a store owner. That was my goal. So I started the blog as
more as a marketing tool to kind of tell
the story and share some of the cool
finds along the way. But interestingly
enough, life ticks on. Once I lost my job, my
girlfriends around me were like, yo, now’s
the time to do it. They didn’t let me kind
of sulk and kind of wallow in losing my job. It was like, let’s go. I think like the next
week I had printed out business cards on my printer
with those in home printing programs, like one of those,
and I printed out some cards. My logo at the
time was in script. Yes, right. It was like The
Curvy Fashionista and I just started going. And over the years,
it’s evolved. But when it comes
to faith in knowing, faith, actually for
me, was something that was a huge component for me. I was like, OK. I got this vision for a reason. I’m just going to go
and take this leap. I might as well. I didn’t have any kids. I wasn’t married. I didn’t have a
lot of extra things to consider in
terms of this risk, and so I just barreled
forward and didn’t look back. So tell me how that trajectory
went, because that’s a big transition from going
to think of something as being a launching pad
for the real thing you were going to
do to it actually becoming the real thing
that you were going to do. What was that transition? When was the moment that
you knew this is the thing, I’m doing the thing? Two moments. So the first moment
I think there was an event that just started
called Full Figured Fashion Week. Full Figured
Fashion Week started and I reached out to the owner. And I was like,
hey, I’m a blogger, and I can write about this
and share it with my audience. And I would love to– you should reach out
to other bloggers too, because we’ll
be able to help. They were like, what
the hell is a blogger? And I joke and
tease with her blog, because getting
certain people kind of wrapping their head
around what a blogger was, like what is this? What would you do? How does this helpful for me? And then going to New York
on behalf of something that I kind of created. That was exciting for me. But then my first like
really uber official role, back in the day, Twitter
was like way different. Twitter was like everyone’s at
a bar and they’re like, hey. How are you? And everyone’s kind of
awkward and everyone’s kind of holding a drink like, I guess
we should be having a drink. So back in Twitter at that
time, you interacting with eggs, and people don’t have profiles
because it wasn’t that serious. You’re just interacting
with people. So one day someone– Can you please write a
history of Twitter in ’90s? Because this is amazing. This is the best
thing I’ve ever heard. I got on Twitter
because of Obama. When I heard how, from
a marketing space, they were leveraging Twitter
to move and mobilize people, I was like, whoa. This is a cool technology. This is marketing. So that’s why I I tuned in. But when this egg said, hey,
I have this great opportunity for you. Can you give me
your email so that I can send you some information? And I was like, sure. Here you go girl. Or boy. It’s an egg. It could be anything. Right. So come to find out it was an
opportunity with GM and Chevy, where I helped launch
the Chevy Cruze campaign. I literally got
this gig, and have my car, that’s still outside
paid for, from the Chevy campaign via a tweet. Because they had seen me
just interacting and having conversations with people. They enjoyed how I engage them. Because I was like,
how you find me? They were like, Twitter. That’s insane. Like you got a car
from an egg on Twitter. Right. That’s the best thing I’ve
ever heard– ever– in my life. I love that. But you followed through. You put yourself out there. You believed in something
that a lot of people would have gotten on there, and
seen the eggs, and just gone, this is really stupid. Well, but I will
say, the perception of the egg and the
profile with that is a lot different now
than it was back then. It was like, oh,
you’re just getting on. Or, oh, you’re still
kind of figuring it out. Whereas now, if someone hits
you up with an egg profile, you can be like, spam. There’s an automatic
assumption that it’s spam now. But back then–
well, back then– 2010, it wasn’t. It was just like, OK. The egg is kind of now like
the silhouette on Facebook, where it’s
traditionally like when my dad got a Facebook, only so
he could enter into a fishing competition. And it’s just the silhouette. So those things are equal. So Brianne Lindsey
said, oh my god, Marie has been such a help to me
in building out my blog. Fav queen of fashion
blogging right here. Awe, and I love
you too, Brianne. She’s definitely someone,
because she also helps me. She keeps me in check too– I’ll say it. Well, we all need those people. We need those touch points
in our lives, for sure. So one of the things
you said that it was very important
to distinguish– and I want to know where you
draw that line– is how do you distinguish between
a fashion blogger and a digital publisher,
and where do you think that line exists, and why
is that such an important line to you? Well, for me it’s important
because I find that I actually have grown or evolved into that
next level of digital platform, digital publisher,
because now I have a team. It’s moving away from more me
focused and more to the reader and to the community focused
or highlighting other people on a consistent basis. So I may jump in
on a video that we do as a brand with
a branded video, or I may showcase three
other readers or team members outside of myself. And it’s more of a
business kind of strategy and a business operational
function for me as we scale and grow. So now that I have– moving from just like a team of
one to now like business dev, and marketing, and managing
editor, and visuals. So creating this
team in operations that require more levels and
more layers to production and all that. And when did you decide that you
needed to hire on more people and how do you do that? How do you find people? I’m still learning
that, because I’m in that space of transition. So it’s really difficult,
because there’s not a lot of articles
around that transition. There’s not a lot
of information, so I’m still learning
what it means. And even at the base
core, I’m learning what it means to be a leader of a team. Because you can be a leader
within your community, but within your team, it’s
a little bit more personal. It’s a little bit more intense. It’s a little bit more serious. It’s a little bit more– it requires more of you too. And so like that transition
is like I’m constantly looking, and reading, and
understanding my leadership type– all these fun things. And it’s also kind of fun
to nurture and develop other people to a space
where they’re like, OK. Well, I’m going to
go do my own thing. And I’m like, get a girl. I’m sad to lose you,
but go, be free. Fly little bird, fly. Right. Well, Tracy Tucker
just said, Marie is the number one blogger. We all love her. Oh, thanks, Tracy. Thanks, girl. Getting all the love
here, and we love it. So here’s a funny
thing about Tracy. Tracy is a reader
turned Facebook friend, turned real life friend. So she has been following
and has been supportive of the brand for years. And once I moved to Georgia,
she’s been at every event that I’ve done. Sometimes she’s
brought her daughter. I think it’s her daughter. She comes and she supports. So it’s really cool to see,
with the relationships you build and the way that you engage
with your readers and that kind of connection, how it kind
of plays out along the way. It’s so cool to see. Well, your readers
definitely– it’s very clear– have a sense of
camaraderie, and kinship, and sisterhood with you in a way
that I haven’t noticed as much with different niches. And I don’t know if it’s you
being incredible and awesome, which is very true, or
if it’s– yeah, girl. Or do you think that
potentially the fashion niche has a little bit
more connection, and specifically, plus
style fashion niche? I think a lot of it has
to do with the voice that I intentionally set
out from the beginning. So as a blogger, when
you’re creating your voice, it’s important to pay attention
to the voice you create, because that has
to stay consistent for your audience to really
build a relationship with you. So immediately, I
knew I wanted people to know that I’m
like your girlfriend. The Curvy Fashionista is
your plus size girlfriend. That one girl that you
always invite over, and you’re like,
oh, I need this. Oh, girl, do this,
this, and this. You have that one
friend who’s always helping you pick out things. I knew that I wanted
to be that resource. I wanted to site, the
brand, to be the resource. Whether or not it was
me or another writer, we are providing
that girlfriend vibe, and so where you can
ask these questions, making it a safe space
to ask the questions, to ask for help and guidance,
and to share information. Because I’ve gotten tips
and information from folks, and I’m like, OK, thanks girl. Hey, boo, how you doing? Even for me, when I greet
people on my Facebook Labs, I’m all like, hey, girl, hey. I’m reading off the
comments and I’m reading off all this
information for them so they know that I see them. And it’s important for me
that sense of community and the voice that we use. So that way, when it does
come time to recommendations, I’ve already built and
established that trust, and they already look to the
brand as that go-to resource. So it was very intentional
and purposeful to make sure that when we do have these
conversations around what to shop for, where to buy,
that they know that I’m saying this is good because
I believe it’s good and you trust and know
that what I’m sharing, or what my brand is
sharing, that it’s something you can stand by. Absolutely. And it’s great to hear that
that is an intentional thing that you decided on. And I love that you are able to
walk that line as an authority, but an authority you still
want to go get a Cosmo with, not an authority that
is going to stay– like Tim Gunn feels like I
would trust what the man told me if my pants were fitting
right, but I don’t necessarily want to go have drinks
with him in Las Vegas. I would. Although, that might be fun. I would do that probably too– bad example. But it’s removing
the stuffiness. Also, when you have layered
into the plus sized industry in the community, is we
already feel ostracized. We already feel like kind
of as an afterthought or kind of pushed to the side. So it’s like, no,
here you’re welcome. You got some questions, girl? I’m going to answer them. What are you looking for? I’m here, and it’s
intentional so they know that we are that safe space. And to give some
give people a place to know that these
are your people. You don’t have to try to– you can talk about the Spanx
here that aren’t fitting right and are sticking every time
you try to go to your company. That’s such an important
place for people to have to feel understood
and heard in that way. So you talked a little bit
about one of our people that had commented, Tracy saying
she was coming to your events now that you moved local. Well, let’s talk about
that, because you have taken this brand that you built
and this amazing website that you created, and
you’ve expanded it to events, conferences,
and now a cruise. Talk about expanding that. How did you decide that
was what you needed to do and how did you make it happen? Tell us all about it. Well, my first event that I
did was when TCF turned three and I was really
nervous about it. I had very much the school
kid having a birthday party and nobody come vibe. It was a suggestion from a
girlfriend, Shanise Lewis, who’s also in the industry. And she was like, no, girl. You need to have a party. It’s three years. And I was like, OK. So I threw a party. And I was like, OK, I’ll
be happy if 50 people come, because this is LA,
and I don’t know. I didn’t know what to expect. We had about 80-something
people come out. That’s awesome. And we were packed out of
this little room that we had. But to be able to interact
with people who’ve been readers and
supporters of the brand and to kind of get them
offline and engage offline was so exciting
and invigorating. Because especially
at that time, online was still kind of like, hmm. And so what I realized is like,
as much time as we spend online is just as important
to spend offline and to actually kind of
celebrate and fellowship together. So that kicked off the
first event that we did. I started doing four and five,
and then I moved to Atlanta. I always wanted to toy with
this idea of a pool party. So when I moved
here I kicked off things with a TCF swim event. That was in– I was six. So I’ve been here four
years, so four years ago. Four years ago-ish, I kicked
off with the pool party. That was fun. We sold out of that, and
I was like, oh, they’re ready for some stuff here. What else can we do? In LA I’d gone to a
lot of shopping events that never had
anything plus size. So I was like, well, how
do I bring that offline? And so my cousin was like, girl,
this is how we going to do it. And she helped me
get it all together, and so we launched
it here in Atlanta. And this next upcoming
year will be our fifth year of our TCFStyle Expo. And this past year is when we
added The Blogger Mastermind, which you guys were
the sponsor of, really giving us space to actually
give back to bloggers, especially because I
get a lot of questions and wanting to be able
to provide that platform. And it was really
important, again, that they received information
that was meaty, actionable, that you could take away
things with actual takeaways. You go to conference sometimes,
you’re like, OK, now what? I really want it to be like, OK. I’m going to do this. Or I’m about to launch one
and I don’t know what to do. These are the steps. And so it’s really important
that as I started doing these events we got feedback. So we would do
customer feedback. So each year of the
Expo, we sent out surveys, post-event
surveys, what they wanted, what they needed,
what they liked, what they wanted more of,
what they didn’t like, because that’s an
opportunity for growth. Every year is. And then with the
cruise, that actually was a suggestion from a
reader in a Facebook Live, and then everyone
started talking about it. And I was like, whoa,
whoa, whoa, pause. This is a good idea. They were planning it
in the comments section. I’m like, wait, wait. We can do this. Exactly, and I’m
like, we can do this. And so we did it. I think it was last
year, December-ish, when they suggested it. And so we got
together, laid it out, and we went this past October,
the 11th through the 15th. So 10 days ago is
when we got back. That’s amazing. That’s incredible. So we had like 30 people and
myself, we went on a cruise, and it was a five day one. So I kind of baby stepped it. Like five days at sea. I did a post-even survey. Everyone was asking for
seven days plus, what ports they wanted
to come out of, and really getting that feedback
of what they wanted, what they needed more of to make sure that
we make sure those things are covered in the next events. But I will say, it’s important–
any event that you do– that you have a team, and
this team doesn’t have to be as formal as you think. So when I started, I
hired an event planner, because I was like, I don’t
know anything about this life. So she handled it. Then I had for my cruise, I had
an event planner, the travel agent, and one of my team
members handled social. For my Expo, I do have
a whole production team, because there’s like
10,000 moving pieces, but I still have people who
have either contributed, who volunteered, who have
worked with the brand and knew the brand
in different ways. So it was just like baby steps. And do you just choose
people you know or do you use like word of mouth to
ask around for recommendations? Usually it’s people
who have shown up for events in the past. There’s a volunteer
from last year who kicked butt at registration. And I was like, girl,
send me your resume. Tell me about your life. Because she just really
sharp, and I love that. And so I was like, OK. So now she’s helping me get
my operation life together as we grow. She’s like, oh, no. I do this kind of stuff. I love doing SOP stuff. And I’m my girl, I’m
holding on to you, because I don’t like that. I don’t. So I’m glad you do. Right, but I mean it’s
like being able to identify and having like this– when you’re able to get
your people offline, you’re able to see them
and really kind of observe what they can do, and who they
are, and what skills they have. You talk to them
one-on-one and may realize, like this person is like
a director of marketing for a credit card company,
and you’re like, hey, girl. So when you realize this stuff,
when you have these events, and you connect with
them, and you actually talk to the people
who come, you’ll find that you have an amazing
support system already built in. And just about everyone
who is on my team, in one shape or form, has
started off as a reader. That’s really inspiring, and
I think the key takeaway– you’ve got so many that you’ve
said already– but one of them is actually talking and
listening to the people when you’re at events
and allowing people to shine in what
they’re really good at. Yes, yes, because at the end
of the day, it’s not about you. It’s about the community
that you’re serving, and I think it’s
important that– and oftentimes, I do
remind myself of that too. Because I may be
like, oh, I wish that. Or why couldn’t this happen? But when I realize that
the more that I either shared part of myself as part
of the journey going along with them, or where I
actually paused and listened to what they needed
and delivered on that, that’s when things really
grew for the brand. Yeah, absolutely. So guys, if you have a
question for Marie, I am here. We are here. Anything from her
blogging journey to how she’s built this amazing
team, all of her events. I’m going to go ahead
and segue to– you were talking about
identifying what people were really great at. You are really, really
great at many things, but at affiliate marketing
you are quite the ninja, and so that’s right. So we have a lot of
publishers who are really killing in the ad game, but who
affiliate marketing can seem like a pretty foreign concept. So if somebody wanted
to get started, where would you
recommend they go? So actually, before
you even figure– if you hear like little–
it’s my dog in the background. My dog is Mocha, so she’s
like running back and forth. Mocha. But when it comes to
affiliate marketing, first, it’s really about making
sure you have the content to support it, because if
you don’t know your voice, you can easily turn
into a used car salesman and nobody likes that. So when you are
approaching it, it’s really important that
you know your voice, that you built up content,
and trust, and consistency with your audience
before you think about monetization in any form. Or if you’re launching with
monetization, understanding how you’re going
to tie it in so it feels very organic to the
content that you’re writing. So for me in my
process, I’ll look at like what’s trending, what
are some SEO searches, what are my readers searching in my
search box, what is trending on Facebook and social media. So I look at those
key indicators to kind of understand
where traffic is going. I know that people– with plus size
women, it’s always wide calf boots is
a huge search thing. So for me, I had loved boots. So talking about boots is
going to be an easy thing, but if I’m going to
do a roundup of boots, I’m going to search
first for what I love and then find the
affiliate link for it rather than searching for a
products with affiliate links. There’s a different
approach to that. It’s not about the
affiliate link first, it’s about the product first,
especially when I do roundups, especially because
we are a resource. So we are known, if you’re
looking for something, you’re going to find it. So that’s the mindset
that you kind of have to be in first
when you’re going into working with affiliates. So for me, I would
start first making sure that you have your– you also might want to look
at like being self-hosted, because depending on the
platforms and the affiliate programs that you join, you
may not be able to use the full range of products that these
affiliate companies have because of .blogspot
or, you can’t put those banner
ads up the way that you want to, or there’s restrictions, or
you can’t embed certain widgets the way you want to. So think about being
self-hosted, because that’s going to be major. You’re going to
want an “about you.” You want to make sure that
your brand is in good standing, or whatever affiliate
program you applied to, that you’re mindful
of their restrictions. So whether it’s casinos– there’s certain
drinks– alcohol– there’s certain restrictions
that some affiliate brands have restrictions on. That’s just part of what it is. So you want to be
mindful of those things. But then you have multiple
different platforms that you can join. Some of my favorites– am I taking your
questions away from you? You’re doing great
is what you’re doing. So I’m just going to
sit here like this. And so with affiliate
marketing, you do have some brands that have
their own individually owned, run, and managed platforms. I’m not a fan of
those, because I’m not about to go and track down 40
different individual brands, affiliate programs, and apply– I can’t. So I usually go with
more of the main ones. So LinkShare,
Commission Junction, Pepperjam, ShareASale, then you
have rewardStyle and ShopStyle. There is Affiliate Window. I’m not a big fan
of them right now. Maybe if they change
the user interface– just keeping it real. Please do. But those– I’ll probably
say that again, just in case I said that too
fast for everyone. Yes. LinkShare, Commission
Junction, Pepperjam, ShareASale, rewardStyle,
and ShopStyle, and those are my favorite,
especially as they’re most related to my content. So there are tons of
other different platforms with affiliate
link opportunities. I just tend to work with
these, because they capture most of the plus size
brands in one place, or the supporting
type of products that the plus size women uses
in one place, or a few places. And so that’s kind
of where you start, by submitting applications
and joining these programs. I guess, go ahead and ask,
because I’m all like– go ahead. There’s a lot, and I
want you to do all that. So a lot of people
just think that Amazon is all you need in terms
of affiliate marketing. I don’t even use Amazon. Because? Well, one, I can use
Amazon via rewardStyle. Two, Amazon has so many
different restrictions, or rules, and regulations,
and I just don’t have time. I don’t have time to also
put all these extra things in my sidebar that they
require and request just for one affiliate program. And then also too, if I’m
using an affiliate– and most of the times I’ve
negotiated directly with Nordstrom or
Macy’s themselves to have a higher
percentage rate– so I’ll just go
through directly. Yeah, I’d definitely
go through directly for a higher percentage rate. So when you were talking about
finding the product first and then finding
the affiliate link, I’ve heard and have
spoken with people who they will rep products that
they haven’t necessarily tried or they haven’t necessarily– do you know what
I’m talking about? Yeah. How do you feel about that? In fashion, it’s a
little bit different, especially when we’re
grabbing– so some other things, I may already have an
affinity or an awareness to the designer. Especially because, one, I’ve
worked in retail for so long that I have an awareness
of these different brands. So for me, I’ll know
which brands do what. I may not own Stuart
Weitzman, but I know Stuart Weitzman’s
fits in boots. I know that they have a stretch
back on most of their boots, so if you have a wider calf,
you can definitely look to them. I may not have a– do you know what I mean? Yeah, absolutely. So I know something
for its look and feel, and looking at
its description, I know what they’re talking about. So for me, I lean on my
experience, and my education, and my knowledge of
retail and that world in order to know when
I’m suggesting something. I’m not just suggesting
it because it’s $250. I’m suggesting it because
it’s a great look. It’s solving a problem,
it’s fashion, it’s cute, and I got to have it. I want it. And that’s the best. You can’t get more
authentic than that, than having an authentic voice
and saying, I want this thing. I don’t have this thing. You want this thing too. So let’s pause for a second. We’ll jump back into the
affiliate marketing world, but I want to pause. I’m having too much fun
hearing you talk about fashion. So now I want to talk
about your must-have looks. Let’s do holiday season 2018. What are you just like– give it to me, give it to me. Everything sequins, bold fur– the faux fur and
color is a big thing. Like I saw and I totally
want this royal blue faux fur jacket. And then I just posted
on my personal page a sequence and faux fur
mixed media jacket situation. And I’m like– Yes. Plus because I’m a California
girl living in Georgia and it’s freezing. And I don’t care
what anybody says, but I’m a California
girl living in Georgia, so I need all the jackets
and all the boots. You’re like, let me repeat,
California girl in Georgia. Right, and so the
other day I woke up and was like
40-something degrees. And I’m like, yo,
where did fall go? I don’t understand. This is winter. I need all of the plaid,
the menswear inspired cuts. Like there’s this jacket that
goes all the way to the floor, and it’s plaid, and it’s by Fame
& Partners, and it’s so sexy. I need that in my life. But you’re going to see a lot
of plaids and menswear suit inspiration. I’m here for that. Give me the leather. Always, all the leather. But yeah, those are
some of my favorites. Favorite brands, where should
we go check this stuff out? Oh, that’s like having me choose
a favorite kid or something. It all depends on the mood. It all the mood, right? So Eloquii’s great for on trend,
really great quality pieces. Ashley Stewart has
some fun things. Nordstrom, Macy’s– I’m
looking at my closet right now. Like Universal Standard,
Christian Omeshun, Courtney Noelle, Prim– there’s so many. Rachel Pally– girl, I’m a
walking encyclopedia of brands. I hit the goldmine. You’re there. So that was a quick
break, then maybe we’ll talk about some shoes
a little bit later. So how do you know if
an affiliate marketing program is good for you? How long do you try it out? Well, honestly, I don’t
leave any of them, unless like I just
don’t use them. And then probably
due to inactivity, they’re like bye, girl. And I’m like, OK, I
wasn’t using you anyways. But the ones that
work the best for me are the ones that are constantly
feeding me information and resources to use. So one thing that I like a lot
about LinkShare and Commission Junction– I will actually highlight
Commission Junction. They have what’s called a
“content certified program.” And so their content
certified program means that you’re
kind of like an– you’re recognized as a content
producer, a content publisher, or a blogger. And so when you
apply for it, you get approved to a higher
tier automatically, your higher tier of percentage. And then you also have
additional opportunities for sponsored posts right
directly through the program. Oh, that’s awesome. Pepperjam just actually
launched Influence, which is like an
influencer platform, but it’s with all of their
Pepperjam affiliate marketing brands. That’s so cool. So whether it’s like negotiating
for a higher percentage rate. I’ve seen some
people negotiate 25%. Wow. I’ve never reached
that part yet, but– But you got a car. Yeah, I guess. But when you start to
realize what brands are performing really
well, you leverage that as a negotiating tool. Like, hey, you guys are
constantly in my top five or my number one moving brand. Can we talk percentages? Can we talk raising the
amount of percentage? So the average in retail can go
anywhere from as low as 3% up towards 15-ish%. So it all depends, and
that’s just in clothing. But once you go to
technology, travel, hotels, hosting programs, like the
business side of things, it’s all over the place. Some pay more a flat
cash fee per booking. So there are
different arrangements that already are
built. It’s just a matter of which
ones make the most sense for you and your brand. Do you do any pay per
lead or pay per click or is it all pay per sale? How does that work for you? So ShopStyle used
to be pay per click. They are moving over
to pay per sale. I’m really sad about that. It all depends on how
your traffic moves. So if you have a high
traffic site just because, or something goes viral, or
every time someone clicks and clicks through to the brand,
you get a percentage of– you get a small payment
kind of goes through. It’s not a whole lot,
but it starts to add up. But then pay per
sale, that’s where you get the higher commissions
and the higher dollar amount back. So right now, most of the things
I do is more just pay for sale. So what is a good commission? And I know that this is
probably a really hard question to answer, but is
there a certain price point of a product
that you’ll say, that’s not worth my selling it? Is there a certain
place you cut off? No, because again,
it’s about what product that I’m sharing with my reader. What problem am I solving? Am I in love with it? Even with my contributors when
they do their own roundups, I go back and I may
edit their roundups, because a piece may not speak
to the brand’s aesthetic. So yeah, they may
have chose a piece that was from Kohl’s, well,
that one doesn’t pop enough. So I may go back to Kohl’s and
look for another piece that really is like, hmm. It’s giving that oomph in a way. So it’s more about the
pieces that are striking, or that’s going to move you,
or invoke some kind of emotion. So I looked to that first
before I am motivated by– and I don’t even pay
attention to price point. And actually, price
point is more of a thing that I don’t really
always talk about. Because in the
plus space, it was about finding the
resources and the items. I wanted them to focus
on what was available versus the cost of what
was available, because it could derail the conversation. But that was an
intentional move. That’s great. So how do you make sure
that you’re signing up for a safe affiliate program? What are the things
you need to look at? Reading the T&C, do I need a
lawyer to do all this stuff? No, you don’t need
a lawyer, but it’s good to read over
what are the things. So if you’re someone
who’s constantly bidding on words,
like via AdWords, then you definitely want
to review everything, because almost every
affiliate does not allow for you to review or
to bid on their brand name and belong to the
affiliate program. Like you can’t do that. So that’s like something,
if that’s what you do– if you’re over there
bidding for, you wouldn’t be able to
join the Macy’s program or you’d get kicked out. But I find that it’s
best to join the programs that I mentioned above, because
they also look out for you too. They’re bona fide. They’re real. And then they have
different people. I have no problem reaching
out to an account manager and being like, hey. Like even now, like
for holiday season, CJ did like a really
dope spreadsheet of the brands that are doing
active holiday gift guide activations. So I’m able to go
and pitch this brand, and be like, hey,
let’s work together. So I have the support
from the CJ team, and then I get the
contact of whoever is running the affiliate program. We’re able to talk and then
kind of make some magic. That’s awesome. And then it’s no different
from a regular sponsored post. And they’re providing you
with all that information. Because obviously,
again, they want you to sell in the same way
that Mediavine provides you with all the information we can. We want you to do well. We want you to make money. Why wouldn’t we? Exactly. So you talked earlier about
having that great content that you have to have first. How do you write content that
sells without being salesy? How do you stay
authentic to your voice and still make your living? I think because I’ve
been in sales for so long that I have learned how
to read people in a way or have that
conversation where it’s about getting more to the root
of what they’re looking for. And some I’m like, listen. I know that you’ve been looking
for this, but I need you to– and I will talk to
them, like, girl. I know you’ve been
looking for this, but we’re going to need for
you to pause for a second and consider this,
and this is why. That’s how we’re having
this conversation. So when it comes to– Eloquii just dropped
some new arrivals. Here are our five favs for fall. It doesn’t feel authentic. We’ve been talking about Eloquii
all the fun stuff they do. We’ve been talking about
what’s here for fall and what pieces we love. Now we’re just going to show
you our favorite pieces. So you see, we lay
the foundation. And even one of the
most passive ways that you can actually
leverage this is I have resource pages on my site. So whether it’s
plus size designers, whether it’s plus size bridal
boutiques and resources, whether it’s wide calf
boots, these pages are static pages
with affiliate links. But I’ve optimized these pages
with images, with content, and whatever so that
they’re indexed. So if someone’s looking
for wide calf boots, it will come up in
a Google search, and all those links
are affiliate links. Not bad. Smart cookie. So how do you drive
traffic from social media? How do you use social
media in affiliate sales? Do you? Not as much as I
see other people do. I wish that I did
more, but I’m still trying to figure out
how I want to do that. I’m horrible on Instagram. As a fashion blogger, really? I’m surprise to
hear you say that. Girl, I mean because my
reader is on Facebook. So especially age and with the
demo, she’s more on Facebook. She is on Instagram. I am there, but
it’s very like, I need to get my whole life
together, and fix that, and have a better
flow of everything. So I’m working on it. Well, you’ve been on a cruise. Right, I need to get time to
get back to life and everything. But with everything
else, I feel like it’s important that with social
media that it makes sense and it doesn’t just seem like– with some people I’ve seen
them do it really well. Like, girl, let me show
you this new thing that I’m about to add to my closet. I’m making this mine. And it makes sense and
it feels like them. But then there’s
some people that’s all they do is push, push, push. And you’re like, are
you wearing that, girl? Are you really wearing that? Yeah, I hear you. It’s got to be authentic. I got to believe you. Right, I try it, but it’s
a very interesting thing. So it’s one of those things
where you kind of got to force yourself into it. But you’ve got to find a
way that it works for you. Right, because even when people
talk to me about Pinterest, and they’re like you can use
affiliate links in Pinterest, I’m like, girl. I’d rather drive that traffic
to my blog and to my website and then have them
go through there. But maybe I’m short
changing myself. I haven’t really tried
it, so I don’t know. And this will then bring
us to when you’re driving– so your main funnel is to
bring them to your site. Of course. That’s where you
want them to go. Well, that’s not
necessarily an of course. A lot of people don’t. They’re fine with keeping
people on their social and not bringing– so what– Let me tell you, last
week YouTube went down, and everybody lost their
mind for like 10 minutes. Yep, you’re right. You can’t build your life
on someone else’s platforms. You can’t. Because at the end of
the day, if Facebook decided to close shop, or if
Twitter gave up and they tried, or if Pinterest was
like, you, we’re good, what you going to do? It’s always important to
build your own newsletter list, because that– so speaking
of affiliates and newsletters. Please. So we have a snail mail
that comes out every– well, we’re picking it back up– but every Friday,
it’s snail mail. Because you just got paid,
and there’s all these sales that are happening. So we sent a list
of all the sales that are happening
from our affiliates right to your mailbox. It’s genius. All of the sales that are
happening within the plus size world we send in
one fancy email. Love it. I love it. And so every time I talk–
because I ran a very small affiliate program before
I came to Mediavine– email sells. Email sells to brands. Collect your list, period. I wish that was one
thing that I wish that I did at the beginning. First it was like– what was it called? What was the RSS feed? FeedBurner. Everyone was using
FeedBurner as their means to disseminate
information, and I wish that instead of
FeedBurner as my primary source of capturing information, I
actually built my newsletter from when I started. If a brand is smart, they
know that’s what sells. It’s always what
sells, so have it. And acquiring an email is the
most expensive acquisition, but it’s the easiest
one once you’ve put in the work of laying the
foundation, earning your trust, and that’s one thing that nobody
else can take away from you. Yeah, absolutely. So give us a quick crash
course in acquiring emails. How do you recommend
people do that? At the end of blog
posts, on a sidebar via pop up, exit intent, and
then also on your social media platforms. So sign up for our
newsletter on Facebook. Some of the different
newsletter companies actually have like
little tabs that could be set up so that people
can join your newsletter right via Facebook
or using an image to then link to get people to
sign up for your newsletter. Do you incentivize yours? Sometimes. Not so much. I do when I do giveaways. I will give them five points
for joining our newsletter. Some people require a
newsletter join in order to enter into a giveaway. I don’t. I just incent,
weight it heavier, because I don’t want
that person just joining the newsletter for
giveaways because then it’s like dead weight. I just purged 25,000 people
from my newsletter list, because I’m like,
you haven’t opened– but I didn’t delete them. I just purged them from
my active subscription, because best believe I’m
about to hit those subscribers via Facebook and retarget. Yeah, that’s right. That’s right. So talk to me. How much do you use
social media ads? Zero, but I’m trying
to figure out Facebook. I’ve found some people
who can help me, because I ain’t got the time,
nor am I savvy enough to like– they’re over here like whittling
down Facebook audiences and doing all this. I’m like just take my money
and just do it for me. And that’s such a
good thing to know. It’s like I don’t have
the capacity for this, and you are good at it already. And you know what? I think that’s the
problem sometimes too. It’s like us, as bloggers,
we end up having 20 hats on. And realize that sometimes
we will save ourselves time, stress, and money by
actually firing ourselves from certain positions, and
roles, and responsibilities. When, yeah, this person
may cost a little bit more than what you may
be comfortable, but the peace of mind,
like you trying to do it, and then you failing
horribly and having to have someone come back
and fix what you’ve broken, you may end up
paying doubly for it. Yes. You’re wearing 20 hats. Some of them are not cute. Take them off. Some of them don’t fit. They’re over here
like the bugler, like they’re covering your eyes. Or they look like the
hot dog on a stick, because they’re too small. It’s propped up on
the top of your head. Nobody’s winning there. No, not at all. So quickly, as we’re
running out of time, which makes me
depressed, but how do you see a balance between–
because spoiler alert, Marie works with Mediavine for
her full service ad management company. How do you see a balance
between affiliate sales and ads, because some people say
that it does not mix? Affiliate sales and ads? Using an affiliate and then
having ads on your site. Do you find that ads are
cannibalizing your affiliate sales? No. No, not at all? It’s all about how– you
have to know your content, you have to know your
audience, and you have to know what’s going
to work best for them. So even when you join Mediavine
and you’re looking at the ad display, it may seem
like a whole lot or it may not be enough. You tweak what
works best for you, and that just falls into
your site design, the user experience. Then you have to
look at your content. What type of content
are you delivering? If every post is a
round up, then it’s going to be a problem,
and not every link that I have on my site
is not an affiliate link. So it’s finding
that mixture of– if I love this new indie
brand, it’s a new indie brand. They’re not going to
have an affiliate link. That doesn’t mean you
don’t write about them. For me, I have a big affinity
towards and indie brand, so I’m going to feature and
showcase them more often. But I balance that by
having the few posts that do bring in residual income,
because they are affiliate ads or affiliate links. So I think it’s more
about really understanding your user experience, your site
design, and your content flow, and how you manage those
three, because that way you’ll be able to kind of get
a bigger and more accurate picture of what it is that
your user is experiencing. Love that. And we’ve just had so many– and I know that you kind
of gave me a look like, girl, what are you talking
about, when I asked that. But there are some
people who really do think that those are
diametrically opposed, that ads and
affiliate sales, it’s too much on their audience. They won’t have the
ads on the posts where there’s affiliate sales. So here’s the funniest thing. What they don’t realize is that
some of their favorite news sites are using affiliate links. They don’t even
realize that when they go to Reader’s
Digest, or to Good Morning America, or these
major publishers, they’re using affiliate links. And I just happen to know,
because a lot of my friends are journalists or
freelancers who write, and they’re pitching
looking for brands that are actually on Amazon. They look specifically
for Amazon links. So you’ve got to stop thinking– as a publisher, you have
to stop thinking about you. You have to start looking
at things from an experience outside of your site,
outside of your brand, and look at what the
marketplace is already bearing. Buzzfeed uses– Affiliate links and ads. Vogue, InStyle– every site
is using affiliate links, and they have ads. So it’s just about the
balance and finding what works best for you. Tara said, you know
Buzzfeed is getting paid for all those Etsy roundups. Yes, girl. They are. They are, because Etsy
pays a nice little penny, a percentage, the more–
they’re performance-based ones. So, yes, girl. Yes, Tara. So it’s like these
sites are already doing it, so don’t
think that you’re giving your reader
an experience that’s going to be so off putting,
because they’re already experiencing this in
almost every other site that they’re visiting. You’re just fine
tuning it and making it work for your
site and your brand in ways that work best for you. Now, but don’t discount yourself
and literally leave money on the table, because you’re
just unaware of these tools that are already being used. It’s important that
you really kind of– what do you call it– scan the marketplace
and see what’s going before you start
saying, no, no, no, because you’re hurting yourself. Absolutely. And I think in terms
of comparisons, if you’re trying to
compare your site to– would you rather compare your
site to another very small blog or would you rather compare
your site to InStyle? I’m going to go with InStyle. I’m going to maybe
say that InStyle would be a better choice for that. So go for it. Are you getting a
ton of unsubscribes? Then maybe think
about what you got to do or think about how
you got to just adjust, monitor your traffic, test. Tara– let me just ask. Tara says, that’s why I
don’t use Affiliate Window, exactly why. She answered a survey,
they’re hard to use. They seem really backwards. Yeah, like they’re not
really user friendly at all. And so one brand hit me
up, and they were like, oh, we’re moving to
Affiliate Window. I was like, bye,
but I’m not coming. Have fun. You have fun, and– And I’m like– –close the window. Exactly, but I told them
why I wasn’t coming. And they were like,
oh, well, you know they are working on improving. I’m like, well, you got to do
some leaps and bounds, honey, because I’m staying right here. So I’m going to ask you the
Mediavine rah, rah, question. Tell us why you were on
Mediavine for full service ad management? What makes you happy here? It’s easy, for lack
of a better word. It’s kind of like a
set it and forget it, but not really, because
like everyone tries to strive for teal. I don’t always get the
teal, like the teal marks, like all teal, like all the– Yeah, your site health lights? Yeah, the health lights. I don’t always get
those checked off. But I also appreciate
the level of support, and the transparency,
and the education, because there’s like these lives
that pull from the audience to share. I appreciate anytime
I have a question, within an hour or two,
they’re like, hey, girl. This is the answer. Or they’re on my behind,
because I’m like, hey. I’ve redesigned my site. I need you to take
a look and see. And they’re like,
oh, this works. Or hey, Marie, you still haven’t
changed this thing right here. You need to fix this. And I’m like, oh, here I go. There’s that support both
ways to make sure that I’m– what’s the word–
compliant and to make sure that I’m able to make as much
passive income as possible. We’re always here for that. We are always here for
that, and we appreciate you saying those things. So last question. I’m going to do a little
bit of an announcement before we get there. Someone is wanting to
next level their business, their blogging business. What is two pieces
of advice you would give them to start doing today? Create an editorial calendar. Get your content
consistent and engaging. So make sure that you’re
feeding your audience and feeding them consistently,
because any time they’re hungry, they will come
back and eat from you. Love it. They know your food is good. They will continue to eat it. Consistent content is key– consistent, fulfilling content. And you want to feed
them without them feeling like they’re being fed. So I will always throw
pieces of educational things about products, or the
brand, or the industry so they’re like, oh, shit. I don’t know that. So there’s that. And two, don’t be afraid
to try something new. I think we get stuck
sometimes in what works and we end up missing
opportunities. And the beauty of
blogging is that you’re able to react and
adjust very quickly. Whereas, many other brands
and larger organizations have to go through 10 lines
of approvals before something can be changed. Adapt, adjust, and
have fun with it. I love it. You have been an amazing,
amazing, amazing guest. We’ve had such a good
time with you here. I appreciate you taking the
time to come talk with me. Oh, thank you so
much for having me. I’m so happy to have
been thought of to speak. So, thank you. Always. On the next one, two weeks from
now, I have Stephie Predmore. She is our director of
influencer marketing. She’s a food blogger
herself at stephiecooks. She and I are going
to talk media kits, influence on marketing
campaign rate negotiations, PR. We’re going to talk
all those things about working with brands and
getting your name out there. And again, thank you to
my wonderful guest, Marie, the curvy fashionista herself. Marie Denee, thank you again. Everybody have a wonderful week. Happy Halloween. Thanks, guys, have a great day.

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