Working with Brands as a Pro Food Blogger & Content Creator for Hire with Janel of @MizNellieBellie

Working with Brands as a Pro Food Blogger & Content Creator for Hire with Janel of @MizNellieBellie

I have a very special guest today. Mr. Nell Hutton. She is a professional blogger and contract content creator at Nelly belly. Welcome, Janelle. Hi. Thanks for having me. Yeah. So we've actually known each other I think we met three years ago, almost. And 2015. It was my very first blogger event. And it was in St. Paul. And I didn't know anyone and you were there. So yeah, you've been in the game for a long time. You're an old hat. Original. So tell us your story. How did you get started blogging.

Janel Hutton 1:36

So I've been blogging for about seven years, actually, since 2011, which is about the original, but I'm older than. And I got into it simply as a storage mechanism initially. So I was a youth director and a library director. And in that field, you get a lot of curriculum, craft ideas. And so when I quit that, I had a lot people asking me for all of these resources that I had used. So I use the internet as a source of storage. Yeah, and could send them to this place and say, Hey, I don't want to email you, I don't want to have to drop it off at your house, just go here and print it, whatever. And that was there for about three or four months. And I got an email from the team from Martha Stewart, and they their paint company, and they wanted to work with me and do a craft. And that was the first time I even had any idea that you could make make money. And then of course, from there, I kind of had to go look and see what this was all about. So that's about Yeah, how I got started.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 2:33

So it was originally like crafts

Janel Hutton 2:36

most younger. So Originally, it was called Haiti, Martha. Oh, because I know. Yeah, it was hating Martha, because I was making fun of

how I didn't think you needed to be perfect. And so and I had to change it because of course, the first guy to work with me was Martha Stewart and they didn't. Yeah. So we changed the name to what is my childhood nickname. So that's how that kind of came about. So Nelly belly

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 3:03

Nelly belly. Yes. Do people ask you about that a lot. The name? I yeah,

Janel Hutton 3:07

I'm not as much as you would think. I actually had a lot of people who call me Nelly. So I will do that. Because I go to a conferences or go to a blogger event and they will almost always call me Nelly. And that's how they'll introduce me if I'm not careful to say that. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 3:22

It's a nickname of Janell. Right. Yeah. Oh, yeah, sure. So I mean, it technically is your name. Yeah. Yeah.

Janel Hutton 3:28

And I'm not it doesn't offend. Yeah. Anyway. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 3:31

So funny story. I like met two of your family members randomly. So I met your brother in law, Aaron. He's a friend of mine. And we somehow realize the same last name. And then I know your sister, Linda, who did an event here in New York.

Unknown Speaker 3:47

Yes. Small world. I know. There are a lot of us so. So tell. Tell. Tell us how many siblings you have. I have nine and

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 3:54

10. Yeah, crazy. Yeah. So did you feel like you kind of like the another mother figure that out? Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 4:01

for sure. Most of them come to my house for all the holidays. And for anything like it. There's a celebration. It's gonna be at my house. So yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 4:09

And you live kind of in Stillwater. I

Janel Hutton 4:11

live in Stillwater storage district and one of those old houses.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 4:15

I was there for the ice castles weeks ago. Yes. It was really fun. Yes. I had went up to Stillwater in years. Oh, really? Yeah. Good restaurants. I know. We went to one of the bars one of the sports bar. Hopefully it was a good one. I don't know. It was good. I had a burger. Um, but yeah, so going back to the podcast. This does just random, random information about Chanel. But uh, so you work a lot now with sponsored content and brands, and you're going to be coming out the quarter. So let's get started with that. So you work with Martha Stewart? And then did it just kind of go from there? How did you? Yeah,

Janel Hutton 4:51

it's snowballed. From there. I, once you start with sponsored contents, and you do a good job, you kind of we'll get opportunity after opportunity. It kind of snowballs. Yeah, there's only a small pool of network. companies that do this. There's only a small amount of PR agencies, and they all kind of know what everyone else knows. And so once you start in that, and you're known to do a good job, you kind of continue to get work. So and then there's also you know, there's there's, there's what do they call them, influencer networks, sponsored content, that keep on sending you work if you've proven yourself to do a good job.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 5:27

So what are some of those networks like? So

Janel Hutton 5:30

there'll be places like Zia, clever girls, social spark is another tap influence. Those are the ones that blog meets brand. And so those are all places that, that large brands will go to, and say, Hey, we want this kind of a campaign, these are what we're looking for. And then the company will look through their pool of bloggers defined what that match might be, and then they hire you

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 5:57

Is there a like minimum number are, you know, word view counts on their blog,

Janel Hutton 6:03

um, each of the networks are a little bit different. And of course, the price points different. So I would probably get paid a lot more than someone else would get paid. And it really depends on what the brands are looking for, and where they're looking for. So if you're looking if they're looking for a product to be launched in the Midwest, that's going to dramatically, you know, reduce how many bloggers might be in the Midwest, so they might be willing to hire at a higher price point, someone that wouldn't have gotten that normally. So it really And right now, a year ago, I kind of thought that the sponsored content was going to be going down the drain, and it has just become a whole. Oh, yeah. So even small bloggers now are getting campaigns that probably they never would have been able to a couple years ago. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 6:45

And I think it's because a lot of the banner ads, and a lot of that stuff is kind of gone away. Is that kind of what you see. Yeah.

Janel Hutton 6:51

And I think that the trust factor, when you have a blogger that has built a following for several years, brands can see what they're about. They don't have it's not such a risk. And so they can they kind of know what they're getting already. So they're looking for that trust factor that they can't get as easily by just a simple AD

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 7:12

AD somewhere. So but just for us, yeah, they you have to let us know. Yeah, it's like I think the thing is, is there is so much more competition nowadays. And I think it's easier to work with someone that has trusted followers that aren't just like, oh, you get a lot of followers, but they're not like hardcore, you know, right? And do you have those hardcore followers? Yes.

Janel Hutton 7:33

And I think the other thing, though, too, is even if they're a little bit on the fringe,

you know, I come at it with a unique story of my own, that brands brands can't buy your point of view, they can't buy your experiences, so you're kind of selling their product, through your own experiences and trigger your own point of view. So people resonate with that. And so if you have a large platform, even if they're not diehard followers, like the ones that are going to buy every single product, yeah, yeah. They're still gonna resonate with that much more than a brand, a brand putting a Super Bowl ad up, they're gonna, yeah, it's more effective. And frankly, it's a really good deal. Because, I mean, we do recipe development with development, we do photography, we do video, and I know the price points and I know that they could never hire all of those pieces at the price point. Yeah, getting from because you have that unique.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 8:20

So explain a little bit more about now what you do, because you started as a professional blogger, and now you create, you create content for other companies.

Janel Hutton 8:27

Yep, it's, it's a two part three part business. So we do have the piece of belly belly that everyone sees. If you go to belly belly calm, you're going to see a traditional food blog, where we create the content for the brands. They put it on their site, we use our own social media platforms and you know, the traditional way, but we also create content, recipe development, photography, video and all those things for other brands to utilize on their own platforms. So we just wrapped up with Driscoll, calm Driscoll, Starcom Driscoll, okay. We do events. So we attend if I tend to attend events for brands, I had an ad campaign where we delivered hand dipped strawberries across Wow, to all the media and St. Paul. So, again, they're hiring us, because we've proven ourselves to know marketing to know, you know, how to write how to develop recipes. And so we do a lot of that for brands to put on their own websites for magazines to utilize as their own

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 9:26

stuff, that kind of thing. So it's kind of like your ghost creating. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 9:30

absolutely. We're like, I mean, there's occasions where brands want to say that we are the ones that created it, because it's an additional, they get our followers. Yeah. But often, they just think they're just tired. And they want to just one stop shop.

Finish. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 9:46

So how, how did they find you from that? Is it just word of mouth? Or how do you promote that side of your

Janel Hutton 9:52

Yes, now, I mean, now, we absolutely are constantly being asked to do work. And we are saying no, regularly, when we first started, when we first started with this, there was some pitching. And then what happens is, once you've done a good job for a few to a few times, you rarely have to go looking for work anymore, it will come to you. And so now, we rarely have to go pitch unless there's a specific company we want to work with or something like that.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 10:17

So how do you decide which are the right fit for you?

Janel Hutton 10:20

That is the I personally think that's the most important question when you're working with sponsored content. I believe that that's why we have the work we have for as long as we have because we really, really, really are careful about who we we pick, because you can come off as a giant billboard if you're not careful. And I think it needs to match your brand identity eight needs to match what you say you're about. So I'm not really a healthy food blogger. I'm a comfort food blogger. And so I probably am not going to work with you know, a green smoothie company, because it won't match my brand all that much. And you have to make sure that you're working with a company that you can almost adopt as your own company, like you're so proud of it that you would recommend the person on the street. Sure. And if you don't feel like you could recommend it to the person on the street, you probably shouldn't work with them. And that's hard, because serious cash.

But if you don't say no, you don't have longevity? You don't get to be seven years down the road. Yeah. So getting content. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 11:20

Because sometimes people just want to make a quick buck. And they don't care about the long term effect. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 11:24

I mean, you get so excited that you get offered a job that you just you take it. But the problem is that if you say yes to a brand that isn't really on brand with you who you want to be, you're literally saying no to that other brand, that down the road might have asked you because they go and check your site out, they go and check and see what you've done. And if you have matched up with some companies that they aren't really about, they're not going to ask you to work with them, because they want to be careful for themselves. Yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 11:51

that's so true. Because I think a lot of people just now like except anything. Yeah, I think that's really important to distinguish that. So you are now creating an online course. Yeah, working with brands and all that. So what is that course about?

Janel Hutton 12:08

This podcast? Okay. It is literally about about how to create killer sponsored content that is going to be content that you can be proud of. Because I think a lot of times people are turned off by sponsored content, because they think again, that it's a giant Billboard. And if you do it properly, not only is it good for you to get paid, but you can create the best content for your readers because you have resources disposal that you would maybe normally not have. And so it's it's teaching people how to create really good sponsored content that gets their readers really excited that they're super excited to create, I mean, sometimes I'm making cakes for for companies. And I'm sorry, there are just hardly any better way to make a living than making a cake. So and I get paid for it. And I readers are going to be excited about it. And so you know, being able to say that you're creating sponsored content, but knowing that you're you're loving it. Important. Yeah. And that is how you'll get repeat work is by doing that. So we have a lite version that's going to be all about that this and then we have a full version, that's going to be how we pitch brands, how we take small contracts and turn them into large contracts. How why I think GIFs are important to PR reps, things like that, that their walk through why we're kind of big dogs in the Yeah, the sponsored content in arena right now.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 13:25

Do you think a lot of people locally like Twin Cities, collective members or other people that are bloggers around here? Do you think a lot of people are doing sponsored content? I just think I don't see it a lot here.

Janel Hutton 13:34

No, I think that it's a little bit of a double edged sword. Because I think that there, you have to be at a certain level to be able to get the bigger brands, the bigger companies and that is difficult because you have to be at that level. Yeah. And also, because the resources available to you to find sponsored content kind of happens at a certain level. Yeah. So those Cocos those networks I mentioned earlier, kind of are looking for people around 20,000 pages a month and in over. But what's interesting is that right now, the influencer networking, I call it availability, the the idea of it is become so widely known that local companies, if you approach them will often partner with influence. Yeah. So that is a whole thing, I think, hasn't really been even opened, much in the Twin Cities area, is that these companies that are kind of startups or smaller companies, local companies, usually would love to partner with influencers they just don't know how to do. They don't even know that it's as simple as just asking. Yeah, and paying and pay. I mean, sometimes, you know, you're going to get people who will do it for product and things like that. But yeah, it can actually be quite simple. Yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 14:45

I think that because we talked about it with Bruno on the last podcast a little bit about how to pitch local people. And it was interesting, because I think people just don't do it. You know, I think that's the biggest thing. And even with us at Twin Cities collective, I've never pitched you know, for sponsored content yet. I mean, I'd love to at some point, but at the same time, that's not really our focus, but I want to help those who are trying to get sponsored content. And so yeah, yeah.

Janel Hutton 15:13

So I recommend that, that you make sure you know, the company that you know, what it is you love about the company. So I don't like this blanket pitching.

Unknown Speaker 15:23

You don't? Yeah.

Janel Hutton 15:26

You know, they're about you know, why you like them, you know, what you can do for them? And then you ask, and the worst thing that's going to happen is that they say no, yeah,

Unknown Speaker 15:34

exactly. It's not.

Janel Hutton 15:37

Unless you're asking your your grandma or your mother offended. Yeah. But other than that, I mean, you're really good. Especially if you go into it, knowing that what you can offer to them, and that you are really going to give them a service, you're not just asking them to pay you for for nothing. So if you know you have something to offer, and that you genuine about it, just ask. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 15:57

And I think that's, I think that's the thing that people get stressed about is asking.

Janel Hutton 16:02

Well, and I also think that influencers and bloggers, you know, you hear what you ask someone when they do what they say they're a blogger, there's a little bit of a thing that goes with that. And I mean, I tell people, I'm a blogger, and I, I wish I could lead with like, I make this much money or I'm successful, or you know, because there's a little bit of a they don't take it seriously. I think it's like a hobby. Yeah. And so I think that sometimes we don't understand the value that we have, and that even influencers that may not have huge followings, they still have often as large followings as the company that they want to

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 16:34

represent. And it's all very devoted followers. Yeah, yeah.

Janel Hutton 16:37

And it's a whole different following than the brand or the company already has tapped into. So it's a secondary, it means like allocating their entire following themselves. I think that that's a value that, I think is underestimated.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 16:51

So coming from a brand perspective, what do you think brands look for in the influencers? Do they look for? I don't know, like ratios of likes. I mean, I'm thinking more Instagram now. But like, even like what comes to bloggers and blog content, what we're doing a media kit workshop at the end of the month, and that's kind of going about that, but what do you think brands look for? That is a

Janel Hutton 17:13

multiple, multiple part question. It really, and we talked about this a lot in the course, it really depends on each individual person, because a brand may come to me because of my food photography. And they don't care about my followers, because they want my perspective on food photography, they may come to another blogger, because they have diehard followers that are going to leave comments. And then they can take those comments and use them as reviews later on. They may go to another blogger, because of the literally the follow up counts. It is rarely follower count anymore. And it's rarely the number of page views. In fact, brands before they even come to you, they already know those numbers, they can look all that up easily. And they don't have to even ask, so they're coming to you for something that you have to be your location. It could be your perspective, it could be the way you do photography, it could be your videos, anything like that. So I think the best thing is for people to know what their strengths are in their, in their world and utilize that as best as they can. And that's where they can go back to a brand and prove their worth over like over my stuff. Like if there's a blogger smaller than me that has devoted fans, and they're able to get those fans to go over to the website and leave 25 really heartfelt comments, I can outperform me, because of because that's what's valuable to the brand. So it really is about what's valuable to the brand. I will say that brands are looking for. They want someone dependable, that's becoming harder and harder for them to find crew that makes deadlines that gets it's easy to email back and forth with. And often I think bloggers kind of want to go from A to Z, they want to go from zero paid $2,000 up content without working that. Yeah, that's true. So you know, you kind of you have to kind of work your way through the ranks a little bit and be willing to kind of start without lower amounts to get to bigger amounts. Yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 19:06

we did an event on micro influencers, which is people between 1010 thousand followers, like on Instagram, and what are your thoughts on that? Do you think that's like a thing happening? Or? Well, I would consider that

Janel Hutton 19:18

really? Oh, absolutely not, we do not have the followers on Instagram that are strong, a strong social media platform, because I'm terrible at it. One of those people.

We keep it because it's asked for by brands. And we're trying and we're

probably hire somebody. But micro influencers are absolutely hot right now. Yeah. Because again, even if they're not going to pay for a full package, what's happening is brands are now understanding that they can hire micro influencers for specific platforms versus what used to happen, where I'd be hired for the entirety of a campaign for every single platform. Now I can be hired, like, for another brands platform, they'll hire me just for content and recipes, they can kind of pick and choose who is the strongest and what they want. And so if you're really good at Instagram, and even if even five or 10,000, sometimes those micro influencers can still make some serious money with that. They just have to know where to look. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 20:21

And I think I think there needs to be like some sort of resource locally, you know, for like how the nuts i. So earlier last year, I wanted to launch this influencer network. And that was something I wanted to do is connect the bloggers to the brands. That was something I wanted to do. But it was just so much like, daunting. And I was like, Okay, I'm going to like put this on the back burner. I still have this collective and we have the biggest blogging group in the in the state. Like I don't, I don't think that can be disputed. There's no other really like competition. But what's interesting is we have all the influencers, but we also have brands inside of the group. So it's interesting, because I'm like they could just work together. Yeah, group. So that's, to me, that's interesting. Like, there's people that are launching products, and they want to work with an influencer. And there's already an influencer in the group. So for me, it's interesting trying to figure out how, how does that work as a business?

Janel Hutton 21:12

Well, I think there's also a little bit of a lack of education on the side of businesses that don't understand how to work with influencers like that. I kind of wish I could gather them all. And I'm like, Okay, these are the steps. Yeah, it's not that hard. It's, um, and I think they're scared of it, like some other like releasing power to another, I think it's a risk for them.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 21:31

Because they're like spending money. And who knows if it'll work? Yeah, that I think that it might be a Midwest thing, too, because I think I said it aggressive? Well, it's just I think that on both coasts, I think it's, it's like been established for a long time. And I think here, it's like, people are a little bit more stingy with their money, and they don't want to put it into something that could potentially not work, you know? Well, you know, I think it's so interesting, though, is it

Janel Hutton 21:57

blows my mind. So we teach small businesses and bring them stores, how to work with social media and online businesses. And it blows my mind how much money they will spend on Facebook ads? Oh, yeah, where Facebook ads are like duplicating their same people. Again, if you work with an influencer for a quarter of the price, some of these influencers will work for product or tickets, you're getting a whole audience. Plus, you're getting referrals, which we you know, because I person's referring you the value of a referral, we know is just dollars. So it blows my mind that they have tapped into the power and the actual savings of utilizing influencer networks because how much money they'll spend on Facebook ads Google Ads Yeah, I mean, they don't even know what they're doing half the time they'll throw money no

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 22:43

don't throw money at a wall and see if it sticks

Janel Hutton 22:45

Yeah, so you know influencer marketing at least these influencers. I mean, they've got fees and feeds feeds of photos, or they've got websites, you can read who they are well in advance. Yeah. So it's, it's not that much of a risk, considering they're throwing money in Facebook anyways. So I

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 23:00

don't know, I do think that the, I guess the conversion rate on Instagram seems to be better, like then a lot of things because I'm more likely to buy something even though I know it's sponsored. But like, it's like, I want to support that person. Almost. It's like, their followers are like, Oh, that's so cool. Like, I want to get that to whatever their whatever promoting, you know,

Janel Hutton 23:20

I also think there's a generational thing. So is it I'm older than you are. So I might whatever, you don't look at it all. Because we're like the Oregon trailers.

Little five year pocket between Gen X and the millennial. Yeah.

So anyways, Instagram is very powerful for your for the, what is your generation called? millennial, the millennial Oh, my gosh,

because of the need for connection to the people to the story, yes, of who is behind the brands? And I think that's why bloggers have we have such power right now is because everyone wants to connect with what the Bye, totally, and on Facebook. That's the generation baby boomers are doing that. So it really is like, that's why brand new brands are in sponsored content is powerful is because these brands have already determined who their audiences where they're going to be and who they need to help influence that. And if you're in the role of Instagram, they've determined you're probably going to be reaching the millennials. And they're looking for stories, and they're looking to connect with who those people are. And that's why even if you're a micro influencer, it doesn't matter. Because you've got five to 10,000 followers that are going to be connected to your story. Yeah, that's true. Whereas Facebook, it's not as story oriented. So it's not as powerful as Instagram is,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 24:38

but it is a lot more. And I want to talk about this video oriented. So we wanted to talk about video, because you were telling me about this thing that I had never heard of where you can create your own content, put it on your website and get ads from it. Can you explain this whole process? Yeah,

Janel Hutton 24:52

I'm, I want to make sure I clarify that I don't know if it to be at a certain point, okay to get to this. So right. So I work with an advertising company that right all of my ads, and one of the things that we have as a video player, so I have my own video channel ish thing. I don't know the tech. And so when we create video, we, we send our video files to our advertising company, they send me back code, and I embed that code on my site. And then all of my own ads are embedded within that video. And so we make income off of all the video so we don't use YouTube. I mean, I I'll put videos up on YouTube simply because that's just what you do SEO. But we have make absolutely no money for for anything on video. So when we do Facebook Lives, I do Facebook live simply because Facebook loves them. But we also can download a video of Facebook Lives and then we can edit it a little bit, send it over to our advertising company and then re upload it to the recipe that it matched. So it's like a double whammy kind of thing. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 25:51

So that's really cool. Because I know, Facebook, or Facebook is really focused on video right now until you mentioned the Facebook Live. But then YouTube has also changed some of their monetization rules. And if you heard about this, oh, yeah, yeah. So you have to have at least 1000 followers at least 4000. Or our, for the last year. So for me, I have about 700 followers on YouTube, so I'm probably gonna lose my Google preferred partner thing, which is gonna suck. Yeah, we are. We're going to lose it. Yeah, we

Janel Hutton 26:19

don't even have 1000. No, but we don't.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 26:23

Well, yeah, I also haven't been like, I need to like get subscribers it for me. It's more just for fun. Like, I don't really use YouTube as like a real like platform. But I just kind of post a video once a month or something. But yeah, it's interesting how that you can use other things to make money on ads. I had never heard of that before. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 26:40

and again, I don't I work with ad thrive. I'll make sure to say that if anyone's using ads are either a big company, I don't know if there's any other advertising companies that do that. I don't know. But and I know you have to have a certain size company, but it's a very, very cool thing. We love it. I mean, I make videos or someone making videos and we make income off of So

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 27:00

what kind of videos you do you mentioned it were kinda like tasty videos, are they? Yeah,

Janel Hutton 27:04

because we're food, food, primarily, we do a lot of those Facebook tasty videos, although we're kind of get we are personally getting tired of them really,

as much and I do a Facebook Live. I'll just do that. Okay, and then we will be with this course, there's a lot of videos. So you'll occasionally put up a post related to the course. And then one of the course videos will go up as well. So it's, it just depends. And we try to get them to that certain things. 20 seconds where we make them the first way that Okay, and then that also really dramatically has improved our bounce rate on our on our posts, because of course, they're staying and watching videos. So that's been helpful, too.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 27:44

So this is a question that I had for Bruna also, because he was one of the original like bloggers back in the day before social media. So how is social media impacted Nelly belly? Oh, my God.

Janel Hutton 27:56

It has. So I was not before social media, but I was back in the chronological feed. So back I was a beta on Pinterest. Okay, yep. me back. Yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 28:05

way back when in 2012. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 28:08

you just fed it. Yeah. And as long as you fed it, you just get paid you so we are paid, she was dropped from high, we dropped like, gosh, 25% of what we weren't really funny enough, we're making three times more money five times more money than we had before. So it's good. But I think the hardest part isn't just the algorithm changes and how hard you have to work. I think it's how much you now have to know, and how you're constantly having to learn new things all the time. So as a business owner, I've hired people to help because my brain can't handle any more information. And so I've hired some for Facebook, I've hired someone for Pinterest, we don't do Instagram. So we've dropped some social media platforms that we're not performing with for our audience anyways, because we just don't feel like we wanted to turn and give the energy and the money up to those platforms. But the amount of traffic isn't the same, we have definitely dramatically reduce that traffic, however, it's okay, because everyone else's too. So we were kind of like, you know, everyone's Yeah, it's not like one person has taken over and the rest of them as follows. Right, everyone has kind of everyone. And it's kind of weeded out. We did everyone out a little bit to quality is now becoming the the high priority. So we have quality, original content. And so we've been able to stay there when a lot of people have dropped off because they're the roundup sites, are there the you know, the sites that are kind of not creating that content. Yeah, that's true. So we create at least one or two pieces of content every week. So that's recipe development that we do at least twice a week. So it's kind of nice to be rewarded for that. Yeah.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 29:49

Because I think that blogging has just shifted. I think a lot for people we actually have talked about this a lot is like blog comments, they've kind of not really been a thing anymore. Is that

Janel Hutton 30:00

is that true for you? Absolutely. We had black comments all the time for the first couple years. And now it's a very rare thing. And if it is a comment is often not even a nice comment. So yeah, it's I know a lot of bloggers, large bloggers, I haven't even turned comments off. Oh, yeah, have them anymore. So it's a very, you'll get the the interaction on social media. Yeah. Don't get it on your own on the site. So

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 30:19

and that's why so we have intrinsic collective a Wednesday blog promo feed, or I guess, like a thread. And I looked this week, and almost every single one was an Instagram post instead of a blog post, because I put either a blog post or an Instagram post. And I honestly think a lot of people haven't really focused on blog comments anymore. I think people still want people to read their blogs, but they don't need the comment. You know, right. Right. Interesting. Yeah.

Janel Hutton 30:45

And we also do a lot with email newsletter, okay. And we get a lot of responses back. So when we write email newsletters will get a lot of response back. And that's where our community kind of lesson email.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 30:56

Okay. Yeah, that's interesting. So yeah, because that's a topic that I think is really important, and a lot of people want to know about is email marketing. And I think, why do you find it so important?

Janel Hutton 31:09

I think email marketing is probably more valuable, valuable than social media. Because if you give someone your email, I mean, they say email, an email is like $5, in a sense, because we don't open our email inbox is for just anybody. It's protected. And so if someone has given me their email, they've already given me a level of trust. And so it's remarkably useful for affiliate sales for my own products. But also, it's that conversation that we lost on blog comments, and we've lost a little bit on social media, because they're not seeing everything because of the algorithm.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 31:40

That's Yeah.

Janel Hutton 31:42

So it really is where the community lives is. Because they're opening our emails, I'm usually talking about my personal life a little bit, adding some questions, and then there's always a level of interaction back and forth on that. And I think it's just because I only open emails that I want to open, I delete out all the newsletters, I don't want to read. And so I think it's very valuable. When I get that from people. I know that that's a part of their life that they're sharing with me. And so I try to protect that and take care of that.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 32:13

So how do you get your emails? Is it through opt ins? Or how do you mostly or

Janel Hutton 32:17

mostly through opt ins, we run, we run occasionally we'll run a challenge or like the course will do some launching some Facebook ads. But most of the time, it's all through opt ins, we have several posts that have their like DIY eyes, and they have PDF instructions. And we asked for emails to get the PDFs. That's a really popular thing that happens. We also have several e cookbooks, those kinds of things that people will email for. And then frankly, we do get a lot of people who will send our name, and they'll tell someone to sign up. So

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 32:49

that's cool. I know, word of mouth to the referral. Yeah, I know. So we're Wow, we're lucky with that. So how over the last, I guess you said seven years? How, how does it? How has the world changed for you in terms of blogging, because you started as a blogger, but now you're doing a lot more different things? And then now it's food blogging, too. Yeah. Like, yeah, how has that shift been?

Janel Hutton 33:13

I think the biggest thing has become how diversified we've had to be how much we've had to learn. Yeah, I think one wonderful thing is, is how much we know, because we are now old people in the world. So we have a lot of experience, and that we can kind of, we can kind of almost sell that experience in a job, which is useful. But it's the diversification how much we now have to be able to do how many things we have to know about, I feel like I'm an expert in 25 different things, and have to manage all of them. Even when we're working with brands, which is something we've done for a long time, and we're experts at the differences between even each contract is completely different. The things that we do even within that word, it was used to be like a straightforward, you could just like bang these things out. Yeah. And now they're there, it's so different. So it's really become very diversified. We're learning that, you know, with the changes with social media, the changes with blogging, you can't rely on ad income, you can't rely on spot, even sponsored content, you can't rely on any of that. So we're constantly developing these new avenues of income, trying to find ways to keep community going community, the hardest part, okay, so we're constantly looking to find where to keep that going. And you'll find one thing will kind of die off and you kind of have to kind of

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 34:31

try to buy it. Yeah, build it up somewhere else. So this is kind of a random question. But what like if there's a pie chart of income? What are the different like, you don't see numbers, but like, what are like what's like 20% of income comes from this, like, what would you say?

Unknown Speaker 34:47

So we get about

Janel Hutton 34:48

30% of our income is from ads, okay. Probably about 40 to 50% is all of the brand. So we have this sponsored content and La belly, but we also have our work with brands directly. And then we do what's the rest of that somebody do my math 30. So the rest of that would be?

products. Okay. We're hoping to expand that this

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 35:11

is that the courses will be we also

Janel Hutton 35:12

have a little bit of other stuff as well. So it's products that we just don't, they're evergreen, we don't really do that with launching that. Partly because I don't feel I don't my experience with launching isn't there yet. So I'm still like hesitant about that. But this year, we're going gangbusters. And so this year, we hope to like make that a little bit bigger piece of the pie. I do speak I do events as well. So we make money on that. Yes. Well,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 35:36

nice. That's I think it's just good to hear from other people. Because I think everyone's different when it comes to how they make money online. And I, for me, like I do, you know, my business online was doing stock photos. And so like, like, it was just all, you know, product, I guess. And it was interesting. And then I started doing services. But now it's like trying to fit towards this collective into that too. It's interesting, and trying to monetize this person platform. And it's just like, there's so many ways to do it. And so yeah, needing to hear other people do

Janel Hutton 36:06

it really is because you also event stop and go Wait, why am I could try that too. It's in a sentence. It's inspiring, because you feel like, there's so many ways you could continue to grow and makes you feel like, okay, yeah, you can get a little bit depressed when you think you've hit the end of what you can achieve. Yeah, and I hear all these other things, people yeah, like, wow, I could keep going with this thing. Yeah. And that's how

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 36:28

that's nice. I do think that it's really important to be optimistic about the future of the internet, because I think that there are, there's competition, but if you can rise above that competition, and do that's what you guys are doing, you know, it's it's you've been able to sustain this for seven years, that's really helpful for people to see, oh, it's not going to die in a year. You know? Yeah.

Janel Hutton 36:48

And I think, I think the worst thing that people can do is play the Compare game. Because we sit then we see Rockstar bloggers, we have several in this in this yellow, that are huge. Man, we, everybody wants to be that person. But I make a good living. And I have several employees. And we get to go on vacations. And we get to get to all of these wonderful things that I'm not a rock star blogger by any means. In fact, a lot of people don't even know who I am. Yeah, I don't know. But I make a good living. Yeah. So if you don't come, as long as I could settle into that, and be like, Okay, I'm good at what I do, and making a good living. I don't need to be a rock star at this. I can be good at what I do.

You can have some sense of

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 37:29

Yeah, fulfillment. Yeah.

Janel Hutton 37:30

It's like this is a good way to make a living. Yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 37:32

I think that that the thing that I always tell people is don't always worry about the numbers. And like when it comes to the number of followers, because that doesn't make you happy. Right. And I actually posted a video this week in the group with Murray folio about that. And it was just about Twitter followers that make you happy. It's, you make yourself happy? And you know, it's I don't know, it's interesting, because I do see a lot of people wanting to be those bloggers. Yeah. And all the time. I see. Oh, yeah. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 38:02

everybody wants to Yeah, so that's, I think the nature of the game. But I don't if anyone goes to look at all of our stuff, we don't have huge numbers, but we make really good money. And part of that, I think is because I know who I am. I know what I sell. And I know how to sell it. And if you could, if you can just figure out what you're about and be confident go with that. someone out there is interested. Yeah, you know, there's good there's, you only need a certain number of people. Yeah, you don't have to

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 38:27

have a million followers to get a million people to sign up for your stuff. You can get like five people,

Janel Hutton 38:33

right? And there are so many people in this country and in this world that you don't need all of them. Yes, you like rock stars? Yeah, you only need a small portion of them.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 38:41

Well, a lot of people told me when I decided not to do Jenna for designs anymore was that, oh, you're only gonna focus on Twin Cities, people you're going to run out, there's not enough people. I'm like, there are so many people, and I don't need every single person now follow me and, you know, potentially pay me for, you know, whatever content I come up with, right? Like you just need a certain number. You know, right, I actually think the greatest mistake people make is being too general. Yeah.

Janel Hutton 39:07

That they need to niche down. Yeah. And we need a couple years ago when you started to food, and more specifically into comfort food. And we were continuing to always nation further down, where we need, the more work we get. That's the work we get. Now I have what I call my dream brand wish list. And every year I make a list of the five brands, I could run those brands, I would, I would be the CEO of these brands. And my goal is to constantly make my brand, the brand that these these would want to work with. And that's how I know, I did it right. In 2016, we hit two of my major brands. And I was just so ecstatic when I opened that email, and they pitched me with these huge contracts. And they were my wish list. And I know that if I got those brands to pay attention that my messaging was on target. And this is again after we had nice down and even further. Because what I was talking about what I was saying was exactly what they were talking about what they were saying. And so that that nation down. Again, I'm only appealing to a certain pool of people. But there are so many people in that pool of people. That doesn't matter big budgets to

Unknown Speaker 40:19

I mean, that's the wonderful thing about Yeah, again is Yeah,

Janel Hutton 40:22

that's true. But yeah, nation down. I think there's a lot of people who are who try to stay general and blogging because they they don't want to lose any followers. And of course, the whole idea would be you're you're never going to have a your true loyal followers, because you're trying to please everybody. Yeah, so you can't

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 40:38

do it. Oh, true. I've had issues because I have so many interests. But I do think that for me, it's easier to refer someone when I know exactly what they do. Like, for example, like if you are specifically a fashion blogger, like I can put someone in, you know, it's like I'm looking for a fashion blogger who blogs about, I don't know, cheap clothing or something like where it's like, you know, affordable clothing or something I could be like this person specifically does that, right? And I think it's easier for me to refer someone that rather than someone that does something generally. It's like, Oh, she does everything I'm like, Well, I mean, she's not really that good at that specific thing. So I wouldn't want to refer her.

Janel Hutton 41:19

And that's frankly, for sponsored content. That's where you're going to you're going to lose out is you're not going to get any brand that's like if they're coming down to a pool of bloggers, and they have to pick amongst them. And they're looking for someone in the Midwest that speaks to mothers of children with five, five year olds. And you have a mother over here, but they don't tell you how older kids are. Yeah, they're they're not going to get the job. Yes, they're looking for this specific person. You know, these specific not just a fashion blogger, you're a fashion blogger of inexpensive. Yeah. Is the actual Yes,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 41:50

that's going to get us I that happened to me actually were there. I meant if I was in the Facebook group had like 10,000 people in it, and the girl that ran it was like, I'm looking for a video editor. And I'm like, that's me, I do that. And then she actually asked people for their websites. And she only even considered people that had it on their website that there are video editor, people who are going and saying I can edit videos, but it's like, unless it was on their website. That's how I got that's how I got hired from her because I had it on my website that I did that. And so I think it's really important to put on your stuff what you do, because I think that if somebody's looking for, say a web designer for Squarespace, that's you know it for a do it yourselfer, like that's like niched, and they're looking specifically for that they'll Google that they'll look for that they'll hire you because you're exactly what they need. So speaking to that about a year ago, so we've been a food we've been doing food for about two years, about a year ago, I niche down even further to niche but I'm far more about being from Minnesota,

Janel Hutton 42:49

Minnesota everywhere, we even have a little Minnesota recipes tab and everything. And that has absolutely gotten me so much. Yeah, because brands are looking for one of the large, large class we just had was a specific brand that was coming to Minnesota to launch their products. And they literally looked at Minnesota bloggers and came across my site from that very specific thing. And I had thought that I was going to lose work because of me shut down. And in reality, it's giving me this whole nother point, a platform that has

skyrocket. I mean, I might have helped with Yeah, but

but even adding that I didn't need shut down to the point where my site

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 43:30

Minnesota, yeah,

Janel Hutton 43:31

no, but I my site now you'll see. And you'll see little references to minutes.

Absolutely has gotten me more work.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 43:39

I I get frustrated when I go to someone's website, and I can't tell what state they're from. Yeah, right. Like I go to a photographer's website. And it doesn't, even though I know they're local, it doesn't say Minnesota, I'm like, How am I supposed to know if I just came across your website? I wouldn't know what state you're in. I'm not going to hire someone from California to take my, you know, senior pictures or something, you know, right. Interesting. I think people need to be sharing with a from

Janel Hutton 44:02

a pure service based product,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 44:03

exactly this happened to me

yesterday, I went to this girl's website and I was like, Well, she's a great photographer, but where she can't hire her because I don't know where she's from. And I was like, I don't know, at least put it in something maybe in the you know, in the bottom or I don't know, it's just you put it right. Oh, yeah,

Janel Hutton 44:19

I'm in South Carolina. Looking for

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 44:22

and i think i think this is so much more true with Minnesota than in your state is we have a lot of pride here. Yeah, people really are obsessed with Minnesota. And so if you put that you're from Minnesota, you will attract people. Yeah,

Janel Hutton 44:34

we actually started nation on our social media. And what's been really interesting is that people that know I'm from Minnesota, they're sharing with their with their relatives. country that are Minnesota native. Yeah, so Hey, remember this and I thought we were gonna lose followers again. And our Facebook is picking up again. Wow, that nation down again. They're they're all Minnesota.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 44:56

Because you guys are comfort food you do like yes, it kind of like Minnesota like like hot dishes and stuff.

Janel Hutton 45:02

I'm the oldest of 10. So a lot of what I know is budget friendly, large batch kind of food, but I'm a real butter kind of girl. And so and that is really off Minnesota food, because that's true Minnesota is all about.

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 45:15

So we do a lot of wild rice, a lot of walleye a lot of nice hot dishes,

Janel Hutton 45:20

that kind of thing. Cool. And anytime we do that, and brands will specifically ask for things like that as well

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 45:25

because they know that's what you're known for.

Janel Hutton 45:27

They know that's what Minnesota is known for. And that I'm good at that so yeah,

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 45:30

so I guess that's kind of going to wrap up our interview today. But I just wanted to let you take the floor and tell us where we can find you on all the platforms and also your course and information but when that's not sure so our food blog what we've been talking about the

Janel Hutton 45:45

most is that com yeah,

that's where a lot of the food food stuff is going to be where you going to see a lot of our sponsored content all of our freebies opt in get on the email social media ms Am i z Nelly belly because Nelly belly was stolen Really? So I don't Yeah, so Miss Millie belly across all the social media. And then Janelle Hutton j en el Tio n.com is where all of the course information you go there you can sign up right away for all of the courses about sponsored content there is posts there there's free free videos to help you get get better at doing sponsored content so that's where you'd find me and of course in Stillwater Minnesota

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 46:26

yeah go go visit you know I know I know that. did you guys meet up you were going to meet up with some Stillwater people we did. Yes.

Janel Hutton 46:33

We went to 10 bins if you've never been to Okay, so this is a building

great big giant grain rebuilding and remember seeing this gaping Tarleton governor so it didn't used to be on location that is on it got moved via horse and log to the Washington so if you ever get to Stillwater go check that out because it's

Unknown Speaker 46:51

the coolest bit of history so they like horses blog

Janel Hutton 46:55

huge grain building okay and they like put it on logs How am I brain isn't quite comprehend and then the rolled it oh my god Okay, so here was that like 1904

Jenna Redfield of Twin Cities Collective 47:05

Okay, so like way back I don't even know Wow, Miss waco so we were we were doing there cool because I know that you've connected with people into this question. So it's really just have a random story about that. Yeah. Well, thanks so much to now I hope you guys have enjoyed this our first video of our podcast so I hope you guys have been watching I don't know if you're watching the whole thing but uh, if you are still here watching I hope you guys enjoyed it. All right, talk to you guys next week. Thanks for listening to the Twin Cities collective podcast with Jenna Redfield. Creative This was recorded at Studio co work in Golden Valley. You can learn more at Studio co work com thanks again to Nicola high less for the use of the music in the intro and outro and to Melanie Lea of my billie designs for the cover art design. Thanks again guys. And we'll see you next time.


Jenna Redfield is the leader of the Twin Cities Collective, the largest resource in the Twin Cities for bloggers, small business, entrepreneurs & creatives.

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The Twin Cities Collective Podcast with Jenna Redfield

Each week, host Jenna Redfield will be sharing tips about marketing your brand, small business or blog! She will also interview Twin Cities based creatives, entrepreneurs, small business owners & bloggers about life, business, and of course, all things local! Makes sure to subscribe and follow us on our website www.twincitiescollective.com for more information. This podcast is recorded at Studio Americana at Studio Cowork in Golden Valley