E264: Blogging as a Jump-off Point for Getting Into Ecommerce

Many people view blogging as a project that requires a specific set of skills and years of writing experience. Both of these certainly help but they're not a prerequisite to getting started. As Jennifer Garza attests, it’s more important to just start writing. 

In 2011, the mompreneur started iSaveA2Z.com, a platform where she could conveniently share tips on how to save money. The website got so much traction that it now has a million monthly views on average.

Along the way, Jennifer went through a lifestyle change. She discovered and fell in love with the keto diet. So much so that she created another website around it, Low Carb Inspirations. In a span of a year, she’s landed a cookbook deal and is now the proud author of Keto Friendly Recipes: Easy Keto for Busy People.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • How being frugal led to blogging (5:34)
  • How she achieved success as a blogger (6:25)
  • The journey that led to her second website, Low Carb Inspirations (9:38)
  • The true key to her success (20:51)
  • Her ecommerce plans (30:59)

I hope this episode inspires all our listeners out there to pursue blogging, whether as a jumpoff point to ecommerce or to supplement existing marketing efforts for your brand. As Scott Voelker once said in this podcast, “Attention is the new currency.”  And putting the word out is certainly one way to get more eyeballs on your product.

This episode is part of our Women’s Month celebration. We’d love to see more women in the ecommerce industry, so if you are a female business owner, head over to www.ecomcrew.com/underthehood and tell us your story. We’d love to feature you on the podcast.

Connect with amazing people like Jennifer at ecommerce events like Scott Voelker’s Brand Accelerator Live. Get tickets.

Finally, if you enjoyed listening and think this episode has been useful to you, please take a moment to leave us a review on iTunes.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below. Happy selling!

Full Audio Transcript

Intro: This is Mike and welcome to episode number 264 of the EcomCrew Podcast. So glad to have you guys along with us today. And today, we are continuing women's month with our third woman entrepreneur of the month. I'm really excited to have this entrepreneur on because this kind of ties into something that Scott Voelker and I were talking about just a few episodes ago. We'll tie that into the show notes, but basically saying that attention is the new currency in e-commerce, especially if you want to compete in 2019 and beyond, things are changing significantly. 

And having attention is going to give you a huge leg up, something that we've been working very hard on internally to reposition ourselves in that way. It worked really well for us with ColorIt and some of the other things that we're doing, I'm excited to talk about once we kind of have them all solidified, will be talking about those on the EcomCrew Podcast moving forward. But the entrepreneur today, Jennifer is someone that I met at Sellers Summit, Steve Chou’s event down in Miami, Florida. I highly encourage you guys to go get your tickets now super early bird pricing for next year is not till next May. But it's a great event. 

If you want to meet a lot of these same people, Scott Volker is running an event called Brand Accelerator Live. A lot of the same people are coming to that event, which is coming up sooner, which is in September in Fort Worth, Texas. But these are the types of places that you get to meet people like Jennifer. And she has built a couple of amazing blogs that get millions of visitors every year, millions of millions of visitors. It's absolutely incredible what she's done. Just couldn't be more proud of this woman and her story and how she's done this. I don't want to give too much away. So I'll save that for the episode here. 

But needless to say, this woman has built an amazing amount of traffic. And when she does get into e-commerce, it will be like child's play for her to start selling these things because she has the attention. She has people reading her content, and looking up to her every single day to consume her content and look forward to her content and learn from her content. I think that what we've done with EcomCrew is very similar, which is very humbling and very cool and gratifying, all those different adjectives all rolled into one. And obviously allows us to do things like EcomCrew Premium and other courses and stuff that we release and be able to speak in places. 

This is not new. This is not something that's just in e-commerce. It's also in the information selling business. And so that's what she's been doing. And if she ever wants to launch a physical product, which she's starting to work on, it will be so easy for her to do. And we talk about a couple of other examples as well. So I think you guys are going to enjoy this episode with Jennifer. Thank you, Jennifer again for coming on the show and being our third woman entrepreneur of the month. We're excited to be doing these. This has been awesome. 

And if you haven't listened to the first two, we are doing women's month this month. So Natalie and Daisy were right before this, go check those out. They were also amazing episodes. All right, let's get into this episode with Jennifer right on the other side of this break.

Mike: Hey, Jennifer, welcome to the EcomCrew Podcast.

Jennifer: Hey, Mike, how's it going? 

Mike: It's going great. Thank you for coming and doing women's month with us here on EcomCrew. I was telling you before we started recording that we're inspired to do this because we had a mastermind in Hong Kong. And last year, we had like two or three women that came to it. And that seemed about the balance typically that you see at these things out of like 25 people, but this year, we had zero. And I was like you know what; we got to figure out a way to encourage more women to jump into entrepreneurship. So we found nine amazing women for the month of July. And I'm excited that you have joined us to do this. And your story's a little bit different. So I think it'll be cool for the audience as well just to kind of hear how you're getting into e-commerce.

Jennifer: Yeah, I am no e-commerce expert. In fact, we just met up at Seller’s Summit, where I was starting to learn about how I can get products. So I feel like I'm coming in in the backwards way from what everybody else does. 

Mike: Yeah. And I think that what's going to happen is you're going to realize that the backwards way in terms of e-commerce is going to be a massive leg up for you. And we'll talk about why as we kind of go through your journey here. I'm very excited for you. I am pretty much 100% convinced that you're going to crush it because you have a huge leg up with your traffic and influence. But I'm kind of getting ahead of myself. So let's start back at the kind of the beginning of the journey before you quit your job and were doing something else. How did you get into what you're doing in the blogging and how did that all transpire?

Jennifer: Well, my husband is a police officer. I used to live in San Antonio, Texas, and he wanted to move to Austin, because the pay is much better for police officers here and the opportunities are better. So I said, sure, let's go. And I used to work for Washington Mutual where I was a project manager getting paid way more than a police officer salary, and I just said, let’s go. And then I quickly realized I don't have a college degree or anything and I know nobody here. And I quickly realized that all of my opportunities came from people who knew me and when you come to a new city, and nobody knows you, there is no job.

Mike: Yeah, it can be pretty intimidating. I've learned that lesson as a person that's moved around quite a bit as well. And yeah, I mean, your circle of friends and influence there can mean a lot. So you get to Austin, and you find yourself with no friends and no one to help you find a job. And I guess that's how things started.

Jennifer: It did. And I started selling stuff, just extra stuff around the house. And then next thing you know, I kind of learned how to flip things at garage sales, just to keep me at home with my kids and keep the bills paid. And that was kind of fun. I've always kind of been an entrepreneur at heart. But then money was really, really tight. And I needed to save money on groceries, on everything. And I just learned to really coupon and just save money. And it just happened to be at a part in the market to where the economy was not so great. 

And there were a lot of people in my shoes that really were losing their jobs and needed to save money. And I stayed up late, I taught myself how to build a website. And that's when iSaveA2Z.com was born, where people wanted to learn how I was saving money. And I started just teaching people how I cut corners and didn't have a job but basically earned a little money on the side flipping stuff from garage sales, selling it on Craigslist, which back then there were no Facebook groups or all these other marketing tools that you can sell stuff. But I was just teaching people how to save money. 

And then it got kind of old and then I realized that you can make money on a blog. And I'm like, wow, I've been sitting here just sharing information and I didn't realize you can make money out of traffic that you get. And it just kind of grew and grew and popularity kind of grew, where you're just providing valuable information that people want, and you grow an audience and that audience is dedicated because you've helped them. And today, it's kind of led into a very different journey because in my own journey, I mean, I like saving money. I like living a frugal lifestyle. But when you're starting to get more money because you're helping people, you find that you're not as frugal as you used to. 

Mike: Right yeah. 

Jennifer: You're not flipping coupons anymore, and then it went to more of a healthy lifestyle. And that was probably the dramatic shift for me was healthy lifestyle because really there are no coupons for healthy food. 

Mike: Yeah, it's definitely expensive going. We were having an argument about this last night because we went to Whole Foods again. And it's definitely understandable how it’s got dubbed whole paycheck because it is definitely not cheap to eat healthy. I mean, it's an unfortunate just circumstance of the food system in the country. And man, I don't want to get off on this whole tangent, but it definitely is tough to eat healthy and be frugal. Those two things don't really go together.

Jennifer: No, they really don't. And I was hypoglycemic. I had a lot of issues. I had blood sugars that would drop. I never understood why other people could eat anything they want. And if I tried to diet, I failed miserably every single time. I feel like I've been dieting since out of high school and failed every time, and I was just on this mission to figure out why. And I kind of heard of low carb eating higher fat. And I'm like, wait higher fat. I love fat, like wait, what — anyway, it led me on this journey. And I quickly realized that if you do go higher fat, low carb keto lifestyle, which I absolutely love, I thrive on, I'm down over 55 pounds. I've stopped counting after that. 

But it really just changed completely in what I do and it's not as expensive when I think about it because I eat way less. So it is more expensive but the health benefits, the less doctor bills, I mean, there's just so much that comes with it. And I just I really live, breathe and do everything around a low carb keto lifestyle, and it just shows within my work, so I cannot help but to talk about it.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, people probably get sick of hearing about it because I know that that's — I kind of learned that lesson the hard way. I stopped talking about it as much because people kind of roll their eyes or you can just tell they don't really want to hear about your food habits. And it's just like, okay, it's kind of like talking religion and politics to people. It's pretty close. So I talk about it less, but I'm still super passionate about it. And it's something that I definitely want to get into as well, which is cool.

Jennifer: Well, that's funny, because I was too embarrassed to talk about my struggles or too embarrassed to talk about my weight. So I really didn't want to openly talk about it too much. So I vividly remember trying to diet, it was still two weeks in and I was very excited which by that time, every other diet, I’d quit and thought, oh, this is the pits. I'm not doing this. But with keto I was so excited. And I remember it was around Valentine's Day. And my husband's like, well, where do you want to go out to eat? And I'm like, no, we're getting steaks. We're staying at home, I’m making this happen. And he's like, what happened to you? 

Mike: That’s funny.

Jennifer: I know. And I remember that day I created a group on Facebook called Low Carb Inspirations because I wanted to talk to other people, but only those people who were interested in what I was talking about. But I mainly wanted to talk about them just with the struggles I was having. I wanted to learn and I wanted to surround myself with people on my same journey. And that's kind of how it started. It was like, oh I'm doing this, it's happening.

Mike: Yeah, it's a perfect niche because the people, it's all the stuff that I always talk about on EcomCrew. I mean they're people that are passionate about it, it's recurring revenue, they will share in a social standpoint, and they interact a lot. And it's a great little niche. It's interesting that you kind of found yourself in that. And people that are frugal are the same thing. They love sharing that journey. So you got two niches that were something that came out of a personal interest and passion that really helped and basically turned it into a business for you.

Jennifer: Definitely, yes. And quite lucrative. I never realized I could make quite a living blogging, and even so much that I almost asked my husband to retire to work for me. 

Mike: Nice. That's awesome. Before we get into that, let's start back a little bit because you were saying back then when I started this, and it sounded like it was just kind of reading between the lines kind of in the recession years, so maybe somewhere between 2008 and 2012. When did you start this, the A to Z one?

Jennifer: Yeah, it was 2011? 

Mike: Okay.

Jennifer: Yeah 2011. 

Mike: 2011, so and again, the website is iSave the letter A, the number two Z dot com. 

Jennifer: Yes.

Mike: So you started it and it was just, it was a hobby for you. I mean, you were home, you moved to Austin, your husband goes to work for the awesome police force, you’re home with the kids. And now you're in this position where you're kind of forced to live frugally just because you don't have that second income. And you decide that you know what, I want to start sharing my experience with the world, that's 2011. And at some point you mentioned, man, I woke up one day and I realized that I can make some revenue off of this. When was that? How far into that project were you? Is it one or two years or? 

Jennifer: Well, no, it was — well, 2011 was when I started the website. So this must have been 2010 when I was actually living frugally because I remember having many phone calls with many friends, hey, what coupon did you use here? Where did you get this? What sales? I need that, oh my gosh. I was like, wow, I needed to find a better way than talking with my friends on the phone to tell them how to save money. And so I started emailing people, hey, I'll just email you a list of what I found on sale where and that turned in to be like a big list. 

And I thought, man, I need to put this somewhere where people can go look, and not me have to do so much work. Let me just do the work once. That's when I was like, oh, I need to learn HTML and I need to figure out how to host a website. Like that wasn't a thing like Craigslist was the thing. It wasn't – that was not a thing. And people also wanted to know how I flip things to make money. It was just spending money like fun money, little money to be able to do things and not be stuck to the house poor as ever. So yeah, that was about 2010, 2011.

Mike: Got you. And how long were you running it before it started generating some income?

Jennifer: Well, I don't really remember when I learned about Google AdSense. But I remember being told about it somehow maybe through a friend who had a website or something. And I remember adding it. And I remember making 37 cents one night, like 37 cents and most people would be like, oh my god, is that it? And the only thing I could think of is, oh my god, there's more where that came from, and I'm going to get it.

Mike: Nice. I love that. I love that attitude. And that was 37 cents you said in one night. So you like you went to bed and woke up the next day you had 37 cents? 

Jennifer: Yes. 

Mike: I mean, you're probably making a buck or two a day and more than you're making before, right? 

Jennifer: Oh, yeah. Yes, I basically just put content up. And people came whenever they wanted to, I didn't have to talk to them on the phone, I didn't have to email. I didn't have to meet up and show them how to do things at the store. I could just put it up on a website. And they would come and I would get paid and they didn't have to pay me. It was only 37 cents but I just knew if I could do that I knew there was more to it. 

Mike: Yeah, makes a lot of sense. I love the attitude. And so obviously there was as I mean, now you're talking about potentially having your husband leave the force. So let's kind of fast forward over the next couple of years. At what point was it making a living to at least support you and what you were at least making before in your old job? I mean, have you gotten to — you said you were doing pretty well back in, was it Dallas? I think you said you moved from? Or Houston?

Jennifer: Yeah, I lived in San Antonio and I worked…

Mike: San Antonio, I knew it was one the other — I was going through Houston or sorry, Dallas — I keep doing it, Texas roulette of all the different cities there. So San Antonio. Right. So at what point did you kind of get to a point where you were making the same as you were making in San Antonio?

Jennifer: Well, I want to say it probably wasn't for about two years. Couponing and frugal living, there's not a whole lot of ad revenue in that aspect. 

Mike: Yeah, and that's always a challenge, right? I mean, you definitely want to pick. And this is something obviously you didn't think about ahead of time, because you had never done this online marketing stuff before. And you were doing it out of a personal desire to just tell people about it. But if you were to write a blog post of the best niches to create a blog on based on how much you can make, this will probably be at the pretty close to the bottom. Because when you're writing about things to save money and to spend less money, that means that people will probably have less money and or going to be cheap and frugal, which is fine. But from an advertiser standpoint, they're going to pay less for those customers so that you just end up in this unfortunate spot where from a CPM perspective you're getting less.

Jennifer: Exactly, yeah there's only so much money in coupon prints, and there's only so many prints you can do. And there's only so many deals, and then it gets competitive because how many people are writing about it? And yeah, I definitely — it's a place where I had to be, it wasn't a choice.

Mike: Yeah, which is still fine because again, I think that it's better to start a blog in a “bad niche” when it comes to marketing but it's something that you're personally interested and passionate about. You're going to probably create a better blog and most likely end up making more money because of that than if you start writing about something that's on the higher end, which would be like finance, or credit cards, or retirement or something that you don't really know anything about and doesn't really fit your personality. So you're just writing about it because you're trying to make money, it's never going to be as good as if someone that's fully immersed in this thing.

Jennifer: Yes, definitely. If you're living the lifestyle, and you're writing about it, you're going to be the most authentic, and that's going to show through, that's not something you can hide. I agree with that. 

Mike: Yeah, cool. So I mean, within two years, basically, even in a bad niche, I'm trying to get to a point here just by asking these questions, because people are just I think out here listening that aren't into blogging. And one of the things I think that people just kind of know by default, is it's not a way to make money immediately. But it sounds like within two years, which is not that long of a time, you were able to make enough money from this thing to if you were at another job, you'd be able to quit and at least support yourself off of and again, that's not a tremendous amount of time. And let's face it, you already had another job, you were taking care of the kids. So it wasn't like you were doing this all day, every day. You had other things to do in the meantime.

Jennifer: Yes, definitely. Yeah, it did bring a pretty good income after two years. I want to say when I really started learning more about blogging and putting very valuable information into an article that wasn't just 50 words, how to save money on something, when I really started writing about more of the things I really liked, like cooking and recipes, I found the articles to be longer. And I knew nothing about SEO but I learned, I mean, I just organically hit some things that I landed on first page for some really good content. And I think when I started getting out of the frugal niche, and really started doing more of what I like, it all just naturally started to come back to me in a much bigger way.

Mike: Yeah, it makes a lot of sense. I mean, it looks like you were ranking for things that are outside of frugal, like keto meatloaf, and just like other random things that aren't about saving, and then eventually ended up making a blog about food specifically, but because you were interested in that you started writing about it on that site. I mean, and you have — you want to share how many visitors you're getting a month now, because it's pretty crazy how much, I'm looking at this Ahrefs, I mean, you're crushing it.

Jennifer: Yeah. I don't know the tool that you're looking at. I don't really look at a whole lot of tools. I just focus on writing good content. But I do know that I get really good traffic. I mean, I probably get on a month I get at least a million. I know sometimes it's been up to 3 million a month, and sometimes even higher than that, depending on the month. Now this is summer. So summer, moms are out with kids and traffic tends to die down a bit. But even with 1 million a month, the blog does very well.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, it sounds like you're being humble; I’ll not be humble for you. I mean, that's incredible. I mean, seriously, to be able to build a blog that gets a million visitors is absolutely insane. It's amazing. And I think that the point here as we're kind of going through this Women's Entrepreneur month thing here, anybody can do it, there's no reason to be scared not to jump in, you're like the perfect case study. You knew nothing about SEO, you didn't know anything about launching a blog, you just did it. And you did it in something that you had an interest in and were personally passionate in. And I think that that's probably the biggest key and you became successful with it. 

And you learned what you need to learn along the way through the kind of the school of hard knocks. Like you said, you didn't go to college, so it isn't like you need to — and neither did I, but you can figure this stuff out. I mean, at the end of the day, most of this stuff is actually relatively simple. It's just the unknown that's scary. It isn't that difficult to make a website, and especially in 2019, there are so many more tools available. And the point is that you can do it too really I mean, anybody can do it.

Jennifer: Oh for sure. And you know what, one of the things when I look back at my journey, and I look back at things, I think I have this way where I purposely wanted to be different because in the world of social media and marketing, I see so many people talking about the same things over and over. And it's like, oh, this blog post went viral. Well, how can I do a spin-off of this or how can I do this? I just tried so hard to be so different. 

And I really think if you asked me what the key to success was, I think if you can find something that solves somebody's problem, that's really different. I kind of give it a level of craziness. It can't be too crazy. But it has to be just outside the circle of what is that? Or what is she doing? And it cant be too crazy. But it has to be a little crazy. And every time I've created something like that, that was different from other people; I would say that has always done well for me. 

Mike: Yeah man, I think you're dead on. I mean, that's the exact model that we took with EcomCrew. And we're having similar success to what you've had here. And for us the crazy was, we're going to just talk about everything we do, like everyone's so guarded about the products they sell and what they do, and it's just like, is this person even real or are they full of crap, because you can't actually research and it's easy, it's the inner, you can hide whatever. We're going to — like, I'm comfortable in my own skin and with what we're doing to be different. I'm going to talk about every little thing that we do with ColorIt and Ice Wraps. 

And I mean, people know all of our brands and all the products that we do, it's all out there for if someone wants to copy, if that's what they want to do, and good luck to you go ahead and do it. I don't recommend that. But if that's the way you want to kind of create a business, that's fine, but it differentiates us. It's different. It's crazy, I mean it's nuts for someone to go do that. And it's also we differentiate by admitting that e-commerce is tough and its hard and this is not the easy money making opportunity that everybody wants to make it out to be that typically is out there selling information. So I think that those things help make us unique. 

And for you, it was like I'm not going to just write the same content that everyone else is reading; I'm going to do it my way. And I think that this is a really key point, which is why I'm kind of stuck here for just a minute because there's no niche that's too crowded. The only thing that's crowded is doing it this — being a follower, not a leader. 

Jennifer: Exactly, exactly. And I agree with that wholeheartedly because this keto niche like I'm in it two and a half years now. And when I started, people would – keto, what is that? It sounded — it was a weird four letter word that you really want to talk about. And I didn't have somebody to teach me through the journey. So I feel like I've made every mistake. And if you want to learn, you want to learn from me, because I've made all the mistakes, I can tell you what not to do. But being different even in this niche where even today, there are so many people doing it, there are so many different ways to do it. 

And even I created something again, that was a little bit crazy that was just outside of crazy, but very helpful that people just thrive on. And this is I created a beef and butter fast. It's kind of a long story. But long story short, I was stalled. I took my macros down to very strict limits. And I did it with ground beef, butter and seasoning. And I did it for a couple of days. And wow, that sure did work. And kind of today I write about it, I write about this experiment that I did. And it's just outside of crazy, because who eats ground beef for four days. But it's just a little crazy. But it's so stupid simple. But the thing is that it works and it helps the people who have stalled. 

And more importantly, it teaches people what they're doing wrong in their keto journey, because I'm basically taking them to very strict macros. And it's more than just beef and butter. It's more than just getting past the stall. It really is teaching people and this is the part where I'm like that sounds just a little crazy but it works. And I think I still rank top for that. I created it. I'm trying to trademark it. So it gets a lot of search traffic, I created a website around it just because so many people were having the problem of stalling and how do they fix it. So it's just another example of being so different in a world where so many people are doing it different ways, and that's my way that I did it. It's a little crazy but it works. 

Mike: Yeah, I love it. It makes you unique to you and then people start talking about you and linking to you and these types of things which get you more traffic. And so let's talk about the food website, because you said you started it two and a half years ago. And so this kind of just illustrates again, even in modern times, there's some — because the internet moves so quickly. So you started in what 2017, so it's just a couple years ago from absolute zero and let's talk about where Lowcarbinspirations.com is today.

Jennifer: Okay, so yeah, 2017 is when I actually started the keto journey. The website, I think is just a year old. 

Mike: Oh okay.

Jennifer: Yeah, the website is even…

Mike: It's even newer, so it's even more of a good example.

Jennifer: Yeah because I wasn't for sure — well, first of all, the whole how do I run two or three blogs? That's a whole another thing. And I wasn't for sure I wanted to. But when I made the decision that when I look at iSaveA2Z.com and I look at the sugar filled carb loaded recipes that I used to make, it literally makes me sick to see that old blog post that I just couldn't grow something that I either would have to delete all that information, which there's people who still love it, and why would I do that I'm still making money from it. That's when I just thought, you know what, I need to rebrand, I need to start a new mission, I need to do a new website. And that's when Low Carb Inspirations was born. So just I think it was a year ago. 

Mike: Got you. So in one year, you've grown it from absolute zero to I mean, I’m looking at the traffic here again, I mean, it's obviously not the same as the A2Z site. But I mean, pretty substantial amount of traffic and growing quickly.

Jennifer: Yeah. So to put ads on your site, I work with the publisher called AdThrive. And I don't remember the minimum traffic that you need to get on that on a website but there is a minimum. And I do remember when I started this site; my goal was to make the minimum because I want ads on the site, because I want to be paid for what I do. It took me three months to make the minimum to get ads put on the site. 

Mike: That's insane. 

Jennifer: Yeah. And now I think I have the most websites that are with the minimum because I have a total of four websites, and all of them are with AdThrive.

Mike: So I mean, obviously, there's things that you learned from six years plus of running the A2Z website, what did you take in terms of knowledge to be able to start Low Carb Inspirations and get that much traffic that quickly? You obviously knew more going into it this time, so what was the difference?

Jennifer: So I think the difference is I have social — I don't know, what do you call it, social status, when people know who you are? 

Mike: Yeah.

Jennifer: I feel like I've built channels where people know my information. And if I say something, I think there's a certain level of trust that I’ve built with audience and just focusing on the niche that I was going into and building an audience against that. It's easy when you provide new content and these people have been following you for a while and know where you're at and want to follow where you're at. The easy part is getting the traffic; the hardest part is building the platforms and building the following.

Mike: Interesting. But I mean, to begin with, that's the hardest part, right? Being able to get — so but once you get there, you're saying that that makes it easy. And I think that that's true. I mean, I look at the effort that we put into EcomCrew and the stuff that we did back in the poker days when we were doing online poker marketer, we also did stuff in WordPress themes and website hosting and online degrees, it takes a lot of effort to get that influence initially. But once you have the respect amongst your peers, then it becomes super easy.

Jennifer: Yes. And I would say one of the biggest struggles that I think I struggled with was putting my face out there, like we've had the opportunity to do live videos, especially on Facebook for a few years now. And I just, I never really wanted to be the person who was full attention, eyes on me type thing. And I went a little bit out of my comfort zone this year. I got a book deal from amazing keto recipes and next thing you know; I had a book deal knocking at my door. And I thought, oh my goodness, in order for me to sell cookbooks, I'm going to have to get these people to know who my face is. They know my name but if they saw a picture of me, I don't know that they would who I was. 

Mike: Right yeah.

Jennifer: Just having a strategy to provide content via video just to connect with your audience in a deeper level I think made a big difference. And it's obviously working. The cookbook is selling really well. It's been out a month and it's number seven in the whole country when it's ranked against other cookbooks. So I know the strategy works. I know the strategy that I put forth with video and coming out of the comfort zone really did help and it really did work. And then of course, with an amazing product. It's just a recipe for success. 

Mike: Yeah, we'll link up to an episode that Scott Voelker and I did just talking about how to build influence and having that traffic and attention can help build a physical products business and books kind of are an old boring physical product space, supposedly, right? But you are obviously able to move the needle there. And I mean, being the number seven cookbook in the country is a pretty amazing feat when you think of how many freaking cookbooks are out there. But most people don't have the attention unless you're Martha Stewart or something. 

I mean, there's very few people that have the attention. And you've been able to build that. And it's a continuous pipeline, because people every day new people are searching for keto recipes, or how to do keto, or what is keto, or all these different things that you're ranking for now and get traffic for. And then you have the book there. Yeah, very cool. So the other reason I wanted to get you on the podcast and kind of turn this around a little bit in terms of like now that you've been so gracious and shared this story is how can we talk about physical products for you to make and what's the best besides a book, something that's an actual free product or a keto-type product. Where are you at with that and on your journey?

Jennifer: I have some ideas for some baking mixes that I want, some sweeteners that I want, some products that I'm — products that aren't even thought of on the market, I have ideas for that I would totally use. So I have a brainstorming board. And this is the whole point of me going to the conference for e-commerce because I have this idea for products, I have the audience, I've already started my trademark so I know I can be brand registered. It's like I have all these puzzle pieces. But now I just have to put forth the effort and create the products that I want, that I would use that are in my niche. So that's definitely the part where I need help. That's the part where I'm learning which your audience is probably very well educated on.

Mike: Well, I think you just gave them an education on how to build an audience. So I'm sure they're fine with that. I mean, if I was sitting out there listening, it's like well, this woman knew nothing about again creating traffic and doing this stuff was able to do it, the revenue just from that supports her, and now she's in this position to hit the home run because it's a given maybe hitting singles and doubles this whole time and surviving and making a good living enough to even potentially have your husband retire. But this will probably be the thing that gets you over that finish line, have him leave the force and work with you full time. And yeah, I'm pretty convinced of that.

Jennifer: Yes, the blog does very well, I've considered retiring him, but he's so close to retirement that he would lose so much so he doesn't want to. And I haven't put forth an effort, a lot of effort into e-commerce products just because I do make such a good living on the blog. But if you were a blogger, you know you want to diversify your income portfolio. And I just know that if I had a product, I just feel it would do very well.

Mike: Yeah. So I mean the way that I would approach this, I mean, the thing that makes you in such an amazing position is you have all the data, right? You know exactly how and why people are coming to your website and interacting with you. And you can look at all the inbound traffic and keywords with a tool like Ahrefs or SEMrush or Moz, it doesn't really matter which one you use. We prefer Ahrefs, but you can see how people are — what you're ranking for and how people are finding you. So you have that data. And you also have like all the outbound data, because you have affiliate links to Amazon or other places, and you know what's selling through your website. It's not like you have to guess, you can look right at your affiliate reports and know specifically what's selling. And so…

Jennifer: Yeah, for sure. And not only that, I can be an influencer for a lot of those products. If an affiliate company — I work with Perfect Keto and over — I don't know if you want to talk about affiliate income, but over Christmas, they came out with these keto bars, which I really like. And my kids do keto, and they thought it was the coolest thing that they can take a chocolate chip cookie dough bar to school as their snack or part of their lunch. And so I was a big fan of their bars, and I remember they did a big promotion, I think it was November or December of last year. 

And I'm not too big on competition, but they were like, hey, we're going to run a competition. And I don't even remember what the rules were for the competition. But I ended up being one of the VIP affiliate people for them, because I ended up in their top 10 list of people who sold the most. I don't remember what the number was that I sold. But I do remember my commission was like 10 grand that month just from selling bars. When you tell people what you like and you have influence, it's pretty amazing. 

Mike: Yeah, no doubt. And I mean, I think Perfect Keto is a great example of a type of company that you could eventually build. I mean, they're really large. I mean, I've actually had — I know that exact chocolate chip cookie dough bar you're talking about it is delicious; I would definitely recommend it as well. The trick is that you got to keep them in the refrigerator because the chocolate gets melty and weird but definitely good product. So I mean, you know you have the ability. If you got a $10,000 commission, I mean, you probably sold 80,000 or $100,000 worth of products or something. So I mean, you have the ability to do that. And that shows right off the bat. 

So I'm looking at, you already mentioned some of these sweeteners, I'm looking at your Amazon, the link on your — from your website, Amazon shops, you have several products you already recommended, you know that you're selling the Perfect Keto products which might not be something that you want to try to develop at first, but you have powdered sugar substitute, and you have liquid sweetener and maple syrup and things of this nature. And those are things that you could create a one off product really easily for and just replace that other company's product to put your product there. And instead of sending them 300 or 500 sales a month or whatever, if you look at your Amazon report that you're doing, that could be your sales instead. And it would be an instant home run.

Jennifer: Oh, yeah, yeah, and I've got a lot of links I could replace too.

Mike: Exactly, yeah. So I mean, I think that that's the way that I would go about it because you're already sending that traffic someplace else. And I just — I mean, it's kind of, I don't know if it's mean or weird or awkward, or whatever the right word adjective is to just remove a product that you've been promoting all this time and put your product there. But at the end of the day you are going to make as good or better product than they have, because that's the way that you are. And you wouldn't recommend it if it wasn't going to turn out the way that you wanted. And why not put that product there? I mean, that's kind of the next step of evolution for you.

Jennifer: Yes, and that's exactly where I'm at. 

Mike: Awesome. I'm excited to buy some of your powdered sugar or sweeteners then. But the hard part though is finding out where to get this stuff manufactured because it isn't like there's an Alibaba for food products. So and it's something you're going to want to make in the US. So how do you find that perfect co-packer in the US is the challenge that's going to meet your needs and be willing to do small batch stuff to start with, because you're not going to go place $100,000 order out of the gate. And those are always the challenges is to find a co-packer that's willing to take that $5,000 or $10,000 order to start with and then if the product starts doing really well, can they grow with you and meet those demands? And that's where the challenges will come in. 

And there's other things as well like getting the packaging designed and learning how to receive the inventory and be able to do fulfillment and get it into Amazon and create the listing. But those are all things that I mean are relatively easy. And people like me are around to help you with whenever you're ready. And so I think the hardest part is finding that good co-packer. 

Jennifer: Yeah, it's exciting though, it's exciting knowing you can add a whole another income stream onto something you're already doing with maybe just a small little team to help you out to start. 

Mike: Yeah, yeah, I mean, what ends up — what will happen is the halo effect of doing this will be tremendous. Because right now, you're only able to garner and capture or make money off of the traffic that you send directly to let's say, again, this company that makes this powdered sugar substitute. And so let's just say you're selling 300 a month through your link, which is great, and you're getting 6% or something commission off of that and you're making decent money from that. But the halo effect will be you put your product there on Amazon and this company is probably selling, if you're selling 300 a month, they're probably selling 6,000 a month or 10,000 units per month. 

And you'd be able to get to that level because launching a product with the outside traffic that you have, but just 300 per month will be enough to give it that supercharged initial sales periods where you can be the one that ranks for powdered sugar substitute on Amazon. And now there's going to be a whole bunch of people that are searching on Amazon as their first point of contact and not on Google or on your website that you never would have been able to sell to or get influence from otherwise, and your name is all over that package, certain percentage of those people are going to come back to your website and become fans. 

And the flywheel and halo effect of that becomes almost hard to even measure. It's one of these like feedback loops that it's hard to kind of understand fully what that will do. And that's just with one product. And if you start having a catalogue of 10 products, think of what that can do something like the — it'll be a probably a period of parabolic growth for you as you go through this. And your biggest challenges will be cash flow and other things, just a lot of the things that e-commerce presents in terms of challenges versus just running a blog, because one thing that's great about running a blog and an affiliate site is the money just comes in and there's very little expenses. 

E-commerce flips that equation and makes it a little bit more difficult. But you're going to be building a legitimate brand and building a bigger moat around what you've already done. And eventually, if there ever is an exit, or you're looking to do things, you're going to be worth a lot more because you have the influence and the product, which most companies don't ever think about.

Jennifer: This is exciting times my friend.

Mike: It is. 

Jennifer: I love it. 

Mike: Yeah. So, any other questions or things to talk about before we sign off for the day?

Jennifer: No, no, I'm just excited to learn more about e-commerce and I'm excited for where my company is going. And I'm excited to hear more people, more women join Ecom, because it is amazing. It's rewarding. It's fun. It's exciting. It's stressful sometimes, but it's so worth it. 

Mike: Yeah, I agree, I couldn't agree more. Awesome. Well, keep doing what you're doing. And we're going to have an opportunity to meet up in person in Austin, because I'm going to be there this summer so looking forward to that. 

Jennifer: Awesome.

Mike: And in the meantime, if you need anything, you know where to find me.

Jennifer: Great. Well, thanks for having me on. I appreciate it.

Mike: No problem, Jennifer. Thank you. 

All right guys, that's going to wrap it up for the 264th edition of the EcomCrew Podcast. If you want to get to the show notes for this one, it's going to be EcomCrew.com/264. You can leave us a comment. Jennifer is going to be reading those as well. So if you want to say anything to her, she'll be checking those out. I want to thank you guys all again for all of your support. If you got a moment to go leave a review over on iTunes, it really does help us quite a bit. I'm sure you're sick of me saying that all the time. 

If you've already left a review, if you have, thank you so much. If you haven't, which is the vast majority of the people that listen to the EcomCrew Podcast, we know the numbers, we know how many reviews we've gotten, which is only a couple of hundred and we know that there's tens of thousands of people listening, please take a moment to go leave a review. It really does make a difference. We'd really appreciate it. It's free to do, just go over to your desktop, go to iTunes, find the EcomCrew Podcast, leave the review. It's kind of a pain in the butt. But it does help us quite a bit and we do appreciate it. All right guys, that's going to wrap it up for this one. Until the next time, happy selling and we'll talk to you soon.

Outro: Thanks for listening to the EcomCrew Podcast. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/EcomCrew for weekly live recordings of the EcomCrew Podcast every Monday. And please, do us a favor, and leave an honest review on iTunes, it would really help us out. Again, thanks for listening, and until next week, happy selling.


Michael Jackness

Michael started his first business when he was 18 and is a serial entrepreneur. He got his start in the online world way back in 2004 as an affiliate marketer. From there he grew as an SEO expert and has transitioned into ecommerce, running several sites that bring in a total of 7-figures of revenue each year.


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