Episode 021: Show Notes
We first discovered Jeff on Instagram. Jeff is a photographer who loves to take a lot of architectural images, and so, naturally, we fell in love with his work. Not long after, we discovered his wife, Kelly, and we just absolutely had to follow them both! We followed their work for a year and a half before reaching out to them, and it’s been such a fun journey getting know them on a more personal level, and getting the inside scoop on how their business actually runs.
If you know of Studio DIY, you know that they have hundreds of thousands of followers on Instagram, and that their DIY blog is pretty outstanding. In our talk with them, we discover more about their journey, what the early days of Studio DIY looked like, how they built sponsorship and affiliate relationships, and how they decided what to charge for those sponsorships (everyone’s burning question!). They also share what it was like branching out and creating their own physical product line.
Since then, they’ve grown a lot and implemented tons of incredible strategies in their business to make it what it is today. So, if you are a DIY’er yourself, you absolutely have to give this one and listen!
The Story of Studio DIY Beginnings
The Studio DIY blog started as a college senior project. Kelly always felt that school didn’t really fulfill everything that she wanted to do, so she took over the reigns and asked if she could change up the curriculum to make it more in line with her vision of life. In her senior year, Kelly asked the head of her department if she could do an independent study and build a blog. He had her put together a whole program, and with the help of her professors she built it and then launched it six months after graduating. At that time, Jeff was working in a full-time position, spearheading the marketing for a local real estate agency in Los Angeles. However, once his photography clients (Kelly being on of them) started to demand more time, he quit his job and made the leap into full-time entrepreneurship.
Jeff & Kelly In the Early Days
Instagram As an Integral Business Tool
A lot has changed since Kelly started her first Instagram account, and the thing that’s helped her business grow the most is the fact that she started to treat Instagram as an integral part of her business. For Studio DIY, Instagram is now just as important to the business as the blog is. It was as important to brand the Studio DIY Instagram as it was to brand the blog. The Instagram feed is now a well-oiled machine, with everything thought of and considered, including timing of the posts, the audience it targets, and the overall brand being represented. Nothing is a mistake, and everything is done with intention.
Jeff & Kelly Now!
From Blogging to Product Lines
The hardest thing about going from blogging to selling products is learning how to sell to your audience in a unique way. This can be vastly different than talking about a blog post for the day. Even though you may have been indirectly selling products for sponsors through the blog, it’s so different when the product becomes something in-house. To intentionally separate the two, Kelly launched a Shop Studio DIY account. This account is specifically directed at their really dedicated audience and customers who want to know about all of their product updates first. It is much more beneficial to your conversions (and bank account) to try to sell to a smaller audience that is more dedicated than to try to sell to a huge, anonymous audience.
Using Social Media To Reach Out to Sponsors
When first establishing sponsorship and affiliate relationships, Jeff and Kelly are big proponents of simply reaching out. One of Kelly’s biggest partnerships is with Balloon Time, which started out with her sending them a tweet and mentioning that it would be great to work together. A similar thing happened with Jeff; he loved what the Hyatt hotel group was doing and reached out to a social media manager on Twitter. Next thing he knew, he was a on a plane, off to shoot one of their new properties. Jeff and Kelly approach all sponsors with the mindset of “What do we have to lose?” The most important thing is to ask in the first place.
Maintaining Brand Authenticity
Taking on sponsors while still staying true to your brand isn’t always the easiest. In the last two years, one of the biggest changes in the blogging world is that it’s gone from sponsors not really knowing what to do with social media influencers and to sponsors approaching influencers like Jeff and Kelly with very specific campaigns, products and ideas. It is so very important to specify upfront exactly what your brand is like, and the types of posts you are willing and not willing to do. One of the best tips is to try to look over posts that you have already planned, and see how you can possibly incorporate your sponsors into content ideas that have already be generated.
Pricing and What to Charge For Sponsored Content
Figuring out a pricing strategy can be a real learning curve. However, when you surround yourself with others who are in the same boat with the same mentality, it can end up being a great experience. In the beginning, it can start out somewhat random and, until you figure out your worth, there will always be some uncertainty. One of the best ways to come up with a pricing strategy is to look at how you can adapt to a specific budget. Let your sponsor know exactly what is required to reach their vision. It’s a good practice to shoot a little higher than what you might be comfortable with so you leave some room for negotiations.
- Discover the story of how Studio DIY started and the journey they embarked on in the beginning. [00:03:03.1]
- Learn how Jeff and Kelly have used Instagram as an integral part of their business, for growth and brand development. [0:06:56.6]
- Understand how to transition from solely blogging to successfully launching a product line. [0:16:54.5]
- Find out how Jeff and Kelly first used Twitter to reach out and start sponsor relationships for their businesses. [0:20:06.3]
- Learn how to maintain your brand authenticity when you are showcasing someone else’s product. [0:24:27.1]
- Understand how to implement a pricing strategy and how shooting high is the best option. [0:26:58.8]
- Know your strengths and weaknesses.
- Intentionally develop your skill set, each and every day.
- Learn who you are and who you are not.