In this episode, Megan chats to Sonila Zarate about how food bloggers can make extra revenue through the Amazon Influencer Program.
We cover information on how to apply to be an Amazon Influencer, what you can potentially earn through the program and best practices to make the most of it.
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Bio Sonila is a mom, wife, engineer and food blogger. Sonila was born in Albania and came to the US to study engineering. She met her husband (who was born in Bolivia) while studying at University of Miami. Her everyday cooking is influenced by both Albanian and Bolivian cuisines as well as the fusion of Miami’s food scene.
- Amazon is looking for influencers to post review videos of products.
- How is the Amazon Influencer program different to the Amazon affiliate program?
- Follow the rules on the Amazon page to get accepted – the exact criteria to qualify is not disclosed.
- For the review videos, pick items that are easy to demonstrate.
- Horizontal videos tend to bring in more commission.
- Keep videos simple and short. Shoot them as you use the products and add a voice-over.
- You don’t have to focus only on your niche or food blogging, you can review any items.
- What is the potential for income with this program?
- What is an optimal workflow to run a food blog and also keep adding videos to the Amazon Influencer program?
- It helps if you enjoy making videos and have experience to do it quickly.
Amazon account – see Sonila’s storefront
Click for full script.
EBT463 – Sonila Zarate
Food bloggers, hi, how are you today? Thank you so much for tuning in to the Eat Blog Talk podcast. This is the place for food bloggers to get information and inspiration to accelerate your blog’s growth and ultimately help you achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta and I’ve been a food blogger for over 13 years. I understand how isolating food blogging can be at times. I’m on a mission to motivate, inspire, and most importantly, let each and every food blogger, including you, know that you are heard and supported.
Megan Porta 00:38
Many if not all of us are probably looking for just a little bit extra revenue. Sonila Zarate joins me in this episode. She is the blogger over at Mediterranean Latin Love Affair. And she has really learned how to tap into the Amazon influencers program to make just a little bit of extra cash every month to invest back into the important things in her blogging business. She talks through everything she knows about this program, how she found it, how you apply what types of videos to make, how the commission works, what types of products to review, the potential for income and so much more. I predict that this is going to be one of the more popular episodes to end out this year. Enjoy the episode it is number 463 sponsored by RankIQ.
Megan Porta 01:29
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Megan Porta 02:36
Sonila is a mom wife, engineer and food blogger. She was born in Albania and came to the US to study engineering. She met her husband who was born in Bolivia while studying at the University of Miami. Her everyday cooking is influenced by both Albanian and Bolivian cuisines as well as the fusion of Miami’s food scene.
Megan Porta 02:58
Sonila, how are you today? How’s it going?
Sonila Zarate 03:01
Good. Megan, thank you for having me on the podcast.
Megan Porta 03:04
I’m so excited to chat with you. I know you’re a longtime listener. So you know the structure of these episodes really well. So you are also bringing an amazing topic to the table, which I don’t think we’ve covered. I mean, we’ve covered affiliates, kind of more generally, but we have not covered Amazon influencer program. So you’re going to talk about that today. But first, do you have a fun fact to share with us?
Sonila Zarate 03:27
Yes, I have a fun fact. Well, I’m from Albania, and my husband is from Bolivia. But we got married in New Zealand. That’s something so special for both of us. We didn’t have a wedding. We just went to the court. My husband was working there. I moved there with him. And we decided, Okay, we’re gonna get married and maybe we’ll have a wedding when we go back to Miami. We live in Miami. But then when we got to Miami, we’re like, you know what, instead of wedding let’s buy a house. But the fact that we got married in New Zealand makes up for the not having a wedding.
Megan Porta 04:02
Oh, that’s amazing. Yes. New Zealand wedding sounds incredible. And then where did you guys meet?
Sonila Zarate 04:08
We met in Miami. I moved here 23 years ago to study engineering and my husband was finishing up his studies at the time. So that’s where we met.
Megan Porta 04:18
Awesome. Love that story. Okay, let’s get into I know you have a lot to share about the Amazon influencers program. So let’s get into that. But first to kind of frame it. Do you mind telling us a little bit about your blog and your blogging journey?
Sonila Zarate 04:33
Yes, definitely. So I started blogging five years ago. I started initially as most bloggers do, I started posting some recipes online. It took me a while to figure out my way around building a blog even though like I had a technical job before having kids the blocking was a challenge to me. I was like, oh my god, this is harder than engineering. But I made I made it through I started it as a hobby and then little by little I started realizing, look, this can actually be more than a hobby, this can be a job this can be… And then my kids are growing up. Now they are 10-years-old and six-years-old, but then they were little. And my idea was I’m gonna go back to work as soon as they start school. But once they started school, they started with all this afternoon activities and all, you know, something, I want to be there for them, I want to take them to these activities, I want to drive them around. So it became more appealing to me to focus more on the blog as a way for me to be part of all the activities that my kids wants to do, but also feel fully fulfilled with blogging. And the easiest thing for me to post recipes that I learned to cook when I was little in Albania, they’re very typical Mediterranean recipes. And then I started learning from my husband, his mom, his sister, Bolivian recipes. So I started sharing recipes from his country of birth as well. So it’s a combination. That’s why everything is Mediterranean, Latin type of mix, and my blog, because I have two types of recipe groups in a way, you know, the Mediterranean type of recipes and the Latin American type recipes.
Megan Porta 06:11
Yeah, I was just looking at your blog, it looks so delicious. Everything looks so good on here.
Sonila Zarate 06:16
Thank you. It’s been a long journey, because when I started, my pictures were horrible. I didn’t know how to properly write the recipe. So many challenges, like it’s been five years of work in progress. And I still have a lot more to do in this where I wanted to tie in a little bit the Amazon influencers because even though I’m with Mediavine, and I have income from the blog, which I’m very grateful for, it’s been, you know, a blessing. But it’s at the point where everything that comes in already has is being invested either back into the blog or back into my family. So anytime I want to upgrade that camera, or take a new course, you know, I’m like, Okay, now I need to, you know, have a side hustle to, you know, feed it back into the blog and, and fuel, you know, the blog growth a little bit. So, last year, the the side hustle was Facebook Reels, that program came and went, I think it was nine months long, but it was very helpful. I got the Cooking with Keywords course using that side hustle, right. And then now I’m doing the Amazon influencers as a side hustle to blogging. So I can have, you know, like a mirrorless camera, or maybe get the audit with Casey. And then further down the line, I am eyeing a mastermind group. So it’s like my three, my three steps to grow. Because I really feel that, besides learning to improve the blog, we also need to invest back into it to make it more successful.
Megan Porta 07:48
So your kind of purpose for finding the Amazon influencers program was to just give you a little bit of breathing room, it sounds like to us, yeah, to do a few more things with your business and really help it to take off and accelerate all of that growth that is coming your way?
Sonila Zarate 08:04
Definitely, I feel like if you stay stagnant and the blogging thing, then maybe you will fall behind while everybody else is going that extra step, you know, either improving SEO or improving photography, or the it’s such a competitive field, the food blogging that I feel I need to keep up what everybody else is doing.
Megan Porta 08:24
Yeah, investing in your business in those big ways that you mentioned, is really important. And it’s something that kind of gets pushed to the side for a lot of people because it it’s like an extra thing. But the bloggers who do invest in that and figure out ways to make that happen, are the ones that like kind of accelerate that growth so much and you’re like, wait, they were at the same level? Why did that person go so far ahead? Well, they were in a mastermind group for a year and they had all of this, you know, relevant information given time. So yeah, there is so much value in that and I love that that was your kind of catalysts to looking into this program. So first of all, just maybe explain what the Amazon influencer program is, would you mind doing that?
Sonila Zarate 09:09
Yes. So Amazon I think has made it a little bit confusing, what the Amazon influencer program is because it has two parts to it. And the first part of the Amazon influencer program is influencers being able to have a storefront you’ll have a URL with you pick your own name and you’re able to create idea lists in that storefront with items that you use in your business. In our case as food bloggers the idea list would be something these are appliances are used or these are, you know, certain food items I buy at Amazon because my grocery store doesn’t have them. So you just tag already listings that exist in Amazon, and you have that URL to share with your followers. You know how Instagram makes it hard to share links and Facebook if you share too much you can get blocked for spamming. So Amazon created this idea of influencers where you can have a URL, you call it your own shop or storefront. And you list in there, what you actually use. And it’s easy for you to share with your followers, one link in Instagram one link everywhere else, without tagging any specific items. There you have this lists that you can group by categories.
Sonila Zarate 10:23
Now, the second step of the influencer program is okay, Amazon realized that when people are browsing in Amazon, they are looking sometimes at customer videos or customer pictures shared under each item. And the items that did have some videos and pictures, and sell a little bit better than the ones that don’t have this pictures and videos. So they started asking customer, hey, post more, post more, share more, but customers just buy and you know, forget about it, they they’re not interested in posting videos and pictures. So then Amazon turns to their influencers and said, Look, if you post videos of how you use this item, if you already own it, then share it on your storefront. If it’s a good video, we’ll tag it under the product page. And if people browsing this product buy after watching your video will give you a commission. So you start getting commissions, like as an Amazon associate, we only get commissions from people that come to our blog, read our recipes, and they click on the Amazon links. And sometimes they’ll buy, sometimes they won’t. So they don’t always need the items that we have tagged, they might have them already at home, in the Amazon influencers program. These are people that have no idea what we do, they don’t know us, they’re there in Amazon, and there are millions of them. So they just go browsing different products, and they might be looking for a lunchbox for their kids, or they might be looking for the best shoes for the beginning of the school year. If there’s a video in the Products page, and they watch their video, then you know, you’ll get a commission on it. The commission is a little bit less than the associates commission because these are not people you brought to Amazon, they were already in Amazon. So they had a little bit of a higher chance of purchasing. But I mean, these commissions add up and it turns into a very nice side hustle for some and I know a lot of other influencers that are making this their full-time deal.
Megan Porta 12:28
Yeah, that’s all very appealing, because we kind of come up to those limitations where like, you want to talk about a product or food or whatever the appliance like you mentioned, but we can’t because there are these rules that say like you can’t, yes, post those links in your email or like different places. So this kind of goes around that rule. But it also is such an opportunity to make money if you are willing to focus your time on it. Do you want to start with the basics? So how do you apply to be an Amazon influencer? And just like maybe note the difference between if people don’t know like between Amazon influencer and the Amazon affiliate program?
Sonila Zarate 13:08
Yes. So with the Amazon affiliate program, you can just apply for it. If you just put on Google, Amazon affiliate, they will give you the link, you follow the steps. It’s an easy process, you get accepted most of the time in the program very easily. But it’s a temporary acceptance 90 days, I believe it used to be 180 days, I hope it hasn’t changed recently. But you have to make three sales and that amount of time. And then you become permanent affiliate for Amazon and you can share the links following the rules. It always has to be in an open open forum, open Facebook group, it cannot be in an email or hidden groups or DMs, it has certain rules that you have to follow. But it’s perfect for bloggers. In our case, as food bloggers, a lot of us are part of the Amazon affiliate program because a lot of the items we share in our in our blogs are in Amazon, so it’s very easy. It’s very easy to share them via our blogs. Now with the Amazon influencers program. There’s also a very easy way to apply, but there’s two steps to it. First, you need to have either a YouTube account or an Instagram account – Instagram business like most bloggers do – a Facebook page or Tik Tok account. So you go through the first step and it’s an immediate approval or denial. They don’t specify what the criteria is to get accepted because they don’t want people gaming the system. But from conversations I’ve had with a lot of influencers on the topic is if one of these four accounts that you have is very active has engagement, you post constantly. It doesn’t have to be product review. So in our case we post the recipes were totally like within their parameters. Some people say 1000 followers I’ve heard some people say that they accepted accounts with less, so maybe the exact number doesn’t matter as much as much as it matters to have engagement, people commenting, people liking your recipes, people actually sharing. So I don’t know how they calculate the engagement. Again, they don’t say that. But apparently it has to be accounts that have some kind of activity in them. It cannot be just the followers.
Megan Porta 15:21
Okay. I kind of like that they don’t disclose exactly what they’re looking for. I think that’s so smart. Because then yeah, you’re right, people figure out a way to game the system, whether it’s like, oh, this number of followers or whatever, yes.
Sonila Zarate 15:33
And even even with this hidden rules, there are a lot of YouTubers who are trying to capitalize on this. And they share, you know, either videos or courses or ways to get accepted kind of fail proof ways. And some of them don’t follow the correct rules of Amazon and people see shifts where, you know, people get banned from Amazon and all that, you know, within few months. So it’s just follow the rules follow what they say on the Amazon page. It’s that’s the safest way to get accepted. Yeah.
Megan Porta 16:05
Okay. Well, that’s a great explanation. Very thorough. Thank you, Sonila. And then you mentioned the videos. So videos are a great way to get, like people noticing you and to get commission. So what kinds of videos are you talking about?
Sonila Zarate 16:21
Okay, so on the videos, this was the first step of the Amazon influencers program up to this point, everybody can do it, especially food bloggers, because we all have social media accounts. You try one if it doesn’t work, you try with the other one, you never know which account has more engagement than how they measure it. So you can keep trying even if it’s day after day after day, there’s no limit in trying to get the influencers account started. Now, the second step is videos. So they want you to post three review videos. For these three review videos, you can pick anything you know how to use, it can be anything from a lamp to a microphone to shoes to any product in your house, it doesn’t have to be something in our case related purely to food blogging, I think I picked a lamp, a grill cover and a cherry picker. So very, like items that are very easy to demonstrate, I felt that would be better than just talking about the item and just showing it.
Megan Porta 17:22
Okay, when you’re picking your items, do you want to pick something that doesn’t already have a video attached? Or does it not matter?
Sonila Zarate 17:28
That can be, that can work both ways. If it doesn’t have a video attached, it might be that the seller hasn’t activated influencer videos, or it might be that no influencers have posted the video for that item. And you cannot see in the Amazon page. Which which is the case? Is it the seller that doesn’t want videos? Or is it you got lucky and you are the first in that product. So I still do it. I still do the video for those for those items. If they don’t have a video, especially if they own the item. If if I was going out to buy it with the purpose of reviewing it, then I’d be like, Look, you know, here I might fail. So yeah, I wouldn’t take that risk. But in the beginning, if you have it at home, review it one minute long video, a minute and a half the longest people get bored longer than that we know with TikTok, everything is fast, fast, fast. So you just want to talk about the main points what you like about that product. You don’t have to make it too salesy because we are not sponsored by the brand. You just want to say I bought this because I liked you know, this feature about this product, it works this way. I’m a longtime owner, or I just bought it. So I don’t know all the features yet. You can make it very conversational. I know some people get very technical. And some people keep it simple. It seems to work for both of them because customers might be interested in your honesty, or they might be interested in getting into the granular details of the product. Like if it’s a laptop with for gaming system, you might want to get into, you know, very, very minute details about why that laptop would be great for this video game, which I don’t know those details. But if it’s a kitchen item, you can take a quick video as you are, you know, taking a reel for your Instagram. And in that time, you can also take a quick video for Amazon do a voiceover and you upload it on the product on your own storefront. And then Amazon later on decides if they will put it on the product page or just keep it at your storefront.
Megan Porta 19:30
Okay, and then how long does it take for them to decide usually?
Sonila Zarate 19:34
Well, the initial approval of those first three videos can take up to five days. I think it took five days for me back in May, in the past used to take up to eight weeks. So they’ve realized the potential of the program and they’ve added more reviewers I believe so they do like a two approval process meaning it can be approved and published in your storefront but it still doesn’t mean that it will go on the product page or you are approved for onsite commission, they have like a blue lock on the page where you know, once you unlock that, that blue bar, you know you are in in the program for both sides, like for your storefront and for the product page. And at that point your videos making into the product page, it’s a matter of do they have seven videos, which seems to be the maximum that they allow on a carousel. Once I saw 10 videos, so I don’t know why they chose the exception for that specific product. But most of the time I see seven videos. So it seems that’s where they max it at seven videos.
Megan Porta 20:34
I was gonna ask you about this, like the format of the video, do you do vertical, horizontal?
Sonila Zarate 20:41
Okay, so I started asking those questions in the beginning when I posted videos. And it seems that horizontal videos do a little bit better in terms of commission. But Amazon sometimes requires vertical videos because they have an app that they’re building called Inspire. So once in a while, they’ll throw in a bonus out there saying, Hey, give me some vertical videos. So because they want to use those vertical videos in this inspire app, which looks like a TikTok for shopping. But in terms of commission, like if you want commission on the items, horizontal seem to do a little bit better. The idea behind it, I don’t know if it’s true or not. But a lot of influencers that have been in this for a long time, have hypothesized that some buyers like to watch the videos in desktop or laptop. So the horizontal videos do better for them to decide on to buy the product or not. Maybe they’re at work, maybe you know, so they tend to be buyers of more products and horizontal videos, give them a better idea if they want to buy it or not.
Megan Porta 21:44
Okay, that makes sense. And then as far as like showing your face or you in the video or not do you know if they have a preference there?
Sonila Zarate 21:49
They don’t seem to have a preference. I do both some products in the video showing the product and in some other products and just show my hands like hands in pans like videos. I think both have done great for me because I think the customers are trying to see if this product works for them or not. They don’t have this social media feel of let me follow this influencer or this person maybe looks great or cooks great or they don’t follow you there. They see your video because they’re on the product page. And maybe they never see one of your videos again. So they are not very influencer-oriented. They’re product-oriented. So I feel for me, what has done better is focusing on the products even even when I’m on the video. Like I’ve put a video out there, how I colored my gray hair. And that’s one like I was on the video in that one. Because obviously you can’t show how you apply color without… But seriously on that one, I didn’t even want to post it but then I’m like, you know what, let me try it. You know, I’m not I’m not a makeup or beauty influencer. So that’s why I was hesitant on that one. And, and that video did really good. So you never know.
Megan Porta 23:08
No, that’s great to know, too. So kind of depends on the product it sounds like too. Like, yes, you can’t show your hair color without showing your face but some other things you would be able to.
Sonila Zarate 23:20
Yeah, some other things. I mean, I’ve shown water bottles, I’ve shown you know, said in the beginning, I was very hesitant to show things I didn’t feel because I’m so focused on the food blogging that everything I did was, you know, either food, grocery, kitchen, but little by little I expanded it to more items, some of my kids backpacks, or what they use for their sports or without showing my kids in the videos, because since it’s not even my social media, it’s just an Amazon. Like, when I show them wearing their shoes, it’s kind of just their feet, you know, yeah, I try not to put them on the videos. But the way I try to adapt the process to the daily life is I don’t want to add too much time to my to my daily routine. I try to hey, if I’m using you know this microphone right now, maybe you know after the podcast, I’ll take a quick quick video how I use the microphone or if I’m using this water bottle because my son had a tennis tournament you know, as we’re leaving the tournament, I’ll take a video of the water bottles so it’s kind of like a one minute here and there, taking videos as I’m using the product instead of making time specifically to take those videos.
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“Because we joke that you get hotseat hangovers. And you do, it’s because you get so much information given to you and people are sitting there dedicating that amount of time to you and your site and your questions and you’ve got this panel of people that are spending all of their brain power in that moment to help you. I feel like if you’re trying to grow or kind of take that next step in your blog, or you just need that outside kind of opinion and input, it’s perfect for that.”
Megan Porta 25:34
And then do you have any other recommendations for just kind of overall best practices for videos?
Sonila Zarate 25:41
Yes. So in terms of best practice, if if you’re going to review a supplement, be careful not to make any medical claims, even though those claims might be on the bottle, because they’re not FDA approved, or you don’t know if the claim is true. Try not to say, Oh, this is great for this, or this is great for that, you know, whatever the bottle claims, you can say it has helped me with, you know, 123, or it has helped me. So make it personal in terms of when you put the voice over the video, instead of saying this is… I’ve heard some videos not getting accepted for different influencers when they make medical claims. So I try to stay away from those videos completely.
Megan Porta 26:25
Yeah, yeah, anything else for best practices?
Sonila Zarate 26:28
Voice over is great. It helps you focus on just taking the video and then quickly with iMovie or CapCut, whatever your video processing is, you can do it on the phone, you can upload it from the phone, so it shortens the editing time. Try to plan the video with the you know, as you’re using the product. So when you take the video, if you can do a one minute or a minute and 10 seconds, 20 seconds straight. That will help you when you put it on iMovie just remove the ambient noise add your own voiceover and you can upload it. You spend less than five minutes to pause the video doing that. But if you take different takes, you know a little bit here a little bit there trying to edit it together. Trying to add the voice over afterwards. You’re making more work for yourself.
Megan Porta 27:16
Yeah, and with time I’m sure that gets easier to do as you do more of them.
Sonila Zarate 27:20
Yes, that was one of my main things like as I said, last year, I did Facebook reels. And then this year, the Amazon influencers, it has to be a side hustle that ties to my workflow, which is maybe doing reels during the day writing blog posts, and this part is part of my video editing. I’ve noticed influencers who don’t have the video experience they don’t post reels or or YouTube shorts, they have a very hard time with the program because they’re like, oh my god, two videos took me three hours. No, no, no, no, this is not supposed to take that long. You know, show the lamp from different angles on off couple of features one take and then add your voiceover and then post it you don’t need. You don’t need to make it too long or too complicated. So having the video experience the reels, the YouTube shorts, any video experience makes this program so much easier. Okay,
Megan Porta 28:17
That all makes perfect sense. Is there anything else that you would recommend for best practices for videos?
Sonila Zarate 28:22
For best practices, I think if you’re going to show kids in videos, an adult has to be present in the video, not just in the behind the scenes. I usually try not to show my kids faces but I know other influencers do because the type of product that they show, but usually then you’ll have to have either your partner film you next to your child, because I think Amazon even they might have about to approving some videos, but later on when they realize there’s a child in it, they might remove the video. So it’s better to always be in the video with your child if you’re showing.
Megan Porta 28:57
Yeah, good to know. And I suppose if it’s a product that is relating to a child, it might if you don’t mind showing your kid it might be good to do that correct?
Sonila Zarate 29:06
Yes, yes, correct.
Megan Porta 29:09
Anything else for best practices?
Sonila Zarate 29:11
There’s an area of the Amazon influencers program where sellers will start approaching influencers and say, Can you make a video for my product? At that point, you can say yes, I’ll make your video. You can charge. I know there are influencers who charge nothing which shocked me because as a food blogger, I’m like, Oh my gosh, how can you charge nothing for a video and I’m like you guys are lowering the price in the market. But there are different prices out there. Make sure you charge for your time. If you’re doing videos for a seller. Don’t take it as okay they are sending me a free item the free item might be $7 so you don’t want to put too much work behind it for for a free item. Make sure you charge for your video time because you are taking the video, editing the video, charge for your time and for your skills. If they approached you they saw something good. In your storefront in your video making or your style, or sometimes they’re looking for young moms, sometimes they’re looking for young students, you know, they might have certain specification and you fit in that specification. Don’t sell yourself short.
Megan Porta 30:18
Yeah, for sure. Love that message.
Sonila Zarate 30:21
Yes. All the influencers needs to charge for their time.
Megan Porta 30:25
Yes, anything else for best practices?
Sonila Zarate 30:28
I know, sometimes the sellers will tell you buy the product, and I’ll refund you later. Don’t do that. That’s against Amazon’s Terms of Service. And I think sellers try to have you buy the item. So their sales numbers improve and their item improves in ranking inside Amazon. Don’t do that. If they like to work with you. They have to send you the item.
Megan Porta 30:49
Okay. Great to know and then I have a question about products. So you mentioned before like you can do really anything so lamps, you know, fill in the blank cherry pitter. Should we think about staying within our food niche? Or can we go beyond it do you think?
Sonila Zarate 31:05
Can get that it took me a while to get outside of the foods niche because I’m so focused with everything food blogging, not getting out of my lane. Yeah, you know, not going into the lifestyle thing, even though like sometimes you get tempted, right? You’re like, oh, I went on vacation with my kids. And I wanted to show, you know, this, this trip pictures. Sometimes the followers in our social media don’t care. They like our recipes, but they don’t care about the rest. So it is very hard for me to kind of review items that had nothing to do with food and cooking. It took me a while to get outside of it. But I realized that in Amazon, they don’t care who the influencer is, sometimes they don’t even know what you do. So you have a storefront, they can go click into your storefront and then maybe follow your social media from there because Amazon allows for you to link all your social media. But in general, if they’re seeing your video under any item, and your video convinces them to buy the item, you get the commission and they might never hear from you again or see your video anywhere else.
Megan Porta 32:08
Yeah, that is kind of hard to think outside, then I can see where you had a stumbling block. They’re like wait a second, lamps don’t really apply to my food blogging business. So for that, do you create a separate storefront that’s like Home Essentials or miscellaneous or something like that.
Sonila Zarate 32:26
I have one storefront where I’ve put food pictures as the kind of like the main picture, and then my own picture so people know who I am. But then underneath I’m trying to add as many videos as I can. I have idea lists. So it’s helped me for my food blogging when I put the affiliate links on the food blogging, and then the videos I’m trying to group them into. They call it curation folders. So I have one for food videos. I have one for tennis videos, and I think one for shoes because my kids go through shoes every month. So I’m like, Okay, I’m I just want to review their shoes when they come in. And then you know, next month we get new shoes.
Megan Porta 33:05
Sonila Zarate 33:05
I started looking through my house for items, because it seems to be a little bit of a numbers game. I don’t have as many videos, as many other influencers do. But I am still trying to I’m at about 200 videos.
Megan Porta 33:18
Oh, that’s a lot.
Sonila Zarate 33:20
That’s a lot. But there are people out there with 1000s of videos. I’m like, I don’t know how you do it. I feel like I’m keeping up with the pace, but I’m not going crazy with it. But there are people who are really focused on it. And, and yes, you do have to have quality videos, you have to be clear when you talk, you’ll have to explain the product features. But also the commission adds up, the more videos you have. So people realize that and they try to publish as fast as possible. I’m trying to go through my house and I use the Amazon lens, they have like a search. If you’ve ever seen the Amazon App, you have a search bar where you can search by typing lunchbox, or thermos or anything. But on the side of that search bar, there’s a lens where you can kind of take a picture of a product and you see if it exists in Amazon or not. So I go through my house sometimes with that lens, and I take pictures of everything because I didn’t buy everything that I own in Amazon, but if it exists in Amazon, I’ll make a video for it. Yeah, absolutely.
Megan Porta 34:22
And that kind of leads nicely to my next question, which is what is the income potential for this?
Sonila Zarate 34:28
Okay, so how be open and honest with the numbers because I know that there are a lot of people out there who are selling courses on this and they are making, you know, publishing 1000s every month and then newer influencers coming in get disappointed that they are not in the 1000s. So I want to be purely honest, because I’m not selling anything. So I was like okay, maybe mine will be in the middle the potential like I’m at 200 videos right now I started in May. So it’s been an average of $200 to $300 a month just from commissions alone. And then the bonus, I’ll talk quickly about the bonus right after this, but like the bonus was, for me it was about $1,400. So between $200, $300 a month since May and a bonus of $1400 it was enough for me to get my R-6 mirrorless camera.
Megan Porta 35:22
Okay. I mean, that’s not nothing, but it’s definitely not.
Sonila Zarate 35:26
Yeah, exactly. So that’s, that’s why I call it the side hustle because I want to spend 10-15 minutes every day on it and keep my time purely like I’m very protective of my blogging time because I have very little time to blog. So any side hustle that takes too much time, I don’t want to do it. I want to completely just focus on growing my blog, but if it’s 10-15 minutes every day, I can do that.
Megan Porta 35:52
Okay, that is not much time. So 10-15 minutes a day is so good to hear. Because in my mind, I was thinking like how much like is even an hour would be way too much for me, but 10-15 minutes, anyone can carve that out. Right? Exactly.
Sonila Zarate 36:06
And I’m not too salesy. Like I mean, I started engineering, right. I’m a numbers person. I’m an analytical person, when it comes to talking too much of other products, then I started getting a little bit. This is not for me, so I feel going constantly at it everyday, 10-15 minutes is better than trying to knock out 30 videos in one day, which all make my voice a little bit like… maybe I wouldn’t sell anything if I if I did that many videos in one day.
Megan Porta 36:32
Yes, for sure. Okay, well, that’s good to hear. Thank you for sharing those numbers. I know a lot of people really appreciate the transparency when it comes to numbers. So thank you for doing that.
Sonila Zarate 36:42
And the bonus that Amazon gives, they have like every three, four months, they seem to have a bonus program and they sent an email, not everybody gets picked for it. I’m in the middle of my second bonus. So I got picked both times I got picked end of May and I got picked again right now. So in the bonus, they tell you can you make videos, the first program was just vertical videos, this time around is can you make videos that compare two of the same item, I’m like, Okay, I’ll compare two of my lunch boxes for the kids. Since the boy and the girl like they’re two different products in in Amazon, you can compare two air fryers two blenders two anything that you have two of our that have the same function you can compare to them, and it seems they pay $25 a video for those. So even if you never make a commission from that the bonus is quite substantial. So it’s worth it. Okay.
Megan Porta 37:40
Great information. Okay, so you mentioned you know, 10 to 15 minutes a day, which is great. Do you have a workflow or something that helps you stay on track with that?
Sonila Zarate 37:52
Yes, on the on the workflow, like if it’s a day I’m cooking for for the blog, or for making, you know, either a Reel or a TikTok or YouTube short, then I’ll try to see what appliance or what tools I’m using that day for for the videos that I need for the blog. And if it’s anything that I haven’t done a video for, for Amazon, then I’ll add an extra minute or two, or I’ll edit like I won’t do anything different to the video for the reel. I’ll kind of just edit it a little bit differently and say, Hey, look at this Dutch oven, you know, like I’ll do a different voiceover for the Amazon part. But I’ll keep I think I did the Dutch oven. You know what I cooked a rice and chicken dinner for I had a Reel in mind for Instagram. And then I shortened the video a little bit and I put my voice over said hey this that joven is great. It’s enamel. You know it doesn’t the food doesn’t stick, look at the rice, look at the chicken and I quickly made the dinner with it. Hope you like it for making your dinner. So I just changed the voiceover. But I didn’t take a second video so I was kind of repurposing content that I was making that same day for my blog.
Megan Porta 39:04
All right, anything else you do that helps you just streamline your process?
Sonila Zarate 39:08
I try to follow the routine, the daily schedule, have a very busy day between you know, the kids school is far a long commute. You know, it’s about two hours back and forth for me just to drop them off and bring them back. Their school is in Miami Beach and I’m in the Miami area. So it’s kind of like going through drop bridges and all that it’s you know, it’s a beautiful drive but doing it every day.
Megan Porta 39:30
Lots of time for podcasts listening, right? Yes, correct.
Sonila Zarate 39:34
I catch up on a lot during the drive. And then they have afternoon activities at different centers like the tennis the gymnastics, the karate, I have lost track. I have a schedule for everything, a calendar for everything. So I try to fit the videotaping for certain products to my current workflow. So if it’s a video for the food blog, then I’ll take a video of the items I’m using. If I’m at my kids sports, the other day, I filmed a video of the tennis ball hopper where you pick up the balls with with a basket. Without showing anybody in the video, it was a one minute video. Look, this ball hopper fits 50 tennis balls, it’s easy to carry the kids carry it, I can carry it, you can just go over the balls, and you pick them up with a with a hopper. And that was a video. So I tried to make it simple. I don’t want to add too much time to my schedule. So I tried to take the videos throughout the day, as I’m doing things that I noticed that that item exists in Amazon.
Megan Porta 40:33
Yeah, okay. I love it. I love that you have such limited time. And you know this. So you are required to be so efficient. And you’ve just figured out ways to do that and make this work in your schedule.
Sonila Zarate 40:44
Yes, I’m very protective of my blogging time, because it’s a very small time. And I know I have to be purposeful when I when I blog, so I can keep it going. And everything else that I take upon has to be has to serve a purpose has to help somehow with the main goal of blogging.
Megan Porta 41:01
Okay. Yeah, makes sense. And then last question for you, Sonila. Are there any downsides of the program? Would you ever say for someone that this wouldn’t be a good fit?
Sonila Zarate 41:13
Yes. So if you don’t like making videos, I don’t think this is the program for you. Because it will become frustrating really quickly. And I see that in some influencers, Facebook groups, that video seems to be a little bit of a problem for some influencers, especially if they’re used to just writing or posting pictures. Okay, the other downside is, sometimes not sometimes, but quite a lot. Amazon does a lot of testing, they are a big company, they need to run a business, they do a lot of A B testing, meaning they put the carousel of videos up top closer to the main product picture or they put a carousel of videos all the way below the comments that people have left. When they put the carousel all the way to the bottom, you rarely get any views on your videos, when they put the carousel on top, obviously, you have more chances of being seen and making a commission. So there is a little bit of fluctuation. And sometimes they will remove the videos completely. We don’t know why. And the videos appear again three, four days later. But it all seems to be a lot of testing that they do. Maybe they are evaluating how the program works. Maybe they’re evaluating if having influencer videos is good for them. I don’t know. But if you rely on data, and if you’re an analytical person, which I know most food bloggers like to look at Google Analytics and Google Search Console and looking what was the good and bad, you know, if you delve into the data, you might be disappointed with this program, because it won’t be consistent. It’s hard to draw any conclusions. So I just focus on pushing videos out if they do good, great if they don’t do good. Next week, I’m posting new videos. And whatever it’s bringing in, it’s a bonus for me, because I’m not spending my whole day on this. It might be different for those that are making this their full time gig.
Megan Porta 43:00
Yeah, yeah, I think that explanation makes sense. There are a lot of people that are so data driven, that would be maybe discouraged by it.
Sonila Zarate 43:08
A lot of them, especially if they have it as a full time gig, they already ran out of products in their home to review because they’re doing a lot of products every day. So at that point, they go out and they buy more. And the way they they make the buying process is looking at how many videos are on the product. They will buy they’ll review it, they’ll post it and sometimes they get no views. So it’s like why did I buy this for why did I make this investment for so when it gets to investing back into this program, I think people need to be careful because we don’t know how long the program will last. We don’t know if the videos the influencer videos will always be in a carousel of seven maybe they’ll lower it to two maybe they’ll make it 10. We don’t know, so…
Megan Porta 43:56
Yeah, that’s the thing about programs like this like you just you don’t know all the details. So you’re kind of like in the river just enjoying the flow of money like I at any point this could stop just like the Pinterest Creators Program that was in existence last year, it just abruptly ended so you never know. So take advantage like follow the rules when you’re there and I guess just see how it goes and where it where it takes you right?
Sonila Zarate 44:21
Yes, I think that’s part of the world of content creation. We have a lot of this smaller opportunities coming in. For example, I didn’t get accepted in the Pinterest creation bonus. I tried so much. I never made it to that one but I made the Facebook Reels one which I never expect. I never expected to to have that one happen. The Facebook Reels on it happened I was happy with it. So something happens all the time. Keep your eyes open for a side gig if you need it to fuel your business or if you need to, just to keep you know the blogging alive.
Megan Porta 44:53
Yeah, I love this. This is such a good opportunity for people who just need that little bit of additional value. So thank you for bringing this topic to the table. Is there anything else we should know about before we start saying goodbye, Sonila?
Sonila Zarate 45:05
on the Amazon influence program? I think we covered a lot of it. So I think I think we’re good with that. But I, if anybody has any questions, you can you can ask me questions what I know, I’ll share. But you know, maybe they’re, I mean, they’re Amazon has so many other programs within their system that I’m not aware of. So I think the sky’s the limit, they have live streams for influencers, they have merchandise programs, where you can connect with sellers. So you can make this a full time thing if you want to. So I just am not at that point. I’m just keeping it as a part time where it helps me with my blogging. Absolutely.
Megan Porta 45:43
I love the way you use it, too. Well, thank you so much for being here today. Sonila, it was such an honor to just have a conversation with you and help share this value to food bloggers. So thanks so much. Yeah,
Sonila Zarate 45:56
Thank you. Thank you. I hear your voice. And I’m like, Oh my God, I feel like I know you for so long as.
Megan Porta 46:01
Yes, we’re friends. We’re longtime friends. Yeah. Do you have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration to leave us with today?
Sonila Zarate 46:08
Yes, I do. I have a phrase from Billie Jean King, where like a tennis family. So we love everything about tennis. She says “Champions keep playing until they get it right.” So I think this can motivate anyone, not just in tennis, but it’s you keep trying until you achieve your goals.
Megan Porta 46:28
Oh, that should be the motto of all of our lives. I love that so much. Great choice to end on. So we’ll put together a show notes page for you, Sonila. If anyone wants to go look at those you can head to eatblogtalk.com/latinloveaffair. I shortened your blog URL a little bit, but tell everyone where they can find you online.
Sonila Zarate 46:48
Okay, so I can answer DMs via Instagram if anybody wants to reach out. You can find me as Mediterranean Latin Love on Instagram. But I also have Facebook, Mediterranean Latin Love Affair – the whole URL of my of my website and for my recipes obviously I have the blog which is MediterraneanLatinLoveAffair.com
Megan Porta 47:08
Everyone go check out all of the handle she just mentioned and thanks again for being here Sonila and thank you so much for listening today food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat BlogTalk. Don’t forget to head to forum.eatblogtalk.com to join our free discussion forum and connect with and learn from like-minded peers. I will see you next time.
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