Megan chats to Jilian Leslie about which types of digital products are good for food bloggers to add to their blogs and which ones are most effective to start with.
We cover information on what to consider regarding building courses, remember there’s an element of trial and error, identify a problem to solve to help others and what are best practices for offering digital products.
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Bio Jillian Leslie loves building businesses on the internet with her husband, David. In 2009, they started Catch My Party, one of the largest party ideas sites on the web. In 2016, Jillian and David built MiloTree, a smart pop-up app to help bloggers and creators grow their social media followers and email lists. In 2021, they built MiloTreeCart, the easiest tool for bloggers and creators to sell digital products. It’s built for non-techies.
For the past 4 years, Jillian has been hosting her weekly podcast called The Blogger Genius Podcast. She interviews successful bloggers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to break down what’s working now in online business. Jillian received her BA and MBA from Stanford. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and daughter, Lainey.
- Look at what impacts you and find a solution. Go deep into the solution.
- ChatGPT, Zoom, and Canva are 3 mainstream affordable tools available to bloggers.
- It’s all about discovery. You can’t create a product in a vacuum.
- Start with a good product, not a great product.
- Test ideas and see what sticks. Learn from your experience and customer feedback.
- Idea #1: Digital products – checklist, printable, e-books, guide, etc
- Idea #2: Offer a 1 hour paid workshop on Zoom.
- Idea #3: 1:1 Coaching
- Show up human and you will have people rally around you, support you and give your people a win.
- Get very specific to the audience you’re selling to and you’ll be able to charge more.
- What do you hear people ask you about? Check out problems shared on FB groups. Use this feedback to come up with an idea.
- Have another product ready to offer when you’re done doing a workshop or a call.
Click for full script.
EBT403 – Jillian Leslie
Intro: 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 their blog’s growth and ultimately help you to achieve your freedom, whether that’s financial, personal, or professional.
I’m Megan Porta, and I’ve been a food blogger for over 12 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.
If you have ever wanted to add digital products to your business and add this as a form of revenue to bring it into your business, you need to listen to this episode. Jillian Leslie from Milo Tree joins me and she talks about which types of digital products are good for food bloggers to dig into which ones are most effective to start with and we have a really great conversation about this. Enjoy the episode. It is number 403, sponsored by RankIQ.
Sponsor: Hey, awesome food bloggers. Before we dig into this episode, I have a really quick favor to ask you. Go to your favorite podcast player. Go to Eat Blog Talk. Scroll down to the bottom where you see the ratings and review section. Leave Eat Blog Talk a five-star rating if you love this podcast and leave a great review. This will only benefit this podcast. It adds value, and I so very much appreciate your efforts with this. Thank you so much for doing this. Okay, now onto the episode.
Megan Porta: Jillian Leslie loves building businesses on the internet with her husband, David. In 2009, they started Catch My Party, one of the largest party idea sites on the web. In 2016, Jillian and David built Milo Tree, a smart pop-up app to help bloggers and creators grow their social media followers and email lists. In 2021, they built Milo Tree Cart, the easiest tool for bloggers and creators to sell digital products. It is built for non-techies. For the past four years, Jillian has been hosting her weekly podcast called The Blogger Genius Podcast. She interviews successful bloggers, entrepreneurs, and industry experts to break down what’s working now in online business.
Jillian received her BA and MBA from Stanford. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband and daughter Lanie. Hello, Jillian, how are you today? So grateful to have you on Eat Blog Talk.
Jillian Leslie: Oh, Megan, thank you so much. I’m really honored to be here.
Megan Porta: Same. I’m just so excited to have you here. We’re gonna talk about digital products today for food bloggers and which ones you see them having the most success with. But first, we want to know if you have a fun fact to share with us.
Jillian Leslie: My fun fact is, before becoming a blogger and starting my online career, I was a writer in Hollywood for over 10 years.
Megan Porta: Okay. Explain.
Jillian Leslie: I worked on some movies like Freaky Friday. So I was on the set of that and wrote a draft of that, and I worked on a bunch of sitcoms and wrote some movies. But Freaky Friday’s the only one that really got made.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh. So why did you leave that space?
Jillian Leslie: I left the space because I had a daughter.I had a child and all of a sudden and it’s funny, I was pregnant and I was working on a movie with Salma Hayek and I remember thinking that I was just gonna have my daughter and like just go, okay, you stay home with a babysitter and I’ll just keep writing. As soon as I had my daughter, everything changed. I thought to myself, huh, Hollywood just doesn’t seem as cool as it did. I had a bigger job now, I was Laney’s mom.
Megan Porta: Oh, yes.
Jillian Leslie: It really did. I joke, but I say I was hijacked by my own biology. Becoming a mom just changed everything. My husband was a person at MySpace back in the day. I wrote teen movies and worked on young sitcoms. So we thought to ourselves, Hey, let’s start a site together as a side project. We were working on that, which ultimately is Catch My Party, which is our first site. So after I had my daughter and realized that this just didn’t seem as cool, I said to David, could we take our fate in our own hands and could we work on our own projects and our own sites and grow our own businesses? So I left and I remember going to my agents and saying, Hey guys yeah, I want to stop writing. I had an agent, a manager, a lawyer, and being like, Nope, we’re, I’m not doing this. That was what happened.
Megan Porta: That’s so cool. There are things that you just can’t anticipate about having children, and that is one of them. You just want to do whatever you can to focus on them. I found the same thing with me. Just like I will do whatever it takes. I need to be home with these people.
Jillian Leslie: That’s it. I remember so clearly. Being in a meeting and the way it works in Hollywood is you have all these meetings and you talk about what movies you’ve seen and what TV shows and stuff like for a long time before the meeting even starts. I remember sitting there going, I gotta get home. You don’t understand this is more imp I have something more important.
Megan Porta: Yeah. I can still relate to that. I was in the corporate world for a long time and oh boy, that was hard. That was the reason I started my food blog actually. Just being totally heartbroken after my second son was born and I had to go back after maternity leave. I was crying in my desk. I’m like, I can’t be here. I wanna be at home. I started my blog the next day. So that was my motivation.
Jillian Leslie: I completely understand. I didn’t know. I didn’t know until I had her.
Megan Porta: Yeah, you don’t, there’s no way to anticipate that, right? Absolutely. No way.
Jillian Leslie: Yeah. I would be like, I don’t understand these women who want to be home, and then all of a sudden I was like, all I want is to be home. All I want is to be able to chart my own path.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s so true. You have definitely done that. You guys have created so many amazing products and this kind of leads to our chat today, digital products really well. So how did you get to the point where you are just loving digital products so much?
Jillian Leslie: Okay, so during the pandemic I was lonely and I started a membership. It was really nice because I made David, my husband, be part of the membership and he was not super psyched about that at the beginning because he just wants to go off and build his technology. Ultimately we really liked it and we like leaned in with this group of women. What was so nice about it was we didn’t have to talk about the pandemic or anything, like how freaked out we were. This was way at the beginning of the pandemic and we could talk about our businesses and how they were growing. At this time, before Catch My Party. So just to back up, David and I started Catch My Party in 2009. It’s still going strong. You can go check out all our free printables for your parties and chances are if you’ve ever planned a party on Pinterest, you’ve ended up on Catch My Party at some point. Again, we get millions of page views over there. But what happened, I’ll make this very short, as we were getting a lot of traffic from Facebook for Catch My Party, and then all of a sudden Facebook started to tighten their spigot and we realized we were getting a lot of traffic from Pinterest and we needed to double down on that. So David, who can build anything, grew a popup to live on Catch My Party that would say, hey, follow us on Pinterest. It worked. From that, we rolled that out as a tool for other bloggers and creators to grow their, now all social media channels and email subscribers with our pop-up called Milo Tree. So then when we were doing our group, what we noticed is a lot of the women in the group wanted to do things like start a membership or sell digital downloads and we were selling digital downloads for Catch My Party. We noticed that it was really difficult and we couldn’t find a solution. Because also I would help them, I would consult and say, Hey, if you want me to help you set this up, I will.
I turned to David and I said, it shouldn’t be this hard. What I noticed was a lot of the women were great at building community and coming up with product ideas, but actually putting it together was like a total tech nightmare. Because with Milo Tree, what we learned was how to make incredibly easy technology on our customer side. So we have complicated tech on our side, but you can literally install Milo Tree on your WordPress site in two minutes, so we’re like, can we take that knowledge and can we apply it to Milo Tree Cart? Really that has been our Northstar.
I was telling you this before we pressed record. I get on calls with lots of our customers and hear from them, and this is what I hear all the time. I hate tech. Tech hates me. I’m horrible at tech.
Megan Porta: All the time.
Jillian Leslie: I suck at tech and I say it too, so it’s not hey, I’m on some mountaintop.
Megan Porta: It is a common theme.
Jillian Leslie: I just happen to be married to a guy who’s awesome at tech and can solve my tech problems, but I have them virtually daily. I feel like, for the rest of my life, I feel really smart, but when it comes to technology, I feel powerless. So we said, how can we empower predominantly female bloggers and creators to sell directly to their audiences? That was really the genesis of my Milo Tree cart. Building it with our customers has been so fun and getting on calls with them and hearing what their struggles are, celebrating their successes. I went to a blogging conference in the fall. It was the first conference I went back to. It was like a mastermind kind of thing. It was the first one I’d been back to since the pandemic. All women, all bloggers, and many food bloggers and I noticed there was a level of anxiety that I hadn’t noticed before. I used to go to lots of conferences. I noticed stuff like, Pinterest just had come out and said we’re ending the creator fund. Other people were complaining about the algorithms and third-party cookies going away and what that was gonna mean. Other people who did a lot of sponsored content were saying, yeah, I’m not the right person anymore. They’re not looking for some middle-aged white mom, they want very specific targets, and so they’re not hiring me anymore. I thought to myself, and I said them, what about selling products to your audiences? They were wanting to do it, but it seemed like it was too big a boulder to push up the hill.
Megan Porta: Even like just getting started, right?
Jillian Leslie: They had ideas because they know what problems they solve, but to actually make it happen and learn another quote-unquote platform and dig in, just seemed too much.
Megan Porta: Do you recommend that all bloggers get into this, selling digital products? Do you think it’s beneficial for all of us?
Jillian Leslie: I think today, with all of the tools that are available to you, which include Canva, ChatGPT, and Zoom, I don’t know how you don’t start experimenting with digital products. So with Canva, you can make a checklist in an hour. With ChatGPT, you can write an ebook. With Zoom, you can host a membership or do coaching. These tools now have become so mainstream. The other thing I hear a lot is I don’t have time, but my head of marketing and I decided to do an experiment and create an e-book. We used ChatGPT. Now we did not take it word for word, right? We put it in our own language. But just go to ChatGPT and say, write an outline for an e-book on X topic and it will get you so far. Then take each of those and put them into ChatGPT and look at the ideas that all of a sudden are right there ready for you to dig into, and we were able to write the ebook in, so we did it as like tag team. She’s the designer. Took about three hours to come up with this really robust 25-page ebook. We offer a Canva template for an ebook, and she put it into the ebook and it looks really professional. Now we’re starting to run ads to it on Facebook. We put it into Milo Tree Cart in five minutes and boom. So the idea when you’re sitting here saying, I don’t have time. I think you probably do.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s something that we could’ve said even five years ago that would’ve probably been accurate. But now, as you said, Zoom, and Canva, these tools all make our jobs so streamlined and so easy. So you can check those off. Dig in.
Jillian Leslie: The thing that I say to people is it’s all about discovery. Because in fact, I just did a podcast episode. I have a podcast called the Blogger Genius Podcast, and Megan, you’re an upcoming guest. I just did a podcast episode where I outlined the 10 mistakes I see bloggers making when it comes to digital products, and most of them are about not moving fast enough, trying to create a great product, when I say start with a good product. Starting with a course, I don’t recommend doing that. It is about trial and error. It’s about putting stuff out there and testing and seeing what sticks. Where can you get people to take out their credit cards and buy? That’s called product market fit.
Then how do you learn from your customers, and make your product better and better? Create other products related to that product. That’s how you start to get traction. So it’s messier than people think. It’s not going to be beautiful, but I don’t think blogging is beautiful.
Megan Porta: So you’d recommend just starting small. Start with something that you know, and that you think will serve your people. Just see if it’s working and if it does continue to build on it.
Jillian Leslie: Absolutely. It’s funny because in my list of mistakes, I get on calls with lots of customers and they have these beautiful ideas of what they want to sell. I’m going to sell a membership. It’s going to have all these moving parts. So at the beginning of the month, people are going to get a workbook, and then we’re going to have a library and it’s just magical. I’ve got a thousand members in my mind. I’m like, let’s pare that down right?
Megan Porta: Someday, right? That’s a great goal, but let’s start smaller first.
Jillian Leslie: Yes. It’s interesting because I’ve been thinking about this a lot, the stories we tell ourselves. That our success just is right around the corner and that it’s gonna look like you think it’s gonna look. Think of life, life never looks like you think it’s gonna look. I feel as a blogger, like it’s always scrappy. It’s always trying this and then trying that and seeing, and then talking to people and iterating with it. On my podcast, we were talking about how if you could go back to when you started and you’re like, I need a village. I need people to be giving me feedback and to learn from. It’s the same thing with building digital products. You can’t do it in a vacuum.
Megan Porta: Yeah. That’s powerful. Something that we tend to overlook when we’re digging in. We’re like, I’m gonna build an ebook empire tomorrow.
Jillian Leslie: Totally. Yeah. That’s why I say, please don’t start with a course. Even if people have said, I totally would buy your course. Guess what? If you can get them to pay you for it before you build it, that’s one thing. But if you’re just going, five people said they would be so psyched to buy my course. I go, no don’t start there. Wait. Courses can be great, but I would say not the first thing I would be digging into.
Megan Porta: So where do you recommend we start? Just with a simple ebook?
Jillian Leslie: Okay. So there are three places that I think are powerful to see if you can get traction. One is some sort of digital product. So it could be an ebook or a guide or a checklist or printables or something like that. By the way, I have at the end, I have a quiz where based on your personality, it’ll direct you to where I recommend you start. So for somebody who feels comfortable in Canva, who feels like they have a problem to solve, and by the way, when we talk about problems to solve, you said this on my podcast, I love how like things are so similar. It’s about going deep. Because, if I let’s say, I’ve used this example before, it’s like marketing for everybody. How do you know I’m everybody? Versus say, marketing how about Instagram for real estate agents? Or I don’t know, marketing on Instagram for millennial real estate agents?
Megan Porta: Getting very specific, right?
Jillian Leslie: As you go, whoa, wait, that’s me.
Megan Porta: That’s exactly me. There’s no question.
Jillian Leslie: Yeah, I need to buy this. Chances are, if you are targeting me like that, you could probably charge a more premium price because you are going to help, with a guarantee by the way, but if you can do that, chances are I will pay you more than just marketing for everybody.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Oh, that’s so true. Yes. Getting very specific. Making people feel heard and understood, I think goes a long way.
Jillian Leslie: Absolutely. You know me, you know my problems. We talk a shorthand that nobody else speaks in.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So true.
Jillian Leslie: So that’s one area. The second one, the one that most excite me, but it’s based on my personality, is doing a one-hour paid workshop on Zoom and hoping, ready for it, hoping that your tech doesn’t work. What I mean by that is, I say this to people and they go, oh God, but what if my Zoom crashes and I go, hopefully it will? Hopefully, it’s not a big tech problem. It’s something you can solve, like somehow you’ve muted yourself. Or you’ve whatever because people will rally behind you.
Megan Porta: Ooh, interesting.
Jillian Leslie: You don’t have to show up perfectly. You can have bad lighting. It could be a rainy day and Oh no. I’m dark on Zoom. It doesn’t matter, because you’re human. If you show up human and fallible, but also really knowledgeable and hopefully empathetic, you start to build your tribe in a way that is deeper say, than starting with an ebook. I say, all you do show up on Zoom with solving one small problem where you can give your people a win, a concrete win. So again, instead of being like, that’ll feel good, but at the end of it you don’t walk away with anything specific. But if you say here is this specific thing. Because at the end you’re gonna get this checklist or you’re going to get this thing where you will be moving forward in your life. I think that is so powerful and you don’t have to worry that you’ve got the right lipstick on and people are judging you, because you’re human.
Megan Porta: People like that now. That’s definitely a trend people are liking the more, just be real and show us your flaws type of thinking.
Jillian Leslie: Absolutely. I was thinking about Instagram and how who I follow has changed a lot. I started in, this is gonna sound superficial, but I follow Reese Witherspoon because, oh my God, don’t we all wanna be Reese Witherspoon? Now, the people that I follow are much more in niches that I’m interested in. So for a while, I had a glucose monitor on my arm to get healthier and stuff. It’s like, I wanna follow people who talk about that, who talk about the stuff that I’m interested in rather than the Reese Witherspoon of the world or the Rihanna. Not that I don’t follow them or see them, but they’re less interesting to me than people who are really speaking to me.
Megan Porta: It’s funny how things evolve like that, right? I’m the same way right now. Just my very specific interests are the ones that pop up.
Jillian Leslie: Yeah. Those are the ones that ooh, let me go through their profile and see what they’re offering, or go check out what they’re selling or I will dig deeper with them. Instead of just, oh, I want to surround myself with influencers who have perfect lives. That’s the other thing that I’m really pushing against is I don’t want people to just show me their curated lives.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s true.
Jillian Leslie: To be honest, it just makes me feel bad. I’m like, wait a minute. I also question like, why are you just putting this out? So that I’ve noticed in myself, what I’m craving and that’s what I recommend you put out. It’s why I teach like messy business building, which means you try stuff and hopefully it’ll work and it might not work, and how do you deal with that and how do you pick yourself up? I think that an authentic piece is so important.
Megan Porta: It so is. I totally agree with that. So once we get started and we decide whether we’re doing a digital product or maybe that Zoom call.
Jillian Leslie: Oh wait, and I have one more, just one more. One more that I recommend you think about, is one-on-one coaching. Talk about easy. Again, it’s not, I’m teaching marketing. I am teaching marketing to real estate agents who are millennials. I will help you by the end of this call, optimize your bio.
Megan Porta: Something very specific.
Jillian Leslie: Like that. Really concrete. We’re gonna work on it together and because I’ve set myself up as an expert at this, and I know the ins and outs of this, and by the end of this hour, you will have an optimized bio on Instagram to attract the right kinds of clients. But anyway, those are the three I recommend you start with. But you could start with a membership. One last thing about the workshop. You’re going to potentially hopefully record it. Let’s say it’s on Zoom, and then you can sell that as a mini course.
Megan Porta: Yes. I love that. That’s one of my favorite strategies. There’s so much power in a replay. It’s great to show up live to a webinar, but replays are just as awesome. So once we decide on what we want to start with, how do you recommend picking a topic?
Jillian Leslie: Ooh, okay. What I would think about is what you hear people asking you a bunch. Or, if you don’t have an audience that speaks to you, because my audience doesn’t even speak to me that much. Even though I prompt them constantly. Can you go into a Facebook group? Can you find out where your people hang out and listen to the ways they are describing their problems? That’s where I would start. So yes, you have a hypothesis, but I would validate it by making sure other people are talking about it. Using their language, not your language to describe it.
Megan Porta: What do you think about this strategy? I did this maybe a year ago, maybe two years ago. I wanted this. I wanted the exact language that you’re talking about, so I offered a few free calls, like coaching slash planning calls, and just really dug into food bloggers’ businesses. I wrote down their language and then I went back and looked at the scripts and I could see what the common themes were. I pulled those out and I used that as messaging to create paid products.
Jillian Leslie: I think that is brilliant. We have our own nomenclature where I might talk about, okay I might call it an opt-in and you might call it a freebie and whatever, or I always use this as an example, conversions. I know what a conversion is, so if I throw the word conversion around, which is a sale, you might know, but you might not. So what are you using? That is what is so important because I want you to know that I relate to you.
Megan Porta: Yes, exactly.
Jillian Leslie: As part of my whole kind of messy business building, I love that. Do stuff that doesn’t scale. Get on calls with people if they’ll talk to you or DM them. Just so that you aren’t building your business in a vacuum.
Megan Porta: Yeah, I told people about that experiment that I did and I had reactions that were like, you did what? You offered how many? Because I did two or three months of weekly calls for free. People were floored. I was like, you guys, this is a test. It’s an experiment. I’m going to get super valuable information and I get to help people along the way. So for me, it was very worth it. But I think a lot of people shy away from that sort of thing because it is your time and it’s your energy.
Jillian Leslie: I agree. This is where I say what is moving your business? Start, use that as your guiding principle.
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Megan Porta: So we pick something that we want to dig into. What about pricing?
Jillian Leslie: Ooh, that’s a good one. Ready? People ask me all the time what should I price this at. I go, I don’t know. But you can test it. Meaning, another funny example is somebody will say, oh my God, I have this idea for a digital product. What do you think? I have this conversation. And I was like, oh my God, I love that. I think that’s fantastic. The person said, so you think it’ll work? I go, oh, I have no idea.
Megan Porta: I don’t know. Let’s try it out.
Jillian Leslie: Meaning again because it’s about being humble. I don’t know. I can tell you what I think will happen, but only when you test it will you. So what I would say is, in the beginning, do not think about pricing as a way to make a quick buck, but always charge for stuff. It’s like this fine balance between, people who want to underprice themselves, oh, it’s only $5. But that also signals to your customer that maybe this isn’t that valuable. But then you’re like, I will charge $400. That might alienate a bunch of your buyers. So where is that sweet spot? I can, based on what you want to sell, give you an idea. So it’s not like I really have no thoughts about it, but how do I convey to my audience that what I am selling is of value and you should pay for it? Because this is this strange truism. Which is I value what I pay for. So for example, when people say, I’m gonna do a workshop, should I do it for free? I say, absolutely not. I do workshops where I’m talking about digital products and I’m also talking about the wonders of Milo Tree Cart. However, I will charge you $10 to come. Now is the $10 gonna make or break me? Absolutely not. However, I know if you’ve got 10 bucks on the line, you’re gonna show up differently. So I want to communicate to you, Hey, I’m teaching something of value. I want you because I know you will be more successful if you pay me $10 than if you just get the free replay.
Megan Porta: Yes. Yeah, that’s so true.
Jillian Leslie: And not ever listen to it or watch it. So I wanna communicate in my pricing that what I’m offering is of value. So I usually say don’t price things lower than say $9 if it’s a worksheet or something like that. Again, I don’t, depends on your niche and it depends on your people. But I would say with your first product, it isn’t about, oh my God, I’m going to get all these crazy sales for $400 each. No, it’s about building that relationship with that person. Providing that value so that you can then get on a call with them, or you can say, hey, here’s my next offer. So at the end of an offer, I always recommend you present your second offer. So at the end of the workshop, that’s where you go, hey guys, I’m offering some coaching. I am discounting my price just for you guys. Here’s the link to sign up and we’re gonna say, get your Instagram bio set up by the end of the coaching call, whatever it is. But make sure you are having one digital product lead directly into the next.
Megan Porta: So don’t provide a service or a tool or a product without having another offer ready to go.
Jillian Leslie: Exactly. Exactly. Again, it’s a great way to test the second offer because then if nobody takes you up on that, okay. So when you create the next workshop, you’re going to try something different. If that person takes you up on that offer and a couple of people want to coach with you, you love them, you provide so much value. That’s the other thing I always say at the end of a workshop, offer something personal. Again, I get that pushback of I can’t. I say offer a 15-minute call. Or you’ll review something.
Megan Porta: Yes.
Jillian Leslie: Let’s say you’re a photographer and you go, you send me your three photos that you’ve taken based on what I’ve taught you, and I’ll give you some feedback. Now you can do a quick loom video. You can just email them back some comments, you could get on a call with them. Then they say to me, how would I scale that? What if everybody takes me up on that? I say you would be the luckiest person.
Megan Porta: I was just gonna say that. Amazing for you if everyone takes you up on that.
Jillian Leslie: So you have to spend a couple of days or whatever doing these calls or doing these videos or whatever it is, but they will feel so connected to you and you will feel connected to them.
Megan Porta: I know not everybody agrees with me on this, but I tend to over-deliver, especially when I’m just launching something. Because that is going to be the thing that people remember. Oh my gosh, Megan spent 60 minutes with me for free and she gave me all of this valuable information. That is what people walk away with, that love that you share with people when you do it from a just a really good place. That’s gonna go far. They are more likely to purchase from you in the future. They’re more likely to do favors for you when you want something done.
Jillian Leslie: Absolutely. I think that it’s a fine line. Again, most of the people I coach and work with are women and we’re good at giving and sometimes we have a really hard time selling. So we want to over give and so you have to find that line.
Megan Porta: There’s a balance.
Jillian Leslie: There is, and it is about then charge not, not giving stuff away for free. I totally agree with what you did about getting on calls with people. But at a certain point, okay, now you go create that product and you charge for it. I say, when it comes to selling, this is funny, and people have said, really? But go be salesy. Because that’s always the freakout. I can’t sell because I don’t want to be salesy. So I say you are such a kind person. You being salesy is probably barely selling enough. So you go be salesy. Because to be honest, I haven’t met that many pushy food bloggers.
Megan Porta: No. Zero.
Jillian Leslie: Who is the car salesman? Again, population. I don’t think that’s our problem as much as it is we undersell. Hey, we put the ebook that we’re selling for $9 in the PS in your newsletter. Hey, maybe if you want this, it’s here. All the recipes are also on my blog for free, so don’t think you have to buy it. Almost apologizing. I’m so sorry to ask you for money. So I’m all about really stepping into your value, even when it feels weird. I find building businesses is the best way to work on myself.
Megan Porta: Oh my gosh, that’s so true. Yes.
Jillian Leslie: It makes me so weirdly brave because I’ve got to put food on my table, I’ve got to provide. So if I feel uncomfortable reaching out, I have to push myself to do it, or I have to push myself to sell, or I have to push myself to go speak at a conference. Whereas I don’t wanna do that. I don’t wanna do any of that.
Megan Porta: Yeah. Just to keep in mind that when you’re selling something that you really believe in and that is a good value to people, you’re actually serving them. You’re not annoying them. You are doing them a service.
Jillian Leslie: Absolutely. Or, I love this too, that people will say I’m going to create products and give them away for free so that I can then charge. I’m like, no. Please stop. Yes, you might have an opt-in for free, but no. I get paid for this.
Megan Porta: Yeah. So what are your thoughts about that? Because I do talk to a lot of food bloggers who create freebie opt-ins. Do you feel like that should never be the case, or in certain situations?
Jillian Leslie: Oh, I love freebie opt-ins. People get a taste. You are getting something of value, which is you are getting their email address. So I think that’s really valuable because you’re building your tribe of people. Then the hope is that you’re emailing them or connecting with them in a way. Or I’ve heard this so many times. My mom will go, I found this recipe. I go, really? Where’d you find it? She’s Pinterest. I’m like not exactly a Pinterest mom. That was somebody’s blog.
Megan Porta: My mom used to do the same thing. That’s funny.
Jillian Leslie: So it’s just yeah. How do you then be like, I’m not just a pin on Pinterest, but I’m a person. So getting that person on your email list is a real privilege. Yeah. So yes, I definitely think opt-ins are a great way to do this, but then you can go deeper with how you serve them and that’s where you can really put together some value. So where I’m seeing food bloggers have success is taking their best recipes and putting them together and selling them, but selling them on say the recipes that make sense. If you like this pasta recipe, great. Because I’ve got my top five pasta recipes. I put them together in a super simple ebook. Now, maybe all those recipes are on your blog, but what they’re buying is they’re buying the ease with which they have these recipes.
Megan Porta: Yes. The packaging. You’ve put the package together.
Jillian Leslie: Yeah. I’m telling you, these are high-quality recipes. There you will not go wrong.
Megan Porta: Yeah. You don’t have to search around. It’s all right here. Yes.
Jillian Leslie: If you trust me because I’ve built that trust, then hopefully you would want to buy this because I’m going to make your life easier.
Megan Porta: Yes. Amen. Most people would sign up for that immediately. You’re making people’s lives easier in some way. Okay. Let’s say we start with an ebook that we’re selling for, I don’t know, $9. How does that lead to something bigger and bigger? Do you recommend making offers that are increasingly bigger in cost until you get to a high signature type product?
Jillian Leslie: I recommend selling your ebook. Then I recommend building, especially with your first few customers, building a relationship with them and asking them what else would you want. Not as open-ended, but if I were to offer this, or this, would you be interested in any of those things? So again, I would start building with your community. Would you ever be interested in coaching? Would you ever be interested in a membership? Would you be interested in another type of ebook? Here are some ideas I have. So this is, again, this is where you have a hypothesis. Then you go test it.
Megan Porta: So a lot of what you’re saying is really just start delivering in some way and then you listen and you continue delivering based on what your people are telling you.
Jillian Leslie: Totally, which is where that idea, and when I say the word messy, I don’t really mean messy, but I mean it’s like you are steering the ship but with lots of input and you’re willing to pivot. You’re willing to go oh, I didn’t think of that. So for example, when we started Catch My Party, and if you could see our first permutation of Catch My Party, this was the biggest business lesson I think I’ve ever learned, especially at the beginning. We built it for teen girls. It was for people to show off their sweet sixteens and their quinceanera and their bar mitzvahs and big parties. Then it was really weird because teen girls didn’t want to add their party photos to catch my party. I’m like a 30-something-year-old woman chasing them around the internet. Hey, I look like a crazy stalker. Then what happened was, moms with Etsy shops who created say beautiful party supplies or printables or selling stuff like that were also throwing these beautiful parties. They started adding their party photos to Catch My Party with links to their Etsy shops. My husband and I were like, oh no. We’ve attracted the wrong audience. Ultimately then we stepped back and said, wait a second. Maybe we thought our audience was teen girls, but maybe that’s not who our audience is at all. Then as soon as we opened it up to Etsy sellers and said, yes, guys, please add a link to your Etsy shop. Instead of being like, wait a minute, they’re putting links to their Etsy shops. What do we want? We’re like, yes, we want that. Not only that, now on Catch My Party, if you put a link to your Etsy shop, we will import your Etsy products onto our site. By the way, yes, we make an affiliate fee for that. However, we started doing that before Etsy even had an affiliate program. So it was just a way to, again, provide value to incentivize people. Hey, if you add your party photos and your Etsy shop, this is a great way to get attention.
Megan Porta: Yeah. It’s like such a story of going with the flow all the time. We were talking about this before we were even recording. You have to, as an entrepreneur and food blogger, you’ve just got to be willing to pivot all the time and you can’t anticipate even what’s going to come. Maybe you can a little bit, but when you look back, you see you’ve made all of these winding decisions based on just what’s come up. You never would’ve been able to anticipate all that you guys have been through with Catch My Party, right? There’s no way.
Jillian Leslie: No, it was Catch My Party, our traffic is dropping because of Facebook. So we had to pivot and lean toward Pinterest. So my husband built a pop-up and it worked, and then we’re like, wait a minute, we could roll this out to other platforms. We didn’t start saying we’re gonna create a SAS product, which means software as a service. No. Or Milo Tree cart. We were intentional about that because there was this glaring problem that we kept seeing. It felt like all I want for female creators, mothers, and women, they want freedom. That’s why they’re doing this. Kind of what we were talking about way at the beginning. I left Hollywood because I needed more freedom and it felt like a sweater that was too tight and I had to take it off. I am sure many people listening to this know that feeling. That’s why they’ve started their food blogs because they want that freedom. So we were saying, wait a second, these women have communities. They have ideas for digital products, but there’s something stopping them from doing that. So what could we do to make it easier for them to open up to turn on a new revenue stream? That was the problem. That was the problem we solved. So we say, we are easy, we are for non-techies, we are for beginners. I want to lean into that. People will be like, oh, should you not say that? I’m like, are you kidding me? We offer free fill-in-the-blank sales pages. You don’t get a lot of customization. But guess what? You’ll have a sales page up in 10 minutes. That’s the trade-off.
Megan Porta: That’s huge. I hate writing sales pages.
Jillian Leslie: I know. And by the way, I’ve got these awesome prompts for ChatGPT, and boom, I can you can write your sales page and now not 10 minutes, five minutes. So it’s like, how do I help you to get your stuff out there to make the world better? Because chances are you’ve got solutions that people need.
Megan Porta: Oh, that’s so true. Everyone does. Everyone has solutions that people need. So being confident enough to just totally believe that.
Jillian Leslie: Exactly, and I have to say that it is so fun, like you were saying how we have these bigger blogs and then we have our podcast and our smaller businesses. Weirdly I feel this way and you shared that. You do too. It feels more personal because you’re much more invested in people’s successes.
Megan Porta: That’s so true. Yeah.
Jillian Leslie: So when I see people selling stuff who never thought they could. This one woman is selling now $500 coaching packages on Milo Tree Cart. She just sold three. I’m like, you go. Or food bloggers have had tremendous success with paid workshops. One food blogger did a baguette-making workshop where she made a baguette. An easy baguette and people showed up and boom, she’s like a French chef. Another one helped who’s more of like a nutritionist food blogger, did a workshop on how to help people get off sugar.
Megan Porta: Ooh. Yeah. There are so many topics, right? In the food world, the sky is the limit. There are so many things that you could dig into with food.
Jillian Leslie: Another woman did one on some sort of Indian food, like preparation for people who love Indian food, and that is, again, the more specific, the better. Yeah. That is, why it’s so cool Because again, you get to show up with people and make that connection and help them.
Megan Porta: This has been so great. Okay, so if you could put all of this in a just really small package for people. Here’s step one, step two, step three. If someone listening has maybe not explored this as an additional revenue source, where would they start?
Jillian Leslie: So please go to milotree.com/quiz. We made this fun little personality quiz where we say, start here. It’s gonna ask you some questions. And maybe you’re the kind of person who should start with the digital download. Maybe you’re the person who should start with a workshop. Maybe you’re the person who should start with some sort of coaching offer. In that digital download, I’ll give you a worksheet where you can just ideate I want you to move faster than you wanna move. I’d love you to just get stuff up. Then you can go to milotreecart.com, and check it out. So the way it works is we, and this came from our customers. We were initially gonna do it as a monthly subscription and people were like no. We wanna just buy it for a lifetime deal. So we sell it currently. For $349 and you get to buy it and own it forever. I get why they said this. One, they didn’t want another subscription. Two, they just wanted to own it and know that it’s there and they can just put up products and get sales pages and just test. That is the beauty of it. I’m like, we give you unlimited sales pages. We, for your digital downloads, deliver them to your customer. So all you do is just upload it, any sort of file, any sort of file size, as many products as you want. By the way, this is the other thing. This is like a perfect time to do this because you will get so much love from me and my team because I am so incentivized to help you be successful.
Megan Porta: Yes. Amazing. That right there is so much value.
Jillian Leslie: It’s back in the day. We were early on Pinterest. That helped us, we have something for Catch My Party. We have something like 1.6 million Pinterest followers, which we grew by the way, organically ourselves with our pop-up app. But could I say to you, hey, go start a Pinterest account and you too will get to 1.6 million? No. It’s not gonna happen. I promise you it’s not gonna happen. So it’s like that, please be on the ground floor with us because you will help us as we continue to build out our product and we just want to lean into you. So it’s a win-win again. Like you, Megan was saying that you wanted to do those coaching calls because you want to learn. Yes. I want to get on calls because I want to help and hear where people are struggling or hear where they’re having easy successes so that I can go, Hey, this worked for this person, maybe it would work for you.
Megan Porta: Yeah, we’re invested. We truly care too. Yep.
Jillian Leslie: Truly. So that’s the genesis. I feel like there’s so much to do as a food blogger. So much potential burnout and so many things that are out of your control. Like the Instagram algorithm or Google or god knows what, like sponsors, whatever it is. God knows what, but it’s true and like it will keep you up at night. I don’t know about you. It definitely keeps me up at night. So one thing that I feel, the people have said this to me, I feel it for my own business. When I can sell directly to my customers, to my audience, I own that relationship. If I can provide value, guess what? I can sell to them again and again. So it’s almost like it’s taking your business off of rented land and having more control.
Megan Porta: That’s so valuable right now. More than ever.
Jillian Leslie: But I would say it’s not like I’m promising you an overnight, oh my God, you’re gonna turn this on and make thousands of dollars. No. It’s about figuring it out and really looking for where you get traction and building off of that. And I think I shared this with you before we press record, but like somebody said to me I don’t understand. You talk about you’re gonna build a digital product empire and I’m selling a $5 ebook. However, just like we talked about, if you can sell a $5 ebook, chances are you can sell a $70 coaching session and you could sell more. Exactly. Then you’ve got your membership or your mastermind or whatever it is, and that’s how you grow your digital product empire.
Megan Porta: I love this. What a great conversation. So valuable for food bloggers, Jillian, thank you so much. We appreciate you and your time today.
Jillian Leslie: Oh my God, thank you for having me.
Megan Porta: So fun. So to end, I like to ask my guests if they have either a favorite quote or words of inspiration. Do you have something to share with?
Jillian Leslie: I do.
Megan Porta: All right, let’s hear it.
Jillian Leslie: This is something that, again, in my membership, I said. It was shocking and I’ve said it now almost to myself every day. I say it whenever I can. Do B minus work every day.
Megan Porta: All right. Yes.
Jillian Leslie: What I mean by that is when I said it the first time, I said, okay, here I had some homework that I offer. It was like, Hey guys, do this. Will you work on this and send it to me and I’ll review it? I said, but I don’t want you to do A-plus work. Please don’t do that. That’s too paralyzing. So I said, do B-level work.
Megan Porta: B minus is better.
Jillian Leslie: Because it’s above average. I am not telling you to do average-level work. I am telling you to do work that is good and a little embarrassing. Where you feel embarrassed but I wouldn’t feel embarrassed like seeing it. I always said to my members, if you think something is embarrassing and it’s bad, email it to me and I’ll tell you, I’ll be honest with you. People would do it. So far never said to somebody, Ooh, don’t post this. Because I think we hold ourselves to this incredibly high standard. We don’t then move as fast as we need to be moving, to be finding all of these wonders that are right there out there for you. So please, do B minus work every day. It won’t burn you out. It is above average and it will get you going and get you achieving success.
Megan Porta: That was beautiful and so refreshing, so thank you for that, Jillian. I loved that. That was amazing.
Jillian Leslie: But honestly, I have a Post-it right here by my desk and it says, do B minus work every day. Because I need the reminder as well.
Megan Porta: Ah, yes. Oh, I love that so much. We’ll put together show notes for you, Jillian. So if anyone wants to go look at those, go to eatblogtalk.com/milotree. I know you already did this, but do you wanna recap where people can find you, Jillian, online and on social media?
Jillian Leslie: Totally. Okay. So I have a podcast called the Blogger Genius Podcast. If you just google it, you’ll find it and you can get it anywhere. Please feel free. If you have any questions, reach out to me. I’m at [email protected]. I’d love to hear your questions. Check out, Catch My Party. We’ve got some great free printables over there. Also, our Milo Tree popup app is [email protected], but please check out Milo Tree Cart, which is built for, ready for it? Non-techies so that you can really turn on a whole new income stream and find the freedom you’re looking for. So please, I’d love to hear from you. Oh, and you can find us on Instagram at Milo Tree and stuff like that, but please don’t be a stranger.
Megan Porta: Awesome. Thank you again so much, Jillian, and thank you for listening, food bloggers. I will see you in the next episode.
Outro: Thank you so much for listening to this episode of Eat Blog Talk. If you enjoyed this episode, I’d be so grateful if you posted it to your social media feed and stories. I will see you next time.
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