Feb 7, 2018
Amy Locurto has been successfully blogging for almost ten years, and has seen so many trends come and go.
In this episode, we discuss how to experiment and find new revenue opportunities as a blogger (selling products, affiliate sales, brand partnerships, membership sites), so you can stay in it for the long haul.
Intro: [00:00:11] Welcome to the Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here is your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian: [00:00:11] Today my guest is Amy Locurto from Living Locurto. She is a blogger, a graphic designer, and an entrepreneur. Welcome to the show, Amy.
Amy: [00:00:22] Hi, Jillian. I'm so happy to be here.
Jillian: [00:00:25] So Amy and I, gosh, we've known each other for a lot of years. Andwe are friend in real life, and what I love about you is how you put it out there... about your business and about everything.
Amy: [00:00:43] Yes, I'm an open book.
Jillian: [00:00:47] So let's talk about Living Locurto. I know you have been at it for a long time. So how did you start it? And briefly how has it evolved over time?
Amy: [00:00:59] Oh, OK well, first of all, let me give an overview of what Living Locurto is about, for those of you that have never visited my blog. It's a DIY lifestyle, party and food blog, that features fun recipes, crafts, home decor, and travel. I love to travel, so I mix that in with my fun creative ideas. So it's very whimsical, it's bright. And, you know, we have a lot of bad things going on in life, and I want my blog to just be a place where you can go and find fun and cute things, and get away from it all. So that's kind of how I started it. I started in 2008, so I wanted this to be a fun place to go. I've stuck with that this whole time.
Jillian: [00:01:43] I will say, that Amy makes some of the most creative food crafts out there.
Amy: [00:01:52] Oh, thank you. Yeah, I started blogging in 2008, and that's when D.I.Y. there was basically just DIY, and parenting blogs, and there weren't a lot of food or party decor blogs at the time. And back then D.I.Y. meant home decorating. I love to decorate but that wasn't my passion. So I'm like, how am I going to do this? How to keep up with these bloggers. I don't even like to shop, you know. But I would always make things, so because I work with really corporate clients all day long, in my graphic design firm, I use my blog as a creative outlet, to share fun and creative things that I was doing at home with my kids, and back then, I was designing things for them, such as birthday party invitations and decor and homemade gifts for teachers. Lunch bag tags, chore charts, and things like that. So I started sharing those printables on my blog and that's when everything really started to take off.
Jillian: [00:02:56] And you were one of the first bloggers to really promote printables. Downloadable files that people can print out themselves. And anybody can DIY with printable.
Amy: [00:03:10] Yeah, we used to call them downloads back then. And at the time, there were four to five other professional graphic designers doing this, and we all knew each other we had our own little tribe. It was really fun to have a group of friends all over the world who could understand my passion for doing these over-the-top birthday parties and creative designs. My real friends in real life thought I was crazy.
Amy: [00:03:40] And you know it was funny because the five girls that were really... I remember, there was one girl and she had freedownloads.com and or something like that. She was like... I just wanted to be like her. I don't know what happened to her. But there are so many of us that went on to do other things and there's a few of us still left that do do this blog thing.
Amy: [00:04:02] Now how did you start monetizing your blog? Did you open an Etsy shop or how did you start thinking about money?
Amy: [00:04:11] I started my own shop. I thought what is this? Etsy. I'm not going to give them a percentage of my profits.
Amy: [00:04:18] I found a way to charge for my downloads on my own blog. And so I thought I'll test this out. If they love it so much and they're sharing it all, they'd probably be willing to pay for it, right. So I had a really popular free download that I turned into a $0.99 download and you would have thought I was like a horrible horrible person in the world, trying to sell a digital product.
Amy: [00:04:48] People just thought well why? Why would you do tha? And I thought well why not? I spent a lot of time designing this and you like it. So you buy it. And people did. And then I opened a store from that. I just started a whole new website called Printables by Amy. And so I kind of jumped on that wagon. You know, I think about six months into my blog, I focus mainly on my shop and collecting emails and things like that. So I could sell my products. And I'm glad I did, because now I still have that shop. It still brings traffic to my Web site. It's in Google. And if I had started on Etsy I don't think it would have been as lucrative.
Jillian: [00:05:36] And are you still getting sales?
Amy: [00:05:39] Yes. Still to this day. It was all evergreen product birthday parties, it's still there and I used those for a lot of other things. I still use those designs and they're super cute. It's party packs and little downloads and decorations for birthday parties.
Jillian: [00:06:04] I love the you saw this opportunity and you jumped on it and then you said, I'm going to start monetizing Why not? And you did and that it is still bringing you revenue.
Amy: [00:06:15] Yes it does. It's pays the bills. That was just a chance that I took because I thought why not? It doesn't really cost anything to do this, so if I'm going to make some money, I'll make some money. And so that's how I made money back then, because the ad revenue was pretty much nonexistent back right. Because people didn't understand what a blog was, so nobody was advertising on our Web site. So we had to contact businesses and talked them into putting an ad in our sidebar.
Jillian: [00:06:48] I remember that. So, today how do you monetize? You've got your printable business, you've got your graphic design firm, but let's kind of put that aside. How do you make money doing Living Locurto and all of your online ventures?
Amy: [00:07:11] My main source of income on living Locurto comes from my ad revenue and my client work.
Amy: [00:07:16] So yeah I work with several brands and I create unique content for them, or I work with them to promote a specific product on my own blog and my social channels.
Jillian: [00:07:28] So this is like sponsored content?
Amy: [00:07:30] Yes. Yes.
Jillian: [00:07:32] Did they contact you? Did they contact you directly?
Amy: [00:07:37] Yes. I've been very lucky with that. I have an "about" page on my website that says "work with Amy" and it gives a whole rundown, kind of like my press kit or media kit, right online so they can see how they can work with me, what I'm doing now, what I'm looking for.
Amy: [00:07:56] And are we a good fit? Contact me. And people find me through that.
Jillian: [00:08:02] That's great.
Amy: [00:08:02] I have reached out to a few brands that I've met at conferences and things like that, just to tell them a little more about me. But it's not like I said, I've got this idea... It was just more of an introduction. So I've been really lucky in that way. I don't I don't do a lot of pitches. I try to make everything very very open and honest on my website so they know that I do want to work with brands.
Jillian: [00:08:32] And what would you say is the ideal brand that would work with Amy Locurt?
Jillian: [00:08:38] Mmm well, I do a lot of work with movies. promoting movies and that is super fun because they're usually fun movies.
Amy: [00:08:46] Like I just did a promotion for the Lego Ninjago movie. And I do a lot of work for food companies. I've worked with Coca-Cola. I've worked with so many brands. so yeah, anybody that wants to do something fun and creative, mainly food companies. I think that works really well with me, or entertainment like the movies or something for kids. That's kind of my audience.
Jillian: [00:09:17] Got it. So now let's talk about social media, and you make some awesome videos. Tell me about it and you are also a YouTuber.
Amy: [00:09:30] Kind of.
Jillian: [00:09:31] So can you talk about your social media strategy and how it's evolved, and how video today fits into that?
Amy: [00:09:41] OK. I'm glad you asked this because I had to really think about this when you sent me the questions. I'm like when did I get on YouTube? I and I had a look back.
Amy: [00:09:50] I got on YouTube over eight years ago, because I needed a place to upload a video for some Photoshop tutorials that I was doing because, mind you, I've been a professional graphic designer for many years and I started in the business thing when I was in college was right. That was back when Photoshop just came out. So I had to teach my professors how to use Photoshop. So I've always been the Photoshop guru, so I started doing tutorials for another blog I had years ago.
Amy: [00:10:21] It was a photography blog, and I just needed a place to upload as well. I forgot about it because I embedded the video in my blog and then I went back, I think like a year later, and I saw that those videos weren't getting mega views from people on YouTube. I'm like oh my gosh, I didn't even think that people would find me on YouTube by just searching Photoshop tutorial or something. And that's when I was like oh gosh, this is where the direction of the Internet is going. And yeah, I got to do the things I'm doing on video, so that's when I really dove in, and you know, I got got a camera that would be better for video and jumped in had first to learn everything I could about video. I think I really started trying to grown my YouTube channel Living Locurto about four or five years ago.
Amy: [00:11:19] And do you monetize on YouTube?
Amy: [00:11:23] Well I mean I have ads over there, but the way to monetize there is I think, work with brands. And so that's what I've done in the past.
Jillian: [00:11:36] So a brand will come to you and say, Will you make a video?
Amy: [00:11:40] Yeah, well I think for YouTube, I mean that's a whole nother ball of wax. But you have to have a company that represents you over there. And so for me, I'm in a company I'm with a company called Kin Community. So they reach out to brands and if a brand wants to work with me, they'll contact me through Kin Community. That's how that works.
Jillian: [00:12:09] Can you share then how you think about video? Tell me about Facebook for you. And how how important Facebook is and how you have evolved in your strategy with Facebook.
Amy: [00:12:24] Well I evolved with Facebook because I was over on YouTube and I saw the difference between the video views on Facebook versus YouTube and it was just astronomical. Like I don't get millions of views on a video over on Facebook, versus ten thousand on YouTube, which for me 10,000 you know is a lot at the time. But there's just my people on Facebook, and YouTube is a much younger audience, so I just thought I need to be where my people are. So I've started focusing more on Facebook. So it's very important just because that is where my audience is.
Amy: [00:13:05] So yeah it's very important, whether you get traffic there or not, that's how you can promote anything to anyone. But it's really confusing and then you figure out something, and then they change it. That's the beast of blogging is Facebook.
Jililan: [00:13:31] How often then are you posting? Is it video? Is it posts? What are you doing on Facebook?
Amy: [00:13:38] On my Facebook page I try to post at least once an hour and sometimes even more than that. But there were days I slack off. You know, you can't do it all. And there's some days I'm gung ho about it. And I think my page would grow a lot more if I actually focused just on it. But I do too many things, and that's what we we do as bloggers, so there's a lot of people that have grown their Facebook pages because they focus solely on that.
Jillian: [00:14:10] Does Facebook drive a lot of traffic to your blog?
Amy: [00:14:15] It does. It does. It drives a lot, but it's not one of my top traffic drivers, but I'm not saying it doesn't drive any traffic, because when I look at it, I just see it in comparison to maybe Pinterest. So Pinterest is a whole lot more. But you know I looked today, and I thought, wow that is a lot of traffic from Facebook. Like I should look at that as a win. It's not a loss, and just because it's not the highest traffic coming over, it's great traffic, and you can also promote product there and I can also promote products and use affiliate links. That's a great way to make money.
Jillian: [00:14:58] So let's just unpack that a little bit. Go through how you put an affiliate link on Facebook.
Amy: [00:15:11] Well you can use any kind of company. There's all kinds of affiliate companies but let's take Amazon, for example. If you saw a product that you were talking about, that you liked, you can share a photo of it and say hey, you guys, tried this, like an instant pot or something. So just put your affiliate link in there, but you have to disclose that it's an affiliate link so you can say you know underneath underneath the description somewhere an affiliate link or or something just to disclose, and then if they click the link you know a cookie gets put on their computer. They might buy it, but they might come back that night buy something else, like cat food and then you'll get a percentage.
Amy: [00:15:55] Then you can also put a shop on your Facebook page. They've got a section if you've got a business page which most bloggers do. There's a shop area there, so you can go in and you can add a photo and put your affiliate link in there. And you can have a whole shop of affiliates stuff. There's a lot of different ways to use it. I have one Facebook page where I don't even have a blog I just share affiliate links over there. It's just a little community it's a small Facebook page, but it's really active page. I don't even have a blog for that yet. You know, it just kind of took off.
Amy: [00:16:42] But for now, I'm just putting in affiliate links. So am I making money.
Jillian: [00:16:46] That's amazing. I will say you are. You are the queen of finding ways to monetize.
Amy: [00:16:52] Well it's by accident too, like I think that as a blogger or an entrepreneur you have to find creative ways. You can't put all your eggs in one basket. You need to find creative ways to do things, so when I saw people years ago sharing my printables like bananas, I thought sheesh, there's only about four or five of us doing this. And so I rang them up, and I said well let's charge, let's start charging. And so we all did. And so we kind of started something new, and then eventually everybody started doing free printables. And so then you have to rebrand somehow and find another way to monetize. So there's always something creative, but I think that I like to give myself a time limit. Like I say I'm I'm going to try this. for one month and see what happens. And if it's successful I'm going to keep doing it, if it's not move on.
Jillian: [00:17:54] We just did something where we were trying Amazon products on Catch My Party to see if how that works for us. Ultimately, it didn't work very well but, what we said, my husband and I, were going to try this. We're going to see. And then we looked at our results, and it wasn't giving us the results we wanted. But then we said, OK how else could we test this? So we've come up with other ideas to see if we can make it work this way or that way, putting products here or there. So I love that idea because you don't know, people think they want a magic bullet, and the truth is it might be a magic bullet for you, but it might not be for me, and the only way I'm going to know is if I test it, too.
Amy: [00:18:44] And I tell people this all the time. I set my expectations very low. It's rare to have a product I'm going to launch. I don't say I'm going to sell five hundred of these in one day. I say, if I sell ten, that's a winning day for me because really that's probably going to be pretty easy. And then that makes me feel better, and I don't feel like a loser, because the day before, I had sold nothing because I didn't have anything to sell.
Jillian: [00:19:14] I love that attitude.
Amy: [00:19:17] Don't be hard on yourself.
Jillian: [00:19:19] That's the thing, I think that as bloggers there are always people who are bigger than you, who are more successful, and who are also writing about how successful they are and you always have to take that with a grain of salt, because usually they're trying to sell you a product on how they got so successful.
Amy: [00:19:36] Yeah I love that. I see about 50 of those at my Facebook feed every day.
Jillian: [00:19:41] Me too. It can't help but wear on you. And I always have to tell myself, like when you were saying, like 10 sales is a serious win.
Amy: [00:19:55] Yes.
Amy: [00:19:56] And I know we look at Facebook and think, oh we're get crappy traffic from Facebook. But really, Facebook is free, and if you're getting any traffic from there, that is a win. Even if you're getting only, you know, 25 clicks, that's better than no clicks.
Amy: [00:20:12] So we had to kind of change our mindset and we can't compare ourselves to others, because their success is totally different than where we are. Like let's say they might have their husband, like you got your husband working with you. My husband would never work with me. I'm doing this on my own. I don't even know what I'm doing and I've got kids. We're busy, so I work when I can. I have some friends that don't have children then they can work all day. Yeah I get so much done, and I have to remember that, like oh gosh, you know, they're single and they're just very organized and with it. Like I've got A D D. I'll run around. I see a squirrel and I run.
Jillian: [00:20:59] How many hours a week do you think you work on your businesses?
Amy: [00:21:07] A lot. I don't know. I mean I go in waves. I've established my businesses, But in the beginning I probably worked way too much. I missed out on a lot with my babies when they were little.
Amy: [00:21:24] I have mom-guilt over some of the stuff that that I did, because I was building. I built a graphic design firm and then the blog started.
Amy: [00:21:35] And that was just new territory so you didn't know what you're doing. I think now after about eight-nine years I got to have a grasp on it and it's pretty steady.
Amy: [00:21:44] So I can calm down and I can I take days off. But then like three days later I will work three days straight and then I'll take a week or so but I'm never... I don't ever just stop.
Amy: [00:21:58] I'm always dabbling here and there, especially you know on Instagram or Facebook or Pinterest... social channels. I'm always on. But I try to not look at it when I'm on vacation. But so I go in waves.
Amy: [00:22:13] I might work all day one day and then a couple of hours the next.
Jillian: [00:22:19] I think that's one thing that I also like about what we do, which is our time is our own.
Jillian: [00:22:28] So you were sharing with me last night, like, oh you're going to be up late working, but nobody is putting a gun to your head. You might have a deadline with a brand or something, but it's not like your boss is saying I need this on my desk tomorrow. It's oh my god I'm inspired, or I need to get this out or whatever. There are times, same thing, where I'm working late at night and then there are other days where I'm spending the day with my daughter, or I'm working on something really different. And I personally really like that. I like that flexibility.
Amy: [00:23:05] I love it. Yeah I've been working on my own since I was 25 and I won't tell you how old I am now.
Amy: [00:23:11] It's been a lot of years.
Jililan: [00:23:13] So what about your business are you most excited about?
Amy: [00:23:19] I'm glad you asked me why. That's what I was working on last night. So today, after we talk, I'm going to launch what's called "The Living Locurto Fun Club."It's actually sort of a revamped version of the membership section of my web site that I started about three years ago, and I shut it down and now I'm I'm reopening it. I've had so many so many of my readers asked me, are you going to open up your membership site again? which basically the Fun Club is a revamped version where you get exclusive content just for you.
Jillian: [00:23:58] So let's step back for just a sec. A membership site is your visitors, your audience, they pay you a monthly fee and then they get access to exclusive content or printables or things like that, or are able to you. What do you offer?
Amy: [00:24:16] What I'm offering are my printable designs. So I've got wall art, really fun. Well I've got invitations, calendars, planners, all kinds of stuff, holiday, Elf on the shelf ideas, and I've just got a plethora of really fun designs that you can download. You have access as a fan club member to a certain amount of designs all at once and then once a month during your membership you'll get some new designs. So it's kind of a fun surprise every month. You don't know what you're going to get. And then in the middle of that I've got discounts to my shop and other fun freebies that I do. It's a fun club.
Amy: [00:25:01] And do people have more access to you?
Amy: [00:25:05] I'm not in this. I mean yeah they'll probably be talking to me if they're e-mailing me. But it's basically just a section on my Web site that's just for certain people. It's ad free it's it's quicker to get to everything. It's just it's an easier way to access. And it's just exclusive content. This is content that's not anywhere else. It might be in my shop but if it's in my shop it's going to cost a lot more. Like you'll probably get it if it's in my shop for let's say $15. It will be only 50 cents if you get in my fun club it's just a perk.
Jillian: [00:25:48] And so it's going to be living on Living Locurto dot com.
Amy: [00:25:53] Yes. It's just another section on my blog. You know like have a category. That's what it is.
Jillian: [00:25:59] So if there was one piece of advice you wish you knew when you just started, what would it be?
Amy: [00:26:11] I have to think about this, it's a hard one. There are a lot of thing.
Amy: [00:26:15] I wish somebody would have explained to me to settle down, to stop the hassle. Because the reason why you are creating this business for yourself is so you can have the time to do the things that you want to do. So I wish somebody would have told me, you might look back and regret some of the things that you do, so settle down, and focus just on you know one path. Stay on a path.
Amy: [00:27:01] It's easy to get distracted so pick one main goal and stick to that, and then move on to that next and give yourself... Don't be so hard on yourself and give yourself time to enjoy the life that you're creating from this business that you're creating.
Amy: [00:27:19] You know have fun to play.
Amy: [00:27:21] I don't think I did enough of that when I was younger.
Jillian: [00:27:24] I love that. I think the thing that keeps coming up in our conversation is this idea of mindset, and how you frame it, because being a blogger can be fantastic and it can also be awful. And you could have the same Facebook traffic in both scenarios. It's like how you how you tell yourself the story of your own life in your own success.
Amy: [00:27:51] Yeah. And I think a lot of people worry too much about the following, like oh, I'm not as successful because I don't have as many Facebook followers, or whatever it is, and that's not true because it doesn't really matter anymore. I mean it is just certain brands, but if you want to work with brands, if you have a hundred really engaged people that's really all they care about. It's just kind of how you look at it, and how you sell yourself to the brands. And I think that's more important then than the following. It's kind of what's your talent. What's your what's your mojo.
Amy: [00:28:32] And so you sell yourself in that way, and not worry about what other people are doing so much. Like I said just enjoy and focus on your strengths. My strength is graphic design and creating really unique things.
Amy: [00:28:49] Brands know they're going to get something that's different and it might already be out there in some form, but it's going to be very different, the way I do it.
Jillian: [00:28:58] My favorite, just off the top of my head. You did these Curious George cupcakes I'll remember forever and also you made the cutest Oreo Minnie Mouse Christmas cookies.
Amy: [00:29:13] That is still going crazy and it's not anything new.
Amy: [00:29:20] But I put my spin on it. My Amy Locurto creative spin and I turn these Oreo cookies, that look like Minnie a Mickey Mouse, but I decorated them for Christmas. And it was like why hasn't anybody done this before? And I've done it for every holiday now. And yeah they're just really cute. And it's a no bake idea. Kids can do it. Any mom can do it any dad can do it. So that's the kind of stuff that. So I pride myself that I can create a simple little twist like that for a brand. And they love it, you know, and I can't get down on myself. I can't be hard on myself. My photos might not be the best or my videos might not be the best. As long as what I'm creating is really cute. That's all that matters.
Jillian: [00:30:09] And I think you take that into every area of your business. That little twist on something. We're going to do printables and then we're going to charge for them. We're going to take it and we're we're going to try doing affiliate links this way. I just feel like you take that, again mindset, into every area of your business and you find creative solutions.
Amy: [00:30:38] Yeah you have to try and do something to stand out. And like I said never give up. Learn from your failures. You know what not to do next time, like what you said when when you were putting up your affiliate links and they didn't work. I mean you learn, you're like yes, try this, and I failed a ton, but that was the only way I could learn to find the path that would work.
Jillian: [00:31:04] Yes. Yes I totally agree. I do. So Amy Where can people find you and connect with you?
Amy: [00:31:13] Oh well. Living Locurto and it's spelled just the way it sounds. L O C U R T O. I always laugh. I was into Ricky Martin back when I started my name... Living La Vita Locurto. So that's we're living Locurto came from. Living my creative life now, but it's just Living Locurto everywhere, on Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram and my blog is Living Locurto dot com. And then my Fun Club is online now. I'm going to be promoting it soon. It's Living Locurto dot com backslash club where you can learn about that.
Amy: [00:31:54] So yeah I'd love for you guys to join and come visit.
Jillian: [00:31:58] I love it. Amy thank you so much for being on the show.
Amy: [00:32:03] Well thanks for having me Jillian. You know I love you.
Jillian: [00:32:06] I love you.
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