255 | The Power of Networking for Local and National Brand Deals with Alex Stewart of Sassy Confetti

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While we've seen major shifts in the influencer and creator space over the last few years, one strategy has still stood the test of time. Networking. There is so much power in going to events, showing up, and building relationships. In today's episode, Alex Stewart joins us to share how her brand has grown and pivoted over the last few years and why she attributes a lot of her success to networking.

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Bree: Hello Thrivers, welcome back to another episode. Today you're going to listen in on a conversation that I had with Alex Stewart. She is a blogger, social media, podcasting, babe, who's got it all going on in Chicago. And we talk about income streams that are working best for her, what keeps her motivated.

And then what has contributed to her success, and we kind of wrap up our conversation by talking about her biggest tip for dealing with haters on the internet. It's a great conversation, so let's dive in.

Bree: Welcome to The Thrive Podcast. If you're a blogger, influencer, you've found the show for you. I'm Bree Pare, your host and blogging coach. Here to help you take your brand to the next level. At Thrive, our mission is to equip Bloggers and influencers with practical tactics and strategies that can transform your brand to give you the lifestyle you want.

We offer tutorials, workshops, and a supportive community to accompany you on your journey. I created the Thrive Podcast to give you simple, actionable steps that you can use to drive real results in your business. I also wanted to give you a peek behind the curtain of others in the industry that you look up to.

Our guests share strategies they've used to grow, revenue streams that are working for them, and insider info you won't find anywhere else. Now let's get ready to thrive.

Hello, Alex. Welcome to the show. Thanks for having me. Excited to be here. How's it going? I feel like we're kind of neighbors ish. We're neighbors. We're neighbors. We're neighbors. Yeah. We're Midwest girlies. Midwest girlies. How is everything going? Tell us about yourself and just tell everybody, like, you know, what's your elevator, I want more than the elevator speech, though, let's be honest.

I want more than that. Tell us all the details.

Alex: Okay. So, I'm Alex. Uh, I like to say the voice behind Sassy Confetti. So I have an Instagram and TikTok platform. I also have a blog that includes, I sell like clothes and, uh, tchotchkes and fun stuff on there too. Love it. My own personal blog. line of stuff. I like to say stuff because it's like anything I want to buy, basically.

Bree: I mean, that's the best kind of shop to have. Yeah.

Alex: It's just my shop. I also have a, well, I guess my Instagram is about me. So the easiest way to say it, it's a lifestyle blog. Brand and I like to talk about all things Chicago because that's where I live plus size fashion because I'm plus size I talk about my life my goings on things to do travel basically anything that has to do with me My brand is me perfect.

Yeah, that's my niche me And I also have a podcast It's called Swipe Fat, and it's about dating while plus size. We started during the pandemic because we were bored. Um, and Weren't we all? I love it. Yeah, exactly. So now we have that, and on top of it, we started doing Swipe Fat, trips, vacations for plus size women.

So now we travel like twice a year we're going to Ireland, hopefully Bali, later this year. Yeah. That's amazing. That's amazing. Oh my gosh. That's so much fun. They're really cool. It's life changing for everybody because a lot of people who are plus size don't want to take up space and travel is one of those places they don't want to, they don't want to be looked at differently.

So it's, it's really cool to be able to travel with people who've like, didn't think they could or were worried about it.

Yeah, we've been featured in Huffington Post and the New York Post and the Washington, all the posts, the Washington Post. All the posts. I love it. About, being like a podcast that breaks a lot of barriers for, size inclusivity.

So that is, you know, my day to day, those three little things.

Bree: Little things, she says. My empire. Your empire. Okay. I'm so glad that you guys have gotten featured and gotten that exposure and, you know, getting it, the word out there to more people. That's fantastic.

Alex: Yeah, TikTok's been a real help with that.

Good. Yeah, because we started doing, I saw, like, I was just scrolling on the Tiki Taki and I saw this one guy way back when it was like four or five years ago, right when I first started and he was like tagging like everything like plus size Tik Tok or fat talk and I was like, wait, I'm sorry. You can be on different.

I didn't even know you could be on different sides of talks. back then, you know, cause you can be on different, like, you can be algorithms

Bree: and everything. And I was like, wait, I can be

Alex: on a talk. That's just for plus size people. That's great. So we started posting and it kind of blew up and I think that's how people were finding us and listening to us and stuff.

So. Plus reporters, journalists and all that. Yeah.

Bree: That's amazing. Okay. So take me back to the beginning, you know, cause you had your brand before that podcast and everything. Right. So how did you get started in this space? What was, what's your background? All the things.

Alex: So my background background is in marketing.

Yeah. I, Though I went to school for English literature. So, I mean, yeah, yeah, exactly. Bop around. Anytime I talk to someone in college, I'm like, it really doesn't matter, like, what you graduate

Bree: in. Like, That is the conversation me and my husband have. We have a little one year old girl and we're like, who knows?

Like, even, like, already 2024, we're like, eh, she doesn't have to go to college if she doesn't want to.

Alex: I mean, plus I can only imagine when we're 50. I mean, like it could be doing something completely different. Who knows? Yep. 100%. And you can teach yourself like literally anything. So, I mean, I never thought I would own a business cause I was like, I'm bad at math, but like, you know, you can hire accountants.

Exactly. We love our accountants. I got some. It started because I saw a bunch of people on Instagram posting about food, and I was getting frustrated because I was like, you're not going to the good place.

Bree: Like, this is garbage.

Alex: Yeah. I was like, I can do this. I can do this. And this is back when, like, it was just photos, you know, this is like 2009, 2010, and, there's no stories.

It was really just photos. And so. Yeah. It was less about personality and more about just like straight up photo content. What I started to see other people making it like, A brand like I didn't really think that that was like something that you could do I thought it was just like a fun little app and I saw people like becoming personalities on it and I was like, maybe I should be sharing more about myself and maybe I should try to do this a little bit more seriously And so I started going to like more networking events and like foodie events And eventually started sharing because I would go to these events people would be like, oh you have amazing style And i'd be like I do I didn't know that.

Oh, thanks. Yeah. Okay. They're like, let's take photos. And so I started posting that and then just started snowballing into like being more about me and less about food and more about just like my whole entire life. And I think it was helpful when stories came out because I could be myself and people were like, wait, you're fun.

I want to like hang out with you and I think that that's where it started to become like a real thing for me that I saw like there is potential there for it to be something and I was starting to get some brand deals like really low level stuff but I was like this is cool and I also I mean like not to this is true I'm sure of everybody like but I was like I want free stuff.

Oh yeah. Great. Yes. And why don't Especially back then when we're all poor and Yeah. I was so I was in my 20s. I was like, I need stuff. Yes. Free meals. And so, yeah, that's sort of how it became. And then during the pandemic, I think a lot of people stopped. , posting because they felt like they didn't have content and they felt like there was or like people were just sad, you know, like it was hard and, I was sort of like, well, this feels like my chance to like explode a little bit more because I was like, well, brands still need the help.

Like, especially. Small businesses in Chicago. So I was like, we just need to pivot and talk about different kinds of stuff. Like take out and like in Chicago they started doing, people were getting real creative. They started doing, walk up windows so you could like go get drinks. And I started doing this series of like where you can go get drinks and walk around the neighborhood and you know, like you don't have to go inside and yeah, that like got some like traction.

And so I started doing that. Seeing like more and more brands were like, I want to work with you because of the pandemic. But I think that's because a lot of the other people in the space started to thin out. And I think for me, it's always been about consistency. And I think that that helped me a lot during that time period.

And then when Reels started, which I was very hesitant to, be a part of, it changed the platform completely, completely. And I was like, I guess. Again, you gotta pivot. You always have to pivot. Were you on TikTok before Reels? Yeah, but I was like doing random stuff. I was like, yeah, dances. It was just for me.

It was just like fun. I was like, TikTok's gonna be my fun space. And yeah, Instagram's my business. This is, you know, like, I'm gonna have fun over there. But then I saw people starting to do like the same content. So yeah, I do both now. I just I prefer Instagram so much more because I feel like it's more of a community.

Um, and that for me is like what I, what gets me going and why I like doing this. I feel like TikTok, you just like talk into the ether and then you like don't really have to interact with anybody.

Bree: Yeah.

Alex: I mean, you can obviously, but I feel like the people I know who do it and like really love it, like it because you can kind of just talk and it's there,

Bree: um,

Alex: and you don't have to do much with it.

I feel like Instagram, I like DMs and I like that. Shit chatting with people. I like

Bree: the conversation. I'm like, I'm already in my head. I don't need to like get another place where it's just me, me, me.

Alex: Right, exactly. And I think like stuff like it's all about connection. Even if someone disagrees with me, I'm like, you know.

My favorite pizza is not going to be everyone's favorite pizza, right? Like, I have one of real that's going around right now and it's starting to pick up some steam and all these people are coming and being like, you're wrong. And I'm like, okay, I mean, where's your favorite? I'll try it next. You know, like I, I still like that conversation because it's like, yeah, it is my opinion.

Yeah, I'm not, I'm not like, everything's an opinion, right? Even eater and infatuation, like all those places, it's everything's still an opinion. Yeah. So

Bree: it's fun to like, think back to of like, I love that you shared like all the way back in the beginning and like, just the, like, cause when Instagram came out, I mean, I had a blog and so it was like, Oh, okay, well then I can start posting some stuff over there, I guess.

But like, there was no like super strategy or anything going on over there. It was like, yeah, it was like, Oh, this is a little photo app that you can share with your friends. And then you

Alex: couldn't even share links at first, you know? No. No. You couldn't really do anything. No. And there was like not even a place, I think at first you couldn't even have a link in your bio.

I doubt it. I don't think you could. I don't remember having one. Me either. So it's sort of like people would still have to be like, okay, I'm going to go to Google and I'm going to like find your blog, you know, things started to evolve so much more when people started making it like an actual, you know, place to make money.

Bree: Right. So you talked about. You know, staying consistent through all that, right? Like through the starting with the Instagram with like little squares with all of our fun filters and the food, right? To staying consistent through COVID and the, you know, 2020 especially. So what are some other things that you feel like have really contributed to the success and getting you to where you are now?

Alex: I think networking is such a big part of it and something that I think. People who do this might have a hard time with because I I do think like being in social media you can hide behind

Bree: you

Alex: know your Little square, you know, you can, you don't have to go out of your comfort zone. A lot of stuff can be done over email, but I've found that like the biggest partnerships and brands that I've worked with, I'll go to events and I meet them.

And we have like conversations before, you know, we even get to signing an agreement. I mean, I'm working with a brand that I met two years ago, a long, long haul here to get the money, but you know, it worked and When they finally had the money, like they talked to me first because, you know, we stayed in touch and, she followed me and we DM and I think like the networking thing is, is such a big part of it.

And, cause I see this discourse a lot on threads, which I feel like somehow I got on complaining threads. Oh no. Yeah. It's just influencers being like. No, everyone wants me to work for free and yeah, a hundred percent agree Like there's a lot of that going around. However, I do think it is worthwhile sometimes to work with brands on a low pay or Free capacity to get in the door that is so gonna be dependent on The brand, a lot of things, so many things.

Like I'm not saying we're for free, I'm not saying we're for free. Okay. But there is something to be said for, you know, doing that sometimes. And I think for what is

Bree: your like criteria there for doing that?

Alex: So a lot of times, like, I feel like I can say brands, right? It doesn't really matter. So I've worked with Toyota before and they a lot of times don't pay, but they will give, big ticket items to people for free or for in exchange for work.

Like I went to Lollapalooza with them four days in VIP for three years in a row. And for me, that was worth doing. Some free work for them during the year in exchange for getting that deal year after year, right? Yeah, and Still work with them sometimes in a smaller capacity But you know like they've also reached out and I went with them to Arizona Last year for spring training to see the Cubs and that was really cool.

I think sometimes for experiences I think it's super worth it for smaller brands like local brands I like doing like a, a one off, like, let's try this. Let, let me show you that I can convert because I think they have such a small budget

Bree: and,

Alex: It's a big risk for them to take on, to be paying people.

And so if it's a local brand, I totally will work with you to figure out what that's going to look like. Now, hopefully for me in the end, that means it's going to convert to a sale eventually, for me, then I'm going to make money. But, Now, big brands, no, not usually. Right. That's a different story.

Unless it's a different story, you know, like they should be paying you, they have a budget. And if they don't have a budget, ask them to come back when they do. Mm hmm. You know? Yep. And that's okay.

Bree: Yeah. That's completely fine. They're gonna get a refreshed budget in probably two months. So. Exactly.

Exactly. It turns over pretty quickly. Yeah. I agree. And, and I was curious about that too, because you do so much talking about local and stuff and, I think that's, I think it's a great way to connect with your audience and have that community. And also, like, I don't know about you, but I love being able to, like, find small ways to be able to give back.

Yes. And, like, to help, helping small businesses is, like, one way that I love to do that. Same. So,

Alex: I'm big into small business in Chicago and helping in any way I can. And I have a small business rate, too. You know, so if there is a small business and I personally don't think it's a lot and I've had brands say it's not a lot, you know, so, and they still, they probably get more traction because it's local, and people are interested in it, you know, whereas for a big brand, it's a little bit harder sometimes to get people to like engage.

Bree: Yeah. No, I love that you have like the rate for local ones that you'll start with and then bigger ones. I have all sorts of rates. The rate sheet goes on forever. It's like four different ones. You have to, you have to. I know. Yep. There's so many different scenarios. Mm hmm. Um, well, okay. Speaking of that, what income streams are working best for you?

Is it working with brands?

Alex: Yeah. Brands is my number one way that I make money currently. I, and I, I think that's all from networking and then also like seeing, I think other brands see the other content and then they like reach out. I pitch too. I pitch different brands if I really want to work with them.

How do you feel like that's going for you? It's okay. It's like, it's always 50 50. I mean, I feel like you just, you shoot and you miss like 50 percent of the time and it's okay. Well, I mean, like a lot of times they'll email and be like, Oh, I don't have budget right now. Or just like, we're not really, we've already like picked our influencers for the year, but like, we'll think about you for the future.

And I think that's fine too. Just like putting yourself in the game. You're putting your foot in the door. Yeah, it's sometimes really hard, especially if you're like, you know, I'm, I'm more of a, I think technically I'm micro. Um, so sometimes it's harder to like, if you're not on a local level, you know, like on a local level, I feel like there's usually like a set group of people that are getting the deals.

Right. But on a national level, it's a little, it's harder to be seen.

Bree: Yeah. What do you think is like, do you have like a number that you're like personally shooting for where you're like, Oh, if I could hit. this amount of followers, then maybe brand deals are going to come through better?

Alex: I don't know, because I feel like once you hit pack, once you are like macro, is that the name that's?

Yeah, I think we'll go with that. I've heard it's sometimes harder right deals because you almost have like, too many many. Yeah, I want too much your budget's too high. Your budget's so much higher because you have more people. Yeah. Yeah, and I mean I be fair like I feel like my rate is like based on what my engagement is to and then my conversion So like it's already Pretty Yep.

Up there. 'cause you know, it's like, I am gonna be converting sales for you. Right. Like, that's what this job is. Right? It's sales. I always laugh because my dad was like, I don't know how to explain your job. And I was like, just tell people, I'm in sales. , I'm in sales.

Bree: There you go. I'm in sales.

Alex: It's like a hundred percent.

I usually

Bree: just say, I'm like, oh, I'm, I do marketing. Marketing, yeah. Market sales

Alex: and marketing. It's like, yeah. Mm-Hmm . And then my aunt was like, oh, that makes some more sense. I was like, okay, whatever you need it to be.

Bree: So it's those like awkward, like parties that you go to where nobody does what you do.

And you're like, how, what do I say that I do today?

Alex: I know I went to an event recently and I was like, I'm an influencer, but I like, Really hate that word because I feel it has such a bad connotation for people who aren't in the industry and who don't like understand Like they just automatically think Kim Kardashian and like shallow.

I'm so

Bree: tired of it, too Like I I was just having a conversation with Harley Jordan She was on the podcast a few weeks back and we were talking about that and just it's so frustrating that it's like got such a bad connotation because It's not a, it's not a bad word and it perfectly describes, you know, what we're doing, you know, we're creating content and we are, you know, showcasing things that does work.

Give influence. Yeah,

Alex: right for our followers and like our audience. I know not a

Bree: bad thing It's not all we're all influenced by something whether we want to use that word or not

Alex: I know and I like to I think people right now like want to think that they're not Influenced by people because it's become this like weird Like, word, and I don't know.

Yeah. But I said it in front of this woman and, she was like, you should say it proudly. That's really cool. And I was like, alright, you're right. I should.

Bree: Oh! Okay. I thought she was going to say something bad. Okay. No. I love this.

Alex: Yeah, yeah. She was really cool. We're actually having, uh, drinks this week.

Yay! Okay. I know. Well, this is what the networking comes in handy because I, it turns out she's a, medium. Medium. How sick is that? Wow. And she knows all these people. And so she, I, I do events too for, like sassy events. And, I'm going to be doing one for the summer solstice and she connected me with this like tarot reader.

Yeah. So it's like, you know, people know people and then they connect you to other people and networking is so, so important. And I know that it's, it's, it's, It's so hard. I'm going to get that.

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Where do you kind of start? Like, especially if you're going to do, like, do you recommend, like, start by like going to a conference or is it like start with something local and if it is local, what do you go to? Yeah.

Alex: I feel like a conference

Bree: is like

Alex: terrifying, like even for me, I feel like that would be scary.

No. Okay. We need to go to

Bree: a conference together. Writing

Alex: this down. I'm dragging you with me

Bree: to my next one.

Alex: I can do it. It's just like definitely intimidating. And if you want to start low, I would do like a, Um, and people are always like, how do I get invited to like influencer events? But I think, that's where I would start like in a small local, like influencer, like type event.

There are all sorts of groups out there. Like in Chicago, there's like socialite. Chicago, like, Influencer Chicago, Chicago bloggers, and they all have these, like, events where you can meet other bloggers who then, like, might take you to an event and then you can meet people there. I think the big important thing is going to these things and then, like, finding the people that are important.

To the place you're going to, because so many people go to these things and just like don't talk to anyone or only talk to the friend they brought. You know, Kalahari you're in the Midwest, you know, you might in Wisconsin Dells. It's a, um, it's a water park, um, indoor water park. And um, I did an event with them, I was like contracted for it.

But. I just noticed that none of the other influencers were like talking to the PR team at all. And I was like, this is like a missed opportunity guys. Thank you. Because I spent most of my time talking to them and you should ended up getting a deal with travel Wisconsin out of it. And I think, yes, because like, I don't know.

And it doesn't, You don't have to be sitting there talking about work, like we ended up just talking about like places I've gone in Wisconsin and she was like, Oh, actually, I'm going to connect you with my friend who works at Travel Wisconsin, like she would be like, she would love to work with you. And I was like, Oh, okay, cool.

Like I've worked with them before. But you know, I'll do like another contact. You never. Yeah, it's a big department.

Bree: Not going to turn that down.

Alex: Exactly. And yeah, so and then the PR guy, like he works for tons of different. Brands, not

Bree: just That's the thing with, like, people in PR, like, they have multiple brands that they work for and nobody ever stays with one job forever either.

No. You never know where they're gonna go next.

Alex: Yes, that actually happened to me recently where, um, I worked with a med spa five years ago and I was part of their, like, ambassador program when it first started and then this guy moved, um, started working with Enjoy Illinois. So I worked with them for St.

Patrick's Day and I was on one of the places, like, they were dyeing the river green. Like, it was insane. I know, I was like, should I retire now? Like, it's the coolest person. Like, I can't get cooler than this. Yeah, exactly. But yeah, and Again, it's, but it's through like, okay, like let's follow each other on Instagram.

Let's DM, like DM with them and not in a like super creepy everyday way, but like he and I really liked housewives. So we started like just every day we'll be like talking about housewives. I know. Yep. Such a community. It's such a connector. Bravo.

Bree: It just brings everybody together. It really does. So what's keeping you going lately and just motivated to keep posting and showing up for your audience? I mean, especially when you've got, you know, so much going on, you've got, you know, your own content and then your podcast and now you're, you know, you're hosting events.

So, What's helping you stay going and motivated and also like taking care of yourself?

Alex: Yeah, that's a hard one I'm really bad at that actually the taking care of myself thing in that I need to slow down a little bit and I think it's hard Like I only started doing this on my own as full time. I guess it's three years now And so I feel like you're kind.

Yeah, I feel like you're in this like hustle mode all the time Yeah, you're just like You're the only one who's making the money for yourself. Right. And it's stressful. And so I think when I first started, I was definitely in this like scarcity mode and I'm trying to be better about not being in that scarcity mode and like taking any deal.

Um, which isn't not taking any deal. Like obviously there are things that I turned down, but you know, like, um. Even small stuff, I guess, like, uh, that I don't really think is going to be super beneficial in the long run. I would still take, cause I'd be like, Oh, 400. That sounds great. But. Yeah, I mean, recently I took a vacation and I tried to, this is so sad.

I'm like, I tried to not post. Um,

Bree: but it's also so relatable. I'm sure to every single person listening.

Alex: Yeah. I tried to not post. I was like only five stories a day. Okay. That's as most as you can do. And I will, I did notice that I took like zero content and. Like, I'm used to it now because of Reels, taking little three second clips of everything I do during the day.

And I didn't really do that while I was gone because I was like, well, what do I need it for? And therefore had like no photos and videos and I was like, wait, did I go on vacation? I have like three sunset pics. I have no proof. Yeah. Doing stuff like that. I think it's gonna be I'm gonna start doing that more.

I have friends who take like weekends off From like posting. On their feed, maybe on stories is, you know, I think that's the thing is like, maybe not. I post every day right now. And I think that's just habit. Because when this was, Instagram was starting, that was like, and when reels were going, it was like almost like recommended you do that.

doing to a day, that I was like trying to keep up with the Joneses and now they're saying like, okay, you don't really have to be doing that much anymore, which is great. But now I'm in this like habit of like, I need content. So yeah, I'm trying to do less of that and take care of myself that way. And I think like the thing that is always going to keep me going is just being talking to people.

I'm in my DMs like most of the day. So I didn't like all these people are like, you respond so fast and I'm like, well, my favorite part. That's what I like doing. So, and the, and the events, I think it's so fun to do these like community based things where I get to meet people, and actually like connect with them on a different level and, you know, meet in person and actually chit chat.

I'm sure like, people like come up to you and then, or like DM to you on the side and been like, I didn't, I wanted to say hi, but I didn't.

Bree: Yes. I've been on the

Alex: events.

Bree: When my friends is like, that person wants to talk to you, but they're nervous. And I'm like, what? Just talk

Alex: to me. I know. I was like, I'm a normal human.

I'm a normal human with a

Bree: messy

Alex: room right now. Exactly. Just come and hang out with me. I like it. So yeah, that's the thing that I think just. It just keeps me going. Ugh, you're making me miss in person events so bad. They're kind of, I mean, I still love them. I know a lot of my friends who are like bigger, have bigger accounts, like don't go to them anymore and I'm pretty selective now about what I do go to because I used to just say yes to anything at the beginning because I was like, this is how I'm going to meet people.

This is how I'm going to get deals. And it was true. And I do think that that is. It's a good place to start. Like if you're getting invited, like go, go to everything and then start to realize like what's not worth it or what's worth it to you because everything's

Bree: But you have to go and see first before you are able to find out like, okay, this type of event is good and this type is, you know, not so good.

Yeah,

Alex: cuz now I'm like cuz I love I mean I do a lot of food content and I don't really like going to Openings anymore because I was

Bree: gonna say you probably get invited to so many restaurant events

Alex: Yeah And it's like I don't want to go to openings because they're you're gonna give me a bite sized little thing of food and I need To show my audience like what it really looks like.

Bree: Yeah, so no because like I And opening event is not the experience that my audience is going to have. No, and they're going to be mad at me. They're going to be like, well, why didn't everybody give me free drinks? And yeah, where's the caviar? Exactly.

Alex: Where's the shot? Like I saw one recently that was Friday and I actually wasn't invited to it.

And I was like, I'm glad because I would have gone, but there was like nothing there to show what the food was like. But they had one of those ice sculptures with like, you could take a shot in it. What are the ice? Yeah. I was like, okay, but then people are going to be mad. There's no isolation.

Bree: Yes, I'm going to go.

Well, I don't know. Now I have questions about the germ situation.

Alex: I know everybody putting their mouth on the same thing. I have no idea. I didn't watch anyone actually do it, but I saw that they had it. It looks fun. It looks, it looks fun. We used to do them in college a lot, but we also Right, who

Bree: cares then?

Exactly. Oh man. Okay, I love that. So to kind of like wrap this up, so I don't chew your ear off all afternoon. I would love to know, how are you dealing with haters lately? Just people that are meanies on the gram or on TikTok or, I know you get it. Oh. Yeah. How are you dealing with it lately? I think everybody does.

Um,

Alex: yeah. Yeah, I think that's been one of the harder things to deal with, especially like I'm plus size and I do talk about food. So, and the things that perform the best are unhealthy food because that's what people are going to, Eat when they go out, right? Like, um, you don't want to hear about the salad.

No, no one wants to hear about a salad. Okay. No one, no one. Um, unless it's like a salad with fried chicken in it, then that goes bonkers. Gourmet, a million toppings. You can barely see the lettuce. All right. So much dressing.

Bree: Yes.

Alex: Yeah. So I get a lot of, hate from, from that, like, Oh my God, she ate that whole platter of sushi.

Like, are you guys dumb? No, of course I didn't eat that. I actually had one roll. Not even. And so, yeah, I think Also, it's

Bree: none of your business. So go back. Exactly. It

Alex: is none of your business, um, what I eat. And you also don't see my diet. Like, you have no idea what I eat on a day to day basis. So yeah, I do get a lot of hate and, sometimes it's just turning the comments section off, honestly, if it gets really bad.

I think that the hard thing is like, when things go viral, which is what we want, We want things to go viral, you're gonna get haters no matter what because people are gonna comment. They're also

Bree: sparking the algorithm and kicking it out for you. Right,

Alex: and you're like, okay, so I don't want to turn off the comments because that's gonna make me not get more followers and not get the views and blah blah blah blah blah.

But I think it's like, Once it becomes, like, something that you're focusing on, like, too much, turning off the comments is 100 percent necessary. I also, um, if it's just a few here and there, I report and block, like, a crazy person. And for a while I was fighting back, which, um, I don't think was I was gonna say, are you responding at all or are you just ignoring?

Yeah, sometimes. I think I get the most annoyed when it's women who are commenting on, you know, My eating or my weight and it's sort of like, I thought we were supposed to be on the same side. Like, why are you being a pick me right now about like, I don't know. It's so weird to me. Yeah. Um, so if it's women, usually I will.

And I've had, like, some good conversations come out of it, actually, because I think women are much more, um, able to have a reasonable conversation back and forth. Um. Sometimes. Yeah. Sometimes. Not always, obviously. I just had one where it was, like, this, uh, woman who followed my podcast co host and has been following her forever.

And then she came on my page and was just, like, comment after comment, like, one day. It was just, like, comments on everything I've ever done. Just one in a

Bree: row. Yeah. Yeah.

Alex: Yeah, and I was just like dude, we're what is going on and like why aren't like women on women hate? I just hate it so I responded to her and she was like well I've known Nikki forever and all you guys do is complain about your weight and dating and I was like I think this is the hard part too about doing social content where it's like I to Satisfy the algorithm and make a viral.

Sometimes you have to make content. That is like You know, a little bit like, yeah, this isn't what I feel like every day. And it's not what I feel like all the time, but it is going to get me like people to understand what my kind of vibe is, you know? And that's hard because it's like, yeah, people are only seeing like maybe the negative stuff that we say, or, I don't know, it's like,

Bree: it's the name of.

It's a lot of social media is trying to get those views and you're like, Oh, well, this might be a little controversial or might make somebody mad, but I also know it's going to resonate and let's see what happens.

Alex: Yeah. And it's, and now the resonating thing is the, is the important part, right? Because like for the, a lot of, you know, If people who are going to see this, they're going to resonate with it and then follow and then listen to the podcast, which has, is way more nuanced than a tiny three second clip about us complaining about something, you know, and we'll talk more about how like positives and negatives of the experience.

It's not all negative, but I think that that's. A 15

Bree: second soundbite from the podcast is not the full conversation.

Alex: Correct. So, yeah. Um, then she went on YouTube and was like commenting on all of you. I know. I was like She was having a day. Girl. Girl. Honey, get offline. I blocked her. And then she, cause it's like, once you block them, they go and find you somewhere else.

It's like, what? Why? How much time do you have?

Bree: I have somebody that, she's in our coaching program and she kept going and subscribing to her emails, her email list using different email accounts and then like marking them as spam, which is really dangerous for your email and blog and all of that.

Oh yeah. It's a whole mess. So she had, I think she had to like go and like somehow block her IP address. Yeah. Oh my god. That's

Alex: next level.

Bree: Right?

Alex: Okay. Lord, don't do that. Who has the

Bree: time to do that? I don't have the time and energy to go and like, I'm gonna go sign up with 20 different emails. What? That's so much effort.

So much effort. Like, you are bored and have way more time on your hands than I do.

Alex: I guess. Wow.

Bree: Do you need a job? Like, I have plenty you could do.

Alex: Yeah. Right. You can make reels for me. Okay. Thanks. Right.

Bree: Exactly. Do you want to do my invoice? Yes. My inbox is overflowing. You want to come help? Yeah. Oh, man.

Wow. Well, okay. Take care of yourself. Yes. More vacations. Yeah. Yeah. Are you wanting to, like, post less or post, like, not on the week or take a weekend off? You're like, I

Alex: know. I'm like, no. Uh, I mean, I've been, I think I've been better about trying to make all the content before the weekend. cause

Bree: nobody should work seven days a week.

Alex: Yeah.

Bree: Right. As we totally all log in seven days a week. That is like the downfall of this job. It's like, you know, we feeling like we have to check in and yeah.

Alex: I mean, I think I'm. I'm pretty good about it. I think it's more like also, it's hard because the events, a lot of events are on the weekends. Like work events and grabbing content.

Bree: We love to eat out like on the weekends and we're out and about and doing stuff. So I'm wanting to see what's happening in, you know, Minneapolis or whatever. So like for you, you're like, well, I need to make sure my stuff is being seen.

Alex: Yeah. I think I try to be like, really fast. If I'm gonna do something, Yeah.

like a photo or like on Easter, I took some content of the food that we're but like, really fast. Like, this isn't I know some people who it's like, The food gets cold or like, whatever. I don't ever want that to be the, the answer. You know, you can grab content quickly and then move on. It doesn't have to be perfect either.

And I think that's something that I think a lot of people get in their heads about. Like, it needs to be perfect. And I can't put it out unless it's like super perfect. And like, definitely not. I think

Bree: real life stuff. Resonates. It does. A lot more.

Alex: A hundred

Bree: percent. Okay. Well, take care of yourself. Thank you so much for coming and sharing all of this.

It's been so wonderful to connect with you. You guys, we have a friend in common, Lizanne, who's been on the podcast before. And Lizanne was like, Oh my God, so excited that Alex was coming on. She's such a

Alex: sweetie. We met at a conference. There you go. See?

Bree: Not all

Alex: conferences are bad. They're not bad. No. I did get two deals out of that conference, too.

Bree: Way to go. Yeah. That's fantastic. Yeah. We love it. Pitch emails are important. Yes, yes. 100%. So thanks for sharing all of this and sharing a behind the scenes of, you know, what everything looks like for you. Can you just tell everybody real quick where they can go and find you on the internet again? Yes,

Alex: I'm sassyconfetti on Instagram dot sassyconfetti on TikTok and it's sassyconfetti.

com to find my blog.

Bree: Yay, you guys can give her a follow and we'll leave links to everything too in the show notes. All right. Thanks so much, Alex. You guys have an amazing rest of your day and we'll see you back here in a couple days for another episode.

Thank you for listening to The Thrive Podcast. For resources mentioned in today's episode, head to thrivetogether. blog. And if you're a blogger or influencer looking for a community that is ready to cheer you on and be a resource to help you grow, be sure to join the thrive blogging community on Facebook.

If you love this episode, I would be so honored if you subscribe and leave a review on your favorite podcast app and give our guests some love over on social media until next time. Keep thriving.

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How Content Creation Has Changed

Alex and I both started in the Influencer and content creator industry over 10 years ago—so much has changed and shifted since then. Alex found herself seeing local content about her city, but knew she could do it better; considering she knew all of the best places to go and eat.

That's when she started building Sassy Confetti. She got on Instagram when it first launched and was posting about food. Eventually she pivoted to sharing more of her personal life, making it a personal brand!

After stories launched, she became more consistent and started growing her following. She soon realized that the key to growth was consistency.

Finding Growth Amidst the Pandemic

When the pandemic hit in 2020, she took her opportunity to grow. Things were changing and shifting in the world and she saw her chance to share about what was happening locally to her in Chicago. With the pivot to takeout and walk up drink windows, she began sharing where locals could get drinks and go for walks. This launched a whole series of drinks in the city for her.

That consistency and shift in her content approach led to brand deals.

Networking for Content Creators

It can feel easy to hide behind our computers with so many conversations happening online, but one of the most valuable things content creators can do in order to grow and build relationships with brands is to network.

For Alex, many of her brand deals and collaborations have come through networking—even if it's a long game. She recently signed a contract with a brand she'd been connected with for two years, because when they finally got the budget, she was the person they thought of.

Get out of your comfort zone, go to the networking events, make conversations with people, and you'll see the payoff.

Where to Network

For the type of work that content creators and influencers typically do, finding a smaller influencer event in your city is a great place to start. When you get there, make sure that you're there with the intent of connecting with the people who will impact your opportunities.

There are PR teams and representatives at these influencer events who are responsible for making deals for the brands they represent, but also have a large network of contacts. Hot Tip: People in PR have a lot of brands they work with, but also move jobs to give you even more opportunities.

Negotiating & Securing Brand Deals

The majority of Alex's income comes from working with brands. Now that Alex has grown her brand to a place where she is securing brand deals on a local and national level, there is a lot of room for negotiating and determining who she'll work with.

From big brands to small businesses, there are so many considerations. Alex has built her brand on trust, experience, and collaborating in a way the highlights what she does. This includes offering small business rates and investing into brands that she sees a future partnership with.

When to Work for Free

While it's an unpopular opinion, Alex thinks that sometimes it's worthwhile to work with brands on a low pay or free capacity to get in the door. Although it's dependent on the brand and so many other things.

Consider the trade-off of who you're working with, what it could lead to, and are they compensating you with something else. For example regarding bigger brands, Alex has worked with Toyota for a lower rate or free because they will give bigger ticket items to their collaborators, like Lollapalooza VIP tickets.

For smaller and local brands with small budgets, Alex does a one-off collaboration to show what would work for them. Her goal is that it will eventually convert into a paid collaboration for them.

If a bigger brand doesn't want to pay you, ask them to come back when they have the budget.

Getting Noticed & Pitching Yourself for Brand Deals

Once you start working with brands, your content will start to get seen by other brands, but this also opens the door for you to pitch. Alex tends to see a 50/50 success/fail rate, but many times the no is followed by the budget having been spent—getting her name in front of them for the next round of budget.

On a local level, it's easier to secure deals, especially as a microinfluencer. Working with brands on a national level is a bit harder.

Staying Motivated

This job is hard—let's be honest. We're responsible for our own income and our own work, which puts a ton of pressure on us to stay motivated, but how can we stay motivated?

The number one thing you need to remember is to take care of yourself and slow down when you need to. Sometimes it'll feel like your in hustle mode and it becomes stressful. Don't let a scarcity mindset take over where you feel like you have to work for any and everyone for any little price.

Dealing with Haters

Haters come with the territory of being an influencer, which is something that Alex has become familiar with. As a plus-size influencer who shares about food, she finds hate comments on her content. She's dealt with haters a few different ways:

  • Turning off comments (yet this halts the impact of content)
  • Reporting and blocking
  • Responding on bad comments (specifically with women)

0:57 - Meet Alex of Sassy Confetti

4:35 - Alex's Journey: From Marketing to Influencer Empire

11:32 - Navigating Brand Partnerships and Influencer Marketing

15:39 - The Power of Networking and Community in Influencing

23:07 - Unlocking Influencer Success: Starting Small and Networking Smart

23:31 - The Power of Local Events and Personal Connections

24:15 - Leveraging Relationships in the Influencer World

26:28 - Navigating the Challenges of Content Creation and Self-Care

32:24 - Dealing with Haters: Strategies for Mental Well-being

38:25 - Embracing Real Life: The Journey Towards Authentic Content

40:07 - Wrapping Up: The Importance of Community and Self-Care

Ready for a Blogging Coach?

If you're ready to join us here at Thrive and get a coach to help you go to the next level, DM us over at @ThriveTogetherBlog and just say, "Hey Bree, I think I might need help." We have multiple coaching options at different budget points and we're always happy to chat with you about what those could look like for you.

Want to watch a class instead? Go to Thrivetogether.blog/grow and choose the free blogging workshop that's best for you!

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