Affiliate Marketing Resurgence

Blagica Bottigliero, is an Emmy-winning digital marketing expert with over 25 years of experience in the industry, beginning with my early work of helping Maytag transition online. My career has been defined by leading digital transformations across various sectors.



[00:00:00] Blagica Bottigliero: Like Rakuten does a great job of having a weekly list called the hot list of sites and content creators for brands to consider. Commission Junction sends out an email. ShareASale has a recruitment apparatus. So I think the whole industry would be better if content creators spend a little bit more time understanding how the networks work.

[00:00:21] Blagica Bottigliero: And one more add to that, all of them have free courses. That’s why I say headphone time. Make coffee or tea, whatever your libation of choice is.

[00:00:38] Jessy Grossman: Hello guys. Welcome to the party. Gosh, I wish I had like a great story to tell you about why my voice sounds so raspy today. Like we had such a killer New Year’s Eve. I posted on my Instagram how I Did a puzzle that night. So that’s not the case. [00:01:00] Luckily, I don’t have COVID. Thank God.

[00:01:02] Jessy Grossman: But I just feel like everyone’s freaking sick this time of year. So I am not excluded. I put off recording this intro because I was like, Oh, it can’t sound crazy. I’m just going to sound a little crazy, but like, I’m just going to own it. Maybe there’s like someone who’s listening, who’s like, dang, she sounds sexy.

[00:01:17] Jessy Grossman: And I’m just going to lean into it and hope that you all feel like that. You all probably don’t. Okay. So this week we have incredible guests. This is a guest episode, an interview episode. You guys are going to love it because Blagitsa was on a panel of hours just a couple of months ago, which like was so well attended and got great feedback and the panel was.

[00:01:40] Jessy Grossman: all on affiliate marketing. Now, I know that affiliate marketing is certainly nothing new, but I do feel like there’s been this really exciting resurgence with affiliate marketing. And I’ve sensed that creators have been more open to it. Whereas a few years ago, like when I was [00:02:00] managing talent, I remember my influencers were like no way I am beyond in affiliate marketing.

[00:02:06] Jessy Grossman: Like, I don’t want to do it anymore. Like, I don’t want to be paid per sale. I want to be paid a flat fee. So we’ll get into it in this episode about like, we don’t think the sweet spot is either extreme. It’s somewhere in the middle where you’re getting compensated fairly for your time, for your audience, for the content you’re creating.

[00:02:23] Jessy Grossman: But now there’s an additional incentive. When you do make a sale for affiliate marketing there’s so much data that’s available. So there’s just been a mindset shift. So I wanted to invite Blagica back on the show. Also, she’s an Emmy award-winning digital marketing expert. So like, that’s cool to have her on the show.

[00:02:43] Jessy Grossman: She’s also just very open, transparent. She’s got 25 years of experience in the industry, really truly started at the very beginning, and has so much information to share with you guys. So. What a great way to kick off the year. I’m so excited for you to hear from Blagica. [00:03:00] Enjoy guys.

[00:03:04] Jessy Grossman: This show is sponsored by Women in Influencer Marketing, better known as WIIM, the best online community for the creator economy. You will meet fellow influencer marketers. You’ll meet brands, you’ll meet talent agencies to talk shop and get hired. and even find a mentor. When you become a member, do not forget to check out all of our incredible resources.

[00:03:27] Jessy Grossman: For example, we have dozens of masterclasses from the top voices of TikTok, YouTube, award-winning agencies, and women who are paving the way for us all. So if you want the chance to network with a free school in influencer marketing, check out what it takes to become a member. Make more money and have fun doing it.

[00:03:49] Jessy Grossman: Visit I am wim.com/join. That’s I-A-M-W-I-I m.com/join today and I so look forward [00:04:00] to seeing you more around the community. So first and foremost, I’m very excited to have you. on the podcast. I feel like again, because you were on a panel with us like just like a few months ago, I guess, but it’s nice to see you.

[00:04:13] Jessy Grossman: It’s nice to have you this time on the podcast. How’s your week going so far? It’s good. 

[00:04:19] Blagica Bottigliero: We are winding down the year and it’s always cliche when people say, I can’t believe it’s the end of the year, but I truly can’t. I really, I’m one of those folks who, and we’ll talk about this, I’m sure during the chat, but I believe in living in the day and taking the marijuana of the day, whether it’s good or bad.

[00:04:37] Blagica Bottigliero: And I always use this week, I like to work ahead, meaning, yes, I’m enjoying my holiday and family time and break, but I don’t know about you, Jessy, but this week when it’s kind of quiet, a lot of folks are on holiday, maybe going someplace warm. It’s really, I feel like I’m in college again because it’s when I double down.

[00:04:58] Blagica Bottigliero: Like I research things I want to [00:05:00] check out. I tinker with things. I noodle. I get myself a planner every year from Shinola. They make watches, but they also make great paper goods. I’m here in Detroit and I map out the next six months. This is the week that I do it. 

[00:05:14] Jessy Grossman: I love that. I get that for me. It’s like this week is quiet enough that I have the mental capacity to do some of the things exactly what you’re describing, like things sort of slow down so that you can, you have the day-to-day that you’re usually bogged down with.

[00:05:31] Jessy Grossman: You have the capacity, the space to be able to do all those, like nice to have, by the way, we’re recording. the 27th of December. So like very close to the end of the year. I know this episode is probably going to come out in January. So I have a feeling probably many people hopefully can relate to that.

[00:05:49] Jessy Grossman: And if you can’t like take Blagica advice because like truly this is such a good time of year to just be able to just like [00:06:00] enjoy the slow, like take advantage of the slowdown. Yeah, totally. So, okay. So I want to back up a little bit. I think, so I mentioned briefly, that you were on our affiliate marketing panel and you were recommended to me.

[00:06:15] Jessy Grossman: That’s where we connected by someone else in the community who was like, okay, like I was looking for people who were just like rock stars and affiliate marketing and like really understand that world. I’m not that person. And I was sitting there learning so much genuinely in that panel discussion. So we had, I think it’s a cool place to start.

[00:06:36] Jessy Grossman: So some people might have tuned into that, but for anyone who didn’t, can you maybe start, you’ve so much experience in that world and other worlds as well, which we’ll get into in just a bit, but like, Tell us a little bit about your background in affiliate marketing and also how affiliate marketing has like really evolved and changed into what it’s become [00:07:00] today.

[00:07:00] Blagica Bottigliero: For sure. And it’s a great journey and path. And to your point where affiliate marketing is today is uber exciting. I’m also ethnic and I talk with my hands a lot. So I’m like first generation Macedonians and my hands are always like this. So. To those who are watching, don’t be surprised. So I started in the affiliate marketing space almost by accident because no joke lady, 25 years ago, when I started my digital career out of school, I started at Orbitz in 2001.

[00:07:28] Blagica Bottigliero: And I was on the first digital marketing team called e-commerce marketing back in the day. And that’s when we had no playbooks. At the time, the airlines were the funders of Orbitz in the beginning five airlines got their cash together and made Orbitz. And it was trial by fire. We were doing everything from keywords, from SEM to SEO.

[00:07:49] Blagica Bottigliero: I was serving ads on ESPN. I learned how to serve ads when it was a double click before Google bought them. And then as the journey went on about things to do on the internet, [00:08:00] affiliate marketing came up. It was like, okay, Bligitsa, figure it out and launch it. Okay. So affiliate marketing, the essence of it from the early days, still rings true today, but it’s more complex and is simple to those who don’t know what it is.

[00:08:15] Blagica Bottigliero: Let’s say you are a brand like Sephora Macy’s or Nordstrom, and you have this online component. Okay, early days of affiliate marketing, different types of websites and even pre-blogs would list your products, goods, or services. Often when there’s a sale, when a consumer visits that site, they click, and they go into Macy’s.

[00:08:37] Blagica Bottigliero: They buy something consumer gets a deal or they get the product, the website where it came from, we’ll get a commission. That is still the essence and the ethos of affiliate marketing. Okay. So in the early days of affiliate marketing, and I’ll say this to my grave, affiliate marketing was always considered a stepchild in digital marketing.

[00:08:56] Blagica Bottigliero: It kind of still is, but it’s getting better because of the revenue models [00:09:00] folks used to look at and say, Oh, that’s interesting. That’s great. But the ROI was always fantastic because the marketer, the brand in theory would only pay when a sale takes place, you pay a commission, which was still, and is still today considerably less than paying for a billboard or paying for programmatic advertising or paying for a large sponsorship.

[00:09:23] Blagica Bottigliero: But we’ll talk about the way that affiliate marketing revenue changed. So that’s still around. Okay. So there’s still the essence today of influencers, bloggers, and content creators. are now coming into the affiliate marketing space. Why? What’s changed? So our friends at Google Meta have helped, and Apple has helped change the game in which e-marketing works.

[00:09:46] Blagica Bottigliero: So there’s this joke that we all have as consumers, I went to Zappos and those shoes keep following me around the internet. That’s because of something called the one-by-one pixel. Or cookie tracking. And that type of [00:10:00] activity is what was used most often by large brands and companies to advertise to the consumer.

[00:10:07] Blagica Bottigliero: They may not know that it’s Jessy, but they knew that it was your IP 

[00:10:11] Jessy Grossman: address. So question real quick. Isn’t some of that going away or hasn’t there been more regulation on that? 

[00:10:18] Blagica Bottigliero: Correct. that’s, what’s changing. So that’s going away. So that was kind of the OG way of online marketing because it was so efficient girl.

[00:10:27] Blagica Bottigliero: I cannot remember how much of my conversations and my digital career was is the pixel on the site. I forgot the pixel. Don’t forget to put the pixel. Because that pixel tracking helped keep track of the ads that we bought. So to your point, it’s going away. Now let’s pause. If you are what’s called a publisher, like Hearst, like ESPN, like Food Network, whomever it may be, you used to rely on all those ads on your site [00:11:00] that were being used with the tracking we just discussed.

[00:11:03] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s going away and those brands, those companies are no longer utilizing that as much, which means you, the publisher aren’t making the money you used to, Oh, crap, enter affiliate marketing. So affiliate marketing has been used by many big publishers. We all know as consumers. One great example of that is I love the New York Times and their offshoot wire cutter.

[00:11:28] Blagica Bottigliero: So wire cutter has for quite some time. Their editors and their writers are like consumer product and service ninjas. They will review every coffee pot. They will review 15 backpacks, whatever they may be. And they utilized the eyeballs already on the New York Times. For this other entity, because as consumers, as readers, we trust the Times.

[00:11:54] Blagica Bottigliero: So if they launch this other thing like I’m an avid user of the New York Times cooking app, love that thing. So why [00:12:00] wouldn’t I read Wirecutter? You’ll notice that now many of those websites will have a little bit of italicized font at the top. We may earn commissions from these links. That’s affiliate marketing.

[00:12:12] Blagica Bottigliero: So Wirecutter’s done that for some time. But now you have other big publishers following suit. The Condi’s of the world. Everyone from Forbes to Fortune to Men’s Health to Daily Beast. They’re all doing it. And what’s also changed, because now let’s talk about the influencer side before a larger brand understood how to connect to the consumer as quite frankly, creators and influencers always have brands used to take large budgets.

[00:12:41] Blagica Bottigliero: Let’s say Jane Doe beauty influencer. Cause I worked on a beauty brand. I worked in fashion cosmetics at that time. Many of the brands didn’t figure, didn’t have things figured out. they couldn’t connect with their consumers. As the creators would, they used to pay larger chunks. Of sponsorship money to [00:13:00] the Janes of the world to get to Jane’s audience on YouTube, Insta, whatever.

[00:13:04] Blagica Bottigliero: But the problem was those brands weren’t getting the ROI that they would hope to get with a 20 or 30, 000 flat fee sponsorship. So brands still do that. But they’ve scaled back a bit, which is causing, which isn’t a bad thing. Influencers and creators from a revenue model standpoint embrace affiliate marketing, to gain commissions on sales that they help drive for those brands.

[00:13:32] Blagica Bottigliero: So to sum up, you’ve got two sections. The larger content publishers lost revenue. They need to get that back and then influencers and content creators. Needed a way to also make revenue because the larger sponsorship deals were decreasing and the commonality in both affiliate marketing 

[00:13:50] Jessy Grossman: so interesting I mean it almost sounds like a lifesaver for in all of those scenarios Right, like when you’re talking about like, I don’t know just like the [00:14:00] publishers with their affiliate models Like I’ve seen all the ones that you’ve mentioned Every single one of them like they all have, they produce these like guides of sorts or like we’re just recommended products and they all make commissions.

[00:14:10] Jessy Grossman: I think of like Buzzfeed. I used to love those. And like, yeah, Buzzfeed is such an affiliate, like such an affiliate play. And they would come out with like all these, like, I guess it depends on like, they all have different. Styles and different, so like whatever. one is sort of your style or you’re, like your cup of tea, like that’s the one you gravitate to.

[00:14:30] Jessy Grossman: To, for me, it was just like BuzzFeed all day, every day. So. Okay. That’s interesting. And I think like also I’d love for you to explain, this is just me like needing out for a second, like really, like I’m sure you’re aware of like what is the reason that the pixel is going as away, is it like a privacy thing?

[00:14:46] Jessy Grossman: Yes. Is that the concern? 

[00:14:47] Blagica Bottigliero: Yes. It is a privacy thing, so I’m so thankful. I’ve been around as long as I’ve been around to see the evolution of things happening. But I have to say as a consumer. It makes sense. [00:15:00] There’s a lot of drama or discussion about I still don’t think that the powers that be in Congress know how the Internet works.

[00:15:08] Blagica Bottigliero: Like, sometimes they go so extreme with things. At the same time, if you look at it like, I have friends who work and live in Europe, they’ve taken privacy to another level. That’s for the consumer. So I get it. I get the privacy concerns and that’s, you know, why, if you think back even before that, the situation that happened with Facebook and data brokers and the way that people would be targeted on Facebook, it kind of all rolled together.

[00:15:34] Blagica Bottigliero: So. I think it’s a cleaner system. I think it’s also quite frankly marketing because Apple’s always been at the forefront of privacy and their Safari browser and their Apple products. I think other folks like Google are following suit along with Meta. So I kind of, in that respect, I would argue that Apple led the way.

[00:15:53] Blagica Bottigliero: And the rest of the larger entities are listening to what the consumer’s been saying about privacy. But [00:16:00] here’s the rub. Then going back to the publishers, consumers need to also be aware because look, I just did this the other day, I had been looking for leggings and looking for a different brand of leggings.

[00:16:14] Blagica Bottigliero: And I went to Google search and I typed in the parameter of legging I was looking for. And the top, ’cause look, I’m a consumer, but like you, I nerd out on some things. The top 10 results were news-esque articles and listicles, but they all had that affiliate commission counterpart. Why am I saying this to you?

[00:16:36] Blagica Bottigliero: Because here’s a little bit of the Wizard of Oz component, the man behind the machine. In many cases, Jessy, a lot of those write-ups and listicles aren’t. always organic. They’re not always neutral because the larger publishers now, the reason why affiliate marketing is getting so interesting, they’re no longer just relying on a commission.

[00:16:58] Blagica Bottigliero: Affiliate marketing is [00:17:00] now getting the placement budgets that traditional digital marketing would get. So large publisher B might say, Hey, we would love to cover that new technology accessory your company launched, or your client launched, and we’d be happy to include it in an article for 10, 000. So they’re getting both a commission and they’re getting that revenue that they lost from the traditional.

[00:17:26] Blagica Bottigliero: And because they’re getting amazing SEO juice, because they always existed as great SEO resources, like being new sources, they’re part of what the consumer sees right away. So the brand kind of needs to look at their budgets. And this is what I would say to brands. You can’t just think affiliate marketing is commission only and not have any type of budget for a publisher or an influencer.

[00:17:48] Blagica Bottigliero: Because if an influencer, whether they’re smaller or bigger, I would argue they’re also putting skin in the game in terms of creating content or checking out your product or service. And they’re helping [00:18:00] with what’s called the top of the funnel. Awareness, your earlier question, what’s changed? Affiliate marketing was always bottom of the funnel.

[00:18:08] Blagica Bottigliero: Click convert, Now it’s the whole thing. It’s awareness, it’s a consideration, and it’s also conversion. It’s 

[00:18:16] Jessy Grossman: interesting that you say that. I think a lot of people would agree with you, but also just specifically because they see influencers as publishers. They’re all micro and sometimes macro publishers.

[00:18:27] Jessy Grossman: So. Yes. It makes a lot of sense and simply like having, whether it’s an influencer or a publication, essentially endorse a product or service, there is value to that, right? Because if they’re on a recommended product or service from Forbes, like the behind-the-scenes of Forbes, it looks very different, but many people don’t like it.

[00:18:49] Jessy Grossman: If you know the behind-the-scenes, it’s very paid up. It’s pretty much like all pay-to-play of it, but there’s this level of credibility that is [00:19:00] provided and there’s that additional value. So that’s really, interesting to think of it like that. And so, yeah, what a rebel, like what an evolution there’s been.

[00:19:11] Jessy Grossman: And so with the lack of the pixel. I don’t know. I like to think of myself as a consumer more often than a marketer because I think that perspective is so invaluable. So like, because I love having the internet work for me, you Yes. Like I, sure, I understand, and I also value having privacy protections and things like that.

[00:19:42] Jessy Grossman: I don’t think that it should be like this wild west of the internet. I do think that’s important, but I also do like the internet, if I put in a search, like sure. Serve me all the things that you think I’m gonna want, like, make my life easy. I’m all for that. So I guess it’s a fine balance. [00:20:00] But to your point, I could not agree with you more than the governments in many countries, like, which are supposedly, theoretically, supposed to be writing up these laws to protect the citizens, just.

[00:20:12] Jessy Grossman: I just don’t understand it enough to be able to make those determinations. So 

[00:20:19] Blagica Bottigliero: it’s getting better. I know that folks on the Hill have interns assistants and analysts to help them. I think they have more than they used to, but the other addition to all this that cracks me up. about the pay-to-play.

[00:20:31] Blagica Bottigliero: So I spent some time working at Edelman, which was phenomenal from a PR perspective and helping digital communications. And there are certain things you do that I did back then and habits that can’t go away. I watch recordings or live streams of the Today Show, Good Morning, America, and the View, because I like to understand what America’s listening to and what the news of the day is, given we’re recording this during the holidays.

[00:20:58] Blagica Bottigliero: And not if you watch any of the [00:21:00] morning shows, they have like the daily deal. Here’s the GMA it’s all QR code. And all of that is affiliate marketing IRL. So when you’re watching today’s show or watching Good Morning America, and they pick the deals and steals, and by the way, Because Good Morning America and The View are ABC shows, you’ll see some products on Good Morning America, and then later you’ll see them on The View.

[00:21:23] Blagica Bottigliero: There’s a QR code on your screen, click it, and you get a link, and that’s all affiliate marketing and commissions. The other in-person, well, IRL example was the Wall Street Journal. So, the Journal recently got into the game of affiliate marketing, I shouldn’t say game, but strategy, with their, publication or their brand called Buy.

[00:21:43] Blagica Bottigliero: side. What was wicked, I think it was last year, they had the Wall Street Journal, the paper like this, and they had all the products listed with QR codes in the paper for you to take your phone in real life, QR code it going by. When that happened, I was like, you know, when you’re by yourself and there’s no one [00:22:00] around you that knows what you do, you’re like, this is so cool.

[00:22:03] Blagica Bottigliero: But no, I can’t explain it to anybody. 

[00:22:06] Jessy Grossman: But it is because it makes the user experience so good. It makes it like this instantaneous like you’re not going to lose that sale. Because I think that could be a concern. Sometimes you’re like, well, like from an, I’ve heard influencers say. I want to do affiliate marketing, but like, sometimes when I do it, it’s not necessarily going to capture all the sales, right?

[00:22:29] Jessy Grossman: Because sometimes that just might be the first introduction to a brand and they don’t use your link or your QR code or whatever it is. And I don’t get credit for it. What would you say to those people? Cause I do think that it, is a concern. Are there ways to sort of like hack that, combat that, what would you say to that issue?

[00:22:46] Blagica Bottigliero: A hundred percent. So if you are a content creator, an influencer, and you’re about to do a deal with someone in any way, shape, or form, I would ask them if they have the capacity with their team, brand agency, whomever it [00:23:00] is to truly look at the path of the consumer. So you can also get credit for the initial introduction.

[00:23:08] Blagica Bottigliero: So example, this Hydro Flask, it isn’t a Stanley. I do like my Hydro Flask. This Hydro Flask, if I’m selling this on Insta. And I got both a code and a link in my link tree. You could ask for both. Sometimes a link is easier to follow in terms of the path. At the same time, if a brand and their agency work together to understand the analytics of the brand site, they should be able to track the code and also the traffic they should be able to say that they can see what traffic came from your site.

[00:23:40] Blagica Bottigliero: Whether it’s that code or that click, and if a sale does take place, they should negotiate different levels of commissions. Whether you were the direct introducer, like someone clicked on my link for hydro fast boom, they bought my commission’s higher, or if I was someone who introduced it, I still get some skin in the game because I [00:24:00] introduced it.

[00:24:00] Blagica Bottigliero: Now, that could be in the form of an upfront flat fee. And that’s why I push back on brands it’s not black and white. So either there should be some budget in place for a creator because the creator may not get that commission even for 30, 60, or 90 days, the brand should increase the look-back period to more than 30 days.

[00:24:23] Blagica Bottigliero: So for folks that don’t know affiliate marketing, in most cases, it’s set up where it’s like 30-day tracking. But in the case of a creator. Who’s introducing someone and then somebody may not show up on their Tik TOK until like two months later, because the algorithm recommends that, Tik TOK post, if they see something they like, and the link is there, if it’s 60 days, it’d be nice if that was still active for the credit.

[00:24:45] Blagica Bottigliero: But there’s like different levels of ways to compensate creators. And what I feel missing in the space on all sides from the creator influencer to the brand to agencies is one word. Patience. Yes, [00:25:00] patience, to strategize like if the creator comes back and says, and this happens a lot, to be honest, I don’t do anything.

[00:25:08] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s only commissions. I don’t think folks should stop the conversation. There should be a way because the creator has to understand that there’s risk upfront from the brand when it comes to working with them for the first time. And then the creator has to, the creators to understand that piece, but the brand has to understand that if they want X many posts from the creator to provide some type of monetary something upfront.

[00:25:29] Blagica Bottigliero: Okay. For the creator to be incentivized, whether it’s double commission, something, whatever that brain can afford, it is truly creating individual partnerships creator by creator. And I think there is just such a speed to just have sales and sorry to the brands out there, but. And many times it’s because the brands say, we’re going to do affiliate marketing and everyone’s going to buy something.

[00:25:55] Blagica Bottigliero: It’s going to be phenomenal. And the ROI will be off the charts. It takes three to six months [00:26:00] to truly set up an affiliate program with relationships and trust. And, it’s like wooing. You’re individually wooing everybody from Forbes. What’s the PureWow to sweater TikTok expert? It’s on one wooing.

[00:26:19] Blagica Bottigliero: It’s like dating, but people don’t have the patience it seems anymore. So I think that for large brands if anyone in a brand is watching this, you have to have some patience and internally explain to your counterparts at the brand, whether it’s executives or procurement, what this process is and how long it may take.

[00:26:36] Blagica Bottigliero: It’s still going to rock. Your ROI is going to be better than most digital channels. But it may not happen right away. And 

[00:26:44] Jessy Grossman: that’s very similar to influencer marketing. Generally like strategies. I feel like a lot of people who maybe don’t understand that world will just jump into it and be like, Oh, this is like the hottest thing.

[00:26:55] Jessy Grossman: Like I’ll just jump into it. I’ll invest and immediately I’ll see my [00:27:00] result, the results that I want to see. And so I appreciate you saying that because like for anyone who’s listening and hasn’t done it yet, like. Don’t get discouraged. Like, don’t give up just because you’re not seeing traction right away.

[00:27:12] Jessy Grossman: But like, like he’s saying, like. Three, or six months sometimes it could take time, but like that is normal. You’re supposed to like, that is expected. That’s not abnormal. That’s just what it takes. So I love a good hack. I know our listeners love like good hacks. So I asked you to like it. What are some hacks of affiliate marketing?

[00:27:33] Jessy Grossman: We’re talking a little bit about influencers. So like, what are some hacks for, what are some additional hacks for whether it’s affiliate marketing, influencer marketing, just things that you’ve learned over your career that you think our listeners 

[00:27:46] Blagica Bottigliero: should keep in mind? It’s not unfortunate of a hack, but one thing that discourages folks about affiliate marketing, when they get in it, it’s kind of like Burger King.

[00:27:55] Blagica Bottigliero: Not saying you should eat meat. In affiliate marketing, there are different networks [00:28:00] and they all work 

[00:28:01] Jessy Grossman: differently. And like, can we name some even because there’s so much to know about? Yeah. I mean, what are some of the ones that you are in most often that people, you think people should know of the most?

[00:28:13] Blagica Bottigliero: Commission Junction, Rakuten, which used to be called LinkShare, ShareASale, Partnerize, PepperJam, Reversion, I think a VauntLink, did I say a VauntLink, Impact, those are all networks and what, when you might hear, like, what does that mean in affiliate marketing? And whatever affiliate marketing activity takes place, there is a network that connects the affiliate program with all the affiliates.

[00:28:39] Blagica Bottigliero: So this is the source of truth. All the reporting in terms of the sales and clicks with the affiliate channel rests within the network. Each network has its magic buttons like they have their ways. They work with content creators. Like impact, for example, has a sharp creator, like even a recruitment situation, [00:29:00] but a lot of other networks have partnered with influencer networks to make it easier for brands to find influencers from a hacking perspective.

[00:29:09] Blagica Bottigliero: It really will behoove any content creator. To look at the brands they work with or the brands they want to work with and reach out to them with the why now you all might be thinking that’s not a quick hack. Well, let me explain why I’ve seen a lot of emails from influencers that will say, I’d like to work with you.

[00:29:28] Blagica Bottigliero: I’m awesome. I have X many followers, but it takes a little extra time. To look at the brand, see where the fits are, and do more of a more like two to three sentences, more of a pitch will go such a long way. Similarly, when brands or agencies are pitching content creators, they should be doing the same thing.

[00:29:49] Blagica Bottigliero: From a hacking perspective, my joke, no joke, but my tip about anything in life is what I call my headphone time. If you’re a content creator. Influencer looking [00:30:00] to make additional revenue and get an affiliate marketing game. Girl, I cannot tell you how many videos I’ve seen on TikTok about affiliate marketing.

[00:30:08] Blagica Bottigliero: You could do this in your sleep. Just sign up for my blah, blah, blah. No, it takes sweat equity. Pick a network as an affiliate, and understand how it works. Reach out to that network because part of the hack now, when. Brands on the networks do well. The networks make money. So the Sephoras, the Altas, the Nordstroms, when they have sales for their affiliate channel, they’re paying commissions to the affiliates.

[00:30:37] Blagica Bottigliero: They’re also paying a fee to the network. So it behooves the network for the sales to go up because they make more cash. So the networks are liaisons to the content creators as well. So it would behoove the content creator. To approach these networks and find out who’s on the recruitment teams, because in most cases, they’re set up vertically.

[00:30:57] Blagica Bottigliero: So Rakuten, Commission Junction may have [00:31:00] separate verticals for different types of like fashion, beauty, health, and fitness, and they’ll help you and pitch you into programs because when I’d be managing programs, I would get emails from networks and they pitch. People like Rakuten do a great job of having a weekly list called the hot list of sites and content creators for brands to consider.

[00:31:21] Blagica Bottigliero: Commission Junction sends out an email. ShareASale has a recruitment apparatus. So I think the whole industry would be better. If content creators spend a little bit more time understanding how the networks work, and one more add to that, all of them have free courses. So that’s why I say headphone time, make coffee or tea, whatever your libation of choice is, and maybe don’t binge-watch.

[00:31:46] Blagica Bottigliero: The latest Netflix episode or show for a few nights and figure it out and then get your plan of attack of, you know, certain networks are known to have certain types of brands in them. And if, you know, you have an impact might be the type of [00:32:00] network where you have brands you want to work with and study it.

[00:32:03] Blagica Bottigliero: Reach out and let them know that you want to be the person they recommend all these brands. And here’s why I’ve seen media kits from influencers and content creators, and I never, the number of followers is important, but not as much anymore. It’s important, but brands and affiliate programs are looking for an engagement rate.

[00:32:25] Blagica Bottigliero: If you’re posting about your awesome jeans that fit so amazing, and they move with you in different sizes. What is happening in your comments? Are people engaging with you and are you talking back and having that conversation? You’d be surprised as to how many content creators just still don’t talk to their audience.

[00:32:44] Blagica Bottigliero: And I’ve seen it. I 

[00:32:45] Jessy Grossman: saw it recently on a piece of content that I noticed all these wonderful commentaries back questions. And I think from a brand is great. And I see no replies, [00:33:00] right? 

[00:33:00] Blagica Bottigliero: Right. Like even if it’s like an intern or somebody replying would be helpful, but I wanted to ask you, so you mentioned something earlier about patients and whatnot, what are you hearing from your network of influencers in terms of patients or terms of like, do they feel any pressure from brands to like, you know, jump, sell.

[00:33:19] Blagica Bottigliero: Do you, like, is that still happening? Where are you seeing in the space? Oh, a thousand 

[00:33:23] Jessy Grossman: percent. Yeah. I feel like there’s such, a friction still very much so between the creators and the brands, because I feel like in the past, like two to three years, it’s been A much stronger shift away from any sort of awareness play.

[00:33:43] Jessy Grossman: And there’s been this insane amount of pressure to perform and to produce and to sell, which is natural and it makes sense, but I think that it’s too extreme. It’s too black and white. And the truth or like the sweet spot is usually in the middle. [00:34:00] And in this case, I think that it is, it takes time to be able to warm up an audience, to be able to have an affinity and trust the product, not the person, but the product, you know, it’s still very challenging from a creator’s perspective when they’re like, I want to be able to build up that rapport.

[00:34:18] Jessy Grossman: I want to be able to. But I need time to do it. And too often a brand will say, well, it’s one post, one this, one that. And that’s your one opportunity to do it. And it’s just, it’s almost like setting people up for failure, but the pressure is very much so felt being felt, I think, by the creators and. I just think, like, from any other perspective, like, I’m not a creator.

[00:34:42] Jessy Grossman: So, like, in my job, in your job, in our everyday lives when we’re working, like, sure, some people thrive under really high-pressure situations, but some people don’t. Like, some people just need a different environment to work in. Some people need to be encouraged or, you [00:35:00] know, like, given more resources or given more For whatever it is, but everybody works differently.

[00:35:04] Jessy Grossman: And I think that’s the challenge because most people are trying to look at influencer marketing, affiliate marketing, especially I can imagine at scale and to see what the scalability, and I have such, I’ve said on this podcast many times, and I’ll say it again, like I have such an issue with that because I don’t think that any sort of relationship like arrangements can be really, truly.

[00:35:30] Jessy Grossman: So we’re like approaching it in this way that we’re really, truly like setting ourselves up for failure. If the idea, if the hope is that we’re going to scale this thing, like it’s not, I don’t think it’s scalable. What are your thoughts on scaling affiliate marketing, scaling influencer marketing?

[00:35:47] Jessy Grossman: Like, do you think there’s a path for that? Or what are your thoughts? 

[00:35:52] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s one of my beefs. So I agree with you. The scaling issue is coming through because digital marketers, [00:36:00], especially the C suite, many of whom have not been practitioners. They want the scale replaced with the scale that went away in the form of the traditional old digital marketing model because they could take their shoe, just making this up.

[00:36:16] Blagica Bottigliero: Steve Madden launches a shoe. Steve Madden used to be able to. Forget Seamad, in Orbitz, when I was at Orbitz, we used to take big Vegas sales coming up or new hotel launching. We used to go to a boatload of websites with a lot of money and say, we are going to flood the interwebs with our banners, pop-ups, display, 468 by 60s all over the place.

[00:36:41] Blagica Bottigliero: Scale. Now that’s gone. So you have these brands who are launching amazing products and services, but like, Oh, we need people to know. We need people. Oh, affiliate marketing has the best ROI in most cases, but the irony is that is kind of what I call a digital hand to [00:37:00] hand, like combat in a good way of like every single website, every single person is a relationship.

[00:37:06] Blagica Bottigliero: Now that’s where relationships and experience in the affiliate space come in where somebody has that trust where they can call. 10 publishers, 10 creators be like, Hey, I’ve got this brand at the service. They’re amazing. It’s a good fit for you. Will you launch quickly? That is when you get scale, but I’ll say scale-ish.

[00:37:25] Blagica Bottigliero: So there’s still so much education, Jessy, that it doesn’t exist on the brand side that like many of us are still trying to convey. And why, and this is where the content creator affiliate marketer, it’s hard, but you have to have empathy. In most cases, the person managing the affiliate program at the brand has to answer to other people who don’t know what it is.

[00:37:49] Blagica Bottigliero: And other in other cases, cause I’ve been there cause I was on the brand side. That person is working to fill one cell. On an Excel spreadsheet about [00:38:00] their division, because most people at the brand, when it comes to digital marketing, will look at how is SCM doing. How is paid social doing? How is programmatic doing?

[00:38:10] Blagica Bottigliero: How is the affiliate doing? And you’re working your tail off for this cell. For the C suite person to look at it and compare, but they have no idea what happens in here, but that C suite person kind of understands the rest, but you’re just supposed to make magic happen. And that frustration from the person managing the program is what might come back to their agency or come back to the publisher.

[00:38:34] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s got to stop. I think any C suite, any CMO. And I do think CMOs are changing because they have more analytics and more digital marketing background. But every CMO needs to almost take a crash course in every single element of their marketing channels to understand how it works. Once that happens, I think we’ll get to a better place, but we’re not there yet.

[00:38:57] Blagica Bottigliero: But on the flip side, If you are someone [00:39:00] coming out of school and have any interest in digital marketing in any sense, affiliate marketing is so hungry and needs folks who are junior willing to learn, want to learn even just practitioners up because of. As I mentioned before, the networks are all different.

[00:39:21] Blagica Bottigliero: We didn’t even talk about like fraud, understanding how to reverse transactions, product feeds there’s managing a program as a whole different ball of wax. It’s exciting. And from a future perspective, all the publishers, if you look on LinkedIn or, you know, jobs in general. There’s, we call this in content and commerce, commerce director, commerce manager.

[00:39:47] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s essentially the yin and the yang. There’s the editor at the InStyle and then there’s the commerce person in style and their church and state, because. And people might wonder how this [00:40:00] happens. Well, every publisher wants to write about what they want to write about and have that editorial ability.

[00:40:06] Blagica Bottigliero: But in many cases, if this article does well about my black sweater, chances are they might stick an affiliate link on that article because the traffic is so great. It’s fascinating to me. That’s why I kind of came back into the space to pinch-hit different programs. But from a creator standpoint, I think there is no problem for a creator to go back to a brand or an agency and ask them about analytics and tracking to truly make sure that their work is being tracked through to whether it’s higher commissions upfront or a flat fee or increasing the return days.

[00:40:41] Blagica Bottigliero: The lookback period. Yeah. 

[00:40:43] Jessy Grossman: Those are really, good tips because I think, I don’t know if you’re alluding to this or I’ll just share what I’ve seen is like, there’s a mistrust there on the influencers side. I’ve heard this from many, creators and I don’t know if it’s a product of, you know, there’s so many commission [00:41:00] companies out there, like all the ones you named and then there’s, you know, the LTKs that collect voices like there’s so many more even, but they’re, they all operate a little bit differently.

[00:41:08] Jessy Grossman: differently. They have different standards. They have different technology. I mean, they’re cool. They’re like technology-based companies, but they all operate a little bit differently. And so I think that’s why so wise what you’re saying, which is like the sort of find which one sort of attracts brands that.

[00:41:25] Jessy Grossman: Are you attracted to and then maybe like really go in hard with that one or maybe two or three max at least to start because You’ll build those relationships and you’ll be able to grow those partnerships because of it But I think yeah to your point, it’s they’re asking those questions Is important making sure it’s in your agreement those few points specifically that you mentioned are Very crystal clear in your agreement and your understanding of the agreement.

[00:41:57] Jessy Grossman: I would love to also [00:42:00] ask what words were in this very particular time of year or at the cusp of 2023 to 2024 again. I know this episode will come out in January, but. I’m curious from your perspective because you have such a, I think it’s so cool where you sit and you’ve had so much experience on different sides.

[00:42:19] Jessy Grossman: What’s been most surprising to you when you reflect on 2023? And then what are you most excited about for 2024? 

[00:42:32] Blagica Bottigliero: Influencer affiliate related. 

[00:42:34] Jessy Grossman: I would, I’ll even open it up. I mean, I would say yes, but like, I don’t know if there’s something else that you want to share. Like, that’s cool too. Either one taking whatever you want.

[00:42:42] Blagica Bottigliero: I’ll combine a couple of trends. I’ll combine an influencer trend with real life. So I’m a mom. I have two kids. I have a 14-year-old daughter and a 10-year-old boy. And what’s blowing my mind is the influencer side of things. And there’s just an article I read this week about it. The influencer side [00:43:00] of things when it comes to beauty and like 14-year-olds, my daughter like she’s introducing things to me that.

[00:43:08] Blagica Bottigliero: I didn’t even touch until I was 21. Also, my daughter has a smartphone, but she has no social media accounts. She uses Pinterest, but she sees enough with YouTube shorts and whatnot because she draws and designs and she’ll get the videos that pop up. That fascinates me in terms of the beauty brands and how they’re adjusting their marketing and picking creators to hone in on.

[00:43:35] Blagica Bottigliero: A certain demographic to me. That’s fascinating. What’s also the trend of 2023, which has always been a trend. I think it’s a more reality check for brands in general. Look, folks were uneasy about the economy the whole year, people still spent. We just saw from Q4 that online spending was up, but here’s the other.

[00:43:56] Blagica Bottigliero: It’s not new, but we tell brands it all the time. [00:44:00] Consumers still like a good deal. So even though it’s a luxury brand, whatever it may be, consumers either want a great deal, so coupons aren’t going away, offers and discounts aren’t going away, and if it’s not a good deal. They want to understand the story of the brand.

[00:44:19] Blagica Bottigliero: So an example of a brand that I love, I’ve been following them since they launched from a practitioner standpoint, the story, the how is Quince. Quince makes great clothing and home pieces, and they pride themselves in going almost directly to the consumer, having great materials, and they don’t often have sales.

[00:44:39] Blagica Bottigliero: They don’t, but they’re good at building that story and helping somebody understand why their products into their life, their lives. And it’s consistent. So to me, it’s again, the patience of storytelling that is so important, introducing brands to younger audiences, but then also.[00:45:00] 

[00:45:00] Blagica Bottigliero: The, reality that deals and discounts and coupons aren’t going to go away and brands. And it doesn’t happen multiple times to me who come say to me, we aren’t a discount brand. We don’t want to be associated like, okay, that’s fair. But what have you done and how long have you been in the marketplace for folks?

[00:45:19] Blagica Bottigliero: To think that, what do I mean by that? What you’re going to see. So 2024, you’re going to see more brands hopping into affiliate marketing. You are going to see what’s called challenger brands come into the space. Challenger brands are those brands that you see on Facebook and Instagram all the time.

[00:45:37] Blagica Bottigliero: They’re direct to consumer. You won’t find them in the stores right away. They might get distribution later. They’re killing it with paid social ads and they’re killing it with social, like. Overall TikTok and Insta, then they come into affiliate marketing. And because most of them also have investors and VCs, they’re expecting quick results.

[00:45:56] Blagica Bottigliero: So the irony is it’s a challenger brand that might go up against the big [00:46:00] dog. And they’re doing well, but the similarity they have with the Big Dog brand is they happen to affiliate marketing and think there’ll be instant success because what we tapped paid social, we paid, we tapped keywords.

[00:46:13] Blagica Bottigliero: Let’s get new affiliate marketing. And then I’m kind of like the buzzkill that’s cool. But you’re still an unknown to these six publishers. You still aren’t known to them or their audience or are they making the time to create content for you? You still have to sell a like you or I have to help sell into these folks.

[00:46:33] Blagica Bottigliero: So 2024 is interesting to me to see how many more publishers and brands come to the table to launch affiliate programs. And I’m excited about that. I think 2023 was the year of creators sitting back and wondering, should I be in affiliate marketing? Does it work? Do they get me? And I think 2024 is going to be a bit of a hockey stick growth with creators learning about the channel and getting smarter about it [00:47:00] because they have the audience.

[00:47:02] Blagica Bottigliero: As far as I’m concerned, I think the cards are in favor of the content creator and the bigger publishers. The brands will come along. Their budgets will come along. But the quicker that influencers and content creators can learn about the space and how to maximize it for themselves, the better.

[00:47:22] Blagica Bottigliero: The brands have the cash. They just have to redistribute it how it goes over to another channel. Well, I 

[00:47:27] Jessy Grossman: think like the reality is what you were talking about a bit before was there’s been a dip in brand partnership compensation, just like budgets. So I think that I like influencers are just going to have a couple of different options.

[00:47:42] Jessy Grossman: I can sit and wait for those to pick up again. And maybe it will, maybe it won’t, maybe it will. slightly and not quite be what it used to be, or they’re going to get more resourceful and smarter as you said, and maybe this will be the push to like to explore affiliate that they were maybe skeptical about before, [00:48:00] but then they get there and they’re like, Oh, wait for a second, this is amazing.

[00:48:05] Jessy Grossman: So maybe that’ll just. Be the push for a certain amount of them that will be pleasantly surprised with what they find. I assume it’ll be, I assume there’ll be a big crop of people who will experience that and like, we’re in just like a cool. Set up. I just feel like there are more resources for creators, and more people sharing information.

[00:48:26] Jessy Grossman: So I also assume that like with that exposure, they will also have access to all this education, ways to optimize it. Like, like you said, you can go on fricking tick-tock and find affiliate marketing content for days. Some of it’s. Yes, but some of it is very valid and you’ll be able to hopefully discern which one is valid, which one, you know, is helpful, and like you can make a killing with it.

[00:48:53] Jessy Grossman: So, but I, you know, not all partners are created equal, not all, not everybody is created equal. So I think it’s a matter of like [00:49:00] skepticism is healthy and do your research, like approach it with like a healthy level of skepticism and you’ll be good to go. So I think that’s good. The thing to be excited about for 2024 for sure.

[00:49:15] Jessy Grossman: You also touched on earlier that your mom of, you know, as somebody, I have a stepdaughter, so many people who are listening are also working parents. And I think that is. such a, we don’t talk about it enough. Like we don’t talk about it enough. How, like I’m recording this right now. My stepdaughter’s home with my fiance downstairs doing a science project.

[00:49:35] Jessy Grossman: Cause our science project is due like the day she comes back from school. Thanks school. but like, I don’t think that enough people, women in particular are being honest about what that means for a lot of us who are identities are. almost equally wrapped up sometimes in being like the matriarch of our family, but also loving what [00:50:00] we do and our careers and like how to balance it.

[00:50:03] Jessy Grossman: I don’t think that they are perfect can ever be perfectly balanced, but that’s just my opinion. I’m curious about your opinion. How do you make space for enjoying motherhood? But also enjoying the crop out of your work. How do you, manage the two? 

[00:50:22] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s a great question. And I’ll be completely honest.

[00:50:25] Blagica Bottigliero: So as I mentioned, my kids are 14 and 10 and I’m not going to lie when they were younger, it was tough. It was tough. My kids are three years apart. And when I was starting, I contemplated, am I doing the right thing? I missed out on some steps. And so the way that my husband and I did it, I married My husband and I, when the kids were small, we were living in Chicago and we looked at when I was partners with my first, okay, what do we want to do?

[00:50:54] Blagica Bottigliero: And we decided that one of our incomes was going to go to, you know, care. [00:51:00] So Michael decided to stay home. So Michael stayed home with our daughter and he’s a sommelier and he was with our daughter. Then he started consulting. Then he was doing events and then his consulting took off, but he was still able to watch her daughter at the same time.

[00:51:16] Blagica Bottigliero: It was nuts. And then our second came along. So I went through a lot of mom guilt and I sometimes still do, but now that my kids are older and they’ve seen the path, we talk about it all the time. They know that if I’m frustrated or if I’m stressed. I’m not a good mom. I’m not a good contributor to the household and I love what I do.

[00:51:39] Blagica Bottigliero: Like my daughter especially knows. I love what I do. She knows that I’ve had my own companies run my things. She knows the whole story. And if there are times that I can’t be at a certain place at a certain time, I’m honest with her. But also Jessy, we have laptops and mobility and we have. A different work-life environment [00:52:00] that didn’t exist when my kids were babies and toddlers.

[00:52:03] Blagica Bottigliero: I think that is phenomenal. And I think that is a gift. I don’t like the pandemic. I think it was awful, but that change of work, I think has opened the door to so many things. However, I’m in my forties now, and I come across a lot of women, a lot of moms who want to make a change in their careers. And many of them are being forced to.

[00:52:26] Blagica Bottigliero: given changes of work and so on. And they’re tired. Understandably so. Because I’ve always been a tinkerer and I’ve always been like, my office upstairs is like NASA. I’ve got monitors. I’ve always been that tech gadget person, who likes figuring stuff out. I’m on like, Jessy, I made my husband’s holiday gift with AI.

[00:52:45] Blagica Bottigliero: Like I need it. I love that. Or using. Yeah. That’s me. I love it. I tell my girlfriends and I’ll tell moms today if you’re in your thirties, if you’re in your forties, we are living longer now compared to God willing [00:53:00] future older generations. There is time to learn something different and it’s okay to pause and just figure out what makes you happy.

[00:53:10] Blagica Bottigliero: And it’s okay to start learning something new. But you have to make some choices. I mentioned binging Netflix shows, which I love to do, but the excitement I have for the internet and technology today is what it is because so much of it didn’t exist back in 2001. The stuff you can learn for free if you just put in the time, things you can build, things you can build upon.

[00:53:33] Blagica Bottigliero: It isn’t going to happen overnight. It’s not, but the possibilities are there. So as a mom, my husband and I did have our moments when the kids were small, just figuring out roles, dynamics, and schedules. It’s not roses. And I truly do not think That women can have everything women can have things and almost everything, but not at the same time.

[00:53:57] Blagica Bottigliero: Totally. That is not told to [00:54:00] us enough as women. It’s just now in my mid-forties where I’m like, okay, this summer, I went away for 5 days. I said to myself, I love our world and tinkering, but I’m in my passion is writing. My passion is storytelling. Just writing stories. And so I said to my family, I need to take a little break.

[00:54:18] Blagica Bottigliero: I was starting to get stressed out. I spent five days in Maine. I flew to Maine and I sat for five days, wrote, explored, and just had a moment. And I came back completely refreshed. I know many people can’t do that. I understand. Even if it’s a day. Having children is amazing. Being a mom is amazing. But this is a strong belief that I have.

[00:54:41] Blagica Bottigliero: I mentioned this before publicly. There are so few women left who I’ve come up with in the digital technology space who are founders. Like, I know so many women when I was back in Chicago who were part of the rise of the interwebs and the internet and all the startups who all now have families, are [00:55:00] raising kids, we talk all the time, but they’re not in the industry anymore.

[00:55:03] Blagica Bottigliero: Or their voices aren’t as strong as our male counterparts who continue to stay in any, you know, type of digital thing. There are voices there. There are many female voices, but not enough. And it’s just because. Of the reality of being a mom, taking care of kids, not having that support system, whatever it may be, but also the elephant in the room to me, society, is not still being amenable for the working mom and understanding what working moms go through.

[00:55:33] Blagica Bottigliero: And now some companies have accelerated that with benefits and abilities and, you know, mat leave, which is great and paternity leave cool, but it’s not consistent. So you work and work and work and go to college, have this experience, find hope, maybe the partner of your life or not. You might decide to have children.

[00:55:51] Blagica Bottigliero: And then it’s like, I just feel like we’re, you know, we’re producing, working, And then you kind of have to figure it out. And it’s disheartening to me. [00:56:00] That’s changing. I do think it’s changing, but I think it’s changing slower than what we need. It’s not slower than I want. It’s slower than what my daughter needs.

[00:56:09] Blagica Bottigliero: My daughter is 14. Jessy, my daughter has already gone globally to understand what it’s like to have kids in different countries. Like no joke, France, what’s it like, what’s the maternity leave like? Cause she’s so curious when back to your question about being a mom, I’ve been open with her about, well, when your brother was a baby, I was working cause I worked for myself and I had him on my chest and I work at my computer.

[00:56:35] Blagica Bottigliero: Or when I had you, I had to go back to work pretty early. Well, she’s why. And then she started going down the rabbit hole of research on her own. And then she’d come back to me with, Oh my goodness, I did not know. Blah, blah, blah, blah. I don’t want to, you know, list out countries, rules, and regs, of course, but you all can figure it out.

[00:56:52] Blagica Bottigliero: It’s gotten better. And I think that. Things online and how many successful stories you heard of women, whether it’s a side [00:57:00] hustle that turned into something else or a passion that turned into something else. One book that I read that helped me is Marie Forleo’s book. Oh, gosh, something, it’s about.

[00:57:12] Blagica Bottigliero: So I’ll send it to you, but it’s about getting started. I can’t think of the title. It’s blue. I’m going to look it up. Now look at it. It’s got a yellow dress and it’s a blue background. Marie Forleo’s book. As Jessie looks it up, it was really about how to start and figure Oh, 

[00:57:28] Jessy Grossman: everything is figureoutable?

[00:57:30] Jessy Grossman: That one. 

[00:57:31] Blagica Bottigliero: That one. Okay. Everything is figureoutable. That is one of my favorite books. I just, read it at a time when I needed some motivation to figure out what, different things I wanted to do and how, and set time in my day for myself. I don’t know what your daily habits are of some Jessy time, but my kids joke and know that like on Sundays for the first few hours, don’t talk to me.

[00:57:55] Blagica Bottigliero: I am reading the New York Times. I have a coffee and I need my paper. I will not [00:58:00] change it to my iPad, just a digital subscription, but they just know I am reading. I’m doing my crossword puzzle and I just need that time. And like 

[00:58:10] Jessy Grossman: I like every so much of what you just said, I appreciate it a lot, but like whether it’s a trip to Maine or 30 minutes of just reading what you enjoy to read.

[00:58:22] Jessy Grossman: The feeling of recharge after those moments for whatever it is for yourself. Cause I do think it’s important to have the self-awareness to figure out what it is that does recharge you. And I also think that changes every 5 to 10 years or so. That’s a whole other thing, but I like being able to figure out what it is and to be able to like it.

[00:58:44] Jessy Grossman: Respect yourself and to have your family sort of like respect that’s important to you. It’s a really valuable lesson I think also to just teach your kids. I think that there are so many different philosophies on parenting, of course, and [00:59:00] we struggle with that in our households a little bit where it’s like, you know, we had Candidly pretty shitty childhood.

[00:59:06] Jessy Grossman: So we’re trying to make up for the wrongs of our parents by raising a child differently. But I also wonder if we’re, you don’t want to overcompensate for that. You don’t. I also think it’s so important to just teach those lessons and like to be the sacrificial lamb. Is teaching your kids nothing like if you are just, Oh, I’m, never going to take time for myself because I want to be all for my kids.

[00:59:30] Jessy Grossman: I’m like, Oh my God, I would never take a trip for myself. Like what would my kids do, there’s valuable time that I could be there for them doing all this stuff for them. They need me. But like, if you need something for yourself. That is such a lesson to take because I don’t know, hopefully, people who are listening have experienced that, which is when you do find the thing that like fills you up, that makes you happy, that recharges you or relaxes you, or whatever it [01:00:00] is like after doing that thing, you can feel like a different person.

[01:00:06] Jessy Grossman: I mean, you just, you feel like, you know, no, some medication can help with that, but the amount of endorphins and just like your blood pressure, like all the things that can physically affect you, or it’s a beautiful thing. So I think that like, there are also lessons in that too. I like the word selfish in so many people’s vocabulary gets such a bad rap and I’ve always sort of thought about it differently.

[01:00:34] Jessy Grossman: I think that. Giving yourself the space to do things for yourself. Like that can be a positive, that can be such a positive thing. I think that there’s too much emphasis on being selfless and not enough emphasis on the moments where being selfish is a positive thing. 

[01:00:52] Blagica Bottigliero: One thing to note too, about different kids ages to give, if someone’s watching this who has a newborn child or three, four years old and you’re a [01:01:00] working mom.

[01:01:00] Blagica Bottigliero: I gotta tell ya. There might be times when you miss as people say, I’ll go back to work when the kids a certain age, but what’s interesting is you might miss a step or miss a word or what have you, but what I’m learning having a 14 and 10-year-old because I’ve been, I’ve chosen to be around more and work differently with different projects because of the ages they’re in, they’ve needed more of my time.

[01:01:26] Blagica Bottigliero: As of late, like, especially middle school, pre-middle school, and I’ve changed the way I work and wear and compartmentalize my time and my work to make sure that I’ve got time for those deep discussions that didn’t happen when they were seven, they’re older now and they get it. So, and then if things change again, it’s like, I’ve taken that little pause from a traditional work standpoint to build that trust in the relationship, especially with my oldest.

[01:01:54] Blagica Bottigliero: A daughter with as there’s a lot of influence and things that young women are challenged with to [01:02:00] build that foundation with her of trust and self-awareness and self care her Sunday skincare routine is better than mine, but that with her. So if things do change, like. She’s got that foundation. She knows, you know, she can talk to me.

[01:02:16] Blagica Bottigliero: So looking back at the kids when they were younger, I’m really glad that I did something that I enjoyed. And I worked during those times because they were okay. They were okay. And we’ve shifted into another piece. That last comment, another mom gave me, which I love. Britain, if you’re listening. She once said to me, that the best advice as a mom was, for people to say chapters.

[01:02:38] Blagica Bottigliero: Britain told me there are different seasons. This is the season of X. Whatever situation you’re in, the season of X. You are in the season of maybe traveling for work twice a month. That’s your season. That might change. You’re in the season of a big project and you’re staying at work for two weeks until 10.

[01:02:59] Blagica Bottigliero: That [01:03:00] helped me pause with all the different sections of life that I happen to be in. This is the season for this. And I tell the kids when they’re old enough to understand, that this is the season when mom has to go to a couple of tech conferences this year, for example. And it was just more like we’re having fish for dinner.

[01:03:18] Blagica Bottigliero: This is the season of blah, blah, blah. If you can position it that way, I think it helps and helps the family dynamic be on the same page. Because you’ve got to be on the same page, especially with your partner. That’s tough. 

[01:03:29] Jessy Grossman: Totally. A thousand percent. And I, think that, just communicating that, like, all being on the same page.

[01:03:37] Jessy Grossman: Kids, partner, like, family, if you have that support, whatever it is. And I think that, like, that could even be a fun exercise for your kids, too. It’s like, alright, this is mom season for this, like. What is your season right now? 

[01:03:50] Blagica Bottigliero: Right now, my season in our house is Taylor Swift. Right. And what is she? Oh, she’s also working on her eyeliner tutorial.

[01:03:57] Blagica Bottigliero: She’s working on her cat eye. It’s the season of [01:04:00] mastering the cat eye. 

[01:04:01] Jessy Grossman: That’s amazing. I, it’s so funny. Well, your kid is mastering the cat eye. Mine is mastering like snuggling with the cat. And that’s, definitely a factor of their age difference. I just, appreciate your perspective on this. Parenthood, motherhood, like, I just, I don’t think enough of us talk about it.

[01:04:19] Jessy Grossman: We, it’s maybe easier to talk about like the successes in our careers, those moments that are successful, or even the challenges in our careers, very few people feel comfortable enough being open and honest about like the challenges in being a parent and how they relate. And of course, they relate. Like sometimes you’re working more than you’re with your family.

[01:04:42] Jessy Grossman: and so like, I. I think that I hope that women going forward feel more and more supported in that journey because it’s definitely like ebbs and flows. The ages of the kids certainly matter and where you are in your career matters too. [01:05:00] And I just, I don’t want to feel like women have to Give up one or the other, but I also have experienced what you described too, which is like, it’s never going to be 50, 50 ever, you know, you were saying you can’t have it all.

[01:05:16] Jessy Grossman: So I don’t want to put words in your mouth and my experience that sort of equates to like, it’s never going to be truly 50, 50, you know, like there’s never this. equal balance, but sometimes it’s 75 25, and then other times it’s in the opposite direction, kind of what you described, which is based on what season you’re in.

[01:05:36] Jessy Grossman: Yes. So I think that’s a really helpful way to just conceptualize it. I think that like, honestly, half the battle is like wrapping our minds around it. And just like getting into that head space of like understanding, acceptance, and this is how we’re going to approach this. And then the rest of it comes from that.

[01:05:58] Jessy Grossman: It alleviates some of the [01:06:00] anxieties around it, I think, so. You can’t 

[01:06:02] Blagica Bottigliero: forget about yourself. You just, I know it’s, it seems easier said than done, but whatever your belief system, faith. Whatever it is, if anything, one thing that we all can look at and see yet you have, this is your body. That’s your temple.

[01:06:16] Blagica Bottigliero: You know, whether it’s sleep, whether it’s 20 minutes of stretching, your child is going to get older, your child that will thrive. They will, whether they want to go to a trade school or college, whatever it may be fantastic. You’ve kept them alive. Awesome. But we have to make sure we take care of our physical and mental health.

[01:06:34] Blagica Bottigliero: And I’m so thankful that we’re talking about that now. I’m so thankful that something like even postpartum depression is being discussed more. It wasn’t when I had kids, just the importance of having that time to eat. Well, educate yourself, and try as best you can. That 25, there’s been tons of articles about the mental real estate we take in.

[01:06:58] Blagica Bottigliero: Moms as women, [01:07:00] the play dates, the doctor’s appointments, the this, Oh God, I get a Santa hat for school guy. Oh, it’s, cartoon day. It’s whatever it is. We take that on, top of, Oh, I have to finish that 35-page deck for presentation in two days. And I have to manage a team of 10. So solidarity. I think we’ve all been there.

[01:07:17] Blagica Bottigliero: We’re all there. And you’re right. I think people don’t want to talk about it as much. But nothing will change until we share those stories. But those of us like me who’ve been through the wringer have learned a lot. And I’m happy to share those experiences and kind of motivate folks. I had a couple of mentors when I was coming up that were just as open.

[01:07:35] Blagica Bottigliero: And I think that’s why I was, I’m open about it because they really, executives and mentors helped me see what was possible, but they were also realistic. It wasn’t, you know, Bells and tulips, but it’s all upside where, you know, we’re finally helping each other out and people are educating each other more on what we need.

[01:07:55] Blagica Bottigliero: So 

[01:07:56] Jessy Grossman: we are running low on time, but there is one question that I [01:08:00] want to ask you before we end our time together. So my last question for you is as someone who’s been in the industry for like. 25 plus years. How do you look forward to the next steps in your career? Like what does that look like for you?

[01:08:21] Jessy Grossman: What are the next milestones that you’d like to reach? Like how do you conceptualize that for yourself? What does that look like for you? Oh, I love this 

[01:08:29] Blagica Bottigliero: question. So, because I’ve seen the birth. Of different digital technologies, marketing platforms, and so on. It has been amazing for me in my career and I’ve used it for my own, you know, businesses, helping my husband, you know, convert his company to a virtual company.

[01:08:46] Blagica Bottigliero: But I am also an avid believer in community involvement and volunteering where I live, contributing to where I live. What’s happening now with artificial intelligence, I think is [01:09:00] so exciting. I’m not afraid of it. I think it’s fascinating to be able to learn how to use it. So as I evolve in terms of my career, I think what makes sense for me eventually is to, use all that technology and marketing and communications that I’ve done over the years and start contributing more to where I live, more to my community in some way, so that’s what I’ve always been just.

[01:09:26] Blagica Bottigliero: That at the core of my eye looking for of how can I be a better contributor and citizen to where I live to my community, my kids, long term with all of that stuff I’ve learned from a corporate private perspective over the years, how can I merge the 2? And that really excites me. I love that.

[01:09:44] Blagica Bottigliero: That’s 

[01:09:45] Jessy Grossman: such a that’s, I love that so much. I was like, really wanting to ask you this question. I wanted to make sure we had time for it. And I love that philosophy. I like, I love, I think that’s beautiful. And you’re someone who has recently moved to, so like that community [01:10:00] element probably looks.

[01:10:01] Jessy Grossman: different, but yeah, community is such an important thing and just having, like making an impact in that and using everything that you’ve learned from before. And like, how does that morph into being applicable today? That’s cool. I love that so much. Okay. So I know that you have. Also your company, Bottles Nation.

[01:10:22] Jessy Grossman: I know you have like, you’re of course on social yourself. So if our listeners want to reach you, get in touch with you, and learn more about you, where can they go and how can they get in touch? For sure. It’s 

[01:10:39] Blagica Bottigliero: really easy. I, because I’ve been around for so long, I’ve been able to secure my first name as my domain name.

[01:10:45] Blagica Bottigliero: So you could just go to www. Blagica, my first name, B L A G I C A. com. All the info and background is there. Ways to reach me, email, the whole nine. Feel free to go there and check it out. 

[01:10:59] Jessy Grossman: [01:11:00] Amazing. I have a feeling many people will. Thank you so much for coming on today and just being so open. And like, I so enjoyed our conversation.

[01:11:09] Jessy Grossman: Thank you so much. All of you guys listening, thank you guys too. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did, and I hope everyone’s having a healthy, happy new year, and we will see you next time. Bye, guys. See ya. If you enjoyed this episode, we gotta have you back. Check out our website for more ways to get involved, including all the information you need about joining our collective.


[01:11:31] Jessy Grossman: You can check out all the information at iamwim. com. Leave us a review, a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask. Gonna do is to share this podcast, thankfully listening. Tune in next week.

Blagica Bottigliero

Founder, ZLATO and Co-Founder & Head of Marketing, BOTTLES NATION

Blagica Bottigliero, is an Emmy-winning digital marketing expert with over 25 years of experience in the industry, beginning with my early work of helping Maytag transition online. My career has been defined by leading digital transformations across various sectors.

Currently, as the Founder and Principal of Zlato, I specialize in providing strategic digital and affiliate marketing guidance. I engage deeply with client teams, offering not only training but also hands-on execution support. In this role, I integrate myself into the team, applying my expertise to drive success in digital communications strategies and affiliate marketing initiatives.

I served as the Director of Affiliate Marketing at JEB Commerce. There, I implemented a comprehensive strategy that merged Public Relations, Digital Marketing, Content Creation, and Commerce. This role was pivotal in reshaping the agency’s approach and offerings, demonstrating my ability to drive innovative and effective marketing solutions.

As Head of Marketing & Partnerships at Bottles Nation, I led a significant digital transformation, managing over 1,000 virtual events and generating $1M in revenue within a year. My global expertise was further expanded at ModSquad and Motorola Mobility, where I managed international teams and navigated complex global communication challenges. Additionally, my tenure at Orbitz contributed significantly to their online marketing strategies, enhancing my experience in the travel and e-commerce sectors.

At Edelman Digital, I played a key role in integrating digital marketing with traditional PR, establishing new industry standards. This experience sharpened my ability to merge cutting-edge digital strategies with traditional marketing practices.

My broad experience, spanning from startups to multinational corporations, enables me to skillfully manage complex marketing environments. As a seasoned keynote speaker, I’ve shared insights at forums like TEDx, SxSW, and AllWeb.

Passionate about continuous learning, I actively explore new trends, such as AI, to stay at the forefront of marketing innovation. I welcome and embrace change, constantly seeking to shape the digital narrative of brands.

I am an avid volunteer in my community. I am also an advocate for green technologies and electric vehicles. A born and bred metro-Detroiter, I have the pulse and grit of the Midwest , mixed in with international experience and knowledge.

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