The Complexities Of Parenting Influencers With Monica Banks Of Gugu Guru (@momcreators)

Today we’re speaking with Monica Banks of Gugu Guru. I am the CEO & Founder of Gugu Guru - the first ever parenting content destination powered by mom creators. Prior to founding GG, I was a branding and marketing consultant in the Mom & Baby industry. I currently live with my family in Long Island, New York.



[00:00:00] Jessy: Hi everyone, and welcome to the WIIM Podcast. Women in Influencer Marketing is a first of its kind exclusive networking group made up of inspirational women. This podcast is where we explore influencer marketing and get real about women in business. Find us wherever you download podcasts and of course, you can always find us at iamwiim.com. That’s iamwiim.com.

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So this is available for new members, and upgrades. Everyone gets to save 50 bucks off of their first year. Again, it’s YAY50. So I hope you enjoy and, let’s get into this week’s episode. So this week we have Monica Banks who joined us on the show. She is a parenting, influencer expert and we got into all things parenting influencers.

So if you are like nose deep in all of the partnerships that are going on this year, for holiday. Many of you guys are probably working with parenting influencers, and if you are, you know, there’s a lot of subtleties that go into it. So Monica is a CEO and founder of a company called Gugu Guru, which is the first ever parenting content destination powered by mom creators.

She’s a mom herself and prior to founding GG, she was branding and marketing consultant in the mom and baby industry. She currently lives with her family on Long Island, New York, and I was really excited to bring her on the podcast. She’s an awesome member of WIIM

I hope you enjoy the conversation and I wanna hear from you. So let me know your thoughts on this episode in the comments on YouTube. Also, if you would be so gracious enough to leave us a review, if you enjoyed this episode or the podcast in general, we would love it. You could do that on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen to our show. Enjoy this episode, guys. Happy holidays, and I will see you next week.



[00:05:59] Jessy: Hello, I’m so happy to have you on the show today, Monica. I’ve been like looking forward to chatting with you. Not everyone knows of like a little bit about my background in influencer and I used to represent all these parenting influencers, like before parenting was on my radar.

In fact, I was like a self proclaimed like, I dunno, that I’m gonna have kids cuts of years later and I have a kid, but I love the parenting space in particular and that’s an area that you are like so focused in. So I’m excited to chat with you today. I’m excited to have you here today. And first and foremost, how are you?

[00:06:39] Monica: First of all, thank you so much for having me. I’ve been so looking forward to. I’m doing ok. I’m not feeling the holiday stress even though the holidays are coming. I’ll check that box off feel good about it myself., how about you?

[00:06:52] Jessy: I’m good. I’m glad that you’re not feeling stressed, cause I hear a lot of people are stressed this time of year. Just, there’s so much going on in terms of business and also even to like, personal stuff. I’m really genuinely excited to, chat with you and learn more about your world and, how you even got started in the first place.

But I think that it would be really cool to just start by learning more about you personally and let’s take us back to even your upbringing. Tell us where you’re from and tell us a little bit more about like Monica as a kid.

[00:07:25] Monica: Okay. Oh my gosh. So where I am from originally actually, I call myself like bicoastal because I grew up, in Connecticut, just through elementary school. And then my family moved to California where I lived, through college. That’s where I’m from. Thanks to things like Facebook keep in touch with both sides of the coast, friends with both sides of the coast.

And yeah, Monica as a kid. It’s funny, I just was looking through like my old report cards and they’re all the same. They all say Monica has problems settling down . So I think that actually, became, a benefit when I was starting my own company because you have to have kind of this high metabolic energy to run a company and to just have the persistence to stick with it.

Other things, I’m the youngest of seven kids. Big, Irish family and a lot of humor. And right now I live in Long Island with my, two kids and my dog Henry, and my husband and I’ve been working from home since long before the pandemic.

My entire team has been remote since day one. I live and work on Long Island.

[00:08:40] Jessy: Very nice. So you were one of the ones like from the early days, who was like, I know this work from home thing, like everyone else was a little like, startled by it. But it’s cool to see. So if you could give people advice maybe who are still getting used to it, like what would you say has really helped you over the years with the work from home thing?

[00:09:03] Monica: I think that , it’s really much harder than people think. And the key to solving that is boundaries. Like everything just flows together. I personally started working from home and started my company so that I could have the best of both worlds and be at home with my kids and, be available for those field trips and everything like that, while still earning an income.

Sometimes the opposite can happen if you’re not careful. And definitely in the earlier years, I wasn’t wise to putting in boundaries. And so oftentimes I’d be just checking emails at seven o’clock at night when I put the kids to bed and it was just constant, almost like a chaos baseline.

And then I started realizing, okay, I have to put in this time is the cutoff time. This is the threshold when I need to stop working and I need to start being present for my family. And also mapping out your ideal day. I know when I am most productive is in the early morning, so I tend to really just pump a lot of workout prior to the kids waking up and the day starting.

And then right after I get that initial kind of wave of work done and the kids are at school, I walk the dog, I work out, I get ready for the day. And then the rest of the day is for, productivity up until I stop working. But not the tasks that require that kind of, high energy, creativity. Those are the things I do in the morning.

So I think if you know what kind of person you are, as far as when you’re most productive and what you want your day to look like. I know I want, when my kids get home from school, I wanna be available for them to make a snack and everything like that.

So I tell my team like look, 3:30 I’m done. I’m done until the next day. Obviously it, that doesn’t necessarily work if you’re, working for someone. But you can still put boundaries according to your, work schedule if you’re not running your own business like I am.

[00:10:55] Jessy: Wait, I wanna talk about that for a second because I know that there’s some people listening that you were talking, they’re listening and the second you said 3:30 is to the end of a work day, people went, what is that a regular thing for you? How are you able to achieve a 3:30 end of workday?

[00:11:13] Monica: I make exceptions if like I’m speaking with a brand who speak with me is at four o’clock. There’s certainly exceptions but by and large, I write down every day the three tasks that I need to achieve that day that are going to take my business the biggest step forward, and then also that will give me a sense of productivity, if I complete them.

So three seems to be the magic number. I try to get those three things done as soon as I wake up in the morning. I wake up anytime between five and six in the morning. And my kids wake up around eight, so I can get a lot of work done in those early hours.

It might not work for everyone that kind of schedule, because some people sleep later, some people aren’t as productive in the morning. Maybe their productivity time is noon or more in the afternoon after they’ve, worked out or whatever. Yeah, it’s certainly achievable because I get so much done in the morning when it’s just, me, my coffee and, two or three hours of totally uninterrupted time, with the exception of my husband popping in and asking me questions about the day.

[00:12:26] Jessy: There’s gonna be that moment. They’re like, “oh, hey, can ask question?” Can I ask, can I not? It’s like I’m trying to focus. No, I appreciate that though. I also think it’s helpful to see okay, so you’re ending the day at 3, 3:30 but you’re starting the day sometimes at 5. What time do you go to sleep if you’re like, starting the day at 5:00 AM

[00:12:44] Monica: I’m in bed by 9, 9:30, but I wouldn’t say that I actually hit the sack until 10, 10:30. I don’t fall asleep. I usually, watch a little TV or whatever. Ideally I get eight hours of sleep, but sometimes my body clock just wakes me up at 5:00 AM even if I went to bed at 10. And so, I don’t really fight it at that point because there’s no use.

But ideally, I feel happy when I get eight hours of sleep. Even if I don’t, usually seven hours pretty darn good.

[00:13:14] Jessy: No, it’s so good. So it’s not a crazy, it’s not like you’re like a zombie getting three hours of sleep. Workaholic to make this work like this sounds very realistic for those people who are interested in trying it.

But I can appreciate what you’re saying. You’re like from the hours of five till whenever kids get up, like it’s uninterrupted time, like focused time. And I think that’s something that not enough people talk about or like really aspire to. Like a lot of us are just like in the hamster wheel and responding to every fire that needs to be put out.

And I think that it’s really, helpful to be mindful of, productivity and the amount of focus that you put into your working hours and knowing that, like if you could just optimize that more and more, it should ultimately be about like less hours and more about impact. That’s awesome. So that’s cool.

I also wanna dig into just like the work that you do specifically. So first and foremost, just tell us a little bit more about your company to give context to those listeners who may not know yet.

[00:14:25] Monica: Okay. So prior to me starting my own business, my background is in marketing and it’s also in branding. I worked for a large branding, agency in New York City and I was working on all sorts of global brands, but I actually was overseeing the P & G Pampers business. And I was also overseeing the Abbott Similac business in that position. So I was already introduced to parenting brands and that, category of products prior to becoming a mom myself.

But when I, became pregnant, I was just faced with the reality of I don’t want to be doing this anymore. Commuting into the city every day. It works for some people certainly, but I just wanted to figure out how I could again, have best of both worlds. So I decided to start my own marketing consulting practice when my son was born.

And total 1000 percent coincidence. A friend of mine who’s a web developer got in touch with me and she’s like, I really need help. I need marketing help for one of my clients. It was a maternity skincare line. So again, just like happenstance and I thought, okay, this is perfect for me because I just had a baby and I really understand this category also just based on my work experience.

And so I started working with, that brand and then it snowballed . This was 2010, so this was really at the like beginning of the mommy blogger, kind of thing. I started going to all these events in the city and interacting with other brands and then it just became my niche.

But as I was working in that industry, I realized, there was a big problem because I was constantly talking to these brands and I was a new mom myself and I was talking to a lot of retailers because the brands were trying to get into the retailers. And I noticed what I call a trifecta of problems.

One is that parents are extremely overwhelmed with the amount of products out there, and they ask for advice and they get like too much advice. And it’s very, confusing. Then you have the brands who are trying to fight for market share and they’re also trying to, often in the parenting industry, reach a parent at a very specific stage so that even like further complicates their marketing efforts. And then you have the retailers who, in my opinion to this day, still haven’t really caught up with the times.

And Covid forced their hand a bit because it was just like everything, was online obviously. And so they were really forced to rethink things. But even still, the experience shopping online baby products, like hasn’t, really been, perfected.

And so when I saw this problem, I thought to myself, there should really be a way that we can solve this. And I always say my aha moment. I dumb it down to me being on Facebook. My brother-in-law posted this Buzzfeed quiz what Disney character are you? Or something like that.

And I was like, oh, they should do this for registry. They should do this for moms. Like, Build a quiz. And so that was July of 2014. I decided to build this company myself. And so I found a developer and I built Gugu Guru and launched it in March, April of 2015. And at that point it was really a platform, like a website where parents could come and get, highly personalized recommendations and content based on their lifestyle and style.

And really I, got a lot of vanity kind of metrics a lot of early success, but just more at the surface level where we had a lot of celebrities working with us to get these product recommendations. And it was all organic. Never had to pay any celebrities or anything like that.

There were like some big turning points. Like we worked with Whitney Port, who’s become like a really good friend of mine, and we worked with Mandy Moore and the whole time I was realizing that, parents really did not want recommendations from a website or from artificial intelligence.

They wanted recommendations from other moms. Now fast forward to Covid I have always gotten emails from moms. They all say the same thing. It’s hey, I do all my friends baby registries. I’m like the go-to person in my playgroup for product recommendations. Are you hiring?

I’d love to help moms with product recommendations. And my answer was always like, no. But at the same time I realized, okay, these moms. At the time, I called them the Google sheet moms because these were the moms that like create the Google sheet of like registry must haves and pass ’em on to their friends and they like spread like wildfire.

But these moms were really my biggest competition, but they wanted to join me. So I’m like okay. How can I take my biggest competition and really turn them into my biggest asset? And the creator economy has really allowed me to do that because what I did was I pivoted the business and instead, I’m empowering these moms to learn how to make content creation a business for themselves.

Whether or not they want to be UGC content creators, or they want to be influencers and monetize their audience, we help them at any stage of the journey. And it’s been very rewarding for me because it’s one thing to help a mom, in terms of finding the right stroller for her, but it’s an entirely other level of like reward for me personally when I’m showing a mom, I’m empowering her with the tools that she needs to forge a career for herself content creation.

That’s where we are today. We have a community of over 6,000 mom content creators. They range from your everyday influencers. Or everyday, UGC kind of content creators and all the way up to larger influencers and celebrities.

And, still work with brands. We’ve have a lot of brands that have been with us since 2015 and just been along on the journey and just trusted us that, we’re gonna, crack this nut. And so really like in a lot of ways we’re matching the mom content creators with the brands that we work with.

We’re like a matchmaking service, but what makes us a little bit different than like your kind of typical agency is that we also have an audience of parents that are consuming that content. We still have website and our blog and our social media channels, where parents are coming to watch and read this content about, baby products. So it’s this kind of ecosystem.

I think that whole launch of what we call our mom creators community, happened just this year. it’s Been like a kind of slow evolution in pivot since 2015.

[00:21:26] Jessy: I love that. That’s awesome. And what does your shirt say, by the way?

[00:21:31] Monica: We designed it, it says Mom-tent because like on TikTok, that’s what they call mom content is mom tent.

[00:21:38] Jessy: Oh, okay. That makes sense, I love that .

[00:21:41] Monica: Thank you!

[00:21:43] Jessy: I was like, it says Mom something. Mom something.

No, it’s so good. I love that. Like I shared with you earlier, I happen to also find that there is a lot of opportunity in the parenting space in particular especially on the influencer side because not only could you get a brand deal or just any sort of opportunity for the mom, but then there’s the kid and then there’s the husband and the family and it’s like things that everybody uses.

And as a former talent manager, I fell into that, but soon realized how much opportunity there was in it. So that ended up being a strong focus of mine personally. And I know a lot of people in Wiim find the same thing. Like it lines up nicely with that lifestyle area, which a lot of people know is very similarly described, where, there’s a lot of opportunities there.

My question for you though is I feel like there are unique challenges to being in the parenting space that I personally experience. And I’d love to hear what you’ve experienced, like just what challenges and nuances are specifically in the parenting space and I don’t know, have you overcome all of them? Some of them? Are you still working on ’em?

[00:22:53] Monica: In the parenting space, I would say like one of the biggest challenges is just that, as far as just the brands that I’m working with, you have the major legacy players, like the great goes of the world. And then you have a lot of these kind of small mom, entrepreneur, businesses.

And then maybe this is true with all industries, but I do feel like there’s a varying level of knowledge as far as, how influencer marketing works, how content works, why content is so crucial for your business success.

So there’s that issue in the parenting industry is that, on the creator side of moms, and by the way, we work with all sorts of parents, but 99.9% of my audience is moms. But so with our mom creators, they’re trying to break into content creation, but they don’t quite understand the brand’s needs, all the time.

And I say that brands want storytelling. And I think that a lot of these, content creators, they think oh, I’m gonna do an unboxing or from a subject matter standpoint, I’m gonna do registry must haves.

First of all, there is no such thing as like one standard list of registry must haves change from mom to mom. If you are a mom who is breastfeeding exclusively, and you’re not gonna use bottles, then a bottle feeding exclusively mom’s registry is not gonna be a fit for you. And so I think that there’s this, I don’t know how, what the right word is, but this mistake especially new mom influencers and new mom creators just entering this space that they’re like, oh, this is gonna be a great topic for me to create content about.

It’s really not. And it’s the same with like unboxings. I did a TikTok about this yesterday. I was talking with a brand and she’s like, I’ll send this product out to 50 influencers. They have I understanding like how much time it takes for me to box all this stuff up, ship it out, and then they just do it unboxing.

And while unboxings are helpful, it’s okay, what can I do with 50 unboxing videos? I think that, on the creator side of things, it just requires a little bit more thought and creativity. And one of the major challenges with the parenting industry is that there are a lot of safety usage guidelines, compliance issues that mom creators, parent creators in general just don’t realize and don’t take the time to really consider it for their content, because I cannot tell you, this is like the bane, I could say this to any baby gear company and they’d understand, cause this has been the bane of my existence many times where I get a phenomenal piece of content from a celebrity, and the baby’s in a car seat and the chest clip is in the wrong place.

The brand can’t use it. The brand cannot use that content because it’s a safety issue. And so those kind of like content nuances are a big, challenge in the industry. I think another challenge in the industry is that, brands need to target moms at certain stages, so it makes things really extra complicated for them as far as targeting because you can go on Facebook and you could target a mom, at this age and lives in this part of the country or whatever.

There’s general targeting, on Facebook ads, let’s say, but it’s becomes more difficult, the more kind of granular you’re trying to target, like a mom who is, considering cloth diapers, but is scared about it. Like those kind of things.

And that’s the kind of information that we collect about our mom creator so that we really understand not only what kind of products are a great fit for them, but what kind of brands they’d be a good match for. There are some challenges that are just like unique to the industry, but certainly the challenge of the safety, the hyper targeting and also just the unique storytelling aspect.

Especially with these products there’s so much like education involved with some of them. It’s like the brand wants to say all these talking points, right?

But, you don’t want it to seem staged in like an ad. At the same time, if you don’t hit some of those points, then the content is lackluster and really doesn’t tell the story that the brand wants. So those are pretty much the unique challenges that we face.

[00:27:30] Jessy: And that’s a lot of challenges, it’s a challenging space to be in, but an area with so much opportunity and so much promise money flowing in and out, like of course it’s gonna innately have challenges, right? So I think it’s great to have an organization like yours and a community like yours to have a whole community of people who can help navigate those things together.

But I also am cognizant of like, being a parent myself now, parenting is a very unique thing, right? Everybody approaches how they parent their kid differently. So for example, some people just generally think that it’s go to the 10th degree, like really bad to even have your kids on social media.

 Let’s go there. Like some people are like, you’re profiting off of your children. They don’t have a say or a choice. People are probably most opinionated when it comes to parenting in general. And to those really like personal choices and the mindset of how to navigate those really challenging comments on, videos or content and stuff like that.

Is there any advice that you would give to people who wanna embark on, entering this space and then, and talking about what it is to be a parent and having kids, but might face really harsh criticism?

[00:28:48] Monica: Yeah, it’s funny. I don’t remember the TikToker’s name, but I just saw this woman the other day talk about content babies and she said content babies are when mom, influencers just have babies so they can make more content and profit more. And I thought, oh my gosh, I’m sure that applies unfortunately to some influencers, but hopefully not many.

It’s a very real thing about, moms not wanting to show, their kids on social media for safety reasons and stuff like that and I’ve talked to brands about this. I’m seeing, it really isn’t even a matter of other people’s opinions, whether or not they’re profiting off their kids. It’s just like safety, privacy, that kind of thing. And who knows, they might be swayed by those comments about, that coming from people who are profiting.

I think that it’s a personal decision. Social media, it can be such a wonderful thing, but it can be such an ugly thing. And no matter what you do and how careful you are, there’s always the possibility that somebody’s gonna criticize you for something.

So I think that, it’s a no-win situation if you wanna put your kids on social, whether you’re trying to profit from them or not, somebody’s gonna criticize. For me, my daughter always wants to be on my TikTok lives with me. Like she always wants to participate. She’s 10 years old, so I feel like she’s a little bit more kind of understanding of the situation versus a newborn or a one year old.

But there are a lot of options. Again, I’ve done videos about this where you can have your kids in the video without actually showing them, or you can just not have them in the video. And I know a lot of influencers, on TikTok and on Insta who are not even showing their kids and who have great content and a great engaged community.

So I don’t think it’s a must have and I think that if you decide to show your kids, you have to go in with open eyes that you’re gonna get some criticism. But it’s like right now, I mean it’s it’s so crazy as you said. Parents are so judgemental, it’s so annoying cause we should just all be supporting each other to a degree.

This woman talked about, I don’t even know who it was, said something about not bathing her toddler and it just became such a huge thing on social about like how often you should bath your toddler. And there’s this like one camp that you should bathe them like every other day there’s another camp that you should bath them every day.

 But it like gets ugly and it’s just so ridiculous to me that’s, because I always joke around, I’m like an elderly mom at this point compared to, the Gen Zs and the Gen Ys on social right now. But yeah, I mean I think, if you want to have your kids on social, you’re just gonna have to arm yourself that you’re gonna get some criticism about it.

And if you don’t wanna show your kids on social, but you wanna be on social and you wanna be a mom influencer, there is a way to do that and you can do it successfully without showing.

[00:31:47] Jessy: Yeah, no, I appreciate that. I like living in a world where there’s a lot of gray and it’s not so black and white.

So what you’re describing is that gray area, and I appreciate that so much. And I think that similar to you I agree, any influencer that’s gonna be on the internet and like really make a go at this, like you just have to have thick skin no matter what you’re talking about, you’re putting yours out there on the internet.

And it’s like people feel like it’s free reign to just criticize anything and everything. I was just like scrolling on, like a Reddit channel, I guess I’m not like on Reddit as much, but there’s, like influencer snark is the, thread on there.

And I was just like, oh, I wonder if there are like interesting stories that we could perhaps cover even on this podcast and oh my God, it’s crazy. Cause influencers the new celebrity and forever in a day you feel like you can criticize celebrities like they’re almost not human, in the way that people just don’t necessarily have empathy.

I would like to think that parenting influencers like people are inclined to have more empathy towards them. They’re literally just parents of children and you know that you would like to think that they feel more approachable or like relatable, that you can have empathy towards them.

But it’s like a whole other level of criticism that they get because people so fundamentally believe what they believe when it comes to how to parent children. So I personally appreciate the parenting influencers that sort of provide their like off color, perspective that is a little bit different.

I think that most influencers who happen to be the most successful, they just swim in their own lane anyway. And that’s actually another question that have for you too, cause when I think of a lot of parenting influencers, I do think that there are a lot of them that are very similar. It’s oh, like she is the mom from the Midwest who like has her picket fence and this and that. Is there a type of influencer that you’ve seen be more successful? Is there a way that you could describe what that influencer looks like? Or is it just there’s more to it than that.

[00:33:53] Monica: It’s funny I was talking about media kits that I see and I don’t mean to sound rude, but see these media kits from mom influencers and they all say the same thing. I write about family fun and food and sometimes fitness, or whatever. And it’s like, okay, we gotta differentiate ourselves here.

Cause I see, family fun and food, on pretty much like every single media kit. Even the handles, it’s Mama Loves Starbucks. There’s so many different, I hope there’s no influence or named Mama Love Starbucks. I just made that up, but and if there is, I’m sorry, but it’s just, very similar. type of approach to how they promote themselves.

And so I don’t think that those mom creators or those influencers are really going to win at the game because having an edge and having a kind of point of differentiation is gonna be really important. And I think, to answer your question about who’s doing it well, I think that, it depends, like I do see some kind of cross-platform. Like I do see some moms on, TikTok that are doing well on reels, I can’t remember this one woman’s name, but like all that she does is dance to nineties music. And it is, hilarious. Like absolutely hilarious.

And I think that, if you are going to be on TikTok, the authenticity factor is big. I think, being relatable, being honest. Whereas Instagram, it might be a bit more of a curated, polished, aesthetic experience. And as I said, I do see some, moms for sure kind of performing well. But it all comes down to community and who builds community through, telling poignant stories, through relatable content, through just, being real or also aspirational, influencers, especially on Instagram, whether it’s, outfit of the day or whatever. That’s just bringing people back to more and bringing people back for more, and making people feel like connected because they’re aspiring also being inspired by the content.

Those are the influencers that are going to win, is really focused on community. if they’re, on TikTok and they’re just dancing to trending sounds and that kind of thing, no matter how many followers they have, it’s not really a community. And that’s key piece to all of this is it’s really the quality over the quantity. I think I heard somebody say once, it’s not the width, it’s the depth. In my opinion, influencers that really stand out who’ve successfully done that.

[00:36:29] Jessy: And can we get specific, I love to hear you have this incredible community and you’re like you’re my subject matter expert.

You are so privy to so many insights in terms of the parenting space. What are a handful of ways that you’re seeing these parenting influencers monetize? Because, we think of oh, brand partnerships, but you’re talking about community as well, and I’m sure throughout, if you have a really engaged community, there are dozens of ways that you can monetize that.

So are there any more unique ways that sort of have like really stood out to you as you, watched some of these influencers really hit it out of the park?

[00:37:02] Monica: Yeah, I think, I’ve seen these platforms, I don’t know if you wanna call ’em digital product platforms or, but just ways that, you can monetize your link in bio because I do think brand sponsorships right now, especially with kind of the uncertain economic climate, it’s really good for any kind of influencer, any kind of creator to hedge their bets and look into additional means of revenue, aside from just the brand sponsorship.

There’s affiliate, right? That’s one way that you can monetize. And there are lots of social commerce apps coming out now that make it easier than ever for you to monetize your content. Meaning like you could even just do an outfit of the day photo, and then easily have affiliate links, in your link in bio to, monetize that.

The other thing is digital products. And digital products could really be as simple as, Instagram, just release subscriptions. My brother runs a dog rescue and he got the option to do subscriptions and I said, something great cause for you, people could subscribe to certain dogs that you rescue to watch, their journey from being rescued and on the verge of death to all, getting adopted into their forever homes and.

That could be something that you charge for similarly. I’m an ambassador for, a company called Stan For Creators. And on TikTok, supposedly you’re not supposed to say check my link in bio because then they don’t like, show the content. But, Stan allows you to really, monetize your content through your link in bio.

So the content could be something like a phone call with me .Pay Monica $5 and ask me anything, or, pay me $10 and I’ll review your portfolio and provide like a personalized video of your UGC portfolio feedback from me.

It depends on what kind off expert you are. A lot of people seem to fight against, oh, I don’t wanna have a niche. I don’t have a niche. I’m like the everyday niche list person, whatever. It’s fine, but if you really wanna monetize, you need to have some sort of expertise or some sort of niche that you can dial into or else it makes it really difficult to monetize outside of just standard UGC relationships or sponsored posts.

And those categories are becoming so inundated right now that I just don’t know what’s gonna happen because the saturation of UGC creators, it’s like, getting very saturated. So you need to again, build community and in order to even build community, you have to have some sort of niche, even if it’s like humor.

I’m, I prefer being more specific, but, I was talking to an influencer the other day and she makes some of the funniest content. I laughed so hard at her content and I said to her like, you could even do something like have people pay you to do almost like a cameo type of thing where you like send a cheer up to another mom who might be going through, like…

She’s very funny, but she also went through postpartum depression. So she talks about that a lot. So like I was saying, like what you could do like really funny digital greeting cards and you don’t even have to charge a lot for them. And they start to add up. So I think that, those are the different types of ways that you can monetize outside of just your standard sponsored posts.

And I definitely think it’s very important that if you want to make a career out of being a content creator, that you look into those things. Everybody has a special gift. Everybody has a special gift and whether you know it or not, and if you know what your special gift is, like I can help, people lose weight or I can help, whatever it might be.

Because you did it yourself you can offer the transformation that you went through to somebody else. Or if you are stuck I don’t know what my special gift is, ask friends. ” Hey, what would you go, come to me for advice for?” ” What kind of things do you enjoy?”

Like even asking your audience what kind of content do you enjoy for me? And leaning into that. Then you can monetize your community a bit more because if you’re a keto expert, you can do your favorite keto, cookbook, download, digital pdf, whatever, and charge a couple bucks for it.

But as I said, that starts to add up really quickly if you’ve got, 10,000 followers on, TikTok and they’re good quality followers. And not just a bunch of people who saw you do a dance to a trending sound and decided to follow along cause they’re likely gonna leave you, if you’re not bringing them quality content after that.

[00:41:41] Jessy: Totally. And how do you feel also about some parenting influencers in particular? It’s not just influencers, but I find this to be a lot in the parenting space. Like, how do you feel about some of those folks who shy away from like world issues? Like I found that during some, like more heated times around the deaths of George Floyd and like Black Lives Matter or even like the war in Ukraine or any sort of political issues or Roe v. Wade even. I was like, all right, some influencers are gonna speak up about that. That’s a women’s rights issue.

I find that not only are a lot of these influencers who have an incredible opportunity, because they have these huge audiences, not only are they silent, but I’ve spoken personally to some of them. Of course, this is just some, and they’re like, oh, I very intentionally avoid like talking about these topics because they’re so polarizing and all of the things. So what are your personal thoughts on, sharing your political beliefs or sharing your ideas about some of these more controversial issues, considering they have these huge platforms?

[00:42:57] Monica: If you have a huge platform, you should be using it for good, in some way. And, because the nature of some of these things is polarizing and cancel culture is very real unfortunately. I think that you have to have the intention to use your platform for good, but maybe that’s, doing something to give back to, a charity of your choice some other way that you use social for good, or your platform for good, whatever that might be.

But, you’re not really talking about, certain topics like on a day to day basis. I think on the flip side, like some people bring up these polarizing topics to get more, engagement and they don’t really necessarily know what they’re talking about.

And so it can work against you. Because everybody has such a heated opinion about so many of these things.

[00:43:52] Jessy: What about on the brand side? I’m curious what conversations you’re privy to, right? Like I shared, like I’ve spoken to influencers and they’re like being candid with me and they’re like, real talk girl. I don’t talk about those things because I feel like it’s almost like dangerous to do so. Are you privy to any conversations on the brand side? Where brands are like, oh, we’re like avoiding anybody who’s talking about these polarizing topics. I’m sort curious like what the brand side of this all is.

[00:44:20] Monica: Yeah. It’s funny that you say that. I signed up for L Vast, which is this is not a parenting brand, but it’s an investment, educational resource for women teaching you how to invest. And it really blew my mind, this was back in, I guess it was 2016, I’m assuming. when Trump was in office, and I got this email from L Vast and they just went off and it was from the founder.

It was like, hi, I’m the founder of L Vast like I hate Donald Trump or what. And I was just like, wow, good for her. You know that’s what she’s passionate about and that’s what she wants to use her platform for, then go girl. But I think it all comes from the top. So I think, for me my team, I’ve often, told them like I can’t remember what it was about, but my social media manager wasn’t posting about some very hot topic.

A George Floyd type of thing, but and I just went on Instagram because I was passionate about that particular thing, and I posted about it and she texted me and said, oh my gosh, thank you so much for doing that because I had absolutely no idea if I was allowed to say anything.

 That’s one of those moments where you’re like, oh my gosh, I forgot that I’m like running this company because I look at all my teammates we’re all just trying to do the same thing here and I don’t ever think of myself as somebody they’d have to ask me if they could post about it, but it makes sense, obviously, right?

Because it could be a very polarizing thing. And so I think it really comes from the top. I’ve seen brands who are very passionate about certain things, and I see it, manifested on their social media, and I assume that they got the green light from their higher ups to do and I’ve seen founders that are very passionate about certain things.

So it really, I think choice of whoever’s running the company and not so much the person who’s just like managing social media. If it’s happening, it must be coming from the top.

[00:46:19] Jessy: Yeah, no, absolutely. And I dunno about you. It’s just a crazy world that we live in, like seeing these like really heated conversations can take a lot out of a person. But on the flip side, I also think that they’re almost necessary for hopefully people to ultimately come together.

I just think like silence is dangerous. I think that hiding away from things or shying away from things is more dangerous than the alternative, which is just I think it’s a powerful thing to speak your mind. I think it’s good to have people learn. I think the idea is to have people to learn how to communicate better, not talk at each other, and I hope that’s like conducive to what you’ve been saying this whole time, which is for any influencer to be successful, so much of it is about community and Isn’t that what a community is? Like it’s not just that you’re preaching at these people, it’s no, you’re a community.

You’re together, you’re speaking with each other, hearing each other. I’ve been curious about that piece for a while, and it’s helpful to hear what you’ve, witnessed as well, because, I find that parenting influencers in particular, for some reason, they seem to be a little bit more shy from talking about some of these controversial topics than others. So I’ve been curious what you’ve seen.

[00:47:38] Monica: Yeah, I think that there’s one attitude where it’s like, for Gugu Guru, it’s like our whole thing is about baby product recommendations. So it might seem completely out of left field if suddenly we post about George Floyd on our Instagram feed because all we’ve been talking about is like bottles and pacifiers.

And so it’s a little bit about what is the community about? And I think, in some of these situations it’s a bit about responsibility, because if you don’t have all the facts, unfortunately with cancel culture, there’s a lot of just in general like this guilty before proven innocent, and how it should be, which is vice, versa.

And that if you don’t have all the facts and you’re speaking up on something without all the facts, that’s a liability. And it can also cause damage, I’m trying to think of an example of just if somebody was wrongly accused of something or whatever, or, people said, said something was a suicide instead of a, like an accidental death because they didn’t have all the facts.

And like those things have ramifications, so they might be overly cautious and shooting themselves in the foot because of it, to your point, because it’s maybe if they’re too cautious, they miss the opportunity do something good. it’s hard. I think it’s not a one size fits all scenario for these kind of topics.

[00:49:00] Jessy: Yeah and I’m also curious, like in terms of your own business, you brought it up, you’re like it might feel, what’s the word I’m looking for?

[00:49:07] Monica: Out of left field.

[00:49:08] Jessy: Yeah. Exactly like it might feel out of left field. Thank you. If, our company is talking about baby formula one day and then George Floyd the next day. So like you know with your extensive background in all this stuff, like how do you guys manage that as a company?

[00:49:24] Monica: Yeah, I think we tend to stick to not necessarily bringing up things like that because my company is Gugu Guru, and it’s not really a person, like an influential person, we don’t necessarily go into those kind of topics. However, we are very sensitive to, for example, like when there’s a school shooting or something like that, we’re not like posting happy content, and pretending that it didn’t happen. So there’s a balance there for us, like we’re respectful of what’s going on in the media, but I don’t think as a company, we take sides on anything necessarily especially something like a heated debate because it’s just not the right forum. It would seem a bit odd to do it there.

And I have my own personal social media channels where I’ll share and that’s me. I don’t consider myself an influencer necessarily, but I guess I definitely have some influence for sure. But I think that a lot of those topics are more appropriate on your private channels or on your personal channels than they are just like on your company’s channels.

[00:50:26] Jessy: Yeah.

[00:50:26] Monica: You also have an obligation to the brands that you work with too. I recommended this dad influencer once, and I had absolutely no idea that there was a huge scandal. He cheated on his wife and whatever it was, and then the brand came back to me and they were like, oh, we don’t wanna work with him.

Didn’t you realize that he had this big scandal? And I thought to myself, ooh, ooh. So I think that, you have an obligation to the brands that you work with too, that you don’t want to polarize your audience especially if a brand is paying you to run something about a baby bottle, and you’re going off about how much you hate the president or whatever, that’s a little bit of disconnect as far as our company goes versus influencer who might have more freedom to do something like,

[00:51:06] Jessy: Yeah. I also just wonder to your point earlier, like we’re all influencers. Someone interviewed me yesterday, from like a college and they’re like, oh, I’d love to pick your brain. If someone comes to me and they’re like a student, I’m like, yes, I’m happy to talk to you. I wanna help you.

So I didn’t look at the questions that she was gonna be asking me until right as she was asking me them, and they were like talking to me as if I’m an influencer. Like the questions were like, questions you would ask an influencer, and I’m like I don’t consider myself an influencer.

But I think that brings up a really good topic, which is just that, what is an influencer anymore? It’s not what we used to think of it as. It’s simply just like there are some people who tune in and who listen to you and who you have weight in, what you say to them. And you have a platform and an opportunity, hopefully, like you said earlier, you use it for good. That would be fantastic. That’s definitely ideal. But I think that the word influencer is really dramatically changing these days. and

I think it’s a really good thing. I look at everything in life most things in life as like, where the opportunity is and if you have a 500 people who follow you and all those 500 people are so intrigued by what you have to say, heck yeah, you’re an influencer.

 And you should use that as an opportunity, to influence and for good. Look, I’m super happy that we got to connect today and it’s been really intriguing things for going there with me about everything in your world, cause I’ve been like a little removed from it for a while. So it’s, helpful to hear from your perspective, parenting influencers and what they’re going through and how brands interact with them.

And I think it’s all really fascinating for those people who wanna learn more about you, your company, what’s the best way for them to connect with you?

[00:52:54] Monica: Our website’s, Gugu Guru, G U G U G U R U. My kind of mom creator, like influencer side of things, is Mom Creators. So you can find me on TikTok and Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter as Mom Creators.

So we have our Gugu Guru, which is more the content to consume. And then, mom creators, which is more information and resources about how you can monetize your influence as a mom.

[00:53:20] Jessy: And I love to be intentional. I think this is like the perfect way to end our conversation. Who’s the ideal person that you want to reach out to you?

[00:53:28] Monica: Oh, you know what, Sarah Blakely, I freaking love her.

[00:53:30] Jessy: I love it. Okay, so perfect. So if there’s Sarah Blakely out there and you’re listening to the show or someone similar, definitely reach out.

I love it. Thank you so much for joining today.

[00:53:45] Monica: Thank you.

[00:53:46] Jessy: Thank you. And thank you guys for listening.

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. You can check out all the information at iamwiim.com. Leave us to review a rating, but the most important thing that we can ask you to do is to share this podcast.

Thanks for listening. Tune in next week.

Monica Banks

Founder and CEO, GUGU GURU

I am the CEO & Founder of Gugu Guru – the first ever parenting content destination powered by mom creators. Prior to founding GG, I was a branding and marketing consultant in the Mom & Baby industry. I currently live with my family in Long Island, New York.

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