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MaiStoryBook on Pricing her Brand Deals, Keeping it in the Family, and Getting Paid by Publishers

She uses iPhone Notes instead of Quickbooks, and makes her Book Craft digital products in Powerpoint

MaiStoryBook

If you didn’t read Tuesday’s issue of Creator Logic, check out MaiStoryBook’s business breakdown here! Today, we dig into how she runs her business, along with her various tools and partners, to understand her creator logic.

As a reminder, starting next week, The Operating Stack will only be available to premium Superlogic subscribers (don’t worry, you’ll still get an excerpt each week). Subscribe before March 31st for two free weeks.

Let’s get into it!

The Operating Stack

Revenue Partners

Affiliates - Amazon

Interestingly, there’s a commonly used alternative to Amazon for book affiliates that’s focused on supporting small book stores. It’s called Bookshop. While Maya is aware of it, she doesn’t use it, because she started with Amazon and just doesn’t have time to either double up or make the change.

To link to books, I use my Amazon shop just mostly like a book list, to categorize book lists, and then for their affiliate marketing. There is an alternative to that, Bookshop, which I know some other bookstagrammers also use, or they offer both alternatives because some people don't like Amazon. Bookshop I think takes a cut and donates it to small bookshops or small businesses.

I haven’t gotten into that yet. I just don't have time at the moment to reupload all the lists onto Bookshop, but that could be another alternative. I don't know if it would double that revenue or just kind of send people to somewhere else to pay. To me, there's no huge incentive to go do it right now.

Inertia is a property of matter…and creators.

Brand Deals - Acorn Influence + Big Honcho Media + Aspire + other influencer networks / marketplaces

Maya doesn’t have a manager or agent, but brand deals still make up 40% of her revenue!

So here’s my bias coming out - as a former agent and manager, I’m still a little blown away whenever I hear a creator gets brand deals without an agent/manager. How do they do it??

The answer is simple, and it’s one every agent/manager will absolutely hate - influencer networks / marketplaces.

So I don't have a manager…I guess I am kind of in a couple - what did you call them? Networks. They'll reach out initially with a brand deal and then I'll kind of be in their network and then I do get repeat ones from certain companies.

If a creator does business with a network, and delivers on the asks and is easy to work with, they’ll likely get repeat business. It’s in the network’s best interest to bring business to creators they know will deliver.

For creators who don’t have (or want) representation, and who are happy doing lots of <$10k deals instead of a few very large deals, this strategy can be very effective.

There's one called Acorn Influence. There's Big Honcho Media, and also Aspire will send things my way sometimes. And so some of them are like “we invite you to apply” and some of them just say Hey we're interested, and if you say yes, then we can go through with it.”

Again, my Hollywood bias kicking in here - they sometimes make her apply???

Yes. If a creator is willing to jump through a few hoops, they can get enough business to make up 40% of their entire revenue base!

You might be wondering - who negotiates her deals?

I do. So that has been interesting, trying to figure out price points, because I don't know. I do feel like sometimes I'm undercharging because then I'll go to work with some company and they'll set their rates way higher than I ever charged, and I’m like “Wow, should I be charging this much?” But it’s interesting because different companies will have different price points, and so some will offer way less, maybe even less than what I would typically ask for, but I might still do it depending on how long I think it would take me to do.

Navigating negotiating brand deals is tricky for any creators, and one of the appeals of having representation. There are two ways to increase revenue - increase price, or increase volume. The challenge is that, all other things equal, higher pricing can reduce volume. Maya prices based on audience size, but doesn’t turn down work based on it - instead, she is willing to take smaller deals if the effort is low. This way, she can increase her volume and thus her overall revenue.

When asked about her pricing approach:

So what I did is, I went on Google and I said “how do you set your rate?” There’s this calculator thing where if you can enter your profile, they'll tell you how much you should charge. So I have my standard right? But then I've worked with other companies on brand deals before, and they will set the fee. Interestingly enough, depending on who reaches out to me, I do have various media kit levels. So if it's a big company, then I send my premium one. But if it's someone like the individual book seller, then I have a different one with them.

This brought up an interesting trend in the bookfluencer space:

I do a lot of deals with publishers, and this is actually something that's just recent, because publishers usually would only do content in exchange for free books right? Just recently, there's been a big push in the Bookstagram community to be paid more for a deal. So they won't pay for every deal, but they will occasionally offer a paid sponsored posting, and their rates are low. Their rates aren't what I would normally ask for, but with them, it's kind of like “Okay, they're finally starting to actually pay.”

Let’s talk about this for a second. Book publishers are in the middle of a huge renaissance thanks to BookTok and Bookstagrammers and other bookfluencers making reading cool again (and helping people discover more unique and interesting books than ever). There’s been plenty of writing on this, but check out these articles from Elle and Business Insider for more.

Given that publishing sales are at a 20-year high, publishers should damn well be paying creators they’re asking to promote their products.

Blog / Website Ad Monetization - Google AdSense

[AdSense is] the beginner basic ad revenue source for blogs. If you want really nice ones, you have to hit certain thresholds. I’m working on that. Those ones that I just recently learned about were AdThrive and MediaVine. Their thresholds are maybe 100,000 views a month. 

Content Creation

Video - iPhone

Editing - iMovie + InShot

I am very like “Oh this works at the moment. Okay, I'm gonna use it.” My phone camera is super easy for me. It's like - press a button and then stop and then airdrop it to my computer. I have Macbook and using an iPhone, I just airdrop the footage back and forth. It’s super easy for me, and I think that camera quality is high enough for video.

I use like a ring light, so the lighting is fine and I try to use our stage in front of a window, so lighting and everything works out for the camera.

Photo - Nikon DSLR

Design - Canva + iPhoto + Powerpoint

I do take photos with the camera versus the iPhone, I think just because the iPhone camera has more of that HDR kind of look, very clear. The [Nikon] camera does better blurring the background and does have nicer effects.

I also just upload those and edit on iPhoto a little bit and then upload those to Instagram.

…as for Canva, it was something I was introduced to in college that we used as undergrads, so I was already kind of familiar with how the graphics and everything work, and how to upload and use the platform.

Interestingly, she doesn’t use Canva to create her actual book craft digital products; instead, she uses Powerpoint for that, likely because it’s faster and easier to combine text and images while Canva is better for design.

I don't think what I do now requires Photoshop. For my crafts, I just make them on Powerpoint, then download them as a PDF, and then upload the digital files.

…the craft is created on Powerpoint for the digital file, and then I’ll use Canva to create the graphic for the listing.

Business Management

Credit Card - None

I can’t really use a business card because I don’t have to buy anything for my business.

Finances - Notes app

You read that right. She uses the notes app to track her various invoices and tax documents. Not Quickbooks. Notes.

Reminds me of this creator meme that Tejas Hullur shared on LinkedIn a while ago (not sure who the originator is, but maybe this guy):

Team

Representation - Unrepresented

Content Production - Husband + Mom

I am someone who kind of likes having control of all the pieces, and if I feel like if I can do it myself, I don't really want to pay and outsource if I don't have to. So really, it is me and then my mom does photography occasionally, my husband will help film something if I need someone to hold the camera. If I need to be moving around in the shot then he'll come with me and help film with the camera. But otherwise, I do all my own editing and listing and bookkeeping and recording and stuff right now. If it ever gets unmanageable then I would need help, but as of right now, yeah, it's keeping it in the family.

Quick Questions

Dream brand collab?

Oh that has changed over a while. I would like to work with Lakeshore Learning, I think they're pretty big in like the educational space.

#1 tool to save time and money?

I guess I would have to say my phone.

Who would you hire with free money?

I would want a virtual assistant, or maybe they don't even have to be virtual, but I do need someone who would do all kinds of small tasks. So ideally someone would take all the lists, put them onto different platforms like Bookshop, or relist everything. Even on the blog, I actually would want that copyedited, or someone to even make a book list on Amazon and then take that list, write up a whole blog post with all the books in it, and then a little description of the book and post that so that it can lead to more ad revenue. I would need help with all those kinds of online tasks, setting up different things. That is that is something that I've been talking about - should I hire someone or just kind of wait and see if I can do it myself eventually.

Biggest risk to your business?

There's a couple I think. Overall, it’s that as a creator, you're so dependent on these platforms that if they were to go down, then there goes everything you have. Like Instagram crashed for those few hours that day. Even with Tiktok, it's huge now, but is it gonna last? With Teachers Pay Teachers…if this platform closes down as well, you don't really have anything to settle on.

Something I have been trying to navigate around is also copyright, in terms of making sure you're not infringing on that. If I'm making a craft for a book, to make sure I'm not stealing the exact images of something, or that it's different enough so that it's under educational protection.

What’s driving your growth?

From what I'm seeing, I am growing fastest I would say on Instagram. I think a lot of it is through staying in line with current events.

I've curated, like recently with police brutality or gun shootings and stuff like that, collections that serve as resources for parents and teachers to help talk about these situations with kids. That has gotten a lot of attention and views on those kinds of posts.

Or even current events like Valentine's Day coming up, and posting according to what’s going on and what people are in need of.

A big thing recently is social-emotional learning, so any kind of post in regards to how kids can deal with anger or even mental health has been big. Again, finding those things that people really need help on or want to learn more about or are helpful to their own kids has been helping with that.

Going forward, these Operating Stack walkthroughs and insights will only be available in full to Superlogic subscribers. We have awesome creators across YouTube, LinkedIn, podcasting, OnlyFans, and more coming up, with a new creator every week, so don’t miss these insights - subscribe before March 31st for two free weeks!

My mission is to liberate millions of people from dependence on wage-slavery by enabling them to benefit from the emergence of the Creator Economy. I believe that the more successful both Creators and the companies that serve //Creators are, the better off humankind will be.

Thanks for reading!