Keep your content balanced. If you run a commercial blog, then your audience should respond positively to advertising posts, but remember that your blog should be 80% engaging and useful content, and 20% advertising. Of course, a lot depends on the platform, and the topic, but if you have 1–2 posts or sets of stories per day, then it is optimal to “sell directly” and post ads 2–3 times per week, and do not forget that you need to be super careful about choosing an advertiser!

We often use the term “Influencers” to describe people with significant social media followings on platforms like Instagram, Twitter TikTok, Youtube, Linkedin and Facebook. Influencers have become today’s media titans, sought after for everything from product placements to timely trends. What’s the difference between influence and impact? Fans and followers? Sizzle versus staying power?

In this interview series, called, “How To Cultivate Community In A Click to Connect World” we are talking to influencers about how they define success and what we all need to discover about the true nature of influence. As a part of this series I had the pleasure of interviewing Ksana Liapkova.

Ksana is an Admitad ConvertSocial CEO that has been working in affiliate marketing and content monetization for over 7 years, helping major brands launch their own solutions on travel services’ metasearch. Ksana has a profound expertise in the blogging industry, marketing as well as extensive knowledge of affiliate marketing from the point of view of both brands and audience holders. She can speak on bloggers early stages in the career, monetization and popularization of one’s blog.

Thank you for making time to visit with us! Our readers would love to get to know you a bit better. How did you discover your career path and what got you to where you are today?

Thanks for inviting me! I’ve been working in affiliate marketing and content monetization for over seven years now. When bloggers became a bigger part of our daily picture, I tended to work more with them. By 2015, I shifted to affiliate marketing and CPA (i.e., cost per action model in advertising). I’ve launched marketing activities and worked closely with hundreds of bloggers and major brands in multiple countries, from the United States to Thailand. My experience led me to Admitad and the Admitad ConvertSocial platform, which I now lead.

I understand bloggers’ needs and have profound expertise in the CPA market. I know how this system works from the inside. Therefore, I understand how as a product should move and develop, with an emphasis on bloggers.

It’s cool to find an activity in life that makes you happy, while also benefitting others. I can see a product’s potential and understand how to further improve that product for bloggers so that it will be a win-win situation for the company and a large volume of influencers.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned along the way that influences operate now?

Influencer culture has been changing drastically. It’s important to constantly keep up with it and improve your content and formats on the go. The best approach is to make your first action plan and keep all the steps as simple as possible to see how relevant your ideas are to the audience.

It’s also crucial to constantly study the needs of your customers, rather than basing your operations on your gut feeling. I rely on this funnel: identify a trend, create a feature, test the feature, analyze the result and draw a conclusion.

These things are simple, but bloggers often forget about them.

Most importantly, you always need to evaluate your work. If you don’t analyze the effectiveness of the money that you have spent, then it is easy to stray from your initial goal.

We’re all searching for some good news. How to use platforms to make a positive social impact?

Nowadays, bloggers tend to draw attention to social initiatives, such as Selena Gomez underlining the importance of mental health, or Leonardo DiCaprio’s initiatives to save nature. Positive social impact can be realized by promoting the NGOs and their work. However, you must ensure that it resonates with you.

The easiest way to make a positive social impact is to share truthful information about yourself and the products you advertise. It’s crucial to be yourself so that your audience will support you for who you are — a real person with challenges and difficulties. This will help your audience gain confidence, thereby resulting in a stronger community.

Many of our readers are influencers as well. Others have tried and have yet to succeed. What words of advice would you offer to aspiring influencers, knowing what you know now?

My #1 Tip: Choose the topic of your expertise. Don’t rush into popular niches with no particular interest because you can quickly burn out and become disappointed, and your audience will instantly feel it. Content-creation is a full-time job, without days off or vacations. It’s important to be inspired and energized by what you are doing.

Admitad ConvertSocial’s stats show that niche bloggers who focused on advertising just one category of products doubled their profits in 2021, and those who tried to simultaneously offer products from 2–3 categories increased their income by only 20%.

It’s also crucial to keep an eye on your competitors. Keep yourself updated on various tactics and content formats. Analyze errors beforehand, without risking your budget and audience loyalty. Additionally, it is easier to outline your uniqueness if you know what your competitors are doing. Sometimes, it’s even useful to become friends with competing bloggers so that you can collaborate and share your audience.

Get your audience accustomed to advertising links, starting with the first content that you offer. It will be much easier to set the rules of the game from the very beginning and highlight that your blog will come with commercial posts. There is no need to wait for the moment when there will be enough subscribers to start advertising. Educate your subscribers on how to work with referral links and tell them that by buying promotional products or using promo codes, they can save money. These are fair practices, and the fastest way to win over your audience.

To get started with CPA, choose a small pool of your favorite brands. This will help you give a detailed review of the product/service and reveal all the pros and cons. Give your honest assessment of the brand, then gradually expand your list of advertisers, and constantly monitor the statistics. This is 360-degree work. It’s important not only to make a post and count your likes but to understand the responses you get, and how much your audience likes it, in terms of clicks and sales.

Success is often a matter of perspective. I’ve always resonated with Henry David Thoreau’s quote, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” How do you see success — or define success — for yourself now?

Remember that what you look at and what you see matter! Work is one big mechanism, in which everyone does an important job. It’s like a puzzle and looking at the current state of affairs is of the utmost importance, as you can use it to set your team’s pace and direction. Every day, I see success — even in the smallest things! If our product remains useful to the audience, then it means the whole team succeeded.

Success is also the courage to implement ideas — even those that will not “shoot” in the end. Remember, a mistake brings us closer to our goal overall.

What are your strategies to make room for who and what matters most?

I value my family and friends more than anything else. Next comes work and responsibility, and finally interests and hobbies (e.g., sports and traveling), all of which are equally important to me. I’ve learned not to separate but to combine everything that brings me pleasure in life. For me, this balance is quite simple.

At work, we also have a large international team, and everyone works remotely in different time zones. I am a supporter of this approach. If you work more productively at home, then why not do it all the time? The most important thing is the results that you bring to the company and the team.

How do you reduce or mitigate stress?

I consider myself to be a stress-resistant person. When stressful situations occur, I try to think of all the actions I can take to change the outcome or give myself time to develop and implement an action plan.

Additionally, in stressful situations, I can quickly produce many routes and options to adapt quickly and remain flexible.

Finally, doing yoga and physical activities in my spare time also contributes to lowering my stress.

I’m going to try a few of your tips, and I’m hopeful our readers will, too. Now it’s time for the big reveal — the moment our readers have been anticipating. What are your “five strategies to cultivate a large & engaged social media community?’ Please share a story or example for each.

The following are my strategies to build and engage my social-media community:

  1. Defeat the “impostor syndrome.” Eventually, every blogger starts to ask themselves, “Am I enough of an expert to recommend something to a subscriber? Do I think this advertised product/service is worth the money?” Don’t question yourself! If you are just starting out, then give yourself some time to see the results and simply check your stats. For example, when you are connected to the CPA, it helps to analyze your orders, commissions, and conversions, or vice versa; conduct an analysis and find any bottlenecks that you need to refine and improve.
  2. Keep your content balanced. If you run a commercial blog, then your audience should respond positively to advertising posts, but remember that your blog should be 80% engaging and useful content, and 20% advertising. Of course, a lot depends on the platform, and the topic, but if you have 1–2 posts or sets of stories per day, then it is optimal to “sell directly” and post ads 2–3 times per week, and do not forget that you need to be super careful about choosing an advertiser!
  3. Expand to several social networks. First, there is an emerging trend of new social networks, and the extinction of old ones. Bloggers should think about their audience and on which platform it will be best for their subscribers to follow them. Additionally, in terms of monetization, it is necessary to test different platforms and compare what gives you the highest conversion rate. Thus, it is possible to make slight diversifications and aim to reach and gain new subscribers on one platform, while reserving a second platform for monetization, loyalty, and subscriber retention.
  4. Be yourself and do not try to fit the advertiser’s brief. They aim to sell the product or get coverage, while your goal is to maintain a loyal relationship with subscribers and earn money. Some affiliate services (e.g., Admitad ConvertSocial) help bloggers remain independent and decide for themselves what, how, where, and when to advertise. When interacting with advertisers on a fixed payment scale, there is always a chance that they may not meet the customer’s expectations, thereby leading to negative reviews. In this case, it is the blogger’s responsibility to create a post based on the brief and sell it to their audience. Sometimes, this means risking their loyalty. At the same time, there is a huge list of things that can push users away from buying (e.g., delivery terms, price, overall site UX), and this is the advertiser’s responsibility. If something goes wrong, then the blogger may not receive another advertising order from the brand, or the subscribers may blame them for advising something that is already sold out. In such cases, our platform acts like insurance; you can post links to the product across several different stores at once — thereby giving your subscribers a choice — and then you can control the whole process, from like to sale.
  5. Be open and honest and constantly interact with your audience. Embed polls in stories and include video reactions. The more you immerse your subscribers in your virtual world, the more involved they will feel in your life, thereby leading to the opportunity for your subscribers to influence and stay in contact with you. These simple human concepts are what audience interaction is built upon. It is important to understand who your subscriber is and to communicate with them as you would with a friend or neighbor. Do not neglect your subscribers. Pay attention to engaging content and constantly produce new features (e.g., highlights, weekly digests, etc.).

What do you recommend doing to create a greater sense of connection and community among the fans?

The first rule is to test anything you’re going to advertise yourself. Even better — test a few different products in one niche and give an honest review on each one. This way, you’ll build a trustworthy relationship with your audience.

It’s important to communicate with the audience as much as possible through polls, reactions, comments, etc., and of course, tell your followers more about yourself, which will allow you to attract an audience.

If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Currently, Admitad ConvertSocial is focused on doing the most good for the most amount of people. We help bloggers grow by taking the most difficult and time-consuming work from them, such as finding relevant and reliable advertisers and performing all the integration steps. We spare our bloggers their most valuable asset — time — thereby allowing them to focus only on content creation.

This is crucial because bloggers influence their subscribers — potentially, millions of people — and it is important for them to create quality, well-researched, and relevant content to build trust and confidence with their audience, so they can grow alongside them.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He, she or they might just see this. 🙂

I hope Elon Musk reads this, as I’d be thrilled to discuss the future of social-media monetization on Mars with him! Even though I can’t say I am anyone’s “fan,” I find Elon to be a very inspiring figure.

What is the best way for our readers to further follow your work online?

I am a big LinkedIn user; I post on a regular basis, and that’s the best place to find me.

Thank you for these thought provoking insights. Here’s to your continued success!