It’s been a bit since we’ve talked to an influencer about their journey, their approach to monetization and their advice for brands and other influencers on how to do this influence thing. Today, we’re going to spend some time with Heather Watson

She’s the person behind Her Kentucky. Yeah, I asked Heather to come on the show because she’s in my neck of the woods as we say around here, so she’s top of mind. We’ve collaborated a couple of times for some brands here in bluegrass … heck, it turns out after a conversation or two, we realized we crossed paths back in high school, even.

But there’s a whole lot of relevance for influencers and brands everywhere in this conversation. Heather’s audience is, shall I say, middle-aged and older women. Her primary influence mechanism is a blog and longer-form writing, not TikTok videos or Instagram stories. Yes, she’s influential and active on the social channels that are relevant to that audience — Facebook and Instagram. But the wisdom of knowing your audience and what engages them is something she gives sound advice about.

Heather also brings the perspective of a geographic influence to the table. For those of you who run or work with local or regional businesses, someone with a bazillion followers on Instagram isn’t going to do you a lot of good. You have to find the Heather Watsons in your world to reach a higher percentage of a relevant audience to make influence marketing work smarter for you.

It was quite interesting to chat with Heather about the nuances of being a local and regional influencer, the story of HerKentucky’s evolution and how she’s monetized her content over the years. Pay close attention to the brands she mentions for partnerships, especially you influencers out there. She’s very smartly gone after very specific companies that her audience would find appealing, and who want to reach that older, discretionary income-friendly female consumer.

This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Julius.

If you’ve read my book, you know I’ve depended on Julius for influencer discovery and campaign management for some time now. When I’m looking for the right influencer for my clients, Julius allows me to search across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs and more. When I click into an influencer’s profile, I can see their audience demographics, what other networks they have reach through and quickly scan their recent posts to decide if they’re a right influencer for my brand. All the pieces of campaign management are there, too. Julius allows you to reach out, document contracts, share and approve influencer content and, of course, measure the ROI of each campaign, influencer or post. You owe it to your brand or agency to do a demo of Julius today. Go to jason.online/julius and request one. That’s jason.online/julius.

Winfluence Transcript – Heather Watson – Her Kentucky

Jason Falls
Hello again friends thanks for listening to Winfluence – The influence Marketing Podcast. It’s been a bit since we’ve talked to an influencer about their journey, their approach to monetization and their advice for brands and other influencers on how to do this influence thing. today. We’re going to spend some time with Heather Watson. She’s the person behind Her Kentucky. Yeah, I asked Heather to come on the show because she’s in my neck of the woods we say around here, so she’s top of mind. We’ve collaborated a couple of times for some brands here in the bluegrass. Heck, it turns out after a conversation or two, we realized we crossed paths back in high school even but there’s a whole lot of relevance for influencers and brands everywhere in this conversation.

Jason Falls
Heather’s audience is, shall I say middle aged and older women. Her primary influence mechanism is a blog and longer form writing, not TikTok videos or Instagram stories. Yes, she’s influential and active on the social channels that are relevant to that audience, Facebook and Instagram. But the wisdom of knowing your audience and what engages them is something she gives sound advice about. Heather also brings the perspective of geographic influence to the table. For those of you who run or work with local or regional businesses, someone with a bazillion followers on Instagram isn’t going to do you a lot of good. You have to find the Heather Watson‘s in your world to reach a higher percentage of a relevant audience to make influence marketing work smarter for you.

Jason Falls
It was quite interesting to chat with Heather about the nuances of being a local and regional influencer, the story of her Kentucky’s evolution and how she’s monetized her content over the years. Pay close attention to the brands she mentions for partnerships especially you influencers out there. She has very smartly gone after very specific companies that her audience would find appealing. And companies who want to reach that older discretionary income friendly female consumer.

Jason Falls
This episode of Winfluence, the podcast, is sponsored by Julius. If you’ve read my book, you know I’ve depended on Julius for influencer discovery and campaign management for some time now. When I’m looking for the right influencer for my clients, Julius allows me to search across Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, Twitter, Pinterest, Blogs and more. When I click into an influencer’s profile, I can see their audience demographics, what other networks they have reach through and quickly scan their recent posts to decide if they’re a right influencer for my brand. All the pieces of campaign management are there, too. Julius allows you to reach out, document contracts, share and approve influencer content and, of course, measure the ROI of each campaign, influencer or post. You owe it to your brand or agency to do a demo of Julius today. Go to jason.online/julius and request one. That’s jason.online/julius.

Jason Falls
Getting to know influence for an older demographic and on a regional scale. Heather Watson of Her Kentucky is next on influence.

Jason Falls
So first off, Heather I have to ask we crossed paths in high school did we not?

Heather Watson
At that’s what I think yes. And Alison her high school class in 93.

Jason Falls
Yeah, I think we were the we butted up against each other in some an academic team competition once upon a time and and as some people would say, I haven’t changed much I’m still a loud mouth with a tendency to stick his foot in it but I’d like to think at least channel it better these days. So I hope you don’t remember me is an obnoxious prick but I probably

Heather Watson
I don’t and I hope you don’t remember me as a know-it-all. But I still kind of am.

Jason Falls
Well, we were on the Academic Team. So everybody in the room were know-it-alls that so we were hanging out with so.

Heather Watson
Exactly.

Jason Falls
So Her Kentucky tell me how your platform started. Because that’s I think your jumping off point at least being categorized as an influencer. So how did it all start?

Heather Watson
So her Kentucky actually celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. And when I started it, it was when I started the blog. Things were very different. There was barely Instagram in 2011. There was there was Facebook, but it was Not the polished product we know now. And Twitter was still a place for people to ramble. So when I started her Kentucky, it was truly a blog, you know. And the earliest iteration was actually a six writer’s block. And it was very different than what it looks like. Now her Kentucky was originally six women from across the state of Kentucky talking about their experiences I had a woman who has is actually now a very successful podcaster. But at the time, she had just moved back from a career in politics in DC, because she wanted her son to be a Kentucky and so you know, she moved back to her hometown, I had another woman who was a Kentucky expat living in Memphis. And then some folks who were local, Emily, whoa, I’m sure you know, everybody in the Lexington market and as Emily, and we would sort of work around a topic and all give our own takes on it, whether it was what home means or what school means. It was much more essay driven. You know, we were at that time using very small photographs, just what blogs look like 10 or 15 years ago. And because I had a group of women who were very accomplished, very talented, and who were all doing their own social media things, they sort of grew out of the platform, but I was the one who conceived it, I was the one who, you know, purchase the domain, push the editorial calendar, I was working as the editor of it, and I decided to keep it up. But um, and it’s been interesting because I’ve lived in Lexington while this blog was written. I lived in Louisville now for eight years now actually was in my hometown in Eastern Kentucky for a while we had some family illness. So obviously, that’s given me a different perspective as I’ve jumped around the state, but it’s always been about Kentucky women and their stories, both my experiences, things I attend thing, you know, traditions, they’re important to me. But I very much feel like one of my callings is telling the story of Kentucky women. So I’d love to do interviews, I love to talk about what women in Kentucky are doing, what their perspective is. And in a way, I’m the world’s worst influencer, because I never stick to a topic. I can never say, Hey, this is just about food. This is just about you know, just about good what you wear to the derby. This is just about politics. So I think that if influencer had been a thing, when I started her Kentucky, I certainly would have narrowed the field down more before I started the site, but I’m actually very happy with how it’s evolved, you know? Well, and

Jason Falls
I think you should be because I think that the it’s not just about the topic. I mean, I think of you as an influencer, because you have a very specific geographic demographic, not just a topical geographic demographic. So I mean, there, there’s just there’s different types of influencers. And yours is very much focused on, you know, an older female in Kentucky, which is a highly relevant audience to a lot of brands.

Heather Watson
Absolutely. And for me, I always look at this as, because I do have a very specific demographic, over 80%, female, educated 35 to 50. I very much look at this, as I’m talking to my girlfriends. And maybe some days, I’m fired up about something that’s happened politically. And maybe some days I want to talk about a necklace. And that’s very much how women talk to each other. That’s how you communicate with your friends. And I never want to feel like I just trying to sell you something. Or I’m trying to live a lifestyle that isn’t mine. You know, we’ve way overused that word authentic. But that is what I am pushing for.

Jason Falls
Now. I’m curious if you would categorize yourself to maybe a potential advertiser or someone who wants to partner with you, or just someone who asks what you do. I’m curious if you would classify yourself as an influencer? Or if you would classify yourself as a writer, or would you classify what you do as a blog, or maybe would you classify what you’re doing is building a media publication Because there’s a lot of different labels, they’re all sort of kind of related. But it changes the way I think people perceive you. So how do you qualify her Kentucky?

Heather Watson
You know, when I talk about myself, professionally, I certainly use all of those because I do some freelance writing as well. I’ve actually even done freelance editorial as well. So certainly, there are occasions when I do bill her Kentucky as sort of a media experience for Kentucky women, I always consider myself a writer, before I consider myself a blogger or an instagramer, or that awful word influencer. I feel like that is just something that sort of Incidentally, come along with the site. But first and foremost, I’m a rider and her Kentucky is about essays, book reviews, bourbon reviews, things that are, you have to think about a little bit.

Jason Falls
So for the aspiring content creators out there looking at the social media landscape these days, would you recommend if you were if if if someone were starting today? Or if you were starting today, would you recommend to yourself? Would you have a blog or a website or just build out social channels for content? Or maybe you put it differently? Again, if you could talk to a 20 year old version of yourself? Now? How would you recommend going about building something like what you have

Heather Watson
I, you know, I went to undergrad or to grad school in the 90s. I was in library science at UK. And at that point, we were all going to be.com millionaires. So even as a library and you had to build websites, you have to know HTML, you have to code. So it just that for myself always is hardwired, you have to have a website. But I do believe anytime you look at building your own site, that is where you’re putting your words, you’re not putting it on a platform that belongs to another corporate entity. You want control of your own IP, you want your site to be what reflects your brand. Even if it’s nothing more than you’re a fashion influencer. And you’re putting for more pictures of the same outfit on a website than you are on Instagram. You want your real estate to reflect your brand. And you want to get that URL, you want to build out something that’s an extension of your brand. And I tell everyone, even if you’re starting a company, anything you do, get secure your URL before you do anything else.

Jason Falls
Good advice. So her Kentucky is obviously you know, we touched on this a little bit, but I want to dive into it a little bit more. It’s obviously a regional publishing platform. People outside Kentucky aren’t likely interested unless they’re from Kentucky and have moved away. But I’m curious how that affects your approach to monetization because a social media influencers or even bloggers or media site owners without geographic limitation, have a larger pool of potential audience members and customers to choose from B. There are probably influencers or content creators out there listening who maybe haven’t considered how geography affects that part of their business, and see understanding the monetization differences for her Kentucky. My help brand and agency folks out there understand better how to approach publishers like you so does your approach to making money change because of the limitations in the audience footprint?

Heather Watson
It does. And obviously Louisville is my biggest demographic audience, followed by Lexington and some of the smaller Kentucky cities are in there as well. I do have statistically significant readership in Nashville. But that’s a lot of I have friends in Nashville, I used to live there. I visit there frequently. So I just I ride about trips to Nashville, which is obviously an easy day trip from anywhere in Kentucky. But certainly it if you think about the size of the state and you think about the statistics of how many followers a an influencer is going to have. Obviously, I am limited to somewhere in the nano influencer world, which is a good thing. In a lot of ways because it does give me specificity of I’m going to talk about volare, rather than McDonald’s. You know, I am able to really grill down to local restaurants. It can be a challenge, obviously it’s a challenge. When you’re pitching to the sponsor post applications through, you know, the conglomerated sites of, Hey, we have this up to bat for certain influencers. Because obviously, I have the word Kentucky in my name in my handles, it automatically does limit. It has also presented me with a lot of opportunities where I am able to go to brands and say, I am the only influencer who can do this. So, for example, I was working with a company that makes those, you know, sort of crazy embroidered pants that have the UK on them … that blue and white, crazy pants for football games. And I was able to approach them and say, hey, my husband and I are going to the bowl game. We have good seats. And I’m almost positive, I’m the only influencer who can make this pitch to you. So that has been neat. Just being able to, you know, I’m able to say to say Vineyard Vines when they do their Kentucky Derby selection, hey, I am able to you I can show them how I drive traffic to their site every year through my affiliate links. And I am one of only a handful of people in the entire country who are really pitching Kentucky Derby t-shirt content. So it is very specific. I do feel like at times, some of the bigger campaigns I may miss out on being able to apply for a pitch to a brand because I am kind of limited geographically. But it also does give me some really great opportunities to partner in a way that no one else can. When you combine my older wealthier demographic with a brand that’s going to be very specific, you know, if they have a regional twist is is a very easy partnership. So that it works well. Sometimes it does take more work.

Jason Falls
So similarly, you mentioned you know your older wealthier demographic, your demographic isn’t 20 somethings who just thumb scroll Instagram. So what does that more mature demographic mean in terms of how you partner with brands or even how brands should approach you?

Heather Watson
You know, I think it was very interesting to me, I never wanted to be a quote unquote fashion influencer. But along the way, I did find that my readers were saying, Hey, where did you get that top? Or I was able to work with certain brands on Hey, we’re having a Kentucky Derby tie-in will you host? And because of that, I’ve really been able to see through rewardstyle through driving in person sales at events, how my readership shops, and I certainly don’t have the, as you say, the 20 somethings scrolling through Instagram, looking for cheap, fast fashion that will disintegrate in two washes. I’m able to pitch to brands that actually my readership would rather pay full price at a charity based event that’s going to give 15 or 20% to charity rather than I’m giving them a discount for shopping the event. My readership loves the idea that we’re tying into charities that were actually doing something good. So they’re able to say hey, here’s this, you know, whatever dress necklace, whatever the the pieces that I’ve had my eye on anyway, it’s this this kind of a splurge, but here’s a good excuse to buy it. And that’s certainly not how a younger demog raphic would shop. You know, it’s not people getting thing to wear to a bar.

Jason Falls
Right let’s talk a little bit about that charitable bend that you have. I know that you you, you know, kind of underline that force a little bit. But I want to know more about how because I think you’ve filled that out to me as kind of a pillar of what your content sort of revolves around. So tell me more about the charitable bend that her Kentucky has and how that comes to life.

Heather Watson
I’m incredibly proud of the charitable giving that we’ve been able to work with using her Kentucky over several years, I’ve had a partnership with the Kentucky Ohio Indiana Make A Wish I have been able to attend their gala, I’ve been able to go to their family only make a wish day at Keeneland and to give my readers a behind the scenes look at this is how Make a wish is effectuating change in the life of kids. Another thing that we’ve been able to do with her Kentucky is while there was a Dress for Success chapter in Lexington, they’ve unfortunately recently closed. But we were able to I was able to work with the board of Make-a- … pardon me, Dress for Success in Lexington. And in the 2018-19 fiscal year we were able to raise enough money through Draper Jane’s gift back event to fund one month’s rent out of 12. Just from doing the charitable gift bags, I mean, this is it was over $1,200 in raising money at six sales events. We work with Kendra Scott, we work with Draper James, I chose a charity in Lexington and we were able to you know, I really identified here’s how you get the word out to friends and family. Here’s how you mobilize the board of a charity. You get people on board, you use my platform to spread the word to my follower count, and really effectuate change, I think it’s very easy to put a meme or a banner that says hey, go donate to this charity and never follow up on it. But I’ve actually really met for myself, I feel that I’ve always been in women’s clubs that have charitable arms, you know, the younger Women’s Club global. I’ve been in three Junior leagues. I’ve always focused on direct service and give backs. And I think that I want her Kentucky I want my verticals to be the things that women like me the things that my readers are going to say this is what’s important in my life. And obviously, I think it’s so important to do what you can whether it’s donate money, donate your time, donate product to charity. And I’ve had just a great response with readers saying, Hey, I didn’t know this was out there. I didn’t know I could take my clothes to dress for success, or I didn’t know I could donate in this way. A few years ago, this was a neat project we did. My birthday is in the middle of January. And it’s always obviously super cold in Kentucky in January. And every year I put on her Kentucky Hey, would you please. It’s right after Christmas, you’re bored, clean out your coat closets and take a couple of coats to charity that if you were going to send me a birthday card, if you’re going to text me that’s what I want you to do instead. And a couple of years ago, I was able to work with Louisville Stoneware to do a birthday party for myself where I hosted an event at Stoneware. But we also did a coat drive. So I really do think it’s an interesting vertical. And anytime I hear people say that influencers, bloggers instagramers are so vapid, they only care about themselves. So they only care about their swipe ups. I’m able to say hey, look at what her Kentucky has done, we get the lights on for one month that dress her success. And it really is a great way to connect with my readers and followers and be able to say hey, here’s something they are very interested in as well. Here’s something very easy, very small that you can do to help someone and then makes us all feel better. And it’s just it’s worked really well with my demographic.

Jason Falls
Very nice. I would I would hope that the younger influencers aspiring influencers out there who might be listening to this, you know sort of take that as an idea for the future of you know, building in you know, a charitable you know arm for what you do because you know if you’ve got that influence and you’ve got that audience, why not put some of it? If not all of it to good use but Heather I hear that you are working on a book about the Kentucky women of bourbon? Do tell!

Heather Watson
You know, the book got put on hold. I had a hand in fury. I had COVID it’s been a rough year but I’m actually getting back to it and it is truly a is a group of interviews about women in the bourbon industry. And as I said earlier, I really do believe that I one of the things I am here to do is tell people tukey women’s stories. And it is just been fascinating to go in and watch people like Elizabeth McCall at Woodford or Jackie Zycan at Old Forester do their job and talk to them about how they have different opportunities, different experiences, because they are women in a very male dominated industry. I also got to do probably the coolest thing in my writing career, which was I had touched base with Maker’s Mark and I got to interview Bill Samuels Jr. But of course, if anybody who’s ever met Bill Samuels, Jr, knows that that’s not just a straightforward thing. I wasn’t going to be able to take my dictum I was not able to take my recorder because Mr. Samuels had me interviewing him while he was sitting in front of the dipping line in Loretto, and he was signing bottles for an ambassador event. So I could not record and hear his mad genius Bill Samuels, talking about his mama as fast as he could go. And I was having to write it down longhand on a on a legal pad. It was literally the coolest experience of my life. I it was literally like meeting a rock star if you’re a Kentuckian. But at the same time, it was it was an event to try to get at you. He’s saying all these amazing things. Every word coming out of his mouth is an absolute gem of wisdom. And, you know, I’ve read so much about his mother, Mrs. Samuels, who basically invented the bourbon marketing industry. And I’m trying to recreate what can I say about her? What can I What can I express from Bill’s interview? And I’m just praying that I don’t mess up any of his quotes. I’m praying that I get it all jotted down. And I think I did. But the book is something I’m coming back to this year. I had sort of a hiatus last year for some illness, but it’s it’s back on track.

Jason Falls
Well, that’s that’s good to hear. And I can’t I can’t wait to read it when it does come out because it sounds like a fantastic topic. And and I have it does not surprise me of your challenge there in interviewing bill. I had the you know, honor of working with him for a short time a few years back when he was still the CEO of the company. And I am most infamously known throughout the Maker’s Mark staff, as the person who introduced Mr. Samuels to a Blackberry back in the day. And the day after that I introduced him to the Blackberry, about seven of the staff members almost threatened to kill me because now he was emailing them in the middle of the night. So I brought him into the 21st century, and I’m very proud of that even though a couple of people hate me for it.

Heather Watson
That is a wonderful story. He is certainly a brilliant and one of a kind dude. That’s for sure.

Jason Falls
He definitely is Heather. Where can people find you online on all the channels and stuffs?

Heather Watson
they can find me on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is her Kentucky they can find me at www.herkentucky.com and they will never want to find me on TikTok.

Jason Falls
I love it. That’s probably

Heather Watson
I’m too old for that foolishness

Jason Falls
… that’s that’s true I feel the same way to be honest with you well it’s it’s awesome to have you on the show. And you know here’s to get together for a bourbon in person soon we live in the same town that shouldn’t be very hard now.

Heather Watson
Absolutely sounds good.

Transcribed by otter.ai

The Winfluence theme music is “One More Look” featuring Jacquire King and Stephan Sharp by The K Club found on Facebook Sound Collection.


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