July 8, 2021
We are chatting with fellow podcaster Maria Failla. Maria is a “Plant Killer Turned Plant Lady” on a mission to help everyone successfully care for plants and make the world a kinder and greener place. After learning to care for plants successfully and experiencing the exponential joy caring for plants brought to her life, she founded the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast to learn alongside her listeners as she interviews experts in all aspects of plant care.
For any of our listeners who might be like “Okay cool… Love plants. Love her… but why are we talking about plants on a business podcast?” We wanted to bring Maria on the show today because her story is FASCINATING and is SO relatable to anyone who has a hobby they love, that they wanna turn into a side hustle or monetize something they’re passionate about.
In today’s episode, we chat with Maria all about her journey from a plant killer to plant lady, how she started her podcast, the nitty-gritty behind what we need to start a podcast, how to monetize and grow your show organically, how to get advertisers for your show, and SO much more. And if you’re a fellow plant lover but also notorious plant killer (like us oops) stay tuned for the end cause we do a Plant 101 corner with Maria and she gives some killer advice on how to keep plants alive.
So whether you’re a plant lover and wanna learn more about how to care for plants, a budding entrepreneur who wants to know how to creatively turn a passion of yours into a stream of revenue, OR you’re a person who wants to start a podcast one day and doesn’t know where to start Maria is your lady.
It is Maria’s mission to help everyone successfully care for plants and cultivate more joy in their lives. She does this through her podcast, the Bloom and Grow Radio Podcast. On the Bloom and Grow Radio podcast, she is a novice who learns alongside her listeners as she interviews experts on every aspect of plant care you could ever imagine. They have episodes that are watering 101 basics and then have ones that are the soil of science and what soil is made up of.
What made her get into this was being an epic plant killer for her entire life. Her career beforehand as a professional performer where she spent the first half of her professional career touring the country performing on Broadway. Living a very nomadic lifestyle, plants were never on her radar because she was never in one home long enough to keep one alive.
After killing her 20th plant she gave up and decided to stick with cut flowers and call it quits. Things changed when she moved in with her boyfriend and they had this little balcony with perfect southern light. Coming from a long ling of Italian gardeners, Maria thought she would give it another go. The difference with this time was she wanted to educate herself on how plants thrive and what she could do to be set up for success.
Not only did their home look really beautiful but back then Maria was your classic millennial and lived and died by her phone. Her alarm was on her phone, she would wake up in the morning and start scrolling Instagram, but when they started having the garden she would leave her phone and take her coffee and have it on this tiny balcony with her plants. Taking a moment of disconnect from screens and have a moment with her plants.
It was in these beautiful moments of stillness where maria was able to reconnect with herself. She was so lit up about it, she couldn’t stop talking about her plants with all her friends, and none of her friends wanted to listen to me. At the time being a big podcast listener, and no podcast was talking about plant care specifically, she decided to make one herself. Thinking it would be a ten-episode passion project, has now taken off as her career.
If you get out of your way your path can unfold and every chapter of your life serves your next chapter. At that moment you might not see it or get it, but if you trust it, it will make sense to you in a few years.
Maria has all these skills as a performer and when she first started the podcast she had a lot of fear around people saying plants have nothing to do with performing. Saying things such as:
Why did you care so much about house plants?
You’re only supposed to focus on one passion.
For her, there was this intuitive whisper that kept telling her to keep going. She followed it and now is doing national TV spots about plants and have an international audience with thousands of people around the world where she uses her voice on her podcast. Now she can see her training as a performer in this other passion of hers.
When she started the podcast, she could never have imagined that it would be what it is today. Thinking that it would nice if it could cover her plant spending habits, maybe get some free plants or grow lights, but that was it. Never seeing herself transitioning out of performing to a full-time plant lady because four years ago that was even a thing.
In the journey of entrepreneurship with this podcast, like any entrepreneur, there are extreme highs and extreme lows. It can be a painful transition from a passion project to a monetized thing. For the first six to eight months Maria was paying for it fully out of pocket. Getting to a point where if she wanted to keep going, she needed to break even. First setting small goals, to begin with, is easier to obtain than trying to go from one month to the next and making $10,000.
What served me back then still serves people now.
You have to have such a clear vision of who you want to serve and how you want to serve them. Back when Maria started she was nervous that she wasn’t the expert and was going to be interviewing experts and have this imposter syndrome. What helped was that she was learning alongside her listeners, which resonates with people.
Before launching her show, Maria wrote down a five-page document of her two ideal listeners for Bloom and Grow Radio. She knew how much money they made, how many plants they had, what their wins were, what Instagram accounts they followed. She broke down exactly who she was making the show for. Every time there was a question of where she should take Bloom & Grow Radio, she went back to what would her avatars need, what would they want, how would it help them.
Podcasters get absorbed with what they want to do, but when you are starting a podcast know who you are serving and design your content around that.
First borrowing her friends’ microphone for her first 20 episodes on the podcast, then buying her inexpensive microphone and using Garage Band to edit. Then finding a podcast host, a website to direct people to from your podcast, and start your email list early. Your podcast kit doesn’t need to be expensive.
It’s not about the fancy equipment, you need to make great content and make great conversations to attract an audience.
Still to this day, Maria has not spent a dime on paid ads. This year she is hiring someone to teach her how to market on Instagram and Facebook.
When she started she knew that Instagram was going to be the most helpful free marketing tool that she could ever use and harness. Buying a book on Instagram to figure out how to post. Instagram was the way that she grew the most and connected with her plant community. From there she would then shuffle them to her podcast.
The single biggest thing is having guests on your show that are excited about your show and promote it. Maria was very fortunate that in her early days was able to secure some awesome guests and was super generous with promoting and helping her grow it.
When you have guests on your show, make sure that promotional assets are so stupidly easy for them to promote. Not only send them an email but slide into their DMs and DM them all of the photos. If you make it super easy for them to do, they will be more likely to do it.
When Maria started her podcast there wasn’t a home and garden space and not a lot of other podcasts in that space, so she created packages out of nothing.
The way that she monetized her show, the first step was the Amazon affiliate storefront. Taking Pat Flynn’s marketing class and got the idea to build out an affiliate program. Reaching out to products that she already loved and used. Companies that maybe didn’t even have affiliate programs and would pitch them on allowing her to be their affiliate and came up with structures for that. Once she started selling their products and proved that she was a good partnership, she would then transition them over into sponsorship agreements. Agreements would include how many podcast ads, Instagram posts, etc. Making packages that allowed sponsors to reach as much as their audience across several different platforms.
Find products that you know your audience needs because you need them.
You have to start from somewhere and every plant death is a place for you to learn and grow. Same with entrepreneurship.
It’s really about understanding your light. Not all plants thrive under the same light conditions. Some are lower light tolerant, some need high light. Like succulents, they need 6-8 hours of direct light. Understanding your light environment and then picking your plants based on that is a huge way to set yourself up for success.
People don’t pick the right plants for their lifestyle. If you are an entrepreneur who stays at home you need to choose a plant that isn’t going to be afraid of overwatering. A succulent would be a terrible plant for that. But a fern or a prayer plant or orchid would be amazing.
Then some people have small kids at home and out all the time, they need a succulent or a cactus or a ZZ plant. That can go a couple of weeks without water. Pick your plants based on your lifestyle.
Maria has a plant parent personality quiz that pairs you with a plant that is perfect for your life. It’s all about choosing stuff that works for you and then enjoying it. Caring for plants should be fun and killing them gives a lot of shame. You have to understand how to water and what light you have and then it’s all about picking the plants that are right for your lifestyle and ones that you gravitate towards.
Milk Street: www.milkstreetbaby.com
For 10% off MilkStreet use code “heartandhustle”
Anyword is free to try, and our friends there have also given our Heart fam 30% off of your first 3 months!
If you want to connect with us and other listeners in the Heart and Hustle community join our Facebook group here.
WASSUP FRIENDS. We’re Evie + Lindsey, co-founders of this wild partayyy called The Heart University. Our goal is to empower entrepreneurs to kick freaking BUTT in their businesses, dive down into the heart of their why and how, and serve you with all possible tools you’ll need to up-level your business game and CRUSH those goals of yours.
Whether you’re coming to an in-person workshop, joining our online course, or soaking up all the strategies via this blog or our podcast, we’re STOKED you’re here + can’t wait to see you out there kicking butt.
GET OUR 'TOP 5 APPS WE USE FOR INSTA
GRAB OUR FREE GUIDE BELOW ON THE TOP 5 APPS WE USE IN CONJUNCTION WITH INSTAGRAM TO UP LEVEL OUR INSTA GAME! TRUST US, YOU'LL BE A PRO IN NO TIME!
ARE YOU RIDING FRONT SEAT ON THE INSTAGRAM STRUGGLE BUS LATELY?