Keys to Becoming an Instagram Influencer

It is no secret that influencer marketing has significantly grown over the past few years, and although there are many influencers out there, only a few manage to grow their platforms and successfully make a long-lasting impression.

So what is their secret for their success? 

We talked to an Instagram influencer, Kennedy Haffner, food blogger and content creator of @thehealthyhaff about what inspired the creation of her online platform and how she managed to grow it to over 60,000 Instagram followers.

Kennedy gives an insight into what being an influencer entails and how to build an authentic personal brand that will resonate with people.

She also shares special tips and productivity hacks that have helped her find a healthy balance in a field that requires her to make living by sharing her life online. 

Watch Kennedy as she shares the importance of authenticity in the influencer realm, what to expect when being part of the industry, and how to maintain a  healthy work-life balance.

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Full transcript

Ryan Dye (00:01):
Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of CoLab Inc, we welcome you to Webinar Wednesday where we talk with interesting personalities across a wide range of industries on their experience as entrepreneurs and business leaders. I’m Ryan Dye, Executive Director for CoLab and today we’ll have a conversation with Kennedy Haffner, food blogger and founder of The Healthy Haff, a healthy food and lifestyle blog and Instagram account. Based in Portland, Oregon, Kennedy started The Healthy Haff in college with the intention of sharing her health journey. Over time this developed into a platform to share about balance and promoting overall wellness through healthy and delicious food. During our webinar today, you’ll have a chance to ask Kennedy some questions about her experience developing an online business platform and strategies for maximizing the power of your site. My colleagues, Michael and Karla will be monitoring the chat feature. So if you have any questions or comments along the way, feel free to submit those in the chat. Kennedy, thanks so much for joining us for our Webinar Wednesday.

Kennedy Haffner (00:57):
Yeah, thank you for having me. It’s so great to be here.

Ryan Dye (01:00):
Totally. How are things going in Portland?

Kennedy Haffner (01:02):
All is well in Portland.

Ryan Dye (01:03):
That’s good to hear.

Kennedy Haffner (01:05):
As well as they can go right now.

Ryan Dye (01:07):
That’s great to hear.

Kennedy Haffner (01:08):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (01:09):
So just to jump in here, talk a little bit about your early college days experience and what got you thinking about, “Boy you know, I don’t know if I’m being as healthy as I should as a college student.” And it kind of inspired The Healthy Haff. And I understand that may have some connection to pancakes. So maybe you could fill us in on that story and what you were studying in college as well.

Kennedy Haffner (01:32):
Yeah, absolutely. So in college, I studied business. So I started out Business Administration and I attended Walla Walla University at the time that I founded The Healthy Haff. And during that time, I was very much living the typical college life of barely any sleep, way too much caffeine, not really caring about what I was eating. But I grew up in a family that really prioritized and cared about health. So I felt like I had some understanding of how my life could improve if I were to care about these things again. But it’s kind of contrary to a typical college experience to actually be somebody that stands up and says, “I actually really care about being healthy and prioritizing my health and wellness.” So during the time right before The Healthy Haff started, I kind of flipped that switch, I was on Instagram following these people that were sharing outwardly their lives and their experience with health and wellness. And for me, I was just simply curious.

Kennedy Haffner (02:34):
And so I started to order some of the things that they promoted, I was thinking all about just how I could be healthier, how I can be better in college, really just started to dig in and care about it. And during that time, I had some friends be like, “Why don’t you just start sharing this kind of stuff, you’re already involved in that community like a spectator? Why don’t you go in and start to actually use the platform to share your personal journey, because it’s kind of a little bit of a nice to be in college and to be healthy.” And I was like, “No, no, no, no, no, no, no. No, I will never do that, I’m embarrassed, I really don’t want to put myself out there like that I’ll just kind of keep doing my thing.”

Kennedy Haffner (03:17):
And so after a lot of encouragement, The Healthy Haff was born and started and I decided to put myself out there with again, a lot of encouragement at the time. Just simply too because I went to the small school that I was like, “Oh my goodness, everybody’s going to find out about this, how embarrassing will this be for me?” But I decided I really didn’t care. But with that being said, it really started as such a passion project, which is why I think that it has been able to transform into a business today.

Ryan Dye (03:49):
Sure.

Kennedy Haffner (03:50):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (03:50):
Yeah, that’s a great point. Yeah, because you definitely seem like a really shy, not an outgoing person. I can see how you’d just be freaked out, “I’m going to put myself out there.”

Kennedy Haffner (04:01):
Oh, my goodness!

Ryan Dye (04:05):
But-

Kennedy Haffner (04:06):
[inaudible 00:04:06] the opposite.

Ryan Dye (04:06):
Well, as I said, I understand that pancakes might be part of that, a love of pancakes maybe.

Kennedy Haffner (04:11):
Oh, there is a deep love of pancakes involved in all of this. And it’s actually funny because I think pancakes is kind of also what made me realize that I actually had a business behind this. And hear me out here because in the beginning, I was trying to find as I was gearing toward the end of my college days, I was trying to find what’s my next step, what will I be known for? Because as you move on from the niche that you were in, I no longer have that niche college student thing. And so I was like, “I need something. I need something that I do.” I need something that people will be like, “Oh, that’s the… This girl.” And so I started with pancakes just because I love pancakes. I always have it’s been my thing forever. Ask anybody in my family, I’m always like, “What do you want to eat for breakfast?” Pancakes. Boom. So as I started to leave college, I was like, “You know what? I’m going to start trying to also nudge my way into specific brands.” I wanted to put myself on their radar as well.

Kennedy Haffner (05:17):
And one of my favorite brands is Birch Benders, I love their pancake mixes. That’s who I’m currently partnered with, love them to death, love everybody that works there. But I knew that I needed something. And so pancake started to become my thing that I posted once a week. And then as I started to attend all of these different events and conferences, people would be like, “Oh yeah, you’re the pancake girl.” And I was like, “I guess it worked.”

Ryan Dye (05:43):
Yeah.

Kennedy Haffner (05:44):
But that’s my love for pancakes, though. Just naturally coming out, I guess.

Ryan Dye (05:49):
That’s good. Yeah, because I’ve seen some of your pictures and I’m like, “Oh, my word that looks so good. That is way more gourmet than the pancakes I make at home for…”

Kennedy Haffner (05:58):
I think I take pancakes to an extreme level sometimes. But yeah, there’re my weekly pancake stacks called Haff stacks. And it’s just-

Ryan Dye (06:08):
Perfect.

Kennedy Haffner (06:08):
It’s what I do. I love it.

Ryan Dye (06:10):
That’s excellent. That’s a great thing to hang your head on. I think that’s cool. So you develop @thehealthyhaff on Instagram, during this time I understand. Like you said, there was this connection to Birch Benders, was that like, you were trying to promote something or get sponsorship? What were the early days like as you were saying, “Okay, I’m just going to get this Instagram account and I’m going to start promoting all of this food related things.”

Kennedy Haffner (06:35):
Yeah. So I think that there’s a big misunderstanding when people decide to start an account. Because again, as I said before, this was simply just a passion thing for me, I was like, “I just want to share food, I don’t really think it’s going to go anywhere, I don’t really care if anything happens to this account. This is fun for the now, so let me put myself out there and start it.” And so once I actually took the jump to starting The Healthy Haff and committed to it, I just was like, “You know what? I’m going to do it, I’m going to start it.” But also, during this time, it was just very unique because I think that I had no expectations for it, which is why it turned out okay for me. Because oftentimes, when people are starting a platform, they instantly are like, “Why is this not taking off?” But they don’t give it enough time to actually do its work, do its thing, you can’t put yourself out there and then overnight, just expect to-

Ryan Dye (07:33):
Have huge numbers.

Kennedy Haffner (07:33):
Have a huge following or have brands coming and begging you to use their product. So this was all in the beginning, it was all just me sharing the things that I really, really loved. And it still is, but it’s just in a different capacity now. But it was me simply being like, “This is my favorite pancake mix, this is how I use it.” Or, “This is my favorite yogurt, this is how I use it.” There was no sponsorships, no partnerships, nothing. I was making zero dollars.

Ryan Dye (08:01):
It was just you sharing your experience.

Kennedy Haffner (08:01):
Yeah, it was just me sharing my experience and being like, “This is what I’m liking, this is what I’m enjoying.” But as you start doing that, and I think that’s where me, my roots and the authenticity of it in trying to understand what it takes to build a community because I do believe that there are different types of content creators out there. And it’s okay to be a different type of content creator as long as you own it. So I know that some people simply are in this just because they’re like, “I know that it’s good money, I have a platform now, I built this platform.” But honestly, you will not get very far in this if you go into it with just the idea of, “Oh, I just want to make money off of this.” Because… I’ll let you in on a little secret. I did not make any money off of this for the first year and a half, two years of doing it. And I still showed up every single day to do this without it ever making a return.

Kennedy Haffner (08:53):
So for me, I saw the longevity of it, whereas people get very frustrated in the beginning where it’s like, “I’m not making any money, why would I continue to do this?” Or, “Wait, I’m not growing.” But then again, you have to let the time and the community build together. And if you go into it as just as simple like, “I’m going to get on there, I’m going to have a huge following and make money.” You probably just won’t, because people will also see right through it and be like, “They have no interest in actually building this community and fostering interest.”

Ryan Dye (09:27):
I think that’s hard because a lot of times when we look at different personalities that have really built quite the platform and a career with an online presence and they’ll have these huge numbers, you’re just like, “Oh, my word, that’s incredible. That can’t be that hard, they’re just doing stupid videos or whatever it might be, I could do that.” If you don’t understand there’s a long runway before they got to what you’re looking at.

Kennedy Haffner (09:55):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (09:57):
Like my kids love Dude Perfect. IF you look at their first videos, there’s a bunch of guys docking around in college making trick shots. You think they hit a million views in the first-

Kennedy Haffner (10:08):
That’s exactly it. That’s exactly it. It is allowing yourself to truly just be the beginner and also just not put a lot of pressure on yourself for numbers and for performance because that’s when you start to build the passion, is right in the beginning, you’re really cultivating that smaller spot into your brand who you are. And it’s beautiful too, because you can start pivoting all of that and nobody’s so latched on to like your identity, is who you’ve put yourself out there as. And so as you’re starting, you’re kind of playing around with it-

Ryan Dye (10:40):
You may not be as defined yet.

Kennedy Haffner (10:42):
No, it’s not as defined. And of course not. But it’s also just like you have no experience and experience is the greatest teacher in anything that is I feel like an entrepreneurial venture. So-

Ryan Dye (10:52):
Well, I think a point that I’d take out of that, is be willing to enjoy that journey not knowing all of the connections of A to Z. Just roll with it, be willing to experiment, try new things. But I think at the core, be who you are and what you want to share. I would imagine in the early days as you’re posting things or sharing thoughts on this or that, you probably would have your friends give you some feedback, “Oh, man, I really liked that thing.” Just that initial organic feedback of people you probably already know, I would imagine it would be helpful for you to feel like, “I’ve got something here I can work with and I’m passionate about and I want to grow.”

Kennedy Haffner (11:39):
Yeah. Exactly that point is I had a lot of people at the time that were the first encouragers of The Healthy Haff. They were being like, “No, I think you actually have something.” Which I look back now and I was like either they’re lying to me or I just was so blind to what I could actually do. Because I scroll all the way back down to the first things that I posted or what I was doing at the time. And mind you, I also was a busy college student. I was in college running this for fun, also working a ton of different jobs.

Ryan Dye (12:08):
This wasn’t you full time job. All right.

Kennedy Haffner (12:09):
Oh, this was a fun thing I was doing. And so I remember vividly, I would take my classes, I would run back to my dorm, take pictures of some food that I could make, quickly post it and then leave to go to my next class. I gave myself 45 minutes a day to work on this little thing that was… If you look at it, it’s like, “Okay, why would anybody actually do this?” Because I’m not making money off of it, I’m in college already doing a million and one things. And so for me, that was like my… The fact that I couldn’t stop doing it because I committed myself to doing this, I wanted to give it a try, I saw some potential in it. That for me was exactly why I needed to continue. I was like, “Oh my goodness!” I had no idea that I could build what I have today back then. And so I did have some people that were encouragers of it, but then again too, I think that it’s ultimately your own commitment to yourself that pushes you at the end of the day.

Ryan Dye (13:07):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Absolutely. Well, and you kind of alluded to this idea that you’ve been doing this a long, long time. But really, you’re in your early 20s. We’re not talking-

Kennedy Haffner (13:18):
I know.

Ryan Dye (13:20):
… of expanding a platform. This is still something where you’ve got a long way that you can go with it, but I think it’s pretty exciting, again, that you’re passionate about it, you graduated from college and you’re working to build that. So what are steps that you’ve taken to actively grow the account now that you’re in this moment in time and how has that platform evolved just in this period?

Kennedy Haffner (13:45):
The one word I would describe to build any form of a platform is simply consistency. You just need to be consistent, you have to show up. Because ultimately, if you’re not willing to put yourself out there, put things out there, be consistent and people know what to expect from you, they’re not going to keep coming back. There’s no purpose in posting once every three months because nobody’s going to see it because Instagram’s algorithm will hate you. And also because it’s just… It’s consistency. If you want somebody to get to know you or your brand, you have to keep putting it out in front of them. And so for me in the beginning I posted every single day and I’ve changed some of that now just simply to have a better work life balance. But I just think consistency is key. It doesn’t have to be consistency always in your photographs or things like that as you’re finding your brand voice, but once you do, it’s just showing up in a consistent manner for those people because they expect that and you expect that from you.

Ryan Dye (14:49):
Well, it’s just keep building the store as [crosstalk 00:14:52].

Kennedy Haffner (14:52):
Yep.

Ryan Dye (14:52):
So that people go, “Okay, I know that. I know the look, I know the brand, I know the style.” And it’s something that more and more people will gravitate.

Kennedy Haffner (15:01):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (15:01):
Are you at a stage now where you have sponsorships or you’re seeking that or promote products or things? Is there a relationship that’s being built on that area?

Kennedy Haffner (15:13):
Yeah. That’s currently… So Instagram is currently my full time job. But Instagram does not pay you. Spoiler alert, I think everybody knows that though. Instagram does not pay you. So I currently work with brands in the health and wellness space to promote products and share about my experience using them all of that. And that is how I make my living currently. I really love the sponsors that I work with and I’m very, very particular with my sponsorships. And so currently, I am probably at the max capacity of sponsorships that I would enjoy. Because for me, I enjoy having the sponsorships, but I also enjoy being able to put out my own content in between it because the last thing people want to do is click on a page and it just be a billboard for everything else.

Ryan Dye (16:01):
It’s just all advertising.

Kennedy Haffner (16:02):
Because you don’t need somebody to advertise. But I think that influencer marketing is a very unique space to be in right now, simply because I think companies have over the last few years been grasping just how powerful influencer marketing is to their brand, to their business, because it’s simply basically getting a recommendation from a friend you’ve never met. And so when I’m online sharing about this pancake mix, this yogurt and you can see what I do with it, all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh, I go to the grocery store, I see this thing. And I remember seeing it because of somebody else that’s on the internet that I don’t even know.” And so for me, that’s where I feel very grateful to have these sponsorships and these brands.

Kennedy Haffner (16:49):
And when I first started The Healthy Haff, I sat down and I made a list of the things that… Or the brands first that I wanted to be sponsored by someday. And I feel very lucky to have been able to work with a lot of them. But also my values and my reasons why I would or would not work with a brand. And that to me is still what anchors me in moving forward with anything I do.

Ryan Dye (17:14):
Right. I think that’s a great thing that you’ve touched on. If you’re out there and you’re doing something and you know that there’s going to be a company whose products you want to support or whatever, do your research and make sure that you have aligned your values properly because you’ll regret it if you haven’t. And I think that’s a great point.

Kennedy Haffner (17:37):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (17:38):
And I have to admit, even just watching, I think it was your first YouTube video, which is fairly new.

Kennedy Haffner (17:44):
Yes.

Ryan Dye (17:46):
As a guy, you’re talking about skincare, you mentioned some product along the way, I’m like, “Oh, I’ve never heard of that before.” And I looked it up. I’m like, “Oh, man, that worked.” Just because I was curious, I wanted to know more about it. And I think that it’s really a two way street. It’s kind of where you are being able to add existing companies or even if they’re small companies that have great products, it helps build support for what you’re doing because it’s showing, “Oh, man, look at the companies that I’m promoting here.” Credibility, that’s the word I was looking for. Because credibility… But at the same time, if I’m someone in those companies, I’m looking for influencers like what you’re doing as well, because I feel like there’s just more of an organic connection there that I think adds more value for a lot of people that aren’t just blasted by ads for Johnson and Johnson product.

Kennedy Haffner (18:44):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (18:44):
Johnson and Johnson. But you know what I’m saying? I think it helps build a more grassroots approach and support for a product. So I think that’s a really cool relationship that can be developed there.

Kennedy Haffner (18:58):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (18:59):
So just going back to… What does a typical workday look like for you? How was your video…

Kennedy Haffner (19:06):
That was not necessarily a typical workday in my life but a typical, I guess you could say day in my life since putting it out there, I work from home, live at home, I work for myself, do everything on my own.

Ryan Dye (19:21):
Good timing by the way. A lot of people working from home,

Kennedy Haffner (19:21):
So my work in my life… Yeah. Well, my work and my life are the same thing in multiple ways because I built a brand around food but also myself. And so me being deeply involved in this brand makes it so my work-life separation is very interesting and fuzzy, but I’ve done a lot of things to make sure that I have some more solid approaches to this is when I’m at work and this is when I’m at home, this is me working, taking breaks. But a typical day in my life, I wake up, I usually go outside, go for a walk, do my thing, then I come back post a photo for the day on Instagram, because I have this window of time that engagement is the best. So I typically do that, then I’ll sit down, make myself a cup of tea, read through my emails really quickly, then start responding to comments on my photo. And then from there, I will start typically… It depends on which kind of day it is. Because some days I’m doing content creation and some days I’m doing admin, just totally admin.

Kennedy Haffner (20:31):
So content creation days, I typically then just hop into the kitchen and start trying to make some things happen for myself, trying to make some recipes hoping they work and testing, retesting things before they go out or if I have sponsored content that needs to get out, I will make and take that, then in the afternoon is typically when I sit down and either write out the captions for the photos, send off the emails for the photos if the concept or photo needs to be approved by a brand. But other than that… And then in the evenings I… Lately in the afternoons, then later afternoon, I’ll start working on YouTube content because I just launched my YouTube channel. And then in the evening, typically around five is when I’m like, “Okay, I’m done for the day,” wine down. And something that I’ve found really helps me is I like to take a walk before I start work and then take a walk at the end of my work day because that signifies to me I am going to work and I am now going home from work, which is the same place.

Ryan Dye (21:38):
Yeah. But that’s a great thing. It puts you in different head space.

Kennedy Haffner (21:41):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (21:42):
There’s a lot of value in that for sure.

Kennedy Haffner (21:43):
Exactly. And of course, every day looks slightly different because I’m also the one that goes grocery shopping for everything that needs to happen, I also am one that is responding, doing everything. I’m a one woman show. So I’m also out there making sure that I have everything that I need, that I’m properly putting together everything. So, that’s kind of a day in my life typically. It really depends on the day though. But that’s one of the blessings I would say of working for myself too, is that not every day looks the same and it’s a lovely thing. And I think that’s why freelance people love what they do, because you have the flexibility to also work later if you want or enjoy your mornings a little bit more. But for me, it’s like the work will get done, but it’s a beautiful thing to be able to do it on my own time.

Ryan Dye (22:33):
Yeah, definitely. That is a luxury. And I think that it also speaks to, you need to have self discipline. Because if you’re-

Kennedy Haffner (22:44):
Oh, my goodness!

Ryan Dye (22:44):
Especially if you’re working on building an online platform, you have to have your checklist of these are the things I need to be doing daily as you say, to continue to generate momentum in that space. And I think that’s incredibly important.

Kennedy Haffner (23:01):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (23:02):
You mentioned that you’ve been adding the YouTube side, which is really cool. And there’s just so much content out there in so many different areas. We’re all having our time, everyone’s competing for our time. And so it’s very hard to capture someone’s attention in areas like that. But I think because we’re living in times that are so stressful and we don’t really do a good job of taking care of our mental well being, our physical well being, emotional well being, there can be some really helpful things out there that can remind us to take a moment and take care of ourselves.

Kennedy Haffner (23:41):
Definitely.

Ryan Dye (23:42):
So with YouTube, what are some of your goals there and how it might relate to the Instagram side?

Kennedy Haffner (23:48):
Yeah, yeah. So, I personally really love to make myself uncomfortable. I love to do new things, I love to try new things, I love to put myself out there. And this year a big goal of mine is… Because I’ve been joking around the idea of like, “Oh, I’m going to start a YouTube channel, I think that would be really good.” But it kind of also came to the point where it was like, “I literally know nothing about editing videos and how to put myself on YouTube. I don’t know any of this.” But I also didn’t know anything about what I was doing three years ago when I started The Healthy Haff. So I decided that really was not a good enough excuse for me not to try this. So for YouTube, I’m kind of going into the beginner mindset of it also of I’m not going to look at analytics, I’m not going to look at numbers, I’m literally just going to continue putting out content because I understand that’s how you start anything on the internet, is you have to put out something for people to find you, for people to respond.

Kennedy Haffner (24:44):
So I’ve just decided that I’m going to start recording, posting, doing my thing on there because ultimately YouTube is also this funny thing where people literally just watch you because you’re living your life. It’s an escape. So I just decided this year that my goal for the fall of this year was to launch my YouTube channel. So that’s what I’m doing now. Really no goals or expectations except for consistency on it and learning right now. That’s-

Ryan Dye (25:11):
Just get the wheel turning.

Kennedy Haffner (25:12):
Just get the wheel turning. I’m truly just such a believer that experience is the best teacher and giving myself the time to learn and do it. So, YouTube is a new thing for me, but I think as somebody that has built a brand online, it would be a disservice of me not to use as many platforms as I possibly can because diversifying your platforms is so essential, because I don’t own Instagram or YouTube, I do have a website. So at least I have something that I do own on the internet, but it is concerning to think about the fact that you don’t own Instagram and my page could be taken down tomorrow and then where would I be. So that’s why also, I think that having also just multiple channels, not only because people find you through multiple channels, but also just for peace of mind and keeping yourself out there in multiple ways. So that was my intention behind it, but also, I personally love YouTube and I think it’s such a cool way to tell stories and Instagram really is not always that place.

Kennedy Haffner (26:19):
And I also think that I live quite a unique life that I’ve shared about as far as just somebody that graduated from college and now works for myself and supports myself doing Instagram full time. So I think people are curious about the story too. So I wanted to share that in a different way.

Ryan Dye (26:36):
Do you think there’ll be a time maybe in the not too distant future where you start bringing in some outside help to just increase production value? I don’t know. There’s a lot we can by ourselves, which is pretty cool.

Kennedy Haffner (26:51):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (26:51):
But I think there’s that point where, “Okay, I want to put a little more polish on this or whatever finesse.”

Kennedy Haffner (26:58):
Yeah. As things keep getting busier, I would. There’re options out there for creators, you can hire a management company that takes pieces of everything, invoicing, they take your inbox, they sort it, they only present to you the good things. But all of this comes with a cost of doing business as well, it’s fine, it’s an investment in it, I totally get it. But for me right now, I think that why I’m valuable to brands is because it is me, it’s me speaking, it’s me presenting, it’s a connection with me and my audience. So if I was to outsource any of these pieces, it would start to be less and less of me.

Kennedy Haffner (27:43):
However, if I was to start trying to get higher traffic on my actual website, which for me, I’ve kind of neglected my website, just because it’s not my space like my personal space that I feel the most connected to at the moment. And in time, I think that will come back around, because that originally was my idea. But I think if I were to outsource something, it would be something along the lines of my website. But for me right now, outsourcing is not fully an option, since I am my own brand.

Ryan Dye (28:23):
Right. Well, and obviously you have to look at the cost factor. There’s a point where it’s like, “I can’t have a lot of money going out yet because we need to go the other way. I’m trying to make a living doing this.”

Kennedy Haffner (28:33):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (28:36):
So it takes time, I think to be able to take it to the next step or the next level.

Kennedy Haffner (28:41):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (28:42):
And I was going to ask, as you’re working on this, how do you think of new things that you want to share? Do you make a list? Like, “Okay, on Friday, I think I’m going to talk about this or Monday next week maybe it’d be a good time to do this recipe.” Do you think that far ahead or is it more just like, “Oh, this popped in my mind, I think we’re going to do this tomorrow or this afternoon.”

Kennedy Haffner (29:05):
You see, it’s funny you asked that because I would definitely say it is a mixture of both. And it always has been. So as I said before, I used to give myself 45 minutes to make and take the picture and caption and post whatever I was going to be sharing that day, which I think back to it now and I’m like, “Wow, how did I even-

Ryan Dye (29:25):
It’s a tight timeframe.

Kennedy Haffner (29:26):
That’s a tight timeframe. But not only that, but naturally my photos were not as high quality, it was just whatever I could put out there. But again, it was putting something out there just for the sake of putting something out there. And now that I literally do this days at a time I, also put I think a higher level of expectation on myself. But it all just really depends because I have a content calendar to keep myself organized because also part of working for yourself, but being paid by brands is that you’re also on their timeline. So I have a calendar where I put in place all of my branded content for the month just simply because I like to have it flow, I like to have space in between, because if there’s not it just again, looks billboard, I’m not into it. But at the end of the day, I fill in the gaps in between just how I see because I’m also somebody that would identify as a creative person.

Kennedy Haffner (30:34):
And so I feel to myself as though I am holding on to the beginnings of The Healthy Haff when I make and post something in nearly real time. It really depends, it really depends on what I have going on. But typically, I have something at least a day in advance, just simply to make sure that my business is running smoothly. That’s just for creative in between pieces because all branded content is done far in advance.

Ryan Dye (31:04):
Right.

Kennedy Haffner (31:05):
But I like the creative ability for myself to be able to just share as I’m feeling.

Ryan Dye (31:13):
Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think it helps the creative side to not be so constrained.

Kennedy Haffner (31:20):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (31:20):
And I think that can be really helpful.

Kennedy Haffner (31:21):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (31:21):
On a more technical note, when you’re let’s say for example, you’re looking to connect with a product that you might promote. How do you go about doing that? If you say, “Okay, this is the company I want to talk to you.” You’re just like, “I’m going to cold call these people and say, “Hey, I do this thing you can check out here’s some of my content.” What’s going to give them that interest in saying, “Hey, we should connect with this person.” Because that’s tricky. You got to show numbers, they need to see return on investment.

Kennedy Haffner (31:51):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (31:51):
And that can be really hard.

Kennedy Haffner (31:53):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (31:53):
So the business side of it, what are some strategies that you’ve used there?

Kennedy Haffner (31:57):
So I think it’s also important to be very specific and intentional with brands because I have some brands that hire me because they like my photography style and they asked me to make content simply for their page. It might never see the light of my page. The Healthy Haff will never see it.

Ryan Dye (32:13):
Okay.

Kennedy Haffner (32:15):
So, that’s some brands that I work for. But other brands, I’d say the best way to work with brands is be very intentional in the beginning about sharing your love for the brand in an organic and authentic way. That’s how I have secured almost every single one of my partnerships, is because I also would say in this day and age of influencer marketing, influencers really have lost a lot of the value of money because we… The reality is, is products are sent to you to be promoted and a lot of times people won’t even bat an eye that something costs X amount of money, which would be a lot for their audience at the time. So that’s why for me it’s like, if I’m using it in an organic and authentic way, because it’s something I see beneficial in my lifestyle, I spend my own money on it, all of these things, of course, I would be happy then to accept payment to promote it to my audience. However, if it’s something that is just so outside of my own reach, it would be the same to my audience and my community.

Ryan Dye (33:20):
Sure.

Kennedy Haffner (33:20):
So for me, I started get securing these brand partnerships simply because I was posting about these products that I loved so much and so often, that I made it hard for the company to ignore me. Because if I’m tagging them and I’m sharing stories about it and all of these things-

Ryan Dye (33:38):
They’ll take notice.

Kennedy Haffner (33:39):
Of course, they’re going to be like, “Okay, this girl is continuously posting our product, she’s doing a good job with our product, people are used to seeing it on her page.” And I’m not advocating though, for doing free work.

Ryan Dye (33:51):
Sure.

Kennedy Haffner (33:52):
But if it’s something you want in the beginning, you have to do it. But then after a while, as I started getting connected with these brands and they’re like, “Hey,” in the early days. “Hey, we’d love to send you some product, we’d love to send you some to use, or here’s some coupons,” or things like that. And then as I continued to build, then I would come back around and be like, “Hey, I’d really like to work with you guys in a sponsor or partnership capacity. I think that would be really beneficial, here’s my work, here’s what I’ve done. I created a media kit, which shares a lot of the numbers.” So a media kit, just simple, an introduction of who I am, the numbers that I have on my page, just different bits and pieces that are important. Partnerships that I’ve had in the past and then I have something in there called a partnership philosophy.

Kennedy Haffner (34:41):
So it’s basically telling a brand these are my beliefs before I go into anything. And I think that’s actually something that’s been really big for me getting a lot of these partnerships too, is just my intentionality behind going into them. But I seriously think it’s just making sure that you are grounded in what you are sharing, because it’s so easy to pick out online when somebody is sharing something, just because it was a good deal for them, compared to…. Because you’ll be like, “I’ve never seen this on your page in your life, you’ve never used this in your life.” And so it’s also like you have to make sure that it connects.

Ryan Dye (35:23):
I think the key word in all of that is just authenticity.

Kennedy Haffner (35:26):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (35:26):
If you’re using a product and you also understand your demographic to a certain degree where you’re going, “Okay, well, I’m not going to promote this $2,000 face serum that come in one ounce bottle.” Whatever.

Kennedy Haffner (35:38):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (35:39):
That just doesn’t quite line up, it doesn’t mean it’s not a great product, but it’s not our wheelhouse.

Kennedy Haffner (35:44):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (35:44):
So that’s crucial. And then like you said, being able to say, “Hey, I’ve used this, I love it, here’s why I love it and I know they make other great products, connect with that company.” And when you start seeing it like, “Oh yeah, this could be a good relationship to build.” And I think too, you touched on another thing that’s really important, is that data sheet, having the numbers as you continue to grow, because that’s what a company is going to look at. They want to know what traffic Are you generating?

Kennedy Haffner (36:15):
Exactly.

Ryan Dye (36:15):
It’s like, “Oh, well, it’s me and my 12 friends from last week.” That’s not going to get you anywhere. So, it is important to check that out, know what that looks like, so that you can start really having something to present. That’s your resume to connect with another-

Kennedy Haffner (36:31):
That’s exactly what it is. It’s your creative resume in a sense. It’s, “Here are some snapshots of the work I do, here’s literally my numbers of what I can try to pull for you.” And again, it’s difficult in social media always to promise brands numbers, because you just never know, but-

Ryan Dye (36:51):
It’s rather nebulous at times.

Kennedy Haffner (36:52):
Oh, my goodness! Sometimes you’re just like, “Wow, everything is doing super well.” And then I think Instagram also shadows the branded partnerships, the sponsored content, because they want you to pay for ads, or they want the businesses to pay for ads. And so that’s also a very interesting part to it. And also, another reason why I’m exploring other platforms as well is just simply because there’s other ways to put yourself out there.

Ryan Dye (37:20):
Well, I think too, to be able to go into the situation with your eyes open to realize, “Look, everyone here is wanting to make money, that’s what’s going to drive a lot of this.” I have these great altruistic reasons to do things, but whether we like it or not money is driving the engine. So if you can realize, “Okay, well, everybody wants their piece of the pie. Keep that in mind as you’re working on what you’re developing and don’t be naive to that fact, because you’ll get reamed. So, that’s just-

Kennedy Haffner (37:54):
So true though. If you have a lot of brand partnerships and you can’t pull numbers for them, it’s sad but you can’t continue. Unless for some reason, the brand is more interested in the content that you’re creating than actually your audience seeing it. But again, that’s rare because yet again, it’s the whole-

Ryan Dye (38:16):
Bottom line drives the decision.

Kennedy Haffner (38:18):
Yes.

Ryan Dye (38:20):
Well, just transitioning a little bit. A lot of what you do is focused on food, but do you… As we get to where we start to travel again, who knows when that’ll happen. But again, we get back to some sense of normalcy down the road, do you see adding other elements to your platform more intentionally? Like maybe travel or fitness? Is that part of what you’re wanting to build or do you really want to stay in the food space? Which is perfectly fine space.

Kennedy Haffner (38:53):
Yeah.

Ryan Dye (38:53):
But I’m just curious what you might look at as a long term goal.

Kennedy Haffner (38:58):
I think that if it feels natural to me to add any of those things, but then again, I think that’s just a natural progression as you continue to build a brand that especially one that it’s me, but also my food and my… And even since I’ve moved here to Portland, I’ve realized that now that I have my own apartment, people are curious about what’s in your apartment? What’s your space? All these different lifestyle aspects to it. And they’re more interested-

Ryan Dye (39:26):
What’s your feng shui?

Kennedy Haffner (39:28):
Yeah, literally. Why do you put your mirror over there? It’s more of like… Or even like, “Hey, what products do you use on your hair? What’s your skincare?” All of these different things? And so, I think that’s why I like to say that I’m a health, wellness, lifestyle content creator, because I really don’t think that… I think that if you try to put yourself in a box, that’s totally fine, but I’m not necessarily a recipe developer. That’s not my niche that I’m wanting to remain in. And so for me, I love the idea of being open all of these opportunities and exploring them as they come about. But even then I also think that just naturally sharing more about your life, aside from food and what you’re eating is far more interesting. And then it builds on what you’re eating, what you’re doing. And at the end of the day, people are just really nosy and curious and just want to know what everybody else is up to.

Ryan Dye (40:23):
That’s true.

Kennedy Haffner (40:26):
So, the more that you share, the better off you are, regardless of the spot you’re in. And I think that that’s an issue that beginning creators get into. Is they don’t want to leave their niche, they hold on to it’s so hard. And it’s like, “No, I only share food.” But it’s like, “Yeah, but that’s just not going to get you as far because if you’re only ever showing food, then people are going to be like, “Wait, who is this person? Who are you? What are you doing? And now I’m curious about you.” Which is what happened to me. I started just only, only, only food. I was like, “Oh my goodness, I’m never going to get personally involved in this.” And Here I am.

Ryan Dye (41:01):
Yeah. Well, as the saying, don’t be a one trick pony. So I think you can diversify, but still be within it, the constructive platform. I think that really can be beneficial. I look at it as a parent with elementary school kids, fourth and sixth grade. They don’t watch TV and they don’t even watch movies all that much. They’re interested in just content on YouTube probably 90% of the time. And sometimes they’ll be watching something and I’m like, “What is interesting about this, this drives me crazy.” I don’t get it. Because it’s just someone talking about some video game or they’re playing. I just don’t see it that interesting. But again, it’s a generational thing. And I think to myself, “Okay, so when my kids are, say 10 years from now and they’re post college or whatever, how are they engaging with the [inaudible 00:41:52]?” I think there’ll be a lot of similarity to right now, but I think there’s a way that we connect and learn about things that’s not going to be the way it’s been done. Obviously.

Kennedy Haffner (42:04):
No. And I and I think we’re already seeing some of that transition into TicTok and the quicker media. There’s so much to keep up on and there’s so much-

Ryan Dye (42:14):
[inaudible 00:42:14] spend half an hour on something or 45 minutes. I just want four minutes and that’s it.

Kennedy Haffner (42:18):
Exactly. Even personally I’m like, “If I’m not captivated by something on even YouTube in the first two minutes, I’m gone.” Sorry, I’ll find something else.

Ryan Dye (42:28):
We’re wired thar way more and more-

Kennedy Haffner (42:29):
We really are. We really are, which makes creating content interesting too because you almost have to have a surprise factor in there for people of like, “Oh, I wasn’t expecting that.” Or that’s why people keep coming back to you is one reason or another.

Ryan Dye (42:42):
Well, speaking of which, on a couple lifestyle, general topics here. Do you have any productivity tips that help you get more done in less time? Is there any kind of strategies you might use or just, “No, I just plug away.”

Kennedy Haffner (42:57):
I know. I plug away, but I write everything down.

Ryan Dye (43:01):
Yeah.

Kennedy Haffner (43:01):
That’s my thing.

Ryan Dye (43:02):
That’s good.

Kennedy Haffner (43:02):
I am a checklist person, I am always… Yeah. And I think also separating my life and my work a little bit has helped me a lot since moving here. And also just truly making sure that I pick days that I do one thing and move along with that. I think simplification of tasks on a day to day basis is key for me as well. Especially since… I would rather mess up my kitchen for one entire day than me doing an email and be like, “Oh, I need to go make this.” And then mess up my kitchen and then do it again. All of these different things that are just… It’s up to me to do all of the above.

Kennedy Haffner (43:44):
And so for me, I used to do on Wednesdays, it would be my major content day that I would try to get as much done as I could, I would take videos for brands that I was working with, I would do everything. And so it was my day that I got dressed, ready to go, outfit changes. It was a whirlwind. But it really helped me. If I make sure that I keep my tasks batched, that’s something for me. Writing it down, checklists and batching my stuff is my key to productivity.

Ryan Dye (44:17):
Yeah. I work that way pretty well also. Is have a list and then by the time you get down the list, you go, “Whoa, I actually checked off seven or eight things and it [crosstalk 00:44:27].” So I think that’s really important if you can do that for sure. The one thing that you advocate for is social media detox once a week.

Kennedy Haffner (44:37):
Yes.

Ryan Dye (44:38):
I think this is awesome. We do not do this enough, myself included. What do you usually do on those days and how does it help your work life?

Kennedy Haffner (44:48):
Yeah, so my day that I take off, I take every Saturday off. It’s non negotiable. There are times… I now don’t live near my family, so when I did, I would completely put my phone away for the entire day, literally not a touch on my phone. So now I completely log off of social media unless something is absolutely urgent or needed. But even then, when is that ever happening? So I put away my phone for most of the day, I can call my family if I would like to and I usually do on Saturdays. But honestly, it’s just a day completely for me. And I think that’s also what gives me a good creative recharge every week, is the fact that I’m not consuming anybody else’s content because that comes with creating, when you push something out, you also are receiving. So you’re taking in what other people are doing, all of that. So it really depends on the day, if the weather’s nice, I’m outside all day long. No questions asked, I’m walking around, I’m sitting outside at a coffee shop, it doesn’t matter.

Ryan Dye (45:51):
That’s a total recharge.

Kennedy Haffner (45:51):
I’m literally outside. And it is a recharge. I read books, if I feel like it I watch YouTube sometimes if I’m wanting to get inspired in some way. I wasn’t working on YouTube at the time. So that felt like a recharge for me. I make my food slowly and in silence, I clean my apartment, I do whatever I want. And it’s so, so nice because it truly… In oftentimes I practice some form of self-care, I do something that I didn’t… Not even have the time to do during the week, but I’m very just intentional about it. So that’s often what I do on Saturdays, is simply just take a moment for myself and just do… I check in and see what I need from the week and just literally spend time by myself and without my phone. And it has been such a game changer. I’ve been doing that for probably like a year now since I took this on full time, it’s my one and only sole job. It’s been unreal.

Ryan Dye (46:53):
And you can see the difference.

Kennedy Haffner (46:55):
I can see the difference. I don’t think that we were made to be on 24 seven. And unfortunately, that’s the age of social media, is that you’re reachable-

Ryan Dye (47:04):
You’re connected.

Kennedy Haffner (47:05):
You’re connected at any point and anytime. But I really just think that I could not be… I would love for everybody to just take one day off of your phone, just super intentional, put it away, turn it off. Nobody needs you that badly.

Ryan Dye (47:19):
Right. We might think we’re that important but-

Kennedy Haffner (47:22):
Yeah, no. And this is my job. I built it online, but I understand too that I can be gone for a day and nothing catastrophic will happen.

Ryan Dye (47:32):
Yeah. No, that’s an excellent point. And I think it’s something that we should all definitely strive toward is disconnect, allow yourself the time and the opportunity to recharge with yourself, with your family. And that’s hard too. Again, as a parent of two young kids, I need to get them to disconnect. Oh, my word, I fear for them down the road. Holy cow. And so it’s something that I have to remind myself, how do I as a parent, encourage them to value not constantly-

Kennedy Haffner (48:07):
Absolutely. And growing up my family… Because I feel like my generation was the last one that was raised without cell phones and then quickly was given them and we just adapted it into our lifestyle so fast.

Ryan Dye (48:19):
It became an extension. Yep.

Kennedy Haffner (48:21):
Absolutely. And so even then, my family has always had a rule. We would sit down and eat dinner together every night and we never had our phones. There’re no phones at the table. And so for me, that’s something that I now bring into my life. And of course, it’s different now in COVID times, because you’re not out and about and you’re not doing that. But even then I don’t touch my phone, when I’m around people. It could be a 10 minute conversation, it could be a 10 hour conversation, it doesn’t matter, I’m not on my phone. I think that’s something especially because there’s a stigma attached to being somebody that works on social media. And if I can just even break some of that, that I’m not pulling out my phone to take a picture of everything I eat and that I’m not recording every moment of it.

Kennedy Haffner (49:02):
I would love to be the person that could break that for people. And so I personally…. I don’t get on my phone when I’m around other people because I think that your phone is also a signal of like, “Hey, whatever is going on in here is more important than you sitting right in front of me.” And so I would never want that to be around people. So those are also my mini detoxes, which is not actually a detox, it’s just… I think you should prioritize what’s happening in the moment over your social media.

Ryan Dye (49:29):
Yeah, I think that’s a very good point. And this is along the same lines and you’ve you’ve touched on it. But we’ve all heard how a balanced lifestyle entails a healthy diet and exercise. Do you strive to follow those guidelines and do you add or take away any of these from week to week?

Kennedy Haffner (49:47):
Yeah. I would like to just say that in all aspects of life, I love to live intuitively. I really trust myself at this point in my life. I trust my body, I was a cycling instructor for a while and that was a lot of the exercise then was prioritized and food’s been a priority for me. But I used to be a lot more specific about the types of foods that I eat. But as I’ve learned to trust my body and understand that I really know what’s best when I listen to myself, that’s kind of how I live my life now, is I prioritize daily movement, but not even because I’m trying to do something to look a certain type, I literally just need it for my mind.

Kennedy Haffner (50:30):
I think that once you start prioritizing your mental health and listening to yourself, a lot of this falls into place, because you really can’t lead yourself astray that much. I understand when I need to go for a walk, because I’ve been in my apartment for too long and it’s too much for me, or I understand when I actually just need to lay down on my couch, because I need to reset. I understand when I need to eat something and it doesn’t matter what it is to me at this point, it’s more of just like, I just trust myself to lead myself to doing what I need to do. And I think that again, with phones and with everything else, it’s easy to just pick something else up and distract yourself from whatever it is.

Kennedy Haffner (51:08):
But I think I live a lot of my life just to listen to myself. And so if I want to go for a run, I go for a run, if I want to go for a walk, I go for a walk, other kinds of workouts here and there. But I do believe that moving your body, eating well, getting good rest, all of that stuff, a lot of it is free and easy and it’s a huge game changer in your health and wellness.

Ryan Dye (51:34):
Yeah. And I think especially right now with the stresses, everything going on.

Kennedy Haffner (51:40):
Clearly everything.

Ryan Dye (51:41):
People’s bandwidth is maxed out. Especially when you’ve got all kinds of responsibilities and things going on. And there’s all these external pressures of things we cannot control.

Kennedy Haffner (51:53):
No.

Ryan Dye (51:54):
Whether it’s a pandemic, or social disruption, or whatever it may be. I think it’s even more important right now to be able-

Kennedy Haffner (52:02):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (52:02):
… to take care of yourself. And that’s hard for so many of us to do. And I think we have to be willing to say it is okay to say no to-

Kennedy Haffner (52:12):
Absolutely.

Ryan Dye (52:13):
… [inaudible 00:52:13] things. Like you do not have to be on 24/7 and you don’t have to be engaged 24/7.

Kennedy Haffner (52:20):
No.

Ryan Dye (52:20):
And if someone really has a problem with that, it’s not your problem.

Kennedy Haffner (52:23):
Yeah. And we’re just so deep into toxic hustle culture too at this point.

Ryan Dye (52:28):
It’s true.

Kennedy Haffner (52:29):
And it’s just-

Ryan Dye (52:30):
I think it’s an American thing too.

Kennedy Haffner (52:31):
Yeah. And everything-

Ryan Dye (52:32):
That’s a common thing in-

Kennedy Haffner (52:32):
Everything is productive and everything is to an advantage of something else. And it’s just kind of also like, I think that’s also why I take a day off too is because I think there’re just simple joys in doing nothing.

Ryan Dye (52:43):
I agree.

Kennedy Haffner (52:45):
I don’t stress myself out about anything else going on because I have set aside time for myself to intentionally just listen and to relax and to calm down. And I’m a creative person, so I also have to make sure that that battery is continually recharged.

Ryan Dye (53:02):
Right, right. I think that’s an excellent point. So what are some final words of wisdom you can share with a young entrepreneur who is looking to embark on running their own online business or getting into the world of content creation?

Kennedy Haffner (53:16):
Just do it? Honestly, there’s-

Ryan Dye (53:18):
Just do it.

Kennedy Haffner (53:19):
Just do it, it’s not going to be perfect, it’s not going to be what you think, it’s going to take time, stick with it, be consistent.

Ryan Dye (53:25):
Yeah. I would say, don’t be afraid to have it be your side hustle for a period of time for sure.

Kennedy Haffner (53:31):
Oh, my goodness!

Ryan Dye (53:33):
It’s going to take time for it to get traction. So don’t be afraid.

Kennedy Haffner (53:36):
Don’t be afraid to have it. But also don’t expect anything else.

Ryan Dye (53:39):
Exactly.

Kennedy Haffner (53:40):
This will be your side hustle. And also, I think a lot of times, me included during the time, I knew I wanted it, but I needed encouragement. But then again, if it’s something that you can’t see naturally fitting into your life, that’s okay, there’s probably a different direction. But seriously, just starting, don’t put expectations on it, do not put expectations on it because it will go a completely different way than what you think, it will not be what you think it will be. I never expected personally to be here doing what I do today in any shape or form when I started this. So make sure it’s fun.

Ryan Dye (54:18):
Yeah.

Kennedy Haffner (54:18):
Make sure it’s fun for you.

Ryan Dye (54:20):
If it’s a luxury, you’re not doing the right thing. It’s okay.

Kennedy Haffner (54:23):
Yeah, if it’s something-

Ryan Dye (54:24):
Let it go.

Kennedy Haffner (54:25):
Yeah, let it go. There’s something else out there for you. And it’s also okay, if you try it and it doesn’t work out the first time, whatever it might be. Don’t be afraid of not even… Failure is the wrong word. Because I really don’t think you can fail in this. It’s not letting yourself down, it’s just a redirection, but just start.

Ryan Dye (54:41):
Don’t let yourself get discouraged. Yeah, for sure.

Kennedy Haffner (54:43):
Just start. It’s really… Put yourself out there and start.

Ryan Dye (54:46):
For sure. That’s great advice. Kennedy, thank you so much for taking time to talk with us today and sharing about your platform, the great tips on healthy work life balance. Remind us again how we can connect with all you have going on. What are all your handles?

Kennedy Haffner (55:02):
Yeah. And thank you for having me. You can find me on Instagram @thehealthyhaff. H-A-F-F, is how you spell Haff and then on YouTube I am Kennedy Haffner. That’s how you can find me right now.

Ryan Dye (55:13):
Excellent. We will definitely do that. And we’ll look forward to tracking all the great things you have going on and looking at the yummy food you create and all the other great products and things that you promote. So I think it’s awesome. And we certainly hope to encourage other folks out there who are interested in this kind of a thing. Just go for it.

Kennedy Haffner (55:35):
Just do it.

Ryan Dye (55:38):
The runway can be long and there’s lots of great opportunities. So-

Kennedy Haffner (55:41):
Absolutely. Thank you.

Ryan Dye (55:42):
Absolutely. So I want to thank also our CoLab staff Michael Webberley, Tanya Musgrave, Matt Springer. Raitchele Cornett and Karla Guzman and Joel Norris for technical support, design and production. And let you know that our next Webinar Wednesday, in November, we’ll be talking with an executive in the nonprofit arena about end of the year fundraising. And also we’ll be talking later in the month with Kevin Welch, a technology executive instrumental as a developer for Windows QuickBooks among others. And he’ll be talking about how not to raise money for your startup. So, that will be an interesting conversation. So thanks for attending everyone and have a great rest of your day and we hope to see you next time for CoLab Inc’s Webinar Wednesday.