A Business Incubator for Influencers and Hobbyists
By Lisa Pietsch
Flamed as a Tequila Newb
When I first found Tequila Aficionado, there were few, if any, tequila influencers online except in secret bulletin boards or boys’ clubs where you had to know a secret handshake. I wasn’t in the clubs and didn’t know the handshakes. Any attempt to join on my part usually led to harassment and flaming.
How I became an owner of Tequila Aficionado
I was in social media management and Tequila Aficionado was a dead website with no social media presence. I approached the two people who seemed to be running the site, Alex Perez and Mike Morales, about how I could help them bring their website back from the brink. As it turned out, they didn’t have the money to pay me.
Being a lover of tequila and confident in my abilities, I offered a wager:
If I could make Tequila Aficionado profitable within 6 months, I’d take my payment in equity.
Here we are eight years later…
Tequila lovers are shouting from their rooftops and TikToks. The #tequilasquad is strong on Instagram and public groups abound on Facebook. We tequila aficionados have come a long way since the dark days of secret handshakes.
Blood, sweat and a lot of costly mistakes
Mike Morales and I spent several long years working our asses off to build Tequila Aficionado into what it is today. It wasn’t cheap or easy. Between hackers, haters, big ideas on small budgets, and simple rookie errors, it was all very costly. Not easy for a mother of two trying to pay all the bills.
It’s not a one-man show
Today, I run the business of Tequila Aficionado – including everything from accounting to partnerships and publishing both online and in print, while Mike is our Master Catador, managing our incredible international Tasting Team and acting as our liaison with all the brands we review.
Tequila information is more accessible
I’m thrilled that there are so many people working to make names for themselves as influencers in tequila and agave spirits these many years later. It means we’ve had some effect on the industry. But make no mistake – it isn’t easy doing it on your own.
That’s why I feel it is time for Tequila Aficionado to expand again – only differently.
A high tide raises all boats
I’m excited to announce that in the coming months Tequila Aficionado will be launching the Tequila Aficionado Media Network, a program that will be part business incubator, part mastermind group, and part mentorship. It’s time for Tequila Aficionado to take advantage of our position and begin to lift up as many tequila lovers as we can. This is a two-step method.
We started the first step with our Catador Course. Mike spent two years writing it (and I began to wonder if it would ever be done). Now it’s out there, teaching tequila lovers more about their favorite spirit than they’d ever know without first learning Spanish and paying for costly trips to Mexico and exclusive classes with tequila distillers.
Where Mike distills the process of tequila production in the Catador Course, I’ll be distilling the business process into an influencer incubator program.
How it will work
Here’s the gist of it:
Creators (influencers and micro-influencers) are looking for ways to become less dependent on social media giants like Facebook and Instagram. After all, once you create on a social platform, the platform can use your content any way they want to. More and more creators are now looking for ways to monetize their content through their own apps or sites. It takes a whole lot of effort to build a following so large that social platforms will pay you for your content. That’s where I come in.
What I do
I’ll show you how to own, use, and monetize your content while helping you grow your following through Tequila Aficionado’s networks and publications. Just as every tequila is different, so are the voices singing its praises. I plan to help tequila lovers who want to create blogs, vlogs, podcasts and books in their own voices to do just that. I want to help them avoid the pitfalls we experienced with Tequila Aficionado and help them evolve into their own distinct brands with their own monetization tools.
The rise of creators
Creators are gaining power in the world of media. By letting their own style and voice shine through, they’re able to connect with their tribe and create a welcome sense of community. The world of tequila lovers is big enough for every style and voice! My aim is to help facilitate the rise of a new generation of creator/influencers in tequila. (And help them to do it faster and with fewer headaches than we did.)
Getting paid to drink tequila
Aside from helping creator/influencers gain more popularity through syndication and publication, it is my hope to help more of them become founders of their own businesses, build teams, increase their revenue and improve their creative process while being able to do what they love.
More creators doesn’t have to mean more competition
Just as there is always room for one more tequila brand, there’s always room for more creator/influencers. I’m a firm believer that everyone should follow their passion. It is far more fun to go to “work” creating content that’s aligned with your passions and strengths. Earning income, however small, from the creator economy gives you the chance to really pursue your true interests. As more brands increase their online presence and channel their budgets towards online advertising and promotions, there will always be more opportunities for content creators.
In fact, we’re often asked by brands if we know of any influencers they should get in touch with for reviews or other publicity opportunities. It is my hope that we can work together with more creator/influencers to provide that opportunity for both the brands and the influencers.
By providing a program like the Tequila Aficionado Media Network we’ll help creator/influencers get a leg up without all the headaches. This way, they can focus more on relevance and authenticity in what they create – which is ultimately what will make them and the brands they work with happy.
With the Tequila Aficionado Media Network, everybody wins.
Brands get more exposure.
Influencers get to do what they love.
And I get to stick it to the boys’ clubs and secret societies.