This week Jim Duncan and Jonathan Kauffmann talked with Jasmine Bible, the Editor-In-Chief of NEST Magazine, and our chief storyteller at Nest Realty. Jasmine talked about the process of putting the magazine together, how she came to Nest by way of donuts, and the value that she sees in the magazine for our agents, consumers, and the Nest brand.
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- Why a magazine?
- How do you develop a content strategy?
- How does the magazine benefit Nest agents?
- What should they do to get one/when is it coming out?
Jim Duncan: This time, Jonathan and I were joined by Jasmine Bible. The editor and chief of the Nest Magazine and our chief storyteller. Jasmine talked about the process of putting the Nest Magazine together, how she came to Nest by way of donuts and the value that she sees in the Nest Magazine for our agents, consumers, and the Nest brand. Now, if you like our podcast, please share it with a colleague or a friend and rate us wherever you listen to your podcasts.
Jim: Welcome Jasmine Bible from Nest to talk about the Nest Magazine, et cetera. But for now, let’s just get started and roll in. So what do you do with the magazine? What is your role with Nest Magazine and within Nest?
Jasmine Bible: My official title for the magazine is editor and chief and to all different publications. That kind of means something different, but here at Nest we’re pretty bare bones production. So really it’s just me writing every single word of copy that you read. Actually now we’ve gotten a little bit of help with that, so I farmed some of that out to some of our great teams. Some of our marketing team within Nest, but basically I’m conceptualizing the overall issue of the magazine. Like what’s the focus of the whole magazine going to be then every article within it. I’m interviewing people, going to different locations, scouting out new locations and finding new fun things. And then obviously at the core of it, it’s really a design magazine. So finding beautiful house tours or new trends or new inspiring things to help people decorate their home and make their home a space that they’re proud of. So that’s sort of my role with the magazine. And then Nest Realty, my official title is storyteller and content manager. So I help develop all of our custom content that we share on our blog and our social media pages. And then I also handle all of our social media platforms, which we predominantly use, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Jim: So that’s great. And I think that, there’s probably not really … You’d agree with this, there’s not many real estate companies in the country that A, produce a magazine or B, have a storyteller. And so that’s unique. And I want to rewind a little bit, kind of your pre Nest days. I’d love for you to tell us a little bit about your experience running a business Sugar Lips Mini Donuts and how that translated into time on The Food Network and Cooking Channel.
Jasmine: Yeah, so gosh, it’s been almost about 10 years now, but I started a little mini donut company and actually the person I was dating at the time, his sister officially started Sugar Lips Mini Donuts in California and we decided to open up a Colorado version. So we started out at a Farmer’s Market in Denver, Colorado. And immediately it was just hugely successful.
There little mini donuts that are cooked and fried and made to order. So it’s sort of a whole encompassing experience for someone. They get to come up and watch the donuts being made and pick their toppings. From the start I knew that branding was really important. So it wasn’t just like here we’re slinging donuts at a fair. But I knew that the overall experience had to be something creative and unique. So from the beginning we took sort of like a 1950s approach. So everything was very cutesy and styled. Lots of like silly hats. I wore a different hat every day and poofy aprons and all sort of kitsch things that made it just sort of a stand out thing at the Farmer’s Market. And we quickly became so popular that we moved into a food truck and we had a vintage trailer that we converted into a mobile food truck and that was hugely successful.
We had so much fun with it. It was a ton of work, but it was really fun. And we were scouted by Eat Street, which is a show that … I don’t even know if it’s still on anymore on the Cooking Channel, but Eat Street came out and did an episode with us and that was really fun. Kind of just filming, what made us tick and what we’re doing. And of course that day that we were filming, like the machine broke down, which kind of happened all the time, but it was sort of funny for the show. So that was really fun. And then we realized that a mobile donut shop doesn’t actually work in the winter in Colorado because the temperatures are too cold and our oil would cool down too quickly.
So we knew that if we wanted this to be a year round thing, that it needed to be a brick and mortar. So we moved the business from Denver to Copper Mountain Colorado, which is about an hour and a half West of Denver into sort of like the epicenter of all the ski resorts. So we moved and opened up a little cute cabin in Copper Mountain Colorado. That was a freestanding business that was super cute. And again, really kitsch in style. With like stripes and polka dots and everything was 1950s. It was really a whole experience. So kids came in and got to watch everything being made and pick their toppings and interact with the crazy donut lady as they called me. And then I think because of the Eat Street thing, someone, a producer from Scripps Network who produces the show called Donut Showdown saw us and they called and interviewed me and we went through all of this whole hilarious interview process and had to make videos and things and they selected myself to be on Donut Showdown, which was filmed in Canada.
And so I got to choose like a sidekick. So I actually brought my dad with me and we went and did the Donut Showdown show, which is kind of like an elimination show. So it started out with three people and then you have to pick these crazy ingredients and then you make it onto the next round. So we made it to the next round. We were the final two. And then sadly we didn’t win the competition, but we know that our donuts were amazing. So it was really fun. It was a bizarre experience to say the least, but it was really, really fun.
Jonathan Kauffmann: Well, it sounds like a heck of an experience not many people have. And I could, you know, when we first met, I remember seeing some of the branding that you put together for your donut shop. And it was clear to us at that time that you understood branding and you understood differentiation. And so that was a big piece of what you brought to the table. And in your early days at Nest, I do still remember having the conversations with you and with Sarah Belkowitz and a couple of other members of our team about, what if we did a magazine? Like what would the benefits be? What would it look like? And I remember standing … We made these decisions of kind of which direction we thought the magazine would go. And I stood up and remember standing up in front of our team of agents and saying, “We’re doing a magazine and here’s what our vision is.” And it was like crickets. Like nobody understood it. But when issue one came out and landed in people’s hands and their clients reached out to them and said, “This is amazing, the quality is amazing.” Then kind of agents started to understand it. So let’s go back to those early days when we first started having a conversation about Nest Magazine. Tell us about Nest Magazine and kind of how you see it kind of impacting the Nest brand and our company.
Jasmine: I think initially we had thought about doing the magazine and I had a journalism background, so I had written for a lot of magazines. So I sort of knew what went into making a magazine. I had never been an editor of course, but I had a good bit of experience writing. And I also had an interior design background. So some of my favorite things in the world are pouring over interior design magazines. And having the opportunity to write my own interior design magazine was like, I mean, the greatest job prospect I could ever imagine. So the fact that you guys were interested in doing that was just … We were such a good fit for one another. I was super excited and I wanted it to be obviously beautiful but also useful.
So because this isn’t just going to a broad audience of anyone because it’s going specifically to our clients, we want to make sure that it’s not just foofy and pretty but also really useful. So I think that by investing in a beautifully designed 52 page printed magazine with no advertisements, which is completely unique for a magazine. Really puts Nest far ahead of the game when it comes to the custom content. I think that early on as a brand, we realized that relating to our clients on a personal level developed a deeper and longer lasting connection. And I think tools like the magazine kind of helped solidify that connection and that relationship.
Jim: So Jasmine, this is the part, one of the things where we might want to cut. What I’m about to say. If listeners want a copy of the magazine, email me [email protected] and I will send you a send you out one of our more, one or two of our more recent magazines. Because I think it’s something that hearing you describe it, I mean I see it on a daily basis and I touch and feel and smell it. But hearing you describe is something that I would hope people would say, “God that sounds kind of awesome. I’d like to see what that looks like.”
Jasmine: Yeah, definitely. We have a free subscription list. So even, if you’re not a Nest client. Yes you can absolutely sign up for a free subscription at nestrealty.com/magazine.
Jim: Very cool. So taking off on that for a second, what is your strategy behind, developing that content plan? I mean, you’ve got this magazine, you have these ideas and the team you all work together to storyboard it. What is your strategy for each one and how far out are your stories and your plans?
Jasmine: Well, yeah, so when it comes to the magazine specifically, I think that we keep an eye on what else is happening in the design world. And I still subscribe to a billion different design magazines and kind of understanding what they’re doing and their points of view. So kind of just understanding that the national and international design world is kind of where things start. And just keeping a little bit of a pulse on trends, color stories, color theories, things like that. Textiles, I love all of that stuff. So I always want us to be relevant, but I also want us to be attainable. So there’s magazines that I adore, like Dwell or Architectural Digest, Elle Decor. They’re all sort of aspirational magazines where you might look at these homes and they’re stunning. But realistically you’re probably not going to invest in a $10,000 couch.
So while I love looking at those magazines, I also think that it’s really important for us to have something that’s a little bit more attainable. So when we feature house tours, we always love to feature local designers of course. And when I say local, that means any of our Nest locations. So we’ve currently got 12 locations throughout Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia. So, yeah, where’s that last one? So when we say local, it’s sort of that whole region. So we want to tap into the interior designers to know what’s happening in our little area of the planet. And so for those homes tours, we want them to be things that are designers that are working in your town that you could theoretically hire those designers. And even if you can’t hire a designer throughout the house tours, we always glean some insights from them. And ideas from them on what you can do in your home to make it look like a designer came in and designed her house.
So I think that’s sort of the first step is kind of getting the design component dialed in. And we’re now in our 10th issue and we’ve done a lot of themed issues. So currently this new issue is the Inspiration issue. We’ve done the Green issue. What else have we done? We’ve done the Throwback issue, where we did some like vintage things that are now making a recurrence in design trends. So we like to do some themes just to kind of like center our content around. That gives us kind of a starting point. And then we also do a big component of the magazine is keeping things local.
So in addition to featuring local designers, we also do a section called Local Love. And in that we highlight restaurants and family fun activities, new bars, new beautiful hotels that may exist that you can get some design inspiration from. So we always try and keep a local voice while keeping an eye on national trends when it comes to things like interior design or real estate market. But we always want to come back and have a really local voice.
Jonathan: And I love the fact that you talk about attainable and as we talk as a team, from a marketing standpoint, we always like to say that we want our marketing to be professional and approachable. We want somebody to be able to look at it and say that’s real. Or just like you said, that you can attain it. And not everybody can afford a $10,000 couch or a $50,000 rug. And I do get the feedback from folks that they use our magazine as a guide. I’ve had clients from Charlottesville that have gone down to Wilmington for vacation and they use it as a guide of spots to go eat restaurants and places to go see. So it’s really great that it’s useful. I mean, I know you’ve got story after story of that. Let me ask you this question. What feedback do you get from our agents about the magazine? I’d love to hear your take on that. Any stories that you have about that?
Jasmine: Yeah, I mean, so far all of the feedback that we’ve gotten, like I said, we’re now in our 10th issue and the magazine, comes out twice a year. So we’ve been doing this five years now and all of the feedback that we’ve gotten thus far has been super positive. I think just the initial impression of feeling that this tactile thing in your hand that’s delivered to you in the mail is super impressive to begin with. So I think that makes an impact right away. And the fact that it’s a personalized magazine from their agents that lands on their doorstep twice a year, I think makes a big impression. Like, “Wow, who is this company? And kind of what are they doing?” And my agent’s really kind of thinking outside of the box. Like you had mentioned earlier, there’s not many brokerages doing magazines that are quite like this. There might be other magazines that include a lot of home listings, but an actual useful like home decor lifestyle magazines is pretty unique.
So I think first of all, the fact that, that’s coming directly from the agent. I don’t know if we want to get into this quite yet, but the magazine does have customizable components. So for our agents their name appears on the outside cover. Then when you flip open the inside, there’s a letter from them along with their photo. Sort of introducing this issue of the magazine having a little customizable message to them and on the back cover it allows the agent to put either a few of their current listings or a message from them. Or recently sold properties and kind of touting what they’re doing in the marketplace. So the fact that it’s really customizable, I think is a big benefit to the agents that they enjoy.
And then yeah, then the feedback that they’re getting from their clients has been super overwhelmingly positive. I mean we hear from people that it’s like they’re so excited to get the magazine in the mail. They can’t wait to flip through and what’s in this issue and finding new ideas. New inspiration. Yeah, I mean it’s all been positive. We have one fun story that, in our Spring 2019 issue we had for our curb appeal article, which is something that where we go find like a beautiful house in one of our locations. The front of it has to be like really aesthetically pleasing with some different things to call out. And we do sort of a shopping guide based on that. So we’ll call out the pink colors and maybe the front door and the front numbers and maybe some landscaping. We kind of break it all down so that if someone wants to replicate that look at their own house, they can do so.
So one of our readers an agent, an Asheville agent had sent this magazine to one of their clients and they were getting ready to sell their home and they loved the colors of the Wilmington homes. So they actually painted their house using that exact same color pallet and put it on the market and sold it. So that was a really fun story for us to be able to be like, “Wow, okay. It’s actually used like it’s actually being used.” And that sort of the ultimate compliment for us.
Jim: So I want to step back a second. You talked about the personalization, how the cover says it’s from the agent and the note from the agent, et cetera. Was it always like that or was there a sort of a tipping point, if you will, where you said, it’s obviously coming from Nest. We want to make it coming from the agent as well.
Jasmine: Yeah, so a great question. No, it wasn’t always like that. When we first started out on the front cover, it said courtesy of Nest Realities. And then on the inside it wasn’t customizable and it was just a general beautiful photo that we were using. So everyone got the same thing. And then on the back cover, it always did have the agent’s name. So it was always coming from that person if you look at the return address. But it wasn’t necessarily immediately apparent that it was coming directly from your agent, not just Nest Realty as a brand.
So as we’ve sort of, we’ve changed shipping houses a couple of different times and we’ve gotten to a place now that we’re pretty happy with our current printers because they allow for that variable data component. That we’ve sort of dipped our toes into it. So we’ve added one thing at a time and then we continue to keep adding things. And as time progresses there’s even an opportunity as Nest grows and our locations grow, there’s going to come a point you know, we’ve got 12 current locations, but there’s going to come a point where there’s so many locations that being able to keep a local, authentic voice is going to get more challenging. So we may develop regional versions of the magazine, where perhaps the first 8 to 10 pages are customizable for a specific region. And there may be even more opportunities for the agent there to be able to put additional information from specifically that agent. Because again, we always want to reinforce that this is not just coming from Nest Reality but coming from your actual specific agent.
Jim: Well you touched on it a little bit about the future of the magazine and of Nest as well. I mean how do you … The concept of storytelling, I mean, I think that it’s, you know, we can always put out new listings, new solds. What have you, I think that’s something that is commoditizable. What’s the future of storytelling within the real estate space as a whole?
Jasmine: Well, I think we all learn from and are influenced by storytelling, right? I mean that’s how we as humans learn from one another. It’s in almost every industry, now. There’s being more values being placed on storytelling because we’ve been able to quantify the value of story. Things to, you know, more sophisticated analytics and tracking, especially when it comes to social media. We can really sort of see this value of story, which I didn’t think we previously saw.
So relating back to real estate, your home is sort of the base of your personal story. It’s where you start and end your own story every day. And I think sort of as the landscape of real estate changes where the property cycle is now, like every 7 to 10 years you’re looking at buying a new home. I think there’s a little bit more freedom to rewrite your own home-based story. I think as a culture we’re more aware of the value of a home and how important your home is to tell your personal story. And sort of your general wellbeing. We’re understanding that your environment really impacts how you feel as a person and how you function throughout the day. So I think that for the magazine and as an overall brand of Nest Realty, we’re not just selling a home, but we’re selling the base of a person’s story.
Jonathan: Yeah, that’s great. I would echo that and saying that a big piece of storytelling is building trust. Like you can … There’s businesses are trying to … I mean that’s the Holy Grail, if your clients can trust you or in our case clients can trust our brand and our agents, then that’s what we’re looking for. So this is for us is a component. It’s a big component. We think of helping to build that trust of, they know local, they’re professional, they care about design. If I’m going to sell my house, you know, if somebody’s going to list their house, they want the marketing and the design to be top-notch. I think as a baseline. So this just gives us … I mean, one of many reasons why, how storytelling in this case can build trust with our clients.
Jasmine: I think that our content overall between the magazine and Nest Realty are really, our goal is to position us as more of a more than a real estate brokerage but a lifestyle brand. So yes, we want to help you buy or sell your home, but we want our relationship to live on much past that phase. So now that you’ve purchased a home, like how do you maintain it, how do you decorate it, what’s happening in your new neighborhood? We want to really stay involved in your daily life and keep Nest Realty top of mind. So that when you’re ready to move on to your next home where the obvious and natural choice.
Jim: Hey Jazz, what do you love about the magazine?
Jasmine: Everything! I love the look of it, the feel of it, the content. We had previously used at a different design firm that we were working with and they did a great job, but we made the decision a few issues in. To bring the design in house and now I’m able to work alongside our design director, Paigelee Chancellor and work on the magazine. And I think it’s really elevated the magazines look and feel. It’s a lot more cohesive now and her and I are able to work kind of side by side and really make sure that every element of the magazine is really serving us well.
There’s call outs throughout the magazine to really emphasize certain things and font types and all the different things that I think really just make it feel like a nice cohesive piece that Nest magazine has its own sort of style. But it’s definitely still in line with the Nest Reality branding. So from aesthetic standpoint, I love it. I love the look of it, the feel of it, the weight of it. I think we’re so lucky to have a 52 page magazine. It’s not just a flimsy flyer that you received in the mail, but an actual beautiful magazine that you’re proud to lay out.
And then the content. I think it’s great. I think we’ve done a good job at maturing and evolving and hearing feedback from the agents of what they think is resonating well. And what isn’t. We’ve shifted some of our articles that we found have been doing well, like our Trend Alert and Curb Appeal and Local Love, I’ve mentioned all those. Those will continue to keep in the magazine. And then we’re always changing out our feature articles. One thing that we changed up, we used to have a section called Meet The Makers where we would interview various artisans from around the community and we love that, but we still have felt like everyone else was doing something about makers. So we wanted to switch that up. And now we have something, a column called Give Boldly, which is, allows us to interview local philanthropists from each community.
And so we’re really just loving interviewing people and finding out, what are these passionate, amazing things that they’re doing to better their communities. So I think that’s a fun, new column that we’ve got going that we’re really proud of. But yeah, I mean, honestly, I just love every bit of it. And I hope to continue as we move forward to just continue to mature and elevate the magazine.
Jim: So I’m sitting here looking at the layout for the next magazine. So I’m going to ask my question then Jonathan will have the last question. But so one, it looks beautiful in the big print out on our table here at Nest. When does it come out?
Jasmine: It comes out twice annually. It comes about mid October is our Fall/Winter issue and then it comes out in mid April. Our Spring/Summer issue.
Jim: So we’ve got the next one, coming out soon. So clearly, right. We’re 10 issues in which it’s really amazing to think back that we’ve done, you know, we you mainly and the marketing team have done this. Have done this 10 time and I’m sure every issue that you work on, you are just pouring over details. Content, overall design. Different inspiration. I know the effort that you put into everything from, you know, it doesn’t matter if it’s the cover page. Page 37 I mean every detail you’re pouring over. So this podcast being Sweat the Details. Tell me about the one detail that you sweat on a daily basis with Nest Magazine.
Jasmine: Well, since I’m 37 weeks pregnant, the arrival of my child is definitely the detail that I’m currently sweating the most.
Jonathan: That’s understandable.
Jasmine: But for the magazine and I think sort of Nest Realty in general, it’s really just keeping our channels and our content full of interesting things. So I always want there to be like we’re taking a new angle or we’re looking at something from a new perspective or we’re flipping things around. Doing things that are a little bit out of the norm. Obviously we’re not an edgy publication, so we’re not trying to like push the boundaries too far, but we always want to just kind of come at things from a new perspective and present sort of a new way of looking at things. So yeah, I think just having consistent, consistent content in the magazine and then, which pushes to our social media channels is really sort of what I sweat on a daily basis.
Jim:Awesome. So I wanted to say one last thing before we let you go for the people who are not yet in the Nest family, what’s the link to subscribe again?
Jasmine: The link to subscribe is nestrealty.com/magazine. And on there you can subscribe, get a free subscription that we’ll send you twice annually. And there’s also a link there to our digital platform, which is issue, I-S-S-U-U. And you can go there and you can see all 10 previous issues in digital form and it’s a free downloadable platform.
Jim: Very cool. Very cool. Thank you so much. Thanks Jasmine. And once again-
Jasmine: Yeah, my pleasure.
Jonathan: Kudos to you for delivering just an amazing magazine twice a year and I know it takes a village and you’ve got a great team behind you, but kudos to you and thanks for everything you do and we appreciate it.Thanks for making us look so great.
Jasmine: Thank you so much, my pleasure.