Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

Little Delights Cakes Owner and Mompreneur Beth Walburger shares Pinterest Tips for gaining a huge following, growing a food-based business, and putting family first on the Brilliant Business Moms podcast.  #mom #entrepreneur

Today’s podcast is a special treat (pun somewhat intended!) Beth Walburger is the owner of Little Delights Cakes – a small business where she creates cakes, cupcakes, and cake pops. She does it with tons of artistic flair too!

Sarah and I were so excited to welcome our first “foodie” mom to the show. There are certainly some unique challenges to running a food-based business, and Beth guides us through many of those.

Beth’s business started when she began spending more time at home due to her youngest two sons’ disabilities. Knowing that she wanted to be around to care for them but also wanting something just for her, Little Delights grew from a hobby to a small business that helps their family.

(One important note:  Beth’s business is still considered a hobby with income. Listen to the podcast to discover the important distinction and how it helps Beth to keep doing what she loves!)

Listen to Discover:

01:30 – How Beth Crafted a Business that Works Around Her Family’s Needs
03:35 – The One Method Beth Uses to Stave Off Overwhelm
07:10 – Product Planning for a Food-Based Business
09:22 – How Beth Surpassed 60,000 Followers on Pinterest!
16:35 – Seeking Guidance for Her Business
24:22 – A Hobby with Income + Making the IRS Happy!
33:46 – Her Business Advice (it’s both crazy simple and insanely difficult to follow!)

Crafting a Business with Family First

Beth’s fourth son was born with special needs. With a tracheotomy and a feeding tube, their family’s life was drastically changed. Beth was home more often taking care of her son.  18 months later, their youngest son was also born with some of the same special needs.

What started as a hobby (making more elaborate birthday cakes for her own kids, creating the perfect frosting recipe, and emailing her friends to offer her services) became a small business as word of mouth spread throughout their California town and her own friends shared her talents with their connections on social media.

Beth Walburger Family, Crafting a Business that puts Family First for this Mompreneur

Too Much Growth – How Beth Staves off Overwhelm

As word of her talent at creating the perfect cake spread, Beth started to feel completely overwhelmed.

She avoids this by simply setting a firm cut-off date for more elaborate cakes. She’s completely honest with customers who may want something fancy on short notice. She simply can’t do it.

Beth says that most customers understand that if they want something very elaborate and specific, they need to get in touch with her many weeks in advance. If not, she can offer simple cupcakes or something else.

Simply saying “no” when she can’t handle any more orders has been a huge help to Beth.

(Sometimes it’s hard for us to say “no” when we feel like we’re turning business away, but when you have talent like Beth, the business will continue to roll in! Beth prioritizes her family and sanity by saying “no” when the time calls for it.)

Product Planning and Production

Inventory is a completely different beast with a food-based business. Beth’s secret is to make the cakes ahead, wrap them really, really well, and freeze them for up to two weeks. She decorates her cakes the day before the event. Fondant can be created off of the cake in advance as well.

Frozen Cake by Beth Walburger of Little Delights Cakes mom business owner and mother of 5 shares her best biz tips

(Check out this adorable Frozen Cake Beth made!  Wow, she's got talent!)

60,000 Pinterest Followers – How She Did it!

  • Focus on a niche (hers is cake decorating!)
  • Be consistent (Beth pins for about an hour on most days)
  • Find community boards related to your niche
  • Request to join community boards by contacting the board owner
  • On community boards – don’t just pin your own content, pin helpful content from other pinners too.

In 2 years, Beth has built a following of over 61,000 (as of the podcast airdate, 9/30/2014)

(This is pretty incredible since many bloggers like Abby consider Pinterest to be their highest traffic-referrer.  Way to go, Beth!)

Guidance for Her Business

Mompreneur Beth Walburger on Struggles in Her Business and the hard work it takes to be successful

At each step in her business, Beth re-evaluates things, prays about them, and asks herself, “do I feel good about this? Should I move forward?"  So far, the answer has always been yes.

Beth says her first goal is to be a mom, and the other stuff is (no pun intended!) icing on the cake.

Hobby with Income + Happy IRS

Beth is able to work out of her home kitchen, because she is technically a “Hobby with Income.” If she wanted to get a business license, she’d have to re-do her kitchen in order to adhere to some very strict health codes.

Some moms in the food industry choose to rent out a kitchen so that they can be an official business.

Beth says, there’s a certain amount of money you can make before you have to be a business. It’s a pretty high level of income, so she’s not worried about it at this point.

As she says, being a hobby with income is a good way to go when you’re getting started.

(Seriously, what a great idea! For moms out there considering a food business, there might not be as many barriers to entry as you think!)

Best Business Advice

Beth Walburger of Little Delights Cakes Shares her business advice #mompreneur

(Our takeaway: Passion + Value = Business Growth)

Beth's Website & Social Media

LittleDelightsCakes.com

Facebook: LittleDelightsCupcakes
Pinterest:  BethsBakes
Instagram: LittleDelightsCakes

Wasn't it fun getting to know Beth and her story?  What do you think:  Will you give Pinterest some more thought and serious strategy?  What about taxes and business details?  Is there anything you'll change?

Let's chat in the comments!

~ Beth Anne

Direct download: Episode204520Beth20Walburger_mixdown20final202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:27am EST

Why you should grow your email list, plus strategies for creating a killer opt-in #emailmarketing

If you're a creative entrepreneur or blogger, you may not have given much thought to creating an email list.  "Isn't that for big retailers and marketers with product launches?" you might ask.

While email is certainly for those people, it's FOR YOU too.

Email is one of the most effective ways for any brand, Etsy shop owner, or blogger to connect with their readers, fans, and customers.  Today on the podcast, I hope I can bring that point home!

The purpose here isn't just to convince you that having an email list is important, but to hold your hand and show you how easy it can be to set up that list and start growing it.  You can SO do this!

On second thought, holding hands feels a little weird.  Why don't we just chat in the kitchen while our kids wreak havoc around us?  That's a more realistic picture.

(P.S.  I fully expect some hugs and high-fives a year from now when everyone reading this has a thriving email list.  Nope, it doesn't matter how much you complain or drag your feet, we're doing this, and as I love to tell Holden:  the sooner you start the sooner you'll be done and you can go play!)

On the podcast:

  •  Startling stats on the effectiveness of email marketing (it's not dead... not even close!)
  • 4 Places on your Site where your Email Opt-in Box should be
  • 5 Ideas to Help you Create that Irresistable Opt-in Offer

Stats on Email Marketing (convinced, yet?)

  • "91% of consumers check email at least once per day." (ExactTarget)
  • Email open rates average 18-30% depending on your Industry (MailChimp)
  • Compare this to 5% of your Twitter followers viewing one of your tweets (on average) or 6% of your Facebook fans       seeing one of your posts. (Andrew Bruce Smith & TechCrunch)
  • "For every $1 spent on email marketing, the average return on investment is $44.25" (Experian Email Marketing Study)

4 Places Where Your Email Opt-in Box Belongs

  1. Your Homepage (If possible, put your opt-in box in the header area, if that's not possible, put it at the top of your sidebar.  For etsy shop owners, this means putting a link to your opt-in in the header of your shop.)
  2. About-Me Page (This is one of the most-viewed pages on your site.  On it, you've hopefully explained the benefits of readers being there, amp things up by giving them an added benefit - a great freebie as an email opt-in.  Sarah and I are STILL working on our About page. . . . . shame, shame, I know your name!)
  3. Designated Landing Page just for your email offer (2 Things are achieved with this one.  Eliminate distractions by making it VERY clear what you want your reader to do.  Second, you can create some great images that talk about your amazing opt-in and then share, pin, and tweet those out so that others will head on over and opt-in.  Here's our landing page.)
  4. The End of Every Post (Readers who make it all the way to the end are engaged.  They're interested in what you have to say.  This is the perfect time to offer them something more.  Better yet, if you're able, create an offer that's unique to that post's content.  Example, a post on photography tips could end with an offer for a checklist to ensure you snap great photos every time.)

5 Ideas for a Compelling Opt-in Offer

  1.  Resource List (Clay Collins of LeadPages says that when they analyze the data from the millions of Leadpages in their system, the ones that perform best aren't necessarily the biggest or most valuable, they're just the ones that readers perceive as the most useful.  Everyone wants shortcuts, so if you offer a concise list of the tools that other successful people are using, that's a slam dunk.  You don't have to be in the business space to do this.  It could be a list of photography props and equipment, or the tools you use to refinish furniture.  Your video course or e-book might be amazing, but everyone is short on time, so they may choose not to opt-in simply because they won't have time to consume the content.)
  2. Guest Post, then Offer a Related Opt-In on Your Site (Abby did this by posting on MoneySavingMom about her Home Binder and then offering a step-by-step guide on creating labels in Word as her opt-in.  She had just convinced her new readers that staying organized was important, so of course they wanted to grab her free tool that would help them to stay organized.)
  3. Give Away part of the Product for Free (Jocelyn gave away a month of Library Lesson plans for free.  Victoria is giving away a chapter of her YA novel for free.  In both cases, the offer helps you to gauge interest in your product and create fans who are excited and ready to buy when your product is finally available.  Those who sign up can give you valuable feedback as you hone your product as well.)
  4. Checklist (Again, this is a stream-lined, time-saving, super-helpful kind of offer.  Provide a checklist for starting a blog, or the simple things every mom can do each day to stay sane.  There are a million possibilities, and I just know there's a checklist that relates to your niche.)
  5. Comparison Chart (Once again, you're compiling information in a concise way that can be insanely helpful to your readers.  They don't have time to sift through tons of blog posts.  Provide everything they need to pick a Photo editing program or the right tools for creating incredible artwork.)

Resources mentioned:

SPI 78:  Rapid List-Building with Clay Collins of LeadPages

The Nathan Barry Show Episode 2:  Email Marketing with James Clear, Brennan Dunn, and Corbett Barr

Derek Halpern Twitter versus Email Experiment (you have to watch the video to hear about it)

What do you think?  Are you convinced that your email list is important?  If you have questions on getting started, putting your opt-in box on your site, or creating a great offer, don't worry!  We'll be tackling email marketing for the next two weeks of 52 Weeks to a Better Business.  Join us, we'd love to have you!

~ Beth Anne

Direct download: Episode2044_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

Entrepreneur and Mom Jocelyn Sams shares her best online business advice #mompreneur

We all have expertise on certain topics that could be of help to others.  You may not realize that your current job or hobbies could be leveraged into a successful online business.  Jocelyn Sams is proof that this is the case. In fact, she and her husband Shane have had a 6-figure month in their online business.

Talking with Jocelyn has taught us that if you focus, work hard, and keep going, six figures can absolutely be achieved. Jocelyn and her husband have transitioned from being teachers to working full-time in the online business space.

Jocelyn is a certified library media specialist for grades K-12, and her website is ElementaryLibrarian.com.  She has a blog, podcast, and frequently does webinars where she shares great advice for elementary school librarians.  This expertise has paid off in the form of lesson plans for elementary school librarians that Jocelyn sells on her site.

Listen to hear her incredible story, along with her best tips for growing your audience and becoming a pro at sales without being “salesy” about it!

On the Podcast

02:17 – From 11 Cents to a Successful Business
06:25 – Turning a Problem into a Solution that Others Will Pay for
09:49 – Growing Your Audience (4 strategies that Jocelyn uses)
13:36 – The Power of Webinars (plus Jocelyn’s best practices!)
18:57 – A Six Figure Month (yes, month!)
20:02 – The Tipping Point
23:38 - Jocelyn and Shane’s “Flipped Lifestyle”
26:29 – Hiring and Training Virtual Assistants
32:50 – Jocelyn’s Favorite Online Tool
33:54 – How to Grow Your Business (Jocelyn’s best advice!)
35:35 – Should You Walk Away? (3 Factors to Consider)

From 11 Cents to a Successful Business

Jocelyn’s husband Shane started listening to podcasts about growing an online business while he was mowing the lawn one day. He was so excited about everything that he was learning, that he stopped the mower, ran inside and told Jocelyn all about it.

Knowing that Shane is a “shiny objects” kind of guy, she smiled and nodded and assumed that he’d be onto his next big thing soon.

This time, things were different. Shane created some websites, and he kept researching and learning all he could about making money online. He was convinced that he could prove to Jocelyn that this would work.

Despite a lack of early success, Shane stuck with it and kept going. One night, as he and Jocelyn were relaxing with their computers, he started screaming excitedly that they had made 11 cents!!! Someone had clicked on one of the Google Adsense Ads he had on a site.

Jocelyn said that this was a lightbulb moment for her in thinking, “woah, people will actually give you money online.”

She thought to herself, “If he can make some money, then maybe I can too.”

Turning a Problem into a Solution that Others Will Pay For

Jocelyn was an elementary school librarian, and her principal had been asking her to create some very specific lesson plans that met national standards. She didn’t have time to work on these plans during the school day.

She wondered if there was a way for her to purchase lesson plans, edit them a bit to make them her own, and save herself a lot of time and effort.

She started searching and couldn’t find what she was looking for, but she knew that if she had this problem, chances were there were other librarians with the same pain point.

Over the summer, she created ElementaryLibrarian.com to test the idea that she could sell library lesson plans online. She knew in the back of her mind that if the project completely failed, at least she’d have the lesson plans ready for herself when she returned to school in the fall.

When Jocelyn set up her website, an email opt-in box was one of the first things she added. She had learned from Shane that collecting emails was very important for an online business.

For her email opt-in offer, Jocelyn gave away an entire MONTH of lesson plans for free! Essentially, she wanted to see if people were interested in the lesson plans and get them onto her email list.

After she gauged interest and had quite a few people who wanted her lesson plans, she went to market selling the second month of plans.

When Jocelyn first started selling, she only had two months of lesson plans completed. She continued creating more lesson plans throughout the school year. Jocelyn essentially worked two jobs that year. One, as an elementary school librarian, the second as an online business owner, and let’s be honest, the third and fourth jobs as a mom to two young children!

(We think Jocelyn’s strategy of just creating one small product at a time was so smart! She didn’t kill herself creating a year of lesson plans before she proved that the market for her product existed. She created each month of plans only after she knew that there were customers ready to buy.)

Growing Your Audience

Jocelyn shared 4 Killer Strategies for growing your audience online. The best news? They’re all free!

  1. Build your email list – Most online experts agree that this is the BEST way to get people to come back to your site. Jocelyn also grew her numbers by offering an amazing opt-in for her subscribers (a whole month of lesson plans for free!)
  2. SEO strategy – Jocelyn used Google’s Keyword Planner to figure out the best phrases to target related to her niche. She took the process one step further by searching for those terms on Google, then finding a way to get a link back to her website on those other top-ranking sites. For example, she’d leave a thoughtful comment with a link back to her blog, or if it was a wiki she’d add her website’s information.
  3. Pinterest – Jocelyn found that many of the results that appeared in Google related to elementary librarians were actually Pinterest boards. She decided to build a solid presence on Pinterest herself, and ensures that all of her blog posts have a Pinterest-friendly cover photo.
  4. Social Media – Jocelyn would remind her email subscribers to follow her on Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter as well. (The more often you can get in front of your audience, the better!)

The Power of Webinars

Jocelyn shares that she and Shane are still new to webinars, but hosting them has been wildly successful for their business.

Her tips and best practices for Webinars:

  • Use Google Hangouts on Air (you can schedule the hangout for a given time)
  • You can send a link out to your subscribers or followers for them to join the hangout.
  • Leadpages has a custom webinar page that allows you to create a webinar box at the top and a chatroll in the bottom so participants can chat and ask questions during the webinar.
  • Prezi allows you to create a powerpoint presentation but with more options such as embedding Youtube videos.  You can also create a link to the presentation, which Jocelyn likes to make available to everyone after the webinar is over.
  • Jocelyn runs a sales special during the webinar, so there’s an incentive to “buy now”
  • She never makes the webinar all about her products. It’s about the attendees’ questions and how she can help them. She focuses on what they can accomplish together during that hour.
  • Jocelyn mentions her products for sale at the beginning and end of the webinar. (The content in each webinar focuses on all sorts of topics that would be helpful to librarians such as setting up self-checkout or utilizing student volunteers in your library.)
  • Jocelyn gives away 2 door prizes during her webinars.  The first door prize is for someone who completes some sort of social sharing for her (retweeting, pinning, or commenting on a fb post, whatever they decide for that webinar)  There’s another giveaway for someone who purchases during the hour. So again, there’s an incentive to “buy now” in the hopes of winning something extra.

A Six Figure Month

Jocelyn and Shane had a huge product launch in the summer of 2014. Their goal was to have a six figure summer of sales between June, July, and August. Instead, they accomplished their goal in July alone!

Jocelyn confesses that sometimes their business and life still doesn’t seem real!  They see themselves as just “regular people” who work really hard and don’t give up.

The Tipping Point

After Shane and Jocelyn had been doing business online for about a year, they had their first five-figure month in July of 2013. In August, they almost tripled their July sales!

The year before, they essentially had two full-time jobs with teaching and running their online business. They both knew that they were forfeiting their quality of life to grow their business.

In August of 2013, Shane and Jocelyn gave their notice and quit their jobs as teachers.  Jocelyn confesses that she left a job that she really liked, but at the same time, she knew that if she wanted to have more time with her family, it was the right move for them.

What Does Life Look Like Now?

Shane and Jocelyn get to work when they want to (and play when they want to!)

They travel more frequently and do a lot of work on the road. They use childcare during the week, but they take every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday off to have 3 solid days as a family.

Jocelyn’s advice for those who are trying to grow an online business?

Don’t lose heart. Hang in there, because something good might be waiting for you just around the corner.

Jocelyn and Shane’s “Flipped Lifestyle”

With their recent success, Shane and Jocelyn have been fielding many requests from others wanting to know how to start and grow their own businesses. Since there are only so many hours in the day, they started their own podcast and website dedicated to helping others achieve what they’ve achieved online.  You can find it at FlippedLifestyle.com

Hiring and Training Virtual Assistants

Shane and Jocelyn use O-desk to find virtual assistants. They list job descriptions and wait for people to respond. After that, they do a basic Skype interview with their top contenders to see who will be a good fit for the job.

To train their VA’s and save themselves a lot of headaches, they create screen capture videos to explain exactly what they want done. Then, when the VA has questions, they can refer back to the video.

Jocelyn also tries to give her VA’s repetitive tasks that don’t involve a lot of independent decision-making to make the process run more smoothly.

She recommends Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker * to help you get started in hiring help online.

For website design, Shane and Jocelyn use Jocelyn’s sister Andrea Whitmer at Nuts and Bolts Media

Jocelyn’s Favorite Online Tool

Canva.com

Canva is a graphic design website that has so many templates to help you create cover pages, facebook ads, or just about anything you might need.  Jocelyn says that it’s super fast to use and create something great.

Jocelyn’s Advice on Growing a Business

Focus on one thing at a time.

Jocelyn believes that simply getting things done is the most important thing. There are a lot of people who want to work on one project for a little while, then float to another project, then come back to something later. When you work like that, it’s difficult to fully complete a project or to really do it well.

She and Shane set long-term, short-term and immediate goals for their business. Based on those goals, they decide what they’re going to work on next.

Should You Walk Away?

Although Shane and Jocelyn have experienced great success online, she shares 3 factors to consider if you’re on the verge of giving up.

  1. Time – If you’ve given your current project plenty of time to grow, it may be time to pivot and try something new.
  2. Place – Maybe you haven’t been talking about your site in the right places or advertising in the right places. Make sure you exhaust every possibility here before giving up.
  3. Communication – Maybe you haven’t been framing your product in a way that gets inside the minds of your customers. (Are you showing them how you can solve their problem and providing clear benefits?)

Jocelyn thinks that paid strategies will likely tell you more than free ones. If you’re paying for people to see your product and they’re still not buying it, that may indicate that the market is not there.

A Business Book to Help You Define your Customer

Jocelyn recommends Start with Why by Simon Sinek *

The premise of the book is that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. She says that the book will help you to define your ideal customer and solidify what you should focus on moving forward.

You’ll have to listen to the end to hear Jocelyn’s Funny Mom Moment, courtesy of her five year-old Isaac!

Where Can You Find Jocelyn?

Jocelyn and Shane’s new website and Podcast: FlippedLifestyle
Twitter:  FlippedLS
Facebook:  FlippedLifestyle

(*asterisk denotes affiliate link.  We use affiliate links for products that we have personally used and loved or products that come highly recommended from business moms we trust)

I love Jocelyn's advice on just focusing on one thing.  What's the one thing you need to do to grow your business right now.  See how we're focusing on one thing right now. 

 P.S.  Another husband and wife duo and a brilliant mom who loves books!

Direct download: Episode204320Jocelyn20Sams_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

If you are a handmade crafter, selling your products at craft shows can be a great way to earn money and get instant feedback.  Customer feedback is a vital part of running a successful handmade business, and there is honestly not a better way to get feedback than by talking to customers in person.

For those of you who don't know, Beth Anne and I got started in business initially by selling handmade jewelry with other family members.  After several years we decided to go in a different direction, but ultimately the experiences we gained running that handmade business have been invaluable for us in our other endeavors.  With the handmade jewelry business we attended several craft shows each year, so these tips are derived from my personal experience.  Picking the perfect craft show to sell your goods is important because craft shows cost money, and they take a lot of time.  And time and money are obviously things you don't want to waste.  So follow my tips to picking the perfect craft fair for selling your handmade artisan wares!

#1 Start Visiting Craft Shows Now!

The best way to discover if a craft show is a good fit for you, is to visit it before you apply.  Scope out the fair for attendance, type of customer, type of vendors, table setups, and more.  Vendors are a friendly bunch, so talk with them about their success at this particular event, and other venues they regularly sell at.  Also keep in mind that applications for fall craft shows are often due in the spring, so get your name on the application mailing list early.

#2 Consider the Audience of the Craft Show

Does the demographic of the craft show attendees fit well with your product?  If you have a hip product geared for 20 somethings and the average age of attendees is 75, take that into consideration.  In addition, are the other vendors selling outdated crafts, or would your product fit in nicely with the selection offered?  Also consider the neighborhood in which the craft show is located.  A craft show in an area with more disposable income will probably result in attendees willing to spend more money, which is always a good thing!

#3 Cost

It may help you to think in terms of what you will need to sell to break even.  If a show costs $80 per table, and your product costs $8 each, you will need to sell 10 items to break even.  Also keep in mind that the cost of a show is more than just the booth fee.  There will be costs involved in making a pleasing display as well as cost of goods sold.

#4 Bigger is not Always Better

We once participated in a show (without attending first!) where the tables were so close together, the aisles were cramped, there were two buildings to get through, all of which did not make for a pleasant shopping environment for patrons.  In addition, if you saw something early in the day, it would have been next to impossible to get back to their booth later in the day to make a purchase.  Although this event was well attended, our sales did not reflect that.  In this particular case, the big show was not better.  On the other hand, we sold at a very large outdoor show each year that had a very pleasant shopping environment with wide aisles and easy access.  This show was consistently our best each year.

#5 Consider Outdoor vs. Indoor

There is something about an outdoor craft event which is just so nice and makes for pleasant shopping.  The outdoor event we sold at each year was consistently our best show, except for the one year we had bad weather.  Weather can be a major draw back for outdoor shows, in addition, the cost to set up an outdoor booth is often greater than an indoor booth.  An outdoor booth requires a tent, tables, chairs, and extra provisions, while at an indoor event the tables and chairs are often provided, and tent is not needed.  It certainly takes more effort to set up an outdoor booth, but the atmosphere for an outdoor show can be really nice.

#6 Consider Amenities

The main amenity to consider here is electricity.  If you rely on electricity for your display or product, be sure to look into availability early.  Many venues have limited electricity or they charge extra for electricity.

#7  Only Handmade?

A craft and "vendor" show is going to have more than just handmade crafts.  A wide variety of businesses will be present.  Most likely you will have the most success at a show that only features handcrafted items.

#8  Is it Juried?

A juried show requires you to submit photos with your application.  High quality craft shows are most often juried.  If a craft show is willing to accept anyone, the quality of combined crafters will be lower.

#9 Is it Online?

I mention this one with a caveat, most of the shows we attended were well established local events that did not necessarily have an online presence, and we did very well at these shoes.  But obviously everything being online is the way of the world, so especially if your item is geared to a young crowd, then I think a craft show with an online presence would be important.

#10 Mix it up

Even after finding the perfect craft show to sell your products, you may still need to mix it up a bit.  We found that year after year the same people attend the same craft shows.  So if they bought from you last year, they may not need to buy more, even if they loved their purchase.  Market saturation can occur with your products, and therefore sales will decrease a little each year.  Attending different craft shows in different areas will help.

Hopefully by following these 10 tips, you will find a fantastic craft show to sell your handmade items and make a killing!  Craft shows are a time-intensive endeavor, so you want to choose carefully.

Do you have any more tips for selecting a craft show?

-Sarah

Direct download: Episode2042_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

Mom entrepreneur Sandy Barton shares her best advice on creating an organic, GOTS certified baby clothing line from start to finish #mompreneur

Talking to go-getter business moms is always a great time! What I love most about Sandy’s story is that she saw a gaping hole in the marketplace, and rather than throw up her hands, she got to work creating the perfect product to meet her need. By creating SpenceBaby, Sandy solved not only her own problem of finding fashionable, organic baby clothing, but she solved the problem that many other moms were facing as well.

Did we mention that Sandy and her husband have created and grown SpenceBaby while both of them continue to work full-time day jobs? As Sandy says, “Sometimes you have to make some sacrifices in order to make things happen.”

Sandy and her husband Paul are definitely making things happen. They recently returned from the ABC Expo in Las Vegas - the largest baby and child expo in the world! Scroll down to see pictures of their booth – it looked AMAZING!

If you’ve ever considering launching your own clothing line, this episode is packed with some insider info on how you might be able to get started. For any other moms out there with a brilliant business idea that seems too big to achieve, listen on!

On the Podcast:

01:06 – Turning a Problem into a Business
06:34 – Finding a Supplier & Manufacturer
07:56 – The Beauty of Bootstrapping
10:09 – 1 Day, 8 Babies, and a Beautiful Photo Shoot (Learn Sandy’s best tips for photo shoot success!)
13:59 – How She Does It (What does a typical day look like for Sandy?)
16:38 – Marketing Strategy (Sandy shares what works and what doesn’t!)
20:30 – Order Fulfillment, Inventory, & Staying Organized
25:46 – Even go-getters have low points, hear how Sandy pushes past them
27:39 – Making this muddled world a better place…
33:37 – The ABC Expo (why they almost didn’t get in, and the importance of just asking!)

Learn even more on the podcast, such as what a GOTS certification is all about, why it’s so important to Sandy, who designs the clothes for Spencebaby, and what customers have to say about the quality of their product.

From the SpenceBaby Lookbook photographed by Red Pinwheel photography and styled by Heather Rome  mom entrepreneur interview on how to create an organic clothing line

Turning a Problem into a Business

When Sandy discovered that her sister-in-law was pregnant and expecting a girl, she began the hunt for adorable, organic baby clothing. Although she was able to find some organic options, there wasn’t much style involved! The same uninspired onesie and romper styles kept turning up.

Not long after this, Sandy discovered that she was pregnant too. Creating fashionable, organic baby clothing became a passion. Her husband, Paul, has always been entrepreneurial, so together they started SpenceBaby, named in honor of their daughter, Spencer.

Sandy Barton's baby Spencer, the inspiration behind her organic clothing line for babies.  Mompreneur.  Brilliant Business Moms

Finding a Supplier & Manufacturer

Finding the right manufacturer for their clothing line, as well as the right suppliers to source their fabrics proved to be a long process. Sandy and Paul knew that they wanted to use GOTS-certified suppliers and manufacturers.

For fashion newbies like us, Sandy explained that a GOTS certification covers so much more than just being “organic”. Organic fabrics are created without the use of pesticides, but a GOTS certification means that every step of the manufacturing process must be free of harmful or toxic chemicals. This regulates the dyes that can be used in the fabrics, the materials that can be used in the buttons and zippers on a clothing item, and so much more.

To find a GOTS-certified manufacturer that was reputable and trustworthy, Sandy did lots of searching online. She found Alibaba to be an excellent source as it’s user-friendly and provided tons of options for her to explore.

Once she found some different options, she was able to get samples made and sent to her and then decide which suppliers and manufacturer to use.

SpenceBaby Lookbook by Red Pinwheel photography and styled by Heather Rome, Spence Baby created by Mompreneur Sandy Barton

The Beauty of Bootstrapping

Sarah and I were so surprised to learn that Sandy and Paul started SpenceBaby using only their own capital. They are bootstrapping it all the way!

Sandy says that they thought long and hard about this venture. They really believe in their product, so they decided to jump in and do it!

Guess what?! Sandy designs all the clothes for SpenceBaby too. She has 20 years’ experience as a visual merchandise manager, and she considers everything from the cut, sizing, colors, style, and all the little details in each piece.

1 Day, 8 Babies, & a Beautiful Photo Shoot

We’ve included a link to SpenceBaby’s Fall Lookbook (isn’t it gorgeous?!) and we just had to pick Sandy’s brain on how she pulled this one off!

(If it had been up to me to handle a photo shoot with 8 babies, we all would have wound up in a crying, spit-up-filled heap!)

Tips for a Great Photo Shoot

  • Find a photographer who shares your vision (They used Ksenia Koldaeva)
  • Create a schedule
  • Break up the photo shoot into multiple parts
  • Have all props, accessories, and backdrops organized and ready
  • Steam the entire wardrobe ahead of time
  • Hire a Stylist if you can afford it (They used Heather Rome)
  • If you can’t afford a stylist, grab an extra pair of hands to help!
  • Lighting is KEY – sunset is the perfect time to shoot outdoors, or an overcast day works well.
  • Book multiple babies so that you can continuously rotate out that baby that’s tired or fussy with the baby that’s currently happy and playful

SpenceBaby Fall 2014 Lookbook photos with tips on how to pull off a successful photo shoot with babies photographytips, momentrepreneur(This cutie certainly looks happy to be photographed!  Sandy gave us so many adorable, gorgeous photos that we just had to share as many as we could with you throughout this blog post!  Hope you enjoy them!)

How She Does It

Sandy still works a full-time job, so she’s up at 6, gets Spencer up at 7, then it’s off to daycare and work. At the end of the day, she and Spencer take the dogs out, then her husband arrives home. Then it’s cooking dinner, watching Spencer, bath-time, bedtime for baby, and then finally at that point, Sandy can begin work on SpenceBaby.

"Everything happens when Spencer is sleeping,” says Sandy.

She also mentions that her husband, Paul does the website work, and he does most of that on the weekends while Sandy is watching Spencer.

As Sandy puts it, “we’re looking at it as a small sacrifice now for a big win later.”

Mom entrepreneur Sandy Barton of SpenceBaby talks about the sacrifices that she makes now in order to have big wins later.

Marketing – what works & what doesn’t

What works:
Partnering with Mommy Bloggers for Product Reviews
Contests and Giveaways
(check out spencebaby.com/free for their latest giveaway!)

What doesn’t:
Google Adwords
Facebook Ads

Not sure:
They ran an ad in BUMP magazine – a magazine for pregnant women that thousands of OB and peds offices subscribe to. (We hope they see a payoff for this soon!)

Thinking about partnering with bloggers for your business? Grab more info here.

Order Fulfillment, Inventory, & Staying Organized

Sandy and Paul fulfill all the orders from the website themselves. Some of their products are selling on Amazon, so fortunately those items are fulfilled there.

SpenceBaby has an excellent inventory system built into their website, and beyond that Sandy uses OfficeOnline and OneDrive so she has access to her excel and word docs whenever she needs them.

She uses Trello to make lists and organize her workflow.

Even Go-getters have Low Points

Sandy confesses that her lowest points are when she allows the fear of failure to take over. When she starts to wonder, “what if this doesn’t work?” she knows she’s keeping herself from simply doing the work that needs to be done.

Her husband Paul sometimes believes in her more than she believes in herself, and he pushes her to be better, work harder, and helps her when she’s feeling overwhelmed.

(Many of the other mom entrepreneurs we’ve interviewed talk about the importance of having their husband as a business partner and/or huge supporter of them. Having that extra support can make a huge difference!)

Making this Muddled World a Better Place…

Sandy’s favorite quote:

Winston Churchill Quote - Making this world a better place

What is the use of living if it be not to strive for noble causes and to make this muddled world a better place for those who will live in it after we are gone. ~ Winston Churchill

The ABC Expo

The ABC Expo (All Baby and Child) is the largest trade show for kids and baby in the world, and Sandy and Paul almost didn’t get in!

After first learning about the Expo, they realized that they had already missed the application deadline. Not easily deterred, they reached out to the expo and just asked, “Is it too late? We’re a new company and we’d love to be a part of this.”

Someone from the expo responded back and let them in!

Sandy reported back to us that the expo resulted in some great orders and lots of potential new clients.  Congrats to you two!

Below are some photos of their booth at the expo. Isn’t it incredible?

spencebabybooth01

ABC Expo 2014 SpenceBaby booth set-up

 

spencebabybooth03

spencebabybooth04

spencebabybooth06

Stay in touch with Sandy and SpenceBaby!

Spencebaby.com
Facebook: SpenceApparel

Direct download: Sandy_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST


We have had the privilege to interview bloggers on our show who do a fantastic job at getting reader comments and interactions.  Specifically, Anne Bogel of Modern Mrs. Darcy and Kristen of The Frugal Girl come to mind.  These ladies excel at encouraging reader interaction, so how do they do it?  These are my 5 tips to increase reader interaction on your blog.

#1 Consistency

There are a number of ways to be a consistent blogger.  The first is to blog on a consistent schedule.  You want your readers to look forward to the next post that they know will come out on schedule.  The second way to be consistent is to be consistently you.  Write as if you were having a conversation with a friend.  If you are trying to write like you're someone else, the façade will be difficult to keep up.  By being genuinely and consistently you, a level of trust is developed between you and your readers.  The third way to be consistent is to reliably produce good quality material.  Followers will keep coming back to quality work, but will quickly lose interest if the quality is not there.  Increase comments by being consistent; consistently blogging, consistently you, and consistent quality.

#2 Honor your Reader

Your readers are your most important asset and they should be treated that way.  Kristen of The Frugal Girl does a great job at this.  She takes down ads if they are too annoying to her readers, and she is very careful to only recommend products she truly loves.  In this way she is developing a deep level of trust between her and her readers.  A follower who feels like they can trust the blogger is much more likely to comment.  Another way to honor your reader and build trust is to reply and respond to as many comments and emails as possible.  Readers will be ecstatic that you took the time to reply to their comment or respond to their email, which will only encourage them to comment and engage even more.

#3 Ask for Feedback or Help

Anne of Modern Mrs. Darcy does a great job of asking her readers for feedback at the end of each post.  She says things like "What do you think about this?  How do you handle that situation?  Have you ever done this?"  By just asking for feedback, you are much more likely to get that feedback from your readers.  Asking readers for help and advice can also really get the ball rolling.  In one particular post, Kristen asked for some help to find a good recipe for extra cabbage she had.  Cabbage!  And the response was huge.  People love to provide help when they can.  Ask for help and you will get floods of comments.  Related to this, Kristen was getting inundated with reader questions emailed to her.  She wanted her answers to benefit more than just one reader, so she turned reader questions into Q&A posts.  Genius!  After she answers the question, she asks other readers to weigh in on their answers too.  By showcasing reader questions, she is showing that she truly values the questions and input of her readers.

#4  Be Interesting and Brave

The fact of the matter is, if you're not interesting, no one will read, and no one will comment.  People want to hear about the part of you that makes you different from everyone else.  Discuss things that truly matter to you.  And if you're willing, be brave and share your opinion on a controversial or sensitive topic.  Controversy always generates a lot of comments!  Share your opinion in a conversational way, not like a lecture.  Set a tone for kind discussion, and your readers will follow suit in their comments.  Be prepared to listen to what your readers have to say on the topic too.  Sensitive subjects don't have to be taboo, they can result in a lot of great discussion.

#5  Make a Spelling Mistake

This tip, that I got from a ProBlogger article, I think is hysterical!  People love to correct your spelling mistakes!  Can you spot the spelling mistake on this blog post?  I'm sure I made a boar load of grammar errors too!  Find them if you can!

So how about you?  How do you think that Anne and Kristen get such great reader comments?  What are things you do to increase comments on your site?  We would love to hear from you!

-Sarah

Direct download: Episode2040_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

Kristen of thefrugalgirl.com is a perfect example of blogging your passion.  She was just the kindest, friendliest lady to chat with. (Do we say this about all the moms we interview?! Probably because it’s true.)  Every mom just amazes us with her talents, resourcefulness, and motivation to keep going.  Kristen is no exception. She’s been blogging about food waste, frugal living, and being content with less since 2008. Did we mention that she does all this while homeschooling her four children?

On the podcast she shares her thoughts on writing and selling e-books, 3 factors that have contributed to her success, and many other great nuggets of advice.
On the Podcast You’ll Learn

05:40 - How She Gets it All Done as a Homeschooling Mom of Four
07:37 – Her Food Photography Tips (no matter what kind of camera you have!)
10:58 – How Answering Questions Builds Community
13:33 – Why Less is More not just in Life but in Blogging Too!
15:45 – Why Affiliate Links Should be Few and Far Between (and other income advice!)
20:10 – Her Favorite Online Tool
22:57 – How to Find a Great Fit with Ad Networks
24:52 – What Made Writing an E-book Worth it.
28:54 – 3 Factors that Helped to Grow Her Blog
30:28 – Kristen’s Definition of Success
34:52 – Two Websites for Accelerating Growth
35:53 – Raising Entrepreneurs
How Kristen Gets it All Done

Her secret?

Kristen confesses that she never gets everything done! She doesn’t do all the things she would like to do, but she does manage to get the important things done.

Kristen gets up before her kids are awake and writes her post for the day, gets on social media, and responds to emails. Since she’s often blogging about things she’s already doing, her blog posts happen organically as she’s doing projects throughout the day such as cooking or painting furniture.  She steals moments throughout the day to moderate and respond to comments.

(We’re so impressed with all of the content that Kristen puts out considering this is far less than a full-time job for her!)
Her Food Photography Tips

Kristen says that you should move your plate and food to wherever the light is good. “If the light is horrible in your kitchen, there’s no rule saying you have to take the picture in the kitchen,” Kristen says, “you can go out on your deck or take your plate to the living room by a window.”

White plates also help your food to stand out and look great.

Kristen focuses on continued improvement in her photography by not comparing herself to other photographers (which could lead to discouragement!) but instead compares her photos to those she took a few years ago. Then she can see the improvement and be encouraged.
How Answering Questions Builds Community

As Kristen’s audience grew, she started getting tons of questions via email. Instead of responding back personally which only benefits that one person, she decided to do Reader Q&A posts where she could share her answers publicly and help more people. (“Always with their permission,” Kristen says. She doesn’t share any deep dark secrets!)

Her readers are also very engaged and chime in to share their own helpful advice in the comments. They may offer a different solution or say something that Kristen hadn’t thought of.

Kristen has built a great community at The Frugal Girl by encouraging questions and doing her best to answer them.
Why Less is More

A few years ago Kristen was feeling a sense of burnout. It wasn’t that she ran out of ideas to write about or lost her passion for frugal living, it’s just that she didn’t have enough time to keep up with blogging and homeschool her kids at the same time.

She used to post 5 fairly meaty posts per week (Monday through Friday), but after feeling overwhelmed she pared back to 3 posts per week. She has recently added back a picture post and a few words on Tuesday/Thursdays.

(Kristen, we’re so glad you kept going with your blog!)
Affiliate Links (and other income advice!)
Kristen has multiple income streams through her blog

• Sidebar Ads (through networks and others that she privately sells)
• Partnering with Brands for Sponsored Posts
• Affiliate Links
• E-book sales

Affiliate links work really well for Kirsten because she doesn’t use them often. She only uses affiliate links for products and services that she actually uses and loves.

Kristen promotes high-quality products that will last for years to come so that the cost overall will be lower. She focuses on long-term value for her readers.

(As a regular reader, Sarah said that she always pays attention when Kristen recommends something because she knows without a doubt that it will be a high-quality, helpful item!)
Her Favorite Online Tool

Kristen calls herself hopelessly old-fashioned. She uses paper for her calendar and to-do lists.  (We say, whatever works!)

She does love the Akismet plugin as a spam filter for her blog. It filters out 98% of the spam comments without her having to use annoying things like captcha phrases.
How to Find a Great Fit with Ad Networks

Kristen recommends checking out blogs that are in your niche to see what ads are on their site. It may be apparent right away which ad networks they’re using. If it’s not, just reach out to them and ask!

Kristen also gives us an insider tip: Google Adsense may let everyone in, but other ad networks that have a more thorough application process typically pay a higher rate for their ads.

Something else we didn't know:  BlogHer, an ad network for women, has an approval process but is very supportive of smaller blogs. They also require that their ads be placed “above the fold” (meaning that the reader does not have to scroll at all to see them).
What Made Writing an E-book Worth it

Kristen started with what she thought was a simple project – an e-book on 20 things to do with old clothes to breathe new life into them.  Even this relatively simple book took her so much time and energy. The formatting, photography, and tutorial collages all took her much longer than she expected.

The e-book sold fairly well when Kristen released it. She sold it for 99 cents on the first day and then increased the price.  However, she still wasn’t sure if the sales coming in were worth all of the time and effort she put into it.

Her perspective changed when Stephanie and Ryan Langford and Erin Odom from ultimate-bundles.com approached her to participate in an ultimate ebook bundle sale. Ultimate bundles takes about 100 e-books on a particular topic such as homemaking or healthy living and sells them along with other offers for a steal at $30.

As an author, Kristen gets her own affiliate link and makes a higher commission off of the bundle sales that happen through her link. Kristen said that bundle sales paid off big-time!

She’s participated in a few smaller bundle sales as well, and those were worth it too.

(Way to go, Kristen! When is your second ebook coming out?!)
3 Factors that Helped to Grow Her Blog

    2008 was a good year to start a blog because there weren’t as many out there at the time.
    Her blog topic was very timely because the economy was down in 2008 and more people were interested in saving money and frugal living.
    Consistency and perseverance have kept her blog going strong.

Kristen doesn’t feel that she does anything super amazing on her blog (we disagree!) but she’s there all the time. Her readers can expect her every Monday through Friday.

Quote: Being Frugal is Way Cooler than it Used to Be
Kristen’s Definition of Success

Kristen still can’t believe that when she’s behind her computer typing away, there are thousands of people reading what she writes, and it’s changing them. People email her to tell her that she’s inspired them and they’re making changes in their lives as a result.

Financially speaking, Kristen admits that having low expectations for her blog has helped her to keep going. “Some people experience overnight success, but it usually takes a lot of work before you make it.”

"Blogging is more of a slow-cooker than a microwave."
Kristen’s best tip for pushing forward when things are hard?

    Pick a topic to write about that you really love and are excited about because that will keep you going when those first few months are slow and you don’t think anyone is reading what you have to say. It will also help you to keep coming up with post ideas if you love the topic. 6 years into this, and I still have more post ideas than I have time to write about….topic choice is really, really important.

Two Websites for Accelerating Growth

Problogger.net

Amylynnandrews.com
Raising Entrepreneurs

Kristen’s oldest son has a photography blog. He’s done it for several years now, and even though he’s still using a “junky” point and shoot camera, it’s been a crazy transformation on how great his photos are now.

Kristen’s oldest daughter has a blog called Baking with Lisey. Her daughter really wanted to learn how to bake so to keep herself accountable, she and Kristen started a blog. They plan the projects, do them together, take photos, and write the posts together. (What a great mother-daughter experience!)

Her kids earn some pocket money from their blogs too. She’s raising a couple of entrepreneurs! (We love it!)
Where to find Kristen

If you can remember, The Frugal Girl, you can find her!

Thefrugalgirl.com
Facebook: The Frugal Girl
Twitter: @TheFrugalGirl
Pinterest: The Frugal Girl
Instagram:  The Frugal Girl

What do you think?  Will you consider writing an e-book?  What about partnering with others to create a much better deal for your potential customers?

We'd love to hear what your takeaways were from our interview with  Kristen!

~ Beth Anne

Direct download: Episode2039_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

How to Choose a Conference 10 factors to help you choose the right conference for you as a mom entrepreneur

You work hard for your money... in the wee hours of the morning when your house is finally quiet and you can hear your own thoughts...in stolen moments during naptime or playtime... you've worked hard to grow your business or blog.  You're ready to take it to the next level, but to do that, you might need to spend some of that hard-earned money.

A conference could be a great way to learn tons of new skills, come up with new ideas to market or grow your audience, or give you the opportunity to meet and connect with other influencers in your niche.

How do you know which conference is right for you?

It seems like there are about a million to choose from.  (We haven't counted, but we're pretty sure there ARE a million!) 

Although we wish we could push a magic button and out would pop the perfect conference for you, that's just not possible.  (Or is it.... someone get on this business idea STAT!)

Instead, we'll walk you through 10 factors that we think are really important to consider as you decide on which conference may be right for you.

After all, your money and time are worth SO much!  Before you click "buy now", we'll help you find the perfect fit.

The 10 Factors to Consider in Choosing the Right Conference as a Busy Mom Entrepreneur

  1. Goals (for your business/blog, for you personally)
  2. Cost
  3. Location
  4. Who's Going? (friends/colleagues/contacts)
  5. Who's Speaking?
  6. Topics Covered
  7. Number of Talks/Sessions
  8. Format
  9. Timeline
  10. Networking Opportunities

So I promised you a comparison chart with at least 8 conferences on it.  I'll be honest, it doesn't look very pretty!  The goal was to be really helpful, though, and if you open up the PDF of the conference chart below, you'll find that it's much easier to read and copy and paste the info that you need.

What do you think; is it helpful to have a comparison table like this one?  I'd love to break it down further into just handmade conferences, blogging conferences, social media, etc.  There are just SO many, and each one has unique offerings.

How to Choose a Conference that's right for you as a Busy Mom Entrepreneur: A Comparison Table (PDF)

How to Choose a Conference a comparison chart for mom entrepreneurs

And a Pinnable Image so you won't forget to reference this list when you're ready to pick the perfect conference.

 How to choose a conference as a busy mom entrepreneur crafter maker or blogger a pinterest chart

Will you be attending any conferences in the next year?  If so, which ones?  We'd love to hear from you and how you made your decision!  Stay in touch!

~ Beth Anne

P.S. The only conference on our agenda at the moment is Social Media Success Summit.  In the podcast, I talk a bit about our decision-making process.  We hope to add more conferences to our schedule in 2015, and we'll keep you posted on where we'll be.  It'd be so fun to meet some of you in person!  We already think you're the best!

Direct download: Episode2038_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

Jessica Rhodes built a six-figure business on Connecting Individuals

Jessica Rhodes is the founder of Entrepreneur Support Services, Inc. - the parent company to InterviewConnections.com. Interview Connections helps podcasters to find incredibly interesting, engaging podcast guests that match the focus of their show. Jessica has built a business around connecting others, and she has an incredible knack for it!

Interviewing Jessica was like catching up with an old friend. Maybe it’s our similar ages or the fact that despite having a successful business, she’s so laid-back and approachable.

Grab some coffee, kick your feet up, and follow Jessica’s journey from her colossal jump off of a cliff to a successful business as a young mom. We have a feeling you’ll be thinking of Jessica as an old friend too….(an old friend who has TONS of great advice on growing and running a business!)

What You’ll Learn on the Podcast:

01:49 - Jessica’s Huge Jump (and how she built the parachute on the way down!)
03:07 - How Connecting Others Became a Business
05:26 - Life as a Work-at-Home Mom
07:09 - How Jessica Prevents Her Business From Taking Over Her Life
10:05 - Firing Clients (and other challenges in her business)
12:34 - Where She Finds the Best Virtual Assistants (and where NOT to look!)
14:55 - Writing the Perfect Job Description for Freelance Work
16:57 – The Power of Relationships for Business Growth
19:24 – Jessica’s Killer Conference Strategy
22:26 – How She Chooses the Right Conferences
27:21 - Jessica’s Key to Project Management
29:05 – Why She Pays Herself Very Little Despite a 6-figure Business
33:47 – Jessica’s Plans for Growth
38:05 – The Best Business Advice Her Mastermind Group Gave Her
42:53 – Why Moms Get Made Fun of the Most!

Jessica’s Huge Jump

When Jessica found out she was expecting, she knew she wanted to be a stay-at-home Mom. She told her boss that she would be leaving her position in 6 months when the baby came along. She had no “Plan B”, and her husband’s job wasn’t enough to support the family.

I think a lot of entrepreneurs are like that. We just jump off a cliff and build the parachute on the way down.

(We love Jessica’s bold move! She knew the life she wanted, and she went for it!)

How Connecting Others Became a Business

Jessica first starting working as a VA (virtual assistant) for her dad, Jim Palmer. One of the first things he asked her to do was to book him for interviews on podcasts.  She and her father quickly realized how time-consuming this process can be, and she realized that there were probably other busy entrepreneurs out there who needed help booking interviews for their podcasts or being featured as guests on other shows.

Life as a Work-at-Home Mom

Jessica admits that life with a busy toddler looks much different than it did when Nathan was an infant. He used to sleep much more, and she would work on her laptop with him sleeping next to her.

Now that Nathan is a busy little guy (who sleeps much less!) Jessica needs more time to grow her business. She uses a stay-at-home Mom as her in-home nanny, which allows her to work from 9-3 on most days.

How Jessica Prevents Her Business From Taking Over Her Life

Jessica recently made the resolution to not look at email or facebook until she’s in her home office. This means that Nathan gets her undivided attention in the mornings and the late afternoons/evenings. (She admits that this change happened recently, so we should check in on her to see how it’s going!)

Jessica Rhodes on Growing a Business Based on Relationships and Podcasting as a Mompreneur

Firing Clients (and other challenges)

Jessica has had clients who made decisions that she didn’t agree with, and so she had to let them go. She admits that it was really discouraging to hand over a refunded payment, but ultimately, she has to do what’s right for her business. (Way to stick to your guns, Jessica!)

Other challenges that Jessica has faced included hiring the wrong people to outsource her work.

“It’s better to pay more to someone who does better work than to just spend a couple of bucks and annoy your clients.”

Where She Finds the Best Virtual Assistants

Jessica uses Elance to find her graphic designers.

She found one of her VA’s in a facebook group for VA’s. She now has a new VA to help her book interviews for her clients, and this VA happens to be a podcaster herself. (a win-win!)

Insider Advice: Jessica does not recommend using Fiverr to outsource your work. Individuals on Fiverr will publicly display their work to others, so your clients might be a little annoyed if they see their designs on the site!

Writing the Perfect Job Description for Freelance Work

• Be as specific as possible (spell out every task and detail of the job).
• Keep language barriers in mind and make each word and task as clear and simple as possible.
• Spell out due dates and the exact amount of time you expect each project to take
• Overall, be clear, give expectations, and don’t assume.
Jessica recommends The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss for Advice on Outsourcing (this is an affiliate link)

The Power of Relationships

Jessica has leveraged live conferences, mastermind groups, and business coaching to grow her business.

At conferences, she has the chance to solidify past relationships made online, meet new people and clients, and get new referrals for her business.

Through masterminds and coaching, Jessica gets really high-level advice from successful business people. She highly recommends investing in yourself and your business in these ways.

Jessica’s Killer Conference Strategy

This one is too good to spell out in writing!  Skip to 19:24 to hear her story.

Choosing the Right Conferences

Jessica learns tons of marketing advice by attending the Glazer-Kennedy-Insider Conferences.

New Media Expo and Podcast Movement are two of her other favorites. Essentially, Jessica says, her clients are podcasters, so wherever they get together, she’s going to make sure she’s there too.

In addition, her dad, Jim Palmer, hosts the Dream Business Academy which she always attends.

Jessica’s Key to Project Management

Base Camp!

Jessica uses this cloud-based project management software to keep track of all the projects she and her VA’s are working on.

She can set a task, give a due date, upload files, and avoid emails and spreadsheets.

Each of her clients at Interview Connections have access to their own projects so they can log in and check the status of things. (What a great idea!)

Why She Pays Herself Very Little Despite a Six-figure Business

A few months ago Jessica incorporated her business and started paying herself a salary from her business account.

She confesses that despite having a six-figure business, what she chooses to pay herself is very, very little so that she can keep re-investing in the business.

(There is an advantage to owning her own business; if the budget gets a little tight, Jessica can give herself a raise for the month!)

Jessica’s Plans for Growth

Jessica plans to take many of the day-to-day working in the business tasks off of her plate so that she can do everything she can to market her business.

She plans to put out another e-book and start doing tele-seminars. (Her first e-book is Podcast Interviews, and you can grab it in the Kindle store!  yep, we're endorsing it with an affiliate link!)

As Jessica puts it, a business is something that you can leave, and things are still getting done.

I didn’t want to create a job for myself. I wanted to create a business.

Jessica Rhodes mom entrepreneur on creating and growing a business based on relationships

The Best Business Advice

Jessica’s mastermind group has offered her great business advice as she grows.

The very best advice?

Focus on marketing and growing the business you already have instead of coming up with new ideas and services to offer.

(There may be a member of our team here at Brilliant Business Moms who REALLY needs to take this advice! Who me?!     Naaaah.)

Why Moms Get Made Fun of the Most!

Jessica’s funny mommy moment had us all laughing. It’s totally true that as soon as you become a mom, your cool factor just disappears. (Who cares, right?! We’ve got bigger concerns.)

Where to Find Jessica:

Twitter: @jessrhodesess
Her Internet TV Show: Interviewconnections.tv
Interview Connections
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Direct download: Episode203720jessica20rhoades20final_mixdown202.mp3
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