Tue, 24 February 2015
As the author of 3 cookbooks and 4 e-books, Jessica Fisher is no stranger to hard work. In our interview with her, you'll learn how to create a publish a cookbook, along with how much time, work, and planning is involved in the process! Whether you're a food blogger or not, Jessica also shares valuable advice on time management, producing content, and parenting. Press play on the podcast player below to hear from this seasoned blogger, author, cook, and mom.
On the Podcast
00:57 - From Freelance Writer to Successful Blogger
From Freelance Writer to Successful Blogger
On a whim 9 years ago, Jessica submitted an article to a local parenting publication. Through that publisher, she discovered Parenting Publications of America - an organization comprised of small, local magazines that you might find in places like your doctor's office.
Jessica began writing more frequently, and a year later, she and her husband decided to tackle their debt and address their spending habits. At this point, Jessica amped up her writing career and began scouring the internet for writer jobs. The year was 2007, and blogging was still in its early days.
At the time, Jessica happened to live in the same town as Crystal Paine of MoneySavingMom.com They met for coffee, and Jessica learned more about how to make an income from blogging.
Jessica's Low Point
Early on in her blogging career, Jessica dreamed of writing a freezer cookbook. She used the advice of Erin Chase, the 5 Dollar Dinner Mom, and the book, Nonfiction Book Proposals Anybody Can Write by Elizabeth Lyon
Before she had an agent, an editor agreed to take a look at Jessica's Cookbook proposal. He ripped it to shreds. Jessica cites this as the most disappointing moment of her writing career. She just sobbed and could hardly talk about the experience.
A few weeks later, she finally had the courage to tell Erin the 5 Dollar Dinner Mom, about her experience. Erin told her to get up and try again. She referred her to a great agent, and together, they cleaned up her proposal, changed a few words, changed the title, and her book sold to a publisher within a few weeks!
(We're so glad Jessica dusted herself off and tried again! Sarah uses Jessica's Freezer Cookbook on a regular basis - it's a staple in her home that saves her tons of time and allows her to feed her kids nutritious meals that they love to eat.)
Why Growing a Platform is the Path to Publishing
Jessica strongly believes that having her own blog was a large factor in getting a book deal. She started blogging in 2008, signed her book contract in 2010, and her first book came out in 2012.
We've seen this happen much more often today - a popular food blogger comes out with a published cookbook. It's much easier to secure a publishing deal when an author already has a platform to market their books and loyal fans who will be eager to buy those books.
Jessica compares this phenomenon to the example of her husband who used to be a full-time musician. The bands that got record deals were the ones selling out the clubs week after week. They had a proven, loyal fan base, and the record company knew their job would be made easier as a result.
Content Creation & Planning
Jessica writes at least two blog posts every day. How does she sustain this level of content creation?
She admits that when she first started LifeasMom, Jessica posted 3 times per day! The ideas always came. She has a continual storehouse of ideas in her head, and confesses that her brain doesn't often shut off! She has pages and pages, and stacks of notebooks filled with her notes on topics that she thinks would be helpful to her readers.
One thing that makes it easier for Jessica to come up with topics? She writes about home, family, and food, and that also happens to be her every-day life. Ideas and inspiration are always prevalent, as she's reminded of new topics all day long.
With 2 posts per day, how does Jessica organize and plan for all of that content?
Jessica uses Google Calendar to plan out her posts, and she shares the calendar with her sister, who helps her with the back-end of running her blogs. With Google Calendar - it's easy to move and shift "appointments" or blog posts, essentially, when things change. She doesn't have to cross things out, delete them, or re-write them.
Two Blog Posts a Day? How Jessica Finds the Time
Even though Jessica's children are older (ages 6 years through 17 years old) she finds that they need her just as much, if not more, as they grow up. Not to mention, Jessica is a homeschooling mom to 6 kids!
She wakes up very early in order to have time to work on her blogs. In the beginning days of blogging, Jessica would stay up until 1 AM and also get up early, but now she finds that she functions best by choosing one, but not both methods of stealing time. She tries to go to bed early and wake up early.
The Many Steps to Writing a Cookbook
Jessica starts with a pen and paper in the kitchen. She takes notes as she cooks, then listens to her family's feedback and suggestions. (We love that her family serves as 7 fabulous taste-tasters!)
Because everything is on paper for several months before transferring recipes to the computer, Jessica is often worried about her house burning down in the night! On occasion, she's locked up her drafts in a fireproof safe when they travel, or she'll put everything by the front door when she simply has too much content to lose!
After the recipes are honed, Jessica transfers everything to the computer. Next, the editorial director at the publishing house reads through the book.
After that, a line editor looks at content, style, and consistency throughout the recipes. An example of style differences would be can sizes, what type of sesame oil, do we call them onions or green scallions? There are so many small details that have to be addressed to make the book feel universal and reader-friendly. The line editor works with Jessica on 2-3 revisions.
Next, it's the copy editor's turn. They get into the nitty gritty details of the book. Once again, Jessica goes through 2-3 revisions with them.
A design editor then lays the book out. For example, if a recipe is too long for a page, a few sentences will need to be cut. If the head notes are too long, they need to be revised. The design editor also matches photos with each recipe.
The entire book is then proofed twice, then it goes to the printer.
"Then," Jessica says, "you wait.... and it comes out in stores." Jessica spends about a year of her life on each cookbook that she's authored.
Cookbook Photos - What You Should Know
One little-known fact about cookbooks is that the author may have to chip in for the cost of photos. (We had no idea!) Traditionally, cookbook authors don't take their own photos, but instead, they pay half of the cost of hiring a professional photographer.
In today's market, many food bloggers turned cookbook authors are quite skilled at food photography, so it's more common for them to take their own pictures.
In Jessica's case, the photos for her first two cookbooks were taken by a professional photographer, but she took the pictures for Good Cheap Eats along with the next cookbook that's coming out.
Why You Need an Agent
Jessica shared that having an agent has been key to her publishing success, and as a do-it-yourselfer by nature, she doesn't say that lightly. It was difficult for her to hire a professional, knowing that she's have to share a portion of the profits. Below are the ways that an agent can be invaluable:
How did Jessica land her agent? She was able to use the referral of a friend, Erin Chase, the 5 Dollar Dinner Mom.
(Have we mentioned that making friends and building connections is so key to your success in the blogging and online space?)
A Family of Cooks
When asked what she's most proud of as a successful blogger and author, Jessica shared an incredible story of her family heritage. Her grandmother was an avid baker and won many awards at local fairs. She was in the kitchen from a young age with her Grandma John, who grew up on a farm in Minnesota.
When Grandma John came to visit them in California, Jessica's mom would give her free reign of the kitchen. Jessica learned so much from her grandmother. Although she passed away 14 years ago, Jessica thinks she'd be pretty excited about the success she has had with her blog and cookbooks.
Jessica continues to pass on the family tradition of cooking with her own children. "It's safe to say that every single one of them loves to cook!" she says. Her 8 year-old, in particular loves to watch Youtube videos to learn new skills in the kitchen.
It's an absolute blessing that her children are willing and ready to learn more things in the kitchen. Jessica knows that she needs to take advantage of this season, because it may not last. She wants to teach her kids way more than Youtube videos do!
Jessica's Favorite Resources for Running her Biz
Jessica is a lover of all things Google. She uses Google Drive, Analytics, Gmail, Calendar, and of course, the search engine. She uses each of these tools all day, every day.
Her one lament? She misses GoogleReader!
Business Advice from Overseas
As a former teacher and stay-at-home mom, Jessica didn't receive any formal education on business or have traditional work experience in the business world. For this reason, she really loves Women, Work, and the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guiliano. Mireille was the VP of American Relations for a Champagne Brand in France. She shares great tips about business, along with business etiquette such as how to dress for a business dinner, or what to do as the hostess of a business dinner.
How to Stay in Shape as a Food Blogger
Sarah and I were both curious about how to stay in shape when one's job consists of spending lots of time cooking in the kitchen! Jessica always looks fit and healthy.
She doesn't have a hard and fast rule for staying fit, but she did admit to losing 6 pounds when her family spent the month in France last October. She had croissants every morning and as much wine and cheese as she liked.
Another book by Mireille Guiliano, French Women Don't Get Fat, has served as a guide in some ways. The French are very thoughtful and deliberate with their food. They think of every angle in terms of how the foods and drinks will combine. Jessica also makes an effort to include variety with each meal, including many flavors and textures. That variety can help to make you feel more satiated. As Mireille says, the first 3 bites of any meal are the best ones anyways, so you can limit yourself to 3 bites of everything if there is a great variety, and then you won't have to stuff yourself to feel satiated.
Jessica shared a beautiful moment about how teaching her children to make healthy choices is making a difference. When we least expect it, our kids show us that they're watching, and they're learning from our example.
Stay in Touch with Jessica!
Sarah's favorite cookbook of Jessica's: Not Your Mother's Make-Ahead Freezer Cookbook (This is our affiliate link, because Sarah highly recommends this book for busy moms who still want to feed their families nutritious, wholesome food.)
Are you a food blogger or foodie looking to start a blog or brand? We'd love to hear from you! What were your takeaways from Jessica's episode?
~ Beth Anne
Thu, 19 February 2015
You'll notice that when you send out emails to your subscriber list, your email service provider (such as MailChimp) requires that you include your physical address at the bottom of your emails. Why is that? Do you really have to provide your real physical address on email newsletters? Can you use a fake address? Listen to learn the answer.
Thank you to Melissa Kaiserman of A Time for Everything for pointing me in the direction of the FTC rules on this topic.
To locate a PO Box near you, use the USPS website.
Tue, 17 February 2015
Talking with Tiffany Romero, founder of the SITS girls blogging network and Bloggy Bootcamp was so enlightening. Tiffany has hired and worked with many team members, joined forces in a company merger, and she's established a network of over 75,000 bloggers.
Learn how to work with others, assemble an amazing team, create great community, and balance all of that with your family on the podcast today. Press play on the podcast player below to hear Tiffany's amazing story from rookie blogger to mompreneur. You'll walk away as though you just chatted with a seasoned business coach - with clarity, a newfound sense of purpose, and a clear path forward for success.
On the Podcast
01:25 - From Rookie Blogger to Business Owner
From Rookie Blogger to Business Owner
Tiffany started a mom blog in 2008. At the time, Twitter was non-existent, Facebook wasn't used in the same way that it is now, and other forms of social media had yet to be developed. The world of blogging revolved around comments.
Tiffany wanted to find and connect with other mom bloggers so they could support each other. When she googled "mom blogger" very few sites showed up.
Realizing the need for a site that did nothing but highlight bloggers, Tiffany started the SITS girls. You'll never believe how many months she'd been blogging when she undertook this huge project: just four!
Creating a Network of Supportive Bloggers
Tiffany took several steps to get the SITS girls site off to a great start.
Two Tips for Creating a Community
With over 75,000 bloggers who are now part of Massive Sway and the SITS girls, Tiffany clearly has a knack for community-building. We asked her what advice she would give to a woman trying to build a different community, perhaps one centered around a certain hobby or common goal.
How to Assemble an Unstoppable Team
Tiffany shares 5 tips for assembling a team that works well together and brings many strengths to the table.
Connecting Brands and Bloggers
Tiffany's business partner, Danielle Wiley, started SWAY because she saw a need for celebrity bloggers to have representation. They needed an easier way to find work and negotiate the terms of sponsored content so that they could focus on developing that great content.
Danielle and her partner approached Tiffany and Fran about the idea of representing their Bloggy Boot Camp. Their relationship started at the BlogHer Conference in San Diego in 2012.
Tiffany and Fran quickly realized that SWAY could help not just with Bloggy Boot Camp, but in finding work for the 40,000 bloggers in the SITS girls database. Initially, SWAY and the SITS girls did a joint venture called Massive SWAY, but they've since become one unified company.
How SWAY Connects Brands and Bloggers
Everyone wins: Brands get high-quality, authentic content from influencers, the influencers get paid for their work and influence, and SWAY makes everyone happy!
Merging Companies - What You Need to Know
Tiffany shares that the merger with SWAY has been incredible. It's a wonderful group of four scrappy women who figure things out as they go and make things happen.
Bloggy Boot Camp
Soon after starting the SITS girls, Tiffany knew she wanted to meet the amazing bloggers in her community in person. Her first event was a SITScation in Las Vegas. 100 women attended her one-day event. Through that first event, Tiffany discovered how much she enjoyed speaking, and how motivating it was to meet and network with other women.
"Whatever industry you're in, I can't recommend enough that you network with other women in that space," Tiffany says. Networking can provide you with invaluable advice, help along the way, and a source of inspiration to keep going.
Bloggy Boot Camp used to be more about sharing blogging tips, but now the focus has changed a bit based on the needs of the SITS girls community.
Bloggy Boot Camp Now Covers 2 Main Topics
A Day in the Life of a Big Business Owner
With everything on her plate, we were curious about how Tiffany manages her business from home. She confessed that her circumstances are a bit different than most work-at-home moms. Her husband also works from home, and their son is 14 years old. She has more free time to focus on her business than most people do!
Still, Tiffany shared 6 excellent tips for any mom striving to balance work and family.
5 Ideas for Growing a Blog Today
Since the SITS girls has a blog that continues to grow today, not to mention their relationships with thousands of other successful bloggers, we just had to get Tiffany's thoughts on the current landscape of blog growth. She gave us 5 great ideas for growing your blog in today's online space.
3 Ways to Find Out What's Next
In addition to tuning in to what people are talking about on Twitter or Pinterest, Tiffany shared 3 great sources for staying on top of what's next.
3 Tools to Stay on Top of Things
3 Books for Business & Life
Funny Mom Moments with a 14 Year-Old
You'll have to tune in to hear all about how Tiffany's son sees her, and what it's like trying to scold a child who towers over you in height!
Stay in Touch with Tiffany
Tue, 10 February 2015
A national TV appearance less than one year into blogging?! Stephanie O'Dea's path to success is not for the faint of heart! She 's gutsy! We love Stephanie's can-do attitude and her willingness to put herself out there.
As she says, "the worst that can happen is that you're ignored." This doesn't even consider that the BEST that can happen is pretty amazing! Hear Stephanie's encouraging story from newbie recipe blogger to cooking, blogging, and writing success.
One more thing....that bold move you've been contemplating? We think you should go for it!
Press play on the podcast player below to hear our interview with Stephanie O'Dea.
On the Podcast
01:10 - The Catalyst for Change
The Catalyst for Change
Stephanie's quest to make money online started out of necessity. In 2006, her two year-old daughter was often sick. Stephanie worked as a preschool teacher but was concerned that daycare might have been contributing to her daughter's illness. Regardless, she needed to figure out what was wrong, and felt that she needed to be home with her to do that.
When Stephanie quit her job, her husband was a bit concerned. Their budget didn't add up on his one income. Stephanie was determined to find a way to make money at home, so she began answering Craigslist ads and newspaper ads for work-at-home jobs. They were all scams.
On a happy note, Stephanie's daughter is now 10 years old and is happy and healthy! They discovered that she has celiac disease, which means that she's unable to process gluten. Now, Stephanie is a pro at finding and creating great gluten-free recipes for her family.
Stephanie landed a few freelance writing and editing gigs, and one of those gigs was with Blogher. Her eyes were opened to a community of women who were blogging, and some of those women were making really good money doing it!
At the end of 2007, during a late night talk, Stephanie and her husband mused about what she could do online. She joked that she didn't know about anything except "crockpotting", so maybe she could write about people who use their crock-pots every day.
That wine-infused, post-Christmas party conversation turned into a life-changing decision for Stephanie and her family. In 2008, she wrote a New Year's resolution to use her Crock-pot every single day of the year and write about it every single day.
How a Commitment to "Crockpotting" Became a Business
Stephanie admits that what she did for the year in 2008 would not be sustainable for her in the long-term, but at that time, she had a huge fire in her belly to prove to her hubby, herself, and others that she could do this and make something from nothing.
Stephanie woke up at 4 AM each day and wrote the recipe from the night before and published it live for her blog readers. Every afternoon or evening, she would try out a new recipe with her Crock-pot.
(Stephanie was so new to blogging that she didn't realize she could write and save posts a couple of days in advance!)
Stephanie is proud of the fact that she spent no money to get her business started. She used the domain crockpot365.blogspot.com because she didn't want to pay the $10 for a domain name. The only money she spent her first year of blogging was on groceries for her crockpot recipes.
Creating a Reason for Return Visitors
Stephanie's commitment to trying a new crockpot recipe every single day was crucial to her early success. She collected a group of loyal followers very early on who would check in with her daily to see what she was cooking.
At the time, Stephanie was using Feedburner and saw her subscriber number increase every day . The same commenters would appear on her blog daily, and they kept her going. Stephanie knew that her readers would miss her if she didn't post. She owed it to them to keep going, and she owed it to herself too. Stephanie wanted to prove to her 3 daughters that she could do this project on her own. She didn't need "Daddy" to swoop in and fix something. She showed her girls that if you put your mind to it, you can succeed.
SEO Strategies for Bloggers
Stephanie focused on SEO (search engine optimization) early on in her blogging career. She intentionally chose to name her site with the word "crockpot" instead of the correct, trademarked name "Crock-pot" because more people search for "crockpot" on Google.
Stephanie intentionally intermixes the terms crockpot and slow cooker throughout her writing to snag both of those search terms.
Despite her focus on SEO, Stephanie doesn't write in a way that is heavy on search terms. She writes the way she would write if she were just speaking to a friend or explaining a new recipe to her mom over the phone. Again, this is actually smart when it comes to SEO. The Googlebots are smart enough to know when you're being spammy and unnatural.
Stephanie focuses on tags with every blog post. She tags every recipe with gluten free and combines that with her name, with crockpot, slow cooker, with the type of meal such as main dish or side dish, and the contents of the meal such as chicken or beef. Again, Stephanie is letting Google know exactly what that blog post is about.
Having a 365-day project also meant that people often bookmarked Stephanie's site so that they could check back in later. They would link to her in the blogroll on their sidebar or follow her on Feedburner. The more people link to you or recommend you, the more search engine clout you get from Google. Stephanie used this tactic further by getting linked to on much larger sites, which Google weighs more heavily when determining where you fall in the search engine rankings.
What's the Worst that Could Happen?
We really admire Stephanie's gutsy, go-for-it attitude, and it's paid off in big ways for her! Stephanie says she's always been raised to think, "What's the worst that could happen?"
In terms of getting big publicity, Stephanie says the worst that could happen is that you're ignored, and that's it. How bad is that when you consider that the BEST that could happen is getting featured on a national TV show!
Stephanie shared with us her story of getting featured on the Rachel Ray show only months into her blogging career.
In February of her first year of slow cooking, Stephanie made a crock pot creme brulee and was blown away by how good it was. In the background, the Rachael Ray show was playing, and she saw a blurb in the ending credits asking, "want to be on our show?" with a link to the website.
Stephanie typed in the web address, filled out the form to apply to be on the show, and then.... she waited.
Stephanie laughs now at what a novice she was! She broke every etiquette rule in the book, using all caps and saying, "I AM THE BEST! I TOO CAN SHOW YOUR VIEWERS HOW TO MAKE THE PERFECT CREME BRULEE!"
She was so confident that she'd be accepted, so she sat in front of her computer and refreshed her email over and over again. Nothing happened...
A few weeks later, Stephanie was home with a sick, fussy preschooler when the phone rang with an Unknown Caller. Assuming it was a telemarketer, Stephanie answered with a grumpy, "hello?"
On the other end of the line was a lovely lady from the Rachael Ray show asking if she had time to talk. All of a sudden she had all the time in the world! This lady could hear her fussy child in the background and said, "You must be busy... I'll let you go...."
Panicking and knowing she couldn't let that nice lady go anywhere, Stephanie grabbed a can of Pillsbury frosting and a spoon and let that preschooler go crazy with it in the dry bathtub while she took the call.
The call went well, and Stephanie was able to explain how she could be helpful to Rachel Ray's audience. She flew out to New York City and was on the show!
That national TV appearance led to publishers contacting Stephanie regarding a cook book. A year later her first cook book came out, and it spent 6 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List!
When you compare the best and worst-case scenarios, just putting yourself out there in the hopes of getting a few "best cases" seems entirely worth it!
How to Leverage the Press
Stephanie has used her gutsy approach many times to be featured on large websites and earn additional TV spots. Amazingly enough, she does it through cold emails!
Stephanie simply says, "I think your readers would benefit from this, and I'm happy to provide this if you give me a byline and a link back to my site."
She's written for magazines, had recipes featured on Good Morning America, which were then picked up by abc.com, which was then picked up by the Huffington Post! So one big, gutsy move, can beget another!
Stephanie encourages bloggers to take any gig that equals more exposure, even if that gig doesn't pay. She says that beginning bloggers shouldn't worry too much about trying to monetize their sites, but instead provide value, make as many connections as possible, and the money will follow.
If you're not having any luck getting featured on larger websites, Stephanie suggests starting with your local newspaper. She tracked down the editor of her own local newspaper and said, "I'm a stay-at-home mom, and you should have a column for stay-at-home moms." She jokingly included the fact that making sure the bon bons are frozen only takes up a small fraction of her day, so what else would she and the other stay-at-home moms do with their time?
The editor loved her email and offered her a column! It was unpaid, but it gave Stephanie experience and a credit to her name.
Another confession? Despite all of her success, Stephanie still gets ignored constantly! She says that's ok too. Every ball does not have to get thrown back. Stephanie is on the lists for HARO, PRWire and RadioWire, so she often pitches herself 3-4 times per week. Often, she'll never hear back, but she gets to hone her skills, learn how to write in a more concise way, and someetimes, it totally works!
The Down Side to Blogging
Stephanie shares that money for sidebar ads and banner ads simply isn't there anymore. It can be disappointing when she's getting new visitors to her site each month, but her ad revenue continues to plummet. Many bloggers have struggled with this trend over the past few years.
Stephanie recommends getting out of that hole by diversifying your income and traffic streams. Never count on one thing only. "Figure out what you're good at and spin that into multiple streams of income."
The Mommy Blogger Next Door
Stephanie realized that on a day-to-day basis, most people view her as just a mom. They don't realize that she's making a full-time salary while working at home in her pajamas. She wanted other moms to be aware of the fact that they can make money online, so she started The Mommy Blogger Next Door Series.
Her first book in the series: Real Moms Making Real Money, Blogging at Home in Their Pajamas is an introduction to the series and includes case studies of Stephanie and other moms who have been successful online. Stephanie also shares all the tips and advice she wishes someone would have given her when she first started working online.
Advice for New Mom Bloggers
Stephanie's number one tip for new mom bloggers is that you shouldn't have to spend money upfront to be successful online. You don't need to hire a web designer or SEO guru to get started.
There are plenty of helpful women like Stephanie who are willing to share their advice, and it's not worth it to spend money on something when you're not sure that it's the path you will take long-term. Try things out, learn from others, and keep your wallet closed in the beginning!
Stephanie also shares encouraging words for moms who have babies at home and plenty of household responsibilities on their plate. "Cut yourself some slack and give yourself grace," she says.
"There are days when you will have more energy and days when you will not. There will be days when you have a colicky baby, and days when you will not. Do as much as you can, and then when you're done for the day... you're done for the day because there's always tomorrow."
Sarah and I are always curious to hear how other women are getting traffic to their site. Stephanie gave us the inside scoop!
Her #1 Traffic Driver continues to be Google.
If you're curious about what a national TV appearance can do for your blog, Stephanie shares those details too:
Now, on a month-to-month basis, Stephanie's slow cooker site gets anywhere from 1 million to 3 million pageviews per month.
Want even more insider info?
The Social Media Site you Shouldn't Ignore
For new bloggers, Stephanie recommends pouring time and energy into Google+. As she says, "Give Google what Google wants."
Google wants Google+ to be the new Facebook, so they're giving a lot of preference to content shared on the site.
(We have to give a shoutout to one of our listeners, Cheri of Orglamix.com because she also mentioned big traffic increases and sales any time she shares content on Google+)
Why Stephanie Still Flies Solo
Stephanie goes against all of the traditional advice of out-sourcing and hiring help. She does work with a few contractors on an as-needed basis, but she's never felt the need to grow so large that she can't just do everything herself. She would rather hold tight to the reigns than outsource and feel responsible if the job didn't pan out in the long term.
Stephanie watches, observes, makes thoughtful decisions, and refuses to let emotion or peer pressure lead.
Stephanie's Hilarious Mom Moment
Try explaining budgeting to a 13, 10, and 5 year-old, and you'll have Stephanie's hilarious mom moment! Press play on the podcast player to hear all the details!
Stay in Touch with Stephanie!
(There's a Mommy blogging tab in her header with a freebie for her subscribers on the tools she uses to build her site.)
Tue, 3 February 2015
Do you have a picture of your ideal business in your mind, but perhaps it feels impossible because you're a military spouse and you're constantly moving? Maybe your business feels out of reach because you have young children at home, and you feel called to stay at home and care for them. Maybe your business idea isn't out of the question if you just think outside of the box a bit!
Framing her ideal business in a new way is exactly what Melody Granger did when she started The Well-Organized Entrepreneur. She took an in-person, location-dependent organizing business and turned it into a business done completely online.
No longer did Melody have to start from scratch every time her family moved. No longer was she constantly searching for customers that she could reach. Now, Melody can work with clients who live anywhere in the world.
Are you intrigued? I know we were! Press play on the podcast player below to hear Melody's story, how she turned an in-person business into an online reality, and some great organization tips for any mom entrepreneur!
On the Podcast
01:40 - Organizing the Life She Wanted
Organizing the Life She Wanted
When Melody's girls were little, she was still working a traditional job. She hated having to balance work with the needs of her family. She felt guilty every time she asked off because her girls were sick or her family wanted to go out of town. She decided for herself, "I'm not doing this. This is not the life I want."
She started brainstorming and considering what she loved to do. She quickly realized that one of her favorite tasks was cleaning up messes! (Melody, would you like to come live at my house?!) From an early age, Melody remembers understanding the crucial link between our environments and our attitudes. Having the right space to work and live can make us more kind to another, more calm, and so much more.
Knowing that she didn't want to start a cleaning company, Melody started an organizing business instead. She quit her job, created a website, and people started calling her!
From In-Person Limits to Online Success
Melody successfully ran her in-person organizing business for seven years. However, during that time, her family moved to a new city, then a hurricane hit and they were forced to relocate once again.
She quickly became tired of starting over in each new location. Her light bulb moment happened when she realized that she was still able to connect with and help her old clients via phone. Why couldn't she help new clients in the same way?
Melody confessed that it was quite a hurdle to convince new customers that she could help them without being physically present. She would say, "let me just show you how this is going to work. " By giving initial consultations over Skype and having her clients make progress right away, she was able to prove to them that she could help from a distance.
How to Work with Customers in the Virtual Space
Sarah and I were both curious about what it actually looks like to help a client with a very physical problem, such as clutter, over Skype. Melody broke the process down for us.
Initial contact - Melody usually chats with her customers via email first. Often people have questions for her before they're ready to commit. She answers their questions and eases their initial fears.
Finding her Ideal Audience
Since so many individuals need help with organizing, how did Melody settle on entrepreneurs as her ideal audience?
Melody discovered her ideal audience by, essentially, becoming that target customer herself. She went through a time period when she was growing her online business, her husband had lost his job, and she was feeling overwhelmed. She was stressed, and not taking care of herself or her environment.
Then she had her light bulb moment. There were other people just like her, working at home, trying to organize both their personal lives and work lives, and they could use her help.
She had experience in organizing both corporate spaces and people's homes, and now she could merge those two concepts together to help people whose homes and workspaces were one and the same. Essentially, she could help people just like her!
2 Tips for Managing Your Day
To-Do List Trouble? Melody can Help!
As moms and entrepreneurs, we all have miles-long to-do lists! Sometimes, it feels impossible to get everything crossed off. While that may be true, Melody has a simple to-do list trick that can make your whole day feel better.
Tackle that project that is weighing your mind and body down first. You know the ones Melody is referring to : they keep crossing your mind, they worry you, there's stress around the task. Maybe there's a deadline attached, or the deadline you set has already passed.
Knock out this task first so you can get that negative, stressful energy off of your mind and body. Then, the rest of the to-do list doesn't feel so scary or stressful anymore!
After Melody tackles this one, most stressful task, she always feels relieved and wonders, "Why didn't I do that sooner?"
Marketing an Online Business
Melody shares 5 strategies that help her to market and grow her business.
Why Melody Takes the Long View
Sometimes, it can feel discouraging to spend a lot of time on a guest post and see little results initially. Maybe we even get the chance to do a TV spot, but again, customers aren't knocking on our door.
Melody takes the long view and believes that being omnipresent pays off in the long run. The more people see her name and run across her, the more they'll remember her when they are ready to hire someone to help them get organized.
Melody remembers one such example where the long view made all the difference. She had the opportunity to appear on the local news a few years ago. A year or two later, Melody received a phone call from someone who saw her on the news. That one phone call turned into one of her biggest income generators for the next year.
As entrepreneurs, we just never know where our next customer may come from. Even when it seems like our efforts aren't paying off, Melody says, "people are seeing you. They may not be responding immediately, but it will happen. Give it time."
Why the Right Mentality Makes all the Difference
Speaking of growing a business, Melody shared a great tip that we might not consider as entrepreneurs. Our mindset can make a huge difference in our business.
Melody shared about a time when she was running her business out of desperation. It was a few years ago, and she wasn't happy. People could sense that she wasn't happy or at peace about things, and they could also sense that she was being pushy!
Now, Melody is at a place in her business where she's having fun, she's happy, and she's at peace. Knowing that, it's much easier for her to market herself and her business and be more successful.
(I never considered how working from that place of desperation, although it could be a great motivator, might make us act and communicate in ways that our potential customers don't relate to. This is a great point for all of us to examine our motives in business and the attitude we're showing to the world as a result.)
Melody's Funny Mom Moments
Life with two teenage girls sounds crazy and fun at the same time. Listen to hear what Melody's girls do to keep her laughing!
Stay in Touch with Melody