Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

3,363 e-book downloads in one day?!  Learn step by step how to make your e-book sale go viral - including the secret power of Facebook offers, involving your audience.

Today is an exciting day for us! It’s launch Day of the Brilliant Business Planner! We released our related e-book, Time Management Mama: Making Use of the Margins to Pursue Your Passions, a week earlier in the Amazon kindle store. We tried something a little different on the day we released our kindle book, we offered it for free for one day only. Listen in to hear how that went!

On the Podcast

0:45 – Why we needed a planner to track our personal and business life
2:40 – Launching our e-book in the Amazon kindle store
3:14 – How many free downloads of our book?
3:30 – How Price and Timing factored in
4:30 – Involving our audience
5:30 – Keeping our audience updated
6:54 – Facebook Offers - Why they're so powerful
9:40 – The Role Key Influencers played
11:17 – The Results of  our Free Offer

Why we needed a planner to track our personal and business life

We created a planner in order to have a place to track both our personal lives as well as our business plans and results. Our personal planners were becoming a scribbled mess of business deadlines and future plans. Plus we needed a planner that could help us organize our blog deadlines as well as strategize for our Etsy shop and products.  Our Brilliant Business Planner hits the mark on all accounts because we designed it ourselves!

Launching our e-book in the Amazon kindle store

It was a spur of the moment decision to offer Time Management Mama for free in the Amazon kindle store, but once we made the decision, we just went with it!

How many free downloads of our book?

2,363 people downloaded our book for free! That number exceeded our expectations!  (To give you some context, we had 1,100 Facebook fans when we released our book.)

Top Factors Influencing the Number of Downloads

Price and Timing

The fact that the book was free, and only free for a limited amount of time was obviously a key reason for the number of downloads. The traction would not have been there without the free price tag plus the one day only limited time offer. These factors were highly motivating.  People who liked the book wanted to make sure their friends snagged the deal before it was too late.

Involving our audience

In the course of writing our book, we polled our audience for their best tips and included as many as we could in Time Management Mama. For each tip we included in the book, we linked to the tip giver's website or shop. Our audience felt involved and connected with our book project and wanted to share their name in print with their friends.

Keeping our audience updated

Once we saw that our free book offer was gaining momentum, we kept our audience updated as to how the free day was going. We told them our stats through Facebook posts, Instagram photos and Emails. People were excited with us and continued to share.  We sent one final email at 10 PM on launch day letting everyone know that it might be possible to hit 2,000 downloads!  We thanked them for sharing and once again, got them really excited to see what would happen.

Using a Facebook offer

Beth Anne set up a Facebook offer that really added some traction to our free day. The offer feature is in the same place where you add any Facebook post to your page.

Create your offer, then select the start and end date. The feature allows people to claim the offer. When they claimed the offer, we had it take them to Time Management Mama on Amazon. The claimed offer shows up in your Facebook notifications. If you claim the offer, Facebook will send you an email to remind you to go grab it before it expires!

The Facebook offer reached 5,202 people (we paid $13 to boost the offer), had 59 likes, 47 shares, and 179 people claimed the offer. Our audience really got involved and shared! The social proof factor was also huge – when someone claims an offer, their Facebook friends then see the offer in their newsfeed showing them which of their Facebook friends have also claimed the offer.  When people see a popular offer, they often don't want to miss out.

The Role Key Influencers Played

The day before, we emailed some key influencers and gave them a copy of our PDF book for free. We also mentioned that it would be free in the kindle store the next day if they were interested in reading it in that format. The key influencers were people we had previously interviewed on our podcast, people we wanted to say thank you to. Several of these influencers posted on their blogs that our book was free which we were very appreciative of. Several others shared our news on social media.

Results of the free offer

Some of the long term results of our decision to give Time Management Mama away for free on launch day are yet to be seen. The number of downloads did significantly help our ranking on amazon in the short term, especially in the highly competitive category of time management.

After our free day, Time Management Mama moved to the paid kindle store and our rankings were very good. At one point we were #6 in a time management category and reached #1 in top new releases for time management.

Another great advantage of our free day is that a lot of people have our book in their hands! Our book contains various links back to us and to our Brilliant Business Planner, so the potential for new podcast listeners and planner purchasers is high.

Note:  In order to offer the book for free, we had to be part of KDP select for a 90 day term.  Curious to check out Time Management Mama? You can find it in the kindle store.

Does our planner sound like just what you need to run your home and business? Learn more about our planner here.

What do you think?  Are you ready to rock it in the Kindle store?  What strategies have you used to market your ebook?  

-Sarah and Beth Anne

Direct download: Episode208720Book20and20Planner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:30am EST

Are you burned out, overwhelmed, and not sure of where to start or what to do next?  Learn great stress management tips from Kristen Brown.  Learn how to figure out what to focus on next, how to clear your schedule to make time for what matters most, and how to be happy.  Kristen's own story is truly touching.  Hear the full interview at

Do you need a little encouragement? How about some great advice on going from overwhelmed to figuring out what to prioritize next?Maybe you're stressed because your family isn't on board with your great big dreams.  Whatever the reason for your extra stress and strain, Kristen Brown offers excellent advice on how to manage stress as an entrepreneur. Creator of The Happy Hour EffectKristen Brown is a best-selling author and speaker who walks us through ways to deal with some of the pitfalls we mom entrepreneurs face each day!

On The Podcast

04:08 - Kristen’s bittersweet story
06:10 - What is her business all about?
07:15 - Kristen’s typical day
09:15 - Prioritizing vs. Busy
11:35 - The entrepreneurial mindset
14:48 - How to get loved ones on board
16:44 - Stress management tips
18:21 - Landing guest appearances
21:13 - Becoming a great speaker
22:27 - What does the happy hour effect mean?
26:50 - Power pees
28:17 - Kristen’s first speaking gig
30:41 - Happy hour actually started as a failure
35:00 - A true entrepreneur defined
35:40 - Funny mom moment with Magnum PI!

Kristen’s Bittersweet Story

In 2007, Kristen was unexpectedly widowed. At that time she was in a demanding corporate leadership role, had a 10 month-old baby, and was understandably stressed to the max. It took Kristen a while to figure out her new normal and get re-grounded. She knew she needed to make a change from corporate America, and she realized she needed to do something that made her happy. So in 2009 Kristen made the leap and started The Happy Hour Effect.

What is her business all about?

Kristen is a podcaster, speaker, and best-selling author who helps people stress less and boost results. She helps people make progress on the things that are most important to them. Kristen says there is no point being busy doing things that are not important to you. Her goal is to help people re-shift their life so that the things that are most important to them take top priority.

Kristen’s typical day

The first thing Kristen does each day is to make sure she is focused on the tasks that will bring her business. The majority of her income comes from speaking engagements. So she evaluates each activity by asking “How is this thing going to bring me income?”

As a solo parent and entrepreneur every dollar matters. This isn’t a hobby; it’s a business. (We agree!) Next she moves on to what other people want from her.

Prioritizing vs. Busy

Take a look at your calendar. How many things on your calendar are you doing out of guilt or because people expect you to? Get those things off your calendar. When you say yes to others, you’re saying no to yourself and your family.

Create a life plan. Begin by writing down everything from your calendar and to do list, write it all down so that you can see it all visually. Cross out the things that are not critical to your families’ health, wellness, and happiness.

The entrepreneurial mindset

Entrepreneurs often fall into the trap of thinking, "I have to do everything and be everything." In order to have an entrepreneurial mindset, you need to get your life aligned to your business. To align your life, make sure you have your loved ones on board and have the right support network outside your loved ones. Sometimes loved ones don’t “get” what we are doing, so having people in your life who do “get” what you are doing is so important.

How to get loved ones on board

In order to get loved ones on board with your entrepreneurial dreams, you need to show them how it will benefit them. Show your loved one that what they appreciate about your current life will continue, that you will not neglect your current responsibilities or role in the family. It will also help to get some quick wins to prove that you have a viable business idea. Change can be stressful, so you have to bring them along with you slowly.

Stress management tips

As women we often give to others first and sometimes we forget to do fun stuff for ourselves. Put yourself on your calendar. Pencil in some time that is reserved for you that cannot be booked with someone else’s needs.

Landing guest appearances

Kristen started small when it came to landing television guest appearances. She had to prove that she could entertain a live audience, and started on a small scale initially. She began with her local market, and gradually built up credibility. The small venues were great practice. Kristen also advises us to be ok with being a story teller and ok with sharing your personal story with others. Your personal story differentiates you from others and builds trust.

Becoming a great speaker

Kristen has always been a talker, but she does get nervous before a speaking engagement, and has had to learn to master her mindset and control her nerves. One of the best steps she took to becoming a better speaker was joining the National Speakers Association which has given her the best possible education on becoming a great speaker.

What does the happy hour effect mean?

When you go to happy hour, there is a marked shift in your mindset, you release the stress of the day and you connect with others on a personal level. You also tend to dream big and get creative. The Happy Hour Effect is about weaving that mindset shift into your everyday. It’s about having peace in the midst of trouble and stress. To get to that place mentally, first begin by being aware of what you juggle in the first place. The next step is to know what is sucking your energy and what is making you happy. Be aware of where you are at the current moment instead of always thinking about what’s next. Create mindful moments throughout the day and course correct if you get off track.

Power pees

Kristen recommends having power pees (as in going to the bathroom!). When you are alone in the bathroom, think about, “What is my mood, how do I feel, what do I need to do to get back on track?” It may be the only quiet moment in your day, so take advantage of it!

Kristen’s first speaking gig

Her first speaking gig was at a woman’s expo in a small city next to her hometown. They asked her to do a breakout session, which had about 15 attendees. Kristen began to tell her story and broke down crying. She kept pressing on, and finally got through her talk. Afterwards everyone came up and thanked her for being so honest, and shared their personal stories with her. That was the moment she knew that if she could keep her emotions in check that she wanted to continue speaking in order to help others.

Kristen Brown went from burned out and overwhelmed at a corporate job to a happy, well-balanced entrepreneur.  Host of The Happy Hour Effect , she'll teach you how to manage stress.

Happy hour actually started as a failure!

Kristen’s company actually started out as a health supplement product, but after she had already sunk in lots of money, she realized it required too much funds to move forward! Kristen was left with lots of unusable product and a big business loan with no way to pay it off. This failure was the beginning of The Happy Hour Effect. Slowly it evolved into helping other people manage stress without a health supplement. Kristen firmly believes that right when you are about to give up is when the miracle is about to happen. You never know when your big break will hit. Keep going. It will work, it just may take a few iterations.

A true entrepreneur defined

A true entrepreneur, compared to a hobbyist, is resilient through setbacks and manages to keep on going.  (Amen sister!  We know all of you are true entrepreneurs!  Don't give up!  You've got this!)

Funny mom moment with Magnum PI!

Do you have the visual yet?  (I certainly do!)

Find Kristen

The Happy Hour Effect

Kristen’s Books

The Happy Hour Effect: 12 Tips to Minimize Stress and Maximize Life
The Best Worst Thing

(Note- these are our Amazon affiliate links.)


Direct download: Episode208620Kristen20Brown20final_mixdown202.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

Do you have a great big business dream but stress, lack of knowledge, or finances are standing in your way?  Hear from Lakesha Cole.  As a Marine Corps spouse, she grew her online children's boutique successfully during 3 deployments and 3 PCS including one to Japan!  You can absolutely do this.  Click to hear the  full interview.  |

Do you have a great big business idea, but feel too busy or stressed to get started on it? Maybe you're afraid of how much it might cost to get started, and your bank account isn't exactly overflowing! I have a feeling you're about to get that extra boost of encouragement you need to get moving on your big dream! Lakesha Cole is a military spouse who started her business with $500, and grew it through 3 deployments and a move across the world. No - success didn't happen overnight, but with determination, listening and connecting to her customers, and making wise financial decisions, Lakesha now has a successful children's boutique at  Learn how to build a boutique as a military spouse, and use that knowledge to build your business no matter what challenges you face!

On the Podcast

02:04 - The Start of a Beautiful Boutique
04:14 - Connecting with Customers
05:18 - Why You Should Sell at Live Events
06:28 - Tips for Attending Trade Shows
08:34 - Start-Up Funds for a Boutique Business
10:40 - Product Photography
11:10 - Subscription Boxes for Girls
12:45 - The Ins and Outs of Selling at a Military Exchange
17:54 - An International Shipping Solution
19:54 - Lessons Learned from Doing Business Overseas
21:23 - The Milspousepreneur Community
23:33 - How She Does It
25:00 - Lakesha's Favorite Business Tool
25:41 - A Feature on the Today Show
26:18 - Winning Military Spouse of the Year
27:11 - Lakesha's Most Important Role
27:59 - 3 Ways to Interact with Customers to Grow Your Business
30:24 - Lakesha's Adorable Mom Moment

Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear her story. Then, get to work on making your dream a reality!

The Start of a Beautiful Boutique

Years ago, Lakesha pursued a career in journalism. She worked for both local governments and the Federal government as a military spouse whose duty station changed regularly. As a military spouse, it's difficult to keep moving forward with your career. It's not always portable, and Lakesha finally decided that she wanted something that was her own.

She came up with the idea of starting an online boutique about 6 years ago. In 2009, she began her business selling women's apparel. In 2011, with her five year-old daughter as her inspiration, she branched out into children's apparel. She wanted to introduce her daughter to entrepreneurship from an early age, and Kayley is very involved in their business. She helps them choose products, colors, and patterns for the boutique.  After Lakesha created her website in 2009, she started selling to friends and family, and initially her business grew by word of mouth.

Connecting with Customers

With so many online stores to choose from, how did Lakesha set herself apart with SheSwank?

Early on, she says that connecting with her customers was so key. Lakesha used her knowledge of what was trending or popular to connect her customers with something stylish, but also got to know her customers enough to point them to an item that was really just for them. Whether it was a dress for a first birthday party or a special necklace for a military homecoming, that personal touch was so key to growing her business.

Why You Should Sell at Live Events

It might sound counterintuitive to sell at live events if your main business model involves an online boutique, but Lakesha has used craft shows, trade shows, and vendor fairs to continue to connect with customers and conduct market research.

There are 3 great reasons to attend live events, no matter what your revenue source is:

  1. Connect with local customers.
  2. Market Research. Determine what customers want and what's popular. It's so valuable to watch a potential customer look at your entire collection of products and notice what they gravitate towards.
  3. Pricing Research. At live events you have the luxury of finding out why someone didn't buy. Was the price too high? What can the market bear? You may not know whether the style or price is the barrier unless you interact with your customers in person.

Tips for Attending Trade Shows

For anyone who has a business in fashion, apparel, or shoes, Lakesha recommends that you attend the Magic Trade Show in Las Vegas. 

It's the "who's who" of fashion, with everything from the fabric you need to produce product to finished products that you can buy for your shop. All the best designers are there. Even if you're not in a position to buy, it's a great opportunity to network and to see what's trending in your industry. Staying on top of trends is so important for anyone in retail. Did you know that Magic is free to attend if you're a qualified buyer? How cool is that?!

Is it possible to buy in small quantities at such a big trade show?

Lakesha says that purchase requirements really vary from designer to designer. You just have to find the ones who will work with you. She didn't start buying in large quantities until just 2 years ago. She sought indie designers who didn't mind selling smaller quantities to her so she could see if her customer base liked it. Then she would develop a personal agreement of how she would buy in larger quantities from the designer.

Lakesha encourages other new entrepreneurs: "Don't discount yourself as the little man." Take a year to explore and see how these transactions happen and then next year come back with a plan for how you can participate in the buying process.

Start-Up Funds for a Boutique Business

Starting a boutique business from scratch sounds like it could be expensive. Did it take a lot of funds for Lakesha to acquire her first round of inventory?

Lakesha started her business with a $500 investment from her husband's E-6 paycheck. She started small so she could test out her plan before she really invested a ton of money into the idea.

Lakesha purchased her domain name and website template, and hired someone to design the logo. Then she hopped in her car in Oceanside, CA and drove north to the garment district in L.A. She walked the garment district for hours trying to figure out which shop she would buy from and who would allow her to purchase the largest amount of merchandise for the least amount of money.
She went to different show rooms and picked out the merchandise she wanted to start with. She started with just 10 different items and 60 total pieces of merchandise to sell. Once she sold that merchandise she went back for more. Then she gradually built up her inventory.

That initial investment of $500 has paid off in a big way!

Product Photography

Lakesha has some beautiful product photos on her site. She got them in 2 ways:

  1. She takes her own photos and learns as much as she can about product photography
  2. She has great vendors who take great product photos and often share their images with her so she can use them on her site. (What a cool idea! It's a win-win since they know their products will sell so much better if they are represented with excellent photos.)

Subscription Boxes for Girls

How did Lakesha come up with the idea to do a fashion accessory subscription box for girls?
Once again, connecting with her customers was key to growing her business in this way. Lakesha came up with the idea after doing market research with their in-store customers. (SheSwank is a vendor at the Exchange in Okinawa Japan.)

SheSwank customers wanted to buy more accessories at a discounted rate. They wanted more bundle deals. A subscription box allows SheSwank to provide this service while also being a ton of fun and allowing them to reach out to new customers who may only want to shop via mail or who simply can't resist the subscription box model.

Lakesha's 9 year-old daughter came up with the name, and the OMG box was born. It's a curated accessory box for girls, and customers can purchase the box just once or have it delivered to their home monthly. It's fun, catchy, and 2 months in, the subscription box model is doing really well.

Lakesha's daughter says, "It's like it's your birthday every month!"

The Ins and Outs of Selling at a Military Exchange

Lakesha admits that getting approved to sell at a military exchange was quite a lengthy process. SheSwank is a vendor at the Army and Air Force Exchange in Okinawa, Japan.

Before we dig in, here's a little vocab for all of the non-military readers and listeners:

Exchange - A military exchange, whether it's Marine Corps, Air Force, or any branch of service is essentially a department store on the base. Only those individuals with a valid military ID can get into base and shop at the exchange. Some exchanges are huge whereas others are quite small. Lakesha says that the exchange in Okinawa has one main section for all of their regular products (i.e. electronics, home and bath, clothing, and more.) and the vendor area is in a nearby annex.

PCS - Permanent Change of Station. This is when your military man or woman gets orders to report to a different duty station. So it involves moving - sometimes across the country and sometimes across the world.

So how was Lakesha able to sell in the exchange on base?

She got in touch with the exchange about 6 months before PCSing (moving) to Okinawa.  The response from the exchange was a little slow. There are a lot of rules and regulations that come along with a military dependent doing business at the exchange. Currently there are just 3 vendors at the Okinawa exchange who are milspouses.

They each have a short term vendor contract and compete for their space monthly. Lakesha has been selling with the exchange almost 2 years. It's been great for her business, and she's able bring in products that the customers in Okinawa can't get anywhere else. Staffing for a brick and mortar location can be tricky, because as soon as Lakesha gets the perfect employee they get orders to move somewhere else. She has a high rotation rate for this reason.

Does every exchange allow outside vendors to sell there?

No. There tend to be less vendor opportunities on Marine Corps bases and more with either Army or Air Force Exchanges.
Despite the lengthy process and hurdles to sell at the exchange, Lakesha says that is has been crucial to her business growth. When you move overseas there are many restrictions on conducting business such as receiving your good and shipping your goods. Lakesha was faced with the question: Do I completely shut down my business altogether or is there a way I can make this work? Partnering with the exchange was her way of making it work!

An International Shipping Solution

In terms of fulfilling orders within Japan, Lakesha can use FedEx and Japan Post. They are relatively efficient for shipping.
For stateside orders, Lakesha uses an e-fulfillment service to pack and ship orders in the U.S. Did you know that there are companies all over the country whose role is to store your products and ship them for you? It's like a mini distribution center.

How to Find an E-fulfillment Company

Lakesha connected with her business mentor. She reached a point in her business where she had to decide if she'd flatline or if she was going to keep growing. He suggested that she use an e-fulfillment center to streamline her business.  He gave her a few leads, and she did some Google searches. She interviewed 3-4 centers and picked out the one that was going to work best for her business.

Lessons Learned from Doing Business Overseas

Lakesha advises other entrepreneurs who are planning a move overseas to stock up on inventory ahead of time. She didn't realize how restrictive it would be to operate a business in Japan, when in fact, it changed everything.  Looking back, Lakesha can see the positives to her situation because she's gained experience in dealing with customs, importing taxes, and negotiating in different currencies.

The Milspousepreneur Community

When Lakesha moved to Okinawa, she found a lack of community that encouraged entrepreneurs. She missed going to her local chamber events and entrepreneur meet-up groups. She decided that if it didn't exist, she would create that space for herself. The Milspousepreneur Community was born.

Lakesha quickly realized that she wasn't the only entrepreneur who needed a network and help. In their milspousepreneur Facebook group everyone can ask their questions and get feedback and advice from each other. Community is so key when it comes to growing a business!

Lakesha Cole grew an online boutique with just $500.  Learn her tips for connecting with customers so you can do it too.

How She Does It

Lakesha says that she's learned not to beat herself up over not being able to get everything done all the time. "So when people ask me, "How do I balance it all?" Short Answer is: I don't."

She likes to create a schedule that breaks her responsibilities down into different days. In this way, she does what she can when she can. For example, on Monday she may choose to be fully Mom, on Tuesday she may work on her website, and on Wednesday she'll attend networking events.

Lakesha confesses that she used to try to figure out how to get every single thing done every minute of every single day. It's just not possible. She always tells moms, "Cut yourself some slack. Give yourself a break when needed. If you don't finish it today, it will be right there waiting for you tomorrow."

Great advice, Lakesha! None of us can do it all!

Lakesha's Favorite Business Tool

Lakesha loves Evernote. She can type up her notes if she has a blog post in mind. If she's out and about and sees something that inspires her, she takes a picture, writes her notes, and keeps everything in her electronic notebook.

A Feature on the Today Show

Lakesha was invited on the today show with Kathy Lee and Hoda as a result of winning the Milspouse of the year award Sponsored by Armed Forces Insurance.  On the show, she was able to share about life as a military family and also showcase some of the products in her store.

Winning Military Spouse of the Year

Lakesha was nominated for the award by her husband. The nominees go through a selection process that includes a peer-to-peer voting round. Then some of the senior leadership spouses and victory media staff review each nominee. Finally, a board selects the winner.
Lakesha says her husband is super supportive. She would not have been able to accomplish any of this without having him in her corner. He's her biggest cheerleader.

Lakesha's Most Important Role

When we asked Lakesha what accomplishment she's most proud of, she said hands down it's being a mom. She has 2 daughters. Kayley is 9 years old and baby Kirby is 8 months old. She loves being a mom, and being able to fulfill that role the best way she knows how and still be able to pursue her business and dreams. Somehow, it all works together!

3 Ways to Interact with Customers to Grow Your Business

Social media is important for business growth, but what you do when you're on social media can make all the difference. But for Lakesha social media is all about engaging, equipping, and empowering her customers. Forbes magazine recently discussed the importance of engaging with your fans. You need to give your fans the gift of you. Listen to what they're telling you.

  1. Engage. By talking with your fans, and listening to what they have to say.
  2. Equip. Give them an amazing product, incredible service, or be an expert in your field so you equip them with a reason to talk about you!
  3. Empower. Give your customers and fans easy ways to give feedback on your products and services. Also give them easy ways to talk about you and share you with others.

Lakesha loves to connect with her customers on Facebook and Instagram.  (Many retail businesses are finding that Instagram is the key to customer growth these days.)

Lakesha's Adorable Mom Moment

Tune in to hear about a great family moment Lakesha had recently.

Stay in Touch with Lakesha!
Facebook: SheSwank
Instagram: @SheSwank

Direct download: Episode208520Lakesha20Cole_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST

I've been meaning to get a blog tribe together for a while.  Learning about Chelsea's experience has pushed me over the edge.  Gotta do it!  |  How to Build Your Tribe with Chelsea Coulston

If you've been online for more than a few seconds, you've probably heard the phrase "build your tribe".  These days, it seems like everyone is talking about it.  Last summer, Beachbody fitness pro Chalene Johnson even started a podcast around the topic!  But what does it really mean?  (Prior to talking to Chelsea, I would have assumed that eating yak butter and going to a Crossfit gym were part of the package ... I couldn't have been more wrong!)  Building your tribe is all about finding like-minded people who will support you in your business while you support them in theirs.

So how do you create an incredible community of women who will encourage you and help you to grow?  What do you do once you've assembled?  How can you really leverage the strengths that you each bring to the table?

After listening to our interview with Chelsea Coulston of, I hope you'll take a deep breath and realize that building your tribe is much easier and more enjoyable than you  might have guessed.  You can aboslutely do this!  And your business is counting on you to take the next step.

On the Podcast

01:44 - How a Boat + a Baby Led to a Blog
03:38 - How to Build Your Tribe
06:59 - How to Structure your Tribe
08:23 - The Perfect Number for a Thriving Community
09:44 - Why Varying Strengths = Success
11:42 - Zero Deadbeats?!  What's Their Secret?
14:12 - How to Connect with your People
16:05 - Tribe-Building Tips
17:55 - So Many Ways to Collaborate
19:34 - 3 Great Tools for Online Business
21:08 - The Never-Ending Struggle for Balance!
22:42 - 2 Important Ways to Connect and Grow
23:47 - Chelsea's Adorable Mom Moment

Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear the Full Interview


How a Boat + a Baby Led to a Blog

When Chelsea and her Navy husband moved to San Diego in 2012, their daughter Peyton was just 6 weeks old.  A week after moving in, Chelsea's husband was underway on his new ship.  So with a new house, a new baby, and no one around to lend support, Chelsea made it her mission to turn her house into a home base for her family.  Her blog, was born.

As a military family who's gearing up for their 6th move in recent years, Chelsea struggles to find ways to make their rentals feel homey.  When you get lost in the world of Pinterest and blogs, it's easy to get discouraged because there are so many great projects and beautiful ideas that you wish you could implement in your own home.

Chelsea's mission to turn even the most temporary living space into a beautiful home has helped so many other people who are in the same situation.  She gets emails all the time from folks who move a lot or have to live in a rental for one reason or another, and they're so thankful to have ideas that work for their specific situations.

How to Build Your Tribe

As Chelsea started learning how to grow her blog, she started watching Google hangouts with Becky Farrant of

Becky shared about how crucial tribes were to her success online.  A year after blogging, Chelsea reached out to a blogging friend of hers - April Hoff of  They started an annual event called their summer celebration, and right after that Chelsea asked if April would be interested in "going in with her" on creating a tribe.

April and Chelsea both reached out to 3 other bloggers each to see if they'd be interested.  Every single one of them said yes, so they hopped on Facebook and created their little tribe of 8 bloggers.

Were they all friends ahead of time?

Nope!  A few of the bloggers were women that Chelsea or April had collaborated with before, but many were just people that they admired and wanted to connect with.

Chelsea recommends reaching out to someone who's audience size is similar to yours, but other than that, just pick women who do work that you admire.  Pick someone who may bring different strengths to the table.

How to Structure your Tribe

Chelsea's tribe keeps the structure really relaxed.  Since it's small, and they all admire each other's work, there's genuine connection that happens in the group.  They help each other, collaborate, and give advice.

Other than the more organic ways that they support each other, each week someone in the group starts a few quick threads for social sharing.  They create one thread for Google+, one for Facebook, one for Pinterest, etc.  Everyone shares links on that thread for what they're doing that week, and as the week goes on they share each other's content on social media to help promote one another.  Once you schedule out those posts to share, just hit the like button for that comment on the thread to show that you've shared or scheduled the post.

Chelsea says this method is a great way to share excellent content other than you're own, and since the group is small and selective, everyone in it puts out phenomenal content.  You never have to worry about what you're sharing with your readers.

If you miss a week of sharing or promoting others' content, it's not a big deal.  No one in the group is there to police the others.

The Perfect Number for a Thriving Community

While the group started out with 8 women, they now have 12 members. Chelsea feels that if the group were any bigger than 12, it would be hard to keep up with the promoting.  10 was also a great number for a group, especially for collaborations.  Now, though, with 12, they can still do a great group project even if a few ladies aren't available to participate.

How do you decide who gets in?

As the tribe has grown, they all make the decision to add new members together.  Someone in the group will say, "hey do you know this lady from this site, she's awesome, what do you think about adding her to the group?" Then they all decide, "yes she's great - bring her in."

Again, making decisions as a group and keeping the group small has helped to ensure that every member is an excellent blogger and puts out content that they all feel good about sharing.

Why Varying Strengths = Success

Chelsea shared that this particular group of women is her very favorite group that she's ever been a part of.  Each person is an expert in their own right, so there's always someone who has an answer to your question.

Some women are awesome at e-books.  Others are great at storytelling and building their brand.  And Chelsea shares that one blogger is simply fantastic at photos and always shares what lens she's using and what techniques work best for her.

There are so many little decisions that come up in blogging such as "how much should I charge for this?" or "should I really have a media kit?"  The other women are there to lend their experience and expertise to help the others.

Through their incredible group, these twelve women have become true friends.  Half of them attended the Haven Conference last year, and they hung out with each other virtually the whole time!  It's been incredible for them to take the relationships offline.

Zero Deadbeats?!  What's Their Secret?

Sarah and I were both curious about how to handle things if one member of the group wasn't pulling their weight.  We were surprised when Chelsea shared that this has never been a problem in their tight-knit group.  So what's their secret?

The group is very relaxed.  The expectations aren't super high for each person. It's a very positive, supportive group, and they have the mentality of, "if you need us, we're here."

Most of  the tribe members are moms, and they each have peaks and valleys in their lives.  They all completely understand if someone has to step away from blogging or the group for a bit.  They don't look at the group in terms of being incredibly strict and, "what are you doing for me lately" kind of mentality.

Chelsea has been part of other communities that were there strictly for promoting each others' content.  Sometimes it's just too difficult to keep up.

Chelsea's advice if you're feeling overwhelmed with a particular tribe is to just be upfront and honest and say, "I really like you guys but I can't keep up with the promoting" and you can just politely exit from the group.  "Not every group will be the right fit for you."

How to Connect with your People

Facebook is the primary way that Chelsea connects with her 12-person tribe.  It's just easier to ask questions and keep the conversation going in a private group there.

However, she's also part of a smaller group with only 3 people, and they do Google Hangouts quite often.  They decide on a topic for the week such as affiliate sales, photography, or monetizing their sites.  Then they each bring notes and questions to the hangout to discuss.  A lot more information can get passed through conversation in a hangout.

Finally, Chelsea was able to connect with some of her people at conferences.  It's so fun to be able to meet blogging friends in real life and talk about what's going on with their kids, their lives, and build that friendship offline.

Build your Tribe:  Chelsea follows Chalene Johnson's advice to grow her business online.  |

Tribe-Building Tips

What are best ways to build your tribe?  Chelsea shares 4 great tips.

  • Find people you admire.  Find those women who are in the same niche, perhaps, but don't do things exactly like you do.  Find women who continuously put out great content that you'd have no problem sharing or promoting.
  • Find people who different skill sets and strengths.  If you're awesome at email marketing, you may want to find someone who's great at photography, or someone else who's an amazing writer.  You will learn so much more by finding women with varying strengths and skills to bring to the table.
  • Look for Similar Size.  Chelsea recommends that you pick people who are about the same size as you.  Everyone should be able to pull their weight and bring something to the table
  • Step outside your comfort zone.  There are awesome bloggers you're not working with at the moment.  Just introduce yourself and say "Hey I think you're great.  I've been reading your blog for a while and I really admire what you're doing.  Would you be interested in joining in my tribe so we can work together?  I can learn a lot from you."

Chelsea says that "everyone loves to have a group and belong somewhere."  (So true!)

So Many Ways to Collaborate

Chelsea's tribe works together in so many ways.  Below are just a few examples.  Hopefully they'll get you thinking about the ways that you and your tribe can grow together!

  • Group Home Tours and Online Events.  Chelsea's tribe teams up each spring to do a spring home tour.  They link back to each other's blogs, so they each see a huge boost in visitors from working together.  Plus their readers are way more excited to see 10 or 12 great homes instead of just 1.
  • Group Giveaways. It's easy to pull together for a big prize when there are 10 or more bloggers involved, plus the word spreads much faster.
  • Promote New Products.  If someone in the group creates a new product, the rest of the tribe cheers them on, shouts it from the mountains, and even lets that person take over their blog for a day to get the word out.
  • Share Important Sponsored Content.  The same is true for important sponsored content.  They want that blogger to be successful so the tribe does whatever they can to promote their work.

When you create a tribe built on genuine friendship and connection, everyone is happy for what everyone else is doing.  The promotion and cheering each other on just comes naturally!

3 Great Tools for Online Business

  1. MailChimp.  For growing her email list and connecting with her readers.
  2.  Abby of first told Chelsea about Fizzle, and she likes to watch their videos and get good business advice from them.
  3. Elite Blogging Academy.  Chelsea says that Ruth Soukup's flagship program has some good resources as well.  (Grab more blogging advice from Ruth here.)

Blogging could be a 24 hr per day job if you allow it to be. Chelsea thinks that if she had more tools she might spend too much time on her site!

The Never-Ending Struggle for Balance

Chelsea confesses that balance is always a work in progress in her house.  (We hear you, sister!)

Chelsea often has days when she's up until 1 AM writing blog posts.  She wishes she could be someone who has blog posts scheduled out weeks in advance so she'd feel on top of things but she tends to fly by the seat of her pants.  She thinks to herself, "One day when Peyton is in preschool I'll be on top of things," but in reality, she's not sure that will ever happen for her!

Sometimes she comes up with a great idea for a blog post at 5 PM, so she's scrambling to find some kind of sunlight to take a photo so she can get her post up the next day.  That's reality for Chelsea!  (Well, clearly it still works, because Chelsea's blog is fantastic!  No need to feel guilty for letting inspiration guide you.)

2 Important Ways to Connect and Grow

  1. Collaborate with other bloggers. Chelsea says that genuine relationships really help you to grow your blog. When it comes to building relationships, it's not about leaving a comment that says, "hey come back and read my blog." It's about getting to know them, and then when they see your post on Facebook they're thinking, "Hey that's Chelsea.  I know her. I want to share her great project."  When you build relationships, you ultimately build your readership because a chain of new eyeballs start to see your stuff.
  2. Grow your email list. Again, that email list truly comes back to relationships. It's important to build a relationship with your readers and have a consistent way to stay in touch.  Building your email list allows you to do that.

Community makes the difference in the online world.  Learn how to build your tribe from Chelsea Coulston of MakingHomeBase

Chelsea's Adorable Mom Moment

Chelsea's almost-3-year-old Peyton said the sweetest thing to her the other day!  You'll have to tune in to hear her cute story.

Stay in Touch with Chelsea!

Instagram: @MakingHomeBase


Our affiliate link for Fizzle.  It's one of our favorite online resources for business too!

Direct download: Episode208420Chelsea_mixdown20final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:30am EST