Tue, 28 July 2015
Finding your voice can feel like a mystery. There are clues, of course: a fingerprint of ideas here, a scrap of inspiration there, but putting all the pieces together can feel like mission impossible. Relax, Ace. Lacy Boggs, Director of the Content Agency is hot on the case.
On the Podcast
01:04 - The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business
Press play on the podcast player below to receive your mission from Lacy, should you choose to accept it.
The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business
5 years ago, Lacy she was the associate editor and food editor for a local magazine in Colorado. It was a 60+ hour per week job, and when she became pregnant she realized that she wanted life with a baby to look a little different.
Lacy quit her job and started a food blog. She was able to grow an audience fairly quickly, and she landed some amazing guest posting gigs. Lacy even guest posted on one of Martha Stewart's blogs for a while! But Lacy picked the niche of moms who want to live a foodie lifestyle on a budget. She just wasn't making any money growing this particular audience.
Despite her lack of income, Lacy discovered an important clue that led to her current business: She's great at blogging! Lacy started a ghost blogging company, The Content Direction Agency, to write blog posts for other businesses and entrepreneurs. Her business took off. Now she's more than doubled her magazine salary, and she only works 20-25 hours per week, so she can spend most of her time with her four year-old daughter.
The Mysterious Life of a Ghost Blogger
Sarah and I had never heard of a ghost blogger before. What is this mysterious new role all about?
There's a misconception that if you're a solopreneur or small business owner, you have to write your blog content yourself. Lacy doesn't believe that's true. If you can get your message across more effectively with someone's help, why not?
A lot of Lacy's clients are lifestyle entrepreneurs. She's worked with interior designers, health coaches, personal stylists, and one client is a data analyst and strategist fora Fortune 500 company.
We were curious about how much content Lacy writes for each of her clients.
Lacy says that it really runs the gamut. She's written published books and e-books for clients, course material, email newsletters, and blog posts.
Lacy gets hired most often to write people's blogs for them, so it's generally one blog post per week.
How to go Undercover
When Lacy writes for her clients, she makes sure the content is seamless. It sounds just like that person, so that no one recognizes that they're reading content published by someone else.
Lacy has always had this undercover skill. She wanted to be a fiction writer when she was a kid, and she used to write novels as a teen. They would sound so much like whichever books she was reading at the time. She's always had a knack for taking on the voice of others.
For entrepreneurs who don't want to hire Lacy to write for them, she has a voice identification process that can help people find their own voice.
The most important thing is to find the small details that set you apart. What's your style? Are you sophisticated or conversastional? What particular words and phrases are unique to you?
Lacy gave us an example of someone who really struggled to share her authentic voice.
A woman who runs surfing camps for women in California came to Lacy for help. Her camps weren't just about surfing, but also a spiritual experience. But her blog was so corporate!
On the phone Lacy could tell right away that she was a bit "woo-woo" and used a lot of surfer lingo. Lacy encouraged the woman to use her surfing lingo, add surfing metaphors, and talk the way she would normally talk. She wasn't serving her audience or giving out a clear message by being so buttoned-up.
It can be really hard not to be two-faced when it comes to our online work. We have one voice and personality in real life, but then we take on a completely different voice online.
We're trained to write a certain way in school, and our own voice is often trained out of us. College and the corporate world strip our style away even more.
Lacy says it's hard to find your voice if you were never allowed to let go and be yourself Lacy's voice recognition process can help you uncover your missing voice.
Secret Agent Lacy Boggs
Sarah and I just love Lacy's secret agent persona on her website. You have to go check it out. We've never seen anything like it!
Sarah Ancalmo helped Lacy to define her hook and then develop her branding from there.
Both Sarah and Lacy believe that you have to come up with your hook and the content first, and then everything else flows from that.
They came up with the idea that Lacy is your secret weapon for blogging. From there, the 40's secret agent theme was born. Lacy says it's her, just dialed up to 11.
To determine your own online persona, you need to define your hook. What's that one statement, visual, or idea that everything else can hang from?
Once Lacy knew that she'd brand herself as the secret weapon for blogging, she was able to choose her first message to her audience: "Are you writing your message in disappearing ink?"
From there, the blog content came, along with pictures in that 40's secret agent style... everything on the site down to the typewriter font they used flows out of that one hook.
We talked a bit about how mom bloggers or Etsy seller blogs can often feel so similar to one another. They all have a cute, pretty type of style. Lacy has some words of wisdom: there is a huge variety of mom bloggers out there - everyone from Deuce to Jen Hatmaker. So don't be afraid to stand out and be different. Find your hook, and be unique.
Get out your Magnifying Glass & Find that Hook!
Lacy says that starting a business is like going through therapy, and finding your hook can be the same way!
For Lacy it comes down to figuring out your big why, and that's two-fold.
Lacy believes that having the right kind of traffic is better than having a ton of traffic.
For example, Lacy has a client who sells weighted blankets for the special needs community. This client could write a great list post on 70 ways to make bedtime easier. Maybe it would go viral and she'd get 100,000 hits. But what percentage of those hits are really going to be in her niche? There might be a few customers in that group, but it would be a very low percentage.
If, on the other hand, she got a guest post on a major mom blog that talked about children with special needs, that traffic would be much more qualified. Every one of those potential site visitors is pre-qualified to become a customer of hers.
Lacy says that creating content for the masses is not necessarily everyone's best game plan for business growth.
On the other hand, she wrote one guest post for a blog called And then we Saved and from that single post she got over 600 opt-ins. Her guest post was targeted, and she was speaking to just the right audience.
The social proof that comes from posting on a big site can be great, but keep in mind that it's just that - social proof, and not necessarily a great way to grow your list, traffic, or business.
Tips for Cracking the Case Faster
Bloggers are busy people. How can we crack the case of writing blog posts faster and move on to the next mission?
Lacy's number one tip for being a more efficient blogger is to start using an editorial calendar.
An editorial calendar helps you to plan out your product and business promotions. For example, if you have a product that sells well around back-to-school, then you want to plan out your blog posts 6-8 weeks before that time. Blog about the summer brain drain or getting kids back on a schedule before school starts. By blogging on your topic well in advance of your launch, you'll start to generate desire and build anticipation around an event or launch.
Even if you have a service, you can create sales cycles to promote different services at different times of the year. You don't have to discount your services - it's just a natural rhythm of promoting yourself through your content
An editorial calendar lets you keep the big picture in mind and create a plan to drive revenue. As Lacy says, "If you're not blogging to support your business, then what are you doing it for?"
On the Hunt for the Right Topic
The best way to discover what to write about is to ask your followers or subscribers what they're struggling with the most. You can even add it to that thank you email that you send to new subscribers.
Even if the answers you receive don't have anything to do with your industry, you're still learning more about your audience and customers.
Then, use the language your clients are using to talk about the problems they're facing and devise your solution.
Mission Accomplished for Product-Based Businesses
It's often difficult for product-based businesses to figure out what to topics to blog about. They don't want to just share new jewelry photos each day, so what should they do?
Lacy recommends a method called Thinking Sideways.
Shift your perspective from your product to where that product fits into your customer's bigger lifestyle.
For example, Lacy worked with an Etsy seller who created cool jewelry in a Rockabilly type of style. She started thinking about the lifestyle of her customers and realized she could talk about things such as macrame coming back or coloring books for grown-ups. She can go beyond jewelry but describe the lifestyle her jewelry customers would be aspiring to.
One point to remember: Always keep your followers in mind. Talk to your audience - not to other experts. For example, if a photographer wants to start blogging, they'll think, "what do I know about? I got it. I know about photography!" So they'll start sharing what lenses they use and their set-up, and other photographers will love that post. But other photographers aren't hiring them for photography work. Instead, they need to write about how to pick out the outfits to wear to a photo shoot, or 6 poses you should ask for at your next toddler shoot. Then you'll attract the audience that will actually hire you for work.
How Agent Lacy Completes her Mission
As a mom who prioritizes time with her daughter, we were curious about how Lacy manages to work just 25 hours per week!
Agent Lacy's Adorable Mom Moment
You'll have to tune in to hear how Lacy knows she made the right choice to become an entrepreneur. The moment she had between her and her daughter is just so sweet.
Stay in Touch with Lacy!
For loads of free tools from Lacy head to LacyBoggs.com/library
Tue, 21 July 2015
We're so excited to welcome our very first vintage seller onto the show. The vintage scene has exploded on Etsy since its inception, and if you're adept at finding treasures, it may be the perfect fit for you. Sarah Jane Janjirala has created a name for herself by creating a storefront on Etsy, Sweetheart Lane that's the one-stop shop for the best antique lockets on the market.
Learn the ins and outs of selling vintage, how Sarah has created a system that saves her time, and why niche-ing down can be very profitable.
On the Podcast
00:58 - Don't Go Back to Work. Do This Instead!
Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear the full interview.
Don't Go Back to Work. Do This Instead!
Sarah started her antique locket shop on Etsy just before her first child was born. After a year of running the shop on the side as a hobby, she and her husband had a heart-to-heart conversation. Sarah had a lot of debt from nursing school, and both she and her husband assumed the solution was for her to go back to work. Yet neither of them really loved that option. So, they got creative!
Her husband, who has a background in business looked over her shop and said, "I think you can do something with this!" With his analytical mind, her creative mind, and a lot of focus and hard work, the shop took off!
The Allure of the Locket
Sarah chose to open an antique locket shop for several reasons.
How to Become an Antique Expert
Sarah points to several factors that have developed over time that have allowed her to become an expert on antique lockets. These factors can apply to anyone who wants to become an expert within a vintage niche.
Several years into her business, Sarah says she can look at a locket right away and know what company made it and the approximate year it was made. Pretty impressive!
The Narrow Niche Advantage
Sarah says there are advantages both as a seller and to the buyer because she's niched down.
As a buyer, Sarah helps out her customers by being the go-to, trusted source for antique lockets. She loves to shop on Etsy herself, and she personally hates having to scroll through tons of unrelated items within one shop. Instead, a shop that focuses on one thing sticks in her memory and she comes back to them for that product.
As a seller, focusing on one specific niche gives her credibility. Her customers can trust her expertise and experience. In addition, Sarah focuses on making each locket wearable. Many lockets she finds at antique shows need a jump ring, chain, or have a broken hinge. Sarah fixes each locket, makes it lovely and wearable, verifies its age and source, includes instructions on how to care for the locket and clean it, and wraps it beautifully. By focusing, Sarah can provide exceptional customer service.
How to Find Vintage Treasures
Sarah doesn't often go to garage sales or estate sales, because a vintage locket is pretty rare in these settings. Not to mention, as a mom to two very young children, Sarah can't go hunting every weekend.
Sarah goes to a huge antique show in Atlanta. She sifts through bags of jewelry to find a few treasures.
In general, Sarah will attend a big event for one day once a month. She's often able to get all of her lockets for the next month in one day.
The fact that Sarah has a focused niche helps a ton at a huge show. She's not overwhelmed. She knows exactly what she's looking for and she goes to each show with focus and intention.
5 Parts to Pricing
Sarah uses five main criteria to decide on her locket prices.
What is TCO and Why Does it Matter?
During her first year on Etsy, Sarah completely undersold herself. She wanted the average middle-class woman to be able to own her beautiful lockets... but she didn't factor in her own cost of doing business. Sarah hadn't calculated her Etsy fees, Paypal fees, materials, or any other overhead costs. She would simply double the price of the locket from what she paid for it. Sarah assumed she'd make a small profit, but it turned out that she was only making about $3 a sale! This was way too little for products that she was spending a lot of time on.
When Sarah and her husband got serious about her shop, they created a spreadsheet to calculate her Total Cost of Ownership. This is your total net profits after all of your expenses. Now Sarah can plug in everything she bought such as the locket, each piece of wrapping wire, Etsy fees, shipping costs, and more, and then she can figure out her true profit.
Sarah's pricing advice for other Etsy Sellers? She reminds them that they're doing something that the average person can't do. They're providing a service, and sometimes that service takes a lot of time. Etsy sellers shouldn't under-sell or undervalue their talents.
Speedy Photo and Listing Tips
The best thing about selling antiques is that they're one-of-a-kind, but this also poses a unique challenge! Every item has to be photographed and listed separately. How does Sarah manage to spend the time doing this and still make a profit?
Sarah's Listing Tricks
Another trick? Sarah uses the Etsy app on her to make quick changes on the go.
Sarah's Photo Tricks
Photos are one of Sarah's biggest challenges as a vintage seller. She takes photos of exactly that item for every single listing. She wants every customer to know and trust that what they see on the screen is what they're getting when they buy.
With that in mind, Sarah has a formula: 2 front photos, 1 photo on the mannequin, one on the inside of the locket, and one of the back of the locket.
When the light is right, Sarah can quickly snap all five of these shots and move on to the next locket.
Growth + Success: Sarah's Secrets
What to do with Haters
So... haters might be a strong word, and not what Sarah would call them. But what do you do about the people in your life who always have doubts about your endeavors? How do you respond to those people who don't think your shop or blog or business will amount to anything?
Sarah's husband had some wise words to share with her when she first got started:
Isn't that so true? There are so many people in the world who are afraid of taking risks. Why would we accept their doubts as reality when they've never done the thing they're cautioning you against doing? Learn from those who have gone before, and Sarah has done just that. She wants to encourage moms that they can do it! If she can do it as a mom to two very little ones, then you can too!
Sarah's C'est La Vie Mom Moment
Sarah's adorable mom moment is just the epitome of working from home. She chooses to roll with the punches, put her kids first, and you know what? It all worked out in the end! Tune in to hear her cute story.
Stay in Touch with Sarah
Tue, 14 July 2015
There are so many things I love about Rebecca's story and business.
Isn't this encouraging, Mamapreneurs?! I think it's so easy to look at those ahead of us and assume their success came overnight. That's hardly ever the case. I love that Rebecca worked really hard for several years before her business became profitable. It encourages me to continue marching forward. Progress over perfection.
I love the fact that Rebecca's business is profitable and doing great, but it's also missional. Don't be afraid to take your own path, Brilliant Business Moms. Do what you're called to. Live with purpose. The rest will follow.
Don't sacrifice quality to make a buck. When you create something great, you can stand behind your products and your prices with confidence.
I'm only scratching the surface with this intro. Let's dig in!
On the Podcast
01:14 - The Accidental Entrepreneur
Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear the full interview
The Accidental Entrepreneur
Rebecca describes herself as an accidental entrepreneur, because she never set out to start a business. It turns out that she absolutely loves it and has a knack for it too!
Rebecca's bag journey, (as she calls it!) started when she and her husband moved from Savannah, Georgia to Detroit, Michigan 5 years ago. It was an intentional move because they wanted to live and serve in a diverse community filled with needs. Rebecca had just opened up her Etsy shop at the time and had just one child.
Early Steps for Better Life Bags
Rebecca used two main strategies early on to grow her business.
3 years into the business, Rebecca was still working for free. She didn't even realize it at the time, but one day, she and her husband sat down at Panera to talk. The business was starting to grow to the point where it encroached on family life a good bit. So he said, "I've done the math. Do you realize you're only making about $2.25 an hour?"
Rebecca 's response was, "I don't care! I love it and I'm having so much fun!"
Her husband said that was ok at first that it didn't earn money and was just a hobby, but the business had grown to the point where it took up a lot of Rebecca's time. Rebecca had to decide if she'd shut it down, force it to be small, or she could choose a third option and take 6 months to figure out how to give herself a paycheck.
The Turning Point
At this point, Rebecca dove head-first into using social media to grow the business. She intentionally sought out bloggers who had large followings that comprised her target customers. So for example, fashion blogs, style blogs, and mommy blogs were a great fit. However, based on her bag prices, she knew it wasn't a good idea to target frugal living or couponing blogs.
Rebecca sent bloggers free product in exchange for a review. Her goal was to land about one new account per week, so overall she'd send out about 3-5 bags per month to bloggers for review. She wanted each review to feel organic and for the feature to be something that fit both brands really well.
Her strategy worked! In 6 months she was not only able to pay herself well but also hire her first employee!
Strategies for Growth
Rebecca points to 3 main changes that led to a "nuclear bomb explosion of orders" in her business, as she says!
Pricing your Products
Early on, Rebecca just looked around at prices for similar products on Etsy and pulled a number out of a hat. Her early fabric bags were $45.
When the business got busier, and she realized she wasn't taking home a paycheck, she had to take a closer look at her prices.
When she first added up all of the materials that went into each bag it was shocking to her! At that point, Rebecca did a lot of research online on how to price products.
- The prevailing formula on pricing is to add up all the materials. (This is everything that walks out the door with your products, such as fabrics, thread, packaging supplies, business cards, and more.)
- Then times that total by 2 and you'll have your wholesale price.
- Times that by 2 again and you'll get your retail price.
When Rebecca priced her bags that way they were coming in at $350 to $450!!
With her current pricing formula, her most expensive bag starts at $225 but her products go all the way down to $18. The bags are still pricey, but it's something that's in reach that you can save up for. They have many customers who save for several months to purchase a bag.
Here's Rebecca's current pricing formula:
- That price is the bare minimum for pricing her products.
- In their case for the few wholesale accounts they have - that's the price they charge the boutiques.
- They never go more than times 2 from that point, but they try to get the price very close to times 2.
- Within that times 2 price is her manager's salaries, her office space, her internet, and her taxes at the end of the year - along with a ton of other overhead expenses.
Rebecca believes in pricing your products well so that people can get paid well and you can do really good things with the money that's coming in.
Rebecca's pricing for her bags works because they don't push their wholesale price. They cut out the middle-man in the form of many boutiques selling their products as well as the manufacturing middle-man since they make all their bags locally in Detroit.
Rebecca says it's a mixture of science and math and also some experimentation. "Don't be afraid to change your prices," she says.
Wholesale versus Retail - Must we Do Both?
Rebecca thinks that it's absolutely ok to not do wholesale.
There's a lot of pressure for shop owners to pursue wholesale. Maybe they hear that everyone else is doing it, or it's the next step to grow their business. Boutiques may be starting to approach them to carry their products.
Pick which avenue you prefer doing. Do you enjoy marketing to the customer and dealing with them directly? Or maybe you don't want to market your products to the general public, so you'd rather just make really great stuff and approach boutiques and have them do the selling for you.
It's up to you, but focus on one method of selling and do it really well.
How BLB became a Missional Business
In her third year of business, Rebecca was running out of time to make all of her bags. She had three choices: Shut everything down, find a factory in China to manufacture the bags, or find women locally to make them.
Rebecca called her up and they worked together. At first she just did the insides of the bags. She did that so well that she started doing the outsides too. Every week Rebecca would drop off new materials and the woman would give her the completed bags.
6 months into her job, the woman brought Rebecca upstairs to show her something - she was able to buy bunk beds for her children with the money she made from sewing bags. At that moment, Rebecca realized what the power of this business could do for women in her community. They started intentionally hiring after that.
There are now 16 employees in the Better Life Bags workshop. Most of their hires have been through networking. The first woman they hired knew other women, and Rebecca knew women in their neighborhood who then referred more people.
Rebecca even found one of her employees on the street. She was begging for money for bus fare so that she could donate plasma and get paid. She had four children to care for. Rebecca said, "Why don't you come down to our shop and I'll teach you how to cut leather and I'll pay you by the hour for the day." 18 months later this woman is full-time in their office doing far more than cutting leather scraps!
"Everyone has come to us who should be here. They've been brought to us by the Lord," says Rebecca.
Sarah had a great follow-up question for Rebecca. While her heart says "YAY!" her mind says, "oh my gosh, that's so risky!" She wondered if Rebecca felt that it was risky to hire some of the women she's hired.
One of the ways they keep both in mind is by paying per piece instead of paying hourly. She doesn't have to micromanage her employees. The wage is based on $18/hour, and it's based on how long it takes Rebecca to make a bag at a focused pace. One of their seamstresses makes about $25/hour now because she's so skilled at making her bags and she's motivated to do well.
The past two summers, BLB has had the same single intern. It was a pretty safe choice for them because this woman was connected to people in the community and going to fashion school in Michigan.
This year they decided to go all out for their internship program. They did a shout-out on Instagram saying they were hiring for unpaid internships. The interns would learn about small business, social media marketing, product development. They accepted applications and resumes, set a deadline, and then hired three interns.
How did they decide on the interns?
Rebecca and her three leadership staff all looked over each application.
One great weed-out question was "what are you hoping to learn this summer?" They wanted to make sure what the interns understood what they'd be learning and that it would be a great fit for everyone.
Another weed-out method was to stalking the candidate's social media channels. They wanted women who were mission-minded and coming to serve, love on their staff, and they wanted the interns to mesh and gel. And BLB did not want partiers. They looked at Instagram feeds and they narrowed the applicants in half just based on what their feed presented about themselves. It was eye-opening to Rebecca as an employer. What you put out into the world on social media truly matters.
BLB really kicked things up a notch by renting the interns an Airbnb place in the city. It's a great little place and it's just down the street from Rebecca. (What a cool internship!)
The interns are taking over BLB social media on the weekends and sharing "life as an intern" posts. They're using the hashtag #blbinterns.
Rules for Unpaid Internships
The biggest rule in hiring unpaid interns is that they can't be doing anything that someone should be paid for. So for example, Rebecca couldn't hire free interns to make products for her or run her social media accounts.
The internship is really more about benefitting the interns and giving them a great learning experience. On the other hand, Rebecca finds it beneficial because she may have great people to hire in the future. She gets to see what they're like at work and what their skills are as they try their hand at different things.
Why Zero Business or Fashion Training still Equals Success
Rebecca has no formal business training, but she does think her previous degrees and work experiences have helped her a lot. When she first declared a major in college she was fashion merchandising. She had done window displays in high school and really enjoyed it. But 6 months into that major she decided that she really wanted to have a family and fashion merch involves a lot of weekends, nights, and holidays.
Rebecca switched to social work next but soon realized that it was just a really difficult field. Finally she switched to elementary education and got her degree in that. She taught for 3 years.
Now Rebecca has a business that combines fashion, social work, and lots of teaching!
So she has no formal business training or design experience - just a love and a passion for it....and a willingness to read every Google article and listen to every podcast!
How She Does It
Rebecca says that she has so much help. She doesn't do it all. She has an amazing operations manager who essentially runs the company. One of the best decisions she ever made was to stop working in the business and start working on the business. With an operations manager, Rebecca has the time to just be a mom when she's at home. She doesn't have to print off orders, ship bags, or make sure the seamstresses have everything they need.
Rebecca's husband is an EMT, so his schedule always changes. When he's off, Rebecca tries to be off as well, so the three days that she's in the workshop changes each week. Rebecca says, "I feel really blessed that I get to do this for my job, and... it doesn't feel like work to me, which is the best thing ever."
Now, she says, if she could just stop checking her email and Instagram when she's not in the office...
Better Life Bags does a great job on Instagram. One of the first important decisions they made in regards to the madness of social media was that they chose one platform to do well. They ignored their Twitter account, and Facebook is very second to Instagram.
Here's why BLB focuses on Instagram: When Rebecca was on her personal Instagram account scrolling each day, she suddenly found herself at the computer ready to order a baby wrap that she saw on Instagram. And she thought, "woah, how did I get here?"
So she studied what that company did to get her to be a buying customer:
Better Life Bags tried to emulate that:
If you're looking to grow your Instagram following and sales, Hilary Rushford has an Instagram class that Rebecca highly recommends. (Beth Anne does too!) Hilary will teach you how to ask important questions about the overall aesthetic of your Instagram feed. What do those 9 photos look like together? Do they look cohesive? Do they look messy? What will make someone push "follow" when they run across your feed?
Note - the link above is NOT an affiliate link. We just think the class is great and we're happy to talk about it. I'm not sure when it opens again, but you can sign up so you'll know about her next webinar.
Ladies & Gentlemen, The Future Owner of BLB!
Rebecca's 4 year-old daughter cracked us up! Ladies and Gentlemen.... meet the future owner of BLB!
Stay in Touch with Rebecca
Tue, 7 July 2015
We know (in theory!) that email can be a great way to grow our business. But, in practice, it feels overwhelming, and we're fresh out of ideas for doing it well! Kirsten Thompson of the blog Sweet Tea and Saving Grace is going to take us under her wing and give us a renewed excitement for growing and connecting via email.
On the Podcast
00:59 - From Overwhelmed Blogger to In-Charge Email Marketer
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear Kirsten's Best Email Marketing Advice
From Overwhelmed Blogger to In-Charge Email Marketer
Kirsten has been blogging almost 5 years and started under the name, One Tough Mother. For many years, she tried to keep up with big bloggers and do everything they were doing to grow. Finally, she got burned out. In January of 2014 Kirsten decided to step away from blogging for 6 months. She came back in May 2014 with a completely different focus and re-branded to Sweet Tea and Saving Grace.
Kirsten added the business aspect of blogging to her site and offered herself up as a Virtual Assistant to other bloggers in the Fall of 2014. All of her clients were asking her to design their email newsletters for them. They knew email marketing was important, but they didn't know where to start, so Kirsten quickly became the "go-to" person for email marketing.
What Re-Branding did for Kirsten's Business
Fortunately, Kirsten retained a lot of her readership through her site's re-branding. She still does craft and DIY projects, but she quit focusing on the numbers and analytics. Instead Kirsten focuses on what her goals are and what she needs to do to achieve her version of success. She no longer gets overwhelmed by watching what other bloggers are doing.
While Kirsten's readers just saw a new site and look for her brand, the real change was what happened behind the scenes with her focus and mentality.
Monetizing in a Way that Works for Her
When Kirsten returned to blogging last May, her focus really shifted. Her biggest focus now is engagement with her readers. She loves the community that blogging brings. Her number one goal is to build deeper relationships with her readers and get to know them better.
Kirsten wanted to monetize her blog but she didn't want to do it in a way that would be selling out. She didn't want sponsored post to be her number 1 income generator for the blog. That's where being a VA (Virtual Assistant) came in. She's learned so much in several years of blogging so she can help those bloggers who are too busy to do everything or don't know how to do everything.
Previously, Kirsten's editorial calendar was crazy full but it wasn't bringing her joy. She was doing tons of sponsored posts and focusing on traffic and pageviews. Now, she's monetized her site in a way that works for her and allows her to focus on relationships and helping others.
A Full-Time Job + Blogging - How She Does It
Kirsten shared several methods for ensuring that she strikes a balance in her life.
"I think Bloggers put so much pressure on themselves that somebody, somewhere in the inifinte internet is gonna look down on them because they don't get the post up on Monday and it goes up on Tuesday instead." (Isn't that the truth?!)
How to Connect with Your Readers in a Personal Way
Email is the best way to connect with your readers and build your business. When you first start blogging, social media is really pushed as where you need to be. But you don't have any real control over who sees what you're putting out there.
When you put your information in a newsletter, that's a personal thing. That reader is giving you space in their inbox and they want what you're sending. They've invested time in you.
Don't say "email marketing is on my list of things to do." Put it at the top. Put a form on your site to collect email addresses from day 1 of blogging or owning a business.
Setting up your email list isn't hard to do, and MailChimp is free until 2,000 subscribers or up to 10,000 emails per month.
The Law & Email Newsletters - What You Need to Know
Opt-In Form Ideas and Debate
Kirsten recommends several places to put your opt-in form, and one recommendation is commonly debated in the blogging community.
Are pop-ups really worth it? Sarah has mixed feelings about using them and potentially irritating readers.
If you have mixed feeings about pop-ups, Kirsten says at the very least, try it for 30 days and see what happens.
How to Craft a Great Opt-In Offer
There are several things to consider to help you determine the best opt-in offer for your readers or customers.
Kirsten has a great resource with 101 Newsletter Content and Opt-In Offer ideas available to hew email subscribers. You can sign up here to snag your copy.
Auto-responder Sequence Ideas
There's not a wrong way to set up an auto-responder sequence, it just depends on your goals. Overall, though, they can be a great way to build trust and authority. Here are two ideas to get your creative juices flowing!
Target, a Sassy 3 year-old, and Stranger Danger!
Kirsten's sassy daughter Marley did something pretty outlandish (and hilarious looking back now!) You'll have to tune in to hear the story! Let's just say, your child's tantrum in the store will pale in comparison to this episode....
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