Rank #1: 136: Building a Wildly Successful Brand with Molly Goodall
The beauty of selling handmade items is that your creativity is your only limit. Molly Goodall certainly hasn't limited herself with her wildly successful children's clothing brand - Little Goodall.
We are seriously in love with these truly adorable products! Handmade children’s coats that double as imaginative costumes!? Yes, please! The visionary behind this product, Molly Goodall, ia fashion designer by trade who solved a need in her child’s life with one of the cutest pieces we’ve ever seen! We are huge fans of Molly’s business savvy and learned a ton from her process. Join us!On The Podcast
01:09 - More About Molly01:55 - Fashion Designer Turned Etsy Store Owner06:02 - A Roaring Success!08:17 - Keeping Up With Demand09:35 - How Outsourcing Helped Molly's Business Thrive15:04 - The Handmade Decision: Raise Prices or Get Help18:43 - Selling a Licensed Product21:02 - How Does Licensing Work22:35 - Wild Things to Write About - Molly's Book Deal!28:55 - Great Trade Shows for Handmade Sellers33:34 - Why Raising Prices Means Everyone Wins33:55 - Does Tons of Press Lead to Sales?39:30 - Working With Bloggers41:28 - Adorable Mommy MomentPress Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear from Molly!
More About Molly
Molly lives in Dallas, Texas with her London-born husband and 7 year-old son, Carter. She and her husband met in an airport, how crazy and romantic is that!? He became a naturalized citizen last year and Molly appreciates the different perspectives they each bring to parenting. They also have a few pets: two bunnies, a very old cat, and many koi.Fashion Designer Turned Etsy Store Owner
Molly studied fashion design at Parsons School of Design (before the institution became famous thanks to Project Runway!) By the time she was a senior, she knew she wanted to focus on children’s fashion. But after graduation she ended up working for a toy company. Life slowly started happening and she briefly abandoned fashion design, working instead as a fine artist. When she married her husband, she moved from NYC to Dallas, further removing her from the heart of the fashion world. By the time Molly's son was born, her work life included spending about 8 hours at a time painting watercolors. It wasn't an easy job with a newborn!
As all new moms do, Molly suddenly realized she didn’t have the time she once did. (We can relate!) Since she couldn’t focus on one project for hours at a time, she began to search for new creative outlets she could pursue with her son.
When her son was about 18-months-old, he was prone to ear infections. The doctor recommended Molly keep her son’s ears covered whenever he went outside. There was only one problem: her son loved being outside, but hated covering his ears!
Molly got inspired shopping a fabric store, running some yellow gold felt through her hands. She thought, “What if I made a coat that looked like an animal for my son? Like a costume. Maybe he would wear it.” During afternoon nap, Molly started playing around with the fabric. She ended up making a coat with a felt, lion-head hood. And guess what? Her son kept the coat on and his ears covered!
A friend of Molly’s owned an Etsy shop and suggested that Molly sell her new coat design on Etsy. Molly didn’t think she’d make any sales, but she gave it a try. She photographed her son wearing the lion coat and took detailed shots on her kitchen table. She listed the coat for the (what she thought was) outrageous price of $120 and went to bed. The next morning, she had a sale! That was September 2010 and Little Goodall has only grown from there. At this stage in her business, Molly handles the design and sales of her product, and has hired an outside source to do the sewing and manufacturing for each coat.A Roaring Success!
Molly couldn’t believe that her ridiculously-priced item sold right away! Her first lion coat was a huge...might we even say roaring?... success, and it gave her business a massive jump-start. She also had an idea for fox and dinosaur coat designs, and began making and drafting those patterns. It was very time-consuming work. Just as soon as Molly would sell one item, she would repost and sell another. What a great business problem to have! And a sign that Molly had created a truly unique product.
Molly also thinks she hit a nerve designing items for little boys. In her experience with children's fashion, she saw that boys were given a smaller window of childhood. Once they hit a certain age, they’re basically dressed like mini versions of their dads. Molly wanted to offer boys a chance to be wild and creative. (Turns out girls love Molly’s coats, too! These designs are perfectly unisex.)Keeping Up With Demand
Was it hard for Molly to keep up with such rapid demand? It was a nightmare! But also exciting, Molly says. Her product first sold primarily via word-of-mouth. As a stay-at-home mom, Molly found the new energy addicting. All of a sudden she was getting questions, comments, and convos that expanded her world beyond her child. That first Christmas, she couldn’t get materials and make coats quickly enough! At night, her husband would cut fabric on their kitchen table while she sewed in the dining room.
While it was great to have a business boom, Molly was discouraged that she wasn’t getting time to design -- her true passion. Because Molly had to clock tons of hours at the sewing machine, it took much longer than she would have liked to create new designs for her store.
Molly wisely realized she couldn’t do it all and got help. Outsourcing a few, key elements allowed her to actually grow her business. Two elements in particular Molly felt the need to outsource were pattern-making and pattern-cutting.
Here’s how she did it:
- Pattern Making
After first toying with the idea of looking online for a pattern maker, Molly decided to narrow her search to local pattern makers. She found an excellent pattern maker in her home base of Dallas. Not only was this shop able to make her up-and-coming design patterns, they were also able to grade her patterns. Grading means they were able to take a pattern in one size and scale it to make additional sizes. Molly loved working with a local small business, and she loved finding an expert who could do particular jobs even better than she could!
- Pattern Cutting
The animal face details on Molly’s coats required up to 60 different appliqués. Molly had been hand-cutting the felt and thought if she could find someone to make metal dies, like cookie cutters, then she could have a box full of prepared pieces to applique onto her coats. Molly did just that. She found another small business who would accept her card
This push to seek outside help was prompted by a large order request from Gilt, a clothing company. They wanted 400 pieces, 100 coats in each of 4 styles, ready for Halloween. To fill such a big (and important!) order, she would have had to close her Etsy shop or find help. The choice was clear. (And Molly’s husband was more than happy to relinquish his throne as felt-cutting king!)
After hitting this crossroad, Molly also realized that finding a sewing room to manufacture her products would be well worth the effort. She ultimately ended up using a top-notch sewing room who also sews garments for a designer label. Impressive!The Handmade Decision: Raise Prices or Get Help
Molly considers her location really fortunate. Dallas was once a manufacturing hot-spot and they still have pockets of high quality manufacturers in the area. At first, Molly went to NYC and met with various sewing rooms. It was important to her brand to keep manufacturing within the United States, but by choosing Dallas, Molly enjoys a local touch. She is able to problem solve when it comes to producing her products and to see first-hand that the factory is run well and employees are treated fairly.
Molly says that she has been able to develop so many new products since making the decision to outsource. Like all makers, she is closely tied to the outcome of her products. Though she felt a real hesitation around the decision to outsource, the benefit has been well worth the risk.
Molly remembers in Etsy history when the marketplace allowed their handmade items to be created by outside manufacturers. Though that announcement was met with some resentment at the time, Molly has firmly held to the belief that sometimes a product is better when a team assembles it. As a handmade artist, her DNA is in every garment she produces, but she doesn’t have to complete every step to make it so. Using experts in various fields has made her garments more consistent and far better than it otherwise would have been.
Not only does outsourcing manufacturing allow Molly to produce a better product, it allows her to price that product affordability. According to Molly, it came down to two decisions:
1. Either raise her prices so high to compensate for the 12 hours of her time she would spend sewing that no one would be able to afford her product,
2. Outsource portions of the manufacturing process.
That’s the crux of the issue for many handmade sellers!Selling a Licensed Product
The big pattern company, Simplicity, came to Molly and said they were interested in selling her patterns. Pattern-selling is a great way for designers to expand, and the move was natural for Molly’s adorable animal coats. Molly noticed her coats were appearing on DIY Pinterst boards; because her coats are made of wool felt, she assumed many people thought the coats were user friendly and easy to work with. Actually, Molly’s coats are quite complicated to assemble and she got word that people were finding it difficult to recreate her coats! (A good problem!)
Molly's fox coat turned out to be the zietgiest product. One season, an Italian trend forecasting company featured Little Goodall in its issue. Talk about a BIG win! With this kind of press swirling around Molly’s coats, Simplicity reached out to her and offered to purchase the rights to her design and create patterns to sell.
Molly thought the business move was a good one, as creating and selling pattern pdfs wasn’t in her wheelhouse. The time and energy needed to figure out pattern creation would distract Molly from her most important business goals. She sent Simplicity a few coats, images, and the patterns she had created. They worked their magic and she collects the licensing fees.How Does Licensing Work?
In Molly’s case, she was paid an advance for the rights to her pattern up front, and then royalties after.
Since the initial license sale, Simplicy was sold by another company who discontinued her line .To date, Molly isn’t entirely sure where her licensed patterns stand with this new company. Some details were lost in the switchover, but she’s making efforts to work it out. Molly also has had to deal with another party copying her patterns and attempting to sell the knockoffs; she used the services of a lawyer to handle this issue.Wild Things To Write About - Molly's Book Deal!
Quantum Publishing, a professional book sales agency from the United Kingdom, reached out to Molly with a pitch to write a book. The way book sales agencies work is that they first create ideas, then sell books. Molly had to make projects and patterns for the book idea, then she did the illustrations and the text. The entire process took nine months.
Molly couldn’t swing the childcare necessary to give her time to make the book, so she got creative and shifted her day. She went to bed at 8pm when her son did, and woke up at 4am or 5am to work for a few hours in peace and quiet. When her son woke at 7am, they went about their normal day. Molly admits the day shift was weird, but it worked perfectly well for a season of time. (And she still uses that model when she’s in the middle of a big project!) Molly loves that she was still was able to enjoy the summer with her son. After all, you only have one summer with your 5-year-old.
Great Trade Shows for Handmade Sellers
Trade shows are a great way to put your best foot forward and get in front of interested buyers. Molly has several great show recommendations for other handmade sellers.
Molly was the first of a group to attend the Etsy Wholesale show, which Etsy paid for!
NY Now is a gift show held twice a year for retail stores to place their orders for Spring and Fall. This show is great because it allows your brand to go to one place where everyone has an opportunity to meet and place product orders. A shop can literally leave NY Now knowing exactly how many orders to manufacture for the year.
At NY Now Molly met many people who loved her product, but they didn’t carry children’s clothing. That gave her the prompting to look into other trade shows.
This show is $500 to enter and Molly feels it is well worth the effort. What she likes about this show is that they are great at bringing new people into the universe of handmade. Also, this trade show offers seminars on important topics like calendar planning and web marketing. She feels it is a great place to develop relationships with a store you can maintain for years to come.
This is the next trade show Molly wants to check out. It has a focus on children's products.Why Raising Prices Means Everyone Wins
Pricing is always tricky. As Molly has had to raise her retail praises to adjust to be able to do wholesale, we wondered if she’s seen a diminishing quantity of sales. Turns out, Little Goodall hasn’t seen a drop in retail! Actually, Molly has an example of one particular item that didn’t do well at all, but when the shop raised their prices, this item took off. Molly thinks a lot that has to do with perceived value.
The brand Little Goodall doesn’t do sales very well. It wouldn’t do any good to set a price at something like $39.99. Her customers aren’t looking for bargains, they’re looking for investment pieces. A Little Goodall coat is unique and their customers just have to have them!Does Tons of Press Lead to Sales?
We’ve always wondered if being featured in something like a print magazine has translated into a sales boost. Little Goodall has been featured in top publications like The Wall Street Journal and the New York Times, but neither of these mentions has resulted in a burst of sales.
What has boosted sales? Instagram and Facebook mentions from influential bloggers!Working With Bloggers
Many bloggers have requested Little Goodall coats for giveaways. Molly has found it’s a delicate balance to get the right fit. She was noticing that other giveaway entrants would provide $12 items. People who entered those giveaways weren’t necessarily Molly’s target audience - they were simply people looking to win free stuff! Molly needed to find bloggers who spoke directly to her target market: lifestyle and fashion bloggers, for example.
Molly has also found that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to audience size. A blogger with 10K followers may not produce a great result, but if a blogger has 2K followers who are really interested in her product and would be potential customers, there’s probably room for a partnership.
Product-Market Fit is just so key!Molly's Adorable Mom Moment
Over Thanksgiving, Molly’s son Carter broke his arm. It wasn’t a serious break, but enough to have a cast and be a bit exciting! When Carter’s cast was removed, the doctor made a big deal to repeat that Carter’s job would be to keep his arm very still while the cast was cut off. After repeating “your job is to keep your arm very still” multiple times, the doctor asked, “Okay Carter, what was your job again?”
Carter responded, “An architect! I’m going to be an architect!” How sweet and perfect is that!?
We learned a TON from Molly’s accomplishments! It’s always wonderful to see a handmade shop succeed.Find Molly Online!
Feb 23 2016
Rank #2: 181: Bring More Enjoyment to Life Through Boundaries
Surprise! I’ve got another team member on the podcast for you. This will be our last podcast episode of 2017, and you can expect new episodes beginning again in February 2018. (Awwww! Don’t miss us too much! You can always listen back to old episodes in the meantime.) I think Victoria’s thoughts will be a great way to leave 2017. She talks about ways to honor your own boundaries and prevent burnout in your life.
As you plan for 2018, I hope you’ll keep these thoughts in mind. To get a head start on setting your own boundaries and goals, head to: bit.ly/blpprintables.
Dec 11 2017
Rank #3: 171: 7-Figure Online Store in Under a Year Using Facebook Ads
Oh Friends, I’ve been dying to share this episode with you! Today on the show I’m pleased to welcome Jamie Clinard, who owns the shop Saturday Morning Pancakes. She creates adorable t-shirts for moms and kids inspired by 90s hip hop. You’ll have to head to the show notes to check out Jamie’s hilarious and so adorable shirts.
What makes this interview so exciting and so incredible is that by digging into Facebook and Instagram ads last summer, Jamie has taken her business from being a nice hobby ($500-$1,000 a month in income) to hitting $1 Million in sales in March of 2017! She told me she’s on track to do $2.6 Million for her business this year(!!!)Listen Now
And, no, Jamie didn’t start teaching others how to grow a business to get these amazing results. She doesn’t have all these hidden revenue streams or $1,000 products she’s selling. She just dug deep and focused on her t-shirt shop.
Jamie got busy serving her customers well, finding new customers, creating ads, testing audiences, and scaling what’s working. That’s all she’s done, and she’s hit $1M in sales! When Jamie reached out to me to tell me what a difference Facebook ads have made in her business, I was seriously stunned!!
Now I KNOW Facebook ads work, but to go from a hobby biz to a 7-figure biz in less than a year?! They’re even more powerful than I realized!
I hope you will listen to this interview with an open mind. Don’t set up barriers for yourself and think, “well, Jamie must have something special that I don’t.”
Or “Jamie just got lucky.”
Or “Great for Jamie, but this won’t work for me.”
I want you to know Jamie is a SAHM, just like me and just like you. She grew her business in the margins. She was tinkering with ads during naptime and bedtime, and her business started taking off!
In fact, after the first month when business really exploded, she had to turn her ads off because she was getting SO much business. She took the time to hire the right employees, set up the right systems, and then she turned the ads back on for massive growth!
I hope hearing from Jamie will get you excited at what’s possible when you use Facebook ads to grow your business!4:00 - A Shop That Started...Thanks To Pancakes!
Jamie is also a mom of two kids, a 4-year-old girl and 18-month-old little boy. She worked in gang prevention before she got pregnant. She loved her work, but when she was expecting her daughter, her family decided it was time to pursue something different. There’s so much negativity in the world that Jamie wanted to find an outlet to bring more light and laughter to people.
Jamie has always been a fan of 90’s rap and hip hop. In college she created a playlist called ‘Saturday Morning Pancakes’ to crank up every Saturday morning while she made pancakes for her roommates. They were the kinds of songs you just HAD to dance to!
So when she thought about a company name, that was the first thing that popped into her mind. She thought about how funny it would be to incorporate hip hop phrases into kids clothing… turning something “tough” into something funny and cute.
And it worked! People loved it. Saturday Morning Pancakes has taken off. (Just wait until you hear the behind the scenes!)7:24 - Best Seller From The Beginning
Jamie’s first tee design is actually still her best seller -‘Regulators Mount Up’. The song is so popular and well-known, but the twist of the kid tricycle is just so funny. That’s why Jamie thinks the tee has sold well.8:40 - Crazy Business Growth...Thanks to Facebook Ads!
We’ve been hinting a lot about Jamie’s crazy growth, let’s get to it!
Until the summer of 2016, Jamie was doing everything for her business -- from the screen printing and shipping, to the marketing and designing, in her garage - with two kids in the house! Something snapped in Jamie and she wanted more from her business. With that motivation, she started researching Facebook ads, Instagram marketing, and email newsletters. It was pretty overwhelming to tackle all at once! So Jamie decided to pick one method and roll with it.
It was around this time that Jamie found FB Brilliance. She was in a PR-focused group called Cupcake Magazine. She asked if anyone knew anything about Facebook Ads, and a member directed her to Brilliant Business Moms!
She found us thanks to that group, and joined our course. It took Jamie two months to get through the content with two little ones at home, but it was exciting! She kept pushing past the tech hurdles and tougher parts of mastering ads, and she finally got her ads up and running!
Jamie’s first ads were okay, but once she sat down and thought about her customer, it all started to come together. Jamie started thinking about all of the websites she would visit online, and all the interests she had, and she used that to narrow in on her targeting and show her ads to the right people.
She started testing a few audiences at once, and things really started snowballing! As Jamie’s sales started to grow in a big way, her husband finally told her, “You need to turn off the ads!” She got so many orders that it was almost scary! She knew she couldn’t continue to run the business on her own. Jamie and her husband sat down together to refocus, and make a plan.
Jamie hired a fantastic college girl to help her with shipping, and the business kept growing the more she scaled her ads. It was really fun...and addicting!
After a few growth spurts, Jamie was able to get some warehouse space and hire even more staff to handle fulfillment and shipping.
With all this growth, Jamie is still really involved in her business. She does all her Facebook ads and product design herself, but she has a team that helps her ship, and a company that helps her screenprint her tees.13:20 - Nobody Can Nail The Heart Of Your Brand Like You Can
Jamie tried hiring an ad agency to help with Facebook ads, because she thought there might be a lot of information she didn’t know. But… the ad agency totally bombed! They were targeting all sorts of strange interests and creating ads that just didn’t resonate with Jamie’s ideal customers. This experience helped Jamie realize she REALLY was the person who knew her business best!
At the end of the day, a big fancy ad agency can’t capture what makes your business unique as much as you can. No one else has that special sauce!
In our case Ellen, our team member, is perfect at making ads exactly how I envision them. Jamie also has an awesome team member Carli, who is their Social Media Manager and always hits the nail on the head with her funny posts.
Jamie’s first hire was her General Manager, Jenn, who is in charge of all operations. (To meet her entire, awesome team, just visit their about page!) It is scary to let go, but oftentimes letting go in some areas will allow you to grow! Isn’t it hard to be a mom and CEO?16:00 - Tips For Hiring A Team
We always recommend hiring for personality. That really matters!
Jamie has found that her customers really connect with her team! They love getting to see them in action. Her team shares hilarious videos on Instagram stories, and Jamie loves it when fans write to her saying, ‘Your Team Is So Cute!’.16:50 - Just HOW Big Did She Grow?
To give you a sense of how much Jamie’s business has grown: she has 9 employees, a shared warehouse with an aftermarket company, and a shared space with a non-profit.
Her business is bringing in six figures each month. “I never thought this was possible in my LIFE! I didn’t even think six figures in a YEAR was achievable!”18:14 - Crushing Business Goals at SMP
Okay, so I have to go on a little rant here. A lot of us mompreneurs receive patronizing comments on a regular basis: ‘“Oh honey, your cute little business” - that kind of thing. And it’s so frustrating! All of us are capable of six figure years and more!! We need to ignore the patronizers who think we just have a cute hobby. Our businesses can be so much more than that if we want them to be!
In fact, Saturday Morning Pancakes is already a seven-figure company! (That’s still a goal of ours here at Brilliant Business Moms!) When Jamie hit a million in sales for the year, she was so in the grind trying to make sure everything was working, that she almost missed the milestone! (It happened in March of this year!)
Once she realized that her company had surpassed seven figures, she and her husband did have a celebratory beer on the couch, and kept on working hard. “I would say to myself, ‘It’s working! It’s working! I hope it keeps working!’ I kept thinking I would wake up one morning and the ads would suddenly not work.”
So far, Jamie’s business just keeps on growing, and now, she’s got a huge base of happy customers who will continue to come back and buy from her again and again!21:00 - Why You Shouldn’t Set an Ads Budget
So you ladies might freak when you hear how much Jamie is spending on ads, but stick with us to hear her ROI!
Jamie determines how much to put into a given ad set (a particular audience that she’s showing a particular ad to) based on whether she’s getting sales for $6 or less from that ad set. If a couple of days go by and Jamie’s cost per sale is much higher than $6, she’ll turn off that ad set.
And if she’s getting sales conversions for as little as $1 to $2 each, she will scale those ads aggressively!
At first, Jamie started with ads for 2 t-shirt designs, and tested 5 different audiences per shirt. These days, she’ll often have 7 different ads going to 7-10 ad sets (audiences) inside each campaign.
Jamie never caps her budget. If your ads are doing well, and earning you profitable sales, don’t limit your success by capping!
Early on Jamie and her husband DID experience some moments of panic: “Oh my gosh! We’re spending $500 a day on ads!”
In March, when they hit 7 figures, they probably spent $1,000 a day - and made $5,000 or more back in sales on that same day.
Again, she always bases her spend off of her conversion metric: $6 sales conversions or less = scale up baby!
You might have some growing pains at first, but if you’re making profitable sales and can fill your orders, keep scaling! Hint: This is EXACTLY how we do things here at Brilliant Business Moms too, and I never would have hit six figures so quickly without this strategy!
(And, yes, Jamie checks on her ads at least 3 times a day to make sure they’re still profitable :)24:05 - A Great Big Ads Mistake
Since Jamie is earning such a great profit from her ads already, one day of having a loss with her ads would be a bummer, but it wouldn’t end her business or anything!
And of course, Jamie has setbacks or days when the ads perform less well than others.
Jamie told me about the time when she meant to increase an ad set budget to $50 a day, but accidentally changed it to $5,000 per day! She didn’t catch the mistake for almost 3 hours!!! Eeek!!!
Sales went through the roof, but she DOES NOT recommend this method! Her cost per sales conversion was $30 each, so Jamie was losing a bit of money on each sale. Thankfully she caught her mistake quickly enough and didn’t spend the entire $5,000! It was more like $300, with some sales thrown in to recoup most of those costs.
Jamie’s story totally cracks me up, because it sounds like something I would do! We all have goof-ups, but usually they’re just opportunities for growth and knowing what not to do next time :)25:30 - Why Spending Big Can Mean Big Profits
It’s easy to spend $1,000 a day when you’re getting profitable sales. In Jamie’s case, if she’s spent $30,000 on ads in a month, she’s made about $100,000 in sales that month - or more! Jamie says she’s getting back 3x her Facebook ad investment.
If for every dollar I give Facebook they give me back three or four dollars in return? Well, I’ll keep giving them dollars all day long!
Cause here’s the thing: You can decide not to spend money on ads and work your buns off to earn $10,000 month all on your own. And I know you can do it!
But think about all the extra cash Jamie gets in the door from ads. She’s working the same amount as that solopreneur bringing in $10,000/month, but in Jamie’s case, she’s bringing in $70,000/month after she accounts for her ad spend. Even if you then factor in her growing team and say, half of those profits go to expenses, Jamie’s still coming out way ahead at $35,000/month in her pocket. (This is just a general example for you to see why ads can be amazing for your business!)
“It felt like magic,” Jamie said.
Scaling Facebook ads for massive sales can be easy when you have a great product and you know your target market really well. And the more ads you run, the better you get at knowing what your customers will respond to!26:50 - Campaign Structure
Most of Jamie’s campaigns are optimized for conversions and then she chooses the purchase event. Facebook is so good at optimizing whatever action you tell them to!
I’ve started optimizing for purchases with my $15 mini classes. I can show my ads to a cold audience, get super affordable purchases, and get a 2-3x ROI on my ad spend.
And here’s a quick tip! Facebook has a neat resource called Facebook Blueprint. Sometimes they’ll do mini classes to help your ads experience. The teaching style is a bit robotic, but sometimes the instructors will totally nerd out and give you insider info!
This is a recent tip I learned inside a Facebook Blueprint class: People who are strong clickers are different than strong converters.
Some people assume a traffic campaign will be enough -- just to get clicks and eyes on their site. But there’s way more competition for those clickers. And the clickers aren’t necessarily the same people who will convert into a customer. Just something to keep in mind as you run ads.29:10 - Getting Started With Facebook Ads
So what did Jamie’s first ad look like and how did it do?
Her first ad was...also her worst ad! The very first ad Jamie ran was a promo saying they hit 10,000 followers on Instagram. She had 30 Facebook followers at the time. Needless to say, the results weren’t great!
After taking our course, Jamie’s first ‘real’ ad was for one of her adult tee shirts that read ‘But First Gangsta Rap’ with a selfie of her wearing it. She was targeting cold audiences as she hadn’t quite figured out lookalike audiences just yet. But her sales were profitable!
Jamie says she tried targeting from every angle to narrow in on her ideal customers, and probably 90% of the audiences she tested were not successful, but the 10% that were she threw everything at them and made massive sales!
Jamie’s purchase pixel was already in place to track those sales and measure exactly how much it was costing her per sale for a given audience she was targeting.31:05 - How Much Should You Spend to Know if it’s Working?
Some of Jamie’s audiences convert immediately, low and quickly. Those are the ones she pushes money towards. Some audiences have no sales for 3 days, but all of a sudden they take off like wildfire.
Jamie gives each ad set about 3 days at $5 a day before calling it quits. And if she has a gut feeling to push one audience a bit further, she’ll go with it! The more you run ads, the more you’ll get a feel for what’s worth hanging onto and what you can stop on day 1 because you just KNOW it’s not going to work out!32:33 - First Month Ad Results
Jamie can describe her results best by growth.
She started advertising after finishing FB Brilliance in August. She experienced an immediate growth in sales of 500%. It was fast! And she instantly became a crazy person with Facebook ads. She really wanted to push things off the ground. She was researching audiences and checking her ads every 6 hours.
“You can’t give up right away if it doesn’t go well,” Jamie cautions. She went through about 20 audiences before one worked. But once it worked, it REALLY WORKED.
I still remember Jamie emailing me at the end of last August telling me about her month of 17k in sales! Things took off for her really quickly because she was constantly testing and tweaking her ads strategy!
The selfie with her tee shirt was her only ad she was running at the time, but then she created ads for her ‘Regulators’ kid tee. Facebook tends to like women’s shirts better than their kids’ shirts, which is interesting!34:40 - Way to go Facebook!
I see Jamie’s ads in my Instagram feed all the time! I’m someone who sees a product I love, and I will buy it right away! Way to go Facebook, very smart with the targeting ;)
The Facebook pixel is seriously awesome, you guys. They will go out and find people who will give you sales at the most affordable rate!35:50 - Mind Blown With Lookalike Audiences
Delving into Lookalike audiences really blew Jamie away. She did a lookalike audience based on her website visitors at first. Then she created an audience based on people who watched a marketing video SMP produced. Jamie has created lookalikes of people who have visited certain pages on her website, and a lookalike of her customers. You can get really deep with it! It’s amazing what Facebook can do!36:31 - So Many Lookalike Options!
I, Beth Anne, am currently running ads to build my email list. Let me give you an idea of how many lookalike audiences I’m leveraging:
- I have a lookalike of everyone on my email list
- I have lookalikes of people who have visited certain blog posts
- I have a value-based lookalike (which is a new feature Facebook rolled out where they take all your customer data and try to find people who will spend the most with you!)
- I have general customer lookalikes
- I have lookalikes of webinar signups
You can do so many things with lookalikes, and the coolest part is, no one else’s lookalike will be just like yours - so you’ve got all these killer audiences of millions of people that only you can really target to! (Ok not exactly but… you won’t be competing person-for-person the way you would with an interest-based audience!)37:20 - Are Lookalikes the Best Performers? Or Interest-Based Audiences?
Cold traffic sometimes will perform better than lookalikes for Jamie! If the shirt she’s advertising has been around a while, then cold traffic audiences are better. If it’s a new shirt she’s introducing to her audience, lookalikes or retargeting ads are best.
One caveat: sometimes Jamie finds that her ads will suddenly stop performing. What she’ll have to do then is change up a new picture and post text for the same shirt, reset the ad, and the sales turn back on. This is all part of being a savvy business owner!38:36 - Jamie’s Best Ads
Let’s have a look at some of the best ads Jamie has run.
The first ‘But First Gangster Rap’ Tee, featuring her daughter’s preschool teacher!
Image: Selfie type of photo that moms relate to. It’s totally cool, casual mom style!
Copy: Coffee is great, but for reals, though. Nothing gets our day started quite like a little Biggie Smalls, am I right?
Get free shipping with promo code → GRFreeShip
Grab yours here -> Bitly Link40:20 - Talking To Your Audience Like a Friend
I love how conversational, casual, and fun Jamie’s ad is! This is how you would share about t-shirt you really like with a friend. That’s why it resonates so much with people.
Jamie says she doesn’t want her company to feel like a big name brand.
Saturday Morning Pancakes include gifs and memes in all of her emails. Jamie responds best when she can laugh with someone and, let’s be honest, who doesn’t!?41:11 - Another Winning Ad
Copy: First Gansta Rap. Then Coffee. Then I do the things. Grab this super soft gangster rap tee and turn your cold, cozy mornings into hip hop awesomeness.
Get your free shipping code here → GRFreeShip
And if you remember back to Melissa Kaiserman’s episode, she also said her customers don’t often use her free shipping codes! They just love the product! It’s nice to include coupon codes, but don’t be surprised if most of your new customers don’t use them!42:57 - Pricing Tees
Jamie charges $31 for an adult tee and $21 for her kids sizes. So again, people aren’t coming to her for cheap tees, but they are coming to her for these hilarious and fabulous products that tell the world what they’re all about!
Another factor in pricing the tees is that they’re sourced with high quality fabric, which makes her costs higher.
Don’t be afraid to charge what you’re worth, and of course, leave enough wiggle room so you can afford to pay to acquire a new customer. THAT’S how you scale up a business!44:00 - Has Manufacturing Changed?
Does Jamie screenprint her own shirts? SMP does work with a screenprinter now, due to the quantity. There’s just too many to do on her own! But Jamie does still screenprint a few of her shirts.
During Christmas of 2016, Jamie was still screenprinting 60% of her tees, and her heating element went out! She was desperate for a solution, and even tried baking her tees in her oven! Jamie says she was desperate to make things work and not keep her customers waiting!45:46 - Another Ad
This ad is a flat lay of a t-shirt that says ‘You're The Wu To my Tang’ with a cute pair of sunglasses and cut-off jean shorts.
Copy: GREAT NEWS! We are now offering our Wu Tang tees in another color! Woot woot for Wu Tang!
Grab yours here: (bitly link to the shop page)
Get 10% OFF with the code WuTang.
(And shocker again! Not a lot of people are using the 10% off coupon!)46:22 - What’s Working For Jamie Right Now
Jamie has a great product that appeals to a specific niche. She’s always testing marketing.
What else is working for her right now?
“Build a community! People know when they're being sold to,” Jamie says. “I love my customers, and I’m sure we’d all be best friends if we had the chance!”
I know just like Jamie, you and your customers are passionate about all the same things. You all have a story. Jamie has extended her branding and connection to her customers all the way down to the packaging of her products! Everything she does is light and fun!
If you’re just trying to make a quick buck, people will know. Your business should be community-oriented.48:00 - Loyal Customers
Jamie says she’s always had a strong, loyal customer base. About 70% of her customers are new this year because she’s just growing like crazy. But once she earns a customer, they ARE repurchasing!
This is why even if you can just break even on ads but get a bunch of loyal customers for years to come, it's worth it!50:04 - Jamie’s Adorable Mom Moment
You’ll have to listen for this adorable burn from Jamie’s 4-year-old daughter! I was cracking up!51:20 - FB Brilliance is Opening its Doors Again!
Was that not incredible hearing from Jamie!?
Here’s the exciting news: If you’re ready to dig into Facebook and Instagram just like Jamie did and explode your business growth, I’m opening the doors to my course on Facebook advertising, FB Brilliance, this month!
The doors will open Thursday, September 21st and they will ONLY be open for a week. I will close the doors Wednesday, September 27th - and that’s it, friends!
I won’t re-open the course til next April.
But I don’t want you to wait 7 months to learn a strategy that will get you the biggest bang for your buck and help you scale your business like Jamie did.
In the meantime, I’m running a scholarship program from Tuesday, September 12th - Saturday, September 16th. This scholarship will be hosted inside my new Facebook group FB Ads For Brilliant Mamas.
Five motivated ladies who submit their answers to all 5 assignments I give during my lessons will receive lifetime access to FB Brilliance, for free!
You want to be in this group, and you WANT to be eligible for this scholarship by completing our totally doable assignments.
And if you’re not sure about FB Brilliance, you still want to be in the group because you’ll learn a lot from my live sessions! (Jamie is also going to make a surprise appearance in the group towards the end of September!) Don’t hold yourself back! I know you can do it!
Even if you have doubts that you can succeed, we will all be there to rally around you and help!
And you can still grab our cheat sheet, 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Run Your First Ad right here: brilliantbusinessmoms.com/facebookadscheatsheetKeep In Touch With Jamie
Sep 12 2017
Rank #4: 119: How to Grow a Printables Shop on Etsy with Sarah Gilcher
On today’s episode we welcome Sarah Gilcher of the very successful Etsy shop, Perennial Planner.Sarah lives in Washington State with her husband and three daughters. She creates printable organizational tools and planners and actually took our ideas and inspiration and brought them to life with her work on the Brilliant Business Planner! Sarah has been such a wonderful part of our Brilliant Business Moms community since it first began. She's kind, brilliant, and crazy talented!On the Podcast
01:28 - Sarah's Top Priorities03:17 - Sarah's Start on Etsy05:37 - Self-Taught Designer07:31 - Finding her Niche11:34 - 3,000 Sales in 1 Year's Work!13:31 - How to Make a PDF Editable15:41 - Building a Lifestyle Business17:18 - How Sarah's Business Helps her Family18:56 - Two Streams of Income27:15 - To Blog or not to Blog?31:44 - 3 Kids + a Successful Shop: How She Does It36:50 - The Power of Video for Business41:56 - Sarah's Terrifying Mom Moment!Sarah's Top Priorities
Sarah is a stay at home mom to three little girls who are 6, 4, and 13 months old. Her husband is a pastorand spends a lot of time learning new languages and training new pastors. Sarah's main priorities are as a wife, mom, and helper in so many ways to her husband. She helps with his ministry, and she also has the privilege of helping to bring in an extra income for their family.Sarah's Start on Etsy
Sarah’s journey with Etsy began when she was searching for a specific printable grocery list. When she couldn't find exactly what she wanted, she decided to open up Adobe Illustrator and create one herself! Sarahthen realized that she could make her printable cute and share it with other moms who may be looking for the same thing.
Sarah was excited about helping women with organizational tools that were attractiveand that moms would actually want to use. Another early item in Sarah's shop was a spreadsheet she and her family had used to get themselves out of debt. Clearly, Sarah's organizational sheets were helpful! All she did was make them prettier, and they were ready for Etsy success.Self-Taught Designer
Sarah has a degree in Fine Art, but she's a self-taught graphic designer. In doing projects for her church,friends, and for herself, Sarah slowly learned programs like Adobe Illustrator and In Design over the course of several years. Now she can create beautiful printables and planners like it's nothing! (Seriously - Sarah works fast!)Finding Her Niche
Business was very slow when Sarah was started out with her printables Etsy shop. Since she was pregnantwith her 3rd baby, Sarah became interested in the idea of sewing and selling baby products in a brand new shop. She knew that baby products were a wildly successful niche on Etsy and wanted a piece of that pie. Through this process of trying to build up her second Etsy shop, Sarah spent a lot of time learning how to grow her store.
She listened to podcasts like Brilliant Business Moms and took the advice of other successful Etsy sellers. Sarah then applied the lessons she learned to both Etsy shops and found that her original printable store was seeing lots of growth.
Since product creation is so much more time consuming than selling digital products, and since her digital store was seeing more growth, Sarah ditched the baby shop and focused on her original idea. She rebranded the shop and officially become Perennial Planner. After about a year of focused work, Sarah's shop has surpassed 3000 sales!3,000 Sales in 1 Year's Work
Sarah has attributed a lot of her success to listening to the Brilliant Business Moms podcast! (aww shucks, thanks Sarah!) She found that listening to stories of other successful business owners has been a huge help for her.
Once Sarah started seeing her Etsy shop as a real business, success followed. Sarah shared two great tips that helped her to grow:
- Focus on keywords, titles, and tags for each listing to get found more often via Etsy search.
- Brand product photos so that your online shop looks more cohesive. This gives the customer a similar feeling as if they were stepping inside a physical shop. Set the right tone for your customers.
A lot of Sarah’s printables are actually editable forms so customers can use them right on their computers.
To Make a PDF Editable:
- Use Adobe Acrobat Pro (this is a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Subscription).
- Find “tools” on the top menu.
- Select “Forms”, then “Edit”, and “Add New Fields”. This will allow you to create editable fields for your customers built right into your digital products.
- Note: you cannot copy and paste your fields throughout the document to add more than one editable filed. Instead, select “Create Multiple Copies” to speed up the process.
- You will also be able to give fields multiple lines and make them rich text enabled so customers can change the size and fonts of the text.
How cool is that?!Building a Lifestyle Business
Sarah's top priority is her family and her faith. She knew she needed a flexible schedule, and she quickly realized that she didn't want to create and ship physical products day after day.
Creating beautiful and helpful digital products has been the perfect solution for Sarah. The best part? She can create a product once and sell it over and over again... even while she sleeps!How Sarah's Business Helps her Family
Perennial Planner has provided Sarah’s family with more financial freedom. Since she has little to no overhead she is able to bring home more profits, and that money has helped cover the “extras” for her family. Sarah and her family live a Dave Ramsey lifestyle with no debt. Although her husband provides the primary income, her Etsy shop has worked to cover extra expenses and provide more security.Occasionally Sarah does struggle with the idea that she is bringing in extra money and struggles with the mentality, "oh the business will cover that!" versus remembering to be intentional with how she spends and what the family's big goals are.Two Income Streams
Sarah loves doing whatever she can to help busy moms by providing them with the organizational tools they need. Often customers’ needs are slightly different from her product so she offers customization. This is hard to balance with the overall business because custom work in any business can be very time consuming. Sarah counters this struggle with requiring a minimum amount for custom products so that each order is worth the time she puts in.
On top of doing custom orders for her Etsy shop, Sarah enjoys taking on freelance projects. This provides another great stream of income for her business, and it keeps her income balanced and weatherproof during a slow season on Etsy.
In the past, Sarah has done work for local businesses but lately she is getting more referrals from her shop and past customers.
One of Sarah’s biggest freelance jobs so far has been designing the Brilliant Business Planner! She landed this job by seeing a need for her service and reaching out to Sarah and Beth Anne. This is a great lesson for any entrepreneur -- it never hurts to ask. The worst thing that can happen is that someone says no, but on the flip side you could land a great job and a great partnership!
Sarah really enjoys these larger projects and they work out well to balance out the times when her Etsy shop slows down during the year. (We've certainly loved working with Sarah and hope to keep her busy for years to come!)To Blog or Not to Blog?
As with many other Etsy sellers Sarah has struggled with blogging to promote her shop. Blogging takes time and commitment, and it's often too much to add on to an already busy shop!
Recently, Sarah did a post on how to print her products double sided. She plans to focus more on helpful, instructional type videos that will serve her current customers. She can link to these videos within the listing descriptions in her shop.
Videos are a great tool for serving current customers better as well as gaining trust and credibility with new shoppers. Sarah and Beth Anne created a video about how to build a butterfly terrarium and that video has sold more products as well as ranked well on Google for some competitive keyword phrases in their niche! (And isn't Sarah's little girl Lilly adorable?)
Your videos don’t have to be perfect or even posted on your own website, just get them posted to your YouTube channel and out in front of an audience!3 Kids + a Successful Shop: How She Does It
Building a successful business can take a bit time commitment, but Sarah proves that you can do it with just a few hours a week. Sarah only works 10-15 hours each week and balances this time between afternoons (during naptime) and nights (if her husband is working).
A great tip Sarah shared was to encourage independence in smaller children so they can be playing alone and entertained at least for a short time while you do some work. Sarah has been able to achieve her goal of making a part-time income on her own terms with lots of flexibility. Although she tries to continually create new products, she knows that her business was built to allow for flexibility and put her family first. So Sarah doesn't stress if she can't add new products for a while. Her business works for her - not the other way around!
Sometimes when you're working as your own boss it's easy to set crazy deadlines or hours for yourself without realizing it. Step back, know your limits and ask yourself if you and your family are thriving. It can take a long time to learn how you work best but it is so important so you can set up your time and your business for success.The Power of Video for Business
Many online business owners don't realize how powerful video can be for their business. Not only does it let you connect with your audience on a deeper level and teach things that are difficult to convey with words on a screen, but video also makes it easier to rank in Google (as well as get found on YouTube of course!)
The video that Sarah and Beth Anne created on how to build a butterfly terrarium has 967 views! This video has had zero promotion and only one “dead link” included in the listing descriptions in their Etsy shop.
Another surprising video result: Beth Anne found a tutorial video she created for her and Sarah's now-defunct Mommy blog on making cappuccinos at home with a frother. That video has almost 5,000 views on it! Again, this video wasn't promoted in any way, it just sits on their Mommy blog which gets about 10-20 hits per day... so it's essentially dead. The video is getting viewed because it's ranking for keyword phrases on Google and YouTube.
These statistics just show how powerful video can be. You could use video views to send people to an Etsy shop or blog. How can you use video to drive more traffic and sales your way?
If you're nervous about starting out on video, Meredith Marsh, the VidProMom has you covered with these great tips for newbies.Sarah's Terrifying Mom Moment!
Sarah's mom moment is both funny and terrifying!! You'll have to tune in to hear the story!Find Sarah Online!
Watch Sarah's adorable little girls in our planner landing page video! (They're the ones talking about Pinterest strategy!)
Don't forget to join in on our book club for Money Making Mom by Crystal Paine. You can find the schedule here.
Nov 10 2015
Rank #5: 118: Marketing an Etsy Shop with Julie Fuller of Tokyo Blossom Boutique
Julie recently re-branded her shop, and now it's filled with fun, vibrant, colorful knitwear and accessories. She's truly set herself apart in the knitwear space, and we can't wait to see how she grows.Topics Discussed on our Etsy Strategy Blab
- Branding. This Fall, Julie re-branded her shop with a palette of 6 bold, beautiful colors. Now her shop looks and feels cohesive and has a fun feel to it. The best part about re-considering her products and re-branding? Julie now feels so proud of her shop! She's excited to tell everyone she knows about it, and even her friends and family now call it her business - not just her cute little shop.
- Tip: Make products you're truly proud of - this is half the battle when it comes to marketing yourself and making sales.
- Etsy Promoted Listings. Promoted listings can be a great strategy for getting found as a new shop. Some tips to remember: If you're able to get clicks, favorites, and sales on a promoted listing, that extra SEO bump absolutely transfers over into that listing even when it's not promoted. You will see an improvement in your search engine rankings if your promoted listing does well.
- Promoted Listings Tip 2: Etsy seems to favor the more expensive listings - giving them more views and exposure overall. The theory: Etsy stands to make a lot more off of each sale when a more expensive item is sold. So consider choosing your most expensive listings to promote.
- Promoted Listings Tip 3: If you have an item that is performing well as a promoted listing, you can often bid a super low amount (3 cents per click) and Etsy will continue to promote that listing. Again, if they know your listing will sell much better than someone else's, they have no problem taking your 3 cents per click because they will still make a better profit overall.
- Promoted Listings Set-up: You can choose your maximum budget per day, and choose as low as $1.00 per day. Then, you get to decide which listings you'll promote. My recommendation is to promote just a few listings at a time so you can monitor what's working as well as push a few listings to the top of search results versus spreading yourself too thin. Then, you decide how much you're willing to pay per click for that listing. You can go with Etsy's recommendation (auto-bid) or you can choose your own bid amount - and that can be either higher or lower than Etsy's recommendation. One caveat: if you set a high bid and a low budget amount, you may run out of your budget early in the day and miss "prime-time" for buyers.
- Promoted Listings Tip 4: My benchmark for a successful promoted listing: getting at least 1 click for every 50 impressions of a promoted listings. But if your listing only gets 1 click per every 200 impressions, then that product photo may need some work - you're not generating enough interest in that product.
- Promoted Listings Tip 5: Promoted Listings is a great way to test which search terms are most effective for reaching your ideal customer. Etsy will show you which of your terms have high click-through rates.
- Promoted Listings Tip 6: You still have to be diligent with your titles, description, and tags
- Crochet vs. Knit: In Julie's experience, tagging your items as "crocheted" often attracts other crocheters looking for new ideas versus a customer whose ready to buy. Julie finds that tagging her items as hand-knit is a much better choice for attracting her ideal customer.
- Main Traffic Sources: Julie is getting most of her shop traffic through Instagram and Facebook. So she's off to a good start with social media marketing.
- Facebook Parties: Julie designates an hour where she would have a party on her Facebook fan page. Julie then told a few of her friends about the party and asked them to spread the word. She offered everybody who participated a 10% off coupon for her store, but told them that one person would win the grand prize.
- Facebook Party Part 2: Every 5-10 minutes there was a new game on Julie's page that you could participate in. For each question a participant answered, they received "party bucks". The person who received the most party bucks won the grand prize at the end. 30 minutes into the party, many new people were involved because Julie's posts were getting so much interaction that they were showing up in new people's feeds. Julie received a lot of traffic from the party and several sales as well.
- Instagram Loop Giveaways: Julie could consider a loop giveaway on Instagram where she gives away shop credit instead of a finished product. In this way, Julie isn't out the entire cost and labor of a product, but rather, could gain a new customer for her shop along with many new followers.
- What to do about Etsy's purchase limits: Etsy doesn't let you give a straight "gift certificate" to your shop. If you offer a coupon for $25 off in your shop, the customer has to purchase 105% of that price in order for the coupon to work. To get around this, just let the customer know about this rule, and you can refund
- Pinterest Group Boards for Etsy Sellers: We're part of several, and you can check out our account here. Amy Gabriel of GabrielsGoodTidings is also part of several great group boards for Etsy Sellers.
- Etsy Traffic Lab, Etsy's Elite, Pinterest Mini-Mall Viral Board.
- How to track Pinterest sales: Use a special coupon code just for your pins to try to track sales. For example, you can state in your pin description, "use the coupon code PIN10 for 10% off your purchase"
- If ViralTag is too expensive, BoardBooster is another option to automatically schedule listings and pins to great group boards.
- Consider Seasonal Boards: When you're really active on Pinterest and you're a great curator, other pinners start to take notice and follow you. Some ideas for Julie: gift ideas for her, handmade gift ideas, winter fashion, and many other topical boards where Julie's products would make a great fit.
- Use vertical photos on Pinterest. You can take your own vertical photo, upload it, and still link that photo to the listing it corresponds to in your Etsy shop.
- Consider pitching to bloggers to be included in their gift guides. Don't forget to follow up 10 days later. Bloggers are busy and can very easily miss your email! Beth Anne writes a conversational email, compliments the blogger or influencer, and then she always includes a positive, confident note at the end such as: "looking forward to working with you!" or "looking forward to chatting soon!" and this subtly suggests that a partnership is going to happen.
- Guest posting: Julie could use her expertise to drive more traffic to her shop. She could teach on why it's important to use high-quality fibers in knit-wear, or why it's important to support small business, or what her business means to her and her family.
- Landing a guest post on the Etsy blog: Beth Anne reached out to Julie Schneider, the editor in chief of the Etsy blog. She initially messaged Julie with a pitch, but an autoresponder came back that linked to an official form to fill out. The form asked for writing samples, specific pitches, and my experience as an Etsy seller. Beth Anne also tied her pitch into past articles to show that she truly knew the blog content well and knew how best to serve that audience. Be specific with your pitch and don't try to cover too much in any given post. Etsy keeps their blog posts relatively basic and short.
- Email opt-in idea: Create a style guide for customers to show them how to wear bright colors in winter. Julie plans to pair her products with other beautiful fashion items - the same way StitchFix sends outfit inspiration with each fix.
- AllThisWood: this shop is a great resource for sellers who want branding on their items. Their wooden tags are perfect for making it through the wash unscathed and making sure each and every happy customer knows exactly where they found you.
- Influencers: We tried to think of a celebrity who would use Julie's adorable coffee cozy and could provide free advertising for her. Julie thought she could drop off some cozies at a cool, hipster coffee shop that her husband does graphic design for.
- Influencer Idea #2: Consider reaching out to Periscope Influencers. There are many influencers who are super positive and would love to hold a coffee with Julie's positive cozies wrapped around them. Don't just send the cozy, but suggest how you would like them to use it "I'd love to see you using my cozy on Periscope." Set up a profile on Periscope so it's really easy for a scoper to point people back to Julie - and her profile could link right to her shop.
- Julie's genius strategy for pricing her products: she weighs her item after she makes it! So in this way, she knows whether it was 3/4th of a skein, etc. and calculates out the exact price of materials that way. Then Julie times herself to know how much her production cost. The other brilliant tip Julie shared? Thicker yarn means that each stitch covers way more space and the labor is far less.
Don't forget to check out Julie's adorable items: Tokyo Blossom on Etsy
Nov 09 2015
Rank #6: 184: How a Single Mom Makes a Full-Time Living with her Shopify Store
Have you ever thought that growing an online business was simply out of your league? Maybe you’re a mom with kids at home, and you’re not sure you have the time or talent to grow the business you’ve been dreaming about?
Today’s podcast guest, Bethany Dasko, has been there too. She’s a single mom with 3 kids, and when she lost her job last year, she decided to treat her online store like a real job instead, and her results are pretty incredible!
Bethany’s Shopify store now supports her family full-time, and she’s also used her shop income to pay off all of her consumer debt. Bethany doesn’t sell anything super expensive or crazy unique (she’s not a magical unicorn!) She sells SVG files - which are design files that can be used with a Cricut cutting machine or Silhouette machine. Her products range in price from $3.50 to $100.
What Bethany DOES do that’s a little unique, is use a product launch system to sell more of her designs. She knows how to create an irresistible offer for her audience and get them really excited and ready to buy when her offer goes live. Bethany says that product launches have played a huge role in her business growth, AND she has a whole lot of fun doing them!
Get the full show notes for this episode here: http://brilliantbusinessmoms.com/episode184
Apr 03 2019
Rank #7: 141: Building a Successful Online Side Hustle in Less than a Year... with Less than $300 to Start! with Hannah Hageman
Hannah Hageman is a mom we met within the last year, when she was just starting a blog online. And it's been really interesting to see how she's transitioned that blog into a service-based business. We thought she'd be great to bring on the show since she hasn't had a business that long, but she's already bringing in an income and supporting her family!
Hannah is mom to two adorable boys and wife to one handsome husband. Her web design company is focused on helping local businesses get visibility.
Welcome to the show, Hannah!On The Podcast
00:45 - A Colorful Past
04:05 - Transitioning from Blog to Business
08:13 - Earning Your First Client
12:06 - Dealing With A Demanding Client
14:34 - Firing Clients
16:30 - Creating A Client Questionnaire
20:27 - Start-Up Costs For A Web Design Business
24:50 - Doubt and Nervousness
27:29 - A Day In The Life Of A WAHM
30:40 - Hannah's Adorable Mom MomentPress Play on the Podcast Player Below to Learn How Personal Finance Impacts Your Business with Rachel!
A Colorful Past
Hannah was born in Seattle, and while she was still young moved to Northern Poland so her mom could get a PhD in International Entrepreneurialism. (Wow!) Then their family moved to Florida for a bit, but eventually they landed back in Washington. Finally, she and her husband moved to Montana - and Hannah says she doesn't want to move anywhere else for the rest of her life!
She considers herself a woman who doesn't do anything halfway. Over the last year Hannah has been on a self-discovery journey, in terms of the kind of business she wants to start.
(A cute example of how she doesn't do anything halfway is that in one week, Hannah: got married, went to Hawaii on her honeymoon, started a job, bought a car, and moved into a new apartment.)
Thanks to her background, she has the perfect blend of analytical and creative thinking to become an entrepreneur.
Hannah is married to Craig and they have two sons: Nells is 4 and Gunner is 2. She loves babies and businesses, but says she should only have one at the same time! Hannah recognizes that creating a start-up company is a lot like having a baby. It takes lots of attention and effort - and who knows, maybe there's even some crying at 2am! But she's putting in a lot of hands-on work now, so that later she can hire help and spend even more time with family. We heartily approve!Transitioning from Blog to Business
Before diving into blogging, Hannah tried a few direct sales businesses, but didn't feel like she fit into that world very well. So she decided to take her entrepreneurial skills online.
She first saw Crystal Paine making a living online, and it got her thinking, "Why would bloggers spend so much time online if they weren't getting paid?" Hannah always thought that blogs were just for people who wanted to journal online, and missed the revenue potential. Blogging also fit the work from home model that she wanted.
One day, Hannah simply started blogging. She didn't throw a huge launch, or make a big deal. She just started.
In those early days Hannah says she learned a lot about conducting business online, networking, and getting plugged into communities.
But, again, she felt like she didn't fit in with the mommy blogger types. She says, "I knew online was the space I wanted to be in, but blogging wasn't the thing I wanted to do." Hannah had built her site using Squarespace, and was loving it! The intention behind Squarespace is to make it easy to build beautiful websites, and Hannah found building her site easy, but soon began to realize that not everyone found website building so seamless.
So she thought, "Why not use my skill of building websites?"
Other than acquiring a business license and filing her LLC, Hannah didn't create a lot of fanfare around her business start. She just began working. She realized she had a skill and her market needed it.
Through a home buying experience, where she struggled to get in touch with local contractors, Hannah knew firsthand how frustrating it was to find businesses online. She understood how it can be hard for contractors and other small businesses to always answer their phones. That's why a web presence is so crucial for any small business! But these customers also don't have time to create a site from scratch or drop $4,000 for custom web design. And so Hannah Hageman Web Design was born.
And her business took off! She's booked out several months in advance, and is constantly getting new inquiries. Customers are coming out of the woodwork! Though she didn't do market research beforehand, this striking proof of concept proves that her intuition was right.
Though taking a plunge based on intuition can be a risk, Hannah trusted that she was on the right path. After direct marketing went wrong, and blogging wasn't a good fit, Hannah knew web design felt right. She knows she's good at web design and people around her need help!Earning Your First Client
Hannah took a really gutsy move to getting her first client. She knows this strategy might be unpopular, but she trolled Facebook for local businesses in her area without a website or with an inactive one. Then she made about 5 to 10 cold-calls and offered her services.
The first guy she called returned Hannah's request about three weeks later. He said he had been meaning to return Hannah's voicemail and was ready for her to start. Start what? Hannah thought. Oh! Building his website! Hannah remembers getting the call under pretty unprofessional conditions, cooking dinner at 4:30 on a Saturday afternoon. She had gone three weeks without any contact from her cold-calls, and wasn't expecting a return.
Her trick was hitting the pavement, finding a need, and meeting that need. Understanding her market meant that Hannah knew she needed to reach out via phone because her customers wouldn't necessarily understand a marketing email. Moving from Seattle to Montana was a bit of a technological backtrack. She had to adjust to the Wild West way of doing things, and she did!
Hannah continued to get call backs and as she booked more clients, news spread about her services. This gutsy way of marketing has paid off. At the Business Boutique an attendee approached Hannah and asked about her name lanyard: "You do web design?" Hannah responded, "Yes I do! Do you need a site?" And Hannah Hageman Web Design earned a new client!
"It's as simple as putting yourself out there," Hannah says. "All you have to do is see a need, and know what your market will respond to. If you don't get in front of people, they won't know you exist."Dealing With A Demanding Client
So, has Hannah ever dealt with a really demanding client? Maybe someone who was very picky about features, or required different skill sets than what Hannah was able to offer? How does Hannah know she'll be a good fit?
Working with clients in general, Hannah thinks that a bit of disagreement and clashing is inevitable. And if you ever feel like you really do just need to fire your client, you're allowed to do that. (Even if it's your first!)
Hannah tried to combat poor client experience from the beginning. Despite not having a big fancy launch, she still put systems in place to protect herself. She figured out which tools she wanted to use, and how she wanted to present herself to clients. She created a process for client interaction, and only has run into trouble when she veered off of that course.
Tip: Figure out how you want to run your business, and communicate those standards to your client, then stick to them.
You can tell by a person's demeanor when the relationship starts to veer off course. (In the particular case Hannah is thinking of, she never agreed to do work she was unqualified to. But she has found communication difficult in this particular case and is bearing the brunt of that tumultuous relationship.)Firing Clients
It feels kind of like we're talking about a breakup! We had to ask Hannah her tips for breaking up with a client in a respectful, tactful way.
She hasn't totally fired a client, but she has stopped work mid-project.
Websites are a big part of business. There are so many ways to use a website, and it seems like ideas can go in all different directions - not all of which are possible. Hannah had a client wanting her to design a T-shirt, which is outside of her wheelhouse. She politely declined that offer, but gave him a next step to take that wasn't her.Creating A Client Questionnaire
Hannah put a lot into her client questionnaire process, and knows it's saved her unnecessary grief in her business. We wanted to hear a bit more about how she structured that document, and how it works.
There are two types of questionnaires Hannah uses: an introductory system and a client system.
She doesn't have a specific list of questions at the introduction phase. Since her business is confined to the geographic location of her hometown, she often ends up asking initial questions over the phone or face to face. Hannah tries to ask probing questions during these conversations, to get a sense of how much the client already knows about design and technology.
Tip: Don't be afraid to dive deep during your introductory questions, as that will give you tons of information about the client you're going to be working with!
Once a client has signed, Hannah then uses her client questionnaire system, a series of questions to help translate the client's vision onto paper in a way that Hannah can use to create their website. Hannah got this 'homework' strategy from Elle & Company and Lauren Hooker.
Tip: It may feel strange to give clients homework, but it is so necessary that clients do a bit of work and be equally invested in the outcome! The client questionnaire model translates to a lot of different businesses. For example, a life coach could use it to gauge where the client is in life to create a baseline for talking to them. Once you're on the clock, all that work is going to cost money. It's wise to get that information up front so the client gets the best value and you are satisfied.Start Up Cost For A Web Design Business
Hannah's answer to this question is super encouraging. Her start-up cost for her business was less than $300! (And it was only that high because one of her kids broke her Microsoft Surface and she had to replace it for about $200 on Craig's List.)
Tip: All you need is a working computer and internet connection. It takes almost nothing to start and there are so many free tools you can use.
Another smart move, Hannah began her Squarespace subscription month-to-month ($15/month) since she didn't have a full year's fee up front.
Her business license was $70.
This is such great news for mamaprenuers wanting a low-cost start-up option! If you're creating a product, there are so many up front expenses: materials, tools you might need, and so on. We think it's absolutely amazing that Hannah started a business for $300 that has brought her family a steady income since she began.
Hannah has a second business that she wanted to talk about: creating an online directory for contractors in her hometown. Remember back when Hannah was buying a house and had a hard time finding businesses in the area to do a few repairs? Again, Hannah saw a need and filled it with her business.
There was only one problem. Her start-up directory would require a $3,000 piece software to get started. She didn't have that money in her pocket, but she did have two options for funding. She called up all the contractors she knew to proof the concept. Every single person she spoke to gave a resounding yes, and asked when they could send her a check!! Hannah ran with this idea, and at the first of the year reached back out to those initial contractors who were interested in the idea. They all agreed to buy, and Hannah rewarded that action with juicy benefits and bonuses. We can't wait to hear how her local business directory turns out!Doubt and Nervousness
As you can tell, Hannah is quite confident and self-assured! We had to ask her if she ever struggled with doubt or nervousness when it came to growing her business.
"OH YES!" Hannah said.
With her directory business, for example, the first contacts she reached out to were members of her church. Hannah says that even though she knew them, making the call was super nerve-wracking! But getting one positive response made it easier to get the next "yes."
Hannah decided that she has a big dream, and it's a good one. Her dream is going to change the life of her family, and she has the power to do that - but not if she succumbs to fear.
Fear is natural. Let it come, then let it pass, and make the phone call.
Hannah's a big believer in fake it 'til you make it, and reminds herself to "be the confident, professional, and experienced web designer you know you will be in three years - but have to be right now to impress the one person in front of you."
You just need one yes.
Yes, Hannah was afraid, and yes, she still experiences a lot of self-doubt, but NO it doesn't stop her from doing what she needs for her family.A Day In The Life Of A WAHM
It is not easy being a mom and a serial entrepreneur! Hannah has two littles at home, and she's starting up businesses. She defines her days as chaotic. Many days she doesn't get anything done, but then she starts fresh; not even the next morning, but the next hour. She just keeps trying.
Hannah did sit down with her husband and laid out her plans. She showed him what she was dreaming of achieving, and explained that they could only make those dreams a reality if they worked together.
Together, she and her husband agreed to a certain amount of time Hannah could spend each week on her business, until the business grew to a point they were able to hire help.
When her husband gets home from work, the Hagemans eat dinner together as a family, and then Hannah hides in her 'lair' to work. She does that three or four times a week. And sometimes when her kids nap at the same time, about one to two times a week, she gets a couple of hours of work accomplished.
But this 'work whenever you get a minute' strategy wasn't sustainable. Life got a bit crazy working in the periphery, so she decided to focus her days. Hannah spends her mornings giving total attention to her boys, and finds that in the afternoon they aren't as demanding of her attention.
Occasionally she'll put them in daycare (like the day we recorded this podcast) if she really needs to buckle down.
Hannah sits down on Sunday nights with her Brilliant Life Planner (awww, thanks Hannah!) to plan out her week, placing to-dos within the time blocks. She doesn't leave any detail out: work, grocery shopping, naps, showering, everything! "I know when the boys go down for a nap today, I need to work an hour because it says so in my planner," Hannah says. Having that baseline at the beginning of the week, Hannah finds it easier to get all the working hours she needs.
Hannah describes her work as more rhythmic than routine, but it's working. She gets about 10-15 hours a week in the margins. And we know that's great!Hannah's Adorable Mom Moment
Her 4-year-old presented himself the other day with tons of sparkly, foam star stickers all over his shirt. They were supposed to be safely tucked away in the craft cupboard in his bedroom! He walked out strutting with such confidence and said, "Mom, I'm the mayor of this house!" Isn't that the cutest!?Stay in Touch with Hannah!
Hannah wants to encourage any new mom pursuing business, and invites you to contact her either in our Facebook group or via email.
Feb 06 2017
Rank #8: 115: How to Partner with Influencers on Instagram to Market your Business
Have we told you lately that we're obsessed with Blab? It's true! Blab is a live-streaming video platform that allows for up to four people to chat on video at once. This past week, we Blabbed with Mei Pak of Tiny Hands Jewelry & Creative Hive Co. and Cheri Tracy of Orglamix Cosmetics. Both women have partnered with influencers on Instagram multiple times to grow their following, their email lists, and ultimately gain more loyal customers and sales.
Press play on the podcast player below to hear the (slightly edited) version of the chat we had. Or, if you'd like to see the whole thing uncut, you can play the Blab video player at the bottom of the notes.
Mei Pak is a serial entrepreneur who started Tiny Hands Jewelry, a handmade scented food jewelry business in 2006. She now teaches other creative entrepreneurs about business at Creative Hive Co. Cheri Tracy sells colorful, cruelty-free cosmetics at Orglamix.com.Growing an Instagram Following
Mei confessed that she grew her jewelry business account on Instagram from 0-1000 followers by buying those followers. She doesn't recommend doing this after having done it herself! It helped build up credibility early on but those followers were fake and unengaged. Mei started a second Instagram account for her newer business @creativehiveco For her new account, Mei has collected a list of hashtags that she knows her ideal customer is using. For every 50-70 likes she gives out to potential customers, a small portion will notice her, head to her profile, and if they like what she's doing, they'll follow her. Mei has 3500 Instagram followers for her @creativehiveco account that is only 3 months old! Mei doesn't follow people unless she finds really great stuff from them, but instead she likes and comments on others' photos to get them to take notice.
Cheri has primarily reached out to influencers to grow her Instagram account. She's reached out to accounts with 1500 followers all the way up to 100,000 followers. Cheri's Orglamix account is about to hit 10,000 followers as of October 2015.
Early on, Cheri also pushed her new Instagram account everywhere. She told her email list. She told her fans on Facebook. She connected with bigger names in her industry on Instagram to get noticed.
Pay attention to the time you post and how it performs. Cheri does a morning post, a lunchtime post, and an evening post around 8 PM. Her night-time posts get the most interaction.
Other ideas for growth: Loop Giveaways, or reaching out to accounts that feature handmade sellers.
Beth Anne has grown the @brilliantbizmom account to 2100 followers as of October 2015. She found relevant hashtags in her niche and liked and commented on recent photos. Then she would also find newer accounts interested in blogging or handmade business and like their photos along with following that account. Iconosquare helps her to unfollow the users who aren't following you back. Her current strategy is to post every day and use relevant hashtags in the first comment. (You can post up to 30 hashtags in one comment.)How an Influencer Can Make an Impact
Mei started off with a great example of just how effective a partnership with an influencer can be. She found an influencer on Instagram one day who had a style and fashion sense matched hers perfectly. This woman was a musician on The Voice. Mei found her email address, introduced herself, told her she loved her style, told her about her jewelry, and offered to send some as gifts for her and her friends and family.
The email landed in the singer's publicist's inbox. The publicist relayed the information, and the woman chose several pieces that she really wanted. This woman then took a photo of all the jewelry laid out on the table and tagged her, and within 48 hours Mei had 2,000 new followers on Instagram.
Mei wants to note that these followers are completely different from paid followers. These are people who saw the photo of her products, genuinely liked them, and took the time to check Mei and her business out and choose to follow her. These are potential customers for Mei that she can build a relationship with.How to Reach Out to Influencers
Cheri sends a direct message on Instagram to an influencer she wants to work with, and about 8 times out of 10, she receives a positive response back.
Whether the influencer wants free product, a gift card, or cash depends on the person and the size of their account.Details to Consider
Use specific hashtags when working with an influencer (to draw in more viewers to the post) and specify the amount of time the post is going to stay up. Cheri thought her sponsored posts would stay up indefinitely, but then a larger influencer told her it would be $100 for 5 hours. So you have to specify whether the post will be up permanently or for a certain time-frame. Once a post is deleted, the hashtags and its ability to be found all disappear.Do you ever send a cold package to Influencers?
Mei has heard of a brand who makes high-end chocolates. If they truly believe the person they're planning to send something to will love their products, and they can't get in touch with them via email or social media, they will go ahead and send out a blind product and that has worked for them.
For Mei, however, she always sends a pitch first to ask for their permission, and then they get to decide which of Mei's pieces they would like the best. Mei says of sending cold packages, "don't be afraid to do that with people who you think will fall in love with your stuff."
Mei is dying to get in touch with Ree Drummond of the Pioneer Woman. We all had ideas for sending the perfect care package to her!What should you say when you pitch an Influencer?
Cheri keeps her pitches really short and sweet, 3-5 sentences, and includes her email address if they'd prefer to get back to her that way versus Instagram direct messages.
Cheri will always find a connection or compliment she can give where she mentions a blog post she loved or an Instagram post she connected with. This lets them know she's a real person and genuinely likes what they do.
Focus on what you can do for them and their customer base and not what they can do for you. For example, Cheri can focus on someone who is an advocate for cruelty-free products.
Mei had several tips to share too:
Don't make the pitch feel like a favor. Make it all about them.
Don't be formal with your greeting. Don't say Hi Ms. So-and-so. That feels spammy. Call the influencer by their first name.
Mei keeps her pitches at 10 lines max.
Don't just read their latest blog post. You have to do your research. They will sniff you out if all you did was read the first post.
Mei also recommends including a P.S. note at the bottom of your emails, because people tend to read and pay attention to that P.S. note!
Mei reached out to an editor of Girl's Life magazine, and that editor had mentioned a band she liked. Mei was able to include a P.S. that she loved this band too and went to college with them!Do Instagram Direct Messages Work?
Does an Influencer have to be following you in order to see your messages? No. You can direct message any account that you personally follow.
Whatever you would say in an email, Cheri sends in a direct message. She gets responses almost immediately for many of her pitches.
Cheri sent a message to Sue B. Zimmerman (the Instagram Expert) the other week and she received a response back within 5 minutes!
Most influencers get back to Cheri within 24 hours, and about 8 out of 10 pitches get back to her with a response. Cheri believes this response rate is much higher than if she were to email them. People who are on Instagram are really active and they're on there all the time. And direct messaging is still under-utilized so it's a quick win right now.
Note: If someone isn't following you on Instagram, your message will show up as a notification at the top of their inbox. The person receiving the message can click the notification and choose to allow messages from that person or not allow. So as long as they allow the message to come through, you're good! And either way, they should see that notification right at the top of their inbox.How to Identify Influencers to Work with
Mei looks for as large a following as possible, but she also looks for great engagement. Her general rule of thumb is to have 5% or more engagement on each posts. For example, an account with 1,000 followers should have 50-100 likes or comments with each post.
If you have a list of hashtags that you know your customers are using, you can see the top 9 most popular posts for that hashtag. Chances are one of the top 9 photos was posted by an Influencer in your niche.
Finding the right Influencers involves some elbow grease. As you explore Instagram and interact, you'll run across Influencers and you can write them down and keep track of them on a spreadsheet.
Cheri also looks for accounts that have high engagement. She searches for relevant hashtags as well and keeps a running list of her favorites.How to Weigh Follower Counts versus Engagement
Although 5% engagement might be hard to find, it tends to be way more worth it for Mei to find those accounts to work with versus just finding the biggest possible account.
Cheri agrees that she tends to get better results with smaller accounts because they tend to be more engaged.
In addition, larger accounts often require a cash payment of $250 or more, versus a smaller account who may accept a free product or a gift card.
When Cheri first started working with influencers she would provide the photos or they'd take one off of her website, but she's seen way better results with lifestyle shots - even if the influencer just shares the package they received. Natural shots right from the influencer perform much better than a generic photo from your site.
Mei says it's not impossible for influencers to use photos from your website. A lot of larger influencers charge more if you use their photo and less if they take their own photo (they got a free product from you.)How much does it cost to work with an Influencer?
Cheri says that larger accounts look for a cash incentive. She's found prices anywhere from $10 up to $5,000 for a post that would stay up for 5 hours. (That account had about 300,000 followers at the time!)
Cheri always starts by offering free product of the influencer's choice, then she'll offer a $50 or $100 gift card. But many influencers just want cash. Cheri has found prices to be about $50-100 per 50,000 followers.
If a private account has representation, they may have rates posted. But Cheri has found that everything is negotiable.
Mei also stressed the importance of negotiating: "Just because we're women doesn't mean we have to always play by the rules," she says.
Mei always chooses to send free product first. Next, she chooses to pay for features where it's anywhere from $40 to $200 with discounts for multiple features, and extra fees to also do a giveaway or keep the post up forever. At $300 you're normally getting a "package" of posts and benefits.
Another option: Working with feature accounts. These are accounts on Instagram that only post photos from other people's accounts within a very specific niche (such as planners, handmade items, skateboarding, you name it!). You don't know who they are or where they're located, but some of them get great engagement with their followers within their niche.Tips for Streamlining on Instagram
Mei hired a Virtual Assistant who re-posts much of Mei's old content on Instagram. This system works because Mei's time is limited, but her engagement has gone down a bit as a result. She used to get over 1,000 likes with just 10,000 followers because she was posting fresh content and it was posted by her - the maker. Mei now gets 600-900 likes on a photo, and her account has over 20,000 followers. Mei tends to push posts from Facebook over to Instagram.
Hiring a virtual assistant for her main business Instagram account also has another added benefit: Mei gets to avoid the drama that can happen there. (Apparently heated words were exchanged over a bacon necklace...made with clay, not real bacon.)
Cheri pushes posts from Instagram over to Facebook to populate her page more often. Facebook and Instagram work well together because you can use a square photo on each so you don't have to edit and re-size.
In general, both ladies (along with us!) found that the followers they have on Instagram aren't usually the same people who follow them on Facebook. You're reaching a new audience when you grow on Instagram.How to Track Sales from Instagram
Cheri uses a bit.ly link in her profile that is linked to a landing page on her site. Her goal with Instagram is not necessarily to get direct sales but to gain email subscribers. Cheri knows the lifetime value of a subscriber so she can track how well sponsored campaigns are working based on how many new subscribers she may get on a certain day when a campaign is live.
Cheri also recommends doing a featured post in combination with a giveaway because your engagement will be much higher. In addition, you can offer a custom discount code to that community and this will allow you to track the success of that feature based on how many customers use that code.
Mei recently moved over to Shopify, but before that she used a self-hosted e-commerce platform. She asked each customer how they found out about her. The majority of her customers came from Facebook, with Instagram coming in at a close second. So even though Mei couldn't directly track Instagram sales she could easily tell that many of her customers were coming from the platform.
Mei reminded us that there are many marketing strategies that you can't directly track - for example, giving out business cards at a craft show or a friend telling another friend about your shop.
There's another barrier to marketing on Instagram - you only have one clickable link which is in your profile. However, Mei says you can counter this resistance by selling directly on the platform. You can ask followers to comment with their Paypal email address to purchase an item and be invoiced via Paypal. Beth Newitt has successfully done this as well.
Spreesy.com allows you to bring your entire shop over to your Instagram profile, and you can do this on Facebook as well. It counters the barrier of only having one link to click on.
Link your Spreesy account to Instagram or Facebook and when someone comments with their paypal email address to purchase the product, you don't have to manually send them an invoice, spreesy just automatically sends the invoice to them and tells them how to check out. You're meeting people where they're already hanging out and not forcing them to leave a social media platform.
With Spreesy, people can subscribe to any new product that you're adding to your Instagram profile as well so they'll be notified when you come out with new items.Other Resources
Check out Jill from Rustic Cuff's interview where she shared how she sends her products to Influencers for publicity and exposure.
A few Instagram accounts who feature handmade products that might be worth checking out. For many of these accounts, a feature that stays up forever costs just $25.
Cheri Tracy: Orglamix.com
@Orglamix on Instagram
Mei Pak: CreativeHiveCo.com
Oct 27 2015
Rank #9: 178: Super Mom? Almost, just Super Planned!
Digital designer, professor, PR specialist, small business owner, wife, mom of two - you might listen to the many roles of Lydia Kitts and think, “Woah, this sister needs to take something off her plate!” But before you go all ‘Judge Judy’ on Lydia, take a listen to the podcast. You’ll hear exactly how Lydia juggles so many things at once, while keeping people first, and does it with excellence. We at Brilliant Business Moms are just in awe of her!
Lydia lets us in on her unique planning philosophy, which involves using a combination of 3 planners. (I know, right!?) Throughout our interview, you’ll notice how Lydia is hyper-focused on the task at hand. She doesn’t let herself get distracted by giving every task a spot in her day, and keeping tasks in their spots.
In this interview, you’ll also get to hear Lydia answer a great question from one of our Brilliant Business Moms. Amy Gabriel asked, “I want to know how to build a timeless brand that has a strong and loyal following. How do you look at modern trends and base designs off of the current style, but also build something that will last for years to come?” You’ll just eat up Lydia’s answer!
If you follow the productivity tips and hacks Lydia drops in this episode, you’ll be able to keep your family first AND your clients happy just like she does.
If this all sounds like information you need as a momprenuer, hit the play button below!Resources Mentioned:
- Lydia’s 3 Planner System: a Legal Pad, The Brilliant Life Planner, and an academic planner
- Freezer Meal Planning with OnceAMonthMeals.com
- Branding Insight with The Brand Alchemist's Archetype Test
Nov 20 2017
Rank #10: 190: How Instagram + Baby Steps Built this Stay-at-Home Mom’s Business with Artist Annie Quigley
Do you ever feel like you can’t start or grow your business right now because …. (fill in the blanks here - life’s too busy, your kiddos are little and need too much of your time, your kiddos are BIG and need too much of your time, life’s too stressful, you don’t have enough support, and the list goes on….)The fastest way to pull yourself out of excuse-land is to take one little baby step every single day. You can absolutely find a few minutes a day to start making progress. And life doesn’t have to be perfect to get started.
Annie Quigley of AnnieQuigleyArtist.com is proof that baby steps pay off. She started her online art business when her first baby was born. She worked in the margins as a stay-at-home mom. THEN, her husband deployed for 14 months and she had TWO babies at home! She worked at nap time every single day, and built up a business that now provides a full-time income for her family! She honed her craft, never gave up, posted consistently on Instagram, and builds relationships there to keep her sales strong.
Jun 19 2019
Rank #11: 129: Creating a Product that Markets Itself! with Katie Alarid
What if your customers marketed your product for you everywhere they went? That would be amazing, right? That's exactly what happened to Katie Alarid when she created her adorably unique baby turbans. Immaculately accessorized babies were marketing her product all over the country, and her business has grown enormously in less than two years' time! Katie's turbans are now in 23 boutiques, and she sells even more of them from her own online shop.
Is there a product you can create that would market itself? Can you make something so unique, eye-catching, or useful that people can't help but talk about it? I think you can!On the Podcast
01:10 - See A (Tiny) Need, Fill A Need06:21 - A Business is Born08:04 - Getting Into Boutiques12:00 - Driving Online Traffic14:48 - Instagram Strategy = Cute Babies20:40 - Why Starting with Wholesale has Made Katie Successful in Retail24:43 - Honoring Boutique Owners28:59 - The How + Why of ReBranding32:52 - BluTaylor’s Preemie Program39:07 - Why 'BluTaylor'?41:06 - Katie's Adorable Mom Moment (Her tiniest business partner!)
Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear from Katie and learn how to get your customers talking too!See A (Tiny) Need, Fill A Need
On the day Katie’s little girl came home from the hospital, she promptly threw up in her hospital-provided hat which sent Katie scrambling to find a replacement. Katie insisted on keeping her daughter’s tender head covered and protected from germs, so she whipped up a creation with some extra fabric and her unique design was born. Visitors later that day commented on how cute the ‘baby turban’ was, and Katie’s business was inspired. (We just love how Katie saw a need and filled a need in the same afternoon!)Seriously, how cute is this?!
A Business is Born
Someone suggested to Katie that she ask a local shop in town to carry the baby turban. While the compliments of friends and family are great, Katie wanted that ‘real live stranger’ factor we mentioned in Episode 127. Being a savvy business mom, Katie made her sales call with her adorable daughter in tow. And of course, her baby was wearing a product sample. That did the trick! That shop placed their first order and, from there, word-of-mouth helped Blu Taylor organically spread. Katie and her husband also decided to purchase a website to establish their brand's online presence.Getting Into Boutiques
A boutique owner 70 miles away from Katie picked up the baby turban and quickly contacted other boutique owners about carrying the item. During a Holiday House Junior League event in Little Rock, Blu Taylor set up a booth and sold turbans. Customers from that event - with their little girls modeling the turban hats all over their towns - actually brought the word back to other wholesalers in their areas. Talk about organic growth!
Every time a customer goes outside wearing their adorable turban, the company grows. People can't help but talk about how cute little girls look in these unique hats. They stand out! Blu Taylor is currently in 23+ boutiques, but surprisingly Katie finds that her online retail storefront is stronger in terms of sales.Driving Online Traffic
Katie finds that Instagram is a great driver of online traffic for her business. She sends her Instagram photos to Facebook and Twitter, responding to comments on all platforms promptly. Katie believes that her product is unique and something customers are excited to talk about.
A testament to the strong word-of-mouth referral Blu Taylor enjoys is how her products have spread to new markets. Katie notices that if she receives an order from a new state, like Oregon for example, in a few weeks she’ll receive more orders from that state. Once again, as that Mama's little girl is spotted all over town in her unique accessory, other mamas ask her about it and promptly head online to get their own!
Katie has personally experienced the ‘Wow!’ factor of her own product. Her husband jokes that their daughter needs to take off her baby turban in stores so they can get through shopping quicker... otherwise everyone stops them to talk about that adorable hat!Instagram Strategy = Cute Babies
Katie sees the largest portion of her online traffic come as direct traffic via Instagram. In addition, people see her brand name on Instagram and then type in her website directly or search for her on Google. Katie has several tips on how she makes consistent sales with Instagram.
- Post consistently. Consistency is key when it comes to Instagram. Katie tries to share at least three pictures a day. Her tip is that every 6 to 9 posts should display a complete representation of your company. For Blu Taylor that means sharing pictures of their products and preemie program, sharing photos from happy customers, and providing general information about their brand. Katie says it is important to plan out an Instagram strategy.
- Make connections using Instagram’s ‘Explore’ search. Katie suggests using the ‘Explore’ search on Instagram. Katie would use this feature to find moms who just had a baby girl, liking and complimenting them. Or she reaches out to moms who may be in the NICU, offering to send a preemie hat to their baby for free.
- Don’t be afraid to recycle posts. Katie doesn’t follow a strict system but, generally, while thumbing through old images if she sees one that garnered a lot of likes she will reuse that image. Katie’s philosophy is that the people who saw her Instagram post at 7pm 2 months ago won’t be the same people who see her post at 8am 3 months from now. Makes sense!
- List your website in two places. Interestingly, Katie will put the text of her Web address (www.BluTaylor.com) at the bottom of many of her Instagram posts. Her analytics suggest that visitors are leaving the app and manually typing in the Web address into their mobile browsers. What a great idea to have your website in two places, profile and post! Regardless of whether that post link is clickable, people see your web address one more time and it sticks in their memory even more.
Katie has experienced nice profitability with both retail and wholesale, which you don’t often see with a handmade business. BluTaylor began as a wholesale business, selling their hats in bulk to various boutiques, and eventually began to sell their hats online in their own boutique and at shows. Katie finds that women usually don’t give themselves enough credit for their time and skills when setting prices. BluTaylor operates by setting their retail prices after a wholesale price is set. This ensures that the business is profitable no matter who they sell to - boutique owners or direct to their customers.
Starting out with distributing her products in boutiques has really helped Katie’s pricing model. With boutique prices on her baby turbans in place, Katie already knows what a healthy profit margin is for her product and can set the retail price accordingly.
Katie has also found that doing some market research has helped her set retail prices. She asks her customers how much value they place on the product and then sets prices accordingly.Honoring Boutique Owners
Katie’s business model really values boutique owners. Initially, BluTaylor did set a lower wholesale price, but as the cost of production grew, Katie found that she needed to increase her wholesale prices to make her business work. It was scary, but she had to approach her wholesale accounts to let them know about the price increase. Katie found that moving up both wholesale and retail prices incrementally softens the news of a price change.
Though Katie feared many boutique owners would bail ship, only one account decided to not carry her baby hats out of 23 total. That one lost account is easily worth it considering that Katie's time and talent is now properly valued, and her business is sustainable.
Katie's philosophy when dealing with boutiques is that no other person in their business will be buying their products at the level boutique owners will. She wants to give her boutique owners respect, so she will never undercut them on her own site. It's truly a smart, and caring strategy, if you think about it. Eliminate cross-competition and everyone wins!I just can't even! Too cute!
Rebranding: The Why + How
When BluTaylor was founded in the summer of 2012 with a different business name, ‘Baby Turban’. The phrase accurately described her product and was easy to remember. (Katie still owns the trademark on that name.) As word spread about her adorable baby turbans, customers wanted the product in larger sizes for their older children, and even for themselves! Creating a ‘Baby Turban’ kids' line felt off. And Katie found that older customers were hesitant to wear a product with the word ‘baby’ in the name. To make her brand more accessible, ‘Baby Turban’ became BluTaylor.
In a smart move, Katie bought multiple domain names with iterations of both business names, and linked them to the new site, BluTaylor.com. Katie did not notice a decline in sales after her rebrand, and made it a point to share information about the re-brand for several months in all of her packaging and on social media.
Katie’s customers are so loyal that she even had one contact her in a panic: “There’s a new shop called BluTaylor and they stole your design!” Katie had to laugh. What a dedicated fanbase!BluTaylor’s Preemie Program
When Katie’s son was born, he spent four days in the NICU after a high temperature scare and rush to the ER. While their time in the NICU was short, she felt for the many families who experienced much longer NICU stays.
As Katie developed her baby turbans, she realized that the unique design snugly fit the head of a preemie very well. She challenged herself to create a hat small enough for a micropreemie and succeeded. Since the skin of a micropreemie is so incredibly sensitive, they are only able to wear a few pieces of clothing - like hats. After creating the micropreemie version of her hats, Katie sent a few to families at their local NICU, and a BluTaylor tradition was born.
BluTaylor custom makes baby hats for families who request one on their website. The hats are a gift. Since no mom is really prepared for the arrival of a premature baby, Katie wants to bless the families with a needed item. Something as simple as providing a cute baby hat creates a sense of normalcy for the families, and gives them hope.Why ‘BluTaylor’?
‘Blu’ stands for blue, the color of hope. And ‘Taylor’ is a fun way to represent tailor-made. With each hat purchase, a preemie-size hat is donated to a family with a daughter in the NICU. Katie knows that many moms in one local hospital received a hat via BluTaylor’s preemie program. A nurse contacted Katie to thank her for the donations, and said their NICU looks like a runway with all these en vogue baby girls!Katie's Adorable Mom Moment
Katie’s youngest daughter, Charlotte, was the inspiration for Blu Taylor and has worn her mom’s adorable creations from day one! You'll have to tune in to hear about the adorable move she does because she's just so used to serving as a product model. It's too funny and too cute!Find Katie Online!
Jan 12 2016
Rank #12: 192: Why Instagram Stories Are Important for Your Business
Have you written off Instagram Stories for your business because they feel too time-consuming or complicated? I used to feel the same way!
When I finally dug deep and learned how to use Stories to connect with my audience, I discovered it was EASY to always have content to share by deciding on my 3 main content buckets, and I discovered that by focusing on building relationships most of all, I’m able to convert WAY MORE of my Instagram Stories viewers into customers than on any other platform.
Don’t ignore Instagram Stories, because they’re a powerful way to build your business! Keep reading for best practices and strategies that work.
Jul 03 2019
Rank #13: 170: A Blog From Scratch + 30k in eBook Sales
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, we’ve been talking all about Facebook ads and their potential to help you grow your business this month on the podcast. If there’s anything I’m ridiculously passionate about, it’s using Facebook ads to explode your business growth. I’m on a mission to help as many brilliant mamas realize their potential as possible!
I’ve got another amazing case study for you today from LJ Johnson. What I love about her story is that a year ago she didn’t even have a website! She just had an idea in her head. She was passionate about planning trips to Disney on a budget and wanted to help other moms do the same.
In January of 2017 LJ started her website, Smart Moms Plan Disney, and in March she launched her first product with a presale. LJ has done more than $30,000 in eBook sales since then. I think that’s pretty crazy for someone who didn’t even have a website a year ago!
It’s not often you’ll find someone who starts a blog, and less than six months later brings in five-figure sales stats, but that’s the power of Facebook ads! You can really amplify your business growth.
If you’re out there just thinking about a business idea, I think you’ll be completely inspired by LJ’s story. You’ll feel empowered that you can do this, too!
The other thing I wanted to mention is that LJ talks about going through my Scholarship Program for FB Brilliance. And I wanted to let you know I’m hosting the Scholarship Program again this year! 5 brilliant, amazing ladies will get to enroll in FB Brilliance for free.
And I’m not talking limited access or limited stuff. Nope, they get the whole sh’bang! They get lifetime access to the course + all updates. Access to my weekly coaching calls that happen for the first 8 weeks of the program. Access to the private Facebook group to connect with other amazing Mamapreneurs. Access to my mastermind pairing bonus (yep… everyone will get matched up into an 8-person mastermind this year!). My scholarship students get everything!
To be considered for a scholarship, make sure you request to join my private Facebook Group right here. Every day, for 5 days in a row (from September 12-16th) I’ll share a lesson. At the end of the lesson, there will be a simple assignment. Each woman who completes all 5 assignments will be considered for the scholarship. We will pick those 5 winners based on who has done the best job on each assignment. Plus, each lesson and assignment will set you up to be more successful with your own Facebook ads, so it’s a win-win!
(Something else fun...and I don’t even know if I should mention this! But I actually gave everyone who submitted a scholarship application a special discount code for FB Brilliance last year! So if you’re on the fence, you should give the Scholarship Program a shot! It’ll give you a sense of my teaching style and steps you can take to set you up for success.)
Ladies, I just can't wait to see you in those lessons!
And one more note before we get into the interview. I wanted to say that LJ gives FB Brilliance a pretty rave review. That is totally unsolicited! She just started sharing how much she loves FB Brilliance and how it’s changed her business. I just want you to know I did not try to pull that out of her! She just started sharing, which was so, so sweet. I love that she’s enjoyed the course so much. And I honestly think you will, too. Make sure you’re on our list so you get all the updates about FB Brilliance!7:05 - Meet LJ
LJ Johnson is the founder of SmartMomsPlanDisney.com. She lives in Kentucky with her husband and 4 kids. Her business is not even 1 year old yet, and she’s already done amazing things!
I am just so excited at how she’s grown a blog and created a product from scratch this year and you won't believe her sales numbers for that brand new eBook!
LJ achieved her insane growth primarily using Facebook ads and I can't wait for you to hear her story.8:26 - A Business Is Born from a Personal Passion
LJ’s business idea was brewing for a while. She knew she wanted to do something Disney-related because her knowledge around doing Disney on a budget was seriously ridiculous! (As in, she and her family had been going to Disney every month, and sometimes twice a month for several years!) LJ was eager to bring friends along for the ride.
She discovered Brilliant Business Moms in the Fall of 2016 -- the last time the doors to FB Brilliance were open. In fact, she stumbled upon our 5-Day scholarship program ON Day 5! She watched the entire series after the fact, but almost wrote the scholarship off as she didn’t think she would have time to complete the assignment.
LJ’s super amazing husband agreed to wrangle their kids for two days while she worked through the assignments so she could be considered for a scholarship.
And that was literally the beginning of her business! When we asked you all to start a business Facebook page so you could run ads, that was the moment LJ had to think of a name for her business!
“My business was born in FB Brilliance,” LJ says.10:25 - Faith, Trust, and Ebook Pixie Dust
Those initial business tasks took LJ until the first of the year, which is when she officially launched her business.
At first, she was considering becoming a Disney travel agent, but it wasn’t a great fit for her passions. LJ felt the real pressure to make a profit, especially since she was spending a lot of her own money on Facebook ads to build her email list.
The idea of writing an eBook came to her in March of 2017. She realized that two of her areas of expertise were managing money and going to Disney World, and her ebook was born: Disney World Within Reach: Meeting The Mouse Without Breaking the Bank.
This book was the answer to a question LJ has received hundreds of times: “How do you afford to go to Disney?” LJ always thought she was giving common sense answers, but as we business owners have to remember, what comes naturally to us doesn’t come naturally to everyone else!
Disney has improved LJ’s life in so many ways, from getting her finances in line (her family was almost a quarter of a million in debt!) to learning how to make the most of time with her family.15:00 - Maximizing eBook Sales
Through our emails, I recommended my sister-in-law Abby’s Book Boss* resource to LJ. In that course, Abby shares her own eBook launch strategies - such as offering presales and working with affiliates - which LJ took to heart.
By creating a product that really helps people and following solid marketing advice, LJ has more than earned back every cent she has invested into her Facebook ads. During just her week of presales, she sold over $11K worth of ebooks! And that was just presales! Those customers hadn’t actually received the final product yet!
Within two and a half months of the book going live, LJ made $35K in sales. LJ says she is reinvesting a lot back into her new company, but the income has already outpaced the real estate company she already has!17:38 - How to Run Presales
In February, LJ started a Facebook group, which really works well for her niche. Fans were posting to LJ’s business page asking their Disney planning questions, and LJ was eager to answer them...but she felt uncomfortable answering personal questions in a public place. She had the idea to start a private Facebook group where moms could ask their questions, and it worked well.
Facebook did a great job of matching up the perfect members to join Smart Moms Planning Disney. By the time the book pre-sale started, LJ had about 5,000 members in her group, with tons of engagement!
LJ told her group an ebook was coming the moment she started writing it! And it worked out great since she got tons of amazing feedback during the writing process. (People were even begging her to finish the book as quickly as possible!)
Once LJ was ready to warm up buyers, she introduced the book price at $50. She knew most moms might find $50 for an ebook too much to pay, but she wanted to establish that value in their minds. Plus, when she announced the presale price of $35, everyone was super excited for the deal and eager to buy!
LJ’s goal was to sell $3,500 total, but she made that amount in the first day! LJ credits all of her success to the working of God.22:33 - Favorite Tools to Run a Presale
Of course, Facebook is LJ’s #1 tool. She says she never would have connected to her audience without it.
Another tool LJ loves is SamCart. This app makes it easy to offer customers other products you have for sale. And in fact, it motived LJ to diversify her product offerings and create several packages for customers to choose from.
SamCart includes training that suggests using ScreenFlow or PowerPoint Mac to create a slideshow pitching your products and how they work together. She also purchased a quality microphone to record her voice overs.
LJ invested $1,000 to use SamCart for a year, but it paid for itself on her first day of sales.25:00 - Using Facebook Ads for Affordable Leads
LJ ran her first Facebook ad on Christmas Day, but there was a MAJOR glitch. A friend sent her a screenshot which showed that LJ’s landing page was completely messed up and looked awful! Still, those leads were coming in at $2.20 each, which is pretty great considering her error-filled page. LJ quickly turned off the ad and did some troubleshooting. Once she was back online, she started getting leads for as low as $0.15 a day!
LJ watched our FB Brilliance course in bits and pieces. But whenever she would hit a dry spot or snag with her ads, she picked back up and watched the next module - which usually solved her problem.
Due to her background in real estate, LJ is comfortable with the idea of investing money in order to grow. She was okay to spend money up front (about $2,000 a month for a few months) to build up her email list so they would be ready to buy when the time came.
Once LJ started writing her book, she backed off Facebook ads and let the momentum organically continue. These days, she is spending about $200 a month on targeted ads.28:21 - LJ’s Brilliant Ad
LJ’s most successful Facebook ad is her simplest.
She tells the story of how her first Disney trip was a total disaster! But she came back home, learned more, and tried again. The second trip was a huge success!
Then she directs visitors to her free cheat sheet on a carefully designed landing page.
This simple ad is her highest clicked link of all! Despite the fact that she’s really pushing other ads to evergreen blog posts.
From the investment she’s put into Facebook ads, LJ already has 10,000 subscribers on her list. That kind of growth is incredible for such a new business!
And the proof is in the pudding that LJ’s sales funnel is on point. In fact, she has a recent example of one customer completing her entire sales funnel in the course of a one day! The customer:
- Signed up for her free cheat sheet
- Clicked immediately on the delivery email and joined her Facebook group
- Began engaging with the group, and clicked over to LJ’s popular blog posts
- While reading her blog, the customer requested LJ’s first ebook chapter for free
- And by the end of the day, had purchased LJ’s $50 eBook!
Since things are going so well, I have a new experiment for LJ to try: Retargeting ads for the people who ended up on her product landing page but didn't end up buying. She could offer a special bonus or $5 off coupon, or even a customer testimonial ad to recapture those visitors and get the sale.
At this point, LJ says she can’t handle more sales. (And I know that’s a great problem to have!) Currently, about 6 out of 10 orders are digital, but taking care of the printing for those few physical orders is a lot. LJ is interested in assembling a team at some point to help her grow.33:47 - The Magical Story LJ Paints with her Ad
So let’s dig into LJ’s ad. It’s so well done!
Copy: I know you barely have a second here between taking care of your kids and career. In fact, you’re so busy you don’t think you have time to plan a vacation this year. But you know your kids are only the perfect age for that Disney World magic for so long before the time passes you by.
I’m LJ and I understand exactly how you feel.
But to be honest, my first trip to Disney wasn’t all that magical. I was so busy, I just showed up in line and stood all day. I had no plans, no reservations, and no idea where anything was. We stood in the heat all day and did very little.
I didn’t go back for 3 years.
But when Baby #2 started walking, I wanted to go back again.
And this time I wanted to be prepared.
An obsession was born.
I now look back on that next trip with such fondness and feelings of joy. I wouldn’t trade those magical memories of my kids and husband for a million dollars.
Since then, I’ve gone to Disney over 20 times. I spent over 100 days at Disney World in the last 2 years. I’ve taken not only my four kids but also people of every age from newborn to school age to grandparents! I’ve stayed at almost every Disney resort, rode every ride, seen most every show, ate at so many of the restaurants.
And I’ve started this blog to help other working moms find the magic I found at Disney World. I’ll make it easy for you to plan your trip because I don’t want you to end up like me during my first trip! I even have a free cheat sheet that will give you all the important steps to plan your trip.
Click here to sign up and grab my free Disney World Planning Cheat Sheet. → bit.;y/WDWFreeCheatSheet
Photo: It’s a fun flat lay, desktop shot. And she has snapshots of Disney World overlaid on the desk, as well as a checklist.
Headline: Disney World? You CAN go this year.
Tagline: Disney World: Make the Magic Happen in 2017
This ad has so many shares and views, it’s really perfect!36:50 - BUSINESS MOM POWER!
You guys, this is why moms business are going to take over the world! Moms love supporting other moms, and telling other moms about the awesome things they find! And, moms listen to each other. I just love this energy!
LJ is also passionate about moms having an outlet, and being able to earn an income from home.
(Audio abruptly cuts here due to some technical difficulties we had, bear with us!)39:00 - Getting Creative with Targeting
We see that LJ has an ‘Ear Hat Ad Set’ that is marketed directly to travel agents for them to be affiliates of her book. Pretty smart!
Copy: You’re the expert. Your client is looking to you to provide assistance to make their trip to Disney World as magical as possible. They want you to tell them where to eat, where to stay, what they should fast pass, and how to save money.
If you’re like most people, you probably value a great recommendation. When someone tells you about a product that makes your life better, you’re grateful to that person and you’ll go out of your way to help them in the future.
The word for this is loyalty.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could make a great recommendation and earn your client’s loyalty for years to come?
And it would be even better if you got paid to make that recommendation!
If this sounds intriguing, click here to check it out the program.
And the link goes to a smart landing page explaining the affiliate program for LJ’s book.40:10 - Narrow Your Target Audience With Your Ad
What I also love about this is that LJ let her ad do the work of narrowing down her target market. A lot of newbie advertisers try to perfectly pinpoint their audience on Facebook, only to get frustrated that Facebook doesn’t have that exact audience at their disposal.
But the thing is, it doesn’t cost a lot for Facebook to show your ad around. Let the very clear message in your ad copy, image, and headline do the narrowing for you. It’s totally okay if thousands of people pass you up on your offer, as long as a few of the right people see it and respond. That’s the power of Facebook!40:54 - Facebook Ads Are NOT Just For Huge Companies
A lot of people think that Facebook ads are only for huge businesses, but I’m here to tell every Brilliant Business Mom that ads are doable for any business of any size!
You don’t even have to run your ads every day to see great results. You can have a successful campaign for $50 a month, get new people in your funnel for about 10 Days, turn off your ad, nurture them, measure your results, then tweak from there!41:30 - A Fabulous ROI
When LJ started her real estate company a few years ago, at the time she was really nervous about investing! “Am I really going to spend all this money? I might never get it back!” And thinking about FB Brilliance, LJ says if anyone is on the fence she can attest that the course is a great investment.
She says, “This course had everything I needed in it. You gave me the direction for me to head in.”
(That is SO sweet and kind. Thank you, LJ! And our interview ends really abruptly here due to technical issues. But stay tuned! We’ve got great things ahead.)43:30 - Ready To Try Your First Ad??
Did this interview leave you just itching to test Facebook ads?? We have a cheat sheet you can grab before you do: 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Run Your First Ad.
It'll save you time, tears, and money!43:50 - Closing Comments
Whew! That was so fun talking to LJ! One thing I wanted to mention, there were a few awkward starts and stops to the interview, and you might have heard baby squeaks in the background. That’s because I was holding Levi while recording, and his schedule was a bit different than mine :) We did have to cut this interview short, and didn’t get a chance to hop back on due to scheduling, but I did want to share LJ’s story!
Her success is absolutely crazy.
And one thing I wanted to point out is that LJ is not afraid to invest funds up front in her business to get results. You can absolutely do Facebook ads on a budget. But LJ did scale more quickly to see bigger results more quickly.
As LJ shared, she comes from a real estate investing background. And in real estate, you’re often putting up large sums of money before seeing a return. And honestly, that’s how a lot of business growth works.
We’re almost spoiled to think we don’t have to spend anything and can just start a profitable business from thin air. Yes, we live in an amazing time where we can set up shop on the internet instead of having the huge overhead involved in a storefront or physical place of business. But that doesn't mean starting an online business will be free.
There is always a cost to growing your business. The question you have to decide is what expense do you want to trade in: dollars or hours?
There isn’t a right or wrong answer. But if you’re ready to trade dollars for quicker growth, I think you’ll love FB Brilliance!
Sep 08 2017
Rank #14: 138: Should you Break Up with Social Media?
Ohhh social media! It can be an incredible way to grow your audience and customer base, but it can also be an overwhelming, never-ending black hole of time-wasting insanity.
Social media can bring out the best in us, and... the worst in us! And playing the comparison game can make a mamapreneur feel so completely inadequate that she gives up before she even gets started!
So, what's the verdict? Should you just break up with social media altogether?
Well... our answer might surprise you!
On this episode of the Brilliant Business Moms Podcast, Beth Anne Schwamberger is joined by Bringing Up Betty Podcast Host, Sarah Evans.
- Life-changing biz and mom tips! (Seriously, Sarah shared about this sippy cup and it looks pretty life-changing to me!)
- What forms of social media work best for which types of content and businesses.
- How to choose a social media platform for your business - and why there's more than just strategy involved.
- Whether or not you should do it all... and if you shouldn't... what should you do instead?
- Instagram versus Facebook versus Pinterest versus Periscope versus YouTube versus Twitter (if we have to!)
- Why YouTube shouldn't be overlooked - even in the age of live-streaming.
- Case studies of business pros who use just one form of social media, ditch the rest, and still make six figures.
- How it's possible to build a big business without involving social media at all!
Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear the Full Episode ... and Stop the Social Media Insanity :)
Apr 11 2016
Rank #15: 173: An Etsy Shop Owner's Planner Hacks for Productivity
As a busy Etsy seller and mom to a darling boy with special needs, it’s critical that Julie makes the most of her time. Press play on the podcast player below or keep on reading to hear all about Julie’s brilliant planner hacks.
Fun side note here!: Julie was one of the very first listeners of the Brilliant Business Moms podcast! Julie and I got to hang out at a conference in Nashville last year, and I wasn’t at all surprised to discover she’s as sweet in real life as she is online!Listen Now 1:30 - Not Sure How to Grow your Biz? Listen To Your Customers!
Julie’s shop, Tokyo Blossom Boutique, has gone through a bit of a transformation in the time I’ve known her. Lately, her business has been growing in fabulous ways, and I just had to hear what changes Julie’s made that have led to her new growth!
Through 2016, Julie was selling lots of hand crochet and knit items. One of her products, knit cup cozies, was selling WAY more than the other items, but she couldn’t figure out why. At that time in business, Julie had been working hard to make her brand visually unified, rather than focusing on a target audience.
The more cup cozies she sold in person, the more feedback she got that her product was encouraging. One lady said she was buying a cozy for a friend who’s not very joyful, as a reminder to be joyful. (This one made us both chuckle a bit!)
After they purchased a cozy, customers would message Julie to say they purchased it because they needed the inspirational message to encourage them during a difficult time. One woman in particular wrote to tell Julie that her husband was facing tough medical issues and life was especially hard; She wanted a cozy to have that reminder to be joyful right on her daily cup of coffee. (Wow, that’s a powerful reason to buy a product! And Julie listened to each of her customer’s stories carefully!)
Early in 2017, Julie decided to focus on developing more encouraging products that her customers would love.
She revamped her shop and made mental notes of which products to purge and which to keep. The cup cozies, of course, stayed! Another favorite product, her planner clips, got a makeover; Julie redesigned them to incorporate inspirational messages. And the switch worked! Many customers are using the planner clips not just for planners, but to accessorize their Bible journals.
Tokyo Blossom Boutique is now happily a Christian gift company!
I just love the simple but impactful steps Julie took to refine her business:
- Meet customers
- Listen to them
- Serve their needs
The day following our recording, Julie moved into her first retail space! She’s officially a vendor at Woodstock Market, which is a huge retail store of local makers selling home decor and gifts.
Julie had been eyeballing this place for a year and a half...she knew it would be a great opportunity! Plus, once a vendor gets in, they receive lots of traffic and attention from local businesses and boutiques.
Though Julie’s desire to have space in a retail setting was strong, she knew there was a lot that had to happen in her business and personal life before justifying the risk. Julie’s husband Scott had recently started his own creative business, and she wanted to give him time to get his business going strong. Julie wanted to have the confidence that even a small risk wouldn’t hurt their family.
A wise move on Julie’s part was that she also wanted to make sure her shop was ready for a bigger platform. Though her products were visually appealing and high quality, she wasn’t confident that she could give a tidy description of her shop in one sentence. She wanted to work toward that unity within her business before contacting Woodstock Market.
The right time turned out to be 18 months after she first started thinking in that direction.
Julie had a peace about finally reaching out to the merchandising coordinator and putting in her application, and she heard back the very next day! Those magic words, “You’re a perfect fit, and your products are just what we’ve been looking for!” were exactly what she needed. Since Woodstock Market is Christian-owned, they’d been looking for a vendor who offered Christian gifts. Talk about perfect timing!
After Julie got her initial call back from the space, she then had to go through an interview process. Julie says that she appreciated how honest and validating her discussion with the merchandiser was. Julie asked hard questions, like “What if I bomb as a seller!? And can you explain the details of this contract?” And she got straightforward answers right back.
In fact, everything worked out so perfectly, that Woodstock Market actually made room for Julie when they had just booked their last spot! She’s been getting great feedback from her in-store shoppers. And it’s encouraging to Julie that many local stores got their start as a vendor at Woodstock Market.11:45 - Julie’s Brilliant Life Planner Business Hack
I already love Julie’s planner clips, but planner clips aren’t the only creative planner hack she’s made!
Julie has experimented a lot with the Brilliant Life Planner. The planning pages at the beginning of the year and each month have been a big part of her goal setting. But, like most of us, Julie says most of her hang-ups come during those daily, mundane tasks.
She would look at the blank week ahead feeling like a deer in headlights! What were all those nitty, gritty business tasks she had to do? Planning for social media, sending her newsletter, marketing, and contacting the right people...the list was overwhelming!
Inspired by Crystal Paine’s Homemaking Binder, Julie made a master binder for her business that she incorporates in her planner. She listed all her weekly, recurring business tasks by day and tucked that list in the front pocket of her Brilliant Life Planner. Now Julie tackles that blank week with confidence! She fills her schedule with the regular tasks first and then adds in all the unique ones.16:00 - How to Make Sure Important Biz Tasks Always Get Done!
Julie’s system for tackling recurring biz tasks is brilliant! She has an awesome system in place to make sure none of the important tasks in her business fall through the cracks. She makes progress on all of them each week.
So what are some of Julie’s recurring business tasks?
On Mondays, for example, she makes it a point to give her Etsy shop an update. How does everything look? Are her listings up-to-date? Is there anything new she wants to add to her Shop Announcements? Julie keeps regular tabs on her shop so it always shines.
Does Julie kick herself if she misses one week of shop updates? Not at all! But having this important to-do on the schedule ensures it gets accomplished more often than not.
Some other biz tasks Julie keeps on her recurring list are interactions with fans on Instagram. Like many of us, it’s easy for her to update Instagram, but not necessarily to remember to come back and interact with fans, so she puts it in her planner.
Julie also includes a list of who to contact for marketing, such as wholesale businesses and box companies. So brilliant! If marketing isn’t a regularly scheduled part of your business, growth is pretty hard to achieve!17:00 - Brilliant Planning = Crushing Goals!
Julie’s planning strategies have allowed her to meet her great big goals, and I couldn’t be more excited for her!
In 2016 she doubled her sales from 2015, and for 2017, her goal is to double her sales AGAIN!
Julie is well on her way to reaching that milestone. At the time of this recording, she’s up 60% in sales from where she was last year! And with space in a retail setting and Christmas coming, hitting that goal is definitely within reach.
Let’s be honest, meeting these goals didn’t happen by accident. Julie has been super organized and strategic in making steady progress on her business every week.17:50 - Washi Tape Planner Hacks
So, does Julie have any other tips for making the most of her planner? Yes!
As moms, a lot of our schedule outside of business can be counted as recurring, like picking up the kids from school, or a weekly lunch date with our husbands, as is Julie’s case.
Julie noticed that she was writing the same words and events over and over again. As a result, her pretty planner was getting cluttered!
For those daily recurring items, she writes them all out in the slots on her Monday section. And instead of writing the same task or event sideways across the week, over and over, she takes a piece of washi tape and tapes out the same hourly slot through the week. It’s one way she keeps her planner neat and pretty, plus saves herself time.
The same washi tape hack can be used if Julie has a vacation coming up. If she needs to block out a full day or an entire week, Julie just stretches washi tape either vertically down the day, or horizontally across the week. Brilliant!20:20 - Planner Clip Hacks
Julie uses 2-3 clips in her planner at all times. She uses one to mark her weekly planning page, and another for the monthly page. Marking the monthly page helps Julie make sure she doesn’t add events to her week that overlap with anything previously scheduled.
And when she’s working especially hard for a goal (like doubling sales from last year!) she adds a clip to her goals page too.
I just love this hack! Julie saves herself loads of time by speeding up all the small tasks she’s doing each day… like flipping through her planner!21:15 - A Bonus Hack + A Fun New Addition for Planner Lovers!
Another great spot for using a planner clip is to mark your Habit Tracker page. But speaking of the habit tracker page, Julie (and many of you!) have asked if there are plans to include the habit tracker on the monthly page.
While we haven’t changed the format of the planner, we ARE creating habit tracker stickers! I’ve teamed up with Ashley Monda of Sunshine Sticker Co. to make custom sticker pages just for the Brilliant Life Planner! They are gorgeous, and I can’t wait for them to hit the shop!22:22 - Teeny Post-It Notes Making A Big Difference
Another thing Julie does with her planner that I just love is to use the smallest size sticky notes for repeated routines or lists. Turns out, those sticky notes are just about 1.5 inches by 2 inches and can fit across a several-hour block on our planner. Julie can then take her sticky of to-do’s and move them to different days as needed. How great is that!?24:10 - Bullet Journal Hack
Don’t worry bullet journal fans...the planner works for you too! Julie also is a bullet journal user and has incorporated a half-and-half system in her planner.
She does time block recurring things. But during her big chunks of time, like the mornings when her son is at school or the afternoons if he takes a nap, she bullet journals. Rather than schedule 30-minute increments, she gets a lined stamp for planners and stamps lines into that block of time to create a bullet-journal style to-do list
I do the same thing! I frequently use my big blocks of time as a to-do list.25:25 - Adorable Mom Moment
Julie’s son refers to her customers as ‘friends’. One afternoon as the two of them worked in their home office, he was very quiet and preoccupied with a project in the corner. He then came to Julie and showed her scraps of papers and glued them together. He said he made something for her ‘friends’ and they need to buy it so they’ll be happy. So cute! He gets it!
And you’ll have to tune in to the podcast for a second adorable moment that Julie shared!Stay In Touch With Julie
Etsy: Tokyo Blossom Boutique
What do you think? Will you try any of Julie’s planner hacks?
I know I need to make better use of my clips, and I’m excited to give washi tape a try for some of my daily routines!
Oct 16 2017
Rank #16: 109: Organization, Apps, and Lisa in a Box! with Lisa Woodruff
What if you could expand your business by putting yourself in a box and reaching more people? It may sound like science fiction, but in many ways, Lisa has found a way to do this very thing! It comes as no surprise that a professional organizer and productivity nut would find many unique ways to reach more people without spending more time to do it.On the Podcast
00:54 - 9 Businesses with One Thing in Common04:03 - Becoming a Pro06:12 - There are a Million Ways to Monetize!08:16 - Lisa in a Box!10:29 - 3 Keys to Lisa's Success13:22 - Think Outside the Box with Outsourcing19:12 - Validation as Mamapreneurs21:17 - Organization for Mamapreneurs23:55 - The Sunday Basket25:40 - How Blogging Brings Clarity30:54 - A Simple Method for Efficient Blogging35:19 - Paying for Emails?40:45 - Bloggers can Sell on Etsy too!42:20 - Lisa's App47:01 - Lisa's Awesome Mom Moment
Press play on the podcast player below to hear Lisa's best organization tips and to learn how she helps more people in less time with her business, Organize365.9 Businesses with One Thing in Common
Lisa comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her great-grandmother went to college well before that was the norm for women and ultimately owned her own floral shop! Her dad's side of the family had a similar bent towards owning their own businesses.
There was never any question that Lisa would go to college, but she knew that in the end she'd be an entrepreneur. Lisa viewed college not as a way to get her ideal job (she could create that all on her own!) but to get her MRS. degree. Yep, she knows it's not politically correct and confesses that she should have come of age in the fifties!
Lisa was a teacher before she had kids, but she also did direct sales. Once her children came along, she quit her teaching but continued on with direct sales. She then added tutoring, cleaning houses, and scrapbooking to her list of entrepreneurial endeavors! Lisa's business ventures got so crazy that at one point she had 9 schedule C's on her tax return! (My head is spinning just thinking about it!)
Finally, in 2012 after a really rough time period for her immediate and extended family, Lisa sat down to think about what she really wanted to do. She knew she was great at sales, but the question was, what did she want to sell? Where did her gifts and passions lie?
Lisa found the common thread in all of her business pursuits: organization! She got her teaching job because her co-teacher was so disorganized they needed Lisa to come in and organize the classroom. She then went on to organize the whole school!
Lisa's scrapbooking business was so productive for her and her clients because she helped them get organized first.
Lisa even wrote an e-book on direct sales called: How to Organize the Business of Direct Sales.
She had it! Lisa starting a professional organizing business and launched her website Organize365 in January of 2012.Becoming a Pro
Lisa knew she was good at teaching and coaching, so she used that skill to create great content on her blog that would help others.
Even though she was passionate about helping others get organized, Lisa still hadn't realized she was "expert enough" to call herself a professional and get clients. Instead, she was making money by doing direct sales and hosting parties for organizational supplies.
Lisa's house parties were huge, and she couldn't figure out why so many people wanted to attend just to buy some plastic bins! Her friend said, "Everyone wants to know what a professional organizer has to say!"
It finally dawned on Lisa that she was a pro at this, and she'd better start acting like it. In April of 2012 Lisa started doing professional organizing full-time and her business was profitable right away.
In January of 2013, Lisa added her first team member to her in-home organizing team. In the Fall of 2013, she hired another person to work in her business, and she's hired several other team members since then.There are a Million Ways to Monetize!
It's easy to look at other bloggers and think that replicating their business model will work for us. This isn't always the case! We each have different strengths, different tools at our disposal, and a different audience we're serving.
Lisa quickly grew her in-person organization business, but she wanted to monetize her blog too. She saw lots of bloggers making money from couponing, advertising, and working with brands.
She tried these methods a bit, but they didn't seem to work well for Lisa's audience or her skill set. She realized that she's better as a teacher, so she created more e-books to sell.
In 2012, Lisa wrote 10 steps to organize paper. Next, she wrote an e-book about her Sunday basket. Then Lisa got the rights back to her first published book called the ABC's of the Bible.
Continuing with her model of teaching, Lisa added a podcast just over a year ago.(In true Lisa-style, she couldn't have just one, Lisa has 3! Successful Direct Sales, Organize365, and Professional Organizer's Think Tank.)
And finally, Lisa maintained her skill at direct sales, but she took a different, more modern approach. Rather than host home parties and assembling teams of sales people, Lisa used these great companies as affiliates on her blog.Lisa in a Box!
If you're a great teacher or coach, I bet some of your clients have wished they could package you up in a box, order you online, and have you right there with them! Well, Lisa has done just that with her first physical product!
It's called Get All Your Papers Organized in One Weekend.
Lisa combines the knowledge you need to get started, the motivation in the form of her walking you through each step via audio CD, and the tools needed shipped right to you. There are quick-start guides so you don't have to read the full e-books if you don't want to, 3 sets of slash pockets and 2 ONE clips (both of these are a big part of Lisa's organizational system, so you don't have to hunt them down at the store), Sunday planning printables, and Organize 365 printables.
Could you come up with a way to help your long-distance customers by packaging yourself in a box? I bet you could!3 Keys to Lisa's Success
Lisa points to 3 key strategies that help her grow her business and keep it profitable.
- Create a team! Lisa has several great team members who work for her. One person edits everything Lisa does. (She confessed that she can't spell and doesn't understand the rules of grammar!) Then Lisa hired someone to take over her Pinterest account. Can you believe that Lisa hasn't pinned a single thing from her account that has over 20,000 followers? Lisa hired someone to do all of that for her! Lisa also has someone who does everything for her podcast. She'll sit down and record 5 episodes in two hours, then send them off to Amanda who edits and does everything else!
- Find your money-maker. For Lisa, being a professional organizer has been the most profitable endeavor, and she was able to make money quickly. That one profitable branch of her business can easily fund everything else she's done
- Whatever you focus on expands! You can't focus on 10 things at once, so you'll have to pick which aspects of your business you want to grow the most. Right now she's focusing on her paper organizing kit, so of course, that's what's making the most money right now.Lisa focuses on one big thing each month and then four smaller things. For example, next week Lisa is focused on getting her products into the Amazon store and figuring out shipping. Next week, she'll work on her 31 organizing videos for October. She's uploading them directly to Facebook each day to see if she can grow her Facebook following from 7,000 to 20,000 fans.
In November, Lisa won't focus on Facebook as much. She likes to go really deep on a tiny thing and then analyze things a few months later to see what aspects of her business are worth the continued investment.
(Lisa's strategy for managing her time and new business ventures sounds so similar to Rachel Coley's. Sarah and I both agree that it's a great approach, and we use it for our business too! We can't do it all.. as much as we'd like to!)Think Outside the Box with Outsourcing
Lisa highly recommends the book, Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker. In the book, Chris tells readers to make 3 lists.
- Write down the things you hate doing. (This could be cutting the grass, cleaning your house, or editing your blog posts.)
- Write down the things you're struggling to do on your own. (Perhaps building your website or designing your logo.)
- Write down the things you feel, as a business owner, that you shouldn't be doing on a day-to-day basis. (Chris says this list is the most important! It could be editing your photos or posting on social media. Maybe it's shipping your orders out the door. Even if you enjoy doing these things, your time may be better spent elsewhere to grow your business.)
Lisa is a productivity nut! She wants to squeeze an extra task out of the hour and an extra minute out of every hour!
Lisa says that mompreneurs often miss important things they can outsource that would give them more time for their business. She has a list of 10 household tasks you can outsource.
You might feel guilty about this at first, but you have to think outside the box. If you outsource cleaning your house for $60-120 a week, you'd save yourself 5 hours a week of work. So Lisa looks at it this way: can she make at least $120 in that 5 hours of extra time? The answer for her is an absolute yes because she can work with a home organization client for $300 during that time.
Ask yourself, "How much does it cost me to do that task, and how much does it cost someone else to do that task?"
Another creative outsourcing solution:
Lisa says, "don't outsource your parenting," but she does recommend getting help with the kids when they're little. Lisa used to hire a nanny on Wednesdays from 8 AM to 6 PM. Lisa was able to get 10 hours of productive, quiet work time for just $120. That was totally worth it! And in 10 hours of dedicated time, Lisa was able to plow through a ton of work versus working every naptime for 1.5 hours each day and feeling like you're not getting anywhere. If you don't have any funds for a sitter, consider swapping with a friend. You take her kids one day a week, and she takes yours on another. Then, you both get dedicated work time, and your kids have fun with their friends!
How to make the most of your work time:
Lisa recommends creating a work basket. As you think of tasks to do for your business, write them down and put them in your work basket. If you think of something to tell your business partner, just write it down and put it in the basket. Emails you have to respond to? Put them in the work basket! Then, when you've got your dedicated chunk of time, you know just what to tackle without getting sidetracked or distracted. You can plow through those little to-do's much faster than you realize when they're all in one place waiting for you.Validation as Mamapreneurs
Another important mental aspect of having a dedicated time to work is that it gives your job some validation. It's earned a place on your calendar. You've made room for it. It's not just a casual gig anymore.
Sarah and I had our own esoteric discussion here about validation as Mamapreneurs. When Sarah filled out the paperwork for her daughter's orthodontist appointment, she put homemaker as her occupation. But she thought to herself today, "I should put self-employed!"
I agree, and I laughed and confessed that I've put "self-employed" on every bit of paperwork I get the moment we decided to launch our podcast!
It often takes quite a while (and maybe it will never happen!) for others to recognize your home business as valid, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't recognize it as such. (It's valid, brilliant business mom! We believe in you!)Organization for Mamapreneurs
Lisa says it's so important for Mamapreneurs to write down their biggest goal for the week, and then no more than 3 top goals for each day for the home and for their business. She's created a free printable for you to try to organize those top tasks as well as get your week organized each Sunday!
When you start planning your top goals, you'll realize that email and social media don't often make the list, but without a plan, those tasks easily creep into the first place spot each day.
Lisa also blocks off one work day each week to spend 6-8 hours on something that will grow her business to another level. So, for example, getting her products on Amazon, or creating new videos or a new product.The Sunday Basket
Lisa's main method for organizing paper involves something called, "The Sunday Basket. It's a basket, box or bag that you keep on your kitchen counter. Every bit of paper that you receive, along with other simple to-do's goes into this basket. For example, a bill that doesn't need to be paid right that second, paperwork from the kids' school, an item to return to Walmart.
On Sunday after the kids are in bed, take out every single thing, touch it and ask, "can this wait until next Sunday or does it need to be done this week?" Everything that must be done that week should have a plan for action. In this way, all of your paperwork and to-do's are in one, manageable place, and you only tackle the things that need to be tackled, without forgetting anything along the way.How Blogging Brings Clarity
Once you start blogging regularly, you'll quickly realize that it can clarify what you're good at and what your readers respond to.
Lisa quickly realized that she was constantly talking about organizing paperwork, and her audience really responded. A bonus of this is that Lisa ranks really high in Google for terms related to organizing paper because no one talks about it! People discuss going paperless or they simply pretend all that paper doesn't exist.
Lisa has dug deep when it comes to organizing paper. Here's what she recommends:
- Gather up every piece of paper from your whole house. The papers on your nightstand. Your kids' art work, receipts...everything!
- Put it all into a laundry basket (or two!) Lisa says that people generally start with 2 full laundry baskets and by week 6-8 of organizing their paper they get their Sunday Basket down to a manageable size.
- Tackle a new paper challenge with Lisa each week. She'll walk you through all the different items you'll find in your basket: what to do with cash, projects, receipts, and more.
- Keep going. Lisa gets that no one wants to do paper! It's hard for her to get clients to do it even when she's standing right there with them! But if you can get a handle on the kitchen counter paperwork, you'll feel like Supermom! It's worth it!
A Simple Method for Efficient Blogging
When Lisa started blogging in January of 2012, all she knew was that she needed to be consistent, she needed to have a niche, and she needed to create content.
She came up with the idea of a series in order to be consistent and help others get organized right along with her. The challenge is called: 40 Weeks, One Whole House.
Lisa divided her house into 40 zones, and she tackled a different zone each week. The next year, Lisa did the challenge with her readers again, but this time she hired a professional photographer to take better photos of her work. The year after that, Lisa did the 40-week challenge again but this time she added a podcast so her readers could hear her talking as though she was right there with them helping them organize their homes.Lisa says it takes going through the challenge about 3 times to really make your home look great!
Sarah and I both LOVED this genius strategy of creating awesome, helpful content but just adding a bit more each year. Lisa says there are only so many ways you can organize a laundry room. So rather than write 16 fluffy blog posts on the topic, she writes one killer post that motivates her readers to take action.Is there an insanely helpful series you can create for your readers and then repeat on your blog, year-after-year?Paying for Emails?
This year, Lisa decided to offer her 40-week challenge as an email auto-responder series as an added help for her readers. The problem was, she was using Mailchimp, and when she received new participants, they could start at week 1, but they couldn't skip ahead and join the whole group of challengers if they wanted to.Lisa decided to switch to InfusionSoft which offers both options for a new subscriber. Then, no matter where someone signed up, everyone will be back at week 1 together the next Fall.
Because Infusionsoft is quite expensive, Lisa knew she had to justify this expense. She charges a one-time fee of $40 for the 40-week email series. Once you pay for the series, you'll get it forever until you unsubscribe.Lisa knew if she could sell just 5-10 of these email subscriptions each month, that would pay for Infusionsoft. She's more than met that goal! She's not getting hundreds of sales, but the people who do sign up really love it. Everything they need for each week's challenge is all in one place, and they just click the link in their inbox.Bloggers can Sell on Etsy too!
Lisa's not a handmade maven, but she does have a lot of digital products (and a physical one now too!) that she wanted to sell all in one place. Lisa decided to open an Etsy shop as the hub for her products.Her shop, Organize365, has been open since May of 2014 and she's had over 700 sales to date. Some of Lisa's products cost over $90 too!
If you're a blogger struggling to create a beautiful storefront for your products, consider opening an Etsy shop and linking right to it from your blog. It's so easy to get started, and Etsy makes the shopper experience a bit more user-friendly and streamlined than many of the cheaper apps you could use on your own site.
If you're a coach or expert in a given field, Etsy can be the perfect place to make more passive income. Lisa took all of her coaching and teaching knowledge and turned it into digital products. Not everyone can afford to use her as a coach, and not everyone lives close enough to have Lisa organize their home in person, but with digital products and Etsy, Lisa can serve her audience in more ways.Lisa's App
Lisa is always looking for ways to better serve her audience and make life easier for them. In the Spring of 2015, she decided to have an app developed for her 40-week organizing challenge.
Lisa paid $2,000 for the app and pays $50/month for hosting. Her app is available for both android and ios. Inside the app, Lisa's challengers can find the podcast and blog post related to that week's challenge without searching and without being distracted by all the other content on her site.
The coolest thing about this app? Lisa can send out push notifications whenever she wants! She can tell people, "hey it's week four, tell me if you're going to sell or donate your items this week!" Their app will show a red circle to let them know there's something new to see.
From the app, Lisa's challengers can link straight into her Facebook group and chat with each other. LIsa says, "it's so hard to organize your house by yourself. The community aspect really helps."
How's the app going? Lisa says she has about 3,000 users right now, and they're equally split between android and ios. She's still not sure if the app itself will be a revenue generator or not. At this point, she doesn't charge for it.
Right now, the app is just serving her current audience better and allowing her to connect with them in a new way. Lisa believes that all of the 3,000 users were people who were already on her email list or listening to her podcast. They haven't found her organically at this point, but the app has only been out for 6 weeks.
We can't wait to see how the app continues to grow and serve her audience! What a cool idea!Lisa's Awesome Mom Moment
When your teenage son respects what you do, you know you're on the right track! Tune in to hear what Lisa's son told her recently!Stay in Touch with Lisa!
Lisa has created a special page just for Brilliant Business Moms Listeners. It has the Sunday basket printables to help you organize your week and a checklist for anyone interested in becoming a professional organizer.Head to Organize365.com/brilliant
Other links mentioned in the episode: Our super secret freebies page for our email subscribers.
Oct 06 2015
Rank #17: 166: How to Use Facebook Ads as an Etsy Seller
Have you written off Facebook or Instagram ads as “just not for you”?
I want to encourage you to take a look at ads with fresh eyes this month as we explore how many different types of Mamapreneurs are using them to build their businesses.
You’ll hear from Etsy sellers, designers and membership site owners, bloggers and eBook writers, and course creators.
All of them are scrappy Mamapreneurs working with tight budgets - just like you! And all of them are finding success with Facebook and Instagram ads.
On this episode, we’ll hear from Melissa Kaiserman, who’s using Facebook and Instagram ads to bring in more sales for her Handmade Cash Envelope Organizers.
Melissa sells an affordably-priced product, and she’s able to bring in brand new people to her shop and make profitable sales.
Press play on the podcast player below to learn how you can make sales using ads too!Listen Now
If you've been around Brilliant Business Moms for long, you probably know Melissa Kaiserman. She’s basically an honorary team member of Brilliant Business Moms and an active member of our Facebook group -- always ready to answer questions and help people out.
It’s been way too long since we had her on the show and we're so glad she's here today. (Three years, can you believe it!?)
Melissa is the Etsy shop owner of A Time for Everything, where she sells amazing cash wallet systems for adults and kids. She’s also the founder of Makery Space, an online business providing practical help for Etsy Sellers.
Follow her on Facebook to watch her wonderful weekly show, Etsy + 1. She’s a total pro when it comes to selling on Etsy successfully.
Since most of you know Melissa already, let’s dive right in.1:20 - Using Facebook Ads in Her Business
Melissa enrolled in FB Brilliance but had a slow start to actually running her own ads. Her fear of getting something wrong, and hesitancy to do the work knowing it would require tweaking, stopped her for several months. But in the summer of 2016, she decided to dive in.
The very first campaign she ran, she targeted interests that she thought would be a good match for her product. She knew people who followed organizational blogs would be her ideal target market. Interestingly, not as many budget-conscious folks who follow Dave Ramsey or frugal blogs buy her products, since they’re not big spenders. Melissa’s campaign targeting organizational groups did okay, giving her a cost per click in the $0.20 range.
Then she decided to do a lookalike audience of her email list. She had been building her list for a while with content centered around living on a budget and, naturally, her blog matched her shop well. Once she targeted a lookalike audience, Melissa’s cost per click went down to $0.08! “This is a lot smarter way to target my ad set!” she thought, rather than focusing on a general interest.
Finding that perfect combination is all part of the learning process. And thanks to Melissa’s commitment to test and not give up, one of her biggest wins was right ahead.
She decided to do a Christmas campaign and then she decided she would use her customers as a lookalike audience. She downloaded her orders from Etsy and uploaded the customers to Facebook and Facebook was then able to create a lookalike audience. This audience was even more targeted than an email list since it was created from the emails of actual purchasers. Her cost per click in that campaign was around $0.04! And to cold traffic! You guys, that’s crazy!4:00 - Defining a Lookalike Audience
Let’s stop for a moment and define what a lookalike audience is, for those who may not know.
To build a lookalike audience, you give Facebook a piece of data, for example, Melissa’s customer list, and what Facebook does is take the people you have and go find you about a million other people on Facebook who are really similar to that initial bunch. Then, Facebook shows your ad to those similar people. You can see why lookalike audiences are so powerful!4:50 - Womp, Womp. A Few Bummers!
With Etsy, you can’t directly track how people get to your shop. (Although, following our advice, she sent people to a page on her blog and then redirected to her Etsy shop.)
However, Melissa could see her shop sales and traffic increase during the time frame her ads ran, and she realized “here absolutely was a correlation, even though she couldn’t pinpoint one for one.”
Another slight bummer, Melissa noticed her cost per click did go back up after the first of the year. It was hard to get back to that $0.04 to $0.08 cost per click range. Her current campaign averages $0.09 per click.
Also using lookalike audiences, Melissa ran another set in the Spring that received about $0.12 a click. But still, Melissa is happy with the performance of her lookalike audiences! Facebook knows what it’s doing!6:58 - Melissa's Successful Ads
Let’s dive in and look at some of the successful ads Melissa ran to drive traffic to her site at an amazing rate.
In this slideshow video ad, Melissa focused on her bread-and-butter cash wallet system. She showed a selection of those wallets in the slideshow. Her content appealed to the concept: “Are you trying to find the right envelope in your purse, but it’s a mess? Try something that’s pretty and will last for years!”
For those listening, we’ll describe the ad below.
Ad: During the ad she shows the cash envelope at different angles, and at the end, she uses the tagline, “Find the beauty in budgeting.”
Body: Does living on a cash budget have you rummaging in your purse at the register for the right, beat-up, paper envelope? Find the beauty in budgeting with this handmade, laminated, cotton envelope system wallet that’s lovely, durable, and will last for years.
Headline: Organize your budget with a cash envelope system wallet.
Coupon Code: For Free US Shipping, Use the Code: FACEBOOK
(But Melissa tells us that only one person has ever redeemed that coupon code! Isn’t that interesting!?)9:38 - What Program did Melissa Use to Make a Video Ad?
Melissa just used the native slideshow creator within Power Editor. That’s how easy it is to make an ad! Have fabulous product photos, upload them to Facebook, and let them do the heavy lifting for you.10:08 - What Sales can She Attribute to Her Ad?
The only time she ever tried to figure a sales percent increase was from her ad campaign from last August. During that time period, she saw a 63% increase in sales from the same time frame a year prior.
Summer can be pretty slow for Etsy shops unless the shop is seasonally focused. What a great strategy to run ads to create sales during a slow time! The ad ran for just 5 days and had tremendous success.
Moody Sisters Skincare also used ads to overcome their summer slump, resulting in their best month ever! To go from a very slow month to the best is pretty cool! You really can get started at $5 a day.12:30 - ROI
I know these questions are a bit theoretical, but I love asking them! Even if you can’t use the Facebook pixel on Etsy, you can still do detective work and see how it’s helping your shop. Especially if you're getting affordable clicks like Melissa!
So, doing guesswork while looking at her Etsy sales, Melissa compared the difference in sales from the same time period in previous years. That’s where she came up with that 63% increase we mentioned earlier. Her return on investment was 5 times what she spent on ads, which was $50. And, half of her ad sets were the organizing interest sets that weren’t as effective. The other half was her highly effective lookalike audience.
Because this particular ad was so effective, Melissa has kept the same ad and changed the copy a bit as needed. For example, at Christmas, she might mention how her wallets are a great gift. She also changed her coupon to be more versatile and simple. Melissa now uses the same ad and ad set repeatedly and just runs it when she wants some more affordable traffic with targeted potential customers.
Can you see why ads are so fun!?
Melissa has received some criticism for not spending money on promoted listings. In general, her Etsy relevancy has always been pretty good and she shows up in search. For Melissa, why would she spend all her ad budget to get people already on Etsy to her shop? It’s more worthwhile to find people who haven’t gotten there yet and send them over.15:56 - Pattern by Etsy and the Facebook Pixel
I wanted to talk some about Pattern, Etsy’s new selling platform, and the Facebook pixel. Melissa has the scoop! She recently started a free trial of Pattern. In the beginning, she wanted to try out Pattern but didn’t see great benefits right away.
At this point, the platform has gone through a few iterations, and Melissa can see the benefits.
Someone who can’t manage inventory or shipping for more than one shop would probably enjoy Pattern. You can send people to a domain without the distraction of Etsy. It’s your own space, in a way, but still connected to Etsy. Everything from inventory to orders to shipping is managed in one spot.
As of this recording, it is possible to install the Facebook pixel on Pattern. You can’t do the standard event code, but you can use your Pixel ID code. Pattern also allows for Google Analytics tracking, which is a huge advantage! If you have a Pattern shop, you could send people there directly and not to Etsy through a redirect, giving you a clearer picture of what’s happening.
Plus, you can get back in front of those who haven’t bought yet with retargeting ads!18:29 - The Etsy Scoop
Melissa is our Go-To Etsy Expert! We had to get her take on what’s new at Etsy.
“The main thing right now is that there’s a ton of testing and experimenting happening,” she says. Melissa cites tons of changes coming from Etsy since about February of this year, including:
- A New Shop Manager
- New Stats
- Yes Checkout
- even a CEO Turnover!
Through all the testing, Melissa’s best advice is to be patient and hang in there. Don’t panic and don’t go changing a bunch of things.
Often Melissa says she’ll see something tested and then hear people making definitive statements about a change Etsy made. Don’t panic over theories! Keep doing what you're doing that’s working well.
Sometimes you can make small changes, but don’t stress about them. For instance, Attributes is a new factor Etsy added that affects relevancy. This feature is actively being tested and constantly changes. They haven’t made any permanent changes, but you can choose attributes that might naturally fit the listing. Don’t stress!
This is exactly the kind of stuff she addresses in her Etsy + 1 show... it’s on Thursdays at noon Pacific. She addresses Etsy changes, her thoughts about it, and practical applications. Like Makery Space on Facebook to catch the show.
(Isn’t Melissa totally an encyclopedia of information!?)23:16 - Melissa’s Adorable Mom Moment
Right before recording, Melissa had a funny moment! Turns out that one of her teenagers with YouTube ambitions had swiped her recording equipment, and Melissa was scrambling to find the pieces before our interview!
Aug 10 2017
Rank #18: 179: Getting More Out of Life By Knowing Your Personality
Anne Bogel was one of the very first guests on the Brilliant Business Moms podcast. And I still remember the giddiness my sister and I felt when she was the first ‘big’ person who agreed to an interview. (If you don’t know, my sister and I launched this podcast back in 2014. Sarah has since left to pursue her own business and she’s doing great!)
Though Anne modestly received the compliment, I’m still pretty delighted to have a noteable blogger on the show - again! Since our 2014 interview, Anne has since added ‘author’ to her list of credentials. Her book, Reading People: How Seeing the World through the Lens of Personality Changes Everything*, launched this year and is available now.
Knowing yourself isn't as simple as taking an online quiz like ‘Which seltzer water best describes your personality?’. (True story!) What I love about Anne’s book, and our conversation, is that it helped me delve deeper into what makes me, well, me so I can best optimize my success.
If you’re coming to this topic with no prior knowledge of personality types, that’s okay! Psychologists say that if you don’t know anything else about your personality, knowing if you’re Introverted or Extroverted is a good starting point, it’s the ‘the North and South of Temperament’.
What if you’re one of those people whose personality type is that they hate personality types, as my husband would say!? Anne has thoughts for you, too!
Other topics we discuss include:
- Clues that you might be a Highly Sensitive Person (experts say about 15%-20% of species are highly sensitive) and what you can do to unlock the keys to understanding a finely calibrated nervous system.
- How your personality affects how you run your business.
- How you can leverage your personality to plan your day.
- And the benefit of knowing how people’s differences helps you view the world.
*Amazon affiliate link.Stay in Touch With Anne
Site: Modern Mrs. Darcy
Book: Reading People
Nov 27 2017
Rank #19: 127: How to 10X Your Email List for Pennies Per Lead! with Etsy Seller Danielle Arran
Does growing your email list feel like a slow, painful process? It can be especially difficult as a shop owner without a website to call your own. How do you attract those leads? And how do you create a landing page to get them without setting up your own website?
Danielle Arran of the Etsy Shop NarraNest will teach you how to do it with a unique strategy that's increased her email list by 10X in just 2.5 months. Her results are astounding! But they're results that a real Mamapreneur just starting out in business - a woman just like you - was able to attain.On the Podcast
01:28 - Nesting for Baby, Nesting for Business03:30 - Danielle's Unique Opt-In Offer06:05 - How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow your List10:42 - Facebook Ad Quick Tips15:52 - Gleam for Giveaways18:44 - What to do with a Closed Giveaway21:52 - How to Advertise without Wasting your Money27:25 - Danielle's Exponential List Growth30:50 - Danielle Ignores the Gurus - Maybe you Should Too!53:39 - Danielle's Awesome iPhone Trick43:10 - A Unique Way to do Market Research48:17 - How to Help your Customer Try on your Product54:55 - Juniper the Comedian!
Press Play on the Podcast Player below to hear from DanielleNesting for Baby, Nesting for Business
When Danielle was in the nesting phase of her pregnancy, she looked everywhere for the perfect items to complete baby Juniper's room. She couldn't find just what she wanted, so she decided to make items instead. She found fabric she really loved and got to work making bedding, blankets, and other items for her baby-to-be.
Danielle knew she wanted to be an entrepreneur someday, and finally her time and talents aligned to make it happen. NarraNest began in January of 2015, and the shop is filled with beautiful, organic bedding, blankets, bibs, and baby-wearing accessories. NarraNest believes in kindness to mama, kindness to the Earth, and supporting the sacred bond between Mama and baby with safe, natural products.Danielle's Unique Opt-in Offer
The gurus always tell us that we need to give away something really great in order to get people on our email list. Well, Danielle took that advice to the extreme! Instead of giving away a checklist, printable, or guide, Danielle gives away something much better to her subscribers - one of the products from her shop!
Danielle decided that her opt-in incentive would be a giveaway of her own product each month. As long as someone stays subscribed to her list, they'll hear about the new giveaway for the month and have a chance to enter. Her reasoning was that someone who is interested in winning her products may also be interested in buying her products. (Makes sense! I don't have a baby right now so I'm not excited to win Danielle's items, but a new parent absolutely would be, and that's Danielle's target customer.)
Danielle's other reasoning for paying for email subscribers in the form of free products: If you pay to get someone on your email list, that's someone you can build a relationship with over the long term. When you have just the right product to share, they will be there waiting to hear about it and buy. That email subscriber may purchase from you multiple times over the course of your relationship.How to Use Facebook Ads to Grow your List
When Danielle decided on her giveaway strategy to attract new subscribers, she started by announcing them on her Facebook page and Instagram. Each time, she'd gain about 100 new subscribers. That was nice, but she wanted more.
For her October 2015 Giveaway, Danielle decided to try Facebook ads to make a bigger impact. She was excited to try Facebook ads in particular because you can pinpoint who sees your ads. Danielle knows exactly who her ideal customer is, so she wanted to see if she could reach them with an ad.
How She Got Started:Danielle created a regular post on her Facebook page with an image and a description telling someone how they could enter the giveaway. Danielle gave away a baby carrier cover from her shop. You can see Danielle's original Facebook post here.
From there, Danielle went into the Facebook Ads Platform and chose that post as the content that she wanted to promote. She chose to target women in the US and Canada between 24-35 years old, and who have an interest in one of the baby carrier brands (for example, Ergo) and were expectant or new parents. For the October giveaway, this was just one great big combined audience of 110,000 people.
In subsequent months, Danielle has broken down this large audience into multiple, smaller audiences to compare how they each stack up to each other in terms of cost and engagement. You can run just one campaign, with the same "ad" (the post that describes the giveaway) but create multiple audiences to target. Then you can directly compare them to each other and home in on the groups that give you the biggest bang for your buck.
Note: Danielle did not just boost her post. She turned that post into an ad. You have to go into the ads platform to have all of the specific targeting options available to you.Facebook Ad Quick Tips
- Use a native post as your ad. You can take any old post from your Facebook page, then go into the ads manager and choose that content to be an ad. This can be very effective because that ad looks like a natural post that would show up in someone's Facebook feed. Facebook users may be more likely to engage with that ad content.
- To help your post spread, you can optimize for engagement. If your goal is to get lots of likes, comments, and shares on your post, you may want to optimize for engagement rather than bid for clicks. Of course Danielle wanted people to click through her post and enter the giveaway, but she also didn't want to pay for every single click. She wanted people to share her post organically and let friends in on the great giveaway. She also wanted to content to show up in others' newsfeeds organically because it was getting a lot of engagement from their friends on Facebook. People did interact with Danielle's post as though it was a native post. She has 495 likes on the post, 144 comments, and 64 shares! And Danielle paid just $65 for this level of engagement.
- Engage with every comment you get on your ad. Women were commenting on Danielle's post telling her what a neat product she had, asking her if they were eligible to enter, or asking about other colors and product availability. Danielle responded to every single comment. She even responded to the more general comments like "great giveaway!" Why? Because by simply writing back something nice like "thanks! Hope you win!" there's a chance that person may see the post in their feed again, or that because Danielle tagged them, some of their top friends on Facebook would see that activity too. Again, all of those comments and interactions give Danielle even more unpaid reach for her post.
- Get Razor-Sharp with your Targeting. Danielle didn't just target all new parents with her giveaway. She got really specific and targeted new parents who already expressed an interest in baby carrier brands. She's targeting not just new parents, but parents who are baby carrier users because those are the individuals who will just love her baby carrier cover and would use it in their daily lives. Whatever your business sells, get specific with your targeting to reach customers who have already expressed interest in a very similar product or a tightly related product.
- Audience Size can be Big or Small. This probably seems like it's not a helpful tip, but hear me out! You do want to get razor-sharp with your targeting, but if you've whittled your ad down to an audience of just 50,000 people or so, you may find that you're paying quite a lot to reach that small number of people. If this is the case, expand your reach a bit and try an audience size of about a million people. Compare your results. Which size and targeting options are getting you the most bang for your buck? There's not one right answer here, but testing and realizing that if you're paying a lot for not-so-great results, audience size may be partly to blame.
Danielle knew she wanted several features for the giveaway app she chose. She ultimately went with Gleam for several reasons:
- Gleam integrates directly with Mailchimp
- Gleam provides a stand-alone landing page for the giveaway. This is a must for Danielle because she's an Etsy shop owner without her own website. She didn't have a place to embed a landing page.
- Gleam lets you ask a question of your audience as a bonus-entry option for them. Danielle says this market research is gold!
- Gleam lets entrants refer their friends to earn extra giveaway entries - this makes the giveaway more likely to spread organically.
Danielle pays $39/month for Gleam.What to do with a Closed Giveaway
Once a giveaway starts to spread, it's a shame to see people visit the page and simply walk away because the giveaway is now closed. Since Danielle does a new giveaway each month, she can simply point these prospective entrants to the new giveaway entry page and close the loop.
Once a certain giveaway ends, Danielle turns that link into a MailChimp opt-in page. She can customize the opt-in form with a photo of her business, and include information at the top to let people know that even though this giveaway is now closed, they can click on the link and head to the new giveaway. Danielle doesn't lose any referral traffic this way.How to Advertise without Wasting your Money
Many small business owners are afraid to advertise because they have a limited budget for their business. It's so discouraging to invest in advertising only to feel like you just dumped your money down the drain. But it is possible to advertise wisely and make a profit from your efforts. Danielle recommends starting small, running tests, and only increasing your advertising budget when you start to see results.
Danielle started her October giveaway with just a few dollars of ad spend, but once she saw great results in the form of entries, shares, and engagement on her post, she knew it made sense to invest more. Danielle also saw several sales come in rather quickly after she started her ad, so she took the profits from those sales and reinvested that into more advertising for the giveaway.
In total, Danielle spent $55 on Facebook ads for her October Giveaway. She gained 788 email subscribers as a result. That's insane!! Danielle got email subscribers at just 7 cents per lead. In the internet marketing world a good price per lead is $1-$2. So pennies per lead is quite incredible.
Danielle is making advertising work in her handmade business with small profit margins. It could work for you too, but you'll have to be creative, test constantly, and not get discouraged if your first attempt isn't a smashing success.Danielle's Exponential List Growth
Danielle's monthly giveaway strategy has paid off in big ways for her business. On October 1, she had 224 email subscribers. Her goal for the year was to hit 500 subscribers. After Danielle blew that goal out of the water with her first paid giveaway, she set a new goal to hit 2,500 subscribers in 2015. At the time of the podcast interview in mid-December, Danielle has already surpassed that goal with 2750 subscribers. She has more than 10X'ed her email list in 2.5 months!
Lets subscribers know that as long as they're subscribed, they're automatically entered in that month's giveaways - or automatically find out - so chance they will keep opening to find out about the next month's giveaway and how to enter.
Danielle has also added more followers on other forms of social media as well - growing Facebook from 234 to 1533 fans, Instagram to 2,000 followers, and another 1,000 new followers on Pinterest.
We were curious about whether these new subscribers stick around or simply unsubscribe when they find out they didn't win. Danielle says they tend to stick around because they know there's a new giveaway coming next month. She hopes that encourages them to open emails from her so they won't miss out.
Danielle's list growth is resulting in sales too. Her last quarter of sales for 2015 is more than her total sales for the 9 months before that. Although this is Danielle's first year and she knows it's the holiday season, it's pretty easy to see that a good portion of her traffic and sales are coming through her email list too.Danielle Ignores the Gurus - Maybe you Should Too!
Danielle has found that much of the advice that the gurus give on email marketing doesn't work so well for her and her handmade business. Instead, she's developed a system that works for her and keeps her subscribers happy. Below are all the ways Danielle ignores the gurus.
- Danielle sends just one welcome email. Most gurus suggest sending a long auto-responder series to new subscribers to introduce them to you and your business, give them great advice and content, and build a relationship. But Danielle found that she had a higher unsubscribe rate when she had a 3-part welcome series versus her current system of just one welcome email. It was too much for her subscribers, because she wanted to send them updates every few weeks as well. One email to introduce herself and make a great impression is just right for Danielle.
- Danielle doesn't teach in her emails. Since Danielle is always creating new products to keep her customers coming back, she doesn't feel the need to educate and inform in her emails. That might work well if a business owner has just one big product to sell, but Danielle's customers don't need to learn how a baby blanket works! They just want to know what's new in the shop or how they can enter the latest giveaway. If they're on her list, they're already sold on the concept that handmade items for baby are great.
- Danielle doesn't have a consistent email schedule. She sends a new email when... there's something new! Typically Danielle sends a "what's happening in the shop" email about once a month, and her subscribers also get an email about the latest giveaway at the beginning of each month. But she does suggest that if you're struggling to send consistent emails to your list, make a schedule for yourself and stick with it.
The Gleam Giveaway App has allowed Danielle to do market research in a unique way. Giveaway entrants can earn an extra entry by answering questions! Danielle says that the answers have been so valuable that they're worth the cost of the giveaway alone even if she didn't gain new subscribers from it.
Danielle has asked entrants, "What's the most important thing you're looking for when you're shopping for baby stuff?" Then she takes those answers to go back and refine her Etsy listings so she's using the terms her ideal customers use to find great products. She found that many people use "safety" when it comes to baby items, but because that word is so obvious, Danielle hadn't used that in her listings. Now she does, and the listings where safety is listed now convert into sales more often!
Danielle also asked what other baby brands the entrants like. She can use those answers to go create new custom audiences to target on Facebook.
"What other blogs or websites do you like?" is another question Danielle has asked. Her awesome Mom is currently compiling that list so that Danielle knows exactly where to advertise her products in 2016 or which bloggers to partner with to do giveaways and reviews. So perfect!
Danielle is using her current audience to find more people like them! Danielle highly recommends that you get ultra-specific when it comes to your ideal customer. Create a persona for her: What does she like? Where does she live? What does she read? Create that imaginary person and talk right to them. Market where they hang out online.
Gleam has given Danielle so much more information to fill in her ideal customer profile and narrow down her marketing.How to Help your Customer Try on your Product
We absolutely love the ad Danielle used for her Baby Carrier Cover Giveaway. She made a four-part photo illustrating how to use the cover so customers could visualize how it would fit into their lives. Essentially, the carrier cover allows you to take your baby carrier, roll it up and snap it into a storage sack that sits around your waist. You can contain your baby carrier better so you don't have straps dangling all over the place.
Once people see the product in action, they absolutely love it and can see how it solves a problem! But without the step-by-step photos, it just looks like a random piece of material.
Step-by-step photos can be a great strategy for many kinds of businesses. If it's not super obvious how your product works or if you can catch someone's attention and help them to visualize your product in their lives, that's perfect. Danielle knows that on Facebook people scroll quickly. If your post doesn't catch their eye right away they're gone. Make it clear quickly why something is helpful to someone
We decided that step-by-step photos can be a fun interactive way to present all sorts of products. Even something as simple as a t-shirt can seem more fun when you divide it into steps: Step 1 pull T-shirt out of drawer, Step 2 put T-shirt on, Step 3, be awesome. Isn't that more fun?
Danielle says that this process helps your customer to try on the product in their mind. They start mentally taking ownership of that product and putting it into their life. So they're one step closer to owning it.Danielle's Awesome iPhone Trick
If you find yourself often typing out long phrases or words like your shop website or email address on your phone, you can create shortcuts with text replacement. Just go into your phone's settings, keyboard, and text replacement.
Danielle has set up her phone so that when she types nnetsy her entire shop URL populates. If she types d@g her entire email address populates. What a great trick for busy moms who are always trying to run their businesses on the go!Juniper the Comedian!
Danielle's little girl is too funny in this story! Tune in to see how she called out her Dad without saying a word!Find Danielle Online!
Dec 29 2015
Rank #20: 135: Get Better Photos Now! with Food Blogger and Photographer Johlene Orton
Have you ever looked at the photos on another blog and wondered, "How in the world do they get those gorgeous shots?!" Wonder no more, because Johlene Orton of Flavours and Frosting is giving away all her best photography tips in this episode. You don't have to be a food or recipe blogger to use her advice. Johlene is self-taught and has progressed from an automatic camera user to a manual pro. You'll be empowered to do the same after learning from her!On the Podcast
01:27 - Meet Johlene03:58 - Transitioning From Product-Based To Blogging Business05:26 - Building A Blogging Income08:28 - No One Ever Said Blogging was Easy!11:14 - Getting Started With Photography12:41 - Food Blog Photography Resources14:50 - Key Ingredients To Awesome Food Photos16:37 - Experimenting With Backlighting19:20 - The Rule of Thirds22:06 - Shooting Angles for Food Photography23:50 - Tips on Using a Manual Camera26:41 - Tripod and Tether Mode29:52 - Behind The Scenes of a Food Photography Shoot31:16 - Food Blogging Struggles34:43 - The Tooth Mouse (Johlene’s Adorable Mommy Moment!)Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear from Johlene
Johlene lives in the Gran Canaria, a Spanish island, with her husband and two children. Originally from South Africa, she moved to the Canary Islands for love and now lives in a three-language household with plenty of love and culture to go around!
Johlene sold cupcakes in her city, as well as hosted cake decorating workshops and dessert parties. She started blogging to showcase her baking. Fun fact: Johlene’s blog was originally bilingual, with posts in both English and Spanish.Transitioning From Product-Based to Blogging Business
Johlene first used her online platform to sell her delicious products. But when she made the switch from Blogger to Wordpress and dug into the tech side of blogging, her business transitioned to being exclusively online. Johlene realized she could leverage her time and talents much more if she stopped creating products to sell individually and instead focused on digital products, services, ad and affiliate revenue.Building A Blogging Income
The one thing that holds true for most bloggers is that there isn't just one revenue stream in their business. Many different parts can come together to make up a vibrant whole!
Johlene is no exception, and she has found success doing sponsored posts, creating recipes with promoted products, and affiliate marketing. As she has gathered knowledge and expertise, Johlene has begun to use her skills to help others. Occasionally, she will take clients on a retainer and instruct them on how to build a food blog. She helps them with Pinterest strategy and scheduling, scheduling with Edgar for other Social media sites, along with giving them advice and direction for growing their business.No One Ever Said Blogging Was Easy!
The switch from Blogger to WordPress gave Johlene a big reason to learn more about turning a blog into a business. After blogging for three years without a lot of tech savvy, Johlene knew it was time to get serious. A friend suggested that Johlene check out Amy Porterfield; Porterfield’s site was a springboard for Johlene.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing, though. When Johlene migrated Flavours and Frosting from Blogger to Wordpress, she experienced some major problems. First, she had a glitch with her permalinks and went from 20,000 page views a month to 1,000 views. Ouch! During that same period, her site was highjacked and visitors were redirected to a sleazy site. Her blog even got blacklisted by a major search engine. Talk about a nightmare! Johlene was ready to give up on blogging; not realizing that this was only the beginning. She still had a lot to learn.
Johlene looks back on this time as both the best and worst of her blogging experience. Through these struggles, she began to learn new things and experienced doors opening.Getting Started With Photography
Johlene used to use a simple point-and-shoot camera for her food photographs. But when she started following other professional food bloggers, she realized she needed to up her game.
She had to convince her husband to invest in her online business, and she was able to make the case for them to purchase a Canon 600D (European EOS Rebel T3i)* for the business.
*denotes affiliate link. Learn more in our disclosures here.Food Blog Photography Resources
While learning how to become a better blogger, Johlene stumbled upon many fantastic food photography resources. A few of her favorites are:
Tasty Food Photography by Bjork and Lindsay of Pinch of Yum
Food Bloggers Central by Nagi of Recipe Tin Eats
Food Photography by Nicole Young
Food Photography Behind the Scenes - Bright Food, Dark Shadows by Nicole Branan of The Spice TrainKey Ingredients To Awesome Food Photos
- Avoid too much light. Heavy light washes out the food being photographed. For that reason, food photographers should also avoid direct sunlight and shadows.
- Use directional lighting. Directional lighting means the food is lit from only one direction.
- Use a backlight and a side backlight. These are the most flattering angles for food as they enhance the texture.
- Use a reflector when needed. (get creative!) If Johlene finds she needs more light cast upon her subject, she employs the use of a reflector. And we love how creative Johlene gets: She uses a simple white dustbin lid when she needs additional lighting. (Problem solving skills to the rescue!)
- Use a remote. Don’t solopreneurs often wish for more than one pair of hands? Using a camera remote* can help you get the shots you need - no more worrying about steady hands.
Experimenting With Backlighting
Just as recipe testing creates perfect dishes, Johlene has found that backlight testing creates the perfect photographs! Here’s a peek into her process:
- Set up shots with a window behind the food. (Good light, but not direct light!)
- Experiment with a diffusor for your light - such as lightweight curtains.
- Wait for certain times of day to shoot. Late afternoon, for example, is often perfect.
- Test various times of day and seasons. (Yes, even the seasons can affect how your pictures look!)
- Test different windows and light sources throughout your home.
- When experimenting, you want to hit the right location at the right time.
After all that experimenting, Johlene has found certain ‘go to’ spots in her house. In an ideal world, she would have her photo shoots prepped in advance. But, as a busy mamaprenuer, she often is working around her kids’ schedules.The Rule of Thirds
The ‘rule of thirds’ is commonly known in the photography space. But as newbies, we don't always know what we're supposed to do with it!
Imagine there are two vertical lines and two horizontal lines running across your photograph - dividing the image into nine equal sections. The focal points of the photo are found in those four points of the intersecting lines.
This means that the focus of the photo should intersect with one of these four corners. It doesn't necessarily have to be in the middle, but by focusing on those four corners for points of interest, your photo will be pleasing to the eye.
Johlene likes to fill the negative space around her focal points with elements. The focus should always be on the main dish, with the added elements serving as enhancers. Like this example of chocolate chips surrounding the chocolate bundt cake. Johlene once heard someone say that these negative space fillers should work as breadcrumbs leading to the main focus of the photo. Let those little crumbs enhance the main subject. (Genius!)
Shooting Angles for Food Photography
Most food photographers shoot their dishes from the top down, but Johlene has a style all her own. (She says she’s a rebel with a cause!) She prefers shooting slightly above the food at an angle, or directly in front. Close up shots are great, but Johlene likes to give her food room to breathe. We love that tip...give things room to breathe!Tips on Using a Manual Camera
As a budding photographer, Johlene shot with an automatic camera. It worked well enough, but she was frustrated that under poor lighting conditions she could never capture the shot she wanted. After trial and error, Johlene has a much better technique these days.
- Focus on the lens, not necessarily the camera. Johlene says that when you buy a camera, the body of the camera isn’t as important as the lens. You’ll get the most for your money if you invest in a quality lens.
- A Prime lens is better than a zoom lens. In Johlene’s opinion, it’s better to use a prime lens rather than a zoom lens. The prime lens requires a photographer to physically move closer or further from the subject in order to get the right shot, and Johlene says it produces much better photos than a lens that has the ability to zoom in or out.
- Johlene uses a 50 mm 1.8 lens.* (She wanted a 50 mm 1.4,* but that lens was out of her budget. The 1.8 is about a third of the cost.). The first number (50 mm) is the focal distance, meaning how far away you need to move from your subject to get a good photo. The second number (1.8) refers to the F-stop or aperture, which determines how long light is allowed to enter into the photo. This feature also allows the photographer to create fields of focus - photos with a blurred background and focused subject, using a lower F-stop. So for example, the lowest F-stop Johlene’s camera will allow her to use is 1.8.
We wondered, “Are tripods necessary to get the perfect shot?” If you really want to use manual settings and get the most out of your camera a tripod is important, Johlene says. Until a few years ago, though, Johlene didn’t see her tripod as a necessary piece of equipment. When she began using tether mode (linking her camera to her computer), she came around and began to view her tripod as a useful and necessary tool. (Remember how Kim from Lucy Jane Totes introduced us to tether mode?)
Johlene’s camera has a flip out screen, which she used to use to preview photos. But when she would import photos to her computer she would notice that a few of the shots weren’t up to par, and this came only after she had packed away the photo shoot. Some edits were easy to make; like fixing underexposed photos, but overexposed photos were harder to manage. By viewing the photos on her computer screen as they’re taken, Johlene has drastically minimized her photo shoot time.Behind The Scenes of a Food Photography Shoot
Speaking of photo shoots, we also wanted to know how often and how long a foot photography shoot is. Do food bloggers do all their baking and photographing in one day? Is the process spread throughout the week?
For Johlene, timing food photo shoots depends on how well she plans. For example, leading up to a school holiday for her children, she knew time would be limited, so she planned recipes and baked dishes that she knew would keep well.
It takes Johlene one day to bake and one day to shoot. She will often bake a few recipes on one day, then decorate and gather props for shooting on the second day.
It’s a lot of work to be a food blogger and photographer! Johlene laughs when friends will ask, “What else do you do?” (As if there were time in her schedule for things beyond food blogging!)Food Blogger Secrets for Scrumptious-Looking Food!
One struggle that seems universal with food bloggers is ensuring that their dishes look just as delicious in photos as when they come out of the oven. So what's the trick to ensure delicious photos?
A blow torch! Johlene uses e a torch (like one you would see for a creme brulee) to make her frosting look fresher on photo shoot day. (Genius!)
Savory dish food bloggers often have trouble photographing cheeses. (Who knew?) And apparently white ingredients are notoriously hard to shoot because it's difficult to capture texture with white.
So does Johlene avoid using white ingredients? It’s not always possible with baked goods, so she finds that adding elements (like chocolate chips or sprinkles) helps the look of white ingredients in pictures.
Food photography has become a passion for Johlene, but she’s also found that the more she’s learned the harder it has become. She keeps raising her standard and continues to improve!The Tooth Mouse (Johlene’s Adorable Mommy Moment!)
Johlene's five-year-old son Luka is losing his first few teeth. In Spain the Tooth Mouse, not the Tooth Fairy, pays a visit to children who put their lost teeth under their pillows.
When Luka was telling his Mom about how he spotted a dead mouse on the side of the road walking home from school, Johlene’s first response was, “Oh, I hope it wasn’t the Tooth Mouse!” Her boy was concerned for just a second, before he quickly rebounded, “The Tooth Mouse is like Jesus, he never dies.” We were cracking up over that viewpoint!
We loved learning about a few different Spanish traditions from Johlene. Listen to the very end to get your own taste of Spanish culture!Find Johlene Online!
Feb 16 2016