Cover image of Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger
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Business
Education
Kids & Family
Management & Marketing

Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

Updated 10 days ago

Business
Education
Kids & Family
Management & Marketing
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Beth Anne from brilliantbusinessmoms.com interviews mom entrepreneurs who are succeeding in online business. Mom bloggers, Etsy shop owners, Shopify store owners, designers, authors, and course creators are just a few of the creatively brilliant moms featured here. This podcast is all about practical advice from work-at-home moms who are getting things done in the margins - just like you! We're not about big names or fancy accolades here, but instead celebrating big and little wins from mompreneurs who make the most of their day to grow their business at a pace that works for them. We're all about designing online businesses that work around our lives instead of running our lives.Brilliantbusinessmoms.com features tutorial videos to help you grow your business including topics on growing your email list, Facebook marketing, SEO for your Etsy shop or blog, affiliate marketing, building website traffic through Pinterest, outsourcing, organizing your research, and marketing your first online product. Beth Anne won't leave you in the dark with general platitudes like, "don't give up" (you shouldn't). She'll will walk you through all of the practical steps needed to truly be successful in the online business world. As she learns and grows her own online business, she'll share each success and failure with you so that you can learn right along with her. Whether you're brand new to online business, an old pro, or just beginning to think about earning an income online, the Brilliant Business Moms podcast has got you covered!

Read more

Beth Anne from brilliantbusinessmoms.com interviews mom entrepreneurs who are succeeding in online business. Mom bloggers, Etsy shop owners, Shopify store owners, designers, authors, and course creators are just a few of the creatively brilliant moms featured here. This podcast is all about practical advice from work-at-home moms who are getting things done in the margins - just like you! We're not about big names or fancy accolades here, but instead celebrating big and little wins from mompreneurs who make the most of their day to grow their business at a pace that works for them. We're all about designing online businesses that work around our lives instead of running our lives.Brilliantbusinessmoms.com features tutorial videos to help you grow your business including topics on growing your email list, Facebook marketing, SEO for your Etsy shop or blog, affiliate marketing, building website traffic through Pinterest, outsourcing, organizing your research, and marketing your first online product. Beth Anne won't leave you in the dark with general platitudes like, "don't give up" (you shouldn't). She'll will walk you through all of the practical steps needed to truly be successful in the online business world. As she learns and grows her own online business, she'll share each success and failure with you so that you can learn right along with her. Whether you're brand new to online business, an old pro, or just beginning to think about earning an income online, the Brilliant Business Moms podcast has got you covered!

iTunes Ratings

388 Ratings
Average Ratings
357
18
7
4
2

So inspiring!!

By Bryrenee2010 - Jul 01 2019
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I’m so glad that Kelli at Pink Lemonade Company introduced Beth Anne to our group!! This was my first podcast of Beth Anne’s to listen too and I can not wait to listen to other shows❤️

Love this podcast! So inspiring and motivating every time!

By Diga Linda - Jun 28 2019
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This is a great show to listen to anytime, anywhere. I learn so much from all these business women and Beth Anne asks such great questions. She has so much experience and insight and knows exactly what we want to know from that guest! This show brings so much motivation, inspiration and it’s about relevant and important issues that we all face day to day. Beth Anne is an open book (as she says), and pours helpful insight every time she has a host. She so real and personal but very optimistic who knows how to encourage people and give them just the right business advice! A brilliant breath of air is just what we busy mamas need everyday, and she is just that. You just want to keep listening podcast after podcast! I totally recommend you listen to her! Thank you for all your hard work Beth Anne and I am looking forward to working with you! Ceci Mason designer for Diga Linda ✨

iTunes Ratings

388 Ratings
Average Ratings
357
18
7
4
2

So inspiring!!

By Bryrenee2010 - Jul 01 2019
Read more
I’m so glad that Kelli at Pink Lemonade Company introduced Beth Anne to our group!! This was my first podcast of Beth Anne’s to listen too and I can not wait to listen to other shows❤️

Love this podcast! So inspiring and motivating every time!

By Diga Linda - Jun 28 2019
Read more
This is a great show to listen to anytime, anywhere. I learn so much from all these business women and Beth Anne asks such great questions. She has so much experience and insight and knows exactly what we want to know from that guest! This show brings so much motivation, inspiration and it’s about relevant and important issues that we all face day to day. Beth Anne is an open book (as she says), and pours helpful insight every time she has a host. She so real and personal but very optimistic who knows how to encourage people and give them just the right business advice! A brilliant breath of air is just what we busy mamas need everyday, and she is just that. You just want to keep listening podcast after podcast! I totally recommend you listen to her! Thank you for all your hard work Beth Anne and I am looking forward to working with you! Ceci Mason designer for Diga Linda ✨
Cover image of Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

Brilliant Business Moms with Beth Anne Schwamberger

Updated 10 days ago

Read more

Beth Anne from brilliantbusinessmoms.com interviews mom entrepreneurs who are succeeding in online business. Mom bloggers, Etsy shop owners, Shopify store owners, designers, authors, and course creators are just a few of the creatively brilliant moms featured here. This podcast is all about practical advice from work-at-home moms who are getting things done in the margins - just like you! We're not about big names or fancy accolades here, but instead celebrating big and little wins from mompreneurs who make the most of their day to grow their business at a pace that works for them. We're all about designing online businesses that work around our lives instead of running our lives.Brilliantbusinessmoms.com features tutorial videos to help you grow your business including topics on growing your email list, Facebook marketing, SEO for your Etsy shop or blog, affiliate marketing, building website traffic through Pinterest, outsourcing, organizing your research, and marketing your first online product. Beth Anne won't leave you in the dark with general platitudes like, "don't give up" (you shouldn't). She'll will walk you through all of the practical steps needed to truly be successful in the online business world. As she learns and grows her own online business, she'll share each success and failure with you so that you can learn right along with her. Whether you're brand new to online business, an old pro, or just beginning to think about earning an income online, the Brilliant Business Moms podcast has got you covered!

Rank #1: 195: Everything you Need to Know about Email Marketing with Donnie and Abby Lawson of Just A Girl and her Blog

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I'm so excited to have two guests on today's episode that I happen to know quite well! Donnie and Abby Lawson are the husband-and-wife team behind JustaGirlandherBlog.com, and they are also my brother and sister-in-law!

Just A Girl and Her Blog primarily focuses on organization, productivity, and home decor, but Donnie and Abby also share their blogging strategies to help newer bloggers learn how to grow.

I'm partnering with Donnie and Abby for their Browser to Buyer course. They walk you through a three-part email marketing system, give you tangible examples from their own business, and even show you their stats and what works for them!

So not only is the course on sale from Tuesday, July 30, through Monday, August 5 for $79 (it's normally $99!), but they're also doing it LIVE on August 5-7.

To get your hands on this course, you need to go to brilliantbusinessmoms.com/B2B. You want to go directly to that page because that's where the sale is happening.

Go to brilliantbusinessmoms.com/episode195 for full show notes.

Jul 30 2019
1 hour 2 mins
Play

Rank #2: 128: The Most Epic Business Coaching Session Ever! with Crystal Paine

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A few weeks ago, we sat down with Crystal Paine, author of the book, Money Making Mom, and founder of the site, MoneySavingMom.com. Crystal has run a successful online business for 10 years, and she has so much wisdom to share! She hopped on Blab with us and allowed our audience to ask her anything!

The Result? The Most Epic Business Coaching Session Ever! Crystal gave incredible advice on what to do when you don't feel legit as a work-at-home mom, how to overcome low site traffic, and how to generate more income when you make handmade items.

Her responses were so incredible that we took several of them and made them into separate blog posts full of great tips.

Check out the related blog posts here:

What to do When Blog Traffic is Slow

How to Balance a Business and a Baby ... without going insane!

How to Make Passive Income as a Handmade Artist

How to Make the Most of your Popular Posts

There were a few technical issues with the Blab, but you can listen to a streamlined, edited version of it in podcast format below.

To watch the entire Blab in video format, press play on the video below. (Note: the video starts partway through the first question - sorry for our technical issues!)

Jan 05 2016
1 hour
Play

Rank #3: 136: Building a Wildly Successful Brand with Molly Goodall

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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 Moment

Press 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.

(That good ol’ fashioned husband/wife teamwork is part of so many business successes - like Donnie and Abby or Stephanie and Ryan!)

How Outsourcing Helped Molly's Business Thrive

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,

or

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.

Etsy Wholesale

Molly was the first of a group to attend the Etsy Wholesale show, which Etsy paid for!

NY Now

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.

American Made Show

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.

Playtime New York

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!

Shop: Little GoodallFacebook: Little GoodallInstagram: @littlegoodallTwitter: @littlegoodallPinterest: Little Goodall

Feb 23 2016
43 mins
Play

Rank #4: 181: Bring More Enjoyment to Life Through Boundaries

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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
23 mins
Play

Rank #5: 171: 7-Figure Online Store in Under a Year Using Facebook Ads

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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 Link

40:20 - 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/facebookadscheatsheet

Keep In Touch With Jamie

SaturdayMorningPancakes.com

Sep 12 2017
57 mins
Play

Rank #6: 118: Marketing an Etsy Shop with Julie Fuller of Tokyo Blossom Boutique

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Our secret weapon for marketing our shop? The Brilliant Business Planner.

Every Wednesday at 1:30 Eastern, Sarah and I hop on Blab with a Brilliant Business Mom to strategize ways she can grow her business.  Last week, we chatted 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

Instagram: @tokyoblossom

Nov 09 2015
1 hour 17 mins
Play

Rank #7: 099: Start Simply...& Other Business Wisdom from Christy Wright

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Is it possible to create a business with little start-up funds, and make money doing something you already love? Christy Wright says yes! Not only is she a Certified Business Coach, she's started two side businesses herself. Christy is so down-to-earth yet incredibly wise. You're going to love this farm-girl-at-heart's story and advice!

On the Podcast

02:24 - What the Beach has to do with Big Goals04:09 - 3 Tips for Going Pro as a Speaker08:00 - 2 Tips for a Brand New Business Mom10:41 - Remember that One Time When Christy was a Farmpreneur?16:41 - Stop Selling and Start Sharing20:35 - How to be Authentic22:53 - The Wow Person and the How Person26:09 - Juggling Tips (i.e. Keep your Eye on the Ball!)31:29 - A Closet and Some Make-Up... why they could be the key to your productivity!36:41 - Christy's Initiation into #MomLife

Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear from Christy Wright
What the Beach has to do with Big Goals

Every year, Christy and her girl friends go on a trip together. Several years ago, they were at the beach. They sat around and dreamed about what they wanted to do by the time they got together for their trip the next year. One friend wanted to buy a house, and one wanted to further her music career. Christy said she wanted to become a life coach.

Christy realized in that moment how much she loves to help people and work with them one-on-one to accomplish their goals. She's helped people to complete marathons and working for Dave Ramsey she works with people one-on-one to help them become debt-free.

Since Christy wanted to go all-in on this goal and make things official, she found the most credible organization she could for coaching. It's called The International Coach Federation. You can specialize in many different types of coaching, and Christy decided to become a certified business coach.

3 Tips for Going Pro as a Speaker

1. Just start! Give yourself permission to be a beginner. Christy says she spent more Friday nights than she can count speaking at Kentucky public libraries to an audience of 5 people. She's spoken in High School cafeterias, and even huge auditoriums meant to seat 1000 people where onlny 3 people showed up! (One person fell asleep and one person was on her cell phone...)

Christy loves the quote: "Comparison is the thief of joy." She says that if you compare yourself to someone who's much farther down the road than you, you'll get discouraged. Just get tons of practice and experience, and you'll get better. Getting great at something takes time.

2. Video yourself. Set up a tripod with your iPhone, and give your talk. Practice by yourself with the camera or gather a few friends or family. Watching videos of yourself can be brutal, but it will make you so much more aware of any tics you have, words you always use, posture or fidgeting. It's eye-opening to see yourself on video.

3. Take notes. When you're at a conference or at church, and there's a great speaker, take notes! Don't just write about their content but on how they did it. Did they make you laugh within 2 minutes and get you involved in the talk within 7 minutes? What methods did they use to keep your attention and impact you with their words? Christy says there's a strategy and a science to speaking that we may not be aware of.

2 Tips for a Brand New Business Mom

When we've just come up with our great big idea or goal, it can feel overwhelming thinking about everything we need to do to get started. How can a busy mom get past the overwhelm and make progress?

1. Make a Plan. The unknown is the root of so much stress in our lives. Christy encourages women to make a simple list of everything they need to do to get going with their business. Make a plan for how you'll get started. When you have everything down on paper, you'll be so much less overwhelmed because you can clearly see what's in front of you.

Writing things out on paper also has another benefit. It keeps you focused. When you realize you've just spent 8 hours choosing themes, colors, and photos when your true priority is getting customers and revenue, having that plan with solid tasks will help you to stay on track Christy encourages women to just get started! You don't need anything fancy to get going. "Start simply."

2. Get Others to Help. There are tons of people around you that probably have skills, resources, and connections that can help you reach your goal. Maybe you have a graphic designer friend. Or maybe when you mention your new business plan, an acquaintance will know someone great who can help. We have so many resources at our disposal than we realize.

Remember that One Time When Christy was a Farmpreneur?

Christy's had a few side businesses of her own, so we just had to ask her about them! (We're so glad we did!)Christy started her first side business at 22 years old. She had just graduated college and was working full-time for a non-profit. She thought it'd be really great to move to a 40-acre farm! It had always been a dream of hers to live on a farm. There was a house and an 11-stall barn. But Christy couldn't afford the rent at this farm, so she decided to start a side business.

Instead of starting from scratch, Christy used what she had. She already knew how to take care of horses and she had an 11-stall barn at her disposal, so she started a horse-boarding businesses.

For years Christy was able to live the farm dream with this business! She had horses, goats, and a miniature donkey, but Christy also says she had to spend her weekends cutting and baling hay.

She'd love to live on a farm again someday, but she plans on having more money at her disposal so she can pay someone else to do all of the heavy lifting!

Christy's first side business offers a great tip for all of us: When it comes to starting a business, think about what you already have. What are you good at? What resources are at your disposal? You can remove the barriers to starting and growing a business when you don't have to start completely from scratch.

Stop Selling and Start Sharing

When Christy does research on women with side businesses, she asks them how they feel about selling. They say things like, ""I'm uncomfortable, I don't know how, I don't know what to say, or I don't want to be pushy."

A couple of questions later, Christy asks them, "Tell me about why you want to do this" and the women would talk about the joy it brought them...little girls at church wearing dresses they made.... or websites going up that they designed. These same women just came alive when they shared their story. And just by listening to them, Christy immediately wanted to buy their product!

Start Sharing: When you're in your comfort zone and sharing your heart with people, the sale will follow.Christy says that industries and companies portray sales as this evil thing, but it doesn't have to look that way. Sales is really influence, and you're already doing it all the time!

Are you married? That's sales! You convinced someone that you are awesome enough to marry!

Did your kids eat dinner last night? That's sales! You convinced them to eat their broccoli!

Use your influence to be likeable, persuasive, and share your story. The sale will follow.

Christy addresses so many of the issues women face when starting a business at her Business Boutique Event happening this Fall in Nashville.

How to be Authentic

Related to sharing our story, an important aspect of influencing others is being authentic. How can we do this when it comes to our business?

Christy believes that everyone should write out a mission statement for their business. Write out your big vision and goals. Why are you doing what you're doing? To keep that focus, Christy recommends the book, Start with Why by Simon Sinek. (Or you can watch his TED Talk.)

In "Start with Why" Sinek says that people don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Once you've decided on your "why" along with the big goals that will help you to get there, it will help you to stay on track. There are so many opportunities in the marketplace, but when we keep our mission in mind, we won't be so easily distracted.

The Wow Person and the How Person

Christy shared an adorable analogy that described Sarah and my work relationship so well!In every relationship there's a Wow Person and a How Person.

The Wow Person is always saying things like, "Wow I have a new idea! Wow this is amazing!" But the How Person thinks, "How are we going to do this? How will it be executed? "

(Can you guess who's the Wow and How Person between Sarah and I? Also, can you guess whether Christy or her husband is the Wow person?)

Christy's Advice to make the relationship work: When the Wow Person comes in with 5,000 ideas, the How Person should not ask any How questions for at least 24 hours. They just have to be excited. After 24 hours, if the Wow Person is still talking about the idea, then they can ask some questions! (But chances are, the Wow Person has already moved on to 5,000 new ideas!)

Juggling Tips (i.e. Keep your Eye on the Ball!)

Juggling life and work as a busy mom is not easy. Christy shared a few tips that have been so helpful to her as a new mom.

1. Focus on what's in front of you. If Christy focuses on what she left behind, for example - her son being at daycare - she won't be able to focus on the important work that's right in front of her. Conversely, if she's at home with her son and thinking about problems at work, the same thing happens. Christy chooses to look through the front windshield instead of in the rearview mirror.

2. Set goals for yourself to keep your priorities in line. This goes along with point #1. When you've decided what's most important to you, and you've set aside time for those most important things each week, you can leave the guilt behind knowing you've done what you set out to do.

For example, maybe you've set a goal to work on your business for 10 hours a week and spend quality time with your kids for 10 hours a week. Since the need is unending both in business and at home, you can eliminate the guilt if you've met your own goal for the week. Feel good about what you've done and how you've kept your priorities in line.

Maybe you didn't get to braid your daughter's hair tonight, but you're going shopping this weekend, did homework yesterday, and you went to her soccer game today. Feel good about meeting your goals.Moms feel guilty no matter what path they choose. Women that work full-time jobs feel guilty for not spending more time with their kids. Women who stay home feel guilty about their identity and roles.

Don't compare yourself to other women and other moms, but decide for yourself what's important to you and focus on meeting your own goals. (Not anyone else's!)

A Closet and Some Make-Up... why they could be the key to your productivity!

Christy shared two great tips on how to make working from home work for you.

1.) Set aside some space. Create an area in your home that's dedicated to the business. Otherwise, you'll find yourself with piles of laundry...on top of orders... on top of takeout...on top of tax forms. It starts to feel like the business is taking over because visually, it is taking over! Block off a space in the house where you go to work.That space trains your mind to get into work mode, and it also serves as a visual cue for your kids that Mommy is in work mode.

(If your space is tiny like Beth Anne's maybe it's just a corner of your closet!)

2.) Set a schedule. When you're working from home, it's easy to stay in your PJ's until 2 in the afternoon. But even if you got a few things done, you'll probably feel more scattered and distracted if you don't get up and get ready for your day. Create structure for yourself. Have a set time to "start at the office" and take a shower and get ready so you'll feel more energetic, productive, and focused. 

Christy's Initiation into #MomLife

Tune into the podcast to hear Christy's funny story of her initiation into the real world of motherhood! It happened on her first day back at work... when she had a gig on TV....(of course!)

Stay in touch with Christy

ChristyWright.com

Or see her in real life at her brand new event in Nashville :)

Christy Wright's Business Boutique

Aug 18 2015
42 mins
Play

Rank #8: 151: Developing and Manufacturing a Product from Start to Finish

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Hi everyone! It’s me, Beth Anne, and today we’ve got a solo episode for you. I’m doing this solo episode because I’ve gotten so many questions from you brilliant business ladies about how I designed my planner.

How do I import a product from overseas? How do I find a manufacturer? How does one scrappy business mama come up with a product idea and make it happen? I’ll give you all those answers.

Let’s dive in!

Listen Now   On the Podcast

3:25 - First Product Iteration9:50 - Finding The Right Designer14:18 - Be An Expert In Your Niche17:54 - Your Minimum Viable Product24:03 - Improving On Your Product26:10 - Finding a Factory31:00 - Ordering Samples33:30 - Taking Presales (with Kickstarter)35:41 - Delivery Dates37:34 - If You’re Having Trouble Finding A Factory44:11 - Clearing Customs52:14 - Fulfilling Your Orders

My experience with designing and manufacturing a product, as you might expect, has to do with planners. My product started originally as the the Brilliant Business Planner which launched in June 2015. That first iteration morphed to the Brilliant Life Planner, which launched via Kickstarter in August 2016.

I’ll take you through this process. And rest assured the takeaways will apply to you regardless of your nice.

(But to that point. I’ve heard from many of you with great ideas of planners, journals, and other paper products that solve problems in your niche.)

If you have a fabulous idea for a product that you just know is going to improve people’s lives, and you know it’s a better product than what’s on the market currently., JUST GO FOR IT! Yes, there are a lot of steps and unknowns, and you’ll learn a lot along the way, but you’ll be so glad you did it. When you’ve produced a fabulous product that you can put into people’s hands and help them, it’s really an incredible feeling.

That’s my pep talk as we get started :) I’m going to share my journey and the big takeaways you can keep in mind for your own product launch.

First Product Iteration

As my sister and I were writing our book Time Management Mama we wanted a planner that allowed us to plan our business and lives in one place.

Our planner idea started with lined, blank paper. We sketched out what we wanted on those pages. We really wanted work and personal to do lists, and top 3 priorities for each week. And we knew we wanted our weekly layout to be time blocked.

We just sketched it out our ideas. I should go pull up our old sketches for fun :)

Neither of my sister or I are very artistic or good at drawing. These early sketches were SUPER rough. We just knew what the end result should be, but we needed help bringing it to life. From there, we found a designer to take our sketches and turn them to a digital file.

Takeaway #1:Those of you trying to produce a totally unique physical product, will eventually need a CAD file. CAD stands for Computer Aided Design. You’ll need an expert to translate your ideas to this digital format, so that your factor can use and produce your product in mass quantities!

We got off easy when it came to finding a designer! As soon as we mentioned we were working on creating a planner, one lady in our community reached out and said, “Hey! I make planner pages and am well versed at using Illustrator to create printables. I’d love to work with you.” (SUCH a gift, right?)

This gal took our very rough sketches, translated them to Illustrator, and gave us ideas about how to make the planner even better.

Takeaway #2: When you find your designer, one of the best things you can do is be really prompt with feedback.

Design and development takes a lot of time. It’ll take way more back and forth than you imagined. If you want to keep your project moving forward, you need to write back to that person within 24 hours every time. Otherwise, you’ll be the kink in your own system. Then a year will go by without having a product, but it’s because you didn’t give prompt feedback!

Since this time, we’ve worked with a few different designers and they all appreciate feedback. They’re in creation mode and ready to work, you just have to give the direction you want to go.

You need to also give detailed feedback. Never assume that this designer can read your mind! Spell everything out for them, even when it comes down to the spacing of a line or font choices.  

One tip: When I feel like a piece of feedback will be hard to explain via email, I’ll do a video recording. I use a free app called liteCam HD for these quick recordings. What I’ll do is pull up those exact files that the designer sent back to me, and record my screen with me looking at the file. Following my mouse movement, I can say things like, ‘This line is too thick. And these colors aren’t quite what I wanted. But I like this section.’

Finding The Right Designer

If you’re fortunate enough to have a designer reach out to you and ask you to hire them, you can always go to a site like Upwork.com and submit your job. You’ll give details about the job you need done and the hourly rate you’re willing to pay.

I have to say, I’m not a huge fan of paying by the project. I know a lot of graphic designers have project fees - something like $1,500 for one project! I don’t like that at all!!! Here’s why. I want to build my working relationship with a designer and start with a few hours of work before I commit to using them exclusively. Sure, design portfolios are great. But I don’t know how well we’ll work together until I give the designer a few hours of work and we have some back and forth. How responsive will they be? How quickly do they make the changes I request? How easily do they understand my feedback?

Maybe someone who’s skilled, just can’t get your vision. Or maybe you two will have a language barrier that can be tricky. You need to cut ties before the project goes too far! Again, I don’t want to pay $1,500 if it took someone 5 hours to do the work! Or $1,500 if it took a couple hundred hours and I should pay them more.

For me, the hourly rate makes sense. I have them invoice me on a weekly basis, and I pay promptly. I recommend you start any designer with a small, low-impact project and go from there.

It’s ideal to have a designer who is versed in both Adobe Indesign and Adobe Illustrator. (Currently, I do have two designers - one to make my signature florals pretty in Illustrator and one to format the planner in InDesign. They’re both wonderful ladies I enjoy working with!) And, as I said earlier, if you’re creating a physical product you’ll need CAD files.

Be An Expert In Your Niche

The last word I’ll say on product design is this: look at the marketplace and know what other similar products are on market - THEN know how your product will set itself apart.

I firmly believe in the benefit of studying and becoming an expert in your product space.

For example, when we were working on our first planner - I purchased 20 different business and personal planners. I bought as many different ones as I could find with different covers and layouts. I wanted to be an expert in the marketplace. What are the issues and things these products are not addressing? What do these planners do well?

I knew after the first iteration of my planner that I wanted a hard cover. This is an example of a feature other planners had that we didn’t. Sure, at the end of the day a planner is a planner, but there are many little features you can customize to reach your audience. (After being frustrated ourselves that we couldn’t find weekly time-block layouts, we decided to design the Brilliant Life Planner with our weeks divided into time-blocked sections.)

To this day, the Brilliant Life Planner has pages inside unlike anything else. That distinction came from us carefully considering what we needed, and considering what problems other products on the market weren’t solving.

The void your business ends up filling may not be huge, but you don’t want to go through tons of time and effort to create something already existing. Knowing the void that you feel not only will steer your business development, it’ll help you with marketing later on.

I see some people who don’t want to look at what others are doing in their niche and think, “I’m just going to create from my brain and it’s going to be totally unique.” While I do understand that point of view, I have experienced that you miss things by not knowing what’s out there. It’s your job to be an expert in your space.

Your Minimum Viable Product

Once you’ve worked with designers to come up with the digital file you’ll need to make your product, you have to actually manufacture your product!

When it comes to getting your product produced at most affordable price, you will likely have to look at an overseas option. The Brilliant Life Planner is currently manufactured by a factory in China.

One hurdle with using a factory overseas is they often have pretty high minimum quantities you need to order before they’ll work with you.

There are a few ways you can work around this hurdle:

  • Produce your minimum viable product, knowing there are improvements you will make over the next years.
  • Take presales for your product. Once you have one product sample or prototype, get some photos and offer people a sample if what they’ll get. You can take presales with an expected production date in mind.

I’ve done both!

The Brilliant Business Planner was first produced by a printer in the Pittsburgh area. We found a printer close to my sister Sarah, and came to that printer with our planner idea and got a sense of options. This printer couldn’t do a hard cover planner, but they could do a thicker paperback cover and spiral binding.

We gave them our design file and they gave us a sample. Actually our first planner had a white cover, so one immediate change we made was to make our cover a lovely shade of bluish-green.

Our printer could accept a minimum order quantity of 100 units. Volia! We had our Minimum Viable Product. Keep in mind that factories will generally want you to order 1,000 units.

Even with that smaller order quantity, our minimum viable product still cost us several thousand dollars to produce. The cost-per-unit was much higher with smaller quantities. And, as it usually is, much higher with a manufacturer in the United States.

By going overseas to manufacture the new Brilliant Life Planner, everything on my dream sheet - product gift box, custom shipping, full color, thick monthly dividers, metal edge reinforcement - was the same price as my minimum cost-per-unit in the United States.

I still don’t recommend coming up with an idea and plunking down thousands of dollars right away! If we went overseas for our first planner order, it would have cost at least $10,000 - and that would not have been a wise business move. You want to validate that people want your product, before spending tons of money to create the product.

In retrospect, we even could have done presales with the business planner rather than putting our own money into the project.

Once we brought our first Brilliant Business Planner to market, we were able to make sales - but I’ll be honest, those first sales weren’t great. But the women who bought this planner loved it and used it every day. We chalked up the slow sales to our planner not launching in the right season (we launched in June) and with a half-year planner. Then we tried a run of the planner closer to planner season with a full-year planner, and sold 300 units. That was great for us! Getting the timing right was huge.

Using the strategy of a minimum viable product will allow you to start with small, manageable steps - and iterate your way to success.

Improving On Your Product

Even if you think your product is perfect right out of the gate, keep in mind that there will likely be changes your customers want. We sent out a customer survey shortly after our product first launched and asked if there was ANYTHING at all our customers would want changed.

People loved our florals and the planner, but didn’t have a business and need all the sheets. They wanted the time blocking and project pages, but not the pages dedicated to growing a business. I thought I could serve a lot more women if I made the planner for any woman who wants to live intentionally. And that’s really how the Brilliant Life Planner started.

Around this time, Sarah stepped away from the Brilliant Business Moms brand, so it was on my shoulders to get the new planner design in place. But it was WAY easier because we had a base of design files and could easily tweak and improve.

I also knew I wanted a much smaller planner, and hardback. Our local printer couldn’t accommodate, and so that made me explore other options for manufacturing.

Finding a Factory

Okay, I get this question all the time. “Beth Anne, HOW did you find the factory you worked with?” You guys, I used Google and Alibaba. It’s that easy!

Here’s a quote from Marie Forleo I love that applies to this entire process: “Everything is figureoutable.”

It’s so true! I feel like a lot of business owners out there want all the answers before they’re ready to get started. I’ll be honest, you’ll never have all the answers. There was a moment in creating the Brilliant Life Planner when I literally had this amazing product - 1,600 planners on a boat ready to come to me - and I didn’t know how to get them to clear customs. I didn’t know what to do!

Everything is figureoutable. You can do this and find the answers.

You should not wait until someone comes along who is going to hold your hand. Newsflash: that person doesn’t exist!

Sure there are people like me, or business coaches, who will give you a lot of information. But at the end of the day, no one person will have all the answers you need. A lot of running a business is figuring out your answers.

What I did to find my factory was visit Alibaba.com. On this website, you can find factories from all over the world who show you the products they’re experts at producing. I searched keywords like: ‘planner’, ‘weekly planner’, and ‘hardcover planner’. I found a factory and was able to see that the structures of the planners they produced was really similar to what I wanted.

I got in touch with this factory via email; there’s even a chatbox within Alibaba that you can use to contact the factory. I asked them very specific questions about what I needed, “What’s your estimate on the cost per unit based on these specs? How long will it take to produce my order?”

The factory quickly sent back photos of other planners that they had produced, and it gave me the confidence that they could print my planner.

When it comes to working with a factory, keep in mind that you never EVER EVER want to throw down cash and order 1,000 units and wash your hands’. Always order a sample first. You need the proof in your hands that this factory can produce the quality you’re looking for. You have GOT to order a sample to see if any tweaks need to be made. You want to ensure that the end result is just what you want.

Ordering Samples

Initially I ordered 4 samples - with my 4 different covers. The inside of the planner was the same, but the covers were different. I paid $500 to get those 4 samples produced. That investment was hefty, but think about it from the factory’s standpoint .They don’t want you to throw them $5 for 4 units and run. They need to know you’re serious about doing business with them. Their team had to work with me and my designer quite a bit to make sure the files were formatted correctly. Plunking down that $500 said to them, “This is serious money and I know it's taking you time to work with me and ship this sample.”

The factory shipped the 4 units pretty quickly, since we didn’t have to clear customs with the small quantity, and got my samples within a week.

After looking at these samples, I realized there were tweaks that needed to be made and corrections to the files. There were 2 covers I loved, and 2 I didn’t. I requested the changes, ordered 4 more samples. With this additional round of samples, I also included a gift box and card with each planner. Once I had these final touches in place, and was confident the factory could produce what I wanted, I picked my four favorite covers and we were in business!

Taking Presales (with Kickstarter)

Since I only sold 300 units of my first planner, it felt like a risk to not use pre sales as a way to test the market. We used Kickstarter, but I have to be honest I was not a huge fan of running a Kickstarter campaign.

We spent a lot more money than first projected with making the Kickstarter video and photos needed to showcase the product. Plus, there’s a lot outside your control with Kickstarter.

If I ever would take presales again, I would put the product in my Shopify store and explain that it’s for presale, giving people the expected shipping date.

You think you’re being smart to take presales before ordering in mass quantities. And while it is smart, you can easily spend $10K getting a Kickstarter off the ground. Especially if you hire a photographer, videographer, graphics, and so on.

Honestly I’d rather see more people do minimum viable products. You could set up an online store with listings, hire a photographer for a hour or two to get product photos, and go from there.

Delivery Dates

One thing I learned is it takes much longer than you’d expect for your product to clear customs and get to your hands. If you’re using any factory outside the US, give yourself 3 months for the product to be to you - or to your fulfillment center.

I was pretty lucky with how the Brilliant Life Planner shipping worked out. I ordered 1,600 units in mid-October and was able to get them to my house by mid-December. This process was a 2-month turnaround which worked hugely in my favor, but I wouldn’t expect this kind of magic to happen every time! Give yourself at least a 3-month margin for sure.

One way you can help this process along is to communicate constantly with your factory. In my case, the factory I worked with needed a 50% deposit, for materials and paying employees. The other 50% cost was required to get the planners on the boat and shipped to me. It took a month for my 1,600 units to be manufactured, and another good month for shipping and clearing of customs.

(Again, I was REALLY lucky with this time frame. But in the future, I’d give myself more margin. I’m a big fan of under promising and over-delivering. Of course your customer would be thrilled to get a product sooner than expected!)

If You’re Having Trouble Finding A Factory

Before we talk about what it’s like to get a product through customs - which was a HUGE learning curve - I did want to point out one thing.

If you’re having trouble finding a factory producing to your standards, here’s a pointer. You can look up import and export records from other companies in the US as that information is part of the public record.

If there’s another company who also produces a product in your niche - a high quality leather shoe, for example - you can find out which factory that particular company used.

Now, of COURSE your product is going to be different! You aren’t going to knock off anyone else, but rather fill a void in the marketplace. So back to our shoe example. Maybe you find another company with a similar, high quality leather show. Or even just another shoe company; you could search ‘TOMS import records’ or something like that. You will likely find a factory that could work with you on your shoe design if you search around.  

Here’s how you do it: Google search ‘import records’ for whatever company you’re searching. Be aware that the company official name may be different than how their name presents.

You can find bill of laden information from many companies using ImportGenius.com. Every shipment into the United States will have a bill of laden, and on that document you can see the name of the factory. Import Genius does cost some money, you may want to try other free resources first. But if you can’t find what you’re looking for, Import Genius may solve the mystery.

For a lot of products it’s a safe bet that they’re produced in China. You could use a one-country plan, select ‘China’, and see what you can figure out.

TradeAtlas.com has bill of laden records also. And I was able to get a good amount of details using their free options.

This will take some detective work, but using Google and possibly a few additional Internet resources and you should be able to figure things out!

Clearing Customs

After you’ve taken presales (if you’re choosing that route!) and have 50% to plunk down to the factory, the next step is to focus on shipping and getting your products cleared by customs. Any big shipment into the US will need to be cleared by customs. And I’ll be honest, I’m still very confused by this process.

From the factory you’ll get a bill of laden and other information. What you’ll need to do next is find yourself a customs broker. How did I find a customs broker? I Googled it! (It really can be THAT easy to problem solve in your business.)

I searched ‘customs broker San Diego’ and ‘customs broker Los Angeles’. From my paperwork I could see that initially my shipment was first going to Los Angeles, but then would be transported closer to me in San Diego.

Obviously when it comes to working with factories overseas communication isn’t going to be as constant. But when it comes to working with people who are State-based like customs brokers and freight forwarders, it’s much easier to just pick up the phone and call them. (I did find that a lot of these places are very unresponsive to email.) I called up the first company I found, and got an answer, “We don’t do that, but try this company.” And then I got the same thing again! But finally the third company was able to help me out.

Though it was a winding way to find my broker, as soon as you find a great customs broker, they’ll know exactly what you need. So my broker was able to quickly come back and say, “Hey, here’s some additional information and a piece of paper I need from your factory.” And you say, “Great, let me get that for you!” Hopefully your factory is really responsive and you can put that information into the hands of your customs broker.

My customs broker filled out all this necessary information for me. There was one tricky Excel spreadsheet that I had to fill out myself, but it got done! In my case, I waited too long to get a broker. I got very lucky, but you really should have your broker lined up before your products ever leave port.

In my case, my planners left port and it was another week before I found a broker to help get our products through customs. But (thankfully!) she was able to jump to action and we got the planners to port.

Let’s say if you don’t have your act together, what’s the worst that could happen? If your products are waiting to clear customs, they’ll just be waiting at a port somewhere. It’s not the end of the world, but depending on factors like how the shipments are stored your product could be impacted.

My factory already had a company they worked with lined up to take their shipments off the boat and put them in a warehouse. I didn’t have control over that step, so I had to wait for these parts to move. It took about a week for the shipment to get unloaded off the boat, and then finally the company could give me the status. At this point, I needed to present paperwork to prove my shipment had cleared customs and my freight forwarder could get the planners.

At the end of the day, my customs broker dealt with all these nitty gritty details. (And I was so grateful for her expertise!) We did end up getting our own truck and not waiting for the freight forwarder to bring the planners to me. We called the warehouse and asked if we could come get the planners; they worked with us and told us the specs of the truck we’d need -- and we got those planners! But if we had given ourselves more margin, we wouldn’t have been so pressed for time. I can’t recommend enough that you just find a broker who has lots of experience and can help you navigate the waters.

You don’t have to do this on your own! I promise, with the right help you won’t be stuck in some warehouse in Compton saying ‘let my products out!’ (Not that I know who that person would be :) LOL) Bottom line: get someone on your side who can help you.

Fulfilling Your Orders

We filled our own orders this run of planners, but next time we will be using a fulfillment center.

How do you go about finding a fulfillment center? You guessed it, Google it! Search around and call a few up. Give them your unit numbers, your specifications, and what you need them to do with the orders. Ask for their cost to store and fill those orders, and then compare statistics from a few difference centers.

Not to mention, when you call up the center you’ll get a sense of the company and how professional they are, how organized they seem.

And that’s pretty much it! Let’s recap our big takeaways.

Takeaways
  • Find a quality designer who’s skilled with Illustrator and InDesign if you’re manufacturing something like a planner or journal, and CAD if you’re making a different kind of physical product.
  • Order samples from your factory first to make sure they can create your product to your standards. And another note, if you’re having a hard time communicating with your point person at your factory, just ask if you can work with another person in the factory. (I loved working with my point person, Betta, and highly recommend her!)
  • Find a customs broker for the largest port near you. And ask your factory where they would send your shipment. Give them the final address of your product, either your house or fulfillment center, and they’ll tell you how to get your shipment. Pick up the phone to communicate with the key players in this process!
  • Use Google! Be a detective. And take deep breaths along the way. Ask around and you’ll always find someone with the missing link you need to create your product.
  • Start with a minimum viable product. You will likely begin with a US-based company first and produce a tiny run, or take presales for your larger overseas factory order.

You CAN do this! You can run your fabulous business and create an amazing product for your customers.

And I’m curious, what are you planning on designing and producing this year? Shoot me an email and let me know: brilliantbusinessmoms(at)gmail(dot)com.

And if you still have questions, I’d love to answer those. If we get lots of emails about the same question, we’ll do an episode answering them.

Thanks for hanging in there with this more technical episode.

Now it’s your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant.
Apr 03 2017
56 mins
Play

Rank #9: 119: How to Grow a Printables Shop on Etsy with Sarah Gilcher

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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:

  1. Focus on keywords, titles, and tags for each listing to get found more often via Etsy search.
  2. 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.
How to Make a PDF Editable

A lot of Sarah’s printables are actually editable forms so customers can use them right on their computers.

To Make a PDF Editable:

  1. Use Adobe Acrobat Pro (this is a part of Adobe’s Creative Cloud Subscription).
  2. Find “tools” on the top menu.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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!

PerennialPlanner.Etsy.comPerennialPlanner.comInstagram: @PerennialPlanner

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
46 mins
Play

Rank #10: 104: Etsy Classes + Craft Fairs with Angie Gordon

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Do you have a skill that you'd love to teach to others? Or maybe you just love connecting brilliant women in business with each other and with new customers. In addition to selling handmade purses, Angie Gordon does both of these things. She teaches classes locally on how to open and grow an Etsy shop, and she created the Handmade Chic Artist's Fair - a twice-annual event for handmade sellers to showcase and sell their items.

Plus, I have to say, this conversation was one of the quirkiest and most fun we've had yet! You'll have to press play below to see what I mean!

On the Podcast

01:19 - The Road Less Patterned04:06 - Encouragement for New Etsy Sellers07:14 - Coffee + Etsy = Perfection!10:23 - Advertising + Pricing14:24 - Is Teaching a Business Strategy?20:26 - Expert Enough22:08 - Handmade Chic26:44 - Craft Show Fees28:44 - Craft Show Advertising32:38 -Building a Reputation38:17 - How many hours (& cups of coffee!) does it take?48:44 - The grossest of gross story

Press Play on the Podcast Player Below to Hear Angie's Story
The Road Less Patterned

Angie got her start making purses quite a few years ago. She and a friend decided they wanted to make themselves bag. They found a pattern and tried their hand at sewing.

Angie quickly discovered that she hates using patterns! From the lingo to the little pieces to cut out and match together, Angie finds the process tedious and strange. So, she designs her purses in her head and comes up with a process all her own.

As Angie started wearing her bags, friends at school and church would ask for one. The business started to grow and spread organically, and all of a sudden, people she didn't know were asking for her bags.At the request of a friend, Angie began doing home parties in people's houses, and her business continued to grow.

And once again, it was a friend who introduced Angie to Etsy! She started selling there in 2010.

Encouragement for New Etsy Sellers

Angie helps many brand new Etsy sellers get their shops off the ground with her classes, and one of the biggest misconception about selling online that she sees is that people assume if they simply put their work out there, people will come.

Selling online simply doesn't work that easily. You have to spend a lot of time and work hard to get found and get sales. And you need a lot of patience too!

The hardest part of selling on Etsy is getting noticed initially and getting your first few sales. But if you take a few minutes away from making your craft and figure out how to take great pictures, work on your listings to come up with the best tags and titles, and get your name out into the world with some marketing strategies, you'll start to see results.

"Don't give up!" Angie says. She's in several Facebook groups for handmade sellers, and she sees so many of them get discouraged really quickly. Angie didn't grow her business overnight - it took several years to get a steady stream of sales.

Coffee + Etsy = Perfection!

A few years ago, Angie started teaching workshops on how to get started selling on Etsy. Once again, the people found Angie! Friends and family would send emails and Facebook messages asking if she could help them get their shop started. But Angie didn't have an hour to spend with each person who asked.

A friend suggested that Angie gather a whole group of newbies and teach classes on Etsy. She found a coffee shop that let her use a room and a projector for free!

Lessons Learned from Teaching

Angie's first workshop was 2.5 hours long, very comprehensive, and when she finished, she saw nothing but deer in headlights!

She made sure the next class was smaller, and they started at the very beginning of opening their shops. writing their policies, creating an about page, and figuring our shipping. The women there literally brought out their laptops or ipads and got to work on their shops while Angie circulated around the room to help. Angie answered questions as they came up, and everyone left feeling equipped to open their first Etsy shop!After that, Angie hosted a class on product photography, then branding, and she continues to bring on other experts to provide advice on various topics.

Advertising + Pricing

Angie started a Sheboygen, Wisconsin Etsy Sellers Facebook group, so she posts to the group when she's hosting a class. This alone, has been enough for Angie to fill her classes!

Angie charges just $20 per person for each class. She wants to keep it affordable for brand new sellers, but the small amount of money she makes helps to compensate her for her time.

Angie says that she spends the better part of a Thursday before class immersing herself in the topic she's teaching on, and putting together folders full of printed materials that everyone can take home. (Angie's so nice she even buys the ladies a cup of coffee for the class!)

Is Teaching a Business Strategy?

We were curious about whether teaching classes is something Angie views as part of her business, or just something she does to be generous to new sellers.

Angie considers her classes a hobby with benefits! She absolutely loves teaching, and she gets so excited when she has a class scheduled, but the small income she makes from classes is definitely not the meat and potatoes of her business.

For any women out there who may be considering starting their own classes, you should know that there are other ways you could do them. Angie chooses to make hers informal, but you could get in touch with your local Chamber of Commerce, or you could suggest that you teach a class to your local Community or Public College!Many cities have a parks and rec department that offers classes for adults too.

You don't have to teach about business - you could teach about your craft or hobby. You could even host a one-day conference on your field of expertise!

Expert Enough

It's easy to get excited about the idea of teaching others, but quickly count ourselves out because we don't think we're expert enough to do it. Sarah and I say "you're expert enough!"

There is always someone a few steps behind you that you can teach. And Angie admits that she still doesn't know everything, but she teaches what she does know. And some of the things she teaches took her years to figure out! She loves passing along what she's learned and giving someone else a shortcut.

There's also value in learning from someone who's only a few steps ahead versus five thousand steps. That person who is miles in front of you may not remember what it was like at the starting line. They tend to gloss over the beginning and simplify the process of getting started. The person just a few steps ahead well remembers what it was like, and all the exact steps she took to get where she is today.

Angie saw an illustration the other day that serves as encouragement: There's a guy running really slow, but he says, "I'm lapping everybody on the couch."

Handmade Chic

Angie seems to have a trend of jumping into something fun that a friend suggested, and then later turning it into a something big! About 7 years ago Angie did a house party in her home to sell her purses. She hosted the party in November, and this time, she invited a few other maker friends to come and sell too.

The night went so well for the sellers that it became a tradition. After the second year, people started calling Angie and asking if they could be a part of it! 4 years ago, Angie had 14 people sell in her home, and 70 people walking through during a 2-hour timespan!

2 years ago, Angie and her family moved into an older home with a less open floor plan, the November event had 80 visitors who were shoulder to shoulder, so she had to find a bigger place! Angie moved Handmade Chic to the coffee shop where she had been teaching classes.

The coffee shop was so generous - letting Angie and the makers take over the entire shop, and even helping her advertise. She tried Handmade Chic in the summer to test out how it would go in the shop, and then they did it again in November. During the first summer event in the shop, they had 85 come through on a Saturday morning.

Last year, in the 3rd week of November, they had over 200 people come through the coffee shop during a 3-hour window!

Recently, Angie did another summer show at the coffee shop, and this time, she took applications and branded it as Handmade Chic Artist's Fair. It's official! Angie has been very intentional in branding her event as exclusively handmade items.

Handmade Chic has a problem, though, they're outgrowing the coffee shop! It's a good problem to have, and Angie is fervently looking for a bigger space for this year's show.

Craft Show Fees

Angie charges just $35 for a 5 by 5 foot space inside the coffee shop, because they're very limited on space! But outside, a vendor can take a chance on the Wisconsin weather and pay just $20 for unlimited space.At this point, Angie doesn't take home a paycheck for hosting the craft fair. She uses the money in fees to advertise for the event. But this year, if they find a bigger space they can get more artists involved and have enough money to advertise and pay themselves too! (Or, as Angie says, at least pay her right-hand girl Kim who does a lot of work for the event!)

Craft Show Advertising

When Angie first turned her November open house into an event, she would go on Vistaprint and make post cards. She mailed them out to everyone she knew and handed them out at school and church.Early on, about 90% of the visitors to the even were people she invited and knew, and then there were a few guests from other vendors.

To this day, people come to the show and thank Angie for sending out a post card! It may be old school, but that physical reminder can make a big difference for a local event. It goes up on the fridge, and people don't forget to come. Angie also orders plenty so that the other makers can hand out postcards as well.Now that the show is growing, Angie runs Facebook ads too. She shows them to people within a 45-mile radius of Sheboygen, and a few months ago when they welcomed everyone to the show, they discovered that many visitors found out about it on Facebook!

Welcoming guests to the event and offering a door prize serves another function too - they're able to get email addresses so they can let all the attendees know about the event for next year.

Angie's local radio station advertises community events for free. They'll read them on air for a week or two leading up to an event. In addition, Angie hires someone to write an article about the event, and it gets published in local newspapers. Once again - free advertising for the fair!

Building a Reputation

Because Angie has been very intentional in her branding of her craft show, she's building a good reputation that will help Handmade Chic grow from year to year.

Friends love to tell others about which craft shows are great (and which ones stink!) Angie realized early on that visitors were coming just for the handmade items, and those with home party businesses didn't sell well. So she decided to make the show juried and only accept the right handmade sellers.

Angie's recommendation for a juried show: Hire yourself a "Kim"! There's nothing more difficult than having to turn down friends and family who want to sell at your show. But if you leave the decision to someone else, you can tell your loved ones that it's out of your hands. :)

How many hours (& cups of coffee!) does it take?

We were curious about the number of hours it takes to plan and put on a craft show.Angie didn't have a number. She just had one word: INSANE. Between her June and November shows, Angie only has about 6 weeks of down time before she's planning again!

On the list:

  • picking a theme and colors
  • designing the postcards
  • creating the applications
  • receiving and deciding on applicants
  • updating the website
  • communicating with the artists
  • advertising the event
  • setting up the day before
  • being the first one there and the last one to leave

Angie says when she's not physically working on the craft show, she's thinking about it, but it's something she really looks forward to.

The grossest of gross story

Angie described her funny mom moment in just that way! We'll leave it at that - you'll have to tune in to hear the crazy thing Angie's girls did when they were little. And shhh don't you dare tell them she shared this story on the podcast!

Stay in touch with Angie!

Gathered-Sown.comEtsy shop: Gathered and Sown

Sep 15 2015
54 mins
Play

Rank #11: 141: Building a Successful Online Side Hustle in Less than a Year... with Less than $300 to Start! with Hannah Hageman

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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 Moment

Press 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!

Site: HannahHageman.com

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
34 mins
Play

Rank #12: 184: How a Single Mom Makes a Full-Time Living with her Shopify Store

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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
50 mins
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Rank #13: 194: How Kara Fidd Pulled Off a 20k Digital Product Launch with a Small List

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So… just exactly how many email subscribers do I need for a successful online business? Well when it comes to Kara Fidd, you can pull off a 20k digital product launch with a small list! No problem :)

It’s way more important to have the RIGHT, targeted subscribers on your list than it is to have lots of the wrong people on that list.

Kara Fidd has pulled off two, ridiculously successful product launches with a super small list. Her first launch was to 2,000 subscribers and she made $10,000!

Her second launch was to 6,000 subscribers and she made $20,000!

Listen to hear what Kara offers her new subscribers, how she structures her launches, and how she makes sales on auto-pilot each day.

Full show notes at brilliantbusinessmoms.com/episode194.

Jul 12 2019
46 mins
Play

Rank #14: 115: How to Partner with Influencers on Instagram to Market your Business

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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.

@helloimhandmade

@hellolovehandmade

@handmadeloves

@favehandmade

Find Cheri and Mei online!

Cheri Tracy: Orglamix.com

@Orglamix on Instagram

Mei Pak: CreativeHiveCo.com

@TinyHandsJewelry and @CreativeHiveCo on Instagram

Oct 27 2015
1 hour 8 mins
Play

Rank #15: 154: Creating an Online Course and Learning through Experimenting with Becky Kopitzke

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Today on the show we are so excited to welcome Becky Kopitzke! She’s a mom of two girls, a blogger, an author, and a fellow course creator. Her fabulous program is called the Cranky Mom Fix and today we'll chat about creating, beta testing and launching her course.

Listen Now   On the Podcast

00:50 - Becky’s Heart for Moms 03:46 - Beta Testing 10:26 - Pricing an Online Course 12:54 - Launching an Online Course 20:02 - Beth Anne’s Insights 23:35 - How Much Did Becky Put Into Facebook Ads? 26:30 - A Successful Email List Strategy 28:15 - Overcoming Self-Doubt 33:30 - Being Authentic 34:08 - Becky’s Adorable (& Humbling!) Mommy Moment

Becky’s Heart for Moms

First and foremost, Becky and her husband of 15 years have two beautiful girls: Claire who's 9, and Noelle, 6. When Becky became a mom, she describes it as a baptism by fire. She was shocked, like many new moms, by the complete selflessness and awareness of another person that new parenthood requires. As a first time mom, Becky found out she “wasn’t well equipped emotionally or physically to handle all the demands of parenting.” And through this season, she developed a writing ministry. She began a blog and wrote weekly devotions for moms. Her first book, The Supermom Myth, was published in December 2015.

The heartbeat of her ministry is for women who are trying to be the best moms they can be. She noticed that moms often have one particular thing in common: crankiness! Whether it’s at the beginning of the day or the end, moms tend to get crank over all sorts of things. Becky says she struggled especially at the beginning of her mothering journey with being chronically cranky. As a Christian, Becky turned to the Bible to see what Scripture said about how to handle her crankiness. And this was the basis of her book.

Through her journey, she talked to many women who also wanted direct help handling particular situations or to know how to get out of their funk. So, she developed a coaching program from her insights: The Cranky Mom Fix. Becky says she’s been training herself through Scripture how to have a better attitude and be a less-cranky mom.

Becky leads Bible studies and speaks at women’s groups, bringing her message to other moms. She’s transformed from being the new mom who really needed help, to the person other moms came to for help. And her online program is a way Becky can reach even more moms, regardless of their location!

Beta Testing

Becky is so glad she decided to beta test her first course! She ended up with 27 committed ladies to help her develop the program over the summer. Through their feedback, the course ended up being much more substantial than she thought it would be.

She sent out an email with the message: “I am looking for 10 women to do an 8 week program with me.” Her course was all online and included ways to connect like a Facebook group and webcasting. She planned to present material for about 45 minutes and then provide handouts and activities for the women to do with their families.

Becky had this all planned out in her mind, and using this concept of taking a first group through her course as she created it, she was actually able to get paid for developing her program, but with a twist.

After that initial pitch email, she realized that a lot of women were interested, but not able to foot the bill for her course. She cut the price in half, and thought if she could get at least 20 ladies to join in the effort would be worth it. In the end, 27 women ended up being on board, and she even had to turn interested people away due to overflow!

That’s such an interesting beta test, because Becky learned there was a need and an interest and also learned where to price her course.

Before she began the beta test, Becky had her first unit of material prepped and ready to go. She would give the content via a webcast, and then on the alternate week do a Facebook live Q&A inside her group. She got feedback as she went along. Those 27 ladies in her test group paid a base price to be part of the project, knowing it was their responsibility to give input on the program. And, by the end of the summer, she was able to have a great course! Becky especially appreciated that her work of preparing the course was compensated by those early testers!

One thing in particular Becky learned through her beta test is what her students especially wanted out of the course. At first, she thought her students wouldn’t want too much information thrown at them. Becky originally designed the course to be highly accessible: the material was solid but didn’t require a ton of heavy lifting. But her beta students told Becky that they wanted to go deeper!

Of course, Becky was thrilled with this feedback! Along the way the idea of a daily devotional kept coming up, so Becky delivered that as well.

Becky says she ended up spending hours and hours to develop her course, and got to dig deep into the Bible to create these devotionals for her students. She says that the course doubled in content, and her students got twice as much out of the program! We love how Becky recalls that she “was thinking they’d be blessed by something that didn’t require too much of them, but a lot of them came back and said they wanted Becky to require much of them. That’s how they’ll learn.”

We think it’s great for business owners to take their product creation seriously. As business owners we get so excited thinking about a coaching program or signature course, and we create all this stuff, but did we stop to ask the students what they wanted?

In Becky’s case, the upfront investment in her students and course was well worth it.

Pricing an Online Course

Becky used a Chicago-based business coach to help her develop the course (and you’ll have to listen to the show to hear the super fun story of how she happened to meet her business coach!) where she learned that part of growing a business is being tuned into your market, and pivoting your plan to meet their needs.

Initially Becky charged $499 for her 8-week program. At that price point she had a lot of interest, but concerns about the price. Then, she adjusted her price to $250 and got an influx of requests. With the 27 women who bought into her course at $250, she was able to hire help for design, email marketing, and social media. Becky was wise about investing her initial dollars, doing things like asking her designer to create templates she could customize to her needs and keep a uniform look and feel. The beta test ended up funding the entire course creation!

Launching an Online Course

After Becky completed her beta test and added more content to her course, she was ready to launch! Becky’s course launched in the fall, and she cites that experience as another huge learning curve.

She thought she would have a polished, perfect, good-to-go course after the summer that would result in a huge launch in the fall. Becky took time to craft a concerted marketing strategy, including automated emails to segmented lists. Becky had her ducks in a row! She took strategic steps over the 3 weeks leading up to her launch. To launch the program, Becky hosted a webcast to about 250 attendees and pitched her program at the end. While she did have a solid program and women interested, she had very few buyers in the beginning.

And she couldn’t figure out why!

During her launch, the main feedback she got from potential buyers was that the timing just wasn’t right. She had a lot of moms tell her if the course could be offered in the Spring, they’d love to take it.

When Becky started putting the pieces together, she had a hunch that maybe the summer beta test went so well because that’s when moms had the most free time. And with Fall rolling around, people’s schedules picked up and moms didn’t have the margin.

So, what could Becky do? Test the Market and Pricing.

She knew her program was solid and she had great testimonials. Maybe the timing wasn’t right, but what else could be a barrier? Pricing.

With a program that launched at $299, Becky couldn’t shake the feeling that maybe price was keeping people from entering. So she slashed the cost one more time to the point that price simply couldn’t be an prohibitor. She eliminated that concern by dropping her course to $99, and even offered a $33/month for 3 months payment plan. Suddenly she had an influx of buyers! One beta tester even invited her whole moms group to join.

So timing was an issue, but cutting the cost barrier was the key.

Becky is happy to be in a place where she has a solid program that she was paid to develop, and having a launch in which she learned what to do and what not to do, and is now asking the question, “What do I do next? What’s the right move?”

Does she offer again at a different time and a premium price? Does she lock it down at a limited number of students? Does she try the $99 price point but only to 100 students? All of these questions are up in the air, but she’s comfortable being a Learn-As-You-Go Business Woman.

She still can’t believe she slashed the cost by two-thirds! But when the women flooded in, she knew it was the right decision.

Becky is certainly a smart lady who is willing to be flexible, willing to test and look at the results, and make decisions from there.

Beth Anne’s Insights

Okay, and I did just have to chime in and give some insights as to my experience with a course launch! For my signature course, FB Brilliance, I did an open/close cart model. My cart closed after 3 weeks of marketing, for the same reason as Becky - I wanted to be able to turn off the marketing and focus on my students. But one thing I did notice is that my sales weren’t super great at the beginning. I got nervous, too! But then, a huge number of people flooded in towards the end of my launch! In fact, the last day for our fast-action bonuses was our biggest sale day! Those final hours really can make a difference, but you do have to be so strong to wait until the very end!

Becky went into her course launch with the right attitude. She had the mindset that her program was a beta program and her goal was to learn what should be in the course to best serve her students; she learned so much from her customers - about the program and what they wanted - and counts the experience as a win.

How Much Did Becky Put Into Facebook Ads?

Because we’re pretty geeky over Facebook ads around here, I had to ask Becky about her use of Facebook ads with this course launch. Were Facebook ads helpful? Could she get customers at affordable rates? Did they contribute to her sales?

Becky says she didn’t see the return on her ads that she was hoping for, but she also didn’t go all in with Facebook ads or invest a ton of money.

She did attend one of our FB Brilliance webinars (Yay! Thanks, Becky!) and was able to do some work on the backend by setting up her pixel and working on a lookalike audience. While Becky did see an increase in likes on her author page, she didn’t see those likes translate into sales. But on the whole, Becky didn’t see lots of sales with her social media efforts in general.

Email marketing was her primary sales tool that made the most conversions.

Becky tested Instagram and Facebook ads, as well as Pinterest ads with the help of her social media manager. This particular experiment didn’t work as well as she hoped, but she’s not going to shy away in the future!

We can’t get over Becky’s positive attitude! She admits that she probably didn’t know enough about social media advertising to make it successful; but next time she’s committed to looking at the data and trying it again, understanding how the ad strategies work before trying them.

It’s totally common for business owners to just want to tease and experiment with a new strategy. But it’s hard to make a profit without a plan. Constantly, and to this day, in our Facebook course we still have people asking if they ‘have’ to send Facebook ads to their email lists or if they can just send people to their shop. But the quick and easy will never work! It’s rarely profitable to send ad traffic straight to a buy button; rather, it’s more successful to use ads to build your email list and then turn those subscribers into customers. At the end of the day, there’s nothing quite as powerful as an email list.

A Successful Email List Strategy

Becky agrees that the email list is key! She used a giveaway to build her email list, and that went very well! And she did take out a few Facebook ads to point to this giveaway.

We absolutely love her theme, the ‘Ultimate Me Time Giveaway,’ in which she had a bunch of brilliant business moms come together to offer can’t-miss products. Her giveaway featured items like Rodan + Fields, Lularoe, essential oils, and tons of items perfect for pampering a mom. When a woman entered the giveaway, they automatically subscribed to Becky’s email list -- and they received an entire string of emails afterward, warming them up to The Cranky Mom Fix.

Becky was able to grew her email list substantially before launching her course using this strategy and those emails were her best marketing. (And Becky actually got this tip from us! So fun!)

So Facebook ads weren’t a total bust for Becky, she just thinks she needs to be better equipped to optimize them for her purposes in the future.

Overcoming Self-Doubt

We wondered if Becky has ever experienced self-doubt when it comes to teaching on a topic she once struggled through. What happens when you were once in the position of having a problem (in Becky’s case, crankiness) and then solved your own problem, and now want to offer that solution to others?

Did Becky ever ask herself, “Who am I to be teaching and coaching women?” If so, how did she push past them?

“I have those doubts everyday!” Becky laughs. “But I can coach on it because I still live it. With every blog I write on motherhood, the book I wrote on motherhood, and my coaching program - I get the voices that say, ‘Who do you think you are to do this work?”” Becky says she knows those voices aren’t from God, which allows her to push past them.

Then Becky does something really interesting. She’ll listen to and answer those voices, “Well, who am I? I’m a mom, just like them. They don’t want to hear from a perfect woman who has it all figured out. They want to hear from a mom in the trenches along with them who is figuring this out as she goes.” (Isn’t that great!?)

Especially on the days when Becky notices she’s becoming testy and needs her own reminders, she’ll tell her audience exactly where she’s been: “This is what happened to me today and this is what I felt like doing/ Either I managed to pull it around or I didn’t,” and she gets thanked every time for sharing that vulnerability. Becky knows she is “not the model mom who does everything right, and that’s part of the appeal,” because she’ll lose her ability to minister to other women if she comes off as the one who has it all together all the time.

Becky personally finds that I’ve-been-there mentoring encouraging, and wants to give that to others.

(I totally really relate to Becky’s perspective! Personally, I feel the most insecure with regard to teaching on time management. I feel confident that I have great business strategies to teach, but when it comes to time management I feel more insecure. My sister and I did design our first planner together to solve our own problem, but for me, time management and being a productivity wizard don’t come naturally. I’m constantly trying new strategies to be more intentional with my life and time, and I’m in the trenches with the ladies I am teaching and sharing time mangement strategies with.)

Being Authentic

Becky points out that the best products and services come from when we’re being authentic with our audiences.

When we are faced with a problem, and need to figure out a solution - that’s where our greatest ideas come from. People can your example and say, “She’s been there, and I want to walk alongside her as she figures it out.”

It’s not about having all the answers, it’s about being willing to work for the answers and bring people along with you.

Becky’s Adorable (& Humbling!) Mommy Moment

Over the summers, Becky’s 6-year-old daughter participates in their summer library program. She gets a booklet that outlines activities to complete each week. One question her daughter had to answer was “Who is your favorite author. And Becky’s daughter wrote, “My mom!” That was so encouraging!

But kids also have a way of keeping you humble :)

Recently Becky signed up for a gym membership, determined to get into shape. Her 9-year-old said, “I can’t believe you signed up for a gym membership, Mom. That’s so not you!” Thanks, honey!

Becky’s 6-year-old had told her for a long time that she had a ‘jiggly bottom’. And when Becky went to her first class she explained to her 6-year-old that she was going to the gym to help get rid of her ‘jiggly bottom’. But upon returning home, her 6-year-old daughter looked at Becky and said, “But Mom, you still have a jiggly bottom!”

Ah! This story was too much. Kids are great for keeping you humble and in check, aren’t they?

Stay Connected With Becky

Site: Beckykopitzke.com

Apr 24 2017
36 mins
Play

Rank #16: 149: From Backyard Business to 7-Figure Success with Stacy Tuschl

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Today we are so happy to have Stacy Tuschl on the show! She started her now 7-figure business when she was just 18 years old, in her mom’s backyard; and currently she has over 40 employees and has been able to build her business by spending just an hour a week on that business. This freedom has allowed her to dedicate her time to something she’s very passionate about: helping other women take their business to the next level. She also hosts a podcast called She’s Building Her Empire and you can learn more at StacyTuschl.com

Welcome to the show, Stacy!

Listen Now

 

On the Podcast

1:15 - Building a 7-Figure Brick-and-Mortar Business 3:36 - Moving To A Commercial Space 6:50 - Community-Based Marketing 8:50 - Hands-Off Business Woman 11:40 - ‘Is Your Business Worth Saving?’ 14:44 - Pushing Past A Low Point 17:51 - She’s Building Her Empire Podcast 22:55 - Stacy’s Adorable Mom Moment 19:23 - Facebook Live Podcast Recording 25:25 - Stacy's LIVE Event

Building a 7-Figure Brick-and-Mortar Business

In high school, Stacy was a competition dancer, but she knew that she wouldn’t make a career out of dancing. While she was going to college, she started teaching dance classes in her parents’ backyard for free (She says that honestly, it was more for her than for the kids!). Her original goal was to keep her dancing passion alive, but she quickly fell in love with teaching the kids and giving them that experience.

Three years later, nearing college graduation, Stacy was still offering classes - but now she had 100 kids in her backyard!! About to graduate college with no idea what she wanted to do next, Stacy started putting the pieces together: she loved being a leader and teacher. It was a no-brainer to start her own business.

She incorporated her dance studio at 21, and it turns 15 years old this summer. At the time, Stacy couldn’t even dream of becoming a 7 figure business.

Her secret is that her company has always been good about over delivering, and “giving to the community and to the kids, and because of that we can’t help but have all these kids coming to us every year. We just keep getting bigger and bigger.” (And by “we” she means her amazing team.)

Moving To A Commercial Space

At the beginning, because she was doing her classes for free, no one expected a highly professional set up. But when she started charging for her classes, she realized people expected much more.

The first thing she did was rent a commercial building, because, it was too risky to buy right away. Stacy rented a small space year-to-year for a while. Within 3 years she saw that her business was profitable, that it was working, and then built a 9,000 square-foot commercial space. Her first studio was very large, but she wanted to make sure that her business wouldn’t be going anywhere; they could grow into and then max out the space they were in.

Her second location was at least 10 years into the life of her business. And she was aware that changing cities could potentially impact her success, and it was another risk. So she rented a space for 3 years (which is usually unheard of for commercial properties--they expect longer leases) and knew if the business went well in the new location she could continue to scale up and build that second building.

Her second location is around half the size of her first, and though it’s only been in place for about 4 years she thinks it’ll quickly surpass her first.

Stacy’s team had a hard time finding land, so they found a foreclosed building - where the land was worth more than the building! The gutted the building down to the block and put a $1M renovation into it. Now it’s a 7,200 square foot space, which includes a tenant space. (Stacy’s tenant is a nail salon, and they signed a 10-year lease with her, to give you an idea of how commercial rentals usually work!) They’ve also planned out a Phase 2 of her property, which would create additional tenant space.

Community-Based Marketing

It’s obvious that Stacy’s customers are so incredibly happy and she blows them away with her studio experience. We wanted to know, other than word of mouth, what are some main ways that she has marketed her dance studio business?

Stacy was happy to talk with us about other forms of marketing. But she couldn’t talk about growing her business without word-of-mouth because “when you deliver to your current clients, they can’t help but talk about you to their friends.” Her business grew from 17 students to 100 in just 3 years. And at first, she didn’t pay a dollar for marketing because she made it a priority to talk to her existing audience.

At this stage of business, Stacy does have the money to invest in marketing -- but still, the number one way people hear about her business is word of mouth. It’s so powerful!

She has seen great success using Facebook ads and can attest that Facebook ads work for local businesses. Her studio regularly runs advertising to their local community. Stacy also has arranged a few paid partnerships, pairing up with local businesses for various services.

She also spends marketing money giving back to their community. Each year they host 3 events free of charge for their local community, including a trunk-or-treat event. Having 450 kids trick-or-treat on their property is AMAZING marketing. They’re paying for their community to come to their location and check them out. Stacy says, “Their first impression and experience with us is that we’re giving to them before they ever pay a dollar to us.” (And isn’t giving before getting how Stacy built her entire business!?)

Hands-Off Business Woman

Stacy has been able to keep her dance studio running by spending just an hour a week on her business, which has allowed her to focus time on her current passion project.

How can you build a team and work less? How can your business thrive?

Well, for starters, Stacy says that working increasingly less on her business wasn’t something she set out to do. But as she started investing in more training - like live events and seminars, reading books and listening to podcasts- she kept hearing advice to build a team and delegate the work. This did not come naturally to Stacy! But after 15 years of working at it, she’s gotten good at delegating.

As Stacy built her phenomenal team, she gradually noticed that she had fewer and fewer responsibilities on her plate, and they didn’t need her.

“My passion is business in general. I love--and it sounds so boring to people--but I love working on my computer and getting new things done and having that challenge...as soon as I realized I had this incredible team, I asked, “Now what do I do?”

Her passion is to teach other female entrepreneurs. So she has devoted her (now free!) time and energy to the online space and pursuing educating others.

Many people have prodded Stacy to sell her business. “I have no interest in selling my dance studios!” she says. She loves what she’s doing for her community and has no interest in selling what has become a fun experience for her. Plus, over the past 15 years, she’s built systems into place to make her company self-run.

Her advice is to grow your business one employee at a time--you don’t go from zero to 40! Hire one person as you bring in more money, invest in your team, and then grow organically.

This model has also worked for Stacy in her new online business. She’s been at this venture for a few years now, also starting from scratch. She needed at least one person on her team to delegate to, and the larger she gets and more money she brings in, the more people she can afford to put on her team.

'Is Your Business Worth Saving?’

At first, it doesn’t sound like a nice question to ask, but Stacy knows that every entrepreneur (and we know this is especially true for Mompreneurs whose business isn’t as profitable as they hoped, or they’re drowning in work or have lost their spark) has asked it -- including her. What then? All entrepreneurs get to the point in business where they ask,

Stacy wanted to reach out to the people asking themselves these questions: “What am I doing? Is it worth it? Can it really be a business? Will I make money?”

And she wrote her book especially to those who want their answer to be ‘Yes!’ Stacy knows that many entrepreneurs just need strategies and the right tips and tools to go in the right direction. But she also wisely understands that “sometimes we actually want to give up and we don’t want the answer to be yes; we really don’t have a passion for it. My biggest question I ask people is, ‘Did you ever have a passion for what you do in your business?’ Sometimes the business side takes over and we start doing things we don’t love to do. But if there ever was a point you loved an aspect of your business,” we can get back to that thing.

For example, let’s say Stacy didn’t love the business side of her studio - but loved dancing instead. If she felt like giving up, she could get back to teaching dance and hire people to run her studio. In your business, do what you love and outsource those other parts.

(For me, I’ve found that outsourcing the Brilliant Business Moms tasks I don’t like to do makes a huge difference! I’m so much more excited to get to work every day when I’ve got someone else behind the scenes helping me. And guess what? Those other people love doing those tasks!)

Stacy says she knows a lot of you listening might be quick to say you don’t have the money to outsource. To that concern, Stacy responds, “I want to tell you this: it is a temporary situation. Understand that this is not permanent. You might have to do everything right now, but it’s temporary. Keep telling yourself that. Keep making a list of things you’d love to outsource when the time comes...Right now you may have to work your butt off as a solopreneur to get there. But you will get there if you keep pushing.”

Pushing Past A Low Point

We appreciated what Stacy had to say: “When you’re looking at someone who has a level of success you want to achieve, they have absolutely had a ton of failures...People want to know what does that low point look like? How did you get through that? And I have so many examples I could share with you. When you’re an Entrepreneur you take risks. And sometimes when you take risks they aren’t all going to work out.”

Stacy’s personality is to move very quickly. She gets things done in rapid and record time. People will give her a two-week project, and she can get it done in a day.  But things can break down when you move fast. There are pros and cons to every mode of working.

In Stacy’s case, her biggest mistake was not realizing that she was in her comfort zone. And it may not seem like being a mistake, she says, but if someone told you your business could hit $1M in year 10, but you didn’t hit it until year 15 - you may not think you’ve made a mistake, but you might have prevented yourself from growing.

Stacy had been going to the same conferences, and meeting the same friends. She wasn’t stretching herself.  And when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing. But amazing things happen when you get to a whole new league!

In fact, the only reason she started an online business is because she stretched herself. She attended a live event that was insanely expensive. In fact, so expensive that she had a hard time paying for it! But, making that investment allowed Stacy to get into a room full of people that she normally wouldn’t have come across. It was people she needed to meet, and a network she needed to break into, in order to move forward in her business.

Stacy says she should have made that step a long time ago, so it was a mistake for her. In the business world, no matter your focus or the niche you’re in, the minute you stop growing and learning and changing - you could get left behind.

She’s Building Her Empire Podcast

As we mentioned at the beginning, Stacy is also a podcast host for She’s Building Her Empire. We often get questions asking if the blog or podcast should come first; which will help your business grow more? We wanted to know Stacy’s experience. Did the podcast grow her audience? Or was her podcast more a tool to help her serve her existing audience better?

Stacy is quick to point out that while podcasting, blogging, and Facebook Live can be great ways to spread the word about your business - they are often slow to start. “We think we’re going to have this platform and blow up with a thousand listeners every single week, but that typically doesn’t happen,” Stacy said, and we know it’s true!

More than 50% of podcasts on iTunes have less than 176 listeners per episode, which is crazy low when you think about it. It’s low, but think about yourself being in a room of 176 people every week and giving them your message - that would be great! It's a different vibe when you think of it that way

The Podcast is a marathon, not a sprint. It takes time to grow.

Facebook Live Podcast Recording

Stacy is a big fan of repurposing; she likes to do everything, but doesn’t always have time! She has a really unique way of recording podcast episodes and creating social media content. Stacy will actually record her podcasts while on Facebook Live! After the session is done, she’s got great social media content and material for her podcast.

Another great example of how Stacy repurposes content is by recording content via Zoom (which is a video recording platform), then uploading the video to YouTube and stripping the audio for a new podcast. Stacy thinks it’s great she can be in many places online, without having to actually BE in each place.

Your audience isn’t all in one place. There’s some on Pinterest, others on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Stacy can take her podcast, put a shareable social media graphic on it, and put her content everywhere. She gets a lot of mileage from one-time work.

(We think this is such a great idea!!)

Mixing platforms like this can be tricky because “your podcast listeners might not enjoy you constantly communicating in real time with people on Facebook Live.” Stacy works around this quirk by leaving a comment at the top of the video that mentions she’s recording an episode and There will be a Q&A at the end, so stick around. Her audience knows that if they commit for the whole session, they’ll get their questions answered at the end.

But when Stacy does mention that she’s recording on Facebook Live in content headed for the podcast, it’s great because maybe the podcast listener was unaware she puts out content on Facebook and will go to visit her there.

We just had to ask HOW does Stacy do it? Does she mount her phone with the Facebook Live rolling?

She says that she sets up the camera to give a ‘behind the scenes’ feel. Viewers can see her mic and background. And, in her experience, everyone thinks it’s so cool to have the inside look. They appreciate this view way more than just a talking head on her phone.

So if you’re feeling overwhelmed with social media, think about where could you double up your efforts. Can you repurpose any of this stuff? Is there a sentence from the show notes that can go into a social media graphic that links to YouTube?

(Wow, I learned so much! I want to do some streamlining in my own business after talking to Stacy!)

Stacy’s Adorable Mom Moment

Stacy tries not to work in front of her kids. She sends them to daycare, and when they’re home she’s totally in Mom Mode. But during a busy time, like a launch season, you have to figure it out. During one of these busy times, Stacy was working at home while her husband played with her daughter, who was 4.

She casually asked her daughter, “Is it okay if mom works, or do you want me to play with you?” And her little girl said, “It’s okay, Mom! You keep working. I’ll keep playing over here.”

Stacy was so touched by her daughter’s insight, until a few days  later when she told Grandma, “Mommy works on her computer and doesn’t play with me.”

Kids! They are watching and listening...and sharing too!

Stacy's LIVE Event

I love how Stacy got to an amazing place in her business by taking it one step at a time, just like all of us do.

Stacy has a live event coming up in April I wanted to let you know about: She's Building Her Empire. A 2-Day conference happening in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. You'll get to hear a lot more from Stacy, as well as other amazing speakers including 'Boss Mom' Dana Malstaff. On the event website you'll see a detailed breakdown of the 2-Day agenda, plus get all your questions answered. Visit the event page to learn more.

brilliantbusinessmoms.com/buildingherempire Keep In Touch With Stacy

ShesBuildingHerEmpire.com

ShesBuildingHerEmpire.club

Now it’s your turn to head out there and Be Brilliant!
Mar 20 2017
28 mins
Play

Rank #17: 193: 7 Things to Post on Instagram Stories When You're Stumped on What to Say

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Instagram Stories can be an incredible way to build close relationships with your audience online and build your business. But… you might be stumped on what to say! (I used to feel that way, too!)

After committing to IG Stories for more than 8 months now, I’m no longer stumped on what to say, and sharing something daily feels really easy!  

Keep reading (or press play on the podcast player!) to learn 7 Things to Share when you Have No Idea What to Say. (And these don’t involve long episodes of teaching or getting on video! These are truly easy-peasy things you can say in a jiffy!)

It’s time to find the fun in IG Stories and use them to build your business!

Get the full show notes at brilliantbusinessmoms.com/episode193.

Jul 05 2019
29 mins
Play

Rank #18: 178: Super Mom? Almost, just Super Planned!

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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: Keep in Touch With Lydia

Site: TurnquistHouse.com

Facebook: @TurnquistHouse

Nov 20 2017
31 mins
Play

Rank #19: 170: A Blog From Scratch + 30k in eBook Sales

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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!

Exciting News!

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!

Last year we had 3 winners. These ladies have been totally motivated, and totally rocking and rolling in their businesses. I loved having the chance to gift this course!

(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!
31:12 - My New Assignment for LJ

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
49 mins
Play

Rank #20: 096: How to Uncover your Writing Voice with Secret Agent Lacy Boggs

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Finding your voice can feel like a mystery. There are clues, of course: a fingerprint of ideas here, a scrap of inspiration there, but putting all the pieces together can feel like mission impossible. Relax, Ace. Lacy Boggs, Director of the Content Agency is hot on the case.

On the Podcast

01:04 - The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business03:26 - The Mysterious Life of a Ghost Blogger05:14 - Lacy's Assignments05:59 - How to go Undercover09:08 - Face-Off11:13 - Secret Agent Lacy Boggs15:14 - Get out your Magnifying Glass & Find that Hook!18:37 - Traffic Footprints25:12 - Tips for Cracking the Case Faster29:02 - On the Hunt for the Right Topic32:34 - Mission Accomplished for Product-Based Businesses40:50 - How Agent Lacy Completes her Mission44:05 - Agent Lacy's Adorable Mom Moment

Press play on the podcast player below to receive your mission from Lacy, should you choose to accept it.
The Important Clue that Led to Lacy's Business

5 years ago, Lacy she was the associate editor and food editor for a local magazine in Colorado. It was a 60+ hour per week job, and when she became pregnant she realized that she wanted life with a baby to look a little different.

Lacy quit her job and started a food blog. She was able to grow an audience fairly quickly, and she landed some amazing guest posting gigs. Lacy even guest posted on one of Martha Stewart's blogs for a while! But Lacy picked the niche of moms who want to live a foodie lifestyle on a budget. She just wasn't making any money growing this particular audience.

Despite her lack of income, Lacy discovered an important clue that led to her current business: She's great at blogging! Lacy started a ghost blogging company, The Content Direction Agency, to write blog posts for other businesses and entrepreneurs. Her business took off. Now she's more than doubled her magazine salary, and she only works 20-25 hours per week, so she can spend most of her time with her four year-old daughter.

The Mysterious Life of a Ghost Blogger

Sarah and I had never heard of a ghost blogger before. What is this mysterious new role all about?Lacy confessed that "ghost blogging" is a term she made up! Essentially, she's a ghost writer for blogs. It's more common in the corporate world, because often a large company will hire a writer to create the content for their blogs.

There's a misconception that if you're a solopreneur or small business owner, you have to write your blog content yourself. Lacy doesn't believe that's true. If you can get your message across more effectively with someone's help, why not?

A lot of Lacy's clients are lifestyle entrepreneurs. She's worked with interior designers, health coaches, personal stylists, and one client is a data analyst and strategist fora Fortune 500 company.

Lacy's Assignments

We were curious about how much content Lacy writes for each of her clients.

Lacy says that it really runs the gamut. She's written published books and e-books for clients, course material, email newsletters, and blog posts.

Lacy gets hired most often to write people's blogs for them, so it's generally one blog post per week.

How to go Undercover

When Lacy writes for her clients, she makes sure the content is seamless. It sounds just like that person, so that no one recognizes that they're reading content published by someone else.

Lacy has always had this undercover skill. She wanted to be a fiction writer when she was a kid, and she used to write novels as a teen. They would sound so much like whichever books she was reading at the time. She's always had a knack for taking on the voice of others.

For entrepreneurs who don't want to hire Lacy to write for them, she has a voice identification process that can help people find their own voice.

The most important thing is to find the small details that set you apart. What's your style? Are you sophisticated or conversastional? What particular words and phrases are unique to you?

Lacy gave us an example of someone who really struggled to share her authentic voice.

A woman who runs surfing camps for women in California came to Lacy for help. Her camps weren't just about surfing, but also a spiritual experience. But her blog was so corporate!

On the phone Lacy could tell right away that she was a bit "woo-woo" and used a lot of surfer lingo. Lacy encouraged the woman to use her surfing lingo, add surfing metaphors, and talk the way she would normally talk. She wasn't serving her audience or giving out a clear message by being so buttoned-up.

Face-Off

It can be really hard not to be two-faced when it comes to our online work. We have one voice and personality in real life, but then we take on a completely different voice online.

We're trained to write a certain way in school, and our own voice is often trained out of us. College and the corporate world strip our style away even more.

Lacy says it's hard to find your voice if you were never allowed to let go and be yourself Lacy's voice recognition process can help you uncover your missing voice.

Secret Agent Lacy Boggs

Sarah and I just love Lacy's secret agent persona on her website. You have to go check it out. We've never seen anything like it!

Sarah Ancalmo helped Lacy to define her hook and then develop her branding from there.

Both Sarah and Lacy believe that you have to come up with your hook and the content first, and then everything else flows from that.

They came up with the idea that Lacy is your secret weapon for blogging. From there, the 40's secret agent theme was born. Lacy says it's her, just dialed up to 11.

To determine your own online persona, you need to define your hook. What's that one statement, visual, or idea that everything else can hang from?

Once Lacy knew that she'd brand herself as the secret weapon for blogging, she was able to choose her first message to her audience: "Are you writing your message in disappearing ink?"

From there, the blog content came, along with pictures in that 40's secret agent style... everything on the site down to the typewriter font they used flows out of that one hook.

We talked a bit about how mom bloggers or Etsy seller blogs can often feel so similar to one another. They all have a cute, pretty type of style. Lacy has some words of wisdom: there is a huge variety of mom bloggers out there - everyone from Deuce to Jen Hatmaker. So don't be afraid to stand out and be different. Find your hook, and be unique.

Get out your Magnifying Glass & Find that Hook!

Lacy says that starting a business is like going through therapy, and finding your hook can be the same way!You have to look inside, learn about yourself, and learn what you really want in order to find the hook that helps you to stand out.

For Lacy it comes down to figuring out your big why, and that's two-fold.

  1. Why are you doing this? What are you passionate about? What makes you come to work every day?
  2. What is your audience getting out of this? In what way are you serving your people?
Traffic Footprints

Lacy believes that having the right kind of traffic is better than having a ton of traffic.

For example, Lacy has a client who sells weighted blankets for the special needs community. This client could write a great list post on 70 ways to make bedtime easier. Maybe it would go viral and she'd get 100,000 hits. But what percentage of those hits are really going to be in her niche? There might be a few customers in that group, but it would be a very low percentage.

If, on the other hand, she got a guest post on a major mom blog that talked about children with special needs, that traffic would be much more qualified. Every one of those potential site visitors is pre-qualified to become a customer of hers.

Lacy says that creating content for the masses is not necessarily everyone's best game plan for business growth.Lacy shared another experience from her own blogging career. When she was invited to guest blog on a Martha Stewart website she thought she was made!! She wrote 6 posts before the magazine went under. With those 6 blog posts, she was not able to track a single opt-in to her email list.

On the other hand, she wrote one guest post for a blog called And then we Saved and from that single post she got over 600 opt-ins. Her guest post was targeted, and she was speaking to just the right audience.

The social proof that comes from posting on a big site can be great, but keep in mind that it's just that - social proof, and not necessarily a great way to grow your list, traffic, or business.

Tips for Cracking the Case Faster

Bloggers are busy people. How can we crack the case of writing blog posts faster and move on to the next mission?

Lacy's number one tip for being a more efficient blogger is to start using an editorial calendar.

An editorial calendar helps you to plan out your product and business promotions. For example, if you have a product that sells well around back-to-school, then you want to plan out your blog posts 6-8 weeks before that time. Blog about the summer brain drain or getting kids back on a schedule before school starts.  By blogging on your topic well in advance of your launch, you'll start to generate desire and build anticipation around an event or launch.

Even if you have a service, you can create sales cycles to promote different services at different times of the year. You don't have to discount your services - it's just a natural rhythm of promoting yourself through your contentFor example, Lacy has a course called Blog Storm. The course helps people to strategically fill out their editorial calendars. It's a product that people can buy year-round, but by writing specific blog posts in June, people were ready to buy and sign up for July so that they'd have their editorial calendar planned out for the rest of the year.Lacy generated almost $2,000 in unplanned revenue from writing 2 blog posts and 2 emails full of content related to her course.

An editorial calendar lets you keep the big picture in mind and create a plan to drive revenue.  As Lacy says, "If you're not blogging to support your business, then what are you doing it for?"

On the Hunt for the Right Topic

The best way to discover what to write about is to ask your followers or subscribers what they're struggling with the most.  You can even add it to that thank you email that you send to new subscribers.

Even if the answers you receive don't have anything to do with your industry, you're still learning more about your audience and customers.

Then, use the language your clients are using to talk about the problems they're facing and devise your solution.

Mission Accomplished for Product-Based Businesses

It's often difficult for product-based businesses to figure out what to topics to blog about. They don't want to just share new jewelry photos each day, so what should they do?

Lacy recommends a method called Thinking Sideways.

Shift your perspective from your product to where that product fits into your customer's bigger lifestyle.Whatever your industry, there's something that your client or customer aspires to. Pick topics that are tangentially related to your product but help your customer reach their aspirations.

For example, Lacy worked with an Etsy seller who created cool jewelry in a Rockabilly type of style. She started thinking about the lifestyle of her customers and realized she could talk about things such as macrame coming back or coloring books for grown-ups. She can go beyond jewelry but describe the lifestyle her jewelry customers would be aspiring to.

One point to remember: Always keep your followers in mind. Talk to your audience - not to other experts. For example, if a photographer wants to start blogging, they'll think, "what do I know about? I got it. I know about photography!" So they'll start sharing what lenses they use and their set-up, and other photographers will love that post. But other photographers aren't hiring them for photography work. Instead, they need to write about how to pick out the outfits to wear to a photo shoot, or 6 poses you should ask for at your next toddler shoot. Then you'll attract the audience that will actually hire you for work.

How Agent Lacy Completes her Mission

As a mom who prioritizes time with her daughter, we were curious about how Lacy manages to work just 25 hours per week!

  1. Learn how to say no. And the crazy thing was as soon as Lacy started saying no, she had a backlog for clients. She's now booked out months in advance for special projects, and she had to hire two additional writers to help her.
  2. Charge more to make your time worth it. Lacy's business coach told her to set little mini goals for herself. For example, every time she gets 3 new clients, she raises her rates by $25. Lacy gets a bit uncomfortable thinking about what she's worth, so setting those little baby steps in between really helped.
  3. Embrace the value of the service or product you offer. Lacy had to embrace the fact that what she does is luxury service. You can get a blog on Fiverr for five dollars...that's not what she does. She had to own her business as being a luxury.
Agent Lacy's Adorable Mom Moment

You'll have to tune in to hear how Lacy knows she made the right choice to become an entrepreneur. The moment she had between her and her daughter is just so sweet.

Stay in Touch with Lacy!

LacyBoggs.com

For loads of free tools from Lacy head to LacyBoggs.com/library 

Jul 28 2015
48 mins
Play

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