Posts by Christina

freelance project manager

Adding a Freelance Project Manager to Your Team

I just hired my first project manager a few months ago and it may be one of the best decisions I’ve made in my business, if not THE best decision.

It all came about when I sat beside Natalie Gingrich days before the Boss Mom Retreat in San Diego in September of 2018. Natalie is an expert on everything project management – from hiring one for your business or for being one to help another business owner.

In this episode, Natalie will break down the signs you’re ready for a freelance project manager, how to find a project manager, and what to assign that project manager.

If you feel overwhelmed in your business or if you are great at taking overwhelm away from busy entrepreneurs, you will love this episode.

Some resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen!

adding a project manager to your team

Adding a Freelance Project Manager to Your Team

I knew I needed help. I had a big list of things that I did that I didn’t want to do anymore and I kept going back and forth with, “Do I get an assistant or do I get a project manager… and what’s the difference?

It has just been a huge weight off of my shoulders having the project manager, her name is Robin, that I have now so I really wanted to bring you on to talk about what a project manager is, what they do, how you can be your own project manager and then when it’s time to hire somebody else, how to hire somebody else.

First, start off by just telling me how do you know when you need a project manager or even what is it and how do you know when you need one?

Signs you Need a Project Manager

I’m going to start with when you know that you need one. It’s really an emotional thing. I know it sounds very unstrategic to bring it up in that light, but I hear the words and the phrases all the time of overwhelm which goes without saying in entrepreneurship, everyone’s overwhelmed, but you hear the terms or the key phrases of

  • I’m juggling way too many balls.
  • Things are falling through the cracks.
  • I don’t feel good.
  • I’m contemplating not doing this anymore because I feel so bogged down and in the weeds.

So those are all really good indicators that you’re growing. So on the positive side, you’re growing, you’re making changes, and it’s time to scale. And when you get ready to scale, you always scale through people. You’re not scaling through passive products or anything like that.

When to Hire an Assistant vs. a Project Manager

I believe your first hire is almost always an assistant. It’s always that person to take over some of the lower hanging fruit that you are doing that isn’t really serving you as the business owner, and the leader, and eventually the visionary of your company.

I love making sure that assistants get the glory that they need because they truly do take off some of the weight. That gets you out of that conundrum in that hamster wheel if you will, so that’s usually the first hire.

Once things scale a little bit further and you’re starting to make some consistent revenue, you’re feeling really good about what you’re doing and you’re positioned well. Now, it’s time to expand.

The way you’re going to expand is by bringing on a little bit higher level operational or administrative type role, which is what I consider either a director of operations or an integrator (if you read the book Rocket Fuel), but ultimately they all come back to project management and project managing skills, which I believe lots of people have.

Paying a Project Manager

You don’t have to be a certified project manager to be able to help somebody in their business and you don’t need that certification to move forward, so that is kind of the feeling that you’re having as the business owner, like ‘I’m ready to throw in the towel, wave the red flag and say I need somebody here to help me to be strategic’. So that’s the differentiator of a project manager versus an assistant. You’re getting a little bit more of that strategic mindset, that strategic assistance.

So now it’s more of a right-hand person. In the corporate space, you would call this like a chief operating officer, but in our space, which is the small business space for sure entrepreneurship, but also just a micro-business.

Many of us are just one or two people and you’re not needing a CEO. You’re really meeting someone that can really assist you with the strategy.

The biggest thing of all the implementation, which is what you are sick and tired of doing by the time this person’s coming into your life.

I want you to touch on something that you said which is you always scale through people because I know for me the biggest breakthrough in my business and when it really started growing, and it’s funny because I feel like a lot of small business owners are so afraid to spend money and they’re so afraid to bring somebody else on because then you have to pay somebody and then you have to spend time training them and this and that.

But I can honestly say when I started spending money on people, even though I was giving some of that money away, I got it all back, and more, so quickly because it was strategic. So scaling through people… talk more about that and if you deal a lot with people who are just afraid of letting things go and letting go of control while letting go of money too because they’re paying somebody.

Scaling With a Project Manager

These are real issues that people talk to me and come to me with all the time, but scaling, first of all, scaling is from a project management perspective. Scaling is always through people, and I say this all the time because in the online space and in this entrepreneurial world, we hear the word scaling and we automatically go to, ‘I’m going to scale’.

Scaling is always using human capital to make your life easier, to make the business run with more ease.

You’re always going to scale through people. When you’re feeling that itch to grow, to expand, to make life easier, to save yourself some time, it’s going to be through scaling. Scaling always equates to greater overhead and more expense going out.

But just like you said, you do get it back, you’ve got to be strategic about it and I often think instead of going straight to the course model or straight to a group program or something that’s going to take a lot of marketing from you always start with people because the return is so much greater and more dependable than if you’re creating a product that you can’t predict the success of the product.

And so with people, if you’re invested in that person, you’re going to get your return really, really quick, allowing you to scale a lot faster.

Project Management 101

So tell me how, I guess step one before you’re really ready to scale, you have to be your own project manager, right? That comes first.

Yes, for sure. Assuming that a big time visionary doesn’t necessarily break things down like this, but you know, think about it in the normal sense of like managing your home and managing your children’s schedule.

Most of us have a calendar in our home that says this is what we’re doing on Monday, this is what we’re doing on the 15th, this is the commitment or the football or baseball or basketball game that we have on the weekend, so we’re using that template as a guideline for what we’re going to do on a day to day basis.

So if you’re going to do that for your own business, it does look like the project manager of your own business. They say that if you don’t have a project manager, you are the project manager for your business and what that really means is trying to keep all the wheels on the track and you’re looking at all the things, all the balls that are up in the air and you’re saying, ‘okay, for me to execute this, I’m going to have to break this down into x, y, z.’ just like recording this podcast.

There are a plethora of steps that go into making sure that I’m confirmed. Making sure that you have the headshot, the bio, that Skype is working, that I’m on Skype.

There’s a bunch of different steps that go in this and it looks seamless on the outside, but behind every single person’s business, there are multiple projects that are broken down into small tasks.

If you’re the project manager of that, of your own business, which most of us are, then you are going to be making sure that each of those deadlines get met.

First of all, that you set deadlines, but second of all that they get met or you delegate them to somebody else who can help you. Maybe an independent contractor or an assistant that’s helping you for, you know, five, 10, 20 hours a week, whatever that may be. So you’re making sure things get.

Listen to the Podcast Episode About Adding a Freelance Project Manager to Your Team

Don’t stop now, you want to click here to listen to the rest of what Natalie has to say in this episode, so be sure to download the episode because she has so much to share and we even get into specifics on my project manager hire and how you can do the same thing with success.

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how to promote yourself on linkedin

How to Promote Yourself on LinkedIn to Increase Sales

If you are tired of spending money on ads that people ignore or just showing up online to not really get anything in return, then stick around because in this video I’m going to show you three ways that you can promote yourself on LinkedIn to actually see an ROI. 

how to promote yourself on linkedin

The truth is, many people aren’t paying as much attention to LinkedIn as they should be. I can honestly tell you that a lot of my income comes from leads that I generate on LinkedIn, but it doesn’t happen by me promoting my services to people.

We all get those DMs that are the equivalent of a novel and it’s people promoting their services. That is NOT how you get leads and generate revenue from LinkedIn.

Instead, it happened by me promoting myself as an expert in my industry. I used the platform to get known, liked, and trusted, and that is who people do business with.

How to Promote Yourself on LinkedIn

So now, I’m going to show you how to promote yourself on LinkedIn to increase sales. The video goes into a lot more details and I even take you inside my LinkedIn profile to show you how I use it, but here is a quick text overview.

1. Don’t treat your bio as a resume.

Instead of tailor it for your ideal customer or client. I made this mistake when I started out on LinkedIn too because I used LinkedIn when I had a full-time job to apply for other jobs, so I treated my bio as a resume.

2. Promote yourself as an expert in your industry.

Don’t something that you sell. This is a big one and this is something that I attribute a lot of my leads to. So don’t, ‘Hey, this is what I do, it looks like you could need help with this. Let’s get in touch.’

There are so many ways you can promote yourself as an expert. For some of those ideas, be sure to watch the video.

For more on one, big way to get exposure in other media outlets WITHOUT spending money on ads, check out my FREE 3-day media class that teaches you how to pitch the media to earn publicity and make a profit. Click here for instant access!

3. Connect with other people who matter.

You can’t just post and ghost. It’s LinkedIn. You have to actually make connections with people and LinkedIn makes it super easy to find your ideal customer or client and you shouldn’t just make connections with them.

You should also be making connections with people who work with the same customer or client, but they just do something a little different.

For the step by step on exactly how to do this, I screen shared my profile and shared a few examples on how you can do it too!

Be sure to click here to watch the video to get the entire of breakdown of how to use LinkedIn to promote yourself (and increase sales).

If you like this video, please let me know by liking it to giving it a thumbs up and subscribe to this channel because I will be posting videos just like this one every single Thursday.

And don’t forget to let me know what your expertise is in the comments.

I will read every single one of them and I really want to know what you’re good at and what you’re going to start promoting on LinkedIn.

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smart goal setting worksheet

SMART Goal Setting

In the first Become a Media Maven podcast episode of 2019, I’m talking about goal setting. SMART goal setting.

I’m breaking down how I set my goals and break them down to ensure every last task gets put in my calendar… because if it’s not in the calendar, it’s not getting done.

If you’re here for the SMART Goal Setting Worksheet, look no further! Just sign up to get it below:

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen or read what’s below!

SMART Goal Setting Worksheet

I’ve learned a lot about goal setting these past few years of business and one big thing that I learned is that my goals used to be very general and very vague. The more specific I got, the more they actually came to fruition and I actually achieved my goals.

SMART Goal Setting

So first, I want to talk about SMART goals. If you are Michael Hyatt or if you followed his Best Year Ever… I know a lot of people just finished up his five-day program to set your goals for your Best Year Ever. He calls them SMARTER goals because he adds something to the E and the R at the end of the SMART.

I’m going to stick with SMART goals. So if you haven’t heard of SMART, I’m going to break it down for you.

Click here for the SMART Goal Setting Worksheet

The s stands for specific.

When you set a goal, and this is something that I wasn’t doing very well when I first started my business, and a lot of people don’t do this very well, either. They say, ‘oh, I just want to make more money, or I want to work out more.’

Instead, you need to say how much money you’re gonna make. For example, I want to make an extra $2,000 a month. I want to go to the gym three days a week. That’s a little bit more specific.

And when you get more specific, it becomes more attainable.

The m stands for measurable.

How do you know if your goal is being achieved or if you’re working to achieve it if you can’t even measure it?

For example, if we’re going to go the weight loss angle, I mean everybody likes to do that this time of year, right? So we’re going to say, my goal is to lose weight. Okay? So obviously you measure that by getting on a scale and seeing how much weight you’ve lost or if it’s to build muscle, then you do that by counting your body fat. If it’s to drink more water, you are measuring the ounces of water (like I do with my FitBit) that you drink every day.

So you need to make sure that the goal that you’re setting can be measured.

The a stands for attainable.

This is just like, come on people, be realistic. Some people, they start a business and they say, ‘I want to make a million dollars this year,’ which is a lovely goal, but if you’re starting your business from scratch and you have no experience in your business and you literally are just, like hopeful, it’s all going to happen and it’s going to work out and it’s gonna be amazing and you’re going to make a million dollars in your first year in business… that’s not very attainable. It’s just not realistic.

So you want to make sure that you have access to the resources to actually attain your goal. For example, I don’t think I could ever win American Idol. That’s just not an attainable goal for me. I am not a singer.

I actually have tweaked the r. And let me just say that SMART and SMARTER goals, everybody kind of tweaks some. There’s no right or wrong way to assign a word to a letter. But with r, I have two.

The r is for relatable.

Is this goal relatable to your final outcome? So for example, something that drives me crazy is when people like to talk about how many Instagram followers they have when they reach a certain number and I’m always like, ‘well how relatable is that to your goal?’ Because like we could all have 100,000 Instagram followers. I mean, I see people on Instagram that throw these big parties when they reach a certain number of Instagram followers and then you look at who their followers are and they’re all robots out of the Middle East. And what does that do for your big goal in life?

Are you using Instagram to build your email list or are you using Instagram as a lead generator for clients? I mean, unless your avatar is a robot in the Middle East than all of those fake followers are not relatable to your big goal.

So you want to make sure it’s relatable.

The r is (also) for risky.

I put this in here because I was not risky, or what I referred to as risky, when I started my business. I didn’t want to take any risks, I didn’t want to spend any money, I didn’t want to invest anything.

I wanted to just do what I liked doing to grow my business, and then I would wonder why it wasn’t growing as fast or as successful as I wanted it to be… and that’s because I wasn’t being very strategic and I think all of these words in SMART, all equal strategy. So you have to be risky, which means you have to go outside of your comfort zone.

I think the biggest thing that I did, the first step in going outside of my comfort zone and being risky was when I put $15,000 on a credit card to hire my first business coach… and that was almost two years ago now and everybody tells me, not everybody, but a lot of people who are afraid to invest in their business, tell me, ‘I don’t have $15,000.’ Well, when I put it on a credit card, I didn’t either. That’s why I put it on a credit card and I didn’t go to the bank and take $15,000 in cash out!

But now I could do it… and I could do it now because I invested. So, that just means step outside of your comfort zone.

The t stands for timely.

You need to put a timetable on these things.

So for example, if it’s to make an extra $2,000, then when are you going to make that extra $2,000? Is it going to be in the whole year? Is it going to be in six months? Is it going to be in a month? Is it going to be this week?

You need to time this stuff.

If it’s losing weight, how much weight are you going to lose by a certain day? You’re going to go to the gym more? Great. When are you going to the gym? How many times a week are you going to the gym?

You need to be timely because when you go to measure, the m – remember m stands for measure… when you go to measure, how do you know if you’ve achieved that goal?

If it’s to lose a certain amount of weight and this month, then you’re going to measure that at the end of the month.

So all of these kinds of work together and they all equal strategy:
  • specific
  • measurable
  • attainable
  • relatable/risky
  • timely

I usually was setting goals for just my business, but I did do Michael Hyatt’s Best Year Ever and I’m in a mastermind and we are getting away from doing everything business and also doing some things personally because, let’s keep it real, your business, cannot operate without you, so you do need to take care of yourself.

And this is something that I was not very good at my first few years of business but I’m getting so much better and I am going to break down some of my goals for you so you can see how I am implementing my personal goals with my business goals and how they all kind of work together.

12 Week Year

But first, I want to talk about those 12 weeks I opened up this podcast with. I read a book last year.

I’m a big book reader. If you know me, you know, I love my man James Patterson and he comes out with a new book like every other day, so he keeps me busy.

12 Week Year basically tells you how to set goals and to plan them in a 12-week span. Lots of people want to set five-year goals or yearly goals. But honestly, like a year is so far away.

I don’t even think I could fathom… I mean, obviously I have some things planned, right? Like I am speaking at the Mom 2.0 Summit in April. That is four months away. But then in September, I’m going to Podcast Movement, so yes, that’s also far away, but I’m talking specific goals, SMART goals.

12 weeks can be short-term and it can also be long term and it can set you up for long-term so you can think about what you want to do for the year. But let’s focus really on those first 12 weeks. And this is how I do it.

Setting Business Goals

We’ll start with the business goals. So with a business goal, I’m always setting a financial goal. That’s it.

I don’t worry about Instagram followers. I don’t worry about anything else. It’s always a financial goal.

So, that financial goal then breaks down into tasks to achieve that goal. And every single task to achieve that goal will be put into my Google calendar.

So let’s talk about my Google calendar for a minute because my life could not be functional if I did not have a Google calendar telling me what to do every day. If it’s not in the calendar, it is not getting done… and my husband is slowly starting to understand this. He’s not a Google calendar kind of guy, but I will include him on things, on the Google calendar if he needs to know about them because it’s just not getting done.

I used to time block, I still time block, but I used to time block different things on different days and that’s how I knew what I was doing, but in the past month or two, I have actually… I guess we could call it day blocking.

Every day of the week has a certain theme, so for example on Mondays, those are my Media Mentoring days. Those are the days when I take calls from mentoring clients and we talk about their public relations strategy and all of that jazz.

Tuesdays are my podcasting days. I record episodes for this podcast on Tuesdays and I pitch myself to other podcasts on Tuesdays. If I can record as a guest on other podcasts on Tuesdays, then that’s my podcasting day and it makes me feel so much organized. I know going into the week what I’m doing.

I mean, obviously, some of this stuff isn’t completely set in stone. I do a lot of local and national TV hosting jobs, which I mean, they’re not going to cater to my daily schedule, but it’s pretty consistent and it makes me feel more organized and honestly it makes me get more stuff done when I go into the day knowing exactly what’s happening that day, the day before, even the week before and the month before.

Money Math for Goal Setting

So let’s break down how we can achieve a goal in a 12-week span.

I have some bloggers in my audience who listens. So I’m going to use a blogging example. If in the next 12 weeks you have set your goal to make $6,000 in your business… maybe this is a side hustle. You’re a blogger and you want more sponsored posts, so you want to make $6,000 in your business over the next 12 weeks. We’re going to break that down to $2,000 a month, right? There are three months in 12 weeks, so we’re going to break that down to $2,000 a month based on that goal.

We have to figure out what we’re going to do each month to make that $2,000. So if you want to theme your days, we could make Monday pitching day. If you are still working a full-time job and you can’t theme a day, then let’s do one hour a week to pitch, so one hour on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday to pitch.

But how many brands do you pitch? Because remember, we’re not just going to say, ‘Oh, we’ll pitch people once a day and hopefully we’ll get enough to make $2000 a month.’ That’s not specific enough. That’s not being very strategic, so this is where we’re going to get into math

So we’re going to take that income goal of $2,000 and we’re going to divide it by your rate. So let’s say hypothetically speaking that your rate is $500 for a sponsored blog post. That means you need four clients. You just need four clients at $500 a client to reach your $2,000. Now you need to look at your conversion rate.

Click here for the SMART Goal Setting Worksheet

(It includes this money math exercise!)

Finding your Conversion Rate

How many brands say yes to you when you pitch them? Now, when I started doing this, I had no freaking idea what my conversion rate is because I wasn’t keeping track.

So to be safe, we’re just going to go with 25 percent right now. So if you need four clients and you close at 25 percent, then you take that four and you divide it by 25, that’s 16. So that means you need to pitch 16 brands because 25 percent of them will say yes to you.

But guess what? 16 brands. I mean, you’re not going to get lucky that the first 16 you reach out to actually want to hear from you.

I’m on LinkedIn a lot. LinkedIn is a big lead generator for me and I have people messaging me every day… and I don’t want to have a conversation with most of them.

Using a Real Life Multiplier

So when you’re pitching a brand, they’re not going to want to have a conversation with everybody pitching them. So you’re going to need to pitch more than 16 people because remember you need to have conversations with 16 people. So we are going to use the real-life multiplier of three. So we’re gonna assume that one out of three people will agree to talk to you. That’s 48, so you need to ask 48 people to sponsor a blog post to get to that $2,000.

So we’re going to go back to your calendar and we’re going to mark off for Mondays because Monday’s pitching day or we’re going to block off an hour every day to do those reach outs. If Monday is your pitching day, you could do 12 a day, 12 a day for the month. We’ll take you to asking 48 people for that sponsored post and if you’re doing this for an hour a day, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, then you just need to pitch two to three people, two to three people a day to reach that 48 number by the end of the month.

And if you do this, if you follow this formula every single month to hit your numbers, it will work. Not only will it work, but you will get a lot of practice reaching out to people. You will learn what works and what doesn’t. So that conversion rate that is 25 percent now, that’ll move up to 30 and then 35 and then 40 and then you won’t have to ask as many people to hit your goals because you’re converting at a higher percentage.

Click here for the SMART Goal Setting Worksheet

(It includes this money math exercise!)

Happy Goal Setting!

That is how I do sales in my business, both with my Media Maven Public Relations Agency and my Media Mentoring Program. I have a financial goal and then I break that goal down into how much money I need to bring in each month. I look at my conversion rate and I look at how many people I need to ask to have a conversation to convert them into becoming a client.

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small-business-technology-needs

Small Business Technology Needs

In this episode, Heather Stafford merges two things together – strategy and technology.

She breaks down small business technology needs to help you automate your exposure. Without certain technology in your business, you will fail. Heather’s mission is to ensure that doesn’t happen.

Pulling metrics and analyzing numbers is her sweet spot. If it’s not yours, ignoring it is no longer an excuse. If you’re not good at tech, you need to start with the basics… and that’s what Heather does in this episode of the Become a Media Maven® podcast.

Her suggestion: Focus on one thing and make it organic until you hit the multiple six-figure mark.

Some resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen or read what’s below!

 Small Business Technology Needs with Heather Stafford

Small Business Technology Needs

Tech can be scary and sometimes strategy is like, well… what is the strategy? What is my strategy? Is this working? Is it not working? And you are an expert in both of these things and you really help people automate their exposure, but in a strategic way.

I do have a fully functional agency so we do done for you technology – building websites and lead magnets and ebooks and podcasts and webinars and many other things that you use to gain leads and grow your tribe, building your exposure, creating a bigger impact.

On the other side of that we do strategic tech implementation and what that means is like a lot of business owners go, ‘okay, I had this really big vision, like I want to impact the world here.’ And then they stop and they go, ‘well how am I supposed to get there?’ And that’s the big question.

Using Technology Strategically in Your Business

It takes so many pieces and parts and so many of them are wrapped up in technology that if you’re not an MIT grad living in Silicon Valley, you’re like, ‘oh, okay, I’m, I’m out, I’m not doing this, this is not fun.’ And so business owners will shy away. They’ll say, ‘oh, well, you know, I’ll, I’ll do that later. I’m going to learn that later.’ Or they hire somebody but they don’t know what they’re hiring somebody for. ‘I don’t know what I’m supposed to hire somebody to do, but I know that I need to hire somebody that that’s in tech’ and they get stuck.

So, we use basic building block strategy and implement and tech in small pieces so that a business owner can grow with their technology.

I like that. And when people come to you, like, what are they saying? They’re probably coming to you a little frustrated because nothing is more frustrating than tech that you can’t figure out.

I have a lot of clients that also have a business coach. My business coach says I need a webinar. I need to have a website. I need to have a blog and a podcast. I need to do videos.

And it’s breaking down the basics.

How important is it to use tech to be strategic in growing your business? Is it a must? Like everybody needs to be doing it.

It is the difference between failure and success. It is also a must for you to take a really big deep breath and realize that like technology’s there to it’s there to serve you. It’s there to help you and support you. It’s not there to beat you up. It is not there to be confusing. It’s not there to make things hard.

How you go about it, like taking things one step at a time really gives you the opportunity to learn how to put your technology and your strategy in place so that it grows for you.

Investing in Technology in Your Small Business

And a lot of people, they feel like they need to do this on their own. They say, ‘I’m just starting my business. I’m not making a lot of money yet, so I need to learn how to do this task and do it on top of everything else that I’m already doing’ and I know you and me, we share a business coach. We know the importance of investing in your business and spending money on things to grow your business. But when I started, I didn’t get it when you started. I’m sure you didn’t get it. It’s like people will spend three hours trying to figure something out that you could do in five minutes. What do you say to those people?

Trust the process. So I had a mentor and a coach, um, and I and in another field coaches emotional intelligence and leadership development. He looked at me often and said, ‘Trust the process and stay in your lane.

You have a zone of genius. You have something that you do that impacts the world. I absolutely believe without a shadow of a doubt that business owners need to understand the basics like you do need to know what an email marketing system is and why we have it and what function it causes in your business.

You do not need to know how to set it up. You don’t need to know how to pull metrics and analytics and numbers like no. If your next step is developing a website, you hire a web developer.

If you need to grow your email list, you probably need a higher, like a tech VA. A tech VA is about an eighth of the cost of a web developer. It is not going to cost you 20 thousand dollars to build the list. I have clients that have done it for under a thousand dollars. They’ve grown an audience to then share their message with and it’s not painful.

It’s not expensive and tech doesn’t have to be expensive. I know that Click Funnels and all of the different companies that are out there have great marketing. It’s like – get this and you can grow. You can make a million dollars online.

Sure, some people have done it but if you need the right kind of technology, so finding someone whose background is in technology and what the different software and things are used for to say, ‘hey, start with this and then grow and then moved to this and then grow.’ You should just never be growing into your technology. You should always be growing out of your technology into something new.

Understanding Your Analytics and Numbers

I like that and you talked about something that I feel like a lot of people, they don’t do this which is pulling their metrics, looking at analytics, and looking at numbers and I think there’s a couple of reasons people don’t do this.

One, it’s not fun and sexy. It’s more fun to play on Facebook and Instagram than it is to do that. Sometimes those numbers you get in those dashboards look really confusing and people, they try to look at it but they don’t know what it means. But that is like strategy 101, is it not, to see how people are reacting?

It totally is. Every piece of technology that you use in your business has a set of metrics that you can pull. You can pull a report. You’d have a report section in any dashboard.

Facebook advertising, for example, if you go into your ad manager, there’s a report on your Facebook ads. Now the numbers might not make sense necessarily. Almost every software has a little, a little key that’ll tell you like this means that that means this, this is attributed to that.

But understanding the power behind your metrics and that power behind how your metrics are going to drive what you know, what you focus on, where you change, what you tweak so that you can get your message further is so monumentally important.

You got to know the numbers, you have to take a look at it and this is something that your VA should do for you, like if you haven’t, if you’re just getting started and you haven’t hired an assistant yet, trust me and know this – your very first hire will be an assistant or somebody to help you with all the busy work so that you can continue doing your genius. That’s going to be your very first person and they will be the person that will help you sit down in a meeting and muddle through the numbers like, ‘okay, what’s working?’ Because those numbers will show you like what do people like, what are people reacting to? What are people following? And if they like that, I want to give them more of those things. It’s like having an open window to seeing what your customer needs.

And so many people I feel they just continue to do what is fun for them instead of what their numbers are telling them. Well, I don’t know what they’re telling me, but they are. If you look at the metrics, they are.

That is absolutely true. We know people get into business because they have this vision and they’re like, ‘I want to make an impact here.’ Make sure that you’re looking at your numbers and you’re reading your feedback and you’re giving people what they’re asking for. They’re telling you. All they’re asking you to do is give them more information on something you’ve already touched on.

Engagement keeps anything relevant. It doesn’t matter what it is. It doesn’t matter what it’s on. It could be social, it can be economical, it can be political.

The Money In Online Business

It’s all about the numbers. That’s what we’re learning here.

You see these people talking about how much money they’re making and conveniently like, let’s be real, conveniently leaving out how much money they’re spending to make that much money. Many of them do. Um, it’s not as easy as it looks.

They all leave that part out. It is not as easy as the advertisements that you see.

Building your business is about vision, like decide what you want to do. Focus is such a big part of it, like even before it gets to technology – focus on one thing. I promise you, if you stop and focus on just one thing, it will make all the difference in the world and then it’s about exposure.

We’re going to focus on one thing and we’re going to focus on organic.

Yes. Organic engagement until you hit the multiple six-figure mark.

I like this a lot because a lot of people starting out, they’re afraid to spend money.

I don’t want you spending money on media. That’s bananas, right? You’re not renting for it. You are not ready because you’re not converting on the back end.

Let’s use just one example. Let’s come up with one strategy and give us one example that we can implement that strategy using tech.

You’ve got Facebook and Instagram, right? So you have an account with both. You can use a little piece of technology. It’s an app. It’s called Later.

There’s no cost involved. The platform, the learning curve on the platform is like maybe a one. It’s super easy. It’s got a one on the learning curve. It’s so easy.

They have video tutorials, they walk you through the app to connect Instagram, you connect to Facebook and then you’re ready to go.

You can upload your Instagram stuff. You create your content and you can preschedule it. Scheduling your social media posts so that you show up online consistently is being in integrity with your media. It’s being in integrity with the message that you are that you tell people, ‘I’m here to give you a message. I’m here to create an impact for you.’ Then do it consistently.

Don’t like do a bunch of stuff and then run away from me like I was excited about the next post coming, so schedule. Schedule your Instagram posts with some great content and some awesome hashtags and then there’s this really, really fun button. It says, share to Facebook. Share your Instagram posts to Facebook and you have consistently targeted to media platforms that have different audiences.

Being Consistent on Social Media

Let’s talk about being consistent because I feel like a lot of people, they’ll try this stuff for a week, two weeks, maybe even a couple months, and they are not making six figures after posting to Facebook and Instagram, so they say, screw this. It didn’t work onto the next.

Of course, it’s not going to.

They don’t know that because they saw her ad where somebody says, ‘if you do this, it’ll work and they’ll make a bunch of money.’

Oh my goodness. I really, really wish that we could monitor the advertisements. Oh, I wish we could.

It’s about the community. Build the right community and serve it like being engaged with the people who follow you on Facebook. Like, I personally messaged people on Facebook.

It’s about being consistent, so whether or not you feel, because feelings are not facts, whether or not you feel like this isn’t making me any money, this isn’t helping. It is.

Look at the numbers. It all comes back to the numbers because if our reach has grown. If your following has grown, if your friends’ list has grown, if your page likes have grown up – your Instagram – the people liking your page has grown, people are commenting on it. You’re growing!

The thing too that I like about Facebook and Instagram is they have insights that you can see and even Later, if you use Later, also has insights and they keep numbers and I noticed personally on my Instagram that when I started posting more pictures of myself, my engagement and my following went up and when I post an object or something that was not as personal, it would go down. I get a lot more engagement with longer captions and people also like those quote cards. So I’ve started doing a lot more of that.

And when you scroll back and you look at some of those pictures where it’s just like, you know, I don’t mean I don’t think I really ever post pictures of what I eat. Like a lot of people do, but you know, if I’m at the zoo and I posted a picture of an animal, nobody cares. They’re not following me because I’m an animal expert, dear God, they’re following me for a different reason and really looking at your insights and your numbers, it tells you what to do more of. And that has helped me grow specifically on Instagram.

So that’s a good testament to what you’re saying is just look at the numbers and look at the metrics and that will help drive your strategy or even change your strategy a little bit.

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successful female entrepreneurs

Successful Female Entrepreneurs: What We Need

In this episode, Julie Ball is going to walk us through how she created and scaled a successful subscription box business just for female entrepreneurs.

Julie talks about her Shark Tank audition experience and how being a Shark Tank reject actually helped her reach more people with her business.

We also talk about progress over perfection and how it can be life changing from the very beginning.

Some resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen!

successful female entrepreneurs

Successful Female Entrepreneurs: What We Need

I want to hear about how you started and how you grew, but first let’s talk about what you do It’s called Sparkle Hustle Grow, which has an amazing name and has the cutest branding and colors. I love it.

And let me tell you how I actually found out about Sparkle Hustle Grow. I am friends with Amy Landino, who is a YouTuber. She was in episode four of the podcast talking about using YouTube to grow your business and she has a book that was in your box and she shared it and I was like, ‘Whoa, Whoa, what is this box?’

Subscription Box for Female Entrepreneurs

Yes. We actually had her in a box the summer that was themed around video marketing, so just to give you your listeners some context of what the box is… It is a monthly subscription box and online community for female entrepreneurs, so every box is going to be based around a theme that’s going to help you with your business growth.

So, we include a book every month. We include access to an online training every month and then four to six items like chic office supplies, tech gadgets, stationary pens, that type of thing.

What makes us a little bit different than some of the other just typical subscription boxes of stuff is that we are super invested in personal development and just growing our knowledge base of how we run our business and then growing that community together. And so yeah, we included Amy’s book and it was a huge hit because it’s got massive amounts of great training for video blogging and just video marketing in general.

Starting a Subscription Box for Female Entrepreneurs

Back in 2011, I launched my first business called Grow Web Marketing. It was an all-female website design and development service. So, I had just left corporate America and um, I had my, my daughter McKenna, who is now seven, and I just had this mindset shift. I wanted to do my own thing.

So fast forward six years into running that business, it was very successful. We loved working with all these women entrepreneurs, but I was just getting a little bit lonely behind the screen and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was going on. I just know that I thrive in community and I didn’t feel like I had that.

I started looking for these communities online. I was finding a lot of Facebook groups and in particular, I found the Boss Mom group, which is another reason, another way, you and I got connected pretty much.

Um, so fast forward again to this moment in my career in my entrepreneurial career where I was just like, okay, ‘I’m getting bored behind the screen. I need to find something else that is going to fulfill this dichotomy, is going to create an income’. And so one, just by chance one day I was thinking about these subscription boxes because I subscribed to several subscription boxes.

I just love getting happy mail and it’s super fun because it’s this product discovery and it’s surprises. I love Stitch Fix and several others. So I, I looked around on CrateJoy. CrateJoy is this marketplace of subscription boxes. Think of like Etsy, but for subscription boxes and I’m looking for something that’s serving female entrepreneurs and I’m not really finding anything other than boxes for like self-care where there are bath bombs or sleep masks and lotions, things like that.

The Idea for Sparkle Hustle Grow

So that’s where the idea was born. I thought to myself if I put some items, some items in a box that serves the same audience that I’m already serving, this might be a good idea. I’m not sure yet, but it might be a good idea, so I literally looked back through my own finances as a woman business owner to see what I was spending my money on and I saw books, lots and lots of books, lots of online trainings probably, you know, half of which I didn’t make them all the way through because that’s what happens. And office supplies.

I’m one of those people that like to buy pretty pink bins or sparkly inspirational prints for my office. I do. I need something that’s going to inspire me. So I decided to put those three things into those three categories of items into the box, started asking colleagues about it and did a prelaunch and was able to sell.

Pre-Selling a Subscription Box for Female Entrepreneurs

I think I sold 42 in my presale, which gave me enough confidence and startup capital to really dive in and launch it as a real business.

Okay, let’s go into that. How did you prelaunch? Who did you prelaunch to? Yeah, so I pre-launched – it took me about six weeks to prelaunch where I created a one-page website, which was my landing page in exchange for giving me your email address.

You were entering to win a one-year subscription, which was a pretty big prize in hindsight. I probably didn’t need to make that large, but I wanted to, you know, go in with a bang, you know what I mean?

So I started creating my social media channels. I started talking about it genuinely in Facebook groups that had my ideal target audience because I am my target audience too. So it felt very genuine. When I would talk to people about it, I would ask my email list and my social media followers what they wanted to see in the box. They could, you know, make suggestions of books or make suggestions of items.

I would post a picture, for example, of two different items and I’d say this or that, make your vote and that type of thing… and really involving them in the decision-making process – got them emotionally invested in my business and they were primed to buy when I finally opened up that presale cart and the presale was literally just a one week sale to my followers, only to my email subscribers and it gave them first dibs.

And so that’s how I launched and that was two years ago. This month in October 2016 is when we sent our first boxes.

Driving Traffic to Presell

Now creating the landing page – once it was created, how did you drive traffic to it?

I barely used any Facebook ads. I used a few but mostly through those Facebook groups that I was part of.

I was a part of the Boss Moms group and a few others that, um, that was local and at the time that was what was driving the traffic when, because it was new. It was a new concept too. So people were really excited about it.

And it’s so funny because you know, I flashed all these pictures of beautiful office supplies or cool tech gadgets and what we found was that people joined for the stuff, but then they stick around for the community.

Building a Community of Female Entrepreneurs

So a couple months in I started putting a lot more effort into building this community around the box where we could discuss the books together as a book study. We could talk about the online trainings and they could weigh in on business decisions and that’s when it really started taking off. And that was the right around month four, I launched a referral program and really dove into building my own online community rather than relying on other communities.

And that’s when the snowball effect really came into play. And that coincidentally was the same month that I went to the first Boss Mom retreat. And I truly believed that going to in-person events and getting that face time with people. Not only your colleagues in your online friends but also your target audience are so crucial for the future success of your business.

Meeting Other Female Entrepreneurs at Events

I could not agree more and I didn’t just start going to events until I hired my first business coach, which actually came out of an event. The first event I went to was with against somebody who does something very similar to what I do. Lisa Simone Richards. I interview her in episode seven about turning PR into publicity and she said, ‘oh my business coach, her business coach is having an event in Orlando, why don’t you meet me there because she was from Canada and I’m in South Florida and I ended up hiring that person as a coach and I have gone to countless events.’

You and I first met in person at the Boss Mom retreat just this fall and I could not agree more that you definitely have to get in front of people and talk to people and you learn from them as well. I mean, you can go in thinking, ‘oh, I’m here to promote my business and you know, promote my stuff’, but you actually meet some pretty cool people that you, you want to be friends with and you actually start working together, which is awesome.

What was it about that event and other events that you think helped you build Sparkle, Hustle, Grow a little bit more?

I think a lot of it has to do with visibility. You have to show up to be seen, so when you’re out there and you’re talking to people in real life, they just get more emotionally invested in you.

I’m a really good listener in those types of environment, so I just pulled so much information from these women, like I would ask them a lot of questions and actually listen to what they were saying and then pivot my business based off of these trends that I was hearing.

Many of us run online businesses and it really removes that personal factor from it. Just getting that in-person time to actually hug someone to or to shake their hand or to support them and allow others to support you. I think that’s what it comes down to and those people that I met at that first event became subscribers, became supporters. They became guest experts where I brought them in and they were showcased for their talents and you know, I’ve purchased books off of so many of them, so I think building that in-person relationship can.

Getting in a Subscription Box as a Brand

What if you already are a successful female entrepreneur and you want to get in the box to get more visibility?

We’re always looking for new books, new trainings to feature and we have a website, SparkleHustleGrow.com. We have a form. If you go to the footer, you can submit your product or your course there and what I would suggest is for people to reach out directly to me, I’m on social media or you can follow Sparkle Hustle Grow on Facebook or Instagram and message us through the channels.

Building the relationship is the best way to do it. The people that just send us an email and say, ‘hey, I just found out about you. Can I put my x-y-z in your box?’ And it that’s, there’s nothing warm about that.

I really valued building those relationships and I believe in making collaboration’s a win-win. So if I’m going to include your book, how are you going to promote it to your audience as well? So you’ve got to make it a win/win no matter what. And that’s, that’s what I aim for with all of my collaborations.

It’s like the same thing as pitching the media, like don’t just reach out and only think about what’s in it for you, but how is it going to be a win/win.

Starting a Subscription Box Business

I’m in the service-based business, so that’s an easy thing to start. I just use my time and expertise, but when you’re in the product based business, you have like stuff and there are more expenses and in my mind, it’s a little scarier.

When I started Sparkle Hustle Grow, it was completely a side hustle and I was still using my web firm as my full-time income and I really didn’t have a budget to start Sparkle Hustle Grow.

I used my credit card to register the business and to buy my domain name and the way that you can fund a product based business, specifically a subscription box business, and you have to remember a subscription box business, for the most part, is very cyclical.

So for me, I batch ship all of my subscriber’s boxes one day of every month and then the rest of the days of the month they can. They’re either buying the current box or the next box.

So to get that upfront capital that I needed to buy my custom boxes to buy the first month products, that’s where that presale came into play. They, the people who purchased my box in that presale, we’re going to wait between 45 and 60 days to get their first product. Kind of like a Kickstarter.

Funding a Subscription Box Business

You know when you do a Kickstarter, you are preselling everything and the people know the backers. No, they’re not going to get their product until you actually launched, which might be 60 days, 90 days. So when I did that presale, they knew they were going to be waiting a little bit longer to get their product, but they were getting a better deal. They were getting a special product for being one of the founding members and through those 40 some sales I was able to generate about $1,500 in revenue before I even launched to the public.

And then I use that money to buy those products to order those custom boxes. And then while those founding members, those presale orders were waiting, I sent a handwritten card and a $5 Starbucks card saying, ‘while you’re waiting for your box, here’s coffee on me. Thank you so much for your support’. And that ended up being on social media everywhere. So that started growing my following and that was kind of like where the referrals started coming in because a lot of people don’t treat their business like that anymore on that personal level.

So that’s the way I funded my business and that’s how I coach other subscription box owners or aspiring subscription box owners to launch their business because so many of them are in the state or in the same place that you don’t have a budget to launch. I recommend a presale.

Investing in Your Subscription Box Business

I work with people who aren’t making any money and they’re so afraid to spend money because they’re not making any money. And I tell them that’s a sign you need to spend money – you need to pay for the knowledge, for the service, for the product. You need to spend money to get started sometimes.

So how hard was that for you? I know when I started with my first business coach, I put $15,000 on a credit card because I didn’t have it laying around. It’s not easy. It is scary. How did you move past that and since you are also helping other people start their own subscription boxes, how do you help them move past that fear of really getting started in investing?

I love that question because for the first six months I’d never really thought about it.

I just kept pushing forward because I knew I wanted to do it and I felt encouraged. I was scared but I was just doing it scared.

So I worked at mine. That’s what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to do it scared. It is scary. So.

But at one point when the money was getting a little bit larger as far as my investments in the boxes and the products, that type and the advertising, I realized I needed to do some money mindset work and it all started for me with Jen Cinsero’s book. You are a Bad Ass at Making Money. And anytime I got scared or anytime I felt that I was feeling down about it, I have it on audiobook and I have a copy of it and I’ll just, you know, just this morning I put a little bit of it on, um, on the audiobook while I was taking my shower just because it helps me get my mindset right.

I went through some exercises through some money kind of training. And just putting that time and effort into that mindset made a huge difference for me. I got past the fear. It still creeps up on me, don’t get me wrong. So that’s when I have to go back and redo some of that training.

But in the cycle that I run with the subscription box, I go into each month in debt because I’ve purchased those products 30, 60, sometimes even 90 days out before I even get a penny from my customers. And so it was crucial for me to, to get comfortable with that cycle, but also just to not fear to spend money to make money.

Books to Help With Your Money Mindset

I love that. And you, you talk about you’re a Bad Ass at Making Money. I really liked Rich Dad, Poor Dad.

Yes. My husband just bought that book. Actually, I need to dive into it.

That is another great book because you really have to deal with money mindset, not just when you’re starting a business, but like you just said, like all through it, because there is going to be a point in your business where you need to spend money to make money and it doesn’t always have to be that way, but especially when it comes to scaling, whether spending money is paying people on your team, buying more product, whatever it is. So, I’m glad you mentioned that in those two books.

A Shark Tank Fail… That Turned into a Win

I also want to talk about a fun experience for you and how you also grew a little bit just by taking people a little behind the scenes when you tried out for Shark Tank and how your Shark Tank fail was actually a win disguise.

For some reason, people just resonate when I tell them I’m a Shark Tank reject. They just love it.

So last year I tried out for Shark Tank at an open casting call in Charlotte, North Carolina and I waited in line about seven and a half hours in, on the concrete in downtown Charlotte in the Carolina sun for just about two and a half minutes with an associate producer.

And it was just emotionally exhausting and it was exhilarating at the same time because what I was doing was taking that opportunity to give people a behind the scenes look, you know. I took pictures of the big, long lines and I took pictures of me waiting and meeting new friends and you know, highlighting other people’s ideas on my social media. And while I made it to round two, I didn’t get past there. I didn’t actually make it on the show.

I was able to get people interested because I was a local gal running a small town business that was going for it.

I think people like to see other people step out of their comfort zone and you get to follow along. They just loved that.

And then what I did was while that was happening, I reached out to the local TV affiliate that aired Shark Tank and told them, ‘hey guys, I’m right down the road. And I just tried out for Shark Tank. I can’t tell you if I made it or not because I signed my life away on a contract, but I’m allowed to talk about that’.

You know that makes me so proud that you did that!

I honestly, I did not have a relationship with this TV station prior to this. I got on their website. I found the correct email to send it to and I wrote a fun email about my Shark Tank experience so far. And then I let them know that I was available to talk about it. They showed up. They said literally, can we come to your house today? I was so not prepared.

After I got off the phone and agreed to them coming to my home office, which was in my sunroom, it was not this fancy office. Um, I had to get my husband. I’m like, clean the house. I got a shower. They’re coming in three hours. And it was great and it’s so fun because um, the, the story aired that next day and I was able to share that then with my email list and I was able to promote that on my social media and it gave me almost this little bit of street cred that I didn’t have prior to and it just.

It gave me more visibility and it was easy.

It’s so much easier than people think and people think they need to have this big brand and they need to be making money to get media coverage. And really, you just had a cool story, like, we’ve all heard of Shark Tank, but we don’t know the process of it. And you did and you talked about it and you were a local person. You weren’t somebody who traveled hours to be there. So that’s pretty cool.

And if they ever wanted to do a followup, you would just call them. You would say, ‘hey, you already know me. You already did this story. Let’s do a follow up’. They would be much more interested.

Absolutely. And it’s so funny because still to this day, I mean it’s, it’s been a year, year and a half, and I still have people randomly reach out to me, say, ‘Hey, are you allowed to target talk about Shark Tank yet?’

I’m like, ‘yeah, I didn’t make it, but this is what happened’. And so people remember that type of thing.

Learning How to Start a Subscription Box Business

If people are on the fence about making a product or even a subscription box, let’s go there because subscription boxes are very trendy, they’re very popular and you actually help people start a subscription box business. So just give us a couple of tips, a couple of strategies on what they need to do to get started with a subscription box business.

Know Your Market

I coach others in SubscriptionBoxBootcamp.com and some of the things that I hear myself saying over and over again is  – you need to know your market. It is a very saturated market, but that doesn’t mean there’s not room for more.

What I mean by that is you just got to niche down, so I’ll give you a quick example. If you want to do a subscription box for coffee and tea, there are hundreds of those types of subscription boxes, but if you just niche down and say that your coffee and tea subscription boxes for new moms or it’s for teachers or a very specific audience, that is where you’re going to find success and where you can start your research.

The best place to start is either Google or CrateJoy. CrateJoy.com is that marketplace of subscription boxes so you can see what already exists and where there might be gaps in the marketplace. So that’s what I tell everyone to start searching there to kind of get a feel for the landscape.

Make Your Box More Unique

And then what I tell my coaching students is if you have an idea and it’s already been done, that’s okay. Just make yours unique. Go to your competitor’s listings or their websites, read their reviews, see what people love to see, what people didn’t love about that, and then make yours even better. Make it unique and solve their problems.

So those are some of the things that I tell them upfront. And then to start, one of the most important things again is to. You have to create that landing page so you can build your email list because if Facebook goes down tomorrow, you still have your email list and you still have a group of people that are emotionally invested in your product, they’re primed to buy and they’re yours.

And so building that email list is so super important before you launch your product. And then once it’s launched, you continue to nurture it. Just like with if you’re a service based provider. I would be saying the same things that you need to have an email list and you need to nurture them.

So those are some of the topics that we talk about in prelaunch in the boot camp, but we dive much farther into them.

Pros and Cons of Running a Subscription Box Business

PRO: Product Curation

What is the favorite part of running a subscription box business?

My favorite part is the product curation. So part of receiving a subscription box in most cases is product discovery. You are going to be exposed to products that you might not find locally, you might not even find online or that are brand new products. And so I think it is not only the most fun but the most time-consuming part of my job but is reaching out to those vendors, finding my guest experts.

I’m researching new books I’m reading, I usually I’m reading between three and four books at any given time, just vetting them for future boxes and what’s the most fun is when that vendor or that author wants to get involved and activate the feature on their end as well. And so that’s where my marketing brain just gets super excited about like where we can take this and what kind of giveaway we can do and what kind of value we can bring to our collective audience. I love that.

CON: Money Mindset

Now tell me what the worst part is.

I think the worst part is that money mindset. As I mentioned before, at this level I have around 1,300 subscribers at this point. To get that quantity of product in when I need it, I have to buy my product usually around 60 days out. Sometimes even 90, depending on where it’s coming from… and going into each month that much in the whole is very scary and again I had to do that money mindset work, but what’s fun with the way my business is run is everybody gets their boxes shipped on the same day, but everybody also renews their, their subscriptions on the same day, so on the 30th of each month renewals run. So then I know in my mind that on the 30th there’s good around the 31st or the first of the month there’s going to be money in the bank again.

And so I think that’s the worst part, but it’s just a matter of understanding and getting comfortable with it. That’s very cool. And then the box is to go month to month. It’s $39.95. And then as you buy more months at a time, you save a little bit. If you buy an annual subscription, you get an entire month for free and it is noncommittal. So if you want to skip a month you can cancel at any time.

Best Business Expense

So what I really, really think is neat and unique about Sparkle Hustle Grow is that it is truly a business expense so you can write it off. You’ve got to talk to your accountant about the right way to do that, but it’s office supplies, it’s online training, it’s books… and so we like to call it the best business expense ever.

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subscription box business

Starting a Subscription Box Business

In this episode, Jessica Principe is going to walk us through how she created a successful subscription box business – from an idea, to execution, and now scaling.

Jessica will teach you her very unique and proven system to get the business off the ground before one subscription box was even mailed out.

She talks about building a firm foundation, focusing more on keeping subscribers than anything else, and the biggest mistake she made at the beginning so you don’t make it either.

Some resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen!

Subscription Box Ideas

Starting a Subscription Box Business

I am so intrigued by your business because one, it is a subscription box which is super fun and two, the brand is just super cool. You have All Girl Shave Club, so tell everybody what that is.

All Girl Shave Club is like you said, a subscription service and an online boutique where we feature really fun, unique female-focused shaving, grooming, and body products and it’s really just designed to make self-care and grooming convenient, beautiful, and fun.

Building a Business Foundation While Working Full Time

So the idea came to me kind of organically. I was working full time in a business that my mom had founded while I was in college. And so I had always had a passion for small business for entrepreneurship. All of those things like just really appealed to me. And so when I had the opportunity to come work for her, it was a great, great experience because I was able to kind of help her build the business and, and build her dream, you know, watch that kind of come to fruition.

I loved being in the environment of small business and the fast pace of entrepreneurship. I didn’t have the passion for the company itself. And what was her business, it was a vocation that trained nursing assistants and she’s a nurse and so she had all of that clinical scale, but she didn’t have the business background and that’s what I got my degree in it. So it kind of was a good natural, a natural pair there, you know.

So we built that business and it was great. But I just started feeling like I wanted something of my own, like, you know, I wanted to have a business of my own, but I just didn’t know what that was going to be and it sounds so funny, but I, you know, I knew I wanted to have a business. I didn’t know what it was, but I started saving money anyway. I knew that I wanted to be prepared for when the right opportunity came around.

For about three years, my husband and I kind of just, we’re saving money and I was exploring different opportunities and still working full time for her. And then the idea for the business just came to me.

Getting a Business Idea

So organically out of the blue, I was getting ready to shave my legs. Something that I totally did not enjoy, you know, just the process.

And I thought to myself, you know, you’re a natural problem solver here, Jessica, how can you make shaving a little bit more fun? I’m thinking to myself about all of the different ways that I could kind of make it better for myself and then it was kind of like, a vision of all of these things coming in my head at once, like, ‘oh my gosh, maybe you could do this and maybe you could do that and is this something you could build a business around our other women suffering from this same problem and you know, how could you make it better for everybody?’ And so that’s kind of where it started. And I shared the idea with my husband and he was on board and we kind of went from there.

Okay. I have a couple of questions about that.

How long ago was this?

So the idea came to me in about May of 2016.

No, my business is still very new. We are only in our second year right now.

Starting a Subscription Box Business

And now you are a product based business. You are a subscription box and I’m a service based business and product based businesses scare me because you have to have more of an investment up front and you just have, I feel like you have a lot more to deal with than you would have with a service-based business.

So tell me like your fears and your thoughts around getting started with a product based business.

So that was definitely a fear of mine too because you know, working for my mom’s company – that was a service-based business. It was education so we didn’t have a whole lot of overhead and I didn’t have any experience in product based business in e-commerce, in subscription commerce. This was completely new for me. Zero, zero, zero experience. I can’t stress that enough.

What I learned is, you know, we can go, I can, I can research for days and all of the information that you need about anything – you can literally do anything because all of the information is available to us with WiFi. So if you don’t have Wifi, go to the library, your library has WiFi, but you can literally have access to any of the information that you need to start any type of business.

Pre-Launching a Subscription Box Business Idea

But of course, there was a lot of fear around it because it was so new for me. I just kind of tread very carefully and I was, I was cautious in the decisions that I made and I ran a pre-launch before I launched the business to really test the product market fit before I invested a ton of money into it.

How did you do the prelaunch? How did that work?

It was about six months or so of research, just kind of developing my idea, developing the concept, how I wanted the business to look and take shape, and all of that. And then that’s when I started pre-launch.

What I put together was just a basic landing page. It kind of talked about what All Girl Shave Club was – the products, the service, the subscription, all of the different things that they could experience or expect to experience with All Girl Shave Club.

And it left the opportunity for them to leave their email address if they were interested. So I didn’t sell anything. I didn’t ask them to follow me on social media. It was literally just to collect email addresses. And then once I had email addresses I was able to nurture those people and find out, you know, what are they looking for, what do they like, these different products that I have in mind or were they thinking something different?

It just gave me a kind of like a, a gold mine of information of customers, potential customers so that I could really shape my business to be exactly what they’re looking for and hopefully even exceed their expectations. And also it helped to kind of like create a sense of, um, of a relationship like that know, like, and trust factor. They were kind of invested in my business because they were with me from the beginning, you know. So when we did launch, you know, I had that, that audience that I was ready to launch to.

Getting to Know Your Audience Before you Launch a Subscription-Based Business

I have two questions about that. How were you driving traffic to the landing page since you were starting from zero and how long did you nurture those people?

So a lot of people think that they can’t launch a product based business without having prior experience being a blogger or something like that. Like already having an audience. I again was not an influencer. I was not a blogger, I didn’t have any built-in audience. So I shared my landing page.

First of all, I used a platform called Kickoff Labs, and they had a share feature built in. So basically I was able to set up a reward system so it incentivized people to share the landing page and they would earn rewards for every share.

And for everybody that signed up off of their unique link, they would earn reward points and those points can be redeemed for coupons, for an extra product, for their chance to win a free three months subscription. There were a whole bunch of different levels. And so that helped to incentivize and, and then I just started sharing it like organically within my network, so within my Facebook page, my Instagram page, and then I was also part of a mom’s group. A bunch of women who all had babies around the same time on Facebook and you know, they were kind of invested in the business with me because they were there from the beginning.

I would share, you know, this is what I’m thinking of doing. When I launched my pre-launch, all of these women, there’s like 500 women in the group, they all started sharing the page too because they were excited for me and they were kind of wanting to support me. And so that kind of gave us some traction.

Testing the Product Market

When other people would share, of course, that kind of started to build the momentum of building that email list. So it was really very organic and social media really helped.

And how long were you doing this before you actually went to launch? You have the nurture part, I guess you had the testing of your market. You have the nurture part. How long did that take until you’re like, ‘okay, I’m in business. This is it’.

Yeah, that was actually one of the turning points for me was, um, when I was building that email list when I was testing that product market fit and making sure that I had a viable idea that people would actually buy into.

Um, I felt like I knew from my research that about 10 percent of our email list would convert to paying customers. And so it was my goal to get to at least a thousand email subscribers before I launched the business.

This was about October when I first started the pre-launch. I realized very shortly in about a month and that the list was growing and that people were joining that weren’t my friends and my family emails. I didn’t recognize and then they were growing faster and faster and so I really felt like once I hit that 1000 email list mark, I, I knew I had legs and that I think I thought that business definitely could, could survive a launch.

Officially Launching a Subscription Box Business

And so we launched December 28th, 2016. So it was about three months.

And then tell me what the launch looked like. Did you send everybody an email and say, ‘hey, we’re in business.’ How does that look?

Pretty much but in a little bit different fashion. Yeah, we got them really excited about the launch week. We did a countdown and so people were following us on social media and we were driving traffic at that point then to our social media accounts and we were doing a countdown. So every day for the three days leading up, know it was three, two, one. And then we granted our email subscribers early access to the launch so they were able to purchase when we launched on the 28th and then we opened it up to the public on January 1st, so they kind of got exclusive access and yeah, we just did it all by email and it was really successful.

My goal was to launch with 100 subscribers. I just wanted at least 100 and we definitely blew that out of the park. We gained way more than 100 within the first month. So it was really awesome.

What is All Girl Shave Club?

So tell me price points, how much is a subscription or a membership, for how long, and what do people get?

So we have a couple of different options, but by far our most popular option is our discovery products package. And basically, that can come with or without razorblade replenishments.

So if you know someone already has a razor that they really like or they don’t shave very often they would receive, they can elect to receive the package without razors. But basically, along with the razors, it comes with a jar of our shave butter, which is our secret and our secret superstar product.

It is amazing. It hydrates and nourishes your skin while you’re shaving, so your legs don’t feel like sticky or dry after you’re done. I really love it. And it comes in a variety of scents. So, they’ll receive a jar of that every cycle.

Our cycles are every two months. And then, in addition, they receive two to three other unique female-focused shaving, grooming, or body products. So they, they change every cycle. So it’s kind of like a surprise every cycle. But all things related to self-care and grooming.

So you launched at the end of 2016, kind of the beginning of 2017, and you were nurturing people. So how are you continuing to not just keep people who are subscribing but also get new people in?

Growing a Subscription Box Business

So once we launched, we were, we were done collecting email addresses on our landing page. We converted to our actual website and we were driving traffic to our website.

Retention obviously is a really big thing to focus on when you’re running a subscription-based business. So that was really important to me for me as a new business owner, as a new subscription owner, and as a new e-commerce owner, it was really important for me to build a firm foundation of my business before I focused really heavy on marketing.

I wanted to make sure that I was really meeting the expectations, exceeding the expectations, and delighting my customers. Um, and so that was really important. I spend a lot of time just providing exceptional customer service and really just connecting with my customers and making sure that, you know, they were, they were happy with the products and that they were having a good experience and also building up my business legs, understanding the rhythm of cash flow and the rhythm of the subscription cycles.

That’s where I really focused in the beginning, I would say the first three months, and mind you, I was also working full time so I was trying to really just kind of balance everything. Um, and then after I felt more confident in, in that and that I was meeting the needs of my customers and that, um, you know, I, I felt like I had a, a good grasp on the rhythm of the business.

Marketing a Subscription Box Business

That’s when I started to kind of introduce more marketing in the form of a referral program and working with influencers. That’s kind of what we did first.

Okay. I want to talk about that, but first I want to note something that I’m hearing and I think it’s important because I feel like a lot of people, they get so excited and they just want to do everything and they have that shiny object syndrome. But it sounds like you were super strategic and you did things slowly and you were like, ‘okay, I want to make sure this is done perfectly before I move on to the next’. Because a lot of people just go straight to marketing because that’s the last step. So tell me where that comes from.

I actually think in the beginning it kind of came out of fear to be honest. I was just a little bit afraid. I didn’t want to take on more than I could handle, but I think that it served me really well because I think I’m just more of a practical person in general. Um, and my husband also, he, he is even more practical than I am. So he really encouraged me to do that.

It’s important to make sure that we do have a firm foundation in our business is before we go crazy because we want to make sure that we can keep up with the not only the demand but also keep up with the excellent service and the experience with our customers.

And did you ever feel the need to like, ‘oh I just want to do this’ or were you ever like in a rush? I feel like a lot of people they want to rush and they want to hit a certain amount by a certain time because it makes them feel special and they can post it on Instagram. And really it’s like that’s the only thing they care about. So tell me how you really maintained a strategic and more focused outlook. So you could, I guess go slow to grow.

That’s actually important because it helped me to prepare for this goal. If I can have all of these systems in place and I can have everything, you know, really ready to go when I’m ready to scale every, the scale will be much easier for me.

I was working full time at the time so I worked full time for my mom’s company for the first eight months of my business and so juggling that and also my business and my family, it was just important to me to have everything super organized and to be able to have those processes and systems in place so that when we were ready to scale, which we started doing, you know, about nine months in, it was much easier for us to handle and much easier for us to grow.

Okay. I love that. I think that’s super important for people to know because so many times people want to go do the fun stuff.

Yeah. And it can be, you know, when you see other people especially doing this sort of similar things that you’re doing in there, you know, killing it and you’re like, ‘oh my gosh, like I should be doing that too’. And it can really like kind of take over your mind. But I think a firm foundation will always serve you well.

Products vs. Subscription Box

Why did you not just go to products? Why did you choose a subscription box?

I’m a subscription box junkie. I’ll be honest, like I subscribed to so many different boxes and so I loved the novelty of getting something in the mail that I, that I didn’t really know what it was.

It’s kind of like a gift for myself and I love the experience of unboxing it and experiencing the new products and things like that. So that was important to me to incorporate into my subscription business.

That’s really where the idea came from. You know, now we have, you know, people can just buy razors or just to shave butter, but I really wanted to pair the novelty of those really fun unique products and the discovery of new brands and products with the replenishment. So that’s kind of how I built the business.

I like it and it’s easy because you don’t have to leave your house. It just comes to you.

It is and isn’t it fun to get mail that is exciting and fun to open and it’s so unique as I feel like there’s a lot of beauty subscription boxes.

The Riches are in the Niches

I thought, in the beginning, I could cast a wide net and I could just reach anybody who shaves, but it’s really not like that. I’m finding that you have to really niche down and focus on the women who really have been shaving a long time who are tired of it, who wants to really incorporate self-care in their daily grooming routine. So I think the more niche we go, the better the better we are and the more success we could have.

Okay. I first found out about you when Dana Malstaff and I were Voxing and she must have been shaving and Voxing at the same time because she brought it up and she was saying, um, that she loves shaving now and it’s like such a fun experience and I’m like, ‘what are you talking about?’

And then I started getting angry because I was, I was telling her my story of how I’ve had laser hair removal on my legs like a million times, but I still have to shave every once in a while because it doesn’t get at all. And she goes, ‘oh my gosh, you need to have Jessica’s All Girl Shave Club subscription box sent to your house because she actually makes it like a fun, enjoyable process.

That is so funny. She’s so funny because, you know, she has actually Voxed me one time and she had this, this, this concept that was just so funny, but it was so relatable and so true. She was like, you know, ‘I have to shave every single day because it sets the tone for my day’. She’s like, ‘if I shaved my legs, you know, I feel really good and I feel really confident and I feel like I want to go to the gym and work out and if I go to the gym and I work out, then I feel like I want to eat good foods and make good choices for my body’. And she’s like, ‘and it just keeps going on and on’.

I just, I love that because, you know, I agree that as, as women, you know, we really, we really do juggle a lot of things and it’s important for us to take a few minutes a day to just kind of nurture ourselves and enjoy a few moments of like intentional self-care, whatever that means for us. So this is a great way to be able to do that.

Making Subscription Box Business Mistakes

Now, did you make any mistakes along the way?

I think the biggest mistake that I made is just kind of in the beginning, just kind of like letting fear take over and that’s, that can really hinder me. It really did hinder me for a long time.

I think I could have launched sooner. I think I probably could have been a little bit more aggressive, but I was, I was afraid and I had to learn to deal with imposter syndrome. I had to learn to deal, deal with the fact that fear is our body’s natural response to the unknown and you know, that was hard.

I was coming from a position where I was super confident in my work. I knew exactly what to do. I knew how to do it. I was leading teams. I was, you know, very confident in what I was doing.

And so switching gears and doing something completely on my own, I was responsible ultimately at the end of the day for the success or failure of the business. That felt very heavy for me. And so being able to push through it was, was very challenging for me in the beginning.

So what were you afraid of?

I was afraid of a lot of things, of failing, of being embarrassed that maybe I try something new and I don’t, I don’t do a good job or you know, wasting money that we’ve saved or you know, all of those things, you know, when you, when you run a business, especially a business like mine, there’s a lot of attention that comes with that.

I didn’t want to make any, any mistakes or make myself look bad in any way, but I realized, you know, I had to get over that.

I had to accept the fact that I’m human and that I will make mistakes and people will either understand or they won’t. And that’s not up for me to worry about.

People are afraid of failing and afraid of people seeing them fail. And then they’re also afraid of wasting money. And I do think that’s why a lot of solopreneurs or new entrepreneurs, they wait so long or they try to just soak up everything they can online for free and they’re not strategic and I think they all need to get over it. And you did.

So tell me how you got over it because it’s a lot easier to say than do.

Stop Being Afraid to Start Your Business

So I got my idea in May. It was about July, so a few months into my, my intense research, I was thinking, oh girl, you can’t do this, like who are you to do this? You know, you don’t have the experience, you don’t have the expertise.

There are very, very big competitors in the space that have lots more resources and reach than you do. Like what are you thinking? And that was this like real playing on my head over and over and over again. And it was really paralyzing me.

And so it was about that time that my husband found this event called Business Boutique and it’s run by Kristi Wright. I went down to her event in Nashville. He sent me there.

He was like, ‘you know what, you’ve got to stop this. You’re, you’re, you’re driving me nuts and we need to find a way to get you through this’. So he sent me down to Nashville and I attended her that. And it was like she was speaking directly to me.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Everything she was saying, she was talking about imposter syndrome. I didn’t even know that was a thing. Like I didn’t know that was an actual thing, but I just felt like I was kind of alone on my own island here dealing with it. But she talked about imposter syndrome and how, you know, we, we all, we all go through this.

And fear is, like I said, our body’s natural reaction to the unknown and that, you know, even if you have to do it afraid you have to do it, you know, you just have to push through. And so that event really was a turning point for me.

I left there, really inspired, really on fire and I felt like I had given been given, you know, confidence and, and permission to just push through even if I had to do it afraid. And I did a lot of the times.

I did do things afraid, but I did it anyway.

I am in a mastermind with Dr. Shannon Irvine who also spoke at the Boss Mom Retreat where we met in person. Yes. I spoke on day one and she spoke on day three.

She is a Ph.D. She helps entrepreneurs with their mindset and she is constantly saying that when you are afraid to do something or when you just feel held back for one reason or another, that is a sign that you are supposed to do it. So if you’re afraid, then you have to switch your mindset and be like, ‘okay, I’m afraid I don’t want to ask this person this. I don’t want to post this. I don’t want to start this’. Whatever it is. If you feel that fear, you need to do a180 and say this means I’m supposed to do it, I’m going to do it.

Take Personal Emotions Out of Your Business

I also learned from my first business coach, you just have to take your feelings out of it. When you are growing your business, you have your list of things to do. Those are things you have to do.

You don’t feel them. They’re not emotional. It’s business. So when you are afraid of something like sending people to your landing page at the beginning you have to say, ‘this is just a thing on my to-do list that I have to just cross off so I just have to do it’. And you really don’t even take time to think about it, to feel emotion. If you are feeling that fear.

If we’re working for another company or not, that’s not our own. We’re not afraid to do those things because you know, we don’t have the feeling involved. It’s just our job and we have to do it, you know, when we’re working for ourselves, it kind of puts a different spin on it. So I love taking that approach and just not feeling.

Behind the Scenes of a Subscription Box Business

Let’s go like logistical here. Where do you keep it all? Like how does it actually operate behind the scenes? Because again, I’m service based, like I am a person, I have people on my team, I don’t have a bunch of staff. So how does it all work?

I am very fortunate that we have a very, very large unfinished basement in our home and so we converted that basement into our warehouse. We have industrial shelving and equipment and everything down there that we need.

I am outgrowing this space now so we’re going to be transitioning to a warehouse soon, but for me, it was really important for me to keep control of that. Like I didn’t want to outsource it to a fulfillment center, which a lot of companies do and that’s totally fine. It’s a personal preference, but for me, I really wanted to have kind of the control of that. I wanted to be able to oversee it. I wanted to make sure that the quality was always there. Um, I wanted to make sure that I could manage my inventory properly. And so for us, we, we keep it all here and I also love that I have access to, you know, my office and my work while I’m at home so I can kind of bounce between two places

I did a podcast episode on how to make money from home because everything that I do is from home and there are many people who they could have an office, they choose to have an office because they liked the look of it. But honey, we are saving money by lowering our expenses by doing this all from home.

It’s so true. And, you know, one of the reasons why I wanted to run my own business is because I wanted to have the flexibility to be here when my kids got off the bus and to send them onto the bus, like I wanted that flexibility. So I’ll be sad to be honest, the day that we have to move out because I really love having it here.

Why do you have to move out? Because you’re growing like crazy and you can’t have enough subscription boxes in the basement anymore?

Well, you know, something like that. Yeah.

That’s amazing.

Margins in a Subscription Box Business

Let’s leave people with some tips and maybe an action item on what they could do to start building a successful product based business as you have.

Knowing your margins is something that’s really important. So making sure that you’re really comfortable running the numbers and that you’re able to protect your margins.

You want to have at least a 35 to 40 percent margin on your product. So that’s one thing.

If you’re thinking of starting a subscription box business or a product based business, I have a checklist on my website that will kind of take you from dream to launch that you are able to download for free on JessicaPrincipe.com.

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holiday marketing ideas

Holiday Marketing Ideas

It’s that time of the year, so in this episode, I’m going to walk you through how to get publicity during the holidays.

Earning media exposure is all about timing. I’m going to teach you how to use the holidays to position your product or service as something newsworthy for members of the media to cover between now and the end of the year.

Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen or read what’s below!

Holiday Marketing Ideas

Today I am taking over the mic on my own podcast. I decided I’m going to do this every month instead of every quarter just because I’ve gotten some great feedback on my solo episodes and you guys tell me you want more, so I am going to give you more.

Today I am talking about a very timely topic – holiday marketing ideas. So whatever your business, whatever your brand, whether you are a product based business or a service based business, I am going to give you some great holiday marketing ideas to reach more people before the end of the year.

All right, let’s get into it – holiday marketing ideas.

So, the first tidbit that I want to share with you is making this timely because it’s the holidays. So that’s the angle we’re going to go with, right?

You have to be newsworthy. I say this to all of my clients year round and right now the newsworthiness is going to be the holiday angle. Most of that is going to be in the form of gift guides.

How to Get in Gift Guides

This time of year, I tell all of my clients that if they have a product, this is their Super Bowl because everybody is putting together gift guides. There are gift guides for travelers, gift guides for entrepreneurs, and gift guides for kid’s gifts under $100. Any kind of gift guide you can think of. One of them exists and you have great opportunities to get in them, especially this time of year.

I just did a roundup on WPTV, which is the NBC station in the West Palm Beach market, and I’m usually there every month, every other month. It’s just hosting a quick fun segment and the last segment that I did was sharing four or five different products for everybody in the family. So I did one for the cook. I did one for the expecting parent. I did one for the drinker, things like that. It worked out well.

You definitely want to start now. In fact, you should have started a couple of months ago, but you can still get in those gift guides now. Honestly, you can still get in those gift guides almost up until Christmas Eve because there are gift guides for the last minute shopper.

I’m actually hosting another segment on the NBC station in the Miami market, the one that I used to work at for about four years and we’re shooting that on December 10th, but it’s not going to air until December 21st because again, the angle is the gift guide for the last minute shopper. So, we’re going to include all gifts that you could order on the 21st and get them in time for Christmas.

Lead Times for Media Outlets

One thing to talk about is lead times for magazines, TV, and online. So obviously online content you could create the day of and it could be published the day of. (You don’t want to do that because a lot of journalists plan things in advance and they don’t want to be rushing at the last minute.) However, because of the way online media works, you could potentially put something together today and it could go live online but with TV you’re going to need a week or two of lead time. 

For example, the segment that I did in the Palm Beach market that I mentioned earlier. That was probably scheduled about two weeks before we did it. 

Another segment I’m shooting later on in December has been scheduled for a few weeks. It’s not going to shoot until the beginning to middle of December and then again it’s airing on the 21st. TV is scheduled anywhere between up until a few days to a few weeks ahead of time.

Oprah

Then there’s long lead magazine work. That stuff is three months in advance and when we’re talking gift guides, I think the most popular gift guide and the one that everybody wants to be in is Oprah’s. Her annual list of favorite things is actually collected starting in July and August. By the time September and October roll around, she is done and everything is decided on.

I can’t even imagine how many things she gets sent to her. Probably hundreds if not thousands of products, but those glossy magazines that you see when you’re at the grocery store checking out, those work at least three months in advance.

For example, for their November and December issues, they’re actually putting those together at the end of the summer, beginning of the fall. You definitely want to plan ahead for those.

But again, TV is a little shorter. Online is even shorter. So something to keep in mind, you didn’t miss out on anything this year. Don’t worry, you can still get some TV stuff or you can still get some online stuff, but for those long-lead magazines and Oprah’s favorite things, you definitely want to put something in your calendar for July or August just to remind yourself that hey, those glossy magazines are working on gift guides right about now.

Productizing Your Service

Now that we are all settled on time and when we should be preparing what we need to prepare to reach out, we need to ask ourselves–would this really make a great gift? 

I’ll give you an example. I was hosting a segment for the local TV station and one of the products that was suggested to me was a pretty cool app where you would input pictures and it would turn it into a photo album with pictures and video. Really cute idea, but it was $1.99, which is not really a gift. I mean, it’s a stretch to call that a gift when we’re talking about gift guides since we want to be able to wrap it and put under a tree. So you need to ask yourself, okay, is this really a gift?

And again, That’s where the themed gift guides really come into play. For example, if you want to reach more entrepreneurs then think about a gift guide for entrepreneurs or a gift guide for women in business, something like that.

You always want to ask yourself, okay, am I trying to promote this too much? Is this really a gift? You just have to go about it with the right angle.

So again, with that $1.99 app, a better angle than a gift guide for everybody in the family would have been gifts for app lovers or different apps that make great gifts or gifts under $5 so it can work.

You just need to be creative in a way that makes sense and think, would this product or service work as a gift and who would want it. You want to make sure you’re not earning coverage for the sake of earning coverage, but who is your gift for? Is it for entrepreneurs? Is it for moms? Is it for dads? Is it for expected parents? The more specific you can get, the better because maybe that will help you get inclusion and it’ll help you show up higher in a search. So be as specific as you can.

Finding the Right Gift Guide

Okay, so now you know when to pitch. You also know what makes your product or service a great pitch. You kind of know now what angle to go with to get that publicity.

So here’s the big question. How do you find those gift guides? There’s a couple of ways to do this.

Use Google

The first way, and probably the easiest way, is to Google search last year’s gift guides.

Let’s say your group is business owners then search ‘gift guide for business owners’. Again, the more specific you can get, the better, and you’re going to find things in that Google search.

Use Twitter

Many times when you click on an article, you will see in the byline the name of the person who put it together and how that name is linked. It’s either linked to that person’s Twitter profile or it’s linked to other work that the person did for that same outlet.

Many times you can use that name and find that person’s contact information or if it is their Twitter profile, start building a relationship with them on Twitter and just say, “Hey, I found your gift guide from last year where you did a roundup of about 15 different products or services that were a great fit for new moms. I would love to share with you my product or service if you are doing a similar gift guide this year.” Don’t just leave it at that, actually share your product or service with them.

Journalists are overworked and underpaid so they don’t want to reach out to you for more information. Instead, they want you to just give it to them.

Productize Your Service

Again, service can get tricky, so if you can productize your service, that’s going be your best bet, so include the name of your product and a short description of it. Now, don’t get crazy here – just two to three sentences about why your product is a good fit for that gift guide or for that outlet, not what you love about it or why it’s amazing – just why it’s a good fit for that audience and where they can find it. Because again, the point of this is to get a link back to your website.

Those four things are crucial:

  1. the name,
  2. the description,
  3. where you can find it,
  4. and how much it is.

Sometimes they’re going to want an image of it. Many times they’ll just go to your website and they’ll grab something that works, but if they want an image, attach an image. Otherwise, you can just link to some images or just the link to your website and say, “Hey, there are tons of images here for you to use.” That is going to be your best bet.

So Google search last year and reach out to the person who made that list.

Another idea is to find your target outlet because just about every single outlet does a gift guide.

Where are your ideal customers or clients and what are they reading? If they’re reading something like Marie Claire magazine, then go there and look for gift guides or search for somebody who writes about different products and pitch them a gift guide or say, “I don’t know if you plan on doing any gift guides, but if you are, I would love for you to consider my product.”

Another way is to pick exactly where you want to be is either look for a past gift guide there or pitch them a gift guide or pitch yourself for inclusion in a possible gift guide.

Using HARO to Land Any Media Coverage

The third is by using HARO which stands for “Help A Reporter Out”. Basically, it’s a service that a lot of journalists use where they have their story, they know what they’re going to write about, but they need help getting the information or to produce the TV segment or even to produce the podcast, whatever it is.

So you sign up for HARO to help these journalists out. When you do sign up, you will get an email every morning, afternoon, and evening and it will have about 60 different queries in it divided by topic. So if you are interested in education, you go to the education topic. If you’re interested in business, you go to the business topic. If you’re an expert in travel, you go straight to the travel section.

There’s probably about eight different topics with anywhere between four and eight different queries under each topic. I suggest looking at all topics just because your expertise could be in travel, but there could be a business question under the business section that has to do with travel. You never know where you could use your expertise to pitch a different angle that maybe you didn’t think of.

Using HARO to Land Coverage in a Gift Guide

Anyway, back to gift guides with HARO. People are constantly posting, “Hey, I’m doing a gift guide for entrepreneurs for Dads for this or for that so send me your products”. Be careful though because many people use HARO to collect free stuff and you don’t want to just be sending samples of your product to journalists or bloggers who are looking for freebies.

So if you’re going to use HARO to get gift guides, ask questions. Many times on HARO, the user needs to provide the outlet of who they are writing for. So if you see it’s a major outlet, then yeah, that sounds good.

If it says anonymous, I would kind of question why it’s anonymous. And again, if you are taking the time and spending money to send product to somebody, you have a right to ask, “what is this for? What is the publication? And when is your deadline for publishing?”

Because again, you’re not paying for this coverage, but if you’re going to be sending out different samples and different products for coverage, that is money out of your pocket. So with HARO, you want to do your homework before you spend time or money executing anything.

Pitching Gift Guides

Okay, now we know when to pitch. We know how to pitch. We know how to find the gift guides. So now we’re actually going to draft the pitch.

To start, if you used the tactic of searching for the holiday list last year, then you’re going to mention that in your pitch.

Start your pitch by saying, “Hey, I noticed you did this last year. Are you doing it again this year? If you are, here you go.” You always want to include why it makes a great gift to include but again, if you are overly promotional and you just talk about how great it is and how great you are, then it’s not going to work. You have to think of the audience and why it’s a fit for them.

Again, going back to those bloggers who are looking for freebies, if it’s something that maybe they just want to keep for themselves, ask a question or two that would make that obvious to you.

You can check that stuff online. I mean there’s plenty of websites. One that I use is called Similar Web, where you copy and paste a link to a blog, and it’ll tell you what their traffic is. For example, if their traffic is 5,000 visitors a month or less, it really won’t register anything. You just have to ask yourself if it’s worth it.

The Fortune is in the Follow Up

And then finally, the last tip that I have for you is to follow-up, and I know this is what people tell you with everything in life and everything in business, but if I had to show you what a journalist’s inbox looks like, you’ll understand why I’m telling you this. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of emails every single day.

So when you follow up, you’re pushing yourself back up in that inbox. You’re reminding that journalist that you’re there and you’re putting a little bit more pressure on them to get back to you. Whether or not it’s a yes or a no, it’s just good to know. So you want to follow up.

I use the Boomerang Chrome extension for this and I will follow up once a week for four weeks. Your pitch should be so timely that after four weeks it does not apply; it’s no longer relevant. So I’ll follow up for four weeks and then after that it’s back to the drawing board or pitching new people.

How to Find Media Hits you Didn’t Know Existed

I will mention, especially with HARO and sometimes with the other outlets, these people will not get back to you. They will not respond, but then you know, a couple of weeks later they share a link and say, “Thank you for sending me this. Thank you for inclusion.”

Most of the time people will take it and they’ll put it in their gift guide and you won’t know that if you don’t do searches. So I suggest setting alerts up through Google for your name, your product, maybe your business name, in addition to your proper name.

I can’t tell you how many times I think I’ve captured all of my clients’ media hits. And then I’ll do a Google search and I’ll filter those searches to the last 24 hours or the last week or the last three months and I find so many other things that I missed just because either the Google alert didn’t pick it up or the journalist didn’t get back to me to tell me that it aired or it was published. So you want to make sure that you’re constantly monitoring your brand online because you don’t just want to get the publicity and leave it.

Turning Publicity into Profit

That is the biggest mistake that people make. You need to do PR on your PR and that’s where you’re going to see the profit from the publicity.

I can tell you I’ve earned myself and my client’s tons of publicity, but where we actually see that ROI is when we share that publicity on our website and repeatedly on our social media.

We’re creating a press page on our website; we’re tagging the outlet; we’re tagging the journalist; we’re sharing it on social media. Again, repeatedly, not just once because people need to see something seven times before they decide they want to buy it, so you need to be constantly reminding them that you are being featured in the media. “Hey look, I made this gift guide.” “Hey, look at this article in case you missed it, here’s a link.”

Scheduling on Social Media

Plus, there are so many different schedulers that you can use on social media that you can really just set it and forget it. I use SmarterQueue for this and I love SmarterQueue because I can share the same thing multiple times without scheduling it multiple times and I can set it to expire after a certain date.

For example, if I’m in a gift guide today, I can share that link to schedule and then I can set it to expire on Christmas Day. So it’s posting multiple times over the course of a month and a half and I’m not scheduling it multiple times.

This is a lifesaver. I remember I used to schedule social media posts. I think like every couple of weeks I would sit down and say, ‘okay, I’m going to schedule my social media posts for this week or next week’ because it’s just not realistic to be on all of them all of the time, but you definitely do want to have a presence all of the time.

Wherever your ideal customer or client is, you want to have a presence there all the time because it’s a constantly moving feed and if somebody logs in at 1:00 pm, they’re going to miss everything you post in the morning depending on the algorithms. Or maybe you go on vacation for a week and you want to unplug and those people are wondering where you went.

So it just makes it super easy. I love SmarterQueue. I won’t use anything else so make sure you check out the show notes above if you want to see how you can turn your post evergreen. It’s not just for sharing the media that you’re earning, but for anything on social media and even your own content marketing.

Use the Holiday Marketing Ideas to End the Year With a Bang

To round up what we’ve talked about –  you want to start now and you want to set a reminder for next year to start at the end of July or August, so you can start getting those long lead outlets and then you want to also ask yourself, “Okay, is this really a gift?”

If it’s not an obvious gift, what angles could you use to make it look like a gift for a gift guide for a certain audience… and then do Google searches. Look at those outlets where you want to be to get in front of your ideal customer or client and check out HARO (do your homework because anybody can post a query on there) and then draft your pitch all about the audience.

It’s not about you, it’s not about your product. It’s not even about the journalist. It’s all about that audience, and don’t forget to follow up once a week until Christmas.

I hope to see many of you in gift guides this year for your products. If you don’t have an obvious product, turn your service into a product. You could do that with a coupon code. Maybe you’re a business coach with a planner. I know I have clients who have planners.

Maybe it’s some kind of strategy session. I know I’m putting together a gift guide now about non-materialistic things, so we’re not talking necessarily about products. We’re talking more about experiences. So think outside of the box for these gift guides. If you don’t have a product, you can still earn coverage as a service.

I hope you enjoyed these holiday marketing ideas and I do hope you come back next week because I am talking to somebody who has a great product for a holiday gift guide. I’m actually going to include hers in something that I am writing about holiday gift guides and she has a subscription box business.

I’m not going to tell you what it is. I’m going to wait until next week, but it is pretty cool and it’s a great interview, so I hope to see you next week and I hope that you block off some time even if it’s just one hour a week to work on these holiday marketing ideas so you can start getting in front of a new audience for your product or your service.

And don’t forget if you want some more marketing ideas year round, not just for the holidays, no matter what your business or brand as you can always get more help in my three-day media class, “Pitch. Publicity. Profit.”, and you can access that at mediamavenandmore.com/publicity

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How to Increase Blog Traffic

How to Increase Blog Traffic with Cassidy Tuttle

In this episode of Become a Media Maven®, Cassidy Tuttle is showing us how to increase blog traffic.

What started as a photography blog quickly turned into a niche website with hundreds of thousands of people finding it organically monthly.

In the 15th episode, Cassidy is going to walk us through how she realized she was getting this traffic and how her hobby turned into a thriving business when she took a strategic shift after seeing a little bit of what was possible.

Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen!

Increase Blog Traffic

How to Increase Blog Traffic with Cassidy Tuttle

Cassidy Tuttle runs the website Succulents and Sunshine where she teaches people how to grow succulents.

So, how did you start doing this, what were you doing before you started this website, and when did you start this website?

From Photography Blogger to Succulents Blogger

Before I started the website, I was actually doing food and product photography, and that’s what my background is in. I have a BFA in photography and I started a photography blog because, you know – five, six years ago, that was the thing everyone was doing.

I bought a few succulents and I started posting about what I was doing with them on my photography blog, and then when I found out you could make money online or through a blog, I put analytics on the site and realized no one was coming to my photography. They’re all coming to my succulent posts, which were basically just like, ‘hey, here’s what I’m trying this week, and apparently, you can propagate these from leaves. So, I’m trying this and this’, you know – it wasn’t anything super exciting. At least not that I thought, but no one was writing about it online at the time.

So, this was about six years ago, and then I made a really conscious switch to take all of that succulent stuff and put it on its own website, because – especially at the time, it was a really big deal to have your keyword in your URL, and that still helps for search traffic. But people were spamming it, so it’s less of a ranking factor now. But I switched it all over to Succulents and Sunshine, and I cleaned up the posts and made them a little bit more instructive and more like a tutorial, and basically just haven’t looked back.

We’ve just continued to post new content and share new things. I started doing a little more, like real research and kind of some experimenting, and just documenting it all on the blog, but then also making sure I was actually following good SEO practice and all of that online business awesomeness.

And when was this?

I believe I bought the Succulents and Sunshine domain name in 2013. It was on Valentine’s Day.

How to Find Keywords to Increase Blog Traffic

So, you did this just by basically going into your Google analytics and seeing what people were responding to, and you said, ‘hey, I think I found the needle in the haystack keyword situation, so I’m going to capitalize on this’. Is that how that worked out?

Yep, exactly. So, I knew that I wanted to get organic search traffic, so when I put analytics on the site and I saw I was already getting some without trying, I knew that I could do a lot better if I actually put some more effort into it. And the keywords we were ranking for at the time were not big. I think back then, one of the keywords we were ranking for was propagating succulents, or how to propagate succulents. And it was getting two to 300 searches a month. Now it’s gone up, because succulents have taken off, and a lot more people are searching that. But it wasn’t a huge keyword, and that was the thing that actually would still be my approach now, is picking a keyword that’s smaller, because most people aren’t going to be targeting it, and then building out from there.

I don’t do as much of this as I used to because our site is big enough that we do tend to just rank for a lot of things. But right now, we’re approaching – we want to kind of branch out, and we want to start ranking for individual types of succulents. So, the actual species names – some of them that you guys might be familiar with would be Aloe Vera, which is humongous. Then string of pearls, or things like that.

Using Keywords Everywhere for better SEO and Blog Traffic

What I’ve been doing is I’ll just go do a Google search for the word that I want to rank for, and there’s a Chrome extension called Keywords Everywhere, and it is the best thing ever. It will show you how much search traffic a keyword is getting each month. And if you’re just starting out, or if you’re approaching a new topic, I usually recommend starting with a keyword that’s getting around a thousand searches a month. It’s enough that it will generate some traffic for you, but not so much that it’s going to take forever to rank for it, or that there’s going to be a lot of bigger websites trying to compete for it. 

I know a lot of people will pay attention to – there’s a competition number out there, and the cost per click number, which those are all for advertisers. So, if you were going to pay for that keyword, if you’re going to pay for an ad to show up there, that’s roughly how much you’d expect to pay. And then the competition basically tells you how many people are competing for that keyword for ads. So, I don’t feel like it’s super, super helpful. You can look at it and be like, okay, there’s a lot of people paying for ads, so it might be something that I’d want to rank for.

But basically, I’m just looking at Keywords Everywhere and finding something in that thousand, maybe up to 10,000 range. You can do lower than a thousand, but I feel like it’s not quite enough traffic to make it worth it. But if it’s 800 or 900, go for it.

And then once I have that, Keywords Everywhere will show you some related search terms. And even using the autofill on Google – a lot of people recommend using that to see what other phrases you can use. And sometimes you may need to think of synonyms for words. For example, I kept getting questions like, ‘okay, when should I re-pot my succulent’, or ‘how do I even pot a succulent?’

Finding the Right SEO Keyword for Your Blog Post

So, I started searching for ‘how to pot a succulent’. That came up with some very different articles that I would probably want to be ranking for. It kind of got stuck on ‘how to pot’. But what I realized was the phrase that people are actually searching for was ‘how to plant succulents’, and that got a lot higher search traffic.

So, make sure you’re looking at different ways of saying things, because even though they will have a similar search result if you can get it the way that most people are searching, you’re going to do a lot better.

From there, once I have that keyword, then I go and write my post. I have that keyword, and related – and keyword also being a phrase, right? ‘How to plant succulents’, would be a whole keyword. That whole thing’s a keyword. And then I would go write the blog post, keeping that keyword in mind, but not necessarily trying to stuff it in exactly.

I really write all of my content the way I talk, and in a way that flows and makes sense. And that’s my very first goal, is having a really good article that sounds normal and makes sense. Then afterward, I’ll go back, and as I’m editing, if I notice something that’s similar to my keyword, sometimes I’ll switch it. If I said, ‘if you’re looking to plant your succulents’, I might switch it to say, ‘if you want to know how to plant your succulent’. It’s just making those little tweaks to get that keyword in there. But Google’s pretty smart these days. They can usually tell if it’s close enough.

I do also use the keyword in my title, and then also in headers. So, in every blog post, we’re actually going back and updating old posts. But you want to make sure you have sub-headers and use the keyword or some variation of it in a header.

One of the posts we get the most traffic to is ‘how to water succulents’. So that’s the name of the blog post, the title. But then I have a couple of sub headers that say how to water succulents indoors and outdoors, and the subtitle still makes sense. It doesn’t feel super obnoxious, or like I’m just using that phrase over and over. And then I have another header that will be like, ‘watering succulents indoors’, or something like that. So, a little bit of a tweak, where it’s not exactly that phrase.

Use Images in Your Posts for Better SEO

And then my secret weapon, I feel like, is images. So, before you even upload a photo to your website, you want to name it with your keyword in the file name. For that watering post, the main image that we have at the top of the post will probably be named something like, how to water succulents indoors and outdoors. So, I’m getting as many of my keywords in there as I can. And then when I upload it, I copy that same information and put it into the ALT text, which – in theory – is what would show if the image doesn’t load. But Google can read it, and they can read your file name, too.

And that, for me, I think has been one of the main reasons why I’ve been able to generate so much search traffic, is because my site is so image heavy, and I think that’s something that a lot of bloggers and businesses don’t necessarily think about.

I have 10 images in a blog post, and most of those images are using some variation of the keywords that I’m looking for to rank for.

It’s kind of like a little extra credit in your SEO to have a bunch of images that are also telling Google, ‘hey, this is what this blog post is about’. And honestly, it’s really just those couple things that I’m focused on: the title, sub-headers, and then the images. And then making sure, naturally, I have the keyword somewhere in my post.

Then the other thing that is actually big now is having it be a long post. And I definitely have seen this more, where posts that are 500 words or more are definitely ranking better than shorter posts.

A lot of people will even say a thousand words or 2000+ words is going to be the best length for your post. But you also want to make sure that you’re not just writing a super-long post just to make it super long. You want to actually provide a good reading experience as well.

Keywords Everywhere is Free

Keywords Everywhere is free.

I have not paid for a keyword tool for years, and I’m doing all right with search traffic. I love Keywords Everywhere because it is free, and it honestly provides as much information as you need to know for the most part to make a good post or article that’s SEO friendly.

And I like how you write content the way you talk. Coming from TV news, that’s how we would write our stories. It’s all the way you talk. And that’s the way you Google things, too. You Google things the way you talk.

Increase Traffic to Your Blog with Longer Posts

You also touched on how Google is liking the long posts. Before, it was post at least 300 words, and do it more frequently. But now, it’s just, post something good and we’re going to go with – maybe if it’s longer, it’s better, because there’s more information in it.

So, they’re liking the long posts, and for that reason, I’ve started taking these podcast interviews. I get them transcribed, I give them to my assistant, and she turns that transcription into a blog post with those subheaders and getting a keyword in the title.

The only thing that I really need to step up – and you’re reminding me – is getting that extra credit. Which, I like how you put that: extra credit in your SEO by getting more and more pictures there.

Now you are in a very visual space. You’re talking about succulents. But what if there is somebody who isn’t in a very visual space – what would you advise they do to get those pictures with keywords in their blog posts?

It doesn’t technically have to be a photograph. Using screenshots, you know – if you’re uploading that, that’s going to be an image. Really just any sort of relevant visual that you can add.

I know people feel like, ‘oh, I’m writing about something that’s super technical, there’s no way I can add an image’. Well, you could add an image of a happy person, or you know – just something that does relate to some extent. Or create a quote card. Right? A lot of people will do a pull-out quote. Do it as an image instead. Then it’s shareable on social media, and Google can read it as an image so you can show up an image search.

So, I think you just have to be creative. Just think of anything you can create that would be an image file – text screen shares, stock images – and having just two or three in your post would be huge.

Making Money from Blog Traffic

Our traffic fluctuates pretty substantially throughout the year. May is when our traffic peaks, and then we usually bottom out around December. In May, I think this year, we got up to where we had about 500,000 visitors in a month, and now we’re down to probably about 350,000. So, it’s a pretty big swing, but I’d say on average we’re getting 400 to 450.

And the awesome thing is – because the interest in succulents is going up and we’re also producing more content – year over year we’ve seen at least a 10-20% increase in traffic.

Right now, we’re at a pretty even split between display ads. That income is awesome because if you have traffic, you’re making money. You don’t have to do extra work on top of the traffic.

And then we do a lot of affiliate products. We have a couple places that sell succulents that we’re an affiliate for, just like Amazon and Etsy.

We also have a course and eBooks that we sell.

So, in this month, it’s almost an even split between the three of them. But then depending on the time of year, like November, December, our affiliate income will probably go up a little bit. It actually also goes up in May, because succulents are our biggest affiliate. So, that will go up then, too.

So, just any combination of those three things is how we’re making money.

At what point did you realize – I’m assuming you’re educating yourself about SEO a little bit and learning some tricks and tips and strategies – at what point were you like, ‘okay, I can actually start monetizing this, because I’m getting a lot of traffic and people are finding me’, and what did that look like?

I started monetizing within a month or two of having this site up, because I was convinced that it was going to be this huge moneymaker. So, even when I was getting just a hundred page views a day, I had Google ads on there, and I think the first time I made $100 in a month – which was their threshold for paying out – was about a year later.

But I also didn’t really know what I was doing right when I started, but I was making something. I would get $25-50 a month.

And it was actually shortly after I moved over to its own website that I found out about eBooks, and I created an eBook as one of my very first monetization strategies. I didn’t feel like it was a super good launch at the time, but when I went back and looked at the numbers the first month we published the eBook, I think we made almost a thousand dollars.

And at the time, I was reading things like, ‘oh, we’re going to have this $10,000 launch, and I’m like, Oh man’.

People say that, but they don’t tell you that they spent $9,000 on the launch, so they really profited a thousand. So, I think you’re still good.

Yeah. And especially because I didn’t know what I was doing. I think the only email list I really had was actually just the RSS feed. I’m pretty sure I just published a blog post that said, ‘hey, I’ve got this new eBook, and that was essentially my email launch. That’s all I did. I didn’t have an official email list at the time, so all things considered, looking back – it was a really good launch.

The Content Creation Business

So, would you say your monetization, I guess your roadmap, was you started with display ads, then you went to an eBook, and then you went to affiliate products, and then maybe after that, you created a course?

Yep.

And since that very first eBook, I’ve created several more since then. We have four that are kind of our core eBooks, and the course has now been out for two years. So, it’s been a while.

And I really didn’t pick up on affiliate marketing until about three and a half years ago maybe. I took a course on blogging and she started talking about affiliate marketing – and at the time, I had Amazon ads, but that was it.

And I’m like, ‘oh, I should really be looking into this. I need to find somewhere that sells succulents because that’s really what people want to buy’. So, I started with Etsy, and then eventually – because people will sell succulents on Etsy – and then I eventually reached out to some different online succulent stores, and now we have partnerships with a few different online stores.

So, on the surface, it looks like you’re in the succulent business, but I feel like as we dig deeper, you’re really in the content creation business, and that’s how you get your money and your customers and your visitors and all of that. So, you’ve really become not just a succulent expert, but a content creation expert.

Yeah. And honestly, it’s funny. When we talk to different neighbors and they’re like, ‘oh, so you guys sell succulents?’ ‘No, we don’t. We just teach people how to grow them.’ It’s so confusing to people. I’m like, I know. It’s just how it is. But yeah, you’re absolutely right.

It’s all about content and information and just helping people learn. And we happen to be doing it with succulents.

Succulents and Sunshine

So, have you learned to love succulents more than ever now that it wasn’t just a one-off thing? Like, here, I’m going to take pictures of my succulents for my photography blog. Now you’re really in it.

Yeah. We’re really in it. My love for succulents comes and goes. I’m not going to lie. I published a book three years ago, and after I wrote the book, I swore off succulents. I’m like, I will never touch one again. And then a month later I was back at it. So, it comes and it goes, but it always comes back.

But it is really fun and it’s something that I enjoy. It’s something I can do with my kids, which has also been fun.

If you ask my four-year-old what he does, he’ll tell you he works at Succulents and Sunshine. He waters the plants. And I bought a succulent for my birthday one year and he was with me when I bought it. And he’s like, well I want a birthday succulent. So, he got one too. And now he can spot it if we’re driving around or walking around and he sees one. He’ll be like, that’s my birthday succulent. So, that’s awesome.

Oh my gosh. I was just at the store last weekend, and I saw – now I cannot see a succulent and not think of Cassidy. Every time I see a succulent, I just think about you. And I’m like, ‘Oh, if I ever needed to know how to keep that thing alive, I would know where to turn.’ It’s so funny.

So, on the fourth episode of this podcast, I had Amy Landino on, who is an amazing YouTuber who teaches people how to make money on YouTube and how to grow their YouTube channels. Since you are in the content creation business, YouTube is something that you are dominating, especially lately. You just hit 10,000 subscribers. So, tell me a little bit about your strategy on adding YouTube as a source of getting more people to your website.

From Blogging to Vlogging

I’m really glad you asked that because that is actually something that is also helping our site SEO as well. Basically, our strategy was just to take all of our top-performing blog posts and turn them into videos. So, if you watch the videos on our YouTube channel and then you go and read the blog post, you’ll be like, oh, this is almost identical.

Not all of them are, but we followed a really similar approach to the YouTube videos. And once the videos go live, we’re emailing them out to our list, which helps generate traffic. And we were also embedding them in the related blog posts, and that’s helping YouTube realize that, oh, these videos are worth showing people, because they’re getting views elsewhere.

It’s helping to increase our time on page on the website, which also helps with search rankings. It’s one of those little factors. And then – it’s all kind of a happy way of helping each other.

So, I think that’s been the way that our YouTube channel has really grown, is from having the videos embedded on these really high-traffic blog posts. It’s giving YouTube good signals, and then YouTube will start showing us more in related content.

And something that I love about you – and you’re probably tired of hearing it because I tell you every time we talk – is that you are so good at being super strategic and doing one thing at a time until it’s successful, and then moving to the next. There are so many people who want to start a blog, and then they want to start a YouTube channel. But you did your blog, it was super successful, and now you’re doing YouTube. But you’re using your blog to tell you what to make videos of, and that’s why you are also successful on YouTube.

You’re just so strategic about everything and you take your time, and you’re very thorough about every single step that you take, and I think that’s why you have been so successful in this crazy niche that you’re in.

Giving You Audience What They Want

Now we’re also kind of in this spot where we have a massive audience, and they’re essentially telling us what they want to see, which is a huge, huge deal. That’s something that is hard when you’re starting out: you don’t necessarily have the audience to say, ‘Hey, I was wondering how to drill a hole in the pot that I’m going to use for my succulents.’ You know, you’re not getting those questions. So, that’s something that we’ve really taken advantage of – looking at the traffic, seeing what is working on the website, and also just asking for input from our audience.

And we actually started a series last fall. It started because I hadn’t planned ahead. We had this Facebook group, and I’m like, oh, I don’t have anything to share in my weekly email. So, I’ll just ask people in the Facebook group what questions they want to be answered. And I answered 10 questions in one email. It was so long. It was a crazy email. But people loved it! So, we took that and we started this FAQ series, where we started out with five, and then we trickled down to two – and we’ve shifted gears since then a little bit, but we would answer a question every week, and we turned it into a blog post.

And I would not say that that has been a complete game changer for the website, but those faqs are now finally starting to rank in Google, and we’re getting an extra two to 3000 page views a week from those FAQ, whereas we wouldn’t have had them before. So, it’s been awesome to be able to have the audience to pull from, and to just take what they’re giving us and run with it.

Show Me The Good

I want to switch gears and talk about your new passion project – which is like, a side thing, something that you’re doing for fun. But you’re a genius in this. I’m sure you’ll find a way to monetize it later down the road. Can you tell us all a little bit about that and what is coming?

Show Me the Good – is that what you’re thinking of?

Yes.

So, I just had this overwhelming feeling or impression that I wanted to share people’s little stories about doing good things because I hate watching the news. I don’t watch the news, I don’t listen to the news, I don’t read it. I’m probably one of the most sheltered people because I just don’t want to see what’s out there.

So, I wanted to focus on little things that people are doing, just to inspire people to do a small deed. The first story that’s on there is – a couple friends and I were going to meet up at the park to hang out, kind of have a break, let our kids play together and be outside. I woke up that morning and I was just feeling sick, and I’m like, ‘Dang it, I can’t go to the park.’ So, I texted my friends, ‘hey guys, sorry I can’t come, I’m feeling sick’. And one of my friends said, ‘well, why don’t I bring you dinner?’ And at first, I was like, ‘no, she doesn’t need to bring me dinner. She just had a baby six weeks ago. I’m like, Kevin can make dinner. We don’t need her to bring it.’ But I ended up just saying, ‘okay, yeah, that’d be great.’

And so, this friend who just had a baby six weeks ago brought me dinner. Didn’t change my life, but it was so nice, and now we’re addicted to a new brand of tortilla chips, you know? It was just something that – I don’t think it was actually a big deal to her, but it was a huge deal for me.

And I just want people to feel like whatever little thing they can do, whatever way they can serve the world, is worthwhile because I think that’s something that’s missing. We see all these huge humanitarian projects or things like that, but really, just calling a neighbor and asking how they’re doing, or just something little, can have a huge impact on someone’s life. And that’s what I want to focus on, is just sharing little stories of people doing good things, and just having a good news outlet.

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How to Increase Post Reach on your Facebook Page Organically

How to Increase Post Reach on your Facebook Page

How to Increase Post Reach on your Facebook Page

In this episode of Become a Media Maven®, Amanda Bond is showing you how to increase post reach on your Facebook page organically. Yes, without ads!

She said when people switch over from there personal profile to the business page, they posting is different. People notice that… and they don’t like it.

In the 14th episode, Amanda is going to teach us how to study algorithms, stop looking at vanity metrics, when you should schedule posts… and how you should schedule them.

Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen or read what’s below!

How to Increase Post Reach on your Facebook Page

I am so happy to have Amanda here because one, Facebook is everything.

While you are an ads expert, you are also going to help people reach even more people, more of their audience organically, which is amazing.

Organic Facebook reach is dead… or are you just doing it wrong?

It’s like it’s one of those things where when I hear people say Facebook is dead, I want to grab them by the shoulders and shake them and be like, “it’s not dead, you’re just doing it wrong.”

Okay, so let’s get right into that. Here’s the backstory of why people think Facebook is dead and it’s ‘pay to play’ and all of those other fear-mongering tactics that people talk about.

These big outlets study millions of pages and then they tell us Facebook reach is dead. Well, what’s happening is they’re studying average, right? They’re looking at the pages that might not be posting or they might not care about their audience or they might be dead. They’re not looking at the people who are truly getting engagement and sharing with us the tips and tactics of how they’re just making these bold industry-wide statements saying it’s dead because of the pool of people that they’re looking at.

Studying Organic Facebook Reach

When I look at the pages that they’re studying, it’s a lot of people who, once they have a Facebook business page, they turn into a spammy marketer.

On our personal pages, we know how to be human beings, but as soon as we hop over to our business profile, all of a sudden we think that we need to show up in a different way and we need to be salesy because the goal here is sales transactions, it’s revenue for the business, and it’s those people that act like spammy marketers, posting all the time about “call now to book”, “come into our restaurant”, “do this” and “do that”.

‘On the flip side, we studied 1 million Facebook pages and here’s what we learned.’ Well, why are we studying 1 million average pages? We should be looking at a thousand highly engaged pages and then only do those things because that’s what’s going to get us success organically.

When you see people interact on their personal page, they show up one way and then you go over to their business page and you’re like, why is this so promotional? Why is this “click here, do this, buy this, sign up for this Webinar,”?

Posting on your Facebook page

This is what I find so fascinating when you really study how the algorithm works. Facebook values three things. They value community and they value connection and they value conversation. So if you want to rank high in the algorithm, AKA show up in people’s news feeds for free organically, you need to figure out how to build community on your Facebook page and you do that through connection with people, really caring about your audience and then encouraging them to show up to your Facebook page and engage in the conversation.

And I know that everyone who’s listening knows how to do this because a lot of you already have Facebook groups, right? Think of that back and forth conversation that goes down in Facebook groups.

We know how to have a conversation. The thing is we’re just not doing it on our pages. If you have a thousand people in your Facebook group and you post something, the max number of people who are going to see that post is a thousand, right? If you don’t have a thousand and one group member has a thousand, but if you posted that exact same content over on your Facebook page and cultivated that community and facilitated that back and forth conversation, your reach potential is infinite because as people come and engage on your content, as people like comment, share, click, they’re sending all these signals back to the Facebook algorithm.

Engagement on Facebook is like landing a media pitch

You’re already doing it in a Facebook group. Now, it’s time to bring it over and do that on your Facebook page and the way you just described that it really is a lot like media pitching.

To get coverage, they act spammy and they’re overly promotional to the point that it’s so salesy that nobody cares. If they were actually trying to help the journalists and do a story and be more relatable, it would work. It’s about building that human connection with people.

Stop it with the vanity numbers

I feel like the industry took a weird turn a few years ago when it became all about numbers. Numbers this and email lists that and grow your audience and then sell them something. It needs to get back to the foundational elements of marketing which is nurturing your potential customers, building relationships with these people.

Relationships don’t have to necessarily be one to one, but investing in your audience, investing in the humans behind the screen that you can serve with your product or service because your product or service can create a transformation in their lives.

If we think about them like numbers on a spreadsheet or like emails in our email list, we’re doing ourselves a disservice. But if we think about them as human beings trying to navigate their own life and lifestyle and business, then we can show up in a service-based way where we care about that community.

It gets easier to build community when you care and that’s when people start really paying attention to us, our brand, and our offers because we understand those that we’re trying to serve.

Are there any other Facebook pages that you really like the way are posting to get that organic reach?

I’m seeing a fun transition from Social Media Examiner. They used to post a lot of direct links to their blog and the traffic from Facebook was decreasing dramatically over the years and so I’m enjoying watching them switch things up and experiment with new formats and really paying attention to what their audience is doing. So I would check out Social Media Examiner’s Facebook page just to continue to watch that evolution because I love seeing people in the progress, not perfection. I love seeing people try new things and take risks along the way because it’s not about showing up absolutely perfect, but it’s about doing the little improvements day in and day out with Facebook.

How to schedule Facebook posts

There are myths on not just scheduling and then posting in real time, but what kind of scheduler are you using? So dish on that.

This is so controversial. It really is. In the social media game, schedulers are controversial because on one hand you have the tracking ability and you have the ease that a lot of people who manage multiple accounts are looking for. Those recyclers who just take the content and post it over and over again in a certain frequency, that’s attractive when you’re managing many different Facebook ad accounts or different social media accounts like Twitter and Pinterest and all of the things that you need to manage, so they’re attractive because we feel like we’re going to get more information from them and it’s going to make our lives easier.

However, this is something that’s never been proven. Facebook says using third-party tools doesn’t lower your reach, but I find personally when people use third party tools to schedule they’re checking out of the analysis process.

If you set it and forget it, you might be putting out bomb content and you’re getting people fired up, but if you’ve set and forgot… that’s definitely not how you say that. It doesn’t rhyme. If you set and forget your social media, then what happens is you’re going to forget to go back and interact and create that conversation and create that connection and create that community because you don’t know what’s coming down the pipeline or when. So there might not be true data that says, “Hey, if you use a third-party scheduler, you’re going to have less reach,” but this is the mindset behind it.

If you’re using a third-party scheduler, you’re usually getting less reach because you’ve checked out of that process. So I do recommend that people, especially on Facebook, I have a different opinion on Instagram, but especially on Facebook. I recommend if you are going to schedule posts, definitely use their native scheduler and don’t schedule it out months in advance.

Keep a watch on the platform. Stay engaged on the platform that you use to connect with your audience. I’m a big believer in using fewer platforms. So you might need a scheduler to be on Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook and Instagram, but you don’t need a scheduler if you doubled down on Facebook and really go strong at building a community there and just posting when you feel inspired or when it’s in alignment with your business objectives and not in a spammy way, not in a salesy way, but in an engagement driven way to build that community up.

How often to post on your Facebook page

So is there a guide that you would suggest as far as how often to post? Should you be looking to do one a day, two a day, maybe one every other day? Does that matter in the algorithm?

It doesn’t matter for the algorithm. Where it does matter is your personality. So let’s use you and I, for example, you might enjoy scheduling something in advance with consistency and predictability because maybe that’s how your business operates.

On the flip side, I might enjoy being a little bit more sporadic. I enjoy posting when inspiration comes, I don’t enjoy sitting down and saying, ‘what are the things that I’m going to post this month all in one day?’.

I know batching content is amazing for some people, but if that’s not your personality, that’s okay too, so there is no algorithmic benefit of us posting daily or posting on a sporadic schedule.

Facebook engagement is what matters the most

Where the algorithm comes into play is how much engagement each and every post can get. So engagement means Facebook likes and reactions, shares, comments, how many people are clicking, how many people are taking action on your post to then say every time they take an action, etc. That’s a signal to the algorithm that your content is relevant.

When you post something new and let’s say you’re doing it manually, Facebook is going to test the waters to see how engaging your content is and if it is engaging, this is how you win the battle. If it’s engaging, they’re going to serve it to a few more people. If they continue to engage guests, what you’re winning, they are going to keep showing people your content, but on the flip side, if you post something and there’s no engagement, no reactions, no comments, no shares, no clicks, no nothing, Facebook is going to determine that your content isn’t relevant and they’re going to stop serving it, and that’s where people think Facebook reaches a dead because they don’t look at that and say, now let’s analyze why that didn’t get engagement. Maybe let’s delete this one, which I personally do on my page.

If I get really bad engagement, I’m going to delete it. I’m going to reword it. I’m going to turn it into an image. I’m going to do a live stream instead on it. Same content, same concept, the same end goal, but I’m just going to try and see what resonates with my audience more and if they start engaging with that content format, Ding, Ding, Ding.

We now understand the format that people need to start treating your page more like a community and start to slowly put their hands up and engage in conversation with you and once you crack that nut, once you have the formula for getting engagement, that’s when your reach blows up.

So instead of scheduling stuff and then not caring about the engagement on each individual post, I say post way less with intention and then go back and analyze whether this is resonating with my audience. Even if you only have a small 50 person page, are people putting their hands up? If 10 people are reached, is one person clicking? I want for every 10 people that post heads one or two people taking action consistently and if not we need to just go back and analyze our content to see why.

Once we start running ads, this helps us to lower our ad costs dramatically. Once we understand what our audience engages with.

And I want to get into that because you spent less than a thousand dollars on ads on one of your courses and brought in over $100,000. I get so fired up about this because you spent less than a thousand dollars on ads and brought in over 100,000.

Facebook Advertising… the dos and don’ts

You think that we should be blowing things up with Facebook ads. However, I’m the first person to tell people to pump the brakes. You’re not ready for Facebook ads. And the reason that I say that is because most people, they are using Facebook ads to grow audiences before they ever have something that sells or something that can sell over and over again with consistency, without the use of broad marketing scarcity tactics like timers and deadlines and price discounts.

If you understand the value that your product or service brings to the world and you can effectively communicate that value in your messaging and get people to make a purchase, that is the thing that’s going to bring you Facebook advertising success because Facebook ads are only going to amplify what’s broken and if you can’t sell spending money on Facebook ads is going to be like giving the ATM a 20 dollar bill and the ATM just shredding it. So your ATM is actually a paper shredder.

It’s not an investment vehicle if you cannot sell because ads, as I said, just amplify what’s broken. So I always recommend people slow down when it comes to ads. They’re not a magic bullet. They’re going to lose you so much money if you do it crazy fast or too soon in your business.

What I do recommend is people understand the offer, that they understand the transformation that it helps people to achieve, and then they work on the sales process first.

So in the example that you just said, the over $100,000 in sales on less than a thousand. We sold, get this, the first $40,000 of the program in messenger. I kid you not. So I just used the people that were in my networks, I went back to traditional networking, marketing foundation.

Wait you actually talked to people?

I got into one on one conversations with people where all I wanted to do was connect with people. There was no agenda. I was not trying to sell them my program and I would not talk about the program if they didn’t give me an indicator in that conversation that it’s something that they needed. If in the conversation when I was asking them open-ended questions about them, their life, how things are going, if they volunteered information saying, ‘hey, we’re really struggling with x and I knew that my offer could help them solve y’, then I would have conversations with only those people and I ended up at the end of the day having over 200 sales conversations with people and out of those 200 people we had 20 people buy, but it wasn’t the 20 people that bought the $2,000 offer at that time.

Being social… on social media

It was the insight that came from all of those conversations. Most people don’t get that insight, so when they start with Facebook ads, when they start trying to build a Facebook page, when they start trying to get an audience and engage with them, when they start trying to pitch media outlets, they don’t understand what makes them unique or what people actually need and so they sound like spam.

If you have true conversations with your audience, belly to belly, get on zoom, have them in messenger, get on the phone for crying out loud and ask them open-ended questions. They are going to be an open book and they’re going to give you the exact copy that you’ll need to have success. So I kid you not, we had all of these sales conversations and as I was having them, I was writing down their exact words in my notes or on my clipboard.

Yes, I use a clipboard and then I plug it into Google docs and I handed them back a Google doc of verbatim their own wording as to why they needed the offer that I had and I said, would you like to buy this? And that has made all the difference, so now when somebody opts into what we offer… we actually don’t have any lead magnets in our business. We have a waitlist for the program, so there are no freebies that we offer.

I love to connect with people and add value on my Facebook page, on podcasts, but when you come to our site, we just get straight to the point. Here’s how we can help you create the transformation that you’re looking for in your business through ads and get industry rates for sales. Conversions on sales funnels are like one percent, two percent, three percent.

Selling on Facebook

If you’re lucky, on evergreen, ours convert at 10 percent when you opt in with no timers, no deadlines, after I stop emailing you about it, you can still join at any given time because we’ve taken the time to know our audience so intimately so we treat each and every ad, each and every post as here we are talking to our customers.

It’s not if you’re going to buy our product. It’s when you’re going to buy our product and we’re still showing up and adding value every step of the way because I don’t care if you buy today, if you buy 10 years from now, if you never buy, but you’re still an active part of the community. I value each and every one of those humans all the same.

Can I just say as somebody who has dabbled in online business, first of all, it’s just hard, in general, to sell something online for a few hundred dollars. The fact that you were selling a $2,000 product directly online is insane.

It took a lot of effort and I think that’s what’s missing from a lot of the expert industry is just being honest. That hard work pays off. I’m not talking to the hustle element. I’m talking about consistently taking actions towards our goals, focused actions on the right things pays off, but it does take time.

Targeting on Facebook

Like, I’ve been trying to perfect the community and engagement on my Facebook page for over four years now and we still haven’t even gotten to 10,000 page likes and I’m okay with that because our audience shows up big when reach is less than 10 percent and engagement industry-wide is less than one to three percent. When our page has 20 percent engagement, I am just so fired up because that means that people care because that means that people are getting enough value to stick around and then from a business perspective, that means that our audience is growing, which means we can retarget more people with our ads in the future as we scale.

So most people say my email list is only so big and I can just target those people as my warm audience, but the cool thing is Facebook allows us to target anyone who watched a video for at least three seconds on our Facebook business page and our Instagram business profile and anyone who engaged on your Facebook business page, so people who are reacting or commenting, sharing, clicking, those people are now in our audiences that we can put ads in front of, doesn’t it make sense to have a really great relationship with those people so that when you do offer them something, they’re more likely to take it up?

My email list was less than 2,000 people before or by the time we hit half a million dollars in sales, so it doesn’t have to be like grow this gangbuster big list. It’s go deep, nail the basics, learn to sell, and then create the systems to then sell that over and over again through connection, engagement, and the right tools like Facebook ads and organic posts and media.

We’ve hit $100,000 in sales on the program over a year and I am so okay with that slow burn because it allows you to put the foundations in place without wanting to pull your hair out and now that you have those foundations we get excited about, you know, media.

You and I were chatting about that because sure we could do it organically on our Facebook page and bring more people into our warm audiences or we could leverage other people’s platforms and get our name out there in a bigger way through PR and media and leverage. And then, we can use ads not to bring in cold traffic because let me tell you, the cost to advertise has drastically been increasing over the years.

It’s like three to five times more expensive for a lead than it was in 2016. So you could do cold traffic to ads or you could be using ads to move people through a customer journey.

Once they reach you from leveraging other people’s audiences, from media placements, from connecting with people organically on different social channels, and then once they have expressed interest in your brand, then you can just nudge them closer to your products and services because they’ve already put their hand up and said, “I like what you’re throwing down. I want to do business with you”.

Three kinds of media

What you mentioned about using all of the media, I tell people there are three kinds of media.

There’s owned which is you posting on your page. There’s earned which is earning that exposure in the media on somebody else’s media platform and then there are ads where you’re actually paying for the coverage and in a perfect world you’re going to have all three, but you do need to start slowly with one and then slowly work your way up.

Yes, don’t diversify your attention, right? Your attention-getting strategies. Don’t try and be everywhere all at once. Go deep with whatever you’re focused on in that moment. If you’re listening and you are slaying it on Instagram and the next thing that you’re looking for is earned media. Do not abandon ship and go over to Facebook just because I told you that Facebook reach isn’t dead.

Go deep, get strategic, make one platform work for you, and then go to a second one and own the crap out of your strategy there and then once those things are working, can we double down on these two? Could we accelerate these two or do we need a third one to diversify a little bit more, but again, the name of the game is patience because if you have patience in this business, you will outlast so many shiny object seekers. It’s not even funny, right? We see this.

I’ve been in this industry for long enough that you see people come, they ramp up and then they disappear off the face of the earth because they tried to do too much, too fast, without depth, so please, if you’re listening, be that person who seeks depth.

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how to make money from events

How to Make Money (5 to 6 Figures) From an Event

In this episode of Become a Media Maven®, Alexis Caldicott is sharing how you can make five or even six figures from events.

Yes, you can make this money by holding your own event, sponsoring an event, or even attending an event.

In the 13th episode, Alexis is going to take us, step-by-step, how to host our first event (a 90-minute one-day workshop) AND how to profit as an event attendee.

Here is a list of resources mentioned in this episode:

Please subscribe to this podcast and leave an honest review on iTunes. Your ratings and reviews really help and I read each one.

For more on the episode, click here to download it and listen or read what’s below!

How to make money from events

How to Make Money (5 to 6 Figures) From an Event

Alexis Caldicott owns A Team Event Company. We help mission-driven entrepreneurs use events to close five to six figures in sales in three days or less.

We love doing that because we want to help people make a bigger impact, so that’s why we work with mission-driven entrepreneurs who want to make a big impact with what they do. That’s a big part of their mission and we want them to be able to live the life that they love at the same time. So, we love helping people use events to do that because it’s such a great way to have a successful business and make an impact at the same time.

How to close five to six figures in sales in three days or less

And, you do it in three days or less. We’re going to get into the nitty-gritty, but why specifically three days or less?

Because it can happen that fast. I mean, there’s usually some ramp-up time and things you have to prepare of course, but with the three days or less, what that means is someone could be going to someone else’s event to get clients, whether it’s as an attendee or a speaker or a sponsor, and it could be going to an event that’s three days or two days or one day and leave with a client… or they could be putting on their own event. That could be a one day, a two day, or a three-day event. So within that timeframe of the event, the three days or less, depending on how long the event is, they can close clients on the spot.

How to host a successful event

How did you get into all of this?

I will give you the short version that. Like a lot of people, I went to college for something completely different. I went to school for music therapy and psychology, which I love, love, love.

It does come in handy with what I do now. Music is a big part of putting on a successful event, but when I was in college, one of my friends had a very successful consulting business and she was able to get it to six figures in less than two years. So, she wanted to start a new consulting business where she could help other people do the same. While I was in college, she said, ‘Hey, Why don’t you come work with me on this project, on this new business, while you’re in school? Then that way you can learn’ because she knew that my vision was always to be a business owner. So she said, ‘Come work with me.’ So, I basically got to be a sponge and learn about what really worked and see the inside of what went into a profitable and successful business.

What we very quickly learned is that events were one of the fastest paths to having a lot of success in business and having a consistent flow of clients and cash flow coming in through your business. So, I got to learn from the best in the business. I always give credit where credit is due. People like Callan Rush, Lisa Sasevich, David Nagel, Suzanne Evans, a lot of those people who are known for putting on six to seven figure events what works and what doesn’t work.

I got to learn, without a whole lot of trial and error, what actually works and what doesn’t work. And then from there, when I was in college, I had a lot of people asking me to do it for them, just like I was doing it for her.

At each event, we got it down to a science where twice a year they would hold a three-day event and it would close over six figures every single time like clockwork. So once word got out that I was creating that for them, of course, other people wanted help and the rest is history.

Building an event planning business

So you and I actually met at an event… and it was a big event. I want to get to that in a second. I don’t want to talk about big events. I do want to talk about small events, but first I want to talk about using events.

You mentioned you can use events as an attendee to get business and most people who are going to events, they’re going as attendees. They’re not sponsors or they’re not speakers or they’re not throwing them. They’re actually an attendee and my mindset has always been, I’m coming here to learn. I’m going to take what I learn and I’m going to apply it to my business and grow. Honestly, before I started talking to you and learning about what you did, it never even crossed my mind to use the event as a networking opportunity to grow my business, which sounds so stupid because it can be that, but I never thought of it like that.

What should I do to actually earn business, not just learning at the event, but actually getting clients at the event?

That is such a great observation, Christina, and you’re not alone. It’s a great opportunity to get clients at events like that because there’s someone who’s like-minded, so you’re going to want to work with them. We’re more likely to want to work with them because there’s someone who’s there and trying to learn as well.

When I started doing this and I had kind of phased out from having a couple of major clients and when it was my moment to spread my wings, I had to let go of a few of my main clients. It was a very scary time because it was three months away from my wedding.

I knew that I could go to events, look for my ideal clients, have amazing messaging ready to go, and I could leave with clients and everything would be okay. I just had to tell myself, okay, you’ve done this before. Just go out and do it.

So, I started going to conferences and events and that’s what helped me to get my business to a six-figure business in less than two years as well, by going to where I knew my ideal clients were and instead of trying to look for them and spray and pray, as they say on the Internet, I looked up where my ideal clients were going and what are other sources, resources, and help they needed.

How to make money at an event as an attendee

I looked up those events. I qualified them on whether they were going to be worth the time and the money. Then when I was there, some of the tips and tricks that we teach our clients is as an attendee.

You always want to be observant of your surroundings and what’s going on in the room. So, if you see someone who is constantly going up to the mic and asking lots of questions, that’s a great marker of who is a great client because it’s someone who’s hungry, who’s thirsty, who wants to learn more, that is ready to go. That’s an action taker. They’re fearless, right? Because it takes guts to go up to the mic in front of a room and ask questions.

I understand what you mean because a lot of people, they don’t want to put themselves out there. They’re afraid of what people will think. But again, if you are going to an event, you’re investing time and money so you want to get the most out of it. And if you’re not asking questions, you’re not getting the most out of it.

So, when someone goes up to the mic, that’s an indicator that you want to kind of casually bump into them somewhere and start talking, but also, you going to the mic. This is a great tactic, but I also have to throw in a disclaimer with it. Going to the mic and asking questions yourself is also a great way just to get your name known out to the room and what you do.

So when you go up to the mic, if you have a ten-second thing that you can say, “Hi, my name is Alexis and I help entrepreneurs sell five to six figures in three days or less and my question is…

It makes their head go up right from taking their notes… and then you ask a really good thoughtful question that gets you noticed in the room. If you do that just a couple of times, that helps you get noticed in the room.

My disclaimer is you have to do it with the right intention. Obviously part of your reason is to get noticed, but it actually has to be a question that you really want to know the answer to because people can see right through phony, so it has to be a true question that’s going to provide value to the room and to provide value to yourself.

I’m also respectful of the event host. It’s not a pitch fest. You’re not going up on their stage without being invited. You’re not going to start selling your services from the mic, so I just got to throw that disclaimer out there that yes, that is a great way to do it, but you have to be respectful and you actually have to have a good question.

That’s how you pitch the media. Like, so many people are so overly promotional and that’s why it doesn’t work for them, but when people come from a place to help the journalists do their job, then it’s beneficial. There are so many similarities here.

It’s all about coming from a place of service to the room, service to the event host, and service to yourself, but not in an over the top way.

Networking at an event

I hate it when I’m at an event and it’s just very obvious that somebody is just trying to network to sell me their story that I just don’t want to buy. You see the person going to the mic, you go to the mic, people are coming to you, you have people you want to go to… How do you actually have that conversation where it’s like, ‘Yes, we’re here to learn but I’m going to try to get you as a lead to become a client, but I don’t want to be so obvious about it. What does that conversation look like?

That’s a great question and one of the biggest ones that come up. I won’t go off too much on this because I could teach this forever, but basically what we teach our clients is when you go to an event as an attendee or even as a sponsor with the booth, there are two types of salespeople that you want to be – either the hunter or the gatherer.

1. The Hunter

The hunter is that kind of person that you just described that is just out there. They’ve got the gun behind them and they’re ready to go and they’re stalking prey and looking for all the indicators of, ‘Oh, this person looks well put together’ and ‘Oh, this person does that.’ They’re searching the room. And honestly, some people have that down and they are masters at it and it’s not like a slimy, sleazy way, but you have to be really good at it and have really skillful questions to use so that people don’t feel like you just felt like you described.

2. The Gatherer

I could go way longer into the hunter and how to do that, but the other style, which is my style, is the gatherer.

The gather is someone who has a really great message, very clear and concise. As the gatherer, you just kind of put your message and you put your vibes out there and people come to you. They gathered to you because they see what you’re talking about. You’ve got your stuff together. What you’re saying is clear and compelling and when people see that, they naturally are drawn to you like a magnet.

Right before my wedding, I went to this big conference in the summer and the first day I was the hunter. Oh Man. I was scouring that room and like, ‘Oh, I need a client, I need a client. I’ve got to get a client scouring that room.’ I had a meltdown at the end of the day. I’m like, ‘Why isn’t this going well? No one’s really talking to me.’

Talking to my fiancee, now business partner and husband Aaron, I’m like, ‘What’s going on?’ He’s like, ‘Babe, you’re not being you. You’re trying to be this other person. You know who’s a hunter in the room. You’re not a hunter. Just enjoy the event and relax and be calm and whatever happens, happens. If you get a client, great. If not, you’re learning amazing information. So just relax. Enjoy the conference and whatever happens, happens.’

3. Just have a conversation

Just making that mental switch in my head of not being in this scarcity mode and attack, attack, attack and just be myself, have fun, enjoy the information, be really curious… it was like everything flipped. People would come up to me and asked me questions or they would want to come and sit with me at lunch.

So, when you’re in your own natural style and you have clear, compelling messaging and you’ve got your stuff together, people are drawn to you. It’s really just like playing catch with someone. It’s a very simple question. You pass it to me. I hold the ball, I answered the question, I pass it back to you.

So the same is true when you’re in that kind of environment with someone, it’s just a simple natural conversation. It’s when we get into our heads that we get too flustered and we’re worried about what are we going to say. You just have to be present with people. You’re opening will come up and if you’re present you’ll hear it and you can naturally steer the conversation your way.

I’m definitely a gatherer and let me show you why this also probably works better for people. I mean, yes, you can be a hunter and be really good at it, but I liked the gathering method because I get my leads this way – not at events but through PR and the media.

I’m always putting myself out there and people are coming to me. I find that it’s a lot easier to close a sale when you’re a gatherer because people already know, like, and trust you before they even have that first conversation with you because you have put yourself out there so much.

How to put together a small event

That’s very good for anybody who’s attending an event anytime soon to keep in mind when they go to events and I mentioned that we met at a big event, but I want to talk about small events because I feel like out of the gate if somebody is thinking about throwing an event, they’re not going to start with a big event. They should probably start small. So, I want to talk about small events and how you should start one.

That’s where you should start – small events. You’re not going to go from, ‘I’ve never done an event’ or ‘I’ve never made an offer to the room’ to all of a sudden I’m going to throw this amazing three-day huge event with 100 people that I’m going to be the next guru or star. It doesn’t happen like that. Sometimes we have to give people a very loving but firm reality check when they come to us and say, I want to do this, I want to do that. That is a great goal and a great vision for the future, but let’s look at where you are and make sure that it makes sense and get you a successful event under your belt and make a little money and then you can reinvest that in, grow to a bigger one.

Sometimes our eyes are a little bit bigger than our stomachs and we have to just start where we’re at and there’s nothing wrong with that. You can have a small event your first time and make great money. So a great place to start.

We have what we call an event ready checklist and that’s where we have all of our clients, the clients that are doing the big three day events and the clients that are doing this small one day or 90-minute workshop, make sure that they’re ready because there’s a lot of things you need to have in place. Make sure that you’ve got everything together and things don’t get overlooked when you’re halfway through the planning process and you’re like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done this before. My life would be so much easier and stress-free if I had done this.’

How to put together a 90-minute workshop

You mentioned a 90-minute workshop or a one day workshop. Let’s, let’s talk about that. How would you start planning a 90-minute workshop or a one day workshop? I mean I’m sure there probably a lot of differences, but let’s just keep it small.

The first place you want to begin is you want to make sure that you have a solid strategy for your event. We start with an event strategy session because that is your foundation for everything. The event has to make sense. It has to make sense with your longterm vision for your business and where you want to take it.

Then from there, what is your offer? Who is it for? Obviously very specific ideal clientele that you’re targeting this event towards. It’s not to the masses.

Then, what is it that they really need What do they need support with and how do you want to work with them? We do a quiz with our clients to make sure that they’re delivering their offer and working with our clients in a way that they would love because you can promise the same outcome and deliver it and multiple ways.

For example, you’re going to learn X, Y, Z, or it could be work with me one on one and you’re going to learn the same X, Y, Z. So we, we made sure that their offer that they’re making at their event is going to be delivered to their new clients in a way that they love so they don’t end up hating life working with clients in a way that doesn’t match their personality.

The most important part of event planning

Making sure you have a good offer that matches your personality and then making sure you have really, again, clear, compelling and magnetic messaging that attracts people to your event. That is key and that is where we see one of the biggest pitfalls with people in their events is that’s too broad. They’re not reverse engineering their event so that it’s leading up to the offer and their marketing is just all over the place.

It’s not clear, they’re not educating people, or not delivering value before they ask them to come to the event. It’s just come to my event, come to my event, come to my event, in their emails and their social media. That’s all it is. There’s no nurturing. There’s no loving up on them before you ask them to marry you. 

When you’re dating someone, you ask them out for coffee. You don’t just take them to bed right away. That’s one of the biggest things that we see that people aren’t doing – they’re not creating the breadcrumb trail for people to lead up to the event and they’re not positioning themselves as that trusted advisor and friend so that when they have a problem in your area of expertise, it’s, ‘Oh yeah, I’m calling Christina. Obviously, I got to call Christina about this and make sure that I get on the Oprah Show.’ Right?

If you don’t have a solid strategy, if you don’t know who it’s for, what they need, how you want to work with them, then everything else is probably going to fall apart. So you have that buckled down. And then what’s next?

How to fill an event

Once you’ve got your message down, what we do is we go through and create a marketing calendar with our clients of how we’re going to fill the event and what is the marketing going to be. From there, it’s just sticking to the plan and the strategy. There’s a lot of ways to fill events. Even if you have a very small list, we have over 23 ways that you can fill an event.

I feel like that would be the hardest part. Is that not the hardest part?

It is. I’m not going to sugar coat it. It absolutely is. Even the biggest people and the business coaching industry, that whole industry, those gurus, even they are having a hard time filling the room. Sometimes they’re able to do it because they have great connections and relationships and a loyal list and everything, but still, that’s where you spend the bulk of your time with an event is getting people in there or “getting butts in seats” as they say in the industry.

Let’s talk about the butts in the seats. Don’t get me 23 reasons, but give me a couple.

I can give them the list of the 23 ways that are not in the event ready checklist, just email info@ateameventcompany.com.

1. Make Phone Calls

No matter who you are, what size your list is, how big the event is – the number one way to fill your event is to pick up the phone. You don’t have to do it yourself, but when you’re doing an event, especially when you’re starting out, which is what we originally started talking about – doing like a small one day or a 90-minute workshop, you have to pick up the phone.

You get to answer the questions they have and you can get them to purchase the ticket right there on the phone. They need that person to person accountability to make a decision at that moment. If it’s just emailing you with great compelling copy, you can get them to say yes, but sometimes people just need that extra nudge or that personal reach out.

We track and see who’s opening the emails, who’s really engaged or who have inquired in the past. So who are your hot leads? We always start with your hot leads – calling every single one of them. And it’s intense. It’s a lot of phone calls being made, but in the end, when you’ve got $100,000 in the bank, it’s worth it.

I would call your past and current clients because they could come to the event and either they’ll bring people with them or they’ll buy something themselves and re-engage if they’re a past client.

I think we all have a stack of cards hidden and we need to get to them. We need to call them. Those are the people you’d calls. You call those people, you connect with them, catch up with them, tell them what you’re up to in your event. Do they want to come? Do they know someone that can come?

2. Speak at Events

Speaking is a great way to fill your event if you’re able to, but if we’re talking local small events, someone just getting started, like a one day or 90-minute workshop, I would say go out networking. We talked about before with attending conferences and events at the beginning of this. This is a great way to fill your event too.

3. Marketing in your Messaging

So again, great marketing message for your event. That’s to a specific target market. Then you go to the events where those people are gathering. I’ve had people even go to a Curves, the fitness place for women. Depending on what your event is about, your target market is women that are trying to lose weight, or mothers, or something like that. I’ve had clients go to Curves and put up fliers. It’s where are your people gathering

Think outside of the box. Not everyone has the same ideal client and they’re a business owner. That’s not everyone’s. And that’s okay. There are all kinds of places we gathered together because that’s what we do as humans. So where can you go, thinking outside of the box, where they are going?

One of our business coaches went to Whole Foods. That’s where she found her people. So there are all kinds of places you can go to find your people… and you go with a ticket to your event or a flyer for your event and you have a great casual conversation and show interest in them as we talked about. Then when they ask what you do and what you’re up to, you can share your event and get them to register there on the spot or call them and follow up with them.

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