marketing

9-5 to CEO: How I Accidentally Started My Business…and Grew It

In 2012 I was a waitress.

From 2013 to 2014, I was working multiple internships to put myself through college.

By 2015, I was a college graduate who accidentally started a business. 

Going into 2020, I’m the owner and CEO of a marketing consultancy with a payroll. 

My business started when I was approached by a few individuals I knew from previous internships who needed small tasks completed. Ghostwriting, some social media help, and simple website design. 

I was bored outside of my marketing 9-5 and said, “Sure! I can help!” From there, word spread, and I found myself juggling anywhere from 4-5 clients on a monthly retainer outside of my regular job. 

In 2016, I took a phone call from a former boss who offered me a contract position working for one of the biggest marketing operations in our nation’s history. (Buy me a drink, and I’ll tell you all about it.) 

I gained confidence and grew leaps and bounds because of that contract, and I’m forever grateful for it – along with the agency positions I was able to take afterward. 

This amount of experience allowed me to take what was just a handful of clients…to almost ten times what I originally had in 2015. 

Almost five years later, I registered for an official LLC, hired an accountant, and now have a team that works with me to establish winning content and marketing strategies for businesses, brands, and charitable organizations.

Had I been asked if I wanted to be an entrepreneur when I was younger, I would have laughed. I never thought that it was something I would want to do – or that I’d even be good at – but I stumbled into it literally because of a few LinkedIn messages years ago. 

I’ve been able to work remotely and live as a #digitalnomad, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. I attribute these aspects to the growth and success of my business and would suggest them to any aspiring entrepreneur or business owner.

Push yourself. 

Be willing to put yourself out there. I had absolutely no idea what I was doing when I started, but had I not been willing to face this venture early on, I probably never would have started.

Work more than 40 hours a week until you don’t have to.

At my busiest, I’ve worked 100 hour weeks and a “slow” week is somewhere around 60 hours. Even on some holidays, I check my email and try to knock out smaller tasks. Even if I’m on vacation, I’ll check in with my team in the evenings and am available. It’s hard to not completely unplug – especially when I want a break – but it’s not always an option. “Busyness” as a status symbol annoys me and going into 2020, I’m working on being better about balancing my life.

Learn how to delegate.

In late 2018, I realized that I needed help if I wanted to really grow. So, I hired incredibly smart and talented people. I “let go,” in a sense, and learned how to delegate and divide and conquer so I could better serve my clients and grow my business. 

Listen to your clients.

I listen! It’s one of the most valuable qualities I bring to my clients. Most of the time, the problems they “think” they have with their marketing or overall media strategy isn’t exactly what they need to be successful. 

Network and do all you can to grow.

I’m naturally more introverted, but as the saying goes, “you don’t grow in your comfort zone.” I’m thankful for networking organizations in Indianapolis and around the world that allow me to meet with like-minded, entrepreneurial people who push me to be my best self. 

How to Create a Personal Brand

By now you may have heard of the “Instagram aesthetic” – a diminishing trend of cultivating the perfectly curated feed native to the platform. This phenomenon enabled social media influencers to expand their realm of influence and generate a following based upon creating relevant content that resonated with a specific audience. So, how did they do it?

By creating a strong, personal brand.

Though this idea may sound repulsive to some, personal brands can be extremely effective ways to generate income and leverage greater influence among a specific audience. Some equate this practice to “taking pretty pictures” or “writing a blog every now and then” but creating a personal brand and monetizing influence takes time and intentionality.

The investment may seem more than anticipated, but creating a strong brand can lead to many benefits, including more credibility and exposure within your field, additional streams of revenue, and a more personal connection to your audience. The dedicated following that comes with having a personal brand may just make the journey worth it to tackle your dream projects.

Ready to give it a go? Here are some factors to keep in mind when establishing a strong personal brand.

Choose your niche

The most renowned personal brands are typically quite specific and are focused on a certain niche. Choose a topic that excites you and brings you passion. You don’t have to drop all of your hobbies but when it comes to generating a following, choosing one topic in particular like fashion, marketing, psychology, or fitness can help target a specific audience while allowing you to become known in your field.

Find someone to follow

Because personal brands exist for nearly every idea, find an influencer or brand you resonate with, and follow them closely. What topics do they post about? What patterns in their content strategy do you recognize that you can implement? What interviews, podcasts, or blogs about their journey do they share in regard to getting started? Take note, and learn from their example. 

Cultivate a social media following

Building a strong and faithful following online is one of the most effective ways to have an audience to both serve and sell to. Create content with your target audience in mind and develop a strong tone to your writing.

Focus on writing to one clear person and you’ll begin to attract the people you would like to influence. Post about similar ideas and as with a personal brand, don’t be afraid to become a bit vulnerable on your journey. Additionally, invest your energy into the platforms where your audience spends most of their time.

Define your audience

Develop a content strategy and examine your analytics as you generate traction or ensure you have a clear idea on the front end of who you’re targeting. Implement marketing tactics and practices that most closely resonate with your audience.

For instance, podcasts may work well with millennials, but YouTube is more effective with GenZ.

Create partnerships

Influencer marketing and affiliate marketing are great places to start in this respect. If you don’t have the follower count to make connections try looking for like-minded people online who are doing the same thing as you. Come up with giveaways or encourage your audience to look into partners’ websites and contents, and ask them to return the favor. Finding your competition and working with them will benefit you more often than not.

Collect information

Most influencers focus on growing an email list so they have the rights to information, so in order to build out your brand to leverage influence, ensure you are creating content that serves and creating lead magnets to convert your audience.

Create a strong community

We live in a digital age and many people online are in search of the community they don’t have. Use that to your advantage – having a specific audience that attracts like-minded people is a strength. Instead of making your brand just about you, bring your audience together and they’ll follow you over a cliff.

Why Your Lead Generation Isn’t Working

The success of most businesses hinges on lead generation.

If you don’t have people inquiring about your product or service, you won’t be in business – or for long, anyway. Even if you have a blog, work in retail, or volunteer with a nonprofit, understanding the process of acquiring leads is pertinent to gaining any kind of traction for your organization.

Essentially, lead generation is a process that finds the clients and customers you need to need to attract.

This is significant since your ultimate goal should be for prospects who are unfamiliar with your organization to become leads that eventually purchase from you, sign up for your offer, or volunteer with you. Lead generation is an ongoing process that provides your business with a steady pipeline you can scale and grow.

It’s important to develop a plan to ensure you have a sound process to not only generate quality leads but to keep them. Here’s why your lead generation process may not be working.

You aren’t qualifying your leads

Even though it may seem beneficial to have a large volume of leads coming in, those leads only to create more work if they don’t fall into the category of your ideal client. For instance, if you sell pacifiers and are targeting young moms, having 100 leads from mostly 50 + year old men won’t help you generate revenue.  Your lead generation process should be tailored toward your ideal client, and therefore should ask specific questions and offer the information that will convert your lead to a customer.

You don’t have an inbound marketing strategy

In an oversaturated market place with many competitors, it is no longer enough to simply sell to your audience. Furthermore, the most successful companies have found ways to serve their clients. Research the inbound methodology to learn more about ways to educate your audience and offer them value. Most people are skeptical of providing their information in fear of being spammed, so you’ll want to create content worth your ideal client’s time.

You don’t have automation sequences in place

When you create offers or lead magnets, most times your prospects want the information they inquired for immediately. Creating automation where sequences are enabled to send them to lead magnets and other relevant content will keep them engaged. Your audience also may not be ready to purchase from you immediately, so create a drip campaign to warm your audience. This will enable you to set up sequences to follow up with your audience and warm them to your product or service.

You don’t have a landing page

If you don’t have a landing page created, it may be challenging for you to generate leads. Having a page for this purpose will more clearly outline the purpose you’ve established for your leads. Different than just any normal page on your website, a landing page will better educate prospects on your offer clearly articulating the benefits for them, in addition to streamlining your marketing efforts for ads and retargeting.

You’re not running ads

SEM and social ads are great ways to better reach your audience. Using Facebook Pixel to target your existing traffic and creating ads is the best way to continue to engage leads. The rule of 7 explains it takes 7 times for your prospects to see your offer before they take action. 

Your offer isn’t good enough

Sometimes your end of the bargain and whatever lead magnet you provide to gain customer information simply isn’t as valuable to prospects as it may be to you. Focus on creating offers and lead magnets that your current client base already wants. Ensure that you are adding value, and allow that to shine through as you aspire to get more leads.

Affiliate Marketing for Beginners

Affiliate marketing is an excellent opportunity to generate additional revenue, specifically from products or services you’re passionate about.

In essence, affiliate marketing allows you to earn a small commission for recommending products you love to friends, family, and larger audiences. Typically, a person becomes an affiliate through a business by either applying or reaching out and receives a special link to direct all prospective purchasers. Once a purchase is made, the affiliate makes a commission.

Different from multi-level marketing, there is no incentive or pyramid structure to limit your earnings or one specific type of product you must sell. Though some may argue that it takes a certain follower account or industry to make an income, even having a small blog can allow you to start generating passive income through this method.

Create a website

The first step to generating traffic to gear toward specific products or services is by creating a website. Create a brand based on a specific audience and provide content like photos, a blog, a podcast, etc, that can help you promote products or services.

Find products you love

Begin to search for products that are not only relevant to the type of media you create. Search for products you truly love and enjoy. Choose products and services you have experience with and that improve your quality of life.

Initiate successful partnerships

An affiliate partnership ensures that both the affiliate and brand are benefitting from an agreed upon arrangement. Though starting out this may be a bit of a challenge, there are plenty of existing companies that have not yet created an affiliate program. If you have a local small business you frequent, consider it as an opportunity to develop a partnership.

Consider Amazon Affiliates

One of the original affiliate programs in existence, Amazon does offer an affiliate program with up to 10% commission. What’s great about this program is that it’s free to join and because Amazon is universal, there’s truly a product for every niche interest.

It’s easy to sign up, so begin to look for opportunities with this platform.

Use Pinterest, Facebook Ads, and Email Marketing to build your list

These marketing tactics ultimately will be the foundation for building your online audience. Based on the product or service you plan to offer, research which platforms your target audience spends the most time on, and create content for them there.

Creating and maintaining an email list is one of the most effective ways to continue to keep customers in the door.

Ditching the 9-5: How to Find Remote Work Opportunities

Digital nomads use telecommunications technologies to earn a living. I’ve been working remotely since 2016 and have been a digital nomad since July 2018. I often work remotely from countries other than the United States, coffee shops, public libraries, and sometimes co-working spaces.

It’s starting to become the newfound “millennial dream,” but without hard work, it can be difficult to make it a reality. The daily grind, cultural norms, and rising student debt can also get in the way. Though landing a remote position may seem daunting, nearly 38 percent of workers will be able to work remotely in some capacity over the next decade, according to Remote.co.

Here are some easy ways to get started researching opportunities regardless of your background to begin settling into remote work.

Earn your way there with your current company

Though it may seem impossible to earn remote status with your employer, step out of the lens in which you view your position and ask yourself: “Is it possible to work remotely within my current role? Does anyone else at my company do this?”

Even if only one person works remotely, you may have the leverage to begin initiating conversations with your employer if you’ve paid your dues.

Though it may seem to be a risk, if you’ve been loyal to your company, nothing is impossible. Though it may mean moving to a different position or leveraging odd hours, be open to discussing new possibilities.

Pick up clients as a freelancer

If you’re interested in this workstyle but are unsure if working remotely may be the right lifestyle for you, consider taking on several clients as a freelancer, initially.

This way you can begin to establish work rhythms that will benefit you if and when you do make the decision to transition into remote work.

If you have a skill like graphic design or photography where you could grow your client base, consider starting your own small business.

Look for startups on websites like Angie’s List and note the companies

There are websites that can guide you on your search to finding the right remote positions, just like Angie’s List. Many tech companies offer remote opportunities directly from this website. As you search for positions online, Google also offers “work from home” as a filter as you aspire to search for positions as well.

Consider making a spreadsheet of all the companies you find that have these opportunities, and connect with hiring managers on LinkedIn. Though there may not be a position you qualify for immediately, begin scoping out companies you would like to work for and continue to check back for the right opportunity.

Look into creative circles

Creative Mornings and Creative Circle are great resources as you continue the search to help you land remote work, in addition to networking with like-minded digital nomads.

Co-working spaces are another creative outlet to network and collaborate with other entrepreneurs. Seek out any opportunity to cultivate relationships with people who currently work remotely and aspire to learn from them.

Take on multiple jobs and passions

Though some may find certain jobs unappealing, a compromise to obtain a remote lifestyle may mean sacrificing your full-time salary, in exchange for a lower paying job.

Therefore, taking on multiple passions – like your remote position that gives you work flexibility in addition to another revenue stream – may make this lifestyle possible for you a bit sooner. Explore different options and combine the passions that generate revenue.

Go all in! 

Even if you hate your job, remember that no one is forcing you to work there. Be thankful for the income, development, and stability your company provides no matter your frustrations.

But when the time comes, don’t be afraid to take the leap and go all in to embrace remote work.

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  • Here’s a #TravelTuesday tip: GET ✈️ ENOUGH ✈️ SLEEP ✈️! I can sleep on planes, trains, automobiles, and have even slept through tornadoes and one Earth quake. (And through a riot in the occupied part of Israel...😬) When changing time zones, adjust as quickly as you can. A 5+ hour difference may not seem like a big deal, but it can catch up to you quickly if you’re not used to it. 😴
  • You're engaged! Congratulations! So...now what? ⠀
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The first few days (or weeks) can feel totally overwhelming, but they don't have to be. I asked Kyle for his advice for folks who are newly engaged and they lined up EXACTLY with my list. (Read them all on my blog #linkinbio)
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What advice would you give to newly engaged couples? ❤️💍#WeddingWednesday
  • According to a 2015 survey, only 29% of Americans have ever been abroad. 29%!!! ⠀
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Europeans are lucky – most countries there are about the size of our individual states and public transportation and quick flights make weekend trips such a breeze. Although the U.S. is HUGE, there is a lot more of this world to see. ⠀

Is one of your New Year's Resolutions to get your passport?  Visit a new country? A new continent? ⠀

Take my advice: pick a location, buy the ticket, and just GO. 🌎✈️
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(Taken at one of the thermal pools in Switzerland where cameras are prohibited, oops!)
  • "Twice in the 1930s, censors in Washington, D.C., sent letters to the American Institute for Economic Research demanding that we shut down our presses. Twice our founder E.C. Harwood refused to do so. Twice government backed down.⠀
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What were we doing wrong? We had published articles taking issue with New Deal economic policy. Nothing more. In those days, however, dissent was rare, first because it was dangerous and second because there was such an overwhelming intellectual consensus in favor of the policies of Franklin Roosevelt.⠀
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Why were they so worried about some small newsletters and books being printed by AIER? Because ideas are ultimately more powerful than armies. Ideas can turn history on a dime, and in defiance of even the world’s most fierce states." ~ Jeffrey Tucker⠀
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Beyond proud that we published 33 works, old and new, in 2019. The best is yet to come. 📚❤️
  • Woke up Jan. 1 like, “oh, sh*t, we’re getting married this year.” 🥂
(We’re taking engagement pics soon I swear.) #GetYourLiverReady #WeDontReallyHaveAHashtag
  • 2019 was probably the best way to end the decade. Clients served, opinion pieces written, publications on Amazon, long stays in Europe and the Middle East, and FINALLY got engaged to @kylepierce17. Oh, and writing more for FUN! I put together a list of readers’ favorites from my site this calendar year. My goal is to share as much as possible about my travels and how I make #remotelife not only work but flourish. Thank you for following along with me! #linkinbio
  • Helllooooo from Miss America FINALS! 👸✨
  • “Chloe Anagnos: cultivating a career beyond borders.” 🌍✈️📝
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SO HAPPY with how my logos turned out for my website refresh! Kara is an amazing designer and helped me come up with the perfect tagline for the purpose of my site – writing about my travels, career, and best #digitalnomad tips. Check out my blog for more. ❤️
  • The dream of the 90s is alive in Great Barrington 🥂
  • “Just add three letters to Paris, and you have paradise.” – Jules Renard ✨🇫🇷
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I had to spend my first time on the European continent in Paris. I studied French from grades 7 – 12 and even earned a minor in college! I wish I would have had the time to study abroad when I was younger, but I’m grateful that I was able to experience Paris in the winter of 2018. ⠀
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There’s something magical about wandering the halls of the Louvre and warming up with a café au lait during a light snowfall.⠀
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From the art to the food, the fashion and awe-inspiring architecture, the City of Lights has a little something for everyone.⠀
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Read 21 quotes to inspire you to experience one of my favorite European cities #ontheblog #linkinbio
  • "You should dye your hair."⠀
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"I hear Americans get drugged."⠀
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"Are there terrorists?"⠀
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I've stayed in a lot of places that are considered "dangerous" and these are the comments/questions I get the most. ⠀
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My response is always the same.⠀
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Altering my appearance to "blend in" is silly and not all parts of Central & South America or the Middle East are dangerous. In Israel, you're going to see soldiers with machine guns in public places. Expect to see the same in most of Latin America outside of resorts. ⠀
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If you're looking for trouble you're bound to find it, regardless of location. (And as a writer who covers oppressive/corrupt governments, I know I'm not always going to be the most welcome wherever I go.)⠀
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But, I choose not to live in fear. ⠀
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(#TBT to these crystal clear waters in the Dominican Republic)
  • Drunk or just drunk in love?? 🥂😅🧐

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