Tell us about yourself and your business – what do you do + who do you serve?
My name is Coach Joy Dejos and I’m The MommyProofing Coach. I’m in the business of supporting mamas in kicking Mommy Guilt, Mommy Shame, and Mommy Judgment to the curb, so they can start saying YES to themselves more often, without feeling bad about it!
I serve driven, passionate, ambitious moms who may have strayed off the path because they are just so exhausted trying to balance the complexities of motherhood. They know they want to do more; they just need the support to get going!
Are there any things commonly accepted as truths in the business world that you flat out disagree with?
I flat out don’t accept that just because you’re passionate about your dreams, it will happen. The Law of Attraction is powerful, but success doesn’t materialize at the end of that sentence. You need to work hard, create structures, get stellar help, and put in the hours to make that vision into reality.
What’s one thing people might not know just from reading your website and following you on social media?
I’m a tropical island girl, hailing from the Philippines! 🙂 I love to travel; I love fashion; I love art!
Tell us a funny story about something related to your business.
Not so much a story, but the funny looks – I get them all the time when I say I’m the “MommyProofing Coach”… instant reaction is always: “Mommy what???” Yes ladies! Mamas need to proof themselves from the dangers of motherhood!
If you could do just one piece of your business forever, what would it be?
Definitely the actual coaching aspect! What many people don’t realize about solopreneurs is that we do so much “other” work – marketing, selling, branding, back-end tech stuff. I would love to just coach moms all day long without having to do all of the other stuff!
What does community mean to you?
Community means support, celebration, inspiration, motivation, challenge, openness, service. Community is FAMILY.
What is the #1 lesson you’ve learned since being in business on your own?
Cheesy as it may sound – I can do anything I put my mind to… if I want it badly enough! 😉
Give us a shameless plug for your latest project/product/freebie!
“I love my kids, but sometimes, I just want to escape… I catch myself thinking: what about me???” If you’ve had these thoughts once (or many times over!), it’s okay. It’s time we reconnect with YOU – because when you give YOU a chance, you allow yourself to be a happier woman and that means being a happier, better mom too! This September, I’m launching MommyChoosing: Saying Yes to Your Self and Your Life, a shared group coaching experience for Moms. I hope you’ll join!
Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us, Joy!
As we were brainstorming people in our community who could speak to June’s theme of income and money making, we immediately thought of Rebecca Tracey, the head honcho over at The Uncaged Life and the creator of the awesomely-named Hey, Nice Package!
In addition to having a category on her blog called Kick in the Ass, she also writes extensively about pricing and packaging — a perfect complement to our money making theme.
We’ve been admirers of Leah Kalamakis and her online community, The Freelance to Freedom Project, for some time now, and also happen to be huge fans (along with many others) of her e-course, Stress Less & Impress. So, when we were choosing a guest to invite to chat with us about business streamlining, we knew we had to reach out to Leah (it doesn’t hurt that she also loves popcorn and wine — two of our favorite things).
Welcome to Day in the Life, where we peek into the lives and schedules of solopreneurs and freelancers. Today we’re chatting with Kiersten Kindred, founder of Kindred Communications, a communications and branding firm in Houston, Texas. Kiersten specializes in communications, media, marketing, and defining brands for medium-sized businesses. Visit her site to download Five Steps to Marketing Success: A Small Business Guide.
7:30 am: I wake up to my alarm song, Rihanna “We Found Love.” I still love that song. As soon as I get up I put on the Today show to see what is going on in the world.
7:35 am: After I lay in bed for about five minutes watching the news, I move to my floor to meditate. My mantra that I say over and over again is “God is love.” I say that on repeat to allow my mind to find my inner peace before I begin my day.
7:45 am: Once meditation is complete, I hop in the shower.
8:30 am: I begin to get my breakfast ready. I clean off a piece of fruit (a plum, blueberries or a banana) and heat up some Cream of Wheat or pour a bowl of Fiber One (with no sugar added). Once the breakfast is ready, I put it on a plate and head over to the table to eat and watch more news.
9 am: After I finish my breakfast, I go to the kitchen to prepare my lunch and snacks for the day, so I won’t have to stop and cook in the middle of the day.
9:45 am: I get on my laptop to check and respond to emails. I often forget how many email accounts I have, so I have to keep a check list of which email accounts I have checked. I keep many email accounts for my personal emails, business emails and fun emails.
10:45 am: As soon as I’ve checked my email accounts and replied to clients, potential clients and others, I get on social media. I try to automate my social media accounts, but it often becomes a mixture of me posting live and automatic postings. When I post automatically, it is great for me because I can proceed with my day and not worry about social media. My favorite tool for this is Hootsuite. I also take this time to look at trends and look for events in the area.
11:45 am: I do a conference call with a client to talk about the communications and branding efforts for the week. I love this part of the day because it so motivating to be able to help businesses improve their branding efforts for their business. It truly is enjoyable to be able to watch businesses grow through communications, branding and marketing efforts. Once I talk to one client, I call the next client and discuss their efforts for the week. I try to touch base with all my clients in some form in the day, so they know they I am on top of things.
1:45 pm: Once I have talked to all my clients, I go to the kitchen to get my lunch and eat it at the table while reading emails. I take a little break to try to eat and sometimes play Lumosity for a mini-mind break.
2 pm: After finishing my lunch, I then prepare my bag and leave to meet with potential clients that I have already researched and prepared a pitch for. I aim to meet with at least 10 potential clients a day, in their offices.
4:30 pm: Now that I have met with potential clients, I arrive back home and get on the computer again to promote my new book (Five Steps to Marketing Success: A Small Business Guide). I promote it on social media, search for media outlets and look for possible speaking engagements.
6 pm: Once I have completed tasks for my book, I look for networking events in my area and surrounding areas. I try to make it a habit to attend at least three networking events a month. I search Eventbrite, LinkedIn, Twitter and use a simple Google search.
7 pm: I head to the gym to have an hour-long workout filled with cardio first (I either get on the elliptical, stair master or treadmill for about 20 minutes) then I do either my legs, abs or arms. I typically do legs and lower body Mon, Wed, Fri and then I do abs and arms Tues and Thurs.
8:30 pm: I arrive home, check my emails and then try to watch TV, talk to family and friends, and prepare dinner. It depends what night it is for what I am watching on TV, but my favorite shows out now are Blood, Sweat and Heels, Power, and Empire. My dinner usually consists of something like salmon, always with two servings of vegetables.
9:30 pm: I write a blog post for my company blog. My blog post will be about branding, communications, marketing or media relation tips.
10 pm: Finally, I prepare for bed and get ready to do it all over again. What a day for Kiersten Kindred!
When a new member mentioned that she found out about One Woman Shop through the Bucketlist Bombshells’ email newsletter, we asked her to forward us the email feature. We were immediately sucked into all things Bucketlist Bombshells: their tagline and the name of their e-course (Work Online and Travel the World), their fun branding (love the teal!), and their reference to binge-watching New Girl. (Who’s that girl?)
We wasted no time in reaching out to thank them and quickly asked them to join us for our One Woman Shop Chats With… Live series to talk about all things location independence.
In this 55-minute video, we chat about:
How strange we entrepreneurs can be (think: silly nicknames and our excessive usage of acronyms)
How it’s possible (and sometimes imperative) to create routine and community while you’re traveling
Fresh Mexican tacos + coconut juice
The people best cut out to take on the location independent life
The greatest fears that hold women back from building a location-independent business
The (few) drawbacks of living the digital nomad lifestyle
How the Bucketlist Bombshells have built such a strong brand and community
The Bombshells’ favorite and least favorite social media channels
Pop in those headphones and listen and/or watch at your own leisure!
After you’ve listened, tell us below: 1) both the best and hardest part about location independence (for our current digital nomads) or 2) what’s holding you back from pursuing location independence (for our aspiring digital nomads).
What is the most surprising or unexpected thing you’ve learned from being location independent? (From the little tips to the life-changing discoveries — we want to hear it all!).
Here’s what they had to say:
The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that being location independent is not such a big deal. I know that sounds crazy, and it certainly feels like a big deal when you make the decision and take the leap! But once you live and work overseas you meet so many people who are doing the same thing that it becomes the new normal, and those people who aren’t location independent become the “different” ones. – Stacey Kuyf, One Travels Far
It’s the sheer newness of all the little details in the world around me – they blow me away on a near-daily basis. It has such a positive psychological impact to notice the different and the unusual with an attitude of joy and wonder. – Sarah Ball, Mango Sticky
I have an apartment in Buenos Aires, and while I like having a home base that in theory I can go back to anytime, and where I can leave some stuff, I’ve discovered that I don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of time there! My husband and I have only spent about four months there in the last two years. – Amy Scott, Nomadtopia
The most unexpected thing I learned is that there’s such a thing as moving too fast, and seeing too much. Just because I can set off on a whirlwind, one-month trip across six countries in Europe doesn’t mean I should. Instead, I’ve found joy in stopping, forming a routine, and getting to know the place I’m in. Much like my old location-dependent life, I guess! – Lauren Juliff, Never Ending Footsteps
I had no idea how much of my day would be spent trying to find decent wifi. And it’s shocking which countries have good and bad wifi — South Africa is awful, while many Eastern European countries are amazing! – Kate McCulley, Adventurous Kate
I didn’t expect to learn about the importance of a holistic lifestyle – running a location-independent online business and travelling the world is just not enough to live a healthy and conscious life. Along the way I unexpectedly discovered yoga, meditation and a vegan diet and realised how much more amazing this freedom can be when I incorporate them into my daily life. – Conni Biesalski, Planet Backpack
The most powerful thing I’ve learned from being location independent happened while sitting in the back of a car owned by a friend of a friend, in the middle of the night, after arriving in Lima (Peru), without my luggage, on a flight that was 14 hours delayed. I learned that I am much, much stronger and braver than I ever had imagined. – Marthe Hagen, The Freedom Experiment
The most surprising thing about being location independent is how easily it flows if you commit to it. Know that you can’t plan all of the details — even though they make the journey smooth. From border stamp adventures to the back of a dusty pickup truck in Nicaragua, to stopping for Tres Leches desert at a local’s home and sailing with new friends, a whole new world awaits you! And you can live and work from anywhere if you set up your business accordingly. All you have to do is say yes! – Lynan Saperstein, The Big Factor
After six years of location independence, my life-changing revelation is that no one truly has their work life figured out. Everyone from the freshly-minted freelancer to the uber-successful nomadic entrepreneur lives with plenty of doubt and uncertainty. What matters is how you approach the next challenge. – Kit Whelan, Seek New Travel
The most surprising thing I realised from living and working on the road for the last four years is the importance of a home base. Counter-intuitive right? But I’ve recognised now that I feel most free, most independent, and more importantly, most grounded, when I have a home base. It’s the knowledge that I’m not completely detached from a sense of belonging, and that I can drift along happily knowing I have somewhere to go back to if need be.” – Linzi Wilson, HelloGlow
The most unexpected thing for me is that even after four years of location independence, I still get these huge waves of disbelief and gratitude that I can do whatever I want – that I am the master of my days. On any given day of the week, I might be roadtripping through the English countryside and taking a client call in the evening. Amazing! – Heather Thorkelson
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Just because you’re a One Woman Shop doesn’t mean there are limits to the scale at which you can produce and sell — are we right? In fact, we believe the potential extends further, as you naturally incur less overhead and own the decision-making power. (#girlboss) So when one of our members posted in the private Facebook group about setting up wholesale relationships, we took to our network and checked in with three business owners with wholesale experience to give us the ins and outs and help you get started. Here’s what Amanda Wright of Wit and Whistle, Mei Pak of Creative Hive, and Jennifer Hill of JHill Design had to say:
Tell us a bit about your current wholesale relationships and how they tie into the rest of your business.
Amanda: I’ve been super lucky with wholesale. As Wit & Whistle has organically grown, the retailers have come to me! Over the years I’ve maintained a strongly branded, active presence on Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, and my own blog/website. This tangled web of Wit & Whistle has snagged many retailers browsing the internet for products to sell. A lot of retailers turn to Etsy when looking for potential vendors, so maintaining a retail shop there has been a great resource, too. Etsy Wholesale is fairly new, but it has already been a wonderful way for me to connect with new wholesalers. If you’re serious about wholesale, it’s important to have your own gorgeous, professional-looking website to build your credibility. Make sure there’s an easy to spot “wholesale” page that includes a link to your catalog and any other information a retailer might need to get in touch with you and place an order.
Mei: My jewelry business, Tiny Hands, currently sells in over 100 stores across the United States. Most of the stores I sell to are smaller gift shops so I have the opportunity to get to know the shop owners well. In the first two years of taking on wholesale, my business quickly grew to multiple six-figure sales. Half of that can be attributed to wholesale, so it has definitely played a major role in my business. I love being able to diversify my income streams. When it’s a slow month for online retail sales, I can count on wholesale orders to pick up. It’s been great for stability and has even helped grow my retail sales because I have a wider reach in the market and more people have seen my brand!
Jennifer: Wholesale is a small part of our business. Our main piece is direct-to-consumer via our website. But we are always working to grow our wholesale business.
What is your best advice for first establishing contact with potential wholesalers? Do you recommend stopping in to the store, calling, reaching out via email, or something else?
Mei: First and foremost, check the store’s website if they have product submission guidelines. If not, then always email a store instead of walking in. If you can’t find an appropriate email contact, then your best bet is to call the store to ask. The majority of stores prefer being pitched to by email. It doesn’t put them on the spot, and it gives them time to check out your line. It also helps them keep organized with the dozens, if not hundreds of product pitches they receive every week.
If you want to take it a step further, try to establish a connection with the store owners or buyers on social media before you send them an email. That way, they’ll be familiar with who you are and more receptive of your email pitch.
Jennifer: Knowing many store owners, I always think it is best to email first. They are so busy and rarely have the time to review a product at the drop of a dime. Make the email personable, showing that you have researched the store. You may want to mention display ideas so the retailer can begin to picture your goods in their shop.
What makes for a great wholesale relationship?
Amanda: Openness and honesty. I appreciate it so much when my retailers give me feedback on how I can improve my goods and ideas for new products. It’s important to keep in touch with your wholesalers throughout the year, and update them about new collections. This year I’m hoping to print a beautiful Wit & Whistle lookbook to mail out and start sending occasional email newsletters.
Mei: You are all on the same side — you want the store to sell your products well and as a result, they’ll make more orders with you. So make it easy for them. Ship your orders when you say you will. Package your products so they grab a customer’s attention. Offer marketing support to your store’s retail staff. You can educate them on your product’s background to help them talk about and sell your work. Offer to exchange items that aren’t selling for ones that are. Follow up with them to check in on sales. This will all help a store feel taken care of and will make for a great relationship.
Jennifer: Stay in touch and promote them! We always give a shout out on social media when we send a new shipment to our retailers. When we open a new account we send an email blast to our customers in the new store’s area letting them know they can get our goods in person. We also reach out to local press.
What’s one thing that you never thought of prior to establishing a wholesale relationship that you’ve since learned from?
Amanda: It took me a while to grasp that there are different packaging needs when selling wholesale. When a retail customer orders from my website, they get a complete product description on the page. When my products are for sale in stores, the packaging has to communicate everything the customer needs to know. For example, when I first started wholesaling, many of my greeting cards had messages printed inside, but I would package them in sealed cellophane sleeves. In store, customers had no clue what was printed inside the cards! I didn’t even think about it until one of my retailers asked if I could put stickers on the backs that disclosed the inside messages. Oops! My wholesale selling experience has mostly been trial and error, and sometimes I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing! I figure that’s probably normal. (At least I hope!)
Mei: It’s important to create an irresistible package that makes your product easy to buy. When I started doing wholesale, I just thought having a catalog was all I needed. Later, I put together a package of my best-selling products along with a display rack, tailored to individual stores. That way, instead of just giving stores the option to mix-and-match products, I presented an easy “starter package” for the store that eased the decision-making burden on them and helped tremendously to push sales for me.
Jennifer: Be flexible on terms. Some of our big accounts only pay Net 30; some of our small accounts prefer to pay by bank wire transfer or credit card. We are happy to work with each one.
Have you ever had a wholesale relationship that didn’t go well? What did you learn?
Amanda: I learned that when working with large, nationwide retailers I need to ask if I can read through their vendor manual before accepting any purchase orders (POs). This is especially important if the vendor doesn’t usually work with independent makers. Keeping up with some retailers’ vendor requirements is a full time job in and of itself. It’s difficult to follow hundreds of pages of requirements written for huge factories in Asia when you’re a one-woman operation working out of your suburban basement. Some retailers will even charge you expensive fees if you miss a single step (yes, I also learned that the hard way). Don’t be afraid of working with big retailers, just be vigilant and know what you’re getting into before you start.
Mei: There was one store that was so difficult to work with. They caused so much trouble and every email they sent was a headache to deal with. The last straw was when they tried to reorder way less than my minimum amount. I told them it wasn’t enough for a reorder but in return they berated my work and threatened that they would buy products similar to mine from a different and cheaper source. At that point, I fired them and took back all of my products to end the relationship.
It’s crucial that you sell to the right stores. Sometimes you won’t know if it’s a right fit until after the first order, so it’s hard to avoid these kinds of mishaps. Stand by your product and your wholesale terms and policies. They are there for a reason. When you start bending the rules, some people may take advantage of you. It’s okay to end a wholesale relationship. Some stores just don’t work out.
Have you discovered any downsides of wholesaling? Anything potential wholesalers should be weary of?
Amanda: For me, the only downside to wholesaling has been that it’s more difficult to introduce new types of products. My goods are made in small batches, which means they cost more per piece to manufacture than if I were having them produced in massive quantities. When I get an idea for a new kind of product, I have to make sure I can produce it at a low enough cost that I can sell it at reasonable wholesale rates (50% off retail). At the same time, I have to keep my inventory at manageable levels, because I can only sell so much product, and only have so much storage room in my studio! It’s a tricky balance. I have some products that I just can’t sell to my wholesalers due to the tight profit margins.
Mei: Be sure you have your systems in place. Doing wholesale really tests your process of manufacturing your product in bulk to packaging and shipping them out in a timely manner. The leaks in your systems become apparent with wholesale because you’re dealing with such large numbers compared to a retail order. Be aware of the time you’ll need to spend managing stores as well as acquiring new ones and fulfilling orders. Get your systems down pat and you’ll do great!
Jennifer: Putting together the orders can sometimes take more time than we expect, but in the end it is worth it. Also sending out cold emails to people can sometimes feel like a waste of time. That is one reason that we are looking more at trade shows.
Going forward, how much do you plan to keep wholesaling as part of your business?
Amanda: I hope the wholesale side of my business continues to grow like crazy. It has been a great source of income for me, and it’s so satisfying to watch the list of retailers that carry Wit & Whistle goods get longer and longer!
Mei: I would love to keep wholesale and retail sales an even split. But the market and technology changes so quickly that not everything is within our control. So, I go wherever my business takes me. If wholesaling opportunities keep coming my way, I won’t turn them down and if it so happens to become all of my business, I’ll just need to adapt and hire more help!
Jennifer: We are hoping to start doing more wholesale in 2016 and begin the trade show circuit!
Thanks so much, ladies!
OWS readers: after the fantastic information shared by Amanda, Mei, and Jennifer, what other questions do you have about establishing wholesale relationships as a One Woman Shop? Tell us in the comments below!
One Woman Shops can’t always do it all. But when it’s time to turn to an outside pro — and be certain we’re choosing the right one — we’re often at a loss as to what to ask to get the info we need. Welcome to Questions For A… a series where we interview the pros themselves on the questions you need to ask before hiring them.
Q: What is your preferred method of communication?
Tiffany’s why: I know that introductory Skype and phone calls are a major part of some people’s work processes, but I’d rather change a baby’s dirty diaper than talk on the phone. Therefore, I prefer communication via email, or through Basecamp, my project management system. If you’re a big phone/email person, it’s important to make sure that the people you’re working with feel the same way.
Erin’s why: If you want weekly phone calls to check in on progress, and the designer/developer only communicates via email, it’s better to know that right away.
Q: What should I have ready before we start working together? Do you require design assets and copy before starting the development piece?
Tiffany’s why: You should have all of your passwords ready, as well as any necessary notes, content, design files, etc. The majority of my projects don’t get started right away because passwords need to be found, and content and files need to be delivered. I’m all about hitting the ground running, and I’m sure most clients feel the same way.
Meredith’s why: Depending on how complex the project is, most developers will need all the pieces in place before starting. They may begin by coding the foundational layer but for any real website building, they will ideally like to have all of the assets complete before starting work.
Q: How does your process work?
Tiffany’s why: Everyone’s process is different. Some developers ask more in-depth questions, and others prefer to create exactly what the client requests, no questions asked. Because I like to think about user experience when developing something, I tend to ask more questions about goals and objectives. Some people may appreciate that, and others may not. So it’s important to understand what the developer has in mind prior to signing a contract.
Erin’s why: It’s important to know how designers and developers work and how long things are expected to take.You’ll also want to know how many rounds of revisions you get, when and what you need to provide the developer in order to let them do their job, and keep things moving. If a developer says they need final copy, don’t expect to change your About page text the night before website launch. When everyone knows what to expect it makes the project run a lot smoother and reduces the chance for misunderstandings.
Q: How do you track a project’s progress and deliverables?
Meredith’s why: I use Trello to track all my projects. Everyone who’s involved on the project has access. We assign deliverables, due dates and keep the majority of our communication through there to cut down on the number of emails. It’s best to be upfront with how the project communication will be handled so expectations are set from the beginning.
Q: What platforms do you work with?
Erin’s why: Find someone who specializes in the platform you want — it will ensure you get a well-coded site that won’t break every time you touch it. I’ve fixed plenty of sites made by developers who knew just enough about WordPress to make a site that looked good to visitors, but were a nightmare to update or maintain.
Q: I have my heart set on ____ feature, can you do that?
Erin’s why: Prioritize your features and make sure the developer knows how to do them. For example, if you have your heart set on a custom masonry-style gallery, ask developers if they know how to do that. There’s nothing worse than getting halfway into a project only to find out the developer can’t deliver what you want. I’ve picked up a lot of half-finished projects where either the client didn’t communicate features they wanted clearly, or the developer didn’t know how to add in the feature. Show examples and look for similar features in your developer’s portfolio.
Q: Will you code this responsively?
Lis’ why: Not to be confused with responsibly (which let’s hope is also the case!). We consume and read differently on mobile. If your designs don’t have this specified then you can ask your developer to code down the designs responsively. Responsive design increases time and budget on a project due to extra planning, additional coding, more testing and extra know-how but is well worth it as audiences increasingly use mobile devices to access your website (from buses, work and bathrooms!).
Erin’s why: It’s 2015. Websites NEED to be responsive. Not only will you be penalized by Google if your website isn’t, but visitors will have a hard time viewing your site on anything other than a computer screen.
Q: Do you design websites as well, or do you have a list of designers you prefer working with?
Erin’s why: Developers are not necessarily designers. And designers are not necessarily developers. Ask if your developer can design, and what kind of design they do. For example, I design websites, but I don’t do brand or print design. If you need something outside your developer’s realm of expertise, ask if they have recommendations — when designers and developers have a relationship it makes the process smoother. While developers CAN work with mockups from a designer they don’t know, it’s easier for everyone involved if the designer and developer already have processes in place and rapport with each other.
Q: How much back end functionality will I have?
Lis’ why: Depending on your project size, budget, scope and the skills of your dev, you’ll likely have a different range of functionality and access on the back end. For custom projects and development anything is possible so ask what platform (CMS) they’re building on, why they’ve chosen that one for your project, what access you’ll have, if there is any ongoing payment for support or maintenance, how you’ll update areas on the site and if you’re provided with training, instructions, guides or anything else.
Q: Are you responsible for all integrations, third party systems, hosting, setting up emails etc?
Lis’ why: Again, this will vary per project and developer. For example, I prefer all my clients establish their own accounts to third party applications (I.e hosting, domain, mailing services, payment gateways, etc.) so they have full control and access over the account and they can securely control their payment details and the like. I’ll take it from there to work with everything and arrange what I need within the overall website and systems flow. Other developers may have partnerships with companies, reseller programs or their own products. This is also the time to note who is responsible for setting up things like mailing list integrations, online schedulers, memberships, etc.
Q: Do you maintain my site or provide support packages?
Lis’ why: All sites need to have occasional updates and maintenance. Can you easily add things and do it in-house? Sometimes clients don’t wish to (or don’t have time or the desire) to add/change any of their own content. Do you regularly need new layouts designed or are you constantly tweaking and testing things and need a developer who can help out? Will you require extra phases of new items or functionality in the future? Do you want to look after your own updates and security or would you like somebody else to take care of this? If your server goes down or if there is any issue with your hosting do you go back to your developer and they’ll fix it? If you mess around with some code and it temporarily ‘breaks’ the site (the evil white screen of death!), is your developer responsible for fixing the code and are they on hand immediately?
Q: What is your payment structure & schedule?
Meredith’s why: Every developer has a different payment schedule. It’s good for the client to know how much the deposit will be and whether they will need to make a final payment before the site goes live.
Ready to grill (in the best way possible) your potential developer? Print these questions out + have them at the ready when you’re looking to hire! And if you want pros we stand by, check out the One Woman Shop directory.
You’re ready to start your solo business — you’re craving the freedom, the versatility, and the chance to put your passion into play — but you’re not quite sure where to start. You’ve come to the right place. In our So You Wanna Be a… series, we highlight entrepreneurs who’ve built successful businesses doing what they love.
So you wanna be a professional speaker? Here’s what you need to know…
Tell us exactly what a person in your role does.
Jess: When I was in college, I started a company called Headbands of Hope. For every headband purchased, one is given to a girl with cancer and $1 to childhood cancer research. I started getting calls from universities to come speak to their students about taking action in college. I signed on with an agency called CAMPUSPEAK and have been traveling around the country ever since speaking to students and some corporations as well.
Alexia: As a professional speaker, I have the opportunity to inspire and transform people with my message. From keynotes, to TED-style talks, to corporate trainings, to retreats, I get to create epic experiences that show people opportunities they never know existed, help them reframe limiting beliefs and behaviors, and transfer their insight into action.
Nicole: As a speaker, my role is to create a safe, enjoyable space for audiences to reflect, to help them learn something new about themselves or their work, and inspire them to act based on those newfound discoveries.
How did you get your start? What are other ways someone else can get started?
Alexia: I was somewhat thrust onto the speaking circuit in college after winning the Miss Junior America competition. After graduate school, I worked as a training and public speaking professor, and I began to use public speaking as a means for developing my coaching business prior to focusing on public speaking and speaking coaching as a business. For someone looking to get speaking gigs, I recommend pitching one’s self for online opportunities (i.e., podcasts and tele-summits), self-producing webinars (where you make compelling offers to enroll in your upper-level programs), and applying to speak at industry events as well as building relationships with meeting planners and event organizers (and then submitting to speak).
Nicole: I consider my “start” to be my second TEDx talk in March 2014. I was actually a late addition to the roster, having originally been invited to give a “mini talk”. The event organizer who reached out to me had gotten to know me through my work in the community, which gave her a sense of my experience, my personality, and my interests.
The most important piece of advice I can give to someone is this: do interesting things in your community or industry. This not only makes you more visible, but also gives you the essential material you need in order to have something interesting and valuable to talk about.
Also, let people know that you are available for speaking engagements! If you have a website, put together a simple speaking page that lists your the topics you are available to speak on and any past speaking engagements. Then, share it out regularly on social media!
Jess: Even though I didn’t speak professionally in college, I tried to practice as much as I could. I gave campus tours and I also taught fitness classes. Almost every day I was getting up in front of hundreds of people and talking. That helped me become more comfortable and confident in my speaking. Even if you’re not in school, I recommend finding a way to get in front of people, even if it’s just raising your hand in a meeting.
Is there a certain kind of person that would thrive in your role?
Jess: When people think of motivational speakers, they probably think of someone who is really inspiring and internally reflective. That may be the case, but in order to get booked, you also have to be an entertainer. You could have a great story and an inspiring message, but if you can’t deliver it in a way that captivates the audience and makes them laugh, then you won’t get booked. It’s not just about your story, it’s about your delivery.
Nicole: I wouldn’t say that you need to be an extrovert to be a speaker (some of the most compelling talks I’ve heard have been from introverts), but I would say that you need to be able to read the energy of a crowd and quickly respond to it. But, most importantly, you need to be willing to get up on that stage and speak honestly from the heart. Your willingness to be vulnerable is directly proportionate to the impact you will make on your audience.
What do people need before they can get started in your industry?
Nicole: Self-awareness. The reason that I was able to immediately jump on the TEDx opportunity by pitching a topic and a talk outline is that I had a keen understanding of my life story and the lessons that I have drawn from my experiences. I believe that compelling talks — even the most technical — center around stories, from which a speaker can then pull insights, lessons, and nuggets of information that will inspire and empower their audience.
Alexia: There are certainly some key materials that can help, including an effective speaker’s page (editor’s note: here’s a great resource) on one’s website — ideally with a description of 3-4 talks/presentations, a speaking headshot, speaking footage, and testimonials from audiences. I also HIGHLY recommend becoming top notch both at sculpting one’s content into a great talk (or keynote, training, etc.) and developing one’s delivery skills.
Jess: It’s 100% necessary to have video footage of you speaking. Even if you speak for free at an event, rent some audio and recording equipment and film it. Even better, film testimonials of people at the end talking about how great you are. You can write all of your keynotes and messages down on paper, but it’s rare anyone will actually book you unless they see you talk.
How do you currently seek out clients or customers? What are some ways you’ve considered seeking out clients or customers that you haven’t tried yet?
Jess: I attend a lot of conferences to speak and network. I would say about 90% of my bookings come from personal connections I make at conferences or just daily life and the other 10% come from internet marketing. The best way to gain new clients is by recommendation and referrals. If you did a talk and the school or company gave you great feedback, ask if they wouldn’t mind recommending you to another organization.
Nicole: Currently, I rely mostly on word-of-mouth for booking speaking engagements, as well as inquiries through my website’s speaking page. I also keep a mental list of conferences that I would like to speak at. Every now and then, I visit their websites to see if they are taking speaker submissions. If there is a conference that I am particularly eager to participate in, I will personally email the organizer with a proposal of a talk that I would like to share at their event, specifically tailoring it to their audience’s needs and interests. Remember — you’ll never get what you don’t ask for!
How do you normally work with clients or customers?
Alexia: I have corporate clients who I present keynotes and trainings for, provide mentorship to entrepreneurs and thought leaders seeking to develop their speaking careers (through private coaching and masterminds-meet-transformational retreats, or MasterTreats), run several face-to-face communication and leadership development programs, and I have two digital speaking programs (and more coming!) including Your Spotlight Talk.
Nicole: Keynote talks and in-person workshops (the smallest I’ve done was 5 people and the largest was almost 200).
How did you decide how to set your pricing when you were starting out?
Alexia: I make all of my speaking decisions based on my business goals. If an opportunity is purely transactional, for example a keynote or corporate training, it’s a multiple 4 or 5 figure fee (depending on the scope of work). If I am speaking and have the opportunity to enroll audience members in my own programs, then I make sure that the audience is the right fit and right size to say “yes” to my offer – and the fee I get becomes significantly less important.
Jess: At first I was really confused by how expensive speakers are. In my mind, people were paying huge sums of money for only an hour of their time. But one of my speaker friends explained it to me in that the client isn’t just paying for the one hour you’re speaking on stage. They’re paying for every moment in your life that got you to that point. So now when I’m charging a client, I know that they’re paying for all the lessons and stories I’ve been through in order for me to be a speaker, not just the time on stage.
Nicole: Oof, this was a tough one for me. As a woman and a former non-profit worker, I have had to overcome a number of limiting beliefs about my worth and my ability to earn money doing things that come naturally to me. I will never forget the first time I made four figures giving a talk — I waited a whole week before cashing the cheque because I was convinced that they would somehow realize that they had made a mistake and ask for their money back! (They didn’t.)
That aforementioned gig was my very first keynote talk. I hadn’t yet established pricing, so I chose to ask them about their budget, and, once I had that information, named a price that I thought would be fair for all involved. Now that I have been speaking for a year, I have a handful of what I call “base talks” that I customize based on a client’s needs, but if I am being asked to develop an entirely new talk on a different topic, I will take that into account when I give them my quote.
What are some great resources for people looking to learn more about your industry?
Alexia: I’m pretty fond of my programs, Your Spotlight Talk and Your Spotlight Workshop, wink wink. Through my action-oriented videos, templates and cheat sheets, group coaching calls and membership community, I enable anyone interested in speaking the opportunity to develop the know-how at a price point she can afford. Two of my favorite books are Talk Like TED: The 9 Public-Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds and Transformational Speaking. They really get to the heart of how to not just speak, but to do it in a way that transforms lives.
Jess: I love watching TED and TEDx talks, just like the rest of the world. But think about the ones you really liked or the ones where you hung on every word. What about that talk resonated with you? Was it their personal stories? Their humor? Their audience engagement? If you can start to understand why you like certain speakers more than others, you can better learn the traits yourself.
What is something that someone getting started in your type of business would be surprised to hear?
Jess: Speaking isn’t just about your story, your delivery or your messages. It’s about solving a problem. After hearing your talk, what is the audience walking away with? What did you fix or change? You could have an awesome story about how you saved an elephant and rode it into the sunset, but if there’s no application then you’re not serving your audience. When you want to speak, don’t just think about the topic, think about the issue you’re solving.
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Solopreneurship is an amazing thing. We pour our hearts, souls, and every ounce of hustle we have into building the business of our dreams — one that both fulfills us financially and emotionally. We work day-in and day-out, often from dawn to dusk (and sometimes from dusk to dawn…) to make it work so we can enjoy the freedom and the choice that come from being our own boss.
But there’s a certain kind of One Woman Shop that often goes underappreciated: the mompreneur. The ladies hustling to make the baby that is their business work, while also taking care of their real babies, whether they’re two months, two years, or 20.
Seeing that we’re just a few days away from celebrating moms the world over, we thought it was a perfect time to chat with a few of our fellow solo business owners — who just happen to also be mompreneurs — and ask a simple question:
What are your must-haves for successfully managing motherhood and your solo business?
Here’s what they had to say:
“Be brave: ask for time, space, support, and babysitting from your family, friends, and community; try a short and sweet daily meditation practice; add a little movement and nature to your day; read empowering books; and approach it all with self-compassion and humor. I could name specific tips and technology but, truly, I create by using these simple practices in tandem.” – Julie Fiandt, Create in Tandem
“My monthly planner (both paper and digital), byRegina’s Epic Blog calendar combined with my WordPress editorial calendar, and a (kiddo-free) scheduled planning day each month to automate my recurring tasks and get administrative work done. I became a solopreneur so I could stay home with my (now three-year-old) son and the only way for me to stay balanced is for me to keep a healthy dose of realism.” – Desiree Jester, A Place to Nest
“My must-haves are intuition and action. I successfully manage motherhood and my business by acting on my intuition without delay. No second guessing, no doubt, no fear.” – Lisa Ball, Mompreneur Assistant
“I’ve found that is it essential for me to 1) know my priorities, 2) have a good handle of how much time I can spend on my business and the corresponding, realistic output I can demand from myself (currently loving the Pomodoro technique to maximise my time), and 3) have clear boundaries with my son over when Mama’s work hours are. (Shushing the Mommy Guilt that may crop up whenever I have to say no to that sad puppy dog face!)” – Joy Ycasiano-Dejos, Mommy Proofing Coaching
“For me, it’s a constantly updated to-do list. Because I know that I may only have 10 or 15 minutes in which to get a quick work item done, I have to have a really clear, prioritized menu of tasks available at my fingertips. I use the Bullet Journaling method to keep my to-do list organized and up-to-date.” – Amy Simpkins, Life Architecting
“I’m still figuring things out since my baby is only eight months old, but I couldn’t do it without my husband’s support. He takes care of baby when he gets home from work so I can have all afternoon to work and makes sure I have everything I need to focus on getting things done.” – Lilly Garcia, LillyGarcia.com
“My email, Google calendar, and Facebook are indispensable for managing my mompreneur life. They keep me organized and focused in regard to scheduling, blog ideas, communication with others, and client work.” – Jennifer Lopez, Live Simply, Live Thrifty, Live Savvy
“My iPhone — if it is not in my phone calendar, it does not happen; Dropbox — I can see my files on the go whether I am waiting at sports warm-ups or in the dance lobby; my planner from Target — I need to visually SEE what the heck is going on, too! Finally, peppermint pedicures — It is one of the things I do for myself where no can talk to me. I don’t take my phone and I just relax in the moment.” – Sang D, http://www.Sangtastik.com
“Reliable humans! Since welcoming baby, I’ve added a team member to my business and regular baby care at home, both of which I consider indispensable.” – Laura Simms, Create as Folk
“Designated office/work time and reliable child care to help make that happen. As a mother of three, knowing when I can answer emails, add items to our online shop, and correspond with clients and colleagues is a must. Knowing that the kiddos are well taken care of sets me at ease and therefore helps make a happier, more productive work environment.” – Veronica Staudt, Vintage Meet Modern
“While I rely a lot on tools like Wunderlist and Pocket to help me keep track of to-dos and resources, my true must haves are flexibility and community. Children are constantly growing and changing, and I try to build some wiggle room into my schedule while still remaining reliable for my clients. And I love my community of mompreneurs to bounce ideas off of, relate to, and be inspired by.” – Nikkita Cohoon, nikkita.co
“Focus. I manage my day with the WIN concept — “What’s Important Now.” It’s all about fully dedicating your precious attention to the task in front of you, no distractions. That way you know whatever you’ve done, you’ve done well and with intention.” – Melissa Bolton, TheMogulMom.com
“You know the saying “it takes a village”? Well that is definitely the case here, and a few go-to apps help too. First, I’m very, very lucky to have a husband who is willing to take on a good share of the parenting and household management. We use Cozi for scheduling, to do lists (we keep a permanent “travel prep list” for our road trips) and shopping lists. For my solo business, I use Redbooth plus a couple of paper planners (Passion Planner and The Day Designer). Gotta go, my turn for bedtime routine!” – Rachel Formaro, Blu Pagoda
“My biggest tip is having a good support system, I couldn’t work on my business without my husband sharing our family responsibilities. I also separate work stuff from home stuff. I have set working hours, during which I ignore the house (ok, I might do a load of laundry, because as we know, there is always laundry!), and when my son and husband are at home, I work really hard on focusing on family stuff. I’d also be lost without my Filofax planner, which helps me to keep up with everything.” – Francine Clouden, Callaloo Soup
“I am a runner and making time to run helps to keep me mentally fit, and allows me to have much needed me-time for about an hour every morning. We spend so much time worrying about our clients, families, and other responsibilities, it can be easy to lose sight of the importance of just making time for yourself.” – Nancy Laws, Afro-Chic Mompreneur
“Two things: 1. You don’t have to answer e-mails in the evening or late into the night. Put down the phone and make some time to snuggle with your babies. This is sometimes hard to do, but I love the snuggle time. 2. Schedule your work day around your children. I wait to start my work until my son is ready and off to school; I then take a break to pick him up from school. That way we get some special time together.” – Katie Radke, KR Creative Designs
A huge thanks to the mompreneurs sharing their secrets with us!
Fellow mompreneurs: what’s on your must-have list? Tell us in the comments below.