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Social School by Blank Page Marketing
50 minutes | Jan 1, 2015
Episode 3: A Conversation With Wes Hoffman & Vern Ross
An informal conversation with Wes Hoffman & Vernon Ross. Apologies for the audio quality. We were testing new equipment - but we cleaned it up as much as possible because of the gems we hope you get out of this podcast. Today, we're talking about how to overcome social awkwarded from social media/digital space to real world, and our personal experiences being a digital brand, and networking in the real world. Wes is the founder of Treehouse Networkshop, and a man of pure genius. Get out to a Treehouse Event as soon as you can to pick his brain and see what makes him tick. www.TreehouseNetworkshop.com. Follow him on Twitter @Treehousenetwrk. Vernon Ross is also known as @RossPR. He is fearless, brilliant and a great friend of mine from the board of Social Media Club. Check him out at http://vernonross.com/ to learn more about his work and to subscribe to his podcast.
18 minutes | Nov 10, 2014
Ep 2: 4 Lessons learned from one year in small business
Danni takes a look back at four lessons learned at one year anniversary mark for Blank Page Marketing. 4 Lessons Learned from One Year in Small Business: AUDIO TRANSCRIPTION Please excuse any typos as this was completed with audio dictation. Welcome to Social School. My name is Danni Eickenhorst, and today we’re going to talk about the first year of a small business. I wanted to talk a little bit about Blank Page Marketing, because last week we hit the one year mark for Blank Page and it was a really meaningful moment for our business and our team. Next week, we get to have a party and celebrate (because I’m big on celebrating milestones). It really got me thinking about the sharable lessons that I’ve gotten from my first year as an entrepreneur and what would I share with others thinking about taking some of the same steps. A little bit of background, when I first decided to go out on my own it was 2007 and I had my own company, and the first time around it was mostly content focused. I’ve been given some freelancing copywriting and SEO writing things from people in my life, professors and friends and I realized that you can make some money with it. I tried my hand at writing content for a living and I found that it was a really really hard and one of the things that I did that certainly didn’t make my first year any easier was inviting friends and acquaintances to jump in on projects with me, thinking I could blend these great friendships with doing what I love professionally. Despite the number of gifted and talented people I folded in there to work with me, it was a matter of me realizing that I’m not a great supervisor; I have really high expectations of people and I don’t always communicate what I want very well. I’m much more of a big picture dreamer and much less of a tactical kind of manager. I’m happy to get in the zone and code out something on my own or execute a big project on my own, and I like working collaboratively in teams but for some reason supervising is not my thing. I find that I don’t like being viewed as the Almighty Overlord of the project and I really didn’t know how to manage at that point in my life. So, I ultimately took a contract that turned into employment and left that behind. At that time, that was a really good choice then. A few years, later after having got a lot more supervision under my belt and learning how to empower people that work with me and how to support them in their own creative rights without feeling like a terrible supervisor, I thought, “You know, I’ve worked with some really creative people. I really do enjoy the freedom of working for myself and it’s time to approach this idea once again to see if I can make it work.” I’ve had the good fortune at this point where I decided to make the jump working with some amazing amazing people in my career, who I knew would deliver quality work and to live up to my expectations and who I would also enjoy working with, who were incredible professional and so far it’s been really great. I announced my big change through LinkedIn and social media and it was really well received, it was scary doing that because you don’t know what people are going to think if they’re going to support you, if they’re going to ask you if you’re crazy because you got kids and all these things, but it was a great response. And most of my first year of business I can draw a line back to the moment that I announced on social media. A quick shout out to Janice Branham who was one of my first clients that took a chance on me and saw the work that I’d done up until that point and gave me a shot to work with the Oasis Institute nationally to help them with their strategy and various projects. I’ve been so grateful because this year so many people have supported the work that we’re doing and I certainly wouldn’t be talking here today on a Monday in the middle of the morning to you guys if it wasn’t for them. So, I would say the first thing that I learned this year was that being socially authentic can pay off. Lesson #1: Being socially authentic can help grow your small business I was worried; I guess I’ve always been a bit of an overshare on social media. Most of you probably already know that I’m never going to run for political office any day soon because it’s already out there, everything I’ve ever thought I probably tweeted or blogged. So it never occurred to me not to share every step along the way of growing a small business and at one point my friend Jen pointed out that that was kind of a gutsy move on my part sharing each and every client we got because people would be watching and if we failed they’d see that too. But pretty much every contract we’ve gotten this year I’ve shared that on social media because I’m truly excited to jump into these products and I’m really thankful to the people that have chosen to put their faith in our work and so all along the way we kind of announced when we start with someone and people watch the work that we’re doing and luckily we don’t fail so far and we haven’t had that situation arise yet and so we’re good to go. I think that we’ve been really authentic and open this year about the highs and the lows and there’s nothing more emotionally draining I’d suppose than owning your own business but at the end of the day I can’t imagine doing anything else. So, I’m a big believer in gratitude and celebrating every milestone along the way and so we have done that very publicly with everybody and in this beautiful way people have gotten behind us and really been rallying team for us. People that I really respect and whose work I really admire has come out and offered to do work with us, people who I have long wanted to work with have also hired us for projects and so what a year it’s been. So I would say the first lesson right out the gate that we learned was just being open and honest and sharing our experience, not everything has to be sugar coated we certainly haven’t aired any dirty laundry. There are days where it’s a little more difficult than other days and you know we ask for help on those days and we throw out our questions and we seek support, we’re never afraid to ask questions we’re growing a business like so many people before you, and people want to know what that’s like because so many of you are also considering something similar and if we can share some of our wisdom, our experiences along the way and help you avoid a stumbling block or get you in a stronger position when you’re a year into your small business, then that’s totally worth it because we ’ve had the benefit of learning from people like Seth Godin and some of the other thought leaders that have written it down or developed their own book and everybody’s experience in launching a business is going to be uniquely different. There are some common threads that you and I have that perhaps I can help you get a little farther, a little faster with fewer headaches. Lesson #2: Learn to value your time it was pretty quick out of the gate that I had my first request for a cup of coffee and pick my brain and all that I normally would get. And it was really difficult for me to say no because when somebody comes to you and they’ve got a non-profit campaign and they need some help or a small business and big dreams and to say no to that it’s really hard, those are my people. And so I had to and I would blame it on my husband because that’s the way I was most comfortable doing it and it was the truth and I promised my husband that when we went out on our own and I made a go at this business, I would point every minute of my time into this business and so if I’m going to give you advice or strategy I am going to have to charge you for it and I’m sorry to do that. And so some of the people that came and asked me and I had to turn away were very very understanding; in fact I’d say all of them were. Some later told me that they totally respected my ability to say no and they knew that it was difficult for me and others ended up hiring me and those that couldn’t afford to I have since worked into one of our classes giving them a free seat when we’re pretty well booked up and maybe have a chair or two that I can give away. I try not to just fully turn anybody away, I tried to give back where we can or try to connect them with someone that may be could help them. And so valuing my time was a huge lesson this first year. Lesson #3: Do more of what works The third lesson came from Travis a friend of mine who’s brilliant, he worked at the Venture Café Foundation. He is a brilliant consultant, he is exactly who you want to talk to if you’re starting a small business or you want to look up Venture Café and see what support they can provide you. Luckily we’re friends and I was able to sit with him for a while and chat and the advice he gave me is funny, it’s the kind of advice I’d probably give a client but I couldn’t see it for myself. He said, “Okay, so here we are this far into your business. If you were to put the sources of your client onto a pie chart, what would that look like? How much comes from your website and SEO? How much comes from social media? How much comes from word-of-mouth?” When he said that, I had this moment where I thought, “How did I not see that nearly all of our business comes from word-of-mouth or happy clients that either come back or referred someone?” We don’t really get a ton of new business off of social media or our website. We keep those up because we want to share our journey and we definitely use those channels to showcase our knowledge and also to pass on knowledge that authentically help people who want to do for themselves. But it was near 100% of our business was just from happy customers or people that had worked with me previously in my career and that was a huge wake a m
18 minutes | Aug 22, 2014
Episode 1: Ridiculously Simple Questions You Should Ask Yourself About Your Marketing Strategy
Marketing continuing education for professionals. In today's episode, we tackle the top questions you should ask yourself about your marketing strategy - whether you're already underway or about to kick off. For more about Blank Page Marketing, visit www.BlankPageSTL.com. Tweet questions and feedback to us at @BlankPageSTL. Find Danni on Twitter at @STLDanni. Social School podcast listeners qualify for a 10% discount off of any of our online courses by using code SSPODCAST at http://socialschool.pathwright.com. Limit 1 per person.
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