What does it really take to make your own business, to be a self-made blogger-turned-entrepreneur in today's economy?
Three budding businesswomen share their trials, tribulations and successes, proving that when it comes to business inspiration, you don't have to look further than the blogging world.
It seems like bloggers, particularly female bloggers, are taking the business world by storm. Have you noticed this trend too? We are seeing more and more leaders in the community step up and take the skills they've learned while blogging and apply them in their businesses. Katie Rodgers, freelance illustrator, thinks
It's truly a fascinating community that enables people to do things. Beyond that, we've seen so many bloggers build businesses from the ground up that it inspires us to believe we can too.
Whatever the case may be, these blogging ladies are definitely ones-to-watch if you are looking for business role models. From the long nights to the endless emails, we recently sat down with three fashion/lifestyle bloggers-turned-entrepreneurs who have paved their own career paths and asked what insight they could provide the rest of us self-made business dreamers.
From blog to business, making the transition to businesswoman was actually easier for these three ladies, considering they had a viable consumer ready to target and, most importantly, the passion fueling their creative endeavors. PaperFashion's Katie Rodgers says, “Before my blog, I wasn't exactly sure what I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to design, and work creatively, but I hadn't found my niche yet. I studied industrial design, but then decided to pursue my passion for the fashion and apparel industry. I landed myself a job in apparel design, and began Paperfashion as a creative outlet for my love of fashion illustration. My blog eventually led me to pursue fashion illustration full time, and from there my business was born.”
In addition to passion, the advantage that bloggers have over other entrepreneurs is, without a doubt, their audience. A community has already been established and cultivated thanks to their blogging efforts and Mackenzie Horan states that because of this community, she felt even more confident than she had imagined.
I would never have launched this business venture if it weren't for my blog. I had been blogging for two and a half years before I went into business. Knowing that I had an audience of amazing young women who would rally around my new venture gave me the courage I needed to take that leap of faith.
Juggling both blogging and business:
Blogging deadlines, business meetings, content development, advertising. It's easy to get bogged down with the endless to-dos that come from blogging but imagine having to juggle a business at the same time? Sounds impossible but with detailed calendars, mobile applications and, let's be honest, long nights, it is possible to do both blogging and work at the same time. The secret? Staying flexible, being prepared and being connected. Rodgers opens up about this struggle and says,
For a while, I found it difficult to find the balance between being an artist and a blogger in the beginning. There were days when I felt like I was rushing to finish a piece just so I have something to post the next day. I'm learning to take my time, and post when I'm truly happy with a piece. My heart is in my blog, so even if it's overwhelming between the business tasks and creating the artwork, I love the feeling I get from posting a new piece.
How does Horan handle both her lifestyle/design blog and growing business? She states,
I carry a notebook with me everywhere so I can jot down ideas for blog posts as they come to me and write them in advance so I have something ready each morning (which still doesn't always happen!). The business is what occupies the bulk of my day — calling vendors, responding to customer service emails, packing orders, etc… Luckily I love both blogging and managing my business so I don't mind that I can't squeeze everything into a 9-5 schedule.
For Carrie Hammer, it's all about utilizing her devices while running from meeting to meeting. She credits social media, mobile apps and detailed organization for keeping her focused and on-task.
Overcoming Business Struggles:
The hardest parts about starting a business for all three of these women were learning the more basic business skills, drumming up buzz and creating publicity around their products.
For Rodgers, the biggest struggle has been about keeping up with the daily operational side of her business. “My biggest struggle was, and still is, the business side of things! It's not something I studied, so I've been learning the ropes as I go along. Between keeping track of expenses, taxes, legal documents, and a million other things… it can be quite overwhelming. I'm slowly getting the hang of things, and I'm sure in time it will get easier,” she says.
Hammer says, “The biggest struggle when I first started my business was getting the word out. I eventually overcame (this challenge) by crafting a story around my line, using friends and family as evangelists, and getting the first 1-2 pieces of press that spiraled into much much more press. Once you start to get momentum it all begins to fall in line.”
Business Lessons from Blogging:
From social media tactics to relationship-building skills, these three ladies have learned invaluable business skills, helping them in all their business pursuits. Horan states, Blogging has made me more decisive — I've learned to recognize exactly what I like and how to express it in writing.”
For Rodgers, blogging has been all about connections and relationships.
It's given me a way to connect with my audience and build a relationship. Whether that relationship is based on business, inspiring other artists, or teaching a few tips and tricks to my art, those connections give me insight on how to expand what I do. Blogging has also connected me with some incredible people who have inspired me and guided me as I grow.
Future Plans for 2013:
With the new year around the corner, these three businesswomen are looking to go bigger and expand their businesses, making 2013 an exciting one to watch. For Hammer, 2013 will be all about expanding her brand. “I am expanding the line from completely made-to-measure and adding ready to wear pieces and accessories. 2013 is going to be a hugely exciting year… The best one yet!” she says.
Horan is planning on the more tactical business projects that are an essential part of her business, from marketing to public relations. “In 2013 I'm hoping to coordinate my first photo shoot styling products from my boutique (besides all the Instagramming I do on a daily basis). I'm also speaking on a panel at Alt Summit about launching an online shop which is really exciting both personally and professionally.”
Rodgers, on the other hand, is thinking about the bigger picture for her business. “This next year is a fresh start for me to develop my business and art even further. I plan on branching out much more than I have in the past… both product- wise, and content-wise,” she says.
Want To Go Out On Your Own?
Thinking of making your own business leap but feeling like it is one impossible feat? Don't let your fear overwhelm your desire to start on your own business path. These ladies have a few pieces of wisdom that are sure to leave you inspired. Hammer says, “Think long-term. Know it won't happen right away. Surround yourself with people you like and admire.”
For Horan, she believes that “Nothing is impossible. If you'd told me my senior year of college that I'd be running a successful online business within a year of graduation I'd have laughed it off.” Her advice to aspiring businesswomen? “Believe in what you bring to the table and connect with other people who see that same value, you can absolutely do anything you set your mind to.”
Rodgers echoes the other two ladies' sentiments, stressing that taking risks is what this life is all about. She quotes T.S. Eliot, saying,
“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”– T. S. Eliot
The bottom line for all aspiring business-owners? Stay focused, reach out to the local community, learn from your peers, always be open to learning new skills and don't be intimidated.