When It's Time to Spend Money to Market Your Work


Alli Worthington
Lyz Lenz
Paula Gregorowicz
Sarah Caron

Paula: I am the owner of the Paula G. company and I help pluck women off the hamster wheel of self-doubt to build a successful business. I'm also a career editor at BlogHer.

Lyz: I'm a blogger and freelance writer, Forbes, Redbook and Babble. I've also worked with a lot of brands as a social media and content consultant, Studio 1 networks, a marketing company. I tell people how to spend their marketing money.

Alli: Co-founder of Blissdom Conference and founder of Blissful magazine. I'm a freelance writer and consulting on the side. I have 5 boys and a tax start-up that will launch soon.

Sarah: I'm a freelance writer. I started out as a news reporter and became a blogger 7 years ago. One blog is on home cooking and raising a healthy family. And then I have a lifestyle blog about living on the beach with my family.

Paula: I want to define what it means to spend money to market your work, it can mean a lot of different things. My definition is your time is worth money, we will talk about that.

Lyz: I see traditional ads, paid SEO, you see all of those things, but also on a smaller level, I consider spending money anything you do that takes your time -- your time is money. I consider writing a guest post as at least $50. When I pitch media outlets, I look at how long did that take me? I calculate that -- I have a spreadsheet that my husband, an engineer made me -- I break down my time so I'm not spending more than 30% of my time on those marketing efforts. If I pitch and that takes an hour, I take that out of my hourly rate.

Paula: Time is money. Let's talk about the limits you see on doing it all yourself and never spending a time.

Alli: There's a ceiling you hit. As a business grows, you realize you hit a wall unless you invest money or bring in people. Any business has risks, so when you bring in the fear,you realize you can't bigger unless you invest in it. It's a pivotal point in any business woman's life. To acknowledge it's scary and to acknowledge that every woman goes through it is important. Overcoming that is a turning point. It's wise.

Sarah: You only have so many hours you can spend on everything. If you spend everything doing it yourself, you're taking away from the writing and the creation. Investing money in someone else doing it for you gives you back that time.

Paula: You're also taking time away from the things you want outside of your business. Most people become entrepreneurs because there are things that they want outside of business.

Lyz: When you start budgeting and spending, you treat yourself like a business, even if you're in your pi's in front of a computer. That's the moment you see great results. You do that, other people take you seriously.

Paula: Be clear on what you want and what your goals are going to be. What were the signs, Ali, that you talked about, hitting that point that it was time to start investing more money in marking yourself?

S Ali: I had 27 dollars to start a blog. I bought a book on coding and starting a blog. I realized a lot of blogs and traffic doesn't show up automatically. I decided to make jewelry and give it away and that will be my marking. The days weren't long enough--the only marketing was commenting on other blogs. I realized I couldn't do it all, I would never sleep. So that was the big moment I decided to gather resources and get help.

Paula: Not sleeping works for two days at BlogHer, but not a long-term business strategy

Sarah: When I made the jump to a freelance and blogger full-time, I had to prioritize the things that were making me money. When I realized I wasn't Facebook and Twittering enough and not promoting myself, I knew I needed help.

Paula: You make a good point. Marketing is about being consistent and communicating and making a call to action. Put things in place to market yourself. You don't want your last Tweet to have been December 2010. How about your Liz?

Lyz: I barely invest in my clothes. My turning point was, like the plumber with the leaky pipes, I had 500 followers on my Twitter. a lot of it was coming back and taking the things I know how to do and execute for a company and treating myself like a company. I also had a turning point when I was making money and got laid off -- my town got flooded by God -- then I couldn't, we had no food, no houses, our pets heads are falling off. I had to start my own company if I wanted to make money living in a rural area. That was my turning point. I need to make myself a business, stop telling other people what to do and do it for myself. If you are savvy enough to come to a conference, you have already invested in yourself. We know, we are intuitive.

Alli: When I had my blog, I had 3 young children, my first Tweet I was nursing for. I was the classic mommy blogger, stay-at-home mom. I was unfulfilled intellectually, I needed an outlet. I found to be more assertive in taking care of myself by being assertive in taking care of my company. I found my personal voice by finding my voice online. As women, we can't discount the fact that it's harder to take care ourselves and that comes into our company. It's a hill to climb over.

Paula: If you don't take care of yourself, Liz said. Are you doing it? You know a lot, but what are the few things that you are going to focus on? You can't do them all at the same time. You become a hamster, running and running. What are the specific ways you have marketing yourself?

Sarah: I launched Sarah By The Sea a month ago, in doing that I took out ads on other blogs. That' been really useful, I designed them myself. I've done Facebook ads, those are helpful, but you have to take your time in crafting them to make sure they attract the eye. There's a great book -- words that sell -- that get people attention's to click your link or "like."

Paula: How you measure ROI for yourself? You're looking for that.

Sarah: For ads, it's fairly easy to track the clicks from them. Facebook gives you good analytics. I also have an assistant who helps me a couple hours a week. That's a little trickier. But when she takes pressure off, that's a big deal.

Paula: That is a big deal. I have an assistant who runs things for me because things can run when you're not there. Just be aware of what you choose to delegate.

Alli: It's such a different experience, because I started out as a personal blogger. It was by books, reading everything on marketing. That's was my MBA in marketing. Investing in relationships with people, which sounds cheesy. But I started reading blogs and slowly befriended them. People that I've felt genuine relationships with I've built businesses with. We tend to think of networking as cheesy, but networking in this space is very real and honest place to make friends, who down the road you may build your next company with.

Paula: It's relationships online and off.

Alli: As a personal brand, you'll never be successful in the space if you're a jerk in real life. There's a culture in this space.

Paula: Authenticity and being genuine matter. It will come back to get you. Have a high integrity. Sometimes you have difficult conversations.

Lyz: We expect brands to be authentic and honest and kind and know about us, so we should have those standards for ourselves when we are acting as a brand. You are your business and your brand, even if your goal is to have a lovely space on the web, you are still a professional.

Lyz: I do Facebook ads, I love those, there is controversy about them, but I tweeted out a list of resources with my favorite links. Also on the BlogHer website.

Paula: I also made a list of questions to assess your site and if it's time to invest.

Lyz: So, Facebook ads, I pitch traditional pubs and media outlets. I guest post, but for that, choose wisely. Don't guest post for anybody. I also ask to syndicate my stuff other places, on big sites and local newspapers. Just ask for local newspapers, but don't do it for free. Take your old stuff and syndicate. The best ways I have marketed myself have paid me money. I am writing for a local site called Real Moms of Eastern Iowa -- we're so glamorous, it's run by a local hospital, I told they have to pay me. They put me on a billboard and done local interviews, my face is on the glowing thing in the mall. That actually pays me money. It's about making connections with places and invest in the things that you know will be worth it. One of the reasons I write for them is they have a bigger reach than me and a bigger marketing budget. They are the biggest drivers to my site and Facebook right now.

Sarah: How did you make that connection?

Lyz: A lot of my work is in NY, so I was trying to focus back on my community. I have friends on the Internet, but none of them live where I live. So I made it a goal to make connections with the people around me and go to local conferences. When you're at home, with no pants, trolling the internet, you forget your community. In real life, where you are and connecting with those people. So I went to local conferences and got asked to talk to the newspaper and made connections and met people and got asked to do that.

Paula: When you spend your time, it's like spending money. I do a lot of speaking engagements, and that's time. Networking is also time, to have that mindset shift of what that really is. Also, leveraging what you're doing.

Lyz: Also, do something that's gonna get people to pay attention to you. Not like throwing rocks at people on the street corner. We're all doing stuff on our sites, trying to make ourselves better, so take that and and turn that into a marketing tool. I gave up clothes shopping for a year, and now I was on the Huffington Post for that, not wearing pants. Take what you're doing and start being marketing savvy about that. Start pimping yourself.

Audience Question: Darlyin, littlebloggdress, owns a social media and marketing company. I'm at that point where I'm completely, I can't go forward, but I don't know how to make someone inside my brain. What's your experience on hiring an assistant? I have my niece, but it's limited. How do you break through to get an assistant that get inside your brain? I have a problem creatively to make myself better with an assistant. How do you share your creative to make yourself better by hiring an assistant?

Sarah: When I looked for an assistant, before I started the search, I wrote down everything I do and picked what I don't like to do and given them to her. I have her research for me, interview for me, or say, "This is my topic, can you find someone for me?" It was important for me to know what she was going to do before I came to having a person. I have a list of things she could do. Then I asked for referrals to find her and colleagues. I finally put an ad on Craigslist for someone local and got tons of resumes and through the cover letter, found someone similar to me. We clicked. Have a 10 minute conversation where you don't talk business. That's a good tip when looking for an assistant.

Lyz: How did you decide how much to pay her? What kind of percentage did you do her?

Sarah: I budgeted for it. I looked at what I made and what I could afford and then I broke it down. My assistant works 2 hours a week right now and I'm sure it will go up as business grows.

Alli: Whatever you don't like to do, that's what an assistant can do. I hate answering email. It took all of my energy, I hired someone to look in my email and say, "This is what's important," starred and that's what to look at today. Over time, she knows me. It saved me the emotional energy, I stopped being frustrated by opening my inbox. She'll text me if it's an email for someone very important and I'll call her twice a day. I'm so much happier in my business because that's negative emotional energy is gone.

Paula: I have an assistant that I got through a referral. I have her do a variety of things, she also does some creative writing for me. I'll write something and I'll have her pluck out things to create fresh social media things. She's aligned with what I do and she's a good writer and it goes through me. It's been a great perspective for me to get ideas from someone on my market. If you get that right assistant, they can help you with fresh ideas.

Anna Thomas, hahasforhoohass.com. We're at the place, we need to change servers soon. Our traffic is building more than our income and get our house in order. We've already put in a lot of money to set up the site, we've invested a lot and we have al title money coming in. When do you get to the place when you pay back your investments?

Paula: Now that you're getting income, where do you put it?

Lyz: How I decided how much to spend, I spend no more than 5% of what I take in, period. That's a figure I came up with when I set down with my husband. Decide what is marketing to you. I think coming to a conference is marketing. That comes out of my marketing budget. When I spend money on my site, that's not marketing. That's like putting curtains up to me. I look at what I take in and how much money I need to continue what I'm doing and how much I can then turn around and invest into myself. I treat everything like it costs money but not everything is an out-of-pocket expense. I try to be more creative too.

Paula: It depends on how much you want to grow and how much you what to invest in yourself. there's always a risk. Your level of growth, your evolution is always on the other side of your comfort zone. It's important to make a wise choice on what makes the most impact.

Question: girltomom.com. I've paid through marketing by having my link on a successful bloggers site, my traffic site double and stayed. I also started an alter egoon Twitter that has nothing to do with my blog and a lot of men come to my blog. I have a little bit of money to spend, but don't most of us find FB ads annoying? How much does it cost and what are the returns on it?

Alli: If you are blogging and have social media background, you get annoyed. But readers go for it.

Lyz: Facebook have a higher click-through rate than any other ads. They have better, real results than a paid SEO campaign. Again, there is a controversy about that. They have better results for people and gives you return visitors than a SEO, which gives you a one-time infusion of traffic. I've done it before and didn't like it. Spend however much you want, you can pause the ads at any time. We've only spent 10 bucks and had a successful ad run. When I set up the ad, I stop it at $50 and run 6 at a time. I set them up and monitor them every day. You can pause them and stop them when you hit the levels and restart them next month when you have more money. When you bid on Facebook emails, you overbid. You're scared to bid $3 a click, but you won't spend that. You just have to bid that to get in.

Paula: You can also be granular for where your ads going to be appear.

Lyz: Women who are 20-45 is the market, they also have the highest engagement network. That is the social media network for women. That is our target audience.

Question: Vanessa, mykidsreallyeatthis. I wondered about pitching. You mentioned pitching magazines, I've sent emails to a couple of places, saying I have an idea for content…do you have a better way to pitch and making sure you're putting all the right words in there to help them come back to you?

Lyz: I'll refer to a resource, e-book on how to pitch. www.stephauteri.com. Also www.mediabistro.com has great tips, I spend money on a subscription for them.

Paula: Also look at the pitching panel on BlogHer.

Question: What does the term social media consultant mean? I don't have time to Tweet 8,000 times a day. Is it important to have a social media consultant?

Alli: Be wary.

Paula: It's a broad term, it can mean a lot of things. Be clear on what you want them to do. Are they doing the execution or business consulting?

Alli: Ask for an example of a successful campaign. Your money is too valuable to risk it.

Lyz: Watch their feeds, their Facebook. if they're good, they have a blog that gives tips. Ask for referrals. If they're legit, they'll have clients you can too.

Alli: Ask for references.

Lyz: Ask for propels, you're a business.

Question: You mentioned advertising on blogs, how have you found those specific blogs to advertise on?

Alli: I spent a lot of time going on blogs that were related to the ones I wanted to advertise on. I found one, and from there, I found a bunch of related one.

Question: Did you have a blog and then become a coach? Did you spend a lot of money for that transition?

Paula: I was in corporate at the time, I did it part-time and I was blogging that time. I haven't spent money on the blog per se, but invested a lot of money in my own education, everything from books and high-priced coaches. I was blogging and finding my way and I've become more strategic in sharing my message. I love creating the content, but then you need to share it, but the execution of it is like Ally with her email. So now the assistant is doing that for me. I get paid to market sometimes, like I've written for BlogHer. I'm a section editor for BlogHer, so people will call me and ask, can you do this, you're an expert? It's about investing and allowing myself to shine.

Question: Was there any time when you felt so inspired that would help your biz or launch that you found yourself going out of budget and it paid out?

Alli: I've almost personally wrecked my family financially several times. My husband has an MBA and bless him, he puts up with me. When I started the conference, I said we weren't going to make money, but now we make money. So yes, I've been risky and it's paid off. But when you're starting a business, expect not to make money and hopefully it will pay off. The idea that you start a business and then slowly you make some and then it skyrockets. I've had to say I believe in this so much that I am willing to risk it all.

Lyz: It takes 5-7 years for a business start-up to make it profitable.

Paula: A lot of reasons businesses fail is they run out of capital. It doesn't mean don't take step, because life is too precious and short, but be willing to risk and grow because you can't expand if you're shoving yourself in a little box.

Lyz: Look at yourself as a holistic business. I was afraid to market myself. On one hand, I had my writing and on the other, my blog. It took me a while to see I'm not just a writer or a blogger, I am all these things. As a person, I have multiple revenue streams, and as a business, you should and it feeds into a business as a whole. So look at yourself big and broad.

Question: As bloggers you're trying to drive traffic to your site, but any other ideas on where to spend the marketing dollars? I spent money to get the site up, so I want to spend my budget wisely.

Alli: We all have gone in to the space that we're going to build a big blog, drive traffic to it, and then monetize with ads. That may not always be the case. When we're able to say, not driving traffic to one site, but look at is a resume, my billboard to who you are. That morphs into things that you can't even imagine because the internet has endless opportunity. When we are so focused on the idea to driving traffic to one specific url it limits us and don't think about what our biz and brand can bring us in the long-run.

Lyz: Think outside the traffic. Consider a real-life event. Consider your own conference where you get workouts in the park. Consider getting some PR help where you pitching your name to media outlets, helpareporterout.com. Think outside the paid ads and look into real life.

Paula: Sometimes it's the holistic piece, traffic may not be the answer. Would I love boatloads of traffic, yeah, but in the end, you may not need to reach a bazillion people. Be clear about your goals.

Alli: You're not going to pay your mortgage with traffic.

Sarah: Send introductions to reporters, say this is who I am, I want to work with you. Make sure they're paying you if you work with PR people.

Lyz: Eventually. There's flack for PR agencies. They want to get to know you and build relationships and in the community, in the beginning, it's ok to do things for free. And then later, you can provide valuable content and get paid for it.

Question: Blacklisted From The PTA book. Are there ways that help you think big? How do you do that?

Alli: I'm foolish enough to try. I keep meeting people that inspire you. I'm a believer that your trip is who you are gig to be later on. I've had friends that I started businesses with that didn't work, but then I met another friend, and it works. I love challenges, obviously. I keep opening the door to new possibilities, because this space has them.

Paula: Get support, whether you're paying for it or just buddies, because other people will help you to see bigger.

Sarah: Go all the way.

Alli: Unless it's a bad idea. The great thing about the Internet is you can launch something, and if it's bad, it's ok.

Lyz: Stalk them.

Paula: Give yourself permission if you have a bunch of great ideas, you don't have to do them all at once.

Question: I have a Facebook group, Facebook page. Should I create a Facebook profile for my blog?

Lyz: You can't do that anymore. It has to a page. Don't dilute your brand. On the one hand, if you have multiple avenues, it might make sense, but try to keep your brand and business as cohesive as possible. It might make sense to have your Facebook pan for you as a person, and then your activities stream from there.


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