Episode 81: How getting into the media can grow your audience
Kelly: Yeah, I really came to the belief that every entrepreneur needs systems to do their best work and to do what they love because too many times when we’re beginning, we just make it up as we go along; we try things, it doesn’t work: we try things, they work great. We don’t know why it works and creating the system for why this is working and how to duplicate it really takes you from being an amateur to the professional level and what I try to remind people of is that companies like Amazon, companies like McDonalds, companies like Banks, they know what works, they know what advertising works, they know what promotions work and they do it over and over again because they have a Board of Directors and shareholders that want them to be successful and if you want to, not necessarily start a big corporation, but if you want to get the same kind of consistent success, increasing your income, or even just decreasing your stress and having more flexibility to do what you want to do and not be tied down, you’ve got to have a system for all those things that you do; it allows you to delegate, it allows you to go on vacation or have maternity leave and it really gives you more freedom because systems aren’t about putting yourself in a box and you’re a machine; it’s about giving you structure so that you’re not spending an hour trying to figure out how to respond to a client question, or spending half a day writing a blogpost because you know you need to do it but you’re just so lost every time you try that it takes ages. And systems will really help with everything that you do.
Nicky: Yep, excellent. I think that’s how I felt; I was able to grow my business because I could automate it but also I could delegate: that was the biggest thing for me. I just didn’t know what to delegate because I was just…I didn’t even know how I did things because I just automatically did it. I knew that there was particular images I used all the time were in my Downloads folder on my computer and I’m thinking, well, no one else can find that if they need it, if something happened, so I think for me, setting that up was amazing. So, how did you get to creating this? What was your background to create She’s Got Systems?
Kelly: Well I say I was kind of born into it because my Dad’s an engineer and we had rules about how to pack the car for vacation and how to do this and how to do that and he was very structured in the way he liked things done so I very early on was just a very organised kid and I liked having a process for studying or if my friends and I were going to an out of city baseball game, I was the one organising everything, so that came very naturally to me but when I started working for entrepreneurs, I was working as an assistant, which I’d done in the corporate world and worked in a lot of different departments and I just saw that these companies I was working for, seven figure, well-known entrepreneurs, had a complete disaster behind the scenes. I would watch it from the outside and be like, wow, they’re so polished and they’re so amazing and then when I was on the team I’d be like, everything’s on fire: what is going on here?
They would announce things that they’d never set up emails for; they’d say, hey, we’re doing this master-mind and there was no sales page, there was no order page; no one had any idea what was going on and I realised that so many of the entrepreneurs were great at promoting themselves and looking polished and getting out there and then behind the scenes, their team was miserable. Their teams were freaking out, they were constantly worried and I got to the point where an entrepreneur I worked for, the accountant called me about my time card and I thought there was a mistake, like I’d added something wrong, I was like, what’s up, what do I need to fix?
And the accountant said, you can’t keep working like this; you’re going to kill yourself. You’re working seventy, eighty hours a week and I was like…wait, this was supposed to be my escape from working too much and to get out of that corporate rat race and I put myself right back in it because I was trying to solve all the problems for my client, so I started building systems so that the original intention as this kind of Project Manager, Operations Manager was that I could write the system and we’d hire someone to take over that part of my job and then I would not have to do eighty hours a week. I was like, great.
And then after a while it just became apparent that the entrepreneur didn’t want to hire anyone, didn’t want to pay anyone, but I had fallen in love with the fact that, oh, I have this system; I know it works, I’ve been doing it, now I can hand it off and so that’s when I started She’s Got Systems as a way to say, I built these systems, I know that they work, I know they’re amazing and I can scale them up to a million dollar company or scale them down to a start-up but what I needed was the buy-in from the owner, the CEO, to say yeah, I can’t keep doing it all on my own, or I can’t rely on that one employee in my business to do it all, we really have to have a great system and then we can have great people run that system.
Nicky: Yup, excellent. And I think even just the way that you’ve created your business, like having online programs available so that people who are still in that start-up phase who haven’t got their systems in place can afford to do it, take on your knowledge, but not have to hire you specifically to come in because they may not be at that stage but I definitely think that for me, before we met, I was at a stage where I didn’t want to hire someone, I didn’t want them to see the mess that it was all in. I didn’t want them to come and see that so I was embarrassed how I was running my business whereas now I love it, so I was even showing some people in our little group about how I’ve done my Google site which was one of the big things that I learned from you is setting that up…
Nicky: Yeah, that was…and I keep updating that so I’ve got little videos, but I also took your tip, which I have to let you know that, where I wrote down all of the things that I was doing all of the time and I did some screen-flow videos of how I did each task and then saved them in a folder and then got my VA to go and watch those and type the step-by-step out, so she learned it really well by doing that; I didn’t have to go and sit down and type it all out, so for me that was like a big change which meant that I could have people coming in and not being totally embarrassed with what they were going to see.
Kelly: That’s a great way to do it, yes.
Nicky: So, once you’ve got that going, so you had this client and then you started up your website, how did you get more clients and how did you grow your platform using online marketing?
Kelly: Well, I was working with a coach at the time, I think overall it was a good experience because I learned a lot about how I didn’t want to behave as a coach, as a facilitator, all of those things, so there was a lot of things I was told to do and I did that just didn’t work. Article marketing was one, it was very 2002 advice: write a post on your blog and then go put it on all these other sites and people will read it and come back to your blog. No. No one did. I would get these reports that were like, your articles have been viewed four times this month, and it was just so depressing, I was like, gee, that was a waste of time and it didn’t work so I would do things and give it a good shot and then keep what worked, so one thing that really helped, I think, establish in the very beginning was consistency.
In the beginning I was blogging sometimes twice a week, just trying to get a base of articles and now I just do it very consistently, weekly because people can rely on that and one of the things that frustrates me when I’m looking to hire someone is, if I go to their site and I can’t tell if they’re still running this business or not.
They could be extremely busy with clients or behind the scenes but if they’re not a presence then I’ve no idea if they’re there and I kind of relate this to if you go to your favourite restaurant and every other time you go there for dinner, they’re closed, randomly. It’s Tuesday, it’s 6.00pm, why are they closed?
But they don’t have posted hours and they don’t have any web presence, you just have to go there and very few people would drive to a restaurant in the hope that it would be open and that’s the thing is, people will stop coming to your website if every other time they come there, there’s nothing new; there’s no new content and it’s just there and it’s just the thing, so being really consistent with content was helpful. I did videos a lot more in the beginning.
How did you get in the New York Times?
The biggest thing that really helped me was visibility through interviews and guest posting and translating that into media. I’m in this amazing group that gives me a lot of connections to media and so at this point I’ve probably done over three hundred interviews or contributions and it started off with US News, Forbes, Huffington Post, and within about a year and a half, I had been featured in the New York Times.
Kelly: And that was huge just to raise the visibility because you also get ranked higher on Google when you have amazing sites like the New York Times linking to you as legitimate, so that was great and I can’t tell you how many times people would see me in a media article, come to my website through the by-line, start going through stuff on my website and then contacting to work together. Or they’d call me up and say, I heard you on this podcast, how can we work together? And that allowed me to really clearly see that getting out there and being featured by people who were respected really did a lot of the work for me, I didn’t have to spend all this time qualifying people and trying to get them to agree with me that this was necessary: they came in pre-qualified and that made my job so much easier.
I had somebody who was giving me some old, out-dated advice that wasn’t actually currently working, that I listened to because I didn’t know any other so when I started in 2012 I pretty much prioritised getting interviews and getting featured. Sometimes it’s just by peers because you don’t know who’s watching their podcast and sometimes you’re trying to get in front of as many people as possible and I will say that the response really varied based on the size of the audience and where it was featured. I did a few of what I called vanity interviews which is when somebody flatters you and they’re like, I’d love to have you, you’re so amazing; you’re like, of course! And then the interview never goes out because they actually don’t have a podcast, they just want to talk with you and you’re like, OK, what happened buddy? And they’re like, oh, I didn’t know how to edit the audio, and you want to strangle them because you spent this time preparing and showing up and you’re ready to promote it and they just wanted to chat and there wasn’t an audience there, so I learned form that and I had to really qualify better and make sure that I’m talking to someone I respect,
I’m talking to someone who has an audience, who has…it’s great to talk to people but the whole goal of it is to amplify that message to thousands more people. And sometimes you get great media and there won’t be a good response to it; sometimes the smallest little thing I would do in media would get syndicated fifteen times, and it was just surreal because it was 2012 that I really started picking up with media and that was when New York Times and all that and I remember once I was on Facebook and I saw this article and I was like, man, I’ve written articles just like that…now I want to rebut this person and I opened up the link and it was my own article and it had just been syndicated to a new site with a slightly different title so I was like, hey, who wrote that article? Oh, it’s me! Yay!
It was just kinda surprising because when you get served ads or suggested posts that end up being your content, you know it’s working because you know the message that you’re saying has leverage and it has resonance and my best advice with that, if you’re starting out is, don’t be boring. Don’t be saying the same five things that every other expert is saying. Be, not controversial for the sake of controversial; your goal is not to make people hate you, but say things that other people aren’t willing to say.
The reason I got in the New York Times is because I said that one of the reasons the first entrepreneur I worked for that I was doing seventy hours a week is because the co-workers I had with children would take advantage of that and say, well I’ve got something with my kid tonight, Kelly has to do it. And because I was willing to share about how my not having kids meant I got more work and how that was good and bad, they were like, oh, that’s brilliant, we want to hear that. Very few people are willing to be honest. So, be honest about what you’re sharing but don’t be afraid to be a little more bold and controversial because especially these days where content is created so fast, if you’re writing the same thing that everyone else is doing, don’t waste your time.
Nicky: Yeah, yeah. And so one of the last questions I like to ask all of my experts that are coming on is, I guess, giving your top three tips which you’ve pretty much shared, so I guess, could you just summarise what you did, the top three things that worked and also can you just include how you took advantage of those media opportunities: where did you send the traffic, what did you do with it?
Kelly: Yeah. So, all the media that I did was always sending traffic back to my site which had a really optimised home page and sourcing so that when people landed, they knew immediately what I was about and where they could get support. The other thing I did was, in my newsletter consistently for five, six years, every week in the newsletter would have a link to media. So, even if people weren’t seeing that media, they knew I was getting media every week.
A simple tip…
We put it out on social media, we also would, if we’re doing it on Twitter, we’re making sure to tag other people who are featured in the article and then just doing some follow-ups and simple…I sent thank-yous a lot: thank you for including me or thank you for having me on your podcast because very few people do that; they’re just off to the next opportunity: acknowledging it and making sure it’s kinda wrapped into this system of…we have a spreadsheet by year of where the media came from and what the link was so we can re-cycle it, and featuring that on my site. So, I think for my three tips is, whatever you end up doing, whatever will work for your business, be consistent with it. It won’t work if you just give up after three weeks because you haven’t seen a ten thousand dollar client come through the door. But they will in time and kind of related to that, you have to measure and find out if it’s working.
If you aren’t sure, then it’s very easy to give up but I say it’s kinda like if you’re playing darts blindfolded and drunk and you’re just throwing arrows at things and your darts are going everywhere. You don’t know what you’re hitting if you can’t even see where you want to go. And then the third tip would be that you have to be willing to plant lots of seeds. There’s this great saying I love that the day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit, but if you plant the seed and you nurture it and you keep planting seeds, they’ll grow and bloom and produce, but if you’re only doing one thing, planting one seed in a field and walking away because it didn’t’ grow, and you just have to be up to nurture those seeds and one of the reasons I did three hundred pieces of media and I was out there on a lot of different platforms is because I didn’t know which was going to be the most viral, I didn’t know what was going to grow the fastest, so I did the work, I planted lots of seeds, I kept up with that and then they started to produce.
And they don’t always produce immediately but that’s marketing; you don’t market because you need a client today, you market because you need a client in three months and five months and seven months and that patience is really hard to learn. I think the people who can’t get their head around it usually go back to some kind of job situation where they work this week, they get paid on Friday because they need immediate gratification. Entrepreneurs think differently and they know that they’re doing a lot of work now that is going to pay off in the next year, three years and just adopting that mindset’s really helpful because you start thinking long-term and I’m really, really thankful that when I started all of this in 2011, I didn’t give up because 2011 was not a banner year in terms of income and features and clients, but every year it’s grown. But there were seeds that I planted in 2011, 2012 that paid off in 2015.
Nicky: Yep, wow, those tips are brilliant! Thank you! I think a lot of the time people are like, oh, what’s the next software I could download or the next thing I need to learn on Facebook, but I love that yours is about consistency, finding that direction and just constantly planting those seeds, that’s really good, so thank you, thank you so much for coming on…
Kelly: You’re welcome.
Nicky: I’m so…I was so honoured that you said you’d come on today because I’ve learned so much from you so I do credit a lot of the growth in my business to everything I learned from you because I know that at the retreat two years ago, you did spend a lot of time with me, helping me build up that maternity leave plan which I put in place and I did get my time off which was brilliant.
Kelly: And you weren’t even pregnant at the time, which was hilarious.
Nicky: No! I’m a planner!
Kelly: Yeah, but you knew you wanted to and I had clients who came to me like that and they’ve said, I’d like to be able to go to the hospital and not worry about my clients and that is such an amazing thing so whether it’s something like maternity or you just want a vacation or you think some day you might retire, the systems will really help you get there because it is, it’s about building this life for yourself; it’s not more systems so you can work harder.
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