Today, I have the pleasure of bringing you an interview with Alexis Grant, an internet entrepreneur who has done a lot of different (and great) things.
Not only does she create content for her blog at AlexisGrant.com, but she’s created several digital products, she has a separate site about writing, and she even works with clients on their blogging, social media and email marketing.
In this interview, we’ll talk more about the different aspects of her business, including successes like how her relatively new writing site now receives 45K unique visitors monthly!
Let’s dive right in…
(As always, questions from The Daily Interview are in bold.)
Alexis, I really like your blog and the things you’ve done at AlexisGrant.com. You offer a lot of great advice when it comes to career, entrepreneurship, and similar topics that have a huge impact on most people’s lives.
I know you do a lot – from blogging, to consulting, to creating your own digital products – but tell us more about your business and journey. What does your business do primarily and what do you focus most of your time on today?
Thanks, Eric! I do have my hands in a lot of buckets, which sometimes makes it difficult to explain what I do for a living. I call myself an entrepreneurial writer and digital strategist, and I think of my business as having two parts.
The first part, the product side, includes my blog, AlexisGrant.com, where I offer career advice in the form of blog posts, a newsletter, and webinars. I monetize there by creating and selling eBooks and courses; you can find them at alexisgrant.com/store. Several other products also fall under this umbrella, including a site my team and I launched about seven months ago called The Write Life.
My goal is to spend an increasing amount of time on the product side, partly because of this realization I had last year about how long-term potential of digital products. But I find myself distracted by client work, partly because I enjoy it, and partly because there’s a lot of demand for our services. In 2013, I put a lot of energy into systemizing the business, and my plan for 2014 is to spend more time on products.
Remember though, that I’m not doing this all on my own! People often ask me how I manage to get so much done, but the truth is I delegate many tasks to our wonderful team of 10 go-getters. They make it all happen.
That sounds great – I love to hear about entrepreneurs who accomplish a LOT through delegation and implementing the right systems. Can you give us an example of one or two “systems” that really keeps your business running like a well-oiled machine?
Sure. I think our most important system at this point is simply being organized and documenting everything, right down to the details, so we’re all on the same page. That also helps us know exactly who is responsible for which pieces of all the puzzles we put together.
We use Google Docs for documenting processes — for example, all the steps to publishing a blog post for a specific client, from formatting to ALT tags on images to emailing the author to let them know it’s live.
To delegate tasks, we use Flow. Usually I do the delegating, but Flow also allows our project manager to delegate and check off tasks, and team members can assign each other tasks when they need something (for example, if a writer needs an image created, she can delegate that task to a designer).
I also push myself to create processes that can be replicated for other pieces of the business, like webinars, placing guest posts, sending newsletters and more.
I’m willing to bet that you have several success stories – if you had to pick your top one or two greatest successes with your business, what would they be?
Thanks for asking this! I think too often we get caught up in the challenges of running a business and forget to pat ourselves on the back for what we have accomplished.
I am terribly proud of our new website for writers, The Write Life. About a year ago, while helping my dad launch a website for boomers (now you know where I get it from!), I started to realize just how much I knew about creating a site and getting traffic. I’d helped clients with content and promotion for several years, and I knew it was time to create something of my own — of our own, since my team has been integral in The Write Life’s success — using all of those skills and strategies.
Seven months later, we are kicking butt! We offer awesome content, and our reader numbers reflect that: we’re at about 45K unique visitors monthly and 4,500 newsletter subscribers. It’s no Upworthy, but we’re proud of the organic growth and have some awesome things planned for this year. If you love metrics like me, check out this four-month progress report as well as our strategy for pushing The Write Life to the top of Google.
Most success is preceded by failure, and that’s how many of us become better at what we do . What do you consider to be your biggest failure with respect to your online business, and what did you learn from it?
Certainly my biggest failure has been my inability to sell my travel memoir to a publisher, which is a sort of detour from my main business but nevertheless a project I spent more than 15 months creating. And oh, man, it sucked admitting to my community that I failed.
But the biggest thing I learned is that when you fail, the world won’t cave in around you (in most instances).
Knowing this makes failure a lot less daunting, which can be freeing; if you’re not afraid to fail, you’ll be more likely to experiment, and being willing to try new things is really what will help you get to the next level in your career. If you can’t push yourself for fear of failure or something else, you’ll never beat the status quo.
Most bloggers and internet entrepreneurs aspire to create their own products (usually digital), and this is an area where you’ve thrived with your various guides and courses.
What tips do you have for someone who has tried creating a product that ultimately didn’t go anywhere? In other words, what are the things that you do to improve your chances of success with the products you sell?
I absolutely love this topic because taking this approach is one of the best ways to create freedom in your career.
But it’s true that not every digital product will do well; some will flop. In fact, after my first guide (How to Build a Part-Time Social Media Business) was wildly successful, my second one (How to Take a Career Break to Travel) totally flopped. It still sells far fewer copies than my other guides, barely enough to make the project worthwhile financially.
That taught me a lot about what types of eBooks work, and what doesn’t. In the case of this flop, I think it’s simply not a topic a lot of people are dying to read about. Secondly, it won’t help people make money. Not that every eBook has to be about making money, but people are far more willing to shell out cash for a digital product that will help them earn money in return. I fleshed this idea out in a post for Problogger called A Tale of Two Ebooks.
The big thing I do to improve my chances of success — other than creating an awesome product people actually want — is spend a heck of a lot of time promoting it.
A lot of writers hate this; they want to create, not market. But you’ll need to spend even more time marketing than you do writing if you want potential buyers to discover your product. One of my favorite ways to do this is through guest posts, which not only send traffic to your site but also boost your SEO, leading to more search-related buys in the long run. (I sell a lot of my guides via search traffic.)
Social media strategy is another strength of yours, so I have to ask: For all the blogs and businesses you’ve worked with, what’s the #1 thing that people seem to be doing wrong with social media? What’s been your recommended solution for it?
Hands down, the biggest mistake is trying to be everywhere. A much better approach is to pick two or three channels that are a good fit for your audience, and focus on doing an awesome job there. Spreading yourself too thin across multiple channels never works to your advantage.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at running a business online. If you had to take your best advice and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be? Feel free to use a favorite quote, or come up with something yourself.
Make your own luck. [Click here to tweet this]
My tagline is Make Your Own Luck because I really believe that’s what it takes to truly create freedom in your career and life.
Making your own luck means being a finisher, a quality that’s rare these days. It means being proactive and investing in yourself, not just your employer. It means taking it upon yourself to learn the skills you need to move forward. It means not waiting for someone to hand you a job — and creating your own instead.
The Internet and the share economy have made it easier than ever to pursue a career that’s a good fit for your life, but you have to be willing to push yourself out of the little box society sometimes traps us in and make it happen.
What are the online resources that you can’t live without?
I’m kind of a digital tool junkie! I love Hootsuite for social media management, MeetingBurner for webinars, MailChimp for newsletters, Flow for task and team management, e-junkie for selling digital products, and Karma for accessing the Internet anywhere. You can see more of my favorite tools at alexisgrant.com/resources.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Thank you, Alexis!
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