While many internet businesses are born by accident or experimentation, I always like to hear about people who take skills from a “real” job and apply it online. Jolene Davies did just that.
Having worked in the Justice System for nearly 15 years (most recently as a Fraud Investigator), Jo is naturally good with research and analysis. As you might imagine, this is a pretty valuable skill for blogs and online businesses (researching competition, etc.).
In this interview, we discuss Jo’s background and some of her successes, the power of online communities, and then go into social media (and the not-so-often discussed Google+).
Jo, I’m intrigued by both your business and your blog at In The Know with Jo. Tell us a little bit about your background, and what you currently do today. What does it mean to be a “Blogger and Research Consultant?” How did you find your way into this business?
I have my Criminology Degree and have worked and been involved in the Justice Industry for a long time. My last position was as a Peace Officer (Fraud Investigator) so investigations and research & analysis have been natural and practiced skills for me for a long time (about 15 years). It seemed a natural extension to offer those skills to others as a service in a different context.
I am very good at finding things so “Research Consultant” means you bring your meaty research projects to me (competition research/social media) and I will do the research and give you actionable recommendations for improvement and/or differentiation. I take on almost any research project large or small but the ones requiring specialized analysis are a big strength of mine and where I want to focus.
Pretty much everyone blogs, so that’s not really unique about my title, but focusing on research is. So many people outsource research or try to do some themselves and aren’t sure what to do or where to go or who to believe, I want to help with that. So whether it’s through my blog or my services I want to find and present information entrepreneurs are looking for. That’s why my tagline is “I’ll do the research. You take care of business.”
It makes sense to outsource research to someone who specializes in it, or get the hacks you need to do it right from my blog.
What has been your greatest success so far (with your online business)?
My biggest success so far is having Tom Ewer of Leaving Work Behind as a paying client and being named his Community Manager. His support has really accelerated my growth and has brought me more traffic, more subscribers, strengthened my reputation and brought some exciting collaboration and client referral opportunities my way.
What’s the coolest/most interesting research project you’ve worked on for a client, and what were you able to uncover (or what did it ultimately help your client with)?
It’s hard to pinpoint one specific project because I love them all, but what has stood out to me are the trends I am seeing with the competitive research. I am really noticing that people are not interacting enough with their audience and are not utilizing Google+ to its fullest potential.
Google+ is growing extremely fast and with all the outstanding features it offers entrepreneurs and business should really be paying more attention to strengthening their brand there, it can be HUGE differentiation for so many companies. As well the audience engagement needs to be stepped up. People are responding to support concerns/questions etc. more than just starting conversations with their followers and then keeping the conversation going. Nothing is better for your reputation than keeping people happy and talking to them.
That’s interesting – you really don’t see too many people talking about Google+. How do you think businesses (or blog owners) should be utilizing Google+? Does the strategy at all differ from how one might use Twitter or Facebook?
Google+ has amazing potential for businesses that Facebook and Twitter do not (search capability/results, multi-platform integration, targeted marketing with ‘circles’, sharing power (Gmail, Google Docs), Hangouts… Every business should get on there now and start building their presence. Conduct Hangouts, build Communities, share documents, create targeted ‘circle’ lists… The potential for growing your business reach and brand recognition are amazing and Google is just getting started, so now is the time to make your mark. Who knows what they will add next.
People do not say “I Googled it” when searching something for no reason. Google dominated the online search and became a verb. Now think about them having Gmail (the largest email platform in the world) and the fact that every single person with a Gmail account has a Google+ profile just waiting for them to explore (if they haven’t already). The possibilities are endless. I strongly believe that Facebook is a dominantly personal platform, and Google+ is built for business.
Finding a competitive edge is something that many entrepreneurs struggle with. When you begin researching competition (either for yourself or a client), what are some of the most important things you analyze?
Every target area that I analyze is extremely important to the whole picture. I could spend just as much time just analyzing one target area, but I don’t think that any one area is more important than the next, it depends so much on your company and what you are about.
Some of the really big target areas that can identify lots of potential for differentiation are “Social Media” and “Products/Services”. If you can get on a social media platform your competitors are not focusing on or offer a product or service that no one else is offering you can really stand apart from the crowd.
I know there are a lot of internet entrepreneurs who have consulting businesses (maybe similar to yours, with different online service offerings), and the one obstacle they all face at some point is how to get more clients. What’s been your strategy for building your client base?
I have been extremely lucky in this department. I am SUPER active in online communities and so most of my clients come from there and from referrals, I have not had to hunt too much for more.
My advice for finding more clients is to get into the online communities and join the conversations, jump into the forums, etc. You never know who is there or who you can help. There are tremendous opportunities for growth by showing your value and expertise in those communities, so spend more time in them not less.
Let’s take a step back and look more generally at running a business online: If you had to take your best advice or inspirational thought and put it into one sentence or phrase, what would that be?
Be active in online communities. The opportunities are endless. [Click here to tweet this]
That’s mine 😉
What are your favorite online resources?
My absolute favorite resource is Fizzle. I will happily be a member for life.
Any online community I am a part of offers tremendous value (as long as you participate and get involved) and is the best resource around. You really cannot underestimate the opportunities and potential they can present to you.
Finally, where can people find you online?
Thanks for sharing your story with us today, Jo!
What did you think about this interview and Jo’s business? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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