This week we are starting a new series: the business growth series. Since Boost Society also offers business and influencer coaching in addition to talent management, we want to share some of our best business growth tips and tricks for entrepreneurs to launch new businesses.
We are starting off the series by talking to Christine Wheeler of Pinnovation Media. Christine recently went through the process of turning a side hustle into a full-time job and now has a small team working for her to manage Pinterest accounts for bloggers and businesses. She is also one of our business coaching clients and has seen major success in the 5 months since launching Pinnovation Media.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and about Pinnovation Media.
I’m Christine, and I’m a former middle and high school English teacher turned travel blogger turned business owner. After getting burned out from teaching for almost a decade, my husband and I decided I would take a year off from teaching to focus on my travel blog, Live Love Run Travel.
By November, I had qualified for Mediavine, an ad network requiring 25,000 sessions at the time (now 50,000) and started earning decent money on my blog from ads and affiliates. I was also ghost writing for a few bloggers while waiting to get to Mediavine to have some income.
Through the process, I had learned a lot about Pinterest, so when Lisa Homsy, one of my clients and a team member at Boost Society, asked me about Pinterest, I told her I could see if what I was doing would work on her account too. It did, and she also ended up qualifying for Mediavine about 7 months later. Through word of mouth, I ended up taking on a few more freelancing clients and eventually turning the freelancing jobs into a full-time job.
Now Pinnovation Media is a full-service Pinterest management agency. We manage Pinterest accounts for bloggers and businesses to help them meet their goals. We also offer pin creation services and coaching services for those wanting to get one-on-one lessons for Pinterest. While we started with travel clients, we now have clients in a variety of niches including food, lifestyle, home decor, creative writing, and beauty/fashion.
How did you get the idea to go from side hustle to full time job with Pinnovation Media?
I actually would still be working on my blog and just doing this for a few people on the side if it wasn’t for Josh and Boost Society. Lisa made the connection for me when Josh was looking for someone to help with his blog and Pinterest.
Our first call was looking at ways to work together. I was thinking Josh could help with brand deals for my blog, but when he heard about my freelancing, he asked why I wasn’t doing that full time because there was so much potential.
It took a few months to decide to make the leap and get started, but I have no regrets. Josh has made the process so much easier and given me direction every step of the way. Pinnovation Media would not exist without him giving me the push I needed to actually start it and holding me accountable throughout the process.
Any tips for someone looking to turn a freelancing job into a full-time job or wanting to start a business?
Just do it. I’m not a big risk taker, but my husband asked me, “What’s the worst thing that happens? You fail? At least you tried. Most people never even try to go after a dream.”
If you are already freelancing, you have an easier path because you already have your first clients. That’s the hardest part for most service based businesses is finding the first client who is willing to take a risk on you. Start reaching out to more potential clients with a pitch showing the results you’ve gotten and showing you can provide value.
If you are starting from scratch with no clients, the first thing you need to do is look at your skills and what you can offer. Think about the things you love doing and how those things could provide value to someone.
Then see if you can find some beta clients. Charge them a little less than you would normally charge someone for that service because they are taking the chance on you. Get them amazing results and then use that to build a portfolio.
I would also highly recommend working with a coach, finding others on a similar path, and taking courses. Working with Josh as my coach has made the whole process so much easier. He gave me step by step assignments of what to get done to get the business up and running and then has been there for support and encouragement along the way. Even now that the business is doing well, he is helping me grow and scale the business with specific tasks and advice from someone who has been there.
I’ve also been able to connect with other women who are starting businesses. There is nothing like having someone who is on the same path as you are to understand your journey. There will be amazing days and there will be frustrating days. Having a coach and friends in the business to celebrate with you and listen to your frustrations makes a huge difference.
Finally, don’t be afraid to invest in courses. Do research first, but you want to be an expert in your field and to keep up with any changes to bring the best to your clients. Spend time and yes, a little money, on leveling up your skills and offerings.
Speaking of coaches, what should you think about when hiring a business coach?
First, find someone you trust and get along with. This person will be calling you out, encouraging you, and supporting you, so get on a call before hiring them to see if your personalities work together.
Josh is willing to be real with me but also always checks in on how I’m doing and how I’m feeling as we go through each stage of growing the business. You want someone you can trust and respect or you won’t be willing to do what they tell you to do.
You also need to make sure that you will be willing to listen to your coach. That doesn’t mean you always have to give in if it is something you feel strongly about with your business. However, if you are going to fight every piece of advice they give you, it probably isn’t a good fit. Make sure you are willing to listen and learn before investing the money.
Any tips for someone looking to get their first clients or some new clients? How did you get your first clients?
Pinnovation Media has been blessed. Our clients are our best advertisers, and we have not really had to do any marketing so far. I know that isn’t always the case, so be prepared to do some pitching.
Our first clients were all influencers who I had built a relationship with on Instagram. I had followed them for a couple of years, commented on their posts, supported their journey, and had some conversations over DM with them.
When I decided to start ghostwriting and then doing Pinterest management, I reached out and it wasn’t truly a cold pitch. They already knew who I was through my interactions with them in the past.
Think about who your ideal client is. Who can you help and provide value to? Reach out to those people to see if they are interested in the service you offer. If you don’t have any relationships in that area, start building those relationships if possible.
When pitching, whether it is cold pitching or pitching people you know, you always want to make it all about the value you provide. Know how you can help that person/business specifically before you reach out.
If I reach out to someone about Pinterest, I have already looked at their Pinterest, blog, and other social channels. I know I can help them before I even reach out. That makes it easier to show them specific ways I can help grow their business instead of just asking if they want help with Pinterest.
If you’ve already had results, share those results (you don’t have to give names). If you haven’t had results yet, give specific examples of how you can help them. Can you grow their traffic or grow their sales or take a task away that they hate or give them more time to focus on important parts of their business?
Always start with how you can provide value. Once you have clients who have seen that value, they are more likely to share about you with their friends. You can also offer incentives like an affiliate program or a thank you gift. At Pinnovation Media, we give a discount on the next invoice for each referral as a thank you for our clients who share about us with friends.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started your business?
One thing I would say to do is to value your work. It’s hard sometimes to see the value in the work you do, but you need to make sure you are charging a fair rate and charging enough that you can grow.
In the US, I pay 20% in taxes, so I have to plan on losing 20% of anything I charge right away. There are also expenses like software, our website, courses, new laptops when the old one randomly breaks, etc. Make sure to factor in those expenses as well.
On top of that, if you plan to grow a team, you have to have enough to pay someone a fair wage for the work they do. If you are only charging $20 an hour and need to keep 30% or more for taxes and expenses, you can only pay them $16 an hour at most, but then you have nothing left to grow and scale the business (and I’ve found that most people expect to be paid more than $16 an hour to begin with).
Yes, you will likely charge your initial clients less as they took the risk earlier, but don’t be afraid to raise your rates as you grow. Look into what others are charging and consider your expenses and taxes when deciding on your own rates.
Final question: what has been the best part and the hardest part of starting and growing your business?
I’ll start with the hardest part. For me, the hardest part has been delegating. I’ve found that even as I’ve brought on team members, it has been hard to hand off tasks. I want them done a certain way and to make sure I’m getting the best results possible, so it is scary to hand things off.
We are working on putting systems in place (and I learned a lot from my business partner and training her) to make this easier in the future. Come up with training systems to make sure you are showing new team members exactly what needs to be done.
The best part has been seeing the results and being able to share those wins with clients. I love digging into analytics and seeing how things are going with each account. I love having clients set goals and reach them. That has been my favorite part of this is having coaching clients get wins and being able to get wins for management and pin creation clients.
Thank you to Christine for taking the time to share her journey with us. Have you considered starting to freelance? Are you already freelancing and looking to turn it into a full-time career?
If you have any questions for Christine, feel free to reach out to her on Instagram at @pinnovationmedia as well. She is more than happy to respond to DMs with questions about her journey or about starting a business. And if you need help with your Pinterest marketing, make sure to check out Pinnovation Media.
Looking for a business coach to get started? Boost Society now offers business and Influencer coaching in a one-on-one setting. If you are interested in learning more and creating your own business or brand brand (or need help getting yourself and your business organized), contact Boost Society here and tell us a little bit about yourself and your coaching needs.
Subscribe to get your FREE “12 things to include in a pitch email” PDF & to get more tips and tricks from Boost Society!
For more Influencer business tips, check out these posts:
- Tips on How to Go from Influencer to Business Owner
- How to Go from Influencer to CEO with Christina Galbato
- 14 Things for Bloggers and Influencers to Work on From Home
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