January 28, 2018 / Leave a Comment
When I launched the website VivaFifty.com early in 2014 I told my husband that it would probably take a year or two for it to make any money. To my surprise I was dead wrong. I had started it off as a personal blog, with a completely different look and feel than it has now. I just wanted a creative outlet from my contractor position as editor in chief of Mamiverse, a website for Latina moms. I had turned 50 in August of 2013 and was planning my beach wedding that would take place in April of 2014. My entire body and soul were aching to go back to my roots and do my own thing again, and one day right after returning from a blogging conference in Miami, I decided to fly solo.
Only then did I decide to create a logo, change the layout of the site and consider doing something more ambitious with it. I had already somewhat of a name for myself in the Latina digital world, and soon I was running sponsored posts on my site. But I wasn´t expecting for the site to replace my income as editor in chief, in a matter of eight months. I realized then that having a niche audience and consistently putting out bilingual content for that audience across several social media platforms was the key to attracting the right sponsors. We did no outreach, so the opportunities that came our way were organic, or rather, the result of our hard work and someone with the power to hire us taking notice of our output.
In early 2015 my husband –a seasoned photojournalist and book author– and I, decided to incorporate as Viva Fifty Media LLC. and so VivaFifty.com became just one of the various services we offered clients. Content creation, writing, videos, social media campaigns and even book writing all fell under the umbrella of our media company. In 2015, we surpassed our profits of the first year, and the same thing happened in 2016.
I was eager to share my success journey in my book: REACH! From Single Mom on Welfare to Digital Entrepreneur to help other women achieve the life-work balance and profit they deserved. I spoke at conferences about monetizing your creativity and making a full-time living writing and creating online. I had built a small and effective production and writing team, and I was happily chugging along, always thinking of new ways to reach our audience and work with clients.
There was however, always one part of the business that I felt I was weak in. I have vision and I can execute – I´m consistent and keep creating day in day out, no matter what. But I also have an artsy personality that isn´t always the most business-savvy. I´m neurotic, and as a lifelong freelance-happy and self-employed woman, I´ve often been happy to accept whatever work came my way without daring to negotiate for a higher pay. I have also been known to accept any and all gigs that fell in my lap, because you just never know whether the gods of the gig economy are going to punish you by not sending more work your way if you turn something down! I laugh at this now, but most freelancers know what I´m talking about.
I was missing a business manager. I started my search for that person and had a few bad dates. I´m sure the women I spoke with and even did a short trial-run with are great professionals, we were just not a good fit.
I didn´t give up, however. I kept thinking I simply had to meet the right person, just like when I met my husband! I asked everyone and anyone I thought could give me a lead. And then, the magic finally happened. During my first conversation with Johanna Voss in March of 2017, I had the feeling she was the one! But before she became my bookings agent and business manager, we started out with a strategy session, which was like an audit of my work so far.
I hired Johanna for my strategy session because I needed help with the sales and strategy part of my business and also prioritizing my time and tasks. The strategy session intensive exceeded my expectations. Aside from planning how to tighten my brand and find what projects I wanted to work on in the future, she helped me to declutter my work day and my workflow. In two days I went from using a paper planner to a digital one. I also learned to look at myself and my business from the outside. It became easier to understand what I need to say “no” to.
This was almost a year ago, and there really is a “before and after” that strategy session. I do say “no” (very politely, may I add) a lot more now and I spend most of my time doing what I love, which is create content and learn new social media and vlogging skills. Before I would spin my wheels and waste time and energy on small tasks that were simply ways to procrastinate doing what I never enjoyed: pitching myself or negotiating with clients.
Johanna and I were a great fit from the start because we are both doers and hustlers and we thrive on being effective and getting things off of our plates asap. She gave me some homework to do before our in-person meeting: I had to give her answers to questions regarding business finances, my daily workflow, expectations, and my willingness to try new approaches and ways of doing things. I also had some questions for her: was she open to having a long-term relationship, did she have the bandwidth to accommodate me, would she be willing to work with me on projects I already had underway?
I came away from our strategy session feeling enlightened and empowered. My work-day is way more structured and I work more purposefully. I was able to see myself and my brand from someone else´s perspective and I course-corrected my personal brand as a result of that. This actually helped me put more of myself in VivaFifty.com, which I had shaped into a magazine, with more of an impersonal feel. If you check it out now, it has a lot more soul. Johanna and I asked my readers what they wanted more of and it turned out to be me! So now I spend more time giving that to them, as honestly and openly as I´m able to.
Johanna and I went a step further after that strategy session. I had a couple of requests from potential clients, and I asked her to please field them. As we created proposals together in a short time and she took charge of my fears of asking for too much money, we were both ecstatic seeing the positive results of our collaboration. My know-how in my field and her skills in dealing with clients on behalf of somebody else have rendered results we are both proud of. We also feel we´re in this together, looking forward to another fruitful year of collaboration.
I highly recommend her strategy session service to any professional who is at a point where her business is profitable and yet she wants to take it to the next level. Johanna’s field of expertise and her passion lies in helping an already successful entrepreneur grow, not growing a business from scratch. If you are already flowing, but feel you are at a tipping point and don´t quite know what to do about that, now is the moment to hire her!