How do you know when to turn a passion project into a full-fledged business? Or would you even know if your side gig had the makings of a successful enterprise? Our guests for this episode knew it and they cashed in on the opportunity. Emma Chapman and Elsie Larson are sisters who run a blog with over a million regular viewers called A Beautiful Mess.
Join us as we talk about the humble origins of the blog, how it went from being something they enjoyed dabbling in on the side to their present-day endeavor in this, the 41st episode of How’d You Get Into That?.
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Emma and Elsie are sisters who have also been fast friends for years. As teens, they would spend their post-school afternoons visiting thrift stores and whiling away the hours exploring for unique and colorful finds that caught their eye. They bonded beyond sisterhood and became best friends during those afternoons.
Having been raised by artistic and creative parents who encouraged them to follow their passions, they set off on various paths during their early 20s. Emma followed her scrapbooking interest and started her own product line while Elsie went to college and earned a degree in Philosophy. After graduation, she went to Los Angeles to pursue her interest in comedic acting. A few years later, they began the blog that is today’s A Beautiful Mess.
In the mean time, they opened a small retail shop with a vintage focus and the blog originally had the same theme. When the shop did well enough, they opened a second store and Emma finally convinced her sister to come home and run a bakery out of the second retail space. During that same time, they realized they were enjoying the blog more than the shops and it was also a better revenue source.
THE FINER DETAILS OF THIS SHOW:
- How long did it take before they saw the blog as a viable business?
- What was their first attempt at monetizing the site?
- Who was the first person they hired and why was it a risky move?
- Did they ever wonder if it was worth it?
- Their app did better than Angry Birds at one point: true or false?
- Why multiple income streams has been vital to their success.
- And so much more!
Their first foray into monetizing the blog did fairly well and soon they were able to hire someone on a full-time basis. It did take them nearly six years to reach that point however, and they emphasize the importance of persevering and being adaptable in a business you enjoy. As Elsie says on this show, “You will flop but you will succeed if you stick with it.”
Emma says some of the best business advice she ever received was to grow your business into 3 or 4 income streams so you are never counting on one solely. If you can do that, you’ll be able to take more risks because you aren’t worried that one wrong move will sink your entire business.
And it’s a lesson that has served them well. Today they have over a million viewers and have closed their retail shops. They like the versatility that working on the blog offers. Often they will take suggestions from their audience on what to pursue next, they like to keep their finger on the pulse of what their readers want while still creating and blogging about their own interests.
The only thing Emma says she would do differently today is to write up a business plan. She believes if you want to have a successful business, you must treat your project like a business. Even if it’s only a hobby you’re passionate about right now, if you approach it and work with it like it’s a business, it will become a business. If you just treat it like a hobby, it will be a hobby.
Please join me in thanking Emma and Elsie for sharing their wit, wisdom and wonderful experiences on today’s show. Whether you’re in a business now or just thinking about turning your passion project into a career, they give you ample advice to steer you in the right direction. We appreciate you being here with us and we’ll see you on the next episode of “How Did You Get Into That?”.
Tweetable: “Being adaptable is one of the big keys to our success.” Emma and Elsie Larson
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