You’re going to love Erin’s story today. She started with a manual email list that she started back in college (remember those big group blind-cc emails?) and has grown it into a real-life business. Erin will share her story of choosing to believe in herself and take a chance on herself and her business, of deciding to take those next steps to learn some new marketing strategies to move things forward. If you've ever felt a little unsure or a little bit like the underdog, I think you're really going to relate to Erin’s story.
Press play on the podcast player below to listen to the full interview.
It Started with a Daily Gratitude Habit and a Need for Accountability
Erin’s blog is called Notice the Little Things. She says, “The gist of it is that I help busy moms get in the habit of uncovering and celebrating everyday joy because as a mom that joy can feel like it's hidden under piles and piles of laundry. But despite the laundry, and all the different things pulling for our attention, as moms, it is possible to create this mindset of gratitude within our homes. And when we can get to that place where we can find the blessings, right there alongside the hard, chaotic, worst day of your life moments, this is a game-changer when it comes to motherhood.
“But this takes practice and so the blog is kind of about that practice. When we're busy and pulled in lots of directions, it's easy to think we have to wait for everything to line up perfectly right for us to finally feel grateful and good about ourselves or good about our days. But gratitude actually is a skill like anything else. A lot of people think that it's just sort of a spontaneous emotion that comes along once in a while. It's actually a skill that can be practiced. I've learned that in my years doing the blog, and we don't have to wait on it. The more you practice it, the more automatic it becomes.
“The blog is all about practicing that by celebrating and uncovering those little things. It centers around this daily gratitude list that I started back in college actually. On my blog there are lots of free and pretty things for moms to help make a gratitude habit their own and also ways to make small changes, like easy organization or a well thought out routine, so that we have the room and the space and sort of the mental capacity to pay attention to the things that really matter, which is what we're all trying so hard to do. When you’re in the middle of it all, as a mom, it's really tricky.”
Admittedly some people are naturally more positive about things but that alone won’t always do the trick.
“Part of that is personality, part of it is what you're born with whether you have that positive nature or not, but the other part of it is just a lot of practice.”
To help people practice gratitude, Erin has developed some products that help moms and their families to be more grateful and to make that a daily practice to notice the little things.
Remember, the idea for the blog started when Erin was in college. One year, for Lent, she decided that rather than just give something up, she was going to make a daily list of small things she was grateful for. She decided they would have to be things she would not have noticed if she hadn’t intentionally paused and pushed aside the big things to think, “What are the blessings that God is trying to get me to notice here that I'm often overlooking?” She decided to write these 10 things a day and to hold herself accountable and not give up halfway through Lent, she decided to email the list out to a few close family and friends every day. Within a few days, a lot of the people on the list started emailing me back with their list of 10 little things which was an unexpected bonus. Not only was she noticing blessings in her own life, but she was also able to share blessings that others were noticing in their lives.
“I do think those lists showed people all the different ways a little thing could look. You could recognize that in your day as God showing up or whatever you want, but when you did stop to notice, you realized a really simple thing had a really big impact on the way you viewed certain situations.”
Five years after first starting her email list, Erin turned it into a blog. Five years after that came a turning point in the life of Notice the Little Things. Erin’s husband asked her a fateful question.
“‘If you could do anything, what would you do? It doesn't matter if you don't have the education for it, or you don't have the money for it but if you could start tomorrow and do anything you wanted, what would you do?’ I said I would revamp the blog and I would try to get this community of positivity going again.
“I realized that as as a mom, the habit of the daily gratitude, which I still was doing, was serving me. There are just so many moms like myself that just are going from one thing to the next with barely the time to slow down or look up from the chaos, or to say thank you for anything, much less be thanked for anything.”
Though initially hesitant because of the money and time it would take, Erin did start working on her blog again and she started it with a Lent challenge, just like when she first started her email list all those years ago.
“I kind of encouraged people to join in with the blog and other community members and participate in a collective goal. So the first year, I think we did 40 days of gratitude. The second year, we did 40 days of love, where you would write little things back and forth with your spouse or your significant other. And then we did 40 days of joy.
“It was after that series that I took a survey of the people who had participated and asked them do you think you'll continue this outside of Lent. And by and large, they said, ‘I'd love to, but I just keep forgetting. I get to the end of the day. And I know what's important. And I know it makes my day better. And I know that I want to model this for my children and teach it for them too. But it is so hard to make this new routine part of daily life and automatic.’ And so the idea for my first product came from that survey.
“I took a look at how I had my home and routines organized so that I have the little bit of time and the mental space to think of gratitude first. The first product that I developed was an ebook called Reclaim Your Joy. It was a busy moms guide to increase gratitude in the little things.”
Transitioning from Hobby to Business
“I always wanted to grow my blog. I wanted to grow my email list. I wanted to figure out the secret to making something that you love and you know is valuable and you've seen a need for -work- as not just a hobby.
“One of my fears in the beginning was investing money in something that might fail. You know, we work hard for what we have and to provide for our kids and the things that they're excited about and the things that they want to do. And I thought, what if I use this money and I fail? What if I don't make this blog the success I can picture in my mind?”
Shortly after creating her first e-book, Erin learned of the Facebook Ads Intensive but wasn’t planning to apply.
“The reason I was saying no, is because I was afraid I wouldn't get accepted, or I was afraid I wouldn't be able to have the things already set up that you needed for someone to be successful, because I had looked at the sales page, and I listened your podcast and I knew what you were looking for. I thought about for a couple days but the deadline was approaching. I kept telling myself maybe I'll just apply in the spring, because I'll be more ready and things will be more perfect, which is a trap I fall into often. Finally I thought I'm going to just apply, even though I knew my sales numbers weren’t good enough yet.”
(Okay friends – I hate to say this but I typically like people to have at least 25 sales of a given product before I'm going to say yes to them. However, I sometimes make exceptions because when I see the potential in something, and if I get a sense that that person is going to commit and has the skills that they need to really get everything done, then I will make exceptions. But it's tricky because It's a lot of money and it's a lot of time and work. And I don't ever want someone to invest and not see a return back and to not see the growth that I want them to see from my course.)
Finding a Supportive Business Community
Erin says, “I was ready to work. I had kind of been looking for this in blogging- someone to say, here's how you get from point A to point B and point B works if you do all the right steps. I had taken other blogging courses but the Facebook Ads Intensive for the first time gave me a community and I felt like for the first time- to my really important questions that I thought could move me forward- I had answers. I just feel like you really cultivate this community of people who want to help each other versus compete against each other. And that is not something that I have found somewhere else. I think it's a lot to do with your personality and your leadership.”
There's plenty of room for all of us, friends. And when one of us wins, I feel like we all win.
Erin started her ads for a freebie to tripwire setup with a low budget of just $10 per day and she was profitable from the start.
“Just the knowledge that this works, this can work, and it will keep working if I keep doing it. That was such affirmation. I think my ROAS was always averaging like about a 1.5 so I never lost money on ads, I only made money, or maybe some days broke even, but as a whole, it was profitable, and remains profitable. Also, the number of subscribers that I have added to my email list is just crazy. I think since I started the ads intensive, I've added over 5000 subscribers, just from Facebook ads.
“I knew in the back of my mind that I'm adding the right kind of people to my list that will want to participate in the next thing that we're doing. And so that was exciting all along to know that that was happening.”
Learning to Recognize the Value We Bring to Our Audience
Sometimes we can wonder if it’s okay to monetize products designed for gratitude or perhaps faith-based products. Is it wrong to try to make money this way? The answer is No! You are designing beautiful tools and deserve to be paid for that.
Erin agrees. “I kind of struggled with how do I make something like gratitude available and accessible in a format that people would pay for? I do give a lot of stuff away for free, but it’s a lot of hours away from my family. I love it but there's only so many hours you can spend and so much money. It's also expensive to run some of the programs to collect data and all that.
“So that was something that I struggled with for a while. I mean, it sounds kind of cold and harsh to monetize gratitude, right? I think the struggle is that somebody who has a prayer journal or something with gratitude or something with faith, you wonder, how do I put a price on that sort of thing, when I really just want everybody to do it anyways, because it's good for them. You don't want anyone to miss out on it because of price.
“But again, it just goes back to these things take a lot of thought and a lot of time. They've taken a lot of study and a lot of practice. And that's true for so many women. There are skills out there that you might think everybody else has, because they come easily to you, but they don't. And that was something that I really had to realize.”
This year Erin decided to offer a free version and a paid version of her Lent challenge. “I thought, Okay, I'm going to continue to offer this for free like I have in the past but I'm also going to offer a paid version of the challenge. So this year I created a free version with printables that came with a guide for all the different principles. And then I created a paid version, which had almost 100 different principles that you could use for yourself and your family.
“There's a lot of value in things like this and it just took me a little bit of time to realize that and learn that. I think I've kind of finally overcome that hurdle.
“It feels strange to talk about money and business in relation to things like faith or Lent but this is exciting, because this made me feel like a business owner and it made me feel like my time was worth it. And those things are important, as important as people growing in their faith and learning about gratitude.”
Going All In For a Successful First Product Launch
When Erin started running ads with her freebie to tripwire gratitude journal, she was spending just $10 day. The ads were profitable which boosted her confidence to spend a lot more on ads for her Lent challenge. Because Lent is just a short season, Erin could only run ads for three weeks and she decided to just go for it.
“I just really thought I've done this for three years. I've had some success with it on a really small level. It was so fun and it was such a great community building thing that I really thought I'm just going to go for it.
“So I ran three campaigns and I started each one at $50 a day. That was a big jump from the $10 a day because that meant I was spending $150 a day tota on the three campaigns. I immediately I felt better about that when there were purchases on the first day which is always reassuring. So I spent a total of about $2100 on my Lent ads in three weeks.”
This was Erin’s first product launch and I am just so excited about how well it went for her!
Erin spent about $2,100 dollars on ads for her launch and ended up making $5,200 from her ads and her email list combined. (And don’t forget – her freebie to tripwire ads that she was running before had been growing her email list prior to the launch.)
“For a first product launch, I felt really excited about that and just validated because after working on this for so long it’s nice to see that you’ve kind of figured out how to make things happen. The feedback in the Facebook group and the people talking about their experiences during the Lent was also heartwarming. I had had that in the past- that piece wasn't missing. The piece that was missing was generating some sort of income that would validate all the time invested to make a successful blog or business.”
I’m so happy that Erin took that jump to try the higher ad budget and I just can't wait to see how this progresses each year for her. Every time she does this, she’s getting more of the right people on her list. The Facebook ads are helping her get buyers onto her list which will make her future launches even more successful.
Erin says, “I just have learned so much from you and from your journey. You have studied what works with Facebook ads and what doesn't, and your willingness to share what works and what doesn't and build this community of people that is so forthcoming with helpful information really has been a complete game changer when it comes to my blog, and finally finding the avenue that would allow me to also call myself a small business owner, and not just a hobby blogger.”
I hope that you'll take away from today's episode that you should take a chance on yourself. You should give your business and your big goals and dreams- give them a real shot. And trust that you have the hard work, the grit, the determination, the focus to be able to make big things happen in your business and with all of your other big goals too.
Connect with Erin
See Erin’s Little Things on Instagram