What if you could expand your business by putting yourself in a box and reaching more people? It may sound like science fiction, but in many ways, Lisa has found a way to do this very thing! It comes as no surprise that a professional organizer and productivity nut would find many unique ways to reach more people without spending more time to do it.
On the Podcast
00:54 – 9 Businesses with One Thing in Common
04:03 – Becoming a Pro
06:12 – There are a Million Ways to Monetize!
08:16 – Lisa in a Box!
10:29 – 3 Keys to Lisa's Success
13:22 – Think Outside the Box with Outsourcing
19:12 – Validation as Mamapreneurs
21:17 – Organization for Mamapreneurs
23:55 – The Sunday Basket
25:40 – How Blogging Brings Clarity
30:54 – A Simple Method for Efficient Blogging
35:19 – Paying for Emails?
40:45 – Bloggers can Sell on Etsy too!
42:20 – Lisa's App
47:01 – Lisa's Awesome Mom Moment
Press play on the podcast player below to hear Lisa's best organization tips and to learn how she helps more people in less time with her business, Organize365.
9 Businesses with One Thing in Common
Lisa comes from a long line of entrepreneurs. Her great-grandmother went to college well before that was the norm for women and ultimately owned her own floral shop! Her dad's side of the family had a similar bent towards owning their own businesses.
There was never any question that Lisa would go to college, but she knew that in the end she'd be an entrepreneur. Lisa viewed college not as a way to get her ideal job (she could create that all on her own!) but to get her MRS. degree. Yep, she knows it's not politically correct and confesses that she should have come of age in the fifties!
Lisa was a teacher before she had kids, but she also did direct sales. Once her children came along, she quit her teaching but continued on with direct sales. She then added tutoring, cleaning houses, and scrapbooking to her list of entrepreneurial endeavors! Lisa's business ventures got so crazy that at one point she had 9 schedule C's on her tax return! (My head is spinning just thinking about it!)
Finally, in 2012 after a really rough time period for her immediate and extended family, Lisa sat down to think about what she really wanted to do. She knew she was great at sales, but the question was, what did she want to sell? Where did her gifts and passions lie?
Lisa found the common thread in all of her business pursuits: organization! She got her teaching job because her co-teacher was so disorganized they needed Lisa to come in and organize the classroom. She then went on to organize the whole school!
Lisa's scrapbooking business was so productive for her and her clients because she helped them get organized first.
Lisa even wrote an e-book on direct sales called: How to Organize the Business of Direct Sales.
She had it! Lisa starting a professional organizing business and launched her website Organize365 in January of 2012.
Becoming a Pro
Lisa knew she was good at teaching and coaching, so she used that skill to create great content on her blog that would help others.
Even though she was passionate about helping others get organized, Lisa still hadn't realized she was “expert enough” to call herself a professional and get clients. Instead, she was making money by doing direct sales and hosting parties for organizational supplies.
Lisa's house parties were huge, and she couldn't figure out why so many people wanted to attend just to buy some plastic bins! Her friend said, “Everyone wants to know what a professional organizer has to say!”
It finally dawned on Lisa that she was a pro at this, and she'd better start acting like it. In April of 2012 Lisa started doing professional organizing full-time and her business was profitable right away.
In January of 2013, Lisa added her first team member to her in-home organizing team. In the Fall of 2013, she hired another person to work in her business, and she's hired several other team members since then.
There are a Million Ways to Monetize!
It's easy to look at other bloggers and think that replicating their business model will work for us. This isn't always the case! We each have different strengths, different tools at our disposal, and a different audience we're serving.
Lisa quickly grew her in-person organization business, but she wanted to monetize her blog too. She saw lots of bloggers making money from couponing, advertising, and working with brands.
She tried these methods a bit, but they didn't seem to work well for Lisa's audience or her skill set. She realized that she's better as a teacher, so she created more e-books to sell.
In 2012, Lisa wrote 10 steps to organize paper. Next, she wrote an e-book about her Sunday basket. Then Lisa got the rights back to her first published book called the ABC's of the Bible.
Continuing with her model of teaching, Lisa added a podcast just over a year ago.
(In true Lisa-style, she couldn't have just one, Lisa has 3! Successful Direct Sales, Organize365, and Professional Organizer's Think Tank.)
And finally, Lisa maintained her skill at direct sales, but she took a different, more modern approach. Rather than host home parties and assembling teams of sales people, Lisa used these great companies as affiliates on her blog.
Lisa in a Box!
If you're a great teacher or coach, I bet some of your clients have wished they could package you up in a box, order you online, and have you right there with them! Well, Lisa has done just that with her first physical product!
It's called Get All Your Papers Organized in One Weekend.
Lisa combines the knowledge you need to get started, the motivation in the form of her walking you through each step via audio CD, and the tools needed shipped right to you. There are quick-start guides so you don't have to read the full e-books if you don't want to, 3 sets of slash pockets and 2 ONE clips (both of these are a big part of Lisa's organizational system, so you don't have to hunt them down at the store), Sunday planning printables, and Organize 365 printables.
Could you come up with a way to help your long-distance customers by packaging yourself in a box? I bet you could!
3 Keys to Lisa's Success
Lisa points to 3 key strategies that help her grow her business and keep it profitable.
- Create a team! Lisa has several great team members who work for her. One person edits everything Lisa does. (She confessed that she can't spell and doesn't understand the rules of grammar!) Then Lisa hired someone to take over her Pinterest account. Can you believe that Lisa hasn't pinned a single thing from her account that has over 20,000 followers? Lisa hired someone to do all of that for her! Lisa also has someone who does everything for her podcast. She'll sit down and record 5 episodes in two hours, then send them off to Amanda who edits and does everything else!
- Find your money-maker. For Lisa, being a professional organizer has been the most profitable endeavor, and she was able to make money quickly. That one profitable branch of her business can easily fund everything else she's done
- Whatever you focus on expands! You can't focus on 10 things at once, so you'll have to pick which aspects of your business you want to grow the most. Right now she's focusing on her paper organizing kit, so of course, that's what's making the most money right now.
Lisa focuses on one big thing each month and then four smaller things. For example, next week Lisa is focused on getting her products into the Amazon store and figuring out shipping. Next week, she'll work on her 31 organizing videos for October. She's uploading them directly to Facebook each day to see if she can grow her Facebook following from 7,000 to 20,000 fans.In November, Lisa won't focus on Facebook as much. She likes to go really deep on a tiny thing and then analyze things a few months later to see what aspects of her business are worth the continued investment.
(Lisa's strategy for managing her time and new business ventures sounds so similar to Rachel Coley's. Sarah and I both agree that it's a great approach, and we use it for our business too! We can't do it all.. as much as we'd like to!)
Think Outside the Box with Outsourcing
Lisa highly recommends the book, Virtual Freedom by Chris Ducker. In the book, Chris tells readers to make 3 lists.
- Write down the things you hate doing. (This could be cutting the grass, cleaning your house, or editing your blog posts.)
- Write down the things you're struggling to do on your own. (Perhaps building your website or designing your logo.)
- Write down the things you feel, as a business owner, that you shouldn't be doing on a day-to-day basis. (Chris says this list is the most important! It could be editing your photos or posting on social media. Maybe it's shipping your orders out the door. Even if you enjoy doing these things, your time may be better spent elsewhere to grow your business.)
Lisa is a productivity nut! She wants to squeeze an extra task out of the hour and an extra minute out of every hour!
Lisa says that mompreneurs often miss important things they can outsource that would give them more time for their business. She has a list of 10 household tasks you can outsource.
You might feel guilty about this at first, but you have to think outside the box. If you outsource cleaning your house for $60-120 a week, you'd save yourself 5 hours a week of work. So Lisa looks at it this way: can she make at least $120 in that 5 hours of extra time? The answer for her is an absolute yes because she can work with a home organization client for $300 during that time.
Ask yourself, “How much does it cost me to do that task, and how much does it cost someone else to do that task?”
Another creative outsourcing solution:
Lisa says, “don't outsource your parenting,” but she does recommend getting help with the kids when they're little. Lisa used to hire a nanny on Wednesdays from 8 AM to 6 PM. Lisa was able to get 10 hours of productive, quiet work time for just $120. That was totally worth it! And in 10 hours of dedicated time, Lisa was able to plow through a ton of work versus working every naptime for 1.5 hours each day and feeling like you're not getting anywhere. If you don't have any funds for a sitter, consider swapping with a friend. You take her kids one day a week, and she takes yours on another. Then, you both get dedicated work time, and your kids have fun with their friends!
How to make the most of your work time:
Lisa recommends creating a work basket. As you think of tasks to do for your business, write them down and put them in your work basket. If you think of something to tell your business partner, just write it down and put it in the basket. Emails you have to respond to? Put them in the work basket! Then, when you've got your dedicated chunk of time, you know just what to tackle without getting sidetracked or distracted. You can plow through those little to-do's much faster than you realize when they're all in one place waiting for you.
Validation as Mamapreneurs
Another important mental aspect of having a dedicated time to work is that it gives your job some validation. It's earned a place on your calendar. You've made room for it. It's not just a casual gig anymore.
Sarah and I had our own esoteric discussion here about validation as Mamapreneurs. When Sarah filled out the paperwork for her daughter's orthodontist appointment, she put homemaker as her occupation. But she thought to herself today, “I should put self-employed!”
I agree, and I laughed and confessed that I've put “self-employed” on every bit of paperwork I get the moment we decided to launch our podcast!
It often takes quite a while (and maybe it will never happen!) for others to recognize your home business as valid, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't recognize it as such. (It's valid, brilliant business mom! We believe in you!)
Organization for Mamapreneurs
Lisa says it's so important for Mamapreneurs to write down their biggest goal for the week, and then no more than 3 top goals for each day for the home and for their business. She's created a free printable for you to try to organize those top tasks as well as get your week organized each Sunday!
When you start planning your top goals, you'll realize that email and social media don't often make the list, but without a plan, those tasks easily creep into the first place spot each day.
Lisa also blocks off one work day each week to spend 6-8 hours on something that will grow her business to another level. So, for example, getting her products on Amazon, or creating new videos or a new product.
The Sunday Basket
Lisa's main method for organizing paper involves something called, “The Sunday Basket. It's a basket, box or bag that you keep on your kitchen counter. Every bit of paper that you receive, along with other simple to-do's goes into this basket. For example, a bill that doesn't need to be paid right that second, paperwork from the kids' school, an item to return to Walmart.
On Sunday after the kids are in bed, take out every single thing, touch it and ask, “can this wait until next Sunday or does it need to be done this week?” Everything that must be done that week should have a plan for action. In this way, all of your paperwork and to-do's are in one, manageable place, and you only tackle the things that need to be tackled, without forgetting anything along the way.
How Blogging Brings Clarity
Once you start blogging regularly, you'll quickly realize that it can clarify what you're good at and what your readers respond to.
Lisa quickly realized that she was constantly talking about organizing paperwork, and her audience really responded. A bonus of this is that Lisa ranks really high in Google for terms related to organizing paper because no one talks about it! People discuss going paperless or they simply pretend all that paper doesn't exist.
Lisa has dug deep when it comes to organizing paper. Here's what she recommends:
- Gather up every piece of paper from your whole house. The papers on your nightstand. Your kids' art work, receipts…everything!
- Put it all into a laundry basket (or two!) Lisa says that people generally start with 2 full laundry baskets and by week 6-8 of organizing their paper they get their Sunday Basket down to a manageable size.
- Tackle a new paper challenge with Lisa each week. She'll walk you through all the different items you'll find in your basket: what to do with cash, projects, receipts, and more.
- Keep going. Lisa gets that no one wants to do paper! It's hard for her to get clients to do it even when she's standing right there with them! But if you can get a handle on the kitchen counter paperwork, you'll feel like Supermom! It's worth it!
A Simple Method for Efficient Blogging
When Lisa started blogging in January of 2012, all she knew was that she needed to be consistent, she needed to have a niche, and she needed to create content.
She came up with the idea of a series in order to be consistent and help others get organized right along with her. The challenge is called: 40 Weeks, One Whole House.
Lisa divided her house into 40 zones, and she tackled a different zone each week. The next year, Lisa did the challenge with her readers again, but this time she hired a professional photographer to take better photos of her work. The year after that, Lisa did the 40-week challenge again but this time she added a podcast so her readers could hear her talking as though she was right there with them helping them organize their homes.
Lisa says it takes going through the challenge about 3 times to really make your home look great!
Sarah and I both LOVED this genius strategy of creating awesome, helpful content but just adding a bit more each year. Lisa says there are only so many ways you can organize a laundry room. So rather than write 16 fluffy blog posts on the topic, she writes one killer post that motivates her readers to take action.
Is there an insanely helpful series you can create for your readers and then repeat on your blog, year-after-year?
Paying for Emails?
This year, Lisa decided to offer her 40-week challenge as an email auto-responder series as an added help for her readers. The problem was, she was using Mailchimp, and when she received new participants, they could start at week 1, but they couldn't skip ahead and join the whole group of challengers if they wanted to.
Lisa decided to switch to InfusionSoft which offers both options for a new subscriber. Then, no matter where someone signed up, everyone will be back at week 1 together the next Fall.
Because Infusionsoft is quite expensive, Lisa knew she had to justify this expense. She charges a one-time fee of $40 for the 40-week email series. Once you pay for the series, you'll get it forever until you unsubscribe.
Lisa knew if she could sell just 5-10 of these email subscriptions each month, that would pay for Infusionsoft. She's more than met that goal! She's not getting hundreds of sales, but the people who do sign up really love it. Everything they need for each week's challenge is all in one place, and they just click the link in their inbox.
Bloggers can Sell on Etsy too!
Lisa's not a handmade maven, but she does have a lot of digital products (and a physical one now too!) that she wanted to sell all in one place. Lisa decided to open an Etsy shop as the hub for her products.
Her shop, Organize365, has been open since May of 2014 and she's had over 700 sales to date. Some of Lisa's products cost over $90 too!
If you're a blogger struggling to create a beautiful storefront for your products, consider opening an Etsy shop and linking right to it from your blog. It's so easy to get started, and Etsy makes the shopper experience a bit more user-friendly and streamlined than many of the cheaper apps you could use on your own site.
If you're a coach or expert in a given field, Etsy can be the perfect place to make more passive income. Lisa took all of her coaching and teaching knowledge and turned it into digital products. Not everyone can afford to use her as a coach, and not everyone lives close enough to have Lisa organize their home in person, but with digital products and Etsy, Lisa can serve her audience in more ways.
Lisa is always looking for ways to better serve her audience and make life easier for them. In the Spring of 2015, she decided to have an app developed for her 40-week organizing challenge.
Lisa paid $2,000 for the app and pays $50/month for hosting. Her app is available for both android and ios. Inside the app, Lisa's challengers can find the podcast and blog post related to that week's challenge without searching and without being distracted by all the other content on her site.
The coolest thing about this app? Lisa can send out push notifications whenever she wants! She can tell people, “hey it's week four, tell me if you're going to sell or donate your items this week!” Their app will show a red circle to let them know there's something new to see.
From the app, Lisa's challengers can link straight into her Facebook group and chat with each other. LIsa says, “it's so hard to organize your house by yourself. The community aspect really helps.”
How's the app going? Lisa says she has about 3,000 users right now, and they're equally split between android and ios. She's still not sure if the app itself will be a revenue generator or not. At this point, she doesn't charge for it.
Right now, the app is just serving her current audience better and allowing her to connect with them in a new way. Lisa believes that all of the 3,000 users were people who were already on her email list or listening to her podcast. They haven't found her organically at this point, but the app has only been out for 6 weeks.
We can't wait to see how the app continues to grow and serve her audience! What a cool idea!
Lisa's Awesome Mom Moment
When your teenage son respects what you do, you know you're on the right track! Tune in to hear what Lisa's son told her recently!
Stay in Touch with Lisa!
Lisa has created a special page just for Brilliant Business Moms Listeners. It has the Sunday basket printables to help you organize your week and a checklist for anyone interested in becoming a professional organizer.
Head to Organize365.com/brilliant
Other links mentioned in the episode: Our super secret freebies page for our email subscribers.