FROM PASSION PROJECT TO FULL TIME BUSINESS

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EPISODE 03

Donna-Webeck-Profile

ABOUT THE SHOW

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Today is our first guest episode we’re fortunate to have a very long-time friend of mine, Donna Webeck from Prestige Property Copy to share her journey in starting a niche business.

You will hear in this episode how Donna took her passion for the written word and blogging, identified an untapped niche in another passion area and has now married the two together and turned it into a full-time business she has built from the ground up.

It’s a fascinating story and Donna shares openly her experiences, the highs and lows and her lessons learnt so far.

WHAT YOU'LL LEARN

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  • How Donna has turned her passion for copywriting into a successful niche business.
  • The importance of using hashtags # on Instagram to attract and grow your clientele
  • Balancing family and work life when starting a business and the unique challenges working from home can create
  • How Donna went about Identifying an under-serviced target market
  • Growing pains when starting a business such as getting help and business planning
  • Using SEO and organic traffic to drive sales leads through your website
  • Overcoming initial negative feedback of your business idea
  • The daily practices you need to implement to help make smiling a natural part of your day.
  • Going from ‘this is just a ‘hobby’ mindset to being a legitimate business owner.
  • Why outsourcing the tasks that are not your core business activity is so important for future growth.

EPISODE TRANSCRIPT

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G’day g’day and welcome to another episode of the Business Made Easy
podcast where we make business easy. I’m your host Jason Skinner and
wherever you are listening in the world, I want to welcome you to the show
and I hope business is going well for you. Today’s episode is an interesting
episode. It’s an interview with a lady that I’ve known for some time now
Donna Webeck and Donna’s got an interesting story in that she converted a
hobby that she was doing in terms of copywriting and blogging and turned
that into a business in a niche area that she’s equally passionate about. So
she’s merged these two passions that she has had together as a hobby and
then turned it into a business as well as raising a young family as well
Donna
Hi, thanks for having me, Jason!
Jason
No worries! Great to have you and how about if we start with, where is your
business at the moment? What’s going on in your business at the moment?
Donna
My business is really still in a growth phase – I’ve been serious about it for the
last 12 months. I’ve got big plans for it in the next coming 12 months for
our hope to grow a lot more, but sometimes I am still surprised that I even
have a business. Sometimes I’ve got to remind myself that I am in business
and not just doing a job that I love…
Jason
So is it fair to say that when you did start, it was like, I’ll see how it goes and
that just evolved?
Donna
Yeah, definitely! It’s more of a passion project. I wanted to be able to make
money by doing something that I enjoy. I love writing, and I love
property, so that seemed to be a natural fit. It was only when we were selling
and buying property ourselves that I realise that a lot of the listings that real
estate agents have were written quite poorly, not very emotive, and I
thought that’s something I enjoy doing, writing like emotional copy,
something that’s going to resonate with people. So I just started sort of
making subtle inquiries and had my background in writing and then
eventually I managed to start my own business and get my first client on
board, and that’s snowballed from there.
Jason
So it actually came from just like identifying that there was no one actually
servicing that market, and then you’re going, “hey…
Donna
Yeah…
Jason
“… that’s a passion as well…”
Donna
Yeah…well, I didn’t get the best…uhm, I asked a couple of real estate agents,
you know, “Hey, who writes the copy for this ads?” and most of them were
telling me that it was done in-house and that real estate agents didn’t like to
pay for that sort of thing and I’d probably be best directing my attention
elsewhere, so I was a little bit defeated by that, but then I thought surely
there’s got to be people out there that are time-poor, like agents that are
time-poor, and I’ve just got to find them. So I just continued my search until I
found the first one. And I felt, as soon as I had the first client, I started to feel
legitimate, like hey I can call this a business now. So and that’s when I decided
to stop calling myself by my name, Donna and decided I needed a business
name, so Prestige Property Copy was born.
Jason
Great, and so now you’ve just got agents that’s spread. How did you typically
grow? You’re doing social media? or…
Donna
Yeah,…a little bit of everything. That’s how I get my first client, was through
Linkedin. I did an ad and a post on there, and an agent got in touch with me
and said he was willing to give me a go. It took a little while for him to actually
get around to using me, so I was so nervous for a couple of months thinking,
“Do I really have my first shot or not?, But then he was true to his word and
gave me a go, and I felt, once I had that first person I could really pursue it. I
could show that I had a portfolio and then I could chase other potential
clients. So I did use social media, Instagram actually was quite useful as well.
Jason
Is that because of the visual nature….
Donna
Yeah, yeah, and using a lot of hashtags, you get found a lot more, because of
the hashtags that you use. Something like some business through LinkedIn,
business through Instagram. But I also find “word of mouth” – agents that are
happy to refer you in-house to their colleagues as well, and I’ve had a couple
of people just find me by my website as well.
Jason
So just organic search… that traffic coming to your website.
Donna
Yeah…
Jason
Great!
Donna
Not a lot of that. I still need to work on that part of my business quite a bit,
but it’s more me being proactive rather than my website being proactive.
Jason
Okay, so you’re driving…you’re actively out there still driving business to
come in.
Donna
Yeah…the goal is to get my website to do that for me, that’s one of my
business goals in the next 12 months as well.
Jason
You mention the hashtags with Instagram, that’s something often we’ve
looked a lot too. It’s whether, or not they really do make a difference, do
you… have you found that?
Donna
Yes, totally! Well, I wasn’t sure… I was on Instagram with my personal
account, wasn’t that fussed on Instagram. I realised I was in a visual medium, I
should really try and explore it, and I gave it like I did a little bit of research
into it and everyone was really big on the hashtags. I thought okay, even not
seemed to be a little bit icky…a little bit tacky. No, give a go… and went from
like zero to a thousand followers within months just because of hashtags, I
believe… Oh, the content I was sharing too obviously appealed. There was a
mixed… not just the properties that I was involved in.. I was making sure I
found beautiful imagery of interior design and things like that, beautiful
properties all over the world. But I’ve always hash-tagged them with about 20
different hashtags and I kept getting found and followed, so yeah really seem
to help.
Jason
I think I’ve seen a little bit the same thing… do you think that because you’re
putting those great images straight into that category…that’s probably
helped.
Donna
Yeah…works quite well
Jason
That’s fantastic, Donna. Tell me when you started the business, some of the
trials that you had along the way, has there been many obstacles? You got a
young, a boy and a girl?
Donna
Yup!
Jason
Your husband is working as well, so life’s always a balance – how’s that been
for you?
Donna
It’s definitely a juggle… for so long I’ve always made my work come second to
everything else, but when I got serious about it and realised this is what I
wanted to do, I had to step up and claim my share of needing to have days,
dedicated days for work. I need help with drop-offs for schools and pick-ups
and things like that. And I’m lucky that my husband was quite willing to step
in as and when needed. But it’s always at the back of your mind, you know,
that you’re not quite in business a hundred per cent yet because that’s
there’s that part of you that still needs to be there for the kids. My youngest
still isn’t in school. So as soon as she goes to school next year, that’s when my
grand plan for expansions really going to kick in.
Jason
Do you see, because also I believe your office is at home, which is also
another challenge, has that added to the weight of it?
Donna
Yeah, Because you will never really leave work when you work at home, it’s
always there. I’ve walked past my desk countless times a day. But I think that
in saying that when you love what you do you don’t mind to dedicating extra
hours in the day or night to it, around your normal work hours. If I have a
deadline or commitment I’m going to make it no matter what, so it does mean
I had to work at night when the kids are asleep, I’ll do that. I don’t resent
it as much because I love the job and I wanted to build my career in this field,
so I just know I have to do what I have to do.
Jason
Great! I guess other problems that you’ve had in terms of going into
business, the transition to identifying that it is a business from a hobby
because when you do start out, it starts as a passion project and you hadn’t
necessarily looked at the monetisation of it or a business. How was that
realization?
Donna
Yeah,it’s funny because I remember one person saying to me, “Is this
even a job, like, don’t these agents have good enough grammar to do it
themselves” ; like, “Who’s going to pay you to walk around the house and
write a few notes”, and you know, “put a few sentences together.” And that
kind of knocked my confidence a little bit, because I said,, people don’t
actually think this is a legitimate thing to do. But I’ve realised thankfully that
person was in the minority, and there really is a way that you can grow.
You’ve just got to believe in yourself enough that it is worthy of a business.
And you just got to find the right client. There are a lot of real estate agents
out there that do believe they can do it themselves and didn’t want a
professional copywriter to help them out, but I’ve just learned to not target
those ones anymore, just look for those who higher agents who have the
marketing budgets to be able to pay for things like that.
Jason
So you’ve eventually now sort of identify a key target, customer avatar.
Donna
Yeah… Your average Mom and Dad buyer who are buying the house worth
$500,000 – $700,000 or something like that, (I’m sure there’s still house out
there for that, worth that somewhere) those agents generally aren’t going to
be my target market, but anyone who’s selling prestige property is going to
be more interested in having a professional copywriter. Not only do they not
have the time, I think I just want to make it stand out from the crowd, so
that’s one of their avenues of doing it. I know people think too that it’s
the images that’s more, attractive more than the words, but I think it’s the
combination of both
Jason
a visual…
Donna
Yeah, and that’s what’d I found when we were looking to buy, I was just as
interested in reading about it as I was looking at it, so I figured, If was like that
then the others are like that too.
Jason
So in terms of the business plan for that, have you, looking at a business, have
you actually sat down there and worked out a business plan for the next
period of time … or still a little bit of part evolution.
Donna
It’s still a part….sometimes I think I need to get more serious about it and
think, you know, I have to remind myself this is a business. I’m not just
somebody who’s writing copy for real estate agents, this is a business. So I
have started to think about what I need to do, to get more serious about it. I
guess I should call that a business plan. It gets a bit daunting though because
you think you’re doing something that you love because you love it, and then
the kind of enjoyment gets taken away when you get to start thinking about
tax returns…Yeah, things like that. And you know, you’ve got to be
responsible I suppose. Make sure you’ve got all bases covered.
Jason
Yeah, particularly then the protection of that business – the building of
goodwill, and building of the client base and then there is going to have a
time when you got your money you actually realize you’ve got to plan for
tax…
Donna
Yes, and I know the superannuation and things like that. They’re all things
that I just think that older people think about, and then like, “Am I, do I have
to think about that?” I’m sure I do have to, but I was trying to be ignorant to
those what it was at the moment.
Jason
Yeah, It’s one of those things that everyone puts off, but then realise that the
hardship… And so business plan is in the wind.
Donna
Yeah, it’s on the to-do-list…
Jason
It’s on the to-do list. And you have been doing work with still growing the
business… How do you scale what you’re doing – have you looked at ways
you can scale what you do? There’s a lot of physically writing.
Donna
Yeah, I know a lot of people have, my husband for one, suggested, I need to
streamline things a bit more, like maybe have templates and stuff like that.
But I don’t know, I just treat every project so individually. I want to give it my
all and my every new attention, so I tried to keep, I just want everything to be
fresh. Maybe I’ll get stale down the line, but Uhm, that’s probably the better
way, more efficient way that I could do things, but the passion is still running
so high for that at the moment I haven’t really gotten to that jaded point yet,
but I need to…
Jason
Wait until you get the tax bill… you’ll be like “what am I doing this for?”
Donna
Yeah, that’s right I know it and I need to, learn to delegate and things like
that, which I’m starting to, which is good, outsourcing things…
Jason
Do you have a team that you can outsource things to?
Donna
I haven’t, but I’ve just started, like my website, for instance, though I could
manage things like that website myself, but I’m not technically-minded at all,
so I could spend the whole day staring at the back-end of it, and not know
exactly what I need to do, but think that I should be doing it, because it’s my
business. I’ve just started to realise, okay, I’m wasting my time by doing
this. I could be chasing another client or doing something else more valuable
with my time. So now I got someone to help me with that. I’m going to be
getting a bookkeeper onboard soon and to make sure I’ll look after
everything to do with that, BAS some things like that. And that’s the extent of
it so far, that’s going to be the next few steps in my plan. Then I think
once it’s been done, I’d really feel like I’m in business… on a serious thing.
Jason
Yeah, yeah, because I think, that’s the thing, it’s a smart way to go is to
package up the things you’re not good at and then just really clear enough to
focus on things that you are good at.
Donna
Yeah, That’s what I’ve been trying sell for this, real estate agents that I work
with. You need to do what you do best…and sell. And so I’ll do what I do best
and right for you. But then I wasn’t doing the same in my own business. I was
still thinking that I had to be in control of everything. I sort of forgot that once
I got the website build, I didn’t really think long term of that, you need to keep
updating and evolving and things like that…
Jason
Then you’ve got to learn WordPress.
Donna
Yeah, yeah, not easy when you don’t have that sort of tech-savvy frame of
mind. Yeah definitely learning to delegate and I’ve got a couple of people that
are on standby, should I get really busy, that I can pass on some work off to.
Jason
So are they ghost-writers that can write for you?
Donna
Yeah I never started off with any grand plan of expansion of having like a
team or anything like that, but the further I go along in business, the busier it
gets, I think “hmm, it might not be bad to have something to fall back on if
you need to..”
Jason
Particularly, is the clientele based mainly in one region or one area, like, Gold
Coast area?
Donna
Yeah, mostly Gold Coast area… I have some marketing clients in Sydney that I
do some brochures and things for and a couple in Brisbane, but the majority
of market clientele now are locals so I can go and view the properties in
person. They take a little bit longer to do it. It’s a lot quicker when you can
actually beset the images and texts from that something out from there. So
that’s probably another way I could market myself down the track – is to
bring in more work that won’t take as much effort to get done – won’t have to
factor in the travel time and viewing time and things like that.
Jason
Is this something you’ve got to do – see the property?
Donna
I like to do it, because I really like to get a real sense of the place and one minute
I’m driving there, I’m taking notice of the street that I’m driving into the shop
that is around, I could get real sense for that area and I like to talk to the
vendors and casually ask them a couple of questions about, “What did you
like about living here., what’s your favorite thing about living here, what are
you gonna miss the most, and it just gives you another hook to include in
there and just think if they like that then potential people that might like that
too. So just trying to weave as much information as possible in there.
Jason
Fantastic! You mentioned earlier that you’re wanting to grow your business..
and getting your website growing more to work for new customers as
supposed to physically having to go out and chase them, how are you
approaching that within your business?
Donna
I’m currently doing a very intensive SEO, Search Engine Optimisation course
at the moment. So that is designed to drive more clients to my website
without me physically chasing them. There’s so much more to SEO that I ever
knew possible. I thought it was just sitting in and throwing a few keywords in
here and there into your website. I think the course convenor is great, she
said something like most people just publish and pray and hope that that’s
going to hit the spot, and I think that’s what I’ve been doing. But I’ve realised
there’s so much more work to be done. But when you do the work the payoff
is really good for business that’s definitely something I would recommend.
Jason
So you’re actively working on the SEO, so everything you’re putting in your
website are actually including an SEO concept.
Donna
Yeah, yeah, everything, everything I’m doing with my site now is with that in
mind. Hence while, I’ve just engaged with someone to help me with my site
because I realised that I can’t do it all myself. So you know, getting my
site-speed fixed, so with that’s going to help with my SEO, my bounce rate,
and you know optimising my pages and focusing on my keywords.
Jason
So explain a little, a bounce rate is what?
Donna
Uh, so people might be looking for a real estate copywriter and then click on
to my site. But if it’s not loading, fast enough, they’re going to click off
straight away…
Jason
Oh, so that’s something like a metric measuring whether people are sticking
around….
Donna
Yeah, they’re not going to stick around so they’re going to bounce off to
another site, instead. So trying to get my speed improved, scaling my images
down, so many things I didn’t know that I was doing wrong, but I guess
knowledge is power and now I know these things I’m just trying to rectify
them so that my website will work harder for me.
Jason
Because that’s the trick when you start out, everyone says get WordPress
and start building it and you think “okay, well it’s done now and everything
should just flow”. But there’s so much in the background. Probably a good
reason that if you’re not working in that web space that you’re actually
outsourcing.
Donna
Definitely..yeah there’s no way I could fit it all in, so it’s such a relief to know
that there are people out there that that’s their job, that’s why they do it –
happy to palm that off to someone else so I don’t have to stare at a blank
screen and think “I don’t know what I’m doing here”.
Jason
So the future is I guess driving more traffic to your site organically through
SEO, and then scaling your time to be able to handle that and then at the
same time the background will I guess just summarize is to have a better
accounting, putting a business framework down behind your passion
project…
Donna
Yeah, that’s perfect! I really, I can’t bury my head in the sand anymore and
pretend them, just somebody doing a job that she loves, and oh, I’m in
business, that’s right. I’ve got to be more serious about it. Take it more
seriously if I wanted to succeed, and I do, then I have to make sure that the
frameworks are in place and I’m doing all the other parts of the business that
you need to do in order to be successful.
Jason
I think to have that under control you mentioned the fun aspect of that
before, the passion aspect… if you get that back end under control, you’ve got
that piece of mind that all that is under control, we can still focus on that and
still have that passion for them in doing them ….
Donna
Yeah, definitely… And I think for so long, I just didn’t realise that I was
allowed to delegate these things. I just thought I have to do them all, but then
it’s just a relief to know it’s okay. There are people out there that specialise in
these things… you don’t have to do it all. You can get other people to help you
with these things. You just do what you do best, and let them do what they do
best.
Jason
Yeah, yeah, and that’s under control
Donna
Yeah…
Jason
Cool, the future for you
Donna
The future is hopefully bright….and as I mentioned before my daughter goes
to school…my youngest will be at school next year, so I can really throw
myself into this a 110%. That’s what, I feel like everything has been leading
up to that moment. So, all the stuff that I’m trying to cram into in the second
half of this year’s in preparation for next year, like, really a very big year, so I
hope to have exponential growth next year.
Jason
That’s fantastic Donna and that sounds like an exciting road ahead. Growth is
always good in business and it’s good to see particularly that you’re putting
that framework in behind it, as you go. So thank you for coming on today. I
really appreciate you sharing your story with us… your journey and where
you’re heading.
Donna
Thank You!
Jason
If people will find more about Prestige Property Copy, where will they go?
Donna
Yeah, they just head to my website, which is
www.prestigepropertycopy.com.au and everything that they need to know
will be there.
Jason
Fantastic, that’s great! Well, thanks for coming in Donna we’ll talk to you
soon!
Donna
Thank You!
Well, there you go, guys. Donna Webeck from Prestige Property Copy and
I’m sure you’ll agree she’s had an amazing journey going from a hobby
that she’s passionate about turning it into a full-time business that’s just
doing well and she’s got an exciting journey ahead of her balancing family as
well as growing businesses. And she’s really I’m sure you’ll agree got in there
and learned a lot as she has gone along so good on you Donna. Looking
forward to we may even catch up with Donna next year see how she’s
progressed and we’ll do another interview and just see what’s
evolved for her.
If you haven’t already please go over to that Business Made Easy podcast
homepage and if you’ve got a question you can leave it there on the on the
businessmadeeasypodcast.com homepage. There’s a red record button
there. Feel free to record your question and we’ll get it answered on the
show as soon as we can for you. Also, don’t forget the Business Made Easy
Facebook community. There is a group there that of fantastic business
people that are all over there sharing ideas and discussions and solving
problems and things like that so feel free to join that and you can do that over
it Business Made Easy podcast Facebook Page. So feel free to do
that. Well, that’s it for me this week. Thank you so much for your company.
Wherever you are I really appreciate your time and I look forward to talking
to you next week.

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