“I made the mistake early on trying to be all things to all types of people”
Susan Guillory is a small business expert and the president of Egg Marketing. Her career started out with a specialization in PR for small business owners but over the years the focus has shifted. Susan now focuses on content strategy and content writing for her clients, which range from software, technology and business services. She wants her clients to understand that writing is marketing and gets joy from helping them succeed.
“It makes me really happy to be able to give really great content to clients who don’t have the time or skills to do it themselves.”
On this podcast, Susan discusses her journey as an entrepreneur, which includes:
The challenges that she has faced as an entrepreneur
Harvesting new clients
Understanding your worth and value as an entrepreneur
Finding your ideal client and niche
Tune in and hear how Susan’s career has changed direction throughout her journey and how she has come to terms with some tough decisions she has had to make as a business owner, from firing clients to learning to say no. If you were inspired by Susan, check out her social media channels and website link below!
John: Welcome to Local SEO Today! With me today is Susan Gillory. Susan is a small business expert and the president of Egg marketing she is a content writing guru who manages content tragedy. She’s worked with companies and software technology and business services and has also penned several marketing and entrepreneurial books. Thanks for joining us today Susan.
Susan: Thanks for having me John.
John: Great well I know you’re a busy lady and I really want to thank you for taking your time out of your busy schedule to be on this podcast show. So let’s start off, tell me a little bit about yourself and what’s your expertise.
Susan: So I am a writer and I always have been a writer since I could hold a pencil in my hand I’ve been able to translate that into a career in marketing helping businesses of all size from the smallest mom-and-pop to large global enterprises, helping them with their content, so my job everyday is just writing I love writing about technology, mobile, apps, software, all kind of things like that so that’s what I’ve been doing for the past 13 years with my company and a few years before that as well.
John: Yeah so question, I would like to always ask people is, did you study to become who you are or did it just kind of fall on your lap.
Susan: Oh, good question. So my degree, one of my degrees was in English and I thought I would write for magazines this was back in 1999, the magazines didn’t like my background in terms of writing and they wanted more of a writing specific background so I went back and got my MBA and I realized that marketing is writing so yes and no you know I was trained in marketing in business as well as entrepreneurship through my master’s degree but as you know blogging has changed so much, changed what content looks like over the past 10 plus years, so I also kind of learned learned on the job because the way I wrote for my English degree or even my marketing degree is not how I write blog content now because that’s sort of evolved over time, so it’s been sort of an on-the-job learning experience for the most part things.
John: Perfect and then in terms of your career, did you work for companies prior to kind of doing your own, starting your own company or was this always something that you wanted to do right from the onset.
Susan: So I did work for a few private companies prior to starting my business and I suspect the next question you may ask is did I want to be an entrepreneur, no I had no plan or kind of found myself in a position with the last company where I wasn’t in line before what’s happening there so I found myself unemployed. So I got on MySpace which at the time is a thing since how long ago it was found a classified ad for someone looking for a press release. I could do that, made a few hundred dollars doing that and realized I could do this all day long and there were a lot of businesses that needed marketing help that maybe couldn’t afford to hire a director of marketing or a full-time employee and so I came in and launched from there.
John: Oh that’s a great story, I mean and every entrepreneur that’s listening I mean sometimes it just happens right that you become an entrepreneur, situation life happens and you never know what’s gonna happen and it’s great that you started something that you had some experience but did you have much business experience in terms of running a business or knowing how to successfully run a business.
Susan: So my ex-husband and I had started a few businesses with eBay was selling products, so I had a little understanding of sort of you know having a budget, needing to market, needing to find your audience so some of that and the rest came from the foundations that I learned in my MBA but I think there’s nothing as you can attest there’s nothing like actually doing it to teach you.
John: Yes so how did you start off like, I know you put some floaters, ads out there you attracted some classified ads etc but how did you discover who your ideal customer was, who your real audience was.
Susan: That took a while, I looked at a lot of freelance writing boards that were Craigslist as well that were people looking for the kind of services I could offer. I made the mistake early on of trying to be all things to all types of people I’m trying to write things I had no business doing, just because I you know I wanted the money and I was hungry I wanted the experience but it took many years to realize that there were certain industries as well as types of writing that I really excel, excelled at and would get more business because I could take those referrals from past clients to get more projects.
John: And I think that’s a very valid point because at the beginning of any entrepreneurial journey, everyone’s hungry and just wants a sale and you’re gonna take on every single thing because you don’t know who your ideal customer is and you don’t even even know if this is gonna be a successful business or not right so you pretty much go out there, do as much as you can and hopefully you realize and pivot and figure out who is your ideal customer and then you form a vertical or niche or you kind of know exactly how to market directly to them. So that’s a really valid point of yours so in terms of growing up like I know you mentioned you studied your English degree as well as doing your MBA but did you ever have a passion in becoming an entrepreneur? like what inspired you or who inspired you?
Susan: You know it wasn’t really on my radar, my family and no one in my family had owned their own business, but I’ve always been kind of a color outside of the lines kind of gal and I think that once I understood entrepreneurship was that I didn’t have a boss limiting what I could do you know what I could learn, what I could offer, I kind of inspired myself that what I think and as I got to know other entrepreneurs I began to look at how they did business and appreciate and learn from their mistakes and lessons.
John: So that’s another good point where how did you go out find other entrepreneurs in the same kind of situation you were in because that’s the biggest challenge there is today, like everyone starts off wanting to be their own boss but they’ll soon realize that it’s a very lonely space and you want a connector you want to throw ideas with people like mentors or coaches or communities or forums how did you go out reaching out to people that were kind of like mine or the same situation as yourself.
Susan: It’s especially hard for those of us that work from home right?
Susan: You know there are shared workspaces which I’ve never experienced myself, but you know you can interact with more people but I spent a lot of time in the early years networking locally. I was local networking event and the funny thing is they didn’t usually result in business, but they resulted in friendships, people I could bounce ideas off, people I could learn from and then you know after that I started attending more like small business conferences, marketing conferences to sharpen up my skills as well as meet other people and from those I would get I got one of my longest lasting clients at a conference that I volunteered at, as well as a freelance writer that I hired so I’m always looking for opportunities to engage with others in my industry as well as other industries just to learn from people.
John: And I think again you bring out another really good point where just being vulnerable and going
out there not expecting anything. Where a lot of business owners expect something in return right away. If you go in open-minded and you want to just go in to learn and I’ll give you my scenario that I kind of did last year where I wanted to learn how to be in front of a larger crowd and do public speaking so I set out where I wanted a goal to go you know set my own kind of seminars and workshops and conferences where I would speak in front of a large group where my whole goal was really just to get comfortable speaking in front of people, not expecting anything in return, formed some really good relationships good contacts and customers right but going there my whole objective was really to practice my public speaking and not think about the business aspect, so it’s more of a personal thing. So that was great, in terms of some of the challenges so I know you’ve been doing it for 10 plus years now, what were some of the major challenges or hurdles that you have to face early on and continually do.
Susan: Well I think I mentioned one. just trying to do too much rather than you know zeroing in on what it was good at, another thing in the marketing and PR space is that technology has changed it so much, I offer PR services I branded myself as like the press release expert from books to do all this and then I just sort of reached this point where I feel like press releases were not as valuable and so I looked at the clients I had you know the results we were getting and it was just not what I got with clients in the past so I made the big decision to pull away from PR completely and that was like severing my arm right because I had already you know established myself as PR and to this day people still reach out to me for public relations and I just say I don’t do it and that was scary but what I’ve noticed is that in the absence of that other work has filled in that I find more fulfilling and I’m able to get the results that I want for my client.
John: And I think again you bring on a good point in terms of a journey of an entrepreneur people have to pivot accordingly. So you realize early on or even midway throughout you know cycle of your business that PR did no longer had the type of return, so that they used to write people are not getting good results right so you have to you know gravitate towards an offering or service that people actually want your space, so that’s great and you know you always have to figure out like in terms of technology what’s out there right so you use it to your advantage so how does has I helped you in your business.
Susan: Oh well it’s staying on top of it because I write about technology a lot so I what’s out there I have a client in the mobile marketing space and I only do nominally you know much about at the beginning but I really kind of dived into it because it’s so interesting to me, but it’s reading content it’s understanding is playing with the like mobile wallet app so that I can understand them from the consumers point of view and then write about them from the business side.
John: So is it very fast-paced because from what I you know technology there’s new software, there’s new devices there’s so much going on apps, it’s very similar to how Google has updates on a daily basis, we just have to stay on top of it right there’s all these industry news and influencers I follow I’m sure it’s very similar in your space because if you’re a writer and you’re an expert in that space how much time do you actually devote on reading and doing research.
Susan: That’s the hard part of every article I write, but I don’t spend a lot of time leisurely reading about my industry because I just I’m too busy creating and so there’s kind of push and pull there I need to be on top of the industry, but I also have to spend the time creating content.
John: Yeah it’s always a challenge right as an entrepreneur there’s only so many limited hours in the day and you have to pick and choose what’s important and what you want to do throughout the day so, any mistakes large, small that you can think of setbacks that you had to overcome over the years as an entrepreneur.
Susan: You know working with clients have been an interesting lesson throughout the years I struggled a long time for not valuing my my worth enough, so charging too little and then keeping the client long term you know it’s fine to do one article for a lower price but then you’ve locked in that rate and you have them for years and you pick yourself later and not being afraid you know I was often afraid and I would low ball my rate and then they would immediately agree yes I should have I should have doubled battery first 20 percent more, I’ve gotten braver about that where I will almost try to price them out because if they’re not serious then I know that we’re not gonna be a good fit but if they’re willing to pay what I know that I’m worth now they’ll pay it.
John: I think pricing is such a difficult dilemma for a lot of entrepreneurs especially when you’re starting off you don’t know what the marketer tails and what you’re worth. But as you have years of experience and you have a lot of clients and you know what kind of value you bring to customers you know exactly what you’re worth and what your time is worth right but that comes with experience so a lot of the entrepreneurs that are just starting, it’s very difficult question to kind of answer as well right like you have to play around with it and understand that not everyone’s gonna be your client and it’s good to fire customers and maybe overcharge people that you don’t want to work with like these are things that you’ll learn as a business owner and you know I’m sure you’ve done it yourself with your type of clients and clients that you’re not you know a good fit with just be honest with and let them know even though they want to work with you it’s better to let them know like, it’s probably not the best option.
Susan: That’s scary because just emotionally it was so stressful to work with them and it’s like no amount of money is worth, there’s many ways to say that you know but then also being afraid because you’re losing out on that revenue, but again like I find this kind of magic thing happens that when I have a hole in my revenue stream something comes in replaces it like it’s not that amount than better so I really try to work.
John: Exactly I think that is ying yang or karma or whatever you call it because if you spread out good work and you’re doing the best you can, things will happen to you right and you’re gonna lose bad customer like you’re gonna lose customers and if they’re bad it’s better that you lose them and even if you lose good ones things will happen, it’s the weirdest thing and this happened to me so many times over the years and it’s like you’re just doing the best you can and that’s all you asked for and something happens the world knows and basically it just falls on your lap, it’s the weirdest thing it’s like you lose a customer today tomorrow you’ll get a customer that’s dying to come to you and it’s weird it’s so weird so in terms of tips has there been anything that you can kind of bring some more insight or value in terms of like you know someone that’s just starting off what kind of things would you point them to, like what would you guide them as like as an entrepreneur what has worked for you.
Susan: Well I would say the biggest thing is to not skip marketing, I know a lot of businesses sometimes gonna start out with an existing customer base and they said great we’ve got customers we don’t need to spend time or money on marketing but that’s today, you know I was weathering the recession of 2009 here in the US and that’s really kind of hit me then I should have been marketing before enduring that because then suddenly everything stopped ground to a halt and I’ve been doing the relationship building prior it would have helped with business during that period, so always market for tomorrow you don’t have to have a big budget if you’ve got the time you can do the content social media yourself, email marketing do have kind of a basket of several different types of marketing with social media at one problem I see is people try to be on all of the social channels. I say pick two or three you know whenever you have time to update several times a week reasonably if it’s only one do that but to have several sites that aren’t updated people go there and go okay this is this is outdated I’m not gonna come back here and check out their Twitter stream so just you know less is more if you don’t have a lot of time just pick the ones that are gonna pick you know hit the biggest punch for your audience.
John: Yeah that’s a good another good point, like focus on things that you actually can deliver and don’t do a bad job on too much right just do a really good job on a couple of things and that’s why even in your business like you know early on you would take everyone on, every single industry and you know as a business owner that’s how I was as well. But then you soon soon realize like you gotta be an expert at one thing you can’t be an expert at everything okay the more you focus and refine and know exactly who your audience is the better you will be in terms of business because you know exactly what you offer and what kind of client you want to look for right and service so that’s great. How has you know has there been many technology changes over the years like has it been software that you’ve used and relied on solely and how has that worked to your favorite disadvantage for your business.
Susan: Yeah I think probably the two biggest areas with the in social media there are a lot of dashboards now so I like instead of log in to Twitter and LinkedIn and Facebook you can log into one place and access all of that to check you know your feeds what people are saying about your brand as well as schedule your own social shares on each of those sites and then in WordPress and your the SEO guy but I have to say I love Yoast SEO they’re like it makes it really easy even if you’re not technical to make sure that you’re getting those keywords into all your content, which is huge in getting found in search engines so there’s always kind of tools with WordPress which a lot of people use for both their web sites and blogs that I find really useful for marketing.
John: Know that’s great those two tools are great especially like HootSuite allows you to syndicate the same content and schedule it for 40-plus different social media platforms and with a lot of free plug-ins on websites such as Yoast or you know there’s a lot of like free ones out there all-in-one, there’s also other tools that we use as an agency that is a little bit more robust and a lot more detailed but it’s all premium right so someone that’s doing it as an entrepreneur there’s a lot of free tools out there that can really help you at least get you started, especially when you’re just starting you don’t have a large budget it’s a great way to get in but once you are much more knowledgeable and you’re ready then of course a premium subscription to anything would give you more flexibility, more insight and much more capabilities.
Susan: Well yeah.
John: So that’s good, in terms of networking events that you mentioned previously, you also mention that you do a lot of conferences and you go to workshops and whatnot do you continually do that on an annual basis, is that something that you constantly focus on to harvest and nurture some new clients and relationships.
Susan: I’ve kind of pulled away from that just because I have two other businesses going on that we won’t discuss, but I’m doing more on those areas in terms of conferences because sometimes, like after you go to so many of these there’s not alot you could learn, you know I’ve gone to so many about content and and I have spoken and taught some of these classes too so I go through waves where like yes this year I’m going to commit to going to these conferences, the last year to spend more local focusing I’ve been on the board of my local Business Association for several years and so that’s kind of more what I’m trying to nurture locally.
John: Know that’s great because conferences especially of just starting off it’s fairly expensive to travel, devote time away from running your business and not knowing what you’re gonna get out of it. Yes you’ll be educated on some more of the front, but you can also read about them right as well right I think the big thing is relationships so, basically going there meeting other people that are maybe running their own shop or whatever it may be and learning from them and I think that’s where you get a lot more value from the off topic speaking, but more the social aspect of it.
Susan: At one tip I would say to deal with the cost and I did this with social media world which was here in San Diego California, volunteer they have staff like you would check people in but they still give you time to attend event so you can go to session still, go to the networking events, that’s where I met the big client and a writer for me so you’re scared more immersed in the event itself for networking opportunities which is really great.
John: That’s a great idea I never even thought about that. But if you’re able to you know give back, volunteer your time and maybe you get something in return which is free education or some networking. So in terms of what drove you to become who you are today like, has there been different stages throughout your entrepreneurial journey and what drives you today like what is your purpose from when you started versus what it is today has that changed.
John: I’m working on answering that these days, I’m kind of looking into other areas you know how can I apply the marketing skills I have to the other businesses that I have, what really drives my passion you know I think in the early days it was just about getting experience and again learning the hard way that I didn’t need experience and 5,000 things like very niche kind of area. I’m good at what I do and I recognized that and now I’m just trying to figure out what’s next and it’s an interesting question..
John: Then in terms of motivation like what drives you today like because as an entrepreneur you’re following your passion right most entrepreneurs always dreamt of being their own boss right frees up time to spend time with the family and you know people paint such a rosy picture as entrepreneurs, they get to travel all over the world, they enjoy their life however the reality is they don’t understand how many hours it takes especially in the beginning to get the ball rolling, getting your business going right. So you know it’s even for myself right now it’s always changing right what motivates and my purpose is a little bit different because I’m a father to a young child so family is very important to me at this time.
Susan: I think for me at work life balance is really important and I’ve gotten past the you know crazy long hours, the stress, I have kind of got a good system going so I not everybody can work from home but I love it, you know and I have a great schedule that I can pick up my teenage son from school because he’ll be driving soon, but you know I have kind of the flexibility in my schedule tour when I want but I’m also really good at shutting off at the end of the day so a motivation from the work side I can joke and say bad punctuation motivates me because there’s so much bad writing out there that it makes my job easy because I’m such a fanatic about good writing that it makes me really happy to be able to give really great content to clients who don’t have the time or the skill to do it themselves.
John: So what does success look like for you?
Susan: Happy Clients, clients who love what I’m doing for them, who wanna keep working with me for years and years and not you know and working with people I enjoy working with and I’m really fortunate to have worked with some people post ten years and just continuous relationships.
John: That’s so important right like you know, you wake up, you do what you do as an entrepreneur as a business owner and as long as there’s people that appreciate your hard work and keep the paychecks coming, I mean at least you’re supporting your family and your lifestyle but you’re also helping others right and that’s so rewarding. I’m glad that you found something that you love and a lot that’s one of the challenges with a lot of new entrepreneurs like they don’t really know why they’re doing what they’re doing and they shouldn’t be chasing money that’s one of the things that a lot of I hear this all the time as a mentor as you know a speaker I always say you know, do never chase your money right because it will come once you do what you love doing right and it’s very similar to you right like you love writing I love helping business owners see good results when they are found on Google so when that happens I think I’ve kind of achieved what I was out to do, position them as the expert position them as the authoritative figure right so it’s very rewarding and people respect that and when they stay with you it is a sign of respect. So in terms of business like I know we kind of are talking about these lifestyle choices, so right now your pillars are business, you have a family, health is obviously very important and sense of community right so is there one that you really focus on today more than others or has it changed over the years.
Susan: I probably say friends have kind of taken a precedence in the last year’s, a couple years yeah.
John: So you’re spending more time with friends or garnishing better relationships with them.
Susan: Yah, and several of them are entrepreneurs, so that’s kind of fun too.
John: I think as long as you are surrounded by like-minded people in the same sorta space or lifestyle or mindset as you, you’re gonna be happy okay and that’s hard to like a lot of entrepreneurs are very shy as well like they don’t realize there’s so many people doing what they’re doing. They have to go out there and let people know what they’re doing as well. You’ve been doing it for 10 plus years, I’ve been doing it for six plus years but I love the fact that I get to speak with other entrepreneurs and you know hopefully help them throughout their struggles or not but really just talk to them and form a relationship, friends are not friends it could be a business relationship, it could be more than that right like just someone that you can confide to and really just be honest with. So in terms of online, are there communities that you would suggest for your kind of like is it localized in your community in San Diego or is it more forums that you focus on.
Susan: When I do kind of try to find a community it tends to be more in person because online you know I’m at my desk all day long, you know what I mean and I really want to see them face to face so, there are some creative communities in San Diego, there’s a maybe it’s actually global I think called creative mornings and so they kind of focus on creative job so writing, design, photography, advertising, things like that but there they have some inspiring speakers that come and just great networking opportunities and then my local just in my neighborhood Business Association just to stay tapped into what local business owners are looking for them.
John: know that’s great because as you know working at home it’s you know you’re in front of computer all day and you don’t have really any social, real life interaction with people so you can spend all day on phone conferences, telephone meetings, but no real physical you know when you go to in an office it’s a little bit different, you can go for coffee, you can go for lunch, you can you know hang out with your colleagues, but in front of a computer you can have a lot of slack conferences, messaging, emails but that’s as much as it goes right like it’s a little different and it’s maybe not for everyone either right like people love that interaction, social environment right in a job but as an entrepreneur you have to realize what’s good for you is might be different and it might not be for everyone. So in terms of like do you currently do any community events or in terms of your association. I’m always looking at like, how do you contribute like in terms of I know you write a lot of content, so do you write for your association or kind of give back in that sense.
Susan: Well because I launched another business this year I pulled back from being on the board but I was the one that managed their social media, with their blog posts things like that so at this point yeah I’m trying, I’m learning to say no in the right places so I can say yes another place.
John: no that’s great I mean it’s all depends on where you’re at in your business, in your life but giving back I’ve found over the years is one of the things that is so rewarding, if you’re able to of course especially as an entrepreneur you’re much more able to do so once you’ve been doing it for many years then when you’re just starting off, so my time is now spent by you know educating others and impacting others and supporting more communities and mentoring and stuff like that and creating a podcast that I can impact more people and help others right and I find that much more rewarding today and I’ve always wanted to do it but I’ve never had the time because I was busy in the business now I’m more learning to you know yes I’m gonna run the business and continue doing that but I also want to devote and allocate time according to all the stuff that I always want it to do as well.
Susan: Yeah, that’s great.
John: So in terms of listeners right how do they get ahold of you.
Susan: So my website is eggmarketingpr.com that’s EGG like the food, marketing PR dot com.
John: so why still the PR at the end of it?
Susan: Because I bought the URL so long ago.
John: Okay gotcha and then in terms of social media how can any listeners get ahold of you?
Susan: So we’re on Twitter and Facebook @eggmarketing, LinkedIn as well
John: Well thanks a lot Susan I really appreciate your time I know you’re a busy lady and all this you know future success for your business and all the success for your other businesses as well but thanks a lot and you know thank you for being on our show.
Susan: Thanks for having me, It’s been fun.