Who are you and what business did you start?
I’m Ingrid Deon and I’m the CEO of a social media marketing agency called word-craft inc.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started my career as a journalist and worked as a newspaper and radio reporter for about five years. I moved back home to rural Nova Scotia where there were very few jobs in journalism, so I worked a bunch of odd jobs — farmers market manager, political outreach officer, historical village interpreter — always trying to get back to some kind of writing gig.
I became a single mom when my son was three years old. I had to hustle to keep a roof over our heads, so I took a job as the assistant director of a museum, sold knitting patterns and hand knits (did I mention I’m a knitter and a spinner?) and freelanced for the provincial newspaper two hours each morning to write police briefs.
I was a statistic. A single mom living under the poverty line working three jobs. I applied for any communications, public relations or writing job I could find.
Eventually I got offered a job as a social media coordinator at a marketing agency in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I worked my way up to become the manager of social engagement. I loved the work and I realized that writing for social media and social media strategy were my passions. But I was so happy to be above the poverty line that I didn’t realize I was being underpaid. I was managing 10 people in two cities and one day, I hired someone to work on my team. When I saw their offer letter, I noticed that their salary would be $15K more than mine and I was their boss. I asked my boss if I could be paid as much or more than them and he told me no, “that’s not gonna happen.”
I always said I never wanted to run my own business, but everything changed in that moment. I started considering whether I could start my own business and a year later, I started word-craft full-time.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Since I never dreamed of starting my own business, I honestly had no idea where to begin. I knew a lot about creating social media content and engaging with customers on social media, but knew nothing about running a business. I began by booking coffee meetings with entrepreneurs that I knew so I could pick their brains. I thought maybe I could absorb some of their entrepreneurial spirit by talking to them. What I learned is that no one is ever actually ready to launch their own business. You just have to force yourself to take the leap.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
When I finally took that leap and started working on word-craft full-time, I already had two national clients — Nestlé Canada and Manulife Bank. Having big names as clients really helped position me as an expert in my field. I haven’t really spent any time or money on traditional advertising, rather I’ve been spending my time building my network of contacts both in person and on LinkedIn. Word-craft gets most of its clients through word of mouth. Typically someone recommends us to a prospective client and they reach out to me. That’s why I’ve prioritized meeting with anyone who wants to chat with me. Even if they’re not my ideal customer, it gives me the chance to explain what I do and who I want to work with. My hope is that they’ll remember me and mention word-craft to someone who needs some help with organic social media marketing.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I started as a solopreneur and now word-craft is a team of three talented women. In the past year, we’ve worked with 25 different clients, so it’s busy! I’m hoping to add even more incredible people to the team over the next few years and branch out into offering paid social advertising, as well as organic social media, which is our current specialty.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
It’s been a huge learning process. I think one of the biggest lessons has been delegation. When you start out as a solopreneur, you do it all. I’m a bit of a control freak, so I didn’t mind doing it all, until I started getting more and more clients, and “doing it all” became unsustainable. One of the first things I delegated was bookkeeping. I’m a social media expert, not a bookkeeper! I was really struggling with keeping track of sales and expenses, paying taxes and reconciling accounts. Handing that off took a huge weight off my shoulders.
Another game changer was getting a business coach. I had no idea that I needed a coach, but it’s so helpful to have someone you can talk to about your business, who’s also eager to listen to you, for an hour every week. My coach helps me work through challenges, helps me make decisions and helps me prioritize different aspects of the business. I always feel accomplished and energized after a chat with her. Definitely money well-spent!
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Any social media marketing agency needs a social media management tool. There are dozens of these tools out there and I’ve tried most of them but Sprout Social has the number one spot for me. It does everything I want it to do. We use it to schedule posts for our clients, answer comments and messages, and for reporting on our clients’ social media performance.
We use Asana for project management, Clockify for tracking billable time and Slack for messaging each other throughout the day. Aside from that, we use Google Drive and Docs for file sharing and creating our content plans.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
My favourite industry podcast was Buffer’s The Science of Social Media, but they haven’t released any new episodes in a long time. I would love to see that podcast make a comeback! I read a lot of social media blogs like Social Media Today, Social Media Examiner and all the social media management tools have great blogs (Hootsuite, Sprout, Buffer, Hubspot).
One book that blew my mind was Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. As I said, bookkeeping isn’t my forte, so it’s a little funny that a book about managing finances has had the most impact on my business. Essentially, it lays out a way of managing your business’ finances that’s sort of like envelope budgeting. It’s very logical and practical, which I can appreciate. I’ve been managing word-craft’s finances using the Profit First method since I read the book last year and it’s working very well for me.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
If you’re dreaming about starting a business and you don’t know where to start, that’s totally normal. None of us knows where or how to start, the trick is you just have to start. Take a leap and launch that business idea. If you’re waiting to be ready, guess what? You’re never going to launch because you’re never going to be “ready.” Gather up the courage and launch.
Where can we go to learn more?
Follow us on Instagram @wordcraftinc or visit our website at www.word-craft.ca