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I had some really cool mentors who taught me things that I still use today.
kronda adair - entrepreneur
So probably for the past four years, I’ve never been at a point in my business where I haven’t had a mentor that I am paying for, who is far ahead of me, that I can go to and say, “This is happening.” whether that’s a single person or whether I’ve joined a community like WP Elevation. So when I get stuck, I not only have a person, I have whole communities of people that I can go to who are super badass and have probably been through whatever I’m going through but 10 times worse.
Are you a small business looking to grow? Look no further. On this week’s show, Kronda Adair talks about creating marketing systems to scale your business (don’t miss out on our Facebook Live video!).
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- Karvel Digital
- Kronda’s Personal Blog
- Marketing Tools
- Kronda’s “How I Learned to Run a Successful Web Business” blog post
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Hello and welcome to the Third Paddle podcast. I’m your host, Jen McFarland. On this week’s show, content marketing expert and recovering WordPress developer, Kronda Adair, comes by, and we let you know what’s up with all that marketing you want to do. All that and more here on the Third Paddle. [music]
Welcome to the Third Paddle podcast, recorded at the Vandal Lounge in beautiful Southeast Portland, Oregon. Why the Third Paddle? Because even the most badass entrepreneurs get stuck up in business shit creek. Management consultant Jennifer McFarland is your third paddle helping you get unstuck.
I created a journal, so I could reflect on whether things like Facebook, Twitter, email, CNN, and even Amazon were distracting me from treasured family relationships and business goals. I decided that it was distracting a little bit too much. So I armed myself with tools like Boomerang to pause my inbox and free them to eliminate social media, news, and other distractions. On days when I create the most space, my productivity is up, and I feel deeply connected to things much more significant than anything I could find on a smartphone. So the question is, are you ready to emerge from the digital fog? Go to jenmcfarland.com/ebooks and get digital tradeoffs, which is the journal I created for myself to see if my time was aligned with my biggest goals. I think you’re going to want to check it out.
Kronda Adair is the founder of Karvel Digital, an agency that helps mission-driven, service-based businesses automate their marketing to create a predictable sales pipeline. She’s a regular speaker at WordPress meetups and WordCamps, and has been featured on podcasts such as The Kim Doyal Show and The Out Entrepreneur with Rhodes Perry. Her latest project is Content Bootcamp, a 10-week online intensive to teach overwhelmed entrepreneurs how to create and use content as an asset that saves time and sells for you. When she’s not working, she can be found enjoying time with her wife, two cats and cute adorable puppy, reading dead-tree books, riding one of her five bikes, or enjoying the postcard vistas of the state of Oregon. Welcome, Kronda, to the show.
There was a time when I really wanted to work in an agency, so can you tell me what it was like to work in an agency?
So I’m going to preface this answer by telling you that I can tell you what it was like for me, a black gay woman living in Portland, Oregon, to work in an agency. And on the one hand, it was great, and I got a lot of experience, great experience, and I had some really cool mentors who taught me things that I still use today. And on the other hand, it sucked because it was basically a boy’s club. And there was a lot of BS [laughter]. I’m just going to– I’m just going to wrap it all in that. I was eventually fired for “culture fit,” which I interpret to mean that my boss really wanted a bunch of young white dudes he could work 80 hours a week on a salary.
Okay. So it doesn’t sound very awesome.
Yeah. I mean one of my friends said to me much later that she had seen me – we used to work in the same building – and she said, “I saw you in the elevator one day and you looked miserable,” and I was like, “Yeah.” If she had said that to me at the time, I probably would like, “No. Everything’s fine.” Before I got canned, I actually got a raise and a promotion, like the month before, so on the surface, things were good. They were definitely golden handcuffs. I was making what for me was great money at the time. And then within probably half hour of getting fired, I was on the bus with all my bulging bag of stuff because I had cleared my desk, and I just felt this great sense of relief like, “Oh I don’t have to go back there. Whatever happens next, it’s going to be better.
Yeah. That’s how I felt when I walked away and started my own business. And it was scary because it was also a golden handcuffs for me. And there’s something about that, and then there is this freedom that was amazing. Is that kind of how you felt?
Yeah. Just jumping off the deep end. It’s like, “Okay [laughter]. What’s next? You got to go figure it out?” But I’ve felt really good about it.
That’s awesome. Is that what pushed you over into entrepreneurship?
It was the catalyst for sure, but I basically always planned to work for myself. That’s why I became a developer.
Well, that leaves into the next question. Can you talk a little bit about what it means to be a recovering WordPress developer [laughter]?
So when I started out, I basically would make websites for anybody who could pay me. And I was very antigrowth in terms of I didn’t ever want to hire people. I thought that sounded messy. I just wanted to [inaudible] into the sunset. And what I found is that the websites I would hand over to people wouldn’t really help their business. And they didn’t do anything with them including– they wouldn’t even keep the code updated in a lot of instances. And then they would come back and say like, “Oh, my website got hacked.” And so I’m like, “Okay. Well, I actually do want to help people. So how can I focus more on that?” And so that turned into WordPress maintenance because that was an issue. People didn’t want to do that, but I could make a living off that. So that turned into a marketing focus. So I was still making websites, but I was selling marketing so that I made sure the people I was making websites for actually cared that this was a marketing tool, and we would build it that way. And then just recently, actually, I just stopped making websites altogether and just purely focused on helping people use content to help sell their services. So it’s an evolution born of trying to get closer and closer to the root problems that I see people having.
I mean I think you identified several root problems. You certainly don’t want your website hacked, which by the way, if you don’t ever update plug-ins and code is what happens. Sidebar. But the bigger thing is you can have a totally ugly website and that doesn’t matter if you have great content and you’re updating it.
It’s so true. And you can have no website even. And if you have great content and you know how to talk to people and you know how to sell, you can still have a business. And as someone who does really love websites [laughter] and really loves good websites [laughter], it pains me a little to say that, but I know people who are making 10, 20, 30K a month. They don’t have a website or their website is a one-page whatever, but it’s the relationships that are able to build. It’s the fact that they have a great offer. There’s so many other things that are more important to worry about at the beginning. And so I think one of the things that I was doing is I was making websites for people too early in their business.
Absolutely. Although I am a big proponent of websites just because if you’re making all your money off on social media and they change something, you could be totally screwed. But that’s a whole other discussion probably [laughter]. But I do acknowledge there are a lot of people making a lot of money just because they know how to talk. They know how to sell.
Yeah. And I also think everyone should have a website, but depending on your resources, when you should do that is different for different people.
Yeah. Totally. So we worked together at [Open House?], and before that, it was in [XT?], and we’ve both gone through [do?] like a lot of changes in our business like this. You were a WordPress Developer when I met you. So now I just watch you, and it just looks like you have everything on lock, right? And you’re giggling when I say that [laughter]. But what do you do when you get stuck on a project or in business?
I love this question, because the soapbox that I’m on the most right now is how expensive it is to struggle by yourself with any problem in business more than, say, a month or a few months. And I think a lot of people do that, they struggle by themselves for weeks, months, years. So probably for the past four years, I’ve never been at a point in my business where I haven’t had a mentor that I am paying for, who is far ahead of me, that I can go to and say, “This is happening.” whether that’s a single person or whether I’ve joined a community like WP Elevation. So when I get stuck, I not only have a person, I have whole communities of people that I can go to who are super badass and have probably been through whatever I’m going through but 10 times worse, and say, “Hey, the sky is falling [laughter]. What do I do?” I’m happy to report that happens less and less, where disasters are happening. So I always have resources, and I have fewer problems because of the networks that I’m in and the communities that I’m in. I see they’re actively saying, “Look, these are the potholes that you’re heading for. You want to jig left or right [laughter].”
Oh, that’s awesome. Because then it just keeps you on track, instead of just kind of falling back and then having to spring forward again.
So how do you find these great people?
The internet [laughter]. For a long time– well, I mean, I have a post on my blog that’s, ” How I learned to run a successful business,” so you can see all the people that I’ve followed for the first few years in my business. And, yeah, it’s really just– I don’t even remember the last. The one I’m in currently, it was probably a Facebook ad or something or a podcast that I went down the rabbit hole and listened to the content for a while and read their stuff, and was like, “Oh. These guys definitely know what they’re doing.” And so by the time I got to the point of watching a webinar and getting on a call with somebody and like, “Oh. If I take this step, I’m going to do this because it makes too much sense not to.” But yeah, depending on your business and your genre, you have to find the people who are doing what you consider success and make sure that that’s real and they know what they’re doing and they’ve actually done what they’re teaching you, and then jump in.
I think that what I appreciate the most about what you just explained, is the need to research it out and spend a lot of time. Because one of the things that I still find so shocking, even though I shouldn’t be surprised, is how many charlatans there are out there who are just so fake and selling their widget but they have no earthly idea what they’re doing.
Yep. Yeah, no. I would say that’s the majority of what’s out there [laughter].
And my mentor talks all the time about people bragging that they made $2 million, and they buy a $2 million house. And it’s like, “I’m going to buy that person’s business in two years.” like, “You shouldn’t be doing that.” And so, yeah, you definitely want to do your research and you want to talk to people who have gone down that path. I remember one of my business buddies now, a post of hers came up in the Facebook group or she was like, “I don’t know. This seems to good to be true. Is this real?” And they were all these comments from people who were already in and that post isI think probably a year old at least and now she’s in. She’s doing amazing. She’s killing it and so to see that from people, to be able to go and see oh, these are all the people who have been helped by this person or this organization and then just decide are you going to do the work because that’s the other key factor.
Yeah. They can be great and if you’re not willing to do what they’re asking you to do then you can’t be mad if you don’t get the results.
I’m guilty of that. I’m guilty of overwhelming myself with learning stuff and I’ve learned to really dial that back and just think about what I need the most and who the best person is to teach me that. Do you ever do that or do you just–?
I’m pretty much just following one person and I didn’t throw the baby out with the bath water but in terms of where I go for advice and who I listen to it’s pretty much one person and I– a concept that I learned from the Active Growth Podcast is just in time learning. So don’t go off and try to learn everything about everything. Do you need to learn Facebook ads? Go learn that then go do that, implement it and then if you need to learn something else then cross that bridge when you come to it but I think a lot of people go down that path where they’re just taking in and taking in and they never actually implement.
Yeah. Yeah. I’ve scaled that back [laughter]. It’s hard. I mean I’m a lifelong researcher so I can totally go down the path. That’s what I did professionally. People would be like, “Research this project and let us know how much you think it’ll cost and what it would look like,” and then I realize that I spent probably a lot of the first year [laughter] scoping out this business while I was trying to do it and now I’m like yeah. No. That doesn’t work [laughter].
Yeah. And I know people who are in the mastermind that I’m in who didn’t have a business when they joined. They literally got in so that they can have someone who had been down the road, validate their offer, teach them how to go out and put that to the marketplace and now they have a business within a couple of months so you don’t– basically, fortune favors the action taker.
Absolutely. And that’s one of the biggest things I’ve learned is the art of imperfect action. You just go sometimes and do no harm [laughter] but at the same time you have to learn and the way to learn isn’t by thinking about it a lot. Sometimes it’s by doing it. And yet I know that you think about things because one of the best conversations I’ve ever had with you and I think about it honestly whenever I go to buy something [laughter] is considering whether something would serve my future self. So can you describe for listeners how this philosophy plays itself out when you’re making a business decision or considering a new purchase?
Yeah. So I think we were specifically having a conversation about software but this really applies to anything. So on a software level if I’m trying to figure out what plugin I want to use for something or what platform I really try to think two to three years down the road. Is this something that is going to be around? Is it going to be supported? Is it going to grow and I got just the best testimonial from a client of mine recently where she talked about this because her product’s not done yet but she really went all in and invested in her website and in a CRM and really dialing in her marketing and social media. And she gets questioned about that from venture capitalists because she’s trying to get funding. But she wanted to have control over her branding and her image and her communication and her marketing. And she talked to so many people who, now that they have 10,000 people in their CRM, they’re trying to find another one because it’s not working the way– and she said, “Didn’t you think about– didn’t you think that you would grow? And didn’t you imagine this point?” And I think many people do not do that. And so you have to imagine future you and your future company and what you envision that to look like and then make the decision from that perspective as much as possible.
Actually, I want to say one more thing about that that’s not about software. And that’s just in terms of making business decisions. For instance, the mastermind that I joined recently. That was a pretty big investment and it wasn’t like I had that sitting around. And so I have to weigh that in terms of, okay. What is it going to do if I join with these people and I take the shortcut, basically, that they’re offering based on their expertise? Or if I slog through and I do it on my own, and what’s the opportunity cost of that? And so even though it might be a struggle, I made that decision to jump in that has totally paid off. I’ve literally 4Xed my income in a couple of months from doing what I was told. And so one of the things I said recently on social media was, “If you want to be a millionaire, can you make million-dollar decisions when your bank account doesn’t have $1 million in it?” And that’s what you have to do. You have to actually become the person that you’re trying to become and you have to make decisions as if that person would make them. And that’s how you get the things that that person is going to have. So become, do, and then have.
I agree. I’ve jumped into coaching situations and groups that I couldn’t afford and it was what got me where I am now. And now I’m looking for a new place to go with people who are 10, 20 steps ahead of me. But I needed that first group so that I could get over the hump on some of my own struggles with sales, was actually my place. And I felt like I needed to do that so I could get where I wanted to be because otherwise, I was going to be just struggling with sales all the time and not being able to have any conversations. So I think that that’s totally true. You have to look at the future, and sometimes it’s going to cost you a fuck-ton of money [laughter] to get there. But if you do– like you said, if you do what you’re told and you do the research beforehand, then you’re going to reap the rewards.
So can you tell the listeners about your work?
Yeah. So what I’m doing now is a content boot camp. And I named it a boot camp specifically because it’s very implementation-oriented. It’s not about sitting around, taking in a bunch of video lessons. So it’s 10 weeks inside of the group. And there are some trainings, but the goal is basically to teach service-based business owners how to use content to sell and how to treat your content as an asset that’s going to actually produce for you long-term. And I’ve talked to so many business owners who are so strapped for time. They’re struggling with their revenue and they don’t have time to blog. Or they don’t want to have time to create content and they’ll say the same thing a thousand times [laughter]. They’ll have the same conversation a thousand times but won’t take the time to actually write that down so that it can actually benefit them and help them scale so I’m really tackling that head on and I like the motto because it’s empowering business owners to take control of their sales and their marketing which most people don’t like to do but also are the things that you must have in your business or your business won’t survive so that’s what I’m up to.
I think that’s awesome. So what are some of the biggest successes you’ve seen?
Well, this is a new offer for 2019 so we’re five weeks in and I just talked to one of my star pupils and she was actually one of the last websites we launched as well so I’ve actually been working with her for probably four or five months and just seeing her growth as a person and a business owner like her confidence level from going through this process and from starting to put herself out there has been amazing and so that’s really cool to see. It’s one thing to make a website and hand it over to somebody but to actually empower them to have a skill and have confidence to go out and market themselves that they’re going take with them forever that’s really cool. One of our members recently secured or has almost secured 25,000 in sponsorships for the conference that she wants to put on and that’s just in four or five weeks of going out and implementing the system that we teach.
That is so amazing. Don’t you just love it when the light bulb comes on?
It’s my favorite part and in 10 weeks you get to see them all just popping all the time.
Of course, we don’t know the answer to this but how confident are you that people will go ahead and carry that on well beyond the class?
I think like anything it really depends on the person, right? I think a percentage of people are going to take this and they’re going to run with it and they’re going to use it to grow and scale and one of the things that one of my students said was– I have a call with people to see what are your goals for the next 10 weeks together and she’s like, “My goal is to just figure out how I can just stay here and keep working together [laughter],” so that’s also an option but like anything some people are going to come in blazing and die off afterwards and some people are going to come in and they’re going to really soak in what they learned and really take action and make it a part of their business and a part of their routine and without consistency you just can’t win long term in business so the people who win are going to be the ones who are consistent. And people always ask me how often should I post and I say whatever you can keep up consistently. It’s way better to post once a week or two or three times a week and keep that going than it is to post every day for a week and then disappear.
Yeah. People get used to seeing it or hearing it and then when you drop off they’re like, “Oh, yep. That’s not happening,” I can’t even believe it. We’re just over a year on this podcast and–
Congrats. That’s awesome.
Yeah. I mean and every week for 52 weeks and it’s great and amazing and you do start to see the pay-off. I mean at first, people are like, “Is this for real? Are you going to stick it out?” And then slowly over time it just kind of keeps building and building and when I talked to Gerald about it [inaudible] you grow as a business, and as you grow as a podcast, you realize the conversations that you want to have. And it evolves with you. But you still bring everybody with you, as well. And I think that that’s certainly the case with any type of content, that you grow and change. But you get people, and they stick with you.
And the things that you put out when you start are still valuable to people. So that’s the nice thing, is, you could go, “I’ve been blogging for six years off and on.” And so, you can go and you can see the evolution of that.
Absolutely. Especially when you’re talking about things that you answer again, and again, and again. Your answers get a little more refined and focused. And you can get more than one blog post out of it, for reals [laughter]. So that’s awesome. Do you have anything to offer our listeners?
So if you go to my website, karveldigital.com/tools, if you’re struggling with the tech side– I know you kind of came out of helping people in the beginnings of their business who are struggling with tech. So if you’re struggling with that stuff, that’s a page where you can get on my list and get access to all the tools that I used for creating websites really quickly and easily. And I do a week where you can just try out all of the products that are in there, so the paid and the free ones, and kind of get a sense of what’s on offer, and how I can help people.
Wow. That’s really awesome. We’ll put that in the show notes. So how can people get in touch with you?
You can pretty much just google my first name and find out whatever [laughter] you want to know. Karveldigital.com, on all the platforms, professionally. So website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and then kronda.com is my personal blog, mostly neglected. But, well, now, mostly dog updates, so.
Mostly dog updates.
Yeah, so. But yeah. Those two places on all the platforms.
Can I just say how much I have name envy? Because you’ve got domains. You’ve got it all just conquered because you have such a unique name.
Yeah. I couldn’t get my first name on Instagram, so I had to put my middle initial in there, but. But yeah. Most places, I can get my name.
Most places. Yeah. That’s pretty sweet. You want to talk about your dog for a minute?
Oh, you know. What can we say about Obi? He’s a magnificent son of a bitch.
He really is [laughter].
He really is. My wife and I got a Hungarian Vizsla puppy in September. And that’s pretty much taken over our lives in the best way possible. And a lot of the changes that have evolved in my business are actually because of him. Because I knew I was going to need a lot more time to make him the best puppy ever. And he’s expensive [laughter]. So that’s a great catalyst to grow your business, is to get a puppy. But yeah. He’s got his own Instagram, too.
What? I’ve got to go check that out.
We can put that in the show notes, too [laughter].
I keep joking that Booker’s going to get one, too, but he’s too goofy [laughter]. I can’t do that, so. It is a great catalyst. Puppies are expensive. And they take a lot of time. And that’s a great excuse to automate [laughter].
It really is.
Automate, and passive income. Get a puppy.
Yeah. And raise your prices [laughter].
Well, thank you so much for being on the show.
Thanks for having me.
Thank you for listening to the Third Paddle Podcast. Be sure to catch every episode by subscribing on iTunes. To learn more, check out our website at www.thirdpaddle.com. The Third Paddle Podcast is sponsored by FosterGrowth LLC, online at www.fostergrowth.tech.
In addition to solving hairy marketing operations problems, I host one of the best business podcasts for women, the Women Conquer Business podcast, which provides actionable strategies, business how-to’s, and real-world advice from subject matter experts and entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business. But if you want the REAL story, I am an uber-nerd who loves dad jokes, building seamless systems, and helping leaders find more joy in their work.