Who are you?
We are a boutique blog management company in Rhode Island staffed with local writers, artists, social media analysts and SEO types. Our niche is in creating blogs for businesses that look and read like they were handcrafted. The content is written by an expert in their niche, and the illustrations for each blog post are works of art in themselves.
We're also super data-driven, so for example, our social media analyst is a mixture of copywriter and data nerd. We work with clients for at least six months, although most of them have been with us since we launched in 2010. I mention the six month thing because we A/B test everything we do in social media and in search optimization so that by the end of that six months, we know exactly what types of blog posts and social posts resonate best with each client's very different customers.
Why Did you start your business?
Patrick and I (Amanda) met on Twitter in 2009 while he was running a video production company and I was running the research arm of a marketing company; also acting as their Managing Editor. I was new to Rhode Island at the time and didn't really know anybody. One day we came together and were like, "we should start a business together and pool our talents." We both had good reputations in our different industries so we've been lucky to have clients and be profitable since the first day we announced ourselves at Podcamp Boston in September of 2010. Also, we're getting married this year. :)
What makes your business unique?
We named our business "BuzzFarmers" to signify that we're organic in our approach to audience development. No gimmicks. To help get our point across, our whole office is nature/farm themed. We have sheds as offices and our conference table was carved from a real tree in Rhode Island. We hired local artisans to assist in every detail of our office, everything from the sheds to the table to the desks and chairs.
And more importantly, everything we do is handcrafted, too. Every blog post is written by someone on our team in Rhode Island. It's someone you could be proud to use as a byline on your blog (if you wanted to) because they're published authors and journalists. We're not outsourcing overseas and we're not a sweat shop.
Basically, each client gets their own Managing Editor and this is the person writing the content, optimizing it and getting to know the client well enough to write on their behalf. They're truly an extension of the company in every way, it's like having an employee, except you don't have to worry about payroll, taxes and healthcare. We take care of all that.
What's the biggest mistake you've made with your business and what did you learn from it??
Hiring has been the trickiest thing for us, knowing when to hire and what type of person works well with us. We've dubbed our office an ego-free zone because our number one goal is to produce the best work possible for the client, and anybody who thinks their work can't be improved won't last long.
That's also why we're very into A/B testing, especially in social media, because there's no such thing as intuition in marketing. You have to be OK with flunking out on the headline that you thought would rock and bounce back excited to figure out what works better.
what big goal do you have for your company and how do you plan to achieve it?
We're extremely limited for extra time currently because we're still such a small team, but we have the goal of dedicating 20% of our time to pro-bono projects for organizations in our community. I'd like to start with the Special Olympics, which is near and dear to my heart, because my brother has been in them most of his life. I'd also love to work with local animal shelters to take photos and videos for their Facebook pages to help pets get adopted.
Basically, Google has their 20 percent time where they let employees work on any projects they want to, and we want to institute something similar where 20 percent of our time is used to help our community and the people in it. This goal isn't far off, we just need to grow our team by a few more team members and I think we can make it happen.
what advice or tips do you have for people wanting to start their own business or follow their dreams?
Just do it. And don't half-ass it, either. If you don't have a big network of business folks, start getting out there and build one.
Oh, and get an office. You're going to be working a lot and it's so important to create any type of work/life balance/separation. Use a co-working space if you have to, it's super cheap.
Working from home is fun until you forget what real pants feel like, what season it is, and how to drive a car.