How to Get Started on a Dream When It Feels So Far Off with Kelsey Chapman

Do you have a big dream for your business but you’ve put off starting because you have no idea where or how to begin? This interview with Kelsey Chapman is must-listen where she drops a ton of wisdom on how to get started and bring your big idea from dream to done.

Kelsey is creative and marketing strategist who is passionate about equipping entrepreneurs to build their business, grow their platform and steward their influence.  It is her mission to help women to turn their dreams into profitable ventures that can allow them to live with both freedom in their finances and their time. Kelsey wholeheartedly believes dreams are worth pursuing and loves walking alongside women to bring their visions to life in a tangible way!

Key Takeaways from this Episode

What has your business journey looked like from when you first hung out that digital “come in, we’re open sign” to where you are today?

  • If I go back to the beginning I loved blogs when I was in college. I would sit and read Tasso or A Beautiful Mess. I still follow them on Instagram 10 years later, and would just pour over their blogs and I remember just kind of thinking, “I want to do this one day. I want to have a lifestyle blog.” And so that's kind of how I got started. I started a little lifestyle blog in college, not to diminish it. I know we have got to refrain from calling my things little. I was just on a call about that today, but I started a blog and just kind of played around.
  • I wrote. I had dreamt of being a writer since I was a little girl so I kind of looked at it as kind of a long game strategy to write a book one day. Also with sitting there, it was the days of sidebar ads when people would pay for a sidebar ad on someone else's blog to advertise every month and I remember counting up a blogger I loved sidebar ads based on her pricing sheet and being like, “She's making 72 grand on sidebar ads a year.” And so really started to look at it as a business opportunity at that point and just kind of kept that in my back pocket.
  • I was kind of writing for fun, hoping to get there one day. Fast forward, graduate college and not doing much with it anymore. Go live in a village in Mozambique, think I'm going to be a missionary and then realize, “Oh, I think I want to go back home and live stateside. What the heck am I going to do with my life?” And so I got home and it's kind of like where my all of my creative juices started surfacing. I think I left out a little bit I really had all of these creative and entrepreneurial interest, but went to live on the mission field thinking it was more noble.
  • So I was suppressing all of my creative tendencies and I was living in a little village in Mozambique that kind of felt like, “Oh, I actually am made for this and suppressing all my gifts and talents because I think something else is like the best route, the most noble route to do with my life. And actually the best thing to do with my life would be release what I'm created to do into the world.” So I came home, started just a normal everyday life, got a day job and kind of started flexing my creative muscles again once I got home, started a blog again with a friend and that's where it really took off.
  • That was probably my first come in, we're open sign because that's the first thing I monetized. It paved the way for everything else I'm doing now. But again, it's still a very different expression of what I'm doing now. So at the time it was a lifestyle blog. I talked about traveling, adventuring, marriage, motherhood. I'm not a mother now but we had guest posts talking about that. We called it the Radiant Life Blog, which again is what is now a different expression within my business, but the first stepping stone getting there.
  • We really just rolled with it for a year. We built an audience of 40,000 followers on Instagram. We learned everything there was to know about marketing it with Elbow Grease for free because we had no money. We just promised our husbands we'd break even on our fun side project and we did. We started taking brand collaborations. I, over the course of a year sort of taking clients off like, wow this comes down to digital marketing and I think I could do this for other brands. So it was really that blog that sent me down this digital marketing and education rabbit hole because I started really coming alive doing that and thinking through, “Oh, it's so fun to figure out every little tool I can to expand my reach online and it makes me really happy to help my friends use these tools to expand their reach online and oh, I could take a client and maybe start a business helping people expand their reach online.”
  • That was really fun for me. It was the blog that opened those doors of even exploring that. I had no idea how I would find digital marketing. So that was kind of the genesis of my journey online. And since then I am about a year into running a blog. I took my first client, helping them to grow their Instagram reach and at the time was curating their content as well. That was the beginning of what today is, an Instagram agency. I run about 60 client accounts a month. That is only one of my avenues of creative expression online, but that has been … The agency side has afforded me the opportunity financially to really start exploring other avenues like opening a shop and hosting a retreat and starting a podcast. It was because of that, that it allowed me to quit my day job and invest in education and invest in expanding other facets of my dream and my business. So now I've got a few things going on, but that's really what got me there.

In terms of legacy – what is the big mission you’re here to accomplish with your business?

  • It is my greatest joy to see people's dreams come to life and I think that's what dipping my toes in the water with digital marketing showed me is, oh, it is very fulfilling to me to help expand someone's reach online, to help them release their mission, their dream their vision into the world. And I kind of went down that rabbit hole because I said I might write the best words that ever graced God's green earth, but if no one ever read them, they're not ever going to get consumed. And so how do I help expand my own reach and then how do I expand the reaches of those I love and then those I serve as clients?
  • So it is truly my greatest joy to see someone's dream become a reality and that's the legacy I want to leave. I want to help people accomplish their dreams. As cheesy as it is to quote my own program, really take their Dream to Done. I have a ton of dreamers in my audience who are at first doers, but with a little bit of support they can really make that dream a reality. I feel like that's what I'm made to do.

What's the #1 burning question you get from your community about contingency and what-if business planning and what do you tell them?

  • The burning question is how do I grow? How do I have an influence? How do I expand my reach overnight? And I was just having this conversation today, it's not overnight. We don't open a brick and mortar shop in our community, a restaurant, a boutique, a fitness studio and think it's going to happen overnight. So why do we do that with online business? I think it's a relatively newer landscape so that's probably why. We just haven't had years and years and years of data to learn like we have with local businesses, but my family had a local business growing up. So I know the very real reality of it's never overnight success.
  • I've found that time and time again with my business and honestly, the growth and the numbers and the scaling, that's all strategy. That's the easy part per se. It's not easy, but it's easier than getting your message refined. It's easier than understanding exactly what your creative expression is that you want to release into the world. I have people come to me all the time who are authors and they'll say, “Man, a publisher will take me on. I just need the numbers. They love my message.” And I'm like, “Great. The numbers are the strategy part. The message that you developed, that's the blood, sweat and tears.” That is, I think, what I get asked about it's growing a lot. And again, that comes down to strategy that's so … We can do that. It's really refining your message that deserves the blood, sweat and tears and focus.

What is one piece of advice you have for online business owners who see what you’ve built and all the success you’ve had doing it – and want to create their own version of it but have no idea where to start?

  • I am a huge fan of investing in your education. And again, some people are like, “I don't have $200 a month or $2,000 a month to invest on that.” Great, sign up for a membership program that's $19 a month. Go to a free Facebook group where there's a live once a week or once a month, you're going to connect with other creative entrepreneurs, because I think it's out of community and out of staying educated and kind of knowing what's ahead of the curve or oh, these are the digital marketing trends now, but they're evolving into this thing.
  • Staying informed is probably the kindest thing you can do for yourself and there is a space for every single budget out there. There are free spaces, there are $20 spaces, there are $49 spaces. And I say that from personal experience. I didn't start out … Like I said, I started out with a friend and two husbands between the two of us that said, “Hey, just break even. Please don't blow the bank on this.” And we're like, “Great, we can do that.” And then when we had a little bit of profit, we could turn that around and invest it in a course or a membership site. And so you can scale up to the levels of education and support along the way, but let's start with what's right in front of you and get a community around you to rally, to help you stay inspired and to help you stay accountable.

So shifting gears to marketing – How do you stay motivated and inspired when it comes to content creation (especially after all this time)?

  • 100% podcasts. So I love your show. I actually listen to a lot of non-relevant I guess you could say shows that are not in our space about running a business online or talking about creative expression, but sometimes, like the Dax Shepard Armchair Experts, someone will say one one-liner that inspires me and it will fuel me to go home and implement some idea that just pops into my head as I'm driving. So I just love to hear different people's stories and different people's journeys because that one sentence can be the very thing that allows me to open up my phone, create a quick voice memo so I don't forget it and go implement a new idea later that day.
  • I think for me I'm a doer. So for me my actual discipline is practicing self-restraint. So I will go implement it, but I know that's not always good. A 1,000 ideas are not always the best route, maybe honing in on one. So for me implementation is not a problem, but I think there are two types of people … There's obviously more than two types of people in the world, but for the sake of this analogy there's two types of people in the world. There's doers and beers. Doers need to learn how to be beers need to learn how to do it. So I am a doer so I have to slow down and be. And like sometimes the word restraint just pops into my head and I have to sit there and kind of reflect on that because I want to do all the things, but I also know how it feels and everything becomes shallow and subpar when I do everything at once.

Can you walk us through a typical content creation day for you? What’s your process for creating new content look like?

  • So again, most of my content I create on the go or create week to week as my podcast, I only do one podcast interview a week. I got three months ahead and now I show up one day a week. So I have just created my calendar to be locked up in the morning so I can have a slow morning, I can work out, I can go for a drive, I can kind of do life in the mornings and then one day a week I'm going to have an interview in the afternoon and then I often will pop into my Facebook group, whether it's Dream to Done or the Radiant Tribe, my free Facebook group and riff.
  • And I can talk all day long about something that, again, I might have been listening to a podcast, it jogged an idea in my head about showing up in creative spaces with vulnerability and I can riff on that for five minutes. Emily comes through there each week and sees stuff I've posted and said, “Hey, I want to develop this.” She really takes a ton of initiative and so thankfully now I pretty much get to play the role of a project manager with my business because I've got those moving parts delegated. So really the content creation, I've tried batching days of I only record podcasts on Tuesdays and Thursdays.

How would you define a content empire as it relates to your own business and what you’ve built?

  • I'm a person who likes to have eggs in a few different baskets. I think I'm realizing even through therapy that I love security. So I don't want to put all my eggs in a podcast basket or an Instagram basket or a blog basket or a YouTube basket just because what if one goes away. We saw what happened to Periscope overnight. One day everyone's telling us to get on board, wow, that girl grew her Periscope in a month to 10,000 followers and then the next month no one's on Periscope.
  • So I tend to really distribute my content eggs across a true empire of many, many different avenues, but again, I like to repurpose it because I guarantee you the person who sees a post on my Facebook page is not really noticing the same post on my Instagram. So I think for me an empire really goes back to being purposeful with what you release into the world, developing the messages you do have and creating different avenues and expressions to carry that out. So one person might hear me talk about vulnerability on a podcast, but the next person might read about it in a post and that's okay that it's similar and aligned and close enough. That's actually pretty good.

Lightning Round

Latest content or marketing tool discovery? Quizzes. I love quizzes. I think that's been my big focus for the year.

Most profound business book you’ve read?  I love Braving the Wilderness by Brené Brown, and it's all about vulnerability and showing up when it's hard.

What is one marketing trend that you're passing on for now?  Using vulnerability as a marketing tactic, a.k.a. marketing champagne problems as real problems just to draw people in.

2018 or 2019 planner of choice?  Horacio Printing. They are the best. I love them so much. I love Polly, the founder. I can't get enough of anything Horacio

Where would you invest $5,000 in your business today?  Probably in Enneagram training. That's on my list for 2019 because I think understanding how you're wired and how you run your business is so vital in how you steward it.

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