Transcript: How To Use Strategic SEO, blogging, and social media, to expand digital footprint and grow your business

Keisha Blair: Welcome to the Holistic Wealth podcast. I’m your host, Kesha Blair, wife, mother of three, author of Holistic Wealth and Founder of the Institute on Holistic Wealth. The show will showcase various experts in the key pillars of holistic wealth. Each week we deliver. It’s information on how to become holistically, wealthy and live your best life.

Today, we have a very special guest with us. We have Caitlin study and Kaitlin is the owner and creative director of south street and company, a marketing agency that has grown tremendously over the year. So Kaitlyn, welcome to the show. It’s great to have you here.

Kaitlyn Study: Hi, thank you so much for having me.

Keisha Blair: Kaitlin, there’s just so much about your story, about how you’ve grown your agency. And you know, I know you have some fabulous tips as well for others. I mean, you’ve grown your agency to several different locations. And so I just wanted to get started with your story, you know, about how you started in the business. If you could just tell us a bit about your journey, that would be awesome.

Kaitlyn Study: So I graduated with a degree in marketing from the University of Central Florida, and then looked for a job everywhere except for Orlando, and then ended up finding one here and believe it or not, it was off of Craigslist that I found my first job. It was the easiest interview. And I had gone on around 30 interviews before that because in the real world, sales and marketing are sometimes seen as the same thing, even though they’re so different. So this interview was one of the easiest ones that I had been on. It was amazing and it was for a local dermatology group that needed help with their marketing.

So I negotiated a starting salary and a company car and then ended up starting two weeks later. And one half of my job was doing digital marketing. So in the first six months, I helped them rebrand the whole company with a new logo, slogan, colours, and website, and then implemented social media, marketing, SEO, and blogging for them to get them online.

And then the other half of my job was going out and meeting with doctors who did refer or who could refer to the dermatology group to build up that local clientele and the local market to keep the dermatology group in mind.

Keisha Blair: You’ve scaled your business tremendously. And I think you scaled to half a million in less than five years. Could you tell us about how that happened? What strategies did you put in place to do that?

Kaitlyn Study: It’s a lot about consistency. So putting a consistent message out there. Everything, when it comes to marketing is all about consistency, but it’s also about putting processes in place. If I look back to when I first started the company, I’m like, holy cow, I didn’t have anything in place because you don’t know what you don’t know.

And I learned so many things through coaches and mentors along the way. So there’s a program that I use every day and it’s called Zapier. And how I would describe it is as a connector app. So it connects to programs that wouldn’t normally talk to one another together. And I’ve totally been able to streamline our process for reminders though so things don’t fall through the cracks for meeting updates for sending paperwork, for finishing paperwork, for onboarding new clients, onboarding new employees and team members. So that has helped tremendously just take a lot of the, maybe admin items off of my list and automating.

Keisha Blair: Okay. And in terms of like revenue, you mentioned the difference between sales and marketing earlier. Could you tell us about efforts to skill that revenue and how that happened?

Kaitlyn Study: Well, I think it was just when I started my first client, I was doing SEO, social media and website updates at $250 a month. And obviously, that’s not sustainable if you have a ton of different clients. But it was also gaining more confidence in myself to know that I had all of this expertise that I had grown over the years.

And being comfortable with charging a more premium price for the quality of work that we put out. So it started growing over time. So when I first started, it was around $35 an hour, and then I bumped it up to $50 and then it was $65, then it was $75 and then it was $125. And then now we’re at an average hourly rate of $150 an hour for our agency.

So it definitely took a lot of time to get it to where I was comfortable, letting people know that that that’s the average that we charge, but we also put packages together that are custom for people, so we can customize it based on their needs and based on what they’re looking for. But that was kind of how I grew it over time, because I, I knew that we were providing a really amazing premium product to people. They were getting great returns. And so I was able to charge that rate.

Keisha Blair: And are you still at that level now the $500,000 or has it grown more and more locations?

Kaitlyn Study: Well, the pandemic was really hard for a lot of people. And so we were included in that, but this year, actually last year, so March, April, May were really hard for us.

And then after may the end of May, beginning of June, I think people were like, okay, We’re going to keep progressing. This is going to be a thing, but business isn’t going to be stopping. It’s just going to be different. So, we started growing from there and then this year it’s been a continual growth, so I’m not sure what the numbers are now, but I hope, and I think that we’re on track to, to beat that number.

Keisha Blair: Members listening in thinking about side hustles, how can they scale that side hustle to really become their main business?

Kaitlyn Study: Yeah, I mean, that’s, that’s exactly what I did. So after I was working for the dermatology group for two and a half years, and I just felt like I reached a plateau. And so I started with that first client charging her $250 a month for services and helping her grow. And then she introduced me to someone else and it snowballed from there. But the thing that was the kind of catalyst that helped me leave the full-time job was that I got into a leads group or a BNI sales group. And I just went week after week after week building trust and talking to people and staying after and coming early.

Just so they would know I’m here to stay and I’m a legitimate person. I’m not working out of some weird location that I’m here to stay. And this is my business and it took me about 13 months to leave. So I would say, start doing it while if you’re working a full-time job. And you’re like, you know what? I think I might want to go in another direction.

Start doing it on the side while you’re still working, because I don’t know how I would’ve done it if I would have quit and then focused on this because I just didn’t have, I had two clients in the beginning and that’s just not enough to pay your bills. So you have to be realistic about it in growing and scaling strategically and set a date for yourself.

I remember I met up with someone who inspired me to leave my full-time job and create this company. And he asked me, as we grabbed coffee and he was like, well, when are you going to leave your job? And I was like, oh, I don’t know. You know, sometime soon he’s like, no, You need to write it down and you need to have a date because if you don’t have a date, then it’s not a goal. It’s just a dream. And if you don’t write it down, when you write it down, it’s more likely to happen. So I did that and we kind of high five to cross the table cause he was launching something around St. Patrick’s day, 2015. And I was like, well, you’re doing it on March 17th. So that’ll be my deadline too.

And so I ended up putting my notice the last week of February and then I believe March 10th ended up being my last day and then something to not ever discount. Just maintaining and keeping those relationships that you’ve built. So with my old employer, at the dermatology group, I went in and gave him my notice.

Then he asked me where I was going. I said, you know, I’m not going anywhere. I’m just starting my own company. And he sat back in his chair and he was like, well, why don’t we become your first big client? And I said, what? Yeah, because I maintaining that relationship. And even when I was doing this on the side, I never did it during working hours. It was always during lunch or in the mornings or on the weekends. So I continued to help them grow and, and had a great relationship with them. And he ended up retaining me for a year after, through my new company.

Keisha Blair: Amazing. And so Katelyn, with regards to the marketing, how did you market yourself in that first 13 months? Many people start out right having these big marketing or PR budgets and don’t even know a thing about branding. How did you go about doing that to further increase your revenue?

Kaitlyn Study: That’s because I’m just like thinking about all of the things that I did. So I actually went cold calling door to door. When I was working for the dermatologist. We had half days on Fridays and we would leave the office around noon or one, and I would go to different areas around central Florida. And I would bring this little, this tiny little Chinese to go box that was white and I would put chocolate on the inside. And then on the top of it, after I closed it, I put a business card that I taped on there.

And the one side said, what’s sweeter than having someone do your marketing for you. And then I listed all of the services I could help with. And then on the backside of the card, I put my contact information. So I went around door to door, dropping those off and just introducing myself. And it was horrible. I mean, I had nice people, but I also had mean people, but going door to door, I met this woman and she was an acupuncturist and no one was at the front desk and I rang the bell and I was like, hello? Is anyone here? And she came up from the back a little bit frantic. She’s like, oh my gosh, no, one’s here. I really can’t talk right now.

I was like, okay, well I just wanted to drop this off. Like, you know, that’s totally fine. She’s like, okay, I have to go, I have a client. I was like, okay, well I’ll just leave this here. So I remember just not knowing what to do. And I got a phone call to my cell phone and it was a number I didn’t recognize. And I picked it up and it was this lady. And she was like, Hey, you know, I met you a couple of weeks ago and you came in with this cute little Chinese box. I’m really sorry, I just didn’t have time to talk to you, but I wanted to call you because I don’t need any help with marketing, but I know a group of people who do, and that’s how I got into that networking group.

And she and I are still good friends. It’s probably been a little over six, probably seven years now that I did that. And we’re still really amazing friends. We keep in touch all the time and text, but she was one of the major influential people in helping me get into those groups because I had never heard of that before. And it was a week over a week just building that trust with those people. And then soon they would see, oh, okay. You did a good job for this person. Well, maybe you can help me. Okay. You did a good job for me. Well, maybe I’ll introduce you to my clients and then it moved forward from there. So that was how I did it in the beginning.

And two tips that I would give people right now, number one is to start asking for reviews on Google. It is so hard to go back two years in the past and ask people for Google reviews, those start doing it. Now, once you’ve completed a project and you’ve done a really amazing job, and then number two is to start collecting emails.

So even if you’re not ready to send out an email marketing campaign, these are people that have purchased from you and they know like, and trust you. So when you are ready, add them to your list and give them an option to unsubscribe if they decide, but make sure you stay top of mind in front of them when you are ready to send out those emails.

Keisha Blair: That’s very, very good advice. Have you found a lot of success in say focusing on one industry or a few related, highly related industries?

Kaitlyn Study: Yeah. So our specialty are service-based companies that want to reach a local client. So it’s not necessarily just local to Orlando, where we are, but local to wherever they are. So we’ve worked with clients in Louisiana and North Carolina, Georgia, California, Florida, of course all over the place, but we really specialize in service-based companies. So your doctors, your attorneys, tree trimmers, bookkeepers, dog boarding companies, anyone that has a service.

Keisha Blair: Okay. It’s just in terms of getting their branding and marketing and like SEO, things like that. Local clientele is that right?

Kaitlyn Study: So we really help with website design and updates, social media, SEO, email marketing, blogging, and coaching.

Keisha Blair: Awesome. And so Katelyn, I know you took the quiz. So just a bit about that. So I developed this financial identity quiz based on my book, holistic wealth because lots of my readers were coming back, especially during the first lockdown. You know, asking how do I identify my personal financial identity? Because it’s so critical to all of our decisions. It’s critical to our relationships too. And for people who are starting a business or a side hustle, it’s also critical for that. And so I created this frequency that’s quick and easy, but people can do.

And guests have been sharing on the show. They’ve been sharing how their personal financial identity is aligned with their business philosophy, their spending, and how they invest and save and even in their relationships. And it’s been highly insightful. So can you share your quiz results with us, plus any thoughts that you may have on it in terms of those key items that I just listed in terms of your lifestyle?

Kaitlyn Study: Yeah. So I took the quiz and I was the Minimalist and of course. I feel there’s a time and a place for spending and for saving. But in growing up, I was always encouraged to save more than I was to spend on particular items. And I remember just growing up with my parents, if I wanted anything as a kid, I got an allowance and I had to put what I wanted on the fridge for a week.

And if I came back after a week and still wanted it, then they would take me to get the item. And I think that that’s really helped me in just growing up and understanding that it takes a lot of work to make money. And it’s hard come easy go. So I think obviously as I’ve grown my business, I have been able to have a little bit more leeway for myself, but I think overall the Minimalist is pretty accurate because I think about a lot of things before I purchase them to make sure it’s a really good Investment or a smart purchase or it’s going to help us as a company. So I think that overall it’s pretty accurate.

Keisha Blair: That’s great. I love that story about your parents and the allowance and teaching kids to wait and teaching kids that there are trade-offs and you’re right, it’s hard to come easy go. That’s exactly right.

And so Kaitlin, I wanted to ask you about SEO as well, because I’d been fascinated by it. And I think everybody who’s starting a business and scaling a business, you know, looks to improve that SEO. And I went on your website and saw that example of a case study that you did with Instagram and how you grew that account.

I think it was an Orlando account to 30 K followers on Instagram using specialized hashtags. And so yes, there’s the SEO and there’s the Instagram growth, which is kind of different. Just wondering what advice, tips and strategies would you have for listeners who are thinking about starting and scaling a side hustle and getting on that page one of Google or even dominating page one for their search terms, you know, and also, for instance, Instagram, you know, and, and hashtag strategy.

Any tips, there would be

Kaitlyn Study: Yes amazing. So for search engine optimization, the one thing that you need to do is figure out what people are typing in, or your frequently asked questions that people are searching for online. So put yourself in your customer’s shoes. What do they want to know? Or what do they always ask?

If you’d like to get more in depth with this, there is a free plugin called keywords everywhere, and that can help you with keyword research. And then also if you sign up for a Google AdWords account, you can do the free version and you can use their keyword tool. And you can do keyword research and that’ll show you impressions and what the average cost per click is.

So ad words and SEO are different, but I would say they’re kind of similar in the sense, like kind of cousins. So SEO is organic. So there are 10 spots on the first page of Google. And then the ad words you can show up on top of those organic spots on Google. So keyword research is really the compass that points you in the right direction.

Then once you have those keywords, you would write a piece of content that is about that particular keyword or key phrase that you found. So, as an example, if you are a dog boarding company and you want to focus on pet sitting and you’re in, let’s say Atlanta, Maybe you would focus on “pet sitting Atlanta” or “the best pet sitting companies in Atlanta”.

And then you would write a blog based around that keyword or key phrase. And you would make sure that the key phrase is within the blog a couple of times, And then you’d add images to it and post it on your website. And then the key here is there are so many tracking tools to just make sure that you know, where you’re ranking on Google.

So, there’s one that we use it’s called Moz, and they also have these amazing tutorials that are free. They have one that my whole team watches every Friday, it’s called whiteboard Friday, where they literally have a whiteboard and explain some of the SEO tactics, new things that are coming to the market.

So that’s a really amazing resource if you’re looking to get into SEO. But one thing to know is that this is a long-term strategy. So I would highly suggest thinking about coming up with a strategy for your company when you begin, because it’s, so you can go back into time and SEO does take time. It takes an average of four to six months just depending on your competition and on your industry.

And then for the social media front, especially on Instagram, it’s one of my personal favourite platforms on social media, but hashtags are so, so important on Instagram. And one thing that you can do is hashtag research. And what that is, is looking at other accounts that are similar to yours and researching what hashtags they’re using.

But you want to make sure the hashtags that you’re using aren’t too general and aren’t too specific. So there’s kind of that sweet spot. So researching as an example, let’s go back to that dog boarding company. Maybe you posted a cute dog that is playing outside to showcase that you give them a lot of fun playtime and they can interact with other dogs.

And maybe you do hashtag dog boarding, hashtag dogs of Instagram, and then getting more specific. Let’s say you’re in Atlanta again, hashtag dogs of Atlanta and researching other local hashtags that people would potentially search for. To find you on there. And then the other key thing that I feel like a lot of people forget on social media is it’s all about being social.

So interacting and engaging with not only your audience, but people that could become your audience or that like, and follow other similar accounts to you.

Keisha Blair: Yes that’s amazing. And especially for Instagram, you know, in that case, study that you mentioned on your website, you mentioned that you grew it to 30 K followers, and I think it was over a short period of time and developed a really good hashtag strategy for that. And let’s say for instance, like my book is Holistic Wealth, you know, really hyper-local, but let’s say you’re trying to attract readers or customers from diverse places, possibly internationally, any Instagram strategies and hashtag strategies that you could use to kind of grow that following through hashtags?

Kaitlyn Study: I would just start researching hashtags. And the way that you research is super simple. So you would just pull up Instagram, click on the little magnifying glass icon, and then I’m on the top, just hover over tags and click on that and then start typing in hashtags and see how many people follow them and what comes up.

But also I would recommend creating, you can create folders on Instagram, through your saved items. And I would recommend, saving some of your competitors on there or not even competitors, but like accounts that you like and follow in that you give you the inspiration to see what hashtags they’re using and check in on them.

Every once in a while, we’ve actually grown five accounts, one of them has almost 50,000 followers. The one that you’re referring to is actually over 45,000 followers. And we’re reaching on, on one of our accounts we’re reaching actually multiple, but we’re reaching, over a million people each month, but it’s taken a long time to get here.

It’s taken around 6 years to get all five accounts to over 30,000 followers. And it’s taken, we change our hashtags every single month. We do hashtag research each month for each account. And then we’re also posting two times a day and doing stories and interacting with people and responding to comments. So there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into it. It’s not just about posting, there’s also the interaction and the engagement and the research portion of it as well.

Keisha Blair: I find that, you know, it’s so funny. We tend to post the same hashtags every day, every month throughout the year. And they tend to be very general, for example, motivation, inspiration. They’re, those hashtags are so broad and so general. They’re not really doing the job you want them to do, even though, what you’re posting is highly motivational or highly inspirational.

So you’re right. Researching and changing hashtags every month, you know, sounds like the way to do it, to reach more people for sure. Okay. Kaitlin. Well, thank you so much. For sharing these tips and strategies with us on the show today, it was amazing having you here. Can you tell our audience where to find you like your website and social media?

Kaitlyn Study: Yes. So you can find and if you want to follow along on Instagram, we have, and that’s where we’re most active. It’s at the south street, underscore C. And then something else I wanted to pass along, we do have some amazing checklists for blogging, email marketing and social media.

So we have a checklist for each of them. That’ll kind of help you revamp your strategy or just have everything in one place. And if you, if anyone’s interested in downloading those they’re free, you can go to bit dot Lee slash S S C O checklist. And that’s S as in Sam, S as in Sam, C as in cat, O as in octopus. Checklist, and then those will pop up. Just enter your email and then we’ll email those right over to you. Okay.

Keisha Blair: Sounds good. Thank you so much for joining us again, Katelyn. It was great having you here.

Kaitlyn Study: Thank you. Thanks for having me.

Keisha Blair: Thank you for joining us this week on Holistic Wealth with Keisha Blair. Make sure to visit our website where you can subscribe to the show on iTunes, Spotify or via Rs so you will never miss a show. While you’re at it, if you found value in this show, we’d appreciate a rating on iTunes or if you simply tell a friend about the show that would help us out too. Are you a member of the Institute on Holistic Wealth? If not, what are you waiting for? Go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to choose your membership plan and join as a member. You get so many perks, free worksheets, advice coaching, and a member’s workshop to design an intentionally designed life. Do you need to figure out your life purpose? Take the Build Your Life Purpose Portfolio online self-paced course. Are you struggling with all your money decisions? Take the free financial identities quiz and then take the personal financial identities course. Did you recently suffer a breakup job loss or experience the death of a loved one? Take the Holistic Healing online course. Do you need an overall plan to achieve holistic wealth? We will help you figure out your Holistic Wealth Blueprint and of course, if you want to start making money by helping others achieve Holistic Wealth, become a Certified Holistic Wealth Consultant. Regardless of what career you’ve got, the Institute will show you how to increase your income and walk in your purpose. The sooner you join the sooner you start to achieve a more holistically wealthy lifestyle and you’re going to want to stay for a very long time so go to Institute on Holistic Wealth/memberships to join. If you haven’t read the book yet pick up a copy of the award-winning best-selling book Holistic Wealth: 32 life lessons to help you find purpose prosperity and happiness