Moms In Business: Nicole Amsler
This week Moms In A Blog is proud to present Nicole Amsler of Keylocke Services
What made you decide to be a work at home mom?
My children were starting school and I was bored! I have always written and came from a high-powered corporate career so I always knew I'd return to work eventually. Before my income became a “requirement”, I thought I'd try the freelance, at home avenue.
What is the nature of your business?
I own a freelance copywriting and marketing consulting business, Keylocke Services. I write books, ebooks, web copy, SEO copy, blog entries, marketing collateral and press releases. I also help small business, especially mom-owned businesses, take the right marketing steps. As a former marketing director and manager in the corporate world, I have a 360 degree understanding of all things marketing.
What made you decide that particular business?
My BA is in marketing and professional writing. My 15+ years in the work place was entirely in marketing–for B2B, B2C, retail and wholesale. I worked in industries I had never heard of and even at a dot com before the bubble burst! My husband and I moved frequently so I had the opportunity to work at several big and small businesses, in a variety of capacities. I worked my way up from Marketing Assistant to Director of Marketing.
What has been your biggest challenge?
Working at home requires laser focus and multi-tasking abilities. I like being able to juggle my schedule so my kids and I can take an impromptu trip to Kings Island down the road. But it usually means working during my hubby-time hours. Summer vacation is especially draining (but then again, we are still on summer vacation right now so I might have answered differently in the winter!)
What has been your biggest success?
Having my freelance income match my last paycheck in the “real world.” I'll never go back to the corporate world now.
I also am addicted to watching my clients websites move up in ranking. Its the first thing I do in the morning!
What is the best way you promote your business under $10.00?
I joined HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and I get tons of PR and media leads several times a day. I read each one and send targeted leads to my favorite clients. It is free for me and free for them. Some have gotten some major press and often they hire me to write the press release. It's just good karma.
under $50 worth it at any cost?
If a client sends me a referral, I send him or her a Thank you card and a Starbucks card. I have sent one gentleman five Starbucks cards!
How do you balance work and family?
Very haphazardly! Some weeks, when I have too many deadlines, my kids will just have to entertain themselves and Mark has to cook dinner. On down weeks, I will take them wherever they want to go (within reason!) It's never a 50/50 split. Some weeks I am more writer than Mom and vice versa. But I am at home with my kids far more than if I was working outside the home. It's never perfectly balanced but my kids are seeing me succeed and they love to read my name (or their name) in magazines and helping me brainstorm headlines. I include them if I can.
To what do you attribute your success as a WAHM?
Reasonable expectations. I don't expect to make money for little work. I work HARD for my money! My goal was to make my kid's tuition and then later, to make my former salary. I know I am going to have to pour on the hours to get there.
Plus I am impossibly blessed. My children and husband are my greatest treasures and I have lived a charmed life. No one deserves the wonderful gifts I have received in life–but I am not turning them away! I am just immensely grateful.
What impact has blogging made on your career?
You know…I am lousy at keeping up my own blogs but I am never late for posting to a client's blog. I enjoy helping people create editorial calendars for their blogs and helping them launch a blog but my goal is to be a pinch hitter, not the star. In most cases, if they can do it themselves, I'd rather come along side and teach THEM how to do it rather than keep a long term assignment for me. My attention span is too short to want to write one thing for years on end.
Can you recommend any resources for WAHMS who are just starting out, or perhaps trying to make the transition from the workplace?
I gravitate towards free or focused forums. I joined MomWriters on Yahoo and enjoyed the variety of women at different stages of accomplishment. My path will never look like someone elses so I appreciate a group with diversity. I also belong to a few paid membership sites and have found them to be good educational resources.
My greatest resource is my clients. They are so good at what they do, I always learn something from them. Sometimes what works for them in their arena might work for a different client in a different industry, so I cross pollinate.
What can you tell us about your other ventures.?
I only focus on my copywriting and marketing business for income. But I have been dabbling in magazine article sales and I have written a non-fiction book and a fiction book. I will write another one later this year. I tend to have byline phobia (which is great for a copywriter) but I am trying to get past it. Whatever I do, it will revolve around words.
Is there anything else that you want to share with the readers?
Having your husband on board with your decision is crucial for smooth sailing. Mine creates all my spreadsheets for time management, billing tracking, invoices, etc. It lets him participate while seeing that I have a real job.
What is one thing you can't do without in your business?
My tiara. I wear it when I am on the phone with a client. It lets my kids know that they can't bother me right then. They will walk into my office, see the tiara and walk back out, waiting until I am off the phone. I highly recommend it!
What one thing should be avoided at all costs?
Lazy billing. It is a pain to send out and follow up on billing but it must be done. Understanding that I have to pay huge self employment taxes makes it easy for me to treat my income like a real business. I don't apologize for my hourly fee because I always overdeliver. But clients aren't going to prioritize paying me unless I send them timely invoices and reminders, if needed.
What's the biggest business killer?
Too wide of a net. I write everything for every industry imaginable. But that is not how I market myself. I am a luxury writing–writing enticing copy for products that nobody NEEDS. But hopefully, my writing convinces you that you DO need it!
I have also niche marketed myself to WAHMs. I still work for plenty of large and small freestanding businesses but my heart is with the working mom. I love to see her succeed!
What advice do you wish someone would've shared with you when you first started out?
Outsource what you aren't good at. I will never be good at web programming so I have given up learning how. I am happy to pay someone to program my site. The most important thing on a web page is the copy anyway–and guess what? I am good at writing that!!
Thank you again for the opportunity!