This week, I am taking a bit of a turn from my usual interview style of episode. Instead of talking to someone else, I am telling the story of how Simple Pin Media got started. It is a story that I get asked about often, and that I love to think about and tell. I hope this will encourage those of you interested in starting a Pinterest management company, and inspire those of you wanting to be an entrepreneur.
It all began in November of 2013. My husband had been unemployed for about a year, and here in Portland, Oregon, there just weren’t any jobs opening up for him. I had been doing some part time work for my friend, Angela, on her blog for almost 3 years, and I really loved the work I was doing for her; which was both blog and social media managing.
In spite of this being a very difficult time for our family, we managed to stretch what little we had pretty well, due to the fact that we had become debt free just a few years before. Unfortunately, it was around this time that Facebook changed its algorithms so my work for Angela’s blog, which was a deal blog, took a real hit. Without the usual, huge, organic Facebook reach during the crucial months of November and December, her deal blog, and therefore my income, took a dive.
For a few months prior, I had been working with Angela on her Pinterest page; but at the time, it really felt like it was all just a matter of chance. It was Angela, though, who would give me the idea to manage Pinterest accounts for others as a side business. And to be honest? I thought it was a crazy idea. But I agreed to try it for 6 months.
Making a Plan
I spent all of November and December learning everything I could about Pinterest. I used Angela’s blog to try out everything I was learning. I was also figuring out what it would cost to actually run this business.
In December, I sat down with Angela to figure out some things for the business; how I wanted the company to look, who I was as a business owner, etc. The idea of “simple” got stuck in my head, but when I checked, the domain name for Simple Pin was taken. So I went with Simple Pin Media; and that name drove all of my decisions as I thought through what types of packages I would offer, and everything I would do with the business.
The original packages I came up with that day are the same packages I still offer, along with one larger package. I had a friend’s husband build my first site; it was simple, clean, and just a static page that explained who I was and what services I offered.
Starting in Beta
I originally had 2 beta clients, who were friends of Angela’s. From those first 2 clients, I learned so many things; work flow, how to manage multiple accounts (2 clients plus my own Simple Pin account along with the account for Angela’s blog), my hourly income, how to manage taxes, creating spreadsheets to keep up with my finances and to keep up with what was happening with the accounts I was managing.
After a few months of working with those first 2 clients, they spread the word about my services, and I had 2 more people sign up with me. I’ll be honest, I was experiencing some real fear at this point…fear of making mistakes, not being exactly sure what I was doing, etc. So I decide to remain in a beta state for as long as I could, and to ask my clients for lots of feedback so that I could get better at what I was doing.
At this point, I had 5 accounts I was managing, and I was pretty close to maxed out. I couldn’t imagine managing much more than that. My husband had actually gotten a job in December, and we also had 3 kids at home under the age of 5!
Hiring a Team
The following July, I had another blogger ask me to take on their account, and because of the success of this blogger, I knew I had to do it. I had 6 clients, I was pretty much at the tipping point of being able to manage it all, and my prices still hadn’t gone up from the beta phase.
And that very month, our daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. We spent 2 days in the hospital learning about this disease and how our lives would change; and it was at that point that I knew I had to hire someone to help me…someone I could train to cover for me in emergency situations like this. I hired my friend to begin to curate outside content for some of the accounts I was managing.
And I thought this was it. Business-wise I was maxed out, so we would just roll with these 6 accounts and it would be great. Not to mention that fact that our family was having to adjust to dealing with diabetes management every moment of every day. Anyone who cares for a child with this disease can tell you what a challenge it is to get to a normal type of life when you are trying to manage Type 1.
In September of that year, 2014, I got a shout-out from a very large blogger, and all of a sudden I was hit with tons of requests for my services. I was completely overwhelmed, and if you listened to the last episode with Leslie Samuel, then you know that it was at this time that I begged him to be my business coach and to help me figure out what I was doing.
*This is my team at a party in August at my home. It was pure joy for me to watch them talk, be strategic about Pinterest and bond as a team.
Making the Decision to Go Big
With that decision to hire Leslie came the decision to be serious about this business and see how much we could grow it. Growing my Pinterest business meant that we could do more of the things we loved, which included allowing my husband to step into the role of itinerant pastor. Unfortunately, that gig doesn’t pay a whole lot, so we needed my business to become the main income for our family, so that he could work for minimal pay.
*Side note: We have not become involved in each other’s work. He loves his work, I love my work, and we don’t work together. It’s happy here. 🙂
On my first call with Leslie, he asked me a whole lot of questions about my business, and I couldn’t answer any of them. I only had my site with my packages listed, and two team members working for me, and that was it. We spent the next 4-5 months getting some solid foundations in place for the business. The crazy thing is, Leslie had bigger dreams for my business than I did. Believe it or not, I was still fearful of stepping out of that beta mode I had been in since the beginning.
It was only by Leslie’s encouragement that I finally had the courage to “go for it.” Today, just two years later, Simple Pin has 56 clients, 18 team members, an operations manager, two team leads, and a trainer. The business is running not only simply, but well.
Now all this might seem like a dream; growing my business from just 6 clients to 56 clients in just 2 years. But believe it or not, I have experienced real trouble by comparing my growth with others. Again, if you listened to the last episode, you heard me talk with Leslie about how to get out of the comparison trap, because it has been a problem for me. I had to make the decision to step away from content that makes me envious of others’ growth, and to focus on my own business and the great strides we have made here at Simple Pin.
Lest you think it has all been rainbows and unicorns these past 2 years, let me assure you that is not the case. I am human, and I have made a lot of mistakes; with clients and with team members alike. But beating myself up over those mistakes helps no one. What helps is admitting my mistakes and learning from them so we can continue to grow.
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Part of that growth process has meant developing new training materials for my team members. It also means that I am still learning about who I am as a business owner. A recent book has completely rocked my world –> The E-Myth. This book has helped me learn how to make this business serve me instead of me serving my business. If you are a business owner or thinking of running your own business you MUST read this book.
Because I am investing in this company, our family sees returns on that investment, rather than our family sacrificing for the business. To go along with that, I decided to only hire people that were local. Each of my team members lives near me, except for one who recently moved to California. This has allowed us to develop relationships with each other, as we gather together in person at least 4 times per year to talk over the business and how things are going. Plus, if something is really critical we can meet up at a coffee shop to get some hands on learning.
Without these team members, there would be no Simple Pin as it is today, because there’s simply no way I could manage 56 accounts myself.
Simple Pin is not only about managing Pinterest accounts it’s also about teaching actionable, accurate Pinterest information. The Simple Pin audience is looking for help and direction on the best way to Pin. This past year, I have spent a good chunk of time working on that side of the business, and you can see by the numbers in our Facebook group that we are reaching our audience with helpful tips and information on growing and managing your own Pinterest page.
My goal is not to be a giant Pinterest expert; I see myself as a guide. I am walking in front of people, and I am scoping things out, and telling everyone behind me what I’m seeing. This allows them to grow this small piece of their business on Pinterest while still focusing on the bigger pieces.
I remember Leslie telling me last year that he could easily see Simple Pin reaching 100 clients, and that really scared me. Again, his vision was much bigger than mine. But here we are at 56 clients, and the business is still growing.
Update: Since this podcast was recorded a few weeks ago we have added two more awesome team members and have 62 clients.
What’s Next for Simple Pin
Dreaming and having a vision helps your business to keep moving forward. As I’ve struggled with over the last three years I’ve also learned to take big steps of faith.
I’ve had a dream for my clients and our network for the last 18 months to build an influencer network. I’m taking the same process I had for growing Simple Pin (slow and strategic) and putting that in action in 2017. I’m nervous but excited to see what Simple Pin can do and how that can benefit my clients.
Thank you so much for sticking with me through this episode, as I have done a deep dive into the story of how Simple Pin Media got its start and how we have grown it to where it is today. As always, you are welcome to comment below with any questions you have and I will do my my best to answer them for you.
For Further Reading/Listening:
- Creating Business Core Values: The Simple Pin Story
- How to Build a Successful Team: The Simple Pin Story
- Behind the Business: Our Fostering Story
- Meet the Simple Pin Team: The Educator/Administrator
Questions? Comments? Tips? Join the fun below.
FYI — I have a private Facebook group where I love to chat all about Pinterest. Join me.
Deborah Williams says
Thanks so much for sharing your story! It’s amazing to read and super inspiring. I appreciate how much you try to help and mentor others who are trying to grow their own business.
Thank you so much for listening Deborah and your support. That means so much to me.
Tina Gammon says
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. Thank you for being so honest about Simple Pin Media’s early life. It’s so nice to have a story behind the brand. Keep the stories coming!
Julie S Kalungi says
Love your Story Kate, esp as you didnt hold any of the pit falls back. Lots of people gloss over the Deep…They forget thats what gets others to resonate with you. As someone who loves pinterest and pointing the same way as yo …i.e. managing accounts for people while also blogging and maintaining a home….I totally get it. Thanks for sharing with us your story and I hope to rise up to the challenge like you did soonest! I Have studied, consumed and applied a lot of Pinterest cuisine, making it our main traffic source…I wrote a book about it: “The Art of Pinterest Profits” . I am ready for the next leap !
Kate Ahl says
Kelli @ Hungry Hobby says
I think it was this podcast you mentioned a service you use to respond to emails but I can’t remember what it was!!!!
Natalie Gallagher says
The service is called YesWare– http://www.yesware.com/
Ejimnke Onye says
Hii Kate.realy u are wonderful everything about your story is full of passion with greate incitement ,am overwhelmed with this good news remin blessed,I every thing about this Pinterest marketing stuff.but I must be sincere am a novice I realy need u to guide me on how and where to start,pls carry me along I lost my job barely 1yr and I have nothing doing.the only thing I can boost is my family and this very phone am using ,even how I becom close in your contact I can’t explain .i have nothing to show to market but if by miracle you will open my eye becos I know am seeing but I don’t think am seeing clearly,just do something .have a wonderful night and stere in cool vibrant on Pinterest dealings with more greate ideas.A PLUS.
Samantha MacDonald says
Kate, I know what you do, but I had never read the details and how God put them all together. It’s been quite a journey. Congrats on following Gods leading, happy “journey” to 100!
Thanks for sharing your story! I’m at the very beginning of creating a small LLC that offers a service totally different than yours but so much of what I’m hoping to do (values-wise, opportunity/flexibility for others, structure-wise) is so similar to what you’ve done. Currently, there is just me and 3 independent contractors. Being at the very beginning of it all, I have questions about using contractors and determining how much to pay for contractors. Would it be possible to reach out to you with questions or advice for if you were doing it all over again from scratch? Or is there someone you would recommend I connect with for these kinds of questions?
Go ahead and email me. I do 1 hour consult calls but we could chat about this during that time.
Olga Mescheryakova says
It’s so inspiring, your story. Thanks for sharing. And this morning it pulled me out to register my domain pinterestnarusskom.ru. So… I hope… I will grow my business.
Amy Ford says
Love your story!! I am inspired to grow my business and will be working with local clients. I love the community feel of getting together and celebrating. Thank you for such inspiration.