Posts tagged ‘Richmond Rocks’

February 10, 2014

Social Media: Laugh with Me

by Kate W. Hall

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Akin to tomato soup and grilled cheese on a winter’s day, social media is the hungry palette, humor the appetizer. We’ve shared this as the Richmond Rocks brand previously and a good story can be retold in different ways.

This is a recent and well-received post on my Richmond Rocks Facebook page, poking fun at our angst at the snow and impending school delays.

Two hundred and forty-nine likes later, this post neither sells Richmond Rocks books nor promotes anything related to it. It does achieve the goal of keeping the book front-and-center in a time when parents are online, watching the news, and need a laugh.

And that’s important for brands to understand: not every moment is an opportunity to sell, but it can be one to connect to the consumer. And that’s a start.

October 15, 2013

Our brand? Fun.

by Kate W. Hall

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We dig having fun.

Our fans dig it, too.

So many brands try to sell, sell, sell when much of that time could be spent on fun Facebook posts like this one on our Richmond Rocks book page garnering likes & shares (80 likes since we posted!) and all we’re doing is having a laugh or two.

After all, this is the month for the spooky sequel (and I’m obsessed with Halloween!) so it’s the perfect fit.

I’ve always got a lot of room for new learning in the web advertising space, but this I know: people gravitate towards sincerity and laughter; for this I’m thankful.

October 7, 2013

Advertising the Best: There’s Something About Mary (& Jamie & Co.)

by Kate W. Hall

When she approached me at a party December 2008, there was something I just liked about her.

Her energy, infectious party-going style and sincerity were icing on the cake. Mary Fisk-Taylor, along with Jamie Hayes and the Hayes and Fisk Real Life Studios team became one of my first advertisers and true partners on Richmondmom.com.

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I decided to enter into an exclusive advertising relationship with Mary’s team. Not only because I felt it was the right thing to do for my readership & Mary (too many similar advertisers water down the vibrant flavor of just one) but because she believed in Richmondmom.com when few others even knew about it. Plus, their talent could reach our city limits and beyond.

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Mary and Jamie went on to photograph my headshots, my family, promotions we had on the blog and eventually our Richmond Chevy Road Trip Challenge Team in 2012. They also were the creative photo geniuses on my children’s books, Richmond Rocks and The Spooky Sequel. what fun to create and share part of Richmond’s history with children all over the city.

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Beyond their energy, talent and unique skills was a platform of true community spirit. We had a blast giving back to Richmond’s non-profits through our collaborative efforts throughout the years like the Richmond Real Cute Kids Contest, Supermom and other fun ventures.

One of the treasures I take with me after transitioning ownership of my blog is having built relationships with amazing, talented people like Mary, Jamie and team, who not only showed me what professionalism was, but sparked creativity all along.

September 26, 2013

Give ‘Em What They Never Knew . . .

by Kate W. Hall

In an early conversation with a friend in 2007, when I described my vision for Richmondmom.com, she somewhat-protectively said, “I think that’s already being done.”

But it really wasn’t, not the way I wanted to do it.

You see, I had to create what I felt passionate about–a blog that didn’t yet exist but that was something I thought readers would want.

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Selling my blog to one of my clients (who are carrying the torch well!) five years later with over 200,000 annual readers & dozens of advertisers was bittersweet but necessary for me personally. I’d fulfilled my mission & wanted to focus on my other creative bent, my Richmond Rocks children’s books and other pursuits.*

After all, I’d likely never had pursued publishing Richmond Rocks & The Spooky Sequel had I not built a platform that created the perfect birthplace for my books.

That desire to create is what fuels my flame, because most of us don’t even really know what it is that we want until someone brings it to us.

*Oh yes, I have a full-time job, three kids, two houses (we’re hoping to whittle that to one when the market swings back!) & one husband.

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September 6, 2013

Do Something Forward-Thinking Now

by Kate W. Hall

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Some days it’s just tough to get past:

1) getting three lunches packed
2) coercing three children out of their beds
3) signing school paperwork & writing notes to teachers
4) being a good worker/wife/mom/daughter/sister (insert dutiful role here ___________)
5) answering requests for community service
6) doing dishes/laundry/grocery shopping/vacuuming (insert domestic chore here ___________)

You get the picture. So after a 7:30am game reporting-duty with my six-year old I’ll be embarking on researching a new venture tomorrow in-between buying paint for my boys’ room which they’ve requested I don Minecraft wall images (no idea how to make this happen, but I will!) the entire list may not be checked off but we’re on our way.

Every day, no matter how small a dent I make in the work, it’s a step in the right direction. Let’s not wait for the big leap when incremental baby steps lead us, step-by-step today.

That, my friends is wonderful.

June 13, 2013

After the Business Sale

by Kate W. Hall

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Several of my friends (including my boss) have been watching me this last six weeks or so since selling Richmondmom.com. I’ve written a bit about life after entrepreneurship but haven’t divulged much.

I think they’re waiting for me to break down, crack-up or dive maniacally head-first into another project. Full disclosure: The third is likely true-I’m in the midst of moving my family of five during the last week of school. Please send wine.

The truth is: it was time. When I was able to sit at the closing table, sign the idea that became the home to dozens of writers and two hundred thousand annual readers away without tears, it was time. I needed my life back as for a couple of years there it wasn’t quite my own.

The blog, out of necessity when I lost my job became a business of which I was primary sales rep, bill-payer, recruiter, marketer & PR-rep. Even with a great team it came down to me being in two places at the same time & with a demanding family and full-time job it began to take its toll.

Plus, what about those Richmond Rocks books I wrote & barely had time to read in schools as I love to do?

Thousands were donated to charity. Scores of connections were made, ideas shared, lives touched through good deeds on the blog.

Missing the team & our fun advertisers is the toughest part, yet we still email & comment on each other’s posts.

I feel peaceful & hopeful about transitioning my blog to new owners and starting a new chapter (in our new-to-us home!) and excited about new adventures ahead.

February 18, 2013

On Publishing Books: Good, Bad, Real

by Kate W. Hall

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When I launched Richmondmom.com as a business in 2008 I didn’t realize that later that year it would be my full-time job. Being laid off (due to company bankruptcy) & taking the plunge into an entrepreneurial venture was the perfect time to write my first book–it ended up as the culmination of a trip with my kids to Brown’s Island and a way to piggy-back on our Richmond blog.

Along with friends Nicole Unice, Knox Hubard, Mary Fisk-Taylor and Jamie Hayes, we published Richmond Rocks through Palari Publishing locally. This meant a considerable financial investment and leap-of-faith for all–especially me–as it would take one year minimum to recoup my investment.

What I found were several lessons I share openly with other budding authors:

1) Writing a book is often the easy part–selling the book through in-person readings and building relationships is paramount. It’s also a ton of fun.

2) Much like our blog, I found this venture was a similar “if you build it they may not come” scenario, and although we had our blog as a hearty springboard platform to promote the book, it doesn’t just “sell itself.” Even with 180,000+ unique visitors per year and with the book in a prominent space on our leaderboard, we still need to actively market the book itself.

3) Personalizing the writing experience is something the audience truly wants to hear about. Yes, the three kids in the book are modeled after my three–two boys and a girl–but I allowed our illustrator Knox Hubard free license to draw them as his children. Children and adults alike seem to love hearing details like this!

We’ve just launched our second book, a book of Richmond Virginia ghost stories called Richmond Rocks the Spooky Sequel. I keep all of these lessons in mind and treasure the positive response from our community.

We also are thrilled to give back and have donated thousands of dollars through the books right back into the community–often through schools at which we present–about which we write.

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November 1, 2010

Speaking to 400 women was like a cocktail party. Really.

by Kate W. Hall

When I was invited to speak at the first-ever HCA Virginia Spirit of Women Girls Day Out on Friday, October 29, 2010 it was a bit overwhelming: why did they ask me? Was no one else available? Would I be able to entertain/inspire? It was such a compliment to be asked, yet still a daunting task.

I assembled some thoughts from the heart and the gut, invited my closest friends and family, and showed up in my prettiest dress. And it ended up being just like a cocktail party in my livingroom. Truly.

One of my dearest friends, Allison, suggested I tell a silly joke to start off, and it got everyone laughing. . from there on out, it was how/why/what was Richmondmom.com and how did I get here from there.

To be more specific:

There: a mom-of-three standing in November 2008 holding a pink slip.

Here: a mom-of-three who owns a business, Richmondmom.com with a site readership of of 112,000 since then, who is able to earn a living as an entrepreneur.

Key lessons if you missed it:

1) tons of support.

2) finding a team–for me, it was my running team.

3) having fun & reminding yourself that every day’s work counts

4) treating yourself: for me it’s with this guy: 

on television, of course. and occasionally while getting a massage.

5) do what no one says you can do. I wanted to write and publish Richmond Rocks within the same year. Some said it couldn’t be done. Why not?

6) give credit where credit is due: for me, it’s largely to my mom, who raised four of us single-handedly. We applauded her. We cried. It was the best gift I could ever give her, and I meant it.

7) laugh at yourself. Even when being bitten by a dog while on your morning run, roll with it. What else can ya do?

Bottom line: We are infinitely able to do far more than we can imagine. The women who came up and spoke with me personally mirrored this sentiment. I  knew they knew it about themselves, they just needed a little reminder. What do you want to do? I’d love to hear.

October 15, 2010

How Richmondmom.com became a print magazine: Never say Never

by Kate W. Hall

Richmondmom.com Magazine launched this Wednesday, October 13, 2010 inside of Richmond Grid Magazine, an arts/culture/business magazine with a distribution of 60K quarterly.

Just three short months ago the publishers, Palari Publishing, who helped me create and print Richmond Rocks, approached me about partnering with them on their magazine.

I thought we were going to discuss the reprint of Richmond Rocks since we were getting close to the end of our 2,000-copy original print run, so when Ted Randler pulled out his iPad with a mock-up of Richmondmom.com Magazine I held my breath for a moment. It was surreal, almost as much so as when, three months later, I saw the actual print magazine with my photo on the cover at the launch party!

When previously asked if I’d do a magazine I’d always answered that I’d “never want to go print.” Being a web girl and having developed Richmondmom.com from the ground-up (and I mean the ground; the original site was rough at best) to be an online resource I was sure that print was a dinosaur soon to be fossilized. But I have to admit that when I saw that mock-up and thought of the possibilities for the site and my clients, it was too incredible of an opportunity to pass up.

Working with my clients–many of whom were thrilled at the opportunity to have a print magazine to solidify and advertise their brand to the mom market that Richmondmom.com attracts–was a pleasure and reinforced the fact that print is still very much alive. Not only are Dave Smitherman and Ted Randler as well as writer Paul Spicer super-creative, the Grid Team are all incredibly personable and talented.

They also have their finger on the pulse of the Richmond social media community, and have worked to create Richmond Grid as a social media-centric publication with shout-outs to the RVA Twitter crowd and a website to keep the information flowing in-between quarterly print publications.

We work together to create content that is unique, relevant, and interesting for Richmond VA readers–not information that is easily discovered elsewhere. It’s also packaged in a quick-flowing style that makes the reader want to devour the pages.

So far on my entrepreneurial journey, the opportunity to become a print magazine has been the best surprise gift, a nicely-wrapped and decorated box that I’ll cherish and reopen with each quarterly issue.

Oh, and I’ll try to remind myself to never say “never” again :-)

October 2, 2010

Don’t listen to dream-killers

by Kate W. Hall

When I first set out to launch Richmondmom.com, a very dear friend of mine said something to me that stopped me in my tracks. Surely it was meant in kindness not wanting me to put my heart into this new venture without knowing all the facts. “I think that’s been done before,” she said. “And it’s going to be a LOT of hard work for a long time, with very little pay.”

At first I was hurt. The hurt turned to indignation, which fueled my passion even more.

This thought alone kept me going: No one will do it like I will.

That thought alone has kept me going many days.

9 out of 10 businesses fail, and many of them fail within the first two years. Maybe I’ll be one of them. But this fact alone can’t prevent anyone from setting out to do what they are truly passionate about.

When I set out to publish a children’s book a few months later, I was met with similar doubt. Most folks that I encountered said, “Wow! That’s great. But it’ll surely take you over a year to get it done.”

I didn’t have a year. I had three children to help feed, we were in the process of moving, and all the puzzle pieces had to come together before the holiday season, so I set a goal of having the book in-hand by December 1, 2010. Richmond Rocks arrived in a palette chock full of boxes November 20, 2009. We were on our way.

How do we do it? Simple: set a goal, make a plan, work the plan. Project management taught me that setting specific goals, then creating a plan to achieve them was the best way to ensure success.  A laser-like focus is another ingredient that helps streamline it all.

And one thing’s for sure: no one was going to kill the dream. Nor should anyone do the same to yours.

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