B2B ID: Katie Stebbins, publisher, BYOFamily.com
NAME: Katie Stebbins
JOB TITLE, COMPANY: Publisher, BYOFamily.com
WHEN THE BUSINESS STARTED: October 2011
WHAT YOU DO: I publish an online e-zine for families interested in parenting in or visiting Springfield and Holyoke.
EXPERIENCE: I am a parent and a city planner with 12 years experience in planning and economic development in both Springfield and Holyoke.
THE MARKET: Parents from anywhere who want to know more about our region’s most urbanized areas. A bulk of our market is new parents who already live in either Holyoke or Springfield. We reach all of Hampshire County to Pittsfield to Boston and beyond.
HOW YOU REACH OUT TO IT: BYOFamily.com produces content that is highly relevant to parents living in our cities and parents who are interested in moving here or visiting. By covering the stories, the parents seem to find us. We also use social media extensively.
WHAT FINANCING HURDLES HAVE YOU FACED AND HOW HAVE YOU HANDLED THEM? We have no financing hurdles so far. The reception to our product has been great. In sales and fundraising, if you have a good story to tell and a solid product to share, folks want to support you.
KEY TO SUCCESS: Spreading the word about how much I love living in the city with my family is my passion. Springfield and Holyoke make me and my family so happy. It’s so easy to share what you love.
CHALLENGES: I am a planner and not a media mogul. I have a whole new respect for media outlets that have to produce fresh content every day. We are a monthly and making sure we have a robust and enticing story list is a (fun) challenge.
MISSTEP YOU LEARNED FROM: I tried to bring in lots of partners initially so I would have friends in my journey. In the end, I needed to journey alone and fine tune my vision. I got distracted by lots of strong opinions. What I needed was friendly feedback. My gut was spot-on. I need to trust that.
WHAT OTHERS COULD LEARN FROM YOU: First: Do what you love. There is an energy that follows you when you are having fun. Why should work feel like work? My business keeps me on the go at least 40 hours a week, but I don’t feel a strain. Second: there will be bad days, and you will doubt yourself. Push through these days, set a smaller goal and get some success going.
WHO HELPED MENTOR YOU PROFESSIONALLY: I learn something new every day. I have 10 people writing for me, a web team, a social media maven and an editor and a photographer, and they all teach me something during the creation of every issue. I was mentored in my city planning career by brilliant colleagues who taught me to love cities and love the people who make them living, breathing places.
TOP GOALS FOR 2012: Finish the year in the black and complete my taxes with pride and accuracy.
ADVICE FOR OTHERS SEEKING BUSINESS SUCCESS: Research the market first. (I did for a year). Also spend money on contractors who complement your strengths. You don’t have to learn how to do everything. Know what you do well, and know when to sub-contract out.
PARTING THOUGHT: Never write anybody or any place off. Sometimes your market is sitting right before your eyes.