How I Completed My Portfolio Project And How That Helps You

The Project

For the month of December 2018, I set myself the goal of interviewing five different startups about their marketing process and composing it into an eBook. I’m in a program called Praxis, where professional development projects like these happen fairly often. It’s the main focus of Month 2, and this eBook was my project for that month. 

Over the course of the month, I interviewed five startups and ran a Facebook page. While working through this, I ran into challenges and came out on top. Let me give you a brief synopsis of what I did and how, so I can show you why you should do something like this too.


My Process

I researched five different startups and how they market to their specific demographics. I reached out to each of them in turn, requesting an interview.
The five I chose were:

Sidetracked Brewery in Morganton, NC

Pawsitivity Pet Spa in Asheville, NC

Catitude Cat Cafe in Columbia, SC

MovieComm (online)

Classical Conversations based in Southern Pines, NC


Why these five? You ask.


My sister owns Pawsitivity, one of the most high-end pet spas out there, so marketing well is important. I knew I would gain a lot of information here.

My brother owns Sidetracked, and their brewery has a completely different community approach from any other I’ve seen, so they have to market uniquely. He had good tips on marketing that I wouldn’t find anywhere else.

Catitude Cat Cafe is local, right in the downtown area of the city I live in. I wanted something close to home, but still a unique startup with a unique brand, and I found that in Catitude.

MovieComm is online, and I spoke to Scott DiGiamarino, the founder and CEO, about his company a couple of months back. Scott is so energetic and personable, full of life and interesting things to say, I reached out to him again to ask about marketing, because I knew it would a good interview.

Classical Conversations has several personal touches for me. I was homeschooled, but not in a classical way, so I’m fascinated by CC. My younger brother is in it, and my mother is a tutor for it. Sarah Iddings, the head of social media marketing, went through Praxis, the same program I am in now. All of these little connections led me to reach out to Sarah for an interview.

All five are vastly different companies with different goals. What I found out from each of them in marketing was inspiring, challenging, and interesting.


The Challenges I Ran Into

Interviewing challenges: The six different people I interviewed (I interviewed one for each startup except Catitude, where I interviewed two) had vastly different personalities. Some were easy to get to talk; I only had to ask the questions and they would go on a roll. Some were quieter, or more nervous; I had to probe, ask lots of questions, and give plenty of encouraging comments to get them to open up. Interviewing is a challenge. I included an introduction to interviewing in my eBook since it was such a big part of writing it. 

Editing challenges: I will be the first to admit I’m not the best editor. I can write for pages and pages, but when it comes time to come back and rework those pages, I can drag my feet. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without my editor, Rebekah Olson. The eBook would not be nearly as lovely a read without her input. 

Formatting/publishing challenges: I published the eBook last week, and went to preview it today. Guess what I found? A couple of editing notes leftover on the last page! I freaked out, went and reformatted the whole thing, and obsessively breezed through it to make sure I hadn’t made any other simple mistakes like that. Those mistakes have now been fixed, and the updated version is now published. The formatting has been a bit wonky-jawed as well, and I’ll be working on that. 

Facebook challenges: I kept up a Facebook page throughout this whole month, where I posted twice a day. I spent a couple of hours a day researching marketing tips and quotes. I had to think about the best way to phrase my tips, and how to tie in the quotes with what my page is about. I made a point oftaking a creative approachwhenever I could. I created a graphic for almost every post, to make it more interesting and to bring people’s attention to it. I got daily engagement with almost every single post, and reached between 50-100 people every week, even though the page itself only got 22 likes. 


How I Overcame The Challenges

Interviewing: I researched every startup before going into the interview so I knew exactly what kind of questions I wanted to ask. I browsed all of their social media outlets and analyzed what kind of demographic they had, what posts they shared, and what level of engagement they gained. This made the interview process run smoother and quicker.
Editing: I transcribed every interview, word for word, and reformatted them to become more interesting without changing what the interviewee said. I wasn’t afraid to ask for help in this area, because I needed it! I took the time to read over every page after they were written and aftermy editormade notes, to ensure I was getting my message across in the best way possible.
Formatting/publishing: Self-publishing is pretty straightforward, but to overcome the challenges of formatting requires a lot of patience. I had to rework the pages multiple times in the editing process and even afterward in the publishing process. I took the time and put in the effort needed consistently, because failure is not an option for me.


The Final Result?
A published Ebookanda Facebook page full of marketing content

What You Should Know (And What I Learned)

Interviewing and People Skills: Engage with whoever you’re talking to. When you’re interviewing, don’t forget the person you’re talking to is a human, with a unique communication style, a personal story, and personality. Interviewing is its own personal form of marketing. You have to understand the person you’re speaking to, and know-how to engage with them properly. Interviewing is a skill I gained from this experience and one I encourage you to develop.
Editing and Formatting: I can’t emphasize the importance of editing enough! Knowing proper grammar, spelling, and having good formatting skills are important in any vocation, but especially marketing. Learning how to be concise in your speech is important. It’s the best way to keep people engaged.

Why This Helps You
This eBookthat I have written I believe to have invaluable tips on marketing. Read it, because I guarantee you will learn something, whether you’re interested in marketing or not. 
Writing and publishing any kind of creative work is an incredible learning process, and I believe you should invest in it.
Have a story idea in your mind? Write a book about it.
Want to understand other people? Research psychology and talk to people.
Interested in learning about marketing? Interview some startups about it.  
Want to learn some design? Use Canva to make a book cover.

Whatever you do, be creative. You learn from being creative, and you gain skills when you think about the world around you. Don’t be a passive learner. If you’re curious about something, go out there and learn it. 

What’s Next?
For the month of January, I will be completing a daily blogging challenge. You will see posts from me on here every day on a variety of topics. I want to be creative, so you will see a lot of personal flair in these posts, and my personality will definitely shine through. Stick around, because it’s bound to get interesting. 

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