Emma is a graphic designer and owner at HOLA! and a few years she made a decision that completely changed her career.
After years of relying on web developers to service her clients, she followed the advice of a fellow designer and set out to build websites for clients herself.
Creating websites is something she now loves doing because it blends perfectly her love for design and tech—her inner artist and inner geek!
Emma has a passion for creating beautiful, functional WordPress websites that help take businesses to the next level. And, she’s on a mission to help other graphic designers learn the skills to become beautiful website creators and build the business of their dreams in the process.
Part of that mission is a Facebook group for graphic designers wanting to follow Emma’s path and build WordPress websites. The Facebook group is an online community that helps support people on that path and she offers her courses through the group.
The group has helped grow her business by feeding members into a previously non-existent revenue stream.
As part of the service, I have had this episode transcribed. Transcribing, proofing, and editing a podcast episode is A LOT of work. That’s why I use a service called REV who provide professional freelance transcriptionists who are vetted for quality. While they offer a 99% accuracy guarantee, I do not proof-read their work extensively. Instead, I simply copy and paste below and, as such, please note that this is not be a verbatim transcript of the episode and I have trimmed things like the intro, close, and mid-show ad.
Kate: The Facebook group that I have is targeted to graphic designers who want to learn more about building websites and the purpose really is to obviously attract them but also build connection and trust with them, until they’re ready to hopefully invest in one of my courses or mentoring.
Daniel: How long have you been running the group and what do the member numbers look like now?
Kate: I’ve been running this group for a little bit over a year and at the moment, I looked this up this morning I’ve currently got 545 members.
Daniel: From what period?
Kate: A little over a year ago. I’d say that 14 months.
Daniel: Excellent, and how do you attract those people to the group? What do you do to promote that Facebook group and get your target audience to join it?
Kate: I pretty much put it everywhere, as much as I can. Really, a big target for me is to sort of funnel them into the Facebook group. So I put it on my website and not just on my website, I make it quite a big focus.
Kate: I have it right at the top in my main menu, to join my group. I have it sort of as a bit of a call to action in the bottom of a lot of blog posts, and I also put it on my email signature, or my opts, like my opt in downloads, PDF downloads people get. At the end of that it’s like, “Hey, go join my Facebook group.” It’s kind of everywhere.
Kate: Often when I’m not in sort of launch mode, or promotional mode, it’s usually in the banner of my Facebook page to say go join my group. So I just pretty much just put it out there, put it everywhere.
Daniel: So you share lots of really helpful stuff in your group. It’s not just about promoting the course, it’s not just calls to action, which are focused on you getting something out of the post. So when you do post something that is actually about enrollments being open in your course, I think a lot of people would love to know, how does that go down? Because we don’t want to be part of groups that are just continually selling to us. We join groups because they add value, but sooner or later, we do have them for a business purpose and we should be asking people to take action and potentially sign up for courses, or buy our products, or services. How are those types of posts received in your group?
Kate: I really find that … I’m the same really and I really don’t like selling. I don’t like being sold to, but I do like buying from people that I really trust. So that’s really how I’ve tried to set up my group and that’s what I think Facebook groups are really good for.
Kate: So really, I share a lot of valuable content all the time and I only share promotional posts when I’m in launch mode, and they are generally really well received because by then like I’ve built up authority with people, and trust with people. So it goes down pretty well.
Kate: I really try not to put the hard sell on people at all. It’s just more like, “It’s now open for enrollment,” or whatever my sort of sales pitch is at the time. But they tend to go down really well, but I think it’s really important to make sure that you’re only selling a small percentage of the time, and just being helpful the rest of the time.
Daniel: People like me and other marketing consultants, we tell lots of businesses that we should set really smart goals, and objectives, and then we should monitor those and we should set KPIs and all that sort of stuff. I’m guessing that that’s not something you do with this group considering you had to look up the number of people in it this morning?
Kate: Yeah, no, I don’t. I guess it’s one of those things that a lot of businesses owners think I really should be doing that, but it just, it really bores me. It’s not something I want to spend my day doing. But like I sort of track it mentally, I do sort of have a spreadsheet where I do track like my numbers and stuff, for my Facebook group, and my email list, and all that, like every week or every fortnight, I sort of track it to see how it’s growing over the time.
Kate: But I don’t really set KPIs. I kind of just know it’s working when I sort of make a sale, like when I sell my e-course, I can see if any of those people were in my Facebook group, when they actually joined my Facebook group, or joined my list. I can sort of track it from there. I’m only selling 10 to 20 courses each time. So it’s not like I have to go through a hundred different people and try and track it down.
Daniel: I mentioned before about adding value to groups. That’s why we join Facebook groups or any other online group, or community. And Facebook groups are much more about communities, and engaging to help each other. That’s part of your job as the owner of the group to help drive that, help add value to that group, and help people. But have you seen the group offering each other? So other members helping each other with advice and really growing a community rather than just relying on you leading it?
Kate: Yeah, absolutely. That’s one of the things that I’ve noticed, probably in the last six months. So obviously to begin with it’s mainly me, and it’s sort of the, you have to put that effort in to build up traction. But it’s so good now to see other members jumping on and helping out, and it’s been mainly nice because I really try to keep my weekends sacred. I don’t like to go on there at weekends. I’ll act to just try not to do any work.
Kate: So often if someone posts something on a Friday night, I’m not going to look at it until Monday. But by that time a lot of people have already jumped on and answered them, and offered help and stuff. So it’s really awesome to see, and I really want to get it to a point where I know … I have a business coach who has a Facebook group of about 2000 people and she said it just runs itself now, she doesn’t really have to do much because there’s so many members in there helping each other out. So that’s my goal, to get to that point.
Speaker 3: Attention, attention. Marketing nugget.
Daniel: Online communities can be very powerful, but if you’ve ever run one, you’ll notice that only a small number of people actually interact. That’s just nature of digital groups. On average, only 1% of your group members will be highly active in creating content, and interacting heavily with it, and 9% will just have ad hoc activity levels. That leaves 90% of people who simply aren’t interacting at all.
Daniel: Now I’ve chosen my words very carefully there. If you notice, I didn’t say engage, I used the word interact because there is a difference. Someone who reads your content, or listens, or watches your content is still engaging but they may not interact at a level where it’s visible and contribute with comments or answers, et cetera. So it can make you feel like you aren’t doing a good job with the group because around about 90% of those people aren’t interacting heavily with your content.
Daniel: The interaction levels often don’t matter that much because those 90% are still getting huge benefit from consuming the content and being part of the group, and reading all the other comments, and answers, and content that other people are creating. So just because they don’t interact they are still engaging and that is still powerful for your business.
Daniel: Do you put rules and things like that in place about what people can post? Because it would occur to me that as a group grows bigger and bigger, and the admin steps back and it becomes a little bit more self sustaining, that there might be people that get into the group and promote their own products and services, without really respecting what the group is about.
Kate: I do have some rules at the beginning, I guess all the typical ones, like be respectful, and no discrimination, and all that kind of stuff. I think I have something about like not promoting and that kind of thing. Obviously, I’ll have to double check because I have seen a rule once in someone’s group, which I thought was really good is that, obviously you can promote your services if it’s relevant to the post, and you are actually being helpful by doing that. But not just like creating a post saying, “Come buy my stuff.” I definitely sort of have those things in place, but I also am very picky about who I let into the group too. So I have questions that they have to answer to get into the group.
Kate: I can also see a lot of the information on their profile, if they are in fact a graphic designer, or if they’re like a PHP web developer from India, who’s probably just going to try and sell their service to them. Or if they try and sign up as a business page. So I don’t typically let business pages in it unless they are like a graphic designers business page, or something like that.
Kate: So I would probably not accept about maybe 15 to 20% of the people that apply. I really am pretty cautious with filtering out people that might be just there to sell their services. But there are some people that, they’re not going to be my target market. They might be web developers, or something. But if they look like they’re really helpful and they’re planning to offer help, then I’ll let them in because it’s great for the people in my group, so it’s great for me.
Daniel: So the group’s been for about 14 months. It’s starting to get to a point where the community is really coming on board, and engaging, and helping each other. You’ve got visions to it into something that’s much more self-sustainable. At the moment it’s successful, and it’s grown to that. But have you made any missteps or mistakes up to this point yet?
Kate: I have just by accepting some people into the group that I shouldn’t have. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with those people, but they just don’t necessarily fit my group. Like they might not be a lover of WordPress, which is the platform I use, and I teach my designers to use. So I have accepted some web developers who, although they’re great web developers, they’re trying to, when any sort of questions come up, they would be trying to sort of convince my potential students that WordPress isn’t the right platform to use. So it’s not really what I want.
Kate: My whole business and my vision is all very WordPress focused. So, I have some people in there that want to use Squarespace and stuff, which is fine, but when developers are trying to persuade designers that they shouldn’t be developing websites, and they need to use a hardcore developer, then it’s really conflicting with what I sort of stand for. So yeah, so it’s just accepting the wrong people into the group, but I honestly haven’t kicked anyone out. They just don’t get much of a response, and then they’re just not active anymore it seems like.
Daniel: Now we know you’re not much of a goal setter, and setting KPIs, and as long as it feels like it’s working, you’re getting enough enrollment that keeps you happy. But where do you think this will grow? Do you have a goal in your head that you think, “Geez, that’d be a pretty cool number to get to with this group?”
Kate: Honestly, I’m like so stoked with having over 500 members, I was like doing a little happy dance when I hit 200, like it was a big milestone for me. So I’m just happy to see it constantly grow. I guess that’s the main thing, and really, I think my business coach has about 2000 members in her group or something like that. So once I start beating her, I’ll be really happy. But the main thing is really just keep growing. If I hit 2000 and then it just putters, then I’m probably not going to be happy. I just want to see it keep growing really.
Daniel: Do you think having a Facebook business group like this helps position you as an authority amongst your target market?
Kate: Absolutely, yes. 100%. it’s something that really, it builds that authority, and it builds trust with your potential customer clients. It’s interesting to see how all of a sudden people ca start treating me a bit like a celebrity at times, and it’s like, I’m literally working from my home office. It’s nothing fancy, but when you sort of tagged in posts, and people are just like thankful, and appreciative, and it’s a bit odd sometimes, but it’s awesome. It’s good to help people and it’s perfect at building that authority with your audience.
Daniel: That’s outstanding and for those listening who are thinking, “Okay, maybe a Facebook group would help my business,” what’s some advice that you’d like to share with them to maybe push them along in the right direction?
Kate: There are a few tips actually that I have that definitely helped me. The first one was setting some good entry questions, so that you can ensure you’re letting in the right type of people. So obviously like I said, I’ve let in the wrong type of people in the past. So I have amended my questions, over that time to make sure that I’m getting the right people. I think that’s really important. So just making sure you’d sort of narrowing it down and seeing what people actually wanting from the group, and if people and answering these questions, you probably don’t want to let them in. So that’s one tip that’s really helped.
Kate: My questions that I have for example, are like, “What is your current profession? And what are you hyping to be?” Because really that answer should be that they’re a graphic designer or they want to be a web designer, or something like that. And if it’s not that, then they’re probably not a good fit for my group. Not all the time. They’re all, some other professions that might help. But that’s one question that narrows it down for me. Then also what inspired them to join, or what would they like to learn? That’s sort of like a good question just to see what they actually want from the group, or if they just going to be trying to promote themselves.
Kate: I also recently added a question asking if I wanted to join my email list, and this has been a massive tool for joining my list, and I wish I had done it at the beginning. I pretty much am able to gather an email address from probably about 50% of the people, if not more, that join. So that’s been a really big one for building my list. So I’d highly recommend that.
Speaker 3: Attention, attention. Marketing nugget.
Daniel: I love this comment from Emma. Anyone who has heard me talk a few times will know that I harp on about the importance of building your own audience that you can directly contact, and that means building a database. Social media channels and mass advertising, you are really only ever renting that audience’s attention for a little while. You can’t contact them directly.
Daniel: The thing about databases is that people are willingly giving you their details so that you can contact them. They are explicitly giving you permission. Your job is to treat that with the utmost respect and add value consistently, and let the sales messages take a back seat. To do that you need to figure out what you are going to offer at the start. That is worth people handing over their email for. It might be a free ebook, or a webinar, or whatever, but there is a value exchange happening.
Kate: Also have a schedule, something that works for you, and schedule it in advance, even if you’re not scheduling your post to go out in advance, but just having it there so you know what you’re going to post each day can be really helpful, and I try to sort of schedule mine about every fortnight, and do it for the following fortnight. It just saves a lot of time, and having sort of like a schedule of what you’re going to post on particular days, like I have sort of a … I’ll always do my Facebook lives on a Friday, I’ll always share a blog post on a Thursday. I’ll have certain days that I’ll do certain things, and it just makes it easier for you to come up with content rather than just like trying to think of things all the time.
Kate: Lastly, doing Facebook lives. That something that really helped build engagement with my audience. Obviously you being live and being on video builds a lot of trust with people, but also your group members get a notification, and the notification saying that you’re live, so you get a lot more engagement. Like Facebook puts you out there more if you’re doing Facebook live. It can be nerve wracking to begin with, but it’s good when it’s just in your group because then you know it’s just your group kind of thing and it’s not the whole Facebook world.
Daniel: Emma fantastic chat.
Kate: If people want to find out more about your business, more about you, more about the course, the Facebook group, all that sort of stuff. What can they do? They can just head to my website emmakate.co, and there’s a link to my Facebook group and everything there.
Daniel: Emma Kate, web design mentor at emmakate.co. Thanks for coming on the show and sharing your business’ marketing experiences.
Kate: Thanks so much for having me.