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Are One-on-One Connections the Key to Jumpstarting Your Online Business?
6th October 2016 • The Digital Entrepreneur • Rainmaker Digital LLC
00:00:00 00:33:54

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This week’s guest on The Digital Entrepreneur is focused. Her focus is on creating a one-on-one relationship with every one of her customers. How? She’s doing so by utilizing Twitter to personally connect with her target customers. And those connections have driven the growth of her online business.

In this 32-minute episode, Kayla Hollatz and I discuss:

  • Her journey to digital entrepreneurship, which started in college
  • How her background in public relations has helped her grow her online business
  • Her advice on how you can utilize Twitter chats to help reach your audience
  • Why Kayla’s “milestone moment” inspired her to grow her online community
  • Why it’s imperative to extend an olive branch to find out exactly what your customers really want
  • The tools (both technology and non-technology) that she finds contributes most to her success as a digital entrepreneur
  • Why one-on-one connections are crucial during the early stages of launching your online business

And much more.

Plus, Kayla answers my patented rapid-fire questions at the end of the episode, which unveiled who she’d choose to have a 30-minute Skype call with if give the chance. Who is it? You’ll have to listen to find out.

Don’t miss it.

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The Show Notes

The Transcript

Are One-on-One Connections the Key to Jump-Starting Your Online Business?

Jerod Morris: Hey, Jerod Morris here. If you know anything about Rainmaker Digital and Copyblogger, you may know that we produce incredible live events. Some would say that we produce incredible lives event as an excuse to throw great parties, but that’s another story. We’ve got another one coming up this October in Denver. It’s called Digital Commerce Summit, and it is entirely focused on giving you the smartest ways to create and sell digital products and services. You can find out more at Rainmaker.FM/Summit.

We’ll be talking about Digital Commerce Summit in more detail as it gets closer. For now, I’d like to let a few attendees from our past events speak for us.

Attendee 1: For me, it’s just hearing from the experts. This is my first industry event. It’s awesome to learn new stuff and also get confirmation that we’re not doing it completely wrong where I work.

Attendee 2: The best part of the conference for me is being able to mingle with people and realize that you have connections with everyone here. It feels like LinkedIn Live. I also love the parties after each day, being able to talk to the speakers, talk to other people who are here for the first time, people who have been here before.

Attendee 3: I think the best part of the conference for me is understanding how I can service my customers a little more easily. Seeing all the different facets and components of various enterprises that helps me pick the best tools.

Jerod Morris: Hey, we agree. One of the biggest reasons we host a conference every year is so that we can learn how to service our customers, people like you, more easily. Here are just a few more words from folks who have come to our past live events.

Attendee 4: It’s really fun. I think it’s a great mix of beginner information and advanced information. I’m really learning a lot and having a lot of fun.

Attendee 5: The conference is great, especially because it’s a single-track conference, where you don’t get distracted by, Which sessions should I go to? and, Am I missing something?

Attendee 6: The training and everything, the speakers have been awesome. I think the coolest aspect for me has been connecting with both people who are putting it on and then other attendees.

Jerod Morris: That’s it for now. There’s a lot more to come on Digital Commerce Summit, and I really hope to see you there in October. Again, to get all the details and the very best deal on tickets, head over to Rainmaker.FM/summit.

Welcome back to The Digital Entrepreneur, the show where digital entrepreneurs share their stories and the lessons they’ve learned so that we can all build better digital businesses. I’m your host Jerod Morris, the VP of marketing for Rainmaker Digital. And this is episode No. 28.

On this week’s episode, I am joined by someone who is passionate about community building, branding, collaboration, and connection. She is a community and brand coach who can assist people from launchpad to take off. She believes that her middle name should be adventure. Oh, and she also believes in Oxford commas and exclamation points too. She is a short-form poet and haiku enthusiast, and she recently self-published her first poetry collection called Brave Little Bones just last year.

She actually got her start by hosting the first-ever Twitter chat for creative bloggers and business owners at #CreateLounge. She is now bringing her extensive background and online community building to help others build a community that supports their brand vision. She is Kayla Hollatz, and she is a digital entrepreneur.

Real quick, before I bring you my discussion with Kayla, I want to let you know a little bit about the Rainmaker Platform. Obviously the Rainmaker Platform powers The Digital Entrepreneur. It powers all of our shows at Rainmaker.FM. It is the complete solution for digital marketing and sales. What Rainmaker does is it empowers you to build your audience with articles, audio, and video. It empowers you to grow your email list faster. To earn more with marketing automation. To craft killer landing pages, start profitable membership programs, sell online courses and digital products, and much more.

It does it all — all in one integrated, simple platform. There is virtually nothing that you cannot do with Rainmaker. Even better, you never waste valuable time searching for plug-ins, worrying about themes, or trying to understand complicated code. Forget about hosting maintenance and security updates — Rainmaker covers all of that for you, so that you can focus on your business and less on your technology. To take the tour, to check it out, to see everything that Rainmaker has to offer, go to You can do a 14-day free trial. So you can really get in, kick the tires, see what Rainmaker is all about. Try it out for yourself.

All righty, let’s go. Let’s talk with Kayla. This is a great discussion. I think you will really enjoy it. A lot of energy, a lot of insight. She gives two really interesting answers to the questions I ask about the one word that she would use to describe her business now and a year from now. I haven’t heard these words before. I think you’ll find them interesting. All righty, here is my interview with digital entrepreneur Kayla Hollatz.

Ms. Hollatz, welcome to The Digital Entrepreneur.

Kayla Hollatz: Thank you so much for having me, Jerod. I have been following along with Rainmaker and Copyblogger for so many years now. It is so amazing to be on the podcast today. Thanks so much for having me.

Jerod Morris: Oh, for sure. It’s our pleasure. You and I have interacted a lot on Twitter. That’s one of the things I love about hosting different podcasts, is a lot of times there will be people I have interacted on social media, and then eventually we have reason to jump on a podcast together and actually talk. It’s a great way to take those relationships from social media to the next step. Not like we’re meeting in person, but at least our voices are together.

Kayla Hollatz: Absolutely, yeah. It almost comes full circle in that way.

Jerod Morris: Yes, yes it does. All right, so let’s jump in. Are you ready to answer some questions about digital entrepreneurship?

Kayla Hollatz: Oh, I am so ready. Let’s go.

Jerod Morris: Excellent. Okay, so let’s start from the top. Kayla, I’ve always believed that the number-one benefit of digital entrepreneurship is freedom. Most people agree — the freedom to choose your projects, the freedom to chart the course, and ultimately the freedom to change your life and your family’s life for the better. Besides freedom, what benefit of digital entrepreneurship do you appreciate the most?

What Kayla Considers the No. 1 Benefit of Digital Entrepreneurship

Kayla Hollatz: I think the freedom definitely is huge, like you said. I think a lot of it is being able to utilize my skills in a way where it’s going to transfer over not only to my business, but also to all of the other passion projects that I actually work on outside of my business too.

I know once I had a day job, it was difficult for me to be able to find that time in order to dedicate it to all the different projects that I had. Now that I have dove into digital entrepreneurship, it allows me to have that more flexible schedule, which I’m sure goes along with freedom. Yeah, that flexibility and being able to choose your own path is huge.

Jerod Morris: Yeah, it’s funny. Almost everybody’s answers to that question — it’s some subset of freedom. You’re so right. For me personally, obviously I do what I do for Rainmaker Digital, and hosting the show is one of those things. Then the side projects, and being able to do a show like I do with The Assembly Call — that is obviously not something I do for work, but takes what I do for work. And then I can take that to the next level and develop it, and even use it as case studies. It’s a really nice benefit. That’s a good one.

Kayla Hollatz: Yeah. I really love what you said about that too. Because I was always that kid who grew up, and everybody was telling me that I had to pick one thing that I was going to be forever. And I just couldn’t do it. Even into college, I had a hard time with that. I transferred universities, I changed my major.

I think a lot of people can also relate to that, because it is hard sometimes when we hear that we have to choose one thing. Yeah, I love being able to feel like I can be multi-passionate and have multifaceted brands and still be successful in the digital entrepreneurship space.

Kayla s Journey to Digital Entrepreneurship, Which Started in College

Jerod Morris: Yeah. Take me back to before you became a digital entrepreneur. What were you doing, and what was missing that lead you to want to make a change?

Kayla Hollatz: Sure. I really started my blogging journey back when I was a junior in college. When I graduated from college, I got a PR agency job right away here in the cities in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I did like the work that I was doing there. I felt like the people who I wanted to talk to and get out of bed in the morning for were those creative bloggers and entrepreneurs.

I had been connecting with them for quite a while through my blog and also through a Twitter chat that I run, which is #CreateLounge. Really after doing a lot of that and seeing that there’s so much potential there, and starting to test out a few different monetization streams, I saw that this would be my chance to try and take the leap from that day job and run the business that I had always wanted to run back when I was in college. I went for it. It’s been incredible ever since.

Jerod Morris: How long ago was that?

Kayla Hollatz: That was in April of this year. It has been about four or five months now.

Jerod Morris: Okay, you’re fresh into this?

Kayla Hollatz: Yeah. I’m a newbie, but I’m loving it.

How Kayla s Background in Public Relations Has Helped Her Grow Her Online Business

Jerod Morris: Okay, you talked about the hashtag, the Twitter chat. Can you find that a little bit, how you got going with that, and maybe some of the benefits that you’ve seen from it?

Kayla Hollatz: Yeah, absolutely. My background is really in public relations. That’s what I went to school for and got my degree in. When I was in college, I wanted to try and put myself out there and be in front of different agencies and other companies that were in town. I would participate in quite a few different Twitter chats. I did that for about a year and a half before I decided to start my own.

The huge reason why I decided to start my own was because I saw that there was this huge gap in the creative blogging and entrepreneurship industry at the time. Nobody was really talking to a lot of the bloggers that I was talking to in that specific kind of platform. I thought, Hey, why not try and host a Twitter chat? It was the month after I graduated that I launched it. I’ve been running it now for over a year and a half. It’s been crazy to see the growth that’s happened because of it.

Jerod Morris: Basically the way a Twitter chat works is you pick a hashtag, and then there’s a specific time when you’re going to talk about this topic. Then you have maybe some questions set up at the beginning that leads the conversation. Then people from all over chime in on that hashtag, right?

Kayla Hollatz: Yeah, you’ve got it.

Kayla s Advice on How You Can Utilize Twitter Chats to Help Reach Your Audience

Jerod Morris: Of our listeners, who do you think would benefit from doing something like that? Someone’s trying to get a conversation going with their audience — who might benefit from a Twitter chat?

Kayla Hollatz: I see that Twitter chats, again, are a great space for people that are in the blogging space specifically. The entrepreneur space as well. Also, I see a lot of freelancers popping up into chats as well. I think why that is, and especially for a lot of us who are starting businesses on our own and in the solopreneur space — it can be a little bit lonely and even isolating at times.

I think being able to gather around other people who are like you, even if you can’t necessarily gather in the same physical space — being able to be together live on a platform like Twitter, and having those conversations and having a dedicated space every week in order to do so, is really powerful. Not only for me, but I see it a lot for the participants as well.

How Kayla’s “Milestone Moment” Inspired Her to Grow Her Online Community

Jerod Morris: Tell me about a milestone or moment in your career as a digital entrepreneur. And I know it hasn’t been a long one so far. Tell me about a milestone or moment that you have been the most proud of.

Kayla Hollatz: Honestly, I would say my milestone moment was when I saw that the #CreateLounge Twitter chat that I had grown for quite a few months, when I started to get so much feedback from participants saying: We want more. We want more of this community. We want it to reach other sorts of different platforms.

That’s when I started to have some fun thinking about all of the different ways that I could grow this online community. Which would make sense for my business, but would also make sense for the community that had been so dedicated to what we were doing.

I decided that I wanted to bring it to a platform like a podcast, which has been so fun to run. I have different people from the community that I interview, of course. It’s been really cool to be able to allow people to have a platform to tell their story in more than just a 140 characters. I’m sure all of us on Twitter know that it’s a little bit difficult to shorten what we want to say in that little of a space. It s been really cool to have different evolutions, I guess, of your community and your brand. And being able to look back and see that all of those little wins make up the huge wins all in the process.

Jerod Morris: Your podcast, most of the guests have come from that Twitter chat?

Kayla Hollatz: Oh, absolutely.

Jerod Morris: That’s interesting. I just recorded a new episode of The Showrunner with Jonny Nastor yesterday. Our topic was how to identify guests for your podcast. This one would have been a great way to add: Start a Twitter chat, get conversations going, and find people there. There we go. Need to record an addendum to that episode.

Okay, on the flipside from that question, you told us what your proudest moment was. Tell me about the most humbling moment that you’ve had so far as a digital entrepreneur, and more importantly what you’ve learned from it.

Why It’s Imperative to Extend an Olive Branch to Find Out Exactly What Your Customers Really Want

Kayla Hollatz: That’s a really good question. I would say the first one that comes to mind is when I was first thinking about monetizing, and at that point I was thinking about doing an ebook, since writing is my first love. When I was thinking an ebook topic, I was thinking about maybe doing something about rebranding, since I had been known for rebranding quite a bit in my early stages, until I fell into this