How would you like to turn your love for design and teaching into a business? This case study reveals how Pamela Wilson built her digital business from her design skills.
When great design meets marketing, anything is possible.
And Pamela Wilson is one digital entrepreneur who makes the seemingly impossible look so simple. I’m not just saying this because she’s good at what she does, but also because of her really insightful posts on Copyblogger.
Pamela Wilson is an award-winning graphic designer and marketing consultant who has helped small businesses and large organizations create “big brands” since 1987. That amount of professional experience isn’t something to laugh at.
With her great background in design and marketing, and her consistent writing habit, Pamela has been able to build an online authority that has led to several opportunities, including joining the excellent team behind Rainmaker Digital.
Start your journey with a mentor
Pamela wasn’t always an authority in the digital space. Like everyone else, she gathered some courage and embarked on a journey she wasn’t sure of. Although she already used her skills in the corporate world, blogging was worth a shot.
As she stated in this interview on The Writer Files,
My history is that I was the person who made writers’ words look great. I was working primarily as a designer, but also as a marketing consultant. In that work, part of what I did was people would give me Microsoft Word documents that had very little formatting in them. It was just basically the words on a page. What I would do is make those documents look fantastic, make people want to read them.”
With her expertise in helping clients create recognizable brands, she felt the urge to share her knowledge. By default, her first option was to write a book. But here’s where it gets interesting.
She didn’t jump into the pool blindfolded. Unfortunately, a lot of us do this. Without searching out people we can learn from, we get started on our ‘thing’ and believe it’ll make a million dollars in 24 hours.
Pamela found a proven resource she could learn from. And that paved the path she now treads. As she further stated,
Right around that time I found Copyblogger. I don’t know where I had been hiding online. I had not found Copyblogger up until that time, and around that time, I did. Just a few weeks after I found Copyblogger, they launched Teaching Sells. I joined Teaching Sells because I thought, “Maybe this is a way to share my information by teaching it online instead of trying to write a book.
What happened as a result of taking Teaching Sells is, I put together a blog, Big Brand System, and I started writing for it consistently in January of 2010. Really, that was when I started writing. It’s only been a little over five years.”
Don’t go it alone. Learn.
“Speak to one person” – Pamela Wilson
As a designer, Pamela already knew the difference between design that just looked good and design that got results. And according to this post, her advice is quite simple,
Keep design elements to a minimum. Less is more: always go for readability.”
However, great design is only a part of the puzzle. You also need to know who your website is for. Who are you trying to reach? Are you looking to build an audience of beginners in your niche who don’t know how to get started, or business owners who need advanced tactics that will help them scale their businesses to 8 figures?
As Pamela further advised,
The first question I ask people when we talk about a new project is, “Who are you trying to reach?” It’s shocking how many businesses have put hours of thought into their design without ever considering the most basic of all marketing questions: “Who am I selling to?”
If you’re not clear on who you want to appeal to, the most gorgeous website design in the world won’t help you make sales. “
So who did Pamela target? Who was her one customer when she got started?
In this interview by Amanda Hoffman, Pamela was specific enough to write for those who were just getting started and wanted to build great brands, but didn’t know how.
I knew going into my blog that I wanted to target business owners who had access to all these tools they could use to brand their businesses, but didn’t know what to do with them. And I wanted to target people in the early days of their business to help them get set up right from the beginning, and position themselves for growth.”
Sometimes, we believe that the digital terrain is only for the experts – those who know how to do it. But that perception is greatly flawed.
I’ve made several mistakes, and I still make mistakes. But the good thing is with blogging, you still have the opportunity to correct them. Building a digital business from your talents requires that you learn a new skill, which in this case is, “marketing”.
As Pamela stated in this post:
Here’s the thing: if you want to master a new skill, you have to start somewhere. As uncomfortable as it is, you have to submit yourself to looking like a fool while you master the tool.”
Promote your work consistently
The word “promotion” makes me cringe sometimes. And that’s because I’ve made several mistakes trying to get this promotion thing right. At the early stages, it can be really difficult and confusing.
But it gets easier when you realize that promotion isn’t about yelling or intruding people’s personal space. It’s really about exchanging value.
One of the best ways to exchange value online is through content. As was stated in this interview on Big Brand System, Pamela uses content marketing as her primary marketing model to connect with people, build trust, and build authority.
But the truth is using content (blog posts, video, podcasts, etc.) isn’t easy. You probably need to take a daily dose of coffee to pull it off.
According to her Copyblogger post on content creation, Pamela didn’t find it easy either…
A few years ago, I started creating content for my brand-new site. It wasn’t easy — I didn’t consider myself a writer, so cranking out blog posts on a consistent schedule was daunting at first.
But over the years I’ve become more comfortable with content creation, and I’ve even added to my writing workload. I now write a weekly newsletter, and I write guest posts regularly for some pretty big sites…”
To drive traffic to her site, Pamela’s primary model was guest posting. As was stated in her interview:
Knowing that writing guest posts was a great way to expand her audience, she courageously sent a guest post to Copyblogger in March 2010, which they published. The post received an overwhelming response from readers and visits to her blog shot up exponentially.”
Create products, sell services and embrace opportunities
A recurring statement I’ve made here is that you really can’t earn from your talents until you have something to sell. As someone who has been helping businesses since 1987, Pamela has been able to diversify her income so she earns from both products and services.
She has a whole product store of marketing guides, design guides, branding tools, and ebook tools for the average business owner who has a limited budget but wants to boost his or her marketing skills.
Asides that, she also offers four coaching packages on Big Brand System and the purpose is to help struggling business owners build rewarding businesses.
As a result of her consistency with contributing regular content to the Copyblogger blog, Pamela was able to build a great relationship with the team. She is now the VP of Educational Content at Rainmaker Digital where she tells stories that educate people on how to build a remarkable online presence.
A few pointers from Pamela’s story
- Learning how to promote your skills online is a skill you can learn. But to learn it, you need to be consistent.
- Don’t neglect strategy. Your beautiful website is useless if you don’t know the needs of your target customer.
- Focus on quality, and you’ll eventually become a mentor to others…after a lot of morning coffee.
Take the first step
Do you also have design skills? And how does earning from it sound to you?
From Pamela’s story, she grew her business by creating content and directing them back to her website. She did all this with a mindset to help people. From there, everything else took off.
Like Pamela, you too can take your love for design to the next level. All you need is to know how to use the right tools to get started.
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