PP 116: Christina Jones, Queen Bee at Black Type Digital
Christina and I cover a wide berth of small business topics, including shady email marketing tactics, productivity tips, and the logistics of moving your business internationally… All while my cat was having kittens in the next room!
KIM: Welcome back to another episode of Positive Productivity. I am so happy that you are here with us today, and I’m also thrilled to have Christina Jones, founder of Black Type group, here with us today.
Christina, thank you, not only for being on the Positive Productivity Podcast but coming back for the second time because, as you and I both know, tech glitches happen.
CHRISTINA: I know it’s ironic isn’t it, that both of us, in our asset of line of work should be, kinda tech, as our daily bread and butter but it even happens the pros guys. So don’t feel bad if you’re listening to this –
KIM: Oh my gosh
CHRISTINA: – and it happens to you.
KIM: I’m so happy that you brought that up, because I can’t even tell you how many emails, I’ve received this week. Oh, I’m sorry that link was broken, but you and I both being in digital marketing, I think we know that that technique is being used sometimes, because you don’t open up the email. And they wanna make sure that you did. But how many of those have you gotten this week already and we’re only on Tuesday?
CHRISTINA: I think there’s a few big launches on the go. And I think, I thinks that’s pretty like email three in the sequence. Opps. Like, that link is broken. So, whereas if you guys ever get one like that for me is because the link is broken, generally. Not, you know
KIM: Thank you. Okay, so you are not putting those into your client’s email sequences?
CHRISTINA: Not. Not deliberately. No. No.
KIM: Thank you. Again, not deliberately but things really do happen. And even the bigwigs, who don’t usually use those emails, I mean they really do happen but okay, now, that we’ve got enough onto a tangent. I would love to circle back around to you. Thank you again for being on the Positive Productivity Podcast. Would you mind sharing a little bit about your background and what you do in the Black Type Group with the listeners please.
CHRISTINA: I’m Christina Jones. I’m UK based, kind of, at the moment. And I run a digital marketing agency called Blacked Type Digital but I also have e-commerce businesses, and this is my 16th year in business. And during that time there’s been a variety of sort of bricks and mortar projects both with children’s publishing, your high street retail store. So, in my — absolute primary focus is digital marketing, but that comes with a lot of sort of real world experience. And everything from it, kind of very small local businesses. And when I say small, like, the retail store we had was in like this tiny little town up in North Wales, where I grew up. Right to working with clients across the world and some really really big projects.
So, kind of depth of experience. And that’s what makes me a little bit different? Say, perhaps some of the digital marketers out there? Is that this is kind of really practical aspect to it. And remembering the — what things that Facebook likes and tweets are great. You physically need some money in the bank at the end of the day. So, that’s my background. And the end of last year was absolutely horrific. I lost my mother completely unexpectedly. She was really really young. And it’s never great to lose a parent, but some in terms of bringing it back to kind of business. And having to kind of run your business, while you’re in the midst of all that, recording this right now, thirty three. She passed away at 60. A completely up to that point seemingly healthy, fit, active person, who really thought she had 20 plus years and had only just started, kind of, going into semi-retirement, doing the stuff she really wanted to do. So, this really put a big spin on me to refocus the business. Digital agency is very much about trading time for money cause the profit margins on that. Having your employees, in effect, charging more to clients than you pay them and the kind of difference is your profit margin. And I also want to be able to have a better quality of life. Now this doesn’t mean that I want to work from that whole kind of laptop lifestyle work on the beach, because I think a lot of that is just bullshit. It’s a great tool for internet marketers to float new things. But since we last spoke, I am moving my primary location from the moment, the southwest to the UK, and I’m gonna be living in southern Spain very, very shortly, which I’m incredibly excited about.
KIM: I love how you said that because as a mompreneur it’s not gonna happen, the laptop lifestyle. Okay, listeners, you can get on and you can dispute me about this because I know there are digital nomads who travel with RV’s or not even in RV’s with a truckful kids, but for me it just can’t happen. But that does not mean to say that I don’t want to improve my lifestyle and my working habits and everything. So, I sort of look at those posts and I’m – I just start to shake my head. I wonder who they’re really trying to target?
CHRISTINA: Yeah. I think a lot of it is frustrating because I also know that, that it will be good for business being there. Because I know that my Instagram will be much more healthy, much prettier, than it is in our – in here which is slightly rainy. So, it kind of, you know, it’s productivity podcast and it’s really looking at productivity like a lot of different way. So things that for me, some of the reasons behind doing it, is a little bit: “Why the hell not”. It is also because it’s kind of different in cost of living, its much lower in there than it is in the UK. So, it’s gonna be equivalent or rescuing myself like an instant 30% pay rise which is nice. It kinda like, lifestyle stuff for bit of a wake up call to pay more attention to my own house. So the fact, the apartment I’m moving to, there’s a swimming pool as part of the complex and stuff. And at the moment, where you need that bit of break, cause your head just feels like it’s gonna explode. I probably make a cup of coffee and have a bar of chocolate here in the UK being planted, just nip down in just 20 minutes. Quick kind of dip in the pool so, to that side of it, is also that the business has really grown. And I’m having to spend a lot more time traveling, which is wonderful because I love travel. And I was making Kim insanely jealous, so, if you’re listening to this and you’re not based in Europe, we have hit really, really cheap flights.
So, I was saying to her that I’m based in a city. I’m about 90 minutes west of London. And to get a train to London on Friday is costing me 200 pounds so that’s about $230 — $250 for a 90 minute return train journey. It’s actually cheaper for me to fly to Spain. So, I am gonna be commuting. And it sounds like a bit of a jet set lifestyle, but it’s just cheaper than getting on the train to somewhere that’s an hour away from me, here in the UK. And I’m also taking my horses with me which is the logistical challenge really. Moving the business is, I say it straightforward, off the back of three months of seemingly nonstop paperwork and stuff to make that happen. You know, the horses are coming with me. So, it’s kind of like, me and a macbook, is, would be nice but it’s in reality an e-commerce business has been moved into third party warehousing, these horses coming on the trip. It’s not like throw things into one bag and off we go.
KIM: How do you even do that? It’s not related to business at all, but I am curious, how do you move horses from one country to another?
CHRISTINA: They have their equine travel agents, and there’s these companies that do nothing but — the horses have become the global sport now. And so, the horses themselves, the top horses, their travel is insane. You know in terms of that, where there’ll be, you know. They’ll go from Monaco to, and then perhaps they’ll be in Miami Beach, and then they’ll fly down to Mexico City. So, the horses let this real jet set lifestyle, but when you’re doing, you know, like European stuff, they’re not flying. So, they go on really big like air conditioned, air suspension trucks. And it’s just travel agents that move horses around all over Europe. So, this is reasonably straightforward. They all have, we’re under for now, all this wonderful EU European regulation. So my horses have got passports, which sometimes surprises people. The logistics of taking the horses with me, than the business, I think because it’s just a lot less common. So, they’ve got passports, and then they get booked on. And while it’s very, very cheap for me to fly, the horses traveling for like the equivalent of a first class plane ticket to New York and back. So,
Kim: Oh my gosh
Christina: So and they’ll be going in a more comfort, with a lot more space than me. But, yeah, that’s the kind of priorities of a horse. While they’re there, it means that they’re going to a great place, a little bit like boarding school for horses or like summer camp. And so, it means that I’ll have far more freedom to travel. I was concerned about making the move because really about what my clients would think within the agency. Is that they used to: “It’s a UK business. There’s an office. It’s all very kind of conventional.”
You know, I’ve got some quite kind of traditional businesses that working with, even though, the digital side of things. So, I did kind of sound out with a couple, but I had a really, really good relationship with first. I said: “You know, if I did this and did this with the business what would you think and what do you think of the businesses might think?” And everyone said: “It should be really cool about it.” Everyone just said: “Please can we have our meetings out in Spain now.” And I: “Okay”. So, again with the cheap flights it’s such easier. And we’ve also got very expensive petrol in the UK compared to the U.S. So, probably it is cheaper to put people on a plane to Spain for meeting, than it is to try and get everyone in the central location here. Yes, so, really all change. And it’s been a really interesting experience, because that the e-commerce businesses has been running since 2001.
KIM: I know that the internet was around before I graduated high school in 1997. So that was back in the day of dial up AOL, over here. So, by 2001 I know, I was ordering things online. I know that Amazon was around by then but e-commerce was still relatively new.
CHRISTINA: Yeah, it was. And that’s how blows my mind because probably about going back 10 years ago, I had this crazy vision of exactly how I wanted to run my business. And I remember saying to people about it and at the time they’re saying RV. I wanted to say like the equivalent of an RV but with space for the horses behind so, big horse lorry. And suddenly trivial to run the business from anywhere and kind of take the horses on tour. And at that time it couldn’t really comprehend it because it was still on dial up Internet. And just in terms of like the logistics, the you know, the common side of the time, when it was originally built, every page was built by hand in Dreamweaver. And so you’re just having to FTP or pager up at the time. And so now that I — you got a Shopify app on your iPhone that you can do 95% of like the day to day. You can hand it over the iPhone pretty much, accountings, all the kind of components of business of it dropped so much in cost. But now that you’ve got all these amazing cloud software for accounting, for e-commerce, email marketing, just everything that you can get your hands on are very, very low cost, but it’s also totally portable. And it also meant that not only for my travels, because there’s also just been some changes in the structure, the business, and staff. Nothing negative, just as people have left for various reasons.
The team now is like a 100 % virtual, which is that — she’d been a real challenge for me, because I’m very used to having people like a meter away, but you can just kind of turn around and ask them things, or get feedback. And so it’s required me to be much more organized, and really get to grips with (inaudible) because that’s where all the — That’s the kind of like central hub of like everything in terms of task and kind of project management. And so it’s been a bit of a steep learning curve. So, as well as all this kind of disruption, in some ways and kind of personal life, businesses are growing really really quickly. It’s like a side effect of being really really miserable at the end of last year. All I did was work. There was no work-life balance because work was a gift, actually, at that time. Definitely, my family, though seems to be the coping strategy, its just actually bury yourself in work. And just kind of tackle things that, when it gives you things focus on every day. So, as a result of being really, really miserable for a number of months, after losing my mother, the businesses has exploded. And that itself, yet growing pains, is I think how I describe it to you earlier today which brings in a whole new set of challenges.
KIM: I have a couple of questions about all of that. One, what has moving your operations from being in an office to digitally, what has that done to your productivity? I know you said you’ve had to be more organized, but can you see that your productivity has increased or decreased as a result?
CHRISTINA: That’s a really good question. I did, like, a little experiment because one of the things that worried me is – how was life working from home gonna pan out? Because, I’m not one of those people who doesn’t ever work from home. But it’s like that mental break off. I’m sat here really recording this in the office and you, you know, you lock the door and you drive home and it’s nice. You know, sending like a ten minute commute, but it’s that little bit of distance between the two. And if you choose to work at home, which of course, I’m messing around on my laptop and stuff, so. I did a few like test runs which was days of working from home, and not coming into the office, to see if it sent me a little bit stir crazy. I’d say my house is a lot cleaner, because that became a little bit of, if you will sort of like a 10 minute break, it is kind of easy to just put a load of laundry, or no. I’ll just do something like — I don’t think it’s really made much difference in my productivity. What has forced me to do is be more organized about having everything. I’m sat here, I’ve got a super, super long desk, probably about five meters long and my tendency is, it can be covered almost every inch of it in paper, and writing notes. And then the problem is, it’s you’re working from home, and you really need a piece of paper that is on the desk. So, it’s just simple things like write things straight into Google Docs, don’t write it on paper if you can avoid it at all. Everything going into a sauna.
Don’t write to do post-it notes, and just trying to get everything a little bit more streamlined. And it’s been good practice because especially, initially, I don’t want to slack a whole load of paperwork that I don’t need to with me to the apartment in Spain, which is pretty compact there. And certainly, initially, I can see probably quite quickly, perhaps needing to transition, into needing, like office space over there. But for now, I’m just going to kind of see how things roll. So had to be a lot more organized. Personally to be working from home because I’m not working from home full time either. So, it’s a little bit splitting across kind of multiple locations. It kind of switch, I was using rescue time, but I switched to time doctor, because it can track better across multiple devices. And that has been great. And by doing, using that so, if anyone is not familiar, it’s literally just a bit of software that kind of babysits you. Allows you to track your time. It’s important to see, you know, if your billing for client work, whether you’re spending more time than you should be. But, it’s been that real focus between, now that I’ve kind of come out of this fog of just working every waking hour, because I didn’t really want to deal with any other feelings. It’s been really aware of: “Am I actually working or should I just stop now?” Because I’m kind of working like half speed or quarter speed.
It’s supposed to be kind of like going into cars. I think I have a tendency to spend a lot of time, perhaps later in this evening, and I’m really only in second gear.I’m chuntering on quite slowly. I’m very easily distracted at that time of day and I’m not doing my best work. So, it’s rather than being it, not so much about kind of location, but being more about, I don’t really have any rules about what time I work or anything. You know, I’ve got no problem working very early morning, or late at night. And perhaps going out for a ride on my horse in the middle of the day, and being very flexible, but just being more aware and a bit more disciplined. If I’m working, be in fifth gear. You’ve got your foot on the accelerator, and go for it. And in the rest of the time, I’m in neutral. I’m not working, I’m totally chilled, and not letting that kind of creep over into what kind of little mushy bits around the edge. Where you think you’ve work loads and loads and loads, but in reality when you actually track it, and I’ve been really disciplined about tracking exactly what I’m doing every single hour of every single day, cause I’m not actually doing as much work as I thought I could.
KIM: Christina, how many to-do list items do you gave yourself?
CHRISTINA: Too many, in some ways and I think this is a real balance. You’ve got the to-do’s that are in terms of like client projects and stuff and things being very — to do a little work, as she lately with a live event, which is fabulous. They’re very deadline driven and that’s kind of great. And also very fast moving in terms of the campaigns cause a lot of optimizing and tweaking that’s happening and you’ve got very very short, kind of, time frames. So, it’s kind of the equivalent of e-commerce and that kind of mump between black Friday and Christmas, but very sort of relentless for the event clients. So, there’s a stuff that needs doing. But, what I’ve been trying to make sure I do, is that every single day, I’m doing something that let progresses my business. And I’m like a big part of that is building out a training academy because one of the really nice things about being in business. While, I mean, very busy is you can put your prices up. And I had a real kicking from one of my closest, like, business friends, who is a really smart marketer herself, sort of informally mastermind. And she sent me a great video by a Denise Duffield Thomas about women and selling. And I watched it, totally agreed with it and immediately prices went up a lot. And it’s not that I spend quite a bit of time having sales conversations with people, and especially when it comes to like paid advertising. That if people haven’t got a reasonable budget to spend on Facebook ads or Google ads and the money’s being paid directly to the platform. It doesn’t justify, like, hiring my agency to run their ad campaigns. But there’s a need. They don’t want to DIY it. And I just felt there was a bit of a gap. And in effect I was turning away quite a lot of work because as if just saying to you people either will like. You quote a price and you can tell: “This is like gold for this total silence on the phone and it’s just out of their budget at that time” or I’ve honestly said to them: “Look, it’s not cost effective for you to be doing this right now.”
So, there’s something coming out called Digital Aces Academy, very very shortly. And the idea is there, is they, will teach small businesses how to get to grips of the different aspects additional marketing but with a very very practical kind of perspective. You know, has an access to some help, but it’s not one on one strategy. It’s not bespoke training, so it’s really really affordable and working on that. I’ve had to force myself that has come out of some really late night. So I’m not going to bullshit this whole sort of: “Oh yeah, my effortless digital recurring income” while I’m sat by the pool. No, it’s late hours in the evening. My Nespresso machine has been hammered because my caffeine consumption is sky high at the moment. To get off the ground because didn’t want to like, slow down, the kind of main focus of the business right now, but I also knew this was going to be an important revenue stream going forward. And also I’m really getting the point where I need to get very serious about recruiting some really really great team members. And I know that training them when they’re not sat next to me, physically, is gonna be harder. The content, is going to the academy, is gonna be based on how things happen in the agency and be used for staff training as well. So, that has been a bit of a labor of love. A definite guilty of putting too many things in to-do list. And I’ve been using, what my internet — coming to the end of my third one of the South Journal which a few different people had recommended to me. And I really like the gratitude element of that. I’m not a groovy person, at all, but having to think three good things at the beginning and the end of the day, I think is good for the soul.
KIM: Which journal is this?
CHRISTINA: This is the Best Self of the South Journal.
KIM: Okay, I’ve never heard of that. I’m going to have to go look at it.
CHRISTINA: It’s an interesting one and they’ve got a great Shopify store. So, as it came across them because they won the Shopify build the business competition. So, they’ve grown out massively in a very short period of time with selling a physical product. They’re a great advertisement for their own item. There’s no magic secret, I don’t think any planner can magically sort out your life. For me I like the gratitude part of that. And there’s literally the kind of three tasks to-do today. Now, in reality my Asana tasks do, is probably anywhere between 5 and 20 a day, on a nice day. Whereas it’s that focus on what’s the one thing that’s actually gonna move my personal business forward. So, I quite often does just one task that’s written down in there. And that might be, what today’s task, finish the sales page for Digital Aces Academy. If I get that done then I know that my own business is progressing, you know, in a major way, in the background of everything else that’s going on, in terms of servicing clients and on the e-commerce business. It’s keeping that that kind of distinction of to-do’s when you do a lot of marketing work. Clients of the biggest dangers they slip into, is you never concentrate on your own business, especially when your own business is growing. The temptation is to not do much marketing but I’ve kind of decided to just embrace it and just keep go for. You know, keep growing really. And so that means every single day something needs to happen, from a marketing point of view.
KIM: I was just thinking about that, this past weekend, about a year ago, and I’m gonna name drop here because I remember who I wrote an email to. I was watching Rachel Vuna. So, I was watching everything that she was doing and she was talking about how she had transitioned from doing all client work to working more on her business. It probably really was just about a year ago. I was probably in one of the lowest spots, mentally, that I have been in years just because I was at probably 99% client work and 1% internal work and zero percent self-care. And even though I was working 99% on client work, the money was not where it needed to be. And I’ve slowly made the transition over the course of last year to where I am probably now, doing 10% client work and 90% internal and the money is exactly the same. I don’t really get it because the money’s still not where it needs to be. But I love the fact that I’m doing those things every day.
CHRISTINA: I took on a really really fun project with a big UK charity, but it is something that I was really involved in when I grew up. So it’s one of the best bits of my childhood and I was just really aware that there was a lot at stake in terms of what the future of this organization. And you know, it was a big sell for them to embrace some digital marketing and really break new ground with what they were doing. There’s a lot of emotion involved in business. That’s not just when things go wrong or for solo entrepreneurs and stuff but I’m one of those few people commented they find it really easy to tell me things. And I’m the kind of person that if I’m on a train or a plane, people tell me their life stories. And people feel really comfortable telling me things, but emotionally it’s a lot to carry. And also, just in terms of the logistic side of it, that they pick up the phone and they expect you well to recall every single aspect. And it’s a law. You know, I did consider, completely transitioning the business to 100% into info products and digital. And completely changing, but at the moment I love the agency side. Got some amazing clients and projects on the go. And that is really breaking new ground and, I think, it pushes me every day to be a better marketer. And there’s the chance that some of the stuff that’s bubbling away at the moment, you know, is really kind of groundbreaking stuff. And so, it’s so much fun to get to work on those kind of things.
I’m not ready to step away from it. Whether I changed my mind in three or four years, I don’t know. I think we’d have a very different conversation if I had a family or was planning on having children like immanently because of the hours you working in. There isn’t the same flexibility, but it’s taking a lot of time to be working on the next, kind of project, or working on this side hustle intervac, alongside the rest of the business. But I think it’s important to do, and it’s not just important to do as she. For everyone’s kinda advertising it, in terms of, again, this kind of laptop lifestyle dream and know see it it kind of sipping champagne while the money comes in of your digital business was recurring revenue and a what not. I mean, it means something like cancer or something. Your props there were, you’re physically unable to work for, like, a number of month. You know, where she needed, if she’d made it come home from hospital and needed some really intense care and rehab and all that kind of things. So I also think it’s a bit of a safety net. So I’m doing it from a really positive point of view. It’s sensible on a whole number of reasons. The challenge is to push through and find the time to do it. And let you say that it just cracks me, at least, with your cap because if you follow me from any time online, horses are a massive part of my life. And it does tend to be these intrusions. It probably live 3 on my kind of list of top 10 dream clients. These guys would be in the top 10 and my kind of first inroad in having a serious conversation with them. So you’re on the phone, full on. I’m a professional mode. A chicken walks into my bloody office. So, it’s not my chicken and it’s like, going around. And I was at the safer at the time –
KIM: Oh my god, that’s hilarious.
CHRISTINA: – and I kinda, like well, what do I do? Because I’m trying like chase it out of the office, it’ll make a noise. And then there’s this ruin the illusion of Digital Hot Shots. So, I’ll just leave it and that’s fine. And then it jumped up onto the desk. And I’m like, if this chicken, like, craps which chickens do. I was like fifteen hundred pounds worth of computer. But the chicken is currently like crouched on. And I’m just like: “I’m sure this doesn’t happen to other people”. So, having this conversation with you today, it does, people.
KIM: Christina, it does happen and I got to share with you and the listeners if you’ve listened to any of my early episodes. I share this, it’s one of their early episodes called Keep Moving Forward. My first ever Skype interview with a client. I didn’t realize you could do audio only. And I had video on and it’s not the cats that we have today. It was cats a long time ago and the female was fixed. However, right over my shoulder in the middle of the Skype video call, our cats did it get in clear view of the prospect.
And I’m like tapping my husband cause at that point we are in the small apartment and his desk, he was sitting right next to me. And he just sort of pushed down on my leg and he said: “Stay still, don’t bring attention to it.”
CHRISTINA: This is the first time, I kinda talked about it publicly, which is build the agency into a very significant business, in the kind of wider industry. But I’m wanting to do in quite unconventional manner. The logical thing I should be doing is not going to Spain. I should be moving my office into the city center and having everyone in a room. Having a lot of young grads in their. Its a room full of really ambitious people in their 20’s and kind of the seas. But I want to do it differently. And I won’t be totally transparent about this move and in fact that it will be. There’s no way to hide it really with, with modern social media. And kind of making out that really for clients they’re not going to be paying for the overheads of, you know, a city center office and a receptionist, a big florist bill. But, also there’s a lot of people, who I’d love to have on the team. Who are — if not necessarily conventional but they’re perhaps, they’re semi-retired because of this whole thing that we could. It’s mad thing but its aging population, globally. Where they’re saying in the UK that 25 percent of our population is gonna be over 60 within 20 years time. So that’s not only the problem of the government to work out how to pay, to deal with things like health care and stuff but there’s a massive resource of incredible experience. There’s so many moms who are forced a bit out, by this traditional work force, and they’ve perhaps then gone down the route of self-employment. But it’s about you, this is kind of a hybrid. You can come and work for the agency and there’s be this kind of transparency about it. I don’t know if you saw that clip that’s been floating around on the Internet of BBC and –
CHRISTINA: Yes. Yeah. It just it just cracked me up so much watching that. Yeah, just having the best time on that clip. He just looked like he wanted to die from embarrassment. Kind of like me, you know this stuff happens and we need to change the, I think, the whole structure of work. This whole idea of how you will work, Monday to Friday, roughly. What working hours of like nine to six or nine to five or eight till five. Quite how heavy you work it out. It’s kind of based on the Britains kind of pioneered in the industrial revolution which is when everyone had to work in factories and were primarily confined at that stage everyone worked including the kids. And then we kind of went through this kind of golden era of the, you had, baby boomers post-war, and you had typically perhaps worn. No, it was the father who went out to work and I just the whole thing needs to change for a whole number of reasons. All the technology’s there, to me, its a chance to have some incredible people in the team. But with it you kinda bit of slack, yeah. You know, what animals will give birth live on calls. Children will occasionally invade Skype chat. Yeah, and it’s moving away from this kind of corpora sort of like fakery really. And so, my decision was to be totally transparent about this. And but equally to be doing it while trying to grow a really big business, and not just be, he’s me on my laptop and that’s kind of it.
KIM: Wisner’s we met on a virtual coffee call.
KIM: Last year as a result of the coffee with Dan group, Dan Meredith and I was on a call. A virtual coffee call last Thursday and I had a sick 3 year old at home. This is so not positive productivity, really.
However, she was sick. Things happen and I’m on a Skype call and she comes out into the office. I thought she was very satisfied watching a movie. She comes out and she says: “Mommy I need new panties, my panties have poopy on them”. And I hadn’t muted my line. And the gentleman, on the other line, he just started laughing. And luckily, we ended up having a great conversation. I got my daughter taken care of and we ended up talking again today. But don’t get wrapped up on it, not being perfect. This is also so not positive productivity appropriate but I started laughing when you were talking about the people who talk about having, you know, multimillion dollar launches, father sitting by the pool. The first thing that came to mind and this is so not right, I’ll probably be struck down for this. But I would love to have a hose and spray those people while there having their pictures taken by the pool because I swear they probably have big under eye circles larger than mine. What do you think?
CHRISTINA: I do not think — It doesn’t really do anyone any favors in the long run.
And this is why, I really like damn ready coffee with Dan. I think you’ve got people like Gary Vaynerchuk, Casey nice, that been a real kind of like social media superstars. And they’re living like really glamorous lives. I’m very envious this week because Southwest is on in Austin in Texas. And my social media feeds are full of people doing interesting and awesome stuff there, but they’re also very realistic about here I am at half past 4 in the morning at the airport which is not fun all the time. And the people putting out these kind of stats about the launches. I wish there was more focus on how much profit people had made from a launch versus kind of topline numbers. This whole thing where people talk about like six bigger businesses. And like to me straight away a little bit of, not a red button, but yeah, having had physical businesses is the significant overheads. Six figures is not a big business. And especially once you’re paying, you know, taxes and kind of usually you got red on physical space. And just the whole thing, where you got people equating that kind of,made that jump from employee. And they kind of, treating a business, like, their turn turnovers if it’s like a salary and not enough focus on net profit at the end of the day. And with all these launches, you’re affiliates, you’re paying work. For example here in the UK, again, different tax systems around the world. But straightaway, you’ve got like 20 percent sales tax. So you’ve got your hundred thousand launched. Well 20 percent of that goes straight the tax man. You know, your credit card processing fees or your paypal fees. You’ve got your affiliates and most of them have got. Going back to what we’re talking about at the beginning, these email sequences, you know, where the link was wrong. They’re paying out 50 percent commission which is why you guys get completely submerged with your inboxes at certain times of the year when big people launch and your press got 10 or 15 people emailing you. Then they’ve got their app costs, you know, what they’re paying to Facebook or Google. Is so, what they’re walking away with at the end of the day is not inconceivable to have done, you know, a $100,000 launch. And to walk away with like five or ten thousand dollars in profit which gets so great. You know, he’s going to say no to ten thousand dollars in profit but it’s not quite as sexy sounding. And, like you say, not just on the financial side but I don’t know anyone who’s ever done a big launch and said that was easy. And gosh, I’ve worked on my town, let you say, bags under the eyes. Sleepless nights. Super high pressure. Some like: “Don’t get sucked into the hype.” I find it a real struggle, in how to kind of maintain that line, of not being like a Negative Nelly online. And being that real cynical, slightly bitter voice of experience, but equally not wanting to give people like a fake idea of what it involves.
KIM: I totally agree.
CHRISTINA: And it’s difficult because as a digital marketer I’m looking at metrics and I know that if I post certain things, you get a great reaction.
KIM: Getting pictures
CHRISTINA: Yeah. Yes. The whole year — any of the kind of classic stuff, has me in a sports car outside the luxury hotel, having just an strategy day with the client gets way more reaction than his a five page detailed case study of what exactly how you can do excise that. It’s kind of human nature to be attracted to shiny shiny objects. But I do think like the Internet like magnifies things. So it has given some room to some slightly dubious kind of people in the Internet. You know when they’re selling a dream and there’s probably a lot where MLMs the same either. It’s the reason why they give people, who are high performers, the cars and they get them up on stage and try to motivate human nature. I just wish there was a little bit more, kind of real life questions about business than that. And this whole explosion of like the life coaching industry and business coaching. And people who are making a lot of money by selling courses to business coaches about how to make lots of money, business coaching. And you can’t, you’re not making money business coaching. Your making money by telling other people how to make money business coaching. There’s that little disconnect between real world experience and the Internet is changing so fast.
I don’t really think, there is a great full medication you can take, for like, online marketing in terms of what university courses because having recruited some really really great graduates lately. What they’re learning on their course curriculums? That curriculums are perhaps written like four or five years ago, and it doesn’t cover what’s available there today because technology moves so fast. I don’t have anything wrong with people, not having formal qualifications, like my academic qualifications and nothing to do with digital marketing, originally. So I’m laughing there about the cat, you know, I was originally at vet school. You know, a million miles away from online marketing. I’m needing a bit of rigor in terms of the real basics, the whole profit versus cost of making the product. Just like business 101 and that doesn’t get mentioned enough in the sort of online guru circles.
KIM: Christina, we are going to talk about growing pains and I have so much to talk about on that subject, as well. But I think we are going to have to bring you back for another episode just to talk about that. And to talk about all the systems that you have set up, besides Asana and Google Docs, to help you with this move in. And I would love to actually bring you back after your move to talk about all that because this has been such a great chat.
CHRISTINA: Yeah I’ve been — Absolute pleasure. And I think, for me, is what I find really challenging in business, what I like about digital marketing, is a cross between arts and science. But I’m not naturally, like, systems is the thing I find hardest. It’s definitely a struggle.
KIM: I just want to bring up though really fast. You were talking about six figure earners. This — I have never shared numbers in the show but in the spirit of total transparency. I just want to share, in 2015, I was thrilled when I saw that income report showed revenue of close to 95,000 because to me that was huge. But then after all the contractors and all the tools that I was using, I think I made 20,000 for the whole year. It was humbling to say the least.
CHRISTINA: I think the tools thing is an interesting one. My bookkeeper made me list them all out and then had a stern word with me about monthly outgoings on software tools. So, literally, it’s like other tricks of the trade. But those I see this — And I think this is where I wish people were born realistic, and kind of processed more on what they talked about. And that’s really where one of the things in terms of moving and this is definitely something we can kind of circle around, in like, the next episode. Its this like bits of my business that I’ve like — that I’ve knocked on the head because I decided they weren’t profitable enough. And so, in the short term, it means that if you process that well. I’ve just sliced off like 30 or 40 thousand pounds worth of turnover. But if you can do less and make a lot more profit, in some cases. And so, there’s the whole kind of productivity, in terms of, people are often talking about. They think about business productivity about being like the tools and stuff. And those are really important, and doing once the kind of move is officially done, I’ll know, if the wheels are falling off these systems or not. So I’m sure, they’ll be some growing pains, growing pains there but there is also productivity in terms of getting rid of clients that are a massive time suck. Or putting prices or getting rid of unprofitable products and services. And just so you know, the kind of business systems, rather than I switched from rescue time to time doctor, or I did this and that. Being can quite often gets some very big kind of changes to your, what you’re pulling out of your business, in terms of profit and personal revenue by tweaking, you know, some pretty big picture stuff. And that, to me, is enormously productive.
KIM: Oh I completely agree. Would you say that that spend one of your biggest changes then?
CHRISTINA: Yeah and being tough to do because a little bit some of the product ranges and stuff and like the eCommerce business. They were projects, it was her babies or her art work. I’m going to take a really sort of clinical look and step back and say it’s just not cost effective to carry on with X, Y, Zed. The good news is, it gets easier, once you’re on a bit of a roll, is little bit like decluttering which I’ve been doing a lot of, as well. The kind of first couple of days, there with the bin bag and it’s how to throw things away, by sort of day four or five you’re a bit dung hoe. I’m sure you know things would be totally blitzed but it’s the kind of discipline to step back and there’s nothing sexy about it. It doesn’t involve digital marketing. It really is business 101 and spending a lot of time. Bringing in my accountant and my bookkeeper, and looking at things in a very dispassionate manner of how do we make this business more productive from a financial point of view. Rather than a sort of a kind of tallying and kind of staffing. And some of that is really dull stuff, changing up contracts, cutting product lines, that kind of thing.
KIM: Well, absolutely, I completely agree. And one of the big things, for me, was actually downsizing from having a big team just back down to me. And becoming more confident, also, in the products and services that I was offering, so that my prices reflected that.
CHRISTINA: I think, we really did, under-pricing, on the whole. And that for me has been a really nice thing working on the Academy because I kind of goal by, by the middle of the year, the kind of minimum, sort of like, project great. That you can kind of hire us. Kind of offering, is kind of splitting into, something called Black Label, which is the kind of criteria for that, is a financial amount which I’m not going to share but is a decent investment. And the exciting and interesting projects and also ethically projects, we’re happy working on. And then the rest of the market is still not serving them through one-on- one work and that kind of allows you to be a you can deliver better work. I just think the middle is a really dangerous place to be just full stop in business. And I think, now, with the ability to outsource so much around the world. The teams where children are in different countries. I’ve got one girl who is incredible. She’s a student, so she’s working part time for me. And she is based in Mongolia, of all places. So yeah, I’m kind of like conscious that, not only are the tools coming out, to replace a lot of my day to day work. And you’ve got things like Facebook Messenger box. I’m sure more and more of advertising is going to be done by computers in terms of decisions, and campaign optimization, and things like that. You’ve also got an entire sort of global market force of labor, that makes the US and the UK, look like, really really expensive places to do business. And so we are competing against those guys.
And so it’s, kind of like, watching let’s pull both kind of ways. And remove ourselves from competing, by positioning and pricing and again, kind of going enough down to complete other side line. But businesses is changing at such a rapid rate. And having seen, what’s happening in retail, like since 2001 when we first started in e-commerce to where you are now, and things that even just actually in the last three or four years. You know, I don’t think the kind of world of work and business is going to be recognizable, if we’re having this conversation in like 10 years time, in 2027. There’s so much change coming. And I think people are sleepwalking away a little bit into it. But I was just also conscious at such a great future proofing the business as well which is something else that people don’t always talk about. And how do you make sure the business is still here, in another 17 years time, if you still want it to be, or you sold it for a lot of money, and I am totally retired on a yacht, somewhere. The thing is they’re not sexy, this things, that there’s no PDF download that will tell you how to do this stuff. It’s a lot of thinking and a lot of hard work, and so I think that’s why it’s not openly discussed, early, online.
KIM: Yeah, if it were easy then a lot more people would be doing it, right?
KIM: When you are on your yacht someday, you know, drinking cocktails make sure there’s a helipad.
CHRISTINA: My family ,urge you all, be really convenient. My aunts and uncles, I would give them a shout out because my uncle who lives in New Zealand has got a beautiful, like, beach home, on a little island and where he keep — He keeps on saying to me: “You gotta come visit”. But it’s such a long flight. And if you’re there, you really want to be there for like two, maybe three weeks. And he said: “Oh, we’ve got fiber broadband now on the island.” So pencil that in. And then my other side of the family, had this kind of lifetime’s ambition, having always been sailing nuts, to you know, boats are their obsession. And they’ve now, got a, the pontoon boat and that’s going to be in Greece, I think for the summer. So, I keep on saying to remember me: “Your favorite niece. So, I’m gonna come visit you lots.” That’s, the difference though, they are saying the horses are going to mean like, we are going to boarding school. And it’s far more socially acceptable to leave your horses somewhere for a month. Go messing around on a yacht, than it is your kids, so I think that’s the difference. Someone needs to invent the ultimate kid crash, the digital nomads. That’s my business idea for the day.
KIM: I am totally open to being sponsored by Disney Cruise Line because I do understand that they have on ship sitting so
CHRISTINA: They haven’t got a wifi there.
KIM: You know what? My clients can wait. Well, Cristina, I know you are moving soon but considering this digital age, I would love for you to share where listeners can find you online. Find out more about you and learn about your upcoming programs –
KIM: – Oh,and listeners you can find all of the links and resources that we have talked about on my web site at thekimsutton.com/pp116
CHRISTINA: Awesome. This is the organization I’m impressed. The agency is the blacktypedigital.com. There’s a lot of information on there about what we do and the link three to digital aces academy, but the best places are Facebook. So it’s facebook.com/christinajonesonline. So that’s my personal page where I love meeting people. So, come over say: “Hi”. And then, there’s also then the Digital Aces Facebook group. So if you just search again Digital Aces on Facebook, the group, and it’s a really fun mix of people in there and social media can be social.
KIM: Awesome, and again all those links will be on the safe, thekimsutton.com/pp116. Christina , thank you so much for being on today. And I know this is the second time we’ve done it, but I am going to ask you to come back for a third, and I’m gonna effort to it greatly
CHRISTINA: On one condition
KIM: What’s that?
CHRISTINA: You need to send me some pictures of super cute kids, once they’re all cleaned up, a bit.
KIM: Oh, I will. I am dying to get out there and see them. Listeners make sure, I’ve already had one blooper episode. The second one may be out by the time this episode airs, but you will hear that in the middle of this episode, my cat fame went into labor. So never a dull moment around here.
CHRISTINA: I love it. Thanks so much Kim.
KIM: Thank you so much.