Jon Bard runs his business out of Fort Collins, Colorado, but he has a large base of subscribers all over the place.
We spoke with Jon about his company and how they are serving children's book writers.
Jon, thanks for joining us. Tell me about your current business. What are you doing exactly?
At Children's Book Insider, we publish a monthly newsletter and other info products for aspiring and working children's book writers.
When did you start the business?
The first issue of the newsletter was published in May, 1990.
What were you doing before this, and is this your first business?
I was in public relations (I co-founded Stoller & Bard Public Relations) and my wife Laura, who's my partner in CBI, was a literary agent.
Where did you get the startup money?
We started with our own funds on a very shoestring budget.
Who are your main competitors? How do you compete against them?
There's only one other newsletter quite like ours. We don't really compete against them -- there are enough customers to go around.
How has your experience in running the business been different from what you expected?
The internet changed everything. When we started, we used AOL and Compuserve for some things, but I never envisioned that we would become a 100% online business. It really leveled the playing field.
Is there anything you wish you had done differently?
Worried less. I tend to fret about money, sales trends and stuff like that, but I ultimately get it together and move forward in a positive fashion. If I could cut out that first part and just get to the second part I'd be much better off!
What have you done that has been very effective in helping to grow the business?
We've built a double opt-in e-mail list of over 43,000 writers, and we send out a biweekly eZine to them. That's really powerful marketing. You can see the current issue of the eZine by visiting http://write4kids.com/update.html.
What advice would you give to somebody else who wanted to start a similar business?
Build your business approach around what works for your personality. I'm a "seat of the pants" kind of guy and I tend to go with my gut on things. I know I should be breaking down metrics, running split test and studying traffic patterns and stuff, but I'm miserable doing that. I'm much happier just being creative and going for it. I never could have lasted this long if I forced myself to do things I didn't like, even if they're "good for me".
I also believe completely in the idea that if I spend $100 on a book or a DVD or some other product and get one good idea out of it, it's money well spent. Keep educating yourself about marketing. It's a changing and evolving thing, and if you can stay up with it you have a big leg up on your competitors.
That's great advice, and it's what we spend all of our time doing at this site, trying to give entrepreneurs a few good ideas to help them be more successful. Thanks so much for sharing your entrepreneurial experience with us, Jon, and good luck in growing your business.