Turning Small Ideas into a $35,000 a Month Business with Katie Keith of Barn2 Media

Episode #063

Katie Keith (@Barn2Media) sees small ideas as big opportunities. In this episode, she explains how she and her husband left their full-time jobs to go into business on their own, how they found an endless stream of client work, and how they transitioned into building WordPress plugins that generate a sustainable stream of income and allow them to live their lives more freely.

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    My Main Takeaways:

    • Katie and her husband (co-founder) started their business “Barn2 Media” by building WordPress sites for clients, then they eventually switched to selling WordPress plugins and selling them on their own website

    • Katie did not get any outside funding, because they wanted a lifestyle business.

    • Katie and her husband hire someone to manage her own website (just to do maintenance and server hosting, to save themselves time), and someone for marketing and copywriting.

    • Katie focuses on marketing, while her husband is the developer.

    • Katie and her husband always wanted to start a business together, but they didn’t for a long time because they got used to the comfort of a consistent salary.

    • Her husband thought of going into contracting.

    • Her husband quit his job first to work on the business, while Katie continued working because they needed the money. She worked for 2 more years, had a baby, took maternity leave, got used to not being at work, and never returned after the maternity leave. (Here courtland points out that this is an example of “the external hand” that forces you to start working on your business earlier than you would have otherwise).

    • They started their WordPress business locally, but then after a few months, Katie put Google Ads out, advertising “Wordpress Developers/Designers”, and this got a very good response, taking their business online rather than just local (this was back in 2010). (Courtland points out that this was a smart decision, they started off small and local, but once they were confident in their processes, they went global, online).

    • They immediately began attracting bigger clients once they branded themselves as “Wordpress Experts”

    • Experiment with different marketing channels: Their first techniques for finding clients locally involved them printing out flyers and placing them on companies around town that didn’t seem to have a website. She also sent out lots of cold emails. They tried many different approaches to see what would work. Once they identified what did work, they could double down on that.

    • The business turned over £10,000 in the first year.

    • They started out as a services business, but eventually moved onto a product business because it was more scalable. They found their winning product idea through their clients, by listening to their problems.

    • One of their failures: They spent a year developing a theme, that never took off.

    • Target a specific problem in a specific niche. They built a plugin for Woocommerce and WordPress users experiencing a very specific problem, they created a solution, and wrote a blog article on it, then they started making sales within 6 days.

    • A lot of their customers come from Google searches.

    • The advantage of working for clients first: They didn’t go out there to look for new product ideas, they just listened to their customers’ requests.

    • The secret way to get ideas is to stick to your industry and learn all about it (especially the problems and potentials solutions)

    • Just put things out there: They had no idea that anyone would ever buy their first plugin, they just made something quick, put it out there, and eventually someone bought it

    • Even though Katie wanted a lifestyle business she still works more than she needs to because she enjoys it!

    • She has to do 45 minutes of plugin support every day, even on holidays, because they keep everything in-house.

    • It’s ok to lose customers because the price is too high. Higher prices + less customers > Lower prices + more customers

    • Raise your prices: They charged $20 for “Woocommerce Product Table Plugin”, but eventually raised the price to $99

    • They’d like to automate their business, but they don’t know how to, so they continue to work in their business.

    • You don’t need a killer idea. Just get SOMETHING of value out there. Opportunities will come to you as put yourself out there.

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    Very interesting podcast! Thank you both (Cortland and Katie) for the insights! Actually it was the first podcast I have listened in full length to :) Even though I am a member for months here :)

    I am a WordPress and WooCommerce developer myself and I am tired of freelancing and building mostly cheap sites for clients. So I am also thinking for a while about switching to building plugins or themes.

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      I have a plugin that I need a developer for.. we can talk about it.

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    Can't find a button to up-vote this podcast.

    Very nice conversation, very easy to listen to, tons of lessons. Great inspirational story.

    Thanks for sharing!

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    Good stuff, keep it up

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    Very interesting podcast episode, thanks Courtland and Katie!

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    Thanks for sharing beautiful information. I hope you still share some more info about Startups. For get more info https://trendystartups.com.

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    That Katie's quote about "killer idea" is so true, many people can't understand this.