Like many mothers, Shelley Hunter wants a job that is flexible enough to give her as much time with her kids as possible. She wants the time to go to little league games, school plays, and be there when they get home from school.
Shelley was looking to do something professionally that was practically, but also could be combined with one of her passions. Shelley has always had an obsession with gift cards, and the value behind them that most people are not aware of. After working for IT for years, Shelley took her obsession and unintentionally invented a product. With the help of her sister who is a graphic designer, Shelley made her own website and found a new way to work and be able to do everything she loves to do as a mom.
Social Media is a Lot of Work
Just like anyone new to social media and to starting their own business, Shelley discovered how intense the amount of work was. She saw a world she wasn’t a part of and wanted to learn how to use social media to grow her business. Shelley decided to take all of her ideas and turn them into ideas and guides for others.
Turning Passion Into Money
While helping Mike Collins write a book on personal branding and doing the research for him, Shelley realized people can take what they are passionate about and turn it into something more – something successful. Researching for the book and coming across people who had monetized their hobbies and interests, Shelley discovered she would be the one who would benefit the most from the book.
Thinking more on her ideas and her obsession, Shelley decided that gift cards needed a personality and a voice and that she needed to be that person. She knew once her youngest child started kindergarten that it was time to implement her personal brand. Having a background in IT, Shelley knew that is was all about the presentation.
With the help of her sister and the purchase of a new camera, Shelley made the first steps into kicking off her ideas for everyone to see. Shelby created her own website, Gift Card Girlfriend where she showed her customers how to gift card, how much money to put on a gift card, and posted information she felt was needed. But she wondered if she could sustain it.
Shelley first started out with presentation ideas of gift cards. When people responded and wanted to know more, she knew she could provide them with information and answer questions that they had. Her only problem was she could not convince a company to take her on since she did not have a lot of background experience. Keeping in mind that she had a platform she created and that she did have customers, Shelley knew that she could not give up.
Hard Work Pays Off
Three years after her website was launched, she received a call from giftcards.com. They told Shelley that they had been trying to train someone to present, show ideas, give information, and answer questions about gift cards. Instead of training or making someone into the voice of gift cards, they found Shelley and realized the voice of gift cards already existed.
Understanding her need to be at home with her kids, giftcards.com allowed Shelley to work from home and have the job she wanted. Shelley was able to expand the gift card business for giftcards.com. They merged both of the Facebook pages with giftcards.com, kept Shelley’s Pinterest account since she had more ideas and presentations on hers, and kept their Twitter accounts separate.
With this new opportunity, Shelley feels she has really learned the language of social media.
Social media is easy if you take the time to do it.
When asking Shelley which social media network is most important to her in terms of business, her reply was Facebook. “Facebook has the most followers, and you can reach a larger audience.” She enjoys Pinterest as a way to share her passions visually, and she also enjoys Twitter because it gives her a voice.
Organizing Your Time
When it comes to managing her time, Shelley admits she has learned to become adaptive. When she takes her kids to practice, she also takes her computer and works. Shelley is constantly figuring out new ways like this to kill 2 birds with one stone. For someone wanting to start their own personal brand, Shelley advises them to “figure out what your niche is and start it. Start your website and create a blog to get your name out there. With social media you can reach more people. Once you get started, don’t stop: keep sharing info. Just do it.”
Take it One Step at a Time
Shelley described herself as the Tortoise from the Tortoise and the Hare. She took small steps and never tried to rush to get ahead. She started out helping small businesses create a gift card program and is now working for giftcards.com. Shelley says to “invest your time and be patient.” Shelley’s goal is to be the Rachael Ray of gift cards. She wants to be the name and go-to for advice and help. Shelley’s advice to people starting out is to learn as much as you can on your own. One of her favorite sites to refer to is haro.com. For her it is important to spend time learning to market yourself.
“Be true to yourself the whole time. Stay on topic with your social media sites and remember to separate your personal brand from your personal life.” To learn more about personal branding, check out our personal branding training class!
Photo Credit to http://www.seejanesnapphoto.com/