November 8, 2021
Emma speaks to Kim Dow of Sass Studios and Sass Magazine about marketing her product business. We talk about building readership, creating content for the space you’re sharing it in and helping businesses connect better with the audience who will see their advertising.
In this episode Emma speaks to Kim Dow of Sass Studios and Sass Magazine about marketing her product business. We talk about building readership, creating content for the space you’re sharing it in and helping businesses connect better with the audience who will see their advertising.
Sass Studios is a boutique branding and creative design studio that specializes in supporting and empowering women-owned businesses by helping them cultivate their visual “voice”.
Sass Magazine is a women's lifestyle and professional publication that celebrates real women, serving up articles on a variety of topics including career, wellness, travel, style, beauty and home, as well as special feature articles.
02:39 The catalyst for Sass Studios
04:01 The catalyst for Sass Magazine
11:23 Which content goes on which
12:06 Online events
26:16 Email marketing
31:31 Social media
33:51 Email marketing
36:54 Different strategies for each platform
38:15 Advertising and sponsorships
18:14 Quickfire round
Find Sass Magazine
Kim Dow 0:00
What makes the print magazine kind of so cool is you can pick it up and, and be like, Oh my God, I know this woman. So we wanted to keep that aspect of the print publication. But we also wanted to start expanding and showcasing women and women's topics and articles for women all over the place
Emma Peacock 0:25
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode, I spoke with Kim Dow of Sass Studios and Sass Magazine about marketing her business. We talk about building readership, creating content for the space you're sharing it in and helping businesses connect better with the audience who will see their advertising. Sass Studios is a boutique branding and creative design studio that specializes in supporting and empowering women owned businesses by helping them cultivate their visual voice. Sass Magazine is a woman's lifestyle, a professional publication that celebrates real woman serving up articles on a variety of topics, including career, wellness, travel style, beauty, and home as well as special feature articles. Hope you enjoy listening to this chat about building a print and digital magazine, and can see how you can implement a few tactics into your own business. Welcome to the podcast. Kim. It's so good to have you.
Kim Dow 1:16
I'm so excited to be here. Thank you so much for having me, Emma.
Emma Peacock 1:20
It's great to have you. So to get us started, tell us all about you and your business and all of the different parts of it.
Kim Dow 1:29
Sure. So there's a lot of moving parts, just like with any, any business. So first and foremost, my first business was an is a branding and graphic design company. So we do full service branding, and mostly with a focus in print design. And we love working with all kinds of clients. Our clients range from international associations to small startup businesses, but our passion is really to work with women-owned and women oriented organizations. And so that leads into the other side of our business, which is Sass Magazine, which is a women's lifestyle and professional magazine. It is printed quarterly and is distributed in our local area. And then sassmagazine.com is a media resource for women's lifestyle articles where we're posting articles almost daily.
That's it. Yeah. In a nutshell.
Emma Peacock 2:29
Yeah. Yeah. So what was the initial motivation for launching the business to start off with? How did you have that idea?
Kim Dow 2:39
So the branding and design firm is what what I started and I started that in 2008, I had gone to college, I went to college, both liking math and art, and not knowing what I was going to major in because math and art are like, totally separate things. And I ended up finding graphic design. When I was at school, which kind of solved both for me it had that creative and artistic sensibility. But it also had that problem solving skills of the math side. So right out of college, I got a job at a local firm, and I worked there for several years. And then I just got to the point where I was ready to do my own thing. I wanted to have my own types of clients, I wanted to do my own creative process. So in 2008, before I turned 30, that just told everybody how old I was. As I quit my quit my day job and started my own business without really any clients with just a laptop sitting on my couch with my dog staring at me. And from there. We've grown into, you know, a full service, graphic design and branding studio and as well as publishing a magazine.
Emma Peacock 3:57
So what was the catalyst for the magazine itself?
Kim Dow 4:01
So the magazine, the magazine, I started about six years ago, and doing the the branding and design and really working with a lot of women-owned businesses, startups and women oriented businesses. A lot of them in our local community. I realized there's so many amazing women in our community just like how I started out, and there was no outlet really to celebrate or share their stories. These were women that were just doing amazing things just because that's who they were. And sometimes they weren't recognized for it. And on the flip side, doing the graphic design and branding at the time, we were doing the layout and design for several magazines, several different magazines. So I basically combined my knowledge and love of doing design and layouts from magazines and then started a magazine to help kind of have an outlet for these women, and so the magazine was first started just as a local publication, and its grown, where we've, you know, expanded our distribution to more of a regional publication and then sassmagazine.com is of course, like, a resource for women everywhere.
Emma Peacock 5:19
Hmm. So walk us through how you got the magazine started? Did you start like selling advertising? First? How did you kind of get the ball rolling with it?
Kim Dow 5:30
Yeah, so. So I will say other than doing layout and design for magazines, I had no publishing experience. When I started the publication, I really have completely learned and taught myself as I go, which, you know, most entrepreneurs do and find themselves doing every day. So the way that I started I, I kind of just did, but I thought, you know, using my marketing and design background, sort of, what would people expect? What would advertisers want? What are the types of articles and content that people want? I think I did, like a really brief like survey where I sent it out to several women that I knew and got some feedback. And then created a media kit and reached out to potential advertisers, a lot of which were at the time, some of our clients who, you know, wanted to support us and and honestly, like, right from that first. From that first issue, we had a really good response and, and a lot of support, and people were really, really excited, because as I said, there wasn't an outlet in this area to really showcase women doing kick ass things. So and that that's essentially how it started. No, no investors, I invested in myself, it started out as a passion project that I kind of did, you know, in the evenings, and it's just grown from there.
Emma Peacock 6:57
Hmm. Yeah, I guess it's that thing of like, when there's a gap in the market, and people really want it. It's not as hard to get like the ball in terms of like people getting bought in. And that's that initial response that can help you kind of see that you're on the right track, as well as like, okay, yeah, people want this. It's not just my, it's not just my thing of getting feedback from other people out there that this will actually be really good. So Exactly, yeah, yeah. Yeah. And then just going full force into it. Yeah.
Kim Dow 7:26
Yep. That's pretty much what happened.
Emma Peacock 7:29
Yeah. So other than, like, you know, budgetary things. Were there any other reasons why you just started locally with the magazine?
Kim Dow 7:39
Um, well, mostly, a lot of it, you know, was budget, obviously, again, there were no investors, no loan, I was completely doing this with my own savings. So you know, making a magazine is not, not easy, it cost money to print it, it costs money to distribute it, it costs money to, you know, bring on writers, photographers, or, like admin people to help facilitate it. So, basically, and also my, most of my key contacts at the time, were sort of local base. So I wanted to start at local and just branch out from there and use, you know, go to the people that I knew and use the resources and vendors that I was already familiar with. And that's why it started out local. And it's still pretty local. We've just expanded into a couple other counties and a few, like parts of other states.
Emma Peacock 8:40
Hmm. And when did you start the online component? Was that always there? Or how did you do that?
Kim Dow 8:45
So yeah, so the online component, it was always there. At first, it was just a website to support the magazine. And we didn't really, you know, for a way for people to read know about the magazine, subscribe to it, if they wanted a paid subscription, sign up for our mail list, like all of that kind of stuff. But what we found was that we had, we actually had a lot of like, people who were not in the area who wanted to be a part of Sass Magazine, and who, you know, loved the idea of it and we didn't, because our mission for the print magazine was kind of more of a local basis and sort of highlighting the women who you might run into at the grocery store, they might be part of your, you know, kids PTA and you might not even know all the things that they're doing, which is what makes the print magazine kind of so cool as you can pick it up and and be like, Oh, my God, I know, I know this woman. So we wanted to keep that aspect of the print publication, but we also wanted to start expanding and showcasing women and women's topics and articles for women all over the place. So we started slowly adding in, you know, kind of a blog and a post part of our website, where we would occasionally write some articles that might accompany kind of like the print issue or showcase a woman who's not in our region as a woman to watch spotlight. So, that kind of went on for a couple years. And then I will say, when COVID hit, we couldn't really distribute our magazines, we couldn't, you know, we couldn't do our photoshoots in person, we had to, for a while go to an all digital publication just sort of pivot. And in doing that, we really started to really focus on the website component and build up our content. And that now is one of our, you know, main parts of the magazine is sassmagazine.com. It's just a women's resource for women everywhere on all kinds of lifestyle and, and entrepreneurial articles. So that's so yeah, we so it's, it's a little hard because we have to, we have to think both locally, and then on a much broader geographic scope. For content for contacts for stories of women. So it's kind of kind of that two parts of it really.
Emma Peacock 11:23
Yeah. And how do you decide which content goes does your content from the physical magazine go online, but delayed? How do you kind of share those articles?
Kim Dow 11:36
Some of the articles do most of our features, in our like Women to Watch local spotlights, those are all just print magazine. And those are all special things for our local audience. Some of the more general articles will eventually get put onto the website, but we do it. Like almost a year or more after the print magazine has come out. So that print magazine definitely has new content that you can't find anywhere else.
Emma Peacock 12:06
Yeah. And then you've also extended into some online events as well. Was that something that you were doing pre pandemic? Or is that something that you've done, just in the digital space now, like, purposefully, now that you kind of can't necessarily have one in person, as you know, easily and with less risk of things changing by the day of the event? How did that come about?
Kim Dow 12:33
So we, when we were producing the magazine, we we started maybe a year after we first were putting out the magazine, we started having these events that we just called Girls Night Out, or G-N-O events where each issue that we published, we would have just basically a fun social event for women to come and celebrate the launch of the magazine, the people who were featured in the magazine would come so you could meet, you know, you can meet the people who were featured, you could meet the people who put the magazine on you can meet the photographers, the writers, and it was, they became these, you know, events that would sell out really quickly that everybody was looking forward to. And of course, then the pandemic hit, and we couldn't have any in person events. So we, again quickly had to pivot and figure out, you know, what are we going to do, we had a few kind of virtual happy hours that we tried that were successful, but then people just got to a point where you're on zoom all day for work, you did not want to also go on Zoom necessarily in the evenings for happy hour. So what we what we did is we took our really popular event called Like A Boss at the time, before the COVID they were called round tables, and you would go and you would sit at a you know, one roundtable will be talking about this particular topic, another table, we talking about this particular topic. So we took that format, and we converted it to a virtual, a virtual event where it was a six week long event. And every week, we had a meeting with a amazing like speaker talking about a certain topic. So yes, we, you know, had to figure out how to pivot and how to take an in person event and shift it to being digital and virtual. And it it actually was pretty successful event. And it might be something that we continue to do virtually each year because we were able to get speakers, you know who were all over the country and actually outside of the country too. So that was super cool. And we wouldn't have probably been able to do that otherwise.
Emma Peacock 14:49
Yeah, it'll definitely be interesting to see how many businesses do like hybrid options like some online some in person once we can kind of resume normal ways of going to events particularly, and see how that kind of is built into their strategy purposefully and not as like a secondary, you know, backup option, if you will. Yeah. So tell us about your team, maybe across both sides of the business, and how you kind of pull everything together with the team behind you.
Kim Dow 15:24
Sure, so the team. Sorry, it's funny, because the team has been in flux a lot lately, it's, especially with the pandemic and how we've had to shift to not having an office space to working virtually. So it's definitely shifted a lot in the past, you know, year and a half, two years, we're a super small team, people would be shocked at how many people we don't have, right now we actually have, it's myself and then we have three to four part-time contractors who are doing things such as our social media, digital content, we have a magazine manager who sort of, for the print magazine kind of organizes everything. And then we work with writers and photographers just on a contract basis. So if we have a certain photoshoot, or article topic that we're doing, we have a bank of writers and photographers that we will reach out to you kind of matching them to their tone of voice or the things that they like to write about, or their photography sense. So yeah, it's a super, super small grassroots publication.
Emma Peacock 16:41
Hmm. And then what about on the graphic design side? Do you have people that are just dedicated to that side of the business? How does that work?
Kim Dow 16:49
So it's always it's always been kind of a meld of the two. So when we have a designer, that designer, you know, is focusing on client work, but also does design work and layouts and helps with the magazine as well. So it's, it's kind of a, you know, a blur of the two.
Emma Peacock 17:07
Yeah, It must also bring some variety to for that role, as well, rather than it just being like one thing. Yeah, but I find that interesting that you've kind of got this, like, people do maybe like less hours for you, but they have specific like specialties that they work for you with. And then you have the kind of bank of freelancers to work with. I really like that model. It's how, like, when I have a client who needs a photographer, rather than having an in-house photographer, and then needing them to be fully occupied all the time, it's just for that perspective, it's so much less risk on my part. But it also means that then we can hire the photographer, or the videographer or the animator, or whatever, that works for that client. So opens up that freedom as well. And that way of you having the the right writer for the article piece that you're that you're writing makes total sense. Yeah,
Kim Dow 18:01
Exactly. Yep. And that our, our staff model has, you know, changed and shifted, and over the years, depending on depending on our client load, depending on like, the, you know, extent of the events that we're doing things like that. So we've, you know, we've had right now, that's our model, but we also have had a lot of, you know, full time in, in, like in office staff. But now going virtually, that seems to be the model that is working best for us.
Emma Peacock 18:32
Hmm, are you finding any like particular collaboration, things that you want to share with us of how people are currently working together, without being together together?
Kim Dow 18:43
Um, so one thing that, you know, the pandemic has, I've met so many other amazing women entrepreneurs, through in the digital space, a lot of which, you know, we're doing stories about as Women to Watch Spotlight Stories online. So I, in a way, even though the pandemic kind of forced us to stay in our houses and sort of be isolated, it really in a way opened it up to like, a much broader audience and a much broader network sphere. So as much as you know, as much as zoom fatigue is real, I have loved like meeting and collaborating and being able to share stories of women. I not even just all over the country, but all over the world.
Emma Peacock 19:36
Mm hmm. Yeah, totally. I mean, it's been a great opportunity for me, for example, because whereas I would have previously needed to, you know, pay to fly, you know, 1000s of dollars across the world to go to an event that the event itself might only be three days or two days or one day and building a whole trip around that And so therefore needing to be very selective of what I attend, or if I attend anything. And now it's kind of like, other than timezone, like, I just have to get up at the right time. Like, it's really not, it's really not that hard and, like working from home and everything, it's not even too weird to just, you know, like, one time I got up for a conference that started at the in the wee hours and it was the colder part of winter, so I just let the fire and sat on the couch. And, and it was like an extra like peaceful addition to it. And I was still able to connect with people in a similar way, it is obviously different that we couldn't, you know, go for coffee or have dinner afterwards or whatever, but you're still making that connection. And when the community is consistent around that you do over time start to build that connection, in a way as well. And you can just collaborate differently with people and meet different people in different ways. Yeah, that I would hope will stay after as much as it will change back to a closer model. Yeah. Um, so have you found that the local magazine has grown like, at the same time as the online presence? Or if they kind of had their own timelines there pre pandemic? I assume, digital kind of had its, you know, skyrocket of like, the balance went one way in that capacity, but over since you originally started it.
Kim Dow 21:36
Yeah, that, you know, that's a really, really good question. That makes me think, um, yes to your question. So, yeah, they've grown in two, two really, totally separate ways, which, you know, for, for me it's, it's always a learning experience, and it's always figuring out, how do we keep how do we keep growing this? How do we keep expanding? How do we keep, you know, keep it alive, keep changing as we need to? The print publication, you know, we, we have a great support system in our local community. We have some local great, great shops, great service providers that are supporters as advertisers for us. And that, that I will say, during the pandemic, you know, that hit us really hard. Because a lot of those businesses were out of business, you know, or had to shut down for several months, several weeks, and their marketing budgets, like were nonexistent. So we felt the pandemic, almost, you know, 10 to 12 months, later than most people did that, that sort of wave. So we're just now kind of starting to build back up, and we're seeing that small businesses are, you know, starting to starting to peek through and, you know, thrive again, so our advertiser base is coming back, for the website of things, I would say, what we focused on, you know, in the past, especially two years is content, you know, just doing more really good content, we're focusing on our SEO, and now we're focusing on collaborations or partnerships with some different companies, for some affiliate stuff, for some sponsored article posts. So that's sort of the next phase that we're really kind of trying to work into, we're trying to, since we have started to put so much effort, time, and brainpower into the website. And we have, you know, of course, I'm going to say this, but really, we have really great articles, and great content. Now we want it to really be a source of revenue. So that's sort of what we're working on on the website side of things.
Emma Peacock 24:08
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Kim Dow 25:20
So definitely the local side of things, the print, you know, publication is a lot of events, our own events that we have a lot of networking events, a lot of sponsoring, you know, sponsoring local organizations, local events, being a part of local organizations for the Chamber of Commerce, women's women's networking events. So a lot of it is out outward facing kind of just relationship, relationship building. For the website, side of things, we're still figuring it out, to be honest, I mean, we're doing a lot of social media. We've sort of really upped our Pinterest strategy this year. So we're kind of seeing how that works. But really, we're just sort of figuring it out as we go and trying to test and change as needed.
Emma Peacock 26:16
Hmm, do you have an email list that you send content to?
Kim Dow 26:20
We do. Yep. We have a weekly newsletter that we send, that we send to so we're building that as well.
Emma Peacock 26:29
Cool. And then tell us more about how you work with Pinterest?
Kim Dow 26:35
Okay, so yeah, so this is a focus that we, you know, really kind of zoned in on this year, because, like the types of articles that we do, the lifestyle articles, a lot of the business articles, a lot of style articles, travel, you know, travel articles, all of that are really resources that people are looking on via Pinterest, and they're using Pinterest as a search engine. And, you know, Pinterest also is a majority women used search engine, although it is definitely broadening and expanding. But so that's our market. That's our target audience right there. So we've been working with Tailwind. Tailwind, and Pinterest for scheduling pins. We've added to all of our articles, we have a pin, you know, pinnable images, specifically for Pinterest, and then we'll create some of our own multiple ones. And we just have kind of a schedule going. Definitely, with our new content, we'll you know, reschedule those, but also with some of our seasonal content, we have some seasonal things that we do. We've been exploring Pinterest groups. So that's something new that we're kind of seeing how it works. But at the end of the year, we'll take a look, I can tell you right now that when we started focusing, you know, from the beginning of this year to now till now, Pinterest is now our second, our our second highest traffic source. So it's definitely something is working. They're just a matter of, you know, that was where That's where our target audience is. So we're gonna continue to try to grow that side of it.
Emma Peacock 28:22
Yeah, for sure. And is it just that after you create the content, that's where you're sharing it? Or is there parts of the content that are led by what people are looking for on Pinterest?
Kim Dow 28:34
Both. So it's both so we we've been, you know, really keeping an eye on Pinterest, Pinterest releases a trends, trends analysis and trends reports, for each month, as well as for the entire year. So we are always looking at that. We it's a hard balance, though, you know, we don't want to create articles just to create articles on a topic that is trendy, we want to create articles that are thought-provoking and needed and great resources for our readership. And sometimes, a lot of times they align sometimes they don't. So it is a balance of, you know, writing some of the articles that data has shown us that people are looking for and then also writing some of the articles that that we think are really important, and maybe the data isn't there quite yet. But we think that it's really important that our readers know about certain things. So it is that kind of fine, fine balance.
Emma Peacock 29:34
Hmm, yeah. And I guess the other thing too, about those Pinterest trend reports is that they're really helpful. But sometimes the trends that are happening maybe aren't maybe not quite so much for your business, particularly with the magazine, but sometimes those trends aren't quite relevant for the business that you have. And so, like I find, particularly with holidays, by the time holiday content hits I needed to have talked to my clients about it, you know, six months prior. So there's that thing of looking through it, looking at it through the lens of your own business and kind of figuring out what, what's going to work for you what you can just kind of go like, Oh, that's cool. Moving right along. Yeah, and seeing how that goes, but not letting it sway, like, everything that you do, and really taking into account how it will work for your business. I think that's a core part of every strategy, but especially something like that, where you can kind of go down a tangent of a specific topic, and it may or may not be so great for your business. Yeah.
Kim Dow 30:43
Yeah, yeah, we're always whenever we're, whenever we're coming up with, you know, content ideas, or editorial calendars, we always want it to align with, you know, our overall mission, which is giving women the resources that they that they need, and want in a very truthful manner, you will never read anything negative or from a negative or scare tactic perspective on Sass Magazine. So we, you know, we're not going to do some of those topics that might, even though they might work, that's just not our mission, we're always looking for the positive side of things. So yeah, any any trends or reports or data? We're not going to follow it or pursue it unless it aligns with those values?
Emma Peacock 31:31
Yeah, totally. And then how are you approaching social media? What platforms are you using there?
Kim Dow 31:39
So mainly, we're using Instagram and Facebook. Occasionally, we will use LinkedIn for some of our more professional, focused articles, we have found that, for us, Instagram is a great way for us to just kind of engage with our audience. You know, for empowering women type messaging, for showcasing other women owned businesses. It's not necessarily a, you know, revenue generating aspect, social media aspect for us. But we always had to find the balance of revenue, and advertising. But we can't get that revenue in advertising unless we have the readership. So we're, we always have, you know, two audiences that we that we always have to keep in mind. So Instagram we use for empowering, empowering women type posts, we're at SassMagazine on Instagram, please follow us. And then Facebook, we do, you know, content posts on Facebook. But what we've really found that Facebook works for us is for our events, that is the way that when we're having events that a lot of our attendees find out about it is through Facebook. So we even though we you know, post content on Facebook to keep our page active and to have resources there really where that falls in is with those events.
Emma Peacock 33:10
hmm. Yeah, that makes sense. And then kind of just creating the content while sharing the content that is the right fit for LinkedIn as and when, as and when you have a yeah, yeah, it is that balance of, of readership. And then that means engaging with your existing readership, and getting in front of new people. And then there's also the connections, advertising, promoting the events, all of those kinds of things. Yeah, it's that like, build it, and they will come but there needs to be the people there for it to really work.
Kim Dow 33:47
But know where, but know where you need to build it.
Emma Peacock 33:51
Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Um, cool. And then with your emails, are they kind of like a summary of what's being shared on the website? Like letting people know when there's a new maybe magazine coming up so that they can subscribe if they aren't particularly subscribed? How do you kind of go at that content?
Kim Dow 34:18
Yeah, so yeah, our emails, our weekly emails, they're, they're a mix, we always have some content that's on our website. It's not necessarily always the newest content. So all most of the articles and content on our site are evergreen. So we might do a, you know, each weekly email might be centered around a certain theme, and we're finding relevant content within that theme, if we have an event that might go with that theme. So we try to be really strategic in our email newsletters, and we're becoming more strategic, I would say each week with those. But yeah, it's also a way for us to notify our, our readers when a new when a new issue comes out. When a new event is, you know, tickets are available for new event, we sometimes will highlight potential jobs like virtual jobs, sometimes we'll highlight sometimes we'll highlight some curated products that we really, that we really like or want to share. So it's it's a mix. Really, it's kind of a, we're hoping to make it a resource for just interesting content, and like curated content, basically.
Emma Peacock 35:34
Yeah, I think that's really important in terms of making it different and having it you know, things are collected by themes or sharing something new and different, because sometimes what people can start to kind of think, as a subscriber, I know, I think when I see some emails that I get from some, you know, blog style websites, is that it is just kind of like a digest of what they've, what they've posted. And if I've been to the website, then I don't really feel a pull to open the email. Yeah. And so over time, then I become, you know, less looking at the emails, and then it gets to a point where I'm subscribed, and maybe I'm not connecting too much on the email. And then sometimes I'll unsubscribe eventually. So it's like keeping people interested in a different format, so that they don't just feel like they're seeing the same thing everywhere, too. As much as there's just a little bit of like fatigue there, I guess that comes when people feel like they're seeing the same thing on different places. So it's really interesting to hear that you're kind of approaching each different platform with kind of like a completely different approach. Yeah, and just doing what suits the platform.
Kim Dow 36:54
Yep. It's interesting. It's also exhausting. Because yes, it's a different strategy for each one. But that's how, you know, it kind of has to be they're not, they're not, it's not a one size fits all, for all of these different platforms. And people want, people who are on the different platforms want their information in different ways. So we have to adapt to give them give it to them that way. I will say our e-newsletter, one, one also thing that's fun about it is one subscribers to our e-newsletter, you know, get access to our free online publication, the digital version of the magazine. And they also get first dibs on any events, like ticket tickets for any events. And a lot of times, they'll also get discounted event tickets as well. So we do try to make our, you know, e-newsletter a perk, like being subscribed to our mailing list as a benefit, like you're getting certain things that not, not the not everybody gets.
Emma Peacock 37:53
Yeah, for sure I like that perk. That's cool. Like the exclusivity of it, but in a fun way. Yeah. And then how do you? Do you do yourself any advertising to across like social media or anything like that to grow that following or, uh, send traffic, reengage people, any of that kind of tactic.
Kim Dow 38:15
Um, so we've dabbled in it a bit, we definitely will use some advertising, when we have some of our bigger events. That's one way that we've used it. As well as if we have you know, if we've seen like a decline in engagement or, or like, you know, increase in follow followers, then we'll sometimes, you know, do just a general general, like advertising on social media just for this is who we are type things. So yeah, I will say that we don't have necessarily like a set strategy for that. So that will probably be something that we look at in 2022. It's more of a, okay, this is an option for us, if we're seeing that we need to do it.
Emma Peacock 39:08
Yeah, yeah. And that's a good way to approach it as using it when you need it. But not necessarily just having something running in the background. But, you know, you're not necessarily focusing on to. Yeah, and then how are you finding those events to sponsor? Do people approach you? Or is it just that you're connected in the community, so you kind of find out about them that way?
Kim Dow 39:30
I would say both. A lot of it is, you know, the, for the local events, it's a lot of just connecting and people you know, reach out and then also people reach out to us. The hard thing is, you know, we the hard thing is, people think we're a lot bigger than we are it's not a bad problem to have. But we get so many requests for either sponsorships or collaborations or, you know, feature my feature my story type thing. And we just can't say yes to all of them, so we really have to any of those, any of those times that were approached, we have to always look at it through the lens of our mission. So we, we usually only sponsor events that are women oriented or women driven. And we also, you know, stories are, are just about stories that empower women, essentially.
Emma Peacock 40:27
It's good to have that filter as the basis. And then what do you do? If you do go back to people and let them know that you won't be? Or is it more just like an out of office that says, like, you know, like automatic response that says, we'll come back to you if, if we are interested, how do you manage that?
Kim Dow 40:46
It kind of depends. So if it's somebody who's just, you know, cold, cold reaching out to us, one thing I will say is, I usually don't respond on the like, the first time they email me, if they're pitching me something, if they really mean it, they'll, they'll follow up. So that's just a little tidbit to anybody who is pitching Sass or probably any other publication or podcast or media source. For the, you know, for the local things, people that we we know of or who have reached out to us specifically to us, I will respond to them and just explain to them, you know, this sounds like a really great event or nonprofit or, you know, initiative, but it just doesn't fit in our, in our wheelhouse. And a lot of times, because we have met, and I've learned, and I've connections with so many people, a lot of times I will also try to refer them to somebody who might be able to help them out.
Emma Peacock 41:48
Um, and then how do you reach out to your advertisers? How do you get them onboard? Is it sending out that media kit? Is it meeting them? And networking? How do you approach that?
Kim Dow 41:59
All of the above. A lot of times, you know, it cold, cold emails or cold calls, a lot of times it is just having to network and meet them in person and really get to know their business and their, their marketing and advertising goals. And then we have advertisers who are reaching out to us as well. So it's a really, it's a really big mix. One of the things that we always ask when somebody, either when we're reaching out to somebody, or when somebody comes to us is we the first question we ask is, what are their goals? Who's their market? And what are their goals? We want to make sure, we don't just want you know, as much as I would love to have tons of revenue, we don't want a company advertising in our magazine that won't really see any ROI on it. So we do want to make sure that our advertisers are aligned with our readership. And what we do is we get really creative on things. So you know, women's magazine, women's lifestyle, you know, the things that comes to mind, beauty style, maybe family stuff, relationship stuff. But we we don't want to, you know, and yes, we have, we have all of those, but we get creative, you know, in terms of one of our big advertisers is an automotive and tire company. And that's not something you might associate with women. But really, it's intimidating as a woman to go to a mechanic or auto body or you know, get your tire change when you might not know about it. So we work with them and they do specific ads that are geared towards women. So we have a lot of advertisers that are like that, where we get really creative, so that they are they are strategizing how to talk to our readership our niche instead of just trying to talk to everybody.
Emma Peacock 43:52
Yeah, I think that also, that also just shows off how smart that company is, in terms of like, we have this whole demographic that we aren't necessarily engaging with, with people who potentially aren't being brought in by their partner, their father, their whatever. How can we get in front of these people? Because as much as women don't necessarily feel as confident, stereotypically walking into a mechanic. We drive cars, we, we need tires. So it's as much as like you see the ad and it might be like, Oh, okay, this is not what I was expecting. The person who's reading it still has the need for that for that product. And so it's about the positioning.
Kim Dow 44:39
Exactly. And the good thing what kind of sets us makes us unique is because we have that experience in the branding and design and marketing we can really help guide our clients to come up with those that marketing strategy too since we also really know our audience and our readership. So we tried to really work with them to come up with a strategy that will work. They don't always listen to us, which is fine. But we can help them when needed.
Emma Peacock 45:07
Hmm. And do you find that they often tailor make the ad for the, for the piece? Or are they more like, this is our thing that we put in a magazine?
Kim Dow 45:21
I'd say it's about 50/50. Yeah, I'd say it's about 50/50. So, and we actually do a lot of the ad designs for our advertisers as well, because again, we have the whole design side of things. So that's another perk that we can offer our advertisers. And when we design the ads, you know, we definitely design them with our readership in mind.
Emma Peacock 45:41
In terms of say, like lapsed subscribers, or anything in terms of like the magazine, how do you do have any kind of marketing that you do around that, to keep people subscribed? To go back to people? Do you remind them when it's renewing? How do you keep people subscribed? How does that work?
Kim Dow 46:07
So I would say, this is definitely something that we have to work on. Because we don't necessarily have anything set in place. Like we don't have an email sequence for when we see people not active on our, you know, on our e-newsletters. When people's magazine subscriptions run out, we do try to notify them, it's a little hard because, you know, we're essentially like, we're not, we're not a big company, we're essentially like stuffing magazines and envelopes ourselves and mailing them with a mail label and a stamp. Because we don't have a big enough subscribership to go through a mail service provider, or printer, commercial printer for mailing. So we do we are we have started really focusing on that more where we'll you know, we'll send a little note into people or this last issue time around because a lot of people's subscriptions lapsed over COVID in during the pandemic because everything you know, everything was it's like nothing was normal. So we, you know, we sent out just as a little gift to some of our past subscribers the latest issue to try to get them to you know, reengage. But it's definitely not something that we have a process for right now. And it's something that we need to focus on.
Emma Peacock 47:29
And I guess there's a certain amount of consistency there as well. So how many issues are you doing a year?
Kim Dow 47:36
So we just do four. So we're a quarterly, quarterly publication right now. There's a chance that we might up it in the next couple of years. But as of right now, four issues keeps us really busy.
Emma Peacock 47:49
Yeah, yeah, it's that thing of like, do I go bigger? Or do I go bigger in different areas, rather than just like adding on extra issues there? Yeah.
Kim Dow 48:00
Yeah. So yeah, so right now our focus is going bigger in different areas. But we'll, we'll come back to that, you know, print publication, and we'll see what that turns into in the future.
Emma Peacock 48:14
Yeah, I mean, I feel like the world is going to change even more in the next year, then we can kind of really anticipate and then stay the same and in so many different ways because of the new things that people have adapted to and then found that they actually really enjoy. Yeah, exactly. Alrighty, so let's go into the rapid fire round. Explanations welcome. Because yeah, sometimes a couple words doesn't quite cover it. So where, where do you get the most of your website traffic from?
Kim Dow 48:50
Mostly, it's organic, Google, and then Pinterest.
Emma Peacock 48:55
What is your favorite place on the internet right now?
Kim Dow 48:59
I really like Instagram.
Emma Peacock 49:01
What are you looking forward to the most in the next year of business?
Kim Dow 49:08
Vacation? No. Okay. I look forward to seeing how the pandemic has really shifted business in a more permanent sense than than the past 18, 18 months or two years. So I'm really curious to see because we you know, we're still all technically in kind of a survival mode right now. So when we are out of that survival mode I'm really curious to see what comes out of it. That is long long standing.
Emma Peacock 49:46
Yeah, I feel like the in the industry we kind of know where it will probably go is ecommerce and that's just that it will grow. But yeah, so many other things that could could go so many different ways, in different parts of the world as well. Yeah. So if someone is listening to this episode and they want to grow their online content business, what is the one thing you recommend they do next?
Kim Dow 50:15
I recommend that they make sure that they research and know about SEO. Because as you're creating content unless people are reading it, there's no reason to continue to do like, recreate, recreate, recreate, I would also tell them to try to create evergreen content that they can update and repurpose and reuse on a bunch of different platforms. So always think about not just the one off thing, but how can you use that in multiple ways. It'll save you a lot of time and effort that way, and it'll get across to a much broader audience.
Emma Peacock 51:01
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host Emma Peacock, and today our guest was Kim Dow of Sass Studios and Sass Magazine. You can find out more at sass-collective.com and read articles and subscribe to the magazine or email list at sassmagazine.com. If you're enjoying the podcast, I'd love it if you could share it with a friend or on Instagram and tag us at honeypotdigital. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast in handy tips for small businesses marketing online head to honeypotdigital.com.