iMarketer Spotlight: Meet Marketing Business Owner Allie Heemstra
Allie Heemstra is a former third-grade teacher turned marketing business owner! Allie is 30 years old and lives in Arcata, California, where she is making the full-time leap from freelance writer/subcontractor to full-on Boss Lady.
We sat down with Allie to learn more about her journey to becoming an iMarketer.
Q: Tell us a little bit about you and your career/professional background.
A: I spent the first five years of my professional career as a third-grade teacher. I loved so many aspects of that job but got really burned out with the increasing demands and narrow margin. I firmly believe that life is too short to stay in a job where my heart’s not in it, so I mustered up the courage to try something new.
The freelance lifestyle really intrigued me, so I became a content marketer. Writing blogs and website content for small businesses was surprisingly similar to teaching. I spend my time being curious about new ideas and concepts and trying to find creative ways to communicate them clearly to an audience with a short attention span!
Q: What led you to the decision to become an iMarketer? Will you be jumping into it full-time or gradually easing in?
A: I started out writing a lot of blog posts and newsletters for small businesses. Pretty quickly, I discovered that my clients knew they needed to have content for their customers, but very few were clear about where their marketing was headed. They were missing the clarity of who they were and what unique value they had to offer.
The projects where I got to identify a company’s brand voice and shape the overall vision became the most energizing projects. After finding this sweet spot, shifting into an iMarketer role was a logical next step. Right now, I’m preparing to gradually shift from subcontractor to project manager by learning all I can and looking for easy opportunities to bring others on as subcontractors.
Q: What struggles have you had during the transition? What triumphs have you had?
A: During any transition of growth, feelings of self-doubt and fear are certain to crop up. For example, this fall I started teaching a marketing class to a group of 30+ business owners. I was beyond excited for the opportunity, and telling everyone I knew about it. One person responded to my news with a hesitant, “I don’t want to sound condescending, but how are you qualified to teach business owners how to market their businesses? Didn’t you go to school to be an elementary teacher?”
This question echoed the Impostor Syndrome I’d been fighting from day one. As I shift from a behind-the-scenes freelance writer to iMarketer boss lady, it’s as if I have one foot firmly planted in ambitious confidence, but the other foot remains in doubt and fear of being found out as a fraud.
But guess what? A moment of triumph came right on the heels of this moment of self-doubt. I squared my shoulders, took a deep breath, and confidently told her all the reasons why I was the perfect person to be teaching that class.
Q: Has anything surprised you about the experience?
A: I’ve been surprised by the breadth of subjects and content areas I end up writing about. It’s important to find your niche, but for me, it was helpful to start out being open to most things that came my way. I found if I could choose to be curious about a topic, I could find fun ways to communicate even the most boring of subjects.
I’ve written about the importance of finding fiduciary financial advisors and tips for how to pick a plumber. I’ve written websites for churches, construction companies, and classical music events. Each project taught me important writing and marketing skills that translate across fields. At first, I thought I’d get burned out by the less thrilling topics, but I discovered that as long as there is mutual respect between me and the client, I’m good to go.
Q: I understand you’re going to be doing some coaching with Samantha, our “Original iMarketer.” Can you tell us about that and why you see the coaching as being particularly valuable for you?
A: The freelance world really is an apprenticeship-based business. I work from home, so I have to be proactive about finding people to help me think through the challenges of this work. I learned so much through working as a subcontractor on Samantha’s team, so when she launched iMarketer, I was pumped to be able to learn more about her business model.
The iMarketer Blueprint Guide and all the resources she created were helpful tools in being able to create a framework for scaling. The one-on-one support I get from coaching is so valuable. I love having a set-aside time to get tailored support for the big questions on my mind and wisdom in how to untangle all the nitty-gritty details.
Q: Any advice for other future iMarketers out there who are trying to figure out if — or when — to make the transition?
A: ABN: Always Be Networking. In the six months before I quit teaching, I tried to network as much as possible. I tried to reach out to at least one person a week, (writers, editors, people in the marketing world) and ask them to coffee so I could pick their brain about how to become a writer.
So many of those conversations helped shape how I now approach my job. And a lot of those coffee dates turned into work opportunities down the road as well! Joining my local Chamber of Commerce, attending conferences or seminars, and strategically following up with people I meet continues to be my most effective form of marketing for my business.
(Want to get started on the iMarketer path like Allie? The Blueprint Guide she mentioned is the perfect place to start. ALSO, we have a little more about professional networking here and here, which has been key for Allie and will be key for you, too.
PLUS, we did a special Facebook Live interview with Allie earlier this month that you’ll love. Check it out here.)