Today, I have another success story – this time from an amazing mom, illustrator and author. Stephanie Johnson has an important message to share with the world and I’ve been honored to be a part of her journey.
One of my favorite things about Stephanie’s story is her creative approach to marketing her children’s book. Her determination and confidence are an inspiration to any new business owner.
Here are some of Stephanie’s highlights:
- Launched her business while staying home with two little ones.
- Pre-sold her first 50 books with only a rough draft in her hand.
- Sold over 700 copies of her children’s book and earned $3000 in one month.
- Started spreading a message she cares deeply about – one book at a time.
You can find Stephanie’s book on Amazon here: You Are… what will your child’s inner narrative sound like?
And find out more about Stephanie on her website: mommymotions.com.
Keep reading for Stephanie’s story…
Can you tell us about yourself and your business?
Hi there! My name is Stephanie. I’m a work at home mom with two little ones.
My business is writing, illustrating and marketing social-emotional children’s books. My books teach children to look inside themselves for the strength and courage to thrive as the beautifully capable and uniquely talented individuals they are.
Why did you decide to start your business?
Two reasons really – both are personal missions.
First, I want all children to hear simple, positive messaging from the people they look up to. Starting at an early age – even before their reading skills have developed.
All of us need genuine love, support and encouragement so that we know and feel it and don’t need to seek it externally. I’m fascinated by our inner narratives and how they help or hinder our everyday decisions both as children and as adults.
You know the saying, “Your thoughts become your words, actions, character, destiny…”? We have a gift as caretakers which is the ability to help shape our child’s destiny. I started this business with a goal to help foster this gift.
My second reason is I want to support my family financially while not compromising my time with them. When writing children’s books, every day can be take-your-child-to-work day!
Staying home with my kids – while earning an income – is vital to me.
Was there anything holding you back from starting your business?
Is this a trick question? Ha! Yes, of course. Fear of the unknown, cash flow, time management…you name it.
There were many unknowns that I won’t say held me back, but they certainly gave me pause. I was so naïve. I thought I could bring the story that lived in my mind and on my children’s ears to every family with little cost, time, etc. After all, the story was already written, right? How hard could it be?
After a year of hard work, late nights, and figuring things out, my book has finally been released. I was overwhelmed so many times starting out that I’m very grateful to have my first book finished!
What was the most challenging part and how did you overcome it?
Without a doubt my biggest challenge was not knowing where to begin and finding so much information to sift through online. I ended up feeling lost, watching countless hours of tutorials.
That changed when I met Sally.
It was like a weight was lifted off me. I had one place to find everything I needed to do pre-launch. I felt so clear knowing the action steps and when to do them. Sally’s launch spreadsheet was a huge “ah ha!” moment in my process.
How did you sell your first books?
I sold my first 50 books with only a rough draft of the book in hand to a local children’s salon – while my kids were getting haircuts.
I booked another reading and author signing at a local kid’s toy store with only the image on my phone of a cat looking at its lion reflection.
Both sales ended in tears – not mine but the shop owners. This was my first YES and it felt incredible!
My third success was seeing the need for simple to read children’s menus at local restaurants. Little kids order from pictures – not words they haven’t learned to read yet.
I asked a restaurant owner if I could use my brand logo on their menu in exchange for them selling my book at the cash register. I also offered to do the graphic design of a children’s menu at no charge to help boost their family business.
The owner said yes right away.
Would you mind sharing how many books you’ve sold so far?
I launched less than a month ago and have sold over 700 books, earning just shy of $3,000. Most of this has been in person, plus some sales through Amazon’s KDP platform.
Going forward my strategy is four-fold and evolving as I learn.
First, every business I shop at (and love) is selling my book. I say something like:
“Hey, do you ever support local authors? This may be out of the blue, but I adore your shop. I’m a local author looking for ways to support local businesses and gain exposure to like-minded people. I could grab a copy of my book for you to look at and see if it would be a great fit for your clients. And if not, no biggie – you’ll still see me in here every Tuesday.”
Then I quietly hand over my book. This has worked at hair salons, wildlife sanctuaries and liquor stores. Everywhere I spend money.
Second, I’m contacting local and national news producers and influencers. I’ve found that mentioning, “I’m local and can be camera ready at your studio within an hour” is enticing. Particularly if you’re an expert in your field and a spot opens up unexpectedly.
Third, I’m working to schedule an appearance at seminars where I can have direct contact with many people at one time.
The last strategy is asking for ideas from everyone I meet. People have been more supportive and insightful than I could’ve imagined. I had a colleague that said, “I know the contact at Chick Fil A corporate purchasing, would you like me to introduce you?” Uhhhh yes please!
(Note from Sally: Stephanie is constantly innovating and trying new ideas to market her book. This is key to her continuing success.)
What are you most looking forward to over the next 12 months?
I’m looking forward to my ground work paying off. I’m confident that every action will cause a positive chain reaction…this ripple effect only grows with time.
Right now, I’m focused on daily actions that support the bigger picture. I’m creating a coloring book that will be cheaper to print than my children’s color book. This will help me generate more revenue to grow my business more quickly.
I’m also visiting Ronald McDonald House this Mother’s Day weekend to pay tribute to my late, younger brother (he’s the cheetah in my book). I’ll be donating books to every family at three different houses.
Finally, I’ll be doing another big give to Alex’s Lemonade Stand at the July Northwestern Mutual Annual Meeting.
My kids join me on all these outings. And my biggest joy is that my young children are seeing mommy doing work she believes in.
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