Back in the day, Michaela Clark had quite a glamorous career.
She worked in radio station promotions, and her job involved international travel and mingling with celebrities. Every day was different.
Then she became a mom. When her second child was diagnosed with autism, she knew she needed to make a drastic change, and she left her promotions job.
Within a span of a few short years, she went from mingling with celebs to changing diaper after diaper. Around this time, a friend suggested she look into becoming a virtual assistant.
The new career suited her life — her work was flexible, and she could do it from home.
But that wasn’t enough for her.
She took all her career experience and created something much, much bigger. And she did it by choosing the right niche for her online business.
Michaela’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. Read all the Hero’s Journey posts here.
Now hear how Michaela’s story has played out, directly from Michaela.
First off, let’s learn a new word: “tradies”
Michaela Clark: My business provides a range of services that help building contractors, such as plumbers and electricians (affectionately known as “tradies” in Australia), grow their businesses and build lasting assets.
Our core business is Tradies VA, the only specialized virtual assistant and phone answering service for trade contractors in Australia.
In addition, I co-host the number-one podcast for tradies with Warrick Bidwell. It’s called the Tradies Business Show. We also founded an online membership community called the Tradies Business Toolkit.
The advantages and challenges of being first to market with a new idea
Michaela Clark: We are the first and only business to offer a subscription-based, virtual phone answering and job booking service in Australia.
First-to-market certainly has its opportunities, but educating an industry on a new product also has its challenges.
We have really seen the benefits of focusing our content marketing around providing useful, valuable information to a specific niche.
A novel combination of online and offline services
Michaela Clark: We provide a range of both offline and online products for our contractor clients that are designed to help them work less and have more time to do what they love.
Our audience is full of excellent technicians who are great at doing the hard labor, but they don’t necessarily have the skills required to build a long-term, sustainable business.
Throughout our content, membership site, and virtual assistance services, we try to make running their businesses as easy as possible.
A business born out of major life challenges
Michaela Clark: I used to work in radio station promotions (which I loved), and I thought I’d never do anything else. I got to travel overseas and never knew which celebrity I would meet that day. I had so much fun in that job!
Then I got married and, soon after, kids came along. Having a family and working long hours was tough, and when my second child was diagnosed with autism, I knew I had to let that career go.
Here I was, meeting KISS or Keith Urban one day, and the next day I was sitting at home wiping dirty bums.
I got bored really quickly and went looking for work I could do from home. That was when someone suggested I consider becoming a virtual assistant, or VA.
Word soon spread that I was working from home, and luckily clients started pouring in.
Before I knew it, I had a full-time VA business that was completely flexible, allowing me to schedule work around the kids.
It was hard work when the children were young. I remember talking on the phone to Microsoft about a job and my two-year-old started peeing right next to me in the office — there was nothing I could do but be grateful Skype video wasn’t around back then!
How focusing on a “super niche” made all the difference
Michaela Clark: The biggest difference to the business has been the decision to super niche our content. Our content is targeted towards building and trade contractors who have between one and ten employees.
Things began to change immediately once I focused on delivering highly relevant and regular content to this slice of the market. I began to blog more and started to produce a biweekly business podcast just for trade contractors called the Tradies Business Show.
I quickly realized it’s not about the quantity of readers I was attracting, but rather the quality.
The power of super niching lies in the fact that it makes you highly relevant to those readers who matter — the ones who need your help the most.
By changing our content strategy, we have been able to develop additional revenue streams, attract high-profile speaking engagements, secure national sponsorships, and develop strategic partner relationships that will significantly increase the distribution of our products — for little or no financial investment.
How to use content to get in front of key decision makers
Michaela Clark: One of the business’s strategic goals was to attract joint venture partnerships.
It was essential to help us market and deliver our core VA services on a one-to-many basis — scaling up the business so we could help as many clients as possible was a key focus moving forward.
The challenge was how to get in front of partners that have large databases, who could promote our products for us and potentially become resellers. Just calling them up and asking to meet their CEOs wasn’t going to cut it!
That was when the Tradies Business Show podcast was born.
With the show, we could interview potential partners and offer them an opportunity to promote their services.
We provided guests with content to share with their databases, while promoting our show as well.
Once this value proposition was established, it was much easier to begin discussions about our business and the potential benefits of partnering with us.
In only a few months, this strategy had the potential to be worth millions of dollars to our business.
We were the first podcast to talk to this market and quickly went to number one in our categories.
It was great to find a platform that could not only reach our audience but also make a connection with them, especially when they are not online much due to the nature of their jobs.
Which Rainmaker Digital products do you use, and how do you use them?
Michaela Clark: I’ve learned how to become a better writer and an influencer in my industry through the Authority community.
In addition, I’ve increased conversions and website traffic after a website redesign using a premium WordPress theme from StudioPress.
Lessons learned and information gained from the Rainmaker.FM shows has been critical to the success of our podcast. I’ve learned how to use content to become an influencer and how to provide value to our listeners.
Expansion plans: new products, training, and more
Michaela Clark: My goal is to continue to build authority in our industry, as well as expand both our online and offline products. We have a range of digital products planned in the near future that will help our clients achieve the goal of getting them “off the tools” and into true business ownership.
In addition, we’re looking for new ways to provide value to the members of our Tradies Business Toolkit, particularly in the areas of video and online training.
I am excited about the growth and direction that podcasting is taking in our industry and want to integrate podcast sponsorship in a way that provides value to both the sponsor as well as our listeners.
And I’m the co-founder of the first podcasting conference in the Southern Hemisphere, We Are Podcast, happening on the Gold Coast of Australia in November 2015.
Michaela’s recommendation? Go beyond the numbers
Michaela Clark: Remember your content is about connecting with the right readers, so forget about numbers and focus on becoming insanely useful to your audience.
Also, think outside of just getting more and more readers for your content, and look for other opportunities, such as attracting joint venture partners, sponsorships, or industry alliances to help build your influence.
Find Michaela Clark online …
Thanks to Michaela for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.
We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.