Francesca Marano’s WordPress business became successful and greatly increased her income. So much so that she started sharing business advice with over 35,000 hopefuls on C+B. Since she gave a business plan workshop at WordCamp Nijmegen, I took the chance to pick her brain on her journey so that business owners using Plesk can follow.
1. How did you get the idea for your niche business?
The niche kind of found me to be honest. I started tweaking my mommy blog for fun and after a while I got some requests from other ladies that wanted similar blogs for their hobbies or new businesses. When I started freelancing as a side gig I knew I would have been more comfortable talking to an audience that I empathize with: women in their late thirties, with a business idea they are passionate about. The only difference between them and me is that I was the one that had the technical knowledge to help them build an online presence 🙂
2. What was your goal at the start and did you reach it?
When I started my goal was pretty simple: make a decent living with my business. At first I did really poorly: in fact, I had to go back to work full time because I didn’t make any money. But somehow I kept getting asked to do websites. So after a few months, I decided to give it a go again.
But this time I did the one thing that changed everything for me: a business plan. It helped me focus on what mattered to me, give the right price to my services over the year, and become clear on my offerings. I did reach my income goal every year, thanks to careful planning.
3. To what do you owe your skills and success?
In my first job, I had a demanding, yet nurturing boss who taught me how to interact with customers, write emails, and use an agenda. She had a thing for extreme tidiness. So I had to clean my desk every night before going home so I could start with the right attitude in the morning. We had the most pristine office in the building and I had developed great organizational skills.
However, I’m curious by nature and always found this to be an advantage, in any job I had. I learn fast and I’m enthusiastic about new adventures. All these traits combined helped me a lot in my professional life.
4. How hard do you find it to stand out?
Marketing myself was definitely my biggest challenge. I love being behind the scenes, making things happen – more than talking about them. So I never really enjoyed social media. There’s too much noise – too many people that are better at marketing themselves than they are at doing their job. Social networks though are quite important to promote your businesses if you’re a freelancer. So I use them, but I always preferred blogs and newsletters.
5. What was the most rewarding thing about running your own business?
Having people writing me to say how much they appreciated what I wrote and how much my books helped them, especially those I wrote for creative technophobes. Lovely testimonials from past clients. Actually getting the job at SiteGround because my commitment to WordPress was also recognized by my employer.
6. Were you ever in situations where you had to turn down a client?
Yes, at some point I had so much work that I had to turn down a few clients. Also, saying no to initiatives that don’t represent my values. Like speaking at conferences or writing for other websites that didn’t align with my business.
7. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Reach for the stars and plan your route there carefully 🙂 Don’t improvise, especially with finances and pricing. And believe in yourself, always.
Where can you find Francesca Marano?
Francesca is the WordPress Community Manager at the web hosting company – SiteGround. She’s also the representative of the WordPress Community Team and she is the founder of C+B, a blog with an editorial staff of sixty authors offering advice to thousands of Italian female creative entrepreneurs that reads it every month.
She’s a passionate speaker and you can find her talking about WordPress, community, open source, women in tech and small businesses – in Italy and around the world.
Francesca says “It doesn’t matter what your financial goal for the year is, or what your mission for your small business is, having measurable goals and a clear strategy will allow you to do what you love and make a living out of it.