We recently caught up with one of our amazing sellers, Justin Martin, who is Head of Operations at Parent Co., a content masterpiece aimed at helping parents. In this Founder Journey, Justin shares:
- How Parent Co. got started
- How Justin himself transformed from minor league hockey to entrepreneurship
- How Parent Co. has leveraged Instagram to grow their audience
- His advice for other entrepreneurs (like yourself)
What is Parent Co.?
Parent Co. is a digital publication created to be useful “For All Parent-kind” We curate thoughtful content that parents can use in their everyday lives as they navigate their way through the rich experience of being a parent.
What do you do?
My name is Justin Martin, Head of Operation here at Parent Co. We have 7 full time, 3 part time employees and well over 600 different independent writers that we work with at Parent Co., all in various capacities. I help keep the business side of things in order. Budgets, forecasts, A/R, A/P, contracts, payroll, HR I wear many…many different hats day to day, which keeps my professional life exciting and fresh each and every day.
Why did you start Parent Co.?
We originally started Parent Co., as a content marketing channel for an application development business that was the original premise for Parent Co. In time we pivoted, realizing that our real strength is providing parents with useful and valuable narratives.
Why do you love doing what you do?
First and foremost, I love being a parent, I feel that it’s my most important job. I also realize how difficult parenting can be. We all deal with many of the same issues and it is great to have a place to turn to for help us with those ubiquitous “raising people” problems. I love working at Parent Co. because I know for a fact that we are making a positive difference in our readers’ lives each and every day. I am proud to tell my two boys what I do for work and am proud of the fact that we get to help millions of engaged readers that come to our site each and every month.
How did you come to be doing what you do now – what was your journey?
I never envisioned myself to running a media company, let alone a fast growing parenting website. It’s pretty cool. Like many, I had a long round about road to get here. My first job out of college was as a minor league hockey player. I have also been a mortgage loan originator, commercial real estate professional, and insurance rep for Progressive insurance. I have had many jobs that taught me about running and managing a small business, the right way to treat people. I’ve learned through these jobs that you have to try to do something you love and make a positive impact on this world. That is why my role at Parent Co. suits me so well.
How important is being able to sell online to your business?
It is imperative. Most importantly, since we are are taking a user first approach to advertising on our site. There aren’t any banner ads or display ad units on the site since we know people try to avoid them. We do not want to ruin the user experience for our readers. The ability to sell products on our site, be it our own family planning guide, or a t-shirt to a fan who just wants to support our efforts, direct sales and the ability to manage those sales will be key for our future success as a media company, at the end of the day no matter how amazing the work we do is, we must keep the lights on and our ability to collect revenue through our website will be vitally important.
Why do you use Selz?
We use Selz at Parent Co. to sell our Family Planning Guide. Think of it as a “cliff notes” for your last will and testament. The non-legal document families can use to track all of the important information in their lives. If the unthinkable happens, a family member could use this PDF to navigate bank accounts, email accounts etc. so that their family has one less thing to worry about. We will also be using it to sell Parent Co. branded items, such as t-shirts, and onesies.
It looks like you got a lot of success from Instagram, can you tell us a bit about that?
Instagram is part of our social promotion strategy. We are still learning and analyzing what works best for our readers and followers on the platform and it challenges us to think of creative ways to share our text based content and transform it into a visual representation of ideas and stories.
Can you tell us about how you got started on Instagram?
We got started on Instagram to grow our audience network. Instagram is a platform to watch; especially being part of the Facebook network. They are able to roll out new features that allow publishers and media outlets to test creative ways to share their content and engage with readers in a simple way with just likes and comments.
What do you post and how often?
We post primarily lifestyle based images,moving gifs, and our kid made recipe video series – we have run takeovers with different family photographers and we are working on testing using stories and polling to learn more about our readers.
Our posting strategy varies, as we have learned what works we post more about 5-6 times per week for now which is lean comparatively, but we want to be thoughtful about what we post and craft an overall aesthetic.
Do you use Hashtags? What are your favorite ones to use for gaining followers?
We use hashtags for all of our Parent Co Studio content and our Kid Made Video Series. For the recipes we love to use #cookingwithkids #kidfriendlycooking #kidsinthekitchen. Our Parent Co hashtag is #forallparentkid.
What content do you think converts best?
Lifestyle imagery with strong relative hashtags get people to follow us back and intrigues people to visit the link listed in our profile for whichever content we are highlighting.
Do you find that most of your sales come from people on Instagram, or do you have another source?
We consider Instagram a top of the funnel approach to our online sales strategy – exposing them to our content and growing followers creates brand loyalty and awareness and then moves them down into the sales funnel.
What advice do you have for someone just getting started on Instagram?
Take your time and create a theme and a schedule. Come up with strategic hashtags and actually use them – they really do help to expand the reach of your posts. Continue testing with different images and understanding what resonates with your followers not just what you like.
What advice do you have for hopeful entrepreneurs?
Have a plan. Always continually evaluate that plan, and never be afraid to change course or redefine your plan once you have learned other ways might be better. Businesses are constantly evolving and what might be right one day can be proven wrong the next. Continually educate yourself and take time to just think. We are all so busy all the time. It is important to take a breath and think through your day, your week, and most importantly ideas to make your business the best that it can be. Lastly, surround yourself with smarter people than you as they will keep you motivated and will constantly challenge your hypothesis.