Some things I learnt when I met Donna Hay on Zoom...(while my dodgy internet made me sound like I had taken too many sleeping tablets and there was a mouse plague that I was pretending not to notice).
I imagined Donna would be a perfectionist and super smart and business-savvy but I did not know that Donna Hay would be funny. She is funny.
Her studio kitchen makes the greatest Zoom backdrop ever. I would like a digital wallpaper version for my Zoom screen. I think we all would. Especially those of us with the aforementioned mouse issue.
A highly engaged audience is more valuable than readership figures. To paraphrase Donna, it’s not so much about the number of people who see what you do, but rather the number of people who engage with what you do.
Donna encouraged me to not compete with old-school publishing that hasn’t changed for 50 years – they are going broke for good reason. The traditional push model (where newsagencies and supermarkets only pay for what they sell and discard the rest) means a significant number of magazines – often 40 per cent of the print run - become landfill. A direct sales model reduces this wastage.
Donna emphasised how important it is to use social media to bounce readers back to your website. If you’re going to share valuable content, do it on your website. Social media is a great funnel, but it’s worth investing the time and resources to make your website the hub of your online presence. And don’t overlook Pinterest. It’s an especially valuable tool to reach younger audiences.
When I complained ‘it’s not print that’s expensive, it’s shipping’, Donna suggested I think about forming a partnership with an established online retailer who is already shipping to the people I want to reach. There could be a mutual benefit in joining forces.
Donna also - and somehow kindly - hinted that my desire to over-deliver might actually be exhausting my readers. Readers want to relax and escape and feel good. She also said that it was important for business owners to not create unrealistic workloads and burn out completely.
The How I Built It podcast is great for business start-up inspiration, said Donna, in particular the two episodes with Whitney Wolfe whose dating app Bumble went public with a hugely successful $13 billion IPO.
Donna was incredibly generous with her time and her knowledge. I have no idea how BFTB organised such a valuable mentoring session, but I am very grateful. Thank you.
Annabelle Hickson, athor, pecan farmer and founder of Galah Press, recently had a one-on-one mentoring session with Donna Hay as part of BFTB's professional mentoring program. Annabelle's beautiful magazine Galah is available to purchase now on the marketplace. If you have suggestions for kind, generous and expert mentors, please send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can find out more about Donna Hay and pine over her delicious food here.