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Vanessa Bell Mumbition the Podcast

Mumbition

The Podcast By Mums & Co

Episode 69: How content is like bolognese

Lauren Hamilton

Founder of Digital Narrative

May 30, 2023
Lauren Hamilton is the founder of marketing agency Digital Narrative. She shares some really practical tips on how to maximize exposure for your business, create a content strategy that is not overwhelming and win at networking.
DWEN

This episode is brought to you by DWEN the Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network

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Digital Narrative

DWEN Dell Women's Entrepreneur Network

Credits

Produced by - Lucy Kippist

Edited by - Morgan Brown
Interviewers - Carrie Kwan and Lucy Kippist
Guest - Lauren Hamilton

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Transcript Episode 69

Carrie Kwan (00:54.000)

We acknowledge and pay our respect to the traditional custodians of the lands and waters of NSW where we record this podcast and all aboriginal elders past, present and emerging. We love educating women on pitching with confidence and clarity and I'm really excited Lauren you're in this business of communicating and sharing stories so I'd love you to give us your best thirty second elevator pitch.

Lauren Hamilton (01:31.143)

No worries. Now I'm going to launch a new product soon so I would love to share my elevator pitch with you. If that's okay I've been practicing it, it's not exactly thirty seconds it's maybe thirty six but I'm going to give you that one. So it's called Website In One Week. When you start a new business one of the first things you need is a website. You find a web developer and they give you a big list of what they need and then it's on you to gather and create all that stuff and this part is usually a real challenge, that can be stressful, that can really slow down the business launch. The Website In One Week one week program is designed to make this part of the process a lot easier. It's an online platform that's both the learning resource and also a briefing tool and it guides business owners through producing and preparing everything they need for the website step by step. When they finish the modules we take everything they've submitted throughout and we build the website of their dreams for them in just one week and that is what I've been working on so hard.

Carrie Kwan (02:55.380)

I was just thinking back on my first website build in 2007/8 and it was a custom built website it took about three months to build. I'm sure you can probably get it on Word Press for about $30 just a template nowadays but it was such a long process. So the fact that you can get this up and running in one week where do we sign up?

Lauren Hamilton (03:42.623)

You're right, things have come a long way since then but I think the trick is that we don't start building the website until we have everything that we need and I've really identified that, that is what often bogs the process down it's not the building it's the back and forth between the client and the web development for all of the logos and the hex codes and every little thing that we don't have that we need that's really what slows the process down

Carrie Kwan (04:05.320)

okay

Lauren Hamilton (04:12.903)

So I recently built a website that took almost a year to build and it was a simple square space site only six pages but getting the information from the client and for them creating it was really painful that's one of the things that inspired me to develop this. I wanted to take that part of the process and make it easier

Lucy Kippist (04:36.420)

Lauren I wanted to talk as we kick off the interview a bit about the background as you just said in the pitch. This is a new business that's brewing but you also have another business and you also have almost a full time job so your working arrangement is becoming quite common. I’m noticing this with new members of our community. First question: do you recommend working the way that you are? So in a job and a business? and second part of that question how are you managing your energy so that you're able to go across both all of those things at once?

Lauren Hamilton (05:19.363)

It's not easy. I don't know to be honest if I would recommend it to the extent that I'm doing it. I think it's a great idea if you can find a two day a week day job. So mine's four days a week, really that's too much. I have to work one day in the week and every week end I have to get up early, at the moment I'm getting up at five to work for two hours before I start my day for my day job. Working on my own business so I don't think that's for everybody but there was really good reason for me to do that and to be honest I've done everything backwards in my career and this is just no exception. I really fell into having my business Digital Narrative just through starting out freelancing when I was on maternity leave which I think is a common situation for a lot of women but what that sort of led to, that I didn't really notice was brewing up impostor syndrome. I think part of wanting to get a day job was partly wanting to benchmark my skills or validate what I knew working for someone else in a ‘real job’ you know in inverted commas and especially during lockdown I was just sick of being in my own head and my own space I wanted an office and I wanted to go someplace and I wanted to get that validation or do something that was separate to me that was outside of my own business after a decade and test my skill in the big bad world. It's been incredibly validating and excellent from that perspective but the pace is grueling and as I say I think it's a great idea but I think you've got to probably cap at it no more than maybe two or three days a week. Unfortunately this job that I fell in love with that is fantastic I wanted to work in the sustainability space I wanted to really inspiring energizing sort of start up vibe and team and that's what I've got and I love it so I keep doing both but it is hard.

Lucy Kippist (07:23.180)

Aside from trying to achieve that ideal breakdown of the day what's something you're doing for your wellbeing to support yourself? Because as you're saying you're even working on the weekend early which I know is very common too. What's something that you've put in place to help you cope with all of that?

Lauren Hamilton (07:45.403)

One of the things I did, I started a course which I don't know if I should mention it but it's probably of course that other people have done which is an online sort of coaching and business mentoring system that I absolutely love and that you know the person that teaches that course really taught me to cut and strip all of the extraneous stuff just do what I really needed to do, stop feeling so guilty if I miss an assembly or you know be realistic you can't do absolutely everything because I have two children as well and just to put your energy where you can and I try to just do every day one thing to move my business forward even if that's only sending one email so I just have that realistic goal for myself. 

I am a really outdoors person and so I just try to be outdoors in nature as much as possible. I really love to swim. My family has a model, you never regret a swim ,you really don't so I swim around in the ocean and I just love to be outdoors and to be getting wet. It's tough to fit in, it requires quite a lot of discipline and as I said a fair a fair bit of getting up early to fit it all in but the rewards are always worth it when you do this stuff.

Carrie Kwan (09:36.920)

I just wanted to take us back to that combination of work at the moment which is really fascinating. Some people might call it the side hustle. We know that there's been an explosion of soul traders so people who perhaps during covid realized they had a little bit more time and wanted to put that energy into something outside of their day job so to speak so that combination I think is actually becoming more popular but it is sort of trying to figure out how can you actually assign enough time to all your endeavors because I definitely think there's enough there's so much to you now to gain from each job so to speak. You know people who are in corporates are finding those with side hustles or the sort of cash projects are bringing so many innovative and entrepreneurial skills into their work to their day a day job how they problem solved or how they work with people or how they you know get buy in for their ideas because when you're running a small business you need to get by and fast and you need to get people on board you know because you know I'm always thinking how can I get someone to work with me like the best talent possible now we're always trying to influence that process

so I think it's a really really fascinating mix at the moment. Do you think that's going to happen more in terms of you want to keep both?

DWEN

Lauren Hamilton (11:20.863)

I think you're absolutely right. I can see my value to an employer is greater than it was a decade ago before I started my own business. I think the resourcefulness you learn as a small business owner you can't learn that in a corporate environment. When you've always worked in corporate from what I can see is spend money to fix the problem when you're a small business owner and my business is working with other small business owners, I think on instagram profile I call myself the small business marketing queen, because I market myself, I market my clients, I live in the small business world. You become so resourceful. There are so many ways you can do things without money or with a small budget and that makes you really adaptable and able to get things done that you might not be if you've always just been able to call that department and if you offload that problem. 

I see that there's a big barrier to especially women being able to do this struggle and some of them have lifted so for me one of the key barriers that lifted that made me able to have a day job and my own business is that covid introduced my husband and his company to the concept of working from home which had been literally, completely foreign to them before covid so my husband now works two days a week at home in which he does the school run cooks dinner et cetera I go out the door really early and come back at dinner time that just couldn't happen before. We don't have family nearby. I didn't want my children to be in you know before and after care five days a week so that limited my ability to take on more challenges. So the silver lining for me of the pandemic has definitely been that a lot more companies have seen that working from home works fine and that really lends itself to being able to you know juggle those two things

Carrie Kwan (13:24.100)

You're the founder of a professional services business at the moment I would love to hear about some of the strategies you've implemented in order to protect yourself and your business from risk?

Lauren Hamilton (14:04.863)

This is really topical for me at the moment because I have developed this new product so it's not something I've thought a lot about in the past because the professional services I offered I didn't feel were you know how I do them is unique but what I'm offering wasn't especially unique but the new product that I've launched is particularly unique so I'm working at the moment with trademark lawyers to protect you know my IP and really make sure that nobody else can replicate what I've done

But what I've seen from working with other businesses and to be honest my own business is that we don't take risk seriously enough. I think we don't take it seriously enough there's a lot of flippancy around password protection there's not a lot of concern about protecting, I mean some businesses are different but really if I'm speaking generally there's not a lot of concern about protecting the privacy of subscribers and things like that and it's not that people want to

you know court risk it's just that we haven't thought about it enough until recently so it hasn't really been on the radar but it's come more on to the radar since we've had these various scandals with optics and so forth of people's details being released in a way that is really compromising it's come on to the radar for more small businesses now. 

Carrie Kwan (15:30.520)

Absolutely I think there's this gap in terms of what you don't know in this space as well and technology moved so quickly so how we're actually handling our subscribers data our customers data I think most people may not have even considered where is that data being held is it is it in your country or is it in some other country that doesn't have perhaps the same level of secure systems? Then you know just going down that sort of pathway because there's this inherent trust I think that when we sign up to something that it's going to be looked after but knowing even some of the big corporates are actually facing exactly this as well so it's bound to happen to small business too.

Lauren Hamilton (16:13.583)

Absolutely.

Lauren Hamilton (16:25.063)

I listened to podcast from your series recently actually in which I thought about risk for the first time in a different way which is sort of the financial risk of not building profitability and not investing appropriately in your business and I think that this is something that I have actually been quite bad at in the past. I'm getting better at it now but thinking about everything that you put out as a product or you know a service offering that it's protected in that it's sustainable that it's going to make enough money that you can keep replicating it and keep doing it that there's enough profit to pay yourself that there's enough profit to you know cover essential programs and essential parts of your business that you need to buy I think that that's a really smart way of thinking about risk as well.

Carrie Kwan (17:17.460)

Can I add in the sort of process how have you found any resources that have been useful on that journey?

Lauren Hamilton (17:31.863)

I am just at the start of it right now so I can tell you in a month's time hopefully. I'm just beginning it now and it's definitely confusing. I feel like somebody needs to invent a website in one week style online module for this where it hand holds you and just breaks down every step and a lot of jargon because there's a lot of jargon so yeah check back in a month and I'll tell you how it's done.

Lucy Kippist (17:57.200)

Actually Lauren I have someone within our community that I can introduce you to that's very very very good on that I'm just talking to her at the moment so that's an aside let me get back to you with that.

Lauren Hamilton (18:10.303)

Amazing yes please as those details and I do know somebody that I need to talk to as well in the Mums & Co community about this . I've been around Mums & Co for a long time so I know a lot of people now in the network.

Carrie Kwan (18:32.220)

I may have loaded that question a little bit because I know that IP Australia doing some great work in this space and there's something called a TM checker so I would definitely look into that in terms of how it might be able to help small businesses and protecting their name and their brand assets.

Lauren Hamilton (18:52.323)

I have gone through that unfortunately they feel that the name isn't and this is the first thing that I learned they really only trade mark name business names which so both Digital Narrative my business name and the product name Website In One Week I was unable to trade mark so this is why I'm speaking to people at the next level because through that system they didn't feel that they were unique enough.

Lucy Kippist (19:27.080)

Interesting

Carrie Kwan (19:28.600)

I think it's got something to do with that it's a common term right like you can't trade common words.

Lauren Hamilton (19:34.603)

That's right. So Website In One Week I could feel that that was that's something that some web developer elsewhere could offer I understand that but the Digital Narrative name I've never heard that combination of words anywhere else other than my business and when you google that you don't get a bunch of content. It's not something that's common vernacular so I was surprised by that one but I'm looking at other avenues at the moment.

Lucy Kippist (20:05.260)

I wanted to touch on something else that you said before in relation to risk and you being able to invest enough in your business that you are actually getting livelihood from it. You’re actually increasing your income and a big part of that is obviously visibility for what you're doing and that's right in the heart of your expertise being that your Digital Narrative business is all about content marketing and visibility is a goal or challenge for our community as well. Everybody is always asking how do I get more visibility. In fact joining a community like Mums & Co that's pretty much number one reason why they do it. But what’s a foolproof way of getting visibility? Or really moves the dial on my business? Is there something you could share?

Lauren Hamilton (21:06.683)

Absolutely, unfortunately I've always struggled to find the time to really invest in my social media and my content because that's what I do for a living for other people. It's the last thing I want to do at the end of the day when I've logged off is to then go on and do all of that again for my own business but what comes really naturally to me and what I love is networking. I've found a lot of visibility through various different groups. Mums & Co was the first one I joined and I found success and I found community through that so I've looked for opportunities to be part of other communities elsewhere and to put my hand up to be involved you know at a greater level because face to face or as we're doing now by a video is to me a great way of getting your message across. It feels more authentic to me, it feels more enjoyable to me. The side benefits of it are so great that you meet friends. I've met lifelong friends now from Mums & Co  and I think that that's been a big part of my success with visibility. The two other things that I've done to improve visibility for my business which are also again the sort of in my wheelhouse they're part of my day job so that they come a little easier for me but one is to really focus on my website so my Digital Narrative dot com to a site is fully optimized and I add an optimized blog to that every month with a focus on a keyword that might you know that my small business audience are searching. That has led to a lot of inbound leads just coming via the website to contact us and we've worked with many of them over the years. I would say the problem is if you're not skilled in that area it can be expensive and there are a lot of charlottans out there I think to be honest that are you know charging astronomical prices for what is four or five hours work really in essence so if you can up skill and do at least some of that yourself there's a lot of value in visibility for that because a lot of people find businesses through search. Akin to that is guest blogging and collaborating so that ties it together because guest blogging is great for your SEO. Contributing a blog to somebody else's website or a new site but it's also great for your networking you know your sort of connected to that business then so that really joins them both together and those are probably the three things I've done most consistently.

Lucy Kippist (23:52.440)

Love those examples and it crosses everything because I was going to ask you specifically about digital net working as well but you've covered that off what about things as you're saying you know writing blog articles which is music to my ears because sometimes I wonder where did that go. Remember that was such a huge thing years ago? Such a powerful way of spreading your word! Particularly if you're a good writer and particularly if your business you can pitch yourself as a thought leader. What about platforms like LinkedIn do you find yourself using that much for networking?

Lauren Hamilton (24:33.023)

I do and I've made some important and valuable connections especially in the last year or so through LinkedIn. I think there's a grand migration occurring from old platforms like Facebook to a lesser extent Instagram on to LinkedIn and TikTok. I see people are the most these days and that's where my clients are getting the most value and engagement there's still some businesses that really those oldest social methods still work for but for my business LinkedIn is really important but once again it's really I have a mentality when it comes to content which I kind of use a food metaphor that will appeal to mums you you don't need to necessarily cook dinner every night. On Sunday you make a really big batch of bolognese because then you know in the next two weeks you can have spaghetti bolognese. You can have lasagne and you can stuff a capsicum or whatever you like to do with that pre-made bolognese mix. That's how I view content. I'd rather spend my time making a really good quality excellent blog and that's my big batch of bolognese sauce and then how I use it across the near future is made much easier. I don't have to start from scratch so I might extract a comment from that and share that on LinkedIn on a graphic tile. I might film myself you know repeating some of the blog reading it out and I might share that as a video. I might rewrite the blog which doesn't ever take as long as creating it in the first place and sell that or pitch that to a publisher as a guest article. So I take that batch cooking method with content and I apply it when I am able to.  But as I said because I've been developing a new product at the moment it's a case of do what I say and not what I do because I have not had time to do justice to content for my own business recently. But watch this space because I've been batch making a lot of content and I'm nearly ready to feed everybody!

Lucy Kippist (26:46.760)

Great analogy!

Carrie Kwan (26:50.240)

We can just add that to the analogy pile between business and business and motherhood or parenthood.

Lauren Hamilton (26:58.183)

Carrie all my metaphors are food metaphors I have no metaphors that don't have food in them.

Carrie Kwan (27:05.520)

That's a very clever strategy. I think you've been one of our earliest members like you mentioned before and we're so grateful for you being part of it. I know you've mentioned that you have had lots of things that have benefited your business. I know that our community has also benefited from your expertise. You've coached and guided a lot of women on their journey. I do want to kind of come back in terms of our community. Has there been anything that has most benefited you that comes to mind for your business?

Lauren Hamilton (27:51.763)

Definitely I love this question that made me reflect and I thought after a little while of thinking about this I realized I thought about Mums & Co the same way I think about my first mother's group. When I had my first son and for those of you that are mums you don't know what you're doing, you feel like nobody understands you, you don't know what to do with your baby, you know it's all a bit of a muddle and then you go to mother's group and it's such a relief because there's people that understand the stage that you're at and they understand why you're so tired that you can't even talk and why you've got such a grotty t-shirt on and that's what Mums & Co is was for my business. It was the mother's group for my business where I met like minded people and I felt normal and not weird and we could talk about the same concerns and issues that we all had and help each other and support each other so it's given me a lot of confidence and a lot of ideas and a lot of energy over the years.  The best part of it is going back to what I get energy from and what I enjoy is the face to face. So if I ever fell out any of your feedback forms of anything I always write more face to face because I like to be in a room with people and talk and talk with my hands and I get excited and that's what I love so I know it's been really hard with the pandemic that's been off the cards but I'm really happy that it's all coming back now and we can do face to face again.

Carrie Kwan (29:23.840)

Thank you for sharing that well noted I think you know back in 2019 when we had lots of local meetups we were in we're in six states and we had about twenty five local ambassadors I know that you were very active in one of the communities in Sydney there's been that full circle and I reflect on that all of us want that face to face connection more than ever now. We've got some exciting plans that we've begun rolling out again this year for those face to face engagements. Lucy’s got an announcement up her sleeve but I think you know the challenge for us is that being a national community we want to help every woman at every business, in every stage of business and stage of motherhood and our national digital platform is the easiest way to do that and get those. We hold those monthly meet ups but we hear you loud and clear and we have some things to announce about that face to face connection and lastly we talk a lot about harmony as this triangle of ambition, livelihood and wellbeing. We're trying to make it all work together and acknowledge that they're all important parts to us and our identity. So would love to hear how you might describe the shape of a good life for you?

Lauren Hamilton (31:01.483)

This one gave me a lot of pause at the thought I wrote a bunch of notes and they all didn't really make a lot of sense but I think it boils down to, I'm very achievement driven, I'm very goal oriented and I actually have the same three goals for myself every day and that shape that gives shape to my life and one of them is as a mum I make sure that I spend quality time even if it's ten minutes with each of my kids every day.

So time with the family but particularly just one on one time with each kid. I'm getting really good at handball as a result of this. Also I know a lot about minecraft as a result of this and for me that's the first kind of pillar. So time quality time with my kids so that they know that I value them even though I am really busy as a business owner. I said before my goal is to do one thing every day that moves my business forward.

It can range from a whole day spent video editing for really excellent content to literally ringing one person and saying can you please help me with this. I need help with this. So I cut myself a lot of slack as long as I've done one thing even if it took five minutes I feel like I'm moving forward towards my goals and the last thing is for me to do something for myself every day and I think we can fall into the trap of self care and ticking a box or doing things that we think of self care because somebody told us that they work for them. I know what is self care to me and I know what works for me and cooking is one of those things. I go into a kind of meditative zone so I either cook or I love exercise. For me it's really the exercise but also the chance to have a yap with my friends at the gym or as I mentioned I take a swim. I do some reading whatever it is that makes me feel good that makes me feel like me so those are my three goals for every day and I'm happy to say most days I think because they’re modest goals I meet them and that's the shape of my day and that's what makes me feel like both good in the moment but also like I'm moving towards where I want to be.

Lucy Kippist (33:21.980)

How brilliant you set yourself up for success that way. When things are clear in your head that way and then you can tick them off easily that contributes to your well being just by the very fact that you can achieve another thing.

Lauren Hamilton (33:38.923)

Exactly I really made goals like really unachievable crazy goals for myself and constantly be disappointed I'd be like I didn't get that done, look at this list I didn't cross all these things off but now every day I start the day my note pad says goal and I write do one thing and that's my goal and every day believe it or not ladies I do one thing.

Lucy Kippist (34:03.600)

Well done you.

Lauren Hamilton (34:05.923)

So easy to achieve.

Lucy Kippist (34:08.159)

Love it that's a hot tip will be taking that one Lauren thank you so much.

Carrie Kwan (34:13.860)

There's this theory the slides in here and you know they say some of the most successful people as long as you've actually started the day by doing the bed you've already achieved something.

Lauren Hamilton (34:26.523)

Exactly it's just it sort of sounds flippant because some days I do fifty things but it just means that the lowest bench mark is to just do one thing and then be okay with yourself because if you only got one thing done well there's a reason for that isn't there you weren't lying down watching television all day or even if you were maybe you needed to lie down and watch television that day.

Lucy Kippist (35:12.520)

In the spirit of women supporting women who are the mumbitious or the business owning women in your network that you'd like to say hello to?

Lauren Hamilton (35:25.903)

So first up all of the Mums & Co mums and especially our fearless leader Lauren Harkness who I love and who is the biggest gift that I've got from Mums & Co thank you Mums & Co for Lauren and then my little sister who inspired me to develop the Website In One Week product because I worked with her to develop her new business she's an amazing. Shouting at her to get me all the stuff to build the website and her shouting at me saying it's not that easy was the light bulb moment that caused me to create this product so shout out to Lisa.