I don’t usually share all the press that Women On The Fence gets. But I thought there was a good underlying message in this interview… ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE (as the interviewer called it), so I decided to post it. It is also posted for the new readers to get some background on how we started. Id’ love your thoughts.
Here’s my interview with Julio’s Sol – Inspirational stories with passionate people.
Age: 35 / City: Montreal / Passion: Writing and Inspiring
Erica Diamond has found success and balance in her blog, Women on the Fence. With 2 million syndicated readers a month, she has found a way to inspire and uplift women all around the world.
“I envisioned a hub where bright, smart women could get inspired, be entertained and get a daily dose of hope, inspiration, laughter and learn something new in their life. I started writing and it took off right away.” — Erica Diamond
What dreams and passions are you living out right now?
It is evident on my blog that I am living my passion. It came about as a creative hobby really. I had sold my successful business in 2006 because I was burned out. I had one son and one on the way and I felt like a horrible mother and a horrible boss. I was struggling in both roles. I got “an offer I couldn’t refuse” to sell my company and it was the perfect time for me. We only get one chance to raise our kids, so I sold my company and stayed at home for 4 years to be there for them. It was my choice. When my little one was in preschool, I started getting the itch again, “It’s time to do something, what can I do?” I knew I never wanted to work for anyone; I was too entrepreneurial. I was sitting on the fence with what I wanted to do.
I always had a passion for writing although I hadn’t really done it. I imagined that if I was on the fence – a smart, intelligent mom and business woman – there were probably other women who were sitting on the fence in many other aspects of their lives as well: how to raise their kids, how to keep the passion alive with a marriage and a career, how to juggle friendships, how to find “me-time,” etc. I envisioned a hub where bright, smart women could get inspired, be entertained and get a daily dose of hope, inspiration, laughter and learn something new in their life. I started writing and it took off right away. Women connected with the concept of being stuck and on the fence, unsure of where to go. In fact, I even bought MenOnTheFence.com too, because women aren’t the only ones! From the blog came the book, then the speaking engagements, and now I have a weekly radio spot. My passion is to reach out to women everywhere around the world to hear their stories and inspire women everywhere.
You were able to accomplish all this in only 18 months?
Yes, since Sept. 11, 2009. It’s remarkable. I don’t really think about it but I am proud of that.
How do you feel right now where you are at in life, with what you have accomplished in such a short time?
I love what I am doing and I am trying to figure out the best angle for me right now. I have some interesting offers and opportunities on the table. I am at a point right now where people reach out to me for different things, but I am unsure of the next best move to make to stay true to my core values. I guess you can say, I’m back on the fence! I am living my passion, but I am deciding what is next for the blog. My dream is to take it to magazine, television, satellite radio, apps, and make Women on the Fence a well-known household brand.
Before you started your first business at age 24, what was your situation?
My situation is interesting because I have always been a planner and I had planned to get an MBA. I had done my degree in psychology with a minor in marketing and I was going the business route. I took the GMAT’s and bombed them. That is the big story in my book. I had planned to go and never even got in. The old me would have said, “if you want it badly enough you will make it happen.” But I took the rejection as a sign to become entrepreneurial and I said, “this is my chance. There is something bigger here for me, even though I don’t know what it is at this point.” I cashed out $5,000 from my savings- I had been living at home with my parents at the time and decided to start my own business. I spent $2,500 on a website and $2,500 on marketing and off I went. I knocked on people’s doors selling promotional products. Everyone tried to talk me out of entering the already competitive marketplace of promotional products, but I knew I’d find a way to squeeze myself in.
Can you tell us about what held you back and impeded you when you started things out?
That’s the whole point of my book actually: how to avoid start up disasters and pitfalls. When you start a business you have to hire the best employees– your people are your best asset. How do you do that when you are just starting, often underfunded? I had employee turnovers when I started. That was a challenge. I didn’t have the money to hire the best, so I had to learn how to market on a shoestring budget. I made do with the small budget I had. I learned as I went.
One of the pitfalls I encountered was that I was a control freak. It was counterproductive to the company for me to do everything. Even though I could do many of the roles well, it didn’t make sense for me to take on every role. I stress that you should know every role in your company, but don’t do every role because you will never grow. I pissed off my employees because I was doing their job. That was my sign to delegate, and move into my areas of strength for the betterment of the business.
Another pitfall start-ups make, is they don’t do enough market research. Proper industry analysis and research before you start a company is essential. I had done some research, but not nearly enough. My industry was so saturated, and people were practically giving their goods away for free. I looked at my profits at the end of the year and wondered where they were– this was not what I had forecasted! When I realized that the margins in my industry were not what I had researched, I become resourceful again— I busted my behind to negotiate really good prices with my suppliers, so I could in turn compete for orders, get the business, and still make money.
Can you talk about what you had to overcome mentally in this process?
I was 24 and I convinced the bank to give me a line of credit of almost $100,000. You realize that your butt is on the line at the end of the day and it’s scary. Owning your own business is not a 9-5 job and it can become all you think about– it’s labor intensive and emotionally draining. But, the opportunities are exciting and I wouldn’t have traded it for anything.
It seems like there have been 3 periods in your life: the first business, taking time off to raise your kids and now Women on the Fence and all of its successes, can you talk about what you have given up and gained through this process?
What I have gained has been so much. I love my days. My vision board is: balance, to be around for my kids and husband, and get a second shot at entrepreneurship. That is why the blog has been so great. I drop my kids off at school, then go to the gym and from there I go to my home office or to Starbucks with my laptop. I write, I connect with women, I travel for speaking engagements and I have my radio segment on Wednesdays. My days are never the same.
Because it’s a blog, it can potentially be a 24/7 thing if I allow it to. I am a self-confessed twitter and Blackberry addict. I try to chill out when my kids and hubby are home at night and make a mindful effort to unplug.
For Women on the Fence, how did women find you?
I haven’t spent a dollar advertising my blog. It has all been viral: Facebook, Twitter, word of mouth, and SEO. That is it. I haven’t advertised anywhere. If someone likes it, they re-tweet it, share it and it spreads like that. There is only one rule when writing for a blog: write great content. I think my content was relatable. I now get 200,000 page views a month and I am syndicated to over 2,000,000 readers a month via 9 sites. I urge people to write in and pitch an idea. I look for guest bloggers all the time; my stories get tiring after awhile. I happily promote other women’s businesses and blogs. It’s a great way for women to get their voices in front of other women. I have gotten my readers from people who have enjoyed it and passed it on.
Can you tell us what you think the future holds for you?
I hope that Women on the Fence can be much more than a blog, book and radio hour. My dream is for it to turn into something greater than me, and witness women around the world who are stuck on the fence in their lives, get the “Off the Fence” makeover by a team of experts and individuals who have walked in those shoes, to help these women live a happier existence. Do you see it? I want to take the brand and its current multimedia platform, to the next level. However and whomever it will manifest with, remains to be seen.
My dream is for Oprah to take Women On The Fence under her wings. Yah, I can visualize a Women on the Fence show on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network), a Women On The Fence radio show on Oprah Satellite Radio and a monthly column in O Magazine. That would be my ultimate dream.
Follow Erica inspiring women on the fence here:
Just remember, ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE with hard work.
I read this quote yesterday and loved it:
“Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work .” ~ Stephen King
Would love your feedback,