Pitching and Business Tips from Kimberly Palmer of U.S. News & World Report
Insights on Book Publicity and Starting your Business
Kimberly Palmer is the senior money editor and Alpha Consumer blogger at U.S. News & World Report and author of Generation Earn: The Young Professional’s Guide to Spending, Investing, and Giving Back (Ten Speed Press). Since Kim has a brand new book our and recently started a business, I got the inside scoop on her pitching and entrepreneurial tips.
Here’s what she had to say:
Tell us why you decided to create your own business with Palmer’s Planners.
I realized that I really needed a new income stream on top of my full-time job. It was a few years ago, during the height of the recession, and lay-offs seemed to be happening all around me.
I love my full-time job and hope I never have to leave it, but I couldn’t ignore the fact that I needed a back-up plan — some way of earning money outside my paycheck just in case that paycheck disappeared.
But even more importantly than the money, once I had the idea for my money planners (which pretty much hit me like lightning one day), I couldn’t not do it. I was too excited about the possibility of using my own creativity to make something that other people find useful.
What tips do you have for other entrepreneurs just starting out?
Listen to your customers, especially the early ones. Some of my best ideas, and bestselling planners in my shop, came from those first customers that I had.
For example, I had the not-so-great idea of focusing on printed planners at first. I paid a few hundred dollars in printing costs to make spiral-bound books. But those did not sell at all.
What did sell were my digital planners, which are available by automatic download immediately upon purchasing, so people don’t have to wait and can print them whenever and however they want.
I also noticed that people were buying multiple planners at once, so I created custom packages that offer discounts when people do that. A customer also told me that she wanted a calendar money planner for the year, so I created that, and it’s now my most popular one, and I update it each year.
The bottom line is, it’s important to test the market with your initial ideas, but then to make tweaks as you hear back from people about what they like and what they don’t like.
As the money editor for U.S. News & World Report, I’m sure you’ve received bad pitches from small business owners. What tips can you provide in regards to reaching out to you and other media members with story ideas?
Yes! I receive dozens of terrible pitches every day. Unfortunately, most of them get deleted almost immediately. Mistakes to avoid include sending pitches completely unrelated to what I might cover, failing to personalize the email and including such a brief email that I really don’t have a good sense of what you are talking about.
The best pitches I get are personal, make a comment that shows me the publicist is at least somewhat familiar with what I write about, and sound really interesting on a personal level. I love writing about companies that I personally want to use and find useful, and share them with my readers.
You recently wrote wrote “The Economy of You: Discover Your Inner Entrepreneur and Recession-Proof Your Life.” Tell us why you wrote it and what StartupNation readers can learn from the book.
After I launched my own side-business of money planners, I realized there were thousands of people around the country doing the same thing — launching entrepreneurial ventures while still juggling their day jobs.
Some of them intended to eventually quit and aim for full-time self-employment, but many were like me, and wanted to continue their full-time job while also bringing in extra cash on the side. I wrote “The Economy of You” as a resource for people who want to launch their own successful side-gigs, to feel that same sense of satisfaction of creating something useful for other people, while also boosting your own financial security.
StartupNation readers can get ideas for new types of businesses they might want to launch, building their social networks and reaching new audiences, juggling multiple commitments at once, and creating a long-term game plan for their hybrid careers. I interviewed 100 side-giggers who are successfully building their own businesses, and their stories include a lot of valuable lessons.
How have you personally used public relations and content to boost sales for your business and products?
Before my new book came out, I always did everything myself. As a journalist, I have a pretty decent number of contacts and idea of how to reach out to fellow reporters. Books like yours, “Simple Publicity,” also taught me a lot.
But I’m working with a publicist now, for the first time, and she is so fabulous and I am so grateful for her help. She can pitch many more bloggers and reporters than I can, and I think it’s also easier for her to take rejection or non-responses because she doesn’t take it personally.
Going forward, I think I’ll try a mix of handling my own publicity but also relying on someone who can devote more of her time to sending those pitches.
I’m glad you found my book helpful and are using a publicist to help you. Is there anything else you would like to add as we wrap things up with this interview?
Even though money was the original motivator for me for launching my own side-business, the surprising thing was just how satisfying it is. That feeling of making your first – and subsequent — sale is pretty hard to beat. I hope anyone looking for a little more satisfaction in their work lives considers playing around with new side-business ideas.
Thanks so much for your great insights Kim, and we wish you all the best with your business and new book!
For more information about Kim’s book and products, visit http://www.bykimberlypalmer.com/.
And if you need help boosting sales with content strategy, please contact me below or at www.rembrandtwrites.com.