This profile is presented by Squarespace. To us, our partnerships with brands are about so much more than business. We endeavor to carve out relationships with brands whose values reflect our own and those of our members, and work together to thoughtfully tell stories and create experiences that speak to moms’ real lives and real interests. HeyMama seeks to elevate the creative and professional momentum our members pull off every day, fueled by tools like Squarespace. We’re thrilled to work with them to bring stories like this to our community.
While many find it hard to juggle more than one job at a time, Lauren Ranalli loves her career as both a children’s book writer and marketing coach. When the mother of two (ages 8, 5 — and a brand new puppy!) decided she needed a website to meet the needs of two very different businesses, she turned to Squarespace. “Developing my own site gave me a ‘homebase’ to connect with readers and aspiring authors. It serves as a singular spot for people to learn about my work, view my children’s books, register for my online courses, read my blog, or connect with me about events.”
On the homepage of her site—front and center—is a statement that probably every author can relate to: “books are my happy place.” So it should come as no surprise that she’s turning to the written word to digest, cope, and get through the current COVID-19 crisis and the difficulties of sheltering-in-place.
“In addition to all of the uncertainty and anxiety that we may be feeling, we are also seeing huge inequities exposed in our communities,” Ranalli told HeyMama. “And I think it’s important for us to acknowledge all of these things with our families. I am a big believer in using children’s books to discuss big emotions, spark family discussions, and process the world around us. It’s my own personal belief that kids who grow up with regular exposure to different cultures, religions, family systems, abilities and so on may be more inclusive, tolerant, and compassionate. And children’s books are a wonderful vehicle for creating that exposure. I’ve put together a Diverse Books Reading List so [people] can view some of my favorite stories that highlight empathy, kindness, emotional health, and cultural and economic diversity.”
But creativity has aided Ranalli throughout her life, and is not only a core part of her business but has been a key component in growing that business so she can cultivate creativity in others. HeyMama interviewed Ranalli to learn more about how she managed to grow a business while simultaneously raising children, which tools helped her become and remain successful, and how we can use the innate creativity in all of us to build a thriving business.
HeyMama (HM): How has entrepreneurship made you a better mom? How has being a mom made you a better entrepreneur?
Ranalli (R): Being an entrepreneur gives me a very specific energy that I hadn’t found in other areas of my life. And as a busy working mom, I will welcome any source of energy! And because I’m busy, I think I’ve become better at executing a task when I find a pocket of time. If I know that I have one hour of quiet time, I’m going to maximize that hour to the best of my ability. Sometimes that means cranking out a training for my author clients, and other times that means going for a long walk so I can clear my head and refocus on family time. Being a mom has certainly inspired the themes in my existing children’s books, “The Great Latke Cook Off” and “Places We Have Never Been”, as well as my next two books, “Let’s Meet on the Moon: A Story of Long Distance Friendship” and “Snow Day at the Zoo”. And I love helping other author moms find success with creating their own books- it’s incredibly gratifying!
HM: What tools did you use that helped you get your business off the ground?
R: I like to keep things pretty low-tech. For me, the tools I use every day are Squarespace for my website, Canva to design images for social media, the Productivity Planner to keep me on track, and my Carl Angel 5 pencil sharpener so that I am never without a perfectly sharpened writing utensil.
HM: How has getting your business online helped it grow?
R: Squarespace makes it easy to connect a shopping cart feature for purchases, as well as an email service so people can sign up for my newsletter.
HM: Had you used Squarespace before? What about the platform was easy to use and how did you learn to navigate it?
R: Nope, I was completely new to Squarespace — or any website platform for that matter! Fortunately, my husband is the founder of One More Minute Creative, and they specialize in creating custom Squarespace sites for entrepreneurs and small business owners. So he did the initial set up for me, which is so much more efficient and cost-effective than building a site from scratch, and now I can update it whenever I want. Now it’s incredibly easy for me to add or remove pages, replace photos, create discount codes, etc, whenever I need to. I probably make changes to it at least once a week.
HM: How vital is your website to the growth and sustainability of your business, especially now?
R: Having a professional website has given me a lot of flexibility, which is so important. It allows me to quickly add or modify products and services, so I can whip up something new to respond to the needs of my clients. Plus, having a website that allows people to sign up for my newsletter is really crucial. I’m a fan of using social media, but if my profiles were one day hacked or blocked I would lose the connection that I have to all of those followers. But my email list is something that belongs to me and allows me to connect with my audience in more consistent and intentional ways.
HM: How did you go about picking a Squarespace template. and how does yours speak best to your brand?
R: I liked the look and clean feel of many of the templates, so I selected one that had the best layout options for my books, coaching services, and online trainings. Then I was able to customize it easily with my brand colors and fonts. I hope that people find my site to be cheerful, relatable, and informative.
HM: If you had to pick only one aspect of your business, what would you say is the most rewarding?
R: I love the process of creating my own children’s books, but I have to say that coaching the authors in my Think Beyond the Book community is by far the most rewarding part of this work! If you’re familiar with enneagrams, I’m a 3 with a 2 wing. This means I’m an Achiever and a Giver, and I can harness both of those qualities into my membership community. As an Achiever, I can research, develop, and create high-quality trainings and resources that I know will benefit aspiring and self-published authors. And as a Giver, I get to share this information, provide support, and connect with each and every author I work with. It’s a win-win for me.
HM: Can you describe a particularly difficult time when you were growing your business? What happened? What roadblocks did you experience? And, most importantly, how did you overcome these challenges?
R: When I published my second book, the first 150 orders went out before I noticed that there was an error in some of the illustrated text. I can’t tell you how many times I looked over the text and had it reviewed by others. I was mortified. I had terrible moments of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. Over a typo. Ultimately, not a single reader cared about the mistake and I was able to regroup, order revised copies, and move forward. But it was a good reminder for me that I can be committed to quality and mistakes may still happen. Plus it helped that a friend sent me an article about the typos in the first edition of Harry Potter…
HM: What advice do you have for moms who are thinking of starting their own business, especially in this unprecedented moment?
R: This unprecedented time could lead to unprecedented success! It’s important to be thoughtful in starting any business adventure and this is a great time to get creative. I encourage you to think about how you are meeting the immediate and long term needs of your ideal customers. Spend this time checking off some of the less-glamorous aspects of starting your business, but also focus on building your audience and establishing awareness around your product, service, or brand. Think about how you can connect with customers now and get them excited for what you are about to offer.