I have the opportunity of interviewing another great female entrepreneur, Italia Elena Hernandez.
Italia Elena is a Marketing Copywriter who started working for an ad agency in Manhattan shortly after she has graduated from college. After she became unfulfilled with her 9-5 job, she decided to quit and spend 3 months traveling. Upon her return, Italia Elena dived headfirst into entrepreneurship.
In this interview, she shares how she quit her day job, started with zero funds, and scaled her business through networking.
If you need a story to inspire you to make the same leap, then read what she has to say below.
PLEASE TELL US ABOUT YOURSELF AND THE BUSINESS YOU STARTED?
Hi, my name is Italia Elena. I’m a Marketing Copywriter that specializes in writing for Facebook Ads and have worked on over 100 different campaigns selling coaching, e-commerce products, online services, courses, mastermind memberships, and so much more.
I got my initial start as a copywriter working for a boutique ad agency in Manhattan shortly after I graduated college. At first, everything was fine. I felt lucky that after college I was quickly able to get a job. But I soon began to question what I really wanted to do professionally, and although I liked copywriting, I quickly became unfulfilled with my 9-5 job.
After some internal back and forth, I was fortunate enough to be able to quit my job and go abroad for 3 months. During that time, I realized I actually really liked copywriting, but I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life in an office. So I decided that I was going to begin freelancing, as it seemed like the surest way to have the freedom I wanted while doing work I actually enjoyed.
Upon my return to NYC, I immediately returned back to the ad agency but on a part-time, freelance basis. And very shortly after, my friend introduced me to a woman who ran her own Facebook Ads agency. She was looking to begin expanding her team needed a copywriter and ended up hiring me.
It was my first foray into the world of Facebook Ads, and fast forward about a year and a half, I now specialize in writing Facebook Ad copy!
THE JOURNEY SO FAR
PLEASE DESCRIBE THE PROCESS OF LAUNCHING YOUR BUSINESS.
With a background in copywriting and great connections, I had a really strong start to my business. I was actually invited to return to the agency that I had quit. So after my 3-month trip ended, I landed back in NYC with a freelancing gig. Not even two weeks later, I got a long-term client (who I still work with!) via a personal referral.
After that, I honestly had no plan, and everything happened slowly but naturally. I kept getting work and experience through referrals, joined Facebook groups to make connections, wrote a lot of copy for a lot of people, and eventually discovered the type of writing I naturally gravitated towards.
I didn’t use any money to start my business, and to this day, I still haven’t invested a huge amount in it. I’ve been able to get quite far with networking, referrals, and free/affordable resources.
WHAT DOES YOUR TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE AND HOW DO YOU STAY PRODUCTIVE?
It requires discipline, but getting up early is my key to starting every day on the right foot. I’m also a morning person!
The first thing I do is drink coffee and eat a light breakfast while watching something interesting (usually on Netflix). Once I’m done and fully awake, I check Asana, Facebook, LinkedIn, and my Gmail for any tasks, connections, or project updates.
And finally, I take a pen and paper and write a To-Do list in my notebook. Physically crossing things out keeps me motivated, and I also take frequent breaks between working/writing. Checking Facebook groups or LinkedIn to comment on posts and make new connections is a welcome “distraction” from work while also being productive.
I’ve also created a list of 2020 Business goals that I want to achieve by March. Reading over this list every few days keeps me focused on the big picture, so I don’t get lost in the day to day details.
I’ve set a few boundaries: Never eat while working. Snack time is another word for break time! And I never work on weekends, no matter what.
WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR BIGGEST ACHIEVEMENT AND YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE ALONG THE WAY?
My biggest challenge and my biggest accomplishment are actually intertwined. When I first started out, I had a lot of money mindset issues that kept me from charging rates I knew I was worth. I remember I had a hard time asking someone for $25 an hour!
So my greatest accomplishment so far has been increasing my prices, sticking to them no matter what, and remaining confident about it. It took over a year to be able to do this!
WHAT STRATEGY DID YOU USE TO GROW YOUR BUSINESS? AND HOW?
As I’ve said before, I’ve used a ton of free and affordable resources to grow my business organically.
Networking online and creating valuable connections doesn’t cost you a penny, and it’s been my greatest tool! I joined a lot of free Facebook groups geared towards (female) entrepreneurs and have made many connections through there. I’ve also gotten a lot of great work through referrals.
Starting this year, I’ve begun a Facebook Page for my business where I post valuable content for free, giving advice on writing effective Facebook Ad Copy.
My goal is to begin cultivating an online presence after spending so long being anonymous behind my computer screen! I’m also starting to realize the value in LinkedIn. There are plenty of amazing people on there just waiting to meet, so my goal is to reach 500+ connections by March.
WHAT IS YOUR VISION FOR THE FUTURE OF BUSINESS?
Having niched down and gotten so much clearer on where I want to take my business has been really exciting and also super helpful in determining my path. My biggest goal is to get 2-3 more retainer clients and reach my first 10k month!
As for long term goals, I’d absolutely love to grow big enough so that I could start hiring a team to help me with social media, networking, and other daily tasks so I could have more free time.
RECOMMENDATIONS & FINAL THOUGHTS
PLEASE RECOMMEND ANY RESOURCES AND TOOLS THAT YOU USE TO RUN YOUR BUSINESS.
I spent a lot of money on a WordPress website that was too complicated for me to learn on my own and offered way more features than I needed or knew what to do with. So I would recommend Journo Portfolio for copywriters and graphic designers looking for a great, affordable website to host a portfolio. Their Pro version is just 10 bucks a month and comes with a custom domain name!
I’ve also gotten a ton of value (and some clients) from online Facebook groups such as Facebook Ad Hacks, Living The Laptop Life, Amazing Women Entrepreneurs Network, and Freelancing Females. Posting on these groups is a great way to meet people, too. And they’re all free to join.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER WOMEN WHO WANT TO START THEIR OWN BUSINESS?
No matter what anyone’s social media posts tell you, there’s no such thing as sustainable, overnight success when you begin working for yourself. And sometimes, progress happens so slowly you’re going to question what you’re doing and if it’s all worth it!
Try to be patient, take every experience in stride, learn from your mistakes and accomplishments, and when the going gets rough (and it WILL get rough), stay connected to the reason you wanted to start your own business in the first place.
For me, it was knowing that I wanted freedom above all else, and I don’t have what it takes to be truly happy in a 9-5 job.
My final tip: Ask for support. People are more willing to help than you think, and you don’t have to go on this journey alone!
WHAT BUSINESS IDEA YOU HAVE THAT YOU ARE WILLING TO SHARE WITH OTHERS?
I’d love to create an agency of writers with expertise writing the copy specifically needed for ad campaigns, including sales page copy, landing page copy, ad copy, etc. We would serve large Facebook Ad agencies looking to outsource copy to a team with a specialized skillset. It’s also very possible someone has already done this, in which case, hit me up!
My other idea… is a lot sillier. I’d like to create an App that is similar to Yelp but offers reviews of public bathrooms in restaurants, parks, museums, etc. It would be called Flush!
Welcome to the Biz Ladies interview series!
If you’re new to these series, I interview women entrepreneurs on how they started their business, what was the idea behind it, how they got where they are, the struggles, the reality and more.
By sharing their stories, we want to inspire other women to get started.
If you are interested to share your own story on the Biz Ladies LET ME KNOW!