Jennifer Austin is the founder of Austin Media. She is a previous Talk Radio Host on Fox News Radio and the Marketing Director for a Utah law firm. She was the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of St. George News, an online newspaper that went viral in Southern Utah in just one year. She is currently the Executive Editor for a print and digital newspaper in the Salt Lake Area, while running her marketing company on the side.
Jennifer has been a reporter for many years, previously working as the Managing Editor for Today in Dixie and Sports Editor for the Park Record. She has volunteered with at-risk youth and the domestic violence council in Mountain Home, Idaho.
Austin Media began by accident while Jennifer was building her online publication. Once the publication took off and was sold to a radio station, Jennifer was approached by business owners to handle their marketing – not just their social media accounts.
MO: You began Austin Media as a one-woman show on the side of your full-time job. How did you ever manage a full time job while launching a new business?
Jennifer: The balance is hard some days. I have two children, and I do everything possible to put them before my work. That means a lot of late nights and not much sleep. I have found that finding a supportive network (friends or family), will keep you going when you think you can’t do it anymore. Surround yourself by people who believe in you – as my children do.
It’s difficult to start a new company, but most business owners work at the same time. It’s rare to make a profit in the first couple of years so you have to maintain a job, as well. In order to get it all done, I have to be very organized. I schedule my day by how much time I am willing to put into each company. When the allotted time is over, you have to force yourself to walk away and tackle it again tomorrow. Otherwise, the work will consume you and you will stay up 24 hours a day to get it done.
Other tools that really help are having a trained and productive staff and using online, ie WordPress and Crowdbooster.
MO: You’re selective about the clients that you decide to work with. What set of criteria do you use during your decision making process to see if a potential client will be a good fit with your agency?
Jennifer: Maybe it sounds odd, but I still go with my gut feeling on a lot of business decisions and I’ve never made a huge mistake by doing so. When I’m talking to prospective clients, I want to make sure that we are on the same page and that our goals, and personalities, align with each other.
I find out their expectations from the beginning, and I give them mine. I let them know exactly what I will do, and for what cost, up front. Any extra projects are charged by the hour.
I also usually start with a trial period, as well. Sometimes, they just need someone to help them get started, and they can maintain it after a few months of watching what you have done for them. Other times, you find that after a few weeks or months that their expectations on your time are much greater than you are willing to give.
I want to see results for them, but with clear boundaries. Setting that up from the beginning is the best way to approach it.
MO: Out of your impressive and varied career, is there any one job, position or experience that you drew on the most when developing Austin Media?
Jennifer: St. George News. I had been a print writer and editor for so long that I didn’t know too much about creating an online business strategy or marketing plan, only print.
With St. George News, I received a great deal of feedback from readers that helped me learn and progress. Also, I learned by trial and error. I build multiple websites now for clients because I had to learn to edit my own newspaper website (I didn’t have the money to pay someone else to do it).
I was so consumed by St. George News that I learned the habits of my readers without using any tools to track them with the exception of Google Analytics. I knew what time of day they were online and when they were most likely to read content. I learned which content they found compelling and which they didn’t care to read. And most importantly, I also learned that no matter how great something looks, content truly is king. We hear that all the time, but if your content is less than great, your clients will leave.
MO: What’s your favorite social media tool? How do you use it both personally and professionally?
Jennifer: Crowdbooster is currently my favorite. Because I run a dozen Facebook and Twitter pages, I need to be able to run them at the same time without feeling overwhelmed. I need the content to be posted (depending on the client) every hour, day or a couple times a day whether I’m in a meeting or bowling with my kids.
Crowdbooster also analyzes your posts to tell you the most effective times of day for each of your accounts.
I also use it now on the Utah Mom Blog, which is my personal blog.
MO: What inspired you to start writing a detective novel? How’s the process coming along so far?
Jennifer: As a child, I wanted to be three things: a cop, a writer and a singer – all at the same time. After graduating from high school, I joined the Air Force and became a police officer. I have always been fascinated by people and psychology. I like to know what makes someone smile, or what makes them angry.
When writing my book, I draw on my police training and experiences. Most of my ideas for my books come while I’m driving or hiking. Whenever I have writer’s block, whether for the book or my newspaper, I go for a drive.
The book, however, is a slow process as the jobs that pay come first.
MO: If I could grant you one business related wish right now, what would you ask for?
Jennifer: I would find an investor for another digital business idea that I can’t get off my mind. I would take something like St. George News, and go statewide with more coverage more often.
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