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Laura Williams has a master’s degree in exercise and sport science (M.S.Ed.) and managed fitness and aquatic centers for eight years before ditching management to become a freelance writer. She’s been freelance writing for two years now, and continues to do so in order to stay financially afloat while working on GirlsGoneSporty.
GirlsGoneSporty is a website designed to help the sporty woman live the sporty life. Content includes everything from fitness, nutrition, lifestyle and beauty articles to gift guides, product reviews and expert/athlete interviews.
MO: GirlsGoneSporty is the culmination of seven years of entrepreneurship attempts. Why has it taken seven years and what have you learned along the way?
Laura: Entrepreneurship is a calling, not a career, and most entrepreneurs will attest that it takes awhile to find the right “fit.” It’s taken my husband and me seven years to build our knowledge base and seek out a business opportunity that is viable, affordable and something we feel passionate about. All of our previous experiences were stepping stones preparing us for GirlsGoneSporty. We feel so confident in our current endeavor that all the past “failures” are more than worth the hard work and heartbreak. The lesson we always come back to is that it’s okay to pull the plug on a project, but it’s not okay to pull the plug on your dream. There will be doubters in your life – people who question your sanity and your ability, but you can’t let the naysayers prevent you from trying again. It’s like the Little Engine that Could – just keep telling yourself, “I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.” One of these days, you will!
MO: Why did you decide to focus on a site dedicated to sports, fitness and women?
Laura: That’s easy: we built a site for me! My master’s degree is in exercise and sport science, I worked in fitness for eight years, my husband was a personal trainer before he began building websites; long story short, fitness and sports are what we do! As a freelance writer, I’ve been writing health and fitness content for other sites for awhile, but I decided I needed more control. I wanted to write what I wanted to an audience that was reflective of me. The “sporty woman” is who I’ve been my entire life, and I feel confident that there are lots of other sporty women out there who will find our site and feel that the content and vibe resonates with them. It’s unlike the other fitness and sports sites out there because it’s geared to a personality type rather than a specific subject matter. I figure if I want to read what I’m putting on the site, surely there are other women who will want to read it, too.
MO: How important have mentors and experts been during the development process of GirlsGoneSporty?
Laura: Good question. This is going to sound strange, but I have to say not very important. Do we have mentors and experts that we ask for advice? Yes, of course. Do we turn to them regularly? No. The mentors in my life are my parents and my past professors, they’ve always encouraged my writing and my entrepreneurship, but they don’t necessarily know much about the ins-and-outs of starting a website. I turn to them when I want encouragement, but not for the day-to-day site development.
My husband, on the other hand, does look regularly for expert insight from online video tutorials on site development and SEO.
MO: Can you tell our readers why you don’t want to subscribe to traditional advertising?
Laura: It’s not that I’m opposed to traditional advertising, per se. I think it has its place, but the whole goal of building this site was to build a site that readers could turn to for information they could trust. I’m not a fan of 3rd party ad services because you have no control over the ads being placed on your site. I don’t want crazy supplements or terrible workout programs showing up in the sidebar of GirlsGoneSporty because a 3rd party service decides that they’re a fit for our content.
Obviously traditional advertising is a little easier to control, but even so, if all you’re trying to do is sell ad space, it becomes really easy to “make a deal with the devil,” and sell all your advertising slots to the highest bidder or to companies whose products you know nothing about. We don’t want to do that. What we want is to say to our readers, “Hey, these companies you’re seeing ads for are companies whose products we know, trust and love! We want you to buy these products because they’re great!” This type of partnership will benefit our site, benefit the companies we love and benefit our readers because they’ll understand where we’re coming from and they’ll be able to trust the ads on our site. To be perfectly honest, by approaching advertising this way, we’re actually limiting the amount of money we can make, but for us, that’s not a sacrifice. It’s worth it if it makes our whole product better.
MO: How has it been to work with your husband on this project so far? Had you ever worked together before?
Laura: It’s fantastic working with my husband. We’re one of those annoying couples who love spending all our time together. After 11 years together and eight years of marriage, that’s something we’re pretty proud of! We have worked together before – on previous projects and at various companies over the years. We just make a good team, we’re good at different things. He’s very nitty-gritty, detail-oriented, a perfectionist through-and-through; I’m a “big picture” person who likes juggling a lot of different tasks. That’s not to say it’s always perfect – we each have our “buttons” that the other knows how to push, but the fact is that we’re in this together and we’re a true team – there’s no winning and losing between the two of us, we either win together or we lose together. It’s wonderful knowing that that’s how it is, that I never have to worry about where he stands – he stands behind me to support me, and I do the same for him.
MO: I just wanted to tell you how great I think the site looks! What feature are you most proud of so far and is there anything you’re looking forward to adding in the near future?
Laura: Thank you! We’ve had so much fun putting it together. There are two things I think I’m the most proud of – our Gift Guide and our Giveaways. The Gift Guide took a lot of hard work, but in the process I built a lot of relationships with companies and vendors to help make it happen. The goal is for it to be a well-rounded, year-round guide for sporty women, men and teens. I’m so proud of the way it came together & the extra features my husband was able to add to jazz it up a little. There’s still more to do to make it a little more search-friendly, but it’s looking great so far.
I’m also really proud of the Giveaways! How much fun is it to be able to give away free product to readers?! Every other week we add new giveaways to the site, so hopefully it’ll continue to draw readers back, especially when they win!
One feature we hope to be able to add soon is a page for multimedia content – videos, podcasts, etc. We want to be able to offer quick workout tutorials, healthy eating ideas and clips of fun outdoor adventures. This will also help us connect with our readers in a more “real” way.
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