Kelli was one of the very first people I met when I moved to Montana. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I reached out and asked if she wanted to grab a cup of coffee. See…I knew that Kelli and I both had digital marketing agencies and I knew that she was established here the same way I was established in Ohio. I wasn’t sure how I would be received because I have learned that there are pretty much two groups of people
- Those who would view others in their industry as competition and not have an interest in future collaborations
- Those who would view others in the industry as a way to collaborate and grow together instead without intent of it being a one-sided benefit.
It didn’t take long to learn that she was the later of the two! With her warm and energetic smile, she welcomed me to the area and since then, we have shared the same clients, collaborated on projects and met to discuss what’s happening in our industry.
Kelli’s Cinderella story is one worth sharing as a testimony that beautiful things can rise from the dust if you believe in your dream.
What lead you to start Ember Marketing Group?
I started a princess party company in my mid-20s, we dressed up as princesses and performed at children’s birthday parties and local events. I did so well marketing my company that I started freelancing as I networked with other business owners. That led me to sell Ever After Events and start Ember Marketing Group.
Was it an easy decision to launch your own business?
It was terrifying. I quit my job of ten years to start Ember. No more consistent paycheck!
What was your biggest obstacle when you first launched Ember Marketing Group?
Fighting through the fear of starting my own company and having to replace my income. I was in fight or flight mode for a little while, constantly hustling, getting paid inconsistently until I really found my niche and got my systems in place.
You also have a podcast, Campfire Hour. How did that get started?
A good friend of mine and I were moderating meetings for a local young professionals group and had talked for about a year of starting our own podcast, by young entrepreneurs, for young entrepreneurs. We found the perfect person to bring the dynamic we wanted and it all felt perfect and we were all invested so we just did it and made the time to make it happen. We launched in March of 2019.
It looks like you guys have so much fun with your podcast! Is that really what’s it like when you are recording?
Yes! Our tagline is “real, raw, with roasts hotter than your mom.”
We don’t do scripts, we don’t prepare our guests, we want it to have the feel of hanging out and chatting about real-life stuff. What you see is what you get! We invite guests on the show who are out of the box thinkers, rule breakers, bold business owners making waves. We want our podcast to be a place to be real, celebrate our successes together and collaborate instead of competing and share that with the world.
What is it like juggling a marketing agency and a thriving podcast? What are your biggest obstacles, if any?
TIME. I would PAY for more hours in the day. If I don’t really stay on top of my own time management, it’s easy to get overwhelmed running two startups plus managing all my client’s marketing.
What is your favorite part of what you do?
I really found my niche with small business owners and startups. I like to call myself a marketer and professional encourager because I work with people that most marketing agencies won’t take seriously because of their budget. My clients call me for advice, encouragement, to brainstorm ideas, to help hire as they grow and I LOVE being that background cheerleader that picks them up when they are down and helps them grow.
Relationships matter to me more than any amount of dollars ever will and cultivating those relationships has created some incredible friendships, collaborations and business opportunities for me.
How do you stay organized?
I live by my calendar and to-do lists. Every morning I make a list of the priorities that I need to get done and schedule anything else that comes up around it.
What is your typical day like?
I am the mother of 9-year-old twin girls. I usually get up early and get a few hours of work done then get them to school. During the day I schedule any client meetings, video shoots, and schedule time for myself to get work done at my computer. My workday ends at 4 pm so that I have the freedom to get to the CrossFit gym, cook dinner at home and have some family time after picking up the girls. We schedule our podcast recordings once a month and spend a whole afternoon recording so that we stay four weeks ahead.
Where do you see yourself in 2 years?
We are currently in the process of monetizing the podcast and I have some pretty lofty goals of being a seven-figure company two years from our launch.
What has been your biggest victory so far?
I went through the hardest year of my life in 2019. Real talk… my husband split right after I quit my job and started Ember. I was left with over $3k a month in bills that he wasn’t willing to contribute towards. So in the midst of being a brand new start-up and losing my steady paycheck I had to HUSTLE like never before just to keep up.
I used up all my savings, cashed out my IRA, and was able to sell my house and finalize the divorce as we were starting the podcast. Looking back now, I went from losing everything and starting all over and as painful as it all was, I am so thankful for the incredible life that I have now. I am so close to meeting my goal of making six figures with Ember in its first year and I founded a successful podcast that is on the verge of monetization in its 8th month. A real story of success born from desperation.
What advice would you have for someone who wanted to start their own agency or podcast?
The main thing I tell anyone when they start anything (whether it be joining a gym, starting a business, a new hobby, etc) CONSISTENCY IS QUEEN. You will never feel like you are ready, or it’s perfect, or it’s just the right time to start. You just have to do it. Especially when you don’t feel like it. Taking those little actions every single day is what gets you to your goals. Keep posting, keep networking, keep telling the world what you’re doing and what you’re offering.
What’s your favorite podcast to listen to?
Dax Shepard’s, Armchair Expert. It’s so real, just like ours. He celebrates the messiness of being human.
Fun question: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure? (Besides Kyle) LOL!
It’s Kyle! HAHA.
Kyle and I work together, live together, podcast together and are always on the go or always out and about networking. So we literally have to schedule downtime for ourselves which includes drinking whiskey coffee with bourbon cream (definitely my guilty pleasure), especially in the cold months. No phones, no talking about work or podcasting or brainstorming ideas, just sitting and sipping.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
My social media is highly curated, by me of course! I tend to keep my personal life private, especially my daughters. Unless you know me personally, most people don’t even know I have kids. I rarely post about them and I rarely talk about them to anyone outside my circle. This is a personal choice I made for their privacy.
Be sure to follow Kelli! You can find her links below!