This is a follow up story for Coping Skills for Kids. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published over 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started..
Hello! I’m Janine Halloran, I’m a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and I’ve been working with children, teens, and their families for 20 years. I’ve worked in a lot of places, including schools, mental health clinics, and I continue to have a small private practice where I see clients.
Several years ago, my husband and I wanted to work remotely, but I still wanted to help kids. After working on some other ideas, I founded Coping Skills for Kids back in late 2015 to help kids learn how to cope with their feelings in safe and healthy ways.
I’ve written workbooks including one that is a bestseller - the Coping Skills for Kids Workbook. Based on that, I’ve created posters, card decks, activity books, and wrote a teen version of the book called the Coping Skills for Teens Workbook.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
We’ve grown a lot - the pandemic was strangely good for business. Before we knew anything about COVID, I was planning to launch my Coping Skills for Teens Workbook in March 2020. It ended up launching the same week we went into the first lockdown. It caught on quickly, thanks in part to colleagues sharing about it, and a lot of families were trying to figure out what to do in the midst of all the uncertainty. I’m thrilled that kids and teens find my books helpful!
Since the last time I was featured, I’ve doubled my monthly revenue - thanks in large part to the launch of the Coping Skills for Teens Workbook in March 2020.
Growing our team
During the first few months of lockdown, I realized I needed help, so I hired two part time associates to help me with customer service and social media. About a year later, I also hired people to help edit videos and podcasts. I can do it, but I’m also a parent of two teenagers and I still see private clients, so time is precious. I’d rather spend time doing something else, and pay an expert to do that work for me.
Launching new products
Over the last few years, I’ve been growing my different lines of products. Now I have an entire line of Coping Cue Cards with beautifully illustrated coping skills. I’ve also launched a full line of activity books for younger kids, and added a feelings faces poster to my poster line. And of course, I have the Coping Skills for Teens Workbook.
Growing my email list
The most consistent marketing strategy I have found is growing my email list. I have some popular and informative free downloads that people can get when they sign up for my email list. Once they’re on the list, I email weekly, sharing helpful information, and then letting them know about products I have. I took the Business Made Simple Course to help clarify my message, and I found it helpful. I’m really proud of my open rate.
Podcasts & Speaking Engagements
Speaking and podcasts are another way I like to grow my audience. Creating my own
podcast has made creating new content so much easier. Writing blog posts is tough for me, but I find speaking and interviewing people is much easier, plus podcasting has become quite popular these days. From one podcast episode, I get the audio version of the podcast, a youtube video and a newsletter blast. Interviewing experts brings new people to my audience. I’ve also been on several podcasts so that’s been fun, and helps grow my audience. It can also lead to speaking engagements.
Since the last time I was featured, I’ve been doing a lot of speaking engagements for both professionals working with children and for parents/caregivers. Over the last couple of years, they have been mostly remote-speaking engagements. Some of the highlights are the Big Life Journal Masterclass, Glenbard Parenting Series and the Parenting in Place Masterclass. I’ve also been interviewed for articles in Parents Magazine, Psych Central and CNN.
Social Media & Press
Advertising on social media has been very inconsistent in terms of returns, and takes a lot of experimentation. I also took a course on Facebook ads that helped me get a better handle on those types of ads, and I’ve seen the most success in terms of social media advertising there.
And finally, I was honored to be named my college’s Alumni Entrepreneur of the Year in 2021. We had a remote celebration back in Spring of 2021, and then an awards ceremony over homecoming weekend in October 2021. I gave a talk when I was there, and recently spoke remotely at an Open Coffee about being an entrepreneur.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
Shipping and logistics around that have been challenging to say the least in a pandemic (lost orders, damaged orders, trying to track it down, reshipping to the customer, etc.). While I love having physical products, I also want to expand my digital product offering to lessen all the hassles of shipping and packaging, etc.
Don’t fall for the gurus who tell you what to do in your business. Think about what will work for your personality, your products, and how you want to market.
It has been freeing to have other people do some of the work I found tedious or challenging. For example, I can edit videos, but it takes me forever, and then I don’t have time to do things like writing the next podcast episode. I had to let go of being in control but giving those tasks over to someone else has been completely worth it. I have plans to clean up my email inboxes and hand the day-to-day management of that over to someone else as well, to free up even more of my time.
I like to step back and take a look at the big picture with my business regularly. Every month, I keep track of the numbers - social media, podcast downloads, page views, revenue, etc. Then every 6 months my husband/business partner and I like to take a weekend away, discuss the good and the bad, and make a plan for the next 6 months to a year.
Since the pandemic, we haven’t been able to do a weekend away like that, but instead, we talk in short spurts about what’s going on and what to do next. I’m looking forward to potentially doing an actual weekend away this July.
What’s in the plans for the upcoming year, and the next 5 years?
One realization that I’ve come to is that I need to focus exclusively on marketing to professionals working with kids. When I market to educators, counselors and therapists, it has led to some pretty big school-wide or company-wide orders, and I’d like to continue that trend.
In the near term, we’re planning to grow the digital product line, to reduce issues with shipping and handling. At the same time, we do have plans to launch some new products, including more books, a game, and fidget that’s classroom-friendly. We’ve also been debating about creating an app.
In terms of a 5 year plan, we have been thinking about creating a recurring revenue stream that works for me and brings value to people. I’ve thought about a community, or a resource library. We haven’t quite settled on a product yet, but we have several ideas bouncing around.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
In terms of business podcasts, I very much enjoy Mark Dawson and the Self Publishing podcast. I self publish most of my books, so I’m in charge of marketing and I love the ideas and strategies that he gives. He has courses on advertising with amazon that I want to take and experiment with running ads there as well.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Keep track of your numbers - see what’s working and what’s not. While I do track things like how many followers I have on social media, the more interesting numbers for me are page views, google rankings, podcast downloads, email subscribers, revenue, costs, etc. Focusing on the numbers, especially top pages on my original site helped me shift my focus to coping skills for kids.
Don’t fall for the gurus who tell you what to do in your business. “You need an app”, “You need a Facebook group”, “you need to do webinars”, “You need to do reels” etc. Think about what will work for your personality, your products, and how you want to market.
Of course you should try things, but don’t drop serious money on a course promising you the world when you don’t have revenue coming in, just because some person says their system is the ONLY way to grow your business.
Learn as needed. When I first started, I was constantly listening to business podcasts, and I ended up feeling a little overwhelmed by it all, like I’d never get it all done, or I was super behind. I started instead focusing on learning what I needed to learn at the moment.
Like when I decided to start pursuing wholesale business, l researched and learned how to make a line sheet, a catalog, etc. It helps me focus on my immediate needs rather than feeling like I had to add more stuff to my already crowded list.
Where can we go to learn more?
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