I’d like to introduce Katrina Fox from Vegan Business Media.
What was the ‘Aaahaaa’ moment when you decided to go Vegan?
I’d been vegetarian since the age of 11 when my mum told me the beefburger I was eating was made from a cow. I figured out that fish fingers were from fish and chicken was from a chicken and was horrified. In 1996 I was on an animal rights demo in London and offered the woman next to me one of my cheese and marmite sandwiches. She explained she was a vegan and told me about the cruelty involved in the dairy industry. I ordered a copy of the Vegan Society’s Animal Free Shopper and was stunned at how much we exploit and commodify animals. I pretty much went vegan overnight.
When did you embrace a compassionate Vegan lifestyle?
What were the reactions of family and friends when you first embraced Veganism?
My partner Tracie was a bit put out that I’d no longer be including our regular cheese products in the weekly shop. Trying to find tasty vegan cheese back then was hard. She was also worried that we’d be nutritionally deficient, but once she started researching it, she found the health benefits of plant-based eating and was happy. Other family and friends thought it was a bit strange and extreme.
Why did you start your business?
I’d been working as a journalist for around 18 years, both on staff and as a freelancer for a range of niche and mainstream media in the UK (where I’m from), the US and Australia. As the journalism industry changed, I looked for ways I could use my skills in other ways. I became interested in the entrepreneur scene and had business owners coming to me asking for help with how to get featured in the media. The thing is, I wasn’t interested in serving just anyone. All the marketing gurus spoke about the importance of finding your niche, your tribe who you passionately want to help. I realised mine are vegan business owners and entrepreneurs.
I looked around for books on how to start a vegan business and couldn’t find any, so, as many authors before me have done, I wrote the book that I wanted to read. Vegan Ventures: Start and Grow an Ethical Business. Shortly after that, I started Vegan Business Media, which started off as a blog providing multi-media content providing success tips to vegan business owners, which then morphed into a training and consultancy business, in which I work with clients from across the globe via Skype.
What problem are you trying to solve? (Or – what’s wrong with the status quo?)
So many vegan business owners are missing out on golden opportunities to promote their brand, product or service by getting featured in the media. They either don’t know how to approach the media and are afraid to try, or they give it a go but pitch journalists the wrong way. So, I provide media coaching/consultations and training, including my new online PR course Vegans in the Limelight, to help them take advantage of editorial opportunities to get into newspapers, magazines, TV, radio, podcasts and so on.
I also provide advice on other marketing strategies and profile-building activities that work in tandem with PR.
What’s your point of differentiation over your competitors?
My long journalism background combined with my vegan and animal advocacy plus my focus on vegan business owners and entrepreneurs. While other trainers and consultants are quite broad in their target demographic, I’m committed to working with my tribe – aspiring and existing vegan business owners – to ensure more people know about them and their brand. I also provide regular, free, high-quality multi-media content in the form of written articles and a weekly podcast Vegan Business Talk, in which I interview vegan business owners from the across the globe who share their challenges and strategies for success.
What’s the reaction to your product/service been like?
Very positive. When I get on a consultation call with a client, I give them everything I’ve got. I often connect them with other influencers and provide them with follow-up material and suggestions after the call. My consulting, training, writing (including media releases) has received high praise because I’m able to combine my passion to help vegan business owners with my PR, marketing and journalism skills honed over nearly 20 years.
What is your most popular feature/product/service and why?
At the moment, it’s probably my coaching/consulting. This is because people love one-to-one, individualised help. They get to be on a call or Skype with me to focus on specific strategies and actions they can take to grow their business by raising their profile. That said, I know that not everyone can afford one-to-one consulting fees, so I’ve just launched an online PR course for vegan business owners and entrepreneurs, which starts 5 June, 2017. Vegans in the Limelight is a 12-week course featuring video training, downloadable templates and materials, 3 live calls with me, and the opportunity to ask questions which I will personally respond to, on the course platform. It’s a more affordable way for those who can’t afford one-to-one sessions with me to learn the skills and strategies they need to do their own PR. In regards to my free stuff, the weekly podcast Vegan Business Talk is a big hit. I get people from across the globe contacting me to say they listen to it regularly, and many of those turn into clients.
Tell me about your journey to get to this point, what have you done?
As mentioned earlier, I was a journalist for nearly two decades, writing for both mainstream and niche media about a diverse range of topics, including animal advocacy and other social justice issues. The past couple of years I’ve focused on helping vegan business owners and entrepreneurs. It’s my form of activism, as well as being my business.
What mistakes have you made?
Haha, maybe not having a plan! I went through a few ideas, created some websites, thought at one stage I wanted to be a life coach. I didn’t really create a business plan for Vegan Business Media. I kind of ‘winged it’. I listened to my intuition which told me to write my book Vegan Ventures and then went with the flow. I didn’t really focus too much on the ‘selling’ side of my business, especially to begin with. I focused on creating a heap of free content to build trust and showcase my expertise, but should probably have devoted an equal amount of time on paid consultations or content. That said, I kind of think things worked out the way they were supposed to.
What have you learned, and what would you differently next time?
I’ve learned not to be afraid to sell and to value my time and expertise. I love producing free content and always will, but it’s important to make sure you have a sustainable business model with paid products and/or services, because that way you can help even more people.
What advice would you give to people thinking of entering this area?
Be consistent and patient. There is no ‘get rich quick’ option. If you’re providing services or courses or training in particular, you have to gain people’s trust so they see you as an expert. This takes time and you have to find that and the energy and commitment to prove your worth. If you think leaving your 9-5 to start your own business means you’ll work fewer hours, think again. It’s a lot of work to be successful, particularly in the beginning when you’re establishing yourself, which is why you must be passionate and motivated and totally committed to serving your clients. Be prepared to go above and beyond and wow them. Also, don’t be afraid to turn down some clients if they’re not a fit.
What type of customers do you attract?
I tend to attract two types of customers: New vegan business owners looking for some guidance, either on the viability of their project or to get PR and marketing strategies to raise the profile of their brand. Or existing business owners who are looking to service a vegan clientele. They tend to be self-motivated and understand the necessity – not the luxury – of investing in themselves by getting coaching or training.
What features/expansion are you planning in the next 12 months?
I’m running the first intake of my online PR course for vegan business owners and entrepreneurs starting 5 June, 2017. After that I will likely run it again, or look at starting a membership program. I’ve started to receive invitations to present or train internationally: for example, I’m hosting the business support room of talks and panellists at VegFestUK Trade in London, UK, in October this year (2017), so I hope to see that sort of thing continue.
How did you get started online and what technical challenges did you have to overcome?
I’d worked as a print journalist for many years and had to get on board with the online revolution when the publications I was working for moved in that direction. I upskilled myself in the basics of content management systems such as Joomla and WordPress, as well as CRMs such as Infusionsoft. I’ve been as frustrated as most non-tech people when things don’t work as they should or ‘break’ and you don’t know why. Google and YouTube have been my friend many times when I’ve looked for solutions in the form of tutorials or advice forums to problems I’ve experienced. Sometimes I manage to fix it myself and other times I’ve hired tech experts to do various tasks.
What did you want to be when you grow up?
When I was a young child, a vet. Then a writer. Since I wasn’t particularly gifted in science, fortunately the latter worked out! ?
What do you do for fun?
Well, my work is actually fun. But outside of that, I go to a community choir. You don’t need to audition or to be able to sing in tune, which is fortunate because I can’t! It’s very relaxed and attracts people from all walks of life. We sing a lot of popular show tunes and I love the experience of singing in a group. It elevates my mood and does me good to get away from the computer. My partner Tracie and I aim to have ‘family day’ at least one day per week, where we turn off our tech and just hang out, usually in a park or by the beach.
How do you spread your message about veganism?
Through my writing and other forms of content. I’ve done this throughout my journalism career and now it’s through the Vegan Business Media blog and podcast, as well as on my personal social media. I also speak and MC at events.
How do you think the Internet and Social Media has impacted on the Vegan World?
I think it’s made more people aware of the brutal realities of animal agriculture, which in turns has resulted in media covering these issues and in the past couple of years reporting on veganism more positively than ever. It’s also allowed vegans to create communities and places to discuss issues as well as share details about offline events. Of course there’s a certain amount of infighting and online abuse, but overall I think the internet and social media have been a force for good.
Do you follow business influencers online (e.g. Blogs, Podcasts, etc) and if so who?
Pat Flynn, The Blog Tyrant, Danny Iny.
What question should I have asked you that I didn’t?
Where do you get your protein? …. Oh wait, no! 🙂
You can find out more about Katrina and Vegan Business Media here.