In today’s episode, we are joined by Hollie Prescott. Hollie is the Co-CEO of HerHQ – an organization committed to helping women break free of corporate constraints by creating their own online business. As a prior Advertising & Marketing Executive at McCann, Hollie felt a constant pull of how to “get to the top” without sacrificing her dreams of seeing the world.
Taking the leap, Hollie saved up enough money to travel, put in her notice at her 9-5 job, and decided to take a huge risk. However, after 9 months of traveling, she realized she would need to figure out SOME means of income if she didn’t want her travel days to be cut short. So Hollie started offering graphic design services right from her laptop – sitting in a van in New Zealand in between exploring. Hollie quickly learned that she could make a full-time income right from her laptop. She then went on to become one of the most well-known brand & web designers in the online space working with mega brands like Club Life Design & BossBabe. Fast forward to today, Hollie & her business partner Chelsea help thousands of women a year ditch the corporate structure through offering freelancing or digital services in the comfort of their PJs.
Tune in as we dive into all things community – including how community has evolved over the years, best ways to build a community online, and so much more.
In this episode, we discuss:
- [01:38] How Hollie and Emma first met
- [05:24] How Hollie got started in the online space and how she’s pivoted over the years
- [11:59] Hollie’s experience with meeting her business partner and forming her current co-led business Her HQ
- [17:12] Her HQ’s first launch + how they expanded their product suite to help done-for-you service providers
- [22:15] How Hollie and Chelsea dealt with comments about their unconventional business relationship
- [23:00] How community has evolved in the online space
- [27:33] The importance of cultivating the culture of your community
- [34:53] Hollie’s top 3 tips for building a community online
- [40:36] Tips for hiring a community manager and other help in your business
How Hollie and Emma first met
Hollie was one of the very first people that Emma met in the online space, all thanks to a Facebook group. Working with Hollie was actually Emma’s first big investment in her business back in 2019 before Ninety Five Media was even a thing.
How Hollie got started in the online space and how she’s pivoted over the years
Hollie has always had a passion for travel, so much so that she went to university abroad in Australia and took a six month trip to travel after graduation. After that trip, she moved back to the UK and got a corporate job. At the time, she had no plans of starting her own business and just wanted to get a good corporate job and climb the corporate ladder.
Hollie’s first job was as a buyer at ASOS which she really enjoyed. She then pivoted and went into advertising at McCann, a top advertising agency. At one point, Hollie remembers looking around and realized she didn’t want the life that any of her coworkers had.
She has always wanted to have a family and kids but noticed that most everyone in the highest paid jobs were men except for one woman who was unmarried and had no kids. She noticed that the ones who did have kids were looked at as an inconvenience by others. At that moment, she realized that she wanted something more.
Once she quit her corporate job, Hollie and her now husband did a 9 month-long trip around the world. They saved money for ages so that they didn’t have to worry about working the entire trip. During this time, the only knowledge of the online space that Hollie had was travel bloggers and thought that they were the only people who could make money while working remotely. Hollie knew travel blogging wasn’t in her future because she hated writing. They then moved to Australia for a year and that is when Hollie started becoming more familiar with the online world.
From there, she started working with a few clients and learned as she went. Hollie believes that we don’t need a ton of experience to get started because we can learn while doing. From there, she continued to get referrals and really started showing up in Facebook groups. Her intention in being active in Facebook groups was to build connections and make friends since she didn’t know anyone in real life that was working online – but she ended up getting the majority of her clients from that one Facebook group just because she spent a ton of time building relationships there.
Hollie began to experiment with different things but stayed under the umbrella of graphic and web design. She also began mentoring people in addition to offering services until 2020 when she formed a business with a partner and decided to leave her own business behind.
[11:59] Hollie’s experience with meeting her business partner and forming her current co-led business Her HQ
In 2020, Hollie and Chelsea met online during the height of the pandemic. They were both looking for connection and ended up having a Zoom coffee chat and things quickly fell into place.
Hollie believes that one of the key things that made their business successful was the fact that they were not friends before starting their joint venture business. Going into business with a friend can be a bit risky and Hollie found that going into the relationship from a business partner approach and then becoming great friends after was much easier.
During their initial meetings, they really got to know each other and asked deep questions like “what are your core values” and “where do you see yourself in 3, 5, 10 years?” They wanted to make sure that their values aligned and that the partnership made sense to pursue.
Hollie and Chelsea are very different personality-wise, but their skillset compliments each other which makes them a great pair. After quickly realizing that they had the same drive and love of serving others, they decided to go all-in and create Her HQ together.
Eventually, they decided to both shut down their own businesses and truly go all-in because they didn’t want to be partially committed to Her HQ. They knew that they could make an even greater impact together.
Her HQ’s first launch + how they expanded their product suite to help done-for-you service providers
At the end of 2020, they did their first launch together and sold some templates to test the waters and make sure that they had made the right decision. Then they ventured into hosting and selling masterclasses and creating their programs, Foundations and the Accelerator to help online service providers create sustainable businesses.
Her HQ was built specifically to help done-for-you service providers – including online business managers, social media managers, copywriters – essentially anyone who offers a done-for-you service. The content within their community and programs caters to service providers because there are so many resources out there to help coaches grow their business but not a lot out there for service providers.
How Hollie and Chelsea dealt with comments about their unconventional business relationship
During the early stages of their partnership, Hollie and Chelsea put their blinders on so that they could block out any potential negativity. This made it easier for them to focus on building the business instead of addressing people’s concerns about their partnership.
How community has evolved in the online space
Hollie believes that community is crucial as people crave connection and want to be seen, heard, and feel safe. While the way you build your community and where you build it might change, the need for community doesn’t change because the basic fundamentals of community will remain the same.
Hollie has always loved building community and helping others feel seen and heard. Her HQ has a popular Facebook group called the Break Room for people who already have businesses and are looking to build connections. Recently, they created a brand new program called Online Business Builder for aspiring business owners along with a free Facebook group called Online Money Maker that helps those who are just learning about the online space figure out how to create businesses.
Although there’s a lot of talk about Facebook groups being dead, Hollie and Chelsea have continued to grow their two Facebook communities each month. In fact, their newest Facebook community has grown from 0 to 2,000 people in just one month. Not only has the group grown quickly, but it is also extremely active, which goes to show that if you create an intentional community that makes people feel good, algorithms won’t matter. Hollie and Chelsea lead the community by putting their values first – which is likely why they attract people who are ready to build connections and put their all into participating in the community.
The importance of cultivating the culture of your community
Her HQ’s audience is primarily between the ages of 25 to 40. Most of them worked in corporate America for at least 2-3 years before deciding to become an entrepreneur. As an expat, Hollie’s desire to create change is even greater. She wants to show people that just because it was that way for your parents doesn’t mean that is how it needs to be for you.
Hollie believes that the more women making money, the better the world becomes because so many of our decisions are based on money or lack thereof. With more women making money, it becomes a smaller part of the decision-making process so that you can put yourself and your family first without worrying as much about the implications of spending money. Hollie recognizes that this is a very privileged point to get to in life where you can make choices without considering the money involved but she believes that it is possible for more people to reach this level of financial freedom through entrepreneurship.
Hollie’s top 3 tips for building a community online
The first thing you need to do is think really carefully about what type of community you want to create. Dig deep and ask yourself questions like “what are the values of this community?” and “who is this community going to be best for?”.
Hollie also recommends that having a more niched down community is best because your community members will have a lot more in common that way. This will also make the community much easier to share about for both you and your members.
You also need to get really clear from the get-go about why someone would want to join your community. Once you have defined your community values, then lead your community each day with those values at the forefront. For example, say something negative happens in your community. You want to make sure that however you address it, you do so in a way that aligns with your values. You also want to ensure that your community is delivered what they were promised.
It is important to remember that building a community takes work. When Hollie and Chelsea first started the Break Room, growth was slow at first but then it began to snowball. Just because you’re not seeing huge growth immediately doesn’t mean that it isn’t working.
Hollie’s best advice is to lean into what’s working, promote your community wherever you can, and show up and be an active participant. Eventually when showing up constantly got to be too much, they hired a community manager to help keep the group flowing without them having to be the only ones moderating the group.
Tips for hiring a community manager or other help in your business
When it comes to hiring help with your community, it is best to hire before you are desperate because then you are able to find the best fit instead of hiring whoever just to get the role off your plate. When you do this, you have no time to prepare to make that hire or train that new hire once they have joined your team. This sets you up for disappointment because it is hard for someone to fully assume a new role without any sort of guidance.
Being intentional about planning for hiring and doing it when you still have some free time makes for a much smoother transition. Your new hire may not do it exactly the way that you did, but if you give them the proper training, they may do an even better job than you.
Remember that when you’re hiring someone, it may not work out perfectly the first time but don’t let that stop you from trying again.
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