Episode 24: On Virtual Assistants, Growing Your Business & Book Marketing Ideas with April Hardeman (Equestrian Author Spotlight Podcast)
Episode 24: Welcome to the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast! In each episode, you’ll hear inspirational stories from horse book authors including writing advice and marketing tips to help you write your own horse book. If you are an author, aspire to be an author, or simply love horse books then you are in the right place!
In this week's episode, you'll meet Virtual Assistant and Owner of Make It Rein April Hardeman. You'll learn ...
Watch April Hardeman's Interview on YouTube!
Or listen to the audio only version.
About April Hardeman of Make It Rein
April Hardeman is a horsewoman that has lived as a military wife in Germany for the last three years. Wanting a job in the horse industry, April she started Make It Rein, a consulting company helping equine businesses negotiate the quagmire of online technology. In today’s’ podcast, April offers marketing advice to equine authors and ways they can grow their book business.
April Hardeman Interview Excerpt
Carly: Tell us how your love affair with horses began.
April: It started from a young age. My mom got her first horse when I was 5 and I started taking lessons at 9 on a black and white Paint named Brandy. I got my own horse when I was 14 and he was a bay Paint. I fell in love with showing at local shows because of being around so many horse people and the show community.
Carly: Tell us about your furry friends.
April: Currently I have a 9 year old Paint Gelding named King. I was there the day he was born and I have done the majority of training on him. We have tried multiple disciplines from Western Dressage, Ranch Riding, Trail, Horsemanship, Cutting, Mounted Shooting and Archery. Can’t wait to be back with him in a few months!
Carly: This interview is a little different. You are in the business of helping others help their equine businesses run more smoothly as a Virtual Assistant (VA). Tell us about your business, what a virtual assistant does, and how your services can benefit authors.
April: I own Make It Rein where I help equine business gain exposure online through creating content, social media management, SEO, email marketing, and video editing. I also specialize in creating online courses and memberships. I call myself the Tech Savvy Equestrian.
VAs are great because its contract work and authors can hire them for just specific jobs. Some Virtual Assistants help with admin work such as organizing your computer files or emails. However, I dive a little deeper and help strategize how we can grow your exposure online.
I can help authors strategize and implement on how to get their books more exposure online through email, SEO and social media platforms
Carly: How many clients do you work with at a time? How do you manage your time and keep track of your different clients?
April: It can vary monthly. I work with about 5 - 10 a month. Some are just quick projects and some are long time clients. For example, I have a client that was moving from one membership platform to a new one. That was a month long project. I have another client that brings me a few clients because of how her business is structured.
To manage my time, I use a physical planner, a digital planner (Google calendars) and I do time blocking. I also use a system called Trello that helps me keep track of all my tasks and ideas. The system also lets me keep all my client information there that I need and is easy to find.
Dubsado is a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) that helps keep track of the clients with invoices, workflows and a scheduler
Carly: How do you reach your clients?
April: I have been incredibly fortunate that the majority of my clients have found me. My first client found me after I posted my first blog post called "My Story as a Virtual Assistant". She is still one of my clients. I post a lot on social media with tips and I try to be really approachable if anyone has questions. I am passionate about helping equine businesses be successful online.
Carly: What do you wish you had known when you started out?
April: To Niche Down more. As some like to say the riches are in the niches. I am very tech savvy and can help in so many areas. So I niched down to the equine industry and then have started to be more of your go to tech person for courses, membership, landing pages.
Carly: You went through a rebranding and changed your business name from Dream Virtual Assistant to Make It Rein. Tell us about the process and why you decided to change the name.
April: When I first started my business I didn’t think I would be able to find enough equine businesses that would need my support. So I picked a name that was a bit broader. However, I found that the majority of my clients were in the equine industry and I need a name that was more fitting. When I came up with Make It Rein it just felt so right.
Carly: Which hurdles did you face during the rebrand and how did you overcome them?
April: My business was only a year old, so the transition wasn’t too bad. The response on social media was very positive. The trickiest part with the name change was the email, my main point of contact. Then having my systems that I use were registered with my old business email.
Carly: Your blog has excellent content on social media, marketing and branding. How do you come up with your topics?
April: A few ways. A few of the topics were when new things had been released from platforms and I knew it was important for the equine industry to be on top of them. Sometimes the topics came from a place where the industry is lacking.
For example, my last blog post on blog topics was important because blogging for all types of equine businesses is so important and doable. I also do some keyword research to see what people are searching for on google. Then I do some fun things with Search Engine Optimization to play with titles and meta descriptions.
Check out the Make It Rein blog here: https://makeitrein.com/blog/
Carly: You have recently started a podcast. Tell us about Rein in Your Herd, your co-host, and what listeners can learn there.
April: Laura Langfitt, my co-host, and I both really wanted to help equine business owners know how to grow their audience online. We want to give owners the knowledge they need to move forward online and share how other businesses have grown. We also like to point out that running the business online isn’t always perfect. Just important to be real with your audience.
Everything we talk about we have first hand experience with. Just the other day we were recording a podcast episode on Messy Action and in the middle of it we realized we were not recording our faces and flipped over to video without restarting. We like to say “just keep showing up consistently.”
Carly: I was also a guest on your podcast. Thank you for having me! I had such a great time talking horses, marketing, and books with you during the interview. It makes my spurs jingle when equestrians and small business owning women unite.
Listen in the the episode here: https://reininyourherd.com/carly-kade/
Carly: You also do a lot of fun videos on YouTube including challenges. Tell us about your YouTube channel and how you develop your video content.
April: I have a unique process of leveraging my content. I like to call it “reining content”. Some may call it leveraging your content. Ultimately what I have done is create content off of my videos or podcast episodes. Unfortunately, the past couple months I wasn’t able to put up videos because of finishing my MBA.
But I have already recorded more videos to being going up shortly. Then off of those videos, I create content for the other platforms. To me it is important to make sure that when I repurpose the content that it is used properly for each platform. For example, when I do a youtube video, I would make a short square video for Instagram and use hashtags. Then I would use a similar video for Facebook, but make sure it was named correctly and a fitting description.
Carly: Do you have any advice for equine authors on how to market their books?
April: First off, I just want to say how great of a job Carly that you do at marketing your books. You are on so many platforms and having your blog and podcast definitely help. Especially with having people recognize who you are.
I know a lot of people who independently publish now, which is fantastic and something I hope to do within the next year. I think it is important to treat the book that you have coming out like a book tour except with being remote.
Reach out to bloggers, see if they are interested in an interview or a review of your book. Especially ones that you know are active on Pinterest. Not only do you have their blog audience, but the possibility of an audience on Pinterest through pins and tailwind tribes. Blogging is also AWESOME for SEO purposes and being mentioned on multiple websites gives your book recognition and yourself as an author.
Also get on podcasts. This one for sure! There are so many great podcasts out there in the horse community now. A good one to always be on too would be Horse Radio Network. If your book is discipline specific, find podcasts in that area.
YouTube is also great because, well hello, Google owns them, so the second best search engine. I think you do this Carly, but not sure. You could read a passage from the book and you could just have an image of your book and yourself. It doesn’t need to be fancy. Then what is super important is tagging the video correctly and making sure that your captions are on point for what you said. I know this isn’t the fun part, but it’ll help so much.
If you are on Facebook or Instagram, a great thing would be to encourage people to share a photo of them reading the book and tagging you or using a certain hashtag and then you could share this either in your posts, but better yet on your IG stories!
Another great touch may be to add the end or somewhere in the beginning to tag or use a certain hashtag
If you are still writing your book, think of ways you could have people join your email list. Maybe you have a character's background that you want to dive more into and say they can get that by going to this link in the book and they sign up for your email. Now you have their email for if you have promotions around the book or having another book coming out in the series.
If you have a book on how to work with horses, maybe you have an exclusive exercise if they go to a certain link. Something bonus outside of the book to join your email list.
Email lists are important because you own this list. You don’t own all the social media platforms and they are always changing. We don’t know if FB and IG will be around forever. But you will always have that email list.
Carly: What makes you feel inspired or like your best self?
April: I feel great when I know the work I am doing is helping my clients be successful which ultimately helps the equine industry. I really enjoy what I do.
Carly: What is the hardest part about running your own business and being an entrepreneur?
April: I work so hard on client’s businesses that sometimes my business gets pushed to the side, but now that I have put in a better system with “Theme” Days that has helped a lot.
Since I am overseas and all my clients are in North America, I end up working all day. I work on projects during the day and do calls in the evenings.
Carly: What is the best part?
April: I get to work in an industry that I completely love. I love horses and I love the people that love horses.
I get to stay home with my daughter. I was pregnant with her when I started my business and I feel she was a big reason why I finally gave myself the push to start. One of my favorite quotes is from Brene Brown “Be the Adult you one your child to be”. I want my daughter to know I am going after my dreams and that it is possible for her to do the same thing.
Carly: What are you curious about right now?
April: What the next steps that equine businesses should be taking right now. I know that a lot of equine businesses/authors/bloggers want to know more about Facebook Ads and how to utilize them so my course for that will be coming out soon.
Connect April Hardeman of Make It Rein
Join April's Facebook Community Here:
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New Author Interviews Each Wednesday!
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About Podcast Host & Author Carly Kade
Carly Kade is an award-winning equestrian author and the host of the Equestrian Author Spotlight podcast. Creative writing makes her spurs jingle! She writes fiction about horses, horse shows, Western pleasure and a handsome cowboy or two. Her books are for people just like her — crazy about reading, horses and cute cowboys!
In the Reins, the first in Carly's series of novels inspired by the equestrian lifestyle, has been an Amazon best seller for more than 10 weeks, is an EQUUS Film Festival Literary Award Winner for Best Western Fiction and has earned two Feathered Quill Book Awards in the Romance and Adult Book featuring Animals categories. The In the Reins equestrian romance series is available now in Audiobook, Paperback and eBook on Amazon, Audible, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks and Kobo.
Books by Carly Kade
Carly Kade writes for anyone who loves horses, handsome cowboys and a great romance. Creative writing about horses makes her spurs jingle!