How to be happy in business? How to create an engaged Facebook group of 12,000 users in just 12 months and turn your blog into a successful business that sells? When is it a good time for a U-turn career change? Dagna Banas, a former doctor-turned-business blogger and the author of the blog ‘Happy in business’ has the answers!
-How long have you been running the “Happy in Business” group?
I set up the group exactly on March 7, 2017 – a year ago. As of today, there are almost 12,000 wonderful entrepreneurial women there (and a few men).
-Your story is quite unusual: what made a doctor decide to create a group for business women and start helping them in marketing their businesses? Where did your interests come from?
I have been interested in business and marketing since I can remember. I’ve been interested in marketing practically ever since, I first learned about marketing and sales at university, what worked in MLM (Oriflame). I read a lot of books on the subject, and I also did promotion and marketing in my family business.
Yet work in the medical field still prevented me from revealing these interests, I was afraid that no one would take a doctor who teaches about marketing and business seriously.
At some point in my life I started dancing Argentine tango, which inspired me to make huge life changes.
I became more open and self-confident, but I also began to appreciate freedom. I decided to give up my full-time job in hospital, and later resigned from my freelance medical contract with the NHS (I worked from home for 2 years doing microscopic diagnostics) which still restricted my freedom because I had to show up at the hospital every 2-3 days.
I finally decided to dare to do what I always wanted to do (learn about marketing), and at the same time give myself the opportunity to work on my laptop from anywhere in the world.
I founded a blog szczesliwawbiznesie.pl (happy in business) to teach women how to run a company so that it earns money, gives them time for what is important and provides fulfilment.
The group was an addition to the blog, and it turned out to be an extraordinary and magical place where miracles happen: on top of getting support, help, exchanging knowledge and establishing business contacts our members also find new friends!
– What was the biggest motivation for you and what was your aim of the project?
The motivation was freedom and willingness to show other women that they can do everything if they dare, roll up their sleeves and ‘just do it’. I wanted to be free, I wanted to give up my job, which did not bring me happiness and satisfaction, and be an example for others that it is possible and worth it. If you don’t like doing something, just don’t do it. Life is too short to waste it on something that makes you feel exhausted and destroys you. Even if you have spent years building or studying it (like me in the case of medical studies and specializations).
– What was most difficult for you at the beginning?
First of all, revealing to the world that I decided to do business instead of medicine. I think I was most afraid of my friends’ reaction. As it happens in life, fear has big eyes. The reaction of my friends was very positive, so far I’ve met with words of encouragement and appreciation rather than criticism.
– Do you work from home, coffee shop or do you have your own office? Many people running 100% online businesses (including myself) are struggling with time management, finding the right space to work, as well as loneliness. What would you recommend to them?
I work from home. I have never had a problem with loneliness, or time management. For most of this year, online business was my ‘side hustle’, I was still working for the hospital so and I had to hurry up and make most of every minute to the last button to do something outside my day job. I have been a full-time blogger only since February only.
When you have very little time to work and know that you have to do it, or you may not be able to do it at all, then there is no problem with the motivation or organization of time. And I think all the time that if I have a backlog, I will make up for it at the expense of time with my child or at the expense of tango. That’s why I do not let them.
– Many people start with various online initiatives but do not achieve such success, especially in such a short time. What was the key to your success in your opinion? How have you attracted so many readers in such a short time?
It’s hard for me to say. I don’t think I’ve achieved any spectacular success. It seems to me that I am still at the very beginning of the road. It’s not exactly that I have created a blog, group, podcast and several online courses in just a year – it is not exactly what it seems. I have been learning and acquiring knowledge about it – also about creating digital products – for many years earlier. A year ago, I just decided that I would finally put this knowledge to use. The fact is that during this year I have learned the most, because we learn the most by acting and testing.
– After how many months of running the group did you decide to devote yourself to it full-time? How did you combine your professional responsibilities with the growing ‘Happy in business’ community? Did you use a virtual assistant, outsourced household duties?
As I said earlier – I’ve been a full-time blogger since February 2018. However, from the very beginning I had it on my agenda. How have I combined work, family life (I am a single mother to an 8-years old) and tango? I tried to make most of every moment. I hardly ever had time to rest. I am not trying to persuade anyone to follow this lifestyle (on the contrary!), because at some point I was really fed up with everything. One day I just realised I won’t be able to do it all without any support and started using the services of virtual assistants, and also Magda – a non-virtual right-hand woman – who supports me in various projects and takes care of order in the group. I’m also outsourcing some household duties and also get some help from my mother.
– Let’s talk a bit about building engagement in the group members and among readers of your blog. What makes people want to return to your group, blog or newsletter every day?
I have taken a very serious approach to building engagement in the group from the very beginning. First, I watched what was going on in other groups. I read everything out there about how to create an engaged group. But above all, I tried to think what would be really valuable for the group members. I’m constantly testing different ideas and checking what works. But it’s really the fact that I do not tolerate any hatespeak. In the group we have positive women and a fantastic atmosphere. Probably thanks to this, the ladies in the group feel confident to share things and engage, because it’s a safe space for them, in which no one will criticize them, will not laugh at them or mock them. They all support each other and help each other.
On the blog, I try to publish content that I would like to read myself. Same with the podcast – “meat only” content without unnecessary embellishment or small-talk4 about nothing.
I also try to provide only useful and actionable information in my newsletters. Simply put, my content is what I would like to read myself.
– Does email marketing make sense? I often hear that ‘people do not read emails these days’? How to write newsletters that actually bring value to the business?
Of course it makes sense. People not only read emails, but also respond to them, buy products thanks to emails and are waiting for them in anticipation. This year, I am going to create the first (I think) paid newsletter. I’ve always dreamed about people wanting to pay for emails from me. This year I intend to make this dream a reality, so I hope to prove that e-mails are not only alive and well, but that they can also provide so much value for the readers as to make them want to pay for them.
– Exactly: how to write so that people want to read?
I write as I would like others to write to me. I’m still far from writing newsletter I would be 100% happy with because I’m writing too “concisely”, I’m not doing enough ‘storytelling’, I do not build tension, mystery … But I think I write in value because in my writing I give specific tips and answers. And people want instead of the very art of writing specific tips. At least it seems to me that my subscribers want it.
– What mistakes do female entrepreneurs make most often when starting their own business?
Women usually are too scared. They are afraid of earning money. We have these strange belief that money is bad, that we should work hard and save the world. And put yourself last. I see this conviction in many great women. Women often price their work too low, especially when they love what they do. Unfortunately, the result is the lack of profits and often the need to close down the beloved business. That’s why I created the first online course on pricing in Poland (now there are a few of them on the market but when I was launching ‘The magic of price’ I could not find anything about it), which completely changes women’s thinking about prices. Thanks to that, they stop being afraid of earning money.
– How do you encourage users to buy your courses and e-books?
If you are asking about the sales process itself, then I actually make most sales through the newsletters. But it’s not like I’m sending an email and everyone is buying the product right away. There is quite a lot of free valuable content on my blog. I also give away a lot of knowledge in the podcast. Every week we have meetings in the Facebook group in the form of live broadcasts, during which am I answering questions of the group members and helping them solve various business problems. I think the sales process begins with giving. If someone finds the free content valuable and wants more – they will reach for the paid courses themselves. And the emails sometimes just help with that.
– What tools would you recommend to people who are also trying to turn their passion of sharing knowledge and helping others into a profitable business? A Facebook group, blog, newsletter or maybe a bit of everything? In what proportions and how to embrace everything so as not to lose motivation and authenticity?
I am the best example that you can do everything at once and also as a ‘side hustle’. But I wouldn’t recommend it. I’m sure that if I focused only on one thing, I could have much better results in this this area. If I focused on the blog, it would have more visitors, if I focused on the group, it would probably be even nicer. But I also wanted a podcast, video content, and in the so-called meantime, I am still creating paid courses, and this is the part of my work that is not so visible to the outsider, because at the time I’m a bit less present online.
I will definitely recommend a blog, a podcast and YouTube channel. I do not trust Facebook myself – even though I have a group there, one day Facebook may decide to close it – what then? Then I have my own media, such as the blog and the newsletter. If you want to build a long-term business – I would invest in posting on a blog and creating podcast. If you care about fast returns – you can only use Facebook.
– What are your future plans for the ‘Happy in Business’?
I would like the group to continue helping female entrepreneurs as it has so far. I plan to launch two new products this year: the course “Smart Feminine Marketing” and a paid newsletter.
I still have some ideas to help group members promote their businesses inside and outside the group, but I will only reveal them when I finish working on the course. I’m trying very hard not to take on more than three projects at a time.
Thank you for the interview and good luck!
Thank you and good luck with everything!