Growth Hacking Interview Series #121: Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama to two precocious toddlers from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s a professional writer and an online business marketing consultant with a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

Gina enjoys helping other freelancers gear up to quit their day jobs and take their side hustles full-time. If you’re interested in starting a freelance career, take Gina’s FREE writing course to kick-start yours today! Click here to get the first lesson sent to your inbox.

How did you start out as a marketer?

I’ve always been in sales, but I started out in internet business as a freelance writer.

Through freelance writing, I learned more about online business, affiliate marketing and monetizing a website through product sales. It’s all very interesting and there’s a lot of opportunity that exists.

Looking back, what is your hardest struggle when it came to delivering results?

I think the hardest part is putting in the work, time and effort when there is no guarantee.

It also takes a lot of time and effort to build a following and in the beginning it can seem like you’re just treading water. But if you keep at it and don’t compromise your values, results will come.

How did you get your first client back then, and what kind of service did you do for them?

My first client was my informal mentor. I pitched his job board ad for freelance writing and he hired me to write WordPress theme reviews of all things!

What do you find most rewarding about what you do?

I like connecting with different people and encouraging them to pave their own way/follow their dreams.

The world of work is changing and it’s an exciting time to be a webpreneur. You can literally define your own career and with hard work, ingenuity and persistence it can pay off big time!

We have a lot of readers who are bent on becoming freelancers, aside from freelancing how else can someone earn online, and what is your advice?

Well, the easiest way to get started is to sell a service. This would be like freelance writing, virtual assistance, web design, etc.

You can also monetize your own blog/website through affiliate marketing (selling other people’s products/services), advertising (not something I’ve had experience with) and selling your own products like books, courses, etc.

I’ve had a lot of success with the latter and it’s a nice “passive” way to diversify one’s income. I say “passive,” because it’s still work – you have to be constantly marketing and putting yourself out there.

If you were given the chance to build your career all over again, what would you do differently so that you will achieve your dreams faster?

Nothing.

It’s all been a great learning experience. I’m not sure I could have gotten here any faster. And if I knew what I was doing ahead of time, it might not have happened! 😉

How is your typical work day structured?

I generally work between 8-4pm CST and sometimes add in another hour after I go to the gym/have dinner. Between 12-1pm CST you can find me having lunch with my family and laying our two toddlers down for their daily naps.

My work time is a combination of writing, VA work and working on my own website. I try not to get distracted by social media or email, although my inbox has a strong hold on me! 😉

Can you tell us about a time where you had to put in significant effort up front and then wait a long time for success?

I think blogging in general fits into this category.

Many people who start a blog and website give up at the six month mark when they’re not seeing the results they want to. Keep going – give yourself at least two years to make significant progress and treat yourself like a client by giving yourself deadlines and following through on them.

I have a great post here about how actively blogging for a year aided in my business’ success.

Can you tell us about a past situation where you had to juggle multiple projects with competing deadlines?

I’m constantly juggling multiple projects with competing deadlines.

I still have writing and VA clients, for example and it’s hard not to let their deadlines surpass my own. I’ve made sure to treat my own site like a client though (because it is and it actually makes for at least half of my income most months) and make my own projects a priority, just like I do for client projects.

My own site’s income didn’t always represent such a big part of my revenue though, so I had to have faith that eventually my front-loaded work would payoff!

What recently-developed marketing strategy, technique or tool interests you the most right now?

I think using content upgrades for email list building is genius and really effective.

Basically you’re creating an additional piece of content specific to that blog post and asking people to opt in to your list in exchange for the free download. If they’re digging what they’re reading and you’re offering something good, it’s a no-brainer!

What do you do to stay up to date with new marketing techniques?

I try to follow people whose opinions I respect.

I also get to learn from my VA clients who are always trying new things. Lastly, I attend conferences on an annual basis to learn what’s working for others or new on the horizon.

Can you tell us about a project you’re most proud of from your past work history?

I just finished version two of my course, 30 Days or Less to Virtual Assistant Success.

I more than doubled the content, moved it from email delivery to a back-end courseware, added video, quizzes and much more. It was a lot of work, but it came out great!

Which one book/blog post would you recommend every Marketer should read?

I just finished, Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur, which was a great book by Derek Sivers upon recommendation from one of my clients.

I listened to it via Audible over the same weekend that I painted my new home office. It was great and really geared towards his learnings and mindset. Two thumbs up! (PS: Use this link to try Audible and get two free audiobooks.)

What advice would you share with other marketers who want to become more productive?

Just get started.

And then keep going. Take whatever your big goal is and break it down into tiny steps. Then cross them off your to do list one by one.

You got this. Why not you, why not now?

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