Huckleberry Creative’s Jess Coleman on Developing Strategic Insights You Need to Deliver High Quality Work
Before we get started, here is some background information on our fabulous entreprenista Jess:
Jess Coleman is the founder of Huckleberry Creative, a full-service website design and development studio with a mission to make it easy and fun for entrepreneurs to share their genius with the world. She’s an experienced marketer, copywriter, and designer who helps busy business owners grow their brands by attracting the right customers with an authentic voice and messaging paired with a polished online presence. In case you’re curious, she’s got bachelor’s degrees in English literature and journalism plus a master’s in strategic communication. But the majority of her marketing muscle was developed in the field, learning on the job over a decade spent in corporate marketing, writing about and promoting services across a wide variety of industries. That’s how she developed the know-how to bring you the strategic insights you need and the hands-on experience it takes to deliver high-quality work that doesn’t require a million edits.
Hello Jess! What excites you about being an Entreprenista League member?
I’m an experienced writer, marketer, and designer, but my business is new. My goal for the next several months is building my network — with other like-minded entrepreneurs, referral partners, and potential clients. My BIG goal is to quit my 9-5 next year and go full time in my business.
What made you take the leap to start Huckleberry Creative?
I’d been successfully climbing the corporate ladder for years. I had two bachelor’s degrees and a master’s degree (still do, I guess). But I had reached a plateau. I couldn’t get a promotion or a pay raise. And I was bored. I was doing more work than anyone else on my team and getting paid the least. I started interviewing for other, similar jobs. And after a handful of fairly successful opportunities, I just realized I was burnt out and unexcited about this kind of work.
Jess, prior to being an entrepreneur, what were you up to?
My first job out of college was as a newspaper reporter. Then I went into education as a high school English teacher. More recently, I worked as a healthcare consulting analyst, a social media manager, and a marketing content strategist.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
My parents have always said I needed to be my own boss. I just have too many ideas percolating at all times. So, rather than continue to interview, I decided to shift my focus to building my business on the side. I’ve since “quiet quit” my corporate job and the vast majority of my energy is going toward building Huckleberry Creative.
When you first launched Huckleberry Creative, what was your initial marketing strategy?
The vast majority of my marketing outreach at the start revolved around word of mouth and referrals. It took me a while to figure out there were other things I could do to get the word out.
Jess, entreprenistas face challenges every day! What is the biggest challenge you have overcome so far?
I’m on my third iteration of my business. I started my business in September 2021 trying to recreate my 9-5, doing long-form content writing/ghostwriting. I soon after decided I wanted to shift to copywriting and branding. But I didn’t have the graphic design skills. So I partnered with a talented graphic designer friend of mine. We worked together for a few months and made $0. We were both working 9-5s at the same time and were just having a hard time aligning and moving the needle. After four months, she decided she could no longer invest time in building our business and departed. It took me a couple of weeks of grieving and regrouping to get over the disappointment. But since then, I’ve rallied and built a business that feels so well suited to where I am in life and what I want to achieve. I’ve taught myself the graphic design side of things (a long-time interest/dabbling pursuit of mine), and my business has taken off.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Finding the strength to move forward after my business partnership disintegrated.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Of course! Who doesn’t???? I use my calendar religiously. I’m a major time-blocking fan. I color code and move things around so that it becomes a living breathing to-do list. I have reminders set on my calendar for months from now. I always say “If it’s not on the calendar, it’s not happening.” Morning and evening routines. I always start my days by going through my email. It’s a nice easy way to start the day. I also often find things that need to be added to my to-do list. At the end of the day, I do another email review and spend some time looking at my calendar for the next day and the rest of the week. It really helps me to stay on top of things and be mindful of time if I can get a clear idea of what the immediate future holds. That way, I don’t have to spend precious time figuring out what to do next.
What’s a piece of advice you can share that you wish you’d known when you first started your Entreprenista journey?
You don’t have to know or do everything all at once. It’s a journey and there’s a real learning curve to this. As an A+ student, I really struggled with not having all the answers. I spent so much time researching and sitting on courses rather than doing and trying and experimenting. I think I’d be further along than I am right now if I’d focused less on doing the right things and more on doing what makes sense and course correcting as I went.
What have you achieved recently that you’d like to celebrate with our community?
Revamping my offering to pull out the strategy setting portion as both a separate revenue generator and an effective way of upselling clients to larger projects.
What’s next for Huckleberry Creative? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
I’d like to make my website upgrade offer a premium service for premium clients who are ready and excited to work with an expert and pay top dollar for a concierge experience and high-quality deliverable. From there, I plan to expand by introducing digital products and templates that can supplement my income and free up some of my time. I’d also like to adjust my processes to become intensives so that I can get the same amazing results for my clients in less time.