Lara Kulpa has been making money online for over 20 years. She’s worked with Fortune 500 companies such as Kraft Foods and Live Nation, online communities like Neopets, and she spent nearly six years working with A-List Blogger, Darren Rowse. She’s been online since 1994 and has experience making money online with blogs, managing communities, social media, web development and more. Read on to see how she got started.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I was the Community Manager for ProBlogger, Darren Rowse, and I’ve worked as the Community Manager for several brands such as Country Time Lemonade, with a company called Kinetic Fin.
I’ve got a really long backstory, but basically, it boils down to my going to college to become a zookeeper, working in a zoo, and 9/11 making my whole life as I knew it come to a screeching to a halt. I then started over. I moved back home, worked about 298,471 different jobs, and decided that it was time to seek out something on the internet since web design was a hobby of mine and I’d been blogging since before they called it that.
I went to work for a few SEO companies when the owner of my last one told me to go out on my own because I’d fare better that way. I didn’t know at the time if that was a compliment or not but chose to take it as such. The rest, they say, is history.
How did you fund your business?
My business started with my home office, and computer and that’s about it. I spent less than $50 to make business cards and just started shoving them into the hands of people I met.
How many hours do you work a week and how much is spent in your home office?
When I first started it was like 25/7, but I’m finally at a point where I can almost always cut away around dinner time and let go for the night. There are always times where something will come up, and I’m back at it after dinner, but usually, since I’m up and online at 6 am every day, it can often wait. I do travel a bit for work. Sometimes I’m heading out on a 2-hour drive for a meeting, other times I’m away for 3-7 days.
How would you rate your success?
I’m always surprised when people say things to me like, “Oh my god! I’ve wanted to meet you!” or “Don’t you realize how jealous of you I am?” LOL, it’s just me, what I do. I love it, so I’m lucky that I get to do what I love, and to me, that’s pretty damn successful. :)
What has been your biggest business struggle as an entrepreneur?
Sometimes it’s hard to “fire” clients, but it’s a necessary evil. If things just aren’t working out where both parties are happy with everything, but especially if it’s been a long-standing relationship, it’s important to part ways and encourage them to find someone who can help them on the levels they need. I’ll often recommend other businesses to clients when this has to happen so that they don’t feel like I’m leaving them in the lurch. I care a lot about people, and I hate having to cut things off. It’s hard but unfortunately has to be sometimes done.
What advice would you give to a new entrepreneur?
Work your butt off and don’t be afraid. The whole reason I wound up working with Darren (Darren Rowse of ProBlogger fame) is that when I heard he was going to be at a pub for a meetup in Manhattan, I put my shoes on and hopped a train to meet him. He’s from Australia, so I knew that this was a rare opportunity, and even though I had no idea that what came of it was going to happen, I figured that it was a risk I needed to take. At the very least, I’d have met him and made a connection. I’d figure out the details later.
Take risks. Women tend to be afraid to lay it all on the line, and as a whole, we need to stop that. I’m not going to cater to women or cry out about gender bias because I’ve seen plenty of women in a heavily male-dominated industry make it to the top. It’s because they’ve got guts and they spill them without fear or armor.
How do you manage all of your personal and business activities?
I guess I’m lucky to say that almost all my business activities are personal, and I try hard to let go of work stuff when it’s time for fun. Sometimes it’s difficult, but it’s important.
I also make handmade jewelry and other artsy items, so it’s nice to just pop in a movie with my boyfriend while I’m making stuff. I’m one of those “Kill two birds …” kinda girls I guess!