Martine De Luna was the Author and Editor of the popular blogs Dainty Mom and, later on, Make it Blissful, where she was known as a home and parenting blogger and influencer. In her time as the Editor of Make it Blissful, she learned many strategies and ideas that were helpful and important to people who were looking to build an online brand. But she reached a point where she wanted to “take a back seat” in the world of influencer marketing, and so in the latter part of 2016, she retired from the face of her blog.
Today, Martine is happily a Branding Consultant for bloggers and small business owners who want to keep their online efforts in step. Read on to see how this mom made the jump from Blogger to Branding Consultant.
You’ve been working from home since 2010. Tell us a little bit about yourself and your entrepreneurial journey.
I started working from home in 2010 when I resigned from a teaching job at a school so I could focus on my first born, who was around 6 months old at the time. I began with a blog, which mainly was a diary for my beginning WAHM journey. I found out about Craigslist and LinkedIn, and I started to look for writing jobs there.
One day, a digital marketing company based in L.A. reached out to me and auditioned me to be a copywriter, which I had no knowledge of! But I managed to nail the interview and the audition, and they made me a copywriter-in-training while putting me on a retainer for my writing services. I’ve been working from home ever since. At the same time, I became an active mommy blogger, doing sponsored engagements, direct advertising, and also working with a blog advertising agency for paid work.
How has your business evolved over the years?
About three years into the work with that digital marketing company, I decided to branch out on my own and become a “blog coach” because women in the Philippines were reaching out to me asking me to “coach” them on how to improve their blogs. I would give random tutorials on writing for a blog, on how to build a brand as a blogger, and on how to create a business plan for a blog. I got into it by chance because I just kept getting referrals. I invested in coaching from women in the U.S. because, for me, there was no one locally doing what I was doing. I attended training and online seminars to improve what I knew and learned about branding, blogging, and writing.
Today, I’ve mostly retired from blogging. I blog from time to time about branding, and self-development (something I have gotten into the last year and a half), and I actively use my personal Instagram to keep in touch with the readers who knew me as a blogger in the past. Sometimes, I will have sponsored Instagram posts, but that’s not often.
After three major business rebrands, you know quite a lot about online branding. What branding tips do you have for other online business owners?
Branding and brand identity are two different animals. Sometimes, we can confuse branding or rebranding with “Oh, I think I need a new look for my website.” Branding is about bringing your core values to the world, about putting out a message, seeking to bring value to others, and then leveraging on that value through a business.
If you are a small business owner and you wish to attract a certain client, then you must assess the “why,” “what,” and “how” of your business. Your “why” is what people will essentially “buy” into, because they resonate with your core value, with who you are. I typically attract women who run small businesses in the creative or education (non-academic) fields, because that’s how my brand is perceived. So I get the clients who “click” with my core value to connect inspiring ideas with purposeful people. Once people see “Oh, I know this person understands my personality, my own “why”; then she understands what I am bringing to my clients, and this helps me know how to deliver the best product or service to them.”
Do you have any special training?
I’ve mostly been trained by mentors. No certificates or credentials, if that’s what you mean. I’ve given trainings and workshops in local colleges and companies, about personal branding. All of my learning has been on-the-job.
What types of marketing strategies have worked best for you?
Social media and word-of-mouth marketing has always been the best method for me. I’ve had some success marketing my business using Facebook ads, but a lot is still generated by organic inquiries from social media. My Instagram receives a number of private messages, so does my website inquiry form.
How did you land one of your first clients?
My first client for blog coaching was a reader who wanted to put up her own blog.
How are you monetizing your business now?
My website itself doesn’t generate income from web activity. It’s just a platform where people can go to know more about me, about hiring me, and maybe read a blog post. I make my income from consulting sessions, from consulting packages, and from social media management retainers.
What has been the key to your success and longevity?
I’ve never stopped learning. When I see a slump coming (like the slump in mommy blogging), I adapt and think, “How will I keep ahead of things.” I also don’t rely on just one stream of income; I’ve traversed into other areas, like network marketing, long-form high equity investments, and passive income.
What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurs?
1. Make your vision for yourself clear
Even when you are tempted to flake or get demotivated, that vision will pull you through all the hard work you need to do. When you are an entrepreneur, your vision is your “boss.” So if your vision is, for instance, “I want to have more time to enjoy and live my life,” then you will create systems so you are not always IN your business all day because you want time away from it to enjoy your life.
2. Be with successful people
Don’t spend much time focusing on “Oh, it’s so stressful to be an entrepreneur” and wallow in negativity. Yes, accept the stressful and hard times, but after a short time, find your solution, find your lesson in the stress and step up. The best way to step up is to be with people who are highly motivated and who are more successful than you. Listen to their podcasts; watch their Facebook lives; meet up with mentors regularly, but then DO something right away with that motivation. Action always precedes the results of your business.
3. One practical thing not to forget: Stay healthy!
No amount of time making money can replace a healthy body, because you only have one body, one life that will make your family’s goals and dreams possible. Exercise four times a week; eat whole foods and supplement accordingly; and get enough sleep!
How do you manage all of your business and personal activities? Do you outsource any parts of your business?
Yes! Laundry isn’t done here; we get it done professionally. Soon, my oldest will be going to a small, progressive school, because we have unschooled in the past. So I guess I’m outsourcing teaching! My husband and I take turns being “assigned” on kid duty, like when one of us has to leave for a client meeting or to check on the shop (My husband has a coffee bar in the city). We keep a very simple life, so I don’t have much to juggle. Keep things simple and doable, and you should be OK.
Thanks, Martine de Luna, for sharing your story!
Originally published October 30, 2010. Content updated November 6, 2017.