Saturday, February 27, 2016

Teachers Who Rock! An Interview with Kelli Alaina Wise


Hello! Hello!  I am so excited to start my new blog series Teachers Who Rock!  My first interview is with the amazing Kelli Alaina Wise.  She graciously took time from her schedule to answer questions that I am sure many of us want to learn.

From amazing lessons to business success, Kelli has definitely rocked it!  Her kind spirit and cheerleading for others has helped many stay focused and motivated.  Her constant challenge to try something new pushed me to focus on my blog and do a 30-day challenge.  As a result, I found that I love blogging and sharing my new finds.

So without further ado, sit back, enjoy your cup/glass of (Fill in the Blank), and get inspired.

What was your inspiration behind your two recent projects - Instagram Insiders and The Goal Diggers Workshop?
The inspiration for allll of my projects as a small biz girl stem from two things. First, I consider what my audience needs and wants the most.  I ask myself questions like: What is it that they’re talking about?  What frustrations are they expressing?  The second thing I think about is what I’m a) capable of providing and b) passionate about creating or offering.
So here’s how these two factors played into the inspiration behind my Instagram Insiders and Goal Diggers projects. The #TeacherpreneurTribe Facebook group is my online family. Evvvverything I do is to help them in some way – through whatever motivation, encouragement, or useful information I can provide to support our community.
Over this past summer, the primary focus of the group was on sharing the best social media strategies to help each other extend our reach online. By surveying the tribe, I learned that the overwhelming interest in the group was to begin focusing on Pinterest. As a result, I prepared a daily challenge (minus weekends) encouraging discussions around Pinteresting topics. Then, as Operation Pinterest Powerhouse was wrapping up, I polled our group again to find out which platform everyone would be most interested in exploring next. 
Again, a huge majority of our tribe members voted for Instagram.  This interest motivated me to take Instagram e-courses on my own and do as much research as possible (while also implementing the strategies I learned for my own account) so that I could provide valuable content for our tribe.  I knew lots of people were really hungry for this knowledge, so I wanted to be able to give them the best strategies that would help them succeed with IG.  Because I’m a lifelong learner at heart and I also looooove both teaching and creating pretty things, organizing the free 25-Day Challenge as well as my Instagram Insiders Mini Course was great fun.  I also reached out to a few teacherpreneurs that I considered to be experts on the platform and asked if I could interview them.  This was also TONS of fun because I love learning from other passionate, super helpful, and amazingly generous teacher friends!
Later on, I approached the Goal Diggers project a little differently than the Instagram challenge and mini course. This time I didn’t survey the tribe.  I just paid close attention to what was going on in the online teacherpreneur world. I noticed that people were really excited about declaring their #olw (One Little Word) to set an intention for their businesses going into the new year.  This made me realize that while it was a fun and useful activity, teacherpreneurs could benefit from more guidance with setting strategic goals and mapping out a clear plan to achieve them. 
So this is how the Goal Diggers workshop was born.  I wanted to provide a free learning opportunity for our tribe members to think more deeply and strategically about their goals and plans for the year while also coming together to support and encourage each other through the process.  I love hosting online events and, of course, creating pretty things… so the workshop and DIY Funbook were a no-brainer for me!  I also added an option to work with me privately for coaching because I know the goal-setting and planning process tend to be easier when you have someone you can trust to walk you through it. (And helping others 1-on-1 to find clarity from within their confusion is one of my favorite things to do!)

How do you manage your time with with 3 boys and a business?
This is a fantastic question!  I’m completely convinced that being a work-from-home mom is one of the most challenging AND rewarding opportunities on the face of the earth.  I can’t even come close to pretending that I’ve got it all figured out!  But I also feel incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to navigate the everyday chaos with my Wise Guys by my side.
It’s similar in a lot of ways to working in the classroom.  No two days are ever the same.  And even when I begin the day with a great plan in place, nothing ever goes entirely as planned.  In fact, I’ve learned to start each day expecting the unexpected. Snow days, sicknesses, and never-ending piles of laundry seem to be par for the course. 
What’s really worked the best for me is to imagine how long I think a business task will take me and then add a considerable amount of “margin” to that expectation.  For example, if I think I’ll need an hour to write a long email, I’ll set aside an hour and a half or even two hours for the task because I’m sure there will be some sort of distraction that will interrupt me.  My work time is super limited because I’m also caring for my infant son during the day, taking care of household chores, and spending time with my older kiddos when they get home from school.  That’s why I have to be realllly efficient with the pockets of work time that I DO get.  I like to plan out my day the night before so that I can hit the ground running as soon as I wake up.  But my plan has to be very loose because, as I said, no two days are alike!  I have to make my plans with the expectation that they won’t play out the way I imagine them in my own little dream world.

As a person with an education background, learning the business tools has been hard for me. What are the most important things you have learned about running a small business?
Learning all the ins and outs of online business is a daunting task for sure!  That’s why I’ve made it my mission to learn what it takes to be successful online so I can shorten the learning curve for my fellow teacherpreneurs.  I believe teachers have sooooo much knowledge, expertise, enthusiasm, and creativity to share with the world. I absolutely love doing anything I possibly can to help make it easier for them to make an impact beyond their own classroom walls.
One of the most important things I’ve learned as an online biz girl is that being a part of a community of like-minded business friends can be crucial to your success.  I’m positive that I would not be in the place that I am today if it weren’t for the guidance of both my business coach and the support and accountability of my mastermind group. 
I also think it takes guts to invest in your business when you’re first starting out because you’re hoping to make money rather than spend it. However, I believe that when you take the time to think strategically about exactly what you need to move your business forward, making a smart investment can pay off in huge dividends.  A wise investment reflects the fact that you truly believe in yourself because it can easily pay for itself when you commit yourself to gaining the knowledge or support that you genuinely need to grow your business.

What advice would you give to teacherpreneurs to stay motivated?

My advice for teacherpreneurs to stay motivated is to find their tribe and stay connected.  When you try to operate your business on your own, it can be a very lonely and isolating experience.  Having friends who “get it,” know what you’re going through, and know how hard you work is priceless!  And I believe two minds are always better than one.  The best decisions I’ve made for my business have ALWAYS come from  discussions I’ve had with my “cheerleaders” who know how to ask me the right questions and help me see the things that I wouldn’t have seen on my own.

Again I would like to thank Kelli for her interview.  If you want to learn more about all of the amazing things Kelli is doing for teachers and teacherpreneurs, you can follow her at...
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Cover Image: blue67/Dollar Photo Club


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