Erin Blaskie lives in Ottawa, Ontario. Known as the Bizinatrix, she is the creator of BSETC, a creative, professional outsourcing firm; eThusiasm, an online video podcast; and Ask Erin Live, a weekly live show that features fellow entrepreneurs and geeks.
Cendrine Marrouat: Hello Erin, thank you for answering my questions. In your bio, you mention that you are in “a hot, passionate love affair with the Internet.” Is there a particular event that triggered that passion?
Erin Blaskie: When I was a child, I think around 6 years old, my father gave my sister and I a Commodore 64 and let us play with it as much as we wanted. My sister and I would setup a pseudo-office in our family’s living-room and I would be the boss – assigning her work as I saw fit. My inner geek began to flourish then. Fast forward to when my family got the Internet and I sort of became interested in the possibilities. I had an online journal before blogging became popular and I would build websites in Microsoft Front Page for fun. I have always been drawn to the web and have essentially grown up on it.
CM: You are the CEO of BSETC, a company that provides social media services to entrepreneurs across the globe. Would you tell us a little more about it?
EB: Absolutely! I founded BSETC in August of 2004 when I decided that I no longer wanted to work for someone else. While I had an amazing position as an instructor at a private college, I knew that my inner entrepreneurial spirit was dying to come out. So, I launched the business and two weeks later, had our first client.
What we do at BSETC is provide a variety of services to businesses that need a team but cannot afford to have a full-time team in-house. Our team helps our clients reach their goals and we do this virtually. We have a team of twenty-two professionals from around the globe who have a broad set of skills. This allows us to be a one-stop shop for these business owners who may not want to source out a variety of talent from around the web.
CM: How do you usually work with your clients?
EB: Since our work is 100% virtual, we do a lot of our work via the Internet. We use Basecamp to manage our projects, Skype to chat amongst the team and with our clients, e-mail to communicate with our clients and their customers and the phone to do check-in calls and strategy sessions. We utilize the tools that we can to help the distance between us seem much smaller. As for the actual work that we do, we generally work with them to hone in on their goals and then help them offload the work that will allow them to reach those goals.
CM: Over 300 entrepreneurs have used the services provided by your company. Have you noticed differences in the way they ‘do’ social media? And does culture play a part in it?
EB: Absolutely! Industry plays a huge factor as does culture. Different people need and want different things from social media. While some industries afford the people in it to be more open and more exposed, other industries do not. When working with our clients, we are constantly having to modify how we advise them to ‘do’ social media and how we will implement on the various social media sites.
CM: You are currently working on your first book. What is the topic? And when will it be released?
EB: The book that I am writing is on the psychology of the entrepreneur and why some entrepreneurs never become successful and how they can change that. One of the things we see a lot in working with entrepreneurs is the need to jump from one thing to another and it usually becomes a problem. Lack of focus is the #1 business killer so we are exploring why, from the psychological perspective, entrepreneurs are prone to this. We are working on a release date now.
CM: Why did you create eThusiasm and Ask Erin Live?
EB: I love video and I love community. So, eThusiasm and Ask Erin Live allowed me to merge those things together and share what I know with my community via video.
CM: You are an online video host for Butterscotch.tv and Tucows, and you co-host the Macgasm video podcast. You have also worked with companies like Ogilvy & Mather and Travelocity. And I could go on and on about your achievements. Is there anything you have not done in social media?
EB: There are still many things that I have not yet done but the list is definitely growing smaller.
CM: According to you, what are some of the most basic steps a business/entrepreneur should take before launching a social media campaign?
EB: You want to make sure that your foundation is set and ready to handle the influx of people from your social media campaign. Make sure that you think about the process people are going to take. If they are coming from Twitter or Facebook to a web page on your site, what do you want them to do once they get there? Make sure to think about the conversion and don’t ask someone to do something big too soon.
The best thing to do is setup a landing page with a simple opt-in box and give something away for free. This will bring them in and onto your list without asking them to commit to something bigger. Then, setup autoresponders that will go out automatically to the people who opt-in to upsell them on other offerings as time goes on.
The way to make this super successful is to make it feel as custom as possible. Reference the fact that the person came via Twitter and keep it relevant to that relationship. Once you have your foundation ready to go and tested, start with one site and tweak the message, if needed, before you hit the next site. A tool that I highly recommend for social media campaign management is www.arkli.com. Set everything up in there and share it with your colleagues ahead of time.
CM: How can people get in touch with you?
EB: I always joke that all people have to do is Google me but to make it easy, here are a few of my key sites. You can read my business blogs and learn more about my history, etc. at www.erinblaskie.com. You can find out more about our creative, professional outsourcing team at www.bsetc.com. Lastly, you can follow me onTwitter or find me on any of the other social media websites.
CM: Any last words?
EB: Love what you do, do what you love and be as authentic as possible.