Orange County small business owner/blogger tells us how she got started
We’ve decided to start a new series of interviews with some local small business owners. We wanted to get in the minds of these owners, and hopefully from their experience, other business owners can learn something. We didn’t want our articles to only have information about business loans or financing. So today’s article is about someone I follow on Twitter and Instagram, her name is Mary Tran and she’s the owner and blog writer for www.LetsPlayOC.com. She promotes social play in Orange County, reveals all the great areas where you can spend time with your kids, including deals, family fun, travel, reviews, theater, and autism events. Even with her super busy schedule, she was kind enough to spend some time with me to do this interview. Thanks again, Mary!
1. When did you start LETS PLAY OC!?
2. What made you decide to make a blog about Orange County’s activities for kids?
I think that we do fun things in general and wanted to share it with other families. I was already sharing deals of fun places to take kids on play dates. Blogging just allowed me to reach an even larger audience to help more families.
3. Did you know this would become a business in the beginning or was this more of a hobby?
I think that as a business major, branding and promoting is always on my brain, but it’s more like a hobby for me because I share things I like.
4. Being a mother of two in OC and also owning your own business, how do you find time to juggle both?
Finding a balance is really hard, but I have found having a schedule works. Everything I want to do with the family, kids, and my blog, I schedule everything on my calendar.
5. Do you run your business on your own, or do you have assistants?
I am the main writer for my blog but occasionally I do have contributors that will attend an event in my place and write it for me. They receive full credit for writing their own work.
6. Did it take much working capital to get this business started?
Not at all. Less than $20/year with free hosting
7. What are your plans for the future of this Let’s Play OC!?
Let’s Play OC! is a family blog that covers OC and surrounding areas. I would like to have a team to cover more of both LA and OC to add value to the blog.
8. Out of all the amusement parks you visited, which is your top pick for kids and top pick for adults?
Disneyland, LEGOLAND, and Knotts Berry Farm. I picked these three because we love it as much as the kids do.
9. Putting your “businesswoman” hat on, what type of information can help you and other like-minded businesswomen in expanding their business?
Always be networking, join communities, and find a support group.
10. Do you see yourself expanding to other major counties outside of California?
Yes. I actually partnered up with another blogger to work on a new Family Travel Blog called SuitcaseMamas.com. We will be sharing our traveling tips.
11. If so, what would it take to do such an expansion? (Partnerships with other moms?)
Networking is key. You never know whom you’re going to meet and whom you’ll end up working with. There are many online communities available to join. You just got to find them or they find you. When the right connections are made, that’s when the ideas start to fly. Setting a goal, scheduling posts, and keeping the communication line open is also very important. You might also want a contract.
12. What are some things that you have done that you never thought would happen when you started this Blog?
How quickly it has grown. There are so many blogs out there so wasn’t sure how much of a following I had.
13. What advice or tips would you give other working moms about starting their own business.
Here is your best blogging tip.
To find a brand that you love from the get-go and I mean the right name for your blog. You are going to spend a lot of time with this brand so make sure you pick one that you absolutely love. For example, if you love crafts, food, parenting, don’t choose a name that handicaps you to write only about food. If you like blogging about electronics, pets, fitness, and everything under the rainbow, be sure to pick a name that allows you to write about all of that.
Best Business Tip:
Learn social media or hire a social media expert. Register with all of the different platforms. There are a lot of accounts but you want to be found. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, FourSquare, Yelp, etc. Most of the big companies are very active on Twitter and Facebook. If you don’t have a lot of time, link them together so it automatically tweets when you update Facebook. If you don’t have a big budget for marketing, work with several bloggers. They are really active in social media and will promote your business for you for a small fee and their followers are genuine. You’ll just have to find the right-targeted followers.
14. What is the best part of running Let’s Play OC!?
I get to do it from home and get to take my family on fun outings. (More than we normally would.)
If you would like to learn more about activities for your family in Orange County, visit Mary’s site or follow her on social media.