Black Blogger Month: Indie Business Blog, Making the Net Work

Providing a haven for small business owners looking to grow their brand, Donna Maria Coles Johnson is an independent woman on a mission

Donna Marie Coles Johnson of Indie Business Blog

Coles Johnson is all about your business

When it comes to business, Donna Maria Coles Johnson admits she can be quite the chatterbox. Collecting 12,000 page views per month on her site, Indie Business Blog, people don’t have a problem listening. The founder and CEO of Indie Beauty Network and Indie Business—a communications company assisting small and independent business owners—is known for sharing advice and resources, as well as introducing the biggest movers and shakers in business to her audience.

The married mother of two is a trusted voice in small business, as The Wall Street Journal, National Public Radio, and ABC World News have tapped the Washington, DC native for her business expertise. In addition to blogging, Coles Johnson, 48, continues to share tips and discuss hot button business issues by hosting the Indie Business Radio show, a weekly program in Charlotte, North Carolina, and was listed as one of the “80 Small Business Twitterers You Should Be Following” in American Express OPEN Forum. As Black Blogger Month continues, Coles Johnson chats with BlackEnterprise.com about her early beginnings in the blogosphere, how she built her brand using new media tools, and the importance of doing your research before making a new hire.

I started blogging because…

I recognized the need to use the Internet to engage and communicate on a regular basis. I actually started an online journal in 2001. I used a regular website newsletter that would link to my latest journal entries that were about life and business. I kept doing it until I discovered blogging. My first official blog was created in 2005. Now, I blog five to seven times a week.

The Indie Business Blog stands out because…

It’s consistent. I don’t write those blog posts that say, “Hey, guys, sorry I’ve been too busy to post…” I pay a lot of attention to detail and the blog has all original content. I’m real. It’s me. I bring professionalism that’s approachable.

Networking has helped me…

Have more fun. I get to communicate with people I can learn from even more. More events, conferences, seminars, webinars that I go to or host. I love meeting people and sharing ideas.

Building a brand is important because…

It gives you constant insight into how people see you. It’s like an emotional relationship with people. Ultimately, while we are selling products and services we’re also selling an emotional experience that can help others have a better life. That emotion is tied to your brand and is what people remember.

People trust my brand because…

It’s like an ongoing conversation. It’s written in a personal tone and flows in that way. I respond to almost every comment and my readers know that I’m writing for them.

The number one key to being successful as a small business owner is…

Creativity coupled with tenacity. You have to have both.

The biggest mistake I ever made in business was…

Indie Business Blog logo

Hiring a fancy design service without checking them out. I spent $1,500. I saw the work they had done before and thought they were good. But they didn’t deliver. I should have researched the company better. It was really painful. It took 60 days to get through the fallout from that.

The most common mistake small business owners make is…

Trying to do everything themselves. I’ve made this mistake. If you’re doing everything yourself, you get tied up and can’t focus on what you’re good at. As Michael Gerber puts it: some people are working too much in their business and not on their business.

Starting a business is easy, the hard part is…

Being the leader of the business and managing it profitably. It’s so easy to start the business—file papers, set up a website, a Facebook, and Twitter account, but continuing to deliver and serve your customers or audience—that’s the hard part. That’s where tenacity comes in.

The best business advice I ever got was…

Hire good people. Find people who have integrity, want to learn and are honest and help your business grow. People who are competent and do everything but have no integrity put your brand at risk. I’ve had both. Luckily, more of the good than the not so good.

Anyone who wants to follow in my footsteps should…

Examine their lives and figure out what that statement means for them. Maybe they want the lifestyle or income or the car you have. I would encourage them to define what that means, what do want? What is that “something?” From there you can determine if you’re willing to put in the work to get what that something is.

In business you should never be afraid to…

Fail. If you’re not failing you’re not trying anything new. You’re not growing and if you’re not growing, you won’t be in business very long.
Be sure to check out the rest of the digital thought leaders as they’re revealed each day by logging on to BlackEnterprise.com/BlackBloggerMonth.

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