Olyvia Works: An Interview with Regina Anaejionu of ByRegina.com
Today’s post features the kind + stunning + hilarious Regina Anaejionu, the creative and whip-smart force behind byRegina.com.
In honor of her, I cannot go on without first sharing a short story of how we “met.” You’ll see why when I’m done.
A couple months before my website even LAUNCHED — it was nothing more than a humble “coming soon” page — I was pinning my first things to the Olyvia Pinterest account.
Naturally, like every blogger/business owner on Pinterest, I pinned some of Regina’s stuff.
(Because who can resist, right?)
The next thing I know, not only does Regina comment on one of those pins with a delightful thank you, she tells me:
“I love your sweet logo on your website + your great cover photo on Twitter (not a stalker, I promise, just love good design). Can’t wait to see the site after it launches.”
Here I was with nothing going for me but a few pins, a few tweets, and one lonely website page…and this woman treated me like I was super cool!
I should have known then to expect a lot more out of Regina than I did, but at the time do you think I really expected her to notice my site after it launched?
But you can guess what happened by now, right?
She did notice.
And not only did she notice, she started telling her followers to check me out.
You and I both know: that’s rare. The average person, well…they just don’t do that.
But Regina is not the average person. Not even close.
From that day forward, I knew one thing for sure. She would always have a loyal fan, colleague, and friend in me.
Thank you, Regina, for your extraordinary class, hard work, and generosity. I am proud to share this space with a woman such as yourself.
And now, the interview:
1. Regina, you haven’t always run your own business. Tell me more about what was behind your decision to leave the standard 9-5, employee life behind and become a creative business + blog coach.
Honestly, I discovered two things: (1) I do not make a good employee when I’m not challenged or when I have supervisors that I’m pretty sure were sent from Mars to harass hard-working, stable-minded people with their nonsensical processes, and (2) even when I had somewhat challenging jobs and enjoyed working hard and helping to improve the company, at the end of the day, I was doing it all for someone else, and not working toward leaving a legacy for my family or completing my life’s work.
So, I stopped working for “The Man” and started my first real business (a cleaning business) and blog (a writing blog) and then second real business (freelance graphic design and websites) with a linked blog. I worked temp jobs or part-time positions if I needed or wanted extra money, and I’ve never, ever regretted leaving behind careers that were killing my creativity and brain and soul. Too dramatic? Oh well.
My graphic design business is what eventually morphed itself into my current brand, which has been providing a full-time income for which I’m very grateful. I enjoy connecting with people like me, who’ve discovered they’re not great employees when they’re not doing meaningful work. I love helping those people build blogs and freelance businesses. For lack of a better cliché phrase, all my new found friends mean the world to me.
2. Describe the challenges you faced setting up your business.
Challenges? What are those? Hmm, let’s see. I faced (1) people laughing that Regina was starting yet another business, (2) learning how to truly budget and manage money (ongoing process), (3) working on projects I kinda hated just to pay the bills, (4) and then learning to say “no” so my creativity and joy didn’t suffer a slow death, (5) LONG hours and sometimes zero sleep to finish books, workbooks, products, and projects, all while friends thought I was sitting around in pajamas-which is probably what I was wearing, but still, (6) re-building my traffic and site after a re-brand this April, and (7) consistently creating content that I’m convinced will help people and content I can truly be proud of. Let’s just go top 7 challenges for now.
Oh, and if I were giving two pieces of advice (that I’d like to consider nuggets of wisdom) for anyone with similar challenges-find a friend who understands what you’re building and document your process. I started sending emails to my future self with FutureMe.org. It was so therapeutic and I felt like it wasn’t a diary since it was via email. Also, you get these emails in the future that make you laugh, cry, and all that stuff. It’s kinda epic.
3. You also teach Continuing Education classes at the University of Texas at Austin. Tell us more about how long you’ve been doing that and how you find it enhances your coaching and consulting services.
I’ve enjoyed teaching at UT Continuing Ed. for the past three years. Workshops and classes are so valuable because they allow you to hear the thoughts and frustrations of multiple people who have similar goals. These classes have been the biggest driver (outside of my blog friends) of the types of products I create and blog posts I write. Teaching also makes great connections and sets you up for even more speaking/teaching.
4. You have some of the most — if not THE most — recognizable blog graphics out there. They’ve been pinned thousands upon thousands of times! What do you think is the success behind their viral nature? How can others improve their blog graphics so that they get noticed on sites like Pinterest?
Awwwww, Erika. Thank you. Seriously, I think the “secret” is ignoring the “rules” (mainly because there aren’t any) and creating something you think looks good. Most people are a member of their ideal audience. They’re either in a similar place as their audience, or they came from that place. So, it stands to reason that if an image or words or idea resonates with you, it will do so with your audience as well.
There were pro marketers who had research that convinced them you had to use red in your pins, and you couldn’t use human faces, or that your pins had to XYZ blah blah blah. I don’t snub my nose at all research, I just think that sometimes “research” can direct people to do a certain thing (not use human faces in pins) and then there’s even more data now to prove it’s a bad thing that people just don’t do. Two of my pins that have 10K+ repins have human faces. Don’t always follow the rules.
- Grab a compelling image that you haven’t seen 127 times around the web already.
- Put a title, tip, or quote from your post on said image.
- Throw your web address (and optionally your logo) on the image.
- Add some element (shape, Photoshop brush/effect, etc.) that makes your image stand out or match your brand even more.
5. What has been your biggest biz success over the last two years…and what do you wish you could go back and do over?
Hmm, I guess actually it’s my recent Grow Your Blog Traffic with Social Media eKit. It’s a massive PDF (267-page eBook + workbook) + online lessons + an online community rolled into one. An excellent + motivated group of people have formed to go through the eKit together and I love love love learning from them.
And in the words of the immortal Shawn Spencer from the classic TV program Psych: “No takebacks. No doovers.” I’ve honestly learned so much from doing things “the wrong way” that I don’t want to go back and do anything over again. I think I could establish my business much faster than I did, but honestly, the fact that I didn’t gives me a greater sense of urgency for helping others avoid the unnecessarily long route.
6. Share your long-term, utterly crazy-but-delightful dreams for the byRegina brand with us!
Yikes. I’d like to get into technology and products that will make life easier for creative business owners, own a coworking facility on steroids (coffee shop, trainings, work space, epic design, etc.), and establish a workshop/conference that is not about leaving feeling inspired, but is about leaving after getting a lot of stuff DONE. It will be a WORKshop.
7. And, lastly, what three books should every new small business owner have in their library, and what three websites should they have bookmarked?
- a book to help your writing (mine is Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing, by Mignon Fogarty)
- a book by someone in your niche who you admire (mine is Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World, by Michael Hyatt)
- a book to escape to that jostles your creativity (mine is whatever mystery novel or Mindy Kaling book looks good in the moment)
- your own site (love it, watch it, improve it, add to it)
- a site you want to write for or take example from (mine is Entrepreneur.com)
- a site that is visually stimulating and useful/fun to read (this varies for me, but I love rachelgadiel.com, penandpeplum.com, and Olyvia.co)
What was the most powerful / helpful part of Regina’s interview for you? Do you have an inspiring “Regina story?” Go on, share it below!
Photos of Regina © INspiredphotos.net (Olyvia Works pic), Walter Anderson (ninja turtles pic), Isaac Yzaguirre (outside pic), Laurie Fryar (broadway hat & tie pic)