Dianne Boyer learned a lot from her mother. From how to be a determined and tenacious woman to lifestyle advice and style and beauty advice. After Boyer’s mother passed away, she missed her presence and all the knowledge, glamor and advice she gave to their family. So Boyer and his niece Jennifer decided to start a blog doing just that, The harpist girls blog, dedicated to sharing the wisdom of the past and present through articles on fashion, beauty, travel and lifestyle. Today, the Oakland, Michigan-based entrepreneurial duo are focused on growing their SEO and working to attract paid advertisers to their site, while growing their loyal readership base.
Boyer’s story, told at The 1000+ Stories Story Exchange Project:
What was the reason you started your business?
When my mother passed away in 2016, one of the things that worried me the most was the loss of her guidance, wisdom, and a portal to the past. I kept a handwritten diary for a year, but it didn’t seem to be enough. I needed a bigger platform and that’s when the blog “The Harper Girls” was born, which I created alongside my niece, Jen. We wanted to find a way to preserve the fashion and beauty lessons of the past, but also to move forward and share tips and tricks from the present. Everything is connected. Wearing white after Labor Day has been debated for decades!
What sets us apart from other fashion and beauty blogs is that we are a multigenerational duo. One of the things we learned from our mom / grandma was that you can live your best life at any age and we’re here to show you how to do just that. We want to inspire confidence and joy no matter where you are in life.
how do you define success?
If you had asked me that question five or ten years ago, I might have given you a different answer. There was a time in my life when I might have listed a certain position I wanted to achieve, but everything changed. My definition of success is taking all the things you’ve learned, both personally and professionally, and using that knowledge in two areas. The first is to help you move forward. If I hadn’t worked in marketing for 30 years, I might not have the knowledge (or the confidence) to start this blogging business. Second, and most important, is to use this knowledge to help others. What good is this knowledge if it cannot be shared with others? This is why this blog has become a dream for me – to share knowledge, that if it only helps one person avoid a trap or find a way to get back on their feet, I will consider it a success .
Tell us about your greatest success to date
As simple as it sounds, getting started is our greatest achievement to date. We launched the blog in February 2021 and hitting the ‘live’ button on our website was a feeling I can’t even describe. It’s one thing to dream about something, it’s another to see it literally come true. As I mentioned, my definition of success is sharing knowledge with others, so launching a site that does exactly that fits my definition of success.
What is your main challenge and how did you overcome it?
At first glance, you might not think of a blog as a “business”, but it sure is. Like any other business, you have to find a way to make money to stay. Monetizing a blog takes a lot more work than just delivering content. You’ve found ways to make people find you and end up trusting you, just like any other business. So, while we’ve kicked off and started the ball rolling, it takes a lot of time to find ways to grow through SEO, partnerships, advertising, etc.
Have you experienced important personal situations that have affected your business decisions?
When we first started the blog my dad was in poor health (passed away in June) and I wondered if I should really go ahead with the business or postpone it. But eventually I decided there would never be a “perfect time” to start the business, so we moved on. It was difficult to take care of him and launch the business, but now I’m glad I did so he could see and be a part of the launch!
What’s your biggest tip for other start-up entrepreneurs?
My biggest tip is to get started, as easy as it sounds. You can always find reasons not to start. Even if you think it’s the perfect time, something may still pop up and hinder your trip. We just have to keep moving forward as best we can.
Having said that, I would have liked to have prepared a little more for the “after launch” part of our business. It was shortly after our launch that my dad got sick and I lost a bit of ground on things I thought I could figure out after our launch. I have no regrets because I wanted to spend this time with my father. But I guess I wish I could have prepared a bit more.
How do you find inspiration in your darkest days?
The best way to find inspiration in my darkest days is to remember my “why”. And that’s why I remember the lessons my mom taught me, not just about fashion and beauty, but also about tenacity and determination. She was the inspiration for the blog, so it’s easy to look to my memories of her to help me move forward.
What is your most important model?
My role model is my mother. One of the biggest lessons I learned from her is that giving someone your word and being reliable is one of the most important traits you can have. It all comes down to integrity – are you going to do what you said you were going to do? It was something she always did and I admired about her. And if she couldn’t do it, she would tell you. She has never shied away from handling people’s expectations and I really admired that about her. It’s something that I try to emulate every day.
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