Episode 22: Building a Multi-Million Dollar Marketing Agency From Scratch, with Danielle Wiley of Sway Group

Danielle Wiley is the founder and CEO of Sway Group, a multi-million dollar marketing agency centered on influencer generated content. A blogger since 2002 and an executive at Edelman in Chicago (one of the largest PR firms in the world), Danielle recognized the high-level engagement involved with bloggers. After launching Sway group in 2011, the agency experienced 1,000% percent growth and grew to a platform of over 100,000 influencers.

Danielle is a regular contributor to Forbes and AdWeek, discussing topics from women empowerment, influencer marketing, and her experiences as a CEO. Although she experiences an incredible amount of success and landed features in almost every major publication, Danielle says she still deals with self-doubt and stress—just like any other entrepreneur. Listen to how Danielle exponentially grew her company and how she balances being a mom, wife, and business owner.

Discussed in this Episode:

  • Her original dream job: Write as a recipe critic
  • How she started blogging: Her husband encouraged her to dabble in blogging in 2002, she launched FoodMomiac in 2005.
  • How long it took her to quit her job (from getting the idea to putting in her notice): 2 years
  • Why she wanted to launch her own business: She never wanted to be an entrepreneur, but knew she would “kick herself forever” if she didn’t at least try
  • What she credits to her first year success: Having a major feature land in AdAge the day she launched, calling her company a “talent agency for mommy bloggers.”
  • When she first used influencers at Edelman: She wrote a PowerPoint titled Web 2.0, and had to explain to the client what a blogger was (this is before Twitter was even invented)
  • How she keeps a good relationship with clients: She believes all conflicts rise from miscommunication. Sway Group does a great deal of communication up-front, having a client strategic brief the “size of a novel.”
  • How she feels about mistakes: “Everything we do came as a result of some sort of mistake.”
  • Biggest culture shock in working from a large PR firm to a start-up: Doing her own work
  • How she feels about big dreams: “Losing an entire salary and not paying yourself [as a business owner] is really scary, and you need to have big dreams to act as the light at the end of the tunnel.”
  • Why she didn’t go after funding: She didn’t want a bunch of “guys in suits” telling her what to do.
  • What she credits most for her business growth: Being able to pivot and take risks
  • Biggest life change from a business perspective: Joining a CEO-only group called Vistage, where they talk coaching, business stress, and other issues
  • When she experiences self-doubt: “Every hour…That’s just human nature.”
  • Best war story: Her partners called her on vacation saying their profits tanked, and it was “all hands on deck” to turn the company around (and they did).
  • Her productivity hack: Keeping a bullet journal divided between business and personal to-dos
  • How she likes to workout: The Pelaton
  • Nightly routine: Watching tv shows with her family
  • Her A-Cup: Landing a major feature in her college quarterly newspaper
  • Her definition of being a woman: Multitasking being a wife, mom, business owner, and everything else, yet still making it work

Find Danielle

Sway Group Online

Sway Group on Twitter

Danielle on Twitter

Sway Group on Facebook

Danielle on Instagram

Find Kara

For All the F Words

Kara on Instagram

Kara McCartney online

Find Tara

Tara Laferrara Online

The TL Method 

Compass Fitness, Denver Colorado

Beach Movement Balance

Tara on Instagram

Tara on YouTube


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