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
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