A Few Questions With…Victoria of Vivaleur and The B Bar
Today I’m thrilled to have one of my favorite bloggers, Victoria from vmac + cheese, here on the blog! On vmac + cheese Victoria shares bits of her life, health-conscious recipes, gorgeous photography, and tons more. Victoria is also an entrepreneur who runs several businesses, and if you’re a blogger you’re going to be very interested in these. First there’s Vivaleur, where Victoria offers graphic design and social media services. If you’re in need of a blog re-design, social media kit, or blog consulting, Victoria is there to share her expertise. Next there is the B Bar, which is an amazing resource offering e-books on a variety of topics that are really helpful for both bloggers and small business owners alike. Then there’s The Well, the B Bar blog, which posts on interesting and always thought-provoking blogger-relevant topics.
Below, Victoria shares her experiences in running her online businesses, and I loved reading her answers. What really shines through to me is what a smart and savvy business person she is (very inspiring!), and also how much she cares about the blogging community and helping others within it.
Me: What inspired you to start Vivaleur?
Victoria: I had been wanting to launch a business for some time, and really wanted to be working for myself. I have a somewhat varied background — experience in marketing and PR, the food and wine industry, and of course, working in online media. So I initially launched Vivaleur as a mishmash of my various skills in the form of different services. When I first launched, I offered blog consulting, Photoshop tutorials, graphics, menu planning, cooking lessons, food education — all these different lifestyle services. However, I soon realized that I enjoyed working on the online media and design side a lot more, and quickly pared down the services so that I could focus on what were the most promising revenue streams, and also, what I enjoyed doing the most. I think I initially didn’t have the confidence to really sell my design skills, so it took me a little time to learn what I needed to know and build my confidence! Really though, at the core of why I launched this specific business, I wanted to be my own boss, but wanted to do it in a way that could help other entrepreneurs, and would still allow me to be really creative and involved in the online community. The business has done all that for me, and more!
Me: How did you decide to start the B Bar?
Victoria: I met my co-founder, Meg, at Alt Summit in January 2012. We had a mutual blog friend who knew both of us and swore we would get along well…and she was right. After Alt, we started Skyping and chatting a lot, and later in the year, I proposed that we join forces. Meg and I each bring a unique perspective and approach to the business of talking about blogging, but we’re both observant and analytical and keen on helping others. We also liked the idea of creating an additional income stream that was low maintenance…from a strategic standpoint, I can only take on so many consulting or design projects every month, so this was a way to scale my businesses. It was a win-win for me. One thing that has been so gratifying with The B Bar is passing on my knowledge to fellow bloggers. I firmly believe that if we help each other, everyone in the industry benefits.
Me: How did the processes for undertaking the two different endeavors compare?
Victoria: It’s obviously different when you’re building a business with a partner, versus doing something on your own. One benefit of doing a business with someone else is you can play off each others strengths, or in some (convenient!) cases, offload the things you don’t want to do on each other (because in our case, Meg and I are lucky that the things we don’t like to do are tasks the other doesn’t mind!). The B Bar took a lot less planning, I think, because it’s ultimately a passive form of revenue generation, whereas building a service list, a portfolio, and a client base took a little more time for Vivaleur. Plus, by the time we launched The B Bar, I had already been working on Vivaleur for over a year, so things like figuring out things like our payroll, accounting, and all the administrative stuff was much easier.
Me: Who did the lovely illustrations on the B Bar site? They’re very charming!
Victoria: The illustrations are by a fabulous artist named Kristina Hultkrantz, who is an American illustrator who happens to currently live in Sweden. She’s amazing!
Just a few of the e-books on offer at The B Bar.
Me: Any unexpected moments or difficulties that you hadn’t anticipated about running your own online shops?
Victoria: I knew going in, but you always have to be on your toes as far as tech support goes. Sometimes B Barcustomers have issues accessing something, or they can’t get a promo code to work. We don’t have a staff to assist with these types of customer service issues, so I’m the one that usually helps them with it! Those are the kinds of emails you have to be on the lookout for, and respond to quickly. Also, I can’t overstate the importance of investing in things like a CPA to help you with your taxes, and a good bookkeeping program (I love Freshbooks).
Me: What’s been your favorite or most exciting moment so far since opening the businesses?
Victoria: When I began making more money than I did at my previous “traditional” office job. That felt awesome — to know that 100% of the revenue I was generating was all from my own blood, sweat and tears. And of course, I love any time a client gets excited by what they learn from me, or the design work I do for them. That always puts a smile on my face.
Me: How do you balance your time between running two different shops and blogging?
Victoria: You just have to be extremely regimented. After running my own businesses for two years, I now have a great sense of how long certain tasks will take, and how to schedule my time. I typically spend Mondays generating content for the blog, so the rest of the week can be focused on the other two businesses. Also, the best thing ever is learning to say NO. Once you realize you can’t do everything, and you really distill down what it is you want to be spending your time on, it’s much easier to not spread yourself too thin, and to truly enjoy where you’re spending your time.
I was happy to get to meet Victoria recently and I can attest to the fact that she is as lovely in person as she appears to be on her blog! I admire the fact that when she launched Vivaleur, she started out offering a bunch of different things and then narrowed it down as time went on. Oftentimes just getting started is the hardest thing, and people might think that they shouldn’t start a business or new endeavor until they know exactly what they want to do and have all of their ideas perfectly in place. However, often you can’t know what will make sense and what you will enjoy until you just dive in and start, and I think that’s a great lesson to keep in mind.