“The most important thing would be to sit down in a quiet place and get very clear writing out exactly what they want in life and what they want to be in life, and then holding onto that vision strongly in their mind and working on it everyday.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Stacy Caprio, Founder of Stacy for Startups and Search Marketing Manager at TimePayment Corp.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I am an entrepreneur at heart, and have never been content working for others. I started my first business in the summers when I attended Boston College, and would teach swimming lessons in my backyard. I grew that business to over 30 returning families over the 3 summers I worked on it using primarily SEO and $100 of free Google ad credit.
Learning the online marketing skills building my swimming lesson business was the foundation for my digital marketing career, something that is not taught in schools. I was a Psychology major at BC, so what I learned were honing my writing skills, and a way to think about people and the world in a scientific way, as well as how people are motivated, all very useful when marketing or selling things online, but not directly related to SEM or SEO.
I went on to work for an Ecommerce ad agency, then one that focused on large VC funded budget companies and lead gen, and then for a financing company before quitting to pursue building my own company and dream.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you in the course of your career?
I would say in general, one of the most interesting things that happens when people ask me what I do and I say “online marketing and selling apparel online”, they get either a blank or skeptical look on their face, and they don’t know what to say next.
I think many people don’t think it is possible to make a living doing that. Specifically I can recall a time before this was my full-time job, where I told my dad what I wanted to do, and he told me he thought it wasn’t possible to make money online, and gave an example of one of his tech-savvy developer friends who had around 300 or more websites he had created, but had never actually succeeded in driving any traffic to or generating any sales at all.
I think this is the attitude most people have when it comes to my line of work, however my dad was just brave enough to say it.
Similarly, when I started my swimming lesson business and got the free $100 Adwords coupon in the mail, right when Adwords was brand new, I remember excitedly running to my mom and saying, “Look what I got in the mail! I can’t wait to use it to get more customers online”, and she told me not to use it because she thought it might be a scam.
Stubbornly, per usual, I used it anyway, but I also listened to her voice of caution and only used it up to $50 free dollars before canceling to make sure I didn’t go over the limit, and that was the foundation of my online career and business.
The first time I received external validation for my online efforts and realized it was actually possible to drive traffic to get customers online was when a swimming lesson customer parent asked me, “How did you show up on the first page of Google when I searched for ‘swimming lessons’?”
That made me smile and realize that the internet is powerful and a great way to increase your visibility and get customers.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
I have been able to spend some time volunteering and passing along my skills to future generations of online marketers, including teaching an online marketing course at The Startup Institute in Boston, and giving away some of my online Udemy course on how to build a website for free.
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
The most important thing would be to sit down in a quiet place and get very clear writing out exactly what they want in life and what they want to be in life, and then holding onto that vision strongly in their mind and working on it everyday.
To specifically work online in the SEM, SEO, website investing and apparel design space like me, I would recommend reading the blogs Moz and Niche Pursuits and experimenting by setting up your own sites and learning how to drive traffic everyday.
Is there a particular person that made a profound difference in your life to whom you are grateful?
Yes, when my dream was very strong but I still had no business, my 92 year old grandma believed in me and gave me the chance to quit my job and work on my business by very kindly and generously letting me live with her, paying no rent, giving me the ability to work on building my business in a debt-free way. She has the kindest, most loving heart I know, and I am forever grateful and indebted to her. My grandma believed in me and gave me a chance when no one else would or thought I would be able to succeed. She is also incredibly smart, funny, and even sarcastic, and I gained many valuable business ideas from just talking to her everyday.
Can you share a story?
A random story not specifically related to my business is when I met Rachel McAdams and was featured for 15 seconds on a film that won best picture a few years ago. However the story does relate to the autonomy of entrepreneurship in the sense that having your own business allows you the freedom to control your time and do fun random things such as participate in movie and tv show filming as an extra.
A few years ago I became obsessed with being an extra in TV shows and movies, and was lucky I was able to do so as I lived in Boston where there were a plethora of opportunities available as a lot of movies are filmed there.
One summer I was cast as an extra in the film Spotlight, and had a very fun day outside in the sun, running in a bright red shirt that I would never have worn to run in real life as it was way too tight and bright to ever actually run in, but the wardrobe team gave it to me in lieu of the baggy running T-Shirt I had brought.
I ran up and down the street for hours, probably around 30 or 40 times as they filmed the scene over and over again. At the time I didn’t know who Mark Wahlberg was, but apparently I was running right by him every time, and when the film came out, family, friends and acquaintances texted me for weeks and months after asking if I was in the movie. It turns out they followed my running in that outdoor clip and used it as a scene changer, so I’m running in my bright red shirt in the actual movie for about 15 seconds as the camera follows me, which is pretty fun.
During the filming for that movie, I was also given a fake baby in a baby carriage to push up and down the square outside Copley library while Rachel McAdams walked inside. As an extra you’re not allowed to talk to actors or actresses, but they are allowed to talk to you if they choose. On a scene reset, as she walked by me, looked at my fake baby, she smiled and said, “Aww, what a cute baby”. She was kidding, of course, as the baby was fake. I smiled at her as wide as I was able and laughed. She is so funny and sweet, and still one of my favorite actresses to this day. Still can’t believe she liked my fake baby! That was definitely the highlight of my extra acting career.
So what are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
The project I’m currently most excited about is launching my brand new Boss Babe apparel line, and a possible apparel collaboration with a 1.5 million follower Instagram influencer.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Yes, I would love to get lunch with Sara Blakely, founder of Spanx, and get her marketing story and tips, because she was able to grow her business from scratch to one of the largest most successful companies in the world. I admire that a lot and would love to learn from her.
Originally published at medium.com