As the Mom, Inc. writer for MomsMiami, I have had the opportunity to meet some wonderful, strong women in South Florida who started businesses inspired by motherhood.
They inspired me, too.
Now, I've kicked off my own venture, so my editor thought it would be fun to turn the tables and share my own story.
The big idea
Story Bayou is a series of interactive storybook apps that tweens can read on the iPad, iPhone and iPod touch, as well as Android and Windows tablets and smartphones. Written in second person, "your" voice, you choose how the action unfolds at critical points in the plot. Reach an ending, then go back and make new choices to explore a different path. Story Bayou’s first book app, Brush of Truth, has 65 decision points and 20 different endings. It costs $1.99 to download.
I have a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Louisiana State University and a master’s in communications from the University of New Orleans. I began my career as an advertising copywriter, publicist and marketing director before moving to journalism. In the news business, I’ve worked as a columnist, editor and feature writer for newspapers (including The Miami Herald), websites (including MomsMiami) and regional parenting magazines.
When I decided to do an interactive book app, I looked online and in the app marketplaces to size up the competition. Most of the book apps are targeted to younger kids – ages 6 and under. I decided to target tweens, roughly ages 8 to 12. As a mom of 9- and 11-year-olds, this made sense because I’m familiar with the reading material popular with this age group.
I wanted a vehicle that I could build a series around. I came up with the idea of an enchanted paintbrush that brings whatever you draw to life – the Brush of Truth.
I incorporated as Story Bayou – a play on "story by you," and a nod to my Louisiana roots. A bayou is meandering; it’s mysterious; you never know where it will lead. I thought it was a good fit.
I partnered with Linxter, a Cooper City software engineering company, to develop the app. We each brought something different to thetable. My expertise is in writing, promotion and marketing. Linxter provided the coding, website building, and handling of tech issues.
I began to write Brush of Truth in June 2011. I wrote the text, the equivalent of a
125-page book, in two months. In September, an Atlanta artist began working on 30
illustrations, and Linxter’s team began the coding process.
We began debugging in November. I went word by word on each of the four mobile platforms, looking for typos, weird spacing and navigation issues. The app was released in February.
I rely on social media such as Facebook, Linked In and Pinterest to keep a buzz going. We hosted an app launch in a fourth-grade class at Beth Emet Elementary School in Cooper City. I sent press releases to the local media, and to regional parenting publications around the United States. I’m constantly looking for review sites.
Linxter promotes Story Bayou to the tech community. The firm also built a website that has links directly to the marketplaces.
Linxter and I pitched in our services and have a revenue share agreement, after the marketplaces take their 30 percent. I spent about $2,700-3,000 on attorney, developer and copyright fees. We sold about 50 apps in our first few days and nope, we’re not yet profitable.
Transforming the buzz into sales. Creating an app is like writing a book, placing it on a shelf alongside 500,000 others and hoping people find yours. You have to constantly promote it to new outlets. That’s a full-time job in itself.
Finding the time to do everything also is a challenge. I’m a mom, freelance journalist, children’s fiction writer and CEO of a tech company. It’s hard to balance.
I am writing the second book in the Brush of Truth series, and am conceptualizing with a syndicated cartoonist friend about creating a second series. I hope to one day expand to other age groups and take on other writers under my brand.
I rise at 6:30 a.m., and my husband, E.J., and I get Chloe, 9, and Ian, 11, out the door for school. I’m at the computer by 8:30 a.m.
I spend the day juggling my jobs. For Story Bayou, I send out releases, look for new
outlets, meet with my tech developer or work on writing book two. As a journalist, I interview sources, research stories or write them.
Throughout the day, I do laundry, cook or straighten up. (I’m a neat freak.) I usually eat lunch at home. A few times a month I lunch with girlfriends, to get myself out of the house.
Chloe gets home at 2:30 p.m. and Ian arrives at 4 p.m. I keep working, stopping for homework questions or to sign school papers.
I try to get off the computer at 5 p.m. to fix dinner. We all sit down together for dinner every night. At 7:30 p.m., I check email and handle issues. I do another email check about 9:30 p.m., then shut down for the night.
If you are going to create a product, have a good marketing and promotion strategy in place. You will constantly have to promote your brand if you want to keep it alive.
Don’t get discouraged by small setbacks. Keep your head up and find a support network.
My motto? Be fearless.