Co-founder Danielle Moss knows a thing or two about coming out of the gate strong; within 3 months of launch the site was named a top 100 Website for Women and Top 10 Website for Millennial Women by Forbes.
Danielle launched her first blog, Breakfast at Toast, in 2007, and her graphic design business shortly thereafter. Relocating to Chicago proved fruitful after meeting her business partner Alaina Kaczmarski with whom she launched The Everygirl.
A talented creative and business savvy blogger, Danielle has been featured on Entrepreneur, Huffpost, and The Lively Show and spoken at The School of Styling, Go Blog Social, and Create & Cultivate. Her interior styling has been featured in Rue, Apartment Therapy, Style Me Pretty, and photography has been featured on SMP Living, 100 Layer Cakelet, and Glitter Guide. She has partnered with David Yurman, MillerCoors, Uber, Lucy Activewear, Farrow and Ball, Capital One, GAP, and Noosa among other brands.
This conversation is condensed from her video interview as part of the digital expert series #theRevolutionaries, a video series produced by C1 Revolution featuring entrepreneurs, media and communicators in Chicago who are successfully navigating the digital revolution. Below, Danielle talks target markets, chance meetings via Twitter and how to launch with panache.
How did you get your start in the industry?
My story is a little unusual. I was kind of floundering back in my 20s so I started my blog. I wanted to make it look better, but blogging wasn’t so much a thing back in 2007 so there weren’t really blog designers. So I decided to teach myself graphic design. I got a copy of Photoshop elements and made myself a horrible banner for my blog. I thought it was so great at the time. I wish I still had it I’m sure it was god awful I can’t remember it!
So I redesigned my blog and I was so excited about it, and one of my friends at the time, a blog friend I knew online, asked me for help with hers and then it just kind of kept growing.
I've kept my personal blog up the entire time, it was Breakfast at Toast, and now it’s just my name.
How did you meet your co-founder?
I met Alaina, my business partner, when I moved from Los Angeles to Chicago. I had invited a girl I had met through Twitter to hang out and she brought Alaina with her. During that time I was hired by Glitter Guide, to photograph her for a style at home feature. We started talking about this void we saw online and about the things that we thought were missing. Eventually the two of us had coffee, sat down and planned it out. Our site went live in 2012, six months later.
Who is your main reader?
Alaina and I wanted something that felt really relatable and attainable to girls like us - we weren’t very connected to our industry but we both wanted to find our dream jobs. We just didn't know what that was exactly, and we didn’t have anyone to help us get our foot in the door.
We wanted to know how women like us were decorating their apartments, not 5 million dollar mansions, which is all you ever see in magazines. We wanted to know how women were working their way up to these really amazing positions. Also, we wanted to teach women about finance and fashion, but have everything really targeted for real women.
What makes the Everygirl stand out?
There are so many great lifestyle sites out there, but I don’t think they necessarily cover what we do the way we do. We work hard to try to keep everything as affordable as possible.
Almost all of the homes that we feature on our site are apartments. Pricier items featured on the site are usually mixed in with budget-friendly items. You won’t see anything on our site that’s more than $250, and that's a splurge item. We regularly do product round-ups with things under $100.
We aim to educate around money. I don’t think there are great finance sites out there for young women. You can come to The Everygirl and figure out your capsule wardrobe but then learn why you need a 401K. And then learn about relationships, online dating, friendships and and planning your meals for the week. Not everyone is into cooking and most people aren’t that excited about finance, but it is something that we feel is important.
We try to have content that’s for everyone. The goal is that you’ll go through the site and hopefully find something that you didn’t know you needed to know or weren’t that interested in and maybe get excited about it and try or learn something new.
We started The Everygirl because my business partner Alaina and I wanted something that felt really relatable and attainable to girls like us
What made your launch so successful?
We reached out to five of our blog friends and they were all pretty big and we gave them each an exclusive sneak peek to share the day before we launched. At the time I had about 4500 visits a day to my personal blog. I posted about the Everygirl every 5 seconds and people were really excited because we talked about it being for women like us and that was something where people felt like there was that void.
It was a lot of promotion, a lot of honest support of people posting like bloggers and people on Facebook, Twitter, and everywhere they were sharing our content and that really helped.
At the beginning it really does mean having an editorial calendar and posting at least 4 days a week because if you are new you need to give people a reason to keep coming back.
What have you learned throughout this whole experience?
Time management has been something that has been really tough to learn, and just letting yourself walk away. I worked to the point that I got shingles a couple years ago, like hit rock bottom, so stressed out, I was at the computer everyday until 2am. I had this 5 min response time for every email, and you can’t live that way.
It’s really just been a huge learning experience and so much of it really came from growing our team. There was a point where Alaina and I were doing all of our social media, we were just not comfortable having an intern do that because it was so immediate and it goes out to so many people. We had to learn to take a step back and hire great employees. Our first hire was actually our first intern. She is our managing editor now. Then we brought on our second intern as our social media manager. These days Alaina and I mostly deal with brand partnerships and just kind of running the site and making sure everything is okay.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start a similar career?
If someone told me that they wanted my career path, I think I would say start a blog and run with that because both Alaina and I had our blogs for 3 and 5 years. If we had started The Everygirl out of the blue, no one would have known who we were and no one would would have looked at our site.
For someone who wants to start a blog, at the beginning it really does mean having an editorial calendar and posting at least 4 days a week. You need to give people a reason to keep coming back. Great photography, good design, being consistent with posting are all important. Going into it because you want to be the next big thing isn’t really the way to go, but going into it because it is something you love and you’re having fun with it - if that’s your reason you will do well. We went into this because we wanted to create something for people and we started our blogs because it was fun and they were all passion projects and things that we loved and we were just able to turn them into businesses.
Danielle continues to work on ensuring The Everygirl keeps readers coming back with relatable and enjoyable content covering everything from fashion and beauty to travel and finance.