Building a Business from Scratch with the Merrymaker Sisters #53 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business

Build a Badass Business Podcast #53: Building a Business from Scratch with the Merrymaker Sisters

Building a Business from Scratch with the Merrymaker Sisters #53 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass BusinessTopics:

  1. Introducing our guest, the Merrymaker Sisters [1:18]
  2. Making the decision to work solely on the business [7:12]
  3. Streams of income as a blogger [13:02]
  4. Selling a product before making it [17:20]
  5. Future plans for the Merrymaker Sisters [23:46]

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Build a Badass Business: Episode #53: Building a Business from Scratch with the Merrymaker Sisters

Coming to you from the city by the bay, this is Build a Badass Business with Diane Sanfilippo. Diane is a New York Times bestselling author and serial entrepreneur. She’s here to teach you how to grow and develop a successful business you love, and how to create raving fans along the way. Here she is, your host: Diane Sanfilippo.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright everybody, welcome back to the show. I’m super excited to introduce you to the MerryMaker Sisters, Emma and Carla Papas. They’re down in Australia; I don’t know where exactly you guys are.

Carla Papas: We’re in Canberra, the capital city.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, cool.

Carla Papas: Which is below Sydney and above Melbourne. {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. So I’ve known these girls for quite some time; it’s probably been a couple of years. And I believe it was

last year; maybe it was about a year ago, I can’t remember exactly when it was, that we met in New York City. You guys were on a tour in the US, all over the place, and we met up at Hu Kitchen in New York City, which was super fun. That was just awesome to have a meal together and just sit and chat and actually come face to face with people you know from the internet. So, why don’t you guys introduce yourselves, and tell folks who don’t know you a little bit about who you guys are?

1. Introducing our guest, the Merrymaker Sisters [1:18]

Carla Papas: Yeah, cool. We loved New York, by the way. And that was the best, meeting at Hu Kitchen, that best food ever. We are the Merrymaker sisters, Emma and Carla Papas. We are over at where we share loads of paleo inspired recipes. We’re on a mission to merrymake-over the world, which means to inspire health and happiness to the millions.Building a Business from Scratch with the Merrymaker Sisters #53 - Diane Sanfilippo | Build a Badass Business

Emma Papas: Yeah, and what started from our love of really healthy real food has now turned into an amazing business where we wake up and we jump out of bed so excited to work on every day and we just want people to follow their bliss, follow their passions and we’re just so stoked to be here and talking to you and yeah, we hope we inspire some people! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} I’m really excited for you guys. So, actually, a lot of the listeners to this show are folks who obviously, like you guys, already eat paleo or, we have a cross section; or I should say I, since I don’t have a co-host on this one.

Everybody: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: I have a cross-section of people who know about me from the paleo/real food thing, and then a bunch of folks who are just listening who are interested in growing or starting a business, and I think that a lot of people who listen to the show are in anywhere from the first to the fifth year or so of their business. And more likely negative years in, you know, they’re just leaving their full time jobs, or thinking about leaving their full time jobs. Or they have a business idea, or are considering it, or doing something on the side, like a side hustle. What’s the progress or the sort of story of what you guys were doing before, and when you decided to kind of dip your toes in the water of this whole blogging thing, and then made the switch. What was the timeline like and what were you guys doing?

Carla Papas: Yeah, well it all started back in mid-2012 when Emma discovered that she had a gluten intolerance.

Emma Papas: Yeah, so that was sort of when we embarked on the paleo lifestyle, and it really wasn’t too long after that when we were just starting to share our recipes on Instagram, and we realized that people were super interested in what we were doing. In Australia, paleo was not very big at that time.

Carla Papas: At all.

Emma Papas: Even on Instagram it wasn’t very big. Like the #Paleo; I think I remember when it had 2000 posts; which is kind of crazy. So we were sharing images of all these recipes that were making, just #glutenfree, #sugarfree, and people were asking questions. They were like, why are you eating this way? What’s the recipe? And to tell you the truth, we kind of just got sick of reposting and rewriting the same thing over and over again. So we were like, maybe there’s something to this. Maybe other people want to know about this. And that got us super excited, because we were so excited about paleo, and still are.

So we literally Googled…

Both: How to start a blog.

Emma Papas: Because we had absolutely no idea about blogging, about the internet. Basically we thought the internet was Google and Facebook. And it was from day 1 that we hit publish on our first blog post that we realized not only did we have this passion for health and food and happiness, that we also had this passion for online blogging, and then online business and social media.

Carla Papas: Yeah, and so I guess we listened to that passion, and we really worked our butts off for a little while. At the time, we both worked full time in government, so as you can imagine, really, really boring jobs that we did not like. We did not belong there at all. But we just knew that if we worked really hard, we could make our dreams come true and leave those jobs and pursue our merrymaking full time.

Emma Papas: Yeah, so we were merrymaking part time, and working full time in the government from the end of 2012 until mid 2014. So it was about a year and a half that we were doing this whole, work 8 hours at a desk job that we hate, coming home and blogging for another 8 hours doing something we absolutely loved. And then it was, when we were actually going to New York that we were like, we don’t think we’re going to be able to come back to our desk jobs. It’s going to be too much, because we were over in America for 7 weeks, and it was going to be amazing and full of amazing people.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: We just couldn’t even think about going back to our desk jobs. So we were just like, we’ve got to quit! We had a mortgage, we have bills to pay. We weren’t really even making a big income …

Carla Papas: From our blog.

Emma Papas: From our blog. We only had 20,000 unique visitors at that time, which isn’t a very big amount. But we did some quick calculations that made us put into perspective that actually, we could make it happen if we had the goals, if we set the goals and the smaller tactics in order to get there.

Carla Papas: Yeah, and we also, a week before we made the decision we heard the quote, “what you focus on grows.” And that was a huge ah-ha moment for us. I mean, we just realized that; well, of course we’re not going to be huge success if we’re spending 8 hours of our weekdays in a job that we literally hate. We have all this negative energy, so we just knew that; ok, let’s just take the leap. There’s never going to be a right time, and there’s never going to be a wrong time, let’s do it. Put all our energy into it. And what’s the worst that could happen? It doesn’t work? Oh well, we get another job later.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Emma Papas: Yeah, so that was the mindset that we went in with.

Both: And it was the best decision ever! {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} You guys are hilarious. You’re not twins right; can we just clarify that, that you’re not twins?

Emma Papas: No, we’re not twins.

Diane Sanfilippo: But the two of them, it feels like you’re talking to twins, because when you talk to them and they either complete each other’s sentences or talk in sync, and it’s just hilarious.

2. Making the decision to work solely on the business [7:12]

Diane Sanfilippo: So I want to hear a little more detail about the calculations that you were talking about. Because we have so many listeners who are in that place, who are like; “how do I figure out if I can make it work?” And the thing that I generally think people don’t; the place I don’t think they go to is deciding where they can have some struggle between working harder than they think they can work or than they think they want to work, and also cutting back on expenses. So that’s something that I did, and I was on my own. I didn’t have a mortgage, but I did have rent. And I went through all of that, and it’s hard for me to talk about it as a struggle, because I don’t see it that way. I see it as just, these are choices that I made.

Emma Papas: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: Because my personality is, if I want something, I find a way. So for me to find a way, literally I’ve been that way since I’m a kid. So I don’t look at things as barriers. I’m like, ok well if I want to do this, then I have to do this too. So what were some of those decisions; things that you may be changed your spending on, etc. And then I want to hear a little more about what was it that you decided to tweak or change so that you could actually make enough income from the blog to say, “we’ll be ok even if we’re not rolling in dough, we’ll be ok, and then we’ll be more motivated and keep going.”

Both: Yeah.

Carla Papas: Totally.

Emma Papas: Well, back then. So what did we calculate? I calculated; it more based on sponsored posts and working with brand. That was how we originally started making our money. And we don’t do that at all really; well, not as much anymore, but back then that was our main focus.

Diane Sanfilippo: Can you talk about the actual

Both: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: How did that work, and I mean, I don’t know if you would know what this would work out to in US dollars; what kind of money are you talking about?

Everybody: Yeah, yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: Because that’s what people really want to hear. Exactly how much, and what kinds of products.

Both: Yeah.

Emma Papas: So our background is PR and communications. So the reason that we chose to do sponsored posts because this was easy for us; it came naturally to us. And I think when we talked to people about businesses, we say; well what do you love? What can you do that’s easy money right now that you can get that money coming in. so that was the reason why we chose to do that, and we absolutely loved it.

So we were working with a lot of ingredient products, because we were creating lots of recipes; so things like banana flour, cognac noodles, vanilla products, things like that that we could then create a recipe using that product, pop a link on our blog, share it on Instagram, tag them on Instagram, tag them on twitter, tag them on Facebook. How we did that was we would write a sponsorship proposal, with an introduction that was about us, about what we believe in, why we think there’s an alignment with this brand, and what we could then bring to them. We then outlined the investment that we were asking for, and this is where we outlined the money.

So as an example, when we went to New York, we worked with two brands, and we got two, $3,000 sponsored work. So that’s $6,000. In America, that’s probably $4,500, I think, if I worked that our right. And basically including that was 3 blog posts, an Instagram post every day where we tagged them. This was full on when we were in New York, it was big one.

Carla Papas: Yeah, and our numbers a lot less.

Emma Papas: A lot lower.

Carla Papas: So like our charges now are quite a bit more. But that was definitely how we started making our money back then. And we just realized; ok, if we hustle a little harder, contact more brands, we’re going to get this business because we know we can help them. We knew that we could serve them and we could serve our people, because our community needs to know what these products are. They want to know what these products are. So it’s a match made in heaven.

Both: {laughs}

Carla Papas: In Merrymaker land!

Emma Papas: So number one rule for us was that the product; we 100% had to believe in the product. And a lot of the time, we were already purchasing the product ourselves, already using it, which made it really authentic to our audience, because they’d probably already seen it in our posts prior, but now we were getting paid for it. And we’re really open about that with our audience; we make sure to tell them when it’s sponsored. So, you know, they’re aware of it. Otherwise they might lose that trust, and that’s the last thing that we’d want.

Carla Papas: Yeah, and back then, as you were saying before, we cut back on so many of our expenses. Like, ridiculous amounts. We used to be shopaholics.

Emma Papas: Yeah.

Carla Papas: We earned pretty good money back in our government jobs, so it was a huge change for us.

Emma Papas: Yeah, it was going from $2,500 every fortnight each to literally zilch, nothing, almost. {laughs}

Carla Papas: So we really cut back on shopping, we didn’t buy anything new. If we needed to buy something, we would work out; ok, how can we make this a work thing where we contact a brand and blog about it.

Emma Papas: Yeah.

Carla Papas: And that’s just stuff we had to do back then. But that was what allowed us to get to where we are. And yes, it was hard, but we just had this knowing. We knew that everything was going to be ok, and I know that sounds crazy to some people and a little woo-woo, but we just knew that if something was not going to work that way, we would just work harder in another direction and make it happen, make it work.

Emma Papas: Yeah, because we had the overall goal. We knew where we wanted to get to; but how we were going to get there, we were flexible with that. We were like, you know what, if the journey changes, we’ve just got to be ready for that, and we’ve got to be ready to be flexible and change our way.

3. Streams of income as a blogger [13:02]

Diane Sanfilippo: So if the first thing was really bringing in a good amount of revenue for you guys was sponsored posts and sponsorships, what is it now?

Both: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s kind of, what are the streams, and what’s the biggest thing, and how does that work and what do you think; you guys have close to 60,000 followers on Instagram, which is huge. Most of the people listening are just starting to build their following all over the place. That’s huge, so they might see that and be like; “oh my gosh! They’re already doing it! “ You know? So what are the different revenue streams, and talk a little bit about how you decided to go in those different directions?

Carla Papas: Yeah. So during; from the beginning of the Merrymaker Sisters, we’ve launched 5 eBooks, and they were great. We made them really niche; so we did like a paleo bread book, we did a low-fructose sweet treat book, we did a kid’s party book, and we launched all those. And they were really popular, and they were great. And then this year we decided we wanted to do a hard copy book. And we didn’t have a publisher, and we didn’t have anyone really interested in publishing our work; so we were like, stuff it, we’ll just do it ourselves. So we self-published a book this year, and that has been a really good revenue stream for us. And then we moved on from the book; we still have the book on sale, but we were like, we want to do something more. We want to be able to connect with our people and really understand who these people are.

Emma Papas: And we realized that although; yes, you make money off blogging, you really need to have; well, we believe, you need to have a business with your blog. So, it’s like you set up a blog for your business or you set up a business after you start your blog. So we started the Make Life Merry Challenge. So this was amazing; we launched it in October or September, I think we decided we were going to do it September 1, maybe, launched it after a week, sold quite a lot,

Both: 250.

Emma Papas: People were on board for October. And the way we do things now is we sell things before we create them so we can kind of validate them, and be like; ok, people actually want this. So we put a landing page up, and we sold the 4-week challenge, and then it was a matter of 3 weeks of creating a 2-week meal plan, brand new recipes that weren’t available on our site or anywhere else, as well as getting experts on board for weekly webinars, and then we also have a Facebook community. So the idea was that we just wanted to help people become healthier and happier, and have a closer relationship with us and feel like they’re really supported by this community. Because we believe that in order to become healthier and happier, you need those positive people around you reinforcing the why, and why you’re actually on this journey. Because sometimes you can get lost and get overwhelmed with everything.

So we’re really excited about Make Life Merry. And it was so successful that we’re doing it again in January, and now our idea is that we’re going to do it every quarter, and we’re actually going to; well, we’re thinking about it. We haven’t done this yet, but we’re thinking about selling it as a yearly package, so if people want on board for every single quarter automatically gets onto the challenge then they can buy 4 at a time.

Carla Papas: Yeah, so it becomes a little bit of a recurring income. We know that we’re going to get that income; or we take it all in one lump sum. And I think that’s the goal of your online business, to know that you have a little bit of security. You know that you’re going to get that money in, and then you could launch something else, and that’s extra. So I guess this is going to be basis of our income; like, the biggest income stream at the moment for us, and anything on top would be bonuses, and could be the next main income stream.

Emma Papas: Yeah, so we have our book, we have our challenge, and we also still do a little bit of sponsorship work.

Carla Papas: Yes.

Emma Papas: But we don’t focus on it, we kind of let that work come to us. So if a brand is interested in working with us, they’ll email us and then we’ll kind of deal with it then. We’re not being proactive like we were before. I mean, this time last year we were sending out hundreds of emails letting people know who we are, and how we can help them, and blah, blah, blah. So we’ve kind of pulled away from working business to business, and now working Merrymakers to Merrymakers. {laughs}

4. Selling a product before making it [17:20]

Diane Sanfilippo: You guys are amazing. I love that. So one of the things you were talking about was the idea that {laughs} I just love this. The idea that you basically launched the product and then made it after people bought it. And I think a bunch of people do that; it’s a pretty popular approach. I’ve never done that; wait, that’s no really true. No, it’s true. I’ve never done that where I’ve taken the money ahead and not had the product ready, although I did launch the coaches’ program as a Beta, so it was sort of like that.

Both: Mm, yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: We had a product ready to go, we had something that I knew was really valuable, but I kept the price down because I wanted to let those people know that they were basically buying into something that we didn’t know what it was going to develop into.

Both: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: But I really, I think that idea is great and I think there are certain people who have the perfect personality for that. If you know you can turn it on if you see people responding; which I think a huge majority of folks who are starting a business will respond when somebody says; he, I’m laying down my money, I want this thing that you have. It’s a really cool way to prove to yourself that you’ve got something that people want. If you just describe it, give a basic description of what’s included, and then you have to put yourself to work, right. I mean, you start selling it and it’s kind of a kick in the pants.

So what did you guys have in mind when you decided, well let’s do it this way. Let’s not build it first, let’s sell it and then let’s figure it out and build it. Because for some people, that’s really stressful. For the people who like to really follow the rules, and are just by the rules people, I don’t know that they would be ok with that. But for those of us who aren’t rules people {laughs} that can be a good way to go where it just forces you into that pressure. So yeah, I’m just curious. Where did that come from that you thought; {laughs} what made you think that was a good idea?

Both: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: No really, it is a good idea.

Carla Papas: We went to a few conferences, didn’t we?

Emma Papas: Yeah.

Carla Papas: So we went to Chris Ducker’s Tropical Think Tank conference, and who were the people, who told us about it? Was it John..

Emma Papas: John Lee Dumas.

Carla Papas: I think he mentioned this preselling thing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oooohhhh!

Carla Papas: We were like, that’s crazy!

Emma Papas: We were like, that’s amazing!

Carla Papas: {laughs}

Emma Papas: What a genius idea. And then we sort of got back, and we went to…

Both: Problogger.

Emma Papas: Another conference.

Carla Papas: Which was in August.

Emma Papas: And then we were just so inspired after that conference that literally, we were like oh my gosh, we need to do something. We need to do something now. You know when you have that burst of motivation and you just need to act on it.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: So we were in this cool, motivated flow, and we were like; ok, let’s do this. We talked about what we wanted to create, and pretty much Carla got onto Optimize Press and created a landing page. I think she took; we just learned how to do it.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: So it took about 2 days for her to do it.

Carla Papas: A while.

Emma Papas: Or three days maybe.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: {laughs} And we put it up and we started promoting it, and people started buying it.

Carla Papas: Yeah, I think it was our first day that we opened it up, and we got 20 sales. And we were like, oh, cool! This is cool!

Emma Papas: So we had no expectations.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: We didn’t know what it was going to be like.

Carla Papas: But before that we had; we’d worked out what was going to be involved in the challenge, so there was going to be the two-week meal plan, the shopping lists, the recipes, the expert webinars, the community. So we kind of had like an idea of what; we had the vision, but we just weren’t sure how we were going to do it. So yeah, when we started selling, it was the first day we were like, ok we better start creating and making this product. So that was the thought process.

Both: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I think it’s awesome. I think it’s a huge inspiration for a lot of people who are sitting around not knowing what to do. This is especially true if you’ve started to build a community and you’re still not making money. You guys had the power of a community that you’d already started to build through your social media. So you only launched this program just a few months ago, right?

Both: Yeah!

Carla Papas: We launched September, I think the 7th or something, and then it was starting October 7. So we had 4 weeks to get the message out there and tell people about it and get people excited.

Emma Papas: Yeah. And then we ran it all over October, and now we’re just starting to promote our January one. So we’re doing a sort of soft laid out launch, because it’s Christmas, everyone’s busy.

Carla Papas: Yeah, everyone’s eating a lot and celebrating a lot. And then we’ll probably push it a little bit more after New Years’. I know that’s pretty cliché and typical, but that’s when a lot of people want to have that extra motivation to be healthy. So

Both: That’s the plan!

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, no it’s not cliché, it’s the timing.

Both: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: You follow what your customer base does. We have the same thing. And I love what you said about getting to the point where you can have some of your bread and butter; which I know a lot of people refer to it as passive income, although it’s never really passive. People say passive income; it just means that you don’t exactly get; you get, hopefully, much more back in return than the amount of time and energy you spend on a regular or daily basis.

Both: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: I was in the same situation when I was writing Practical Paleo, the 21-Day Sugar Detox was my passive income, and it was generating more than 6 figures. I remember working on Practical Paleo with passion and energy that eventually burned me out because it was so much to work on, but I remember saying the whole time to the publisher; I don’t need the money from this, that’s not why I’m doing it. And I don’t say that to be like; oh, I didn’t need the money. It’s just more like, when you have that space to make a project what you really want it to be, then, like you guys said, then you can focus on whatever your next real passion is and you’re not constantly stressed. But you do have to put that first thing out. You have to hustle for a while, do the scrappy stuff, like you guys did, and then get something done that’s you’re first real product, you’re first real offering. So that’s awesome. I’m so pumped for you guys!

Both: Thank you!

Diane Sanfilippo: Yay! Make Life Merry. Come on, that’s awesome.

Both: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Who doesn’t want to do that? Who doesn’t want to get in on that?

Both: {laughs}

5. Future plans for the Merrymaker Sisters [23:46]

Diane Sanfilippo: So where do you guys see things heading based on some of the struggles and some of the successes? Let’s hear about some of the things that you maybe hit along the way that were some road bumps, and what you think you’ll do in the next 3 months to a year based on the thing that you saw were, ok, that wasn’t really such a great idea, and this is where we see ourselves going.

Both: Yeah.

Carla Papas: What was the biggest struggle? The biggest struggle and the hardest project we’ve ever worked on was for sure our book, the hard copy book. Looking back, we see all those speed bumps; not speed bumps. The blocks and the bumps on that journey as probably big signs saying maybe don’t do it. But we’re really glad we did, but god it was so hard, wasn’t it?

Emma Papas: Mm-hmm.

Carla Papas: Just things went wrong; we’re dealing with printers, we’ve never done that before, and that just turned into a nightmare where books came back and there were pages missing and we didn’t know what to do, and things like that. What else happened? I guess sending it, we didn’t know about e-fulfillment, so we had to pack all these books and send them.

Emma Papas: That was fun. {laughs}

Carla Papas: So in one weekend we had to pack and send like…

Both: 600 books.

Emma Papas: And you think that doesn’t sound like very many, but it’s a lot of books.

Carla Papas: It’ll take a couple of hours right? No.

Emma Papas: We thought it was going to take us 3 hours, but it took us all weekend.

Carla Papas: Yeah, so I think that was definitely a big struggle. And obviously quitting our jobs, that was a back and forth struggle; should we do it, should we not? We talked to our parents. We actually lied to our parents and said that we got leave without pay for a year. And then we stupidly put it on Facebook and forgot our mom had Facebook.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Carla Papas: So she saw it, and she was like, you guys quit your jobs!

Both: {laughing} We were like, oh!

Carla Papas: Yeah we quit our jobs mom, sorry. But they have been our biggest supporters ever anyway, and they’re super glad that we’re following our passion and we’re so much happier now. And I think another struggle was that initial hustle, and it was stressful. There was one day where we had these bills come in that were due, and we had zero dollars in our bank, and we were like, what are we going to do? We went outside and we meditated and we were like, we are abundantly supplied. That was our mantra at the time.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Carla Papas: And we came back in, and weirdly we got this sum of money in our bank from an invoice that we’d forgotten about from like 5 months prior. We were like, this is too weird. So it was kind of like, all these things when you’re truly following what you’re supposed to be doing, you get these struggles, but then you get these amazing signs of, “It’s ok. You’re going to be alright, and you’re going to work out a way to make it happen.” And I think that’s the thing that has really got us through that initial, probably, maybe 4 months ago was when we started to really feel like, oh actually we’ve got a good business kind of model now, we’re feeling really good about this and thinking bigger and things like that. Which then moves onto what we’re planning next, in the next 3 months to a year.

Emma Papas: Yeah, so as we said, we’re going to be doing the Make Life Merry challenge 4 times a year, which we’re really excited about. We’re also launching a podcast, which is really exciting. That’s sort of expanding into our other passion, which is inspiring people to follow their bliss, their passion, so it will be more like business focused where we interview epic businesses. And not just online ones, but products, people who work with charities; people doing epic things. We just want to talk to them, share their stories with people.

Carla Papas: Yeah, because on our journey we kind of realized it’s not just food that creates optimal health and happiness; you need to be doing something that you absolutely love every day. Even if it is just doing it for 5 or 10 minutes a day, and it’s bringing you that joy. We quickly realized that, and we quickly realized that Merrymakers was our thing, and we’re like; cool! We’re doing it! And we want to inspire other people to find theirs and to follow it.

And then also positive mindset plays a huge part, so they’re kind of the three things we love to focus on in Merrymakers. So in our new podcast, that’s what we’re going to focus on, that positive mindset, that following your bliss and doing what you love. And who knows where that’s going to lead to, because it’s starting with a podcast, but we’ve got big dreams for that, because that truly is probably our number one passion, rather than the food stuff.

Emma Papas: So we want to; I think our initial idea is to create a community with that idea. And we don’t know what that’s going to look like, but we’ve sort of designated, I think February, to plan that. So we’ve sort of blocked out months to create stuff. In January, we’ll not only be running the Make Life Merry Challenge, but we’ll be working on our podcast to launch, and then February we’ll be working on an extension of that; what product can we create from that. And then I think it will be March that we’re actually going to look at products and creating a Merrymaker Jewelry line, which we’re super excited about. Because as much as we love online stuff, we also love physical products and beautiful stuff that we can share on Instagram.

Carla Papas: Yeah, and that has a meaning. So you know, jewelry is something so personal, and we want to create something where someone can put on a bracelet and be reminded that health, positive mindset, and doing what you love can create optimal health and happiness.

Emma Papas: And that will also boost that Merrymaker community. That’s our really huge focus for the next 12 months, just to create an awesome community. Or make an even more awesome community.

Carla Papas: Yeah, where people feel that sense of belonging and it brings a sense of joy and happiness to the world.

Emma Papas: Yeah, where people are starting to say; I’m a Merrymaker, I follow the Merrymaker lifestyle.

Carla Papas: Yeah, which is so cool!

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} That is awesome. So you guys have a background; both of you, did you both work in PR?

Carla Papas: Yeah. I, Carla, worked in PR in coms, and also did a little bit of social media.

Emma Papas: And I worked in events. So I was like an event coordinator for the government and also private sector, as well. So going forward, we’ll definitely be doing Merrymaker events, as well. But I guess having that training, because we both went to Uni, we both…

Carla Papas: Which is college.

Emma Papas: Yeah, college. And working in those jobs definitely helped us. That’s our huge recommendation; think about the skills you already have. What can you tap into? Or think about what you really love doing. If you love researching stuff, learn everything about a certain, I don’t know, Facebook marketing if you love researching stuff. Whereas, we hate that, so we’re going to just ask someone to do it for us and pay them.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: So just tap into your natural ability.

Carla Papas: Yeah.

Emma Papas: And then get obsessive about it.

Carla Papas: {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah!

Emma Papas: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, you guys, a lot of times people feel like; a lot of people who are listening to this show are starting new businesses, but a lot of people are in a career for 10, 20. 30, 40 years even, and feel like they can’t step out into something new. I think that even though; so you guys were working on something that seems obvious to translate into a business, but the truth is, all you did was take the skills that you already had and connected it with the thing that you’re passionate about.

And a lot of people who are out there working in a job that maybe they don’t love the job, but maybe there was a reason they got into it in the first place, because they were passionate about some element of it. Or vice versa, maybe they just have another passion, but have so many skills from these jobs that they’ve had for years. We’ve all worked for other people at some point in our lives, and then we find this, sort of burning desire to do something else. And there’s just something that separates people from being the ones who don’t want to leave the security of the paycheck to people who do.

I do think there are some people who want to be an entrepreneur and honestly don’t have it in them to push that extra amount, to push themselves that extra amount. And of course, because we’re people who do that, people who aren’t doing that feel like it’s a judgment to say; well some people do and some people don’t have it. But I don’t have it in me to support someone else in the way that my team supports me, you know what I mean? I think that’s something that’s also so necessary and so valuable. So like what you guys are saying; if somebody who is listening to this is a researcher or insanely good at different things, but you are finding that this extra level of being a public face of something or putting yourself out there, it’s just not for you; there are entrepreneurs all over the place that want people like you that are entrepreneurial. Right?

Both: Yeah, totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: Like you have that twinge, right. We want people who feel like they can take ownership of their work and really be that way, but maybe just have that slight percentage that is not their thing, and that’s cool. But anyway, I love that, and I do want people to hear that in your story that you guys were working in a totally different industry, and you took your skills and translated them into what you were doing, and that’s really where you started first, with your strength. You started with outreach. For a lot of people, that’s not going to be their strength. For me, graphic design was my strength. So I started with a great looking blog. So that’s; everybody has to start with their strength.

Both: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think that’s a big lesson, because we all have weaknesses and we all have to learn along the way, and like you said it took you 2 days to put together a landing page that maybe now would take you 2 hours after you’ve done it.

Carla Papas: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: So that’s great. I love that; you guys, this was so awesome. I think people are going to learn a ton from this and feel really inspired. The timeline of your business has been really quick! You’ve done all of this in just a couple of years, right?

Both: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: How long since you originally started the blog to now? How long has it been, a couple of years?

Carla Papas: It’s been, yeah 3 years, because we started February 2013 properly, we got our IBN and stuff. {laughs} Which is like a registered business. So yeah, just, 2.5 years. When we properly started, February 2013 to today. And I think also for us, those first couple of years it wasn’t even a business anyway. Literally, we feel like this year we’ve got our stuff together. So I think for everyone, just keep going, and if you want it bad enough you’re going to make it happen. I swear, if you really want it, it’s going to happen. Because other things come into luck; like you meet the right person. If you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing, these little things will cross your path, and that will help you.

Emma Papas: Doors will open.

Carla Papas: Yeah, like magic stuff happens.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} You guys.

Both: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: I just love it.

Carla Papas: It’s true.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love interviewing people who are so energetic and bubbly, because I feel like I’m too old to be energetic and bubbly anymore. But I’m with you, you know. I just posted something to Instagram; I don’t know when this episode is going to air, but I just posted something to Instagram about when a path appears, and it’s unexpected, just take it.

Both: Yeah!

Diane Sanfilippo: You don’t know where it’s going to go. And the same thing happens to every single person I talk to in business says, there were one or two or three moments where they just made the decision to say yes to something and they didn’t know what was going to happen. Which; newsflash, no one ever knows what’s going to happen, you know?

Carla Papas: {laughing}

Emma Papas: Totally.

Diane Sanfilippo: You can think and expect and hope, but you never know. Nobody knows the future. Nobody knows what’s going to happen. So to say you don’t know or you’re unsure; you are not special. That’s everybody. But you have to be ok with the fact that it may or may not turn out how you want, and then know that you always get to choose something after that. There’s always a new choice to make, and always a new direction or something else that can happen, and you guys are a perfect example of that. You started in one direction, and decided; I mean, I think a big turning point for you guys was going to some live events and going to some business events.

Both: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: And I think that that’s a really good idea for people. I do see people sometimes get stuck in a trap of that, where they’re doing it for a year or two years ongoing, and then they still never make a thing, like a product from it, and you have to pull yourself out of that educational cycle. You have to just stop going to events and start doing something.

Carla Papas: Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: But you guys did that really quickly, and I think that’s amazing. For people who are feeling like they just don’t know what their thing should be that they make, but they’ve had years of experience, they’ve been blogging a while, whatever. Maybe that’s the thing; maybe go to some business networking or go to a marketing event and try one idea. And if that works; great, and if it doesn’t, try something else. But I think that’s a great lesson for people.

Emma Papas: 100% it’s all about action.

Diane Sanfilippo: Action, action, action. A Tony Robbins quote that I shared with people not long ago is, “the best way to combat fear is through massive action.” And I love that.

Both: Yes!

Diane Sanfilippo: it’s so true, right?

Carla Papas: Totally.

Emma Papas: So true.

Diane Sanfilippo: So true. Alright you guys. So everybody can find you on Instagram @TheMerryMakerSisters, and also of course online at, so you guys can check out everything they’re up to, what they’re program looks like, they’re books, all that stuff. Anything else you want to leave people with today? Any final words of advice or inspiration.

Carla Papas: I just think that everyone has the potential to do something amazing, and it’s within you. It always has been. It’s about finding it, so go out and do something different, do something fun, do something that you love, and eventually you’ll find it and you’ll be able to take the step, take the action.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, is that just one; we’re just going to get one final thought?

Emma Papas: I just want to reiterate what you focus on does grow, so put a little bit extra focus, even if it’s just 5 minutes a day, it really, really does help. And also even when you do have these big dreams, big goals, the focus thing again. If you just focus on one tiny thing for one month, you’ll probably have a lot more growth instead of focusing on a million things. We learned that the hard way. {laughs}

Carla Papas: Yes!

Diane Sanfilippo: I’m still learning that, so thank you for the reminder. My poor team is like, “what is this new project Diane, we were finishing 3 other projects still!”

Both: {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah, good lesson. That is a good lesson. And for people who are still coming out of a full time job or still dabbling, just be consistent, do one thing at a time, do it and over time you look back and you’re like, holy cow I’ve been blogging for a year. It does add up, and just being consistent and focusing on those things, absolutely.

Thank you guys so much for chatting! This was super fun. We’ll definitely have to check in with you guys, maybe next year, and see where you’re at. I can’t wait for people to go find your account of value on Instagram, and check out your blog, and just get connected with you guys. So thank you so much for joining me.

Emma Papas: Thank you!

Carla Papas: Thank you so much for having us! It’s been amazing.

Diane Sanfilippo: Hey guys, I’m so glad you’re loving the show. Let me ask you to do me a favor; come follow me on Periscope. You can find me; I believe you can search Diane Sanfilippo, or you can search @BalancedBites, which is my Twitter handle, which is the account name over on Periscope. I am going to start doing live sessions, really quick thoughts for the day. I’m not sure if it I will be every day, but it will be pretty often, and some Q&A on business topics and motivation, inspiration, etc. So make sure you’re following me over on Periscope. Download the app in the app store, and I will see you there.

That’s all I’ve got for you guys today. Don’t forget to subscribe in iTunes so you don’t miss an episode. And drop me a review to let me know what’s speaking to you from the show. If you want to get in on the conversation and you haven’t yet joined the group already on Facebook, head on over there and join the Build a Badass Business group. I share insights and tips regularly, as well as answer your questions right there on the page. Do work that you love, and hustle to make your business grow like your life depends on it, because it does. Thanks for listening, and I’ll catch you on the next episode.

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