Krystel Spell of Army Wife 101 and SoFluential answers the phone, greets me with a "hey girl, what's up" in her Long Island accent where they change the "o" to "aw," then asks "how's the family doing."
She is working from her Headquarters and reports that it's a cool partly cloudy day. I picture Krystel heading into a workspace, decked with an imported snow white Toscana desk and parson chair with lots of fluffy pillows laying around, inspirational quotes on the wall and a coffee mug that reads, “I’m A Goal Digger.” Her Rosie planner is open on her desk as she routinely plans her days down to the second. With a caramel Frappuccino by her side (aka Krystel's blogging fuel), the phone is on speaker so she can work while we chat.
That office I mentioned is actually in Krystel's home, nestled in the patriotic spirit that runs through the outskirts of Fayetteville NC. Krystel is a six-figure earning blogger, brand, and digital influencer manager. She makes magic happen from the comfort of her sofa every day while keeping tabs on the daily trending topics and staying woke to the political tunes of Wolf Blitzer.
Krystel is known as the "it girl" for brands seeking to get their services and products in front of the military spouse community. She is applauded for structuring and strategically managing campaigns with major brands such as Dell, Fayetteville Tourism, and Best Western. Krystel is hands-down one of the most authentic and inspiring examples of milblogging success I could share with you today.
Check out our interview below:
1. Can you tell us a little about your blogging journey? I started Army Wife 101 in 2007 with a mission to share military spouse stories and lifestyle and bring awareness to our powerful buying force. Before Facebook was popping, I loved interacting on online forums. When we PCS to Hawaii, I needed a way to share my life with my family. So I created a blog, and everything grew from there. I did not create my blog with the intention of earning a living – it was all just a hobby. After researching how other bloggers were pitching brands and making a living doing such, I wanted to do it too. My first big break was from another military spouse who connected me with Sears.
I later co-founded SoFluential, (formerly powered by MSB New Media), a digital publishing, marketing, and communications agency with a network of 500+ multi-cultural multi-ethnic, and super niche military spouse bloggers and influencers. When I started SoFluential, I became the breadwinner of my household. My husband transitioned out of the military and attended school full-time. Working with brands who wish to connect with the military community became my thing. That's when I knew what I created could be the perfect creative employment solution for others.
2. One would think, your business model determines your success. The assumption is if you have enough clients to keep you busy, you must be making a good living, right? What is your business model? Brands pay me to execute social media campaigns for them through my influencer network. Most of my income from the blog comes from working with brands on sponsored posts, content that contains promotional information of a brand’s product or service. Other income comes from traditional advertising and sponsored social shares where I outsource some of the marketing to my audience and get viewers to share the content with their own social circles.
3. Life as an entrepreneur isn't an easy one. It’s difficult – and sometimes feels downright impossible to turn a dream into a reality. What are some challenges you face in business? I have a hard time delegating to others. I just hired my first virtual assistant a month ago. I built my business from the ground up, and my brand and vision are apparent in everything I do from graphics and images to content. Giving up responsibility means relinquishing control. But I'm smart enough to know that delegating to the right people will only help my business meet its goals faster and helps me in the long-term build a stronger team.
4. What is the biggest misconception about blogging? For many, blogging seems glamorous. Don't get me wrong; my job comes with great perks. But it can be a strain at times. Travel is an incredible privilege, but it's exhausting. Being your own boss means the buck stops with you. With that comes with self-managing your work schedule, often without a set start and end time.
5. On average, how many hours per week do you work? I work seven days a week, sometimes 24/7. On a good week, I work from 7 am to 8 pm. My daily struggle is time management although my kids are older and don't require as much of my time. I try to remain as flexible as possible and dedicate time to what's needed at the moment.
6. What's next for Krystel? I have so many great projects that I'm working on right now. The Rosie Planner has officially launched. Presented in partnership with Armed Forces Insurance (AFI), the Rosie planner is designed exclusively with the military family in mind. Named after cultural icon Rosie the Riveter, Rosie’s strategic design embodies her strength and confidence while streamlining and simplifying the military lifestyle for today’s modern military spouse and female service members.
Of course continuing to grow SoFluential is a top priority. I want to help even more spouses use their social platforms to earn income. I'm also excited about Retail Salute, a website I created that's dedicated to helping military families find national military discount programs available online and in-store. The listed discounts speak to young military families looking for savings on family friendly attractions, retailers and more.
7. Any advice for beginner bloggers? Launch it broken, fix it live. Take your idea and run with it.
8. Why should someone attend the MilBlogging conference next year? Well you definitely missed out this year. I'm all about monetizing my efforts. If you're new to blogging, this conference will help you get to that point. Networking is also important in any business. Attending the conference will allow you to meet some of the movers and shakers in the industry.