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Talking with Abby Kerr

Talking with Abby Kerr

Episode #177

Today I talk with Abby Kerr from

She has lots of great advice to tune up your website and start the fall off right.

Also, I have some books, apps, and tools to share, plus the latest news from the studio.

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Interview transcript

Transcription of Interview with Abby Kerr

Alison Lee: Well, I’m back again this week. I’m very excited to talk to someone. She has the information that so many of you ask about and today I’m talking with Abby Kerr from Abby Kerr Ink. She is a brand editor and digital copywriter for indie creative entrepreneurs who want to own their voices in the marketplace. Welcome, Abby. Thanks for coming on and chatting with me.

Abby Kerr: Alison, thank you so much for having me. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Alison: So, first off, how do you get to that? What’s the background here that you get to that point that you can get that statement?

Abby: Well, I started off with a really conventional college education background in English with a focus in creative writing. So, I’ve always been really immersed in words and creating worlds through words. And then from there, I worked in a licensed professional clinical counselors office for about a year. Not doing counseling myself but kind of managing the office. I was trying to figure out what do I want to do with my English degree exactly? So, I think that helped to you know just get a sense of maybe reading people, reading situations from the outside because I wasn’t in the office with the counselor but just kind of seeing the stories that came through my office and it was interesting. And from there went back and got a master’s in teaching focusing in English and I taught high school English for four years. I taught in a traditional environment, a traditional classroom as well as at a humanities program. It was a magnet school for intellectually curious high school juniors and seniors. And it was an integrated curriculum, textbook free, classroom free mobile campus. So really grew as a teacher across those four years. Felt the entrepreneurial spirit in me move and knew that it was the right timing in my life to act upon that and start my own business. So, I uprooted my life, moved two hours back to my hometown, quit my comfortable teaching job, and opened a retail store all in the span of about five weeks. I know. It was one of those big intuitive lunges as [inaudible] would say.

Alison: That’s a good word. I like that. Intuitive lunges. Ok. Good.

Abby: Yes. So had the retail store and got into indie brick and mortar retail at a time when retail was just waking up to the possibilities of what could be done online with the brand. So, Blogger was the preeminent content manager system at that point for people who wanted to blog. I got on Blogger and the store’s reputation seemed to grow nationally and internationally even faster than it grew locally. So locally we had a great brick and mortar presence, gorgeous store, loyal customer base. But really, I feel like a lot of our brand’s juice if you will really came from blog readers who live far away.

Alison: Now why do you think that? Why do you think that looking back now? Why do you think that happened?

Abby: Honestly, I think it was a matter of timing. I think that people were just starting to discover, this was back in 2005 early 2006. People were just realizing that they could bring passion online and begin to translate it in a way that felt really alive and vital and viable to people who lived hundreds or thousands of miles away. And I was one of the first brick and mortar retailers, independent store owners really doing that consistently and well. So, I managed to make a name for myself that way. We sold internationally through our website as well as locally. Through having the store, I discovered boy I love marketing. I love branding. I don’t actually like retail.

Alison: Which part of that? Which part of that exactly? Because that’s a common thing to hear but what part of the retail where you like ugh?

Abby: I didn’t like the hours and I didn’t like having to stand in one space for five to seven days a week, most days of the year, and be in front of people all of the time. I’m an introvert, I actually love people. I love making conversation, but it got to be, it felt kind of draining.

Alison: Now tell everyone what your store was and the feeling you created for people shopping there.

Abby: Yes. It was called The Blissful and the tagline was “French-inspired finds and furnishings”. And it was kind of a funky French farmhouse-inspired store. Very playful, not serious French like no Jacquard tablecloths, no sunflowers, no French poodles wearing berets. It wasn’t the cliche sort of French that we see interpreted so often in American art. Kind of earthy, it was pretty cool.

Alison: French shabby chic sort of?

Abby: Kind of. Yes. Kind of anthropology esque.

Alison: Love that.

Abby: Yes. So, from there, decided to close the shop after four years because I wanted a different lifestyle. I still wanted to be a business owner. On the side because of my blog, I have been doing consulting, business marketing, and consulting for other indie retailers from around the country and also started to write copy for them. They saw my writing skills through my blog and my own website. So, when I decided to close my store it was the perfect Segway into what I had been doing part-time with indie retailers. I was able to parlay into a full-time business. So, I became a branding, marketing, and copywriting specialist first for retailers and creative businesses and now it’s been over two years since I made that switch. Now my client base is retailers but also life coaches, yoga teachers, dog trainers all that good stuff.

Alison: And what do you think? Well, I have a feeling you already know the answer to this question but is branding more important than ever?

Abby: Branding is more important than ever. Yes.

Alison: And why do you say that? I agree with you but I’m wondering your thoughts on that.

Abby: Well, we hear so much about the ease, like the low barrier to entry when it comes to bringing a business idea online or a creative passion online. And the web is saturated with people who are offering wares of offering coaching of some type or another. And if you just, let’s say you take the words from someone’s website, you type them out on white paper in black font and you read them, offers may sound remarkably similar if you just look at the bare bones of what is being offered. So, what makes the difference between just having a viable offer which is the first step to having a really compelling presence that draws people in and creates desire, stirs up the desire that is already latent in them to work with you, is totally about branding. Visual brand identity as well as brand voice and the relationship that you want to have with your people that comes through all of those signals.

Alison: It is very exciting. I love that part too. So, I totally get where you are coming from. It’s just a fun interesting challenge.

Abby: It is, and a challenge is a good word for it because you never start iterating, ever.

Alison: Right. Exactly. Now, what do you think people get stuck in trying to? I hear it very often; I’m trying to find my own voice along those terms. Where do you think people mostly get stuck.?

Abby: I think people, there’s two places. Number one they get stuck looking at their competitors’ inspirations and peers and figuring that hey if it’s working for this person, I can use this exact phrase, or this exact word and I will create the same loyalty in my audience or the same conversion on my coaching program or whatever. I don’t think it’s an intentional copycat thing for most people. I think it’s more like we move through this space and we just absorb what we see around us and what we like, and it comes out through what we are trying to create. And I think that’s part of the process of learning who you are as a creative entrepreneur. I think too much absorption and mimicking of other voices and I also think people get stuck on getting too self-conscious about what they sound like to others. And I think when you are trying to figure out what is my voice? What is my more powerful, free sustainable voice that works for me? I think it’s a matter of what it feels like and when it feels right in your body and in your mouth as you’re feeling the words kind of build as you are typing, you know you are on the right track.

Alison: Yes. That’s a good point. You know as you were just saying that I thought of a funny story when I was working in my other career life as a creative consultant and I worked for two different clients. And one client wanted to copy, not knowing that I had worked for the other client, wanted to copy something that that client had done thinking well they are doing it, it great, successful. I had worked for that other client and knew it wasn’t a success at all. But because someone had thought it’s out there, it must be successful and was going to jump on that bandwagon. And I thought hmm, that’s not how it always works.

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