Name: Irina Brodehl
Business Name: JustDiaperCakes.com
Online or offline business: Online business
Products and/or Services Offered: None
Update for 2020, Irina has gone off line now with this business but I will leave the case study up because it is chock full of valuable advice.
I am Irina Brodehl, founder, and owner of JustDiaperCakes.com
I chose the gratifying, but also tough and sometimes frustrating, online business world.
I don’t have any products nor services to sell (I already found a couple, but they are at the ‘mind’ stage right now.)
How and why I ended up here? Sometimes I wonder that too.
As a start, I will tell you that I landed here by sheer accident.
My current business has nothing to do with any of my original ideas, so if you have a couple of minutes available, grab a cup of coffee, tea, a glass of your favorite wine, even a pint of your dearest ice cream, relax, and get ready for the journey
Can you tell me about your background and where you come from? Did you/do you still have a regular job?
I was born in 1976 in Mexico City, and I spent my first nine and a half years living in a small village nearby the big city.
Suddenly my father, who was working there, decided it was too much, and after some thinking, we ended up moving into Chetumal, the capital of the Quintana Roo state (look for Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum for better reference).
Some years later I got a Bachelor’s degree in Informatics, so I was in theory well prepared for programming, setting up and managing networks, maintaining systems or repairing and giving maintenance to most any computer.
The reality is that I worked as an IT teacher in a private school from 1997 to 1998, at the same time I was working as a Computer Technician at my father’s small company.
That summer a friend of mine found me a position teaching some Informatics-related subjects in a public high school.
At some point started to work full time there, and then I said goodbye to daddy.
Then in early 2002 I faced unemployment, a position that I held for several months.
I didn’t have any savings, I was ill, and the only jobs I found were all about programming, a thing that I dislike still today.
Luckily (thanks to one of my brother’s friends) I found a new position as an IT/English teacher in another public high school, located in a small fishermen’s town in the Mexican Caribbean, position that I held until 2010, the year I moved to Germany.
Since then I have been a SAHM, (stay at home mom) and more recently a mompreneur.
What is the name of your business and can you describe what you do and who you do it for?
JustDiaperCakes.com is the all-in-one-place-solution for people who wants to make a memorable, beautiful and meaningful baby gift, in the easiest way possible.
You see, diaper cakes (also known as nappy cakes) gather diapers (nappies), baby toiletries, toys, blankets, etc., that are then shaped like traditional layered wedding cakes, or in more bold designs such as castles, baskets, motorcycles, space rockets, etc.
These practical and outside the box presents are suitable for baby showers, christenings, baptisms, brit milah (bris), Simchat bat, visits to the hospital, welcome baby parties, birthday parties and any other celebration involving an infant.
So, for me to make a startling masterpiece, I am in charge of:
Doing the Internet Marketing (Facebook drives me crazy!) which means attracting more visitors to my website with my Facebook page and my Pinterest boards, which I have linked to at the bottom of the page.
Why? Because no visitors = no customers = no business.
Finding out the best monetization options according to my goals, and evaluating which one would be the best one to start with at a given moment.
It doesn’t matter if you are a crafting geek lady, or a seems-fairly-easy-to-give-it-a-try type, or the I-want-a-solution-now-ma’am in between 25 to 50 years old.
You can be sure JustDiaperCakes.com will provide you with the perfect solution for your ‘I don’t have a clue what to give the baby as a gift!’ dilemma.
Why did you start your business?
Teaching was a great passion for me (especially teaching myself English to teach it to others) for many years, but then I reached this emptiness, this feeling that what I was doing was not enough for me anymore.
I even started to feel like a fake, a failure.
At that time I didn’t know what it was. I only knew I wanted to build something just for me to enjoy life as I wanted, instead of letting someone else control my time for a measly wage.
JustDiaperCakes.com presents me with the chance to earn a living doing something that I love at the same time I am helping others.
I find it very poetic to share with the world all the beauty, color, and magic that such wonderful homemade baby gifts bring to so many people: the one who makes them, the lucky ones who get them, and the people who have the pleasure to take a look at them.
Where did your idea come from?
The funny part is that I discovered diaper cakes by accident while researching the possibility of building an online business around stylish diaper bags.
I was using SBI!’s Brainstorm It! tool, when out of the blue I saw pictures of them in Google.
It was love at first sight, but such a subtle one that it was not until the birth of my smallest one when the nappy cakes really commanded my attention.
Who or what inspired you?
Three different events pointed me in the diaper cake direction:
a) Getting one for our little one that was so typical German-style (practical and dull), that then and there I decided I would make a baby gift as it should be: full of color, magic, and beauty!
b) Bringing my promise to life: I made my first motorcycle diaper cake for a friend of mine whose baby was born a couple of months after my smallest one.
It turned out so lovely that the happy couple didn’t want to dismantle it. What better compliment than this?
c) My friend was the one suggesting me to sell them. And of course I did it a couple of times, but it didn’t work as I thought, because I never recovered my time and money investment.
I knew I wanted to continue making these baby gifts, and turn them into a business I could enjoy running, and also getting all the sweet rewards for my hard work.
It took me nearly two years after my first diaper cake (and a SiteSell webinar) to make the final decision: JustDiaperCakes.com was born on September 2014.
What training or development did you undertake in order to start your business?
Building my business showed me I am good at learning on my own.
Since I am in Germany, I only attended to two schools: one to learn the language, and the other one to find out how to start a business in Germany.
Here is my list of things I am still learning along the way:
Diaper Cake Know-How: lots of YouTube videos, plus a one-day nappy cake workshop in England, plus Pinterest and Google for ideas and inspiration
Building an online business: following SBI!’s Action Guide to the ‘T’, plus asking questions to more experienced SBI!ers via Solo Build It! Forums
Improving writing skills: Sam Horn’s audio course “Write Well, Write Fast, Write Now.”
Gaining photographic skills: lots of Pinterest pins, YouTube videos on the subject, and even more patience!
Language skills: four months of learning German that the government gracefully “forced” me to undertake for free.
How to open a business in Berlin: a full year in the Initiative Selbständiger Immigrantinnen (ISI) e.V. in Berlin, Germany.
How much money did you need to start off your business and where did it come from?
To bring JustDiaperCakes.com to life, I needed around 500 USD: 360 USD to cover SBI!’s monthly fees for a full year, and the remaining 140 USD in materials to make my first tutorials.
How do you make money now with your business?
Especially if I don’t have any product or service to offer, right Jackie?
As an Infopreneur (or Content Creator) I have the opportunity to take advantage of the so-called “Affiliate Programs,” a way for a vendor to get more customers thanks to your helping hand.
It works like this:
You recommend vendors’ products on your blog or article (highly related to your niche, and that you tried and love), and if the visitor clicks in those recommendations and then purchases those specific products from the merchant’s website, you earn a commission.
In the case of my niche (diaper cakes or baby gifts), I can join affiliate programs for:
The key thing here is that your website MUST attract lots of visitors per day because only a small percentage of them will click through and buy the stuff you are recommending.
Another thing to consider before joining any of these programs is your reputation. If you recommend something that at the end was not useful for your reader, or the quality didn’t meet her expectations, all your hard work will go down the drain.
The beauty of this method is once you have it up and running, you can leave it there earning money for you.
In the meantime, you can continue growing your online business, looking for a most rewarding monetization option, or simply starting a new online biz.
How did you actually start your business, in 10 steps or less?
1. I decided upon an online business.
2. I subscribed to SBI! and paid its monthly fee: 29.99 USD (299 USD per year)
3. Found a niche that appealed to me (after a very long time), and presented an excellent monetization mix (business are business, right?)
4. I registered my domain (justdiapercakes.com)
5. Built my Homepage
6. Found the next two best keywords (words that people write in Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc.,) and wrote either articles or tutorials around them
7. Set a verified PayPal Business account
What obstacles did you face when you started your business and how did you overcome them?
1. Lack of time, nothing new even for people who don’t have kids. What I do is work as much as I can during Daycare time, or late in the evening or even asking my hubby to take care of the little ones on a Saturday or Sunday if I am well behind in my due dates.
2. Lack of cute supplies for my tutorials, as Germany only produces very standard and boring baby things. What I do is whenever I spot something cute, I buy it at once.
What are some of the things you found most useful in getting your business off the ground and why?
It is the key to building and growing my online business:
I can work at my pace, a key factor for me as a mom, as there are a lot of unexpected things happening with my kids that mostly mean I can’t work.
I don’t need to write a single piece of code to make everything work (programming). Hooray!
I always get the answer or solution I am looking for, either from the live chat, by emailing technical support, or by asking questions to other SBI!ers via its forums.
Tons of YouTube videos
Even though it was tough for me to keep up because of my lack of language skills, I got precious insights about taxes, insurances, the consequences of becoming a freelance, the paperwork needed to open a business, and so on.
What advice would you give to someone who is looking for an idea to start a business? How would you suggest they go about it?
We all possess skills, strengths, know-how, tips, etc. that can improve or even save the life of others.
With so many people accessing Internet looking for solutions to their problems, or for ways to cater their needs every second, I honestly believe the Internet is the perfect means for you to provide those solutions or cater those needs, and get personal and financial rewards for doing it.
I strongly recommend you to take a look at SBI! if you want to start an online business from scratch, as I am doing it.
You won’t find any other company that is more into helping you and your business succeed: from SBI!s Action Guide and tools to its fast customer service and supportive Forums; you simply cannot go wrong here.
If you are already blogging your passion using WordPress, then let SBI! for WordPress plug-in be your roadmap to success.
You won’t regret it.
Is there anything else you would like to say that is not covered by the questions above?
Good that you mention it, Jackie!
I do have a couple of things I would like to share with all your careershakers:
It doesn’t matter how desperate or anxious you are to start your online business, and see the money pouring in.
Please, don’t let yourself be a victim of the get-rich-quick schemes, as I did.
You are not only wasting time and money. You are also demeaning yourself and your skills.
And if you happen to be a new, already or soon-to-be-mom, there are a couple of things I learned along the way:
Be easy on yourself.
Think about each new, unexpected thing that happens to your little one, as my hubby likes to say: “This is only a stage. It will be over sooner or later.” This piece of wisdom is especially useful during the first year of your small one in a Daycare, as children tend to get ill very often (every three weeks or so) during this time.
Work in advance, so you have an additional article, tutorial, video or blog ahead of time if something unexpected happens and you can’t work for a while like, for example when your kiddie gets ill.
Look for other moms with an entrepreneurial spirit, so you are all in the same boat and can support each other along the way.
If you choose to be an Infopreneur like me, discipline and consistency are a MUST. I aim to publish a new article or tutorial at least once per week.
And last, but not the least, remember: you can turn any hobby, passion or interest in a rewarding online business that you love.
You just need to make up your mind and have the right tools to accomplish the task.
I chose SBI! as my tool, and I love the results!
Wishing you all the success you deserve
Founder and owner of www.justdiapercakes.com