Her vision is to create a tool that will guide women, encourage them, help them balance. To help accomplish her vision, Jessica Hostler de Sanchez formed a partnership with her sister, Brandee Hostler; her mother, Sharon Green; and her aunt, Vonnie Corsini. Together, they have come up with a subscription website that is brimming with important, useful, and interesting information that is intellectually, physically and emotionally stimulating.
In this exclusive Mequoda interview, Ms. Hostler de Sanchez tells us how www.CrazedMoms.com got started and where it is headed.
MEQUODA By way of background what did you do before www.CrazedMoms.com?
JHS I completed various years of college, didn’t finish and got married and started a family. I own another business in town called Master Clean USA, Inc.; it is a janitorial service that I started with my husband some 13 years ago. It is quite successful. In between, I owned a day care.
MEQUODA What best describes your position with www.CrazedMoms.com?
JHS Founder/President. The website was my vision/creation however; I recruited my sister, mother and aunt to partner with me and help build it.
MEQUODA How did you come to start www.CrazedMoms.com? What’s it all about?
JHS For many months, and maybe even years, I had noticed a need for moms…women…to find a way to balance their busy lives. I also saw the need for woman to have support, encouragement, tools and information that would assist them in their lives and in raising their families.
I saw many moms sites on the net, but nothing that offered “all you need in one convenient place” and that spent the time we did to offer a balance of what a woman needs.
The Menu Planner section, for example, is useful in the area of meal planning…the Energize Yourself section focuses on taking care of yourself physically and mentally and spiritually…women need to shop…they shop for school, for groceries, for birthday parties for clothes and on and on.
We have a shopping mall. Women are generally in charge of the house, thus: Hint List is full of hints on how to make that an easier task. Ama’s corner deals with family dynamics, stronger marriages, encouragement, manners, child raising issues and much more. (SEE ABOUT US on the site.)
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MEQUODA How long has your site been active and what is your subscription fee structure?
JHS CrazedMOMS.com launched on May 3, 2004. The subscription is currently at a discounted price of $20 per year. The subscription includes access to all the tools on the site: Ecards, personal calendar, address book, wish list, menu planner, recipe box, recipe search, exercise tools (BMI calculator and more), news and weather and all other sections that are FULL of information and help for anyone.
MEQUODA Your sister, mother and aunt all work with you in the business. How do you divide the responsibilities? Who creates most of the new content?
JHS My aunt is the exercise and fitness editor/expert. She handles that area of the site.
My mother is “Ama” and she takes care of that section as well as a large part of the Menu Planner.
My sister and I work together on the Mall and the Hint List. I take care of Soul Care and we all pitch in to work on the News section. So, the answer is that we all work on the content.
MEQUODA Now to the technical details. To build your site, what tools did you use, and how long did it take?
JHS We hired a web-development company in town. It took about three months all together…30 days for them to get the site together…three months total to search for the right company, get information together research, etc.
MEQUODA Can members subscribe online through a secure server, and is the process built into your site or outsourced?
JHS Yes, they subscribe online through a secure server. We use VeriSign and PayProFlo, but it is built into the system.
MEQUODA How easy, time-consuming, etc. is the process of adding new content?
JHS For the most part, adding new things is pretty easy. We update the menu weekly, the Soul Care section (Daily Word and Weekly Word) is updated weekly and other articles and items are added and swapped out as we desire.
MEQUODA Marketing and promotion seem to be a great challenge for most subscription website publishers. How have you approached this task, and what kind of results have you experienced?
JHS This is definitely very difficult. I have Googled to find companies online that do targeted popunder and banner marketing for the most part. I also found another mom’s site that I advertise with that gets us quite a lot of leads. It is pretty much hit and miss at this point, but I am not giving up! I am trying to network with other women with similar businesses and get our name out as fast as possible.
MEQUODA I notice you have a shopping mall on your site. Is shopping mall sales revenue a significant source of income for you at this point?
JHS Not yet, but we hope once our membership goes up, it will be used regularly and we will be able to count on it for significant revenue.
MEQUODA What’s your best advice to Mequoda members who are seeking to develop additional revenue streams for their online business?
JHS Don’t give up…keep asking questions…seeking, looking, searching…persistence will pay off. (I hope!) We are still in this stage ourselves and so I am not the best person to give advice yet. I hope to be able to help others out in the near future however!
MEQUODA How do you find new subscribers, or how do they find you? What’s the process like for increasing sales and memberships?
JHS Right now I have an ad on Momsnetwork.com that runs on 14 of their sites. We get directed e-mails from their visitors. Those leads turn into members. They also run a print magazine, business directory and e-mail newsletter that crazedMOMS has participated in. All of these have brought in members for us.
Also, my most current web-popunder targeted campaign has gotten us quite a few new members. I also have sent information to Dr. Laura and having our letter on her site helped us also.
MEQUODA What has been your greatest challenge to date, doing business online?
JHS Getting traffic and finding members.
MEQUODA What tips would you pass on to aspiring publishers who want to start a subscription-based website?
JHS Do your research and do it carefully and thoroughly. We were so excited to get our idea out there that we spent more money than we should have or needed to!
MEQUODA What’s the best or smartest thing you’ve done? What’s the worst?
JHS Networking with other moms/women. This has not only been a great experience, but very encouraging also.
The worst was that I didn’t do enough research on webmasters and hosting companies and we now find ourselves in a contract that is TOO expensive! But, at the time, I had interviewed two or three companies and went with my gut feeling that the company we chose was the one we wanted. We have had LOTS of trouble ever since…
MEQUODA What subscription-based websites do you subscribe to and/or recommend?
JHS Momsnetwork.com is definitely doing a GREAT job. I wasn’t such a fan of their site aesthetically at first, but I have found it to be well run, full of ideas and the people truly want to see other women succeed!
MEQUODA What question have I neglected to ask you that you want to answer?
JHS We are committed to giving back to the community. Our goal is to give back 10 percent of our revenue to organizations that support the family: Focus on the Family, Dr. Laura Foundation (until it closes soon) and many others. We know that our success will come from God, as did the inspiration, and we plan to give back financially to others as He gives to us.