Heather Vreeland is the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta Occasions Magazine. My attention was first caught by this publication when I saw Tweets about its launch last summer. I was VERY intrigued. It was 2009 and magazines were closing… I was extremely curious to know who it was that decided to buck the trend and just do it: launch a magazine! So, I stumbled on Heather’s blog and I fell in LOVE with all of it. Her Business & Bright Ideas Blog is loaded with highly valuable information on marketing, advertising, and branding. I knew she was onto something big.
So how did she start the magazine? Having no prior experience in publishing, but always living by the mantra whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve, she channeled her resources and googled her way into the industry in 2008 and created Atlanta Occasions. Her gumption and love of life’s many celebrations has catapulted the Atlanta Occasions brand into one of the most respected multi-platform media companies across the Atlanta special events industry and continues to grow by leaps and bounds.
WOW – I’m totally inspired!
Publisher & Editor-in-Chief of Atlanta Occasions Magazine
First Issue: July 2009
Why did you start Atlanta Occasions Magazine?
I started out with AtlantaOccasions.com first. When I moved in Atlanta in 2006 I was jobless and had no direction in the career path I wanted to take in a new city. I got a job at David’ Bridal making $7 an hour with literally no responsibility and it was great. If it weren’t for the manual labor I would have stayed there longer. That job gave me a peek of the Atlanta Brides and what they were looking for. A little while later I had my eye on an old Southern Antebellum home that was on sale around the corner from my house and I kept thinking “that place would make a great wedding venue.” I spent months researching, planning and negotiating on the property and decided at the last minute that it wasn’t the right thing for me when we could not agree on a price. I left wondering, “what the heck do I know?”
I went back to the business plan I had created trying to determine what I could use/learn from the experience and it got me thinking… I wanted to market that facility to local brides, not in a broad metro area. The sites out there only list Atlanta as a region and if you’ve looked at the map lately you’ll notice there are 28 (very large) counties that make up “Atlanta” and would make my marketing efforts to broad in my opinion. So, with experience in design and having the right contacts in web I decided to make a website that would let you narrow the search in Atlanta on a regional and county level too. Thus, AtlantaOccasions.com. Fast forward, about 12 months into the project, I realized that although internet marketing is extremely valuable, because it’s not truly tangible like print, many people still don’t quite understand or value it (wow… I know). I knew I had to strengthen the brand across multiple products and platforms. I tried to partner with several mags to do joint packages, but no one would partner, so I said, “Fine, I’ll just make my own magazine.” And here I am now.
What book do you recommend to new business owners?
I did a ton of reading while I was planning my quest to rule the world. The most inspiring book was Robert Kiyosaki’s “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”. Interestingly enough my mother had given me that book when I was 18, but I had no idea why…. 10 years later I pulled it out of the attic after a friend/mentor of mine recommended it and it put the life of an “entrepreneur” into perspective for me. Although it focuses heavily on investment in real estate and stocks, you can easily see the underlying advice is purely investment in general. I see my company as in investment in my future that builds and builds on the elbow grease I put into it, thus ultimately leading to the financial freedom I’m working towards. I knew the big dreams I have wouldn’t come from collecting a paycheck every two weeks and that I had to risk it all and invest 100% of myself into a company that may someday have a great return. I also loved were “Think and Grow Rich” by Napolean Hill. On a personal note, I’m total Twilight groupie too. 😉
Do you have any cool goal-setting tips to share with us?
Goal setting tips… A long time ago I created a dream board because I strongly believe the saying “whatever the mind can conceive it can achieve.” So I created a board posted with tons of pictures, photos, inspiration sayings etc of all the things I wanted at that moment. I change it from time to time as I grow as a person but it consistently reminds me of what my ultimate motive is when I’m putting in 15 hour days.
What do you find to be the biggest challenge in the work you do?
Discipline. Period. People think it’s all fun and games to “be your own boss,” but truly it’s the hardest work I’ve ever done. I’m the one who has to tell myself, “no, you can’t have that day off.” Little things like getting out of bed early and not spending so much time on facebook/twitter are a constant challenge, but ultimately it all comes down to discipline.
If you were starting your career all over again, what would you have done differently?
Um, I would have gotten into the advertising industry sooner. I love marketing and finding new ways to reach potential clients and I never realized my knack for ad sales until I actually owned a magazine/website. I had never sold advertising before so when I started, I just used the approach I would expect if I was the business owner or buyer and it’s helped me relate to my clients better.
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