Meet Melissa Johnson, the fun-loving woman with the sincerest love for frosting. She is the genius behind the dessert and lifestyle blog, Best Friends for Frosting, that has taken off with much success since its inception. Find out how her business came to life and how she stays on top of the game in today's digital world.
Hi Melissa! When did you start Best Friends for Frosting and what's the story behind your blog name?
I am so thrilled to be here today! =) Best Friends For Frosting® is a lifestyle blog dedicated to joyful and wholehearted living. In 2007, I joined my friend Katie's Breast Cancer Walk Team named "Breast Friend Forever." I thought it was such a fun play on words and thought to myself, "if I started a business, I would love to do something fun with the "Best Friends" name as it felt so positive and uplifting". I've always loved frosting. You know those frosting made flowers that's on top of grocery store birthday cakes? Every year on my birthday, I would sneak in and swipe one of those flowers off with my index finger. You can't get in trouble on your birthday, right?! Did I mention I am planning on starting an etiquette section on the blog? Just kidding! ;) On a more serious note, with those two experiences, "Best Friends for Frosting" felt like a very fitting name.
How did you decide to start your dessert blog and when did you realize it could turn into a full-time career?
In 2006, I wanted to start my own bakery so I ended up working at 3 different bakeries to gain experience to open my own. I have to admit, there are SO many demands in the food industry, and I knew I was not cut out to own my own bakery during the season of life I was in. My overall takeaway from this experience was the realization that I was in love with the branding side of a business versus the demands a bakery would entail. Isn't it funny how when one door closes, another one will open?! So instead of opening a bakery, I launched Best Friends for Frosting as a dessert blog, which eventually turned into a lifestyle blog in 2013. Best Friends for Frosting® was created from a desire to share inspiration and encouragement for joyful, wholehearted living. I still can't believe I get to call this my job! I feel so incredibly thankful to have such a great connection with our community of friends all across the world!
In your opinion, what constitutes a successful team? What does your role encompass?
I have to tell you, it has taken me years to find the right formula on how to successfully build our team as it is so different for every single business. Don't you wish there was a book for that? I ended up hiring an HR consultant who really helped me do the breakdown of who we needed to set ourselves up for success. Currently, we have a team of 7. My zone of genius is branding, marketing, business development, designing our content, and creatively directing the overall look and feel of BFFF. Andy, my husband, focuses on food and product photography, business development, and some of the SEO. We also have an Operations Director, Business Development Director, Marketing Director, Editor, Creative Team, and we also work with a couple photographers. Did I mention that it takes a village to have a blog?! Who would have known! Our whole team is based in Sacramento, California except for our Editor. It's so important to build community within the workplace as we're all working so hard doing something we all love and feel passionate about.
Collaborating with brands is a big part of your business. What are your strategies when it comes to pitching brands or deciding on which brands to work with?
I have a background in marketing so I could go on and on about this topic for days and days! A couple years back, I spoke on this topic at ALT Summit on a panel with the marketing director of Wayfair and Bing. You can read about everything I shared here. I hope this can help someone. I love partnering with brands that I am truly a fan of or that I have personally used. It's been really fun because a good amount of the brands we've partnered with have been brands I've used since I was little. I've also had a blast partnering with newer brands. Our goal is to always make sure that our content feels organic and comes from a genuine level of integrity. It's important that any products we share align with our content and that they are brands we truly love or are familiar with. If I haven't heard of a brand, I add it at the top of my list to try it out myself, first hand.
I know it can be a big balancing act especially if you're a working mom. You've also mentioned that time is not your friend (we know exactly how you feel!). With that said, what strategies do you use for staying on schedule and meeting deadlines while keeping sane at work and home?
I've read so many books, blogs, and have had long conversations on this and I have to say... I think that is the question every single mom is trying to figure out! This transition was especially hard for me because I am one of those people who craves structure and loves to cross things off of a to-do list. A pink highlighter has been my best friend for as long as I can remember! I am pretty sure that if they sold a box of "progress" at the store, I would be its very best customer. Who else feels this way? ;) I have learned that what works best for me is to just take everything in one week at a time. Every Friday, I go through my planner and write down any business related goals or appointments. Every Sunday, I go back into my planner and review all the dates and also add dates of personal/family things that are coming up throughout the week. I feel so much more prepared this way. I also love the consistency of having a standing work schedule with our team. Google Drive is our best friend! Alexandria, our Operations Director, and I live off of sharing Google Docs together. I've tried to purchase expensive software like Sales Force, however, I realized that simple worked better for us! In addition to things that I don't need to write in my planner, our team has also loved using Asana.
What advice do you have for aspiring creatives?
For ultimate success, you have to bring your whole self to the table! Your personality, your style, and what makes you uniquely you! There is only one you out there, and you can't be duplicated. If you're waiting for a sign, this is it! ;) As my dad says, the Internet is a goldmine so don't wait another year or two or three. Believe in yourself, your brand, and your vision! You will attract the "right" people who get it! Don't wait for every single thing to be perfect before beginning. The secret of getting ahead is getting started. I hope you shoot for the stars!