Wedding Dresses (4)

FabList’s 1st Anniversary – an ‘Interview’ with Jo & Chrissie!

Happy 1st Anniversary to FabList! It’s been a year since we launched our site and sent out our first weekly newsletter, ‘putting out into the world’ the books, shows, clothing, gifts, and more that we wanted to share. Have we learned a ton? Yes. Has it all been fun? Mostly. Are we still great friends who can’t wait to build the FabList brand? Yup!

We decided to ‘interview’ ourselves, reflecting a bit on this past year, and answering questions that friends tend to ask us about FabList.

It’s been a year since the FabList site launched and the first weekly(ish) newsletter went out. How have things changed since pressing ‘send’ on that first email blast?

Chrissie: Hitting ‘send’ and putting ourselves ‘out there’ that first time was scary…would people like what we had to say? We have seen that our weekly newsletter is where people interact with FabList the most (vs the site itself) and we have gradually tweaked the look/feel of the newsletter as well as the content, now landing at a place that represents what we want the brand to be. It’s become more lifestyle-focused, vs primarily retail-focused, and we have found our ‘rhythm’. In the past couple months I’ve had so many people comment “FabList has really blossomed” or “FabList has really come into own” or “I just LOVE getting my FabList every week” – so it seems we have found our sweet spot!

We’ll continue to evolve, which is the fun part! We are considering shifting in the coming months over to Substack as a delivery vehicle for the newsletter and we are relaunching the site in the next couple months as well. There is always more to learn, which is part of what we love.

Joanne: I think we are learning more about what our users want to see. This is of course based on having a year of data to lead us.  Each week we look at how many newsletters are opened, how many clicks each story gets, what products users are buying, who has unsubscribed (we know who you are!). The numbers tell the story!  We spent a lot of time getting our website, FabList.co, built out and it’s always surprising to me when users (including my own sister!) say “I didn’t know you had a website”!  We have a website where we house all of our lists, as well as all of our blogs from our weekly newsletter. Take a look!!

Which newsletter was the most widely read?

It was a tight ‘win’, but the newsletter that got the highest ‘open’ rate was one on Hawaii, Amazon Finds and Go-To Weeknight Recipes. But most of our newsletters get approximately the same ‘open rate’, which is actually super high compared to industry standards – like 4x higher.  The article/blog that got the most opens/clicks, by just a bit, was the one on Spring One-and-Done Dresses.

We also love it when our users suggest a list idea for us to research (clean beauty, repurposed clothing sites, reading glasses, lip tints) so don’t hesitate to reach out!

What’s been your best-selling product?

It’s hard to track as different sites have different reporting abilities, but some popular Amazon specific items that took us by surprise were our beloved favorite milk foamer (life wouldn’t be the same without it), an awesome little travel jewelry holder (Chrissie won’t travel without it!), the terrific power outlet to use bedside (great for guest rooms!), this great tinted lip balm (also Chrissie’s favorite), and this awesome glasses/screen cleaner (used by Apple stores apparently).  All of these are great stocking stuffers/gifts to have on hand and are perfect to use yourself!

What’s been your favorite blog to write?

Chrissie: I really enjoy the interviews (although they take a ton of time to research and ‘produce’) and learning about all the wonderful things interesting women are doing – like Lobird stationary designer Laurie Rohrbach, literature podcaster Kimberly Ford, Sarah Sands (about why she only wears tennis shoes!), and entrepreneur Audrey Hanneman. These get super high readership as well.

Joanne:  I agree with Chrissie!  Talking one-on-one with stylist Hardie Cobbs, chef Linda Augustine, and top luxury goods seller Peggy Urban is so fun, as well as stressful because it’s a big responsibility to represent these people correctly!  I also like the travel blogs because they are a good record of a trip (the memory isn’t quite what it was) and it’s fun to share sources with our users.

How much time are you spending on FabList? How long does it take to write each newsletter?

Chrissie: It’s a job and not a hobby! Each weekly newsletter usually contains three feature stories (or blogs) that live on our site (and can be accessed any time afterward), as well as the ‘This and That’ section which highlights shows, books, sales etc. Each of those three blogs has to be researched, written, linked (with affiliate links to retail sites), have graphics made, put online, and then put into a newsletter format – and can take anywhere from 4-8 hours I’d say (more for some, less for others). Then there’s the daily social media posting which takes more time than you’d imagine as we create each post in Canva, download it to our phones, create the posts and stories, link and tag retailers, and then publish! And then there’s site maintenance (and we’re currently redoing the site in a new format). And there’s working to get affiliate partnerships, as that’s how we make money. So we can easily both work full time, but we also swore we’d allow ourselves flexibility when we started this (for travel, for family, for Jo’s work as a designer, for volunteer work) so in reality we probably each work on average of 20-30 hours/week on FabList.

Joanne:  Chrissie sums it up pretty well!  It’s been amazing how much we’ve had to learn this past year.  We learned WordPress, our website host, as we built all the initial lists on the site and now maintain/refresh them.  We learned MailChimp, which we use to write and publish our newsletters.  We learned Canva, where we do all our graphics. And we are reluctantly learning the more nuanced features of running a business account on Instagram, where we do our stories and posts (UGH).  This is a lot to learn!

What’s your favorite part of this past year working on FabList? What’s the best part of the job?

Chrissie: I love working with Joanne – we are a great work team and have a ton of fun! I realize that having a partner, but still working independently and with flexibility within that framework, really works well for me.  I love keeping up to date on trends, shows, fashion, books, etc – I always have done that but now I do it for work! I like creating, sharing and connecting – and FabList lets me do that. I like the writing and designing aspect of what we do the most. And of course I love sharing all of our favorite things with others – that’s why we started the site/newsletter in the first place!

Joanne:  And I love working with Chrissie!  There are Saturdays where we zoom all day and I don’t think I could do this with anyone else.  I LOVE finally having all of our lists in one tidy spot, FabList.co.  When people ask me what to read, watch, listen to, buy, etc . . . I can say “Go to FabList.co”.  It’s been a great dumping ground for our brains…that we can share with others!

What are the challenges? Worst part of the job?

Chrissie: Social media! We have to ‘feed the beast’….it’s the evil necessity of what we do and I do not like it! We’re doing much better now and have embraced it…perhaps not enthusiastically, but we now have a consistent feed with a consistent look and feel which is progress! The other challenge is growing our newsletter subscriber base. Our success is totally a numbers game as we make money via affiliate link sales so we need to get to a certain number of subscribers to make FabList sustainable long term. We have a super involved subscriber base, and we’re not going to ‘buy’ subscribers, so growth is organic but very necessary. The other thing we are working on, that doesn’t come naturally to us, is putting our ‘faces’ out there more as part of the brand. We have only done one video of us for Instagram and that was so hard for us – if you only knew how many takes we did to get one semi-uncomfortable 5-second clip!

Joanne:  Time!  There just isn’t enough time to do everything we need to do. We joke that we’ll have our accounting department (us) get on it, or tell our marketing department (us) to get us some more eyeballs.  We are both MBA’s and know what we need to do, but we don’t have the time or resources to do it all, so we’re just doing the best we can!

Where do you hope FabList is a year from now?

Chrissie: I’d love for FabList to be a household name among women 50+, where they come weekly for recommendations and community. And we’d love to finally make money!

Joanne: I have a list of what I’d like to see (big surprise!). Short term I’d love to get over 1,000 Instagram followers!  I’d love to at least triple our newsletter subscriber base.  And I’d love for people to use our website more (once it’s refreshed…we’ll keep you posted on that).

What do you want to write about that you haven’t yet?

Chrissie: There are so many interesting women that I’m excited to interview. Women 50+ are doing amazing things and it’s exciting to be able to highlight them. Plus I’m looking forward to upcoming travel so that I can write about it afterwards :). I’m going to Columbia in a couple of weeks with my eldest son.

Joanne:  I like creating our lists. I think they’re helpful to people.  I thought we might run out of ideas but we have a big list of lists that we want to write about:  british tv shows, coffee makers, white blouses, tote bags, meal delivery services, and anything that is trending!

How do you make money? Are you making any? 

We make money through affiliate sales – when someone clicks on a product link on our site or our newsletter and makes a purchase we may make money from it. We don’t have deals with every product we link to, and some things make a very tiny amount (like Amazon products) whereas others may make more.

Once someone enters a site from our link we may get paid on ANY purchase they make there, not just from the product we recommended/linked. We have a ‘Retailers We Love’ page and if someone clicks on any of those approximately 30 sites from that page when doing their everyday shopping – on Amazon or any number of retail sites – it really helps us!

In terms of making money, yes we are making money, but we are not yet breaking even.

What can your readers/followers do to help FabList grow and succeed? 

So glad you asked ;)!

  • Continue to read and enjoy our newsletter! Spread the word by sharing the newsletter sign up link with people
  • Make purchases at your favorite sites (Amazon, Anthro, Macys, Bloomingdales and many more) by entering through our Retailers We Love page. Bookmark it!
  • When you need a gift idea/product rec/show or book rec, visit our FabList.co site and browse our many lists for ideas, and make purchases.
  • Tell us what you want to see as well as what you like! We love getting questions/requests from FabListers, as well as suggestions of what you are loving and recommend. If you have a fabulous person you think we should interview – let us know! A favorite book you’re reading or product you love – let us know!

Thanks to all our FabListers, as well as our husbands, friends and family, for supporting us this past year!

 

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Joanne & Chrissie

Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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Joanne & Chrissie

Chrissie and Joanne love discovering, curating and creating. They developed FabList as a place to share their favorite finds with you.

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