Community Chat: Tara Baker of Dancing with Her

Tara is the co-founder of Dancing With Her, the world's only wedding publication that celebrates LGBTQ+ women in love. It's a publication that inspires LGBTQ+ lovers to celebrate their love authentically – because all love deserves to be celebrated.

  1. So Tara, tell us what inspired you to start your business, and what steps did you take to get it off the ground?

Back in 2016, my partner and I got engaged. I, very nervously, proposed with a shiny gold ring, and she said, yes! Thank goodness.

But, immediately after our proposal, we discovered that the wedding industry isn’t one that really celebrated our love. As an LGBTQ+ couple, we found that often relationships like ours weren't celebrated within wedding media. It was really disheartening and uninspiring, so we decided that we needed to do something about it.

It all started as an Instagram account that quickly gained momentum. We had no idea that we would learn to build our own website next, then go down the route of creating a print magazine with a whopping $0 in our bank account to invest and no idea where to start.

At the time, I was working in nursing and my partner Arlia was spending time recovering from a traumatic brain injury. Very different from publishing!

That very first magazine launched in 2017 to more than 40 countries around the world, and it's been a rollercoaster ride ever since!

  1. What 3 pieces of advice would you give to someone looking to start a business in your industry?

Don't listen to those who say no. We were told so many times that we would fail because we didn't have the money we needed to invest into the business they thought we needed. It turns out they were wrong. Passion has driven our success from day one.

Sometimes things are really tough, and you'll want to throw your business in the bin. The work can feel overwhelming and self-doubt can creep in. Don't give up. Take a deep breath and come back to it tomorrow. The hard days pass.

Publishing isn't dead. In fact, indie publishing is really thriving. And, digital publishing, well, that's a whole different kettle of fish. It's the right time to get into publishing, I promise.

  1. How do you manage time working on client stuff vs building your own business? Are there any particular tools you use to help you stay on track, promote yourself, manage your time, do the actual writing, etc?

All of my writing is done inside Google Docs, and I have Grammarly premium installed as an extension in Chrome that keeps me on top of spelling, grammar and sentence structure. Google Docs is perfect when I'm working on pieces that have multiple contributors or need to be sent across to an editor.

When it comes to project management, I use both Asana and Airtable to keep on track of tasks. Both allow me to add in different tasks, add timelines and stick to them. Generally, Asana is great for its kanban boards - they're visual, which is great when compiling stories and creating publishing schedules.

Airtable is awesome when we need a spreadsheet that is so much more functional than the old-school Excel.

  1. How have you refined your processes over time? Are there any things you used to say 'yes' to in the early days of your business that you say 'no' to now? And why?

It's probably less about refining processes and more about valuing my own time. In the past, I would say yes to most opportunities that came my way, whereas now I'm more selective with what I say yes to. I only have time to add things that'll add value to the business in one way or another to my calendar.

  1. Who is your ideal client? Why?

We have two avatars. One side of our business is focused on LGBTQ+ people who are looking for representation of the relationships that they have.

However, most of our revenue comes from our partnerships. Our ideal partner is a creative wedding pro who isn't just looking to make more bookings from LGBTQ+ couples. They wholeheartedly celebrate the LGBTQ+ community authentically inside their business and outside of it. They want to align with a publication that, at its core, celebrates love, knowing that sometimes that journey is filled with heartache.

Our ideal partner is looking more for a partnership than just an exchange of money for advertising space. We want to be your wedding business's biggest cheerleader and support our partners through their business journies.

  1. When it comes to your biz, what part does Instagram play in your marketing strategy? Are there any other platforms you focus on?

Gosh, a huge part.

We wouldn't have a business without Instagram, quite literally. It's certainly the platform that has allowed us to reach the biggest audience and converts the most revenue. While the numbers are vanity metrics, the real strategy can be seen in our DM's. We have a really engaged community who feel really connected to our publication.

A big focus of our content strategy is also within our blog and SEO efforts.

We're a tiny team of just two, so spreading ourselves thin across too many strategies to something that we are really conscious of.

  1. On the finance-y side of things, how long were you running the business before you started paying yourself? How did you get through those first few months?‍

It took about a year of working on and in the business before I felt comfortable taking a wage, of sorts.

In that time I continued to work in nursing, finding time between shifts to pull together Dancing With Her. The biggest hurdle in the first year, financially, was printing a magazine. 

It was a really large outlay of cash, and we just didn't have the money personally to invest. Thankfully, we were able to pre-sell enough copies to pay for the entire print run. Thanks, Instagram.

  1. Now for a less sexy side of growing your own gig - I'd love to hear your thoughts on super. Is super something that was part of your 'business success' strategy from day one, or is it something you only started doing when you found your feet?

It's absolutely something that was pushed to the side until the business found its feet. In saying that, I have held some type of casual job on the side for the past few years that has contributed to my super.

In hindsight, I wish I was on top of it earlier on, even if it just meant putting a little bit away each month. Isn't hindsight a wonderful thing?!

  1. Where do you go to up-level and draw inspo from? Favourite books, podcasts, blogs? Any other resources we should know about?

I generally find inspiration from listening to the success of others, usually from outside of my own industry. I'm forever inspired by others who make business happen in whatever way works for them. How I Built This by Guy Raz is a favorite podcast, but I'm always discovering new ones.

Rapid Fire Questions:

Where would you go if you were invisible?

I'd probably spend the day with an ambulance crew. If I wasn't doing what I'm doing now, I'd be a paramedic.

Any pet peeves?

I'm not really bothered by much, but people who can't merge into traffic properly really get on my nerves.

What is your favourite movie quote?

Ah, I'm not a movie person!


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