Meet the leader: Kelly Ballard launched CITYGIRLMEETSFARMBOY to share the joy of creating beautiful spaces on a budget. Four years later, thanks to the power of community and the magic of brand collaboration, she’s built a thriving full-time business.
Kelly’s passion: Elevating all things DIY and home décor in promotional partnership with companies from across the U.S.
How she’s growing her business with Marco Polo Channels: Channels gave Kelly a simple, effective platform to share her passion and well-earned knowledge, connect more closely with followers, and establish a new income stream.
As a young mom on a budget, Kelly Ballard always looked for ways to beautify her home and nurture her creative side. She restored thrift store finds, learned to hang wallpaper, and taught herself to sew, all to “keep her mind fresh and her hands busy.” The year she turned 40, Kelly created an Instagram account on a whim to share her passion with a like-minded community.
“A few months later, a company sent me a pillowcase and asked me to feature it on my feed. I was like, ‘What? Why?’’ she laughs. “But it led me to realize there were opportunities for collaboration right in front of me.”
That first year, Kelly earned $5K in product that she used to beautify her home and bolster her brand on social media. The second year, she made $15K in product along with a couple thousand in cash. With a growing understanding that the multibillion dollar brand collaboration industry could mean real income for her, Kelly interspersed shiplap installation, laundry room renovation, and trips to The Home Depot with deep research about how to grow her business in a way that felt authentic and intentional.
By 2020 her home was a showplace, she had 250,000 followers on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, and TikTok combined, and she was making a full-time living by using her social media presence as a platform for brand collaboration.
Yet, the real connection she craved with her followers was lacking.
Channels: sharing knowledge and passion simply but effectively
As Kelly’s expertise and income grew, friends and followers told her they wanted more than just DYI techniques. They wanted to know the secrets of her business.
Kelly liked the idea of launching a course, but the online teaching platforms she explored made the process seem complicated and intimidating.
“It was more techy than what I was ready to try. I just like to talk,” she says.
Kelly was already a fan of the Marco Polo app, so when a professional contact suggested Marco Polo Channels, she was game. It sounded like a simple, authentic way to test the waters of course creation.
She put together a one-time, month-long $30 course using her closest friends as a test audience, knowing the price point was low but wanting to see if the whole thing would fly.
Her members’ feedback was unequivocal: “This is such valuable content. You need to charge what you’re worth.” Kelly offered the course again, raised the price point, and let word of mouth do its magic, bringing in a fresh new group of members month after month.
Channel goals and structure
Kelly designed her first Channel, CITYGIRLMEETSFARMBOY, as a one-month standalone course covering all the topics she wished she’d known about when she was starting out, like how to confidently approach and engage a company, create a brand collab-ready social media page, build a media kit, and calculate the worth of your sponsored posts. She even covered granular but must-know topics like Federal Trade Commission guidelines.
Lessons built on each other, and Kelly offered plenty of support and encouragement along the way. By the end of the course, participants were ready to reach out and start talking to brands.
How Kelly fits her Channel into her life
Kelly is busy, and so are her members. Careful planning and organization make everything run smoothly.
At the same time each month, Kelly reaches out to followers with an invitation to join her upcoming course, laying out exactly what they can expect to learn each week.
Once the Channel is under way, she emails her members a PDF every Tuesday containing the weekly lesson, supplementary links, and a homework sheet.
Kelly was surprised by how much she loves sharing her expertise on Channels, particularly because unlike other coaching platforms it’s a simple, convenient app. She’s found that 20 minutes hits the sweet spot between being comfortable to record and listen to, yet still in-depth and high-value. Members can absorb lessons all at once or divide them up.
Results with Channels: Deeper member connections and a steady new income stream
After those first eight students spread the word, Kelly’s Channel caught on like wildfire. By the end of 2020 she’d taught her course to more than 100 members.
In 2021, Kelly incorporated the feedback and learning she’d gained from her first round of classes to create her current Channel, the Confident Collaborating Course, raising her original price point by a factor of 10. She likes to offer coupons and referral discounts, but even after deducting those costs she grosses $80-$120 per member per class.
Her feedback is stellar. One member messaged her recently to share how much she loved both the course content and the close interaction she built with other members of Kelly’s community.
Kelly’s top Channels features
#1. Coupons. Each month Kelly creates coupons and shares referral offers with members who have completed her course and want to recommend it to their own followers. The Channels coupon feature makes it easy both to create coupon codes and track where they originated.
#2. Extras. Because Kelly covers a lot of ground in her courses, she likes to supplement video posts with compilations of resources and links. In addition to emailing PDFs each week she posts them on the Extras tab, part of the Pro subscription plan, so that participants can easily grab and reference them later.
#3. Clean, clear organization. “I love that my posts appear in chronological order and that I can add titles. People can easily see where they left off and navigate among posts.”