The goal of Hardly Hustle is to provide inspiration, drive and motivation in a 10 minute read or less. What you see is what you get. This is hot off the press without an editing team. Content is not just about visibility; it's about setting your customers’ minds on fire with fascination, delight, and deep relation to your brand. Haylee Kalani is up.
Who are you and what do you do?
Howdy! I'm Haylee Kalani, a Content Marketing Consultant. Although, I never planned on starting a career in marketing… I like to say I "stumbled" upon this industry. When I was getting out of school, I had zero intention of getting into sales, marketing, or business in general. I was actually involved in the music industry in Seattle, WA! I was interning as a music producer & audio engineer at a recording studio (famous for Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Soundgarden, and more).
All I knew at the time was that I wanted to be my own boss. I thought I was going to be freelancing as a music producer for various singers, songwriters, and bands. (Rick Rubin vibes, you know?) But during that time, I kept noticing a common theme in the studio. Musicians & bands would come in, and they had mad talent. But they struggled to go on tour, sell out shows, or gain enough streams to make enough money to continue their passion. When it comes down to it - they didn't know how to build an audience. And it wasn't because they weren't talented enough. It came down to their positioning.
Seeing as I also wanted to work for myself & produce for larger bands - this got me thinking… "What does it really take to grab people's attention? And once you have it, how do you keep it long enough for people to like you & what you do?" Those are the questions that started it all. I became obsessed with understanding what makes people want what you have. I studied advertising, celebrities, large YouTube creators, paid social content, videography, copywriting, etc... Anything that had to do with capturing people's attention, I was learning about it. I eventually got certified in digital marketing and began working with people in my sphere who wanted to grow their audience.
I ran ads, managed social media pages, filmed content, edited it, built websites & landing pages, wrote copy, built & ran email campaigns, SMS campaigns, came up with the strategy, executed it… you name it, I did it. (I was essentially a one-woman marketing agency. In hindsight, It was a LOT of work that paid off in a big way. I was able to understand the nooks and crannies of marketing campaigns and how they operated - soup to nuts.) At first, it was other musicians, bands, and recording studios. Then it was personal trainers, gym owners, coaches, and financial advisors.
Then it was mortgage lenders, business consultants, and creative agencies! I started gaining referrals and working with a wide variety of clients in both the B2B and B2C space. I love having a wide range of clients who are involved in different industries. I believe it's a strength that makes me unique in my work. It’s made me better understand the core principles of great content marketing & human behavior.
These days, I rarely come across a business that I don’t know how to craft engaging, high-converting content for. Because great brand content always comes down to customer personalization. Today in my business, I consult brand Founders and CEOs. Helping them generate organic & paid content that wins more business and builds die-hard brand loyalty. Because in a marketing world that craves the extraordinary, playing it safe is the ultimate risk.
And since content is a blazing beacon of your brand's personality & perceived quality… Content is not just about visibility; it's about setting your customers’ minds on fire with fascination, delight, and deep relation to your brand. That’s what turns attention, into an asset. (aka - engaged leads, and a helluva lot of sales).
I love what I do and the clients I get to do it for. Don’t get me wrong, being my own boss is NOT always easy. As a matter of fact, it often feels like getting punched in the face. But I wouldn’t trade it for anything else. Getting to help people who have a passion - make a better living from it - is magic.
What did it take/how did you get started?
I kept noticing a common theme in the studio. Musicians & bands would come in, and they had mad talent. But they struggled to go on tour, sell out shows, or gain enough streams to make enough money to continue their passion. When it comes down to it - they didn't know how to build an audience. And it wasn't because they weren't talented enough. It came down to their positioning.
Seeing as I also wanted to work for myself & produce for larger bands - this got me thinking… "What does it really take to grab people's attention? And once you have it, how do you keep it long enough for people to like you & what you do?" Those are the questions that started it all.
I became obsessed with understanding what makes people want what you have. I studied advertising, celebrities, large YouTube creators, paid social content, videography, copywriting, etc... Anything that had to do with capturing people's attention, I was learning about it.
What does the future look like for you and your business?
I plan to continue working with clients 1:1 - helping them generate content that is bold, creative, and effective. But I also plan to expand my services to larger companies, teaching/training small to medium in-house marketing teams.
What drives / motivates you on a daily basis?
The thought of supporting other entrepreneurs to build a thriving business by bringing mass attention to their product or service (aka - what they love & what they're good at) gets me so stoked. If I can help someone else live their dream while living my own - that's a win.
What advice would you give someone interested in doing what you do?
Do not quit. Content marketing is a continuous learning experience. The world of creativity can be rewarding and unforgiving at the same time. You may have brilliant ideas but they may not come out the way you want. You'll have ideas that flop.
You'll have ideas that make you money & ones that don't. But that's part of the game. And as long as you learn from your mistakes and continue deliberately practicing your craft to get better - you can't lose. Just don't quit.
What has been the hardest part of your business journey?
Being my own boss. Taking responsibility for all things that go wrong. And giving credit due to others when things go right. Keeping promises to myself and pushing through bouts of boredom, frustration, procrastination, and burnout. Trying to keep a level head when some months are great (I've got lots of clients) and some months are sh*t (crickets...).
Feeling like I know exactly what I'm doing - and then immediately feeling like I have an eternity more to learn. Being my own boss was (and still is) the hardest part of starting my business. I'm the one who I have to look up to. I'm the one who I have to report to. I'm the one who I have to rely on. And that can be tough as nails. But it's worth it.
How have you managed burnout thus far?
I've been "burnt out" many times before. It used to put me out for a week or more at a time. Now, at this point in my life, I just view it as a season. It comes and goes just as life does. In times of high workload and overwhelm, I try to work WITH my stress - not against it. I'll use my stress as fuel.
For example, in times when I can feel myself "burning out", I get very anxious first thing in the morning when I wake up. So instead of laying in bed feeling anxious - I immediately get up and start working on the thing that's making me anxious. And surprise surprise, the anxiety and stress surrounding that thing usually disappears. That's how I manage/balance stress and avoid burnout.
What are a few resources that you'd recommend?
Book - Might be cliche but, Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book helped me get my work systems routines in order. For business - take Alex Hormozi's $100M Offers and $100M Leads courses.
These will give you a solid understanding of what it takes to make something people want. Podcast for marketers or business owners - Check out "That's Marketing, Baby", "B2B Revenue Vitals", and Noah Kagan's podcast.
List the founders
Haylee Kalani McDonald
How many hours a week do you work on this hustle?
# of Employees?
When did you start?
How much did it cost to launch?
What were your funding methods and ballpark amount raised?
All self funded. I just started working with paying clients as soon as I could. It started out as "favors" for people I knew and then turned into paying gigs.
What's the #1 thing you need right now?
I'd love to have a mentor who's worked as a contracted marketing strategist/advisor/consultant to medium to large-sized companies.