Big News: My Content Marketing Company Has Been Acquired

July 5, 2015 · 66 comments

I have some exciting news to share: My content marketing company, Socialexis, has been acquired by Taylor Media, a digital media startup.


As you can tell from the giphy above, I’m pop-the-champagne-excited about what this means for the business, as well as for me personally. While this closes a chapter of my career that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed, you know you made the right decision when you barely take a second to look back because you’re so fired up about what’s ahead.

While I feel good about moving forward, this wasn’t an easy decision to make. Those of you who read this blog regularly know I wasn’t positioning myself to sell the business. Since launching Socialexis nearly five years ago, I’ve intentionally kept the company small, scaling just enough to get awesome systems in place and over-deliver for our clients without compromising my own work-life balance.

But the universe presents opportunities when we least expect them, and often those are the paths most worth taking. While some details typically remain under wraps in private deal like this one, I do want to share as much as I can about how this happened and what it means going forward, with the goal of teasing out some lessons for anyone else who’s building a business.

How our content marketing company got acquired

For the last few years, my company has focused on blog management, helping businesses and content-focused websites publish blog posts worth reading to grow their communities online. We’ve offered a full-service solution, from strategizing content direction to recruiting writers to editing, optimizing for search and publishing.

Here’s a one-minute video that explains how we work:


One of our clients in this space has been Taylor Media. This digital media startup operates a number of web properties, including The Penny Hoarder, a blog about weird ways to earn and save money. The site sees about 5.5 million unique visitors each month. To put that into perspective, only about 325 websites in the United States see more than 5 million monthly uniques, according to Quantcast.

The site has grown significantly since we started managing its editorial side, publishing about 20 posts weekly. Now, Taylor Media is bringing our blog-management team and processes in-house, so we can continue to grow and scale this site and other media properties together. My job as Executive Editor will be to oversee all content creation, and to accomplish that I’ll be building a team of editors and writers at Taylor Media headquarters in St. Petersburg, Florida, essentially running a small newsroom.

This type of sale is called an acqui-hirewhen a company buys another business purely for its talent and systems, and isn’t interested in its clients or product line. Typically this kind of agreement is aimed at bringing software developers in-house, but I bet we’ll start to see it happen more frequently with content marketers and bloggers, as these skills are increasingly in demand. (Our acquisition applies only to the blog-management arm of Socialexis, not its other web properties.)

Despite the growing thirst for content marketing, and despite watching other similar small businesses like Scribewise get acquired, I never expected another company to want to buy Socialexis, nor did I expect myself to be interested in such an opportunity. I bootstrapped and built this company as a lifestyle business, intentionally staying small, with six-to-10 core team members at any given time, plus a larger circle of several dozen freelance writers who write regularly for our sites.

While I have scaled the business over the last few years, narrowing our offerings and putting systems and people in place to deliver great work, I didn’t do that with an acquisition in mind, like many startups envision from the beginning. Rather than building a business with the intention of selling it, I grew a company that would fit into my life, with a focus on providing clients incredible value.

But here’s what I learned from this experience: If you do amazing work, other people will want to work with you, and maybe even acquire what you’ve built, regardless of whether you follow the often-cited “rules” of growing a salable business.

From the day we started working together, I’ve been so impressed with Taylor Media, especially the founder, Kyle Taylor”¦ but more on that in a moment. I know we’ll do big things now that we’re joining forces!

Why I agreed to sell the company

Now we get to the question I know you’re wondering about: Why would I accept such an offer? If I wasn’t building a company with an acquisition as an end goal, why would I agree to sell what I’ve created? If I love working for myself and building my own business, why would I go in-house at a startup?

The truth is, I did agonize over it. This business has been my baby for the last five years, giving me freedom, autonomy, and the chance to do work I really enjoy. My identity is tightly woven around running my own business, and I truly believe in the power of building an alternative career. I knew accepting this role would require shifting that mindset.

But in the end, Taylor Media made an offer that jived with my professional and personal goals, and showed just how much they valued our work. This taught me another valuable lesson, one I’ll take with me as I recruit more talent to build our newsroom: you can always make it worth their while. Someone might say they’re not interested in a new position or opportunity, but if you create the right combination of opportunity for growth, flexibility and financial incentives, you can appeal to top talent.

Here’s why I agreed to sell the company and go in-house to build a content team for Taylor Media.

Reason #1: It’ll be fun and challenging to grow this company

I’m psyched to be part of this startup from the early stages; I truly believe in the company, its mission and its founder. Taylor Media is already a profitable (and bootstrapped!) company, and in my mind, that early success is a sign of big things to come.

The founder shares my vision for what work should be like: enjoyable, challenging and rewarding. And I can’t wait to build my editorial dream team. We already have a running start, with several of the editors and writers I work with on a regular basis forming the backbone of the operation.

And yes, that means we’re hiring for positions based at our office in downtown St. Petersburg. If you think you might be a good fit, check out the job descriptions. On the editorial side, we’re looking for full-time editors and writers, as well as full- and part-time web and writing interns. You’d work directly with me.

Reason #2: This is a huge opportunity to learn

The mark of a good career is whether you continue to learn, and I know I’ll learn a lot helping to grow this company. My team and I are good at creating and optimizing content, but I’m eager to learn more about the business and monetization side of running websites.

That’s exactly what Taylor Media’s founder, Kyle Taylor, is good at. Since we started working together, I’ve watched his revenue and pageviews increase exponentially, all while doing business in a smart, ethical and sustainable way — it’s impressive! As an example, Taylor Media pays its bloggers better than most other clients we’ve worked with, including generous bonuses for high-performing posts.

(Journo tip: If you write for any business sites, Kyle would be an amazing profile or source. He has managed to fly under the radar until now, in part because his business has really only taken off in the last year or two. But we’re about to start hearing more about him and the company, starting with this story in Entrepreneur.)

Reason #3: It’s a chance to focus on one project

This career pivot isn’t the only big news I’m sharing on this blog for the first time: I’m also expecting a baby in September! With that major change ahead, and a little life I will want to spend time with, I think my brain will benefit from focusing on one or two professional projects, rather than juggling half a dozen clients. In other words, this offer came at the perfect time.

Joining this team is a chance for me to streamline, while still using my editorial skills, building something awesome and making good money. And that brings me to…

Reason #4: It puts money in the bank

I think it would do us all some good to talk more openly about money, and it wouldn’t be honest to leave this out as part of the big picture. Financially, this was a deal I couldn’t resist — and quite frankly, it had to be to get me on board, since I’m giving up much of the business I’ve been building for the last few years.

Money isn’t everything, and I wouldn’t have sold the company if that was the only incentive. But money can provide freedom and flexibility to pursue the lifestyle you want — so long as there’s room in your work life to pursue those dreams.

Critics of self-employment sometimes say it “makes you unemployable,” that no one will want to hire you after a long stint working for yourself (that is, if you ever want to go back to working for someone else). I’m so proud to prove those people wrong. Over the last few years, I’ve learned many skills, grown my network and built something from the ground up — milestones I likely never would have accomplished in a more traditional job. And that work has led me to this place, to this next step.

The big lesson? No matter how you’re earning a paycheck, never stop investing in yourself.

How an acqui-hire works

Never stop investing in yourself.

What this means for AlexisGrant.com and The Write Life

So what will happen to The Write Life and AlexisGrant.com?

This acquisition applies only to the blog-management arm of the company; it does not include my pet projects, so you’ll still be able to enjoy both The Write Life and this blog. My team for The Write Life has awesome systems in place, which means everything will continue to chug along. In fact, we have a plan to add more helpful information and resources to The Write Life in the coming months, so keep your eyes on that site if you’re a writer.

Between this opportunity and a new baby, I might blog less frequently at AlexisGrant.com going forward — I’m going to feel that out as I go along, and find a schedule that works both for me and my readers. But you can bet I’ll continue to share ideas and insights, even if I don’t show up in your inbox quite as often.

One of the things I’ll be practicing over the coming months as I learn to juggle a new job and a new baby is recognizing what’s “enough” for me. What’s enough work, what’s enough accomplishments, what’s enough money — and when it’s time to sit back a little and enjoy our family. Part of reconciling “enough” with my hustling mentality is acknowledging that I can’t do everything, knowing that’s OK, and feeling good about my priorities.

I’m excited about this new adventure, and I look forward to continuing to share lessons with you along the way.

Update: Here’s Taylor Media’s press release about the acquisition.

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{ 66 comments… read them below or add one }

Corina July 5, 2015 at 3:11 pm

Hi Alexis,

This wonderful news! Congratulations!
And congrats for the baby!
I´m sure you´ll find a way to juggle everything (baby and new business) and I can´t wait to hear from you.

Meanwhile, enjoy it!

All the best,
Corina
Corina recently posted…When Leadership FailsMy Profile

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 3:45 pm

Thanks, Corina!

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Susan P. Joyce July 5, 2015 at 3:55 pm

Congratulations, Alexis! That is wonderful news on two fronts — the business and the new baby!

Best wishes!
Susan
Susan P. Joyce recently posted…Career Lessons Learned from Two LayoffsMy Profile

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 4:09 pm

Thanks, Susan! I always enjoy watching your progress as well =)

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Jason Treu July 5, 2015 at 4:30 pm

Congrats, Alexis.
Fantastic news!!!
Jason

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 4:31 pm

Thanks, Jason!

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Daniel Rose July 5, 2015 at 5:11 pm

Hi Alexis,

Congratulations, both on the acquisition and the baby. Thanks for sharing, it sounds like a very exciting time for you. Change can be scary, but when these opportunities come along you have to grab them with both hands. The only downside? I’m not in Florida, so can’t apply to be part of the team 😉
All the best, and I look forward to hearing how it goes!
Daniel Rose recently posted…Why Your Story Needs More FightMy Profile

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, Daniel! Yes on grabbing opps with both hands!

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Ashley July 5, 2015 at 6:22 pm

This is all so exciting Alexis! Thanks so much for sharing more of the behind the scenes too 🙂 congrats on all of it!
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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

You’re welcome! Thanks for reading =)

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Danny Rubin July 5, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Congrats! What an exciting opportunity. And thanks for laying out your reasoning. Very insightful.

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 7:52 pm

Thanks, Danny! I’m hoping others can learn from it like I have.

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MaryBeth Matzek July 5, 2015 at 7:51 pm

Alexis, I’m very excited about both your announcements and wish you continued success with your business and the new baby!

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Appreciate it, MaryBeth! Keep writing for us =)

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Will Irish July 5, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Alexis, this is amazing! Congratulations!!! I’ve learned so much through your seemingly fearless navigation into the “next phase”, it would be impossible to thank you in a post. Congrats! Looking forward to hearing how this blossoms.

Cheers!

Will

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 8:05 pm

Thanks, Will! I’ve loved watching you grow, too… And still lots of great things to come =)

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Christine Wenzel July 5, 2015 at 7:59 pm

Alexis, I am very, very happy for you. I have watched your business grow, benefited from all you share and loved being at the receiving end of your expertise. You have a wonderful way of bringing your readers into your world. And huge congratulations ¡Felicidades! with your new baby. You have had many exciting changes the last few years, wasn’t it just yesterday you came back from your honeymoon? Get used to time really flying now that you are a mother. Blink and you’ll have a college grad. At least that’s what happened with me 🙂 Keep embracing all your new challenges. So happy you will be continuing with The Write Life

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 8:04 pm

Thanks, Christine! I love hearing from people like you who have followed the journey and hopefully benefited from my mistakes in some way =) And for sure, continuing with TWL! Cheers!

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Paula Burke July 5, 2015 at 8:18 pm

Hi Alexis,
Congratulations on your next endeavors. I do not mean to be a clique but success is a journey. I have enjoyed your work and appreciate your insight and knowledge. I am sure you will be successful moving forward.
Paula

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 8:28 pm

Thanks, Paula!

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Jovell Alingod July 5, 2015 at 9:00 pm

Congrats on the new baby! But I’ll definitely miss you in my inbox.

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 9:03 pm

I’ll still be in your inbox… don’t you worry =)

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Lindsey July 5, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Lexi, congratulations! I’m so happy for you! Truly great news on both fronts.

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Thanks, Lindsey!

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Dwight Silverman July 5, 2015 at 9:15 pm

Congrats, Alexa!

I just wish you had been this excited about digital media when you worked for us.

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 9:18 pm

Me too! But all those writing/reporting skills I learned while working for the Chron still tie in nicely.

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Jenelle July 5, 2015 at 10:25 pm

Amazing news Alexis! Wishing you continued success and all the joy a new little life can provide. Our soon to be 5 yr old put me on the self-employment career track. Looking forward to good things. -Jenelle

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Alexis Grant July 5, 2015 at 10:33 pm

Thanks, Jenelle!

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Nathalie Bagadey July 6, 2015 at 12:55 am

Hi Alexis!
Well, your life sure has changed and will change even more in the next few months! Congratulations on these achievements! 🙂
And, as usual, we all benefit from your experience thanks to your post. Well done ! Thanks a lot !

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Alexis Grant July 7, 2015 at 1:32 pm

Thanks, Nathalie!

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Leah July 6, 2015 at 4:06 am

Congrats, Alexis! As always, I so appreciate your transparency and how generously and frankly you share the evolution of your businesses and the lessons you discover along the way. It’s very inspiring to me as I continue to build my own business. All the best on your new ventures!

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 9:49 am

Great to hear that, Leah — Thanks! Keep chugging =)

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www.bydianedaniel.com July 6, 2015 at 7:13 am

I’ve enjoyed following your site and will appreciate occasional future posts. Congrats on both new jobs. 😉 And also on moving to St. Pete, a city I know and love.

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 9:49 am

Thanks, Diane! I’m actually not moving to St. Pete, but will be traveling there frequently… Have heard it’s BEAUTIFUL. And who doesn’t love a low cost of living, too? Looking forward to some beach!

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Alex Sheehan July 6, 2015 at 8:39 am

This is so exciting! Congratulations! It’s been really interesting following you from the beginning and seeing how much your business has flourished.

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Alexis Grant July 7, 2015 at 1:33 pm

Thanks, Alex! It’s always nice to see familiar names in the comments =)

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Charlotte Edwards July 6, 2015 at 9:21 am

Such wonderful news; very happy for you! And as a fellow mommy, can’t wait to see a picture of the baby once she/he arrives. It’s a lot of work, but worth every late night feeding and messy outfit change. 🙂 All the best to you and your family!

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 9:48 am

Thanks, Charlotte! It’s writers like you who have helped us make this happen! Keep up the great work.

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Lisa July 6, 2015 at 9:41 am

Congratulations, Alexis! I have followed you here and on The Write Life, and your willingness to share openly and specifically has kept me inspired in my own work. I am so happy for your acqui-hire and know you and your team will be a huge success! And a baby!! “Make your own luck in your career and life.” I’d say these two events illustrate that perfectly!

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 9:47 am

Thanks for following along so loyally, Lisa!

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Annie Daylon July 6, 2015 at 12:11 pm

Congratulations, Alexis. Thrilled to hear your great news. All the best in the world of business and baby!

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Thanks, Annie! I know you’ve been reading for YEARS — I remember you commenting back on my writing blog in 2009!

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Sarah July 6, 2015 at 12:19 pm

Hi Alexis!!

It sounds like two congratulations are in order!!! 🙂 Congratulations on both the job and the baby!! So exciting!!!!

I am in a very similar situation, actually! I have been freelancing for 3 years and SWORE I would never go back to an office job. Well, two weeks ago I was offered a position I literally could not refuse. It’s still writing and editing, I get to work from home two days per week, it’s salaried, I get to collaborate with others instead of always working by myself, etc. The benefits are just incredible and as much as I thought I’d never go back to regular employment, I am just so excited for this opportunity!! I also have two little girls and feel it will be SO nice to only have “one” client (my job!). I personally think you are making a wonderful decision!!! Congratulations!!! 🙂
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Alexis Grant July 7, 2015 at 1:34 pm

Congrats to YOU, Sarah! It’s all about the arrangement and the timing, right? You’ll have to let me know how the full-time position goes!

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Eugene July 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

Hi Alexis,

Congratulations for this wonderful news. I feel inspired. Every time I read something you have written, I am forced to take notes.
Many thanks.

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 4:58 pm

Glad to hear it’s helpful, Eugene! Thanks!

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Amanda Palleschi July 6, 2015 at 2:32 pm

So many congrats, Alexis! We’ll miss you and your entrepreneurial spirit & experience in DC!

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm

Thanks, Amanda! I’ll be staying in DC though, so don’t miss me too much… =)

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Carol Zuegner July 6, 2015 at 5:04 pm

Alexis,
Congrats on everything — what an exciting time for you. It has been fun to watch you grow and develop all of these businesses. I learn so much (as do my students). I will continue to be a big fan and I’m eager to see where everything goes!

Carol Z

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Alexis Grant July 6, 2015 at 5:12 pm

Thanks, Carol! Great to hear from you!

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Suzan July 6, 2015 at 11:04 pm

Congratulations 2x. I wish you the best. I’m located in Orlando so if you get a chance to stop by I’d love to grab lunch or coffee.

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Alexis Grant July 7, 2015 at 8:26 am

Sounds great! I’d love to organize a bloggers meetup in Tampa / St. Pete at some point.

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Bonnie July 9, 2015 at 9:52 pm

Hello Alexis!

Congratulations!

So happy for you!

I’ve always enjoyed reading your blog.

Thank you for your openness to share – I learned a lot from your experience.

Cheers,
Bonnie

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Alexis Grant July 10, 2015 at 3:21 pm

Thanks, Bonnie!

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Dan Blank July 10, 2015 at 7:48 am

Congratulations Alexis! And THANK YOU for delving into the decision-making process. Clearly, this was a complex — but wonderful — situation that many others can learn from.
-Dan

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Alexis Grant July 10, 2015 at 3:20 pm

You’re very welcome, Dan! And great to connect via email as well.

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Chris July 10, 2015 at 2:44 pm

Alexis, in these types of acquisitions does the owner typically get a lump sum payment for the business and also get hired on as an employee? Congrats!

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Alexis Grant July 10, 2015 at 3:20 pm

Hi Chris — Brought on as an employee, yes, since that’s the entire point of an acqui-hire: getting the CEO(s) + at least part of the team. But the compensation structure varies, sometimes it’s a lump payment, often it’s paid out over time (to encourage the CEO to stay with the new company long term)… for privately owned companies, the compensation structure often isn’t revealed.

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Matija Zajšek July 13, 2015 at 7:43 am

Hmmm…. let me first congratulate you… if that was a purpose – then even better. Goal achieved:)
I’ve read your post entirely because I think about it (if someone is ever going to buy my small blogs here in Slovenia :)) and didn’t noticed how long how you managed to work on your site. Or is it now even relevant how much time does it have to go through, when one blog becomes interesting? Regards, Matija

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Melissa Shaw July 21, 2015 at 7:56 am

That’s fantastic news, Alexis. Congratulations!

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Alexis Grant July 21, 2015 at 3:36 pm

Thanks, Melissa!

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Chivon July 28, 2015 at 9:44 pm

This is wonderful news Alexis and very inspiring. Congratulations!
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Michelle August 12, 2015 at 8:30 pm

This is awesome. Congrats!
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wendy mccance August 27, 2015 at 8:38 pm

Congrats!! What exciting news. I was unaware in this industry that comapnies were even doing that. It will be interesting to see how this new development plays out for you.

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Joan September 11, 2015 at 1:22 pm

How exciting – I wondered what Taylor Media was, when I viewed your LI profile. Congrats! And congrats on your life changes as well (marriage and baby) – those are very fulfilling in their own right. Looking forward to your upcoming posts about career and life!

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Steve Reed September 17, 2015 at 11:29 am

Hey Alexis

As said by everyone else, congrats on the business deal, and on the addition to the family.

I also want to thank you for all the great advice you have provided, both on podcasts, and through your ebooks, it finally gave me the kick up the ass I needed to start my content media design and editing company. I used your social media business book as a guide, and transposed that into a business area that I love.

I’ve got clients already, so thanks

Steve

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