This Pennsylvania farmer sharpened her online presence and created a slick, modern farm website.
Some people grow up on a farm, so it’s natural they farm as adults. Not Jackie Cleary, who took a rather long and winding road to the farm.
“Yep, it was a long, convoluted way, through food and animal welfare interests,” Jackie says. “It seemed a bit random, as I was working on real estate at the time, but I was raised showing and training horses, and worked in the horse industry for years before my real estate career, so I was used to the work and large animals, and really missed them.”
Farming is hard enough as a family, but Jackie goes it alone in Pennsylvania. It didn’t start that way, though.
“My husband and I divorced early into it, and I had to buy him out to keep the farm. That was a real blow that frankly I have not bounced back from,” Jackie said.
Today, Jackie farms grass-fed Devon beef and pastured pork on Auburn Meadow Farm. But she never intended to enter farming as a solo act, and the sudden divorce created enormous challenges. But Jackie fought to keep the farm going and get it profitable. But to do that she had to get customers, and that meant she had to master marketing.
“Because of my background in sales and marketing, I was successful at selling my beef the very first year it was available.” Jackie said. “I spent a lot of time on my website and blog and teaching about food, and engaging with other bloggers, chefs, and policy makers. But, the systems are continually changing, and I had stopped changing with them.”
Jackie found that she loved writing, photography and storytelling and sharing that via her blog. But she didn’t love technology and found the ever-changing tools and applications time-consuming to keep up with.
“I started to drift away from what had been working for me,” Jackie added. “But Small Farm Nation Academy helped me refocus, sharpen up my online presence, and get back on track with a more modern site that is more secure in my ownership of my platform.”
Jackie launched a modern, responsive farm website with an online store with the help of Small Farm Nation. Now she’s back to blogging and photo-journaling her farm life. That’s good news because it not only allows her to connect with customers, but blogging is a great tool for search engine optimization. But her long and winding journey since starting the farm hasn’t been all roses.
“Well, to be honest, I am more cautionary tale than a success story,” Jackie says. “Though at first, it seemed to come easily for me. Over attempting to try to speed things up after my divorce was an expensive mistake. I would say pace yourself, not chasing after requests from customers without financial commitment upfront, and healthy, positive relationships with anyone your farm business depends upon, like a spouse, family, landlord or investor. It is much better to start slow and build on a solid foundation than to rush and ignore red flags.”
Jackie says that joining Small Farm Nation helped her to accomplish something that was difficult for her as a farmer, and something she really needed.
“It forced me to focus, Jackie said, on joining the Academy. “I tend to over complicate things with all the things that shouldn’t be on the menu. Tim’s video library of courses reminds me to stay focused, keep it simple, and remember I am running a business, rather than a hobby.”
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