How Online Authority Gave a Tiny Local Business Worldwide Reach

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Editor’s note: This essay is the First Prize winner of the Copyblogger Media Essay contest, for which writers had 250 words to discuss “why it’s essential to be an online authority.”

I was stuck — elbows deep in fabric with nothing but a torn pattern book and lingering words of cryptic quilting wisdom from my late great-aunt.

It was T-minus two hours until the baby shower and I was on the verge of showing up empty-handed.

My rescuer was Jenny Doan of Hamilton, Missouri (pop. 1,809).

Her quilt shop is a mere 1,200 miles from Upstate New York, where I sat that day with my laptop, being walked step-by-step through finishing my first quilt.

Small town, big audience

In 2008, Jenny’s kids bought her a quilting machine and showed her how to blog. Missouri Star Quilt Company was born.

At first, the shop wasn’t much different from the quilt shops you find in any small town, including the cute little shop five miles from me.

Today, Missouri Star Quilt Company has over 120,000 subscribers to Jenny’s online quilting tutorials. That’s everyone in her town … times 67.

Subscribers, thousands every day, thank her by buying fabric from her online shop.

Happy ending, right?

For me. For Jenny. But not for Judy.

Judy owns that cute shop in Upstate New York.

Judy is smart, has a great selection, and has an amazing eye for quilting. I asked her one day about putting her newsletter online. She replied that most of her customers don’t have computers.

She’s probably right.

The customers with computers, like me, are driving past her shop on their way home, where they order the same fabric from Jenny — 1,200 miles away.

As the First Prize winner, Abbey received received a lifetime membership to Authority. Previously, Grand Prize winner Anthony Sills received a ticket to Authority Intensive, the content marketing experience we are hosting this May. You can read Anthony’s winning essay here.

And if you want more insight on how we whittled 270+ essays down to five winners, watch the Essay Contest Wrap-Up Hangout with Demian and Jerod. We highlight the specific elements of the winning essays that separated them from the pack.

About the Author: Abbey Dieteman has been writing since 7th grade when she wrote a 30-page novella in an attempt to win a boy’s heart (it didn’t work). Today, she is a copywriter and co-founder of Dieteman Technology Consulting. She can be found on twitter at @dietemantech.

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