It’s always inspiring when a company’s focus is to shape the leaders of tomorrow.
Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. does just that. It’s an organization that has been shaping the lives of young girls since 1912.
And after Jodi Carlson’s mother signed her up as a Brownie at a young age, the experience stayed with her and impacted her for life. Jodi became a Girl Scout leader as an adult, which gave her a ton of experience planning meetings and creating activities for troops.
Enter Leader Connecting Leaders, Jodi’s blog. She first started it after her son was born as a way to share activities and resources with Girl Scout troop leaders.
But after she sold her first badge activity booklet on the blog, she realized she could create products that troops very much needed, and her blog soon became a go-to resource for Girl Scout leaders everywhere.
Allow me to introduce Founder, Jodi Carlson…
A little about me: I am a mother of two beautiful children, a wife, and a product owner at a large insurance company by day. By night, I am living my dream, sharing all my years of Girl Scout experience with new and long-time Girl Scout volunteers.
Back in 2014, I decided to start a blog called Leader Connecting Leaders to start sharing what I did as a troop with other leaders. I never thought it would grow to be as big as it is today.
I love the fact that I get to be part of inspiring our girls of tomorrow, even if I have never met them. My goal for my business is to help Girl Scout Leaders inspire younger girls of today to be our leaders of tomorrow.
I was a leader of a Girl Scout troop and a girl in scouting for a total of 25 years. Those years of scouting are what led to the creation of the Leader Connecting Leaders blog and then later, shop.
In 2015, I was blessed with my son and stepped down as a Girl Scout leader but missed planning and organizing meetings. So shortly thereafter, the Leader Connecting Leaders blog was born. From there I made my first badge activity booklet and posted it for sale online. Once I realized it was something that was needed, I continued to add more resources year after year.
I have always described my Girl Scout experience as something that really shaped my life, and the people I met and spent years with became family, many to this day I still connect with.
Quick back story about my experience: I was in troop number 80671. The troop got started in Conneaut, Ohio. My mom signed the right papers and paid the fee for me to become a Brownie. That was 34 years ago, wow!
So one night after my troop meeting, I came home and said, if someone doesn’t come and help be a co-leader in the troop, the troop will not be able to continue. So my mom became a co-leader and was informed by the leader that all her co-leaders quit on her.
The funny part is, after the first year, that leader also quit, and that is when my mom became the leader of the troop.
At this point, she moved the meetings to her house and started recruiting family to be leaders. First my cousins, then my aunts. They turned the whole basement into a forest for our meetings. It was pretty cool, we had tree stumps for chairs and a fake campfire.
In the beginning, we only had about 10 girls and met every other Saturday. Time went by, and the troop continued to grow. Soon, it was a mom-and-daughter program where my mom would continue to recruit more co-leaders to help with things. This just meant we never said no to another girl joining.
Year after year, the troop grew. At the largest, we had 76 girls in the troop, ranging from kindergarten to twelfth grade, with 21 certified leaders who came and ran different age group activities.
We became our own community. We had to be organized and put together programs ahead of time to run all these different groups. That is what my blog and products do for you as a leader: make the planning super easy.
When I first decided to put together a printable booklet to sell, it was just me taking the program I put together and used with my troop, packaged up into a PDF, and posting it on a third-party site called teacherpayteacher.com.
There was no styling, no branding—nothing but a 12-page “follow these steps” program. It took off in less than a week. I was getting emails from leaders all around the USA asking for more like it. I went to school for design, and I am very picky about style and patterns, so the fact that people liked a document that didn’t have any of that made me think about what would happen if I did brand this.
What if I did put more effort into the design, while still making it easy to print and not waste ink? So that’s what I started doing. From there, each program gets better and better.
I didn’t really launch a company right away. It was more like I bought a domain, put some words on the page, got interest from some clicks, and then kept building it.
It changed over time. I think it was two years before I actually applied for an LLC, and it was another year after that before I realized I was an actual business. So it wasn’t a normal path of thinking, yes, I will start this business and sell things.
This is a very unique niche of readers. I have found that providing free resources and printables goes a long way. Plus these readers are volunteers, so they are often using their own money to buy resources. So I offer a lot of coupons to help with expenses.
I share a lot on Pinterest because that’s where these readers are. I don’t waste money on advertising. Providing useful and helpful information and ideas leaders can take and use right away will bring them in and many will come back again and again looking for more ideas.
Over the time I have been working on this blog, I have listened to Blogging Millionaire, Side Hustle Nation, and Side Hustle School.
I have found a few people through those podcasts to collaborate with on some projects for leaders. As for books, I am not a big reader, but I do follow a few people’s blogs, and Making Sense of Cents is one that I have found a lot of inspiration from. Even though it’s a completely different niche, she has shared some amazing tips and even things she has done that I have made work in my niche, and even better, she shared my story on her blog a while back.
As of today my blog and income have been slowly increasing back to pre-Covid progress. When Covid hit my traffic, my income tanked. As you can imagine, everyone stopped meeting. I started making content for virtual meetings to make up for it, but many troops disbanded.
Girl Scouts as an organization lost 40% of their members. When they hurt, so do I. So even three years later, Girl Scouts is recovering and Leader Connecting Leaders is also slowly but surely growing again.
As for the future, this is not my primary job, it is my hobby that turned into a side hustle. I had dreams of making it my full-time job before Covid, and I was probably two years away from doing that, but what Covid taught me was, don’t put all your chickens in one basket.
So I will continue to grow the blog by simply providing excellent content, sharing that content, and building that audience back up again.
Make sure you are doing something you love, not just something that will make you money. If you’re doing it for the love of doing it, you are going to forget that you are up at 1 am writing a blog because you are enjoying every minute of it.
If it’s boring or not something that holds your interest, it becomes a “Job”. And we all know how we feel when we have to go to our job every day.