Today’s non-clinical spotlight focuses on Chanda Jothen, PT, DPT, who went from physical therapist to founder of Pink Oatmeal, the successful pediatric movement website. I must also add, Chanda has been an incredible mentor to me throughout my evolution as a blogger and entrepreneur. Her insight is pure gold, so read carefully!
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What is your full name and title?
Chanda Jothen, PT, DPT
Owner/Founder of Pink Oatmeal
Where did you go to PT school, and what year did you graduate?
What did you do when you first graduated, and for how long?
I started off in orthopedics and sports. The entire time I was in school and on my internships, I was certain I’d spend the duration of my career in that setting.
I’d played three sports in high school and was a kinesiology major, so ortho and sports seemed like the perfect fit. I worked in that setting for two years before realizing that setting wasn’t for me.
What did you do next, and for how long? Why did you make the switch?
After spending two years in the sports and ortho setting, I decided to make the move to the school setting.
Although pediatrics had never been on my radar initially, I really liked the idea of getting to work in a school environment instead of a clinic. I also liked the idea of getting to consult and collaborate with teachers and staff.
At what point did you start thinking about Pink Oatmeal?
I started Pink Oatmeal when I was on maternity leave and taking a baby class with my first child. There were a lot of questions from other participants in the class about gross motor development that I could answer, given my profession.
The instructors would often refer to me for the answer. I decided to start a website from there.
What were your ideas for it at the beginning, and how did they change over time?
Initially when starting my website, I thought that I would include baby development stuff thrown in with recipes (I hate cooking by the way), and home stuff.
I thought maybe I could be like the next Joanna Gaines, or Rachel Ray. Turns out, I am neither of those—not even close.
I found that writing about what I know was the easiest, and also seemed to get the most page views.
It was all hobby at first. It started to evolve into more of a gross motor and developmental website as I found that people seemed to come to my website the most for those kind of posts. Initially, it started out as all baby stuff, since I was home on a long maternity leave and I had a baby.
As my maternity leave was ending and I started to get ready to return back to school, my mom (a teacher) had suggested that I look on a website called Teachers Pay Teachers to see if I could find some different resources I had been looking for.
I found very few things in regards to movement activities or resources that would be useful for a school-based physical therapist.
That is when the light bulb moment happened and I knew I could be the person who could create these resources for teachers and other therapists, given my background.
How did you come up with the name?
Pink Oatmeal came from the all hobby aspect of the blog.
I honestly had no plan when I started my website. I started combining words. I like the color pink and I like oatmeal. The domain wasn’t taken! That’s literally how it came up!
I’ve spoken with branding experts as my site has grown (wondering if I should change the name to be more directly in reference to what I provide). They’ve always advised me to stick with my name because I have built so much trust….so, Pink Oatmeal it is!
What does your website do? Who do you target, and what services do you provide?
My website provides ideas for the following:
- Gross motor and fine motor skills
- Physical activity
- Child development
I create printables for teachers, parents, daycare providers, therapists, and really anyone who works with children and wants to promote physical activity. I provide both free and paid printables.
I also have a few small courses for school-based therapists, as well as an All-Access Membership option which gives members access to all printable resources on top of bonus videos and motor planning ideas.
How did you initially monetize the site?
I initially monetized by some basic ads, affiliate work, and sponsorships.
Did anything change over time for monetizing, or do you use the same strategy now?
I definitely evolved. I moved to selling printables on Teachers Pay Teachers, and finally opened up my own shop on my store, which is more revenue-generating than Teachers Pay Teachers. I also have an All-Access Membership option, which is my largest ticket item, and grants access to all my resources. I have a few small courses for school based therapists that sell as well.
My main sources of revenue are my printables and my membership. I still run ads on part of my website to help cover costs, and I do some affiliate work, but I no longer do sponsorships.
How do you drive customers to the site?
The main three drivers of traffic to my site are:
What’s your take on social media?
I have a decent Facebook and Instagram following as well, but I don’t depend on them to drive traffic. I think of them as a billboard for my brand to be noticed, but not a significant way to get customers to my website—nor a significant revenue generator.
What were some of the biggest challenges along the way?
Coming from a background of zero marketing or website knowledge, I had to learn it all from square one. The thing was, even though I was starting from ground zero, I found it so interesting and fun that it didn’t seem like work at all.
As my site has grown, I’ve also had to learn to ask for help by hiring others to do work for me.
Letting go of being in full control was probably my biggest challenge, but it was a great decision!
What have been some of the biggest rewards?
I love knowing that I’ve created resources that reach so many kids that promote physical activity and motor development! I love that I can make it easier for therapists, teachers, and parents to incorporate fun ways to get kids moving!
A huge reward has also been the control and flexibility over my own schedule.
Do you currently treat patients? If not, at what point did you step away from patient care, and why?
No, I had my third child in August 2017 and didn’t return back to the school system. At this point, it was the best option for my business and my family. I have a ton of flexibility being my own boss.
Do you have any books, podcasts, or other resources you’d recommend to aspiring entrepreneurs?
I honestly don’t read or listen to a ton of podcasts at this point. My life is quite busy with three young kids, so as much as I’d like to, it doesn’t always happen.
BUT if I could pick one podcast to listen to, I’d pick Building A Storybrand by Donald Miller. I would say it really helped me focus on my mission and how I can serve.
It’s also been very important for me to find a community of like-minded individuals to collaborate with.
What is next for you? Do you have big plans with Pink Oatmeal or anything else?
I’m totally type B, so planning isn’t always my thing. I like to fly by the seat of my pants!
When it comes to Pink Oatmeal, the thing that is clear to me is to stick to my mission of serving others by providing resources that incorporate making movement and motor skills fun.
I plan to continue to grow and evolve Pink Oatmeal with that mission in mind.
I’m also excited to be teaming up with Meredith Castin in creating Therapy Blogging 101.
I often get asked how I got started with blogging (or, more importantly, how I was able to make blogging my livelihood!). With the website and course I created with Meredith, we are teaching others how they can do what we did! I’m looking forward to serving other therapists and watching them grow in the online/blogging world!
We have a ton of knowledge from doing what we’ve done—and, with a little creativity, you may find yourself doing something similar with your own unique skills and experience!
I hope to be able to inspire other therapists to take a risk and try something different outside of the traditional role of physical therapy.
Do you have any advice or recommendations for someone building their own online business or blog?
Take risks, life is short.
Also, build your email list as soon as possible. For all the glitz and glamour of social media, your true fans are on your email list, and that’s where you’ll be able to monetize.
Don’t get sucked into spending all your time on social media!
Thanks for your insight, Chanda!