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How to Sell Toilet Paper and Learning to say No

By 07/24/2014January 28th, 201729 Comments

Hell Yeah!

So I’m here at BlogHer’14 in San Jose with my good friend Barbara Miller from Yes Spaces.

We had registered for the conference months ago but I am so bad because I usually only read what I absolutely have to read. So I don’t check out the conference agenda until the night before my flight and I realize that if I don’t register for their Pathfinder Day, I’m a whole day early!!

Eeeeeek, I call Barbara to give her the news, and she says, ‘We are a couple dingalings’ (I like that word).

So we quickly register for ‘The Path to Media Company.’

It seems like a fit because my mission is to become the Martha Stewart of colour and Barbara wants to rule the world of Kids Spaces. In addition to that, my site desperately needs a re-design and I’m trying to figure out what kind of branding photos to take.

Also, I think my website is confusing because I sell products and services to design professionals and enthusiasts so I think it needs to be way more clean and simple.

Someone a couple weeks ago said “Why don’t you get photographed standing in a cornfield? Embrace the fact that you now live in the middle of cornfields, in the country?!”

Hmmm. . . I never thought I should embrace this fact. However, then I asked my business coach her opinion and she said:


So, I’m back to the drawing board.

My takeaway from today is that honestly, my business model is working really well for me. So many bloggers had all kinds of questions and horror stories about getting into bad partnerships in the beginning when they’d do anything for extra money, doing stuff for brands for free or almost free.

Then a panelist says “If you agree to do something that isn’t good for your brand and/or you’re not making enough money, you’ll be working on it at 3:00 am and at the same time banging your head against the wall.”

Listening to all these stories, I felt like I’d dodged a bullet because I get countless emails every day from publicists, and brands, but if there isn’t enough money attached to what someone’s offering I’ll automatically say,


It has to be something I believe in and something I think you’d love too!

And since running a blog with a system that I’ve created is constantly stretching me and everyone else’s creativity around me and you frequently get stopped because you either don’t understand the technology or how to market something the right way and the list goes on.

Terreeia will say things like, “We need to find someone that can fill-in-the-blank-here.”

And I’ll often say, ‘Where is that magical person? It’s been almost 6 years and we haven’t found that person yet?’


Anyway, one of the panelists said the same thing today (about finding that magical person) and right away I texted Terreeia.

‘Guess who that magical person is, honey?? It’s ME and it’s YOU!’

Even the webinars that I do, if Terreeia (who is also my manager and agent — actually her list of jobs is quite long in addition to her own business) couldn’t handle the three platforms that it takes to pull off the technology to make it happen, well my business model would look different than it does.

The bloggers who make real money in this business usually have a husband, wife or someone really close that handles some part of the technology, because if you’re paying someone to do it for you, well they have a life, right?

And usually business hours.

They won’t want to handle your business Friday night at 9:00 pm or Sunday morning at 6:00 am.


Maria Killam & Barbara Miller

Anyway, Barbara and I walked all around the Expo tonight with our champagne glasses and this is the booth we stopped at for a photo that actually turned out.

So guess what? It made it into my blog tonight.

So smart. By the way, I’m not getting paid to write about them ; ) ; )

toilet paper

Barbara even did an interview in a booth where they filmed her answering questions like:

1. What’s the most important quality in toilet paper? Would you choose soft or strong?

2. Do you have any nicknames for the bathroom?

3. Do you have a public restroom horror story?

4. Do you have any potty training horror stories?

Over to you my lovelies? Let’s hear some of your answers for some pure entertainment, hee, hee. I’ll have more to report when the actual conference starts! xoxo Maria

PS. Here are my answers:

1. Strong – nothing makes me crazier than public washrooms with paper so thin you have to keep pulling! Soft is very important for your nose!

2. No. But now I think I should name ours.

3. Not really, but when we were kids my Mom would carry around a can of Lysol in her purse and spray the seat in a public washroom for all us 4 girls before she’d let us go.

4. No. Sadly, I’m not a mom.

Related posts:

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  • KA says:

    I like your website layout and design.

    With the public restroom horror stories, I wasn’t there, but my drunk college roommates were involved, while I was in San Francisco, celebrating graduation with my family. Luckily I missed it, but it’s a great funny story to tell in retrospect. Has to be told in person because of the physicality of the humor. That roommate takes improvisation classes now, 25 years later.

  • Lesli DeVito says:

    I would say that you are doing “just fine” and you most certainly keep your priorities straight. You are a joy to read…I feel like you are talking to ME and while I know that you are a life long learner…if it ain’t broke…don;t fix it! xoxox have fun in San Jose!

  • Lisa Lato says:

    Maria, I think you are already the Martha Stewart of colour! 🙂

  • LenaM says:

    Sorry Maria,
    Angel Soft = Georgia Pacific = Koch Brothers. Look into the damage they are doing in the US before you take their dirty money.

    • Maria Killam says:

      No money, just a cocktail and a silly picture.

    • Becky says:

      Yes but they got free advertising out of you – a big ops on your part. Shame on you. If you have nothing to say – say nothing.

    • LenaM says:

      As a Canadian you may not be aware of the minefields in US politics, but that Angel Soft booth lead you straight into a spray of bullets. A silly picture for you reads as product placement support for the despotic billionaire Koch Brothers in the US. Business wise, this distracts from your helpful color advice for no possible benefit and is a huge N.O. that can only lose you potential clients.

      • Maria Killam says:

        Thanks Lenam, this is not a brand sold in Canada so I had no idea, I have removed any links associated with them.

  • mrsben says:

    Re your website I must agree with Lesli, “if it ain’t broke … don’t fix it!” (Coca Cola would agree … ☺) Personally I like it, as many are a maze of navigational steps which is enough to give you a migraine even though you don’t suffer from them plus it is easy to print off in a larger font. Also placing the side bar on the right like you have done saves on ink. Regarding content, I am not an expert on blogging so perhaps that should be left up to the experts but will suggest; just like clothing you should be comfortable in what you choose.

    As for the questions and answers exercise here is my input:
    #1 Soft toilet paper is my choice as you can always layer it for strength.
    #2 For nicknames of a bathroom I may use John or Loo. (Latter which sounds like Lou, being nicknames for Louise or Louis.)
    #3 Not so much of a horror story but more embarrassing if urgency had not been the priority. Eight months ‘very’ pregnant at a Black Tie Function, just prior to intermission Mother Nature calls. A quick dash into the closest washroom and two gentleman using urinals and one washing his hands, me stopping dead in my tracks realizing I am in the Men’s Washroom. A smile from all of them and a nod towards a private cubicle. Ahhhhh , relief and no accident. Upon exit a long line of men waiting and directly across from it an even loooooonger line of women waiting to use the facilities. It would have been interesting to read all their thoughts … ha.
    #4 If discovering your two and half year daughter standing and straddling a toilet seat is a horror potty training story then I suppose it could be considered one. She just thought that since her fourteen month older brother could stand up to urinate; she could too. Fortunately no injuries were sustained during the experiment. -Brenda-

    • KA says:

      Ha! That reminds me of my own story that took place at the Jurassic Park event I went to at Universal Studios where, after the movie, a SUUUPER long line, me being last and a pregnant woman ahead of me…we gave up and used the Men’s room. My date came to see what was taking so long. His face was classic when we came out of the wrong door!

  • Eileen says:

    I think you have a valid concern for the need to address the divide between your professional audience and the amateur enthusiast. Trying to be all things to all people inevitably shortchanges you and them. Good luck with that conundrum moving forward.

  • Love that you are always moving forward, improving and making your business better and better. As far as I’m concerned, you rock!

  • Angela Taylor says:

    I think you are doing just great with your blog, and see no need for change. Your approach is relatable to everyone, whether they are a novice or a pro.
    I name my personal bathroom ‘The Throne Room’, and if you saw it you would know why. I have a photo of my husband and I dressed up as Prince Phillip and HRH Queen Elizabeth (we attended a costume wedding) hanging on the wall. There is a canvas painting of a crown above the toilet and it goes on with ‘Royal’ trinkets on a table. Yes, I am a fun gal and don’t take life too seriously:) Any suggestions for the walls? I was thinking some kind of stenciling in there:)

  • Jill says:

    Maria, you are better than Martha Stewart, I have learnt so much from you and enjoy you blogs so much. You always make my day!

  • Patricia Kramer says:

    Hi Maria, A couple months ago, one of my daughter’s girlfriends was over, she had just broken up with her boyfriend and needed a shoulder to cry on. As she was sniffing and hiccuping away, she suddenly turned to my daughter and wailed that not only had she broken up with her boyfriend, but her MOM only purchased 2 ply inexpensive toilet paper, and she really liked the GOOD SOFT stuff that we had at home! My daughter had to come to me and say thank you after that, just for that extra care I took with my purchases! (LOL)

  • Ange says:

    From this dingaling…I Love your blog. So glad I found you on a Pinterest board. I still want to have a consultation….One of these days I will.

  • Elaine says:

    So glad you rejected the corn field idea! I love your blog, and always wonder how you you can post so frequently. Maybe slowing down to once a week would reduce the wear and tear on your Magic Team. Kudos to you for creating a loyal following with your warm personal approach and brilliant style!

  • Chere says:

    Hmmm…. I like TP strong and soft . My
    Story is , when my partners daughter was still
    Living at home and and a great teenager came out
    Of the bathroom one day saying “Dad bought toilet
    Paper that’s rough or did one of you get the tissue out of show boxes ?! Which I found pretty funny and actually it was me who bought the shoebox toilet paper !
    I also like your blog as is … It promotes learning
    And exchange on more than one level… When faced with being that MAGiCAL person I will wear my Mickey Mouse eared wizard hatted hat band just so I can keep myself convinced ! Thanks Martha -Maria, you do a fabulous job doing magical things !

  • I’m also re-doing my website and of course the thing that drives all websites is good layout and most of all GREAT pictures.

    I always said if I weren’t an honest person I would sell “holy blessed toilet paper”. I could upcharge to bless the TP and then people would always have to be buying more so I’d make a killing!

  • tara dillard says:

    Do not aim for Martha Stewart of color. Too small. You’ll go further.

    I go slow, still keeping the initial google ads but say ‘no’ to all others for now.

    Said ‘no’ to a kind request today to advertise with a real estate fund raiser. Yes, it would be good exposure. Alas, I must keep quality high and am exposed enough at present while background topics are mission statemented then acted upon.

    It’s amazing to ask those giving me unasked for blog advice, “Do you know how I make money from my blog?” None have had an answer. I know you know how. I’m getting hired long distance all across USA ! Designs & lectures.

    Anyway, slowly growing my blog, thru your advice, the proper way. And loving all the work it brings.

    Must find that magical person….

    Thanks for all you do. I believe you are a major part of why my success, now, is at this level. Having to go slow………to handle more success.

    Still giving your name to anyone asking me how to blog.

    And that magical help you get from Terreeia, I figured that out long ago when we met at that dinner in Atlanta. She is AWESOME.

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

  • Carol J says:

    I really like the design of your website and the photo of you on top is very nice. With the photo, though, I wish you were wearing a more dynamic color/colour (red, vivid blue, etc.) instead of white, because white next to your face does not do you justice.

  • Kim says:

    Re the Lenam comments – sorry, please keep the political comments out of this blog unless you want to host robust debate on things unrelated to design. Many informed people feel the Koch brothers are patriotic not demonic. Name calling isn’t appropriate.

  • sandra says:

    Your blog is outstanding, informative and authentic – just like you…
    Re: political comments – they are intrusive and throw a negative energy/black cloud over the essential joy and happiness of you & your blog.

    Keep up the good work, Maria… you’re terrific…

  • Kathy says:

    Martha Stewart has a huge team of stylists and assistants to do what she does. I like what you do is more personal, imperfect and authentic.

  • Gloria says:

    I think you blog is great. I enjoy reading your posts and seems to me you are plenty busy because I had to wait at least three weeks for our consultation.

  • I answered the questions in the toilet paper video and I can honestly say I hope mine are never made public. ha!

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