How much entrepreneurs should spend on marketing and advertising

  • Welcome to Founder Finances, a new insider series dedicated to the monthly budgets of founders.
  • In this story, the founder of a blog and events company shares her $5,000 budget.
  • Investing in cross-platform marketing has made their events business a success.

At age 11, Alexa Curtis was looking for a community: Her family was struggling with legal issues and she was being bullied at school, she said. She was looking for a passion project that she could put her time and energy into building.

Curtis was inspired by celebrity fashion blogger Tavi Gevinson and started her own blog in 2011 at the age of 12. Life in the Fashion Lane originally shared outfit inspiration, but seven years after launch, she focused on entrepreneurship and fearlessness — and rebranded the blog as Life Unfiltered.

“I wanted to be this character that I didn’t have growing up — someone who was approachable and relatable and did something cool,” she said.

Since then, Curtis has grown her blog into a marketing company, podcast, mentoring program, and event series called Be Fearless Summit, where she works with colleges to host panels and conferences with students. Last year, their business recorded six-digit sales, which insiders confirmed with documents. Curtis said it costs her $5,000 a month to run her business, more than half of which is spent on marketing her events.

Curtis gave Insider her exact monthly budget and shared tips on how to invest in a company to grow it into a six-figure business.

Here is the budget breakdown

Building a personal brand from the ground up

Alexa Curtis, Founder of Be Fearless Summit and Life Unfiltered

Alexa Curtis, founder of the blog Be Fearless Summit and Life Unfiltered.

courtesy of

Curtis moved to Brooklyn from Connecticut when he was 17. In an effort to keep creating content, she pitched ideas to beauty companies on their social media posts. When one responded and offered her $1,500 for an Instagram takeover, she began to build a network of brands.

Today she recognizes the value of creating a cohesive and conscious personal platform. She spends around $350 each month on a branding coach to help her decide what message she wants to convey through her work.

According to Curtis, while she continues to build an entrepreneurial portfolio, Curtis is also investing in a neat and professional appearance. “I make a lot of money from my personal brand, so if I have a brand partnership or an event that day, I’ll hire someone to do my makeup and hair,” she said, adding that it’s important Creating content that is both authentic and ambitious to grow organically.

Read more: Founder Finances: How a 30-year-old entrepreneur used a $2,000 monthly social media marketing budget to grow a thriving side business selling loungewear

Invest in growth opportunities

Students attend Curtis' Be Fearless Summit at colleges across the country.

Students attend Curtis’ Be Fearless Summits at colleges across the country.

Courtesy of Curtis

Curtis’ Be Fearless Summits is the arm of her company that she plans to expand over the next few years.

The summits typically bring her around $10,000 in revenue, but it often costs nearly $10,000 to organize over several months. However, she expects to turn a profit soon: The summit, scheduled for September, should generate more than $15,000 in revenue – thanks to a combination of booking fees and event sponsorship – and cost less than $7,500 to organize.

Curtis attributes her projected increase in sales to her marketing investments, which include hiring a graphic designer, a video editor and a photographer, and buying ambassador giveaways. Each component helps spread the word to their followers and adjacent audiences.

READ ALSO: Founder’s Finances: A baker shares the $15,000 budget she’s using to restart her business after retiring from her battle with cancer

corporate mergers are another way to grow

Curtis presenting at a TEDx event

Curtis presenting at a TEDx event.

Courtesy of Curtis

Curtis recently merged her company with another called GrasshopHer to expand her audience. GrasshopHer is a mentoring program designed to help young women network with other professionals. With the merger, Curtis continues to step into the company’s technology and career development mission.

“It’s becoming less of a personal brand,” she said. “I’m more focused on getting myself out of the equation because I want to build and sell this business.”

She hopes small steps like growing followers organically, building collaborative partnerships, and structuring strategic mergers will help her grow her business, she said. Her number one piece of advice for other entrepreneurs is to focus on the daily building blocks, not just viral content.

“I’m trying not to get too bogged down in it because there’s always going to be a new platform at this point,” she said of social media’s virality. “That can feel crippling for a future generation of entrepreneurs because that’s not how it works.”


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