This month, we want to catch up with another incredible Equi-prenuer with whom we’ve previously connected. Liv Gude is the force behind Proequinegrooms.com– a truly incredible resource for any horse enthusiast, amateur or professional. Gude is a tenacious and dedicated content producer, businesswoman, horse lover, and humorist. Her site is a remarkable resource for any equine care topic- from adjusting the tension on your clippers, to dealing with rain rot, to mental health surveys among grooms. The ProEquineGrooms site is full of information, constantly updated, and always open to questions from followers. I personally have, many times, looked to them for information to help me with horses, students, or just the eccentricity of the horse world.
We wanted to speak to Gude and learn more about her journey as a someone who is carving out their own niche in the horse business. We wanted to learn more about how this all started for her, how she has been able to leverage technology and digital marketing to her advantage, and how she sees ProEquineGrooms growing in the future.
Gude has created a site whose mission is to provide free information on any and all horse care topics, as she says on the site, ““To create a knowledge database of all things horse grooming and horse health care for the horse owner or enthusiast. To provide resources and information about working in the horse industry.”
With even the most important of topic, Gude maintains her humor. Which, as a former professional groom, I appreciate. She does a great job of providing some personal and background information on the FAQ page of her site, but here we’ve attempted to explore a little bit more of her journey as an Equi-prenuer.
TopLineMediaTeam: When did you start ProEquineGrooms.com, and what was your journey like a professional groom beforehand? Did you realize at the time that this would become your full-time occupation?
I launched the Proequinegrooms.com website in August of 2011. Backing up just a bit, I was going to school for my Master’s and needed a part-time job to get me out of the house and give me a break from my dissertation! I found that teaching beginner riding to kids and teens was just what I needed. One “fateful” day, I stopped at the local tack shop and saw a flyer for a part-time groom. And then I was grooming! My first foray into this world was grooming for Olympians.
I’m by no means OLD, but as the years rolled by grooming, the constant 6 (LONG) day work weeks were wearing on me. It was hard to have a life outside of the barn. I was also staring down the possibility of moving for my husband’s job, so having something to call my own was needed. I could use my Master’s, start my own gig that I can take anywhere my husband’s job moves us, and maybe have two days off in a row. GASP!
So the idea came to me. And now here we are.
TopLineMediaTeam: Have you always been tech- savvy? What were some of the most challenging parts of starting ProEquineGrooms?
I’ll never describe myself as tech-savy – but I did teach myself how to code, build websites, and figure out social media from scratch. Technology is one side of the coin, marketing is the other. I think I was lucky in that I started when FB was getting rolling for businesses, and the other platforms just followed. I can’t imagine now figuring out all of the platforms from scratch – at the same time.
What was the most important thing you learned in starting your business?
I learned that I need to prioritize – my time, how I worked to created a profit, and saying no to things that won’t benefit me or my readers.
What have been the most effective means of reaching your audience? Do you feel it’s been through the content on your site, social media, or other means? Has it changed over time?
This is absolutely a case of trial and error, dropping platforms that don’t return, and working on many angles instead of one. Public speaking events, grooming clinics, representing my sponsors at horse shows, social media, and SEO are all ways that I grow my audience. You will limit yourself if you don’t explore them all.
What correspondence from grooms, or questions, have been the most surprising? Or the hardest to answer?
The most surprising ones are the “hate mail” about photos that I publish on the website. It is absolutely rare, but every now and again I’ll get a comment about finding a prettier horse to use in the photos or the typical horseshoes are bad/barefoot is bad email.
The hardest ones to respond to are the questions that are followed by “I can’t afford a Vet.” The answer is always to call a Vet.
How do you keep up with all the social media platforms with all the other needs of running your own business?
I automate posting, but it’s a habit for me to check all of the platforms daily to interact with everyone. I literally do it all myself, save for business card printing. My infinite love of charts and graphs and spreadsheets makes daily, weekly, and monthly tasks easy to track and complete.
How do you handle it when companies ask you to promote products that aren’t quite up to your standard?
I simply don’t promote them. I also have keen loyalty to the companies I do work with, almost to a fault.
Do you miss grooming? Or do you feel even more connected to the industry because of the impact that ProEquineGrooms has?
Of course I miss grooming, but now I get to teach others how to get a horse to Grand Prix and send it to the Olympics. And I still have my own horse, and he’s gray, so that pretty much fills my quota of grooming hankerings.
What is the hardest or most frustrating part of “equi-prenuership?”
For me, there is no hard part. Just freaking do it. Some ideas will fail spectacularly, and so what. Come up with more. But if I absolutely had to be frustrated by something, it’s that I see my photos and articles used without my permission – it’s copyright infringement and plagiarism. Just ask me!
It’s amazing that we can connect and network and plan and share and help each other over the internet. If you are keen to use my information, please extend an invitation and perhaps there’s a lot more we can do for each other! You never know what happens when you reach out to someone else in the industry.
What is your favorite part of running ProEquineGrooms? Do you have a favorite question or topic?
My absolute favorite part is when I get to meet someone and they share a story about something they have learned from me. Last year, a young girl shared that she learned how to check her horse’s digital pulse, and she found an abscess that way. #rightinthefeels
What would you advise people who are interested in creating a business out of sharing their horse knowledge/ experiences?
Don’t believe the clickbait you read about “make thousands a month from blogging” if you are going to start a blog. And for any business – do your research about how to legally protect yourself and for Pete’s sake – check out your competition!
What is the most fascinating revelation about horses or grooming that you’ve had since leaving full-time grooming?
That I absolutely can’t stand riding in an arena. While I absolutely cherish my memories of lessons with Olympians and learning the GP myself, I never want to set a hoof into a ring again. It was work, and now my riding is my escape from work.
You can find Liv Gude at ProEquineGrooms.com, Facebook, and Instagram. Send her your grooming questions!
Would you like help marketing your equine business? Reach out to us at Top Line Media Team!
Jenn Crow has been a lifelong barn rat, and a hunter/jumper professional for 20 years with a passion for teaching and operations, from lesson programs to IEA Teams, to shows such as WEF, Harrisburg, and Washington.