Tip #1: Visualize What You Want
Hello hello hello!! Are you ready for some social media tips to help you build your authentic influence? I thought so. Here we go.
A note about these tips: I had to figure most of this stuff out on my own. I made A LOT of mistakes. Did a lot of things wrong. Tried a lot of things that didn’t work. So what I’m going to tell you in these emails (and in the future course) are simply the things that actually worked. All the stuff that has allowed me to grow this audience (and income) authentically and organically. You don’t have to listen to me. But…it might be a good idea. 😀
So without further ado:
TIP #1: Visualize what you want.
Now. Sounds pretty straightforward right? Well, it’s not.
There are a lot of different answers to the question “What do you want?” Here are some of the…wrong answers.
“I want 10,000 followers.” —-“I want $15,000 sponsorships.”—-“I want 30,000 views.”—-“I want a million link clicks.”
Ok. So why are these the wrong answers? Simply because running a social media business is a JOB. And not just a job, it’s a tough job. A job that requires a LOT of work. A job that needs constant learning, evolving, planning, working, pivoting, and thinking. If your only goal is to get a certain number of followers or a certain number of sponsorships or a certain number of clicks, you’re going to burn out FAST. And even if you get there…then what? Are you done?
We start with a visualization because that is the fire that will feed you. It is what you will hold onto when yet ANOTHER snarky comment comes across your plate. When you need to finish a video in 6 hours and don’t even know where to start. When you’re not seeing the traction you want yet and feel like giving up. You have to remember WHY you started all this in the first place.
Some people call this “finding your why.” If that works for you, cool. It didn’t work for me. I would stare blankly into space looking for some esoteric, meaningful, moody answer to why I wanted to start a social media business. And came up with nothing. So I tried this instead.
I wrote out my perfect day. Literally the absolutely best day I could think of if I had a financially viable social media business. I wanted the daily freedom to make my own choices, to decide when and what I worked on. And my 9-5 wasn’t cutting it. What would a perfect day look like for me instead?
Wake up—-Make breakfast for my husband.—-Feed some farm animals—-Answer messages for an hour—-Knit a little bit—-Edit a video—-Answer some emails—-Go to a thrift store—-Chat with my mom
Is it simple? Yeah. Does it give me warm fuzzies when I think about having a day like that? Absolutely. This is the day that drives me to keep going. I want to build a life FULL of days like that.
So here is your homework this week. Find five or ten minutes to yourself and map out your perfect day. You can do this in a journal, your phone, or turn on a camera and start chatting to it (it’s good practice for later). Maybe even write down several different kinds of days you would love to have and see if one of them calls to you more than another.
Don’t be afraid to do this exercise several times. My perfect day evolved tremendously over the last two years. But just start with where you are now.
Social media is a POWERFUL tool. It is an absolutely mindblowing way to connect with thousands of people all over the world and to leverage that connection to not only help them, but earn a living. It can change your life for the better or for the worse. You get to decide which.
Once you know where you want to go, you can start breaking that dream down into achievable chunks and tackle them one at a time.
Tip #2: Set Your Boundaries
Before we dive into the meaty troubleshooting and actually doing this business building thing, we need to talk about mental health. Building an engaged, authentic following requires you to be open to sharing many different parts of yourself. BUT. When your business is directly connected to your personality, it ABSOLUTELY requires that you separate yourself sometimes.
With that in mind…
Tip #2: Set Your Boundaries
Boundaries are something we hear about a lot.
“Boundaries are healthy!”—-“Boundaries are empowering!”—“Boundaries are necessary!”
And honestly, I have to agree. When building a business around yourself, boundaries are your most important asset (aside from your work ethic, but we’ll get to that later).
Ok we get they are important, but why do you NEED to set boundaries? Because this is a BUSINESS. You’re leveraging your life and your personality as a source of income. Now don’t get me wrong, that can be GREAT fun! And super rewarding! But at the end of the day, you are not your business. You’re just the face of it. You need a layer of separation that can signal to you “now I’m off work.” Just because you choose to share on the internet does NOT mean you are required to share everything.
So what does boundary setting look like in a social media business?
Boundary Type 1: “I only post ONE type of content.”
This strategy works really well for highly niched business. Healthy eating. Cupcake making. Embroidery. Photography. If you plan to only have one type of product (or a handful of related products), setting this boundary will help keep your content consistent and predictable for your audience.
Boundary Type 2: “I NEVER post this kind of content.”
This strategy works well if you intend to move toward more of a lifestyle account. Lifestyle involves telling a story about you, what you’re doing, what your family is doing, what your life looks, etc. This is a different boundary setting method than Boundary Type 1 because you’re saying what you won’t share vs. what you will.
A Careful Blend…
You may find yourself blending these two. For example you may have a highly specific niche that only shares about cotton tablecloths, BUT when you do branch out occasionally behind the scenes, you don’t talk about politics, cats, or your love of take-out food. You get my point. 😀
I fall into Boundary Type 2. When I first became full time on my business, I struggled with the idea that literally everything I do could be content. And if I didn’t make it content? I was missing out and wouldn’t grow. And I quit my job so obviously I need to do ALL THE THINGS and grow ALL THE TIME or I am a TOTAL FAILURE!! Right? Lol. No, Paige. No.
When I tried to make everything content, I essentially worked every waking hour 7 days a week. Every waking moment was devoted to sharing this “content” that was actually my life. Talk about burn out!
Eventually I realized there are a few areas of my life that are just off limits. Not because I don’t love them or because I wouldn’t love sharing them (or the wouldn’t make GREAT content), but because mentally I needed a hard stop.
I needed a method to stop feeling guilty when I wanted to cook and NOT make a video about it. I wanted to NOT make my family feel weird that I was going to bring out the camera on a whim and ruin the dinner party. So I decided there are parts of my life that I simply don’t film or share. And let me tell you, I’ve been much better for it.
Your audience (especially if they like you a lot) will have a never ending hunger to know more about what you’re doing. It’s ok to say “Actually I don’t really share that on the internet. Thanks for understanding.”
Here is this week’s homework: Decide which buoundary category you fall under. Is it Boundary Type 1? Or Boundary Type 2? If you want Boundary Type 1, list out 5 different types of content you could make under that one umbrella to get a head start on content brainstorming. (For example, if you make cupcakes you could have content about dry ingredients, mixing, baking temperatures, baking pans, and icing.)
If you are leaning toward Boundary Type 2, write out what areas of your life are you not willing to share. Then brainstorm some possible answers if people ever ask you to share something across one of your boundaries. You don’t owe an explanation to anyone for what you will and won’t share, but it’s a good idea to have those answers ahead of time just in case. Again, we want NO guilty feelings around wanting to occasionally be private.
A final note: you may not know immediately where these boundaries are. It took me a few times of stumbling across them to discover OH HEY. THAT’S MY BOUNDARY. Trust me when you accidentally cross one, you will know. These boundaries may change over time and morph as your business does. But I’m giving this tip its own email because it is SO vital to maintaining your sanity online.
As a FINAL final note: don’t think giving yourself boundaries will limit your content. There is ENDLESS content to be had. I PROMISE, once you know how, you can turn any mundane thing into awesome, engaging content.
Tip #3: Pay Attention to Who You Love Following
We’ve talked about some soft skills to get started with this whole social media thing. Defining your vision, getting in the right headspace, ok ok we got that. Now let’s dive into the tactical advice. What in the world do you do first when you want to start a social media business? WELP. This is an easy one.
Tip #3: Pay attention to who you love following.
The great news about this tip is that the information you need is already out there. You probably already have a few favorites that come to mind. Boom! 70% of the job is done!
Why does this matter? Well, it’s kind of hard to sit in a room and list out everything you want to be as a business with no input. Should you do YouTube or Instagram? Blog or TikTok? Email list or Facebook group? In a world of SO many options, where do you even start?
The easiest way to start is to imitate what you love. Do you get all your favorite content from blogs, email lists, and an occasional YouTube video? Great! This means you know what it feels like to be that kind of content consumer. You know what you like watching and don’t like watching. What you like reading and don’t like reading. And I absolutely guarantee there are other people out there who want to consume content exactly the same way you do.
SO. You’re going to create content exactly the way YOU want to receive it. Put another way, you want your content to be your FAVORITE content on the internet.
For me? I love watching content that is funny but not mean, has great storytelling but is not scripted, is informational but not boring, and is stuffed full of cats and other animals. So? That’s what I create. And I LOVE doing it.
This week’s homework: pick 3-5 people you absolutely love to follow. It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog, an Instagram page, a YouTube channel, or anything else. They just need to be people you can hardly wait to go see when they upload something new. If you don’t have 3 people you absolute adore, that’s ok. Start with the ones you love, then pick a few that you’re sort of lukewarm on. The exercise will end the same way;
Now it’s time to do a little research.
How often do they post?—How long are their posts?—What kind of moods do they post?—Are they funny?—Are they inspirational?—Do they post candid real life pictures or stylized artistic pictures?—Do they post a ton of content or just one time a month?—Do they post pictures? Or mostly videos?— Is there anything they do that you wish they didn’t?
Once you have all of this information, think about how can you incorporate it into your own content. If you took your favorite elements of all of your favorite creators and stuck them in a blender, what would that look like?
All of this is valuable because it tells you what kind of content YOU love. When you create content you love, you love to create it. And when the audience sees that you love what you do, you set yourself up for a deeply authentic connection with those who love it too.
Sound good? Alright! Go forth, find your favorite creators, and see what they’re doing.
Tip #4: Consistency Matter
The single biggest task in running a social media business is posting! How often do I post? When do I post? Where should I post? What do I post?
Those are all excellent questions and lead us nicely to this week’s tip.
Tip #4: Consistency Matters
Many many MANY people set out to start something on social media. They get their idea together. They get a few posts going. They make a few videos. They are really excited for about a month. And then they just…stop. Either because they run out of ideas or they aren’t interested anymore or they’re not getting the traction they want right away. They just…throw in the towel and stop posting.
How do I know? I’ve done this. Twice. 😀 And what I learned is that is ROUGH on your audience.
Can you imagining discovering an awesome new snack at a local coffee shop, eating it for a month, and then suddenly it’s gone? No explanation? And suddenly it’s back? But then it’s gone again? Yeah. That would suck.
The next time you want a tasty treat, are you going to risk going all the way to that coffee shop if maybe that snack you love won’t be there? No. You wouldn’t. Content creation is the EXACT same thing.
The most important thing you can do for your audience is consistently and predictably show up.
Who consumes your content? People. Genuine, actual people sitting down in their living room or at their kitchen table to see what you’re doing. People who know that you post new stories to Instagram every Wednesday morning at 9:30 and are there waiting to watch. People who pull up your blog every Thursday afternoon at 2PM to see your newest blog post. And these people? They are worth their weight in GOLD. Because they are so invested in what you’re doing that they are ready and waiting for what you make WITHOUT you having to seek them out. Take that algorithm!
This is the type of audience you want to build. So this week, I want you to set yourself up to be there for those people.
This Week’s Homework: From last week, you probably figured out which platforms you consume most often. YouTube, Instagram, Blogs, etc. I want you to pick at most TWO of those platforms to focus on. Don’t worry about more for now. In my experience you can create really good content on about two different platforms before you start to run out of steam.
For those two platforms, decide what kind of posting schedule you are going to do. BUT WAIT. Before you’re tempted to post FIVE TIMES A DAY and film SEVENTEEN VIDEOS A WEEK, let me stop you right there. This needs to be a schedule that will be a little challenging for you, but not impossible. Setting your goals too high from the start will cause burnout like you wouldn’t BELIEVE. So instead, pick your platform(s) and decide a posting schedule that you can reasonably attain. This schedule is going to be your LIFE as you launch this thing. And your audience will thank you for it.
Tip #5: Don’t Follow People Who Make You Feel Bad
While you shouldn’t necessarily unfollow people you love, you should pay close attention to how you feel as you watch them.
There are creators I admire and love following, but sometimes I have to take a pause on watching their content. Why? Because I can’t enjoy it. The whole time I’m thinking things like:
“Should I film more like that?” —- “Should I post more like this?” —- “Should I color correct my footage more like that?”
Those are all valid questions of course that maybe I should be asking. But the problem? It’s TOTALLY divorced from what my audience wants.
Your audience drives your content. Not who you follow, not who you wish you could be, not you hope to be, your audience. If you pay attention to your comments, your DMs, your emails, your letters in the mail, your audience will tell you everything you need to know about how to better serve them.
My number one goal is to serve my audience. Not everyone will like me and that’s fine. But if they might like my content, I want to give them the best version of what they’re looking for that I possibly can. I can’t do that if I’m focusing on what everyone else is doing.
Homework This Week: Many of us probably have some time off coming up soon. And with extra free time, mindless social media scrolling tends to happen. But this week, I want to you to pay attention to how you feel when you’re watching people you follow.
If at any point you get distracted by comparisons or start worrying about your own content, head off those feelings early. Instead, jump into your DMs or read comments on your last few posts. See what people have to say and if that sparks any other ideas for improvement.
Don’t have an audience yet? No problem! Instead, go to one of your favorite creators and have a look through their comment section. Are there any questions no one answered? Any common statements? See what information you can glean for your own content in the future.
In my experience, listening to your audience and watching their engagement will provide all the information you need to make your content better. Your audience will tell you what they like, what they don’t like, and how to move forward. And since we’re interested in getting a highly engaged audience, listening to them instead of watching someone else is a much better use of your time.
One last thought: I’m not saying don’t learn from people who are farther along than you are. I’m not saying don’t be inspired by them. I’m only saying that if you can’t stop the feelings of comparison AND those start getting in the way of your own productivity, double down on your audience instead. Once you get reconnected with your audience, I’ve found it much easier to go back to the creators I love without all those weird feelings.