Ever see a video, hear a podcast or see an Instagram feed and feel a little jealous? Comparison can be toxic, but the inspiration for elevation with an aesthetic that really and truly resonates with you? THAT is one of the best ways to move your brand and business forward. In this post, I’ll share some hacks for creating content that is #InstaGoals for less!
Do you ever feel like everyone else has it figured out while you’re still playing dress-up in your mom’s suits?
As someone who – quite literally – played dress-up for hours and hours in her mother’s suits from the 80s and 90s (shoulder pads and all), I can tell you this is part of the practice of becoming an expert in your zone of genius. It is part of the practice of advancing in your career and it is part of the practice of finding your voice in an oversaturated and fatigued marketplace.
It can be downright exhausting — and detrimental if you don’t take some time to get clear on your mantras, your goals and your content buckets to hone in on the area(s) that YOU want to own.
This is challenging, no doubt about it. In a world where everyone’s life, business, marriage, motherhood and workouts are #InstaFiltered, it can seem like you’re the only one going through this phase of life-acne, but I promise you’re not alone.
I promise you.
In my mission to be transparent, I will say that I once felt this way. I often felt not good enough when I worked at some of the biggest names in the business… and then, when I went off on my own, I realized that those titles reinforced that belief in me and once I let go of expectations, I was truly able to soar and work with even bigger names and create massive success for my clients and myself.
How Did I Do It? Practice.
Practice is a word that has resonated with me since my days of daily hot yoga sessions before sunrise — as a little girl, I imagined the woman I wanted to be. I’m a very visual person, my memories and dreams play like film clips in my mind, like a kaleidoscope of a highlight reel I once hope to share. So my image of me as an adult has always played out this way in my mind. And from an early age — 8 at least — I kept looking in the mirror searching for her, willing her into existence.
Two decades later, she is here, she is fierce and she ain’t even halfway done.
But that was a practice. It was the practice of figuring out what truly fit my style, my mission and my personality as I went through the runway of work and life, trying on new titles like last season’s t-shirts and collecting case studies like Ariel’s baubles.
Next year, I’ll enter my third decade and I firmly believe in the power of three (that’s a story for another post; it will come so stay tuned) — for me, this is when my practice has hit one of it’s most aligned moments. And that’s where I pick up the title of this post, the power of a staged space.
My new apartment is great, it works for what I need it to way more than any other space but it’s definitely not “ideal.” It doesn’t have the perfect clean light that I need and the windows don’t look out into the majestic city like the windows I someday know I will have (hoping and wishing and praying) but that shouldn’t matter, right? It’s my home and I love it and it should be good enough for all of my content needs.
Should — that word can be such a B.
The reason I’m writing this post today is because of an episode of Happy Thoughts Show run by two girl bosses and friends, Sara Wiles and Lacey Sites. Last night’s episode featured comparisonitis and how to deal/what it is. I was so intrigued by the responses that so many of the ladies had because I do, as I explained above, DEFINITELY remember being there myself professionally. And while I don’t always struggle with this as a CEO, as women, there are always ways in which we judge ourselves too harshly and this comes up for us.
So many of these things, however, can be quickly fixed with a little zuzsh — as I like to say. Basically, a little quick fix solution to turn the space you have into the space you want to have someday in some way. Working with what you’ve got to create what you desire — THAT is key to this practice. As I shared today “See it. Believe it. Think it. Be it.” because you’ve already got everything you need, you just gotta make it #werk.
In times when you wish your brand looked a little more Kardashian and less Kitchy, there are spaces that you can use to stage your content collection.
Breather is a great app featuring workspaces AND photo/video spaces in several major cities (Canada too!). You can rent the spaces by the hour (and you’ll get a discount if you use my code) or by the day. I did a photoshoot in one of these spaces last fall and it was GREAT. It allowed me to get all the shots I needed without having to worry if my apartment was clean enough.
My favorite photo series, ever (for my brand) was taken in my 450 sq ft apartment, the one I had before where I live now. Yes, really. I got some green screen from a friend who purchased it wholesale at a production house in Brooklyn and then we used two massive lights to turn my apartment into the kind of “#lit” #InstaGoals are made of. I’ve also purchased my own lighting kit since this shoot, for $70 from Jet.com. Even if you think your space is drab, lighting can make a HUGE difference.
Flowers can completely change a shot. Placing flowers over your right or left shoulder just beyond the shot can open up a room and make it feel like you’re in a totally different space. This can be accomplished by shooting from different angles too.
If you’re ready for a big project, Peerspace is one to investigate. They also have spaces in cities all over the world that can be used for events, photo and video shoots, fashion shows, intimate dinners and more. What I love most about Peerspace is that some of the photo/video shoot spaces even come with lights — which totally beats trekking around Manhattan with your gear.
I hope these tips help you create your #InstaGoals photoshoot for your brand and business — and if you’re not resonating with that type of photography and brand representation? Find the five brands that fit YOUR idea of what YOU want to be and create your own #InstaGoals — because you deserve to write your success story on your terms, not on someone else’s.
Quarter four is upon us!! This is the home stretch of the year — and it’s not just about business goals to finish this year strong, it’s about setting up a foundation for the following year so you can hit the ground running as soon as the holidays are over… and maybe, accomplish a few goals before it even begins.
For the past six years, I’ve started counting down to the new year in October. It may seem like I’m not “in the moment” but I can promise you that by doing my 10 Weeks to whatever the next year is, I’m actually more present, strategic and mindful of my goals.
The best part? I usually knock a few off before we even hit the holidays.
Why am I telling you this? Well, last year, I used this time to get serious about my brand focus for 2017. And it worked. It worked so well that my company earned multiple six figures this year — our second full year in business. It worked so well that I brought on two new team members, managed dozens of projects and still found time to get a little press along the way. It worked so well that I cleared 10K on Instagram and continue to grow an engaged following that ACTUALLY converts. It worked so well that I found the love (of self), sweat (of hard #werk) and tears (of joy) mantra and ACTUALLY felt what that means for me.
It worked so well that beyond all those tangible success items, I found myself in a whole new way.
This next year, 2018, is a big one for me. It’s my third full year in business and the start of my third decade on this earth. I’ve recently gotten more into the Woo (more on that on my lifestyle blog) and I’ve found that it has helped me burn old stories and break the cassette tapes that no longer served me.
And I found that in the 10 weeks leading up to 2017 last fall.
That’s why I am so passionate about making this quarter count. It may seem like a slower time period — with family, holiday and travel chaos — but that means there are more pockets for YOU to find time to just be. To allow your mind to really go there when it comes to the possibilities that you may have denied yourself in the past.
Here are four things I’ve done in the last quarter of the year to create MASSIVE success in the next year — they may not all be for you but they may be something you can “vix” for yourself and that? THAT is the most powerful thing of all.
The List of 100 Dreams
In 2011, I was 23 years old a little lost. I knew I wanted to change the world — I’ve known that my whole life — but the path to doing that seemed foggy. I purchased the book “What Color is Your Parachute?” I read about one-third of it and then decided I had what I needed and could move on. The most important part for me, at that moment in my life? The List of 100 Dreams. I wrote down everything I wanted to do in this life — including (most importantly) things I’d already accomplished. It helped me put my path into perspective. And best of all? Three months after I did that? I got the biggest job of my career and forged a new path in uncharted territory that led me here. Write the list this fall. Take the time to do it — in a place that makes YOU happiest — and think about what goals you can tackle in 2018. You’ll be surprised by what you’ve done already and how far you’ve come… I know it.
Calm in the Chaos
Meditation is something I committed to at the end of 2016 as well and as we circle back around on this ride we call life, I can tell you I haven’t kept up the practice as I thought I would BUT I did keep the intention. I live in NYC, it is a chaotic city — full of energy, motion and go-go-go. And I love every second of it. The entrepreneur guilt can often feel like that too — am I doing enough — and so meditation was one way I decided to calm my mind. I thought it meant that I had to sit, cross-legged on my couch, clearing my mind of all thoughts. That was not what worked for me — Instead, it’s a daily listen to freevibeoftheday.com, checking my horoscope and walking to my morning workout class without any expectation of what thoughts will pop into my head. Finding the calm in the chaos of my routine helped me stay the course. My advice for you? Find three things that calm you. Learn three new tools in this season to help you stay calm in the chaos and block time to do them every, single week of the first quarter of the new year. Knowing that you have a plan to tackle anything that comes your way IS half of the battle and this is one of the most powerful things you can do.
Healthy Body, Healthy Mind
I’ve had a regular, stable, consistent workout schedule since I’m 17. It has been a constant in my life through ALL of the changes in this defining decade and it is one I am eternally grateful for. I also went gluten- and dairy- free in my 20s. Trying a new food or workout routine is not easy during the holidays but the holidays are a few weeks away — take October to really consider what your “normal” eating habits are and how you can clean them up (or open them up) to give yourself more energy throughout the day. Find small tweaks that work for you. This isn’t something that I can really advise you on BUT I can tell you that paying attention to this — especially in my solopreneur days — helped me through a LOT of ups and downs.
I set goals, a lot. Quarterly goals, daily goals, weekly goals. I am #goalsongoalsongoals all damn day! Goals help me stay grounded and they help ME make the decisions I need to move forward. Each week of the next three months, write down three goals you want to accomplish that week. I find a hybrid of business and personal goals really makes me feel fulfilled so try that to see if it helps for you too. Write them on a post-it and tape them to your laptop or desktop each Sunday. On the following Sunday, block 15-20 minutes to evaluate your accomplishments and another 15-20 to set new goals for the following week. This intention setting allowed me to not only hit my financial goals for this year, but it actually allowed me to surpass them without even thinking about it. Powerful. Stuff.
No matter what practices, tactics and tools you use, setting yourself up for success in Quarter Four IS a crucial part of making the BOSS moves you need to succeed in the year ahead. The simplest thing to do? Get a handle on your expenses, write-offs and tax deductions for April — that is one way to understand your accomplishments this year AND how to maximize your success next year.
Brand trust — in everything from e-commerce brands to brick and mortar stores to editorial brands — is gone. Consumers — that is people who buy, click, visit, read and share — are more skeptical than ever. This is a problem ALL brands, businesses and individuals who share content on the many digital platforms face — and yet, it seems like we’re doing nothing to combat it. There are many, many things that can be done but the most important thing YOU can do? Be transparent with your audience every step of the way.
Editorial brands like The New York Times have spent decades refining their reputation. Television news brands, like CNN, ABC, NBC, etc. have done the same. And now? Now we have a generation of consumers — in all age groups and all phases of life — who are skeptical of everything they see, read, share and hear.
Where does that leave us?
These digital tools — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and more — are platforms meant to bring communities together. Like the meeting houses, bonfires and great halls, these platforms have become a place to buy, trade, sell and share.
And as trust in the information presented decreases?
Well, it stands that trust in brands trying to sell in the same arena would also decrease.
And you don’t have to take my word for it — Buzz Sumo recently analyzed over 880 million (yes, with an m) Facebook posts from brands and publishers and engagement is down by 20% — regardless of spending which, for many of these individual entities, increased dramatically over the same period.
As an individual, you may have noticed a downward trend too — and that makes sense because as the algorithm struggles to learn new ways of verifying real vs fake content, individuals and business pages, it puts a clamp on all information.
Organic reach still exists — if you have the right content strategy in place, you should be able to see an increase in reach with a few well-placed tweaks — but it is not the same as it was.
So what are online entrepreneurs to do?
Transparency is your friend
Sharing your success stories, case studies and launch stories is bread and butter of digital brand marketing when it comes to online personalities. The true key here? Is to break it down! Tell your audience how much you spent on Facebook ads, how much you spent with affiliates, where you placed your content and how much time you spent training your audience to be primed for purchase. Share your missteps (because nothing is truly a failure) as lessons learned to move forward.
Be the expert, own your space
Experts are a dime a dozen — but YOU have a unique spin for YOUR zones of genius and excellence. YOU get to decide what content you share and how your audience consumes it. And you get to shine in the darkness of unreliable content (otherwise known as fake news) by providing statistics, data and verified sources. You are a content creator 5% (or less) of the time and a content curator 95% of the time — curate wisely.
Own your missteps — see them as an opportunity
The New York Times prints corrections… every, single news organization in the world prints corrections. Humans are not infallible — we are HUMANS. It’s called Human Error for a reason and the best way to combat the problem of unreliable content on today’s oversaturated content platforms? Think like an editorial team — decide how, when and where you’ll acknowledge your corrections and make it public. Make sure that you’re owning these answers consistently in your messaging. Using a response grid (like the one I offer for free, here) is a great way to stay on top of this day-to-day and across a distributed team.
Every expert will tell you something different about what it means to build a digital business. This quick start guide will help you get the building blocks in place so you can expand as you go along without having to scramble for key assets and systems last minute, allowing you to take full advantage of all the opportunities coming your way.
Understanding what you’re going to talk about is the first part of building a digital brand. What key areas will you “own” as an expert? Will you create a blog or plan to share content on social media? Are you going to train your audience to expect a podcast, video series or to convert to a group program?
No matter what your hub is, you need a hub to send your new audience to. That hub can be a website, landing page or series of social media profiles.
My advice? Start with a simple website (like these that we’ve created for clients) with a home, about, contact and services page. This allows you to start collecting email addresses quickly (to build your list from Day 1; even if you’re not sending them anything yet, it’s an important digital branding step!) and it will also allow you to employ some of that content planning you’ve been working on — on the About page, think about what you want to own, your why and how you can provide services and products to YOUR ideal client. That will help you start to inform your content strategy AND give you something to share on social media.
If you decide to start with a social media page or profile? Consider where your ideal client hangs out before deciding which one to focus your energies on. And if you’re not building a website at all? Stay off Twitter, you won’t have the content to support a solid strategy and then the brand building efforts there will fall flat.
Social Media Strategy
If you do nothing else when building a digital brand, you MUST reserve your business name (or your name) on all social media platforms. Even if you plan to NEVER use that platform to promote your business, you never know which way the tides will turn so reserve all of your handles on Day 1 to make sure you never, ever have to think about this again!
Then, it’s about deciding where your ideal client hangs out and how many times a day you can reasonably post.
If you’re only on Facebook, you ARE leaving money on the table, but if you’re just starting out, it is better to be focused so take the time to build a rapport with your community.
No matter what you’re doing, you want to get paid. Whether you’re a side-hustler, a naptime ninja or a weekend warrior, you’re starting a side business and digital brand to get paid. If you’re an influencer, you’ll be using your digital influence to get paid in a variety of ways… but you’re still GETTING PAID! Think about the easiest way for YOU to handle payments. Start by creating an excel sheet for expenses and income tracking so that when tax time rolls around, you’re not wasting valuable time scrambling for receipts and payment records.
You may not know what types of content you’ll be sending via email but owning an email list is one of the most important parts of building a digital brand. Yes, all of these parts are important, that’s why they’re the building blocks! But having the ability to reach your customers 1:1? THAT is priceless. Always remember, the social platforms that we invest so much time, energy and money into are public (some are even publicly traded) and can go away in an instant. And if they do? How would you connect with your audience? This is something that the Vine influencers dealt with a little over a year ago and it was not pretty. Don’t ever allow yourself to be in this position! Get ahead of it from Day 1 with an email system that suits YOUR needs and can scale with your business.
There you have it! Of course, there are MANY more elements to consider as you build, scale and grow your business and digital brand, but this is a great way to get started.
It was a Monday. A hot Monday in the second week of August. It was the summer of my dreams, the summer where I finally said “yes” to being fully, completely and totally me. The summer where I declared my independence for all the right reasons instead of for someone else or something else.
I’ve been building digital communities, managing content strategy, partnerships and influencer marketing, creating live video series and managing social media brands for a decade. And, if you think about digital marketing from a 360 point-of-view, I’ve been doing that since 2005. Building websites, tinkering with Google Ad words and figuring out the workaround, the “Vix” for any tech issue has been something I’ve been doing since High School. And I have loved it wholeheartedly.
I often say my true professional career began 5 years ago — sure, I was managing digital brands at Time Inc. before that, long before that (before I even had a degree) but five years ago, I managed the strategy for a national digital brand on a whole new scale. I was the Digital Producer at LIVE with Kelly and my whole life changed — I went from playing small to believing “this or better,” I went from having multiple side hustles to have one, all-consuming full-time hustle and trying to keep my personal brand stable through the shift. I moved to Manhattan, fell in love with SoulCycle, found a new community and fell in love with myself.
I found myself, the person I was meant to be, the truest version of myself, five years ago.
And in the five years since, my practice has continued — I have worked on becoming a true digital marketing expert, on truly understanding what it takes to get a community to not only engage but convert AND tell their friends. I’ve worked with celebrities (Meredith Vieira, Kelly Ripa, Michael Strahan, Michael Gelman), with life coaches and authors (Hal Rubenstein, Christine Hassler) with non-profits associated with the United Nations (the Education Commission) and with entrepreneurs running every type of business you can imagine — from construction companies to jewelry designers, from stylists to YouTube stars and everyone in between.
I believe you cannot be what you do not see and I strive to use my personal practice as a way to show women – and men! – of all ages that a new chapter is possible. That your story continues no matter what obstacles you face.
That you are extraordinary.
You are the smartest person in every room — but that doesn’t mean you should stop learning! You can be anything you want to be, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t other expects worth partnering with. Life is long and you cannot even imagine what’s coming your way.
Your job? Be open to possibility, trust your gut and continue the practice every. damn. day.
To continue to be more transparent about when, where, how, why and with whom I do the things I do (that have let me generate massive results for myself and clients), I’ve created a series of 10 videos on the 10 lessons I learned in Year 2 of being a badass fempreneur.
I hope these lessons inspire YOU to take the leap in whatever that looks like for YOUR life and YOUR zone of genius. And if you need a bit of help defining that? Take my six days to a successful side hustle challenge — it’s free and it’s the perfect way to dip your toes into the sea of possibilities that surround your life story. Sometimes, you have to jump off the life raft and immerse yourself in this sea — for in the lazy river of life, opportunities are only available to those who seize them.
And if you want to get these types of tips delivered straight to your inbox, sign-up for my newsletter (it’s free!).
If you don’t want to watch now, the ten lessons are:
Find the work around — the rAframe
Smart is sexy and you are always one of the smartest people in the room….
But that doesn’t mean you’re done – Never. Stop. Learning.
Cheap Ain’t Cute, Honey — making the right investments in your dreams
Surround yourself with multi-passionate people, for in diversity, we find strength
And the support strength of the right group is an asset, not a liability
The investment you make in social media — and marketing in general — is one of the most important investments you’ll make in business. How much should you invest? That depends on how quickly you want to get to success AND what success looks like for you, your business and your brand.
Social Media Marketing is something everyone can physically do but not something everyone can do well. And since it is my zone of excellence, I decided it was time to shed light on what the investment should be and what that will yield for your business.
Social Media is one of the most important investments you’ll make in your business. [Click to Tweet] It is also one area where most entrepreneurs and influencers under invest, resulting in low quality work and all sorts of stumbles along the way.
The strategies I create for my clients not only focus on what’s actually being posted in the copy of their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, InstaStory (etc; we do it all, you get the idea) posts, but also the images,links, landing pages, email funnels and sales copy.
AND I focus on how these strategies will get you the digital PR you need to succeed.
Your followers are just clients you haven’t signed yet [click to tweet] but that also means that if you’re not engaging with them and showing up in the places (podcasts, blogs, newsletters, Facebook groups) where they hang out, it can seem like you’re just beating the drum in a vacuum. If no one is citing you as an expert, you cannot truly call yourself one.
What Does Social Media Marketing Include?
Social Media Marketing includes everything and anything shared by and for your business online to attract press and feature opportunities,to increase your followers, to sign clients and to create funnels and strategies to sell your offerings, services and programs. It is a way to use the free tools at our fingertips to strategically create buzz around you as an expert to fill your client list and keep the new clients coming in to your funnels for years to come.
How Does It Build My Business?
Social Media CAN, in 2017, make or break your business. [Click to Tweet] That’s why hiring someone who looks at it from a 360 perspective — with the question of “how will this make my client more money” at the forefront of her mind — is imperative. If you have someone who thinks it’s enough to drive traffic to your site and then leave you hanging, that’s someone that shouldn’t be in your business.
How Much Does it Cost for Social Media Marketing and Management?
Social Media Marketing is a tricky thing to price. Luckily, I’ve been side hustling long enough to know what the “right” range is.
That Seems Like What a VA Does, Isn’t It the Same?
Nope. A VA is brilliant and a wonderful investment. I work with a VA to get my posts into more Facebook groups where my audience hangs out. The best part about that is that I can focus on other activities while she supports me in this way. Investing in my VA (and you can check her out here) is one of the best things I’ve done for my business in 2017. It is why I’ve made 6-figures in 6 months, it’s why I have grown my email list by 130%. BUT she is not going to post for me if I don’t create content or create a clear strategy. VA’s offer support, guidance and execution but a Chief Marketing Strategist and her team (like the one I’ve created here at CreatiVix Media!) will not only do all of that, they’ll also find strategic ways to quickly and efficiently convert the traffic you’re getting by looking at the whole picture as part of your monthly investment! If they’re doing it right, they’ll even write your email content AND schedule it to give you the max ROI based on your level of investment in the hours they provide.
What About Facebook Ads?
Most companies charge a minimum management fee for Facebook ads ($250+) on top of 10-20% of your overall ad budget. At CreatiVix Media, we see paid and organic social media as the only way to truly move forward (that’s how we’ve gotten massive results, like 147% in increased engagement on Facebook and per-post engagement on Instagram up 62%… in four weeks or less) so we don’t charge any additional fees for Facebook, Instagram or Twitter ads. We include those in the offering in every package of 20 hours per month or more.
What About Digital PR and SEO/SEM?
Digital PR is often NOT included in social media marketing packages but, again, I built CreatiVix Media to be the “Vix” to the norm and so we do see digital PR as part of the strategy. That includes weekly pitches for features, podcast/radio appearances and guest posts, curation of influencers to engage with for paid and organic content curation opportunities (basically, when someone with a larger following than you shares, likes or comments on your post, photo or video), affiliate management and marketing programs to increase the reach of your content and so much more! Most Social Media Marketing agencies charge $2000+ just for strategy! That’s something to really think about before deciding your level of investment and who you’re investing with.
Are Images Included in Social Media Marketing Packages?
Not always but in our packages, we do include a certain number of images per social media platform in every, single offering we have. Often, the biggest results come from a clean branding image and, lucky for you, I not only have the Photoshop skills to get the job done, I’ve also got a team of talented illustrators and graphic artists to tap when needed — and pay them out of your monthly budget so there are no additional fees for recurring projects.
As you can see, social media offerings vary in what’s included, what’s not and how companies charge. The most important thing to remember is that you need to invest in what works for you. What will give your brand the biggest return. And what will actually turn followers into clients.