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.
Coach is someone who pushes you forward, helps you solve problems and creates new opportunities that you may not see when you’re so close to your brand, project or offering. But sometimes? Sometimes they’re complete and total bullshit artists who don’t know a thing. Other times? They are brilliant, magical unicorns who transform your business. I’ve dealt with both in my fempreneur journey and this is a tale of the unicorn.
When I launched CreatiVix Media, I was 27 years old. I “only” had a Bachelor’s Degree in Arts (in PRINT journalism of all things), about 8 years of experience under my belt and a whole lot of questions.
The marketing piece, the content piece, the fixing piece? All of those pieces were firmly on my puzzle board.
Even the contracting, closing and business hustling pieces were covered.
And yet, thanks to the conversations in the entrepreneur circles I started to frequent, I felt I was lacking. Lacking the “sparkle” that seemed to make these entrepreneurs validate their highest stars.
There are some things you do in business for market research — download competitors’ opt-ins, understand what the community is looking for in terms of formatting, presentation and so forth… this isn’t what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the constant conversation around coach validation.
I’m sharing this to tell you two things — your Side Hustle Success Story IS waiting for you. And I cannot guarantee many things but I can tell you that I have never steered a client wrong. Things don’t always work but the tests are always so tied to their overall intentions that we get to the goal one way or another and that is the beauty of a good “Vix.”
And how did I figure out those two things? By having a competent business coach.
I don’t believe that people do things maliciously… well, I don’t believe all people do things maliciously. I think some people do but, overall, I think many “incompetent” business owners are just misled themselves by others. It is a pervasive mentality that can hurt entire industries if we are not careful. This post is not about this. This post is about three things you can learn if you find the GOOD people, the unicorns in the sea of sameness, the diamonds in the rough.
I spent the last six months working with Lacey Craig of A Lit Up Life in her Partnership Program. The program is simple — it’s an innovative way to look at coaching — no up front costs, only 15% of income earned during the length of our engagement.
That seemed easy enough. I knew I’d be able to make the money I needed if I had someone on my team. Here’s what else I learned:
Being High Level Pays Off
Working with Lacey was a joy because I didn’t just have someone on my team, I had someone who spoke MY language. I was able to quickly implement the things we discussed — revamping my website in 3 hours in one case — because I had the high-level knowledge and ability to do that. Implementation and execution of ideas is often where coaching felt hollow for me. I wanted someone who would be like my editors of old and Lacey, because she too understood and respected the power of content, was able to provide that quick volley back and forth.
Execution is Key
The ability to execute and quickly (if not immediately) test the things we discussed in our sessions was key. Many entrepreneurs hire coaches expecting them to build their emails and actually do the work of creating their content — and that’s not what business coaches do (however, I’m working to add that to the mix in an innovative way with MY new coaching practice!). What business coaches typically do is share templates for you to implement and keep you on task. They’re a great project manager, something ALL entrepreneurs need. That’s where masterminds come in as well once you’ve got the nuts and bolts down. Execution is a huge missing piece in the space and it took working with a truly competent and confident business coach (Lacey Craig of A Lit Up Life) to learn that and to see how I can help innovate in the space with MY strengths.
Creative Takes a Backseat
This is something I knew going into business coaching but also a theory that was tested and confirmed. Creative does not just mean the act of being creative it also refers to individuals who ARE creative and serve in creative job functions. Creatives (the people) make terrible entrepreneurs because they LOVE creating so much that they’re often willing to undersell themselves, which is bad for business. Being someone with both sides in my mind has been the greatest challenge of my life — understanding how to harness it was how I wrote my #SideHustleSuccessStory and now? Now I coach others to do the same… actually, I’ve been coaching others to do the same for nearly 6 years now, but it took working with a brilliant coach to understand that.
The moral of this story? Hire the right coach for YOUR point in the journey, when you’re ready to do so, not because someone else said you SHOULD.
Working with Lacey allowed me to see that I was qualified and ready to jump into a space I had rejected because it was by INNOVATING in that space that I had previously rejected that I could truly serve people with my level of expertise, connections and more.
Lacey is the queen of innovation and I highly recommend working with her if you’re looking for a coach that gets you and can help get you to open yourself up to the possibilities for YOU to innovate in YOUR industry. We’re not an island, working with others who are competent and qualified makes a HUGE difference in our businesses.
Content should not be free. Unfortunately, the rise of digital properties led to the cannibalization of content. While this buzzwordy phrase is currently making the rounds on social, we’re losing valuable opportunities to create content that truly matters and that is why, if you’re using content, you have to find a way to pay the writer in one way or another.
I am a Huff Post contributor but don’t agree with their model. Why? Because not everyone knows how to maximize the exposure they get from contributing this content. Not everyone knows to syndicate their blog posts to Huff Post for traffic, social brand awareness and more. (Well, if you’re reading this, now YOU do). And that, my dear readers, is BS.
Content makes brands, entrepreneurs and influencers MILLIONS, if not Billions, of dollars every year. Many creators — that is people who write, post and MAKE images, videos, photos and more — never see a dime of that OR even see any social currency and follower growth.
There is a better way
I understand the business logistics of paying every single creator for every piece of content. I understand that it is not a model for every business, HOWEVER, there are ways to pay your writers without actually exchanging any cash.
If YOU want to use free content, here are a few things you can do to contribute to the solution rather than continue the plague.
Giving link love back on social media is a tag or mention, on a website, it’s about linking to their website and articles. It’s about using SOME of your digital klout to mention others and help them increase THEIR influence. An easy way for all brands to do this is to give every contributor at least 1 tag per platform per mention. It could be over the span of 12 months, hell, it could be over the span of 5 years. As long as credit is given, it helps decrease the use of free content
Linking back and link love is great but you can also simple RESHARE a post, giving the author/creator proper attribution from the start. This is very important for videos on social. As videos and vemes become more popular, it is important to share a mention of where you found it and to actually site the creator, not just the source.
If you’re including my contributor article in a newsletter that will net you a profit, some of that profit should be distributed to the writers. This is something that many brands have not started to get into but do need to consider as influencer marketing and content marketing continues to grow.
If you’re ready to use your audience and influence to build your business and your bank account without taking advantage of the creators, let’s talk and figure out ways to syndicate the best creators for YOUR brand objectives.
Instagram is the social media It girl of the moment. It’s a great way to showcase the behind-the-scenes of your business and allows your audience to experience things only YOU can share with them… but it does also have its own unique language, customs and challenges.
If social media is a party, Instagram is the hottest club of the moment. It’s where everyone wants to be and where everyone who is anyone is “seen.” It’s the Meatpacking District of the 90s.
Ok, I get that it’s popular, but what’s the best content to share?
This all depends on YOUR goals.
The best content to share on Instagram is beautiful photos from a Mobile device with filters that work for your audience.
One general tip? Mayfair is the best filter for engagement. Valencia is high up there too.
ColorStory and VSCO Cam are great ways to tap into the filter communities (yes, there are filter communities) and allow you to give your photos a little more pop.
If video is your game, then it’s all about the quick hit. Sixty seconds, no more, no less.
But the best type of content to share on Instagram?
Geo-tagged, authentic content that will engage your audience.
It should be a mix of images, memes/quote cards and videos and should accurately represent who YOU are as a brand.
All in all, it’s about creating a dialogue through images and videos, telling the story of your brand in a way that SELLS.