I was so nervous when I started my blog that I had to devote all of my focus to getting up the nerve to click the publish button. My anxiety was out of control. I was overwhelmed at the thought of people judging me thinking, “Who does she think she is?” After I finally shared my concept with the social media world, I quickly understood that I was a small fish in a global ocean. I began researching how to stand out in an oversaturated market. The more you know, the more you grow. I still wish I had so many of the tools and techniques that I am finding out about every day.
I’m not Instagram famous, yet, but people have asked me about how I keep my blogging approach so effortless. The answer to that questions is that it’s never effortless, and I work hard and at times, it’s bordering obsessive. Through my research, I noticed what separated the popular blogs, small businesses, and online communities from those that were struggling was branding.
Well, because you asked….
People hate to be sold to or feel like they are being asked to do something. When you first create a new venture, your first instinct is to say “read my blog”, “buy my product”, “come to my show”. That tactic isn’t working because you had to ask. A brand isn’t asking you for anything. A brand is welcoming you into a world that you want to be a part of and providing you with an experience that you can’t get anywhere else.
As a kid, you didn’t want name brand cereal because General Mills asked you to buy it. Every cereal has an associated cartoon with their world, and the correlating cartoon had a thirty-second commercial that invited you into their world. Captain Crunch invited you onto his ship, and by the time you got to the grocery you wanted to purchase his cereal. Whatever it is that you are promoting, create a world for it and invite people to experience it. Asking doesn’t create loyalty, it creates disinterest and guilt, and that isn’t a feeling that will create followers or return customers.
You Don’t Know Jack
Everybody knows something, and you may be an expert in your field, but you don’t know what you think you know. I had written stage plays and performed all over the country as a spoken word artist. I knew what it was to get likes and engagement on a social media platform. I even knew how to post a picture on Instagram, but I didn’t know jack! It seemed as though the moment that I wanted people who engaged with me on an everyday basis, and to engage with me on my blog all I heard was crickets.
When people don’t immediately take an interest in your business ventures it can be hard. You can feel like they don’t support you, but before you lash out in a really long Facebook post, stop and think. Maybe you’re taking their support for granted. Don’t complain, get better. Maybe it’s not what you are doing, but how you are doing it. It’s okay to stop and reevaluate the plan and amend some of your tactics. Get more information and read books about how to engage with people. Research your industry. Follow brands that you are loyal to and figure what it is about that brand keeps you coming back. You don’t know jack because you can never know everything.
If you are using Facebook to promote yourself on your personal page ,and you don’t have a business page, create one. A business page has analysis. It tracks how much traffic comes to the page and how many people saw a post. (Facebook has a shady algorithm so be sure to share everything onto your personal page to generate more traffic.) Pay attention to what post work and which post generate the most engagement and adjust your approach.
If you promote more on Instagram, you need to takes some time and research hashtags that relate to what it is you promote. Trust and believe that everything has a hashtag and lucky for us, Instagram now will show you related hashtags. Be sure to pay attention to what time you get the most engagement, you may be posting great content, but you’re posting it when no one is online and that is like talking to an empty room. If you don’t use Instagram I don’t know why not. Facebook limits you to who you know and Instagram limits you to who cares. If you find a way to engage on Instagram with people who are interested in what you are providing you are opening up a world of opportunity for yourself.
ABS (Always Be Selling)
I know I just said people don’t like to be sold. Let me rephrase. People don’t like to feel like they are BEING sold. That doesn’t mean we can’t play to their subconscious. Use social media, don’t let it use you. If you post a cute selfie, make a quick reference to your brand in the caption. Then you seem carefree like, “I’m just out here in enjoying life and oh, by the way, stop by my ______.” You may want to limit how many post you make that don’t pertain to what you have going on. I’m not saying never post personal pictures just try not to oversaturate yourself, or create mixed messages with your brand.
The best example of ABS that I can think of is my super suave and handsome friend Ron . Ron is always selling and he makes it look effortless. He pays close attention to when something is working, and he remains consistent. He started a whole movement with pictures that he would take of himself along with his friends. He posts the pictures and says, “Look Who I Ran Into.” His pictures are always fun, and he is always at a happening spot, so you look forward to seeing where Ron is and who he ran into. Soon he got the suggestion to make, “Look Who I Ran” into a hashtag and into his brand. Once the hashtag grew in popularity, he put the hashtag on t-shirts and they selling like hot cakes!
Do you see how Ron created a world by consistently taking pictures when he went out? He would also tag his friends (which is genius because now his friends and their friends see the picture). Unintentionally, Ron created a soft launch by promoting himself, creating a hashtag, and then launching a product. A soft launch is a business term that refers to the process of establishing a brand before there is a product to sell.
So if you have a business or blog that you want to get started I encourage you to get started now. Even if you don’t have the money or all of the tools you need to get started, start now. The most advantageous part of a soft launch is that you create a loyal following so that when you launch your product there is someone to buy it.
Image is Everything
The scroll is real! The images that you use to brand yourself and your products are essential. The majority of people now access social media on their phone and not on a computer which means your images are being seen on a smaller screen. If your images aren’t clear and compelling than it’s getting scrolled past until something is captivating enough to make the person’s finger stop scrolling long enough to look at what is on their screen.
You have to think about what story you are trying to convey about your brand with the picture that you are about to post. Also, keep in mind that large retailers, national companies, and major brands are also using social media. Their pictures are being styled and photographed by professionals. You’re competing to get engagement in the same newsfeed. If you bake, take pictures of your cakes and make sure that they are in the context of your brand. Style your products and services in a context that people can understand. Create a world and invite people in with your pictures.
I know the thought of competing with the big brands seems overwhelming but work it at your own pace. I borrowed a friends camera when I first started blogging until I could afford the camera I wanted. I’ve seen people create magic with iPhone cameras. You might not be able to use a graphic designer for every promotion, but there are free online options like Canva that will allow you to make anything from a Facebook promotion to a full-size poster.
I still wish to this day that I had known what a soft launch was before I published my blog. Like I said before, the more you know, the more you grow and to that I will add more opportunities will come your way. I am always taking online classes and reading books learning more about photography, business launch strategies, and the fine art of promoting yourself. Like I said, I’m borderline obsessed. If you run into me and get me talking I will probably tell you about the latest podcast about how to grow your Instagram following. Dreams are great and bringing them into reality is hard work, but hopefully from the outside looking in it appears effortless.
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