Wish you a fruitful 2021 and hope you are healthy!
Courtney (@thesweetestlittlelife) is a podcast host, a mother, an author and a coach empowering women to heal & step into purpose. We’ve featured her this week to highlight her admirable mindset when it came to content creating. Read on to learn more about her journey and her super useful tips.
Tips + Advice
Tell us a little about your background. When did you start creating content? What got you to start?
Since I was a little girl I have been a storyteller, I have always had a passion to look for the beauty in all things in life. I have been an entrepreneur since I was 20, starting with an online makeup class which led to me owning two salons and being a makeup artist for MTV. When I began having children I wanted to work from home and began my first blog. It was a total fail and I had no idea what I was doing, the blogging industry was just starting to take off and there was not a ton of resources out there just yet to guide you in basic knowledge of where to start or what to do. When I had my daughter in 2015 I stumbled upon Etsy and loved to craft and so began my little shop. It was really just a hobby to pass the time as my husband was a firefighter so I was home often and needed some outlet to feel as if I was contributing. Instagram had just taken off and officially past up the trending factor on Facebook. I began marketing my Etsy journey on my Instagram starting at a whopping 12 followers and I was blessed to get maybe 3 likes per photo. I ended up on the main page of Etsy one day for a mug I made and overnight my Instagram grew to 1200 followers.
I began to get micro-influencer jobs and when I look back to my post I cringe. (It was cringe-worthy) The photos were grainy, blurry and I looked so awkward. There was no confidence and not a pinch of marketing education or experience. To say I was winging it is an understatement. I hit so many doors, I failed miserably but I saw such potential in the influencer market that I refused to quit. I knew this was going to take off and become the new age of advertising for brands. I started practicing on my stories talking about things I already owned or target try on hauls and my audience started to engage more. I signed up for every class available about learning Instagram analytics and the algorithm. I was consistent and made it a priority to post once a day at my highest engagement time. Let's fast forward within 4 years I grew my following to 69,000, I gave back by serving my audience with how I learned and grew as an entrepreneur. I developed my niche and became crystal clear that I wasn't for everyone and that was ok because when I released that fear I became able to serve my target audience in such an intimate way while still reaching thousands of people.
Do you see creating content as your full-time job or more of a hobby that you do in your free time?
In 2019 I became a sole content creator and as an entrepreneur, I have a few different streams of income but influencing and blogging has become my primary source of income. I have since worked with over 500 brands and developed long term relationships and connections with companies and other influencers. We all support each other and you find your influencer fam to guide you on the days you just feel stuck or need some inspiration.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced or you are facing as a creator/influencer?
Like any career, influencing does have its challenges but the most common one I see with every influencer is imposter syndrome or falling into the comparison game. So often we get that gut-wrenching hit of "Ugh I am not pretty enough" "My pictures suck" "I can't make my feed flow." THESE ARE NORMAL - we have all been there and I am here to tell you it's okay and it passes. Here's what's beautiful - there is only one of you on this entire planet. How freaking special is that? You are not a coincidence you are a freaking miracle. We all have a purpose and a niche to shine in and we all bring something unique to the table. As long as we hold on to this and know that not every brand is going to say yes to us then we are setting ourselves up for success. I have had some of my biggest aha and learning moments by people telling me no. Being the type 3 enneagram that I am it drives me to find a way to better myself through that situation. As long as we have the base of our business being "how can we serve" you are always going to come out golden. How can I serve this brand? How can I serve my audience? How can I bring something to the table to better the collective?
Tips for other creators:
What kinds of tools do you use to stay consistent and active on your social media?
Esthetic and having a flowing feed is really something of the past. Of course, you want it to look appealing and have your brand stand out but videos have become our future. This is such a beautiful way for people to get to know your personality and feel connected to you, which in turns builds trust with your audience as an influencer. My favorite tools for the gram and staying consistent are reels, using Tiktok, and then for the voice-over or more advanced videos, I use an app called Videoshop. For my static post, I use Plann to schedule out my content and batch schedule. I create one week of content at a time and so I spend minimal time on social media and more time creating content and engaging with my audience which is where my passion is at.
What are some of your favorite editing tools? (If you use them)
For editing my photos I use lightroom and Lensa and last but not least for my stories I use an app called Seen which really makes the stories pop, fun and super engaging for my audience.
What are some tips for creators who are just getting started?
When you are just getting started my biggest piece of advice is to not be afraid of what people think of you. Get inspiration but keep it to your brand and your personality. Do not be afraid of the "perfect pitch or being told no" just continue to reach out, be consistent and create quality content. Take each no as a chance to grow and become more of an expert in your niche. There are also several influencer platforms you can join that makes brands reach directly out to you like Aspire iq, Shake, Tapfluence, or if you are looking to do more of affiliate/ link sharing you have companies such as Rewardstyle, Share a sale, Shopyourlikes and Magiclinks which give you commission when someone purchases a link from your post. One of my all-time favorite quotes of entrepreneurship is " Find someone who has what you want and does exactly what they do and you will get exactly what they have." If you are feeling stuck I encourage you to reach out to people who have been successful in your niche and see what they have done which has worked. Most people are more than happy to help you. I also highly suggest investing in yourself and your education when it comes to your niche so you are constantly on top of the ever-changing game.
What kind of advice do you have for creators who are not seeing any progress or success?
I think to see real growth some of the easiest ways to start are making sure you are utilizing all thirty hashtags, join some engagement groups and engaging on your post to boost the algorithm and engagement rate and be timely with your responses. Oftentimes if you research a brand and hashtags they use and then you use the same hashtags you will be found by that brand because they are obviously going to be checking the hashtags to see how they are performing. This is not an easy job by any means. It requires hard work and dedication to succeed.
What are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about you that you’d like to address?
I think huge misconception influencers get is that this is “easy money”. It takes hours to create content, plan it out, come up with engagement strategies, and overall stay on top of managing your brand.
How do you balance your personal and work life?
It is worth it but also important to find that work-life balance. For me, a morning routine is my saving grace. I make sure to not check my phone until I've had water, meditated, moved my body and set my intention for the day. We can waste hours if we do not plan and get super intentional with what our goal is to accomplish every single day. I personally have three kids, homeschool and run 3 different businesses so it's important I batch and plan out what my main focus is for each day. Once you get in the habit of doing this life becomes so much more manageable. We all have the same 24 hours so it is so important to watch how we are spending each minute and be mindful to stay present at the moment in which we are in. If you are ready to take your business to the next level just be kind to yourself, know that it is okay to have a “No”, it is okay to not know the answer, it is okay to feel that imposter syndrome, we just keep putting one foot in front of the other and knowing we have a mountain were climbing and success is a process so it's so important to take pride in the little successes and celebrate your milestones.
Enjoy your journey! I also am always available and offer free 15-minute consults if you ever need a friend to bounce ideas off. (https://calendly.com/thesweetestlittlelife/15min)
Cheers to a successful 2021 of building that brand.
If you are interested in being part of this series, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.