How to market and brand yourself, how to build an online business, monetize and use social media to your advantage?
All valid questions that some have built whole courses around, by becoming a social media guru, promising to teach you how to become a fulltime influencer or turn your socials into a 6 figure business...
Well I'm not about that and this blog is certainly not going to be one of those!
This is however an article talking about how to build an online business, while keeping it authentic, efficient and effective. By optimizing your social media accounts to use them for genuine networking and personal branding.
And with many tips on how to land collaborations with the right partners and sell to your ideal customer.
If you're interested in learning more about that, based on almost 10 years of social media marketing experience and 6 years of successfully running my own business like this, then read on.
Last December was already the 6th anniversary of my online marketing & PR agency; Authentic Chic Travel and Lifestyle PR & Marketing. And I’m happy to say that I’m still going strong, with 2022 having been my most (financially) successful and balanced so far.
But how long does it actually take to build a successful company?
When researched online most say that, in general, small businesses take at least 2 - 3 years to be profitable. And usually become truly successful once they've hit the 7 - 10 year mark.
In my past 6 years as a small business owner I have worked for over 300 clients as a freelance consultant, coach, photographer, social media- and campaign manager and agency, focused on PR- and influencer management.
Besides running this website and my social media accounts @AuthenticChica for over 7,5 years, through which I have worked as a content creator for a curated selection of brands, tourism boards and destinations I love!
After having had a record turnover in 2019, combined with lots of stress and pre-burn-out feelings, I'm proud to say that I have finally found a healthy work-life balance and was able to come out on top with my business. Even while I did take some steps back and had 2 challenging years due to Covid travel restrictions and business limitations.
I find it very important to evaluate and reflect on these things every year, not to brag.
But to learn from my experiences, which I hope you can benefit from too.
That’s why I've written several articles about social media marketing, my life as a ladyboss and lessons learnt the hard way, in the past years. And also shared many things already, I feel you have to consider before starting your own business.
But once you're sure that starting your own business is something you really want to go for too, I'm happy to share even more of my experiences with you!
Some learnt by trial and error, but also many that kept my business viable and profitable with minimal investment in the long run.
These are my 15 main lessons learnt, and in my opinion, the secrets that have kept my (online) business successful the past 6 years;
1. Keep testing & adapting
The online market is constantly changing and influenced by new things. Therefore it’s very important to keep listening to it. Test, analyze and adapt your services accordingly, to meet the current market needs.
2. Social media is your friend
Love social media or hate it, if you use the right platforms, matching to your target group, they can be very useful to your company and personal brand. Social media marketing is (mostly still) free and essential nowadays, especially online, to become top of mind and seen as an expert in your field!
For this it's however also very important to keep analyzing and testing to find out what works for your accounts, per platform and target audience. Once you put in the research, do more of what works, combined with sharing content you're really passionate about, it will become fun and very effective for your company and personal branding.
3. Know your customers
Also essential to effectively leverage social media for your (online) business. Therefore ask yourself, who is your ideal customer (also known as customer persona), research where to find them online, what their needs are and which problems you can solve for them, to create more effective content to truly reach them!
Your social media accounts should be part of your marketing plan. If you integrate this into your marketing approach by creating a content schedule, preparing, creating and recycling content for different platforms you can keep posting consistently. Once you approach it more professionally, it will also become more efficient, effective and fun!
5. Take initiative
Go for what you want and put in the work! Be generous, research where your ideal clients are, go to networking events, fairs, etc. And when you come up with creative ideas you can land new projects / campaigns faster.
On social media it's vital to be outgoing and to reach out to others first, in order to build trust and generate social selling in the long run.
6. Pitch focused & like a pro
Most of my projects and campaigns were generated from ideas I got by asking the right questions during a meeting or call with a potential client.
Many of them don’t even know what they want exactly. That's why you should always prepare, research their company / concept in advance and focus on how you can help them.
If you don't make it too much about you and talk about their needs instead, new campaigns can be born by brainstorming together.
7. Create & provide social proof
Don’t say you’re good at something, prove it by sharing updates about your work, your company, projects and your results, across all platforms.
If you do this consistently eventually you will become top of mind as expert in your field to your network.
8. Ask for feedback/reviews
An easy way to become more confident and create awareness about your unique selling points and services, is to ask for feedback and reviews. Especially after having finished a project.
Do this consistently and share it on social media and your website to generate trust through genuine social proof.
9. Be open & share both the highs + lows
By opening up about your life you will enable people to feel a connection with you. For this, perfection is certainly not needed, as showing your imperfections and sharing your process will generate recognition and more sympathy.
Think in lessons learnt, instead of failures!
10. Make it personal
A general assumption is that you shouldn’t share personal things on your business accounts.
That is however so outdated!
In current times of online overload there's a strong need for personalization and many actually crave connection and recognition. In the end people always work with people!
That's why personal branding is so important and should be integrated into your business and social media updates.
This way you can truly differentiate yourself and create authentic connections faster!
11. Over-deliver & build relationships
I always try to end every project positively by delivering just that bit of extra. This leaves a positive mark and keeps client relationships warm.
When you invest in long-term relationships you can create partnerships instead of one-time projects. You can do this by staying in touch in real life and through social media.
12. Show interest & follow up
As mentioned before, being social and outgoing is key and will make networking fun and come more natural. You can keep it authentic by commenting regularly on your client’s posts, send them relevant info, keep them updated, show interest and schedule a coffee date or catch-up call after a while to ask what else you can do for them!
13. Keep educating yourself
Especially in online marketing and these changing times, with lots of new developments like ChatGpt, remote, hybrid working, etc, things are constantly evolving. So make sure to stay updated in your field by following the right media and thought-leaders for your industry, know your competition, attend webinars and read (marketing) updates.
14. Stay relevant & invest
When doing the research to stay relevant you will also have to invest sometimes. This can speed up your development and make your business even more effective with the right equipment and/or courses. Professionalizing will help you stay on top and an expert in your industry.
15. Create flexibility & versatility
Never put all your eggs in one basket! What really saved me in challenging times, like Covid for example, was the ability to create different income streams, by diversifying my offering to different industries, besides tourism. And my flexibility, because I did not have many fixed costs.
Therefore I would strongly advise you not specialize too much. Leverage both social media, your own website, a newsletter, podcast or anything else that is relevant for your target audience. And don’t invest too much in staff, an expensive office or other things that can prevent you from adapting to tough times, like the past 2 years.
I hope these tips can be helpful to you too and I'm always happy to answer more questions about this. Therefore feel free to connect with me on social media or request a private consult.
I currently only do one-on-one sessions, for which you can contact me via social media or by mail: email@example.com.
On my consultancy website: Authentic Social Media Academy you can also find more info about my services or request a free consultation call, to find out if we’re the right match and how I can help you best.
And for even more free info check out my previous blogs on this social media tips page . Love to hear your feedback and connect!