If you told someone ten years ago that you were a blogger, most would look at you with an eyebrow raised, perplexed by what that actually meant… and wondering if you pay your bills.
The blogging world has evolved a lot over the years, and many bloggers, myself included, have been able to get their start in publishing because they proved they can write on a subject and built an online community of engaged fans via a blog.
While the blogging and online business landscape is continuing to evolve and grow at lightning speed, one thing is certain: blogging can lead to opportunities in publishing, if done right.
So, whether you’ve been blogging for years or are just getting started, I want to pass on my best tips for bloggers who consider themselves aspiring authors and hope for a shot in the publishing space.
I’ll break each of these down a bit below!
If you’re just getting started, it can be helpful to start your publishing career off with self-publishing after you’ve built a little bit of a reader base.
There’s a few reasons for this:
When I say understand what a publisher is looking for, I’m focusing specifically on the book idea itself. You might think you have the best idea in the world because it’s close to your heart and means something to you.
I learned quickly in my publishing journey that that’s not enough. Remember, while your book is a message, it is also a product.
So, if a publisher is going to invest in creating a product to sell, they’ll want to know why it would sell, right? It’s just basic business.
Specifically, when it comes to formulating your kick butt book idea, you need to be able to clearly answer two questions:
Make sure that you really think through these questions, research similar books on the market, and consider what will make your book “on trend” with what’s selling well in your genre while still holding its own unique message and standing out from the crowd.
Notice how I didn’t say “audience.”
I find far too many bloggers and influencers way too focused on building an audience and not focused enough on building a community.
An audience is like a bunch of spectators that watch your brand. A community is like a family or circle of great friends that feel connected to you, love your brand, and literally carry its growth on their backs because they just can’t help but share about it and invite other friends into the party.
Now, I’d love to tell you numbers don’t matter but when it comes to getting published, they do. If you’re hoping to get picked up by a publisher, it’s important to understand that this is a business.
When a publisher makes you an offer for a book, they essentially make a calculated estimate of how many books they think they can sell. Gone are the days where an author wrote a book and a publisher handled all the marketing.
A publisher can certainly help with that, and a huge benefit of traditional publishing is that a publishing house is also a distribution channel, getting your book into stores like Barnes and Noble, Target, etc. (something an independent author cannot do on their own).
That said, you are the best, and primary, marketer for your book. It’s not because the publisher doesn’t care, it’s just because it makes sense.
Think about it. Do you buy a book because Harper Collins, a big corporate machine, shares it on their Instagram or advertises it on a billboard? Or do you buy a book because your friends recommended it, or because you saw the author sharing about it and want to support the person who wrote it?
Most of the time, books sell best when authors are deeply invested in the marketing process. You can’t hide in this business and hope to succeed, especially in the world of non-fiction.
You need to build a know, like, and trust factor with an established online community… and they’re much more likely to buy your book if they feel like they know you, right?
In addition to sharing information on your niche expertise and providing value on that subject to your target demographic, you need to regularly show your face and allow your readers to get to know you.
These components MUST exist together.
Far too often, I see bloggers do one or the other.
1. They keep a pretty word-heavy blog and don’t show their face much although they do share a boatload of helpful information. Little to no pictures or personal touches. It’s so information heavy that it can really lack the connection piece. This can make it difficult to transition to a non-fiction author. It’s not to say it can’t be done but remember why people pick up books — sure they want to learn but they also want a story. Information heavy books are tough to sell if they don’t offer any connection or storyline
2. They are suuuuper personal on their blog but offer no real value and have very little focus. In other words, this type of blogger is always sharing her favorite outfits and where she and her husband went to dinner and how cute her dog is and things along those lines… but she’s not exactly providing value, education, or information to help readers solve a problem. It’s just all things lifestyle, and therefore unclear what she’s a “go-to” for… and this can make it tough to stand out in a sea of thousands of other lifestyle bloggers, as well as establish authority in a certain niche.
Both of these approaches can make it tough to break into publishing because neither really establish you as a go-to in an area with a know-like-trust factor.
You really need a blend of both personal and informational content to develop buy in and grow into writing books that your community will want to buy.
Remember, a book deal is a partnership, and begins with a publishing house making a financial investment in you. Publishers are now much more likely to take on authors who already have established audiences they know that they can sell books to.
Don’t be discouraged if you don’t have a big community yet. No one goes from blogger to published author overnight. It takes time to build.
Plus, the key isn’t necessarily a massive audience but an ENGAGED COMMUNITY who care about what you do and the work you create. If you focus your energy on creating a community who will SHOW UP to buy and read your book, as well as share it with friends, you’ll be much more successful, and make a whole lot more impact, as an author.
Is your engagement down? Are you annoyed with the algorithm?
You’re not the only one.
Even with the best strategies, I don’t think any of us are completely immune to the fact that social media apps like Instagram are becoming more and more of a “Pay to Play” space, which makes organic engagement a little tougher.
However, there ARE ways to keep your engagement alive. You just need to put a little system in place for every post (I’m a huge fan of systems, btw).
I’m often asked how I’ve managed to keep my engagement considerably strong even with the changing algorithms, and as a business account.
I’d love to give you a million tips but I’ve always found that I’m more likely to implement and see results if I have one, maybe two, clear steps to take. Even if you do one engagement strategy consistently until you master it – until it becomes second nature – it can be massively helpful.
So, how do you boost your engagement on that post you spent an hour getting just right?
It’s important to know when the majority of your following is online, and when your best engagement times are. Regardless of how big your following is, your post is going to have much more success if you’re publishing it to as many active users as possible.
If you have a Creator or Business account on Instagram, you should be able to see this in your analytics within the app.
If you have not converted your account from a personal account to a Creator or Business on account, you can use other tools like Tailwind, to see these insights.
Once you determine the best time to post, you’ll want to make sure you take full advantage of the engagement window after you hit Publish.
How a post performs in the 20-60 minutes after it is published is crucial to its success (such as whether or not your content be shown to more and more of your following, and possibly even land a spot on the explore page).
The reason this window is crucial because within this time frame, the Instagram algorithm essentially decides if a post is “good” or “bad” based on its initial performance.
The more engagement – likes, comments, saves, and story reshares – a post has, the more it will be distributed. In other words, more of your audience will see it and it has a better chance of showing on your ideal client/potential followers explore page.
So, you’ll want to do these steps for at least 20-30 minutes after posting, which means you probably want to be very strategic about the time you post so that it doesn’t interrupt dinner with your family or a coffee date with a friend.
In other words, don’t just sit there staring at your phone for 20-30 minutes straight if you’re not prepared for it. Set aside that time ahead of time, and if you can’t do it everyday (because you know, you have a life), then only plan to post 3-4 times a week so that you can give the posts you do make a shot at better success instead of posting a ton without actually stewarding that content.
Quality over sub-par quantity will provide more value to your audience anyway.
To maximize your engagement, spend the next 30ish minutes doing the following (rotate through the steps) after you publish a post on your feed.
4. Share your post to your story and try to include a juicy headline or promise that creates curiosity. Remember, people are tapping through their stories quickly. You want to hook them and be super clear about what they’re going to get or answer they’re going to find by reading your post. Here’s an example of one of the many times I’ve done this:
For reference, this video amassed over 77,000 views – more than any IGTV video I’d posted before! It was not a professionally produced video…literally just an iPhone selfie video… but I believe it performed well because I followed these steps and also gave it a super CLEAR title that related to a large part of my audience, as many of them are newlyweds, or in the engagement (or soon to be engaged) season.
5. After sharing in your story, post 3-5 story slides with selfie videos summarizing or diving deeper into a concept you shared in your most recent post. Then, pull a quote from that post and share it as a story slide. Again, people are tapping through stories and scrolling quickly. Lots of people are trying to get them to read their posts or swipe up to read their blog or buy their widget. Also, people remember what’s repeated. So, you need to grab their attention by being IN FRONT of them and REPEATING yourself in a way that doesn’t feel repetitive. In other words, you need to find creative ways to essentially tell them the same thing over a few story slides. So, summarizing or diving deeper with a few slides of selfie videos, as well as a strong quote from the post, can be so powerful in driving people to go check it out!
Here’s an example of how I did both steps 4 and 5 on:
Juicy / Intriguing Heading + Story Series Sharing More Context on the Post I Made
Snuck in a poll for increased engagement 😉
Lastly, after that video series, I added a slide with a quote from the post. This put the same content in front of a follower three times in a row but in three different ways. The more they see it presented in a dynamic way, the more likely it is that they’ll go check it out. Plus, everyone takes action for different reasons. Some may have really resonated with something I shared in the video series, while others may have simply been curious by the big red headline on the first story slide that said, “Sorry not sorry. Needed to be said,” and still others may have really loved the quote shared here and finally been convinced they were missing out if they didn’t check out this post!
Give these steps a try the next time you publish a post and let me know how it goes in the comments below!
I know I’ve shared a lot more about business over the last year or so. And I’m often asked if I’m going to just neglect talking about faith, family, and relationships — the subjects a lot of my content focused on for years.
When I was first asked that question, I didn’t understand why I was being asked… I didn’t have any thought that small business somehow conflicted with those other subjects.
But the more I was asked, the more I realized so many people seem to have this underlying belief that it has to be either/or – either you’re a girl boss or you’re a good Christian wife/mom/etc.
And, if I’m honest, I think I began to subconsciously believe that for a bit, too.
I wrestled with it. At one point I was like, “God, why did you make me so ambitious? Why do I love marketing and business? Why can’t I just love ministry and be content with that?”
And it was almost like God winked back at me like… Don’t put me in a box. Business IS ministry.
I’ve spent hours on phone calls with women in my life who wrestle with the same lie.
One of my friends owns a social media marketing agency, and she loves Jesus, and she expressed the same experience! She told me, “I used to resent the fact that I was so good at social media. That marketing online came easy to me… it felt… I don’t know… unhumble? Is that a word?”
I chuckled. It’s totally a word. And it’s such a real struggle!
I’ve had more women than I can count reach out to me and say they are building this photography business or a blog or a t-shirt company or a marketing agency… but that they feel weird about making more than their husbands, or that they hate the idea of raising their prices, or that marketing themselves on social media feels prideful and very un-Christian of them.
Before I dive into my response to this struggle, or in other words, the 4 core lessons I’ve had to learn over the last year or so, I first want you to understand WHY I believe in small business for women:
One of the biggest reasons I’m a proponent of small business for women is because I think it’s SO incredible that our generation actually has the opportunity to create a job ON THE INTERNET that we can do without having to leave home…
I went to a biz conference a little over a year ago and there were tons of women in their 40’s and 50’s wanting to learn how to do this so they could have more flexibility to be with their middle school / high school age kids before they leave for college.
And I realized that 20 and 30 something women have the opportunity to set this kind of thing up for ourselves before we have kiddos or while they’re still so early on in their lives.
That said, I know it can be a tough balance. So I’ve included 4 lessons I’ve learned over the last year when it comes to being both a boss in my small business, a follower of Jesus, and a wife to my husband.
In other words, being successful as a creative does not make you a bad Christian. In fact, if I believe that it’s true – that I’m made in the image of God and was created to create – then my response to that reality should be to create as well as I possibly can – to do it with excellence and diligence.
Being successful in your career or creative business is not something to feel guilt over. It’s something to steward, and to use to bless your marriage and your family.
Far too many extremely talented and capable women hold their gifts and glorious contributions back from the world — and I think it’s time we change that.
… And that’s okay and good and admirable. Don’t hold yourself back and call it humility. If you’re simply not going for it because you don’t think you *should* … that’s often fear, or false humility.
I think where it gets dangerous is when our goals stop being important things and they start becoming ultimate things… when they are the altar we sacrifice all other values in our life for, that’s when something stops being a goal and starts becoming an idol.
As an achiever, I can struggle with this at times. But that doesn’t mean I have to shame myself for being ambitious.
It simply means I need some boundaries – to be able to look forward and pre-designate hustle seasons and slow seasons, to build some rhythms of rest into our weekly schedule, and to determine non-negotiables ahead of time (what I’ll say yes to and what I’ll say ‘no’ to).
The point is to keep your greater purpose in mind, no matter how much you love your work, by intentionally building your work around your life, not your life around your work.
Keeping even your biggest goals in their proper place will allow you to flourish as a business owner, as a wife, and in your overall life.
You’ll have days where you think you totally suck — either at business or at being a wife.
This is actually normal. Comes with the territory.
One key lesson I’ve had to learn is to not pull discouragement from one area of life into another.
For example, if I have an off day with writing or work, I begin to feel like a failure as a creative. While that’s a lie in and of itself, I also have to be careful not to let that feeling spill over into how I view myself as a Christian or as a wife to my husband.
On the flip side, if I feel like a failure as a wife, I have to be careful not to let that ruin my entire day of work. That’s muuuuch easier said than done, and some days I flat out fail at it. But I think the key here is having an awareness so that we can be a little bit more proactive when we inevitably come face to face with this.
A friend sent me a voice text the other day and asked what she should write about on her personal brand on social media. And I responded by asking her what she loved most or felt like she could talk about for hours.
She said, “I really love God and I also really love business.”
Then, she went on to tell me about how she gets so tripped up combining these things, though, because she knows she’s imperfect and won’t always hit a home run in business… and that she’s afraid to be open about her faith in business because of the fear that if she does mess up, she will somehow misrepresent God.
And I totally understood that tension. I think that pressure can be relevant in both marriage and business as a believer, too.
It’s almost as if when you’re open about your faith, people expect you to be flawless in business or in marriage. You know what I’m talking about don’t you? Those people who think you must just have a perfect marriage.
Or, those… let’s call them “sassy” people who criticize you because of a policy you have in place with your business like, “Well if you were really a christian, you would/wouldn’t do this or that…”
So, here’s what I responded:
“I relate to this on so many levels. It really is a battle. When people know you love God, and when you also create something of your own, there’s that fear of that if you ever mess up or make a bad decision, that’s a reflection of God or affirms people’s beliefs about Christians being hypocrites. But here’s what I realized a few months ago: There is no other way. There’s really no other way to do business as a believer than with God at the center so that HE can cover our imperfections, and ultimately, we are in the business of serving God.
So, I think I just try to keep that perspective that I’m probably going to rub people the wrong way, and there will be times others don’t understand… but I’ve just gotten to a season where I’ve had to accept the fact that it’s going to happen. That doesn’t make it easy when it does. That doesn’t mean I don’t need to vent or cry about it when it does – that’s part of being a human. But I think we actually misrepresent God more when we withhold that part of our identity in our business or work… it’s not to say we need to go beat people over the head with the Bible and be flashy about it… but openly sharing what influences the decisions we make and who we are and how we serve – even if we do that imperfectly and at least open to constantly being refined – that’s not misrepresenting God. I think that’s actually GLORIFYING God…
We are created to create – create a home, create a family, create goods and services to contribute to the flourishing of mankind… so all that to say, I get it. It’s a valid fear. But I think at the end of the day it’s a fear of man… it’s a fear that when I make mistakes or am not as strong as I should be, will people think that’s a representation of God? But if they do… we have to remember that’s the reality of being human. So as long as we’re as open and honest as we can be about the fact that we NEED God in our businesses BECAUSE we’re going to make mistakes, not because we’re somehow immune to making mistakes…
It means I need him all the more to cover and redeem those mistakes. Anyways, I just try to keep that perspective — it’s not easy. But hold onto those components of who you are because they are literally your gifting to the world.”
Long message, I know. But I listened back to it and wrote it down because although I said it, it’s something I need to be reminded of when I begin to feel that pressure to be the perfect leader or wife or creative or business owner simply because I’m open about the fact that I’m a Christian.
If I’ve learned anything, it’s this: the pressure to prove doesn’t come from God. It comes from the mean girl inside of you. And you get to decide how much weight that voice is gonna hold.
So, there you have it. Four lessons I’ve learned being a Creative Writer / Business Owner, a Christian, and a wife.
What do you think? Which lesson stood out or resonates with you most? Tell me in the comments below!
Tell me if this sounds familiar: You used to love, and I mean LOVE, photography.
You’d take pictures of everything and if money were no object, you’d have done it for free for the rest of your life.
You know what that’s like don’t you? The rush of finding a creative outlet and the pure excitement that comes with creating something really awesome and showing all your friends… when you’re freely creating and soaking in every second of it?
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome.
Maybe it’s not photography for you. Maybe it’s painting, or singing, or writing, or something else.
But for simplicity sake, let’s take this example a little further.
As you continued perfecting your craft, you began to get requests to shoot your friends weddings, then friends of friends weddings, and then before you knew it, your passion had turned into a full time job!
And you loved it. You were waking up everyday doing what you love, right?
Then, a few years go by and you’re managing a full blown business – sending invoices, contracts, shooting every weekend, managing money, figuring out taxes, etc.
Slowly, overtime, you begin to burn out on the whole thing.
If it was just the photography piece, you’d probably enjoy it. But throw in all the WORK of running it as a business and the passion and love for the art of photography begins to get lost in it all.
I’ve experienced this in several creative areas… from writing, to bible journaling, and more.
So, how do we avoid it? How do we get back into something we love after we’ve burned out on it?
I’ve found a 3 step system in my own creative work that can be so, so helpful.
Ready for it?
Step 1: Schedule and Take a Sabbatical
Step 2: Find a Way to Do It for Yourself After Your Break
Step 3: Shift What You Monetize Or Outsource What You Don’t Love Doing
Let’s break this down.
When I’ve burned out on creative passions of my own before, it’s usually because I was doing them as a job non-stop.
When you’re building your own career, it’s hard to take breaks because it can feel like the whole weight of everything is on your shoulders. If you stop, the business stops, and if the business stops, you don’t pay rent, you end up on the street and if you end up on the street, your friends all see you as a mega-failure and you don’t eat, and if you don’t eat, you don’t live.
Dramatic, I know. But that’s just truly how it can seem when you’re creating your own thing out of nothing!
But here’s what I’ve had to learn over the years: me taking a break (an actual break, not just a Sunday afternoon to nap) will not ruin my business, especially if I can plan and prepare ahead of time.
My blog will not stop being read because I’m not actively sitting there creating new content 24/7.
And the same is true for you with what you do.
This year, we’ve made it a non-negotiable to schedule in a two week no-work vacation. We’ve chosen to schedule this way in advance because we knew if we didn’t, we wouldn’t prepare for it and I’d never feel “ready” to make it happen.
Schedule your sabbaticals into your year – whether you take a shorter weekend vacation / road-trip once a quarter, one long vacation halfway through the year, or whatever other structure works for you.
Several years ago, I shared a random post on instagram showing my unique highlighting method when it came to taking notes and studying in my journaling bible.
Y’all. People went nuts over it.
I began to get requests to come teach workshops on it at churches, requests for tutorial videos, ebook guides, courses, and more.
I loved the craft and it has blessed my life so much that I said, YES!
It excited me to share a passion of mine with others.
At the time, I didn’t plan on it becoming such a big part of my job. It was just me sharing something that I enjoyed with the world. A unique, creative method. Simple as that.
But once I shared it, it quickly evolved into a job and before I knew it, I started to find that I wasn’t even enjoying the very thing that was so special to me…
Plus, since it had to do with the bible, people often expected me to be a bible teacher, too.
Which, for a season, I tried to do so as not to let anyone down. But regardless of how much praise I got for it or how much demand there was, I quickly realized that was not my path — at least not as a job.
Don’t get me wrong, I love the bible and my faith. I love helping others in this area.
But when it became a job seemingly overnight, I basically lost my love for it.
I spent months wrestling with that. It was as if there was this guilt in me…
Shouldn’t I WANT to teach people the Bible? Isn’t that, like, my duty as a Christian? Isn’t that what a good Christian girl would do?
After seeking a lot of counsel and struggling through it for over a year, I finally realized that the pressure to stick with that as a JOB wasn’t coming from God. It was coming from myself and my fear of what others would think if I stopped doing that as a job.
So I had a decision to make. What was MOST important to me? My love for my ultimate source of Truth (the Bible)… or having a job around it?
I voted for the former – I’d rather have a healthy relationship with God and an authentic faith than live under the pressure to make that a job.
So I chose to take a step back from sharing and creating on it so much, and after taking a little break, focused my energy on studying and reading it for myself alone.
And you know what happened? Everything changed for the better!
The moment I stopped reading the Bible to create content or make a video but instead just for myself and my own heart, I actually began to soak it up again.
And anything I did share something about it publicly came from a place of overflow rather than from a sense of obligation.
Crazy how that works, huh?
This is a tough example because it’s so deeply personal and spiritual but my point is…regardless of what the subject is, I know it can be so easy to burn out on something you once loved when it becomes a job.
And that’s when you have to ask yourself — do I want to or need to do this as a job? Is this a passion I need to monetize? Or, how can I focus on this and do this for myself without the pressure to do it for everyone else?
If it’s photography for you, find a way to get behind the camera FOR FUN and for YOU alone.
If it’s writing, I dare you to write creatively about the last year of your life with the intention to share it with NO ONE.
If it’s hairstyling, take a break from it and try to perfect a new technique just for fun. Get creative with it and don’t feel the pressure to post a tutorial on Instagram or offer it to your clients.
Just do it for fun and for your soul.
Okay, this might be the most important of all the steps (but must come after you go through steps 1 and 2).
Like I touched on with the Bible journaling example, I realized that doing it as a “job” wasn’t really fitting me like I thought it was supposed to.
But I knew I didn’t want to just stop reading or living by the Bible in my work or businesses.
So, I thought… “Hmm, maybe instead of dropping it all together, I could pivot back to my creative small business roots (since my whole journey began with an Etsy shop + a blog) and keep the Bible as my foundation, weaving it into my work and sharing it organically.”
It felt like the best way to preserve by love for the Bible AND my natural aptitude for small business.
To protect my heart and soul from burning out on what’s most important to me (my faith), I took steps to change what my “job” was so that I could get back into what I love without the pressure.
Now, I teach social media and audience growth to entrepreneurs at business conferences, teach on time management and ownership at personal development conferences, and more.
AND I LOVE both my work, and the Bible, again.
I encourage you to do the same for whatever it is for you – if there’s a change you can make to preserve what you love most, make it. Whether that’s a role you can outsource so that you’re not doing it as a full time job (such as shooting weddings as a photographer), then do that. If it’s not, consider switching up what you’re monetizing!
Not overnight, of course, but consider making a pivot so that the thing you love or that’s so close to your heart, doesn’t feel so much like a burden.
Let’s go with the photography example. If you’re burned out on shooting, can you hire an associate photographer to shoot weddings for you so that you can get back into what you love?
Or, if you’ve already done that but the ‘running a photography business’ is what’s weighing on you and making you want nothing to do with a camera, can you switch up what you’re monetizing?
In other words, instead of ‘photography’ being the job, could you consider education or consulting for photographers?
Consider alllll the other skills you’ve acquired through doing photography (just like I did through doing blogging and bible journaling – building social media communities, etc.) and how you might be able to make THAT part the “job” so that you can back into and preserve what’s really sacred and special to you (taking incredible photos) without feeling the pressure of getting paid to do it.
Now I want to hear from you!
Have you ever burned out on something you once loved? How did you get back into it?
Tell me in the comments below!
So you just decided to start your own creative business. You’re excited to get your work out into the world in a more “professional” way than the occasional photos on your social media feed.
You even have your website up and running and you’re ready to get some clients.
And you miiiiight be wondering if you should create a separate Instagram account for your brand spankin’ new (or new and improved) business.
First things first: It’s important to understand that creating a brand and creating a separate instagram page are not always the same thing. A separate brand can exist beneath you as a personal brand, especially if you’re just getting it started.
I actually rarely advise creatives to start a separate instagram page unless what they’re building meets certain criteria. Otherwise, they risk dividing their following instead of serving them all in one cohesive space, and are just giving themselves more work by having more pages to manage.
Without a marketing team or content manager in place, it can be TOUGH to run multiple Instagram pages while also trying to get a business off the ground and serve clients well.
Again, it’s not to say you shouldn’t have a separate Instagram page if the brand you’re building can stand on its own two feet, but after learning through a lot of trial and error in my own journey, I generally advise creatives to develop their personal brand and authority as an expertise in their space (whether that’s as a blogger, photographer, videographer, designer, coach, shop owner, or something else).
I actually did this kind of backwards, meaning I built up an Etsy shop and blog under a “pen name,” SoulScripts, and that’s what I became known for at first because the brand had a very personal voice.
I had only one account for a few years, and I think that’s actually what allowed it to grow. It was focused. People knew what they came to that account for: pretty hand-lettering paired with encouraging, faith-based advice in the captions for young women.
And at the time, it wasn’t as trendy as it is now so it was niche and unique, and that allowed it to grow.
However, I ran into tension with it as time went on and I grew as a writer (and had opportunities to write books) because when I realized it would be important to have a personal brand as an aspiring author and speaker, some people didn’t even know my name. They new SoulScripts and knew me as SoulScripts.
Thankfully, I had shared my face enough within the SoulScripts brand that most knew it was a person behind the brand, and sometimes I’d even get recognized out and about.
Except, I’d get asked, “Hey! Are you SoulScripts?”
After awhile, it started to get a little old. I was like, “Yes, technically, but I mean, well, no, I’m Jordan.”
And that’s when I began to think… Wait a second. It might be time to make a change here. My books aren’t going to have SoulScripts on the cover as the author. They’re going to have my name on the cover as the author.
So, I eventually chose to create another instagram account for my name so I could have a personal brand. I directed people from the SoulScripts page to my personal page if they wanted to follow more of my journey.
It grew quickly but eventually, it began to feel a little repetitive. I was basically micro-blogging and selling sweatshirts on the soulscripts account, and also micro-blogging and sharing my photography work (oh yeah, I had a photography business along the way for a few years, too LOL) on my personal account.
In other words, it was the same person and voice behind both accounts.
So, I made ANOTHER switch and turned the original account (which was also the biggest) that had been me and my voice all along (@soulscripts) and changed the handle to my name @jordanleedooley so I could use that for BOTH writing and personal posts.
I then turned the personal page I had made into a photography page with the handle @simplyjordanlee (my business name was Simply Jordan Lee Photography — don’t ask about the simply… my brother still teases me for that and often calls me “Simply Jordan Lee” as a joke. #brothers
Anyway… then I made a smaller account for @soulscripts and I hired a team member to run it.
That account was dedicated to solely promoting sweatshirts and new merch in our shop, as well as new devotionals or studies that we released. Basically, SoulScripts eventually became more of a stand alone brand rather than solely depending on me, and that worked well.
A couple years later, I phased out of photography and then launched a podcast, and that photography page became a page for my podcast.
For reference, had I not had that account sitting there with 70,000 followers at the time, I likely would not have had a separate page for my podcast.
Do you see what I mean when I say I’ve had a lot of trial and error with this?
And I’ve learned a thing or two along the way.
The benefit? I now have multiple accounts with large followings.
The challenge? We have a lot to manage and I’ve had to hire people to help. And it’s a lot of avatars to try and serve.
So, all this to say, there’s no perfect way or right or wrong way to do this. But I had a heck of a time figuring it out so I’m here to be a little bit of a guiding light, and help you understand what I learned when I had no idea what I was doing when it came to Instagram, so that you can make the best decision for yourself and your awesome brand!
And sometimes it really depends on the direction you desire to take your brand – and I think that’s something to really think and pray about ahead of time (because I honestly just kind of flew by the seat of my pants the first couple years, which is pretty normal, but then I found myself with a bit of a conundrum because I lacked a little clarity on what to focus on and what I really wanted to be doing).
So, if you’re still not sure what to do, I’ve included a few questions to help guide your decision.
Is the voice of the brand your voice (such as the case with the SoulScripts example I shared with you) or is it a voice other than your own? In other words, your brand NEEDS to have a voice to succeed. Is it funny? Deep and personal? Like talking to your best friend? Like talking to a clinician? Teachery? Dry and witty? A combination of a few of these? Is it a made up personality (such as @justaconstructionguy)? Or a group / collective voice with many voices contributing (such as @proverbs31ministries)?
If the voice of the brand is yours, I’d consider keeping everything under one account. A great example of this is my friend Lindsey Roman. She’s a photographer, and the voice of the photography business is her voice.
Contrary to popular belief, you can blend personal and professional, and I’ve actually found it to be more effective when you do because people connect with people before they connect with brands! Let people — yes, even potential clients — feel like your friend!
2. Do you provide the product or service or is it a bigger team?
In other words, is it YOUR hand-lettering, YOUR photography work, or YOUR design work? Do you have a team of associates creating for you or are you the sole creator?
3. What is the Name of business?
If it’s Katy Lee Photography, and you are Katy Lee, then you probably don’t need a separate page for it. It’s you. It’s your name, your brand, etc. You are the voice and service provider and name of the business. Even if you build a team under you, at the end of the day, it’s your craft and unique style. As I mentioned in the first guideline question, my friend Lindsey Roman is a great example of this. She’s a photographer, and the name of her photography business is named after her so she uses one page to share her own personal photos AND to share client work. And it’s done so beautifully! As a creative, you’re usually building a personal brand around a service or work of art, and so it’ll probably be easier for you to manage (and possibly better for your business) not to divide up your audience (and your energy) into two different pages.
If you answered “me” to two out of three of these questions, then I’d say a safe bet is to keep it all on one page for now.
If you begin to feel like you’re trying to serve too many customer avatars on one page, then you can always add another. But from someone who did it backwards and kind of learned the hard way (even though it all worked out in the end), my vote is that the simpler you can keep it in the beginning, the better!
If you need even more help with how to combine these, or what the heck to even say on your page, check out the 8 content types any personal brand or small business NEEDS to have on their feed to provide mega value, explode their engagement, annnnd effectively combine a personal + professional page into one. 🙂
OOF. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is worse than running out of all creative inspiration as a creative entrepreneur. I mean, really, I’d rather hang by my toenails.
Maybe you’ve experienced those creative blocks, too. Where you stare at your screen or your sit in your office with literally NOTHING to say or no ideas of what to create.
Or, maybe you experience what I experience that can be just as bad…
Sometimes, I get stuck because I have SO many ideas and don’t know which one to actually act on.
You ever experience that? UGH. THE WORST.
Anyway, the whole point of this post is to give you my best tips to get those creative juices flowing and find some clarity when you’re feeling stuck. So, I’ve included the top 7 action steps that work for me below.
Let’s say you’re in marketing and you’re totally out of ideas when it comes to creating content for your online community.
Reading a book can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing again… especially if you read for fun and don’t force yourself to be inspired. If you’re forcing yourself to find something, it’s not going to feel very natural or be very strong.
No creative work that is forced will be your best creative work.
So, I’d say read a book for fun but for heaven’s sake, don’t read another book about marketing.
Your brand may teach marketing but your brain is much more complex than that and it may be hitting a creative block because it’s practically begging you to feed it something other than the latest email marketing hack.
Give your brain some Huckleberry Finn or Home Decor inspiration or SOMETHING other than what it constantly has to think about — and what it’s currently striving to come up with material on.
Look, when you’re having a hard time thinking creatively, trying to shove more of the same thing in your brain constantly just drains your brain.
Plus, if you’re reading a book on the very subject you’re trying to think of creative ideas around, the ideas you come up with probably won’t be very unique to you if you’re reading someone else’s teaching on it.
To clarify, I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn from others in your industry. I actually encourage this. But not when you’re thirsting for ideas and lacking creativity. When this happens, it’s time to mix it up.
And watch, as you read about minimalism or parenting or something else, you’ll probably be re-inspired in your own field of expertise. You might read a parenting tip and think, “Oh my gosh! This totally applies to marketing when it comes to nurturing your audience! Why didn’t I think of this before?!”
And before you know it, you’re using parenting principles to help your team or students think about their marketing efforts differently or more strategically.
You have to give your brain a break and let it be re-inspired in areas you normally don’t invest much energy.
You know what’s crazy? I have had some of my best ideas when Matt and I are doing yard work, riding a bike, or painting our chicken coop.
Seriously! I know it sounds crazy but there have been many times where we’re pulling weeds or raking leaves and out of the blue I’m like, “OMG BABE I JUST HAD THE BEST IDEA!” and have to run inside to write it down before I forget.
Ask him, it’s a common thing.
Why is this?
Well, I think it’s similar to the book example. Giving your brain a break and actually doing something other than striving or trying so hard to come up with or figure out the best creative idea for your work is sometimes the very thing your brain needs to be re-inspired!
This has been a really helpful practice for me and works well if people you know fit the avatar of your ideal customer. Many of my peers and friends fit the description of the type of person I create content for every day.
So when I’m lacking creative brain power or struggling to come up with the right thing to create, I try to get together with some of these friends!
Not that this is the only time I get together with them but it makes for a great excuse to call a girls night!
Whether we all go to dinner or watch a movie or grab a cocktail, I find that I’m not only refreshed and re-energized after these meetings but I also walk away with so much inspiration! Listening to my friends and asking them questions about what they’re experiencing not only connects me with my friends but also gives me so much clarity on what my ideal avatar is needing!
So I guess the point here is to spend time with people in your real life to be re-inspired. And it’s a bonus if some of those people are a solid representation of the audience you create for because having face time with them is so, so helpful!
This is such a simple step that I so often forget! Being a creative, I’m ALWAYS wanting to come up with fresh, new ideas and sometimes my brain is like, “Yeah, not today.”
But recently I’ve been combing through content I created last year, or even years earlier, and finding ways to repackage the concepts I was teaching on or sharing on in old posts into content that would be relevant for my audience now.
That way it’s not a total repeat but I’m also not starting with nothing. It gives me a starting point to build on and add to without starting from scratch.
Modifying something you already have can be a great way to get your creative juices flowing again.
Try doing this if you’re a few years into your creative career and running out of ideas when it comes to what to create or say!
As creatives, we can lose creativity when being creative essentially becomes our job.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s the best job ever but SHEESH. Sometimes it can be easy to burn out on the things we love when those things become a job.
So, my best tip in this case is to make something just for fun. Something that you commit not to sell or share… just something for you.
Maybe it’s decorating cookies, or painting a picture for your home, or refinishing your bed’s headboard, or taking a pottery painting class.
Make something for you and only you. Or as a gift for a family member or friend. But don’t make it for your work.
And just watch… you’ll probably be gushing with inspiration for your creative work!
I’ve gotten to a point in my creative career where I just admit to being stuck and talk with fellow creatives, mentors, and my husband about what I’m experiencing.
I ask for feedback, ideas, and advice. My mom (also a creative and entrepreneur) and I have been known to have 2+ hour phone calls trying to solve the world’s problems AKA working through possible ideas or solutions to my creative blocks.
She offers feedback on my very raw and undeveloped ideas, and also helps me develop or strengthen them.
I have other author and business friends who I also call or voice message when I’m just not getting anywhere.
Sometimes just talking through it and flushing it out with others who get it is enough to help me get out of my head and be inspired again.
This seems so obvious but can be so hard. If I’m on a deadline for a book manuscript or project and racking my brain for ideas, stopping what I’m doing and moving to a different environment sometimes feels like the least productive thing I can do.
I have stuff to get done and I need to be in my office!
But when I actually get off my butt and take a few minutes to go downstairs to make a cup of coffee, or take the dog for a walk, or even go grab lunch at my favorite local southern restaurant, I find that creativity sometimes comes back to me.
Regularly changing your environment, getting your eyes off your computer, and moving your booty can be such a simple but game-changing practice.
Okay, your turn! How do you get reinspired when you hit a creative brick wall?
Tell me in the comments below!
Wouldn’t it be awesome if you and I could hop on the phone for a coaching call? Ugh I wish.
If there were more hours in the day, I’d love to hop on coaching calls with every single one of the women in this community and answer all your burning questions.
Sadly, there’s a limit on the number of hours, let alone open hours, in my life sooo I decided to try the next best thing and write what I would tell you if I were on a coaching call with you and you asked me one of the questions I get asked at least once a week:
“J, I’ve started a lifestyle blog or podcast and want to talk about all the things I love… how do I pick a niche without giving up all my passions?”
Let’s say you have a lot of experience and have had some success when it comes to finances.
Perhaps you’ve found ways to pay off a massive debt in a shorter amount of time than was required (like your student loans), have a degree in finance, and are a wicked smart negotiator or bargain shopper.
Budgeting and bargaining are practically your expertise, and your friends are always coming to you for money-saving hacks or budget friendly ideas. You know you’ve got the whole money thing down, and that if you focused your blog on that, you could really help a lot of people.
However, you’re conflicted because you are more drawn to the idea of starting a lifestyle blog so you can talk about everything you love… shoes, travel, fitness, family, home decor, etc.
You may not be an expert at home decor or travel but you do enjoy them and want to talk about them.
Great! Then talk about them. Start the lifestyle blog BUT do not market it as a lifestyle blog where you have all these different categories as stand alone and separate categories. If you want to talk about a variety of subjects, that’s absolutely fine but you need to have a common denominator that ties them all together for a specific type of customer avatar.
Your common denominator, in this case, could be money for millennial wives.
Think about it. Why couldn’t you teach about shopping for designer shoes on a budget, traveling on a budget, how to eat healthy on a budget, money tips for married couples, and home decor hacks on on a budget?
Speaking about these subjects you care about AS THEY RELATE to your niche subject establishes you as a trusted authority in an area you have had success and experience in, and gives your content some clear focus and speaks to a specific demographic without limiting your ability to write or speak on what you are passionate about.
Always ask yourself, how can I teach on this subject as it relates to my expertise or core niche?
Here’s a visual of how this works:
When I first started my blog, my niche was Christian Advice for Millennial Women. I talked about a few subtopics consistently: dating, health, and creativity (bible journaling, etsy, etc).
Setting it up this way is strategic because it keeps your content interesting while still speaking directly to a clear audience with a common interest.
Another thing I want to say is that you are allowed to be a human and talk about subjects you’re passionate about and that are relevant to your ideal audience so long as you have a solid portion of your content that loops in the common denominator.
You don’t have to only talk about 1 thing 24/7 but you also shouldn’t try to be the “Everything Girl,” ESPECIALLY when you’re just starting out.
Share enough variety that you connect with people on a human to human level without totally confusing them, either.
And if you’re having a really hard time coming up with a topic or niche to focus on, I recommend considering two key components and combining them:
If you have the most experience or knowledge with finances but you REALLY care about home and family, maybe your niche is “Money Tips for the Modern Family.”
Or perhaps you have the most experience with Pilates because you’ve been a Pilates instructor for years buuut you’ve kind of lost your passion for it. But you really care about parenting and motherhood and want to start a blog on that.
Sis, don’t throw out your expertise just because you aren’t as passionate about it! This very thing can help you stand out from all the other parenting podcasts (or blogs) that exist. Start by weaving it into your passion so you have something unique to bring to the table, “Pilates and Parenting Tips for New Mamas.”
See how this works? Including your expertise will help you stand out in your space if you creatively combine it with the thing you really care about.
Are you a multi-passionate creative? What do you think your niche focus is going to be? Or what is it currently?
Which subjects do you care about that you can work on relating to and sharing on as they relate to your core subject matter?
Do you have a big dream that seems totally out of reach given your current schedule? Maybe you’ve been really wanting to start that Etsy shop or web design business but with your current job, family needs, home projects, and extra commitments… there’s not much time left to squeeze in another thing.
Plus, if you’re anything like me, you tend to overcommit yourself. Personally, this year’s big resolution is to allow more time for rest and taking care of myself by making room for margin.
Maybe you’re in a similar boat.
Look, I get it. On the one hand, you want to be careful not to overcommit yourself because your hands are already pretty full. But on the other hand, you don’t want to keep putting off your dreams.
You just KNOW this is your year to finally go for it… it’s just finding time to actually start that’s a problem.
I’ve been in your shoes.
At the beginning of 2019, I KNEW I wanted to start my online school for creative female entrepreneurs buuuut I also had 4 arms to my business going (my shop, my podcast, 1:1 business coaching, and speaking).
On top of that, I was getting ready to launch my book and go on a national book tour in the Spring.
It didn’t exactly seem like the ideal time to add on my next creative endeavor.
My plate was already so full. However, I knew in my gut that I at least needed to move in that direction because I had been putting it off for over a year at that point even if I wasn’t going to be able to really develop the full vision right away.
So you know what I did? I looked at the whole year and made a plan. I decided to give my all to stewarding what was already on my plate, and slowly but surely shifting things around to make room in the first three quarters of the year so that I’d be ready to take the first step in quarter 4.
When quarter 4 rolled around, I didn’t build out a full website or have a massive business built ready to rock and roll. Not even in the slightest.
I simply made the announcement to my community and offered a short one time group coaching program to kick it off without a super long term commitment on my part. I had to give four weeks – and I learned a lot from those four weeks!
Not only did those who took the program get some incredible results but I did as well! That small start helped me see what my community REALLY needs and how I could dedicate the following year to developing tools and resources to meeting those needs.
So, if you have a vision for the creative business you want to start but feel like you have no time… I’ve got 4 incredibly important tips for you.
This is just a fact. You may not be able to make the time to go all in within the next three months of your life, and that’s okay.
Think bigger picture. Look ahead to the next 12 months and pick the 90 day window where you can commit to taking the first steps to really getting it going (even if you still can’t go all in).
The point I’m trying to make is that you, and only you, are responsible for investing in your dream. And the most important investment you can make into your dream is TIME. More specifically committed time (like my 4 week coaching program in Q4 example!).
Look at the next year in 90 day increments (did you know our brains are biologically wired to operate in 90 day increments? We get bored if we try to do the same thing for too long). Consider what you’ll dedicate the bulk of your free time to in each 90 day window. If it’s not Quarter 1, could it be Quarter 2 and 3? What steps would you need to take to prepare for that?
To really invest time and energy into this, ask yourself this very important question: What Can I Let Go and What Do I Want to Grow?
Can you let go of Netflix for 90 days in Quarter 3 and dedicate that time to building your dream? What does your answer to this question look like and which 90 day period of the year will you commit to this discipline?
I know all the motivational gurus are telling you to take BIG, MASSIVE ACTION. And sometimes, that’s what it takes. There are certainly times we just have to take a big step or make the leap.
But more often than not, especially for the busy, everyday woman just trying to pay her bills without giving up on her dreams, taking massive action just isn’t realistic.
This is why my mantra is incremental, implementable, imperfect action. In other words, what is ONE thing you can do to move 1% closer to starting that creative business dream even if you’re not actually starting it yet?
A friend of mine that I had on my podcast not too long ago shared a great example on this. She said, “As a mental health counselor with a dream to be a writer, I knew I wanted to do more writing on mental health buuuut my workload as a counselor was already overwhelming… I knew it wasn’t something I could really pursue full time in the near future. So, I focused on doing one tiny thing that would allow me to move a little closer to the dream without abandoning all stability: I’d write one caption on mental health content per week for the next few months.”
She shared that doing that allowed her to fulfill that passion a little bit, and begin establishing her as an authority on the subject online, without having to give TOO much time or go all in.
Look, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing when you’re just starting out! What can you do that would move you 1% closer to what you want to do?
To piggyback off the last point, sometimes the best incremental action step you can take is to MAKE A PLAN.
Us creatives are FULL of big ideas and not always so savvy when it comes to planning… and without a plan, those big ideas can sometimes overwhelm us, right?
So, I’d recommend that the one incremental step you take is to actually put pen to paper and create a business plan for yourself so that you have a roadmap to follow step by step!
This doesn’t require you to launch or start the operations of the business overnight but it will help you get a clearer picture of what you’re going for, who you’re aiming to serve, and what you need to do first, second, third, etc.
Once you have a business plan, you can begin to formulate a bit more of an action plan.
Last but not least, even if you’re not quite ready to go all in, I highly recommend you go to the store and buy yourself a note-pad or journal dedicated solely to your creative business dreams and ideas.
When you have an idea for something you want to create or launch in the middle of the night or while you’re at work, WRITE IT DOWN in the dream notebook.
Then, when it comes time to really dip your toe in the water and start the business as a side hustle, you can go through your ideas and start with the one that’s most practical for you to implement FIRST.
This is a tool that has helped my non-stop brain keep my ideas organized without having to totally alter the whole business plan every time I have a new idea.
Once you’ve had a chance to watch the video, we’d love to hear from you:
Drop your answers in the comments below!
I can say this honestly: Podcasting changed my life and business.
After successfully launching a podcast, it literally changed my trajectory with publishing, helped me sell more books, and build my network.
That’s a story for another time but the point is that podcasting can be a great alternative to a blog (and often works in tandem with a blog) as a lead generating source, a way to highlight your niche expertise, build your audience and customer base, and make money.
For now, I want to focus on the monetization piece of podcasting because this is a subject I’m regularly asked about.
For now, I want to focus on the monetization piece of podcasting because this is a subject I’m regularly asked about.
Let’s unpack each one – how they work, the pros and cons, etc. – so you can select the best plan of action.
This is the traditional blog / podcast monetization method, and probably what you’re most familiar with when you think of how bloggers or podcasters earn money.
Now, when it comes to podcasting, this can be a really lucrative route IF you have a big audience established.
I use this monetization method on my podcast but rarely on my social media and blog. If you scroll through my instagram, you might see one sponsored post a year.
I have companies reach out and offer me thousands of dollars to share about their businesses on a weekly basis, and I could make a nice chunk of change by saying yes to everyone who asks.
Instead, I have a rule: The one place I’ll advertise for other brands consistently is on my podcast, so long as I can advertise my own products and offerings as much as, if not more than, I share about other brands.
Advertising like this is really only sustainable if you have a high volume of listeners, and although I did used to do it now and then on the podcast, I didn’t get more serious about this until we began averaging around 55,000 downloads per episode.
The benefit of taking on sponsorships and ads when it comes to podcasting is that it’s a sliver of the whole piece of content. This is why I’m willing to do it there versus on Instagram.
On Instagram, the ad is the entire piece of content, so I try to avoid doing this unless I really, really love the product or brand.
The benefit of this method: it allows you to monetize and sustain all the time you invest into creating, paying editors, etc. and is especially helpful in a season where you don’t have many of your own offerings available.
The challenge with this method: It requires that you have a pretty big listener base established (the rate for ads is about $18-25 per 1,000 downloads per episode and the average podcast gets only 140 downloads per episode). In other words, you really need to have high volume for this to be a route that keeps your lights on.
Do the math.
Say company A is willing to pay you $20 per 1,000 downloads on an episode.
If you average 5,000 downloads on an episode, you’d make $20 x 5 = $100 for running that ad.
$100 per episode might be nice spending money but it’s not going to replace your 9-5.
If you average 10,000 downloads per episode, you’d make $20 x 10 = $200 for running that ad.
Not bad but still not as much as you could make with a much smaller audience using another monetization route.
Unless you already have a really large and loyal following, this is not always the best way to go about things. Why?
Because you have to be in the top 1-3% of podcasts for this to be sustainable (over 50,000 downloads per episode), and you’re relying on someone else’s business.
You’re pouring energy and putting work into growing your audience for people to click away or go buy something from someone else. You’re spending all this time pouring into your content only to lead people to go somewhere else.
That’s not to say you shouldn’t ever use this method. I mean, I use it!
However, it’s important to understand that if you’re just starting off and don’t have a large audience yet, there are other ways to do this that can be much more profitable and sustainable for you.
Okay, monetization method number 2 is to offer your own services. I ran a photography business for two years, so I’m pretty familiar with this kind of work.
Monetization method number 2 is to offer your own services. I ran a photography business for two years, and since I often say podcasting is essentially of like audio blogging, I’ll make the connection by saying that although I did not have a podcast at the time, I DID have a blog for this business, and I often shared about my photography sessions on my blog, which helped me get clients (which also supported my blog financially).
The benefit of this method: Compared to the last method, you can charge WAY more, and make much more with a smaller audience.
Instead of having to rack up thousands of downloads to make maaaybe $20 per 1,000 downloads, you could offer a service that you charge $2,000-4,000 dollars for.
Let’s do the math.
If you averaged about 2,000 listeners per podcast episode and went the advertising route at the $20 per 1,000 listens price point, you’d make $40 for running an ad on that episode. Even if you ran 3 midroll ads at this rate, you’d still only make $120 for that episode.
If you have 52 episodes a year, which equals one episode per week, and ran 3 midroll ads on each episode at that rate, you’d ultimately make $6,240 with ads in a year (before taxes and expenses).
Great supplemental income but not exactly a salary.
Now, if you averaged 2,000 listeners per episode and pointed people to your web design services, you could safely estimate that about 2% would take you up on your offer.
That’s 40 people. If 40 of your listeners, over the course of the entire year, purchased your $2000 web design package, that would be 40 x 2,000 = $80,000 in a year.
That’s a difference of $73,760!
THAT is sustainable, and a GREAT method to consider if you don’t have a big audience but you DO have a service to offer.
You’d want to make sure you target your shows content toward those who would need the kind of service you offer. If it were web design, then creating a podcast for new business owners or mom-preneurs would be a great best plan of action.
See how this works? If you’re a service-based entrepreneur with a small but engaged following, either on IG or Facebook or your email list, and find that you’re wanting to podcast, this can be a great way to serve your community in a new way — and put some coin in your pocket!
Plus, if you have 2,000 active listeners on your podcast vs 2,000 followers on instagram, you’re much more likely to be able to sell more thorugh your podcast because those 2,000 people are actually LISTENING to your show.
Only about 3% of your instagram following will actually see your instagram posts, which is about 60 people per post vs 2,000 listens per podcast episode.
See the difference?
The problem with this method: The challenge with going this route is that you do have a capacity, or a ceiling, if you will. You can only charge so much and you only have so much time in the day. In order to make more money, you have to take on more clients. But we know this isn’t always possible because you have 24 hours in a day.
Even with a team, this is a method that trades time for money and you can’t take on a million clients to reach your higher revenue goals. You have to draw the line somewhere.
So, if you’re just looking to create a sustainable income and escape your current 9-5 and do something you’re passionate about (like creating content in your pajamas at home), this is a great starting point!
But if you’re at a point where you’re really wanting to really scale your revenue, I wouldn’t make this your only plan of action.
My very first online business was an Etsy shop where I sold physical products like mugs, canvases, and t-shirts.
Here are a few pictures from that shop!
I started the shop as a college student so the few thousand dollars the shop began to make every month felt like winning the lottery! I mean, I made the switch from Ramen to Chipotle, which seemed like a pretty solid upgrade (especially with that extra guac) 😉
Okay, okay, I’m being dramatic. But my point is that the shop certainly did well, especially for a senior in college.
However, the more orders that came in equalled more work for me.
The more it grew, the more late nights my friends and I spent packaging items until 2 am (which was fun in college but I quickly realized wasn’t very sustainable), the more refund request or damaged item emails had to be answered, and the more money had to be invested in inventory.
The more items I sold, the more time and work was required of me. And I still had homework to get done and a life to live.
I loved that little shop but I knew that going forward after I graduated, I might need to find something a little more sustainable.
Which leads me to the benefits and the problems with monetizing your podcast (or blog) with this method.
The benefit of this method: The great thing about this method over something like using ads or affiliate links is that you’re building YOUR own business.
You’re leading people to YOUR products and acquiring your own customers. When you convert someone from follower or fan into a paying customer, and serve them well, they’re much more likely to be a recurring customer.
I have a friend that owns an incredibly profitable clothing shop (and she runs it way better than I ran my Etsy shop in college, although she started out scrappy just like any one of us) and a few weeks ago, Matt and I visited her and her husband’s house for dinner and she shared that a lot of their business revenue comes from repeat customers.
As we devoured dessert, she said, “You guys wouldn’t believe how many of our customers shop every week or every other week. We recognize so many of their names now!”
WOW. Every week? That’s customer loyalty right there.
She’s created a product people really love and they come back for more and tell their friends.
They’ve really expanded their team at this point, have an efficient system in place and therefore, have been able to build a very sustainable physical product based business.
With the right systems and people, it can be a really great thing if this is your dream!
The challenge with this method: The hard part about monetizing this way is that the cost goes up as the sales go up. It takes more labor, time, and financial investment to sell 100 shirts than it does to sell 1.
Like I shared with my own Etsy shop, as orders and revenue grew, so did the investment of labor, time, money, and energy.
Same with my friend’s shop – the first couple years for them were a lot like my Etsy experience… packing and shipping out of their garage and living room, hiring friends to lend a hand, and hustling until all hours of the night to keep up with orders.
In this model, more money/sales = more time and labor.
I’d like to point out that there’s nothing *wrong* with this as a monetization model.
You can have have a very successful physical product business, and I’m a HUGE fan of small shops and boutiques.
However, in this article, we’re talking about it in the context of monetizing a podcast.
If you’re looking at it purely logically, you need to remember that a podcast is an investment of time to plan, produce, and promote. So you need to be thinking in terms of time, not just dollars, as a currency.
If you’re considering monetizing a podcast by selling physical products, make sure you set an expectation.
Let’s say you sell sweaters at $50 a piece and you have 2,000 listeners on your podcast. If you can expect about 2% (40 listeners) of them to convert over the course of the year, you could expect to make about 40 x $50 = $2000 in revenue.
Remember, each one of those sweatshirts have costs to sell (labor, packaging, printing, etc.) so that’s GROSS revenue, not net profit. After factoring out the cost per item, it would be less.
It’s important to note that this is under the assumption that your podcast doesn’t grow. But even if it doubled in listenership over the course of the year, you’d probably find that your sweater sales aren’t keeping your lights on by themselves.
Similar to services, this approach also has a capacity. More sales means more demand on your time and you only have so much time in a day (until you have to hire help but then that eats into your profits).
Bottom line, this method can certainly make great side income but would need to be used in tandem with a larger business plan to be sustainable – especially for shows with smaller audiences.
These can be templates, presets, ecourses, ebooks, stock photos, and more. While selling e-courses are definitely the most profitable because you can usually charge the most, I recommend starting with something simpler to begin with (such as an ebook or template).
The benefit of this method: I saw the power of digital products when I made and sold my first ebook in 2016. I charged $10 for it but sold over $10,000 worth of them within a month or two… with no overhead expenses per item.
At the time, my audience was much smaller than it is now but it still really, really worked.
But what I want to point out is that the amount of time, energy, and financial investment it cost me to sell 1 ebook was equivalent to the amount of time, energy, and financial investment it cost me to sell 100 ebooks.
With the exception of a few customer service emails (and many emails thanking me for the ebook) to respond to, the amount of work I had to do didn’t go up much whether I sold 1, 100, or 1,000 copies.
This allowed me to have some freed up capital and working cash-flow to hire a part time assistant, take on more speaking gigs to get practice, and more.
That was not the case with physical product. The more orders I got for physical products, the more work there was to do and inventory there was to buy.
The incredible thing about e-products is that you create them once and you’re done. There’s no storage costs, overhead costs, or inventory cost.
You invest time up front to create, pay an editor or proofreader to review, might purchase some design elements (also digital products someone is making money on ;), and pay a small monthly fee for a Shopify Lite account… and you can sell limitless amounts without those costs going up.
You can honestly create an ebook for an upfront investment of about $50-$60 and a few hours of your time but can sell a limitless amount of them.
Pretty awesome, huh? I truly believe digital products are the future, and selling your own can be the BEST way to monetize a blog or a podcast.
Again, an ebook may not be what makes the MOST money on your podcast but this is a great place to start with digital products before graduating on to courses. Partly because it’s less production and takes less time for you but also because it helps you acquire customers, deliver them value on your niche expertise, and warm up your audience to buying digital resources from you.
If you think of digital products like dating, it makes sense to start with something a little smaller, right?
Think of your free content (blogs, IG captions, episodes) as your first meeting, your lower priced digital product like your first date, and your higher priced digital product (like a course) as the proposal.
This is why I say starting with a lower priced digital product is a more natural customer acquisition tool. If you met someone on the street and immediately asked them to marry you, they’d probably run away, right?
That’s a big commitment – especially with someone you barely know and certainly don’t have any reason to trust yet!
But if you met someone and asked them on a coffee date, they’re much more likely to say yes, right?
That’s a shorter commitment and a safer starting point that makes it easy for them to accept.
The same goes for the digital product-customer relationship.
Here’s what this looks like:
Stepping into the digital information product space, and monetizing your podcast with your own digital products, allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your space, and acquire a limitless amount of customers without always trading your time for money.
The problem with this method: I’ll be honest, it’s tough to find any real problems with this method.
Perhaps the biggest challenge I see with this is getting it started. It takes a little time to build up the “know, like, and trust factor” by creating content on a specific subject for a specific demographic before they’ll be willing to buy information from you.
But if you can stick with it and set this as your big picture goal, you can go really far (and scale your business much bigger) by selling digital products — even to a small audience.
Just for perspective, a friend of mine has an engaged audience of about 6,000 people and sold a $97 digital product that bundled up her expertise and that she spent a few weeks priming them for.
In five days, she made over $15,000!
In FIVE days.
I’m telling you, this stuff works if you do it right.
The problem, though, is that so many creative, talented, knowledgeable women don’t even try!
They self-sabotage when it comes to this because they think things like, “Who would want to learn from me?” or, “It’s not perfect… what will people think?” or, “I’m not a total expert, I can’t sell information on that subject yet…”
All of which are lies.
Why? Because even if you’re not the top expert on a subject, there will always be someone a few steps behind you.
There will always be someone a few steps ahead of you. At the same time, there will always be someone a few steps behind you. Turn around and grab that person’s hand. Or in other words, create content on your podcast (or blogs) and digital products for THAT person.
Get to know them, understand what they want, package up your expertise into a system, process, or framework they can follow… and give it a shot.
You might be surprised by the success you find.
Which monetization method interests you? Which one do you want to try?
Instagram has been a huge component in how I’ve built my brand over the years, and the number one tool that helped me launch a massive bestselling book (even more so than my email list of 200,000 subscribers!).
There are a lot of reasons for this but I’ll save that for another post.
In this article, I want to dive into one of the topics you’ve been asking me in DMs, comments, and more.
It’s a regular occurrence for me to receive messages from my social media followers and friends regarding how I get perfect line breaks in my Instagram captions.
I think people still think Instagram is all about pretty pictures but I can say I have built my dream career and was able to get picked up by the biggest publisher in the world to write a BOOK because I focused just as much, if not more, on creating quality, high-converting captions as I have on photos on Instagram all these years.
Not because I had the best business model.
Not because I sold sweatshirts.
But because I built a sold out community by creating killer content that converts random browsers into loyal followers.
More than that, it’s never a picture that has given me viral growth. It’s the CONTENT below the post.
Here’s an example of one of my viral posts. Not a fancy picture. It was taken with an iPhone on my front porch very spontaneously. But readers connected with the content, shared the content, and I gained thousands of followers as a result.
People have short attention spans. And while a great image is great for capturing their attention, I’ve found both the level of value presented in the caption AS WELL AS the appearance of the caption is equally as important.
Is it easy to read? Presented in digestible, bite-size pieces? Is each piece making them want to read on? Or is it a jumbled mess or one big massive paragraph with no space for the eyes to have a break?
It’s been proven time and time again that people are more likely to read an article in it’s entirety if the paragraphs are broken up into smaller bite size chunks with spacing in between each one.
Why should it be any different with instagram captions?
So, my theory is this: You’ve got to stop their scroll with your photo. You’ve got to suck them in and convert them into raving fans with your captions.
Need a hand creating those bingeworthy captions that suck people in and compel them to share? Download my free guide that breaks down the 8 types of content you NEED on your feed to explode your engagement and grow your fanbase right here.
Now, I’m going to share the EASIEST hack for creating beautiful captions that I’ve found with you because I spent years — YEARS, PEOPLE — trying to find the best way to do this.
Sure, I found dozens of articles full of all sorts of gimmicky ideas that kiiiind of worked… but only sometimes.
You’re probably familiar with some of these tips…
“Write the caption in the notes section in your phone and then copy it into the instagram caption”
“Use this code that creates spaces and paste it in between the lines of text”
If you’re like me, you’re probably familiar with this advice and you’ve probably tried these “hacks,” too.
You’ve probably tried them only to post your caption expecting it to look awesome but then notice some of the lines got messed up because you forgot to put a period at the end of a sentence and now the whole thing looks like a jumbled mess… and it’s published… and people are seeing it. *facepalm*
I honestly don’t know why Instagram hasn’t figured out how to build this into their app yet. I mean, there’s a story filter that makes your face look like a dog but we can’t make clean line breaks in captions?
That logically just doesn’t add up.
ANYWAY, I want to show you a SUPER easy, breezy way to get those line breaks without having to copy and paste weird codes into your captions, or just cross your fingers and hope it all looks good when you hit publish.
I’ve found a fool-proof solution that works every single time.
Know how I found it? Scouring the internet for a solution and digging to what felt like the ends of the earth with a spoon.
But I finally found it. And now I use it every single time I post. I’ve even shared it with influencer friends experiencing the same frustration. This was just one of their reactions:
Okay, okay, so, here’s what I do:
That’s it! It’s super easy with a flawless result every time. You don’t have to worry about punctuation or emojis messing up the spaces.
It creates consistent and perfect line breaks every single time you publish a post.
Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments below!
Can’t wait to see you rock your IG!