This weekend I got to participate in a panel of social influencers for the 2018 MediaCon, a day of workshops and speakers geared toward college students pursuing a career in the media industry.
Who’da thought that my tiny baby following would position me as any kind of influencer?
The great thing about my following - you - is that you’re a highly engaged bunch, emailing me often to ask about products I’ve mentioned, or to share your comments on something I’ve shared.
That’s what an influencer is.
Still, I was like an orange surrounded by a handful of shiny, red apples up there on that panel.
I swear, I heard Sesame Street’s song, “Which One Here Is Not Like The Other” playing in the background as we sat listening to the moderator ask us questions.
The others up there with me were young - early- to mid-20’s - with tens of thousands of followers on their social accounts.
They’re making money hand over fist in their businesses and I was afraid they’d snub me a little bit because of my crusty crows feet and my non-impressive social following numbers. I’ve had this happen before.
But these were a lovely group, and we found that we had similar challenges in our businesses (one in particular that stuck out to me was the fact that we all wear the various hats required to run an online business: writer, website builder, photographer, social media scheduler, and so on, and so on - whereas I figured they all had a huge hired team backing them up.)
The main take-aways I’d like to share with you, whether you’re a tender sapling, just starting out online, or if you’re more *ahem*... seasoned… and are looking to start over:
NetworkJoin organizations so you can meet people, and so you can let them know what work you do. You can’t expect to grow your business if nobody knows about you!
Start A BlogPeople ask me all the time if it’s too late to start a blog and the answer is no. There’s plenty of room in the pool!
Someone said to me after the event this weekend that she wanted to start a blog, but she worried she’s too old. “I’m 39,” she said - almost embarrassed - to which I said, “That’s perfect!”
Listen: the other ladies on that panel with me this weekend brought a lot to the table. They’re young, social media-savvy, and have grown up with the connectivity of the internet.
Like others their age, they have created their own corner of the world wide web, and with their unique voices have captured followers who feel a connection with them.
Know what they didn’t bring to the table? Age. Experience.
I mean, they had experience, don’t get me wrong. Those ladies are rock stars, or they wouldn’t have been up on that stage.
I’m talking about old school experience.
The experience of starting at the very bottom at a big name company, right out of college, working all hours to “pay their dues,” feeling like Cinderella while all the more senior employees get the swag and the party invitations.
The experience of learning tricks to make homework time fun for an elementary school-aged kid who regularly melts down at homework time.
The experience of parenting a teenager through depression or anxiety.
The experience of buying a second home, or putting in a pool, or paying for private school.
Or sending an adult child off to war.
A 20-something social media star is not going to have those life experiences that an older blogger will have.
Do you think any of those girls standing up there with me have ever lived through the pain and humiliation of pulling off their Spanx as they break out into a sweat, hoping they can get the damn things down before their kegals fail to hold pee inside a childbirth-ruined bladder for one tiny second longer?
The beautiful thing about being an older blogger is you have experience that others your age know all too well, and - more importantly - can relate to.
Start a blog. Do it now. There are people out there who want to hear your voice.
Be ConsistentPost to your blog often - daily, if possible, or a few times each week. Over time you’ll start to get a feel for how often is right for you, and you’ll see that when you’re consistent, your following on all social platforms will start to grow.
Don’t be afraid to evolve/course-correctWhen I first started blogging, I was a media planning and buying freelancer and I wrote marketing articles to help get my name out there to grow my business.
I started infusing more and more of my personality into my posts and those were the ones that got the most feedback, which encouraged me to write more of those types of posts (more personal ones that had less and less to do with marketing).
Over time, people started reaching out to me asking for help with their copywriting, and my freelance business evolved into more of a writing business and less of a media planning business.
As a blogger just starting out, I couldn't justify paying for someone to build a website for me, so I taught myself how to build one.
Friends started to reach out to me to ask who did my site, and they’d ask for my help when they found out it was me. I started charging for my time, and then - just as another sort-of natural evolution of my freelance business - I added "website builder" into the services I offer.
Take risks + put yourself out thereTell people what you are doing. Don’t be afraid to announce your new venture or your new plans to the world!
It’s ok to start small. That’s where everyone starts.
Answer the phone when people call to ask you for help. Otherwise the calls might stop coming.
Accept the invitation to speak or mentor or help with a workshop or set up a table at a fair or expo.
You may not be the most experienced one in the room, but you're becoming more and more so each time you put yourself in front of others.
It’s a beautiful time we’re living in, career-wise. We don’t have to get hired at the bottom of the ladder, working year after year to get to the top, anymore.
Just like the other ladies who joined me on the panel this weekend, I didn’t get hired for this job that I have right now.
I created it myself and am working every day to make it exactly the way I want it.