020: HOW TO BUILD A POWERFUL ONLINE BRAND + BUSINESS
Today’s question for the podcast is one that is very close to my heart:
How do you have the confidence to put yourself out there and reach out to people and brands you want to connect with when you’re so small? I feel like such an idiot to promote myself when I’m so small.
First of all, I wanted to talk about a few techniques or strategies that myself and my clients have used to build a really fast Instagram following. My account at the moment is growing by 100 followers every single week when I keep on top of these strategies, but there are some fundamentals when it comes to growing a following online.
How To Grow An Instagram Following
Be consistent and add value. Those are the two things that you’ll hear from pretty much everyone and they’re the foundation layer of the pyramid. I try to post on Instagram every day, I’ve done that for the past two years (for the most part!), and they’ve always been long-form captions. Everyone is flocking to Instagram, even those who have successful blogs.
Consistency and adding value for me was me really just wanting to get on Instagram to teach everything that I knew about online marketing. And the way I like to explain how I did it was that immediately when I learnt something, I implemented it into my own online presence and shared it. So if you’re just getting started, if you’re new, or even if you’re really successful, you might need to back track and think about who the people are that you want to attract. Who do you even want to be on Instagram? Ask yourself these questions:
What are people struggling with?
What do they really need?
What are they interested in?
What do they want to know?
And it’s not always what you think they want to know. So let’s talk about how to figure out what people need.
How To Figure Out What Your People Need
You can do this through a couple of different ways.
Social media feels like a big platform and it feels like there are a lot of people on there. There are 1 billion people on Instagram and it can feel overwhelming. It can feel hard to start relationships because there are so many people.
I make sure I comment back to every single human that engages on my Instagram account and I recommend doing this even when you get to the point when you’ve got tens of thousands of followers. And I mean every single person, because I’m a big advocate for building relationships. This means you’re going to get to know your audience SO well. If you’re on Instagram right now and you’re just posting and not engaging and you’re not really trying to get to know the people that are there, they’re not going to get to know you.
It’s like a friendship. Let’s say you have this one friend that you always tell your other friends about. The one that’s always there for you and always shows up for you. That makes you want to show up back for that person.
You need to do that online, you need to be there for your people. If you’re doing an Instagram Story poll and people respond back saying they need something in particular and they voted for something, you should actually create that content. Because they voted on it and you heard them. So although it can feel like a one-way conversation, you have to make it a two-way conversation. Whether it’s inside of someone else’s DMs or going on their account and liking their stuff, or even collaborating with people even though it might be way too far out of your comfort zone.
You want to be hiring mentors, joining masterminds, going to events, and having a life that people are interested in. This gives you a really amazing excuse to go create amazing things in your life. It’s about being a person who is interested and also interesting at the same time. (I definitely didn’t come up with that!)
But that’s the thing. We learn as much as we can, we go and implement it and then share it with the world. I’m all about implementing things and sharing what comes up - that’s the game. You need to be there engaging with your audience in the beginning and even in the future you still have to engage with your audience, you have to bring them into your world.
If you’re creating valuable content, those people are probably super excited to engage with you. And it might seem inefficient, but in the long term, the people that I’ve been communicating with, they become clients, they have become clients, they refer their friends, and they are obsessed with the brand and community. This is because I’m constantly making it feel like a family rather than feel like “the Holly show”. It’s not about me. It’s about everyone else and it’s also about how my insight can bring everyone together and elevate everybody else as well.
6 Steps To Create A Month’s Worth Of Social Media Content
This is an actionable process that I want to share with you right now. There are lots of different things you can create online and of course, that depends on your niche. But from what I’ve found, anyone who is showing up as a personal brand, you are the face of your business. So when you make an investment in a coach, you’re making an investment in a person, not just deliverables and services. This is true more than ever now because it’s the time and period of who.
You are important and you have a uniqueness to you that someone else isn’t going to have. Being able to showcase that, your expertise, and your niche on a consistent basis on your feed is what’s going to make it really cohesive for everyone who’s coming to visit your page.
#1 | Monday: Personal Story
I always recommend sharing 1-4 personal stories that you have about your own life experience that connects to your big why. This is the reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, the story that created it or a story that you learnt a lesson from in your life that your audience can also learn.
#2 | Tuesday: Personal Opinion
This is going to be something you stand for, so anything that you believe to be true in your field. Something for me that I believe to be true is that if you are being fully and authentically yourself online as a personal brand and as a small business owner, that is going to be your best long term business move.
This could be something you stand for or something you don’t stand for, but you need to take a stance. You have to have an opinion on something and you have to take one side or the other, you don’t want to be in the middle. Don’t worry about offending people or pushing some people away. If you’re taking a stance in one direction that means the people that are attracted to you are going to be excited about you taking this stance.
#3 | Wednesday: Teach Something
Make sure you’re teaching something specific at least once or twice a week, as much as you possibly can. This is especially important in the beginning because you ned to show your authority. You need to show that you know what you’re talking about and people need to be clear that they can get something from you. They need to want to follow your page because you’re consistently posting something valuable.
There are lots of things you can teach but what are you an expert at? What can you teach? What are some ideas you have? What are things that you need people to know? If you got a new client, what would you teach them?
#4 | Thursday: Pain Point/Struggle
The next thing you want to do is cover a pain or struggle that your client is going through. This could be something that your client is currently experiencing that you can help them work through, understand or shift their perspective. If you’re hitting on any of your clients pain points and you’re talking them through and working through them, that’s going to be really supportive for you and your business.
#5 | Friday: Invitation
This is going to be anything you want people to go and do. Here are some examples:
Listen to your podcast
Leave a comment
Fill out a survey
Read your blog post
Apply for your program
Click the link in your bio
Join your free challenge
Download your free anything!
Don’t forget to talk about what you do, share about your expertise and share that you have things for people to go and do. You don’t want to just keep them in Instagram, you want to call them into action. Remember, people are very distracted, they need at least 8-12 touch points or so before they can finally say yes to you. All they need to know is that you care. Maybe they were listening to your Instagram Stories yesterday when you mentioned your offer but they didn’t have the sound on. You can repeat yourself, it’s not annoying.
#6 | Saturday: Student/Client Testimonial
If you have a service based business or someone that uses your products, you want to share about that. You want to share their success stories, you want to talk about you working with other people, and you want to show your own lifestyle. How are you living the lifestyle? How are you walking the walk? What are you doing? People are interested in how you can help them but they’re also interested in how you’re doing it yourself. Because if they don’t see you living the lifestyle that they want to live, they might not necessarily connect with you as someone they’re going to work with.
The most important thing here is to really take action. I love having this structure and the fact that I’m very familiar with what this process is. I think a lot of business owners or even aspiring business owners out there are just winging it the whole way. They’re unconsciously floating through the realm of entrepreneurship and they’re slowly growing over the years, rather than having a great structure that allows them to be empowered day in day out.
Best Practices & Habits For A Productive Day
Use your weekend effectively
I love talking about schedules and time management, it’s such an important thing for business owners to have structure to their day. Structure for me is freedom, but I also like to have a loose structure. So typically I take Saturdays off completely. Sundays are also mostly off but I do like to plan my week on a Sunday using calendar blocking. I also like planning out my Instagram captions for the week too and if there’s anything in particular I want to talk about on stories.
Block out your time
On Monday I usually have a morning of admin and I usually work out mid-morning. So I’ll start work around 8am after my morning routine and then I’ll go to the gym or work from home around 11am. I don’t keep it really strict because I notice when things are too strict for me, and my body recently has been saying, “yeah let’s get something else done in the morning before we work out.”
I also block out creative time for content creation and I don’t put too much in one day. Instead of putting all my tasks on my Google Calendar I work in blocks and I usually have two blocks per day. So if you’re prioritising content creation or writing, make sure that’s either a full day or half a day for you. If I’m recording a podcast or writing a blog post, I love to be in the creative zone rather than feeling like I have to coach or do logistical things. Being creative is a completely different energetic state.
For coaching, I like to keep all my coaching on the same day or at least split it AM and PM, and again, that’s a completely different energetic state. You’re serving, you’re strategising, you’re creating for someone else. So I organise my week in blocks of things that I’m doing.
Schedule in something for yourself
For me, this can be something as simple as taking Lola out for a walk. I also schedule time in with my family and Tom which is really important, because if I’m not connecting with those people I feel like my week is off. If I’m not exercising, I feel like my week is off. If I’m not spending time with my dog, I feel like my week is off.
Anything that you’re prioritising in your life right now, whether it’s friends, family, fun, self-care, spirituality, business, health - block out time to do those things every single week and create yourself an ideal week. Get an Excel document, think about what your ideal week looks like and list out the things you want to prioritise. Put them into blocks on your calendar and you’ve got your ideal week.
Time management and self-development is so important when you start levelling up because you realise that the little things make a huge difference. And if something’s off, you feel really off. If I notice that I only exercised twice in a week, then my work doesn’t go as well and my mindset isn’t in the best place. As a business owner you need to be sharp, clear, focused, serving, creating and outputting. If you’re not, you’re going to start resenting your business which leads to burnout and then things just start to go downhill from there. Taking care of yourself is a necessity not a luxury.
How to find the belief in yourself
One of the things that I find really excels my mindset in personal growth and business is having self-belief. A question I sometimes ask my clients is: what do you believe to be true about yourself? And I want to give you, the listeners, the chance to jump into my mind right now because I’m going to share some things that I believe about myself. This is going to get you to understand what level of belief you need to play at to really achieve the things that I’ve been able to achieve, but obviously in your own way.
I believe that I am a power being.
I believe that I am building an empire that’s going to impact the world in a massive way and it’s only the beginning.
I believe that I have the ability to help people create a completely different, more confident version of themselves that they didn’t know existed.
I believe that I have a massive heart and connecting with me is a gift because I have so much love to give.
I believe that I am an incredible mentor, friend, family member, and although there are plenty of things to work on, I still believe that I have everything inside of me that I need to be the highest version of myself.
It took me a long time to get to the point where saying all those things I felt were true. In the beginning when you get started, it doesn’t feel like the affirmations that you write down are actually true yet because you haven’t proven them to yourself yet. So if you’re at that place where you’re writing down affirmations and you can’t even imagine saying the things that I said to yourself, start creating goals and reaching them. Start making promises to yourself and keeping them. The more that you can do the things you tell yourself you’re going to do, step into the person you want to be and take action steps towards that, the more you’re going to start validating yourself and seeing that it’s true.
A goal setting coaching exercise
This is a coaching exercise I’m going to start with my 12-week coaching clients. You draw a circle and then inside the circle are your comfortable goals and that’s what you know for sure. You know you’re efficient at this and you know you’re going to achieve this. Then on the outer rim of the circle, you write out some goals called stretch goals. The key here is to write at least 5-10 and then the goal every month is to stretch out to at least one of those goals and give it a shot.
I’m not saying you have to absolutely kill it, but give it a shot. I bet that over a 6 month or a 12 month span you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve grown because what you’re doing is practising stepping into the uncomfortable. And then the uncomfortable becomes the comfortable and then the circle expands. This will help you get excited and motivated because you’ll want to keep expanding your circle.
While I’ve not done this specific exercise, I’ve sort of done it in a way because I’ve actioned things in my business, I’ve launched programs, I’ve done the hard things, I’ve delivered workshops in front of lots of people. I’ve been stretching this whole time and I think to draw it out in front of you is really impactful.
I love the concept behind taking some sort of action steps outside of your comfort zone and I know it’s scary. There are so many things I’ve done that have been terrifying and honestly, back when I was in my late teens my middle name was comfort zone. I did nothing outside of it. I applied for universities that were no longer than an hour away because I’m such a home bird. I did everything that felt comfortable and easy.
Then my English tutor at college when I was 18 told me about a Journalism Masters degree that I could do after my three year undergraduate degree at university and I thought he was insane. But I applied, got on and ended up doing even better on the course than I ever could’ve imagined. That was my first very uncomfortable thing and that’s where I started my blog which is now my business and it’s also where I met Tom and we’re getting married in 7 weeks.
I started doing all these things and then eventually, it all spiralled into being able to have so many opportunities and being able to create so much. Every single step I took, my bubble expanded. And the more you do that, the more you realise that the circle you created, it doesn’t even exist. It’s infinite. There is no upper limit and once you get to that point it’s actually incredible.
3 Skills That Are Crucial For Every Business Owner
Skills are so underestimated and overlooked. A lot of people don’t even want to think about them because they require a little bit of work and discipline. But I wanted to touch on 2-3 skills I’ve worked at and committed to that I use quite often with my brand and my business and think you should consider bringing on board to your toolkit.
This isn’t directly related to business but it’s helped me so much in my business. About a month ago, I started working with a personal trainer. I’ve been following strict workout plans, doing exercises I never thought I could do and lifting heavier than I ever thought I could.
What that creates for me is a sense of discipline and understanding that I can do some very challenging things. Being able to be so consistent with something that’s so challenging for so many people, you have to keep telling yourself that you can and that’s you’re capable. The more you do that, break past the mindset blocks, and then still be so consistent with the diet and workouts - it can relate back to business so easily because there are so many ups and downs.
Instilling that skill of discipline inside of yourself, to be able to stay strong and steadfast and steady inside of the flow and the craziness of life in business is such a powerful skill that’s very overlooked. There are going to be so many challenging things, there’s going to be resistance, mindset blocks, cash flow problems, lead generation problems, there’ll be lulls in certain months of the year, algorithm changes;], there’s going to be all of these things. If you can’t stay steadfast in your body, and skills then you’re going to fall apart.
Writing has changed everything for me in my business. In the beginning, I started writing random posts on my blog and captions on Instagram, and I think the power of writing is so incredible. Someone I follow online is John Romaniello - if you haven’t heard of him he’s an incredible writer. What he teaches essentially is the power of storytelling in writing and why writing is never going to go away. Regardless of how much video content and platforms from video are coming out, writing is still always going to be universal. The skill of writing whether it’s writing a story or actual copywriting, is so so powerful for your business, for your connection and for your brand. It’s not just what you say but how you say it, how you write it and how you put it into words that still really connects with people.
When I first started learning sales, it felt so wrong. A lot of my clients are like me where they’re very heart-centred people. They just want to help and they would do their business for free if they could because they just want to help everybody. That’s the type of person I am and that’s the type of client I tend to attract. But I love finding ways to teach people how to have sales conversations and have enrolment conversations that are a win-win, that are heart centred that don’t feel yucky. They don’t feel like you’re manipulating something, that you’re just trying to convince them to buy from you.
I truly believe that really good sales starts from believing in yourself and your product. If you don’t believe in yourself it’s going to feel like you’re convincing someone because you’re convincing yourself first. You have to have yourself convinced that what you’re putting out is actually going to help people and you believe that you can do it. Once that’s solidified, enrolment conversations become so much easier because you believe that you can actually help them.
Enrolment and sales conversations are just asking really great coaching questions. It gets people to think about what’s really going on in their lives and what’s really going on with the goals they have not yet achieved. And if you are so aware of your ideal client/customer, you’ll hear them say certain things and you’ll know. You’ll know you can help them, that you have the right product for them and that they’re a great fit. There will be some mindset blocks but there’s an other skill that’s underlying all of this: psychology.
Brand strategists are just psychologists. It’s just understanding the way humans work, the way they think, the way they make decisions, where their decisions could be stemming from, the environment that they live in. If you have the skills of understanding humans, you can win at social media, you can win at business and you can win with impacting people.
When people know you care, this is the beginning of a relationship. When they know that you are legitimately there, (not to even just help because help implies that they need to be fixed); but knowing that they have that potential in them and you’re supporting them in putting that out. You’re stimulating new ways of thinking and help them shift into a new perspective. When they leave that call or conversation with you they’ll think, “wow, this person actually challenged me to think differently and I feel different.” There’s something about you that they’ll want more of.
LET’S PUT IT ALTOGETHER:
Shoutout To Our Breakthrough Blogger Of The Week!
Amy Harmon: https://www.livingtheharmonlife.com/
Resources Mentioned In This Episode:
Want access to a library full of online marketing resources plus weekly bitesize breakthroughs to help you boss your online presence? Find it here.
What did you think of the show? Leave a review on iTunes and become the Breakthrough Blogger of the week!
Subscribe to the show and get notified when a new episode goes live.
Come join my free FB group.
Find out more about working with me here.