social media business

I don’t know about you, but I’m having a bit of a falling-out with the online business coach world. There are so many great resources available for entrepreneurs who are just starting out, but sometimes the sheer volume of information can be overwhelming.

I spend a lot of time online looking at entrepreneurs and understanding their success, and in that time I’ve stumbled across plenty of coaches who take a ‘one size fits all’ approach to how to grow a successful business. There was a recent vogue where every coach said you needed to sell a course, so everyone went out and did just that. Now, it’s all about growing an email list, even if those growing their lists aren’t too sure how they’re going to monetise it and, you know, make money.

The trouble is that when you are confronted with coaches yelling in blog posts that theirs is the one true way, it’s easy to feel lost and confused and end up following the herd.

What I want to show is that there are a multitude of ways to make money from your own business AND change the world in your own way.

I want to fight against the uniform approach of you HAVE to do this or you MUST do that, and focus on what feels good for you and your ambitions.

This is why I’ve started a new series of posts to get to the nitty gritty of how women who I really admire are running banging businesses. In this series I’ll start with some theory around a particular business topic (social media, pricing, products/services, setting goals, branding), then pick an example of a business I swoon over and dissect how they embed this in their business.

The only criteria for the businesses I’ll be profiling? They have to be disruptors in their industry.

They don’t blend in, they don’t follow the crowd, and they stand for strong values on which they won’t compromise.

Want to be a world-changing entrepreneur and believe your business is your revolution? Then let’s get started!

The first topic I wanted to pick is social media. I feel as if there is a lot of talk around picking the right filters for your Instagram photo, or posting regularly in a Facebook group, but sometimes there’s so much focus on the appearances that the key element of social media success goes missing: You.

Social media is called social for a reason. Being social means people connecting with people. To blow up your business using social media, you have to connect with your people. If you have an Instagram page or a Facebook page through which you publicise your products or services, it has to be authentic to you.

This means lots of photos of you interacting with your products and services, working in your workspace, and reading an inspirational article in your favourite magazine.

It does not mean:

– stock photos of a blonde woman when you’re brunette.

– posting pictures of someone else’s workspace and pretending it’s yours as you’re ashamed of your desk.

-only posting photos when you’re on holiday somewhere exotic and feeling suitably #laptoplife. People will warm to you in your day to day images as much as they would love looking at your photos of a beautiful beach and a bottomless Mojito.

By posting on social media about you and your motivation, you will be showing how passionate you are about your business. When I see someone so involved in their business, I trust that the quality of what they are selling will be high because they actually CARE about what they’re selling rather than just doing it for the money.

How does it at Pixiwoo, which is a YouTube channel set up by sisters Nic Haste and Sam Chapman.

They started their YouTube channel almost a decade ago and now have a range of make-up brushes produced with Real Techniques, along with a BBC documentary and a book. Your local drugstore will likely sell their brushes, and each sister has a bustling Instagram page with tons of devoted followers. Sneak a peek at their website here.

Real Techniques

They are both trained make-up artists who through social media have built an engaged community of women who love beauty products and the strong values these women represent. These ladies have worked tirelessly to build their business and are a perfect example of how you can make money from a creative skill.

Without further ado, let’s dive in with what we can learn from them.

1. Be your brand

They started off as make-up artists doing tutorials on YouTube and although they’ve subsequently launched a range of Real Techniques brushes with global appeal, they’ve got clear personal involvement in their products. Each sister has a personal Instagram feed where she demonstrates her make-up skills between snippets of life outside business, and they tour to promote their businesses across the world.

They are their brand, and they don’t hide behind a corporate face to publicise it. They get out and promote it at roadshows and events, representing their brand and genuinely seeming passionate about what they do.

In an age of online businesses and big brands, it’s vital to keep in touch with the people you want to sell to. Someone may come along and try to copy your product, but they can’t copy the way you deliver it.

Real Techniques

Takeaway: Think of how present you are in your brand. Do you hide behind ‘we’ rather than ‘I’ in blog posts? Is your social media full of stock images rather than photos you have taken? Do you get out and physically meet people to be the face of your brand or is all your interaction online?

2. They put in the work to build a consistent social media presence.

Sam and Nic started on YouTube back in 2008 when no-one could have predicted what a valuable platform it would become. I listened to a podcast with them recently where they said that when they started, their friends would wonder why they were working in the evening rather than heading to the pub, but they persisted. Interestingly, in the same podcast Nic said that the same friends are now, 7 years later, starting YouTube channels themselves and wishing they’d done it all those years ago. The sisters saw an opportunity to use social media to build their brand, worked bloody hard at it, and persevered even when YouTube was in its infancy.

This bit is from their website and it sums it up perfectly:

“They were able to pioneer a new platform of makeup artistry… without even realizing that they were on the cusp of something big.” – Real Techniques, About Page.

Takeaway: If you think social media can bring you closer to your audience, work on it every day to bring your dream to life. Set yourself a vision board, get clear on what you want to achieve, and every day take a step towards it.

3. Use social media to follow your own path, not trends.

Their YouTube videos genuinely show two women who just want to help other women develop their make-up skills. They haven’t focussed on making make-up inaccessible to somehow ‘prove’ their expertise, but genuinely want to make it accessible to more women. As a make-up novice, I’ve found it fascinating to see how they clearly explain a whole range of different looks without making me feel as if I’m stupid for not getting it yet.

Most recently, I’ve noticed them doing more work publicly in support of mental health causes, whether it’s representing mental health charities or appearing on a recent podcast where they talk about anxiety. In a beauty industry where plenty of vloggers may not want to bring ‘reality’ into a world full of physical perfection, they’re not afraid to stand out and admit that times can get rough.

Takeaway: is there anything you want to do publicly with your business which you’re scared to pursue because no-one else is doing it? Think of a low-cost way to experiment with what you post on social media; what’s the worst that could happen? Is there a charitable cause which you strongly believe in? Talk about it with your audience, think about how you can get on board and don’t be afraid to speak out for your values.

4. You can build a community on social media without Facebook groups.

Over the last year, I’ve seen lots of business coaches offer tons of advice about building community by launching Facebook groups. These coaches offer great advice to encourage engagement and get your audience on board, but the problem is that they’re so common that being a member of a Facebook group means you get tons of notifications every time you click on Facebook. Instant turn-off.

If you’re trying to build a Facebook group, think about why you’re really doing it. Is it because everyone else is, not so you feel you should? Have a peek around the Real Techniques social media presence. They don’t push a Facebook group, and their mailing list sign-up doesn’t appear in flashing neon colours. Instead, they’ve built a community around their personal Instagram pages and their YouTube page, by responding to viewers’ comments and questions.

They don’t need to encourage engagement on a Facebook page, because they’re dedicating plenty of time to interacting with their community on other platforms already. Sometimes, it can be as simple as taking the time to respond to questions on your existing social media platforms rather than trying to branch into lots of platforms all at once.

“Approachable expertise, friendship and tools from Sam & Nic.” – Real Techniques, About Page.

Takeaway: don’t feel as if you have to have a Facebook group because everyone else does. Think of other ways you can interact with your audience. Reply to Instagram comments, acknowledge blog post comments, and thank your audience on Facebook for their support. Only set up a Facebook group if you believe you can truly offer benefit to your audience which you can’t do elsewhere. If you do launch it, to make it a valuable business tool you’ll need to invest time and be present in the group every day.

5. Give away content for free to build trust.

Nic and Sam have a product line of make-up brushes which makes them money, but they still invest time on their social media in preparing YouTube videos where they impart their make-up wisdom without charging. Sure, they use their make-up brushes so it publicises them incidentally but the brushes are very rarely the central item.

Instead, they genuinely share their skills for free using social media to get closer to their audience. You know they’re passionate and you see that they have skills so build up trust in their brand. The result? You become more likely to purchase one of their brushes in the future. Hurray all round!

Real Techniques

Takeaway: think about what you do to convince your audience that you’re an expert in your field. Do you simply tell them that you’re an expert, or do you show them? If you run a services business like coaching or graphic design, offer your audience valuable content in blog posts. Consider setting aside part of your site to a Resource Library where you offer free access to workbooks and templates. Sell products? Think about how you can demonstrate your product in a way which shows your skills and how it could benefit them.

What do you think of their business model? Are there any revolutionary businesses you’d like to see me cover in the future? Hit me up in the comments!

Here’s to businesses that make waves.

Elisha x



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