Tag: Flow

All the Founders Around Me Were Raising Money — Here’s Why I Didn’t

All the Founders Around Me Were Raising Money — Here's Why I Didn't

I always wanted to build something big.

When I started Tech Ladies in 2015 as a coffee meetup in New York City, I could immediately see the potential for it to grow into something larger. As a woman in tech myself, I craved a network to support me through the unique challenges I faced in the workplace. I also realized I was sitting on the answer to the “pipeline problem” that every tech company at the time was claiming prevented them from hiring more women in tech. It seemed like such a simple solution to connect our community with those who wanted to diversify their teams.

Of course, when you’re building something big in tech, most people expect that you’ll raise money to help you grow that big thing faster. While nearly all the founders around me were going the VC route, I decided bootstrapping would be better for us. And now, all these years later, I’m so glad I built it this way.

Don’t get me wrong, there are downsides to bootstrapping your business: You will move slower in staffing up your team, you will operate in lean ways that make you miss out on some opportunities to test at scale, you could lose out to a well-funded competitor who gets market share of what you’re doing (although I find that last one to be somewhat rare). And sure, I had moments when I felt wistful about the glamor of raising venture capital. It would have been nice to have a quick win, to be able to say I raised millions and therefore had a solid idea that important people thought was going to be profitable for them. Sometimes I wished I had a shiny office like all of my founder friends, and the ability to hire right away, staff up, and get this thing as big as we could make it.

But ultimately, none of that stopped our growth. Today, Tech Ladies is the largest community of women in tech with over 150,000 members and generating millions in revenue. We’ve helped hundreds of women find jobs in tech and helped companies diversify their teams. We’ve offered events, training, networking, and resources to women in tech and have had a huge impact in the industry. And I got to do it all without sacrificing my vision (or a percentage of my company).


Here are some of the reasons why bootstrapping was the right path for me and the ways it has helped our company succeed since.

I Proved My Vision Quickly, But It Wasn’t VC Scale

The first indicator that I could bootstrap was the pace at which I started generating revenue that would, in turn, support business growth.

Early on, we started charging companies to place job postings in our weekly newsletter. At the time, the community only had 3,000 members but, because it was an incredible high-quality group of smart women in tech, it was a great pool to hire from. When the postings started bringing in around $5,000 a month and I didn’t have time to reply to every request coming in, I knew it was time to leave my job and work on building Tech Ladies full-time.

Since it seemed like everyone around me was raising money from venture capital firms, I figured I should take a few meetings with some VC connections I had made over the years. From the first meeting, a friendly VC encouraged me to put together a pitch that would promise outsized returns. “How is this a billion dollar company?” he asked. Embarrassingly, I returned with a blank stare and fumbled some answer off the top of my head. Another VC offered me a $50,000 check on the spot if I would just tell him I was “building the LinkedIn for women.”

I went back to my desk later that night and started drafting up some copy around how Tech Ladies could be a billion-dollar business. But everything I wrote felt out of touch with reality, or like a huge exaggeration. When I thought about becoming a massive social network, it didn’t sit right, and I wasn’t sure we could maintain our quality at that scale. I glanced over at the whiteboard next to me where I had clearly mapped out a bootstrapped pathway to make $500,000 our first year, a million after that, and $10 million in the following years. I was the sole owner of this company. Why would I not take a swing at that?

I canceled all the rest of my VC meetings and got back to building.


Going all in on your business without venture capital can be scary. But I asked myself: Do I want to be the founder who burned through $20-30 million in capital trying to build something I don’t totally believe in, or the founder who made even $5-10 million building something smaller but meaningful? Yes, some companies need to raise venture capital because they can’t create revenue until they spend years finalizing their product. But a surprising number can start making an impact (and a profit) quickly. I felt in my gut that was the right path for Tech Ladies.

I’ve Had to Make Everything Work ASAP

As we all know from watching the rise and fall of unicorn startups, raising money actually says very little about whether a company will succeed. Many companies that go the VC route spend a lot of time and money spinning their wheels without ever quite figuring out how to make a profit.

The thing I always tell people about bootstrapping, on the other hand, is that everything has to work. You don’t have six months to ponder revenue models—you have to get to profitability as soon as possible. You don’t have time to debate different strategies—you need to start trying them and see what sticks.

That’s the hard part about bootstrapping, but also the great part. Building a successful company isn’t about getting a few rich people to believe in you, it’s about putting something out into the world that people think is valuable enough to pay for. I’m glad we were forced to figure that out instead of having the money to try a business model for years and have it ultimately not work out.

This isn’t to say we never had failures, we just had to learn from them and adjust very quickly. For example, when you’re bootstrapping it’s very easy to be overprotective of your revenue. After all, that’s your money at the end of the day, so investing it back in the business is another muscle you need to learn to build. For me, one of our biggest mistakes was not hiring full-time people to the team sooner. I think we could have accelerated our growth by about two years if we had made one to two strategic hires, instead of me stubbornly running everything on my own with a few freelancers.

Of course, there were times when I looked at venture-backed companies and dreamed of sitting in their beautiful offices with their massive teams. But I was okay with learning to live without that so I could stay focused on what really matters: the thing we were building and whether it serves people.

I’ve Been Able to Stay Dedicated & Responsive to My Community

Bootstrapping has been especially powerful because I’ve been able to stay focused on our community and our clients as our bosses, rather than having to balance shareholder interests, too.

Like many community-oriented businesses, we have a tight feedback loop with our members and are always paying attention to how we can better serve them. Unlike VC-backed businesses, we can stay really nimble and adjust with our members as their needs change over time. We’ve had instances where we’ve beaten companies with huge amounts of venture capital because we were able to ship something quickly while they were still running things by their biggest investor, putting together reports, and debating the plan.

While they were scaling up global teams that never panned out, we were focused on getting hires for our partners, hosting events that resonated with our community, and building a paid community to help women in tech grow their careers.

Ultimately, my favorite thing about bootstrapping a business is that it's available to everyone and ready for the taking. The only thing holding any of us back is limiting beliefs about what we can build, how we can build it, and if we even deserve it. That’s especially important given that only 2 percent of venture capital funding went to women-owned businesses in 2021. We can talk about all the societal changes that need to happen to fix that—and I’m personally investing my own capital in women-founded companies I believe in—but in the meantime, I hope more founders will stop waiting for permission from the VC powers that be and start working on their ideas on their own terms.

You can build any company you want on the internet right now and make millions of dollars doing it. Why not get started?

Want to learn more of my bootstrapping strategies? Subscribe to my newsletter, Bootstrap to Millions (with Allison), for more regular advice and stories from Tech Ladies’ growth.

https://buffer.com/resources/all-the-founders-were-raising-money-heres-why-i-didnt/

How These Sisters Turned Their Passion for the Alaskan Wilderness into a Fulfilling Small Business

How These Sisters Turned Their Passion for the Alaskan Wilderness into a Fulfilling Small Business

For sisters Anna and Kelly, life was anything but ordinary growing up in Fairbanks, Alaska. On chilly school mornings, as they’d make their way towards the bus stop, it wasn’t uncommon for moose to be idling nearby. Careful not to alert the striking creatures, the girls would nimbly make their way around the animals while somehow still boarding the bus on time.

An encounter like that might be frightening to some, but Anna and Kelly were raised to always respect and appreciate the wildlife they were surrounded by. Living in Alaska, away from relatives, they learned to rely on both their neighbors and the nature around them as their community and family. Now, as adults, they look back at their childhood and appreciate how unique their experience was.

“For a couple of years, we lived in what we call ‘in the village,” Kelly said. “There were a lot of bears where we lived. And every spring, you could walk down to the river and see the blue whales coming up. That time was quite magical for a kid because it's just unlike anything else.”

Their parents always stressed the importance of being present in the moment – something quite easy to do when living near the vastness of the Alaskan wilderness – and intentional in the way they communicate with others. Presence and intentionality were values the girls were raised with and have stayed with them. And while it would take many years before they would eventually open up their own art business, these very principles are what inspired Arctic Haven Studio.

“When we started the business, our biggest goal was to share the art we're creating, but to do so in a way that connects people and back to nature,” Anna said. “Whether it's nature that they've experienced themselves — like if they've actually seen a Musk Ox, they can buy [our] Musk Ox and think about that experience — or to connect them to something they want to experience.”

Together, Anna and Kelly have created a small business that they hope will not only bring people together but also remind them of the beauty around them. This past July, Arctic Haven Studio celebrated their one-year anniversary. In a short amount of time, they shipped their artwork to 16 states, created 17 different design sets, and spent an average of 72 hours on the pieces.

Here’s how the two set up their brand in a way that’s allowed them to pursue their passions while doing a lot of good along the way.

Combining their strengths to create something special

When Kelly was a business major in college, one of the things that were drilled into her was to never go into business with a family member. But she’s glad she didn’t heed the advice of her former professors, as creating Arctic Studio Haven with Anna has been a special experience. Though the two have full-time careers – Kelly works in contract management and Anna is a wildlife ecologist – their other job is running Arctic Haven Studio together.

The studio relies on both Kelly and Anna’s unique strengths. With her business insights, Kelly has been able to handle all of the logistic and administrative work, while Anna creates the artwork that is made out of tiny pieces of recycled paper – a technique she’s been exploring since high school.

For each piece, Anna starts with a simple sketch of an animal, then she begins filling in the outline with scraps of paper – often starting with the creature’s eye which is usually the most detailed part. It’s a long process, and Anna has spent anywhere from 40 to 80 hours working on a piece. Each animal offers its own unique challenge. Recently, Anna made a walrus and enjoyed playing around with paper to create its wet and slimy texture.

It was Kelly who saw just how special and marketable this very art was.

“I would never have started this business if I didn't have [Kelly’s] support and knowledge as a business major and a business person because I like creating stuff, but I don't have the patience or knowledge to actually start a business,” said Anna.

In particular, it was a specific design that Anna had made of a ptarmigan, one of Alaska’s iconic birds, that became the catalyst for their small business. It was one of the most detailed paper-cut pieces Anna had created at the time.

The duo didn’t just want to sell any kind of product, however. They knew they wanted these art pieces to help connect people to one another, which is why they initially launched note cards with Anna’s designs on them.

“We started with notecard sets being our primary product,” Anna said. “We both write a lot of letters and [note cards] lend themselves well to being able to have some art that you get to enjoy, and then can give to someone else,” Anna said.

By playing off each other's strengths, the two have launched a company that perfectly embodies everything important to them.

As Anna said, “personal connection and community is a founding value for us.”

Laying out the groundwork for their small business

Despite already having a very clear vision for their products, Anna and Kelly didn’t rush to open up their doors. Instead, they carefully looked into vendors, reviewed contracts, and researched everything they needed to know about starting a business. In fact, it took them 13 months from their first official design to their grand opening.

While they were in the planning stage, they had clear talks amongst themselves about how they’d run Arctic Haven Studio. First, they broke down the six core functions of the business. They then turned each of those functions into job roles and divided them up between the two. While they value each other's input, they also decided there would be a decision maker for each aspect of the business.

“The agreement was that we both had a say in all the categories, but when a decision had to be made, whoever was assigned that category got to make the final decision,” Kelly said. “And we've never clashed on that.”

This methodological approach to opening the business is something they’re both glad they took the time to do. It allowed them to lay out a foundational groundwork for Arctic Haven Studio, making them feel confident in the business’s mission – to create meaningful work that not only represents their hometown but helps cultivate community amongst their customers.

While they’re proud of the growth they’ve achieved so far, they’ve always been realistic about their business and the fact that for now at least, Arctic Haven Studio is not their full-time job, but their passion project.

This perspective has helped them from getting discouraged.

“Everybody wants to be successful right away. But you have to figure out what that success even looks like and recognize, ‘I'm probably not going to make much money in the first three years’… but knowing that’s okay because success is making one more connection and just having those reasonable and reachable goals,” Kelly said.

Taking their time to open up connects back to the sisters’ goal of always being intentional with their work. This slower pace has allowed them to check all of their boxes, ensuring they were fully ready to become small business owners.

Giving back to themselves and their community

Contributing back to the wildlife they were raised by is something Anna and Kelly knew they wanted to do with their small business, which is why they’ve decided to donate 10 percent of their proceeds to the Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center annually. So far, they’ve donated over $300 dollars to the organization, and hope to give even more soon.

“The Alaskan Wildlife Conservation Center ended up being a perfect fit for us because they do a lot of conservation and rescuing orphaned animals that then they rehabilitate and get back into the wild,” Anna said. “Or they use them as captive animals in an educational sense. But they have very strong animal care guidelines. And so it's something we felt really good about.”

Along with giving back directly to the wildlife, the sisters have embedded sustainability into their business as well. They use recycled paper and recycled materials for their packaging as much as possible – despite the fact that it is quite pricey for them as a small business to do so. They are well aware of the fact that they could be bringing in more money if they used cheaper supplies, but doing so would feel wrong.

“How can we sell art that reflects nature, but [our customers] are going to rip open the plastic and throw it in the trash?” Kelly said.

But as much as they’re hoping their business can make a positive impact on the world, the sisters have also found that Arctic Haven Studio has brought back so much value into their own lives. While running a small business is not always easy, it has given them a chance to unwind from their everyday lives. For Anna especially, it’s been a creative outlet. The wildlife ecologist just recently graduated from grad school and says the business helped balance things out for her.

“I honestly think [Arctic Haven Studio] is kind of what kept me sane in grad school. Having the creative outlet, creating the art and then also having the business side of things to work on with Kelly, where it was completely separate from my grad school work,” Anna said.

Even more, however, this side project has given the two a reason to spend more time together, strengthening their bond. The most fulfilling part for Kelly has been seeing everyone appreciate Anna’s art – something she’s been doing since childhood.

“I really enjoy seeing people enjoy Anna’s work because I grew up with it,” Kelly said. “There's satisfaction in that and seeing Anna being proud of what she's made.”

The future of Arctic Haven Studio

Just recently, Anna and Kelly celebrated a big moment for their small business: their first in-person exhibit at Wild Scoops, an ice cream shop in Midtown, Alaska. This was the first time they had printed out Arctic Haven studio pieces on such a large scale and displayed them in a public setting for so many to see.

Another step they’ve taken is reaching out to local businesses to start selling their notecards, stickers, and prints in physical stores, moving away from their online-only model. They’re also extending their product line and considering including prints in poster sizes. While they are still selling their original note cards, they’re looking into diversifying their items a bit to reach more customers.

The two plan to continue growing Arctic Studio Haven together with the goal of adding more beauty, nature, and meaning into their customers’ lives.

“We all know that feeling that you get when you’re looking at art and you just want to be where that is,” Kelly said. “And so we hope our customers will take away that [our products] are more than just a piece of paper to write on, but an intentional piece with an intentional connection.”

https://buffer.com/resources/sisters-turned-their-passion-into-a-small-business/

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

When you want to make an impression on people, you no doubt do things to enhance your personality. You wear the clothes that suit you best or if you’re a business, show off the best of your packaging and messaging.

Most social media bios – including Instagram – function as your digital personality. It’s an extension of what people expect in real life, whether the impression they get is accurate or not. And it’s where people instinctively go when trying to understand you (or your brand).  Your Instagram bio is the information section of your account, and it's the first impression visitors to your profile page have of you.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Every part of your Instagram bio is an opportunity to not only introduce (and re-introduce) yourself but also communicate your value to your audience. In this article, we’ll share some ideas for making the most of your Instagram bio and examples of some of our favorites.

What is an Instagram Bio?

An Instagram bio is the section at the very top of every Instagram profile that displays:

  • Profile picture
  • Username
  • Display name
  • 150-character limit description
  • Business category
  • Contact info
  • Link
  • Instagram Shop
  • Instagram Story highlights

Your bio is the first point of contact and should reflect your brand and personality as much as possible. A good bio encourages action from the visitor (‘Shop Now’, ‘Subscribe’, ‘Contact Us’) or gets them invested enough to engage with the content you offer.

What should you consider when creating your Instagram bio?

When thinking through which of these features to include in your bio, consider the following:

  • What is your brand voice and tone?
  • What is your brand’s personality?
  • What do you offer that other brands or accounts don’t?
  • What is your unique selling point?
  • What actions do you want people to take after they visit your profile?

6 ideas for your Instagram bio

There are different ways to approach your Instagram bio. Here’s a breakdown of how you can set yours up using examples from existing accounts.

Keeping it simple

Many people choose to keep their bios as simple as possible. Some just outright state what they are like So It Goes magazine with no other information.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Others use a simple tagline, as we at Buffer and the folks at NASA do.

And some accounts like Kinfolk just have their link-in-bio and business category up and leave the rest of their information blank. (P.S. This is only likely to work if your target audience doesn’t require much information from Instagram as a channel of communication).

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Provide all necessary information upfront

Some bios just go straight to the point with the information new followers might be looking for. It can even save them a Google search if the way they would typically find out the information in your bio is by clicking through several pages.

Getaway House details all the places you can find its rental cabins, saving you a fruitless click to their website.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Newspaper Club states several offerings for its audience – print your own newspaper, get it delivered anywhere in the world, and get free samples.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Ting’s Chips tells you right away where you can find its products.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Get creative

You can choose the route of the Quirky™ Instagram bio by using alternative imagery. This tactic depends on your brand personality – not many people expect “cute and fun” from their logistics company.

Chubby Home uses emojis that match its cute and friendly brand personality.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Visceral Home uses alternative fonts to grab attention. But keep in mind that fonts outside what you normally get on Instagram may not be very accessible as screen readers may be unable to pick them up.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Encourage an action

If you want to get people to do something immediately, your Instagram bio is just the place to tell them.

The Cosmic Latte asks visitors to sign up for their newsletter.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Byredo says to “shop online and in-stores.”

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

SoCo Tahini tells its audience to use tag them using the hashtag #socotahini when they cook with the product.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Offer a deal

Make the sale right off the bat by offering deals to visitors – after all, they’re potential customers.

Wild One offers several deals to visitors, from a discount on shopping a specific product to free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Free Mvmt Shop offers unlimited access in your first week of use for $25.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Build authority

Some potential customers need a little more convincing than others, so calm their worries with the reasons they should trust your brand.

Kola Goodies does this by mentioning publications they’ve been featured in like Forbes and Bon Appetit. For anyone wondering if they should try a new food brand, this can make them more confident.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Chamberlain Coffee uses this strategy by highlighting its connection to popular founder Emma Chamberlain.

6 Ideas to Make the Most of Your Instagram Bio

Tips to make the most of your Instagram Bio

If you’re looking for more ways to optimize your Instagram bio, here are some of our top recommendations:

  1. Get specific: Use the 150-word space to share your brand hook, highlight new products/releases, highlight partner accounts, or share a hashtag that users can adopt.
  2. Maximize your “link in bio”: You might have seen captions or Reels saying to “click the link in bio” for some extra information or access to new content. Your Instagram link in bio is the optimal opportunity to direct users to your owned content. Many people choose to use a landing page to hold several links, and lucky for you, you can make one right in Buffer, called a Start Page.
  3. Fill out ALL the (relevant) details: Instagram allows you to include a lot of information before users even scroll down to the rest of your page. Take advantage of the available tools by including Contact buttons, letting users Shop from you right in your account, or creating Instagram Story highlights.
  4. Add a CTA to encourage action: If you want visitors to take a specific action the first time they visit your page, tell them in your Instagram bio. ‘Click the link in bio to do x’, ‘send us a message’, ‘use the hashtag #xyz’ – these are some of your options.
  5. Use a relevant profile picture: Whether it’s your logo, a recognizable face or a campaign image, you must fill in the profile picture space with something that fits your brand.

Change up your bio from time to time

You and your business will evolve – and your social media bios should evolve in tandem. Instagram bios don’t need to be static – you can edit them to your heart’s content, so take advantage of the freedom to highlight any new projects or releases or start a new campaign.

Beyond optimizing your account, you might also be focused on growth, whether of your followers or overall metrics. Take the chance to start scheduling your Instagram posts through Buffer and build the organic momentum that will take your Instagram page from “meh” to “must-follow.”

https://buffer.com/resources/instagram-bio-ideas/

Ask Buffer: How Can You Batch Content for Social Media?

Ask Buffer: How Can You Batch Content for Social Media?

Question: I have a lot of great ideas, but I find that I don’t have enough time to make all of them come to life. What do you recommend?

Creating content can be fun, especially when you have many ideas to work on, but it’s also super time-consuming. There are many workarounds to this, from content repurposing and cross-posting to content batching – the highlight of today’s article.

Content batching helps you save time, post consistently, and repurpose your ideas seamlessly across platforms. In this article, we’ll walk through how you can create a system for content batching that lets you execute all your best ideas with enough time to spare.

What is content batching?

With this strategy, you make content in batches to use for over a long time period. For example, instead of creating a new graphic every time a post is ready to go live, you work on several images several weeks in advance.

Content batching is a productivity and planning technique that can help you improve the creation process for you and your business.

Benefits of content batching

The main goal of content batching is to help you stay ahead of the curve so you can focus your energy on other areas of your business. It also helps you:

  • Save time and energy
  • Feel free to take time off whenever you need to because you always have content ready to go
  • Create a cohesive structure for content publishing. Having content on hand means you have what you need for specific dates/times but can also move around posts if something more time-specific occurs, like a breaking news story or surprise industry update.
  • Boost productivity and consistency while reducing procrastination

For anyone looking to be more consistent with publishing content, creating content in batches is a great way to do all the hard work in one go, so you have multiple options for future use.

Understand your content pillars

Content pillars are the themes or topics used to guide what you post for your brand. A baby clothes brand will post baby and parent-related content, and a logistics company will post transportation and (e)commerce content.

Some ways to identify content pillars include:

  • Brand values. If your brand has specific values that can translate into content, these could influence your pillars.
  • Audience interests. What have your customers repeatedly come back to?
  • Analytics. What has historically been very effective regarding content for your brand? Is it a particular topic or content format?

An example of a brand that knows its content pillars is Ello Products, which sells reusable food and liquid storage products. Across its social media, the brand publishes content that tends to be centered around these things: sustainability, meal prepping, and customer-driven campaigns.

@ello_products

Who says summer is over? Take your tastebuds to the beach with this Strawberry Paloma recipe ⛱🌊 #drinkrecipe #recipe #drinkideas #cocktail #cocktailidea

♬ original sound – evie

Outlining your pillars keeps your evergreen content cohesive so audiences know what to expect outside of time-bound content. You can discover what content pillars will resonate with your audience through a mix of competitor and audience research, as well as experimentation with different options.

Experimenting is particularly important because the results from your analytics can help you better determine what your audience connects with and what you should leave behind. Bonus tip: if you use Buffer to schedule content, you can easily track your analytics within your account!

Callout: Check out these articles for more advice on understanding and applying your analytics: 1 and 2.

Set aside time for brainstorming and planning

For content batching to be effective, you must plan ahead of time. The ideal outcome of batching is to help you be productive while reducing procrastination, which means you must put in a lot of initial effort for the eventual outcome.

If you’re looking for ideas for content to create, here are some of our suggestions.

  • Brand pillars
  • Holidays – just pick what fits your brand and create your content ahead of time:
  • User-generated content – can function as a consistent flywheel of batched content while also improving your community engagement.
  • Blog content
  • Company updates and campaigns

Callout: Check out this and this article for more content ideas.

Case Study: The Cosmic Latte

The Cosmic Latte is an account that provides its audience with content meant to educate and entertain about astrology. When visiting their account, their audience can expect to see content around relevant topics like horoscopes or customer testimonials.

@thecosmiclatte.com

link in bio to sign up for emails 💌Sunday's Cancer moon, I'm taking a bath, saging my space, and spending a cozy evening alone ☁️💧#moontransits #moonsigns #cancermoon #piscesmoon #taurusmoon #astrologyforecasts #astrologytransits #astrologyfyp #spiritualitytiktok #astrologytiktok

♬ original sound – thecosmiclatte

This is a great example because, with astrology-focused content, you can plan farther ahead. After all, the information is based on predictions that can be interpreted for different audiences. As long as the creator keeps track of what’s up next, whether that’s Virgo season or a full moon, they can stay ahead of the curve and plan content accordingly.

Callout: You can use Buffer’s Drafts feature to put down your ideas as they come and expand on them when you’re ready. This way, you don’t spend too much time brainstorming and can dedicate time to the creation process.

Batch create the copy and visuals for all your content in one sitting

This is the bulk of the work of batch-creating content for social media, and it relies on proper organization with a content calendar or similar tracking system. At Buffer, we use Notion to keep track of what projects we’re working on, so we always know when a piece of content is meant to be published and can create it ahead of time. This method works for us because we have a clear view of everything we need to get out but can also move things around if we need to.

A great way to avoid spending hours in a day creating content is to set aside specific hours in a day or days in a week to work on specific parts of your content that you can do at once. For example, you might spend a few hours on a Monday creating the visual content for your brand, whether that’s product photography or creating images in Canva or Photoshop. Then you can dedicate a Tuesday to drafting the copy that goes along with your imagery and so on.

Schedule your content

The final piece of the puzzle that makes content batching so effective: scheduling.

If you’re worried that scheduling ahead of time affects the performance of your posts, fear not! We’ve answered that question, but the short answer is that it doesn’t. If anything, it helps you stay consistent with scheduling so you never have to worry about forgetting to post.

And of course, you should use Buffer to schedule your batch-created content – get started here.

Use content batching as a way to avoid burnout – not exacerbate it

In other words, don’t put pressure on yourself to post on social media, batched content or not. Life happens, and part of avoiding burnout is understanding that some days, you just won’t be able to get anything up, and that’s okay.

Instead of doing hours' worth of work, bake content batching into your weekly process so you do smaller amounts with the same effect of having content ready ahead of time.

https://buffer.com/resources/content-batching/

Why I Think More Mission-Driven Founders Should Start Businesses Instead of Nonprofits

Why I Think More Mission-Driven Founders Should Start Businesses Instead of Nonprofits

When I set out to start my own venture, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to something where I could have real impact. I’d spent the years leading up to this point as a corporate attorney, a career I enjoyed, but I was itching to work on my own idea.

I also had a vision for an organization aimed at improving diversity and representation in the outdoor adventure space. See, I got into the outdoors later in life: I didn’t go backpacking until my late 20s or climbing until my early 30s. While getting into these hobbies changed my life for the better, it was also an isolating journey. As a woman, as a person of color, and as a beginner adult, there weren’t a lot of communities to welcome me or support to help me learn new skills. I wanted to change that, and when I’d tell people this, they’d immediately say, “Oh, so you’re starting a nonprofit.”

Working at or starting a nonprofit might be the most obvious path for someone like me who wants to make a difference. I did consider going that route, but instead decided to start a for-profit business: Headlamp, a platform for female, non-binary, and gender queer adventurers to find their path outdoors through content, community, and guides.

We make money by taking a transaction fee on bookings made through the site while ultimately supporting instructors in getting more business and individuals in finding community and learning new outdoor skills. Our goal is to start building out features that will help outdoor instructors grow their businesses. We are especially interested in supporting emerging and underrepresented outdoor instructors, who often face the biggest challenges in growing their businesses.  

To me, I’ve learned that building a business is a powerful way to serve the community I want to help. Here’s why I think more mission-driven founders should consider starting a business:

I Could Get Started More Quickly

Don’t get me wrong, starting a business is very hard. But, in some ways, there’s a lower barrier to entry when starting a business than there is when starting a nonprofit.

Getting a nonprofit off the ground and continuing to run one involves a lot of administrative hurdles. Registering as a 501(c)(3) is fairly complicated, involving setting up a board of directors and approving bylaws and usually taking many months; registering as an LLC took me a couple of days. When running a nonprofit, there’s a lot of regulation of how you spend your money; as a business owner, I have more control over the day-to-day decisions I make, giving me more flexibility to experiment quickly and pivot based on what I learn.

There’s a good reason for all this: nonprofits serve the public and receive tax breaks, so what they’re doing with their time and money should be scrutinized. But, it’s also easy for nonprofit founders to get bogged down by the paperwork and feel like they never really make the impact they envisioned.

For instance, I’m currently in a fellowship for rising leaders in the outdoors industry where I am the only for-profit business owner—the other fellows often discuss how frustrating it is to spend their days compiling reports and materials for donors instead of directly working with the communities they wish to serve. Meanwhile, I participated in an accelerator earlier this year that was targeted at founders of color who were launching outdoor brands. These profit-seeking businesses are trying to serve the same community as some of the nonprofits, but they're able to start working toward their mission much faster because they’re not limited by the same regulations.

I Have Access to a Lot More Resources

There’s no beating around the bush here: We live in a capitalist society, and there are simply more resources for businesses.

I experienced this first hand in my early career before becoming a founder: I started in the nonprofit space and then shifted to a more corporate career. I was amazed by the budgets and connections that I suddenly had access to—resources that would have helped immensely in achieving our mission when I was working at nonprofits.

When I was considering whether to start a nonprofit or a business to tackle my vision, I saw the same sorts of limitations for founders. While there are some accelerators and incubators specifically for nonprofits—and some traditional incubators, like Y Combinator, have started to include nonprofits as part of their cohorts—it’s less common to find that kind of support. The fundraising options for businesses are immense, from grants to angel investors to VC money to crowdfunding, whereas nonprofits have to rely on more traditional donors or highly-competitive grants. To help give me the best chance of achieving my mission, I wanted as many resources behind me as possible.

I Have an Opportunity for Self-Sustainability

One of the most exciting things about building a business is the opportunity for self-sustainability based on something we make. Instead of having to go back to donors year after year like nonprofits do, my goal for Headlamp is for the company to create enough revenue to support the business and further the mission.

It’s worth noting that, in some cases, nonprofits are also allowed to sell products or services instead of relying completely on donations. However, the difference in how nonprofits are expected to spend their time and money makes it harder for them to take the time needed to experiment, iterate, and ultimately reach product-market fit. With a mission-driven business, it’s expected that it will take years to perfect the product and truly demonstrate the impact we’re having.

When I do become profitable, I hope to not only support my mission through my business, but also by redirecting some of our profits to related nonprofits. I also hope to reach the point where I can pay myself in my team well, which isn’t typical in the nonprofit space because of tight restrictions about how they spend their money.

I believe that if you’re spending a lot of time on a cause, you deserve to be paid well for it. While it’s just me working on the business right now, when I make my first key hires, I’ll be excited to be able to offer competitive salaries to help attract the best talent to help me achieve my mission, and make sure they feel valued for their hard work.

I Can Still Have a Huge Impact

The best part is, I can have just as much impact as a mission-driven business as I’d be able to as a nonprofit. When I talk to customers who are booking outdoor experiences on my marketplace, they aren’t taken aback by having to pay for this service—they feel seen and excited to have access to something that doesn’t exist for them elsewhere. When I talk to the outdoor guides who can list their services through my business, they connect with me deeply because we’re both small business owners with the same goal in mind: to get more under-served people outdoors.

I’m not trying to say that all nonprofits should be replaced by businesses. For one, some services should be provided for free, and those are probably best served by nonprofits. But more than that, I think there’s room for both types of organizations: Nonprofits who can offer free services, and mission-driven businesses that can move faster and deliver more innovative solutions with the resources behind them.

My hope is that more future founders with a big vision for change they want to make in the world won’t just default to the nonprofit route. Maybe a nonprofit is the right way for you to achieve your mission, but starting a profit-seeking business can be just as powerful of a way to make an impact—if not more so.

https://buffer.com/resources/more-mission-driven-founders-should-start-businesses-instead-of-nonprofits/

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature

Twitter has been an amazing platform for content creators and small business owners to build community, showcase their work and knowledge, and express distinct viewpoints. In our series, Social Proof, we’ve spoken to content creators who’ve literally built their careers by tweeting about their interests and passions. And the power of Twitter can be leveraged by professionals in virtually all fields – making it a great channel to build community.

And now, Twitter is giving creators a new tool to connect with their most ardent supporters – Super Followers. The feature was first introduced in September of 2021, and allows creators to earn revenue from their tweets, while also providing a way for them to deepen their relationship with their biggest fans. Here’s exactly how the feature works and how two content creators are creating exclusive tweets for their Twitter Super Followers.

What exactly does it mean to have Twitter Super Followers?

Your Twitter Super Followers will be privy to specific content that you’ve curated especially for them. Currently, Super Followers is being tested, meaning it’s only available to certain people who’re in the test group and not a feature just anyone can use. Even if you are included in this special group, you’ll still need to apply to have Super Followers.

Here are the qualifications you’ll need to meet:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Have at least 10,000 Followers
  • Have Tweeted at least 25 times in the last 30 days

How exactly does a normal follower get upgraded to a Super Follower? They will need to subscribe and pay a monthly fee. Twitter gives creators the option to set the price – you can choose from three different tiers: $2.99, $4.99, and $9.99.

Once you start getting subscribers, that’s when the fun begins! You’ll be able to plan out and create specific content for an exclusive portion of your audience, aka your Super Followers.

Along with seeing exclusive tweets, Super Followers will also have a badge displayed next to their name that will show up when they interact with your Tweets. And, they’ll have access to exclusive Twitter Spaces you can host.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature
Source: Twitter

As this feature is still in development, Twitter has said they’re looking into adding additional perks and bonus content for Super Followers.

How these content creators utilize Twitter Super Followers

Maybe you’re interested in having Super Followers, but you’re not entirely sure how you’d go about it. To give you some insight into the possibilities this new tool provides, here are how these two content creators are navigating the feature.

Mr. Gary is more personal with his Twitter Super Followers

A long-time actor who got his start playing Nelson Tibideaux on The Cosby Show, Gary Gray’s Twitter account revolves around his art. Asides from acting, Gary does coaching for voice lessons, writes screenplays, and creates original art pieces. The actor has landed many of his followers through tweets he’s made about his previous roles — like when he posted about the 25th anniversary of Rocket Power – a popular Nickelodeon show he worked on.  


When Gary first got the notice that he was eligible to apply for Super Followers, he didn’t seriously think any of his followers would actually pay for extra tweets. That is, until he asked. He was surprised to see several individuals responding that they would be interested in Super Following him.

The actor has been using the feature for the last couple of months and fluctuates between 8 – 14 Super Followers. Overall, he says he’s had a positive experience with it. The main difference in the content he creates for his Super Followers is that he’s intentionally more interactive with this group compared to the rest of his 24,000+ community.

“On my regular Twitter, I'll just say, you know, ‘Feeling meh,’” Gary said. “Whereas, with Super Followers, I'll say, ‘Not feeling so good today. What did you guys do?’ Because it makes them feel a little less like they’re observing me and a little bit more like they’re included.”

Gary also provides his Super Followers with additional perks including exclusive access to his sketches and art pieces at discounted prices. Recently, he just did his first giveaway for his Super Followers as well and gifted a signed copy of a Rocket Power video game.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature
Gary offers his Super Followers exclusive access to art pieces

Gary appreciates this tight knit relationship he’s developed with his Super Follower community and has noticed that his Super Followers also seem to enjoy this content as they regularly interact with his exclusive tweets.

Ashani the Alchemist offers personalized horoscopes for her Twitter Super Followers

A tarot reader and astrologist, Ashani has always felt drawn to the spiritual world. She majored in creative writing in college and worked at a spiritual shop which prepped her well to write the horoscope messages she would eventually be known for.  


After losing her job during the beginning of the pandemic, Ashani became more active on Twitter and her friends began asking her to do tarot readings – making her realize there was a demand for her service. She quickly went viral on Twitter and her popularity afforded her the opportunity to go on Instagram Live with rap superstar Cardi B and do a birth-chart reading for her.

When Ashani was first introduced to Super Followers, she was very interested because she believed this feature could allow her to focus more on Twitter as a whole instead of other platforms like Patreon.

“I was excited [for Super Followers] because I didn’t like Patreon for the sole fact that, one, it took me away from the engagement I had on Twitter. And I felt like I was working double time trying to create content for Twitter and Patreon.”

Ashani has amassed just over 30 Super Followers in the last few months and provides them with more personalized horoscope messages than the ones she offers the rest of her 38,000+ following. However, the content creator admits that since the feature is so new, she is still figuring out how to best engage with her Super Followers.

“[Super Followers] is a lot more of an intimate space,” she said. “I'm still trying to figure out how I can engage with people a little bit more, or, what they even want from me. Because obviously, they want the content and the information. But it’s like, how can I make it more fulfilling for myself as well?”

As of now, Ashani does see the value in having Super Followers and plans to continue using it. However, she’s actively brainstorming new ways to engage with this exclusive audience in order to make the feature work best for both her community and her business.

Still, her current Super Followers already see the value in the services and content she is providing, including one of her ardent supporters, Twitter user @luminary222. Luminary says she is happy to pay the $4.99 a month because she believes Ashani is a talented tarot reader and she personally connects with her messages.  

“What I gain from being a Super Follower of Ashani is not only do I get more content, but I am helping her expand as a creator,” Luminary said. “I am letting her know that there's people out there who care about her work and genuinely want to hear what she has to say.”

Benefits of having Twitter Super Followers

Your supporters are what makes your business and content thrive, and Twitter Super Followers is a great way to provide them with special content that, hopefully, will allow them to forge a stronger connection to your work. Twitter Super Followers can provide the following benefits to you and your business.

Streamline the amount of platforms you use

As a content creator, it can be hard to jumble multiple social accounts. The fact that Super Followers allows you to host a subscription service within Twitter is a big plus for Ashani.

“I will say that I enjoy [Super Followers], because it's all seamless,” she said. “It's just a click of the button. All you have to do is press a little drop down menu and say, super followers versus everyone. So it's a lot more simple. It's all in one place. I do enjoy that.”

Using this feature may make it possible for you to limit the number of other subscription based platforms you're active on, like Patreon or Ko-Fi, reducing the amount of toggling you’ll be doing between accounts throughout the day. This can also allow you to spend more time curating specific content for Twitter and your Super Followers.

Deepen your relationship with followers

For Gary, Super Followers has been a great way for him to open up on a more personal level with his biggest supporters. The actor is able to go beyond discussing work related matters, and introduce a more intimate side of himself.

“Super Followers might get some [more personal] videos of me because it's something that's a little bit more intimate that I wouldn't necessarily show a lot of people,” he said.

The feature has made it possible for him to get to know his Super Followers better, making the relationship feel mutual instead of one-sided. This is not something he’d be able to do with his account’s main following as it would be quite difficult to get to know over 20,000 people intimately.

Your Super Followers will also stand out to you when they interact with your normal content, too – thanks to the handy badge next to their name – meaning it will be easier to engage with them whenever they comment on your general tweets as well.

Add a new source of revenue

While you may not be able to rely solely on the income coming from your Twitter Super Followers, it can be a great way to earn some extra cash for your content.

It’s good to note, however, that Twitter does tax some of this revenue. The social media platform has provided a helpful breakdown depicting a realistic look at what a content creator can take home from a Super Follower subscription.

How Twitter Super Followers Works and How These Creators Leverage the Feature
Source: Twitter

What to consider before opting into Twitter Super Followers

Remember, social media sites are constantly adapting and adding new tools for content creators. It may be tempting to opt into a new feature when it’s first offered, but not every feature or trend will be a right fit for you and your brand.

Since Super Followers is such a new and limited feature, there will also be a learning curve on how to best use it. As of now, there isn’t a ton of data on how Twitter Super Followers has benefited creators or small businesses.

Here are some factors to consider if you’re leaning towards having Super Followers on your Twitter account.

Make sure you have the capacity for it

Sometimes, it can be easy to jump on new social media trends in hopes of gaining more engagement and traction online. But in reality, it’s important to make sure you have the bandwidth to commit to these new features and channels.

While Ashani is appreciative of all of her Super Followers, she’s also aware that $5 a month is not a sustainable enough income for her to constantly be churning out new content.

“I have to be more discerning in my energy. And so I have to discern whether $5 is worth giving so much more of myself each month,” Ashani said. “No shade to all my super followers because I love them, and I'm appreciative of them, but even one of them told me that they’re [Super Following me] just to support me.”

By implementing this feature, you will need to generate more content for your Super Followers, so make sure you have the creative and emotional capacity to do so as well as enough time in your schedule.

Have a clear idea of how you’ll be dividing your content

Once you decide to have Super Followers, you will need to make extra content for this group, which means you’ll also need to sort out exactly how you’ll be divvying up your tweets. While this isn’t necessarily a negative, it may add more work onto your plate.

Now, whenever Gary plans to post on Twitter, he has to factor in what he can provide his Super Followers with versus his main following.

“For instance, my anniversary content for Rocket Power — that day I’m thinking in my head, is it worth it to post something to super followers first?” Gary said. “Or, is this an everybody thing? Almost every big tweet or any big engagement like that, I have to sort of think about the separate groups.”

Your Super Followers will be paying you for exclusive content, so it’s important to be strategic and organized when planning out tweets for them.

Don’t alienate the rest of your audience

For Ashani, a major struggle with implementing Super Followers has been her not wanting to neglect her main following. As a tarot reader, she gets most of her clients from her astrology and horoscope tweets which tend to receive tons of retweets and likes. To limit some of that content to her Super Followers can sometimes feel counterproductive.

“When I post messages, I gain clients. I gain new followers. Those followers resonate with my work, and then they book with me. And, they book with me consistently,” she said. “And if I’m only posting messages on Super Followers, yeah, that's 4.99 a month, but is it taking away from the tips I could get, the engagement I could get, the extra clients that I could get?”

Ashani does caution other content creators and small businesses owners to really think about the effects Super Followers may have on their content before jumping into the feature.

Have fun and experiment!

While Gary appreciates his Twitter Super Followers, he also hopes Twitter will provide a clearer picture on best practices for using the feature as he feels the burden is currently on content creators to navigate it.

“Twitter has to show businesses and creators the value in [Super Followers] by providing a sort of roadmap,” he said.

For now, content creators are testing the feature, using it to the best of their abilities. Ashani encourages others to try out Super Followers, but to be intentional about it as well.

“So the one thing I would say to people who are going to approach [Super Followers] is know what you're trying to offer… and what you have the capacity to offer for the price point as well. Don't overextend yourself … But consider it and have fun with it.”

Do you Super Follow anyone on Twitter? We’d love to know the content creators you’re supporting! Drop their names in our DMs on Instagram or Twitter.

https://buffer.com/resources/how-twitter-super-followers-works-and-how-these-creators-leverage-the-feature/

How I Turned a $500 Investment Into a $1 Million Online Shop in 18 Months

How I Turned a $500 Investment Into a $1 Million Online Shop in 18 Months

I believe that one of the biggest myths about starting a business—particularly a product-based one—is that you need a lot of capital to get going. While that may be true for certain industries or those who want to open with a full store of inventory, it is often possible to launch with very little.

At least, that’s how it worked out for me. When I started building Witch’s Way Craft, I had a vision for the shop it is today, with a vast inventory of candles, crystals, and all manner of magickal goods. But, with only about $500 of savings that I could afford to spend, there’s no way I could stock all of that from the get go.

Instead, I started small, letting the shop grow as my budget allowed—which happened faster than I could have ever dreamed of. A year or so after listing my first ten candles on Etsy, I was making about $1,000 a week in revenue, so I felt ready to quit my job to see what would happen if I gave it my all. Less than a year after that, I was making enough to hire my husband full-time. Less than two years later, with both of us working diligently on the business, we hit $1 million in total revenue and have continued growing ever since.

For anyone else who has big business-owning dreams on a small budget, I’m here to share some of the strategies that helped me make it happen.

I Reinvested Most of Our Profit Straight Back Into the Business

I spent 100 percent of that initial $500 on supplies to make my first candles. Once I made and sold them, I made back that initial investment, plus $500 in profit. Then I had $1,000 to invest in new inventory and business growth. As I sold more and my revenue increased, I started buying cooler vintage glass candle vessels and shopping at trade shows to add crystals to my inventory, giving customers a reason to come back and buy something new. Over time, by reinvesting the money made from sales, the store has grown from ten items to over 1,000 in stock, and we now have thousands of dollars to reinvest in building out our first brick-and-mortar store.

As a business without a lot of initial capital, I had to get used to these waves of growing, waiting for that growth to pay off, and then having the money to grow some more. It was frustrating at times to not be able to do everything I envisioned from the start, but I’m glad I didn’t let that stop me from slowly building toward it.

What about paying myself along the way? I’ve never officially given myself a salary (since the business is a sole-proprietorship, technically all of the money passes through to my personal finances), and instead my husband and I pull money out as we need it for bills and such. It’s not the most glamorous lifestyle, but it does allow us to put as much into growing the business as possible. And it’s not like we’re living in squalor: For instance, last year we were able to buy our first house. We saw it as both a personal investment and a business investment that would allow us to store more inventory without needing to rent warehouse space.

I Used Relationships to Grow My Customer Base

Throughout this growth, I’ve spent very little money on marketing, instead relying on word of mouth and relationship-building to grow our customer base.

The one big exception to this, and something that really jump-started our following, was paying for table space at local maker’s markets, craft fairs, and flea markets. The first time, I spent $40 to share a table with another vendor and made something like $300, which felt huge at the time. As I started doing more markets, I’d make $500-600 on a bad day and over $1000 on a good one.

The sales were great, but even better was to see the effect that direct customer connection could have on my business growth. People really responded to hearing me talk about my candles, the care that went into choosing the materials and making them, and what each one means to me or how it can be used. Even if they didn’t buy right away, I’d notice more local web orders come in during the days following fairs or a jump in followers on our Instagram.

I also developed relationships with other small business owners at the markets, many of whom were willing to help each other succeed. We started doing “shop shares,” where we would all share products from another person’s business in our Instagram stories or on the feed. These weren’t giveaways and we didn’t charge each other for them—they were simply in-kind sharing, and we tried to make them feel really organic instead of promotional. It always led to a nice bump in followers and reminded me of the power of seeing other businesses as community instead of competition.

I Got Creative With How I Connected With Customers

Our next big jump in growth came when I started doing live sales on Instagram. (If you’re not familiar, it’s basically like watching QVC on your phone.) I had noticed some other makers doing these, and it seemed like a craft fair but without the cost and need to transport products, and with a larger reach. At that point I had about 10-15K followers, and made $2,500 in three hours in our first sale. I was blown away, and I had fun doing it. It was just me blabbing for a few hours: Showing off the products we had for sale, talking about how I might use them in rituals, answering questions, and just showing off my personality.

I started doing these once every week or two, and they became a staple of our customers’ schedules. People would come and just have a good time, invite their friends to join and hear my antics. During the pandemic it became a sort of social hour for everyone that allowed people to not only connect with the product, but for us all to connect with each other. Later, when I would see orders come in, I would recognize the name and be able to follow up about something personal they mentioned during the live.

Common business advice often says not to let your business be personal, but it was by getting personal through these live sales that I was able to grow our business to new heights. We still do live sales regularly and, with over 75K followers today, they are a meaningful part of our sales and marketing strategy. (All with no cost to us except our time and making sure we have plenty of product in stock.)

To be clear, we are not millionaires. We are still growing, and much of the money we make is still going straight back into the business, meaning we have to be scrappy to this day. We’ve bribed friends with wine and Netflix to come over and help us pack boxes or asked grocery stores for their old promotional flyers to use for packaging. It was clear to me early on that nobody was going to do the hard work for me unless I could afford to pay them, so I had to do it myself to build my business on a budget.

And, as impressive as this success story may seem, I do think we could have grown faster. I was afraid of pricing things as high as I could have (as high as my competitors were), because I didn’t want to seem greedy, but ultimately that hurt our margins and held us back.

But it was never just about money for me. I went in wanting to make enough to support myself and my husband, and to do it without hating my job. Now, I get to make and sell products I love, surrounded by customers I love, and with the person I love. And that’s something I can’t wait to keep building.

https://buffer.com/resources/i-turned-a-500-investment-into-a-1-million-online-shop/

Creator Productivity: Practical Advice for Improving It

Creator Productivity: Practical Advice for Improving It

Content creation may look easy from the outside, especially if you don’t know much about what goes on behind the scenes. But following the recommendations of different platforms can take a toll on creators. For context, some of the recommended posting schedules for the most popular social media platforms include:

  • One to four times a day on TikTok
  • Two times a day on Instagram
  • Three times a day on Twitter
  • Two times a day on Facebook
  • Once a day on LinkedIn

Added up, that’s 10-13 posts per day, and if you do that every day of the week, that’s 70 to 91 posts per week and over 250 posts a month.

📣
Check out How Often Should You Post on Social Media? for more information.

These factors might change depending on different factors like your audience, type of content, and whether you count Stories, Reels, and Posts when talking about Instagram. But the recommendations are made for a reason – they encourage growth. In this article, we’ll dive into some of our (and other creators’) top recommendations for boosting productivity so you can effectively grow your social media accounts.

Automate or outsource wherever possible

When it comes to reducing the amount of work you have to do, you may try strategies like crossposting and content batching. But as Social Proof interviewee Shaan Puri said, “Content is a bit of a treadmill – you have to keep doing it.”

Although you can’t force productivity onto creativity, you can improve other parts of the process of publishing your content. This is where automation or outsourcing comes into play.

Automation comes in different forms. Whether you use the Notes app to document ideas as they come for later sorting or set aside time to create and input all of your content into a publisher (Buffer comes to mind). In addition to automatic posting, some other tasks you can automate or outsource include:

  • Content calendar creation
  • Competitor analysis
  • Meeting scheduling
  • Email management
  • Content promotion

You might be worried about rumors that auto-posting content hurts your reach, but we’ve already debunked that for you (short reason: automation = improved consistency = improved engagement).

Or, your worries might be more concerned with the investment that is often required when adopting external tools to support your content, think about it this way: automating your content process frees up time for you to go the extra mile. Would you rather handle everything manually, leaving little time for the creative work that is your bread and butter? Or do you want as much as possible taken off your hands so you can come up with the best ideas?

Would you rather handle everything manually, leaving little time for the creative work that is your bread and butter? Or do you want as much as possible taken off your hands so you can come up with the best ideas?

Writer Anna B. Yang publishes across multiple platforms and mediums, from newsletters to LinkedIn, and she has this to say about automation: “I automate as much as possible, such as scheduling my social media with Buffer and using Zapier for redundant tasks. I also repurpose my own content, turning a long-form article into a LinkedIn post and a few tweets. Between scheduling, automation, and repurposing, I can focus more time and energy on new creative work."

Outsourcing is another, slightly more expensive option that can free up a ton of time – if you choose the right people to work with. Founder of HerFirst100k, Tori Dunlap, is a proponent of outsourcing, saying, “I hired somebody before I even taking my business full time, and I wish we [female entrepreneurs] talked more about this. We think we have to do it all ourselves – you do not. And it's actually a dumb business decision to try. Get people who have the time, expertise, and ability to do all of the things that you can't do. We've really tried to, like, outsource everything that doesn't absolutely need me.”

Someone else can write an email, someone else can manage a calendar, and somebody else can grow an email funnel.

You may not be able to outsource everything, and Tori acknowledges this. “I can't outsource somebody to come on, and act like me, host the podcast or speak in place of me. But someone else can write an email, someone else can manage a calendar, and somebody else can grow an email funnel.”

Outsourcing, in addition to automation (Tori shouts out Buffer as a reliable resource for the HerFirst100k team), has helped the brand grow into a multimillion-dollar company with a massive social platform reaching millions of people.

In Practice

  • Use the tools and people around you to free up valuable headspace for creativity
  • If you’re worried about cost, consider automation and outsourcing investments that can help you grow your platform

Focus on the platforms and formats you enjoy – not what everyone else is doing

As Social Proof alum Jack Appleby said, “The best way to think about productivity for a creator comes down to what your best skill set is and what skill set you enjoy using the most.” Jack is a Creator at Morning Brew, writing Future Social. He’s also growing a massive social media following, with 52,700 followers on Twitter and 9,667 on TikTok. He’s the classic example of experimentation.

You might be like Jack having fun experimenting with different formats. “I'm trying all sorts of content right now I am starting YouTube videos, making TikToks. I’ve written long and short form articles – I’m trying every version of content right now.” However, you can’t be good at everything. In the long term, you’ll have to settle on one or two, and Jack agrees.

What's most important is understanding which skill sets you have, and which ones are most valuable for you. When people want to start creating content, they think about the platform before they think about themselves

“What I'm seeing is that I'm just not as good at as certain pieces of content as other things, I might be interested in them. But do they earn much value for me or Morning Brew? This is a question I have to ask myself with every piece of content I make.” And you shouldn’t think about this question from the angle of which platform is creating more value for you – but rather where your skill sets shine.

“I think what's most important is understanding which skill sets you have, and which ones are most valuable for you. When people want to start creating content, they think about the platform before they think about themselves. I’m more of a writer so I'm gonna be better at Twitter than I am on Instagram or TikTok.”

Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try your hands at different platforms and try to improve your skills. But a great way to boost your productivity is determining which platforms and content types will make the most use of your time and talents and figuring out how to connect that with your interests.

In Practice

  • Don’t be afraid to experiment with different formats and platforms till you find what works for you
  • Be intentional about what you want each platform to add to your creative journey – if something isn’t serving you, let it go

Adopt a strategy to improve your focus

Creators are often battling with many things for attention. When you make creating your business or a big part of it, you become an entrepreneur, social media manager, video editor, and many other roles all in one. Even outsourcing and automation can only do so much – after all, you still have to create the content.

We all tend to procrastinate, and even factors like burnout can affect your level of productivity. One of the recurring recommendations from seasoned creators is adopting a method that helps you prioritize and focus on the different aspects of content creation.

Some people use tools like Asana or Trello to manage their tasks, and there is no shortage of “How to Use Notion” videos on YouTube. Others might prefer simpler methods of improving focus like using a to-do list (Shayla Price, creator of PrimoStats, is partial to pen and paper) or related apps like Todoist.

Methods for improving focus also abound – Matt Parkin, the creator of Mornings with Matt and LinkedIn influencer, mentioned the Eisenhower matrix as a preferred productivity method. “I'm a big fan of the Eisenhower Matrix, which breaks down tasks into four quadrants, mapping the urgency and importance of each task. This lets me see which tasks I should prioritize, schedule for later, delegate, or not do at all.”

In Practice

  • Use a productivity framework to improve your focus. This Todoist quiz is a great place to start identifying frameworks that can work for you.
  • Adopt tools that can help you organize and streamline your creative process, like writing in a notebook or using a productivity app like Todoist

Keep your eye on the ball – content creation

Whatever approach to productivity you take, you should always remember the end goal: creating better content. If the many apps or methods you adopt become a distraction, then there’s no point in using them. However you choose to improve your productivity, remember that the goal is to free up time so you can go the extra mile with your creativity.

Check out the sister article to this piece, How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator, for more advice on making optimal improvements to your creative process.

https://buffer.com/resources/creator-productivity/

How This Entrepreneur’s Experience as an Immigrant Shaped her Sri Lankan Tea Brand

How This Entrepreneur’s Experience as an Immigrant Shaped her Sri Lankan Tea Brand

Sajani Amarasiri is a total natural at being a small business owner. Her tea company, Kola Goodies, has experienced fast growth in the two years since its inception. The brand’s Sri Lankan tea blends are already selling in brick-and-mortar stores, they’ve landed a partnership with a huge Boba chain, and they’re currently in the works of expanding their product line. This success won’t be surprising to anyone familiar with Sajani’s background.

“My parents are entrepreneurs — small business owners,” Sajani said. “So for a long time, I didn't realize that was the only reference I had for a career… so corporate was not the dream. I always thought I would do something on my own.”

But, the road to paving her own company took some time. After moving to the United States from Sri Lanka for college, Sajani decided to go into the tech field not because that was her dream career, but because it was the most realistic option for her – a survival mechanism as an immigrant. She ended up working at Amazon and then made the move to Microsoft where the company sponsored her work visa.

It turns out, that Sajani actually enjoyed working in tech. Her job specifically focused on hardware supply chain, which would prove to be useful once she made the switch to running a business. And, despite the long hours, Sajani didn’t let her day job take up all of her time. She always had side hustles like starting an online clothing store. Eventually, she decided to tackle an even bigger project and managed to open up the first ever co-working space in Sri Lanka – Colombo Cooperative – which was entirely women-founded and funded.

But even that wasn’t enough for the Sri Lankan native. The itch to do something bigger and bolder was brewing inside of her. By connecting back to her roots and leveraging her distinct perspective as an immigrant, Sajani would go on to create a small business that embraces her Sri Lankan heritage.

A unique and multicultural perspective

A few years ago, Sajani noticed the wellness boom which promised health and vitality through holistic superfoods. Living in the Bay Area, Sajani was surrounded by this new health kick. It quickly became apparent that rituals and ingredients she grew up with in her Sri Lankan household – like turmeric and coconut oil – were blowing up in her new home.

And while it was nice to see parts of her culture being recognized, Sajani couldn’t help but feel like her upbringing was also being co-opted.

“[These ingredients] have been in our generational kitchens and families for 1,000s of years,” Sajani said. “But our stories weren't being told. That cultural appropriation was kind of crazy to witness being an immigrant.”

She realized that all of the tea brands that were selling turmeric drinks at the time were not owned by South Asian founders, despite the yellow spice originating in South Asia. With her background and expertise, Sajani knew she could develop an authentic, nutritious, and delicious turmeric drink. Even more so, she wanted to create a product that would seamlessly blend her two identities.

“You get to have this unique insight from a different cultural lens. Two homes …my home in America and my home where I grew up [in Sri Lanka],” Sajani said. “For me, it was like, ‘how do I create value addition from that perspective, in a way that gives back to both the places where I come from?”

In fact, Sajani named the company after a popular Sri Lanka drink “Kola Kanda,” which is made from raw rice, coconut milk, and herbal leaves that are said to have medicinal properties. This was a drink she grew up with and has particularly fond memories of.

“It’s a deeply popular, very Sri Lankan breakfast tea that is so good for you. It's filled with greens, it's warming, and it's great for your digestion and energy,” Sajani said.

In 2020, she launched a minimum viable product of their first blend, the super green latte, which includes turmeric. Through this testing process, Sajani received tons of feedback and learned what consumers wanted.

This laid down the framework for Kola Goodies. Now, two years later, the company just launched their third product – a dairy-free oat milk latte. While Kola Goodies has seen a lot of success, Sajani has had to alter her vision a couple of times along the way.

Finding your why and sticking to it

Sajani credits her success as an entrepreneur to one main thing: knowing her why. Even when she’s faced obstacles in her businesses, she’s been able to connect back to her end goal which has always pushed her forward.

“I think one of the biggest things is having your ‘why’ very clear as to, ‘why you’re starting this?’ And, ‘what’s the vision behind it?’” Sajani said. “Because it’s not easy to go through every day pushing a small business to be successful. But having that why… will always help you get through it.”

For Sajani, her main purpose has always been to raise more awareness of Sri Lankan culture and amplify the voices of the Sri Lankan community. So, even though it was difficult for the entrepreneur to close down Colomba Cooperative a year into the pandemic, she was still proud of the experience because she knew she'd achieved her goal. The co-working space was the first of its kind in Sri Lanka and brought people together, making the community stronger.

Similarly, early into Kola Goodies Sajani had found that she needed to pivot with the kinds of teas they were producing.

“When we first started, we were more focused on the superfood drinks, like Moringa, and turmeric latte,” Sajani said. “But then, we wanted to have more culturally inspired products that we’re bringing to life supporting our own farmers, and that were going to bring our culture forward in modern ways.”

Rather than just focusing on strictly healthy drinks like their Super Green Latte, Sajani was able to expand the product line to add the Sri Lankan Milk Tea, which is currently their best-selling product. Expanding to provide milk tea also made it possible for one of Kola Goodie’s biggest partnerships.

Boba Guys – a well-known milk tea chain in California and New York – had an accelerator program for minority founders and ended up loving Kola Goodie's tea blends so much, that the two businesses collaborated to launch a turmeric boba milk tea. Not only did this venture provide more exposure for Kola Goodies, but for Sajani, it was another way to bring in more diversity in the beverage space.

“It’s one thing to see golden [turmeric] milk boba available at such a big chain,” she said. “But it’s such an amazing collaboration to see East Asian culture and South Asian culture coming together in a drink.”

Working closely with the Sri Lankan Community

Ushering in more representation for the Sri Lankan culture has always been a goal for Sajani. But more importantly, she wanted to directly help her fellow Sri Lankans. This is why Kola Goodies directly sources their ingredients from local farmers, despite it not being the most practical route.

“I am going to use that extra time and resources to find the [Sri Lankan] farmers to be able to support them because that directly correlates to my why. And it makes sense because that's a value framework that I have for all the decisions that I make,” she said.

Not only does this lead to the freshest and most authentic ingredients, but it also allows Sajani to pay these farmers in USD and provide them with a more stable income. Currently, Sri Lanka is facing a political and economic crisis and Sajani has used her platform as a small business owner to educate her customers about the situation. She’s also raised money for Sri Lankan organizations and donated hundreds of meals directly to those in need.

Being able to give back to her hometown means a lot to Sajani. And the entrepreneur said she has one person who deserves the credit for making it all possible – her mother. Kola Goodies’s slogan, “Got it from my amma,” is a direct shoutout to her contributions. If it wasn’t for their morning rituals in the kitchen, Sajani said she may never have been inspired to open up a Sri Lankan tea business.

“[My mom] is such a cornerstone, because if she didn't take the time to make the things that nourished us, that became a huge part of my day-to-day growing up, then well, I wouldn't even have an inspiration point to bring a super green latte or Sri Lankan tea,” she said. “That was all her.”

The entrepreneur has come a long way from drinking Kola Kanda at home as a child with her family in Sri Lanka. By merging all of her idiosyncrasies– her distinct background, her experience in tech, and her drive to empower her community – Sajani has created something special. Kola Goodies is one of the brands bringing much-needed representation to cultures that don’t normally get a spotlight.

“The fact that there is Sri Lankan milk tea in a San Francisco supermarket is huge from a cultural point of view,” Sajani said. “[Sri Lanka] is such a small country. We are very much not represented, even when it comes into the South Asian dialogue. So it's amazing to just see yourself on a shelf when you're walking down the grocery store.”

https://buffer.com/resources/how-this-entrepreneurs-experience-as-an-immigrant-shaped-her-tea-brand/

How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator

How to Avoid Burnout as a Creator

In 2018, YouTuber Elle Mills posted a video detailing how burnout had impacted her ability to share content with her millions of YouTube subscribers. Since then, it’s become common to see videos, tweets, and posts announcing a break due to burnout.

Burnout is quite severe — 61 percent of creators are facing burnout, according to ConvertKit’s 2022 State of the Creator Economy report. Its effects and consequences vary, but with studies showing that it can take up to three years to recover from burnout, it’s not something anyone should risk.

So whatever your reasons are for creating content, whether to grow a personal brand or build an influencer empire, it’s vital to develop systems for avoiding burnout. How? In this article, we hope to provide an answer to that question. We’ll help you identify signs of burnout and share advice from creators like Jack Appleby and Tori Dunlap on avoiding it entirely.

How can you identify creator burnout?

Burnout manifests in different ways and for various reasons. However, the results are usually the same – you lose the motivation for creative output. To prevent it, you must understand what may be happening in your daily routine that might lead you to burnout. Some reasons you may experience burnout, according to ConvertKit’s report, include:

  • Feeling pressure to post consistently and everywhere: There are so many different platforms, and it’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling the need to be everywhere all the time. But that may not be efficient. Experts often refer to niching down to a particular topic, industry, or platform as the best way to make the most of your creative efforts. Of course, leave room for experimentation, but once you know which platforms work best for you and your audience, be confident in your decision to adopt one or stay away.
  • Content fatigue: Running out of ideas – and a lack of motivation to find new ones – is one of the clearest signs that you’re burned out. And sticking it out won’t do you or your audience any favors because the perceived value you provide may no longer shine through in your work.
  • Comparisons to other creators: It’s commonplace for people to compare themselves to what they see fellow creators doing. But this is never helpful, especially when you only have insights from what they share online. The creative journey is a sprint and rarely has a definite end – growth will happen to everyone even if the paces differ.
  • Unable to mentally disengage: The Internet has become omnipresent, making it difficult to disengage even for people who haven’t made it their job to post online. The need to leave your work where it is cannot be overstated – and if you feel like you can’t take a break, you may be on the verge of burnout.
  • Physical manifestations: Burnout can exacerbate or lead to anxiety and even depression. If creating and publishing content – or even just the idea – has physical consequences, you may be burned out.

A contributor to this New York Times article about burnout said, “I feel like social media is built to burn people out.” But social media is ultimately just a tool – how you wield it matters more than what it is. Armed with the knowledge of how it can be harmful, you must adopt habits and create systems to avoid or overcome burnout.

Tips from creators on avoiding (or overcoming) burnout

Taking steps to prevent burnout is far more important than fighting burnout when it hits. Here’s what these creators do to avoid burnout.

Set aside time for “life” through boundaries

First and foremost on the journey to avoiding burnout is setting proper boundaries. This helps you find and maintain a balance between what is work and what isn’t. Treat your work like you would a job and create space for separate activities.

Of course, this is easier said than done. Tori Dunlap, founder of HerFirst100k is no stranger to struggling with productivity. As the face of her brand, she often finds herself unable to separate work and life. She says, “I'm [honestly] still working on [avoiding burnout]. I'm navigating it because I care so much [about my work] – it feels like my child that I need to take care of constantly.”

Still, Tori has found ways to disconnect. On how she avoids burnout, Tori says, “I find being present with people that I love is really helpful for me. I love opportunities where I can forget about work because, honestly, they're few and far between.”

📣
Action: Take time to be present with the people you love.

Learn to be choosy when it comes to what you create – and where you do it

You can’t be on every platform, and we highlighted the pressure that creators might feel as a potential identifier for burnout. An addendum to that is that you can’t create everything, at least not simultaneously. It’s really difficult – at least without support – to be creating long-form content for YouTube, then chopping it up for TikToks or Instagram Reels and running a blog.

📣
Action: Be selective with which shiny new platforms you choose to join – and audit the existing ones you work with already.

Blogger at Buffalo Sauce Everywhere, Renata Leo, says, “Primarily, you learn to be very choosy with what you create. I would love to take on one million projects at one time, but that’s not realistic and will lead to burnout very quickly. Use self-awareness to recognize which opportunities will bring you joy and not leave you burnt out.”

Take frequent breaks

One of the best parts about being a creator is choosing your hours. This means you decide when to clock in or out and aren’t tied to a nine-to-five schedule. Take advantage of that by disconnecting as frequently as possible.

Jack Appleby, Creator at Morning Brew, in addition to his consistent publishing on Twitter and LinkedIn, shares some timely advice. “Something I am playing around with a lot is when I am doing my work and how I am doing my work. If there's a day where I'm just not feeling creative, or I'm not finding it me to write, I disconnect, turn on a movie in the middle of the day, and then revisit [my work] later at night. Because as long as I deliver my newsletter, they don't care when I write it as long as it's turned in on time.”

Avoid making work for yourself and allow rest so you can always do your best creative work. Matt Parkin, the creator of Mornings with Matt and LinkedIn personality, says, “I used to see empty space in my calendar and strive to fill it with more calendar events. The truth is, you can be even more productive by not filling your entire calendar and taking breaks when you need them. As a creator, there's always more you can be doing, whether it be creating new content, sourcing clients or collaborations, or interacting more with your community. Remember to set boundaries and know that most things can wait until tomorrow, so don't lose sleep trying to get everything done today.”

💡Some practical ways to take a break

  • Five-minute meditations you can do at work
  • Take a short walk around your office
  • Stretch at your desk
  • Jot down a gratitude list
  • Schedule time to take a break on your calendar

Give yourself wiggle room

Creativity isn’t a tap you can turn on and off – you might have days when you just can’t produce anything. Writer Anna B. Yang has an extensive and impressive track record, published on sites like Webflow in addition to her newsletter. She says, "Because I can't "force" creativity, I give myself some wiggle room. If things don't go as planned, have some time built in to catch up.”

Consider time-blocking for creative work. Anna shares that she already knows how much creative work she can handle on any given day and reserves a block of time (about one and a half to two hours) for her deepest, most focused work. She adds that she also alternates days that require more intensive creative effort with a bit easier work.

“The longer I've been immersed in creative work, the more forgiving I've become. I used to get so frustrated if I couldn't accomplish all the creative work I had planned. Now I realize that if I keep pushing myself too hard, I'll no longer enjoy the work. I've gotten better about pacing myself."

📣
Action: Be kinder to yourself when the creativity is just not there

Find a system for productivity that works

Productivity is measured and looks different for everyone. But finding a system that works for you is vital. Consider the factors that might affect your creative output, like your audience, platforms, or content type, and work out a system for producing consistent content.

Shayla Price, the creator of PrimoStats – a searchable database of curated marketing statistics, shared her system for productivity. She says, “I divide my tasks into multiple sub-tasks across several days. This method helps me avoid procrastination and the need to rush through my tasks. So, if I need to write a blog post, I'll draft a paragraph a day or focus on a specific section. It takes me longer to finish the task. However, the consistency ensures that I actually finish the task.”

💡Ways to start creating a system for productivity

Automate wherever you can to leave space for creativity

Part of avoiding burnout involves creating systems to manage the work that can happen automatically. Tools like Buffer or Zapier are made specifically to help reduce the need to spread your attention and workload too thin. Invest in tools that help you automate tasks to leave time for other endeavors.

🛠️Get started with Buffer today.

https://buffer.com/resources/creator-burnout/

How My Own Grief Helped Me Better Support My Employees Through the Hard Stuff

How My Own Grief Helped Me Better Support My Employees Through the Hard Stuff

Having lost my dad to cancer when I was just nine years old, I always knew how deeply losing someone you love can change your life. What I didn’t expect was for another major loss to inspire me to start my own business.

But, when my grandmother passed away during my late 20s and I was left in charge of her end-of-life planning, I saw some opportunity in the struggle. I had no idea how to handle all of the complicated logistics—in fact, I had no idea there would be so many logistics!—and I felt overwhelmed in the midst of trying to deal with my own grief. The experience made me realize how unprepared most people are to deal with death, and thus inspired me to co-found my company, Lantern, which provides tools, content, and services to guide people through the end-of-life process.

Navigating loss while working full time also made me realize how unprepared most employers are for supporting their employees through grief. I was working at a startup at the time and, while the company wasn’t unsupportive, they struggled to figure out how they could really help (while also keeping business operations running smoothly). I always felt like I got support with a caveat: Take all the time you need… but make sure nothing falls behind. We don’t have an official policy… but don’t take too much time off. And once my bereavement leave was over, it felt like I was expected to be done grieving.

When starting my own company, my co-founder and I knew we wanted to do things differently, both to better support our employees and to be a model to companies big and small. Here are some of the ways my experience has informed the bereavement benefits and grief-inclusive policies we've implemented on our small team.

I wanted to have a policy in place from the start

As an entrepreneur, I talk to so many business owners who don’t even have an official bereavement policy. “We’ll just figure it out when it happens,” they say, or, “We’ll just let people sort it out with their manager on an individual basis.” When I lost my grandmother, the startup I was working for had this mentality.

There are a few problems with this approach. For one, you’re putting the onus on the grieving person to figure out what’s appropriate to ask for, which is a terrible feeling when you’re already dealing with so much. I wanted as much time as I could get when I lost my grandmother, so I would have loved some guidance on how much was reasonable.

The other issue is that there’s a lot of potential inequity in that situation. For instance, one manager who’s really close with their employees may be happy to give them as much time as they need, while another may not approve as much time off.

Being hyper clear about what we offer from the start removes both of these issues. Our small team at Lantern has been lucky enough to not need extensive bereavement leave yet, but I’m glad to know that, when it inevitably happens, we won’t have to scramble to sort out a policy or leave employees feeling uncertain.

I wanted our policy to reflect real needs (not just be a random number)

The standard bereavement leave policy is three days for the death of an immediate family member, maybe one for non-immediate family or friends, and that time off is generally expected to be taken right after the loss.

Meanwhile, Lantern research estimates that it takes 150+ hours of work (that mostly needs to be completed during business hours) just to navigate the logistical aspects of a death, if you’re in charge of that. That was certainly the case for me, and trying to balance those tasks with limited time off while also doing my job felt completely unattainable. Plus, it didn’t even leave me with time to actually process the grief. By the time I’d gotten to a place where I could do so, it felt like everyone else had expected me to move on (even though the data shows that grief affects people for years, potentially a lifetime, after the actual loss).

I’m not saying employers should give people years off for bereavement leave, but three days feels like an arbitrary and unrealistic number. Our baseline at Lantern is three weeks of paid leave for an immediate family member, and a week for an extended family member, with a few key details that support different needs and timelines for processing:

  • That number is a floor, not a ceiling. We expect that folks will take at least that much, but if they feel like they need more, that becomes a conversation with their manager.
  • Those days can be split up and taken at any point, whether employees need time leading up to the death, immediately after, or even months or years after (such as taking a day off on the anniversary of the death).
  • The relationship of the deceased is defined by our employees. After all, who are we to say that a best friend shouldn’t be considered an immediate family member, that their death isn’t as hard as a sibling? We trust our employees to tell us what they need.

If business owners are unsure of how much time to give, I always encourage them to think about what they would want for themselves and consider if they’re giving that to their employees. If you put yourself in the position of losing someone, would three days be enough?

I wanted to create systems so employees could seamlessly disconnect

Even when I was on leave after the death of my grandmother, it felt like I had to be on point for my team. There were things they needed from me to keep things moving, and I didn’t want to let anything fall behind. So I stayed available, but it was hard to take care of myself when my brain was still half at work.

At Lantern, we’re trying to create the expectation that people can and should truly disconnect during their leave, and we’ll keep the business going in their stead. When business owners worry about lost productivity during that time, there are a few things I like to remind them. First, even if your employee is technically on the clock, they’re not working at full capacity if they’re grieving, so you’re likely losing that productivity anyway.

But, more than that, if the business cannot physically operate when one of your teammates is gone, that’s a business problem, not an individual problem. We try to build access and transparency into how each employee operates across our team so that nothing is completely reliant on one person. For example, we keep updated documentation on in-the-works projects, all of our CRM data is centralized in Hubspot, and each employee has either a formal or informal “buddy” who they’re in constant communication with about the things they’re working on.

Think how you would prepare for someone going on parental leave or sabbatical, and then build that into your everyday systems so someone else can jump in at a moment’s notice (since you typically can’t plan when death will happen). Ensure that, in the wake of a loss, employees have to hand off as little as possible, and that the team won’t have to ping them while they’re grieving.

I wanted support to go beyond leave

Finally, I wanted to make sure our grief support went beyond just giving our employees time away. Even when I was done with my leave after losing my grandmother and ready to return to work, it’s not like I could hit pause on my grief when I entered the office. We wanted to have a grief-inclusive culture so that employees didn’t feel like they had to hide what they’re going through.

A big part of that is giving our “Grief in the Workplace” training to our employees, so that everyone understands how to talk with a grieving teammate and what they can really do to support them. We also recognize that grief plays out beyond the home, so we acknowledge when major world events may be affecting our employees and give them time and space to grieve that, too.

While some may argue it’s not a business’ job to help employees deal with grief, if it’s affecting your employees, it’s affecting your business. By putting the human before the company and giving your team the space and support to process, they’re going to feel more engaged, more loyal to your company, and more confident that they can bring their best selves back to work (when they’re ready).

https://buffer.com/resources/how-my-grief-helped-me-support-my-employees/

Build Week at Buffer: What It Is and How We’re Approaching It

Build Week at Buffer: What It Is and How We’re Approaching It

We’ve dedicated the week of August 22nd to a brand new internal initiative called Build Week. We’ll all be putting aside our regular work for a single week to come together in small groups and work on ideas that can benefit customers or us as a company, ideally with something of value shipped or in place by the end.

The inspiration for Build Week

Before building Buffer, I had several formative experiences attending “build a startup in a weekend”-type events.

Two I attended were run by Launch48 and another was Startup Weekend. Generally, the way that they worked is that anyone could sign up to attend no matter what skill set or level of experience they would be bringing. As long as you were willing to roll up your sleeves, build something, and contribute in any way, you’d be very welcome.

The focus was on building something rapidly from end to end, within the space of a weekend. Teams would be capped to a small number, around three to five people per team, so the groups could move quickly with decision making. Once the teams were formed, you’d get to work and start doing research, building, doing marketing (often all in parallel) to move as fast as possible in building out a minimum viable product and achieving a level of validation.

At the end of the weekend, teams would present what they achieved, what they validated, and what they learned.

Through these events, I met people, formed strong bonds, and stayed in contact for years with them afterward. Some teams even became startups. It felt like highly accelerated learning, and it was intense but fun, very energizing and inspiring.

I’ve been thinking about how this could translate to Buffer and why it would be so powerful for us in our current season, which is where Build Week comes in.

What is Build Week?

Build Week is a week at Buffer where we’ll form teams, work with people we don’t typically work with, and work together on an idea we feel called towards.

The highest level goals of Build Week are to inject into the company and team a spirit of shipping, creativity, and innovation, making progress and decisions rapidly, comfort with uncertainty, and ultimately going from idea to usable value out in the world in the space of a week.

When it comes to the type of projects we’ll work on and the skill sets required to accomplish them, the goal is for those to be far-reaching. While it may seem like Build Week would be more suited to engineers specifically, our goal is to achieve the outcome that everyone realizes they are and can be a Builder.

Ultimately, being a Builder in Buffer Build Week will mean that you are part of a team that successfully makes a change that brings value, and it happens in the short period of a week. Everyone on the team has something to bring to this goal, and I'm personally excited by the variety of projects that will be worked on.

How we’re approaching Build Week

With our high-level vision and ideas for Build Week, several months ago we got to work to bring this concept to life and make it happen.

The first thing we did was form a team to plan and design Build Week itself. Staying true to our vision for Build Week itself, where we want to have small teams of people who don’t normally work together, this is also how we approached forming the Build Week Planning team. With this team in place, we started meeting weekly. On the whole, it has been a small time commitment of 45 minutes per week to plan and design Build Week. As we got closer to the actual week, in the past month, we started meeting for longer and having real working sessions.

Our final design for Build Week consisted of three key stages: Idea Gathering, Team Formation and Build Week.

For the Idea Gathering stage, we created a Trello board where anyone in the team could contribute an idea. We used voting and commenting on the cards, which helped narrow the ideas to those that would be worked on during Build Week. We gave people a few days to submit ideas and received 78 total contributions. This was a big win and a clear indication of a big appetite for Build Week within the company.

The Team Formation stage was a trickier problem to solve and determine the process for. Initially, we had hoped that this could be entirely organic, with people gravitating towards an idea and joining up with people who are also excited to work on that idea. Ultimately, we realized that if we approached it this way, we would likely struggle with our goal of having people work with folks they don’t normally work with, and we wouldn’t have enough control over other aspects such as the time zones within each team. All of this could jeopardize the success of Build Week itself. So we arrived at a hybrid, where we created a Google Form for people to submit their top 3 choices of ideas they’d like to work on. With that information, we determined the teams and made every effort to put people in a team they had put down as a choice.

And the final stage is of course, Build Week itself! The teams have now been formed, and we created a Slack channel for each team to start organizing themselves. We are providing some very lightweight guidance, and we will have a few required deliverables, but other than that, we are leaving it to each team to determine the best way to work together to create value during the week.

If you're a Buffer customer, one small note that as we embrace this company-wide event and time together, we will be shifting our focus slightly away from the support inbox. We will still be responding to your questions and problems with Buffer; however we may be slightly slower than usual. We’re confident that this time for the team to bond and build various projects of value, will ultimately be very beneficial to all Buffer customers.

Why right now is the time for Build Week at Buffer

2020 has been a different year for Buffer. We’re in a position of flatter to declining revenue, and we’ve been working hard to find our path back to healthy, sustainable growth. One key element of this effort has been actively embracing being a smaller company. We’re still a small company, and we serve small businesses. Unless we lean into this, we will lose many of our advantages.

We want to drive more connection across the team in a time where we’ve felt it lacking for the past couple of years. While we’ve been remote for most of our 11+ years of existence, we’ve always found a ton of value from company retreats where we all meet in person, and we’ve suffered during the pandemic where we’ve not been able to have these events. Build Week is an opportunity for us to do that with a whole new concept and event rather than trying to do it with something like a virtual retreat which would likely never be able to live up to our previous retreat experiences.

There’s a big opportunity for exchanging context and ideas of current Buffer challenges within teams where the teams are cross-functional and with people who don’t normally work together. This could help us for months afterward.

Build Week can also be a time where strong bonds, both in work and personally, are formed. My dream would be that after Build Week, people within their teams hit each other up in Slack and jump on a spontaneous catch-up call once in a while because they’ve become close during the week.

We’ve had engineering hack weeks for a long time now. Those have been awesome in their way, but they have been very contained to engineering. And while those events created a lot of value, they often lacked perspectives that would have enhanced the work, such as customer advocacy, design, culture, or operational perspectives.

As a company, we want to challenge some of the processes we have built up over the past few years. Build Week is like a blank canvas – we clear out a whole week and then diligently decide what we need in terms of structure and process to make this concept thrive and no more. This can act as inspiration for us going forward, where we can use the week as an example of rethinking process and questioning the ways we do things.

The opportunity that comes with Build Week

If we are successful with Build Week, I am confident that we will surprise ourselves with just how much value is created by the whole company in that one week alone. In embracing being a small company, we’re currently striving to challenge ourselves by moving at a faster pace without over-working. I think this is possible, and the completely different nature of how we work together in Build Week could give us ideas for what we can adjust to work more effectively and productively together in our regular flow of work.

The opportunity for value creation within Build Week goes far beyond product features or improvements. Build Week will be a time for us to build anything that serves either customers or the team in pursuit of our vision and mission, or strengthens and upholds our values. We can stretch ourselves in the possibilities – there could be a marketing campaign, a data report, improving an existing process in the company, rethinking our tools, creating a new element of transparency, bringing our customers together, etc.

Wish us luck!

I believe Build Week can be one of the most fun, high-energy weeks we’ve had in years. I expect we can come out of the week on a high that can fuel us with motivation and enjoyment of our work for months. That is a worthy goal and something I think we can achieve with a little creativity and the right group of people designing and planning the event.

Of course, part of the beauty of Build Week itself is that just like all the ideas and the freedom to choose how you work in a team, we don’t know everything we’ll learn as a company by doing this. It could be chaotic, there could be challenges, and there will undoubtedly be many insights, but we will be better off for having gone through the process.

Please wish us all luck as we head into next week. There’s a lot of excitement in the company to create value. We hope to have new features to share with you in the coming weeks, and we’ll be back soon with a post sharing how it went.
Have you tried something like Build Week before? If so, how did it go? I’d love to hear from you on Twitter.

https://buffer.com/resources/build-week-at-buffer/

Social Proof: Jack Appleby on Loving your Craft

Social Proof: Jack Appleby on Loving your Craft

This edition of Social Proof features Jack Appleby, our first creator with a presence outside of Twitter. Jack is a social strategist with an impressive resume spanning over ten years. He’s run campaigns for Beats By Dre, Microsoft, and Spotify, and was on the Creative Strategy team at Twitch. He now works at Morning Brew as a Creator writing Future Social, a newsletter about social media strategy.

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To connect with Jack and see more of his work, check out Future Social, Twitter,LinkedIn, and TikTok.

Jack built his Twitter following through in-depth social media analysis threads which got him the attention of his favorite NBA teams and dream companies, as well as provided him opportunities when he needed them the most. In this interview, we talk about loving your craft, career-proofing yourself, and dealing with negativity on social media.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: It’s great to have you in for Social Proof, Jack! What do you think about personal branding in general? Would you even call it a personal brand?

When I started building my social media presence, it wasn't with the idea of a personal brand – I just knew I was living in a small pond. I realized I'd been at one company for five years and hadn’t made enough connections in my industry, and I wanted to learn from other people. Twitter seemed like the best way to meet some new pals.

So I started tweeting my thoughts on advertising and social media, hoping to find new peers and mentors. It was a modest number for years – 5,000, maybe 10,000 followers. Then I started tweeting analysis threads, and suddenly it blew up. In one year, I went from 10,000 followers to 30,000, hitting more than 50,000 now. Once I realized I developed an audience, I sort of had to treat it like a personal brand! And now it’s part of my job! My social media accounts combine with my newsletter, Future Social, to form one big ecosystem at Morning Brew.


But personal brands are one of the most incredible ways to career-proof yourself. I've gotten my last three jobs from Twitter DMs – that’s where the conversation started.

Q: That’s interesting – the initial lack of intention to build a personal brand. There seems to be a common theme among the people we’ve interviewed for this series: either starting with what interests you or focusing on finding community before growing a following. How do you decide which platforms to focus on?

It’s all about your priorities. If you want to build a personal brand, it's natural to go to Twitter. But if you're doing it to get job opportunities and show your expertise, it's probably more valuable to build on LinkedIn, which gets incredible engagement and functionally ties your content directly to your resume.

A friend named Brittany Krystle used to work with GaryVee – now she's a LinkedIn specialist. She encouraged me to repurpose my tweets for LinkedIn – an effortless copy-paste strategy. Literally just tossing my tweets on LinkedIn. So I took her advice and drew an audience of 11,000 followers, all off a minimum-effort posting strategy.

Q: Which do you prefer – Twitter or LinkedIn?

I’ve recently shifted more towards LinkedIn than Twitter. For one, it feels less toxic – you're far less likely to run into extreme negativity on LinkedIn than you are on Twitter. The bird app also has a high chance of anonymous accounts where people aren’t representing themselves, using avatars or some other version of anonymity. On LinkedIn, almost everybody is showing up as who they really are.

On the other hand, LinkedIn gets a bad rep for being very corny and a very white platform, which I think are both incredibly fair criticisms. That said, I’ve found people on LinkedIn come off much more willing to learn and interested in growth conversations than those on Twitter. But that’s anecdotal – everyone's got a different experience!

Q: Can you define your personal brand in three words/phrases/ terms?

Three words might be tough – I can do phrases? One: I want to help people understand social strategy. That is the number one thesis of everything I'm doing now.

And two, I want to be the Julia Child of social media. That second one’s a bit of a joke answer but still rings true for me – I think social media can be broken down enough that anyone can learn in space.

Q: Can you paint a picture of your actions that directly resulted in opportunities?

I started by focusing on writing social media analysis – figured that’d be a good way to show how my brain works. I’d frequently write Twitter threads as case studies to highlight brands doing incredible work in the [social strategy] space.

Eventually, people followed me and reached out – I was building a reputation as a thinker. The reality at the time: there weren’t a ton of people tweeting deep social media strategy! I was able to build a reputation as one of the handful who writes in-depth analysis alongside thought pieces on the future of social. It became a great way for me to find new jobs!


I was laid off from a job due to COVID in mid-2020, and for the first time in my life, I did not have a job – I had never been in that situation ever! So I tweeted my availability, and people who followed me and had seen my expertise were more than happy to retweet, make recommendations and connect me with all kinds of people because I gave them a lot of value in the past. That tweet earned over 280,000 impressions – very, very helpful in the job hunt.

Social Proof: Jack Appleby on Loving your Craft

So I tweeted that, and true story, 12 minutes later, the woman who became my boss at Twitch messaged me and said, “Would you ever be interested in working here?” Three months later, I was wearing purple.


The same thing happened when I decided I wanted to leave Twitch for something new. That was my first time quitting a job without having the next job lined up – it’s a little scary! But I’d always wanted to try it, see what would happen if I openly put myself out there without having to sneak around interviewing.

It worked – I got calls from several of my dream companies and multiple final offers, almost all from conversations that started through Twitter. And eventually, I chose the one I wanted the whole time: to work for Morning Brew.

All of [my opportunities] came from proving my value and helping people way ahead of time. When I eventually had an area of need, people were inclined to help!

All of that came from proving my value and helping people way ahead of time so that those moments when I did have an area of need, which was a job, people were inclined to help and already felt comfortable knowing that I had expertise in the space!

Q: Your content seems to focus on transparency a lot – sharing the highlights and downturns of your career journey. Is that intentional?

I write most of my content about social media and advertising, but interestingly enough when I‘ve asked people how they found me, many reference my mental health content. For example, I wrote a thread about an opportunity I had to work with my favorite NBA player, which I completely ghosted.


It was my dream job, but I was spiraling through depression and struggling with the isolation of the pandemic, so much that I couldn't emotionally even get myself to write the email to do the thing. I had so much shame and confusion in that moment. A year later, I put it out there as a thread that not only went viral in the marketing community but made it all the way to Mark Cuban, the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. I’ve found that being vulnerable helps – I want to normalize discussion about the highs and lows of career-land.

Q: Because you’re a social strategist at heart, I hypothesized that you probably have a system and strategy for content ideas. How much of your personal branding has been a deliberate effort versus on-the-fly content?

A big part of personal branding: if you don't love what you’re building your brand around, it will fail. I’ve found great career success in building a personal brand around social media strategy because I love it! I’m genuinely curious about social media and communities, so it doesn’t feel like work to me. And I think there are real advantages to building a personal brand around your career. But if you're not fascinated by what you talk about, you’ll struggle – it takes a lot of effort.

Social Proof: Jack Appleby on Loving your Craft

Most of my biggest personal brand successes came from making my analysis as accessible as possible. For instance, Xbox had a pretty big leak in 2020 where the image of their new console dropped before their official announcement. In 24 hours, they pivoted their entire social media strategy using memes, so I spent several hours writing out a timeline-based Twitter thread on their process.


I knew that if I nailed it, the thread had a chance to go viral – and it did! But I love this stuff – it's just fun for me to write.

Q: I can corroborate that – having to constantly engage with a topic or industry you don’t care about can be exhausting. Given this, do you think everyone must have a personal brand?

As I’ve matured in my career, the language I use around personal branding has changed quite a bit. In my mid-20s, when I saw these huge opportunities coming my way thanks to my personal brand, I shouted to anyone who’d hear that they absolutely must build a personal brand! But as I’ve built my presence up, I’ve experienced plenty of the downsides, namely the toxicity of strangers. Now I’m more likely to say ‘there are amazing benefits to building a personal brand’ without that ‘you’ve got to do it’ language.

Q: What advice would you give someone trying to separate their personal brand identity from the company or industry they work with?

I think if you're looking to build a personal brand around your professional expertise, talking about your work will be an easy route to do that – it's going to be a cleaner way to share your experiences. Oddly enough, I did it the complete opposite way. A lot of my career was spent at agencies, and while I’ve worked for many big brands, there's always that little worry your clients might think you’re taking too much credit.

I built my accounts by analyzing other people's work because I wasn't sure how much I could talk about my own work! But now, at Morning Brew, I'm encouraged to talk about what I’m up to. If you're allowed to, that can be a huge brand-building technique.

Q: If you were starting over today as a person just building your personal brand, what advice would you give yourself?

Go engage with people. I’ve used Twitter as mostly a publishing platform, sharing my own thoughts. I almost think I made it hard on myself by focusing more on content than community. If I cut back on my production time and spent more hours just getting to know other people on Twitter, it’d have helped in shareability, connections, and support. I definitely recommend you go meet as many people as possible in your community of choice.

Q: What question do you wish I had asked but didn’t?

I think it’s important to highlight the downsides of building a personal brand. Candidly, the first time I went to therapy was because of something that happened on the internet. It wasn’t the only thing driving that decision, but it was the final straw.

The negativity is a major downside, so I have a zero-tolerance blocking policy right now – I currently have 767 accounts blocked and don’t apologize for a single one of them.

Q: What do you see as the future for personal brand building?

If you're building a personal brand based on a profession or your business expertise, there is immense value in having content that is deeper than a single social media post. Twitter is great, but 280 characters on their own only go so far.

Whether it's a newsletter, an encyclopedic YouTube video, a Twitter Note, or a deck that you've shared online, creating an in-depth piece of content – as opposed to high-level Twitter threads – is where you can go from someone who's in the space to someone who's provided value.

Think about this: how are you providing the biggest chunks of value at one time?

The social networks are where you're gonna grow your audience, for sure. But the thing you have to think through is, how are you providing the biggest chunks of value at one time?

Takeaways

Here are some of my favorite takeaways from chatting with Jack.

  • Share what you love talking about anyway: If you’re very passionate about a topic, say the Marvel Cinematic Universe, then you probably love consuming content about it. And you also want others to hear all your thoughts on that topic. There aren’t many topics without a community of people that are passionate about them – and just as you are passionate about something, so are thousands of other people. And they want content. Jack’s passion is social strategy – what’s yours?
  • Protect your mental health: Building an online presence might make you feel like you have to be online all the time, but that can easily lead to burnout and insecurity. Jack prioritizes his mental health and does not hesitate to take actions that protect it while online. Wherever you fall on the content creation spectrum – business owner, social media manager or creator, it’s important to set boundaries and take care of your mental health.
  • Aim to provide value through your content: Jack poses an important question, “How are you providing value?” To grow an engaged audience, you need to go deeper than just posting a tweet or two once every other week. Prioritize experimenting with different formats to deliver your message, and find out how you can turn your expertise into content that connects with your audience.

💡Content creation isn't easy, whether as a job or a side project you’re using to grow your online presence. It takes time and consistency that not a lot of people can afford.

Automation can make it much easier for you to build that consistency – Buffer’s one of the tools that can help you with that.

Get started building your online presence with Buffer today!

https://buffer.com/resources/social-proof-jack-appleby/

5 Organizations To Support This National Nonprofit Day

5 Organizations To Support This National Nonprofit Day

Today marks National Nonprofit Day – a time to recognize and honor the crucial contributions nonprofits provide to their communities. Whether it be legal or mental health services, supporting the arts or accessible education, or fighting for climate justice and animal welfare, nonprofits operate in virtually every field with the mission to empower and uplift marginalized individuals.

By definition, nonprofits are built not to make a profit but instead to provide a public service. These organizations can be lifelines to the individuals they serve because they can offer services at a much lower cost than a traditional business would.

On August 17th, 1894, the U.S. government signed the Tariff Act of 1894 into law which imposed the first federal income tax on companies – but provided a special tax exemption for nonprofits and charitable organizations. To celebrate this occasion, Sherita Herring, a philanthropist, and motivational speaker founded National Nonprofit Day.  

While there are a ton of amazing groups out there, here are five nonprofits that are making a difference in the lives of their community.

ClientEarth combats climate change

Climate change is impacting our world in unprecedented ways. NASA ranked June 2022 as one of the warmest Junes on record, the U.S. saw the hottest nights ever in July 2022, and across the globe this year, there have been client disasters in countries like Brazil, Mexico, Afghanistan, and India to name just a few.

ClientEarth is a UK-based organization fighting to save our planet by working to implement systematic change. Not only are they advocating for climate justice, but a goal of theirs is to create and pass actual legislation that will turn climate solutions into real laws. The six global issues they focus on include: ending pollution, defending wildlife and habitats, protecting forests, strengthening the rule of law, tackling climate change, and promoting environmental justice.

Just this June, the organization won a major victory against the UK government. The outcome ruled the government must produce detailed climate policies to show how they’ll reduce emissions sufficiently to meet its legally binding carbon budgets.

Donate to ClientEarth today.

Lift Louisiana fights for abortion and reproductive rights

In light of the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion rights have been a major topic of discussion in the U.S. Still, reproductive justice is an issue that impacts many people globally. But Lift Louisiana is fighting back. A nonprofit organization, its mission is “to educate, advocate, and litigate for policy changes needed to improve the health and wellbeing of Louisiana's women, their families, and their communities.”

Louisiana has one of the strictest abortion laws in the U.S. And after the reversal of Roe v. Wade, abortion immediately became illegal in the state – with no exceptions for rape or incest. This makes the work of Lift Louisiana so important, as the organization has vowed to continue to support peoples’ rights to abortion.

In a recent podcast episode of The New York Times’s The Daily, entitled “Pregnant at 16,” the organization’s co-executive director Lakeesha Harris shared her personal story of being pregnant at a young age and described why fighting for abortion rights is so important to her.

“When you don’t give people all of their options. When you don’t give people all of their resources. When you don’t give people the health care that they deserve and need, you limit their life, the possibilities. You limit everything about them,” Harris said.

Donate to Lift Louisiana today.

Philippine Animal Rescue Team saves lives

Many shelters worldwide become overpopulated each year with stray dogs, cats, and other animals. Unfortunately, thousands of these animals end up getting euthanized as shelters don’t have the space to house them. According to the ASPCA, The U.S. alone euthanizes roughly 920,000 animals yearly due to crowding in the shelters.

Hoping to tackle this problem, the Philippine Animal Rescue Team (PART) was formed. It is the only no-kill shelter registered in the entire country. The organization rescues helpless animals in need and partners with veterinarians to ensure they receive the proper medical attention. Afterward, PART takes the animal to their animal sanctuary and works to rehome them. If the animal doesn’t find a new home, they remain peacefully at the sanctuary.

Along with directly helping animals, PART also does outreach and provides educational training to the community to equip the public with resources and strategies to help animals. They also offer low-cost neutering services to families with pets and trap and neuter feral cats to help with population control.

Donate to the Philippines Animal Rescue Team today.

ART Together refugees provides a safe space for refugees

By early 2022, over 100 million people worldwide have been displaced – meaning they needed to flee their home country because of conflict, violence, or some kind of human rights violation.

ARTogether is a nonprofit organization in Oakland, California, with the mission to foster community with refugees, asylees, and immigrants who’ve recently relocated to the Bay Area. They do so by providing participants with resources and access to art programs to help individuals feel a sense of belonging.  

ARTogether’s Executive Director, Leva Zand, is a refugee herself and left Iran in 2003 because of religious persecution, so she knows firsthand how isolating this experience can be. The organization offers community and after-school art programs for the youth and has recently implemented an Afghan Wellness program for the many Afghans who’ve immigrated to the Bay Area this past year. The goal is that through these initiatives, members can express themselves and connect with one another.

The organization also provides certain artists with financial assistance in the form of grants and connects them with mentors to assist them in their professional development.

Donate to ARTogether today.

Fountain House breaks the stigma on mental health

While mental health has always been an important topic, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue to the forefront. There has been a 25 percent increase in anxiety and depression in individuals worldwide since 2020, according to the World Health Organization.

Mental health has unfortunately been stigmatized, but Fountain House is an organization with the mission to empower those impacted by mental illness. A core service offered by the nonprofit is Social Practice, i.e., “a specialized form of therapy that uses the setting of an intentional community to assist people in their mental health recovery.”

Along with counseling, the organization offers its members transitional employment opportunities, assists with education goals, and offers a safe physical space at their clubhouse in New York. Fountain House also hosts dozens of events with the hope of educating others and changing the way mental illnesses are perceived.  

Donate to Fountain House today.

While nonprofits deserve support year-round, today would be an especially opportune time to donate to one. Consider lending some of your time if you can’t provide monetary support. Many nonprofits rely on community volunteers to assist them with everyday operations and administrative tasks. You can also follow your local nonprofits on social media and spread the word about their services.

At Buffer, we’re always looking to support new organizations making a positive impact and even offer discounted pricing to nonprofits.

Is there a particular nonprofit you’re a fan of? Send a Tweet or DM and let us know!

https://buffer.com/resources/national-nonprofit-day/

Burnout Sent Me to the Hospital— Here are the Early Signs I Look Out for Now

Burnout Sent Me to the Hospital— Here are the Early Signs I Look Out for Now

One of the biggest myths about burnout is that it can’t happen if you love the work that you’re doing. I am certainly proof positive of the opposite.

In 2015, I was celebrating 10 years of working as the head of advertising for the largest eyewear company in the world. On the surface, I actively loved what I was doing. I had fantastic bosses and an amazing team who I learned from every day. I got to work on interesting projects and was given a lot of creative freedom and opportunity to experiment. I was living in beautiful Italy and regularly traveled around the world for work. All in all, I thought I was living the professional dream.

But my body was sending me warning signs that things weren’t as great as I made them out to be, signs I unfortunately didn’t even know to look out for. I’ll share more about those in a minute, but it all came to a head when I woke up one morning and couldn’t see out of my right eye. What followed was 10 days of extensive testing to rule out all possible causes: MS, stroke, and other autoimmune or neurological diseases. Finally, when I tested negative for everything else, the doctors concluded that my vision loss might be stress-related.

Thankfully, my vision came back after a few weeks of rest—but my drive to return to the way things had been did not. I took more time off to prioritize my health and consider what I wanted to do with the next chapter of my life. Based on my own experience and desire to help others avoid a similar fate, I decided to go back to school to study the neuroscience and psychology of mental health, ultimately getting a master’s degree in Organizational Psychology. Since then, I’ve started Moodally, an app and group training program that uses creative and science-backed strategies to help people better recognize their moods and change them in real time.

Throughout my studies, I learned about all the biological and neurological processes that are affected by stress and the dozens of ways it can show up in the body. Looking back, I can now see the warning signs my body was trying to send me—signs I now keep an eye out for as a busy small business owner. Here they are, along with some of the strategies I now use to keep my stress in check in those moments.

I Was Waking Up With No Energy Every Morning

One of the clearest early signs of burnout is regularly waking up after a full night’s sleep and immediately having no energy: I’m talking sitting on the edge of your bed, head between your hands, not feeling like you can possibly face the day.

For months before I lost my vision, every day felt like a Herculean effort to get out of bed and to get to work. Even though I enjoyed the work I was doing and the people I was with once I got there, getting started each morning took everything out of me.

I now know that I was likely experiencing a cortisol plateau. Cortisol is sometimes known as the “stress hormone” because it’s released during times of stress to give you energy to deal with the situation, but it’s also closely tied to your sleep-wake cycle. Normally, you get a spike of cortisol first thing in the morning to give you a feeling of wakefulness. But, if you’ve had ongoing stress, your body has released so much cortisol that it has nowhere to go.

Too many people, especially small business owners or passionate creatives, think exhaustion is a necessary part of working hard toward something we care about. While it can happen occasionally from a bad night of sleep or a busy week and not be a sign of burnout, if it’s happening consistently over time, I know it means that something needs to shift so that my sympathetic nervous system gets the down time it needs.

I Was Feeling Incredibly Bored With My Day-to-Day

Another common sign that burnout is brewing is a deep feeling of boredom. When I hear people wonder when things are going to change or wish for some sort of disruptive event to shuffle the cards, I often suggest they need to care for their mental health before they make any drastic changes.

Even though I was generally very happy with my job, I’d been there for 10 years, and every day was starting to feel the same. On a deeper level, I was getting tired of making billionaires more billions and wondering if there was something more meaningful I could do with my talents. It was getting harder and harder to feel excited about the projects I was working on and continue bringing my best creative ideas.

I now understand that this was related to a lack of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter some call our brain’s “reward center,” playing a huge role in pleasure and motivation. When we succeed at something at work, we get a hit of dopamine, which motivates us forward. But, when we do the same thing over and over again, even if those things are successful, we don’t get the same dopamine response because we’ve already done it. That makes it harder to feel motivated to keep showing up day after day.

Our dopamine system loves new successes and challenges, so persistent boredom can be a clue that you need to change up your work to avoid getting tired of doing it. Even now, as a small business owner with new challenges every day, this boredom can creep in. Instead of seeing it as a sign that I need to completely overhaul my life, I recognize it as an opportunity to make small tweaks to keep myself engaged in working towards my mission.

I Was More Cynical and Irritable

Finally, a common early warning sign of burnout is a shift in personality, often causing people to become more cynical and jaded and more easily irritated.

Before I lost my vision, I noticed myself dwelling on problems instead of being solution-oriented. Whereas I used to have an attitude of “we can do it!”, I started thinking things like, “I doubt that’s going to work” or “what’s even the point?” It was even worse when someone would ask me for help with something: I lacked the energy or the desire to go to bat for them.

It took me the entire process of healing to realize that I was unable to care for others because I wasn’t taking care of myself. I was taking multiple flights a week, sleeping on planes, not eating well, not exercising. In addition to exacerbating my exhaustion and lack of motivation, it meant I didn’t have any spare energy to give to others. If you think of energy like a well of water, I was giving and giving and giving my water until I was dried up, and then getting mad at others for taking my water, instead of realizing the core issue was that I wasn’t doing anything to protect or replenish it.

Now, when I find myself unable to see solutions or getting frustrated more easily, I know it’s a sign that I probably need to prioritize my own needs.

As so many entrepreneurs know, running a business is stressful, and burnout is always a risk. But now that I know these early warning signs, I can turn things around before they get really bad. I can step away for a few hours or days to care for my needs and let my cortisol levels calm down. (Pro tip: Unless you’re saving lives, nothing is truly so urgent that you can’t ask for more time so you can care for yourself.) I can reframe what I “have to” do as what I “choose to” do, which helps me understand what I need to say no to and reprioritize so I have work I’m excited about.  

Or I can just spend some time doing something that brings me joy with no other goal than filling my well back up—so that I can go back to the work I care so deeply about refreshed and with a better mind to get things done

https://buffer.com/resources/burnout-early-signs-i-look-out-for/

I Thought My Mission Could Carry My Business, But I Needed a Good Product, Too

I Thought My Mission Could Carry My Business, But I Needed a Good Product, Too

In 2017, I was living in Malawi, a small landlocked country in South East Africa that—although geographically stunning and full of smiles—is also among the poorest countries in the world. After first visiting in 2012, I instantly fell in love with the people and decided to move here full time to learn from and invest in the local community. And after months of conversations with community leaders to listen to their stories, their needs, and their solutions, I felt that helping improve access to jobs and social programs was the biggest way I could make a positive impact on this place that I now called home.

At the time, it seemed so simple: I would provide jobs by creating a product we could sell in America to raise money, and then in turn help uplift this community by starting social programs and contributing to the local economy. As a jewelry lover, I naively thought I could teach people with no background in jewelry making how to make export-quality jewelry (a skillset I also had zero experience with). And so, in 2018 my social-impact jewelry company, Yewo, was born.

The actual jewelry piece of that equation, though, was an afterthought.

Because these issues in Malawi were so pertinent for me, I believed that if I shared our mission with other people, they’d immediately want to support us regardless of what we were actually selling.

I started working with three people from Manchewe Village to create our first line of jewelry. Our early designs and craftsmanship were scrappy, to say the least: hammered coins, pieces of wood with makeshift holes, chicken and quail feathers we found around the village. We had a hodgepodge of 20-some different styles, none of which felt like a cohesive line. We weren’t using proper jewelry-making techniques or tools, so many pieces would break down quickly. Our packaging was flimsy paper, but we had the artisans sign it in hopes that people would forgive the lower-quality work in favor of impact.

I Thought My Mission Could Carry My Business, But I Needed a Good Product, Too
Early Yewo designs (on the left) compared to Yewo designs today.

When I would take our jewelry to markets or pitch potential wholesale customers, I led with our story: We do grassroots community development to support one of the poorest countries in the world, and if you buy these earrings, you can help.

To me, the approach was compelling, but people tended to glaze right over the mission and focus on the product. Most weren’t interested in purchasing, and those who did seemed more motivated by pity than anything else. Sometimes customers would reach out later with complaints about quality, or simply wouldn’t buy from us again. Most of the boutiques we reached out to never responded, and those who did sent constructive feedback on the product instead of order forms.

Meanwhile, I was focusing much of my energy on starting social programs to create equitable opportunities: a local nursery school, a women’s small business and micro-lending program, and an educational scholarship program. All of this would hypothetically be supported by our jewelry sales—but those sales weren’t high enough to provide the revenue we needed.

In short, the business was struggling, we were not making the positive impact we had hoped for, and I was left feeling defeated and spread thin. That’s when I realized our mission alone wasn’t enough—we needed to have an elevated product people were excited to buy, too.

Over the past two years, I began to shift my focus to turn the company around by creating a product that customers couldn’t wait to buy, which in turn has supported our social-impact goals more than I could have imagined possible. Here’s how I did it.

I put our impact on the back burner (instead of our products)

The first thing I had to do was flip my internal script on the most important aspect of our business—and where, therefore, I needed to spend the bulk of my time and resources. After realizing our customers were attracted to a well-made, design-driven product and saw the mission and ethical story behind it as a bonus, I needed to allocate my efforts similarly.

This meant, at least in the short term, scaling back and closing some of our social programs. Being so involved in the day to day needs of the community, this was obviously hard for me to do. But I had to remember that my customers in the U.S. weren’t as immersed in the issues facing Malawians as I was—they had their own lives, with causes closer to home that they cared about. I realized that creating a desirable product, not just telling them about another problem with the world, would make for an easier sale (which would ultimately lead to greater impact).

This also meant scaling back our product line and doing the research and development work we should have done before launching. My partner Kyle joined Yewo around this time, and together we started talking to friends and customers in the U.S. about what they looked for in their jewelry, learned about trends within the industry, and took courses from professional metalsmith jewelers. We learned so much during this time, which we took back to Malawi and began training our new team on proper jewelry-making construction that would stand the test of time.

I took customer feedback seriously (instead of getting defensive)

When I first launched the company, I was stubborn and somewhat unwilling to take constructive criticism. When customers or shopkeepers said they didn’t like our designs, I told myself they weren’t our ideal customer. When someone complained about quality, I’d get frustrated that they weren’t being more forgiving given all the valuable work we were doing behind the scenes.

However, everything shifted when I started seeing the customer as the hero of our story. Even though our mission is to provide opportunities for Malawians, our customers are the stakeholders who are ultimately going to help us make it happen. Our focus every day has to be making them feel valued so that they’ll be excited about our product and want to continue supporting our work.

I learned how to consider all the feedback we’d gotten previously, as well as asking our current customers uncomfortable questions about their experience. We created Instagram surveys, emailed our partner shops, and talked to people face-to-face about their honest thoughts about our jewelry—which was not easy to hear, but so worth it.

We learned that people wanted to invest in simple, everyday jewelry, so we pared back our statement designs to focus on a more streamlined and minimal look. Boutique owners gave us feedback that cleaner, thicker packaging sells better, so we changed those designs. Most recently, we heard a lot of customer complaints about the brass tarnishing over time, so we decided to upgrade to gold-plating. This has been a continuous process of making changes, getting more feedback, and improving the product.

It was hard to hear constructive feedback when I felt like I was doing the best I could. But, I’ve also realized that it’s amazing to have people who care enough about what we’re doing to provide tangible information on how we can improve. And, ultimately, when the customer is buying something they love, it’s a win for them, for the business, and for the mission.

I invested for the long run (instead of the quick sale)

Finally, we had to shift our approach from making the product (and thus, the financial impact) as quickly as possible, to being willing to invest in things that will benefit our company and mission in the long run.

For instance, in the early days of making our jewelry we did not have access to electricity, which meant that we were only able to use hand tools at the workshop. We tried our best to improvise by gluing on studs with an epoxy, or sanding everything by hand instead of using a jewelry tumbler. But after taking a hard look at our product and thinking about our long-term goals, we decided to take the leap in 2020 and invest our personal savings and a loan (about $30,000) for the necessary solar power plus the proper equipment, machines, materials, and training for our team to produce a truly quality product.

It was scary to put down that money, but the investments have paid off: Our business has since grown exponentially and you can now find Yewo jewelry in over 80 shops around the world.

And as our business grows, so does our team and impact. We are now able to provide our 15 staff members with extremely competitive salaries plus social benefits (including paid days off, retirement benefits, medical coverage, and access to interest-free loans).

So, ultimately, my journey all comes back to the mission.

We have seen our staff flourish not only by learning and mastering a completely new skillset, but also by investing in their families and community outside of work. Thanks to our jewelry sales, our artisans are now able to send their children to good schools, build strong houses, invest in solar energy, and even start their own businesses. They have helped to improve this village in northern Malawi by simply having the money to employ other individuals to work in their garden, employ local builders, and invest in local produce and shops.

In addition, over the last two years we have reinvested our profits into social programs that can now sustainably stand on their own, such as a local tree planting initiative, monthly wages for two teachers at neighboring primary school to help reduce classroom sizes, and a Yewo scholarship program to provide scholarships for orphaned teens to attend secondary school.

Again, all made possible by a design-driven, quality product. Our deeper mission is still part of our brand and marketing: For instance, we regularly share behind-the-scenes looks into what we’re doing on the ground in Malawi on our social media, and are working on an annual report to share this impact in a more professional way. But customers are drawn to us initially for the gorgeous jewelry.

In short, we’ve improved the local economy more than I thought possible. But, to get there, I had to first focus on creating a product people would love on its own—mission or not.

https://buffer.com/resources/my-business-needed-a-good-product/

How This Entrepreneur is Growing Her Baby Brand Organically on Instagram

How This Entrepreneur is Growing Her Baby Brand Organically on Instagram

For entrepreneur Assie Khoussa, the boundaries between work and personal life are almost nonexistent. Some of this industriousness comes from necessity – running a baby brand as a single mother is no easy feat, requiring Assie to be in work mode 24/7. But, the success of her small business also stems from Assie’s ability to show up as herself 100 percent of the time. In fact, Eizzy Baby originated because of the entrepreneur’s relatability.

“Eizzy Baby really started from me sharing things that I was using every day with my son and thinking nothing of it,” Assie said. “I was going on my personal page on Instagram, sharing ‘I just got this snack cup,’ And then all my parent friends were like, ‘Wow, where did you get it from?’”

In 2020, amid a pandemic, Assie officially launched Eizzy Baby and started selling silicone bibs, snack cups, and suction plates, among other items. A core tenet for the brand is to provide durable and nontoxic products that make parents’ lives easier and simpler. And while Eizzy Baby has seen a lot of success, it hasn’t always been an easy road for Assie, the small business’s one and only employee. Still, two years in, Eizzy Baby has already won over tons of loyal customers.

If you ask Assie what her game plan has been, she’ll tell you that there is no grand strategy she follows. And that’s what’s most refreshing about Eizzy Baby – its growth can mostly be credited to Assie’s authenticity. She’s easily connected with her customers through Instagram by sharing her own experiences as a mother, using very few paid advertising and marketing efforts.

This realness seeps into everything Assie does and is a big reason why she resonates with so many, including Tracy Jabbal, one of Eizzy Baby’s longtime customers.

“To support a real person — you get such a different sense of [Assie] and how she's taking care of [her son] Noah and wants to do good for herself and have a productive, successful business,” Tracy said.

And while Assie’s reality as a single mom and small-business owner may not always be picture perfect, the entrepreneur has no intention of filtering herself.

“Instagram tends to be so perfect,” she said. “I live more of a TikTok life where it's raw, uncut, unedited.”

Finding her footing

At first, Assie wanted to sell diaper bags. She ordered a ton of inventory and thought customers would buy up her products like hotcakes…until they didn’t. This initial miscalculation didn’t stop her, however.

“I always had a lot of grit,” Assie said. “I don't really take no for an answer, especially when it’s something I want in life. So I just picked back up and tried something different.”

She remembered specific items that she had casually shared on her Instagram Stories – including baby plates – that seemed to resonate most with her followers. This catapulted what would become Eizzy Baby, but there were still some hurdles Assie had to overcome. Specifically, the entrepreneur wished that she trusted herself more when Eizzy Baby was in its infancy.

As she got her brand up and running, she encountered marketing and PR agencies who tried to convince Assie they had Eizzy Baby’s best interest at heart.  

“When I first started, I was believing in everybody that came to me, and was like, ‘hey, I can do this for your business. And I could do that.’ That was hard for me,” Assie said. “I lost a lot of money that way.”

Quickly, however, Assie learned to rely on herself, and to this day, she manages every aspect of Eizzy Baby – from marketing to buying to customer service – on her own. As an entrepreneur, she’s also resourceful and takes advantage of free training whenever possible, like when she recently participated in a live website audit that Shopify offered to small businesses.

Eventually, Assie was able to hire her first employee, who helped with Eizzy Baby’s social media and blog. However, in the spring of 2022, the business slowed down, and Assie had to cut back and let her first employee go. This also coincided with Assie’s birthday and a time when the mom and business owner was feeling extremely burned out. While this moment was frustrating, the entrepreneur picked herself back up.

“I just gave myself grace… I allowed myself to fall,” Assie said. “And then go back to figuring out how I can be more creative and give myself the okay to continue to show up as myself.”

Creating community online

With nearly 5,000 followers, Eizzy Baby’s Instagram account is where Assie connects with her customers the most – usually on Instagram Stories or through her many Reels. For Tracy, Assie’s depiction of certain parenting situations – like the struggle of hiding snacks from your kids – was just one of the reasons she became a fan of the brand.

“[Assie] does a lot of really funny, super relatable Reels and polls,” Tracy said. “And as a mother, I can really connect to that. You get this feeling she's such a genuine person.”

But the entrepreneur also uses social media to collect customer feedback and opinions on new colors and designs for her snack cups and bibs. She’s even joked that she owes all her Instagram followers a certain percentage of the profits since they’ve helped shape so many Eizzy Baby products. In this way, Assie has been building in public and including her community in on her small business’s journey.

And Instagram is not the only platform where Assie has cultivated this kind of relationship with her customers. She’s also used Facebook Groups, specifically parenting ones, to connect with like-minded individuals. By joining these online spaces, Assie has been able to network with parents and introduce her brand as a solution to some of the challenges they face. This aligns with her goal to create products that will ultimately help moms and dads spend more time with their kids.

“The theme for all of my products is simple and easy,” Assie said. “Like, just cut off as much stress as possible. So [Eizzy Baby products] make your life as a mom and as a parent just a little bit easier.”

Not only do customers enjoy Assie’s social media presence, but they also genuinely like Eizzy Baby’s products. As a mom of children ages two and five years old, Tracy has tested dozens of baby brands from the U.S. and Europe and has yet to find one that’s stood up to Eizzy Baby. In particular, she especially appreciates the Snack Cup’s collapsible design and spill proof functionality.

“Of all the things that we've tried, from Target, Amazon, stores in Europe, [Eizzy Baby’s] stuff has easily been favorites in terms of durability and longevity. It's outlasted everything else,” Tracy said.

By being vulnerable and sharing both the ups and downs of parenthood, Assie has been able to successfully sell her brand, but more importantly, she’s also built a community with her followers.

“I noticed that whenever I show up — it's just me. No eyebrows on, nothing. I get more engagement, I get more love, I get more support, I get more buyers,” she said. “The best part is  I get to have this business and still be a mom, still be myself, and still show the hot mess that happens in the background.”

Making an impact

While running a small business is already hectic enough, it was still important for Assie to include a charitable component to her brand. On Eizzy Baby’s homepage is a tab for an organization called Angel House International, which provides resources for young women in Uganda.  

Assie first worked with Angel House International years earlier when she was a part of a local foundation that provided meals on wheels and other services to her community. There, she watched a presentation on the organization and learned about the difficulties facing many Ugandan girls and young women, including growing up in poverty, dealing with gender discrimination and sexual violence, and having to drop out of school at a young age.

“Growing up in Senegal, I felt so free as a child. I had no worries,” Assie said. “And I couldn't imagine having someone go through some of those things.”

Once Eizzy Baby was up and running, Assie knew she wanted to support this cause in any way she could. After learning the group was building a facility and dormitory for the girls, Assie started advertising Angel House International’s Beads of Hope – bracelets made by the girls themselves – on Eizzy Baby’s site and social media. 100 percent of the contributions from the beads go directly to helping and empowering girls in Uganda. Along with spreading the word about Angel House International, Assie has donated proceeds from certain Eizzy Baby sales to the organization.

Incorporating this social impact into her brand was a natural move for the small-business owner.

“It was seamless. I've worked with [Angel House International] in the past and fell in love with the organization,” Assie said. “It was just something I could do to create impact every single day with our sales.”

On the surface, Eizzy Baby provides parents with non-toxic and ethically sourced products, but it's clear that for Assie, her brand is about so much more than that. It's a way for her to connect with other moms, raise awareness for deserving causes, and most importantly, a space for the entrepreneur to be her true self.

https://buffer.com/resources/growing-business-organically-on-instagram/

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

If you asked someone 20 years ago what their favorite social media platforms were, chances are they wouldn’t have an answer for you. Although the common consensus is that the earliest social media platform was developed in 1996, the number of people using those platforms is nothing compared to the billions who use social media today.

Social media platforms have evolved since the 90s – while it was once meant for personal updates, the most popular platforms now have large user bases and are vehicles for launching brands and careers. However, beyond Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and all the popular social media platforms, developers are working on new apps and trying to change the way social media works in one way or another. In this article, we’ll review some of the newest ones you may have never heard of.

BeReal creates pockets of authenticity throughout the day

“Everyday at a different time, everyone is notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo in 2 minutes.” This is the simple tagline accompanying the simple app, Be Real that has taken off in recent months.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: BeReal

BeReal was launched in 2020 by two French developers, Alexis Barreyat & Kevin Perreau. The app’s main feature is a daily notification that encourages users to share photos of themselves and their immediate surroundings during a random two-minute window every day.

The app is currently having its time in the spotlight, especially as it offers users a different experience than any other social media platform. In his newsletter Platformer, journalist Casey Newton wrote about the rise in popularity of BeReal, saying that it “…combines nostalgia for social apps that came before with an anxiety about the world those apps created.” Even the app's notification – ⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️ – has become a meme.


Because of its emphasis on unfiltered and unscheduled posting, BeReal doesn’t have many use cases for businesses – but that isn’t stopping brands. It could be an interesting, new way to connect with your audience authentically.

Download: iOS | Android

Polywork is LinkedIn’s cooler, younger sister

According to the team behind the platform, Polywork is a professional social network that lets users share what they’re up to both personally and professionally and send collaboration requests to others.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Polywork

The platform aims to take on LinkedIn, emphasizing that people (and their careers) are more than just the roles they’ve held. Polywork is the best way for multi-hyphenates to show off everything they’re working on.

It’s also a great way to find people to collaborate with (I’ve used it to source quotes for an article), test your products, and go deeper into the everyday activities that bring you joy to work on.

You currently need an invite to join Polywork, so I’m sharing the twelve I’ve been granted. The invites are not unlimited, so don’t hesitate to pay it forward when you create your own account.

🖊️
Get started with Polywork today through this link.

Applaudable allows users to share daily pleasures

Launching in 2022, Applaudable will allow users to share daily pleasures by 'Applauding' them – whether it’s for a book they read or a recipe they tried. Applaudable strives to “improve the quality of life of its users by focusing on specific, genuine experiences its users love or appreciate, and making them available on its platform in such a way that they can be repeated by others.”

The app has potential for businesses as it will offer a commercial element from the get-go, allowing users to order products or book services they want to try.While it’s still in early access, a platform spokesperson says there has been high interest, and registrations are in the tens of thousands. If you’re interested, you can also register ahead of the app’s launch in August.

Supernova is the ethical way to engage on social media

Supernova is branded as the “ethical alternative” to Instagram and Facebook, as most of its ad revenue goes to charities. Supernova claims it will start with only human moderators as part of its Charter for Users to deal with hate speech properly.

The app’s founder and CEO Dominic O’Meara said to TechCrunch that sponsors and charities have chosen to engage with the brand because of its “inclusive social network with user safety at it’s heart.”

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Supernova

According to the app’s website, users can nominate which charitable field they want to support with the cash that Supernova gleans from its ad partners. When a user’s post is liked, their choice of charity will earn a bigger slice of the “Supernova Action Fund” as a donation. So far, mental health charity MQ Mental Health is the first charity selected to benefit, with more options presumably on the way.

Supernova has the potential to become a great platform for businesses looking to be more inclusive and give back to their community.

Download: iOS | Android

Sunroom is all about the creator

Sunroom is a newcomer to the social media space, like many apps on this list, but it’s the first one directly for creators. Founders Lucy Mort and Michelle Battersby created the app to support women and non-binary creators and help them make money.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Sunroom

Sunroom mixes the monetization model of platforms like Patreon or OnlyFans with a well-designed social feed. But in a TechCrunch article, the founders say that that’s where the similarities end. “Sunroom is designed to provide an alternative to traditional social media apps, one that empowers people who are tired of seeing their content devalued and censored elsewhere.”

There’s no word on what the brand experience will be like on the app (or if there will even be one), but Sunroom is a great opportunity for creators looking for alternative ways to monetize their content.

Between their anti-screenshot technology called SunBlock and three monetization options, Sunroom plans to be a safe space for creators who want to connect with their audience in ways they may not be able to on big tech’s platforms.

Download: iOS

Pearpop connects brands and creators

Pearpop is a social platform that connects creators and brands looking to collaborate with them. Founded by Guy Oseary in 2020, Pearpop “gives brands direct and instant access to collaborate with creators at scale.”

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Pearpop

According to TechCrunch, PearPop’s platform works by letting TikTok celebrities set a price for screen time. They can accept bids and preview the content, ensuring it aligns with their persona. Once paid, the celebrity posts the shared-screen video.

Another platform feature is "Challenges," which allows brands to activate creator campaigns on-demand. This means that a brand can set up a campaign, and creators that want to participate can do so and be reimbursed for their level of engagement. So any TikTok challenge you’ve seen a major celebrity participate in just might have resulted from a Pearpop connection.

For smaller businesses and creators, Pearpop is an opportunity to filter a large number of potential collaborators to a more manageable handful with which you can build relationships. The app has the potential to democratize how creators sort out brand partnerships.

Whichever side of the equation you’re on, get started with Pearpop here.

Locket lets you share photos to your friends’ home screens

Locket turns Apple’s widget system into a social networking platform for users and their friends. The app lets users share live photos from friends to their home screen.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Locket

Users invite friends to download the app and join their network, then add Locket’s widgets to their home screen. From there, they can add photos to Locket, and the widget will automatically update throughout the day.

@locketcamera

🐈‍⬛ #locket #fyp #catsoftiktok #homescreen

♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral – WZ Beat

Its audience loves the app – it has a 4.6 rating on the Apple store. One user said that they downloaded it to use with their family after seeing an ad for the app.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

The app’s social media content seems to resonate with its users – they’ve amassed over 70,000 followers on TikTok – with reviews from users saying they downloaded the app after seeing a post about it.

The app also presents an interesting opportunity for brands to reach consumers by turning the widget feature into advertising space.

Download: iOS | Android

Superlocal lets you earn by sharing your location

⚠️
Disclaimer: This article does not seek to offer financial advice. Engage with these platforms at your own risk.

Diving into more experimental territory, Superlocal is a product of the surge in interest in Web3. The app is a social network that lets you earn cryptocurrency and NFTs when you visit different locations. You can check-in, submit your post, and earn real rewards through the platform.

8 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Superlocal

According to a whitepaper published by the team behind the app, Superlocal is “designed to make every day life feel like a fun game. It is meant to give people a sense of community and belonging to the nearby (local) area, instead of feeding people content from around the world. User feeds naturally localize because of the checking in mechanism, since most people spend the majority of their time near where they live. The goal of Superlocal is to help people love where they live and incentivize them to enjoy and explore the nearby.”

Through the app, users can check in when they visit somewhere new, create a post about the place they’re visiting and earn cryptocurrency for their engagement. Read more about the app’s creation and launch here.

Download: iOS

Social media – and the apps that facilitate it – is evolving

Social media is in an interesting place right now, between calls for better handling of customer data and dissatisfaction with big tech’s changes to their apps. Different apps are coming out to tackle one challenge or another – it’ll be interesting to see how or if they can alter how social media currently functions.

What exciting new social media platforms have you come across? Have you used any apps on our list or plan to use them? Let us know your experiences with them over on Twitter @buffer!

https://buffer.com/resources/new-social-media-platforms/

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

If you asked someone 20 years ago what their favorite social media platforms were, chances are they wouldn’t have an answer for you. Although the common consensus is that the earliest social media platform was developed in 1996, the number of people using those platforms is nothing compared to the billions who use social media today.

Social media platforms have evolved since the 90s – while it was once meant for personal updates, the most popular platforms now have large user bases and are vehicles for launching brands and careers. However, beyond Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and all the popular social media platforms, developers are working on new apps and trying to change the way social media works in one way or another. In this article, we’ll review some of the newest ones you may have never heard of.

BeReal creates pockets of authenticity throughout the day

“Everyday at a different time, everyone is notified simultaneously to capture and share a photo in 2 minutes.” This is the simple tagline accompanying the simple app, Be Real that has taken off in recent months.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: BeReal

BeReal was launched in 2020 by two French developers, Alexis Barreyat & Kevin Perreau. The app’s main feature is a daily notification that encourages users to share photos of themselves and their immediate surroundings during a random two-minute window every day.

The app is currently having its time in the spotlight, especially as it offers users a different experience than any other social media platform. In his newsletter Platformer, journalist Casey Newton wrote about the rise in popularity of BeReal, saying that it “…combines nostalgia for social apps that came before with an anxiety about the world those apps created.” Even the app's notification – ⚠️ Time to BeReal. ⚠️ – has become a meme.


Because of its emphasis on unfiltered and unscheduled posting, BeReal doesn’t have many use cases for businesses – but that isn’t stopping brands. It could be an interesting, new way to connect with your audience authentically.

Download: iOS | Android

Polywork is LinkedIn’s cooler, younger sister

According to the team behind the platform, Polywork is a professional social network that lets users share what they’re up to both personally and professionally and send collaboration requests to others.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Polywork

The platform aims to take on LinkedIn, emphasizing that people (and their careers) are more than just the roles they’ve held. Polywork is the best way for multi-hyphenates to show off everything they’re working on.

It’s also a great way to find people to collaborate with (I’ve used it to source quotes for an article), test your products, and go deeper into the everyday activities that bring you joy to work on.

You currently need an invite to join Polywork, so I’m sharing the twelve I’ve been granted. The invites are not unlimited, so don’t hesitate to pay it forward when you create your own account.

🖊️
Get started with Polywork today through this link.

Applaudable allows users to share daily pleasures

Launching in 2022, Applaudable will allow users to share daily pleasures by 'Applauding' them – whether it’s for a book they read or a recipe they tried. Applaudable strives to “improve the quality of life of its users by focusing on specific, genuine experiences its users love or appreciate, and making them available on its platform in such a way that they can be repeated by others.”

The app has potential for businesses as it will offer a commercial element from the get-go, allowing users to order products or book services they want to try.While it’s still in early access, a platform spokesperson says there has been high interest, and registrations are in the tens of thousands. If you’re interested, you can also register ahead of the app’s launch in August.

Supernova is the ethical way to engage on social media

Supernova is branded as the “ethical alternative” to Instagram and Facebook, as most of its ad revenue goes to charities. Supernova claims it will start with only human moderators as part of its Charter for Users to deal with hate speech properly.

The app’s founder and CEO Dominic O’Meara said to TechCrunch that sponsors and charities have chosen to engage with the brand because of its “inclusive social network with user safety at it’s heart.”

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Supernova

According to the app’s website, users can nominate which charitable field they want to support with the cash that Supernova gleans from its ad partners. When a user’s post is liked, their choice of charity will earn a bigger slice of the “Supernova Action Fund” as a donation. So far, mental health charity MQ Mental Health is the first charity selected to benefit, with more options presumably on the way.

Supernova has the potential to become a great platform for businesses looking to be more inclusive and give back to their community.

Download: iOS | Android

Sunroom is all about the creator

Sunroom is a newcomer to the social media space, like many apps on this list, but it’s the first one directly for creators. Founders Lucy Mort and Michelle Battersby created the app to support women and non-binary creators and help them make money.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Sunroom

Sunroom mixes the monetization model of platforms like Patreon or OnlyFans with a well-designed social feed. But in a TechCrunch article, the founders say that that’s where the similarities end. “Sunroom is designed to provide an alternative to traditional social media apps, one that empowers people who are tired of seeing their content devalued and censored elsewhere.”

There’s no word on what the brand experience will be like on the app (or if there will even be one), but Sunroom is a great opportunity for creators looking for alternative ways to monetize their content.

Between their anti-screenshot technology called SunBlock and three monetization options, Sunroom plans to be a safe space for creators who want to connect with their audience in ways they may not be able to on big tech’s platforms.

Download: iOS

Pearpop connects brands and creators

Pearpop is a social platform that connects creators and brands looking to collaborate with them. Founded by Guy Oseary in 2020, Pearpop “gives brands direct and instant access to collaborate with creators at scale.”

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Pearpop

According to TechCrunch, PearPop’s platform works by letting TikTok celebrities set a price for screen time. They can accept bids and preview the content, ensuring it aligns with their persona. Once paid, the celebrity posts the shared-screen video.

Another platform feature is "Challenges," which allows brands to activate creator campaigns on-demand. This means that a brand can set up a campaign, and creators that want to participate can do so and be reimbursed for their level of engagement. So any TikTok challenge you’ve seen a major celebrity participate in just might have resulted from a Pearpop connection.

For smaller businesses and creators, Pearpop is an opportunity to filter a large number of potential collaborators to a more manageable handful with which you can build relationships. The app has the potential to democratize how creators sort out brand partnerships.

Whichever side of the equation you’re on, get started with Pearpop here.

Locket lets you share photos to your friends’ home screens

Locket turns Apple’s widget system into a social networking platform for users and their friends. The app lets users share live photos from friends to their home screen.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Locket

Users invite friends to download the app and join their network, then add Locket’s widgets to their home screen. From there, they can add photos to Locket, and the widget will automatically update throughout the day.

@locketcamera

🐈‍⬛ #locket #fyp #catsoftiktok #homescreen

♬ Beat Automotivo Tan Tan Tan Viral – WZ Beat

Its audience loves the app – it has a 4.6 rating on the Apple store. One user said that they downloaded it to use with their family after seeing an ad for the app.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About

The app’s social media content seems to resonate with its users – they’ve amassed over 70,000 followers on TikTok – with reviews from users saying they downloaded the app after seeing a post about it.

The app also presents an interesting opportunity for brands to reach consumers by turning the widget feature into advertising space.

Download: iOS | Android

Superlocal lets you earn by sharing your location

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Disclaimer: This article does not seek to offer financial advice. Engage with these platforms at your own risk.

Diving into more experimental territory, Superlocal is a product of the surge in interest in Web3. The app is a social network that lets you earn cryptocurrency and NFTs when you visit different locations. You can check-in, submit your post, and earn real rewards through the platform.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Credit: Superlocal

According to a whitepaper published by the team behind the app, Superlocal is “designed to make every day life feel like a fun game. It is meant to give people a sense of community and belonging to the nearby (local) area, instead of feeding people content from around the world. User feeds naturally localize because of the checking in mechanism, since most people spend the majority of their time near where they live. The goal of Superlocal is to help people love where they live and incentivize them to enjoy and explore the nearby.”

Through the app, users can check in when they visit somewhere new, create a post about the place they’re visiting and earn cryptocurrency for their engagement. Read more about the app’s creation and launch here.

Download: iOS

Poparazzi is the anti-Instagram

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Updated: 12th September 2022

Poparazzi is a photo-sharing app that was launched in May 2021 and only lets you upload pictures of other people, essentially banning selfies. This is why it's popularly tagged as the anti-Instagram, and it clearly resonates with its Gen Z audience, seeing over 5 million downloads within a year of its launch.

9 New Social Media Platforms You Might Not Know About
Image credit: Poparazzi

The app takes tagging your friends to a whole new level – users can only get a profile when someone else uploads their picture. A user's Poparazzi profile is divided between the photos they take of their friends and those taken of them. The profile also shows which users most frequently catch them on camera.

The experience is designed to be candid, similar to BeReal, and the app doesn't allow for cropping, adding captions, filters, or edits. Each profile also gets a "pop" score, which tracks how many photos you take.

Download: iOS

Social media – and the apps that facilitate it – is evolving

Social media is in an interesting place right now, between calls for better handling of customer data and dissatisfaction with big tech’s changes to their apps. Different apps are coming out to tackle one challenge or another – it’ll be interesting to see how or if they can alter how social media currently functions.

What exciting new social media platforms have you come across? Have you used any apps on our list or plan to use them? Let us know your experiences with them over on Twitter @buffer!

https://buffer.com/resources/new-social-media-platforms/

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Social Proof is a series chronicling how ambitious individuals intentionally craft and grow their personal brands to inspire anyone hoping to do the same. Social Proof has a double meaning — ‘to replicate the actions of others to get similar results’ and ‘to showcase the power of social media in growing a personal brand’. We hope to bring to light insights that can help you bring both meanings to life for your personal brand.

For the second edition of Social Proof, we interview one of the prime examples of crafting a personal brand — Steph Smith.

Steph Smith is a multi-hyphenate with a career spanning ten years. She recently started a role at Andreessen Horowitz (a16z), a venture capital firm, as their podcast host. She’s also led Trends at The Hustle, a premium newsletter publication acquired by Hubspot, and was also Director of Marketing for Hubspot Creators.

Steph has many side projects like her book Doing Content Right and podcast Sh*t You Didn’t Learn In School. So when thinking about who would be great to kick off Social Proof, Steph naturally came up as she’s been actively creating content for her personal brand since 2018.

Throughout our conversation, Steph shares interesting stories about how she built a Twitter following of over 118 thousand followers from scratch, starting by sharing her progress in learning how to code.

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To follow or see more of Steph’s work, check out her Twitter, LinkedIn, and website.

So, how might people with multiple interests and abilities find what works for them and channel that into intentional personal brand growth online? I'm not sure, but we find out how Steph is doing just that in this interview.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Welcome Steph, and thanks for agreeing to this interview! So we wanted to start by having you define how you think about personal branding.

Tim Ferriss once said that everyone has a personal brand, regardless of whether you have 10 followers or 10 million followers – and I agree. It’s the perception that people have developed of you. For example, you could be associated with a certain level of intelligence, an industry, or personal attributes like being funny or reserved.

And I find building a personal brand fascinating because just as you grow as a person, your brand also evolves. But sometimes, how people see you and how you want to be seen can become disjointed – or sometimes, they are aligned very well. It's always fascinating to hear how people view your personal brand versus how you perceive yourself.

Q: That’s an interesting way to think about it — everyone seeing you one way and you not being able to control that image fully. This leads to my next question: Have you intentionally built your personal brand?

So I like that question. Because I think I have been intentional in some ways. But I also think your personal brand is sometimes out of your own reach. What I mean by that is that I've built many things over the last couple of years, and you could say that those inputs have a level of intentionality. But I can't always control the things that people latch on to.

An example of something people have latched on to that I didn't expect – nor did I intentionally try to seed – is my being a “content person”. And people might say, well, of course, people view you that way, you have a blog, you wrote a book – but I never saw myself that way. There are things that you will do and things that you will try to work on so intensely and even at times, you’re effectively screaming, “Hey, view me this way!” And people just won't. Counter to that, there will be things you do and ways you don't see yourself that other people will start to ascribe to you.

Q: What keywords would you use to describe your personal brand?

If I were to label myself, I’d use the terms ‘curious’, ‘thoughtful/intentional,’ and ‘transparent.’

Curiosity: Everything that I do is truly driven by my curiosities. And I think I do that more than the average creator who will typically test several things, figure out what works, and then double down on what the market wants. This works well and is probably a more lucrative path, but I prefer to pursue that which interests me, and luckily that’s had some market need along the way. But I also have done so by disjointing my creative pursuits and my full-time job.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Thoughtful/intentional: One thing I always hope comes through in my work is that it's thoughtful. And what I mean by thoughtful is that when I create something, it's because I really want to create it, but I also do it as best I can and don’t sacrifice elements of it to get more of a following or more sales. An example is my book, Doing Content Right – I’ve never run ads for it and never promoted it in ways that I think are sleazy.

Transparent: When I learn something …, I will most likely share it, whether it's through tweeting or writing articles or podcasting … like when I was learning to code and learned a new way to integrate with the Google API. I knew that was something that maybe some fraction of the world wanted to know. And so I would take the time to write that up and have done something similar hundreds of times now, including how I built my open page. I think I'm more transparent relative to at least the average creator, because I see the space as positive-sum.

Q: Something interesting you mentioned is experimentation as a way to evolve a personal brand — can you elaborate on that?

If you look at the creators that have sustained their audiences over time, they've had to reinvent many times over. Putting enough versions of yourself out there, as strange as it sounds, means there are more chances people will latch onto something.

It's almost like a startup. A startup must continue iterating, experimenting, and putting different versions of its product out there. And what they can't control is ultimately what the market wants. But they can create enough versions or run enough tests to give themselves enough opportunities to find product-market fit.

Q: Continuing with this theme of experimentation, what are moments in your professional journey when you've had to evolve or iterate on what you thought your personal brand was going to be?

Yeah, I can call out several points along [my journey]. When I started in the workforce, I had to pivot because I did my degree in chemical engineering. But then, the available jobs weren't the ones I wanted to do; most were in oil and gas. So that was the first evolution – even though I viewed myself as an engineer and put all this work into this degree, I had to do something new.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

I went into consulting and had a clear path of action there, but then I wanted to be remote. So I had to reinvent myself again, which luckily led me into tech and created an interesting inflection point, where I was asked to lead a publications team. And it's not so much that I don't like being branded as a content person, but I had this reaction of “I don't lead publications teams… that's not what I do.” But I ended up doing it, and it was a great decision.

I had to allow myself to become someone I had never considered being. – Steph Smith, a16z Podcast Host

That was another example where I had to allow myself to become someone that I never considered being. That period is when I started coding and creating content online. I was creating indie products through code, which I thought would be my “thing” – an identity as a woman in tech, and I even started writing about that. But then I started writing about writing; writing about content.

There have been many evolutions where I've had to, you could say from an outside perspective, rebrand myself. But internally, as corny as it sounds, it was just about following what I was interested in at the time and what opportunities fell on my plate.

Now, I've tried to dissociate more from my identity and how I view myself, and instead focus on what interests me at the time because now, becoming a full-time podcaster, I could have never predicted that. That was yet another phase change, where I had to shed what I was before to start something new … I think now it's come more easily because I just view myself as a multi-hyphenate.

Q: So, as a multi-hyphenate, you’ve done a lot of work in podcast hosting, coding, and writing. A common thread is how much passion and effort shine through in each project. Do you see your projects as a vehicle for growing your personal brand? And how do you connect these efforts to each other to craft the image people have of you?

Yes, everything I do will relate to my personal brand, some more than others. I can’t help that. There are things that reach many people and will be most impactful. But every little bit contributes, so I try to do my best no matter the situation, whether I’m starring on someone’s podcast or releasing a book or something much “smaller”.

Everything I do, whether I like it or not, relates to my personal brand and is a vehicle for it. But ultimately, what drives that vehicle, good or bad, is how I perform in every one of those circumstances. And hopefully, it's more positive than negative.

Again, you can't always control what people think about your work, but you can sway the way people see your personal brand through the projects you pursue and how you pursue them. This is why I think many creators find themselves on the slippery slope I mentioned earlier. If the quality of your work doesn’t match your audience’s expectations and seems like a money grab, you’ve harmed your personal brand and that trust is hard to win back.

Q: I’d like to dive into something that’s an essential part of this series — the place of social media in developing a personal brand. You’re super active on Twitter — would you say that’s the main platform you’ve used to grow your online presence?

Twitter has been the main platform for growing my online presence, and the “why” behind that is pretty simple – that's where I enjoy spending the most time, and creating content there is easier for me than creating content on other platforms.

I do want to explore more platforms because I am quite concentrated on Twitter. But I also have to consider a simple content marketing question, “Where's my audience?” If I'm talking about technology, there's a lot of content around that on TikTok, so that’s an example of a platform that I'm debating venturing into.

Q: Has growing an online presence using social media, specifically Twitter, helped your career?

When I learned to code in 2018, I was not active on Twitter, so I ended up wiping my account and starting with zero followers. No one knew who I was nor why I might be interesting.

And from where I am today, I can confidently say that several of my recent roles have come through (or at least been heavily supported by) my presence on social media or my personal projects, not my official resume. One example of this is how I joined The Hustle. Sam, the founder, saw an article that I had written, which went viral on Hacker News and was shared by a well-known VC. By that point, I think I maybe had about three thousand followers. That's how he discovered my work, which led me to The Hustle, which was later acquired by HubSpot.

Q: Since you have experience cleaning the slate and starting anew on a social media platform, what would you recommend that people with zero to minimal presence on social media do when thinking about how to use theirs to grow a personal brand?

If I was just starting out, I would figure out what I'm most interested in right now and double down on that. I would share everything I'm learning in that capacity and become known as someone uniquely interested in that space. And then, once you build a little bit of a following, you have the freedom to diversify and focus on other things, as I've done.

This may be counterintuitive to everything I’ve said about experimentation and evolution as a way to grow your personal brand, but it’s essential at the beginning of your journey to plant one seed and nurture it.

Q: Before we wrap up, do you have any final thoughts to share?

Millions of people create content, so it’s essential that you find a niche and give people a reason to follow you among the sea of others. One key way to approach this is through the topics you talk about.

Social Proof: Steph Smith on Intentionally Building a Personal Brand

Another way many people miss, which can be just as effective, is how you talk about a topic. For example, there are tons of people who write about technology every day. But there are certain influencers, many who are newer, that do it better. They might be funnier, more contrarian, more visual, etc. So it's not just about time in the game but also how you're doing it.

Takeaways

Here are some ways to implement Steph’s personal brand-building tactics for your journey:

  • Be intentional about building your personal brand: No matter what you choose to do to grow your brand and online presence, always bring your best self. Prepare for speaking engagements, create quality content, and treat every project as an extension of you. Transparency is a great way to stay intentional about your goals, and Steph has a lot of experience with both as she grew her Twitter by sharing her coding journey and indie projects. Check out this article for ideas of how to practice transparency as a way to stay intentional.
  • Don’t be afraid to experiment: A big theme of Steph’s journey has been experimentation. Try different content formats, tackle new topics, and create for different platforms to find what works best for you. When it comes to trying new things, the small businesses in this article have their strategy down pat.
  • Double down on one area: When you’re just starting out creating content for your personal brand, it’s important to become known for something. This helps you build expertise and credibility, and gives your potential audience something to latch on to. To figure out the balancing act of experimenting without tackling too many things at once – and at the risk of sounding repetitive – time in the game is less important than how you’re doing your work. If you take a new approach to your chosen field or topic, you can win people over or at least make them curious. For some inspiration, check out this article on interesting TikTok creators.
  • Be open to new experiences: Steph mentioned being wary about taking on a role as head of publications because she’d never done it before but chose to forge ahead anyway. If you want to accelerate the growth of your personal brand, it’s important to be open to new challenges when they come. Putting yourself and your work out there can feel scary, but it can be very rewarding. Check out this article for ways you can open up new experiences for yourself using your online presence.

🔌Once you’re ready to start sharing content to your social channels, check out Buffer for easy automated scheduling and publishing!

https://buffer.com/resources/social-proof-steph-smith/

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Any company can sell its customers a product or service, but a great brand offers its followers something even better – a sense of community and belonging. After all, a major goal for all businesses is customer retention, that is, having loyal customers who repurchase from your brand time and time again.

There are many ways to cultivate this kind of relationship with your customers, one being creating an emotional bond with them. According to the Harvard Business Review, customers are three times more likely to buy from your brand if they form an emotional connection to it.

This is where Facebook Groups come into the picture. Creating a Facebook Group for your brand provides an opportunity to better connect with your followers in an intimate setting. It’s likely that not everyone who follows you or your small business on social media will join your Facebook Group, but the ones who do are typically the most invested in your products and services. Over 1.8 billion people use Facebook Groups each month, proving that millions turn to these more intimate online spaces in hopes of bonding with others.

We’ll cover the benefits of a Facebook Group for your company and share examples of businesses that have benefited from investing in this kind of community.

How these brands have benefited from Facebook Groups

“Community,” is the new follower count, at least according to The Washington Post. Content creators are shifting away from focusing on the amount of likes they receive, to creating niche spaces on the internet for their followers. And it’s not just influencers, either. Many brands are also harnessing the power of online communities to better connect with their customers. The more engaged and active your customer base is, the more brand loyalty you can expect in the long run.

Saie – a clean makeup brand – has seen huge growth in the last two and a half years and recently started selling their products in Sephora. Similarly, What’s Gaby Cooking – a small business that initially started from a blog – has turned into a food empire with founder Gabby Dalkin releasing her third cookbook soon.

Both Saie and What’s Gaby Cooking have a large following on Instagram and other social media platforms, but have still found great success on Facebook Groups. This is mostly due to the more intimate nature of the space.

Here are some of the ways a Facebook Group can help you forge a better relationship with your members.

Form deeper bonds with your core customers

Posting on your general and public social media channels can sometimes feel like you’re talking to a void for several reasons. Your follower count may be so large, it’s hard to personalize your interactions with people. Or, depending on the algorithm and the fact that individuals are constantly inundated in content, your fans might not even be seeing all of your posts in their feed.  

With a private Facebook Group, however, you can get personal with each one of your members. For example, Saie has over 146,000 followers on their Instagram accounts, and What’s Gaby Cookin has an impressive 865,000 followers on hers. But each small brand has a significantly smaller following on their Facebook Groups, with roughly 3,000 and 13,000 members respectively. This tighter community is a great way to form stronger connections with your followers.

You're usually posting content on your main social media channels – product shots, Reels or TikToks, and polished graphics. But on your Facebook Group, you don’t have to worry about providing users with a ton of media assets as they likely follow your main channels and already see those. Instead, your focus can shift to fostering community and building relationships with your followers.

Here, CEO Laney Crowell made a personal post in Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group asking followers for their skincare routine. It’s not often that someone that high in leadership can connect with followers in a more intimate, closed setting. Although Laney does regularly appear on Saie’s Instagram, if she were to ask this question on the brand’s Instagram Stories, the response would most likely be too overwhelming for Laney or anyone else at Saie to respond to users individually. On their Facebook Group, on the other hand, the responses are much more manageable. The post below received 15 likes and 61 comments – fewer than what the brand typically receives on their Instagram posts.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
CEO Laney Crowell uses Saie's FB Group to connect with customers

And in this case, less is more. Saie’s Head of Community, Lauren Lauigan, responded to many of the comments and even asked some members follow up questions about their morning routine.

In another post, Lauren asked the community for their clean deodorant recommendations. By interacting with the group’s members and getting their recommendations, opinions, and feedback, Saie’s leadership team is doing a great job of making their community feel valued. Rather than just throw out content about Saie’s products, the purpose of the beauty group is for members to learn from each other and share their experiences.  

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Saie's Head of Community Lauren regularly interacts with members in their Facebook Group

Similarly, Gaby also uses the What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook group to connect with her followers on a more personal level. In February, she made a post asking members to help contribute to her upcoming book.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

The post had a ton of engagement with lots of followers sharing their favorite sayings from Gaby. By specifically asking members from her Facebook group, and not posting this message anywhere else, Gaby most likely made her members feel more connected to her and her brand. Users shared their favorite sayings of her in the comments, including “this little situation,” “this is epic,” and “I’m obsessed.” Gaby even replied to certain comments – something she may not have been able to do on a larger platform.

A private Facebook group allows you to carve out a smaller and more manageable space on the internet that will lead to more face time with each of your members. This can allow for more of a two-way conversation between you and your followers, so you can also get their input too.

Create a space for your followers to share their interests & passions

Another huge plus of creating a Facebook Group for your business is that it can help grow and nurture relationships between your followers. Rather than your customers solely having a connection with the products you sell, they’ll also begin to associate your brand with the friendships and sense of community they find within your Facebook Group. This is exactly what happened when Influencer Ambar Driscoll created an organization called Bamby Collective to help connect young women across the globe.

Ambar found that members quickly became vulnerable with one another through the Facebook Groups. And, while most of the members did originally join because they were fans of Ambar, one individual told us the reason she continues to interact with the group is because of the friendships she has formed.

A good Facebook Group is going to connect back to your brand identity while giving space for you customers to discuss topics outside of your small business. In this way, your Facebook Group is actually providing a real sense of community to members, where they can ask questions and share things with each other.

A member from What’s Gaby Cooking Friends! Facebook Group shared a post about the popular Hulu series, “The Bear.” While a television show may not seem related to Gaby and her brand, this show in particular is about a renowned chef, bringing it back to the community and Gaby’s core theme: connecting with one another through food.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A post shared by a member in Gaby Dalkin's Facebook Group

The post was quite popular and users were having discussions about the series within the comments, actively engaging with each other. This is a great example of users in the community bonding over a shared interest.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Members can connect with each other and ask for recommendations in Facebook Groups

In Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Facebook Group, members constantly ask each other for makeup recommendations from brands outside of Saie. In the below post, a user started a discussion about the best eye primer, a product that Saie doesn’t even make. The fact that the Facebook Group doesn’t solely revolve around Saie makes it a more genuine space for makeup lovers.

No one wants to feel like their only value is monetary – even your customers. By creating spaces for your followers to relate with one another, you’re letting them know your small business values them, not only for their money, but also for their opinion. Through these more intimate spaces, your community will also form stronger relationships amongst each other which, in turn, will lead them to value your brand even more.

Your Facebook Group can become a channel for user generated content

Every member of your small business's Facebook group has something in common: they like your brand. So unsurprisingly, one benefit of this online community is that your followers will naturally be discussing your products including any promotions or special events.

Here, a member of Clean Beauty Crew shared her excitement about Saie’s Friends & Family Sale. In the comments of the post, users discussed what they were planning to buy during the sale.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A Clean Beauty Crew member shared their excitement about an upcoming sale on the group

Another user asked the group for feedback on Saie’s popular sunscreen Sunvisor. Followers who ask for product recommendations via the Facebook group can feel like they’re getting more reliable answers compared to looking at the reviews on a website that sometimes include people who’ve been gifted the product. The fact that all members in the Facebook Group can see each others’ names and pictures helps make the environment feel more trustworthy.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
A great perk of a Facebook Group is the space is more intimate, allowing users to connect and ask each other questions

In What’s Gaby Cooking Friends, members are constantly sharing their favorite recipes from Gaby’s blog, but even more, they share news about her cookbooks as well. A Canadian user shared a link to one of Gaby’s upcoming books at a reduced price.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples
Members can share deals and any upcoming news with one another on Facebook Groups

This user generated content can be more appealing than regular marketing content as it feels more authentic when good product reviews are shared by fans and customers who genuinely enjoy the product (without any incentives like with sponsored reviews).

With that being said, you can use your Facebook group as another vehicle for promoting your brand by posting marketing content — but do it sparingly. The goal of your Facebook Group should be to enhance your members’ experience, not try to get your followers to buy more products.

Community management and content moderation

Now that you know the various benefits a Facebook Group can offer your small business and your customers, you might be wondering what the best practices are to run a successful one. In order to make the space as valuable as possible, here are some things to consider when launching your Facebook Group.

Set ground rules

A major goal for any online community – including your business’s Facebook Group – is to ensure all members feel safe and comfortable. You can set the tone for this by establishing some ground rules early on. These rules will be one of the first things your members see when they request to join the Facebook Group. Some basic rules to consider: no hate speech, bullying or personal promotion of brands or businesses.

For reference, here are Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew Group rules.

Facebook Groups for Small Businesses in 2022: The Benefits + Real Examples

Lead by example

Initially, you may find that your members aren’t engaging as much with the group as you’d like – and that’s OK. As the admin and group owner, you can model these types of interaction to fellow members. Create discussion posts, engage with users, ask for feedback regularly, and initiate conversation amongst your members.

Be kind and courteous to everyone, and take the time to get to know your community by responding to their comments and posts. Eventually, you should see an increase in user contributions.

Create a private Facebook Group for your business

We recommend keeping your facebook group private to ensure the space is filled with actual community members and not spammers. Both Saie’s Clean Beauty Crew and What Gaby’s Cooking Friends! Groups are private and require an administrator to approve each new member. This way you can keep an eye on who joins the group and ensure that everyone is there for the right reasons.

We hope this article inspires you to create a Facebook Group for your small business! Remember, the goal of this space is to give your customers the spotlight and make sure their voices are heard.

Did you know you can connect your Facebook Group to your Buffer account? Get started for free today to draft, schedule, and publish content to your Facebook Group!

https://buffer.com/resources/facebook-groups-small-businesses/

The Worst Moment of My Life Made Me a Better Entrepreneur — Here Are the Lessons I Learned

The Worst Moment of My Life Made Me a Better Entrepreneur — Here Are the Lessons I Learned

The moment I learned about my young daughter’s medical diagnosis is permanently etched in my memory like a bad tattoo. I had just switched off the TV in the living room when a notification popped up on my phone with her MRI results.

My worst nightmare ensued.

We traded our live-on-a-beach summer plans with visits to children’s hospitals along the East Coast. We armored ourselves mentally for one of the most serious surgeries a person — much less a child — can endure, and we hoped for the best.

But when she rolled into the ICU with a bandage that wrapped around her whole head and face, we learned there had been a complication. Instead of the five-day hospital stay we expected, she went through a multi-month hospitalization that split our family between two states.

And, throughout all this time, I was running a company: children’s health search engine startup, Sleuth. I had co-founded it in 2020, inspired by how hard it was to figure out and get help for her confusing (yet stable) symptoms, and the mission became even more important to me when we were handed such a serious diagnosis.

Running a business while caring for my daughter was challenging but, strangely, that summer of hardship in 2021 made me a better entrepreneur and leader. Here’s how I changed.

I learned to write my own business rules

I lay curled next to my daughter in a three-foot wide hospital bed for 68 nights. She’d drift off to sleep, and I’d spend the next few hours with one arm placed under her head while I listened to inspirational podcasts to steel myself for the next day.

In those moments of silence, I knew I’d never come out the same person. And so how could I play the same business game I was playing before? I had been working so hard to be palpable to investors and other stakeholders in the startup ecosystem, adhering to a playbook that I thought all VC-backed entrepreneurs had to follow.

But I wasn’t like others: I was a South Asian mom of a child with special needs who created a company based not on a desire to build the next unicorn, but on my challenges getting the information I needed. Subconsciously, I always knew how atypical I was, but enduring my life’s worst case scenario liberated me to actually go live my own playbook.

From there on out, my voice — on social media, with investors, with partners — became unapologetic and my own. For example, I thought early-stage founders had to look or sound a certain way to be taken seriously, like they have everything sorted out but now I just appear on IG Lives exactly the way I am: a working mom, who may not have slept enough the night before, but who is hell-bent on using technology to make children’s health easier.

I stopped outsourcing my confidence

It’s impossible to impart the details of what it’s like to parent a child with medical needs. But when close friends remind me to stop and appreciate how remarkable it is to co-run a startup and parent a special needs child at the same time, I realize that my strength runs deep. Each of us has unique circumstances that seem unbearable to someone else but that might be a source of strength for ourselves.

Now, I turn to myself for answers and confidence instead of looking to others for affirmation. My tone has gone from trying to convince people about Sleuth to having inner knowingness that we are building something that is a no-brainer. I once pitched Sleuth to a room on Clubhouse and received scathing criticism of the idea from a judge. Another time, a seasoned business operator told me I didn’t have enough “technical skills.” In the past, those comments may have crushed me. But now that I have confidence in my own strength, I always know that this is not only the right path for me, but it’s a path that will be successful.

I learned to better face hard realities

You can’t kinda have a medical diagnosis—it either is or it isn’t. And I couldn’t wish away my daughter’s condition. Facing hard realities in her diagnosis made me face hard realities in business.

Sometimes it’s hard to pivot when a tactic or strategy isn’t working, but now, I’m more clear-eyed than ever about what works and what doesn’t. For example, I spent two months cultivating relationships with a set of health-focused associations, and just before signing two deals, I pulled out because the timing wasn’t right. It was a huge win to build credibility with these esteemed organizations, and it felt silly to pull out, but we simply did not have the bandwidth for a deep commitment. It’s much easier to change course quickly for the health of the business without feeling like I have to double down on a previous position because I can’t admit I was wrong.

I realized that sometimes there’s only one priority

At first, I tried to work while my daughter was hospitalized. After I berated myself for a failed online event, a physician friend called me to launch an intervention. “You’re literally in the middle of trauma,” she told me. “Expecting so much is unreasonable. Your only to-dos are to eat, sleep, and be with your baby—you’re doing amazing, and the fact that you’re still standing is a huge accomplishment itself.”

I learned that urgent situations like this require me to put down all the balls and focus on just one, and from that point on, I did. If I hadn’t solely focused on managing my daughter’s care while she was hospitalized, she wouldn’t be healing well today, and I likely wouldn’t have been able to return to work at all.

As an entrepreneur, it’s normal to juggle multiple priorities, but this situation reminded me that there are moments in business that require my undivided attention, too (and not just in crisis situations). In May, I was invited to the White House for a reception with President Biden, and I wanted to make the most of the unique opportunity. I arrived first at the security gate, which enabled me to be well-placed when the President made a speech and walked off the stage. Amid a sea of other people, I managed to introduce Sleuth to him, take a video with my left hand while my right hand got to shake his, and get our picture tweeted by the White House. It was a profound opportunity—and one that came from being absolutely present and focused in the moment.

I learned that data is an antidote to spiraling

One of the top pediatric neurosurgeons left the timing of my daughter’s surgery up to us, her family. It was daunting, and a decision unlike anything I had faced. Our choice could change the course of her life forever.

But we were deliberate. We called every physician we knew and asked them to connect us with other neurosurgeons. We spoke to each of them and took meticulous notes. We charted out decisions trees and worst case scenarios and assessed them against the severity of her current discomfort and symptoms. Ultimately, collecting the relevant data points enabled us to make a decision that we still stand by today.

The fidelity of having a data-driven decision process—and pushing for transparency from stakeholders—stays with me. When I feel anxiety about her future or am facing a major decision about Sleuth, I pause and collect the facts. It always paints a picture that is different from when the only tool I paint with is my emotion.

As a business owner, there are many tempting shiny objects to pursue, such as partnerships, potential investments, or PR visibility. An opportunity to speak in LA popped up during the dead of winter in NYC, and within minutes, my mind already drifted to boarding the airplane, landing in 80 degree weather, and giving the speech of a lifetime. But when I calculated the data—the travel costs, the time away from working, the dubious ROI—it was clear that I had to pass.

I saw that breaking isn’t a sign of failure; it’s a sign to ask for help

Seeing my daughter suffer broke me, but I didn’t want her to sense my fear. I had a side gig as an actress most days: a cheerleader to keep her motivated through therapies, a lawyer to advocate for appropriate medical care, and a power networker to befriend all the nurses.

But it caught up with me, and one morning, I fell apart in desperate tears in front of a child life specialist, Kristi. She looked me in the eye and said, “I got you.” She promptly sent me away with instructions not to return to the hospital before the evening. She galvanized the rest of the care team to ensure my little one was occupied and happy, and I came back with the mental relief I so desperately needed.

There are similar resources for the entrepreneur who is carrying too much on their shoulders—sometimes, the hard part is having the courage to use them. This is perhaps the lesson that has been hardest for me to learn and practice, as the dominant narrative of building a startup is to hustle at all costs.

But I’m thankful that I’ve learned to lean on my co-founder and supporters. Surprisingly, being open about when I’m struggling has led to more and better opportunities than before. I post on social media about my challenges as a medical mother and founder, and from it, I’ve been invited to three podcasts, landed an interview on regional TV, and cultivated deeper relationships with early adopters and investors.

Putting on my oxygen mask isn’t the act of desperation I once thought; it’s an act of grace that ensures I’m giving both me and my business the best circumstances in which to grow and thrive.

July 2022 marks one year since my daughter’s diagnosis. It continues to shock me how much I’ve changed as a person and an entrepreneur. And while I wish she didn’t have to go through so much, I’m mindful that the experience yielded a powerful transformation that boldly empowers me to bring Sleuth’s vision to life.

https://buffer.com/resources/better-entrepreneur-lessons-learned/

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert

A Google Business Profile is a hidden gem that many small business owners can use to their advantage. Just as search engine optimization can fuel your growth in the Google rankings, Google Business Profiles are another way to direct eyes from organic searches to your business.

We’ve highlighted the impact of Google Business Profiles for your business in Google’s search rankings. Now, we want to help you make the most of each post you put up on your Google Business Profile. So we interviewed Joy Hawkins, a GBP expert, on how to make your posts perform better. Joy shared a ton of tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your posts which we’ve included in this article.

Oh, and don't forget, you can now draft, schedule and share all of your Google Business Posts with Buffer. 🎉

Choose the right type of post to share

You can create four types of posts on your Google Business Profile :

  • What’s New
  • Offer
  • Event
  • Covid-19 Updates.

But Joy highlights two of them as being the most effective: Offer and Covid-19 posts.

With Offer posts, Joy theorizes that they perform so well because they have a different display than other post types.

“When you're looking on the Google Maps app, they [Offer posts] display way better than any of the other posts, and come with tags so they're a lot more visible. And I feel like most businesses are utilising the other types of posts in there but forgetting about offer posts.”

Joy recommends using Offer posts – even if you don’t have an offer for your customers – but with a unique and creative touch so it catches the customers’ eye.

Covid-19 posts may not be around for much longer and are limited in functionality (for example, they can only be displayed as text). But Joy says they are great for sending out updates that need to be communicated immediately. This is thanks to a feature called the knowledge panel, which is the box that shows up on the right side of the screen with all the information about a business. In the knowledge panel, a Covid-19 post has the highest placement. Joy says this feature makes it useful for all types of content.

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert
Harvard Bookstore's use of the GBP posts in the Knowledge Panel

“So if you've got a message you need to get out urgently like office closure or a short-term discount, you can use a Covid-19 post – even though they're supposed to be about Covid-19.”

Use every available element to draw the reader’s eye

In any given post on your Google Business Profile (GBP), you have the option to include at least a title and accompanying text. So even though it’s optional, Joy recommends always including a title.

“Always make sure you add a title. It's an optional field, but we found that posts with titles got more clicks and more conversions.”

In addition, elements like emojis and images help with post performance and conversions. Emojis are particularly interesting – this study found that emojis increase customer engagement, when used for emphasis and in positive contexts. And they seem to work great for GBP posts as well – Joy’s research found that posts with emojis got twice as many clicks.

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert
Source: Google Business Profile posts with emojis

“We found that a conservative amount of emojis help with post performance and conversions,” says Joy. “We weren't like listing six or seven emojis in a row. But having one or two that are relevant, helps catch people's eye.”

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Tip: The Buffer composer comes with its own built-in emoji keyboard, so you can drop in some eye-catching emojis with ease.
How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert

Another great way to draw attention is to show proof of work through before and after images if you have a business that lends itself to such. Joy mentions a lawn care client that showed the before and after images of a lawn they worked on that performed really well compared to their other posts.

“[That type of image] is really visually appealing. So if you can make use of an image that way that really helps performance as well.”

Include the keywords you’re already targeting

It’s important to note that your GBP posts don't help you rank for keywords. But if you're already ranking, sometimes it can help you show up in the search results for related keywords. So try including the keywords you're targeting on Google in your posts. Don’t be spammy about it (that can get you banned).

On thinking through your use of keywords, Joy advises, “Let's say, for example, you're State Farm doing a post about how much you'll save on auto insurance. Everyone already knows them for auto insurance, and they already rank for that keyword. So they would want to say something like, ‘Save up to 40% on auto insurance’ in a GBP post. And by including the keyword ‘auto insurance’ in there, it helps the post show up more in the search results for related keywords.”

How to Craft a Click-Worthy Google Business Profile Post, According to Joy Hawkins, a GBP Expert
Screenshot of the Local Pack

Joy also points out that Google will sometimes pull in a little piece of the post right in the search results in the Local Pack — the list of three that shows up with a map. These are little snippets that they sometimes will pull in with Google posts. And you can increase the odds of that happening by just ensuring that you utilize keywords in your posts.

Avoid including anything that Google has banned

One of the most important things to note about your GBP post is that they go through a review process. So, unlike other online publishing platforms where you can post and then be rejected, posts on your GBP must be approved before they appear on your Profile.

Joy recommends reviewing Google’s Business Profiles post policy for what (and what not) to include in your posts. Here are some things that Google might flag your post for:

  • Content that's irrelevant to the business or that has no clear association with the business – this also applies to links and visual content like images and videos
  • Spammy-looking content: Anything that’s misspelled, poor-quality, or directing users to harmful or irrelevant sites and software
  • Inappropriate content
  • Content that contains private or confidential information
  • Including a phone number – Google recommends attaching a ‘Call Now’ button to your post that links to your verified phone number
  • Prohibited content according to the guidelines

Joy also mentions that, unlike other social media sites, including hashtags in your post – which don’t help your content regardless – can get your posts rejected and should be avoided.

Treat your posts more like ads than social media

While they are a great way to organically connect with your customers, Joy says your Google Business Profile should be treated more like a way to advertise than a social media platform.

“It's very different than what you'd want to post on Facebook, for example. With social media, people will say often that you should post about things that will engage people, like your dog. But that’s not the case for Google posts – you need to use them for promotions,” Joy says “The worst performing posts are informational, ‘how-to’ posts because the people that are seeing it already know about you or why they need you.”

A better strategy is to think of your posts like coupons or magazine ads. “We had a car repair client that offered a $10 coupon off oil changes and that post got a lot of activity.” So if you’re selling a product of any kind, it could be beneficial to talk about any promotions, coupons, or the savings your customers could get from approaching you instead of any competitors they’ve come across.

Use your posts to stand out in the search results

Posts to your Google Business Profile can’t be optimized for search — rather, they enhance and support your existing SEO efforts. Traditional SEO has way more to do with your website and backlinks – that’s what helps you rank.

In a final word of advice from Joy, “It [Google Business Profiles] is more about grabbing somebody, once you've already got them. It doesn't get you there, it doesn't get you in front of people. Once you already rank, differentiating yourself from the other people you're ranking with, that's where Google posts can make a difference.”

🔌 Connect your Google Business Profile to Buffer and start publishing your own great posts today!  

https://buffer.com/resources/google-business-profile-posts/

I Run a Six-Figure Business, But Now I Want to Take a Pay Cut

I Run a Six-Figure Business, But Now I Want to Take a Pay Cut

I stared wide-eyed at my computer screen, frozen with disbelief. $306,055.05. That was the total revenue number I saw at the top of my profit and loss statement at the end of 2021.

Without a doubt, it was the biggest financial year my freelance writing business had ever had—both in total revenue and in net profit (which was right around $175,000 before taxes and retirement savings).

After a quick moment to pat myself on the back, I found myself facing the question that plagues every business owner: So…what’s next?

I knew what my plan was for the next few months: A three-month maternity leave to welcome my second son (so that high-earning year definitely came in handy to self-fund my own leave).

But what about after that? Should I start offering new services? Should I continue building a team of subcontractors to help with the work? Should I spin this into my own full-fledged content agency?

Traditional wisdom and hustle-obsessed posts on LinkedIn would nudge me in the direction of chasing more. More clients. More credibility. More projects. More money.

And yet, I’m doing the exact opposite. After my highest-earning year ever, I’m intentionally scaling back.

Blame it on burnout, the pandemic, or becoming a mom (or all of the above), but I’m craving more time and less stress. That nagging need for better balance started about a year ago, when I accidentally skipped completing a family art project for my son’s daycare. It remained forgotten on our kitchen counter because I was too swamped with work to sit down with him. I decided then and there to cut Fridays out of my workweeks.

That change helped me feel like my schedule was more aligned with my priorities. But, after adding another kiddo into the mix, I still felt strapped for time—even with my three-day weekend. So, I’ve taken things a step further. I’m saying goodbye to the long hours and working weekends that built my business and only working Monday through Wednesday for the foreseeable future.

In some ways, it was an easy decision. It felt like the perfect way to get the best of both worlds. In other ways, it was a change I wrestled with, especially when so much of my identity is wrapped up in what I do for a living. Stepping back to part-time felt like admitting that I had failed miserably at “having it all.”

But, despite the challenges, the decision has taught me quite a few valuable lessons about growth, priorities, and that coveted work-life balance everybody is trying so hard to achieve.

Lesson #1: balance takes constant commitment

It often seems like work-life balance is a puzzle to be put together. A code to be cracked. As if it’s something that you figure out once, and after that, you can reap the rewards of a life that’s perfectly proportional.

That’s not the case for me. I’ve set a hard boundary of working only three days per week, but my responsibilities don’t magically fit inside of that container. Holding that line requires constant choice, commitment, and even sacrifice.

That’s the flip side of work-life balance that gets far less attention. Many people talk about what they’ve gained (and of course, there’s plenty of that), but it’s rare that they talk about what they’ve lost.

When I first scaled back my workweek, it meant parting ways with a retainer client I had worked with for over six years. That client made up about 20% of my income, but the nature of the work didn’t fit with my reduced working hours. I’d love to say that ending that arrangement felt like a symbolic rebirth of my business and a reset of my priorities, but the brutal truth is that it felt…well, terrifying.

I summoned my courage and did it anyway. That was the start of a series of tough (but necessary) decisions to make my ideal schedule a reality. Since then, I’ve turned down clients that were a great fit for me. Projects I was excited about. Paychecks that would’ve been meaningful. There are speaking opportunities I can’t accept, initiatives I can’t take part in, and ideas I can’t pursue—all because they simply don’t fit within the limitations I’ve set.

Is it worth it? Absolutely. I know that I’ve won more than I’ve lost. I have more time, more energy, and more patience (which was admittedly in short supply when I felt constantly burdened by an unreasonable workload). But the relentless trade-offs have shown me that work-life balance isn’t actually a finish line to be crossed—it’s the marathon itself.

Lesson #2: I’m OK with a ‘middle ground’ business

So much business advice feels so… well, extreme.

You hear from people who boast about their unshakeable commitment to their companies and careers. They’re working 80-hour weeks and sleeping on their office floor, all in the hopes that their bank statements will someday look like lottery winnings.

And then you hear from the people on the other side of the spectrum. They had some sort of awakening, left high-powered careers, and now are living from a converted Sprinter van as they bounce between national parks.

And here I am, somewhere in the middle. The business (and income) I’ve worked so hard to build is still important to me, but it’s not going to consume all of my time, energy, and attention. That doesn’t mean I have a desire to leave it all behind either.

I’d love to say that I’m perfectly content hanging out between those two extremes, but it’s actually quite counterintuitive and inspires a hefty amount of restlessness for me.

To combat those anxious and itchy feelings, I set a goal: I want to earn somewhere between $8,000 and $10,000 each month. Now, I use a spreadsheet to keep track of all of the projects I book for each month and, when I’ve reached my income goal, I stop accepting work. It’s a simple approach that helps me avoid overextending myself as a result of the, “Well…I might need the money…” trap.

I’ve found solidarity with many other business owners who are occupying my same middle ground. And I’ve come to embrace that, despite what clickbait would have us believe, it’s totally possible (and more than okay!) to run a moderately successful business—without it monopolizing my entire life.

Lesson #3: people aren’t paying much attention to my schedule

This thought was on repeat inside my head as I debated cutting back my workweek: But what if somebody—gasp!—emails me when I’m not there?

It feels so ridiculous to write out, but I can’t blame myself for feeling that way.

The constant connectedness of our world has often inspired a sense of allegiance to my inbox. Over the years, I’ve felt the need to be readily accessible and able to immediately jump on whatever red-alert-three-alarm-this-is-not-a-test emergency that might, potentially, maybe land on my desk (in eight years, I have yet to experience a real “blog post emergency,” by the way).

I tossed and turned over how I’d still be able to serve my clients if I was only signed on three days each week. Would they resent me? Would they opt for somebody else who could be reached at all hours?

Here’s what actually happened: I cut my workweek back to three days and nobody even noticed.

Yep. You read that right. I explicitly told a few clients about my new schedule when we needed to set up meetings. But, not a single soul has picked up on my adjusted workweek on their own. Or if they did? They certainly didn’t care enough to say something.

I fit my workload within my restrictions and respond to messages when I’m reasonably able to, and so far, we’re all alive to tell the tale.

When it comes to that sense of urgency most of us feel saddled with, it’s easy to point the finger at other people’s demands and expectations. But, it’s worth looking in the mirror. In my case, a lot of the pressure was self-imposed.

Lesson #4: I can’t always measure success by the numbers

As a business owner, “success” has always felt tough to wrap my arms around. After all, there are no defined career paths, promotions, performance reviews, and lofty company targets handed down from on high.

That means that numbers have often been the indicator I’ve used to review how the business is doing. Is revenue ahead of what it was last month? Last quarter? Last year? I’m on the right track. If not? I’d send pitches, pursue new work, and pack my schedule and workload to the brim.

I learned to love the quantifiable—and it’s that black-and-white perspective that would have me believe that 2021 was my most “successful” year in business.

And yes, it was my highest-earning year, but looking back, it wasn’t my most successful. In fact, I feel far more “successful” this year.

I’m being more selective than I’ve ever been about what clients and projects I take on. I’m thinking strategically about the next steps in my business and making sure they’re aligned with my priorities. I’m taking time for things I enjoy that don’t have a paycheck attached to them. My kids and I potted some flowers and are caring for them. We take weekly trips to the library or playground. I’m trying out new recipes and started reading again.

Will I earn as much as I did last year? Nope. Probably not even close.

But at the end of the day, it’s all the other stuff that feels way more like “success”—even if the number on my profit and loss statement is smaller.

https://buffer.com/resources/small-business-scaling-back/

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

What is Social Proof?

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

Social Proof is a series chronicling how ambitious individuals intentionally craft and grow their personal brands with the goal of inspiring anyone hoping to do the same. Social Proof has a double meaning — ‘to replicate the actions of others to get similar results’ and ‘to showcase the power of social media in growing a personal brand’. We hope to bring to light insights that can help you bring both meanings to life for your personal brand.

Welcome to the first installment of our new series Social Proof. We are kicking off with one of my favorite writers on the Internet – Fadeke Adegbuyi.

Fadeke is a prolific writer and repository of internet culture knowledge. Fadeke is currently a Lead Writer at Shopify and the mind behind Cybernaut, a personal favorite newsletter, as part of Every – a bundle of business-focused newsletters.

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To follow or see more of Fadeke’s work, check out her Twitter, LinkedIn, and newsletter.

Fadeke has built a reputation as a content mastermind, formerly co-leading content strategy at Doist – the masterminds behind everyone's favorite to-do list –  to her current role at Shopify, where she works on editorial strategy and writes about entrepreneurs and creators. Her ability to understand and distill internet culture into engaging articles has crafted a distinct personal brand for her in that niche.

Not everyone will build their personal brand in the same way as Fadeke. Some people might choose to make YouTube videos or start a podcast. But there are lessons to be learned from every person’s journey— which is why we’re doing this series.

Through this interview (and more to come), we hope to bring to light insights that can help you on your journey to creating and growing a personal brand.

Let’s get to the interview.

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This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Q: Thanks for joining me for Social Proof, Fadeke! What do you think about personal branding in general? Have you been quite intentional about yours? Would you even call it a personal brand?

“Personal brand” is a term that was thrown around a lot, especially in the early 2010s, but now feels a little outdated. And I think there's also a bit of hesitation about describing one's online presence and presentation as a personal brand. People cringe at the word, but in reality, everyone online has a personal brand. However you present yourself online, that's how your personal brand is perceived.

Q: So what word would you use to describe it instead?

I don't mind the term personal brand! I don’t use a specific term, but if I had to pick, I would say “online presence” or “social media presence.”

Q: Can you define your online presence slash personal brand? In three words or terms?

I would use the words: genuine, simple, and informal.

Genuine: I try to be as genuine as possible and not post things I don't feel aligned with.

Simple: I keep it pretty simple regarding the type of content I'm posting and the language I'm using.

Friendly/informal: I think there is an impulse to make your social media presence and your personal brand very polished, which can be a good thing depending on the person, but I tried just not to make it too stuffy and professional.

Q: What do you think about growing an online presence in general? Have you been quite intentional about yours since you started your career?

I work as a marketer and a content marketer and have professionally been in charge of growing brands and caring a great deal about metrics, numbers, and growth. So I don't apply those same parameters when I'm thinking about my own personal brand or my own personal social media platforms.

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

However, I think it is important to have an online presence and have a brand distinct from your employer. That's something that's always been important to me – having a presence online where I can share what I'm working on and what I'm interested in and, in turn, connect with people who are interested in the same things. And it also helps me have an inflow of hiring and collaboration opportunities.

A project I enjoyed working on was the Holloway Guide to Using Twitter, which details how to use Twitter and get the most out of it. I wouldn't say I follow all of the principles [in the guide], I’m definitely not as consistent as I could be, but I think they’re good principles and ones that I've observed others using to grow a personal brand.

Q: Would you say that social media has been a big part of how you’ve grown your career? And can you draw a direct line between what you did on social media and the opportunities that resulted from that?

Social media has been important for sharing my work and getting feedback. Putting your work out in the world can be impactful for career growth and can help bring opportunities your way.

I've written articles, posted them on social media, and had them resonate with others and perform well. And that has led to opportunities with other publications and editors reaching out to me and saying, “I liked this piece in your newsletter, I'd love for you to pitch us and write a piece.” I’ve also been offered opportunities for jobs, consulting, or freelancing. Those are all things that directly result from my posting on social media.


One of the things that I think is important about building a personal brand, in general, is if you do awesome work at a company, and nobody hears about it outside of your work, that can be limiting career-wise. We're at a point in the economy where we're seeing a downturn, an impending recession, and layoffs across companies. Social media can be a very impactful way to get your work out there.

Q: Which do you prefer — social media or newsletters?

I like both, and I think they both have different purposes. With my newsletter, I'm writing pieces that lean into long-form writing and are anywhere from 2000 to 5000 words. So there are a lot of nuances that can be explored and many dimensions that can be fleshed out.

But on social media, your character count is limited, so I think there is a bit of an incentive to make things more black and white, to write things that are snappier and less nuanced. So I think it's interesting to play with the two and have both platforms at your disposal.

Q: Are you ever actively thinking about growing your presence in numbers? Or are you more concerned with the quality of your engagement?

I generally don't track growth and engagement across my posts. So for social media, I'm more thinking about, “How do I describe my work in a way that it's compelling? How can I connect with interesting people?” It’s less about metrics and numbers.

Q: I think it's interesting how you can balance your collected knowledge with the need to serve Every’s typical business audience. How do you cultivate that knowledge, understanding internet culture so deeply? And then balance that with serving the audience that might primarily encounter your work on your newsletter Cybernaut?

When I'm thinking about writing a piece and exploring one of these online spaces, I'm not necessarily thinking about a business audience specifically.  When I'm thinking about Cybernaut, and writing about internet culture for Every, I'm also thinking about expanding our audience and pushing past our existing base of subscribers.

Across my newsletter subscribers, I have a mixed bag of people reading it across media, business, and venture capital – it would be quite challenging to appeal to all those different segments. I'm really just focused on writing the best piece possible and creating something compelling and interesting.


And I think that if you're focused on that, everyone can find a piece of that article that they might find compelling. They might be interested in the social media aspect or some of the human stories there. I aim to write the best piece possible and hope it finds an audience of people who are just as interested in internet culture as me.

Q: You’re a content creator with a big emphasis on productivity — how do you balance staying productive with building your personal brand?

That is a challenge I always run up against. I love being online, but at the same time, it can be a big distraction.

I've written extensively about the power of focus and flow and the importance of moving away from context switching toward deep work. So I have a bunch of tools in my arsenal that allow me to unplug from social media. I use a site blocker, Self Control, and an app, RescueTime – they help me regulate how much time I spend online.

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

If you are very online, and have a job where you're required to maintain some level of awareness of what's happening online, be intentional about having periods where you're unplugging and creating work versus trying to multitask and do both at the same time.

Q: You’ve been working remotely for a long time, and there’s a camp that believes career growth can be negatively impacted by remote work. Would you say remote work has helped or hurt your access to opportunities?

I wouldn't say remote work necessarily hurts or helps. But I think there is some truth to the idea that remote work can be a bit of a blocker in building professional connections and a strong work peer group if you are early in your career.

As much as I love remote work, I think there are limitations, and it's hard to beat in-person interaction. Something important for me all the years I've worked remotely is being intentional about building those connections while working remotely and living outside a big city center.

I think building a personal brand can be a big part of that. Creating content about what you do and sharing it online can be a form of inbound marketing. Building a personal brand that allows you to connect with the people you want to can be more important if you're working remotely.

Q: What advice would you give yourself if you were just building a personal brand from scratch?

“If you're not putting yourself out there in terms of going into an office and having a presence at an in-person job, you have to put yourself out there in another way.”

Social Proof: Fadeke Adegbuyi on Creating a Distinct Identity for Yourself Online

Putting yourself out there might mean building a social media presence, it might mean writing a newsletter or writing a blog, or it might mean building an online community. But to progress professionally, it’s helpful to surround yourself with ambitious people, including people who are a few steps ahead of you. Social media can be a really powerful way to do that.

Q: How have you cultivated that community for yourself?

I've joined a handful of online communities over the years. The Grand is a great one for career growth, Superpath is wonderful for content marketers, and On Deck for everything from writing to entrepreneurship. And of course Every, our writer collective which includes a Discord community for paid subscribers. I also love Twitter. Those are all places online where I've been able to meet fantastic people and that I wouldn't have otherwise been able to if I wasn't intentional about seeking out community online.

Q: What would you say is the future of personal branding/growing an online presence?

I think we are in a phase where people are allergic to “professionalism” and content that doesn't feel genuine. Anyone building a personal brand should lean into authenticity while finding the balance between that and oversharing, which can be a tough balance to strike. We’re also seeing this form on “influencer creep” where it’s almost a prerequisite at this point to maintain some level of an online presence and bring visibility to your work. We’ll see more people trying to navigate that.

Takeaways

If you’re looking to create a distinct voice for yourself online like Fadeke has, here are some important things to remember.

  • Separate your identity from your employer’s. Fadeke says, “It’s important to have a brand that's distinct from your employer. That's something that's always been important to me – having a presence online where I can share what I'm working on and what I'm interested in and, in turn, connect with people who are interested in the same things.”
  • Be vocal about your work. If you do awesome work at a company, and nobody hears about it outside of your work, that can be limiting career-wise. Want to know how to position yourself on different platforms? Check out this article.
  • Experiment with different platforms on your journey to building a cohesive personal brand. Whether adopting longer-form writing through a newsletter, Twitter Notes or creating video content, try out different things as you explore what format best shows off your work and personality.

📍Once you’re ready to grow your distinct online presence, check out Buffer for easy automated scheduling and publishing!

https://buffer.com/resources/social-proof-fadeke-adegbuyi/