For a while I have been encouraging content creators, especially bloggers, to view themselves as small business owners so they can become successful entrepreneurs. No matter how big or how small their following is, most of them have created media companies out of their writing, photography, and vulnerability. It doesn’t matter how big or how small those companies are. They have the potential to be highly profitable.
A few days ago I was fortunate enough to attend Social Media On The Sand, a conference for content creators that took place at the idyllic Beaches Turks and Caicos. It was beautiful and totally Instagram-worthy, but so much more. The keynotes all left me inspired, while the networking was fabulous. It was great seeing old blogging friends, cultivating new friendships and connecting with brands that I hope I can work with.
Some of the breakout sessions were a bit underwhelming if you’ve been creating content online for 20 years, like I have. Yes, authenticity is important, but there are so many other important factors that can help determine the success of your career as a content creator. It is not enough to tell creators to just be themselves.
I feel we need to be truthful in what we share with our communities and audiences. Beyond that: I agree that sharing our vulnerability is what allows us to connect with our community. Jamie Kern Lima touched on this and shared Brené Brown’s wisdom on the subject.
Social Media On The Sand left me with so many golden nuggets that I wanted to share with you. There were amazing entrepreneurs speaking at and attending the conference. Their experience might help you with the struggles we all face when building a business. Aside from their persistence and intelligence, knowing their audience allowed them to connect with everybody in the room. And that is a key takeaway in itself.
Key lessons from successful entrepreneurs for content creators and small business owners
The most powerful moments for me during the conference came from Jamie Kern Lima, co-founder and former CEO of IT Cosmetics. She was honest about her challenges, the struggle of convincing others about why her product was important, her self-doubts, but above all, she was truly inspirational. “At the end of the day, we all have our why. Know it’s bigger than yourself.” It’s what kept her going even after facing rejection and one “no” after the other. One possible investor even wanted her to stop being the face of her company because he thought she should lose weight. She proved him wrong over and over again, but especially when she sold IT Cosmetics to L’Oreal for 1.2 billion dollars.
When it comes to choosing his next investment, Shark Tank veteran Daymond John was very clear on what he looks for: he invests in the person. “I say everybody needs to put themselves in one to two words,” he advises. Instead of focusing on the size of the market, he wants to know how the entrepreneur has overcome failure, faced and surpassed challenges. When I asked him about raising and empowering our children, he was very clear. Teaching our kids financial skills is a must and we need to prep them for careers that don’t yet exist. I couldn’t agree more. My own career did not exist when I studied Journalism. And want to start winning the day as soon as you open your eyes? Don’t check email or social media, says Daymond John. “If you look at social media in the morning you get depressed. as well as you get overwhelmed if you look at all the emails with everybody else’s problems, and it takes aways from what you want to do that day and what you want to accomplish. So I spend the first hour reading my goals,” he explains. “And I set my times, dates, and moments to what I want to accomplish.” If we don’t start setting our priorities, “we always put everybody else before us.”
I’ve known Audrey McClelland for almost a decade from the blogging world. Don’t underestimate what this woman is capable of doing. Not only is she a great storyteller, TV personality, and content creator. She’s also successfully organized events and is constantly launching new projects. I’m sure she can do everything and more on her own, but for her, the key lies in collaboration to be able to scale. She and her partner Vera Sweeney are amazing on their own but together they move mountains. They do media activations, blogging campaigns, events, retreats, manage groups and even host a podcast together. But most importantly: they are constantly pitching to brands. Audrey stressed that being proactive is essential for growth.
The Deputy Chairman of Sandals Resorts International shared that in his company they often are impressed by what they see in other places and companies. Adam Stewart explained that they make a note of those details and later apply the Sandalization process: Take it, polish it up and make it better.
For years I have been a fan of Rebecca Minkoff, especially her affordable handbags. I’m such a fan of her Leo envelope clutch that I have shown it in TV segments and my what to pack posts, because it’s a practical and stylish design that has become a classic. She also shared her struggles as an entrepreneur and learning to delegate. “Hire out for what you’re bad at,” she advised, although you might need to keep control over your brand. For example, she still writes all her Instagram captions. And she was very on avoiding a common mistake female entrepreneurs make. If an employee is not doing their job, they need to go. “Cut the emotional cord,” Rebecca says and tells us to get rid of the motherly instinct that prevents us from firing those who aren’t delivering what they should. It is your money after all.
These fabulous Social Media On The Sand speakers shared even more lessons but I feel these 5 key takeaways can help inspire you in your journey. Whether you’re a content creator, blogger, small business owner or entrepreneur, these tips from successful entrepreneurs come in handy. Especially if you need extra motivation or are feeling a bit burned out. Remember why you started doing what you do, and it might help you get back on track!
Special thanks to Beaches Resorts for hosting Social Media On The Sand and inviting me to the conference. I paid a conference fee to attend and received many perks and swag.