You Don’t Need Social Media To Build Your Solo Business
There’s a better way to do business. I don’t really use social media for my business, aside from LinkedIn and the occasional Instagram update. In fact, I get anxiety just thinking about social media.
Don’t tweet, update, snap or text me.
Call me so I can hear your melodious voice. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let's have a discussion.
I have a method to my madness.
I’m only interested in speaking to and helping individuals who are actively interested in changing their situation, building a solo business and traveling the world. The people who talk about it, dream about it and then don’t do anything to change their circumstances will probably never be my clients anyway and are just passing by.
So by giving the majority of my attention to you, my favorite digital-nomad-to-be, I can provide much more value and support than someone who randomly tweets or grams at 10,000 anonymous faces.
If you have taken my email course, I encourage you to reply with questions. I want to hear your story. And you will always get a personal reply. Because the heart of the business isn’t likes or followers or hashtags- it’s real live people with feelings and struggles and dreams.
By giving you priority attention and ignoring everyone else, we can create a meaningful relationship based on mutual respect.
When you treat your potential clients and eager fans really well, they will love you for it. Because anyone who spends their time trying to appeal to everyone while attracting no one on social media will have a much harder time creating intimate relationships.
The internet does not begin and end with Facebook
I'm not the only one who thinks this. Jaron Lanier's new book Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now comes out soon and I'm excited to read it. There is life outside your newsfeed, I promise.
Here are some reasons why social media isn’t the end-all-be-all for your business:
It’s not a priority
You have a business idea. You thought of a name. You want to tell the world about it! So you open an Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter accounts. But wait.. now I have to fill these feeds up with content?! Oh my gosh- what can I post?
Social media shouldn’t even be a thought in your mind until you’ve crafted your five star business. If you don’t know who your audience is and how to explain what you do in a simple sentence then you’re not ready to dive into social media marketing.
Marketing comes last. After you’ve identified and researched your niche. After you’ve packaged your services. If you don’t know your business on a fundamental level, you can’t expect anyone else to either.
It’s a waste of time
Social media makes solopreneurs feel like they are spinning their wheels and not getting anywhere. You’re not.
Focusing on a few limited channels you can build yourself up and start conversations with genuinely interested people.
I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve reached out to solopreneurs or businesses I admire. I love love love their work, their unique voice and how much they have helped me without even realizing it.
How many people have you personally emailed or messaged as a fan to say hi or thank you? Probably not too many in the realm of all the people you “follow.” Because it takes time. And interest. Which most followers don’t possess for your business, no matter how much you wish they did. And 100 character tweets don’t count. Be real: they probably wrote that deep “Ugh I love your work” tweet while on the toilet.
You’re probably not an expert in it
There’s a huge difference between using social media as a person with a “cool life” and as a solopreneur in the hopes of getting business. The learning curve to master “the business of social media” is long and tiring. I can openly admit I’m terrible at keeping up my few accounts and feel it’s a chore. But I created a very no-frills strategy with a lot of repeating content for maximum memorability.
Anyone can click a follow button or heart. It takes one second. It doesn’t mean they are emotionally invested in what you’re all about. A comment can be genuine or just for show. Just look at the all the bots that blatantly comment generic “Keep up the great work!” on your Instagram photos in an effort to advertise themselves. It’s just such a waste of time for me. And it might be a waste of time for you too.
I don’t find that people are sincere in what they say on social media.
It’s all for show and looks. They feign excitement to appear “empowered” or “supportive”. What if instead of all this false positivity, we had a conversation with a single person? Not for show. Not for likes. Not for looks. But just because we care about what they have to say. Imagine engaging in a deep conversation without Instagramming a single moment.
What do you think lasts longer in someone’s mind? Their 5 seconds of fame online or the fact someone took time out of his or her day to listen, talk and empathize? That exchange of ideas and feelings will remain much longer than the high of the notification that their like just got liked.
It’s impossible to measure true “engagement”. All you can do is count on conversations and support.
There’s no guarantee your followers will even see you
Because of constant algorithm updates, it’s possible all of your followers won’t be able to see your post because the platform prioritizes which ones show up in your feed based on engagement. It’s not your fault people don’t “like’” your posts more than companies with a dedicated social media team on 24/7! Do you really want to put so much work into something seen for half a second by half your following?
Having followers doesn’t make you a leader
Before social media, I was brought up to believe that being a “follower” is a bad thing. I was encouraged to think for myself and not do what everyone else is doing. The mainstay question at my dinner table was “If everyone jumped off a bridge, would you jump too?” The obvious answer is no, but when you change the context somehow people revel in being a follower. It doesn’t hold a derogatory connotation anymore.
Following your favorite Influencer (gag me) is celebrated. Convincing people to drink your Kool-Aid doesn’t qualify you as a leader. True leaders aren’t measured by their followers. They hold themselves to higher standards and exhibit qualities like confidence, independent thinking, questioning etc..
True leaders don’t need external validation to know their ideas are good or revolutionary. Leaders do their own thing, and people naturally follow.
What they don’t do is scream and jump and wail their arms around like they’re having a temper tantrum in an effort to get the attention of millions. Leaders never say “Look at me! Look at me!”
Million of followers can’t make up for lousy leadership. A fancy title like “Influencer” or “Thought Leader” doesn’t mean anything either. The proof is in the pudding, so you should make sure your pudding is delicious.
You own nothing
You’ve heard it before and I’ll say it again. You don’t own anything on a network you don’t own. You own your website and your email list. That’s it.
Only a few people will ever give you cold, hard cash
Even if you had a million followers, a low percentage will ever pay you to do anything for them. Luckily, if you craft a five star business you can charge premium prices. Which means you only require a few clients to really make money. So instead of giving everyone your equal attention, pay little or no attention to casual followers and invest everything else into your true fans.
So.. what do you do instead?
The biggest question everyone asks me when I say I am not a fan of social media is.. “But how do you get business?” as if there was no business in the world before Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat were invented.
The key isn’t to produce content exclusively for your platform of choice, rather disseminate the content you already own. This includes things like articles, videos, infographics and audio files.
Produce content you own
- Newsletter automation
- Quora answers
Pick one platform to excel at and disseminate the content
You need content to promote on social media, otherwise, you’ll be slaving away writing grams 5 people see. Choose one and stick with it. I happen to like LinkedIn because it makes the most sense given that my clients are employees or freelancers. Who isn’t on LinkedIn looking for a new job or more work?
But if you are a health coach, for example, you might find Instagram a better forum for your audience.
Once you have consistently posted on the platform of your choice, you can think about adding another if it makes sense. Sometimes one is all you need. Or none!
Some people say your content must be original for each platform but I disagree. In fact, I think repetition is the key to being memorable. Write one blog, post it in 5 places. Make your content work for you.
Clients don’t come from social media exclusively. Rather, they come from all the places both you and your clients are at.
If your ideal clients hang out on a certain forum, that’s where you should be.
If they hang out in a specific mastermind, that’s where you should be.
If they frequently use a popular blog as a resource, that’s where you should be (guest posting and commenting!).
When you remove social media as the centerpiece of your marketing efforts, you realize there are many more effective places to find and engage clients.
Put your clients first
Actions speak louder than words. If you spend a fraction more amount of time empathetically listening and supporting your vocal fans instead of tweeting to the air, you will instantly rise above everyone else. Do you have an email list? Cool. How often do you ask how your subscribers are doing? What they’re struggling with? How can you help them more? Reply in real time. They will love you for it.
A personal reply to an email goes much farther than a follow-back.
Cultivating relationships isn’t easy, but it’s so worth it. Because while everyone else is frantically scheduling their lackluster posts for the week across platforms, you’ll be making someone’s day by giving them your full attention. No promotion needed.
Don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you want to try ads, blogging, social media, videos, podcasts and newsletters- slow down! Choose one thing to do consistently for a few months. Otherwise, you won’t be able to:
A) Evaluate if it’s working
B) Figure out if you enjoy it or not
If you hate writing, blogging isn’t for you so there’s no point in paining yourself into writing blog posts every week. Your readers can feel your disdain, which ultimately hurts your business. By minimizing the least fun marketing tasks you have to do, you can maximize your message and distill it into the medium that suits you. Maybe you don’t like writing, but prefer talking out posts? Hit record and get that baby transcribed.
I personally dislike social media (could you tell?), so I focus on writing articles. Not being all over social media and focusing my energy on what I’m great at (writing and teaching) has helped my business grow faster and more authentically than if I followed what everyone else was preaching.
The Secret To Marketing
The secret isn’t to be all over social media.. it’s to just connect with your target audience. That is literally it! So instead of getting all riled up over whether you start with Snap or Insta or Pinterest.. take a moment to breathe.
Do some research.
Where are your ideal clients hanging out?
What communities are they a part of?
Where do they spend a lot of their time?
Where do they go for answers?
Be there. Whether it’s in person or online, just have an active presence.
Entertain and educate the pants off of them.
How can people find you?
- Business Cards
- Press Mentions
- Guest posts
- Backlinks from other websites that mention you
- Word of mouth
Better you have no social media accounts than accounts that aren’t updated consistently.
A rule of thumb: if you can’t commit to being consistent then don’t commit at all.
The sooner you can knock down the virtual walls standing between you and your prospective premium clients, the better.
No one really wants to talk to an article, a graphic or status update.
They want to talk to a human being. Because all the feels come from connecting with someone on a human level, not a superficial one.
Remember that next time you’re watching the meaningless hearts rack up on your latest post.