If you have a love/hate relationship with social media, you’re not alone. Over the past few years, I’ve been finding myself less interested and more overwhelmed by apps like Instagram and TikTok, and feeling a pull towards slower platforms, like podcasting, blogging, and YouTube.

In this episode, I’m talking about some things to consider when it comes to where you’re putting your marketing energy, offering you reassurance that you don’t have to take part in any platform (or feature!) that you don’t want to, and giving you some of my top tips if you want to build a business outside of the world of social media.

I’m figuring this out right alongside you, but I hope that some of these ideas can support you in making a more empowered decision about where to spend your time.

Show Notes:

Sponsor:

This episode is sponsored by my business coaching community, The Profoundery. Want to check it out for yourself? Get your first Productivity Party Pass for free right here.

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Welcome to Slowpreneur, a podcast about building a business without the busy. I’m your host Stephanie Pellett and I’m a coach for thoughtful, values based entrepreneurs just like you. On this show, we talk about creating a business with intention, heart and sustainability in mind. Join me as I connect with my friends and clients and share my own reflections on why slow and steady entrepreneurship will always win the race. On today’s episode, I’m going to be talking about how I’m trying to get my business off of Instagram and some of the tips that I’ve picked up along the way.

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to Slowpreneur. Thank you so much for tuning in again. That means a lot to me, and it’s very exciting to have you back here. Today I’m going to be talking about Instagram. You didn’t think that I could have a show named Slowpreneur and not talk about the one platform that has the word “instant” in its name, did you? I have been moving towards slowness, as I indicated in the first episode of this show. And so I think it almost comes as no surprise that the instantness of Instagram is feeling less and less appealing to me as time goes on. We have had a lot of disruptions in our world, a lot of chaos, a lot of pain, a lot of stress. Difficult news, difficult worldwide events. And I think that Instagram and the way that Instagram presents us with that information has become overwhelming to me and to many of the people that I know. I want to stay informed. I want to know what’s going on in the world. I want to donate to causes that I care about and people who need my support. But I don’t really think that Instagram is the best way for me to figure out how to make contribution because what ends up happening is that rather than feeling empowered, I feel flooded. Rather than feeling informed, I feel inundated. And so as I have been moving away from Instagram in my personal life and moving towards new sources and thoughts and opinions that are more thoroughly outlined. I’m not trying to say there’s not good journalism on Instagram. There absolutely is but I want something that feels a little bit more long form a little less reactionary, a little less reactive. And so as I move towards those kinds of things, I’m noticing that I don’t want to feed the machine. I don’t want to inadvertently be perpetuating the same things that I’m trying to avoid in my personal life by continuing to put up tons of content on Instagram that encourages people to stay on that platform and make Instagram a lot of money.

So I’ve been trying really hard to get off of Instagram, partly out of necessity. As I mentioned on the first episode, I have been feeling really tired. I have been raising a puppy. I have had a lot more responsibilities and stress in my life the last six months to a year than at any time prior over the last few years. And so in some ways, I just can’t I can’t do Instagram in the same way that I was before. But in other ways I just also don’t want to. So it’s a combination of both. I can’t and I don’t want to, and the don’t want to is what I indicated: I don’t want to feed the machine. I don’t want to be contributing to this perpetual cycle of content creation that I think is not good for really anyone, not the creators, not the people consuming that content. It’s just this endless cycle of noise and stress that I don’t want to be a part of.

So because of those two factors. I have been mostly off of Instagram, over the past, let’s say four months, especially. I kind of took a break at the end of December and then I never really came back. I’m recording this at the end of April. I never really came back to it. I have posted a couple of things on Instagram. I posted a couple of times my stories, but comparing that to what I used to do, it’s a really big difference. And so this kind of started more or less accidentally, I didn’t intend to take a four month break from showing up there. But as a result, things have shifted in my business. Sometimes the best way to figure out what’s going to happen is to not overthink it and just do it and see what happens. And as I mentioned on the first episode, I have noticed a bit of a slowdown in terms of connecting with people. The less that I’ve been on that platform, the fewer connections I’m having that are more of that casual ongoing, let’s just DM a couple times or like each other’s posts and content… and that kind of interaction is valuable. And that’s part of why it makes it really difficult to move entirely away from a platform that does involve community and connection. And I have noticed a shift in my business as a result, it hasn’t just been all daisies and sunshine that I have moved away from Instagram and my business has not experienced any changes. It absolutely has. I would say it feels slower. It feels less connected. I feel a little bit less motivation. Ironically, I actually recorded a podcast episode on this for one of my previous podcasts that was all about internal motivation versus external motivation. And even though I don’t think that we should be doing anything in our lives solely for external validation, I do think that that’s an important part of being human right is you don’t want to just be shouting into the void all the time and not feeling like you’re getting anything in return. And that’s one thing that Instagram is really good at. It’s really good at giving us a sense of quick hit of validation. We put something out there, we get a like, we hear from people we haven’t heard in a while. And all of that is super valid and I have been missing that in my own business over the last few months. I’ve had crises of confidence that I’ve been wondering if anything I’m doing is landing and it’s important for me to mention that upfront that this has not been without its challenges. And this podcast is actually a part of my strategy to say, okay if I’m going to avoid Instagram, what am I going to replace it with? Where am I going to put my time and energy instead? Because what I’m noticing is that it does leave a gap. I’m not going to be pollyannish here you know, I have noticed less ongoing connection with my clients and less business as a result.

Still — I still don’t want to do it. You know, it’s not enough for me to feel like okay, you know, I just have to bite the bullet. I have to show up anyway. I have to sell my soul in order to be present online in a way that doesn’t feel accessible or fun for me anymore. I’m not going to do that. I refuse. I can’t. As I said, I can’t and I also don’t want to. So I’m trying to figure this out. I’m trying different ways to make my business succeed and function and thrive. Even while divesting from a platform that I think creates a lot of problematic things for the people who are on that platform.

I think this is a good time to mention that I am not here to just dunk on Instagram. I do think there are some problematic aspects to it as I just said. However, if you love your time on that platform, and you get a lot out of it, you enjoy the content that you’re consuming. This is not me here to tell you that that’s wrong or bad. This is me here to explain my personal experience and also the experience I’m hearing from several of my clients, and trying to find new ways if the platform doesn’t work for you. And that goes for any platform! I’m picking on Instagram because of the name and because of the scrolling nature of the app. But at the same time this could go for any platform, any social media channel that you personally do not resonate with or do not align with and want to remove yourself from. That doesn’t mean that if you’re enjoying Instagram, and you’re getting a lot out of it, you have a huge audience, your audience is really engaged and excited about what you’re sharing, that I’m saying that you need to leave because it’s just problematic point blank for everyone. I don’t think that’s true. There’s no such thing as a one size fits all in anything. And that goes for social media as well. This is more of just me trying to share an alternate perspective that if you don’t love Instagram, if it’s not working for you, that you do not have to be on it. But if it is working for you, you can be on it and there’s absolutely no problem there. Take what you like leave the rest. That’s the motto.

This episode of Slowpreneur is sponsored by The Profoundery, a coaching and community program for thoughtful entrepreneurs run by yours truly. If you’ve been looking for a supportive group of business besties who share your values and really get it. This could be the perfect membership for you because these people are truly amazing. Every month in the program, we have a bunch of different calls, for example Productivity Parties to get our work done together, workshops on things like project planning, balance and boundaries or goal setting. And we often do Creative Think Tanks that offer custom group coaching for members for whatever they may be struggling with. We also have a really supportive Slack community with weekly check ins, we have a resource library full of recordings and interesting workshops, and a business book club, so that you can learn about business from interesting and diverse authors. If this sounds like your cup of tea, I’d love for you to come check it out. You can learn more and get your first Productivity Party pass for free by going to stephaniepellett.com/profoundery. I would love to see you there.

One of the ways that I have been trying to do this is by prioritizing platforms that I own and I’m gonna explain what I mean. So Instagram is a platform where there is an algorithm as we all know very well, there are lots of think pieces all over the internet about the algorithm and people bemoaning the algorithm and blah, blah, blah. I don’t like to spend too much time talking about the algorithm because I do think it’s kind of a boring conversation. I think that if you make good content and you connect with your community over time, in the long run, you will be able to be successful no matter what the algorithm is doing. However, it’s still a consideration. There is an algorithm. And I think what the algorithm points to for me is that I don’t own anything on Instagram. I don’t have any control over let’s call it the means of production. I can’t decide what they’re going to change. I can’t decide what kind of feed they’re going to create. I can’t decide what they will prioritize in the algorithm. I can’t decide what new features they’re going to introduce that I will be required to jump through hoops and you know, dance, monkey dance, in order to be successful. For example, when they came out with reels. Now suddenly my business has to involve reels if I want to be shown anywhere, or I have to pay to play. And that’s something that we’ve seen from pretty much all social media platforms over the years. And if you’re aren’t if you aren’t seeing it on a particular social media platform yet, just know that that’s in their long game and that it will be coming.

So for everyone who’s talking about oh, Instagram has really gone downhill over the years you used to be able to reach so many people! We saw the exact same thing happened with Facebook. And I think the important thing to remember is that it’s not accidental, you know, it’s not just a curious coincidence that both of those platforms went in that direction. It used to be that if you had people following you on Facebook and you posted something, all of those people would see your posts, that was kind of the whole point of them following you. But now we’re seeing on Facebook a couple years ago, we started seeing that if you posted something you had to pay to boost the post to show your post to the same people who already opted in to follow you. That didn’t seem right to most people, so a lot of people started leaving Facebook and now we’re seeing this with Instagram, right? If you go into your Creator dashboard, if you go into your insights, you’re gonna see tons of prompts to boost your posts to reach more visitors. And really, we think in our sense of fairness that it should be that if someone has followed along with our account, they should be able to see what we post that makes sense to us. But I think again, it’s important to remember that that’s not accidental that that’s not happening. It’s not happening because Instagram wants to make money.

Instagram is a business and I can’t remember where I first heard this phrase. I’ll try to look up a source to put in the shownotes but it’s this concept that if you’re not paying to use the product, then you are the product, your attention in this case is the product. Instagram is pulling all of its levers you know that all of its really smart engineers have designed to keep you on the platform as long as possible. That is their goal as a business and we can hate that you know, we can think that’s unethical. We can think a lot of things, but at the end of the day, they’re a business, they’re going to make decisions that benefit them as a business. Do I wish that they were thinking about their long term plan and how over time this is likely to burn people out on the platform? We’re seeing a huge mass exodus of big creators on the platform, I’ve been getting some posts from friends about large influencers who are saying, I’m done, I want to leave. So again, I kind of think that if they had prioritized their long term growth and sustainability over short term profit, they probably would be more successful in the long term because people are going to leave you know, their success is not inevitable forever.

And so if we start from this assumption that Instagram is going to do whatever it takes to create those really unrealistic year over year increases in profit that its stakeholders want and it will do that at all costs to its users, including manipulating the algorithm, including creating so much more types of content that creators now have to create in order to be successful, then it allows us to make some really interesting decisions because we can either accept that and accept that those are the rules of engagement. We can leverage and use that to our advantage. So for example, if you’re starting to grow your business, and you want to reach as many people as possible, you can just surrender to the fact that you won’t have control over the algorithm and you will have to bend over backwards to meet the content demands of the platform. And you know what, for some people and some personality types, I think that’s a great strategy! For you to lean in, surrender and say, well, if Instagram wants me to create reels then I’m going to create reels, and I’ve seen a lot of people use that to their advantage to be successful because then their reels go viral, then they meet a lot more people and have a lot more traction on the platform. So that’s one strategy.

And then I think the other strategy is to accept that Instagram is not going to change. It’s not going to go back to the good old days, the glory days, and instead choose where we want to spend our time. So for me, I’m really trying to prioritize platforms that can’t change the rules on me, at least not to the same extent as an Instagram or TikTok or Facebook. I’m talking about things like a personal website and blog that I own. That yes, the SEO is dependent on Google’s algorithm. And that’s a whole topic a whole other conversation because they’re doing kind of the same thing. But organic search is still something that people use in so many ways to find content and find information. And that’s not going to change anytime soon, even if Google will start prioritizing advertised and sponsored results. It’s not happening at the same rate, and we still have some control over our means of production. The same goes for email newsletters! Yes, Google can start to manipulate where an email goes in its Inbox by putting it into the promotions folder or the updates folder, but to some extent it is still received by the person who sign up for your newsletter and the email marketing platforms themselves. So something like a MailChimp or Mailerlite, they can’t control whether or not you take your list away from their platform. You own your list, and that’s why list building is such an important part of being a business owner because it cannot be taken away from you, just like a personal website cannot be taken away from you. And also something like podcasts cannot be taken away from you. These are sort of open source options where you are the algorithm or your effort that you put into it your time that you put into it can lead to growth and success in a way that you have a lot more control over than a social media platform that is going to change the rules on you at all times.

The trade off, of course is that you then don’t get access to the wide audiences that these platforms have to offer. So Instagram has millions of users. And theoretically, if they weren’t changing the algorithm so much on you and they weren’t forcing you to boost your posts, theoretically, you could reach a lot of people there. It would be faster, theoretically, than trying to grow your SEO on a blog that is in the middle of nowhere on the internet and you have to get people to find it. But it doesn’t always work out that way. That’s the shiny promise of these platforms. But it doesn’t always work out that way for some of the reasons I’ve already described. And I think it’s sort of like Glennon Doyle talks about on her podcast, We Can Do Hard Things. Both options are hard. You just have to choose your hard, and for me I am really trying to choose the hard that involves longer timelines for something to take off and reach more people. Different kinds of marketing strategies that theoretically are going to be harder to reach people than something like Instagram, but in reality might be about the same amount of work. I’m not sure yet. But I’m choosing that hard because I can’t and because I don’t want to. I’m choosing the hard that will probably take longer, but is going to feel more in alignment and more in integrity for me.

So how am I going to do this? What are the tips that I have for you? Well, I do have some tips. I haven’t figured this out fully for myself or for my business, but I’m working on it. We’re trying things and here are the things that I have to share.

So tip number one, don’t build what you don’t want to sustain. So if you currently don’t have a presence on Instagram, and you don’t really want to have a presence on Instagram, don’t start a presence on Instagram. I have a lot of people who come to me when they’re first starting their businesses and they feel like they need to be on every platform at the same time in order to be successful. But they’re also telling me in the same breath that they have no interest in that kind of marketing and showing up in that way. But if that’s you don’t start! Don’t start with you don’t want to sustain and this goes for any platform. It’s not just Instagram. I’m picking on Instagram because of the name but a lot of these kinds of platforms are the same. You do need marketing. You do need to do something if you’re not going to do social media, but you don’t necessarily need to do social media in order to be successful. So that’s kind of tip number one. And the reason for this is because energy doesn’t lie. This is one of my core philosophies in life. I first heard it from my friend Sonja Seiler of Nurture Retreats. But the concept of energy doesn’t lie just means that if you’re half assing the platform because you hate it and you don’t want to show up there, that can be felt, that can be felt by your audience, that can be felt by the people around you who are consuming your content. I really believe that, so if you’re hating it and it’s not bringing you joy, then I don’t think it’s actually even going to be successful in the ways that you’re hoping that it will be successful. I don’t think there’s a way to fully phone it in and still have the kind of success that you’re hoping for. One of my other core beliefs is that there’s kind of no such thing as easy low hanging fruit that is just super simple to implement with little to no effort and still have really massive rewards for you. I think most important things take effort and time. And so I don’t think that you can phone it in on Instagram or any platform and still have the kind of explosive results that you’re thinking you’re gonna see.

That brings me to point number two, tip number two, which is to fact check or notice your actual traction on any given platform. So by this I mean that if you are currently feeling a lot of anxiety about the concept or the idea of stepping away from a platform like Instagram or Facebook or TikTok, I just want you to take some time to actually fact check your assumption that all of your business is coming from Instagram. As I mentioned before we get a lot of external validation from these platforms because we’re getting more interaction with people on them. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that that’s where we’re getting the most of our business from. I think it’s easy to kind of get our wires crossed there and say, Well, this is where I’m getting the most engagement. So therefore this must be where I’m getting the most actual business. And for some businesses, that will be absolutely true. But I think that for a lot of businesses, once you actually look at your numbers, you might find that actually a lot of your traffic is coming from referrals from your existing clients or from a feature that you were in in a local magazine, or in a YouTube video that you posted three years ago and is still getting a lot of traffic. It’s not necessarily the case that this one platform where we’re getting the most engagement is actually where we’re getting the most sales. And so when I think fact check, I just want you to know. I just want you to look at the numbers and know. As I said earlier in the episode, even if you WERE getting a ton of engagement from Instagram, I still don’t necessarily think that that’s a great reason for you to stay on a platform that you hate. However, it might give you more food for thought. But for many of us I think we might find Oh, actually we have less traction on this app then we really think we do. Wandering Aimfully is a company and a business that I really respect and admire. And they’ve talked about this on a recent podcast episode, where they did some fact checking of their own and figured out the percentage of people who converted based on Instagram. And they found that it was really low. I don’t remember how big the number actually was. But I think maybe it was something like 10% of their overall customers that ended up buying from them. And they do this in a very interesting way. They have essentially a post purchase survey that asks their customers, you know, what was the thing that led you to buy or led you to kind of opt into our membership. And so people have a bunch of options that they can choose from Instagram is one of them. And when they looked at those numbers, they sort of realized, oh, it’s not as high as we thought. And they had been putting a ton of effort into this platform. And so to realize that it maybe wasn’t equating to as much overall sales as they thought was just an interesting thing for them to know about. Now, something I do need to say here is that sometimes what ends up happening is that someone will hear about you on Instagram first and then if they convert over to something like your newsletter list or staying in touch with you through a podcast or something like that, and that is what leads to the trust building and that’s what eventually leads to the sale. So it’s not to say that there is no benefit in having exposure to more people on Instagram. I think I’m trying to say that there are other ways to get that same exposure, if you personally choose not to be on a given platform. So fact checking is a great thing to do when you’re starting to make this decision.

Tip number three is to explore other marketing strategies. So speaking of Wandering Aimfully, they have a really awesome in depth blog post that lists 13 different strategies for online business owners who don’t love marketing, to explore if they’re looking for something different to do with their business. So these are things like running a workshop or setting up a quiz or having a free trial for your product or service, things like that. So there are a bunch of sort of alternate strategies that you could explore. And it’s really in depth and really great. They have a lot of awesome like templates and things like that that you can explore. So I will link that in the show notes. And I will also link a YouTube video that I did for Shopify recently listing 11 different low cost ways that you can promote your business and not all of them involve social media. In fact, most of them don’t. So in this video I was talking about things like reaching out to do guest posting or getting product reviews from your clients and customers by offering a few free sessions of your service or free products, or also interviewing experts in your field to get more SEO on your content and more reach for your content. Also, you can try things like having an affiliate program or getting involved in gift guides or trying traditional press coverage by writing press releases and pitching different reporters. So it’s a very in depth video. There’s lots of ideas in there that you can explore. But instead of going into each of the ideas on this podcast, I think what I wanted to get across in this episode is that all of these ideas will take work. And so I think the thing to remember is that there are no magic bullets, you are going to have to do something, but you can choose to put your efforts somewhere else. And that will still work in a different way. So if you look at something like traditional press coverage, being featured in a newspaper or magazine, nobody’s saying that that’s going to be easy, right? You’re going to have to write a press release, you’re going to have to pitch reporters on a particular angle for a story. You’re going to have to wait because often there are long timelines on that. But that’s a way to get in front of a large group of people just the way that Instagram lets you get in front of a large group of people. So it’s different in the sense that there are gatekeepers for those kinds of coverage. There is more of a process to go through in order to get that kind of coverage. However, it still has the same outcome. So you can choose to get in front of people on Instagram in a way that you quickly have access to you. It’s free. And theoretically, if you put a lot of effort into it and a lot of time into it, it can translate to reach, right, if you’re using all the right hashtags, and you’re engaging in conversations. And so my point here is not to say that there’s not a way to be successful on Instagram, we all know that there is but if you’re not doing that work on Instagram, then you’re not going to have success through Instagram. So you might as well take that same effort and that same drive that you have to reach new people and apply it to some alternate marketing strategies and just know in your mind, have the reframe that nothing is going to be easy, nothing is a magic bullet. Nothing is low hanging fruit. So what do I want to put my energy and my effort behind? And I think the more that we can have that mindset, the more that we can think about marketing as something that is a necessity in our business, right? It’s not just like we make the thing and then step back and just say you know, I built it, they will come. That’s not really how it works. And so if you don’t want to use these social media platforms, just know that there are a lot of other strategies for you. You just are going to need to put a little bit of effort into them in order to make them work instead.

This is not an ad, it’s a pause. I decided to build an intentional break into every episode of solopreneur because I know I’m throwing a lot of ideas and hopefully inspiration your way and I wanted to give you a moment to integrate intention to not have to absorb any more to just marinate in what we’ve talked about so far. And take a breath before we continue. Let’s get back to the show.

Tip number four is to think a little bit smaller and by that, I mean, I think I find that oftentimes we are on Instagram trying to reach people worldwide, right we have these visions of a very large expansive passive income business, because that’s the idea that we’ve been sold by these, you know, marketing gurus. But I think there is a lot of value on the local level that we are overlooking when it comes to our networking, when it comes to our marketing, when it comes to how to reach new people. And part of the reason I think this is because locally, you probably have a little bit less competition for your specific niche or your specific product. This is something I talk about a little bit in the Shopify video, because it’s something I believe in really strongly. In your local area there might be local magazines, there might be local listings. You can get yourself on Google Maps, which is something that I use constantly in my personal life to find out about new businesses, right? If I’m not hearing about it from a friend, I’m probably searching for it on Google and looking at the maps listings to see who near me can handle this kind of problem that I’m having. If I need a dog trainer who can help me with that and looking at my local availability, or if I need a certain kind of candle or a certain kind of product. Maybe I’m Google Map searching for those kinds of products to see what stores near me sell it. And so a lot of my personal behavior happens at a local level when I’m trying to figure out what to buy and who to support. And I think the same is true for a lot of people that you’re talking with depending on your niche. Of course, not everything is designed to be provided on a local level. But I do think that you can still get a lot of local traction, it’s probably easier for you to get local press coverage. It’s probably easier for you to find local in person events for selling your products. It’s probably easier for you to post fliers in your neighborhood and show up at cafes and ask them if you can drop off something for their bulletin board. Don’t overlook the local level. Don’t overlook the mommy groups and the meetups and the bars in your area where there might be people who are looking for your product or your service. I think we kind of think of these things are sort of rinky dink, you know, we want to have world domination. We want to reach people in Australia, with our business and that’s great. You know, I’m not poo-pooing on that by any means. I think that’s great. Everyone should know in Australia, what you’re up to and if I have any listeners in Australia, hey, maybe just use the same analogy but backwards and think about people in Canada. We want to reach people all over the world and I think that you should I’m sure your business is incredible. I want everyone around the world to know about it. But if you’re just starting out and you’re struggling to get featured, if you’re struggling to find customers in the first place, and you feel like oh gosh, I can’t leave Instagram because how will I ever find anyone? Just think about where are the places local level that you could be featured that you could make relationships? Is there a radio show where they interview people? Is there a magazine where they feature local entrepreneurs? Find those places. Again, you are going to have to do a bit of research, you are going to have to put yourself out there, but it could be a great alternative strategy to being on social media all the time and being in that echo chamber of only reaching the people that you’ve already reached.

Number five is to think about partnerships. So as you’ve been building your business, I think that you’ve probably come across awesome people in your industry in your network that you may or may not know in person or in real life, but that you think are up to really cool things that are maybe aligned with what you are trying to do with your business. I would encourage you to reach out to those people. I would encourage you to build those relationships. Some of my best clients, my best opportunities have come as a result of networking and I am not the best networker. I will say upfront, I am not so great at answering text messages. It’s hard for me to put myself out there. I’m an introvert. But my best friends and my best opportunities have come as a result of showing up to things like the Tuesdays Together meetup that I used to go to, showing up to Creative Mornings which I used to go to. And I know that those things are not available in person yet as of now. But CreativeMornings has an amazing online monthly event that you can attend. You can go to all kinds of meetups in your area where there might be other local entrepreneurs, or you can just send them an email and see if you can have coffee with people who are doing things that are aligned with what you want to do. Once you have those relationships, which I think are a great thing to prioritize building, then you can start to think about the partnerships that you could do and I think that there is a lot of opportunity here to reach new people. If your goal with Instagram is to reach new people, which I think is the thing that it is best at, then you want to make sure that you are taking advantage of your relationships and your networking and seeing whether combined you two people or three or four or five can reach even more people as a result of your collaboration. So we’ve seen this a lot over the past few years – a lot of giveaways, right, a lot of partnerships to sponsor a spot in a particular program or to get a gift bag that features products from a lot of different companies. There are so many opportunities with giveaways specifically. You could also think about doing a combined workshop or a training with somebody else in your industry, because then you’re both getting to be exposed to one another’s audiences in a really cool and collaborative way. Everybody who is following you is probably going to be interested in that other person and vice versa. We’ve seen this on a really large level with Rachel Rogers, Robert Hartwell and Susan Hyatt coming together to put together the event “The Most” which is a weekend mastermind that I saw a lot of people take part in. Also my client Romina, she collaborated with a colleague and friend of hers Hannah and together, they formed a new business called In the Business of Purpose. And they were able to use both of their respective audiences and both of their respective skill sets to come together and build something that can reach even more people. So these kinds of partnerships and collaborations can be super smart ways to get to know others. Another strategy in this kind of box of partnership is to set up informal referral networks. So if you know other people in your industry, who do similar related things to you, you can reach out to them and say, Hey, by the way, I am going to recommend you for any and all of my clients who need somebody who is a financial coach, for example. So my friend Chris, of Rags to Reasonable he is the go to person that I recommend to so many of my clients because he changes lives. And so I have that referral network with him, where he also then might send people my way if he thinks they might be a good fit. And we don’t have any kind of like formal relationship with that. It’s not an affiliate thing. But it’s just like connecting with these people and knowing who around you is a great resource, a great service provider, a great product. You can set up these kinds of informal referral networks that will allow you both to get more business as a result. Another example might be Lisa, my friend and colleague at The Wellth Co. or Linn over at New School of Finance, who handles my taxes and is amazing. With all of these people, I don’t have anything formal set up and for some of them, I haven’t even reached out to let them know that I’ll be recommending them for different clients. But in my mind, I think of it as a mutually beneficial relationship. I can send clients their way and they perhaps will send clients my way. And sometimes it’s as easy as just sending an email to make that explicit to say, I will be keeping you in mind for this. Could you keep me in mind for XYZ other thing. And once you have that set up, that can be a really fruitful way to start generating more incoming leads and incoming business in a way that feels ethical and sustainable and also fun and rewarding because people love to recommend other business owners that they think are doing good work in the world and so it’s a really win win situation.

Tip number six is to optimize for word of mouth. Now I’m going to do a whole episode on word of mouth marketing because I remain convinced it is the most underrated and most important for marketing that we have. And yet we don’t think of it as marketing, right? We don’t think of it as something we can actively control. And I don’t think we can control it but there are ways that we can improve it or optimize for it. Obviously one of the first ways is to make sure that you are delivering an extremely good product or service right, making sure that your client experience is down pat, making sure that people feel totally safe and protected and provided for them when you’re working with them or when they receive your product. There are so many ways to make this happen. The simplest of which is just showing up and doing what you said you would do. But you can take this to a whole other level by including extra bonuses, including more surprise and delight in your process. But something I love to do is just giving people more than they expected, being more generous than anyone expected. And so I think that there are ways to kind of make sure that your product and your service is really really set up to make people as happy as they possibly can be and make sure that they feel that they would want to recommend the service to someone else. Also giving people opportunities to share about your work, so that could be something as simple as asking for testimonials in your outtake process, right? If you work with somebody, or you send them a product, then maybe it’s following up a certain amount of time after and asking what they thought of that product, asking them for a review or asking for a testimonial for the service that you provided. Then being able to use those testimonials to you know, show others the quality of your work and or show them that they did have a great experience and maybe they might want to talk about it to somebody else. Other ways to encourage sharing might be to host a giveaway yourself and asking people to tag a friend that they think might be interested. It could be hosting a workshop for a program and saying that anyone who brings a friend will get a particular amount of a discount. There are so many ways to build in sharing into your process that will encourage more of it. And also lastly, you might want to think about building in thank you gifts for referrals that you get. So if people know that they will get something as a result of referring, that might make them a bit more likely to share. And so obviously we’ve seen this happen on a really large level with big affiliate marketing programs. And I think affiliate marketing can be a great way to reach more people and just give your your customers a thank you for, you know, referring you to somebody else that they think would benefit from your product or service. But it could also just be on a very small level – with a service based business you could give them a dozen cupcakes. You know, I know a lot of real estate agents will do this where if there is a referral that comes from particular client, they will then drop off a fruit basket or a bunch of flowers to say thank you and that is not only a nice thing to do, and a classy thing to do, but also I think encourages more sharing and more referrals. Which again, I see as a win win situation. You don’t want to set this up as an unethical thing where the reward for sharing is so large that it starts to encourage people sharing that otherwise wouldn’t, you know, we don’t want to go that far. We don’t want to become like a bit of an MLM where we’re only getting referrals because people know that they’re going to get something out of it. But thanking people, giving people a gift and giving people some encouragement to share, I think can be a good thing when it’s done with integrity.

The last thing I will say on this is to remember that it’s all an experiment anyway. So if you are feeling totally burned out on a particular platform, and you cannot muster the energy to show up there, consider running an experiment where you just don’t for a certain period of time, you just don’t do it and see what happens. There’s almost nothing that is completely catastrophic or completely irreversible that we can do in our lives or in our businesses. So why not just try? As I said, I’ve done this by accident over the last few months. And I’ve gotten a lot of data from that experiment. I’ve gotten a lot of data that has informed me starting this podcast or trying to find ways to encourage more referrals and more testimonials in my work. And all of that data is super useful to me as a business owner. So while maybe my sales have slowed down a little bit, which could also be due to a number of other factors besides Instagram, cough cough global pandemic cough, cough, blah, blah, blah. I still feel like doing that experiment has been worthwhile, and I could still go back. I could still realize no, this is too high of a price to pay. I need to be on Instagram. Let me find a new way of doing it that feels more sustainable for me. All of the experiments that I do in my business are helpful because they all inform what I want to do going forward. So I also encourage you to be playful with it. It doesn’t have to be this all or nothing, yes or no, black or white kind of thinking when it comes to really anything in our business but social media is definitely a part of that. You can let your social media lapse for six months and then come back to it and say, Hey, I’m back and I want to do it differently. That’s okay. There will be consequences that you will notice and you will be able to learn from but it’s okay. You can try it. You can do it and it will all work out. So I hope I’ve given you some ideas in this episode of ways that you can start to move away from any of the platforms that are not feeling good to you. I would love love, love, love, love, love to hear your thoughts on this topic because it’s something that I am noticing across the industry right Sarah Von Bargen quit the internet last year. Alexandra Franzen is somebody who notoriously does not have any social media presence and has this extremely thriving business. There are a lot of people who have quit social media and still have businesses that are successful and thriving. And so we all know it’s possible. We all know that there were businesses before there was social media. So of course it’s possible. Of course, it’s possible. It’s just that we’ve had this idea in our mind that this is the magic bullet for all of our businesses to explode and thrive instantly with very little effort. And I don’t think that is true. And so I think it’s worth remembering that this is not a prerequisite to having a business, that it never was historically. There have been businesses ever since there have been humans, pretty much and so we do not need these platforms in order to succeed, we might just have to do it a little bit differently.

Thanks so much for listening to Slowpreneur. If you liked this episode, please share it with a friend or reach out and let me know at Hello at Stephanie pellett.com, I would love to hear from you. As always, you can find show notes for this and all episodes at stephaniepellett.com/slowpreneur. Thanks for listening and I’ll talk to you soon!


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