How do you find kindred creators for collaborations and community support?
Usually through the DMs! It’s a lot like dating — usually, someone will DM someone else saying “Hey, I love what you do! How can we love on each other together?” You have to suss out whether they just want free/easy exposure, or if they truly understand the community you’re trying to impact and want to help. I get a lot of “Hey, I saw [X CREATOR] shout you out, and I love everything [X CREATOR] does, so you must be cool! Let’s be friends!”, and met so many genuinely great creators that way.
I’ve also found kindred spirits through a few events (other speakers at conferences, other influencers at a happy hour, etc) and planned retreats (one specifically led by @glographics).
What’s the best advice you ever received from another creator or mentor?
This changes daily! Today, what comes to mind is a banger from my travel/lifestyle blogging friend, Jema of HalfTheClothes.com. She always says, “People don’t care if you’re gone, but they love when you show up.” This gives me a lot of peace when I feel anxiety about needing to take a break or pull back on my public content to focus on developing a new project (or just focus on my mental health). There’s so much internet content out there; no one’s going to notice or care if you step back to Do You.
This is more practical, but a mentor taught me to incorporate taxes, personal health insurance and profit margin in my hourly or project rates. Before this, I felt hesitant about raising my rates. After this, I was like, OH. I *AM* BEING UNDERPAID.
Who are your biggest influences? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?
My biggest influences right now are the people who are giving me direct help — namely, my Digital Strategy manager (who helps organize my newsletter and social planning) and my business coach (who is showing me how to grow my business *my* way, without losing my sanity). Being a solo creator is a mind-effer, and you’re stuck in your brain a lot. I’ve realized how PRICELESS it is to get outside help.
The people who inspired me to do this personal finance work are Tiffany Aliche (@thebudgetnista) and Gaby Dunn (Bad With Money Podcast). They showed me that money can be, and HAS to be, intersectional.
What is your biggest challenge as a creator?
Currently, it’s getting out of my own head and out of my own way. I’ve always worked on a corporate team, and without several other voices AND a manager around me, I’m truly on my own work-wise for the first time. In their absence, several other voices have rushed into my head, and not all of them are helpful or productive! Getting digital marketing help and business coaching (and therapy!) has been so, so essential.
It’s also very, very difficult to lock down consistent and long-lasting work when much of the influencer marketing world works on a one-off basis. The consistent hustle is very tiring.
What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?
It’s cheesy, but I’ve learned to use my “weaknesses” to my advantage. For example, I thought being such a teacher’s pet, always loving having a manager and being given direction and affirmation, would be my downfall as a creator and entrepreneur. Turns out, all I need is the right help to structure my business and help me build a roadmap I can follow.
And I guess this shouldn’t have been too surprising, but: The biggest companies have the shiestiest budgets. Ha! Non-profits and smaller companies often meet me at my rates, sometimes exceeding them. Big brands pinch pennies, man. Rude.
Anything specific you’d like to share with creators who are just getting started?
GET HELP. Don’t do it on your own, because you’ll come up against your own demons pretty hard, pretty fast! I would’ve gotten a business coach sooner, had I realized how much time (and money) I would/do waste trying to figure it ALL out myself. The cost of a coach is so worth being released from that mental strain.
I’d also say, make a plan for consistency that fits *easily* into your current schedule. Make actual, Google Calendar Repeating time for the kind of regular freebie creation that your audience loves / a new person will come to love you for. Be realistic about how long things take!
What do you find are a creator’s or influencer’s biggest stumbling blocks and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?
I’m like a broken record with the Get Help thing, but I think that’s huge: You get flustered trying to be your own HR, legal team, business strategy, secretary, design, creative, EVERYTHING. You’ll stumble because doing all this is impossible! To overcome this? Get help. “Date” a few business coaches or mentors who (and this is important) HAVE done or ARE currently doing exactly what you want to do.
I think another stumbling block is burning out after a few weeks or months of feeling like a badass. We tend to shame ourselves for not consistently feeling up to creation. To battle this, it’s been helpful to always keep an Evernote doc or iPhone Note dedicated to random post, product or creation ideas, and stop everything when the inspiration hits you. If you feel a rush of creative inspiration, free-write it all out until you’re exhausted. Write down ideas you even think are stupid and unformed. Future tired-you will be SO grateful.
What’s next for you? Long term? Short term?
Next for me is an exciting period of hypothesizing, experimentation and analysis with my business coach to eventually build the online budgeting course of mah dreams. That’s short term.
Long term, I have revenue goals parsed out by the quarter, and my aim is to find continuously consistent, long-term work to get me coasting through each goal.
Future predictions for where the digital content world is headed?
I think the video world will continue to move towards places of less restriction. It seems like video creators are getting tired of YouTube, so they’re experimenting on TikTok and IGTV (at least in the US). Digital content nerds should continue to keep an eye on video creators who are doing seemingly-weird things on seemingly-obscure platforms.