One of the biggest pitfalls I see creators get stuck in is building a business that is far too reliant on social media for exposure/income. But what happens one day when Instagram goes down? Or shuts down for good? Or when pay-to-play gets taken to an extreme where it is no longer sustainable cost-wise? I ask myself daily, “if Instagram went away, would I still make the same amount of money?” Hopefully, at the end of this post, you’ll be asking yourself that too.
The good news is that there are a lot of ways for us to build creative businesses that take advantage of social media without relying on it for distribution. You can certainly still use it to build an audience while not relying on it to pay your rent. Here are a few ways you can do this in your own business:
1. Have a kick-ass website.
While we don’t own our social channels, we do own our own websites. Your website should have, at a minimum, a comprehensive home page, your services, an about page, case studies of your work, and a contact form. You should also have a blog, but more about that in a minute…
If applicable, it is also great to have items for sale on your website, such as presets or other digital items. This way you truly own your distribution instead of putting it in the hands of a third party.
2. Blog regularly.
This goes hand in hand with point #1, but it’s important enough to take up its own spot on this list. Blogging is vital for SEO, which will increase traffic to your website.
I always post my own content on my blog and then use social to help drive traffic back to the content. Why? Because I don’t want my content going down with the ship if Instagram disappears, and if you look into their policy you’ll see that they claim the rights to the content that you post on their channel. While this may not have any immediate implications, I don’t like the idea that another company can claim ownership over my intellectual property. So while I’ll still post images on social, it will never be the place that my actual blog content lives. This belongs on my website.
This is also a great way to engage with your audience by posting thought-provoking, useful information and having conversations with them in the comments section of your blog posts. Make this the place that people know to go to when they want to learn from or interact with you.
3. Build your email list and treat them well.
Your email list is the lifeblood of your business (or it should be.) You should have a free download available to help build your email list that is relevant to your audience’s needs, and you should have a consistent schedule for emailing them. The good news? It doesn’t have to be a draining, time-consuming ordeal that requires endless hours of email writing (ew.)
I email my list twice a month with premium content that they see before anyone else. It’s a good way for me to plan out my content themes since I know what I’ll be emailing out every other week, and I’m able to get both emails written and scheduled using only 1-2 hours a month. The frequency of your emails will depend on your business and how much your list wants to hear from you, but I think 1-2x/month is a great place to start off at. Focus on quality over quantity, treat your tribe well, and they will become your biggest cheerleaders.
4. Be amazing at customer service and community building.
Forming genuine connections with your audience and community is the best way to build your brand. The way you interact with your customers is everything. If you are able to leave consistent positive impressions you will build a tribe that is proud to support you and becomes free marketing for you through word of mouth. Whether it’s answering questions or going out of your way to support the businesses in your community, be a good ambassador of your brand and it will speak volumes.