“Collect great people and the clients will follow”, with Abi Sea

“Collect great people and the clients will follow”, with Abi Sea

This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Abi Sea from Sea Change Creative Content. 

In this week’s episode, you’ll hear Abi and Katie chatting about keeping momentum during a launch, why Abi’s moving away from Instagram as a marketing tool and how she sets about creating a brilliant video newsletter every week. 

Abi and Katie also talk about unconventional book recommendations and lots more besides. As always, all resources are available as links in the show notes.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Abi is a launch content collaborator and a content writer. She works with women launching new services, memberships, programmes and products into the online space. She helps them pull together sales content to help with their launch strategy or content for their digital marketing.

Abi’s business journey

Before she became self-employed, Abi had faced many setbacks as an employee. She had multiple redundancies in the early 00s as she raised her two children and took on part-time, flexible work to fit around the family.

The uncertainty of the funding for her last job helped her decide to navigate the stormy seas of entrepreneurship! She spent an entire year as a freelancer before starting Sea Change Creative Content.

“I work with women who want to make the world a better place with their skills and services. More beautiful, more colourful, more clever, healthier… I love breathing life into people’s ideas and give them a burst of energy to keep going forward with their launch.” – Abi

When it comes to qualities in clients, Katie is curious about what’s important to Abi.

Abi’s main passion is to work with women who want to do good with their work. She recognises that women who are driven and passionate to serve often get tangled up when marketing their services and products.

Growing services beyond content and copywriting

When Abi first started working with clients, it was mostly writing work. By working on her launches – and supporting clients working through theirs – she was able to pull together additional services that helped clients launch.

She now helps clients in several areas through their launch plan. Including:

  • Identify their launch message
  • Designing a marketing plan to target their ideal audience,
  • Create a launch content plan and timeline to keep on schedule
  • Writing all supporting content and sales copy
  • Keeping clients motivated and accountable to reach their goals

If clients need additional support such as graphic design, photography or video creation, she will pull in her trusted and talented peers and colleagues.

“It’s all about collaboration for me, and I don’t want to over-promise and under deliver. Other people are better at photography and graphic design than I am – so why not work with more great people?” – Abi

Finding the key to unlock the best launch approach

Abi has tried herself so many times to launch a programme or membership idea but has found the launch process so hard to do alone. She calls herself the ‘queen of sunken launches’, which puts her in a great position to help others.

For Abi, she knows only too well there are so many hurdles and blocks to get past. Launching can often feel impossible.

Katie’s keen to learn how Abi supports clients through the challenging parts of a launch. For Abi, it all lies in working out the unique message that customers and clients need to hear to act and buy.

Often clients come to Abi if they’ve had a failed launch or they’re feeling overwhelmed with the whole process. They have a great idea but struggle to pull it all together, and Abi says it’s often because they’ve forgotten to focus on the transformation they offer their clients.

In Abi’s experience, the launch momentum shifts when you re-focus on what transformation you offer people. The whole tone of your content changes, as does the planning and day-to-day activities. You move away from a money-based, commercial focus to one that’s around values.

“We expect to see personality on Instagram and something more personal. You’re right – this year has been so challenging for people. If you don’t have a lot of yourself to spare – putting it up on Instagram for people to judge and comment on is terrifying. On LinkedIn, there’s none of that expectation.” – Katie

Instagram and Sea Change Creative Content

As always, Katie’s curious to hear how Abi uses the platform for her marketing and gets a surprise when Abi talks about moving her focus away from Instagram altogether. Even though it pains her to walk away! Instagram is always changing, which makes it hard for Abi to gain momentum with any one strategy or content plan.

One of Abi’s key goals in life is to stand out and offer something different for people who follow or subscribe to her newsletters. She recognised pretty quickly that LinkedIn is a great place to do that because it’s still classed as a corporate platform, so adding personality, creativity, and colour is so much easier for her.

Katie thinks it’s so helpful to recognise where your energy is best placed on social media.

A week in the life of Abi’s marketing

Abi’s taking life easy, after a very difficult year. When recording this episode of The Whin Big Podcast, the school summer holidays are on the horizon, so Abi’s focusing on posting once a week minimum on LinkedIn and in a Facebook group.

She plans to get more structured in creating longer content and articles for LinkedIn that can be repurposed in smaller ways throughout the week.

In addition to this, Abi also sends out a weekly email on a Friday to her small but lovely mailing list. It’s called Sea Change Cinema. The email includes pictures, recommendations, advice, a thought piece, as well as a 10-minute video. In the video, Abi shares a training or coaching idea, a learning tool or some advice around the practical – and mental – aspects of running a business online.

“I find being an entrepreneur lonely at times and I really want Sea Change Cinema to be somewhere that other people can tap into feeling connected, and understood. I love the idea of engaging with real people.” – Abi

Finding an anchor for accountability in your business

Katie’s keen to learn more about how Abi pulls together a weekly 10-minute video. She’s sure there’s a super streamlined process in there somehow, but Abi’s quick to admit it’s not always as strategic as it could be.

For Abi, creating the video has really anchored her into her business. She feels she knows her own audience really well, so always has ideas on how best to connect with them through the Sea Change Cinema.

Abi keeps the videos informal – one of her followers described her videos as ‘sitting down for a cup of tea with someone who actually gives a shit about my business’ and that’s the feel Abi’s going for with her content. She knows how lonely it can be – just you and a laptop – and wants people to feel that being part of Sea Change is bigger than that.

Putting valuable content into the noise

Katie and Abi talk about the importance of creating valuable content for people at all points of their business journey.

For Katie it’s about being real – and recognisable – to give advice that’s useful to real, live humans. And Abi entirely agrees – it so helps to find a community or a resource that helps you feel connected.

Inspired by the Whin Big Podcast

Abi talked about how delighted she was when she discovered The Whin Big Podcast starting out. Before Covid hit, she was a freelancer – taking on projects and clients who needed her to write for them. When the pandemic took hold, she needed to catch up quickly on what it meant to be a fully online business – and The Whin Big Podcast was her go-to.

“The Whin Big Podcast was my go-to marketing tool. It felt like there was someone real at the other end of the mic who understood where I was and what was helpful for me. Once you find that it’s like a real treasure. You want to hold onto it for as long as possible.” – Abi

Abi’s best post online

Abi is not strategic with her marketing – she doesn’t focus on numbers and avoids the concept of chasing likes for no good reason. So ‘best post’ for Abi isn’t about going viral or being shared hundreds of times.

She talks of a post she shared on Instagram that was thoughtful. A black and white image of her at the dining table, wearing her favourite ‘Choose Love’ refugee t-shirt. The post was a reminder to people to think about the news that lockdown restrictions were changing.

She wanted her followers to be considerate and tolerant of people who the lockdowns had personally impacted. For Abi (who lost several loved ones over the past year) and so many others, 2020-2021 was about personal tragedy, significant loss and challenges that went way beyond missing being in the pub.

The reactions she received from that post changed her whole perspective on social media marketing – in much the same way, she helps shift her own clients’ perspectives with their launch focus.

“I’ve always described myself as a collector of excellent people. I might not be able to keep up with a smooth, strategic marketing plan but I can keep up with is real, purposeful conversations with people.” – Abi

What’s on Abi’s business bookshelf?

Feeling frustrated by the bigger (male) named business and self-development books being at the top of the reader charts, Abi set her resource page up on her website with loads of great resources, all written and produced by women.

*The 4 Tendencies – Gretchen Rubin

All about finding your way to dealing with expectations – internal & external so life is easier to negotiate.

*Playing Big – Tara Mohr

Helps you look at how you view your strengths and think about what success looks like to you, so you can adjust how you’re doing things.

*This Naked Mind – Annie Grace

The whole premise is to let you get into a conversation about your relationship with alcohol. Abi stopped drinking for two years and used that time to get set up in business and life. It opened up the whole notion of operating on auto-pilot, so this book helps you be more present in life.

Audiobook – The Beastie Boys Book

Furthest book you can ever imagine from self and business development. The audiobook is completely different from the book – with different narrators, cool voices and delivery and a total surprise from what you would expect.

Keep the conversation going with Abi

Abi’s website: Sea Change Creative Content

Join the Sailing (sic) List for Sea Change Cinema

Abi’s ‘What’s for LAUNCH?’ Facebook group  

Abi Sea on LinkedIn

Resources from this week’s Whin Big Podcast

The Whin Big Podcast episode 77 with Suse B Bentley

Abi Sea guest appearance on Gen X Women Podcast

Freelance Heroes 

Gretchen Rubin’s Happier Podcast

4 Tendencies online quiz

Tara Mohr Playing Big course

* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to support your local bookshop, and a small amount comes to The Whin. So the books won’t cost you any extra!

3 best times to ignore the marketing experts

3 best times to ignore the marketing experts

Fed up of marketing strategies and advice that don’t make any sense for your own business?

This week’s episode comes with a free mantra: YOU DO YOU! Katie talks us through filtering out the expert marketing advice that makes your life – and business goals – more complicated. This week’s theme is insightful and empowering and looks at the three times in your life you absolutely should ignore the experts and go your own way instead.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

There’s no shortage of marketing advice.

As a small business owner, one thing you can’t fail to notice is how packed the ‘marketing expert’ space is. Sometimes it’s beneficial, other times? Not so much. Katie wishes she had £1 for every time she stumbled on two pieces of marketing advice that completely contradict each other; she’d have enough for a pretty fantastic holiday saved up by now!

“Everyone needs different advice because everybody needs different advice, but the problems start when business owners are made to feel wrong, bad or stupid for opting out of a specific approach.”

This kind of pressure only leads to more confusion – so this week, Katie decided to untangle some of this for us. As always, she’s made it easy to follow by cutting it all down to three different scenarios where ignoring the expert advice is the smartest thing you can do.

Are you already meeting your business goals?

Everybody’s measure of success is different. One business owner will aspire to hire a team of people. Others set targets to reach a 6 or 7 figure annual income. Others want to streamline their week and only work three days.

If your ambitions are not so lofty, don’t feel like you have to take advice from those who DO seek out that kind of success.

Sometimes you end up in a position where that money-driven advice comes to you without you wanting (or needing) it. For example – when you sign up for free training on a topic you are interested in, the trainer suggests a strategy or approach that doesn’t suit your goals, personality or energy.

Katie’s always fair and includes her advice in ‘advice you can ignore if you don’t chime with the advice she shares on this podcast.

You do you – that is the overriding message of this episode!

“You don’t have to take every word from a training session as gospel, just because there were one or two useful nuggets of information.”

Does the marketing advice align with your own values?

There are so many grey areas when it comes to marketing your business. One man’s expert advice is another man’s sketchy nightmare, so it’s essential to work out what sits well with you and your values and what doesn’t.

For example, just think how divided people’s opinions are on using click-bait headlines for emails and blog posts. Or how different people feel about pop-up boxes on websites. Do you know the pop-ups that encourage you to sign up to a mailing list or access a discount code? Some people hate them and find them intrusive and annoying. Other people swear by them and wouldn’t dream of being without them.

If your gut feeling tells you that this advice doesn’t feel right with you – ignore it! Or maybe you’d find it valuable to have a conversation with the person who’s recommending this approach.

YOU DO YOU!

“So if a recommended strategy or approach is different from your usual style – sit with it and think about it. How does it make you feel? And how will it make your audience feel to be on the other side of it?”

Some marketing advice causes more problems than it solves

Sometimes it’s easy to recognise this before you even get round to trying it out. Often we hear advice that sounds brilliant at first but goes downhill when you give it a show.

This can be apparent with productivity or streamlining advice – it’s intended to make your life as a business owner easier (such as batch creating content and scheduling it throughout the month, or setting up Facebook ads) but in reality makes the process more of a headache and stress.

Of course, there are always lots of new tools and techniques to help you with these activities. Things like new scheduling tools, productivity calendars, automation etc. But this usually means having to learn new technology and strategies. Not to mention building And building extra time and energy (that you don’t have) to experiment and practice.

“It’s normal to find that some strategies don’t work for your business. Lots of business owners in my network don’t use scheduling tools, don’t run Facebook ads, and they get on just fine.”

The pitfalls of quick-wins and fast results

When you’re researching for ways to help you market your business, it’s easy to click on pages that offer real, actionable advice because it feels like it’s going to be the easy solution you’ve been looking for.

This kind of advice promises you measurable outcomes – 1000 new sign-ups to your mailing list or an easy to follow content calendar to grow your Instagram follower rates.

But the reality is that a blog post with the title:

‘This is hard and takes time, but here are a few ideas to help you.’

Would be much more helpful to you as you work out – through trial and error – the strategies and tools you need for your business. The title isn’t as snappy, but the results are probably more helpful.

When good-intentioned advice goes wrong

Often the action, ‘quick win’ advice we seek out ends up making us feel more stressed-out than ever. It lures us in with promises that are rarely delivered and convinces us that we don’t know what we’re doing or are crap at marketing.

You would not believe the number of people who come on this podcast as guests, who are convinced they’re doing marketing wrong – but they’re running successful businesses. How can they possibly be doing marketing wrong?!

It’s not you that’s the problem…it’s the advice.

Whenever you hear that little voice in your head saying, ‘I’m so bad at this, take a deep breath and reframe it. If you follow marketing advice that’s making you feel anxious or frustrated, then the reality is there’s something about the advice that isn’t right for you and your business.

Remember the mantra from this week’s episode:

YOU DO YOU!

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Pre-selling new ideas on Facebook and LinkedIn, with Alan Martin

Pre-selling new ideas on Facebook and LinkedIn, with Alan Martin

This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Alan Martin from Chat Marketing.

In this week’s episode, you’ll hear Katie and Alan talk about Facebook groups, LinkedIn, and Alan shares his tips on keeping on top of a hectic content calendar. As always, Katie grills her guests on their favourite business books, and there are plenty of resources featured from today’s episode at the end of the show notes.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Alan’s business journey

Alan is a social media coach, and he helps people make sense of the different platforms to reach their business goals.

Before going self-employed, Alan was a marketing manager for Dundee Science Centre, where he had hands-on experience growing the business through social media. He knew he wanted to help other people find the same marketing success using digital marketing rather than traditional activities.

Chat Marketing

Alan helps small to medium-sized businesses work out where their audience spends time on social media and then create marketing strategies that fit their existing sales pipelines.

“I believe that social media needs to drive business results for your customers, rather than being good at social media for the sake of it. It’s about being good at business because of social media, rather than the other way around.” – Alan

Alan’s preferred social platforms

If Alan had to pick just one social platform, it would be LinkedIn. For Alan, the biggest draw to LinkedIn is that there’s less pressure to post several times a day to be visible. You can be much more strategic, and it’s more predictable, which means he can coach clients in a more structured way.

He’s also found Facebook groups as a great way to build your audience and get better engagement.

Marketing strategies for Chat Marketing

Chat Marketing is ten years old. During that time, Alan’s offering has moved from standard social media coaching into lots of other niche areas, such as Facebook and Google advertising, content marketing and creating online courses.

With such a diverse range of services, it can be challenging for him to know which part of his business new followers are interested in – so Facebook Groups allows him to build niche communities to serve his audience better.

Email marketing

One of the main attractions of having two Facebook groups is being able to segment his audience. Despite having an extensive email list, Alan has steered away from email marketing over the last few years purely because he could not assess what subscribers were interested in. He’s since created two niche newsletters – one for LinkedIn and one for course creators, and he’s much happier and more active, now he’s segmented his list this way.

“I realised I wasn’t sending out as many emails as I should because I wasn’t clear on my audience. These were the growth areas I wanted to focus on with my business, and I’m much happier to create content and send it out now.” – Alan

Keeping on top of content planning

With two Facebook groups, two to three segmented email newsletters, a Linkedin and Twitter profile and blog articles to produce, Katie wants to know how Alan keeps on top of everything.

For Alan, it all comes down to planning. He runs two bootcamps a year, so he themes his content around what he’s promoting at any given time. This month he’s planning a LinkedIn Bootcamp, so all content fits around that – everything he produces, including blog posts, are on this one theme, so it works more cohesively.

Working with a VA

Alan gets support from a virtual colleague – Shay – who began working for him as a student intern and has moved into an essential part of the business. Katie also has experience working as a virtual assistant and is frequently asked by listeners how to set up and manage a working relationship with a VA.

Shay tends to focus on the additional content that comes with the boot camps Alan mentioned earlier. Among other more traditional VA tasks, Shay will:

  • Design graphics on Canva
  • Create landing and sales pages through ClickFunnels
  • Engage and support group members

Repurposing content for regular launches

Due to the repeated cycle of Alan’s Bootcamp, he works with Shay to repurpose content for each launch rather than starting the process from scratch. Often this means adjusting minor details like dates and links rather than writing brand new sales pages.

Katie agrees wholeheartedly and takes on a similar approach for her course launches.

“People are hesitant to reuse stuff because they worry their audience has already seen it. But when you go and talk to your community, they struggle to remember what you were talking about yesterday, so it’s not a problem at all.” – Katie

Best performing posts in Facebook Groups

Katie has little experience running a Facebook Group and was curious to learn more about what posts get the most traction for Alan in his groups.

He reminds us that his mission is to help business owners get better at business through social media – and not the other way round – so he regularly talks in his groups about this concept.

A year ago, when he was planning his workshops for the next six months – he posed a simple question to his Social Media Dojo group, asking them what workshops they would like to participate in. The responses gave him enough steer to create events and workshops that his audience genuinely wanted and needed.

Importance of validating your marketing ideas

Alan talks a lot about sense checking his plans and ideas with his audience. For him, seeking validation from his community forms a critical part of his business development strategy. If he has plans to run a workshop or course, he’ll find out from his followers first if it’s something they’re interested in.

“I made this mistake with my first online course. I chose the theme based on what I thought everybody wants, then created the course and recorded the videos and then didn’t sell very many spaces. Now I pre-sell places; that’s the best form of validation.” – Alan

Best piece of marketing advice

The best advice Alan’s had throughout his career is:

Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers” – which goes back to what Alan talked about around seeking validation before creating products and trying to sell them.

What’s on Alan’s business bookshelf?

Alan is a self-confessed book geek, so he found this question tough to answer!

*Building a Story Brand with Donald Miller

*Expert Secrets by Russel Brunson (part of a trilogy along with *Dotcom Secrets and *Traffic Secrets which Alan highly recommends).

*Business for Punks by James Watt – one of the co-founders of Brew Dog

He picked this book because the key message is to build a mission, not a business. Many businesses are just about profits, so the book talks about getting passionate about the category of business you’re in.

Keep the conversation going with Alan.

Chat Marketing website

Chat Marketing on Facebook

Chat Marketing on LinkedIn

* Links marked with a star are affiliate links to Bookshop.org. When you buy through these links, a small portion of the cost of the book goes to support your local bookshop, and a small amount comes to The Whin. So the books won’t cost you any extra!

More of your Instagram questions answered

More of your Instagram questions answered

Have you got questions about Instagram? Don’t worry – we’ve got the answers! Well, Katie does!

This week, Katie does a deep dive on YOUR Instagram questions. For episode 80 of The Whin Big Podcast, we’ve chosen three of the most asked listener questions to help you with your Instagram marketing strategy. We cover a range of Instagram topics, like dealing with spammer comments, how to share other people’s content with respect, and how to keep hold of your Instagram followers.

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Listener questions about Instagram – answered.

Katie loves hosting listener questions because new themes and topics always come up that she didn’t know were real-life conundrums.

Katie loves answering your questions full stop – so if you have anything at all you’d like to ask her about Instagram marketing, Instagram for business, or Instagram in general – send her a wee DM on Instagram. She’ll answer your questions straight away.

Better yet – if it’s a question that gets asked regularly, Katie will dedicate an episode of The Whin Big Podcast to answering it. Just like she has today.

Q1: John asks: How do you deal with annoying spam messages while remaining professional?

There’s no getting away from spammers on Instagram or anywhere else. Staying professional is tough when you’ve come to the end of your patience with yet another message offering you 10,000 followers.

Katie, the consummate professional, has not one but two approaches to help you deal with spam messages while maintaining a professional stance.

Spam response #1: Ignore & delete the spammers

Got a spam message that you don’t want to deal with? Ignore and delete is a great way just to wipe the slate clean and pretend it never happened. For some reason, Katie’s always being offered crypto-currency support from bots around the world. A swift ‘delete’ and all is back to normal.

Spam response #2: The polite spammer approach

Sometimes, spam comes in the shape of a slightly strange message. At first glance, it feels like spam, but at the same time, it could be someone who’s trying out sales tactics (badly), and it’s not a bot at all.

Ever had one of those?

Katie’s advice is to reply as politely as possible – as if it’s someone’s nana. Respectful, but awkward. If you’re fed up with comments along the lines of ‘hey – DM me, I have a question you might want to try commenting like this:

“Hi! My inbox is always open. If you have any questions, please do get in touch”.

A response like this is perfect because you keep a professional public face, respond to the possible spammer humanely, and show anyone who reads it that you’re always available – and most importantly, open – to the idea of people getting into your DMs and asking questions.

Q2: Calum asks: How do you convert the non-followers who like or see your post into followers?

Calum is frustrated because he gets a high percentage of engagement on his posts from non-followers, but his follower number doesn’t go up. He’s looking for tips on converting those non-followers into avid fans.

You might remember that Katie talked about Insights in this episode of The Whin Big Podcast. Katie reminds us that it’s essential to get your posts in front of non-followers to grow your audience.

So what’s going on if those non-followers don’t then go on to follow you? Katie says it boils down to two things:

Instagram hashtags

Your hashtags might not be appropriately targeted to your ideal customers, meaning the people who see your content don’t match your perfect audience profile, and you’re accidentally showing your content in the wrong places.

If hashtags are a puzzle for you, or you don’t know how to pick the right ones for your business – have a listen to the Whin Big Podcast episode 75 – how to choose good hashtags for your business. It’s a podcast that takes you on a deep dive on hashtag strategy, and episode 38, where we look at how to do hashtag strategy on Instagram.

Instagram content

Your content isn’t aligned with your ideal audience.

“Think about who you’re trying to speak to. And then create content around what they want to hear.”

When you think about the content you produce, can you see how it could be a series? Katie gives the example of having ‘Motivational Monday’ quotes. These could easily have the same style of post every Monday. It goes a long way to helping your community recognise your content and instantly connect with it.

Q2: Calum asks: How do you convert the non-followers who like or see your post into followers?

This topic has a LOT of grey areas. Sometimes it’s OK to share content from other accounts. Other times – not so much. Let’s dig a little deeper to find out more…

If you’re sharing someone’s content to your Stories by using the aeroplane symbol and sending it straight to your stories, then it’s absolutely fine.

It’s double-fine if you tag the account at the same time – that way, they’ll get a notification, which means they’ll see that you’ve shared it, and there’s no nasty surprises.

But what if I want to use someone else’s content in my own Instagram feed?

This is where it can get a little sketchy. If your account is mostly about curating and supporting other businesses – then it’s great to share someone else’s content. Katie had this experience when someone re-shared her post about a free webinar she hosted.

Katie was grateful – it was great to be included, but it was also free publicity for her free Instagram marketing webinar.

The flip side of sharing other people’s content…

If Katie discovered someone had used her own carefully designed Canva graphics to use to market their services and products – she would be (understandably) frustrated.

When you’re sharing, think about:

  • Could it look like you’re using someone else’s content for your gain?
  • Does it feel a little bit wrong? How would you feel if someone used your post like this for their purposes? If it doesn’t feel entirely correct – it’s probably not.
  • Are you worried the creator would say no if you asked permission to use it?

If you answer ‘yes’ to the above questions, then it’s probably not okay for you to go ahead and share the content. Katie recommends getting in touch with the person who created the content and starts a conversation on DM.

“Be mindful about how other people might feel to have their content reshared and make sure you’re respectful of the time and effort people put into creating it – even if they’re doing it for fun, not for business.”

Got Instagram questions of your own?

Katie LOVES answering listener (or reader) questions. If you have any of your own, then please do get in touch with Katie at The Whin on Instagram or by sending an email.

Can you do us a favour?

If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review. We’re always looking for ways to bring more people into the Whin Big Podcast family, so please share this episode with a business friend who would make great use of everything Katie shares.

Did you find this episode useful?

If you did, we’d love it if you could share it with a friend, leave a review or send us a DM to tell us your thoughts.

You can DM Katie over on Instagram.

Resources in episode 80 of The Whin Big Podcast

How to do hashtag research on Instagram

How to pick good hashtags on Instagram

“Your sales posts might not get the highest reach, the most comments and saves, but they’ll tell interested people – those who are excited to work with you – exactly how they can buy from you.”

Keeping organised with Canva

If you have a Pro subscription, they have a scheduling tool. While Katie acknowledges that it’s handy, she doesn’t feel that it’s essential because you can schedule your posts directly into Instagram Creator Studio. If you don’t know what Instagram Creator Studio is, don’t worry, we covered that in a previous episode! 

Designing and posting effortlessly

When it comes to keeping organised and sticking to a content plan, Katie finds the link between the mobile app and desktop handy.

She will design a more complex graphic using her desktop – something she finds easy with a large screen and a mouse – and then quickly edit from her phone to post when she needs to, wherever she is, or whatever she’s doing.

Think about:

  • What are the obstacles that stop you from getting great designs on Instagram?
  • What’s making Canva feel like a ‘hassle’?
  • What can you do to take the effort and faffing out of the process?

Did you find this episode useful?

If you did, we’d love it if you could share it with a friend, leave a review or send us a DM to tell us your thoughts.

You can DM Katie over on Instagram.

Resources in episode 78 of The Whin Big Podcast

Want to know more about Instagram Creator Studio? Episode 40 of The Whin Big Podcast gives you all the information you need to get started.

Want to get even more out of Canva? Meet Thea Newcomb, one of only 2 Canva trainers in Scotland and Katie’s guest on episode 55 of The Whin Big Podcast

Using instinct and intuition in business, with Jo Mathewson

Using instinct and intuition in business, with Jo Mathewson

This week on The Whin Big Podcast, Katie speaks with Jo Mathewson, owner of JoJo Co. Candles. Jo shares the story of how her business began by accident, and she’s grown it to support her whole family and a small team of staff.

In this week’s episode, you’ll learn first-hand that it is possible to run a business with humility and authenticity whilst avoiding strategic planning.

This is an inspiring and refreshing episode, so get ready to re-think your hobbies!

Today's episode is sponsored by the Instagram MOT. This 20-point checklist and free training are freshly updated, so get stuck in to find out if your profile is fit for purpose or needs some attention! Click on the big yellow button below to get started right away.

Turning a £40 fluke into a successful business

Jo runs a lovely candle business called JoJo Co. Candles, specialising in luxury soy candles and diffusers, all with beautiful scents. Despite her success, she still finds it strange to call it a business because it started in a very subtle way nearly five years ago.

Jo loves candles burning at home, and one day her husband bought a candle making kit as an activity they could try together. Let’s just say the activity didn’t go as planned – they had a difference of opinions through the making process, and Jo’s husband left her to get on with it herself.

It took 2 – 3 weeks of experimenting with the process and scent until Jo was happy with the results. From there, she was ready to make Christmas presents for her friends and family. The feedback was great, with many of her friends suggesting she could sell them.

“The feedback was amazing. I didn’t believe them at first – I thought they were just nice because they were my friends.” – Jo

Landing on the first signature scent

After mixing a few different scents, Jo landed on one that she loved and called it Pink Spice. Her friends asked for top-up candles because they loved them so much, but she didn’t think it was a business idea.

It wasn’t until other mums at the school gates asked her to make candles – because they’d smelled Pink Spice in different homes – that she realised people genuinely loved it and were happy to pay for it.

Finding the confidence to move forward

Jo’s come a long way since the candles in the playground days. She admits that being made redundant, and bringing up two young girls, played a part in her feeling out of touch with her confidence and by progressing slowly – and moving when it intuitively felt like the right thing to do – she’s built up her confidence to keep going.

“I didn’t know how much I needed this until I was about a year in. That’s when I started being the person I always wanted to be. I feel so lucky – this is my dream job…

“I’ve created the job that I always wanted to do. Having my own business and creating my journey was exactly what I needed, but I didn’t know that until it started to happen.” – Jo

Surrounding yourself with the right people when you’re under pressure

Managing the daily tasks, on top of special projects, marketing and raising her girls, has made Jo realise the importance of systems and processes. To help with this, Jo added two members of staff to the JoJo Co. family. Two friends had already given her so much support, encouragement and help in the early days of the business.

Recently, her husband has joined the team – an idea that was bubbling for around a year. Initially, they were nervous about putting the whole family’s well-being into just one business, but it felt like a natural progression in the end. The team works well together and has provided Jo with structure and support to concentrate on growing the business.

Adding to her core team, Jo outsources specific tasks to other people. She realised early on where her weak (or simply uninterested) spots are and has found other people to support her in these areas.

“Everyone that works with JoJo Co is connected to me in some way. It’s really important to me that we click. I wouldn’t just go looking for someone on the internet; it just wouldn’t work for JoJo Co.” – Jo

JoJo Co. and the global pandemic

Katie asked what impact the global pandemic had on JoJo Co. Fortunately for Jo, as an online business, she could trade as usual throughout the worst of the lockdowns and restrictions.

As we all know, very few people have come through this challenging time without being affected by the pandemic, and Jo took on a considerable amount of emotional weight through this time.

The messages on her hand-written tags became more heartfelt and emotional as the weeks and months went on, as an online business, and suddenly JoJo Co. took on a whole new meaning.

Kindness Candles

After writing hundreds of beautiful messages on gift tags, Jo felt inspired to create a unique charity candle. Kindness Candles came with special messages on the jars like ‘Miss You’ and ‘Hope’, and the money from the candles raised funds for Cash 4 Kids, a charity that supports disadvantaged families.

“Kindness Candles was incredibly emotional. I felt like I was providing a way for people to show their love and support. Sending these incredible messages worldwide and raising money made me feel like I was doing something really important. It helped me get through the pandemic.” – Jo

Jo’s (very reluctant) Marketing Strategy

Jo had mentioned she was determined not to have a website and had never used social media before starting JoJo Co., so Katie was keen to dig into this a little more (now that she has both).

When the business started to take shape, her brother suggested she started using Instagram because of the platform’s visual nature. After a whirlwind introduction to it, she began to use it. Her confidence grew, and she knew she felt ready to add Facebook into the mix.

Instagram is her main platform – she loves the visual side of it and feels it aligns more with her personality and intuition.

Jo posts every day and learns the different tools as she goes along.

Jo’s ‘don’t overthink it’ Instagram strategy

Jo posted images of candles being made in the kitchen in the early days because that’s where she worked. Looking back, she realises she started off in a basic way – but it reflected her journey. It progressed as her business evolved. One post she remembers clearly was a picture at her first-ever market.

It was the first photo of her, so she was very nervous about it – but it got lots of great engagement and the turning point for realising people wanted to see pictures of her, and more about behind the scenes.

Finding outside support for tasks you don’t enjoy

Jo was convinced she would never need a website to sell her products. For her, selling directly from Instagram and Facebook felt enough, but without an e-commerce system, she was manually handling the sales – adding to the daily tasks.

When she decided to look into her website, she was recommended a local contact—someone who knew how to create a beautiful and simple site. Intuitively, Jo knew she was the right person to work with because she avoided any technical jargon (something Jo doesn’t enjoy) and focussed entirely on Jo’s need for the look and feel of the site to be beautiful and emotive.

Her web designer kept all technical tasks as simple as possible, so Jo didn’t need to be involved. She’d never been interested in technology and IT, and it stressed her out whenever she had to deal with it, and by outsourcing it, she recognised how easy it could be to keep the stress away by finding other people to do it for you.

Now, the idea of outsourcing areas that don’t interest Jo is vitally important.

“My web designer looked after all the stuff I don’t love. I kept the enjoyment part by shaping how the site looked and making sure it felt as luxurious as it needed to be. Now I advise everyone to get someone to look after the stuff you don’t enjoy doing because, well, why do it to yourself if you don’t enjoy it?” – Jo

Email marketing strategy

Katie and Jo have a contact in common (Katie’s copywriter Abi Sea). Abi helps Jo with website writing and marketing and worked with her to set up her email system and email marketing strategy.

Fans of JoJo Co. products can sign up to become a JoJo Co. VIP to receive special treatment. Emails usually contain VIP only discounts on candles, sneak peeks of new scents or special shopping events.

The importance of keeping it fresh and exciting

Jo mentions the need to keep things fresh and moving in the business. She doesn’t like to feel stale, and knows her customers love hearing about new fragrances and products.

To help her business flow, Jo releases regular seasonal scents; the latest one – Sundown – has been out for a few weeks. However, Jo is close to announcing a new fragrance for late summer to help those who have missed the warm scents of the summer beach holidays. You heard it here first!

Keep the conversation going with Jo

JoJo Co. website 

Become a JoJo Co. VIP

JoJo Co. on Instagram

JoJo Co. on Facebook

Jo’s blog (The Chat)

Resources mentioned in this week’s Whin Big Podcast:

Jo’s web designer: Karen Small (email here)

Abi Sea, Jo (and Katie’s) copywriter & marketing support

Totally Locally & Fiver Fest 

Stockbridge Market, Edinburgh