Editor’s Note: Because Abby was so exhausted, I was tempted to hold off on this post until she had a chance to re-edit it to fit her original vision. But honestly, the original idea was considerably more statistics based. I like this one more; weighty with fatigue but infused with indomitable spirit. Don’t you?
This month has been something else. In the last four weeks I:
- Launched a brand new website in a month; the reception has been fantastic.
- Retired a whole group of designs (products) and adjusted prices across the board.
- Created several new product/design lines.
- Continued to grow inventory for local shows.
- Continued to DO the local shows, and committed to more, for the next year.
- Spent one day a week at the hospital with my fiance, for a month of weekly chemo treatments.
- Continued to tweak and refine social media presence and strategy, including working out an effective Facebook Page strategy that doubled engagement and reach.
- My laptop screen died – which reduces my ability to work at the hospital.
- Raised the first month’s rent and deposit for a house via jewelry sales and magic — 3k — in under 3 weeks. This enables us to move out of the apartment we’ve been in, gaining dedicated work space for the business.
I am exhausted.
I’m a hair from burnt out. I desperately need to spend more time creating designs and making items. We are broke. I had to put materials for the business on a credit card or we couldn’t feed the kids this month; however, if we don’t have materials, we can’t feed them next month. We move in two and a half weeks, and I’ve got to find a way to run the business, put on a good face for shows, and do it all out of a suitcase with the rest of my life in boxes. (We’re moving ourselves.)
Working Within Constraints When It All Seems So Unfair
I was supposed to write about how I doubled Facebook engagement to my business page— how things have improved because of a few simple tweaks.
The problem with that?
I’m working inside a system that to many, seems unfair. Or a system that has been changed so drastically from what we all signed on for, that it now seems like many other systems – ones that favor people with money, and lots of it. For me, and for the sake of others who are in the same situation I am – where there is far more month than there is money, where you feel that can’t get ahead without the resources you don’t have – I’d love to be able to tell you there is a way to level the playing field and take money out of the equation.
I’d love to report back that I found a way to go from being the underdog, to the heroic no-longer-an-underdog; that I found a way to overcome being broke with simply being awesome. To be able to say that I’ve found a way to defeat the system that favors the rich, the well off; that I’ve found a way to break out of the poverty cycle, or just the Always Broke and Getting More Broke cycle.
Playing The Hand You’re Dealt When You Must
But the truth is, I am, right now, playing by their rules because it works. I am playing by their rules because, like you, I’m fighting in too many other areas to just stay afloat, and I don’t have the energy to try and game that system. So I’m working with it, as best I can, using the mechanics that often feel as if they are working against me to climb the ranks so I can pull myself out of the Always Broke cycle.
Note: Some people call it an investment; right now, for me in the thick of it all, it feels like a calculated action born from overwhelming desperation.
It’s a LOT of work. However, I figure that if I pay attention to the results, the work will be worth it. This is a very general overview of how I’m going about it, written out at Shanna’s request. This isn’t a how to, this doesn’t guarantee anyone results – it’s just what is working pretty well for me. Your mileage WILL vary.
- I’ve budgeted a tiny bit each day for page advertising with tediously narrowed down target demographics. When I say tiny – right now, it’s $3 a day, every day. Yes, that’s $90 a month to the Blue Headed Spawn of Satan. Yes, that is a week of groceries for the five people this business helps care for. (Myself, Steve, and my three kids.) Yes, some part of me is a little bitter that the so-called System still requires what feels like blood-tribute.
- Since I’m giving tribute to the Blue Overlord, I make sure I make the most of it, on the human level. I make a concerted effort to post regular content that people find interesting. I post a mix of content that doesn’t require that they leave Facebook to consume, and I post some that takes them off of Facebook. Facebook likes the former, and is more likely to show it to people. The more people who interact with it, the more likely they are to see all the OTHER content I post. It snowballs.
- To help encourage people to interact with me, I post content that gives personality to my brand, my page. I’m willing to be a bit vulnerable in what I share, because… well, vulnerable is relatable, to a certain limit. This has the HUGE bonus of helping me very slowly establish myself as a trustable person/brand with the new people the advertising brings to the page.
- I spend time there, talking with people, getting to know people, beyond if they are simply a prospect; to gank a Seth Godin concept, I’m working fully within a Connection Economy paradigm. So, I spend the time there, talking with people, validating their choice of investing their time by engaging with my page. I don’t have an hour count – it’s something I do when I need a mental break from other work, or when standing in line somewhere.
- Bonus: I don’t double post content – it’s either posted on my page or my profile. I’ll reshare, but original credit goes to one or the other. Facebook seems to penalize content that has been posted originally twice, in my experience. Often, I don’t even bother resharing business page content to my personal profile, even if it would boost the audience/views. This actually started because people who were my “Friends” of my personal Profile (versus “Fans” of my page) were Hiding All content from my Page when I’d share it to my profile. Each time that happened, Facebook throttled back the number of people who saw the original post, and because Facebook doesn’t tell you WHO does it, I can’t make sure they never see that content again. Translation: Sharing with my friends and family screwed me over more often that it helped me. You know, as if I needed more proof that reaching beyond friends and family was necessary. 😉
Summary: I am building relationships on the platform, and I am paying Facebook to help me find people who I think would be interested in also building that relationship with me.
Over 600 new faces on the page in a matter of a month. Facebook says I have doubled my engagement as measured by likes, comments, and shares. Three times as many people SEE each post, as compared to before.
What about sales?
They’ve gone up too. I imagine as I build relationships and deepen trust with the new people who have thrown their Like-support behind my page, they’ll grow faster, too.
And yeah, guys, I know. Most people hate Facebook. It is the Evil Overlord of a castle that has established a system that works best for his well-endowed buddies.
But, guys, sometimes the hero has to spend some time working in the kitchens before they are ready to take on the world and break all the rules. There is no shame in playing by the rules when it suits your end goals. It can definitely suck, and it can take a bite out of your entrepreneurial ego, but I am choosing to look at it as the months of Kitchen work to establish an alibi, trust, and required accepted-local facade before our hero initiates the coup and shows how awesome they really are. (When you’re exhausted, these little stories seem to help. I’m betting you have your own archetype-filled ones too.)