If you run a business, any business, you know the importance of social media marketing. If you don’t, then it’s probably a good time to learn more about it.
That’s why I’m so excited to speak with Andréa Jones. Andréa is a social media strategist who works with busy entrepreneurs to help them develop and implement social media solutions.
She’s the creator of Savvy Social School, an interactive online learning platform where students have access to a variety of tools, education and a community dedicated to helping them become proficient with their social media marketing techniques.
In this month’s episode of “Study the Solopreneur,” Andréa will talk about how she decided to leave her corporate job and start her journey as a solopreneur. She’ll also tell us how her business has evolved over time, how she handled challenges along the way and what advice she’d give to any of you who’ve either begun your journey as a solopreneur (or are thinking about it).
I am taking snippets of the full interview and sharing them here. The entire discussion is in the video below – which you have the freedom to either watch or listen to.
So without further ado, meet Andréa!
Study the Solopreneur – Savvy Social Media Marketing with Andréa Jones
D – So you started in the corporate sector and now you are a successful solopreneur. How did you get started, what made you leave your job?
A – I used to work for Marriot Corporate in Atlanta. I was a manager of one of the spas there. It was a job, a way to pay the bills. I didn’t particularly care for it, but I was there for about a year and a half. While I was there I met my husband (Author Brent Jones), who lived in Toronto, Canada at the time. We dated long distance for a while and when we decided we wanted to be together, I was very happy to leave that job.
He had a very nice job in a start-up company with more flexibility, higher pay – that sort of thing. So when it came down to making that decision, I volunteered to leave my job and move to Canada. For me, it was an easy decision because I didn’t really care for it (my job). I wouldn’t say I was unhappy. It was OK.I knew wanted to do something different. I had no idea what that would be - @onlinedrea #careerchange #solopreneur #socialmediamarketingClick To Tweet
But it wasn’t a hard decision being that I wasn’t in love with what I was doing.
D – How did you progress from corporate to freelancing?
A – Well, I did look at corporate when I moved here and it was actually a challenge as far as the legal side of being able to work in another country. I initially had to get a position to sponsor me. Here in Canada, you have to prove that other Canadians were qualified for the job and I wasn’t high up enough for anyone to vouch for me in that sort of way.
So I had the opportunity to start freelancing. It was actually my husband’s idea. I have a degree in English Literature, so I thought I could do some writing. That seemed like a natural progression into what I could do.
I signed up for a bunch of different sites and started doing a lot of things – basically anything anyone needed help with. It transformed into something of a virtual assistant role where I was helping entrepreneurs with some of the technical aspects of business building.
Outside of the corporate life I had been a content creator since 2007, making YouTube videos primarily, but also blogging and that sort of thing. Basically, I knew how to do a lot of things that other people didn’t, such as:
- Uploading videos to YouTube
- Writing blog posts and uploading them to WordPress
- Creating social media posts
I liked doing all of these things, but I really liked social media in particular. Back at my corporate job, they asked us what we saw ourselves doing in 5 years and I said: “I want to work in social media.”
This was in 2012-2013 and it wasn’t in the realm of the corporate world yet, so they said: “that’s not a job, pick something else.”
But here, I’d started doing a lot of things online – things they’d previously said were impossible or didn’t exist.
D – So you started out as a VA – how have things evolved since then?
A – I started off doing a lot of services as a VA, but what I found was that it was hard to get repeatable business. People would hire me for one thing and then they wouldn’t need me anymore. What I found with social media is that it’s ongoing. I can charge clients on a weekly or monthly basis and have some consistency to what I’m doing – which is always a challenge when you’re freelancing.
That was one of the appealing things about social media.
The second thing is that I like it.
I love being on social media and as I said, I’ve been online since 2007 as a content creator – mostly on Youtube but also on Instagram and Facebook doing all of these things that I just liked doing.
For me, as a freelancer working with clients, it was an easy decision because I already liked doing this – and having that repeatable invoicing feature available made that decision a lot easier.
So it has evolved from being a general VA doing everything to really honing in on social media marketing and even more specifically – businesses who really want to leverage the power of social media to build their awareness online and get more clients using all of these fantastic tools that are available out there.
D – What challenges and obstacles have you encountered along the way and how do you handle them?
A – The first biggest obstacle was that I wanted to take time off. However, since this repeatable billing system that I created for myself is 24/7, I found that to be very challenging. That was my first adventure into hiring help.
So I hired a team member. That was probably the biggest obstacle to understanding how to work with someone in a virtual sense. For instance, we’re not in an office together (different areas) so I needed to figure out how we’d collaborate. But that process forced me to create systems for what I was doing. I now had to show someone else what was previously in my head insofar as how I was doing things.
That was one of the things that helped me understand my natural interest and affinity for this thing that I loved doing and turn it into a business.
(Andréa goes into further detail about how she built her team in the video).
5 – What inspired you to create Savvy Social School? What does it consist of and how does it help people?
A – I’ve been doing social media marketing for 5 years now. Clients will come to me to do the work and I’ll teach my team how to do this as well. When we’d come across challenges, I’d type them into Google and either there weren’t any solutions or they were outdated.
For instance, something from 2009 won’t work in 2019 since social media has grown so much since then. So I decided to create answers for some of these issues we had to discover for ourselves internally.
That’s really where The Savvy Social School came from. I saw the need and the market. There wasn’t anything like this out there when I first started making the training materials, so I just dove in and started creating this.
The funny thing is the demographic of those who are interested in the Savvy Social School is different from my private clients.
Clients typically don’t like social media and they just want someone else to do it. But my students and members in the school are usually either solopreneurs or they just want to learn to leverage social media in a smarter way.
They want to use the tools more effectively, which I find very interesting from the school aspect since I get to geek out about social media a little bit more with the members than with my private clients.
The school is a membership community for people to learn how to get more:
- social media followers
- engagements on their posts
- likes and comments
And to find their potential clients and customers using social media marketing.
D – What are some of the most common issues people struggle with when it comes to using social media for marketing (and in general)?
A – One of the biggest issues is how much of a time suck it can be. We can spend a lot of time on social media and if we don’t see anything from it, it can be a little disheartening. It’s a really common struggle with a lot of business owners since we have businesses to run.
We only have a finite amount of time to work on these things. But one of the things I’ve been tuning into lately is how we can spend less time on social media but still be effective.
So one of the topics I talk about in the school is how to create a system for this content so you don’t have to start from scratch every time you sit down to write a post for social media. That’s a really common struggle that we talk about in the school.
D – What does the school have to offer?
A – One of the things that sets the school apart is that you’re not just thrown in and expected to try to figure things out on your own. Since social media is so nuanced, I want to be there to guide you (ex – here’s what you should do first, etc.).
One of the very first things I offer and suggest when students join the school is to hop on a call with me so we can talk about it. It’s a short phone call, but it can be so powerful to make sure you’re going in the right direction and not wasting time trying to figure things out.
The core product of the school is a training library that has courses that teach specific platforms like Instagram and LinkedIn – and also teaches strategies like how to:
- create images
- write captions
- create sales funnels
All of the things that go into how to create a marketing strategy using social media.
One of the favorites for the members are the “done for you” posts because I wanted to include something quick. So if you’re just joining today but you don’t have time to go through a course right now, I have something where you just download a post, publish it and be on your way.
We also have a members community, and I host monthly office hours where people can ask questions where I can coach them live on the call. There are plenty of other bonuses as well.
It’s a community of people helping people use social media wisely.
D – So in addition to the school, you have a podcast series where you cover various topics related to social media marketing. What would you say are some common fears that people face when they think of podcasting? How has it helped you in getting your message out there?
A – I LOVE podcasting, but I sat on the idea for a year before I got started. There is some nervousness when it comes to creating this type of content.
For me, I listened to a lot of podcasts on my own and that’s a really good place to start. I also found resources online that could help me – one of them being a course from Pat Flynn, known online as “The Passive Income Guru.” He has a series on podcasting. I went through his free 3-part video series and that was very informative for getting started – especially with the technical things like:
- How to get your podcast on Itunes
- What’s the best way to hold your podcast (interview people, solo, have a co-host)
Another resource that helped me was the “Conference Podcast Movement.” I did their 30-day challenge – which I think is ongoing.
Overall, just being around people who talk about podcasting can be really helpful.
If you’re stuck on getting your message out there, it helps to do a brainstorming session. For example, sit for 30 minutes, uninterrupted, and just start writing. Write down everything you can think of to talk about and see if you notice some patterns.
D – What advice would you give to someone either just starting out as a solopreneur or thinking about it?
A – I like this question because sometimes we get stuck. We get caught up in our heads too much. I know I do – and it stops us from getting started.
So my best piece of advice is to just do it. Just start somewhere. Even if it’s starting small.If you're thinking of offering services or creating content online, find somewhere where you can start small or help one person. Things will snowball from there - @onlinedrea #careerchange #beyourownbossClick To Tweet
D – Andréa, where can people find you?
A – I talked a lot about the school, but I have a free course which is a little taste of what the school is like. (note – I took her course and loved it).
You can get that course by going to onlinedrea.com/free
But if you want to connect with me on social media, I’m everywhere @onlinedrea – and I’m always happy to chat.
Wrapping it Up
I hope you enjoyed meeting Andréa. I love her story and I find her journey inspiring.
You may not know what direction you want to go in, or perhaps you have an idea but you’re not sure how to get started.
Either way, it’s important that you start something. Like Andréa, you’ll likely evolve along the way – and that’s perfectly normal (and healthy). You just need to know that it’s possible to become a successful solopreneur. This is why I decided to start this series. To give you hope that you can do it too.
I’ll be back with another episode of Study the Solopreneur next month. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your thoughts about what you heard today.
Feel free to check out the Savvy Social School. I know Andréa is happy to answer your questions.
Until next time, take care.
~ Featured image created by Cori Ramos
** Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links of products or services that I use and recommend. If you choose to try a product through any of these links, it helps to support this website at no cost to you. **