What a difference a year makes.
I tell small business owners all the time, the content you create TODAY, you’ll thank yourself a YEAR from now. Content marketing — and, let’s be honest, marketing in general, is a long game.
A year ago, I made a commitment to myself to do a weekly live video show. I didn’t sit down and create a content calendar or a video strategy. To be honest, I had both of those things on my To Do for months, feeding my inner procrasti-demon. But when I finally put my own feet to the fire and did the damn thing, I ended up creating a weekly video show with neither a content calendar nor a clear strategy. Turns out, I didn’t need ’em. I just needed a commitment to myself and a little public accountability.
I declared Wednesdays at 11 AM central as showtime. And then I just started showing up, week after week. In the beginning, I planned my topics the night before the show and spent about 20-30 minutes researching before hitting the red button. And yes, sometimes they were the 20-30 minutes right before I went live. I dressed for the camera from the waist up and I winged it.
I didn’t worry about having a name for my show, beautifully branded marketing materials, high-end equipment, or even viewers themselves. The most important thing to me was walking my talk for my clients, who often struggle with creating content on a regular basis, and simply showing up and honoring the commitment I had made to myself. So I kept showing up, week after week, no matter how I felt about it.
And, to be real with you, most of the time I woke up on show day with a feeling of dread and anxiety.
Me, every time I hit that big red button
It was always a mad dash to be “ready enough” for the red button, to feel equipped to teach on a topic and not look a fool. Plus, I simply didn’t have hours every week to agonize over my show content. I was running my biz, doing work for and with clients, juggling my team. Content creation was an extra To Do without an immediate payoff (long game, remember?) so I had to make the most of the “budget” I had — both in terms of actual cash flow, as well as my limited time and energy. Mad dash was all I could afford. But I did it, anyway.
“Progress over perfection,” I whispered to myself.
And not only to myself. When one viewer blasted me for my awful sound quality, I answered with as much grace as I could muster in my embarrassment and a #progressnotperfection hashtag at the end.
But progress I did. My disgruntled viewer, whose public lack of gruntle I am now grateful for, pushed me to get a lapel mic. (And I then swiftly upgraded to a Yeti as a gift to myself before Facebook Live: The Musical.) I started planning content a few weeks in advance, so I could promote each episode and increase viewership. (Though, admittedly, the mad dash ’til go live was pretty much always my reality.) I added captions to each show, making it more likely that viewers would pause long enough to eventually turn their sound on and give me a shot. And I finally gave the damn thing a name, Awkward Marketing, because that’s what the show was, after all. (And that’s what marketing feels like to so many small business owners I know and work with — awkward, uncomfortable, sometimes awful — but we have to do it, anyway.) I had purchased AwkwardMarketing.com years before and didn’t quite know what to do with it. Little did I know that purchase, like content creation, was a gift to my future self.
When Facebook Live: The Musical happened, something shifted. The dread and anxiety I felt before each show slowly started to melt away as I felt into my video voice and found my sweet spot. (I imagine this is how people feel about long-distance running? Like, one day, it just stops sucking so hard and becomes invigorating? Tell me in the comments and I’ll take your word for it because the only place I’m running is to catch a flight somewhere people don’t run for fun.)
Facebook Live: The Musical
For small business owners like myself, with limited time, energy, and resources, I’m a huge advocate of layering your marketing.
Instead of doing all the things at once, just start with one simple thing, master it, and then layer on the next.
Before you know it, a full-on marketing system emerges, instead of a half-assed, burnt out, crumble in the oven, Pinterest fail of a marketing disaster (which is what it looks like when you try to do a creative agency’s job with a solopreneur’s resources).
I approached Awkward Marketing in layers, as well. Each week I added a new layer of complexity and/or production value. Sometimes it was simple things like ordering a lapel mic off Amazon or promoting the show differently on Instagram. Sometimes I gave myself a big push, like writing and performing a live marketing musical or doing an entire show in character as my mom.
Week by week, layer by layer, I turned my little ol’ live video show into the Awkward Marketing you know and love today. And today is my one year anniversary! Check out my first episode compared to my latest episode. Damnnnnn, girl. Look at you go. The difference is truly night and day. I’m all sorts of proud and yes, all sorts of grateful to myself for walking my talk.
The content I created one year ago, I am indeed thanking myself for today. Baby RKA, with all your anxiety and dread, I could not have done it without you.
Happy 1 Year Anniversary, Awkward Marketing!
What a difference a year makes. Awkward Marketing looks nothing like its humble beginnings. But it wouldn’t exist if not for them. Yes, I cringe when I look at those first episodes. Hell, I cringe at the episodes I made in December. Progress not perfection, people. It’s still my mantra. Because if I had waited until I had the perfect content calendar, the perfect strategy, the perfect production tools, the perfect concept, I’d still be feeding the procrasti-demon and I’d have nothing to show for it. I showed up, week after week, heart full of dread and anxiety as a gift to my future self. Today, I open that gift and it’s better than I could have ever imagined.
I did this for you, too, small biz owner, with your full schedule, tight budget, and pounding heart.
To show you that you don’t need to have it all figured out first. You don’t need a content calendar or a full-on strategy. You don’t need to do all the things. You can be awkward as hell and still make magic happen. All you need is a commitment to yourself and a little public accountability.
Mine was a weekly video show, what will yours be? Remember, whatever the procrasti-demon is telling you about why you can’t do it yet, is wrong.
Start today. Start awkwardly. Just start. Then layer on the next step. Your future self is already thanking you.
P.S. Here are a few of our favorite moments from the first year of Awkward Marketing. What was yours?