“I had just taken a 10-year break from social media. Because I’d look at it, see girls I went to high school with who had gone on diets and then feel badly about myself. But if you want to publish a book, you need a social media presence,” said Emma Jean, Author, Advocate and Serial Entrepreneur.
We know the downside. Social media can feel like a productivity-eating-time-sink. And trigger all sorts of negative feelings and comparisons. But if you want to upgrade your career, network or business prospects, it’s one of few venues to share the stage with other thought leaders. So, figuring out how it can work for you, is important.
Emma became so disillusioned in her ‘dream job’ that she left mental health for corporate life. And then, built her business on the side. When she realized she had to market her work, in a competitive field, she quickly became social marketing savvy. And grew her audience, network and empire.
Start with Your North Star
When Emma was a counselor, the school she worked for failed to provide trauma-informed support to vulnerable kids. She felt helpless in a system that caused harm. “If you’re the kind of person that spots trauma, you start to see it everywhere. If we can reach kids before they’re traumatized, imagine what they can use their talents for. I saw kids in need and my voice didn’t matter.”
But she’s discovered a new way to have impact. And uses social media to amplify her message. “Now, I’m not going to stop until I have a voice that people can actually hear.” Emma said. “I have one goal in life, I want to reach children with my books. So, I’ve followed every internet rabbit hole through to the end, to figure out how to make that happen.”
And Choose What You Really Want
Emma said, “The first thing I wanted to be was a writer. But saying you want to be an author is like saying you want to be an actor. The reaction was like, ‘great idea, so what are you really going to be?’ I faced enough of that to decide that I could write on the side. But have a career somewhere else.”
And in high school, she was drawn to mission driven work before pursuing her counseling degree. “I wanted to give back and try to make the world a better place. And when it blew up in my face, I was like, now I’m going to do what I wanted to do all along.” Although it meant learning a new career, she wasn’t daunted.
Plan for Your Financial Needs
“When two of my books were on the best sellers list, I was still working. I did not make the full shift to entrepreneurship until I had saved enough money.” In the era of social-media-stardom, it can seem deceptively easy to find success. But online popularity isn’t a business plan.
Emma loves the creative work yet is thoughtful about the sales side of her businesses. As a single Mom with two young kids, it had to be financially viable. “Writing is now the reward. Because I’m going to work day and night, to develop the platforms I need to actually make a life as a writer. That’s what drives me.”
Build Your Growth Engine
Although she was a clinician without business experience, she found a path to advance. Building your flywheel, a term coined by Jim Collins in Good to Great, means creating systems that work in concert to fuel growth. Emma explained how she did it, “I use the magazine to grow my presence, connect with more people and to promote my books. The Academy, links me with a strong group of a authors, and I promote myself and those authors, in the magazine. And with the Academy, we can give books to people.”
Emma’s intentional about featuring diverse, strong characters who work in STEM fields. And she’s passionate about making tech, the field shaping our lives and communications, accessible to kids.
Follow the Data and Prioritize
“I’m not going to lie, social media can take over your whole day! Know that ahead of time and that it’s a numbers game. So, if I try a new formula and it takes off really well, I might do nothing but follow that formula for a week. Because the numbers told me that’s where my attention should be, and I have learned to trust that.”
She’s disciplined about testing different messages, formats and headlines for her posts. And working in intentional bursts, based on the data or seasonality. “It’s the same thing with my books. Right before Christmas I was at live events every weekend.” Maintaining this structure, helps reduce pressure to divide her focus.
Curate Your Feed
Emma is selective about what she takes in, “The best advice I can give is to curate your feed. Because my feed is intentional. For 10 years I would receive random stuff. But I only care about positive posts that build people up. If you want to change your mindset, absorb every positive thing that people are putting out there. As opposed to the really toxic stuff, that people also put out there.”
Amen! Whatever your ambitions are, the right mindset helps you achieve the new goals. She added, “That is a game changer for your entire life psychology.”
Find Your Cheerleaders
“I feel like most people spend their lives as the little guy reaching out to the big guys. Whether it’s their boss or the CEO of a huge company. But in the entrepreneurial world, you’re always amongst your peers,” Emma explained.
Whether you’re seeking a better job, lifestyle, or outlook, widening your circle of support helps. “And when you’re just starting out, the only people that are going to work with you, are the other people that have 30 followers. And are just starting out. As you grow some of them are going to grow with you.”
She said, “It’s been amazing to be able to work with so many women because you think of this space as a male space. Except the little secret is, that every woman here is so thrilled to help any other woman that shows up. And that’s the magic.”
And Revel in Your New Flexibility
Emma said, “If you want to start a company, the amount of sacrifice for the first few years is huge. You have to keep your full-time job and then work another full-time job and raise your kids. It’s hard and it’s scary and again, it’s about keeping that faith. I am doing this because of what I see in the future and not because of what I’m living right now.” Exactly.
Smart use of social media has earned her the time-choice she loves. “It’s the lifestyle and freedom of being able to spend the whole day with my kids. Or be a full-time Mom for five days and then work for 40 hours straight, three days in a row. That’s a better way to work for me now.”
How do you want to work? Traditional work hasn’t worked for most Mothers. So, we need different strategies to succeed. Running your own business isn’t the only way to improve your professional options. When you grow visibility for your gifts and brilliant ideas. New possibilities will open for you.
Many thanks to the talented Emma Jean!
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Emma Jean is a best selling children’s Author by day. And women in STEM Advocate by night.
She’s the founder of the I’m An Author Academy at www.imanauthor.com and the feminist magazine SHE at www.shethemagazine.com. Her award-winning children’s books, Prince Liam and the Mokiki, Charles McCheese & the Childhood News Network and Sleeping Beauty & the Cursed Code.