Episode #32: Listener Q&A

DRIVEN: A podcast for modern entrepreneurs. Listener Q&A

In today’s episode, we’re closing out our mini series on content creation. Today, we’re answering YOUR questions which you submitted through @thedrivenpodcast on Instagram about content creation, then we’ll finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.


Diane Sanfilippo: It’s important to be your own person and share your own insights, but I think it’s crazy to just try and be yourself without ever recognizing that it’s important and valid and ok to say; hey, credit to this person for this idea or for reminding me of this, or inspiring me to share it again. Or whatever it is. I’m just really big on crediting. I don’t think it happens enough out there.

Welcome to Driven; a show about business, life, and wellness from two confident, curious women who are pulling back the curtain on what it’s like being an entrepreneur. Each week, join hosts Diane Sanfilippo and Cassy Joy Garcia talk about being your best, showing up for your dreams, and kicking self-doubt to the curb.

Diane is a business whisperer, best-selling author, and plant-hobbyist based in San Francisco. Cassy Joy is the founder of www.FedandFit.com, best-selling author, and casserole enthusiast. She calls San Antonio, Texas, home.

Cassy Joy: In today’s episode, we’re closing out our miniseries on content creation. Today we’re answering your questions, which you submitted @TheDrivenPodcast on Instagram about content creation. And then we’re going to finish the show with a weekly actionable tip.

Topics:

  1. What’s on my plate [1:24]
  2. Shop Talk: Content creation in a slump [15:43]
  3. Inspiration without copying content [25:26]
  4. Writing: scheduled versus inspired [33:47]
  5. Branding content [39:54]
  6. Choosing the form of the content [48:19]
  7. Chunking content [53:10]
  8. Tip of The Week: Posting schedule [55:21]

1.  What’s on my plate [1:24]

Diane Sanfilippo: What’s on My Plate. In this segment, we talk about what’s happening in our businesses, and in our lives for the week. Cassy, what’s on your plate this week?

Cassy Joy: Well, I had a hard time sleeping last night. because, I was driving home, and I thought; we’re just chugging along in this book work. You know the phase; have you ever heard the phase of a project, it’s like hiking through a canyon. At the beginning of it, you’re one side of the canyon and you can clearly see the other side where the trail ends. But the middle part is the down, and the climb. The real work, and you have a hard time seeing where you started and where you’re going?

Well, we’ve just been chugging along. And I’m a Manifesting Generator; I like the work. I like both stages. I like to manifest the journey, and I like to work. And now I feel like with this book, book 3, we have been in this working mode so much that I thought; oh gosh. I have to touch point with essentially my guides and say; hey, how is everything coming together? Remind me again how I submit all of this, and when, and in what form and fashion. And it just; I don’t know why. I knew the timeline we had, and we’ve been working towards it, and we’re on schedule. But hearing her say end of March; I was like; {laughs} Oh my gosh!

Anyway, so it kept me up last night. It feels like I’m turning it in tomorrow. It’s not coming in tomorrow. And most of it’s done. It’s just an exciting time. I’m excited to get back into that mode of this really just crush it towards the finish line. We’re towards the end. The whole team. We get to really rally. With my team, photographer, my editor on my end that I hired to help us really polish it. but before we submit this work, it’s just really fun. I really enjoy this part of the project. And we still have time. Turning it in at the end of March is still a very; I think it’s kind of an unheard of schedule in terms of getting it in earlier than when we really need to, but it’s what I said I was going to do, so gosh darn it I’m going to do it. {laughs}

And it’s just; it’s kind of that really, really driven by overpromising and under- wait, nope. {laughing} I’m really driven by under promising and overdelivering. It’s something that; I want that to be something that Fed and Fit as a company is really known for. And this just gets to be a really good example that I get to live out for the team and for the sake of this project. So that’s exciting.

And we’re officially, officially going to build a house!

Diane Sanfilippo: Wohoo!

Cassy Joy: I’m so excited! I mean, we’ve been talking about it for so long. And going back and forth with the builder. Looking at what might be a lot. And it’s all been kind of up in the air. But we’ve chosen the floor plan; which we’re going to change. But we have a floor plan we’re going to start with. We’ve hired a designer to help us. We’re going to work with Well Dressed Home, which is based out of Dallas. But I feel really confident that they’ll be able to help us from afar. And we’ll be able to probably sign on the dotted line for a lot in the next couple of days. So it will be exciting. We’re going to move in probably a year from now.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is really exciting.

Cassy Joy: I’m pumped. It will be a wild ride. {laughs} So I’m going to get this book turned in, and then I’m going to go into heavy hitting mode on floor plan adjustments.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s like a type of nesting where you’re not in it yet, but it’s like this future nesting.

Cassy Joy: That’s so it!

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s going to be good.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Austin was; we were looking at this floor plan. We’re going to have a kid’s game room; you know, like a playroom just a place where they can play. And he was really campaigning for only having access to that game room from one corner of the house; one bedroom. I was like; if we’re going to have, my dream is to have four kids. And if we’re going to have four kiddos; maybe they share a room, two and two. I was like, they both need access to this game room. It makes no sense. And we were sitting here chatting this through. And I was like, the nesting pregnant woman came out of me, and I was like; I will die on this sword.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughing}

Cassy Joy: We are putting access to both bedrooms to this activity place. Anyway, it is. That is exactly what’s coming out. Austin is like; ok, I thought we were just having a conversation {laughing}.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} No. It’s never; that’s never it.

Cassy Joy: It’s never just a conversation. Anyway. What do you have going on?

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s kind of hilarious. Oh goodness. I feel like we’re in this interesting stage of business where we’re chugging along on a lot of different things, but actually closing the loop on things lately, which is so exciting. So we’ve hired a new customer service person.

Cassy Joy: Congratulations!

Diane Sanfilippo: Her name is Katie. Thank you, I’m really excited. We had some great candidates, and ultimately finding someone who was on the West Coast; it wasn’t going to be the deciding factor, but she does happen to be on the West Coast. I just think she’s a really good fit, and hopefully that role will develop into something more and beyond customer service, as well. Which is always something that I look for in people. I don’t like to hire someone who is only qualified for this one role.

And I think what tends to happen. maybe you’ve seen this too. I tend to see a bunch of folks who apply for jobs like this one where they’re definitely overqualified. I mean, it’s a customer service position. It’s not a super high level of qualification, but I think people recognize an opportunity when it’s there. And I value that as well. So I like to have people who are just excited to be part of the process, and dig in, and be problem solvers. So I’m excited to welcome her to the team soon.

I know I had hinted about or mentioned a project manager, or program manager position on the show. And I’ve gotten a few emails about it, but we have not officially opened that position. It’s kind of a wait and see situation right now. I’m trying to decide what I want to do with those programs. I can’t in earnest hire someone for something that I haven’t decided what’s the way forward yet.

And typically for me, you mentioned being a Manifesting Generator; so I’m a Manifestor. If you guys look into Human Design. I can’t think my way into a solution when there’s kind of a big decision to make. That’s something that now I’ve really learned tangibly in the last couple of years when I felt like I didn’t have the next “big idea” for something. I can’t just sit and think and logically try and parse out what makes sense. It always has to come from my gut and from an intense vibe of; that’s it. Yup. And here we go. Because when I start running, I’ve got the ball. What’s the Harry Potter thing that people get, and they run with?

Cassy Joy: Uggh. They play Quidditch.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Yeah, what’s the thing called? Somebody is screaming at their phone right now.

Cassy Joy: The snitch! Did I get it? The snitch! {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: The snitch! I don’t know, but I feel like when I get that thing, I am running. And good luck, because I’m going to sprint. So I’m not a marathoner, you know, I’m a sprinter. So it’s like, I’m kind of in the walk in between a lot of times, and then suddenly I’m like; oh, I’m sprinting. Here we go.

So anyway. Regarding that position. It’s TBD. Y’all will know when it’s open. And it won’t be a quick open and close. It will be something that takes time. But most likely, it’s going to need to be filled by somebody who is already in our community. Whether that’s a 21DSD coach, or someone who has been kind of involved in our community for a long time. I don’t think an outside random person can come in to something that has a lot of intimately connected details. It’s just my feeling on it. so we’ll see. But that’s TBD.

What else? So I talked about this on the show before. The branding process we were going through; rebranding for Balanced Bites. It’s nothing too extreme. I think people will just realize we’re now putting some icons with the type, and we have a refreshed version of our type. We have packaging that’s already made for spices for the next year. So I didn’t want to do something that would be so radically different and wouldn’t kind of mesh and match a bit with what’s happening with our spices. But in terms of website, social media, all of that, we’ll be planning a roll out of that new branding soon; which I’m really excited about. I can’t wait for everyone to see it, I can’t wait to make some swag.

And then the last thing for this week is I have a big meeting coming up next week. I don’t know; this meeting will have happened by the time the episode airs. But I have a pretty big meeting next week to kind of see about potential next steps for bringing meals to retail. Whether that’s in a larger scale, whether that’s just in trying to go for something like Costco, or I don’t know what. I think an initial conversation I had with a man who owns a copacking facility that we potentially would be working with.

So backing up a couple of weeks, we talked about this. I was talking about potentially really building out a kitchen, and it just comes down to, at this point, again, still really looking for a copacking situation. So again, that’s something I can get into on a future episode. But the economy of scale is at work here. So when we look at bringing something to retail, getting meat and vegetables at a price that makes sense requires a large scale operation of somebody who is already purchasing these ingredients so that we can basically get in on their pricing. because that’s a huge barrier to entry. And one of the reasons why it is so hard to get started in this type of business, is that buying at a price that you might buy for hundreds or even a small range of thousands of units of something is just really cost prohibitive, and it’s a reason why a lot of businesses just won’t make any money, and don’t have a path forward to actually become profitable. Which, you know, then you don’t have a business, you have a hobby. At a certain point.

That being said, made a contact and spoke with this gentleman for probably almost 90 minutes. He was extremely generous with his time. And most of that time he was basically trying to tell me all the reasons why I shouldn’t do it. as one would, right?

Cassy Joy: {laughs} Mm-hmm.

Diane Sanfilippo: Which we would do, and have done, for anybody who wants to write a book. We tell you; don’t write a book thinking you’re going to earn money from it. because 99.9% of authors don’t actually earn a solid living from writing books. But what I had to remind this gentleman of was, I basically wasn’t asking him if I should do it. it was just getting through the conversation to get to the point where I was like; ok so what are the numbers that I need to hit? What are my minimums? How many meals can we make in that shift? Ok, sounds good. {laughs} I kind of got him past all of his own objections to anyone coming in and doing this.

And I have to remind myself, after I get off of a call like that and I touch base with some of my friends and colleagues who are my cheerleaders to be like; yeah, many people have tried to do this and haven’t succeeded. And who knows? Maybe I’ll be another one who tries it and it doesn’t work. But also, I feel like things are a little different when you come into a business like this and you don’t have a brand that somebody knows, and you don’t have a way to get people to the stores. So this is kind of my business insight that came to me yesterday talking about this.

I think a lot of people might create a food product, and they expect the; if you build it, they will come. They expect the; well, I got it in the freezer, so people are going to buy it. and I’m like; no, no, no. That is not how we sell things. I need you all to be at the store, like; where is it? I need to create so much demand that you’re kind of pissed at me when I launch something in a region and it’s not available nationwide. I mean, that’s what I need to do.

And that’s what I end up doing for all these other brands, right? Where I’m talking about something from maybe Siete. I’m wearing their hoodie today. Or Chameleon Cold Brew in this one flavor that’s only available at a certain store. And I’m doing it for other brands. So I recognize exactly how this works. But if I want to do that for my own brand, it’s a big deal. And it’s something that a lot of people who think they have a good idea and a great product don’t realize how important it is to drive actual human beings to a store to make a purchase.

I’m obsessed with that. I’m obsessed with influence. I’m obsessed with honest, trusting relationships. I do my absolute best every time somebody comments on one of my posts on Instagram, telling me that they purchased spices or meals, to not only reply back but to thank people every single time for their support. Because every single one of those people makes a big difference. And the companies who have come before; a company like Amy’s for example, they do drive a lot of customer and brand loyalty. And I think that that’s something I can look to to emulate, and it doesn’t have to be this constantly discounted, constantly just creating products for the sake of creating products without a level of taste and excellence. I think it’s very important.

Anyway. I have a lot to say about that. I get really excited. I have so many ideas of what could be awesome to create. And I’m pumped, because next week I was like; hey, I’ll be in LA. Can I come and we can drive in the area and meet with some people? So we’ll see what happens.

Cassy Joy: That’s so exciting.

2.  Shop Talk: Content creation in a slump [15:43]

Diane Sanfilippo: Shop Talk. In this segment, we talk about topics that are on both our minds and yours. We’ll cover all sides of the issue, and hopefully land somewhere concise, actionable, and helpful. This week, we’re actually covering your questions about content creation. So, we’ll be landing somewhere great because y’all have asked these questions.

Cassy Joy: Ok, first question we have here is from Alexa Wyble fitness. And, fun fact; Alexa is actually a fellow Texan. But she’s coming on Fed and Fit as a part-time subject matter expert for fitness, specifically around the pregnancy and postpartum phase.

Diane Sanfilippo: That is fun.

Cassy Joy: It is, yeah. So she asked; and we’re going to lump two of these questions together because we think they work really well together. So Alexa asked, “What do you do when you’re in a content slump?” and then Hannah.Selisk {laughs} nope. And Hannah.Cieslik asks, “How do you figure out what your audience needs and wants, especially when you don’t feel creative?”

Diane Sanfilippo: Ooh these are good ones.

Cassy Joy: They are good ones. You go first; I have some thoughts too.

Diane Sanfilippo: Alright, I’ll launch out a few practical tips for this for when you feel like you don’t know what to post. Right? That’s the feeling; I’m supposed to post every day-ish, and you just. I think part of it is people sometimes feel paralyzed. Like; what can I post that’s going to actually do something versus just getting the thing out there. But here are some practical tips I have.

First of all; I think if you’re in this content creation, early stage where you hit slumps. Because this doesn’t come up for me. I always have something to say {laughs} ok. But I’ve also gone through this behavior practice enough to know that if I’m not sure what to post, this is what I automatically go to and do.

So first and foremost, I think everyone should have a list of 10 to 20 FAQs that you’re constantly answering questions for whoever it is about. Whether it’s about safe skincare, whether it’s about recipes, or cooking, or nutrition tips, or fitness, or whatever widget you sell or service you offer. What are the top 10 to 20 questions that you get all the time? Chances are, you haven’t answered one of those recently.

And one of the things that I think people forget is that repetition is not only helpful, it’s critical on social media. Because you all know the analogy I’ve made a million times, that posting to Instagram or social media is like tossing a polaroid into a river and expecting everyone who is standing anywhere along this river to see it. and the truth is, based on the algorithm, based on people’s schedule and what they’re doing, not everyone is going to see your polaroid as it floats down the river. I say a polaroid; it’s kind of weird.

Cassy Joy: I like it.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s just; a raft. Whatever you want to toss.

Cassy Joy: It’s a good visual.

Diane Sanfilippo: You’re going to toss your pooh stick into the river. Not like doo-doo poo. Like Winnie the Pooh. Anyway.

Cassy Joy: {laughing} Yes.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} That was definitely quotable. “Not doo-doo poo.” Anyway.

Cassy Joy: P-O-O-H. {laughing}

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah. Pooh stick. Somebody has to know what I’m talking about.

Cassy Joy: Kanga and Pooh would throw sticks in the river.

Diane Sanfilippo: Yeah.

Cassy Joy: Of course.

Diane Sanfilippo: Exactly. And see whose comes out on the other side of under the bridge first.

Cassy Joy: Yeah.

Diane Sanfilippo: Anyway. So I think repeat and serial content is really important. Serial meaning it’s part of a series, or it’s something that you do consistently all the time. And don’t worry if you have shared it before; people appreciate repetition. They just do. That doesn’t mean you have a 15-minute story series that you repeat every week that’s the same. It just means that you have something that you’re sharing about, you remind people about that brand of coffee creamer that you love. Tell them over and over and over again. Because not only does that create an environment where they know what to expect; and we like that. How much do we love a TV theme song? We know what to expect. We’re going to sing along, right?

Cassy Joy: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: We love that. But we also build trust when we show that we consistently do something or use something or have a behavior. That builds trust. So when you show consistency, it’s a positive thing, it’s not a negative. You don’t need to constantly do something different.

So FAQs. Repeating or sharing content along a series, etc. Reposting your own older and best performing content. Chances are, not only did they not see it, because they weren’t standing by the river that moment. But it was 3 weeks ago. It was 3 months ago. It was some time last year. Whenever it was; if you have best performing content, and you don’t know what to share; dig it up. Dig that quote up that did really great. Maybe you modify the caption and make it a little more relevant to something that’s happening today. Maybe it’s a same photo that you’ve shared before, but you, again; I always recommend modifying the caption at least a little bit. Add a new perspective. Add something that’s timely and relevant. But you do not need to reinvent the wheel every single day to share content.

And I’ll tell you; sometimes if I don’t know what to post. This was yesterday, I wasn’t really sure what to post. And I was like; well, I’ll find a salad somewhere in my photos. I will share a salad. And I’m going to share some kind of tip or insight or whatever it is. And in this caption, I wrote something about how people often ask what I do with the protein that I’m prepping each week. Here’s one way we use it all the time. I’m constantly putting it in salads. So it’s a combination of, what are the FAQs, what can I post that’s consistent, what’s a picture that I took; because, I mean, I take an inordinate amount of photos of food. And they don’t all make it to Instagram. So it’s sitting there.

My only {laughs} little catch for myself is; I have to be careful if my hands are in the photo because people will know it’s old now, because now everybody is keeping up with my latest manicure. {laughs} So for me I have to be a little sensitive to that and just crop my hand out if it made it into the photo. Unless it’s in the same time frame.

But I think those are some good tips. What are your tips for content slump? Or figuring out; I mean this is kind of the second part. Figuring out what people need when you don’t feel creative. I mean, I think it’s the same question.

Cassy Joy: Yeah, I think it’s the same question. Your tips are great. And I love that idea. And I do find myself; and hearing you say it, it’s something that we do that we don’t necessarily plan. When I’m feeling in a weird season; a lot of our content on Fed and Fit is seasonally focused, because a lot of it is food related, and recipe related, and what are folks Googling right now? And how can we really just maximize on web traffic by way of creating credibility with traffic from social media.

But there are weird seasons; like, the end of February is a weird season. Because it’s not quite; people are kind of tired of winter foods. We’re kind of ready for spring. We’re not feeling that great. It’s a very fuzzy time. So to Diane’s point, during those seasons, I will pull up just those best, biggest hitting pieces of content that always perform well. People will always get behind or be intrigued by a breakfast meatball, for example.

And I’ve also found that folks; you might think; oh, this was my most successful Instagram post ever. Everyone who has ever known me has seen it already. You’re going to share it, and you’re going to be amazed. I would refresh the copy; right, what you’re writing on Instagram so you’re not copying both the photo and the text. But you will be amazed by the new folks who come in that comment. Even if you feel like your account hasn’t changed much in terms of followers, in that time frame. It will still amaze you. Which, I think that’s great advice.

The other thing I would do is how to figure out what your audience wants and needs, especially when you don’t feel creative. I would just ask them. I would just ask them. And the easiest way to do that, and what we use a lot; we use this tool a lot at Fed and Fit is the question feature in Instagram stories. Or a poll. If you have it down to a couple of items, but the question one is really helpful. And you can even ask them. Hey, what is your favorite thing that I do? What’s the most useful piece of content I’ve ever published? What is a curiosity that you have, or a question you have and you’d like to see my answer to it? And see what comes in.

Diane Sanfilippo: I love that. I think polls are helpful if you’re, as you’ve said; I’ve got it narrowed down to two things and I really want to know which wins. And I think they’re easier for people to respond to. But you’re going to get a lot more insight from an open-ended question that you put in a question box. Obviously, people can’t write on and on forever in the response. But I think when you leave it open ended, you might learn something you just did not even recognize. I think that’s really, really helpful.

Cassy Joy: We didn’t know, until we did a question feature, how much Cook Once, Eat All Week, my second book, how successful it was in the budget category. I had no idea that it was saving people so much money, week over week. I never would have known that. And I never would have known to build that into our future content.

3. Inspiration without copying content [25:26]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, so this next question is; I really like this question. This one is from Read Write Thrive, and it asks, “How to get inspiration without feeling like you’re copying?” that is hard, right?

Cassy Joy: That is hard. And if you feel yourself slipping; this is my take here. Because I’ve been here before. Maybe you’re following all of these accounts; let’s just talk about Instagram because it’s easier to talk about one platform. You’re following all these accounts on Instagram, and you really admire the content that they are putting out there. But then all of a sudden, they take up your mental bandwidth of new ideas that you want to publish. And then all of a sudden you feel like if you go and you create a resource, you’re going to be copying what you just saw them publish. And I have a couple of thoughts here.

Number one; if you feel like you are going to slip into copying mode, then I would just unfollow. I would not consume that content, number one. I would focus on; what do my readers want. Write it down if you need to get it out of your head. Pen to paper. What is it that my readers; what makes them unique? What makes me unique as a content creator? And then, how can I build a bridge between these two in a way that’s going to really surprise and delight my readers? Ok.

You can seek inspiration from other folks in how they deliver their content. Right? You really like that they did it in an infographic. You really like that they did it with a video. You really like that they did it with this kind of photo, and this kind of text. I think how people deliver content is a great thing to seek inspiration from, but the content itself is proprietary. I know Diane is going to have some really good, specific notes on this.

But I would say, number one; get out of your head. Write down on paper so you can really refocus on you and your brand. And number two; I also want to remind you that the way that you will do something is going to be different than them. So let’s say you’re scrolling around and you’re working on an article that’s about the five reasons you need to drink more water. And you see somebody who does a little quick infographic on Instagram that’s like; the five reasons you need to drink more water. And you’re like; gosh darn it. now this is all I can think about. That seems like the right way to do it.

I would give yourself more time on executing that project, so you can figure out; how can I do this even better? And how can I make this more relatable to my audience. Maybe I’m going to weave in a challenge. Maybe we’re going to do it with a photo instead of an infographic. But remember how you’re going to talk about this content is going to be different than that other person. And I think, just give yourself a break here. Because there’s thousands of lasagna recipes across blogs, right, on the internet.

Diane Sanfilippo: It’s nothing new. Yeah.

Cassy Joy: It’s nothing new. But the way that you’re going to make lasagna; the way you’re going to take photos; the way you’re going to talk about how it relates to you and your story and your grandmother taught you how to grate the basil. {laughs} I was going to say garlic. Who is grating basil? {laughs}

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs}

Cassy Joy: Chop up the herbs and everything like that. That’s going to be unique to you, and you’re going to reach your people with your content. So just give yourself a break there.

Diane Sanfilippo: agreed. I definitely find myself muting people sometimes. And I do that, not just because I don’t want to be stealing ideas. Sometimes I do that because I feel like I’m under delivering when I see other people sharing about XYZ thing. and I’m like; I can’t keep up. I have other things going on. And I feel like I’m behind. And I just mute them. And I do it to friends, too. People I love; sometimes I’m like; I can’t watch this. Because now I’m feeling inadequate. And that’s so silly, but it’s really easy to just push mute, and be like; I’m still following, but I’m just not going to see those stories for the next however long. Or I’m not going to see, because it’s just kind of causing my own issues in my own head. You know. So it’s pretty interesting.

So I have a couple of tips on this. First and foremost, you can just credit the post that inspired you. And I think when you’re in a tighter community, to your point, Cassy, about just giving it some breathing room before you find your way to share something. I think that’s excellent advice. I think it’s also important to recognize that you likely won’t have the same followers, but you might. And most people aren’t going to notice this kind of thing. But now and then, somebody could pick up on it. like; wow, last week Jane Smith posted about 5 tips on water and today, I don’t, Sarah whatever. She’s posting it. and then next week; one week this person does it and the next week that.

It’s doubtful that that would happen, but the person who you’re getting inspired by might start to pick up on it. we’ve heard that within our community. We’re like; sheesh, I just posted this and now here she is with her own post, and it’s almost the same.

I think part of it is ourselves we have to recognize that we probably got inspired somewhere as well. And let’s just drop the ego around it if someone does take inspiration, let them take it. because we are all different. But again, this just comes back to; you know what? Credit the person who inspired you. I think that’s totally valid. It doesn’t take away from you. A candle loses nothing by lighting another candle. You can say; wow, you know, Cassy Joy totally inspired me to share with you my tips about drinking water, if that’s something that she just shared. I definitely recommend not sharing the same five tips. Really make it your own. It’s important to be your own person and share your own insights.

But, I think it’s crazy to just try and be yourself without ever recognizing that it’s important and valid and ok to say; hey, credit to this person for this idea. Or for reminding me of this. Or inspiring me to share it again. Whatever it is. So, I’m just really big on crediting. I don’t think it happens enough out there. So there’s that.

And then; obviously there are going to be memes. Like the Dolly Parton challenge. I mean, of course, I think people should tag Dolly Parton on the post. I think people should find the source whenever possible, and if you can’t find the source of something like that, ask a few people. Because I do think it’s usually not that far off. You know, six degrees of separation type of thing. We can find the source. But anyway. All that being said. Whatever. That’s just my feeling as somebody who came from the design world originally. I just feel like there’s a lot of crediting that could be done that’s not done.

My second tip is to internalize the concept, which you were kind of mentioning this. Just sit with it and reflect on what your personal experience is. Take the idea, write it down, make a little note in Evernote, whatever it is that you’re going to do. And be like; ok, maybe I should share about my tips for drinking water. I’m just going to use that example. But just not right now. Just save it in an idea bank of something that you might want to share about later when you do find more personal inspiration or content that you want to share about it. Like; what is it that I do? That is unique to me.

And again, you’re still going to have your own approach the things. So maybe somebody always shares something in an infographic. Maybe the way you share it is with a quote. Maybe you share a photo of something that you’re doing in your life. So I think that’s something we can all find the unique way that fits into what’s typical for us to post, as well.

Here’s an example; if you don’t typically post quote cards, and suddenly you just start doing it because someone else inspired you to. Now, of course, you’re free to start doing something different at any time. But I think if that feels like it’s not you, and it’s out of your realm, then I think just dial it back and go back to what it is that you do feel comfortable and confident sharing.

4. Writing: scheduled versus inspired [33:47]

Cassy Joy: Ok, next question comes in from Sarah Godby. She asks; “Scheduled writing time versus inspiration?” What she’s really, I think, asking is; when you’re ready to sit down and write, do you wait for inspiration to strike you? That elusive lightening bolt of; I’ve got to write this down now! Or do you schedule it and write no matter what when it shows up on your calendar. What do you think?

Diane Sanfilippo: So I think this goes back a little bit to what we were talking about with the creation versus documenting. I probably operate 80% on inspiration. But, it’s semi-scheduled, if that makes sense. So here’s the way that I approach things, typically with, let’s say a daily Instagram post on my Diane Sanfilippo feed. Where we don’t have a content plan. It’s not all done ahead of time or any of that. It’s very in the moment. That doesn’t mean some of it isn’t thought out. I know at certain times of year, I’m going to post certain types of things.

But, I try to post either first thing in the morning or after I get through my morning work and I have a minute to sit down and think. So I kind of have a timeframe that I usually do the posting. So in that sense, there’s a schedule. But in terms of what I’m going to say, I don’t say; ok, sit down at 8 o’clock a.m. and write your next Instagram post. That’s not how I operate. It’s pretty much coming out of my thumbs right to Instagram. It’s not done ahead. Every now and then, I’ll start something and come back to it in a note, because I do want to give it more thought or I want to read it over and edit it more. Especially if it’s a quote, where it’s something I think is a little more personal development related. Those are things that I will sometimes spend a little more time on and just kind of come back and edit.

But, that’s the way I approach it. I do it at this time, but I don’t like force myself to write something at this time every day, if that makes sense. And I always say, when it comes to this, you have to do what works for you. And here’s what I mean by that. Because I feel like that’s an expression that we use a lot. Mostly I mean; what will you do consistently?

So let me reiterate. Because if I say, you have to do what works for you, when it comes to social media I think what we typically mean is; what will you do consistently, first and foremost? And then from there, what will your audience respond to with engagement? Tags, shares, likes, comments, DMs. All of that is engagement. Responding to polls, etc.

So it’s this combination. We say; what works for you? It’s first, what will you do consistently? What will you show up for consistently? Because if you won’t show up for it, it’s definitely not working for you. Right? And then from there, what do people respond to? Because don’t slam your head against a wall month after month posting the same thing because you will do it but nobody ever responds to it. I think that you need to do some auditing of what could be done a little bit differently. And cling to the little moments and look for and analyze what it is that people do respond to when they do, even if you get one like typically, and you got 5 on that one. Or you got 10. What time did I post it? What was the content? What was the photo? What did I say? Anyway.

Cassy Joy: I like that.

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s getting into a different issue.

Cassy Joy: No, I think that’s great advice to consider at this juncture, as well. Another tip that I have; ok, so I’m going to use this analogy because Mason, Diane’s cat, was making an appearance earlier before we pressed record. And I find that inspiration is a lot; you can correct me if I’m wrong. You’ve spent way more time with cats than I have.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh boy. Because he’s gone now, in case you were wondering. Fickle little one.

Cassy Joy: {laughs} So that’s how inspiration feels to me, though. It’s like snuggling with a cat. It’s going to happen in one of two ways; it’s going to strike. The cat is going to want to snuggle with you when you don’t want it to, right? Or when you’re least expecting it. you’re sitting on the couch, and you were actually planning on getting up and doing something else. And then all of a sudden, it crawls in your lap, and it feels precious and like you need to sit there.

Diane Sanfilippo: Oh, you’re the chosen one.

Cassy Joy: You’re the chosen one!

Diane Sanfilippo: That’s the expression with a cat.

Cassy Joy: Yes!

Diane Sanfilippo: I’ve been chosen. I can’t do anything now. I have to just sit here until he decides something else is happening.

Cassy Joy: Exactly. That’s the lightening bolt striking, right? And then the other scenario. My sister, Kimberly, has a kitty cat. A boy named Sue. And Sue; he’s a creature of habit, like of all of us are. And I’ve found that when I’m staying with them, Sue learns my schedule. And if I get up early and make my coffee, because I do. And I sit down at the table, he comes and sits with me. And it’s kind of like a more predictable lightening strike. I’ve just built this routine, and he wants to come visit more often.

So, I think that inspiration behaves very, very similarly. And if you build yourself some kind of a routine and you’re open to it striking. I wouldn’t force anything. There have definitely been times where I was like; you know what? I’m not in the right head space to write something inspirational, or motivational, or that’s going to connect with a single human being, because I just don’t want to. I’m in a bad head space. Don’t force it. You don’t have to force it in those times. Use that time to work on something else.

But I still schedule that “writing time” because if I’m consistent in it, in that I’m waking up at 5 a.m. and I have my cup of coffee, the odds of it being there and being there with me in that moment is so much more likely of the cat coming and visiting me if he knows that I’m going to be there at the table at a predictable time. And I’ve found that I’m able to really capitalize on that time more often than not.

5. Branding content [39:54]

Cassy Joy: Ok, next question. Amy Jay Johnson asks, “How important is uniformity in design, and what elements should be uniform or consistent?” This is definitely not my wheelhouse {laughs}, so I’m going to volley the whole thing over to Diane.

Diane Sanfilippo: {laughs} Oh, I love this question. So for those of you who don’t know, I have a graphic design certification. This was after my undergraduate degree. I was working in corporate retail and I was going to take the route; I wanted to be a T-shirt graphic designer. I looked at all the graphic tees that came out at the GAP, and I was like; I want to do. So I went back to school for graphic design, and later ended up in small business marketing and advertising and branding for a company that works with a lot of just small businesses versus the pie in the sky stuff. We didn’t work with Coca-Cola or Audi or any big national brands. We worked with a lot of landscapers. And, whatever. Anyway, we worked with local small businesses.

Which, my own business now is the type of business that we would have worked with as well. We did work with a bunch of food brands, etc., and I got to help on those. So, just giving you guys that background.

I want to say this; first of all, I need everyone to hear this very clearly. Branding is more than a logo. It’s more than a color. When you see someone’s post, and you know who posted it before you see their name or the tag on it, if they put their name on it, that is branding. So a branding situation is basically a look and feel and vibe that you get from some type of content without even seeing a logo.

So, that being said, this idea of uniformity and design in elements that should be uniform or consistent; what she’s talking about here is should my content be branded. That doesn’t mean it has a logo on it. does that make sense? Your content is branded because you take pictures in your house. It has similar lighting. Similar plates. Your hand might be in it, or maybe it’s a platter or a tray. We know your content when we see it, because it looks like you. It looks like your content.

Half Baked Harvest; Teagan Gerrard. Is that her last name?

Cassy Joy: Yep.

Diane Sanfilippo: You know her content when you see it. Now, you might also see similar content; people who were inspired by a style and what have you. But chances are, in a certain realm, we know when we see certain content.

Ok, that being said, how important is it? I think it’s really important to be consistent. But that doesn’t mean sameness. I think you can choose a handful of elements that you’re going to have variety in within a certain range. So that might look like you typically choose one filter style. Or maybe there’s a lighting setting you can download. I don’t use those so I don’t really know. Cassy and I have talked about this before. We have ways that we like to edit our photos so that they look a certain way that we like. More realistic, a little bit brighter, maybe there’s more contrast, more saturation, whatever it’s going to be. But we kind of always edit certain photos the same way.

Now, if you can’t do the manual editing, you really need something that is consistent done for you; that’s where you get one of these presents. Or, you can use the filters that are in Instagram. Most of them are a little weird for things like food these days. And you can adjust them. You don’t have to go 100% on a filter. You can take it to 10% or 20%. I usually recommend having your photos having a consistent look and feel, and that’s because you might take them in the same place. You might use the same dishes, etc. Make sense?

Cassy Joy: It does.

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok. So then when it comes to colors, and type, and font; I also think this is really important to be consistent. Whether it’s in a range of colors, like a palette that you’re using; whether it’s a couple of fonts that you tend to choose. If you always create a graphic, and you want to share a quote card, but every time you are randomizing the color and randomizing the text, I’m not going to connect with that every time.

So, every time I go to share a quote card lately, it’s white background with black text and a certain font that I choose. I think it’s called Chelsea club or something from word swag. And I choose a really consistent look, and the message is going to be different. I’m going to type the caption differently. But for me, that’s what feels like the look and feel I want to use right now. And there have been times in the past where I chose a navy background with white text. Something that has an element that feels like it’s grounding to you. Like it looks ok in your feed. It either flows well with your feed or it interrupts your feed in a way that you like.

So the photos I tend to post to Instagram are usually very colorful and bright and a little bit deeper and more saturated. A lot of green, red, blue, those kinds of colors. And I decided that doing something white with black text would be a little bit jarring in a way that would break it up and say; hey, pay attention to this in a different way. So that’s the choice that I made for that. It’s a look and feel that I like. It’s not overly playful, because I tend to be talking about more serious things when I post those. So that’s just something to keep in mind there.

You guys can see this; we talk a lot about the Holistic Psychologist. She has a lot of variety in the colors and styles of what she posts. But there is a consistency to; there’s maybe 5 or 6 styles of posts that will go up. So when you see them, you know it’s her. And I think that for my taste, it’s a little bit more of a broad range than I would choose. I mean, I personally for being a visual person, I wish that certain topics would have certain color coding so that I could more easily consume it. that’s my preference. But obviously it works for her and for her audience. So I think that’s something to consider.

So, yes. I think make some choices. Be uniform. Choose a type face that you’re going to stick with. Choose a couple of colors that you’re going to stick with that makes sense. And then you can change those over time. You don’t have to say; I’m choosing black and white, and I will never stray from that.

I do want to throw out one more tip, is that when you look around at what tends to get shared the most, see what kinds of quotes or photos or what have you; see what kinds of things other people tend to share. Whether it’s reposted to their feed or their stories. And there are certain looks that somebody might not repost. Like, they might be more apt to repost something that’s just a color with text than a picture of you with text over it. it just depends.

But I think if you’re looking for sharing and engagement; sharing something that feels easier for someone else to share on their own feed. That’s the next level deeper of; how do you make this choice. I do think that sharing white with black text; at a certain point in time, more people were sharing that to their feed so maybe I chose that for a reason. Like; oh, if somebody wants to repost it it’s already styled in a way that would work for them. Versus, doing a shade of red that somebody else might not be as apt to pick up and say, I’m going to repost this. Does that make sense?

That was a little more when people were only doing reposts to their feed. Now story shares are so much more common. I think people will share a lot more variety to their story now. But, yeah. Maybe you guys can think of people you follow who have a certain style, and that you kind of recognize when it’s in your feed, you can recognize a quote, a photo, etc. Is there any one you can think of?

Cassy Joy: Oh man. I follow a handful of lifestyle bloggers, and I’m thinking of them. I mean, their presets have a lot to do with it.

Diane Sanfilippo: Right, those filters.

Cassy Joy: Yes. And they are their own presets, right? I think a lot of them sell them. So those usually stand out. And then to your point, the graphics. Who is the artist? Lisa Congdon?

Diane Sanfilippo: Lisa Congdon, yeah.

Cassy Joy: I mean, obviously she’s an artist, so her visuals are extremely strong. And very, very branded. But that’s an example. Emily Ley is another good example of similar colors and fonts when she posts things. So I think that’s great advice.

6. Choosing the form of the content [48:19]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, this question comes from That Clean Beauty Mama, and she asks; “Around creating content, as it pertains to growing social followers, if one form of content is performing best should I just focus on that for a while, even if it disrupts the feed?”

Cassy Joy: So I assume that she means; and Diane, this question as well. I assume you mean the look of your feed? If one kind of content is performing the best. I have a feeling it’s probably a selfie, or something of that sort, that’s going to perform the best. Because you’re probably being the most vulnerable with a post like that. You’re showing your face. You’re being very brave. And you’re probably saying something very honest. Those tend to be very rewarded on social media by our followers. People want to applaud and cheer you on when you’re being vulnerable.

So if you find that that’s what’s performing best, I think it’s great to make a note of that, and put it into a regular rotation. But that doesn’t have to be your entire feed. This is not a, “this is all I do now.” You don’t have to post selfie after selfie after selfie, if it’s not a selfie forgive me. Whatever the content is in particular. Maybe it’s a quote card, like we were just talking about. Your feed doesn’t have to become all quote cards.

I think it’s important to show a nice variety to vary between personal testimony to teachable moments, to just a glimpse into everyday life and even though all of those categories of content aren’t necessarily going to perform at the same rate. They’re not all going to have the same number of likes, or comments, or shares. It still helps show that person that you are a well-rounded human who is here to offer well-rounded content. And it’s making them that much more apt to then go ahead and click like, comment, and share when you do post something that really resonates with them, and that is compelling.

So even though one type of content may seem to you to be the one that’s the most successful, and there’s a temptation to double down on it, and maybe do just that, don’t underestimate the power of the soft sells and the passive passing of content. And people are like; wow, that’s a really helpful tip. But they may not engage with it, because they don’t know what to say or how to engage. It’s still, you’re establishing a stronger connection with that reader that you’ll be able to benefit from in the long run.

So I say; if you notice something is working, make sure it shows up at least every 9 slides, if not every 3 to 5. And then just keep it going at that clip. What do you think?

Diane Sanfilippo: I think that’s great advice. I think; I’m really torn on the whole feed disruption situation. I think that there is an amount of consistency that’s really helpful, so that when someone taps on your profile, and they’re going to decide whether or not to follow you, that they see a certain type of consistency. There are a lot of accounts that I know that have a lot of followers, and there is no pattern. And there is no, you know; she posts a quote every three. There is no pattern. There is no consideration of how will it look in the feed in terms of its arrangement.

Perhaps in terms of consistency; someone like Michelle Tam is a great example, at Nom Nom Paleo. Obviously her photos are beautiful and excellent and have consistency and they’re well lit and they’re well done, but there is no pattern. So she’s got something that she sticks to in terms of not disrupting her style, but at the same time, it’s not like; oh, I can’t post this today because I’m supposed to post a quote, or something.

So, I really think if you’ve got a form of content that’s working, I would say lean into it. but I would not make it 100% of your content. Because if it is a selfie, for example, I think at some point that gets a little tired. And when someone does go to your feed; like, there was somebody whose account I went to recently and I was like, eyerolling at how many selfies there were. And I was like; I’m not interested in seeing that many selfies of you. Because, also, even though the content and the text might be really good, if I’m deciding to follow you or not, I kind of need to see a little more variety. If that makes sense. So, I think it’s kind of considering those angles, as well.

Cassy Joy: Agreed.

7. Chunking content [53:10]

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, this last question comes from Stacy Foreman, and she asks, “What way do you divide a topic so that it’s consumable versus overwhelming to the audience, and that it is informative, relevant, captivating, etc., without being a dragging on research paper.” Cassy. I feel like you do this really well. What are your tips for this?

Cassy Joy: That is so nice of you to say that. We try. So I’m actually been recent, speaking of crediting who inspires you; Bon Appetite I’m finding endlessly inspiring right now. And something that they do really, really; they do this so well right now, Diane. My jaw hit the floor when I learned what they were doing. And it seems so obvious. They post a recipe. So they publish a recipe on Bon Appetite. And then they spend the next five to seven days sharing a tip for how to execute that recipe. “Here is the best way to mince garlic.” “Here is the best way to chop your onion.” “Here’s how you know onions are done caramelizing.” “Here’s how you rinse your rice and cook it so that it’s not mushy.” All of these things that end up being a part of the final recipe.

And I think it’s important to remember that every piece of content that you put out there, there’s so much to unpack, and there are so many tips and nuggets that you can pull out. And I think that what the smart thing to do is to share, is to bookend your wanting to deliver these bite sized pieces of content. Because that’s what social media is for, for the most part. That’s how, at least, I think of it. Social media is for bite sized content; go ahead and break it out. What are the bite-sized pieces involved in this thing you want to share? So you have this long research paper. What are your top seven points? And then turn those into 7 different Instagram or social media posts. And then bookend it at the beginning; here’s this big article on my blog that I am so excited about. And then you breakout those pieces. And then you bookend it at the end. For all of these collected in one spot, here you go. Just a reminder; here is the collective research, or whatever it is that you put together.

8. Tip of The Week: Posting schedule [55:21]

Cassy Joy: Tip of The Week! In this segment, we give you one tip that you can take action on this week to move your business or life forward. Diane what’s your tip this week?

Diane Sanfilippo: Ok, my tip this week is to pick a time of the day that you’re going to carve out 10 to 15 minutes to make your daily post. We’re going to guess it’s Instagram. But I think that a lot of people who are struggling with what to post might not have built in this habit well enough. So you really got into this in this episode, and I was kind of saying it’s something that I do just by virtue of; I get to the gym and I end up sitting there while I’m stretching. And I’m foam rolling, and I’m writing a post. And that’s kind of the time that just by default I’ve carved out. Because while I’m leaning into that foam roller, I’m like; I’ll just type this caption right here.

But I think if folks will say; you know what, right when I’m eating my breakfast. Or drinking my coffee, as you had said. I’m going to commit to doing something. I really like what that can inspire. I think it can be just what you’re thinking about that day. I think it can be something that happened yesterday, a reflection ahead. Is it Tuesday? Please post a taco, you know? {laughs} If you can post taco Tuesday, you’re good.

But that type of thing. where it does put you into not a high-pressure situation, but a little bit of a controlled situation where you’re just making the commitment. I’m going to post at this time. Maybe you do make a plan, and you’re like; well here’s what I’m going to post, because I planned it. or maybe it’s just; well I didn’t plan it but they said I have to make a post, so I’m going to do it now and here’s what it’s going to be. And test things and try things and tag us in it. let us know what you’re posting. Tag @TheDrivenPodcast what we can come see what it is that you’re sitting down to get yourself working on every day.

That’s it for Driven this week. If you liked this episode, be sure to subscribe in Apple podcast, on Stitcher, Spotify, or wherever you listen to podcasts. Follow us on Instagram @TheDrivenPodcast. Cassy is @FedandFit and I am @DianeSanfilippo.

Tune in next week for a brand-new miniseries that we’re kicking off. We’re talking all about what to do when your business isn’t growing. You are not going to want to miss that. See you next week.

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