Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

Hot Seat with Creative Gravity Social Media Agency

March 15, 2022 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 22
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
Hot Seat with Creative Gravity Social Media Agency
Show Notes Transcript

In this special edition Hot Seat episode, I'm talking with a former client to hear how the strategies we've implemented in her business helped her go from side-hustle to full-time business owner in a little over two years. In this episode, I'm talking with Devin, owner of Creative Gravity Social Media Agency. Devin started her business in February 2020, right before the world changed! In that time we grew her business revenue by 400% and put tools and strategies in place to help her leave her full-time job. 

Devin Brinkley, is the founder of Creative Gravity Social Media Agency, a women-led and operated social media agency, specializing in social media marketing, management, and training. She helps businesses of all sizes organically promote and grow their brands online and convert their followers to clients.

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Sasha:

Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. I, of course, am your host Sasha and today we are doing something a little bit different. You guys know that normally I have Hot Seat guests at the end of the month and we typically dive into an area of their business where they have a question or something that they need help with. But today it's not going to be a traditional Hot Seat episode. Instead, we are going to be talking to one of my past clients to hear about a strategy success story, and how she has taken a lot of the things that I talked about on the podcast and translated that into her business and how she essentially went from a business that was earning hundreds of dollars when she started in 2021. I'm gonna go with that, she'll correct me in a moment. And then it now she has a business where she literally just left her full time job to do her business full time. So welcome to Devin, who is the owner of Creative Gravity Social Media Agency. I'm gonna let her speak in a moment. But I'm just going to give you some background about Devin. Devin is actually also a personal friend of mine. I have known Devin since middle school. Coincidentally, like we were friends in middle school, and then after middle school did not speak at all. We went to two different high schools. So we lost touch from middle school, college and reconnected in 2020 ish. We were Facebook friends for years, of course. And we reconnected in 2020 or late 2019. I don't know one of the two. And at the time, she was just starting her business, which is Creative Gravity. At the time as Creative Gravity Consulting and now is Creative Gravity Social Media Agency, which is a woman-led and operated social media agency, and they specialize in social media marketing, management and training. Yes, so Devin helps businesses of all sizes organically promote and grow their brands online, and she converts their followers into actual paying clients. And so yay, welcome, Devin.

Devin:

Yay. Hi.

Sasha:

Hi, I'm so excited that you're here because I never get to talk to people that I know, on this show.

Devin:

Well, I'm happy to be here. And I'm happy to be one of your success stories. I definitely don't think I would be a full time entrepreneur as of this week as it wasn't for working with you.

Sasha:

So let's we're gonna dive right into that and talk about it. So you correct you correct me? So you started your business in 2020?

Devin:

Yeah, February 2020. Like literally a few weeks before the world shut down.

Sasha:

Oh, yes, that makes more sense. Now, now that I remember this. The problem with COVID? Is that everything.

Devin:

It's all one big lump of days.

Sasha:

It's just been an extended 2020 for two years. And so Devin, I think I was actually one of Devin's first client. So Devin, and I actually have a mutual client relationship where I was one of her clients, and then she became one of mine. And so I think I was one of your first clients. Yeah,

Devin:

You were the first client

Sasha:

I was the first client. And so if you guys listen to the podcast, you guys know that I have another podcast that I do called the Swirl and Sip Podcast, it's very different from this one. It's not business related at all. And I knew at the time whenwe started that podcast, my co host, and I do not, still don't have the bandwidth to do social media for it. And I saw that Devin had started her business, and that this was something she was offering. And so I reached out to her to see if she would help me with my social media and she has done such an amazing job of growing I think at the time we probably had like 100 some odd followers onSwirl and Sip when she started and now we're well past like 1500 I think.

Devin:

1800

Sasha:

1800 So that tells you how much I actually an on that social media but she was able to transform not only our social media and help us grow, but we have a very dedicated following to the point where we have not posted pretty much at all recently, while we took our season break, and our our new season four episode just dropped today. And we got like, people commenting already.

Devin:

Yeah, I was surprised to see that.

Sasha:

So tell me like what made you Why did you start your business? Why did you pick social media? And then like, if you can go back to February of 2020, March 2020. How are you feeling in your business at the time?

Devin:

I guess I can kind of say social media chose me because it was given to me as other duties as assigned and my corporate job, because I was the youngest person, and they assumed I'd be able to do it. But social media marketing is totally different than just posting on social media, for leisure or for the hell of it. So I had to teach myself something, I had to do a ton of courses. And I was helping other departments. And I really started to like it. So one of our consultants actually suggested that I start a consulting business. And it took me several months to finally decide to do it. But I finally did it. Got my LLC in February 2020, started my business. And then the world shut down. And I thought it was like terrible timing, I'm never going to be able to grow this business, because literally people's businesses are shutting down. But at that time, everyone had to shift to online. And a lot of people that weren't utilizing social media started to lean into it heavily. So things actually pick that pretty quickly for me. At that time, I was only charging like $200 a month for full social media management, which was insane. At the time, I thought it was too much. I was like, nobody's going to pay me this much money to do this.

Sasha:

It was not enough,

Devin:

It was not enough.

Sasha:

It was not enough.

Devin:

And I very quickly got burnt out because I was doing so much work for so little money. I mean, $200 is nothing. And there are still people that don't think they should pay more than $200 a month for social media. But yeah, I got burned out to the point that I was like, I can't do this. Because I was working a full time job. Plus running my agency or it wasn't an agency at the time. So plus, doing that plus kids, husband, my husband has a business. So it was just a lot of things. So I confided in you because I was like, this is not going to work. I can't do this anymore. I don't... I should close my business. I'm not making enough to, for it to be worth it. And then...

Sasha:

I remember those days.

Devin:

Yeah and then you saved me.

Sasha:

So I think what something that Devin touched on that I think a lot of people had a fear about was that how do we make businesses run at the beginning of the pandemic. And it probably, like you said, felt like the worst time to start a business. But in actuality, for your business it was probably one of the best times to start a business because so many people had to transition to social media. And to get people to websites, instead of getting foot traffic or, you know, they had to learn how to convert people who were maybe casual followers of their accounts into like actual paying people of their businesses. So it actually probably, it probably was a good time for you to start your business. One thing that I want to touch on that Devin talked about was that what she was charging at the time. So I was I was obviously since I was her first client, I was one of the people charging or getting charged $250 a month for social media. Even I knew that that was not enough for the level of work that Devin puts into her clients. She was posting three times a week at minimum. She was nice to me. And since I'm a friend, she was probably doing more than three times a week for me. So she was doing a lot of work. And it's social media is so much more than just posting, it's like engagement. That's the big piece of it is engagement and hashtag research and all of that stuff. And so Devin was doing all of that for me. And I could tell that it wasn't working for you. So why don't we talk about what are some changes that we made in your business that you feel helped alleviate some of that stress?

Devin:

All of them. I feel like my business has completely been revamped under their guidance. One of the very first things that we did that was super important was as Sasha said, my business was originally Creative Gravity Consulting, because I was going so much. So I wasn't just doing social media. I was designing Wix and Squarespace websites. I was doing business consulting like business plans and strategy. I don't even know what else I was going, I was doing too much. So first we need to down and decided, You know what I liked to do and what I did not like to do. And I did not like business consulting. I did not like any of that. I didn't like the website process. like I like the designing. But the dealing with the back and forth with clients and all that kind of stuff, I didn't, I didn't like it. So I eliminated those services and completely niche down to just social media, which I'm super passionate about, and just started bringing on social media clients. So that was one Two was I started to charge more. And at the time, I only increased it to, I think $500 a month, still not enough. But it worked then because it was still a side hustle at the time. And I was still growing my portfolio. So I did increase my price to $500 a month. And the other really big thing was that I automated a lot of them administrative...well you automate it a lot of stuff that I was doing. So you got me set up on Dubsado. Because I was literally doing everything myself sending invoices and contracts, I mean, proposals, I was on everything manually, which was another reason I got burnt out. And now Dubsado does like 90% of that for me, which was huge. So having a CRM is a game changer for anyone that...

Sasha:

I feel like you're just, you're just going through all of my past episodes.

Devin:

Oh my god, that's so funny.

Sasha:

Cuz one of the first episodes I have is like pricing your worth. And then I did a recent one on what tools that you need for your business. And the difference between a CRM and a PMS.

Devin:

This was just literally showing that it works like the process as you take us through work. So that was a huge game changer. And just having those three things niching down, having a system in place and pricing, what I felt like I was worth at the time, that helped me grow my business. Even more at that point, I was bringing on more clients. So then I got burnt out a second time. Because I had started to grow so much. And it was just a lot because I was doing everything myself. All of the social media for my clients, social media for myself, which took the backseat because I was putting all of my work into my clients. So the next thing which was super scary for me to do was to start to outsource or hire people. I now have a team. And that's I'm sure a lot of people that are going to listen to this probably feel the same. Like it's scary to outsource to somebody else. Because it's your baby and you feel like it's only going to be done right if you do it. But that's why you have to hire the right people. And I have gone through a couple of people.

Sasha:

Yeah, Devin did not. And I think this is true of many people's entrepreneurial journey. Like the first hire isn't always the best hire. We had, I think you had like two people. Or three, yeah, two or three people who started off okay, and then ended up not working out. But now Devin went from essentially now she's an agency now because she went from by herself to she has two other people who work under her... Three can get a virtual assistant to so now she has three people on her team. But I want to talk about, I want to go back just a little bit, because one of the things that you did talk about was, again, the pricing. And when I did my pricing your worth episode, I think it's like episode two or three guys, you'll have to go back and listen. But it's really important because it can help one grow your business and also help you. So it's three reasons actually, it's going to help you grow your business, it's going to help you take on less clients for more money. It's going to give you a different level of clientele and when you get to a certain point, certain price point, it actually can prevent the burnout from happening because you don't need to take on as many clients that you would have if you are charging less. And you have there's a difference in clients who pay $250 and who are nitpicky vs clients where Devin starts now... Her social media now starts at $1,000 a month. And that's a difference, a huge difference in pricing. But it's also a huge difference in types of clients that you're getting. Because she now has clients who will easily pay that invoice and more and not argue about anything not expect anything extra than what she's offering, creates less stress. And we did all of those pricing increases in the span of about a year and yeah, yeah.

Devin:

I agree completely. The type like the type of clients that it was working with in the beginning and the type of clients that have now are totally different. I was not respected as much with my lower paying clients. They did not value me or respect my expertise. And I was very much treated like an assistant, which I was not like, I have a master's degree, I've taken a lot of education to, you know, be experienced in this field. But it was more like, you know, do this do that, or, you know, argumentative and things like that. So I love that you encouraged me to increase my prices to this point, because, like you said, now, I don't have to have 20 clients just to pay my bills. And it's a totally different type of client.

Sasha:

So that all that to say, guys, raise your prices.

Devin:

Yes, that's absolutely, I'm so much happier. I could essentially just have a handful of clients now and be fine. But I am still growing my business because I do have two other people that are taking on clients as well. So yes, please raise your prices. Because if I was still at $250, or $500, like, no, just no.

Sasha:

So what made you decide like, in while we were working together in all the changes that you made in your business. What made you I guess most comfortable or made it okay for you to take that leap from side hustle to full time entrepreneur? And I say all that before you get into your answer, I do want to caveat with it. If you have a quote unquote, side hustle, I've talked about this in the past, that doesn't make it a less of a business, right? Like, there's nothing wrong with having a side hustle. There's nothing wrong with having a business, in addition to a job that you have. That's what I do, I have a full time job and I have a business. I actually have no intention of making my business my full time job because I like my full time job. It pays me really well. And it affords me the time and freedom to still do my business. And I am very organized with my time. So I don't get burnt out, I don't get stressed or tired for the most part. And so I just want to make sure like, don't feel like you have to like take your business full time in order for it to be a legitimate business because that's not true. Because all of the work Devin did while she was growing her business was still a business even when she had her job. So what made you comfortable enough to feel like you were ready to kind of take that leap though?

Devin:

It was definitely it's definitely a leap of faith. But I would say I feel like I have a strong strong foundation, I've been able to save a crap ton of money, a ridiculous amount of money that you constantly remind me of when I'm feeling like I'm not doing something right. So month over month, I was able to see my profits increase significantly. Last year, my profits increased 417%. Thanks to again, you and the processes

Sasha:

You can't see me but I'm doing a happy dance.

Devin:

The strategies you helped me put into place. So like, again, the CRM being able to do a lot of that back work for me so that I can focus on the stuff that I want to do. Being able to finally find the right team members that were able to execute my vision and serve my clients the way that I want them to be served. So I felt like I have a strong foundation, a strong team, I have savings to fall back on. Because of course you know, in this journey, things may not always be the way that you want them to be. I may lose clients, I may not be able to work for whatever reason. So those things definitely made me feel comfortable in my decision. What finally made me take the leap is just that I was not happy in my day job to the point that I despised even signing on. You know, you get the case of the Mondays on Sunday night when you despise going to work. But it was it was way worse than that, like, I just was not happy. I did not feel valued. And I could have found another job easily. But I am that passionate about my business. And I love it that much. And the people that I work with, I was like, I want to do this full time. And I did consult with you a lot. You know, because I doubted myself a lot. And you, you know, showed me exactly why this is sustainable. And why I should not doubt that I won't be able to... I've already replicated if not exceeded what I was bringing in at my day job. And I walked away from six figures for full transparency. And I am very much on track to make that happen again.

Sasha:

I think that like I talk a lot about that I almost positive I did an episode about this too about a mindset and having a business mindset and I don't think what Devin is describing isn't unusual. We we have had a lot of conversations where she was nervous and she wasn't sure if this was the right route. And I think that go a lot of that is solved by having systems in place where you can easily look at things like your numbers, right. Like Devin and I would, we would, I would always able to go back to, okay, let's look at your bookkeeping. Because this month you made X amount of dollars. If you get one more client, that's you, that's your paycheck from your day job, right? Like, you're right there anyway, and you're only putting in 20% of the time that you have to focus on this. Imagine if you are if you have 40 hours a week to focus on your business instead. And a lot of that was mindset work, right? Like getting into the mindset of being a business owner. We still have conversations where she bounces stuff off of me if she's making the right choice about things or how to respond to people. And I always make sure she always tells me what she thinks she should do first. And then I either just validate it, or I add my two cents. And in half, I would say 99% of the time, she knows what she should be doing. She's just sometimes a little unsure about it. And that's why you need to get yourself a business bestie because, that's what they're there for. They can help you walk through those problems that we aren't always sure about in our business. And we don't know we're making the right decisions. And I think having someone who can show you like, okay, here's the data like or, like, let's walk through this problem. For example, if we had a fire client, you know, like, it's like, okay, does this is this client really making sense? Let's talk about how much they're paying you. Let's talk about how much they're asking you to do. Let's go look at the contract that we signed with them. How do we get out of this in a way that works for both parties, like, you always want to have someone who can help you, if you don't know those answers yourself, who's going to be able to help you kind of walk through those decision making things and point to the things you have in place that are there to help you out. And so I'm happy that now you feel like you have all of these things in place.

Devin:

Yeah, I am actually glad you brought up mindset, because I didn't mention that. And that's probably one of the biggest things that have helped me. And you're you're very big about positive self talk. And just, you know, having that mentality that you will succeed, or that you know, just being confident in yourself in your own decisions. And I think that is a big part of why I took this leap too. Just being confident in this business that I've built. And knowing that, you know, I've put in all this work, I've worked with experts like yourself, to, to make sure that I'm in a place where I need to be to take this leap. And not boasting, but I just signed into Dubs and I've already made over $20,000, this year, and it's the beginning of March.

Sasha:

Februry's a short month.

Devin:

Yeah, and I made my goal for this year, it's $80,000. I'm obviously that's too low. But last year, my goal was, I think, $20,000 a month,

Sasha:

And we blew it out the water.

Devin:

We blew it out the water. And again, just with these minds, these these strategies that you helped me put into place like they, they do work. And initially I was like, you know, you may be afraid to let someone in that close to your business. Obviously not you because you knew everything regardless. But you know, if you may have doubts of hiring someone like that, like that's what you need those that outside set of eyes, because obviously you're gonna think what you put into place works, or it's working because you did it, but it might not be and that extra set of eyes will just help you optimize and grow. And I thank you, I really don't think I could be here without you. And this this first couple of days as a full time entrepreneur have just been amazing. Like

Sasha:

Because we also made sure that Devin has like a schedule. Like even before she took the leap outside of her job, it was like okay, let's make sure we have a schedule. Like how are we going to plan our days? How are we going to organize our days? And you know, it's, it's not so much... obviously my my personality is very different from Devin like the way that I manage my time and the way that I frame things and how I view things is very different than Devin's is and but I think despite that even if you have like someone who can tell you okay, like let's think about these things. You have to do them 100% like me. Like I don't expect Devin to be type A like I am she doesn't function that way that doesn't work for her. But here's some things to think about and set it up in a way that works best for you. And that's essentially what we did in her business. Like we would come up with goals every month and I you know I check in with her at the beginning of every month do we do our goals for the month yet? Like I still do this with her. Because having those types of those activities in your business. I call them CEO things your CEO days. Like looking at the big picture, looking at what is my overall goal. So Devin said she has a goal of $80,000 it's probably too low. But that's her goal. How do we get there? How many clients is that a month? How much...How many clients do I have right now? How many more do I need to book in order to make that make sense at the end of the year? And then once I know those numbers, how do I work back from that? Am I promoting my service? Am I networking, like doing all of those things, and that's something that Devin and I have done consistently on a month to month basis since we started working together. And I think it's because of that, and and this is where the caveat of hiring someone to help you comes in. You have to be able to put in the work like you have obviously done a lot of work on your business, you take in the things that I have suggested, even if they may have seemed hard or a little scary, or like, I don't know, like just like, oh, I don't know, if I want to So because I always promote my friends, and I love them so do this, maybe they made you feel uncomfortable, you still much. Thank you so much Devin for being on the show. If you are in the market for social media management, Devin and her were always willing to trust the process. And like, but you did team are amazing. And I say that as both a client and as someone the work behind it to make it make things happen? Because I who has worked on Devin and her business. And I know that if you can tell these, obviously, I talk about these things in my work with Devin, she will give you the utmost, wonderful client podcasts all the time. And if you're not putting in the work experience because I taught her how to. And it will be a smooth process. If you decide to work with her. You can find her at behind it, not everyone's able to leave their job, within a creativegravityllc.com and then Creative Gravity LLC on social year, within two years of starting their business. That's media. She posts a lot of useful tips and things like that on her not something that happens for a lot of people. And I don't want social media about how to grow organically because we don't pay for bots on these parts. So she teaches a lot about how to grow to say that's the reality for a lot of people either. I don't organically in your business. She also has a hashtag freebie want people to get their hopes up. But with that being said, if on her website, she has a calendar that you can sign up you do the work on your business, then you are capable for the for all of the important like social media dates to help you with your planning every month. And then Devin and I also of achieving a lot of things in your business. So I think Devin do essentially every other month, every other every other month is a testament to that.

Devin:

webinars, April 27.

Sasha:

Thank you so much. The next one is April 27th, where we talk about how to take my big and mind mapping and pair it and tie it into creating social media and batch creating content for your business. So I will put that in the show notes for everyone. But thank you so much for being on the show. And I'm so happy for your business.

Devin:

Thank you.

Sasha:

Thank you. And I guess with that I will see or you guys will hear me next Tuesday for another episode. So thank you Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website at www.by-sasha.com. If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review. It really helps other people find the show. And of course, following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social? I'm on Instagram and Facebook at Strategy By Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.