When Jenn Herman saw an open opportunity in the marketplace to train on Instagram marketing, she jumped on it. She now runs a social media consultancy business and her blog, Jenns Trends has been awarded a Top 10 social media blog in both 2014 and 2015. Find out more about how she got her start, her turning point, but best of all...her advice!
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR START?
I started my blog in January of 2013, mostly because I wanted something else to do. I'm not one to sit idly by doing nothing on the weekends and even though I had a full time job (I still have this job on top of my own business, Jenn's Trends), I wanted to something to keep me busy. At the time, I was going through some challenges getting upper management at my company to understand the value of social media marketing and how it could be used to benefit our company. As I overcame these issues and explored the value of social media, I realized I could share these experiences with others. And so, sitting on my couch one random day, I said to my husband "I'm gonna start a blog". And I did. I had no idea what I was going to do or what I expected from it but I winged it and got it off the ground in one weekend. I have an extensive background in customer service and sales so the concepts of "marketing" on social media come naturally to me and the blog posts started flowing. I started writing about all things social media and my perspective on them. I had no strategy or content schedule though. That took a little while to develop. As I grew my audience and gained exposure, I realized I needed a more strategic approach and started focusing on my blog as more of a business and less of a hobby. And then, after endless urging from friends to finally get on Instagram, and realizing that I needed to understand this platform as a blogger, I hopped on the bandwagon. And I got hooked! I fell in love with Instagram and I wanted to learn more about how to use it as a marketing tool. But there was nothing of value out there for blog posts or tutorials. But here I was with a powerful platform in my blog and so I took it upon myself to create the content that was lacking from, well, everywhere. And within a relatively short period of time, I became the forefront blogger on Instagram marketing.
WHAT RISKS DID YOU TAKE?
One of the biggest risks I ever took was when I moved to California to pursue my education. I moved from Victoria, BC, Canada to San Diego not knowing a single person or having any idea what life would bring me. It was scary and exciting all at the same time. And although that was now 12 years ago, it was one of the best things I ever did because it gave me the opportunity to have this life and these experiences. I know I wouldn't be doing Jenn's Trends and running my own business if I hadn't taken that leap of faith back then. But, to be honest, I am so not a risk taker! I am not a gambler and freak out at the thought of "risk". I hyper analyze every single situation to assess all possible outcomes and determine my best course of action. And I think if I took a few more risks, maybe my business would be even further along. But, on the other hand, I love where I'm at with my business and my life and I'm grateful for the growth and opportunities I've had to get to where I am.
WHAT IS SOMETHING THAT SCARES YOU?
I'm honestly scared to take some bigger risks with my business. There are a number of things I want to do but that will require bigger financial investments, bigger time commitments, and development processes. But these would push me way out of my current comfort zone and the fear of them not paying off, financially and otherwise, are legitimate fears that still hold be back from taking the final leap. Especially now that I have a daughter and I want to provide stability and comfort above all else.
LOOKING BACK ON YOUR CAREER, WHAT WAS A MAJOR TURNING POINT FOR YOU?
When I started my business, I didn't have a strategy or real plan for a "business". I started my blog for fun more than anything and didn't apply any real business practices. Yes, I promoted my blog posts and put myself out there, but it wasn't with a strategic growth plan. Then in April 2013 I showed up at the hotel where Social Media Marketing World was being hosted (it's in my city so it was easy). I just wanted to meet some people I had met online and see what it was all about. But I had that epiphany moment when I realized that day that I wanted to do this - I wanted to be a speaker, and a person that people would hire to train them and build their businesses. I literally said "I will be on that stage one day" and two years later, in April 2015 I spoke at SMMW15. It was a huge achievement and validation of my goals. But it took me getting strategic and building out a real plan for building a business.
WHAT ARE THREE PIECES OF ADVICE YOU'VE RECEIVED THAT YOU'VE CARRIED WITH YOU THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER?
The biggest piece of advice I've had to "learn" and that I've carried with me is learning to say NO to people. This is something I still struggle with but I've learned that saying yes to everything doesn't help anyone or please everyone because I'm stretched too thin and can't do the things that matter most or do them nearly as well. It's ok to say no every now and then and focus on what is most important.
The second lesson that I live by is "when do you need this done?" Whether it's been at earlier jobs in my life or now in my own business, knowing when someone's due date is for a project is the key to success and prioritizing. Everyone's "soon" or "immediately" or "when you get to it" is a different definition. Don't settle for a vague response. Find out when they really need it done and plan accordingly.
Thirdly, and this is kind of a two-parter, you need to both believe in yourself and find the right team to support you. You have to be able to advocate for your own strengths and abilities and promote yourself. But to build that confidence we often need the right support behind us. This can be family, friends, co-workers, mentors, or others along your business path. Rely on them to strengthen your confidence in yourself so that you can put your best self out there for the most success.
While we all make mistakes, they are also our learning lessons so I don't dwell on my mistakes. But believe me, I've made them. I try to learn from them. Sure, I could say I wish I had done something earlier, or waited to do something else, or said something differently (or not at all), or not taken on a certain project or client. But if I had done those things differently, I wouldn't have learned those lessons and wouldn't have gotten to where I am today. I have to trust that when the next situation arises, I'll avoid that same mistake and make a better decision. But knowing that I will again make a mistake - I'm only human!