Please welcome to our weekly Girl Boss Blog series of female entrepreneurs from around the world. With these blogs, we hope to inspire women globally to follow their dreams & become the best versions of themselves.
So today, our guest is Karen, a Girl Boss who is a digital consultant, growing brands with social media marketing
& content strategy from a WiFi connection in Sydney. Let's hear Karen's story & how she took her business online
Q - So Karen, thank you for you time - please tell us more about what your business is and where is it based?
I’m a freelancer specialising in social media, digital marketing and content. I also teach social media and consult. Most of my work is done remotely but my home base is Sydney, Australia.
Q - So you work with start ups, that's a pretty exciting journey in any new business journey. What do you offer to a completely brand new start up?
Startups have no choice but to focus on keeping their business alive each and every second. Most of the time with limited resources as well. My job is to help them set a strategy for the longer term and structure behind the work involved to truly leverage their social media without burning their resources (time, money, content).
Q - Do you think every new business should be on social media and why?
Yes - it all comes down to the nature of their business to decide how much of an impact social will be for their business. For example, an online retailer may invest more time and resources into social because they can turn a community into customers through online conversion. Whereas a local bakery may not invest in the same amount of time, but still rely on social to get exposure and customer content to repost.
Q - Every so often, you said you will leave Australia to travel and work, where do you normally go & how do you balance travel and working online?
I love exploring parts of South East Asia. Many of these places are a combination of old versus new worlds, still developing and there’s the opportunity to become a little more grounded and grateful when I finally go home. Canggu in Bali is a favourite of mine – no surprise there. It is the perfect place for digital nomads who love the island life, but it’s still a distance away from the bustling likes of Seminyak.
Q - Tell us more about the type of consultations you give?
Most of my consultations focus on social media and business in general for startups. I help people come up with the right approach and plan of attack for a specific amount of time – anywhere from 6 to 12 to 24 months. A lot of growing businesses find it hard to set a clear vision so it’s all about giving them the confidence and assurance to go forth and conquer.
Q - So tell us why you chose this kind of lifestyle and does it work for you this far?
I loved my previous job, I was running social media for THE ICONIC, Australia’s largest online fashion retailer – that’s a dream job for a lot of people! But I wanted to grow and find happiness in my way, which meant having to explore and do things differently – to be able to consciously learn and make my own judgements on what I really want (not what I thought I wanted based on my surroundings). The best part about this lifestyle is that I’m always on my toes and always living in the moment. This lifestyle does work, but it’s a lot of dedication, motivation and setting your own kind of structure – it’s not for everyone.
Q - What are the pros & cons of the job you do & the lifestyle of a digital nomad?
The top pro is simply being able to work from anywhere as long as I have my laptop and wifi. When I’m in Sydney, I’m always discovering new cafes to work from – you can call me a coffee pro now. Another perk is being able to go to my yoga class during the quieter times and beating the usual crowds. The main downside is that it sometimes does get a little too quiet working on your own, which is why I can’t just work from home. It also does get exhausting it you happen to have projects due around the same time – no matter how good you are at time management! But there are certainly more pros than cons, otherwise I wouldn’t still be doing it.
Q - Would you recommend others to start a business online and live this way?
Yes – if they have the right reasons. A lot of people say to me “yeah, screw working for the man, I don’t want someone telling me what to do” when they learn about what I do, and that’s when I tell them it’s not the point. I may not have a boss but I still have clients and others I collaborate with – there will always be hiccups and disagreements. Overall, I try to live by the Japanese phrase Ikigai – which is very similar to the French term “raison d’etre”, basically trying to live the most happy and wholesome life I can.
Q - Seeing as you work with start ups, tell us about a few cool start ups you've worked with and their business concept.
They are so different! One of my favourite startups is Trefiel (www.trefiel.com), a Melbourne-based skincare brand. I joined them when they were about 12 months old to help them grow in the areas of customer experience, marketing and campaigns. We worked so well remotely and we even did a photo shoot in Bali! Another awesome start up is BRICKX – completely different industry. They’re disrupting the property investment in Australia using fractional investment and social media was a huge platform for them to build credibility within the market.
Q - Tell us a few secrets about Instagram that we may not already know about.
If anyone ever tells you they’ve got the key to growing Instagram instantly, ignore them. I do believe that if you hammer it home with what Instagram is about – creativity, community, showcasing what you love and telling stories, then you will eventually see a shift in your Instagram page. My only tip for brands (and people) is to focus more on the value of each post (versus fixating on the look of your page), because each post must be worthy to appear on someone’s feed so make sure it’s relevant.
Q - What would you say are the top social media apps to follow this year and why?
The key is to expand our thinking from social to mobile. I’d say some of the top things to explore are how we’re building communities on the top platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Similar to Snapchat, Instagram now allows you to watch live stories based on a location, hashtag etc. Groups have returned to Facebook with more value than pages (think Cool Dog Group, Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine), and Snapchat has topical/location filters that encourage people to contribute to a curated story – I wonder how all of these will evolve. Let’s not forget other kinds of communities either like Spotify. And lastly, if you rely on finding opportunities yourself, LinkedIn is a thriving pot of opportunities.
Q - What kind of books/blogs do you read and which would you recommend to those who want to live the life of their dreams?
I follow a lot of startup, business groups (LMBDW, Australian Community Managers) and I also follow blogs by related businesses like Hootsuite, Vamp, Techly. I love creative and unconventional books like Think Like a Freak by the guys who brought us Freakonomics and The 4-Hour Work Week, of course.
Q - Do you think anyone can do it?
Yes, anyone can do it with the right attitude.
Q - What would you say to inspire someone to start their own business and live life on their own terms?
Whatever it is you want to do, you have the right to give it a shot. Also remember that success shouldn’t always be measured based on just milestones. For example, success for me could mean landing a new talk, but it could easily also mean not having to wear corporate clothes! Appreciation is key.
Q - You've done this job for about 8 months, do you think this is a long term thing?
I’m not sure if the situation is permanent, but my approach to exploring new things is definitely long-term. I won’t stop trying new things for a long, long time!
Q - You're involved with General Assembly - tell us more about this platform and what jobs do you do for them?
General Assembly is a worldwide community offering education and career development in skills that traditional educational institutions may not provide. They’re great for areas like UX, digital marketing upskilling, entrepreneurship etc. I teach workshops at GA focusing on social media strategy for startups and small businesses.
Q - What's your ultimate dream/goal?
I think it’s the same as most – my dream is to eradicate the struggles of work/life balance and be able to sustain myself doing what I love and still having all the time in the world for the things that matter – health, family, friendships and travel.
Q - What other jobs out there could be done that involve social media?
Successful social media requires skills from many areas: Photographer, graphic designer, data analyst, social media advertising, videographer, writer – the list goes on!
Q - Very briefly, tell us what a great Instagram account should look like?
A great Instagram account keeps things simple – ever noticed how you follow specific pages for specific reasons? We sometimes tend to forget about that when we have to run an account ourselves. There will always be simple themes, consistent creative direction (but that doesn’t always mean strict colour themes!), and engaging captions that are either meaningful, entertaining or relatable.
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