There is no doubt that social media has become an intrinsic part of modern society. Australians in particular are some of the most active social media users in the world, with a report showing that around 50% of the population logged onto Facebook at least once a day, in January 2020.
The same report revealed that Aussies also love their visual platforms with around 15 million Australian visitors to YouTube every month, and over 9 million active users on Instagram.
When viewed on a global scale, this presents an opportunity for online creators to build and market their personal brand to a large audience from the comfort of their own home.
These online creators are often referred to as Social Media Influencers as when they have established credibility within their industry, they are able to persuade others due to their authenticity and reach.
With over 102k followers on Instagram and 132k subscribers on YouTube, Christie Swadling knows a thing or two about turning social media into a career.
Christie, age 23, describes herself as a social media entrepreneur, health and wellbeing advocate and content creator. However, first and foremost Christie says she is a creative, “I like to add a sense of creativity in there because that is the fundamental reason I started my YouTube channel. Of course, I want to help people, but what motivates me is the creative side of things as well.”
Her personal brand and original content creation thrives on Instagram, YouTube and TikTok, as well as her podcast ‘Yo Balance Co’, which, as the name suggests, is to encourage and help people find their balance and live their best lives.
Christie’s social media career started with a Facebook video about her struggle with eating disorders, meant for her friends and family, going viral in 2014. Almost 6 years later the video, entitled ‘Anorexia Nervosa almost killed me’ has amassed almost 5 million views on YouTube and Christie posts regular weekly content, featuring brand deals with fashion and lifestyle companies such as Princess Polly, Ryder Activewear and Women’s Best.
Christie shares her 5 Top Tips For Building A Successful Online Brand
When starting your online brand, Christie says your focus should be on being different. “Focus on being different, doing what you love and finding your ‘Why?”
She stresses the importance on focusing on your content rather than follower count, saying, “nobody is going to follow you if you don’t provide any value.”
When it comes to content creation Christie suggests building a game plan, and asking yourself, “what do you want to blog about? Do you want to get into health? Fashion? Find what is going to make you different and find a niche that you can continue to follow so that your content isn’t all over the place.”
She stresses the importance of remembering that, “when it comes down to it, people go to a video, for example, for either information or entertainment. So if you can give them both then you are more likely to succeed and gain a bigger audience”.
While these days, with Influencer brand deals and free press trips, it is clear that it is more than possible to create income through social media. However, Christie suggests, that when you start out, accruing an income should not be your main focus.
She says, “when I first started, I would constantly provide free value to people. I’d be giving them recipes, free mini eBooks, even just information and tips on my YouTube channel.”
“Don’t focus on selling, selling, selling straight up. You need to focus on providing free value and gaining the trust of your audience.
In an industry constantly evolving and changing, it seems that those who are thriving within this career path are experts with technology and knowing exactly what their audience wants.
However, Christie busts this myth, encouraging people not to wait around until they “know everything” and feel comfortable but to accept the inevitability of failure and just doing it anyway.
She says, “When you are starting an online business or an online career, there is no written manual in what to do or how to do it so you are going to doubt yourself. But, it’s about constantly breaking through that barrier and being able to have that little bit of self-belief.”
For people wanting to start out she says, “it’s important to believe in yourself and trust yourself even if you do fail. Because the thing is, it doesn’t really matter how many times you fail. It’s about going into this industry, accepting failure, accepting that it’s going to be uncomfortable and accepting that you have no idea what you’re doing, but just to do it anyway.”
When Christie first made social media her full-time career in 2017 (with around 40k followers), she wasn’t generating a significant impact from YouTube or Instagram. Instead, she relied on the revenue generated from her healthy eating eBooks and her online health coaching.
She highlights the importance of establishing income across a variety of projects and platforms to reduce risk.
Christie says, “especially when you are just starting out, if you put all your eggs in one basket and that fails you have nothing to fall back on.
“Within this industry [having multiple revenue streams] is almost like a safe zone because we all have bills to pay, so to be able to have all different revenues it’s okay to fail in one area because you can fall back on all these other things.”
As such, she says you’re able to make decisions that you wouldn’t normally make if you were relying on that project as your soul source of income.
“Even now, I don’t just rely on one certain platform or one brand or even just my website. It’s about having all these different revenue streams”, she says.
The social media industry is a constantly changing domain. Not only do certain features of the platforms change, such as the likes system on Instagram last year, but the algorithms change as well which affects reach and views.
When it comes to staying on top of these changes in order to maintain a successful brand, Christie says due to these variations, “you will go through phases where you will lose audience then you will gain audience, or you will lose likes or you will gain likes. It just happens, it’s inevitable. But there are little things, like the fundamentals of the algorithm that I will always be wary of.
“These include the time that you post, making sure you engage with your audience, and being consistent” she says.
Christie recommends playing around with these fundamentals to figure out what works best and what you can do to attract the most engagement.
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