Jessica Abel’s background as an author led her to assume that mass marketing and a large audience was the ONLY way to succeed as a business owner; Thankfully, she finally figured out that her business models needed to first pay her bills, and THEN she could make decisions about audience and marketing style.

In this week’s episode, Jessica (she/her) and I discuss:

  • How to think about choosing a business model, and why/when you may choose one over another
  • Choosing a  business model that allows you to make more money in less time
  • Working with fewer clients for more money versus working with more clients for less money
  • Figuring out how social media fits into your marketing – what do you need it to do for you?

A little bit about Jessica:
Jessica Abel (she/her) is a graphic novelist, author, creative business coach, and the founder of Autonomous Creative, a coaching company that helps mid-career creative professionals build businesses that can pay their bills AND honor their creativity. Abel founded the company in response to the ever-greater struggle creatives face in making a living. Pushing back on the “starving artist” mythology, Abel focuses on business fundamentals, stripped of jargon and adapted to the unique needs of creative professionals, and puts the tools of making real money in less time—without creative compromise—into the hands of the artists, writers, and entrepreneurs who need them. 

Read the full transcript

Jessica Abel 0:00
For many people, what they’re doing with a service based business is they’re trying to create a lightweight business that takes only some of their time. So they can do whatever they want in the studio or the writing desk. And they don’t have to worry about whether that makes money or not, it still helps their business because it builds credibility for what it is that they can do. But it doesn’t have to be directly monetizable or monetized. And that’s so freeing for people. So that’s a huge part of what I do. And huge motivation for me is to free up creative people to make whatever work they want to make by making sure they can bring in the money they need in a reasonable amount of time.

Meg Casebolt 0:36
You’re listening to social slowdown a podcast for entrepreneurs and micro businesses looking for sustainable marketing strategies without being dependent on social media. I’m your host, Meg Casebolt. And I have a new book coming out called Social slowdown. It’s taking all of the 80 plus interviews that we’ve done so far in this podcast series, and turned it into something that’s a little bit more easily digestible. It will be available on July 27 2023. And it’ll only be $4 on Kindle and $9. On paperback. So I would love, love, love, if you could support the podcast by going on Amazon and buying the book. If you preorder it, I would especially appreciate that because that would help us get to a best seller status. Even if you don’t read it. That’s okay. So if you want to get your copy of the social slowdown book, head on over to social and get that today. And now let’s get back to the podcast, which is all about finding creative, sustainable ways to engage with your audience without needing to lip sync, send cold DMS, run ads or be available 24/7. Let’s get started. Hey, hello, and welcome to the social slowdown pockets. I am so excited today to have Jessica Abel. Hey, Jessica.

Jessica Abel 1:56

Meg Casebolt 1:58
Um, you and I work together several times. But I would love if you could tell our listener, what is it that you do? What’s your business?

Jessica Abel 2:05
My business is autonomous, creative, I am a business coach for creatives. I guess that’s where I’ve landed at this point. But that encompasses a few different things. And where I come from is sort of product management for highly creative people who are trying to do really big things that they don’t have any deadlines for, you know, nobody is watching them. Nobody’s making them do this. And they really want to finish these big things. And so that’s where I started. And I’ve evolved into doing business coaching for highly creative people with very non standard does not fit in a box kind of businesses. And really, that my approach is really sort of bottom up from like, what is the business model? Is it designed to support the person sustainably? How can they take these amazing creative skills they have and put them to use in a way that will actually make them feel safe enough to do the creative stuff they want to be doing? You know?

Meg Casebolt 3:07
Absolutely. Especially when, you know, art and creativity can be so subjective. And so I’m sure that you’re in addition to saying like, Okay, you went to art school, and your professors said that you did a good job, or you have this this talent that you can cultivate and monetize. Like, there’s also probably a lot of like, but how do you make money doing that? And how do you how do you organize your things? And how do you price your offers? And like there’s so much that goes into running a creative business beyond just, oh, I’m gonna slap some paint on a canvas, not to be too crass about it. But like, Yeah, more than just to be a business owner.

Jessica Abel 3:48
Absolutely. It’s an entire skill set. And to be clear, I don’t work very often with fine artists. I work with people who are doing it like I have a client who’s a podcaster. And he teaches podcasting. I have a client who’s a grief coach, I have a client who makes bass guitars, I have a client who is a portrait painter, a silversmith. A writer who is helping people write more creatively, an artist who is helping people with creative, you know, his coaching, creativity and putting other artists, you know, a whole range of things. But they are they do tend to be service based businesses, not product based businesses, which it may not seem that way. But a fine art business is a product business, like you create a thing and you try to find a market for it. And I work with people, even people who are fine artists on developing a service based business leveraging their skill set that makes room for whatever work they want to make. Because a lot of times what happens is people and I think what you said just now gets to that. A lot of times people what they learn what they absorb is that whatever they’re good at in the creative fields, that’s what they need to quote unquote monetize. That’s what they need to make money from. And number one, it’s often extremely difficult to impossible to make enough money from something like say you’re really into quilting or crochet or something like that, to make enough money from handmade objects, beautiful objects that you are devoted to, and just do these, this amazing work to just sell those things and make enough money to support yourself comfortably is verging on impossible. And basically, what happens then is people’s perception of their work and their relationship with their work gets distorted, because it’s all supposed to make money. It’s all supposed to be something that is fully oriented towards commerce and and, you know, sales, and they’re thinking about markets and thinking is this going to make you know, is this the thing that’s going to make money this thing’s going in, they’re constantly scrambling for money. And it just makes their relationship with their creativity extremely fraught. And, and this is not true. In all cases, for example, the guy I work with who makes bass guitars, that’s what he does, he makes it that’s his art. And it’s also his service, right. But for many people, what they’re doing with a service based business is they’re trying to create a lightweight business, that takes only some of their time. So they can do whatever they want in the studio, or you know, at the writing desk, and they don’t have to worry about whether that makes money or not. It still helps their business because it builds the credibility for what it is that they can do. But it doesn’t have to be directly monetizable or monetized. And that’s so freeing for people. So that’s a huge part. It’s, you know, segment of what I do, but it’s a huge part of what I do. And huge motivation for me is to free up creative people to make whatever work they want to make, by making sure they can bring in the money they need, in a reasonable amount of time.

Meg Casebolt 6:45
Yeah, I just had coffee with somebody yesterday, who is a hand illustrator. And she made a lot of strides in her business as a hand illustrator. And she started licensing her artwork. And then she created a course, about how to license your artwork that supports her so that she can get back into doing what she loves. So having that sort of balance of you can teach people something or you can have that service, but you don’t need the work to pay your bills necessarily. And that also reminds me you know, I’m sure you hear this all the time. But like Liz Gilbert’s book, Big Magic where it’s like she until she wrote, Eat, Pray, Love, she was like, I’m still a waitress, because I don’t want to have to make my writing. Like, be the thing that supports me, which is so difficult when you’re a primary identity as as that creative force,

Jessica Abel 7:37
it can be difficult, but I think that if you So what she did, I think I totally admire that and think it’s great. On the other hand, being a waitress is really demanding job, not very well paid. And so my focus for people is, let’s find something that will pay you better, faster. So you can work fewer hours at it and make enough money to pay for the time that you need. And sometimes for some people in certain periods of life that time is for just for themselves or for their kids or for whatever. And there’s certainly lots of entrepreneurs who have businesses that they’ve designed to take less time, because they want to be home with their kids or something else, right. It’s the same principle. But then a chunk of that time for artists is for their studio, you know, and I think that it’s very common to for creative people coming through, especially if they come through art school, or liberal arts or whatever, to absorb this message that if they’re not making money from their art directly, they’re not real, the real thing. You know, they’re not really artists, it’s not true, they’re not good. And that, of course, is bullshit. And then the other piece of that is that the jobs that people get frequently, they try to stay in something really close to what they do. So they’ll I don’t know work in an art center teaching classes to adults or to children or something like that, or they’ll work in a gallery or they’ll waitress or they’ll do something, you know, that sort of contingent and lightweight and whatever. The problem is, none of that stuff is well paid. And so you end up working zillions of hours having multiple jobs. You know, editing for colleges is a situation where many artists are like, that’s their vision, right? I want to teach, I want to I want to be a professor I want to teach. But adjunct Ting is like a road to nowhere in terms of money in terms of taking care of yourself and so many people I know who are that adjunct, his main thing they do, they’ve got, you know, six classes at three different schools and no time and no energy for their own work. So we tried to do something different, you know, I think it’s really important. And so that’s, you know, I start from your needs, I start from how much money do you need to make and try to get people to super, super honest about what that number really looks like, as scary as it might be. Look at in the eyes and know what that number is? So that you can work for From there, how much time do you have? How much money do you need? What other needs? Do you have? What you know, neurological differences might you have, you need to work around? What family members need help from you what scheduling things need to happen, all those kinds of things. Start there, and design from that as the pattern for what your business looks like, which is the inverse of what I mean, most people do, especially, you know, in general, but especially creative people, when they’re working professionally, they start from I want to make a thing, how can I make that make money, and they’re trying to force that, you know, the thing they want to make, and the money they need to kind of come together, and they’re like, magnets of the same polarity, they just bounce off each other. Like, it doesn’t just doesn’t gel, you know, and instead, okay, you know, you have 20 hours a week, you can do this, you need to make, whatever, $80,000 a year. And whatever, you start from there, and you just do some simple math, and you figure out what, what rate do you need to make? How many clients do you need? And of course, what the, what the work is, is also tricky, you know, what are you actually doing? But when you’re leveraging, and I’m usually working with people are mid career, you know, they’re in their 30s to 40s or 50s. You know, they’re not starting out at this, they have amazing skill sets. So leveraging that somehow into a service offer is the job right? That’s where you figure out like, what is the thing that I can do? Where there’s enough of a market enough people who want this thing? Who are I can charge this amount that I need to charge in order to have a business that functions?

Meg Casebolt 11:38
Yeah, and not be, you know, working all the time at all these different places and, and putting so much pressure on the creativity. I love that. And you said specifically, one of the things you said at the beginning is like you started from a place of project management. And I’m sure that that fits in now too, which is how much time can you spend on the business? And then also have time to dedicate to the creative work?

Jessica Abel 12:03
Yeah. And how do you make sure the creative work still happens? Yeah, yeah. Yeah, exactly. Yeah, I do that all the time. I still talk about all that time, and it still works into basically everything. It’s like, how do you? How do you create a habit for your creative work? How do you create a habit for your business? How do you make sure that these things happen in your schedule? How do you deal with unexpected interruptions and disruptions of daily life? Which happen all the time anyway? You know, there’s no, you can’t stop those things from happening. How do you look at the list of things that you have in front of you that you think you want to do and make some smart decisions about those things? What really is going to serve you what’s not, you know, what just needs to wait, you might want to do in the future, but you just can’t do it right now. So that things can actually get finished and get out the door? Yeah.

Meg Casebolt 12:55
So how do people find you, you know, especially since you’re using this terminology around, I’m a business coach for creatives, but then even I who have worked with you was like, Oh, I’m not necessarily certain if these are our product businesses or service businesses and what this creative mean, and so how are people finding you and realizing like, oh, Jessica, this is the person I’ve been looking for?

Jessica Abel 13:17
That’s a good question. How are people finding me? Um, there are a number of ways that people find me

Meg Casebolt 13:26
referrals, I’m guessing a lot of your folks probably come from referrals. Yeah.

Jessica Abel 13:32
Some come from referrals. But you know, the thing is that, that people who are sort of in that mid career place, and they have that realization of like, I have to do this differently, I really need to get this together. And I can’t do this anymore. This way, I want to start a business. It’s not a common thing. So a lot of people I know, they don’t necessarily know, somebody else who’s also going through the same thing. Like they’re at the same point. So surprisingly, I think referrals are referrals are big for the productivity and project management side, the executive function side, essentially. But on the business side, I haven’t found them to be a huge I do I use borrowed audiences a lot. You know, I mean, I come to podcasts and talk about what I do. I do workshops for you know, in person, and also online. I have one in particular on pricing that I’ve done a number of times, that does exactly what I’m talking about where we start from your real numbers. And of course, you don’t have the opportunity to do like, figure out all of your numbers in the room with me, but demonstrate how this works, you know, and I use people’s real numbers, they give me examples, and I demonstrate how this all plays out. And that’s a big kind of like, whoa, moment for a lot of people the questions immediately are, how do I charge that much? Who would Who the hell would ever pay me that? You know, all those kinds of things and it leads straight into what I do, which is I offer design and and business model development and marketing plans for people who are working, you know, who are going to be doing high end service offers? So relationship marketing principles. Yeah. So I will frequently end up with finding clients through that through that kind of work where I do something I demonstrate what I’m talking about, and then somebody will raise their hand and say, oh, yeah, that that is what I’ve been looking for.

Meg Casebolt 15:32
I need, yeah, but you have to get in front of them first, which can be the hardest thing is,

Jessica Abel 15:36
it’s very difficult. Yeah, it’s very difficult to find, because the people who I have, and I’m, I absolutely am open to working with and would love to work with people who are very creative, but don’t identify as this kind of like, you know, way at the end of the spectrum, you know, super creative art school, whatever, you know, I love working with people who are, you know, have designed businesses or whatever, like in the middle in terms of that. But getting in front of groups of people like that is really difficult, because they don’t gather anywhere, they don’t go together, anywhere. It’s the it’s not easy. But yeah, that’s the main thing. And I’ve been out there doing my own work for long enough and doing especially the creative focus workshop work. That, you know, I have a book called Growing gills that’s about creative focus, and, you know, project management and productivity and stuff like that, for creative people, and I have my own books, comics and books out there. And people kind of come into my world that way, to a certain extent. But yeah, it’s I mean, at this point, I’m working one to one with people. And so I don’t need a lot of people to find me right now. And so it’s been interesting, I’ve been going through a pivot, basically, from focusing on My Courses, to focusing on coaching work. And it feels weird to not have to launch like, not have to launch and not have to, like, here it is September, and I’m not doing anything. You know, I’m doing this, I’m talking to you, which is very important, but I’m not like, up to my neck in some ridiculous pre launch thing.

Meg Casebolt 17:18
Writing all the emails and driving people to the webinar and doing the workshops, and converting sales calls and all the things like, I feel like there’s a, there’s a benefit to having a more leveraged business model. Because if you have a larger audience, you don’t have to charge as much it’s less time intensive on a one to one basis. But like all the marketing efforts that go into it can be so exhausting in their own way. You know?

Jessica Abel 17:45
Yeah. And I really, yeah, one of the things that I’ve realized, as I’ve gone through this process over the last couple years of moving into more like a coaching model, is I’ve worked for a lot of different people over the years, and gotten a lot of really good instruction and coaching from people. And I don’t want to crap on anybody that I worked with. But nobody ever walked me through how to think about a business model. And why one would choose some kind of business model over some other kind of business model. Everybody all started from everybody I’ve worked with, except for Michelle Warner started from what is you? What are you doing already? That what business model do you already have? And let’s both improve it, implement some tactics to kind of try to make that work. And sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t, but there’s never going back to the base the basics and saying like, Okay, what do you actually how much time do you have? How much money do you need to make? Is this the right business model for you get back to those structural underpinnings and say, you know, like, the whole thing of, I was an author, right? I was a cartoonist and an author. And I was trying to make that business model work. Not even knowing there wasn’t such a thing as a business model, or that I had won, or it but it sucked, right. Trying to be an author is just really, really hard. Yeah, it’s really hard. And I was, I think, quite successful in a midlist kind of way. But it just was, I was, yeah, I couldn’t do it anymore. And so I was like, I had this revelation through working with people through Tara McMullen and some other people by talk to you about this idea of a business model. And I was like, oh, I need to be doing something, or make more money for less time. Oh, oh, wow. So that was that was step one. That was like 20.

Meg Casebolt 19:39
And probably like when you were coming out of the author, comic book, illustrator space, it was a lot of like, well, I have to create more so I can sell to more people so I can get in front of bigger spaces instead of like, oh, but maybe I can work with fewer people for more money. Like there’s a big mindset shift that have It’s in terms of like, leverage scale versus raise price.

Jessica Abel 20:06
Yes, yes, that’s exactly it. I mean, it’s both things. Because one thing was I started, I started building the course, the credit focused workshop, which, you know, was very low priced initially. And it’s still modestly priced. But it’s way more than the dollar I get from selling a book, right? So it’s much more Oh, well,

Meg Casebolt 20:26
I make so much money from my books, I make $2.74 of every ebook. And $3.37 off of my paper, yeah,

Jessica Abel 20:33
I actually have a self published book too. And in that, for that book, I make something similar, like maybe $4, for a print book, and $2, whatever. So I’ve made some money from that. It’s nice, fine, but it’s not support a family of four in Philadelphia money. So I switched, you know, I switched to running a course business. And I think you were saying something about, like, as an author, you think about just getting bigger, bigger, bigger audience. And I think that’s true that there’s a sort of preconception for me that success looks like one too many, you know, that it just comes out of my 25 years as an author, like, that’s what you do, you try to get to more people. And you’re sort of speaking out to, like, groups, you know. And so that was a hard thing to break. What nobody told me at the time was like, how much work it is to run a course business and all of this sort of fear mongering around trading dollars for hours. If you’re not trading dollars for hours directly? In a course business, your trading hours for like lottery tickets, you don’t know what’s going to happen? Yeah, you know, it’s, it’s not necessarily better. It’s not necessarily passive income, or leveraged or whatever. It could just be that you’re spending a whole bunch of time and not really getting paid well for it, which in my business over the years was sometimes the case. And sometimes I was getting paid. It wasn’t always, it wasn’t steady, you know, I didn’t know, launch to launch month to month. It wasn’t like on a steady rise. It wasn’t, you know what I mean, there was never a moment where I was like, I could take my foot off the gas. And so that was something where I finally learned about how a business model works, and how to think through what kind of business model I would want, given my goals. And that’s what’s led me where I am now. Now, I like working with groups, I do like having a larger, you know, course, like I like cohorts, all that kind of stuff, I could see doing that, again, I haven’t rolled it out. But just in terms of having a sort of a livable wage, and like our livable way of existing in the world, I needed to get to this point, and it took way too long. There’s just way too little information about how this actually works.

Meg Casebolt 22:47
It’s like, very few people, it feels like our business coaches who say, Let’s build a business that supports you versus let’s build a business. That is what I have done. Let me teach you how to do what I have done. And if you do what I did, then you will have the same level of success. Even if you’re working with a different type of audience, even if you’re serving a different industry. There’s this sort of cookie cutter approach to so much that it can be really frustrating to find, to like stumble around in the dark, you know,

Jessica Abel 23:26
that’s what it felt like. Yeah. And I again, it’s simpler, it’s easier, it’s more straightforward to move from doing the thing you do to teaching the thing you do. I get it, you know, but it doesn’t necessarily serve people. So in any audience you have for a big group program where you’re teaching your own methodology and your own approach, some percentage of those people are going to be the right people, you know, and they’re going to benefit from that. And the majority of people are not, and then, you know, survivor’s bias your testimonials of people who did great. And so, you know, now I’m looking at my own history of the people I worked with, and I’m like, oh, that’s what happened. There were parts of what I was willing to do or was able to do with my audience or what was going to be possible for me that just weren’t like, there was going to be a mismatch. But nobody identified that for me as I was coming in saying like, Oh, well, look, you need to make sure you have this in place and this in place. Is this something that you have? Great, okay. All signs point to go, let’s do this. It was like, Sure, come on, in, you have the money,

Meg Casebolt 24:29
right, you have money you’re interested, then you will, we will take you there. There’s no screening or application process. Or even like, this is not a good fit for you if

Jessica Abel 24:38
or there is but it’s just too generalized. I mean, I, you know, the people I worked with, they did have screening processes, but the processes were like, you know, do you have a business with horses? Yes, I do. Okay, good. Let’s go. And that was not enough of a screening didn’t tell them enough in terms of knowing whether I was going to be a good fit or not,

Meg Casebolt 25:00
And so when you’re working with the creatives, like, where does social media fit into the ways that they’re selling and promoting and marketing? How does it fit into what it is that you’re doing and teaching, you know, how does social media fit into this entire landscape for you and your people?

Jessica Abel 25:18
So, so what’s interesting, I think about, again, creative people frequently. And this is, you know, they’re only, they’re just like everybody else in a lot of in a lot of senses. But possibly, it’s possibly even stronger the feeling that you need to be on social media and you need to be visible, you need to be building an audience, because you’re an artist, or a writer or whatever, creating things for individual people, you know, you’re creating to sell to people. And so you have to have an audience. And for many people that I work with, that’s extremely uncomfortable, just like it is for many people in the world to be visible, to try to talk about their work to promote themselves and so on, I actually have a course that I developed called authentic visibility that’s designed to address that for creative people, help them figure out how to say like, how to identify what to say that’s going to feel comfortable with them, and feel like they’re standing in their power and talking about themselves in a way that’s really feels good to them. And it does work. But it’s still just just the algorithms, the algorithm, and there’s just no getting around that if you want to build an audience on social media, you have to be there constantly. And for most people I work with, they want to be in the studio, they want it, they don’t want to be on social media constantly. Some do, that’s fine. Most of them don’t, most of them run screaming. And so the it’s a, it’s a, that’s kind of where people end up with me where they’re like, What do I do? You know, I need to make a living from my books, for example, but I don’t want to be on social media. And my answer is, that’s not going to happen. So let’s find another way to make a living. And then you can, you know, use leveraged Rutan, sort of middle of the spectrum relationships, tactics, like podcast appearances, and so on, maybe writing on medium or something, you know, something where you can get out to a larger audience, to build your audience. But without a commitment to that kind of mass marketing that most people are not willing to make, you’re not going to build the mass audience of like a mainstream author, like a high end commercial author. It’s not going to happen, especially these days, you know, when all of these platforms we’re using are very mature, and they’re not helping us at all, you know,

Meg Casebolt 27:39
unless you’re paying for and at which point, it’s offsetting the cost of, you know, it’s eating into your profits of your Sunday spending on ads.

Jessica Abel 27:47
Right? And does that even work? You know, does that work for low end products like that, like, you know, selling a book, and you’re gonna make, you know, $1 from it, by the way, most authors, myself included, do not earn out their advances, and they never see, if you’re working with a commercial publisher. You never see any royalties, because you get you make an advance, and then you have to pay that bat advance back dollar by dollar. So if you get a $20,000 advance, and you are paying your

Meg Casebolt 28:17
agent don’t sell $20,000 20,000 books don’t sell for $1 30,000

Jessica Abel 28:20
books. Yeah, you’re never gonna see another penny, from the book directly. Now, obviously, books are also an entree to speaking gigs into workshops, and whatever. There’s other ways that they can turn into income, or help you make income. But those are those are also businesses, you know, do you want to do that? So that question of like, how do I build an audience like, and when people are thinking an audience, they’re thinking a large audience, it’s going to buy a lot of things from me on social media. But I don’t really like social media, and I don’t want to be on social media. It’s just this like, Clash of worlds like it just doesn’t, doesn’t function. So yeah, it’s it’s an ongoing, it’s an ongoing issue. Because if people are not visible on social media, they feel like they’re failing as artists. If people are not responding to their work, they’re posting work. People are not saying anything or they’re not, you know, they’re not getting enough attention for that. They feel like it’s personal failing, they’re not really good. You know, it’s, it’s difficult. And I do know lots of people who have very large social media followings very active social media followings as artists, and that’s a big part of their identity. I mean, it’s important to them.

Meg Casebolt 29:29
And often a very large audience and a lot of followers and Big Reach and interactions are good and not a lot of money from that. Right? Like, just because you have a huge audience doesn’t mean that you’re making money from that audience you can create and you can get good feedback, and you can have people giving you positive reinforcement and then never $1

Jessica Abel 29:55
Yeah, and I think that I mean, I’m thinking of some people I saw yesterday, some fellow faculty who have really large social media followings. And I’m sure they make some sales to some of those people some of the time. But not, that’s not like a an income stream, you know, it’s sort of, it’s not a plan, you know, that’s not like a, that’s not a plan again, to support a family. And I, they’re both doing other things to make make ends meet. And I know that their social media followings are important to them. And it’s important to know that their work is landing, because that’s the other piece of it for artists is not just making sales, but feeling like you’re making an impact, and people are seeing your work and reacting to it, that it’s making a difference in their lives. And so that’s where building social media following even if you, you know, it’s not where you’re trying to make money can be worth it,

Meg Casebolt 30:50
you know, validation of your work, it can be thought leadership, it can be, you know, connecting with people, even if they don’t give you money to grow brand awareness to change the conversation, and building a

Jessica Abel 31:05
network with colleagues, you know, other people who are also on social media who are doing similar things, and you build networks that way. So there are reasons I think, that are legit for artists and writers and other creatives to be on social media and putting some energy into it. But I do know that the people I’ve worked with as a business coach, where they’re working on their businesses, very frequently will pull back on their social media presence, as they’re developing business, because they don’t need it for the business. That’s not what they’re, that’s not where they’re getting clients. And they still want to be on social media, because they want to sort of create that ecosystem of their work. And it does, you know, like I’m picking in one case, social media does actually bring her clients, because it brings people to her blog posts, and her blog posts bring her clients. And her her social media is popular if she didn’t get people like it a lot. A lot, I don’t know, but enough to keep it going. But it doesn’t, she doesn’t have to feed the algorithm, she doesn’t have to be an influencer. She doesn’t have to be social media maven, to make that work for her. I have another client who never gets clients from social media, but it’s very important for her to show up. Like, she puts some stuff on LinkedIn, and on Instagram, and she’ll just kind of post I don’t know, every few weeks or something. And it’s important for her to kind of be present in her community. But she doesn’t look to that for sales. So it really depends on the business and really depends, you know, some some businesses depend more on, like the cool factor, frankly, having people paying attention. Yeah. And even if that’s not how you make sales, it’s a it’s a social proof element. And some some businesses don’t they don’t need that. So it really depends, I think, yeah, it really depends on what you’re trying to do and what you’re trying to achieve.

Meg Casebolt 32:54
And I think that maybe is the key to figuring out how social media fits into your marketing is like, what do you need it to do for you? Is it driving sales? Is it you know, being a thought leader, a change maker in the space? Is it validating your ideas? Is it connecting with others and networking formats, and that maybe that’s part of the reason that people get so frustrated with it is we don’t have clear deliverables, KPIs outcomes attached to what we need it to do for us, we think it can do all of those things. But it doesn’t necessarily have to do all those things for our businesses to be successful.

Jessica Abel 33:31
Yeah, and I think for a lot of people that I work with, and, and for myself, I mean, I barely use social media at this point, I have all my accounts still active, they all exist. I haven’t said anything or done anything to say I’m closing, I’m leaving. But we just kind of don’t use them. And it hasn’t made much of a difference. But I do know that people do you know, people have found me via social media posts that I’ve made. But I’m just not willing to trade the amount of time and energy it takes for that, like the number of people who come to me from there is just too hard. It’s too much time. So it’s it is a dilemma. And dilemma isn’t a concept I talk about a lot in my work, the idea that when you’re making a choice between things, there are both positive and negative externalities on both sides or all sides, because it might be multiple, you know, factors you’re deciding on. And it is valuable to honestly look at both the positives and the negatives of all of those choices, and then consciously make the choice because then you feel a sense of control over it. You did it intentionally. So I’ve made the conscious choice to not bother with posting on social media, knowing that there’s a slight ding that I could be taking from that. But I also left them open because I’m like, Well, if I want to post I can post on my back. Yeah. And if we have an event or something live then we’ll post Exactly. Yeah, for a lot of people I work with there’s a lot of feeling of like I should I should Should so that’s really difficult. And B, people make the conscious choice to keep showing up and keep doing stuff because it’s because there again, there are non money reasons for that, you know, I think when people decide the people that I have worked with, and I do know that people do make money from selling stuff on social media somehow made somewhere, but like not to be why now, people I know, have not generally speaking, high financial success from social media. But there are reasons to stick with it. And I’m absolutely fine with that. I don’t try to talk anybody out of it, if that’s what they want to be doing.

Meg Casebolt 35:39
Well, I think that was a really helpful sort of nuanced approach to the marketing specifically around the you know, you’ve talked so much about business models, and it’s like some business models need to market this way. Some might not. So people want to find out more about you. If they want to figure out how they can work with you. What’s the best way to get in touch with you?

Jessica Abel 35:59
I think you just show up at my website, which is Jessica And plenty of ways to get in touch with me their contact form. I’d love to hear from anybody. I have a blog post about business models that kind of lays a lot of this stuff out that you could share potentially might be Hey, we’ll put that in the show notes for you. Yeah.

Meg Casebolt 36:19
All right. Sounds great. Thank you so much for being here today. I really appreciate your time. Just

Jessica Abel 36:23
thanks for having me. It was really fun.

Meg Casebolt 36:27
Thank you so much for listening to the social slowdown podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe or come on over to social and sign up for our email list so you never miss an episode. We’d also love if you could write a review to help other small business owners find the show you can head over to social Or grab that link in our show notes for easy access. We’ll be back soon with more tips to help you market your business without being beholden to social media. Talk to you then

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