Three Mistakes Made by a Beginner Social Media Manager
We all have to start somewhere. For me, that start was three years ago after I watched an inspiring webinar about social media management. I knew I needed to change my circumstances, I dove in and started offering my services. How hard could it be? It's just posting on social media, right? We all do it.
Wrong. There's so much more to it than that. Aside from the genuine strategy involved in social media marketing, you're managing a business whether you're freelancing your services or running an agency. And managing a business requires time, effort, and an acquired set of skills. I didn't possess a Master of Business Administration or have a single business course under my belt at the time. As a result, I was truly stumbling through my business operations and toward my goals. I think a lot of entrepreneurs learn business lessons the hard way, and I was no exception.
Three mistakes I made when I started my social media management business:
1. I had zero boundaries when it came to clients:
Since the launch of my business in 2017, my clients have been priority number one. This is still true to this day; however, I've learned the importance of enforcing boundaries when it comes to providing them a service and making myself available to them.
When I first started getting clients I would drop what I was doing to respond to their messages, emails, and answer their calls at any time of day. I'd be eating dinner, spending time with my family, sleeping, or just getting up and it didn't matter. My clients were a higher priority than my own well-being. At the time this felt like the right thing to do. I knew that prioritizing them at all costs would result in positive client retention.
What I didn't know is that I could achieve positive client retention without having to sacrifice my morning routines or time with my family. This can be achieved by forming meaningful client relationships and offering a valuable service, all while only responding during my work hours with the exception of an emergency.
Having no boundaries with clients also meant I didn't know how to say no to their requests. As a result, I found myself deleting, remaking, and reposting content for the particularly picky clients. Not knowing how to say "no" to a client (or anyone) can result in 1) a lot of resentment and 2) a lot of time and energy expended in minor details.
Mostly, not setting boundaries has lead to me spending more time trying to please a client than producing effective, high-quality content. At the end of the day, this reflected poorly on my business.
Throughout the past three years, I've learned how to respectfully say no when I need to. This has improved the wellbeing of my business, my mental health, and my personal life. The ability to set boundaries and say no has allowed me to respect my own time and energy as a result.
2. I didn't follow a work schedule
When I started getting clients at the beginning of my social media management career, my days lacked structure. Essentially, my personal and business life began to intertwine so much that I'd find myself doing work throughout the day with no identifiable time frame to work within.
A lack of structure can feel chaotic and it's very easy to lose track of your responsibilities and tasks. Eventually, you begin to succumb to a feeling of overwhelm and paralysis as a result.
Tackling your responsibilities and tasks in a scattered manner can lead to inertia, which was definitely the case for me. How can you build momentum and focus on something when it's all over the place? And, additionally, how can you focus on your personal life when you still have work to do?
Giving yourself the entire day to be productive typically results in low productivity. In my experience, people will be more effective with their time when they are given a shorter period of time to do their work.
I use my time more effectively now than I did three years ago. I have developed a routine that works for me and it absolutely includes a work schedule. I season my day with short breaks and dog walks. After a few hours I've completed my to-do list and can either tackle the less time sensitive projects or take the rest of the day for myself and my family.
Ultimately, structuring my days has heightened my daily productivity and given me more freedom. Doing this has allowed me to respect my own time, complete my tasks more efficiently, and has given me the ability to spend my evenings how I please.
3. I discounted my time and energy
Like every entrepreneur starting their business, I was enthusiastic and excited for new clients! However, I had no idea how to secure new clients without discounting my services. My discounts were reactive and thoughtless. Many times, they were discounts I couldn't afford to give.
The moment a potential client would ask about the price of my services, I found myself nervous to share my fee with them. When I would tell them the price, I was unable hold my power, and I'd begin questioning the integrity of my own fees. This insecurity created a vulnerable foundation for my business.
If a client showed an ounce of hesitation re: the fee, I'd "handle" their objection by simply lowering the price for them. That's how desperately I wanted (and sometimes needed their business). Sometimes, I would offer a prospective client a discount before they even had a chance to hesitate - I know, right?
Discounting my time, energy, and services affected me in a few ways:
a) It did not contribute to the growth of my business, myself, or get me closer to my business goals.
b) It cemented the vulnerable foundation intended to support my business.
c) I'd end up putting more time and effort into proving myself to the clients whose services I discounted.
Eventually, I accepted that this desperate technique to secure clients was hindering my business, the quality of my services, and my own self-worth. I realized I needed to change this knee-jerk response to discomfort. When you set a price for the service or product you offer, you need to respect that price. This will enhance your credibility, strengthen the foundation of your business, and enhance the quality of your work. It will also lead to improved self-esteem - and business growth doesn't come without personal growth.
The only time a discount should be applied to a service or product is when it's part of an intentional marketing strategy. It should be proactive rather than reactive unless you're in the business of negotiation.
These are just a few of the mistakes I made when I first started my business. Today, I gently enforce and respect boundaries with clients, I adhere to a work schedule from the comfort of my home, and I don't reactively discount my services in an attempt to secure a client. Making mistakes when you first start your venture (and as it progresses) is important because it gives you an opportunity to grow yourself and your business.