Something that I’ve never shared here on the blog is my journey with social media and this odd, often overwhelming online world.
The beautiful and the challenging. The connection and the struggles.
After an inspiring call with my mastermind ladies, I decided this was something I wanted to share with you. Because frankly, it plays a large role in the bigger picture of my life and has positively impacted me in so many ways.
Participating in an online community of creatives, networking in this digital age and sharing my portfolio in a single scroll and has changed my life in a HUGE way. Personally and professionally. It’s brought opportunities into my career, my travels and my friendships that I never would have dreamed of.
Let’s start where every good story begins – the beginning.
When I was living in Utah, while still in college and looking to break into the creative industry, I started using social media to foster connections and network with the local creative community. I was sharing my photos and thoughts on different social media platforms, slowly starting to meet people around Utah and learning about others’ creative processes and inspirations. First, it started locally. Then, I started to branch out and connect with photographers, artists and bloggers across America on Pinterest and Instagram (at the very early stages of the platforms). I found it so eye-opening and uplifting to read advice, learn about, see the homes of and experience work of others from across the US and abroad. Beyond magazines, newspapers + television, I had never had such a vivid window into other people’s lives and places in the world.
At the time, I was studying communications + marketing and applied for an internship which specified in social media. This was different for me because I was planning to go into the event planning industry. I took on a position where I would be coordinating with brands, models, bloggers (the very early stages of the industry) + PR companies to facilitate connection, create visuals, use my copywriting skills and learn the back end of social media. Through my internship (later turned full-time position) experience, I started seeing this woven network of people that were connecting on and then offline. These incredible people, from all walks of life – different backgrounds, different talents, different perspectives – were collaborating and creating amazing things together. To say I was inspired would be a wild understatement.
I started seeing social media through an entirely different lens. Instead of a place to simply share photos and thoughts with friends, I now saw a place to connect with fellow creatives + businesses, to network, to demonstrate the kind of work my heart craved to create. I spent three and a half years learning everything I could about social media: the technical side, the collaboration side and the creative side. I learned about content, optimization and impactful partnerships. You name it, I’ve studied it or experienced it!
When I graduated college, I was left with this feeling of ‘Well, what’s next?’ Which is totally normal + in hind sight, an awesome, freeing feeling. I had this tightness in my chest about the idea of going to work for any old company, or following a path that I knew was not mine. Throughout my life, I was always most inspired by the people who were interesting, not just successful. People who were kind, passionate and full of life. People who explored, who saw the world, experienced many things, knew the importance of the little things and treasured moments. And it was vitally important to me that I started my journey towards that kind of success right from the get go.
I didn’t know my exact plan. I had graduated in December and set aside a little time to travel + enjoy the holidays. Aaron + I went on a trip to the Bahamas, celebrated the holidays in beautiful, snowy Utah and then I traveled to Portland, OR to see one of my dearest friends. In the midst of all this, on Instagram of all places, I made a connection with a lovely company in San Diego. Little did I know, this was going to unfold as my next opportunity!
It was a learning experience for all. . .
For the next two years, I consulted for a company with the lovely title of ‘Business Developer’ which meant establishing my own LLC, learning about running my own business, all the while guiding another! It was such an incredible time in my life. We flew around the country teaching social media marketing workshops for small businesses. (Say that ten times fast!) I taught everything I had learned over these years, shared my insight + (hopefully) made big changes in these people’s lives and businesses. I learned a lot about the struggles (and triumphs) of entrepreneurs, met incredible business owners from all across the country and started getting a grasp on where I fit into the industry. Each city had different faces, different stories and different challenges they were facing with their businesses. Each time, the conversations that would develop and the impact social media had on these entrepreneurs lives were fascinating to me. I knew I had found my people and I was on the path I wanted to be on.
During this time, I was also taking photography more seriously and flexing my creative muscle again. Reinvigorated with my passion and extremely inspired by the other creatives constantly around me, I craved a space for my personal imagery, to tell stories and to share my journey. This was when Elanaloo.com was formed!
And while I loved (nearly) every second of planning, hosting + teaching these workshops, I found myself wanting to make a bigger impact with each individual business I came in contact with. I wanted more time with them, more one-on-one conversation and more space to facilitate change. I wanted to give them personalized information that was custom catered to their business, empower them with sustainable knowledge and make a huge impact on their strategy and business!
Since then, I have focused on one-on-one consulting with ambitious entrepreneurs and small businesses (even some universities!) on their social media strategy + online presence as a whole. Working in a more intimate way that allowed me to cater each strategy to the specific entrepreneur was exactly what my heart yearned for! It also shows in the clients’ results in a big way. I’m constantly blown away by the successes that my clients share and the shift in their businesses and confidence!
It’s been such a joy to build my personal blog, travel while still maintaining a business and, as of these last couple of years, bring Aaron on full time with me. What an honor it’s been to work in a field where I can facilitate connection, foster relationships and help others build stronger businesses.
Want to know my biggest takeaways from my social media journey? Keep reading. . .
Main positive takeaways from my experience online:
• Learned so much from other photographers, bloggers and creatives
• Gained major inspiration + opened my mind to whole new possibilities
• Prompted me to start this blog
• Had support surrounding the transitions between freelance photographer, to working in social media, to hosting workshops, to blogging and NOW to the best part yet —> educating other entrepreneurs about it all
• Met 90% of my clients through social media
• Worked with dream brands (such as Facebook, Hawaiian Airlines, Anthropologie, Relais Chateux, Hawai’i Tourism Authority, Burt’s Bees, AWAY Travel and more), clients + other creatives
• Connected and networked on while my travels
• Met nearly all of our friends here in Hawai’i initially on Instagram
• Given me courage + given me a place to share my voice on a larger scale
Now, I’m not saying that because of social media existing this all has come to be. It’s because of hard work, willingness to embrace my outgoing personality, determination and the mindset + actions with which I approach social media that have brought everything listed above (and more) into my life.
Another thing I must share – all of this hasn’t been without struggle. This was not all gumdrops and lollipops. I too have struggled with the thoughts of ‘does anyone really care?’ and ‘is what I’m sharing of value?’ and ‘am I just adding to the noise?’ I’ve felt crippled in my ideas when seeing others doing something similar. I have let comparison into my life more than I want to admit.
I used to really struggle with telling my story authentically, genuinely + honestly engaging that actually resulted in lasting relationships and last but certainly not least, consistently bringing in clients without being salesy.
I’ve struggled with not seeming ‘real enough’ because I share beautiful imagery on the internet. When honestly, I believe in being present in the moment and don’t think to take the time to record + capture every single moment of my life. I try to keep it real with my writing and to connect with people on a personal level so they understand that we’re all human and we’re all in this together! Also, my confidence wasn’t always here. It was shaky with each transition in my career and each time I shared something vulnerable. But time and time again, the experience of social media has uplifted me, provided me a community of fellow creatives and given me the ability to dream with confidence.
When I started to understand how social media worked best for myself, my lifestyle and my business – I started really tapping into this powerful network in ways I had always dreamed of (but not thought I was capable of). By engaging on here and sharing my heart while presenting my work – so many incredible, genuine connections, clients and collaborations have come into my life.
So, why am I sharing this with you? Because I have heard from so many people – folks starting their career, entrepreneurs years into building a business, creatives who want to make an honest living with their work – who struggle with social media. Who see others rocking it and leveraging it but see they’re falling flat. Who have something incredible to offer to the world but want a wider community with which to share. THIS, all of this right here, is exactly why we decided to write our book!
I want to inspire a genuine shift so that you can truly see the potential of these social platforms. See the power, see the positivity. Not neglect them as a business owner or see it as a negative time suck. Instead, I genuinely want you to succeed. I want you to understand the beauty that can flourish in your life, professionally and personally, from these social media platforms and your energy spent online.
Maybe you’ve been on social media for a while now, but haven’t seen the connections or growth you’ve been hoping for. Maybe you’re brand new to the whole world of social media and don’t want to waste any time trying to figure it out as you go.
Or maybe you’ve witnessed others experience the incredible ripples of social media and know the possibilities are there – but are uncertain of how to tap into that yourself. This is why we wrote our book. Sailing Through Social is meant to help you rewire your understanding of social media, reassess how you’re showing up and reignite your love for sharing your story! After all, it’s unique and worth sharing. It took so much trial + error, time and education along this journey of mine. It’s my passion to educate and coach entrepreneurs on their social strategy – although, I know we can’t work with every single entrepreneur in the world (though I wish we could!) and that our consulting isn’t in the budget for everyone at this time. Our book gives you the tools to make change in your strategy so that you can start seeing actual, tangible results in your business.
Social media has been so vital in my successes and my accomplishments. The relationships I have built, the things I have learned and the experiences that have been brought into my life are beyond words. My hopes in sharing all of this is so that you can see the potential between your finger tips, that you can start being more intentional with how you’re spending your time online and start making sustainable changes for your business.
In my opinion, social media is SO MUCH more than pretty pictures, a popularity contest or a surface level waste of time. We have a network of like-minded, incredible individuals at our fingertips which no generation has had before! It’s an opportunity to learn, to connect, to expand ourselves. I challenge you to start viewing social media as a tool, as a space to connect and as a positive community in your life. Like I said, it can wildly change your life personally + professionally. Hope you enjoyed reading about my personal journey!