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Jana Soli: The Power of Organic Marketing and Authentic Connections

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Welcome back to the Doodles 2 Dollars podcast!

Do you struggle with marketing yourself or your business? How do you get yourself out there and get paying clients? Does it feel like there are so many voices and to-dos that marketing just falls off your plate? If you said yes then this episode is for you.

Today we have Jana Soli on the show. Jana is a digital marketer and content creator. She partners with small and medium-sized brands ready to uplevel their organic marketing strategies. She specializes in brand strategy that skyrockets customer lifetime value through real connection.

Jana shares her perspective on how she shifted from retail management into marketing strategy, how to teach yourself the skills needed for freelance marketing even if you don't come from a marketing background (transferable skills, how to get a first client, being brave to put yourself out there in the freelance world.)

She will also share about her digital marketing agency and how to use current organic marketing strategies to stand out in any industry.

Transcript

Swell AI Transcript: Jana -Interview.mp3
Ksenia, Host: Hi, so excited to have you on here. Welcome. So tell us a little bit about you and your business and what you do.
Jana Soli: Hi, I'm really excited to be here. So thank you for having me on. So my business is Organic Marketing Strategy and Organic Marketing Execution. And I started my business in 2021. I work mostly with B2C businesses doing different parts of their marketing strategy or helping them build actual marketing plans if they need those to be put in place. I started out doing social media management and expanded from there based on what I saw on the market and what people were needing and really enjoy working in all kinds of different industries.

Ksenia, Host: Nice. Okay, cool. So I know you mentioned you started your business a few years ago. Can you tell us about your journey, how you started, even before you started your business?

Jana Soli: Sure. So I did not start out thinking my business was going to be exactly what it was today. And I think a lot of people can probably relate to that. But, um, I did marketing for my family's general store and restaurant on the big Island of Hawaii from about 2015 to 2020. And during that time, I realized how powerful organic marketing was. We didn't have a marketing budget. And basically I just started our Instagram. got the ball rolling with that. And then I started just putting us out there online everywhere that I could. And pretty soon people were coming in, whether they were coming in from around the world, or different parts of the island. And they had found us online with random Instagram posts that I was posting, or maybe like a tag on Yelp or something like that. And I just I loved it. I loved building the communities online. So From there, I got the chance to work in a marketing agency in 2020, which is a really interesting time to work in a marketing agency. I started off working in sales, which was, it was a good challenge. And then from there, I was able to branch out into building the marketing strategy for all of our clients, which was really, really cool. I also got to lead a lot of photo shoots, video shoots. I basically took on every single project that I could because I was really interested getting the hands-on experience for any type of marketing. And after I did that for a while, I was also planning to go back to school to get my MBA. I was planning to move to the East coast to do that. And for some reason I decided it'd be a great time to also launch a business. I was really inspired by what I had seen as the possibilities at the marketing agency I was working at. And I thought I can probably do a lot of that stuff because I already was at the marketing agency. So I launched my business in April of 2021 and I started managing social media for a couple of different businesses. And then as I moved on to go to school and the business evolved, I expanded it into doing all kinds of different aspects of organic marketing.

Ksenia, Host: Fun journey.

Jana Soli: Yeah yeah definitely not a straight path at all.

Ksenia, Host: I'm curious like what was that shift like for you from working at the agency to having your own business also during a move like all that fun stuff?

Jana Soli: Yeah I think something that pops up a lot that people ask about especially if they're newer to marketing industry is how do you get clients and that was a big question for me. Thankfully I Something that's really unique about Hawaii or maybe it's more of like a small town aspect is that you get a lot of business from referrals or everybody talking to everybody else. So I had that leg up with my business where when I started out, I worked a lot with referral business or friends of friends who knew I was launching something that had to do with social media management and they wanted to hire me in some way. So that was really a great way to bring in customers. It was a challenge moving and then going to school because I could only take on so much business. So I really had to figure out what that balance was. I had a full class load. An MBA program is two years. So I would have about 12 weeks of classes and then a break and then 12 weeks again. And most MBA students do a 10 week internship during the summer, but I opted into doing my own business. and continuing to scale it. So that was the one time in the last two years where I actually took it and ran with it full time. And it was a good introduction to what that would look like, but I also had to scale it right back down when I came back to school. So it was a great learning experience and also a great way to learn how to adapt.

Ksenia, Host: Nice. Are you done now with your MBA?

Jana Soli: I am. I graduated in May 2023, and I moved to Atlanta, Georgia. So I officially started working on my business full time. I'll probably say like, really, I started full time at the end of July because I was doing a lot of traveling before that. Visiting family in Hawaii, um, hanging out and traveling with my partners. So I really sat down and started reworking all of my offers and figuring out exactly how I wanted to move the business forward in July. So it's been, it's been a few months now.

Ksenia, Host: How have things been since July?

Jana Soli: Yeah, I'm not going to lie. I had a huge creative rut after school. I think I came out of school and just an MBA program can be really, it can be very busy and take a lot of your time. So I felt like I was very tired and needed a break, but also I needed to make money. So there was that mix of like feeling that creative pressure. But since then, the really great thing has been that I've rethought the business kind of from the ground up. and decided how I wanted to look going forward. And I had to let go of a lot of the old ways that I thought I was going to do things when I started my business in 2021, just because so much in marketing changes in such a short amount of time. And I think that's something that that's like the one constant with marketing is it's always evolving just given the nature of the business. So it took a couple months for me to kind of get my brain back to working and and processing how I wanted to move forward. But during that time, I also learned how to do SEO. I deep dove into a lot of classes around SEO, affiliate marketing, that kind of stuff that I felt would be useful for clients in the future. And now I'm at the point where I have rebuilt the offers that I want to do and brought in a lot of the knowledge that I learned over the last few months. So if you're in a creative rut, just know you can still make progress. It might not feel great all the time, but it doesn't mean that you're not moving forward. It's just a different type of movement forward.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah, I totally relate to that. I was also in a creative rut that took way longer than a couple months. But yeah, thankfully out of it now and like creativity is coming back. So I totally relate. With marketing, there's so many different avenues. I know you mentioned SEO and affiliate marketing.

Jana Soli: Is there a specific thing that you want to focus on because I know there's like so many options There's so many options I narrowed it down to organic marketing and the I think there's so many different definitions of these words out there But basically marketing that's more around content creation relationship building long-term strategy Is the sweet spot of what I do and it's honestly what I've always done with the businesses that I've worked with just under different names, whether it was managing social media, writing blog posts, writing emails for someone. A lot of what I was doing was about managing and building relationships. So I've just packaged it differently and put it all together. SEO came into that because I realized SEO has been a huge part of marketing for so long, but especially the way it is now in 2023, going into 2024, I feel like it's going to be a differentiator for people who understand SEO, especially with organic marketing. So I was very intimidated, but it's, it's honestly not as scary as it looks. I think. It just sounds scary. So that was a big part of why I dove into SEO affiliate marketing was more of an interest. And then I also was curious how future clients might be able to have affiliate programs. I know that's not quite organic marketing, but I think it's a really interesting business concept. So that was more of just. something that I thought was interesting and I was curious about.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah. Well, thanks. I know from the SEO perspective, obviously being a web designer, to me, I'm like super technical. So in my mind, I'm like, Oh my God, it's this huge daunting thing to really specialize in. But even viewing it from the organic marketing space, I can totally see the connection. And it is a leg up really, if you know exactly what you're talking about. So I'm happy for your clients, because they're getting great support. So within your journey, we've kind of gone through everything. Have there, like when you look back, are there any key moments that seem like, kind of like the pivot moment or the like, where you had to make a decision, it's either this or this, and it changed your life, for lack of a better way of saying it?

Jana Soli: Yeah, it's interesting. Sometimes the pivots you don't realize until after the moment. So I feel that it's very important to know yourself well or work on getting to know yourself well. And that's been huge for me to understand when the pivots come or when the opportunities come and be ready for them. But the first one for me with marketing was I already wanted to help manage social medias for companies when I was working at my family business. But I always told myself, I don't have enough experience. And I think that's another common thing for solopreneurs that can be a big pitfall is thinking that you don't have enough experience. And that pivot came when I just finally accepted the fact that there was always going to be people with more experience. I was willing to be a fast learner. I already had a little bit of experience, which counts a lot for starting out. And you can honestly just get started and be very honest about the amount of experience you have and reflect it in your price and then go from there. So the first client that I actually had was a customer at my family's business who had a wedding photography. And I just helped them a little bit to polish their social media and understand how to post on Instagram, make reels, little stuff like this. And this was back in the day when reels were kind of new on Instagram. So I already, I already had a little bit of the skillset. And from there, I was able to work on up to now I've managed a lot. I mean, dozens of social medias for companies and worked on many different campaigns and with many different companies. But if I had let myself think that I wasn't experienced enough, then I never would have gotten the ball rolling. And I think there's always companies who are willing to work with people who have that bit of experience. because it's more experience than that company has, or it's more experience than that person who's hiring you has, and they don't want to do the work. So just being willing to put your foot in the door, even if you don't feel like you have a lot of experience, it's the first step. Another pivot for me was going and working at that marketing agency. I think that was a big move. I moved islands during 2020, and it was a stressful time, but it was really important for me to take that step because I got to see all of these sides of marketing that I didn't know existed. And it doesn't mean that you have to take a job in order to branch out on your own afterwards, but it was just the step that I needed to see the opportunities that were available. And then the last pivot, I would say, was just the decision to go back to school versus working on my business. I really thought about turning down school and just focusing on my business rather than going back. And I think either way would have worked out great. But I'm very happy with the decision that I made to return to school because it's brought me a ton of new perspectives and opportunities. And I've met an amazing person that I now call my partner. And it's just opened a lot of doors. So I think no matter what decisions you make, as long as you're making them with the intention of moving forward, it's hard to make a wrong decision.

Ksenia, Host: Nice. I like that. Following that same thread, if you could go back to any moment in your journey and say something to yourself, what would it be?

Jana Soli: Oh, that's a good question. I like this exercise. I think I think I would have given myself permission to start sooner. So I always keep the files on my computer and I have this file of this business card that I made in like 2017 or 2018 that was a business strategist marketing card. And it was the first one I ever developed. And I didn't do anything with it for a couple years. But I know even from that time, I was wanting to get started. And I wish I had just given myself permission to start sooner, because, you know, like, why not just start sooner, I think a lot of us can hold ourselves back, because we're waiting for the perfect opportunity, the right moment, or especially the one that I always find has been a pitfall that I now actively avoid is waiting till I feel like I have enough experience to do something. And I will say I, you could spend forever racking up experience and still never feel qualified. Imposter syndrome or any different thing that you call it is a really real thing. So it's been really key for me to just figure out how to work with it rather than just listening to it and accepting that reality.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah. I so relate. I especially like the waiting for things to be perfect, because they never will be. And yeah, I think that's great. Thank you for sharing that. To dive a bit more into your perspective on marketing, especially for people that are starting out or people considering whether that's they want to become someone in the marketing field, if that's the field they want to go into, or if they're just starting a small business, a solopreneur, From your perspective, what would be a good place to start? What's important to know?

Jana Soli: Yeah, we can break that into two. I'll start with somebody who wants to get into marketing and then somebody who's a solopreneur because I have different perspectives from both. So if you are someone who wants to get into marketing in any aspect, it's still a great time. I think people always talk about the market being saturated and I will say you just have to go and look at what people, what businesses want. Like there's always needs out there. So just go be curious, go poke around on the internet and forums, Facebook groups, Google, and check out what businesses are looking for and what they're searching for, because there's always a need. And there are so many different kinds of businesses that you can work with, whether it's social media management, SEO, paid ads, like I'm naming like the tip of the iceberg. There's so many. And then for solopreneurs, people who are just starting out a business, I think there, if I was going to narrow down my advice, I would just say in the, if you're a solopreneur in the aspect of your marketing, start out with a very simple, very doable plan and try to avoid falling into the FOMO of wanting to do everything at once. This is something that I've seen a lot with the businesses I've worked with is that it's really easy to think you have to be on every single platform. every single place on the internet and you don't, I think it's really easy to get spread too thin and then you get burned out and then you question your life and then you're like, what am I doing? And you start job searching. Not that I've ever done that before, but I will say it's much better to just stay on the straight and narrow. At least this is my experience. And there's so many different thoughts and opinions on this, but cherry pick what is gonna move the needle for you and what is doable and be honest with yourself. You can always expand, you can always hire, but don't feel like you have to do it all at once.

Ksenia, Host: If you had to choose a favorite first step, I know there's, like you said, there's so many different options, there's so many different platforms, there's a lot of FOMO. I'm just curious if you have your own preference on where to start. or is it unique to everybody?

Jana Soli: I think it's unique to everyone, but if you're somebody who's thinking about starting and you just haven't, like if I'm going back to who I was when I first started and you haven't taken any steps at all, a really good way to test if your business is viable is to go do the service for free for a friend or somebody that you know. And then you find out what people are looking for, what they're asking for. Maybe it's different, maybe it's bigger than you could have ever imagined. Maybe it's not as realistic, but it's a really good way without spending a single dollar to just go and test. For years, I had always told people that I loved copywriting, or I didn't even know the word copywriting back then, but I always loved writing and I always loved editing. So anytime somebody had an issue at school and they were like fumbling with a paper, I was the person who was like, I'll edit it for you. And I think that reputation of just liking to do marketing type things gave me the foot in the door to tell people I would help them with their social media or I'd help them write a blog post. And then I could test and see what people needed. And then I was, I was able to see that, okay, this is a business where people are willing to pay me money to do it. And now I'm going to go work with bigger businesses, but at least I've tested the theory. So I would say testing in, it's called like a minimum viable product, but basically just putting something out into the market. to see what people need is a really common strategy that marketers use, but you can do it for any business. And then you can kind of test and iterate from there.

Ksenia, Host: Nice. Okay, cool. Thank you for that. We're kind of jumping back a little bit because I'm really curious and this thought that just came to my mind. So looking back at your time with your family and working for your family business, what What's that process like for you, especially working with the dynamic of your family, but also like what are some skills or ways of thinking and being that you've pulled from that time and you notice is really like a value or a core thing in your business now?

Jana Soli: I'll say three things. The first one is that when you work with your family business and it's a small business, there's nobody else that's going to get the work done. It's going to be you or you. And everything rests on that ability to get something done. So you learn this skill where you are able to push through and get things done, even when you're not in the mood to do it, even when you don't feel like it, even when you, you know, whatever that different thing is that's holding you back when you're working in a family business, you're going to get it done. And that's also true for small businesses, I think, too, is just the ability to kind of grind through even when the motivation is not there. And as a solopreneur, the motivation leaves so much of the time. Everything is built on grit and, you know, daily practices and routines. So motivation is going to come and go all the time. The second one is I think you learn how to just communicate with people and you learn a lot of interpersonal things. And it's different when you're working with clients as a solopreneur. but also not a lot because you're not working with big corporations. A lot of the time you're working with individuals and being able to have this human to human interaction that you don't normally get when you're working as a contractor with a giant company or in corporate where everything is super, super formal, you're going to kind of use that same type of interaction. Not, you know, that you're going to, it's not like you're talking to a family member, but there is, a very human, very direct way of connecting with clients. And I think it's been really helpful to come from a family business background. And then the third thing that's probably been the most helpful. Man, there's so many, um, it's just, you don't have to limit it to three. I know. I think the dedication to pick through, like I, this is a topic I think I've been looking at. So it's popping up on my algorithms, but I think we all go through this as entrepreneurs when you think about quitting the thing that you're doing. And I was with my family's business during college and then five years after college. So probably like seven years total. And there was many, many times I think all of us wanted to quit, not because something was going wrong in the business, but you just, you get burned out doing the same thing and you can't just leave. So I think I've been able to bring that same determination to the business that I have now, There's been times where I've been like, you know, I could go do this or that, or I want to switch it. But I, it's the same with the family business. Like you remember what your long-term goals are. You remember what your, your reason for doing it is, and it helps you stick it out because there are ups and downs for sure.

Ksenia, Host: Yep. 100%. I know that I've definitely been there, especially like within the past couple of years too. I think it's really important. I don't know if enough people talk about it. I feel like we really share the success or how much we're like hustling, but no one really talks about like, what do you do when all of a sudden you're like, um, I don't know if I want to do this anymore, but you've kind of built your life and your business around it. I know like that definitely came up for me being like, I've been the art kid for my whole life. I have done design for like, Over a decade, if I quit this, what then? But again, like you said, it's so important to come back to the reason why. Even from a creative perspective, for me, it's like, well, why do I like design? Maybe it's in a different container. Maybe I just need to eat some food and watch a Hallmark movie and I'll be OK.

Jana Soli: Maybe, yeah. that was a big thing in the last year for me just coming out of school and deciding, okay, am I going to continue this business or am I going to go, um, work in marketing at a company? And I think it really, I was all over the place with this decision. Cause it's a big decision. And I think some of the key things that I looked at were like, one was like, do I just need to go eat right now? Am I just like hungry and tired? Two is like, do I need to just take a break? Like, do I need to take a week or time off and really assess what this looks like? Three is like, yes, sometimes it is the right time to quit. And I've, I've started and stopped a lot of different businesses, not even full businesses, but I've, I've started and stopped a lot of things that I thought were interesting, but I never fully committed to doing them. And I think I think we're all multi-potentialites. We're all people that have multiple passions. So I would test a lot of things, but this is the one business where I've really stuck to it. And I've said, this is, this is the one, like, I'm going to make this work. And then also you have to, I think I've, I've realized like you have to accept that there are major like peaks and valleys in, in entrepreneurship. And I've also felt those working in corporate. I started my career as an executive team lead at Target and there was days I would walk into work. And I loved it and I loved leading teams and I loved setting end caps and I loved resigning things. And there was times I walked into work and I was like, I could not wait to walk back out the door. And it took all of my willpower to walk in that door. So you really just kind of have to pick what your thing is, because I don't know that there's ever a job where you just walk in and you're like, yes, I'm ready to be here every single day. But you have the chance to build that when you build your business. And so I've had to rethink a lot about how I built my business. And that's been one of the big things that I've decided to reorganize this year is I built a business originally that was very hectic and disorganized when I first started because I was testing it. And that's totally okay. But now I've come back and I've built systems and I've built the foundation for it where I don't have to be hectic and disorganized. And that helps me to not feel as much of the peaks and valleys that I was feeling.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah, I think there's, I don't know who said this quote, but you choose your hard, like, no matter whether it's corporate, whether you decide to go for a different industry or career path completely, like, it's gonna be hard. And also be nice and easy at times. But the those peaks and valleys are so true. I've, I remember my business coach teaching me about it years and years ago. And every so often when I'm like a really not okay when i'm like eating and hallmark and procrastinating i'll just be like hmm is this a valley is this a dip do i just need to like self-care and bring it back to the basics so yeah i'm really happy we're talking about this because like i said i feel like not enough people talk about what it actually is like day in and day out um so thank you

Jana Soli: I agree. It's been a thing on my mind because I've been searching out people talking about it because I felt very alone. And the worst thing you can do when you feel like this is go on social media because you will just see this sea of everybody, especially this time of year, celebrating their six-figure year or celebrating that they had this huge year. And it's the worst debilitating thing to see when you're like, should I be doing this business or not? and so yeah I mean those are the peak the valleys and then there's the peaks where you're like wow this is like the thing I want to do for the next 10 years and I can't believe I just signed this client and I can't believe I'm I like brought this in by myself and it's amazing so yeah it's a gamut.

Ksenia, Host: Yep yep you're so right about social media especially now for anyone listening in the future it is December 1st. We just went through Black Friday where everyone was sharing about their amazing sales and going into people recapping their year so there's definitely probably a lot of comparison really especially if you're starting out. I know I'm like seven years into my business which seems like so much time But at the same time, I still catch myself being in that comparison mode, especially with social media. So I can only imagine thinking back to who I used to be in my first couple years, being like, oh, why am I not here? But they started after me.

Jana Soli: So it's hard. It's hard even coming from marketing. I fall into the trap sometimes, but I try to remind myself those hooks that that everyone does where they say, like, here's what I did in five months. Here's what I made this year. Those are designed to sell a lot of times. And it's great to be like I'm it's good to be genuinely happy for people and celebrating people's wins, I think helps your success move forward as well. And it's helpful not to get caught up in comparisons because you have no idea like the numbers behind that. You have no idea how much was profit out of what people are making. what kind of clients they're working with, how many hours they're working, how many team members they have, like there's so many things that go into it. And it's so easy to overlook that, especially when you're starting out. So just try to avoid that if possible. And if you have to just erase your Instagram app off of your phone, I've done it. I've done all the things, so.

Ksenia, Host: Yep. Same. Yeah, I think that's really important to know how much of it is profit. Because say they made 100k a year, or during a sale, but maybe they spent $99,000 on marketing. So it's like they only really made a grand. So you never really know the back end. And I think that ties really well into just like not really knowing what people are going through. I think maybe slowly things are starting on social media. And I'm curious if you've seen this where people are being a bit more vulnerable, but we're still getting a lot of that. Like, this is what I made in three days. This is what I made this month. And it's something that, like you said, is made to sell. Yeah.

Jana Soli: I do think that we're swinging back towards the openness and vulnerability and authenticity side. I think Merriam-Webster's dictionary just named authenticity the word of the year for 2023. So I think, I don't know if that's from like pulling Google reports, but I do, it does seem a little bit better than a couple of years ago. But I don't know, Instagram is always this, or not Instagram, social media is always this morphing, bubbling, changing thing. So I have really been enjoying LinkedIn recently. At the end of 2023, I think LinkedIn is in a really interesting place where people of all business sizes are just able to share a lot of what they're doing and what they're working on. And it seems like a very collaborative, positive place on the internet. So I've really been enjoying that space.

Ksenia, Host: From my perspective, and that's changed a little bit recently, but LinkedIn has always seen like an online resume for me. I'll link it to my resume if I'm applying somewhere online. But I'm curious from your perspective, since you've been really liking it, what are the benefits to have people that are more on the solopreneur small business side, maybe in the more like non-corporate side of things using LinkedIn.

Jana Soli: Yeah, I agree with you. I, for a long time, also looked at LinkedIn from the resume perspective. I don't even remember when I made my LinkedIn, but I think it was randomly very early on. And so I have just witnessed it over the years and the big changes that I've seen and the ways I think it can be really helpful for somebody who wants to bring it in as a part of their strategy as a solopreneur is that you have this really cool, almost like a website type portfolio that you can create of the work that you've done, of your expertise and knowledge. You can even get recommendations on LinkedIn now. So you can have clients leave reviews on LinkedIn, which can be a lot easier than getting somebody to go fill out a Google form or write an email for you. You can just shoot them a link to your LinkedIn and be like, Hey, I'd love if you would leave me a review. And you can also leave them a review, which is also great. So I think LinkedIn can be a really big relationship builder. And that was one of the reasons that I found social media really helpful for small businesses in the first place. I think small businesses, solopreneurs can thrive off of building relationships with their marketing over just trying to run ads or do one-off, you know, hit and run type of campaigns with their marketing. And it's kind of the difference between doing like a giveaway on Instagram versus building the relationships by starting discussions and DMing people and commenting with people and just building authentic conversations with people. And so rather than having that kind of like, um, really fast come and go approach where you post stuff and then disappear, LinkedIn lets you continue on the conversation really easily. Let me see. I feel like there's something else for solopreneurs. I was actually just in a really cool networking event yesterday with a really big marketing network. And a lot of people were saying that they're getting clients through LinkedIn. And I think it's just the ability to post about what you're doing and really strategically find people on LinkedIn is really helpful. So I think it's worth it to go on as a solopreneur and polish what you have. I also think personal branding is going to become more important for small businesses and solopreneurs and corporate leaders and pretty much everyone just because that's how things are nowadays. Everything is online. So even having LinkedIn as your personal brand space that people can go check out your credibility beyond a website, I think it's useful. And I think people are starting to have that become a norm when they look at you for a job, for client work, all kinds of stuff.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah. That's good to know, I totally agree about the personal brand. And so interestingly, I feel like it ties into the shift of people wanting to be more vulnerable, especially with how the world has been. At least from my perspective, it seems like we're all just sick of like the traditional hustle and like overly corporate and just that like, bye bye bye, look at these ads type of, I'm just gonna sell to you. I think it's going more from like this, I'm just a company and there's no humans behind it, it's just a company to now, no, I'm a human, I can help you. I feel your pain. I feel your valleys and the peaks also. So that's interesting. I mean, I will definitely be looking into LinkedIn, polishing it up because I'm pretty sure I just have people from university and high school on there.

Jana Soli: Gotta polish it up. I think everybody's in the same boat. I worked on that project during school, when I was in school, that required looking up a bunch of executive-level individuals' profiles on LinkedIn. And I'll say even CMOs, even CFOs, people at the executive level in corporate work are also… It's not that people have all figured this out and now people are late to the game if they haven't done personal branding. I am actually thinking it's more of an edge for anyone because it's going to take a little bit of time for that to become the norm. And I'm already seeing people who are offering the service to polish up LinkedIn, to help people with their personal branding. And I'm seeing a lot of personal branding probably just because I'm in the world and that's what the algorithm is feeding me. But I do think people are starting to catch on to it. So this is a great time for anybody. And it's not, and even the great thing about LinkedIn is you can fix it up and like and leave it, you don't have to post on there. If you don't want to, you could do the bare minimum and just polish it and make it look really good and get some endorsements, maybe grab some reviews if it's useful for your business. I think everything depends on the type of business that you have, but it can be a credibility builder. And I think especially starting out maybe for people who don't yet have the client work, it can be a great way to just to have that in your email link or your email signature and just have it be a credibility builder.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah, I can totally see that. Okay, cool. LinkedIn, that's what we're checking out. So I want to dive into what would you recommend for getting your first client? I know you talked about testing things out for free, but with that shift of going to actual paid clients, actually making some work, is there anything from the marketing perspective that you found really works or that you'd recommend?

Jana Soli: It's so interesting that you ask that because I have actually been thinking about that a lot in the last couple weeks. I've had some conversations with people who are just starting out in the space and they want to understand where they can get their first clients. So I think it depends on what industry you're in. If you are in a service industry, say you're in marketing, design, PR, any type of anything like that, that relates a little bit to marketing, advertising. I think there's a few ways. I'm just smiling because my first client came from Craigslist.

Ksenia, Host: Nice.

Jana Soli: And they're one of my longest standing clients and they're amazing, but I knew Craigslist really well for random other reasons. So I don't, I wouldn't say I recommend that, but there are things like Craigslist, like there's little posts that people will post on their Instagram network. LinkedIn will have random posts. Those kind of informal calls for help can be really nice because it's not a job you have to apply to. So keep an eye out and see for where somebody has a small business or I'm saying if small businesses are your demographic, look for somebody that has a small business and they're asking about having help with their marketing or help with their website. Small businesses will always need help with their website and help with their marketing, and they're always going to be shorthanded and always a little tight on the resources to do things. So it's a great place to polish your resume and polish your experience. If you're somebody that's looking to work for bigger corporations or bigger businesses, I think it's a little bit different. You kind of have to look for those invitations that are posted online, or sometimes there's posts on LinkedIn for for contract work or freelance work and making connections with the companies through that realm is helpful. I don't have as much experience in that because I started out with small businesses. So, and I will say, you have to start talking about it too. If you are someone who is using social media as part of your strategy, it's really important to talk about what you are doing, even if you're just starting out because you'll be surprised how many people will want to help you out along the way. You just have to keep that discussion going and show your work and talk about it and have that content plan so that people know what you're doing. Because if you have only a website and not a lot of like credibility to show for what you're doing, it's hard to bring on that first client. So you want to think about what a client would need to feel comfortable working with you and just try to lower the barrier entry as much as possible.

Ksenia, Host: That's a good one, especially when you're starting out. Because I know even from the design perspective or when you're building your website, if someone has to go through hoops to figure out what you do, who you are, why they should even contact you, then nothing will happen. So it's like making it easier on all fronts.

Jana Soli: Yeah. And you can give, I do think if you don't have experiences from work. You can give experiences from past work, but if you need an experience to give a company and you're brand new, you've enjoyed writing your whole life, but now you want to do it for a company. It just writing something as if it were for a company, but nobody hired you to do it also works. So if there's a company that you want to work with, you can write them a blog post and then send it to them as an example and say, Hey, here's an example of what I can do. I'd love to write for you. Like you can, you don't have to have somebody hire you to do the work. It's a little easier with things like writing or maybe designing, but if you can get an example of what your work would be like and send that to a company and be very proactive, I've seen that work for people also.

Ksenia, Host: Nice. Now kind of jumping back to your focus of organic marketing with creating a plan. I know you mentioned when you're first starting out, stick with one thing. First of all, what is actually a plan? What does that entail for people that have no idea? what that is might raise my hand a little bit.

Jana Soli: This is such a great question because it's such a perfect example of being in your like industry so much that you forget that people aren't speaking like your industry talk. I'm speaking to myself so when I say a plan I'm like assuming people know what that is but then I realize like that who would know what that is unless I tell them so thank you that's that's a good a good question I think From the marketing perspective, this is separate from a business plan. Your marketing plan just goes hand in hand with your business plan. It's basically as simple as you can make it, as non-fluffy as you can make it. It's just on paper or on your computer, somewhere where it's a working document. It's your plan of how you're going to show up and talk about your business and market yourself in the world. And there's a couple pitfalls that are really easy to get into with marketing plans. The first is to make it so bulky and so undoable and so chunky that you're never going to use it and you forget about it. And then you go do random things. And then the other one is just like focusing on it so long and needing it to be so perfect that you get so discouraged when you don't see the needle moving on your marketing and I've seen both of those happen. I think the easiest way to just create a marketing plan as a brand new solopreneur is to get whatever you like to write on. I really like Notion. It's like my second brain, but you can do paper, Google Doc, whatever, and just write out your business goals. It's good to have just some basic business goals and then determine how your marketing is going to help you achieve those business goals. So your marketing goals shouldn't be this separate thing. It should be your marketing is there to help you achieve your business goals. So if your business goal is or say one of your business goals is to get three clients and you're starting out from scratch, your marketing goal or your marketing plan might look like, you know, you have three goals and the first goal is to post X amount of times on Instagram and LinkedIn. Your second goal might be to have a simple content calendar with three pillars of things that you talk about. Your third goal might be like reach out to three businesses a week and just share with them your services. If you're into doing that, it's going to depend on so much what you want to do. And the marketing plan has to be doable or else you're just going to avoid it. And so many people avoid their marketing. And it's hard marketing yourself. It's easy marketing for other people. It's hard to market yourself. So just keep it as simple as you can. SMART goals are really great. SMART, I'm totally forgetting the acronym right now, but if you look up SMART goals, those are really helpful to make your goals very actionable if you're looking for like a good goal setting system for your business goals. But for your marketing plan, after you have some basic marketing goals that align to your business, then you have probably a few simple pillars that you're going to have that are your content pillars of what you talk about. For me, I'm an organic marketing strategist. So I talk about organic marketing, I talk about mindset, and then I talk about behind the scenes of being a founder. And I try to be really honest with that part of it. And then you just keep the content within those buckets. So it can look like, you know, maybe on LinkedIn or Instagram, once a week, you're posting about your business, then you're posting about your life, then you're posting about something with mindset. And that way, you're avoiding all of the other distractions. You're avoiding getting on Twitter, you're avoiding getting on threads, you're avoiding starting a YouTube channel if that's not gonna serve you right now. But everything has to feed back into your bigger business goals or else it's just, it's so easy to fall off the wagon and get so discouraged. And I've seen it happen with bigger businesses, small businesses, solopreneurs. It's just, Marketing is probably not why you're starting your business. So keeping it simple is a really easy way to help ensure success.

Ksenia, Host: Sweet. Thank you for that. I also looked up what SMART goals is cause I was trying to figure out if I remembered, but I didn't. Um, so SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time bound. Yeah.

Jana Soli: Great.

Ksenia, Host: Google that and it will give you so many different templates for it.

Jana Soli: Yeah, templates are great because it's easy to say, okay, I want to make, I don't know, like $50,000 the first year of my business, but that doesn't get you to making $50,000 worth in your business. And when you go for your marketing, then you're like, okay, well, why isn't my marketing making me $50,000 a year? And then you're discouraged and then you want to give up your business. Smart goals are just a way to break that down. Okay, if I want to make $50,000 in the first year, how do I actually measure that on a monthly, weekly basis? What does that look like with how many clients I need? How do I price my services? All of those things. So it just, it feels doable. And I think one of the biggest game changers, going back to pivots that we were talking about, when I was thinking about starting, or even before I thought about starting a business or going back to school, I had no idea how to goal set and I had somebody really influential in my life tell me about micro goals, mini goals, or just the concept of breaking a big goal into tiny chunks. And I will say that is how I've gotten from like sitting on a therapist's couch wondering how to set a goal all the way to like being through school and having a business. So don't overlook the importance of smart goals or breaking your goals down into very doable bits.

Ksenia, Host: I think that's really important, especially looking at the example of, I want to make this much money a year and I'm sure all of us, I mean, you can tell me if not, but a lot of us will want our business to be successful and like six figures, all those flashy titles, but when we can all say, hey, I want to make six figures, but you're right, like you have to break it down. What does that actually look like every month, every week? Do I need a client a week? Do I need this many clients? And I think micro goals are really helpful. They're probably not sexy. No, it's the least sexy thing. Yeah. And I think it's really funny that the things that are the least sexy about business are probably the things that are the most important and useful. just like bookkeeping and taxes and accounting and legal.

Jana Soli: So yes, have a tax plan. That's that is that is always important. I've seen I've seen how important that's been just from working with different businesses. So just have a tax plan, set money aside, all of those good things.

Ksenia, Host: Okay, cool. I guess I'm curious where we're coming close to the end of our episode. So is there anything else coming to mind of things that you want to share, especially about marketing or from your experience?

Jana Soli: This is something I'm exploring right now, just as I rebuild my business or not rebuild, but I'm, I'm restructuring the way that I set up the foundations for my business right now, because they were really built on patchworking things together and like just being a little chaotic. And that's kind of how I was at the time. But now being in a more stable place in life, I don't want a chaotic business structure. So one thing that's been on my mind a lot and that I'm actively going through the process of is setting clear values and vision for my business. This is something that companies do all the time, but sometimes it's overlooked for small businesses or for solopreneurs. So setting the values that are going to be in place for your business and how you're going to choose to operate your business. And you can choose to operate your business from a place of calm, from a place of being organized, from a place of just not feeling desperate and rushed and like pushing over deadlines and struggling with customers and all of these things. And it really Sounds silly that it would be a choice, but once you've made that choice, it changes the way that you make decisions and who you work with and how you structure your offers and what days you choose to work and all of those things. I did not do that at all when I started my business, but I'm doing it now. And I think I can just feel the sense of relief from setting those clear values for myself and just letting go of all of the chaos that doesn't align with that. You can always switch up your values, but it gives you a starting point. So I would say, It's something that I'm going through right now and I'm really enjoying the process of. So for anybody that resonates with, I highly recommend just sending yourself some values and a mission statement and some goals for your business.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah, I agree. I also started out with none of that. And then in the last year and some, I've also like rebranded, restructured, and I do have my values and the mission. I mostly wrote those when I was doing my copywriting, but honestly it's been really helpful even in talking to people because one of my key values is partnership. So now when I talk to people, I'm like, hey, I want to build a partnership with you. You're not just a client. So you can pull that into how you talk to people. I'm sure you can pull that into your marketing and being like, these are my values. These are my people. But like you said, it's also really nice to know because If partnerships are one of my values, I'm not going to take on clients that I don't like or clients I don't want to work with or actually talk to about their life. So it does help things out and hopefully your values will help you not have nightmare clients. No promises, but I feel like if I had my values at the start, I would have saved myself from some of those nightmare situations. because those people clearly don't align with those values. So, highly recommend. A really easy way to do that is to Google a values list and then see what fits.

Jana Soli: Yeah, that's what I love about marketing and just business concepts in general is you can always Google it. It should be free online. There's always a free way to learn things. There's great YouTube resources. There's podcasts like yours that are just available. to soak up information and learn all of these things that we've gone through without having to go through them. And I love that about business.

Ksenia, Host: Yeah. Okay, cool. Thank you so much for joining me to end this out. Tell us what you're up to. I know you're restructuring your business, but please share where people can find you. The stage is yours.

Jana Soli: Aw, thank you so much. Yeah, I'm really excited. I am looking forward to some, some bigger launches in 2024. And I work with B2C businesses. And I've also worked in the past with solopreneurs and small businesses. So I always love working with those groups as well. And I'm going to be offering a few additional things in 2024. So my thing that I do all the time with businesses is organic marketing strategy calls and organic marketing execution. So anything around email, social media management, Google for Business, content writing, blogging, I can definitely help you out with that. And then two exciting things that I am bringing in in addition to that in 2024 is fractional CMO services. So if you just want somebody to come into your company and get a hold of your crazy marketing and fix it up and make it go in a line, do what you need it to do to accelerate your business, build your audience, build a community. I would love to talk to anybody who's looking into that. as well. I love the fractional CMO space. I think it's super interesting and it's growing a lot in the last couple of years. And then the last thing is the 2024 mapping your marketing VIP day. So if you just need somebody for a day to come in and help you map out what your marketing is going to look like in the next year, then I can work with you and we can do what I've talked about a little bit today, which is aligning your marketing with your business goals. but then mapping that out so that each week you look at it and you're like, okay, here's what I'm doing this week. Boom, boom, boom. And then there's no guesswork. And you don't have to feel that creative slump that, um, that we've talked about today, which is amazing. If I can help anybody avoid that, then that'll be a great. So those are some of the things that I have going on. And I love connecting with people as well. I'm on Instagram at it's Jana Soli and LinkedIn as Jana Soli. So, Please connect with me there. I would love to talk to anybody who's listening.

Ksenia, Host: Awesome. Yay. Thank you. Yeah. I'm stoked that we connected and that I had you on here as a guest. So thank you.

Jana Soli: Yeah. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you so much for your time.

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