At the time of this interview, I’ve known Shailaja for about seven months.

When our mutual mentor, George Kao suggested I pair up and “mastermind” with her, I felt an instant spark when I found her online home and was amazed by not only the amount of content she churned out consistently but also the quality.

Shailaja is a mentor and a peer. She inspired me to start this podcast and I promised her that when I was ready to interview fellow heart-based marketers, she’d be the first.

Here’s what we talked about:

  • Her reasons for taking a 60-day social media sabbatical and her thoughts on, can your business survive without social media?
  • The right and wrong approach for taking a social media sabbatical
  • Setting social media boundaries and being intentional on Instagram
  • Practical reasons for not posting all your content on social media and why you might diversify your online presence
  • Getting started on social media and overcoming perfectionism with your content
  • Ways to grow your audience as a new business owner 
  • Tips for content creators

Check out the links, resources and the full transcript below. 

If you have a question or would like to share your top insight from this episode, click here to send me a voice message and I’d be happy to answer or share it in an upcoming episode.

Enjoy the show!

 

 

Links & resources mentioned in this episode:

Hope you enjoyed the show!

 

Show transcript

Intro and Shailaja’s Bio

Krista (host): Welcome back to this week’s episode. I’m very excited to share our special guest with you today, Shailaja Vishwanath who I interviewed while she is still away on her 60-day, social media sabbatical.

So recently Shailaja took a 60-day break from posting on Instagram. And I had her on the show as my very first guest.

So this is my very first interview ever. And the start of many more interviews to come down the road.

I wanted to have her on the show to ask her about her experiment with taking a break from social media, and also to ask her this question, can your business survive without social media?

So I had her on the show to ask her this question. And of course, throughout this episode, we talk about other things.

She is a content creation queen, so she shares tips and advice to help the listeners tuning in today to get started on social media, ways to grow your audience and her best advice for growing an audience.

And also, of course, she gives us her heartfelt answer to this question. Can your business survive on social media?

So before we get into the episode and the questions and the heart of the interview, I want to share her bio with you and be sure to check out the show notes at kristabauer.com/podcast.

And you can search for this episode to get the transcript of the show, as well as all of the links and resources that we talked about in today’s episode.

So here is her bio:

Shailaja is a blog, social media and productivity coach with 14 years of blogging experience. Her website, Blogging and Social Media Simplified, aims to simplify the art of content creation down to easy comprehend bytes of information.

Her intention is to help creators grow a loyal audience of engaged readers, clients and customers while tapping into their passion.

She conducts one-on-one coaching sessions and group calls together with courses and eBooks to help people find that special spark and ensure that they enjoy the work that they do.

It was so lovely to connect with Shailaja on the show. I really resonate with her work, her words of wisdom and our values are so aligned in the way that we show up and we run our businesses and I thought she would be the perfect first guest for the Business By Intuition podcast.

 

So please enjoy the show.

A warm welcome

[00:00:00] Krista (host): All right. Welcome, Shailaja. I’m here today with  Shailaja Vishwanath and we’re going to be asking her the question, can your business survive without social media and some of the lessons that she’s learned while she’s on her 60-day, social media sabbatical.

But before I get into some of the questions and we get into the heart of the interview, I just wanted to say thank you because Shailaja is actually the reason why my podcast got started and I’ll make sure to link up her fantastic blog posts that she wrote a few months back about getting started with podcasting. And she was the reason that I took the leap and she made the steps so easy. So I just want to say thank you because I’ve never had a chance and that’s why she’s the very first guest on this podcast.

I’m so honoured to have you here. And I just want to say thank you for being here. It’s a pleasure to have you. 

[00:00:54] Shailaja: Krista the honor is all mine. I’m very, very touched that I am your first guest. And, uh, I’m so happy that the blog post helped because I’ve been listening to your podcast pretty much consistently, ever since you launched it.

And I love it. It’s one of my frequent companions on my morning walks. So I listened to you. I, I, in fact, one of the recent episodes I listened to was on copywriting from the heart and you know, it spoke to me at such a fundamental level that I went back and I looked at some of my sales pages. I looked at some of my, uh, you know, my, my course pages and I was wondering, okay, how can I implement whatever you were talking about in the podcast.

So I really enjoyed it. So thank you so much. 

[00:01:39] Krista (host): What an honor to hear you say that,  it’s a mutual respect and we initially met about six months ago through our mentor mutual mentor, George Kao, the moment he introduced me to your work. I felt such a spark, such a connection with your not only your content, but the way that you showed up online, he can really just feel your authenticity and your heart.

And I think it’s probably one of the reasons why, like, we’re just very aligned in our values. So really appreciate you saying that. Thank you. 

[00:02:07] Shailaja: You’re welcome. 

What prompted Shailaja (a social media coach) to take a 60-day social media sabbatical & how to do it intentionally 

[00:02:08] Krista (host): So one of the questions, and one of the reasons that we’re here is again to talk about you. And recently about six weeks ago, six, seven weeks ago, you posted a, you published a post on Instagram and the title or the graphic of that post said 60 days away from social media.

So, can you tell us a little bit about what this experiment is? You went on in the post to, to talk about this content experiment and just tell us why you’re doing this experiment, what it is and what sort of prompted you to take this, uh, social media sabbatical. 

[00:02:47] Shailaja: The interesting thing about the experiment itself is that I am a social media coach.

So a lot of people have this question for me. So as a social media coach, why would you take a step back from social media? Now, before I became a social media coach, I was a blogger, right? I still am a blogger. In other words, my identity. Began.  And is still tied  to my writing. That is who I am as a writer. So social media is just one aspect of that writing and the creativity and the concept of creation.

So I had a session with a client of mine. This was in mid April. And, uh, it was very interesting because the last session I had with, her was in July of last year. So pretty much, you know, eight to nine months apart. And when she started the session with me the first thing she said was, I’ve been following your advice and I’ve been working on my SEO.

I’ve been working on creating content on my website and I’ve completely stayed off social media. And that struck me as so ironical because here was someone who had actually taken my advice before I had, and she had seen progress. She had seen growth. She had seen people reaching out to ask her specific questions on the content that she was creating all without being on social media.

Yeah. So this sparked an idea in me, you know, how our line of business is different from mine. So she’s a food and recipe, blogger and creator. And I am a solo business owner who teaches other content creators, how to connect with people, connect with your audience. So I had the spark of an idea, which said, how would you be able to survive without social media?

Would you be able to? That was the first question. And the only way I would get an answer to that is if I were to actually do the experiment myself. So in other words, I couldn’t. Talk about it, unless I actually went through it. I am a big advocate of, you know, going through an experience and then talking about it.

If I can help it that way, there’s a little more gravitas. There’s a little more credibility to whatever you are saying. And so I started and it’s like you said, it’s been about, it’s close to six weeks now, since I’ve been off social media I have a couple of more. Uh, left in the sabbatical. And to be honest, I am enjoying it because I’m also journaling about it.

And one of the best things that has come out of the sabbatical is my ability to journal my experience in a very honest way and I believe everybody who wants to try this experiment needs to do it from that correct space and the correct intention. So it should not be, I’m fed up of social media and I want to leave social media.

It’s, you know, it’s a toxic environment. It’s evil. So none of those were the reasons that I decided. Take the sabbatical. In fact, I actually enjoy social media. I enjoy connecting with people, you and I met through social media. Uh, so I wouldn’t say it’s evil. I wouldn’t say it’s, uh, it’s a toxic environment.

It also, because, especially in the last year and a half, the way I have used social media has been more intentional then in, you know, then involuntary, if that makes sense. So it’s not like a reflex. It’s not like I pick up my phone when I feel bored and go on to social media, that sort of thing. But now, especially with my sabbatical, I’m learning how much more intentional I can be.

And that is the, those are the lessons that are emerging from this experience, which I will be journaling about in more detail once the sabbatical is over. 

Leaving social media with intention and what the space allowed her to embrace instead

[00:06:28] Krista (host): Thank you for sharing that one thing that you said that I think, I think that I want to just kind of point out is, and one of the reasons I think this makes you so authentic as , a marketer, as a social media expert, I consider  you to be an Instagram expert amongst other things, Pinterest and SEO, um, is that you said it was really important for you to experience this,  know, how can you write about it from an authentic place if you haven’t experienced it yourself? So I think that’s really, really profound.

And also another thing that I thought about when you had actually posted this on social media, when I hear the word sabbatical, maybe it’s from my corporate days, but I instantly think  burnout break.

You need to go because you’re burnt out, but I’m not hearing you say that you took a break. It had nothing to do with burnout for you. 

[00:07:18] Shailaja: Absolutely not in fact I did have burnout, and this was about a year ago, coincidentally, uh, towards the middle of June of 2020. But that was because I was following all of these marketing principles, which were teaching me hustle culture.

And, you know, doing the manipulative strategies. And I was fed up, I had been following it for about two years. I never felt that it never sat well with me. And I was at the point where I was going to Chuck everything out of the window. And at that point in my apparent judgment of what was bringing me to the situation the first thing that I blamed was social media.

So that time when I stepped back from social media, it was for the reason that you are specifying, that was burnout. And that was when I found our mentor George Kao and, you know, the way he spoke and, you know, I, and I remembered that the two week break that I took from social media, I spent those entire two weeks devouring, pretty much everything.

George has written all of his videos on YouTube, and I went looking for. At the time he didn’t have a podcast of his own, but he had appeared in podcasts as a guest many podcasts as a guest. So I remember listening to all of his podcasts and truly trying to internalize the concept of authentic marketing and showing up for your audience.

And when I parked back at my decade of writing and connecting with my audience, I realized that was when I was happiest. When I was truly connecting with people, not when I was following a so-called marketing blueprint, which told me do this over the next 30 days. And your income will go from zero to five, six figures in 60 seconds.

It doesn’t work that way. And somehow between then and now the distinction is very clear. And that’s why when I take, when I decided to take this sabbatical, My intentions are very clear. My intentions are not, I’m leaving social media for good or I’m, you know, um, I’m closing myself off to opportunities.

It was more a question of what am I opening myself up to if I am off social media. So in other words, what am I allowing myself to embrace? In the time that I am not on social media, can I make more deep connections with my existing clientele? Would I be able to reach out to fellow fellow collaborators such as yourself?

Would I be able to connect with my audience through email, through my newsletter? And that is the very significant impact that I have seen. Because the kind of people that reach out to me today, the kind of people that connect with me too, they have always been the kind of people who have connected with me either on or off social media.

So in other words, what I’ve realized is connection is what I was trying to test being off social media. So if my primary objective is to connect with my ideal audience, can I do it off social media? That was one of the things that I was going for. 

Setting social media boundaries and the “Power of the Pause”

[00:10:17] Krista (host): Yeah. Thank you for clarifying. I love that. What I’m hearing is really, again, you’ve said this a few times, but it’s really about that intentionality.

And I think most times when we think about connecting with our audience and finding the right people, most of us think that means social media. We don’t realize there’s so many other ways that we can do this. And I liked that you pointed out that, you know, you started out in hustle culture really, you know, wrapped up in the mainstream sort of philosophy around having to be online all the time, and then you realize like that’s not sustainable and you know, it’s not always necessarily the best way to connect with your people.

So it’s really about you, as you said, embracing and opening up and making space. I love that you said it’s about, you know, just creating space in your life and in your business for really just kind of opening up this new space in a way to connect with people.

And maybe in a way you wouldn’t have been able to do, if all of your focus and energy is spent on Instagram or Facebook or LinkedIn, wherever people are hanging out. I think the other thing too, is that on social media, we go there with the intention of maybe engaging with a few people, replying to posts, and then we get sucked in it’s a half an hour, an hour goes by three hours.

You’re like, wow, how did that happen? And it  can be real time. Suck for people. 

[00:11:41] Shailaja: It can, and that’s the, I think that’s the basis for the way social media machine is built. It’s built on the idea of, you know, the dopamine loop, that idea of the slot machine mentality. And I think while there is a responsibility on these giant corporations to try to ensure that we don’t stay on line too long.

And I know, I know that some of them are trying to bring that into the interface and it’s, but it’s not enough in which case there is a responsibility that we can place on ourselves. So one of the most useful practices that I follow, especially when it comes to intentionality on social media is literally the word pause.

So every time I decided. To say, open social media. And I typically only open social media on my laptop. I very rarely use my phone for anything other than texting or phone calls these days. So whenever I decide to open up a social media platform on my laptop, I give myself the power of the pause and I asked myself, I give myself 15 seconds before I decide to open the platform.

And I asked myself, is this urgent? Is this necessary? Am I serving somebody by opening the platform right now? So if I know for instance that somebody may only be reaching out through Facebook or only be reaching me through Instagram or only be connecting with me through LinkedIn. Now, there is a possibility that we’ll have to get back to them.

But in my experience, I have realized that the more we step back from the instant gratification and instant response culture, the more people also realize. She’s taking her time to respond, or maybe I need to reach her another way. Maybe I should send her an email. Or if I, if I know her personally, if I have her phone number, maybe I should just give up, pick up the phone and give her a call.

So in other words, when we decide to train ourselves intentionally in our approach to social media, our audience also learns to. Start implementing the intentionality when they are interacting with us. So they no longer have that expectation that, oh, if I send child ajar message, now she’s going to reply in the next 15 minutes.

It’s, you know, it’s, it’s like a culture of understanding and compassion that we are building for each other. I think that’s important. 

[00:14:04] Krista (host): Yeah. That’s a really great point is I love first of all, just pointing out and I want to. Make this clear and make sure that this is everyone’s mantra for the year is the power of the pause and asking yourself, and also just, you know, like, I love how you, you pointed out those questions that you said around the urgency , is there a purpose for me being on here right now?

Or is there another way I can connect with this person? And I absolutely agree. Um, you know, Sucked in ,  our time is so valuable. And the next thing you know, half of our day is spent and we haven’t achieved anything, or we haven’t really gotten anything meaningful done. So just taking that moment to step back and to think, and reflect and asking yourself as this important?

And the other thing that you mentioned too, that I think is a really helpful tip for people is that you do most of your social media, as you said, Through your desktop, I think you said versus your phone. Um, I think that’s probably will save you and help you be a lot more intentional with your time around social media as well. Right? 

[00:15:09] Shailaja: Absolutely. In fact, one of the things that I teach people through my courses and through my, my posts is the idea that you don’t need to be using your phone. To necessarily post on social media. And if an app says that you need to use the app in order to post a piece of content, I would ask you to always view that with a little bit of criticism, with a little bit of skepticism, because if they say that you can only post to your app, that is their way of slowly reeling you to the app culture.

So for instance, on Instagram, I cannot post to Instagram stories. I cannot do an Instagram live unless I use the app. So I have to ask myself every single time that I, if I need to do an Instagram live, or if I need to post to Instagram stories again, the power of the pause and the power of intention is this necessary right now?

So if I need to let us say, let my audience members know about it. And let me say about the talk that I’m giving or about a live session that I’m going to be doing a few days from now. I can obviously choose to do it on the grid and if I do decide to do it on the grid I can use a desktop. I can use, create a studio or I can use buffer, or I can use tailwind.

There are so many tools right now, which makes it easier for us to post from the desktop. And here’s the fun thing, right? Instagram used to be only an app only platform. It used to be that you couldn’t do any of this. You couldn’t open it on the laptop. You couldn’t, you couldn’t respond to comments. You can respond to direct messages.

You couldn’t even post to the platform without actually using the app. And now everything has shifted slowly. Now we’re able to respond to messages on the desktop. We are able to post content using the desktop, using these creator studio, which means. And now very recently, I think about a month ago, I noticed that you can actually post an IGTV video.

You can upload an IGTV video using the desktop. You don’t need the app. So even Instagram is understanding that if they try to hook people in, if they try to get people to stay on the platform, people are going to rebel and that that’s a standard practice, right? I mean, anytime somebody forces you to do something you’re instinctively put your guard up, you instinctively say, okay, you know what? I don’t want to do this. It’s like, when I talk to my clients, I very rarely say, do this.

I always say, this is what I do. Maybe it will help you. So I’ve always noticed that the power of suggestion is more effective than the power of advice, because advice means I’m coming from a place of, I know this and you should do this, but suggestion says, I’ve been following this maybe it will help you too.

So people are more amenable to the possibility of trying something out now. So it’s not like sound like I’m a [00:18:00] teacher telling you, okay, you have to do this. You have to get in line. You have to follow all these principles. It’s more like a friend telling me, Hey, I tried this.

Maybe you would like to try it too. So it’s more organic.

The right and wrong way to leave social media and practical reasons for diversifying your online presence 

[00:18:10]Krista (host): Those are fantastic tips. And I think if anyone’s listening to this podcast, I talk a lot about doing  things, not in, not necessarily consciously or trying to be against the grain of mainstream marketing, but I think the people who listen to this podcast, there’s this innate rebel in them.

So I think that will be really resonant with a lot of people. So I just wanted to go back a little bit to your experiment. And a few years ago, when my son, when I was pregnant with my son, this would have been in 2017. I was feeling really overwhelmed and I was feeling really burned out. And I realized that I just had too many things on my plate.

Something had to give. So I kept,  my one-to-one clients working behind the scenes and I decided I’m going to take an Instagram break, a social media break. And it was supposed to be, I think for two weeks at the time, two weeks turned into a month. A month turned into two months, then six and then a year.

And then eventually it was two years, I think, and longer before I posted on social media. So obviously my engagement suffered. I had no engagement basically that when I started posting again. I also lost a ton of followers, as you can imagine. And I’m really curious, obviously my approach, was not the right approach.

How did you prepare for taking a 60 day sabbatical? Were you worried about losing engagement? Or messing up the algorithm? Or maybe even losing momentum with the regular consistent posting that you’re doing on Instagram? Are you worried that it’ll be hard to get back to social media? Is that even a concern?

[00:19:42] Shailaja: I love this question. Uh, so we’ll talk, we’ll take each of these principles that you were talking about first. Let’s talk about the algorithm now, you, and I know that one of the things that I advocate  is a no algorithm approach, so I don’t use hashtags. I don’t worry about the existence of the algorithm in my mind, the algorithm doesn’t exist.

Uh, and I don’t worry about posting at the most optimal times or making sure that my audience is always online. I don’t follow any of what I call the standard best practices, as far as Instagram marketing recommends. And I go into this a little bit more in detail in my course, and of course, on my content online.

So that was never a, that was never a challenge for me when I decided to take the sabbatical because I, as far as I’m concerned, if I know that my true audience has started following me and engaging with me, I will not worry about losing followers. Losing engagement or losing what I call my audience, because as I mentioned earlier, my audience will find a way to get in touch with me even off social media.

So that’s the first thing, the second thing that you mentioned, and that was about, uh, content creation and content consistency. Now, as far as I’m concerned, content is content. Whether you post it on social media, whether you posted on YouTube, your podcast, your website, Medium, or wherever it is.

So I was only leaving social media for two months. I wasn’t leaving my blog. I wasn’t leaving. And since I launched my podcast in may, uh, I’ve been posting on my podcast every week. And I’ve, I’ve started to revive my YouTube channel because I feel that has a little bit more permanence than the other forms of social media.

There’s a little bit more SEO. There’s a little bit more of, you know, uh, search intent built into the platform than say Facebook or Instagram or Twitter or, or, uh, you know, Snapchat or whatever, or Tik TOK or whatever it is. So as far as I was concerned, I don’t ever have the problem. of consistency I’ve never had a problem with consistency of content.

I’ve always had the opposite problem, which is too much content. In fact, uh, you asked me at the beginning, what was one of the reasons you decided to take the sabbatical? One was of course the idea. Testing whether my business could survive without social media. The second is the fact that yes, I have 1800 pieces of content on my Instagram page.

And I realized very belatedly that all of it is on Instagram, which means it’s not permanent. Uh, if, if for any reason, Instagram were to shut down tomorrow or, you know, there was, there was a leadership change and the platform itself changed. There would be no way for me to back up any of my content. All of that content would disappear you know, in a poof with the platform.

So there was this part of me, which said I have all this content and I know my audience enjoys. At least some of it let’s say about 50 to 60% of it. And I would like to find a more permanent home for them, either on my website. Or on medium. In fact, I’ve never, I’ve not had a problem with creating content for the last five to six weeks because it’s all been repurposed content.

I’ve, you know, compiled, maybe six or seven pieces of Instagram posts and converted them into a blog post, or I’ve taken up particular post, which got very good engagement on Instagram and turned it into a podcast episode. Or I’ve decided to convert it into a YouTube video. So in other words, consistency of content is never going to be a problem with me, even when I come back to social media in August, because at the heart of it, I know that I will continue to create content, but what I need to be very conscious about is realizing that my social media content has to be secondary to content and platforms that I own.

For instance with the website is content that I own. I pay for my hosting. I pay for a service provider to ensure that my website is up and running. They run regular backups. I run regular backups. So there’s never a problem with my content disappearing without a trace, because I will still have all of that content easy for me to access.

So there is a practical side, but to the sabbatical as well, so it’s not just an emotional thing. It’s not just a business thing. It’s a very practical thing. I don’t want all of my content to only live on social media. Uh, some of the things I’ve been doing is my IGTV videos. For instance, I’ve been downloading some of my I G T V videos and reposting them to YouTube because it’s all content I’ve created.

It’s the, it’s the same me, the same person. It doesn’t matter because, and as, as our coach, uh, George says, it’s not a question of whether your audience will get tired of you because you show up in all of these places because not your, all of your audience is finding you on all of the platforms. Some of my audience finds me on Instagram.

Some people find me through medium. Some people find me through Google, which means they find me on YouTube or the website. And maybe now some people are finding me through a podcast. So in other words, Having that consistency of content is important, whether they were on or off social media. So I don’t think that will be a challenge for me when I come back.

How to get out of perfectionism and start posting content on social media and build your online presence 

[00:24:57] Krista (host): Thank you for that.  One of the things, things that I heard you say is,  you took a break from Instagram, but you’re still other places. And the reason that I point that out is I work with  you know, in my case, when I took my sabbatical, I was nowhere I wasn’t on social media. I wasn’t podcasting.

They didn’t have a YouTube channel at the time. So there was no way for me to be visible. I had a few clients, luckily I had some SEO as well, built up on my website. And so clients were finding me through there and I was getting a few referrals.  

And then I had also worked with a lot of clients who really get in a state of perfectionism when it comes to creating content or they’re new and they don’t have a lot of content. What would you say to someone who is, maybe worried about getting started on social media? They don’t have a lot of content. How important is it to have that presence?

[00:25:53]Shailaja: As a recovering type A slash perfectionist person, I can totally relate to this particular feeling because for a very long time, I used to think that if the content I was creating was not my best content or my most ideal content or most relevant to my target audience, then I should not be putting it out there.

Because who knows how people will react or, you know, there is a sense of fear, right? There’s a sense of fear, which is okay. If I put up this piece of content and it doesn’t hit the right note, I’m going to lose followers. So what I realized very belatedly was, especially as a business owner, uh, was the time was operating from a space of fear.

So when you operate from a space of fear, you’re always going to have all of these roadblocks in front of you. However, when I shift from the operating from a space of love, which means I love creating content. I love connecting with my audience. That reframing is so important. So it’s never a problem for me now to show up and create content.

Even if nobody reads my content. For instance, on medium, I post maybe two or three times a week. Not all of my content gets visibility. Uh, not all of my content gets readers or views or, you know, appreciation or claps or whatever. But I call that my testing ground. I call it a place to just put my words out on paper.

Just put my thoughts down, just treat it like a journaling exercise, because what’s the worst that could happen. Somebody could find your content and say, oh, you know what? This person’s content isn’t for me. That’s okay. That’s perfectly. Okay. And here’s the beauty of it. The same person may come back to your content three years later because they are in the right mindset at that time to be receptive to your content.

So it’s not you, it’s not them. It’s not even the content. I think what we have to understand as each of us are at different stages of our journey. So don’t judge yourself. For putting out content don’t judge others for not responding or reacting or connecting or engaging with your content. Don’t even judge your content.

Because when we start getting into that mode of judgment and fear, we put a lot. You know, roadblocks in our own paths. But if I start creating and say, Hey, I love writing. It’s like, one of the things I love writing is my weekly newsletter. I keep telling myself, I should make my newsletter shorter. I could, you know, I should make it more concise, but it never happens.

It’s always this long rambling, you know, coffee table conversation with my readers and every time I think, okay, I should, you know, scale back. I should make this smaller. I should not be rambling every time. I think that I get at least three or four emails every single week from my readers saying, I wait for your newsletter.

I wait for it to land in my inbox because you’re just talking, you’re just talking. You’re not selling me anything. You’re not asking me to do anything. You’re just asking me to read relax, pick up a cup of coffee and say, oh, this is what you know, this is what Shailaja has been up to this week. And this is what she wants to share with me as a creator.

And here’s the really interesting thing that happens when you start creating content from that space of abundance. From that space of love from the space of generosity, your clients will actually find you. I’m not saying they will instantly sign up or they will instantly reach out. It takes time, right?

Trust takes time. Authority takes time and expertise, states time. But what happens is when people see you show up consistently flaws and all, and they say, oh, this person is speaking my language. You know, she is exactly what I’ve been looking for. Then people start reaching out. For instance, I remember I posted my, you know, the, the post about my social media sabbatical on the 27th of May.

Uh, two days ago, I got an email from somebody saying I was missing your posts on Instagram. I was waiting for it. And then I went and looked for it. And then I found your post, which said that you’re taking a sabbatical and I was reaching out to check if everything is okay, are you fine? Are you doing well?

So in other words, it’s not a client. It’s just a genuine follower reaching out to find out if everything okay. You know, are things okay at your end. So she’s not a newsletter subscriber. She’s not a client. She’s not even a potential client. She’s just somebody who enjoys following my work on social media.

And who felt It in her heart to reach out as another human being to say, is everything okay with you? Why are you taking the sabbatical? So I think that element of connection only happens when your audience is able to see you’re showing up. And the really important thing I want to emphasize here and to every content creator out there do not worry about the number of followers.

If you lose followers, that’s part of the game. If people stop following your content on social media or unsubscribe from your newsletter, it’s all part of the game. Please focus on the people who are connecting with you. If that’s five people, that’s 10 people. That is way more than what any of us could have anticipated anyway.

But if we tried to connect with, you know, 500 people, 5,000 people, 50,000 people a. You’re Putting a lot of pressure on yourself, and you’re also placing a lot of expectations on your audience. We all need to come to that space to say, I’m creating this content. I’m enjoying the process and just loving, showing up with all my scars.

And for, I remember one particular post of mine. I hadn’t checked the graphic and I had a typo. Oh, somebody very sweetly reached out and said, you have a typo and you have a large audience. So I wanted to reach out and tell you, I responded saying thank you so much for figuring out that I have a typo, irrespective of whether I have a large audience or a smaller audience, please feel free to let me know that I made a typo.

And I, and I put up a story, you know, about two, three hours after putting up the post saying, look, I’ve got a typo. I’m not deleting the post. I’m not taking it down. I’m just saying these things happen.  I used to be an editor. I used to be, you know, my, one of my professional roles before I got into business was an editor.

So my role was to, you know, find flaws, proofread, edit, make sure there were no grammatical errors. So if an editor can make a mistake, it just was other people that, you know, we’re all human. It’s perfectly fine. Just show up, do the work and trust me, your audience will find you. That consistency is more important than anything else.

And that consistency can get me anything. It doesn’t have to be six days a week. It doesn’t have to be three days a week. Could just be two days a week. It could be once a week. So I know people who do one video a week, one podcast episode a week, but their audience knows this person will be putting up a podcast episode.

This week. They’ll be publishing a new video later this week. So, let me go ahead and check it out. When I get the time to see if there’s something new that they have to share. So that rhythm is more important than being perfect. And I’ve rambled as usual. 

Can your business survive without social media? 

[00:33:00] Krista (host): No, that was a beautifully articulated reframe. I hope my audience is listening and they resonate and they hear this and they get inspired to just start posting.

Cause I have so many clients that I’ve seen currently and in the past who aren’t getting themselves out there because that perfectionism is really holding them back and along the same line of messaging that you have. You know, I try to,  inspire them to get out there just as a form of self-expression to express their ideas and not to mention, you know, posting content is a fantastic way to gain clarity in your ideas and to really refine your message that doesn’t happen through one post that happens by doing it over and over and over and over again, and showing up, as you said, in a consistent way. So thank you so much. That was really, really, powerful.

I love the way that you put all of that. So there’s one question.  When I saw  your initial Instagram caption about taking your sabbatical, there was something very striking about your post and you opened with a question and the question was, can your business and blog thrive without social media?

So I’m really curious. What do you think your answer will be at the end of this experiment? I think I know the answer already, but I’d love to hear in your own words for our listeners. Can your business survive and thrive without social media? 

[00:34:23] Shailaja: In my very honest opinion, I believe it can survive. It will.

It just will take a little more effort because to be honest, social media is a good gateway for us to connect with our ideal audience because they are there. Uh, if you’re, if we were to rely on other channels, like let’s say a podcast or SEO, oh YouTube. Uh, we have to be ready for giving it a little more time.

So time will be of truly of the essence, you know, in terms of patience and consistency in comparison to say doing it on social media. So am I telling people that you should quit social media and only focus on your website? No, it’s not that I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, look for other avenues. To keep your, you know, your income streams viable to make sure that you are getting, uh, whatever your kind of business to ensure that you are not fragmenting your attention across, you know, six different or eight different platforms, because what happens there, I’ve noticed, especially for people like you and me who are mothers, you know, as working mothers, we also want to be able to spend time with the family.

One of the reasons I even took up this particular business is because I wanted to be answerable primarily to myself. I no longer wanted to do. A job, any job where I was answering to someone else. So if I, if I decide to step back from a job like that, but then I step into social media where I’m constantly at the Beck and call of notifications and messages and, you know, seven different things which are vying for my attention.

I’ve just shifted my employer it’s as simple as that. So I’m no longer focusing on the fact that I can make time for myself. Make time to spend with my daughter, make time to, you know, experiment in the kitchen or read a book or go for a walk or just listen to music or just sit in meditation or just doing nothing at all.

Because these are all, these are all things. I believe are very critical to us as human beings, more than our business, more than anything else in the world. Because even if your business were to take a dip, let me say, because you can go off social media. And I know this is something that a lot of people are worried about and why they don’t take that break because it’s, again, that fear it’s that fear, which says, if I stop posting on social media, people will forget about my existence.

If I stopped showing up on social media, they won’t know about the wonderful work that I am doing. So my recommendation is take that plunge. Maybe not for two months, the way I have maybe for a weekend. Maybe for a week, maybe for 10 days, give yourself that space to figure out how it is that  you’re going to be able to manage this.

And is there an alternative, is there an alternative to social media? Because if there is, I believe you will be able to answer this question for yourself as well. In my personal opinion, I truly believe that while I can thrive without social media. I will not be leaving my social media just yet. So I would love to continue to explore social media as a space, to connect with my audience, to listen to their challenges and to ensure that while I become more intentional, I allow them the space to be more intentional as well in their usage of the platform.

So in other words, I don’t want them to say I’m on social media only to follow. you no don’t need to do that. You can follow me through my website. You can follow me through my newsletter. You can connect with me through email. So I don’t want people, cause I remember somebody saying I created a social media account only because I can follow your posts on Instagram.

I don’t want people to do that either. I want people to know that you can survive without social media, whether you choose to or not is completely  optional. 

Where Shailaja currently hangs out online 

[00:38:19] Krista (host): That’s really, really helpful. It’s really important to make sure as you said what I’m hearing you say is not spreading yourself too thin and thinking that you need to be everywhere, but you do need to be somewhere.

You need to be showing up somewhere. And as we talked about, um, a few minutes ago, getting your ideas out there, getting your, your beliefs, your philosophy, something for, for your people to connect with at the very least. So if you’re not on social media right now, I know you’re in other places, where are you hanging out?

[00:38:54] Shailaja: So right now, I’m hanging out on my podcast, my YouTube channel, my site, which is always, and always my first love because I started it 14 years ago. And it is something that I hope to be doing for another couple of decades, at least, and on medium. And of course my newsletter. So you’ll notice I still have five other platforms, technically speaking, because, and if I were to just dedicate one day of the week to each of those platforms, I would still be able to connect with my audience and my true audience is able to connect with me as well.

Advice for content creators who want to grow their audience

[00:39:28] Krista (host): If George Kao is the king of content, you’re most definitely the queen. And as you said, you have 1800 pieces of content on Instagram, alone. That’s not including medium or your blog and all of the other amazing places that you’re showing up and sharing your wisdom with us.

So what would you say to someone who obviously the average person does not have that much content? So in your case, You can take that break from social media, you have a ton of content that you can repurpose and that you can use. And as you said, you’re not having to create it with 1800 pieces of content on Instagram and then your blog.

You’re not having to create content every day. You’re you just have to kind of go in there and find pieces and, and repurpose what you already have. So for the person who is just getting started on the journey, what’s your best tip for them in helping them grow their audience. Getting started. We talked a little bit about overcoming those roadblocks and perfectionism, but what’s your best tip for helping someone who’s just getting started with social media to grow their audience or, or medium or wherever they’re deciding to show up?

[00:40:31] Shailaja: I also have a free ebook called the 90-day, social media game plan. I linked I’ll send you the link so you can link to it in the comments. Um, what I’ve realized is what you are seeing of me today is after 14 years, So, you know, I’m off those 14 years, the first six years, I created content in complete oblivion.

Nobody knew about my existence except my mom, because you know, she, I would send her a link to my website. Every time I uploaded an article or things like that, I actually got onto social media actively  uh, as a content creator. And as somebody marketing my work only in 2013, middle of 2013, I would say.

Instagram, I got active on it only in late 2018, early 2019. So it’s about two years now. Now in two years, if I’ve created close to 1500 or 1800 pieces of content, you can imagine the amount of content I’ve created consistently. And one of the things I told her myself, I’m going to just experiment. I’m going to write about everything that I enjoy.

I’m not going to restrict myself to a niche. I’m not going to stay say that this is what I’m going to talk about. I’m just going to go write about everything that comes to mind. And as it developed, I started finding my voice, my authentic voice and where I was able to talk with a little more authority.

For instance, I remember I used to talk a lot about fitness and the workout routine and things like that. Between writing about that and just writing about general habit building, I always felt more comfortable writing about general habit building because general habit building is something that I can talk about.

You know, for six hours at a stretch without a script, because it’s something that I truly believe in I truly, and not from a space of productivity and not from a space of time management, but from a space of personal growth and self-development, and what I’ve realized is it’s only when you experiment and leave yourself open to creating content, irrespective of what your audience thinks about you.

That you can actually build up that volume of content. So the number one thing I would tell people is don’t worry about thinking about what should I create. Just start creating, start writing about anything that strikes your fancy. After a month after two months, maybe after three months, you’ll start finding a pattern.

You’ll start noticing that some of your pieces of content are things that directly resonate with both you and your audience. And then you can slowly decide to fine tune it. Then you can slowly decide to say, okay, this is who I am. This is what I really want to talk about, you know, over the next three years or five years or 10 years or whatever it could be.

And that’s the beauty of it. It’s always flexible. It’s always changing. You don’t have to say. I am a writer who talks about parenting. So I’m only going to be talking about parenting for the next decade or so. I started as a parenting writer. I started as a parenting blogger now, although I do talk about parenting every now and then it is not my core purpose or my core focus.

Now my focus is, you know, a blog coach or a social media coach or a productivity coach or a writing coach. So in other words, I’m where I can wear these multiple hats because I’ve been creating content so consistently. So I think the number one thing, if your audience is listening and they’re having this challenge that they’re facing is to tell themselves, let me let go of all my inhibitions, all my expectations of what my audience thinks I should create.

And let me just start creating. Let me just start writing if we just start putting content out there. Because when I do that, I find my true voice and my audience is able to find it as well 

Final words of wisdom from our special guest, Shailaja Vishwanath

[00:44:17] Krista (host): thank you so much, Shailaja. That was incredible. Even though, you know, in many ways we’re peers, I am very much a student of your work.

I think that you are a fantastic, you’re the real deal. She gets amazing engagement on her content. And I will be sure to leave all of the links and resources that we talked about, how you can find her, where you can find her and get all of her good blog posts and writing she’s at a fantastic writer.

She writes a lot of  helpful articles on medium as well. I just want to say thank you so much for your words of wisdom today, your inspiration, and I’m looking forward to seeing you again and connecting with you back on the ‘Gram when you get back, any final words you’d like to share? 

[00:45:06] Shailaja: Uh, like I said, I think, I think one of the things I would love everybody to consider as part of the overall. Content strategy is the idea of connection through connection will open doors in ways that you wouldn’t even anticipate it is. It is how I found George Kao or a mentor. It is how I found you. It is how I find all of the people I’m currently connected with.

Some of it will take time. Some of it will happen in the, in, you know, and just a spark of a moment like you said. Uh, but all of it will be authentic. All of it, we’ll be genuine. And all of it will be with people whom you truly want to stay connected with. So don’t underestimate the power of true connection and authentic, uh, you know, collaboration because there is so much the world has to offer in the space of heart-based marketing.

And I hope we are all able to find that in our own individual universes.