Episode 28: Social Media Marketing with Jamie Samples
Jamie Samples is the creator of Yellow Barn Media, a full-service marketing firm geared toward equine businesses. This Michigan native thrives on helping companies attract and develop loyal customers, and she does it on a variety of platforms: e-courses, webinars, masterminds, coaching, speaking engagements, etc.
Jamie and Abigail shared a Lyft ride on our way to the AHP Equine Media Conference in June—followed by a lot more fun conversations over food and drinks throughout the weekend. She lives in Michigan on a farm with her husband Eddie and 4-year-old son, Edison. Jamie is passionate about helping businesses in our industry, and we’re excited to hear her advice for freelancers on how to promote ourselves on social media.
Freelance Remuda: Tell us about your equine buddies, particularly your donkey!
Jamie has been riding since she was young and today she has a Welsh pony, “Happy” who is a mare, and the donkey, “Stella.” She also has chickens and cats. Stella is a wonderful way for Jamie’s son to learn horsemanship because she is little like he is little.
FR: So let’s dive into our topic. As freelancers, we have a really tough time promoting ourselves—whether it’s through press releases or posts on our Facebook pages. What advice can you give our compadres listening about using social media to promote ourselves?
First, she says to be consistent. As freelancers, we focus on our clients and customers and forget about our business. Jamie says to use a scheduler, outsource to a virtual assistant or another way to maintain consistency. Outsourcing can be hard for a one-man or one-woman-show type business, but outsourcing can give the freelancer more time to work on business and not spending time creating posts for an audience. (she posted a video on Outsourcing HERE)
Second, Jamie says to use social media to find out information about your audience. Thinking outside your own interests and how potential clients think is best for creating and posting content. Watch which posts get more attention and think like that in the future.
FR: What is an example of a great post?
Posting work is a leg up for photographers on a visual social media platform. Jamie is a proponent of collaborating. Find a natural promotion, like a writer and a photographer that work together, to create posts that go together and boost reach. Jamie says that freelancers forget to promote themselves, just be sure not to be “slimy.” Promote yourself in a positive way. She says to limit posts to quality information.
Also, Jamie advises to create posts that include photos of you. Freelancers are the face of their brand, and posting photos of yourself helps engagement, especially on Facebook.
Posts should vary based on which social media platform Jamie is posting to that day. If you’re too private and don’t want to share, remember that freelancers need to let potential clients get to know you.
FR: There are so many social media platforms to pick. What works best for freelancers or small business promotion?
Jamie recommends two, and Facebook isn’t one of them. She is “in love” with LinkedIn. “The horse industry is not using it to its max capacity.” While LinkedIn doesn’t have the personal nature like Facebook and can be less visual, it has as many opportunities for video and photos, and also has fewer photographers and freelancers. LinkedIn uses hashtags, too. Jamie says it is underutilized for freelancers.
The second is Instagram. It can be “insanely powerful” if used properly. But, people need to use hashtags—you can use up to 30 to generate engagement.
Make sure you’re signed up for our email list to get Jamie’s list of 95 horse hashtag ideas!
FR: Can you share any other tips on creating strategies that work for our businesses?
A general strategy in regards to marketing and social media is to reach out to others in a community. She says freelancers can feel lonely, or out against the world to build a business, and that can be hard. One strategy that worked for her is to have an accountability partner that understands your industry. She uses an app called Boxer. She and her partner helped each other build their businesses. The freelancer community is out there; find “your person” and you can get a lot more done. Without someone to hold you accountable, it doesn’t get done.
Find one or two social media platforms and then “get married” to those platforms. Make sure your audience is where you’re putting in the effort on social media. Writers can do awesome on LinkedIn; photographers can really use Instagram. Jamie says to write down goals so you can check them off or hit them in a good timeframe. Commit to 90 days to build the relationships on social media, and then access how the audience responds.
Kate says that scheduling posts out is how she stays on top of posting on Facebook. Even a year out, she will create a post that relates to a photo or an article that is being published. Jamie talks about finding a horse event calendar to use to schedule shout outs to the people attending those events, especially if she is attending. It allows Jamie to “talk” to more people than she will see in person, or help her make an online connection.
Jamie uses Later.com as a scheduler. She uses the Pro version because she schedules client accounts, but the scheduler has different levels.
FR: Talk to use about things we should avoid doing? Can we promote ourselves the wrong way?
Jamie talks about Facebook groups as a way to promote yourself, but also as a catch-22. Sometimes people push too hard in groups—not every person in a group is the ideal customer. Jamie says that when someone is worried about bills or too ultra-focused on getting a client, some promotion can come off pushy. Appreciation marketing is great, if done the right way.
One “slimy” way to reach out is a blind message on Facebook or another platform that includes a message that doesn’t relate to her or her business. Instead, send a message directly that introduces yourself and says what you do, and opens the door to collaboration. So, first introduce yourself before promoting yourself.
Facebook groups are your best place to find collaborators or accountability partners. Don’t “unload” your feelings on the group when there are other industry professionals in the group. Remember to stay professional. Offer help when asked. Jamie says: Build the relationship, share about yourself, open up and be transparent. When people see you as a resource, they will come to you for advice and business help.
FR: You did a whole seminar on Facebook Live at AHP. Can you give us some advice on how not to be that awkward double-chinned mess we all feel like when we go live? What should we even talk about?
Jamie “loves” Facebook Live, but she understands why people make excuses not to go live. She suggests first finding the top 10 topics to talk about in a Live by first identifying the 10 questions your clients ask you, for example: What is your photography style? How much do you charge? She suggests looking at your business, looking at what is trending in the horse world, and listing those topics where you can offer good advice or expert information.
Jamie says you can practice without going live. And, if you go live and its horrible, you can always delete it! Her most viewed Facebook Live was inspired by her own loss, and called “Grief, Loss and the Entrepreneur.” It touched a nerve in the community, and didn’t directly talk about her sales.
FR: Do you have any other advice or encouragement you’d like to tell our listeners on promotion for our industry?
Jamie repeats that freelancers need other people, or a community. Find someone to bounce ideas off and help build a business. She says: collaboration instead of competition. Don’t give up, or view something as a failure, but a step toward finding focus. Jamie say to find a cheerleader for your business, always do your best and do it the right way, and have character.
FR: How can people find you online?
About The Freelance Remuda
The Freelance Remuda is a podcast about navigating the equine media frontier. Co-hosted by seasoned freelance professionals Abigail Boatwright and Kate Bradley Byars, the podcast explores the trials and triumphs surrounding life as a freelancer in equine media, while sharing valuable tips from equine media editors and creatives doing what they love. Find and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and Stitcher.
*Special thanks to our podcast episode editor John Harrer of The Whoa Podcast!