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With all of the constant shifts in the blogging industry, from social media algorithms to influencer marketing trends, the one thing that stays consistent is your brand.
After being a content creator for a while, you realize pretty quickly that you don’t have control over many things. You’ll never be able to control how many likes you get on a post, or how much engagement your blog pieces get But, you can always optimize your brand to be in the best position possible day in and day out.
Back at MVCon 2019, Jocelyn Delk Adams took the stage to talk all things brand. She’s the founder of Grandbaby Cakes, a brand inspired by her grandmother which shares classic recipes in a modern and accessible way.
In this podcast episode, you’ll hear her top tips on how to align your brand with your personal passion and create a community that you love. You don’t want to miss it!
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[MUSIC PLAYING] JOCELYN ADAMS: Good morning. Yeah! I’m the only one excited to be here? OK, I just want to apologize for the weather in Chicago. It sucks. I am sorry.
I am sorry. It will get better tomorrow. How is everyone doing? Yeah, I feel like I’m doing the Oprah-like thing.
Well, first of all, we’re going to go from high energy to probably some kind of cooler energy. And we’ll go back and forth because this is a serious topic. So for you guys who are blogging a year or less, raise your hands, a year or less. Oh, so everybody is like OGs up in here?
Right? OK, so what about four to five years? OK, yeah, y’all need this. You burn out. Anything above that? Oh, my gosh, and you’re still doing it. OK, clap for yourselves for real, right? Because this is hard.
Staying fired up about your brand is very, very difficult to do. You’ve got the ebbs and flows. I mean, I’m sure most of you are not waking up every single day like, oh, my gosh, I can not wait to do SEO today. No? No, right?
This is difficult. And it’s like, oh, my gosh, I cannot wait to go out and do 20 more Instagram shoots today. It gets difficult to stay in the mix. So I have a presentation, and I have all of these thoughts about things you guys can do to externally keep the fire going and internally keep the fire going.
But this morning, I had a lot more revelations. It was at like 3:00 in the morning. And I was up with my daughter. And I started writing in what looks like my eighth grade journal. Does anyone still do that?
And so I have more stuff to offer too. And the first thing that came to mind for me is that staying fired up about your brand, that’s inner work, right? So when you come to these conferences, you’re going to learn so much about strategy, about how you can do all of the things, the things that keep your brand growing.
But what about the things that keep you invested? What about the things that keep you excited about what you do every day? Because it’s difficult. How many of you guys do this full time? A lot of you– so the first thing I like to do is I recognize the gratitude.
Because how many of you guys love what you do, right? Do you ever talk to some of your friends who go to a 9:00 to 5:00 or whatever, work weekends, not like us? But and their jobs suck.
Right? That is real. I’m talking about the people who are at the cubicle right now. And they are going to go get coffee. They’re going to talk to somebody at the water cooler– big fun. They’re going to be on the phone later. And this is what they do day in and day out.
But you guys are here, right? Think about the fun things you get to do. You get to interact with people online. You get to speak to them from your blog. You have this personal voice. You have something to offer.
And you get to do all this stuff like work with brands. You get to be creative, and you can make this industry whatever you want. Is that not amazing? Is that not inspiring enough, right?
So that’s the first place I start with. Every day, I wake up. I’m like, OK, I could be at a cubicle. I know this sucks. I know the Google update sucked. I know the algorithm change sucked.
But I get to do this. And this is incredible. I actually make a living from this. Today, I’m talking to you guys. This is awesome.
I was so excited this morning that this is my job today. I get to talk to you guys about this. And I think that is so incredible. So I’ll actually start with some stuff– I should– that I did here.
Oh, there it is. So I want to start with the personal passion part. That’s the inner work, the thing that we start with that gets us to start our blogs in the first place. What was the thing that made you say, you know what? I want to write a blog.
I know there’s millions out there. Because it is oversaturated, right? Do you guys feel that pressure seeing that there are so many blogs out there?
JOCELYN ADAMS: Yeah, I heard some amen. I heard some of that out there. And you feel like, oh, my gosh, what am I offering that someone else isn’t offering, right? How many cookies can I write about? How many dresses can I wear? Because we all do different things.
But you’ve got to stay committed to who you are. That authenticity is so, so, so important. And that is what helps people connect with you. If you look at your communities, whether you have 10,000 followers, whether you have 100,000 followers, how ever many followers you have, they clicked follow, or they subscribed. Why?
Ask yourself that question. Are you bringing that to them every single day? Are you continuing to bring them what makes you so special? Why they clicked follow in the first place, that was a personal choice. You made them believe that, hey, I can relate to this person. Something is drawing me in.
So are you finding that every single day in the material that you post? Are you continuing to get excited about the things that you post? And let me tell you. It is really, really, really difficult to continue to do this year after year after year.
So most of the time, from a personal standpoint, I am super excited about my job. But then there are days and there are months when I’m not. That’s just real.
So for me, my grandmother was the inspiration on my blog. And when she passed away at the end of last year, I was so done. That is just the truth. I did not want to blog anymore. That excitement just wasn’t there.
So what were the things that kind of got me back in it? One– this was some of the stuff I wrote down in my notebook this morning– you will not be motivated every single day, right? You just won’t. What are the things that will continue to push you when you don’t feel motivation?
Motivation is fleeting. It’s the people who go to the gym three times a week, and you’re like, do you want to get up at 5:00 AM? That’s what you want to do. How do you do that, right?
They don’t feel like it. No one feels like running in the mornings. Just stop.
Just stop. But there’s something pushing you beyond that. There’s something that gets you up in the morning. So for me, I started a ritual. And everybody can start a ritual.
Whenever I feel like, OK, I just do not want to do this, I play music. I’m like, OK, let me just play one hype, get up, get me fired up song for like three minutes. And if at the end of that I still don’t feel like doing the work that I have to do, then fine I’ll give myself a pass.
But what happens is I usually do feel pretty fired up and excited by the end of it. And then I end up doing some work. And then as soon as you start, you kind of get into it. You’re fine. You just have to get up and start.
So that’s the first thing is just really figuring out ways to continue to push yourself and find the thing that makes you excited, the thing that really makes you feel that personal passion each and every day. So here’s another thing, charity. OK, how many people have actually given back through their brands? Not a lot of people, right?
And I don’t mean like you have to like go out and do like a bake sale or something. I don’t mean that. But actually doing something that feels good, that feels good. I know whenever I give in any capacity, I feel good about it. I feel like it’s beyond me.
This is why you have Fortune 500 companies that have charitable divisions. You know what I mean? They do this philanthropic work because it feels good. They have all of these billions of dollars, but they have these arms devoted to doing something, giving back in some type of way.
So is there a way that you can connect your brand when you’re like, OK, I’m doing this? And my goal is– so for some of you, it could just be I want to make money for my family. There is nothing wrong with that. You do not have to have some huge, lofty, amazing, like make everyone cry why.
You don’t have to have that. It could just be like, I just want to pay my bills. Thanks. It could be that.
But is there something else that makes you feel good about using your brand to help? Or maybe it’s writing a blog post about something that means something to you or a charity or a cause that means something to you or actually using your audience to promote something that’s going on or helping an event that’s raising money for a cause that you’re interested in that connects back to your brand. Those are ways to maybe keep you excited about the work that you do when it’s just about the money or it’s just about getting the ins and outs done every single day.
What else can you give? What else can you give? I wrote this line this morning. And this one was so important to me.
But how many of you guys have goals that you truly love and not someone else’s goal? But I wrote this this morning. I was like, you can not stay inspired chasing someone else’s dream. That was an aha this morning in the Lyft, OK?
Because how many of you guys are doing what you think you’re supposed to be doing within your business? Yeah, I see some hands. Seriously, how many of you guys are like, OK, I’m just going to do this because I see these bloggers doing this?
And I just feel like I just need to continue because that’s what’s hot. That’s what I need to do. This is what everyone else is doing. Everyone’s following this path, so I need to jump on it too. A lot of people, yeah?
So how can you keep up true inspiration if it’s not for you, if it’s not something you truly want to do? This is the thing I love about this business so much. You do not have to follow one path, right?
This is not like being a lawyer. This is not like you have to go to law school. You have to pass the bar. There is no A to Z here.
I love when I see so many people in this industry do their own thing. And they are all successful. Is there anyone here that you guys love or recognize?
And you’re like, OK, I have a blogger in mind. I love that they have just decided to do their own thing, and they are really making it. Anybody know, follow people? Her? Hi. Someone pointed to you, girl.
AUDIENCE: Did you point at me?
JOCELYN ADAMS: You inspired somebody. OK, what do you love about what she does?
AUDIENCE: She’s very funny.
AUDIENCE: Everything. [LAUGHS]
JOCELYN ADAMS: Well, is there something where you say she doesn’t follow the crowd?
AUDIENCE: Her focus and goal is environmentalism. But she does it in an accessible way through recipes and craft projects. So people have recipes and craft projects, but she’s got a sneaky way to get environmentalism into every project she does.
JOCELYN ADAMS: That’s pretty dope.
AUDIENCE: Thank you.
JOCELYN ADAMS: I mean, no, that is. I haven’t seen that. Has anyone seen that? I haven’t. I haven’t seen that.
Anyone else? Is there anyone else that you guys are inspired by? They don’t even have to be in the room but someone that you follow that you’re like, wow, I really love that they do this unique thing. And it works for them, and they’re successful.
If you can’t think of anything, that’s fine. But you guys want to start following people that inspire you. How many people go online, and you immediately want to get off because you hate everybody and–
You’re like, oh, gosh, why did I do this? This was a bad decision, right? Where you feel like immediately so bad about what you do, so bad about yourself– you start comparing your photography, your work, your captions, your blog, your recipe, everything, to what these other people are doing. And I hate that social media sometimes makes us feel that way.
But sometimes it’s a good way of understanding, how can I be different? I love that this person does this. I don’t like that they make me feel like crap, but I love that this person does this.
And let me just say this too. This is not like a fun thing. But for those people who do feel like crap– because I actually have talked to like at least 10 people in the last couple of days about this– you guys know you guys can mute people, right?
Use the mute. Use the mute. Feel good about yourself. It’s hard in these streets. Use the mute. If you look at someone’s feed every single day and you don’t want to do what you want to do or you feel like your work isn’t valid, stop looking, right?
You don’t have to do it. You don’t have to do it how everyone else is doing it. So I think that that is really crucial, finding a way to connect with yourself. This is inner work, y’all. Who thought that your business was about inner work? But it is.
Creating a community with people means you have to find the things about yourself that you want to share. We all have to share. That’s what we do, right? Well, most of us– well, all of us, all of us share.
Some of us are like, well, I don’t feel like I want to share too much of myself. And that’s fine. But I appreciate and connect with people who tell me that they’re normal too. They’re normal people. Everyone’s out there sucking. It’s fine.
It’s fine, right? So I did write that down. And you guys remember that. You can not stay inspired chasing someone else’s dream.
OK, here’s another thing. How many of you guys have like a posse, right? Y’all have posses?
Y’all are like, yeah, we’re all together, getting drinks later, posse. So you guys need homies in this industry. And I mean not just people who you talk about this business with, because of course, you need to be able to talk that out, but people you can just talk about your feelings in general, right?
Because you are not just your business. Your worth is not just tied to your brand. You are a complete person with a brand. And you need to have that division.
But for people talking to the different people in your inner group and you’re continuing to connect, that is so crucial for me. It is so crucial for me. Because then it’s like– this is what my therapist says, because I fully embrace therapy 100%. My therapist, I will be like, oh, my gosh, I’m having the worst day, right?
It’s like, I don’t feel like doing anything. My business sucks. I’m just not into it, right? And I don’t feel like I’m affecting anyone. I don’t feel like I’m giving anything, and I just feel like I should just stop because it doesn’t even matter.
Anyone ever have one of those days? Or am I the only one? A lot of you are like, said that this morning.
So this is what my therapist says. She’s like, mhm, mhm. She’s like, OK, so that’s how you feel. She’s like, but can we look at the evidence now?
Oh, my god, I love that so much. It is such a Oprah thing because it’s like we all feel that. We’re always like– there’s the days when we’re like, oh, my god, I’m not into it. I don’t think I’m giving anything. This person over here is doing all of this.
And like, who cares about what I have to offer? Who cares, right? And then she’s like, uh-huh, those are your feelings. But where is the evidence that backs that up?
And there never really is any. When you actually look at the facts, it never is the same. You actually find that people are connecting with you, that people do appreciate what you do. Then you get an email from someone like, oh, my gosh, I love what you do. I’ve been following you for years.
Please never leave the internet. And then you’re like, oh, you care. You care. But it’s like you’ve got to find ways to continue to, outside of those things, remember the evidence. Look at the evidence of what you do.
So growth mindset, going back to this, growth mindset, how many of you guys feel like you’re stagnant sometimes, stagnant? A lot of people, OK? So how many of you guys think it’s connected to how you feel about your business versus what is true about you? Yeah, yeah, OK, so if you guys looked back even a year ago– a lot of you guys have been in the mix for like five.
I saw even 10-year people, bloggers, which is incredible. Do you look at how far you’ve come? Does anyone ever do that? Do you? Because I know we’re always chasing the next thing. It’s so hard to like, you get something. You have a goal. You have a dream.
And then you get it. After all this time, you finally get it. And you’re happy for like five seconds.
This is 100% me. And then you are on to the next thing. But do you ever say, oh, my gosh, I did this? I remember when I was this small. Look at this growth. Look at this. Look at where I’ve come.
Look how far I’ve come. Look at where I was a year ago. Look at where I was six months ago. Does anyone look back? Not really, right?
Because we want to beat ourselves up. We do. It’s fun sometimes but not so fun. But here’s the thing.
It’s like you’ve got to look at the strides you made, because that’s going to keep this healthy. That’s going to keep you excited about continuing. That’s going to keep you fired up, because you’re going to see the progress.
You’re going to see the progression. You’re going to see that you hit these benchmarks. You actually did it. You wrote some goal down four years ago. And you may have like, oh, my gosh, I actually surpassed that. I didn’t even realize it, but that was my goal four years ago. And I’ve done it.
So I do vision boards. I love vision boards. And you don’t have to do it with magazines and the old-school way where you cut stuff out, and you put it on the board and everything. You don’t have to do it that way, but a lot of people do Pinterest boards.
Anyone do that? Yeah, so it’s like, for instance, you have a brand that you want to work with. Slap the logo in the board, this private board that you create.
Or if it’s like, OK, I want to do this. I want to take this trip, because it’s not always blog-related. It’s not always brand-related. The other stuff too helps you to build a better brand. Being fulfilled in life in other areas helps you to become a better brand.
So if it’s like, I want to take this trip because I want to learn about this type of cuisine and I know that I can apply this to my recipes and I can learn, like I went to Paris a couple of years ago. And I took a croissant class. And that was so fun because my husband took it too. He was terrible.
And it was for my enjoyment basically. But it was so fun to do something that was not necessarily strategy-related. It was just something that was going to broaden my horizons and make me excited about what I do and maybe possibly inspire some recipes, right?
But it’s something that you can think about. What are the things that you want to do? Start dreaming again. Start writing those things down again. But also, as you get closer to those dreams, don’t forget to step back and look at how far you’ve come. Do not forget that step. It is crucial.
And dee, dee, dee, I’ve got more. I’ve got more, yay! [LAUGHS] OK, this thing is slow. But it’ll pop up in a second.
But also, this was another thing I wrote down too. You’ve got to play the long game, right? And some of you guys are playing that, so I won’t spend a lot of time on this. Because if you’ve been doing this for even two or three years, you are in it.
You are in it. And I am sure that you’ve had the ups and downs and the feelings along the way, because it is difficult sometimes to continue on in that way. But you guys are killing it. You guys are killing it, no?
Does anyone ever just clap for themselves? I do all the time. I’m like, girl, you did that. You got to do that. You’ve got to hype yourself up sometimes.
OK, the community aspect, and I kind of touched on this too, because I’m kind of working around as I feel it, kind of going off of the feelings. But the relationship with your community is crucial, the relationship with who you’re building out.
Like I said, it doesn’t matter how many followers you have. That’s not even what it’s about. If you have like 100 followers but they love the hell out of you, you are winning. It is not about like– and you guys have seen people with millions of followers, and like half of them don’t care.
It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter. It’s about the ones that continue to back you up and be invested. Ah, yes, this was the other quote that I found the other day.
Someone actually told this to me. I was at a retreat. Because I was telling you guys about having a posse, that was crucial. It gets you excited and motivated every single time you talk to your posse and leave, you are so excited and motivated.
So I heard this quote. “If 9 out of 10 things fail, start 10 things.” Is that not great? Oh, my gosh, am I the only one who had coffee this morning?
So I love that quote so, so, so, so, so much. Because sometimes we don’t even give ourselves 10 things. We do like two things. Right? You are like, mhm, I see your head for real, girl.
You give yourself two things. And then you are over it. You’re like, I am not doing this no more. I learned my lesson. Mm-mm, I’m not going down that path.
You have got to get really comfortable with failure. I fail all the time. I just keep putting myself out there. It is so fun to fail.
It is not. But it is not. But it is so fun to win. And you can’t win if you don’t take a risk, if you don’t try, try new things. Take a risk. Do something new.
If there is something where you feel like, OK, I do feel stagnant in my brand– I feel like maybe I’ve been kind of teetering here. It feels safe. I feel comfortable. I do really well here. But gosh, if I really let myself dream, I would really love to do this thing over here.
But this seems really hard and scary. And maybe I’ll just let these people do it. No– I sounded like a kid when I said, (WHINING) no. You’ve got to try too.
And here’s the thing. It may not work out, right? It may not work out. In fact, 9 times out of 10, it probably won’t. But if it does, guess what? It probably lit a fire under you to try something else new that you want to do.
It’s like that’s how you kind of start moving yourself out of that comfort zone is just attempting little things every day that is something that you normally wouldn’t do. Normally wouldn’t do because you’re so afraid, or you’re a little scared.
Or what will people say? That’s always the thing I hear from people. Well, what will people say? What will people think?
I don’t ever care what people say. I know that is a trait that most people don’t have, but I have it. And I will give a little sprinkle to all of y’all not to care what people say.
Because the moment you start caring about what people say, you are failing yourself, because it’s stopping you from doing something you may really want to do. Because you’re like, I don’t know how people will perceive it. I don’t know what people will think of me. Who cares? Who cares?
You are doing this. It started from a personal passion, and it’s grown from there. Remember that. Remember that.
Oh, there’s my grandma. There’s my big mama. And I talked about that. And I love her so much. I feel like she’s my angel now. So she’s in the midst of everything that I do.
But the habits, like I talked about, creating the habits, the things that keep you pushing when motivation is gone– motivation is fleeting. You will have it some days. Other days you won’t. You’ve got to figure out systems that will continue to push you in spite of that.
And that’s my baby. She’s also a part of my new inspiration. But I talked about taking a risk. I talked about constantly learning, evolving. Those are things that you want to do in your business, trying to keep yourself fresh and new and excited.
It’s something that you have to work on every day. How many of you guys have a hobby? And don’t say blogging too.
Like it’s my business and my hobby, it’s everything, because I do nothing else. OK, you guys have a hobby for real, like a hobby, like a separate thing?
AUDIENCE: And then I started a business about it, so now it’s not my hobby.
JOCELYN ADAMS: See? See, you need another hobby, girl. You need another hobby. Who has a hobby? Who has like a great hobby that they want to share? Why did all the hands go down?
Everyone was like, me, ooh. What’s going on? What time is it? Who, for real? OK, let me ask you.
AUDIENCE: I do acrylic painting.
JOCELYN ADAMS: Oh, you do acrylic painting? That’s awesome. So you just do it like you just do it at your home. And do you have a room, and you lock yourself in, and you do the whole shebang?
JOCELYN ADAMS: That’s dope. That’s dope. Yes?
AUDIENCE: Camping and fishing.
JOCELYN ADAMS: Nice. Anybody else? What do you do?
AUDIENCE: I sing and do theatre plays, musicals.
JOCELYN ADAMS: OK, that’s dope. I do tap dance. That’s why you saw that picture of me like that. I tap dance. OK, who else? Who else? Anybody else? Yes?
JOCELYN ADAMS: Knitting is great. And I remember I told you. I was like, I want to learn to knit. I never learned to knit. Anybody else? Anybody else? Yes?
JOCELYN ADAMS: Oh, you’re the one.
She’s the one that actually runs for a hobby. I love that. Can you teach me how to do that?
AUDIENCE: I know, right?
JOCELYN ADAMS: Right? OK, but do you see? Do you ever feel like, OK, you’ve got this one thing for yourself that doesn’t fall into the business, that doesn’t have anything to do with the business, and you can totally turn off the business brain for a second and do that, have fun? And then when you step back into the business and back into your brand, you are inspired. You are excited because you have something else.
When you are 100% invested in one thing, your business, you are going to burn out. You are going to burn out. That is what keeps most of us from continuing to have that fire lit, because we have nothing else.
We are obsessed with our jobs. We are. Most of us are. A lot of us are, because we think that it’s like, OK, if I don’t put 100% in, then I’m not going to be successful. And that’s not true.
You’ve got to be able to have a life. Have a life. Get a life. That saying is true. Get a life.
Get a life. So remember that. One last thing I wanted to say to you guys, and this is something that I wrote.
You guys can own your magic here. And I was going to talk about going way up, way up, way up energy-wise. But can I have you guys do something?
And don’t think this is weird, but remember I said I don’t care what people think. Close your eyes for a second. Everybody, close your eyes.
OK, now for one second, first, I want you to breathe in and breathe out. One more time, breathe in. Breathe out. Now visualize yourself five years down the line. What is the dream that comes into your mind? What is the thing that you see yourself doing?
Are you laughing with your kids? Where’s the place that you’re at? Are you at home having dinner with them? Are you doing something so crazy, so exciting, that you always dreamed of doing, but you finally got the courage, and now you’re doing it?
What is that dream? What is that vision you see for yourself? Now open your eyes. Did you guys find anything? Did anything pop up for you?
JOCELYN ADAMS: There are some things that you guys are maybe thinking about that you really want to do, but you’re not ready to. Or you’re just scared to.
But one thing I do do every day is I have a moment where I just breathe. We never take those times, right? Who just takes a moment? Because we’re up, and we’re looking at our phones, and we’re checking emails right away, and then we’re off running into the day.
And then, oh, my gosh, it’s time to go to bed and do it all over again. But I want to challenge you guys from this standpoint of being fired up and continuing to stay fired up about your brand that you take these moments, even if it’s like two minutes in a corner. Lock yourself in the bathroom, which is what I have to do now.
You lock yourself in the bathroom for two minutes, right? And you have a moment, and you visualize something. And then I write it down in a notebook. And I keep it front of mind.
And it’s the thing that for me right now is helping me to continue to get fired up about my brand because I’m seeing new possibilities. And every time I close my eyes and I don’t think about what’s realistic right now, what’s happening right now, it allows me to dream again. It allows me to see new and exciting possibilities.
And when you see those and you have those in front of you, it helps you to stay excited about what you do. So that’s really all I have to say to you guys today. I want to thank you so much for letting me speak to you.
Thank you. Does anyone have any questions? Probably not– that’s not like a question type of speech. But if you do, I will be walking around and can talk to you guys or whatever.
But I just want to challenge you guys to just do you. Be you. Figure out your own path in this. And that will continue to help you light that fire. Thank you.
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