Instagram can make you feel fugly and boring when you're comparing your life and business to everyone else's picture perfect feeds, but — love it or hate it, it's here to stay. However, how does one truly operate on this platform, especially if you're a business owner/personal brand, without sacrificing one's self-image/esteem? One person, in particular, caught my eye.
Alex Beadon sees the world through her own filter, and when it comes to Instagram, she knows exactly what works to grow your personal brand (and bottom-line) — sans the self-hatred. But how is she able to consistently create content and grow her business on a platform designed to illicit FOMO via vanity-obsessed metrics? Well, I made it my quest to gain insight on this (and several other things), and I knew she would be the perfect first guest on my new interview-style series titled, “But How Sway?!” (okay not really, but it totally should be!). Enjoy!
Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Alex! Before we begin, I’d love to ask you: what’s the most fulfilling part about being an entrepreneur to you?
I absolutely love the diverse impact I’m able to create through being an entrepreneur. That shows up in many different ways: From the impact in the lives of my customers; the people I’m able to impact with my free online content; the impact in the lives of my team as I’m creating flexible jobs that prioritize the well being of the company AND the individuals; and the positive impact (no matter how small) on the economy. It’s deeply fulfilling in so many different ways and even more so because I get to be the creative mastermind of it all!
What has been the biggest change in the industry since you’ve started?
I started back in 2009 when there was only one main thing I focused on in online marketing: blogging. Since then, the social media landscape has blown up. There are so many different places you can post your content, each with its own individual culture, algorithm and expectations. This has opened the doors to a large variety of online experiences within each and every industry, which I find to be truly exciting as it allows for even more self expression. It also means the competition is higher than ever before, which pushes creators and entrepreneurs to have to get incredibly clear on what makes them special, and on how they’ll choose to best communicate that to the world using their individual strengths and skill sets. It’s a fascinating time to be in the entrepreneurial space and I’m grateful to be experiencing the internet in its infantry.
What drives you professionally?
It’s important to me that my career feels like an extension of my creative self-expression, and that my values are represented in every aspect of my business. Therefore I’m largely driven professionally by the vision of what I want to create in this lifetime. This includes growing into the best version of myself, making the most positive impact, and living a life that on my deathbed leaves me feeling proud and full of joy.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the internal environment I’ve been able to create for myself over the last nine years in business. Regardless of what’s happening externally, I’m deeply rooted in self-worth and always believe in my ability to overcome whatever obstacle or challenge may be in my way. When I started my first business back in 2009, there was always an emotional roller coaster ride every time a business development did not go as I had hoped. Now I know that no matter what happens, I’m capable of overcoming it and I’m deeply rooted in a state of gratitude and well-being. I also know that no matter how much success I experience, it’s important to remain in that energetic space of gratitude and well-being and not let it get to my head. It’s powerful stuff.
As a photographer myself, I was thrilled to hear that you originally started out as one. How did you transition from photography to what you’re doing now? What was your mindset like? Take us through that journey.
Yes, photography was my first true love. I started out in 2009 as a wedding photographer, and opened my second business in 2011 selling Photoshop Actions online. In 12 months I had made my first $100,000 without spending a single cent on advertising, and it was at that point that I became obsessed with all things online marketing. My love for photography disappeared overnight. I’ll never forget the first day I woke up and realized I didn’t want to pick up my camera. At first I thought I was experiencing a creative block or dry spell, but after months of not wanting to shoot, and only wanting to talk about online business – I realized that I was experiencing a shift in my desires. It was really hard and felt like a major identity crisis. At the time I had more than 80,000 unique visitors a month to my photography blog. I was *so known* as a photographer that switching to being an online marketing strategist felt absolutely terrifying. After a year of *wanting* to make the change, but being paralyzed out of fear, I finally decided it was time to embrace this next step with open arms. So I made the change, updated my website and all of my online communication to reflect the “new me”, and trusted that my intuition would never lead me astray. I was right 😉
I actually polled my Instagram followers and asked who were some influential entrepreneurs they’d like to see me interview, and your name kept coming up. Do you feel the impact of your influence in day-to-day life? What would you attribute the most to creating such resonance with others online?
Yes and no – I do feel the impact of my influence in my day-to-day life, but not in such a large way that it’s changed the way I live my life. As for what has attributed the most to creating such resonance with others online: I’m very attuned with who I am and what I stand for, and I think I’m excellent at communicating it with ease and vulnerability online consistently.
When it comes to utilizing Instagram Stories and doubling down in the DMs, you seem to be the go-to entrepreneur for increasing engagement among followers. How did you come to understand the platform so clearly? What was the shift?
My relationship with Instagram used to be a very love-hate relationship because I *hated* the picture-perfect nature of it. I hated the fact that people would always show their highlight reels, and I did not want to be a part of what I believe to be a huge problem with society: vanity metric obsessed.
But I finally got to a point where I realized that Instagram can be whatever I want it to be. It’s a tool and I can choose to use it however I see fit. By learning to use it in a way that served me, felt authentic, AND allowed me to connect with my audience in a self-expressive way, I was able to really understand how to use it in a powerful way.
What would the Alex of today tell the Alex of the past if she could?
The sooner you learn to find comfort in all discomfort, the better.
What will digital entrepreneurship look like in 5-10 years?
It will be more competitive than ever. Now’s the best time to jump in!
Thank you again for taking the time and providing immense value for our readers. I appreciate you! What are some of your future goals for your business and how can our readers keep up with your journey?
One future goal for my business is to be able to consistently support up-and-coming entrepreneurs by helping them financially with things they may not have otherwise been able to afford. I had so much financial support when I first got started that I’d love to be able to do something that offers the same to others.
If you’re interested in following along on her journey, go follow her on Instagram: https://instagram.com/alexbeadon OR sign up for her VIP List where each week, the focus is on one entrepreneurially boosting topic to help you stay motivated and accountable to creating success in your businesses. You can sign up for free here: alexviplist.com
Shamia Casiano is an Afro-Latina entrepreneurial photographer, designer, gamer, and vampire slayer. She has an extensive background in acting, film, theatre, and improv. Shamia's been featured in Ebony, Cosmopolitan, Grind Pretty magazine, and Marie Forleo's MarieTV. She's married to her handsome nerdy college sweetheart and they have a 6 year-old pup named Lucky, who doubles as her home office assistant.