How to use the clarity from an expensive lesson to bring value to your work and life

It was an expensive lesson.

When I decide to do something, I dive in. If it’s something I really care about, it consumes me. I’ve described it as the wind at my back pushing me.

This is how it felt when I launched my YouTube channel in April 2019. It wasn’t a rash or spontaneous decision. It was four years in the making. After my long-time gig as a television reporter came to an end in 2014, I was searching for a way to continue telling video stories. I wanted to focus on a subject that was meaningful for me, and at the time, trying to juggle career and kids was creating a lot of turmoil in my life. After reaching out to commiserate with my girlfriends, I learned this struggle was common in the lives of so many other working moms. Our lives are consumed by worry and guilt that our work is taking us away from our kids too much and keeping us from being the best mom we can be. In my case, it wasn’t my work as a journalist that was doing this, because I loved that work and needed to do it to feed my soul and had only been doing it two days a week. It was the grueling and frustrating work of running my real estate business that was consuming me seven days a week.

So I decided the best way to create the balance I wanted as a working mom and fuel my work days with passion was to somehow work on a show producing stories about the stresses moms are facing. There was no such show, so I decided I should create one and earn enough doing it to quit my real estate work. I had heard about Kickstarter, and I thought this would be a great way to fund it. I knew nothing about the platform, which is why my campaign failed miserably despite many, many hours devoted to creating the campaign.

So I put that idea aside, not purposely but because running my business and raising my kids and all the other things that seemed important in life took over my time. Four years later the idea that had been percolating in my brain re-emerged, after listening to another Napoleon Hill audiobook that inspired me to finally find a mastermind group to join. That group convinced me that my working mom project was my definite major purpose in life, and I needed to get on with it ASAP — whether I had the time and money to do it or not. I made the time. And I found a way to do it for little to no money — learn how to use equipment my family already owned to create video stories myself and post them on YouTube.

I was excited to create all this great content and build an audience who would consume it and be inspired by it to improve their lives as a result, just as Napoleon Hill and Tony Robbins had done for me. So I was naturally disappointed when I spent so much time and effort crafting videos that I thought touched on the heart of the emotional issues that working moms were grappling with, but only a dozen or so people were watching them or subscribing to my channel.

Why weren’t all the stressed out, overwhelmed moms who needed validation and inspiration seeing these videos? I had a consultation with a marketing guru who told me I needed to search YouTube to find out how to promote my channel. So I did that, and I started spending my time in the car listening to podcasts from a popular YouTuber who taught video creators how to build their channels. I learned a lot about how to set up my channel and use the free tools YouTube provides. But it wasn’t enough. I needed a deep dive, so I signed up for an expensive group class from my new guru.

The class was a wonderful collaboration of YouTube experts and newcomers and brought many ah-ha moments. One of them was the realization that my audience was definitely NOT one of the main two kinds of people who watch YouTube videos: people who have time for entertainment and are clicking on videos that show up in their feed (my teenage son, who spends hours staring at his phone and laughing every 30 seconds) or people who are searching for something specific (how to bake pumpkin pie).

Working moms don’t have time for entertainment; we barely have time to sleep and eat. We do consume entertainment, but we do it in a very haphazard way. We don’t casually open up YouTube and decide to watch for an hour. We catch snippets of entertainment while waiting in the carpool line or butting in for a few minutes to see what our husband or kids are watching on TV or the Internet.

Working moms also aren’t searching for ways to ease their emotional burdens, and I wasn’t interested in creating a cooking or cleaning channel. (There are plenty of those!) Working moms barely know they have emotional burdens; they are just trying to get through day-to-day life. We realize after we go through a mental struggle that we should have reached out for help sooner. We are generally not searching for how to deal with being overwhelmed because we are too overwhelmed! But we are drawn in by stories that help us relate, feel less alone, give us hope and inspire us to face another day of frenzy and fulfillment. We don’t seek out such stories, but we usually stumble upon them tucked away in articles and memes that pop up on our Facebook and Instagram feeds and help us get a better handle on our confidence as a mom and our focus as a professional.

To reach moms, I have to go to where they are — and that means grabbing them for a few minutes here and there on Facebook and Instagram. I know little about running a business page on Facebook, except that it costs money to reach people on that platform. And I don’t have any money for this business yet. I know almost nothing about Instagram, except that I now realize it is imperative that I learn.

I now have a clarity to put my content on the two most important platforms for my audience every single day, and make that content fit the style of the social media outlet. I’m going to have to learn this on my own through trial and error, because I don’t have the money for another high-ticket course.

It’s an expensive lesson I learned as a result of taking a pricey eight-week class that taught me a ton about building a YouTube channel but virtually nothing about reaching out beyond YouTube. I will continue to post my Working Mom Warrior video content on YouTube, and I will use the education I received to build that channel. But I know that will be a very, very slow build. The popular working mom brands I pay attention to have millions of followers on Facebook and Instagram and only about 100,000 on YouTube.

As a result of this lesson, I am devoting my focus far beyond YouTube, and I spent hours yesterday learning and experimenting on Instagram. I got more engagement in one night with a few Instagram posts and comments than I got with seven months of posting weekly YouTube videos, even after making the changes suggested in the class.

In evaluating if the money I spent was worth it, I shifted my thinking away from the cost of the class and towards this critical epiphany that came about during the course. If I build my brand and help working moms by spreading my message beyond YouTube as a result of the lesson learned, then the class will indeed be invaluable — no matter how much came out of my checking account.

 

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