September 13, 2021
Emma speaks to Michelle Wintersteen of MKW Creative Co about marketing her brand design firm. We talk about documenting as you work, optimizing your time and creating offerings for people who want to follow in your footsteps.
In this episode Emma speaks to Michelle Wintersteen of MKW Creative Co about marketing her brand design firm. We talk about documenting as you work, optimizing your time and creating offerings for people who want to follow in your footsteps.
Michelle Wintersteen is the Brand Designer and Creative Director behind MKW Creative Co. a freelance brand design firm helping to define, design, build and grow vibrant brands for social-media-minded entrepreneurs.
02:34 How Emma found and hired Michelle
07:24 Michelle’s TikTok experiment
10:56 Michelle’s marketing mix
14:03 Benefits of documenting live
17:40 Live video engagement
24:52 The initial growth of Michelle’s TikTok content
28:51Most effective marketing
30:46 Why video
42:41 Balancing work with the pipeline
46:27 Batching and what’s working
49:41 Website traffic
50:15 Favourite places
50:22 Next year
51:41 Recommend to do next
Find Michelle and MKW Creative Co
Michelle Wintersteen 0:00
It's not a I have to do reels or I have to do video or I have to do email marketing is you get to. You get to market for free most of the time you get to grow a business online and work for people all over the world without leaving your house.
Emma Peacock 0:22
Welcome to the Digital Hive Podcast where we talk all things digital marketing for small businesses. On this episode I spoke with Michelle Wintersteen of MKW Creative Co about marketing her brand design firm. We talk about documenting as you work, optimizing your time and creating offerings for people who want to follow in your footsteps. MKW Creative Co helps to define design, build and grow vibrant brands for social media minded entrepreneurs. Michelle is my brand designer for Honey Pot Digital and is amazing at sharing her work online. So I wanted to have her on the podcast to bring you a behind the scenes look. I hope you enjoy listening to this chat about social media, content creation and design and that we can spark some ideas for your own business. Welcome to the podcast, Michelle, to get started tell us about you and your business.
Michelle Wintersteen 1:07
Gladly. And thanks so much for having me. I'm really excited to be talking to you and be reconnecting and talking about our businesses today. That's like one of my favorite things to do. I talk freaky fast. So I will leave that as the disclaimer, I'm going to try to bring it down a notch. But there's so much exciting stuff to talk about. A little bit about me, I am a brand designer and creative director as well as social media manager with my freelance design agency, MKW Creative Co we run projects for brands that are going to be leveraging social media to grow to brag worthy status. Basically they're brands that want to create community around their brand idea, create a lifestyle that make someone's life better with their product or service, and then continue to retain that person over time. So that's really the niche that we work with. And I've been doing that now for the last seven years. In my seventh year in business. I actually started as a college student between my junior and senior year, just doing freelance graphic design for $15 an hour and kind of making it up as I go. And the best part about being a business owner now is you really can do it from anywhere with very limited resources, just pretty much laptop Wi Fi connection and, and some good marketing and of course a great work product because you have to be a good person and do a good job at your job in order to grow a viable business. And that's very much at the ethos of what we're doing at MKW Creative Co.
Emma Peacock 2:34
Awesome. So before we start talking about marketing in the nitty gritty, I want to tell the story of how I found you. So obviously full disclosure, Michelle is my brand designer. And last year and like I don't know like the first quarter of last year, we designed a new brand for Honey Pot Digital, the first brand I had DIYd. And it was very like black and white harsh edges. It wasn't really what I wanted the brand to look or feel like so I knew I wanted a brand designer. And I had been on the lookout for a while. And my first interaction was with Michelle. Mincing my words. The first interaction I had with Michelle was a Facebook group that we were in together not her facebook group, but a different one. And I just started seeing her post every so often anytime she was working on a brand and would kind of share it in the group for feedback vote on the like three different versions that she was doing for people. And what I what stuck out to me because other people were doing that too. But what stuck out to me was that every brand was different. They weren't like a style that was Michele's style. But that well they were but every brand was completely different. And like was their own business whereas some of the brand design as I was seeing, that were like maybe just typography based, there was a lot of black and white. You almost could like look at a brand and think that was created by that person. But of course, I didn't want a brand that looked like everyone else. I wanted one that looked like mine. So then I went to Instagram and did the whole like, grid search of like portfolio. And I think it was stories or maybe it was a post that you were talking about TikTok and you'd been on it for about six months. And it was starting to gain a bit more traction as the app became more popular. Because this was what would have been what January February, last year. So this is like somewhat early TikTok in the span of like how big it is now.
Michelle Wintersteen 4:44
And pre pandemic.
Emma Peacock 4:45
Yes, yes. Yes, yeah, this was a pandemic rebrand. That was fun. It was like a the like fun thing and in lockdown that I got to work on. It was great. So Then I went over to TikTok and Michelle had this content called brand design in 60 seconds, which I will link to in the show notes, maybe some of the ones that I saw. And as she walks you through the brand, she explains like what makes the brand the brand like what, what makes it different with literal, like dots on the different parts of the logo and what they mean. And I was like, Okay, this is the person that I need to work with. Because not only do I want the whole brand to feel like it, but when I put like the logo on my car, which it's on my car, then it will pretty much stand alone, it has the website and the phone number on there. But it's not going to have like I knew, I didn't want to have to pay for like a full wrap. So I was like, okay, the logo is gonna stick out on a it's, it's on the door, and it's on the boot, which I think your you guys call the trunk. It's on the back. So when people are falling me in traffic, or whatever they can see it. So I knew that as much as I wanted the whole brand to feel like that each element also needed to have that feeling. And I knew that Michelle was going to be able to achieve that, based on those brand design in 60 seconds. I had seen everything else that she was doing across the internet as well. But the way that she broke it down, was kind of what sold it for me. And so by the time we got on our call, I was already sold. Like it was like, let me just check that this person is like, you know, legit, and matches up with the stuff I see online. But I mean, I don't even think there was a question of whether I was signing up with you by the end of the call. It was like Yep, cool. So when can we do this? And so in a way, your marketing did a lot of your sales for you. Because as someone who like kind of knew what they wanted, I was able to check stuff off in that process. Which meant that because I knew I didn't want to have a whole bunch of calls with a whole bunch of people, because then when I meet people, I'm like, Oh, I want to work with this person. And I was like, No, I don't want to meet with all bunch of people and then have to try and figure it out. Like, in the past interviewing people and trying to pick someone has been really hard. And ultimately I've had to go with like the reference as like, what what the best reference was. But yeah, that was kind of the one instance in my life where the marketing has done the sales process for me, normally it takes more than that. But it's good.
Michelle Wintersteen 7:24
Yeah, no, and and I'd say that that's consistent for about like 80-85% of the clients that fill out my contact form. Being present on all the platforms, my business would not be what it is without social media. It's absolutely fascinating to me, and I'm a total nerd for it, and I geek out on it, but being kind of having an omni present presence and really being intentional about I'm gonna use Facebook for this Instagram for that TikTok for this and offering something slightly different in each place helped and I'm sure we'll get into all this like marketing strategy mumbo jumbo and then also just having room for experimentation. TikTok for me was a big fat experiment. And getting on TikTok my whole motivator for that was based on a dare from my little sister, who was doing sign language videos at the time, like lip synching to sign language because she was in a sign language class. And her account was starting to grow and she dared me like I bet you I'm gonna get more followers than you on TikTok than you have on Instagram. And I was like, oh, game on, like, I can figure this out. I know social media. I know marketing. I know how to do this for business, right? So I kind of got on the platform and was like, What the heck did I sign up for like, what is this mess? And it took me a while but the nice thing about that whole experiment is like it's throwing spaghetti on the wall and seeing what sticks. And I hadn't seen anyone sharing brand designs on TikTok at the time. This was like July 2019. And I kind of challenged myself I was already doing these like video presentations for the concepts presenting on the one concept method. And I thought to myself, I wonder if I could really summarize this in a minute because that's the cap on TikTok at the time. Now it goes up to three minutes, but you'd only do a 60 second video I was like, Okay, let's really see if I can summarize this and get to the meat of what I was talking about. As far as showing why this brand this logo works for what the business owner needed and taking me out of it. I think so often business owners, they want to be like the hero of their story, but you You are the guide, you have to be the guide. You have to help someone see their challenge as something that they can overcome and then be at the top of the mountain and looking down at you as the guide and be like, thanks so much for helping me get here like that's what you want in that experience. And so by showing the branding as here's this logo and here's why it rocks for what they need, not for what I want as a designer but for what they actually need. is like the best thing I think I ever did for my business because obviously it shows my skill inherently. But what it does is the viewer is you can put yourself in the situation of like, Oh, well, if you can do that for that person, can you do that for me? Or can you solve this problem for me that I'm having where I feel disconnected to my audience, or I DIYd my branding, and I don't love it, or I don't feel like I'm unique enough to want to put it on the side of my car, right? So all of those little stories and like little bits and pieces, those those for me are like the things I can sink my teeth into, and really grasp onto and solve a creative problem for someone. And that's the best part of my job. 1,000%.
Emma Peacock 10:37
Amazing. So I guess to give context of everything that you do, do, you just want to walk us quickly through all of the different ways in which you do social media and marketing? Because you do email as well. You've obviously got your website? What else are you doing?
Michelle Wintersteen 10:56
Too much. I do a lot of things. But also I very much like shiny object syndrome. When it comes to my own marketing. I love a new challenge. I love new creative space, I love a new platform, like any opportunity to do something different in a new spot, I'm all about it, probably to the dismay of some of my team members, they probably get a little bit frustrated that I'm like switching gears. But for me, that's the most exciting part. So up until 2020, I was truly like solo entrepreneur, like solopreneur digital marketing, like doing the travel traveling around, I was working from a few different countries abroad and really kind of doing my own thing as just me. And that was great. Because I got to kind of grow my client list and do things the way I wanted them done. But then it also became an issue of scale of like, I don't want to have to work this hard for the rest of my life. Like, I don't want to have to work this many hours, or try to constantly be getting new clients, new clients, new clients, because I didn't have any retention style services, I was only focused on recruitment, which I can do well, but there is a burnout in that. And then there's also like, kind of money left on the table like here, you helped build this brand. And now you're gonna hand it off to another, you know, Freelancer or another company, another agency to then take it and blow it up like with your own work on it just didn't make a lot of sense. So I think by the time I kind of brought a team on that allowed me to do more things. So I've got my Instagram, TikTok, of course, LinkedIn, Pinterest, email marketing, my website, I run a Facebook group called the Kiss My Aesthetic Facebook group. And the Kiss My Aesthetic podcast, we're currently on a summer break coming back in the fall. We did 50 episodes in the first season. And that was like phew podcasting. Love it. It's such a like love hate relationship for me, because I really do love it. But it is a lot of work. So shout out to Emma on that because podcasting is no joke. And then beyond that I do public speaking I've got consulting gigs, I've got some one on one services, social media services. And then of course brand design, which is really our bread and butter. So lots going on oh, and affiliate marketing is like a quote unquote influencer, I've got a handful of brand partnerships that I work with on a regular basis.
Emma Peacock 13:16
Awesome. So as part of your Instagram, so you do stories, pretty much every day I log on, and there's at least something from you. Like, you're very consistent there. And you share like kind of all aspects like your breaks and you're like what you do when you're not working sometimes comes in too so it helps to share that like whatever work life balance is and feed your on reels. IGTV and live is a big thing for you. Well, at least I see you go live alot. You go live in the design process. So what actually made you decide to document your projects live and not just like film it to share later.
Michelle Wintersteen 14:03
I love double dipping on things like any opportunity that I can opt to optimize my time that sounds like so annoying. And that's such a catchphrase, ie audio bookie entrepreneur baloney to say, But truly, like optimize my time. I love it. Like I have certain podcasts that I listen to when I do the dishes versus go on a dog walk versus taking calls doing something like I'm always trying to do 15 things at once. Because I also have so many ideas that I don't feel that 24 hours in the day is enough. So I kind of have this, this idea of doing lives I actually started doing Instagram lives when they were first available. So way back. This is probably 2017 2018 right when we could start doing lives. Because I actually first went to lunch with a friend of mine I met traveling who was trying to break into a new industry and he was working a job that he didn't like and wanted to really break into mindset work and kinesiology. And he's like, I'm really passionate about this. But I don't know if I want to go to school, I don't know if I want to get a different job. I don't even know what I would freelance, like do in this space because what would you hire someone for I don't have any experience. And I said, you need an excuse to talk to people that are already in this industry. Like you need to open some doors, right? Because they may be able to point you in a direction. That makes sense. Like, they may be able to give you insight that you haven't thought about, like, Oh, forget school, go do this, or this program is wonderful. And that one's trash. Like, you're gonna save yourself so much time if you just start asking people questions. And I told him, I said, you know, make like a web show or a podcast or something. And just like interview people that you find are interesting, especially in these two different industries. And I walked away from that lunch and I got in my car, I was like, why am I not doing this? What what and I had so many designers that I looked up to truly and like other marketing professionals, and people that knew stuff that I didn't know that I needed a reason to talk to them, because they weren't going to be a client of mine, I probably wasn't going to be a client of theirs. But I wanted to open that door somehow. So I started an Instagram Live interview series, which I called design live at the time, nicknamed it and I was interviewing people that I thought were doing interesting things, right. And so that opens the door connects you to somebody else connects you to somebody else, etc. That's what eventually evolved into the podcast. And then doing those lives I really enjoyed. And then a few times, in the actual logo design process, I turned on live and I said, Oh, I'll just take you behind the scenes for the logo design process. And then those did really well, with my like, want to be designer community. So people who wanted to do what I did, because the farther you are along as a professional, you're gonna get a segmented audience between the people who are your paying clients, and then the people who want to kind of like follow in your footsteps or like learn from you because they perceive you to be the expert in your field, right. So I kind of had these two audiences. And I wasn't doing enough content for kind of like that, that designer, audience brand designer audience. And so the logo lives turned out to be a great use of my time because I had to work on the logo anyway. And I might as well do my marketing, in real time, have conversations with people get feedback. And then because they've watched the live, they're invested in the final product. So it becomes this nice, like, emotional mental investment in how it actually turns out when I do go to post it. Because they remember when they saw me working on it, and they saw me struggle or they saw me trip up on stuff or they saw me have to look at a YouTube tutorial, or use a different tool on illustrator they've never used before. So there's a lot of community building and just social learning and social media gives that you that opportunity tenfold.
Emma Peacock 17:40
Yeah, I so not only do I did, I watch the lives while we were going through my brand design process, which was hilarious. Like, because I was like, um like, you would be like guys tell me, whatever, then I would come in and you'd be like, Oh my god, Emma's here. It was so good. But I still watched them now. Like, if I'm free, when I watch it, I just put it on, I sit it down, like, you know, like lean it on the front of my computer and walk away and just like, Listen along, see what questions people are asking. And just like I just pick up new little things of like, what like, I can't design in illustrator, let's be real, but like, I can just see the process. And it's almost like co working in a way
Michelle Wintersteen 18:25
Emma Peacock 18:26
Um, so I still watch them.
Michelle Wintersteen 18:28
Good. No co working and co working was a big part of my experience as a young entrepreneur as well. Like I joined pretty much every co working space in Southern California when I was living here and then abroad, that's how I met people is going to co working spaces and sitting across from your neighbor and hearing them like I am such an avid avid avid eavesdropper, and I will butt into conversations when nobody asks like this is my, call it a toxic trait if you want, it's opened a lot of doors for me, I've sat at coffee shops across from people being like, well, the designer just sent over the logo, but I don't think it's a good fit. And I was like logo designer here happy to pop in. Like, I'll give you my two cents if you want and like that turned into a job for me, which was great. There were all kinds of conversations that were happening at co working spaces that it's just for me, it's like being on social media, but like in real life because then you can just see these things unfolding in front of you. And what a great opportunity to connect with somebody and then kind of really organically share what you do. So that aspect of the lives I really enjoy because I do have like regulars that come on and like will watch the lives like you are and a few others and it's nice to be able to just like share space with people and and also work through things like I think kind of pull back the curtain. It's it's not it's now a thing of like now the clients that hire me look forward to the fact that they know I'm going to be designing their logo on live like they will either purposely tune in or purposely avoid it because they don't want it to be ruined. But to see that kind of See how the goods get made, right? There's this television show we have here. Like how it's made in the states that's like shows like here's Tootsie Pops like and they take you to the factory. And I just remember being fascinated by that. And like watching the supply chain of like everything getting like poured and wrapped and everything. That's kind of what these logo lives are. And they're long, but they're fun. I think they're fun.
Emma Peacock 20:20
Yeah, yeah. And I think also it helps people to understand what the process will be, like. They see through your lives, because you don't just go live. When you're designing. Sometimes you'll do a live where you explain the brand design. I don't know what you call it when you're not actually going live like your brand design in 60 seconds. But like
Michelle Wintersteen 20:39
Emma Peacock 20:40
Yeah, the the brand presentation. Yeah. So they see different parts of the process. You've done lives before, doing like mood boards and stuff. So they can see the process. And almost like, not only does it maybe answer some questions they might have, but it also just lets them in, on the process. Maybe not purposefully, but it kind of adds that like, people want it more because they can see how it's done.
Michelle Wintersteen 21:12
You know, I'm not farming it out to someone in a third world country who I'm paying them $2 an hour like it. Like that's a business model for a lot of people. And in my growing of my business, it's still very important to me that I'm doing the original logo design like that, to me is what I love the most, it's what I feel that I'm best at, it's what gets me excited to do my job. Because I'm not just designing the logo, I'm designing the brand in the way that I can see in my head, what it will look like on social media, I can see on my head, what it will look like on packaging, or in a photoshoot or a documentary or whatever. Like I'm thinking so long game with it. And I think that visualization, like bringing that to life is really fun. That's the magic in it for me. So when I was trying to find help with my process and kind of create a scalable business, it's about more of like, how can I get people to help take on the stuff that I don't want to do so that I can stay just doing what I do best and do more of what I do best and then not worry so much about admin or billing or research or file exports or the things that are that really detail oriented really like nitty gritty businessy aspect, which are very, very, very, very necessary. But those are the first things I outsource because I want to do that creative ideation, That to me is like what I love the most.
Michelle Wintersteen 21:12
Yeah, I like that. You also create the with the brand design in 60 seconds. You're also creating those. Did you have a version on reels?
Michelle Wintersteen 22:48
I did. I've posted one so far, but I've kind of I want to refilm them all because I don't love the angles. When I first was posting them on TikTok. I was so casual. I didn't have a tripod. I didn't have a script. I didn't have anything I was stuttering and like tripping over my words throughout a lot of the videos. So I have about 60 of them on TikTok. I've got one so far on Instagram, because Instagram just allowed you to do 60 second reels. But that's the next project of like re filming all of those and getting them back up. Because I think yours has like 200,000 views for Honey Pot Digital for the brand.
Emma Peacock 23:23
Michelle Wintersteen 23:24
And the benefit of that after the fact is that my clients are getting business from it. So working with me is like yeah, of course you're gonna get branding from me cuz that's what you paid for. But like the unintended consequences is like extra traffic because I've been able to grow my social media and then drive people towards my clients, which is incredible. Great by by-product.
Emma Peacock 23:47
Yes, so huge.
Michelle Wintersteen 23:49
Emma Peacock 23:50
If you're listening to this episode, and wondering how you can market your own business, I might just have the solution for you. The Marketing Apiary is the one stop shop course for digital marketing teaching you everything you need to know to be seen, make sales and grow your business online. With videos across honing your one ability, putting your best foot forward getting the numbers straight, helping people find you, content marketing, growing with advertising and passing the torch to your team. We cover every platform and angle you can approach marketing through a process I call the seven stages of sweet marketing. Since DIYing everything alone and molding everything for your business can bring up a lot of questions and maybe some decision fatigue. We have Q&A calls every two weeks so you can submit your questions and receive answers customized for your business from me, even if you can't attend those calls live. To find out more you can pause the episode and go to themarketingapiary.com or find the link in the show notes once you're done listening. For now, let's get back to the episode.
Emma Peacock 24:52
So what was the actual catalyst for you deciding to turn those presentations that you're sending to clients into content was it just that I need something for TikTok or was it like, this is something that needs to be seen, people are asking for it. What kind of kicked that off?
Michelle Wintersteen 25:09
Yeah, I think I posted about three of them in a row when I first started this, like 2019, and one of them got up to 300,000 views in like a few days, and was getting a lot of traffic and a lot of comments and a lot of like interesting people commenting on it, which was very cool. And I realized that there was like a hunger for it. And then when I clicked on hashtag brand design, I realized I was the only one using hashtag brand design at the time. And I said here is a gold rush opportunity, this is my chance to like take it and run and take up a huge market segment, which is so saturated on Instagram. So saturated and exactly like you're saying before saturated on Facebook, too. There's a lot of designers that their work looks exactly the same as everybody else. And a lot of my work looks like a lot of other people too. So how do you stand out as like, millennial blonde entrepreneur with a yellow lab that loves color like that? We're a dime a dozen. Like there's so many of us and so many talented ones that it was hard to kind of figure out like, okay, where is my breakaway moment and I feel like TikTok was that breakaway of like, Okay, this is a model that I can replicate, because every time I do a brand now I know this is the type of content. It's very formulaic. It's like, okay, finish the brand, do the brand design in 60 seconds. Now, I also do like a logo behind the scenes video on TikTok, and I will do the video mood board. And all three of those pieces of content relate back to that portfolio piece. But I think the catalyst of that was that I think website portfolios are where work goes to die. Because there's no social engagement around it. And although it is fiercely important to have your work on your own website, of course, of course, of course, of course, of course. I wasn't going to like try to battle everyone on Google to try to reach my audience, when I know I've got them all in my back pocket on Instagram and TikTok, like I have a huge opportunity to get to the people that care about what I'm doing much faster, much more efficiently and for free than I do going through ads or spending tons of times on SEO, which I know is hugely important. But for me, I felt like here was my golden ticket, right? Like, I'm going to take that and go. And because there was like an audience, so all the things have to work in concert with each other. Of course, like any good marketing person will tell you that like your content, and your website needs to be optimized and, and your SEO and your blogging and your email and all of that. And all the social channels can be really stifling. But I knew I was good at social. So. So being able to lean into that, for me made the most sense, and still kind of does make the most sense. Now I'm looking back at my portfolio being like, Okay, we got to update this because there's projects on there, my best projects still aren't even on my website. And that's a bottleneck of me not putting it on my website. But also we're booked out until October. So it's kind of this chicken and the egg thing? I don't know.
Emma Peacock 28:08
Yeah. But I would also say that a lot of your content that you share through social is documenting, it's not necessarily like coming up with
Michelle Wintersteen 28:17
Emma Peacock 28:18
Extra stuff. So if you weren't documenting, you would probably be sharing at least only half the amount I would say. So just like doing it in public is kind of like half your social media content.
Michelle Wintersteen 28:36
Emma Peacock 28:37
Editing Emma checking in here to let you know that we lost our software, we obviously kept the recording, but we needed to change to Zoom. So there's a slight change in quality for the rest of the podcast. It's not too bad. But just letting you know, that's why things might have gotten a little more fuzzy.
Emma Peacock 28:51
What have you seen has been the most effective in marketing your business?
Michelle Wintersteen 28:56
Oh, I am a big, big, big fan of video. I mean, it's where everything is going. We've been saying this for years. We are consumers of video, so it would make sense that we would also produce video. And I think a lot of business owners and especially a lot of the social media clients that we work with really struggle with what their brand looks like in a video sense. Like they understand logos, they understand photography, but I think a lot of people struggle with the visualization of like, what does that look like? And how do I retain my brand value without being this really gimmicky? QVC like sales show, buy this and buy that now for the price of 19.99 I think that that's a really antiquated way to think about video marketing. And now it's more about how do I capture someone's attention and communicate a feeling, because video gives us feeling because there's so much more information to take in than photography. How do I communicate the feeling of what I'm trying to portray? And so with a lot of the lifestyle brands we're working with Hotel Lobby Candle, we worked with Kenny Flowers for a while, Bookclub app we're working on how do we communicate the feeling of working with this product, or owning this product or having this service done for your business, and what that's going to feel like for the person on the other side. And that's set through, you know, video style, through audio through voiceover, through communications video, I think is the best way to do that. And you have to know that with video, just like anything else, like you either will be someone's cup of tea, or you won't. And if you're not, that's fine. But you want to talk to the people where you they want everything that you've got going on, they want to binge all of your content. So having a huge, huge, huge library of video is the best thing you can do as a business owner.
Emma Peacock 30:46
Yeah, I think because obviously, there was the I can't remember what his full name is but his handle is @mosseri, he is the head of Instagram, did a video a couple of weeks ago, it actually took like a week before it really hit the sphere. And in it, there was just one line that people kept like going with, and that is the Instagram is no longer a photo sharing it was how he was being quoted. But what he really was saying was that it's not just a photo sharing app, which sent people into a tailspin, but all he was saying was reels, stories, IGTV, Live, like guides are new. No, I think they The thing about guides is that they've never pushed them know, though, unless you share it to stories. Like it's a way for people to see something on your profile, but you're not going to get like eyes on it in a way that you would like reels where this it's like discoverable. But all of those other things are video, not video, only half of them are video only. And some of them are optional. But a lot of the people that do well, it's like 95%, video on stories. A photo with some text on it isn't going to engage someone in the same way that someone talking is going to. And it's not that the algorithm is pushing video, it's that people want video.
Michelle Wintersteen 32:17
It's it's human psychology.
Emma Peacock 32:20
Michelle Wintersteen 32:21
It's human psychology into this. And it's an evolution. And the thing we have to remember about social media apps is like five years from now, we're going to be probably having a completely different conversation about what social media is important for business. that's frustrating for a lot of people. But that's also fascinating, because it does come down to human psychology and sales behavior. And Facebook is no longer a digital version of a yearbook, right? MySpace is no longer a way to like rank your top friends like there has been a lifespan for these kind of things. And although I think Instagram and Facebook are here to stay, because now they have too much money and too much information on everyone. I am a natural born optimist, and I love that things are optimized. I love that I get a sponsored ad for the thing I was just talking about with my friends over happy hour when I didn't even have my phone out. Like that, to me is creepy, but wonderful. It's making my life better. Why would I be mad at this? Why would I be frustrated if I get a pop up that says, oh, did you know that the same flight that you're trying to book is $200 cheaper on Thursday? Okay, I can leave on Thursday. Great. Like, I think that this is its marketing, yes. But it's also an evolution of our relationship with technology. I love that I can talk to my Alexa, now she's gonna listen to me, maybe not. I am into all of that. Because I think that it does start to help us optimize our life. And as a business owner, it's not like taking out a radio ad where you're going to spend hundreds of dollars, maybe 1000s of dollars, and maybe your ideal client would hear it and maybe they'll do something about it. But when have you ever stopped what you were doing to call the phone number for a business that you heard in a radio ad? I have never done that in my entire life, ever? How many times have I gone to a restaurant because it looked cool on Instagram more times than I can count. So it's just like, it's a human behavior thing. And I find it fascinating. But I can also see why business owners get frustrated with it.
Emma Peacock 34:15
Yeah, and I can see how it's like, okay, I was just getting used to like sharing on this platform. And now I have to do video most of the time, I cannot even compute like how I'm going to do that. But I think basically what we've talked about so far is just document the doing of it. And in a way if your if what you offer the world is something that is either visible in the doing of the thing or as an end result, you can document it. Sure there are parts of my process with running ads. Like I think my clients would probably have a problem with it if I went live on the back end of their ad account and showed how much they were spending. But there's no reason why I can't show my ads or I can't talk about the ad strategy, or I can't like Facebook, just me and not the screen. Yeah, just ask, just ask. They might not mind.
Michelle Wintersteen 35:08
Right? Yeah, I have a video photo disclaimer in my contract that says, I'm allowed to video document process anything unless you say otherwise. So you're gonna sign off then like you're signed off because that is how I grow my business. And I think that the bigger thing is to even like take a step back with business is it's not a I have to do reels or I have to do video or I have to do email marketing is you get to, you get to market for free. Most of the time, you get to grow a business online, and work for people all over the world without leaving your house. Like, I think that that's more people get into this more victimy I have to do this if I'm going to get visibility. And it's more if you look at it as an opportunity or ask yourself would I love it if... wWould I love doing Instagram Stories if every time I went on I made a sale? Hell yeah. What I love doing Instagram Stories if I knew that I could talk to 600 people at once. Yes, like it's there's so much you can do like I've now this is maybe like a funny personal story. But I've been going on dates and like back on the dating apps Now that everything is back open. And so I just made a close friend story of my close friends so that I can update them all on the about these dates at the same time. Because their things that I would have had to go to six different happy hours anyway and tell them anyway. And now I can just share it in real time practically and know that all 20 of them have seen it and then I can just keep going about my life. So there's ways that it really does bring joy, if you look for it, if you look at it as this uphill climb and something that you have to fight against an algorithm or fight for visibility or deal with imposter syndrome, then you're doomed to fail because it's not I have to do it. It's you, you get to and if you don't like it, do something else. Like no one is forcing anyone to be on Instagram or or TikTok, or Facebook or whatever. If you if it does, it's not fun to you don't do it. Like updating my portfolio is not fun. blogging, to me is not fun. Email Marketing is not even that fun. But, you know, like, if you see, would it be fun if I had 40,000 people on my email list and a 50%? open rate? Yeah, probably. Probably would be fun, you know. So those are the kind of ways I like I always have to reframe myself in that context of being like, Wait a second, why is this feel like I have to do it? And how do I make it better? So that I feel like I get to do it? That makes sense?
Emma Peacock 37:30
Yeah, totally. So if you could turn back time, is there anything you would do sooner in marketing your business? Um, and that's like, obviously, in the context of like, you couldn't have started TikTok, when you first started your business because it didn't exist. But like, has there been anything that you have? I mean, you're an early adopter. But is there anything that you have done later, that you wish you had, maybe not known about it sooner, but that you put off and then decided to do it earlier? Like, would have done it earlier, if you just like, pushed yourself that one step further.
Michelle Wintersteen 38:07
Yeah, I would have done more comprehensive blogging, I would have made it part of my business hygiene to blog on a regular basis, because I think now, I'm so deep in, in my flow of what I do that to then go backwards and blog feels weird to me. And there was a time where I was blogging pretty regularly. And I like I like it, it's fine, but it's just not my favorite. And so it tends to fall to the bottom of the totem pole. But also I think I realized how many writers don't do a good job. And I think that that bothers me more than anything is there's a lot of, of people who will write blogs, and you go to their website, and like this is two paragraphs that didn't tell me anything. And I get paralyzed with the blog stuff. Because if I'm going to write a blog, I want it to the best blog you ever read with all the links with all the graphics and the crazy pictures and everything. I just get analysis paralysis of wanting the blog to be so good that I, to me social media feels like okay, I can do this, put it out there. And then I don't have to think about it again, where the blogging is more of a process. And I wish I had that built into my workflow where I knew I had a post going out on Monday and post going out on Friday. And I could just like bang them out. To me. I don't have that flow yet. And I think that if I'd done that at the beginning more and more strategically, and more based on data, my business might be in a different place, but maybe not. Yeah, I think blogging is something I could implement better.
Emma Peacock 39:42
Yeah. And also for the listener, or the watcher on YouTube, if you're watching this on YouTube, if you publish a blog post, and I land on it, and there's no headings to break up the content. I will leave. Mm hmm. Because I want to skim it. Mm hmm. And then if it becomes worthwhile Like, I'm like, Yeah, cool. This answers my question, then I'll go into the in depth. But it's become a thing lately, where I've been going to blogs trying to find like, how to do technical stuff, particularly for the podcast. So I guess this is kind of in the niche of, of tech blogs, but it's everywhere. I consistently go to websites, and they're the longest blogs you've ever seen in your life. And there's no headings, which A is bad for SEO, but it's bad for SEO, because it's bad for a human. And so I find myself if it's like, sometimes I'll do a Ctrl F to find the words I'm looking for. If Google doesn't automatically take me to the yellow bit that it said is useful. Or I just leave and go find a different answer.
Michelle Wintersteen 40:43
Well, and blogging should really just leave people on a rabbit hole through your own context, that's the thing is by this, by the time someone comes to your site, you want them on there as long as possible, getting all the good bits that you have. And I do I have a ton, I have so much information on my Instagram on my TikTok on like, there are Instagram posts that I have that have hundreds of saves, that should that content should exist as a blog, because that by the time that 3-400 500 people are saving my post, then that that needs to exist in my brand in a more in depth kind of way. Right? So to retroactively go back, I would go through all of my top performing posts and all my top performing TikTok and try to figure out, Okay, how can I make the longer format version of this piece of content, because I know it's already performed. And I know people are hungry for it. And that's fine. I have one blog still that ranks in this the number two spot on Google. And it's DIY Gmail signature, and I wrote it in 2016. And it's a tutorial for how to DIY a Gmail signature. And it's so ridiculous because it's although I thought it was like, Oh, this is so great. This is a great blog that has nothing to do with the services that I offer truly, like, okay, cool, I got them to my website. But then I answered all their questions immediately in the blog, and then they go on their merry way. And like, cool, they learned something from me, but there's no loyalty to then be part of my brand. Because I don't have a whole chapter of my blog, that's just tutorials, I don't have a whole section of my blog that's creating a brand in the online space. Like there's so much more content strategy I could have implemented on that side, that I'm kicking myself now that I didn't take that more seriously. But then it's also hard to prioritize creating content when you have paying clients and you have projects and you're booked out for weeks, weeks, or On the flip side, it's hard to prioritize blog content if you don't have a single paying client, because then your focus should really be on getting that paying client and making that paying client like blowing their socks off so that you can get more of those. So chicken and the egg push and a pull. For me, it falls the bottom of my totem pole.
Emma Peacock 42:41
Yeah, and I guess too like for both of our businesses, there's an element of like, we need to be on social because part of that is what we do. But at the same time, my client is my focus. So if I haven't posted on Instagram for a couple weeks, it's because I'm busy in a project. And sure that stops me being like creating a funnel, if we were to get really like pipeline chat about it. But like, my focus is my clients. And ultimately, I'm okay with not posting on Instagram for a week, if it means I can do those other things for them, that ends up in a referral to somebody else who's like the third door there, whichever. And then I have to bring myself back and be like, right, you have time now you have two hours. How much content can you create? That will actually work for the next month? Because you've got projects coming up? So I do that too. And then there's also the documenting live? Which doesn't take that much time? No, that's the bit I always default to.
Michelle Wintersteen 43:42
Yes and no to to what you said, because on the first instance, I want to be like Yes, absolutely. Like optimize your time. I'm all about it, batch it work ahead, blah, blah, blah. But as business owners, the like, biggest biggest mistake I think we can make is thinking that like, we're totally booked. And I've said it like four times already on this podcast. Two weeks ago, I didn't have any projects for fall, I had three discovery calls on Thursday, they all booked projects for fall. And now we've got two new clients coming on for q4 for social, but it also isn't an accident that that correlated with me being more active on my Instagram. So it's kind of this ebb and flow and we've been doing this for seven years and like I know how to build a pipeline I know how to build up demand that you have my process down pat, but that like the biggest fallacy is thinking that like, Oh, well I'll market when I my projects are done because that you're you're missing an opportunity to show the people what you can do working on these projects. This is the documentation part, right? If you crush it for a client and they text you and they're like Emma, you knocked it out of the park, thank you so much. That should immediately go on your stories as in real time as it's happening. Like that should be absolute documentation. That doesn't take a lot of effort on your side, but it's showing the people that are watching and like lurking around your content that like okay, yes, she knows She's doing she knows what she's talking about. Like, I follow a business coach, her name is Jessica Marx, she's fabulous. And she does daily or weekly check ins with all of her coaching clients, where she has them, tell me tell her their sales to date for the month, right? And she posts this messy screenshots of like, 22,000, this month 65,000. That's 180,000 this month data, and they go up on her stories. Every week, she's sharing what how much her clients are making. And if that's not frickin motivating to want to work with her, I don't know what it is. And like I've circled like a shark, like circling around her service offerings for the better part of four years. And I'm like, I know that eventually I'm going to pay her like, eventually I'm going to hire her as my coach. But it's it's so motivating to see proof of concept. And that's the stuff that I think that's, that's proof is in the pudding. I resonate with that. And I think that's why my brand design in 60 seconds videos do so well. It's like, that's proof proof that I'm doing my job and I'm doing it well. Right. So for you, I would say the biggest thing I'd love to see for you is when you've crushed it for somebody, when you do get that email or that really great slack message that's like, Oh my god, I can't believe this campaign performed 6,000% better than we thought. That's the kind of stuff that people are gonna be like, Oh, wait a second, what are you talking? Well, you did what? You know, that's, that's that kind of stuff, which I think does move mountains in your business?
Emma Peacock 46:27
Yeah, for sure. It totally does. And then on that batching. There's also the fact that you create one thing, it resonates, you've got those saves. At some point, you'll write the blog post, but you're also sharing about it on stories. I know there was a couple instances during the pandemic where you shared certain things and people were saving it. So you turned it into graphics for them to share or you did some stuff, basically to make it more shareable so that people could share it to their stories share on Facebook, to get you out there. And although that wasn't your initial intention, you were able to just you know, look at the numbers and see, see what you could do next. Your Instagram Live then becomes part of your podcast. This podcast is then being repurposed into like, goodness knows how many pieces of content but Reels, maybe TikTok LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, short snippets, long form, YouTube videos, all of the different things. But we record for the same amount of time. So as much as I might be editing it to start off with, that is something that I can give to somebody else. And it amplifies the content without me needing to then record 20 different pieces of content.
Michelle Wintersteen 47:52
Well, and then it will turn into a flow, it'll turn into a flow. So I book a brand design project. And I know in the second week of that project, I'm going to be working on the logo, I'm going to do an Instagram Live, I'm going to screen record so I can do a time lapse, I'm going to answer questions, I'm going to promo the live, I'm going to save it as an IGTV. And then I'm going to repost that IGTV when I actually post the final project. So there is a feedback loop happening there is a callback happening. And it's just continuing to create traffic for your content without having to make new stuff all the time. Like that's one act, that I'm doing right logo creation, but I'm doing the live that could saved to an IGTV also gets cut down to Reels. I'm doing a screen record that gets cut down to reels to TikTok, then all of that gets kind of reposted and re circulated throughout my different outlets, because that's the best use of my time. Instead of sitting down and being like, let me tell you about all the different kinds of fonts like my client is not my ideal client does not care about the difference between a JPEG and PNG, or a serif font and a sans serif font. They don't care. That's why they're hiring me. It's because they're trusting me to make that best decision because I'm the designer. So they're not all that interested. What they do want to see is Oh, you took this old logo. And this is how you made the new branding based on what the client told you because they're the client and so they're gonna tell me things and I need to extract from them what I need in order to do my job well, and then have a stellar final product. So the more you can put yourself in that formula and know that it's like setting off tripwires. It's like setting off like Zapier, if you use Zapier where if this than that, if I'm going to design a logo, then I'm going to do logo design lives then I know on Wednesday evenings, that's the only thing I'm doing on Wednesday evenings not booking, social I'm not going to happy hour, I'm not playing with my dog like that's my time because I know that that's what I have to get done. Because that's going to set off all of these other triggers, domino effect of all my marketing.
Emma Peacock 49:41
Yeah 100%. So if you know where do you get the most of your website traffic?
Michelle Wintersteen 49:49
I get most of my website traffic from Pinterest, which is another thing that I have neglected that I wish I could do better on but I have a handful of pins that've gotten up over 1 million, 2 million views. So that's where a lot of my traffic comes from. But also Instagram and TikTok have high high high conversions to my website. So having a mobile optimized website is ideal. Hmm.
Emma Peacock 50:15
What is your favorite place on the internet right now?
Michelle Wintersteen 50:19
Oh, favorite place on the internet, TikTok, hands down
Emma Peacock 50:22
Nice. What are you looking forward to most in the next year of business?
Michelle Wintersteen 50:28
In the next year of business, I'm excited to be scaling our client project scope up. So right now we're doing branding and social media marketing. But we're also getting into art direction, creative direction with photography and videography sets. So that is something I'm really excited about, as well as getting a better understanding of bringing a product to market. And a full merchandising packaging and launch suite is a service I'm interested in offering kind of into the this next year.
Emma Peacock 50:57
Amazing. Cool. What are you looking forward to most in the offline world?
Michelle Wintersteen 51:03
Offline, I'm very excited. I just signed a lease for a one bedroom apartment in Cardiff by the Sea California, which is a North County, little teeny tiny neighborhood. And I'm four blocks from my best friend from college and a quarter mile from my best friend from high school. So it is the best neighborhood vibe. And I'm loving living as like an adult professional. Like, in my own place. It's the first time I've lived by myself. And it's I'm loving it, probably too much. So so far, so good. But that's really for the whole next year, that's going to be my number one focus.
Emma Peacock 51:41
Nice. So if someone is wanting to get more into the marketing of their design business, what would you recommend is the one thing they do next?
Michelle Wintersteen 51:52
Take my Kiss My Portfolio challenge. Can I plug?
Emma Peacock 51:57
Michelle Wintersteen 51:58
So I have quite a large audience of designers and marketers that usually come to me and they don't know how to get client how or where to get clients. 99.99% of my clients have been referral. I'm going to say that 0.1% was because I got mentioned in a Yahoo Finance article and somebody came over and bought something from me. So majority of my clients truly are coming from referrals. But that gets backed up by social media. So yes, somebody said, Oh, yeah, I know a brand designer, you should work with Michelle great, but they want to see your Instagram, your TikTok, your portfolio, your Facebook, your Facebook group, your podcast, they want to see that you're on all the places. So the Kiss My Portfolio challenge was designed by me as a challenge to help designers and marketers get better at designin and marketing. And what it is is a 10 day 10 prompt challenge with a hypothetical client with hypothetical mission vision, ideal client avatar, brand adjectives, basically all the good, juicy stuff that I would ask a client in order to do a good job on their project. And I lay it out in a way that it exactly follows my process. So you know, first you have your clarifying questions through your questionnaire, and then you're getting into mood board and aesthetics, and then you're getting into logo ideation. And then you know, fonts, supporting icons, colors, etc, all the way up through the presentation. And then the last day of the challenge is really to this is how you market it in 40 different ways. So this is how you take this one case study this one really, really strong example of what you can do. And then you push it out everywhere, because that's going to get you the clients, they want to see that not only are you professional and reliable, but that you actually have work. And if you're new, that's maybe the one thing you don't have is you don't have work yet. So having work in your portfolio that reflects your style reflects your design sensibilities reflects your marketing strategy is really, really useful. So the case study projects that are part of the Kiss My Portfolio challenge are all on my website, there are three past challenges that they can take. And then we have an upcoming one in September. And the live challenges are great because I bring in like guest judges, so I bring in like my designer friends and they weigh in and give you feedback throughout the process. And we all do it through social media as your hashtags. It's a lot of fun.
Emma Peacock 54:15
Awesome. Well, thanks for being on the podcast. It's been really good to have you and chat about all of these things. Yeah, thank you so much for having me.
Emma Peacock 54:30
Thank you for listening to this episode of the Digital Hive Podcast. I'm your host Emma Peacock and today our guest was Michelle Wintersteen at the MKW Creative Co. If you're in need of your own brand design or you're looking for the Kiss My Portfolio challenge head to mkwcreative.co. If you're enjoying the podcast, I'd love it if you could share it with a friend. To find out more about Honey Pot Digital and the work we do or to find more episodes of the podcast and handy tips for small businesses marketing online head to honeypotdigital.com