Is your business sustainable? This is the big question that every entrepreneur has to answer. 2020 continues to throw many curveballs, leaving business owners in a volatile and vulnerable position. Many businesses are suffering through the pandemic, especially full-time travel influencers and bloggers. We’re kicking off the second season of Her Life, By Design, with a raw and honest conversation with Ally Pintucci. Ally, a digital creator and the founder of Agency-ish, shares her experience about how she pivoted her influencer business during COVID.
How Ally Pintucci Pivoted Her Influencer Business During COVID
Remember back when Instagram didn’t exist? It’s crazy to think about how much the digital space has changed over the course of the last 5 to 6 years. Ally found herself at the heart of the growing influencer industry when she started plateauing at her stable 9-5 job. She worked in sales and operations within the travel industry, which ultimately brought her to Vancouver. Chasing commission after commission, Ally felt drained and exhausted by a job that didn’t inspire her. Ally’s employers begin to notice that she was coasting, and they let her go.
At this point, her presence on Instagram started taking off as she discovered a solid content strategy utilizing hashtags, and surveying the best posting times for her account. Ally’s success in the social media world came from bootstrapping her way to the top. During this time, there weren’t any courses out on how to utilize social media. In essence, Ally is completely self-taught in an emerging industry that only continues to grow.
How Your “Why” Drives the Growth of Your Business
As Ally’s following grew and her account gained traction, she started receiving more messages from followers. Many of these comments mention how envious people were of Ally’s jet setting lifestyle. However, what Ally felt on the backend could not be more different from what Instagram saw. So she set out with a simple mission to “smash the stereotype of Instagram being a highlight reel.”
From that point on, Ally shows up on Instagram with vulnerability and authenticity. She shares aspects of her life that aren’t insta-perfect at all. Armed with her purpose to break a stereotype, her growth started to skyrocket, even a local company in Vancouver took notice. The company reached out, asking Ally for help growing their social media presence. This helped her realize what she was great at, turning a passion project into a new career.
Ally’s success at establishing an engaged social media following comes down to one thing: branding. According to her, “one of the core parts of understanding your branding is not how you visually show up to the world, it’s about why you physically exist.” Figuring out your “why” ultimately determines your greater purpose. And you can’t grow a business without clarity on why you’re doing it in the first place.
Creating Meaningful and Purposeful Content on Instagram
Gaining clarity on her “why” has consistently pulled Ally out of the tough moments in her business. As she continues to grow, she sometimes finds herself getting tired of the direction she moves in. At one point, she pivoted from posting photos of nature and landscapes, to exclusively posting photos of herself. This was a change she made as she transitioned from the travel space to becoming a lifestyle blogger.
Through this transition, she found herself uninspired once again. Ally spends her career coaching people and businesses on how to build strong brands, yet she isn’t implementing her own advice to her account. Ally started resenting her feed as she felt like her lifestyle content was self-serving, strictly for vanity, and not offering value to anyone. This realization meant it was time for Ally to pivot again.
So she came up with an updated purpose. Her new why? Helping businesses change the way they show up online. With absolute clarity on her newfound purpose, she establishes content pillars that drive the valuable, inspirational, and educational content on her feed. Ally encourages all listeners to gain clarity on their “why.” Yes, there will be a dip in engagement and you might lose followers when you pivot, but it moves you more in alignment which means you get to serve the right people with more focus.
As for avoiding the comparison trap throughout this process? Ally recommends shifting your perspective. While it’s more than alright to look at what your competition is doing, it’s not alright to think that your values align. She advises aspiring influencers to stand firm in your “why,” asking “why do you want to be an influencer? What does it mean to you and what are you trying to influence?”
Pivoting Her Influencer Biz
When the pandemic hit, Ally lost every client except for one. As terrifying as the experience was, she knew there was a reason for it. So Ally got to work, started brainstorming, and pivoted once again, starting her new company — Agency-ish. Agency-ish started as a concept that came up in a passing conversation with a friend a few years ago. She realized that she was resenting a lot of her freelance work in professional photography and social media management. Ally was taking on every project that came her way, even though she wasn’t fully aligned with the work.
Agency-ish solves that problem while connecting a roster of talented freelancers to high paying projects. This massive database invites freelancers to upload their portfolios and rates, so brands requesting their services will pay them their fees. As Ally puts it, Agency-ish is kind of an agency, yet kind of not one. While it operates as a full-service digital agency, Ally doesn’t have a full office or team to manage. Instead, she has a database of highly-qualified freelancers who can take on projects that align with their values and interests.
In this episode, Ally stresses the importance of diversifying your income streams. She asks influencers, “if Instagram were gone tomorrow, will you still have a business?” Although you don’t have to start a digital agency like Ally, you need to think about creating a sustainable business model. Putting all your eggs in the Instagram basket is not a smart decision, since Instagram doesn’t belong to you. Influencers, start thinking about ways to build a sustainable business. This could come in a form of a blog and email list that you own, an online course, a service, or a product.
Passion, Purpose, Pivot!
There’s a reason why one of the first modules of my Influencer Bootcamp course is all about your “why.” This is one of the most difficult but important concepts to gain absolute clarity on when starting your business. Ally shares incredibly valuable yet timely advice in this episode. The biggest takeaway from our conversation is how your “why” sets you up for success in the long run. This is a crucial part of the longevity of your business. Your “why” will help you grow, pivot, and scale your influencer and blogging career into a sustainable and adaptable force.
Tune in and join us for this important discussion. This episode will leave you with actionable tips, implementable strategies, and mindset shifts that will help you endure any pivotal decisions throughout your entrepreneurial journey.
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