“When you realize how powerful your voice can be or your influence can be and to use that in such a positive way, I feel like that’s really the lightning rod for everything. That’s why getting up at 5 something in the morning is no problem, because I just know with my work, that’s something that I want to consistently instill in everything that I do.” – Lauren Taylor
Today’s guest is brand ambassador and content creator, Lauren Taylor. As you’ll quickly learn in this interview, Lauren has a lot more going on than that, from self-publishing The Letter magazine to working as a contributing editor for The Everygirl, and as a talent event coordinator for Dote Shopping. She’s even in the process of writing a fiction book proposal, all while being a student at Southern New Hampshire University. We cover all that and more in this interview, but we focus on content creation and what she’s learned from being a brand ambassador and creator for so many different brands including her own. I think you’ll have a hard time walking away from this episode not feeling inspired.
06:32 What is a brand ambassador?
08:29 How a post with her grandma and Campbell’s soup helped her become a brand ambassador.
10:17 Getting started without a big following.
13:18 Creating content that brands will actually want to share.
15:25 How to write a pitch email and follow-up.
21:14 Is it important to be on specific (social media) platforms?
25:08 How Lauren manages content for so many different brands?
28:27 Building her personal brand vs. creating content for a brand.
34:04 Lauren shares the purpose behind what she does.
39:39 Tips for getting more comfortable with video.
44:51 What she brand ambassador lessons she has learned in her role at Dote Shopping.
51:04 Lauren shares about the fiction book proposal she’s working on.
As a brand ambassador, content creator, and girl empowerment babe, I’m here to inspire women with big dreams! Encouraging girls to join me in loving our REAL selves so resiliently that we inspire the world to do the same. I’m spreading this movement of love by partnering with women-empowering brands as a speaker, model & ambassador. I’ve got a crush on all of the places I’ve called home, but I’m currently living in San Francisco – and loving it! You can find me obsessing over florals, celebrating the powerful women in my life, always reminding them that together, we are unstoppable!
Resources Mentioned in this Episode:
Next Episode: Paige Griffith – Building a Business in a Small Market
Previous Episode: Blakely Little of BlakelyMade – Making a Living as an Artist
“[0:00:05.9] LT: When you realize how powerful your voice can be or your influence can be and to use that in such a positive way, I feel like that’s really the lightning rod for everything. That’s why getting up at 5 something in the morning is no problem, because I just know with my work, that’s something that I want to consistently instill in everything that I do.”
[0:00:31.9] DJ: Welcome to the Brands that Book Show, where we help creative service-based businesses build their brands and find more clients. I’m your host Davey Jones.
Today’s guest is brand ambassador and content creator, Lauren Taylor. As you’ll quickly learn in this interview, Lauren has a lot more going on than that, from self-publishing the letter magazine to working as a contributing editor for the Everygirl, and as a talent event coordinator for Dote Shopping. She’s even in the process of writing a fiction book proposal, all while being a student at New Hampshire University. We cover all that and more in this interview, but we focus on content creation and what she’s learned from being a brand ambassador and creator for so many different brands including her own.
I think you’ll have a hard time walking away from this episode not feeling inspired. Be sure to check out the show notes at daveyandkrista.com for the resources we mentioned during the episode, and I’d like to hear from you about what content you’d like to see on the Brands that Book podcast as we move forward.
I’d also like to know what episodes you’ve enjoyed most so far and why. To leave your feedback, head on over to the Davey and Krista Facebook page and send us a message. Now, onto the interview.
[0:01:55.4] DJ: All right, Lauren in San Francisco right now, it is 5:30 in the morning. I’m impressed that you’re up for this interview. Thank you for getting up so early to join us.
[0:02:05.8] LT: Of course. No. I’m so thrilled for this, so getting up is no problem at all. It’s actually funny, I’m actually oddly enough an early bird. I typically go to bed like an old grandma, like 8 or 9:00.
[0:02:20.1] DJ: It’s funny, we’re the same way. We go to bed, especially with a newborn now, we go to bed super early and we tend to get up pretty early as well. I guess, it’s important for you to be an early bird because I’m just – I had to literally write down all of the things that are going on right now with you, so I’m just going to go through this list here, but you’re a brand ambassador and content creator, contributing editor of the Everygirl and then you’re a talent and event coordinator for Dote Shopping, right? I’m saying that right? Women run fashion company. Did I get everything there?
[0:02:54.6] LT: Yes, you got everything there.
[0:02:56.0] DJ: Yeah. You just have so many – I mean, fascinating things going on that I’m excited to dive in and talk with you about. I imagine that you have to get up pretty early just to get all the things done.
[0:03:07.6] LT: Yeah, definitely. Actually crazy enough, so I typically get up at 5:30 a.m. every morning and now being on the West Coast, because I’m trying to keep that East Coast time. Yeah, getting up on the West Coast and getting that done, because I’m also, totally forgot to mention this to you, so I went back to school, so I’m a junior at southern New Hampshire University as well. Yeah, I definitely have to start my day early for sure.
[0:03:34.3] DJ: Yeah. I mean, you just have so much going on. Being on the West Coast, we did some work out on the West Coast previously and what was hard about being on the West Coast is when I woke up in the morning, I felt like I was behind just because the rest of the country, their day is already under way. I don’t know if you felt that at all as you’ve moved out to San Francisco.
[0:03:54.3] LT: Definitely. Yeah. It’s crazy, because I think that just – I don’t know, it’s so different. This is my first time that I moved cross-country recently, and it’s so different than the East Coast night. I joke with people over here, because I said the first thing that I noticed, they were obsessed with avocados. Even my Lyft driver had an avocado tree in his backyard. I was like, “What is that?”
Yeah, it’s vastly different, especially with the time, but I think that again just waking up early, you do feel you are fulfilling your day even more, and I just – I want to feel that I am trying to accomplish everything that I can within a day. It feels good, but at the same time it’s completely pitch black. It’s just so crazy.
[0:04:44.2] DJ: Well, one of the reasons that I’m really excited to talking with you today is because so much of what you do really centers on creating content. You’re creating content for yourself and for your own brand, but you’re also creating content for other brands. I’m really excited to dig into your approach to creating compelling content, and I know that you’re launching a YouTube channel, or maybe you have a YouTube channel, but you’re starting to vlog on that YouTube channel. I’m excited to dig into all of that. First, can you just give us an idea of what you’re doing right now, and then I want to dig into how you got there.
[0:05:22.3] LT: Definitely. Okay, so right now as you mentioned, so content creator and brand ambassador, curating for both my social media and YouTube channel. I’ve also done modeling and that typically also includes editing and filming and curating photoshoots and styling, and for my personal brand and partnerships with other brands as well too. Also mentioned for it, I recently moved cross-country from Virginia to San Francisco and took a job opportunity as a talent and event coordinator for Dote Shopping.
There, I organize and create all the events for them all over the world. We just got back from Maui and headed to Fiji and New York, which is just insane. They work with a lot of social media influencers as well in their Dote community. I think it’s really cool, because I get to be a creator, but at the same time I get to see the behind the scenes of an actual brand and what they do for creators. It’s also insane just to say all of these things out loud too. I’m just man, you would think that, I would just get no sleep.
[0:06:32.2] DJ: It’s cool, because you get this 360 view of, like you just mentioned on being on the creator side, but then also being part of a brand that can prop up, or help prop up creators with different opportunities. Going back just a little, what is a brand ambassador?
[0:06:48.4] LT: Right, so a brand ambassador is all about representing a brand, or representing a campaign that they’re doing. I started off actually with Aerie. That was my first ever campaign that I was ever a part of, and I am so obsessed with her messaging, especially with women and diversity and sharing that representation. I think for as a brand ambassador, for one, with brand and really just sharing on the genuine love that you have for the brand. That’s typically how I think most people get introduced. When you’re tagging a brand on social media, or with Aerie, I not only tag them, but I reached out to them to these brands have different campaigns throughout the year and I was part of their Aerie role broad campaign, and there was some other Aerie role campaigns that actually one of them, they put me in the store with other Aerie girls. It was 50 plus stores across the United States, and then also in the Times Square as well too, on a billboard and that was really, really cool. Yeah, they’re just brilliant.
I think, besides being representation of the brand, it goes even deeper than that as well too, because I feel like brands are now trying to pick people that can resonate with their audiences. With being a brand ambassador, you’re showing that relatability and you’re sharing your love for the brand and you’re also creating content for them as well on your own social media platforms.
[0:08:21.5] DJ: How did you even get started with, like did you decide one day that you wanted to be a brand ambassador? How did all of that come about?
[0:08:29.3] LT: It started with my YouTube channel. When I first started YouTube, which some of the embarrassing videos I have on there, I basically started out just talking and sharing different things, and then I went into lifestyle contact. Then that’s when I started to discover, it was actually my first partnership ever, it was Campbell Soup, and it was with my grandma. She made something with Campbell Soup and I took a cute picture with her, tagged them and then they shipped me items, and just this big box of all Campbell Soup. It was t-shirts and mugs and just all this stuff.
I was like, “Damn, this is so cool. I wonder how this would work with other brands.” Then, I started to reach out to other brands and ask them to do a partnership. Of course, those pitch e-mails are also very much embarrassing. They were very long and passionately written, but that’s how I almost – I wouldn’t even say started. I think, fumbled into what I do now. I learned that even with me having a small audience, how could I add to the brand and create that content for them?
First creating content for myself on my YouTube channel and then learning how to create content for others, and that’s how I pivoted my pitch towards brands and how I started with them. Then one area pick me up, it was almost like a floodgate of other brands. Then when I got my second official campaign, and that was with Lilly Pulitzer and that was a dream come true and full-on modeling and filming and being interviewed by Cosmopolitan magazine, and that was really insane as well.
[0:10:17.1] DJ: Going back to just getting started, you mentioned that you didn’t have a very big audience at the time. What was it about your YouTube channel, or the content you were creating that I guess would be incentive enough for brands to pick you up to begin with?
[0:10:35.0] LT: That’s a great question. Obviously, if I be really frank, I think I still act myself that, because of my such low numbers. I think that honestly, and it’s called, I didn’t probably put you this, but micro-influencers. I think it is really becoming a thing nowadays for a couple of reasons. For one, being that with people with a small following, I feel like we are the audience, or the target audience of these brands. To be able to represent a brand, and people can actually genuinely trust, right? It feels like a human voice speaking to them, and they feel connected with us. I think that’s a big part of why these brands decide to work with micro-influencers.
Another reason too is that I think through the content that I had created that it’s not only resharable, or it’s also a representation of their own brand, as if someone from their own brand were to create it. I think that getting into the mindset of the brands and how they would set up a shot, or how they would film something, or share something, I think that’s super helpful when you are trying to position yourself for a certain brand.
I think that’s added to why these plants decided to work with me, because I’ve proved myself on the front end of I have an engaged audience of the audience that I do have and they trust me in my opinion sharing something with them. Then two, I have proven that I’ve been able to create great content that the brands have been able to use so. I think those are the two deciding factors in approaching brands and why they choose to work with people.
[0:12:25.5] DJ: I got to imagine that at least part of it is that you’re just – I mean, you in a very authentic way, love the brands that you work with. It seems like, I mean, even the Campbell Soup, it was you really liked their product. You said your grandmother made something?
[0:12:40.4] LT: Yes, exactly.
[0:12:41.2] DJ: Yeah. I mean, does it get any more Campbell Soup-esque than that, right? I got to imagine that at least some level, it’s just the authenticity behind what you’re sharing about these content as well. I guess, it’s awesome that it’s not just, “Oh, I get on and I create authentic content.” It’s that you’re thinking through how that brand would position their products and how they would shoot their products whether on video, or photo, or whatnot and how they would style their products. You’re actually thinking, “How can I create content that these brands can use themselves?”
[0:13:18.0] LT: Exactly. Yes, that’s exactly it. Because I feel like a lot of the times, sometimes people, they typically try to say, “Okay, so what can a brand do for me?” In my mind, I flip that, because I think that if you can add more to the brand and not necessarily a million followers, because that’s what all that brands need, and so if you could add more to the brand and figure out your positioning in that, then I think that’s a gold mined, and booking them. I think that looking at the brand, seeing what they may need, seeing what they’re doing right now and aligning yourself with that, I think that’s the perfect way in getting into being a brand ambassador, or even a content creator.
[0:14:01.9] DJ: I imagine for smaller companies too, I mean, not necessarily the areas of the world, but for smaller companies in that, they might not have a full-on creative marketing team. If some were to come along and share about their brand in an authentic way and then also according to their brand guidelines and their brand styles, that would be really appealing for that company, because they don’t have necessarily anybody else who’s going to make that stuff for them, and somebody’s come along and done it for free.
[0:14:30.4] LT: Exactly, definitely. I think too that by doing things for free in the beginning and building or portfolio, that’s amazing, because not only are you getting that experience, but you’re also getting that advertisement as well on the brand, even if the brand is small and you’re able to build up those names. I feel like people, once they’ve worked with a few brands, they should definitely mention that in going forward and reaching out with more brands, because it just shows that I’ve done this hard work, my work has been proven. Then they can eventually start monetizing that.
[0:15:07.3] DJ: As people are just getting started, you’d mention that you – it sounded almost you were cringing when you’re thinking about your initial pitch e-mails to different companies. Tell us a little bit about what you learned about pitching companies to be a brand ambassador.
[0:15:25.1] LT: Such a great question as well too. Yes, so my previous pitch e-mails are, I just still crack up at them, because they were just – they were very sweet and passionate, but my goodness they were at least a page long. I feel like, when you are pitching a brand, keep it short and sweet.
The main content pieces are you want that introduction, but not just any introduction. You want to keep it light-hearted and fun. If I’m pitching, let’s just say Aerie, then I would say, “Okay, well I’m a brand ambassador, a content creator and also a woman empowerment obsessed gal,” and just keeping that very personal. Then I would dive into why I’m reaching out to them. If they do have a campaign going on, or if it’s just a general thing I would say, “I really obsessed with your brand mission,” and I would mention something personal about them that they’re doing. Let’s just say, your Aerie rug campaign was really incredible and just very beautifully inspiring.
Then I would go into the why after that and just saying that I would love to partner with you all on a future campaign, or I would love to do ABC and D, and just give them a really snippet of your idea. Then close it out with another compliment and say just, “Thank you so much again for inspiring the world.” Then leave all of your social information and whatnot below.
I feel with reaching out to brands, brands are very smart. They’re going to know, okay is this person genuine? Can we see this person within our brand? Keeping it short and sweet like that I think is perfect, because then you’re hitting all the marks in that introduction, you’re giving them that genuine compliment and then you’re pitching them a really quick idea, because you want the conversation to go back and forth. You don’t just want to say everything in one e-mail, and then have them pass it.
It’s almost like a hook. You want to get them excited, and then reply back to you. Even if they say no, you can still follow up and say, “Okay, well I would love to reach out to you again.” I worked with Made Well. Actually, it was a year later. I had to reach out to them a couple of times, they said no twice, and then I had reached out to them one more time through their PR company, because they had actually left their phone number and the e-mail. Called them and then I booked it. You just never know.
[0:17:57.8] DJ: Yeah. I mean, that’s awesome that you just – I mean, you kept trying. I think most people would give up after the first mail. Then of the people who tried again would probably give up after the second mail. After the third time they said yes. I mean, what’s your approach if someone says no, how long did you give, how much time went by before you reach back out?
[0:18:17.7] LT: My rule of thumb is when you first send an e-mail to wait at least three days to send a follow-up e-mail. Then once you send a follow-up e-mail and you still have not heard back, I would wait at least a week, and then send one more. Then wait again. If you still do not receive a response, a really great tip is to – you can always go on to LinkedIn, or you can always search other context, or companies, because companies typically when doing anything with marketing, it’s going to have an advertising e-mail, social e-mail, so they might say firstname.lastname@example.org, or something like that. Or you can find a person and through LinkedIn, or something, like their marketing person whatnot and possibly get that contact.
Or you can even call. I feel like a lot of people don’t even call brands, which a lot of them they have phone numbers, and so you can call and possibly get a contact. The number one thing though is do not stalk them, or hit them up multiple, multiple times. I think up to three times is fine, as long as you space it out. Then if not, then then you just may have to wait a few months, because you never know, the brand maybe just is busy in that season. I think that patience, it’s tough and just waiting for that long.
I waited for brands before six months to a year. I think that it’s just all about your timing. Even with the days. Another great tip is never send e-mails out on Friday, because everybody’s trying to get out of the office. Never send e-mails on a Monday, because everyone’s catching up for the weekend. It’s really great to position your e-mails either on a Tuesday, or Wednesday, or a Thursday. Those are really the great days of the week.
[0:20:07.3] DJ: Yeah. I think you just unloaded a ton of really practical advice, not only for somebody who’s trying to get into being a brand ambassador, but I think just in business in general, everything that you said rings true. Web design clients for instance will sometimes inquire for us and we’ll send them information, we’ll follow up, we won’t hear anything for six months and then they’ll come back and say, “Hey, I’m ready to get started.” Sometimes, you just got to wait for people to be to be ready themselves, you just be patient, but then also just in terms of when you reach out to people.
Like you said Friday is a terrible time to reach out to people. Mondays again, people are just trying to clean out their inbox. If it’s something that seems it would be a lot to respond to, they might just archive that e-mail and forget about it Again, I just think tons of practical advice for people there, whether they’re trying to become a brand ambassador, or whether they’re in some other business.
One thing I want to follow up with this, I also want to get into creating content. Before I do, as far as being a brand ambassador goes, is it important to be on certain platforms? I would assume that having some video presence is important?
[0:21:14.9] LT: Great question. Yes. Here’s how I feel about social media platforms, because there are so many out there. We’re just talking about IGTV, which again I can’t believe that’s even a thing, because I think with social media and how it’s changing, I think that everyone’s trying to become the number one platform when you don’t leave the platform, right? Especially Instagram.
I feel you need to first figure out which platform do you love the most and you would share on the most. Then from there, which platform would be the best for your personal brand, because for me, I only use Instagram, YouTube, Pinterest. I feel like those platforms are the best way, because I’m very visual heavy in the content that I produce.
For somebody else, Pinterest may not make sense and Facebook may makes sense. I think, once you pick, I wouldn’t pick all of them, because I don’t – I personally think that you don’t need all of them. I think that you just need a solid two or three. Then in figuring out okay, how do you want to create your content, because even though video content is great, but I’ve seen success in just writing content as far as a blog, or just even on Twitter. Twitter is a great place for content as well, and even branches out for that.
I think that it depends on what brands are going for. How you genuinely like to share where is your brand voice, where’s your brand voice home, and because if you get on to a platform where you think a brand would think that was great, but then you don’t feel comfortable sharing on it, or that it’s not your vibe, then that’s going to show through.
[0:22:58.3] DJ: Yeah. I think a lot of people are going to be happy to hear that, because I would assume, oh, you have to have this video personality, you have to be charismatic, you have to be on a YouTube, you have to be on IGTV. I think a lot of people, people who might be interested in being a brand ambassador, but aren’t video people, I think this is going to be good news to them.
[0:23:16.4] LT: Definitely, yeah. I think that people – I know, I totally get it that sometimes we feel like we have to be everything in anything, but I think simplicity and keeping it minimal and to be really great at a couple things as far as our content and sharing on that, because of course every audience is different. I feel as long as you keep also engaged on that content, because I mean, social media wouldn’t be social media without us at these conversations, and I think that people sometimes also forget that as well.
It’s really important, even with Instagram and even caption writing. I mean, to always keep engaged with your audience, because that’s the most important and to create those conversations on that platform, or any platform that you’re on, that is really the true key in building your audience, and then the brand will see that and they’ll see all of those comments and conversations and understand that, “Oh, wow they have an audience that trust them and engages with them.” That’s an amazing pool. I mean, it’s far more valuable to have, let’s just say a thousand engaged people, rather than a few thousand unengaged people.
I think this is a good segue too in talking about content creation and engagement, creating compelling content for so many different channels, because like we mentioned at the beginning of this interview, you’re not only a brand ambassador, which you could be sharing for area one week and Lilly Pulitzer, the next I assume, but you’re also the contributing editor of the Everygirl, and then you’re also working for Dote and you’re getting into vlogging of your own. How do you manage all of these different content channels? Do you have the same approach for each of these channels?
[0:25:08.9] LT: Well first, I manage them with a lots of prayer, a lot of faith that it will all work out. Yes, but definitely different approaches. With Instagram and then with YouTube and then with the Everygirl, so the Everygirl is very much curated in the sense with lifestyle content, where I am basically outlining the entire video and I do a complete pitch for them and I set up every single scene and almost make it like if you think of a movie and how movies are set up, but just a mini-movie in that, and it’s very much just also too if you’re setting up a photoshoot, it’s very much styled and sit down in intros and conclusions and everything. Versus on my own YouTube channel, which as you mentioned starting a vlog, where that’s super candid, it’s very much relaxed.
Then on Instagram, Instagram varies, because it just depends on I might throw a candid picture in there, or it is a style that photoshoot for a brand, or something like that. Basically my approach to each different platform just depends on what is the objective. What’s the goal? With the Everygirl, really honing in on their audience, and I’ve done a lot of style videos for them, or how-to videos and really teaching their audience something. That is my objective and creating that video content and making sure that that’s coming across.
With something over on Instagram, I basically surround two different objectives there. One, I may have a partnership with the brand, and so I’m showing off an outfit, or an item, or something like that. Or two, I am coming at it with my audience and sharing inspiration, or sharing something personal that I feel like people can relate to and we can have a conversation about.
The way that I manage, I actually use plan only, which is incredible for content and just uploading content, keeping all of that organized. I try to stay ahead, so I also too, I plan out my Instagram about a month in advance, and along with my captions. Then also with my video content, I organize it as those outlines and pitches to project are super helpful, because then it keeps that storyline really clean. That’s basically how I approach everything, just staying ahead of it, because I think posting in real-time is great, but I think that when you carry everything, when you have all of your thoughts and everything like that, it’s just so helpful. Then when you feel you’re completely stumped on a caption, or content, or something, you already have something in your bank that you can pull up later.
[0:28:01.3] DJ: Sure. Even if you schedule something, but in the moment you feel like, “No, I got to share this,” you can always go ahead and do that. At very least, you have something ready to go. I guess, what I’m hear you saying as far as content creation and for all these different channels, you start with the end goal in mind. How does that differ a little bit between for instance your personal YouTube and Instagram channel, as opposed to the Everygirl?
[0:28:27.5] LT: With my personal versus – I guess, okay, so personal versus a brand, so like the Everygirl. With the Everygirl, I have a lot of creative control there which is incredible. At the same time, because it’s more so on their platform and their audience, which is similar to mine, but not my exact audience, I think, I think about them more so, rather than just what I want. At the end of the day when I’m pitching, so whenever you’re pitching a brand, or they’ll probably come back to you with different notes about what they want and what they’re expecting, and then that’s when you take your creativity and put it on top of that, almost like an ice cream topping in a sense.
Basically, like I said before, it’s a lot more curated to them and to their brand messaging, their target audience, versus my personal stuff where I’m only caring about my audience, if that makes sense. It’s a lot – I have a 100% creative control there, and I can do whatever I want there and whatever I feel sharing, versus a brand, or like the Everygirl where that pitch needs to be approved, that outline need to be approved. It’s variously seamless in the fact of the objective and the content being produced as a curated piece particularly for that.
[0:29:54.2] DJ: What have you learned from managing all of these different channels? Because I got to imagine that you’ve picked up different things along the way. I mean, what advice would you have for somebody that’s just getting into content?
[0:30:06.9] LT: Oh, man. I think that gosh, yes, I have learned so much. I call them my little Oprah moment, or Oprah moment. Well for one, I think it’s just so important to know just to go for. I feel in my engagement with my personal audience, especially over on Instagram, and the number one message that I receive from people is just how did you get started? How did you get started?
Even though it sounds completely minuscule, but I just started. I think that is one of the hardest things to do when you’re approaching anything creative, because so many self-doubts can go into it, comparisons and everything like that. I used to go at the end of the day, no one can do it like you can, and that’s the most important thing to understand is that even though you may approach something similar, no one’s going to be able to be into the creative mindset that you’re going to have, because no one is you.
The other thing too besides just to start is to just keep going. I think that’s the other trial after that, is just – a lot of this stuff that I’m doing now, I’ve been in this for about 3 to 4 years and it definitely didn’t happen overnight at all. I think when you are pursuing your passion, it’s going to take time, but I think if you keep at it, those doors would open, and I always talk about a leap of faith. It goes back to a perfect scenario, [inaudible 0:31:34.0] meant he jumped out of an airplane and he was talking about that expAerience. He even goes into the point where he’s about to jump out of the airplane and it was the point of maximum fear, but then as soon as he jumped out, it’s like, he didn’t realize, he was like, “Why the heck was I scared in the first place?” That it’s so true in the creative community when we first do things, or when we’re in the middle of something where we’ve done it for a long time and we feel like giving up.
It’s just that I think everybody can really resonate with that fear of is this going to work out? Is this my path? Just all of those things, but I think that if we just can take that leap, or if we can keep going and just give it our all, then that will come to flourish and we will really see the journey in that. I think in doing everything that I’m doing, it’s really all about the journey rather than the destination.
I’ve had a lot of just personal growth, and I understand that this is just so much bigger than just myself. I think my purpose has just fallen to pouring back into other people’s lives and no matter what I do, or my future, I want to make sure that that is represented in all of my work. I feel, then people definitely need to identify what their purpose is, because it’s not – I personally believe it’s not just our jobs. It’s a lot bigger than that. I feel like when people find that, then that’s where they’re going to find joy in everything that they do.
[0:33:05.3] DJ: Yeah. Again, there’s so much in there that I think is valuable. From so many different – from doing so many different interviews, I mean, it’s shocking how many – I mean, almost every one of the guests I think have said, “Yeah, you just got to start. You just got to go and do it. You just got to keep going.” There’s so much value in there, and that’s the biggest – not to not to oversimplify the creative process, or business, but a lot of it has to do with just getting out there and doing it and iterating and learning from mistakes, whether it be a long pitch e-mails, or something else and just keep going.
I’m going to throw you a little bit of a curveball here, because I did not put this – for everybody listening, I generally send a little outline over to the guests of the show, but can we talk about your purpose a little bit? I think it’d be helpful for people to hear what really excites you when it comes to content creation, the things that you’re really passionate about as they think through their own purpose for content creation.
[0:34:04.9] LT: Definitely. Okay, so I’m going to throw you a story, because I am obsessed with this and this was – I think this is a pivoting point in which I started to find my purpose. To set it up, so I had stopped going to school after the first semester. Did not feel ready and then went retail, learned a lot from retail. Then I went back home for a while. Then I remember my high school, they actually invited me out to speak at a couple of middle school classes, and it was my – one of my first times ever speaking on that level, where you’re sharing your accomplishments and everything that you’re doing.
I remember walking into the room and seeing all, it was a girls’ computer class and it was my old computer teacher Mr. Gideon, which I am obsessed with him. He’s the sweetest teacher ever. I remember just setting up my presentation and talking with the girls about my magazine at the time, and then just everything that I had been doing, and they just lit up to the point where by the end of the class, I was citing their notebook, pick one like other craft. One of the girls asked me if I knew Beyonce, which – it was the sweetest, just most humbling thing.
I think that that just – and I turn over and go into the cards completely crying, because I was just like, “Oh, my gosh. They just kept telling me how they felt so inspired and how they wanted to do what I was doing.” Just all these things. I think that for me just opened up a floodgate for wow, like I can impact people with what I do. Yeah, that just did everything for me, and I think when you realize that, or when you realize how powerful your voice can be, or your influence can be, then and to use that in such a positive way, I feel like that’s a really the lightning rod for everything. That’s why getting up at 5:00 something in the morning is no problem, because I just know with my work, that’s something that I want to consistently instil in everything that I do.
I think that’s what really started my purpose with that. Then moving forward, I just realized that we tend to keep ourselves in this tiny little box sometimes, of what we could do. I think before I used to be just so like, “Man, this is never going to work out. It’s never going to happen.” Just I could, Debbie – not necessarily Debbie Downer, but just like a [inaudible 0:36:41.3] in my own self, and which didn’t make any sense, because I felt encouragement for everyone else, but except for my own self.
I think trying to grow that and be better about that, I just have pushed myself to any idea that I even think is stupid I’m going to try, and I’m just going to see what happens and just go for it. I have done that for the past three to four years, and it’s just proven to – but some of these, all these things happening and which still shocked me and humbled me, but I just think that it just proves that we are just so much more capable of what we think we are, and anything is truly possible. I feel like, as long as we can understand that and know that and know that we can be something, our dreams are going to be even greater than what we’ve already dreamt, that is such fuel in our determination to get things done and to keep going and everything.
I just think that even with social media audiences as well too, because I know that can be a discouragement as far as, “Man, I don’t have this amount of followers, or I’m only talking to my grandma,” which by the way, my grandma, my mom are the only ones watching my YouTube video back in the day.
[0:37:57.2] DJ: Well, and Campbell Soup.
[0:37:58.6] LT: Campbell Soup. Yeah, exactly. To me, that doesn’t matter, because I mean, even if you can just touch one person, or just share something with one person, I mean, that could inspire the next president, that can inspire the next whomever. You just don’t know, like you don’t know who you’re inspiring. I think that most at the end of the day, that’s what people want to do. They want to connect and they want to have those relationships and they want to inspire people. I think that even if you just have one follower, if you at least have one follower, then you’re doing that and you should just pursue it with all you got.
[0:38:32.0] DJ: Yeah, I think that’s probably even the best way to grow your following is to pour as much as you can into that one follower, because that one follower is going to become an energized follower and somebody who’s super engaged, or somebody who tells their friends. Then also, even when thinking about numbers too, let’s say you have a 100 Instagram followers, if you put a 100 people in a room, wouldn’t that be impressive?
[0:38:54.6] LT: Exactly. I love that metaphor. It’s exactly it.
[0:38:58.5] DJ: Thank you for sharing all that. I know I put you on the spot, because that definitely wasn’t in – it definitely wasn’t in the outline, but that was – I mean, that is a great story, and I think a great perspective for people to hear. There are a couple things I want to hit on before we end here. The first one, I want to talk about video a little bit and the advantage of video. Video is something I’ve asked a bunch of people about, because it’s something that I’m trying to get more into and more comfortable with, just because I think it is an important marketing channel.
I also want to talk to you about what you’ve learned from your role at Dote, and I also, and don’t let me forget this, you’re writing a fiction book. We have those three things to cover before we end here, okay?
[0:39:38.3] LT: [Inaudible 0:39:38.5].
[0:39:39.5] DJ: Number one, video. Is that just a medium that you were naturally comfortable with, or did you have to become comfortable? I guess, what I’m trying to get at is what recommendations do you have for somebody to get more comfortable with video?
[0:39:57.5] LT: Interesting enough, and I think just because I am – I just talk way too much, I think that’s one. I think that’s why it’s easier to do video. Okay, so when I was starting out, the very – I saw a lot of popular YouTube videos and whatnot and I just thought to myself like, “Oh, I can do this too.” It was so funny, I used to make 14-minute videos on YouTube and just – I mean, just talk it out. I mean, it’s just so long.
Then I learned just by doing and just by watching others, the attention span of my audience at 3 to 4 minutes, sweet spot. I think for me, it basically was just by trial and error. I feel like when you’re starting out with video and trying to be comfortable on camera, it’s almost like you have to think about, “Okay, if I were to be talking to my best friend, so my best friend Felicia, if I were to be talking to her, this is how I need to be talking to my audience for that connection,” because video shows everything.
I didn’t quite realize that in starting out. I mean, you cannot hide from video. The camera is right in your face, and so people pick up on everything, every mannerism and can really tell if you are being genuine. I think, that was a little bit hard for me, because everybody has a shield when they’re first meeting people, right? It’s literally like an introduction where you’re like, “Hi. How’s the weather?” Just very surface level.
Getting behind a camera, even though it’s just you and the camera, and I think that sometimes it’s hard to bring that level off, and I remember doing a couple personal video to try to break down that barrier and to be just more vulnerable with my audience. I think that’s what made me start to be more comfortable is putting my vulnerability out there, sharing personal things and starting to put faces with my audience, and in talking them through their comments and everything like that. I think that was super helpful as well, because I think once you identify your person, or your target audience, but you’re putting a personality to them, you’re putting a face to them, it’s a lot easier to talk to the camera, because it is like talking with a friend, versus just talking to yourself in a room and then you feel super awkward and you’re just like, “Man, this is so hard.”
That’s the best way to – or the best tip that I can give and being comfortable in front of a camera. You have to act like it’s your best friend, and you are really just sharing your life. That’s why I wanted to get into vlogging, because I just like, feel it keeps that vulnerable state and that state where people can really resonate with you and the things that you are – that are going on in your life. It’s not so much curated, and you’re just able to be real, which I think in this day and age, that’s what people are really seeking for, because I feel like people who are able to be real and comfortable in that, then it encourages others to do so as well. It helps people to be able to relate to you too.
[0:43:11.7] DJ: Yeah. I think that’s one of the biggest advantages of video is that it’s just easier to build trust with people, because they can see you, because they can put a face to your name. I can imagine that that’s one of the biggest benefits of video is that it’s just easier to build trust with your audience.
[0:43:27.7] LT: Exactly. I think too that people, because it’s very fascinating. I remember my dad, one of my videos, it was like a good morning routine and I was showing myself brushing my teeth and he was like, “People watch that?” I’m like, “Yeah.”
[0:43:44.0] DJ: I would even say that’s pretty good advice. Just what you were saying about speaking to a specific person and acting like it’s a conversation that you’re having with your best friend, I mean, even if you’re not on video, but if you’re blogging, whatever medium is that you choose, that’s probably going to make your content more compelling, because it’s more specific and it is truly conversational, rather than just trying to speak to the masses.
I don’t want to – I feel like maybe we need to do a whole another episode just on video, but for the sake of time moving on to Dote, and I should have asked this question earlier when we were talking about being a brand ambassador; are there certain things that you learned in this role, seeing it from the other side, that either has helped you as a brand ambassador yourself, or I mean, maybe it’s an advice that you have for people who are trying to be a brand ambassador, it’s like, hey, now that I’m on the company side of it, the brand side of it, here’s what to do well so that you can actually get in front of the brands that you want to get in front of.
[0:44:51.3] LT: Yes. It was such an eye-opener to see what brands actually look for, because when we’re sourcing for events, or for photoshoots and everything and we’re going in and we’re looking at the girls, and they have truly taught me, especially just with their personal brand what they’re seeking and for their own representation.
I would say, the very first thing especially on social media, you almost need to even though you want to keep it candid and personal, but you almost need to think of it as a portfolio, because that’s how these brands are finding people through Instagram, through YouTube, especially keywords. I did not know how important those were, especially on YouTube, or even Instagram, through different hashtags, let’s just say San Francisco photographer, or San Francisco blogger, or YouTuber, or putting different keywords on YouTube. Let’s just say if we’re sourcing girls for a photo shoot in New York, you would look up photoshoot, or New York vlogger, or New York boarding routine, and just see who pops up.
The other thing too is I think with brands, even within our sourcing, we are very quick to assess what the person is like, what their personality is, what they can bring to the table. I feel especially on Instagram, your first nine photos are the most important photos, because that’s exactly what brands are going to look at right away. Or even your YouTube videos. Your very first four or five, that’s what they’re going to look at right away, and it’s very quick. I mean, the attention span of brands and looking at your staff, probably less than five minutes.
I think that if you and looking at your portfolio/social media and making sure that it draws people in and whatever you’re doing that is super important. I think too as well as just seeing it from the brand side, like this overall, I’ve just learned that brands at the end of the day, they just want to know what you are going to add to what they’re doing, right? I think, most people definitely need to analyze that and see okay, out of my talent, out of everything that I’ve done, what can I give to the brand that even they don’t have, or something better that they could have?
I know that we deal and we’re definitely working on diversity and inclusivity and everything like that, and that’s something that I think a lot of brands are also looking forward too, as far as representation and not just black and white, but just all different body, sizes and everything with when women and all different cultural backgrounds. That’s something that you could offer a brand. There’s just so many other things on top of that. I just think that seeing it from the brand side and just seeing how quick they assess people and what they look for, has definitely even made me fix up my own social media as well too.
[0:47:55.5] DJ: Yeah, just make sure that the first thing everybody’s seeing above the fold, whether it be on Instagram, whether it be on your website, or whether it be on your YouTube channel is you’d be happy with people seeing that, because that’s your first impression. I mean, if that doesn’t come off the right way, I assume brands are just moving on to the next person.
[0:48:14.2] LT: Exactly. Yes. It’s just so quick too. I mean, I didn’t quite realize that, and but I also get it because they have so many people to look through. I think that that’s why you definitely need to stand out, but in your own way. I mean, definitely not something that you wouldn’t do or anything like that, and I think that just show – letting your personality show through your content is super important.
[0:48:37.6] DJ: I bet you have added a ton of value though to Dote as well, and you were probably the perfect job candidate for the job that you feel, just because you do have expAerience on the other side. You can help them, you can probably help inform them on some of the best ways that they can help content creators as well.
[0:48:55.8] LT: Thank you so much. Yeah, definitely. I love that it’s woman run, because women just rule. That was a really key passion in mind, especially aligning with my own mission as well. Yeah, I think that it’s just been so much fun just to be able to gain that experience that they’re giving me, and to be able to have a voice and that creativity towards the events in coordinating that, and just getting to meet also to so many different people and other creators as well. I think yeah, it’s just been so much fun.
This is actually my very first, I say grown-up job, but I’m only – I’m 26, so to be able to be in a field like this and moving from Virginia to San Francisco and doing that on my own. It’s funny. I mean, I’m not going to lie. I definitely, the very first week even into this job I was crying almost every day, just because I was like, “What the heck did I do?” It’s paid off and I’m super happy. I think that when you are doing something new and you finally find your niche, or your groove to it, then you’re just really able to put fun into it and continue to learn. Yeah, I definitely just gained so much.
It just makes me so excited for the future. I feel like people sometimes, you always think in the now, or maybe we’ll think a few days later, but we don’t really think all the time about the future, or years down the road. I definitely think this is just such a great starting point for all my future ideas and dreams down the road.
[0:50:33.7] DJ: Yeah, for sure. I bet, if you went back two or three years and had to write down, “Hey, what do you think 26 is going to look like for you?” It would have probably been so different then.
[0:50:44.0] LT: It’s so different.
[0:50:45.4] DJ: Yeah, and I think that’s true of so many different people. I’m just excited for you. I think this is a good time to wrap-up. But before we do, I want to talk to you. You were writing a fictional book proposal. Can you tell us anything about that, or is that completely under wraps for right now?
[0:51:04.0] LT: Yes. Okay, so I’ll definitely tell you. I just got on my – or I have on my book editor Diana Joyner, and this is actually her. She’s edited tons of books before, but this is actually going to be her first fictional book, so we’re super excited. Basically, so to give you a little bit of a background, so my magazine, The Letter, that is coming to an end after four years and I’m – it’s bittersweet, but at the same time I’m actually really excited, because it just taught me so much about self-publishing. Now going into actually pitching to a publishing house is so different from me, and so I’m still learning the ropes and that.
The main thing I can say is that I’ve been wanting to write a fictional book for the longest time, I think ever since high school. Now doing that and just learning in that, I think this is just really great a segue from doing my magazine and everything, because I’ve always wanted to be an author. I’m hoping that just through this that I’ll gain expAerience in that. Diana and I are figuring out that outline together and then pitching that and then seeing what comes from that. I mean, the ultimate dream is bestseller and then for it to turn into a movie, and I think that would be the coolest thing ever.
That’s basically where I am right now. We’re really in the brainstorming stages and just really learning, taking everything that I’ve learned from self-publishing and applying that to this book proposal for this fictional book. I’m super pumped about it.
[0:52:41.5] DJ: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s cool hearing that you have such a 360 view of so many different things, whether it being a brand ambassador, both as a brand ambassador, but then also from the corporate brand side, and then now from the publishing side having self-published, now pitching something to an editor. I’m excited to see what comes to that, and who knows, maybe a couple years from now when they’re turning your book into a movie, I’ll be able to say, “Yeah, actually I interviewed her on my podcast.” That would be pretty, pretty exciting. Can you tell us at all what it’s going to be about, or is that can’t share any of that right now?
[0:53:17.1] LT: Yeah. I will say this, I’ll give you insider scoop. I will say this, it is definitely – I think it’s definitely going to have part of my journey in it, but there is still going to be a lot of fictional pieces, just because I feel I haven’t quite been able to touch on my personal journey as far as the very beginning and just so many things that have gone on. I think that’s the angle that it’s going to take. Then of course, changing names, adding some fictional, fun fictional things in there. I think that it’s just going to be really cool to have a book where you’re following this creativity journey in a sense, but it’s almost like Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, but then with my own twist on it, because I always want a good mystery book too. I think there’s going to be a lot of facets in there and a lot of layers in there as well too that I’m super thrilled about.
[0:54:12.3] DJ: Well, you’ll have to keep us updated on progress on that front.
[0:54:16.0] LT: Oh, thank you. Yeah, no. definitely. I’m yeah, again like, I’m very obsessively grateful that I’m able to even do this and that I’m able to even put my ideas out there and create them. I think that’s just such again, a humbling thing for any creative to be able to do.
[0:54:35.9] DJ: If people want to learn more about you, where are the various places that they can go?
[0:54:40.2] LT: Yes. Okay, so on social media, you can follow me @LaurenTaylorLTW and that’s all of my social media. Also, you can head over to my website which is actually by Davey and Krista, which is incredible, which is laurentaylorltw.com.
[0:55:00.1] DJ: Awesome. Well, thank you again so much for getting up right and early out on the West Coast to do this interview. I’m excited to share it with people. Again, I hope you keep us updated with all of the different things that you have going on.
[0:55:11.9] LT: Yes, of course. Thank you so much for having me.
[END OF INTERVIEW]
[0:55:17.7] DJ: Thanks for tuning into the Brands that Book Show. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider subscribing and leaving a review in iTunes. For show notes and other resources, head on over daveyandkrista.com.
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