Soul In The Raw

Soul In The Raw

By Olivia Seline & Shannon Wooten

November 12, 2018

Soul in the Raw is a podcast for the creative entrepreneur ready to be honest, to stop making excuses, celebrate their brand of genius, speak freely, radically rebel and take up space. Our #1 rule is to be yourself. Each week we will bring you a badass guest list of leaders to support you on your journey of self-discovery and exploration. If you’re ready to actualize your potential and elevate your business, we’ll see you inside!

The latest episode features Black Wednesday’s owner, Corri Smith.


Black Wednesday’s Corri Smith

Black Wednesday’s Corri Smith

November 7, 2018

On Wednesday, she wears black. To be fair, she always wears black. Black Wednesday’s Corri Smith joins Nikki Wolfe in-studio to talk about starting her own company and her favorite places to go in Charlotte.



These 26 Charlotte Women Influence Your QC Lifestyle (And You May Not Even Know It).

These 26 Charlotte Women Influence Your QC Lifestyle (And You May Not Even Know It).

November 4, 2018

Whether you know it or not, you are influenced every day. It can be from an article, a news story or a post on social media. We consume so much information that sometimes we don’t realize that there are brilliant minds at work behind everything we see. Many of the brilliant minds that influence where you eat, what you do, and even who and what you know in Charlotte are women ~ and we couldn’t be happier.

Here are the 26 women you may or may not know who are influencing Charlotte behind the scenes. From marketing and public relations mavens, to writers and editors, to campaign managers and broadcast gurus, they are so good at what they do, you may not realize how much they have affected your day to day life.

Dee Dixon 
In 2017, Pride Magazine  celebrated 25 years of covering the achievements of African-Americans and people of color in Charlotte. That same year marked 16 years that Dee, publisher and CEO, has helmed the magazine. Now, well in to her seventeenth year leading the charge, Dee has created a vehicle that gives a voice to people of color in the Queen City by showcasing all the incredible things that may have gone unnoticed in prior years.

Sherrell Dorsey 
Tech journalist and social entrepreneur, Sherrell is founder of daily tech newsletter, ThePLUG, the first daily tech newsletter covering black founders, start-ups and innovators. She is also founder of BLKTECHCLT, Charlotte’s first tech hub supporting entrepreneurs and technologists of color throughout North Carolina.

Natalia Flores, APR 
A native of Argentina, Natalia is a public relations dynamo that specializes in developing communications strategies for brands with an emphasis on multicultural markets, including Hispanic and Latin American markets. Natalia is currently the PR Director for AC&M Group, a Charlotte-based full-service marketing firm and helps brands connect with consumers using cultural insights.

Davita Galloway 
Artist, costume designer, speaker, writer, and business owner are just some of the titles that come to mind when you think of Davita. Davita is one of the most dynamic and influential creatives in Charlotte. The co-owner of creative studio, dupp&swat, Davita is committed to sustaining and fostering the creative culture of Charlotte.

Melody Gross 
Melody currently serves as the marketing and communications manager with the Levine Museum of the New South. She is responsible for campaigns and building brand awareness about the nonprofit’s exhibits and programming. In addition to her day job, Melody has recently founded her own company, The STACII Agency, which offers digital communications services to nonprofits.

Anne Marie Holder 
Anne Marie is the Founder, CEO and client expectations optimizer of SPARK Strategic Ideas. From representing restaurants to healthcare systems, Anne Marie and her team create custom campaigns that get clients noticed. For over 10 years, Anne Marie has focused on meeting the high expectations of her clients, while also having high expectations for those she chooses to represent.


Alex Holleman and Lisa Sherrill 
The Scout Guide is known for beautifully curated content on local businesses, but do you know who is behind the magazine? Launched in 2012, Alex is the owner and co-editor of Charlotte’s annual guide, which is geared towards highlighting Charlotte businesses to locals and tourists alike. Lisa, new editor of Scout Guide Charlotte, works with Alex to build strong relationships with the businesses featured.

Kim Holt
Kim is the manager of investigations and special projects at WSOC Channel 9. She has been with the station for over 20 years working to bring exceptional stories to the Charlotte community. Kim has helped create and execute community initiatives such as School Tools and Steve’s Coats for Kids, but it is the behind the scenes work that sets Kim apart. Her ability to build relationships has led to some key interviews at the station, including Saundra Adams, grandmother of Chancellor Lee Adams, Rae Carruth’s son.

Davida Jackson
Davida is a digital marketing communications professional with a passion for civic engagement. She is known for building ‘digital’ bridges between people and organizations, especially for nonprofits. Her commitment to furthering brand awareness of businesses and nonprofits continued when she co-organized #GoodCamp, a free non-traditional conference advancing strategic communications for nonprofits.

Tonya Jameson 
Tonya, a former journalist with the Charlotte Observer, as well as other outlets, is still a storyteller, but in a different capacity. Tonya is now a campaign manager for many successful political campaigns and candidates. Tonya uses her experience in media to ensure the campaigns she manages are thoughtful, to the point, and authentic to her mission of making Charlotte better.

Erin Maddrey 
Erin’s passion for storytelling led her on two professional paths. She owns Blue Tide Creative where she works with companies and brands on creating effective and authentic messaging. Erin has also for the past year been the editor of Carolina Bride magazine and she recently oversaw the publications’ transition from print to digital via a partnership with CharlotteFive. Carolina Bride will now meet couples and vendors where they are and that is online.

Dawn Newsome
Dawn is the owner of Moonlight Creative, an award-winning graphic design, and advertising and marketing studio. An innovator in her field, Dawn has been recognized for her forward thinking work and client campaigns. Dawn and her team love initiating new things for their clients and aren’t afraid to push the envelope.

Theckla Pope 
Theckla is the president and director of accounts with Saturday Brand Communications. Theckla is a strategic thinker who is known for making sales and keeping accounts on brand, often with award-winning results. She also comes from advertising royalty as Theckla Sterrett, founder of Saturday Brand Communication and recently retired, is her mother.

Gwen Poth 
Gwen is the owner of Gwen Poth Communications and is THE public relations professional when it comes to all things culinary. Gwen is known for her ability to multitask, and for her dedication to developing strong relationships in the media and the culinary world, which has benefitted her clients.

Torrie Savage & Paula Bartlett
In Charlotte, when businesses are looking for a creative marketing campaigns and strategies, they call Torrie and Paula. Their business, #thesavageway, has evolved from social media and content to an outdoor media approach through clean graffiti messaging. Clean graffiti is taking a custom message created on a stencil and power washing that message on sidewalks, buildings, and any other dirty surfaces in high foot traffic areas. Torrie and Paula also specialize in moss art for businesses, think unique logos in the reception area.

Wendy Shanahan 
Wendy is the owner and president of Asterisk Creative. Known for her clients in the food and beverage industry, Wendy also works with clients in other industries, including manufacturing, to create custom marketing and branding campaigns.

Courtney Schramm
Courtney is the founder of Charlotte Lately, an online publication that has recently added a print publication to its roster. Courtney is known for creating a product filled with beautiful photos and for featuring events and creative articles about the people and places that make Charlotte unique. Courtney recently sold Charlotte Lately and is moving out of town, so we will all miss her sense of community and beautiful eye.

April Smith 
April, the founder and president of Social Ape Marketing, is known for her social media expertise when it comes to getting client messages out to the masses. Facebook ads, analytics and how to show ROI on a social media campaign may sound intimidating, but not to April.

Corri Smith 
Corri is the founder of Black Wednesday, a public relations, social media, design and event planning company. Corri and her team create strong social media presences for their clients with quality photos, audience engagement and no two accounts look the same. Interested in learning more about social media for yourself and/or your company? Corri also teaches regular social media classes for all levels through SkillPop.

Leighton Smith 
Leighton is a freelance media buyer who works with numerous agencies around town to get their clients the coverage they need and want. She is experienced in traditional media buying and planning, including television, radio, and digital media for clients. She has strong relationships with the media in Charlotte and beyond and that shows in the coverage she is able to secure.

Rachel Sutherland 
Rachel is known for her style and passion, which makes sense as she was the Style Editor at the Charlotte Observer before founding her public relations company, Rachel Sutherland Communications. With her background in media, it’s no wonder Rachel knows the ins and outs of getting local, regional and national coverage for her clients.

Heather Tamol
Heather is the public relations and content director at Wray Ward. Throughout her career, Heather has shown a true understanding of how to create brand loyalty and an understanding of consumer purchasing habits. She knows the importance of having a strategy that is a combination of earned, owned, shared and paid media to reach various audiences.

Stephanie Tinoco 
Stephanie joined the WSCO Eyewitness News team in September 2017 and has hit the ground running. She’s not afraid to tackle uncomfortable subjects such as human trafficking, or ask tough questions to bring the most accurate news to viewers. Her questioning nature and her investigative reporting are breathing fresh air into Charlotte news.

Karen White & Ellery Wilkins 
One of the most dynamic mother-daughter teams in Charlotte, Karen and Ellery run White Advertising. Karen is the owner and founder of White Advertising, which opened for business in 1990. She is known for thinking outside of the box when it comes to creating campaigns for clients. Ellery is the president of White Advertising and is a master when it comes to working with clients and employees.

Jameka Whitten 
Jameka owns and operates JSW Media Group, a boutique public relations and brand management firm that not only focuses on representing companies and brands, but on representing individuals, as well. Many of Jameka’s clients are in the entertainment, fashion, art and publishing industries. Her work stretches beyond Charlotte and clients include Emmy-award winning personalities and nationally known musicians.

Nikki Wolfe 
Nikki is the senior community and marketing director with Yelp Charlotte and is probably one of the best party throwers in Charlotte. From her weekly television segments on WBTV to her must attend events, Nikki is committed to showcasing local Charlotte businesses and making sure the general public knows about off-the-beaten path businesses.



Social Media Strategists: How to Set Your Prices

Social Media Strategists: How to Set Your Prices

By Saige Driver
October 24, 2018

One of the most difficult but important tasks freelancers have is setting prices. The community asked how social media strategists should set prices, and we asked experts to find out.

As a freelancer, deciding how much to charge for projects is an important decision. Charging too little may result in a lot of work for not a lot of pay. If you charge too much, you could have a tough time finding and keeping customers.

A community member asked, “What should I charge to run a small business’s social media?” This is an important question for a lot of social media strategists who struggle to set prices. We asked social media experts to find an answer.

1. Decide how much you want to make a year.

When you’re deciding how much to charge as a freelancer or social media strategist, you need to take a step back and decide what your yearly salary should be. To determine this figure, you can conduct research on sites such as Glassdoor or LinkedIn. Once you decide how much you want to make yearly, work backward.

“I try to work backward from what I would want my hourly rate to be, charging a flat rate based on the projected number of hours I’d be spending on each social platform,” said Nicole Fallon, a social media consultant.

Editor’s note: Looking for online marketing services for your business? Fill out the below questionnaire to have our vendor partners contact you with free information.

Do you currently have a website?

When you’re deciding how much you want to make, you need to consider industry averages and your experience level. If you’re just starting out with no customer testimonies, you shouldn’t charge as much as someone with five-plus years of experience.

“I think it’s important to be realistic to consider your portfolio and expertise,” said Corri Smith, owner of Black Wednesday. “We charge much more now that we have had a full book of business for four years and have happy clients, testimonials and 100 percent of business coming from referrals.”

2. Determine what the project entails.

Before you throw out any numbers or prices, you need to chat with the business owner to learn about their goals, social media accounts and what they expect from you. Once you have all the information, you can start figuring out your pricing.

“Social media needs vary so much from business to business, as do their goals and expected ROI for social,” Fallon said. “Before I take on a new social media client, I usually set up a discovery call to talk through their vision for their social presence, including how many accounts they have, how often they would like to post, and what types of content they want to see on each channel.”

If clients don’t have an idea for their accounts, Fallon provides a standard base package and will work from there. The base package includes a predetermined number of posts a month. Then businesses can decide if they want to go up or down from there.

3. Charge per project or social account.

As a freelancer, it’s always smart to charge per project, not per hour, because you end up hurting yourself if you become faster and more effective.

“Generally, I charge per project – or, rather, per social account,” said Fallon. “Hourly rates can get messy, especially because that’s so much ‘off the clock’ work that needs to be done with social media (checking notifications, liking/sharing follower content, responding to DMs, etc.).”

When you’re talking with the business before starting the project, you both should be clear about your expectations. If, for some reason, you have to work more or with more urgency than expected, it’s OK to add extra charges – as long as you’re upfront about it.

“We add additional charges when hours go over or when there is a sense of urgency,” said Smith.

4. Do your research.

It’s best practice to constantly do research on your industry, no matter your job or title. However, it’s even more important for freelancers who set their own prices. You should always know industry best practices and how much other social media specialists are charging.

“I talk to everyone I possibly can who does this as a business!” said Fallon. “I’ve also done tons of research on my own to see what bigger agencies charge. That being said, ‘average’ prices can vary a lot. Get as much information as you can from as many sources and individuals as possible.”

Once you decide how much to charge, be sure you set realistic expectations upfront.

“It’s impossible to promise you’ll get them X number of followers or X percent increase in engagement,” Fallon said, “and anyone who says that they can is definitely using shady tactics to do it.”



The end of an era: After 4 years, the finale of #instabeerupCLT is here

The end of an era: After 4 years, the finale of #instabeerupCLT is here

Black Wednesday’s Corri Smith Knows How to Build a Brand… and Throw a Party 

Black Wednesday’s Corri Smith Knows How to Build a Brand… and Throw a Party

The dark genius

By Ryan Pitkin

October 17, 2018

Corri Smith is great at a lot of things, but being goth is not one of them.

She’s got the style down pat, and has even built her business around the goth aesthetic. But as far as personality goes, she’s far from the stereotypical introvert you might expect of a woman who’s built a brand around the darkness.

Smith is well aware that her chipper nature doesn’t exactly mesh with people’s preconceived notions about her.

“It’s almost become like a joke,” she says of her goth identity. “Because I’m super upbeat. Once you meet me you’re just like, ‘Uhhh.'”

Smith’s enthusiasm is contagious, and it’s helped her build her business, multimedia marketing company Black Wednesday, into one of Charlotte’s most recognizable brands.

But why all the black?

Smith says her affinity for the darkness came from a desire to branch out following a childhood defined by stifling conformity. Growing up in Ashville, New York, a hamlet near the border of Pennsylvania with a population that barely surpasses 3,000, Smith says there was never any thought of creating her own style.

“There was nothing where I grew up that would allow you to see anything that was different and/or engage in being different,” she says. “You were just there. There was no outside the box. My family was outside the box because we were Catholic and everyone where I grew up was Methodist. So we were already as far out of the box as we could be in being raised Catholic, and that was it.”

After graduating high school with the same 70 classmates she’d known since kindergarten, Smith attended SUNY Geneseo, where she began finding her own style and accumulating the tattoos that now adorn her arms and legs.

Once she graduated college, she came to the South to escape the brutal winters of southern tier New York, and after working in public relations at the Music Factory for some time, she decided to strike out on her own by founding Black Wednesday. The name is a nod to one of her favorite fictional characters, Wednesday Addams.

Now Smith is preparing to celebrate Halloween with “A Party To Die For,” an exclusive party for Black Wednesday friends and family, and a few lucky Creative Loafing readers, on Oct. 31. We’re giving out two tickets for the party to one CL Twitter follower and another two to one of our Instagram followers. All you have to do is tag us and Black Wednesday’s account in a pic of Smith on this week’s cover and you’ll be entered to win.

Halloween has always been Smith’s favorite time of year, she says, and with the holiday landing on an actual “Black Wednesday” this year, she’s cooking up some special plans for the tarot-themed party — some of which she wouldn’t even let us know about.

Smith says she threw down so hard for the company’s three-year anniversary party in April that folks are expecting her to match the experience.

“I really screwed myself with that party because I had a tattoo artist come and he tattooed anybody who wanted it,” she says. “So I nailed myself to the wall with that party though, because everyone’s like, ‘Oh, so what are you doing for your Halloween party?'”

Smith may throw a great party, but for the most part, she’s all business. She estimates an average workweek to be about 90 hours, and she’s never truly off when it comes to helping build consistent brands for her 25 clients.

But it’s the job she signed up for, and she wouldn’t have it any other way, she says.

“I have people telling me all day long about work-life balance and you should only work ‘X’ hours a day and all this stuff and, ya know, everyone’s different,” Smith says. “As much as I say, ‘Great, enjoy your PTO and your 401K or whatever,’ you should respect that I don’t want those things and that I work like a crazy person and I love every second of it. So the 15-hour days don’t feel like 15 hours.”

Her team of three fulltime workers and three interns covers a lot of ground, including social media, marketing, public relations, event planning, graphic design and more.

When we visit Black Wednesday on a Friday morning, the workplace isn’t as hectic as Smith’s busy schedule might imply. The Black Wednesday brand is in full effect, though, with candles lit throughout the office and a Ouija board sitting on the first table anyone sees when they walk in.

On the wall, a logo portraying the likeness of Wednesday Addams over the word “BLACK” centers the room. Throughout the office, skulls and black flowers adorn shelving units, and a pew from a church gives off gothic vibes. Smith is dressed in a black dress she pulled out specifically for the cover shoot — she even wore pigtails to best honor the namesake of the company.

Though her sense of style is undeniable, Smith contends her appreciation for black came mostly from convenience.

“I really don’t care about clothes, and I can just put on something black and I know it looks good and it translates no matter where I am and I look OK. That’s sort of where it became really easy,” Smith says of the reputation she got as a goth. “So people started to package me as goth. So I was just like, ‘Whatever. If you want to tell people I worship the devil, I don’t really care.’ And I just sort of went with it, and I think I really took ownership in just being different.”

It was brand-building at its best, and that’s what she takes into her work. Smith isn’t just focused on building brands for her clients, she has to make sure the Black Wednesday brand itself stays relevant. She does that through creating trends like the #BlackWednesday hashtag, which followers use when they post pics of themselves decked out in black on Wednesday. She also publishes her own content through the company, including continuous 13-week series like #ItsReallyMeCLT, which showcases the work of 13 different social media managers behind strong brands in the city.

For a past series called 13 Shades of Black, Smith showcased 13 local folks in the fashion industry, featuring a new person each week in a photo shoot all decked out in black, and put them on the local news each week.

It’s a way to highlight people doing things in the community, but also to show off what her business can do for clients.

“The 13-week series came out of, one, our need to tell the Black Wednesday story, but two, we also need to lead by example,” she says. “So if we’re out telling people they need to create stories and create buzz and help people see what they’re about outside of just promoting themselves, then we have to lead by example.”

Evelyn Flores, Black Wednesday’s lead social media manager, has worked at the company for two years. Before that, she was an IT recruiter at a business in Uptown Charlotte. She met Smith when she was featured in one of Black Wednesday’s 13-week series. She was recognized for having one of the city’s best Twitter accounts, which set her up nicely as a favorite for the new position when it opened up.

Flores says her favorite part of the job is seeing the photos from Charlotteans who tag the company in selfies with their black outfits on Wednesdays. She’s recently been taking on more PR work for the company, as a new social media consultant joined the team within the last month. Similar to Smith, she wouldn’t trade her heavy workload for anything, she says.

“I work all the time, but it’s fun work so I don’t really think about it as work, versus before when I was in a super corporate environment,” she says. “It’s just a lot different doing stuff that you actually like to do versus stuff you have to do. I guess the biggest difference is that I’m doing creative things that I wouldn’t have had the chance to do at my recruiting job.”

Flores’ new responsibilities include training the newcomer, Alicia Broughton, who applied for the position after becoming too spread thin at her past job, which included doing social media for many different clients at a PR firm in Charlotte.

She says her first month at Black Wednesday has been a refreshing new start.

“Here I have the opportunity to essentially be the brand, whereas I was not giving everybody 100 percent without working 50 hours a week [at my past job],” Broughton says.

Smith is currently looking to grow the team even further, as she’ll be hiring a part-time administrative assistant. But it’s not all work and no play at Black Wednesday, as Smith prepares for a party to live up to the expectations of her company’s cult-like following.

While she’s still secretive about the one big feature of the party that she hopes will upstage her free tattoos in April, there’s still a shot that you can be there in person to find out.

We’ll see you on social media.



21 Entrepreneurs Explain What They Love About Being An Entrepreneur

21 Entrepreneurs Explain What They Love About Being An Entrepreneur

Being in love is great. Being in love with your business, when you’re an entrepreneur, is even better. Waking up each morning knowing you are getting to do exactly what you love is more than most people could ever say about any “job” they have had. Although there are days when tossing in your hat seems like a viable option, remembering how much you love your “job” can quickly snap an entrepreneur out of that mentality. Different business owners also have different reason why they love their business. It might be the products or the customers they deal with, or it could even be the fact that they are the ones in charge of it all. The reasons are as varied as the businesses themselves.

We asked some entrepreneurs what they loved about “being their own boss.”

#1- Turning passion into career

Photo Credit: Marina Shumaieva

I am a great believer in the life changing-situations. If you have ever thought that you can do something better instead of just everyday routine tasks like “home-office-home”, than you have to be an entrepreneur. Being an entrepreneur is not just about making money for living, being an entrepreneur is the way of life. You can change the world around you by making new cools products, achieving high goals and bringing you crazy-innovative ideas to the real life. I am not saying that it is easy to do, but that is 100%-overwhelming for sure. However, you have also to be lucky enough to turn your passion into a career by working hard, but it is totally worth to try!

Thanks to Marina Shumaieva, CruiseBe, Inc.!

#2- Creating opportunities

Photo Credit: Bryan Jimenez

Having grown up as a troubled and abused minority youth from a low-income neighborhood, with no college degree, I was not given a chance at many of the opportunities I then desired to pursue. I love that being an entrepreneur has allowed me to CREATE new opportunities, not just for myself but also for others like me who were pushed aside by society because we were dealt a less privileged hand in life.

Thanks to Bryan Jimenez, Archimedes Strategic Branding!

#3- The reward and freedom

Photo Credit: Glenn Davis

I love being an entrepreneur! Besides my wish list of being a fighter pilot or an indy-car driver, being an entrepreneur is the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done in the professional world. I love walking between the tension of failure and success every day. I love looking for opportunities and quickly jumping on them. It’s a treasure to structure my day as I best see fit and not by some over-paid manager who hasn’t a clue what success really looks like. Sometimes it seems I could earn more money being employed. But after watching a few rounds of Shark Tank, I realize there is nothing that offers more freedom and reward than being an entrepreneur. This is one field where I’m sure most people have few regrets. If you pursue this field and fail, at least you entered this arena and gave it your best shot. If you pursue this field and succeed, at least you entered this arena and gave it your best shot. If you never pursue this field, you will never know.

Thanks to Glenn Davis, Glenn Davis Consulting!

#4-Freedom of Choice

Photo Credit: Shaan Patel

After thinking about it, what I really value about being an entrepreneur is the freedom of choice you give yourself. What I mean by that is, rather than putting yourself on a career track that is largely predetermined by some outside entity, e.g. taking an entry-level job at a major corporation and hoping to climb the traditional ladder, you elect to carve your own financial path. Ask any serious entrepreneur about the pressures they feel to produce and survive, and they will attest to them openly. But also ask them if they’d rather choose between that and having someone above them dictating the choices they are forced to make for money. I guarantee that everyone would accept the risk wholeheartedly.

Thanks to Shaan Patel, Prep Expert!

#5- Freedom to innovate

Photo Credit: Danny Scott

One of the main things I love about being an entrepreneur and running my own business is the freedom to innovate. Of course, we have a business model at CoinCorner, but being a company ran by the owners means we can make quick decisions on new projects or features we want to explore.

Thanks to Danny Scott, CoinCorner!

#6- Being creative

Photo Credit: Christine Whitmarsh

I’m a creator by nature so my favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is being able to invent things, turn them into products, and sell them – sometimes on the spot! I’ve created quite a few products for authors that way, by looking at the process of writing a book, from idea conception through publishing and then long-term promotion, finding the gaps where authors need help, and then filling them with my inventions. It’s an epic life when you don’t have to ask for permission to be creative for a living!

Thanks to Christine Whitmarsh, The Ink Agency!

#7- The highs and the lows

Photo Credit: Tamara Bunte

Being an entrepreneur is exciting and fun! I wasn’t raised with the entrepreneurial spirit, I had to acquire it. I was raised in the Midwest and the mentality was to work hard and work your way up. My father spent 30 years at the same company and I thought I would do the same. It wasn’t until I was 26 years old and working for Anthony Robbins that I got the entrepreneur bug. I was around all entrepreneurs and I remember a friend of mine, work 80 million telling me, Tamara one day you will understand that it’s the way of your future and your true drive in your profession. She was right! I started my own business at age 28 years and haven’t looked back. The highs are high and the lows can be low but nothing is more gratifying than creating something from nothing!

Thanks to Tamara Bunte

#8- A number of things

Photo Credit: Phaedra Randolph

I love being an entrepreneur because it is an amazingly fulfilling conduit for improving the world in a way that produces tangible and measurable results. I thoroughly enjoy the autonomy, creativity, ownership, innovation, and ideation that comes with navigating uncharted territory and pursuing dreams against numerous odds. I couldn’t think of anything else I’d rather do more with my career. The immense amount of growth–internally and in knowledge and skill set– are also incredibly rewarding.

Thanks to Phaedra Randolph, Spero Foods!

#9- Countless things

Photo Credit: Jitesh Keswani

I believe that a person becomes an entrepreneur by choice and not by force. Personally speaking, I have countless things that I love about my job. Apart from being an entrepreneur, you can be an innovator, having access to the system. Secondly, I have observed, on multiple events, that I had an opportunity to change a lot of people whom I met during conferences and events. At times, a successful business at a young age leaves you as a role model and I love motivating and inspiring young and budding entrepreneurs with my story. Next thing what I love is, I am not bored with my job. Every morning, when I wake up, I want to work, learn and achieve more with new challenges coming up every Monday. Not to forget my job has provided a lot of challenging work and I love finding solutions for. I would like to end with the known quote “with great power comes great responsibilities.

Thanks to Jitesh Keswani, e-intelligence!

#10- Paying my staff

Photo Credit: Emily Rowe

Being an entrepreneur is one of the most rewarding things I’ve chosen to participate in and one of the biggest reasons is my staff. I love the personal flexibility and the actual meat of what we do, but nothing makes me happier than paying my staff. I love that good work is rewarded with pay that supports 5 other strong women (and one man!). Call me an old-fashioned American but I am beyond proud to help put food on the table of a staff that works hard to earn it. If you can deal with long hours, weekend work, and very few days off, entrepreneurship has so many unexpected upsides that will make you and your team proud to build services and deliver end products that generate referrals.

Thanks to Emily Rowe, Social Sensei!

#11- Implementing ideas instantly

Photo Credit: Mark Solomon

Having a great idea and being able to just go and do it, that day, without being held back by the bureaucracy and restrictions that are often in place in a large corporate. When you run your own start-up you have the advantage of being able to react faster, and this is a big advantage in an ever faster changing world.

Thanks to Mark Solomon,!

#12-Having a huge motivation and purpose when waking up!

Photo Credit: CBS WIRE

I think this is the best thing about being the CEO. You can dream about your business while sleeping and it makes you extremely happy about it. Your business turns into your lifestyle and hobby. It defines you as a person and this is the kind of motivation that gives me not only happiness, but also a self-fulfillment and meaning in what I do. In my case it is – to bring back bargaining power to the buyers and letting companies compete for our hard-earned money! People say that my job is a huge responsibility, so stressful… – and yes, it is very hectic most of the time, a busy schedule and numerous tasks. But all of it is compensated by those small milestones that your business achieves, step by step into something great. You see that your own effort paid off and that’s where I get a purpose waking up every morning as a CEO!

Thanks to Paulius Vegele, RVLhub!

#13-I love the constant learning and growing

Photo Credit: Elena Ledoux

After years of studying for my Master’s Degree and then law degree and working in a challenging field of litigation, I thought I’ve done a lot of learning. However, it doesn’t compare to the amount of learning I had to do in my role as an entrepreneur. I’ve been recommending all the young people I know to start a business as it’s an amazing education.

Thanks to Elena Ledoux, Chief Mommy!

#14- Fulfillment and impact

Photo Credit: Megan Carty Art

Aside from the glorious freedom of using my time how I see fit, I really enjoy the ability to decide what sort of impact I want to have on the lives of others. I get to carry my own authentic mission forward through my work and hope it inspires others in the process. I never had that same personal investment when I was working for a separate corporate entity. Now, I am excited to take on new challenges to learn and grow every day as my business grows with me. I’m fueled by the idea that it’s about more than just myself; it’s about the people I’m serving and inspiring with my art. My work has become more meaningful and I feel more fulfilled than ever.

Thanks to Megan Carty

#15- The feeling of complete potentiality

Photo Credit: Melissa DeMayo

What I love about being an entrepreneur is having the freedom and flexibility to try new things, test out new ideas, collaborate on projects with other people in my industry and just have that feeling of complete potentiality. Of course, I experience some amount of pressure from day to day responsibilities, but by deliberately choosing how I spend my day and who I surround myself with, any stress is really of my own making and that pushes me to grow. The sky is the limit really, as an entrepreneur.

Thanks to Melissa DeMayo, Digital House Creative!

#16- Everyday is different

Photo Credit: Fiona Gilbert

I’ve run my own businesses for the past 20 years. There is nothing quite like it. There are no ordinary days, there are no average days. You would think after 20 years and in different industries, there will just be a normal day, but every day is different. Not all of them are great, not all of them are fun. There are decisions you make that have impact not just in your life but in the lives of people who work for and with you. However, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Thanks to Fiona Gilbert

#17- The limits it eliminates

Photo Credit: Corri Smith

My favorite thing about being an entrepreneur is the limits it eliminates. There is literally no ceiling. You can always do more, be more, earn more, learn more, grow more, create more and even be more creative. There is so much opportunity and it’s all on me to make it happen. There is something so terrifying and exhilarating to be in this position; it’s like a runaway rollercoaster that never returns to let me off. I don’t sleep and I don’t care. I work 18 hour days and I don’t mind. It’s liberating and exhausting. It’s amazing and terrible, and all at the same time.

Thanks to Corri Smith, Black Wednesday!

#18- I get to own 100% of the failure

Photo Credit: Thomas Carnevale

When I first became an entrepreneur (23 years old) I did quite a bit of finger pointing when a situation went wrong or we lost a client. I would blame an employee for making a mistake, think the customer was being unreasonable or call into question the integrity of the situation on a whole. I’ve always been a rule challenger by nature but early on in my small business owner’s journey I didn’t see that owning the Failure is the most positive tool you can have as an entrepreneur. Now when I fail (I just lost a major client last week) I have the opportunity to post-mortem really evaluate the decisions I made that led-up to the end-result and put real action into making the next situation a success.

Thanks to Thomas Carnevale, Umbrella Technologies!

#19- Letting go

Photo Credit: Shiwali Varshney

Being and Entrepreneur has been an exercise in letting go. Letting go of long held beliefs. Being a CFO turned entrepreneur in food and beverage sector, I used to think I was not a marketer, I have become one. I used to think that I can only write in bullet points, I have learnt to write prose. I used to think I cannot be a spokesperson for my brand, and here I am, with my photo on the website and the boxes. It has been a super learning experience and I get nervous each day and each day I tackle something that I thought I could never do.

Thanks to Shiwali Varshney, Conure, LLC!

#20- Doing a dozen of things

Photo Credit: Michael Sitver

Too often, jobs today require you to specialize. You’re expected to sit at a desk for eight hours a day doing the same thing. It’s not healthy. My favorite thing about running Letterjoy is that every day I get to do a dozen things. Today I wrote code, answered customers, assisted team members in refining our production process, and researched historical letters. I did it while walking around, in an environment that I enjoy. There’s no other job in the world where I get to work on so many different things in one day in such a comfortable setting.

Thanks to Michael Sitver, Letterjoy!

#21- Being in charge

As an entrepreneur, I feel like I’m playing a higher stakes game than I ever have before. Every significant business decision that presents itself makes me pause and every move I make feels like going all in. I never know what’s around the next corner, but that’s exactly why I love doing what I do. I love having the chance to direct myself towards massive success or  tremendous failure instead of letting someone else steer the ship.

Thanks to Eric Johnson, The Wedding Collective!



7 Benefits Of Working With A Digital Agency Vs In-House Team

7 Benefits Of Working With A Digital Agency Vs In-House Team


October 9, 2018

Social media is no longer a simple game. For anyone. We’ve been saying this for a while, after all, it’s why we started Planable. Because it’s no longer about one person pushing pretty pictures on Facebook. It’s a team effort that can sometimes make or break companies.

Lots of companies are failing on social media due to multiple reasons, like

  • Not developing a strategy from the very beginning

  • Posting random posts with no purpose
  • Have no clear goals in mind
  • Spending time on counting likes & comments instead of working on better content
  • Working hard, but aiming in the dark without a clear audience targeting
  • Spamming all over the internet
  • Buying followers
  • Automating social media

That is why slowly but surely every business reaches the conclusion that social media has to be managed by a team – internally or externally. Which is where the dilemma comes in.

Digital Agency, or in-house?

The truth is that there’s no universal true answer. The choice depends on each particular case.

When analyzing what’s best for you, you’ll have to answer a few basic questions

  • Can you maintain your social media presence yourself?

  • How much time do you have to manage social media?
  • How much are you ready to spend on social media?
  • What are your social media needs?
  • Have you given social media marketing an honest effort?
  • What do you expect to gain from a strong social media presence?

These answers should come in easily.

Think about budgets, people management, expertise and time spent.

To ease your decision-process, I’ve talked with 9 professionals, all of whom are or have been in the past employees, freelancers, and social media agencies.

Again, I stress on the fact that both agency and an in-house team will always work, what’s important is what’s more time efficient and money-wise better for you. Stepping up your social media game.

Make sure to get a thorough portfolio and proposal from the agency or candidates to make sure they know what they are doing – have a plan of action, understand social media marketing as it relates to your industry and know the best ways to optimize your social media marketing efforts” says Samantha Savory at Savory PR.

Why Should You Hire a Digital Agency To Manage Your Social Media Efforts

An agency can jump right into the social media conversation and start building your brand, as they’ve already seen thousands of companies like you and know the best way to start.

Agencies will easily get on your side with expertise and no need for training. Instead of starting the hiring process for an employee in the team – waiting for CVs, organizing interview, onboarding the first 3 months, talking to HR and managing fees is a full hassle. In-house teams may even cost you much more than getting someone from the outside to fully help you.” Corri from Black Wednesday

A new vision of your brand

Agencies will always have a fresh view. They come with a new perspective and it might be an amazing chance to get new ideas. It will help you expand the vision and opportunities for your own brand by creating new digital campaigns, brand engagement events, and increasing visibility on social media.

Time efficient

Agencies have more knowledge of how to use social media to accomplish clear marketing goals, but employees have more knowledge about the company. In terms of time, it’s always more efficient to hire an external agency. Employees training and turnover becomes the organizations’ additional responsibility to keep the social media savvy.

Sometimes, employees feel overwhelmed with too many tasks whereas a social media agency is more results-oriented and even incorporate the required resources and tools in bulk to complete the daily track. Moreover, the agency’s consistent experience with versatile projects assists in implementing newer ways to a brand’s social media marketing.

Less hassle, more work

“Hire a freelancer or agency. You don’t have to invest in a workstation or go through the tedious HR process. The fee that you are going to pay a freelancer or agency would be a lot cheaper than what you are going to pay an in-house team. This will be the ideal preference for small businesses or start-ups.” Savitha, from Tacitkey.


It depends a lot on what you’re ready to spend, if it’s less than $1500 / month then it’s a freelancer. If you’re looking for a budget between $1500 and $5000 / month – it’s an agency or in-house team. Also, if you’re ready to spend more than $5000 / month on your social media efforts, then getting both employee and an agency will help you make sure everyone is on the same page.

As about the pricing for agencies & freelancers, you may find the following depending on the region you’re in:

  • Starting (0-3 years experience): $15-$50/hr
  • Intermediate (3-5 years experience): $50-$100/hr
  • Expert (5-10+ years experience): $120+/hr

If you opt to go hourly, newer social media freelancer rates can hover around $15-$50 per hour. For more intermediate social media marketers, they can make $50-100 per hour. And an experienced social media manager can make $120+ or much higher.

On the other side when asking what’s better money-wise

“In my opinion, 90% of small to medium-sized businesses that choose to do things in-house or with a freelancer to save money actually end up losing money. Marketing is a service that, when done properly, will have huge marginal impacts on your KPIs. It’s common for business owners to say that they can’t afford an agency to do the work. The reality is, they can’t afford to not hire an agency. Spending an extra 50% to get the job done by great talent will save you much more money than the marginal cost, so long as you have a decent-sized budget.” Stacy Caprio

It’s hard to think that just one person will manage all your social media channels at the same time and also be time efficient. With all that responsibility you’ll probably want to pay them up to $45k – $50k. Now the more you need, the more you have to give. Based on 103 responses from LinkedIn members, the average salary for a social media strategist is $59,000 per year. Hiring a wrong person that won’t help your brand may cost you a big mistake. That’s why agencies are more beneficial for your brand.

Team effort

“Facebook marketing is a channel, not a strategy. The most important thing is to understand that no one person can have every skill necessary for online advertising. Some may claim it, but that is a big sign that maybe they don’t know what they are doing.” says Brandon Bateman.

Agencies have a team of experts and professionals ready to help right away with expertise in fields such as copywriting, design, social media management, analytics, data tracking, and performance optimization. It’s hard to find one employee that will do all of it.

Expert level

I’ve spoken to Tracy Julien to find out more about what’s better in terms of expertise? Let’s see what she has to say.

“Using an agency who specializes in social media and digital marketing can make life much easier. Let experts focus on what they do best. If your business is finance based, your main priority should be to grow that part of the company. The social media/digital marketing side can help give your company the boost it needs. If you have the budget to outsource social media/digital marketing, I highly suggest it!”

“If you are a decision maker, the number one recommendation I have is to invest. Invest the funds, the time, and the team in your social media efforts—and that goes for whether you hire inside the company or out. For companies just getting their feet wet, I would recommend either hiring an experienced agency or in-house team. Don’t choose to spend $30k per year on an inexperienced intern instead of spending $60k on an agency. You might spend less up front, but chances are the money you do spend will be wasted rather than an investment.And if you hire an agency and by working with them closely to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth – you’ll have the best chance at success.” comments further Sarah Greeley.

Result oriented

Now, if you care about the results – hire a digital agency, says Xavier from Medspa Advertising.

“Let’s see for comparison, for $3K a month, you can get some of the top social media marketing firms (our agency fee is approx that), and my experience includes growing an audience of over 50M on social media. For $3K in LA, you’ll get an entry-level employee whose social media experiences comprises of them running their “insta” and thinking about their “Aesthetic”. As about things like social media posting and replying to DMs, that can be managed by an in-house employee.”

However, if you want results i.e. sales, you should hire an expert. Agencies spend dozens on software and ads in their niche to understand what works or doesn’t. Agencies are actively tracking results to make sure their clients are making money. Pressuring an employee to complete all the tasks with a quick deadline may end badly. The work will be poor or the employee will be interested in joining other opportunities. Not being able to publish the right content at the right time may turn out as a missed opportunity. Agencies are often motivated by success stories and want to be recommended by their clients.

Questions to Ask When Looking for a Digital Agency?

When looking for a social media agency or freelancer, it’s best to ask them a series of questions to understand what’s their biggest value. I would suggest the following

  • What does your agency specialize in? You’re looking for something specific
  • Who will be working on the account? Find out more about the team and how many people will take care of your account. Ideally, you want to have an account director who will be your go-to person and also experts on creative, management, copywriting etc.
  • What will you focus on in developing the social media strategy? You want to understand what’s their plan for next 3, 6 or 12 months.
  • What do you think other companies do well on social media? Find out more about what are their recommendations and directions they want to take.
  • What social media platforms should we be on?
  • What are you using to measure data? You want to understand the workflow, process, and tools.
  • What campaign(s) are you most proud of? Agency will show their portfolio and best client.

Freelancers – Alternative of Agencies

Let’s examine the case of a freelancer vs hiring an agency. When speaking about freelancers, you have the following benefits:

  1. They are efficient and advanced in their tactics and know what

  2. Freelancers adapt to your brand’s own personality, or help leads you to find your own style.
  3. Have experience in your industry
  4. Understand the nuances, and may even find reciprocal partners

I like what Joe Robinson says in the end.

“A social media freelancer can either be a huge boost for your brand if they know what they’re doing – or a big time and money sink. Vet and interview them just like you’d hire a full-time employee, and pick the best one possible for you!”

If you need more heavy work to be done and have dozens of ideas or campaigns to execute – I believe an agency is your best bet. With an agency, you’re working with a professional team that already has a process in place. Workload will be distributed and can be done ultra efficiently with high quality. Whereas a single freelancer may burnout or face an overwhelming workflow.

Freelancers are a good option for small businesses that don’t have a lot of funds or won’t rely heavily on SMM. Some of them are very experienced and provide great results. Working as a freelancer, I had great success with a lot of my clients. There were, however, some clients that I didn’t have as much success with: clients that didn’t have it together. It is important to note that a freelancer may have a skill, but the skill that they have fits into your overall marketing strategy.

The truth is that an agency comes with a lot of advantages. But keep in mind that plenty of companies choose to go with an internal team. The reasoning is usually that an employee might be easier to manage because they’ll be in the same office. This will allow them to jump in every opportunity to make great social media content: more real-time, more relevant. They’re also more committed to the brand and the company’s goals.

And one final counter-argument:

“Social media is the voice of the company – it’s part of a company’s brand. You don’t want to outsource that.You want someone internally who really understands how the company works and speaks. Employees may also be easier to manage because they’re here in the office next to the other teammates. With social media you need to be fast and agile, engage with customers directly and that speed comes only when there’s a war room in your company of actually someone doing this day to day.” says Sid Sibharath.

That’s a wrap. I hope these pieces of advice will help you decide on what your company needs and what the best choice is to make social media marketing great.One last piece of advice, internally or externally – a team needs an efficient workflow and a visual way to plan social media, so make sure you provide that through Planable.