Denali: Hello and welcome to the Creators and Experts podcast. Today we have Kate Herman, a social media manager with tens of thousands of followers across TikTok and Instagram. She helps coach small businesses and individuals to better provide content for themselves to grow. So, without further ado, welcome, Kate.
Kate: Hi, Denali. Thank you so much for having me today!
Denali: Thank you for joining us! A great way to start out, which I think really covers a lot of bases, is how did you get started creating content?
Kate: So, I actually started in 2018 when I just moved to the US. I'm from Belarus and I was an international student. It was a big move for me to move to another country, and I wanted to have a hobby that could also help me with my communication and personal skills. I started on Instagram originally because TikTok wasn't as popular yet.
I started creating on Instagram, exploring what I liked to do, what I was enjoying, and how the audience responded. That was the beginning, and it was actually a completely different topic from what I have now. My original Instagram page was about education, and I was just sharing my tips as an international student.
Denali: Wonderful! How long did it take you to view TikTok or Instagram or other social media as a potential income source, rather than an expansion of your skills and everything?
Kate: I don't remember exactly, but it was around four to five months when people started to ask me for consultation and advice. In the beginning, of course, I saw that other people were doing some kind of courses and making money. But, I did not have any business background, and I was just starting on social media. Prior to this, it was also my personal hangup that I wasn't feeling very comfortable on the camera.
I didn't like my photos or videos. So, you can imagine I had to overcome my personal fear to be on social media, and that was my primary goal to start creating content, to create some page on Instagram, and to share my life. But in the back of my head, I knew that people were making money, so there could be an opportunity.
However, I did not view it as my potential career, and I wasn't thinking that I could make hundreds or thousands of dollars. Eventually, it happened, but as I said, it took me four or five months to get the first income from my Instagram.
Denali: During that time, did you face any hurdles or challenges that you had to overcome?
Kate: It was mainly a personal issue for me, as I didn't know how to create content, and I didn't like myself in photos or videos, as I mentioned. So, it was mostly about exploring and overcoming my personal fears and discomfort in front of people.
Denali: That makes sense. I think it's really helpful, especially for other creators starting in this space. I think it's underplayed how much of it is about learning the space and gaining confidence. So, do you have any strategies that were able to help you overcome those hurdles?
Kate: I don't have any specific strategy to overcome this personal fear, but I would say it's important to take a lot of time and effort to try, and expect, to fail. I suggest having low expectations because, in the beginning, the content always sucks. No one is perfect at the beginning.
The way to become really great at something is through a lot of practice. Eventually, you need to create a lot of content, and after some time, you will see progress. When I look at my photos and videos from two years ago, I think they are horrible, but they worked, and people bought from me. In five years, when I look at my current TikTok, I will probably be shocked and won't like it. But it's always about progress.
As for a more specific strategy, I suggest starting from the end goal. Creating content, especially at the beginning, can be overwhelming, especially for people who view it as a business and want to make money eventually. Starting from the end goal means understanding what you want to accomplish.
Usually, when people come to me and want to work with me, I ask them what their goal is. They usually start with "I just want to get followers," but that's not the end goal. The end goal is to make something out of it, like a business or make money.
So, understanding the end goal will help you build your strategy and plan. For example, if I have a client call, I think about what kind of people will be interested in their content, and then I understand my audience. Then, I create content for that end goal, which eliminates thousands of other options that you can do with your social media.
This approach is helpful, especially at the beginning when you're overwhelmed and have too many ideas. By focusing on serving your end goal and creating content for it, you will get there much quicker than just trying a bunch of things.
Denali: That makes sense. I think I've seen some of your posts across TikTok, where you talk about how having the idea of wanting to create a viral video to get followers is not quite specific enough. You need to really have more of a pointed strategy and that makes a lot of sense to me. I think that's a great way of looking at it. So, I think this might transition pretty well, do you have any next projects you want to talk about?
Kate: So, now the biggest project that I'm preparing to launch, and it's in its middle stages, some pieces are already out, is my hub with Kahana.
I'm really excited about this opportunity because I was looking for a platform like this that can host this kind of content in a way that works like a subscription and all this.
It's basically a hub where I will be putting a lot of content ideas and content suggestions, including trending sounds, and different trends that you can see on TikTok, for creators and business owners who want to save time and just get these ideas and just go and create their own content. Because, as I said, creating content can be overwhelming.
TikTok Trends Hub by Kate.Instates
Struggling to come up with content ideas and can't grow your TikTok account? Welcome to the TikTok Content Hub! Here you'll find weekly TikTok trending sounds, content ideas, and a content strategy guide.
There is a lot of stuff around, but I already have best practices that I've created for my clients, and for myself, and I just put it out there so people can reuse it for themselves. That's my big goal right now.
Another thing, after working with my new clients for the past six months, I saw that there is a trend that has become my mission. I'm trying to build the system the way I work with my clients, so they don't need to spend 10 hours a week to record content.
They could spend like two hours or even less to record content, and then from this content, I can create like 60 posts, 90 posts per month for them so that they have a lot of content, and they don't spend a lot of time. This way they can eventually focus on things that matter in their business; you know?
So, this is my mission to create some kind of strategy and approach to save time for people to create content and still enjoy it and have results.
Denali: That's wonderful. That seems like a really good bridge, I think, for a lot of people. It almost seems inaccessible to be in the space because of how broad it is, and I think you're doing great work to kind of bring it together, make it a lot more accessible, a lot more achievable, which I think is wonderful, and pairs well with a lot of what Kahana is trying to accomplish. So, I think it's a pretty good fit to have the Hub there and be able to build out from there.
So, I think one kind of follow-up question I have, and it's a little bit of a deviation here, but I saw in a lot of your posts that you talk about how it's important to have high-demand, kind of niche content, as opposed to having this general, super-broad content. Is there any sort of tips you might have for finding a niche, because I think a lot of creators agree about the importance but might struggle to find their niche?
Kate: That's a great question. I know many people struggle with this, and I have a couple suggestions. So, the first one is I said start from the end goal, and one thing to look at the niche is, what are you trying to accomplish with social media? And for some people, it will be like making money.
Okay, if you want to make money, the best way to make money is to sell your services, your product, and teach something, right? So, then do you have knowledge for this, right? And when you go backward, you can see “okay,” this can be my niche where I have the knowledge, I have the expertise, and I can create content around this, right?
Another thing, if you are not a coach, you don't have knowledge, and you are not even a business owner, again, think about the end goal, what you want to accomplish.
Do you want to work with friends, or do you want to share your vision about a very specific part of your life? For example, you are a vegetarian, and you like yoga, and you like some other stuff, and you want people to follow your vision. So, this can be a niche too.
And another thing that I really like is when a person has a very specific niche because it actually gives you a lot of opportunities to create content in this niche but from different perspectives, and it will help you to stand out.
I would suggest someone to think about what is unique about their life or what you do because many of us, frankly, have a very, very ordinary life, like myself too. And so, creating a social media about life can be very difficult just because it's pretty ordinary about 90% of the time unless you travel every week somewhere, right?
So, in this situation, I would suggest considering what is like one little part about your life or about your vision of life, about your interests that make you unique, and very often the majority of us have things, right? Someone might have like again very ordinary life, but they may be very good at games and video games, so you can create content about this.
Or maybe they have an amazing dog, and they project a lot of personality on their dog, and they can create content about their dog, right? Or maybe they are really good at some hobby like photography, painting, whatever, right? Or maybe they are really good at organizing things. So, trying to find something unique about themselves will eventually help them to stand out.
Denali: That's awesome, and I think it's a really good way for a lot of new creators to plan their direction a little bit, starting with that end goal in mind. So, I think this last question I've got for you is always a really fun question, and it's: what makes you most excited about creating? Just generally, what brings that kind of spark to your creative energy?
Kate: You're in social media as a business and making money, and I like to be very honest about this. Still, the most exciting part is to find new things over and over again.
So, when I started TikTok, my videos were created one way, and now I'm doing them completely differently, and I see this always for my clients too. So, the exciting thing is just trying new things and exploring what I can do, what I can accomplish with social media, how I'm going to feel about this.
I find it interesting that you also build within your community there and learn how people are going to respond. So, this content creativity and exploration is the exciting part for me.
Denali: Wonderful, I think that covers most of the questions I want to get at. I find a lot of your answers really helpful, especially for people that sometimes feel a little alone in the creative space because a lot of times, you're working by yourself or with one or two other people, and it makes you feel like, "Oh, I might be the only one having these struggles."
So, I think as you share some helpful tips, it's super beneficial for the rest of the creator community and everything. So, I want to thank you for your time. I really appreciate it! Is there anything else you wanted to mention before we close out here?
Kate: I just really like your point that you said that you sometimes feel alone, and you think that you are the only one who struggles with this. And the thing about social media is that we put out maybe like 10% of really what's going on in our life, and everyone is struggling, and it's not really fun, and it's not popular to talk about your struggle.
So, if you're struggling, just know that everyone is struggling, especially successful creators, and successful people. They went through a lot, for example, the more successful, the more problems you had to overcome. It is completely normal to have problems, to struggle, and just like go ahead, create content, try as much as you can, take it seriously because if you take it seriously, it really can change your life, and it really can bring some exciting opportunities and people in your life.
But yeah, that would be my last remark, I would say. And thank you so much for this opportunity. Really looking forward to seeing this podcast online.
Denali: Definitely, and I'm excited to have your hub come up and have people start subscribing to it. I think it's going to be a great success. Thank you so much, Kate.
Kate: Thank you!