For many entrepreneurs and small businesses, social media can be an absolute game-changer! All it takes is one viral post BAM, you’re exposed to millions.
At Like A Voss Social Media, we’re highlighting local female entrepreneurs who are killing the online game. This week’s spotlight is on Anna Ruck, the mind behind the magic of STRUCKBLOG.com!
Anna started STRUCKBLOG.com just over 5 years ago on a complete whim. She was feeling uninspired, lost, and unsure of which direction to go in. But, instead of fixating on what was missing, she opted to direct her attention towards the things that inspired and struck her. By focusing on her passions and sharing them on the blog, she was able to infuse her life with the elements she felt were previously lacking while connecting with others she hoped would be able to relate to her journey in some way.
Now, she has built an online community with a reach of approximately 50 thousand with others who similarly endeavor to create fullness in their lives. She shares what strikes her, creating content on the topics of fashion, travel, beauty, food, and most recently, motherhood. Over the years she has worked with national and international brands including Procter & Gamble Canada, Reebok Canada, and McDonald’s Canada, to name a few.
Anna also worked to further develop her knowledge of marketing that she initially gained through post-secondary education. “I saw my blog as a space where I could test out creative ideas and digital marketing campaigns to further advance my skill set”. After working on her blog and in digital marketing for a few years, she began offering promotional, content photography, freelance writing, and social media/influencer consulting services to brands and business owners under the STRUCKBLOG brand. “Collaborating with business owners and other creatives is hands down the best part of my job”.
Our CEO Mandi interviewed Anna about her secret to success in business and in life. We also got some awesome insights into what she thinks makes social media such an effective tool in business.
A Little Bit About Being a Female Entrepreneur
1: How long have you been a FT blogger?
Not very long! I only started doing this full-time when I went off on maternity leave. I’m always working when I’m not changing diapers! Before that I worked in digital communications at Queen’s University where my job responsibilities included fulfilling communications plans, social media content creation and management, and the daily upkeep and maintenance of two university websites. I loved it because it required a similar skill set to work as a blogger and allowed me to continue to advance my digital marketing expertise.
2: What made you decide to start your blog?
I started the blog because I felt uninspired by the day-to-day grind. I was teaching at the time, and although I loved educating little ones I felt as though the only opportunity I had to be creative was at the craft table surrounded by 4 and 5-year olds. I randomly sat down one day and started to vent, via furious typing on the keyboard. I felt so much better throwing myself into writing. But it still wasn’t enough. I wondered if other 20-somethings felt similarly, lost and confused about their personal journey. I yearned for that human connectivity. So, I went on YouTube, figured out how to make a website, and published my writing in hopes that I would find them or that they would find me.
When I started, I was unsure of what to pursue, who I was, and what I was good at. But the more I shared, the more my blog became a space where I could just create and focus on the things that brought me joy and made me feel excited. It brought me focus, helped me to figure out my strengths and interests while developing my knowledge. Before I knew it, I had created a community. What’s truly amazing is that some of the same people who were the first to connect with me still follow me today. I feel like I have virtual friends all over the planet!
3: What do you love most about being a female entrepreneur?
I love that as a female entrepreneur I have a platform through which I can share voices and messages that I feel should be seen and heard. I mean, in real life I’m a pretty loud person. But I don’t just mean my own voice, I mean those of other female leaders and creatives.
Being a female entrepreneur can be tough because it’s so often trivialized. I hate labels such as #bossbabe and #girlboss because they don’t celebrate female business leaders for their accomplishments. Instead, they make them sound like cute t-shirt slogans. I feel it’s my responsibility as a female business owner with a platform to share the powerful messages. As female entrepreneurs, we have to make ripples that create waves. We have to live community vs. competition (not just say it or use the hashtag) and share those who inspire to amplify their voices. When that actually happens, when women actually practice this in an authentic way, we can make major changes and shifts in society. I’ve seen it happen. Social media is incredibly powerful that way.
4: What is the hardest thing you have had to overcome as a female entrepreneur? Something you did not foresee when you decided to start?
I never expected this blog to become a business. I feel as though that’s more popular nowadays, but back when I started professional influencers and bloggers were a totally novel thing. I didn’t set out to become an “influencer” and still feel weird using that term. I didn’t start a blog to make money, I worked hard to get here, and it took me years to make a single cent. I still have my first cheque mounted in my office!
What’s hard is that others don’t always see me as a small business (and I mean small, it’s just me wearing all the hats). They don’t understand what it is that I do and that I make a living doing it. There’s a lot of misinformation out there about bloggers and influencers. People perpetuate the idea that it’s just some creative hobby and make it sound frivolous, largely because they don’t know how much work goes into it or how to be successful at it.
Working as a blogger requires an expansive skillset. I’ve learned everything from web design to photography, to video editing, graphic design, to SEO, etc. The list goes on and on, and I’m always adding to it. Sometimes I feel as though I’m swimming upstream when I explain to others that I charge for my work and can’t buy groceries with a $15 necklace (regardless of how lovely it is). I’m no longer in a place where I’m working for exposure or experience alone. You’re paying for years of dedication, skills I’ve worked tirelessly to attain, and access to a community I’ve developed a trusted rapport with. It’s invaluable! If it were easy to get to where I am today, you’d do it yourself.
5: What is one thing about being a blogger/influencer that people would be surprised to learn?
I think people are very surprised to learn about the amount of dedication and time it takes to become a professional blogger and influencer; it’s so often just seen as just a hobby. And although it is for some, as a professional I didn’t follow a blog post I found on Pinterest about “how to make money blogging” and get here overnight. It’s taken years of consistent work, learning, and creativity to arrive here. Over the past 5 years, there hasn’t been more than a handful of days where I haven’t worked on something related to STRUCKBLOG.com. It’s a daily commitment, it’s always on my mind.
I also think there is a lack of knowledge about how influencer marketing works. How do brands find me? Collaborate with me? Compensate me? I try to be extremely transparent about these relationships because the trust I’ve worked so hard to develop with my community is paramount. This is also why I started to offer social media/influencer consulting services, because so many small businesses want to work with influencers like myself but have no idea where to start. Aside from what you see online, my work involves negotiating contracts with local and international brands, pitching collaborations, writing invoices, and analyzing analytics. It’s fun to use my knowledge and experience to help other small businesses (who may not be able to afford PR representation) dive into influencer marketing.
And Now Onto The Social Media Questions!
6: Do you have a favorite social media platform? Why?
I have a love-hate relationship with Instagram. I love it because it’s where I’ve been able to establish my largest engaged community. I’ve made friends in real life from the platform and have virtual relationships all over the world. My husband laughs because I’ll tell him about my mom friend in Florida or about the beautiful island my travel blogger friend visited. But Instagram is not what it used to be. When I first started posting it was a lot less algorithm and much simpler to grow and see the content you wanted to see. Now it can feel like a game, inauthentic and overly curated. Instagram has changed but it’s still my favourite platform. It’s a matter of learning to balance eye-catching content and raw authenticity. I of course also have Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, which serve their purpose, but posting on there can sometimes feel as though you’re standing on a soapbox shouting “engage with my content!” They just don’t elicit conversation and foster community in the same way as Instagram does. I love Instagram because the structure allows for meaningful connections between users.
7: What made you decide to start using social media as a way to promote your company?
Website traffic! Creating and managing a blog or website is arguably integral to running a business, but social media is a prime tool for directing people there. I started using social media for my blog so I could find my tribe. The people that I hoped could relate to my story or who had lived similar experiences. Without it, I wouldn’t have the community I do today. It’s what has connected me to my audience. Posting regularly to social media platforms and creating consistent content acts as a tether between you, your community, and your potential customers/clients.
8: How has social media impacted your business? Would you say that it’s an effective marketing tool?
I just chuckled a little when reading this question because I’m not sure my readership would exist if not for social media. No joke! Social media makes up for a third of my total website traffic. That’s huge! It’s extremely important and powerful, and that’s why I love talking about it in my social media/influencer consulting work. My reach and following are one of the first pieces of analytical information that prospective clients review when considering working with me. So, when I hear someone say that the numbers don’t matter, I know there is a lack of understanding there about how to effectively use social media as a marketing tool.
More than that, it’s where I’ve gotten to know my readers, and where they’ve gotten to know me. It’s helped me to learn what content they find interesting, what information they need, what struggles we share. You must understand who your target audience is and what is it that they’re looking for if you want to be successful.
9: What advice would you give to other budding entrepreneurs, bloggers, or influencers who want to use social media as a way to make a living?
I think if you desire to be any of those things, a blogger, influencer, or entrepreneur of any kind, it would be misguided to not use social media as part of your overall digital marketing strategy. It’s such a dynamic tool for connectivity and it allows you to get to know your potential clients better, and for them to know you. There’s no other marketing tool like it.
If you specifically want to become a blogger/influencer, I would caution you to take your time! I know it’s tempting to jump right in, slap the title on your social media profiles, and hope those brand deals come rolling in, but be careful! These days there are lots of shady brands out there taking advantage of those who are just starting out and will ask you to do more than your fair share. Don’t forget your value or why you started. Take time to find your niche, your audience, and build the necessary skill set to produce work you can be proud of. Becoming a successful blogger and influencer is a long-term commitment. Do your research (I have a few posts about blogging and social media on my website) and make sure it’s the right move for you before you start.
A Little More About Anna
Fun facts about me?
Well, I don’t drink coffee, I’m a tea drinker. If you see me drinking coffee, my one-year-old son must have kept me up that night.
I hate horror films and absolutely refuse to watch them. No thank you!
One time a pigeon pooped directly on my head as I walked down the sidewalk in Toronto. I was headed to a fancy event, it was great timing.
I spoke Polish before I learned English because I’m a first-generation Canadian.
I love to travel and have visited many countries, but one of the coolest things I’ve ever done was volunteer with Habitat for Humanity to build a house in Romania. That experience will stick with me forever.
I hate the word moist. Sounds so gross!
Connect with Anna
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Do you know a female entrepreneur who loves social media as much as we do? Contact us today – we’d love to tell her story!