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Ep. 173: SMALL FOLLOWING? NO PROBLEM, HOW TO MAKE MONEY WITH LESS THAN A THOUSAND FOLLOWERS WITH ELISE DARMA AND BROW AND LASH BUSINESS COACH SHEILA BELLA

  

What if I told you that you could still make money even with less than 1K followers on Instagram?!

     

 

I know! It sounds too good to be true!

But I'm telling you right now, girl. It's the truth. And to prove it I brought on my friend, Instagram Expert, Elise Darma. Every day Elisa helps online entrepreneurs with small followings build their dream businesses - and that's not helping them gain more followers and likes. No, it's the real ish. She's helping them make real $$$ with the followers they already have.

Want to know how you can start making money with the followers you have right now? Then this episode's for you!

 

 

Here are the episode highlights:

‣‣  [06:19]  Kicking off the podcast in my favorite way: a rapid fire get-to-know-you with Elise!

‣‣  [13:56]  I want to dive right into the good stuff: can people really make money from Instagram if you have less than 1K followers? Is that real?

‣‣  [16:50]  How do you build a business with such few followers?

‣‣  [19:08]  Why are personal relationships so important on Instagram?

‣‣  [22:49]  What's the one social media habit that divides the haves and the have-nots?

‣‣  [26:27]  How do you know what content is going to hit the mark with your audience?

‣‣  [28:08]  What is the biggest mistake that you see new online entrepreneurs make?

‣‣  [32:13]  Elise shares her ideal type of client or student.

‣‣  [37:13]  Hiring is a scary process for a lot of people; whether it's their first hire or their 100th. Here I ask Elise when she realized she needed to hire help and what that process was like for her.

‣‣  [42:45]  Elise gives her advice for anyone trying to grow their business as an Instagram marketer and team leader.

‣‣  [46:14]  What is Elise's advice for how to live a pretty rich life?

 

 

I'M READY TO MAKE $$$ ON INSTAGRAM!! (Listen Here) 

Elise is amazing! I'm so glad I got to have her on the podcast to share all of her insight! Follow her on Instagram for more great tips @elisedarma 

You can follow me, Sheila Bella, on Instagram @realsheilabella!

  

Here are the links that were mentioned in the podcast! 

Pretty Rich Bosses

Reels In Cash

Pretty Ambitious Summit

Text me! (310) 388-4588

 


 

FOR MY LISTENER BOSS BABES

You can enjoy this podcast by downloading it on iTunes here.
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FOR MY READER BOSS BABES

You can enjoy a transcript of the podcast here.

Sheila Bella:

If you want to get more clients, more students, or turn your beauty business into a profitable passive online business, don't let another day go by without you getting closer to your goals.

PRB Student 1:

My phone is blowing up and I'm booked out until May. I've never been booked out more than two weeks before.

PRB Student 2:

Before, I probably had about 50% bookings and now my books are pretty much full.

PRB Student 3:

In three months, my bookings have more than increased, they've almost doubled. I'm booked out weeks in advance.

PRB Student 4:

Having a YouTube channel and getting myself out in front of the camera and interviewing other artists and other people in the industry, I would not have been able to do that on my own.

PRB Student 5:

Your content is amazing. Pretty Rich Bosses, thank you.

PRB Student 6:

Because I wanted to expand my team, that's why I contacted PRB and it turned out to be a blessing in disguise because I ended up realizing there was so much more that I needed to put in place.

PRB Student 7:

I want to say about 150%, I swear. We've done an amazing job and filling our books and growing and even having an apprentice with us as well as signing huge contracts and-

PRB Student 8:

Moving to larger spaces.

PRB Student 9:

Moving to larger spaces, yes.

PRB Student 10:

I've roughly doubled my profits from when I first started PRB. It's been going really good after raising my prices.

PRB Student 11:

More clients, like I said, getting pushed out of my comfort zone, showing up more of myself, and the support from you guys, the community, the love.

PRB Student 12:

PRB made me an entrepreneur and made me a business woman thinker.

Sheila Bella:

Guys, hearing these results, these real results from real people touches me deeply because I am so proud of this program that I've built called Pretty Rich Bosses. And it is not just me, it's myself and several other coaches plus the community that makes up this incredible program. If you want guidance, if you want clarity, community, if you want strategies that will actually work for your business, go to sheilabella.com/apply. I would love to be a part of your journey and also have a hand in your success story. Why do it the hard way when you can do it with Pretty Rich Bosses? Go to sheilabella.com/apply. Let's freaking do this.

 

Welcome to Pretty Rich Podcast, where you're totally the heroine of your own story. I'm your host, Sheila Bella, and I've built a seven-figure PMU beauty biz and a seven-figure online biz without a degree, without a fancy website, or a sugar daddy. And if you and I hang out on here long enough, you're going to start to believe that you can do it too. How about that for a side effect of listening to this podcast? Because you really can. I know you think, "I don't know you, I have no idea who you are," but I do, I really, really do because I am you, I was you. And I believe we are all on the same journey together. My perfect job didn't exist so I created it. The job I wanted wasn't hurting me, wanted nothing to do with me, so I skipped the line and hired myself as CEO, just like you can. So consider me your secret beauty biz BFF in case you need to be reminded on a weekly basis that power is never just handed to you, you have to take it. Are you ready, beauty boss? Let's jump in.

 

Hey you guys. Welcome to Pretty Rich Podcast. We have someone here that's pretty and rich. Guys, Elise Darma is here joining us on the show. She has been working in social media since 2010. She basically earned a full-time living in all of her adult years that way. And in the first few years, she was an employee, but in 2014 she broke out on her own and she's been growing Instagram accounts for clients ever since. Today she's worked with thousands of entrepreneurs just like yourself to teach them the ropes on how to use Instagram to actually... I like that, with the asterisk, actually grow a business. And she's not talking followers and likes or fake metrics just to look popular. No, her specialty is in helping the not so Insta-famous people make actual real revenue directly from this glorious free app that I also don't understand how people are not taking advantage of this. I don't get it.

 

Together, you and your company have collectively earned almost 1 million dollars in reported revenue directly from Instagram. And what I love about her is on her website, she leads people to her results. She gets her credentials, when people say, just like me, what makes you so qualified? She's like, you know what? Forget about me. I could give you a long list of degrees and accolades, but what you really need to know is all right here, click here, result central. I'm like, poof, I love this girl already. So, Elise Darma, welcome to Pretty Rich Podcast.

Elise Darma:

Thank you, Sheila. That was a really fun introduction to listen to, even though it's about me. You made it come to life so I'm excited to be here.

Sheila Bella:

You're so sweet. Okay. So let's start with a little bit of rapid fire, that's how I like to warm up my guests. Where are you now and where did you grow up?

Elise Darma:

I am currently in British Columbia, Canada and that's where I grew up. I lived across Canada. I typically am in Toronto, that's been my base for the last 10 years, but currently in B.C. in my hometown.

Sheila Bella:

Nice. Do you have any pets?

Elise Darma:

I don't, no.

Sheila Bella:

Okay. Neither do I.

Elise Darma:

I wish. We're just too nomadic. We're traveling around too much. Once I own land I say, then I'll feel comfortable getting a dog, and unfortunately my fiance is allergic to cats. That was almost a deal breaker.

Sheila Bella:

That was my next question, who is we? You and your fiance.

Elise Darma:

Yes, me and my fiance right now.

Sheila Bella:

Awe. How long have you guys been engaged?

Elise Darma:

Six months almost. We got engaged in November so maybe that's five months if I do the math. We have been together eight and a half years.

Sheila Bella:

Wow. How did he do it?

Elise Darma:

The engagement? We flew to Mexico because we wanted to do the Canadian snowbird thing and escape winter and then the very first morning, we were in Tulum, he had sent me a calendar invite for a beach walk and a brunch-

Sheila Bella:

How digital.

Elise Darma:

Very modern.

Sheila Bella:

Wow.

Elise Darma:

I guess he really didn't want to overlap on his plans. So we went on the walk and he wasn't really saying much, which I thought was weird, but maybe I thought adjusting from city life. And then when we got back to our hotel he had arranged for the hotel to set up a big brunch layout on our patio and that's when he proposed and it was just between us, and that's my preference and it was really lovely.

Sheila Bella:

Oh, that's amazing.

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

Congratulations. You look so happy.

Elise Darma:

Thank you.

Sheila Bella:

Do you have a favorite song right now? What's your jam right now?

Elise Darma:

Right now... I like cheesy piano karaoke songs so I was going to say Don't Stop Believing. I'm a big fan of Freddie Mercury. Right now, what am I listening to? I can't even... I'm listening to this Spotify playlist called Organica and it's just chill beats in the background but it also pumps you up. So it's really good work music.

Sheila Bella:

Okay. I will have to check that out. What is a book that's changed your life?

Elise Darma:

I would say in a typical cliché digital nomad way, that the Four Hour Workweek is a book that really opened my brain up to not working the 9-5 job route in order to be successful. I went to school and university thinking that the key to success was climbing the corporate ladder. I think I graduated high school in 2005. So the internet, Facebook really wasn't a thing and so that book was the portal that opened me up to this idea of oh, I can work online. It's so common now, but back then it really wasn't. It got the wheels turning in the right direction.

Sheila Bella:

I love Tim Ferriss.

Elise Darma:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, it's a good one. What's your favorite podcast, aside from this one? No, I'm just kidding. What's your favorite podcast? What's your go-to? Okay, I'm going somewhere, it's going to be long. I should listen to.

Elise Darma:

I'm going to open it up right now, I have had phases of binging people's podcasts, especially in the earlier years of being an online business. Then I go through phases where I don't listen to it at all and I want something completely non-business related, like a crime series podcast or something like that. So I'm in that field right now where I just can't listen to business on top of thinking about business all day long.

Sheila Bella:

I hear you.

Elise Darma:

I'm trying to find something random and new actually. I'm trying to find more storytelling based podcasts that I can listen to on walks and stuff like that. So right now I'm sort of in the crime field arena but I'm definitely looking for [inaudible 00:10:48].

Sheila Bella:

Okay, cool. Well let me see if anybody on Instagram has any suggestions.

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

So you're big on YouTube. Do you yourself have a YouTube inspiration?

Elise Darma:

Yeah. Back in the day, I used to follow this channel called These Girls Are Wild hosted by Shannon Boodram and Andrea Lewis, if I'm not mistaken. I was living in Toronto at the time as a student and they were two Toronto girls who were really doing it. They were really inspirational at that time. I don't even remember how many subscribers they had, but their content was just so good. It was more skit-based and it was cool to see someone local getting traction. So they really inspired me to want to be on video. In fact, Shannon is now... she's a sexologist in L.A., so she's kind of gone a different route entirely but she's still very prominent and out there on video. I'd highly recommend you check her out. I think her name is Shan Boody on Instagram with a D.

Elise Darma:

I'd say for the online marketing space, some people who inspired me were people like Sunny Lenarduzzi who is a fellow Canadian, really quite established in the YouTube marketing space as well as Amy Landino. I believe that's her last name now.

Sheila Bella:

I keep hearing of her, yeah.

Elise Darma:

She's been around YouTube for a long time. I think she used to have a series called Sexy Savvy Social or something like that. She doesn't really focus on social media marketing now, but back then I was like, "Whoa, you can teach this? You can just talk about social media?" I love social media, I've worked in social media since 2010 so they really showed me that it was possible.

Sheila Bella:

Wow. Okay. I love that because I have my inspirations too but when I see people doing it and I'm like, wow, you are making a living working from home doing this thing that I'm already addicted to, but you just do it all day and you get paid, I want to do that. That's great. What are you grateful for?

Elise Darma:

I am grateful for my health. I was going to say our health, because I speak of my partner and I like we're collectively one person, because if one person is down the other person is almost there with them and vice versa. So we're really focused on our health, especially after everything that's happened this last year and really believe that health is wealth. You can have unlimited dollars in the bank but money cannot buy health. It can't buy you time, it can't buy you treatment for a cancer that currently is untreatable for example. That is the basis, that's the foundation. If I don't have that, I feel like I don't have anything.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah. It's the answer. I truly believe that. I totally understand, I agree. Thank you so much for sharing that. Okay. Switch gears a little bit, how to make money from Instagram with less than 1K followers. I know this is something that you talk about a lot. One K, less than 1K. Have you seen this work on real individuals?

Elise Darma:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Sheila Bella:

People with like 300 followers, 800 followers making money off of their platform, this free platform. Have you seen it work and how?

Elise Darma:

Yeah, absolutely. I had a hunch that this was the way to leverage Instagram for business because of the mistakes that I made. So when I jumped on Instagram as a personal brand in 2016, even though I had been growing Instagrams for clients before that, I was obsessed with follower counts, and at that time it was really quite popular to position yourself like an Instagram influencer. I was traveling so I would get the swirly dresses and I would spin around in the rice fields of Bali and I'd show this effortless vibe of oh, my life is so great, I'm an influencer. That was the thing in 2016, and again, obsession with follower growth, and we were doing things like follow, unfollow or trying out programs that would auto-like for you. I've done it all. As an Instagram marketer and growing accounts for clients, I felt like it was my job to try it out.

 

And they worked and I remember I grew to like 30,000 followers in a summer and I again was just obsessed with the follower number, because at the end of the day, I didn't know who any of these people were, I didn't know why they were following me, and it really had to make me stop and pause because I had a sense like there was something here. People were following me for a reason but I was clueless. It was because I didn't care, I didn't care about having real conversations and making those connections. So it took for me to work with a business coach and really understand how do I touch base with these 30,000 people, and that's when I started doing free live classes, live webinars. I started an email list, I started giving away free information to see what people were really interested in.

 

When I started to see that work, I realized that I was an idiot. I was obsessed with the vanity metrics of followers and then along the way from 0 to 30,000, I lost the opportunity to gain email subscribers, gain connections, have those conversations. So that was my hunch going into it. Then when I started teaching business owners what I had learned from growing Instagram accounts, a lot of them were coming to me with 100 followers, a brand new account, a personal account that they were thinking of changing into their business account, and they felt really afraid that this was going to take them years to grow to 30,000 followers with nothing to show for it.

 

But as we started digging into their strategy, as I started designing strategies for clients, as I started teaching Instagram through a course, I noticed that people were getting sales when they had only a few hundred followers, and that was because the concept of quality over quantity is so true on Instagram. As well the concept of a thousand true fans, which was an idea coined by Kevin Kelly. The idea is that if you have a thousand people who truly care about what you offer, your business, your product, and let's say each one of them buy your product worth $100, well that's a $100,000 business right there. That's nothing to sneeze at.

 

So this is the concept of a thousand true fans is all you really need, 1000 people who are going to buy your $100 product, that gives you a business that you can live off of basically. So I took that concept and I really pushed for my students to not do what I did, which was ignore the followers as I grew because I was obsessed with the number, but as they were growing, as they went from 300, 400, 500 followers, take the time to talk to those people, the people who are following you. Send them a DM, send them a message. Have that conversation about why they followed you. Take the time to do that. Have them join your email list and just by slowing things down, especially when you have fewer followers, it's a bit more manageable to have all those conversations.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah.

Elise Darma:

It's through doing that that you're going to cultivate real relationships and it's through those relationships that sales happen. I started to notice this pattern, and now if you head to my website, you'll see a button on the top menu featuring case studies. There's six or seven or eight of them now and those are in depth reviews of people who generated five figures plus from Instagram all with less than 1000 followers. Some of them have more than 1000 now, but when they hit $10,000 of revenue or more, typically on average they had less than or around 1000 followers. So you can actually read in depth how they achieved that. The information is out there.

Sheila Bella:

Wow. It's all through personal relationships. Is that pretty much the key?

Elise Darma:

Exactly. Instagram is owned by Facebook, Facebook is the parent company. And when we look at all the features that have come out related to Instagram in the last few years, I'm not seeing a lot of new features go to Facebook, they're all going to Instagram. When we really look at what those features are, stories and DMs that are really robust and Instagram Reels, the way I see it, going live, turning them into IGTV replays, all of these features are designed really well for business owners like ourselves to leverage relationships, and not try to be Insta-famous but just create those connections with people, have those conversations, that's when people become customers.

Sheila Bella:

Wow. Totally my philosophy too and something that I've noticed that took me a while to learn. I think people are so focused on automated, like if you post, they will just come.

Elise Darma:

Right.

Sheila Bella:

I think that's the myth, because all the bigger accounts make it look like that and then so what the smaller accounts are doing is they're just trying to mimic that, but that might not work for a smaller account. And I even challenge to say that it will also not work as well for a large account without that personal relationship when a client or a follower feels seen and known and noticed by the account owner, you become the only option. The only option.

 

I wish I could tell you that being a great artist or technician is enough. I wish I could tell you that the thousands of dollars you've spent on trainings and cosmetology school and the hundreds of hours you've spent practicing on your craft is enough. You have put so much effort into perfecting your craft. You're posting incredible client transformations, but still, your flow of clients is inconsistent, you're overjoyed when you book a new client but in the back of your mind there's that nagging fear of not knowing where your next client is going to come from, or perhaps you're inundated with clients but now you feel like a slave to your business, when the whole point of getting into the beauty industry was to be able to be your own boss. So what's the solution? You need to learn sales, branding, marketing, social media, referral programs, team building, mental toughness. You need to be inspired. You need to be within a group of people and learn from people who understand you, who get you, who have been there.

 

So guess what? The Pretty Ambitious Summit is basically thousands of dollars' worth of business coaching crammed into three days. It is a hybrid virtual event. It is the ultimate girl power event for beauty entrepreneurs. Tickets are on sale right now. On our speaker list includes Gary Vaynerchuk, Angie Lee, Sarah Pendrick, Shay Danielle, and so much more. I am so excited and honored to be able to bring this to the beauty industry, and it's virtual. But believe me, there will be opportunities for in-person events for those who are comfortable. All you need to do is go to prettyambitioussummit.com or sheilabella.com/events to learn more and to get your tickets while they last. I'll see you there.

 

I love it. Is there one social media habit or mindset that you think divides the haves from the have-nots? And if so, what is the habit or mindset?

Elise Darma:

I almost hate saying this because it's so commonly talked about but rarely done well, and the habit is consistency. It's an annoying word to hear because you'll often hear people say the key to Instagram growth is consistency, not necessarily. You can be consistent at posting content that doesn't hit the mark for your audience, you're not going to see results from it. But, by being consistent at posting and creating content that is hitting the mark, that's really what differentiates yourself from others in your industry. That's what makes you continue to be known for your visibility to grow. I'm totally speaking from experience here because like I said, I've been doing this since 2013, I didn't really launch a personal brand until 2016, and that's when the Elise Darma account started and all that great stuff.

 

For many years it felt like I was just grinding it out day in, day out without really getting traction and results. YouTube, our YouTube channel, it's two years old now. We're at 65,000 subscribers, but a part of me in the last two years was waiting for the day that YouTube would pick up one of our videos and we'd go viral and all the sudden I'd have 100,000. That never happened. I have never been one of those people who has just suddenly gone viral overnight and their numbers shoot up. I always wanted it, and now I'm realizing it was a blessing not to have that because imagine your growth just 10X-ing overnight, your systems would break. Things just go awry if you're not prepared for that level of growth.

 

I am the definition of steady growth along with consistently showing up. What people see today is a result of eight years, eight years of sticking with it. Am I doing my math correctly? I don't know. Seven years, eight years. That's the exact same thing that I see with my students who stick with it, even when it feels like where's the traction? Where's the visibility? Where is the virality? But by sticking with it and especially now, anyone who's stuck with it with Reels or TikTok, I think you're seeing results now. This feature amongst any other feature I've seen on Instagram, this feature can make you viral, more than anything else I've ever seen.

Sheila Bella:

I agree.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, right. So if you've stuck with it, even if you get rid of all your other Instagram tasks and you just make Reels for example, right now is your opportunity and you are going to see results.

Sheila Bella:

I hear you. That's why we have our online course, shameless plug, Reel In Cash available now at sheilabella.com.

Elise Darma:

Love it.

Sheila Bella:

I get it. Right now Instagram is being so nice to us by giving us Reels.

Elise Darma:

So nice, especially anyone who has been doing this for years. This is such a gift we've never had.

Sheila Bella:

It's so funny. We're so abused. We're so abused. We're like thank you so much.

Elise Darma:

I'm writing a sales page right now about an Instagram course and I was totally going to veer into is this an abusive relationship? I'm not going to do that on a sales page. It feels like that sometimes.

Sheila Bella:

That's so funny. What is... you mentioned it a minute ago. What is the type of content that does hit the mark? Because you talked about consistency, how it's not just about consistency, it's about creating content that hits the mark.

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

How do you do that? What is the mark?

Elise Darma:

It changes. I did mention Reels and Reels is definitely my number one right now. I tell my business owners if you are overwhelmed, you can't consistently do all the things on Instagram, just focus on the one thing that is really working, which is Reels. Like I said, that changes. So right now we're in an era of Reels, we're leveraging it. Over the last few years I've seen quote cards do really well, like sharable quote cards were doing really well last year. Then I saw the whole wave of memes and gifs, gifs especially. Once Canva gave us that giphy integration and we could bring gifs into our posts and then export them as videos. Well first of all, videos get way higher reach and views, but also gifs are just funny and people, especially on Instagram, they're ready for a laugh. Instagram has taken itself has taken itself so seriously over the years, especially after the era of everyone needs to be an Instagram influencer and you need to look perfect and blah blah blah, people are over that. So the fact that we had memes and gifs for humor, we've had stories and Reels for just bringing real life to Instagram. We no longer post pretty, edited photos. It's just changed the whole user experience. You see that in the reaction from your audience.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, I totally agree with you. What is a mistake that you notice that new online entrepreneurs make regularly? And if there is one thing you could tell them to do if it was like your brother, your sister, your best friend making this mistake and you see it all the time. What would you tell them to stop doing? What would you tell them to stop doing?

Elise Darma:

I know the answer to this immediately, because this is what a lot of business owners who are newer to Instagram will do. They'll start their profile on Instagram, profile picture, user name, name field, and then the bio and they will be so afraid to be specific in their whole profile, so not even their feed, not even their content, just the upper half of their profile. They will be afraid to be specific as to who they actually want to attract because they'll have this mindset of I don't want to turn people away if they want my business's service.

 

But by writing a bio and designing a profile that's so broad and generic, people are not going to remember you for any one thing. They're not going to know who you serve. So without that, you're losing people. You're losing the opportunity to get sales. Then sometimes they might say, "Well, XYZ brand over there, they're really broad." Well, you can get broad when you have been established, when you have a base, when you have an audience. You've got a couple years of people know you for XYZ. You can broaden out then. But when you are new, the best thing you can do is be niche and be specific and be very literal as to who you help and how.

 

In fact, that's how I encourage my students to write the first line of their bio. This is the first impression. Your content, your Reels, all that stuff, it goes out there to attract someone to your profile. When they land on your profile, your profile is the first impression and the first line of your bio is the best place to give them that right first impression. I have my students say who they help and how. Helping moms with newborns sleep six hours a night, very specific. Who they help and how. And that's the key, you have to be specific when you're new, especially on Instagram because you want to be remembered. You want to be remembered for one thing.

 

I'm an example of this. When I first started my profile, I was a digital nomad, I was an agency owner, I was a freelancer, and I also did Instagram for e-commerce. Four things. Then when I would go to business conferences and my friends, my business friends, would introduce me to other people, they would say, "This is my friend, Elise. She's an Instagram queen." And I'd be like, "Well I do so many other things. I'm an agency owner, I'm a digital...", no. It didn't matter. It happened a few times until I noticed wow, my own friends are only remembering me as this Instagram queen, which is a name I would never give myself. I didn't call myself that. But they remembered me for that one thing and that's when the light bulb went off. I'm like, "Wow, I am confusing people by trying to tell them all the things I do in a tiny little bio. I need to focus on the one thing that people remember me for, bring them into my fold for that one thing. Once they're in my fold, sure, then I can introduce them to other facets of my brand and what I offer."

 

So that's the advice that I give to people who are just getting started.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah. I think the term one stop shop is desirable, but it's so misleading. Because of course you want to be a one stop shop, who doesn't want to be a one stop shop for everything? But when you're starting out, I agree with you that you should be niching down because you're unknown and people are starting all these online retail stores as a one stop shop. You want to be Walmart? You want to be Walmart? You can't be Walmart right now.

Elise Darma:

Not now, maybe in a few years but not right now.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah. For what? I totally agree with you. With that said, who is your favorite type of client to work with? What is your favorite type of client?

Elise Darma:

Our agency is not working with clients right now, but I do-

Sheila Bella:

Or students.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, student, exactly. My ideal student, I actually have someone in mind who I've worked with.

Sheila Bella:

Aww, I love that.

Elise Darma:

Generally there's someone... oftentimes I'll design my products for this one person [crosstalk 00:32:43]

Sheila Bella:

Sometimes I do that too.

Elise Darma:

Yeah. It's because our history of working together. I could see wow, if everyone who came to me was like you, of course they would get results. In fact, this person is a case study on our website and she's generated over $50,000 in sales directly from her Instagram following and she's just such a big advocate for Instagram, she'll DM me, she'll [inaudible 00:33:07] me every time she gets a new sale or a new client from Instagram. She's so excited.

 

I think the reason why she does so well is she actually has a corporate background. I think she's probably in her 40s so she had corporate experience and then she's been able to pivot that experience into being an online coach for others. So she has the experience, she has the expertise, she comes to me needing to figure out the mechanics of Instagram, the mechanics of social media. And that's my favorite type of person to work with. They're not coming to the business world with no experience, they have experience, I'm just their fairy godmother into the digital world, the social media world of taking your experience and applying it to social media, specifically Instagram.

 

When I work with someone like that, they get results so fast. They just need to learn the ropes of social media. I'm like their translator, I feel like my age is probably a good mix between I know what the corporate world is like, I'm in my 30s by the way. I know what the corporate world is like because I've worked it, but I also grew up in the '90s pre-internet so I know the world that they come from too. So I know pre-internet world, I know internet world, I can speak both languages. So I think that's why we just get along so well. That's why they're my favorite type of student.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, yeah. How big is your team right now?

Elise Darma:

Good question. We are four full-time people including myself and then there are about four part-time contractors or agencies or services.

Sheila Bella:

Nice. Okay. Are they remote or are they-

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

They are all remote.

Elise Darma:

Before 2020, my goal was to create a team based in Toronto and so my first full-time hire, we were both in Toronto, and that was great. We worked together in-person once a week and then 2020 happened and now we're just a remote team. But if possible, I do want to bring in elements of meeting in person as much as we can, even when we're working all around the world.

Sheila Bella:

It's nice and then it's not.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, exactly.

Sheila Bella:

Okay, so I want to switch gears now that I know that you have a team and I want to talk a little and pick your brain about team building.

Elise Darma:

Okay.

Sheila Bella:

I have a team as well, all remote right now, about 25.

Elise Darma:

Twenty five people?

Sheila Bella:

Twenty five, and most of them I've never met.

Elise Darma:

What? Wow.

Sheila Bella:

Most of them I've never met in person but it feels... I forget that I've never met you, I've never hugged. I'm looking at Victoria's face right now on Telegram and I'm just like I've literally never met her.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, that's crazy.

Sheila Bella:

It sounds weird because I feel so close to her. I think team building is a scary thing, just hiring people in general, it's a very scary thing. But I would not be where I am today, and I'm sure you wouldn't be where you are today also without the art of delegating. You must delegate. That is a new habit, a new skill I think that's very uncomfortable for people who haven't done it before. Now I think I've hired maybe in the 10 years I've been in business, maybe 100 plus people, definitely more than 100 people have come through. Then I have some key thoroughbreds that have been with me for several years and will never leave and will die here. You'll die here, dang it. Laura, you're going to die here. Okay. Are you listening, good? [inaudible 00:37:07] ready to go.

Elise Darma:

I know the feeling.

Sheila Bella:

So who was your first hire, and when did you realize you're like, "Okay, I need help," and what was that first one? What was that process like for you?

Elise Darma:

Are we talking part-time or full-time?

Sheila Bella:

Either one, even just part-time, just the decision where you're like... you just get to a point I think as an entrepreneur where you're like, okay, I need help. Okay fine, maybe I'll trust someone else with this. That first decision to trust someone else with it. What was that like?

Elise Darma:

It takes me back to my agency days because I was in a 9-5 job, I got my first client, then I had five clients, I was able to quit my job, and so for two years I was running a solopreneur based business. That's what I wanted, I wanted location independence, I went to Bali, I worked from a tree house. I didn't want a team, I wanted five clients. I was making $75,000 a year which was more than my day job. I was happy, until the day that I wasn't and I wanted the next level. I wanted more than location independence. I wanted to start working towards financial independence. I wanted to hit the six-figure mark. The sexy six-figure mark.

 

So I realized okay, I need more clients but I'm kind of maxed out and I'm kind of bored with writing these captions so who do I know that could help me do some of these tasks that I'm getting a little bored with. So that's what led me to tapping into my network, because I'm working in the corporate world, I was actually able to hire people who I already had that working relationship with. I knew their skillset so it wasn't too scary to hire them and just bring them in as a part-time contractor to take over this scheduling task for this client. Oh you can do this? Okay, how about writing blogs. So pretty early on into my agency growth days, I had two or three contractors at any given time. I had a writer, a social media marketer, and then I had a graphics person, because we were doing newsletters for our e-commerce clients.

 

So that wasn't too scary. Well... yes and no because it still felt like every month was a little tight in terms of we have a fixed amount coming in from clients, I know my contractor costs are XYZ, what's left over for me? Not much but at least all the wheels are turning. That was the stressor for a couple years and then-

Sheila Bella:

A couple years. Listen guys, a couple years. Okay.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, it was a couple years. Honestly I describe it now looking back as feeling paycheck to paycheck, which is a term for the corporate world but in many ways, every month you knew what your fixed costs were and when the sales reset at the start of every month, I was like, "I'm back to zero. What's going to happen this month? How much revenue are we...". It was scary. It was scary for a couple months there. I really leveraged credit cards for a while to keep things afloat.

Sheila Bella:

Wow, how long? How long were you living... a couple years right?

Elise Darma:

I'd say a couple years. I wasn't racking up credit card debt, but there were a couple months where I was like, "Okay, I can only pay myself a little." I was paying myself personally a couple thousand every month and then making sure that everything else was staying afloat. And when I say credit cards, not adding credit card debt but sometimes if one month our revenue wasn't enough, I would have to use them temporarily. That was just growing pains of scaling in the early days when I really didn't know how to find that balance between revenue expenses, profit, paying myself. So I'd say from 2016 to 2018 it was probably finding that balance and figuring out how to scale.

 

So that's when I hired my first full-time person in 2018. I realized that I could probably go a lot further with one full-time person who's not juggling multiple clients and who I could trust with certain things in the business, who could do certain things and then free up my time to create products, show up more on social, all that great stuff. So it was that decision that was the scariest but that was a huge turning point for the business, to bring in that full-time person and figure out that dynamic of handing tasks off, being good with 80% is good enough, not 100%. I'm a perfectionist so I had to try to work on that and let go of those things. It's just been a ripple effect from there. Bringing in that extra person definitely helped our revenue grow... grew... it helped our revenue grow, yes... because I had more time and space to look at what was going on in the market and create products that our audience actually wanted, actually needed. So that was the difference that happened in 2019 and since then we've hired a handful of other full-time people.

 

It doesn't feel scary now. The first hire, it was sort of like I was gripping onto my seat, holding on for whatever roller coaster ride I was on, but now even with more people on the team more than ever, it still feels like controlled, manageable, all the pulleys and levers are going and the business is healthy. It just makes such a difference.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, yeah. Wow. What is your advice for somebody new who is looking to grow a business such as yours?

Elise Darma:

In terms of being an Instagram marketer?

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, an Instagram marketer, a team leader essentially.

Elise Darma:

My advice?

Sheila Bella:

Someone new. Let's take you in 2016, what would you tell that girl? That same girl.

Elise Darma:

Me in 2016. I would say you need to learn to let go a bit, and that is my personality of being a bit of a control freak, a perfectionist, all that great stuff. So you need to learn to let go. Then the other thing is in terms of my 2016 self... let me think. There's an element of having to step aside or step away from yourself in order to not let your ego get in the way of what the business needs. That's something that I've learned as we've grown and added team members.

Sheila Bella:

That cuts deep, that cuts deep.

Elise Darma:

Well, yeah.

Sheila Bella:

Elaborate on that. How does our ego get in the way as entrepreneurs?

Elise Darma:

Well, I'm looking at sheilabella.com, I'm elisedarma.com. We are personal brands, we are the face, the content creators, the product creators. We're showing up. And when you hire a team of people to work behind the scenes and represent you, write copy on behalf of your voice, for me, the control freak side of me is like, "That's not how I would say it, blah, blah." You can spend the majority of your day tweaking things to sound like how you would do it. But I think the ego thing comes into play in that you have to let go of that to a certain extent to let someone else take it and run with it. And even though it's not how you would do it, that's fine. You hired them for a reason so that you don't have to do it. So remember that. Trust that you've hired the right people who are going to represent you in a way that allows your brand and your business to grow.

 

That's my personal challenge of just not letting the perfectionist control freak person inside of me take over. Because it's also not great for team morale if you're constantly like, "You need to change that, or you need to do it this way." That person's not going to feel motivated to stick around and work with you.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, yeah. So good. I think that's such a hard lesson for newer entrepreneurs. I really believe in delegation, obviously. That's why [inaudible 00:45:39]. But that's the only way to grow.

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

So the name of this podcast is Pretty Rich Podcast, but what I like about it is it's a little misleading. Go ahead, judge the show because of the name. I feel like that's been my story but then once you start really getting into it, you realize that the oh, the word rich, let's talk about the word rich. It's not just talking about financial. This show is all about being rich in all aspects, in all facets, spiritually, emotionally, relationally is a big one. Not only relationship with others but the relationship you have with yourself. So what is your advice for how to live a rich life in all aspects?

Elise Darma:

Again, something that I feel like I'm a work in progress around. The business has been my baby and my focus for so long and we've grown in the last few years that I definitely see myself spending the majority of my time, energy, mind share on my business. I love it, but I would say that there's still room for me to live a more well rounded life in terms of leaving energy at the end of the day for my partner. Having energy at the end of the day to message or call friends. To think in advance of oh, this event is coming up or so-and-so's birthday's coming up, what can I do that's special for them?

 

I'm actually coming up against this right now, so it's a funny question for you to ask, because in no means am I an expert in this. In fact, I'm seeing especially more recently I'm kind of kicking myself for being so focused on my business that I have missed opportunities to be a good friend or to be a good sister or whatever the situation is, even a good partner. How often does your partner get the brunt of your frustrations?

Sheila Bella:

Every day.

Elise Darma:

Yeah, right. Or they get the leftover scraps of your energy.

Sheila Bella:

Yeah, I know. It's so difficult.

Elise Darma:

I don't know what the answer is actually. I'm still aware that I don't have a great balance. I definitely am aware that I don't want to be on my deathbed with money but regrets. I want to make sure that the reason why I'm working so hard, the reason why I'm working towards building financial independence is all there to have the freedom to be with family, to be with friends, to have an impact in a different way beyond financial means. So I'm a work in progress.

Sheila Bella:

We will always be. And I believe that balance is not achievable. Perfect balance. I think that's an unnecessary pressure we put on ourselves because it's the perfect narrative, but your house will never be perfect and clean. My car will always have scraps of tissues on the floor or napkins or hot sauce.

Elise Darma:

Right.

Sheila Bella:

There will always be issues in my business. There will just always be, because it's always... it's a living, breathing thing. So I've learned to take pause. I've learned to take pause and recognize that this is the dream. This imperfection is the dream. There's like half [inaudible 00:49:41] Tupperware right there and I was like, "I don't want to show that." But this is it. This is it. This is what I've prayed for years ago.

Elise Darma:

It's true.

Sheila Bella:

This imperfection is it, and just taking time to bask in that, the reality that this is happening to you right now and this is such a blessing in all its imperfection, in all its glory. Especially as a mom of soon to be three, I have to think that way.

Elise Darma:

That's true.

Sheila Bella:

Kids are always going to have a little bit of jelly on their face or something like that or peanut butter. This is it and it's awesome.

Elise Darma:

Yeah.

Sheila Bella:

Thank you so much for spending time with us today. I really, really appreciate you. For our listeners or our viewers, where can we find you and how can we work with you?

Elise Darma:

Well we talked about Instagram a little bit today, so I've got a ton of resources about Instagram for business. In fact, we actually published a video on our YouTube channel all about Instagram for beauty-based businesses. So you can find me on YouTube, just type in Elise Darma, D-A-R-M-A, and you'll find me there. And of course on Instagram, @elisedarma. I've got a ton of free resources. I would say for your listeners who are looking to leverage Instagram and make money with less than 1000 followers, head to elisedarma.co/secrets and you will get a training that will go into this topic more in depth.

Sheila Bella:

That's awesome. For those of you who are listening to audio, we will link all of those things in the show notes. So you guys can just click and head on there. Thank you so much, Elise, for joining us.

Elise Darma:

Thanks, Sheila.

Sheila Bella:

Until next time.

Elise Darma:

I had such a great time.

Sheila Bella:

Hey. Thanks so much for listening to today's episode of Pretty Rich Podcast. If you want to continue the conversation longer, check me out on Instagram. It's my favorite place to connect with you guys @realsheilabella. I'm happy to answer any of your questions or simply to chat and get to know you better. If you end up doing something super awesome like screen shotting this episode and reposting it on your stories, that would put the biggest smile on my face. Don't forget to tag me. I appreciate every share and love feedback from my listeners. Also, do you have my number? Do you have my number? Because if we're going to keep hanging out, you should probably have my number. You can actually text me. That's right, you can text me at (310) 388-4588.

 

And if you're sick and tired of doing business alone and you're interested in accelerating your success by hiring a business coach or joining our mentorship program called Pretty Rich Bosses, go ahead and just apply. Why not? Check it out. Go to sheilabella.com/apply and we'll schedule a free strategy session with either myself or one of my advisors. And of course, I've got to include my kids. So here to send us off are Beau and Grey.

Sheila Bella:

Grey, say, "Share with your friends."

Grey:

Share with friends.

Sheila Bella:

Please review my mommy on iTunes.

Grey:

Choo-choo mama iTunes.

Sheila Bella:

Thanks for listening.

Grey:

Thanks for listening.

Sheila Bella:

Hey Beau, can you tell everybody what our family motto is?

Beau:

Yeah. I can do hard things.

Sheila Bella:

I can do hard things. Good job, buddy.

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