How to grow your online following
Six easy ways to grow your online following
The story of Deborah Stewart is inspirational in so many ways. Deborah is an early childhood educator with an interest in play-based learning. She started in a classroom but after a while felt she’d hit a ceiling – a chance encounter with an educator who shared her classroom experiences online inspired her to start sharing her own play-based learning experiences too. This led to the launch of her own nursery and sharing platform, teachpreschool.org, which has become the go-to resource for other educators or parents wanting to know more about play-based learning.
With no background in business or social media, Deborah stuck true to what she loved and believed in – early play learning and how to share her experiences with others in this field. In just a few years, she has developed a fan base of over 1.3 million followers on Facebook.
So how has she done it?
“Just stay the course,” she says. “If you’re emailing, writing a blog or posting once a week, then don’t stop as it’s much harder to start again if you do. Choose a path and stick with it.” Deborah is a good example of the truth of this. She spent the first seven years sharing her experiences, her insights, her thoughts about play-based learning with other educators and parents. She did this daily, never missing a single day.
Keep it simple.
“ When you get excited about an idea, just do it,” she says. “Don’t overthink it or try too hard to perfect it otherwise you’ll never get round to marketing and selling it.” Deborah put this principle into practice with her series of online workshops called The Foundation Series. Here she wanted to teach some of the principles she’d learned about early play learning, keeping it super simple and addressing new teachers. She created a website, sent out flyers inviting people to sign up, and to her surprise, had a great turn out. As she’d sold the course before making it, she then spent the next 6 weeks making the series!
“A lot of social media is just common sense,” says Deborah. When Deborah started out in social media, she used Facebook as an outreach to pull people in.
Deborah knew that Facebook changes its algorithms – sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worst – so to retain an element of control, Deborah built up an email list from her Facebook pages. “I had no business degree or training,” she says, “I was just doing something I was passionate about. I focused on building a connection and staying connected with people.”
Stay true to your vision.
When Deborah had her lightbulb moment – of taking what she had learnt from within the classroom walls and sharing it with teachers around the world – she never looked back. “I had a vision from the beginning that I believed and understood that there were millions of teachers out there who needed to experience the transformation that I had experienced,” says Deborah. “I knew from the start that there would be millions of other teachers who would benefit from being reached, just as I was.”
“There are so many wonderful possibilities for sharing whatever you’re passionate about but you have to learn to balance it with what is working and how much you can handle it. There’s only 24 hours in a day,” she says. There’s also the question of paying the bills – to create a regular income, Deborah created an online membership where customers get access to everything she makes – this regularity gives her more free time to focus on the teaching element rather than the marketing element of her work.
Stay true to your voice.
“Don't worry if there are others doing the same thing as you,” says Deborah. “People will come to you because of who you are – in a field where there’s so much chatter, they need that consistent voice that will guide them and that will be you.”
There are so many opportunities now for sharing on social media – you have to find the right median for you, whether that’s blogging, podcasting or instagramming – there might be hundreds of people around you but you will still stand out as you. “People want to build a connection with someone they feel is authentic,” says Deborah. “I believe there is room for all of us and we can all make an impact.”
So there you have it – there’s no wizardry or rocket science to building your online following. What is important is staying true to who you are, your goal and your passion – the rest will follow!
To find out more about Deborah’s work, visit teachpreschool.org
For more details on how to grow your online business listen to the full Podcast at: http://www.simply-marketing.net/2019/11/29/how-blogging-took-a-teaching-business-online/