Webb Search, Part III: Own your age, your beauty, your power.
This is the third post in Webb Search, a column for Accelerate with Google by Veronica Webb, our Editor-at-Large. She writes about her journey of re-inventing her career (which has spanned modeling, journalism, acting, teaching) as she grows an online business using Google tools.
Step One: Get Started
Starting a new career in the digital space in midlife ain’t easy, baby. Let me say this to those of you who dare: Own Your Age. Own Your Beauty. Own Your Power. And one more thing: Do. Not. Wait. Good things come to those who do not hesitate.
As women, far too often, we hold our own selves back by undercutting our accumulated wisdom, saying, “Oh my God! I look so old,” or “I’m 25! I’m 30! I’m 45! I’m 50!” It’s as if women feel they need to apologize in both professional and personal settings for aging.
Two months ago, I was at a networking event with 25 of the most powerful women of color working in the beauty industry. Most of the women there held degrees from Ivy League institutions, were employed as VPs, Presidents, or COOs. Some worked at Fortune 500 companies, while others had staked claims in the beauty world as founders and CEOs of their own successful independent beauty brands. As we went around the table introducing ourselves, these powerful women touched their imperceptibly sagging jowls, stroked their foreheads as if to wipe away the fine lines corrugating their brows from years of hard work and deep thinking required to be successful. With those small, but telling, gestures while touching their beautifully maturing faces, and those few words disparaging their ages, with a single breath, each of these enviably successful and talented women had literally given up ownership not only of their age but of their beauty and their power. (By the way, men don’t do this publicly like women do, and for good reason – it’s a self-defeating strategy for work and, ultimately, life.)
I was proud to be the oldest woman in the room that night. Hearing the laments regarding age, I stood up and offered this bit of advice to all the women present, who I respect so much. I said: Gather yourselves, ladies. Take stock of where you are and what you’ve built in your lives. Own it. Move forward. Today. Right now. This moment is all we have to work with to ensure our own success and the financial safety and security of ourselves and of those we love. We all have more than we are often willing to let ourselves believe.
Before we go any further, let’s talk about success for a second, ok? Squillions of dollars and squillions of followers is the exception rather than the rule for any online or brick and mortar business. Even though we ALL know this intuitively, I and scores of midlife emerging entrepreneurs I’ve talked to, hesitate, delay or even entirely fail to launch due to setting the bar so high that the first step seems insurmountable, preventing them from taking the leap of faith required to get into the game.
Know this: YouTube is the future of online engagement. Forbes.com recently published these stats: After watching a video, 64% of users are more likely to buy a product online, 80% recall the content of a video ad 30 days later, social media videos generate 12 times the shares as static posts. When it comes to the technical side of how it works, I don’t really know much about that. Yet, I do know that if you have a story to tell, YouTube is the place for any enterprising entrepreneur to be right now. People relate to realness, so just be yourself when you’re talking on video about your business, because no one can tell the story of what you do and who you are better than you.
The Invisible Woman
According to a recent report by the CBS news magazine 60 Minutes, 1 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every day, and it’s the most used social network in the United States.
How the heck is anyone going to find me in that sea of content? Now note this, 50.8% of the global population is online – massive, isn’t it? And according to Forbes, for 86% of internet users, reviews posted by other users just like them influences their watching and spending habits. People recommending people is also how algorithms get made. YOU are your audience. Whoever is going to watch you has the same wants, needs, and loves as you do.
It took me a minute to really believe that not only do middle-aged women want to engage in an age-positive conversation about fashion, beauty, style, and sexual wellness but also that my content would rank on either Google search or YouTube.
I’ve been working with Google for a year now, as editor-at-large of Accelerate with Google. This is what I’ve learned by observing and asking Googlers and Google’s Digital Coaches (small business owners and entrepreneurs who teach as part of the Grow with Google program) how to launch in the online arena successfully:
- You need a tag line that clearly states what’s on your YouTube channel.
- Make good stuff, so people will want to stick with what you posted. It doesn’t have to be perfect.
- Promote your content through social media and through online advertising.
Got that? While it’s not quite as simple as 1,2,3 - there’s a lot behind each of those guidelines. However, take comfort in the fact that every brand, no matter how big or how small, can only sustain growth by capturing the attention of each individual user. For me, blogging is my side business that I’ve been growing over the last 4 years. Blogging fits into my schedule as a freelance beauty and wellness writer and a mom to 4 teens. I make money from my online business by collaborating with brands, Google being one of those brands, to share why I personally enjoy using those products and services.
Moving from building a business online in your spare time to working at it full time happens by adding one thing at a time. Early mornings and late nights, when family obligations are yet to begin or are finished for the day is how I budget the time. I discipline myself to take advantage of producing content while I’m in the waiting room for an appointment, or in transit. Success is about taking every chance to practice the craft of communicating and mastering the digital space.
New York City is one of the most expensive places in the world to live, and when you’re sandwiched in between raising four kids and saving for retirement, finding “extra money” is up there with siting a unicorn. Building an online business for someone like me who’s 55 years old and anticipating a work slowdown or even possible retirement either by choice or forced through the loss of relevance, time and money mean more in the grand scheme of things than they ever have before.
This year, in addition to the money that I spent to produce my blog, I decided to carve out an online advertising budget. “Extra money” came to me by going “car-less.” Yep, I gave up my car. Then I gave up taxis and ride-sharing apps unless I had groceries or packages too awkward or heavy to carry on foot. Public transportation accounts for 90% of how I get around now. No gas. No insurance. No parking. Bottom line? All that equals a $600.00 monthly savings. It’s better for building my business. Not ready to go “car-less” to save money to reinvest into promoting your business? Skip the fancy cappuccino. Make your own coffee and save a bundle. Add up your coffee allowance in your head right now. The number is way bigger than you think, right? Cash in hand, creating an online ad campaign by buying GoogleAd words was my next step. What are Google AdWords? You know the results that pop-up on your screen when you type a question in the search bar? Those are AdWords. Anyone can buy AdWords. Every business, no matter how small, has the power to reach the world through a relatively small investment using AdWords tools.
How Do You Come Across?
Own Your Age. Own Your Beauty. Own Your Power. Google coaching helped me come up with that powerful tag line that encapsulates the age-positive essence of my message at WebbOnTheFly.com. Translating that into advertising copy with Google AdWords was a bit of a puzzle since each component has to be summed up in 96 characters. IRL coaching and online research helped me find my way. I didn’t go all-in at once. Initially, $1.00 a day was my opening ad budget, which I slowly increased to $5.00 a day which is basically the price of a cappuccino. This small but worthy investment afforded ads for my blog exposure to a potential global audience of 251,501,081 million. While I didn’t reach anywhere near the 250 million of the potential audience - I did see a 20% increase in traffic on my blog over a 30 day period.
Quantasy, a creative agency that works regularly with Google (and who helped to re-launch and produce this site as an editorial platform, with the direction of Googler Reena Jana from October 2017-December 2019), gave me a crash course on how to create compelling content for the launch of my Veronica Webb YouTube channel.
I hope you’ll watch and really enjoy the video we put together, it’s the culmination of a year-long project to learn about digital marketing. Thanks for joining me for the ride. It’s truly been a pleasure to learn and grow with you.
Hero photo by Creative Theory for Google.
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