If you’re an early-stage social media manager looking to stand out online & live the laptop lifestyle, this podcast is for you!
Shannon will bring you practical + actionable strategies to help up-level your social media presence, craft a strong personal brand online, & most importantly help you build your Social Media Management business around your dream lifestyle, not the other way around.
In this episode, Shannon (aka me) will share with you who the heck she is, & her story of how she went from being miserable in her corporate job to doing the whole “Eay, Pray, Love” approach & moving to Bali to launch her own online business.
My hope for you if you are feeling stuck or unfulfilled in your current position, is that you take away some inspiration & motivation from this episode and go after your own dreams.
Growing up, I had no idea that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. Heck, I don’t even think I knew what that word even was when I was younger. It was always drilled into my head that I had to follow a certain path, get good grades, go to a reputable college, & climb the corporate ladder. That was the “socially acceptable” thing to do.
After high school, I ended up getting accepted into UC Santa Cruz and at that point in time, I thought I was going to go down the marine biology route and become a dolphin trainer. Yup, I wanted to play with dolphins for a living (I mean who wouldn’t), but I was repeatedly told that the pay + job itself was not as amazing as I had been envisioning – shocking I know.
So fast forward to class enrollments where I thought I was going to be signing up for marine biology classes I remember randomly turning to my mom and saying “nope never mind I’m actually going to do business instead”. I still have no idea to this day why I changed my mind. Maybe it was because my mother told me that being a dolphin trainer included cleaning up crap for a living, but there I was now signing up for business classes.
During my freshman year at UCSC, I ended up meeting my then-boyfriend (yes this will be relevant). He was a few years older than me and I fell head over heels in love with this guy and I thought he was “the one”. We dated all throughout college and towards my senior year, he decided to join the coast guard which, to be honest, I was not thrilled about. I knew at this point in time I did not want the military life as I knew it involved months of being away for non-stop trainings, moving from place to place every few years, & just having little to no control over his life. But, we still decided to make it work so while he was off at Bootcamp, I was finishing up my last few quarters.
One night I ended up scrolling mindlessly on FB (probably when I was supposed to be studying for finals) but I came across a FB Ad of two women who built an online service-based business together, they were traveling the world, & they were teaching other women how to do the same via their courses. I immediately bought their courses and that was the day everything clicked for me and I realized there was this alternative to climbing the whole corporate ladder.
So quite literally that FB Ad changed the whole trajectory of my life. From that point on, I knew that one day I too wanted to launch my own online business – I just didn’t know what exactly it would look like.
In March 2018, I graduated from college a quarter early & moved down to San Diego. My then-boyfriend had gotten stationed on the East coast (which was a shock for me) but we decided to make the long-distance thing work. I ended up applying to a bunch of jobs as I still had no idea what I wanted to use my business degree for or what online business I truly wanted to start, but I got approached by a real estate investing company & landed a sales position.
Granted I had no experience or knowledge in real estate investing but heck I was willing to try it out. So there I was smiling + dialing calling & calling a bunch of leads on an excel sheet. My job was to essentially talk to people about their current positions, financial situations, their goals, & why they wanted to get into real estate investing in the first place & then of course pitch various real estate investing packages. This was the position that opened my eyes to just how miserable people were in their jobs, how little people had in their saving accounts, & how the common theme between these 30- 60-year-olds was that they regretted not going after their dreams earlier on in life and how they felt trapped in their current situations.
After about 6 months in this position, I realized just how miserable I was. I could no longer keep working for managers who talked down to me, I couldn’t keep pitching packages I didn’t believe in, & I knew I didn’t want to end up in the same situation as the people I talked to on the daily.
And at this point in time, I was growing an interest in social media marketing so I ended up applying and getting accepted for a role at an Instagram Marketing company. Looking back now, it’s hilarious to me that I got hired for this position cause while I had an Instagram account I barely used it, I really had no knowledge of Instagram marketing, & I barely even knew what the heck a hashtag was at the time of my interview. But, I was determined to learn the ins and outs of Instagram Marketing & I sold the crap out of myself in that interview. I dove headfirst into learning everything I possibly could about Instagram, how to market oneself on the platform, & I ended up giving hundreds of Instagram consultations to small business owners each month.
Now I should also note here that my role was to also onboard these clients’ accounts onto a growth software and by growth software I mean a software that does the whole follow & unfollow method on behalf of a client’s account. I realized that while I loved the Instagram consulting side of the position, I didn’t love getting the non-stop angry emails + phone calls whenever the software followed explicit accounts, whenever Instagram went down or made changes (and therefore the software glitched), or when a client wasn’t growing as fast as they thought they should. As I gained more experience and worked with the company longer, I recognized just how much this whole follow and unfollow method actually did not benefit one’s account and also just how consumed people were by these vanity metrics. Instead of focusing on things that truly mattered like building a brand, nurturing relationships, & converting followers to clients… most of these business owners were more focused on competing in this whole online popularity contest.
One day, I hopped on a call with a lady who was absolutely furious with the software, she was taking her anger out of me, and was using me as her personal punching bag. I remember looking around my ugly grey cubicle and thinking “what am I doing here, and how the crap do I get out of here”? That was the phone call that made me realize I could no longer take the constant anxiety that job caused, that I wanted more out of life than working a 9-5, and that I finally needed to take the leap and start pursuing my own online business. So I did, I talked with my boyfriend at the time and I was like ok I’m going to finally move to Virginia so you can pursue your dreams of working for the coast guard, we don’t have to do long-distance anymore, & I can start working on my online business.
I put in my 2 weeks notice (which scared the crap out of me) and I ended up moving 3,000 miles to live with him. I got a part-time babysitting position and I dove headfirst into all things courses, podcasts, coaching, and furthered my business education. Long story short, just 3 days before Christmas eve, I found out he had been cheating on me. Now if you have ever been cheated on you know the indescribable pain that comes along with this. I remember feeling so utterly betrayed, so blindsided, and quite honestly so stupid for moving across the country for this guy. I truly never thought that the thing that I had read about in magazines as I waited to buy groceries, the thing I had seen in tv shows & movies, would one day happen to me.
The night I found out, I immediately packed a suitcase, called my sister (who lived about 20 min away), & I took an uber to her apartment. After days of being a zombie, crying my eyes out, & laying on her bathroom floor for hours on end… my sister finally said “Shannon why don’t you just book that flight to Bali”. Because ever since I came across that FB Ad my senior year of college, I had always wanted to launch my own online business & travel to Bali. That was the moment I said “why the heck not”, I truly had nothing to lose & it was finally my chance to put my dreams first instead of someone else’s.
I ended up booking a one-way ticket, I went back to our apartment, packed up all my things, & I got on that plane to Bali. Now when I boarded that plane, I was probably the most depressed I had ever been. I remember trying so hard just to hold it together and not ball my eyes out, and I blasted Lizzo the entire flight just to get me through it. When I finally did get to Bali at 1:00 am, I remember looking around me as people were exiting the plane and seeing all of these families, couples, and friends traveling together and feeling so utterly alone. I didn’t know a soul in the country, I had no plans for how I was going to make this business work, & I had no idea what was about to happen next…. aka a global pandemic.
I arrived in Bali at the very end of January 2020 so I had about a month before the pandemic really hit and the wave of panic began. At this point, I was leveraging the skills I had learned from working at the Instagram marketing company and I was giving a ton of Instagram consultations away for free just to build up my brand + social proof. When March came around and thousands of tourists fled the country, I made the decision to stay (which I am SO thankful for).
I built up my business in the middle of a pandemic, I spent months trying to get my first client (it did not come right off the bat), & I ended up giving Instagram marketing consultations and strategies to small business owners. From there, I pivoted to coaching where I helped early-stage VA’s, SMM, & Designers get visible, market themselves online, & ultimately helped them pursue their version of the laptop lifestyle.
The truth is, I’m not some overnight success & I certainly don’t claim to have everything all figured out. I’ve pivoted my business so many times and even dove back into Social Media Management because I realized A) I have a huge passion for helping small businesses market themselves online, and B) I realized that in order to help social media managers (aka you guys) to the very best of my abilities, I need to still be practicing what I preach. So that’s exactly what you can expect from The Tropical Social Podcast moving forward. Me sharing with you my knowledge when it comes to all things marketing yourself online, the real and raw stories from me and fellow guest experts, the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, & ultimately me being there in the thick of it with you as we build and scale our businesses together.
Looking back now, getting cheated on was truly the worst and best Christmas present I could have ever received. It was the kick in the butt I needed to wholeheartedly pursue my own dreams, to put myself first, & to stop letting my own fear get in the way. My hope is this episode has given you the motivation to take the reins of your own life, to pursue your own dreams, live the laptop lifestyle however you see fit, & take advantage of how many doors social media marketing can truly open for you. Cause gosh, it has opened a ton of doors for me.
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The podcast for early-stage social media managers who are looking to stand out online & live the laptop lifestyle. Whether you want to work online + live abroad, road-trip across the country, or simply be your own boss from the comfort of your home, The Tropical Social Podcast is here to help you do just that!
Tips/tricks on all things social media marketing, living the laptop lifestyle, and building an online SMM business. You can expect these weekly goodies in your inbox every Thursday!