As the CEO of VaynerMedia, it has been an enormous goal of mine to be able to share our learnings from working with Fortune 500 brands to help grow smaller companies and help entrepreneurs.
It’s part of the reason we created VaynerMedia’s Daily Digital Deep Dive (4Ds).
In 4Ds, we take attendees “under the hood” of VaynerMedia — both analyzing the work we do for some of the biggest brands in the world, and showing how those tactics can help small to medium businesses.
Our most recent “Post4Ds” article featured Joe Mullings, the founder of a recruiting firm that grew sales by building brand on platforms like LinkedIn.
Today’s interview is with Jasmine Star from JasmineStar.com. She’s a photographer who built a business around giving entrepreneurs tools to grow their social accounts and their businesses..
After 4Ds, she ended up building a new product and revenue stream that did seven figures in the first 12 months.
Here’s her story:
Can you tell us a bit about your background and what your business is about?
I dropped out of law school in 2005, and had his crazy dream that I wanted to be a photographer.
But there was one problem:
I didn’t own a camera.
In early 2006, I went out and bought a camera. By 2009, I was voted one of the top photographers in the world by American Photo Editors.
It was insane. I couldn’t even believe it when the article came out.
Naturally, people wanted to know what happened between those years – especially how I built my personal brand and got name recognition. That’s when I started sharing photography tutorials, marketing tutorials, blog posts, videos, and more.
Then, in 2016, my Instagram and Facebook accounts exploded.
People would ask me how I was using Instagram to grow my business, so I created my first digital course on how to use Instagram for business, and sold it for $197. It was a 15-hour video course.
That generated a seven figure revenue stream for us.
But even though it did really well, it just didn’t feel in alignment with me or who I was. I didn’t want to sell information that people could just Google. I wanted to build a business where I gave people actual tools to solve their problems.
After 4Ds, I created a resource called Social Curator, a membership program where people would pay $30 / month to get access to pictures, templates, captions, etc that they could post on their Instagram feed. And I started giving away all my information for free.
Today, Social Curator has grown to over 6,000+ members.
What did you expect from 4Ds coming in?
A lot of people might know automatically that 4Ds is exactly what they need and that they need to hit the “buy” button right away.
But personally, I’m a small business owner. I listened to all of Gary’s podcast content and read all his books, but I was intimidated by all the things his was doing on a day-to-day basis.
When I visited the 4Ds page for the first time, it was just a checkout for a $10k+ ticket. I don’t think there was even a real website associate with it. I was asking myself, “am I getting punked right now? Is this legit?”
As I got to learn more about the program and watched the 4Ds videos on YouTube, I thought to myself if I’d be able to generate at least $10k in revenue after going to the event. And in my mind, there wasn’t much doubt that Gary and the team would deliver.
So I invested in it.
I ended up going to a 4Ds event in 2017. I went in without an agenda. I’m pretty familiar with Gary’s content, but I wanted to have an in-person experience because I wanted to understand Gary’s team and his vision on a deeper level.
I didn’t go in thinking that I needed to learn XYZ to grow my business. I was thinking, “I’m going to stay open to everything and see what I can get out of it.”
What was the most impactful thing you learned?
After going to 4Ds, I have a much greater understanding for how Gary values culture and how he thinks about it.
He talks about culture a lot in his podcasts and interviews, but when you hear it from Gary and Claude Silver (Chief Heart Officer at VaynerMedia) in person, you really feel it.
They talked about the holistic approach that they take to caring about their employees which really resonated with me. I don’t have a big business yet, but if I aspire to get to that level, I need to bring in someone who is a “culture creator.”
I walked away with a deep understanding that the most valuable asset I have is my team.
The other big thing that happened after 4Ds was that I completely shifted focus in my business. 4Ds was a clear unveiling that my path wasn’t to continue monetizing my information. It was to share information for free, and monetize on the back end by providing tools that allow people to actually “show up.”
Hearing the same message from Gary really solidified it for me.
We pulled back from monetizing education and built a new revenue stream in our business with Social Curator.
Within 12 months, it was doing seven figures.
Hearing the words from Gary through podcasts, videos or articles is one thing. But seeing him and his team in person and how their actions reflect their words really makes the message “click” in a whole different way.
It gave me the confidence I needed to change direction in my business.
Were there any “non-quantifiable” results that came from building your brand?
I saw a lot of benefits that came from positioning myself differently in a crowded marketplace. For example, there are so many people out there selling Instagram courses and products. But after the program, I learned how to position myself as someone who provides you with the tools to “show up” and execute.
It wasn’t a positioning strategy I made up. It’s something that played entirely to my strengths. I’m a writer, I understand marketing, I’m good at social media, and I love helping other people out in building their businesses. So I repositioned my business to reflect that.
My product kind of became a “creative Netflix” for entrepreneurs who want to grow their business. It became something that nobody else had ever created.
It positioned me as someone who could talk about these topics from a very different point of view. It’s part of the reason why I’ve been interviewed by companies like MSNBC, Forbes, Entrepreneur.com, and more.
If you come from a creative field, you tend to lead with your talent or an “end result” (like a photo, a graphic, etc).
But after 4Ds, I pivoted my brand to lead with me. I felt a lot more empowered to go in that direction and position the brand around myself in an unapologetic way.
What did you think of the team?
Everybody was super professional and set the bar very high. They were even willing to introduce me to other people in other parts of the agency who weren’t even affiliated with the 4Ds event.
The team is always trying to find ways to help you even 1-2 years after you finish the program — whether that’s meeting with you and answering questions, introducing you to the right people, or anything else.