Social media is more crowded than ever, so if you want to build a career that lasts you need to make the most of the opportunities you have.
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It seems that every day a new viral video star hits our collective radars with a funny rant. Most of these Facebook and/or YouTube sensations disappear after their 15 minutes of fame. A small percentage may carry on with a comedy career or a book deal. But, what Heather Land has done in the last year firmly establishes her not as a social media sensation but rather a talented comedian and true entrepreneur.
Land, also known as the “I Ain’t Doin It” Lady, skyrocketed in popularity after her “CrossFit: I Ain’t Doin It” rant surpassed 23 million views. In her one-minute sketches — which she initially posted as a dare — she uses the large mouth Snapchat filter, which modulates her voice and distorts her face. Does the filter add humor? Sure, but the clever writing clearly set Land up for lasting success. Talk about making the most out of an opportunity; she quickly landed a two-book publishing deal, a country music album currently in the top 100,000 of all Amazon paid albums, and launched a 30-city comedy tour. A smart entertainer, most of her work is owned and distributed by her own company, Landslide Productions. Now Land is offering her 2.5 million fans (and that’s just on Facebook) an upcoming Christmas tour, book release, book tour and another multi-city comedy tour in 2019.
Social media is more crowded than ever, and today’s viewer has a painfully short attention span and an even worse memory, so you have to wonder how she did so much, so fast, right? That’s what I asked her on her recent tour stop in Los Angeles. Here are my top few keys to success for the rest of us from my chat with her.
Give the people what they want.
Land had demand from the very beginning, when her private Snapchat friends encouraged her to post her videos publicly. Shortly after posting, bloggers asked to share her videos and encouraged her to set up a Facebook fan page for herself so they could tag her.
“[The page] went from 750 followers to 45,000 in about two hours. Then, from there, it’s just gone nuts. The truth is I didn’t even know I said ‘I ain’t doin it’ in the first video. I had to go back and watch it, I had no clue. People said, ‘Can you make more I ain’t doin it videos?'”
And make more videos she did, posting between one and three videos a week, each with the same format. While hilarious, the videos are relatively simple, even formulaic and predictable, put each gives viewers exactly what they want to see. Instead of trying to expand directly into her music or other writing, Land focused on what was working. If people are repeatedly asking you for a specific product, service or subject matter — give it to them! Plus, have the patience to stick with that offering, and be consistent, for months.
Bring others into your vision.
Land says a key to her success is being able to admit she didn’t know what to do next. After her CrossFit video passed the 20-plus million views mark, she was inundated with requests, partnerships, offers, etc. Land immediately recruited a close friend to partner with her and her business.
“Luckily, I had the right people in place and I was willing to listen to a lot of these business ventures that, I’m honestly not sure how to navigate. I can navigate the creative side. The business side is trickier for me, so I definitely think the key is that I have the right people around me.” She said giving up equity in order to grow quickly and stay creative was well worth it. If you want to capitalize on a tipping point, recruit help, and fast.
Stay flexible and be willing to experiment.
As any small-business owner knows all too well, there are a lot of hats to wear. Land shared that she, her business partner and her assistant wore all of the hats and rotated roles, experimenting with who would handle what.
“[My assistant] figured out where she lands. [My business partner] kind of figured out where he lands. In that process, we’ve been able to pull in people and say, ‘We thought we were good at this, but we’re finding that we’re really not, could you help us with this piece of the puzzle?’ So, we’re learning who to bring in by trial and error.”
Trial and error also included branding herself as a comedian, which she had never considered.
“People started emailing and texting and calling, wanting me to come and do events. I sent it to my assistant, asking, what are they wanting me to do? She answered, ‘Comedy,'” Land recalled. She continued, “I told her ‘I’m not a comedian. I don’t know how to do comedy.’ and she said ‘Well, you could either keep being a refinancer, or you can learn.’ So, right then, we sat and wrote out a two-hour comedy set together.”
She also stayed flexible by adding music to her brand, online merchandise, a tour, expanding content beyond her standard one-minute videos and more. If you are rigid with what worked to get you where you are, you won’t grow to the next level. Stay flexible and open to some risks, so you can expand quickly.
Strike while the iron is hot.
Book deals and a comedy tour came to Land, but she went out and created momentum in her now-budding country music career.
“I had a really good friend in Nashville who was a producer and so we were like, ‘Hey, let’s jump in there and make a record.’ We initiated that.” she explained. “Some things we go after, some things come in; either way we’re able to facilitate it and lay it out there and see what we need to do.”
Take care of yourself and your creativity.
After writing a two-hour comedy set, a music album and her first book, she admitted to feeling tapped out. She now builds in breaks and leans more heavily on her team for help. As the leader of your vision, realize that staying inspired, motivated, creative and productive — that is on you.
“I have to be responsible to not spread myself too thin, that’s key. I think I’m gonna have to take breaks, you know, just to rejuvenate.”
Do it afraid.
“Do it afraid” is a mantra of Land’s and a great reminder for all entrepreneurs.
“I actually put it on my computer at my desk while I was refinancing, ‘do it afraid.’ You don’t have to feel good about it, you don’t have to know how to do all the things, but whatever the thing is, do it afraid … Write a book afraid. Accept a double book deal afraid. What am I going to write about? I don’t know, do it afraid. Make a new record, afraid. Stand on a stage in front of 2,000 people and tell jokes, afraid. Parent my children, in this new career, afraid.”
She shared that choosing to quit her job, launch her business and truly embrace her new identity as a comedian was a terrifying risk.
“It was so scary, and I cried a lot. I said, many times, I cannot do this. But, a year later, it makes me cry right now a little bit, a year later, I’m realizing I can do it, and I am, and I’m not that shabby at it!”
Stay true to yourself and your vision.
Once you achieve massive success, you will be bombarded with opportunities, not all of which will feel authentic to you. Land’s biggest advice to aspiring creative entrepreneurs? Stay true tor yourself. Follow your dream, she said, but don’t lose yourself in that dream.
“You have to be true to who you are. I think that when we give in to what society wants us to be, we get off track. I haven’t turned into somebody new. This was always in me, I just didn’t know it … I’ve always been sarcastic. I’ve always been funny, essentially. So, now I’m just doing it on stage.”
Hear her talk about parenting, haters, wanting to give up and more in the full interview on The Kelsey Show.