I’m currently processing what happened during my recent ABC launch, and also my overall relationship to social media, and what those two things mean for my business moving forward.
Since transparency is my jam, and also because one old line of social programming I choose to rebel against is that I should try to hide my failures lest you think less of me (because failing is proof that I am less worthy of respect, kindness, and belonging), I’m gonna open up to you about what’s going on.
So, this last program launch, which actually went beautifully in every other possible way I could have wanted it to, completely failed to make a profit.
The Authentic Body Confidence program has always been a passion project, something I absolutely adored creating, enjoy tinkering with to improve, and genuinely love running. It is, in so many ways, the absolute height of my work on body image.
The first few years I ran it, I didn’t find it particularly difficult to fill the group. I simply told the people who had agreed to hear from me (via social media and email) that it existed, and a group formed.
But it’s been getting more and more difficult to reach those people who agreed to hear from me thanks to a variety of changes, and it seems to simply no longer be financially viable.
When I ran a similar launch back in January 2019, the process was messy and hard. I felt confused and depressed, because my accounts had recently been shadow-banned for breaking the community guidelines with “sexual poses, nudity, and/or sexual content,” and couldn’t reach anyone with my content. My website regularly got blocked from facebook and/or instagram, and I’d get banned from my accounts for breaking some vague community guideline.
It’s worth noting that every time this happens, I appeal it, and every time, they let me back in– because I don’t actually break any guidelines. I seem to either be flagged by autobots, or FB responds to people who are offended by something I post… which means that my accounts are constantly being penalized and down-regulated for no reason.
Not to mention I get messages constantly from followers saying things like “I never get your emails anymore, but I want them!!” only to find that a massive portion of my emails go straight to people’s junk/spam folders, due to changes in filtering software, spam policy, and a variety of other factors over the last few years, which mean that way too many people who want to get my content never do.
As you can imagine, this is very fucking frustrating.
I decided to run my own business, in part because I am a highly independent person who likes to do things her own way. I thrive on the unconventional, and I don’t take kindly to having my autonomy regulated or limited. I like to be the one in charge of what I create and how I create it, and I figured– this is perfect! Working for myself means I can be my most authentic self, because there is no boss telling me how to do shit!
And for several years that was true. Social media was fun, and connective, and it gave me a place to sharpen my thinking and writing skills.
But now it’s become my boss. The Facebook monopoly (IG included) and filtering software decides who I can reach, and when, and with what kind of content. They decide what is “too sexual” of a pose, “too naked” of a body, or “too controversial” of a take on something socio-political.
The FB monology gets to up-regulate multi-million dollar corporations, and completely bury everyone else, and they have turned social media, especially instagram, into an addictive marketing, shopping, and influencing platform. People go there to see what they should buy, whether they realize it or not, and to see what they’re missing out on. The whole thing has become rather toxic.
But I figured… this launch I’ll go all in, market properly, and run ads. That’s what they want us to do, after all, and I figured I’d see how it went. So I hired people, and invested.
Interestingly though, the platform has become so saturated by now with guides, coaching, business advice, free education, and a litany of intimacy-and-vulnerability based marketing tactics… that I think people no longer really pay attention.
There has been a notable shift from a mindset of “this person knows a lot and I’d like to work with them” to “this person knows a lot so I’ll passive consume all their content.” There is a belief now that we can do anything ourselves with enough free content, and we don’t need to pay people to help us.
Anyway, all of this means that despite months of intensively organizing, writing, and editing launch material, hiring people to organize and run ads for me, spending thousands of dollars on the ads themselves, creating a free program to lead into the launch, and then running both the free program and the launch itself… I basically broke even.
So I wonder what I should do next. In truth, I wonder what we should all do next, since this is a major cultural shift, but I’m focused on myself and my business atm.
I get tons and tons of feedback about my free work, my social media posts and youtube videos and emails and blog posts. People tell me those things have changed their lives, their marriages, their businesses, their confidence, their relationship to their bodies.
I spend about 10-15 hours per week creating and engaging in free content, for two reasons. The first is that a long time ago I decided it was my mission on earth to fight against toxic social norms, change the cultural conversation, and set people free. (Yay!)
The second is that I am trapped. (Boo.)
At this point, I don’t feel like I have a choice. If I want to continue running an online business, FB owns my ass, and I have to play the game according to their rules. But that doesn’t feel right.
So I’ve made a few decisions for now. As I said, I’m very much in the middle of the process, but this is where I’m at right now.
I will no longer be running ABC. It just doesn’t seem to be what people want. This decision breaks my heart deeply, because I love the material and believe in the group format so much, but I just can’t justify spending the time and money to launch it again. I’ll try to figure out a way to re-package it somewhere else in the future, but for now it’s being taken off the shelf.
I’d like to encourage you to join my Patreon. If you get something out of my free content, and want me to continue making it, Patreon is the way. Don’t shy away just because the amount you can spend is too small– if each of my Instagram followers pledged just 50 cents per month, I would be able to stop marketing altogether, and devote all my time to creating free new material, projects, and resources for you. 😉
I think we are all in desperate need of less social media and more genuine connection and belonging. I’m considering a few options for how to make that happen, including live meetups in LA, monthly community video calls for everyone to share their stories and be heard, or digital group work for people working on similar topics but can’t afford private coaching. If you would be interested in any of these things, hit reply and let me know.
And also, just in general, feel free to hit reply and share your thoughts on any of this. I know I’m not alone in these issues as an entrepreneur, and I also know we’re all in this together as digital immigrants trying to figure out how to handle it all.
That’s why I’m looping you in.
Sending you all so much love,