Sarah: Hello, and welcome to the Excel against your podcast. Today I’m delighted to be joined by Alexis Bushnell, who is a social media guide and the founder of social media for humans. Welcome, Alexis. How are you today?
Alexis: Hi, hi. Yes, I’m good. Thank you. How are you?
Sarah: Yeah. Good. Thank you. And would you mind telling us a bit about yourself and what you do?
Alexis: Yes. Like you say, I’m Alexis Bushnell. My pronouns are she/her. And I am a social media guide, which basically means I work with people who tend to be neurodivergent. But I’ll work with anybody. But because I tend to work with people who are overwhelmed with social media who feel like the traditional advice isn’t working for them. I’m sure you’ve seen the traditional advice, just post more stuff, just be on more platforms, just spend your life creating content, don’t do your job, you know, just do social media. And so I work with people who are finding that like, they can’t do that it’s not feasible for them. Because they have to do their actual job. They don’t enjoy just churning out content, they maybe don’t like the platforms that they’re using. And basically, I work with them to find ways to use social media in a way that works for them that makes sense to them and their business, and it doesn’t overwhelm them and add endless things to their to do list.
Sarah: Fantastic. I think it’s probably very much needed. Because, as you say, the message out there is just to post, post, post and you have a job to do you have a business to run. And it’s impossible just to keep posting all day. Obviously, it sounds like you make your advice very individual for the person who is doing it. Is there any general advice that you can give around social media? If you don’t want to be posting all the time? Is there a way of changing your mindset, so you don’t feel like you have to?
Alexis: I think a lot of it, like you say, is a mindset thing, and it is trying stuff, which tends to be what I say to everybody, when people say even in my membership, or if I’m working with someone one on one, and they’re like, Well, should I do this? Or shall I do that? And I say try it, try it, see, see what works for you. Because it depends on your own audience, it depends on how your business is set up, it depends on so many different things. So, the best thing you can do is give stuff a try and see what happens. Because, especially when it comes to sort of like outreach engagement and posting engagement, focus posts, rather than just promoting all the time. One of the things that people come to me and saying, like, I really hate social media, you know, I just post something, it’s crickets, nobody wants to talk to me, bla bla bla bla. And I say, like, well, have you tried like posting an intro post, you know, put a picture of your face out there. You know, explain a little bit about yourself, get people to share a bit about themselves. And people are always surprised when it does well. And then they get comments that like, Oh, it’s lovely to see you, you know, you look like a lovely kind of person. You look really friendly. I didn’t know this about you. Here’s a little bit about me. And they suddenly go, well, social media isn’t like the hellhole. And I thought it was there’s actually like real people who want to have conversations out there. But it is a case of actually just trying stuff because and allowing people to prove you wrong, basically.
Sarah: Fantastic. And it’s right, as social media should be a community, shouldn’t it rather than just posting and then forgetting about it, it’s about building up those relationships and having those conversations.
Alexis: Yes, exactly. It really is. And community is kind of the heart of what I teach. It really is finding your communities online, building your own community online, and engaging with it as a community and as a social thing, rather than I’m gonna post this stuff. And I’m gonna sell a million pounds worth of things because I posted, like, that’s just not how it works.
Sarah: I think it was a post that you wrote last week around, looking at your social media more as an experiment. Just putting something out there and seeing if it works, rather than, than seeing it as a failure or a success, just trying different things. And I love that aspect of it. It’s a complete mindset change. But it really resonated with me, because if you can see posting on social media as a bit of fun and a bit of an experiment, then you can try all different types of things and see what really works.
Alexis: Exactly, exactly. And I think the thing that a lot of the, shall we say, thought leaders in social media are the ones who are talking to business owners. A lot of them seem to have this attitude that there is this one size fits all. And that if you do this, and then this will happen or whatever. And actually, if you speak to social media managers, like the people who are actually doing social media for, you know, different clients and things, they will tell you like there, isn’t it you have to try stuff, partly because it depends, like I say on the audience you’re working with, on the business, on what your goals are for social media. And also Social Media is forever changing. There is no guarantee that, even if you found the “perfect social media strategy” for you, it would work for like a day. And then it would change. Because new things get added, things get removed, algorithms get shifted and tweaked. You’re never going to be perfect at social media. So give it up. And just sort of give it a go and try some stuff. Have some fun with it.
Sarah: Brilliant. I love that advice. And you say about putting your face on social media. If somebody feels a bit apprehensive about doing that, they don’t really like to have their face out there, is any advice that you could give them to have that courage to show their face on social media?
Alexis: Actually I have I have a tip podcast episode, little plug here, on getting on video. If you’re really nervous about video. But basically, it’s baby steps. I’m a big fan of baby steps. And I think if you can try doing video where maybe your face isn’t in it. If you do a job where you’re typing, if you’re knitting, if you’re creating anything with your hands, something like that, do a video where sort of see your hands are in it, but not your face. Or even if you go for a walk outside, go visit somewhere, do some video content where you’re talking over it, but you’re face, isn’t on it? It’s figuring out like where the block is for you, like what is it that you’re like, it it you don’t want your face on there, is it you don’t like your voice and how your voice sounds, is it you’re worried how you’ll come across, and then finding ways to gradually work up to that, because again, what people do tend to find is once they start doing it, people are lovely. By and large, even on the internet, people are lovely and supportive. And a lot of people find when they start posting videos or photos themselves. People really like it, they love it that they cheer you on, you know, they want to see you and they want to connect with you. So, if you can find those small baby steps that you can put out there and push yourself just a little bit. And then you get that response. It helps you to go, ‘Okay, it’s really genuinely not as scary, people aren’t gonna yell at me and call me this and say that about me’. They’re actually just gonna go, ‘you’re amazing. I love seeing your face, it’s so great to actually finally sort of see you and get a vibe off you or whatever it is’. Amazing.
Sarah: Thank you for that. That’s really great advice. And obviously, this podcast is for people with chronic illnesses. And I think people chronic illnesses have less time in general than other people to do the posting and to be out there on social media. Have you got any advice for somebody with chronic illness who’s got their own business and is just really struggling to get their face seen or get their posts out there?
Yeah, I think there’s a couple of things and one of them is repurpose your content, like I am a big fan of repurposing your content, whether that is literally just copy pasting it and have it like go out on a schedule of like every six months, just as the same post goes out or whatever it is. And whether that’s using blog posts, you’ve written, podcasts that you’ve done or videos you’ve created previously. Chopping them up differently, using different quotes from them. And just getting that out there. So, re-use your content, don’t think like, oh, I created this post. Now I can’t ever use it again, like you can. And also, the same with like images of media that you use with it, you don’t constantly have to have new images and new media, new videos and whatever. You can re-use stuff. So don’t be afraid to re-use stuff. Because that will make it a lot easier when you’re not staring at a blank content calendar and going oh no, I need like seven posts or whatever it is. You can just fill in whatever you need with reusable content. And also, do less. If you are setting yourself a goal of saying like, I want to do a post every day, or I want to do posts every three days even and you can’t do it, then don’t that change the goal. It is much, much, much better to be consistent on social media, ie posting once a week, or even once a month, if you can do that every month. That is to say I want to post three times a week. And then you do that one week and then the next week there’s nothing and then the next week there’s one thing it is much, much better to sort of be consistent less often than to set yourself up to fail basically
Sarah: Fantastic advice and I guess that if you if you set yourself a goal but make it on the lesser or the lower side so as you say, once a month or once a fortnight. You can always increase that once you get confident that you can deliver that. So, have a few months of doing consistently, and then you can up that slightly and just but keep it realistic with your condition and your business.
Alexis: Exactly. And this ties into repurposing as well. Because if you say you’re starting totally from scratch, you’re not really on social media at all, and you start doing one post a week, and you’re like, Okay, I’m going to post once a week, every week, in three months, you’re going to have a backlog of posts that you can then reuse. So you can start reusing those posts, and then maybe you can go up. You can continue creating one new post a week, but you will have two posts going out a week, because you will also have all the old content. So, it’s, it’s using what you’ve got both timewise effectively, and the actual content you’ve already got. And I think people are generally surprised as well about how much content they’ve already got that they can reuse. Because if you’ve been writing blog posts or newsletters, if you’ve been guests on podcasts, if you’ve created video content, there are so many posts that you can get from like one piece of content. So, you don’t even have to have like, hundreds of 1000s of back catalogue of whatever, you know, from one blog post, you can be getting 5,6,7, maybe more depending on how long it is, pieces of content that you can then use on social media. So, it is a lot of it I find for people is this sort of mindset block of like, but I shouldn’t be reusing content. I’ve already told people about this piece of content, they don’t remember.
Sarah: I guess it’s quite possible they haven’t even seen it the first time because it probably only gets shown to a small percentage of your followers?
Alexis: It really does. It really does. I like that. I like to play a little thought game with people. When they come at me with this, like ‘oh people, people will know that I’m reusing my content’. And I’m like, think about today. Or even yesterday, how many pieces of content do you actually remember that you saw on social media? Like, just like now? How many? maybe at a push five? Perhaps maybe because they were like your favourite creators or there was like a really great thing that made you think you don’t remember all the posts you’ve seen? Nobody does, people are seeing hundreds, thousands of posts in a day. They do not remember.
Sarah: And I also think something might not resonate with somebody one day. And then you might hear exactly the same thing a month later, and they’re in a different position. And suddenly it makes sense to them or resonates. And so, it’s definitely worth putting it out there again, isn’t it?
Alexis: Yeah, exactly, exactly.
Sarah: And I do love the idea of getting things like a blog post beginning of the month, and then using it for your content for the rest of the month. I think that’s such a brilliant idea. And it means that he doesn’t have to worry about it going forward.
Alexis: Yeah. And the other thing is, I find from like an accessibility point of view, repurpose your content in different formats. So, if you’ve done a blog post, and then you do like a social media post about it that’s got like text on the image or something, then do a video about it, then do stories about it, then use it in other formats. Because some people are using social media in different ways. And people take in information in different ways. So and the same as, like, if you’re doing a podcast, turn it into a blog post, you know, because people consume and learn in different ways. And so they more different ways you put it, the same content out there, the more people can actually listen to it, take it in absorb it. So, it’s better for, in my opinion, from an accessibility point of view as well, because more people can actually enjoy that content. And it’s less work for you. Absolutely anything, it’s less work because everybody wins.
Sarah: Brilliant, brilliant. And Alexis, I met you through the entrepreneurs against the Entrepreneurs against the Odds Facebook group. Are you happy to tell us about your health condition and how it affects you?
Alexis: Yes, yes, I have borderline personality disorder. So, some fun executive function things and some really wild reactions to stress, which work against social media. Pretty, pretty stressful sometimes, you know? Yeah, it’s, it’s a pretty fun time. Pretty fun time. Very sort of emotionally intensive. But yeah.
Sarah: Do you think that because of that condition, is that led you to starting your own business?
Alexis: Yes, it definitely did. I would never have started my own business. If I didn’t have BPD because I couldn’t work a “normal” job. I just couldn’t. I couldn’t commit to you know, showing I’ll be there Monday to Friday nine to five or whatever. Because if I woke up and I was just like massively depressed and I couldn’t even get myself out of bed. You can’t really phone in depressed, you know, especially as often as I can be, you know. So yeah, it was the only way really, that I could work a job at all. But I love it now. Now, I really do love it. And I never thought I would say that, because I never really saw myself as like a business person, or whatever. But I love that I can work around my own brain stuff. And if I wake up one day, and I’m really, really struggling, I just move stuff, you know, I don’t have to be like, well, I need to be working at this on this day at these times, I can work when I have the capacity to work. And then I can rest when I need to. And I can, you know, shuffle things around. And also I have the freedom to say like, I don’t want to do this, like this isn’t working or something, I’m not going to be able to actually do that for you. So here’s somebody else you could speak to, rather than trying to take on just like whatever anybody asks me to. So having that sort of freedom and flexibility has been just massive.
Sarah: Amazing. And I know you’re a very value-led business as well. Do you think having your own business allows you to follow your values and be intrinsically connected to them?
Alexis: Yes, yeah, definitely. I don’t know. Even if I felt like I was sort of mentally able to go to an employment position. I really don’t know if I would now because the longer I have worked, aligned with my values, the stronger I feel about them. And I don’t think I could now go into a job that I had to sort of check them at the door. Even just a few of them. I think I would just be that horrendous employee who’s like, No, this is wrong, you can’t do this, this is wrong. I want to speak to the boss, you don’t like these now you can talk to yourself, I don’t agree with this. We need to change the policy.
Sarah: And with regards to your health condition, are there any adjustments that you feel that you’ve had to make or had to learn to make with your business?
Alexis: Yes, tonnes, which is kind of why I ended up because when I started, I just I just did social media management. So, I did done-for-you social media, from other businesses. And through that, I really had to learn a lot of adjustments. So that I could do it because it is quite high stress job, there’s quite a lot of content to create if somebody is hiring you to create content. There’s a lot of talking to people and doing engagement and stuff like that. Because I freelance so I’m have like multiple different clients and trying to organise that and fit things in and everything. So, I had to learn quite quickly, a lot of work arounds for doing things. And that’s why I eventually kind of pivoted the business because I was like, hang on. I speak to like, I know a lot of business owners who are like, ‘Oh, social media is so hard because of all the reasons that I like, was struggling initially’, and had to put things in place and change how I did things. So why don’t I just like teach business owners all my hacks?
Sarah: That’s a great way of doing it. Because you’ve worked out how to do it in a way that works with you. And other people need to learn that as well. And how good are you at integrating self care into your daily life when you’re running your business?
Alexis: I am not to brag, but I think I’m pretty good. Now didn’t used to be then used to be at all. But um, yeah, I have. I have learned that is not a luxury. You know, if I would like to be able to work, I will have to be taking care of myself. It’s not really a negotiable thing. So yeah, now I am, I am pretty good at it. I have a very sort of long and slow morning routine. I sleep not the best at sleep, just not so late. I don’t get up until about half eight. And then I have a very slow, slow morning doing yoga, feeding the dogs, walking dogs, having a nice breakfast and a coffee and a read before I sort of actually start doing anything. Because also I find that that gives me time to sort of connect to myself as well, which is something I struggle with a lot. If I wake up and immediately try to do work stuff I take on everybody else’s everything, and I don’t have that connection to myself, and then I fall apart, which is not fun. Whereas if I have that sort of really slow morning, where I’m just like, very focused, it then allows me to know who I am before I start interacting with other people. So I don’t take that on as much. And I am currently working a four day week, which has been, I’m gonna say hit and miss, because I started at the start of the year. I was like, Okay, let’s do it. Let’s just do it. Um, and there have been several occasions where my best friend who I live with has been like, you are supposed to not be working today. And I was like, Yeah, but so there have been times. But by and large, I am finding it really good. And I am sticking to it more and more now. And the way I’ve kind of managed to do that is I’m kind of a planner, I need to know what’s happening. I need to know what’s going on. I’m not really somebody who can just sit down and do nothing, unless I feel really ill. So I found that sort of actually planning stuff for my sort of days off and downtime has been really helpful. And not specifically like going out and doing stuff. But even like, read, meditate, do an extra long yoga, like stuff like that. Just having basically having a to do list, for my days off has been really helpful. Because I feel like, okay, I know what I’m doing. I can work through my list.
Sarah: Fantastic. I love the idea of planning the stuff that makes you happy. I always talk about making sure you do that in order to fit it in, because I think a lot of times business can get in the way of looking after yourself. But I’ve never really thought about it as a day off thing where actually planning your self care actually gives you some sort of direction to the day. So I really like that idea of doing that.
Alexis: Yeah, I am really bad. Really bad at decision making generally. I used to say I hated weekends. And like if I took a week off work, and I would because like, you know, everybody’s like, Oh, you should take time off downtime is really important. And like, yeah, it is, but I would take a week off or a weekend off. And I would feel worse when I got back because I had literally just sat around doing nothing. And I felt like my body felt achy. And I hadn’t even like cooked proper meals. I don’t know what I’m supposed to be doing with my time. I don’t. And that makes me feel stressed. And that’s like, I hate time off. It’s the worst. This is ludicrous. So, since I’ve started kind of actually planning my time off and being like, here are things that I’m going to do on my day off, here are things that I like, this is why I’m taking some time off. That has been really, really helpful to me.
Sarah: It really helps to make sure you identify what you enjoy doing, and making sure you fit that into your time off as well. Because a lot of the time, we don’t spend time actually thinking, what makes us happy, what brings us joy, we just seem to just go through life without really considering that. So if you plan it, you have to have considered that. So that does make a big difference as well.
Alexis: Yeah, yeah. Something else I noticed actually, at the start of this year, was that some of the things I really enjoy are also really draining either mentally or physically. And I had not considered this at all. This was like brand new information to me. I am trying to learn chess and I really enjoy it. But I it is tiring. Like it takes a lot of brain space. And it is tiring. And to realise that actually some of the things that I really enjoy that make me happy, I enjoy doing them. It’s like yeah, this is awesome, also, are kind of battery depleting. This was really a revelation because it then allowed me to be like, Okay, I kind of organise my day now, but I have things that are battery recharging and things that are battery depleting so that I can kind of balance it out. And kind of doing it that way rather than having like, things that I enjoy and things that I don’t enjoy, made a huge difference. Because of that balance, because it was so tempting for me to be like, Okay, I enjoy learning chess. So I’m gonna spend three hours watching chess videos and playing chess and then I was exhausted. Okay, this is not working. Why is that? Turns out just because you enjoy it doesn’t mean that it’s recharging your battery.
Sarah: Absolutely. That’s a good Realisation to come to isn’t it as you can then adjust your life around it.
And if you have a bad health day or a bad health week, how do you deal with that in your business?
Alexis: I try, I try very hard to allow myself to take the day off and just move stuff. If I’m having a really bad week, I organise my To Do lists. My To Do lists, generally by priority and deadline and things. So I can easily shift stuff and be like, Okay, well, this doesn’t need to happen this week. So just get rid of it. It’s fine. But it’s like prioritising things. I’m very much somebody who’s like, it’s on my to do a list and has to have happened now. Like, it is urgent and important. And it needs to happen now. So yeah, a lot of it has been setting up my to do list in a way that I know actually what is urgent and what is important, like this needs to happen today, this actually needs to happen this week. And then being able to put the other stuff where I can’t see it, but it will come back in a week or whatever. So, I don’t have to hold it in my brain and be like, ‘Okay, I need to remember to do this’, I will come back to it later and then I can assess at the time whether I have the capacity to do this? No. Okay, can it be put off again? Great, cool. Let’s do that. Because I do find, a lot of the problems I have are due to being overwhelmed. And so if I have a lot on my to do list, I will just shut down. Like that will be the thing that’s like, ‘I just can’t do it’. So, I will just move stuff off my to do list. Generally, I will find that I will make it through my to do list and be like, ‘Okay, now I can go and find those tasks that I moved to do those as well’. That’s just been like allowing myself to go. Not everything needs to happen right now. So do the stuff that is actually urgent, important, really needs doing has a deadline, and leave the rest of it.
Sarah: Yeah, I agree. Totally. I think managing your to do list, so you don’t get overwhelmed is such an important thing when you’ve got chronic illness. And I think one of the issues a lot of business owners have is that overwhelm. And a lot of the time it is because you just put everything on your to do list, because there’s always a billion things to do. You never get to the bottom of a to do list. If you just brain dump everything, you can never get to the bottom of it. Because as a business owner, you’re doing the job of 1000 different other people. So yeah, managing it in that way is perfect, because you’re then in control and know exactly what’s important, and what you can put for another day. So that sounds that sounds great. And you say that you will postpone meetings or talking to clients, for example, when you are having a bad day? Do you talk to your clients about your health issues? Or do you tend to keep that to yourself?
Alexis: No, I’ve been very open about it on my social media. And I think it is easier now for me because most of my clients are either neurodivergent or chronically ill. They’ve got stuff going on themselves. So I am lucky (feels like the wrong word) that I just know a lot of like Ill people, but I am surrounded by a lot of people and I work primarily with people who get it. So when I when I email and say ‘I really I really can’t do this today, I just it’s not gonna happen. I’m very sorry’. The response is usually like, Yeah, that’s fine, I get it. But also, I think because of the way I respond, if people send me those emails of like, you know, I can’t do this because you know, can’t get out of bed today can’t do this today or whatever. Like, I’m like, that’s fine. Do you want to rearrange now? Or do you want me to get in touch in a week or do you want to get in touch? Like, how do you want to do it? And I think that makes a difference as well to kind of lead by example. If people know that you’re not going to judge them. They don’t tend to judge you. So yeah, yeah, I’ve just been really lucky.
Sarah: I think with clients as well as reassuring for people listening that you can say no, you can say I’m sorry, I’m not feeling up to it today. Because I think there’s always that fear that if we say I can’t do it, then they’re going to move on to somebody else and work with somebody else instead. And I don’t think that’s often the case. I think people are very understanding. But often it’s ourselves getting in the way of saying that because we are worried about people’s reactions.
Alexis: Yeah. Definitely. And I think as well, though we, we seem to have this fear that it’s really easy for them to just go find someone else. But realistically, they’ve probably spent quite a bit of time figuring out that like, actually, they want to work with you. It’s quite time intensive to go find somebody else and you know, get another quote, find out if they’re available, when they’re available if they get a good fit for you. So a lot of what is much easier to do is rearrange with you.
Sarah: Thank you so much for coming on the podcast Alexis. Where can everyone find you?
Alexis: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SocialForHumans