CASE STUDY # 1 - Social Media Manager School I’m also working on creating an animated explainer video

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  • CASE STUDY # 1 Starting Part Time into Full Time A Focus on Training and Consulting

  • Meet Sarah Zeldman Website:

    Sarah Zeldman is a highly experienced professional in the fields of technology, online marketing and social media management. Sarah’s business consulting expertise has been instrumental in helping business owners and entrepreneurs realize their goals of increasing sales by utilizing her proven strategic online marketing campaigns.

  • After I graduated from University, I went for another degree to become a Sign Language Interpreter. During my training, I developed a repetitive stress injury (like carpal tunnel). It got very bad and I was told that I needed to find a new profession. (As my favorite Yiddish saying goes, “People makes plans and God laughs”.) I came from a long line of entrepreneurs and so decided to start out on my own.

    In the late 1990’s, I decided to become a Life Coach. While doing my Life Coach Training, I stumbled on a website that said that they could teach you to sell any product or service over the internet (these were the days before Google and Facebook). So I bought the training system which consisted of two huge set of binders and 3 VHS cassettes about Internet Marketing. I devoured them -- and I've never stopped learning about internet marketing since then.

    Later, I moved to Canada with my family. I couldn’t work in Canada right away, but I could work online. I started a blog and was doing affiliate marketing, podcasting, and selling information products. I was only doing it on the side because my husband was ill and I had 2 small children at home. I had a little bit of success but I wasn’t doing it full time. But then I had a big life change when my husband died. I knew I had to support myself and life coaching was a hard sell, so I decided to help companies with marketing.

    I got lucky when I went to register my business. The woman at the organization - the Vaughan Business Enterprise Center (like SBA in the US) - asked me to speak. I taught several different classes (Website Design, SEO etc.) and then they wanted me to teach business owners how to use social sites like LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.

    What is your background? QUESTION # 1

  • When I first started my business, I initially tried to offer everything under the sun including SEO, website design and more. I found I didn’t like offering website design and SEO because it changes too often.

    As I was teaching at the organization, I had people who couldn’t come to the training and wanted me to come to their office to train them in how to use Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. And I found that I got the best feedback when I was doing social media training - and that’s what I enjoyed the most so about five years ago, I shifted my business to focus solely on social media training and consulting.

    Lesson Learned: Look for where you are getting the best feedback and what you are enjoying. Work from your strengths.

    Now things have evolved. I did originally organize my own training sessions for small business owners at the Chamber of commerce. I found that, though it did attract private clients, as well as the people in the classes, the price points weren’t enough to justify my efforts.

    I specialize in educating and empowering companies to handle the social media marketing in-house. I focus on consulting and training at larger companies.

    Even though I want to help everyone, including the struggling small business owner who needs Social Media Training, I have learned that you can’t make a difference, if you can’t make a living. So my goal is to charge the “big boys” the big bucks -- and help small business owners in other ways.

    When did you start your business and how did you add Social Media Management into it?

    QUESTION # 2

  • In addition to delivering training packages, I work with clients as a consultant on retainer.

    I do industry research, create the strategy, train the staff, oversee the implementation of the plan, analyze results, troubleshoot, develop new strategies -- rinse & repeat.

    I love doing this kind of work. It’s easy, fun, flexible and profitable -- if you find the right size companies that are used to hiring consultants on retainer.

    Though I have worked with many different kinds of businesses, I have developed two specialties:

    Industrial B2B companies I like this challenge. They are an emerging market and they can’t really outsource it to agencies so they want someone more “in house” to train the employees work together as a team to manage it themselves. They need someone to create the strategy, train the team, oversee the implementation, troubleshoot etc. It’s a role I love to fulfill.

    Social Media for Non-Profit Organizations There’s nothing better than using social media for social good! Often these organizations can’t or don’t want to outsource social media marketing, so I do the same thing that I do for the B2B companies. I create a strategy, train the employees, oversee implementation, analyze & troubleshoot. I really enjoy teaching them my “Six A’s” of non-profit posting, and other industry specific tips.

    Continued…QUESTIO N

    # 2

  • The worst advice I got was “Don’t stop and plan - just go out and get clients.” It was a mistake. I had a hard time knowing when I was off-track because I never visualized what the track should look like.

    Also, later I figured out that what they really meant was, “Don’t get stuck in over-planning.” That is good advice, but you also need to know where you are going. Clarity is the one thing you can never have enough of.

    Also, I struggled in dealing with the “Impostor Syndrome.” Feeling like you’ll never know enough, and how can you call yourself an expert if you don’t know "everything" about social media. I’ve gotten over that. I know more than most people and no one can know everything in this constantly-changing field.

    If someone asks me a question I don’t know the answer to I just say “That’s a great question. I’m not sure, but I’m going to research it and get back to you.” Then I usually crowdsource the answer by posting the question in your Social Media Manager School Facebook group! (LOVE THAT GROUP!) Impostor Syndrome? I’m over it.

    Most of the time, my business grows by referral, but occasionally, it can slow down. It can get scary in the downtimes and I sometimes consider looking for a “regular job” but I know my kids need me to be available and flexible - - so I continue to work and have faith that I can make this work.

    What were some of your early challenges?

    QUESTION # 3

  • I wasn’t in a rush to be profitable. I had a bit of a cushion and my children came first and I put them as my priority. It really took me a few years to ramp up fully. I was still dealing with my husband’s death, so it took awhile.

    How long did it take you to be profitable in your business?

    QUESTION # 4

    Approximately how much did it cost to start up your business?

  • The amazing thing is the start up cost is VERY low for this business. Just make sure you stay very focused and don’t buy every tool and every book or program that you think you might want.

    Start up costs can be so extremely low and you can work out of your house and keep costs down.

    Approximately how much did it cost to start up your business?

    QUESTION # 5

  • There are so many ways to get new clients - the first thing I would do is check in with your own personality. If you are extrovert like me, then public speaking and going to networking events can be great. If you are introvert then focusing on your own online marketing might be better.

    I’m often the shoemaker with holes in my shoes not keeping with my own social media. (As I understand from our group, I’m not alone!)

    A lot of my clients come through word-of-mouth and speaking engagements, so other than that I wasn’t doing anything in particular to get new clients.

    Recently I realized I needed to drum up new business and so I’m following up on old leads (Uh...that’s an area I need to improve in...follow up..). I’ve also been working on identifying businesses in my area that could benefit from my services and I’m going to do a little “cold” calling.

    I’m also working on creating an animated explainer video that offers a unique package. It’s designed to generate some quick cash for me, but I’m also expecting some of those customers to convert to consulting clients on retainer.

    Unless you are an extreme introvert, just go to networking meetings and meet people.

    What advice would you give for getting new clients?

    QUESTION # 6