In this interview, I was happy to talk to Sue B. Zimmerman, also known as #TheInstagramExpert. Sue B. is a network ninja who teaches people to set themselves up for success online. She tells her story of how she went from passion to profits.
How did Sue B. figure out her passions?
Sue B. has been a passionate entrepreneur her whole life. She actually had 17 businesses before this one and has always loved selling and marketing but in a way that was kind of playing small as a small business owner. Three years ago she didn't know that this online space existed where she could share her passions with a global audience – until she attended Brendon Bouchard's 3 day conference, Experts Academy. All her entrepreneurial light bulbs went off and she thought: “Wait, I can do what I love and reach people everywhere, this is crazy! I want to teach Instagram.”
Sue B. had a small retail establishment on Cape Cod for 6 years and discovered the value of using Instagram as a marketing tool to bring people into the store. This past summer she closed the doors to focus full time on her online business.
After attending the Experts Academy, she realized none of the 800 people in the room understood how to leverage Instagram for business. She knew that she could stake her claim and really own this Instagram educational space to teach business owners. She started by propping up her iPhone on a tree while walking her dog in the woods. She created a YouTube video where she said, “I'm going to be the Instagram expert.”
How Sue B. discovered Instagram
Her teenage twin daughters were on their phones scrolling all day and Sue B. was getting frustrated when they didn't look at her when she talked to them. They told her they were on Instagram and warned her not to get on it because they new if she did, she would teach it. Up to that point, when she wasn't running her store, she had been teaching social media in the Boston area for about 8 years.
She pays attention to what here teens are doing and when she realized that Instagram was becoming a trend, she started using for her business. That was the summer of 2013 and summer sales in her store went up almost 40%.
How Sue B. got her confidence
Sue B. decided to rock it and own it like a girl boss. Confidence is not one of her challenges. She believes that the more you say what you want and how you want to be perceived in the world, the more you can manifest that.
She sees an expert as somebody who does what they love and other people talk about how great they are at doing what they do. For her that's a huge sign of success and that's really what's been happened in the past 3 years in speaking all over the world and helping thousands of business owners. People have success and they are the ones talking about Sue B. I claimed the name #TheInstagramExpert because Instagram Expert was taken so she decided she was going to be the Instagram expert.
How can people become experts like Sue B.?
Sue B. thinks anybody can do what they love with heart and passion, hustle and purpose and that there's a market for everybody's business. For Sue B., the key is honing in on that perfect avatar and figuring out who you want to serve. There are so many different markets and you don't want to go broad and be everything to everybody.
Sue B. doesn't want to be serving big brands because she can't stand how long it takes big brands to make a decision. Her ideal client primarily is women 35 and older who think that their kids know more than they do on social media. They have a passionate business and they really want to put their messaging in their voice out there in a big way.
When you know exactly who you're serving and when you go after that very hyper-focused market and they get results from your services and your products they start talking about you, endorsing you and you become that go-to person or that expert that they want to recommend.
[easy-tweet tweet=”Know exactly who you're serving and help them get results. This is how you become an expert. @suebzimmerman” user=”sigruncom”]
When she started teaching 3 years ago, there were 130 million active users. Today there are 400 million active users. If you're not here yet, you definitely want to join Instagram and if anything get your name, your business name and your personal name and do some market research. You can just watch what your competitors are doing, you can search and you can learn without overwhelming yourself. Sue B. recommends that you stake your claim and know that there are a lot of people coming on to Instagram who are not yet here and so you have time to really set yourself up for success and build an amazing community on Instagram.
First and foremost, you have to love what you're teaching. I mean hands down if the passion isn't there you're not going to feel it. Sue B. is a visual thinker and she derives so much happiness from my photos. Whether she's periscoping on video or if she shares a Snapchat story going or a visual story on Instagram, she is teaching her passion in a big way.
To create a business, first and foremost Sue B. thinks you personally need to have experience with whatever it is that you're teaching. She had that great success using Instagram for her store which validated who she is and how she teaches it because she teaches it from a point of how to get results as a business owner. A lot of people just say they are an expert at something and they have no experience with what they're teaching.
What does Sue B.'s business model look like?
Sue B. invested in a lot of great mentors, business coaches, and programs that really helped her elevate to get to where she is. She enrolled in Marie Forleo's B-School and worked with James Wedmore because she needed to learn video. She learned from James what she needed to do to set herself up for success in this online space. He suggested that Sue B. create a number 1 e-book and gave her the steps to do it. She created “Instagram Basics For Your Business” and it became a number one e-book.
You need that credibility to say that you're an expert at something and that was the easiest and the quickest way for Sue B.
From that e-book, she was able to message Michael Stelzner, the owner of Social Media Examiner, and say, “I would love to be on your virtual summit teaching Instagram”, because he didn't have anybody teaching at that time 2 years ago. He told her she was a little too late for the summit but invited her for a podcast interview. Because she was able to say to him, “I have a number one e-book and I run a store on the Cape and my sales increased,” she had some credentials behind it.
He interviewed her on his podcast (her very first podcast interview) and he taught her how to give a good interview and about all the right equipment. Michael told Sue B. she knocked it out of the park and said he wanted her on stage at Social Media Examiner Marketing World which is the best stage to be on for social media. This led to other opportunities to speak on other stages.
While that was going on, James also suggested that Sue B. create a bootcamp course to give away for free. So she created an Instagram course, it was weekly and sent it via email. Each week people would ask questions and she made sure to answer them the following week and they built out the content based on what people's pain points were.
After she did the bootcamp, she packaged it and sold it as a course which got 13 sales and helped her realize you can really sell something online that is a more passive product. She started with the e-book, then got on stages, created a course, it sold, it validated the demand for it and she that she had a community to sell to. Then she kept refining and improving and added more courses, did more webinars and added some other offerings.
One of Sue B.'s biggest revenue streams is still coaching. You grow with your business and you do what you love and when you hear over and over again that people need things, those are the products that you create. It happens in time, it does not happen overnight.
On finding passion and success
Sue B. recommends reading Simon Sineks' book Start With Why. You need to know why you wake up every day and do what you do. She has been fortunate because she started an entrepreneur when she was 13. She's been lucky and fortunate that her work honestly never feels like work.
She doesn't think about the weekend as being a different day than a weekday. She loves to help and serve other people have more success in their business because she knows that she can make a big impact. This is something she never felt before in any of her businesses. It's really magical when you can serve other people. She heard this over and over again from Zig Ziglar and all these quotes and she never really got it. And now, she thinks, “Oh my goodness, this is what he's talking about.” The feeling that you have that's so heart-centered when you have made a difference in somebody's life.
I love how you also say it so passionately. You're obviously, you have found your passion. Let's say someone has found their passion and they're just struggling to make it profitable. Was there in your business where you felt like it was difficult?
Sue B. loves challenges and has never really struggled financially. She never had to make money to pay for a bill and she thinks when people are in that state of mind it's very different than what she's going to share. Her struggles aren't financial, they came more from wanting to do a really good job and help as many people as possible every day.
So many people suffer and so many people are unhappy and it breaks her heart because you don't have to live that way and people just don't know how to get out of that dark hole. Sue B. wants to be that ray of sunshine to people struggling and often it just comes with her telling people you just do what you're meant to do and have the confidence to do it and not care about what other people think about you. Do it because you know in your heart that you're meant to be serving your gifts, creating your products or services. She thinks a lot of people just are afraid of doing it and thinking they're alone.
Sue B. thinks if you embrace this online business experience from a very organic place and don't feel like you have to rush to be so successful, to do 6 figures or 7 figures. If you embrace the process of learning, knowing that you're doing what you love and giving from the heart and helping other people with their pain points, success will come. It has always come for her when she approaches her businesses this way. It's just the unknown that's so frightening for people and for people that haven't quite reached that level of success.
What's happened and evolved at the SBZ enterprise is everyone knows her as the #TheInstagramExpert but she is so much more than that. You become known in one niche area which is really important and as your business grows and your experiences grow and you learn more and become more successful, there's more that you can teach.
Join Sue B's Instagram Training Program – Insta Results – to become a leader in your industry.
Sue B. is always accessible online so if you have a question, go on over to her favourite sandbox Instagram @SueBZimmerman or @THeInstagramExpert and leave a comment. Let her know that you came over from this interview.