Raking it in without
breaking your soul

When I Used Paid Ads

For the very longest time, I thought paid ads were for people who hate money. Business is good, I thought, I don’t need to PAY people to get me more clients.


I’m a data nerd. I love to run an experiment and see what happens.

So now here we are, on the other side of a lengthy ad campaign, analyzing the results.

Up to this point, my main marketing strategy has been organic. Meaning, if people find me, it’s through something I made on my own, like a blog post, a YouTube video, or even word of mouth.

Organic marketing is a PUSH.

You push your content out there and hope to the heavens that (step 1) it’ll land with the right people and (step 2) they’ll want more from you.

Paid advertising is a PULL.

You identify your target audience and put your ads right in their faces, actively pulling them into your orbit.

Like Paula Abdul and MC Skat Kat, these two opposite forces can work magic together.

If you take a strategic approach.

While there’s no one right way to market, Liz at LLY Communications is a genius at figuring out a strategy specific to each client that produces the biggest bang for your buck.

Early on in our work together we noticed something huge:

When we posted ads for one of my online courses, it didn’t get much engagement. Few people clicked, fewer people signed up. Each signup, therefore, was pricey.

When we switched the ad strategy to focus on something free, like one of my blog posts, engagement went up. A lot.

Which makes our ad strategy relatively inexpensive, but puts more emphasis on that potential client’s post-ad-click journey.

This means (for us, anyway, at this particular moment in time) the real work comes in taking people from reading a free blog post to enrolling an online course. Seems like a situation with high creep factor. Shall we blast a pop up over the blog post? Ew, so annoying.

Strong organic content is the magnet that keeps people in my orbit.

Paid ads are like your billboard and organic content is like your famous brick chicken recipe that keeps everyone coming back.

Liz could tell my organic content was strong because of:

  1. The size of my clean email list
  2. The open rates for my emails
  3. How many of yall write me back (this is my favorite part)
  4. Website hits on my blog posts
  5. The sheer number of blog posts I’ve written over time

Do you see indicators in that list that reflect both quantity and quality? That’s a strong organic content game, Honey.

Once I had pulled people into my orbit through the ad, I was able to keep them there, exploring my website, reading other organic content, signing up for my newsletter, getting curious about my online courses.

Companies who don’t have strong organic content have to sink a ton more in paid advertising because they need to get way more eyeballs since they’ll convert a far smaller percent into actual customers due to no magnet. Make sense?

I can really only speak for my own experience here (though this likely applies to you, too): Investing the time and energy into organic content is critical.

Hold that free class.

Start that newsletter.

Fire up that podcast mic.

Launch that YouTube channel.


It takes a while to build up the breadth and depth of organic content that acts as your track record of being stunningly helpful. This is absolutely about playing the long game.

One day, when you’re ready to PULL, you’ll have magnets in place that prove to your potential customers that you’re not just some flashy wannabe influencer. Your concrete organic examples will show your value and make people wanna stick around. That’s how people will know you’re the real deal.

The Secret to Social Media

Actually, this is the secret to pretty much anything.

Show up. Consistently.

That’s it.


The secret isn’t to write 365 homerun tweets that go viral. No one can do that. It’s a bar set too high – so high it’ll intimidate you into never ever hitting Send.

Accept the fact that much of it will be meh.

Like any bell curve, most of your posts are going to be perfectly fine. Some will suck. Occasionally, you’ll knock it out of the park.

Some days I write posts that get hundreds of interactions.

Some days I clearly missed the mark.

Most of the time, my posts are somewhere in the middle. Good, not viral.

By the way, that popular post and that least popular post took about the same amount of time to write. I’ve seen zero relationship between the time you take to develop your social media content and how much it resonates with your audience.

So don’t overthink it. Don’t be a perfectionist about it. Just show up, consistently.

While you’re there, respond to some other folks. That way, you’re showing up in their comments, not solely expecting them to come to yours. Spend 10 minutes on this.

Then get off. Cause too much social media is bad for your mental health.

Same thing for newsletters.

Be there on a consistent basis.

In fact, Steph Smith wrote a reassuring article about how greatness is really just being good, repeatedly.

Consistency is the hard part because it’s soooooo easy to give up when your new podcast only gets 6 downloads. It’s much more difficult to trust the process for a little longer and keep editing future episodes.

Here’s what I mean:

Say you were to visit my data visualization blog and see that my last post was June 2022. And the one before that was from 2021. At your most gracious, you might think “Wow she’s got so much work she can’t even dedicate time to her blog.” But on a typical day, you’d likely conclude that I just gave up on my little side project.

It would be a signal that I couldn’t see something through (like, not only did I give up on the blog but I also didn’t bother to remove the withering thing from my site, like some skeletal succulent abandoned in a windowsill).

But if you come to my blog and see I’m consistently sharing good ideas every two weeks, you begin to see me as a reliable resource. Someone who can be trusted.

Trust builds connections. And connections get you contracts.

Showing up consistently keeps you top of mind. So when your boss says “hey I think it’s time we get some data visualization training” I’ll be the person you think of because I’ve shown up in your inbox with good ideas every two weeks for years.

Yep, it’s a long game.

But you can’t show up consistently everywhere, all the time. You can’t be running 100 different long games. That’s a burnout maker.

Which means you have to be choosy about where you want to put your energy. Pick one direction. Put it in your calendar. And go.

What have you chosen? Where are you showing up consistently and playing the long game? Send me a link so I can ride shotgun.