Episode 142: How to Build a Business off Social Media With Shanna Skidmore

November 14, 2022


If this thought ever crossed your mind, you’re going to love today’s conversation. My guest today is Shanna Skidmore, a former Fortune 100 financial advisor who turned into a business consultant helping entrepreneurs dig through the data, optimize the metrics and get a firm grasp on the finances (something most of us don’t like to do). 

On top of all that, Shanna has also built her incredibly successful business and she’s done it off of social media. You read that right, she’s built a successful online business off social media. Is that even viable? Is that even an option? Did she sacrifice millions of dollars in doing that? Well, today we’re digging into it. We’re going to ask her all the questions about how she did it, when she made that transition, what it looks like and how you can do it too. 

Let’s dive into it!


[3:20] Social Media Independent Business 

After leaving her corporate career as a financial advisor, Shanna launched her business in November of 2013. By this point social media became more of a marketing tool, and Shanna found herself struggling with that, not only professionally but mentally as well. So in 2017, she decided to take a year off of social media. She had just launched her signature program and Instagram was bringing in 70% of her website traffic at the time. So, this was a big risk but she knew she wanted to figure out a more sustainable way to do marketing, and also a way that was more aligned with who she was and what she wanted to do. She noticed that she was spending on average 5 hours a week on Instagram so she decided to go off Instagram and Facebook and to use that time to focus more on her blog and Pinterest. And after 18 months, her blog and Pinterest were bringing in just as much traffic as Instagram was before. Now, she gets traffic from blogs she wrote five years ago. She unlocked a way of doing marketing that feels so much more sustainable and aligned. Today, her business is 100% social media independent.

[13:35] Detoxification Process 

These 18 months were not easy for Shanna. She explains that her biggest fear was that she would be forgotten, that her business would be forgotten.

As time passed, she soon noticed how addicted she was to her phone. She would pick it up randomly throughout the day without any reason. She also felt out of the loop the majority of the time. For example, when Facebook ads became really lucrative and people were using them to grow their company, she was just watching it all from the sidelines.  

But soon an amazing thing started to happen – people were reaching out to her via email and joining her email newsletter. She realized that she didn’t need social media to build brand awareness. What she needed was people coming to her website and getting on her email list so that she could stay connected with them and build relationships. This was the kind of marketing she was after, because for Shanna it’s all about the strength of relationship she has with her audience.

[24:20]  The Vulnerability of Social Media

From a marketing perspective, social media is such a vulnerable marketing tool. I’ve had clients who are influencers with million followers, where one day the algorithm changes and they lose a half a million dollars in income overnight. They have no control over it. And they’re completely enslaved to the process. They have to be on that device because that’s how they make their money. 

Shanna explains that every business needs a marketing funnel. Everybody needs a way to bring new leads into their business and to warm up those leads and turn them into customers. Your goal should be to get leads on a platform you own aka your website and email list. Having an email list allows you to directly communicate with your audience knowing that a big percentage of them will see it. Social media is just one tool in our era of business, so if you use it you need to get strategic and smart. Find out what form of content works best for you (text, audio, video), and create content and get your audience to your website. That way if the algorithm does change or if social media completely goes away, you’ll be okay. 

[33:28]  The Phased Approach 

If all of this made your ears perk up and you’re considering going off social media or growing a social media independent business, here are some key lessons Shanna learned along the way:

  • Know your “why”. Growing your business without social media is slow. Growing a blog, SEO, organic traffic, all of that takes time and you just have to be willing to do the work. And this is why it’s important to have a really strong “why”.
  • Create a plan to start a different form of marketing today. Whether it’s blogging, a podcast, a YouTube channel, whatever it is – try to include one new way of marketing that’s not social media and try to get it to outpace social media. 
  • Workflow your social media. If you’re going to get on social media, set a timer. Don’t lose hours scrolling, instead spend 30 minutes engaging and try to free up time to then go into a different form of marketing.

Shanna believes that this type of phased approach is absolutely the way to go: have a strong why, start a different form of marketing today, invest some time in it and be patient.

[42:14]  You Need the Right Audience 

Quitting social media freed so much of Shanna’s time. Setting her goal to work only 20 hours per week made her get very strategic about where she was spending her time which is one of the reasons she started tracking it. Today, she runs a 6-figure business by working 20 hours a week. A third of that is dedicated to the back end of the business, a third on content creation and marketing, and then a third on working with her clients and students.

Shanna is a numbers girl, so for her the numbers had to make sense. She knew that she didn’t need a giant audience to get the amount of clients she wanted. She needed the right audience. And that is what her strategy brought her. Today her conversions are super high because her audience is the right audience. Think about it, could you work with 10,000 people? Likely no. We’re trying to nurture so many relationships and it’s simply  impossible. We’re just one human. So, take a step back from social media and ask yourself how you could generate those leads and that relationship in a way that doesn’t require you to show up and perform all day long.

[47:06]  It is Possible 

Social media is a tool and I think one thing we always need to keep in our mind is – “who am I called to become”. Not “what am I seeking to accomplish” or “how much money do I want to make”. And in light of that, we need to ask ourselves if this tool is going to be a hindrance to that calling or is it going to facilitate it.

So, be intentional with who you are becoming. Living social media-free is very hard in this world but it is possible. It’s even possible to run a successful online business without social media. Shanna shares that her business doubled in revenue every year since she quit social media, because she did something different. Don’t get her wrong, she also gets passed over for a lot of things, but in the long-run this is better both for her and her business.

I feel like this is a barrier for a lot of people; they think this is the way it has to be and that going off social media is something that is not available to them. There are options, there is a different way of doing things, a way that feels aligned with who you’re called to be. We live in a culture that says do what feels good and do what you like, but at what point does it become a detriment in pursuit of really what’s next for you or who you’re meant to be? 

I hope today’s episode helps you see the possibilities and alternatives that are out there so that you can be more intentional with who you’re becoming and what you’re modeling for your kids.

And if this episode spoke to you, make sure to subscribe and leave us a review! Come connect with me on Instagram at @elizhartke! If there’s a topic, a question or a guest you want to hear on the show, just reach out and share that. We do this for you so the more you tell us, the more we can serve.


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