Every year, I spend my birthday in the same way: I take the opportunity to dress up and have dinner with my husband at our favorite yakitori izakaya place in Tai Hang, Hong Kong.
As I celebrate another year of life, I am also reminded of another anniversary for my company, Joyce Tsang Content Marketing Limited. It's often said that keeping a business afloat for a year, let alone five, is very challenging. Therefore, reaching the halfway mark at three years is a significant milestone for me.
As I have navigated through various problems and challenges, things no longer seem impossible. I have already tackled the most demanding phase of setting everything up, and now it's time to refine and optimize everything, both in terms of the business itself and personal growth.
i) I'm a startup's Fractional CMO
This has been months in the making, but I have landed my first client for my latest service offering: Fractional CMO.
While this position has gained traction in the States, it is still a very new concept here in Hong Kong. Essentially, I take on the role of a CMO without charging the client a full-time salary. This allows start-ups with limited resources to benefit from strategic expertise and have someone in-house to coordinate and communicate with the team.
Offering this service is a learning process for both the client and myself. Within just the first month, I have discovered how enjoyable it is to work with the team, rather than merely for the team as a third-party agency. This is precisely what my client was seeking as well. While it is always possible to hire someone to handle the heavy lifting, the synergy is quite different (and much more positive) when that person is an integrated part of the team. The sense of belonging is stronger, and this relationship empowers me to provide more value than I would under a basic retainer structure.
ii) I'm valued as a role model
Apart from receiving my first hate message this year, I have also received my first heartfelt DM from a stranger.
While data and numbers are useful for monitoring content performance, I believe they strip away the true measure of success. Based solely on metrics, my Instagram account may seem lacking. I don't reach a large number of people, my engagement is limited, and my follower count hovers around 1,000.
However, if things were truly that bad, I wouldn't be receiving messages like this.
Sometimes, I reflect on the fundamental concept of marketing, "you are what you attract," and realize that if I am successfully attracting people who are similar to me (introverted individuals who appreciate meaningful one-on-one conversations), then I should focus on qualitative learnings rather than purely quantitative ones. Moreover, I remind myself of the same message I share every day: "You are not alone! Don't give up."
iii) I'm growing and learning everyday
Apart from taking on the role of Fractional CMO, my time has been mostly consumed by my EMBA program at Quantic School of Business and Technology. The weekly modules are quite demanding, especially the first segment, which focuses on accounting.
It has been a while since I last had to study for an exam, but surprisingly, it turned out to be a positive experience. Of course, there was some stress involved, but the process of absorbing and learning the material was truly fulfilling. In addition to the exam, we were also assigned our very first group project. It was a fantastic opportunity to collaborate with a fellow content marketer based in Singapore. What made it even more memorable was discovering that we both struggled with math, yet we still managed to kick butts in our project!
iv) I'm sharing my expertise with others
Born out of a fruitful conversation with the Green Tomato Academy team, we have recently launched a brand-new course on their platform.
After gathering insights from my leads and clients, I've come to realize that many of them become aware of content marketing or start researching it as an option after experiencing failures in other areas. Whether it's their unsuccessful social media ads or low website traffic from digital marketing, most people consider content marketing as a last resort. Initially, I viewed this as a challenge, but the team at Green Tomato Academy rightly advised me that it is, in fact, an opportunity.
Rather than focusing solely on educating those already aware of the field and wanting to delve into it more technically, this new course addresses the problems that many marketers face when implementing online marketing tactics. It suggests content marketing as the actual solution.
I can't wait to meet the class. After three years in business, I have accumulated numerous case studies that I am excited to share!
v) I'm working smart to live the life that I want
Last but certainly not least, the past three years of solopreneurship have been absolutely worthwhile. My husband and I were able to move into our cozy new home. I have the freedom to wake up according to my preferences and skip the daily commute. My dogs enjoy delightful walks, knowing that I am there with them. Being close to nature, work rarely feels burdensome. These milestones and achievements would not have been possible if I had stayed in my comfort zone and continued as a full-time employee.
As the market seems to be in a better state, I am eagerly anticipating what 2024 has in store for me. I now have a much better understanding of the services I genuinely enjoy providing and who my ideal clients are.
To those who may have stumbled upon this blog entry or have been following my journey, contemplating starting something of your own, I wholeheartedly recommend it. Be prepared for the challenges, frustrations, and hardships that will inevitably arise, but keep your eyes on the prize and focus on self-discovery and learning from others along the way. It will be the ride of a lifetime.