Anne-Monique Schouten | social media manager from Zierikzee, NL

Star Sign: A real Libra; doubting everything, that’s me!
Currently reading: Happy Life 365 by Kelly Weekers and Online Invloed by Bas Wouters & Joris Groen
Hopes her/his last meal will be: Something Mexican – tacos, burritos, nachos.. she love it!

Anne-Monique helps entrepreneurs manage their social media with her company I AM Social. She does this in several ways; you can fully entrust the management to her, but she also give workshops and has a ‘Social Consultation Hour’ for entrepreneurs who would like to learn it themselves.

When did you first know that this was your calling?

I have always been interested in social media and was always the first to know about a new social platform. I studied Communication, but that has been so long ago that I barely learned anything about social media (do I sound very old now, haha?!). During internships and the jobs that I had afterwards, social media was always in my range of tasks, so I learned a lot from my own experience, but also followed various training courses. And I’ve loved writing from an early age.

A few years ago I started to notice that many entrepreneurs – especially in the catering industry (I have always worked in that area) – missed opportunities in the field of social media. Friends of mine have a restaurant in Gouda and they asked me to help them with their Facebook page and Instagram account. Actually, the ball started to roll pretty fast from there. At the time I still had a full-time job, so I did this during the evenings, but I soon received more requests. Not long after, I decided to take the gamble and start my company in social media management. 1) because I really enjoyed doing it and it went well for me, and 2) because I had been struggling with my health for a while because of my thyroid and it was really ideal for me to work from home and make my own hours. A perfect combination for me!


How did you get your business off the ground?

It sounds crazy, but it just did. Word of mouth is still the best advertisement there is, so it helped me a lot. Of course I made sure that I was well represented on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. I also had a beautiful website made on which all information about me and my services could be found. I thought that was important, that at least it was neatly arranged. After all, it is my ‘business card’. I have done little acquisition – I hate that anyway, but I soon noticed that the entrepreneur himself must first have determined that he wants ‘something’ with social media. If they do not see the point of it and I have to convince them to (actively) start using it, the cooperation does not work.

Just do it! Start before you’re ready. You can’t wait for the perfect moment, because there will never be a perfect moment.

What makes your company unique?

I offer ‘all inclusive social media management’. So from scheduling content to photography (which I outsource, because I am not the best photographer myself) to responding to messages from customers / guests. I want to relieve the entrepreneur of this, take away the time he spends on it. I often get feedback that I can empathize with the company, which I think is very important. Of course it should not be a copy / paste story. Each place has a different tone of voice and atmosphere experience. I want to convey it as well as possible, in a way that followers do not realize that the messages are being provided by an ‘outsider’.

I am also honest; if I think we are not a good match, I will honestly indicate that. And I am flexible; it is not that I am only available between 09:00 and 17:00. I communicate a lot via WhatsApp and my phone is pretty much stuck to my hand, so I (almost) always respond quickly! So if something needs to be posted or adjusted last minute, that’s no problem. I also like that the other way around; quick responses, fast acts.


What is the biggest challenge for you as an entrepreneur?

I think the high level of competition. There are many entrepreneurs who do what I do, so the biggest challenge for me is to attract the right customers. There must be a click for a good cooperation. So far I have been doing well. In addition, I must of course ensure that I stay up to date with regard to all social media changes, but I like that!

What inspires you to continue?

I just really enjoy doing the job! To throw in a clich├ę: it often doesn’t even feel like work. It makes me happy, that is the most important thing for me. And in addition, the freedom it entails is really a motivation to continue with this.


What is your life motto / what mantra do you live?

Always a lesson, never a failure. 8 years ago, I even got a tattoo of that. Sometimes it helps me to remind myself of this again. ­čśë


How do you ensure a good work-life balance?

My dog Bo creates a rhythm in my day (fun fact: on the day I officially started for myself, we were also allowed to pick up Bo, then still a puppy). So I take her for a walk regularly, which prevents me from being stuck to my laptop all day. In addition, I almost always keep Sundays free from work. I am often busy at night, but that is more because I find it relaxed myself. Sometimes I take time off in the afternoon. I could be a bit ‘stricter’ for myself by keeping a fixed free afternoon or day a week, I haven’t really done that yet, but for now I think it is completely fine. It’s also really nice that my boyfriend has no social media at all. At least we don’t sit side by side scrolling through Insta in the evening. ­čśë

How has the Corona virus affected your work?

Just before the ‘lockdown’ I was doing really good, I grew fast. I had even hired a freelancer because I got too busy myself. And then came corona. 90% of my customers are catering businesses and they were of course hit hard. So most of that put my services on hold right away. Which, of course, I fully understood. Fortunately, I still had a few things to do and a little more work was added every month. But a number of customers also had to cancel the collaboration due to budget. Super unfortunate! Since June, everything is back to normal for me and I have enough work again. But I am motivated to bring in even more customers so that I can get back to where I was before Corona!


What can people do to support you and others in your field?

Recommend me in their own network, share my social media posts and – in case of satisfied customers – write reviews.


What are your plans for the future?

I still want to grow, but I don’t have the ambition to hire staff for example. It is an option to gather a team of freelancers that I can deploy for various jobs. But I will definitely continue to do what I do now, because I think that is so much fun! I also want to work more actively on my online offers (training / workshops).


Do you have tips for people who want to start a business (in this field)?

Yes, actually I would like to say: just do it! Start before you’re ready. You can’t wait for the perfect moment (because there will never be a perfect moment) or until you have everything in order for yourself. Just do it, you can always gradually make other decisions, make adjustments and gain experience. I was lucky that I was able to reduce my paid work more and more (from 5 days, to 4, to 2, to 1 day) and that my boyfriend has a stable, permanent job. That of course gives a lot of peace and security. As soon as you have a financial buffer and you broadly know what you want, just get started. Oh, and never talk about your ‘small’ company, but about your company (yes, even if you have only just started)!

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