The Crystal Waddell Show: Episode 4

What the heck is a branded caption?!

Podcast 002: Branded Captions

Download the Branded Captions Workbook here!

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Crystal's Planoly Link

Hey there! So glad you joined me today! I am simultaneously excited and terrified about what I’m going to share with you today.


Excited because I KNOW that it will help you and terrified because I love to get a long with people and some of what I say may step on some toes. BUT I do think that the good outweighs the bad, so I’ll just tell you my story and how I came up with this idea of what I call “branded captions”.


So let’s see, I’m trying to figure out where in the story I should start. How about February 2019, when I joined a group called Social Curator. This group is amazing. It’s owned by Jasmine Star and her husband, JD, and every month they provide caption templates and beautiful photos that you can use in your social media. This is not a plug or an affiliate promotion, it’s just truly a part of my story. In the past year, I’ve learned so much from the members of the community. I learned about landing pages and I learned the painful truth about the “business” I had built on Etsy. Side note: the painful truth was that I had been building the business of, and not my own,


But I digress.

So I learned about email lists, and guest blogging and linked in and copywriting and brand photo shoots and my brain about exploded. Since I have been in business since 2014, there were so many opportunities to strengthen what I was currently doing and build upon the foundation I had blindly, yet successfully created.


It’s so bittersweet when you gain new knowledge and you’re like, darn, where would I be right now if I had know all of that then? I knew the first thing I needed to be intentional about was building my email list, and I’m not going to go into detail on that right now, but I just want to show you the path my mind was taking.


And If I was going to back it waaaaay up, I think all of this started with another podcast, Rachel Hollis’s podcast when she interviewed Jasmine. And then she interviewed Amy Porterfield, who is the QUEEN of building email lists. I was so scared but I then bought Amy’s list building course and I became addicted to podcasts!


So another side note: if you are feeling lonely as an entrepreneur and you haven’t found a business bestie yet or a business group to join, business podcasts can fill the gap for you until you do find that community your heart wants and needs.


Ok, so I’ve realized I need an email list. I’ve realized that I’ve got to show up consistently on social media and “build my brand”. And I’m doing it. I have a brand photo shoot and start using beautiful pictures of me, Jon and and Asher all over the place and people who know me locally started commenting on my pictures, things like “Congrats on all the success!” And I’m like, thank you? Because yes, my business was growing and doing well but no one had really cared or noticed until I presented my company in a more formal, polished way.


I’m spending 3-4 hours a week planning and posting my Instagram and ok, another stop: did you know that there are planning apps that you can use to PLAN your social media out? It had NEVER occurred to me that a product like that existed until I heard about it from group members. And I was like, YOU CAN PLAN YOUR FEED?! It was a game-changer! It’s hard to have a strategy that you can execute when you can’t VISUALIZE it. And least for me. I have to see it or experience it for it to feel real. So, I’ll definitely talk more about that later but if you didn’t know, now you know! I’ll put my affiliate link in the show notes if you want to check out Planoly, which is the one I use.


ANYWAY! So even with the planning app, I am still spending 3-4 hours a week planning my social media. It had become a baby project and I loved it so much. But then one day, months later someone inside my social media business circle saw a video of me and Jon high-fiving over some giant wooden marquee letters Tom had made for me. It was a new product and I was so excited abut them! I made it my profile video (it still might be my profile video).


And the woman asked me, “wow” those are neat! Do you make those?" As in - is this your business?


I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. Not unlike the figurative punch in the face that I felt when I found out that I had been serving Etsy’s customers and not building my own business.

In my mind, for both scenarios, I am thinking, “How can this be?” “How can I work soooo hard on my social media and people don’t even know what I do?”


In all fairness, this particular person may have “followed me” but also muted me because when I did an audit of my social media posts, I did not understand how someone could be that clueless about what I did, unless they really weren’t paying attention. But. I realized two things: I could not spend this much time on my social media just to make friends. I needed my social media to serve as a marketing employee. Preferably little robots that took very little energy to maintain, because I didn’t and don’t have a lot to give.  I’m a wife, mom, AND a full-time teacher (at the time of this recording). I needed my social media to give me a better return on my most precious investment: my time. So that was #1: I needed my social media to work better for my business, and I wanted to feel good about it. I wanted it to be “authentic”. #2 I needed those 2-3 hours a week of my life back. Because that was just PLANNING time, not even posting, engaging, finding hashtags, etc. That was me modifying or creating captions that I thought would change lives.


Oh, sweet Crystal. I do sometimes think more highly of myself than I ought. And I say that not to knock myself, but just as an acceptance of reality that Instagram only shows my posts to 3-5% of my followers. So why should I kill myself on every. single. one.?




So I’m trying to figure out how to restructure my processes. I had just been introduced to the concept of VAs, aka Virtual Assistants, and I thought, that could work! But the first few quotes I got back ranged from $600-$1000. I was like, y’all are smoking something. Do you even know what I do? I’m not sure they did and I’m not sure they cared - also, they were probably saying the same thing about me! Which is kind of funny.


But one thing we both understood: I did not have the money to pay them to do whatever it was they were going to do for me. It reminded me of a time when I called a Charleston wedding planner and I gave her my budget and she laughed. That did kind of hurt my feelings. I really hate that feeling of not “being good enough”…. Although I know that it’s not about being good enough but about what you can afford but still, sometimes its kind of humiliating.


Anyway, the great news is, out of those type of experiences have been some of my greatest personal innovations and break-throughs. We had a wedding with no debt and it was beautiful and I’m so grateful for our planner. And one VA actually gave me the foundation for an idea I could build upon: caption templates that were more “branded” for my company. Unfortunately, it didn’t feel like a good fit to pay for caption templates from someone when I was already paying for something similar somewhere else but the thought of truly customizing my captions for ONLY my business started a hurricane in my brain.


Hmmmm. Branded captions? That thought had never occurred to me before! I decided to research it. And guess what - it’s not a “thing”. But I gave it life in my captions - and I realized, with just a little tweaking, I could use those captions at staggered times on Instagram, Facebook, and Linked In.  The categories that drive my captions (Birthday collages, Senior Photo Props, Wooden Numbers and more - I have 15 categories) now also drive my blog topics, my Pinterest pins, and my weekly emails.


You guys, I unintentionally created a content plan for my online business. One that makes sense, allows me to show up in an authentic way, and helps me work smarter and in the most efficient way. It’s not like it’s done once and done forever. I still have to tweak things here and there. I still have to match up photos. I have found it more challenging to apply this process on my personal account vs. my business account, but I’m solving those as well. I also DID hire a very sweet VA who schedules all of my posts on Instagram and Facebook, for both accounts. That frees me up to work on the most IMPORTANT thing in my social media, which we haven’t even touched on: Engagement. The first step is consistency, but the most important step is engagement. More on that part of my journey, which is continuing even today, in another episode.


But.I finally have a guide for my content creation, and it’s authentic to me and it’s authentic to my brand and I can tweak it to make it authentic for any platform or purpose. I know this a lot to digest. The easiest way I can summarize it is to take the emphasis off of “me” and put it on “they” … and then batch it out! To get you started, I have created a really neat workbook that can help you get organized. I’d love to hear what you think about it! You can download it at and if you have any questions, just shoot me an email!

Whew. That was quite the story. But I wanted to give you a quick overview of how I got to this point. I hope this helps you in some way. Let me know! And until next time, remember you are not alone and I believe in what you are building for yourself and your family.

If you're interested in the Instagram Planning App I use, it's called Planoly and you can use my affiliate link to sign up here if you would like!