Marketing a business on social media is hard enough. Try adding a personal brand on top of that. How do you make it work?

That’s what my guest Hayley Akins, founder of Motion Hatch, the premier online learning hub for motion designers, is sharing in this episode. Hayley has experienced some serious growth on LinkedIn, TikTok, and Instagram, all while managing her business and personal brand. Her secret?

She doesn’t do it alone.

Listen in to hear how she’s working with her social media manager to find success on social and how you can make the decision to add a social media manager to your team.

In this episode of the podcast, we talk about:

  • Knowing when it’s time to ask for help
  • Hayley’s Start to Finish YouTube process
  • Discoverability platforms vs. retention platforms
  • How one reel turned into 100 leads
  • One-person strategy meetings

This Episode Was Made Possible By:

Social Media Starter Kit Free Course
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About the Guest:

Hayley Akins spent the last 15 years working in the motion design industry. For the past 5 years she’s been teaching and coaching freelance motion designers and small studios on how to start, run and grow their businesses.

Hayley started Motion Hatch in 2017 after being frustrated by the lack of information out there about building a successful motion design business.

Since then she’s seen the most common challenges that hold many motion designers back. This has given her insight into what works to build a business that’s in your control and gives you the freedom to choose how you spend your time.

From coaching and teaching motion designers and studio owners to build the business that excites them, Hayley has distilled the best strategies she knows down to create programs and courses and help you to build a motion design business that experiences sustainable growth and feels authentic to you.


Memorable Quotes:

  • “I think my advice to other people watching or listening to this would be to think about what your kind of core pillar pieces of content are and can someone else take that content and spread it out into little, you know, chunk it up into little pieces and then put that out on social. So I think that really helps with keeping your voice as a brand.” – Hayley Akins
  • “Podcasts are like retention or trust-building platforms, and YouTube is where people find you. It makes sense to have both.” – Hayley Akins
  • “Now I'm excited about potentially doing like a video podcast and really getting that going cause I think it's like the perfect medium for, you know, people who like to have long conversations but also, you know, quite visual as well.” – Hayley Akins
  • “I believe it was for the social media guide or one of our other lead magnets, and what she did is she basically made a reel about that, and then that got us a hundred leads in one day, and it was really great because it was you know, quick and snappy and people liked it because they got a lot of value from it.” – Hayley Akins
  • “I do think sometimes a successful post on Instagram looks different than what we think it should look like.” – Andréa Jones
  • “I was quite surprised when it was like upload it as a document, and that's gonna do well on LinkedIn. Like, that seems kind of weird, so I've been using Canva and making these little carousels with some nice actionable valuable advice and then uploading them with a little bit of context in the text description section as well, making sure it's got a really good hook.” – Hayley Akins
  • “Sometimes being inspired by your own members, your students, your clients and just sharing that on social media and asking, Hey, if you have questions, DM me. I mean, and getting a sale from that, I feel like that is a very powerful way to leverage social media, and it's not something that you can manufacture” – Andréa Jones

Resources Mentioned:

Grab Hayley's Free Social Media Guide for Motion Designers

Watch the Episode Below:


Andréa Jones (00:00):
Today on the show we're talking to Hayley Akins, who has had some credible success on Instagram with a hundred leads from an Instagram reel and has been seeing lots of success on LinkedIn. So we're diving into how real businesses are using those two platforms today. Let's get into it.

Intro (00:29):
Welcome to the Savvy Social Podcast, the show that blends stories and strategies to help businesses create engaged and profitable online communities using the unique power of social media. And now your host, Andréa Jones.

Andréa Jones (00:46):
Hayley, welcome to the show.

Hayley Akins (00:48):
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Andréa Jones (00:50):
I'm really excited to chat with you. I've been admiring you from afar. We're both in Jay Clouse's Creator Lab and I just love your contributions to that community and I'm excited to have you on the podcast today to kind of be a little bit nosy about your social media strategy. One of my first questions though is really about your business because you've got you as a personal brand, Hayley Akins and then you have your business, Motion Hatch. So talk to me about the journey to kind of separating those two identities and what that looks like today.

Hayley Akins (01:27):
Yeah, so I think originally when I started Motion Hatch it was a podcast, so it was a Motion Hatch podcast and it was particularly talking about the business side of motion design and I didn't really probably feel like I had a personal brand. I mean I was a full-time freelancer so it wasn't really like I've ever kind of separated those two. It's almost like Motion Hatch has growing into its own brand. And then I've sort of started I guess this personal brand that that at the moment you know, supports the Motion Hatch brand. So that's kind of how I look at it. So I have all of my Motion Hatch socials, which my social media manager helps me manage. And then I have some of my own socials like Twitter and LinkedIn and then I always post on those, but we do kind of cross promote stuff and I might take a post from Motion Hatch that did well and I might think okay, maybe I'm gonna post that on my LinkedIn cuz essentially it's all my voice and it's coming from mainly the YouTube channel and the podcast is like the pillar pieces of content and then we're spreading everything out over the various platforms.

Andréa Jones (02:41):
I love that you have an assistant as well. I think a lot of people listening, especially if they are the personality of their brand may feel some hesitation to bring on support in that way. Can you talk to us a little bit about the decision to hire a social media manager and what that process looked like to train that person to basically be you on social media?

Hayley Akins (03:07):
Yeah, so I think it's helpful for me because my social media manager actually helps edit the videos so she's like the editor assistant as well, which I know this is actually quite tricky to get someone who can do both things. But I feel very lucky because what that means is that she's very familiar with the content already because she was editing it for a long time before she started taking on social media. So she started that side of her business and kind of pitched to me about doing more social media content and then it really worked well because she already understands the audience and you know what questions they have and what problems they have and things like that. So what she's essentially doing is taking all of the things from my pillar piece of content like the newsletter, the podcast and the YouTube channel and sort of spreading them out further I guess.

So that makes me feel confident because I know that a lot of things that she's putting out there, one, she has a good knowledge of the audience and the kinds of problems that they have, but two, she's also taking it from these different pillar pieces of content. So I think my advice to other people watching or listening to this would be to think about what your kind of core pillar pieces of content are and can someone else take that content and spread it out into little, you know, chunk it up into little pieces and then put that out on social. So I think that really helps with keeping your kind of voice as a brand. And also what makes me feel better about it too is I feel like Motion Hatch is a team, you know, and we work together as a team and it's not just me, I don't present it as just me. We say like you know, we a lot instead of I and stuff like that. And I know like at the moment I think it's probably not working the best. People really like personal brands and they like to see your face and things like that but I've always had Motion Hatch built up in that way so it kind of feels a little bit better than if my social media manager was posting on my LinkedIn and and things like that.

Andréa Jones (05:11):
Yeah, so having those two identities kind of helps assign the tasks who's in charge of what. I am curious though from the YouTube, the podcast and the newsletter perspective, how frequently are you publishing to those channels and how much time does it take you to create those kind of core pillars of content?

Hayley Akins (05:32):
Yes, so a long time <laugh> <laugh>, it's a short answer but yeah, so at the moment I'm mainly focused on the YouTube channel so we did a hundred episodes of the podcast. So we are taking a little bit of a break from that because the past year and a half we've been focusing slowly on YouTube because it takes a long time to get the YouTube channel kind of going with the systems in the backend working really. And I feel like we're almost getting to that point now. It took much longer than I expected to kind of build in the systems and the processes to feel like we can make sure that we get the weekly video out and it's not too painful on the back end of things, you know, with the filming and editing and everything like that cuz I think it takes me around, normally I batch things but I think it probably takes me around two days to do a video that's like only including like the ideation part of it and all of the ideas and the scripting and then the thumbnail and the tile cuz obviously that's really important.

And then the recording and then I actually hand it off to my editors. So I think not including the editing, it probably takes me around two days. So we spend an awful lot of time on coming up with the title of the thumbnail the idea and all of the scripting and structure and things like that. So that bit takes much longer than I originally expected. Yeah. so yeah, it takes a long time <laugh> to do stuff but I'm trying to batch so that it makes it a little bit easier. But it's at the moment how I'm working it is I do on a Tuesday I try and script things out and come up with ideas and things like that and I get my team involved as well, you know, my video producer slash editor and my editor assistant slash social media manager and they help to kind of come up with ideas as well. So that's helpful. So I'm not kind of staring at a blank page going, okay, what video we're gonna do next and then the Tuesday after we try and like do a day of recordings. So we sort of alternate like that, but it's not a perfect system but we're definitely getting better. Right. I think

Andréa Jones (07:38):
I love the teamwork involved in it all because I think sometimes when we look at like a finished product we don't realize all the moving pieces. So I personally love getting all the the bits and bobs that go into what you're doing. One of the things that you said that I am curious about as well is you paused the podcast to focus on the YouTube channel. I'm curious around the decision behind pausing the podcast and focusing on YouTube.

Hayley Akins (08:04):
Yeah, so I think because podcasts probably as you know, it's quite hard because they're, they don't have like native discoverability kind of aspect to them. So I think it's hard to market them and get things out there. Whereas on YouTube obviously you have, it's like the second biggest search engine in the world, right? So it's quite easy, easier for sure for people to find you. So I think that was my main idea with doing more YouTube stuff is I wanted to have that discoverability so that new people could come in. But now what I'm realizing is I would like actually like to bring the podcast back because I think that that is what the people kind of go to and when they wanna dive a little bit deeper and now how I'm sort of thinking about it, someone said the other day, I can't remember who it was and I feel bad that I can't remember, but we're talking about like discoverability platforms versus retention platforms.

And I think it makes sense to me that a podcast and a user is almost like a retention or like building trust platforms and YouTube is kind of where people find you. So I think that I ideally would like to bring the podcast back, but I'm very focused on making sure we have a system in place so that it's easier for me and the team to create and it doesn't get too stressful and out of hand and stuff like that. Because I think at the moment we're working really hard on the videos and I wouldn't want, you know, adding some extra work in there to kind of make the videos not as well produced or, or something like that or a bit more rushed, you know, I care about trying to make them a little bit better every week.

Andréa Jones (09:39):
Yeah. And it shows y'all, if you have not checked out the Motion Hatch YouTube channel definitely go. I mean obviously your audience is designer <laugh>, you know, like they, they like the visual piece of it. So I imagine YouTube really helps kind of show the visual aspects a lot better than a podcast would as well.

Hayley Akins (09:59):
Yeah, so when we're talking, if we're talking to someone, you know, or or like talking about an animation or something like that, we don't do that that often cuz we're quite focused on freelancing and getting clients and like making more money and talking about those kind of things. But if we are talking to someone about an animation or something like that that they did, obviously it's much easier to show that on YouTube. So we used to talk about it on the podcast but then no one could ever see it. So now I'm excited about potentially doing like a video podcast and really getting that going cause I think it's like the perfect medium for you know, people who like to have long conversations but also you know, quite visual as well.

Andréa Jones (10:40):
Yes. Oh my gosh, I'm excited for you. This is great. So we're gonna take a quick break and when we get back I wanna talk about all of the results that you have on social media. We'll be back soon.

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And we are back. So one of the things that we initially connected on was your Instagram account and how you got 100 leads from an Instagram reel. I gotta hear this whole story now.

Hayley Akins (12:24):
Yeah, so it is, I think that Instagram is a tricky one, right? Because at the moment what I feel about Instagram is it's not really helping us to push the content out there, you know, so we have about 38,000 followers on Instagram, which I'm really proud of and I think is really good but it's not really growing at all at the moment and I think that we're finding it hard too to like actually have those people see what we're putting out there. But I think that definitely reels seems like the way to go. Because we've been doing some little reels and also my social media manager has been helping and she's actually featured in some of the reels, which I know that I guess this comes back to what we were talking about where, you know, thinking about the brand and stuff like that.

But now I feel like she's become part of the brand there and I really like that because I was like, oh I don't really understand TikTok or I don't really wanna do these Instagram reels where you're sort of like miming to the songs, you know, that kind of thing. <Laugh>, maybe I just feel like I'm too old, I don't know, but she's really good at that. So I was like okay, you know the content, you know you have all of the information that I give from the podcast and the YouTube channel like we spoke about and then she takes that and she'll turn it into like a more little snappy reel. So she did that, I think it was, I believe it was for the social media guide or one of our other lead magnets and what she did is she basically made a reel about that and then that got us a hundred leads in one day and it was really great because it was you know, quick and snappy and people liked it because they got a lot of value from it, you know, and obviously they were like Oh I need to download this, you know, this seems really helpful.

So that was really good. So that's worked a few times when we've talked about some of our lead magnets on social media and it's kind of framing it in the way of, you know, is this your problem? We've got this free guide for you, you know, and maybe doing something like a little bit entertaining or a little bit funny with that kind of structure. So it's pretty quick and it's not really I guess anything that anyone else isn't doing, it's just sort of trying to provide as much value and as much help as possible in but in the format that the social media platform wants.

Andréa Jones (14:40):
Yeah, yeah. And Instagram is definitely focused on those reels right now. So from the hundred leads, I'm curious about the tracking for this. Did you just see, you know, a bump in email subscribers? Were you using UTM codes or anything like that?

Hayley Akins (14:55):
Yeah, so we are like not probably the best at tracking from social or like from the YouTube channel to the email platform, but it was just an easy correlation to make between, because we put literally put that reel out about that particular lead magnet and then that particular lead magnet in Convert kit, our email platform like had a huge spike that day. So it was quite easy to see like where the traffic was coming from, but I guess it's not, it's definitely not a foolproof system and I feel like we could probably do a little bit better on that, but we use pretty links and stuff like that so we can see where people are clicking on what link. But ideally what I think I would like to do is have a lead magnet per kind of platform, if that makes sense. So you'd have to duplicate all of your lead magnet kind of funnels in the social media platform and then link them. I think that's the only real way that I know to really make sure you know where people are coming from. But obviously that's quite painful to do <laugh>.

Andréa Jones (16:01):
Yeah, that sounds like a lot of work. I mean I could see that in the future maybe on a slow day, but

Hayley Akins (16:06):
Yeah, yeah

Andréa Jones (16:07):
Exactly. <Laugh>, you see how that could be a lot of work. So you have several Instagram reels that have taken off. I wanna kind of dive into the stats for one of 'em because I do think sometimes a successful post on Instagram looks different than what we think it should look like. And I'm imagining these posts you know, they're getting you a lot of leads but they may not be getting a lot of other engagements. So walk us through some of the data of one of your top performing Instagram reels.

Hayley Akins (16:39):
Yes, so we have one for our portfolio checklist. So that one had 27,000 views roughly. It had 550 likes but it only had two comments, which is interesting. So I think it just a lot of people engaged with it because I guess they went and downloaded the portfolio checklist but then they didn't really engage in it in the way that we think would kind of boost a post out, which is like commenting on it, right? Yeah because I know with the LinkedIn I think comments are really heavily weighted but I guess with Instagram maybe not so much. I dunno, I wouldn't consider myself an Instagram expert, but yeah, I found that really interesting so that like 27,000 views led to about a hundred like email signups in one day. I think it kind of kept going a little bit and sort of tailed off a little bit as well, but I felt like that was a really good result and the real was mainly Christie who's my social media manager sitting down to make her portfolio and then getting distracted like in a kind of funny comedy kind of way and then saying like something like if only she had the portfolio checklist, you know?

So it was something like that and I, I think people like it when it's a bit entertaining and relatable as well.

Andréa Jones (17:58):
Yeah, absolutely. And you're right, just how Instagram is laid out. If we wanna go take action on a post like this, we have to leave Instagram reel, go to the link in the bio, then click the link in the bio. So we're probably not gonna come back and comment after that point. We're probably just gonna go download our portfolio, guide it and keep it moving. So I really like that. You also mentioned LinkedIn as well, especially for your personal brand, so I'm curious about your content strategy on LinkedIn. How frequently are you posting and what does that content look like?

Hayley Akins (18:32):
Yes, so I was very active in the first part of this year on LinkedIn and what I've been doing is posting a lot of kind of text-based posts but trying to be as helpful as possible. And what I've learned about LinkedIn is having, you know, kind of like one sentence and then leaving a gap and then having one sentence and just making it really kind of bullet pointy and so people can easily read it because I think there's a tendency to try and like write a lot of things, especially when you're like, oh this is just a written post and doesn't have any images or anything like that. But it's just trying to make it really digestible and definitely having a really good hook at the top really helps. And then the other p kind of posts I've been playing around with recently is these document posts.

So they look like it's a carousel or like a series of images, but there you actually upload a PDF ,I dunno, maybe everybody already knows about this, but I was quite surprised when it was like upload it as a document and that's gonna do well on LinkedIn. Like that seems kind of weird but, so I've been using Canva and making these little carousels with some like nice actionable valuable advice and then uploading them with a little bit of context in the text description section as well, making sure it's got a really good hook and some of those have been doing really well too, which is really great. And also just actually leading to like core sales, which I think is amazing just from doing like one post or something.

So the other day I posted about it wasn't really a testimonial but one of my students sent me an email with an update of how they'd been doing in the course saying that they'd got some film title clients and they were really happy about that. So I screenshotted that obviously I asked his permission if I could share on social and then I shared that on social and talked about you know, how I was really proud of him and things like that and just asking, essentially making the ask and saying, you know, if anyone is interested in this course but you wanted to ask me some questions just let me know in the dms. And then that led to one course sale, which I think from one social media post is pretty great. So I was really happy with that.

Andréa Jones (20:44):
I love hearing results like that because I do think sometimes we make social media complicated and it's not for any fault of our own marketers like myself, like give people the formula post this many times on this platform on this day. But sometimes being inspired by your own members, your students, your clients and just sharing that on social media and asking, Hey, if you have questions DM me. I mean, and getting a sale from that, I feel like that is a very powerful way to leverage social media and it's not something that you can manufacture, you know, it has to happen kind of organically and I love that you leveraged that opportunity and got a course sale from it and I imagine built up some more social clout with those people who are still in the considering phase of purchasing one of your products. And then speaking kind of along the lines of results, what are some of the other ways that you measure your success on social media? Does your social media send you report every month or are you looking in the insights?

Hayley Akins (21:47):
Yeah, so she sends like we do probably more like on a quarterly basis. We don't do it every month. I think we do YouTube stats and the kind of progress of the YouTube. I feel like our focus is just a little bit less on like Instagram and kind of those platforms. So we do that more on like a quarterly basis. So we'll just go through and say okay, what's working well, what isn't working so well? You know, where can we improve? Kind of that sort of stuff. I do that with the whole of my business to be honest. Like do a little retro and just say like, okay, what went well, what didn't go so well? How can we do better next time? And I just follow that process for pretty much everything. So anytime we're looking at anything, we just do that in our like quarterly meetings or monthly meetings and things like that and we just iterate on, okay, this posts seem to do pretty well so let's try and do a little bit more of that.

You know, like how can we do another post about a lead magnet that we had that can be helpful for people? And I guess it's just not too complicated. It's kind of like we have all these assets and lead magnets and we have all these videos and podcasts just like how can we use social media to help us to spread the word more about those that kind of like, I guess awareness top of the funnel stuff that we have out there already and how can we just kind of spread that out a little bit more and see kind of what gets the most traction or the most leads and and things like that. So we just do that. I feel like it's not that complicated but it's just, just keep checking in with yourself and make a little, even if you're doing it for yourself, right, just have a meeting with yourself and be like, hey, what went well? What didn't go so well? How can we do better next time? You know, even if it's just with yourself and you are kind of looking at your own social media, I, I think it's really helpful because otherwise you might keep doing stuff that you're like, oh this is just how what we do, but it's not actually having an impact on your business then you shouldn't be doing that.

Andréa Jones (23:45):
Yes. Yeah, just taking that moment to sit down and look at it cuz it honestly, it feels like sometimes we're not making progress if we don't actually take a moment to think about it. I know for me, for instance, I got stuck at a certain follower number and I kept thinking, oh I'm, you know, I'm stuck here but when I look at the numbers I'm like, oh I'm not stuck. I'm just growing by a very small percentage so how can I increase that percentage? You know? So, you know, sometimes taking the time to sit down and actually think about you know, what's working, what's not, what will actually move the needle can have lasting impact on the work that we do. Okay, last question here. I'm curious about what's next for you and your company? Are you looking to try anything new? Tiktok perhaps? I feel like I'm always like encouraging people. I don't know why, but I'm curious about what's next for you.

Hayley Akins (24:35):
Yeah, so we are on TikTok actually and I just let my social media manager run with it because I feel like I don't have a clue like if I'm honest, but she's managed to get us a thousand followers over there in like a couple of months. So I think it's pretty good. So I'm quite happy with that result. But yeah, I think definitely short form video, I feel like that's probably everyone's answer. You know, like YouTube shorts, we, we did dabble a bit with that but now we're trying to figure out like how can we really work YouTube shorts into our ecosystem and make sure we're either doing like original shorts, so like me doing something to camera and then with the intention of it being a short or how can we take our, the longer form videos and make them into really good shorts. So that's, I think that's probably where we're gonna focus next. And then obviously that stuff will probably spread into reels and TikTok and stuff like that as well.

Andréa Jones (25:30):
Yes, I love the focus on short form video. It makes a lot of sense for the direction that your company is going. I'm gonna, for those of you who are listening, if you're like yes, I love everything Hayley's saying, I wanna get into the Motion Hatch world we have a free gift for you. Can you tell us about the social media guide for motion designers?

Hayley Akins (25:48):
Yeah, so we have a social media guide and, and probably not most people are listening to this aren't gonna be a motion designer, but if you are like any type of creative entrepreneur or designer, graphic designer or illustrator, that kind of thing, I think it'll be really helpful. So we have 52 posts examples in there from different designers and they're based around relatable posts, interactive posts, community posts and sales posts. Because one of the biggest things that I see, especially in the creative industries is people having a real big focus on, I just talk about my work all the time and I don't really engage with what other people are doing, you know, so we have the different types of posts like relatable, you know, talking about yourself and your experience and things like that or like interactive obviously polls, stuff like that. And it's just giving you lots of different ideas of what to post so that you don't have to kind of start from scratch, right?

Because no one wants to do that. It's really difficult. So we've got, we call it like a year's worth of social media I guess if you were posting like one a week, like once a week on LinkedIn or something like that. But obviously you can use it if you want to post 52 days in a row, it's up to you. But a big thing obviously is being consistent so I don't just use all the posts and then never post for like a few months. I'm sure that you say that all the time I'm or I do about doing that <laugh> and you, it sounds from

Andréa Jones (27:12):
A good place, it's a place of excitement. So I understand people wanting to do that, but space out, space map, <laugh>

Hayley Akins (27:18):
Yeah, exactly. Space out, that's the best thing that you should do. So if you think you can only post like twice a week or something like that, I recommend doing that. But yeah it's a free guide. I think it's very useful, especially if you're a creative person, you are wondering like how to showcase your work and get clients, but without, you know, just spamming people with your work all the time.

Andréa Jones (27:41):
Yes. Beautiful. So I will put that link in the show notes. You can find it at slash 2 5 7 and all the links we talk about today will be in the show notes 2 5 7. Hayley, thank you so much for coming on the show today. This has been amazing.

Hayley Akins (27:58):
Yeah, thanks so much for having me.

Andréa Jones (28:00):
And thank you dear listener for another episode of The Savvy Social Podcast. Head on over to Apple Podcasts and Spotify. Leave us a five star review, helps keep us in the top 100 marketing shows. I'll see you next week. Bye for now.