Em is an award winning animal educator and digital content creator. Her YouTube channel currently has over 690,000 subscribers, comprised of animal lovers and pet keepers seeking a place to learn about exotic animals and pet care.
Her ‘Creature Feature’ videos have been showcased by the BBC World Service and Blue Peter, as well as many digital media outlets, such as UniLad and LadBible. Interviews about her work as Emzotic have been published in newspapers and magazines, such as The Independent, The South China Morning Post and Dook Dook Ferret Magazine.
In March of 2020, Em’s first book ‘Animal Kind’ was published, and achieved ‘Best Seller’ status in multiple categories. The book focuses on the healing power of pets, and the variety of ways they enrich our lives.
Em is currently based out of Denver, Colorado.
Where did the idea for Emzotic come from?
I had been working as a travelling animal educator for a number of years. My job consisted of caring for a menagerie of exotic creatures, and teaching the public about adaptation and evolution whilst providing them with a safe, close-up encounter of the animals. Seeing both children and adults eyes light up at being able to feed grapes to a bowling-pin sized fruit bat, have an owl fly across the room and perch on their gloved hand, or giggle at having a meerkat rummage through their hair was a standard day for me.
Although I reached thousands of people every year, I wanted to reach a larger audience with whom I could share my passion for animals, and I wanted to help exotic pet keepers learn how to care for their animals. This desire inspired me to create my YouTube channel. I named it ‘Emzotic’, a hybrid of my name ‘Em’, and the word ‘Exotic’.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My days are extremely varied, but generally my days start with caring for all of my animal’s needs. My office space houses my ferrets, reptiles and invertebrates, so I ensure that everyone is healthy, cleaned, watered and fed.
Once the animals have been tended to, I then consult my calendar to see which tasks or projects need my attention that day, before sifting through my emails for anything urgent, or jumping on a Zoom call for meetings with brands which are looking for a creator to collaborate with.
In a typical day, I create, optimize and release content on a variety of my social media accounts.
Content creation is a huge part of my job, and it’s all done in-house and by myself. If I’m creating videos I scrip, film, edit and upload by myself. One video can take over 24 hours to produce from start to finish.
Another part of my day is replying to comments left by viewers and fans. Nurturing my community is essential to my style of content creation, and helps me to build my brand in a way which includes the most important people in my business – my viewers.
I make my days productive by getting the most time consuming, difficult or tiresome tasks out of the way, and switching my focus to a new task when I can feel my attention span waning. Sometimes this means that I’ll switch from editing a video to updating my website, or working on merchandise for 1 hour and then switching back to emails. It prevents me from getting sloppy with my work.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I am fortunate enough to have phenomenal managers over at ‘The Hello Group’. If I have a brand I’d particularly like to work with, or a project I’d like to bring to life, we can brainstorm together and find the best course to make these ideas a reality. Having a team which believes in me, trusts my vision and supports me with their guidance and expertise is one of my greatest assets and motivators. I trust my managers completely.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Collaboration excites me greatly. When companies and individuals with a digital presence come together, the possibility to create innovative products, events and content are endless. Most recently, I worked on an animal-themed book (‘Animal Kind’, by Emma Lock) which launched during the recent Covid-19 pandemic, and the book sales helped to generate money for medical supplies and virus research. Prior to my book, I collaborated with an ethical, fine jewelry company to create a 14k gold plated honeycomb necklace which sold out in under 24 hours, and with a percentage of the profits going to charities to help save the honey bees.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
One of the best habits I’ve formed of late is to reach out to fellow creators when I need a fresh pair of eyes to look at my work. Content creation can be an exhausting and seemingly never ending conveyor belt of action and creativity, however, due to restrictive algorithms and ever changing trends, content which you might spend two full days (or even 2 weeks) making could easily flop and generate you zero income for your efforts. Having a network of trusted social media influencers to bounce ideas off of is a great way to stay motivated as a creator, and to share insider information on which strategies are currently working in the scene.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would encourage myself to seek out mentors sooner. Having mentors to guide me has been invaluable in so many aspects of my life, and is a great way to learn the skills necessary in order to succeed.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
I’m often met with a few raised eyebrows when people see how much of myself and my life I am prepared to share with my community. I’ve found that many successful people keep a low profile and share only what is necessary for their businesses to thrive, and I can appreciate this approach. However, I’ve found that I am happiest in my work and create better content when I am sharing openly. This creates a unique, two-way trust with my community.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I’m constantly seeking feedback. Entrepreneurs need to walk a fine line between doing what excites them, and giving the customers what they want. There has to be balance. In asking for feedback, I know what my audience would like from my content, and sometimes the answers are not at all what I would have anticipated. I think every entrepreneur has a duty to themselves and their businesses to learn how to ask for feedback, and take constructive criticism.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Paying attention to trends has been invaluable. So much of the success of what I do is identifying what works well for industry leaders, and finding a way to emulate their successes in an authentic way. For example, I had never planned to create merchandise, but I saw a growing trend with ‘Merch’ becoming a staple among creators, and in setting up my own store I found a way to generate an extra strain of income, as well as a new avenue for me to be creative.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
One failure I’m guilty of is being too much of a perfectionist. I tend to focus so much on tiny details that I end up getting frustrated and abandoning excellent ideas and promising projects because I feel that they aren’t able to be realized to the standard I expect from myself and on the budget I’m working with. I call this being too much of an ‘end-gainer’, and it’s something I actively work on to prevent.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’d be eternally grateful if someone created a ferret kibble formula with ultra-deodorizing properties. Ferrets can produce quite the stink when they do their business!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I actually just bought over $100 of my own merchandise, rather than having garments sent to me from my manufacturer. In doing this, I am able to experience what community and customers experience when they shop from me, and I gain insight into the true quality of the product and shipping experience.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
One of the web services I use frequently is Fiverr.com. It is a platform where you can hire professionals, as well as fledgling freelancers for a pre-agreed price. Hiring professionals for SEO, banner creation and graphic design helps me to focus on other tasks. I’m a huge fan of outsourcing and buying my time back.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recently finished ‘Never Split The Difference’ by Chris Voss, a former FBI hostage negotiator. He shares his actionable tips for learning the art of negotiation, and creating win-win scenarios based on tactical empathy and building rapport.
What is your favorite quote?
You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
• Outsource where possible to buy back your time.
• A good mentor is one of the most valuable relationships you can have.
• Be authentic in your business style
• Work with what you’ve got, but strive for more.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.