Fireside 2.1 ( Take Me To Coffee Blog Wed, 29 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500 Take Me To Coffee Blog en-us Let's Put on Our (JHM) Jams Wed, 29 Jan 2020 14:00:00 -0500 1db78631-b2e7-45ac-8311-e6f5c450cb76 What's next after our coffee date with JHM Jams founder Ken Kubota this week? How bout a #TM2CTop3 countdown of our favorite videos he's made!

In this week's episode, we learned all about Ken Kubota's journey from Julliard student to internet sensation and founder of JHM Jams. Dear readers, may we recommend that you keep the fun going after the episode ends, with a little top 3 goodness and our #TM2C favorite #JHMJam videos of all time?


THIS IS SO SEXY C'MON! When we chatted with Ken, we got to talking about how classical musicians often have sight reading parties, and that's where the original idea for JHM Jams came from - it's an opportunity for a bunch of amazing artists (like these folks!) to get together, arrange and perform something in a 2 hour period. Most importantly, Ken says, the JHM Jams give these world class artists the chance to shake off their perfectionism and have some fun.


There was no way we'd make a favs list of JHM Jams and not include this CUTE AS A BUTTON episode with Ken's parents! From his Instagram: "It was fun playing this tune and my dad practiced extra hard to get his syncopations right (his weakness). My mom's a professional, but my dad is an engineer by trade who enjoys playing flute whenever he gets a chance."


This is perfect timing since Billie Eilish just won every Grammy in the entire universe - we can't stop listening to this gorgeous arrangement of Billie & Khalid's "Lovely". It's sort of hard to believe something that sounds this amazing was conceived and recorded in a living room in Manhattan in a few hours. You can also see, in this one, that change that Ken talks about in the episode, when he finally figured out what he wanted his thumbnails to look like - it goes from a little hard to read in this one, to big, bold and branded (which, if you follow us on social media, you know we love 🥰)

r u 🎧?

Meghan's Favorite Hacks, Tips, Tricks and Companies to help you live a low waste life Mon, 27 Jan 2020 19:00:00 -0500 cca3c4a4-3c15-4ac6-9fc7-6a033ad33134 On this week's epsiode of #TM2CPodcast, we keep getting asked: What's the biggest piece of advice Meghan Offtermatt, co-host of How To Save The World Podcast & owner of Moss Consulting, had for us? Read on for the answer, plus a free sustainability survival guide made just for TM2C listeners! Plastics

On this week's epsiode of #TM2CPodcast, we keep getting asked: What's the biggest piece of advice Meghan Offtermatt, co-host of How To Save The World Podcast & owner of Moss Consulting, had for us?

*Here it is folks: *

Implementing sustainability does not mean throwing what you already have in the trash.

So, what does Meghan use in her own kitchen to help keep waste to a minimum? Becuase god knows Jess and Andrew had no idea where to start.


🐝Beeswrap waxed wraps replace cling wrap and aluminum foil in Meghan's kitchen.


🍵Turns out the tea bags we throw away contain tons and tons of microplastics that are slowly destroying the environment. Meghan's go-to for loose leaf tea? ArborTeas.


👉🏾Want to know how Meghan avoids using disposable Britta filters, plus a step by step for city composting, links to her favorite bathroom and laundry products and more?

Download Meghan's FREE SUSTAINABILITY SURVIVAL GUIDE, made just for #TM2C listeners!


Free Guide

#RaiseYourVoice Wed, 04 Dec 2019 11:00:00 -0500 28601186-2169-4625-a5cf-c29d22420859 Anyone who survives violence deserves help and services, regardless of their financial ability. This week's episode and blog are dedicated to the incredible work of Crime Victims Treatment Center. TW: Sexual Assault

Every year, Broadway Unlocked (our parent company) puts on the #Giveback Concert to raise money and awareness for survivors of violence. Every one we talked to in those early days said - pick a new cause, no one will touch it.

Fast forward to today: through the power of storytelling across live theatre, digital media, and interactive technology that brings together a community inspired to action, the concert has raised over a quarter of a million dollars for Crime Victims Treatment Center, they've featured performances from Kirstin Maldonado, Tituss Burgess, Keala Settle, Andrew Keenan Bolger & more, they work with two agencies and multiple brands, and - most importantly - the #Giveback concert has sparked worldwide conversations around a topic that was previously “off limits”.

For today's blog, we thought we'd give you a peak into just one of the many reasons we give our time and hearts to this beautiful experience.
We hope you'll join us for the next one!

Listen to the whole episode here, and share it with someone who needs to know they aren't alone.

@ThatViolaKid Takes Us To School Fri, 29 Nov 2019 13:00:00 -0500 80d1acc0-b8cd-41d6-9e49-78249318ed6c Classical music is taking over the internet and our minds are blown. Ya'll, this week's episode with Drew Forde aka That Viola Kid is an EDUCATION on so many things - the classical music world, making content every day, how to give fans a piece of you without giving them everything, hybrid instruments...

And his favorite cross-over creators on the internet. While we were recording, Drew kept spitting out musical creators faster than we could write them down - and we were dying to check them all out.

So we figured, why not do it together!
When you need a little break from the fambam this weekend, pop over here and go on our musical tour.


@ThatViolaKid's Guide to the Musical Internet

Ken Kubota

GTFO. The end.
Follow Ken on YouTube

Braxton Cook

Why is everyone making amazing music in their homes and how can we get in on this?????
Follow Braxton Cook on Instagram

Daj Jordan UK

Bet you didn't know you were going to go down a classical music internet hole today, did you?
Follow Daj on Instagram

Lee England Jr

My obsession with this beat and the way he made this video knows no bounds. So simple. SO GOOD.
Follow Lee on YouTube

Black Violin

Drew says this is where it all started - everyone on this list bows down to the forefathers of crossover classical.
Follow Black Violin on Vevo

Brian King Joseph

Ariana Grande. Musical Theatre. Violin. WHAT IS HAPPENING.
Follow Brian on YouTube

And of course, we'd be remiss if we didn't include one of our recent favorites of @ThatViolaKid.
He. Is. Outrageous.

☕️If you haven't listened yet, get into Drew's episode of #TM2C and let us know what you think!!!!

A Danny Pudi GIF Hole Wed, 13 Nov 2019 16:00:00 -0500 642dfafa-f2fd-4776-8cac-4e95c569f410 Just a little light GIF watching in preparation for our episode with Danny Pudi tomorrow... We are not f##ing around today.

Danny Pudi (you may remember him as Abed on Community?) is on the podcast this week.
(episode drops tomorrow)

We laughed so hard.

We never wanted it to end.

In preperation, today's blog is our five favorite Danny Pudi GIFS of all time.

You're welcome.


Thank you @Harto for this gem.



Mostly us, the entire coffee date.



Just to get you in the holiday mood...



We made our own Danny Pudi GIF from our recording footage.



This GIF perfectly encapsulates how we feel about the amazing Danny Pudi. Our coffee date was full of comedy bits, but it was also a beautiful conversation about growing up different, following what makes you happy, falling in love with people over and over again, and how to create work for the people who have never seen themselves on screen.

We're awfully glad to be in this wide, weird world with him.
We hope you enjoy the episode!

☕️Suscribe here

When The Arts Are Not In Reach Wed, 06 Nov 2019 13:00:00 -0500 d3ae7ebd-08b5-4ea6-8aee-13816153e707 We all know the arts are so important, but as one fan pointed out to this week's guest, AyseDeniz, it's incredibly hard to get access to what you need when you're in a rural area. That made us think of all the amazing people we know working hard to make sure everyone has access to music and theatre. Read on for more inspiration! On tomorrow's episode of Take Me To Coffee, we are hanging out with classical pianist, composer and YouTuber AyseDeniz and holy cow were we inspired. Ayse's career has been incredible - from playing classical piano competitively at age 5, to almost quitting to catching the attention of Pink Floyd with a video mashup, she has been up, down and back around again and her story is a must-listen for anyone trying to build a life in the arts.

We got to talking about something I thought was really interesting - one of Ayse's fans sent in a #VideoAsk about how we can help promote the arts in rural areas. I thought it was a great question, and something I've actually been thinking about a lot lately.

A few weeks ago, I was having lunch with Adam Odsess-Rubin, the founder of The National Queer Theatre. We got to talking about the pros/cons of livestreaming stage work - while neither of us are huge fans of just plopping stage work on screen, we did find a lot of inspiration in the idea that livestreaming readings of work by queer authors, that explores queer themes could help expose kids in rural areas to a world bigger than theirs. To be able to see themselves represented, to be exposed to a deeper cannon of queer work and perhaps find inspiration from that access is really exciting, and it turns livestreaming stage work into an innovative way to get the arts into rural areas.

That reminded me of an amazing story I read about recently that involves one of my favorite composers and #Giveback Concert writers, Jason Howland. You can read the whole post here, but the gist is - a gal was in a public space in Montreal. She was charging her phone near a public piano when she heard someone hauntingly playing it. Turns out, it was a 15 year old kid from Tehran, Iran who had just immigrated to Montreal. His parents had given up everything for their new life, and that included a piano for their son to practice on at home. So, they would take him anywhere there was a public piano, where he could continue learning. This gal decided to put up a Facebook post looking for recommendations for piano teachers. Her post highlighted how a young Persian boy who loved playing jazz on piano and was mighty good at it had no piano to practice on. Enter Jason Howland. He saw the post. Did whatever magic he did. And this young boy ended up with a brand new high-quality Yamaha electronic piano with weighted keys, a stand and headphones.

Ayse talked a lot about access to instruments in our conversation - it seems to be a big barrier for people wanting to immerse themselves in the arts. We did a whole lot of brainstorming on the episode about ways around that. But it left me curious - how else can we be innovative and help get the arts into rural areas around the world?

Let us know your ideas in the comments -
And be sure to [subscribe]( to be the first to hear Thursday's ☕️date with AyseDeniz!

How We Built This Wed, 23 Oct 2019 15:00:00 -0400 8df8b895-3bd8-4599-b697-aecd1f5c057b This week, we're releasing our first three test episodes we ever recorded for #tm2cpodcast. In today's blog, we're looking back at the process of making this podcast from scratch, and giving you our top three tips from what we learned! Yesterday, I was hanging out with the spectacular crew from MT Shorts (check 'em out and look out for their new musical short Still Here coming out soon - part of it is filmed in my apartment!) and my friend was asking how the podcast was going. I told him and he said - "Wow! That went from zero to sixty right out of the gate."

Which is SO NICE and SO NOT TRUE. I wish I was amazing enough to have an idea, spit it out and have people knocking down my door but alas and alack, this shit takes me months and months of work, constant shuffling and pivot turning, and a whole lot of what our guest Laura Behnke calls "the middle" that no one talks about.

Since this week's episodes (dropping tomorrow!) are the very first test episodes we ever recorded, I think this has all come together perfectly for a little How I Built This (<--shout out to this podcast, one of my favorites) blog, whaddya say?

Sometimes The Wrong Idea is the Right Idea

Into the archives I go, to my email and January of 2017. I had the idea to do a podcast. That's the first time I reached out to Andrew to see if he was interested in co-hosting with me. A friend in LA and I really wanted to work together on something so I looped her in to produce. And we started talking about an idea I had for a podcast. Guys, it was a really good idea. But it wasn't good enough. We worked on pre-production for about 2 months, and then I decided to put it on hold and put my thinking cap back on. I wasn't clear enough on how this particular idea would align with my goals in creating a podcast so I put it on the back shelf.

Guess what. That original idea may not have been the right one for the primary podcast, but turns out it sure is the perfect idea for our TM2C Bonus Episode spinoff. It's called The Pivot, and it's a shortform podcast where our guests share their most memorable coffee date and how it changed the trajectory of their lives. Stay tuned for its launch.

Good thing my brain is a steel trap and never lets ideas completely go.

It's Never Too Early To Start

Once I shelved the original incarnation of The Pivot, I decided to use my time wisely, and I started casually collecting podcast research in a doc, in the background, while I was mulling over other podcast ideas. Ya'll, I went back and checked the date I created this research doc -

November 27, 2017.

For those of you keeping track, that was 11 months after my original idea for a podcast and almost exactly two years before I actually put a podcast out.

And let me tell you, I'm so so so so glad I kept adding to that doc over time. Because when the right idea did hit, I got sacked with all the work that goes into actually - wait for it - making the podcast. Luckily, I had this massive doc that made everything else super easy. I had a step by step of every thing I needed to do throughout the production process, a collection of launch strategies, equipment suggestions and reference articles to read. Lifesaver friends, lifesaver.

Big Ideas Start in the Smallest of Places

I shared the story of the genesis of Take Me To Coffee on our episode with Modern Family actress Dana Powell, so I won't make you sit through a re-telling - but here's what I didn't talk about: The original Take Me To Coffee was something I created to be a Facebook Live show, on Fridays, where you could donate the price of a coffee to a charity to "take me to coffee" and pick my brain. I had originally conceived it because I hated that I didn't always have the time to be able to go to coffee with everyone who asked me. Like The Pivot, that idea was a good one, but not good enough and got shelved in the dusty dark corners of my brain.

Cut to Feburary 4, 2019, a full two years later. I was on a great Zuckerberg Institute webinar with the founder of a podcast hosting company and I started to get re-inspired to get a podcast rolling again.

Cue Lightbulb moment. Take Me To Coffee would make a great podcast. Google Search. There's no mentorship podcasts on the first page of Google Results. Google Trends research. There are 15,000 searches every day for mentorship. Lightbulb moment #2. I knew a founder of a startup that had a technology product that could help us collect questions from our listeners and people's fans, creating that element of community that I always incorporate into my digital content.

A podcast was born.

Time to Figure it Out

We recorded our very first episode of the podcast in March of 2019.

We launched in September of 2019.

Along the way, we recorded 15 episodes, but more importantly, we got the gift of time to figure out what the podcast would actually be (pro tip: It changed a lot from my original idea), we got to try out multiple logos, social media bios, graphics and brand voices as we began to understand what we were making, who was going to listen and why we needed to exist. I've never actually worked on something so long in advance of a public launch, but I am so hugely grateful for the time we had to figure it all out. Well not all of it. But most of it. Certainly enough of it to keep moving forward.

That's all to say, if it looks like our little podcast went from 0 to 60 right out of the gate, don't be fooled. It was 20 years of learning and experience, almost 3 years of planning and more hard work than I ever could have guessed. But if we can do it, you can do it too - I hope this helps inspire you!

P.S. And if you want to hear more, check out our 90 day anniversary episode, where Andrew and I give you our top tips, learnings and mistakes to avoid!

P.P.S. if you want to have a chuckle, check out Andrew and I's commentary track over the very first episode we ever recorded. I'll give you a hint: it starts with a fire alarm going off and Andrew's apartment almost catching on fire 🤦🏽‍♀️

r u 🎧?
☕️ Subscribe here

Marian The Grammarian (and Dana Powell as a Ninja) Wed, 16 Oct 2019 12:00:00 -0400 370bcd79-ef9e-46fb-90a1-2f2ef5f21807 In which our dumb free association on the episode becomes a very ridiculous (but also kind of intriguing?) branded musical for Grammarly, featuring this week's guest, Dana Powell from Modern Family. We use a lot of cool no-code technology tools over here at #tm2cpodcast to help make our show better. Canva for gorgeous graphics, Airtable for content management, Typeform for Onboarding, and ClickUp to track our processes.

But one of our very favorite tools, which we got talking about in this week's episode with Modern Family's Dana Powell, is Grammarly. It's a freaking writing assistant that is built in to your brower! When we're on a tight deadline with an episode and we're writing social posts and blogs til our fingers fall off, Grammarly fixes spelling, helps us keep tabs on our tone, formality, and intent and gives us suggestions.


Also, #humblebrag, but here's how we did last week, according to Grammarly:


Anyway, one thing led to another, as it usually does with theatre people, and we basically birthed a super funny musical spoof commercial for Grammarly, based on The Music Man. Don't ask us why, but it's clearly inspired by John Wick and also includes Dana Powell as a ninja.

We never said we were great at mixing metaphors.

We present to you our spec script.....

Marian the Ninja Grammarian


Deadly assassins are disguised, scattered throughout the space like land mines, in and around the writers hard at work. They are everywhere, around each corner ready to destroy a great piece of writing with their misspellings, wordiness and - the most deadly of all - extra commas. They each lie in wait for Marian, creating a rhythm as they bide their time, and the writers type away. A musical number ensues.





dodges a comma




Grammarly, we love you. Call us.

(and special thanks to our collaborator Avery Ragsdale for cooking up those parody lyrics!)

Don't forget to subscribe to the show to hear this hilarious episode with Dana Powell, dropping first thing tomorrow morning!

© Broadway Unlocked 2019

Send Help: Who is Jimmy Garoppolo and Why Is He Superman? Wed, 09 Oct 2019 11:00:00 -0400 fef8bd95-5fc9-4c23-8a13-e530b4b1b5f0 Five minutes into listening to tomorrow's episode with sports journalist Joon Lee, and I knew my BFA in musical theatre was not going to be enough to decipher the first topic he and Andrew talked about - I literally had no idea what any of the words meant. But, by golly, I spent thousands of dollars on Text Analysis classes, so Pinter and Tennessee out of the way, 'cause today I'm tackling.... F . O . O . T . B . A . L . L . When you listen to tomorrow's episode of the podcast with sports journalist Joon Lee, you'll quickly realize I'm not there and Andrew is flying solo.

That's because I was on a road trip at the time of the recording and had accidentally booked myself an overnight in the eastern Oregon town where all those crazy ranchers formed a millita and took over the wildlife refuge a few years ago ('Murica). As I rolled in and unpacked my car, there were vaguely menacing muscle dudes hanging out in the motel office, someone had decided to yell "Show Me State!" at me (which is where my car is tagged) while I loaded out my vehicle, and a dude eating a Big Mac outside my door was muttering to his Mom about the battle between Satan and Jesus. It's important to note that his Mom was not anywhere to be seen.

This is really a tale for another blog, so I'll leave the moral of the story at: Don't go to Burns, Oregon. it's scary, and the internet is really bad - which is why I didn't end up being able to log in to record this episode.


Do They Have A Course For Sports Talk?

Flash forward to this weekend, and I'm reviewing the show for social media content. About 5 minutes in, Andrew and Joon may as well have been speaking another language, because I swear I didn't understand anything they were referencing. Here's the quick list of what I heard:

Some dude named Jimmy Garappolo, a Superman reference, The Herd, being with Colin and some other guys, a "story" Joon was interested in, and some association with Tom Brady,

They never really explain wtf they are talking about, so I, Jess Ryan, actor and director, tap dancer and last person picked for every sports team ever am here to fill in the blanks.

Strap on your seatbelt.

Ok, Jimmy Garappolo apparently is a young football player who was on The Patriots (that's a football team, GOD I AM SMART) and was being talked about as the "next Tom Brady". If you're not familiar, that means he's good looking and really good at throwing a ball. Maybe the best next to TB. During a bye week (that means no game that week, BOW At MY FEET) he was unexpectedly traded away to the Niners (another football team, I'M SO SPORTY).

As all this was happening, Joon realized he really didn't know much of anything about this guy whose career he'd been following and whom he admired. As he says in the episode:

"As much as we love talking about athletes and putting them on pedestals, I think a lot of people forget that these guys are people too. And their personalities often directly reflect, in one form or another, their production on the field. Or often comes to reflect their production and personality on the field."

He got me with that one. What an interesting and insightful thought.

I dove into researching Jimmy.

Here's the important bits, as far as I can see:

  • He has a Superman chin (hence the reference in the episode... I'm starting to get it now)

  • Joon Lee is the most relevant sportswriter of our time. He single-handedly references Graduation-era Kanye, K Swiss, bro-squads and a porn star in one epic article on Jimmy in Bleacher Report. Did I understand the other sports stuff? No. Did I care? Nope. It was massively fun to read.

  • I'm obsessed with the Bleacher Report brand design. It's slick, it's cool and it's bold. The layout of this article makes my eyeballs so happy. (She's not here for the sports, folks.)

  • The photo of the Garappolos house hunting in Northern California makes that family look like some kind of freakish Venture Capital-meets-Sopranos-meets-The First Family to Die on The Walking Dead suburb gang. My family did not look like that, but I guess I have goals for the next life...

I'm not going to punish you with any kind of real re-cap of what Joon dug up on Garappolo, but if you are actually interested in this stuff (and it really is a great article), you can read the whole thing here.


Luckily for you, me and everyone else I know, the rest of the episode is an incredibly inspiring conversation about being an outsider, changing the entire course of an industry and what it feels like to be 24 years old and be a part of ground-breaking representation on the other side of sports - the people telling the stories of the athletes. I was super sorry to miss out on this recording, I think Joon's amazing and I can't wait to see what he does in career.

New episode drops tomorrow morning - check it out and let me know what you think!
Subscribe here.

CeCe Olisa Says: WWSYD? Wed, 25 Sep 2019 14:30:00 -0400 9aee5ee7-dfc5-4dde-97bc-5498cafb3c95 CURVYcon founder CeCe Olisa has me thinking there is an important question we should be asking ourselves today. Tomorow is the big launch of Take Me To Coffee and we're kicking it off with one of the best conversations we've had so far - our guest CeCe Olisa has done a lot of things in her life. She's the founder of CURVYcon, she has a well-known blog, she's a spokesperson for Nike and Ann Taylor Loft, and she's a fierce and outspoken changemaker around body positivity and inclusion for plus size women.

One thing she mentioned in the episode really stopped me in my tracks - she said she recently challenged herself to do all the things the skinny version of herself would do. I took it to mean we often put up our own limits on what we do, how we feel and what we receive - and I thought it was a really interesting, specific way to change a little bit of that for ourselves.

So. For all my ladies out there, I present to you the #WWSYD challenge, inspired by the lovely and talented CeCe Olisa.

What Would Skinny You Do, ya'll?

Here's the top three things I would do:
👚Wear shirts without sleeves
👀Not always be on the lookout for the ways in which people treat me differently as a leader because I'm not "hot"
👨🏽‍💻Assume that any man I meet is going to see my head, heart and body as attractive (instead of assuming that he won't)

Guess I have some work to do this week 👆🏾
Do me a favor and tweet us @tm2cpodcast and let me know what skinny you would do! Let's all hit this weekend with a little #WWSYD action.

Can't wait to see what it means to you!

Reading is Fundamental Wed, 11 Sep 2019 15:30:00 -0400 6799b5ef-8a1b-4c3d-91c7-1a424ca39bc7 We’ve talked to a lot of entrepreneurs and they seem to have one strange thing in common. The library is open. When I was in 4th grade, I read IT. Yes, that IT, by Stephen King. The IT that is 1,138 pages long and so terrifying I still can’t walk past a storm drain without looking twice even though I am a grown-ass woman. To be honest with you, I really don’t like bathtubs either and (SPOILER ALERT) being murdered in one, with your blood used as an art project for a deranged clown is literally the stuff of my nightmares. If my parents found out that 10 year old me was reading that book, I am telling you here and now, I would have been toast and probably would have had to write “I will not read books about child murders and racism” two hundred times as punishment. Luckily they didn’t find out, and I moved on to Ryan White: My Own Story about the AIDS epidemic lickety-split.

Funny story about that - I had this book on my desk in reading class one day. I 100% innocently asked my teacher (who, let’s just say, was getting up there in years) what the word “circumcision” meant and then pointed to it in the book. Because that’s what you’re supposed to do in reading class, right? I freaked my teacher out so badly, she started stuttering and like a geriatric ninja, maneuvered her way out of answering me.

Now, American puritanism in regard to sex getting in the way of the educational process is a whole other topic for the blog, but here is what IS relevant:

Ami Dar, the founder of (and one of our guests on the podcast), told an almost identical story on Episode 2! He apparently was really diving into The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany , the feminist tome Against Our Will: Men, Women, and Rape and The Gulag Archipelago as a 13-year-old -- his teacher also freaked out with a capital F.

Jokes aside, I think it’s an interesting pattern that seems to bridge generations, and it made me wonder if more of our guests than just Ami and I were also reading books that were way too advanced for most kids their age.

Turns out, Audrey Truschke (Episode 5), a professor at Rutgers and a historian who has taken Twitter by storm says she had her head in Atlas Shrugged for months as a teen.

I find myself wondering if we start looking for mentors long before we even know what they are or why we need them. And I’m wondering if that search starts in books. It makes sense, right? Easy access. A wealth of knowledge at your fingertips.

What about you? Did you read wildly age-inappropriate books as a kid? What were they and how did they influence you or the work you do now?

(Full disclosure, Audrey and I also both read Flowers in the Attic when we were way too young for that kind of book. SCANDALOUS! Raise your hand if you did too?)

3 Tips for Crushin' It on Insta with Influencer Amanda McCrossin Wed, 04 Sep 2019 08:00:00 -0400 4986f364-1d08-4cc7-a8c9-eaffa54ea47d Instagram and YouTube Creator Amanda McCrossin (aka Sommvivant) knows what it takes to grow a social media presence from scratch, and she’s sharing her tips with you. 5 years ago, Napa Valley sommelier Amanda McCrossin started teaching herself about Instagram as a way to demystify wine and bring people to Napa Valley without leaving the comfort of the internet. Fast forward to today, and her account, Sommvivant, has 23k+ followers, brand partnerships and she's getting calls from the heavyweights of wine to collaborate and amplify their projects on her channel.

On Episode 10 of the podcast, Jess & Andrew asked Amanda for her top Insta tips for people who are building amazing things and want to amplify them. Here’s the interview:

Caller who is secretly Jess:
Hi, I host a podcast with a friend, and that friiiiiend keeps bothering me in the evenings, texting me, asking me how to use Instagram to promote the show, how to use the swipe up feature, so... based on what you’ve learned along the way, what are your top three tips for him, so he’ll stop bothering me.

I’ll never stop bothering you.

I just got trolled on my own podcast.

NUMBER 1: It’s all about the tools of the trade

I love Instagram stories and I think that is the place where I can have the most fun and creativity without it being, without it bogging me down and so I use a lot of third-party apps to help me craft some cool stories. One of them is called Unfold and that is really nice for when you want to design... when you have a lot of different pictures and a lot of words and you want it to come out all pretty. I use Unfold a lot.

I use that because of you by the way!

Thank you, oh good I really love it! I also use Later to schedule all of my posts for PRESS. I don't use it so much for my own personal stuff because so much of what I do is kind of on the fly. But if you're someone who wants to schedule things up and you're using Instagram as a professional platform or something that you use to promote your business, your brand or whatever I do think Later is great and it also gives you insight into further analytics so you can iterate and figure out when to post and who's watching and what the performance was.

NUMBER 2: Try long-form on for size

I love the long-form Instagram post. I use every single character. I wish more people did. To me, I treat it like my blog and I treat it like a place to have a conversation.

NUMBER 3: Slide into your DMs. Seriously.

And I guess my last one is the DM's are so powerful. People underutilized the DM's and don’t treat them with the professional respect they deserve. I've gotten more opportunities and had better conversations in the DM's then probably anywhere else to the point where on my business card I don't even put my email anymore. I only have my Instagram and my YouTube channel and so anybody that wants to do any sort of work with me on the Sommvivant side of things, I just say check me out on Instagram. Because also, by the way, I don't really want them emailing me without first checking to see what I do to make sure it falls in line with what some of their strategies are. And so it was sort of forces that.

When you say mistakes with DM's can you give us a couple of examples of things not to do or to do with your DMs ‘cause I actually don't know a whole lot about that?

Yeah I mean I think I love hearing from people and I love getting questions in the DM's so if you make yourself available in the DM's, people -- I think a lot of people feel like they know me via the DM's better than they know me via my actual post. It adds this personal element and it brings a small town business element into it where you're kissing babies and shaking hands. And so I always say it may take me a day or two but I always go back through the DM's and make sure I respond to everyone who asked me a question and wants to get some answers.

Thanks, Amanda! Over here at TM2C, we are already rockin’ Unfold and Later, so we’re making a commitment to add DM communication to our Instagram arsenal. What other Instagram hacks and tips do you love? Let us know, and catch the entire episode to learn more about how Amanda grew her online following!

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