#BEYOUROWN MEETS LAURA BAKER
Laura Baker is the founder of Nourishing Moments Media, an up and coming social media management brand. She’s on a mission to help health and wellness brands nourish their social media presence through creative, engaging content and a focused social media strategy. Her personal experience with chronic illness and knowledge as a student dietitian pave the way for her to generate content that is not only evidence-based but connects with people on a personal level.
Hey Laura, can you introduce yourself to us?
I’m Laura. I’m 21, from Sydney, Australia. I recently started my own freelance business as a social media manager, called Nourishing Moments Media. I focus on helping health and wellness businesses nourish their social media presence through engaging content and a focused digital strategy. I enjoy building loyal and supportive online communities for my clients because when people feel supported, brand trust is developed. Being a student dietitian and having experience with chronic illness, I combine my personal and professional understanding of health and nutrition to generate online content that is not only evidence-based but connects with people on a personal level. I’m also an avid foodie (within limits of my food allergies!), perfectionist, Netflix enthusiast, cat-lover and I’m obsessed with burning scented candles.
You’re currently studying to be a dietitian, so can you take us through your journey to where you are now?
I grew up in a household with a range of food allergies, and I do think that was instrumental in my decision to study nutrition. For me, the source, preparation and function of food in the body has always been at the forefront of health. My own allergies to wheat, and recently discovered dairy and eggs, mean that I’ve had to experiment with cooking and really invest in looking after my diet and health. My mum and her passion for researching health-related issues have been a big inspiration for me. When I started to investigate dietetics seriously, I became really excited because I realised that I could use this knowledge and this passion to help people be the healthiest they can be.
Though I appreciated how complex health was, I don’t think I fully grasped the intricacies until my own challenges with chronic pain and fatigue developed. No facet of health lives in isolation. Our genetics, nutrition, psychology, environment and physical state inextricably interact on a level that scientists will probably never quite understand. And that’s why I think health should always be viewed as a big picture. There is never just one problem or just one solution. It’s because of this that I chose to also major in psychology so I could gain a better understanding of how to step back and see more of the picture.
I love what I’m studying, and I think that’s how you know you’re exactly where you’re meant to be. I love using what I learn to connect with others on social media. Ultimately, I think my personal health experiences are paramount to the learning process and will shape the dietitian I come to be.
What is a day in the life of you like as a social media manager for health and wellness brands?
It’s really flexible! Every day is different, and that’s what I love about it. I spend my time researching and curating content, implementing strategies, working closely with clients, and interacting with people from around the world through online communities. How cool is that?!
Can you establish the importance of combatting nutritional myths and fad diets in the media as we see today?
I get so fired up about this! The downside of social media is that it can be one big game of Chinese whispers – nutrition information can be spread from person to person, and each time it is changed until at the end, you’re left with a complete myth!
Let us not forget that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, started out as purely social platforms, where people go to be social. As their popularity has grown, so has their perceived authority as a source of factual advice. Did you know that on average, 1 in 3 Australians are using Instagram and 1 in 2 logs into Facebook daily?* And according to WEGO, 40% of users say the information they find on social media plays a role in their approach to health. That’s huge.
Dietary advice is of particular concern because we have seen a dramatic rise in unqualified health ‘gurus’ and ‘experts’ proclaiming ‘cure-all’ diets and products. While it’s fantastic to see people talking and being passionate about healthcare, sometimes the advice isn’t backed by evidence and promotes dangerous behaviours. It also ends up making nutrition seem more complicated than it is because there are so many voices contradicting each other. In a study completed by the University of Minnesota, more than 71% of adults surveyed reported hearing high/moderate levels of contradictory nutritional information in the media.
What it really boils down to, is that there isn’t one way to be healthy. Everyone has different bodies, that function and metabolise differently. The most important message to get out there in the media space is that health is not a one size fits all. It’s a culmination of a variety of factors – privilege and socio-economic status being high on that list. Our body is an incredible machine that really tries its best to look after us! That’s why I think it’s so important for healthcare professionals to get on social media and get their voice heard, I think it’s our ethical responsibility and it’s something I really highlight through my work at Nourishing Moments Media.
Can you tell us more about your own brand DNA and ethos?
What makes me different is my unique combination of professional and personal experiences. From a personal level, I understand how people use social media for health purposes, and I can appreciate which content can really connect with them. From a professional level, I can communicate evidence-based content to provide value to these audiences. As its just me, I provide a single point of contact and work in a close relationship with my clients to help them achieve their vision. I can personalise their social media packages to their needs so they are able to invest in what matters most to them.
Can you tell us how your own health experiences have been the catalyst in starting your business?
Ultimately, my health challenges have shaped where and who I am, and I think anyone who has experienced something similar can relate to that.
My health first took a downward turn in the first year of Uni, when I found myself collapsing on campus, and diagnosed with a painful heart condition. Though it was supposed to clear itself up in after a few weeks, this wasn’t the case. Instead, it got worse. Being a perfectionist, I was used to pushing myself beyond my limits to achieve… but all of a sudden I didn’t have the physical capacity to do so. I’m in pain every day. I’ve spent most of the last few years on bed rest, in and out of the hospital, seeing multiple specialists didn’t understand how I wasn’t getting better and told me it was something I’d just have to live with. I became isolated in ways that I had never known – sitting listening to friends talk about travelling, or working, or complaining about the gym, while I was putting all my effort into just trying to keep a straight face against the pain I was in.
I’ve become acutely aware of just little good health is appreciated until its gone. As they say, health is a crown that the healthy wear, but only the sick can see!
After major heart surgery, I started to see light at the end of the tunnel. Though challenged by chronic fatigue syndrome and PTSD, I started to learn to accept this new normal. And I realised I didn’t want to continue putting my life on hold. I wanted a purpose, something that I could channel my passion into. I realised that if I couldn’t make this illness go away, I could let it guide me.
That’s when I saw an opportunity for a social media internship with Dietitian’s Association Australia, and I got it. I realised that this was something I could do from home and I actually really enjoyed it. I love applying my psychology knowledge to understand marketing tactics. And, for me personally, I found chronic health groups on Facebook and Instagram were a comfort, a place where I could go to connect with people like me. I realised, why not look into creating this for other people? So I put time towards learning, growing, attracting clients, and building something that I could be proud of. To me, that’s what Nourishing Moments Media represents.
How would you say this has continued to guide you on your goals and passions and where can you see yourself within the next 3-5 years?
I think what it has taught me the most, is to slow down. To learn to accept where you are in the present, and that it’s okay – no, necessary – to make sure you leave time in the day to just be. This means that my goals are fluid because you don’t know where life is going to take you next. I have aspirations – to challenge myself to continue learning and growing, to work with lots of different health professionals, to write my own cookbook for those with allergies and chronic illness. If I aim to move towards these ideas a little bit every day, I know I will get there.
Can you highlight 3 major key strategies that you are utilising the most in order for your clients to gain the maximum benefit?
To me, one of the most important strategies is research! I spend a lot of time getting to know their ideal client, learning all about the audience, their approach to health and what they’re interested in. In this way, I can ensure that every piece of content is delivering value and connecting with people on a personal level.
Secondly, it’s really important to have consistent branding in terms of graphics and tone. Social media is like the equivalent of the first five minutes of a date, the majority of the time you know instantly from how they look and communicate whether it’s a good fit. You want prospective customers or clients to look at the social media accounts and say ‘yes, this is the business I want to invest my health into.’
Networking is just as important. Social media is *social* after all! People go on social media to be entertained, so how you market on social media is different to other forms of advertising. Focus on re-engaging previous customers, engaging with like-minded organisations, engaging with new audiences. This is imperative to boosting visibility online and generating that all-important brand awareness.
Who does the team involve behind you?
It’s just me! This is my freelance business, and I’m learning and growing with it. I have the support and love of my family and friends behind me, and that gives me a lot of strength to continue.
What are the key tools that you use for your trade?
As a social media manager, time management is key! I use an auto-scheduler and analyser called Later. I’m also a fan of Feedly, which searches the internet for relevant articles that I can use.
Can you tell us what areas you have struggled in professionally?
Well, this is something I’m sure lots of people are familiar with: self-doubt. It is the biggest productivity killer! To be your own cheerleader is one of the hardest jobs. But so worth it – and necessary – if you want to follow your passions.
Have you ever had any other mentor? If so how has this benefitted you to grow?
No, I actually haven’t had an official mentor! I’ve had my dad for business advice, and I interact with other social media managers, through social media, to ensure I’m continually growing and learning. Going out on your own is a huge learning curve, but when you see the results and feel good knowing you’re where you’re supposed to be – it’s so rewarding!
What outlets do use to market the positive and most effective ways to build support networks and communities for those who feel isolated by health conditions?
I think this really comes back to engagement. Every client of mine has a story and a solution to someone’s challenges with health. It’s all about channelling that story and marketing that solution to attract their ideal client base, and then really engaging with the fan base to encourage them to support each other in their journeys. That’s how you build an online community, with your business as the centre pillar.
Which methods are you using to build your own support network?
It’s pretty similar. Just reaching out to people online through Facebook groups or Instagram accounts!
What would you like to see changed for millennials in business?
I think millennials, as a generation, see the world differently. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t ultimately want to have an impact and work towards building a better world. We’re a socially aware generation of idealists and ecologists, and we are connected way more than generations before us. We know the state of the world, and we’re ready for it to change.
Work is no longer about the 9-5 grind, but about how can we each make a difference and enact lasting change. I think we are starting to see a real shift towards young people becoming entrepreneurs, and following their passion. It allows people to indulge in their creativity, and when people are fulfilled in their soul, it changes the whole landscape of careers as we know it.
What is the best piece of business advice you have received to date?
To know your worth and be confident in that. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, how can you expect a potential client to?
What is the number 1 critical lesson you have learned in your career so far?
The first is that there is always room to grow and that being challenged is a good thing. There is always time to try new things, new approaches. The world is constantly changing and so should you!
The second is that you have more control than you realise. It’s best to take the leap while you can, rather than keeping on waiting for ‘the right time.’ That time may never come, but the time for you to get out there and do what you love is within reach.
How do you create an evenly balanced work and personal life?
This is a difficult question because it’s not just about balancing work and personal life. I balance my physical health, mental health, my studies, my work, my social life. At the end of the day, I just have to listen to what is best for me. Accept that sometimes certain things have to become the priority above all else. Accept that sometimes you have to pull back from what you want to do, and just do what your body needs. In every decision I make, my health has to be at the forefront, otherwise, I will end up on bed rest again. That awareness and ability to listen to your body is so important.
A seminal point in your career so far?
Honestly, I think it’s now! Right now is an amazing time of growth for me. I’m really figuring out what I want to do and where I want to go, and that’s really exciting for me.
What gives you ultimate career satisfaction?
For me, satisfaction comes from knowing I’ve formed a supportive community of following for my client. When something that I’ve written encourages another to open up about their health or express gratitude about speaking out and raising awareness, that feels amazing. People say you can’t form genuine connections over social media, and it is true that it can’t replace face-to-face relationships, but for those looking for a place to belong… it can mean the world.
What challenges have you seen to have been presented during the growth of your business?
I guess, being a student dietitian can be limiting because during the semester I can’t focus solely on growing my brand. However, my studies are extremely important to me, and indeed crucial to my business and the learning process, so it’s kind of necessary!
It can be lonely work. Freelancers and those in entrepreneurial roles don’t really talk enough about that. You have to be comfortable working by yourself, you have to be comfortable with quiet, you have to be comfortable with trusting yourself to make all the decisions.
Which other leading entrepreneurs and pioneering game changers do you also admire and why?
I think it’s good to find inspiration in lots of people, but I particularly enjoy following dieticians who work in the media, such as Lyndi Cohen – The Nude Nutritionist, Alex, and Anna from The Biting Truth. I think they’re doing amazing work in the media landscape. I love how they emphasise nourishing the body in a balanced way.
What is a good article or book you have read recently?
I’m currently reading ‘Sunday Girl,’ by Pip Drysdale. It’s quite a good read!
Top 3 go-to Podcast channels?
I actually don’t listen to any Podcasts! Would love to hear some recommendations!
How do you define success?
In my opinion, success isn’t about reaching a certain salary figure or being constantly busy. I actually really dislike the use of the phrase “living your best life” because I feel like it puts a lot of pressure on living perfectly. Sometimes you can’t live your ‘best’ life, because of factors around you that are out of your control. And that’s okay, that doesn’t mean you’re wasting your potential or not doing enough. I think it’s more important to be happy in the now, and be happy with just making progress. There is not one ‘picture’ of success – I think it changes all the time according to what your abilities are, your circumstances, etc. Success to me is more of a feeling, rather than a tick on a checklist.
What does #BEYOUROWN mean to you?
Living your life in the best way for you, whatever that might mean. Not letting yourself be rushed by other people’s timelines. Allowing yourself to follow your passions, even though it might be scary!
Finally, what can we expect from you next throughout 2019?
You can expect that I’m going to be growing and evolving! Working with lots of different people, cooking up allergy-friendly meals in the kitchen and helping my clients achieve with their social media vision.