Followers Don’t Equal Income: How to stop relying on Social Media to get clients with Mary Shelton

There are so many ways to marketing your business, but the most valuable thing you can do for yourself is build a marketing strategy that you won’t get burnt out on. In today’s episode, Mary Shelton joins us to share about her experience in taking a break from social media to reassess her business after falling into the trap that she had to focus all of her time and attention on it. Listen in as she shares how she revisited the why behind her business, built a new approach to marketing that better served her clients and herself, and shares a few tactics to getting clients today without burning yourself out.

Called to Both is brought to you by Joy Michelle, mom of two and multi-passionate entrepreneur who’s on a mission to help others find balance between the worlds of motherhood and business. Called to Both is the podcast for women who have big business ambitions and also want to be intentional and present moms. At Called to Both, we truly don’t believe you have to choose between these two worlds tugging at your heart You can be Called to Both.

You can stay up to date with the Called to Both Podcast by subscribing on Apple Podcast App, Spotify, or your favorite podcast player!

Today’s episode is brought to you by Descript, my favorite tool for content creation! I use Descript to share smaller cut down pieces of my podcast, repurpose Youtube videos, and create on-screen captions in my reels. If you create content in your business, you need to check out this simple, easy-to-use tool!

If you’re enjoying the content we’re creating on the podcast and want to connect with others who are called to both, make sure you come join us in the Called to Both Facebook Group!

Mary is a Photographer, designer, margarita-lover, and Enneagram 2. She’s was born and raised Chicago and now calls Michigan home, but still loves some Lou Malnati’s pizza, living near the lake, and the Chicago Bears. Mary shares her personal take on approaching social media in an authentic way, and why she relies MORE on client experience and connection over the metrics of instagram. You’ll get some tips and growth strategies for when you need more clients like YESTERDAY and she answers my questions around marketing to millennial vs Gen z. IT’s packed, it’s refreshing, and I know you’ll love it.

Getting Caught Up in the Number that Don’t Matter

It’s so easy to get caught up in your follower count on social media! Mary Shelton knows first hand what that’s like, as she found herself obsessing over these social platforms, how she was performing, what the latest trends were, and even going as far as to taping her camera to show the Instagram crop so she was shooting for Instagram.

While she was getting clients, Mary quickly realized that she wasn’t working for her clients anymore, she was working for Instagram and TikTok. That’s when she decided to put a pause on her social media focus, become more intentional in her business, and not stress so much about something that wasn’t impacting her business as much as she credited it for.

Reviewing Your Brand’s Foundation

As Mary reflected on where she would put her attention, she took a look at herself, her foundation, and her ethos. The original reason she built this business was from shooting her son and creating heirlooms that would stand the test of time. Through creating this art with her own edgy style, she found her new focus building a business on heirlooms.

By focusing on her ethos, understanding what was important to her, Mary was able to define the business she wanted to build. The next step was to find a balance in how she marketed to her ideal customers.

Taking a Hiatus from Social Media

During this time of reflection, Mary decided to take a full month hiatus from social media. While she wouldn’t completely recommend this, it did give her a chance to review where her clients were coming from. Some of her clients were coming from Instagram, but a lot of them were through client referrals.

This break also gave Mary a chance to go back to the basics of her marketing strategy and review what she was doing. She was able to focus on that client experience to build even more referrals, start a Pinterest strategy that she could hand off to someone else to manage, and blog more to work on her SEO.

Becoming a Part of Your Client’s Experience

We’ve been taught about the importance of your client experience, but what if you became an actual part of that experience. What if you went through every step of their wedding planning like a best friend? What if they had the option to text you when major things happen?

If you’re searching for a secret keyword or blog post or marketing strategy that is going to land you clients, the honest truth is that it doesn’t work that way. You have to build an experience that serves them, but also excites you in the process.

Imagine, as a wedding photographer, how much more excited you’ll be to shoot a wedding when you’ve gone along through the process with your couple! Seeing every little detail come together while you’ve been building a one-on-one connection and relationship with your client will make the wedding day that much more special!

Tip: A simple start to creating this experience is to go on a venue tour with your clients and grab a drink after!

Creating Open Communication in Your Client Experience

Your client experience begins with the initial inquiry and how you’re connecting with them immediately. This could be a phone call, Zoom call, or an in-person meetup to get to know them! Having that open line of communication from the very beginning shows your clients that you care about them and understand just how important their day is.

This communication should continue throughout the timeline from booking to the event date. Just because a wedding isn’t for another year, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be building a great client experience—you need to stay in touch with them. You can even leverage tools like Honeybook to automate these tools.

If you are ready to up-level your own client experience, put yourself in your client’s shoes. Take a look at each touchpoint in your communication process and steps, are you keeping in contact with your clients and how do they feel when they aren’t hearing from you. Consider what it looks for buyer’s remorse to creep in, especially when a couple is planning their wedding day so far in advance. If they’re not hearing from you after making large payments, what emotions are they feeling?

Mary’s Quick Tips to Boost Your Inquiries & Bookings

  • Offer free downloads to grow your email list.
  • Use your email list to request referrals.
  • Get on Pinterest and post intentionally.
  • Be authentic and intentional on social media—don’t rely on it for inquiries.


Within our interviews on Called to Both, I’ll be asking each guest a series of rapid fire questions about being called to both! Check out Mary’s answers to my rapid fire questions below:

What does called to both mean to you? I am called to be a mom first and also an entrepreneur—how does that balance happen? I’m called to both and how can I give as much as I can to both of those things.

What is one thing that has surprised you about motherhood? How much you can love something and get so irritated about something at the same time.

What is one tool/tip that has helped you thrive? In motherhood, remind yourself and give yourself grace because your kids are watching you grow up as they’re growing up at the same time.

What is the last book you read? It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover & the Huberman Podcast

What is something that you’re excited about? A lot of weddings are coming up & just excited to be living the next year with this new outlook.

I hope you enjoyed today’s episode! If you’re enjoying the content we’re creating on the podcast, want to connect with others who are called to both, or even just request a topic on the podcast, make sure you come join us in the Called to Both Facebook Group!

Mentioned in this Episode:

The Artist’s Way



Coaching in Joy’s Accelorator

Connect with Mary:


Instagram: @marysheltonseniors

TikTok: @_mary_shelton

Connect with Joy:




If you decide to use any of the links above and buy through them, I’ll receive a small commission back. All of those affiliate income commissions really add up over time and help generate revenue to help support this podcast.

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