Would you want to pay the government $48,000?

Today is tax day.  A day where small business owners, like myself, cringe when they realize just how much the United States government is taking from them.  Small business owners all across the US today will certainly spend time thinking, "Even if I just had half of that money back, I could have..."  In 2015, my wife and I paid more taxes then we ever have.  After I write the last few checks today, we will have paid a total of $48,641 to federal, state and local government on a gross profit of $151,191.  That means that 32% of the money that we made selling t-shirts this year went to the government.


More than 3 out of every 10 shirts we sold, were sold to pay the United States Government.

Now, before you give me the "government helps people..." speech, let me ask you a question -

Do you want to pay the government $48,000?

Do you think they are using that money more efficiently and wisely than I would?  Do you think they will do a better job with that money than I will?

Let's imagine for one second that my tax rate is 15%, which it could be if Ted Cruz is elected president. I am not against paying some taxes, I'm just totally in favor of paying LESS taxes - for paying a flat rate no matter how much you make.

So, that means I would have $24,320.50 out of that $48k still in my pocket.

Now, let's imagine if I was the most selfish individual in the history of time and only wanted to spend that extra money on myself. I would take that money and do one of two things - buy a newer car or fix our back deck, which is slowly sinking into the ground.

If I bought a car, I would be putting that $24k back into the economy and helping the business of a local dealership, insurance, gas stations, etc.  Maybe an extra car sale is all a dealership in our area needs to hire another salesman... 

If I fixed our deck, I would hire a local contractor, Josh Strayer of Home Improvement Services. Imagine what the job could do for him and his family.  He would also have to buy supplies from a local lumber mill.  Maybe he would have to hire someone to help him with the job. After the deck was finished, Brooke and I would want to paint it, so we would either buy paint or hire a painter to do the job.  We then would probably want to get some new furniture and we would go out and buy some.  While we were out furniture shopping we would probably get coffee or stop for lunch and so on.

The possibilities are endless when you let the American people keep the money they've earned and spend it how they see fit.

Now, I am not the most selfish person in the world, so let's imagine another scenario.

Imagine if I was able to keep that extra 24k and use it in my business.  I could give my employee, Alexa, a raise that she could use on her house, car and in her life.  She and her husband could go on vacation or have an extra date night every week.  Again, the possibilities are endless.  After giving Alexa a raise, I could buy more inventory which results in paying our printer, manufacturer, and so on.  I would have more to sell and some extra money, so maybe I could spend more money on Facebook advertising. Then Facebook has to hire more people to manage their advertising branch.  Again, the possibilities are endless when the money we make is circulating in the economy.

I run just one of the millions of small businesses across the United States.  Imagine if we could all just keep half of what we work to make day in and day out. Do you think we would spend it better than the US government does?  I think we would.

Now, I know that some will argue with this post by saying, "What about the less fortunate?"  "T.J., you are so selfish.." "Don't you care for the poor?"  And I would say this, in 2015, Brooke and I also personally gave away more money than we ever have, totaling $20,473.25.  I don't share the number for praise, but to prove a point because the "Don't you care about the poor?" argument is terrible.  Does the government care about the poor?  Should they care about the poor? Shouldn't that be the job of the people? Of friends? Of family? Of the CHURCH!?!  Has the welfare system ever given someone a good paying job to provide for their family?  Or is it small business owners, like me, providing jobs?

Even if I didn't want to give away my money, again, do you think the government is going to use it more efficiently than I will? Imagine if I used that 24k to hire someone in my area and gave them a well paying job?  Do you think that would help more than a government handout?

I am sure that some of you are still caught up on the fact that my business made $151k and that in some way makes me "the man" or an evil white guy....

To that I would say this, Brooke and I are both employed by our business and are currently paying ourselves a salary of $58k.... combined. That means we each make a salary of 29k because we want the rest of the money we make to go back into growing our business.  I could easily make more money working for someone else than I currently do working for myself.  But I want to grow my business and I LOVE IT, so I am willing to sacrifice while walk in love. grows.

So you can call me selfish, and tell me that the money we make should go to the government, but again I ask this question - DO YOU WANT TO PAY THE GOVERNMENT $48,000 OF YOUR MONEY?

In 2016, we will have the opportunity to elect a new president.  Three out of the four candidates want make government bigger and give it a greater reach into our personal freedoms and liberties.  A bigger government will mean higher taxes and less money in the pockets of the US citizens.  Only one candidate, Ted Cruz, is campaigning on the idea of a limited government with less power, which is the way the constitution laid it out.

If our government is smaller, we will simply have less to disagree with.  If our government is smaller, we will keep more of our money to do whatever the heck we want to with.  If our government is smaller, it is the people who have the power.  If our government is smaller, I could probably fix my deck, which is sinking into the ground. πŸ˜‚  If our government is smaller I could probably stop driving a 2006 Chrysler Town + Country Mini-van, where the wheels might fall off at anytime. πŸ˜‚  If our government is smaller, I would have more jobs to give and more money to give away.

I am not an extravagant guy.  One of my main goals in business is to give away a million dollars. It is hard to do that when 3 out of every 10 shirts I sell are sold for a government overrun with waste, corruption and greed.  We the people, need to raise our voices and shrink the ever growing, overreaching government that is invading our personal lives more and more.

I started my business with $300 almost 11 years ago.  I don't come from wealth.  My mom is a flight attendant and my dad is a missionary.  I want to grow my business to be as large as it can be, so I can help as many people as possible.  I completely understand I have to pay some taxes, and I am not advocating that I don't.  I am simply stating that I am paying too much to an inefficient, over-sized government.

It doesn't take long to realize that people are fed up with the government, so why would we ever want to make it bigger?  Why would we ever want to give it more control over our lives?  I can only imagine what would happen if small business owners, like myself, were able to keep the money we work so hard for.

Why Most Churches Are Bad At Social Media + How They Can Get Better!

Every now and then I find myself on a church's social media and, if I am being honest, most them are really bad at social media.  As a Christian who loves social media, and the influence it can have on people's lives, I have a hard time with many churches being so bad at it.  The story of Jesus is the greatest story in the history of time, yet churches seem to struggle to tell it, or any story for that matter, with their social platforms.

I thought I would point out a few ways that churches stink at social and leave a few suggestions on how to get better.  I am writing this for all the people who have social media positions at churches, or hope to someday.  My guess is three different things might be happening -

1. You are one of the churches who are actually good at social! Most churches are in denial about being good at social media, so please be honest with yourself. Way to go!

2. You have been trying to explain to head pastors or executive directors why the vision for social media needs to change with no success, so you've given up and just do what you are told while looking for another job.  The church is really good at burning out employees.

3.  You are oblivious to the error in your churches social and probably shouldn't have the job you have, but you clicked on this article anyway. Welcome!

My goal for this post is not to just point the finger and tell all churches they are bad at social, because a select few aren't.  My goal is to show how the use of social platforms for churches needs to change, so that when someone is clicking around on Instagram and ends on your church's account, they are so compelled by your content that they come this weekend.

I believe that someone can start with a silly church Instagram feed and end with the amazing love of Jesus.

Also, for the most part, I am referring to churches Instagram feeds when discussing ideas below:

Problem: Where is the community you talk so much about?

I have been to a lot of churches in my life.  Almost all them talk about living in community in some way.  Most churches have a type of small group system in place that allow smaller groups in the church to meet together and support each other as they try to walk out living like Jesus.  I've seen and heard pastors talk about the congregation being the church. YET, when you look at most churches Instagram feeds, you don't see this community they talk so much about.  You see text... sooo much text.  Seriously church, why are you posting so much text to a photo sharing platform?  Why not show the people you talk so much about!?!


The churches that are dominating social media are the ones that do the best job at showing who the church is - the people.  Fire one of your graphic designers and hire a photographer who can take photos of people coming in and out of services and interacting with each other.  Have that same photographer head out to small groups all week and take photos in peoples houses as they meet and talk about Jesus.  Have that same photographer head to peoples places of work and photograph them with some text/copy that talks about what they do and how they shine for Jesus at their place of work.  Stop plastering your Instagram with set-lists or countdowns to the next series and start showing the church, which is the people!  Practice what you preach. And if you are constantly preaching about the community that makes up the church, your social should reflect that.

Two churches that do a great job at this - Vous Church + The City Church

Problem: Bulletin Board Syndrome

Bulletin Board Syndrome (something I made up) : A disease that infects social media feeds when treating a story telling platform like a cork bulletin board, resulting in loss of followers, engagement and anyone caring.

I understand that there is a lot going on at a church.  You've got everyone from toddlers to the elderly, all in attendance, and ministries that are geared toward dozens of different age groups.  You want to get them the information they need for different events, so you think social is the best way to do that.  Well, it's not.  First of all, there is no way that all age groups are checking for news and ministry updates on social, so it seems silly that you would use it for that.   Secondly, that is what websites are for!  You can put so much more information for an event on a website and if people are really that interested in that specific ministry, they will go and find it there.  Keep your social social.  There is nothing social about a bulletin board.  Tell me the last time you really engaged with a bulletin board?  My guess is that you walk by it without a second thought or glance.


Try for an entire week to not post a single "bulletin board" type item to your church's Instagram.  My guess is that the attendance to all the events you were posting about will be unchanged, because people have already decided to come, or not, outside of the reminder just posted to social.  Instead, spend the week going to several church ministry events and documenting them, and documenting them well.  Have you ever had a friend post a photo to an awesome event they went to and think "Man, I wish I could have gone to that!"  My guess is the next time the event comes around, you will make a point to go.  Instead of spending your time telling people about an event coming up on social, spend your time documenting the events that are already happening.  Use that photographer you hired and have them capturing all aspects of what is happening at the church.  Post that story to your Instagram and my guess is the attendance will increase because people will see what they are missing.

A Church that makes me want to go to every event they have, simply based on their social - Hillsong NYC

Problem: Terrible Hype Guy

Most churches need to fire their hype guy.  First of all, I don't think the church needs to hype all their series like they are the next great thing.  Preach well and people will do it for you. But on occasion, I totally get why a church wants to hype a series, special guest or event they have.  I think most churches try to hype every single thing too much, and when over-hype, people stop caring.  Therefore, limit what you hype and build up to.  Once you limit what's getting the spotlight, then do a better job at hyping said thing. 


Again, I believe that you should be very selective when building up to something on your social media.  I think your social should mostly show the love, grace, joy and life-change of a church and not just build up to what is next, making people feel like they're already missing out on something. So keep hyping to a minimum, but when you have to, be more creative.  STOP POSTING COUNTDOWNS TO THINGS.  We get it, that big event is 5 days away...oh wow, today it's 4, tomorrow it will be 3.... WHAT?!?!  I had no idea...

Create a plan to build up to an event.  Actually market it.  Stop being lazy with your strategy and come up with a plan and execute it well.

A church that shouldn't fire their hype guys - Fresh Life Church

PROBLEM: Asking for a "Big Picture"

I have had multiple meetings with pastors who want to "pick my brain" on social media.  They sit down and ask, "So what should our big picture be on social media?"  I can tell by that one simple question that this church will fail at social. Let me give you a secret about social media - there is no big picture.  The only picture is producing great content on a regular basis that tells the story you want to tell.  That's it.  If you are waiting for some big picture to show up, it never will, and you will always be bad at social.  Stop having meetings about "what to do on social" and just start creating content for social.  Showing up consistently is half the battle.  Once you do that start to refine and improve your content.  People will respond to good content.  


Imagine if churches had less meetings talking about what they were going to do and actually just worked on doing it.  When I click through churches social feeds, it is so obvious how some are so good and some are so bad.  I am guessing that the ones that excel are really letting their creative team do what they do, and the ones that are bad are having meetings telling their creative team what they are allowed to do. I have learned in running our business to let Brooke, the walk in love. creative director, to do what she is going to do.  The more freedom I give her, the better she is at doing her job.  I let her create and post what she wants because I trust she has a pulse on our followers and engagement.  Too many heads of churches try to control every aspect and that leads to subpar content posted inconsistently. 

But, all of this isn't going to just going to happen overnight, so work to get better and never stop working! Social will constantly be changing, platforms, algorithms, and trends, but it will always be a way to connect with someone that could lead to a life changed forever. Give the people who run your accounts freedom to run those accounts.  Trust that God has given them the skills to create a piece of content that someone might see, that could end with them knowing Jesus.

If you are a social media person in a church, share this with your team. Ask those in charge to let you to do what you can do. If you, however, are a leader or pastor who knocks the "creative legs" out from under your team, STOP! Let them create.

The story of Jesus is the greatest story ever told in human history.  He has reached into our lives and picked us up, saved us and pushed us to live more loving lives.  I tear up any time I hear about someone giving their life to Christ.  It is so beautiful and amazing.  I believe that we, as a church, just need tell that story over and over again.  The power in it will never cease to work wonders.  We should be telling that story on social all the time.  Sometimes that could be a simple image of people hugging outside the doors of your sanctuary, sometimes it might be a story about a BBQ hosted by the church, sometimes it might look like a photo of someone raising their hands and singing their heart out on stage.  It will look different to every church, but if we tell the story well in the medium provided, I absolutely believe it will be effective -- encouraging people to give their hearts to a loving Savior. I desire for every church to be good at social media, because the better they are, the more people will walk through the doors and the more lives will be changed.

CHURCHES WHO ARE AWESOME AT SOCIAL - Fresh Life Church, Vous Church, The City Church, Elevation Church, Hillsong NYC.  I know there are probably loads more, but start by watching what these churches do and be inspired to make your own.

You Can Shine Backstage!

On Friday walk in love. will be releasing the Shine collection.  Our brand new Spring/Summer collection.  It's in a style and aesthtic that we've talked about releasing for the last two summers, but ended up going other directions.  The Shine colelction is a vision that Brooke has had for a while and we believe it's perfect timing to release it.  It's going to be awesome!  Again, releasing Friday at 10am EST. - shopwalkinlove.com

As walk in love. grows I find myself not physically doing as much as I once was.  I don't answer e-mails, I don't ship orders every day and for this collection I had nothing to do with the aesthetic and feel, outside of the designs.  After I designed and ordered the products I took a step back.  I handed the keys over to Brooke and said, "Do your thaaanng girl!"

It's really hard for me to step back.  I tend to take charge in situations.  I like to share my ideas publicy and give my opinion.  It's why I have a blog, record youtube channels and fill up my Snapchat.  I really enjoy being out there in the public eye.

But with this collection, I knew that Brooke had a specific vision and I needed to take a back seat to her creative genius.  I told her that I trusted her and I would do what I could to help, but really wanted her to do what she wanted.

So, this past Friday I packed up the car for Brooke and her mom to head south for North Carolina.  It's a good thing they did because it snowed the next day in Lancaster.  It would have been very difficult to make that look summery if the photoshoot had been in PA.  We chose Raleigh, NC because Brooke's cousin and best friend Kate lives there.  She also has an aunt, uncle and other cousins in the area, which is why Brooke's mom went with her.

My role was staying home and watching June.  That's how I was able to help.  Normally, I help by coming to the photoshoots, giving ideas, making models laugh and feel comfortable, etc.  But this time, I helped by taking care of June so Brooke could do her thing without any worry about how our little girl was doing.  It was not glamorous by any means.  I fed her, changed her, walked with her, bathed her and played with her on repeat since Friday.  It was normal dad life through and through.

Last night, after I put June to bed I came downstairs to clean up the trail of chaos she leaves in her wake, which I love and no, I am not kidding.  I love that our house is filled with toys and that she is constantly exploring.  It makes my heart so happy to see toys, games, controllers and cheerios covering our floor at the end of the day.  It means life was lived in our house and I really do love it.  Anyway, after cleaning up I sat on the couch and opened up Snapchat.

Follow walk in love. on Snapchat - @shopwalkinlove

Follow walk in love. on Snapchat - @shopwalkinlove

I told Brooke that I really wanted to have someone Snapchatting behind the scenes footage of the shoot so, she nominated her cousin Kate, who did a great job!  I sat on the couch and started watching the Snapchats and you guessed it, started crying.  It's hard to express how my heart feels when I see the company that I started over ten years ago doing something I never expected.  I cry all the time when I think how walk in love. has grown, but this time was different because this time I was backstage.  Brooke was shining, front and center, as the Snapchat followed her shooting, directing and interacting with the models and creative team.

I am always asking God to show me new things through what we are doing with walk in love.  I never want it to be come stagnant and predictable to me.  I want God to move through my company to touch peoples hearts and lives.  We've seen Him touch many hearts through what we are doing and this time He didn't disappoint, he touched mine.

He showed me that you can shine backstage.  

If you are someone who finds themselves on a stage with lots of eyes watching, SHINE BRIGHT!  But in reality, most of us won't.  Most of us will be on the stage crew, running audio, lighting and ushering people to their seats.  And when we find ourselves backstage we can cross our arms and look on with jealousy as someone gets all the credit OR we can do whatever we can to make sure we are shining bright and setting up whoever is center stage to do the same.  Shine where you are and let God use His brilliant light shining through you to change the hearts and minds of the people who are always watching, even when it's "just" your kids.

There are times I will probably find myself on a stage again, whether physically or digitally, and I will do my best to Shine bright for Jesus, as should you.  But I want to always remember that even while I am backstage I can shine just as bright and so can you.

5 Things I'd Do If I Owned A Food Truck/Restaurant

Let's be real.  If I was to ever own a food place it would be called "Snack Trayz" with a bar of delicious cheeses, fruits, vegetables + dipping mustard. You'd fill your tray, weigh it at the end, pay and sit and enjoy the greatest creation on planet earth - the snack tray. (Patent pending, verbal trademark, please don't steal this idea!)

A food business is always something I can see myself doing later in life when Brooke and I are old and gray.  Brooke loves to cook and I love to interact with people so, I think it would be fun.  I also love the loyalty that comes with a food business.  We have regular walk in love. shoppers, which is amazing! But even the "regulars" in other businesses like ours can't compare to regulars at a restaurant or food truck.  The restaurant world allows you, as an owner or manager, to really build a relationship with your customers, which is just incredible!

Anyway, if I did own a restaurant, or food truck, here are some of the things I would do from a marketing stand point.  

1. I'd Reward My Regulars Outside of My Reward Program πŸŽ‰

No one is going to talk about your eatery like your regulars.  If someone is coming to eat at your establishment every day, or every week, make sure they know they are appreciated.  Obviously, you can do things like the punch card that allows them to "buy 9 sandwiches and get the 10th free".  But just imagine what that regular would do if you went beyond that. Imagine if you covered their meal from time to time totally unexpected.  Imagine if the next time they brought a friend, you let them both eat for free.  What if you gave them a free t-shirt or mug that you sell.  I think too often in business we get stuck thinking that people have to "earn" something free.  If you HAVE to buy 10 before you get 1 for free, are you really getting it for free?  Feels more like you are earning it, right?  I think the awesomeness about owning a food business is that food isn't crazy expensive, so you can give it away a lot easier than someone selling watches or cars.  So, if I had an eatery, I would reward my regulars outside of my standard reward program.  Just think about the last time you got something for free.  My guess is you went home and told someone about it!  Imagine if your regulars, who already like what you do enough to keep coming back, were not only talking about your fantastic food, but also talking about how well you treat them! Priceless.

2. I'd Set Up My Restaurant/Food Truck To Be a Social Media Paradise πŸ“·

If I were to own an eatery, I would make sure that every aspect of it was geared toward being shared on social media.  I would make sure my food looked beautiful, my packaging was clever and most importantly, that my space/truck was set up to make Instagrammers and Snapchatters salivate when they walk in, even before they started eating.  I'd even go so far as to have a wall  or area in my space (or on the back side of my truck) literally reserved for taking pictures of yourself with food.  See example below.

If you are scrolling through your feed and you see a friend eating at some place that looks awesome, then you are probably going to want to go.  So, if I was in charge of restaurant I would design the layout, graphics, space, etc. while asking myself this question, "Will someone Instagram this?"  Not only do you start to get your customers to do your marketing for you, but you also get an endless amount of content to repost, share and engage with.  It's a win win.

3. I'd Host Meet-Ups All The Time πŸ‘‹πŸ»

I would host all sorts of meet-ups at my establishment -- Instagram meet-ups, Snapchat meet-ups + photography meet-ups, just to name a few.  I would try to bring people together as often as possible, because food and conversation just go hand in hand.  Whenever you have a party, the  kitchen is the most sociable room and I would hope that my eatery would be the same.  I would reach out to the famous and well known Instagrammers in my area and ask if they wanted to do a meet and greet some night with their fans.  I'd have a "Snapchat Your Trip" night where I'd ask people to make their way to the cafe to eat and then Snapchat what it takes for them to get my space.  Best snap-story wins free drinks for a week... or something.  Again, I would try to get my customers to share on social because social media is going to spread the word about my food business.  Every year Instagram has a world-wide meet-up and I would use that event and date, and others like it, to get people to my establishment.  I'd incentivize the meet-ups with half-off menu items, as well!

4. I'd Use Facebook Ads πŸ’°

I know I say to use Facebook ads in every single one of these "X Things I'd Do if..." but its because it works.  I can't imagine if I were a food business and could direct market to people who lived and worked in the area of my eatery.  If you are like me, you probably check your social before heading to lunch.  I bet if I had an ad for a local restaurant show up in your feed before started lunch you might be pretty tempted to head there for a bite.   Even if it didn't work 4 days a week, it might work on a Friday.  I'd use "free drink with purchase" coupons in my ads to give people an extra incentive to come on in.  What if the person you hook with a Facebook ad becomes a regular! 

5. I'd Have An All Are Welcome Mentality πŸ˜€

I know that all restaurants and food truck owners who read this would probably say, "Isn't that a given?" And yes, you would think that would be a given.  But how many of you reading this have been to a place to eat where they make you feel un-welcomed and dumb for not knowing how it works.  I went into this coffee shop one time and the pretentious barista made me feel so dumb for not knowing what a certain drink was, so I will never go back.  I would make sure that every single person that worked in my food space would go above and beyond to make suer every single person felt welcome.  I was at a local spot a few months ago and I could hear two servers complaining loudly about their manager while I ate.  Guess what?  I don't want to hear how poorly a place is run by the jerk manager while I am eating food from said place.  I would do my best to make sure my team knew how important it was to promote a fun, positive and happy atmosphere because surprisingly, there are places that don't... Seriously, how is that even possible when it comes to eating?  It's literally one of the best things you can do in life.

Maybe someday I will use these tactics at Snack Trayz, but until then, I hope they help you as you grow your Food Truck/Restaurant.  If you want me to share "what I'd do if I were" in your field of work or business, please comment on this post with the industry or marketing conundrum. I'd love to hear from you! Have a great day!

10 Ways I Am Growing My Snapchat Following For Myself and My Business!

Lately I have been getting a lot of questions about Snapchat from friends and followers.  The questions usually look something like this?

How do I grow my following on Snapchat?


Is there any value in using Snapchat for my business?  How do I use it for my business? 

Over a year ago I signed up for Snapchat, opened the app, clicked around, closed it and deleted it from my phone.  I totally didn't understand why I would ever spend time on this app.  The only person I ever text photos to is Brooke and they were normally of June and I didn't want them to disappear after six seconds.  At that time the story feature of the app wasn't what it is today, and I just couldn't wrap my head around why I would create content for walk in love. that would end up disappearing.

One of the 10th grade guys in my small group used Snapchat a lot, mostly to flirt with girls, and I remember telling him, "I just don't understand Snapchat. I don't know why I would ever use it." πŸ˜‚

Fast forward to August 2015, and I am starting to see the app rise in the App store and I hear Gary Vaynerchuk, my favorite business guru, start talking about how "now is the time to go all in on Snapchat."  So, I re-downloaded the app and started using it more regularly.  In just seven months I have been able to grow my personal Snapchat story views by hundreds and walk in love's by thousands.  

Below I'm going to do my best to explain what I am doing on Snapchat in hopes that it helps you grow your story views!

1. Tell An Actual Story πŸŽ₯

Too many people just post random Snaps and they don't actually tell a story.  The first "story" I told on Snapchat was about Brooke and I making popcorn to watch Netflix.  In 15ish Snaps, I showed Brooke making the popcorn, me singing about the popcorn and us starting to eat the popcorn to watch our show.  It was literally a story about popcorn. πŸ˜‚ That night I had friends texting me telling me they were cracking up while watching those Snaps.  They enjoyed it because it was an actual story.  It had a beginning, middle and end.  I could have very easily just taken a photo of a bowl of popcorn with text that said, "Popcorn and Netflix."  People would have clicked past that and, chances are, no one would have cared.  Too many people are just posting a Snap here and there, which is okay occasionally, but that's not really using the "story" mode of Snapchat to it's fullest potential.  Tell the story of you going to Target, or getting your coffee or of your workout at the gym.  If people are following you on Snapchat they want to see that!  Don't be afraid of going overboard on the amount of Snaps it takes to tell someone how you got from your house to Panera.  Tell simple stories like that, or tell long stories like working on your house for weeks to get ready for a party.  I have done both!

On the business side of things, we do post more random Snaps, just so our story always has something in it, but when we can tell a full story of us taking product photos, or working on blog posts, or creating something, we do! That's always preferred!

Again, it's called a story and people are ready to watch one. People love telling good stories, so if you show them a one on your feed, they might be more likely to tell their friends about it - which could lead to another Snapchat follower!

2. Don't Be Someone Else πŸ’―

When I started really using Snapchat, I was only following Gary Vaynerchuk, and watching his story, so naturally I started to mirror what he did.  He encourages people in their businesses and tells them to just do it and stop making excuses.  He does it while saying the F-word a lot, which isn't my style, but encouraging people in business is something that I really like to do, but it's not totally who I am.  I also like to sing, have fun and interact with my family, something Gary doesn't do on social.  Once I started to lean into the person that I am on Snapchat, my following started to increase rapidly.  Not only that, but I started to see people tweet and post about how much they were enjoying my stories on Facebook and Twitter!

I think the word "authentic" is so overused in such an obnoxious way on social media right now, but if you want to grow on Snapchat be authentic, like the real authentic, not the fake I am trying to copy someone else authentic.  Snapchat actually is the most raw and authentic social media on the market today.  It's not edited, color corrected or flashy.  It's just you with a front facing camera doing yo thang.  There is no room for bull-crap and if you try to be anyone than yourself people will see through it and stop watching.  Be the best version of yourself on Snapchat and lean into that whole heartedly.  Anytime I ask Brooke, "You think I should post that?" She responds, "If you like it, then it's worth posting."  If you want to jump completely into the Snapchat world leave the editing and touch-ups to your Instagram.  Be the real version of yourself.  I think the app is growing because that's what people want to see!

3. Use Your Content Elsewhere πŸ“±πŸ’»

Two months ago I had the idea to create a "reality show" based off my Snapchat called, "Oh Snap! It's Brooke + T.J."  The first "episode" was recorded during the massive blizzard that hit the Northeast.  I saved all my Snaps from the day, added a little intro and posted it to YouTube.  It didn't go viral or get an enormous amount of views.  Currently it has 171 on YouTube and 237 on Facebook. Instead of letting all my content die on Snapchat, never to be seen again, I let it live on Facebook and YouTube.  I don't save every Snap, but instead I save the occasional day here and there, so my followers without Snapchat can see it and engage with the content I am creating.  I am confident that if people are watching episodes of "Oh Snap!" on Facebook or YouTube they will follow me on Snapchat the second they get the app.  They aren't viral videos by any means, but some of the episodes have over 1,000 views between Facebook and YouTube.  So, over 1000 people are engaging with my content outside of Snapchat.  That is worth the time it takes to upload.  Take your best Snaps and upload them to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter or Instagram.  Let them have more life elsewhere to grow your following!

Here is one of our longer episodes of "Oh Snap!"  While the YouTube views on it aren't high, it was viewed over 2,000 times on Facebook!

4. Create Snapchat-Only Content πŸ“²

I know I just told you to use your content elsewhere, but on the other side of that, I will tell you to keep some of your content just on Snapchat.  Snapchat is the "gated community" of social medias.  The only way people can see what's inside the gate is by going through the process of finding and following you.  There is no discovery page, no hashtags, no following the people you follow elsewhere. It's straight up old school marketing - trying to get people to watch your story by telling them to watch your story.  I think one of the best ways to get people to climb the gates to see what's on the inside is to entice them with the occasional exclusive content.  Every now and then post to Instagram, or wherever, that people have to see what you just did on Snapchat.  Get your followers on other social platforms to climb the walls of your Snapchat and step inside your story.

One way we did this for walk in love. was by having a Snapchat Easter egg hunt.  We drove all around our hometown hiding Easter eggs with gift cards in them.  The only way to get the clues as to where the eggs were was to follow us on Snapchat.  In two days of hiding eggs, we doubled our story views.  Creating unique content for Snapchat will always help your story grow!  Here are a few of the many Snaps walk in love. was sent when people found an egg!   It was so much fun, added lots of value to our customers, and grew our Snapchat following!

5. Be A Super Fan Of Your Snapchat πŸ˜€

If you want more people to watch your story stop posting to your other socials things like,

"Well, guess maybe I am giving this whole Snapchat thing a try, follow me if you want, but whatever, it's not that cool, if you aren't too busy, maybe you might, be able to maybe, follow me if you want to, maybe..."  

If you want people to add you on Snapchat then you should be a fan of what you are doing on Snapchat.  Too many people under sell what they do with "false humility."  Be proud of the story you are telling and ask people to follow it! There is nothing wrong with that.  If you aren't a fan of what you are doing, why would expect anyone else to be?

6. Pimp That Ghost πŸ‘»

If you want to make an epic run at growing your story views on Snapchat you will need to tell more people you are on Snapchat.  Here are some easy ways to do that.  

  • Have your Snapchat username in your Instagram + Twitter bios.
  • If you have a blog, make sure your Snapchat ghost is there! On your side bar, or footer! Or "About Page"
  • When you have a great story going, post to Instagram a corresponding photo telling people to "see more on Snapchat".
  • Have days where you answer questions on Snapchat, if that's something you like doing.  I love doing it!
  • At walk in love. we have a little cards that we put in every order that have our ghost on it.  If you sell something, send the ghost with every order! It's so easy!
  • I recently told a hand type artist to figure out if she can paint her Snapchat ghost, so that shows up on Instagram and isn't the same ghost that everyone else posts.  I think if you make a template and get the dots just right it will work!  Using your ghost creatively will probably lead to a few followers!
  • Post the occasional Snapchat Ghost to Twitter and Facebook.  Remind people you use Snapchat.
We include this card with every order!  Our ghost is so cute and is wearing a great t-shirt!

We include this card with every order!  Our ghost is so cute and is wearing a great t-shirt!

7. Be Consistent ⏰

Consistency is the key to all social media.  If you can create good content in a consistent manner you will grow.  I really try to have something on my story at all times. If it's the number one app in the App Store right now, that means people are checking it non-stop.  I want my story and my business to be there whenever they are so I can keep reminding them that we exist.  Hopefully that constant reminder will eventually lead to a t-shirt sale!

8. Use Snapchat As a Customer Service Platform πŸ“ž

Let's be real.  The internet has made us all lazier.  We want people to tell us exactly what we want, when we want it.  Which is why I try to answer as many questions as possible on Snapchat.  It's the new Twitter customer service channel, but unlike Twitter, you can actually type back a full response and not spell "you" with just a "u", which is just the worst.

9. Be Ready To Change With Snapchat πŸ””

I don't know if you heard, but Instagram is changing πŸ˜‚!  Facebook has also changed a few times and so has Twitter.  All socials will change because of the way we interact with and use the internet as a whole changes.  Be ready for that change on Snapchat.  Adapt to the social media instead of throwing a pitty party every time change comes.  Be ready to analyze the change and come up with a way you can use it to grow your story view or brand.

10. Celebrate Any Growth πŸŽ‰

I am not DJ Khaled or Kylie Jenner, who are the two most viewed people on Snapchat. I think we can see an image like the one below showing a screen shot of DJ Khaleds views and think, "I will never be there, so what's the point?" Even if you start just getting one more view on your story than you did last week that is growth - and all growth is good growth.  Who knows?  That one new person might lead to thousands of dollars in sales for your business or might be the person who offers you a sweet job!  Celebrate all growth, no matter if you are going from 10 views to 11 or 1,000 views to 10,000. 

Only 3 million views away from DJ Khaled πŸ˜‚

Only 3 million views away from DJ Khaled πŸ˜‚

BONUS - Custom Geo-Filters 🎯

I have not personally used a Snapchat Custom Geo Filter, but I can't wait until the opportunity presents itself!  These are going to be the social media add-ons for all events in the future.  If your brand, business or organization is having a big event, use this new feature Snapchat introduced!  I was just telling a friend of mine who runs the social media for a food truck that she should use it when they launch their summer opening this year!

I don't know how helpful all these tips will be in the future of Snapchat, but it's what is working for me and my company right now.  You might read this and think, "Geez, all this guy cares about is views, that's so beneath me ... blah blah blah."  Well, when you run a business and want to grow it and sell more, the amount of followers, views, likes and so on does matter.  The more people I can get looking at walk in love. shirts, the more chances I have to sell one. Do the amount of views I get define me?  Absolutely not. But I do see the value in them and if you want to grow your business or brand, you should too.

And while I've got you feeling pumped up about Snapchat, go ahead, ADD ME! 

Questions From A One on One

Lately I have been having 30 minute one on one jam sessions with people about their businesses.  It's something that I love doing and so I am doing it for FREE, with no catch, as a way to help people grow their businesses.  If you are interested in having one with me make sure you check out this blog post on how to contact me to get one scheduled - One on One.

Recently I did one with artist and calligrapher Aubrey Hart and she wrote me after with this review,

β€œT.J.’s one-on-one business consultation was such a breath of fresh air! I loved how enthusiastic and focused the 30 minutes was. Plus, T.J.’s (and Brooke’s) enthusiasm gave me a real sense that they genuinely cared about my business and wanted to help. I would totally recommend this for anyone who’s in the wee stages of building a business or someone who has been in the game for awhile. Everyone can benefit from T.J.’s insightful and almost 'outside of the box' advice."

Yesterday I had two one on ones and during my second one I was only able to answer one of his question because we spent so much time going back and forth on ideas.  So, I told him to e-mail me any other questions he had and I would answer them.  This morning I had an e-mail with the following questions.  I figured it would probably be helpful to answer them for everyone and not just in an e-mail back to him! If you have any questions please don't hesitate to e-mail me - [email protected] 

1. What is your pre-launch strategy for new products?

We are actually getting ready to launch the walk in love. Summer 2016 collection.  It's called Shine and we are so excited about it!  It really is unlike anything we've ever done.  When we launch new products we realize that things happen so fast in today's world so, we don't like to have extended periods of build up to a launch because people get tired of it.  We tease collections two weeks before the launch date.  That's enough time to get people excited without going over board.  If you spend too much time telling people big things are coming then they feel like they waited too long and are not interested.  I would spend more time if I was launching a whole new brand but because we are already established as a brand two weeks is more than enough to get our following pumped up about products!

For Shine we plan to spend a lot of time previewing new items on Snapchat because we want to grow that following.  We believe if we keep telling people to see the new items on Snapchat then they are more likely to follow us!  So, if you want a preview of Shine make sure you follow us on Snapchat. Username - shopwalkinlove

Tactically, our launch strategy will look like this:

  • This Friday (Two weeks before launch) - We will post the main Shine graphic with release date on Instagram + all other socials
  • Every day for two weeks we will preview a new product on Snapchat
  • April 9-10 - Brooke will be shooting the campaign photos in Raleigh North Carolina!  She will be sharing behind the scenes Snaps and Instagrams to get people excited!
  • For two weeks we will probably spend a post a day on Instagram teasing new items with lots of excitement and emojis!  If we can't be super excited about it how can we expect others to be.
  • We will release the collection on April 15th with discount code!

2. How were you able to build a personal brand?

I originally had this idea that I would be this really great blogger that only talked about super deep spiritual things and I really struggled to write at the beginning.  I ended up burning out because that's just not how I am.  I do like talking about spiritual things but also love talking about business, ideas and loving my family.  Last year when I "re-launched" this blog I decided I wasn't going to pigeon hole myself or try to be like other bloggers out there.  I was just going to be the best version of myself I could and if people connect with that then awesome.  If people don't then I would have a written history of my ideas, thoughts and challenges all in one place to show my kids when they are older.  I think the best way to "build a personal brand" is to stop trying to build a personal brand and lean into who God created you to be, tell that story and tell it as well as you can.  If that means writing about business then do it, if it means writing about unicycles then do that! 

3. Do you do much SEO or is it just social media and word of mouth advertising?

I have literally never spent a single second working on SEO.  We try to spend all our time creating a product people love and telling a story people connect with.  If we can do that then it doesn't matter where we rank in google because people are going to tell their friends about us.   We recently have started Facebook advertising because it can be so direct, which is awesome, but up until that it's been all about social and word of mouth, which are one in the same now!

4. What are your top books for business?

Here is a list on Amazon of my favorites - #TJSFAVORITEBUSINESSBOOKS

5. How do you move your company goals forward each month? What are your benchmarks and how do you measure them?

Our goals are always sales related.  If we are beating last years sales then we are hitting our goals.  I don't get too caught up in the, "we have to grow by X% every month"  Any growth is good and we celebrate that.  We compare every month to the same month last year as our benchmark.  We use Shopify as our online store platform which is the best in the business and gives you so many tools to run reports and see how you are comparing to a previous period.

6. If you were to start walk in love again would you do it by yourself or would you still have a team?

When I started walk in love. I was by myself for many years and did everything for the business.  I didn't have a team until I started dating Brooke.  The biggest the team has ever been was 10 but that was mostly a retail team.  Even now the team is just three of us, which I love.  I like keeping the team as small as possible, but that's just a personal preference.  I handle the management and vision of the business. Brooke handles the creative aspects of everything because she is brilliant and Alexa handles all the customer service.  That is it.  I would encourage people to start their first business on their own so they can learn all aspects of it.  If you need a partner to start then so be it but make sure things are clear up front on who does what!

Again, if you have any questions please e-mail them to me and I will try to answer them in a blog post or video.  My e-mail is [email protected]!