Tell your stories with just your mobile phones - Interview with Cielo de la Paz, The Storyographist
Cielo de la Paz is a San Francisco-based mobile filmmaker and photographer and founder of TheStoryographist.com. With her mobile videography and filmmaking courses, Cielo has taught thousands of individuals tell their stories – using nothing but their mobile phones.
Cielo currently teaches courses on iPhone filmmaking and videography at Stanford, and globally at government agencies, conferences and private firms. Her work was featured in Apple’s Shot on iPhone billboard and TV ad campaigns and featured in publications such as Business Insider, USA Today, National Geographic, and House Beautiful. Her work has been awarded the Gold Cannes Lions Award, as well as honors from Mobile Photography Awards and iPhone Photography Awards (IPPA).
What is The Storyographist ?
The Storyographist is a company that inspires and enables people to tell their stories using only their mobile phones. We provide courses, worskshops that teach entrepreneurs, small businesses and large organizations how to use their devices to create compelling stories via video.
Why did you start The Storyographist ?
I started The Storyographist because I personally experienced the benefits of being able to share your story on video, and with only an iPhone. I want to share what I know to help those that normally wouldn’t be able to tell their stories because of the technology barrier. Many people don’t know the power of their iPhones.
How did you start it? Did you have any previous experience as an entrepreneur?
I fell into it. I had first wanted my business to be a regular photography service and provide portraits, event and lifestyle photography. But people kept coming to me asking me how to use their iPhones! (Because of having been a part of the Shot on iPhone Apple ad campaign.) So I said, fine! I’ll teach a class online. And then I ended up teaching another, and another. I’ve just become known for it.
How did you validate your idea?
I feel lucky that it validated itself. Organizations came to me asking me to teach them. For example, Stanford found me. And after enough people came, I figured, there has to be something there. It was a matter of finding the niche. At first I targeted pretty much everyone.
But not everyone is willing to pay for an iPhone videography course like they would an iPhone photography course. For someone to put the time and effort into creating a video, usually they have to have a need for it because it is way more time consuming than shooting one photo. I validated my niche by looking at who came to my workshops. It’s usually organizations or entrepreneurs and businesses.
How did you finance your project?
Via my full-time job.
How did you market and promote The Storyographist when you were launching?
At fist I just threw my course onto Skillshare. But now that I have it on my own platform, I market via ads on Facebook and Instagram. I also try to get the word out by speaking at conferences.
How long did it take to get your first sale and how did it feel?
The very first sale was great. I took a screenshot of the email I got with the first transaction. It took about a week of ads.
What do you like most being an entrepreneur?
It feels great to be implementing my own vision and I have full control over where and when I want to work.
What has been your biggest challenge/failure as an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge is marketing. I’m not a marketer. I’ve never done marketing and sales before. I’m a creative at heart. I’d rather spend my whole day creating than setting up autoresponders and looking through my Facebook ads analysts.
How do you manage developing your side business (The Storyographist) while working at the same time on your multiple other engagements (Photographer, filmmaker, instructor, speaker, ...) ?
Having a really really good calendar and blocking out the necessary time to do each one well. it’s a struggle though. I’ve had to be very disciplined with the amount of time I have. For example, while creating my course I didn’t have time to create any other content. So my Youtube channel had no new content for weeks and I turned down some amazing projects and collaborations.
What has been your revenue progression at The Storyographist since you launched?
I think I’ve gotten it to the point where I can regularly generate revenue. A year ago I didn’t know where the next project would come from. It felt like a hit and miss. It’s still in the very early stages though. I am just getting started. I’m really new at sales and marketing. I didn’t even understand what the heck a funnel was until 6 months ago! Much less have a funnel. Luckily I’m a fast learner.
What are your business goals for this coming year?
This coming year I’m focusing on that funnel! I want to hire someone that can really take that on for me so I can focus on filmmaking. There are so many stories that need to be told and so many people that need help. It’s hard to do that behind my computer.
What's your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs?
There is no quick win. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. As much as I want it to be a sprint! It’s so easy to become impatient and think that your business isn’t where you want it to be and quit. If you really want it, keep at it. You have to think of it as one big experiment! And with experiments come many failures. Eventually you’ll have the winning formula.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m religious about putting every task on my Trello board. (Trello is a project/task management tool.) It’s color coded and I make sure that the things on the “today” list are really for TODAY. Otherwise I move them. I also have a Trello board for my assistants.
What's your favourite quote?
Oh it’s the Man in the Arena by Theodore Roosevelt. I take pride in the fact that I am in the arena. I’m doing it. I’m not just talking about it. I may fall and stumble, but at least I’m in the arena giving it my all.
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
To find out more about The Storyographist, the workshops and courses provided, go to Cielo's website at https://thestoryographist.com
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