As a creative professional who also self-markets, I need to keep up on the latest and greatest in a variety of sectors in order to stay on top of the game. Continual learning and development is important to keep my skills honed as the market is ever-changing.

One of the way I do this is by following some pretty interesting people on social media. They’ve made it huge in this new economy, by breaking down traditional barriers through unusual means to achieve near celebrity status in their respective worlds. It’s like Justin Bieber getting discovered on YouTube, but for business!

The first one is Gary Vaynerchuk ( He started a video blog about wine back when he was helping his parents run their local wine store.  By continually adding valuable content to his niche using a medium that was very new and fresh for its time, he grew a large online audience and grew the business ten-fold in 5 years. Today he runs Vayner Media, described as a “ social media-first digital agency”. He made Forbes best 40 under 40 list. I’ve read his book “Crush It!: Why Now Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion, where he is right in saying that you can totally win at the social media game, but it will take hard work, daily perseverance, and an eye on the long-term goal. “Know yourself. Choose the right medium, choose the right topic, create awesome content, and you can make a lot of money being happy.” You’ll find plenty of his random musings on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn, and on his video blog #askgaryvee.

I mentioned a few articles back another big influencer, Scott Stratten, author of The UnMarketing Book. Scott is a Canadian who made it huge on Twitter and was named one of the Top 5 Social Media Influencers in the world by His mantra is “Great Brands are built by great employees”, so treat your employees like gold because they are ones who will interact with your customers. One review on Amazon says “There is a huge emphasis in the book about moving away from standard best practices and how to be one step better then your competitors. As marketers we spend time interacting with our customers but yet fail in many ways when it comes to engaging with them.”

Ilise Benun is a marketing coach who specializes in working with creatives. She completely understands the stress and roller coaster life of a creative professional, whether you are a writer, photographer,  or otherwise “creatively self-employed “. Her tagline “Advice & Accountability for Creative Businesses” describes her perfectly. She has a great podcast and sells or gives away lots of great online resources for getting yourself on track, either financially (by figuring out how much you need to charge to cover your costs and pay yourself), how to write proposals, and resources for creating a marketing plan. Her best advice to me was to start a newsletter, which I really didn’t think would work but it has consistently brought me business every time I write one!

So there you have it – if you are looking for some new people to add on Twitter or follow on LinkedIn, these would be some great places to start.

Happy surfing!