“If I can do it, you can too.”
So says Angelica Kelly, the creative force behind the YouTube channel, You Brew Kombucha. Her 31 videos shot over a single summer weekend in 2017 have attracted 11,000 subscribers. All without advertising.
Why did she do it? How did she do it? And what is kombucha?
It’s “a beverage produced by fermenting sweet tea with a culture of yeast and bacteria.” And this sweetened tea is believed to have several health benefits, including boosting energy and immunity.
Angelica shared this with me one recent summer afternoon. We enjoyed a refreshing cup of cold green tea scented with jasmine she brought for our chat.
My first memory of Angelica is a Skype interview when she was a summer intern candidate at my employer (note: opinions expressed in this blog are my own).
She hit the ground running and never looked back. Her internship evolved into a full-time job as a corporate communications specialist. That led to a series of increasingly responsible roles. And she’s now a senior manager of internal communications at a new company.
Her Instagram posts started catching my eye over the last year. I wanted to learn more about her side gig. She was a fascinating candidate for my series of profiles on how professionals are boosting their careers through social media.
What I found was inspiration about learning, about experimenting and about exploring passions.
Here’s what Angelica shared …
Tell me about this tea we’re drinking.
It’s Chinese green tea, scented with jasmine. The cold brewing reduces the astringency. Good tea can be brewed over and over.
And all tea comes from essentially one plant – the camellia sinensis. I’m fascinated by how you can make so many teas from one plant.
Tea helps relax you and bring you back to nature. You’re literally just drinking a leaf.
How do you show up in social media?
There’s an unspoken belief that your work persona has to be different from your non-work persona. I believe they are one in the same. But people are multi-faceted, so there is a time and a place for certain topics.
Social media is all about using the available resources. You can share your knowledge and help others learn in social.
I’m on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit and YouTube.
On Instagram I follow experts in fields of interest. I find them through hashtags and search. (BTW: her Instagram has the perfect summary: I strategize, I write, I read – for fun and for work. To recreate, I create. Check out one of my passion projects @youbrewkombucha on Insta + YouTube.)
My search process starts with books. Then I look online for the best sources of knowledge on the topic. I scour websites and blogs. I’ll follow my favorites’ social media handles and see who comments, who’s engaged and who’s asking or answering questions. And that’s how I connect to other learners.
On Facebook there are so many communities for niche groups. I’ve found home brewer groups for my kombucha research. There’s an interesting dynamic of knowledge sharing, and these are places to troubleshoot questions.
What else is unique about your research process?
It’s fun diving into a field where I feel out of my element. I read a lot of reference books. I borrow ebooks from the library through a great app called Libby, by OverDrive.
Learning is about allowing ourselves to be curious – to be fascinated by a topic. It’s important to be curious in all aspects of life and to go into things with a “beginner’s” mind.
Networking with people, asking questions and connecting with other enthusiasts and subject matter experts are all great ways to learn.
What are your LinkedIn rituals?
At the end of every year I take stock of the personal and professional. I consider what I’m grateful for and what I want to improve.
I use LinkedIn like a notepad and do an annual update after this reflection process. Everything professionally relevant goes into my LinkedIn profile. Accomplishments. Interests. Volunteering. Big projects that highlight transferable skills and new knowledge I’ve gained.
To understand what’s in the ecosystem, I follow and keep tabs on various companies. It’s also interesting to see how others see my company, through their comments and shares. As a communicator, understanding that external perception is crucial.
Why did you launch a YouTube channel?
This is my newest platform. As a viewer and consumer of content, I created the resource I wish existed for me. I couldn’t find a comprehensive YouTube channel on kombucha. I’m all about knowledge sharing, so I wanted to house everything I learned all in one place to make it easy for new learners.
My husband, Ryan, is a writer in the film industry. Together, we created three dozen videos over a weekend. He helped with planning the shoot, rigging the lighting, sequencing the segments and editing the footage.
Ryan understands the intricacies of video and where quality matters. For example, a mismatched quality of video and the heart of what I’m trying to convey could turn viewers off.
I’m a home brewer, not a professional expert. This is a passion project. So I wasn’t trying to make it look super polished. It has a low-budget feeling. It’s more realistic. It says “I’m one of you,” to my audience members, and that makes the topic more accessible.
In the process of shooting the videos I learned not to be camera shy. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It’s not about you. It’s about your audience and what they can learn.
People told me I should release the videos in phases. But I wanted to be the most comprehensive kombucha home brewer resource. So I released all the videos at once. I didn’t want any of it to be incomplete in any way. They’re like a 101 entry-level college course.
To promote them, I posted in the Facebook home brewer groups. Some groups are open to sharing of self-created resources, and others aren’t. But I trusted the information was good and that people who wanted it would find it.
And they did. In under a year, my subscribers grew to more than 11,000. I’ve enjoyed engaging with a small but zealous community of followers – or “discerning enthusiasts” as I like to call them. (I consider myself a discerning enthusiast too). Many of them are in the United States, and some are from as far away as Brazil and Australia.
What are the “do’s” you observe in social?
Be authentic and genuine. That’s the first thing. Just make it; never fake it till you make it.
Give credit. If you repost, find the source and give credit. This is important because the reason people make things is to create joy or inspire some other feeling or reaction. They deserve credit for their work.
Focus on things I’m doing and people I’m with. Those are so much more interesting than too many photos of me.
Teach somebody something or give a new perspective on something.
Let social media spark personal connections. Share your enthusiasm with others. Let it be a catalyst that leads you to dinner or afternoon tea with an old friend or a colleague.
Be careful about negative topics. But don’t sugarcoat like everything is perfect.
How does empathy guide your social involvement?
You never know what state of mind people are in when you put stuff out into the world. And I think about my own state. Rather than using social media as a venting platform that could bring someone else down, I’ll reach out to a circle of friends to talk.
This is so personal and unique to what works for each individual, but if I’m feeling negative, I don’t share in social unless it can spark a constructive dialogue or inspire positive change.
What’s next for you?
My kombucha and tea research is evolving into a focus on Chinese pottery. I’m learning about how different glazes and clays affect tea brewing. And that has led to looking into ceramics classes. That may be the next big thing. It’s all part of my personal quest to be curious in all aspects of life!
Are you as energized by Angelica as I am? Want to learn more about her? Here’s how you can connect:
YT: You Brew Kombucha
IG: @angellykelly | You Brew Kombucha
Watch for more profiles coming soon. And if you’d like to be profiled, leave me a comment. I’d love to hear from you!