A conversation with Sheina Raskin

GUEST CONVERSATIONS

April 23, 2021

 

Susanne connects with Sheina Raskin an adventurous and passionate dancer. She tells the story of how she fell in love with dance, getting in the industry quite late, what fuels her passion, how she became a social media strategist for dancers, among other relatable experiences in this deep and rich interview.

 

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A conversation with Sheina Raskin

SHEINA RASKIN

Falling in Love with Dance

Most people would think my first real connection to dance was at three years of age, putting on the tutu. On the contrary, I was out playing with the boys in the parks, climbing trees, doing all those types of stuff. I never took a dance lesson. I might have asked my mom or thought in the back of my mind that I wanted to, but it wasn’t something that my community did. It wasn’t part of my family– doing extracurricular activities. So I never really asked for it, and it didn’t cross my mind. I was a dance captain in high school, but I never saw it as a potential career. I just saw it as a good release of energy. 

It was fun for me to be on stage. I got a lot of compliments and applause and it felt good, but my real reason for dancing happened in Africa. I love to travel and to explore cultures and communities. After I graduated university, I went on a solo backpacking trip in Africa. And there, my mind was blown.

The whole education system is like going to school, then to university, and then getting a job. I wanted to travel. My mind was open, and I saw a different culture where people lived and were really connected to whatever they did. Dance was part of who they were from the moment they left the womb to two years of age, nine years, and everyone expressing their story and their history and their culture and their community and their families through music and dance. I found this humbling and special and promised myself that dance would be my future no matter what. I did not care what was going to stop me or what was going to push me away. These people were living so truly to the fundamentals of the soul. I felt like I did not need to sit in a society and just keep climbing a ladder and keep getting on happier and happier. I wanted to connect to what the people were doing and connect to the fire inside of me, the passion, and that feeling that you get.

The Journey

So I followed the fire inside of me, the passion, that feeling, and decided to come all the way home to Australia. I did some auditions and thought I would always get complimented. Getting complimented as a dancer came naturally to me, but the skill wasn’t there. I was doing these auditions for companies and I think they just laughed in my face. Like “You’re just this 21-year-old girl who doesn’t even know the basics and the techniques, the movements or grooves. That’s not for us.” I got a huge cultural shock when I realized that passion and industry were separate. I had to figure out how to combine that. That’s pretty much my journey, and I’m still on it.

Where the Marketing Comes in

So I studied marketing at university. It’s always been something that I loved. The university focuses more on the business; the whole business plan and structure. When I went out on my own and started freelancing, I really enjoyed the creative side—creating videos, creating for brands, and connecting.  I grew through social media, freelancing, creating my own content and creating for clients and agencies. I separated marketing and social media up until COVID when I realized, okay, I have dancers and passion. I have social media as a strong skill. I have a whole community of people in front of me that lost the biggest things that they had in their lives. So I really wanted to connect with them and to serve that community. It’s a whole long process but it doesn’t stop. I’m excited to see where it takes me. Right now what I do is I serve Dance through social media to help dancers turn their audience into customers, into students. 

Mindset—The Difference Maker

Mindset is so crazy. I speak to so many people and so many different types of dances from so many backgrounds. And it so often comes back to the mindset of numbers, like, “This person has 50,000 followers. Obviously, they can sell online.” “Obviously, they can teach courses.” “Obviously, they can work with brands.” “I’m just this.” “I’m just that.” First things first, delete the word “just” from your vocabulary. In the emails and writing and talking, never use the word “just”. It always makes yourself smaller. It’s not necessary. You’re not just anything. 

How About the Numbers?

People first think, “Wow, it’s a lot about the numbers.” Until a person has that transformation in their mindset themselves, they can’t realize it’s really not about the numbers. Of course, you need an audience of something. But people think we need to have 10k plus or 5k. It’s crazy because you have so much potential. Even if you’re teaching a class and there’s 10 people in your class, that’s a lot of students. That’s a lot of reach. That’s a lot of people you’re touching. 

I used to teach in Australia out of class. When you’re teaching a real-life person class, it’s a room full of people, and every single person has their background, their history, their story, their skills, their struggles. And then when you come online, and you see the 10 likes, and you only see the number 10, and you feel sad. So it’s only 10 people, but if 10 people came to a class or 10 people were listening to what you said, or 10 people bought your class or something from you, that’s an incredible feeling! So take away the number of likes and try to remember them as human beings. It’s not really about thousands. It’s about those individuals. So that’s probably one of the biggest mindsets that I see every single day.

Serve

I don’t like blaming the system, but sometimes it comes up. It’s very much part of the dance culture that you’re growing up to perform, rather than serve an audience. Like you’ve grown up to be on stage and like that performance level is your value or your success. Whereas when a dance educator really wants to give us information, they’re not—unless they’re a performance coach—trying to tell you how to perform. They’re trying to give over their heart into skill, rhythm and body like they’re trying to give over that information. I feel in a lot of the dance world the focus is on the performance rather than that intimate connection that you personally feel when you’re performing. 

Social Media

I have a very clear step-by-step roadmap that really helps you go through the levels to reach your final goal. A lot of people’s final goal is to reach a passive income stream or to reach a place where you can be making money while you sleep. And that sounds like the highest level you can reach– sleeping while you’re making money! It’s such a big topic that I am so passionate about because artists have never been taught that that’s possible. It is so outside of their belief system that we’re at this point. “Oh well, that’s not for you.” “You have to be a businessperson in order to do that or you have to be an entrepreneur.” Well, dancers are entrepreneurs. Entrepreneur is not a title. It’s a mindset.

We have actually a community of dancers, dance professionals that make money online, and our group is called the Dance Entrepreneur Club.  It’s open doors, but it’s all about supporting the dance community and supporting each other on that quest towards financial freedom and towards getting out of that struggling-artist mindset; because that’s not necessary. There’s so many opportunities out there, and the struggling-artist’s mindset is just created onto us, “You’re an artist. You have to struggle.” It doesn’t work like that at all. You don’t have to. “Do you think you can do it?” Yes. Sure.

I have a five-step roadmap to get you from A to B, from struggling-artist mindset to passive income. A lot of people think it’s a ‘get rich fast’ or you have to have a lot of fun or followers. Or you have to have a viral video where you have to watch all these YouTube videos that promise to grow 1,000 followers overnight by doing this and this and this. No, none of that. It’s a step-by-step strategy. Just like if you have a business plan, just like if you’re creating something from scratch. You build on one level, you get good at that level, you build the next level. You get good at that level. Nothing takes overnight. It’s like a stack of cards and you build, and you get stronger, like a really strong house. The foundations that we work on have to be strong.

The first thing is that fire inside, that deep passion. Why? Because again, a lot of people are stuck with what is that? Why? How? How to get anywhere is to stop by your Why—like your fire. And then you build into different steps, and eventually you reach a content strategy.

Once you have your Why, then you have your niche. So niches are your specific skill, your specific talent, what people keep asking you questions about, and what you can serve to your community. So once you have your Why, you have your niche, then you can go into making money online. So how do you make money online? You’re solving a problem or desire of your audience. You can’t get to Level 3, making money online, if you haven’t done 1 or 2. So a lot of people skip straight to number 3, like, “Okay, I have 3000 followers. I’m going to collaborate with a brand and make money.” You might have a lot of spikes. You might have a viral video here or a really good connection there, but if you really want to grow up to passive revenue, if you want your revenue to look like this, rather than up, down, up, down, setting those clear foundations are going to make you stronger. 

So in step Number 3, when you’re monetizing, the biggest thing is your content strategy. So I know you asked your audience a lot about content strategies and what they’re struggling with on social media. We’ll talk more about those. That’s a huge, hot topic. But again, it’s something that you can work on now. But when you set those foundations strong, and then you get there, you’re going to have people coming into your DMs and people asking you, rather than you reaching out to everyone else. So that could look like creating one-on-one classes, teaching online, providing some sort of revenue stream while you’re giving a service to your audience, and they’re paying you money for that. 

Step Number 4 is taking that upper level. So once you have that community, you really understand who you’re serving, you have some sort of transformation you want to take your audience on. So let’s say you’re a belly dance teacher and you specialize in postpartum mums, celebrating their bodies. The more specific you are, the more people are going to be coming into your DMs for you. So let’s say you’ve done a bunch of one-on-one classes. The next step would be to scale that and build that into a group class or into a course or into something that you can sell to more than one person. So you’re not trading time for dollars. So again, you need every single step to really nail step Number 3 to get to step Number 4.

And then step Number 5 is once you’ve created that next step, and you’ve done trial and error, repeat, analyze, done all the levels in step Number 4, you can build to a passive revenue stream. So that means putting something on Evergreen or making a system so that the money’s coming in without you putting in the daily work, as you wouldn’t bank on Level 3. So a little bit of a ladder to success, but the more patient and the more thorough you are pays off. The more you do that process, the better you see results or the bigger that that curve will be rather than the ups and downs. So that’s pretty much a quick summary of the roadmap that I go through with my clients. But yeah, a lot of people get stuck with the, “I want this to this.” “I want this overnight.” “I saw this girl go viral and now she’s working with this brand. That’s what I want.” So it’s more than just working through the roadmap because a lot of it’s actually working through the mindset and holding on. Let’s go through this and see what you can give and how we can grow that rather than let’s get rich overnight. Those aren’t my customers. Those aren’t the people that I work with. 

Engaging with Your Audience

Engagement is something that I love. Your audience already understands the difference between followers and engagement because that means they’re really 10 steps ahead because they understand. It’s not about having 1,000 people watching your stories. It’s about having a couple, at least a handful, that actually engages with your interactions because that means possibly a future client or future student or a future list. So engagement is way more powerful than followers and all are those types of metrics. So start by understanding that engagement is important. 

If you’re ever getting stuck with “Why is no one engaging with my content?” “What do I do?” I’ve created a checklist. The link is in the description. It’s got at least 10 different points. So you can always come back and revisit different ideas that you’re getting stuck on. Engagement is huge. So you can check up on your insights. If you have a business account, you can check how your engagement is interacting. If you’re posting a video, you can check how many people comment or if you’re posting an Instagram story, how many people are engaging with that.

Three Tips to Boost Your Engagement

First of all, I like to say, give people an easy way to engage. So make it easy for them. The simpler something is for someone, the more they’re going to do it, say if it’s clickable. So something like asking questions like you might want engagement. You want your people to respond to you or interact with your account. So use Instagram’s features that are literally designed to get engagement: questions, polls, the stickers, the sliding stickers, if they’re happy or sad, and you can use that depending on your niche. For example, you bring in a belly dancer. You can do a whole questionnaire once a week about body confidence and how people are feeling about their bellies, having their bellies out. Or you can do a yes or no question and ask what type of content they want to see from you. Ask them, “Do you want my next video to be a tutorial or to be a costume review?” or “Do you want my next thing to be this or this?” So give your audience a quick yes or no or a quick answer question or a quick slider. That’s a good way to get easy interaction. 

Another way is to always ask for their feedback. Let’s say, for example, on stage you just did a whole performance, but you quickly ran off. You didn’t give them an opportunity to clap or to answer you. So if you posted a video, ask them. Did you like the step? Did you like the techniques? Let’s say the belly dancing teacher does a reel of three tips for a beginner belly dancer. And then in the real world, which one was the favorite one for you? Which one was the hardest one for you? Give them a platform to answer. Ask them questions so they can respond to you. Those are two quick tips I would suggest. 

One more bonus tip, because it’s like the real estate capital of your Instagram, would be your bio. So really invest into your bio. Give someone a quick, easy way to connect to you just from your bio. So having your full name, what you do, who you serve, that comes back to like your Why and your niche. And then a call-to-action. Give someone a way to connect with you, for example, DM me for five tips on this or put a link or take my survey or watch my class or take this free class. Give them something to do. Give them a way to engage with you. 

So those are quick three ways to boost your engagement. Create a link to a whole checklist for you to go through to help you stay on track whenever you feel like no one’s listening.

Giving Back the Love

Quite a lot, people don’t engage in the comments that are being given to them. Let’s say they post a picture of them or a video and have 100 comments, and they’re not taking the time to go down and to either thank or to just reply and give back the love. I think that person would probably need to come back to their Why again, and if they’re on social media, to be a dance influencer. So their goal or their strategies would be a lot different than a dance educator. A dance educator might want to interact with people on the level of potential students or interact and prioritize connections with brands and influencers and collaborations. So wherever your priorities are, that’s probably where you should put your focus. 

But again, if you’re a dance influencer, remember, the reason how you got those numbers is by you nurturing your community. So even if your goal is to create really good content and connect to potential brands, you’re connecting to brands to serve your community with information about products or services. If you want your community to eventually buy from you, you have to nurture them. Like in any kind of business, we want people to buy from us. As an influencer, that’s your job. You promote a product that can then be bought, and you get a percentage. You nurture your community, meaning you engage with them. You give them love. You give them content that they can learn from, so they actually are able to relate to you and want to buy the things that you offer.

The Beauty of a Small Account

There’s beauty in having a smaller account because in a larger one, a lot of comments or DMs can be overlooked. Who do I respond to? How do I prioritize? Or you need a team, or you need people helping you respond because a lot of people don’t want their life to be taken up by the screen time. They want to have a life. They want to create, and they might have an incredible overflowing amount of positive or sometimes, unfortunately, negative experiences. But they have that and to balance that can be its own struggle. So if you do get overwhelmed with, “Oh no, I don’t have enough followers,”just be happy that you have an amount that you can physically interact with, virtually interact with, because some people really struggle with replying to DMs and replying to comments. 

I’m not gonna say some comments are not worth replying to, but someone commenting on your technique and your skill and really interacting with you is different than someone posting a fire emoji or clap, clap for this. It’s not meaningful, and it’s not an engaging interaction. And if you have to prioritize the types of comments you’re answering, someone in that position would take the precious time that they have online, because they might have a lot of comments on a lot of different platforms, and actually comment to the people that are engaging with them as a person rather than just a public figure or a cool icon to follow. So I think that might also come into that mindset. 

But then again, people get lost. They get so many followers and develop the I-don’t-care mindset. “I’m the most successful person in this world.” We all identify success as something different. We all have that in common—who we are influencing. We mean the world to them. People don’t believe that they made themselves or they got into the position that they’re in because of the people they influence, but because of all the learnings that they’ve had and the people that walked alongside with them. And that is where, particularly in the dance industry, the mindset of community I feel can be readjusted because we always talk about audiences. We want to get our audience into the seats. We need more butts in the seats. That is literally the language that I’m hearing over and over again, especially from the higher-ups. And if we were to shift that to actually building community and nurturing them, then we would ensure more butts in the seats because they don’t only come because of prestige and elite and whatever, but because they want to support us because they feel like they’re being served.

Striving for Balance versus One-Time Highs 

That’s the difference between someone that just rises and falls again with at picture or a viral video, and then no one cares. There’s really high highs and low lows. That’s the imbalance if you’re not serving your people or if you’re not doing the strategy and going through the process and giving value to your audience and the people that build you. 

So there’s where the downs come. I think some people see the road to success as the picturesque shining lights up, up, up, up, up, up, and then wonder why they have the struggling-artist mindset or they’re struggling to pay rent, when one day they were on stage with Nicki Minaj. It’s like that rollercoaster that doesn’t have to happen. So it depends which path you want to take. Some people like the flashy and some people want the long lasting, the loyal seats and the people that come every single time no matter what as opposed to a really good celebrity you have that rises and comes for one show and then the next show flops. You want balance rather than those ups and downs. I think that’s a mindset that people can get trapped into. Because it’s fun and it’s flashy and it’s mesmerizing. It’s like, wow, I could do that or when you’re up on stage and your adrenaline can be a bit distracting. That’s why I’m always coming back to Why. This is why I’m here. These are the people that are for you and that really grounds you and then helps. That’s where you see the successful people continuing to rise and you see a lot of people falling along the way. That’s the difference between those two types of people, two types of mindsets. So choose which one you want to be in.

Prioritizing a Few Social Media Channels and Aiming for Consistency 

I love my entrepreneurial journey. A lot of the teachers and the mentors and all the experts say stick to one stream. Stick to one thing that you’re going to do consistently—one or two, and then don’t give the other ones as much priority. I’ve felt overwhelmed so many times because there’s so much to be on, and there’s so much potential. But it’s like the saying when you serve everyone, you serve no one. If you’re scattered and if you’re everywhere, you’re not gonna have the same influence as if you really build and grow in one concentrated effort. But that doesn’t say that you can’t dabble around. I recommend people to just dabble around, get your feet wet. But stick to one that you’re going to be consistent with. 

There’s nothing wrong with trying another out, but don’t get distracted by it. Don’t get stuck one day, all of a sudden, Facebook one day, Instagram one day, YouTube the next. People won’t know where to find you. You have to be placed and people know you’re there every day or you’re there once a week and you’re giving them something new every single time. You’re consistent.   Just have a place that people know where you are, and they come back to you. You build up your credibility. So whether that’s a YouTube channel or a Facebook page, use other platforms to just have fun. But don’t make those your priorities because that’s when the overwhelm comes in. That “I have to do this.” “I have to deal with a lot of clients.” “I have to be here.” “I’m not doing enough,” but you’re doing a lot. You just think you have to be everywhere. You really don’t. You don’t even need to post every day. A lot of people have all these ideas like how they’re not doing enough. And they’re not in all the right places. Like just choose your place. It’s okay to dabble and to look around. Spend 10 minutes a week here and 10 minutes there and enjoy!  But when you figure out where you want to stay, do that consistently. I listened to a bunch of mentors and figured out what would work for me. It might be different for you. So figure out where you enjoy most of your time, where your audience enjoys you, and then be consistent with that. 

On Clubhouse

I dabbled there. Again, right now, my focus is very much on my connection with my clients, my one-on-ones. That’s the phase of business I’m in. And I’m very aware of that. And I’m very focused on my stage right where I’m at. So my goal right now isn’t to be everywhere, isn’t to be the biggest one everywhere. Of course, there’s a lot of mentors and a lot of good information to learn. And once a week, I’ll schedule a talk that I might like to follow someone and they might be in there. I’ll dabble there. But I know exactly where I want to be this time. And I know where my audience wants me to be. I know what type of information they want. So I’m not looking for other places right now. But maybe there’ll be a time in my business where I will have a bigger team or I’ll have more people or I will have enough clients or too many clients. Whatever stage I’m in at that time,I say, I’m ready to spend a little bit more time to dive into something deeper. But again, I love podcasts, but I know I don’t have the bandwidth to create my own. So my goal right now is to reach out to some podcasts and to speak on that platform. But I don’t need to have my own to be able to dabble in that field. Like I don’t need to have a huge room on Clubhouse to be able to benefit from the platform. 

Mentorship

The road for success is so paved. It’s so walked on. It’s such a clear path because so many people have taken it before us. It’s only logical to take the path of a mentor because they’ve literally done that and been there. They will not hold your hand and do the work for you, but they’ll take away a lot of stress, a lot of time wasting and a lot of searching on Google where to find free information when you can get it all in one or get expert information. And I really value investing into coaching and into programs and courses. 

I took a really good course last year with Amy Porterfield. I love her. I listen to her podcast almost every single morning. She’s been around awhile and I’ve been able to learn from her and from all the people she interviews. I really enjoy Jenna Kutcher. That was my introduction to Amy Porterfield. And then all the guests she has on often become mentors of mine. I’ve actually joined this new entrepreneur club for new entrepreneurs. It’s called the RAD connector and I’ve really enjoyed their workshops. 

Also Vanessa Lau. I really like her as well. She is from YouTube and Instagram. The mindset of putting down money that grows as opposed to saving money so that you can hoard is such a different mindset. That differentiates the successful from the stagnant. When you put your money, your hard-earned sweat, blood and tears into something that you’ll see the result of, you do the work as opposed to holding on to that money and finding everything for free. And figuring it out and not trusting what people say and getting stuck. I’ll do it all myself as opposed to getting all the help I can. That’s the big difference between a successful entrepreneur and an entrepreneur in the making or an entrepreneur in the mind but not in action. 

I always like when people get their information from their influences because I’m a vessel for information. I’m teaching but I’m learning all day. If I’m not learning something new in the day, teach me something I want to learn. It’s exciting. That’s how you grow, I think. And putting down money gives you ownership. This is a totally different topic but I see dancers underselling themselves because of their issue with relationships, or with money. We think money is bad or we don’t deserve it or we’re not good enough or all those issues with money where we’re underselling ourselves. When someone puts down money for you, or when you have a price, then your credibility goes up. So you’re actually investing in yourself when you give yourself a higher price range. Pricing is a whole other ballgame. But when you value yourself enough to price your class more than a Starbucks coffee, people will treat your class with more respect than a cup of Starbucks coffee, and they will actually take action. 

Advice to 17-year-old me

Listen to the voice inside of you. Let yourself feel whatever you’re feeling and let it guide you. The truest form of any truth is right here and not what someone else does. It’s not what their expectations are, not what people want from you, not from how you feel you have to be. It’s right inside your heart.

So much ❤ Susanne

Bio:

Sheina Raskin is a dancer and traveler from Melbourne, Australia. Although she entered the dance industry quite late at 20 years of age, she realized that it was her passion and went to all lengths to make it part of her life. Fast forward through failed auditions and struggling with industry standards, she is teaching and performing on stages around the world. With her background in marketing, she has paved a unique path for herself. She is now a social media strategist for dancers, and she teaches dancers on how they can leverage their own social media so that they can transform their audience into students.

 

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There is a better way to pursue ballet at the professional level. Instead of dancers pushing beyond their body’s limits, there is a healthier way to train your body, your mind and your spirit to soar. To become the best at your craft, you must be healthy. The mentality of surviving to make a performance perfect is an old paradigm that needs to change. As athletes, dancers must thrive in order to shine and connect with their audience. This new approach, leads to fulfillment, strength and longevity. It allows you to give more of your heart and soul on stage, creating an unforgettable experience that moves your audience. And that’s the whole pointe. 

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