If you are a parent, you probably recognize Kristina Kuzmic, the parenting blogger and vlogger nicknamed the “Truth Bomb Mom.” Her humorous parenting videos have become an internet sensation, gaining over 500 million views across media outlets and websites worldwide. She has over one-and-a-half million Facebook followers, and her videos have received praise from The Huffington Post, The Inquisitr, People magazine, Cosmopolitan, U.S. Weekly, Yahoo and many more. In just a few years, Kuzmic has become a world-renowned social media influencer and motivational speaker/comedian.
Her whirlwind started in 2011, when the mother of three was chosen from 20,000 applicants and crowned the winner of Mark Burnett’s reality TV competition: Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star. Her subsequent talk show, The Ambush Cook, aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network. After multiple viral videos, in 2016, she landed a distribution partnership with LittleThings.com, the largest women’s lifestyle site.
I recently asked her for her best advice for fellow creative entrepreneurs and content creators. Here are my top eight lessons from my conversation with her in her infamous Los Angeles kitchen.
Be yourself and create for yourself.
Kuzmic explained her relief that the cooking show on OWN was canceled after one season, because the show didn’t feel authentic. Winfrey wasn’t engaged in the process, and the show producers pushed Kuzmic in a different direction. She felt like she had to play a character as she hosted the series, which would have been exhausting to continue.
“Every time I wasn’t authentic, I failed. Every single time I had success, it was because I was being authentic.” After the cancellation of her OWN show, Zuzmic went back to creating videos for herself, for fun. She made herself a promise.
“[I said], I’m going to be me. I’m not gonna care about anybody else’s expectations, I’m not gonna care about the negative comments, I’m not gonna care who’s trying to make me what, or what they think my brand should be. I know me. I know my brand. I know my parenting style. I’m gonna be me. And that’s when things blew up. I mean, out of control, blew up.”
Kuzmic was quick to give this advice. Sure, she had relatively quick success (her fourth video went viral after Ashton Kutcher was shared it) but the only way to maintain that success is to keep making videos.
“You can’t give up. People put out three videos, and if they don’t do well, say, ‘Well, it’s not my thing,'” she explained. “Keep putting videos out. I’ve had so many videos that didn’t do great, but then you have those few that go viral, and then, all of a sudden, People magazine is calling …. Consistency is everything.”
Kuzmic shared that her brand exploded when she started creating weekly videos on a schedule. Find a publishing schedule you can stick with and then:
Kuzmic started like many creators and entrepreneurs — in the hours between 5 and 9. “At 2 a.m., when everybody else in the house is asleep, I would be breastfeeding, and literally Googling how to edit videos.” she shared. She said many people who ask for her advice simply expect success too soon. “I worked so hard, in the beginning. And now, I’m at a place, a few years later, where I do have help. So you will get there. I think a lot of people expect to get there right away.”
For Kuzmic, the wait has definitely been worth it. Partnerships can be tricky for creators. Sponsored content can feel contrived, or creators could be pressured to give up ownership of their work. Little Things, a social media publishing company with multiple platforms and personalities, and a reach of over 10 million followers, offered her the opportunity to make videos about whatever she wanted. Since partnering, they have never edited her videos or tried to change her style.
“They literally completely trusted me. And that’s huge. I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn, and grow. I think that’s important. I think you should always be learning, and growing. But, be authentic to who you are.”
Keep creating and wait for the right partnership or sponsorship for your brand, your art and your goals.
Decide what you want and ask for it.
Kuzmic’s arrangement with Little Things is unique in that she and Little Things co-own all of her videos. She also has complete creative control and support from their production team. How did she score such a great partnership? She explained that she simply went into the meeting and asked for exactly what she wanted. She recommended the advice a fellow businesswoman gave her years ago: Walk into the meeting with expectations like those of a man.
“I hate that I even have to think that way, but I literally will walk into a meeting pretending I am some 56-year-old white man, in a suit — you just speak differently. As women, a lot of times, [we think], Oh, I don’t want to sound mean, I don’t want to sound like I’m asking for too much …. Know what you’re worth. Know what you want.”
Now, looking back, Kuzmic wishes she had spoken up for herself with the OWN executives. When you receive a huge opportunity, she says, realize that you can be grateful and protect yourself at the same time.
“Standing up for yourself does not make you a bad person. You’re not complaining. You can be grateful, and stand up for yourself.”
Don’t be afraid to respectfully speak up if an agreement is taking your art or your brand in the direction you don’t want to go.
Give yourself grace.
Above all else, Kuzmic is a mom and she knows the bitter taste of “mom guilt.” She also understands the struggle with perfectionism that many creators face. She said that there is no balance. She has a lot of plates to spin and she feels as if one plate is always crashing. “You just have to be okay with it.”
She went on to explain her advice to other moms and creators. “Would you talk that way to your best friend? The person you love the most, would you talk to them that way? You wouldn’t.”
Let go of the need to do everything, and do it perfectly. “There are videos that I’ve submitted, [where I’ve said], ‘It’s not perfect. But, you know what? It’s good enough.’ We sort of have to accept that good enough attitude.”
Make sure your heart is in it.
Kuzmic genuinely loves motherhood, which explains how she can create compelling videos — that get shared hundreds of times and viewed by millions — week after week. Whether you’re selling a product, writing articles or creating videos, Kuzmic says you have to find something about the topic that really resonates with you.
“If it resonates with you, it’s guaranteed to resonate with someone else. You’ve gotta put some heart into it. If business has no heart in it, it’s not gonna grow. It’s gotta have some heart in it. And I think people forget that aspect.”
Develop a thick skin.
If you’re doing something right, you will get resistance and push back. Why? Because ideas that resonate get shared, what gets shared gets seen and what gets seen gets criticized. Kuzmic laughed. “If I go through a day, and I don’t see something negative, I’m like, What’s wrong? What happened? Why doesn’t anybody hate me today?” Keep creating and expect the negativity to come, and in time you’ll get used to it.
At the same time, Kuzmic says that most of the time, reactions to your work are not actually about you. She explained that not everyone likes chocolate, but that doesn’t make chocolate horrible. It simply means that person doesn’t have a taste for chocolate.
“Most of the time, it’s not even about you. They’re having a bad day — they’re jealous, they have issues, but who knows what happened in their day — and this is how they decided to vent. [I’ve just accepted that] I’m not their cup of tea. I’m not gonna change for that one person. That’s the main thing. The bad thing is when you let those comments make you start changing things …. [O]ne of the most often comments I get is, ‘Your voice is obnoxious.’ So, what I could do is talk quieter, and nicer, but it wouldn’t be me.”
Cultivate a connection.
Kuzmic advises that creators take advantage of livestreaming to connect with followers in real time. When you get to talking, she advises talking with your viewers and readers, not at them. “Everybody wants that connection. Don’t try to make it perfect, don’t [take the position of] ‘I’m here, and I’m gonna tell you all people how to do it.’ All the stuff that really thrives, for me, is when [I say], ‘I’m with you. I’m holding your hand. We’re in this together.’“
That connection, Kuzmic shared, is one of the best things you can ask for as a creator. “I was broke, and I was depressed … to now hear from moms who are going through that, and tell me that I somehow made them feel less alone, or I gave them some kind of hope. I didn’t have that. That’s huge for me.” She recalled sitting in an important meeting months ago. Executives asked her, “What’s next? Do you want to write a book? Do you want your own TV show? You’ve grown this following. What do you really want?”
“Without even thinking about it, what came out of my mouth is, ‘I want to be, for others, what I needed 10 years ago.’ That’s been the best part, to be able to be for someone what I needed, and didn’t have, at that time. It’s like the greatest gift.”
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