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In this interview series, we are talking to founders, CEOs, and ecommerce business leaders about how to use social media to grow your ecommerce business. As a part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Abha Chiyedan.

Abha Chiyedan

Abha Chiyedan

Abha Chiyedan is the founder of The Werk Life, a digital media and ecommerce company that shares resources on productivity and personal development. After climbing the corporate ladder in her 20s and launching a successful career in the corporate world, she made the decision to pursue her side hustle, The Werk Life, full-time at the peak of the pandemic.

The Werk Life started as a blog and now has an audience of over 300,000 people across its social channels. The Werk Life’s fast-growing ecommerce arm, The Werk Life Shop, offers guided digital and paper planners to provide organization solutions to ambitious go-getters.

Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

The Werk Life Shop was born out of the concept of marrying my love for creative media with my love for organized, intentional planning. The Werk Life started as a media-only company. We began by sharing valuable tips and hacks on how to level up your productivity and mindset. After growing our audience over the past few years, we started to get a deeper understanding of the problems our audience was facing.

We introduced guided planners to the market as a solution for our audience, who were not only seeking tips and resources on how to become more productive but also wanted tangible solutions to help them implement the tips we were sharing. Our guided planners took things to the next level; it was a way for our audience to use The Werk Life’s advice directly in a “pen-to-paper” fashion.

Can you share the most exciting story that has happened to you since you began at your company?

The most exciting moment was when we hit our first viral video on TikTok. This was back in 2021 when the business use of TikTok was still in its early days. I remember seeing the numbers skyrocket literally overnight. It was a fascinating concept to see both the audience growth and conversion rate that came from a single 15-second video.

Since then, we’ve had multiple videos go viral, and every time—it’s still an exciting feeling. What makes it exciting isn’t just the numbers but seeing the direct value your brand is providing to millions of people around the world. 

Can you tell us about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson did you learn?

A mistake we made early on was not speaking to our audience right out of the gate. In the early days, we took a broader approach, trying to be everything to everyone, which didn’t quite resonate with growing a community. 

Once we niched down on the solutions that our audience was truly seeking, the content came naturally. Content eventually led to solution-oriented products, and sales started increasing. It’s really important to know your customer and help solve their problems. Maybe not the funniest mistake, but definitely one that taught us a lot!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people? 

At The Werk Life, we’re constantly evolving our product line to create solutions for our community in the productivity and personal growth space. Whether it’s helping you organize your life with a brand new planner or guiding you on your growth journey through goal-setting templates, our resources are refreshed and innovated on the regular. We started off as a digital-only planner shop, and now we offer paper planners—a product line extension we created based on the feedback we heard from our audience.

We also have multiple free resources that we offer for those who don’t have the budget for a paid planner yet. This has been incredibly helpful for our audience since we also provide solutions that are accessible without an upfront investment. These free tools have helped tens of thousands of people around the world “get their life organized.” From Morning Routine Cheat Sheets to Weekly Planner Templates, you’ll definitely find something to help you get started in our Free Resources area.

What are three traits about yourself that you feel helped fuel your success?

  1. Resilience: I focus less on the problem and more on the solution. I’ll find a way to get done what needs to get done, and that applies to both my professional and personal life. I don’t stop until I’m finished. Bouncing back quickly after a setback is an example of how I do this in the business world. Getting up at 5:30 a.m. to make time for my workouts, even when I’m tired, is an example of how I do this in my personal life. I believe nothing worth doing comes easy, and part of that is pushing past everyday struggles we’re bound to encounter. It’s not about what problems I have but what solutions I’m willing to seek out.
  2. Curiosity: The ability to question, wonder, and ponder ideas is what will ultimately serve as a catalyst for us to continually grow. This means pushing your ego aside and being aware that no matter how much experience you have in life, there is always something new for you to learn. In business, that can mean being curious about a new social media trend that’s gaining traction. It could be familiarizing yourself with a whole new style of leadership you hadn’t considered in the past. Personally, curiosity is what keeps creativity growing and flowing. I’m aware that I don’t know the answer to everything, but I’m also aware that asking the question is step one. My curiosity in TikTok is what helped trigger massive growth for The Werk Life in the past 2 years. My curiosity in developing new systems is what helped us streamline processes for more efficiency from a workflow perspective. You have to keep feeding the brain with new ideas.
  3. Resourcefulness: Making something out of nothing is a skill that requires you to be resourceful. I started The Werk Life as a blog with just $300 of my own money. I’ve managed to turn that investment into a profitable business with no outside investment, completely bootstrapping it from Day One. I was lean and resourceful in the business, especially in the early days. I made practical financial decisions and found solutions with resources I already had, not that I had yet to acquire. This allowed me to really think out of the box and use that growth mindset to make the most of what I already had access to.

What was your original vision for your ecommerce business? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

The original vision for The Werk Life Shop was to create a product line that served in conjunction with the advice we were sharing on our media platforms. For example, if one of the daily habits for success we recommend is to time-block your day, then we want to have a time-blocking planner that accompanies that. If we recommend reviewing and budgeting your finances monthly, we want to offer a budgeting spreadsheet that goes along with that. 

Our goal is to make it easier for our community to learn while finding the solutions they need instantaneously. Advice is great, but when you don’t know where to actually get the solutions, it can be hard to start. The goal is for us to be that trustworthy friend for our audience, where they know they can come for productivity-related advice and solutions.

The biggest pain point we’re trying to solve is to help people feel organized and aligned in their lives in a way that’s authentic and true to them. And that mission holds true to both the content we share and also the products on our ecommerce shop—guided planners, journals, and tools that help people gain clarity, get focused, and stay organized. We’re all about cutting out the noise and guiding people to focus on what really matters to them.

How did social media help you grow your business? What were your strategic objectives, and how did you implement your social media plan?

Believe it or not, we didn’t launch into social media with any objective other than to add value to people’s lives. We didn’t just want to sell, sell, sell. Unlike the traditional routine of most companies, we started with content first and then launched products once we found a solution that could help our community.

Having this core, the niched-down audience is what helps us develop some of the best products in our niche, but also share content on social media that does convert to sales.

For us, it’s important to remain authentic and stay true to our brand values. And providing valuable, biased-free content is one of our core pillars.

Which social media platforms have you found most beneficial for ecommerce specifically? 

Although every social media platform might seem similar nowadays with short-form videos, each comes with its own audience expectations. What works on TikTok might not work on Instagram, and vice-versa. Or it just might work on both!

TikTok has been great for fast, viral content that grows brand awareness and traffic (depending on the call to action). Instagram has been great for connecting deeper with the community through stories, polls, Q&A, etc.) Platforms that allow you to have an account set up as a merchant (like Instagram and Pinterest) are great for conversion.

I think people are starting to see similar content on all these different platforms but come into the platform with different expectations. So it’s on the brand to really understand what your voice and style are on each social channel. Regardless of the platform you use, it’s important to connect with people in a way that’s genuine and consistent.

What social commerce trends are you most closely paying attention to, and how are you preparing to leverage them for growth?

Trends are constantly changing on social media. Every week, there’s something new happening. As important as it is to be on trend, it’s also important to have your own unique voice. You don’t want to just rely on trends.

I recommend trying out new social features when they launch. It’s a great way to test new functionality within the platform, but it may also give you an opportunity to reach a larger audience if the platform is pushing that new feature more.

The one trend that isn’t going away is video, so if you’re not using video yet, don’t wait any longer. Test the waters and try it out. Don’t worry about having the perfect video right out of the gate—you’ll improve as time goes on.

photo of Abha Chiyedan

What are the most common mistakes you have seen when companies try to use social media to promote ecommerce? What can be done to avoid those mistakes? 

I think if the content on social media comes off too “sales-y,” people tend to lose interest. We’ve experimented with a lot of content styles, and when we take this “direct” approach, content usually doesn’t perform as well. 

The key is to create content that organically includes the product in the mix. You want to speak to your audience as a friend, not as a brand. Share features of the product the customer actually cares about, not things that seem important to you as the founder or marketing manager. 

Also, social media is great for conversion, but first and foremost, it’s excellent for brand awareness. Use this as a stage to voice your brand values and company mission. Educate people on what the company is all about before pushing a product on them without any context.

This totally depends on the industry you’re in and the product you’re selling—so gauge how the leaders in your niche are doing it well. There are very different social media approaches depending on what category you’re in.

Based on your experience and success, what are your top 5 ways to use social media to grow your ecommerce business?

1. Be authentic: Build an authentic connection with your audience by being consistent, on-trend, and human.

2. Create value: Content shouldn't just be about pushing your product—provide real value that speaks to the viewer.

3. Be organic: Show up subtly and organically—this includes content that shows how the product fits into the consumer's everyday life, easy-to-follow tutorials, and more.

4. Prepare to go viral: You never know when you will, so make sure your systems are in place for the day that you do. The last thing you want is a massive rush of traffic that leads to a 404 page because you didn’t have the right link in your bio. Seize the potential opportunity.

5. Be mobile-friendly: The majority of social media users are on their phones. Ensure your store experience is set up on your socials and has a mobile-friendly UX.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?

I’d love to start a movement where we normalize DANCE more. Way more. 

Instead of just reserving dance for “dance classes” and “nights out on a dancefloor,” dancing should be an everyday habit done by anyone at any time of the day (which it is in many, many cultures). 

Though this stance is simple, I think it’s powerful. I believe there’s a great energy to dance—one that could have a massive positive impact on people’s moods and relationships with one another.

Why do we stop and stare at people if they’re dancing in the middle of the street by themselves? Because we’re not used to seeing it on the regular. But why? 

Music and movement through dance are so therapeutic and create the most wonderful vibrations. It’s fun, it encourages people to put their walls down and truly just live in the moment.

There’s such an electric feeling you get when you dance to the rhythm of the music. Every beat, every step. It’s magical and transcends many of the limiting beliefs we carry in our lives. It’s one of those things that make you feel truly alive.

…So let’s do it more, collectively!

How can our readers further follow your work online?

You can find The Werk Life on TikTok, Pinterest, Instagram, and YouTube as @thewerklife and @thewerklifeshop, and you can follow my personal journey with the social handle @abhachiyedan on Instagram.

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Francois Marchand
By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.