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 OPINION: User generated content is like enduring caterpillars to witness butterflies

Image Jennifer Murray for Pexels

Photo by Bartira Augelli for

I have been nurturing my small business, a boutique barista school, from scratch in Ireland for the past decade.

Initially, I relied on word of mouth and organic sales to keep the business afloat. While it provided some additional income, it wasn’t enough for me to transition to being a sole trader and leave my job as a barista. 

At the outset, I hesitated to establish a website or social media presence for my brand. As the face of my business, putting myself out there felt intimidating. In my early twenties, I was more fearful of criticism and rejection than I am now in my mid-thirties. 

However, encountering some painful criticism taught me not to take it personally but to extract lessons from it. Eventually, I took the plunge and created a website and Instagram to showcase my brand.

Only then did my business experience significant growth, eventually becoming my primary source of income for many years.

While I now earn some supplementary income from my work as a reporter for the Dublin Inquirer, my business remains my main financial backbone, affording me the freedom to engage in independent investigative journalism. 

It took me years to muster the courage to share professional videos promoting my business. While I admire the polished look of videos created by professionals, I found that user-generated content was more authentic and effective in promoting my business.

Check it out a professional video promoting my business:

I have curated some of my favorite customer-generated content that has contributed to the promotion of my business. Although these videos may lack the polish of professional productions, they resonate with my customers and have proven instrumental in driving sales and word-of-mouth promotion.

Watching these heartfelt videos always warms my heart. They not only promote my business but also provide insights into how customers perceive it.

The most significant lesson I’ve learned from reviews, videos, and customer-generated content is that my fear of criticism initially stunted not only my business growth but also my personal development. 

This reminds me of a poignant quote from “The Little Prince.” In a dialogue between the Little Prince and his precious rose, the rose remarks: “Well, I must endure the presence of a few caterpillars if I wish to become acquainted with the butterflies.” 

Similarly, when faced with user generated content, I remind myself that not all feedback will be positive. Two weeks ago, I received a harsh and arguably unfair review. While some criticisms are valid and provide learning opportunities, others say more about the person than about my business. I’ve come to view these criticisms as the caterpillars—a small price to pay for the beautiful butterflies produced by satisfied customers. 

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