Week 3: In 30 Days I Learned How Instagram’s Algorithm Works and Drove Engagement

This month, I am focusing on building my social media presence, increasing my following, and learning about the Instagram algorithm. I am posting every day on Instagram and making two Reels for Instagram a week. 

Here’s how week 3 went!


I successfully posted every day! Even though I’ve been able to keep up with this every week it is still a big accomplishment for me. This week I tried to take a lot more outdoor shots. I liked the idea of changing things up. So far I had mostly been taking photos on my bookshelf. A lot of them started looking very similar and I wanted to make the photos more interesting. 

I ended up taking photos whenever I went to a new place. I went to a friend’s house one day and I had brought a book with me. Realizing I could take a photo in a new environment that became the photo for the day. 

Getting creative with the photos was so much fun! I live right next to a park so I took some photos on the trails and in my backyard. I took one on a rock with trees in the background. Another great thing about outdoor photos is that during the day the lighting is great. 

This week’s most popular post was this one:

It got 28 likes in a single day. The series pictured is quite popular and I think that tagging the authors and using the series hashtags helped with engagement. I also love this picture. I like taking a picture with me in it every once in a while to change things up. 

This week’s least popular post was this one:

This is actually the post I took at my friend’s house for a change of scenery. It didn’t quite work out. I still really like the photo. I was thinking it would be popular because I tagged all the authors and hashtagged them too. Unfortunately, this post only got 7 likes. 

Here’s this week’s grid!


My Reel went really well! I ended up getting 3,000 views in the first 3 hours! I was shocked. It was even more popular than the last 2 Reels and they were pretty popular as well. 

I did tag all the authors and hashtagged them as well. That and the popular audio I used definitely helped more people see my Reel. It was very rewarding to see my Reel get so many views. 

I was really happy with the Reel overall. My transitions in the video looked great and the timing was spot on. I enjoy the book challenge Reels and I will definitely be doing more of them. Next week I want to try and come up with my own book challenge and see if I can get it to trend.

Changes I Made This Week

This week I made a couple of big changes to my project. One was I stopped doing a YouTube video completely and two I focused more on increasing my Instagram followers. 

Why did I take the YouTube video out? I realized that I was getting burned out. I had to create so much new content each week that my brain couldn’t come up with the ideas fast enough. Having to come up with photo ideas, Reel ideas, and YouTube ideas all in one week is a lot. I realized the best thing to do was to take out the YouTube video and focus on Instagram. 

As I was deciding this I realized that I wasn’t doing enough for follower increase on Instagram. Putting your content out there and expecting it to succeed isn’t realistic and I realized that was what I had been doing. I needed to be deliberate and actually try to seek out people and followers. 

Thanks to an awesome friend who challenged me and helped me come up with ways to do this I changed the way I looked at Instagram. I started to look for fellow book accounts that followed more people than followed them. Then I would like a bunch of their posts then follow them. I do this for multiple accounts a day. 

I also look through book-related hashtags to help me find more accounts. Looking for small accounts can make it more personal and they are more likely to follow you back. 

Also, look through the top comments on a post. If someone has commented they probably comment consistently on people’s posts and you want to follow those people. The same rules apply though. You want the number of followers to be smaller than the number of people they follow. 

This new system has been successful so far. I now have 220 followers. Most of them are from the last few days when I implemented this new system. Better than a 4 follower increase each week. Want to read a more in-depth post about this? Click here. (I’ll be writing this later)

Final Thoughts

Even though I had to reevaluate my project this week it still went well. I posted every day and made my Reel. 

Next week I will be focusing on implementing my new system and finishing strong. I will continue posting every day and I will add a second Reel to my agenda. 

Want to see how week 4 went? Click here.

Week 2: In 30 Days I Learned How Instagram’s Algorithm Works and Drove Engagement

This month, I am focusing on building my social media presence and increasing my following. I am posting every day on Instagram, creating 2 YouTube videos a week, and making one Reel for Instagram a week. 

Let’s get into week 2!


This week I successfully posted a photo every day. I tried to change things up a bit from last week so my posts would have more variety. I took a photo outside to get a different perspective. I added more props and used different shelves. Every photo shouldn’t look the same but I also wanted to be sure the photos still looked good together. 

This week’s most popular post was this one: 

I received 49 likes on this post in 3 days. 

I’ve posted about The School for Good and Evil before and I think that a lot of people follow the hashtag. I think it was this hashtag that got me more likes. You can visit the post here. 

The post that got the least engagement is this one: 

I’m not sure why it didn’t get that many likes. It got 9 in 2 days which is very low. Most of my posts get at least 20 likes. I was hoping that using a popular series like Percy Jackson would help get more engagement but this wasn’t successful. My only guess is that it was a boring post and I didn’t promote it enough. 

This is my grid at the moment:


This week’s Reel was just as fun as last week’s! Visit it here. 

I did a popular challenge. This reel was even more successful than the last one! I got 2,600 views in the first 24 hours and I got over 100 likes. The last Reel didn’t really get any likes but almost the same number of views. 

I was shocked that people had seen my video. It is really cool to see your content get out there for people to see. 

In case you didn’t read last week’s post this is what a Reel is:

A Reel is a 15, 30, or 60-second video. In this video, you can use different audio and video clips to make a funny or informative video. You can also use different people’s audio if you love their video concept. This boosts their video and helps get views for you as well

Instagram Follower Increase

Last week I ended with 208 followers. I have 212 now. So far it is a steady increase of 4 followers per week. I’m not sure if I will make my goal of 100 followers but I should hit 250 by the end of the month! I am changing my style slowly as I said earlier. I’m taking more photos outside, tagging more people, and looking at what everyone else is posting. 

Reels are still one of my big hopes for an increased following. Since my first Reel did so well I hope I can draw more followers that way. I am still posting consistently and that should help people find my account. 


I only posted one video this week again. I’ve decided to only post one video a week from now on. I realized two is too many right now with everything I have going on. 

Unfortunately, I am still having trouble with brainstorming which isn’t helping. I have been reaching out to peers. I posted in one of my Slack groups asking for video ideas and what people want to see when they look at BookTube.  

Final Thoughts

Overall this week was great! 

I posted every day, made my Reel, and posted my video. I will continue posting and making videos. 

This small increase in followers is not discouraging me. I know this isn’t an overnight process. Building a following takes time and a lot of hard work. 

Getting these habits started now will increase my chances of getting followers in the future. 

Want to see how week 3 went? Click here.

Week 1: In 30 Days I Learned How Instagram’s Algorithm Works and Drove Engagement

Week 1 Update

This month I am focusing on building my social media presence, increasing my following, and learning about the Instagram algorithm. I am posting every day on Instagram, creating two YouTube videos a week, and making one Reel for Instagram a week. Here’s how week 1 went.


I successfully posted a picture every day. Some of them got more engagement than others. This week’s most popular post was this one: 

You can also visit the post here. I got 40 likes in 3 days which isn’t a lot but I only have a little over 200 followers so it is one of my more popular posts. 

This week’s least popular post was this one:

You can also visit the post here. This one got only 15 likes in 6 days. It did get a comment but it had very low engagement. The only reason I can think of is that I posted a very similar picture the day before and people weren’t as interested. 

This is what my grid looks like currently. The last two posts are old but the next 7 are all new. 


What is a Reel? A Reel is a 15, 30, or 60-second video. In this video, you can use different audio and video clips to make a funny or informative video. You can also use different people’s audio if you love their video concept. This boosts their video and helps get views for you as well. 

My Reel was very popular. Reels get way more engagement than posts because the Instagram algorithm changed. The algorithm boosts Reels so more people see them which is why I wanted to post at least 1 a week. You can see the Reel I made here.

It was fun to learn how to make a Reel and choose which audio I wanted to use. I tried to choose popular audio to help get more views. I ended up getting 2,000 views within the first 12 hours. Since then I haven’t gotten many more but I only have around 200 followers, as I mentioned before, so it reached a lot of new people. I will definitely continue making Reels because it is going to really help me boost my engagement. 

Instagram Follower Increase

At the beginning of the week, I had 204 followers. I ended the week with 208. This isn’t a huge increase, but I’m just getting started so I didn’t expect a huge increase within the first week. As I continue putting out content for the next 3 weeks the number of followers should increase. Ideally, I want at least 100 more followers this month. 

Reels will be very effective in drawing in a larger following if I make more. I will stick to at least once a week but I might try and make more since they are so effective. Posting consistently will still help me because my posts will keep showing up in people’s feeds. The more they see the posts the more likely they will be to follow me.


I was still brainstorming ideas for my videos so I ended up only posting one. Coming up with ideas takes some time and I wanted to think of some creative ones before posting. I had a video in reserve from a few months ago so I posted that one. Visit it here. 

The video hasn’t really had any engagement at all but I posted it at the end of the week and I didn’t get a lot of views before. I posted a story on my Instagram to tell everyone about the new video. I’m hoping some more people will see my video soon. 

I didn’t get any more subscribers but I haven’t really posted that much. Posting consistently again will help engagement. I will need to brainstorm some more ideas. I will be looking at other booktubers and asking for feedback from my peers. This will help me come up with some new great ideas. 

Final Thoughts

This week went really well on my end. I completed everything I wanted besides not posting a second YouTube video. I was happy that I consistently posted on my Instagram and made a Reel. Those were big accomplishments for me. I am excited to see how much I grow in the next 3 weeks! Want to see how week 2 went? Click here.

In 30 Days I Learned How Instagram’s Algorithm Works and Drove Engagement

This month I did a project to help increase my social media following on my Instagram and YouTube. I gave myself the challenge to post on Instagram every day for the whole month and put out 1 or 2 YouTube videos every week. I wanted to build my following but I also wanted to get my creative juices flowing again and put out videos and pictures I was proud of.

Halfway through the month, I had to change that goal to remove the YouTube videos because I was getting burned out. This is addressed in week 3. I also added an extra Reel in week 4.

I learned a lot of amazing skills like:

  • Social media marketing
  • Dedication
  • How to make Reels on Instagram
  • Consistency
  • Navigating Social Media Algorithms

You can follow my journey on this page.

Why This Project?

During my senior year of high school, I was insanely busy. I tried to keep up with my content creation but eventually, it was too much and I had to stop. I really missed putting out content and interacting with my followers so I decided why not get back into it?

I wanted to learn new skills like how algorithms worked, what works for social media marketing, and if I was capable of putting out content every day. Challenging myself to keep going and not give up was really important to me. Even when this month is over I want to keep putting out a post on my Instagram every day to help build my presence.

Here’s how it went.

Weekly Updates

Week 1

Start of project + posting Reels

Week 2

Condensed down to one YouTube video a week

Week 3

New system for increasing following

Week 4

Project wrap up + more Reels

Skills I Learned

How to Make Reels

How to Use Zapier to Link Instagram and LinkedIn

How to Make the Instagram Algorithm Work for Me

My Accomplishments

What I successfully completed:

  • Posting every day
  • Making at least one Reel a week
  • Learning consistency
  • How to navigate the Instagram algorithm
  • Social media marketing

I learned a lot about how social media works and how to use it to my advantage.

What This Says About Me

  • I can take on a challenge and complete it successfully. 
  • I can learn a new skill quickly 
  • I can market on social media
  • I can make a Reel
  • I can be consistent and stick with something
  • I can teach other people how to do things
  • I can ask other people for help

What I Would Have Done Differently

This was a very challenging project for me. I was successful in completing it but there were definitely bumps in the road. 

If I were to do this project again there are multiple things I would do differently. I would implement the social media skills I learned in week 3 at the beginning so I could increase my following faster. 

I would switch my account to a business account at the beginning. I didn’t know it would give me analytics and that would have helped me a lot. 

I would have taken photos ahead of time instead of day by day. Scheduling out my posts would have helped so much with planning and I wouldn’t have had to scramble every day to come up with a new photo idea.

Final Takeaways

Even though I hit some bumps in the road this was a really fun project. I really enjoyed learning about Instagram and Reels. Learning about the algorithm was so helpful and I will be using that knowledge in the future for sure. 

I also had an amazing group of people that really helped me learn things really quickly because I started learning some of this in the middle of the month. Overall this was a really valuable project and I learned skills that I will use for the rest of my life.

I plan on continuing to post every day on Instagram and making at least one Reel a week. This was a really fun part of my project and I want to continue that. I need to reevaluate my YouTube since it didn’t work out for this project.

I will be switching to a business account so I can get the analytics and make my posting even better. I am going to continue to improve my Instagram page and content in the years to come. 

I Built an FAQ Page For Blue Willow Books To Improve Response Time

Blue Willow Books is an independent bookstore located in Houston, Texas. I have participated in many of their virtual author events. Authors typically include Blue Willow as a stop on their book tours!

On one of my recent virtual events with them, I noticed their website didn’t have an FAQ page. They are very active on social media and answer a lot of questions in the comments, but most common customer questions should be answered with a static FAQ page on the website. 

I created an FAQ page for them and used TextExpander to answer questions. The FAQ page would benefit Blue Willow by making it easier for customers to find answers to their questions without having to contact them. 

What is TextExpander? TextExpander is a software that you can use to expand text without having to write the whole thing out. TextExpander uses abbreviations that you can type and it will expand the abbreviation into a word, sentence, or even a full paragraph. This saves a lot of time especially for FAQs because the answer can be stored and you never have to worry about your grammar.

TextExpander makes it easier for Blue Willow’s employees to answer questions quickly and efficiently. I am familiar with Blue Willow and their values so I am a great person to design this. 

FAQ Page

I created a backend page on my own WordPress website in order to display the design of the FAQs I wrote for Blue Willow. When choosing what questions to include, I looked closely at their Instagram and read the comments on their posts. 

Here is the page I designed in WordPress:

Blue Willow has a very friendly tone, and has very informal answers, but gives all the information you need. I picked the questions that would be hard to find the answer to on their Instagram. These questions are the most relevant and valuable to a customer. 

When designing the page, I tried to make the blue lettering as close as possible so it would blend seamlessly into their site. Using the same format as Blue Willow’s site would make it very easy to add the FAQ page. 

The questions were found from Blue Willow Books Instagram specifically. Their Instagram had the most questions compared to any other social platform. Blue Willow Books employees answer most of the questions so it was fairly easy to find the information I need to create the FAQs. 

I also looked at their site carefully and came up with some questions that the average site user would want to know and the answers that weren’t obvious at a first glance. 

How to Use TextExpander

After designing the page I added all the answers to the questions into TextExpander. I made a video showcasing this. 

Skills I Learned 

In this project I learned how to find questions for a business, use TextExpander, and design a page. TextExpander is a useful tool that I can use in the future to help my writing happen much faster. Designing the page on WordPress was fun because I got to match the site to look the same so it could be added quickly. I also learned how to:

  • Create a project for a company
  • Use a new tool quickly
  • Time management and project management
  • Find a problem in a business quickly
  • Keep going even when things get hard

I can use my new time management and problem-solving skills to help me create projects for companies I will work for in the future. I will also be able to persevere and keep going when things get hard. Overall this was a great project and I learned so much!

I Built a Newsletter for Thrift Books to Help Boost Lead Engagement

Image from MapMyCustomers

Last week, I was looking at Thrift Books, a used book service that I’ve followed for the past few years, and noticed that they didn’t have a newsletter or any sort of funnel in place to capture and nurture website leads. This was surprising to me as many online bookstores use newsletters to boost lead engagement. 

Having a newsletter is beneficial for a company because it can draw customers and help a company keep track of the people visiting their site. This is also another way for a business to market products. By sending emails with their new deals and products they can gain valuable sales. I decided to take it upon myself to create a newsletter for Thrift Books so they could reach more people and increase sales. 

Using Mailchimp 

I decided to use Mailchimp to build my newsletter. Mailchimp is an easy and quick tool to use. They have easy templates and you can create anything from a simple email to a landing page. Since it is so easy to use I could focus more on my content and not have to spend so much time on my designs. If I wanted to make more elaborate designs Mailchimp still has the capability. This gave me flexibility on my designs. 

I also made a pop-up using Mailchimp. In my mind, this is the best way to get someone to sign up for a newsletter. A pop-up will appear right as someone visits a site. A person’s eye is immediately drawn to it and will be more likely to sign up. This is also easier to see than say an email signup at the bottom of the page. The customer doesn’t have to go searching for the newsletter they are told right away. 

Another draw for the newsletter is giving a discount. I decided a discount would be the best way to get people to sign up. When there is an incentive like a discount the customer will be more likely to sign up. Then they can receive other emails that will maybe make them a repeat customer. 


This is the pop-up I designed using Mailchimp.

After they subscribed this message would pop up.

Test Emails

I created some test emails. These are examples of emails people would receive depending on what they asked for. 

Just Subscribed 

They would receive this email right after they subscribed.


This email has the discount as the lead magnet. They most likely subscribed for the discount. I put that first so they know they got what they asked for. Then I tell them about everything they can get out of the newsletter. I let them know that they can change their preferences so they can only get the emails they want. 

This shows the newsletter is about the customer. I end with the company values to let them know what Thrift Books stands for. The end of the email has the unsubscribe button letting them know they can unsubscribe at any time. 

Secondary Day subscription email 

This email would be sent the next day after they subscribed.


This email is just to follow up. I remind them they still have a coupon and books are great gifts. I mention gifts and books. This will get them thinking about shopping for gifts and keep Thrift Books in mind. 

Book List Email

This is an example of a book list email. I used loom to show the email. When you click on the link it takes you to Thrift Books website to where you can purchase it.


This email is for a newsletter subscriber that is interested in fantasy and sci-fi books. There would be a tailored email for every book genre that would be sent to the newsletter subscribers. If someone was interested in romance they would be sent a romance list, if someone was interested in teen fiction they would be sent a list about teen fiction, and so on. This helps the subscriber find a new read and potentially gets us business since I’m linking directly to our site. 

Email Survey 

This is a survey I would send someone after they purchased something.

   This is the message they will receive when they complete the survey, 


This survey email is to help get feedback on our website and customer service. Consistently improving the website helps customers navigate it and buy more things. Offering another coupon is an incentive to take the survey. 

Sending any sort of thank you can surprise a customer. Not everyone sends you a thank you email after you purchase something from them. The customer will remember that and be more likely to purchase from us again. 

Survey Completion Email 

When they complete the survey they will also be sent an email.


This is a follow-through email. Send them the coupon so they keep coming back.

Why All of This is Valuable

Thrift Books didn’t have a lead magnet. Why is this important and valuable for their business? Having a newsletter/a way to acquire leads is important for growth. When you have a way to communicate with your customers and follow up with them it makes their experience better. 

Different emails draw people to your content. Discounts, follow-ups, and book lists are all related to Thrift Books content. When someone receives these emails they are understanding more and more what Thrift Books is all about. When they receive a book list they know that someone spent time putting the list together. They can trust that the person knows what they are talking about. Adding Thrift Books’ mission and values to an email helps someone know what we are trying to accomplish. 

What I Learned

This was an amazing project. It really took me out of my comfort zone and stretched my skills. I learned how to use Mailchimp and I feel much more confident then when I started. Using emails to draw customers was a new thing but I created some great emails. Overall this was a great project that I really enjoyed. I will definitely be using my new email skills in the future. 

How to Use an Entry-level Job to Learn Foundational Business Skills

Image from The Balance Careers

Almost everyone has worked an entry-level job. Basically, an entry-level job is a job that puts you at the bottom of the ladder but is accessible to most early in their careers. You aren’t paid much, you don’t have benefits, and you do a lot of hands-on work. A good example is a retail job at a clothing store, bookstore, or grocery store.

When you work in retail you learn a lot about the four different areas of a business and how they work together. You learn how to interact with customers, how to sell things, how marketing is effective, and how a business operates. All of these are valuable for your career and you don’t need a fancy job or an overpriced classroom to learn them. 

My Entry-level Job

My first job was at Barnes and Noble. This is a great example of an entry-level job. I was paid minimum wage and didn’t receive benefits. To most people, this would be a negative thing but I decided to use it as a learning experience. I was getting paid $9 an hour to learn how a business operated.

Working with books is fun and I love my coworkers. When starting my job I wasn’t thinking it would be beneficial to my professional career. Over time I realized all the valuable skills I learned. I learned how to work with and build relationships with customers, how to sell books, how marketing was valuable for a business, and how a business works. 

What I Learned About Customer Success

Customer success is important in any business. A customer success rep anticipates issues before they happen and are constantly thinking of ways to improve a customer’s experience. Their job is to make the customer’s experience run smoothly and efficiently. When a customer complains about a problem they work to fix it. 

In retail, customers are our number one priority. Every decision revolves around our customers and what they will be looking for. We want all the displays to be neat and appealing to our customers. 

At Barnes and Noble, we work to put books in the best place for a customer to find them. New books are put in the new hardcover section so customers can find them. If there are a lot of popular books in a specific genre that is selling well we will put them on a display. All of this is to ensure our customers’ shopping experience is easy. 

What I Learned About Sales

Sales is arguably the most important department for every business. A sales rep talks to people and tries to sell their company’s product. They make phone calls every day to try and find prospects. They are constantly talking to people and learning what works for their sales. The point of sales is to try and help people find what they need and what will benefit the company. 

In my job at Barnes and Noble, I’m always focused on what is selling well. We pay attention to what everyone likes and the highest-selling books. Hand-selling books is also important. If we want a particular book to sell we try to tell everyone about it so it will sell better. We try to help our customers find their next great read. 

What I Learned About Marketing

A marketing rep is very similar to a sales rep. They search for prospects, people that will fit their product and want to buy it. They can also do social media posts, newsletters, and even paper flyers. Their job is to get the company’s product out there and be noticed. 

I learned how effective marketing was at Barnes and Noble. We learned how to take advantage of Tiktok and the famous books on the platform. Keeping up with the Tiktok books helped us sell a lot of them and be sure we had enough. Most of the employees aren’t on Tiktok but we can easily look up the books. We compile a list and find the books throughout the store. 

A specific book, We Hunt the Flame became popular on Tiktok. One of our employees found that out and I helped her put it on the table in the middle of the store. Now it sells super well because we capitalized on the opportunity. Most people look at that table before anything else. 

Sports cards and Pokemon cards are also very popular. Whenever we got a new shipment we posted on our Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. People would show up so fast after we posted and buy the cards. This made sure that we would sell very quickly. 

What I Learned About Operations

Operations is the inner workings of a business. Someone in operations solves problems and helps a business run smoothly. Without operations, the business would be in chaos and no one would know what was going on. Operations look different in every business.

The inner workings of a business can be hard to see from the outside. Every business is different in how it operates. At Barnes and Noble, there are employees that have managers and the managers have managers, and so on. What we all have in common is that corporations call the shots and set the rules. We have no control over anything they do besides complaining about it. 

That being said, we have control over what we do in our store. We can change displays, order popular books, and sell whatever we want. The company is still all about the customers. We become our own operations team. We fix problems and make everything run as smoothly as we can. Corporations don’t have time to fix our problems, we have to do it ourselves. 

High-Quality Skill Building Doesn’t Have to Come From the Classroom

Most people will tell you that a fancy job or an overpriced classroom will give you the most value. They are wrong. Big fancy jobs don’t just fall into your lap. You have to work really hard to get those. Overpriced classrooms are just that, overpriced. Almost everyone comes out of college with debt. They have to pay that money off for the rest of their lives. Most people go to college just for the fancy school name on a diploma. Use every experience wisely. 

Skills on how to run a business don’t always come from conventional places. In almost every job someone has they can learn a valuable skill that will help them in the future. An entry-level job isn’t glamorous or very high paying but it is valuable. I learned so many amazing skills at Barnes and Noble that will help me further my career. Almost everyone has had a job like that before. That means that they have those skills too. That will be the most valuable thing for your career.

How to Communicate With a Team

Image from Small Biz Ahead

Communication is something a lot of people struggle with. Everyone varies and has a different personality. When you go into any sort of business role communication is important for all of them. With a team, communication becomes even harder because everyone will have varying personalities. But how do you learn how to communicate with a team?

What Skills You Need

For great communication with a team, you need a variety of skills. One of them is having a great personality that makes people want to talk to you. If you are open and enthusiastic about your job people will be more likely to want to talk to you. Your teammates will want to come to you with their issues and will trust that you can take care of them. 

You also need to be a great listener. If you don’t hear what the person’s problem is or what they need you won’t get anywhere. Hearing from everyone in the team is crucial so everyone feels heard. 

It is also good to have writing communication skills as well as verbal ones. If you can get your point across easily people will understand you better. Your team dynamic will improve if you communicate well verbally and in emails and messages.

How I Learned to Communicate With a Team 

Over a year ago I was part of a program called NASA High School Aerospace Scholars (HAS) it’s a science program for juniors. During this program, you have a boot camp from October to February doing different science projects. If you do well you’re selected for a trip to the Johnson Space Center for a week. I was selected but Covid-19 started so we had to do a virtual program instead. 

When the program started we had to volunteer for different positions and stay connected via video calls and texting. This limits communication and makes it difficult to connect with your fellow team members. I volunteered for the leadership position so it was my responsibility to make sure everything got done. It was challenging because we were in a completely virtual setting. 

We had to complete a certain amount of tasks daily and as a team. There were a couple members that didn’t show up at the allotted time. I didn’t know what to do. I contacted them multiple times asking them to finish their tasks. It took a while but they got all of their work done. I learned great written communication with all of my team members and they knew what they were supposed to do. I cheered my team on and we did well in the program!

Best Practices to Improve Your Team Communication

Communication contains many components. Some of it comes naturally and some of it you have to learn. You might have an easier time communicating if you are outgoing and willing to talk, but you can always learn how to talk to people. Getting out of your comfort zone helps you learn something new. 

Another skill that is important is listening. If you can listen to someone’s problems and hear them out you can learn a lot. Hearing all sides of the story makes communication and solving the problem easier. Slowing down and taking in all the details will help a lot.

For written and verbal communication it’s important to practice. Practicing your writing and talking to people will make you that much better at communication. The best way to learn is to write and talk to people. The more experience you have the better you get.

Every Experience is Valuable 

Communication is a hard skill. Talking to people can be scary if you aren’t used to it. All of that can be overcome by perseverance and hard work. I didn’t have great communication skills when I started the HAS program but I came out of it with great ones. I also learned how to lead a team and how to work hard to get good at something. In every experience, you can learn a new skill. All of this is possible for anyone if they are willing to work hard and believe in themselves.

How Leveling Up Customer Service at Barnes and Noble Led to My First Promotion

Everyone starts at a job in a different way. I go into everything I do with enthusiasm and dedication. I try really hard to be a hard worker and do everything I can. Anyone can do this with the right mindset. Your journey depends on what you are willing to do. I learned this at Barnes and Noble.

Starting at Barnes and Noble

When I first started as a bookseller at Barnes and Nobles, my managers told me it would take a full year to learn everything. There was a lot of information. It would take a while to feel confident and sure you could hold your own. 

I took this in stride and was determined to learn as much as I could. I asked lots of questions about how different sections worked and how to do a project. When I saw a display was missing something I would fix it without asking. I tried to go above and beyond what they asked me to do. I wanted to help them achieve their goal. 

Customer Service Skills

I learned quite a few skills while working. I started in the middle of Covid-19 so there was a new challenge of navigating all of the new health protocols and upholding these with our customers.  We required masks in all Barnes & Nobles stores, but some people didn’t want to wear them. I had to learn quickly how to deal with unhappy customers and how to diffuse tense situations. 

When speaking with an angry customer, I learned how to ask a lot of questions. This proved to be an effective method for making sure I fully understand the customer’s frustrations and made them feel heard. If the customer feels heard they are more likely to come out of the situation satisfied. 

Another skill I learned was how to keep smiling. When you keep a smile on your face people pick up on that, even if it’s subconsciously. Once I talked to a lady that didn’t want to wear her mask. It was hard but I tried to keep smiling the whole time. This situation was saved from a lot of tension and she left satisfied.   

How I Gained Trust

If you don’t show that people get to you it helps the situation. I always try to keep smiling and have a chipper attitude. This also helps your fellow employees. If you keep your spirits up and talk to them it can help make the day better. 

Volunteering for the job is even better. I volunteered for every job I could. I wanted to learn as much as I could and help out. When a project has been unfinished for a while I am asked to finish it. My managers knew they could count on me to finish it. 

Landing the Promotion

All of my hard work paid off! After just 9 months on the job, I was asked to be a trainer. We train new employees and show them the ropes. I had been trusted enough to train other employees and it hadn’t even been a year yet! I had learned where all the sections were and what books went where. I was an expert on cash registers. I knew all of the important skills a bookseller needs. 

My manager told me she was impressed with my commitment and hard work. She told me not everyone goes above and beyond as I had. It was rare and it made me trustworthy. That was why they made me a trainer. When you work hard and do the dirty work people notice. 

Taking on New Responsibilities 

With my new promotion came new responsibilities. I had to train new employees on a regular basis. This required them to follow me around for a whole shift and I would teach them how to use the cash registers, computers, and where the sections were. 

I was asked lots of questions by newer employees. Even if they were out of training they would still have a lot of questions. Someone would ask me where a section was and I would show them and try to help them remember for the future. If they didn’t know how to place an order I would walk them through it step by step. One time a coworker asked me how cookbooks were organized. Since I had helped with the organization I walked them through each of the sections. 

New responsibilities can be overwhelming. You might feel like you aren’t ready. One of the best ways to take on new responsibilities is don’t be afraid to ask for help from other employees. If you don’t know the answer to a question don’t just say you don’t know, say you can ask someone else and find out. Help the new employee out by taking over the situation. 

What’s Next For Me

Barnes and Noble was a very valuable job experience for me. All of the skills and responsibilities I gained are very important. 

  • Customer success
  • Teamwork
  • Organization 
  • The inner workings of a company
  • How to train someone how to do my job
  • Troubleshooting

I have customer success experience and that means I won’t have to start from scratch at a new job. Learning how a business works and troubleshooting will be valuable. I plan on continuing my job at Barnes and Noble and learning as many skills as I can. I’m ready to go wherever life takes me. Remember that every job will give you something valuable that will help further your career. 

The Versatility of Operations

What is operations? That’s what most people ask when they first hear about it. Operations is helping the inner workings of a business run smoothly and efficiently. It requires a lot of problem-solving. If you’re in operations, you need to connect with everyone in the business to solve problems and make everything work behind the scenes. 

What Do You Do in an Operations Role?

An operations role is different in every business. It depends on what is needed. You could focus on software and making it more efficient, handle the finances, or improve the efficiency of sales, marketing, or customer success. Operations requires versatility and adapting quickly. 

Usually, someone in operations hires new employees. You have to think of how well someone will fit into the company. Thinking about their personality, skill set, and enthusiasm helps you decide if someone is a good fit. This goes back to efficiency. Someone who will be a great fit for the team will be easier to integrate and train. It will take you and everyone else less time to train the person. 

My Operations Experience

At Barnes and Noble, every once in a while, we reorganize a section. Recently we reorganized cookbooks because it was getting impossible to find anything. Everything was mixed up and it took us so much time to find one cookbook. I helped go through and organize the cookbooks by type, so it would be easier to find everything. We separated vegan, vegetarian, international, and regular cookbooks. I put each of them in their own section.

This took a lot of time. It was satisfying when we finished, and now it’s much easier to find the correct cookbook. This increased efficiency saves all of our employees’ and customers’ time. We also worked together. Since there aren’t really specific roles at Barnes and Noble, everyone is in sales, marketing, customer success, and operations. 

This goes back to collaboration. Everyone has to work together to make everything run more smoothly and efficiently. It’s important for everyone as an individual to look for a problem and figure out how to fix it. Then it doesn’t fall on one person’s shoulders.  


Operations is probably the most complicated role because it can change so rapidly. You can be responsible for many things and it can be different in every job. An efficient mindset is important. However, this makes an operations role exciting. If you love solving problems and making everything more efficient, operations might be for you!