Since publishing my first blog in 2005 I have witnessed many of my fellow bloggers rise to internet stardom and entrepreneurship. In those early days there was a lot of genuine passion and an infectious sense of excitement and possibility: “Can I really make a living doing something I love?” However, it didn’t take long before the shady marketers spotted opportunities for big money and started selling us their 6-figure ‘secrets’ and we all know how much that has influenced and diluted our entrepreneurial landscape.
Today I was, once again, reminded of The Hustle because of an inquiry I received about business mentoring and coaching programs, there have actually been quite a few of these lately. In this instance the inquirer said how much she adored my business and my life and could I teach her my ‘secrets.’ It was a lovely email but, erm, you know, there are no blooming secrets.
Nonetheless, this made me ponder how I, too, am following a familiar path:
I started out as a web designer doing 1:1 work and eventually added eCourses to my business and this year I stopped doing 1:1 work to focus full-time on teaching my craft. However, I did not end up here because I had some big plan at the beginning whereby I identified a need in the market and then created products and ‘secret’ formulas for success around this need so that I could eventually sit back and enjoy the passive income that would come rolling in.
There is nothing passive about running a successful online business and I am where I am today for three simple reasons: I love web design, I love teaching and I work hard.
My decision to change my business model from 1:1 web design to online education was based on two realities I came face-to-face with at the end of last year:
I realized that I wanted to remain a solo operator. I have never had ambitions to grow into an agency or hire out parts of my creative work, I like being a Company of One. I get help for things like bookkeeping and accounting and I have successfully collaborated with other professionals in areas that are not my core skills, like copywriting or graphic design. But when it comes to my own web design work I have not had the greatest experiences in contracting that out, partly because of creative differences but also because as an HSP I found managing the triangle of client-me-contractor too energetically draining.
I could no longer manage both 1:1 work and my eCourses without either getting help or compromising the high quality of my services and products. As each area of my business grew I literally ran out of time to handle it all as one person. I love web design but my heart has always been in teaching. Even before I started my own business I used to facilitate corporate training sessions and run private self development workshops. By the end of 2018 – after more than three years of doing both – my eCourse revenues had overtaken my web design income and I felt ready to make the leap into full-time teaching.
Here is the thing: I am at a point where I could start selling the ‘secrets’ to my 6-figure business, where I could really polish up my marketing and begin shifting the focus from sharing my tools and teaching a craft to promoting the lifestyle of the freedom loving online entrepreneur.
Lifestyle sells. Secrets sell. And they are both very powerful marketing tools. But are they my marketing tools? I think not.
Do I believe that they are effective tools? Absolutely. If you create a lifestyle desire amongst your audience and instill that with a sense of lack and urgency, and if you have no qualms about bombarding people with a series of high noise emails promising your ‘secret sauce’ during your well planned out course launches and keep feeding your hungry audience with frequent how-to blogs and monthly income reports then you can make a lot of money. THIS kind of marketing is the ‘secret’ formula to the hustler’s success. And eventually it becomes all about the numbers: the large mailing list, the numerous blog posts that attract traffic to your site, the high sign-up rates to your courses that you need to support your business model and reputation. It works.
But it’s not how I work. Numbers matter but that’s not what I’m all about. I’m about the substance. I go deep, not wide.
People often say that I over-deliver in my courses and that they are blown away by the quality and depth of my content and support. That’s because it’s important to me to not only share valuable knowledge and provide excellent tools and service but also because I enjoy the personal interactions with my students and watching them figure things out and thrive.
I will never lure you in by preying on your unhappiness with your current situation or by dangling the lifestyle carrot in front of you. If you enjoy creative work and want to learn about web design, eCourses, SEO or how to build a business with Squarespace then I will teach you what you need to be successful and this in turn may very well change or improve your life.
I will never sell you my secrets because there are no secrets to my success, only strategies, skills and yes, hard work. You bring your passion and I will give you the tools to turn what you love into a profitable business run with heart & integrity.
As for those inquiries about business mentoring and coaching programs – I am listening. I am not a coach but the relationships person in me likes the idea of a mentoring program so let me think about this and what it might look like. Also, if you are reading this and think you might be interested in being mentored feel free to send me an email and tell me a bit more about who you are, what you’d be looking for and why you think I would be a good mentor for you.
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