TURN IDEAS INTO INCOME, INFLUENCE, AND IMPACT

You Have to Fall In Love With the “Business Stuff” Too

Jasmine Star, photographer & blogger, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

“I just want to get this business stuff figured out so I can get back to the stuff I actually like.”

I hear that all. the. time.

The thing is, the “business stuff” never goes away. The business stuff is what keeps paying the bills. The business stuff is what allows you to do creative, meaningful work.

And here’s another thing: the business stuff is your job.

Jasmine Star told me, “I am a photographer 20% of the time, and an entrepreneur and business woman 80% of the time.”

Lori Allen told me, “What people think is your job and what is really your job are often two different things.”

If this is the case (and it is), you’ve got to find a way to fall in love with the business stuff.

You can’t just tolerate it, you can’t just push through it.

You have to fall in love with it.

How do you do that?

Start with picking 1 thing about starting or growing your business that you’ve more-than-tolerated, maybe even enjoyed.

Product photography? Getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Create a plan to go all in on that 1 thing.

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on product photography?

How would you structure your business differently if you went all in on getting on the phone with prospects? Making marketing videos? Looking at your numbers?

Having a focus like that will start making the chemistry happen in other places of your business as well.

Still don’t think you can fall in love with the business side of your business?

Click here to read a very personal story.

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Pivoting Your Creative Business with Jasmine Star

Jasmine Star, photographer & blogger, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

Tara:  Hey, everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m your host, Tara Gentile, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passion, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

Today’s guest is Jasmine Star, a world-famous photographer, educator, and law school dropout.  Jasmine is now building resources for other creative entrepreneurs on personal branding, making the best of social media, and achieving a business owner mindset with her methodology, The Path to Profitability.  Jasmine and I talked about being in the midst of her transition from wedding photographer to business mentor, how she listens to her audience to discover exactly what they need, and how she bridges the gap between inspiration and products that people are excited to buy.

Jasmine Star, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Jasmine:  Well, thank you for having me.  I’m excited.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So let’s start with your origin story.  How did you go from law school to professional photographer?

Jasmine:  Well, it’s a rather long story, but the nutshell version was I was in law school, and it was my first year, and my mom had a relapse with brain cancer, and it kind of rocked my world.  It was like the first time that I kind of encountered a really difficult patch in my life, and I left law school because I wanted to be with my mom.  The doctors did not give her a very good prognosis.  In fact, they said that it was time to start planning her funeral, and the one thing I knew I wanted was my mom to see me marry my best friend.  I had been dating my high school sweetheart for about eight and a half years, and he proposed and we planned a wedding in three months.

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Tara:  Wow.

Jasmine:  And against all odds, my mom and my dad walked me down the aisle at our wedding in Hawaii, and my life changed, because I saw that my wedding photographer did something more than just document my wedding.  He documented a miracle, because my mom is still with us today, and even though she wasn’t supposed to be, it was … I had this like coming to.  I was like, “My God, my mom is 50 years old and I’m 25.”  And I had like a mid-life crisis.  I said, “If I have 25 years left in my life, I don’t want to die a lawyer.”  And that was like this big wake up call for me, and when it came back time to go to law school, my husband asked me, you know, because he saw how sad and depressed I was, he’s like, “Well, if you could do one thing for the rest of your life, what would it be?”  And I said I want to become a photographer and I want to run a business.  And he said, “But you don’t even own a camera.”  And I was like, but if I did, I’m sure I can make it work.  And that’s the story.  That’s literally how it happened, and we had that conversation in November of 2005, and in December of 2005, that year, he surprised me with my first camera, it was a digital camera, and I started my business that year, and it exploded.

Tara:  That’s amazing, and what a story.  That’s absolutely incredible, and so I know we talked earlier that you’re kind of going through a bit of a transition right now, and I want to get to that, but let’s start, let’s pick up kind of right there where your business is exploding, you know, you’re learning photography, you’re experiencing photography, you’re getting it done, you’re generating revenue that way.  What misconceptions did you have when you started your photography business?

Jasmine Star, photographer & blogger, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara GentileJasmine:  Well, a major misconception was that I envisioned myself very close to like some forlorn hippie.  I was like it’s going to be me and my camera, we’re going to run through fields of wheat, and it’s going to be a very creative and amazing experience, and it’s just going to be all warm and fuzzy and butterflies everywhere, and it wasn’t that at all.  It was running a business.  I truly, then, only when I was in the thick of it, understood that, you know, I was a photographer 20% of the time, and an entrepreneur and business woman 80% of the time.  And so the largest misconception was that my creative life would dominate my daily activities, and that was completely the opposite.

Tara:  That is something that we have heard from a lot of people when I asked that question.  How did you feel about that?

Jasmine:  Well, I was intrigued, and I was passionate, and for better, for worse, I’m a scrappy hustler.  You know, I grew up in like a really rough neighborhood and my parents are immigrants and we lived super simply and we didn’t have much.  So what I did have was stuff that I was able to earn, find, hustle, keep.  Kind of that whole like beg, borrow, whatever I had to do to get what I wanted, and I think it kind of taught me how to navigate in a, in like a bootleg version, but in the business world.  It’s like I understood that I wasn’t afraid of hard work, and that I was willing to do what I needed to do in order to survive, and you know, to be able to do that with a camera was just like icing on top of the cake.  So while other people might shy away from it, I kind of dove head first into it, and I was like, “I’m ready.  I’m definitely ready for this.”

Tara:  Yeah, well, and it seems like that is really what makes the difference between people who succeed with their creative businesses and people who don’t.  If you’re only in love with the creative side of it, if you’re only ready to dive into the creative side of it, you’re just not going to be able to do what you need to do to make it work, and so for the people who can really fall in love with the business side, and you know, get down to business and really hustle exactly like you said, those are the people that really go on to succeed.  Do you see that, too?

Jasmine:  I absolutely see that, too, and I don’t want to … I actually read a phenomenal book a few months ago called Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, and I couldn’t agree more when she said that as creatives, we cannot expect to put the pressure on what we find our art to be to be a source of sustaining us.  So for instance, just because I loved photography, if I wasn’t ready to have business acumen to run the business, then I should just be okay with it being a phenomenal hobby, something I love to do, and it satiated me creatively.  But in order for you to turn your passion or your art into a form of sustaining your livelihood, well, then you absolutely, positively need to kind of create a business structure around that.

Tara:  Amen to that.  So let’s talk about your business right now.  How’s your business currently generating revenue?

Jasmine:  It’s pretty diversified.  So we have an online store that sells products for photographers, and we started that about five years ago, and it’s been a great source for passive income.  This is the type, passive income is the type of income that when I wake up in the morning, I see that I have sold a few digital products, and that has been phenomenal, so that’s one part of it. 

I’m also a photographer, so I’m working heavily with about 20 clients this year.  We’re a boutique luxury photography studio based in Orange County, California, but we traveled the world for our work.  Another capacity is education.  So in-person and online education by way of woohoo, CreativeLive, and a myriad of other places.  That’s kind of been a big push for us. 

And then something new that we decided to start this year was to kind of pivot and launch, or kind of make a lateral change in our business.  I have spent years educating photographers the importance of building a personal brand and marketing your business, and over the past like two years, it’s been kind of like on the down low.  I was doing it for photographers, and then other people started seeing how I was helping entrepreneurs get off the ground and they started asking me questions to see if I would be interested in helping their business, even though they weren’t themselves photographers.  And so, of course, I was completely skeptical.  I was like, well, I know that it works for photographers, I’m just not sure if they would work for whatever, a graphic designer, a florist, a baker, a jewelry maker, and kind of started testing the waters and got into some phenomenal conversations, and what I decided to do was I realized that consulting creatives on a one-on-one basis just wasn’t scalable.  I only had a certain amount of hours in my day.  So the past like ten to twelve months, we’ve built a curriculum called The Path to Profitability, and it’s for creative entrepreneurs to market and brand their businesses.  So it’s applying the same principles, but like extracting the idea of photography, and really just applying it to creative entrepreneurs in general.

Tara:  Fantastic.  And so we talked earlier about this transition.  What was your thought process in … can you kind of walk us through step-by-step how did you realize that you wanted to make this transition?  How did you actually go about, you know, doing the work of kind of pivoting your brand, pivoting your message?  Can you walk us through that?

Jasmine:  Yeah, I mean, I’m going to be really honest.  It’s … these are the conversations and thoughts that I had two years ago.  I had just hit like a weird space in my kind of creative journey.  I loved being a photographer, and it was great, but I felt like something was missing, and I just didn’t give myself the permission to say … to pursue the thing I really enjoy doing.  I enjoy photography, but with equal proportion, I really love helping business people become stronger business people, and I always talked myself out of it.  Like I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t worthy, I wasn’t smart enough.  Like who am I to think that I could teach other people?  And this is the exact thing I preach against for all photographers.  It’s you are enough, you can pursue it, even though there are hundreds of thousands of people who have a camera and are pursuing it professionally, you offer something that nobody else offers, and I couldn’t take that advice for myself, which is ironic.  And it took me awhile, and once I started … once I gave myself the permission to believe that it was a possibility, and once I extracted all sort of expectations, because whenever you start a new venture, it’s just a new venture.  It’s not a new business.  It’s not a business until you’re actually profiting enough money to pay yourself an income, to pursue new ventures, and so I took out all kind of expectations.  I said I’m going to try this. 

I’m going to build this curriculum because this curriculum is in me, and it needs to get out of me, out into the universe.  Now, if it’s successful, phenomenal, and if it’s not successful, well, I know I’ll help people along the way, and then it’s just giving me more leverage to pursue something else.  But all I know is I have to get it outside of me, and that’s where we are right now.  I’m in this awkward phase of I’m about to launch this new thing, and I don’t know how it’s going to be received, but at the end of the day, I am just doing what I’m being called to do, and that’s to create and execute.

Tara:  Yeah.  And how has that affected the photography side of your business?  Are there changes that you’ve made there to open up space?  Have you taken on less clients?  Anything like that?

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Jasmine:  Absolutely.  So it works in two ways.  We did take on less clients.  Last year, we shot 30 weddings, and it was phenomenal, we loved it.  This year, we’re going to shoot closer to 20 weddings, and we’re done booking for the year, so it’s nice to know our schedule in advance, and at the same time, wedding photography, which is specifically my niche, is very seasonal.  So I shot my last wedding in November of 2015, and I won’t be shooting my first wedding until March 2016, so we had this big break in months where a lot of creative photographers like to kind of just take a breath and hibernate, and instead, I just like to bring more stress into my life, so we kind of hit the ground running in last October and just didn’t stop.

Tara:  Nice.  Nice.  So I had mentioned that I had talked to Celeste, one of the content producers here, and she just went on and on about how motivating and inspirational you are, and clearly, that is your modus operandi, but you know, I know that a lot of motivational and inspirational people can build communities and build brands, but they don’t always go on to make sales or develop products that people want to buy.  Can you talk about how you personally bridge the gap between, you know, inspiring people and having that be a big part of your personal brand, and also creating products and, you know, promoting things that make people want to buy?

Jasmine:  That’s like a really great question.  Well, one, I’m flattered when people say I’m inspirational, but I don’t know if I necessarily see myself as inspirational.  What I think I am, and this is what I believe I am, is that I am a mirror to what people want to see in themselves.  Is that a girl who’s not qualified, who can work hard, who isn’t maybe the most technically savvy, or isn’t the most artistic photographer you’ve ever met, but she’s out there pursuing what she loves and being really successful at it.  I think that that is what inspires people, not me in and of myself, and so when it actually comes to selling things or creating products, it’s truly and wholly just based on what I’ve heard that people want.  People want more information on how to get busy.  People want information on how to build a brand, specifically, that always tends back to people want to make more money for the thing that they do, and/or they want to change the current structure of their clientele. 

So I hear this again and again and again, and so what I do is I just respond to pressure points.  What do people want help with and what am I good at?  And if once I bridge that gap, then the derivative is a product that I’m really proud of, and that’s exactly where we are with the path to profitability, is kind of I see pressure points, I know how to speak to the pressure points, and I really just want to create a phenomenal curriculum based on how to help people.

Tara:  Yeah, so I do the exact same thing.  I’m a big listener, I’m a big observer, I want to know exactly what particular pressure points, what pain points, what goals people have, and I want to create products to fill them, and I tell that to my clients as well, and they often say, well, how do you figure those things out?  How do you listen for that?  How do you see those things?  So can you give us sort of your process for paying attention, really?  Are you talking to people individually?  Are you talking to them in person?  Are you listening online?  What does that look like for you?

Jasmine:  I am a total hermit.  Like today, we had this conversation, Tara, it was just like are you sure that this Skype session, this interview, is going to be just audio?  It’s not going to be visual, right?  Like I am in yoga pants and an oversize sweatshirt, no makeup, so when it comes to listening to people, it’s by and large on the internet, where it is totally okay to look like a hot mess and not worry about it being a reflection of your business.  What I think people want to do is people want to hear, and they want to find the pressure points, but they themselves aren’t necessarily engaging in the type of conversations that would foster that, so I’m very active on social media, and I mean, everything from strategic business questions and answers type thing, but also, very much in tune with pop culture or the books that I’m reading, and it would be … it’s very crazy to kind of see a reoccurring pattern.  So I’m a big reader, this is an example, this is a recent example that just transpired two days ago.  On Instagram, I post the books that I’m reading.  Once I finish them, I give a little brief synopsis and what I thought about it, and I recently finished a book, and I openly admitted on social media that I have struggled with depression and I don’t think it’s ever in past tense. 

When somebody goes through like really hard moments, it’s I have to learn how to function in spite of how I feel, and it’s an active emotion and mindset that I have to put forward in order to not be overwhelmed when it comes to really dark places in my life, and putting that out on social media, and then just seeing this massive outpouring, and I know by and large my audience are … my audience is creative, and the thing that I saw immediately was that people kept on saying that they themselves just didn’t feel that they were good enough, worth it, talented enough, and that what manifests from that is an overwhelming sense of melancholy and depression, and that was just like a light bulb that went off, and I thought to myself, “This is a hot button topic that nobody wants to talk about.  It’s not okay to admit that you struggle with really hard things, and I’m open with it.  It is not … I don’t make it my story, but I include it in my story.  I still openly talk about how I see a phenomenal therapist who helps me navigate my business and personal life, and so I thought to myself, “This right here is going to be wonderful content for a blog post.”  So I plan on writing about what it means to be creative and also cite other, like, artists.  Specifically, like Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.  It’s very, very open that they struggled with, like, dark, dark moods and depression as a manifestation of their hard work in the creative realm, and so I think to myself, first I would listen, then I would write a blog post, I would see how that blog post worked, then I would kind of branch out from there.  Doing social media updates in regards, starting the conversation, and if I feel like there’s depth to that, then I can kind of create deeper content, maybe like a pdf or an eBook about what it means to be creative and balancing those sometimes like melancholic moments in your life.

Tara:  Oh, that’s perfect.  That’s my exact process, too.  So thanks for sharing that.  So that actually made me think about Imposter Complex, which is not the same thing, obviously, as suffering from depression or melancholy or, you know, any of those … those dark feelings like you were talking about, but I think it’s certainly related, and it’s something that many, many, many of us struggle with, and it’s certainly something that we’ve talked with a lot of guests about in the past as well.  Can you tell us what kind of role Imposter Complex has in the way you approach your work and how you deal with it?

Jasmine:  Absolutely.  So, ooh, this is … it’s weird.  I hate admitting it, but I am just, how do I say this, I suffer from the Imposter Complex every time I pick up a pen to write, every time I pick up a camera, every time I step on a stage, every time I step in front of a camera to teach.  It is always a litany of questions.  Like who are you to do this?  Imagine what people are going to say.  Think about all the negative, like, all the negative things that people are going to say as a result of what you’re saying, and for me, it’s really important to go through the full gamut.  What’s the worst that people can say about me?  What’s the worst possible thing that can happen?  And perhaps you aren’t in a position to be of authority to speak on this.  And then I say, “And then what?”  Like, okay, so … okay, let me take you on a detour, but I promise I’m going to bring it on back.

Tara:  Sounds good.

Jasmine:  So I grew up in a kind of like really rough neighborhood, and it was primarily Hispanic and black and my parents didn’t own a car, we used public transportation, and we washed our clothes at a laundry mat, and my dad got paid every two weeks, and on pay day, my mom would give us $5, and my sister and I would walk down to Little Caesars Pizza, and we would by a $5 pizza for family dinner night, and this was like a splurge for us.  So I have a twin sister, we walked down like three blocks from home, and I pick up … I pick up the pizza, and there is a chola, which is like a Mexican female gangster right outside the door, and she’s like, “Give me your pizza,” except she doesn’t say it like that.  It’s like, “Give me your pizza right now, okay,” and I was like, “Uh, okay.”  So I was like, my sister steps in, she’s like, “No, you can’t take our pizza.”  She’s like, “My mom would be upset.”  And then she says, “And then what?”  And then my sister goes back and says, “Well, then our family wouldn’t have dinner.”  And then she says, “And then what?”   And so she went through this like litany, and every single time we stated what would happen next, she just stated, “And then what?”  And that was the first time in my life where I realized that once I like outlined everything that could possibly happen and still be okay with the outcome, I gave myself the permission to always say that.  So although it wasn’t the best story when I was 8 years old to have my pizza stolen, now what I say to myself is, “And then what?”  You know, I have to have the little accent.  It was just like, you know what?  At the end of the day, if people say that I’m not in a position to teach or I don’t know what I’m talking about or I’m not worthy to stand on a stage, I say that, I internalize it, and then I squash it and move on.

Tara:  Oh, I love it.  That’s so good.  It also reminds me of the Five Whys from the Lean Methodology.  Are you familiar with that?

Jasmine:  I am not.

Tara:  Okay, so you’ve got … you’ve got a problem that you need to solve, and you ask the question, “Why?”, five times.  You start with a problem, and you say, “Well, why is that?”, and you get to the first reason.  And then you say, “Well, why is that?”  And then you get to the next reason.  And you get … say again, “Well, why is that?”  And so you dig down deeper and deeper and deeper until you actually get to the root of the problem, and I think that’s sometimes helpful with Imposter Complex as well, and that … that’s sort of a … not exactly the same thing, but it reminded me of it.

Jasmine:  No, Tara, it actually is the same thing, except yours is the smart and safe and educated way, and mine is like ghettofab.  It’s like, “And then what?”  It’s like, yeah, same ideology, different practice.

Tara:  Yeah, so everyone can choose which they prefer?

Jasmine:  Do you choose the five whys, or do you choose the chola decision?

Tara:  Exactly.  It is decision-making time.  Okay.  So let’s shift gears a little bit.  Well, maybe not too much.  Your blogs and your workshops and you know, the media that you put out, your blog posts, reach hundreds of thousands of people, and yet, you have a way of making individual people really feel seen and heard and understood.  What are you doing to make that happen?  Are there particular techniques that you’re using?  Is there something that you’re planning for that allows that to happen?  How do you make people feel so heard?

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Jasmine:  Well … well, thank you for the kind words, and if I were … Okay, what … what you just described is probably the outermost shell of like an onion, but if you were to peel back all of those layers, the core of this, which is what I teach in my educational courses, both in photography and for creative entrepreneurs, and that is first and foremost, far before you actually think of how you’re going to brand your business or how you’re going to market your business, one of the very first courses of action you must do and create is an ideal client profile.  This is identifying and outlining who the person is that you want to attract, who you’re talking to, and who you serve.  And so for me, I have taken the time, as we navigate into this new business world for creative entrepreneurs, is I have taken the time to outline my ideal client profile.  I know her age.  I obviously know her gender.  I know that she’s married.  I know she has kids.  I know what kind of car she drives.  I know how she spends her weekends.  I know what TV show she watches.  I know what clothing store she shops at.  I know her most recent YouTube search.  I literally went through 40-50 questions that I asked and created for myself so that I completely knew who I was talking to.  I basically Frankensteined my ideal person, and so every time I sit down to write a social media update, a blog post, create content, I’m thinking and writing for her.  And because it’s such a honed idea and version of who that person is, every time I write to her, other people that would identify with my ideal client identifies with the thing that I’m writing. 

And it cuts both ways.  Because I am speaking so clearly to people and they identify and they embrace the things that I’m putting out online, there is an equal proportion of people who cannot stand it.  And I’ve completely subscribed to the ideology of attract or repel.  The more I put out online, I really only want to do one of two things.  I want to attract you into my orbit, or I want to repel you.  I don’t really want to deal with people who I’m repelling, because they are needy, they are negative, and they just don’t get me.  So if you don’t like what I’m putting out on the internet, simply turn and look the other way.  But the people who have drank the Kool-Aid, the people who get who I’m writing to become ardent supporters.  They build a tribe around this, and furthermore, they build communities.  So the core of it is knowing who you’re talking to, knowing what you’re saying, and know how to serve them.

Tara:  Yeah, I love that, and I think you also don’t want to even attract people who are kind of luke warm about what you’re doing either.

Jasmine:  Right.

Tara:  Yeah, because that can really … that can really derail your whole strategy, or strategies even not the right word, but just your response to the people that you want to be serving.

Jasmine:  Absolutely.

Tara:  Perfect.  So one of the other things that the folks here at CreativeLive have said about you is they go on and on about your people skills.

Jasmine:  Oh, God.

Tara:  So I was wondering what are some of the specific things you do to show your appreciation to clients and partners?

Jasmine:  Well, okay, so this is more of like a personal … a personal bent that I’m able to put into my business, but I love giving gifts, but I just don’t like to give gifts for the sake of giving gifts.  I like to give the gift that you know you want, but never really put words around it to put it out in the Universe that that is the gift that you want.  So I’m the kind of person like if we’re having a conversation and you said that like your first lunch pail was like My Little Pony and how you loved it and whatever the case may be, I would probably make a note in my phone that Tara likes My Little Pony lunchboxes, and I … either your birthday came around, if Christmas came around, I would look on my phone and realize, oh, I need to EBay a lunch pail.  And so that kind of gift giving, the kind of like listening in between the lines for what people are saying, to me, is like such … like such an asset for my business, because  when my clients mention that they went … oh, okay, so once, my clients had said that they met for their first date at an Italian restaurant on Melrose in Hollywood, and I just loved working with them, they were phenomenal, and as a thank you gift, I sent them a gift certificate to the place where they went on their first date.  So listening to those small details makes people really feel like seen and heard and personalizes the experience to such a rich degree.

Tara:  Oh, that’s excellent.  All right.  Let’s shift gears a lot now.  Can you tell us who’s …

Jasmine:  Well, actually …

Tara:  Oh, yeah.

Jasmine:  Tara, I have to back it up, sorry.

Tara:  Yeah, no problem.

Jasmine:  I should also mention that you had mentioned Celeste earlier in this interview, and Celeste was a content producer, and we worked together on many courses at CreativeLive, and she would wear a fanny pack, and for the life of me, for this girl from southern California, born and raised, like L.A., Orange County, my whole life, I would be like, “Celeste, a fanny pack, just no.  You cannot wear fanny packs.  I refuse.”  And she just rocked her fanny pack.  She was like, “I carry all my producer supplies in it,” and during our last course, we did some phenomenal things at CreativeLive, and so as a thank you gift, I bought her a designer fanny pack.  I said, “If you’re going to wear a fanny pack, then let me just approve of it,” and so to me, like, those kinds of gifts really kind of just define richer relationships with my friends.

Tara:  That’s so awesome.  Aren’t fanny packs back in style now?  I thought that was a thing.

Jasmine:  Well, actually, if you want to know, they’re not called fanny packs, they’re called like hip satchels or something.

Tara:  Oh, no.

Jasmine:  Yeah.

Tara:  That is awesome.  Okay.  Can you tell us who’s on your team right now?

Jasmine:  Well, my husband.

Tara:  Okay.

Jasmine:  He is like … he’s like the coach, he’s like the umpire, he’s like the sweep hitter.  I don’t even know if sweep hitter, clearly, I’m not into sports.  What is like a bit …

Tara:  Cleanup hitter.

Jasmine:  Cleanup, yes, cleanup.  Yes, he’s a cleanup hitter.  I mean, basically, he’s the whole infield and outfield, and the people in the stands, and somehow, I’m the one holding the bat, and so he’s … he’s everything.  He’s amazing.  Everyone, you know, people on the outside, the brand has become Jasmine Star, and I just referred to myself in third person, which is really annoying, but without him, it just doesn’t exist.  He is … he’s a secret.  He’s a secret sauce that makes everything amazing.  And just recently, as we started this new venture with the Path to Profitability, we brought on an assistant, and she’s been with us for five months, but prior to that, we did everything just myself and J.D.

Tara:  Wow.

Jasmine:  I know.

Tara:  That’s amazing.

Jasmine:  It’s kind of crazy.

Tara:  That is kind of crazy.  Okay, so then that leads me to my next question, which is how the heck do you manage your time?

Jasmine:  I think it’s … I think it’s hard.  When people are … at least it was hard for me.  When I was working, before being able to become a full-time photographer, I would listen to interviews or I’d read interviews and people would talk about their life and their business, and in my mind, I would imagine it to be a certain way, and I think on the outside, social media has a way to distort how things look and feel.  And so people might look at my social media and think like, wow, like she gets to go to yoga in the middle of the day, and while that’s true, what people don’t know is that I wake up like at 4:30 every morning, and I’m going to sleep like at 11:30, and I work all day long.  And I take breaks, you know.  I mean, just yesterday, it was my husband’s birthday, so I only worked a few hours on that day, and so because you work so much, you’re giving yourself the latitude as a business owner to take time where you need it, but how I get it all done is you work long hours and you’re extraordinarily organized.  So it’s ridiculous.  I have Post-It Notes, these large Post-It Notes, and I write down everything that I need to get done in that day, and then I assign a time schedule to my day, and I cannot veer from that time schedule, or else something will fall off my plate.  So when you’re juggling so many balls, everything has to be like with precision.  So this morning, I wrote that we had our podcast interview from this time to this time, and then I was going to take my lunch break, and then I was going to walk the dog, and you know, I even take time to schedule like when I’m going to update my social media.  I mean, it is really ridiculous, but that’s truly how I’m able to get everything done.

Tara:  Yeah.  Are there any other tools that you use in terms of just organization other than Post-It Notes?

Jasmine:  I mean, Tara, come on.  No.  It’s like honest to God, it’s ridiculous.  It’s silly that with technology being the way that it is, I’m still reverting to a ball point pen and multi-color Post-Its, but you know, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Tara:  Absolutely not.  I mean, I love Post-Its as much as the next girl, so I totally understand.  Okay, has there been any one decision that you’ve made that’s had a disproportionate influence on your success?

Jasmine:  I don’t know if it’s like a singular instance or particular event, but I think that when I decided to say yes, even if I wasn’t in the position to, it changed things dramatically.  The very first time I had a conversation with Chase Jarvis, the CEO of CreativeLive, he randomly called me on the phone and he asked if I wanted to partake in an online educational course, and I knew that I was not in the position, of all the other talented photographers who could have stepped in and did it, they were better and they were more qualified than me, and I still said yes, and I think that that was the first time, and that was in 2010, and since then I say yes.  I say yes to everything, as long as it does not compromise personal time or sanity.  So the decision to make yes has revolutionized my business.

Tara:  Yeah, that’s awesome, and it totally ties back to what we talked about in terms of the imposter complex.  Instead of listening to that nagging voice, you’ve chosen to really say yes.

Jasmine:  Absolutely.

Tara:  Awesome.  So one final question, and this is a … this is a question that I ask almost everybody, and that’s how do you balance the roles of creative and executive in your business?

Jasmine:  I think I’m going to answer this like an executive.  I have to build out time for creativity.  When it comes to being creative, it’s not something that you just turn on.  Like, it’s not like okay, now it’s time for me to be creative, but I build out certain hours of my day, and I know it sounds silly, but practicing yoga and walking my dog makes my mind turn off, and when my mind is turned off, it’s when I can hear and feel and be pushed in the direction that I know my soul is moving in, and so often, when you are just consumed with day in, day out, every single task to do, you don’t give yourself to be creative, so what I have to do is I just have to give myself the space and then the creativity will come.

Tara:  Got you.  And I lied, I have one more question.  What’s next for you?

Jasmine:  Oh, I hope sleep.  I hope sleep is next for me, Tara, I’m not going to lie.  We’ve just been … we’ve been burning the wick at both ends, and buy and large, I’m not one of those entrepreneurs who are like hustle at all costs.  It’s like hustle or die.  No.  There are times.  There are times to hustle, and then there’s times to revel in your hard work.  Right now, we’re in like the hustle mode, and it’s hard and it’s stressful and you feel, like, awkward, and I feel like people are looking and seeing whether or not this new venture of mine will succeed, and I … I don’t know, it’s just like a crazy … it’s a crazy point in time.  So what’s next will be to finish this, to sit in it, and to enjoy, and then kind of create things for creative entrepreneurs that feed back into the Path to Profitability, and the only way that I can create that content is how we started the conversation, is listening to the pressure points of people and then answering and fulfilling their desires.

Tara:  Absolutely.  Absolutely.  Well, Jasmine Star, thank you so much for joining me.

Jasmine:  Thank you so much.  I appreciate it.

Tara:  Jasmine’s CreativeLive boot camp, The Complete Wedding Photographer Experience, can be found by going to CreativeLive.com/photography.  You can find out more about her new venture by going to ThePathtoProfitability.com.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast, and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.  Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Jaime Blake.  This episode was produced by Elizabeth Madariaga.  You can catch up on older episodes in the iTunes store, where new episodes are added every week, and you can learn more by going to CreativeLive.com.

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Consistency Builds Brands, Complacency Destroys Them: Inside a Recent Experiment

Consistency propels brands. Complacency destroys them.

Photo by Jessica Hill Photography

 

I’ve now been offering the same business coaching program & methodology for over 3.5 years. We’ve iterated & improved the program every time we launch it. We even changed the name once.

But the program and message have remained consistent.

This spring, we had our best program launch ever. It also fell far below my expectations based on our preliminary data.

When we surveyed potential clients who had not signed up, we got the usual answers–but more than anything else, people told us they were tired of taking courses they didn’t use.

When I originally created the Quiet Power Strategy program, I had this objection in mind. I wanted to create something that wasn’t a course and was more akin to 1:1 coaching but helped you create a wider entrepreneurial network at the same time.

But that selling point had gotten lost as the program scaled, the market was flooded with courses, and our audience grew.

I wanted to remain consistent because I believe in the power of the QPS work to solve your business challenges–but I also knew it was time to change things up, to get creative.

I needed to change things up to keep our work relevant, forward-focused, and supremely useful.

So I got really specific with that core objection:

  • Why aren’t people using the courses they buy? (They’re not making time.)
  • Why aren’t people getting results? (They’re not completing the courses.)
  • Why aren’t they executing? (The course teaches but it doesn’t help them plan. It’s focused on lessons, not implementation.)
  • Why are people feeling so burnt out on learning and even their own businesses? (Courses try to solve surface level problems, not core challenges.)

Then I rebuilt our offer to combat each of these objections:

  • What if you had to make time for the program you purchased?
  • What if the format of the program made it easy to complete?
  • What if the program ended with a customized plan in your hand?
  • What if the program was designed to dig deep into the core problems of a business?

What would it look like to fulfill all of those constraints on the program?

I took my initial concept to my mastermind groups: a 2-day virtual planning retreat that took a group of clients through the process from start-to-finish, with support and coaching from me along the way.

They loved it.

We talked about how to make it even better and then I set the first experiment in motion.

Last week, we ran that experiment.

20 clients worked with me for a total of 16 hours over 2 days. We went through the entire process from start to finish. The energy, peer support, and depth of work were astonishing.

We finished Day 2 with 100% completion by our participants.

Inside the Quiet Power Strategy Virtual Planning Retreat

Inside our 2-day Quiet Power Strategy Virtual Planning Retreat — that’s my buddy Tanya Geisler laying down wisdom about the Impostor Complex!

 

The feedback has been effusive:

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 12.21.20 PM

While it’s too early to know for sure, I have a feeling we’ll see more results for more members of this cohort than we’ve ever seen before.

I’m not telling you about this so that you want to join us for the next Virtual Planning Retreat–though I’ve got more on that soon.

I’m telling you this because, when things are “working,” we wait to change course until we’re forced to change course. 

We grow complacent about our strategy because it’s what always worked.

Consistency does propel brands.

But complacency can ruin brands–even if you’ve grown complacent around something great.

If you’re feeling any part of your business or life constrict around you, there’s a good chance that making a fundamental change could pump new life into the whole endeavor.

This doesn’t mean you change something on a whim, it doesn’t mean you adjust course because you’re bored, it doesn’t mean you do something different because the shiny object over there is calling to you.

Change it, intentionally, when it’s no longer serving you or your customers.

Use creative constraints to discover a new opportunity.

Engineer a new path forward.

In this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit., Jennifer Lee gave us an example of necessary change, too. She’s no longer running her popular video summits and she talked about why and how she made that change. Click here to listen or read the interview.

And, if this whole 2-day virtual planning retreat idea sounds pretty cool, click here to learn more about it and sign up to get information on the next enrollment. When you do, we’ll also send you some exclusive free training opportunities.

Jennifer Lee on Growing Your Audience with Integrity

Jennifer Lee, author of Right-Brain Business Plan, on Profit Power Pursuit with Tara Gentile 

Tara:  Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

On today’s episode, I’ll talk to Jennifer Lee, author of The Right-Brain Business Plan and Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way.  She helps creative people who cringe at the thought of writing a business plan find creative ways to turn their dreams into a moola-making enterprise.  Before starting her own business, Jennifer was a consultant for Fortune 500 companies like GAP, Inc., Accenture, and HP.  Jennifer and I talked about her current right-brain business plan, and how it’s helping her to evolve her business, why she decided to retire her successful Right-Brainers in Business video summit, and how she manages her time as a creative business owner.

Jennifer Lee, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Jennifer:  Oh, I’m so excited to be here.  Thanks for having me.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So the story of how you created The Right-Brain Business Plan is pretty well-documented at this point, so I’d love to start off by finding out what your right-brain business plan looks like right now.

Jennifer:  Ooh, the latest one.  Let me get it off my shelf.  It’s right over here by the computer.

Tara:  Okay, great.

Jennifer:  This is, I think, my fourth one that I’ve done.  No, wait, one, two, three, four, it’s the fifth one.

Tara:  Whoa.

Jennifer:  Since 2007, so this one I actually did in 2014, I believe.  I think so.  It’s changed in flavor, actually.  The last one I did, no, that was in 2013.  The last one I did was very much like big energy, getting myself out there in a big way.  Had like microphone and the stage and all this kind of cool stuff, and since then, I’ve been looking at more sustainability and, you know, focusing on ease and having sustainable growth over time, so this new plan, this is actually from 2015, the first panel is reset your health, beginner’s mind, kick back and relax, resolve to make life easier, and it’s a woman who’s meditating.  And then when I … the next set of panels is about I really was craving having like my own space to do creative work, because I had been so focused on really growing the business and kind of lost sight of my own creative process, so I had created this collage about wanting my own space, and within the next month, I got keys to a studio.

Tara:  Wow.

Jennifer:  So that was pretty amazing.  And then the last few panels are about team and infrastructure and having things be more streamlined and easy.  There’s a picture of this woman dancing with two dogs and there’s money everywhere, and it’s love running your business, so this idea of bringing fun back into the business and having things run smoothly operationally so that I can then focus more on, you know, doing the stuff that I really love, because when the business grows, as you know, Tara, it’s like then things get more complex, and there’s all sorts of other considerations to be thinking of, and so really getting a handle on that so I could focus back on my own creative process, and really serving people in the way that I love to serve, and there’s this other quote here that says, “Do small things with great love,” and that’s really helping me, you know, to be thinking about what is it that I’m offering and how can I do it with love.

Tara:  I love that.  Thank you for sharing that.  Do you … do you redo your plan about every two years it sounds like?

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Jennifer:  Yeah, it actually, I don’t, like, have it on my calendar that okay, it’s, you know, the second year and I need to redo one, it just organically has been like that, so my first one was in 2007, and then it was 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, so I do them based on, like when I look at the plan, does it still feel like I’m working on it, or like if I look at it and go, yeah, I actually feel complete with that, or maybe some things have transformed into new desires or new visions, different than what I had initially planned, or sometimes those things have manifested in different ways, and like, oh, well, yeah, that counts, you know, and I can check that off.  So it’s really paying attention to how do I feel when I look at it, and is it still ringing true, or you know, does it feel done, is there more?  So yeah, for some reason, it happens about every two years where I feel complete and ready to move on.

Tara:  Love it.  And how … how close to completion on your current plan do you feel like you are?  Are you still working on building it up or are you getting ready to kind of close … not close it down, but kind of wrap it up and move onto the next thing?

Jennifer:  I am still working this baby.

Tara:  Yeah?

Jennifer:  Yeah.  I think there’s, you know, still more to learn about bringing more ease into the work, and then, you know, the studio space last year was really about me having that time for myself, so I didn’t actually host anything there for that whole year.  Didn’t geotag anything.  You know, it was the place for me to go to really connect back with myself, and that was really important for me.  So what’s on this plan right now, though, is stuff around, you know, connection, partners in craft, delightful, neighborhood, open studio, and there’s like a classroom.  So there is a part of like bringing more people into this space, whether that be … I did a retreat with some of my mentorship folks in January, and that was really awesome, and that was kind of the way that I christened the space with actual people, you know, besides me, and I definitely want to see more of that this year, because that part of the plan has not really … that’s not brought to life in its fullest quite yet.

Tara:  Awesome.  So can you give us kind of a rundown of all the different ways that your business is currently generating revenue?

Jennifer:  Sure.  My different multiple moola making methods, as I like to say?

Tara:  Yeah.

Jennifer:  Because I like alliteration.  Let’s see.  There are different ecourses that I provide.  There’s the Right-Brain Business Plan ecourse, which is kind of the initial offering of helping people work through their own right-brain business plan, and we offer that as a facilitated course which is eight weeks, or a home study if people want to take it and we’re not, you know, running it live.  We also have a product development ecourse/home study, so that’s also offered once a year facilitated, or you know, any time via home study, and that’s a six-week program.  We have our mentorship program, which is a ten-month intensive kind of group coaching program, and that has three different levels.  So there’s the cohort circle level that has kind of the group coaching aspect.  There’s coaching calls, teaching calls, online coaching through our private group, all that kind of good stuff.  And then there’s other levels with getting coaching with me and with my associate coaches and masterminds and in-person stuff.  So there’s, you know, the different ways to get support through the mentorship program. 

I also have a licensing program for the Right-Brain Business Plan.  So for folks who love teaching workshops, who are coaches, who like the Right-Brain Business Plan, they can become a licensed facilitator and lead in-person workshops in their area.  So we have, I can’t remember the latest count, maybe about 40 or 50 facilitators worldwide who lead workshops using the Right-Brain Business Plan.  And then I also have a licensing program from my products that are focused on life vision using kind of creative approaches.  So that’s Unfolding Your Life Vision, and I also have a kit called the Dream Box Kit, and both of those kind of take you through a creative process of planning your vision for your life, your goals, looking at different aspects of what creates a fulfilling life, and so folks can become licensed facilitators for those programs and lead in-person workshops using that fun, visual technique for doing life visioning.

Tara:  Love it.  You were one of the first people that I saw that had a licensing model, and I was very inspired by that licensing model, so that is awesome.  And did you mention your books?

Jennifer:  So yes, I have two books.  The Right-Brain Business Plan, which came out in 2011, and Building Your Business The Right-Brain Way, which came out in 2014, and the second book is a lot of what we cover in the mentorship program, so it’s like The Right-Brain Business Plan book, there’s The Right-Brain Business Plan course that kind of helps you dive into it more deeply and get actual support through it, and then Building Your Business the Right-Brain Way is this idea of, okay, now you know what your business is and you’re wanting to grow it, what are the other things that you need to do, to have in place, you know, how do you really package your offers, and you know, sell in a way that’s authentic and build your team and kind of all that stuff that helps you expand your enterprise.

Tara:  Got you.  So this is … this is really interesting to me, because I know I get a lot of questions from clients about the relationship between free work and paid work, or in this case, you know, a very low, low ticket offer, which is a book, versus a much higher ticket offer, which is a course or a program.

Jennifer:  Right.

Tara:  Can you talk about how you wrap your head around, you know, giving, technically, I guess, giving it away for free or for very little versus asking people to pay a whole lot more.  How do you wrap your head around that?  How do you approach that in terms of the content that you create and the experience that you’re creating?

Jennifer:  Right.  And I think it’s kind of funny how you had to remind my books, because your question was about the money making thing, so that’s probably why I didn’t include those.  Just like you’re saying.  So in terms of wrapping my head around it, yeah, I mean, certainly, a book that’s $20 is, you know, a lot more affordable than, you know, a $200 course or, you know, a program that somebody’s going to invest thousands of dollars in. 

So for me, the way I look at it is the free part is really helping people to, you know, get information they need to just get started, get their feet wet, start to realize that, oh, you know, I can do this.  Like I love hearing from people, you know, if they tag me on a picture on Instagram, like, “I’m working on my Right-Brain Business Plan,” like, “I didn’t realize this could be fun.”  And just opening up that doorway to a whole new way of looking at work, and then, you know, some people, like I’ve heard from them via email that they’ve just read the book, and then they wrote a business plan and actually, you know, got funding for their non-profit, or you know, got grants, all that kind of stuff.  So it’s like people can do it on their own, and that’s awesome.  Like I love hearing that. 

And then there’s some folks who just really want to have like the hand-holding or to be in community with other people so they don’t feel so isolated, and that way, they can move more quickly through their goals, or you know, get more progress, get feedback, and that’s where having the opportunities to invest more in yourself and in your business through these programs can really help accelerate your progress, and so I think it’s great for, you know, people who are wanting to build an audience to have ways to connect on a free level.  I mean, one of the things that I didn’t mention in terms of money-making methods for myself was I, for five years, ran a video summit that was free for people watching live and to have replays and then I sold passes to it to get recordings, and even just doing the free parts, like I made so many connections that I have even to this day, you know, from five years ago of people who really were impacted by that experience and were so grateful to, you know, have it not have to pay for it, but still get tremendous value, and you know, they’re still really great fans of my work and have, you know, maybe went onto my books or be part of my courses, so it’s kind of that longer term view as well, in terms of building relationships and adding value.

Tara:  Yeah, that’s a great point.  And so it sounds like, you know, the core value proposition for these things, you know, the book versus the course might be exactly the same, but there’s additional value in the experience that you’ve created, and that opens you up to a different type of market as well.  Do you find that more of your customers for your courses have purchased the book and are looking for more?  Or do you find that more of them come to you kind of without that previous experience in your work?

Jennifer:  It’s a mix of both.

Tara:  Okay.

Jennifer:  It really is.  Yeah.  Some people who, you know, have the book and just, you know, want to have a place to work on it with other people, and then some folks are like, you know, I just heard of this, and then they have … for the Right-Brain Business Plan course, they do need the book to go through it, so you know, they get the book through us or through Amazon.  I think, you know, a lot of times, they’ll hear about it from a friend or something like that, and like oh, I think, you know, this is something you should try.

Tara:  Yeah.  That’s been my experience as well is that it’s a … it’s a mixed bag, but having that … having the book available or having that freebie available or whatever it might be definitely greases the wheels for a large segment of people and it’s super helpful.  So you mentioned the video summit, and I want to talk to you more about this, because it’s something that, you know, now, so many people are doing.  I think when you first started it, it was pretty innovative, really, and you mentioned that you had … you did it for five years.  Are you not doing it anymore?

Jennifer:  Yeah, I stopped doing it this year.  Like I didn’t do one this year.

Tara:  Wow.

Jennifer:  Yeah, and so that was a big move for me, and that really, you know, was part of that new business plan that I put together in terms of, you know, what … what is going to work for me going forward.  I love doing it.  It was, yeah, it was at the time like really innovative in terms of having this real-time way to interact with people, and we had so much engagement.  Like it was really incredible, and it’s a whole lot of work, you know?

Tara:  Yeah.

Jennifer:  A lot goes into it.  You know, it was a ten-day thing, and I actually started having, like, health issues.  Not because of the summit, but just, you know, in general having health issues, and it was kind of hard for me to be like on for ten days, because I could have, you know, some kind of flare up, which I did that final year, and I had said this is probably my last year doing it, and the whole theme was what’s next, because that was where I was at.  It’s like well, I don’t think this is working for me anymore.  What’s next?  And you know, I’m grateful that I put it to bed consciously and said, you know, it’s run its course, and what’s next?  What do we … by saying no to something, then it’s going to open the door for something else, and that’s, you know, also when I got the keys to my studio.  So it’s funny how that works.

Tara:  Yeah.  So I want to talk more about how you’re figuring out what’s next, but first, can we talk about how you came up with the idea for the summit in the first place.

Jennifer:  Oh, sure.

Tara:  Because I think a lot of people out there are looking for ways to grow their audience very, very quickly, and summits are one way that’s possible to do that, but there’s lots of different ways that you can do it, and I think just even finding out how those ideas come into being at first can help you get on the right track.  So how did you come up with the idea?

Jennifer:  Yeah, so I came up with it through the help of a mastermind.  So this whole idea of, you know, being around other people who give you feedback, it’s so valuable.  I certainly benefited from it.  I was working with my coach, Andrea J. Lee, as part of one of her mentorship programs and was in this mastermind, and this was back in, I think it was December 2010, and the book, first book was going to come out in February 2011, so I was like, okay, guys, I need to come up with some kind of event to help launch the book, and at that time, you know, telesummits were the big thing.  And so we’re sitting around the table, and I’m like showing them my Right-Brain Business Plans and saying, oh, I think I need to do a summit, and they’re like, hello, Jen, stop.  You’re showing us things.  You need to be on video.  Like, oh, yeah, you’re right.  Of course, I had no idea how to do one or what was involved, and fortunately, one of the people in the masterminds is now one of my very good friends and creative cohorts, Jeremy Miller, and he had the technical knowhow to help me, you know, get that part off the ground, and then I got support from, you know, the folks in the mastermind about, you know, what kind of speakers to be looking for and how to approach them and what might the format be, so this was something that really was brought about through, you know, collaboration and feedback. 

Jennifer Lee, author of The Right-Brain Business Plan, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara GentileIt wasn’t just me sitting in front of my computer, you know, dreaming this up by myself.  It was definitely hearing from people who had experienced one before, or had, you know, experience helping other people with it, but because it was a video summit and at that time, there weren’t, you know, I don’t even know if I had seen a video summit.  I had seen lots of telesummits.  Really had to kind of make up what the format was, so it had definitely evolved over the five years.  You know, that first year, I’m pretty proud of myself for making it happen, because I had no idea, you know, what it was going to be like when I hit that go live button, and then there was all these people in the chat room, and then getting more comfortable with it, and then having like this culture start to form around this event, and that people would be so excited that it was coming up again, and they would talk about how much it helped them last year, and you know, it was pretty amazing. 

So it’s definitely a great way to build the audience and connect on a deeper level, because there’s that live exchange, and then people are also in community with others, and lots of folks like got to know each other in the chat room.  They’re like, oh, you’re from Portland, too?  Me, too.  And they would go and meet up for coffee and become friends.  Or some people had collaborations.  And then for myself, getting to interview, you know, fantastic speakers, like you, Tara, you know.  Getting to make some great connections that way and learning from, you know, experts in the field as well.  So all around, it was a great experience, and really helped to build my list as well.

Tara:  Well, that’s the … that’s actually the follow-up that I had for you.  Can you talk specifically about how hosting an event like that impacted the size of your audience and even your revenue growth?

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Jennifer:  Sure.  Oh, gosh, I wish that I had … I know I have the stats written down somewhere, but I would say the first time that I ran the summit, I think my list doubled, but it wasn’t, you know, super big then.  It was …  Maybe I went from like 2000 to 4000.  I can’t remember, but something like that, so that was around 2011.  2011 was the first year that I hit six figures, and so that was the first year where I really concentrated on, you know, building the list and working on offers and all that kind of stuff.  So I think that really helped to catapult, you know, that kind of moola milestone.  My list now is about 18,000, and in 2014 is when I hit multiple six figures.

Tara:  Nice.

Jennifer:  And actually, the summit itself, it’s, you know, it wasn’t like each time it was like there was, you know, 10s of thousands of people signed up for it.  It actually, you know, was like couple thousand or maybe 3000 each time, and probably a lot of them were repeat people, because there’s so many people who kept coming back.  My approach to doing this summit is actually different to a lot of summits that I see or am, you know, tapped on the shoulder for.  People email me and say hey, I want you to be on my summit, and they have this whole thing about like you must do a solo email between this and this week and this many tweets on these days and sign, you know, you must sign this and say you’re going to do it.  I didn’t take that approach, and I don’t necessarily like being the recipient of those kind of really, you know, specific requests, especially if I don’t know the person.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Jennifer:  Like that just kind of floors me sometimes.  Most of the people I had as speakers were people I already knew, or had an introduction to.  So for me, it was, you know, a lot about relationships, and you know, creating value for the people who are participating and the people watching, and not about making it as how many people can I get to be on my list because you’re going to promote it for me.  So I think … I think that helped to create more, like, relationships with the speakers as well.  You know, they … a lot of times, they’re like, oh, I so appreciate that you’re just, you know, having it be whatever we feel comfortable doing.  A lot of people don’t take that approach, like I said, but that was something I felt pretty strongly about that for me it was more about the quality, not the quantity.

Tara:  I am so glad you brought that up, because when it comes to summits, when there is a requirement of promotion, that gets an automatic no from us.  My assistants don’t even … they don’t pass them on.  It’s an automatic no.  And I feel very strongly about that for exactly the reason that you just said, which it’s about quality, not quantity, and I can make more money on my list that is smaller.  I mean, it’s not a small list, it’s a big list.

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  But I can make more money off of that list because those people know me and they like me and they trust me and they trust me not to send them junk mail about everybody’s summits, than someone who’s got, you know, 100,000 people on their list, because of all of these different tactics. 

Jennifer:  Right.

Tara:  So thank you for giving that story, and that example, and I totally agree.

Jennifer:  Yay.  I know I feel like it’s this weird, like, conspiracy or something.  It’s like everybody’s working from the same template.

Tara:  Yeah.

Jennifer:  You know, and I get these requests and it drives me nuts.

Tara:  Yeah.  And you know, the ones … the … both the events and the people who are truly successful in those areas have never asked me to do that before.  You know, we had Natalie MacNeil on earlier, and I participated in a summit with her, and it was the same thing.  It was like let me tell you why this is going to be so valuable, because that, and that’s why I want you here, and then it’s like well, of course I’m going to email my list about this.  Of course I’m going to tell everybody about it.

Jennifer:  Right.

Tara:  And so putting the emphasis on the value, which is something that you did really, really well also, you know, with having themes and really thinking about why should someone sign up for this … for this summit.  I loved that, and so thank you for doing that, thank you for being a shining example, even if you’re retired now.

Jennifer:  Thank you.

Tara:  So speaking of which, let’s talk about what … what are you … is there something specific that you’re developing right now to continue to grow your audience?  To continue to create experiences like this?  Or are you moving on to something completely different?

Jennifer:  I’m in that place of exploration, to be quite honest.  It’s like that muddy middle, you know.

Tara:  Yeah.

Jennifer:  So I don’t have a clear-cut answer for you.  In terms of ways to connect with people, something that I tried recently was broadcasting live on Facebook when I was doing my fifth anniversary book celebration recently, and that was really fun.  What I liked about it was it had a similar vibe to when I do my summits, but it was much more informal and casual, so I might just be experimenting more with that.  I don’t have like strategy for it or what I think, you know, is going to happen when I do it, but I just think it’s something I’m going to continue playing with, and then in terms of like what’s next for me programwise or contentwise, I’m also, you know, in that place of exploration.  Something that I’m really interested in, and when I did that retreat at my studio is something mixing, you know, the work that I do with Right-Brain Business Plan so the business side of things, but also this work I’ve been doing with intuitive painting and expressive art.  So that’s something I’ve been trained in.  I think I got certified in that like in 2009 or 10, something like that, so it’s been something that’s been part of my practice, but now that I have the space, I’ve been doing it more, and there’s something really cool that happens when you allow yourself to paint whatever is showing up, you know, intuitively, and seeing this visual mirror of your own internal process, you know, on the page, on the wall. 

I paint really big, so there’s like these wall-size crazy paintings, and it’s been a process that has helped me move through writing my first book.  You know, all of the challenges and doubts and all of that crap that comes with that kind of process, that painting process really helped me move through it, and it’s been helping me move through kind of this transition phase that I’m in now, and when I had the people over at my studio for this retreat, we did intuitive painting and then we did masterminding and then this whole strategic calendaring, and they all blended together really beautifully.  I mean, I kind of knew they would, but it was like doing it in this way and seeing the profound light bulb moments that would come out was like oh, like when I was standing in front of my painting, faced with this challenge, and really trusting myself to move through it, and express my own authentic self on the page, that translated to, okay, what am I deciding to put on my calendar to offer, you know, and what am I going to charge.  It’s kind of that same way of showing up for yourself, and really trusting that intuitive process that oftentimes when it comes to business we put aside.  You know, there’s so many shoulds, and what it’s supposed to look like, the formula to follow, and I found with the intuitive painting process that it’s so much of trusting yourself and having the courage to have it be ugly, have it be different, have it not make sense, and to keep moving forward.  So I don’t quite know how that’s going to, you know, manifest into the next thing, but that’s what I’m playing with right now.

Tara:  I love that.  I love that.  So I’d love to change gears completely right now.

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  Because it took me until we started talking today for me to remember, this was not in my notes originally, for me to remember that you are the originator of the selfie, correct?

Jennifer:  Oh, well, the hashtag selfie.

Tara:  Hashtag selfie.

Jennifer:  On Instagram, I know.   It’s so funny, because people think I invented the word, they think I took the very first selfie.  I did not.  I did not create the word.  I did not take the first selfie.  But I am the first Instagram user to have hashtagged a photo with hashtag selfie.

Tara:  Okay.  And you’ve gotten some press for that, right?

Jennifer:  I have.  It’s pretty funny.  I’ve been in, gosh, where was that paper.  Somewhere in South America, and apparently, my photo, my selfie, is in the German Museum of Technology on display.  Yeah.

Tara:  So the reason I thought to bring this up is only because, you know, sometimes we get known for things that are not at all relevant to what we sell or the business that we have or the message that we want to put out into the world, and I was just curious, and maybe there isn’t anything here, but I was just curious whether you’ve had to deal with, you know, people wanting that from you or expecting that from you, and instead, having to kind of pivot and say, “Hey, no, it’s actually this thing over here.” 

Jennifer:  Yeah, basically, it’s been that.

Tara:  Yeah.

Jennifer:  I mean, I got so many of those like tween followers who their whole feed is them and their friends in selfies, you know, like you are not my target audience.  But it’s been great in terms of, you know, getting more exposure some places, you know, where they talk about the selfie have, you know, mentioned that I’m a coach or include my website, so that’s been great.  It’s also been a fascinating kind of look at visibility, right?  Because I find it hilarious that I’m credited with this, you know, first hashtag selfie where I don’t actually take that many selfies, and like they actually make me a bit uncomfortable, you know, so it’s really funny, but what’s been great is one of my past clients, Vivian McMaster, she has this whole, you know, message around be your own beloved, and using selfies for self-compassion, and she actually was a guest of mine when I was on CreativeLive.  I had a spotlight on her.  So I’ve used that as a way to segue to like hey, you know who’s great to talk about this?  My past client, Vivian McMaster.  So she was actually included in the newspaper article in South America, so there you go.

Tara:  That’s awesome, because she was exactly who I was thinking of when I was thinking, you know, some people offer that.

Jennifer:  Exactly.

Tara:  But you are not one of those people, and so how do you deal with that, and that’s perfect, and that’s wonderful.

Jennifer:  I do the hand off.

Tara:  I love the hand off.  I love the hand off.  And if, for any reason, there is to build a big network, it’s to be able to do the hand off all the time.

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  I love handing people off.  I mean, I love making my own money, too, obviously, but to be able to hand off a media mention or a client or just even interested people to someone that you know and love and trust, that’s so much fun.

Jennifer:  Yeah.  It’s great.

Tara:  Awesome.  Well, you’ve mentioned, okay, so speaking of networks, you’ve mentioned masterminding, you’ve mentioned handing, you know, doing the hand off.  How do you go about growing your kind of collegial network?  How do you go about reaching out and developing relationships with people?  Is it something you put a lot of focus on or not?

Jennifer:  I probably don’t do it as much as I quote/unquote should.  I think, like I said earlier about, you know, the summit part, having the opportunity to reach out to speakers, I think that was like a built-in way that I was able to do that, so I didn’t necessarily do that much more beyond it except for, you know, if I met people at conferences and really connected, and what I’ve been doing lately is kind of paying attention to the people within my own community and like what kinds of things can we collaborate on.  So that’s a place that I’m going to be experimenting more.  You know, I … I kind of keep to myself.  You know, I’m such an introvert.  Yeah.  So that’s possibly put a little bit more focus, but it’s not like a huge strategy for me right now.

Tara:  Yeah.  Yeah.

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  Me, too.  Who’s on your team right now?

Jennifer:  I have an assistant who’s basically like my right-hand gal, and she’s been with me since the end of 2012 I believe.

Tara:  Nice.

Jennifer:  We have somebody who helps with shipping and inventory, because I have tangible products.  I have, let’s see, two associate coaches, so they do some of my one-on-one coaches with the shining stars in my mentorship program and also some one-on-one coaching with people who just want, you know, small coaching packages, and then I have two or three like circle coaches that help facilitate our online programs, and then, you know, we hire out for specific things, like I needed help with some video editing or transcripts and that kind of stuff, we kind of outsource project by project, but the people I mentioned are kind of the core.  I did go through a year where I had an online business manager, so that was, you know, that year where I had the Right-Brain Business Plan, it was like boom, like I’m going to go really big, and there’s this tree with a lot of money, and you know, all the crazy, big, like I really want to hit this, you know, next big milestone, and it just did not work for me.  Or maybe it wasn’t the right fit, but it was a huge learning in terms of what it would take to, you know, get to the next level, and is that what I really want?  And so it was a good experience for me to go through and to realize, like, I don’t need to have all that in order to have the success and the fulfillment that I want, but it was, you know, it was an interesting place to have the team in, and to bring in this new person, then to not have it work out.  And so I think that was, yeah, 2014.

Tara:  Yeah.  Thanks for sharing that.

Jennifer:  Mmhmm.

Tara:  One of the … one thing that our audience always is interested in is how you manage your time.  And I would love to know how the person behind the Right-Brain Business Plan manages their time.  If it’s, you know, as right-brain as the business.

Jennifer:  Well, it’s probably a mix.  So I like to work in kind of bigger chunks of time.  Like I’m not really good with like switching gears a lot.  So what I do is I focus on Mondays and Wednesdays being my more external days or like my client days, meetings, all that kind of stuff, and then Tuesday, Thursday are more kind of the internal work, like writing things, doing marketing, working on new projects, and then Friday is my self-care day, so I might still do some work, but I don’t ever really schedule meetings.  Only exceptions were like media interviews for my book or things like that, but mostly, it’s for me to, you know, have time to replenish, because I am so introverted, I need that time to, you know, have quiet time to think, have self-care, do my creative work, go walk the dog, and then oftentimes, like, I’ll get really great ideas from doing that as a side benefit of having the spaciousness, and then, so that’s kind of how I plan or operate my weeks, and then in terms of like strategic planning, you know, I love having my big wall calendar.  So I have a whole wall in my office that has all 12 months, you know, calendared, and that helps me kind of plan out by quarter, what are the big things happening by quarter, and then you know, do revenue planning from that, and figure out kind of also where I can take vacations or put that on the calendar first and then plan around.

Tara:  Has there been one decision that’s had a disproportionate influence on your success?

Jennifer:  I would say, I mean, it’s probably two things.  One is, you know, doing that first book, and what’s really funny about that is I knew I wanted to write a book, and I think this is probably back in 2009, I had on one of my Right-Brain Business Plans, like, here’s the book I want to write.  There’s like this little mini book that’s on the business plan, and I’d written this book about creativity and more about general life planning using creative process, and I was getting ready to go to this expo to shop it around to publishers, and at the very last minute, like I heard my inner wise self or my intuition say, “Make … make a sell sheet for a Right-Brain Business Plan.”  And so I put that together, and that’s the thing that when I would talk to people at this expo, that’s what they were interested in, so the fact that I listened to that intuition and put together something for Right-Brain Business Plan, that’s the one that got published, you know, and that has certainly, you know, helped me make my mark in terms of my own message and my business.  And then I’d say the second thing was investing in a business coach.  And so that was in 2010, 2011, because that really helped me to take my business more seriously and move from like, oh, I’m a coach with a coaching practice to I am, like, a real business owner who wants to grow an enterprise.

Tara:  Yeah.  That’s awesome to hear you say that, because it’s not like you didn’t have skills.  You were a consultant for huge companies, right?

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  And so, but still, hiring someone, getting someone else’s feedback, getting, you know, hearing from someone who’s been there, done that was still helpful for you.

Jennifer:  Yeah, hugely helpful.  I mean, that really shifted my business.  I mean, that to your question of like what’s made, you know, the most change, it’s like it’s helped me re-think about how I approach the business and how I put myself out there, how I package things, everything.  It’s so different than, you know, when I was just a coach working on the side when I had my corporate job, you know?

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  All right, I have two final questions for you as we start to wrap up here.  First is a question that I like to ask of just about all of our guests, which is how do you balance the roles of creative and executive in your business?

Jennifer:  Hmm.  Making specific time for both I think has been really helpful for me.  Like in terms of making time to go to the studio and just have creative time, and then also, having the white space to think strategically, to do the planning.  So I think it’s, for me, carving out the time to dedicate to both of those things consciously, and then also seeing how they interplay together.  Like I was talking about how the retreat, the intuitive painting and the strategic planning, like they kind of work together, so sometimes, when I’m painting, things will happen, so I’m also open to when the two intersect.

Tara:  Yeah.  It sounds like a big piece of that is just awareness in general.  Like you’re aware that you have a role as a creative, you’re aware that you have a role as an executive.

Jennifer:  Yeah.

Tara:  Which both allows you to schedule that and to take notice of when they overlap.

Jennifer:  Yes.

Tara:  Awesome.  That is a great answer to that question.   That might be my favorite yet. 

Jennifer:  Ooh.

Tara:  Yeah, completely.  Okay, so what’s next for you?  What’s coming down the pike for you?

Jennifer:  Oh, my goodness.  Well, the … my mentorship program is going to be enrolling soon, so focusing on that, and then you know, exploring this whole idea of what’s this next body of work in regards to the painting and business.  I grabbed the domain PaintbrushLeadership.com.  I have no …

Tara:  Oh, that is so good.

Jennifer:  And that’s all it is right now.  It’s just a URL, there’s nothing even there.  Yeah, so just exploring what that is.

Tara:  All right.  Well, I will be looking for that for sure, because that sounds awesome.  All right, Jennifer Lee, thank you so much for joining me today.

Jennifer:  Thanks, Tara.

Tara:  Jennifer’s CreativeLive course, The Right-Brain Business Plan, can be found by going to CreativeLive.com/Craft, and you can find her at RightBrainBusinessPlan.com.

Next week, I’ll talk to veteran CreativeLive instructor, Jasmine Star.  Jasmine is an international award winning photographer, and we’ll talk about being in the midst of her transition from wedding photographer to business mentor, how she listens to her audience to discover exactly what they need, and how she bridges the gap between inspiration and products that people are excited to buy.

Are you surrounded by the right people to help your business succeed?  Your support network has a huge impact on your success, your satisfaction, and your ability to achieve your goals.  At the Quiet Power Strategy Lab, we get you and your business, we respect your individuality, and we challenge you.  The lab is our entrepreneurial resource library and support community.  It’s full of smart, experienced, and savvy business owners who want to help you succeed.  Start your free, 10-day, all-access trial by going to Lab.QuietPowerStrategy.com/People.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.  Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Jaime Blake. This episode was produced by Elizabeth Madariaga.  You can catch up on older episodes in the iTunes store, where new episodes are added every week, and you can learn more by going to CreativeLive.com.

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads: Behind-the-Scenes of Our Marketing Campaign

How to Court New Customers with Facebook Ads: Inside My Marketing Campaign

I bet you’ve been wondering whether Facebook ads could jump start your outreach, list-building, and revenue.

It seems like everybody is doing it.

Advertising is great. It can fast-track your ability to connect with the right people and grow your influence in the market but…

Most advertisers are going about it all wrong.

Their strategy? It’s the equivalent of going on a first date and then asking the person to marry you on the spot–or at least move in together.That's a dealbreaker! -- How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

**Even if advertising isn’t for you, keep reading. This applies to a lot of the pieces of your marketing campaign.**

Here’s what it looks like:

An ad pops into your Facebook feed with a big promise: “I used to work 12 hour days just to book 2 clients per month. Now I make $150k per year working 2 hours per day. Here’s my exact blueprint.”

Of course, on the next page isn’t the exact blueprint. It’s a landing page asking for your email address.

Who is this person? What do they really do? If I downloaded this blueprint, would I even like what I find inside? What proof do they have that this really works? What proof do I have that any of this is true?

As that scrolls through your mind, you scroll through the ad.

If you want to reach people who haven’t heard of you before, asking them for the equivalent of moving in together isn’t going to work (most of the time).

You need to prove yourself and introduce them to your business first.

Here’s an ad I’m currently running…

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This ad is being shown to people who have never been on my website and don’t know me. But they do know and like Danielle LaPorte.

It’s just a podcast interview.

Advertising just this interview has lead directly to new leads and new customers. It’s growing awareness of my brand and warming up a new audience. And…

It’s been super cheap to run.

Now, I could stop there. But why?! Since this ad has been so successful, I want to show people who click on it another ad.

Anyone who’s been on my website (including folks who clicked the above ad), might see this ad pop up in their feed:

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This ad takes people to the full text of my latest mini-book. There’s a larger call to action for an email address, but anyone can read the full text there. And when they do, they get delighted with GIFs!

The interesting thing here is that this “landing page” has a conversion rate of between 40-70% depending on the day. Even on a page that exclusively asks for an email address, I’d still consider those numbers a victory.

This ad is performing incredibly well–and I know I can make it better!

Finally, anyone who clicks on this ad and visits the landing page for the book is moved into a third ad set. They get shown this:

How to Court New Customers Using Facebook Ads

This is an ad for our membership community. I’m not asking for a sale here, just an email address to get a personal invitation to the community.

See how each of these ads takes a new prospect further and further into my world?

Now, like I said, you don’t have to use advertising to take advantage of this approach. Think about it every time you write a blog post.

Some blog posts are for people who know, like, and trust you already. Some are for people who have never heard of your business before.

Same thing with webinars, podcast episodes, videos, etc…

If you’re trying to reach new people, make sure that the content you’re creating and promoting is geared to someone who doesn’t already know, like, and trust you–but has an interest that overlaps with what you do (like my interview with Danielle).

Ready to apply this to your own business?

Start with a piece of content that has already received a bunch of “shares.” (Bunch, of course, is relative.)

Shares are a great indicator that people think the content is valuable to others outside your sphere of influence.

Then you can:

  • Place an ad for that piece of content.
  • Ask your friends to share it with their networks.
  • Put it on a regular schedule in your social media feed.

Give it a try! I think you’ll like the results.

For more on this topic, listen or read my interview with Lori Allen, Director of Great Escape Publishing. She’s a master direct response marketer. I asked her about how her company approaches this task–and about so much more! Click here to read or listen.

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Connecting With & Nurturing Your Best Customers with Lori Allen

Lori Allen, Director of Great Escape Publishing on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara Gentile

photo by Armosa Studios

Tara:  Hey everyone, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  I’m Tara Gentile, your host, and together with CreativeLive, we explore the unique strategies that creative entrepreneurs use to take control of their lives, profit from their passions, and pursue what’s truly important to them.

Today, I’m talking with Lori Allen, the director of Great Escape Publishing, which publishes nearly 30 home study programs, including the Ultimate Travel Writers program for retirees who want to pursue making money from their travels.  She’s worked with over 3000 budding travel writers and photographers to help them meet that goal.  Lori and I talked about her intrapreneurial journey, including helping the direct response marketing company she works for take their snail mail efforts online.  We also discussed the different types of offers Great Escape creates and why they create them, her process for creating compelling ads and copy, and the surprising thing she’s learned helping retirees acquire a new set of skills.  Lori Allen, welcome to Profit. Power. Pursuit.  Thank you so much for joining me.

Lori:  Thank you for having me.

Tara:  Absolutely.  So I love your story, because it’s an intrapreneurial story, not a traditional entrepreneurial story.  Can you tell us how Great Escape Publishing came to be?

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Lori:  Sure.  Yeah, it is a unique, it’s a unique business.  So I took a job out of college from an ad that I answered on Monster.com, and it was for a small publishing company down in south Florida, and they were looking for a marketer, and I had done some marketing in college.  Nothing real world, but you know, just the average college experience, and I knew that that’s what I wanted to be.  I knew that someone, one of my mentors when I was growing up, told me that if I wanted to make the most money, and at the time, money was very important to me.  It’s not as important now when I look back and reflect, but at the time, I thought I’m gonna be a millionaire, right, and that … their advice was if you want to make a lot of money, you need to put yourself in a position where you’re in charge of someone else’s money, you know, where you’re bringing in sales, because if you bring in money, they have to pay you more.  You know, expenses are meant to be kept down, most jobs are expenses, and if you’re in marketing, however, you’re not an expense, you’re a profit-maker, and if you make profit for others, they’ll pay you well. 

And so I knew I wanted to go into marketing, but I didn’t really know how or what, and I saw this ad on Monster.com, and it was for a company in south Florida, and south Florida has great weather all year round and a beautiful beach, and so I was like yeah, count me in, that will be the job for me.  But when I got there, they were a direct marketing, a direct mail company.  So at the time, they were mailing what we lovingly call junk mail, and I was like, ooh, you know, maybe that’s not really what I want to do for in my life is write and create junk mail.  However, I did meet one of the consultants for that company who is an amazing man and still my mentor today, and he’s very charismatic, he’s very well-known in our industry, and in the interview, I just knew that I wanted to work for that guy.  I wanted to ride his coattails for the rest of my life.  Like I just wanted to just, you know, follow him around with a notebook and a pen and a paper and just write down everything he knows, and I … I think we see the world similarly, so I was really just attracted to that. 

So anyway, I did take the job, and one of the first things that I got to do was to bring them online.  So back then, everything was in the mail.  We didn’t have eBooks.  We didn’t even have a website at that time.  You know, we were all using AOL and CompuServe email addresses, and so you know, it was my job to create a website and to figure out how … how we could get our, what was working in the mail to work online, and I think that put me in a really good position, because no one had ever done it before.  There were no classes, there were no books, there were no, you know, workshops or events that you could go to.  There weren’t even that many people to talk to even in our industry about it.  Everybody was starting.  Everybody was testing a million different things, and that just made it, well, it made it fun.  It also made it very hard, because no one knew the right way.  We were just throwing stuff at the wall to see what stuck.  And so after about a couple years, it was kind of like that commercial that you’ve seen on TV, you know, years and years ago where the company puts up an ad on the internet and they’re waiting around their computer for their first order and then they get it and they all high-five, and then the second order comes in and they’re like woohoo, and then the third and then the tenth and then the fiftieth and then the hundredth and then the two-hundredth, and they’re like oh my gosh, and you just see them, like, sink, and just like how are we going to handle 200 orders?  You know, like, this … it just kind of took off, and that’s kind of what happened to us.  You know, we … when we went forward with our first real ad, our first real web ad, I think we got more orders overnight than we had in the whole year to that date.

Tara:  Oh my word.

Lori:  Yeah.  So while exciting, it was also very stressful.  You know, I was in my early 20s, and didn’t know a thing about web marketing, didn’t know a thing about marketing, didn’t know a thing about, you know, running a business or how things were fulfilled or printed or, you know, because back then, all of our products were printed, and so we basically had to restructure the entire company for where this was headed, and we grew very, very fast, and because of that, I gained a lot of knowledge very, very fast.  So after about a year or two, you know, again, I didn’t think that I … I was in my 20s, I wanted to be a 20-year-old.  I didn’t want to be a business owner and a person who restructures organizations and deals with shipping and printing and, you know, all of those things.  I was just kind of forced into that role with the speed at which we grew, and so I wanted out, and they just … they couldn’t really let me go, because you know, I just knew too much, and they didn’t, we just weren’t capable of continuing the speed that we were going if I left.  Like I didn’t have things written down.  I didn’t … it was all in my head.  You know, we had relationships that we built things on, and all of those relationships belonged to me in a way.  So you know, they kept saying, “What do you want?” and I kept saying, “I want to be 20 and not running a business,” and that just, that answer didn’t fly with them, and finally, you know, like, “What do you want?”  And I was like, you know what, I want to do this, but I want to do it for my own thing and in my own way, and they were just so great.  They were … you know, I mean, and honestly, I had three years of proving myself, so it wasn’t like they just gave me the world.  No, I had, you know, I had all this experience, and they knew that I had done it for them, so they were happy to let me start my own division of their company, and so that’s how it kind of started.  I started for them, I got all this great experience, they mentored me, they coached me, they helped me, they gave me all the resources that I need, and then they let me start my own division.  So it’s kind of an entrepreneurship, but with the backing of … with the backing of all my best mentors and bosses and coaches, so it’s really lucky and I owe them a lot and I’m very grateful.

Tara:  Awesome.  So tell us a little bit more specifically about what Great Escape Publishing is.  What do you guys create?  Who do you market to?  What is the business that you now run within this bigger company?

Lori:  Sure.  So now, you know, the original idea was basically any kind of resource you would need to get paid to travel.  So that would be, you know, back then, these things were unheard of.  This idea of becoming a travel writer was unheard of.  No one … everybody had a staff writer.  There were no freelance travel writers, but there was a small niche market of publications who needed articles from freelancers.  They didn’t … they were too small to have a staff person, or they were too widespread.  International Living is a great example.  Back then, 15, 16 years ago, they were publishing articles about retiring and living overseas in Nicaragua, Honduras, Belize, Panama, Costa Rica, but Americans weren’t really going to those places 15 to 16 years ago, but there was a small pocket of retirees who were, and realized that on a very small retirement income, $600-$700 a month, they could live like a king in these places, and so they didn’t want their staff writers to go and live in these places.  You know, they’d have to have a ton of staff writers to do that.  So instead, they wanted to train regular retirees, just everyday people who were not writers how to write for them, and they weren’t the only one.  And there was this whole niche of small publications who needed travel writers, and they didn’t want to hire a staff writer.  They wanted their writers to be all over the world and to come in with stories and that were unique and that weren’t in the pages of National Geographic or Conde Nast or Travel and Leisure. 

So that’s kind of where we started, and with the travel writing program, How to Be a Travel Writer, and the people that found us, you know, in my mind, when I was in my 20s, I thought this is me.  I want to be a travel writer, and there are other 20-year-olds like me who want to be travel writers, and I’m going to find them.  It took me a few years to realize that the audience found me, I didn’t, you know, it isn’t the 20-somethings that … I mean, they do.  They want to be travel writers, but it’s this retiree group, these people who have lived long careers and now they’re looking to do something else in retirement.  Several of them are very well established in their careers.  You know, they were nurses or doctors or realtors or carpenters or architects, and you know, they did that for 30 to 40 years, and then they got into retirement, and they’re like, “This is it?  I’m just supposed to sit on a rocking chair and drink ice tea?”  You know, like that’s just not … not how they saw their life going, and they’re healthy, and they’re ready to see the world, but not on a bus tour.  You know, they don’t really want to be herded like cattle through the Eiffel Tower. They want to experience a place.  So our market, we have all these get paid to travel programs, and retirees are our biggest audience.  Again, that’s not how I saw it when I first started this division.  I thought I was going after people more like myself, but yeah, they found me, and then now, today, I’d say that’s 80-90% of our audience is 50 and older.  They’re either already retired or soon-to-be retired.  They’re healthy, they want to see the world, they want to see the world in a unique way, and that’s what we give them.  So on the surface, we’re a publishing company of all of these products, but underneath, we’re giving people a second life, and that comes with confidence and prestige and power and all the things that they had in their first life now in retirement.

Tara:  Yeah, absolutely.  That’s perfect.  And I want to talk all about … I want to talk more about how you niched down into seniors and how all sorts of different things from what you just said, and I’m having a hard time deciding which question I want to ask next, but I think it would probably be helpful for everyone who’s listening to actually get a rundown on the types of products and in-person experiences that you guys offer, because it’s not all information marketing.  You guys do some really unique things in terms of both online and offline live workshops, actual travel excursions.  Can you tell us a little bit more about that?

Lori:  Yeah, definitely.  So you know, we have the home study course.  There’s two … there’s two kinds of travelers, right?  There’s the armchair traveler.  There are people who like to read about going to all of these places, but maybe they know or maybe they don’t know that they’re actually never going to do it.  Some of them do know.  Some of them know they love to read, but that they’re never going to leave home.  And then others think they will one day, but they don’t.  And I think the same is true in publishing.  There’s, you know, the people who will buy a home study program and want to read things in a book and they want everything printed out, and they have this, you know, what they’re buying is the dream.  Right?  They’re not buying a travel writing course.  No.  They’re buying a dream to become a traveler and to go all over the world and have people roll out the red carpet for them and to see the world in a unique way and to have their stories published in glossy magazines that they can frame on their wall and share at cocktail parties, and you know, when their friend says, “Oh, what are you doing this weekend?”  “Well, I’m off to Paris, you know, and then it’s to Belize.”  So there’s those who want the printed course and who are buying the dream.

And then there’s this whole other side of the business where people want, you know, they just learn more hands on.  So they’re the ones who are going to come to a live event or join us online for a webinar.  Sometimes, we’ll hire experts to take them through their personal process, because you know, it’s just like anything else.  Like when you have a cook, one chef is going to prepare meals this way and another chef will prepare them this way.  And one artist is going to paint this way and another artist is going to paint this way.  Travel writing and photography are exactly the same thing.  No two people do it alike.  So we might hire an expert to walk them through their particular process.  You know, what it looks like to go from never having owned a camera to this is my full-time living, and some people are outdoorsy and some people like to shoot, you know, items that don’t move on a white background, so everybody’s different.  So we’ll have …  so we have things for the people who like to stay at home, and we have things for the people who like to get out.  We also have this small group of our audience who just use us as a travel club.  I don’t think they have any interest in taking better pictures or writing about anything, but they had that interest at one time, and then just liked to travel this way.  And so they’re just like, you know, I don’t feel like planning my vacations this year, I’m just going to go wherever you guys go, and that’s fine, too, you know.  I enjoy traveling with those people.  We don’t really, you know, we teach those things on the ground, but we don’t make, you know, make everybody do it.

Tara:  Right.

Lori:  That’s not, you know, it’s just supposed to be fun and it’s nice, because you go away on a vacation, but you also come home with a skill, and I think that … for the same price that you would pay for a normal vacation.  It kind of runs the gamut in terms of products.  It could go from anything from a live event to a recording of a live event to a home study program for the people who want to stay at home.

Tara:  Cool.  Can you give us sort of just the general breakdown between, you know, like the percentage of revenue that comes from more information products, either the recordings or like the programs that you do at home versus the in-person experiences and travel excursions?

Lori:  Sure.  I mean, I haven’t looked at those numbers like that specifically, but I think that it would be … Well, of course, the events are going to have a high gross, right?

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori:  Because we sometimes charge anywhere from, you know, $699 for a one-day event all the way up to, you know, this one coming up in Africa, some people are paying, you know, close to $7000 to come to Africa and, you know, for 12 days or 8 days, but the expenses on Africa and the expenses on the one-day event are so high, you know, you would typically not net, you know, we would love to net 20% from those events.  I don’t know that we always do, and sometimes, we don’t expect the event to break even at all.

Tara:  Wow.

Lori:  Because what will happen is we’ll bring a whole bunch of people there.  The lower we make the price, the more people we fill in the room, right?

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori:  So you know, we could run a $699 event and get 200 or 300 people if we wanted to, but then we wouldn’t make any money on that at all.  There would be no way that we could do it that cheaply, fill that many people, and feed them, and pay for rooms, and you know, speaking rooms and hire experts to come and talk.  Like we wouldn’t make any money on that, but we would hope that while they were there, they would sign up for Africa, or they would sign up, you know, to join one of our clubs or organizations or buy some products.  So it’s always a tricky thing with events.  Like they can have a high gross, but not a very high net, but maybe you don’t need them to.  Maybe you have backend stuff that you can get, you know, your money’s worth that way.  So it’s hard to say exactly which of our products are the most profitable.  You know, always, always, if you can sell an eproduct that’s like a course or audios or videos or something that you create one time and then you can reproduce it and sell it with different promotions and different ads and different experts, the more you can reproduce what you’ve already created, that’s where the money is, right?  The money is not in events.

Tara:  Yes.

Lori:  That is not a good business model.  But events are what make people like you.  You know, you have face-to-face interaction.  This is how you build an audience.  This is how you keep in touch with them.  This is how you prove that you’re real.  You know, some people … there’s a lot of scammy stuff online, and even, you know, with our marketing, we have to hit people pretty hard.  Like nobody wakes up in the morning, especially a retiree.  No retiree wakes up in the morning and says, “I want to be a travel writer today.  I’m just going to go online and Google how to be a travel writer.”  That doesn’t happen. 

So like what we have to do is we have to assume that they’re on Facebook or they’re looking for something else, and then we have to be like, “Hey you, you right there. Yeah, you, you know, 50 years and older, come to me.  Look at this.  I’ve got this course on travel writing.”  They’re like, “Yeah, right.”  And I’m like, “Oh, yeah, you know, you can just travel around the world and people will pay you to write about the things you see and do,” and they’re like, “Whatever, you must be kidding me.”  And then, you know, you have to like … and then, then they go and they look you up, and they’re like, oh, well, you know, this company, they’ve been to Africa, they’ve been to, you know, right now, they’re in Peru, and they’re in Vietnam, and look at all these other people that look just like me, and they’re out there having fun, and maybe I could do this after all. 

You know, so events give you that, they give you an extra level of credibility and I think that’s super important today, because you know, us marketers have the struggle of, like, you know, how do you be not scammy?  How do you be not in their face, you know, with bold promises, but at the same time, get them to react and act when they don’t, you know, they’re so bored, and they’ve seen so much, and you know, you really … you just have to … like when you’re writing, it’s a fine line between being in their face and actually reaching through the computer and grabbing them by the shirt and being like, “I’m telling you, this works.  You know, you’re going to love your life after this.”  And then you make them do something, and they’re so glad for it, but I do … but you have to be strong, and I know I’m kind of hitting on a bunch of different topics here, but I feel like the events for us give me that power.  They give me the power to say, “Look, you know, I’m serious about this, and this can literally change your life.  Look at all these thousands of people’s lives who we’ve changed.  Look at this.”  And they give me that power, but also, give me this, you know, to back up and say, “And I’m not kidding.  These are real people.  Look, you can find them on Facebook.”  Like look, here are pictures of all of us, like I’m not making this up, and I think events give me that.  It’s also where the majority of our success stories come from, because again, you know, coming back to the how people learn, there are some people who want things to be printed out, and they want, you know, to learn from a book, but so many people learn better on the ground.

You know, I have this little joke, I don’t think I’ve ever told you this, but maybe you’ve heard it before, but do you know the different between education and training?

Tara:  No.

Lori:  Okay, well, then which one would you rather your kids have?  Sex education or sex training?  And you know, like that is kind of the difference between a book and coming to an event, right?  Because a book is education.  When you come to an event, you actually get to try it, and you get feedback, and that’s what training is, and when you get that … that ability to try and then you get feedback, it just propels you to a whole ‘nother level.  But you can read a million books about how to play the guitar, but if you never pick up a guitar, you’re never going to learn how to play.  And you know, everything else is just like that, too.  I think people … some people do go through our home study programs and they go on to be travel writers, and that’s great, but most of them come from our live events.

Tara:  Oh, I love that point so much, because I say I run a training company, not an education company.

Lori:  Exactly.

Tara:  And for that very same reason, is because our … everything that we offer is built around getting hands on with what you’re doing and getting feedback on it, whether it’s feedback in the form of, you know, you go off and do an experiment, and you see what the real feedback is, or whether you get feedback from me or one of our other trainers, you know, that’s super important to me.  So I love that point.  I also really love the point that, you know, that the experiences that you offer, the live events that you offer are as much about credibility as they are about either marketing or even just making revenue to begin with.  Because I’m a huge fan of building products for marketing purposes, and getting people to pay for marketing, but I’ve never really thought about it as credibility building before, and I think absolutely, that’s huge.

Lori:  Yeah.

Tara:  That’s huge.

Lori:  No, it’s so big.  And then, you know, once people meet you face-to-face, then, you know, especially if you’re likeable, it might not work so much if you’re not so likeable, but you know, I think then you can talk to them differently.

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  It helps me, too, to write back.  You know, the courses and the home study programs are the bread and butter, right?  That’s where the biggest net comes from, that’s where, I mean, if we could just sell those all day, our job would be easy, but the events are fun, the events are where we actually get to meet people.  They change the way that we market future things.  You know, like, while we’re meeting people, we see that several of them all have the same problem.  They all are struggling with this one thing.   Well, then that gives us the next idea to build the next product or run the next event.  Or several of them are all interested in this, you know, one thing that I didn’t even know they were interested.  So you know, events give you that ability to just get to know your audience better.  You just have to be careful, because the audience that is at the event is not necessarily the same audience that you’re writing to at home.  You know, they’ve paid a lot more money, and they’ve taken a lot more action to get there.  So they are a tiny bit different than the people who haven’t taken action, and who haven’t paid money, and haven’t paid that kind of money at home.  So you do have to be a tiny bit careful.

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  But typically, they do give you a good eye into your audience.

Tara:  Yeah.  I want to ask you more about that in just a second, but I also want to make … I want to emphasize one other point that you made earlier, which is that in your market, as in so many markets for the people that are listening, people aren’t getting up one day and Googling how to be a travel writer, and you have to find kind of sideways paths into their attention to help them even see that this is a possibility and an opportunity.

Lori:  Exactly.

Tara:  And so for all of the, you know, all of the artists, the coaches, the wellness providers that are out there that are doing something innovative and different, you can’t rely on people coming to you for that thing.  You need to, you know, find the other things that they’re interested.

Lori:  Yes.

Tara:  That give you an in to talk about what you do.

Lori:  Definitely.  Definitely.  And I do see this, you know, again to piggyback on that, I do see in marketing copy a lot, some people will play the other side.  They’ll play the negative side.  You know, “I can see why you wouldn’t want a coach.”  You know, they’ll write that in their copy, but you might not want them because of this, this, this, and you know, when you do that, when you have to reach through someone’s computer and grab them and say, “Listen to me.”  You know, like, “I’m the best thing for you,” you don’t have to play that negative side.  They’re playing that for you already.

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  You don’t have to worry about that.  Like, but I do see that a lot in coaching and, you know, other things, too.  I do think that you have to keep in mind, you have to keep positive, and you have to keep in mind how much they’re really pulling back, and how much more you have to push if you want … because the truth is, like, nobody listening to this podcast is creating things that people don’t want, really?

Tara:  Right.

Lori:  You know, like, and if they did, like, eventually, they would find their way to what people do want.  Like, we all want to help people.  We all, if … if I showed up at one of my workshops and everybody told me that one of my programs was bad, I wouldn’t keep publishing it.  Like, you know, we all want to do the best thing, and we all want to help people, so you really have to believe in that.  Like you have to… and if it’s not, and you don’t believe in it, well, then you gotta stop.  You just shouldn’t be pushing that thing.  So anyway, I guess point is just, you know, keeping on the positive and really pulling hard.  You gotta hit ’em harder than you think you would.  These people are bored on the other side of your ads, and you gotta not only get them to wake up, you gotta get them to wake up, you gotta get them to listen to, and then you gotta get them to reach in their pocket and get out their wallet, and that takes … that’s a hard sell, you know?

Tara:  Absolutely.  So all right.  I’m gonna … I’m throwing out where I thought I was going with this.

Lori:  Okay.

Tara:  Because I want you to talk more about that, because I think this is going to be extremely helpful to people.  We know people, like you said, are bored on the other side of our ads or our social media updates, or whether, you know, no matter what it is.  I’d love that you said that to me the last time we talked, that you have to keep in mind that the reason people are scrolling through Facebook is not because they’re super engaged, it’s because they’re bored out of their minds.

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Lori:  It’s they’re bored, mmhmm.

Tara:  So can you walk us through your thought process for creating an ad or a campaign to, you know, to get the attention of someone who is bored and disengaged, but potentially interested in what you have to offer?

Lori:  Right.  Okay.  So first things first, people are not bored on Facebook because they have nothing to do.  They are bored because they have too much to do, in most cases, so they are … they have so much to do, and they have so much going on in their personal life that they have to tune out all of that stuff.  They don’t want to be bothered by any of it.  They don’t know where to start.  So they go on Facebook.  So this is the person that you’re talking to, right?  Like he’s too much to do, a list a mile long, doesn’t know where to start, has, you know, they want to diet, they want to exercise, they want goal setting, they want someone to show them how to minimize their list, and they’re not doing any of those things, and instead, they’re on Facebook.  You know, first and foremost, whenever you are writing ads, you have to test.  Like I can tell you what works for us, and then you’ll go and try it and make it work for you, and it’s not gonna. 

You know, like we have … I have this wonderful marketer working for me now.  Her name is Lisa, and she comes to me with these questions:  Which one of these things do you like better?  And you know, we have this thing in my office, like, I have opinions, I have lots of them, if you ask me, I’m going to tell you my opinion, but if you don’t want it, don’t ask, because every time I … every time you ask, I’m going to give you something, and it might not be what you want to hear.  So she comes to me with all these ads: Which ones of these do you like best?  And I told her which one I liked, and there was one in particular that I strongly disliked, and I was like not that one, you know, these are the ones.  So what did she do? She went back and tested the ones I liked and the one I strongly disliked.  I love her.  You know, in her mind, she said later, like, I … I put this one in here because you had such a strong reaction to it.  I just thought, “What would happen?”  She’s like, “I knew you would be mad, but that ad won.”  And that was the one I didn’t want up there.  So you know, that just goes to show, like, you know, and I’ve been doing this for a long time.  This is my 16th year testing ads.  Like not on Facebook, of course, but you know, around and about for different products and different ways and different affiliates and stuff, and so I have a pretty good sense, usually, for what will work and what won’t, and you know, I’m wrong.  I’m wrong sometimes.  I’m wrong all the time, in fact.  So you just have to, you know, first and foremost, what works is what you test, and your audience says works.  That’s what works. 

But the big thing for me, and this is something that I’ve known all my career, but just was rebrought up.  In fact, I think it’s been brought up three or four times, and it didn’t resonate with me the way it’s resonated with me in these last two years is this idea of direct and indirect.  That if the audience does not know you, if they don’t know you and they don’t know your product, you have to be pretty indirect with your ads, and by that, I mean, you can tell a story.  You can quote facts and figures.  You can send them to an article first, instead of your promotion, but whatever it is, like you can’t, you know, you can’t run an ad that says 50% off of a travel-writing program.  They don’t know what travel writing is.  They don’t know who Great Escape Publishing is.  They don’t know me, they don’t know, you know, they’re not going to pay 50% off.  They’re not going to pay $10.  They don’t know … they don’t know any of those things.  So I think that’s the biggest mistake that I see a lot of people making.  I see people who have businesses like potentially life coaches or you know … you know, if you’re going to have a party planning business or a, you know, catering business, or anything like that, if people don’t know you and they don’t know your product, you know, 50% off deals or price deals, anything like that isn’t going to work, you need to be much more indirect.  And on the other side, if your audience does know you, then you need to be very direct.  If I ran an ad for 50% off a travel writing program to everybody on our newsletter file who’s been following me weekly or daily for years, they’re going to jump on that like white on rice, right?

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori:  Because I can be super direct, super short, super to the point.  I don’t need to tell them how great travel writing is, I don’t need to tell them how many places they can go in a single year, I don’t need to tell them stories about all of our members who have had success with this.  They already know that stuff.  They just want a cheap, good deal, and you can be very up front about that.  So indirect, you can use stories, you can use articles, you can use, what was the other thing I said?  Oh, facts and figures.  And if you were going to make a direct offer, you can put a big bold promise up at the top, you could put money, an offer, you know 50% off or whatever, or you could put a problem/solution is kind of like where you put the problem and then a solution.  You just have to be careful with that, because again, that kind of borderlines indirect, where they might know the problem, but they might not … they might not trust you to be the solution to that problem.  So anyway, yeah, first, if I was going to talk about, or I was going to guide someone into a Facebook ad, you know, the very first thing, first and foremost, you gotta test.  You gotta test a bunch of things.  Bright, bold colors.  Videos work, you know, little snippets of video works.  Just taking text and turning it into a video works.  You know, beautiful pictures work.  You know, we test a few things.  I can’t tell you that they did gangbusters, but calling people out based on what the emotions that we think that they have on Facebook.  You know, “Are you bored at work?  Wouldn’t you rather be in Paris or on this beach?”  You know, because we know that’s what they’re already thinking.  We tried that, and it did pretty well.  You know, those kinds of things work, but will they work for you?  You don’t know.  You don’t know until you test.  So you gotta test, you gotta test a ton of things.  Throw a bunch of stuff at the wall, see what sticks, but do keep in mind this direct and indirect thing.  You know, you can’t go out with a big, bold promise if nobody knows you and nobody knows your product, but you’re also leaving money on the table if you’re going after an audience who does know you, and then you’re hitting them very indirectly, you know, with a story lead or facts and figures and stuff that they already know, or stuff that, you know, they’re just too bored to read.  You could just hit them over the head with a money offer, and you know, they’d be in your hands.

Tara:  Yeah, that’s where I’ve realized that I’ve been going very, very wrong in recent years.

Lori:  Everybody, right?

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  I do it, too.  I look back, you know, like even just from six months ago, and I’ve been talking about direct and indirect for awhile now, and this is not a … this is not my secret.  You know, this is something that direct mail people have known for years and years, and it’s been in our industry for a really, really long time.  And like I said, it’s been brought up several times, but you hear different things every year, right?

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori:  And even, like I said, six months ago, I’m looking back at something that we ran, I’m like, oh, well, no wonder that didn’t work.  Look at this.  You know, like this could have been … this was for our VIP program that we have, we sent it only to our best buyers, and we didn’t come right out and tell them what we wanted them to do.  Like instead, we led them down this long story about how nice it would be to be traveling with them in all these great places.  We should have just come out and said, “Look, this week, you get $1000 off.  Done.”  And it would have worked.  You know, that’s what worked in the past.  So, you know, this direct/indirect thing is something that you have to practice.  It’s something you have to keep in mind all the time with everything that you do.  It’s not something that … that you’re just going to get, and then it’ll be with you forever.  No, it takes practice.

Tara:  Absolutely.  Yes.  I practice it every single day.  How many concepts do you guys come up with when you’re preparing a new ad or a new sales page?  Is there sort of like an average number that you shoot for?

Lori:  Hmm.  No.  I mean, different things, I think Facebook probably only lets you test three at a time, right?  I think.  It’s been awhile, because we have one that’s up there now that’s doing so well, we can’t really test anything else, because they won’t let you test two things to the same audience.  So we would either have to take down the one that’s working really well in order to test something else, and we’re not doing that.

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  So we’re just letting it ride.  So you know, it’s been awhile since I’ve had my hands in the Facebook stuff, and you know, Google’s just changing the way that they are doing their AdWords now, so we’re … our Google stuff is not doing … wasn’t doing well, and now, we just have to rethink all that given their … the changes that they’re making.  So yeah, it just depends.  When we have … when we run ads to affiliates, like if we were to buy space in budget travel or something like that, you know, you would buy one and it would run in a month, and then, you know, you need to wait for those results before you bought another one.  We’re testing now, and you can test two things, like one against something else, but the audience isn’t big enough.  So that’s the other thing I think that marketers don’t realize is that testing requires lots of orders, right?  Like if one ad brings in 16 orders and one ad brings in 14 orders, the 16 order ad did not win.  Two people do not make that a statistically valid sample.  That just means that, you know, test B went into the trash can more than test A.  You know?

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori:  Like it doesn’t mean anything.  Two people’s not a big enough sample size.  So a lot of times, and especially in these smaller niche markets where you’re looking at small magazines and online websites, you just don’t have an audience big enough to test more than two things, one thing against another.  So that makes it hard.  That makes it hard.  So we don’t usually have, like we have different, when I say we have a lot of irons in the fire, I’m talking about we have some things over on Facebook, some things working to our affiliate ads, some things working up over on Google, maybe we have some things in the mail, maybe we’ve, you know, split our list and we are offering a VIP membership to our multi-buyers, those are people who buy more than one program, while we’re advertising our main course, our travel-writing course or our photography course, to the people who have been on our file for awhile but have never actually bought anything from us.  So you know, we may have like all of those things going on at once, all while one or two members of my staff are on location, you know, in Vietnam with a photography group, or in Palm Springs with 100 photographers, and then they’re trying to sell, you know, whatever backend things we have going on there.  So we have lots of things going on, but probably, individually, at each one, we’re only trying one thing.  Does that make sense?

Tara:  Yeah, yeah.   No, that makes complete sense.  Yeah, thank you.

So you’ve mentioned your team a couple of times, and that’s one of the things that I always like to ask about.  So can you give us sort of just a rundown on who makes up Great Escape Publishing at this point?

Lori:  Sure.  So we have nine.  I think there’s nine of us.  We have Cayson, who lives in South Florida.  She is actually in the office of my parent company, and we do that so they that they can keep a finger on our pulse and we can keep a finger on their pulse and we share information.  So she’s in south Florida and she answers our phones and our tickets or all of the emails that come in.  She monitors our Facebook pages, she helps our attendees get registered for events, and you know, if they have questions about what to pack or can they extend their stay, and she’ll work directly with our experts to get them that information.  And then I am here in Virginia right outside of DC and in Alexandria, and I work from home, and there are three other girls, CC, Alyssa, and Christina, who live in DC, and they commute here to my house twice a week.  So we work together twice a week, which is where we get all of our creative stuff done, and our brainstorming, and we work through problems, and you know, do all of that.  We also, because we work from home the rest of the time, we also chitchat a lot.  We get the majority of our work done when we’re working from home.  We get the majority of our chitchatting and talking done when we’re all working together.  Jackie used to work here.  She moved to Richmond, so she’s not too far away, and she takes the train in every once in awhile to join us, but she works from home in Richmond.  Marade is in Ireland, so everything that we do with her is telecommuting, and she does our marketing.  So all the promotions that we mail, she’s working with our writers to get them up and make any changes that need to be made, and she also schedules some ads with some of our bigger affiliates, and then Lisa is in Hagerstown, Maryland, and she does all of our Facebook and Google marketing, and Bonnie’s in Portland, Oregon, and she does a lot of our photography stuff.  So Bonnie is also a professional photographer, she edits some of our programs, she creates some of our programs, she runs this one of our business, the Breakfast.Club, and so yeah, she just, any kind of time that we want to advertise a photography program or create a new one, Bonnie is the one that we go to for all of that.

Tara:  Awesome.  Thank you for that.  So as we start to wrap up here, there’s one thing that we haven’t talked about that I really wanted to make sure that we got to, which is, you know, you mentioned that you are primarily marketing to seniors, retirees who are either interested in making a second career or at least pursuing this interest in travel writing and travel photography at a substantial level, and you and I have talked before about just how interesting it is to see these people grow and change from whatever their career was before, whatever their role in life was before, into this new role and this new identity.  Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve learned watching that transformation happen?

Lori:  Hmm.  Well, I’ve learned that incredibly confident people become incredibly not confident when they switch, when they come out of what … You know, I think … and this is true for everybody, right?  Like nobody likes to be a beginner.  It’ll be interesting to see what happens to our generation when we become retirees, because we have our hands in so many different things, and we’re trying so many different things, but their generation, you know, picked a career and then stuck with it for a really long time, and so I think they just have a hard time putting themselves out there.  They have a hard time letting them be beginners, letting themselves be beginners.  They don’t want to be bad at anything, which I guess is true across all generations, but I see that as something that they’re struggle with.  You know, I tell them often that I read somewhere that it takes 7 hours to make a Toyota and 7 days to make a Rolls Royce.  And you know, I think they want to jump ahead to the Rolls Royce.  They see our experts.  They see these amazing photographs. They see these travel writers who are going all over the place, and they just want to jump ahead to that, but they need to let themselves be a Toyota first.  You know, like, they need to … it’s not … if you get … you know, it’s the journey, right?  I mean, this is what everybody is all about. 

I saw this interview with a tightrope walker once, you know, these are … or it’s called like tightlining, I think, and you start by tying a rope by two trees and you walk across it like a tightrope, but then once you get really good at this, people are tying ropes across huge rock formations, like pieces of the Grand Canyon, and they’re walking across a tight rope, across, you know, the Grand Canyon.  And she said one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as a tightliner is focusing on the end, because the whole point of tightlining is the journey from the start to the end.  Once you’ve gotten to the end, it’s over.  And I love that, because it’s the same thing with everything.  It’s the same thing with marketing, it’s the same thing with travel writing, it’s the same things with photography.  Once you get to the end, it’s over.  You know, enjoy this time where you’re just figuring things out and you’re learning, because you can never go back to this.  Like this is your beginning.  And what better, I mean, we’re very lucky.  In travel writing and photography, that journey is pretty fun.  We’re not like learning how to clean teeth.

Tara:  Right.

Lori:  Or, you know, brush toilets.  Like we’re traveling and we’re taking pictures and yeah, so I’d say that’s part of their big struggle is just letting themselves be a beginner and letting themselves go down a different journey and also, pushing aside those people in their life who don’t want them to make any changes or don’t want them to try anything new.  So you have a little bit of that.

Tara:  Yeah, I love that, and I see that with my clients as well, is that they’re just, they want to skip ahead to the end, and of course, even with entrepreneurship, there is … there is no end.  You can’t …

Lori:  There is no end.

Tara:  You can’t skip ahead.  The whole … the journey is the thing.

Lori:  Yup.

Tara:  And if you expect to be perfect at it from the beginning, if you expect to just get it, you’re going to be very, very, very disappointed.

Lori:  Exactly.

Tara:  Yeah, okay, last question, and this is one that I ask the vast majority of our guests.  You are both an executive and a marketer and an intrapreneur, really, an entrepreneur, and you have this amazing creative side to you as well where you love writing and you love taking photographs and you love exploration.  How do you balance the roles of creative and executive in your business?

Lori:  Yeah, that’s hard, right?  Well, it’s lucky for me, because my products are creative.

Tara:  Mmhmm.

Lori Allen, Director of Great Escape Publishing, on Profit. Power. Pursuit. with Tara GentileLori:  So anytime that I’m at a workshop, or you know, whatever, I … it doesn’t look unusual for me to whip out a camera.  That’s what everyone else is doing, so you know, I get that there.  I also have very young kids, so you know, I get to play in the mud and paint and you know, do all that kind of stuff with them.  It is hard, but I do think if you love what you do, like you kind of put your own spin on it anyway.  I’d say I probably have it easier than most, just because my products are creative, but yeah, I think it’s always … it’s always hard.  Like, right?  You know, that’s another big lesson, too, is just that what people think is your job and what is really your job are often two different things. 

You know, I think people look at me and they see me riding elephants and photographing lantern festivals and riding in Jeeps in Africa and they think that’s my job.  Well, that’s not really my job.  My job is first and foremost a marketer.  Like, I am writing ads all day long.  Like I … my hands are going to fall off, I write so much.  And I read so much and I edit so much and I’m constantly trying to improve and see what other people are doing, and you know, I read a ton of books, and … but also, my job is raises and reviews for employees, and it’s, you know, figuring out insurance and tax questions and, you know, can we take Australian dollars on this ad from this affiliate.  You know, like it’s a lot of technical things that I don’t like, and it is a balance to do more of what I like and not what I don’t like, but I think I’ve just gotten better at hiring people to deal with the things that I don’t like.

Tara:  Yeah.

Lori:  And that’s a lesson you learn … you learn, too.  But you do have to understand in this business, like, whether you’re an artist, whether you’re a photographer, whether you’re a coach, you know, you think that’s your job.  You think your job is to coach people.  You think your job is to take pictures.  You think your job is to paint.  But it’s really not.  It’s to sell your painting.  It’s to sell your photographs.  It’s to sell your coaching.  So you need to just buck up and put on your marketing hat and learn how to do that, because that … that’s the difference between those who make it and those who don’t is the marketing.

Tara:  Amen.  I totally agree.  Lori Allen, thank you so much for joining me today.

Lori:  You’re welcome.  Thank you so much for having me.

Tara:  You can learn more about Lori and everything Great Escape Publishing has to offer budding travel writers and photographers by going to GreatEscapePublishing.com.

Next week, I’ll sit down with Jennifer Lee, founder and author of The Right Brain Business Plan, to talk about her current plan and how it’s helping her to evolve her business, why she decided to retire her successful Right Brainers in Business Video Summit, and how she manages her time as a creative business owner.

Are you surrounded by the right people to help your business succeed?  Your support network has a huge impact on your success, your satisfaction, and your ability to achieve your goals.  At the Quiet Power Strategy Lab, we get you and your business, we respect your individuality, and we challenge you.  The Lab is our entrepreneurial resource library and support community.  It’s full of smart, experienced, and savvy business owners who want to help you succeed.  Start your free 10-day, all access trial by going to Lab.QuietPowerStrategy.com/People.

That’s it for this week’s episode of Profit. Power. Pursuit.  You can download other episodes of this podcast and subscribe in the iTunes store.  If you enjoy what you heard, we appreciate your reviews and recommendations, because they help us reach as many emerging entrepreneurs as possible.  Our theme song was written by Daniel Peterson, who also edited this episode.  Our audio engineer was Jaime Blake.  This episode was produced by Elizabeth Madariaga.  You can catch up on older episodes in the iTunes store, where new episodes are added every week, and you can learn more by going to CreativeLive.com.

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Tara Gentile helps idea people create the income, influence, and impact they crave. She's the creator of Quiet Power Strategy® which offers hands-on business training and support to idea-driven entrepreneurs. She speaks around the world on marketing, entrepreneurship, and money.

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