Table of Contents
I’m going to try to review the entire year and process everything that happened both good and bad. Over the past year, I’ve transitioned from a freelancer, to an agency, and then into a course creator which was incredibly challenging for many different reasons. I increased my rates over 3-4 times over the course of three months, but I hope this blog post serves as a reminder that I’m still learning and although I’ve seen many wins I’ve also had my share of lessons of what not to do.
In January 2020, I was fully invested in Pete McPherson’s Online Impact Community and began to pivot my already thriving one person freelancing company into a bigger online brand. I met Pete Mcpherson back in 2019 when I used to have an entirely different business in the FinCon community. I first learned how to develop and design my website and pretty much understand a lot about blogging thanks to his course: Elementor for Bloggers. I still refer back to that course to understand little tweaks that I need to understand about the tech side of Elementor and designing my web pages. I’m still really close friends with people I’ve met in that group.
At the end of January/ beginning of February, launched my new podcast “The Online Course Consultant Show” and shared about 7 Course Creation Tips You Need to Know . This remains to be one of my top downloaded episodes. A majority of income was still coming from Upwork, I also launched an entirely new website and created entirely new social media handles.
My income was primarily coming from freelancing services:
- Freelancing Blog Post Writing
- Freelance Course Creation Services
Moving and renovating
In January, my husband and I finally put our home on the market. We had lived in metro Detroit area in Michigan for over 6 years and were about 2 miles away from my husband’s parents. During our time in Michigan, my husband and I held a total of three jobs each! You can obviously see we change things up frequently! This was our first home that we lived in together after we got married. Below is a picture of the kitchen and dining area. I was a bummed we couldn’t stay there and “enjoy” the renovations we did to the house which included adding granite countertops to the kitchen, new kitchen sink, and an entirely brand new kitchen cabinet set.
Our house was on the market for 5 days and we had three offers and it was under contract by the end of the week which closed about a month later! We had been commuting for months in 2019 renovating the house and driving to my husband’s job in northern Michigan in the middle of winter. Needless to say, I was happy when it sold!
In February, I had a serious dip in revenue which made me really nervous about how I was going to handle making more income in a way that was sustainable financially for my family. I instinctively thought that each month I would be making more money from the previous month as a freelancer. But some of my freelancing gigs were much less frequent and though I was paid retroactively for some projects completed in January, there were less active projects this month. At the end of February, I only had $200 in my business bank account.
I still managed to stay consistent though with SEO and creating fresh content, because I knew creating more revenue was going to really be a long game instead of only focusing on shortcomings. I published my second podcast episode and blog post: What is a Salesfunnel and How to Make One.
I also published a blog post and podcast episode with Michelle Jackson called How to Create and ebook and sell it.
I also realized that at the time my friend Pete Mcpherson lived closer to my new home. So we had a nice chat in a coffeehouse and I showed him my coworking spot and I interviewed him my my third episode of my podcast: Website Design Tips for Course Creators.
Pete also created a fun Youtube video which I was featured in. I still actively get people messaging me or emailing me that they found me from this video. You should check out his channel. I actually landed a client later in 2020 thanks to this video which resulted in about a 5 figure deal.
Blog Posts Created:
In March, I went to Social Media Marketing World and met some amazing friends. I still follow and am friends with many of the lovely people there. I volunteered as a speaker concierge helping organize and ensure that all of the speakers on stage and emcees had their mics and their slide decks available to the AV tech crew. It was so much fun.
I was featured on a Youtube Video with Mike Damazo where I talked about courses. Funny story, I never actually launched the course I was promoting that time of the year! This was my second solo business trip without my husband. I normally prefer to travel with him. I ended up staying in a really fun hostel downtown San Diego. I really enjoyed the ambience. Sadly, this was my last really big social networking event for the year (at least in person). I was also bummed because I was supposed to attend an in-person graduation for completing my Master’s degree in Instructional Design but it was later cancelled due to Covid.
Inspired by the great content I received from Social Media Marketing World, I went on to publish three blog post and podcast episodes in March.
Blog Posts created:
By April, I was getting really burned out from all of the freelancing, staying up late and working solo at home during quarantine. I was starting to miss my family a lot since I normally visited them during this time, but due to COVID restrictions we weren’t able to visit. I invested heavily into coaching to create my “first digital product” or mini-course. My first digital product was actually a more in-depth course called The Course Designer’s Toolkit, which is actually retired!
During this month, I was working closely with a referral I received from Social Media Marketing World. I worked with several clients for smaller projects on upwork.
Resources Invested In:
I spent the better half of 2019 trying to research an affordable and high converting cart checkout software. I had tried many in the past, but I decided to invest in Thrivecart. I went on to create multiple digital products and consulting services and made over 5 figures using the platform. I really appreciated the fact that the product was a one time purchase. Since then, I haven’t really seen other cart checkout platforms that are one time payments. Most, if not all, are a monthly recurring payment. I also appreciated the fact that there is some really robust features for affiliate marketing. I have so much more to say on the subject, but I’ll just let you read on… 😊
During this month, I started to transition and look into hiring more team members specifically surrounding Instructional Design. I hired my first non-assistant hire in May. I really was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to scale my operations specifically because I had never hired anyone before. My first hire was amazing! He was a referral from my grad school director.
Resources invested in:
I hadn’t hired anyone else besides a virtual assistant previously, so I decided to invest in Theresa Baretta’s Optimized Outsourcing Manual. It was really helpful because there were job description templates for the main hires I was looking to hire. I went on to hire two paid interns, a new virtual assistant, a project manager, as well as three video editors, and a voiceover artist thanks to this template!
I loved Theresa’s templates so much, that I wanted to learn how to optimize my standard operating procedures that I decided to invest in her monthly membership – SOP Success Lab. I was able to really understand the process in which I was able to onboard my clients, outsource more admin tasks to my team, and become more of a CEO in my mindset. Overall I felt more confident delegating my tasks as well as really charging higher prices. In May, I decided to shift to an agency model. At the time, I was charging less than $2k for my done for you services. I increased my prices to $2k for done for you services as a direct result of the mindset shifts I received from Theresa’s help.
I wanted to really give my website a make-over and so I decided to invest in some templates by Amanda Genther. The framework inside of her templates Salespage in a Day helped me understand the key things needed to create compelling copywriting as well as use templates to sell my services and digital products. As a direct result of using these templates, I’ve landed high ticket clients ranging from $2k-$32k.
I also hired out help to create more customized salespages thanks to Bethany who I previously met at Fincon back in 2019. Bethany and I went on to work on several additional projects and we actually live fairly “close” to each other in Arizona! The work she did was really professional and quick.
I started to take more and more courses from Elizabeth Goddard about email marketing. I took Lizzy’s course (at the time included in her membership Convertkit Club which is now retired) called Email Rockstars. It reinforced the fact that I needed to automate and send out more emails to my email list. I also really loved more fundamental training inside of her course ConvertkitHer course really went into depth both from a technical standpoint as well as an instructional and strategy standpoint about building confidence nurturing and selling to your email list. At the time of this post, I’m now inside of Elizabeth Goddard’s group program, The Profitable Playground.
Digital Products Created:
I created the Profitable Presentation Canva Pack as a direct result of creating many different digital presentations for my clients. I wanted an affordable option for people that were already creating presentations but didn’t want to hire a designer.
I launched a mini-course on course creation called the 5 Day Course Creation Challenge. I started to automate my digital products and started seeing more evergreen sales thanks to Lizzy’s course!
I spoke at my alma mater CSU Fullerton about creating a winning portfolio for starting freelancing as an Instructional Designer. I had a presentation developed about the key things to consider when developing a freelancing agency and getting started owning your business. It was a lot of fun!
In June, I was scaling so quickly I decided to raise my prices dramatically and joined Theresa’s Consultant to CEO Accelerator Program.
I landed a $7k client the very next month that I started working with Theresa. I began to invest heavily in optimizing and creating professional videos. I started to use a program called Vyond which I had previously used in corporate training and development for professional animated videos.
This month was heavily spent creating systems, organizing my workflows, as well as understanding how to operate as an agency and really support my clients. It was also wrought with so much pain and turmoil in the United States. The Black Lives Matter movement and the murder of George Floyd really moved me to create a safe and supportive space for my audience members who were grieving and trying to understand how to cope with racial injustice. The conversation still is happening in the United States, but I think this was a really big wake-up call for everyone to have these very important conversations to create change.
During that month, I decided to give away 100 copies of The Profitable Presentation Canva Pack to Women of Color Podcasters. I also spoke at the Creatress Summit about creating online courses.
Blog Posts Created:
During this month I was still working very closely with my clients as an online elearning agency. I created monthly power hour consultations which helped other new course creators to work with me without having to invest in my agency. I also saw some incredible results from working with my clients back from earlier in the year. My good friend Adam Kol started seeing some amazing growth from his group coaching program. I’m always really proud of my students when they see growth, make sales, and take their offers to scale their business!
I also spoke in July at Podthon Summit about creating Pitchdecks to help grow your sponsorships as a podcaster.
My husband actually received a new offer to move from northern Michigan to southern Arizona. And for the fourth time of the year, we started the process of moving – this time across the country. It was really challenging moving my business to an entirely new state. At the same time, I was grateful for the level of support that Theresa and her team provided because I was such a nervous wreck!
Resources Invested In:
I invested in a digital course bundle from Bundle.co. There were so many course creators that were involved with the bundle. One of the many courses that were included was Elizabeth Goddard’s Profitable Live Training Course. During that month I learned a lot about her methodology around creating and launching a course quickly. I found her sense of humor refreshing, her tutorials very instructional, as well as her Facebook group and community very supportive. I also really loved that she had a onesie on her website homepage (just saying).
I also invested in the Affiliate Program Toolkit a month or two previously and started learning so much about affiliate marketing for courses. I had never previously been interested in affiliate marketing. I had tried affiliate marketing for Amazon links, but never actually saw any progress. In fact I never made one sale. I really loved Zoe Linda’s fun and playful approach to internet marketing. I also appreciated that she was a Potterhead and Ravenclaw.
In August, many of my projects were still in full swing. I was now completed moved in southern Arizona and it was incredibly hot! One day it was over 100 degrees Fahrenheight. I decided that after working as an agency, I wanted to start creating more digital courses. After applying the concepts from Lizzy’s Paid Live Trainings course, I created my workshop Systematic Funnels and launched it in about 10 days. You can check out the alumni blog post here.
I was so excited to be involved in the program because it had previously taken me months to create digital products. Her course and methodology really helped me to create content quickly without overthinking it.
This month was the highest amount of income I ever received roughly to the tune of $20k. I was so incredibly grateful for the lessons learned and the people I had worked with. During this month I had so much more clarity about the type of business I wanted to run, the lifestyle I wanted to lead, and I realized things weren’t exactly in alignment. I wanted to help clients and customers that might not be able to invest in the high ticket programs and services and so because of this mental shift I decided to invest in Lizzy’s Profitable Playground group coaching program to create a more digital product based business.
That month I also decided to create a free training called: How to Make a Magical Offer That Sells Like Hotcakes. During the training, I also showcased my bundle product which included several other digital products I had created previously called the Course Creator CEO Bundle.
Digital Products Created:
In September, I started to shift my business model to creating more passive income products and reducing my 1:1 client work. I started to kick up more content creation and began to plan out different ideas for more growth using the digital product and course route. I became incredibly excited as I dug into the curriculum for Elizabeth’s program and started meeting more amazing friends in the group. I had a few people ask about how I started freelancing and booking high ticket clients. I knew that I wanted to create an on-demand offer that would help people learn more about the tools and processes I had in place to make more money through selling high ticket services. So, I created a masterclass and workshop and sold the Sweet Service Success workshop. Since then, I’ve been able to coach and share some tips on helping people start growing their income through services as well as selling courses.
Blog Posts Created:
Digital Product Created:
In October, I started actively saying no to new 1:1 client work because I wanted to focus my efforts to creating more digital products. This was probably the hardest decision to make. Knowing that someone would be willing to pay me $20k or more for my services and saying no helped me to focus on creating a lifestyle that aligned with my ideal work day instead of chasing down high ticket services. I was able I began to wind down on my 1:1 projects and begin the process of supporting them as the projects wrapped up.
On a personal note I was a bit sad that the pandemic was still going on because I actually love dressing up for Halloween. I was a bit bummed so my husband ended up baking some halloween treats with me and we individually bagged prepackaged candy into ziploc bags and placed them outside on a table for any neighborhood kids to grab in a safe environment. I still wish I had worn something fun for Halloween. Oh well.
Resources invested in: Lizzy’s Rock your Day of Voxer course was delivered as part of the Group Coaching program. What I found really interesting about this service was that I didn’t have to feel stuck to having zoom calls. Instead I played around with my own version of having Voxer available for both students who previously purchased my bundle the previous month. I still prefer Voxer over Zoom calls for coaching my team members as well as my clients. I find it’s so much easier to run errands while also being productive. I also love that Voxer gives you a personalized connection with your customers rather than feeling restriced to one Zoom call. You can check out one of her trainings on the subject of Voxer sessions in her training: Magical Low Effort High Value 1:1 Offer.
*New Service Created*
Inspired by Lizzy Goddard’s Voxer 1:1 services, I created my version called “Course Launch Framework” where I help new course creators map out and discuss their ideas about launching their courses or digital products.
I also ran a quick sale on several products I had created for Halloween! It was such a fun holiday sale that I knew I wanted to run another one in December and the New Year.
Blog Posts Created:
It was November and things actually started cooling down in Arizona! I was shocked that the summer months of over 100 degres Fahrenheight were cooling down to 40-50 degree weather. I realized then that I was already accustomed to the climate and my thick skin from enduring cold sub zero tempature in Michigan was over. I had officially become an Arizonian. I was still feeling blue that I couldn’t see my family. My family is a large Mexican-Filipino family. Think “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” (movie) but a filipino and mexican version. Normally our family hosts a giant Thanksgiving with so many of my favorite dishes ranging from lumpia (Filipino “egg” rolls) and pancit (Filipino spaghetti) as well as empanadas (Mexican pastries filled with meat and vegetables.) Although I didn’t get to have a big family Thanksgiving meal, I did see my immediate family in an outdoor seating area and we had a nice meal together.
I started to see the momentum from all of the things that I had created from before and realized that I wanted to continue making more digital products.
Resources I invested in:
The Email Closer – I found that I had so many emails to write out to start bringing attention to my salespages and offerings. I wanted something quick and painless to help me craft the words to share about my products without feeling super salesy. Dani’s course was a great quick win for me. Since then, I’ve created so many additional emails and have been able to craft more unique messaging around what I have to say and share all without feeling guilty about it. I love her integrity and find that her emails are really something I look forward to in my inbox.
Tripwire Training – Although I had already created a tripwire in the past for my digital products, I wanted to see the unique take on tripwires that Lizzy had. So I decided to invest in the Tripwire Training. I found that I was able to quickly optimize my existing tripwire for my Digital Product Toolkit and was featured on Lizzy’s website and blog post. Several people signed up for my free resources and went on to buy a few other items from me.
Blog Posts Created:
Digital Products Created:
I spoke at Vidfest about Systematic Funnels and shared with people about how to create more digital product income using funnels. I met some amazing speakers there and the community that Chris has created is really quite amazing. I was so enthused about speaking there that I’ll definitely apply again to speak!
I participated in a Black Friday Bundle with Vanessa along with multiple other digital product creators. It was definitely a big learning experience for me since I was also simultaneously selling my Black Friday Boost for courses and templates. I wished that I had decided to only sell one thing during Black Friday instead of lots of different things. Oh well! Lesson learned.
Oh my gosh, I’ve already rambled on so long. I’m not even sure if you’re still reading this blog post. December was the highest digital product income I had ever made in one month. In previous months nearly 80-95% of my income was actively selling services or some sort of consulting. In December, about 80% of my income came from digital product sales. I was so proud of the progress I made that I was finally headed on the path I wanted to create instead of charging on with a plan for a lifestyle I didn’t care about.
I collaborated with Danielle Desir, founder of WOCPodcasters and we created the Podcast Planner. We also worked together on creating a masterclass, multiple templates and resources for the planner, as well as answering Q & A session live! We had so many people sign up in under a 24 hour period, my inbox was flooded was sales notifications. I honestly thought I would have made only a few hundred dollars when the product went crazy and I realized that having really clear directions was really important. Also I realized that having a low ticket product doens’t mean you won’t get paid big bucks for sales!
I also participated in Lizzy’s Christmas Goody Bag which was an entirely experimental bundle which included a free goody bag as well as a premium goody bag. I contributed to both bundles and I had over 1,000 people sign-up! People then went on to grab other digital products, courses, and items from me during that week and I realized quickly that I needed to tweak a few things so I could make my systems even better for new customers at scale.
Blog Posts Created:
Overall the lessons that I learned from 2020 helped me to see things differently about growth and having an online business.
- Never plan on things being 100% immune to crap hitting the fan. Things won’t always go as you plan.
- Your life, family, and mental health are so much more important than your business.
- It’s okay to say no to things you don’t want in your life, even if it doesn’t fit the mainstream way of doing/running things in your business or persona life.
I think 2020 was a trying year for so many people. I’m fortunate that I’ve been able to learn alongside you and growth with you. Let’s take 2021 on with hope and a supportive community.