Listen to our full episode on Do you HAVE to niche down to succeed in online business? below (with full transcript) or find our podcast by searching What is it all for? in your favorite podcast player.
Five Key Takeaways for Do you HAVE to niche down to succeed in online business?
1. Come up with a differentiator
If your topic niche or narrow audience isn’t going to act as the magnet, YOU need to be that strong magnet to attract and build an email list. Think about how you’re unique in both METHOD (how you do what you do and why it’s different) and MESSAGE (what are you trying to communicate that differs from other generalists in your broader industry.)
2. Prioritize consistency when creating and sharing content
When you’re a generalist, you need a larger email list in order to convert sales than you might if you were building an audience around a very niche topic of interest. This is why growing an email list has to be a main priority. Trust is the key to keeping an audience engaged across many different topics under a general umbrella, and the best way to create trust is through consistency. It’s better to focus on less content channels if it means you’ll be able to share content more consistently. Consistency needs to be the priority.
3. Make sure you’re solving a specific problem, even if your audience is more general
Even if your audience is not specific, you can still find a specific problem that your offer solves for them, and this will help make your sales messaging more compelling and magnetic.
4. Have a reliable source of income as you wait for your audience to build
The truth is, building a generalist business takes more time than a niche business. It’s important to know this going in so you can be strategic about planning where your income will come from while you build up your audience. Think about what skills you have that you can monetize or ways you can structure your finances to create a runway as you transition into growing this general business, especially so you don’t have to go to your list too early with high-ticket offers and break that trust you’ve been working so hard to cultivate.
5. Stay patient and expect it to take longer than you would like to become profitable
We’ve mentioned it many times, but patience is the key to building a general business. It will take time, probably more than you even realize. If you know you don’t want to be limited by nicheing down, make peace with this longer game and keep going.
Show Notes for Episode 132: for Do you HAVE to niche down to succeed in online business?
For all our multi-passionate business owners out there, this episode is FOR YOU. We hope our discussion this week helps you in one of two ways:
1. Either you’ve been wanting to stay more generalized and multi-passionate, but it hasn’t been working for you and this can give you permission to go more narrow OR…
2. You’re still really committed to being a generalist (like we are with WAIM!) and this can help shift your expectations in terms of how to make that happen.
We believe it IS still possible to be less niche with your biz, but the key has been and always will be: You need an audience, and specifically, you need an email list.
There are five key elements we’re sharing this week to help you succeed if you don’t want to niche way down and you want to serve a bigger, broader topic.
Links we said we’d share with you…
🏠 Check out the Sawmill Cottage Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/23988532
🐦 Find Little Bird Coffee on IG: https://www.instagram.com/littlebirdperth1
🎥 Watch Ryan Trahan’s penny series on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JEqi3VVLYkg
✈️ Our travel pramvel has 3 “disaster” stories to share from our first 2 weeks in Scotland (and also some amazing stuff!)
Full Transcript of Episode 132: Do you HAVE to niche down to succeed in online business?
⬇️ You can also download the .TXT file of the transcript
Caroline: Welcome to What is it All For?, a podcast designed to help you grow your online business and pursue a spacious, satisfying life at the same time. We are your hosts, Jason and Caroline Zook, and we run Wandering Aimfully, an UN-boring business coaching program. Every week, we bring you advice and conversations to return you to your most intentional self and to help you examine every aspect of your life and business by asking, What is it all for? Thanks for listening. And now let’s get into the show.
Jason: And I’m here, too.
Jason: How would you like to start this podcast, Caroline?
Caroline: I would like to start by saying hello to everyone. Hello, everyone.
Jason: Good job. I think that’s probably one of the coolest ways anyone started a podcast.
Caroline: Just, hello, everyone.
Jason: Super cool.
Caroline: Do your best Scottish greeting. How are ya?
Jason: How are ya?
Caroline: That’s what you do.
Caroline: First of all, “Hello” is like, “You, American.”
Caroline: I throw hellos at people and they’re like, “I’m sorry, what was that?”
Jason: They just look at you weird. Yeah.
Caroline: My favorite is “Hiyah.” Hiyah is a good one.
Jason: But then it’s like, Hi, how are you? All is one word.
Caroline: I love it so much. How’r yah?
Jason: That’s great.
Caroline: Why have four words when you can have one?
Jason: This is true. Also, it does just sound like a sound.
Caroline: How’r yah?
Jason: It’s just like, how’r yah.
Jason: Are you okay?
Caroline: That’s what I love about it. It’s just like, very singsong-y.
Jason: We are coming to you from Scotland. We are going to share our first two weeks outside of a major city in Scotland.
Caroline: Because where we last left them off, we told them about getting to Edinburgh so they knew it was coming.
Jason: We did. Yeah. But maybe someone didn’t listen to last week’s episode, because they’re like, “I don’t want to confront my business nemesis, nemesi.”
Caroline: Did you like that episode? That was fun.
Jason: I thought it was a fun episode. Got some good feedback. Thank you so much. We always appreciate your feedback, and if you ever want to give feedback, firstname.lastname@example.org, feel free to send us your feedback. We love hearing it, because podcasting is weird.
Caroline: You’re just into a void. Talking to a void.
Jason: It’s very weird.
Caroline: What’s weird about podcasting, and we’ve had this discussion, is that for us, it’s so conversational. It’s so like, “Oh, just capture the conversation.” But we send it out into the ether. We have no idea who’s on the other end, but then for you listening, it’s such an intimate experience. You’re…
Jason: In a bathtub. There’s lots of bubbles.
Caroline: You’re about to fall asleep. Good night. Sweet dreams. You are unloading the dishwasher. You are walking the dog. Like, you’re doing all these things that are like, it’s just you and your thoughts, and it’s a very intimate environment. But us on this other end, when we just recorded this, feels like we’re just simultaneously talking to each other and talking to a stadium full of people we don’t know.
Jason: True. Very true. A stadium of nine. Because we have nine listeners.
Caroline: That’s right. No, we’re up to 14, I thought?
Jason: We might be up to 20, actually. Yeah.
Caroline: Twenty? That’s our new milestone.
Jason: It’s basically Madison Square Garden, which, for those of you who are not from the US, that’s a big arena in the US. It’s pretty famous. All right, so let’s pramvel a little bit here and let’s share some of our memories and stories from our time in Rhynd, which is literally the smallest town I think anyone could ever be in.
Caroline: It’s just basically a rural area.
Jason: So you’re driving and you see, “Welcome to Rhynd!” And then about 13 seconds later, you see, “Thank you for coming!”
Caroline: And you’re like, there were three houses, a post office, though.
Jason: There was a… I mean.
Caroline: Which is a person’s house.
Caroline: I’m just going to be honest, it’s a person’s house with the thing and a lot of cows.
Jason: A lot of cows, a lot of horses.
Caroline: But let me tell you something, coming to Scotland, and I’m sorry for any of our Scottish listeners, I had not given a thought to coming here. I just was like, “Oh, we’ve got to be out of the Schengen region, so we’re just going to spend the summer in a place that isn’t super hot. And so we’ll go to the UK and we’ll kind of, like, bide our time.” And I guess I had just sort of mistakenly neglected the excitement of Scotland, and because my expectations, I guess, were just non-existent, I got here and I am just entranced by the beauty of this…
Jason: It is lovely.
Caroline: Is it a country? We’re still not sure. It’s a country within the United Kingdom, but the United Kingdom is a country? I’m just…
Jason: But then there’s also, in Scotland, the Kingdom of Fife, which is just like…
Caroline: It’s so confusing.
Jason: A kingdom within a kingdom?
Caroline: And so the way I just think about it is, like, England and Scotland, they’re states, kind of?
Jason: Right. Or country?
Caroline: But it feels like a country.
Jason: Or country?
Caroline: Is Wales a country?
Jason: I think England wants to be its own continent. Like, they’re just like, “We don’t want to be a part of Europe. We don’t want to be a part of anything else.”
Caroline: No, see, I disagree. I think they want to be like, England is like, “Yeah, but we’re the dad.”
Jason: That’s what I’m saying.
Caroline: “You can be a kingdom. But just so everyone knows…”
Jason: Anyway, let’s move on from the geopolitical debate that has probably been running this country rampant forever and instead just share with you: It’s so beautiful, it’s so lovely.
Caroline: Love it.
Jason: As we have been telling you through multiple pramvels, we’ve found Airbnbs in the country. And that’s part of what I think is the pure joy of this trip, is we’ll go, “We want to spend time in Scotland.” You zoom out the full map of Scotland.
Caroline: So much so the Airbnb kind of yells at you sometimes, like, “You need to zoom in.”
Jason: They’re like, “Please zoom in.” You’re like, “I don’t want to. Don’t you limit me.” But it was really fun when we were looking for places. We found a couple and in summertime, so things are going to be booked a little bit more. But we found this first cottage, which is called The Sawmill Cottage. I’ll put a link in the show notes.
Caroline: Also, if I remember correctly, we were trying to… many of you have asked this question. We have a Q and A episode coming at some point about how much we’re spending on Airbnbs.
Caroline: This was a time period where we intentionally were trying to spend a little bit less. That’s not to say this place was cheap by any means.
Jason: Well, nothing in the summer is cheap. It’s just really like the way it is.
Caroline: But compared to what some other things we’re looking at, this is a very well priced option for us.
Jason: So this cottage is in this small town of Rhynd and it’s basically on this land this family bought, I think, like, ten plus years ago. And it was so confusing when we first got there.
Caroline: Because there’s so many structures.
Caroline: There’s a gatehouse when you turn into the property and you’re like, “Did someone live there or is that just like an old castle-y structure?”
Jason: And people do live there.
Caroline: And people do live there. Then you drive down the road and you can see this huge manor house. It looks like a literal castle. It’s humongous. It’s like Downton Abbey type, like house. And you’re like, “Does anyone live there? Because that’s a lot.” And then you turn in to, like, our little area and you see the sawmill cottage, which is where we’re staying, so that’s a rental. But then directly across the driveway, the gravel is like a carriage house that looks like it used to be…
Jason: A coach house, I think, is what they call it. I don’t know what the difference is.
Caroline: Me neither, but it’s like a slightly bigger structure with these big kind of garage doors type thing. And everything looks very well maintained, like updated, but also very old at the same time. Like, very well historically preserved, if that makes sense.
Jason: Yes. And this place, what we really liked about it was it felt updated, like the kitchen was definitely if you look at the photos, if you go to the Airbnb, the kitchen was very modernized. Not like modern design, but just modernized. But then there were lots of touches that made it feel like kind of cottage-y, one of which was the blankets over all of the furniture, which when you get there and you take a peek at the blanket, you’re like, “I see why. Yeah, this is horrendous fabric, and it would look terrible in photos.”
Caroline: But then you are comfy and you’re like, “I’m not mad about it.” Aesthetically, disastrous. Comfort, A+.
Jason: Yeah. So we’re going to have a YouTube video of the tours of our two Scotland Airbnbs because we’re going to kind of change up our YouTube strategy. Whoa.
Jason: Big deal.
Caroline: Maybe we’ll record a podcast about that.
Jason: Yeah, maybe. So you’ll get to see that. But if you click through the Airbnb, you’ll be able to check it out. But there were two… I’m going to use the word “disastrous,” but it wasn’t disastrous.
Caroline: That’s because I just said the word “disastrous” and you were like…
Caroline: “Love that word.” It’s so hyperbolic.
Jason: For emphasis, two disasters of this Airbnb.
Caroline: Two disasters.
Jason: Number one.
Caroline: Number one.
Jason: In the listing, we’re very clear. When we search for Airbnbs, we tick the box for kitchen. We tick the box for…
Caroline: Oh, that’s for disaster.
Jason: WiFi. Fantastic. So always kitchen and WiFi. We showed up. Guess what was there? A kitchen. Guess what was also there? A WiFi?
Caroline: There was a router.
Jason: Connected to it. I stood next to it. I reset it. I plugged into it. I even travel… I have an Ethernet cord in my bag, plugged into it directly. There was no WiFi.
Caroline: We get there. This is the first night, and we’re like, “Uh oh.”
Jason: Especially because this two and a half weeks was supposed to be…
Caroline: Our work chunk.
Jason: Let’s get caught up on work stuff.
Caroline: We were supposed to get caught up. We were supposed to get ahead.
Jason: We had a coaching session.
Caroline: We had a coaching session. Literally, we were so reliant on this, so much so that even the host, who by the way, it was very lovely, and the couple was so lovely, but came over and was sort of like, you could tell. He was sort of like, “Yeah, no, there is a signal. But that’s the best we could do.”
Jason: And there is no signal.
Caroline: It’s not his fault, right? It’s a rural area. They don’t have fiber. They don’t have anything out there. And so we were kind of troubleshooting it with them and basically led us on a little bit of an adventure to go see if we could boost this signal just enough to even do anything. When I tell you, couldn’t load a page.
Jason: I mean, nothing. This isn’t like bad WiFi where you’re like, “Oh, I can’t watch my Netflix. It’s blurry.” It’s like, no, you can’t even load a thing.
Jason: So we’ll save you the full, long, drawn out version. But essentially what happened was we ended up going into the nearby town, which was Perth, which we’ll share a little fun thing from there. We went to… essentially, for those of you in the US know, an AT&T store. Here, it’s an EE store. We bought a little mobile hotspot device. And for those of you who are like, “Well, how have you been getting Internet before?” We have international plans on our phones. We also have a little hotspot app that allows you to, in any country, buy data, which has worked well up until now.
Caroline: But it’s not enough to, like, run a Netflix show.
Jason: I mean, we couldn’t even get any service with that. So we bought the hotspot device. The best part about it, so we bring it home. We bring it inside.
Caroline: We also, by the way, have to go to a Curry’s, which is basically a Best Buy to get… because at the EE, they don’t have a non-subscription. We have to be like, get on the plan with our Airbnb host, which is not an option. So they’re like, “Go to Curry’s and they’ll just have the one where it’s just like a flat fee.” So we get there. Anyway, so it’s a whole adventure, right? We get home, we’re like crossing our fingers.
Jason: I turn it on, it’s got four lights, three of the lights are blue, one light is red. The light that’s red is the signal. I’m like, “Come on.” No signal whatsoever. I take it outside and I’m like, “Well maybe it’s just like the house is old and it’s just lined with lead.” And yeah, it was. So we had to set the hotspot up outside on like a little end table and every single day we would set it up and it would only last like 3 hours of battery. So then we had to use one of our battery packs to plug in, then it would rain. So then I would set up an umbrella with like a little plastic baggy system to protect the battery, protect the hotspot device, cover it with the umbrella.
Caroline: It was a saga.
Jason: Every single day we had to do this.
Caroline: And it wasn’t even like enough. Even with that. So that basically became our emergency WiFi. And then in order to actually get work done, we had to go into Perth, into town, which is like a ten minute drive every day. And we did develop this nice little routine where we signed up for a gym there. So we would go to the gym, workout, and then we would park our car and walk into the main little downtown area, which… just love the little city of Perth.
Jason: Perth used to be the capital of Edinburgh, or of Scotland before Edinburgh.
Caroline: Fun fact.
Jason: We found that out from Joey the barista.
Caroline: Okay, Joey the Barista, who is like our best friend.
Jason: Yeah. So Little Bird was just this perfect little coffee shop. We actually were going to go to another coffee shop we had looked up. We were walking down the street with our stuff and Caroline, she was like, “Hey.” And of course, I’m like 20ft ahead.
Caroline: Of course, like a moth to a flame, I see a modern logo with floor to ceiling windows and minimal furniture and like I think like black and white motif with a brush concrete floor. And I was like, “Hey, I found it, I found our spot.”
Jason: And so we came back and we ended up parking up there. We essentially went there almost every single day for two and a half weeks.
Caroline: The coffee shop is called Little Bird.
Jason: Yeah, Little Bird. I’ll throw it in the show notes as well because we just love Little Bird. They only have an Instagram. So actually overheard Joey talking to an older gentleman, he was like, “Do you guys have a card or anything?” And Joey was like, “No.” He was like, “Do you have a phone number?” He’s like, “No, we have Instagram.” And you could just see, the guy was like, “What?”
Caroline: Yeah, it was actually pretty cute. I don’t know if Perth is like an older city or maybe it’s just the time that people are in coffee shops are the time when the older folks are milling about. But quite a few older people came into the coffee shop and I just loved the juxtaposition of the super modern coffee shop vibe. And then just like, chilling and hanging out.
Jason: I loved it because, again, we got to know everybody. So Joey would like, this older lady would walk in and be like, “Oh, hello, Patrice.” She would sit down. She just knew it. Or he knew what she wanted every single day. So just all those cute little things. Also, we sat at every single chair available in the place because we just moved around everywhere.
Caroline: We loved it.
Jason: Yeah, it was a really good… it build a good routine for us. And I think that’s just a good, hopefully, story to share with you all. If you’re thinking about doing a travel adventure like this, you may run into something, but then it just forces you to go, “Okay, how do we adapt?”
Caroline: Which the funniest thing about it is I truly feel like before this, Perth, I haven’t been able to yet unlock what work productivity felt like to me. I just couldn’t figure it out. And all these different places and whatever. And having enough days stacked together also in a short period of time really showed me, like, “Oh, pretend you’re in Perth every day, you only have this amount of time.” I’ve been really using the Pomodoro technique to its fullest extent and been loving that. And so the silver lining is that, yes, it felt very restrictive, but it taught me, I think I feel a lot more capable about my ability to work anywhere now.
Jason: Yeah. Okay, second disaster.
Caroline: The second disaster is…
Jason: Go ahead.
Caroline: The bed situation. Okay. So also when we share these with you, it’s a little bit tongue-in-cheek because I just want to say, like, we enjoyed our time there immensely. We’ll share all the best parts about it. Just so you know, this isn’t us complaining, it’s just…
Jason: Yeah, and if you remember earlier on when we were sharing travel updates, we were talking about, like, when things get bad, I have to ask Caroline, are you looking to book flights? Which means, are you looking to book a flight back to the US?
Caroline: Which I never have.
Jason: Which you have not. But it’s just our running joke. The first night we were there, we were like, “Should we book an Airbnb?” We’ve had a contingency plan and savings set aside.
Caroline: This was almost our first ever, “Do we move Airbnbs?”
Jason: But what we decided on, because we did do a quick browse, I mean, there’s literally nothing to move to. And also, let’s use this as an opportunity to not let just not having WiFi derail us from staying in this beautiful place.
Caroline: Which, by the way, so glad we did because aside from some of these challenges, it turned out to be like a beautiful place, and there was a lot of positives but the bed situation. Okay, so there’s one little dark bedroom and no, that’s not true. There are two bedrooms. One is a bunk room that has three bunk beds, basically, like two that are up on a ladder.
Jason: Ladder. Like if you heard us talk about our Laganini Loft in Split. It’s like that, but even higher.
Jason: It’s crazy.
Caroline: And then one, that’s a double bed that’s sort of like underneath that in a traditional bunk bed style. And then the primary bedroom is, I would say small.
Jason: Oh, no, I think the primary bedroom is a decent size, actually, because there is space. Like, we’ve been in bedrooms where you have to scooch around a bed. You all know this. Like, if there’s a bed that takes up the whole room, this is not a scooch around the bed type of deal.
Caroline: But the bed, it was smaller than a queen.
Jason: So here’s the thing. We knew this was going to be a queen bed.
Caroline: But it was smaller than a queen.
Jason: We were not excited for that.
Caroline: I just want it to be on the record, there’s no way it was a queen bed.
Jason: Maybe this is a Scottish queen?
Caroline: A Scottish queen?
Jason: Not even a European queen. Because I think we’ve been on a European queen before. And it’s okay. It’s tight. And for those of you who don’t know, just as a reminder, I am six foot five.
Caroline: And guaranteed, whatever you think six foot five is in your head, if you met Jason in person, you would be shocked at how large of a human he is.
Jason: I’m thick.
Caroline: So much so our friend Cheryl, that we just met up with, who is a WAIMer, literally was like, “You’re larger than I thought.” And then the first thing I said to you when we met in person twelve years ago was, “You’re a very large human.”
Jason: It’s not just the height, it’s the thickness.
Caroline: It’s arresting.
Jason: I come with a thickness.
Caroline: You do come with a thickness.
Jason: It’s bones. I have larger, thicker bones than most.
Caroline: You certainly do.
Jason: And I don’t do anything with them, but I have them. So anyway.
Caroline: And so people laugh. But I really need to hit this point home. You take up quite a bit more space than an average person.
Jason: Absolutely do. 100%. So we get in bed the first night, and a couple of things happen. One is I cannot extend my legs fully. So my head is touching the rod iron headboard. And my feet, with my knees bent, are touching the rod iron footboard.
Caroline: Why is this so funny, picturing you sleep at night with your legs bent?
Jason: The good thing is I don’t typically, as most people, sleep with my legs fully extended. I sleep on my side. I’m a side sleeper. What’s up, side sleepers?
Caroline: Oh, so you kinda… You do a fetal position.
Jason: I bend my knees. That’s okay. I was okay with that.
Jason: But the problem is that if you go to flip over. Then my feet get tangled in this rod iron situation.
Caroline: You’re completely forgetting that also, not just the size, not just the feet, but the creak.
Jason: Yeah, I ended up… So the first night…
Caroline: So there was also a noise issue.
Jason: Worst night of sleep ever for everybody. I got up at like 4:00am and just finally got out of bed and gave up.
Caroline: I sleep like a log. And even I was disrupted.
Jason: Yeah. And we were touching the whole night. We love each other.
Caroline: We love each other so much.
Jason: But don’t touch me at night.
Caroline: Don’t you dare…
Jason: So second night, I put 16 pillows behind the headboard and solved the creaking problem.
Caroline: So creaking problem down. We still have two problems.
Jason: We still have two problems.
Caroline: Touching and feet.
Jason: My feet and our touching. So by the third night, we tried one more night, by the third night…
Caroline: No, so what happened first was then I said, I’m the one who gave in first and I said, “I can’t do the touching.” And also I felt like claustrophobic because the covers were so big. I just couldn’t describe it. I was like, “I got to get out of here” and I’m really sorry and I love you so much, but I’m going to go sleep in the other bedroom. And so I tried sleeping in the bottom bunk by myself.
Jason: Well, we did do two nights in the primary bed.
Caroline: Yeah, we did two nights, yeah.
Jason: So the third night…
Caroline: Because you saw the creak and you thought, “Maybe it’s the creak.”
Jason: Yeah. So the third night, you were like, “Peace, I’m out.”
Jason: So you go and sleep in the other room. I slept… I tried to sleep diagonally. So I was like, “Okay, I have this full bed to myself. Thank you so much to my loving wife.” I try and sleep diagonally. I will just let you folks know. Just for one night of your life, try to sleep diagonally. It messes with everything you know. It’s just like, “No, no, I’m supposed to be parallel to the bed.” Like, I’m not supposed to be at an angle. So the whole night I had room, but my body was like, “Why are we diagonal? Don’t do this.”
Caroline: Didn’t like it. Didn’t work. Diagonal sleeping, no.
Jason: And how did you sleep on the third night?
Caroline: Oh, I felt like I was going to get kidnapped. Didn’t like it. Didn’t love it being by myself.
Jason: But you did sleep.
Caroline: I did sleep.
Jason: You weren’t getting thrashed by me in the morning?
Caroline: No, but the falling asleep was like, I didn’t love that.
Jason: Okay, so next opportunity here was I was going to put the mattress on the floor and I was like, “I’m not going to do that.”
Jason: There was a futon in the bunk room that folds out. And I actually had a futon in my childhood home when I was a teenager that I slept on and loved it. So I was like, “I could do this. I was also this size back then.” I was thicker. I’m thicker now. I wasn’t so thick back then. So I slept on the futon for a night. I know all of you really don’t care about all this.
Caroline: Oh, I don’t care. So that solved my problem because then I was like, “Oh, now he’s in…”
Jason: I’m in the room with you.
Caroline: You’re in the room. We love each other, we can say good night.
Jason: I’ll get my feet cut off first if they’re exposed out.
Caroline: Definitely. Thanks for that.
Jason: For those of you who listened to our episode about having your feet covered or not covered.
Caroline: Uncovered. And so we are in the same room. Great. The sound is no longer an issue. The touching is not an issue. But I wake up the next day and I’m like, “How’d you sleep?” And you’re like…
Jason: Futon was miserable.
Caroline: Futon was miserable.
Jason: Okay, so here we go. Next option. Do I throw the mattress on the floor? No, I’m going to make a bed sandwich. I carry the Scottish queen size…
Caroline: First of all, we carry…
Jason: Well, the first time we did, but then after that, I just stopped asking for help and I just carried it myself.
Caroline: I just want people to picture us in this Airbnb, like, destroying it.
Jason: Yeah, absolutely. So we carried the Scottish queen from the primary bedroom into the bunk room, lay it on top. I set it up really nice. I even just made it nice for myself. I put a little sheet, I put my comforter, I toss in my pillows, and went to sleep. It was better. It wasn’t great.
Caroline: It was better.
Jason: So now we’re at, like, a week into this place, haven’t had a good night of sleep for a week, and I’m finally just like, “I don’t really have any other options. So I’m just going to tough this out.” Thankfully, by, like, the last night that we were there, had a lovely night of sleep in my bed sandwich, but then I had to leave and we went all over again with the bed situation.
Caroline: I know. I had just warmed up to the…
Jason: It was a disaster, I will say. And thankfully, of the two of us, I can survive with less sleep. You cannot.
Caroline: I cannot. It affects me quite a bit.
Jason: Okay, what’s your other disaster?
Caroline: The third disaster of the place was the spiders.
Jason: Oh, I don’t see that as a disaster. The biggest spider we’ve ever seen was in this place.
Jason: One night we were going to bed and I’m walking, there’s a very long hallway. Again, if you look at photos of the Airbnb, you’ll see it. There’s a very long hallway to go from the living area to the bunk room where the bed sandwich was. And I’m walking and there’s no lights in the hallway, but it’s summertime here, so there’s enough ambient light at 11:00pm to just cast some light. And I catch by the corner of my eye, I’m like, “There’s a shadow on the floor that shouldn’t be there.” And you know a spider is big…
Caroline: When it casts a shadow.
Jason: When it casts a shadow.
Caroline: When your eyes can visibly see a shadow that is cast by the size of the spider, it’s too big. And so I don’t want to give the impression that this wasn’t like…
Jason: It’s not a tarantula.
Caroline: It wasn’t tarantula. It was between an uncomfortably large spider and a tarantula. So it was bigger than an uncomfortably large spider.
Caroline: And I don’t want to give the impression that this was overrun by spiders.
Jason: No, no, no.
Caroline: But it’s like a Scottish summer, you’re in the middle of the woods type of place. And so then after the biggest spider I’ve ever seen in my life…
Jason: Which, by the way, I corralled with a gluten free bread bag. He was actually very agreeable, very amenable.
Caroline: We don’t kill spiders in our family.
Jason: No, we really don’t.
Caroline: Because they’re doing stuff. I see them making webs. I see them and I don’t know. They have a family. I know they do.
Jason: And they do great stuff. Yeah. It’s just like, put them outside if you can.
Caroline: If at all possible, we try not to kill any insects, but anyway so you relocated the spider, but then now I’ve got a spider detector in my brain, and so now I’m looking for spiders. It’s not like I’m just going about my day. It’s like, “I’m in the bathroom,” and I’m like, “Where’s the spider? Oh, there’s one.” And then I’m like, “I’m in the kitchen, and I woke up and the vaulted ceilings, there’s lots of spiders.” And so then I just had too much of an awareness of the spiders.
Jason: Yeah. I mean, there were just a good amount, for sure.
Caroline: But on that note, before we wrap this up, the thing that we loved about this place that made it all totally worth it was what?
Jason: Oh, the nature.
Caroline: Hashtag nature.
Jason: This place, again, if you look at the photos of the Airbnb, had these big picture windows on both sides of the main living area where you would spend all your time. One morning, Samantha the chicken, who is their last chicken because, unfortunately, a pine marten got into the kitchen.
Caroline: And if you don’t know what a pine marten is, neither did we. And Google it.
Jason: Google it. Have fun. Samantha was the last one. She came over to the window and was just, like, hanging out with me in the window. I don’t know chickens to be friendly, but this is a very friendly chicken. We saw rabbits. We saw red squirrels.
Caroline: Don’t forget about the three deer.
Jason: We saw deer.
Caroline: Dierra. Dan and Dale.
Jason: Dan and dale.
Caroline: Three different deer that came literally within 15ft of the Airbnb.
Jason: We saw an owl on the last night.
Caroline: We saw an owl on the last night.
Jason: It was just like…
Caroline: The rabbits. And then on the last day, our Airbnb hosts that were so generous invited us up to the big manor house.
Jason: They were so generous because the place didn’t have WiFi.
Caroline: And we got to see… they have, like… hm, flock is not the right word, of white deer.
Jason: A pack.
Caroline: A pack?
Caroline: Of white deer, which I think are rare, but are just so interesting looking. They look like reindeer, sort of.
Jason: Yeah. They had no idea that these existed.
Caroline: They’re like wild deer. They keep them in an enclosure, but they don’t like…
Jason: Deer Park is what they call it.
Caroline: A Deer Park.
Caroline: But they don’t do anything.
Jason: Yeah, and it was funny because we walked down and we were standing there and they were very far in their area, and they have a very big area.
Caroline: Huge area.
Jason: I would say it’s…
Caroline: An acre?
Jason: An acre. Yeah. I don’t know anything about farming, but sure.
Caroline: It feels like an acre.
Jason: It was big. And they were really far away. And she was like, “Oh, I’m so sorry.” And then her husband Paul comes walking up and they all just come sauntering over. And we end up getting a great view of all these white deer.
Caroline: Yeah, I think it’s because, didn’t they say that they do feed them a little bit in the winter because…?
Jason: In the winter they have to, because there’s not enough grass. Anyway, it was a very low key two and a half weeks.
Caroline: Oh my god, I loved it.
Jason: A lot of time eating meals at home. How many meals did we eat out in two and a half weeks? This is coming from people who eat out…
Caroline: Just when we went to Dundee for the coaching session.
Caroline: So we did do a day trip to a different city called Dundee. And that’s about it. Oh, we did have sushi in Perth.
Jason: So two times in two and a half weeks, which for many of you…
Caroline: Good for us.
Jason: For many of you, that’s like, “Oh, that’s normal.” But for those who are traveling full time, it’s like we eat out a lot because it’s just like you have so little energy and you also want to try a bunch of great food.
Jason: But yeah, that was our time in Perth, and now I’m looking at someone who is on a parachute at our window. It’s very distracting.
Caroline: Also, please clear those trees.
Jason: Oh, yeah. He’s very far from the trees. Sorry. That was like a real moment that we’ve seen nothing out the windows of our current place. There’s no nature. I mean, there’s nature. There’s no animals. There’s nothing to really distract you. That was very distracting.
Caroline: That was distracting.
Caroline: That was our time in Perth. We enjoyed it so much. I think part of why I enjoyed it so much is just because I personally really needed some recoup time.
Jason: And the routines.
Caroline: And the routines. And for me, I will carry that with me after this year, which is just that I love traveling. It’s amazing. But I’m not going to feel guilty about loving my routines anymore. It’s never been illustrated to me more that I thrive best when I have some repetition and routine.
Jason: How much do you appreciate WiFi now?
Caroline: Oh, my God. Also, thank god Netflix has their Downloads feature.
Jason: That’s right.
Caroline: I would go to Little Bird. I would just like tap, tap, tap, try to download all these episodes of something. The WiFi would cut out. You could see people around looking like, “Why did my WiFi just stop?” because I hogged it all with my Netflix downloads, and then I would come home, and then I would have at least one thing to watch.
Jason: Oh, speaking of things to watch. Can we tell them about Ryan?
Jason: I think it’d be just a fun thing to share.
Jason: For those of you who are really into YouTube, maybe you’ve heard of this person, maybe you have not. I think our audience tends to be like our age of this podcast, so you probably have never heard of this person. Like, we had not.
Caroline: Yeah, we’re not in the Gen Z world. We don’t know what the Gen Z-ers are up to.
Jason: So there is a YouTuber named Ryan Trahan, and I will link this in the show notes for you. And he has done a lot of very weird challenges on his YouTube channel. Just think of all the videos that pop up that are like…
Caroline: Sorry, I’m just picturing us being so old now. Like, we’re irrelevant. I picture us being like, “Have you ever heard of someone named Mr. Beast?” And they were like, “Mm, okay.”
Caroline: Yes, I have.
Jason: Most subscribed person on YouTube. Anyway…
Caroline: New to us.
Jason: We had never heard of little Ryan. He’s like 23 years old. He lives in Texas with his now wife. We now know everything about him because he did this 30 day challenge, which I absolutely love because it takes me back to all my weird projects.
Caroline: Oh my god, he reminds me so much of a younger you. So much.
Jason: Yeah. Not as tall, not as thick, obviously. But little Ryan, essentially what he wanted to do was start with a penny. And he’s done a couple of these penny challenges, but usually it’s only been for like a weekend or a week.
Caroline: Also, don’t call him “Little Ryan.” I feel like it’s a little infantilizing, you know what I mean?
Jason: Oh, sure. Okay. So he started with a penny, and his goal was to go all the way across the country, just working every single day, doing stuff.
Caroline: To try to make money, and basically trade up this penny into, like, surviving for the whole month. And to deliver a penny to Mr. Beast.
Caroline: Listen, it’s a YouTube collab thing, but it got into a routine, I think it’s the thing that you were going to share.
Jason: And there was a really good motive behind it.
Jason: So it wasn’t like…
Caroline: It was a fundraiser.
Jason: Yeah, “Let me just rack up a bunch of views on YouTube and make money and have sponsors all the stuff.” No, he was having this whole Feeding America thing and getting people to donate every single day. By the end of it, it was something like…
Caroline: Oh, over a million dollars.
Jason: One point three million dollars donated to Feeding America.
Caroline: It was incredible.
Jason: Because he had this goal to get a million meals donated, and he ended up getting 13 meals.
Caroline: 13 million meals.
Jason: 13 million meals donated, which is unbelievable. So we highly recommend it. Again, I’ll link to in the show notes, the series.
Caroline: And so it became like our little kind of routine. We would be able to go watch and come home and watch it on our little hotspot. And the reason I loved it so much a) It’s just wholesome. It’s not over the top content. It’s just someone trying to do something good and just like, be themselves and just make jokes and meet people along the way. And also, it just reminded me, it brought me back to this time when you were a YouTuber and like…
Jason: Doing weird stuff.
Caroline: Doing weird stuff.
Jason: Before it was a thing to do.
Caroline: Yeah. Like, for those of you who don’t know Jason, when we met, Jason was running a business called I Wear Your Shirt, where he would wear company’s logos on his t-shirt every day and make content on YouTube. This is like ten plus years ago now.
Jason: Oh, thirteen years ago now.
Caroline: Thirteen years ago now.
Jason: Which is wild.
Caroline: Yes. And so he was always doing weird things on the internet and YouTube and that’s how we met. And so, yeah, it brought me back to then. So we had a great time watching that series. We were sad when it was over.
Jason: Totally. And it was also just really fun from a content perspective to watch someone essentially, literally own YouTube for a month. Basically. Obviously, people get more videos and whatever, but on a daily basis, there were just a million views on these videos within an hour. And it definitely went back to the Casey Neistat days. And you could see a lot of influence of Casey Neistat on his videos. And it just was really fun. Also just love how much he was in tune with his audience. Like, he ate at McDonald’s every day and his audience was like, “Eat a vegetable.” There’s a whole storyline with that, which is great. So anyway, it’s a very wholesome thing. I think I heard him say that there’s like 8 hours of content from that 30 days. If you’re just looking for 8 hours of wholesome content and you’re like, burnt out on Netflix and everything else, this would just be a great series just to start from the beginning. Have fun watching it.
Caroline: Enjoy it.
Jason: It’s also very interesting from like, a business perspective.
Caroline: It is interesting from a business perspective.
Jason: How do you make money? What do you do?
Caroline: And I was telling you, I think one part early on in the series, he’s like, basically deciding. I mean, I think he has like $7 or something and he wants to I think it was maybe when he was selling water and he was like, “Do I invest this extra money in improving the product?” Meaning buying ice so that the water is cold when I sell it? Or marketing, meaning investing in a poster board and a sign and like, him choosing the marketing so that he can make the sign. And it’s just little transferable business nuggets that I feel like you can apply to your own business.
Jason: Yeah, it was very interesting. So anyway, Ryan Trahan, the link will be in the show notes for this and you can go check that out. Now let’s get into the actual episode…
Caroline: What a pramvel, Jason.
Jason: Topic. Well, you just want to catch people up on the good stuff, the disasters, the fun.
Caroline: The critters. Absolutely.
Caroline: So now we’re going to get into the business part of this episode. And we decided that we would record an episode about this topic that we’ve had many internal conversations before. Jason even wrote an entire article about this idea. But you see a lot of business advice out there, and rightfully so business advice we would give, which is, if you’re going to build an audience, niche down, right? Like go narrow. Decide on a very specific set of people that you’re trying to talk to and talk about a very specific thing because if you need to build an audience in this day and age in order to stand out, you kind of want to go narrow and niche. And I think that’s good advice. However, I know some of you listening are thinking to yourself, “I’m a multi-passionate person. I’m a person who likes to talk about a lot of different things.”
Jason: “Don’t you hold me down.”
Caroline: “Don’t you make me try to niche.” And I just thought maybe, are you wondering is it even possible to build a successful business that’s more general? That’s more generalized audience? I would consider our business, Wandering Aimfully, extremely generalized. Because even though we go after online business owners, and even though we go after what we would call intentional online business owners, it’s still quite an array of people. We have designers, we have artists, we have fitness coaches, we have writers, like all different types of people. And so we have done this kind of intentionally. And I just was thinking to myself in the shower, like, “God, if somebody came to me and they were like, I want to do what you’ve done, create like a more general business because I don’t want to limit myself.” Is it even possible?
Jason: Yeah. And I think where I started with this idea of this article back in the day was with one simple question, which is, When do you need money? Do you need money right now or can you wait a little bit longer? And like, do you have other things working for you? Can you make money in other ways?
Caroline: That’s the big question.
Jason: That is the big question. Because if you need to make money right away, you cannot be a generalist. It is just not possible.
Caroline: Nicheing is the way to go.
Jason: You need to be specialized. And being a specialist puts you right in a category of people who can get paid for a skill. And that is something that I just think we can’t hit home enough when we see people who are like, “Okay, I’m going to leave my nine to five job and I’m going to start this thing,” and it’s like, “I’m going to be a life coach.” And we’re like, “Okay, but like, for what?”
Caroline: For whom? And around what?
Jason: There’s so much, and you’re going to leave your job and you don’t have an audience, you don’t have a website, and it’s all these things. It’s like, “Okay, but can you take three years to build this business before you start making a profitable amount of money?” That’s very tough. The kind of crux of this is if you’re listening to this right now and you’re like, “I am someone who runs a business that’s more generalist.” It’s very important to know it’s going to take you longer.
Caroline: Yes. And so on that note, I actually was brainstorming, and I came up with what I think are the five key things that you need if you are someone who wants to be a generalist. And so we hope that kind of your takeaway from this episode is either, it’s like one of two things. Either you really have been wanting to have a more general business that you don’t feel kind of blocked in, but maybe it hasn’t been working for you. And so maybe this episode is the permission that you need to finally go, “Oh, this is why it hasn’t been working. I do actually need to make money faster. And so I can kind of finally make that decision to niche down a little bit.” So either you’re in that camp or if you really want to be a generalist, I hope that us going over these key things can kind of reset your expectations of how long that maybe is going to make, and you can make peace with that and say, “Oh, I do still want to be a more generalized business, but now I have a better idea of what that’s going to take, and so I’m not going to be discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away.”
Jason: Yeah. And I think the other big kind of, like, key takeaway here and this is if you are trying to build a business like ours, we would say, don’t do it the way that we did it unless you have the financial runway to wait.
Caroline: Exactly. Jason and I often try to be very clear about the ways that our blueprint is not replicable, because, by the way, you shouldn’t try to replicate anyone else’s blueprint because it’s your life and your business, 100%. We’re very clear about that. There’s no one size fits all to business. But we tell people this often, like, we have been building audiences for over ten years. I mean, you definitely over ten years, me almost ten years, separately and then together. And so what allows us to have this more general audience where we can talk about everything from branding to money to…
Caroline: To minimalism to all of these things, is that we started building our audiences around kind of us and our voice and our interests ten years ago.
Jason: Yeah. And I think a big ironic thing in the online business space is so many of the well-known people are teaching these things of, like, you could grow your business in six months, but it literally took them ten years.
Jason: And so they’re trying to take their ten years that it took them and squeezing it down. And listen, we’re trying to do the same thing with Wandering Aimfully and everything we teach, but we never promise and guarantee that you can turn around and do it in a certain time frame or that you can turn around and make a certain amount of money because it’s just out of our control. And in the 2022’s, we don’t know what it’s like to start a business from scratch. We have so many advantages, both inherently just as white privileged people, but also just as people who’ve had audiences for years, that tomorrow we could go, “We’re going to shut down Wandering Aimfully, we’re going to shut down Teachery, we’re going to be full time travel content creators.” Well, guess what? We have an email list of 10,000 people. We have a YouTube channel of almost 10,000 subscribers. We have an Instagram that we don’t use that we could tap into.
Jason: And so we have so many of those things that so many people, when they’re getting sold this dream and this idea, don’t have.
Caroline: Yes. And I hope that you listening to that. I hope that that’s actually empowering for you to hear because a lot of people won’t tell you that. And so in not disclosing that to you, in not highlighting the ways that they may have an unfair advantage, you’re going to go chasing that same path to probably futility. So instead, I hope it empowers you to go, “Okay, I’m not going to try to be like Jason and Caroline, because I’m me, and I don’t have ten years of trying to build an audience. So what are the things that I can take from them without trying to do the exact same thing?” And we’re going to talk about audience in a second because I think audience is the big key to being a generalist and so different than if you’re going to be some type of niche creator or niche business. The sheer numbers of audience that you need are so much smaller.
Jason: Also, let’s just be extremely clear. Audience equals email list.
Caroline: Email audience, correct.
Jason: Audience does not equal followers on Instagram. Audience does not equal subscribers on any platform, followers. Email list. This is when we say audience over and over again for the next 15 to 20 minutes, it means email list. So that, to us, is the most important thing. And if you’re listening to this right now and you don’t have an email list, start today.
Caroline: That’s the first thing.
Jason: It is absolutely to start today. That is step zero on this list of five steps. You have to get a compelling landing page up, a reason for someone to subscribe to you with some copy that’s interesting, that might solve a problem or get them interested or whatever it is, just get started with something.
Caroline: So let’s get into the individual keys right now. I think I said there’s five, I’m sure there’s more, but these are the five that we’re going to go over in this episode. So here are the keys that we think you need if you want to be a successful generalized business. And again, even generalized, like, I just mean if you want to talk to women or if you want to talk to business owners, those are technically still some level of specificity but not a very high level of specificity. Number one, you need a differentiator.
Jason: It’s almost as important as having an email list.
Caroline: Exactly. If you’re going to talk about everything under the sun, what makes you unique is you have to decide what that’s going to be because it’s not going to be your topics that you talk about. Right? So instead you have to decide, okay, so in our case, if we’re going to talk about business coaching, which is so general, what’s going to be our unique spin on business coaching? And I kind of break this down into two areas, which is what makes you different and then what makes your message different. So for us, what makes our methods different is that we are UN-boring. Like that’s what we aspire to be. We aspire to infuse fun and humor and kind of a little bit of irreverence into everything that we do when we teach business concepts. That’s our differentiator of our methods and then our differentiator of our message is, okay, you don’t have to aspire to growth for growth’s sake. You don’t have to make a million dollars or six figures in order to be successful. You get to define what that is. And we really tell people to define what is enough money for them, what is enough hours to work, what is all… defining enough basically. So again, just to recap, if you do want to be generalized, be specific about your differentiator when it comes to your methods and when it comes to your message.
Jason: And I think an important thing about the differentiator category is you may know what’s different about you right now, but you may not know what’s different about your message or your methods. And I would say that we didn’t know when we started Wandering Aimfully because we didn’t have UN-boring as kind of our main through line and also kind of like the anti-hustle culture stuff as well until the second year of the business. And so I think it’s something for right now if you’re trying to figure out where your differentiator, that word really trips me up, differentiator is. It’s just pick something and it can change, it can adapt, it can be something that you tweak over time. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It doesn’t have to be eloquent, it doesn’t have to be anything other than just something you really believe in and that you could kind of have people latch onto that they can go, “Yeah, that’s something that I believe as well.”
Caroline: Yeah. And a good place to start for that. I often call this like your black sheep quality. Like, what is the aspect of your personality that maybe at first glance you feel a little bit ostracized for or you feel like it goes against the grain of what’s conventional? Because that’s going to be your biggest opportunity to stand out because it’s already against the grain.
Jason: Yeah. Some might say, like, Own Your Weird.
Caroline: Own Your Weird. Oh, I like that phrase.
Jason: That could be cool. (whispers) I wrote a book called Own Your Weird.
Caroline: (whispers) It’s called Own Your Weird.
Jason: Number two.
Caroline: Number two. So first one is you need a differentiator. Number two, you need consistent content. This is the boring answer.
Jason: And this is a tough one because right now where we are in life, we wouldn’t have to do consistent content. We could certainly slow way down and we do, we take breaks and everything else.
Caroline: But in order to build to where we’ve gotten.
Jason: But in order to build to where we’ve gotten was what I was going to say. We now have the luxury of being able to slow down. And so you can look at other people around you, not just us, and you can go, “They don’t post anything. They’re not consistent at all in content. Like, they’re doing well.” It’s like, yeah, but you’re not looking at the full picture of what they’ve been doing for years. And so when you’re getting started or when you’re making a pivot or when you’re just now realizing like, “Oh, I’m a multi-passionate, I’m in a generalist business, it’s going to take me longer to get going.” You need consistent content to build that email list and audience in other places if you want, but that consistent content in articles and email newsletters and posting on social, posting on YouTube, creating a podcast, whatever those things are, you have to do it and you have to do it for quite a while until you start to see some actual growth and your things are turning over and converting.
Caroline: Yeah. And the reason for this is, going back to something I said before, which is when you’re a niche business, you don’t need quite as high of numbers of email subscribers in order to convert to sales. Let’s say you launch an online course. If you have a very specific audience and a very specific problem that you solve, probably that kind of core, what’s the word I’m looking for, core value proposition is going to be strong enough that your sales are going to be higher, your conversions are going to be higher, and therefore you don’t need a bigger audience. However, when you’re a generalist, you are going to, let’s say, launch an online course. Let’s just say we’re a generalist talking about business coaching. Let’s say we launch a course just about branding. Our audience is not just people interested in branding. And so that value proposition is only going to apply to a smaller segment of our audience. Therefore, the overall number of audience members of email subscribers needs to be higher. So that’s why we’re saying consistent content, because consistent content leads to those email subscribers. And I would say if you’re starting out, I would go for picking one or two channels over trying to diversify over everything because your consistency is probably going to struggle if you are trying to have a podcast and a YouTube and a TikTok, you know what I’m saying? Choose one or two and make sure that it ties in strongly to your email list.
Jason: And make sure that it has built-in organic growth. Like, a podcast is actually a really bad place to start because it’s so difficult to get organic growth.
Caroline: It’s insular.
Jason: If we could show you the chart of our podcast over the past four years, it’s going up, but it’s laughably small at how much it has grown.
Caroline: I always say a podcast is a great secondary nurture channel. I almost think of it in the same as your email newsletter, but email is still the most important. But literally add that on once you get past a threshold where you’re comfortable with your email list. Use it as an additional nurturing channel. Don’t try to use it as an organic growth channel.
Caroline: The third key is you need to make sure that you’re solving a specific problem even if your audience is general.
Caroline: So this is something that we learned kind of the hard way when we launched WAIM because, when we first launched it, it was this membership idea and it was just like kind of like, “Get access to our stuff.” And having a general audience with a general product, it makes for very low sales. However, if you still want to have a generalized audience with a large umbrella category of online business owners, you need to establish a specific problem that can apply to a lot of different people. So for us, what that kind of organically grew into is any online business owner. It doesn’t matter if you’re a yoga teacher or an artist or a financial advisor. One of the problems that we see over and over across the board is it’s really hard to know what to focus on at what part in your business. It’s like, “Do I focus on more marketing or my email list or all these things?” It’s confusing because there’s so many things that you can do to grow your business. And so once we launched our unboring business coaching within WAIM, we really hit on that as an idea of how to solve a specific problem. Like, “Join our coaching program. We will do a coaching session once a month and you will get one thing to improve in your business every month.”
Caroline: And then on top of that, once we had enough coaching sessions, “Join our coaching program. Not only will you get one thing to focus on a month, but now we have the Roadmap, which tells you which thing to focus on at what point in your business.”
Jason: Yeah, and I think there’s something really important about the lack of feeling like you’re limited if you’re focusing on something as a generalized business owner. So let’s say you have this general list of people and you’re just talking to Soulful Creatives like you are, and you’re going to build your first product or maybe your fourth or fifth or whatever, and it’s like, “This is my Square space course. It’s like how to master Squarespace 7.1.” And the good thing about that is that it’s very focused. It’s not a course about, “Here’s how to do web design,” which is just like it’s so general, it’s so generic, it actually goes in further. So now your group of Soulful Creatives, they could be yoga teachers, they could be artists, they could be what have you, but they’re all understanding that the product that you’re talking about is more focused, so you’re making sure to solve that problem for them.
Caroline: Yeah. And I would also say if you are one of these people who really does want to be committed to a more general business for the long haul, entertain the possibility of being more specific for certain seasons within your audience. So it doesn’t mean you have to shift your entire business to revolve around this idea of like, “Oh, now I only talked to Squarespace designers, but maybe instead I’m going to talk to all designers, and for a season, I’m going to have an email series that’s catered to people using Squarespace, and then I’m going to do an online course on the back end of that.” And that way I don’t have to revolve my entire business around Squarespace as a platform, but I can just focus my content on this one specific area. And that’s going to get your sales conversion up if that’s what you need to do in order to make your business profitable.
Caroline: Moving on to key number four. So I would say something that you need is a way to make ends meet while you wait for your audience to build. So you have to have some type of reliable income. Jason was alluding to this before because right, we said, like, “If you need to make money right now with your business, go niche and go narrow,” because that’s just like, the reality of it. It’s just a quicker, faster way to do that. But if you again want to leave yourself that wiggle room, you have to come up with other ways that you can supplement that income. So one aspect is definitely like what I just said, which is focusing on more specific problems and specific topics in seasons without moving the entire list. But sometimes it’s going outside of your business for money. For a long time while we were building wayne the audience, we were just making envy in any way that we could through different skills we had acquired. So me taking on freelance design projects, you taking on speaking gigs or consulting gigs, using whatever skills that we could in this more like one-off kind of fashion in order to get some money in the door and kind of extend our runway to build our audience.
Jason: And I think some of that, too, is just a little bit of self-funding is to think about that as well, where if you’re currently working a part time job or a full time job or what have you or you have another business but you’re looking to change completely because you’re tired of being in that industry, you need to build up a runway. And so that’s what we did with WAIM. We had built up a savings runway through other things, and that gave us the leverage to be able to afford to live for two years before the business was profitable. And I think for so many people, they take the leap too quickly without any type of runway set up, whereas you might just stick around your job for six months, try to live as leanly as possible, save up a good amount of money so you could live for another six months without having to make another dollar. And then I really think the important part of this is, like you said, is to try and make money outside of the business you’re trying to build. So in any way that you can try and make some additional money, that’s really helpful because it doesn’t put pressure on the thing that you’re trying to build your audience around. It’s something completely separate where you go, “Okay, well, I’ll just knock out this website for my uncle’s business, and that’ll give me $2,000. And now I don’t think about money for this month, and I could just keep focusing on whatever business.”
Caroline: Yeah, we’ve seen this before as well. One specific instance comes to mind of you’re in that position where you’re trying to build this audience. It’s around a more general thing. You realize you’re getting low on cash, and so you throw out let’s just call them, like, consulting spots for the x amount of high price tag. And you kind of burn your list a little bit because they’re like, “Hey, we thought you were here just delivering value, and you didn’t even kind of prepare us for this high price tag you just threw at us. It’s not like you’ve done a course or done a thing.” And so now all of a sudden, you’ve lost a little bit of trust with that audience that you’re building because they can sense that you’re in a place where you’re kind of scrambling for cash. If you have to, do what you got to do. Like, I’m not here to judge whatever. We all have to make money. But if there is a way to avoid that, like we were saying, do a design project or go to a local business who has a really terrible mobile website for their restaurant and you’re like, “Hey, I can build you a Squarespace site for one $500,” and really get creative about some of those solutions in order to get money through the door so that you don’t have to put that burden on this audience that you’re trying to build because so much of building a successful general business is about building trust with your audience in you. Because if you build your audience around them trusting you, they will go along for the ride wherever you take them if you’re transparent about it. So it’s like, “Hey, now I’m shifting the business to this aspect.” And our audience came literally from me being a designer, me being a writer, then going to and you being talking about sponsorship, doing your weird marketing stuff. Now then we’re combining businesses and people are like, they came along for that journey. And it was because I think we had built up trust through consistency and through transparency over time.
Jason: Yeah. And I do want to make sure that it’s very clear when we say that we want you as a general business owner to be making products around lots of other things. And it’s not desperate to make a new course around a new thing. Like, let’s say you make a Squarespace course, then let’s say you make a Canva course, then let’s say you make a course on using whatever and they’re all different. There’s not maybe a clear through line. We’re not saying don’t do that. What we’re saying is don’t get into a place where you’re like desperate for money and then you’re like throwing out asks to your audience saying like, “Oh, hey, book a one on one coaching call with me.”
Caroline: Throwing out asks, not ass.
Jason: Don’t throw out ass to your audience. You know what I mean? Yeah, that’s fine. Because I think it’s a really important distinction between asking for something from someone when it feels like the wool is kind of getting pulled over their eyes, as opposed to building a new thing that someone can have a problem solved that you’re giving them an opportunity to buy. And that’s what we did with WAIM. Over and over, we were just building new things and we are creating new things until we finally hit on a thing that made the most sense. And it’s going to take you building multiple things before you actually hit on a thing that people really resonate with.
Caroline: Yes. Which brings us to our last key thing of what you need in order to build a successful general business, and that is patience, because it just takes so much longer. But again, that’s a choice that we made early on. We knew it would take longer, we knew it wasn’t the fastest route. But as two people who value flexibility so much, I just knew I didn’t want to pigeonhole myself. And so we just kept it more general. And that was because we felt like it gave us more room to play around with the different interests we had. And we love learning skills that are all over the map. And so we just stayed intentionally vague and broad in general and knew that we were going to strap in for the long haul and kind of get by in the meantime until it became really profitable.
Jason: And I think the really practical part of this that I want to share, when you think about patients and taking more time is set realistic milestones.
Jason: So you might be a generalist who is working a full time job, or maybe it’s just like you have very little time. Like you take care of your family and you don’t necessarily, you’re not the breadwinner in the family, but you want to have this business because you want to provide. And like you want your significant other to stop working their job because they hate it. Maybe in the first year of your business, it’s just to get your business up and going. It’s just to get your audience built. It’s to get whatever product is you want to build, the idea set in stone. Your website built, your email list, your content going. That’s your first year, there’s no money involved. The second year is, “Okay, let me start trying to sell stuff. Let me start doing some marketing, some sales. And my goal by the end of this year is to make $10,000.”
Jason: So okay, that’s a very achievable goal. That’s less than $1,000 a month. That feels doable in a time that you might have. Okay, by the second year, I really hope I can double that money. And then by the third year, I hope I’m getting to a place where maybe I’ve tripled that money or whatever. By the fourth year, I’ve replaced my partner’s full time income. Right, and you’ve broken that down in a four year plan. You’ve not gone, “I have one year to replace my partner’s income.” So much pressure, plus you just don’t have the time.
Jason: And so I think the really practical part of being patient is knowing your situation and how much time it would be realistic and where you can plot these milestones in and what can be done for you. Because you might be listening to this and you might be like us, where you don’t have a lot of extra things that take away from your time and energy, kids, maybe a bad job situation…
Caroline: Family members to care for.
Jason: Yeah, like any of those things, right. And so you have a little bit more freedom. So you could probably go a little bit faster. However, you do still have to be realistic. For us, we didn’t say WAIM is going to build back up our income in one year. We weren’t naive to that. Even though we had all the time in the world we could possibly spend on it, we knew that it would just take time. And it took us three years to get to our goal number that we wanted to get to. And I remember that first year, there’s a video on YouTube, it was a previous podcast episode as well, called Slow and Steady. And I was really frustrated and we were at the one year mark and you had to bring me back to reality and go, “Hey, we said this would take longer.” But there was still that part of my brain that was like, “But I wanted it to be done faster.” And that the reality is you just have to fight those urges and those thoughts because they will come up and you will set these milestones, but then your brain will be like, “Yeah, but we could go faster. Look at all these people on Instagram. They’re growing, they’re making money.”
Jason: And instead you have to go, “No, my plan is X and I’m going to follow this plan as much as I can. Things are going to go wrong, things aren’t going to go the way that I want and that’s what I’m going to try and do.”
Caroline: Yeah. And, “I’m going to recommit to whatever part of this… and just keep moving forward and finding, approaching it all like an experiment,” which is what we tell people all the time, what hasn’t worked, take that into what hopefully will work in the future.
Jason: So for all of you generalists and multi-passionates who are listening to this, we hope this episode has either a) lit a fire under your butt to slow down, to just like, have more patience, understand the slow and steady work on building your email list, getting your consistent content going, sticking to that plan, building out some milestones for yourself, or b) you’ve decided, “You know what, I’ve been doing this for a while. I’m not seeing the results. Maybe I don’t want to be on the consistent content game anymore. Maybe I don’t want to build an email list. Maybe I just don’t want to do these things.” Go be a specialist.
Caroline: Go niche down, find a specific audience with a specific problem and a specific transformation that you can help them with. And yeah, that’s a different path.
Jason: And as specific as possible, right? And follow if you want an even, like, further step on that, follow where the markets are going. Canva, so popular right now. Get really good at Canva and teach people how to learn everything you know about Canva. Find a big email service provider like ConvertKit or something like it that you can get really good at, becoming a professional in it and be able to get clients and help them do that. Go where the money is. Don’t go where the general topics are. Don’t say, “I’m going to go be a web designer.” For what? People aren’t going to know how they’re going to be able to pay you. So get as specific as possible, follow the markets, or just know that you’re going to slow down. It’s going to take time.
Jason: I think we did it.
Caroline: I think we did, too.
Jason: There’s a lot in this episode that we have talked about for many years and that we have lived for many years.
Jason: And we’re here to show you that it is possible. But we also do want to acknowledge, too, that we sometimes forget we are two people. So sometimes I think people compare themselves to us.
Caroline: We are two people. I know.
Jason: And we have double the power.
Caroline: Yeah, we do. And also, we’re two people who are very different, so we have very complementary skills and working styles, which we just sort of lucked out, honestly.
Jason: So either find a tall, thick project manager that would be good. Gender doesn’t matter. Just a tall, thick person would help. Or find, like, a very emotional, artistic, creative person to help you. And again, gender doesn’t matter. So just, like, whatever you want to choose.
Caroline: Whatever you want to choose.
Jason: You’re probably missing one of those two things in your life. Just go find that person.
Caroline: Just go find that person.
Jason: I bet you could find them on, like…
Caroline: I wouldn’t…
Caroline: The Google.
Jason: Someone’s going to, after this, search like, “Tall, thick project manager, looking for spouse.”
Caroline: You know what? If you and I break up, we have our Tinder profile set.
Jason: We do. Yeah. All right. We hope you enjoyed this episode. We’ll be back next week with some more stories from Scotland. Is it a country? Is it a state?
Caroline: We probably sound so dumb.
Caroline: But we are when it comes to other countries.
Jason: That’s like people going from Europe to the US are like…
Caroline: What states?
Jason: Like, Arkansas and Kansas are two separate places?
Caroline: I did watch a great interview of an Irish comedian, and I love talking about how she had, like, an event to go to in Kansas City, only to find out Kansas City is in Missouri. And that would be really confusing.
Jason: That’s very confusing. Absolutely.
Caroline: So it goes both ways.
Caroline: Is all I’m saying.
Jason: That’s it.
Caroline: Okay. Love you. Bye.