In this article, we hope to help you learn how to grow your online business monthly revenue from $0 to $10,000++. We are NOT about overnight success or viral tactics, which is why we call this process: Grow It Gradually 🦋.
What you can look forward to…
We’re going to share 3 tips in each revenue “level” of your business so that you can Grow It Gradually 🦋. The five “levels” we’ve identified and experienced are as follows:
- $0 → $500
- $500 → $1,500
- $1,500 → $3,000
- $3,000 → $5,000
- $5,000 → $10,000
- $10,000 → $10,000++
We want to make it EXTREMELY CLEAR that regardless of how much money your business makes, you are welcome and celebrated just as you are! There are SO many more important, more interesting measures of success and growth beyond just money.
Making more money doesn’t make you better at business or more important than anyone else.
But alas, in our experience, money can buy FREEDOM and that’s really what we want for you.
We hope, in each section of this article, you walk away with actionable takeaways for whichever level you’re currently at or striving to get to (at the pace is right for YOU!) Now on to the show…
Grow Your Online Business Revenue from $0 to $500 per month: Start with a Client-Service Business
When we were just getting started with our businesses, one of the biggest issues was trying to figure out what type of business and revenue model to pursue.
Online courses sound great, but if you don’t have an audience, who are you selling them to? The unfortunate answer is: No one 😩😩😩.
Software (aka SaaS) is cool, but if you have zero developer skillz (yes, skillz), it’s going to be a looooooong time before you can start making money.
If you’re trying to grow your online business from scratch, we recommend starting with a service-based business.
Service-based businesses come in many shapes and sizes: Graphic design, web design, web development, virtual assistance, copywriting, art therapy, personal styling, social media management, the list goes on and on.
Essentially, you are a person with a specific skill, getting paid for the hours you work for someone else’s business.
This is a GREAT business model to start with because you don’t have to have a big audience or a social media following; all you need is to have cultivated a specific skill that you can monetize. With just a few clients in the door, you’re likely making enough money for a healthy side business (rather than a products-based business which would take significantly more sales and effort to make the same amount of money.)
Great, the (fictitious) business is established and we know who we can help [health and wellness experts] and with what services [Squarespace website design] we can help them with. Now, let’s get into the three tips in this section for Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 to get their business foundation right and their first client(s) in the door.
⚡️ Tip #1 at the $0 – $500 stage: Be VERY clear about what you do and who you do it for (ps. You need a website!)
You may have noticed in the short bio for our fictitious business, we offhandedly threw out there our web design company focuses on helping small business owners in the health and wellness space. THIS. IS. IMPORTANT.
One of the biggest mistakes we made early on that we see new business owners make as well is NOT specifically stating who your business is for.
It may seem limiting to pick a specific group of people that can pay you money, but trust us, if you cast too wide of a net and just say you do “web design for small businesses” you aren’t going to ATTRACT 🧲 anyone. We’re going to go into more detail about this in the next section.
The other part of this first tip is to identify what exactly you do.
For Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨, hopefully you noticed we wrote “build elegant websites on Squarespace.” We want to focus on the skills we have and the software we know how to use.
We don’t want to learn how to use WordPress, Wix, Weebly, Webflow, or any other website platform that starts with a “W” 😂😂. Plus, this is another way to attract a specific type of customer who uses the platforms you know.
Once you can answer these two questions, the logical first step is to create a website.
This is very important though: Don’t overthink this step! Give yourself a specific deadline of when your website needs to be launched for your biz. Constraints are incredibly important and we’ve all had those “under construction” pages up on our sites for longer than we should’ve.
⚡️ Tip #2: Start BEFORE you’re ready and courageously practice putting yourself out there.
Everyone open your ears… 👂👂… Are they open? Good. You ARE going to have to reach out to people before your business is “perfect.”
You ARE going to have to put yourself out there on a limb that’s a bit uncomfortable. We ALL do this!
To get your first couple of paying clients, you may need to do things like:
- Post on any social media account you have letting people know you started this new (business) adventure and you’re looking for clients
- Text message friends and family offering up your services (if you want to do this in a non-spammy way, send along a friendly note with your new website and ask your friends/family to pass it along to anyone who might be in the market for your particular skill)
- Cold email local (targeted) businesses in your area with a value-packed pitch on how you can help them*
- Embrace the fact that people will say “No” to you and that’s OKAY (it does NOT mean you are a bad person)
It’s really really really important to avoid overthinking everything early on in your business. Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 is not going to get its first paying client with hopes, prayers, and crossed fingers. It takes doing outreach and being proactive.
At the $0 stage of business the most important thing is getting SEEN. You have to promote yourself and you have to understand that promotion is NOT a bad thing.
Promoting yourself ≠ being a sleazy salesperson. Those are not the same things. We love this quote from Tina Roth Eisenberg:
Head’s up: Be prepared that your friends, family, and acquaintances may criticize you for putting yourself (and Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨) out there.
We’ve learned that nearly all criticism in business comes from other people’s insecurities and fears. Know this, and put on your invisible suit of armor, ready to ward off any unwanted criticisms of your new biz!
⚡️ Tip #3: Create a buzz-worthy “launch” event.
One thing we don’t see enough new biz owners do is leverage the “new-ness” of their business to create buzz early on.
Now, we understand being quiet is more natural to some people, but businesses need to be seen/heard before they can get paid!
Here’s what we’d do for Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 if we were just getting started:
- We’d create a simple landing page that has a launch date, countdown, and a call to action to sign up for the email announcement of an exclusive offer
- On that landing page, we’d show off a few examples of our Squarespace web design skills, and also have a fun photo or two of Prism, the poodle 🐩 looking awesome (anything that makes your launch more memorable and full of personality is a win!)
- We’d come up with some branded social media graphics that promote the 🐩🎨 launch event (more fun photos of Prism, obvs)
- For 2-3 weeks, we’d promote the launch event on all our social channels (“Something exciting is happening, join me!”)
- We’d write our first email newsletter that would offer three web design client spots at a 50% OFF discounted rate (this is the exclusive part) – This email would also focus on what we do and who we do it for!
- We’d focus on the launch event being FUN, exciting, and a new adventure for us and Prism!
Optional: If you’re a much more extroverted person, you could also do some sort of video launch. It could be done on Zoom, YouTube Live, IG Live, etc, and the entire call-to-action of your buzz-worthy event would be to attend that (instead of OR in addition to the email signup).
This type of launch event is not just about getting those first three paying clients. It’s about doing what we talked about in Tip #2: showing people your biz exists!
If you get a paying client, that’s obviously your main goal, but at this stage of the game, just getting people to know you are offering this service is critically important.
If you can work through these three tips, you should absolutely be well on your way to landing your first paying client (or two, or three!)
There’s no specific timetable on how long these things should take, but we’ll remind you of one important thing: You have to get started before you feel 100% ready! No one feels 100% ready at the $0 stage of business.
Next section, we’re on to our next stage and we’ll tell you what to focus on next once you earn hit that first $500/month benchmark. 🦋
From $500 to $1,500 per month: Build Your Business Foundation
Let’s say your business is generating around $500 every month and that’s about 500x better than $0, but you know $500 can’t pay all your bills, so you’re looking to grow. What do you do?
If you missed it in the previous section, we’re going to use our fake business Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 Design Studio (a company that does Squarespace website design for health and wellness businesses) as our ongoing example.
⚡️ Tip #1: From your first few customers, can you look for patterns and identify a clear customer profile?
One of the most important ways you can grow your business is to get crystal clear on WHO your target customer is.
Even with our Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 business, we’ve narrowed in on “health and wellness” clients, but even that niche can be very broad.
Using the tips from the previous section, hopefully, you’ve been able to take on a few clients by this point, but since you’re still in that early stage you may have felt the need to say YES to each and every client inquiry.
That’s totally okay! But if you really want to grow, it’s time to get laser-focused on attracting a specific type of client. Think back to which clients you enjoyed working with the most, and try answering the following questions:
1️⃣ Is there a pattern to what these clients do? (Instead of “wellness companies” are most of your favorites actually yoga instructors?)
2️⃣ Is there a pattern to why they are looking for a [insert your business here] to help them? (Multiple clients have said they “don’t consider themselves creative” and “they are frustrated by trying to design their own website”.)
3️⃣ Is there a pattern to what they’re asking for? (Maybe you started out thinking you’d design 10-15 pages per website, but the best clients are happy with 4-6 pages.)
Just by answering those questions, you can paint a much clearer picture of the IDEAL customer you want to attract and how to speak to exactly what they want.
And where do you apply that lovely business-paint? You spell it out clearly on YOUR website and in all your promotional copy!
🙅♀️🙅 A note about saying NO to prospective clients…
At the $500/month level of business, it can be easy to fall in the trap of taking on any client that comes your way because you’re afraid to turn down money. But we found from our own experience and helping many people over the years, saying yes to clients who AREN’T your ideal customers is the quickest way to NOT enjoy your work and to muddle your messaging. The quicker you can create cohesion and clarity in your portfolio and your website copy, the quicker you will see results of more and more ideal clients coming to YOU.
⚡️ Tip #2: Develop a clear expertise.
Back when Caroline 👩🏻🦰 started her first online business in 2014, a design studio called Made Vibrant, she marketed herself as a do-it-all-designer (hand-lettering, logos, graphic design, print design, branding, websites, etc.) She could apply her design skills to all these different projects, so why not cast the net as wide as possible, she thought.
After working with the first few clients of Made Vibrant, Caroline went through the questions we just posed in Tip #1 and found there was a more focused approach she wanted to take.
Instead of being a do-it-all-designer designer, she realized her favorite projects were designing brands for first-time creative entrepreneurs. She loved the feeling of confidence she could see in her clients after they had a clear and unique brand identity they were proud of.
This decision to stop being a jack-of-all-trades and instead develop a clear expertise in brand design is the point where clients finally starting seeking out Caroline instead of her always needing to go out and find them. It marked a turning point in the success of her business.
This illustrates what we call the 🧲 Magnet vs 🥅 Net approach to branding your business.
👍🧲 Magnet Approach:
This approach is about being specific in stating exactly what your expertise is, exactly who you can help with your business, and exactly what makes you unique (and even a bit weird!). It’s Caroline’s version of becoming a Brand Designer. For Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨, it’s about knowing that Squarespace sites for technology-frustrated yoga instructors is the sweet spot.
When you stop being vanilla and “for everyone,” you start to ATTRACT your ideal customers and repel customers who aren’t a good fit for you (sorry spa and gym owners, these poodles aren’t oodling for you!)
👎🥅 Net Approach:
This approach is the ole “spray and pray” idea. You’re hoping if you keep things generic enough in your copy and promotion that the right customers will fall into your lap (amidst all the wrong customers).
Yet, what tends to happen is that you don’t get any customers because people don’t know if you’re the right fit. You get stuck in place and you end up taking on bad clients and doing work you don’t want to do.
By creating more clarity in who you want to help and how you can help them, you’ll 🧲 more of the right customers for your growing biz.
Remember, don’t be afraid to “repel” people at this stage of your business. The more you can become known for doing something specific really well, the better your chances are of getting paid to do that thing!
⚡️ Tip #3: Start building an email list… TODAY.
Buckle up, buttercup! It’s time to take control of your business and build an audience of people who care about what you have to offer the world.
⚠️ IMPORTANT: Any existing service-based biz owners might be thinking, “Hey, I’ve made it this far in my business, why would I start an email list and put extra work on my plate??” And the answer is three-fold:
Why you need an email list reason #1: Building an email list helps you future-proof your entire business.
The sooner you build an engaged audience (one that’s NOT at the mercy of social media algorithms), the sooner you’ll be able to start thinking about transitioning away from trading time for money. We’ll talk more about that in the next Grow It Gradually 🦋 levels below.
Why you need an email list reason #2: An email newsletter is the simplest, most vital marketing bridge to your business.
It’s a way for you to attract people out in the chaotic catacombs of the Internet and stay connected to remind them how you can solve their problems.
By showing up consistently in someone’s email inbox (where algorithms don’t punish you), you build trust and authority with them. You also give them a constant reminder of Tip #1 (who your business is for) and #2 (what your expertise is) in this email! Read more about our concept of “Marketing Bridges” here.
Why you need an email list reason #3: Your email newsletter is a lead-building opportunity.
Using our trusty biz Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 as an example, we’re not just going to say, “Sign up for cute photos of Prism the poodle 🐩.” Instead, we’re going to have a bi-weekly email newsletter that shares A) a case study of an awesome yoga website and brand we found and B) a hot, new thing we learned in Squarespace. Okay, also C) an adorable photo of Prism doing something suuuuuper cute.
You want to attract 🧲 your ideal customers to your email list and consistently show up in their inbox on a schedule you can keep up with. These subscribers will hopefully become customers as you add in callouts for client availability in your emails!
⚡️ You can NEVER start an email list early enough. Trust us, even if one day in the future you were to pivot your entire business model (which we’ve done many times over the years), the right audience will move along with you. ⚡️
Having a captivated audience you can mostly control your interaction with is extremely important in business and will be absolutely mandatory to grow to the $1,500, $3,000, $5,000, and $10,000+ biz levels.
These three tips aren’t going to immediately help you jump from $500/month to $1,500/month in your business but, spoiler alert, no one has a silver bullet to help you do that.
We’re all about that gradual, sustainable growth 🦋 around here. It helps you keep balance in your life and to avoid burnout at all costs.
Next section, we’ll jump up to the $1,500/month level of business, with new tips to help you at that stage 📈.
From $1,500 to $3,000 per month: Client Outreach, Creating an Offer, and Writing Helpful Articles
Our previous two sections have been about your client service-based business, and this section will be the last one in that arena before we start transitioning into scalable, digital products.
Too often, though, we see online biz owners try to make the leap into digital products too soon, while not building enough client runway to sustain the time that transition takes.
As a reminder, we are all about slow, methodical growth in business 🐌🐢,which often means sticking with client work for a while longer to avoid burnout and dips in business revenue.
⚡️ Tip #1: Focus one day of your week on client outreach and new client pitches.
When you’re at the $1,500 per month revenue mark with your client business, you’re probably not quite at the stage where you can cover all your bills with your profit (some folks may, and if that’s you, AWESOME 👏👏!) This is why our first tip in this section is to continually be investing time in your client outreach and potential client lead list.
Where do you find leads? Start with who you WANT to work with! Based on the previous 🦋 section’s tips, you now know the importance of getting super-specific about who your ideal client is. Use that info to search your social media channels for businesses and business owners that fit the criteria you established in the previous section.
By clearly knowing exactly who you want to work with it becomes much easier to search those clients out and put them in an outreach spreadsheet.
This leads us to this next point: Build a client outreach spreadsheet 👥
It seems like suuuuch simple advice, but we’d be willing to bet our merino wool socks most client-based biz owners do not have a client outreach spreadsheet. If that’s you, that’s okay! Now’s the time to fire up Google Sheets, Numbers, Airtable, Notion (aff link), or if you absolutely have to… Excel 😬🙈. Having a spreadsheet/database with a list of potential clients is how you keep your business organized and your leads nurtured.
🗓 Carve out one day per week to nurture your leads and create/send pitches! It is very unlikely that you’re going to grow your client roster at this stage of your business simply through your social media content creation (aka: posting on IG or TikTok) and referrals from the few clients you already have. You can’t sit back and have a, “they’ll come to me” mentality; you have to be thinking, “Let me go find them!”
This is why it’s key to put time on your calendar each week to invest in the future of your business! We actually have three sub-tips to this tip’s sub-tip 😂 #tipception:
- 🗓 Block off time on your calendar one day per week when all you’re doing is your client outreach work.
- ⚡️ Also block off time on your calendar for making your client pitches (read: cold emails) STAND OUT. You have to stand out from everyone else sending pitches and that comes with creativity and effort.
- ⏳ Plan for a 4-6 week lead-time to land a client from your spreadsheet. In that time, build a follow-up email schedule (and social follow-ups).
New clients aren’t going to fall in your lap which means more money isn’t just going to magically appear in your bank account.
⚡️Tip #2: Get creative with your client offers!
An easy trap to fall into when you’re starting a client business is to have one core service offer (which is great!) but then not give yourself permission to experiment 🧪 with other revenue-generating ideas.
For this second tip, we want to encourage you to think about a smaller, mini offer that isn’t a huge ongoing time commitment but could bring in a splash 💦 of revenue to your biz! A gradual splash, you know? A spritz. You get it.
If you recall, our fictitious business we’ve been talking about these past few sections is Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨, a Squarespace design company for yoga instructors. The main offer (website design and build) can take weeks of work to complete, so let’s brainstorm 3 other offer ideas that require less time:
OFFER IDEA 1️⃣: Squarespace bug fix day – For $500, you’ll spend a day ironing out any bugs on someone’s site. These could be CSS-related, email form setup, page organization, etc.
OFFER IDEA 2️⃣: Squarespace site setup – For $500, you’ll hop in someone’s brand new Squarespace account and get all their pages set up (Home, About, Blog, Product, and Contact), their blog started, and their settings how they want them.
OFFER IDEA 3️⃣: Homepage redesign blitz – For $500, you’ll redesign someone’s homepage and offer them two layouts as a refresh from what they have now.
As you can see with these offer ideas, they don’t take ongoing work and can create a nice bump in monthly revenue. If Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 was able to land 2-3 of these per month, that could quickly help them add $1,500 in monthly revenue without any ongoing work.
⚡️ Tip #3: Write 6-8 foundation articles that can bring you more email subscribers today and a year from now.
We like to think about foundation articles on your website like the old Chinese proverb about planting a tree: “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”
Similarly, if you’re wondering when you should get some SEO-friendly articles published on the blog of your website, the answer is as soon as possible.
Foundation articles are great for short-term and long-term (gradual) business growth.
🩳 Short-term growth – Once you have your articles written and published, you can share them on your social media channels and try to convert those folks into email subscribers. Your articles become immediate marketing opportunities. They establish trust with your audience as your followers begin to see you as a source of expertise.
👖 Long-term growth – The goal one year from now is that the almighty Google (or Bing – LOL) has seen your article(s) as helpful for certain keyword searches and you’re getting organic traffic to your site which converts into new email subscribers!
If you’ve been putting off writing articles that can build organic traffic (which lead to new email subscribers) it’s time to stop delaying this task!
What are “foundation articles?” Plain and simple, they are helpful articles that can attract your ideal customer based on problems they’re searching for on Google. Shall we take a look at some examples for our friend at Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨? We should?? Okay, then!
- Article topic: 3 things your website needs to book more yoga students
- Article topic: Best practices for a yoga studio website design
- Article topic: This is the best Squarespace template for yoga studios
- Article topic: How to host online yoga classes through a Squarespace website
- Article topic: Yoga website inspiration to get more yoga students
- Article topic: How to create a yoga studio brand and website people love
These are not perfect ideas BUT there are no perfect ideas in any part of business! You want to do a bit of search term research (which we did for those 6 article ideas) and adapt what you find to fit what your ideal customer is looking for.
Next section we’re going to venture past the client-side of growing your business gradually!
From $3,000 to $5,000 per month: Validate and Build Your Digital Product
We absolutely HAVE to start this section off with a big disclaimer:
*Maybe those people are trying to sell you a product that makes it look “easy?” Remember that the next time you get sucked into a “how to grow your digital product biz to $X,000s in just 4 weeks” rabbit hole 😉.
The reason we give you this disclaimer is NOT to discourage you, it’s just to be HONEST with you.
The reality of online business is that it’s much harder, more stressful, and takes a ton more trial and error than you’re led to believe. We know you CAN do it, we just like to be 100% real about what it takes so that when you hit obstacles, you don’t think there’s something inherently wrong with you.
⚡️ Tip #1: Create and validate your first digital product idea.
Now that your client business is humming along, you’re probably at max capacity and can’t grow your revenue much further because you don’t have any extra time in your day/weeks to take on any more clients. This is why building a digital product is sooooooo helpful, because it’s a scalable asset that can generate revenue well beyond what you could ever make with clients and the limitations of your time.
In our experience, we’ve found some of our most successful digital product ideas have been born out of our existing client service offerings.
For example, 👩🏻🦰 Caroline’s brand design business could only take on so many branding clients. As she got more and more requests, she realized she might be able to teach all her branding processes in an online course that anyone could take at their own leisure. Thus, Better Branding Course was born, a digital product that eventually replaced Caroline’s brand design business completely!
How do you find a digital product idea?
How do you validate that idea?
How do you make sure it fits within your current biz?
😱 We have an entire (paid) coaching session we’re going to let you watch IN FULL right now…
Our Identifying Your Offer 💡 coaching session replay will help you come up with a digital product idea that can be the foundation of your business revenue.
⚡️Tip #2: Once you have a validated digital product idea it’s time to build it and make it available for purchase!
You came up with a digital product idea, happy dance for you 👏👏. Now, let’s build that sucker and give strangers on the Internet a way to purchase it from you. Whether you’re creating an e-book, online course, or paid membership community, these next tips should apply.
Building a digital product, boiled down into 10 not-easy-but-totally-doable steps:
- Write a down and dirty outline of what will be included in your product (start ugly!)
- Refine your outline into a cohesive structure (chapters, lessons, videos, etc)
- Build a creation schedule for each part of your product (put this creation time on your calendar and then DOUBLE the amount of time you think you’ll need!)
- Be okay with an imperfect first version of your product – NO ONE builds a great, first digital product
- Send your digital product to a few industry-friends who can give you feedback or thoughts (try to avoid sending to friends and family who don’t have experience in what you’re trying to do)
- Find beta testers from your social channels or email list to go through your digital product (this can be a huuuuge discounted price or free – your goal is more feedback and to ensure it delivers value)
- Take all feedback and give yourself X amount of hours to implement the feedback (but stop when you hit the constrained timeline)
- Build a sales page for your digital product on your website! If your website doesn’t have a built-in e-commerce option to sell things, consider using Gumroad.com or similar to create a buy button.
- Write 3-5 sales emails and create a handful of social media posts to promote your new digital product
- Do a small “launch” of your product to your email and social audience (feel free to do a discount code for the first week of your product launch)
Annnnnnnnnd BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE! 💥 You have a digital product in your business-arsenal! It’s a thing people can purchase from you that doesn’t require additional time investment the way your client service offers do. Hurrrrray! 🎉
⚡️ Tip #3: Create a monthly promotion schedule for your digital product.
And here’s where the train goes off the rails for most folks who are trying to make the client-to-product leap. They 1) find their product idea, 2) make their product, and 3) sell it (ONLY) one time. And then… 🦗🦗🦗.
Life gets busy, clients pick back up, maybe the first launch doesn’t quite go very well (we’ve all been there!)
That’s where this tip comes into play and should absolutely help you generate ongoing consistent digital product revenue!
Your (new) digital product NEEDS a monthly promotion schedule. To create that consistent, gradual 🦋 revenue bump you’re looking for, it takes ongoing effort – especially early on.
Here are some digital product promotion ideas to try:
💻 Monthly free live workshops (aka webinars)
Hosting a free monthly workshop is a fantastic way to generate attention and potential buyers of your digital product. The idea is to solve a problem with the workshop topic, that people can attend for free, and then at the end of the workshop sell the digital product (which further solves the problem of the workshop).
- Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 is going to create 12 workshops based on 12 Squarespace website creation tips! This is the perfect lead-in to their course: Squarespace website creation course for non-designers.
- 👉 NOTE: If you join our WAIM Unlimited coaching program, you have access to an entire coaching session about creating live workshops (Using Live Workshops Effectively 📹🔴)
🎥 In-depth tutorials videos on YouTube
Creating in-depth tutorial videos is akin to writing those foundation articles we talked about last month! You want to identify topics your ideal customer is searching for and create helpful videos that educate them on that topic. Then, in every video, make sure there’s a call to action to get more helpful info via the digital product.
- Oodles of Poodles 🐩🎨 could take a similar approach as used in the workshop example above and publish video tutorials on each Squarespace feature they want to highlight!
If these two ideas don’t tickle your fancy, we have an in-depth article with 13 marketing blueprints you can steal and implement for your biz.
No matter which content/marketing idea you use, the key is to do it consistently to build trust and authority around your digital product topic.
And just a friendly reminder: We started with client businesses, gradually transitioned into digital products, and now a few years later we only have digital product businesses that afford us the freedom we always dreamed of (both in time and in enough revenue).
It is absolutely possible for you as well it just may take longer than you’re being told by the “experts” out there.
From $5,000 to $10,000 per month: Hone Your Messaging, Learn How To Launch, and Partner Up
At this stage in your business, it may feel like you’re in constant juggling-mode 🤹♀️🤹♂️🤹 (you’re not alone!)
Our hope for this section is to share three tips that absolutely changed the game for us, but it’s important to remember these next tips came AFTER we did all of the things in the previous sections. Notice we’re going from $5k to $10k here, NOT $1k to $10k (that’s important!)
⚡️ Tip #1: Hone your product messaging. What problem are you solving for people?
You probably read that tip and were thinking, “um, hey Jason and Caroline, how does honing my messaging help put dollar-dollar-billz in my bank account?” And to that, we would answer, “keep reading, ya silly goose! 😂”
Very quickly, let’s jump into the Wandering Aimfully (WAIM) Time Machine™ and take you back to the summer of 2019. Our WAIM business had been chugging along for almost two years, but we didn’t quite feel like we had our messaging locked in.
Here’s our exact monthly revenue back in 2019, sitting right between the $5k and $10k mark where it seemed to have stalled out:
The problem we were solving for our customers was a bit vague and our product itself wasn’t selling like proverbial hotcakes 🥞. We knew we could help transform the businesses of our customers, but that clearly wasn’t coming through in our marketing.
It was at that moment we decided to get laser-focused on what our core product should be, who it should be for, and how someone would know it was absolutely right for them.
Fast forward a few months and we did our first launch (more on this in Tip #2!) of our Un-Boring Group Coaching Program. This was the first launch of WAIM that really exceeded our sales goals, and we finally saw the traction we’d been searching for!
So, what specifically did we change?
- We dialed in exactly who we wanted to help: Burned out online biz owners who were tired of feeling overwhelmed and pulled in a million different directions, without any revenue results to show for it.
- We created a specific product that someone could easily understand: 6 months of live business coaching, with one topic to focus on every month to grow their biz with intention.
- We drastically adjusted our messaging to be less about the “features”(you get course lessons, videos, PDFs, etc) to the BENEFITS (you will grow your revenue, you will feel less stressed out, you will have a plan of action, you will feel in control of your biz!)
Those three items, together, are what helped us springboard to the next level in our business revenue. It’s soooo easy to continue to use the same messaging and copy you always have, but we believe you should be auditing these things often.
⚡️Tip #2: Do an open and closed launch of your digital product 🚀.
Open and closed launches are one of our favorite ways to generate our business revenue (especially to create a jump in 💰💰).
If you aren’t familiar with them, an open and closed launch is simply a set period of time when you “open the cart” and allow people to purchase your product. This creates the urgency to purchase but more importantly, puts YOU in control of when you have to be in sales mode.
We shifted our WAIM biz model to bi-annual open and closed launches back in 2019, and we’ve been loving the flexibility, freedom, and predictable injections of revenue ever since!
👋 IMPORTANT NOTE: If you’re doing your first-ever launch, think of it less about just getting sales and more about learning and testing your assumptions…
🤔 Is your messaging from Tip #1 resonating with people during your launch, or are they asking a lot of questions about your product/who it’s for?
🤔🤔 Have you had a bad launch before? That’s okay! Don’t compare a previous launch of a completely different product to what you’re selling now.
🤔🤔🤔 Does selling still feel icky to you? Prove to yourself that selling doesn’t have to be sleazy and that people on your email list/social don’t mind being sold to (when what you are selling can actually benefit their livelihood!)
If you get a launch or two under your belt and your customers aren’t buying at quite the pace you expected, consider offering a lower-priced “entry” version of your product. This is exactly what we did with that 6-Month Group Coaching package we mentioned. We still had our larger ($2,000) offer, but the coaching package was $100 per month for six months ($600 total, obvs). We found the “entry” product became a solid source of immediate revenue but then also led to those happy customers upgrading to our larger product when the six months finished up.
Hey….. Guess what, chicken butt? We also have a FULL coaching session within our WAIM Unlimited program called Sales Launch Start to Finish 🚀. This coaching session teaches everything we know about launching and what we’ve learned that works really well for our bi-annual launch schedule.
⚡️ Tip #3: It’s time to utilize effective partnerships.
✅ You’ve nailed your messaging.
✅ You’ve done your first launch or two.
✅ You feel like you have all your business-ducks 🦆📊 in a row, it’s now time to find more ducks! (We know, we’re mixing metaphors in this section, it’s FINE.)
This is the tactic too many online biz owners jump to way too early in the game. They pour effort and energy into marketing, except the thing they are marketing (their offer) isn’t working that well yet so it’s (somewhat) wasted effort.
Sure, we always want you amazing humans to be doing more marketing than you currently are, but we don’t want you to expend all that effort without having all the foundational stuff in place.
That said, once you DO have your offer locked in, one of the MOST effective marketing tactics to get a bump in revenue is to partner up with someone who has a highly engaged audience in your product arena.
You want to find someone who is willing to share the spotlight with you and promote your product to their audience so they can make a sweet % of revenue without having to create your offer themselves. Your pitch to someone in this position is that you’ll give them as much as 50% of product revenue sold during the partner event and they’ll promote the initial signup of the event to their audience.
Example: Our friends at Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 (our example biz that does Squarespace design work for yoga instructors and also teaches a Squarespace design course) are going to partner up with a prominent Squarespace template company: Temptation Templates 💋🖥.
- They’re going to co-host an action-packed free webinar that teaches Five Foundational Tips for Great Performing Squarespace Sites.
- Temptation Templates 💋🖥 is going to promote the webinar signup to their audience for a few weeks leading up to the live event.
- During the live event, Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 is going to lay down the gauntlet of helpful Squarespace advice and then both parties will promote Poodles’ Squarespace Design Course. Temptation Templates 💋🖥 may even throw in a free template to sweeten the deal and boost those sales.
- They’ll split the revenue 50/50 and give the webinar attendees the option (not automatic!) to opt-in to both email newsletters for both businesses!
The great news about partnerships? There are MANY ducks in the sea! (We had to bring the ducks back and mix just one more metaphor in here).
If your first partnership doesn’t work out, figure out why. Just like one lackluster product launch doesn’t mean all launches won’t work, a partnership effort that falls flat doesn’t mean all partnerships won’t work!
And remember, especially with Tip #3, you’re NOT trying to do everything at one time. You can space these tactics out and you can tackle them on a schedule that works for your life and biz. We’re all about that slow 🐌 and steady 🐢 pace around here.
As with all of the tips we’ve been sharing these past few sections, these come from our very personal experiences.
These aren’t just theories we’re conjuring up from our business crystal ball 🔮, these are well-worn strategies we’ve implemented to help us make real jumps in our biz revenue.
We know these can work for you, it’s just about carving out the time to make them happen while having an experimenter’s mindset.
From $10,000 to $10,000++ per month: Create a Content Strategy, Add Affiliates, and Focus on Amplification
It wouldn’t be a section in this article if we didn’t give a big, juicy caveat before sharing these last three tips with you:
Growing your business to $10,000++/month and beyond is NOT a requirement for a “successful business.”
It’s not the only way to reach your dreams and goals in life. Most of those can actually probably be done with less money (as many studies have shown). Always remember this, friend, when you catch yourself thinking your worth as a business owner can be measured in dollars. IT CAN’T.
These last tips will show you the exact steps that helped us take a leap to reach our “enough number” in business revenue, where we happily sit and don’t need to grow just for growth’s sake.
⚡️ Tip #1: Dial in your content strategy.
At this point in business, you most likely have a few content things going on: An awesome weekly email newsletter; a fun-but-helpful podcast; an info-packed YouTube channel; a pin-worthy Pinterest plan; an interestingly-designed IG grid, etc, etc.
But, what you might not have, is a clear directive and STRATEGY for each of those content buckets. You may also not have a clue if any of them are direct contributors to your revenue (if you do, kudos to you, we did not at this stage of biz 😂🤣).
Here are some examples of how to think about your content channels and having a clear plan about how they lead back to your overall sales strategy:
📬 Your Email Newsletter: This is your real-time, value-packed piece of trust-building content with your audience. You want to have a clearly defined schedule your audience can get used to as well as a specific outcome they can expect with each email they receive. Then (and this is the strategy part) make sure you have a business objective being met in EVERY email as well as a lead-up plan for your product launches.
- Example: The lovely and talented folks at Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 have their Squarespace Sunday Selection emails. It’s a newsletter that contains (1) an actionable Squarespace design tip, (2) a new, awesome Squarespace template or inspiration-worthy site, and (3) a callout to purchase their Squarespace website creation course for non-designers – highlighting a different tip or lesson from the course.
🎙 Your Podcast: This is one of your strongest connection points to your audience, even though podcasting is a very passive listen. The reason it’s such a strong connection point is because it’s a somewhat intimate relationship. People listen to podcasts while living out their day-to-day lives and you get to be alongside them in those moments! You know, doing the dishes, driving to work, walking the dog, taking a shower, etc. But the trick with making a podcast strategic is to ensure you have reminders of the product you offer in each episode!
- Example: Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 has an awesome podcast called Grooming Squarespace 🎙✂️. It’s a weekly show that delivers Squarespace tips and gives non-designers an insight into leveraging the platform to grow their businesses. (It’s also a clever pun for grooming dogs!) The strategic part becomes ensuring there’s always a callout to signup for the free Squarespace Tips email series, which is an easy-to-remember URL only for podcast listeners!
We think you get the idea with each content channel, but the key is to make sure you’re not just churning out content without thinking strategically of how it can impact your business.
You might be thinking, “great, I can do all those strategy things, but how do I see the actual ROI of my content efforts??”
⭐️ SUCH A GREAT QUESTION! Thank you for asking…
You create a post-purchase survey!
Using a post-purchase survey to help you understand content ROI…
A post-purchase survey is an embedded form or a linked form your customer sees immediately after buying your product. In that survey, you can ask a series of questions but one of the most important things you can ask is: “How did you hear about this product?” And you list out your content channels!
When we finally implemented a post-purchase survey (a Typeform embedded directly on our “thanks for buying” page), we found some really interesting data points:
- 🎙 12% of our WAIM Unlimited customers find us through our podcast
- 🎥 9% of our customers find us through our YouTube channel
- 🤳 8% of our customers find us through our IG account
That’s AWESOME for us to learn! Mostly because a content strategy can feel a lot like being on a never-ending hamster wheel. But, that hamster wheel gets easier to ride when you can see a certain % of your revenue comes from specific channels!
The post-purchase survey is also a great way to identify any content channels you might not be loving and thinking about cutting out. If your customers aren’t finding you through a certain channel, this can give you the data point you need to stop investing time and energy into that channel 💪💪. For us, this was Instagram and what helped us decide to stop using Instgram for WAIM at the end of 2021. (And our revenue has NOT plummeted since!)
⚡️Tip #2: Create an affiliate program.
Okay, we could write a 2,000+ word article just on creating an affiliate program, but we’re going to distill it down to the actionable stuff we hope can help you right away.
Affiliates Part 1️⃣ – You absolutely need to have your product dialed in, your messaging nailed, and your entire customer journey working well BEFORE you add affiliates.
Adding affiliates to your business when things are on shaky ground is only going to cause headaches in the future (and create possible bad relationships). Our advice is to only move forward with affiliates if things are humming along smoothly!
- 🕰️ NOTE: We didn’t add affiliates into the mix for WAIM Unlimited until the third year of our business. We had customers asking about it before then but it wasn’t the right time as our foundation wasn’t as solid as it could be.
Affiliates Part 2️⃣ – Find the affiliate platform that best fits with your website and offer.
For us, we use Affiliate WP (aff link) which is a WordPress plugin built by the same company that we use for our Membership Program (Restrict Content Pro – also aff link). There are MANY affiliate programs available so just be sure you pick the one that fits right with your website.
- Example: The good-boy-alert dog-lovers over at Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 will probably use MemberSpace (with Rewardful) as they’re a Squarespace-specific affiliate
Affiliates Part 3️⃣ – Set your affiliate commission and put in effort to prepare your affiliates for success!
We do the following for our WAIM Affiliates:
- Give a 40% commission (yes, 40% – we want it to kick ass and we love knowing our payouts can actually be a substantial source of income for our affiliates! To us, this is just part of taking care of our customers.)
- Create an in-depth Affiliate Area walkthrough video
- Share a “WAIM Launch Plan” with pre-written emails, prompts, and lots of information about our business they can use in their marketing to promote WAIM
- Offer up pre-designed (and also customizable) assets to make sharing our program easy on any social platform
- Have thorough FAQs we constantly update with common questions
- Make asking us additional questions extremely simple and straightforward
- Send lots of email and Slack affiliate reminders before and during our open enrollment periods!
Affiliates Part 4️⃣ – Be in constant communication to create a strong relationship with your affiliates.
The last thing you want to do is leave your affiliates feeling like they have to do everything on their own. You want to make their promotional efforts as SIMPLE as possible so it’s a no-brainer for them to promote and support your program.
As a fun note to finish off this tip, in our previous two WAIM Unlimited launches, affiliates have accounted for 50% of our new members! 👏👏👏 We’ve had a sizable jump in revenue with each launch due to affiliates and love that new customers are joining our program from existing members!
⚡️ Tip #3: Amplify the marketing bridges that are working!
Once you work through the tips of the previous section and Tips #1 and #2 in this section, it’s probably time to pour a little biz-accelerant on your marketing fires.
What content channel is working THE BEST for you?
Is it your podcast? Your YouTube channel? Pinterest? IG? Etc? Whichever one it is, you want to identify it and brainstorm ways to pour biz-fuel on that wonderful, very safe and not hot, marketing fire 🔥!
Our last example for our dog-loving Squarespace compadres: Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 has a weekly podcast we told you about in Tip #1 called Grooming Squarespace 🎙✂️. Poods’ has noticed an uptick in podcast listenership and has seen a good amount of people have been visiting the podcast-only page they direct people to on their website for more helpful Squarespace Tips. They’ve also done a recent launch and noticed 15% of their new customers found them via the podcast (rad!)
Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 is going to focus on growing their podcast listenership by trying to appear on other podcasts. They take the time to research the top 20-40 Squarespace-related podcasts (or design-related podcast where Squarespace is mentioned) and they build an outreach plan to be a guest on these podcasts – making sure they only reach out to shows who have guests. Their pitch is to appear as a podcast guest and share an actionable set of Squarespace tactics most people don’t know about. This helps the other podcast hosts know value will be given to their audience and it’s not just a random pitch hitting their inbox.
Showing up on these other podcasts gives Oodles of Poodles 🎨🐩 a chance to promote their Grooming Squarespace 🎙✂️ podcast and increase their audience!
It might not be a podcast you’re going to amplify but the key in this final tip is to look for a marketing channel that’s already having some amount of success and growth and 🔥 it up a bit!
⚡️⚡️ BONUS TIPPPPP: All the tactics in the world are useless if you can’t get things done.
We couldn’t finish the final 🦋 section with just three tips, could we??
When we get asked how we run TWO online businesses and create all the content/stuff we create, with virtually NO team at all (we do have two developers for our software app Teachery), the answer is PROCESSES.
Need to write a weekly email newsletter? Here’s our process:
- We brainstorm the content together and jot down bullet points
- I (👨🏻🦲 Jason) write a rough first draft in Notes app, then add it to our email newsletter template in Notion
- Caroline 👩🏻🦰 goes through the draft and makes it great 😉
- I take it from Notion, put it into our email provider, add in any fancy images/color formatting, and then schedule it for sending
That may sound simple, but it’s a repeatable process. It’s what’s helped us write and send 800+ email newsletters over the past 8 years.
We have similar processes for our podcast, YouTube channel, articles, IG posts (R.I.P. ☠️), monthly live coaching curriculums, customer update emails, new products we build, new features we add to our software app Teachery, etc.
We also have daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual meetings together. Those meetings have a structure to help us know what to focus on and how to keep the WAIM Train 🚂 moving forward!
Good processes, ones that you hone yourself from experience and learning from people who do the things you want to be doing, are how you can get more stuff done AND not burn yourself out.
*We do want to acknowledge that not having kids (yet) makes our output a lot easier. That’s an intentional choice we’ve made. We also want to acknowledge our inherent privileges (things like our education, upbringing, being neurotypical) that we know contribute to our ability to create processes and execute within them. We know this might not be as simple for everyone, but we hope you’ll lean into what works for your brain, your life, and your circumstances!
Conclusion: You Have The Grow It Gradually Plan!
Hurrrrrraaaayyyyyyy for you making it through this Grow It Gradually 🦋 article (hopefully you didn’t just click through to this section looking for a silly GIF of us 👀😂).
There is NO straight line to success but there is a clear path we’ve followed and we believe you can follow too (with your own tweaks along the way!) Just remember: NO one jumps from $0 per month to making $10,000++ per month overnight or even in a few weeks/months.
What we’ve shared in this article is yours to come back to as often as you like! As un-boring coaches, we’re happy to support your journey as much as we can but YOU have to do the work. We can guide you and teach you from all our personal experiences but we can’t build your business for you.
You can do this.
You’ve got a plan of action.
Carve out the time and space but go at YOUR pace 🐌🐢🦋.
And now, your silly dancing GIF of us to celebrate!