Updated: Apr 26
Oh my goodness - the last year has been SUCH a steep learning curve for me!
I've gone from running a busy high street hypnotherapy practice to jumping firmly into the online world - partly given a nudge by lockdown, but mostly because I had dreams of expanding into the online space and bringing in passive income through courses too.
Easy peasy! Or so I thought... I turned out I didn't have the first CLUE about online marketing and it's been one of the biggest, scariest - and best journeys of my life.
Now I teach others to do the same - and today I want to share MY biggest lessons so YOU can avoid the pitfalls!
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Need help with Imposter Syndrome? Here are 5 ways you can feel more confident now
It’s absolutely scorching as I’m recording this so I hope you’ve enjoyed the sun!
I thought I’d share with you today EVERYTHING I’ve done wrong in my business - which is a lot! There are some super-powerful lessons in here though and it might just help you avoid making the same mistakes I’ve made - and if it does that I’ll have done my job!
So maybe I need to explain how things came together for me so you can see how it all evolved and whether you relate to any of this.
I had planned to evolve my business anyway when lockdown hit us last March. I was mulling over creating some online courses, at the time I was doing a lot of work around weight management, eating habits and creating a good relationship with food, alongside a friend who was a nutritionist… and we had a bit of a plan to launch a fantastic course together to really help people move to a healthier place in their relationship with food. I had some other ideas of my own, too, and was really excited about getting them out there. And then - boom! All of a sudden it didn’t seem such a great time to be launching, we both got swept up in the mad juggling act of childcare and trying to work. We decided to pare things back and eventually it just fizzled out. So I set up my own Facebook group to just do weekly relaxation sessions to help stressed out people cope with Covid, then kind of randomly decided to have a go at doing a 5 day challenge which I called 5 Days to Feeling Calmer. And I had absolutely NO idea what I was doing or why I was doing it, which is probably the first big mistake to mention! I still managed to get something like 20 people in the first round of the challenge and I ran it 2 more times. People absolutely LOVED it! But I think for the first couple of rounds I didn’t even have anything to sell at the end of it - I gave away a free relaxation track and maybe tried to get people to join my mailing list? But that was about it. I had no idea who my ideal client was, it was just for anyone and everyone that was feeling a bit stressed and needed some help feeling calmer. I LOVED doing it! And it was brilliant seeing the participants who really engaged getting so much out of it - but lots of them tailed off and I never heard from them again. By the third round I’d decided I could make this something bigger - I wanted to create a membership because I just KNEW I could do so much more for people. I was so excited about the idea, I planned a launch date just 2 weeks ahead. I signed up to a membership portal, took a deep breath and decided to part with the £70 a month or so they were asking.
I ran my challenge again, talked about the membership in the one Facebook networking group I was in… and I think that was about it in terms of promotion. Oh, and I ran a competition in my group (which was maybe 120 people by that point?), hoping that would get shared far and wide. It didn’t! I had one entrant and they got free membership for 6 months. Still… when I launched my membership, I had a couple of people from the challenge sign up, one wonderful lady from the networking group (she clearly saw great things ahead), I think 3 ex-clients… and I gave free spaces to my mum and my best friend, as you do. So I think I launched to a total of 6 paying subscribers, which was just about enough to cover the monthly fee of the portal. A LOT of hard work for not much reward! But I was determined and wanted it to grow, so I kept showing up, recording weekly training sessions for the members (which a few of them watched diligently, bless them) and mentioning it occasionally to my very limited audience.
Probably a couple of months in, I started to get pretty fed up with not seeing it grow. I sure as hell hadn’t expected it to be this hard… what was wrong with my membership? Could people not SEE how amazing this would be for their lives? The members were getting incredible results, massive improvements in their confidence… but it felt like the outside world just couldn’t see that, though I KNEW there were so many people out there that needed this!
Giving up was just not an option for me - I had the bit between my teeth by then. So, I started to ask questions and get curious about what I could do to make it work. And THEN began my whole journey into online marketing and understanding how to grow an online business and make it work. And it’s been quite a ride, I can tell you!
Need help with Imposter Syndrome? Here are 5 ways you can feel more confident now Along the way I also decided to move my 1:1 clients online and transition into high ticket coaching too - because I recognised that would really help me build a business that was less dependent on my time and allow me to provide a really high touch service. In my old model I would have needed to spend 10-15 hours per week on client sessions to even hit my first income goal of enough to pay my share of the bills… and I knew I also needed to start saving for retirement, pay off debts I’d incurred in my old business and frankly start living the life I wanted to live - renovating the house, having money for holidays etc.
We often think to ourselves “money doesn’t really matter to me” but if you start to add up even basic things like having a decent income in retirement, it really starts to add up! So, anyway, over the past 12 months I’ve transitioned that little high street hypnotherapy business into an online coaching business with a fantastic membership for entrepreneurs who need mindset and strategic support to grow their businesses, and I’m fully booked with 1:1 clients I LOVE working with. When I say fully booked, I see 5 1:1s at any one time and that’s 3 weeks in 4.
So here are the mistakes I made in those early stages and how to avoid them!
Doing things without a real ‘why’
When I launched those challenges and the membership, I had a ‘why’ in terms of wanting to help people and wanting to build my business and make some income online. But I didn’t have a ‘why’ in terms of doing things that strategically aligned with the future business I wanted to create. I didn’t even have a plan for that future business and what that might look like - I had no long-term plan or idea of what business model might best suit me. I was just trying random things and winging it! GREAT for learning, great for challenging yourself - not so good for actually getting results!
Not having a clue
I didn’t really know what I was doing with a membership - in terms of I’d done no research, didn’t know what other models existed, just thought it sounded fun and had an idea of what I could cover content-wise in the first 6 months. And that was great for experimenting but I now think I overloaded my audience with content, spent a lot of time on things that weren’t going to help actually grow it, and really started to run out of steam a few months in when I was thinking - “what the heck do I talk about now”?!
Not having an ideal client
Was, in hindsight, a massive part of the problem. For the content in the membership - because creating really generic content that appeals to everyone is really hard in the longer term! Actually you can NEVER appeal to everyone. And it was the same with my marketing. Not having an ideal client or at least a target market in mind meant I struggled to know what to talk about and where to get my message seen and heard. And I struggled to attract people that would be willing to pay, even for a low-cost offering, because my messaging didn’t specifically appeal to anyone. Until people can see that something is for them, they don’t emotionally connect with it - no matter how great WE know it is! Getting clear on who I was for and how I could help them was a complete game changer in terms of my marketing and everything just flowed SO much more easily after that.
Not having an audience
MASSIVE rookie mistake! I was in a local networking group for mums in business and I could see that lots of them were struggling with the exact problems I was solving in my membership. I thought they would be biting my hand off to have me help them sort out their anxiety and confidence issues- but only one of them did. That goes back to the ideal client thing… but I also didn’t realise that you needed a decent sized audience. Yes people DO buy based on know, like and trust - but ONLY when they’re ready and ONLY if your service or product specifically serves their most urgent needs. That means that very often, unless you’ve got a very well nurtured, warm audience, you’ll only see a very low percentage of your offers convert in to sales. Yes I could help them, yes they would have benefited from it but I didn’t do a good enough job of explaining it, they weren’t my audience anyway and they weren’t looking for help! Those things are so crucial.
Not sharing my stuff enough
I posted my offer a few times in that networking group and a couple of times to my email list. Then I thought I’d better not do it again for fear of upsetting them all and making them unsubscribe. BIG mistake! We worry so much about putting people off and being constantly in their faces. But here’s the thing… most people haven’t even SEEN your post. Or haven’t really paid attention to it. This is one of the biggest things I come across with clients, they’re really scared of putting their message out there. But guess what… the more we work on their confidence and the more they do it, the more sales they make! It’s something you really have to find a way to get comfortable with.
Being wishy washy in my outcomes
I see this a LOT with therapists and coaches. So I would talk a lot about overcoming anxiety, finding confidence to do whatever you want in life, feeling calmer and more relaxed. Because I know those are things I hugely valued from my own experience of having hypnotherapy. The problem was, they didn’t really mean much to people, especially people who were struggling and really needed my help! So going waaaaay deeper in my marketing messaging and understanding how to communicate what I was offering was a huge turning point.
At which point, I have to talk about...
Not investing in a coach
I thought I could figure things out the DIY was for SO long. I think it took me 5 months of seeing no results for the penny to drop that maybe I needed to get some help with this! It’s so true that you don’t know what you don’t know. Working with someone who taught me the basics of how to break down your messaging and how to build a marketing strategy was eye opening. I think if I hadn’t done that and had continued to try to build a business from free downloads and webinars, I’d still be in exactly the same place now, almost a year on. Sometimes you just need to invest and learn from someone who’s been there!
Expecting it all to happen yesterday
That said, even having invested in coaching I didn’t immediately start to get clients. I feel like this is really important because there is such a lot of BS out there about getting clients overnight and it’s rare that happens! What it did do was it gave me the building blocks to go away and keep trying, tweaking and refining what I was putting out there and the reassurance that if I kept connecting with my audience in the longer term, it would pay off. And eventually, it did! Time is one of the biggest factors in building a business and you need to have the mental resilience to just persevere and keep trying. The people who persevere are the ones who succeed!
Getting carried away rather than slowing it down and being strategic
I just rushed straight in there with my membership, from idea to up and running within about a fortnight. NO plan, no strategy, no marketing campaign. As I say, I didn’t have a clue that by doing things properly, focusing on building and nurturing an audience first I would have had a MUCH more successful launch. Sometimes it’s really beneficial to just slow down, think things through and make a proper plan - not something that comes naturally to me but something I’ve really learnt!
Doing too much for the membership and not charging enough
I put a LOT of time and effort into my membership when it was first launched. I still put a lot of effort in now, don’t get me wrong! But you actually need to do WAY less than you think - that goes for online courses and programmes too. We often feel the need to give, give, give or discount, discount, discount to make our services worth it - that old money mindset thing again! And you think by doing that, you’re delivering fantastic value - but what’s actually happening is that your audience are starting to feel overwhelmed and under pressure to keep up. Finding that balance has been a real revelation and has made it so much easier, and I really enjoy having my membership as part of my business model now it’s not taking all my time and energy!
Giving away freebies
This is another lesson I really learned from setting up the membership and giving away some free places - people really value what they pay for. You think you’re going to boost your numbers and make your community bigger and better by cutting costs or giving away freebies… but what actually happens is you end up with a few members who have paid and are really there because they want to be, and they’re determined to get the most out of their investment… and then a few who are there because it’s very kind that you’ve invited them in for free but they’re really not that motivated to engage. The people who are willing to invest with you for lower priced services are also likely to be those who will invest in your higher end offerings - it’s just worth thinking about that rather than jumping straight into lots of freebies!
Being at the mercy of social media
Honestly - don’t do it! I had a real scattergun approach to social media in the beginning and just tried to be everywhere, with the result that I was barely off my phone, and I could feel my anxiety levels starting to rise because I was just constantly checking in to see what had happened. I evolved the Facebook group I’d set up into a group for entrepreneurs, once I’d established who my audience was and who I really wanted to serve. But I really made a rod for my own back - not through anyone else’s expectations but through my own. I’d convinced myself that I had to post all the time and had to be a constant presence in that group to make it worthwhile. Then early this year I had a real breakthrough moment when I realised that there were much smarter ways of marketing and things that would align much more with who I am and where my energy works best - like this podcast! So my fab Facebook group still exists but now it’s much more about community and networking rather than just me showing up in the group all the time and writing long posts I’ve laboured over for hours. I still provide plenty of tips and insights in there but I’ve made it so much easier for myself. And the funny thing is, my engagement has really gone up since I’ve done that! As always, it’s about working smarter not harder and that’s something that has really become a focus for me in terms of helping my clients to do the same. Because I just don’t want to spend my life attached to my phone - I want to live! And I’m sure you can get on board with that, too.
So that’s my list of lessons for today - there are MANY more I could share, I’m sure, and I will be bringing you some of those and some of the ones I’ve talked about today in more detail down the line.
But for now, if anything has resonated with you today and you’d like a little more support then feel free to email me, or to pop into our free Unapologetic - a community for women who mean business community on Facebook and ask a question - and I’ll come right back with something to help you move forward.
Need help with Imposter Syndrome? Here are 5 ways you can feel more confident now