Transitioning Out of Service Work KDS:057

Transitioning from one thing to another can be a challenge, but sometimes you know you need to do it.

That’s what we’re talking about today.

I LOVE getting questions from people that inspire content, whether it’s a podcast episode, written post, or email.

For starters, it makes me happy that people feel comfortable enough to reach out and ask me, especially when it’s something that strikes a nerve for them.

I don’t know that there’s a better compliment than being a safe space for someone when they need it.

Here’s the question that inspired this episode, and I thought it would be most helpful/beneficial if I answered it here.

“How did you transition from a service company to a consultant? Or service to teacher/consultant?”

And a big thank you to Tess for emailing and asking. 😊

I’ve also told elements of my story plenty of times so I may try to condense some of it for those of you who already know it.  

I have a feeling this might be a long episode, so let’s jump right into it.

To refresh your memory, when I started my business in 2008 I thought I was going to be an information marketer.

I wasn’t technical at all, knew just enough about online marketing to jump in and was simply committed to making it work.

I had zero intentions of EVER building websites, but one thing led to another and within the first 6 months of starting my business I had become “The WordPress Chick” and was building WordPress websites.

Here’s a quick rundown of that journey.

As I began doing that I started creating content. I realized I didn’t want to learn to code or program so I started hiring outsourcers. The next thing I knew I had a team, started offering coaching and many of my coaching clients also wanted a developer or designer they could use for outsourcing work.

Around the same time I had started my podcast (2013).

This is when I felt things starting to shift, meaning, I knew there was something else I was supposed to do beyond the work I was doing. Mainly because I found myself enjoying my business like I hadn’t in a long time.

It took me a while before I actually cut the cord.

I continued with websites and the outsourcing company until the end of 2016. During that time I had also launched a done-for-you podcasting service called “Influence Podcasting” (which I will admit was a pretty great name and I loved the branding).

I had great success with the podcasting service, but it was still service work.

One thing I hear over and over again from people who are doing service work but aren’t loving it (there are plenty of people who prefer it, so this isn’t about service work i.e., agencies, etc. not being a great business model) is that they never have time to “work on their stuff.”

Which is something I always felt too.

It’s a bit of a catch-22 when the work you don’t enjoy doing is paying the bills and the work you’d rather be doing hasn’t started bringing in income.

The catalyst for me was when I decided to partner and launch a SaaS with a friend (I’m sure many of you remember that journey as well. The company was called LeadSurveys and the product was an opt-in that segmented subscribers from the first point of contact).

I did an entire podcast episode on why that didn’t work, and I’m happy to say I’m still friends with the guy I partnered with.

There are a handful of reasons I can see that it was a good thing that didn’t work out, but a couple are:

  • ConvertBox does everything we wanted LeadSurveys to do
  • Software support sucks… just being honest
  • While I thought I was launching LeadSurveys I had started a Facebook Group, Content Creators, with zero expectations
  • It’s probably safe to say I wouldn’t have launched the Content Creators Planner

Because I had made the decision to go all in with LeadSurveys, I also wanted to shut down the outsourcing company. Even though it didn’t really involve a lot on my end, I knew I needed to “draw the line in the sand” so-to-speak.

I had a couple of web projects still going on that would wrap up by the end of the first quarter of 2017, but I really didn’t have much else planned. I truly thought I was going to be working full-time on LeadSurveys as well as my personal brand (which is about when I started pivoting to KimDoyal from The WPChick).

I had other income coming in, but it wasn’t much.

To say those couple of years were lean would be an understatement.

But I was at the point where I would have rather had a job than continue with what I was doing.

I always got excited about new web projects because I was excited about the possibility of what they could do with their business (which was pretty much always the case).

I truly hated what I was doing in terms of the service work (although I will say that my podcast clients were all amazing. Podcasts aren’t treated like a commodity the way websites are).

I’m sure I could have gone down the agency route and learned to sell higher ticket projects, etc., but I didn’t love the work.

Enough said, right?

I’m not saying this is the route everyone should take, but it’s kind of always been who I am. I tend to “burn the boats” so I can’t go back.

Making the shift and what’d do differently

During this time I started getting more into courses, but I still really didn’t know what that looked like. I had done a few ‘beta’ runs of courses (#EverythingIsContent), had some coaching clients, and was getting by.

It was during that time that I came up with the idea for the Content Creators Planner. I’ve also told that story a handful of times, but it wasn’t until late summer of 2018 when I reached out to Jodi that we took the leap (the idea came to me in the spring).

Keep in mind I had NEVER run an e-commerce business.

Or sold a physical product.

However, I knew in my gut that this was a good idea.

Two years later we have a fantastic brand, product, and business. But that’s only half of what I do.

I have had plenty of years where there were massive personal challenges, upheavals, huge wins, major losses, relationships lost, letting people down, feeling let down, etc.

All of which has brought me here.

Needless to say, NONE of this has been easy.

But it’s all been worth it because of where I am today and what is coming.

First though, let’s talk about what I’d do differently.

This is also something I’ve talked about time and time again, but fortunately, it’s not static. Life is fluid. We change, our goals change, ideally as we get better we do better.

I’m at a point in my life where I have to love what I’m doing and I’m also DONE with trying to appease everyone.

My recent launch of #FtheHustle is a perfect example of where I’m at.

There are certain skills you need to have a successful online business or you need someone who can do these things really well.

  • Writing: I will say this as long as I’m in business. ALL the writing. Content, emails, copy… get GOOD at it, practice it, and spend the time to get it right.
  • Messaging: This is one of those things that I call “behind-the-scenes”, mainly because it requires a lot of work to get it right, and until you’ve put your tagline, unique value proposition, and copy on your site, it feels like a waste of time.
  • Selling: This deserves its own section, so we’ll get to that in a minute. This also includes customer acquisition, which we’ll address.
  • Traffic: Without traffic, your business won’t survive. Period. There are multiple types of traffic. Russell Brunson refers to this as the traffic you own, the traffic you don’t own, and traffic you control (I’m paraphrasing).
  • Audience growth: this is relative to traffic, but you need an audience. START with your email list. PLEASE. I heard this for YEARS… and sort of did it, but didn’t really understand the nuances behind doing this well.

It doesn’t matter WHAT industry/niche you’re in or how great your product is. These are all necessary.

The trick is figuring out how they work together, what order to do them in, and then how to get and keep the machine running.

I feel like I could probably do an entire episode on each of the points I mentioned above (and I just might… although I think that could be a pretty amazing lead magnet. hmmm), but for the sake of time, I want to focus on ONE… which is selling.

Selling is something that is not a natural comfort zone for me, but that’s because I didn’t know how to do it and was doing it wrong.

This is also where all the points I mentioned start working really well together. As an example, it’s a hell of a lot easier to sell when you’re clear on your messaging (which includes who you serve and the problem you solve. You can’t create the right message if you don’t know that).

I spent WAY too many years half-ass selling or not making offers frequently enough.

Keep in mind this doesn’t have to be a new offer, you just have to MAKE the offer. And you have to make it frequently.

One of the things Jodi and I say often is “this shit works.” 💩

Which is sort of a new phrase we’ve been using because when you take the time to do things correctly, it works.

To be more specific:

When I sold my List Explosion course this past summer, I used Ramit Sethi’s “Breakthrough Launch” email framework. I have been following Ramit for years and knew he put a lot of time and energy into what he did. The other factor I had never spent time on but was committed to implementing?

The psychology of why people buy.

Which, with Ramit, he always integrates the psychology element into his products. I think this is way more important than most people think , or at least dedicate the time to understanding.

It’s different with low-priced physical products (example: a sweatshirt).

With online digital courses, coaching, and consulting, you better be crystal clear about the pain your potential customer has and how you are the one to solve it.

This is where learning, studying, and practicing copywriting becomes invaluable. Once you’re able to speak to your audience about their pain and then present them with a solution, the rest is history.

Not that you’re done…

Quite the opposite.

Once you start getting results you can then go and look at those results. What worked, what didn’t, how can I improve what I’m doing?

Start asking yourself, EVERY day “what am I doing today to make the sale?”

As of late my answer has been “closing Facebook” to get the work done.

The FASTEST way to shift from service work to coaching, consulting, or courses, is to SELL.

Find the pain point.

Create the solution and sell it.

Recently in one of my conversations with my therapist she asked me how I would handle something we were discussing if it were a coaching client. She reframed it so it was specific to how I would coach someone about money/income.

My own answer sort of surprised me.

Marketing is a math equation.

The more often you make an offer, the more likely you are to sell it.

If you have an email list of non-buyers, get them OFF your list. Create a re-engagement campaign, get back into their inbox, and let them either buy from you or unsubscribe.

Once you’ve cleaned up your existing email list, then it’s time to focus on creating a list of high quality subscribers, which is easiest if you start with an offer where you sell them something. Using our planner as an example, we run cold traffic to a sales page to purchase.

We’ve done some lead generation and will be doing more of that in 2021, but we’ve also spent a great deal of time creating purchase follow-up sequences that create a relationship and sell something else.

Wouldn’t you rather spend money to acquire a customer than a lead, if you can do so profitably?

Keep in mind you can also acquire a lead profitably if you have the right funnel and follow-up sequence in place.

We need to stop over-complicating things.

There are so many simple ways to grow and scale an online business. Regardless of which method you choose (and I’m specifically referring to platforms, social, content, etc.), get your foundation built first.

Take the time to get clear on who you serve, what their problems are, and how you can solve them.

Drawing a line in the sand isn’t for everyone, I completely get that. I also know what it feels like to have money stress and it’s hard to build something when you have that pressure weighing on you.

The first priority should be to figure out how much you need and start generating that revenue. Whether it’s from an offer you put out or you find a part-time gig online where you can use the skillset you already have, but you know you’ll be getting a set amount of money each month.

If it’s not a lot of money, then I would go all in with coming up with an offer that can relieve some of that stress. If you already have the skill set and an audience, create the most valuable thing you can think of that solves a REAL problem for your audience and start having conversations.

Will it be easy?

Nope. But I can guarantee you it will be worth it.

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    1. Thanks, Jan,
      It’s so much easier to get simple things working really well and then focus on improving those. The more complicated it is the harder it is to figure out what pieces may not be working.

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