Welcome to another episode of the podcast. I’m so excited for the topic I’m covering today because it will help almost anyone out there interested in business.
I will discuss the pros and cons and anything in-between about the 3 business models I’ve tried. It will all come from experience, you’ll learn exactly why I switched from one to another, what my current goals are and what I’m leaving behind, what I loved about each of these types of business over the years and how it completed the stage of life I was in, what happens when you want to outgrow it because a change in business models requires a change in mindset and workflow, and more.
So whether you’re thinking of becoming a freelancer, blogger or course creator, are transitioning from one to another, or are just curious about my experience with these, you’ll get a lot from this episode.
Tune in below:
- [05:01] My first business model and why it was the only one that made sense for me back then
- [06:11] The exact steps I took to start earning as a freelancer
- [06:59] Why I was okay with being underpaid and how I increased that income
- [8:36] Why I couldn’t do any more client work, and what I wanted instead
- [10:15] Why blogging is my jam and what it actually means to be a blogger
- [11:50] My take on the blogging industry
- [14:40] What I love the most about blogging, and which income stream is my main focus now
- [16:17] What I do before transitioning to a new business model
- [18:24] The story of my signature course
- [20:59] The mindset shifts that come with an online course business
- Jill & Josh of Screw The Nine to Five
- Fearless Content
- Episode 1: My Business Journey
- Blog to Biz System [my signature program]
I am where I am today thanks to being a freelance writer first. See, I didn’t believe I could make money from my own platforms, or in any way online for that matter, back in the days.
I had just started this hobby blog on personal development and wanted to write and publish content. That gave me so much satisfaction that I was learning more about ways to earn from your writing as I could maybe turn it into my career and use that income to not just do what I love, but also move out of my country and start a new life somewhere else.
You can go back to episode 1 if you want where I share my business journey. There I talk about how my income goal was $80/week. Once it started happening, I was shocked. It also allowed me to increase that number eventually, to charge more, and to want to earn from my blog.
But client work is what my first business model was. I was writing for my blog so the only possible way I could think of to monetize my one skill, which luckily was and is in demand, was to offer to write that same content for other people.
So I signed up for Upwork and other sites (back then it was not even called Upwork yet by the way) and I created a profile. I started reading and learning all I could about making it as a freelancer. There’s always a learning curve and I was excited about it.
I browsed jobs and whatever seemed like the right fit for me, meaning whoever was looking for a writer to create articles on personal development for them, I’d send them a pitch.
The only way I could show them my expertise was by using my published blog posts as my portfolio and telling them I’d like to create something similar for their project. It worked.
I was underpaid but knowing that I come from a cheap country, didn’t even believe anyone would pay me without a degree in this, connections, experience in the industry or English being my native language, I couldn’t ask for more.
I was easily accepting what the client would offer, doing the work, and it either get accepted immediately (those were the happy moments) or edits were requested and we had to communicate back and forth. I was sending them more drafts, which wasn’t really paid time as the price we agreed on was per project.
I think I was paid $20 per article of 500 words, and sometimes $25 or $30 for one of 1000 words. But I didn’t know any better. And I was literally just starting out so these were great opportunities for me to improve my writing skills, learn about the freelance world, and get good reviews that show up on my profile which immediately builds trust with future clients.
That’s how it all began. From there, I got better at spotting the right jobs for me, increasing my rate, negotiating conditions, being more assertive, doing a better job for clients, etc.
On the side, I always kept publishing content on the blog.
At some point, my freelance income reached $800 a month, I started earning a bit from my blog too, so there we go – that’s how I got to making $1000/month online as a writer.
When it increased a bit more and I had savings, I also relocated to my favorite country, the Netherlands, which was nearly 5 years ago.
But then I stopped enjoying that work. I was enjoying my new lifestyle and environment and respected my clients as thanks to them, I was able to pay my bills, travel and live anywhere I want. But I was exchanging time for money, chasing clients, meeting deadlines, having unpleasant experiences such as clients disappearing or not paying or someone requesting too many edits and never being satisfied.
Every day, my most productive hours were invested in this. Doing client work and looking for new clients, which means applying for more jobs.
I had already increased my income from blogging by then and my next goal was clear – I wanted to be a full-time blogger. So let’s talk about that next.
But a few final things to say about freelancing are these – it can be a rewarding experience for some people and they might never find it challenging. Also, people feel safer when there are clients paying them as opposed to building their own income streams and taking full responsibility of their salary and making it every next month.
Freelancing can be easier too if you are really good at what you do, charge more and work with fewer clients but know they will come back often, recommend you to their network and there’s always more work coming your way.
I just felt exhausted at the end and knew I’d given that industry all I could. It was a burden now and not the freedom I craved, so I had to make adjustments.
Let’s talk about the next business model.
Read also: Making Money on Upwork: 8 Key Tips Freelancers Should Know to Get Hired Every Time
Ah, blogging. From all the things I can teach you about business, this is what I’m most experienced with – starting and growing a blog. That’s why my signature program Blog to Biz System is dedicated to that. I also have a more affordable and easier to digest course called $1K Blogger. It’s actually my most popular product.
Blogging is my jam, you guys. I have so much to say about it and can probably answer any question you can think of related to it.
I went from a hobby blogger to learning all I could about the business of blogging and hitting $5K months. It’s indeed possible to make a living just from 1 website.
There are many other elements that go into this, of course, such as:
- email marketing
- monetizing in different ways
- bringing enough traffic to your blog and knowing what to do with that traffic
- posting consistently
- sharing your content on different platforms
- building a brand around your blog
- optimizing your whole website as well as each individual page
and so much more.
I’ve taken my time to explore anything related to blogging and work on it. The main ways to earn as a blogger are from advertising, affiliate marketing, sponsored content and selling your own products. These are my 4 income streams and it has taken me a long time to build each separately.
Together, they are how I can make a living and each can be grown in many ways as long as you’re willing to do the work and get to the next level.
Also read: How to Become a Blogger
The blogging industry is changing all the time but it’s definitely not dead.
You might feel like it if you’re mostly on Instagram and see how much video content others produce and that not many people blog. But here’s the thing about bloggers – they don’t need to be on Instagram, they are often behind the scenes.
There are 6 and 7 figure bloggers and I’ve personally interviewed them. They all started from nothing and built their site from the ground up.
You could be in any niche. Parenting, personal development, nutrition, beauty, real estate, finance, student life, you name it. If there are people struggling with a problem related to a niche, if they wanna learn more, then they are reading blogs on the topic and your content can help them tremendously.
Many bloggers also don’t make it. It’s not a business model for everyone as it takes a lot of writing, optimizing content, dealing with website issues, and updating your monetization strategies.
For me it all started as a passion and the growth came thanks to all the content I’ve published over the years. I never left my blog behind. In some periods back in the days, I was publishing short articles daily. Then I began creating super long and optimized articles. And all this together is the reason why I began getting noticed by bigger publications, why I got organic traffic from Google, and why I realized I could turn this into a business.
The content on my blog will always be there no matter what. Depending on how you’ve structured things, it can bring you money passively for the rest of your life.
Once you publish a really long, nice and useful blog post on a topic people are searching for, you can also include affiliate links, optin forms so they can sign up to your list and later learn about your products, and you can earn from clicks on ads from that page, which will add to your monthly revenue from advertising.
And that’s just one page. Many bloggers have tutorials that rank well and if it’s really what the person is looking for, then they don’t need to read another article on the topic. If there’s a tool involved that they need to use in order to take the action, they will click the links in the post, which will most probably be affiliate, and purchase from there, then follow the action steps. This immediately earns the blogger a commission, which could even be a big one.
Blogging was ideal for me for so long because I just wanted to write content on the topics I’m passionate about and publish it on my own platform. I was doing that for free anyways.
Freelancing just took a lot of my energy and time but thanks to blogging and the income from it, I was able to leave freelance behind, never work for a client again, and dedicate all my time to blogging.
I then started taking courses by successful bloggers and learned a lot more, then implemented it.
This work brings me joy. And all the other little tasks such as re-designing my site, adding internal and external links to posts, adding Pinterest graphics and sharing my content on Pinterest, creating new freebies for my subscribers, updating old blog posts – I love doing all this. The work never ends as there’s so much content on my blog, and honestly, I haven’t even seen its full earning potential.
So why would I want to transition from blogging to the online course business?
Well, technically, I’m just going to turn one of my blog income streams – my digital products – into my main one.
I’ll still publish content on the blog regularly, I’ll keep the site updated, I’ll add new pages and other blog elements, and it will be the foundation of my brand and anything I do online. But my main activities, my goals and strategy changed and are now those of a course creator. Let me share more about that.
>> Also check out: The 1:1 Business Mentorship for Bloggers
Before I transition to a new business model, I first make sure to genuinely love it from both sites (as a customer and as a creator), to be excited and passionate about it and consider doing that for the rest of my life, and I often start working on it without even realizing.
Courses are a great example. I’ve been taking them for years and I wanted to create them. It’s all content creation, just organized and presented in a different way.
Online courses are an amazing tool that helps me learn anything I want, I believe in them so much that it made sense to also provide that for my audience. It’s a fantastic way to learn something, they are much more interactive than books, and can dive deep into 1 specific topic, allowing the student to achieve a certain results.
The platform I use for my courses is called Teachable and I’m really happy with it. Prior to becoming a course creator, I was already enrolled in different courses on Teachable, was an affiliate to some, and had my account. So I was familiar with the interface.
The first step I took as a future course creator was simple – creating 3 free mini courses. Not at once of course, it was over the course of a few months. I had a lot of fun designing them. I already had the content as it was on topics I’ve covered on the blog. Now I just made it more interactive.
And these weren’t video courses yet. Each lesson and/or module simply covers an aspect of the topic in written form. It’s like grabbing a few short articles in one category and putting them together to create a mini course. Then that’s offered to my subscribers as an intensive to join my list.
The free courses were on starting a blog, earning passive income and freelancing. The last one is not something I offer anymore but the first 2 are still available.
People loved them and there were so many sign ups all the time. There are thousands of students enrolled in them now and that makes me so happy. It goes to show how popular this type of content is.
I then came up with the idea of my first paid course and started creating it.
The crazy part is that it’s still my signature program now and I’m going to relaunch it in the near future. It’s now a video course but then it was all written.
I knew I had to update it so around a year or two later, I turned each lesson into a video lecture with a presentation. That also allowed me to make many updates and restructure how the content was organized, as many things had changed about blogging since then, I learned more and had more to share, and I got better at designing courses.
The program I’m talking about is Blog to Biz System and there’s a waitlist if you want to join.
Courses take a lot of time to create so you definitely need to know your stuff and to do a research in advance to make sure you don’t create a program on a topic no one wants to invest in.
In the beginning, I didn’t really do that research. I just went with the flow and created this huge program sharing all I knew about blogging and growing a business as a full-time blogger.
Now I do things differently. Now I prelaunch. I get students inside my program before I’ve even created it.
I also do live launches, I combine the early bird access with an affiliate launch I’m doing or something else I had going on. I learn from amazing entrepreneurs, I’m enrolled in more business courses than I can count and constantly experiment, I’m going to add webinars to my arsenal as well as create many more programs.
It’s exciting and my main activities now are all related to the online course part of the business. Blogging is still there but it’s not my daily focus.
Other interesting things I did around this transition from a blogger to a course creator are to focus on branding, to get back on Instagram and start a podcast, to market myself as an online course creator and get featured on bigger platforms, to participate in bundles and partner with other course creators.
2 of the most popular business models now are coaching and course creation.
I fall into the second category and there’s honestly no limit to how much you can earn from that. The programs you create now can be passive income for the rest of your life if you put all the pieces together.
That’s no easy work, though. You can have the best program in the world but if you don’t know how to market it, launch it or create systems so it can sell itself, you won’t see any sales coming in.
A course provides a transformation and there’s so much that goes into writing the copy, sharing about it with your audience, finding the first students, getting testimonials, creating the best bonuses (cause often people buy a program because of how irresistible and valuable the bonus section is).
You also need to get better at organizing the content in the best way possible. I’m still learning all this and I only find out how much more there is to learn. But hey, that’s how it is for every business model.
The mindset shifts that come with this include:
- Outsourcing as much as you can so you can focus on creating and selling courses.
- Creating a sales funnel.
- Showing up during a launch.
- Having early bird students and beta launches.
- Constantly communicating with your audience and your students.
- Instead of being an affiliate for other people’s products, you’re now more likely to create your own affiliate program and work on it.
- Taking your audio and video skills to the next level with the right equipment.
- Including all forms of content in your courses to make them more interactive. Such as video, audio, presentations, transcripts of lectures, downloadable files, live sessions, etc.
- Planning your whole business year around a 1-3 or more big offers you’ll have. This might include releasing new programs and launching them, opening the doors to a previous course once again with a bigger and better launch, running special offers, or else.
All these things are so different from anything blogging related. I can say that being a full-time course creator requires you to play a bigger game, stop making excuses and really learn how things are done.
Other programs I created after my signature blogging course include the other blogging course $1K Blogger and now my new program on content creation and branding called Fearless Content.
I also released other digital products such as printables and a toolkit.
In the future, I can bundle these in different ways and create other small and big products. It’s all inside Teachable and you can even offer coaching through the platform.
As for the industry, well it’s constantly growing. There are courses or anything and everything now and so many people are giving this business model a try. There’s always space for your program too as long as it provides a transformation and you know how to get attention online and describe what your course can do to those people.
And that pretty much sums up the 3 business models I’ve been dealing with over the last 7 years. What do you think?
There’s a lot more to say about each of course, but this was just a summary of how each business started for me, how I transitioned, what I loved the most about it and what the hard parts are.
Now, I’m curious: What’s something new you learned from this episode/article? Share it on Instagram Stories and tag me @letsreachsuccess so I can see and respond.
What business model resonates with you the most? Are you thinking of changing business models and if so, what are you gonna do about it?