AMY PORTERFIELD: “When you're just a few steps ahead of your students—those that you serve—you remember what it was like to be in their shoes, and you can empathize with their struggles. You've been there. Since you've recently been there, like, you've recently been where they're at, you can provide them with the guidance and the support that they need in order to take the very next step in their journey.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started.
AMY: I want to tell you about a podcast I think you should check out. It's called Marketing Against the Grain. It's hosted by Kipp Bodnar and Kieran Flanagan, and it's brought to you by the HubSpot Podcast Network, the audio destination for business professionals. Because I know you market for your business, if you want to know what's trending, what's ahead, and how you can lead the way, this is the podcast for you. Hosts Kipp and Kieran share their marketing hot takes like nobody does. I love when they talk about things like how to turn problems into opportunities or dive deep into A.I. and marketing. It’s so good. So be sure to check it out. You can listen to Marketing Against the Grain wherever you get your podcasts.
Hey, there. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy.
I wanted to check in and see how you're doing. At the time of this recording, I just finished a red-light-therapy session. If you follow me on social, especially Instagram, you know this is kind of a newer addition to my wellness routine. I use it when I feel anxiety start to creep up, and I'll spend, like, ten to fifteen minutes, like, basking in the red glow. I don't know if it really works, but in my mind it does. Plus, I've got this ion mat that I lay on while I do the red-light therapy, and it's, like, this mini escape. And afterwards, I have to tell you, I feel centered, and I feel calm, and I'm ready to, like, get back into things. And so if you've ever dealt with anxiety or depression, you know it can sneak up really easily. And if you're not paying attention, it could, like, come with a vengeance. And so every single day I'm just, like, keeping it in check. It never fully goes away for me, but I just kind of keep it in check.
So today, while I was lying on the mat, I found myself thinking back to the early days of starting my business, back when it was just me and a laptop and a dream that felt like it was light years away. And I remember feeling uncertain. Like, do I know enough? Can I really teach this? And in my head, I kept thinking, “I don't know everything. Like, when it comes to online marketing, I sure as heck am not an expert in all these areas. So what if my students find me out? Like, what if they call me out? Like, ‘You should know this, and you don't know that’?” That made me nervous a lot.
And then over time, I started to realize that just knowing a little bit more than my students was actually enough. In fact, it was more than enough. And here's why. When you're just a few steps ahead of your students—those that you serve—you remember what it was like to be in their shoes, and you can empathize with their struggles. You've been there. Since you've recently been there, like, you've recently been where they're at, you can provide them with the guidance and the support that they need in order to take the very next step in their journey. I like to call this the 10 percent edge. And I did not make this up. I first learned about the 10 percent edge when I was talking to Jill Stanton. Jill and Josh Stanton are dear friends of mine, and they taught this somewhere, and I told Jill, “I have to use that. That is so good.” And I've used it for years now because my students in Digital Course Academy, it really helps them to develop the skills and the confidence to consistently show up when starting out.
Now, when I talk about this 10 percent edge, I mean that you are definitely ahead of those you serve. You've definitely got the results that they're looking for. Whether you got those results for yourself or for, let's say, some of your students, you know how to get the results that your students want, and you're going to show them the way. But that doesn't mean you are light years ahead of them. And because you're not light years ahead of them, you can absolutely relate to them.
Now, I'm a little bit at a disadvantage, but then there's tons of advantages of having fourteen years of teaching this stuff under your belt, so I wouldn't trade it for the world. But I've been doing this for fourteen years. So when I'm teaching a newbie, a beginner, I can still very much remember how I felt when I was in their shoes. But they see my life, they see my business, they hear that I've generated over eighty-five million dollars in my business, and they're trying to get to a hundred thousand dollars, and I might seem a little unrelatable to them, a little out of touch, a little bit too ahead.
And so what I do about that now, and this is a little off topic, but what I do about that now is two things. Number one, I talk a lot about my early days—where I was, what I was thinking, what my struggle’s with—so they understand, “Oh, this girl has been in my shoes. She gets me,” and that is very important. So I never lose the stories that, you know, made me who I am. And I tell them often. You've probably heard me repeat many of them.
But I also, now that I'm, you know, far removed from being a beginner, I use a lot of my students’ success stories, the success I've helped them achieve. I use a lot of their stories to help my newbies resonate with these students that are just a little bit ahead of them. But they use my model in terms of how to create a course in order to get the results that they were after.
So when you do have a lot of years under your belt and a lot of experience, there's things you can do to bring it back to really understanding those newbie students or those students who are just starting out.
But anyway, when you are just a few years in, you can absolutely use that newness to your advantage.
Now, when I talk about the 10 percent edge—you only need to be 10 percent ahead of those you serve, and you're going to show them the way to get the results that you've gotten for yourself or for your own clients or students—I'm aware that sometimes this 10 percent edge framework can cause imposter syndrome, and it can stop people in their tracks. And it makes sense, right? When you aren’t light years ahead of those you serve and you don't have a wall full of diplomas and certifications to back up what you're teaching, doubts are bound to be there. That is very normal. So we got to feel the feelings. We got to kind of stand in the stuck just a little bit. Those feelings of imposter syndrome will always be there at some point or another.
So today I want to talk about how I dealt with my own imposter syndrome that came when I started sharing my message and kind of started leaning into my 10 percent edge. So I want you to listen in with an open mind. Really ask yourself if you're taking advantage of this strategy that I'm sharing with you.
Now, I'm so thankful to my past self for showing up and sharing what she was learning in in real time, because if I think about that girl back then, I feel like I was really brave. I believe this was part of the magic that helped my business grow into what it is today. And so here's the thing. I believe with my whole heart that if you embrace and share your 10 percent edge, that that same magic is waiting for you as well.
So, again, you got to be brave, and you've got to step in and learn what you need to learn in real time and share that along the way until you're ready, then, of course, to teach other people how you've done it.
So let's dive in.
So the 10 percent edge is all about understanding that you don't need to be years ahead of those that you serve to make an impact. Where I see this idea trip people up is they mistake it to mean the same thing as the phrase “fake it till you make it,” which leads them to feel like an imposter. Come back to me if you're multitasking. I need you to hear this. Having a 10 percent edge is not the same as fake it till you make it. We're not faking anything. When I started, I was constantly reframing my mindset to get over this hurdle. And what I would say to myself was, “Wait a minute. I got these results for myself, and I know how to get results now. So now I know that I can teach my students the same transformation. I just need to learn the best way to teach it.” Did you see the distinction there? And this is what I teach in Digital Course Academy, my program I launch every September, is how to teach what you know. Everyone that comes into my program, they already have skills and knowledge and know-how. They've already gotten results in the business that they're building or even in their personal lives, and maybe they want to take something like that and turn it into a digital course. It's not that they don't know how to get results. A lot of the times they just don't know how to teach it in a way that will get other people results.
And if you've ever felt that way, like, “Amy, I make it too big. I've got too many things that I want to teach, and I'm overwhelming people,” or “I don't even know where to start. I don't even know the first thing I would teach them,” then you have to tell yourself, “That's okay.” You don't know what you don't know. What I mean is rarely are we taught how to teach. Rarely are we taught how to put together our own blueprints, our own frameworks, our own models. And so it's okay if you have this knowledge and skill set but you're not really sure how to teach it so someone else can get the same results you've gotten. Leave that to me. I can teach you that all day long. But also, give yourself a little grace. You're not supposed to know this stuff until someone sits down and says, “This is how you do it.”
And what I did back then is I would do a lot of experimenting. I would test different frameworks and roadmaps and teaching styles. And while I was doing this, I paid close attention to when my students got results, so I knew when I found something that really worked, and I would double down on that. And I would keep telling myself, “They will get the results if I keep showing up.”
So in my very early days, when I taught in my very first digital course, I don't think that I taught it in a way that was easy to learn. But here's the thing. I was in it with them. So in my first digital course, I was doing group coaching with them. I was allowing them to ask me questions. They could reach out to me. They could email me. And when I saw that they got stuck with something that I taught them, I would reteach it in a different way till they got the results. And because I was new and my groups were small, I was able to do that. And I felt like even though maybe that first way I taught it, it could have been a little confusing to them, there was still so much value in it. They weren't mad at me. I could just see, “Ooh, okay. They got stuck here. I could add to that framework here so I can get them unstuck quickly.” You've got to really pay attention to how people navigate through your content, the questions they're asking, where they're getting stuck. And if you pay attention to that kind of thing, you will become an excellent teacher.
Now, a muscle that you'll need to strengthen as you start to do this is the ability to say three little words. Are you ready for them? “I don't know.” When I first started out, these words had me sweating bullets. But here's the thing. No one expects you to know everything. And I found that by saying, “I don't know” actually made me more relatable to my audience. By sharing my imperfections and my vulnerabilities, I was able to connect deeper and at a level of authenticity to my business.
Now, it usually was, “I don't know the answer to that, but I could absolutely find it for you,” or “I don't know the answer to that, but I do have a peer of mine that is really good at that. Let me ask them, and I'll come back tomorrow with an answer.” I always gave myself more time to make sure I gave the valuable answer, and I always followed up so they knew they could trust me.
So did they get the answer in the moment? No. Did I actually admit that I don't know the answer? Yes. Did I follow up the next day with such great value that I blew their mind? Absolutely. And that's how you create customers for life.
Now, before we move on, I want to level with you here, and that is that I'm fourteen years in, and I, of course, still do not know all the answers to everything. And when I say something like, “What a great question. I don't know at the moment, but I'll circle back with you and get the answer,” I do hear in my head, like, “Oh, they're going to feel like you're not knowing your stuff right now. You're going to look a little weak, Amy.” Like, I still hear it, but then, boom, I catch it. Nope, nope, nope. I don't have to be the jack of all trades. I don't need to know everything. My students know I'm not a genius. And they trust me to come back. It's all good.
So the thought will still come up sometimes. But I catch it really fast. I always say that I still have all the insecurities you have. I still have all the fears. But what might be different between me being fourteen years in and you may be just a few years in is that I know how to catch it and redirect it maybe just a little bit easier, faster, a little bit more seamlessly than you do, yet. It comes with time.
So when I do catch myself saying, “Ooh, you look a little weak right now, Amy. You should know this. You're fourteen years in,” rather than believing it, I've learned to talk back to that voice. I let it know that I'm excited I don't know all the answers, because this means I'm pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I'm going to figure it out. And now the next time I get asked this, I'll know it like it's no big deal. So I'm always learning.
And doing things you've never done before is exactly what entrepreneurship is all about, right? Like, learning new things, figuring out new things. I actually had to use this advice for myself recently because I just finished one hundred interviews on other people's podcasts for my book Two Weeks Notice. And let me tell you, the first, like, thirty interviews that I gave, I was shaky. Maybe not thirty. Like, the first fifteen. That's a little exaggeration. I think the first fifteen.
And remember, I'm a podcast host, but I've niched down and I've talked exclusively about, like, list building and course creation for years, so switching gears to talk about quitting your job, that felt very just unnerving to me. And in my head, I'm like, “Amy, you're not an expert at this. You've only really—I've only quit one corporate job to become an entrepreneur.” You usually only do that one time, right? But then I thought, “Wait a second. In the book, you've got frameworks, Amy. You've got steps people can take. You've got this runway of all the steps to take to leave your nine-to-five job.”
Shout out—if you do not have my book Two Weeks Notice, and you want to leave your nine-to-five job, and you want to start a business, go grab it right now. I promise you I'll give you that roadmap, and it does work. I've heard from hundreds of my students already about how it's worked for them. But anyway, that's a side note.
When I started to do these interviews, I felt really shaky. And I just allowed the shakiness to come along for the ride while I gave kind of like B-plus interviews. That's always still hard for me not to give, like, A-plus interviews, but I had to get the cobwebs out. I had to kind of figure it out.
And then here's where the magic came in. Once I got into the flow and gave, like, my sixteenth, seventeenth interview, boom, I had it down. I am so confident—I just did one yesterday—to do an interview about my book, it's like I have lived this book for ten years. And it's still only, like, a few months out. I was confident. I could rattle off stories, pull examples from the book. I was funny. I could interject when I could tell, like, the host wanted more from me. It’s seamless. But it sure as heck didn't start out that way. But I kept at it. And that's the thing. I kept teaching about my book, teaching about my book, teaching about my book, and then it became like my second skin.
And that can be your digital course. That can be you teaching online video. It's putting in the reps. That's where teaching becomes easier. You put in the reps. You keep showing up.
So please use my experience as permission to let yourself struggle a little at the beginning. Jump on Instagram Live and treat it like a playground, where you're going to teach what you've learned in real time. Allow yourself to do B-plus work now, knowing that's the only way to get to the good stuff later. Put in the reps, and you won't even recognize yourself a year from now.
And let me teach you how to teach your content. If you want to put it into a course or a membership or teach it in a way that you're going to package it up, I know exactly how to get those ideas out of your head and onto paper. And of course, that's in Digital Course Academy, which I only open the doors in September, so hopefully, you’re on my email list so you can get the announcement.
Now, I think this is a great place to wrap up our conversation. But I want to kind of make a deal with you, or I want you to make a deal with me, I guess. In the next twenty-four hours, I want you to share your 10 percent edge with the world. This could be a live video. It could be on your podcast, in an email. Whatever format you choose, speak from your heart and teach what you know.
Now, remember, we're only teaching where we've gotten results. So I always tell my students who want to create a digital course, we're going to choose a topic where you've gotten results for yourself or someone else so you can teach others how you got there.
So next twenty-four hours, take a little snippet of what you know. I just want you to teach it. That's your way of doing the reps. That's your way of getting in the game.
Remember, someone desperately needs to hear what you have to say, and they want the roadmap to get where they want to ultimately go. And you can show them how to do that, and you don't need to be perfect at it. And remember, people love to learn from others who have been in their shoes. And the closer you've been in their shoes, meaning, “It was just two years ago when this was me,” that’s powerful. Use that. And I promise if you keep showing up for them, you'll be amazed how this helps your imposter syndrome start to melt away, or in my case, you just catch it so much easier now.
Thanks so much for hanging out with me here. And if you know somebody who could really use a little boost of courage, a little boost of confidence, maybe this is the episode you can share with them. You can just grab the link to the episode, post it on social for them, text a friend, email a friend, and say, “This might be the episode to give you a little courage to keep putting yourself out there.” My goal is to help as many entrepreneurs as I can to build the businesses that they absolutely are proud of, and I could really use your help to spread the word.
So thanks so much for being here, and I cannot wait to see you again on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. Can't wait.
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