LEEANN SIMS: “You know, the biggest thing was doing my own self-work, my own personal development. In 2017, I invested personally in personal-development coaching, even in business coaching, even in personal training, like physical training, because I was doing all this work to build these amazing experiences for other people, and I still felt like I am not fully well. I don't meet the picture that I'm saying I want other people to meet. And so I took the time to start investing in myself. And once I did that, I realized the benefit of investing in yourself. And so I could speak to it, and it was easier for me to sell it, if you will, because I made that own investment. And so it shifted from, ‘Am I worthy of them investing into me?’ to ‘Because you are worthy, you deserve to invest in yourself. Therefore, you will, and you should invest in me. You should invest in these products because this is going to help you.’”
“And so it kind of connected my purpose to my bank account, if you will, because why can't your purpose or your calling be tied to your business? It doesn't have to be either/or, but it can be both/and. And so I would say the number-one thing for anyone listening—like, I'm in your shoes, too. I listen to Amy's podcast. I'm one of the patrons of her courses. I'm working on my business, too—the biggest thing you want to work on is focusing on your own development, investing into you, so that you can then invest into others and have the confidence to ask for what you really do deserve, because it makes other people believe that they deserve it, too.”
AMY PORTERFIELD: “Mic drop. I mean, come on. That is so true. Yes, yes, and yes.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and 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 helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY: Okay, before we get going, a quick word from our sponsor.
This episode is sponsored by Gravy. If you have a subscription-model business, like a membership site, or offer payment plans, like I do with my digital courses, you've got to listen up. One of my biggest frustrations in the past was lost money due to failed payment plans. In fact, it used to keep me up at night. I would worry about all the people that were on a payment plan, because if they stopped their payments, I'd be screwed.
That's when I started working with Gravy. Gravy sets up a system inside your business, where they contact your customers within hours of their failed payments, and they capture updated billing information and save the customer.
Now, as you know, failed payments can be a sensitive topic to navigate with your customers, and that's why Gravy acts as an extension of your team. So when they reach out to people, they communicate on your behalf, and they do it with compassion. On average, before Gravy, our failed-payment recovery rate was just 33 percent when we were trying to do it on our own. Now it's over 80 percent collection on failed payments. That's a whole lot of saved payments.
If your revenue is currently at $250,000 or more and you know you're losing money due to failed payment plans each month, I want to encourage you to check out Gravy. Here's the great news. Gravy is offering my listeners their first month free. So if you want to book a discovery call to find out if your business is a good fit for everything Gravy has to offer, go to amyporterfield.com/gravy.
Not only do I have one phenomenal guest today, I actually have three. I got to sit down and chat with three of my amazing students about their online businesses. These women are sharing how they've built a profitable business around a smaller niche and how they overcame their limiting beliefs, limiting beliefs like, why would someone want to learn from me? Or should I be charging for my content if I'm this passionate about it? And if I niche down, will I make any money? These limiting beliefs are so familiar to most of us, right? And I know that I have had all of them when I was starting my business, and I think you might be able to relate as well. So let me briefly introduce you to these amazing women.
First, you'll hear from Sandra McLemore, who helps travel agents and advisors create a consistent stream of business. She'll talk about how she used to take any job at any time, out of scarcity, and how once she niched down, she was able to build her seven-figure business, which she started with only forty dollars, by the way. This business has allowed her to pay off all of her and her husband's debt, buy a house, start a family, and serve others just by doing what she loves.
Next, you'll hear from Gwen Lane, who helps digital influencers grow and monetize their social channels so they can turn them into a business that makes money. She's going to share how by paying attention to why her audience chose to learn from her, allowed her to dig deeper into that specifically and build her business to a place that generates $50,000 in just a month. Yep, that's $50,000 a month. And she's going to share how she did it and what that looks like in her business.
And last but certainly not least, you'll hear from LeeAnn Sims, who serves a size-inclusive community, predominantly faith-based women of color who are looking to improve their well-being from the inside out. She talks about how she overcame her limiting beliefs to finally start charging for her products and how she now sells out of all of her retreats.
I want you to pay close attention to how these women niched down and honed in on who they want to serve. Many people think that niching down can be a dangerous thing within a business, but these women are proof that it isn't. In fact, it's just the opposite. The truth is that there are people everywhere who need that special gift that you have to offer. While it may be scary at first, you'll often find that when you start to attract the right people, they'll start to say, “This is exactly what I've been waiting for.” And that, my friend, is what makes it all worth it.
Okay, I won't make you wait any longer. We have a lot to cover, so let's dive in. First, let's hear from Sandra.
Sandra, thanks so much for joining me. I am so delighted to have you here.
SANDRA MCLEMORE: Woohoo. I’m equally excited. Let’s do it.
AMY: It’s going to be fun.
Okay, so I already talked a little bit about you, but I want you to tell my listeners a little bit about your business and, most importantly, who do you serve? And tell me all about it.
SANDRA: Okay, so I serve what I think people would consider to be an invisible industry. And what I mean by that is I work in the travel industry. So, of course, everybody knows travel. It’s one of the most ancient industries if you think back, like, ancient Egyptians, everybody was traveling. But who I serve, I think that people don't really notice. Those are travel agents or travel advisors, same thing. And I help them to get a consistent stream of new business. So in a world where everybody tries to book travel online or with the big booking engines that they see on TV, it becomes a very noisy marketplace. And travel advisors have the most incredible offering of service, so I help them to find new clients.
AMY: Okay. So before I hit Record, I said to you, “I think some people think that travel agents,” like you said, “that's kind of like an invisible niche. Like, they don't exist anymore.” Tell me why they're so important and valuable.
SANDRA: Yeah. Listen, you know what happened? It used to be that everybody booked through a travel agent. I remember in the ’80s and the ’90s, my parents, for vacations, would go to the travel agent. And I think it was also partly because the tickets that you would need to fly on a plane were paper tickets. We would go down to a local brick-and-mortar shopfront, and you would speak with a travel agent, and then they would print you out your airline tickets. You'd go back and collect your package with all of your hotel accommodations printed out. Well, then along came the Internet, and all of a sudden everything's electronic—our tickets, our boarding passes, and everything. And then you can book by yourself online directly with either the big aggregators or directly with airlines and hotels. So I feel like people thought that the travel agents’ role was dead.
But here's the thing. During the pandemic, especially when people had a lot of travel to cancel, the Internet did not call them back. Those big booking engines did not call and be like, “Amy, do you need help?” The travel agents did. The travel agents were the people—they were like the backbone of the customer service.
So from a planning perspective, they're so amazing because, firstly, they don't book anything or everything for everyone. Good travel agents specialize in something. So if you're a huge food lover, you would book your travel with a culinary-travel expert. If you're a wellness sort of person, you like yoga and hiking, you would book through a wellness-travel professional. If you're going on a romantic vacation, you'd book with a romance expert, romance-travel expert.
So that's one really cool thing. You can kind of pick and choose. You don't have to be loyal to one. You can if you want to, but you can find specialists. So if you want to take a ten-day, eat, love, pray your way through Italy, you would find yourself a culinary expert or an Italian-travel expert.
So I love that, firstly, that they’re very specialized and niched that allows them to have a really deep knowledge of the experiences and the destination. They're trained and accredited, which means that they know the tiny little details. And I think on the other end of it, the customer service is the big deal. So when you're away, a good travel agent’s going to say, “Hey, here's my speed dial. Here's my WhatsApp. Hit me up if you have any questions.”
And then lastly, they have great connection to an industry that has a very strong infrastructure, so they can get you the upgrades and the perks and that kind of thing. And I think that the reason that the public thought that the travel agent was dead—not, like, the person dead, but the industry—was that they could suddenly do it themselves. But that's like saying, “Well, I can cut my hair,” but it doesn't make a hairstylist redundant, right?
AMY: Right, right.
SANDRA: I've given myself some COVID cuts, let me tell you. Now I need a hairstylist. And it's the same thing with travel. I see there being a huge return to travel advisers now because of the pandemic, because, like I said, the Internet didn't call you back to help you out. And just that specialty, that specialized customer service that you can get from your planning through to when you get home, I think it's so cool.
AMY: Oh, I 100 percent agree. Shout out to Angie Lusk, my travel agent. I love her, and Hobie and I use a travel agent for all of our trips. We think it's the best way to go. And she finds us better deals than I would ever be able to find online. So she knows the ins and outs of everything.
SANDRA: I'm so pleased to hear that you do that, because most people don't even know that they exist. And it's not just about price. Like, I love that she gets you great value when she finds you good deals. It's also just about the knowledge. You want to travel advisor to say, “Hey, girl, you can't go to that museum on a Monday, because it’s closed. So don't plan your week around that day in Paris.” That kind of thing, you know?
AMY: Exactly. So I'm with you on this one.
Now, I want to ask you, how did you identify your community, and how did you know that this is who you wanted to serve, and did you know that they were more of an invisible industry?
SANDRA: Listen, I did not even plan out to be an entrepreneur. When I look at my family, there are zero entrepreneurs. My granddaddy on my dad's side owned a butcher. I don’t believe that you classify that as an entrepreneur. I don't know how creative he was with his steak cuts. So it's not like I had entrepreneurs in my family or even in my sphere of friends. So becoming an entrepreneur was never something I thought of.
What I was able to do is I hit a time in my life where for several personal reasons I couldn't travel, and I couldn't work. I had to sort of stay—well, I guess the real story is I was waiting for my green card to be processed. I had married my husband, who is American, and while my green card was being processed, I wasn't allowed to leave the country, which meant, for those of your listeners who know me, I host travel TV, and I'm on network television. So I wasn't able to leave the U.S. to do any filming work, but I also wasn't allowed to get a job. So I was kind of in limbo. And that's the perfect time to plan something: when you can’t execute it, you could just plan it.
SANDRA: So I started off, kind of like your story, I started off saying, “You know what, I'm going to help travel agents to get good on Instagram,” because I picked up my phone, started playing on Instagram, and I got followers, and people started engaging, and I thought, “Oh, wow.” So I started helping them with that.
But what was really interesting, Amy, was they were saying to me, “But, Sandra, I want this,” and what they were asking me for was not what I was giving them. They were asking me for the silver bullet. They were asking me for the end outcome. I like to say they were asking me for the cheesecake, not for the recipe or the ingredients. They were like, “I want to get new clients. I need a revolving door of new clients.” And here I am trying to teach this one little ingredient, Instagram, and it didn't seem to be part of a fuller strategy that they needed or a bigger picture of their business. It was kind of like they needed to look at their timeline and be a bird and hover up and look out over their business and see it from a bigger perspective. So I had a lot of travel advisers, travel agents saying to me, “I need x, y, or z.” So that was how I kind of figured out what they needed.
But in terms of even knowing that I wanted to help them, I found what I call my knowledge intersection. So if you can visualize, Amy, standing on a corner, and you have three different streets and maybe different people have different numbers of streets. I had one street that was travel. I have traveled my whole life. I love traveling. I had another street that was media and television. I was really lucky. I was mentored by Anthony Bourdain when I first started in television.
AMY: What?! I love him.
SANDRA: He was amazing. And I'm so lucky to have had that experience with him. And so I have this television background, where I have literally thousands and thousands of hours on camera. And then down another street, I had my work experience, my nine-to-five corporate—because I, too, was a corporate girl in the travel industry. And I worked my way up to the VP level of the biggest cruise lines and airline loyalty programs and tourism boards. And so I specialized in marketing and revenue.
So here I am finding myself on what I call my knowledge intersection. So it was where travel meets marketing meets media. And I thought, “My goodness, this corner feels so comfortable because it's where I find myself having this intersection of passions and skills.” And that's how I kind of came up with my business, I guess, audience. It's where I was able to really solidify, with your help, my ICA. And then I listened to what the travel advisors were telling me that they wanted, and I started to create my course and my other products around what they were needing.
AMY: Okay. That makes sense, for sure. And in all of the women that I interviewed for this podcast specifically, it's this idea—I know it sounds so simple, but we don't do it—of slowing down and listening. People will tell you what they want. And I love that you put something out there around Instagram, and you paid attention. They're like, “No, we want the cheesecake.” So, like, “Oh, okay. There's something different here.” But you'll never know that unless you put something out there. Do you agree? Like, you never know what they want until you try something.
SANDRA: Absolutely. And I really believe, and I hope we’re on the same page. Otherwise, I'm telling people wrong. But I really believe in doing one-on-one work as well when you’re just starting out, before you do your course, because that Instagram work that I was doing with people, that was one on one to begin with. Now, two things came out of that. The first thing was, I thought, “Oh, heck, I can't do this forever. This is a slow way to grow, and it's trading time for money.” But the second thing was it allowed me to be able to listen.
And my grandma used to tell me, “You have two ears and one mouth for a reason.”
AMY: I love it.
SANDRA: I think every grandma had told—
SANDRA: —told them that at some stage.
And so that one-on-one work really allowed me to be able to identify what these people needed, because I think that that truly is one of the great markers that you can look at for having a successful course and whether or not you'll know you'll have a successful course. Are you providing a solution that people need? I think it’s so important.
AMY: And I do think one-on-one work is incredibly valuable. I tell my students, even if you just do it for a few months, if you just take a few clients, what you'll learn—because a lot of people don't like it—but I’m like, what you'll learn is so valuable. You don't need to stay there, but it really does help.
SANDRA: Oh, yeah, I think I did six months max, and then I was tired out.
AMY: You’re like, I’m out.
SANDRA: Oh my god. Bounce.
AMY: I get it. Same with me.
Okay, so, tell me this. Were you worried, when you started in this new endeavor, were you worried about making money?
SANDRA: Okay, firstly, let me tell you that I live in Los Angeles, and in Los Angeles, we have one of the worst public-transport systems ever. I hope the mayor is not listening, but I kind of hope he is. And you have to have a car in Los Angeles. I was so scared that I was not going to make any money that I vowed that I would just ride Uber. I refused to get a car, refused to have a payment, because I was scared that it wasn't going to happen. I had this fear that if I cast a small net, I'll catch less fish. So because I didn't trust myself, I did the opposite of what I should have. And I decided that I would try to help anybody and everybody. I was like, listen, my landlord does not discriminate. Whoever gives me a check wins. And I wanted to do work for everyone. So I did work for a security firm that did celebrity security. I did work for a TV producer. I did work for a hairstylist. And someone said to me, “What are you doing? You shouldn't be doing this. You have such a huge background and knowledge and everything in the travel industry.” But I was too scared.
It was the best thing that I ever did. I kind of backed myself. I kept my small, little company that did everything for everybody. And I just put it to the side, and I didn't market it, and I didn't advertise it, and I left it there as a safety net. And now it's just like a souvenir, so I still have the domain. But then I decided to pick up this small net, and the fear that I had, that “Oh my gosh, if I cast a small net, I am not going to catch enough fish,” it was so stupid. It was so stupid.
And I have to cut myself a little slack, but at the same time, keep it real because it wasn't what happened at all. The opposite is what happened, because when I cast myself a small net, and I had a very clear idea who my ICA is—my ICA is Penny. She's a travel advisor. She wants a consistent stream of new clients. She doesn't have a background in business or marketing or sales, but she's passionate about helping people in travel. And the list goes on. I know my ICA so intimately—but when I realized at some point that if I cast this net directly to the fish that I wanted, it was so much easier to get them. And so now I look back and I laugh at the fear that I had. But, yeah, the fear was 100 percent real.
AMY: I think that's so normal. And I love that you are so real about it, too, to just say, like, “Yes, I was afraid. So I kept this other side thing just to bring in some money.” And all of us can look back and remember what we held on to because we were afraid. Is this really going to work?
Now, the great thing is it really did work. So we're going to talk about some of your really amazing, big successes, especially around a digital course. But before we get there, how did you validate that there really was a need for this type of coaching you wanted to do, community you wanted to build, the person you wanted to serve? How did you validate that?
SANDRA: I had a really great teacher—Amy Porterfield—
AMY: Oh, stop it.
SANDRA: —that showed me a really clever strategy, and that was starting kind of small. So I started with a spotlight course. And I had a spotlight course, I had starter course, and I did both of those before I embarked on my signature course. I'm so glad that I did that because I don't think that I would have nailed what needed to be in my signature course. So I started with a very small, $120 course, and it was very specific on one skill, one skill and one strategy. So, “If you learn this skill, you'll be able to implement this strategy, and you'll have results.” And I did that first. I got amazing feedback. And then people were saying, “Well, can you do one on x, y, z? And can you do one on x, y, z?” And I thought, “Well, gosh, I don't want to sell 100 little courses.” And then I put together my signature course.
So, like we talked about before, I did one-on-one work. Then I did a tiny little course. I'm also a huge—because of my television background—I'm a huge fan of doing Facebook Lives. So three times a year, I do a whole week of daily Facebook Lives. I call them power sessions, and I teach for free. And I really put everything out there. I have this amazing studio in my home, and I go up into the studio, and I teach for free. And that gives me, if I listen to my feedback, that also gives me a lot of validation that I'm teaching what people want.
And of course, last but not least, when people write in and they say, “Hey, Sandra, I grew my business by an average of x amount of dollars,” that’s a huge validation.
AMY: Right? That’s my favorite thing to hear.
SANDRA: The best.
AMY: Let's talk about these power sessions you do on Facebook. No one ever says, “I love video and Facebook,” So you're a unicorn. And with that, are you doing these power sessions before a launch? Like, is this a launch strategy?
SANDRA: Yeah. Actually, my power sessions are my prelaunch runway.
SANDRA: So instead of calling them webinars—I found that my specific industry are webinared out, and I think after the pandemic as well, but my personal advice to people who are launching courses, play with the names of things, because maybe you're a Zoom call or your webinar or your meeting, they're not working as well as they did before. I had an event last week, and I wanted to help some students who had not yet started my course but had bought it. And so I hosted a cowork session, which is really just a different name for a Q&A.
SANDRA: So I think that, yeah, the power sessions, I do them three times a year. We do five to seven topics. Everybody registers for them. We have them on Facebook, and I jump in. And I am lucky that I have a studio that can flip sort of slides backwards and forwards with my face. And I absolutely love teaching that way. It's one of my favorite ways to teach.
AMY: Okay. These are great. I love to get launch strategies when I'm talking to someone like you who has had huge success with what you're doing. So I got to write that one down.
Okay. So tell me this. What actions did you take to start attracting this very specific niche? How did you build your email list? How did you build your audience when it's—it’s a smaller audience, for sure.
SANDRA: Oh, it’s small, but it’s very powerful. [unclear 24:06]
AMY: You guys, I can see Sandra; you can’t. And smile from ear to ear every time she talks about Penny, her ideal-customer avatar. So, you’re dialed in, girl. I love it.
SANDRA: Yeah. And listen, Penny—I'll just tell you really quickly—Penny is based off Penny from The Big Bang Theory.
AMY: Oh, I love Penny.
SANDRA: Yeah. So she thought that she wanted to be an actress. She thought that it was going to be really easy. And she moved to Pasadena, and life wasn't easy for her, and then she met a group of people who were the right influence on her. And then she found her passion, and she found strategy, and she had a really successful and happy life. Thanks my ICA. So I find Penny—I have two main top-of-funnel traffic drivers. And I think it's really important when you're embarking on creating a course that you set aside as much time to find your audience and to know your audience as you do creating your course. You can't just jump into slides and figuring out how much you're going to charge for it.
So my two things that I do, one of them was conferences. During the pandemic, obviously, that’s turned into webinars. But it was definitely conferences. I'm very lucky that I picked an audience where I am a well-known industry expert and thought leader, so I get invited to a lot of conferences. That wasn't always the case. I had to turn up to my first conference with a ticket in my hand and beg somebody to invite me back the next year. So I go to conferences. I'm a keynote speaker at conferences. And then I always pay to have a tradeshow booth afterwards. It allows me to meet hundreds or thousands of my ICA in one day or two days or three days. And then I love that it has downtime, whether it's a gala ball or dinner or breakouts like lunches. So I meet a lot of my ideal clients there.
Now, interestingly, when it comes to list building, conference organizers will often give you the email list of people who attend. I do not use that email list. I actually send one email to that list, saying, “I hope that we got to cross paths at the conference. If we didn't, come over and check me out. And if we did, let's stay connected.” And I don't add those people to my email list. I only want people in my email list who choose to climb into it. So that was one strategy that I used a lot. I can't wait to start conferences post pandemic again.
And the second strategy that I use—which I had to pick up when I was pregnant with my son last year. I couldn't fly any longer, and I wanted to still have a consistent stream of audience coming in—so I turned to Facebook Ads, and I really used my video and on-camera skill to be able to create great ads that are video-based ads. And I've been able to get a really consistent audience there, where I'm building my email list. In the beginning, it was little, I have to say. It was, like, five or ten people a week. And then now I think I probably add between 100 and 200 people a week, but not just people. They are my ideal client.
So those are the two strategies that I use. And then the more media that I do, the more that people see me on television and on podcasts, that helps a little bit. But I would say that it's mostly conferences and Facebook Ads.
AMY: Fantastic. I love hearing how it's working for you and how you're attracting your audience.
Okay, let's get to the stuff I'm dying to talk about as well: your successes. Can you talk about what you sell and how well that's been doing? Give us a little insight into your successful business.
SANDRA: I get a little shy talking about it—
AMY: I know.
SANDRA: —because I feel it’s always uncomfortable to talk about money, but I want to keep it 100 and I want to keep it on the table because I feel like I would have liked that when I was learning. So, Amy, I started my business with a huge forty dollars. Four zero. I bought the domain from Google Domains, so that cut me back twelve dollars. And then I couldn't afford a whole year of hosting, so I went month to month.
AMY: I'm dying right now. Dying.
SANDRA: Forty dollars is what I got. I had my face, my phone, my laptop, and forty dollars. And I literally started building my email list, and I started building my content to help people. I offer one signature course now, which I open enrollment—I started opening enrollment twice a year, and then my audience got mad because they had to wait. And I felt guilty, and I did what I should never do—I read the comments.
AMY: Oh, yes.
SANDRA: And then I took it personally, and then I cried a little bit because people were mad with me and I want everyone to like me. So I opened it a third time, but I'm probably never going to do that again. So twice a year I’m putting it out there. Twice a year I launch. And I do my power sessions in the week leading up to enrollment. I have a waitlist, and my course goes for eighteen weeks.
SANDRA: It is eighteen weeks, and every week is a different tactic that is part of your marketing funnel. So in the beginning, of course, we spend all of our time talking about the top of funnel and how to attract people. And it's very specific to the travel industry, so I use our language, and I use our examples and our industry.
And so my first launch that I did, I had sixteen hundred people on my email list, which I thought was ballin’. It was absolutely huge. And then I heard about other people's email lists, and I felt like such an imposter. But I had no choice. I had to keep moving. And I've always been really clear. I follow Neil Patel, and I know that you did a podcast on him recently, and with him, and I really agree with what he says. It's not the size of your email list; it's the health of your email list.
SANDRA: So I have always scrubbed my email list. I delete anyone who hasn't opened an email for me in the last ninety days, but has been subscribed for at least thirty days. And I make sure that I keep that healthy. So I had sixteen hundred people, and I signed up—I did a five-figure launch right away. I think it was around $55,000; $50,000, $55,000 on my first launch. No. Sorry, $40,000 to $45,000 on my first launch. And that was summer of 2019. And I was super pregnant. I had not watched all of DCA at that stage, so I decided to take a vacation the day before launch, and I thought that I could monitor my enrollment from vacation.
AMY: Oh gosh. Lessons learned.
SANDRA: Right. I was on the strip in Vegas. I'll probably never do that again. And then I had a great launch, which was really good. And then I relaunched again in November of last year. I was literally three weeks postpartum with a newborn baby who came three weeks early. And I don't know—again, it was really poor judgment, but I launched right after I had a baby. But it was so magical because everything that I had worked hard for in my first launch—my slide decks, my strategy, my lessons learned that were documented—everything was usable the second time.
So I would have to say the first time around I literally spent months and months of full-time work doing it. The second time around I showed up for my power sessions.
AMY: Oh, okay.
SANDRA: That's all I did. I showed up for my power sessions. And then, of course, I did Q&A with people who had questions, but I didn't do as much the second time.
The third time that I launched my course—so I'd already hit the six figures between those two launches. The third time that I launched my course, I really was almost not going to do it. And I know that I've heard people say this about you before, but they sometimes put on your podcast, and it feels like you're in their head.
SANDRA: I was at the post office, with the baby, and we were sitting in the car, and I was telling the baby, “We're not going to have drama in the post office, right?” And your podcast flipped on when I was trying to get out of the car, and you were talking about should you launch or not launch during COVID. So I was like, “Okay, baby, we're going to stay and listen to this.” And you told us, you told baby and I, that we should launch. So we did. And I was fearful, I have to tell you. I'm not competent in everything that I do. I would be lying if I said I was. But we launched, I launched, and I was fearful because my audience, I have to hand it to them, they’ve had a rough year. Not only are people not traveling now, but listen to this. Everything that they did last year just got canceled—
AMY: Oh, wow.
SANDRA: —just got refunded. So travel advisors make their money when you travel. They get their service fee if they charge one upfront, but they don't actually make their commissions on your trip until you travel. So all the hard work that they did last year just got canceled. So can you imagine all your successes of the previous year? You have to give that back. It was frightening.
AMY: Yes, yes.
SANDRA: And then, on top of that, nobody right now wants to travel. So there's no chance of earning any money right now. They are looking at Q2 of next year before they can earn a single dollar. And you told me to launch.
AMY: Oh, no, I'm nervous right now.
SANDRA: I had my biggest launch ever.
AMY: What? What do you attribute that to? Why do you think you did?
SANDRA: I attribute that to what you said, and this is for real, you said if I didn't show up for the people who needed me, I was doing them a disservice. If I didn't show up for the thousands of travel advisors who felt like they had just had their businesses ripped out from underneath them, if I didn't show up for my ICA that's the breadwinner, if I didn't show up for my ICA whose partner just got furloughed, if I didn't show up for those—I get really emotional when I talk about this—
AMY: I know.
SANDRA: —if I didn't show up for them because I was afraid that I wouldn't hit my goals, that's so dumb.
SANDRA: It's so dumb. And it's kind of selfish because those people needed me. So it wasn't—I don't know. I was in my head. I was like, “Well, I shouldn't do it because maybe I'm not going to hit my goals.” And then a little bit of we didn't want to be tone deaf to the fact that I was trying to sell something when people had no money. But I really had to put my clarity on and just remember that I needed to serve people.
I had the biggest enrollment that I have ever had. What was really incredible was—I'm really into the numbers. I looked at the number of people who were new to my list, and it was a huge number of people new to my list. So not only did my list double right at the beginning of the pandemic because people were looking for help, but my enrollments came from such a high percentage of new to list. And I realized then and there, these people really need me.
And so I've made a few changes to this launch of my course. In the course right now, they're in their last six weeks to go. And I've shown up more than I usually do. It's kind of like pop-up surprises and some cowork sessions together because I'm not traveling. Where am I going? And I just really feel like it's an unusual time to be really trying to grow and launch your business.
But, yeah, not only did I have a successful launch, but I can see that the work that my students are doing right now is really phenomenal. And they're seeing results, not because people are booking travel, but because their email lists are growing, their lead magnets are created. It’s been pretty exciting.
AMY: Very exciting. So you essentially went from starting your business with forty dollars to literally a seven-figure business. Is that fair to say?
SANDRA: Yeah. So a few of my projects will postpone because of COVID, but we’ll be set for a seven figure of sales by the end of this year or beginning of next year.
AMY: I am so ecstatic for you. It's so well-deserved.
SANDRA: Oh, thank you. I get excited because it's allowed me to do a lot of things in my personal life that I had not been able to do. I remember I sent you a video message a while back, and I opened with, “Thank you for our baby, Amy.”
AMY: You did. I was dying. You have to explain that.
SANDRA: Yeah, I know. Amy bought me a baby off the—no, I can’t—
AMY: Stop it.
SANDRA: So my husband and I are in our forties, and we met later in life and just got married later than what some of our friends did. And you haven't got a lot of time when you want to start having a family in your forties. So the money from this course has allowed us, number one, to both become debt free. My husband was able to clear his debt. I was able to clear mine. He's very successful in his own right, but both the us now successful was great. It allowed us to be able to get some help and to have a baby. It's allowed us to be able to build a house, that we're working on right now. And I think, also, really importantly during this time, your viewers might not know this about me, but I am a black woman. I'm a woman of color. I'm actually biracial. My dad is white. My mom is black. My husband is African-American. And I'm so grateful for these blessings because with these financial blessings, I can start a program that's going to be completely free of charge, that will give back to the businesses in my community and help them to grow. And I think that that's something that if I had this opportunity to do it two years ago, I might have hesitated because I didn't have the money to do it or I couldn't take the time to do it. So I feel like I'm exactly where I’m meant to be.
AMY: You are truly. And doing exactly what you’re meant to be doing.
So, I just got to tell you, I'm so excited we finally got to meet here because when I saw your video, instantly I'm like, “I love her, and I need to have her on my podcast.” So thank you for this. Thank you for inspiring, being honest and vulnerable and sharing this. And I truly hope that we stay connected.
SANDRA: Absolutely, guaranteed.
AMY: Thanks, friend.
AMY: Gwen, thank you so much for being on the show. I really appreciate it.
GWEN: Thank you so much, Amy, for having me.
AMY: This is so fun because you and I have spent some time together, and I've always wanted to have you on the show. And this is the perfect time to do so because I love the topic.
So before we get into all the details, tell me a little bit about your business and, most importantly, who do you serve?
GWEN: Yeah. So I started The Spark School, which is for digital influencers, so that's content creators, YouTubers, people who post content on Instagram. So I help them grow and monetize their channels. A lot of the time they just start posting content, and they really don't know what they're doing as far as a business. So I help them turn that into a business that makes money.
AMY: Okay, perfect.
And when did you start to identify that you were attracting an underrepresented community? And would you call it an underrepresented community? I don't want to put words in your mouth. And also, was this intentional, or did it just start to unfold naturally?
GWEN: Yeah. So when I started as an influencer myself, I noticed that a lot of the big brands were working with people who were not people of color. And when I was trying to find mentors in the online space, I didn’t see a lot of people who looked like me. And so I was trying to look for someone, and all the coaches did not look like me. And so when, then, I started my own membership community, I saw that most of the people that I attracted were women of color, and a lot of them were Asian, black, Latino. And so I was wondering, “Why are these people coming to me?” And I saw that, when looking at my competition, most of them were white-women coaches. And so when I would ask my students, “How did you find me?” or “Why did you decide to go with me?” they said it was because I looked like them, and they wanted to learn from someone who looked like them.
AMY: Oh, wow. And I think that's a really great lesson for all of us to hear, that if you're ever curious, or you should be curious, why people are choosing to learn from you and choosing to follow you. And if you ask them, you might actually uncover something that you want to build on, you want to do more of. Like, “Oh, that's awesome. I didn't even know that was why you were following me. I could double down on that because I love that,” whatever it might be. So I think it was so smart that you asked them.
And I'm learning more, as I have committed to be more diverse and inclusive in my business and in my community and in my programs, that people do want to see themselves in all that they do and all that they're diving into and what they're paying for. So obviously, I'm a white woman, and if a black woman buys from me, she's not seeing herself, possibly, in me, but the people that are part of my community, the case studies, the success stories, and all of that can really be a reflection. So you really made a conscious effort to double down in that area.
GWEN: Definitely. And what I also saw was that most of the price ranges for all the things that were available in my niche were a lot higher than a lot of people were used to, especially because for people of color, sometimes the socioeconomic disparity exists. And so a lot of people are not able to afford $1,000, $2,000 courses to get started. And so I found that they were also going to me because I created an affordable option that was less than fifty dollars a month to get started. And I'm also in the line of being more accessible for people of color. I'm also creating a scholarship program for future members.
AMY: Yes. And I know that's not to say that all women of color can't afford something that's more expensive. But you did hit on something that I really do think is important, that when you're just getting started, a big, hefty price tag of $2,000, $3,000 to work with someone or to buy their program, that's a really big leap. And so you were aware of that as well?
GWEN: Yes, definitely. And that was something that I got feedback from from my audience, which I learned from Amy, of course, was that they were looking for something. And although there were other courses out there, mine was the most affordable, and then, also, they wanted to learn from someone who looked like them. And so it was like a double—I guess they got the twofer on that one.
AMY: Yeah, for sure.
Now, how did you validate that there was a need for this kind of coaching and this type of community that you wanted to create?
GWEN: So I actually started launching my membership through webinars. I was actually—
AMY: Oh, yeah.
GWEN: I was a student from Webinars that Convert, so—
GWEN: O.G. student. And I just love teaching. I just love running workshops. And I was already doing it in person. And so having a way to do it online, and eventually having it on evergreen and having me as a robot going over and over again and not doing it as a human and being tired all the time was like, “Wow, I could do that? Let's do that.”
And so I started running webinars, and I just had so many people signing up. And that's how I grew my membership really quickly from zero to 300 members in just four months.
AMY: So fantastic. That’s awesome.
And I'm curious about—so primarily you have—we're going to talk about some of your successes, but you have a membership site, right?
AMY: And I'm curious. If you are attracting—are you attracting mainly—although I know it's not exclusive to—mainly women of color that want to be influencers? Would you say that's the bulk of the audience you've attracted into your membership?
GWEN: Yes, definitely.
AMY: And do you think that the conversations are different in your group than they might be in another group where maybe it's primarily white women wanting to be influencers, and it just so happened that there's another group out there that maybe is primarily white women? Do you intentionally have different conversations?
GWEN: Definitely. So with everything that was going on, I definitely took it as a chance to step up as a leader and give them the space to talk about it, because 90 percent of my members are women of color. And so we all kind of, collectively as a group, wanted to support our black members. And so we had some really good conversations in there. We usually help each other and support each other's posts, and we decided to amplify all the black voices in our community. So we did a lot of stuff to kind of support them at that time, and even now we have ongoing systems to have that in place.
But in the influencer-marketing industry, now that that's being exposed, there has been always a preferential kind of treatment for white-women influencers that have that lifestyle that we all see on Instagram. And now I think, now with this movement, I think we're seeing brands make a commitment to feature and work with more women of color. And there was even an article I shared with everyone where one of the big agencies was exposed for offering a black influencer, like, 20 percent of what they offer to white influencers. So now as influencers, we get to choose which brands and agencies we work with, and we are more selective about their stance on anti-racism and Black Lives Matter.
AMY: Got it. And, you know, as you were talking, it got me thinking. We talked about the fact that this episode is around underrepresented niches. But you could also take that word out and just say really hyper-focused niches, because they're attracting a certain type of person that is interested in a very specific area.
And I want you all to hear, all of my listeners, that when you niche down, you get to have more unique conversations. I honestly believe that the conversations are more rich, more meaningful, usually deeper. And you usually can get so much more engagement in your membership, in your Facebook groups, in the community as a whole, when you are super niched because you all have such commonalities between you, whether it be around race or a totally different topic. But if you're looking for more engagement, deeper conversations, more meaningful, then you do get hyper niched in your business, and you will see more of that. So as we all know, the more general the conversations, the less meaning they have behind them. So something to think about.
Okay. So my next question for you is, were you worried about making money when you first got started? So you kind of found your way into what we're calling an underrepresented community, and were you worried, like, “Is this going to make me any money?”
GWEN: Definitely. I had all the fears of someone just starting out with their online business. Like, is this even going to be something someone wants to buy? Are people going to want to pay for this? And I give so much free content, I was like, “Oh, my gosh. I love everything out there. Are you going to pay for extra stuff?” But because I did the webinars and I followed Amy's outline, you know what, it was definitely people wanted a guide, a mentor, support. They wanted things step by step, in order.
So, yeah, after the first couple launches, I think after you just have a few launches under your belt, then you start building that confidence. And then now we have a huge community, and I've had over 3,000 members go through my community.
AMY: Wow. That's a lot. And I love, when you and I were talking offline, that you said with your first launch, twenty people. And, you know, if you could get twenty people, you could get 200 and—
AMY: It's like a numbers game. It is very true. That's a great way to look at it.
GWEN: And it was twenty-seven dollars with twenty people. And I was like, “Yes! I made $400 on my first launch.” [unclear 47:33]
AMY: I love—you have such a great attitude.
GWEN: So for those of you who are like, “I need a six-figure launch right away,” I didn't want to kind of put that expectation. And for me, it was just like, “If I can get twenty, I can get 2,000.” And it's totally true.
AMY: I love that. Fantastic. So good.
Okay, so tell me this. We often talk about limiting beliefs on this podcast, because when you grow a business, it is so easy to think, “Oh, I can't do that because x, y, z.” So did you have any limiting beliefs about this specific niche?
GWEN: Definitely. One of them was actually related to what we were talking about as far as diversity. I would see all these white coaches, white bloggers, and I was thinking, “Why would they want to learn from me when they can learn from this person?” And culturally, I'm Filipino American. In Asian cultures and in a lot of cultures, we're taught, just by through society, that white people are superior to us. And so I had to kind of shift that belief and be like, you know what, maybe they want to learn from me because I am not white, and I don't I look like them, and I can relate to all of the problems in the culture and all the things that I have experienced myself rather than someone who hasn't gone through that themselves.
AMY: So true. And I think, even beyond race, so many of my listeners will have that same thought: Why would they want to learn from me when they could learn from fill-in-the-blank? Someone more experienced; someone white, like your experience; or someone who has certifications; or someone who's been doing this for twenty years. I've only been doing this for a year. Those are such natural thoughts that come up when you start building your business and creating digital courses specifically. So I'm glad that you brought that up because you still prevailed, you still moved forward even though you had these limiting beliefs. I guess I want you all to hear right now—like, lean in a little closer, because this one's really important—you will always have limiting beliefs. Do you agree, Gwen? Now that your business is hugely successful, we're always going to have those beliefs that seep in, right?
GWEN: Yes. And it doesn't stop there. Just because you reached a certain level or certain revenue goal, you're going to have to continue working on those beliefs because more things come up. I'm sure you know, Amy, as well. New level, new devil, right?
AMY: Yep. It’s so true. Someone just said that to me the other day. I'm like, yes, yes, and yes.
Okay. So speaking of keeping moving forward and getting success, you have had some great success. So tell me about some of your successes within your niche and your community.
GWEN: Yeah. So now that we mastered the—when I say we, it's me and my husband working the business together—now that we've mastered launches, we have put our membership on evergreen, which I love, because I get to make money in my sleep and welcome people in all the time. We just hit $50,000 in revenue in June, so super proud of that.
AMY: Wow. Congrats.
GWEN: Yeah. Thank you.
AMY: Well, you mean just for the month of June?
GWEN: For the month of June.
AMY: Oh my gosh. So I have notes here that the month of May, you hit $40,000, and then in June, you hit $50,000.
AMY: Congrats. That's so awesome.
GWEN: Thank you. And we are only two and a half years in, so I think that’s super, super fast, and I'm super grateful for that.
And also, I love my group so much. We are the most diverse group online as far as influencer membership communities out there. We’re 90 percent women of color, and so I'm super proud of having a safe space for people to talk about issues like racism and everything that's going on in the world.
We've had over 3,000 members, and now we have over 800 active members in the community. And we're on track to make our first million-dollar year this year.
AMY: Congrats. That's so awesome. That's got to feel so good.
GWEN: It does.
And actually, one more thing that I wanted to add to that is now I'm actually able to hire more people because of the revenue goals that we've been able to hit. And I'm also super proud that my team is 90 percent women of color.
AMY: That is very cool. I absolutely love that.
Now, I also know that your revenue registration is 30 percent. And so by registration, you mean your show-up rate or conversions?
GWEN: So I have a registration rate of 30 percent and about 30 percent show up. And then we get about 15 percent conversion.
AMY: A 15 percent conversion is really high. Like, that is excellent. So talk to us, before I let you go, talk to us a little bit about why do you think that your webinars do so well, in terms of 30 percent showing up is outstanding, 15 percent conversion is outstanding. What do you say, what is that from?
GWEN: Oh my god. I just did everything Amy told me to do, right?
AMY: Stop it.
GWEN: I've used the fill-up formula. I email them like crazy to show up. Like, it doesn't stop when you just send them to a registration page. The work doesn't stop. And then once they do register, got to keep reminding them. So I'm, like, the follow-up queen.
When I finally hired an ads agency, which was this year—I was running my ads on my own—they were like, “You were very thorough. How are these, all these reminders, follow-up emails?” I'm like, “That's Amy Porterfield.”
AMY: Oh my gosh. I love you. And I did not pay her to say that, I promise.
But it’s so cool that you're just a really good student, which makes me just so excited to know that you use the tools. And then now here you are two and half years later and killing it. Your numbers are outstanding. I'm so excited for you. I know you have a big move in the works. So by the time that this airs, you will have moved. And people can learn about this move and see what you're up to if they follow you online. So where can people find you?
GWEN: So they can find me at gwenlane.com, and you'll be able to see my adventures as an influencer as well as learn more about The Spark School.
AMY: Awesome. And how about if they want to find you on Instagram?
GWEN: Right now, my handle is theLAgirl, but that will be changing because I will be moving to Minnesota.
AMY: So, are you going to work on a new handle?
GWEN: Yes, I will. TBD
AMY: Okay, perfect. So we'll be following. We'll be checking you out. And in the show notes, guys, by the time this goes live, Gwen will have a new handle, and we're going to post it in the show notes because it's going to be really fun to watch her in a new journey.
So congratulations on all of your success, my friend. And thank you so much for coming on the show.
GWEN: Thank you, Amy, so much for having me.
AMY: Well, hey, there, LeeAnn. Thanks so much for being here.
LEEANN: Thanks so much for having me. What a pleasure. I’m excited.
AMY: Oh, I'm excited, too, because you've got a good story.
So let's just start at the top. Tell me a little bit about your business, and, most importantly, tell me, who do you serve?
LEEANN: Sure. So my business is called Fit & Fab Lifestyle. Fit & Fab Lifestyle. And we serve a size-inclusive community of women who are really looking for an opportunity to improve their well-being from the inside out—spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. But they want to do it in a way where they can celebrate themselves along the journey to becoming the best version of themselves, whatever that looks like for them. And so this group of dynamic women, it runs the gamut. So we predominantly have a community of African American women who are of the Christian faith, or people who share similar moral values or just general life principles, women who are bosses in their own right but who really want to improve in some very specific areas. And so it's such a great group. It's such a great group.
AMY: I bet. And tell me this. How did this come about? Like, how did you decide this is the type of business you wanted to create, and these were the women that you wanted to serve?
LEEANN: Yeah. So it's hard to talk about being an entrepreneur without kind of reflecting on my own personal journey and my own personal journey to wellness. And so back in 2008, I kind of went on my own personal wellness journey and lost 144 pounds.
AMY: Oh my goodness. From a girl that has been losing weight all her life, let me just say, that is really amazing.
LEEANN: Here’s the kicker in this story, though, Amy. I spent all of my life really desiring to get to that after picture of 144 pounds of weight loss, thinking that there was so much tied to it, as far as feeling successful, feeling confident. And then I got there, and I felt less confident and more vulnerable than I did in the larger frame.
AMY: Wow. Okay.
LEEANN: Yeah. And so when I got there, I realized that, okay, I need to kind of run back and tell other people who were about to embark on a wellness journey, on a physical journey to lose weight, that you have to really avoid these false confidence factors, and really have yourself built up and girded up from the inside out. That's what true wellness really was.
So I created this community through my book. I started by chronicling my journey and really focused, on that book, on acceptance. And so the whole purpose of it was to let people know, yeah, the weight loss is amazing, but at the end of the day, it's about how do you feel about yourself from the inside out? and that's where the true well-being comes from. And everything else is kind of second after that. And so it started with the book—
AMY: Okay, yes. This is good.
LEEANN: Yeah. I started with this book, kind of built up a following from there, and found that there's people, regardless of size, regardless of age, that really connected with the story. And through that, I said, “We've got to pull all these people together.” And then that kind of birthed my retreat, Fit & Fab Weekend Retreat. And then from there came a course, and on and on and on. I'll get into more of it. It sounds like you may want to jump in there, but I could go on and on about this.
AMY: Okay. I'll hold you back just a second, because I have a question for you, and that is, so you are a great example. When I teach how to create digital courses, how to build businesses, I always say you're coming from one of three approaches: either you've gotten results for yourself and you want to teach others how to get those results, or you've learned some lessons, usually some hard lessons, along the way, and you want to teach that; or you do tons of one-on-one consulting. You want to take that framework and put it into a course or a business model; or you know some kind of technique—a software, an application—that you want to teach, and people are always asking you, “How are you using that?” So you do approach number one. You got results for yourself, you learned some lessons along the way, and then you wrote the book and you started teaching that, and it morphed into some really cool things that I want to talk about.
But when you have your own experience and you realized “I lost the weight, and I didn't feel like I thought I was going to feel, whoa, there's a lesson here. I've got to back up,” how did you validate that there was actually a need for this kind of coaching and this kind of community outside of just yourself?
LEEANN: Such a great question, Amy. The first part is the other part of my story, which is the before after the after. So I gained all the weight back. That's the other part of the story. I gained all the weight back, plus some. And I realized that there was a void in the space of wellness, in the space of even confidence, where it kind of ends at the after picture and it doesn’t talk about what is life after that. And similar to business, right? I'm sure you experienced that, too, in your own journey as a business owner. There is an after after—there’s a before after the after, right?
LEEANN: And so there was kind of a void in the community, and I said, “I need to provide that messaging there. “ And so through connecting with people through the book; through doing speaking engagements locally at churches, at conference, at schools, speaking to young girls in the community; and then just through befriending people at conferences, networking, getting people's numbers, connecting through Instagram, on a personal level, it showed me that there is this wide variety of people who need support in this particular area, in the area of wellness from the inside out, in the area of building sustainable confidence.
AMY: Okay. So your story is incredible because you can talk to all different phases of this experience of self-love and self-acceptance, and you’ve really walked through it all. So that's powerful. And guys, you don't have to have that same experience. But LeeAnn and I both have that, where we walk through it first, and then that's how we started to talk about it and connect.
I also love, and I hope you all heard this, you really got what I usually call scrappy, where you were not saying, “I have to be on a stage of 500 people in the audience for me to speak about this.” You were going to local establishments. You were getting in your DMs. You were doing all the things to connect with people. And one of my dear friends, Jasmine Star, I always say she's scrappy, where she just will do whatever it takes to learn about her audience. And I feel like that was your superpower.
LEEANN: Yeah. That's such a great way to put it like that. Yes. Being a human being, I call it, right?
AMY: What a concept.
LEEANN: What a concept. I think sometimes, even I at one point, get so wrapped up in this kind of online-marketing world, thinking you have to have all the things on social media or on your website, when really people want human connection. And so my personal superpower, even before starting a business, is connecting with other human beings. It's something that I enjoy, something that I'm really good at, and so I carried that into my business.
Amy, I still call people who are interested in my course. I call people who want to come to the retreat. And you can only—I just want you to imagine the gasps and the sounds of surprise when they're like, “Oh, you're a real person. You’re actually calling me.” And it makes people—it shows people that you're investing in them just as much as they're investing in you.
And working on something, as far as confidence, you have to realize that no matter how confident people may project themselves to be, they can be amazing in their business or in their nine-to-fives or in their families and communities, sometimes there's that little piece that says, “Hey, I can do all of this for other people, but I don't deserve it.” And so me being able to extend my hand, extend a real human touch and human face to people, helps reassure them that it's okay.
LEEANN: This is something you can trust.
AMY: I love that you said people are like, “Wait a second. You're a real person?” I've been doing random Instagram voice text DMs. You know how you can record your voice for one minute?
LEEANN: That’s brilliant. Mm-hmm.
AMY: And all the time, people like, “Oh my gosh, I can't believe you actually reached out, and it's actually you,” and that always just reminds me: more human touch, more human touch. It's so important now more than ever. So I'm glad you brought that up.
Okay, so I'm going to ask you a question that so many of my audience members want to know, and that is, how did you attract your audience if there wasn't an existing community for it? What you're doing, in many ways, is a trailblazer. So how do you find an audience if you can't go into Facebook groups that already have what you're doing set up? What does that look like?
LEEANN: Yes, that's a great question. So I started where I existed. So I started within the communities that I frequented myself. I started with the conferences that I went to. I started with the churches that I attended or the community groups I participated in. And I extended myself in those spaces, whether it be networking kind of one to one and sharing over a smoothie what I do, what they do. But it was also in pitching myself in these networks, so identifying where there was an opportunity and saying, “Hey, I think there's something that I can do to kind of serve your community,” and not always attaching money to it, saying, “Hey, I'm willing to share for twenty minutes to your group. I think this could really be helpful to them.” And then from there, connecting with people, getting their emails, as you teach us, right?
LEEANN: And connect with them on social, and then building more of a following that way.
Something that I’ve noticed kind of in this community, I was doing a lot of work in kind of the plus-sized blogger community. There’s a whole plus-sized-fashion blogger space, where it's kind of a safe space for women of a certain size who want to look fabulous, who want to feel like they're embraced and welcomed. At the same time, there is a community of women who are fit, who are featured in Shape magazine. They're your advocates who are doing yoga, all these different things. And those two communities did not always collide before. And so what I found was that there was a little bit of a gap there, but because I was in both communities and was a customer of those, if you will, I was able to see where those intersectionalities were and really take advantage of that and create my own space.
Now you see a lot more of those two communities converging. There's so much more body positivity and acceptance when it comes to fitness and being a curvy woman, or wellness and not doing CrossFit. That's not your thing, but there's this kind of convergence of love and wellness. And I found a really nice sweet spot there. And that's kind of the community that I've really started to develop and also dove into.
AMY: And you really pay attention. You get, like I said, you get into the conversations, you pay attention to what people are talking about, what they need, what's going on, and where you can add value. So I think there's something to be said about that. Of course, we all think we pay attention, but are we really diving in in that area? And I think you have. So I just wanted to point that out as well as people are listening and learning and getting inspired by what you're doing.
So tell me this. Did you have any limited or limiting beliefs about building a business around this type of community? Did you have any fears or doubts that come up for you, or were you like, “Game on, move over, here I come”?
LEEANN: I wish I were that gung-ho in the beginning. I will say I'm the type of person who, if there’s not something there for me, I want to create it. If there's not an event that you're calling me to, I’ll create my own event. Like that was my driving force to create my own space. However, the limiting belief wasn't necessarily about the community. It was my own personal limiting belief. And it was that, am I worthy of you investing in my products and what I had to bring to the table? Are you willing to invest? And am I worthy of that investment?
And so then I started to kind of project that on the community, assuming that people wouldn't be willing to invest or willing to pay for different things that I offered, to the point where, very early on, I didn't want to charge anything. If you can think about it, how can you be in business and not charge anything? But I felt like it was such a calling and so purpose driven that I questioned, should I even be charging for this? Right?
AMY: Okay, that’s a big one. I think a lot of people feel that way. It's such a calling, it’s so personal, it’s so passionate, I'm so passionate about it, well, should I really be charging for it? So how did you get past that?
LEEANN: You know, the biggest thing was doing my own self-work, my own personal development. In 2017, I invested personally in personal-development coaching, even in business coaching, even in personal training, like physical training, because I was doing all this work to build these amazing experiences for other people, and I still felt like I am not fully well. I don't meet the picture that I'm saying I want other people to meet. And so I took the time to start investing in myself. And once I did that, I realized the benefit of investing in yourself. And so I could speak to it, and it was easier for me to sell it, if you will, because I made that own investment. And so it shifted from, “Am I worthy of them investing into me?” to “Because you are worthy, you deserve to invest in yourself. Therefore, you will, and you should invest in me. You should invest in these products because this is going to help you.”
And so it kind of connected my purpose to my bank account, if you will, because why can't your purpose or your calling be tied to your business? It doesn't have to be either/or, but it can be both/and. And so I would say the number-one thing for anyone listening—like, I'm in your shoes, too. I listen to Amy's podcast. I'm one of the patrons of her courses. I'm working on my business, too—the biggest thing you want to work on is focusing on your own development, investing into you, so that you can then invest into others and have the confidence to ask for what you really do deserve, because it makes other people believe that they deserve it, too.
AMY: Mic drop. I mean, come one. That is so true. Yes, yes, and yes.
Now, you mentioned your bank account. So talk to me about some of the successes you've had with your niche in your community.
LEEANN: Wow. It's so exciting. This last year has been so exciting for us at Fit & Fab Lifestyle. I think the biggest win recently was when I transitioned my retreat.
So you can ask my husband, you can ask anybody in my circle, when I start working on this retreat, this is like my little baby, right? And so from 2016, 2017, I did this retreat, and I took a pause when I started to do my own personal development, and paused it for two years. And when I rebooted, I launched it, and the investment for the ticket price was over 1,000 percent greater than the first ticket price in 2016, and I sold out the entire retreat.
LEEANN: And I’d never sold out before. A 1,400 percent increase because I believed that I was worthy and, therefore, people believed that they were worthy, too, and attracted the right clients, attracted the people who need it. So I would say that is probably the biggest thing, and that's what, I would say in a way, blew my mind, too, because I really saw that when you invest, when you really believe, when you build your own confidence in what you have to offer, the clients will come. You will attract what you're putting out there.
LEEANN: I think some of the other successes are some anecdotes that I would love to share about some of my students in the Confidence Code Course. So this is kind of the latest offering that we're providing to our audience, this Confidence Code Course, which is all about building sustainable confidence within so that you can feel successful from the inside out.
And so we've had people, an assistant district attorney, for example, completed our beta test for this. And she is facing so many different twists and turns in the juvenile justice system, from working with youth and young adults who are in trouble, to other attorneys, to police officers and judges. So you can only imagine a level, potentially, of stress that she might encounter.
And in working with us through this program, really was able to boost her confidence so she could go into those courtrooms, with the assurity that not only did she know what she was talking about, but she could also remain a woman of integrity in her pursuit of doing it while juggling her young family, too.
And then we've had women, like a mama of four who also works in the medical profession, take the course. And she just wanted to have the confidence and courage to say no to other things so that she could carve out enough time to spend with her children who needed some special attention in that particular season.
So those are the things that really make my heart smile. And that’s why I’m doing the work that I’m doing.
AMY: Aren't those—first of all, two great stories, and I love when we use our case studies and success stories to tell the stories versus just talk about ourselves. So I love that you brought those two up.
And don't they make all the hard days and hard work worth it, when you start to see these stories come in?
LEEANN: It really does. And you know what, Amy? I've also been working on adjusting how I'm looking at hard and easy. I used to say so much, “This so hard,” and I get it. We work, right?
LEEANN: We’ve got to do this thing. But I've been shifting my mindset to “It's not hard. It's just additional energy and focus that I have to put on this.” So shifting my focus to that makes the days a lot more seamless and easier to endure.
AMY: Yes. I one million percent agree. And I love the fact that you're selling out your retreats, you're doing big things, and you've got happy customers that are doing big things as well.
So I love your story. I am so glad you agreed to come on the podcast and tell it, and I just really appreciate you. So thank you so very much.
LEEANN: Thank you, Amy. I appreciate you, too. All the best to you and everyone who's listening.
AMY: Well, before I let you go, if people want to learn more about you, where can they go?
LEEANN: Oh, yeah. Duh, right?
AMY: I always forget to ask, to tell you the truth, so I'm so glad I remembered. So rude of me.
LEEANN: Absolutely. So you can go to leeannsims.com, or you can find me anywhere on social at @fitfabweekend. @fitfabweekend.
AMY: Perfect. Thanks, again, friend. I really appreciate you being here.
LEEANN: Absolutely. Thanks so much, Amy.
AMY: So there you have it.
I hope you loved these stories as much as I have. And I think what I loved most about them is that although all of the women had these self-limiting beliefs, they were determined to serve, and how serving their audience and, really, filling a void resulted in not only a successful business, but also allowed them to do something that they loved and really felt passionate about.
So if you're wondering if there's enough of an audience for you to show up and serve an underrepresented community, get to work. Start doing your research, start putting out content to attract that audience, and really dive in to see what might happen. You might really surprise yourself.
Now, maybe you're saying, “Okay, this is great and all, but I'm still not sure how to get started with all of this.” Well, my friend, I have a great resource to help you do just that. I created a brand-new, free quiz. It's so good. We've been poring over this for so very long. And the quiz will help you to identify your personal path to creating a profitable digital course. Now, not only will this quiz help you paint the path that you'll take to create a digital course, but it will help you gain some clarity around your niche and really around finding that community that really needs what you have to offer.
So here's what I want you to do right this minute. Head on over to amyporterfield.com/quiz. It takes just two minutes to complete the quiz, and you're going to get your results. And that's what we pored over. The results are literally your marching orders, your next steps to create a digital course that will attract your perfect ideal audience and really give you clarity around what you want to create and who you want to create this course for. So that's amyporterfield.com/quiz. Don't wait. Go take the quiz right away.
All right. I will see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.