Scaling to 7 figures in annual revenue is a pretty impressive feat! And today’s guest, Kate Toon, has done this with NO paid advertising.
In this episode, she shares her impressive results, including how she keeps her focus on her profit line and the marketing strategies that have lead to this success. This episode is packed with practical advice, a dose of giggles and plenty of inspiration.
In this Episode:
05.16: How long does it take to build up to 7 figures
09.05: A different kind of marketing strategy
15.00: The intentions behind creating a 7 figure business
16.30: What would it feel like it revenue stayed the same or was halved
18.44: Having an end date for business and how to approach it
22.49: A real life Facebook Ads experiment – is it worth it?
29.40: How to stay fresh and ahead of the game
33.38: Being open about the financial results
Kate Toon is a writing entrepreneur, as well as a popular coach, speaker, author and podcaster. She’s also a mad good hula hooper.
Her digital education businesses The Recipe for SEO Success and The Clever Copywriting School have helped more than 8000 small business owners grapple the Google beast and write better content.
Kate runs Australia’s only dedicated annual copywriting conference COPYCON.She presents at events around the world and runs several hugely successful Facebook groups.
Author of the popular business self-help book Confessions of a Misfit Entrepreneur: How to succeed in business despite yourself, Kate lives on the Central Coast of Sydney, where she loves wandering on the beach with her son and her CFO (Chief Furry Office-dog) Pomplemousse.
Is it possible to build a business, turning over a million dollars a year, with no paid ad spend? Today, I welcome back to the podcast for a second time, Kate Toon, and she shares how she has grown her business to seven figures organically with no paid advertising. We chat about the growth in her business, and she even shares her specific results year-by-year. Kate shares how she built her audience, the biggest factors that contributed to her growth. We also chat about her plans for the future and what she would do if her business was to decline. This episode is inspiring, practical and lots of fun. Let’s begin.
You’re listening to the Clare Wood podcast, where we talk all things business, finance, marketing, and mindset for entrepreneurs, sharing practical tips, and actionable advice to help you take your business to the next level. Introducing your host: me! I’m Clare Wood, I’m a numbers geek, a travel lover, and a reality tv addict, and I’m here to empower you to create an extraordinary business and an amazing life, because I believe you don’t have to choose between the two. Now let’s dive right in to today’s episode.
CLARE: Welcome to the podcast for a second time, Kate Toon.
KATE: I’m very honored to be back for a second time. Although I did have to persuade you to let me come back.
CLARE: She’s bought me multiple gifts and… no, truthfully, I am really excited to share this story with the listeners, because I recently had Steph Taylor on here and she was chatting about how she’s had these $300,000 months, but she was sharing some of the secrets behind it, which is that a lot of that money did go on Facebook ads. And I love that you have built your business almost entirely organically without paid advertising. And that’s what I really wanted to tap into today, really understand a little bit more about that, how you’ve done it, so that the listeners can maybe do the same. But before we get into that, I probably should. I assume that everyone knows you, but there might be people to the podcast who haven’t listened to our first episode together. So can I get you to do a quick intro to who you are and what you do?
KATE: I’m Kate Toon. I now have three core businesses. The Clever Copywriting School, which is a site where I teach copywriters how to have successful and enjoyable careers. It’s got a directory, a job board, a shop, a membership, a podcast and a conference. My second business, which is really my first business is The Recipe for SEO success, which teaches small business owners and e-comm stores how to grapple Google… and there’s a big course there, smaller courses, resources, and a podcast, as well as most recently my membership, my mentoring group, which is called The Digital Master Chefs, where I teach everybody basically how to use digital marketing to drive more sales, more traffic, more awareness, and all that good stuff. And that’s on katetoon.com. So three main things now.
CLARE: Fabulous. And I am a proud graduate of The Recipe for SEO Success. If you do want to find out a little bit more about how to nail your Google, please make sure you do go and check out my first episode with Kate, which I’ll pop in the show notes for today’s episode. So you can learn a bit more about making the Google gods happy, as you would say. But, that’s not what today is about.
KATE: No, I actually reached out to you after your episode with Steph Taylor. Cause I listened to it and I found it fascinating. You were so funny cause you were like, we’re not going to do a title that goes on about 300K. And then the title was like 300K, and I was so intrigued. It made everyone listen. It was really smart. I listened to it and I thought it was fascinating, but I was also kind of appalled at the amount of money that had been spent on Facebook ads, but appalled, intrigued, excited, interested. And I contacted you and said, would you love to see the other side of this? How can you make that much money and spend no money at all of it? So I harassed you into letting me do this episode.
CLARE: I tried to make it out that I approached you, but..
KATE: I just thought it was really interesting to put the other side across. And also I’m sick of talking about SEO. So that’s the other reason.
CLARE: I’m super interested to learn a bit more about the other side. I don’t think there’s any right or wrong. It’s just a different way of doing things.
Let’s really get into it. So first of all, can you share a little bit about, how you’ve built a seven figure business, over a period of what time?
How long did it take to build up to 7 figures
KATE: I think when you say seven figure business, it’s really important to caveat that. So is it seven figures a year? Is it seven figures since I started? I’m pretty much scraping to the point of seven figures a year. And that really has happened over the last three years. So I actually, I got a CFO to have a look at my figures, a virtual CFO, and really there was a massive leap. I had like a 500% increase in income or something ridiculous like that, in 2017. And since then it’s been pretty steady and this year has been stellar. So I’m not, not quite at seven figures this year, but I’m nearly there and that’s revenue. So that’s a really important thing to say.
CLARE: One of my big things that I always talk about is profit, profit, profit. And I started talking about this sales number as well, and I’m so glad that you shared that, that it’s not purely profit.
So let’s dig a little bit more into, I would have listened to that a couple of years ago and thought, wow, seven figure business, but it’s taken you a long time to get to this stage?
KATE: Yeah, I actually just realised I made a mistake. I am not good with numbers. So this is a really important thing to say at the beginning, I have kind of a numeric dyslexia and I cannot, I really do struggle with numbers. I’m a words person. So I just said, for example, that I had a 500% increase. That’s absolute, absolute nonsense. So in 2018, my income increased by 109%. So I’ve been really serious about my business since about 2013, I started in 2009, but then I was just working for myself as a copywriter. I did well by 2013, I was on about 150 K as a copywriter, just a service based business, working 20 hours a week. And that was as much as I was ever going to earn because I was exchanging my time for money.
KATE: So in about 2014 and 15, when my son had gone to school, another really crucial point… cause suddenly you have more time and also more headspace… that’s when I started launching my passive income and I’m looking at it, I’m going to give you some figures. I’ve got actual figures, 2014 income increased by 5%, not much, 2015 – 32%, 2016 – 22%, 2017 – 7%, so it kind of levelled off, then 2018, 109% increase. So it was huge, more than double my income in a year, 2019 – 21%, and then 2020 I’m looking to have a 15% growth. So those are growth figures year on year. So you can see it’s, it’s been slow and steady with one mega year, which was 2018.
CLARE: And what happened in 2018?
KATE: God knows. No, I do know. I spent a lot of time in 2018 doing a lot of public speaking. And so that really brought a lot more people into my funnel. I sold out my big SEO course three times that year in like seven hours, it was ridiculous. So the course went, boom. And I also set up my second membership, which is now The Digital Master Chefs. I started to increase my recurring income and it hit a critical mass. I don’t know why all that hard work, all that plugging away, it just all seemed to come home at that point, and I’m not quite sure why, cause I don’t do ads. I just spoke at a lot more things, I was a lot more visible, I did a lot more podcasts and things like that.
CLARE: And so is public speaking and being on other people’s podcasts, still a major part of your strategy for marketing.
A different kind of marketing strategy
KATE: I mean, I don’t really have a strategy so much in that I do what I enjoy doing. So I really enjoyed that year of speaking a lot, but it was exhausting. So last year, 2019, I did more strategic speaking. I did some big events in the US and in Holland. I did fewer events, but they were higher profile. Podcasts I love doing, and it’s not a huge commitment to spend an hour with someone. I don’t care if they’ve got one listener or 7,000, I still really enjoy it, meeting people. So yes, it’s a strategy, but I’m always playing around with different strategies. This year I bought webinars back. I’m trying a few other little bits and bobs as well, because obviously speaking has gone cause I can’t speak due to COVID-19, so this year all my speaking gigs were cancelled. So it’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
CLARE: Yeah. Interesting. In terms of your marketing strategy, you’re saying that you, you haven’t sort of sat down and really mapped it out. You’re just going with what feels good for you pretty much.
KATE: I mean, I’m prolific, which is helpful, I’m effortlessly prolific in that it doesn’t take me long to come up with a piece of content and share it. It’s 10.30am in the morning. I probably already shared 20 things on social media this morning across different channels, just knocked up a graphic, shared a post, wrote a thing, tweeted something. It’s a bit of a Gary Vanyerchuk approach, of just being everywhere a lot. And not thinking or worrying too much that that particular post didn’t get the ROI or that particular comment didn’t go down. So that’s, that’s part of it. But no, I haven’t sat down and I don’t sit down and do a content marketing plan. I don’t write my posts ahead of time generally. I just kind of do what feels good and it’s, it’s worked well so far, but I will say that this is quite a pivotal time because this whole COVID experience has changed my attitude a little bit towards my business and I do want to do things a bit differently.
So we’re talking today about how I’ve never spent a cent on ads, but I’m thinking that potentially I will moving forward and I haven’t ever done a content plan, but I’m thinking potentially I will, I’ve actually printed off my profit and loss and I’m planning my budget for next year. I’ve never had a budget, you know? So I feel like it’s taken me 12 years, but maybe I’m finally being a grown-up in my business. But I’ve been very successful by not being a grown-up. So it does show there’s lots of different ways to get there?
CLARE: 100%. I’ll be interested to find how it plays out for you because I’ve had social media plans and for whatever reason I hate them.
KATE: Yeah. I hate them too.
CLARE: I’m sure that my content must be just all over the show, but I kind of share what I’m thinking about and what’s going.
KATE: From the outside looking in on what you’re doing, it doesn’t seem all over the shop to me because it seems you and what you’re doing, and obviously I didn’t see every post because of the way the algorithms work, so I’ll just see a post that, that I’m interested in, I’ll read it and it’s all you. So the fact that the graphics might not match up and you’re not spending the month of April talking about profit and July is the month of whatever. I don’t care, because no one else looks at your social media like that. They’re just seeing tiny snippets. So all this effort of putting a perfect grid together and all that, it’s like how many times do people really stop and go look at your grid. Some of that content will hit and some will miss, I think a bit too much pressure is placed on consistency and plans and formats and whatever.
The posts that I’ve liked most of yours, have been the ones that have been a stream of consciousness and you’ve kind of chatted about what’s happening. Those are the ones that I kind of really enjoy!
CLARE: Yeah. But it’s, it’s interesting. I don’t know what your experience is in this space, but I do find it stressful, not having a plan because you’re always sort of having to come up with things and then it can feel sometimes like you never get to switch off because you’re always like, where’s the next article, where’s the next podcast episode, where’s the next social post. And if you’re always doing it on the fly, then it can feel a little bit like you always have to be on. Do you feel like that?
KATE: The truth is, something that I’ve realised is, if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, you always have to be on it anyway. It’s not about the content. You always need to be thinking of new ideas, staying ahead of your competition, innovating, listening to your customers.. so you could plan your whole year out, but of course the best laid plans never actually come to pass. I don’t think there is an easy way of being an entrepreneur. I think you are always gonna be thinking what’s the next podcast? Where’s the next money coming in? What’s the next launch going to be? And if you’re not, you’re going to stagnate and get bored pretty quickly. So I think once you lose that kind of desire and that kind of what’s next, what’s next? I think that could be a point where you go, maybe I don’t want to do this so much anymore. Cause it’s the chase. That’s the fun, isn’t it? It’s the risk. It’s experimentation. The creativity. For me, that is, and that’s why I think I’m suited to being an entrepreneur. If it wasn’t that interesting to me, I’d be better off going and working for someone else where I could have a plan and regularity and be told what to do. That would suit me better. So I’m not sure you’re ever going to escape it.
CLARE: To be fair, I dream about work every night. I went away for a weekend and didn’t take my laptop and then ended up doing work anyway.
KATE: We’re very frowned upon for that. It’s very, you should have life balance. You should have separation. I do have that, I spend an awful lot of time doing stuff for myself, but I love my business because I built a business to love. It’s an extension of me. It doesn’t represent the entirety of me, but I made it, so I like it and I love doing it and I get a lot of satisfaction out of it. There’s nothing wrong with that.
CLARE: When you got started, did you have intentions of creating something? Like you said, there was a moment you were doing time for money and then you flipped and decided to really go all in with your business on 2017. Did you have plans? Or were you like, I’m chasing down a seven figure business?
The intentions behind creating a 7 figure business
KATE: No. And I don’t think that is a great way to approach it because you’re just setting yourself up for failure. Lots of people do first focus on the financials and I do think that they’re important, but I really want to help people learn SEO, so what’s the best way of doing it? I’ll make a course. Okay. I’ve made the course, but you know, it’s a lot of money to spend up front. I’d really like to make something that was slightly less expensive that more people could do. But then how do people find it, well I’ll make something that’s free that they could do before then? It’s classic marketing funnels, but I did it all in reverse, but it was very much driven from what I wanted to do, what my customers wanted.
Obviously making money is important, I wasn’t going to make a video about cats because it’s not going to make me any money. So there’s a revenue portion to it, but no, I’ve never sat down and gone, I want to make a million dollars this year. It’s not a money mindset thing. It’s just that it’s not interesting to me. I’d much rather run a series of events and workshops teaching, and oh, that might make me money. It’s the creative thrill, less than the financial thrill.
CLARE: How would you feel about going back? Say you were just going to chill or going at the same pace that you’re going and your revenue halved? How would you feel? Would it become the new normal for you?
What would it feel like it revenue stayed the same or was halved
KATE: Yeah, it’s a very interesting question because you know, I’m thinking about next year and my target is to earn the same. Like maybe minor growth 1%, but I do not want to earn much more because I know what I’ll have to do to earn more and I’m not prepared to do it. I know that I’d have to have more people in my business, possibly employ people. I’ve automated and streamlined and rationalized to the point where, of that money that I make, my expenses are still only about 22%, which is incredibly low for a revenue of that size. That’s because I’ve worked really, really hard at that. I can’t push that any further. If I want to go over a million a year or whatever, I’m going to have to get people and I’m going to have to expand, I’m going to have to work on America more. I’m going to have to travel more and I don’t want to do that.
If my income suddenly went down by half, it wouldn’t happen immediately. Like I would start to see it happening and I would either make changes to redirect or I could live with it. I reckon I’ve got four or five years left of wanting to work at this kind of level. And then I will go back to 150 K or something, which is still an amazing salary, and be happy with that. I think it’s an interesting question that. I’m getting old Clare, I need to have an exit plan.
CLARE: Tell me about that. You said by your very own admission that your business is part of you, it’s part of who you are, it’s part of your identity. I mean I can’t ever see myself retiring. I can see what I do evolving. But when I think about that, I don’t ever see myself sitting on a bin in the garden and just pottering around, I cannot imagine that. I feel on some level I’d always be writing a book or maybe speaking on stage. Do you think there’s an end date for you and your business?
Having an end date for business and how to approach it
KATE: It’s an evolution and for me, you can’t keep going up. We have this disease of more, this consistent need for growth in business. Most business coach, most books are always talking about growth, some of them talk about sustaining, but very few of them talk about going down again and how to do that in an elegant non-stressful way. So I think there’s evolution, but there will be devolution. Maybe I’ll give up one bit of my business and focus on another. I’ll do less and less. I don’t want to spend my whole time pouring in the garden, but I wouldn’t mind having one, two, three days, and I think that will increase.
I look at someone like Robert Garrish, he’s a big inspiration for me. He ran Flying Solo and he’s a little bit older than me, probably 20 or so years older than me, I might get that wrong, he might be horribly offended, but he sold his business. And now he does a bits and bolts. He speaks on stage. He writes books. He coaches people, he has his hobbies. And I think I’d be very comfortable with that. So that’s my vision for the future. I think I’ll be happy with that because at the moment we’re enjoying it, but there will come a point, I think, when it becomes very same same, like I’m launching my big SEO course again on Tuesday and my hands aren’t shaking. There’s no emotion. I’m not excited. I’m not unhappy, there’s just nothing. That’s just part of my business. I need to get my kicks elsewhere. And after a while, I think I’m not sure how many more times I can launch that and still enjoy it, despite the money. Does that make sense?
CLARE: Absolutely. It’s really interesting when you step back and go, well, what’s this all for, where am I? I really think though that as a creator, I think that you’re always going to be creating, even if you completely stepped away from your existing businesses, I think that you’d be writing or thinking of ways to help people or saying, well, what could I do?
KATE: Yeah, I think so. I’m at the stage now where I’ve hit pretty much every financial goal I have. And now I’m looking and going now it’s more about financial security. So I’m thinking about my future. You know, I don’t want to die in a flat smelling of cats. So how do I stop that happening? How much do I have to have in the bank before I’m going to feel secure about living my old age, and being able to turn the heater on once a day, rather than every second day, that’s where I’m at. Trying to create a buffer for my future and try and have a nice life now as well. How much do I need for that? Because I don’t have huge financial ambitions. I do not want a fancy car. I can’t even drive. I love my house. It’s paid off and I don’t want to move. I want to travel a bit, but not that much. I like being at home. So when you’re not working towards buying a Tesla or working towards buying your dream home when that’s all taken away and you’re actually just happy with your lot, finances become a funny thing, because it’s like, well, how much more money do I need?
CLARE: I love that. The reason I got you on was to chat about growing a business without spending money on marketing. Can we tap into that a bit more? Has this been something that you consciously did? Did you ever question should I run some Facebook ads or I should invest in print ads? Have you thought, is there a massive opportunity here that I’m not capitalizing on?
Was it a conscious decision to not pay for marketing and Facebook ads?
KATE: When I first started the course, I did a one ad campaign. I think I spent about all of $80 on it and I got one conversion from it. And the person who started the ads was really chuffed because the course was $500. And she’s like, look, you spent $80, you made $500. And then I looked at it and I was like, yeah, but they were already on the wait list, and they were going to sign up anyway. So I really resent the fact that I paid for that person to sign up to my course when they were already going to sign up and that’s really put me off, I’m not doing this again. What’s the point of paying for ads for people who are already on my email list. That’s stupid, it’s just re-marketing. So then I didn’t do it anymore. Not done any Facebook ads. I used to boost your post about four years ago, but we all know that’s a bit of a waste of time, so I haven’t paid for anything. I tried to do Google ads very briefly, like maybe for a month, but again, SEO courses is one of the most highest cost-per-click, so it’s not worth it. I’ve done a little bit of re-marketing, again, not amazing results. People who are probably gonna sign up anyway, you know, like so consciously haven’t done it. I don’t physically feel capable of spending that much money.
A real life Facebook Ads experiment – is it worth it?
After the episode with Stef, just to show that your podcast does have influence, I said, right, let’s do a little test before I speak to Clare on the podcast. So I’ve got some examples. I’ve never done ads, I did a little test. I spent $1,400 on ads to get people into my free course. We got about 300 and something hits. It was about $4 something a lead. And about 3% of people, 3 or 4% of people to do the free course ended up buying the big course. So my ads person said it would cost me $10,000 to fill up the big course, but 80 spots. So it cost me $10,000 to make $180,000. So in reality, which is a way better, okay. Equation, you know, I don’t know what 10 out of one 80 is, but I think it’s about 5%. But it’s not 50%. It’s like 5%. So that is very interesting, because for all I’ve talked about, you can make content without thinking about it. I do work hard. I don’t work long, but I work very intensely, and if I’m trying to devolve my business and maybe have a day, a week to pot around in the garden, maybe I should be spending five grand a month on ads. And maybe that would fill 40 of the spots each round of the course. And then the other 40, I can get through concept marketing, but to have that understanding and that knowledge that if I put this in, this will come out because the thing with content marketing, the risk is you put this in, you have no guarantee what’s going to come out. I mean, I’ve got two or three years of proof that I still don’t know, but with ads, it’s more precise. You can see the conversion, you can see what you’ve paid. So it’s an interesting proposition.
CLARE: There is nothing guaranteed about Facebook ads. I can definitely share that. I had an experience, which I’ve shared here on the podcast about I invested a significant amount into one of my launches and it didn’t hit the mark. Whereas, my first launch, it definitely helped, I got, I think a third of people who joined the program came through ads. But the second time I had zero conversions off, I think I spent maybe $15,000 on it.
KATE: Oh, ouch.
CLARE: Yeah, it was a tough learning. So that’s the other thing, is that, there aren’t guarantees. When you bring people into funnels, you’ve gotta be staying right across the cost of ads as well, because a slight shift in your cost of ads can throw things out and something that I’m sure she won’t mind me sharing that Steph has experienced with her ads is that you then get fatigue. And because initially it looks like, Oh my gosh, I’m just printing money here. But that’s because Facebook’s initially showing the ads to the warmest people. And then once they’re gone, they start showing them to colder people. And so your conversion rates go down. There’s so much to consider and something that I love and that I really encourage people to do, is just because someone else is doing it doesn’t mean that it’s right for you and it’s good to try.
KATE: The other thing is it’s good to experiment. It’s good to try. I thought that about approximately 3% of people who do my free course, go on to do the big cost because it’s expensive. But that’s through concept marketing, which is very different to ads. You know, in concept marketing, they probably read some stuff, listened to a podcast, being in my group, the expertise or authority and trust factor – that percentage is way higher. I reckon the conversion rate of ads will be much lower, but I’m about experiments. I would not at the moment, chuck a hundred grand at anything, but I’m happy to chuck $2K at something and see if it works and play around. And then next time I do it, cause there’s people will sign up this around. I’ll be able to see, was it 3% or was it more, or was it less than that? I can experiment again with a different offering or a different thing. And I think it’s all about experimenting because that’s, that’s what keeps it interesting, isn’t it? And you know, that’s the fun of it.
CLARE: Definitely. I find too that things that can work at one point in time, and I’d love to know if this is sometimes you’re like, sometimes it feels like this is guaranteed, and then another time it doesn’t work anymore. I’ve definitely seen with clients of mine, they get really frustrated cause they’re like, well, I did the thing and the thing didn’t work. I’m like, well, people change, audiences change, the way we do business changes, and that’s part of being in marketing, is changing what you’re doing and seeing what works.
How to stay fresh and ahead of the game
I’ve seen someone, I swear they were trying to copy you. I’m like, that’s not going to work for you because you’re not Kate Toon!
KATE: What were they doing? Wearing a silly koala beanie?
CLARE: Kate is actually wearing a silly koala beanie if you can’t see her! But it was just the way that they were trying to… they were talking and the language used, I was like, gosh, that sounds really familiar.
KATE: Yeah. I mean, I have got a few sort of single white females who have gone, we’ll create a Facebook group. We’ll do an SEO checklist, which is pretty similar to my, Oh, I’m going to do a five day challenge or a 10 day challenge. Then I’m going to do a hundred dollar course. Then I’m going to do a big cause. And I’m going to have a podcast. I’m going to call it, you know, the recipe for the SEO recipe or anyway. And they are, there are because they’ve watched me do it and it’s worked for me. But again, things that worked for me, like the 10 day challenge, whether or not it was free that was 2017. So that’s when I started really, really building my audience cause challenges with a thing when everybody had a challenge and they had it linked to a Facebook group and boom, honestly now I think challenges are a bit done. You know, like the whole word challenge, the whole, get someone in a group for 10 days and then they go into your funnel. I think it’s a bit done because it’s been done so often. You know, if I see another five day thing, join my pop-up Facebook group. It’s like, can’t you think of something different to do. So what worked for me then wouldn’t work now. I would not manage to get a thousand people in a Facebook group in a day, like I did back then with no ads. Things do change. Like I said, webinars were big. When I started, then they kind of got a really bad reputation and I feel they are coming back a little bit again. Podcasts, years ago, no one had a podcast, now everybody is into them. You need to be on Tik Tok. You need to be doing videos. You need to be whatever it is. But that’s the thing, if you tred in other people’s footsteps, you’ll always be a step behind them. Do you know what I mean? That’s cliche, isn’t it. So I do think different things work. I don’t know if on Tuesday I will sell my course. I could sell one place. I could sell 20. I could sell 80. I could sell a hundred. I don’t know. I’ve got stats that tell me that this will happen and that will happen. But as you said, it could not. And it’s potential to be $180,000 if I don’t sell it, what impact does that have on my business, my staff, my expenses, my strategy. I won’t be able to tell you that until Wednesday morning and that’s terrifying, but also fascinating.
CLARE: Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint hearted.
KATE: You know that the potential to earn that amount of money in one day will sound stunning to people and I’ve never talked about money ever on a podcast ever. So this is my first time talking about it. I don’t even talk about it in my membership groups because I kind of think it’s a no one’s business and I’m not trying to teach you to be me. I’m teaching you SEO, copywriting. I feel quite a bit uncomfortable talking about it, because you sound like you’re showing off. It can be intimidating or it can be inspiring. It’s either one of them, but it’s also, as you said, not for the faint hearted to earn that much money in one day or not earn that much money on one day and have so many things reliant on that day going, well, you have to have nerves of steel. And now I do, but two years ago, I definitely didn’t and it was horrible, you know, sweats at night and nightmares, it’s really a journey.
Being open about the financial results
CLARE: Yeah. And talking about money because as you know, like it’s one of my favourites, I love it. But interestingly, I don’t talk about much about my own results much at all. And the reason that I find it really challenging to talk about is because with clients of mine, I work with clients that earn a lot more money than me, some of them. And I wonder like what impact that will have on their perception of me. And similarly, I know that I’ve been in some of my groups and I say, you know, if you say you’ve had a 10 or $15,000 a month, people’s eyes, open up like dinner plates.
KATE: Oh yeah. I always felt like I couldn’t really teach SEO unless I was ranking number one, so I got myself to number one and then I started teaching because how can I say, I’m going to teach you SEO. If I can’t prove that I’ve done it before, how can you teach people? Like, how can you make money from digital marketing, if you can’t prove that you’ve done it before. And yet some of the members of my mentoring group and way, way more than me, they’re in different businesses. But there’s still value in your teaching and approach because some people as well earn a lot of money and have no real idea how they’ve done it as well and how to replicate it.
CLARE: I definitely have a couple of clients in mind and they’re like, their clients just come to me and I’m like, but you do know marketing. And they’re like, it’s just word of mouth. And I’m like, isn’t it incredible that a big chunk of my business has grown through word mouth, but I can’t imagine that I would reach as many people if I wasn’t showing up on the podcast and showing up on social media and I’m producing content all the time, but all businesses are different. Back to that point, I used to be a swimmer and my coach used to coach the Commonwealth games team and we said come jump in. And she goes, Oh, I can’t, I’m not a very good swimmer. And we’re like, what is this coach that’s been kicking our butt. I used to do two and a half hours of swimming training a day, an hour in the morning, hour and a half at night. And train on the weekends. And I thought she won’t even, she’s so embarrassed jumping up for what she’s a fantastic coach. But how did we get… we got way off track here.
KATE: Yeah, no, no. Cause we were saying about, you talk about money and you know that it is uncomfortable and you don’t want people to know. I heard it on the podcast with Stef, she didn’t want people to think that she was some arrogant beast. I don’t think she comes across like that at all. And that’s not how I took it, but some people will immediately have a reaction to money, whether they are conscious of it or not, and it can be positive, it can be negative. It changes the way you feel about people and what they’re doing. I followed Pat Flynn for a long time and he used to disclose every month, what he’d earned. And this was a long time ago, but I followed him and I would look at what he was learning each month. And I was in awe, I thought he was inspirational. It was amazing. Another person I remember very early when I joined Facebook, was a coach, it’s rather famous now. But I remember her putting into this group, I just earned $10,000 today, blah, blah, blah, with no learning or anything like that. And it just really felt like showing off and with her, I wasn’t inspired. I was like, well, you know, why did you tell us that? What was the point of telling everybody in this group that when we’re all learning, nothing, you just made us all feel like Pooh. So isn’t that bizarre to people doing well, the reaction to one was positive. The reaction the other was negative. It’s interesting, I’ll probably have loads of haters after this call and my business will collapse and it will be all your fault.
CLARE: Well, I’m hoping that people find it inspiring. I certainly do. And the thing that I find really inspiring about you is the way that you share so openly about how you do things, because that’s what’s interesting. When people share the how, that’s what I find really interesting. Steph made 300,000, had a product, failed this many times, made it in business this many times, spent this much of it on ads… so that it’s not this pie in the sky thing.
KATE: She was so transparent. And it was wonderful. And you know, the secret 11 launches you have before your first launch, that you don’t talk about, the workshops that you sold one ticket to and have to give the person their money back, you don’t talk about, all the products that I’ve launched that no one has bought that I’ve been so excited about, and then I put them live in my shop and it’s gone. Like, shoot, I have nothing, like nothing’s happened. It’s not that I don’t talk about that because I do talk about that, but people don’t remember them, they just remember the launch successes and the whatever. So people have selective hearing, I think. And I love the transparency. I think that’s what it’s all about. And we do need to talk about money and this sounds a bit cheesy as well, but especially as, as women you know, because we’re going to be around for a lot longer than some of the blokes and we need to have financial security and financial independence, we need to think about these things. So I’m glad that you are, forcing, well, I force myself to do it, but in a practical way, not in a look at me and my porche way, but in a, this is how I’ve done it. This was the struggle. This is where I fell over. This is when I tried again, I tried that it didn’t work, but this worked for me might work for you, but I’m not going to turn it into a seven week program for how you can make a million dollars. Cause it’s nonsense. .
CLARE: Something that I love that’s happening. I feel in the space of female entrepreneurs now is this uprising and this confidence and people don’t have to pretend anymore. And I feel like in the corporate world, it was, it was about like who’s got the nicest watch and who’s wearing the, the sharpest suit, or the right label.
KATE: I do not look like a successful entrepreneur who’s owning oodles of cash. And I love it when people underestimate me, go ahead, underestimate me. It’s generally events, I’ll be brushed passed and I could probably pay your salary 10 times over, but you go ahead and underestimate me and mansplain this me or whatever, I love it. Quietly confident is a wonderful place to be, I think.
CLARE: I think for females who are listening and watching, I hope that you are finding Kate sharing her numbers and her story really inspiring. I want to continue to get, lots of entrepreneurs of all shapes, sizes, genders to come on the podcast and share their stories so that you can listen and hopefully learn and go and implement things into your business, but not in a way of copying. Try, try different things. See what works for you. Some things are work, public speaking may work for your business. It might not give it a shot.
Is there anything else that you want to share with the listeners today, Kate, before we wrap up?
KATE: I think it’s just to your point. Here am I sort of, haven’t done this for a long time, I listened to your podcast with Steph. I was inspired by her, what she’d done. I went away and tried it on a much smaller scale to get some results. I’ve had results are very interesting to me. And, and you know, my methodology wasn’t exactly what Steph’s was, but I took a little bit about, I didn’t copy it. I made it my own and, and that’s what we should all be doing. Learning from each other and being inspired and not seeing people as the enemy or our competition. Cause there is an awful lot of, of work and people and money to go around and it come be yours if you want it to be, but I think it’s about having realistic expectations, putting in the time, understanding that, you’re not going to get there overnight. You have to be brave. You have to make mistakes and you have to still turn up and do it all again tomorrow.
CLARE: Yeah. It’s a tough gig. And it’s funny, I say to people, the only thing that I think compares is being a parent in terms of the spectrum.
KATE: Much easier being an entrepreneur than a parent.
CLARE: Yes, exactly.. some of us are doing it both!
Thank you so much for coming on today, Kate. It’s just been amazing and I really appreciate your transparency and your honesty and I hope the listeners have found it very inspiring. So thank you so much.
KATE: Thank you.
CLARE: Thank you so much for joining me today, if you enjoyed this episode, please make sure you subscribe to receive future episodes, and I’d be so grateful for a review on apple podcast! If you’d like a copy of the show notes or any of the links mentioned today, please jump over to clarewood.com.au/podcast and remember that Clare is spelled CLARE, have a wonderful week and look forward to chatting to you again soon!