In today’s episode, we have Natalie and Joeel Rivera who are going to share with us how they have built a lifestyle business by providing transformation for others.
You will also get to hear their story of early failures to successful online courses, their expert strategies to go from business operator to business owner, and how they are building a legacy to help future generations to come.
In this episode, you will hear...
… Joeel and Natalie Rivera share their inspiring journey of passion, resilience, and a positive mindset that helped them build a successful online business.
… how Joeel and Natalie were able to overcome a health crisis to create a thriving online business empire.
… the steps and strategies Joeel and Natalie used to pivot their business from in-person training and workshops to creating successful online courses.
… why it is important to be driven by purpose and the desire to make a difference when creating online courses.
… how Joeel and Natalie combined their individual strengths to build an unstoppable partnership in business.
… Joeel and Natalie’s advice to beginners on beating perfectionism, getting started with what you have, and making improvements as you go.
… why great content is the most important part of creating successful and impactful online courses.
… how Joeel and Natalie used social media forums to build social proof and drive traffic to their online courses for free.
… the winning strategy Joeel and Natalie used to scale their online business fast and achieve exponential growth.
… how to overcome the “founder syndrome” and delegate tasks to avoid burnout and grow your online business fast.
… the two biggest obstacles to starting your online business and how to overcome them.
… Joeel and Natalie’s powerful collaboration strategy that helped them reach a large audience and achieve massive growth.
… why you have to be willing to learn from other successful course creators to build a thriving business.
Hey, everyone. Thanks for checking out the podcast. Today, we have Joeel and Natalie Rivera from Transformation Academy, who have just come in and have done such a wonderful job with online courses, and have just seen a lot of really good success, and have some great information to give us today about their online courses and what they can provide.
I love the subject matter because I'm all about personal development and personal transformation. So it'll be great to have you on the podcast, especially during this time where I know a lot of people are out of work or are suffering from depression and problems in their households. I think that this will be a nice refreshing episode and I just appreciate you being here today.
Well, thank you, Jeremy. It's an honor and a pleasure for us to be here with you today. We love what you've been doing for a while now; helping course creators, and obviously, you have your coaching programs that you also help people develop expertise. We're huge on democratization of education. So, anyone that's contributing to the field, to helping people put information out there that transforms lives, it's a plus for us.
And as you say, we're all about helping people grow as people. And you're absolutely right that now is the time, whether it's working on yourself personally, or taking advantage of this unusual circumstance to start your own business or grow what you've got. We're on board for all of it. That's what we're here for.
Yeah, that's great. I've got to interview some amazing people on this podcast, and a couple of those people have found their business through this time. So there's no time better than now to definitely start an online business or start an online course and reach out and help people because people need that right now.
I always like to find out people's backgrounds. I like to learn where people got their start and how they got into this business. So if you could just take a couple of minutes and give me a brief story about what you were doing before you found online courses and then how did you get into this profession?
Well, it all started when I was five years old.
We'll spare you the details.
What ended up happening was that I was a former psychology professor and Natalie and I were in the same field: social services and things like that. And we both were creating programs in the community. At the time, we had like five different businesses that we had created: from a physical center, a magazine, a book publishing company, we're putting together events, and all these different things.
I ended up getting sick and bedridden after traveling to Costa Rica. I was basically bedridden for about a year. At that point, we had some passive income coming from our magazine, and it was in Kindle and other platforms. So we were receiving residual income from some of that.
But outside of that, all our businesses crashed. So I started learning about online courses and really looking at like, what's our legacy? Like, what's my legacy if I pass away? I was really looking at the reality that I might not make it. What am I leaving behind? What difference am I making?
Obviously, I did workshops and stuff, but that all dies with me. And at the same time, obviously, we had the financial side.
So as Joeel was laying in bed and studying this whole online course thing, which we had kind of dabbled in it about a year before that, just making a couple of courses that we put out there. They were making a little bit, but we never had done a lot with them.
So as he's studying who's successful in the field, and what could we really do with this? We said, "Why don't we start taking the programs we can't run anymore, like our coaching programs or workshops, and turn them into courses." So we started doing that while Joeel was sick.
Even though he couldn't spend very much time every day doing it, it's something he could do from home. And much like what people have been going through in 2020, where they're having to improvise, being at home, having their business disrupted; that happened to us about six years ago.
We went through this sort of exact same process and we pivoted our business and started creating online courses. And they started to work. So we just kept making more and more. I think that that next year, we made something like 24 courses that year. Now we have 80 so we've just kept at it, and it's just continued to grow from there.
So we were basically quarantined for a year because I couldn't have people come over because of my health because I was obviously so fragile. But yeah, I think it plays into what's happening now in the world, that there are a lot of people looking and finding purpose, even to everything that's happening.
But really understand that some people that might have been laid off or might have had disruption to their business or job or something, that they're starting to reflect, "Okay, maybe it's time for me to do something I'm really passionate about."
Yeah, definitely. It's a good time for reflection and finding out what it is that you really want in life. It's so sad to see so many people walking around unfulfilled because they are just not doing what they really want to be doing. So now's a good time to reflect on that, I feel like.
When you started putting these courses out, I know you already had some businesses. Did you have a plan? Did you know what kind of courses you were going to create? Were you trying to stick around your niche? Or how did that look?
Well, for us, one of the things that we did was like Natalie had mentioned is that we were already doing workshops and conferences and stuff like that. So we took some of the content that we were already doing, and just put it in video format, and then started from there. And then you start doing the problem-solution, problem-solution. So if you create a course, what other problems are people still going to have that you can solve?
And that's really how it continued to grow. So we started with our core topics. And once we started to get students, we'd get a sense for what else would they be interested in.
At first, we had quite a bit of other topics we could make courses on that we were already familiar with. But once we exhausted our past topic areas, we would just continue to do research and continue to learn ourselves so that then we could turn around and teach what we were learning to the students.
Those first students, though, our primary market was not selling to our own local people. We went through online course platforms and marketplaces to start to put our material out there and got a sense for which topics were the ones that sold well, and then continued to focus on what was bringing in more students and growing in that area.
One of the mistakes that we made with our other businesses that even though we had a center, even though we had a magazine and stuff like that, and we were very embedded in our community, but we never captured emails and things like that to the point that then we could translate that into creating online courses and marketing to them.
So for us, when we started the online courses, people say, "Well, it's easy for you because you already have these businesses," but the reality is that we started from scratch.
What were these workshops and these courses teaching in the beginning?
The first ones that we focused on, actually our top seller to this day, is our life purpose program. That was one of the things we focused on a lot is; whether it's for people trying to find a career that they love, or if it's just finding more purpose and meaning for the things that they've been through in their life. That's really been the focus, the main topic that, frankly, our whole business focuses around.
So that was a big one. Also, a lot of entrepreneurship. Our first program is called Quantum Leap Your Business in 6 Weeks. That was one of the first ones we did. We also covered things like relationships and happiness.
And then we found a more specific niche that we've ended up continuing to grow and grow since then because we're also life coaches, and we would be using these programs to coach people, whether individually or in groups. So, ultimately, we started teaching people not only how do you find your own life purpose, but how would you help a client find their life purpose as a coach.
So a lot of our programs all got converted into life coach training. That's a very hungry market that we found, that we relate to because that's our background. So all of these things: whether it's personal development or personal development with a guide. That's where we go.
Then we feel like entrepreneurship fits into that because we believe that entrepreneurship is the ultimate form of self empowerment that really gives you the opportunity to live life on your terms. So they all kind of fit cohesively together.
And I would just add that, for example, the life coaching niche that we got into was not only because we were life coaches for a while before that, but also, we had a life coaching center. We were training Sheriff officers and other community leaders and different people that work in the community to use life coaching skills with the people that they serve.
So it was we are training people, but how can we bring that online to help these helpers be able to have the tools to really make a difference? In our community, what we find is that we meet a lot of people that say, "Well, it feels like ever since I was a little kid, people would come up to me with problems."
So then we're like, "Okay, so now you can have a structure and tools to help people have specific outcomes. For example, finding your life purpose, or developing goals and strategies and how to get there, or finding your happiness, and all these different things that you can use to help people transform."
Yeah, that's wonderful. I need to go and watch some of your courses because I was looking at them and I'm like, "I could probably use this goal-setting one. I could probably use this happiness one, too!"
They're kind of addictive for that reason. Once you start one, it's like, "Oh, well, here's another topic. Oh, that would be fun!"
Well, it's crazy because as I've gotten more into entrepreneurship — I've been doing this six or seven years now — and the more that I've gotten more into entrepreneurship, in the beginning, it was all technical things: how to do video, how to do lighting.
I've learned about myself as I've gone on that there are more fundamental core things that you really should learn in life like how to be happy how to deal with negativity. So I'm attracted more to those as I've gone on.
So those early days, what was it like when you first put those courses on? I guess the first question is, did you go straight to a marketplace or were you putting courses on your own site? What did that look like?
We went straight to a marketplace because, at the time, actually, we had sold all our furniture just to pay our rent because I had been sick for so long. So we just used to point-and-shoot camera that we had that shot in HD, and then I used the lapel mic that comes with the phone at the time, the iPhone. Then recorded it on my phone, and then I use free software to edit it and put it together.
And even now, I look at some of the older videos and it makes me want to gag, but some of those things are still out there and they're one of our highest rated things. The reason I say this is because people think sometimes that you have to have all this complicated things to make it great. And really, content is king a lot of the time.
So it's making sure that your content and your audio is good. So what we did was that we started creating some of those courses with the things that we had. And then we started putting them in these marketplaces. At the time, it was really learning, how can we create social proof for it?
So then we started joining forums and blogs and different people that had communities already established in our niche. We became part of those communities, and then we could put the information, "Hey, I have this course on this topic," and drive traffic to it, even if it was free traffic at first, just to get that social proof and get it ranking.
Okay. Very good. So you're getting your courses up on the marketplace, you're driving traffic through different means, and then you just saw the growth. And at that point, you're like, "This is working. Let's go all in." And that's when you started creating course after course?
Well, actually, I had already thought about getting all in. Before I got sick, we had created two courses. And part of how that happened was that I had a friend that we used to develop a lot of conferences and training programs with.
He was sitting in Puerto Rico, he's like, "Hey, Joeel, I'm over here in Puerto Rico having a drink at the beach. I'm hitting refresh and getting money from my online course." I was like, "Okay, tell me more."
But at the time, we had five different businesses, so we couldn't really dedicate the time to it. So what ended up happening was that when I got sick, I did the math to it. And I was like, "Well, if we only made $150 per course, how much courses would we need?"
Now I was calculating the math; not really looking at the exponential growth, but I'm a numbers person. So how can we make this a functional business?
It's like we looked at what other people were doing. And that's the lesson is look at what's working. And the strategies that are working now are different than they were back then, but there's always someone to learn from. And that's exactly what we were doing.
And he you said, we kind of already saw it's just a numbers game. We need to keep making courses. So our strategy has been to create a high number of courses. Other people use different strategies, they might just have one, and then they put a lot of money into it, but for us, what worked was consistency.
So a big part of it was we might have had maybe a couple of 1,000 students. But when we would launch a new course, we would be marketing to those students, which would help get the course to start to sell when we first launched it. And that's why we were making courses that our existing students would want.
And then that would help us rank and then we'd start to get organic sales. And then, a month later, we would do that again. So it just kept growing. Every time we'd launch a course, that launch would be bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger because we had an existing student base to enroll, which then ranks us higher.
Then it just kept growing. We knew if we kept doing it consistently that we could reach a certain level, but like he said, it grew a lot more than we expected because of that exponential growth.
One thing I'll add, though, real quick for those listening is that it wasn't about the money. And I think that's what makes the biggest difference. If you do things for the money... It wasn't like we were saying, "Well, we're going to create courses because there's money in it."
Part of it was because I was sick and I was recognizing that if I passed away, what's my legacy? I've spent 10 years going to school to get a higher education, and then all these training programs, all these different things that I did so I can help other people, that dies with me.
So it was really creating courses almost as a backup plan so I knew that I would leave behind a legacy, that I was still going to be able to help people if something happened. I always tell people, if you follow the money, that can be short-lived, but it's not going to produce the motivation that you're going to need to really make things succeed.
Now, if you follow what you're truly passionate about, if you're on purpose, then you're willing to spend three or four o'clock in the morning, every day because you love what you're doing. And for us, we love teaching. We love knowing that we're making a difference in people's lives.
We love getting those emails from people saying, "Oh, we took this course of you and it really changed our lives." We always talk about one of the students that took a class together. They were five ladies in the Philippines, and how they were sending us messages of how they're implementing it in the community.
Or a student from Syria that was telling us how he took the happiness course because a war-torn country and how he is implementing this to create more happiness in his community. So again, if you can focus on the difference that you're making in people's lives, I think that the money just comes.
Yeah, definitely. That just gave me chills listening to you say that. That's awesome. Yeah, it's a much bigger picture than just the money and those reactions. And I know this from also getting to teach internationally and getting people giving me feedback.
It's an amazing experience to know that there's someone out there, there's lives that you're changing. And if you don't create a course, then you're kind of doing a disservice to those people, correct?
Yes, absolutely. To hoard the information, or the knowledge, or even like how you got through what you got through, if you can share that with other people, the more people you can reach the better, which is why we love the marketplace model because you're reaching people all over the world.
And they make it affordable so people can access this information. And that's really what it's about is that there's people out there that want to know how to do what you can teach them, and they're waiting for you to do it.
Yes, that's absolutely right. Now, one question that I have, and I know this myself because I went through the same process, I created a course, I saw success, and knew immediately actually create more courses.
I call that the snowball effect. You launch one, you get an audience. You launch your second, your audience grows. You launch your third, and it has that exponential growth, as you talked about.
But one thing that I ran into, I know a lot of people who go on marketplaces and start doing this also, they just get burnout. You just get burnout from the constant production. How were you able to overcome that and create a system that allows you to create more than 80 courses at this point?
Like I mentioned, like in one year, we made 24 courses. So that's two a month. What we'd started to do after that time is, at that point, we had enough data to be able to see what type of course sells the most.
So what we did going forward is we cut our production in half saying, "Well, let's just make the type of course that sells the most. If that one course outsells the other ones by two or five or 10 times, then why make the ones that aren't as successful?" And we just focused on that.
And then as we continued to learn more on what type of topics, we narrowed it even further. Eventually, we also started to partner with other instructors. For instance, there might be a topic that our students would love that we would not do justice covering ourselves. So then we would partner with another instructor that could teach on that topic, which then takes some of the burden of production off of us.
Then the next tier of stepping away from it was when we did start marketing on our own website. We could basically just look at now that we have all these courses, how can we sell them in different ways, and not depend so much on our own continuous production of new courses in order to meet the needs of our students? So it kind of evolved over time
And I'd like to add, when we say sell, for example, it's really looking at what is the need of the market because the financial side of how much money you're making with a type of specific course is one thing, but it's just really giving you a window of opportunity to really know what is the need of your market so you can meet that need.
Sometimes you might have a great idea for a course, but there really isn't a need for it. And we also talked to our students and things like that. But as far as balance, I would say that, initially, we had a harder time for that because I was trapped at home. So that was our main focus.
But as we kept going on, one of the things that we would do is that we would work like honey badgers, for example, for like a week to produce a course, like a six, eight-hour course or something like that. A week and a half; that's about what it would take us. And then we would just go off.
As soon as we launched it, we were hitting the road. We would go to the Keys or we would go fly somewhere, or just a drive like seven hours away to go to the Georgia mountains. Whatever it was, we disconnected from everything. And that's the way that we maintained our sanity.
Yeah, so that we wouldn't burn out. And we did reach a point of burnout at one point. And it was partially because there was a whole bunch of courses we did all at once. And then it was that strategy.
It was like, "Okay, obviously, we can't sustain this pace forever. But at least when we're in this space, let's balance it out. Let's work hard and play hard. And then learn from what we're doing so that we can create the lifestyle that we want around this business."
And that's the mistake we'd made before is we had all these businesses, and we had to fit our life around all the responsibility. But this type of business allowed us to create a business that then creates the lifestyle that we want.
And since we're big on personal growth, obviously, we do take a lot of times sometimes listening to an audio book a week or two audiobooks a week, watch a lot of YouTube videos. We meditate for an hour every day. We make sure that we go for walks.
We do other things just to make sure that we always have that balance because we've already learned from that. And most entrepreneurs, it's hard because you always have something to do. So, we schedule our playtime if we need to just to make sure that we're getting that done as well.
How does the actual production and the tasks of your business work with the two of you working on this together? A lot of people out there are doing this by themselves. You two have tackled this together. And what does that look like in your business? Who's doing what? And how are you able to differentiate your business between two people?
Well, one, we understand our strengths and what our weaknesses are, and what we're both passionate about. For example, I love to do research. I'm just a research nerd. So a lot of times, I put together a lot of the content as far as researching it, and then Natalie also brings in her own content that she's learning and that she's putting into it.
But then she's more of the organizational piece. So she makes it look pretty and sound pretty and makes sense in layman's terms. Then from that, she does a lot of the marketing copy and stuff like that, and I do a lot of the SEO work.
For example, we've run a lot of Facebook ads at this point. So she'll do the imaging and the copy and then I do all the backend stuff to target it, to retarget it, to find the right populations, and put it in front of the right people, and all the structural part of that.
We understand that each of us has different passions within the business. And then the things that we don't like at this point, obviously, we have a team that takes care of some of those things. And we find team members that are passionate about the things that we don't like necessarily. That way, we want to make sure that they're just as happy waking up every day and doing their job and feeling like they're part of the family.
And we did do all of it ourselves completely until two years ago — me mostly on the curriculum development and Joeel mostly on the editing. The marketing thing, like we said, we started that more recently as far as Facebook ads. But when we did start, the first thing we did is we hired somebody to take over video production.
Then the next step was hiring someone mostly for customer support as well as some other administrative stuff because that is something, as you start to grow, that takes up a lot more of your time. So we reached a point where it's like, "Okay, now that this is working, we're still producing all these courses and now we're also having to run a business around it."
So at some point, yes, you can absolutely do it yourself. Every business we've ever done, the reason why we're able to do it is because we were willing to wear 100 different hats. But at some point, you do have to let go of the hats and learn how to give away responsibility.
Yeah, like Natalie said, I did a lot of the editing for the first several years, and it was fun. I kind of enjoyed it, but it's nice when you have someone else that can do it better than you.
And I think there's a thing called "founder syndrome", where you start working on stuff. And as you keep growing, you have a hard time letting go of some of the tasks that you really shouldn't be doing. And it's that transition of being a business operator to being a business owner.
And that's one of the things that we wanted to transition to; not just being the ones that operated everything, to really be that person that could sit back and run a team, and then grow it, and make it successful. And really, it just feels good to be able to support the people that you have on your team financially and also helping them grow in different aspects of their lives.
Yeah, I agree with that. We don't have video turned on, but I was shaking my head yes the whole time y'all were talking because I've gone through the same emotions myself. Video editing can be a lot of fun, but it's very time consuming. And so if you have these tasks that you can hand off, it's going to help you grow your business faster.
So that's, that's an important thing to keep in mind. So just thinking about the progression of a course. Say someone's listening and they haven't created a course, but they're thinking about creating a course. One of the first things you mentioned earlier was making sure that you really drilled down who the course is for; the market research.
So knowing what you know, now and talking to that complete beginner, what would you say to them to help them decide on what to teach or how to go about teaching a subject?
If somebody's just starting, there's really only two topics, you can start with; either something you know inside out and backwards. Like, this is your thing, you've done it your whole life, you're an absolutely expert. And then you basically find a way to market that topic because that is the content you know.
The only other thing that you could do, if you are the type of person who's great at research and learning and then regurgitating it in a way that other people can learn it, you can find an area that's lacking and create a course to fill that niche, but only if you are certain that that topic is actually needed.
So there's really only two ways to go in almost every case, we would recommend go with what you know and love. That is what is going to be the most successful is that you're teaching what is yours to teach. And yes, you have to make sure there's a market for it.
There's a lot that you can learn and a lot you can research to try to find that target market and figure out who are they? Where are they? Where are they buying things? How do I reach them? How do I phrase it in a way they're going to understand it?
This part of it is the part most people skip. They just think, "If I build it, they will com." No they won't. You have to bring it to where they are, and you have to understand them and get inside of their mind. And the biggest thing is understanding what problem are you solving? If your customer does not have problem, you can't sell anything to them?
Yeah, and the other thing I'll add is when we talk about any topic, I'll give you a perfect sample, we know someone that does courses on aroma therapy. So essential oils and stuff like that, and she brought in over a million dollars last year.
And then we have another friend that does how to run retreats because she used to run retreats in different parts of the world. She would take people to exotic locations. And she brought over a million dollars last year.
So you can teach on whatever it is that you have expertise on. It's just going down and understanding working you find these people? And for us, it's not about finding one person here and one person there, we've always looked at where's that market already at? Who do they do business with?
And maybe we can do a joint venture or maybe we can connect with them by participating and being there, or even market, put some dollars into a specific niche area where they're going to see it in front of them so they know. That's the best thing now with the democratization of education that there's groups, there's forums.
Even if you're running Facebook ads, you can really micro target it to whatever it is that you want. And you can always find someone that has the same passion as you. And I'll give you a perfect example.
My son was showing me that somebody has this massive following on Twitter and what they do is that they just take this anime characters and other characters in movies, and they make them bald. They edit the pictures and make them bald, but they have a massive amount of following.
Or some of the other people that he showed me that talk about virtual v-tubing, where they talk about different topics and people actually pay them as they're talking. People donate and some of them are making, you see all the money coming in, and in that hour, they made over $500. And they're just talking about a topic that they're passionate about.
So it's just recognizing there's so much opportunity out there. It's just understanding what you're passionate about, and then finding the people that are have the same passion as you.
And I want to add one more thing about that is that if you're listening to this, and you haven't made a course yet, one of the biggest things that holds people back is perfectionism, which we had mentioned. We are the anti perfectionist. Just do it; just create it. Do not edit out every um, do not overcomplicate things.
We could not state this enough. It is the biggest obstacle for people. And then the second biggest obstacle is that they try something, and it doesn't work, and they give up. So we always tell people, you have to fail fast and fail often.
So that means you just try it. If it doesn't work, try something different. If it doesn't work, try something different. Keep learning, keep different strategies, follow different people. And the reason why we've been able to create success is because we just keep doing it.
First of all, we do it. We show up in the first place, so we don't wait till we're perfect. And then secondly, we just keep trying things over and over and over and over and over again. And eventually, something works.
And it's really about tenacity. If you think it's going to be perfect and work the first time, then you're just going to be disappointed, and you're going to end up walking away. So it's consistency, consistency, consistency.
Awesome. That's great piece of advice. I feel like the more successful people sometimes are the people who don't maybe have the best product, and it's not the most polished, but they've learned to just keep on going until it becomes successful, right?
Exactly. Ours is definitely not the most polished. Even the new stuff that we make now, our stuff now is way better than it was before. But when we watch other people's courses, and they have 45 different times that they've added in fancy looking stuff on the screen, and they're doing different angles.
You are not making a documentary or a film. You're making a course. Stand in front of the camera and talk. That's all you need. Don't edit any more than you need to; make it as simple as possible and just do it.
Instead of feeling like you have to make this highfalutin product... frankly, our students don't care. They just like the content and they like us. They want to feel like they're being taught by someone who's real. It's like we're standing in the room with them. They don't need all the other fancy stuff.
That's right. I definitely agree with that. That's a great point. So real quick, is there any marketing strategies or traffic generation strategies that are working really well for you right now? I know a lot of questions that I get is, well, a lot of people make that mistake you talked about earlier.
They build it first, and then hope for people to show up. But in the event that they do do that, the questions I get is how do I get traffic to my course? How can I market my course? Is there anything that you have found that seems to be working very well right now for you?
Well, there's two different things. Well, there's more than two, but it really depends on where the person's at as far as if they're investing marketing dollars. One of the best things we've always done, this has happened in every field, whether it was the magazine, or book or whatever it is, is always going back to looking at who's doing business with those people. So if you have a course on a topic, then who can you partner with that's going to help you market that course
That already has access to the people who are the perfect ideal student for your course.
Yeah, and I'll give you a perfect sample. If I'm working on a course that might benefit someone at a yoga center, we're into personal development, we know that yoga centers and those centers like that are big into personal development, we can partner with some of those yoga centers where they can make a cut. And it's helping people.
It's not just saying, "Hey, I have a course. Can you market it to your people?" It's recognizing that you have to add value to them; they have to see how it's going to benefit their business. So relationships are key.
For example, we are working with the person who creates Podfest, and we started being part of their weekly meetings. And all of a sudden, they're like, "Would you speak in front of our group because we see what you're doing?" So we spoke in front of the group, and then like, "Can you speak in front of our big conference?" And we did that.
So that got a lot of people interested in our courses. We've also partnered with other places, even schools, and colleges in different places that already had a need. We've partnered with nonprofits and different people that have licensed our work to a certain degree.
So joint ventures are one of the best things and building relationships if you're not investing. One thing that we're doing a lot at this point is Facebook ads because we can really target-market, and really micro-niche, and really look at those people.
But one of the things that we started doing was that we took the email list that we have and we created a look-alike audience, and started marketing to that. And we tested a couple of things here and there. And then as we got more sales from that, then we created a look-alike audience from those people.
And then we would really look at even what states are people buying, or what are some of the demographics and stuff like that, to really look at it. And I actually took a few months, took several courses on Facebook because before we hand anything out, we like to learn how it works. At this point, for example, Facebook ads we probably make three times off of Facebook than we do off of any marketplace.
Whereas for a long time, the marketplace was almost exclusively where all of our revenue was coming from. So it's a big shift now that we do our own marketing, because we ultimately learned enough about our own market to be able to do the advertising effectively.
And one thing I'll add is there are a lot of other people that have courses that use social media to market, not necessarily paid ads, but just organic. We have done that zero. We have a lot of engagement in our social media, but for us, it has not been a revenue generating source at any point, to any degree.
We say that because a lot of people think, "Okay, I'll make a course and I'll just put posts on my social media, and it's going to sell my course." And it doesn't work that way. I'm sorry.
That's the thing is, we have taken so many online courses ourselves to learn different strategies. So that's what we're saying. If you want to be in this market, you have to be a student of other instructors, and you have to just keep learning. Like, take a class on Facebook ads, take a class on webinars, take as many classes as you can find online from top selling instructors where they're teaching you about how they market their courses.
Take those courses. We have a course that teaches you how to make courses, but we don't teach about marketing because that's not our thing. But there are a lot of other instructors out there that have that. Learn from them.
That's exactly what we did. We were just taking those courses and then picking out the different insights we gleaned from the different instructors and applying it and testing and experimenting, and we figured it out. But you have to be willing to learn.
Actually, I'll give you a quick example just for people to get some ideas, some of the things that we've done. For example, we would have a webinar where, at the time, obviously, webinars were more popular, podcasts are great now. But we would have like five or six different experts in our field, and we would interview them.
And that way, we connected to their community, they marketed to their community and stuff like that. When we used to do workshops, we would bring five different speakers and everyone collaborated, and everyone brought their followers, and we would sell out the conference without even spending $1 on marketing.
So what we always did was that we found the right people to collaborate with. And that's what's helped our business grow exponentially.
And then to be honest, the most simple strategies, in the end, have been what have worked. The more complicated you make your funnel, the more steps you make it, it's discouraging to you because it takes a lot of effort. And it's just, frankly, not as successful as just keeping it simple. I don't know how I can say that enough. Just keep it simple.
I agree with that. The equipment, the technology, the software, if I could take back all the hours that I spent researching software and tools and things. It's not that it's not important, and it's good to research and know these things. But you can spend a lot of time in the weeds.
Sometimes it's best to, like you said, just start simple, get something out there. And then you can reiterate it later on and make it better. I just want to sneak in one quick question. I know we're up against the time, and we have to come to an end soon.
It's been so great talking to you two. I feel like we could go on for a lot longer. And you have such great expertise. I wanted to ask a quick question, just to hit your exact expertise on the subject.
There are people who are having a really hard time right now. And there are maybe some course creators out there who aren't seeing success, or they might be depressed because they're not seeing the revenue coming in. Or they feel like things just aren't working out for them.
I know this because I've been in that position before. And I know it's a very hard place to be. And I know that y'all are experts in personal development. So if you could just part some words to those people out there who are struggling right now, what is it that you could tell them?
One thing I would say real quick is that creating a course and marketing your course are two different things. And that you have to be willing to learn and grow. And like I said, we listen to a lot of audiobooks on different topics just to help us continue and improve incrementally.
This is not just a onetime thing that you're going to do and you're going to get a lot of students. It's almost like an opportunity for you to grow in your journey. So, we had to listen to audiobooks about market research, about creating landing pages, or whatever it was to truly understand how to improve in our marketing, the way we express what we're giving to our students, and all these different things.
And really, more than anything, also is just chipping away at it. All it takes is consistency. You're going to fail, and that's just going to be part of it. You're going to get frustrated; that's going to be part of it.
But it comes down to whether you're saying, "This is possible," or, "Maybe this will happen," or, "It's going to happen." And for us, it was it's going to happen. We just got to figure out a way because if I can do it, anyone can do it.
We're not smarter, we're not more skilled, we're just willing to dedicate the time to it, and keep trying and failing until it works. And it's just going to take the same thing for many people.
Yeah, everything is figureoutable. And it's not easy when you start. There are a lot of times where it feels like the effort you put in doesn't get paid back financially. Even outside of online courses. Like, if you're trying to be self employed, an entrepreneur, just keep trying things.
It doesn't matter what it is. Do whatever it is that you have to do. If you have to bring in some money with a side gig while you continue to build up that momentum with your courses. Just don't get stuck on one thing. And we know it's frustrating.
It's like you said, Jeremy. We've been there. And it not easy, but it's not supposed to be easy. It is really true when you say, like, if it was that easy, everybody would do it. That's actually true. Uncertainty is a huge part of being an entrepreneur.
If you don't like uncertainty, you're better off with a job. And I hate to sound so frank, but that's the truth. Embrace uncertainty; it makes life exciting. Look at it like you're doing experiments like a mad scientist, or you're on some sort of an adventure.
That's really what this is about. It's supposed to be kind of fun. And not everything's going to work and it's not supposed to. You're going to learn from whatever you do. And if you're really feeling like something isn't working, it's okay to reach out to other people in the industry and try to get feedback on maybe what you're doing wrong.
Or take a break and do something else that feeds you and fulfills you and puts you in a better state so that maybe you can come back to what you're working on with fresh eyes, and not be so bunched about it. At that point, maybe it'll be clear to you what you need to do next.
I know we're close on time so I'll just say real quick. For example, I see you Jeremy online, where somebody will say something about their courses not really selling well. And you say, "Hey, let me see your page that you've created, your squeeze page or your landing page or something like that," and you give them feedback.
You're not even asking anything in return. So there's a lot of people that are willing to help because I see how you help many people. But again, it comes down to we gamify things. It's a game; it's just learning how to play.
If you like video games, it's the same thing. Life is the same thing. It's just learning how to get better. And the more you play the game, the better you're going to get. But it only happens if you're willing to sit back, reflect, and learn. And that's one of the things that we do.
All the time, on a weekly basis, we sit down and look at what's working and what's not working. So we can keep making the changes necessary to keep improving. And what happens to most people is that they just keep doing the same thing over and over again, even though it's not working.
So if you never take back the time and say, "Okay, this is not working. What can I do different? What experiment can I run to see if this will work?" Sometimes it's just small changes that can really transform your life.
That's right. Natalie and Joeel, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. I feel like you have just given us a lot of wisdom. I know personally, for me, you've said some things that have spoken directly to my heart and some things that I needed to hear also. So thank you so much for that. If people want to find out more about you online, where can they do that at?
We are at transformationacademy.com
Perfect. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast today. I just wish you two the most major success. Thank you for sharing your story to us listening today and I just really appreciate you.
Likewise, Jeremy. It's a pleasure to be here.
Yes, we were very excited you invited us.
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