We Interview Successful Online Female Entrepreneur Who Plays Big and Means Business!
Are you looking at producing an online course using the power of WordPress but don’t know how you’re going to successfully marketing your course don’t worry Ashley has some actionable insights and answers
Ashley Ryan is a female entrepreneur who plays big and means business. She has consulted for Fortune 500 companies, bringing in 6 and 7-figure revenue for her clients through simple, un-complicated, savvy marketing systems.
This weeks show is Sponsored By Kinsta Hosting
Jonathon: Welcome back folks to the WP Tonic show. This is episode 367. We are getting into the end of January 2019. I can`t even believe that. We got a great guest. I’m really looking forward to this discussion. And it`s Ashley Ryan, founder of Her Smart Marketing. Ashley, would you quickly like to introduce yourself to the listeners and viewers?
Ashley: Sure. I would love to. I’m so happy to be here. I have been lucky to be in the online space for over 15 years. So is young as I look, everybody’s probably thinking, oh my gosh, how is that possible? But yes, and I actually started my career by launching a digital course online. And 15 years ago the space and the technology, everything was completely different. So we actually grew a very successful business within a year and things blew up. But things are really different now. So I’m hoping to bring some of my marketing and sales experience to the call today. Because it’s one thing to be brilliant at making things and creating things and be a creator. Most of us as creative know it can be really exciting to bring something to the world. But then it’s another thing to sell it. So that’s what we really want to talk about today is marketing a course and how to go about doing that.
Jonathon: Oh, it sounds great. I got my great cohost here. Cindy would you like to introduce yourself quickly to the listeners and viewers?
Cindy: Yes. Hello everyone. It’s Cindy Nicholson from the coursewhisperdot.com. So I actually have a personal connection with Ashley. Because actually about a year ago Ashley was my coach and actually got me started with building my business. So I loved her process. I love her philosophy. So I’m super excited to have you on the call today Ashley.
Ashley: Thank you.
Jonathon: Before we go into the main part of the interview, I just wanted to mention one of my great sponsors. And this week it`s Kinsta Hosting. And Kinsta is a premier hosting provider. Big enough to have all the technologies small enough still to care about their customers. We host the WP tonic website on Kinsta. They use Google silver framework to host all their sites. But what you get is a fantastic interface with one click staging, one click back up. Superb technical support, 24/7 from people that really know about WordPress and about hosting. When I’ve ever asked him a question, I’ve got a response in less than two to three minutes. They all really a fantastic hosting company. And if you want to support the show and a great company like Kinsta. Go over to kinster.com for your own hosting needs for your membership learning management system.
Jonathon: Or if you’re a consultant or developer, do yourself a favor and recommend Kinsta to your clients. And I’m going to hand it over to Cindy. And Cindy’s going to ask the first question.
Cindy: Hello Ashley.
Cindy: Let me start it off by saying. I think you face a lot of people like this in the beginning, well; they’re in the entrepreneurial world. They hear this idea of creating an online course and all the passive income that it’s going to generate and everything. And they’re all keen and eager to get their course created. Or a membership site, whatever the case may be. What, from your perspective, from a marketing and launching perspective, what things do you think that somebody should have in place before or they start to create any content at all?
Ashley: Sure. That’s a really great question, Cindy. Because what I find is, well, some of the most successful online marketers in the world use this approach. And I think it’s a great approach. Before creating something and jumping into it. It’s best to kind of test your idea out. And I’m not talking go gang busters and spend millions of dollars or even thousands of dollars. You can create a simple survey based on your knowledge and then put it out there to your group and test it that way. And chances are 80% of people are going to say the same thing and tell you what you need to know. So I’ll give you an example and kind of what I mean by that. So say you create, you make crochet hooks. I’m just making this up. Or actually let’s use a real example. What are some of your listeners? What do they do? Can you give me an example of somebody who you think would be watching?
Cindy: Let’s say it’s a lawyer, something like Intellectual property.
Ashley: Perfect. Okay. This is great. So lawyer, intellectual property, what you could do, what the lawyer could do is create a survey and see there’s many different areas within intellectual property. There’s like, there’s corporate, there’s probably like say real estate. There’s like within the lawyer field, there falls a whole bunch of different categories. And in course designing and course making, it’s going to actually make your life easier if you’re really niche down. So the narrower you go in, the more specific, generally the better, the easier it is to market. So if you’re having a vast kind of area, so say you’re a lawyer, you want to make a course. Even in the intellectual property field, you can go even further. So then what I would do is some different surveys or titles or headings or something like that. And pull which area is most desired.
Ashley: So say you go to your monthly lawyer, networking meeting or other lawyers at the firm. Ask them, hey, which, which appeals to you? Which concept appeals to you most? What do you need the most? And 80% of those people are going to hone in on one area and tell you what they liked the most and what they’re most interested in. Then I would go down that road as opposed to what we think of ourselves is not necessarily what people want. So it’s really important to test your concept out or at least ask a few people. And a great way to do this, I find is actually going on amazon.com or amazon.ca or UK or wherever. I think Jonathan that`s where his roots is. And then what you can do in the book section is look up your topic. So type in say intellectual property and then you’ll get some good copy-writing, some good language. Because it’s one thing.
Ashley: Imagine you write a list and it is like, okay pick your favorite. How to write intellectual property, trademarking or whatever. I mean that’s not very sexy. So go to Amazon, find something really cool. Like the 10 most costs detrimental effects of intellectual property. Or whatever it is the most exciting things. And then from there you have something to work with.
Cindy: And do you think that to couple with that, because I agree 100%. You got to test it to figure out what the heck people are really need from you. Do you think that they need, they should have a certain size of audience or a certain email list size before they consider creating a course and trying to sell it?
Ashley: That’s a great question. This is really important. And if I say one thing that’s the most important thing, please heed this. is online marketing is cumulative. So it’s not like having a retail store where you can open your doors and say there’s a thousand people walking by, they can come in or whatever. It’s like Google and other and social media cumulate your information and build up your social reputation and clout. So it’s very important to market 10 minutes a day online. And build up after your launches rather than like the day before going in, launching. And spending a lot of money. Then so very again, very important online marketing’s cumulative. So any point in your career, even before you consider even doing an online course. It’s good to build up your online presence 10 15 minutes a day rather than going gangbusters later on.
Cindy: There’s so many people that you know, there’ll be like I am going to wait until I’m ready to launch. I’m going to wait till I’m ready to launch. And it’s like you’d need to get out there now so people know that you exist before you have something to sell them.
Ashley: Totally. Yes. So absolutely Cindy, anytime you could, you don’t necessarily need an audience, but it’s a really good idea to start building it.
Cindy: Got It. Jonathan.
Jonathon: Yeah I totally agree. But Ashley, I have had clients come to me even recently. And it’s obvious they know the specific area where they want to build a course. They know their stuff. But they go we are going to sell thousands. We’re going to sell this to thousands. And some people, they have no online tribe, they have no online community. So when a client comes to you, what do you initially advise them to do to build community and tribe?
Ashley: That`s a good point. I want to backtrack one second and then I’ll dive into that. I want people to understand the statistics. When people are doing courses or any kind of digital products or products. They’re not thinking about the numbers. So let me ask you both, you might already know this, but say you send a hundred people who don’t really know you that well or somewhat say have an idea of you. Let’s talk colds and maybe warm market. 100 people go to your site; you’re selling a course or whatever for 50 bucks, 20 bucks even. How many people out of a hundred do you think buy?
Cindy: 2% to 5% of them.
Ashley: Okay. What do you think, Jonathan?
Jonathon: I think you’d be lucky to get 2% to 5% Ashley.
Ashley: Okay. Okay. Exactly. So yes. So typically the conversion rate’s around 1% is like a good conversion rate. So think about how many, how much traffic you would have to drive to make $10,000. So people are not in this reality that most people think it’s 50% or 80 or whatever. So back to your question Jonathan, it’s very important to have good marketing. That’s really the crux. So a couple of things which people overlook. Number one is referral partners. If you have one or two really good relationships, those relationships can fill your business. They may be harder to kind of nurture. But those people who are like raving fans about you and what you’re up to. They can be a good source of referrals. So whether you’re selling your coaching services, consulting or whether you’re selling your course, whatever it is, you’re selling, referral partners are really great. Number two. So your question was online marketing avenues, right Jonathan?
Jonathon: Yeah you have a client come to you. You’ve got to build your tribe, your community. It’s a big question, but I thought you might be able to give with tips from your experience about how you start and that road.
Ashley: Yeah, engagement is very important and keeping people’s information for the future. So whether it’s an email list or a Bot. Bots are really hot right now and happening. So it’s almost like an email list but on social media more. So any kind of way you can have a container to capture their information is very important. Number two, again cumulating so something like social media, which is all the rage right now. Doing little things every day. But people make mistakes with social media. That’s a big platform for you to market your course, but you can’t just churn out content. That’s not enough. You have to be really engaged. I’ll give you an example. I have a Facebook profile for my business. Not a page, I’m talking about like a personal profile. Where clients are friending me and that kind of thing. I’ve tested it out where I just posted really good content and then the results were like myth.
Ashley: As soon as I started going in and liking the stuff in the feed and commenting on their stuff, all of a sudden I have this massive tribe. I posted a piece of content and I’m getting like, you know, 90 comments, that kind of thing. It’s from that engagement factor and that reciprocation. So on social media, it’s very much about engagement. So instead of paying someone to post your content, you could pay someone to go and get on there and engage with your clients, which I think is a better bet of your time. So I would say that’s important is that engagement factor.
Jonathon: I think that`s great. Over to you Cindy.
Cindy: So when you’re building your content. Let’s say you have an idea that’s been validated to create an online course. And so the one aspect of creating that course is the content itself. The other aspect is kind of figuring out your launch plan. How far much of a runway do you need for kind of that launch of the course that you have? Like kind of how far back do you go to the date of the launch? Do you set yourself, your clients?
Ashley: So I would start the launch like a couple months in advance, like one to two months. But you’re going to start building your audience way before that. So those are two different things, building audience. And then the launch is more like announcing, because if you do a launch like three months before it can lose steam.
Ashley: Because people aren’t going to be remembering and like it can get annoying. So I try to keep things like a month to two months out and then really be promoting it hard and talking about it and doing your Facebook live videos. And videos really hot right now. So if you have a lot of video content, and here’s another important thing for all you content creators out there. In social media and then the land of the web. Only a fraction of people see your material. So if you spend your lifetime generating material, you have all this gold material. Don’t just post it once and be like, oh people who have already seen it. No, only like 1% or 10% of your friends have seen it. So I recycle content personally, like probably at least 20 or 30 times in a year, the same piece of content. And I don’t have people like complaining or anything. It’s like people don’t see it. So you need to repeatedly use the content that you’ve so it’s expensive and time consuming created and reuse it.
Cindy: And so in terms of. Do you recommend, so if, let’s say it’s one to two months out that you’re planning on launching your course. Do you have a recommended kind of process or system that you take your clients through with when they go to launch their course?
Ashley: I do have a launch strategy, but I would want to, I actually have a document of a launch strategy that I could give all your listeners, but they’d have to get in touch with me to get it because it’s in my files. I don’t know how people can get in touch. Maybe you can think about that and I’ll give it to whoever is interested. But I’ll verbally express it as well. Because it’s a bit, it’s a little bit more complicated. So it depends how you’re launching, but I would use multiple mediums.
Ashley: So I would use email, I would use social media, all the different kinds of platforms. I think less linearly but more like, you want people seeing you everywhere. Because the interesting thing is people mostly buy when they’ve seen you multiple places that they’ve tested this. And I’ve tested this a lot. I do a lot of cold marketing and generally people are going to buy or move forward after the second or third. They did see me out in public. So it’s really important that you’re in say a few places. So you’re interested party might be on your email list plus on LinkedIn plus on Instagram plus on Facebook. So say they lose you in one of those platforms and then they’re going to be on other platforms. So in terms of kind of the launch plan and how to do it, I would focus on giving out quality content snippets and putting it on multiple platforms. And doing it kind of on a regular basis. People tend to have issues with promotion and are like, oh, I don’t want to annoy people, but the reality is people are busy, so it is really good to remind people kind of on a regular basis that you’re out there and what you’re doing and what you’re up to. Because again, it can be quite noisy.
Cindy: Yeah. Now that’s, that’s very true. Jonathan.
Jonathon: We are going to go for our break folks. When we come back, we’re going to be talking some more with Ashley Ryan. Founder of Her Smart Marketing. It’s been a fantastic conversation so far. I’m sure it’s going to continue. We I’ll be back in a few moments folks.
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Jonathon: We’re coming back. Before we continue our discussion with Ashley. I want to talk about a webinar me and my cohost Cindy’s doing the end of this month. We were going to do it the last Thursday of this month. But as you know, listeners and viewers I’ve been sick as a dog for the past two to three weeks. And I’ve got behind on a lot of stuff. So we’re going to do this Webinar on the 28th of February. That’s Thursday the 28th at [9:00] AM Pacific standard time. And it’s seven steps to create your first membership online course. And Cindy and I are going to be talking about those seven steps that you’re going to have to get a successful course. If you want to preregister you just go to the wptonic/webinar and you can subscribe. We’re also offering some great prizes to the people that join us live on the show that register. I’m going to offer a WP Tonic support package. We’ve a normal price of over $700, one of the live listener’s views to the webinar. Will get that for free. And I think Cindy’s got some freebies as well that she’s going to be surprising the people. Over to you Cindy.
Cindy: Let`s sort of think about some of the clients that you have worked with. What are some mistakes that you see people make when they go to launch their course? They don’t make as much money that they had anticipated and get discouraged. But what are some marketing strategy mistakes that people are making that you see people?
Ashley: Good question. Number one is not testing your idea. For example the senior demographic, like seniors who are on a tight budget. That’s going to be less lucrative than like say the business person who is in a million dollar business kind of thing. So there’s different levels of income. There’s different income brackets in those income brackets spend money differently. So I want to make it easy for you as possible to sell your course. So don’t try to work. Here’s another example. One of my clients is a vocal coach and she works with artists who are really struggling. So if you’re struggling in La, you can’t afford rent. You’re sharing your house with 10 other artists, like it’s going to be a stretch to pay $5,000 for the product or whatever.
Ashley: So really important that you test out your idea in your market. Number two, this is a common thing. I not only see in course marketing, but in business. This is the biggest issue I see is not being consistent. So I would say I’m quite successful and it’s not because I’m not only cool and interesting and all these other things. It’s because I do everything every day. I have a list every day I sit down and it might be boring, but I have a team also that helps me and I go through that list. I post this on social media; I go through the feed and comment on people’s stuff. I send out those repetitive emails, entrepreneurs, our stimulation junkies were shiny object syndrome or whatever. We like the excitement. If you can’t be consistent, pay somebody else to be consistent because that’s what gets results. It’s not once a year going out, going crazy, being dazzling. It’s everyday doing those little things that are necessary. So I’d say those are two huge things that can make or break your business in general.
Cindy: Yeah. And that was the tough ones to do to get people to do on a regular basis, Jonathan.
Jonathon: Yeah I agree with you so much Ashley. I produce a little content every month through the podcast. Through blogging, repurposing. As I was talking to Cindy, one of my aims in 2019 is to get more involvement, more engagement from our listeners who are very low. But a lot of the time I don’t get a lot of engagement. Have you got any kind of insights, tips about how you get more people to engage with your content? Because I’m failing on it Ashley.
Ashley: No, that’s great. And it`s great for you to admit that. Actually we have a hard time admitting things, and it’s great that you would say that. I would say huge difference is you need to hire someone or you need to engage more with your people. And they’ll engage back for sure. It’s like night and day really. So it’s tough like with a blog, it’s different. Social media, it’s more reciprocal. If you start to engage with strangers more on a regular basis, they’ll definitely give you the love back and then they’ll start to be actually interested in what you’re saying. Number two is, or like what’s partners. You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours kind of thing. Like, Hey, can you share this? And then I’ll, you know, do the same that’s important. But with blogs that can get trickier. So also that the second thing, and not just talking to you, but just in general, sometimes people hold back from saying what they want to say. So if you’re content is safe at all that you’re putting forth, like maybe your course is super compelling but your contents a little bit safe and you’re not playing the edge. And that’s where people, we’ll start to communicate. If you say something that said, Gee, but that might be a bit controversial about how you truly feel. Because Jonathan, I can tell you’re not a shrinking violet underneath there.
Jonathon: I have another show that is a little edgy. Cindy would be totally off. There is a little bit of swearing and cursing on the show. But now, I just want to do a follow up question before I go over to Cindy. Is that I think as she was saying in the first half of our interview. To market yourself on all these different platforms, this is currently present. I think that’s what you were talking about. I also found like with podcasting, extremely low audience that’s been with me over four years and we built it up to a sizable audience. And they’re very low. Podcasts tend to be very silent. I’ve got another friend Adam of WP Crafter that’s got over a hundred thousand subscribers to his YouTube channel. They seem to be very engaged with him. He spent a lot of time building that engagement but typically one of these training videos around WordPress. He can get over 20 to 40 different comments. I hardly get anything like that. So it does it really depend on the medium as well?
Ashley: Absolutely. For sure. It depends on the medium, the audience, what you are saying. I would do both and then also maybe expressing your content differently to see, here’s something that people forget. I’ll use Facebook live as an example. People do Facebook lives and then no one’s comments and they wonder why, but they’re not engaging their audience. When I want a Facebook live and I see people join. Am like Hey bob, long time, no see blah, blah, blah. Bob has a dump truck business or whatever it is. And so I’m engaging and then they’re giving me some energy back. So that’s important where you’re going live or certain things to be engaging with your audience there if possible. Kind of any ways you can use. But yeah, absolutely. It does depend on the medium. Podcasts are notoriously known for not a lot of emotional feedback.
Jonathon: Its quite interesting that you use that example. We kind of interrupt you, but maybe in the bonus content. We see if there’s any there on the Facebook page. Different mediums really do have different cultures, don’t they Ashley?
Ashley: Totally. Absolutely. Yeah.
Jonathon: Over to you, Cindy.
Cindy: Putting a course together, there’s a lot of different balls in the air. So creating the content marketing and launching, creating the technology. Which ends up, people end up putting it off and putting it off and putting it off. What, what advice do you have for our listeners about how to manage it all? How to actually be able to do, manage all of those different pieces with putting a course together and finally getting it out there?
Ashley: Well, there’s a launch plan, which I will definitely give the viewers for sure. Like a copy of that. That’s helpful. Number two is just having support. So having your assistant kind of help or somebody like have a small budget for an assistant or somebody to help you with it. Just because it is big and it’s, if you’re not doing things yourself, it’s time to delegate really. Like if you’re just not getting those and you’ve got to be a responsible business owner and bite the bullet and then pay somebody kind of thing. Because otherwise your business is going to go nowhere, your course is not going to get launched and all that kind of stuff.
Ashley: So really support is very important. Most entrepreneurs trying to do everything themselves. It can be a solo. That’s why we became entrepreneurs so we could work by ourselves and not have to deal with people bossing us around and all that stuff. And not having to manage people, but it’s important to have support as well as kind of a plan. Something written to follow.
Cindy: Yeah, I think that’s so true. And people are often hesitant to pull the trigger to get the support until they know if it’s going to be successful. And so often they end up trying to do it all in burning themselves out in the whole process.
Ashley: Totally. So just a follow up question to that. How do you like, in terms of getting support, so if this is the first time people are getting support, one of the things this I find or I think of is giving up that control of handing stuff over to somebody else. Especially when you’ve been wanting to do it all yourself. So how do you, cause I know that you have the support through your marketing company. How do you kind of manage that expectation with your clients about giving up control over some of the things that they’ve been doing for so long?
Ashley: That’s a great question. That’s a really good question. Valid question. Number one is you need to hire awesome people. People end up making terrible hires and then they lose trust. And then they’re like, I’m never going to do it again. So that’s not really practical. If you’re doing something that’s not working out, like with the hiring, if you’re not having amazing team members, then of course you’re going to be like, oh, this sucks. So number one is hiring really awesome people. Usually within the first month of working with someone you can tell if they’re awesome or not.
Ashley: So that’s really important. Number two, otherwise you’re just going to be disappointed and then it’s not a good idea to have them doing stuff for you. Number two is once you have a good hire is empowering people and letting them figure it out. So we jump in, we enable, just like even with our kids, I have a teenage son, it’s like instead of allowing them to figure it out, problems come up and say, hey, okay great. Figure it out. You know, and, and let me know if you’re really stuck in come to me, but you know, look into that or give them some clues and then let them kind of take the ball. Number two is also like they may not do a good job as you, they may do an 80% as you would. And you’ve got to kind of let that go. So if you’re a total uptight control freak, you may not emotionally be able to handle handing over stuff. That’s just the way. But you’ve got to kind of chill out and give people a little bit of leeway, but at the same time empower them to come to the answer. Then you’re creating a real team of individuals doing things on their own and that can be really powerful.
Cindy: Yeah. Now that that 80% rule, my husband uses it all the time, so I think it’s a good one, Jonathan.
Jonathon: We are going to wrap up the podcast part of the show. Yeah. Ashley has agreed to stay on for another 10, 15 minutes for bonus content, which you’d be able to see on the WP Tonic website. We will have a full transcription of this great Interview. And the PDF that Ashley hopefully we’ll be able to supply. Or link to a website where you’ll be able to get that PDF. Ashley, how can people, what’s the best way to find out more about you, your company and your faults and what you’re up?
Ashley: Yeah, they can check out my website hersmartmarketing.com. Her like a woman and smart as in really Smart and marketing.com. We have a lot of stuff there. You can also find me on Facebook. Facebook.com forward slash lady Ashley. I love to be friends and kind of connect on there as well.
Jonathon: I love the name. Cindy how can people find out more about what your ideas are and what you are up to?
Cindy: Sure, if you’re looking for some help and support around creating the content for your course. You can find me at www.thecoursewhisper.com. Or you can also find me on LinkedIn by searching Cindy Nicholson.
Jonathon: That’s great. We’re going to wrap up the podcast part of the show. If you really want to support the show folks, give us a review, good or indifferent. All the new reviews I do read them and if they’re funny, I will probably read about on the show. We will be back next week with another guest of the quality of Ashley giving you advice on how to be as successful education entrepreneur using the power of WordPress to build a great membership business. We see you next week folks. Bye
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