Around this same time last year I bought an ebook called The Artist's Freedom Formula by Lloyd Coenen. I paid a little extra for a mini course and Facebook group access. If you've been following this blog for any time at all you know I was plunged into online selling back in 1998 when my husband, Jerry, was disabled in an accident at work.
At the time I was working as an illustrator and graphic designer for a publishing company and working as a fine artist on the side. I had some success getting my work exhibited in Italy when I worked there one summer and I was building up my resume among local galleries, and even exhibited a piece at CAM (The Contemporary Art Museum) in Raleigh when he had the accident. We had just bought our first house and we were expecting our oldest son. In fact, that day of his accident I was wearing my "maternity" clothes (just pants with an elastic waist, I was so skinny back then) for the first time.
Jerry is fine now but at the time he lost $600 a month he was making in overtime before the accident. he was home on disability for three months. I did not get paid maternity leave. So, I was suddenly faced with the prospect of having to come up with thousands of extra dollars every month. I was pregnant, working full time. and Jerry needed quite a bit of care at first because he crushed both his hands and couldn't use them. I turned to freelancing and selling on the brand-new eBay site on the brand-new Internet. I worked at night after my full time job.
My eBay name is ab_art to this day because my plan was to sell my artwork on there. Unfortunately no one was buying. I turned to dolls, and that turned into my home-based business. I have always regretted giving up my art career, however. I also feel like I still don't really know what I'm doing, business-wise, even after 20+ years. I wanted to learn about running a business like a professional without actually having to go back to school and pay for another degree. So much of my business practices are pieced together because I learned one thing here and another there, always under a desperate timeline trying to raise quick cash.
I want to say here how much I love online courses and the people who teach them. They are a democratizing force in an increasingly unequal society. I've been taking courses constantly for a little over a year now and I've spent about $5000, far less than even a community college degree would cost. I've learned so much I am putting together my own series of courses. Sign up here to be notified when those are live; the first one, on how to quickly make income when you need it like I did after Jerry's accident, should be released in the next couple weeks.
So, I read Lloyd's book and took his course. I do recommend it if you're an artist. Lloyd provides a ton of value for free or for a very low cost. He does all kinds of live calls and really holds your hand through the technology aspect, which is where I'm weakest. I'm sure I disappoint Lloyd because he's always asking about my art business and I never have done much with it. I did start a Facebook page and Shopify site and email list but it's been really slow to take off, mainly because I don't spend much time on it or marketing it. You can find out more about my art and get some free artwork here.
But anyway, Lloyd's book introduced me to the idea of a funnel. Funnels are a marketing concept, basically emails or mini websites that "funnel" customers to your offer. That, in turn introduced me to ClickFunnels and a guy named Russell Brunson.
I have given so much money to Russell and ClickFunnels over the past year but I don't regret it! I took his Your First Funnel Challenge and became a founding member of his ClickFunnels 2.0 software site. Eventually that site will replace all my other sites. It's still very beta and I'm still very awful at the tech but they give THREE live training sessions every week in the Facebook group. I highly recommend the Your First Funnel Challenge if you see an ad for it. Once I found out about ClickFunnels I fell down a rabbit hole of online courses.
First I joined MindValley and took a variety of mindset courses and then I took Eric Edmedes' Business Freedom Blueprint class on setting up your business so you can someday exit it by selling it or hiring a CEO to run to for you. This was a great class but way beyond my level. I am nowhere near exiting my business, since I don't even have any employees. I have set up some of his recommended processes for the future, however.
Then Russell introduced me to Grant Cardone and I took his Unbreakable Business Challenge, attended 10X GrowthCon virtually, and then took a TON of other classes from him on everything from health to real estate investing. I am a member of his Cardone University 10X business class. Grant takes a little getting used to. He has never met a right wing conspiracy theory he doesn't love, which means he's sometimes hard for me to listen to, but he provides more free content than anyone else in the business. He and his team are constantly having free live calls and trainings, as well as sending all kinds of e-mails and free e-books. The only thing about 10X, for me anyway, is I don't feel like I have an advanced-enough business. My little service business isn't able to do a lot of the things they advise you do and I don't make enough money to hire anyone to help me. So, while I do recommend Grant and everyone at Cardone Ventures, I think you need a little more advanced business to get everything you can from their training. Definitely take advantage of all their free training, but wait until you've grown a little using their advice before you pay for more classes.
Then I took Russell's PLR (private label rights) class with Paul Counts and Shreya Banerjee. This has been a great course and I am the farthest on setting up those funnels because they're already made. The class is free but the paid group includes editable information products with funnels and emails already done that you can change and rebrand. The thing I don't like is a lot of the courses are videos that I can't see any way to edit, so it's hard to rebrand those. They add new products and funnels every month and also hold two live training classes. I've learned the most about making funnels from them and have one almost ready to go live.
Then Russell introduced me to Jenna Kutcher. Jenna is the person I most emulate because her business is the most like mine of all the teachers I've had. Jenna was a wedding photographer and she was very successful but her one-person service business was burning her out. I totally get that!
I've never built my business as much as I know I could because there are only so many dolls I can repair with my two hands. I did implement doll kits and tutorials a few years ago and that helped me grow a bit, but I still have to make the kits and write the tutorials. We have three kids, two of whom were adopted with special needs and the other was diagnosed with diabetes in 2017, so they have all needed a lot of therapy and medical care at various times. That part of my life is winding down; we have just one at home now. He's the most time-intensive, however, having been born with a cleft lip and palate and also being very athletic. He's currently on the high school cross country team, requiring me to wake up every morning at 4:40am to get him to practice. Today I spent the morning taking him to the dentist and back to school and I will spend the entire afternoon at his track meet.
But anyway, back to Jenna. Feeling overwhelmed, she took a course on creating online courses, and within a very short time period she was making 7 figures. She has since built an empire, with her Goal Digger Podcast, a collection of courses, and affiliate marketing. She quit the photography business and retired her husband. I've taken Jenna's free mini Instagram and Pinterest courses and her List Launch Lab course (at least the basic part). The LLL has a section for advanced businesses and I started those classes but the last one I took, on automated direct messaging, I will have to retake because it starts out with the teacher saying, "This is really easy as long as you know how to do (something or other I have never heard of) and create a zap on Zapier and..." And then I didn't understand any more of the words. She might as well have been speaking Greek!
But the basic class is very good and once I learn more or make enough money to hire a tech person I am sure I will get more out of the advanced version. Jenna introduced me to Flodesk, an email marketing software, and it has been very easy to learn. I started at the end of July and have grown my email list quite a bit. I have another paid class of Jenna's to take, another Instagram class, and I'll update you when I've finished that one. I can't finish that one yet because I am currently taking Amy Porterfield's Course Confidential class.
Amy Porterfield is Jenna's mentor and Jenna introduced me to her. So far her class has been very informative, There's a great Facebook group, very helpful. I also read Amy's free report on using AI with course creation and that's been very helpful.
In July Russell held a joint event with Pedro Adeo called the Challenge Secrets Intensive (or maybe Masterclass, I can't remember). I did the challenge and I'm partway through the class. I got distracted and wrote a book over the summer and published it. I do have plans to host my first challenge any day now; I'm going to try to speed through the rest of the Challenge Secrests classes.
I really like Challenge Secrets because Pedro is fantastic at helping you get past the tech issues. He calls funnels the "graveyard of broken dreams" and it's true. A year later and I STILL haven't managed a working funnel! The problem with all these classes is once you learn the principle behind it then you have to learn an app or a software.
So I started just trying to sell artwork and I had to learn how to set up Shopify and link it to Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram. The Pinterest linking has never worked and Facebook and Instagram worked for a while but haven't for months. I'm actually thinking of closing the Shopify site because it's not selling enough to be worth all the hassle and it doesn't do what it claims. I also had to learn Printful trying to sell art. I've kind of got the hang of that but a few months ago eBay changed their shipping profiles and the Printful link hasn't worked since. And then there's ClickFunnels, which is an odyssey to learn. And I had to learn Flodesk. I had to learn to embed code and change DNS records on websites. I still need to learn the zap and Zapier thing...
The issue with every one of these classes except Challenge Secrets has been that I get all excited and motivated and start working on whatever they taught and then a hit a wall because I have to learn a whole new software and that stops me. So I have all kinds of half-finished things and then I also have my regular every day business with my 14 shops and doll hospital that is what is actually making me the money I live on!
Oh, and somewhere in there I took a mini course from Sabri Suby. I also ordered his Sell Like Crazy book but I haven't read it yet. I was disappointed with him because I spent a couple hundred dollars on "plug and play" funnels for Click Funnels but when I tried to plug them in I found out they don't work with ClickFunnels 2.0. Click Funnels 1.0 is being retired, so that was a waste of money. One of the staff did do a free coaching call with me that lasted like a half hour, but the person (not Sabri but an employee) kept asking me questions and then cutting me off and interrupting me when I tried to answer (I call that Manterrputing). At least I got something for my money I guess, but I would not recommend Sabri unless you confirm the tech he promises will actually work.
So, here's my recommendation: take Challenge Secrets FIRST. Pedro is now running some other class called Movement Makers and keeps sending me emails about how I shouldn't run a challenge until I take it, but to be honest that makes me kind of mad because I just paid like $1500 in July for his other stuff and I don't have the money to take another class BEFORE I can implement that one! Maybe if you take the Movement Makers class you will get a discount on the Challenge Secrets; I don't know, but I recommend you start with Challenge Secrets. I think Movement Makers is about imposter syndrome and feeling qualified to teach, and I already addressed that with my MindValley classes. I recommend Marisa Peer for that. Right now I'm taking her MindValley RTT class about reprogramming yourself through self-hypnosis essentially to overcome subconscious blocks that are holding you back. She has a lot of free exercises on YouTube, as does MindValley.
Mindset is really important and if you struggle with confidence, organization, procrastination, or other mental blocks you should probably take at least one course on that first. I was listening to Jenna's Goal Digger podcast and she was talking about how when she started her first course she's already been doing one on one personal coaching where people would consult with her in person or online... and she was charging for it! It hit me then and I felt like such an idiot because I've been providing that kind of counseling for decades for free. I see now it's because I didn't feel like my skills were valuable enough to charge money. However, if people are driving across the country to consult with you, as people have done with me, don't you think your skill is sought-after? Sometimes we can't see our own worth, so get your mindset right first.
But anyway, after Challenge Secrets I would take Jenna's List Launch Lab and start building an email list. Then I would take Amy's course creation class OR by that time my business incubator should be done and you can take that! Then I would take the First Funnel Challenge or the PLR class and learn to build funnels, once you actually have a product to sell. THEN I would move on to Cardone University or the Business Freedom Formula to grow your business. My classes are going to have a heavy dose of tech help and I may do standalone courses on just one of two apps or websites.
So, let me know, have you taken any of these classes or events? Which was most valuable to you? What do you wish you'd learned?
My name is Amanda, but my childhood nickname was "Mandaline". I am a mother of three turning my passion for creating into a full-time business.