I often say on the podcast that "you don't know what you don't know". When I quit law and felt frantic to figure out my next thing, I could only look at what I knew was possible. I knew that entrepreneurship felt exciting and I wanted to give it a try.
But all I had seen, up until that point in my life, was brick-and-mortar shops or Shark Tank-style product businesses. So I figured that I had to create a physical product. And that's what I did with my photo booth business. But I don't have to tell you that developing a product is very difficult and expensive.
Through my own journey in entrepreneurship, and specifically learning more about marketing, I learned about the world of online businesses. More specifically, I learned about the world of people selling their knowledge online.
People were making great multiple six-figure and seven-figure businesses without any overheard, upfront capital, employee or manufacturing issues, and on and on. The more I dove into it, the more eye-opening it became. And I kept thinking: "I wish someone had told me about this whole world before I jumped into building a physical product."
So that's what I'm here to do for you. We've had some previous guests on the show who have amazing online education businesses, like:
Episode 67 with Kayse Morris, who quit being an elementary school teacher and now has a multiple six-figure business teaching other teachers how to sell resources. Or,
Episode 53 with Elle Drouin, who has an incredible business selling stock photos to bloggers who need it for social media.
But we haven't talked about what it means to build this type of a business, who can do it, and the ways in which you can do it.
So I'm so excited to have Gemma Bonham-Carter on the podcast today to talk all about how she got started in this online education space and how she now teaches regular people how to create these big businesses by just sharing their knowledge.
Gemma is a serial online entrepreneur, digital marketing strategist, and podcast host. After building her own 6-figure digital product business and experiencing the freedom it provides, she has made it her mission to help others do the same. If you're looking for another way to create a side-hustle or jump into entrepreneurship, Gemma is your girl!
Goli: Hello friends. Welcome to another episode. I am so excited to have you guys here. If you tuned in last week, then you know that the book for our book club for March is Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. I adore this book. It is very easy and quick to read, but it is just such a life-changing perspective on doing creative work. And so, I really recommend you read it. We will talk about it at the end of this month. Also as you know by now, because I keep droning on about it, I am now offering free coaching calls! Last month’s was amazing, which was last week. I love getting in and diving into what is stopping you, what is the thing you need help with? What are the steps that you need to take right now? What are the limiting beliefs and the fear and all that other good stuff. So yeah, if you are wondering about how to quit your job and what you should be doing, sign up at quitterclub.com/coaching and I will send you the link every month.
It's a zoom call. You just hop on the link, we meet up and we can chat about anything. So I will send out the dates for March. It'll be typically the last week of the month. And I hope to see you there. So you can actually sign up anywhere on my website for my newsletter and you'll get that. Quitterclub.com/coaching will guarantee you that you're on that list. So go ahead and do that.
Okay. I am so excited about the episode today. I have Gemma Bonham-Carter. And the reason I'm so excited is because I've wanted to talk about this topic for a long time and I didn't really know how to approach it or who I wanted to have on. And she's the perfect person. And the topic is online businesses and more specifically, online education.
What we've said a lot on this podcast is you don't know what you don't know. And a lot of what I hear from people that I talk to through the podcast (are people that are in my coaching programs or group programs who want to quit) is you only go to what you know. And so a lot of times people love the idea of being their own boss and being an entrepreneur and they really want to try something else where they have a passion for something and they think that the only way to start a business is to start the type of businesses they know, which is like what you see on shark tank or all the small businesses you see around. So yeah, people start thinking, “Maybe I should open a cafe or maybe I should create a product that I can get on shark tank with.” That is great if that is something you want to do.
If there's a product that you feel really passionate about that is a great type of a business, typically the barrier to entry for those types of businesses is very difficult because products and physical products and brick and mortar businesses require a lot of money upfront. You have to have a lot of capital and typically people will then have to get investors and it requires a little bit more business acumen and really understanding what the, your market's going to be like, how you're going to scale it, you know, all of that stuff. So, it can feel really overwhelming and there can be a lot of steps getting it off the ground. It can take a very long time. I think a lot of times people get discouraged. Now what I don't think people understand in the traditional world is this world of online business that is just exploding.
Many people are creating businesses that afford them their dream lives and they're doing it by themselves, out of their homes on the side nights and weekends. It doesn't require capital. It’s a really great way to create a business around a topic that you are passionate about or something you really love. Now we've had some people on the podcast that have done this, so we've highlighted it in certain ways. For example, in episode 67, we had Casey Morris who used to be a teacher then selling her resources on a marketplace for teachers. It started doing so well that she began teaching other teachers how to sell their resources. She now has a multiple six-figure business (if not seven-figure at this point) doing that, which is amazing. For someone who started out as an elementary school teacher and not making that much money, it's amazing what her business now affords her.
We had episode 65 Terra La Ferrara who has a brick and mortar business. She has a gym, but she also started teaching her workouts on her own online membership site. She now has an online business that's doing incredibly well. And we've had a couple of other people, actually a bunch of other people, I would say that have done this kind of stuff. Elle Druin on episode 53 has a membership site. She helps people with social media marketing. Anyways, the list goes on. But I really wanted to highlight and kind of dig into what, what that means. How did they set it up, what are people doing? And so I'm so excited to have Gemma on because this is what she does. She's made it her mission to help other people create, market and scale actual digital products like courses and memberships. She is a serial entrepreneur, digital marketing strategist, and podcast host.
She built her own multiple six-figure digital product business and she realized the freedom that it provided her and her family. And so she really wants to help other people understand that they can do it too. Her podcast is called the Passive Project Podcast, which you should check out. And when she's not doing all things entrepreneurial online business empire building journey, you can find her on adventures with her two kids in Ottawa, Canada. So the reason I really want her to have her on is to kind of dispel some of the myths or some of the fears that we all have about what this online space entails and to really talk about how you can create a thriving business that will maybe let you quit your job. Without further ado, let's jump in and get into the goodness with Gemma. Hi Gemma, thank you so much for joining me today!
Gemma: I'm so excited to be on the show!
Goli: I am so excited to have you because this is a topic I've really wanted to talk about for a long time because I think that my audience may not understand the glory and beauty of this online digital product space and I cannot wait to open their eyes to the possibilities. So we will get into kind of your zone of genius and all the amazing things you do to help people sell their products online. But before we get into that, why don't you tell us a little bit about yourself, kind of your career and how you ever even ended up in this online business space.
Gemma: If you talk to any kind of digital entrepreneur, they usually have a really roundabout way of why they ended up where they ended up. And I am definitely no exception. My background is in public health. I was going on the very traditional career route. I had a nine to five job as a project manager but always had this like creative side to me and it just wasn't being fulfilled in my workplace. Back in 2010 - it feels like a million years ago now - I started a blog and I didn't really even know what a blog was. I had just discovered this one blog that I loved that was all about renovating homes and my husband and I had just bought our first fixer upper. And I thought, man, what a fun, creative outlet in a way to share renovations with our family and friends.
I had no concept that this could be anything more than that. So I bought a domain name on a whim. It was called The Sweetest Digs, it’s really embarrassing that I even... I don't even know where that name came from. There was no thought process behind this at all. I have the ugliest website you've ever seen. Pretty sure my first blog post had no pictures in it and I just started this on a whim and on evenings and weekends I would write blog posts and I would take pictures of these DIY projects I was doing around our house. Lo and behold, family and friends started reading it, but then so did other people and it kind of blossomed into this whole other side to my life that I didn't even think was a possibility. Then my eyes really opened up when I attended my first blogging conference because I suddenly saw, wow, there are so many other people that are doing this same thing and they're doing it and making money.
This is not just an online diary, this can be a business. It was really like a big moment for me and a big turning point and I suddenly started to see this blog as something bigger. So I really started to monetize it in all of the traditional blogging ways, you know, display ads and affiliate income. I started to even work with brands. I think the very first brand I ever worked with, I didn't get a paycheck, but I got a free can of paint and I thought I'd just won the lottery. And then it all just snowballed from there. It started really making money. I would call it a very sort of significant side hustle. At the time I still had my nine to five job, but this was something that I was doing on the side that was bringing in more and more income and I was becoming more and more passionate about it and finding new ways to monetize it and new ways to grow my audience. And then it was around the time when I had my daughter. She was my first child. The blog had gotten fairly significant enough that I didn't need to go back to my nine to five after my maternity leave with her, I was able to just do contract work. So I would take these contracts and public health so that I could even out my income, because the blog wasn't quite enough at the time for me to fully leave my profession.
Goli: Can I just ask how many years it took you doing that blogging on the side before it kinda got to this place where it was a significant side hustle?
Gemma: Totally. So I started it in 2010 and I had my daughter in 2013 and I had kind of like a year of maternity leave with her where that year maternity leave, I was really ramping things up on the blog. So it was like a significant side hustle kind of by 2014, let's say.
Goli: But I love that really quickly before we keep going because I think a lot of times we are so desperate to find the next thing and jump on and we put so much pressure on creating something so quickly. One of the reasons I even liked the idea of a side hustle, even though I know obviously it's hard to balance with work and kids and whatever to do something on the side. A lot of this stuff just takes a while to learn the ins and outs and you were just saying like all doing it all the wrong ways, which is the best way to do it in the beginning, just put it out there, right? Cause how are you ever going to learn and people are waiting until they have the right logo and they have the best website and you're just delaying your own success because it's going to take you a million other things to learn before you get there. So I love that. It's like a slow build. You're learning how to blog, you go to a conference, you learn a couple more tips, you implement it and like over time and not that much time, three years, four years.
Gemma: It's not that much time. That is time when it's like I'm still working that nine to five and I'm pregnant having a kid and like this, I have loads of time to dedicate to this. And to your point, I went to a conference for sure but everything was self-taught and back then there weren't really online courses or if there were, I didn't know about them and I had no mentor. I had no nothing to invest into kind of show me the way this was serious trial and error. And this is also back in the time when I had to learn to code on WordPress. There's no like pretty Squarespace theme to have a beautiful website in a week.
I love talking to online entrepreneurs who've been doing it for 10 years cause it's so funny. It's like the, I had to walk 40 miles in the snow to get to the school otherwise, you know... But it is true because now it's just so plug and play. There are so many software options where you just click a button and it sets up a website for you and everything is there and it was not like that so.
Yeah, so that was definitely the beginning of my journey and then I kind of had this transition time when I had my second son was when I really started to discover digital products. I had seen people selling things like eBooks but for very cheap - $9 or something. And I was starting to see that there was a possibility here of higher-end digital offers like online courses and memberships and things like that. Again, I had this light bulb moment of thinking like, Oh well maybe this is the next step for me. And at the same time, I had started to be asked by other bloggers about how I got to where I got to with my blog because even though it was, let's call it a quote-unquote significant side hustle and not full-time income, lots of people still wanted that side hustle.
I wanted to understand how I'd made that happen for myself when I was pregnant with my son, I decided at first I was going to launch an ebook, but then this ebook to Hertz started to be really long and I was like, this is going to be a lot easier if I just record some videos and turn this into a course. After I'd had him, which was in 2016 by the end of 2016 launched my very first online course, which was all about how to monetize a blog. I did it. This is not an amazing story where I tell you I made $100,000 overnight. With this first course, I don't, I can't remember. I should go back and look at how much I actually made. But I want to say it was probably a thousand dollars. It really wasn't very much money and I think I charged 79 bucks for this course. It was not a lot, but it was the beginning to this whole next step in my journey.
Goli: I love that. And first of all I would just say because we do see a lot of marketing these days of like I launched my course, then within six months I was making multiple six figures and I now it has become my personal pet peeve. And so I always do so much online stalking to figure out who that person is because inevitably they've had maybe three other online courses before that... It’s very rare that you have no experience, don't know what you're doing and then you hit it out of the park the first time and that's fine. You don't have to. And I know we get sold that a lot. Often we think it's going to be, “I'm going to put it up and I'm going to start raking in the dough.” But it doesn't have to be like that and it doesn't mean that you still can't be successful. You do it so that you learn, you try and then you iterate.
Gemma: Exactly. You test and you tweak and you everything improves the more you do something. I think the real secret sauce is just in your consistency because I think what I see a lot of people do is… It’s like how shiny objects syndrome. They try this one thing and then try the next thing and try the next thing and nothing ever pans out the way they hope it's going to right away. But then the difference is if they had just stuck it out, they would have turned that corner. They would have seen the success that they were hoping for and wishing for. It just doesn't happen that quickly. And anybody who you look at who you admire and you put on a pedestal and you think it happened overnight for them it didn't. And if you were to sit down and have a coffee with them, they would tell you that that really wasn't the case. Whether it's their third course they launched and that was the one that had success. Or maybe it was the first course that they launched, but they had four businesses before that and were a seasoned entrepreneur and understood business. Right. And so they're coming to it with a completely different level of mindset and education. So there's always a backstory.
Goli: Absolutely. And it's funny because I think in the online space, I know that we, we get this marketing of making it quickly and there, it's usually not like that, but in the grand scheme of things, it's like there are tons of people who are making a ton of money and the relative time span is not that much. I may not be six months, but two years, three years, four years to start making multiple six figures or seven-figure businesses that a lot of people are validly doing; That is possible. And I think if we maybe just tweak our expectation of like, okay, I think with any business like any other brick and mortar business or you'd never think that I need it to be successful in six months. Right. You're giving yourself a runway to, to build it up. And I think the same can be done with online courses.
Gemma: Yeah. And there's just this unrealistic expectation that I think is driven by flashy marketing that we often see. And yeah, I mean to your point, I launched that first course of mine in 2017 it's now at the beginning of 2020 if you would've told me then that I'd be sitting here now with a healthy multiple six-figure business, I would have laughed. I was going to be so happy just to make, I dunno, 20,000 bucks a year from the course, right? And I never thought it would be big. I always thought it would be this portion of my revenue where I was making income from all these different sources and this was just going to be a piece of that pie. Uh, never did I think that I would have this sort of health of healthy business with such a large percentage of my income coming from digital offers.
Goli: Okay. So why don't you tell us what that business is now too, that you're making multiple six figures? Like what do you offer and who do you help?
Gemma: I still actually have The Sweetest Digs kind of running on autopilot on the side, but for my business, you can find me at gemmabonhamcarter.com and what I do is I help other online entrepreneurs who want to dive into this, to the digital product space. I help them create, sell and market and scale their digital product-based businesses. And so whether that is a service-based entrepreneur who wants to add a digital arm to their business, maybe it is a blogger who knows that they could monetize their audience with a digital offer or it's somebody brand new but wants to start an online business who knows that they have a passion or a hobby or a skill or something that they can teach and we transform that into a digital offer and build a business around it.
Goli: And so do you sell courses or do you sell memberships or how do you do that?
Gemma: So I sell a few different things. Let's just go in, I don't know, kind of like a ladder. So I have some small scale digital offers that are under $100. They solve a more immediate pain point for somebody. And so for a lot of my smaller offers there are things like templates and tools that just help them solve a very specific problem. For instance, I have one that's called 52 prompts and it's specifically for writing incredible weekly newsletters, to your subscriber list. So that would be $27 product that I offer. Or I offer a webinar, like a little mini offer where you get the slide deck and the outline and all of that in a mini offer.
So I had things like that at the low end. The mid-end is I have an amazing membership program called the passive project and that is where we have over 200 members who all sell digital products, who are learning how to really sell and market and scale their businesses. And that's what we do in there. There's a ton of content. Every single month I deliver some kind of strategy that's working for me and my that either gets them more leads or more sales because those are the only two things that you really should be focused on if you're building a digital product-based business is how am I growing my email list? How am I getting those subscribers to convert into buyers? So we dish on strategies to do that inside of that membership program. And then I have a couple of higher ticket, higher-priced online courses.
One is called course creators school and that is for fresh out of the gate. Uh, folks who want to learn how to, how to launch their first online course and we take them step by step starting from scratch. And the other one is actually called build your lists bootcamp. Because if you know me for any length of time, you'll know how much I talk about how important it is to build an email list, but I do it a little bit differently. So instead of building an email list and talking about lead magnets and talking about advertisements, like using paid advertising the way that I like to teach my students to build their email list is through partnerships and collaborations. And so that's what that is particular course takes them through.
Goli: Very cool. Okay. So backing up a little bit because I think the majority of people here maybe aren't even considering an online business because I think my experience from the people that I meet through the podcast who I are in my group program or you know that sign up for coaching or whatnot desperately want to leave their careers and a lot of times it's like grasping at straws trying to figure out what's the next thing and you know, you don't know what you don't know. And so I think a lot of times we go for what we know and what we know is like, okay, if I want to start a business I got to think of shark tank or a startup, I'm going to go start some kind of app or something and it and those things, while they're great, if that's something that you love to do, there's a ton of capital involved. You need funding, you may need more business background or an understanding of how to scale a business, whatever.
There's, there's a lot more that is involved. Then I think about what a lot of people are doing within the online digital space where you can be a solo-preneur, you can just be you building this business. But I think a lot of people don't really understand what they would do. And so I think listening to this and might be like, okay, great, you were a blogger so you could teach people that I don't have anything. I'm a lawyer. I want to leave LA, I have nothing I can teach people or I don't have, what would I create into an online digital product?
Gemma: For sure. I think sometimes it's just a matter of removing yourself from the day to day life and go sit at a, you know, sit at a coffee shop or go somewhere and just let yourself take some space to brainstorm your passions, your skills, your hobbies. Put it all down on paper because my guess is that everybody has something in them that they could create a business around. And it may not be super obvious to you at first. And it may not be like this. I think oftentimes people think, Oh well it's just people who teach people how to run businesses like that who are successful in selling online courses or memberships or whatever it might be. That's just the case. There are people out there who are teaching watercolor painting or crochet or there's somebody in my community who teaches parents how to teach their kids how to read, so parents of four and five-year-olds and stuff.
Teaching them how those kinds of skills, there's so much, the potential is so great and the online course or online education industry is only growing year over year over year it grows and I don't know the projections at the moment, but every time I look at the projections it's insane. It's going to be $1 billion industry by this particular year, whatever. It's not going anywhere. I think you just need to get really clear with yourself on like maybe it's that thing you did as a teenager that you've kind of suppressed, that hobby that you love to do, that you've suppressed. Then you actually just need to get back in touch with and explore that again. And so there's this place of looking at your passions, looking at your skills. And then the next thing is doing your market research and looking at what else is out there in that area, what's already being sold.
If you can find other courses or memberships or whatever around that particular topic, what are they teaching? Usually, if you can find the sales page, you're going to find their list of modules or what comes with the course. So look at that. Create a spreadsheet for yourself as you do your Googling and just make note of what else is out there, what are the price points that those things are being sold that. And then if you want to go next level into market research, get yourself into the communities where the people who are interested in that particular topic or niche are hanging out. And then what questions are they asking? So that could be a simple thing that would be like even in something like a Reddit forum. That seems really weird to go to Reddit, but there are tons of people asking questions about any kind of subject there.
Another thing is going on to Facebook and you can find Facebook groups for literally every niche or topic or interest out there. I remember somebody talking about how people complain that like, Oh, maybe by market there's not really a market for this and it's, you know, they're not enough people or whatever. She just gave the example of how she went onto Facebook and searched for a corgi, and found a Facebook group with 550,000 members. These groups exist and you just need to spend your time on Google. Essentially diving into them and really understanding what are, what are the pain points that they're experiencing and what kind of thing, what kind of problems are they looking to solve and how could you solve those with some kind of digital offer.
Goli: Yes. I think that's obviously really great advice and I think what you were just saying, I think one other thing that can help people is maybe to ask people around you what they come to you for. Because a lot of times we don't see what we're good at and we don't think people would pay for that. You think like, Oh this is just natural. Or I make easy dinners every night for 10 minutes. I give all the recipes out because I just know how to throw five ingredients together or whatever. And you don't realize that people pay for memberships for that or people will buy things because they want to make their life easier. And a lot of times when you start realizing, Oh, everybody comes to me for this, you can turn that into a business.
Gemma: 100% I think you hit the nail on the head and just to reiterate what you just said, the thing that comes naturally to us is often the thing that we don't see in ourselves and that it absolutely is that gem of a thing. And we dismiss it for a really long time. I was talking with a client yesterday, a coaching client and she was saying this thing about how she teaches about systems. She was saying something about g-mail and her ability to organize a Gmail with filters and folders and canned responses and all these things and it just comes really naturally to her to create a really effective system for Gmail. This is for business owners. And I thought, well that is incredibly useful. I actually didn't know some of those things. I've been in business for a long time. You could absolutely create a training product around that and it had never even dawned on her.
Goli: I love that. And that's another thing that I see and I think is maybe for this audience specifically, when you've been in an industry for a really long time, you know what Gemma was just saying is to kind of be aware of what your niche is, and I mean if you don't want to be in that industry, that's another story and I'm not in any way encouraging you to start a business just to start a business. But I often see this and I wish I had known this… When I was a lawyer after I quit and I was doing other things, I'd go to tech events and then I would see how much of a need there was for quick templates. People just starting their LLC is and it's just really easy stuff that you're just kind of, it doesn't take a ton of one-on-one work.
It's kind of the same forms all the time or whatever. And I kept thinking, Oh God, if there was just a lawyer that would offer this to these people at a cheaper price because lawyers tend to have such high, you know, hourly rates and people can't. So they just don't hire lawyers and they do it themselves. It would be such a huge business. And, and now I've seen so many lawyers pop up that are doing this over the last couple of years that I think is great. But I think even in your industry or I've seen online courses where the person was an art teacher and now teaches art teachers how to lesson plan or creative ways to teach kids. It's a seven-figure business. She's making multiple, multiple solving figures, multi-million dollars selling to art teachers. Teachers don't notoriously have a lot of money, right?
So they're buying $10 lesson plans or whatever it is. But there is no enough of them that want help. And so she did this for so long, it was and was good at it and was like, I can make this. So even in the thing that you're in, there are so many ancillary ways like you were just talking about, you know, maybe it's helping someone just create systems in their business. Maybe it's helping. I think about this with lawyers, I know people now that have online businesses helping lawyers set up their firms. I know people that are, you know, working as lawyers, helping people, you know, online business. There are just so many little things that you can bring online that we don't really think about.
Gemma: Absolutely. I was hearing somebody talk the other day about how they are a physician… She started an online business coaching other female physicians in terms of career coaching and it blew up for her. So yeah, you don't have to necessarily take 10 steps to the right and do something completely different. It may actually be the thing that you're already doing. You're just doing it in a different way.
Goli: Absolutely. One thing I want to highlight is that you were just talking about like you have this multiple six-figure business and you know obviously you have a bunch of different products, but you were saying your membership is 200 people and you were just talking about this corgi group that had 500,000 I just want to get people to understand that you don't need a ton of people in order to have a successful business. One of the reasons people don't start is like, Oh, someone's already doing it. And when you start thinking that there's just in America if you're listening to this in America or Canada, you know there are hundreds of millions of people and you're trying to capture a thousand of them. You're not trying to be Nike here. You're trying to create a business that will sustain your life and it's so much more doable than I think people realize.
Gemma: Yeah. That's such a common mindset thing of getting in our heads about an idea that if somebody else has already done it, there's no space in the marketplace for you to do it. And I mean that would be like saying Starbucks is successful as a coffee shop, so there's no place in the market for additional coffee shops and we just know that that's not the case. That's just a block that I think as a budding entrepreneur you just need to recognize, set it aside and realize it's irrational and continue to step. I think often what's happening is that we have fear or we're uncomfortable with having to put ourselves out there and start to get visible and start this new thing and what if it's a failure and what if it doesn't live up to my expectations and what if I can't make it work? And that's just all your fear talking and you're trying to come up with rational excuses for why you're not going to take that step and they're, you know, they're actually not, they're not valid. Right.
Goli: Absolutely. And I think it's just a matter of what we've seen before with businesses. Again, when we look at mainstream media, you think that a business has to be this huge brand or have tons and tons of clients. It seems like an insurmountable kind of a mountain to climb where you're thinking, well, I don't know anything about that kind of marketing. And I just think that you can really start with a small group and create a viable business.
Gemma: Oh, 100% and with digital offers in particular, generally speaking, what you're doing is you're building a personal brand, right? You're building a brand around you. This does not have to be some giant thing with a huge amount of followers. I still don't have 10,000 followers on my Instagram like that. I feel like in today's world, we measure success against our Instagram following count and it's nothing. It doesn't mean anything.
Goli: There are literally, there's now been articles and stuff that I've read where there are Instagram “influencers” who have hundreds of thousands of followers and can't figure out how to monetize it or don't know how or haven't done it. And I personally know a couple of guests that have been on here, a couple of people that I know in this space and like you were just saying who have way less than 10,000 you might be 1,002 thousand who are making seven figures. None of this stuff correlates. We just, because we just see it one way and we think that's the path. There are so many other ways to kind of create a business now.
Gemma: Absolutely. Just after the point too, if somebody else is already doing something in my niche, then there is no space for me. It actually means that there's demand in the marketplace. That's actually a good sign. If you see that other people are selling products around the topic that you want to sell on, that's a good thing. Take that as a good sign. Look at what they're doing, look at their frameworks and the types of offers that they're selling. And then think about, okay, how, what's my unique spin? What's gonna make my offer stand out? How am I gonna add value in a way that's a little bit different from them and have my own unique thing and people are going to be drawn to you for that. And the more you can lean into what makes you different and what are your core values and even in terms of your branding and what are the things that when you're building a personal brand, your kind of pillars of, like for me for instance, one of them is motherhood.
And I talk about being a mom. I talk about balancing entrepreneurship and motherhood. My kids show up in my email newsletters or on my Instagram or whatever. And so I'm there for attracting other moms, other parents who want to get into digital products or build that kind of business for themselves. And they're attracted to me because that's part of my personal brand. Whereas there are many other people in my same niche teaching on the same types of topics, who don't have kids and that's not part of their brand. People aren't going to resonate with them as much.
Goli: One hundred percent. I mean I think going back to what you were saying about this... I've heard so many people say like, Oh, I was going to do this, but then I saw someone doing it and it's like, okay. And they're like, obviously that is a block. But one thing that I will just share as a personal experience that I think people don't take into account as much as, um, because I do think your voice is different, your perspective is different. There's room for everybody and there's going to be people that resonate with you that don't with other people and vice versa. And that's all. Okay. And I think that's great to know. But when I started my podcast and I started looking at the podcast landscape and I knew I was very set on the name, I was set on the concept.
I knew what I wanted to do cause that was the message that I wanted to put out there. I remember finding three podcasts that were the same conversations about the same topic. And I remember in the beginning feeling really deflated and being like, okay, I shouldn't do this. There are already so many voices. Why do people want to listen to the same thing? But there was something in me that wanted to do this so bad that I thought, I don't care. I'm going to do it. And what's funny now, I mean in hindsight now it's been a year and a half... Two of those three just stopped doing it and they have gone on to do other things. And I think about that a lot and I think you don't have control over what other people are doing. You only kind of have control over yourself and what a shame it would have been if I didn't pursue this thing that I really loved or wanted to do based on what someone else is doing. And then for them it was a hobby or maybe you know, whatever happened and they wanted to move on and are doing complete things in other fields. You can't control that. It's like stop, just run your own race, figure out what it is you want to do and just do that thing.
Gemma: Do that thing. Exactly and listen to your own gut and your own tuition intuition and follow what it's saying because I think that's the other thing. The danger of social media and for me anyway, it's Instagram in particular. I watch other people's stories and all that kind of stuff and it can, even if you don't realize in the moment it can have such a huge effect on how you run your business. If you see other people running businesses in the way that they run theirs and somehow influences what you think you should be doing and it's so important to stay true to yourself and stay in your own lane and do the things in the way that feel right and good to you because we can just be so influenced and allow our businesses to follow this other path because that's what we feel like we should be doing because we see other people doing that and it just doesn't, it's not actually in alignment and what's going to end up happening is that it might be okay for a while, but then two, three, four years down the road you're going to be burning out hard because that was not the path that you should have been taking. That was in line with what you truly wanted.
Goli: Absolutely. I mean there's definitely something to be said for putting Instagram down and walking away and figuring out what it is you want to do.
Gemma: Yeah, I have, I've definitely put some barriers around that for myself. I love using Instagram for my own business and connecting with my audience on Instagram and in the DMS and all that. But I had to put a hard barrier for myself watching other people's Instagram stories and being influenced by their stuff. It just seeps into my, my consciousness, I can't help it.
Goli: I actually had a very recent experience with that too. I don't know why people think it's so bad, I don't feel that way and I am very intentional about who I follow and kind of curated. So if I know something intentionally makes me feel bad, I definitely unfollow. I have a lot of positive people. I have a lot of people in this space of self-help, which is what I'm doing. I was thinking, well, I don't feel like that. And I remember just taking stock for a couple of days. Every time I would be on Instagram for way longer than I should have and I would get off and I would just have this heavy feeling and I didn't even know what it was about. I just felt bad and I was like, I don't know. It is regardless. Even though they're saying happy things, it's comparing. It just makes me think that their life is together even though all of it's a facade but I was like wow. It just really is this voyeuristic thing that makes you feel bad after a while and so you've got to really be conscious of that.
Gemma: Yeah. I just got back from a two week holiday with my family and I deleted Instagram off my phone during that time. And I can't tell you how much lighter I felt like, but I fall into bad habits around of looking at [Instagram] or right before bed I get my phone to put it on do not disturb and go stick it on the charger and the minute I pick it up to go put that on, do not disturb... I cannot help myself from clicking the Instagram button and then starting to watch stories and then 25 minutes go by and I'm like, Oh my gosh. I wanted to go to bed early and now what's happened? Literally it gives me anxiety in my chest. Even if it's to your point, like these lovely people that I think are amazing humans and, you know, yeah, it's all positive stuff and it's not like I'm actively feeling insecure or jealous. Something happens and I get some anxiety around it and I don't know what it is. But anyway, you have to watch that in and of yourself.
Goli: Totally. And that leads me actually to my next question though, cause you were talking about how a lot of this online digital product business is basically a personal brand. And I know a lot of people have a lot of hangups with that because especially when you've just been in the kind of the traditional world. I think for people from my generation and on social media is not a natural thing. And I remember before I started this podcast, I never, I mean I would post a picture of my kids maybe twice a year and that was it. That was what my Instagram was and forget about stories and stuff. I hated pictures of myself. I never wanted to be on camera. And that was a really big block for me. And I think that is what stops a lot of people cause they don't want to show up like that. They cannot figure out how to have this business. While trying to hide… You can't and so how do you get over that?
Gemma: I think there are a few things we can talk about. So the first thing is that yes you are going to need to get visible in order to grow your business. You can't just hide under the covers and assume that people are going to hand you money for something if you're not getting visible about what it is that the products and services that you're putting out into the world, you do need to get visible whether or not you put it under your own name like you could have a company name that's not your name, that's okay, but you're going to need to be the face of your company regardless to the point about the tools that you use I. E. social media or whatever it might be. That's up to you. If you're not comfortable with Instagram necessarily if that's the one that's really making you feel hung up.
If you would rather build your business and use Facebook as the tool to connect with your audience, then do that. If you would rather have YouTube be the way in which you connect and deliver your content, do that choose the thing that feels the best for you. And I would say that any of my students will tell you that I always talk about an email list and that is definitely going to be, if you're wanting to build a digital product-based business, you need to have an email list and your revenue is going to correlate directly with the size and engagement level of your email list. It's just that's just how it is and but you could build an email list. You don't need Instagram to build an email list for instance. So you can write incredible blog posts. Maybe you're using Pinterest and SEO to drive traffic to those blog posts because you're more in tune with being a writer.
And then you connect at that deep level with your subscribers on your email list. And that's where you're visible. You're visible in your emails, your weekly emails to your people where you're telling stories and adding value and teaching and doing all of those things. I really hate it when we see so many ads or gurus out there telling us that there's like one way of doing something that it has to be on Instagram or you have to have a YouTube channel or you have to do X, Y or Zed and that's just not the case. You can use the tools - It doesn't really matter. It's just about growing an audience and connecting with them and the tool you use is up to you. Does that make sense?
Goli: Yeah, absolutely. That makes a lot of sense. And I do think it's um, while I get it, cause I went through it and I think that you can tailor it however you want and there are tons of people that maybe use Instagram and then don't show up all the time on video, maybe use pictures and figure out ways to make it work. A lot of that is just obviously insecurity and it's working on that. It's working on the self-confidence of the fact that you are allowed to put your voice out there and have it. You know, I think we just have to really work past the barriers of taking up space and being visible and being okay with that. And I know for some people, they equate it to, Oh I'm an introvert. And I don't think it has anything to do cause I was an extrovert and I hated the same thing. It's just a matter of not telling yourself that's what it is. Cause I think a lot of times people think, I can't do it because I don't like this. No, it's because you have insecurities and you need to work on insecurities.
Gemma: Yeah. I mean, I'm an introvert. I'm an int J on the Myers Briggs and sure might've had the same insecurities in terms of showing up live or, but it's like a muscle and the more you do it, the stronger it becomes and it just becomes easier over time. And those things fall away. And I think that we talked about this earlier, but everything with entrepreneurship, no matter what route you decide to take, whether that's a physical product or a digital product or services or whatever it looks like there's going to be fear and discomfort and the only way you're going to grow your business is if you walk into that and just face it.
Goli: Yeah, absolutely. And so how did you, well maybe you can give us a couple of tips for people that are maybe already on this train and they want to have their digital products, and you talked about how you've kind of built this multiple six figure business without really a big social media following. And you were saying that you, you encourage collaboration and that kind of stuff more than a lot of what other people say. So what are some tips that people can use to maybe grow their income or their, their impact or some visibility through collaborations and affiliates and that kind of stuff?
Gemma: When I'm referencing using collaborations and partnerships to grow your email list. What I'm talking about are things like this getting onto podcasts, right? And getting yourself in front of other people's audiences. It could be something like, one of my favorite things that, I mean you have to already have a somewhat established business. You can't do this necessarily when you have nothing yet but you can do lead magnet swaps. So if you have some sort of free resource that leads to eventually your paid products and services. If you can connect with another business owner who has the same target audience but you guys don't have competing products. So I'll give you an example for me, I teach about how to create and sell digital products. I have a friend who teaches about Facebook ads, so we have similar audiences and that we both speak to online entrepreneurs, but we're not selling competing products.
And so one thing I did with her was she wrote to her email list one week all about me and my lead magnet and why they should go sign up for it. And I wrote to my list all about her and Hurley bang it and we did a swap, right? What an easy win-win for both parties to get yourself seen in front of their audiences. It could be like writing a guest article, it could be going in and doing a free training for somebody group, whether that's a paid group or maybe it's doing free training inside their Facebook group. So if you're really getting started in a brand new topic and a brand new niche, kind of the steps that I would take is develop the most basic website. You do not need to go spending a bunch of money on some fancy website right now and have the most basic website that actually could just be like a one-page landing page that has a little bit about who you are, the people you serve and what you do and then it's got some kind of opt-in.
Because let me tell you, you're going to, if you don't start building your email from the beginning, you're going to come back in a year or two years and say, Oh, if only, I had started building my list that you know, at the beginning of my business. So start now has some kind of amazing freebie on there, whether that's a PDF, a checklist of downloads, some kind of tool template, whatever it might be. A free video series, something like that. Start getting yourself in front of your target audience. And so yeah, that might be going onto Facebook or find five or 10 groups of free Facebook groups that have your target audience in them. Reach out to the owner of that Facebook group and say, you would love to do a free, like really valuable 20 or 30 minute training for their group pitch-free or not pitching paid products.
At the end of it, you're just wanting to come on and offer value. That's amazing. And maybe not all 10 are going to say yes, but maybe you're going to get, they get a yes from five of them, right? And then you're getting yourself in front of those audiences and put the, you know, have your lead magnet link or your landing page link right there so that the people who want to learn more from you go and opt into your email list and then you're going to nurture those subscribers. Even if you just started with 10 20 subscribers, you're going to start sending out weekly email and nurturing those people and just allow it over time to snowball and snowball. And you don't need some giant email list in order to prelaunch your very first product. If you hit a hundred subscribers, 200 subscribers pre-launch, a product, right? Put something out there and see what the response is like. And this is something I always like to talk about is don't go putting the cart before the horse. Don't go create some eight module, super lengthy course if you don't know that people are going to buy it. And so this is why it's so important to just start building that interest list and pre-launching meaning you've put together the idea of what your offer is going to be, but you actually get people to buy it before you go and create it.
Goli: I love that. I think that's incredible advice and I agree that definitely people think that they have to start, they're building the audience by themselves and I see so many people spending so much time on Instagram trying to find one follower after another. And I always say it's so much easier to just get in front of other people's audiences and if you can provide value and you can teach and you can do, it's a much quicker way and smarter way to start building your audience.
Gemma: Absolutely. The people that you see who seem to show up out of nowhere and they catapult really fast. It's on the tails of other people's audiences.
Goli: Yeah, absolutely. And when you start doing this, you start seeing the people, especially the people that are very good at doing this, and I'm very successful when they have a launch or whatever, you just start seeing them popping up on every person's podcast, blog, YouTube show, you know, they know that that’s the new way of PR instead of trying to get on channel four or you're trying to get on every other person's platform so that you can get in front of their audience.
Goli: Awesome. Well Gemma, how can people find you if they want to work with you or learn more about the things that you provide?
Gemma: My website is gemmabonhamcarter.com so you can get all the scoop there if you want to work with me in any capacity. It's all on there, but also follow me on Instagram. It's @gemmabonhamcarter come say hi, send me a DM. I love chatting in the DMS. So definitely connect that way. And then I think what might be helpful for your audience is I have a free list building guide. So if you're sitting there thinking, Ooh, I need to build my email list, I don't quite know how to do it. I have this guide where I asked 20 of the biggest online, digital marketing experts, you're going to get the list, you're gonna be like, Whoa. Because it's like an incredible group of folks who gave their, I asked them all what was their number one strategy for building their email list and literally all 20 of them came back with different answers and I put it into this guide. I'll drop the link for that so you can include it in the show notes. If they're interested in that.
Goli: I'll definitely do that. I'm going to go sign up for that myself. I need to know what those are. Do you have any parting words for people that are on the fence and don't know how to or just kind of scared to start?
Gemma: Totally. I would say that fear is normal and uncertainty is normal and that I would be, everybody has felt that way. Even the people who seem to be insanely successful, who you look up to felt that way too. We all started from zero. Everybody does. Just to try and put that fear aside and then just to really just go for it and know that there's really, you have nothing to lose, right? You're not to your point at the beginning of the episode, like you're not having to go and find investors and put in capital and this is one of the most, it's the cheapest way to start a business. You truly have nothing to lose, but you have so much incredible opportunity right in front of you and so much to gain and you may discover that you can build a dream business to support your dream life and it's not that hard to do.
Goli: I love that and with that, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and time with us. This has been wonderful.
Gemma: I loved being on the show. Thank you so much for having me.
Goli: How amazing is Gemma, I love her and I hope you liked this episode. Here are my three takeaways. Obviously, the first one is that you should think about an online business. I know for a lot of you, this may be a new world and you don't really know much about it. I encourage you to take some time and really start researching and looking at what people are doing online. It's mind-blowing. I have tried to highlight some people on this show, but seeing the businesses that people can create from their homes by themselves, without any capital is remarkable. And it is a really good Avenue if you find something that calls to you. So think about it [inaudible] you don't need a big audience to create that business. So we talked a lot about how to collaborate and use other people's audiences and the fact that you can build a business with a small handful of fans. And so once you can figure out how to solve a problem for them, it becomes a lot more doable to create a viable business. And three, fear is normal. Everybody feels it. Everybody that started in any of these spaces, whether it's for that business part or personal branding part, it's normal, but it shouldn't be the thing that stops you. So understand that underlying that fear is just limiting beliefs and you can work on that and be able to push through it and it is so on the other side. I hope you guys liked this episode. If you did, reach out to Gemma and let her know and I will be back next week with another one. Thank you so much for listening. I can't tell you how much it means to me. If you liked the podcast, please rate and review us on iTunes. It'll help other people find the show. If you want to connect or reach out, follow along on Instagram and Facebook at lessons from a quitter and on Twitter at quitter podcast. I would love to hear from you guys and I'll see you on the next episode.