If you want to know how to grow a seven-figure business teaching something you know, this is the episode for you!
Welcome to The Blogger Genius Podcast brought to you by MiloTree. Here’s your host, Jillian Leslie.
Jillian Leslie 0:11
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Now for today’s episode, I am interviewing Luisa Zhou. I think you’re going to really like this episode because Luisa has built a seven-figure business by creating a course to help people quit their nine to five jobs.
Now you go, “Oh, how did you do this?” Well, she did it with a lot of failures. We talked about that. We talked about how it took her a really long time to figure out what she was going to offer. And, you know, the stumbles along the way.
And then, what she does is she breaks down how she went about building this business. What I love about it is at the beginning, it was all down and dirty. She did not spend a lot of time making things pretty.
She got in front of her customers and figured out exactly how to serve them. So without further ado, here is my interview with Luisa Zhou.
Luisa, welcome to the show. I’m super psyched for you to be here.
Luisa Zhou 2:11
Thank you so much for having me here.
Jillian Leslie 2:13
The cool thing about what you did was you left your nine to five, and then you created a business. And then, you started teaching other people how to leave their nine to five and start businesses.
Luisa Zhou 2:26
Yes. People are asking me, which is really cool, because I know I have this misconception that to build a business you needed a crazy idea.
But one of my first online businesses, I just went into Facebook groups before asking me about ads, which was what I did at the time in my job. I said, “Hey, I can help you with that.”
Jillian Leslie 2:50
Wait. Let’s back up. So, okay. You were working at a nine to five job. What was that job?
Luisa Zhou 2:55
Jillian Leslie 2:57
Oh, okay. So then you said, “Hey, I’m doing this for somebody else. I could go help other people build digital ad campaigns.”
Luisa Zhou 3:06
Exactly. That was it. It wasn’t like a new idea or anything.
Jillian Leslie 3:11
Okay. And so, you started collecting clients. And then what?
Luisa Zhou 3:17
Yeah. So I just kept on keeping to the basics doing what worked. I was working with a handful of clients. I was charging about $5,000 for six months to work with me.
The way I came up with that price was just figuring out, “All right. How many hours do I think I’m going to work with a client? What is my hourly salary rate? All right. I’ll just charge that starting out.”
Jillian Leslie 3:39
What was your hourly salary rate when you started? What did you put in that?
Luisa Zhou 3:43
Yeah. I don’t remember the exact number, to be honest. I think it was maybe around 50 or 60, I believe.
Jillian Leslie 3:50
Okay. And so, these early clients had to take a leap of faith, right, because you didn’t have testimonials or anything like that.
Luisa Zhou 4:00
Jillian Leslie 4:01
How did you find these clients?
Luisa Zhou 4:02
Yes, exactly. Here’s the thing. It was a leap of faith but in some ways, it also wasn’t. I was talking a second ago about not looking for a business idea and basically just being like, “What problems can I solve that other people are willing to pay for?”
And so, when I started the digital advertising consulting business, I wasn’t thinking. Okay. I’m just going to do this. I know this is going to be a business. All I was thinking was, “What can I possibly have to offer?”
So, I went into a Facebook group, started hanging out there. I saw people ask questions about ads. I reached out to one woman who was asking. I said to her, “Hey, this is what I do in my job. My employer is a really big tech firm. I manage this.”
“My clients are like BMW, Mercedes, I know what I’m talking about. All I would love to ask you for is a few minutes of your time to do some market research. And in return, I will answer all of your questions about ads.
And so, we did that. Had a really great call. And then afterward, she sent me follow up emails asking me more questions. Again, at this time, I wasn’t trying to sell anything.
And so, I wasn’t getting in my head about, “Oh, I need to try and make this a client.” I just thought, “Oh, amazing. Someone actually cares about what I have to say about boring stuff that nobody would care about.”
And so basically, after about two weeks of my answering her questions, she actually emailed me one day and said, “Hey, you’ve given me so much value for free. I would love to hire you.”
I actually had to say to her, “Hey, hold on. Give me a week to figure out what I can sell, what would be a fair price to both of us. Let’s talk in a week.” And so, we did.
Even though I just completely botched up the sales conversation because I didn’t know how to do it, because I had basically just given her so much help already for free in those two weeks, she came onto the call prepared to say yes.
Jillian Leslie 5:59
That is great. What I love about that is even before she hired you, one that was not your intention, but that you were trying to do market research, as you say, and really see what are people’s needs. So even though you were giving, you are also getting in the process, because you were learning.
Luisa Zhou 6:18
So much. I mean yeah. That information that I learned, to be honest, was priceless.
Jillian Leslie 6:24
Absolutely. I say this all the time, which is, even though we live in this digital world if you can get on the phone with somebody and pick their brain and see what they’re struggling with, and not only that but listen to the words that they’re using.
Because if you can mirror that back to them, they feel heard and seen and are therefore more apt to hire you. I always say this if you want to work with brands, and you’re kind of going back and forth with email to say, “Hey, could we get on a call?”
Because I have been able to close so many opportunities just by talking about it. That there’s a real human being on the other end.
Luisa Zhou 7:07
Exactly. I mean everyone nowadays is so much about automation and scaling. Absolutely, all of that is great, but nothing replaces the human to human interaction.
Jillian Leslie 7:19
Absolutely. We talked for maybe, what, 10 minutes before I pressed record, and I feel like we’re best friends.
Luisa Zhou 7:28
I agree. I mean normally on podcasts I’m like, “Okay. Let’s get into the feel of it.” But I just started talking right off the bat. I was like, “Wait. What’s going on?” It’s just because we had that conversation, and I feel really awesome.
Jillian Leslie 7:41
And it wasn’t anything about work. It’s just a personal touch. It was about Mandarin.
Luisa Zhou 7:48
Yeah, that’s right.
Jillian Leslie 7:50
So, I agree. It’s just amazing how you can learn and how you can connect. I think that that is something that I am continuing to recognize as the value of connection especially in the world today.
Luisa Zhou 8:04
Jillian Leslie 8:05
So, let’s fast forward. Okay. So you get her as your first client, and you don’t even know how much to charge but there’s something kind of sweet about that, you know, like, “Hey, we’ll figure this out.” And then you started getting other clients, I take it.
Luisa Zhou 8:19
I did. So here’s the thing. What I see a lot nowadays is like, “Okay. I got one client. How do I go on and start scaling and doing all of these crazy things to get to six or multiple six figures or seven or whatever?”
For me, thankfully, I didn’t let that get into my head. I mean, it didn’t even occur to me to think that and I’m grateful because I just said, “Okay. This works.” Right? Talking to people in a Facebook group worked. Let me do more of it.
I just literally made it my daily to do while I was working on my business on the side. I marked it on my calendar. And this is really tactical, my three by 15 rule.
I would mark three spaces of 15 minutes on my calendar. Maybe in the morning before I went off to work at around like 8 am. Maybe during my lunch break, and then maybe in the evening around seven or eight whenever I got home.
Fifteen minutes. During those 15 minutes, all I would do, I would go into a Facebook group, maybe I would share some value like, “Oh, hey, here’s a great tip for running great ads.” Or I would just look up people’s questions about ads and answer them. And that’s all I would do during that time.
Jillian Leslie 9:33
How long did you do this for?
Luisa Zhou 9:35
I did this consistently. I literally marked it on my calendar every day during the week for at least about one and a half to two months. At least. After that, I was still consistent.
Maybe I wasn’t like doing it three times every single day. But in the beginning, I mean it wasn’t like I had that much else to do. That was going to help me build my business anyways.
Jillian Leslie 9:56
When you were doing this, were you looking for clients? Were you looking to hear what people were talking about? What were you looking for?
Luisa Zhou 10:04
Both. So, both. In the beginning, it was just, “Okay. Confirm if this was even something people cared about.” After I got that first client, I was still thinking, “Okay. Let me just share content. Let me see what connects with people, which tips people care about.”
“Let me work on my own ability to write in a way that interests people.” And so, that was my primary focus. In the back of my mind I was like, “Oh, I got this client. You know what? I bet this is going to lead to more clients.”
And so, I started testing. Let me just, again, making it super tactical. Let’s say I would show up every day in a certain group. I would not do any sort of promotion or anything, except maybe once a week. That would be it. I would do one post.
And also it would even be a free offer where I would say, “Hey, I’m going to do a free 30-minute call with you. No strings attached. It’s a hundred percent free. I’m going to give you amazing value.”
I’m going to help you identify the number one issue going on with your marketing campaign, for example. Then, you’re going to walk away with A, B, and C.
Then, I would say, “Hey, if it feels like a good fit and you want to learn more about how you can work with me further, I will share that. If you don’t, that’s fine. You’re going to walk away with this.”
Jillian Leslie 11:22
Okay. So, wait. So you would identify somebody in a Facebook group who’s having difficulty or struggling, and you would interact with them and say, “Hey, here’s an idea. Maybe you should think about this.” And then would you say, message me? How would you be having this conversation?
Luisa Zhou 11:37
Yeah. I would let it be supernatural. I mean I definitely don’t recommend, you know, just randomly messaging someone and starting that conversation that way, but I would have a conversation in the post if they were responding.
And then at some point, if we had like maybe two or three back and forth and it felt like we were having a really great conversation, I would say, “Hey, I’m happy to talk more about this. Is it okay if I message you?” So I would ask for that permission. Yes.
Jillian Leslie 12:05
And again, make that person feel safe.
Luisa Zhou 12:07
Jillian Leslie 12:08
Cool. Okay. So then, how many clients did you have? When did you then leave your job to do this full time? If you can remember all these questions, when did you say, “Wait a second. I could teach people how to leave their jobs and start their own businesses.”
Luisa Zhou 12:34
Yeah. Okay. Let me see if I remember the question. To provide a little bit of background information before I go into this, it’s really important to know that before I started my digital advertising business, I had been trying to build my own online business for about two to three years.
And so, I had tested other things. I had done Microsoft Excel coaching. I had done career coaching. Again just things that I had experience in and thought people would want to get help with.
And so, all of that led up to me making a lot of mistakes beforehand and figuring it out and being in a position where once I got this idea, this digital advertising consulting business idea, I was ready to take action and actually just make it work.
Jillian Leslie 13:24
Sorry, I have to stop you and now you’re going to forget the questions. But, what were the mistakes you made?
Luisa Zhou 13:30
So many. I mentioned for digital advertising consulting, you know, I started out doing market research. I completely skipped that for Microsoft Excel.
So, where I was thinking, “Hey, I see these people making six, seven figures doing Microsoft Excel coaching. You know what? I am really good at this. I do this a lot in my job. I’m just going to talk about smart shortcuts and people are just going to naturally want to buy from me.”
No. I had no idea who my audience was, what they cared about, and just no clue what was going on. And so, I would write articles, I would try and pitch guest posts to big publications that might be interested in this. I had no clue who I was talking to. So none of my content really landed.
Jillian Leslie 14:13
Okay. Give me one more big mistake.
Luisa Zhou 14:15
Yeah. So another really big mistake is when I started doing career coaching, I thought, “Okay. I’m going to set up a really gorgeous website, and then people are gonna find me, right.”
So I spent a lot of time on a website. Nobody found me because there are, I don’t even know, millions, billions of websites all over the internet, and you don’t just randomly get traffic out of nowhere.
What I learned from that, I spent months working on that website and trying to make it really good but how I got my first client was I thought, “Okay. Let me try something different.
There were people who were asking me at that time how I’ve done certain things in my career. Like you know, get a certain salary, get a certain promotion, role, whatever.
I went back to them and said, “Hey, you know, I know what I’m talking about. I’ve helped you before. We’ve talked about this a lot. Would you be interested in working with me in a coaching relationship to help you specifically hit these goals that you’ve shared with me before you really want to hit?”
Jillian Leslie 15:13
Luisa Zhou 15:14
And that’s how I got my first client that way.
Jillian Leslie 15:16
Got it. So again, it’s that personal connection.
Luisa Zhou 15:20
I mean, yeah. There’s a big theme here, and it’s so true.
Jillian Leslie 15:23
Okay. All right. And what I like about what you’re saying is like you could tell that you have this entrepreneurial spirit. And that even though things weren’t necessarily clicking, you kept going.
Luisa Zhou 15:41
Yes. Really. And this is so important to note. Let me answer one of your questions, which is, how long was I doing this for my digital advertising consulting. When I first got my first client, to when I left my job, it happened really quickly. I made over six figures in sales in about four months.
Jillian Leslie 16:03
Luisa Zhou 16:04
And that only happened because of the failures and lessons and everything I’d gone through over the previous three years. So it was like three years and four months really.
Jillian Leslie 16:15
Okay. I like that again because one thing I want to talk about is this idea that all you’re going to do is you’re going to make a course and you’re going to launch it and you’re going to make seven figures.
I always say do not believe this. There is blood, sweat, and tears behind. Even if that person did launch a course magically and made seven figures, you do not know the backstory.
Luisa Zhou 16:40
Exactly. And you know what, you can get to that sure, but don’t assume it was just. I mean nobody has, “Oh, I just, you know, started out. Did this. It was so easy. Made a gazillion dollars.”
There’s always more time, more work, more pain, and rejection. It’s impossible to share unless you’ve gone through it, you know?
Jillian Leslie 17:01
Absolutely. I think that too. My audience has a lot of women. I do think that we don’t necessarily take those rejections in stride. And we get derailed. It didn’t work. It’s me. It’s all my fault. I did something wrong.
I really admire you for going, “Well, this didn’t work. I spent a ton of money on a website and a bunch of months building it.” And you know, it’s so pretty and nobody showed up. And that you said, “Okay, that didn’t work. I’m going to go a different way.”
Luisa Zhou 17:39
Yes. And yeah, I’m really glad we’re talking about this because I have to say I didn’t start out with any advantages that anyone else doesn’t have. In fact, I’m a huge introvert. So when I started, it was the hardest thing in the world for me to post on social media or talk to people I didn’t know.
I will say I think the biggest advantage I had was the way I thought about failure and rejection. Because of my background, I actually studied engineering in college. My first job was as an engineer for the space station.
That really taught me to really be analytical and logical about the way you think about things. And so, I remember each time I got a rejection. Hey, by the way, it hurt. Right? I’m human.
Sometimes I would take some weeks or months off, and be like, “I don’t know if this is possible.” But eventually, my engineering training would kick in and I would sit down and think, “Okay. What could I have improved? What caused this?”
All right. How can I tweak this next time and really just analyzing all the different variables so that as much as I humanly could remove the emotion and the rejection from each failure and learn from it and use it to continue to improve?
Jillian Leslie 18:52
Right. I agree. I like that you said, yes, you felt it. It wasn’t like you’re super, you’re superhuman, but that you were able to put them in perspective and keep your eye on the prize.
Luisa Zhou 19:07
Jillian Leslie 19:09
Okay. So you now have built this business. Again, I like that three years and four months. Even though it took four months to scale your ad business. And then you said, “Okay. I’m ready to leave my job. I’m ready to do this full time.”
Luisa Zhou 19:23
Yes, I did.
Jillian Leslie 19:24
And then you left your job. And then you started doing this full time. And then how did you get this idea to say, “Wait a second. I could do this. I could teach other people how to do this.”
Luisa Zhou 19:35
So again, it wasn’t so much like I came up with it, as it was that people started asking me. I mean I’m sure it had been in the back of my head because of all the things I had to go through and try.
There wasn’t one comprehensive course or coach or mentor who had gone through it the way I had had to build their business while in a job and replace a good income. I thought, “I know this thing like the back of my hand.”
“Look, when I figured this out, I’m going to share it because nobody needs to go through all of the things I went through.” And then, what naturally happened was people started asking me, “Hey, how do you do it?”
I got messages and just emails about people asking me. I thought, “Oh hey, well, there’s interest right now. Why don’t I take on some private clients and see where this goes?” And that’s how it started.
So it wasn’t like a clear cut, hey, one day I decided, “Okay, I’m doing this.” It was just people started asking me once again, and I said, “Why not?”
Jillian Leslie 20:29
What I’d say is to definitely in your business, have a plan and hold it really lightly.
Luisa Zhou 20:38
I love that.
Jillian Leslie 20:40
Because if you hold it tight, you potentially miss those opportunities that potentially would derail you from your vision of what the future is going to look like. But those opportunities could ultimately be more lucrative or more satisfying but you got to be open.
So it’s this balance between chasing the shiny new thing and to be able to say, “Nope. I’m not going to chase that because I know where I want to go.” But also then recognize that that might not be the direction you’re going to go.
Luisa Zhou 21:23
Yes, exactly. Because you can’t tell the future. You can set your best efforts path and then do your best to follow it. And then also, there could be even greater, better opportunities that come along that you need to be flexible to be prepared for.
Jillian Leslie 21:39
And especially when people start asking you questions.
Luisa Zhou 21:44
Jillian Leslie 21:45
Luisa Zhou 21:47
That’s really how you know. I mean this happened by accident but it taught me, “Look, the best business product offers, ideas, they come from not me. Like, “Oh, what do I want to do?” Although of course, it should be something you enjoy, right, but from what people are asking you for?
Jillian Leslie 22:05
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Okay. So then, people are coming up to you or people are messaging you and saying, “How do you do this? How do you leave your nine to five?” And you thought, “Ha! I’m going to take on some clients and help them.”
Luisa Zhou 24:20
Jillian Leslie 24:21
And then what?
Luisa Zhou 24:22
So you know how each time you do something that you’ve done before, you just get faster and faster at it, right? And so, like I shared earlier, three years lead into four months, and then this time, it just continued happening faster because I knew the basics.
And so, I got some clients. I thought you know what, I’ve worked with a good number of clients, and I’m ready to create a small group program. So I created my first group program.
Jillian Leslie 24:51
What does that mean a group program?
Luisa Zhou 24:53
Yeah. So it’s a hybrid of a course and a coaching program. And so, that is you have course content but really it’s not just a self-study course. It’s you also showing up answering questions about the content, doing coaching calls, things like that.
Jillian Leslie 25:09
When you first started, how many people did you have?
Luisa Zhou 25:12
In my first program?
Jillian Leslie 25:14
Luisa Zhou 25:15
Yeah. I ended up making 18 sales, which by the way was mind-blowing to me.
Jillian Leslie 25:20
So you had your first cohort of 18 people.
Luisa Zhou 25:24
Jillian Leslie 25:25
What did it look like in the beginning?
Luisa Zhou 25:29
Think about something that’s perfect. The perfect course and setup. And then, mine was the exact opposite of that.
Jillian Leslie 25:35
So the hot net. You’re making up as you went along.
Luisa Zhou 25:38
Exactly. I mean it really actually worked. Again, just like things happened by accident the way they’re supposed to. It really actually worked out because I didn’t create the course in advance.
I knew the content that was in my head. I knew what I was going to say, but I hadn’t created the content. And so, what that allowed me to do was each week, I would create the content as we went, and then I would see what people’s questions were, what questions they had about what was coming up.
And then, I would fold that into the content as I was creating it so that what happened was people were like, “Oh my gosh, you read my mind. You answered my questions. How did you know this and that?”
I mean it was because they had basically told me. I had been able to create the first course or the best course the first time around through doing that.
Jillian Leslie 26:24
Now, was this a program where it was like this is an eight-week program, or this is indefinite?
Luisa Zhou 26:31
No. It was a seven-week program. I think it ended up being eight or nine weeks because I added on some bonus weeks just to give some people support but it was very much open and closed.
Jillian Leslie 26:42
And then, did you have a Facebook group? How did you structure it?
Luisa Zhou 26:46
I did. So the way I structured it was exactly like you said. Everyone was in a Facebook group. I didn’t have a course membership site or anything. I just uploaded the content, the audios. I use Google Docs. I didn’t even have fancy PDFs. I just uploaded it to the Facebook group each week.
Jillian Leslie 27:04
Again, what that says is, it’s not about building out the beautiful stuff.
Luisa Zhou 27:12
Exactly. Something I did that looking back made such a massive difference, I doubled down on connecting with my students in that program. So instead of saying, “Look, I need to, you know, only provide so much support.”
Or this is a group program, and they’re not paying me as much as my private coaching clients so I need to be aware of that. I didn’t think about it that way.
Instead, I thought about what do I need to do to help people get the best results possible. Independent of what that’s going to mean for me work-wise.
And so, what ended up happening was I would tag or message people or email people who maybe were quiet for a few days. I would tag them to make sure, “Hey, have you seen this? You would find this super helpful. Have you done this? How are you doing?”
Sometimes when some people were struggling, I would hop on calls with them, which was definitely not part of the program but I felt like it was what they needed. And because of that, nobody cared that, “Oh, we didn’t have perfect PDFs or course membership site.”
In fact, I had such an amazing response because of the way I over-delivered and supported people in that program that we had like an over 90% success rate. I mean people did the work and then went out there and got a first paying client, which was the big delivery of the program.
Not only that. This is the cool thing. It’s just like, “Look, show me the numbers.” So what happened was the original course launched with 18 sales, the course was about $400 to $500. It brought in about 8000 in sales.
I delivered the heck out of it. After I feel, about seven or eight weeks, the people who had done the work, gotten amazing results loved it so much they asked to continue working with me in my private coaching.
And through the people in that cohort who wanted to continue working with me, that added in an additional $20,000 in sales. It’s just like people put their money where their mouth is, right.
That’s how you know. More than me just saying, “Oh, it was so good that people loved it.” Again, they didn’t care that it wasn’t a fancy PDF or course site. They love what they got out of it, and they wanted more.
Jillian Leslie 29:33
I love that. Again, especially this idea that you didn’t have your teachable course already figured out, and you didn’t hire a designer to make your PDFs beautiful, and that it was kind of down and dirty.
Luisa Zhou 29:47
Exactly. Because look, at the end of the day, I mean all of that is nice and at a certain point in your business, sure you should have that. However, what people really care about is not what we think as course creators they care about.
It’s more for us to feel good about, “Oh, I have this awesome beautiful course. It’s perfect.” Right? It’s us. But people care about the value, the content, the support they’re going to get way more than how perfect something is.
Jillian Leslie 30:15
Right. And then, if in fact you’ve spent all this time, blood, sweat, and tears building out a beautiful course and nobody shows up, it goes back to that feeling of being demoralized.
I am such a big believer in just being scrappy, just good enough. And that hopefully, if you have your heart in it, you make up the difference.
Luisa Zhou 30:41
Jillian Leslie 30:43
Okay. So now, your first cohort has gone through your program. They’ve had tremendous success. Some of these people have turned into one on one clients. And then you think to yourself, “I could build this out and teach more people, scale it.” How did you go about that?
Luisa Zhou 31:03
Yeah. So I took that first program and I beefed it up a lot. I added a ton more content, turned it into a much larger six-month group program. And then what I did was I used the same launch process I had used to sell out my first program.
At that point, I knew my numbers, I knew how many people I bring in into my launch. I’ll convert X percent. And so, I scaled it. I went bigger. I brought in more people. I increased the price of my program. I had a six-figure launch.
Jillian Leslie 31:47
Again, your new Facebook ads. So, how did you bring people in? How did you figure out, “Okay. This is my conversion rate and this is how many people I need to come to my website or whatever.” How did you cultivate those sales?
Luisa Zhou 32:01
Yes. Okay. Again, all of this happened a little bit by accident where I just stumbled upon the launch strategy for courses that I have used over the last four to five years and now teach my own students.
What it was, was you know, there’s the traditional do-an-email series or do-a-video series or webinar series. For me, all of those just felt really standoffish and required a degree of investment to get videos and things that I didn’t feel were necessary for me where I was at the time.
I mean think about it for my first course I wasn’t going to spend a few thousand on a series of videos when I didn’t even know if I would make any sales. And so, what I did, this was around the time when Periscope was super new and the hot thing and everyone was loving it.
I’ve been doing Periscope and getting private coaching clients through that. People who would see me on Periscope and say, “Hey, I connected with what you said. I love your energy. I want to hire you.”
So I thought, “You know what? This is working well for me. Why don’t I do more of this to sell my program?” And so what I did was I did a series of five Periscope videos over about five to seven days. I basically positioned it as a challenge.
And this was again quite a few years ago before challenges where you know, the rage. And so, I said, “Okay. Every day, I’m going to give you one prompt for you to do.” And then, it’s going to be easy. You’re going to love it.”
And then, I’m going to talk more about it on my live stream on Periscope. I’m going to answer your questions. I’m going to talk to you personally. Outside of that being this Facebook group also interacting or answering any other questions you have.
And this worked so well. My first time around, it drove 18 sales that I thought, “Okay. I know if I have this many people I’m going to convert.”
So really just like creating this environment that had so much communication between me and everyone. And so, I would do that, I would talk about my program during those days leading up to a challenging finale, which was basically a webinar that wrapped up everything we talked about in the challenge. Summarized it and then open enrollment for my program.
I don’t remember the exact number but it was a ridiculously high conversion rate because of how much personal interaction I had with people where people were saying, “Hey, I’ve never had this before, where someone selling a course is actually talking to me right now versus making me watch their video series or talk to their customer support.”
And so, I did that. I believe I had like a… Maybe… Okay, this is gonna be a really wide range. Five to 10% conversion rate. Yeah, it was really high. Yes, it was. It was so crazy. Looking back, I didn’t know how good it was back then but I did that.
And so I said, “Okay. If I have this conversion rate…” I just like to aim for nice numbers really. It sounds trivial but in my mind, it’s like, “Okay. It just works out.” So, had to close to 10k first launch. All right, why don’t I aim for 100k?
And so I said, all right, if I get this many people, and I believe it was like maybe 2000 or so. I had reverse-engineered based on my existing audience at the time and how many new people I needed to get through my challenge and that conversion rate that I would need to make about 30 sales to get 100k launch for my six-month program because the price point was about $3,000.
And so, what I did was I took the same challenge. I made it even better like added, made it longer, did my live streams even better, showed up even more in the Facebook group.
I drove the people I needed into my challenge through Facebook ads to sign up so that I could hit my numbers and have my launch. Basically, that’s exactly what happened.
Jillian Leslie 36:01
That’s a great story. That’s a great story. How many years ago was this?
Luisa Zhou 36:05
I think this was about four to five years ago.
Jillian Leslie 36:07
Okay. And since then, you have now continued to fine-tune it, continued to build it, continued to build out your systems and that kind of thing.
Luisa Zhou 36:15
Exactly. I remember when I had my first really big launch. Again, using the same process. My next launch after that, six-figure launch, I did about $800,000 in sales. So a big jump. I remember at the time, a mentor said to me, “Hey, this is amazing. It’s hard to do this.”
However, you know, what’s even harder is being able to do it consistently year after year. And so, I really took that to heart and thought, “Okay. So I need to figure out how to make this really sustainable and consistent and systematized.”
And so like you said, I continue to improve it, make my content better. I myself. I mean just through coaching more and more students and people became a better coach. I got more experience. I work with people in more industries so I had more and more and more to share with my students.
And so, through doing that, every year since then using the same core strategy over the last four to five years, we’ve consistently done one launch a year that has driven around that amount without any affiliates. Just my audience, running paid advertising, and me.
Jillian Leslie 37:24
Wow. Okay. Jumping back. Did you take courses?
Luisa Zhou 37:34
Yes. Remember, the three to four years, two to three, three to four. It was just a good amount of time that I spent testing and feeling everything. I feel like I took so many courses. And then you know, once I started seeing some traction, I hired coaches as well.
I was all in. I was like, I don’t care what I need to learn. If I need to learn how to do copywriting, how to do sales calls, I’m going to learn it. So I took everything under the sun.
Jillian Leslie 38:05
And was that helpful?
Luisa Zhou 38:10
I would say yes and no. Yes in that bit by bit I pieced together everything I needed. And so, I’m really grateful for every single course because it gave me some idea or aha of what I needed.
So like, that realization alone was worth the investment in the course. And so, each course had different aha that I took from it. Same thing for the different coaches and mentors I worked with.
For example, even the first course I ever took, while I didn’t end up using the strategies it recommended, I’m grateful to it because it helped me realize, “Oh, this is something that you can do.” You can build a business and make an income outside of working nine to five.
I’m incredibly grateful for every single investment I made. The reason why I kind of say no is because it was kind of heartbreaking for me to invest in course and coach after coach and basically just get one piece of the puzzle.
To basically invest in a coach who could help me like work on my sales calls, that would be great. But then, what about everything else with building a business? You don’t even know what you don’t know.
I remember like one of the first courses I invested in, it taught you how to do copywriting and it claimed to be all comprehensive. But then I realized, wait, I didn’t even realize until later on that I needed to do sales calls. And then I had to figure out okay, how do you do a sales call.
And so, it was just like piecing it together. I started out not even knowing what I didn’t know. And so, that’s part of what took so long and was a part of the ups and downs of the journey.
But again, each time I made investment I thought, “Okay. What is the big thing, one thing I’m going to get away from this that is going to make it worth the investment?”
Jillian Leslie 40:02
Got it. You say that you recommend people focus on one product?
Luisa Zhou 40:09
Jillian Leslie 40:09
What do you mean by that?
Luisa Zhou 40:12
Yeah. So something I see a lot with the people I work with, the audience I work with is the, you know, maybe they’ve seen other people who are more established to it where they want to sell everything under the sun.
“Okay. I want to have my coaching offer. I want to have a cheaper coaching offer. I want to have a three, a six month, a 12 month. I want to have this small course. I want to have a signature course.”
What a lot of people don’t realize is the work that goes into not only creating each of these offers but also understanding how to market and sell to them. Not to mention building the brand recognition for the product, and the testimonials.
Each time you sell something new, you have to go through that entire process over and over again. Especially when you’re starting out, especially if you’re using a coaching type business model, which is what I recommend to go from employee to entrepreneur, where you’re selling a package for basically over $1,000, whatever that looks like, although there’s a wide range.
To make like $5,000 a month, you need to make five sales, right? To make X amount, you need to make x sales. And so, it really becomes one focus. Hey, focus on selling this product, the only thing you have to do because once you’ve created it and it worked with your first few clients is continue finding or building your audience of people who would be a good fit for that product.
So that what happens is instead of having to work on product development, operations, customer support, new systems, acquisition, marketing, sales, all of those things that are included in selling each product, you get to nail one piece down.
You get to focus on growing your audience, growing traffic, and driving those sales so that you’re able to get faster to your end goal of getting to a certain revenue where you can leave your job.
And then after that, after you’ve used that time also to build your own street cred online, where you’ve used that to learn more about marketing, sales, copywriting, all the things that you need to, great, down the road have fun.
Build new products but don’t do it too early just because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do or that’s how you make more revenue.
Jillian Leslie 42:22
I get that. I totally get that. And I agree with that, which is you’re learning and so you can spend that learning, fine-tuning what’s already working, or go off and build something new that’s been tested.
Luisa Zhou 42:36
Jillian Leslie 42:38
So I couldn’t agree with that strategy more. Okay. So now, as you built out your business, what does your team look like today, when before you were doing everything?
Luisa Zhou 42:51
Yes. I did everything for quite a while. But at this point, thankfully, that’s not the case. And so even to this day, I don’t have any full-time employees except for myself. I do have contractors who work decent hours but I’ve been very careful to build my business in this way.
I have to give credit to Gino Wickman’s book Traction. When I read this a few years ago, it kind of gave me an aha for how to organize a business like this, where you’re not looking to build a big corporation.
You’re looking to do great stuff, but also create more flexibility and freedom in your own life. He recommends having a separate accountability chart basically, where it’s very clear what each person is doing and what they themselves are responsible for.
Instead of thinking about it as an org chart, this person is reporting to that person. And so, I use that. I like what he said and organized my business around the functions.
We’ve got marketing. Under marketing, I’ve got organic content creation, social media management, paid acquisition. I put design under marketing as well. And each of these contractors, they know exactly what it is they need to do.
They operate on their own without needing to depend or report to anybody. We have very clear metrics for what needs to be done, what are the metrics for success, what are not good metrics, and really keep it like that. So I have that.
I also have a sales function, which at this point is just one or two salespeople who do sales calls for my higher end coaching program. I have operations in tech, which is basically any tech support and customer support. I group that into the same kind of function.
And then I have coaching. So I coach a handful of students. When I run my programs live, I bring on program coaches as well. So we have those.
And then, of course, I have the bookkeeper, accountant, finance departments. I’m sure I’m missing one or two but that’s the major segments of what my team looks like and how it runs and who’s on it.
Jillian Leslie 45:23
Got it. And I take it, you built it organically?
Luisa Zhou 45:27
Yes, very much so.
Jillian Leslie 45:28
Cool. Okay. So if somebody wants to leave their nine to five and go on this journey, what would you tell them as a next step?
Luisa Zhou 45:40
If you’re just starting out, you want to do this. This is what I would say. Number one, figure out your offer. Right? The key here is it can’t just be any type of offer.
I mean anything is possible but if you’re looking for the most efficient, effective way to build a business that replaces your income and to do it while you’re also working a job, the best business model is to do some sort of premium coaching or consulting.
Taking your job skills, your current skills, your experiences, and turning that into a package that someone is willing to pay $1,000 or more for. The reason for that is because then you can work with a handful of clients to be able to replace your income.
Versus if you’re selling a $100 or $500 course you have to sell so many of those to be able to replace your income every single month. To first identify what that offer is. And then once you do, to be really really focused on one thing, at least in the beginning.
Going out there and connecting with potential clients. And so, that doesn’t mean spend months creating a fancy website or email funnel or running ads right off the bat if you don’t know what you’re doing.
Instead, it means figure out where your clients are hanging out online. For me, at the time it was Facebook groups. Facebook groups are still a great way to connect with potential clients. I have students use them all the time.
Or is it Instagram or LinkedIn or an industry-specific forum, whatever that looks like. Find a handful of those. Then literally mark on your calendar. Okay. The three by 15 role we talked about earlier.
Every single day for the next four to six weeks, I’m going to be in these places three times a day answering questions, sharing valuable information that my audience would be interested in and engaging with people.
Do that. Right? And of course, after I would say about maybe two or three weeks of this where people have started recognizing your name and have seen your content, you can start offering free coaching calls like what I mentioned earlier.
A free 30-minute coaching call where you share exactly what someone is going to take away from this. You tell them, “Yeah, you’re going to get it for free. It’s going to be incredibly valuable.”
At the end of it, “If you want to learn more about how I can help you further we’ll talk about it. If not, no worries. You’re going to still get something amazingly valuable.” Lead with that and use that to start connecting with even more people and start getting your offer out there.
As a side note, always benchmarks. And so, what I usually see is when you’re starting out, if you do about 10 of these free coaching calls, you can expect to get one or two clients.
That metric will improve as you get better at your skills and you become better known. But that’s a good starting benchmark. Okay. Anyways. So back to focusing on that and then consistently doing that until you’ve gotten three, four, or five clients.
Around three to five. That’s going to give you enough to have a good amount of revenue in your business that’s going to give you enough to start helping people at getting results which means you get testimonials.
You’re going to work through your coaching process even though you already know what it is you know. It’s a different learning process to figure out how to help people.
And then use that time, use the revenue you’ve made to start setting up your website, which also means because now you know how to speak to your audience, you can create a better website with better copy because you actually know what people want.
Do that. Set up a really basic email funnel that invites people to hop on a sales call with you. Add it in the content that you found through testing that people connect with. Add in the client testimonials that you’re now starting to get.
Do that. Have that system really simple setup, and then move into again, same type of thing, but more longer-term, getting in front of potential audiences. What does that look like?
Maybe sharing your story on the podcast, maybe sharing your content in other publications and writing for them, maybe doing partnerships with people who have an audience of people that would be your potential ideal clients but who don’t directly compete with what you do.
So there’s a complimentary partnership there. Doing that and driving them back to your website and this really simple email funnel that you’ve built. It sounds simple but this is basically, I just really condensed the process of what I did to cross six figures in a few months.
It’s really about doing a few things that actually matter versus trying to do everything under the sun because that doesn’t move the needle.
Jillian Leslie 50:27
And I would say that the thing that keeps coming out in what you’re saying is make real connections.
Luisa Zhou 50:37
Jillian Leslie 50:39
That you’re going to have no business with a beautiful website and no connections. But you can have a business with connections and no website.
Luisa Zhou 50:47
Exactly. And you know, something I really want to emphasize, I love that we’re talking about this is in the very beginning before I realize this, I’ve spent months hiding behind my website, writing beautiful emails.
Well, I thought they were beautiful. Looking back, they weren’t that good. But I didn’t know that at the time. And just like pouring my heart into writing content that no one ever saw because I wasn’t doing the things that mattered.
And so, it just goes back to show, look, you don’t have to be the best copywriter, marketer, salesperson. If you are leading with that value, that connection, letting your natural expertise come through, that’s going to be infinitely more powerful than pretty much anything else you can do.
Jillian Leslie 51:29
I love that. I love that. Okay. Luisa, if people want to reach out to you, connect with you, if they have questions or learn about your course, tell them how to do that. What are the best ways?
Luisa Zhou 51:45
Yes. So there are a few really great ways. The first way to get started and get some great information is this PDF I have which as a side note, it’s called Escape Velocity Blueprint. It’s just a fun throwback to my days as a space station engineer because escape velocity is the speed you need to go at to break free from Earth’s gravity.
And so, it’s a play on, “Hey, how do you build momentum to get to a certain point in your business where you can break free of the gravity of your nine to five?” So really great high-level blueprint as well as the top three mistakes to avoid when you are starting out, that I see new aspiring entrepreneurs make all the time.
And so, you can get that PDF for free at LuisaZhou.com/gifts.
Jillian Leslie 52:30
Okay, you have to spell that. Wait, you have to spell that.
Luisa Zhou 52:32
Exactly. I was gonna say my name is spelled, not how it sounds. It’s L-U-I-S-A. Z as in zebra. H-O-U dot com slash G-I-F-T, gifts. So that’s really great way. Once you sign up, you get that PDF.
You’re going to get awesome emails. You’re going to be on my email list. You’re going to be connected with me for as long as you want to be on my email list and get my awesome emails.
I mean you can check out my website. I have so many great articles on my blog. Again, the same URL, LuisaZhou.com.
And then, the best social media platform to connect with me on is Instagram. At least for right now, I’m loving it. I’m loving checking as many of my DMs as possible.
My handle is very similar. Easy to remember. It’s Luisa.Zhou. So first name dot last name. That’s on Instagram.
Jillian Leslie 53:24
Oh, well. Luisa, thank you. I mean this has been so enlightening. What I would say, is doable.
Luisa Zhou 53:33
Yes. Oh, I’m so happy to hear that. Yes. I always say this. It’s not easy because you have to do the work, you have to overcome the obstacles but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Right? So I love that that was your big takeaway from everything we talked about.
Jillian Leslie 53:49
Absolutely. So I have to say thank you so much for being on the show.
Luisa Zhou 53:55
Oh my gosh, thank you so much for having me here.
Jillian Leslie 53:58
I found Luisa’s story really inspiring. It speaks to this idea that building businesses is not linear. Meaning, you come up with a hypothesis, you put it out there, you see how people respond to it, and then you course correct. Building a business is all about course correcting.
For those of you who have not yet started your business, please let David and me help you. So in two days, we will get you set up with a wordpress.org site. We will help you register your domain, get hosting. We will optimize it and really we will get you started on the right foot.
Plus, we are here to answer any questions that you have. Head to MiloTree.com/blogstart. So MiloTree/blogstart. And you can read all about it. If you’ve got questions, please email me at Jillian@MiloTree.com. I will be here again next week.
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