Today I’m thrilled to have my friend Natalie Sisson on the show. Now if you’ve never heard of Natalie, she is known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, and her story is pretty damn cool.
Since 2006, she left her hometown of New Zealand and she’s basically been traveling the world by living out of her suitcase while running her location independent business. She’s got a popular blog, a bestselling book, a podcast and she is just an all round great person as well.
Enjoy the episode!
What You’ll Learn
- Natalie’s motivations for creating a location independent lifestyle
- Why documenting what you do can eventually lead to a steady income
- The basic tools you need to go location independent
- How Natalie created over 8 streams of revenue
- How to have an effective launch of your product
- How Natalie has attracted thousands of raving fans for her blog and products
- How Natalie got her first customers in the door
- How to make your first 1000 dollars
- How to attract JV partners
- How to handle payments, bank accounts etc…when you are a nomad
Other Resources And Books
- Natalie’s Class – The Freedom Plan
- Natalie’s Blog – The Suitcase Entrepreneur
- The Suitcase Entrepreneur: Create freedom in business and adventure in life
Now if you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes, and enter my podcast contest where I’m giving away free one on one business consults every single month. For more information, go to www.mywifequitherjob.com/contest. And if you are interested in starting your own online business, be sure to sign up for my free six day mini course where I show you how my wife and I managed to make over 100k in profit in our first year of business. Go to www.mywifequitherjob.com for more information, now onto the show.
Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit Her Job podcast. Today I’m thrilled to have my friend Natalie Sisson on the show. Now I first met Natalie randomly when I went to attend a conference in Austin, Texas. Now Natalie didn’t actually attend the same conference, but I ran into her randomly at a party completely by accident and I’m really glad that I did. Now if you’ve never heard of Natalie, she is known as the Suitcase Entrepreneur, and her story is pretty damn cool.
Since 2006, she left her hometown of New Zealand and she’s basically been travelling the world by living out of her suitcase while running her location independent business. She’s got a popular blog, a bestselling book, a podcast and she is just an all round great person as well. And what is especially cool about Natalie is that she is an incredible ultimate Frisbee player which is actually a sport that I really been into for the past decade. Now Natalie specialty is building amazing businesses online that can be taken anywhere, and today I am hoping that she can teach us her secrets on living such an exciting and free lifestyle. And with that, welcome to the show Natalie. How are you doing today?
Natalie: I am doing amazing actually. As we talked about just before we jumped on here. And by the way you have an awesome audio voice. Not that I mean you’re made for radio, but you have a really great voice on audio.
Steve: Well thank you.
Natalie: Look at that, well thank you Natalie.
Steve: So you are already buttering me up for the interview. I am going to throw you some soft balls I guess. So you know, for those of you out there listening who do not know who you are Natalie, what was your motivation for actually living out of your suitcase, travelling the world? And what’s the story behind the Suitcase Entrepreneur?
Natalie: I hope most people listening know who they are. So if they don’t who I am– this is where it started actually. I am Kiwi, so I am from New Zealand hence the accent. And I have been living out of my suitcase now for almost five years. It’s actually going to be– yeah, it’s just over four and a half years now. And my motivation for it was kind of just came about by the fact that once I had a little bit of an online business where I was actually starting to generate some revenue, I said, “ Ha, why not take this on the road? No need to be based in Vancouver, Canada where I was at the time, one of the most beautiful, but the most expensive cities in the world.
And I said, “You know what, I’ve just launched this program and it made me like, “Uuh, a whopping $1000.” For sure I can just keep going with this and then head off to Buenos Aires, Argentina and live there and then live in other places. So it wasn’t– I wouldn’t say it was by accident, but it was definitely by choice. I wanted the freedom to be able to work from anywhere.
Steve: Okay. And did you have like a day job in the beginning at any point?
Natalie: I have had eight years in the corporate world. So I feel pretty okay with the nine to five. You know, a really good experience on the whole but the last couple of jobs have stirred me over the edge. And I am really glad they did because they forced me to get off my back and go and launch my own business. And I actually cofounded a text startup before launching my business.
So I had that nice sort of [inaudible] [0:04:19] the entrepreneurial world, well I wouldn’t say nice because I just got dropped in the deep end and had to figure out how to create a tech company and develop a product and act for Facebook, get financing, get investors, all those things, but it was really great setup for me then launching my own business.
Steve: So is that what drove you over the edge, that startup or…?
Natalie: No. The startup was just a great experience and as I said, a deep dive in into the entrepreneurial world. The thing that drove me over the edge was my last job in London and it was like perfect on paper, it was highly paid, I was head of a new department, I got to setup a new team, I got even a new office, I got to travel around the UK, I got to help doctors become business people. So on paper it was amazing, right, and as I said really well paid. But it was just the organization that was just an old boys club.
There was so much sort of political bias, there was office politics, there was people who would just clop in at nine and leave just on five and nobody wanted to do anything extra. And I just felt everything I tried to do in that organization was stopped by the very people who hired me to do it and it just stirred me now. It’s like it actually made me miserable which is pretty hard to do.
Steve: So did you start the Suitcase Entrepreneur during one of these jobs, or did you…?
Natalie: No, I started during the text startup. So I was blogging and I was doing the online marketing, I was trying to figure out how to use social media to build a business from scratch with zero budget and zero customer base. And I started my own blog at the time around 2009 just because I was fascinated by what I was learning and I thought, surely other people would be interested in what I’m learning.
And surely my main blogging which is quite methodic, people will learn something and I can also interview other people and see how they got to succeed, specifically women at the time, in the tech field where I was like how did they become CEO, how did they deal with this male dominated industry, what else can I learn from them. So that was really the reason behind my blog which is– became my business.
Steve: So it wasn’t intentionally made to make money in the beginning.
Natalie: Absolutely not.
Steve: It was just a document.
Natalie: Yeah. It was just a journey.
Steve: Okay. And you know what’s unique about you is that most businesses have kind of some sort of a home base, but in your case you travel a lot, you are literally in a different country every couple of months. So I kind of want to ask how the heck do you run a mobile business and can we just kind of talk about some of your revenue streams a little bit and how you make money.
Natalie: Yeah, for sure. Well I mean all you need and I talk about this a lot. There is three things you need; electropas smartphone and an internet connection, but more importantly you need a freedom based mindset. So I think the biggest thing that holds people back from just working from anywhere and taking their business on the road is that they are kind of bamboozled by how do you that or what that means. And I think once we get past this sort of constructs of our normal daily routine and what is defined as normal like: you should be in an office, you should be working these hours, you should be off on these weekends– that’s when you really start to make some magic to happen.
So I think for me, once I realized that I could do everything from my laptop, I didn’t need to be in meetings with people, I didn’t need to have a permanent office, I didn’t even need to work the normal five day week, then I was able to kind of runoff and travel the world and set up by business in a way that I didn’t have to be online or always there for it. That’s pretty much all you need, is just that mindset to go, yeah anything is possible. Let’s do it.
Steve: Okay. Does that mean that you are pretty much solo right now? Do you have a team of people helping you out or…?
Natalie: No I have really cool team. So I have a virtual assistant who works 20 to 30 hours a week and I have an online business manager, online freedom manager as we call it who helps with some of the content and the copy writing and the podcasts. So I actually had outsourced a lot. I’ve got a really lovely stream line business so I just focus on the awesome stuff like interviewing people on my podcast, like writing the great guest posts, like being interviewed on other people’s podcasts on Skype and working out the strategies for future launches and the whole plan of the tech for my entire business.
And then I hire contractors for certain projects like for membership sites, for any tech stuff that I don’t want to do, and copywriting from time and time like videographers. So I just hire the right people when I need them.
Steve: Okay. And then would you classify yourself as a kind of like a tech savvy person?
Natalie: I am, yeah. Do you know what? I think I always have been but over the years I’ve been less inclined to like look at all the new stuff and I have just become a deck to outsourcing. So when I first started I had to do everything obviously, I had zero budget and I really loved playing with all these tools, but I have got it down. Right now I have a few key tools that I use all the time and I love, I’m pretty good at working stuff up but where possible now. If that’s not the best use of my time, I just get somebody who is an expert to do it.
Steve: Okay, yeah. That’s completely makes sense. So before we start talking about your businesses, I was just personally curious, what does your day to day look like? Like I see your postings on facebook and you are always out having fun. You just played tennis before this interview. How do you kind of separate your work and your play time?
Natalie: It’s a good day. So yeah, I got up this morning and made myself a smoothie, went off and played tennis for two hours, came back and dived into my 15 day blog challenge that I am about to launch and also a little bit of my freedom planning launch which is coming up in April, then I am here with you and next time I’ll be going on a motorbike ride up across to visit a friend. So I guess I’m very cognizant of what my priorities in life are and for me freedom is my underlying ultimate value. So if I feel I am not getting enough of it, I make a means to get more of it.
Also as I said, I’ve really worked hard over the years to build a team to create really great systems so that I don’t have to be online all the time or I don’t have to be doing everything. And I also have really clear goals, like I have a three year vision for where I want to head, so that just helps me to bring it back to on a daily basis what’s the most important thing I could do today that’s going to make a huge difference.
And so there are some days I work really hard and sometimes when I work weekends if I feel like it, but more recently in the last six months, I’ve pulled back quite a lot to focus a lot more on lifestyle and freedom, and nurturing friendships and spending time with family and enjoying travel for what it is. And that’s just really come out of having clear focus priorities and really great goals and as I said great systems and a cool business.
Steve: Okay, yeah. And we are going to delve deeply into all those things, now I kind of know that you sell a bunch of different products and you make money in a variety of different ways. So let’s talk about first the one that makes the most money for you and then let’s talk about that first.
Natalie: Perfect. So I actually have about eight revenue streams but I am dialing those down because I looked at my 2014 annual review and I was like, “Man that was an amazing year,” but my God, I did way too much stuff. So if I look at it, I have various online revenue streams and offline. Currently the one that makes me the most money is the Freedom Plan program which I launched as my flagship program last year.
It’s a combination of everything I have learnt and applied and done over the last four and a half years in business and I run it once a year. Last year I did it as a pilot which was hugely successful and then I ran the full program, and I’m amping up to have a huge launch this year. I want it to be the one definitive thing I’m known for, I want it to get amazing results from people which it has, and I want to put all my focus and energy into this program for the first half of this year. So when that launch is at [Inaudible] [00:11:29] and my biggest honor.
Steve: So can you talk about this project a little bit. So it’s a purely digital product.
Natalie: Yeah. It is– yes and no. So there are– it’s basically– I went through a learning mastery education person to actually really make sure that I got results of people in this. So I stripped back everything and figured out what do they need to know to build a profitable online business and a lifestyle they love. It’s broken into three parts. It’s very much based off kind of the fundamentals behind my book and what I do. So its starts with what’s your vision for your life, like what do you actually want out of life? Then what’s the business that you are going to build to make sure that becomes a reality and the third part is, what’s your lifestyle going to look like?
Does it involve travel or does it involve more freedom at home? So it’s kind of that three part area that I think a lot of people overlook the travel and lifestyle aspect and they focus always on the business, so they do the other part and they don’t really get clear on their vision. It’s got 11 modules which are video based and audio based, they are very progressive, and also there is weekly coaching with me. So it’s a really nice formation of that plus the Facebook community.
And I have found over the years that all the programs that I run you need to show up live, you need accountability, you need direct access to a great person who knows what they are talking about, just in this case me. And then you need modules that like are progressive and take you through this learning aspect with really great actions that you can apply. So basically people come out at the end of eight weeks with their freedom plan either partly done, fully done or well on their way to making happen, which is all that I am about by getting people to take action.
Steve: Okay. And then so when you run this weekly live class you just run it out of your laptop with an internet connection wherever you happen to be?
Natalie: Absolutely. Go to a meeting, internet, laptop, perfect, so much fun.
Steve: And in terms of just getting people to purchase your product, are you just leveraging your audience from your blog in order to get people to sign up?
Natalie: Yeah. Actually it was really interesting because last year I did this for the first time I ran a pilot; I didn’t advertise it to anybody. All I did was reach out to people who joined my community, told me about themselves and looked like a great fit. So I didn’t do it to everybody but I get a lot of people replying, “So cool to be in your community. Here is what I do,” because I was just on that you know, where are you at, what are you looking for?
And so for the few people that just seem like a perfect fit, I said, “Hey, I am actually launching this product program. You’d be great for it, no obligation but here is the sort of outline.” And I hadn’t even produced it at that point, and I literally had a payment button on that page. I was like; if you want to sign up go here. And I got 35 people which was five more than I wanted without any external advertising which is a first for me, just very small into a couple of people in my community. And then I…
Steve: When you say community, is that your email list? Is that your Facebook group?
Natalie: It’s actually just people who joined my email list, yeah.
Steve: Okay, got it.
Natalie: And people who are in– I have another revenue stream as my highflier cup which is established entrepreneurs who are earning pretty good money, and I wanted to look more at their mindset lifestyle in business. So I approached a couple of those people in there as good piloters, but the rest was really just this type on the show, that kind of approach which was really cool and very personal. And then I launched it fully in September after I got feedback from those people and for that I did a full launch. So I did Facebook advertising, I went out to my community, I had a VIP list, I did webinars, I ran webinars with affiliates, I had affiliates promoting, I did blogs, I did interviews. It was very full on.
Steve: So let’s go into depth about your launch. I mean you mentioned this full on launch. What is involved in a full launch and which aspects of the launch are the most effective? Like if you had to choose, it sounds like you did a bunch of stuff so…
Natalie: I love launches, right? I have been doing them for quite a while now. Every single time they never meet my expectations and every single time I learn more and more about it, like I have really high expectations. So I am not saying I haven’t had great launches and this was my best year, but there is just so many moving parts and every time you run them you think, I could have done this better, I could have bought this [inaudible] [0:15:20], I could have done a better webinar here etcetera.
So I guess the bits that proved the most effective because I’ve done a breakdown of the launch were definitely running webinars. It’s not for everybody but I love them. I love live training, I love live coaching, it’s where I’m at my best, it’s where I give my best value. I love being able to answer those questions directly, like an open book I can answer almost anything, if I don’t know find the answer for you. And that’s why I think people really buy into who I am and my style and my credibility of what I am about, and that’s where I convince most people whether they want to join me or not. So the webinars have worked really well.
Steve: How did they find you to sign up for the webinar?
Natalie: So I had around 1500 people registered through my existing community of email lists. So my one list is the most I’ve ever had on a webinar, like crazy nuts.
Steve: That is a lot of people.
Natalie: It is a lot of people. I mean, that’s how many registered, they were around 600 or so live which is so crazy.
Steve: That’s a lot too, yes.
Natalie: To be a part of that many people on a New Zealand internet connection, always fun with a loud hungry cat in the background which was quite amusing because I was house sitting at the time. And then the second one we actually ran to people who were not in my community at all, through Facebook advertising. So we did a non-targeted fans and community Facebook advertising campaign and got around 600 people registered for that although [inaudible] [0:16:38] 300 turned up live.
That definitely wasn’t successful– as successful in terms of conversions because these people didn’t know me from a bar of soap. But the great thing is that now my community and since then some of those people have gone on to buy stuff and become a much more integral part. So when I come around to launching it this year, it’s highly likely that many of those people might be like yeah I am ready.
Steve: Can we talk about your Facebook campaign real quick. So how did you set that up and how did you– like how is it structured?
Natalie: So I hired an awesome lady who is actually in my highflier club and has become a good friend, but she is also extremely savvy on Facebook advertising so shout out to Marie Corner [ph]. And we just worked through what I wanted to achieve like my goals, how many registrations, how many people to the email list and worked through the kind of wording and the copy, and the imagery and what we really wanted and then she just set to work doing that.
I’ve done Facebook ads myself in the past but honestly, they are such a gold mine now and they have also become pretty complex and I think you really need to know your stuff. So I handed over to her, I said, “This is my budget, here is how much I am going to invest in you and you just go and make it happen.” So we used customized audience, downloaded my email list, did a really good job of that and targeted the likes of all the people that people think about when they are probably thinking about lifestyle entrepreneurship and me. So Tim Ferriss, Marie Forlio, Chris Decker and just a bunch of people that were really doing well that people would be searching on as well.
So yeah, it was great. It is also what I’m going to be using again in this launch because as much as I love and hate facebook in terms of advertising and targeting the right people, it’s a fantastic tool and vehicle to really get granular and know exactly who you are targeting and who is in your audience. And I know my audience demographic really well, so we can get very specific on that.
Steve: So I’m just curious, how much were you paying per sign up?
Natalie: We got it down to pretty amazing, actually to I think for the regular person, so it was anywhere between a dollar twenty and three dollars per sign up. And for somebody to come on to my email list, I think that’s more than worth it. Like this program is $1000 in value, so if you are spending $1000 and just one person signs up through that period then you’ve made your money back. But it depends, we actually had even less on clicks, on just likes and stuff but to actually join into the list and to be part of that or register, it was around that price and I was happy with that because my market and my category and industry is really competitive.
Steve: I think we are in the same market, which is why I was asking. So I have been paying around two fifty to three dollars per sign up.
Natalie: That’s good, that’s really good.
Steve: But the sign up rate is obviously for my course, I guess we are somewhere in that aspect. I sell the course; I teach people how to start eCommerce stores. And so what I do and I was just curious what you do, I send them to this email funnel where I basically teach them stuff, and if they like what they see then they sign up, but the conversion rate for that is a lot less than obviously the people that read my blog already and already know me. So just curious how you kind of track the conversions from your Facebook since they are so much longer term?
Natalie: We actually only tracked the conversions of who registered and then of those who registered, who signup via the webinar. So that’s the only thing we tracked for now. If I was now to track those people and see if they bought anything, that would be interesting as well. I probably should do that. But that is because we were just sending them straight into a webinar from a cold prospect, but I really like the style that you are doing and that’s what we’ll be doing pretty much from this month on, is sending people to get a free starter kit, and going to get all that free information and keep them as warm customers first before they then get information about the Freedom Plan.
Steve: Okay. And then in terms of the actual live webinar when you’re talking, how do you structure what you’re going to say to kind of entice people to sign up for your full blown class in just one session?
Natalie: Yeah. It’s a great question. So I’ve watched– I’ve been to a lot of webinars and I always take notes. And I’ve done a bit of Clay Collins’ training; I think he’s done an excellent job at that. I’ve run a lot of webinars with experts in my community and I always loved seeing how they structure, what they talk about, how they close. I’ve also seen a lot of really bad webinars where people talk about themselves for way too long and don’t give out any value and piss people off.
So I was clear that I wanted to offer a lot of value. I probably offered too much information and left people going, “Gosh, that’s a lot to take in. I think I’ll just use the info Natalie’s given me for the day and go away with that and came back later.” So that was a great lesson learnt. But I’ve structured it through really kind of going through the three steps to creating your freedom plan which is what the program is based around and giving out lots of value adds there and actions they could take, and then in the last 25 to 30% was taking them through what they get in the program.
And this time around I’ll be definitely spending a little bit longer on that and giving it more I guess– it’s not all about promoting it but really being clear on what they get so that people literally have no questions. I kind of changed the gloss over a little, I don’t always like the pitch and selling, but I feel that just through adding value, people will make up their mind and make a decision, but there’s definitely a lot to be said by just being very clear on what you offer and how it differs from other programs and what the unique element is and then obviously having a really short time call to action.
Steve: So I’m just curious myself, so when you say you help people start online businesses, there’s obviously a whole bunch of different classes of online businesses like eCommerce, blogging, selling digital class and that sort of thing. Where does your program tend to lean?
Natalie: Yeah. And it’s a great question, that’s something that is starting to frustrate me is just how many people are moving into this area all saying, “Hey, here is how to quit your job and start a business.” So I would say definitely prioritizing and monetizing yourself. So I work with people who are finding their sweet spot, the intersection between what they are good at, what they get paid for and what they enjoy, rather than starting an eCommerce business, rather than starting an affiliate marketing kind of business. I talk about, how do you monetize yourself and create a business that works around you?
Steve: Okay, that makes sense. So it’s very tailored then to a person’s personality if you mean– okay.
Natalie: Yes, it is. And so it’s not for everybody, right, like I think during– like I do cover off on a lot of different stuff, you know, the basics that you need on a website, how to build a social media community because it’s something I’ve done really well. It’s also about building your brand, but there are many introverts and many extroverts who go through the program who do it in a really great way. So yeah, it comes down to how motivated are you, how much freedom do you want in your life and how important is it for you to be able to build something for yourself that you are really proud of.
Steve: Okay. And then obviously you have a lot of members in this class. What systems do you kind of have in place to automate your processes? Like you mentioned that you– a lot of your training seems to require tailoring to a certain person’s personality, but you’re just one person. So how do you kind of create that tailored effect for everyone and obviously have some systems in place to do that?
Natalie: Yeah, it’s a great question. I think my training is– I wouldn’t ever call it generic but throughout it I do get people to consider how that relates to them. So if this is something that has been applied successfully by myself and others over the years, how do you take that and work it yourself? Because I really don’t like when people teach you, “Hey, here’s how I made money online, this is how you should do it too.” That just drives me nuts because it’s not true of everything.
So I think that is probably where actually getting them to go through the books and work through it themselves comes out really well. The coaching course that I do is a group coaching because that’s where the brilliant questions come through and people really are starting to think through, and then I can give them customized and specific advice. And then also in the Facebook group, the questions that are asked and answered by myself and everybody else.
I think that’s where people get their lot out of it, like that’s when it becomes individual to them because outside of that, the modules are there and they get released, the emails come through. And I would say for me the biggest amount of feedback I’ve heard is just how accessible I am and how personable I am to helping each person kind of do their thing without being spread really thin and feeling like, all I’m doing is investing my time into tons of people which is a fine line though.
Steve: So what’s an example of one of your successful students and how you’ve helped them?
Natalie: Yeah. It’s really fun to see actually right now because I challenged everybody just before new years to complete their painted picture which is the fundamental of the program. It’s not my idea, but I’ve taken it and put it on steroids and I just loved seeing how people stepped up to do that and get it done before the 31st of December. And from that also what came out of it is just what people are wanting to achieve or had achieved. So Maxi Lang [ph] has launched an Amazon book and the time that she’s been through it setup their whole website, got super clear on their ideal customer, and avatar and they’re in the process of launching a program right now.
And the interesting thing that I find about it– like she’s given me an amazing testimonial and video testimony, all those stuff just because for them I think they just got major clarity on who they were serving and why, and the importance of what they wanted to achieve during this next year even. And the biggest thing is I don’t think people are going to build a business in eight weeks that’s going to suddenly return the profit, right?
Steve: Right. Absolutely, yes.
Natalie: I’d never claim for that to be true but the point is, two months down the track, three months down the track when they go through it again I am just going to see more and more people getting great results. And there have been some people who went through and just blessed it and there are others who were still– have gone right back to the beginning to redo it and are now like go, “Ah, I’ve got it,” like it made sense the second time. So I love that.
I just love the journey that people have gone. For some people they got the first hundred people on their email list, for somebody else they launched a product to make their first five grand but everybody was kind of at different stages. So as long as they see immediate results in their own small piece of their world, then I’m happy.
Steve: It’s almost like you’re a mixture of life coach and entrepreneur in training, right? You’re trying to help people figure out what they really want out of life and then you kind of tailor some sort of business that will allow them to achieve that lifestyle. Is that accurate?
Natalie: Yeah. I mean I don’t really like the term life coach because I’m not trained in that and how do you coach on life? It’s a huge thing.
Natalie: But I am absolutely passionate about people figuring out what lifestyle they want and then building a business to support it, because I’ve seen way too many people who let businesses take over their life and then build a job and then suddenly they are making all this money and doing really well and they have zero life.
Natalie: You know? You know the people I’m talking about. Like they are making…
Steve: I do.
Natalie: …a mint and they’re very unhappy. They have no friends, they have way too much stuff, they don’t live life and life is passing them by. And I’m like, “Seriously that’s the worst thing in the world,” so yeah.
Steve: So it’s interesting that you teach this stuff because a lot of my listeners are trying to create their own lifestyle that they want to live. So what sort of advice would you give to someone kind of starting out from complete scratch? Like when you launched your program, you already had a sizeable email list, you already had contacts and groups and that sort of thing to rely on. For someone just kind of brand new, who wants to kind of live your lifestyle, what sort of advice would you give?
Natalie: Well for the very first program that I launched I really didn’t, but the biggest thing that I would say is to believe in yourself much earlier on. I really wish I’d done that from the beginning, it sounds a bit nah but I think I’d come from this corporate background and then I’ve been in this [inaudible] [0:27:48] and this technology startup and I still just didn’t fully believe that I had what it took to be able to teach others to do their own thing.
And I really wish I developed that sense of self and purpose earlier because it fundamentally changes your mindset when you say, “Yep, I’m worth it. Yep I’m turning [inaudible] [0:28:04],” I love that book by Steven Pressfield and you step up and you go. “Here’s the people I want to help and here is how I’m going to do it and I’m going to master everything I can and learn as much as I can in the mean to get ahead and be able to do that for them.
So I’d say the biggest piece of advice I have, you know, you guys listening is to become a leading learner. You don’t have to be an expert, you just have to be a couple of steps ahead of the people that you really want to serve and help. So if you know that you’re pretty good at this thing and you know that you really enjoy it, and you’re willing to put something out there that’s of value, that’s going to help somebody they will pay for it and it’s a beautiful thing.
It’s a beautiful thing when you finally go, “You know what, I have this skill people always tell me I’m really good at, but I kind of dismiss it because it comes naturally.” And you finally do something about it and you release that gift into the world and then everybody benefits.
Steve: So you mentioned just now earlier that– you said you didn’t have a sizable audience when you first launched your first product.
Natalie: Oh gosh no.
Steve: So how did you get the first customers in the door? Was it webinars or…?
Natalie: Oh yeah. Do you know what– so I actually ran it as a physical boot camp in Vancouver, Canada. I built up enough of a network there over the two years building the startup that I was like, “You know what, I think I can do a social media boot camp and maybe people will come.” And that was sold out because I tapped into some government funding and I just had the right networks, and I worked really hard, right? I was a bit worried at first, but I ended up selling the workshops for only 10 people per workshop.
And then I turned that into an online program and just naturally thought that my small blog readership and my small email list would be interested and I ran my first ever webinar for which I lost my voice on the day which was awesome, so I sounded like super hoarsky [ph]. I had 30 people, 30 people who turned up to that webinar and I made one sale and you know what, I was super excited because I made a sale. And I went on to make about six or seven more and over the space of that next month I think I got maybe 15 people on my program. So I’m not talking about like I crushed it here.
Steve: Yeah. No but I mean even…
Natalie: But the point was I made a sale, like that’s a big exciting thing when I you are first starting out, that you’ve convinced somebody that you’ve build something of value. So it’s just starting, right? You just have to start somewhere and then build on that, and I would say the first two and a half years were called strategic hustling, like I wasn’t throwing spaghetti at the wall all the time, sometimes I was very strategic and I just kept hustling and pushing and learning and being mental, or reaching out to the right people and basically emulating what they, did but in my own way that was going to succeed.
Steve: Okay. And so if you can pretend for a moment that I have just joined your program, completely lost, what are some of the things that you would have me do to figure that out, what I should do?
Natalie: You are completely lost, you are not completely lost; you’ve just joined my program, logged in and gone, “My God, what’s happening here?”
Steve: Exactly, yes.
Natalie. Okay, a really great question, so I would get you to focus on the sweet spot and I do get people to do this in the program even if they’re really advanced and they’ve already got a business. It seems to really help people. So once again the sweet spot is not my thing, it’s been around for a long time, but it’s that intersection between what you’re good at even if you are semi mediocre at it. You’re good at it or you’re excellent at it, you like it or you really enjoy doing it, you may even love it and people are willing to pay you for it.
So a really cool example of this that I think people overlook is let’s say you are really good French cook. I’m not by the way a great cook, I make amazing breakfast, but that’s about it. But let’s say you are really good French cook and you’ve loved doing it for a while and you hold dinner parties for your friends because you enjoy cooking for them. And they always say, “Oh my God that was excellent. How did you make it?” And you’re like, “Oh no-no-no, it was no big deal.” You know, a lot of chefs do that, right?
Natalie: They kind of go, “Oh, it’s just something I whipped up earlier,” and I’m like, ouch. Sorry I have just made this an explicit iTunes podcast. Yeah, so they go, “Look could you teach me how to do that because you make it look so simple yet it’s not.” And they go, “Oh yeah sure or you know, maybe next time we’ll do a cooking workshop.” So they come over earlier and they stand in your kitchen and you just take a video of that and you show them through it and they help you cook and put it out, and then you decide to start running a weekly video series.
You decide to just go out and put it on YouTube and people really like it and then they come across in your blog and you put out your favorite recipes. And then you keep doing these instructional videos which really help people to cook and then you decide to create a recipe book or maybe how to start basic French Cooking Made Easy, oh in 10 minutes a day. And before you know it you’re kind of off and running. You got an audience of people who really wanted to know how to become better at cooking French. You’re not the expert, you’re not a trained chef, but you’ve got an ability to make it easy for people to do those who aren’t chefs at all.
It’s just a– often people just overlook stuff that they are really good at or have a neck for because they’ve been born with it and they don’t think much about it. But you know how there’s those people who are just great at connecting people and getting them on blind dates that work, or those people who are just amazing at introducing you to the right people and just knowing– well there are people who make, you know, their complex seem really simple.
You’ve got to listen to those things that people are always telling you, “Hey, you know, you really good at this,” “Well thanks so much. It’s something you really helped me with.” And you’ve got to tune into that and think, how can I maximize this and create something that’s actually going to monetize your skills.
Steve: Yeah. I was just– when you’re talking about people who are good at introducing people I just thought of our mutual friend Jamie tardy who pretty much knows everybody, and she’s a great connector of people, and she’s created a great business for herself interviewing popular entrepreneurs.
Natalie: Just curious though. This is a kind of a funny story on my end. So you mentioned doing something you enjoy and trying to get the word out about that. A while ago my wife used to be really into embroidery, and then what happened was I kind of convinced her to monetize that for our online store, and then pretty soon orders would come in and she just did not enjoy doing that anymore. So what do you have to say about the fine line between turning a hobby into a business and losing that interest and actually that hobby?
Natalie: Yeah, absolutely. That’s why I get people to run through it and pick up three to four sweet spots, and then try out some of those sweet spots. For example, I love tennis but I’ve tried coaching tennis when I was younger and I coached little ones and I was like, I don’t want to coach anymore. It drives me nuts, they’re shooting balls all over the place, it’s frustrating, I’m inpatient as a teacher of tennis, I just want to play. So the same would apply to ultimate Frisbee. I have coached some people before but I always like captaining teams or being really part of really great teams and winning and partying hard.
So you do have to really look at the ones that you absolutely love and adore because you just love being in that moment, and then you have to look at the one that you genuinely like teaching people about. And I think this may sound odd for people, but if you think about conversations you have with friends, what are the things that you are always maybe helping them do? I go into business coaching mode with almost every person I meet unless somebody tells me to shut up, because if somebody’s struggling and they are genuinely asking me questions and I know I can add value and help them out, that’s when I go into that mode.
Now would I do that on some other things that I love? No, and that’s where I define the difference. So you know I think the things that you want to keep just to your yourself selfishly that you will always love and they are kind of like your guilty pleasure or the thing you just love to do and be in the zone of, and there are the other ones where genuinely feel I do like doing this and I think I can get paid pretty well for it.
So yeah, it’s something I think you figure out. And a lot of people go down that path and they are like, “Oh, no that wasn’t for me, great.” And then there is also that fine line that you have to figure out, is this just you being lazy or you being scared or you know really wanted to take this seriously. So lots of things you have to listen for and get a tune to.
Steve: So let’s say as your student I kind of found my sweet spot. How would I proceed to go ahead and generate let’s say my first $1000?
Natalie: Well first of all you will sign up for the Freedom Plan program.
Steve: But that would put me in debt Natalie.
Natalie: Whatever, it’s an investment that’s going to have a huge return for you. So what I’d look at then is– let’s say coming back to the chef or the French cook, I would look at the– I actually get people to do this as well. I get them to actually detail out the ideas that they have for revenue generation and then look at them all on a cost benefit analysis of what’s going to be the best and actually take them through this profit matrix.
So let’s say you are going to produce an eBook or recipe book, the cost of– uh some siren in the background. The cost of producing that might be, let’s say you pay $500 for a designer and maybe a little bit of formatting. So your baseline costs the 500 plus the time you put into it and let’s say you’re paying yourself $30 for an hour and it takes you 20 hours to write that. So 600 and you’ve spent $1100 on this book. If you are going to price it at $47, then you don’t need to sell a huge amount of copies to make that fair amount. And in addition if you can sell 20 or 30 copies a months, it’s not huge, but its bringing in the money, you’ve got a pretty good automated hopefully sales funnel to set you up and after a while you could earn a couple of grand a month from that book depending on what your sales funnel is for the very low and baseline costs.
Then the other option is you might want to run cooking workshops and you might want to hold them at a venue that has a baseline cost that’s not too much so you can charge quite a lot more. Let’s say you charge 300 for the day and you get 10 people along to each one and you run one a month. So it’s three grand from there and you cost– you can look at these after a while and go, “Okay, this is a great use of my time. This is a terrible use of my time. This has got a high return on investment; this has got a massive commitment upfront.”
And depending on where you’re at with your business and what type of business model you want, how much time you have to commit, whether you prefer to do stuff in person, whether you prefer to automate things, you can start to work out which revenue streams are going to be easiest for you. And online products, programs and places when you can monetize information on your knowledge can be very quickly put out online and make you money very quickly as opposed to some other things which take you a lot longer to setup. So it really comes back to your preferences.
Steve: So let’s say I wanted to sell something online and let’s say I’m not tech savvy at all. What sort of tools do you recommend to put up websites or collect e-mail addresses and that sort of thing? What’s your strategy that you would teach me if I was a student in your class?
Natalie: Well absolutely first off I think everybody knows that WordPress is like the gold standard for what used to be blogs but now great websites and there’s all these amazing web pristines that instantly allow you to create some form of basic shop, obviously not a full ecommerce store, but a membership site or even just a landing page and then you can actually put information behind that. Leadpages is probably one of my favorite tools for landing pages, launch sequence and sales pages, even mini-websites.
So I mean I kind of think there is no excuse now for not getting a website up in a day or two. It’s very basic, that has the minimal information but looks good and has the right call to action. And then in terms of delivering that, I mean there’s so many different ways. You can just do it via e-mail, you can send people to a secure page on a site, you can go for something like wish list or optimized press to have a membership site setup. I mean, there is a lot more tools and they’re all coming out on the last few pages etcetera.
And then you just need to figure out how you want to deliver that. Is it audio, is it video, is it a combination of both, is it PDFs? And I’ve seen a couple of posts recently and watched a few people do incredible and launches and do really well with very basic systems, because I think some people like to over complicate it. They have all these whiz-bang amazing things. I’ve done that in the past, like here is a membership forum, and here is a program in place, and here is a Facebook group and here is this and this and this. People are like, “I am just freaking confused. Give me the information.”
So I think there is a certain trend to getting back to basics and just minimalizing stuff and making it really simple so that it’s about the learning and the output, not about the whiz-bang, I look so beautiful up front.
Steve: And do you have an opinion on how to get the word out? Like there is blogging, you have a podcast, there is YouTube videos. I know you have experience in all the mediums and what kind of has worked the best for you.
Natalie: So interesting. Over time I think it’s different but I tend to pick the things that work best for my personality now. So for me interviews on podcasts or videos as well as webinars I think would be my number one choice over anything else. Guest posting fine, but takes a long time, a lot of effort, can have a long lead time, doesn’t seem to get the same amount of traction as it used to because there is lots more players in the industry. Obviously writing fantastic e-mails, really, really well crafted great copy to your email list and to key joint venture partners is another great way depending on what you’re launching.
So it really comes back to I think one the relationships you have with your existing audience and community to the relationships you have with influencers and people who have an existing community. So if I had zero audience right now and I was wanting to launch something, I would partner with one to five or 10 great people that I’ve built a relationship with and use their community instead. So there is always ways when you have nothing, right? But a lot of these things take time, and leverage, and you have to give value to get value back.
Steve: It sounds like networking and getting to know people is a large part of your strategy as well, right, as you just mentioned.
Natalie: It is now because I just think you can’t do this all alone and it seems silly to try and go and build something yourself when other people have already done a really great job of that. So I think it’s all about leveraging your time and skills there to really help them and help others.
Steve: Okay, because I was just curious. You mentioned you’d get JV partners. Let’s say you had nothing, how would you convince someone with a sizeable list to take part as a JV partner for what you are trying to sell?
Natalie: It’s a great question. You are trying to get everything out of me today. You are a good interviewer. It is a really great question. If I had zero knowledge of who that person was but– like I didn’t have any way into contact them directly, I would definitely ask around my own existing network, “Does anybody know this person or how to get in touch with them or could they do an intro? Because getting an into to somebody is far more beneficial than just cold calling them.
And if that doesn’t work, what I generally do is spend at least a week or two first off in their community, commenting on their blog, tweeting them. Like a lot of people are very active on Twitter and Facebook and just being active in person and kind of getting in their face in a good way makes you less of a stranger when you finally do hit them up via email or Twitter etcetera. I would even go the extra length these days to create a personal video and post it and ask somebody to either share it or get it to them directly so they get in front of them because it’s just a little bit more different than yet another email.
Steve: That’s a good, that’s interesting.
Natalie: It is interesting and a few people have done it for me and it’s really rocked my world. I am kind of like, “Oh I went to the effort of making a short video or a short audio and just saying, ‘You know what, here is why I love your work,” it’s always good for flattery and be credible about– like just don’t lie. So I really loved your latest blog post on this, I’ve been following it for a while, I love how you talk about this. I think this is an area that your community are calling out for and low and behold it’s something I’m really good at.
I would love the opportunity to be able to either guest post or be on your podcast show or do something to help you on this front. I just so happen to have– you know it depends how much you want to pitch them. But I happen to have a program that covers this, I would love to give you free access to it so you can look at it yourself to see whether it’s right for you and if you did like it, would you be willing to open up and to do [inaudible] [0:43:30] or introduce it to your audience or do something around it.
So I mean at the end of day think about how you’d like to be approached. You’d like to be one, know that the person knows you, that they understand the work you do, that they understand your community or who your customers and clients are and that they can add value and that it’s no pressure for them at all, like they have to do zero work. That’s going to get you know a yes.
Steve: Okay. And do you attend conferences as well?
Natalie: I do. Yeah, I love traveling around the world. I generally try to make the countries that I go and visit– either they have an ultimate Frisbee tournament, they have a conference or event that I want to go to, they have really good friends of mine or I have never visited it. And if it’s all those four things then it’s like a win. So I tend to try and go to the right kind of conferences and events that are really going to help me and also where my kind of people are going to be.
Steve: What’s your favorite entrepreneurship conference to go to?
Natalie: I have loved the World Domination Summit for the last four years in a row, I’ve been to it. I won’t be going this year unfortunately because I’ll be in Europe, but it’s my kind of people who are attending and speaking, and then my community is there in droves. So I think that one’s a really good one to go to and if not go to [inaudible] [0:44:35] because he’s a good friend. At least be in Portland during that time because there is just so many people now.
I haven’t been to NMX, you know, what formerly was BlogWorld for a very long, long time now. I think it’s grown really big but honestly when I went to it in 2010, it was fantastic for meeting the likes of like [inaudible] [0:44:52] and just some of those people that are key people now. And then this year I’m actually speaking in quite a few cool ones like Social Media Marketing World, the first digital nomad conference, NMX in Europe. So I just– you tend to be a bit choosy.
I actually prefer small in person events where there is maybe 10 to 50 people like [inaudible] [0:45:14] unmistakable creative conferences coming out of this very small and application only. I love doing my own mastermind retreats, I like going on retreats. So you really got to pick and choose what’s going to be the most beneficial for you and for what you are trying to do.
Steve: Okay. And I just have some random questions that are just out of my own curiosity here. Do you have health insurance? And since you’re always moving around, how does it work? How do you get mail, payments, checks, taxes?
Natalie: I’ve done some fun videos on this and I also have it on my Suitcase Entrepreneur book.
Steve: Oh you do, okay.
Natalie: But it makes me laugh how it’s always Americans who ask if I have health insurance. Just because I think you guys are obsessed with health insurance I frankly don’t care about it which is probably a silly attitude. I do usually go with World Nomads for insurance and that covers health, medical and liability in depth and all those wonderful things, and I used to take out a yearlong policy for the whole world which covers, you know, if I lose my luggage or whatever.
I frankly don’t care if I lose my luggage. I don’t really care about stuff, but obviously health and those things are quite important to me. So I’m bit lax on that, thank you for reminding me. I probably should sign up for one again. Most countries so health care is fairly minimal apart from if you’re in the US which is the only time I would probably cover myself. A lot of countries, you know, if you’re in Southeast Asia or South America it’s quite minimal to actually go and see a doctor or get some operations done, and so I kind of tend to know those places now, and often it’s way cheaper than doing it in the country, your own country of residence.
In terms of mailing address, I’m really good at relying on my friends. So if people are like, “Oh I need to send you my book or do something,” I just email the person I’m going to be with next or there is the hotel I’m going to stay in or the apartment and I just give them that. And outside of that I do have an address in New Zealand now which is on my mailing list because I bought the apartment, not that I’m going to be here.
But yeah, I just use that or I will use something like Regis offices where you can set up your own postal address with them and a couple of other resources in my book totally escaped my brain right now, but there are some really cool global offices that will take your mail and scan it, post it, send it, do whatever you want with it and they give you this kind of address that people can email to, so really useful.
Steve: Okay. Interesting yeah, it just blows my mind, your lifestyle– it’s not something I don’t think that I could live, but it sounds very interesting for sure.
Natalie: It is. It’s fascinating. I like the challenges that you get with it as well, you know, slowly bank some things are coming round to it. Whenever I phone them, I just have to call ahead and say, “I am going to be in this country, so please don’t stop my credit card.” And then, “Okay great, what’s your phone number and your address?” “I’m like I have no idea, just deal with it.” Like this is who I am, I think they’ve become used to me now.
Steve: Well that’s cool now. You know, we have already been talking for quite a while and I want to be respectful of your time. For those of you out there who are interested in Natalie’s program, so Natalie where can they find you and what’s the name of your website?
Natalie: I would love for them to come across and say hi, it’s suitcaseentrepreneur.com. I know it’s hard to spell so you can also Google Natalie Sisson. I used to misspell it all the time, and if they want to know about the Freedom Plan, suitcaseentrepreneur.com/freedomplan. But I am all over social media, they will find me there. I just love for them to say hello.
Steve: Okay. And do you have a Twitter– what’s the best way to reach you?
Natalie: Twitter is great, I am @Nataliesisson. I’m also Natalie Sisson on Facebook; I’m Suitcase Entrepreneur pretty much everywhere. Natalie Sisson on Instagram, come look at my photos from around the world. And yeah, those places are great.
Steve: Awesome. All right, well thanks a lot for coming on the show Natalie. Really appreciate it.
Natalie: Thank you so much for having me and absolutely drilling me with those great questions.
Steve: Drilling, that’s a little harsh. All right, well take care.
Natalie: Thank you.
Steve: Natalie is one of my favorite entrepreneurs. Not only does she have a cool accent but she’s super fun, down to earth and very easy to get along with, and I really admire what she’s done with her businesses to facilitate her lifestyle. In other words she makes her business adapt to her and not the other way around. For more information about this episode go to Mywifequitherjob.com/episode61 and if you enjoyed this episode, please go to iTunes and leave me a review.
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