Ep 260: 3 Steps to Making Money From Social Media with Vanessa Lau

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The best time to start building an online presence will always be in the past, and therefore, out of reach.

The next best time, however, is now!

Our guest today, Vanessa Lau, is an amazing example of how you can rapidly grow your business, and your brand, through social media, even if you’re late to the game.

After reaching an unbearable point of exhaustion and dissatisfaction in her corporate career, Vanessa finally took the plunge into entrepreneurship.

In 2018 she started her YouTube channel and today has over 500 000 followers, not to mention the thousands of subscribers she has also gained on her other platforms, like Instagram and TikTok.

In our conversation with Vanessa, we discuss her transition into entrepreneurship and the elements that made her success possible.

Vanessa explains how her honesty attracted followers and how she unknowingly created a community out of the simple desire to build her network.

Tuning in you’ll learn how Vanessa inadvertently found her niche as a business specialist who helps content creators, coaches, and corporate escapees build their businesses, by addressing the pain points that resonated with her community.

We also discuss the course business model, how to scale it, and how Vanessa created her flagship course.

To learn more about Vanessa’s rapid growth and why it’s never too late, or too early, to get on a new social media platform, make sure you tune in today!

KEY POINTS FROM THIS EPISODE

  • Get to know today’s guest, Vanessa Lau, business specialist, investor, and entrepreneur.
  • Why Vanessa chose to leave her corporate career and become an entrepreneur.
  • How Vanessa was able to successfully execute the transition into entrepreneurship.
  • The role that YouTube and honesty played in the success of Vanessa’s transition.
  • The particular pain point and persona she was inadvertently addressing on her channel.
  • How building a community is distinct from building an audience.
  • An overview of how building community helped accelerate Vanessa’s growth.
  • Why Vanessa loves teaching people about how to leverage social media.
  • Why it will always feel like it’s too late to join a platform, and why you should start today.
  • The benefit of shielding yourself from what other influencers are doing.
  • How doing the opposite of everyone else and having a refreshing viewpoint can broaden your reach on social media.
  • The course business model and how Vanessa built and launched her flagship course.
  • How including her audience in the development of her coursework made them feel invested in the outcome.
  • How a member of Vanessa’s community reached out and helped her manage her social media and support her course creation.
  • How Vanessa was able to scale her curriculum.
  • Why organic reach has always surpassed the impact of paid ads for Vanessa’s business.

TWEETABLE MOMENTS

“Building a community is very different. Building a community to me means making as many of your audience members feel seen, heard, appreciated, respected, and feeling involved in your mission.” — @vanessalauco [0:04:25]

“This is why I love teaching people about social media specifically because, through my journey, I really learned that social media has just done so many great things for me, it really put me on an international platform.” —  @vanessalauco [0:05:39]

“It’s always going to be too late to be on a platform. But, you know, today is better than none at all.” — @vanessalauco [0:08:44]

“Through that process of working with one-on-one clients, it also helped me identify what my strengths were too.” — @vanessalauco [0:14:40]

“Every time that we’ve done an update, we still keep in mind customer feedback. And we just streamlined the curriculum so much, to the point where the version we have now can basically stand on its own.” — @vanessalauco [0:26:56]

“The first step that she talks a lot about, is to basically let your difference be your advantage.” —  @roryvaden [0:04:13]

“Building an audience means you’re broadcasting. It is one-way communication. Building a community is multi-dimensional.” — @roryvaden [033:33]

“Don’t build a product, and then hope you can build an audience. Build an audience and then build the product that they need.” — @roryvaden [0:38:36]

About Vanessa Lau

Vanessa is an online business coach, content creator, and Founder of The BOSSGRAM Academy. She teaches new entrepreneurs how to build their influence and scale their businesses using the power of social media. After quitting her 9-5, she started a YouTube channel and amassed a digital reach of 400,000+ subscribers on YouTube and over 150k+ followers on Instagram, all while building a multi-million dollar digital education business. Today she’s passionate about helping other creative entrepreneurs and business owners tap into the social media space so they can monetize their expertise and create global impact.

LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE

Vanessa Lau

The BOSSGRAM Academy

AdSense

Vanessa Lau on LinkedIn

Vanessa Lau on YouTube

Vanessa Lau on Instagram

VAnessa Lau on TikTok

Vanessa Lau on Twitter

Jasmine Star

AJ Vaden on LinkedIn

AJ Vaden on Twitter

Rory Vaden

Rory Vaden on LinkedIn

Rory Vaden on Twitter

Take the Stairs

Brand Builders Group

Brand Builders Group Free Call

Brand Builders Group Resources

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Stitcher

The Influential Personal Brand Podcast on Apple

RV (00:07): Vanessa Lau has become one of my favorite people to follow. You know, recently I mentioned that Jasmine star, when we had Jasmine on that, I’ve, you know, known her for years and we become friends and I love her. I love following Vanessa as well. I learn a lot from her, but I’ll tell you what impresses me the most about her is her transparency. If you hit her YouTube channel, which by the way, has a half a million subscribers, the very first thing that you will see is a video that auto plays, which shows her crying. It shows her in real life, the starting her dream, her journey as like corporate escapee just a few years ago, like three or four years ago. And now she is a seven figure CEO. And she specializes like in, in teaching online course creators and coaches, unlike how to build their influence, she’s got more than 200,000 followers on Instagram. And she just has a, a, a really powerful knack for teaching practical things in a very, very honest way. I had a chance to interview her for something I was doing with success magazine several months ago, Sean Cannel vouched for her and said she was awesome Hansen, Chang. And we just got to meet and I really, really like Vanessa Laos. So Vanessa, welcome to, to the show. VL (01:23): Thanks for having me, Rory excited to hang out with you and have amazing conversation. Speaker 1 (01:28): So tell us just a little bit of like, I mean, a lot of the people that we have on this show are people who’ve been around a minute, right? Like you’re you have like shot to the top of this space, just terms of the, the size of your following and your impact, like in a couple years. So what happened? How did that ha like, how did that happen? Why do you think that happened? Like, just tell us the story a bit. Speaker 2 (01:56): I mean, I started about four years ago in 2018. I started with my YouTube channel and I never like, even you explain that I’m having like pinch me moments, cuz even for me, I don’t realize how much I’ve grown and how far I’ve grown. But I honestly think what contributed to my success was just being candid and honest. I never thought that I was gonna monetize. I never thought that I would be building courses in the future or just even having a, a company. When I first started, I created my YouTube channel because I was just in so much pain in my corporate job when I was trying to figure out how to quit it. And during that journey, when I was trying to figure out, you know, if I should leave, if I shouldn’t leave, I really couldn’t find any resources that I could connect with to help me with that taboo decision. Speaker 2 (02:44): When you decide you wanna leave corporate, you wanna quit your job. You don’t go around your office asking your coworkers for advice. You don’t really have a lot of friends or family to really support you through that decision if they’re also in corporate as well. And at the time I found so many resources of people explaining them, leaving their jobs, but all of those jobs were more so like service level, minimum wage entry level jobs. I couldn’t find any resources that were really for that person who like went to college and has a really high paying job and trying to make that decision. And so I went through a lot of pain to like figure out what was right for me. Then eventually when I did quit, I made it my mission to create YouTube videos, to help that person and share my story of why I quit my nine to five, what was my thought process, the pros and cons, and really documenting my journey of doing that. Speaker 2 (03:35): And I think that was kind of the the thing that made me stand out the most was the pure honesty, but also the niche that I was in at the time, I didn’t even realize it was a niche, but looking back, it was like me addressing a pain point that was really specific to a very specific type of person. And I, so I think that’s kind of what really helped me make my mark in the beginning. One other thing that I was really good at when I was starting out was building and community. I think that there’s a difference between building an audience versus building a community. When you’re building an audience, it’s like building a following, getting more views, getting subscribers and all that stuff. But building a community is very different. Building a community to me means making as many of your audience members feel seen, heard, appreciated, respected, and feeling involved in your, and one thing looking back that I did really well was the moment I started building the audience. Speaker 2 (04:25): I would invite them to a Facebook group and inside I would do even more trainings. I would actually genuinely try to get to know people. At the time when I had the time, I would also do really generous things. Like, you know, if, if you had a question and book a call with me and let let’s talk about it, let’s hang out and let me, let me help you as best as I could. And I think that’s what really helped me grow a lot faster was because I focused on the community building aspect without me even realizing I was doing that. To be honest, when I first started, I was so naive. One thing that I liked to say is I was successful because I was stupid because I really didn’t know any other industry leaders. I didn’t know any business, best practices. I didn’t know what systems and processes were. Speaker 2 (05:10): I didn’t know what were the dos and don’t. And so I just did what felt right? I did what felt human. I did what felt good to me. And at the time I just genuinely wanted to connect with other people because I couldn’t find that connection in my real life. Now fast forward to today, this is why I love teaching people about social media specifically is because through my journey, I really learned that social media has just done so many great things for me. It really put me on a international platform and it helped me connect with so many people like without social media, I wouldn’t have connected with you Rory. And so now I realize like, wow, my mission today is I really wanna help people just like me who have this like story to share or, you know, who have tips and advice that they want to give to other people so that they can avoid the same mistakes they did, but giving them that international platform, whether that’s YouTube, Instagram, whatever is in trend right now, so that they can amplify their message and help more people. Because through my journey, I’ve experienced the beautiful thing where, because of my videos or because of my Instagram or because of whatever I’ve helped, one person get 1% better. And as a result of them getting better, they are now helping other people do the same with whatever they learned. And so that is kind of my mission today. But to answer your question of how I grew so fast, I really do think it’s because I UN unintentionally understood the difference to between community and audience. Speaker 1 (06:39): Yeah. That’s a powerful distinction, you know, and I the, I think, you know, between com that component of community, and then also the transparency, you know, we were joking before we started the interview about how you wrote the world’s longest blog post at the end of 2020. And I read it, I read it because it was so honest about what you struggled with and you kind of hit, you know, you hit seven figures and you entered what we call the swamp. And we teach a lot of our clients is like, it’s really exciting to hit seven figures where the real work happens is, is truly between one to 3 million and, and getting to 4 million and beyond is a is a very much a case of what got you here. Won’t get you there. And most of us cuz you can’t do it alone, like you can get to 1 million by just being like a pretty bad mam Jamma, but like getting past three or 4 million is a totally different game and the team and you anyways, you were writing about some of those pains and I just you know, I loved it and it was really, really good. Speaker 1 (07:42): So on, on for the social media to talk about that for a second you know, Mo a lot of the people who have big social media followings had them because they amassed most of it before 2018. You know, this was even an I would, we would’ve even been in that category. So we sold all of our social media in 2018. You know, we kind of went, it went in the exit of our first business, but you started in 2018 and you also did courses. And I want to talk about the course business model because it was like, you know, 2018 was not early to the game. It was late to the game and yet you’ve grown really, really fast. And so when it comes to social media specifically, do you think it’s really cuz of that community aspect or, you know, are there other things to it you think that have played a big role? Speaker 2 (08:39): I think that one thing I, I like to say to my own followers because they always think that it’s too late to start something is just having the mindset of like, you know, it’s always going to be too late to be on a platform, but you know, today is better than none at all. And so that was the mindset that I had going in just as the FYI, because one thing I realized was like, wow, I’ve been putting start a YouTube channel, my new user resolutions for the last like five years, 10 years even. The best time really, if I were to be completely honest was probably when YouTube launched and a bunch of people discovered this whole influencing thing like that would’ve been the best time time to, to launch. So even in 2018, like I at the time didn’t feel like it was the best time because I missed so many opportunities. Speaker 2 (09:23): But even today I think that if someone’s listening to this episode, don’t think that even now is too late. I think that it’s it’s, you should just start. But in terms of other things other than building a community, I do think that it’s just, like I said earlier, like stupidity was my, my biggest advantage. Like I wasn’t, I didn’t even know who my competitors were at the time. And so I didn’t try to do the same things as everyone else did. I didn’t try to like watch someone else’s video and just basically copy and paste what they were saying. And so I think that especially if you’re trying to grow in a saturated market saturated, cuz that’s subjective. I think it’s important to almost shield yourself from some of that. So you can actually let your creativity break through. I think that you were just saying how, oh, I, that, that blog post that I wrote where literally outlined every single month, how much I made, even if I didn’t make a profit, all of my learning lessons, all of that, the reason why I did that was because I had noticed that everyone else during that period, during the new year period, everyone was talking about all their wins and all their successes and how awesome it was. Speaker 2 (10:34): And so I was like, you know what, let me just do something completely different to of that and talk about all of my failures and all the LS I took in 2021. And that, that, that blog post went viral. And so that’s an example of something that I still do today, which is doing the opposite of what everyone else is doing or having a more refreshing take on certain things. And I think that also helps you stand out in the crowd. I think even for me doing that and doing things different also attracted the attention of people who were even more successful than me. Like EV like even you RO you messaged me and you’re like, whoa, that blog post was amazing. It brought me back to back then when I was building my business and I was feeling a certain way. And you weren’t the only one I had people who had like doubled the following. Speaker 2 (11:18): I did message me about it because it, that blog post was circulating so much that it went up to them in their world. And so I know I’m talking about blog posts, but the same thing applies to videos and Instagram content and social media in general is when you actually have a different take on something, people tend to notice actually, people who are more successful than you, because it’s like, oh, this young person right here, or not even young, like this new will comer, holy. Like I didn’t even think about certain things like that. And so I think that from a even a personal brand standpoint is being different is your advantage. And if you are starting on social media, I think a big mistake that a lot of people make is like, oh, but I’m not successful. I don’t have a hundred million followers or I’m, I haven’t had X, X amount of years in business. Speaker 2 (12:03): I’m like, that is your advantage. What you think is not your advantage is actually your biggest advantage of being someone who’s starting out and being someone who’s new, not only from a con tent standpoint, because you might have a refreshing take on certain things that no one challenges or no one questions in your industry, but also it’s a lot easier to build community. You know, the reason why when I answered that question of yours earlier, I said, well, I used to, or back then I’m using a lot of past tense language is because back then I had the capacity to create eight community. And that was my biggest advantage that I took advantage of now with all these followers and all these subscribers, it’s a bit harder to do without a team. And so your secret sauce is what you actually think is your disadvantage, but I guarantee you that it is your secret sauce that you have to recognize within yourself. Speaker 1 (12:52): Yeah. I that’s, I love the, even there where you mentioned the idea of a blog, right? I mean, you know, blogging is like, oh, it’s so old school. Now we talk about the blog is the central is the central home headquarters of our digital strategy. And it’s kind of what we teach everything else is just sort of filtering because of SEO and et cetera, et cetera. But you know, just starting with that and going now let’s talk, can we talk about your business model for a second? So we Speaker 2 (13:23): Absolutely. Speaker 1 (13:24): You came out, it, it was the course. So your course is boss Graham academy. That was like, that’s been like your flagship. That’s like the, the first course you kind of launched and built and have built on, right. For the, the last few years that’s been your flagship. Right? Speaker 2 (13:37): I mean, the first thing I ever launched was coaching like one on one. Got it. And the reason why was because my videos, like honestly, when I started my business, I just want to be a YouTuber. My goal is like, I wanna be a full-time YouTuber, make money off of a sense. And you know, I’ll be happy with that. But what I realized is that as I was creating more videos, talking about my story, my journey, and, you know, eventually I started sharing some social media tips that were doing well for me, just cuz genuinely I wanted to share. I started getting like DMS from people being like, Hey, can I actually pay you to help me privately with a question that I have? And I was like, what’s this, you know, a few years ago I had no idea what coaching even was. And so that’s when I started experimenting and just taking on a few clients at first I did for free cuz I had no idea what I was doing. Speaker 2 (14:24): And I was like, is this even for real? Then I got confident cuz I was like, okay, I’m getting busy. I’m actually good at what I do. And people are getting results. So let me start charging. Then the next phase of my business was okay, no, now I’m booked out. I am booked out. And at the time I was working with 12 clients, which to some people isn’t a lot, but to me who’s just starting out. That’s a lot at once. Like for someone who doesn’t even know what they’re doing, right. And then I noticed like, okay, there’s some patterns amongst these clients who are the clients that I love working with, who are the clients that maybe weren’t a good fit? Who did I get results for? And through that process of working with one on one clients, it also helped me identify like what my strengths were too. Speaker 2 (15:01): Like there were some questions that I was like, mm, I could answer that, but I’m not really passionate about it. Or I’m not really qualified to answer this question. Other questions were asked. I was like, ah, this is like my zone a genius. So eventually because of pure demand, I was literally rejecting so many people and closing out my programs cuz there was so much demand from it. Thanks to the traffic that I was getting on social media. I then decided to package everything that I knew into a course. So I didn’t necessarily build a course because I was like, ah, everyone’s got a course and I’m gonna a lot of money from this. It was really because of like, okay, I’m basically repeating myself to a lot of these clients. I have a whole wait list of people that wanna work with me. So what’s the easiest way to like still create impact for people without trading too much time. That’s when I created the course and now that course is my flagship. Speaker 1 (15:49): Yeah. And that, that, you know, we talk about how services are always the fastest path to cash, but they’re the least scalable long term. And coaching is one of the services that has the least barrier to resistance. Like, you know, being a speaker, which is kind of how I came up as a classic kind of corporate keynote speaker. It’s a, it’s a hard road. There’s, you know, a long time for decision making and a lot of competition and you’re book events way out in advance. But when you’re a coach, it’s like, if somebody’s a fan, they could just hire you it’s and they can hire you tomorrow and you can like start working right away. But when you repeating yourself over and over and then going, I just need to package this. So how did you then launch the course? Right? So you, you realize, all right, I’m good at this. Speaker 1 (16:31): I’m gonna start charging started for free, love that. Super common in the journey. You’re repeating yourself. You go, okay, I’m gonna package this up. I get it recorded. I get it edited. Now it’s up inside of, you know, whatever, some LMS somewhere then what is the ma the mechanism or the process? Cuz we have a lot of clients that are in this, but, and they could even be like not online marketing coaches, they’re they’re, you know, whatever they’re CPAs or their lawyers or their, and they cannot, they can’t take on any more service based work. They have to commoditize that knowledge. And I don’t think the hardest part for them is creating what to say and getting it recorded. The hard part is going, how the heck do I sell that thing? So talk us through that. Speaker 2 (17:19): Yeah. Well I actually did it a bit different where I just sold the sales page first. So I marketed the program and I, I, I basically, I come from a corporate background and one thing that I learned from being in corporate was you all always want to prototype something. I learned this from one of the people who worked at Google that came in for a keynote. And basically what prototyping means is instead of just CR building the product first and seeing if people are gonna buy it, because you could waste a lot of money, time, resources, building a product that’s not gonna sell. When you prototype something, you just create like the bare minimum of what needs to be marketed and sold to. And then if there’s demand, then you build the product. A good example would maybe be like Elon Musk and his cyber truck. Speaker 2 (18:05): Right? Like he didn’t even build it yet. He just kind of sold the I idea on it are people interested, do a wait list, get a deposit. And then he uses that money to actually build the cyber truck. So that’s essentially what I did. Even back then, when I worked at keels, I worked for a skincare brand. I was doing marketing. We would prototype like skincare kits. Like we would create the mock up of what the kit would look like and the then just put it on the counter and see if there was anyone that would pick it up just to see if there was a demand for it first, before we actually built the thing. And so I use the same approach to selling. My course is I didn’t want to waste a lot of time. Like it’s a lot, it’s time consuming. Speaker 2 (18:43): It’s easy to do, but it’s time consuming work to film a bunch of modules, a bunch of lessons and figure or all that stuff out on top of marketing it. Right. So I just went straight to marketing it. I started off with just doing a poll. Hey, if I launched this program and it had these modules and these lessons, would you be interested? Yes or no? A bunch of people said yes. Okay, cool. Now there’s some sort of demand there. Let me go on to create the sales page and actually outline it. And you know what it would be, what would include now again earlier I said that one thing that made me stood out was community, not just building an audience but community. And so on my stories, I would tell people, Hey, I’m thinking of like creating this course. I haven’t built it yet. Speaker 2 (19:24): I’m thinking of doing these modules. What do you think? Or like, what lessons would you wanna learn? And so my audience felt invested in this product because they’re like, we’re basically building it with Vanessa. So obviously when I launched it, a lot of those people who built it with me kind of, they bought it because it was everything that they asked for. And so that’s kind of what I did initially was I pulled my audience just asking, Hey, I’m creating this program. And you know, to those listeners who, if you already have a course, this method still works is like making people feel involved in your launch, making people feel involved in the campaign. And so that’s kind of what I did. Then I launched the the sales page with all like, this is what we’re doing, all this stuff. We like, this is the time that we’re gonna start, but Speaker 1 (20:06): The thing still didn’t exist yet. You just created the sales page for it. Speaker 2 (20:10): No, I just created the outline in our everything. And then I also, like, didn’t say, we’re gonna start right away. I’m I, I basically sold it first. And then I said, we start a month from now kind of like when you register for school, like, you know, you’ve enrolled, you apply, you get accepted. Okay. School starts on this date. So I had like a month to kind of at least build something on the back end. And so I sold it and first launch made about $200,000, which was beyond me. Like I had no idea that I was gonna make that much, my very first course launch. How much was it? Speaker 1 (20:41): Like, it was Speaker 2 (20:41): Like, it was like, it was like a $500 product. So I enrolled quite a bit of people 40 Speaker 1 (20:47): Wait. Yeah. Several. What is that? Yeah, so it would be like 400 like 400 customers. Speaker 2 (20:53): Yeah. It was about like 400 customers. I think I had different price ranges. I had like 500 to like 700, depending on if you were an early bird or if you were I, yeah, I had different pricing tiers, but the total amount was about $200,000 that I made. Yeah. And I didn’t have, you know, this, the audience that I have today. So it was crazy for me. And did just like Speaker 1 (21:14): Tell people, go to this sales page and check it out. Or did you say come to a webinar or Speaker 2 (21:19): Did you do a so challenge? Yeah, you’re bringing me back to memory. So what I did was I was like so I, I, I did tell people that I was building this program and I was like, you know, polling people. I was doing market research. I had a Facebook group at, at the time too. So I also looked at what people were asking in my Facebook group to help inform what was gonna be in the program. And then afterwards I said, Hey, you know, I’m doing three free like trainings over on Facebook. Live of like not even a fancy webinar platform, nothing. It was just Facebook live, cuz that’s all I knew how to use. And so then I, I hosted three master classes and those classes really taught people kind of like here are the things that I’m actually gonna teach in the program. Speaker 2 (22:01): Here’s like a little preview and each training kind of walks through three different, you know, CATA GOs. Like one of them was about how to like find your niche. Second one was about content. And then the third one was about like, here are some Instagram like strategies that have been working really well. And then at the end of those trainings, I would just tell people, Hey, if you want to learn more about this or if this like really helps you out, I wanna let you know that I, my program’s ready. Like I have this program am now here’s the link to the sales page. If you wanna buy it by X date, we start on April 1st. Like, so that’s kind of what I did and I not expecting that. Speaker 1 (22:38): It’s not, but it’s like, it’s not rocket science. It’s kind of like, if you knew nothing about marketing, how would you do it? You go, I would, you know, come up with an outline, see a, if anybody might be interested, invite ’em to a free training and then offer ’em thing, it’s kind of like, you know, you go through whole foods and they hand you a, a piece of chip on a, a stick and they get a sample or, you know, my mom sold Mary Kay or like people do tapware you come to a party, you try on the makeup. You like, you see the product, you get a sample it and then you buy it. Like, it’s, it’s really not that rocket science. And like, I love how you’re saying that, you know, if you don’t know anything about technology, a start a private Facebook group, and that can be your email list opt in, you know? Speaker 1 (23:21): And then it’s like, you just go live and that’s the version of your webinar. And then people can VE mow you the money. Like there’s no reason not, not to to, to do this stuff anymore. Who, so who was who was the first person you hired? Like talk me through your team real quick. So you, you do that, you do that launch, you keep growing on social. Clearly you are reinvesting into your brand and your website and your team. How, how, how did you bring on the roles to start scaling towards your first seven figures? Speaker 2 (23:52): I mean, even with my first launch the, I only had one person helping me out and we don’t even know what her title was. She was actually someone from my community. And I remember I was, I was, is growing my Facebook group. Right. And, you know, after your Facebook group gets a certain size, it just kind of becomes chaos inside. Like I would say after like the 3000 person mark, it just becomes like a spam Fest. And you know, you get people who might have found you through cold traffic and just say really mean things or something. And so I actually had someone in my community D I mean was like, Hey, like, do you need help? I think you need help. And I was like, I do. I was like, can I let me just pay you like $15 an hour and just try to help me out. Speaker 2 (24:36): And so she was, I think looking back, maybe her title was more of like assistant or general VA. And so she started off just helping me moderating my free Facebook group. Then she also helped me with like designing lead magnets, like for my YouTube videos. Sometimes I would have a lead magnet attached to it to grow my email list. But when I actually did my course launch, you know, the fact that I didn’t create the program yet, she really helped me create some of the slides as we were drip feeding. So the basic to kind of close the loop on how I launched the, the program because I didn’t create the program yet. I had 30 months, like runway to just create something so that when people start on that day, there’s something for them. And so during those first, like 30 days, I created the first module first. Speaker 2 (25:23): And then as the program went on week after, I would just drip feed the remaining modules. And after each module too, I would have a feedback form so that our clients could like tell me, like what worked, what didn’t work. And so I would just adjust as I went. And so that’s how I got a lot of good testimonials and social proof on my program because it was exactly what people wanted and people needed. So I’m really glad I to like that approach. And so my first hire, what she helped me with was I would, because it was a lot of modules and like to do in a week, I was kind of like, that was a lot of work back then. I would just do the outline of my slides and then I would send it to her and she would make it pretty. And then when she made it pretty, she’d send it back to me. I would record it and then I would upload it to whatever course platform that you decide to use. So that was really what she helped me a lot with. And she also, Speaker 1 (26:13): You signed like skeleton slides of like, here’s the content. And then she would use like Canva or something. And like, Speaker 2 (26:18): Exactly. Like, I would literally use like aerial font, like just blank, like, you know, placeholder here, like please create like a, a picture of, of a graphic here. Like it was just really, really rough draft slides. But the content itself was all me. She just made it pretty and presentable and also checked for any spelling errors because when you’re in creation mode, like you’re just, there’s gonna be typos everywhere. Like, and she just polished it up and cleaned it up. She helped me upload it. And she also helped with just like interacting in the Facebook group not necessarily answering questions. It’s kind of what I still did at the time, but like rooting people on like, Hey, you’re doing a great job. Or she would just flag anything that I should know about, but I was pretty involved in, in my first launch and how I delivered the program. Speaker 2 (27:01): I also, after every module that dropped, I would do like a, an FAQ call or a Q and a call live. And so if people had questions about the material, I would answer those questions. Now, obviously this was my first time doing it. And that’s why I was so hands on. But to answer your question of how we sit scale to seven figures is eventually after each launch, I would, it, my, my involvement would be less and less because the program became better and better where it, the curriculum could really stand on its own at that point. And people could get results technically without me because the program was so refined and it’s been about like, this is our fourth, third year having the program, I think. And every time that we’ve done an update, we still keep in mind customer feedback and we just streamline the curriculum so much to the point where the version we have now basically can stand on its own. Speaker 1 (27:57): I love it. I love it. One last little quick, quick question. How much has paid ads played or no, not played a role in what you do. Speaker 2 (28:09): I it’s so funny cuz I feel like I’m one of those maybe rare entrepreneurs where paid ads don’t work really well for me. Most of my sales and traffic come organic, I believe maybe paid ads contribute to 30% of, of like one third of everything. But it is something that I still need to scale up and optimize. So yeah, but I have found that like obviously eventually with organic, you do start wanting, you do start going into paid ads to kind of increase your reach. But I am that one of those entrepreneurs where organic is still kind of my bread and butter in terms of how we get our results in our traffic. Speaker 1 (28:47): Awesome. Great to know. So where should people go Vanessa? Like if they want to connect up with you, see what you’re up to? I mean, obviously you’re on the socials. Is that, is that where they go or where would you point ’em? Speaker 2 (29:00): Yeah, my socials my YouTube channel is probably the best place. If you guys want to learn more or about social media, about building a business entrepreneurship, and if you wanna hang out on Instagram, that’s great too. I do a lot of more personal stuff on Instagram. But yeah, those are like the top two places. And then from there, you’ll see all the other places you can connect with with me with, so those would be the top two. Speaker 1 (29:24): I love it. Well, thank you so much for are sharing. Keep going. We believe in you like you’re you are so cool and there’s just no doubt the trajectory that you are on Vanessa. Like it’s gonna end up somewhere really, really exciting. And, and you know, you’re helping a lot of people, so we just wanna encourage you in your journey and, and thanks for being here. We look forward to watching it all unfold. Speaker 2 (29:46): Thank you for having me, Rory. This was awesome. Speaker 3 (29:50): Hey, brand builder, Rory Vaden here. Thank you so much for taking the time to check out this interview as always, it’s our honor to provide it to you for free and wanted to let you know there’s no big sales pitch or anything coming at the end. However, if you are someone who is looking to build and monetize your personal brand, we would love to talk to you and get to know you a little bit and hear about some of your dreams and visions and share with you a little bit about what we’re up to to see if we might be a fit. So if, if you’re interested in a free strategy call with someone from our team, we would love to hear from you. You can do that at brand builders, group.com/pod call brand builders, group.com/pod call. We hope to talk to you soon, Speaker 1 (30:37): What a fabulous and encouraging and practical and inspiring interview there with Vanessa. And I like, I mean, I’m, I really think Vanessa LA is cool. Like I have been following her and watching her she’s she’s humble and practical and not pretentious. And you know, you get a sense of that just from, from listening to her. So I wanted to take everything that she’s talked about and I’m gonna share with you kind of like my three highlights, which are, you know, I kind of take this as three steps to making money from social media and, and, and you know, she’s taking us on her journey. And then as, as I sort of assimilate that into what we know and teach and think about how does it apply to you to go, all right, if you wanna make money from social media, how do you, how do you actually do it? Speaker 1 (31:27): And I think the, the, you know, the, the first step that she talked a lot about is to basically let your difference be your advantage, let your difference be your advantage. I love when she was talking about how people take notice of things that are different. So the fact that you don’t do things the way that everybody else does, or that, you know, people who are already well known do gives you in advantage. Like you have the ability to take risks and to take chances and to do things differently and even be beyond that, she said, what you think is not your advantage is actually your advantage. I was thinking about how does that apply to us at brand builders? Like, you know, a lot of our clients have more social media followers than we do a lot more cuz some of our clients have millions of followers. Speaker 1 (32:20): Literally, and yet it’s like the thing that we would go, oh, well maybe that, like why would they hire us? Well, it’s because that’s not really what we teach. Right? Like our focus is not on making, you know, getting millions of followers. It’s on getting millions of dollars. I mean, frankly, like we’re really good at scaling the infrastructure, the strategy, creating you know, the systems, the operations and, and organizing things in a way to go. Like, how do you, how do you make a business? Like how do you actually build a business? And I, I changed my Instagram, like header here recently, you know, that kind of says what I do. And in a, it says helping personal brands build better businesses. And you know, that’s what I realized is like, you know, what we teach is business. And then underneath that, it’s like entrepreneurship. Speaker 1 (33:08): And then underneath that, it’s like specific for personal brands and, and that’s sort of like the, the place that we play in going, ah, they’re not hiring us cuz they don’t need that. The, they already have that. They know how to do that thing. So a lot of those things exist only in your head as insecurities and you know, self-doubt when really that thing, whatever that thing is that you think is your disadvantage often is your advantage. Like that’s what she was talking about is she was able to build a following so fast because she didn’t have a following. And she was basically documenting this whole journey and sharing what works and just being open and, and honest about that. And it reminds me of what Gary V one of the things that Gary Vayner check says, which I think is an awesome one, is don’t feel like you have to create just document, right? Speaker 1 (33:55): Like don’t feel like you have to create just document, talk about, share the story of you trying to build and learn about whatever the thing is that you that you are doing. And I think that’s super duper powerful. So your, your, your difference is your advantage. The second thing that she brought up, which I really love, and it was such a sharp, such a sharp distinction and, and such a quick distinction is there’s a big difference between community building. Like there’s a big, there’s a big difference between building a community and building an audience. Like most people on social media are trying to build their audience, right? They’re trying to like get a large number of people to pay attention, but they’re not actually that focused on building a community. They’re not actually, I mean, in, in here’s the difference to me, which she didn’t say this per se, but here’s how I process it. Speaker 1 (34:56): Building an audience means you’re broadcasting, right? It is one way communication. Building a community is, is multidimensional or it’s like omnichannel. So meaning not only is it two-way communication. So like to me, you know, an audience is you broadcast. When I do a speech, right? People hire me to come in and speak. I’m I’m broadcasting to an audience and it, and you know, there’s very little response other than like maybe a Q and a portion or people come get a book sign at the back of the room or whatever. And if it’s, so if it’s, if it’s one way communication, that’s a broadcast, that’s an audience. If it’s two way communication, that’s a conversation. But I would say that’s not even a community. So I do think that is part of it is going okay, let’s have a conversation. And that’s part of the power of, even if you think about web one, like one was basically broadcast. Speaker 1 (35:58): It was like, you could throw up a website. People could come read web two is social media, which is like, oh, now we can have conversation. Like I, you can leave a comment. I can reply. We can get to know each other, but it’s really even con connecting people inside that conversation separate from you. So it’s connecting two of your list centers or two of your fans or two of your clients. This is a huge focus of us for, of ours at brand builders group for our monthly members, because we now have almost 400 active monthly clients, 400 people that we’re doing one-on-one coaching with who are coming to our events. And what we’re realizing is, oh my gosh, the power, or like in addition to amazing world class content that we teach in our curriculum, the power is the community it’s going. You should do a podcast with you and you should be an affiliate for you and you need to help this person get into that company. Speaker 1 (36:50): And you guys should share speaking leads and, and you know, this person write Forbes and they need articles and you have this big story that they cover and, and that’s happening all the time. And so brand builders group is really transforming on, on the paid side of our business to community. I mean, the content is always gonna be there. We’re always leveling that up. You know, but the content’s dialed in, I mean, we spend a lifetime learning this and it’s, it’s like, we, we know it. It’s not super dial. It doesn’t change that often. It’s a lot to learn a ton. I mean, it’s, we have 14 different two day experiences in our full curriculum, but the community is the part that never ends and is always growing and strengthening. And so I just encourage you to think about that as like, are you even approaching social media as it is a one way channel of broadcasting? Speaker 1 (37:43): Is it a two way channel of communi, like of, of conversation or is it an omnichannel omnichannel or inter channel connectivity, which is really a community. And that community makes a huge difference. A small community can be tremendously powerful versus a big audience is not that powerful. Right. I think of the, the, like a billboard which is, you know, that reaches a huge number of people, but they’re not really engaged. It’s very passive versus a community is like, we’re living together. We’re doing life together. We’re so supporting each other. We’re we know each other, we’re helping one another and that’s a really, really big difference. And as you know, so conceptually, that’s the difference, I think, between building a community and building an audience now, pragmatically, there’s other parts of this that really roll out in terms of how does this work to your advantage when you’re monetizing. Speaker 1 (38:40): And I think it specifically showed up when she was saying, make people feel like they’re involved in your launch, give people a chance to have a backstage pass. Right. That’s really how what I think of like stories on social, or even like Twitter, you, you could think of it this way is, or Snapchat is they’re getting to see your daily life and like follow what’s going on. As you, as you document, as you document your journey. And so when you, you tell ’em the moment, you have an idea for a product and then you get feedback on it and then you kind of like share your rough out line and they get you feedback on it. And then you say, Hey, if I put this together, would, I mean, if you buy it and you get feedback on it and just, it’s almost like they’re sold by the time you create it because they, they wanna see it. Speaker 1 (39:26): Like they’re, they’re a part of, of creating it. I think that really applies for, you know, a book launch and for, you know, launching anything, certainly a course launch for her. So build a community, not just an audience. And then the third, the third thing here for how to monetize your social media is do a simple launch, do a simple launch. What is a simple launch to me, it is telling, you know, it’s building an audience and telling them that you’ve created something. And I guess I would add an intermediate step. I would say, you know, you gotta build an audience first. And that’s the part that everyone screws up. Everybody wants to build a product and then, and then find an audience to sell to. You have to flip that you gotta twist that around you don’t, you don’t find an audience after you’ve sold the, after you’ve created the product, build an audience, and then you build the product for that audience. Speaker 1 (40:21): Don’t build a product and then hope you can build an audience, build an audience, and then build the product that they need. And so if you flip that, then that becomes the first step is you, you build, build the audience. Then the second step is give ’em a free sample, give ’em a free sample, let them sample it somehow and then ask them to buy it, tell ’em how much it is, what it is, where they get it, how much it costs and ask them to buy it. And so often we get lost in the, you know, the technological complexities of all the different ways to do this. And of course there’s a lot of people that make a lot of money from teaching it and making it complicated. But you could do this, like with a Facebook group. It like, you don’t even have to have an email responder. Speaker 1 (41:04): You just start sharing content and you say, Hey, if you want more, come join our private Facebook group. And that basically functions as like your early email opt-in list. Now, long term, we would tell you, you need to, you need to focus very intentionally about getting people off of social media and onto an actual email list. But the point here is just that you could start right away without knowing anything and having any team or ever any technology leverage the idea of a Facebook group or a LinkedIn group. And you say, Hey, come join this group. Now they’re in the group, you’re posting content in there. And then you say, Hey, everyone inside this group, I’m gonna host of free training. And you could literally just go live and it could be one long free training, which would be the equivalent of a webinar. Speaker 1 (41:50): You could do three short trainings, which would be the equivalent of a video funnel. Like over a few days, you could do, you know, seven micro, 10 minute trainings five to 10 minute trainings over a week or 14 days. And now it becomes a 14 day challenge or, or something, right? It’s it’s, it’s not, we get lost. We get so lost. And when we so consumed with like, what’s the right technology and what’s the perfect process, and those things are important, they add a lot of value in there’s details. But the big idea is the same. Always it’s like add value to people’s lives, give them a ch you know, to build your audience, give them a chance to sample the product, and then let ’em buy the product. It’s the, the same thing that happens in the food court or at the grocery store. Speaker 1 (42:37): They, they, they let you sample it and then they B your chance to buy it. It’s the same thing that, you know, you do with a direct sales company. It’s the same way that you get booked to be a speaker, right? You go speak for free. You let people sample you, and then you let, ’em hire you to bring you in for more. So it, the modality isn’t so much important as just the high level concept of going create something awesome, like add value to people’s lives, make an impact, give them a chance to sample and then show ’em how to get more and whatever the mechanism is, the modality of how that happens. It almost doesn’t matter. It’s just that you’re doing that. You’re connecting with humans and you’re thinking about them as real people. And not just, you know, faceless entities with a credit card in hand that you’re trying to access. Speaker 1 (43:24): Like, that’s, that’s what you have to move past. So those are three steps. You know, I, I, I think there’s psychological steps. There’s, there’s three mindset shifts that need to happen that also have corresponding technical, you know, or practical action items that you could take. So I hope you enjoyed the interview. Thanks for tuning in for the highlights. We love you. We’re so grateful for you. If you haven’t left us a review, please leave us a review on iTunes, share this podcast with somebody who you think would benefit from it. Check out our free trainings that we, we have available for you request a free call. If you want to talk to one of our strategists about creating a custom plan for you. We work with all types of people, you know, billionaires and celebrities and people with millions of followers. Most of our clients have smaller followings. They’re they’re, they’re just beginning, or they just have an idea or they’re, you know, intermediate. So talk to us, right. Request a call and keep coming back more, more than anything. Just keep coming back. We’ll keep bringing awesome guests and sharing with you the best of what we know. That’s it for this episode, we’ll catch you next time on the influential personal brand podcast.

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25 of the World's Most Recognizable Influencers Share Their Tips on How to Build and Monetize a Personal Brand

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