Episode 079: Show Notes
Today on the podcast, be prepared to laugh a lot because Allison Marshall is a handful. We had a ton of fun interviewing her, as we go back a while. We met up with her for coffee sometime last year and since then, we have partnered up on a few creative projects and it has been really fun to see her and her business grow as she’s transitioned from a full-time wedding photographer into teaching other creative entrepreneurs how to grow a profitable online business. She is here to share her story and the steps that she took to make all of that happen, so if that’s something that you’re wanting to be doing, then this is the episode for you.
Be sure to listen to how Allison transitioned from wedding photography to online sales. We also talk about the things that actually helped her make it happen, like getting people on her list and attracting the right kind of people. She shares her thoughts and processes on being yourself in your brand and things you can create for an opt-in to get people on your list, and also does a quick brainstorm of all the different tactics that she uses and how she is successful at getting people on her list. You can copy and paste those with some freebies that we’re mentioning today! We had a lot of giggles, a lot of passionate yelling and a really good time. Can’t wait for you to get into this one.
The Juicy Background Story
Allison always knew she wanted to start a business, but it all started in 2010. She always loved taking photos, was obsessed with weddings and was actually a wedding planner before becoming a wedding photographer. Allison didn’t even own a real camera so she ordered one, got her site up, got a Facebook up and within months, she had already booked enough clients to go full-time, which was great. Within a year, she moved back to Kansas City from California and decided to just do the photography thing. But about three years in, Allison started to feel like she was falling in love with the business side of things, like the marketing and the branding. She had started a blog in 2006 and was obsessed with blogging. People were constantly asking her questions so she started blogging about some business tips and tricks. Allison was still shooting weddings and doing a few business tutorials here and there, but it wasn’t until January of 2015 that she decided to take down her main blog. She totally rebranded it, and that’s when Wonderlass was born — an online business of teaching other entrepreneurs.
Launching the ‘First Paid Product’
Allison’s first paid product was a tangible planner which she launched at the end of 2015. She kind of did it backwards, not really paying attention to what people were asking for. She just created something that she wanted — a planner where she could plan her blog and her business and her life, all in one place. That was the very first thing Allison did and it did well — she still sells it every month. She had no strategy behind it other than that she just wanted it for herself. She opened it up to creatives and business owners right out of the gate.
Side note: Allison loves photography but didn’t want to teach it because ultimately, she fell in love with the marketing and the branding side of things. All she wanted to do was help other people start businesses so that they could have a job that they also loved. That’s what she decided to focus on out of the gate.
Growing An Audience and Building Your Email List
Allison knew she had to build a list to grow her audience but she kept ignoring it. She was stuck at 28 subscribers for an entire year. So the very first thing she did with Wonderlass was to start growing her list. She created a branding workbook to help people infuse their personalities into their brand because that’s one of the things she’s really passionate about. She immediately had a few hundred people in that first week. That’s when she started dabbling in Pinterest, where the workbook got a lot of traction. Allison shared it on her blog and then started to do a lot of content upgrades, which also grew her list. There are lots of other things she does now but, those were the initial steps she took. After that, she just focused on creating things she knew that her audience wanted and sticking them into blog posts. Allison’s advice is that instead of coming up with a new freebie every single time you do a blog post, you should come up with an awesome freebie that you know your audience wants and then plan out around 5 to 10 blog posts on the topic of that freebie, including it in each post instead of having to make a new one every single time.
The Game Changer
Although it feels like it’s been so long, it’s only been two years since Allison started Wonderlass. Within that first year, just her content upgrades alone got Allison about 10,000 subscribers, but the thing that really took it over the edge in 2016 was doing webinars. Doing both solo and joint webinars grew not only her email list, but every aspect of her business. By doing webinars you start standing out more, people start hearing about you more and then people start inviting you onto to their podcasts. She started getting more traffic as a result of getting in front of more audiences and that was resulting in more opt-ins, meaning her list started growing. Allison is super passionate about webinars, and they were one of the biggest things that grew her list in 2016.
Getting Your Audience Warmed Up to the Idea of a Webinar Partner
First, no matter who you’re going to partner with, you want to make sure that their audience is similar to your ideal audience. If their audience wants something totally different to your audience then it’s really not going to benefit you much. You want to get in front of an audience that is actually filled with people you want to get involved with. Second, you want to partner with people who you actually like and admire, who have awesome quality stuff that you love. When bundling, it’s really good to make sure that you are offering things that complement rather than compete with each other — you don’t want to be selling two things that are totally unrelated or two things that are competing with each other.
Staying True to Yourself
When it comes to staying true to yourself, you have to be really clear on who you are, what your passions are, what makes you different, your quirks, and what you are good at. You then need to figure out a way to infuse that into every aspect of your brand in your business. Ultimately, you need to be clear on who you are trying to attract. Now more than ever, it’s important that you are differentiating yourself from everybody else, plus it is more fun that way. When you are trying to be someone you think you have to be or copying someone else because they are successful and you think you need to copy them, it’s no fun and it’s probably not going to work out for you in the long run.
Advice to People Who Are Just Starting Out
Allison tells us that you don’t have to have it all figured out right from the beginning. You are not really going to start learning things and figuring out what you truly want to do until you just start doing some stuff. So it’s totally okay to realize that it’s a journey. Don’t be afraid to be who you are. Pick your one thing and focus on that, especially when you’re starting out. As you grow, you can broaden your focus because you’ve already established yourself, but the more focused that you can be in the beginning, the easier it’s going to be for you to really find your tribe and become really good at your one thing.
- The juicy background story and how it has shaped Allison over the years of business. [0:04:43.3]
- Launching your ‘first paid product’ and how to make the leap into it. [0:09:23.1]
- Understand the tactics used for growing an audience and building your email list. [0:12:10.2]
- Find out more about what has been the big game changer for Allison. [0:16:15.3]
- Getting your audience warmed up to the idea of a webinar partner, instead of flying solo. [0:17:45.1]
- Staying true to yourself and unraveling exactly who you are underneath it all. [0:31:26.4]
- Advice to people who are just starting out, what to watch for, and how to prepare. [39:42:7]
- You need to create what so many people have referred to as the perfect freebie
- Figure out what your people want by asking them and then make it.
- Once you make it, you need to actually get it in front of people, so do link exchange with partners.
- You’re going to put yourself outside of your comfort zone, you’re going to have to reach out to people and you’re going to need to start getting in front of people’s audiences with your amazing freebie that you know people want because they told you it’s what they wanted.