The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast

What Creating a Course Has Actually Given Me

April 06, 2022 Serena Shoup, CPA Season 1 Episode 43
The Ambitious Bookkeeper Podcast
What Creating a Course Has Actually Given Me
Show Notes Transcript

In this solo episode I’m taking you back to 2019 & when I started the Ambitious Bookkeeper Brand. This is a behind the scenes of how it all started in case you’re new around here, and even if you’re not, you may hear some things you didn’t know.

This episode is really to give you a look at what creating a course has done for me and so many other people, so whether you’re interested in creating a course or just curious about the Ambitious Bookkeeper Brand story, you’ll have some takeaways from this.

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Welcome to episode 43 of the ambitious bookkeeper podcast. It's me Serena. And I'm here in a solo episode and I'm just going to, I'm going to take you back to 2019. When I started the ambitious bookkeeper brand. This is a behind the scenes of how it all started. If you will, in case you're new around here. And even if you're not, you may hear some things that you didn't know this episode is really to give you a look at what creating a course has done for me and so many other people. So whether you're interested in creating a course or just curious about the ambitious bookkeeper brand story, you'll have some takeaways from this. Hey, and welcome to the ambitious bookkeeper podcast. I am Serena Shoup. I am a CPA and mom of three, and I'm running a virtual bookkeeping business. Mostly from my home. You're in the right place. If you're a bookkeeper accountant or an accounting student, and you know that your purpose is bigger than sitting in a cubicle. If you're ready to learn some actionable tips and strategies to help you start and grow a bookkeeping or accounting business, I hope you stick around. So let's take it back to 2019. A couple of years into my bookkeeping business. My journey of creating the ambitious bookkeeper brand started out as me just helping people in the comments of Facebook groups. So I'm sure you've hung out in those Facebook groups. There's tons of groups out there for beginner bookkeepers, advanced bookkeepers firm owners. I was in any and all of the groups that I could. Get into, as I was building my business because I, I felt so lost. I needed that community. So I hung out a lot in those groups and. Uh, a couple of years into my firm, I was still kind of in those groups. Dabbling here and there. And I kept seeing a lot of the same questions coming up that I had initially that I had then at that point worked through. And so I would just share in the comments of, you know, my perspective. What I found worked, what didn't work. And eventually I realized I was like, I should. I should probably do something with this, with this, to make it easier than having to. Basically retype the same answers, slightly modified for each. Question. So what I did was I stopped and thought about. Maybe I should create a course. Of course there's tons of courses out there. And I really didn't see one that, that got to really helping people like me with an accounting background, but just really kind of struggling with the business building side of things. So I started, uh, you know, listening to podcast and following other people in the course creation industry, which I talked about a couple episodes back. And I came across Amy Porterfield and her whole. I guess approach is to start an email list before you actually create a course, which makes sense, because you can't just launch a course and everyone just come in and roll. There's a lot that goes into it. And the. The foundation is really building an email list. So I took her advice. I listened to lots of her podcasts and implemented things from her podcasts. And. The way that you start email lists is you have to have a lead magnet. You have to have something to attract people into joining your email list. And then you have to consistently continue to deliver value. So I thought. Uh, back to all of the questions that I was continuing to see. And so I created a lead magnet around them. Uh, that lead magnet still gets traffic today. People still opt into it. And little fun fact is I just recently updated it. I added some stuff to it, so it is new and improved, but this is. My onboarding templates. So originally I was seeing a lot of people asking, like, what documents do you. Uh, Do you ask your clients for when you're onboarding them and how do you onboard them and what do you say and how do you make it go smoothly? Like, it's really important to give new clients a good experience, right. So I basically gave away how I onboarded my clients. Like I had to figure out the list of things that I needed from them trial and error. And through my experience, working in a CPA firm, the things that we asked for and how we organize them. And so I created. Some onboarding templates, which included three or four emails of, um, different. Welcome emails that I send different types of clients, including the list of things that you need from them. And now it has been updated to include how to organize the files. Once you get them. Uh, And a couple other really cool things. So definitely check the link in the show notes. To grab your updated copy. But basically I was just gathering information from all the questions that I was seeing over and over and over again. And I was like, what's what are the most common questions? And one of the most common questions was how do you onboard clients? What do you ask for? So I created a lead magnet around that. I knew people already. They were already wanting that and needing it and not finding it anywhere. So I did that. And I also started a blog. So that's the other facet of starting your. Chorus business, or even this counts for a bookkeeping business as well. You've got to have a place that you're going to consistently create content and, and provide value. And yes, you can do that on social media, but I'm sure you've heard this before. Social media is borrowed real estate. You do not own it. When Facebook goes down or Instagram goes down, or if LinkedIn ever went down, you don't, you can't really export everything that you've uploaded there. You don't own everything. And you, you can't really capture people's email addresses. So it's important to have a place where you are going to consistently create content and. I teach inside my program. Consistency. Doesn't have to mean every day or every week. Uh, it just needs to mean that like you, you pick a rhythm that you're going to create content. And you stick to it. That is. Mostly how you reach. Visibility and success like where I've gotten has been not necessarily because I'm super smart I honestly don't think that I am like a genius or anything. I'm just really consistent. And I show up consistently. So I picked, I chose a blog because I, at that point did not want to speak into a microphone and I did not want to be on YouTube and do video and all that. So I was like, you know what? I like to write. It's easy for me. So that's what I'm going to do. I started a blog on my website. And mind you, this was my firm website. I had not created a separate website for the ambitious bookkeeper. I didn't even have a name for it. I just had a button on my website of, for my firm that said bookkeepers. So. I knew that if a bookkeeper came onto my website and saw that they would know exactly. Where to go. So that's what I did. I started a blog on my website, dedicated for get dedicated to bookkeepers and helping them. And I started creating weekly blogs. And with the, the blogs, I would try to always direct back to my lead magnet, where I could, where it made sense. I would, I would have that call to action. Um, So I slowly started building an email list. I shared the lead magnet in groups where it was appropriate. So I wasn't spamming people. I didn't like offer it up all the time. I just would, you know, I'd create value and answer their questions and say, if you want. Like my exact templates. They're on my website. You can, you can go grab them. They're free. And, um, and that's where I would leave it. I wouldn't necessarily drop the link. Um, unless it was allowed in the group, I would just let them know it's on my website. And my website is easy to find because I optimize my profile with my website in it. So I hope you're taking notes. There's lots of little pieces of information in here that will make your life easier once you catch on. So that's how I started building my email list. And it was a very small list. But I had really big dreams and just a heart to serve. And that has what has gotten me to where we are today. Uh, so I initially started with that lead magnet and then I started creating kind of an outline of what would eventually become the bookkeeping business accelerator. And, uh, w. Continuing to add to that based on the questions that people were asking and where they got stuck and where it would make sense to like. You know, Fast track things, instead of doing things out of order, like I did, I kind of put things in the order that would make sense. Like if you put it. You know, we all learn things in the wrong orders, basically. Like when we're figuring things out. Um, so I put things in an order that would make it be easier for someone starting a bookkeeping business. So like step one, like. Figure out your name. Step two. And whatever, right? So, um, I actually still have that checklist. It is also a lead magnet it's available for download, um, at ambitious But. The point is, as I started creating that outline based on what I knew people were struggling with. And then I put it in a format that was easier to digest and to understand. And I actually asked people, I was like, Hey. If. Per chance I created this thing. That's like, you know, a 10 page PDF, but basically gave you the steps to starting a bookkeeping business. Would you want it, and would you pay $27 for it? And when I got some yeses, I was like, all right. So I kind of fine tuned my outline. It was all in a Google doc at this point. And then I created a PayPal link. And I put that on my website and I started, uh, you know, promoting it. So I promoted it to my tiny email list. I think at this time I might've had like 10 or 15 people on my list and no joke, 10 or 15 people that. Opted into my onboarding templates had given me their email address and I was continuing to email them a weekly, just valuable stuff. So I would write a blog and I would email them. About the blog that I just wrote and tell them, you know, go to my blog to check this out. And so I'm just providing value in the emails. So I pitched it basically to my email list and was like, Hey, I'm going to create this thing. It's going to be $27. If you're new to starting your bookkeeping business, and you're struggling with this, that, and the other thing, it's all going to be in there outlined for you. And, uh, so that's what I did. I put a PayPal link, very, very scrappy. I've put a pay with PayPal link in the, in the email. And the first person who bought it, actually, I got to meet her in person at Alyssa's very first retreat, which is so cool. Um, you know who you are, if you're listening. I don't want to call you out, but she raised her hand and was like, yes, I want this. She gave me 25, 20 $7. And I was very upfront on the page with the link. The PayPal link was like, this is not done yet, but once you buy, you'll get it in 14 days. So that gave me two weeks or maybe it was less than that. Now. I can't remember. It might've been seven days, actually. I might've had a quicker turnaround because I didn't want to have to make people wait. But I said, you know, You'll get it within this timeframe. And then I got to work. Creating it. And I enlisted my part-time bookkeeper. Uh, who is still with me today, she does our graphic design. Um, and I was like, Hey, I need your help creating this PDF. And we need to have it done in seven days. Work your magic in Adobe or whatever. Magician software you use. And so that's what we did. I just gave her the outline of my Google doc and, you know, kind of how I envisioned it to look. And we did a couple iterations of it and edits, and then we sent it off to the people who bought it. And then from there forward, we just, I was like, this thing is kind of taken off. And by this time where. At the very beginning of 2020. So you might remember what was starting to happen. And it was, you know, sometimes. Sometimes success does happen because timing is really well, really, really good. So I don't want it to dismiss that fact. Um, I was not trying to capitalize on what was happening in the world. I had actually already started this process. I was already running ads to. Um, this PDF. Um, probably started in February of 2020. I had been starting to run ads to it. And, you know, I figured if I, you know, put five to $10 in ads to it a day, And one person buys it. I'm making a profit because it's $27. And even if I'm not like I'm still helping, I'm building my list, I'm reaching more people. So that's what they call a self-liquidating offer. So when you see these tiny offers and you know, really not cheap, but like lowly low priced offers like PDFs or. Th, you know, mini courses that are. Usually under a hundred dollars or less. That's what it is. It's a self-liquidating offer. And generally they're being used. I'm giving you all the background. Behind the scenes information, generally they're being used. To build email lists to grow their audience, to reach more people, but not be in the hole with ads, because otherwise you would just be, you know, dumping money in, in ads and not, you know, not really knowing if. It's resonating or, or whatever. So. Uh, that's what I was doing. I started in February of 20, 20 running a little bit of throwing a little bit of money toward ads and it was liquidating, which means it was. Um, I was still, I was still coming out ahead, so I was probably making five to $10 each. Oh on these PDFs. And then mid March happened and I, the PDF just kind of blew, like, it just started blowing up, like the ads I was getting like 10 or 15 sales a day of it. And I was like, holy crap, like what is going on? And then I watch the news, you know, I know I knew what was going on, but, um, It's just timing helped for sure. Because I was marketing this PDF that was trying to help people start a bookkeeping business, people that with an accounting background. So there's tons of people in accounting now told not to come to work and they're like, well, shoot, what am I going to do all day? While I sit around for two weeks and wait, maybe, maybe this is the time I start my business. And then two weeks turned into three months and then three months turned into here. We are three years later, basically. Um, two and a half years later. So that is how the ambitious bookkeeper brand started. Um, that's the whole backstory. It started with a, a lead magnet and a, um, A blog. And then a tiny offer or a self-liquidating offer, whatever you want to call it. And, um, then I had, at that point, like I quickly. Built my email list to about a hundred people that I was emailing every week. Again, continuing to provide value. Um, And at this point, I decided, okay, I'm going to go all in on this course thing. So I enrolled in some other courses to help me grow. And I talked about those in a previous episode too. So if you want to go back to that, it was episode 41 or 42, I believe 41. Um, And. I I had to. Get way out of my comfort zone. Essentially, I had to learn how to get on video. Cause I was getting ready to like create a video course on how to start your bookkeeping business. Um, so what I did was I created a three part training. This was prerecorded, which honestly I think is harder than life. Now that I've done both. Because you, if it's prerecorded your. You're more likely to watch it and be like, this is horrible. I'm not going to put this out there, which I did a few times. I rerecorded it multiple times. And then finally, I was like, I just need to send this out because I'm, I know I'm my own worst critic at this point. And I am. I am literally preventing other people from being able to have the information that I have to share. So. Um, Like I said, now I do live launches, which means like I teach the workshops and I do it all live. It's the same content every time. So I'm pretty comfortable with it now, but, um, yeah, so I sent it to my email list, basically in an invite and an offer. Um, after this three-part training, I was like opt into the, you know, opt into this three-part training at the end of it. Um, I'm gonna extend an invite to you who, anyone for, you know, anyone who wants to continue to work with me? Um, so at the end, uh, I invited them to join me in the very first cohort of the bookkeeping business accelerator. And six people joined. I still keep in touch with them today. And so that was in, I believe, April of 2020. As you can see the timeline, like. Um, February, March, April like that at three months is not long enough to create a course by the way. So I want you to keep that in mind that I didn't actually have it created. I was validating everything along the way. I was validating the lead magnet. I was validating the PDF. I then was validating this idea for a course, like, are people willing to pay $500 at the time? It was $500. You're probably like, oh my gosh, I wish I could get into BBA for 500 now. But it was a very, it was, it was just an idea. It was just an outline. So I took what was in that PDF and beefed it up into like six modules. Um, taught it over the course of six weeks. So I did a module every week and, um, I didn't teach it live. I recorded it, but I drew it. I recorded it as we went that way. I could adjust the content based on the feedback from the girls or the women that were in the course. Um, And we would have weekly coaching calls and I would drip weekly content. And we would talk about the content where they were seeing, you know, having hang ups and where, where they need extra support in. And so over time, I just kept all those notes and added stuff into BBA, took things out and, and made it better. So. What is really interesting is that these women thought that I was helping them start a bookkeeping business, but they were helping me gain the courage to start my online course business and help more women and men just like them. Wanting to create something bigger and leave the corporate corporate hustle, hustle culture, and be present for their families and that my friend. That is the ripple effect. So let's get into what the course has actually given me. It has. The, you know, building a course, rather the course online course business that I have, it is forced me to stop playing small. Each time I launch I'm pushed more and more out of my comfort zone and it isn't necessarily that I push myself, although my goals do that for me. Uh, but also other people, my coaches, my mentors, my team, my biz bestie, all of these people are conspiring for me. By pushing me out of my comfort zone. It has forced me to work heavily, heavily work on my perfectionism. I know it's like rampant in our industry. Um, it's probably one of the worst. You know, it's just like one of the worst things in our industry is, uh, all of us are such perfectionists. I never would've been able to launch something before it was actually created much. You. Much less. Perfect. Unless I learned to embrace this one, mantra done is better than perfect. And I know I've said this on this podcast before. But. Just continue to repeat that to yourself done is better than perfect when you're hung up on. Trying to get something exactly. Perfect. Ask yourself, like, is it more important to be done with this and get this finished or is it more important to have it? Perfect. And I know sometimes that there's a gray area. It's hard to figure that out, but if you really are having difficulty figuring out if something needs to be perfect or just done. Ask someone else ask for a second pair of eyes. Um, I also held myself accountable to actually creating the dang thing by launching it first. There's. Nothing better than an accountability buddy. Like having people. Having given you money. To create something and deliver it. To actually make you deliver it. It forced me to work on my mindset around what is possible. Like I said, I set really big goals and I rarely reach them. You guys. I rarely reach my big goal for each launch. But I'd rather reach 50% of my big, scary goal than a hundred percent of a tiny goal. Wouldn't you? Uh, when I started learning everything around marketing, my course, creating the course, building the email list. I invested in myself in programs. I wouldn't have otherwise. I started working with coaches. I wouldn't have felt the need to work with before and thus being in the room with people doing really big things. And one thing I've learned over and over again is being in the room with others who have essentially cracked the code. Is like Mario eating a mushroom and growing to double his size. Yes, you still have to take action, but there is. A type of magic and seeing others who really are not much different than you. Human beings doing what you want to do. It proves that it's possible. And then you start believing in yourself. And the others. Your peers and mentors begin believing in you. It doubles the power. It gives you the momentum that you need to keep going. It gives you it's given me creating my course, obviously it's given me extra income and yes, the extra income has been a plus, but in fact, it's not so much about extra income, but being able to do bigger things. Increase that ripple effect, help more people grow a team and create a better work culture for those who don't necessarily want to be an entrepreneur, but still have so much to contribute to our field. It feels really, really awesome to be able to create. Uh, a work environment for people where they thrive and they enjoy coming to our weekly team huddle and they enjoy contributing and helping people in our field and our clients. It's given me a creative outlet. This is probably like one of my favorite things. I've said this before on the podcast, but I don't resonate with being called a numbers nerd. Sorry, Mike, if you're listening. But I don't consider myself a numbers person and I never have. I'm a musician and I'm an artist I'm creative, but I happen to be really good at accounting, just not math in my head, which is probably a story. Honestly, I've told myself my whole life. So probably one of the biggest joys I've actually gotten from creating a course is the actual creation of it. I love teaching. I actually fun fact started out as an elementary education major in college and just kind of accidentally ended up in accounting. Story for another day. I love creating graphics and updating my website. I love creating new offers, sharing value on social media. And writing sales pages and emails like how ridiculous I loved writing the blog. I love writing. And I love creating this podcast. And I hope you enjoy listening to it. Playful is too short to not be doing something that brings you joy. So like, if you don't love listening to this podcast, just turn it off. Find a new one. But chances are you've made it this far in the episode. I'm hoping you love it. I know that not every day will be rainbows and sunshine, but in generally in general, And generally you guys it's really late to. In general. I truly love mentoring you here on this podcast. In my groups. I programs on social media, wherever you hang out with me, it's such an honor. This brand would not be what it is. Today without you. Okay, now that that love Fest is over. Lastly building courses has taught me so much about marketing the way people buy, how to communicate. And how to bring value. And what people value internally and externally. And all of this has trickled into the way that I run my firm. It is connected me with people who have helped me grow both businesses. So, if you're thinking about creating a course, my last episode may have seen like the cold, hard truth that it's not all rainbows and sunshine. It's not that easy, but I hope this one is like the opposite of that. So I guess that would be like the warm, soft truth as opposed to the cold, hard truth. The potential upside is so big. Even if your course were to flop. If you put in the work to learn these things, get into this world, be around the right people in this industry who actually care. The internal growth you'll see, can be life changing. And with that, my friend. I hope that you check out the show notes for some links, because I definitely talked about a few things that I'm going to be linking up. Again, I truly, truly appreciate you tuning in each week to listen. And I'm honored. I am absolutely honored to be in your earbuds every year, every year. Every week. And I don't know if you use earbuds anymore, maybe use AirPods or headphones, or maybe you're playing it on blast and it's in your car speakers. And, uh, and your kids are repeating my kids at the end of this episode. I love that. I just want to thank you from the bottom of my heart, because those brands truly would not be here without you. , And I will catch you. Next week. Thank you to everyone who helps make this podcast possible. Content and interviews are produced by me. Serena Shoop our intro and outro music is written and performed by my brother. Ian Gilliam editing is also by Ian using his awesome sound engineering skills along with the script software hosting and publishing is by Buzzsprout and you can. The show notes for links to all of these amazing resources and resources mentioned in the episode.