Ep 099: Ask Allie Anything About Business Part 2

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It’s part two of the “Ask Allie Anything About Business” episode and I am so excited to continue chatting all things business with you guys! I absolutely love talking about this. I'm very passionate about business and I think it's so important for people, especially women and mothers, to find a way to create revenue and income based on what they're passionate about. If you want to have something aside from your role as a mother and a wife, and that's a desire that you have, I think it's absolutely possible for you to create that without leaving the house, if that's what you want! I love helping people with that. It's what I did and it's what I help people do on the side. So let’s dive into part 2 of this Q&A!

 
 

In This Episode Allie Discusses:

  • How she started creating online courses and how she makes revenue from them.

  • Ways she monetizes her blog without using ads.

  • The right way to build a brand before building a huge audience.

  • Whether an LLC is important and if you should have one for your business.

  • The best ways to promote your brand on social media.

Mentioned in this Episode:


Where are my business-minded mama's at? I have something for you that I'm super excited to be sharing. If you've ever wanted the behind-the-scenes and inside scoop on how I grew my business from a tiny hobby blog with zero income to a multiple-seven-figure-per-year corporation, I have so, so much to tell you!

I've compiled all my favorite resources, books, courses and advice. A brain dump of everything that helped teach me what I know now and get me to where I am today (other than a lot of blood, sweat and tears and some serious hustle and late nights.) I've put it all together for you guys and it's in the Online Business Cheat Sheet.


who doesn't love a GIVEAWAY?

Reviews are everything on iTunes! Would you take a minute and click here to leave a review? Email hello@alliecasazza.com with a screenshot of your review on iTunes. You'll be entered to win one of Allie's amazing courses for FREE!  

If you have a question, comment or a suggestion about today’s episode, or the podcast in general, send me an email at hello@alliecasazza.com or connect with me over on Facebook & Instagram


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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and I know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is The Purpose Show.

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Hi, beautiful! I'm so glad you're here with me today and I'm really excited to jump into another discussion about business. These “ask me anything” episodes are basically a rapid-fire Q & A style episode where I read questions that have been pre-submitted usually on social media, sometimes via email, from my listeners and they want to know about different topics, so we segment that off into genres and by topic.

We recently did one about business and we had so many great questions that we just couldn't fit it all into one episode. I really like keeping my episodes somewhere around the 30/45-minute mark and not going over that whenever possible because my listeners are mostly moms and we're busy. We've got a lot going on and it's very difficult to create more time than that to listen and I know the likelihood of you coming back and finishing an episode is not good. I try to help you out in any way I can, so we split it up into two parts. Today I'm jumping into the second part of the last time we opened up space to have you guys submit questions about business.

I absolutely love talking about this. I'm very, very passionate about business, not just what I do, but about business in general. I think it's so important for people, especially women and mothers, to find a way to create revenue and income based on what they're passionate about, if they have something like that. If you want to have something aside from your role as a mother and a wife, and that's a desire that you have, I think it's absolutely possible for you to create that without leaving the house, if that's what you want. I love helping people with that. It's what I did and it's what I help people do on the side.

I'm always happy to bring that here to The Purpose Show even though it's not really a business podcast, it's more of a lifestyle podcast. So, let's dive in.

The last time we did an “ask me anything about business” episode, we left off with questions that were about balancing work and family. We also talked a lot about the startup process of my business and a lot of really good top tips and advice that I have from my experience to pass on to people who are just starting out. Then we went into balancing work and family.

Today I want to dive more into courses and paid content, running the business, delegating to other people, things like that.

Before I dive into that real quick, I just want to say that for anyone listening who isn't aware, there are a few different ways you could start an online business. I dive really deep into that in the previous episode where we talked about business. I can link to that in the show notes. If you'd like to go back and listen, I think that'd be a great place for you to start, especially since I did mainly cover the startup process. If that's where you're at and you're interested in how do you even make money from a blog, that's a really great place to start.

I want to say that the choice that I made was not to do affiliate links and Amazon affiliate stuff and linking up products on my blog as a way to make money. Firstly, because it takes so much to even make something that's impactful and mainly because I really didn't want to send people away from my blog.

One of the first questions that we got today for this episode is asking me about that, so I'll dive into more detail about that. But I just wanted to preface this episode with the way that I choose to share my message and my passion and to create revenue from that is by creating online courses and online programs.

I have from the small things like paid PDFs that are really detailed workbooks that women can work through on their own sort of DIY style to create less excess in their homes and their schedules all the way up to the big giant courses. I have intentionally priced my courses really low. Most courses in the online business community are $1,000+ and it's like the more information that’s in there, the bigger the course is, the more impactful the course is, the higher price it is.

I've decided to settle on around the $300 mark. My course right now (at the time that I'm recording this) is $297 and I get told all the time - every time I join a business mastermind, anytime I talk with another powerful influencer - that my prices are way too low and I need to raise them. I have raised them by little nudges here and there as I've added value to the course and improved on it. But I've chosen to have lower price online products because I want women to be able to get into them and not have to be millionaires to afford them.

That's the background of my business setup and how I have money coming in from a blog-based business. Okay, let’s dive in.

How did you create your course exactly? I'm wanting to create a course about parenting and I want to know what the timeline, planning and execution looked like.

This is a very loaded question, but I will do the best that I can. First of all, anytime I'm creating any new course, or really any new online product of any kind, I do what I call a ‘brain dump.’ It's not the most feminine word in the world, but that's what it is. I literally get everything out of my brain and onto a Google doc. Open up that fresh page in your computer and just title it, “parenting course,” and let your brain get it all out. It's almost like your brain is congested with ideas and you need to just get it all out on paper. So, I start there.

It doesn't have to be pretty. I usually use a bullet-point, outline style. I'll do Bullet #1 ‘introduction to this parenting style.’ And then a subpoint might be, ‘why I don't think spanking works’ or whatever it is that you're going to say. Go through it and get it all out.

I don't overanalyze the order it's in. I don't overanalyze how deep would this lesson even go, what are all the sub points that I would say. I just get what's in my brain and what's flowing out as I'm writing out onto the paper until I feel, “Okay, this course is done.” Then I go back through and I reread it and usually more stuff will come out as I'm rereading the points that I wrote down. When I feel like, “Oh my gosh, this is good. This is a course. It's all out and it's all done.” That's really good.

In terms of the timeline, usually about 90 days is what it takes. If you were to really focus and get it, like really focus in and get it done, you would probably need about 90 days. I have done a course in less. I've done a course in two weeks and I've done a course in over a year. I've done a course in three months, six months, pretty much everything. And the thing is, is that it doesn't have to be perfect. Just get it going. Get it to where it's finished for now and put out into the world. Price it low at first so that you feel comfortable and confident with people getting in there and giving you feedback. Let them know, “You guys are my first round of students and I'd love to give you this awesome discount, have you tell me what you think, give me feedback” and use that to your advantage.

After the brain dump, that's kind of starting the 90-day timeline. 90 days is what in the industry people say, and I agree, is typically a good amount of time to bust out a decent course from idea and brain dumping all the way to launching it out into the world.

After I get everything out of my brain onto the paper, then it's time to think it through in terms of organization. I like to do this with post-it notes. When I was making all my courses I had these two big whiteboards on my wall that were side by side. I would get different post-it notes out in all different colors. I wrote on the whiteboards “section 1, section 2, section 3, section 4” of my course. Each course has a different amount of number of sections or modules. Sometimes I call them modules, but it’s basically just breaking it up. If it was a book it would be the chapters, or maybe the sections of the book, or the acts of a play and there's different ‘takes.’ Does that make sense? You're breaking down into big sections and subsections for the lessons.

I would write that out and then I'd use the post-its to write the lessons on. So, I would take the brain-dump Google Doc and I would say, “Module #1.” And I would go through that Google Doc with all of the ideas that I had put onto that paper and say, “what seems foundational goes here” because obviously section #1 is going to be the foundation of what you're teaching.

For example, in Your Uncluttered Home, which is my biggest course all about minimalism and getting that all the way through your house and making it work for you, that’s the big one for me. So, in that one I have the foundation module is module #1 or section #1.

Basically, it starts with first of all, here's how to access your course, and how to use this platform that I use for my courses, which is Teachable. (By the way, Teachable is the best. You should use them.) Then I say, okay, first of all, what is minimalism? First of all, what's the deal with all these other philosophies of perfectionistic minimalism and legalistic minimalism and why it’s not going to work for you. Cause you're a mom. How to make this work for you. How to make it real. I'm setting it up. How to deal with tough emotions that come up when you're decluttering. How to deal with if your husband's not on board with this. What do you do if your kids are pushing back? What do you do if your relatives are being really difficult and pushing back and you feel really unsupported?

What do you do with tech stuff that you want to get rid of? Should you sell or donate your items? What do you do with what you're donating? What do you do with what you're selling? How do you sell it? How do you not end up holding onto everything because you're not making money off of it? All of these foundational things that need to be addressed before we can start to purge. Go through your content and “what is foundational.”

Then you get into the ‘heart’ of your course, which for me is the actual decluttering. So, do the next section ‘the heart of what you teach.’ Anything else after that is going to be what does maintenance mode look like for what you teach, if that applies. What are the bonuses? What are the extra things, “Oh! Also, before you go you need to know this.”

For me module #3…after the decluttering module, the heart of the course, the next module is maintenance mode. Intentional shopping and being mindful while you shop. Stopping the flow of excess and needless items into your home so you don't undo all your work. How do you handle your kids' birthday parties and holidays from here on out? You don't want to overdo it and undo all your work, but you also want to celebrate. How do you even do that? How do you store and organize certain difficult things like your kids’ art supplies? All of that ‘maintenance mode’ stuff.

Then module #4 is bonuses and extra things that help them take action. PDFs and workbooks, checklists, worksheets. 15-minute challenges if you just want to declutter something and you only have 15 minutes. Things like that. Things that are helpful to the course but are not the heart of the course.

And that's pretty much it. I would organize and put every single lesson title that I had wrote into my brain dump doc. I would write each lesson on a post-it note and organize it on the whiteboard underneath which module I thought they fit best in. Then because they're on post-it notes, you can move them around really easily. That really helped me to get visual.

In executing it, I decided that some of my lessons would be video when it's necessary to show something, but the rest of them would be audio so that people could listen podcast-style on-the-go, and these moms that were taking my courses could access it from anywhere - on mobile, on a tablet, on a computer, at work, wherever.

I started to outline the lessons and hit the main topic points of what I needed to say in the course in order to cover all the bases for that particular lesson, then I would hit record and just go for it, record my lessons and save them all to a folder on my computer. Then when I was ready, I uploaded them all to Teachable to the course and organized them

That was about 3 ½ years ago. Now Your Uncluttered Home has been refined, fine-tuned, changed, tweaked, and rebranded. All the lessons have been re-recorded and things added. My teaching style has evolved and gotten so much better since then. It's all new. But you know, a handful of my students got that course for $39 one day a long time ago. They're still in there. They've never paid a penny more and they get all the updates and all of that stuff.

I would encourage you to not be overwhelmed. Do what I did. Just start. And take care of your students. If you take care of your students, they're going to love you. And they've bought almost every other course that I have. Most of them have bought all the other courses that I offer because they know that I overdeliver and everything that I do is worth eight times what they paid and that I'm going to take good care of them and always make sure they get every bonus, every coaching call, anything that I ever ad for free moving forward. Once I have them, I love on them and I'm committed to them and they know that.

So, I think it's important not to get too overwhelmed with the creation of the course and remember to focus more on delivering good value and then taking care of your students moving forward.

Okay. Next question.

I was so inspired when I've heard you talk about why you don't do ads on your blog because you didn't want to send people away from your website and you didn't want to be paid to do that. Would you talk more about how you finally decided to monetize your blog and how you decided what your gifts were?

Yes. I'm really passionate about that. There's nothing wrong with people who do affiliate links. There’s nothing slimy or weird or wrong about that. Some people, the way they do it, there is absolutely something wrong with that. It's dishonest and they've never even used the product and they're just linking to their affiliate link so that they can make money and they don't even know if it's any good.

I mentioned in the last business Q & A episode that people will do that with expensive items. They know that the click is going to deliver a decent amount of a percentage paid to them. So even though they've never used it or even heard anything about this product, they'll simply link to it, write a blog post about it and totally make it up out of nowhere, just so they can get that SEO and land on the Google pages and get affiliate money from it. And it's just really slimy.

But not everybody who does affiliate links is like that. So, it's not that that's the wrong way to blog, it's just that I had a personal conviction I guess, that that's just not what I wanted. I had worked really, really hard to grow the little following that I had back then. I really loved everyone that was in my audience. I really loved writing. I really felt called to share my message, my journey, my lifestyle and encourage other moms. And I wanted to begin to make money from that, but I really didn't want to get paid to click people away from my website. My whole point was keeping them on there.

I also didn't feel good about talking about motherhood and then having a Huggies ad pop up in people's faces and get them to click away from my site. It just didn't vibe with what I wanted my blog to feel like. That was the first decision that led to that.

Then after that, I started to be aware of what I was really good at. I talked about a lot of different things on my blog back in the day. I started to survey my audience and also notice what I really enjoyed talking about and what I seemed to be really lit up about and what was my passion. And they ended up being the same things.

I felt happiest when I was talking about simplifying, clutter, my journey, and my story that I've shared so many times about how I was so overwhelmed, depressed and really struggling as a mom, and then simply by removing the clutter in my home, everything just got better. It was a kind of domino effect that leaked its way into every other area of my life. And people wanted that for me.

The other blog posts on the other topics as wonderful as those posts were and as helpful as they were, they just weren't getting clicked. They weren't getting read. People could feel the passion in me when I talked about the other stuff. So, I moved over into that direction and leaned into that. I leaned into what I was good at, what I felt good about, what people seemed to like and I became one of the top people in that niche. I think it's important to, like I said, lean into that.

What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? Most of the really good businesses that I look up to the people who started them and I admire how they run things, they all started from someone's story. They all started with someone’s difficult time and mine is no different. My blog, my business and everything that we've built today with this online company…it started from my hardship. It started from one of the hardest times of my life. I think that's really beautiful and it continuously fuels my passion for what I do.

Figure that out for yourself. Maybe it won't be such a dramatic story, but maybe you just really enjoy something. Maybe you already know what your gift is and you already know what people would benefit from when it comes to what you're putting out into the world.

Decide that that's what you're going to use to monetize your blog, your podcast, your website or whatever it is, and just start there.

How do you start monetizing your blog without sounding like all ad-centered blog sites?

What I'm going to say is that if you don't want to sound like all the ad-centered blog websites, you're going to have to probably not do affiliate links because I think no matter what people’s ears are tuned in to that sponsored Instagram post, that sponsored blog post, that affiliate link. I think if you really don't want to sound like that and it bothers you, create something new, create your own stuff.

When you're monetizing your business, your blog, your podcast, whatever it is with your own stuff, it's easy to sound ad-centered. I think the difference that I've learned is it comes down to being authentic. My lifestyle sells my products and I don't have to sound ads-y or sales-y. It's just facts.

The way that we live is in me and comes out of me. It flows out of me. I'm excited about it. People can see it. They see something different about the way my kids are with each other, with me and Brian. They see something different about us. They see something different about our house.

I'm very open and honest and I show how we live. I'm not really afraid to do that because I have nothing to hide. I think that authenticity shows up. People realize how cluttered and overwhelmed they're living and they want this life and I'm telling them that they can have it. “Here's the steps you can take and if you want further help you can get this course. That's why I made it.” It's easy. I don't have to sound sales-y. Even when I'm pitching the course on a webinar, interview or something it's very easy. It's just a natural flow because I'm not forcing anyone to buy something or telling them, “I am getting paid for this. You should go and click this link.”

It's not ad-centered and it doesn't sound like that because I'm just talking about my story, talking about what works and what I've seen work in hundreds of thousands of lives all across the globe in almost every single country. That's a lot to be said. I've seen it over and over again. They see it over and over again in my Facebook group, on my Facebook page, on Instagram, in testimonials, on my website, talking to their friends who have heard of me and have my courses. It's spreading because it works. When you have something authentic, you don't have to be all ad-centered and sound sales-y and annoying. It just is what it is.

You can tell them the points of your course. You can explain what's in it. You can talk about the features. You can talk about the bonuses that you're offering, the discount that you have and all that stuff and still not sound sales-y and ad-centered because they don't have to take it if they don't want to. It's up to them. If they want the lifestyle shift, then it's there. But if they don't want to spend the money for that and that's not their priority then that's fine. It doesn't matter.

I think it can sound really ads-y and sales-y when you're promoting a product that somebody else made, that you're getting paid affiliate money to promote. I don't really think there's much you can do to get around that. I've definitely seen some bloggers and Instagrammers do a better job of doing sponsored posts, but once you scroll through and you see that “here's this discount coupon code…” You know that feeling. You've all been there. I don't know if there's really a way around that unless you decide to start your own brand, which isn't for everybody. It's a big decision to make.


Where are my business-minded mama's at? I have something for you that I'm super excited to be sharing. If you've ever wanted the behind-the-scenes and inside scoop on how I grew my business from a tiny hobby blog with zero income to a multiple-seven-figure-per-year corporation, I have so, so much to tell you!

I've compiled all my favorite resources, books, courses and advice. A brain dump of everything that helped teach me what I know now and get me to where I am today (other than a lot of blood, sweat and tears and some serious hustle and late nights.) I've put it all together for you guys and it's in the Online Business Cheat Sheet.

Maybe you already have a blog or a platform and you want to grow it into a business. Or you don't have anything yet but you're wanting to get more information. You know you have some ideas but you want some resources. You wish you knew what are the best books to give my time to? What are the best courses? What are the best investments I can make in time or money to learn about growing a successful business?

I've given you all of my opinions in the Online Business Cheat Sheet and you can go get it right now by heading to alliecasazza.com/blogtobiz.


Okay, here's a good question. If you're really in need of income, can you build a product to sell before you build an audience as long as you know who your niche is? Unfortunately, I can't audience-build and product-build at the same time consistently with how much time I can spare and we really need additional income asap. This is a good question. So, this is what I did.

I had a little blog with barely an audience. I don't know the exact number, but it was really, really tiny, under 100. It was so tiny. Nobody knew I was there. It was so, so small. I created an ebook and I made a few sales from that. Honestly, the ebook was a total fail, but it made something. It brought in a couple hundred extra dollars; you know, it was supposed to make thousands, but that's okay. It brought something in.

I created little PDFs that were helpful about managing your time better, decluttering, things like that. Easy things that don't require you to have video/camera equipment and a microphone, just PDFs and stuff. You can sell those for $9 and put them on Pinterest. That doesn't cost anything. Pin your own pins. Ask your friends and family to try it out and see if they like it. And if they like it, ask them to repin it and help you out in that way if that feels right to you. I actually never did that. I just always felt weird about it. But if you have supportive friends and family, then you absolutely can do that. Also, even if you have 10 people watching you and looking at your blog, that's 10 people you could sell to.

So yeah, you absolutely can build a product, build small price products or one big price product before you build an audience. Just understand that the sales are not going to really roll in. There might be a couple trickling here and there, but what you could do is just get that product built and you could have it ready to sell on your website, make couple of trickle sales here and there and then go and work on building your audience after that. And then the product will already be there.

This is what I did. I started with the ebook and some PDFs. I had a lot of free stuff though. You have to give value to your audience. You can't just as Donald Miller says when he's teaching his StoryBrand philosophy, “You cannot meet somebody and then propose marriage to them. You have to date them and get to know them and let them get to know you and build that trust.” They call it the “no-like trust factor.”

Doing free things that help people is an amazing feeling. So much of my stuff is free. There's so much helpful stuff on my site and around for free. I mean this whole podcast is free. I don't do sponsorships. There's so many things like that.

But then if they really want to get “married” and they really want this lifestyle, they really want to go “all in” and they really want my expertise and to literally have me guide them through this process for them, then that's what the courses are for. Because this is a business. Even if it wasn't there was no way I could do all of that for nothing. Who has that time?

You can build the product and then when you get bigger, the product will already be there. And that's what's happened. That's what happened to me. I created my course with almost no audience and just had it ready. Then I got to work on my audience building and I wrote guest posts for other people. I hustled really hard.

I worked really hard spreading my message. I wrote awesome blog posts that got shared. The more powerful they were, the more they got shared. I worked really hard on becoming a good writer. I would partner with other people, other influencers, and they would share me on their pages and it grew a little bit at a time.

Then one day I wrote a blog post that went viral and when that virality happened, my product was already there. My course was already there so people were buying. If you've listened to episode six of our business story, that's where the $20,000 overnight came in because we had gone viral and the product already existed.

By the way, virality is not an accident. It can absolutely be intentionally done and planned. That's how mine happened. I intentionally planned to go viral. I knew I would; it was just a matter of timing. I just want to encourage you guys in that. I think a lot of people think that if virality is luck and it's absolutely not.

Anyway, what I was going to say was even before the virality, when I was just writing guest posts and slowly growing my email list and my blog by little bits at a time, 5, 10 people here and there on my email list, my course was already there and some people would buy it. Sales would trickle in. I had an email funnel set up. The sales were coming in, but they were very sparse.

That is how you can bring in income right away. It might be very small, but you can absolutely start with a product. You just need to be aware that you're probably going to have a lot of fine-tuning to do once your audience does grow. Be very open and willing to serving your audience, asking them what they do and don't like about it so that you can make it better and better and better.

These next couple questions are underneath the topic of delegating and not having to do all the work yourself. Let's talk about that for a little bit.

How did you know when it was time to hire someone to help you?

My story with this is a little bit unique. Basically, I didn't have anyone. I couldn't afford anyone. I did every single thing myself. I'd never outsourced a single thing. I learned how to build a website. I learned coding. I learned how to create opt-ins and PDFs. I learned every single thing I know from the Google search bar and I had to do it by myself. This is why I always say I basically didn't sleep and I was up super early and up late and just working my butt off figuring all this out because I couldn't afford to hire anyone to help me.

As soon as I would make money, we needed it for bills. We needed it for food. We needed it for stuff. So, I couldn't hire somebody.

Once the viral article happened and everything happened that way, we got a bunch of emails (it was like 700 emails in my inbox within that week) because the article that I wrote not only went viral, but it was trending over the first Presidential debate between Hillary and Trump of 2016. It was trending over that debate on Twitter and Facebook, so it was big.

It was a really big deal. People were freaking out about it. Some positive and some negative. If you've read the article, I'm not really sure how you could feel negatively about that. But I think I've learned, people can feel negatively about anything.

It had gone so big that I had 700 emails in my inbox and I was really overwhelmed. I basically fell on the floor in a little ball and cried because I didn't know what to do and how to handle all this.

So, I went into a Facebook group that I had been aware of that I was a part of and hadn't really used, and I posted, “Help!” I said how many emails are in my inbox and what had happened and I just really needed help. And one lady reached out to me. She was so sweet. She gave me her phone number. I didn't even look at the other comments. My eyes just zoned in on her name and I called her. She was so helpful, understanding and sweet. She congratulated me and said, “This is a good thing, not a bad thing. We don't need to talk about hiring. Let me just help you. Let me just spend a couple hours going through these emails for you and you can just pay me for that. We don't even need to work together in the future if you're not ready to hire anyone.” I was crying and I said, “Thank you so much,” and I hung up.

She did a great job. She answered every email in a few hours and she did a great job. Her customer service skills were amazing. I read through some of her sent emails and even the rude people ones were so nice. Her name was Kena and she was my first hire and my Virtual Assistant. She still works for me to this day and I adore her.

I knew it was time for someone to help me because I was in a ball on the floor crying. So, if you’re in a ball on the floor crying and you have some amount of funds to pay somebody, do it.

VA’s can be as low as $15 an hour and they're usually like up to $30 an hour. If somebody’s charging more than that, it's probably too high for just basic VA work (VA is Virtual Assistant.)

Kena started out at $20 an hour for me and I thought in my head, “Okay, well if I just need her to do like two hours a week…okay.” I could afford that a month because I knew we had a good amount of money coming in. And I knew it would be okay. I was still terrified that I would somehow go broke, but I just did it because I knew I couldn't handle the emails.

That's how I knew. You have to find that balance between your funds and your feelings. If you are drowning and you cannot hire anyone because you're super broke and you're just starting out and you're overwhelmed, you're going to have to push through that like I did.

And there's times for that. But if you're in a ball on the floor crying and you definitely could spare $15 an hour for a few hours month or $20 an hour for a few hours a month, then you should definitely get a VA.

And I think that a VA is a great place to start and that is a great first hire. You can always Google how to do graphics or download templates, and hire a graphic designer later. Hire a photographer later. I learned how to take great pictures with my iPhone and I got great editing software that was free, and apps to make my photos look Instagrammy, beautiful, and amazing. You can learn all that stuff.

But a VA is someone who's going to give you your time back and that time is what you can pour into revenue producing tasks. I think the VA is the first person you should hire. Somebody to take over emails, customer service, basic tasks that are not revenue-producing or are time consuming and that don't need to be done by you.

Give them a cap. Say, “I really don't want you to go over 10 hours a month, so can you keep me posted on how much work is this taking? How many hours is this work taking? Do you need more hours? Is it not taking as much?” Figure all that out with her, but it's okay to give them a cap.

Okay. Next question. Please talk to us about your team. Who is virtual, who is in person? How did you find them? Does everyone work exclusively for you or do some of your team members juggle multiple jobs? What did you outsource first, second, third? Okay. That's a lot of questions.

So, let's just have a discussion about teams. My team is mostly virtual. They live in other states. We had one contractor who lived near me, but she's no longer with us. So, I think my CFO and accountant live in San Diego, but I'm not in San Diego. I'm in Temecula Valley, so it's like an hour away. So, we're not really in the same city. But if we ever do need to meet in person, we do. And that's always fun.

We have just me in California. We have somebody in Arizona. We have South Carolina, North Carolina, Missouri. We have people sprinkled everywhere and it's really cool.

This is why we use a platform called Zoom to meet on Fridays all together. We meet on Friday mornings for about 30 to 45 minutes to just get on the same page. People can ask their questions. They know that they're going to get me and Hayley there.

Hayley’s my COO. She handles all of the implementing of my ideas and running the actual business. So everyone's virtual.

And then how did I find them? Everyone has a different story and I won't get into every single person's. I already told you Kena. I think that it's really important to follow your gut and to pray about hiring people. I think that having hires that you wish you hadn't done, people you wish you hadn't hired is just a part of having a business. And without making those mistakes, you will not grow that tough entrepreneurial skin and you will not learn wisdom to make good decisions in the future. I don't think it's avoidable to never make a mistake and never wish you had done something different.

The experiences that I've had where somebody has hurt me or my company, or done something wrong and needed to be fired for doing something incredibly dishonest, or not showing up and doing their job and not being apologetic about that, or whatever the circumstance was, it's always been a good lesson and taught me a lot moving forward and made me better for it.

I don't think that we should, as entrepreneurs, be trying to avoid pain or trying to avoid ever making a mistake. Obviously, we don't want to purposely make mistakes, but I just don't think we should have this attachment to making mistakes and missteps and thinking, “Oh wow, I really wish I wouldn't have hired that person. I think I'm a failure.” But instead saying, “Well, I wish that hadn't happened, but let's go over what I learned from it and what I want to take into the next hire moving forward.”

That’s just like life, but somehow it seems really personal in entrepreneurship and it's hard not to get really upset when somebody does something wrong or wrongs you or your money that you worked really hard for, or your company that you're very attached to. It's difficult.

Most people work exclusively for me. Most of them didn't start out that way. Actually, none of them did. I'm thinking…yeah, none of them started out that way. But almost everyone has become where they have to just take me on exclusively and let go of their other clients because the company is just constantly growing. We're always moving forward. We're always working on new things, and everything is always growing bigger and bigger and the workload just becomes so much that they have to make a choice.

And I'm super thankful that they always choose me to come on exclusively because they love what we do, they love the mission that we're on, they love helping other women lighten their loads and just live better lives. It's a really cool mission and I definitely credit that, not me, to why people always choose me instead of keeping their other clients and coming exclusively with me. And it's a really neat experience to be able to do that for somebody, to be able to simplify their role and their workload and say, “Go ahead and let go of everyone else. I'm going to take you on. Let's settle on this retainer that makes you feel awesome and excited to show up for work and simplify your workload so you can just focus on me.”

For example, with Hayley, she started out as sort of just like a business manager position a couple of years ago. It was back when we were touring the country in the camper with the kids and I called her just really overwhelmed. She was referred to me by good friends of mine. She used to work for pastors, she used to help pastors run the backend of all their stuff and their churches. I asked her to come on and she said yes. It just developed into this relationship of CEO and COO and we work beautifully together. We have opposite personalities, opposite strengths and weaknesses. It is a perfect match.

I think that was just a God thing because the way she even was brought to my attention was totally the Lord. There's just no other explanation for it. That developed into what it is today to where she hires and fires and runs everything.

And I say, “Hey, I have an idea and I want this set up by next week.” And she makes it happen. She delegates. She assigns things to people. She does some things herself. She's running the business, checking in on finances, checking in on the backend of things, statistics, making sure everyone's happy in their role, managing the business and regular operations.

Let it flow, let it develop into what it needs to as you grow.

The main thing when it comes to my team is that I am focused on revenue producing ideas. I'm dreaming all the time. I'm always writing down ideas. I'm always bringing Hayley new ideas and I don't do that work anymore. I just dream things up. Cast a vision for what I want. I show up. I'm the face of things, but the backend things like scheduling emails, scheduling launch dates, things like that, it's all backend work that's done by my team. At this point we run like a really well-oiled machine, which is awesome.

I mean that to be encouraging to anyone starting out. You're going to get there if you push through and you keep going. You're going to get there.

But there was one point that lasted a very long time where I was doing all of that stuff myself. I made every image. I had to Google how to do everything. I was a graphic designer. I was a business manager. I was the CEO. I was the Operations Manager. I was the Chief Financial Officer, and I was terrible at that part of it. I was everything. I was the team manager for my one or two staff at the time. And before that, I didn't even have them. I answered my own emails. I saw every negative word said about me and to me, and every positive one. No CEO should be doing that. Remove yourself from the negative. Remove yourself from the feedback. Ask your team to bring you the positive things and remove yourself from the negative. It's so important.

Delegate social media. Get out of there. You don't need to be in the muck and mire of what you're doing. Just show up. Be your best self. Keep your mindset protected. Don't let yourself be stuck in that negative mess. It's going to mess you up and make you afraid to go live and show up for your audience, serve them and be there for the good ones who need you. So, yeah, that's my advice.

Okay. Let's get into a couple more questions and then we'll wrap up cause this episode's getting long.

How important is it to have an LLC, or something similar, when starting a blog that will possibly generate income? And can one business name cover the big picture and also the products you sell?

Okay, it is very important to have an LLC. We started out as an LLC and then we quickly realized we needed to change that and become an S-corp because of the amount of contractors, the amount of revenue, the size of the business and the way that everything is functioning.

We have an amazing CPA and Financial Adviser that we can go to and she recommended it. She was like, “You're just beyond that. We need to go into a S-corp.” So, we did but we started out as an LLC.

Pretty much as soon as you're generating income, you want to have an LLC. I'll be honest and say that is not what I did for the first year of our business. We filed it as a Sole Proprietor. We made this money and then we formed the LLC and moved forward from there.

But if you can afford…it's a small fee to start an LLC in whatever state you're in…if you can do that, then just do it right away so that any money that comes in, it's going to be a lot easier for you at tax time.

And yes, one business name can cover the big stuff, the products, the blog, the podcasts, everything. Every single thing that we do is covered underneath The Purpose Group, Incorporated. That's the name of our company, our S-corp. So, The Purpose Show podcast, the blog, the website, the courses, the PDFs, the way we pay our contractors, everything is underneath The Purpose Group, Incorporated.

What's the best way to promote blog posts to gain followers? Do you recommend pinning your own posts on Pinterest? Hashtagging the mess out of them on Instagram?

Yes. Both of those things are good.

I would suggest that you create your brand. Who are you as a person? (The answer to this is usually “yes”) but is your blog reflection of you, who you are, your story and your lifestyle?

Then ask yourself, “What fits you?” Create your brand. Don't post those really lame pictures with words over them of what your blog post title is to your Instagram and say, “New blog post: Have you ever felt like this? Click the link in my profile to read it,” and then Hashtag all the things. Don't do that.

Get good at taking beautiful photos. Don't be overly obvious. Just take great photos. Post the actual beautiful picture. It's going to get people to stop their scroll and look at that.

Then hit a pain point for people. Talk about what your blog post is about. If you have a blog post about, you know, let's go back to the parenting idea that somebody gave us the beginning of this episode. If you have a blog post about your experience with yelling at your kids, ask a pain point question, “Do you ever feel awful that you just yelled at your three-year-old?  Or “You just yelled at your child? I've so been there.” Share a little bit about your story and then say, “This is what I learned and I want to help you. There's a new blog post up.” Then use relative hashtags and do it that way. Don't be overly obvious, lame, or just get the post up for the heck of it.

Be creative. Let yourself shine. Be different. Create things that are beautiful. Every image. Every webpage. Everything should be beautiful and fit your brand, make you happy and make people think like, “Wow, this is legit.” You can make things look way more legit than they are. I did that for a long time.

And then Pinterest is great. Pin your own blog posts in Pinterest for sure. I still do that. I've delegated Pinterest to my team, but that's still a tactic that is very effective. Go and check my stuff out and try to figure out the back end of how I have things set up. That's what I did to other influencers that I admired and I wanted to be where they were. I would just kind of go and creep. I would look at their Pinterest accounts and see how they had their board set up. I would look at their Instagram and study what has the most likes, what are people really liking from them. I would go and figure out where are the holes in other people in their teaching.

That's where I developed my whole thing about how minimalism shouldn't be legalistic or perfectionistic. It should set you free, not be rules that you follow because that's what I saw from other influencers. Once I saw this minimalism thing was a trend and it was like, “Hey, wait a minute. I've already been doing this for four years (at that time.) I don't want this to be a trend without me. I am one of the ones that figured this out. I'm doing this.” That's how I figured out how to make it my own.

Go. Stalk. Save my emails. Go sign up for my email funnel and save those emails. It's okay to stalk people and figure out what's working and then make it your own. Don't copy it, but figure out, “Okay, if she's this successful and she's doing this, then I could do this, but change the messaging to fit what I do.”

Don't copy work. Never, ever copy anyone's work, but you can see the general layout of how they have things set up. Be encouraged and inspired by that and go copy that and then make your own words, your own stuff and your own business.

Okay. Last question for this episode. What did you need to start your business? Any particular equipment or anything?

There's a quote that I love and my gosh, I cannot remember who said it, but it's “all you need is a pencil and a dream” or is it “a pencil and a dream can take you further than you realize.” It's something like that. I was about to tell you how impactful that was for me, but obviously I can't do it if I can't remember the phrasing, but I think about that quote or the essence of that quote all the time.

And I thought about it even more when I was starting my business because it came across my path at that time of my life and it just really encouraged me because all I had was a crappy old Toshiba laptop that I got from a creep on Craigslist that barely worked. It was super slow and I didn't have anything else. The charger had duct tape all over it. It had to be in a certain position with a paper weight underneath it to hold it in a certain position so it would actually charge my computer. You know, we had nothing and it was really hard and all that. That's all I had was that old laptop. Everything that you see today was started with just that old crappy laptop.

You don't need a fancy microphone. I recorded the first round of my course with my apple headphones that came with my phone. You can get Skullcandy headphones for $7.99 and record your stuff with that. You don't need anything fancy. It doesn't have to be perfect. Please never look at everything that I have going on or everything that somebody else who's super successful, and way ahead of where you are right now has going on, and think, “Okay wait, I need that microphone. I need that. I need that desk. I need to have an office like that. I need to have that computer.” No, you don't. You don't need anything.

You just need a computer of some kind, your dream, your passion and to have the discipline to get up hella early, stay up super late, work on the weekends or figure it out. Whatever it is going to be for you and your schedule. If you really want this, it is going to take a lot of grit and that's why 1% of entrepreneurs actually become successful business owners because it is dang hard. So, don't get all caught up in the equipment and all that.

If you guys want to know what I use to help you, if you're looking to start a podcast and all that, then I can absolutely tell you I love Apple computers. I just think hands down, they're the best there is. I absolutely love them. I love their service. I love their company. I'm obsessed with Steve Jobs and the way that he used to present new apple products at the reveals. I've studied that. I've read articles about that. I've implemented some of that philosophy into my own business. I love him and his ethics and the way that he ran his business. Maybe not as a person but as a businessman. I love Apple products.

I have a Blue Yeti microphone. It's not expensive. It's less than $100. You can get it at Best Buy. I'm using it right now and it's not fancy. It's not the best there is. It's not, you know, super crazy. It just gets the job done and that's all I care about. That's pretty much it.

I have a photographer who comes and takes photos that need to be able to blow up really big and be on the website and not be pixelated. But other than that, I take my own photos for Instagram and stuff. I use my phone. I have Brian or the kids take them. I've kept things really simple cause you guys know that’s what I'm all about.

I just want you to know it doesn't have to be crazy. It doesn't have to be fancy. It just doesn't…like that quote that I can't remember… “All you need is a pencil and a dream.”

I love you guys! Good luck! Submit more business questions and we'll do more episodes like this. Have a great day!


This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.

Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.  

I am always rooting for you, friend!

See ya next time!

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