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If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I’m not very shy about sharing my mistakes, and if you’re new here, welcome to The Digital Lounge. I’m your host Jess Freeman, and you are starting on a fun episode, because last week marked five years since I took Jess Creatives full time. The week before that actually marked eight years since I started Jess Creatives, so today I’m going to share some of my failures and what I’ve learned from them.

Before I start spilling the beans, I want to let you know about a super limited time offer called the Wellness Business Bundle Giveaway that is officially open today, October 8, and will close one week from today. Myself and 11 other contributors are giving away resources that we usually charge for, and we’re giving them away totally free. There are resources about SEO, Facebook ads, email marketing, passive income, a bundle of stock photos and so much more. Again, all of it is totally free and tailored just for dietitians, and health coaches, and personal trainers. You sign up just for the specific offers that you want, so head over to wellnessbizbundle.com and check it out.

Now, let’s just dive in. Where do I begin? Of course, I had the typical mistake early on that probably everyone makes, working with clients without a contract and taking on the wrong clients, but something else I remember from early on is when I started my email list, I just added clients to it, which you’d think that all of us know that’s not okay to do. You cannot just add people to your email list. Unfortunately, I have still been added to people’s email lists this past month without permission. Just because I emailed you or filled out the contact form on your website does not mean you can add someone to your list. Now, if you have a little checkbox on that form that says like, “Please add me to your email list,” then yes, you can do that. Otherwise, no.

Then I made the mistake of spending about four months setting up a course about creating your first website. The reason that this was a mistake is because I didn’t actually survey my audience to see if they wanted this, nor did I actually build up anticipation about the course before launching it. I said maybe one thing about it a week before, and then, “Surprise! Look, come buy my course.” And surprise, surprise, I had no sales.

I did something a little similar a few years later when I had the idea to try and put on a live event, a small one, but still a live event. I actually did do a little more research about what people would want and I did a little more lead up to announcing it and opening the doors for registration. But considering that this was an actual financial investment for the event space, and not just taking time to create something digital, I definitely should have done more research and more building up to the event before fully diving in.

And you know what I realized in all of these mistakes, plus a lot of other mistakes in between that I could talk about for hours? Do you know what all these things have in common? I got too caught up in myself. I created the email list to help my business, not to actually serve my audience. I created the course and the in-person event to try and help others, but mostly because I thought it was a good idea, instead of truly validating it. And don’t get me wrong. I have financial goals, I have goals for my email list. I want to grow my business. A business has to be profitable to actually be a business, but I think there’s a big difference between creating something only because you want it to make you money or make you famous, and creating something to serve your audience that will also make you money.

I think it’s honestly a mix of my faith and my personality and my upbringing that has shaped this mindset to serve first, but I was also reminded of this several years ago when I read the book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook by Gary Vaynerchuk. If you are familiar with Gary, you know a lot of his messaging is around hustle, and doing the work, and showing up. I don’t really resonate with the hustle and the grind part of his messaging, but his book helped form how I approach social media, and honestly a lot of everything in my business. What he says in this book is that jabs are the value you provide your customers with, like the content you put out, and the right hook is the ask. It’s when you go in for the sale or ask for subscribe, or ask for whatever it is. You have to throw some jabs before you throw your right hook, and I do think I was throwing jabs before I tried to throw a right hook for the course or the event, but it wasn’t the right jabs. And like I mentioned, I was focused on me and what I wanted.

Changing things in your business to do what you want is not always a bad thing. For example, you want might want to move from one to one to group nutrition coaching, or from one to one to a membership. Based on what I’ve talked about in today’s episode, you probably know what I’m going to say should be the first step, right? Research, talk to your audience, talk to your past clients, and this means more than just like one Instagram poll. We need to maybe even have some calls. Ask if you can get on the phone with somebody and talk to them and really get a sense of what they need help with, and what they’re interested in investing in. Your true fans will do it no problem. I’ve hopped on calls with many people to do some market research, like I’m the market research. They’re asking me questions, and I’m happy to help.

I’ve also had people like, “Hey, will you do this call with me? I’m doing some market research, and in exchange, I’ll give you X, Y, Z.” And it’s nothing big. Not $500… it’s like, “Oh, I’ll give you my ebook.” But when you are talking to these people in your audience, if they are interested and if you can still serve them well, then moving to this new approach in your business, this is a good idea. For me, doing a group program where you build a website yourself and I’m just coaching everyone is probably not going to work well, nor would anyone be interested in it, and I know they wouldn’t be interested in because it was an idea I put out there several years ago and people were like, “No, no, not really, no. I’d rather you just do it,” and frankly I wouldn’t have been able to serve everyone well to try and coach them individually on how to build their website, because a website is very tailored to you and your brand and your goals.

If everyone in your audience wants direct access to you, or in my case, if they just want you to do it, and you’re trying to distance yourself from one to one clients, it’s probably going to be harder to fill that program. Now, I’m not saying that scaling your business and scaling your services is a bad idea. That’s not what I’m saying, but you have to find the right approach. I know actual people that have a great audience, a huge audience, and they are against one-to-one services like that’s beneath them, and they only want to offer these group programs or memberships, whatever. And they have some signups, but not the signups that they want. And I just want to be like, “Because people want to work with you. They want to work with you one on one. They don’t want the group experience.” But your audience may love the idea of a mastermind, so moving in that direction could work out great for you.

The point I’m trying to make today is that it’s important to serve your audience and not make everything about yourself. If you’re struggling to grow your business, if you’re struggling to get clients, talk to people, find out if what you offer is something they actually need or if it’s just something you think they need. There’s a big difference between the two sometimes. I know this may seem like a really simple lesson from some mistakes, but that’s what it boils down to. Yes, my marketing could have been different. Yes, maybe I should have hired a copywriter, but at the end of the day, it was really about needing to serve my audience and not make it about what I wanted.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please share it on your Instagram Stories and tag me @JessCreatives so I can see who is listening, and if you have any questions, I’d love to hear from you. Just DM me on Instagram. I have some really awesome interviews coming up in the next few weeks, so stay tuned.

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