Erica’s background and what led her to start The Unconventional RD community
How to be of value to someone
How to build a community and connect with them
Monetization strategies and diversifying income sources
Passive income sources and strategies for nutrition professionals
How to maximize affiliate income
How to identify the easiest sources of passive income for your business
Why Erica shares her income reports
Details about Erica’s membership site, The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp
Libby – Erica Julson has been a Registered Dietitian since 2014 and she’s the founder of two membership sites: The Functional Nutrition Library an the Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp. Today, we talk more about her experience with passive income and how she’s made over $75,000 just from being online in 2018. I love that she’s been running her virtual private practice and blogging only since 2014. She’s using her experiences to teach our community and show us how to optimize SEO and make money by diversifying your income streams.
I’m so excited to be here tonight with Erica. Can you tell us more about your background and what led you to creating your community, The Unconventional RD?
Erica – Thank you so much for having me! I’m so excited to be on your podcast. My name is Erica Julson and I’ve been a RD since 2014. When I started, I knew I wanted to work for myself. I’ve always had a strong entrepreneurial drive. Preferably online in some way. I was really drawn to the idea of blogging and making income somehow on the internet. I hadn’t quite nailed down my niche and I didn’t know how that was going to happen but I decided to go for it right out of the gate. I’ve never really had a traditional 9-5 job like clinical or anything like that. Instead I just continued to do the type of work I had done through grad school to support myself. I’d been working nights and weekends doing some kind of tutoring. This was enough to pay my bills at the time and it didn’t take up as much time as a 9-5 so I figured I might as well continue to do that as my stable-ish income stream and build my own stuff on the side.
During the first few years I dabbled hardcore in a lot of stuff. I assisted for some other RDs, did some freelance recipe development and food photography, and tried to find my niche seeing clients one-on-one. I tried to do an in-person private practice with an office and everything, but I didn’t like it very much so I transitioned to 100% virtual work and still saw some clients one-on-one. All during this time I was also blogging on the side.
Honestly, I felt a little isolated because I didn’t have a 9-5 job to go to and not a lot of peer-on-peer interaction. This is what drove me to create The Unconventional RD Facebook community. I felt like there had to be other RDs on the internet that were trying to create unconventional types of income streams online – online business, blogging, that type of thing. I started it around April of 2017 and it’s continued to grow month after month. Now its 4,300+ people! Mostly dietitians, but a few other types of wellness professionals as well. It’s a place to share our experiences with unconventional income streams, online business, etc.
Libby – That’s incredible. I’ve said this before, but Erica’s group is my favorite free Facebook group for dietitians – probably because the topic is of most interest to me. What I love most about her group is how focused she is and how in her rules, she says that this is not a forum for clinical talk, it’s strictly about unconventional income streams. I know what I’m going to get when I go to her Facebook group. I recommend all of you who are listening to join and participate in the conversations! It’s motivating to connect with like-minded individuals. And just like Erica said, she felt alone, and that’s very common. To get that peer interaction, motivation, and to see that there are other nutrition professionals (just like you) working on creating alternative income streams is really powerful. I’m really happy to have you on to discuss what you’ve created and I really look up to you for creating that.
Erica – Thank you! That really means a lot because there’s a lot of self-doubt that goes along with putting yourself out there and having the courage to start something before you’re seen as an expert. I’ve been running this group for two years now and I’m just now starting to feel like I’m creating decent income online. For awhile there, it was just me showing up to this space to see if anyone else was struggling with the same things I was struggling with, sharing my wins (and flops), and trying to build a supportive, honest community. If you’re not sure if you know enough or have enough experience, I would encourage you not to let that fear get in the way. I’ve found that you really only have to be one step ahead of someone to be of-value to someone that’s right behind you and trying to get to the same place.
Libby – I feel like we hear that a lot, but our colleagues have a hard time processing that you only have to be one step ahead. This seems to come up time and time again. And it’s interesting when you say you felt like you had to earn a certain amount. Did you tell yourself that you had to earn X income to feel like an influencer? What did you tell yourself that you had to do or achieve?
Erica – That’s a really good question! I would say that was pretty much self-imposed, but the people I was following online business space seemed to have their stuff together. There weren’t a ton of people and definitely not really anyone in the RD-specific space that was being super open in the beginner phase. I was a little hesitant, but I also think that putting things out there gives you accountability to audience and to yourself. For example, I’ve been sharing my income reports from the last two years. Doing so helps me keep implementing things, putting things into action, analyzing the results and moving forward.
Libby – It’s super vulnerable as well. That’s what stood out about Erica to me. Not only did she create this group, but she publishes the income reports. I don’t see that happen a lot in our field and I really like that transparency because it holds you accountable and it inspires so many dietitians in differents stages. Maybe a RD who has a private practice and her only income stream is from service based business. Or a RD who is clinical and isn’t sure if she can do that side hustle that you’re telling her she can achieve. It really represents the possibilities of what someone can do. I don’t think it matters as much what you make, but more so that you’re constantly publishing it and showing them that there are possibilities.
Erica – Yeah, totally. In the beginning, some of my income reports showed around $1000 in a month. That might not sound like a lot, even to me now looking back on two years ago, but at the time that was awesome! Granted, I was getting income from other sources as well with side gigs and things like that but just to be cracking the $1000/month mark was great. I could save for taxes, pay off my credit cards, make a dent on my student loans, etc. Even just a little bit was exciting and I wanted to celebrate that and not only come back and show off how I was making six figures.
Libby – Sure, and people don’t like that. They don’t like to see others bragging about making six figures. Maybe they do, but what I’ve noticed is that people want to hear the story and learn how you got there. Which is why I’ve seen a lot of successful people share their day-to-day and their progression so you can follow along with their journey and get inspired.
I also want to go back to what you said about first creating the group as a peer-to-peer source, and then you feeling more like a leader. Although you were probably always in that role, you likely just felt more or less of imposter syndrome as you’ve progressed over the past couple of years of being the group leader. I think it’s really nice that you have that peer role because people see you as being a colleague and an inspiration and not necessarily super authoritative.That’s actually what Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income does. He’s a well-known entrepreneur and he’s known as the peer authority figure. He also does monthly income reports. His presence isn’t super authoritative. Instead, it feels like he’s your friend. He shows us what he’s overcome and how he’s gotten to his success today. He’s extremely successful financially and impact-wise, but he also shows us his journey and I think that’s a lot of what you’re doing. You’re showing that peer-to-peer relationship and your journey. And you’re doing extremely well! I love that people can look back at your progress and see that you didn’t start out making X. It started out at a lower rate and with time, persistence and accountability, you increased that. And other dietitians and nutrition professionals can do that too.
Erica – It’s funny that you mentioned Pay Flynn because he’s my go-to guy. I’ve been working my way through his podcast and listening to every episode.
Libby – He’s known for having one of the rare qualities of being a pure leader and not being authoritative. There’s nothing wrong with either style, but he’s really known for being like a friend. I really like that. I like myself to grow with my clients and colleagues on social and to show that that I’m learning and experimenting with them. I’m also trying to figure it all out even though I might be one step ahead of or behind you. But I think that assuming that peer-to-peer role is a really nice way to be a leader.
Let’s talk more about monetization and diversifying income sources. Will you tell us about the wide variety of income sources that you make and break it down for us?
Erica – I’ll preface this by saying that I passed my RD exam in 2014 and we just cracked 2019, so it’s been awhile of slowly building these up. I was able to earn around $75,000 this year from being on the internet. 100% virtually. I don’t have an office and I can work from anywhere, which is pretty badass. And it wasn’t all from one thing, it’s from a lot of things, and I can break that down for your listeners.
Libby – Yes, and congratulations! That’s wonderful and inspiring and I love that you’re breaking it down, so go ahead.
Erica – My #1 income source are my two of my membership sites. I have one launching on January 16th and I did some pre sales for it in 2018. It’s called The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp. It’s my way of making my Facebook group more focused, more intentional and more helpful instead of having it be a space for general questions at any time on any topic. It’s more guided education, tutorials, etc. It’s basically a membership site where you can pay for monthly or annually and participate in different business bootcamps. Each bootcamp will last 6-weeks, kind of like an online course, where we focus on one aspect of business. The first one will be on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) so I’ve been trying to help people with that and educate on that recently. Just from putting it out there, including a Black Friday sale, I’ve already made about $14,000 in presales which was pretty cool!
Libby – Incredible! I can’t wait to be apart of it. I love how you set it up with a focus point each month. It’s definitely hitting on one of my pain points, SEO. And congrats on a 14k prelaunch!
Erica – Yeah! Although, if you really think about it, this has been two years in the works. When I first started out, I definitely had the impression that you could just “show up” on the internet, make something, the world would come running and you’d be making sales left and right. I learned the hard way that isn’t how it works! It’s about building an audience, trust, and relationships with people first. Then you’re much more likely to have a successful sale. I don’t want people to think that I just pulled this out of the blue! It was definitely a long time coming. For a few years, I did a lot of blogging and helping people for no money. Now I’m offering a place for people to join if they want to and it seems to be working out!
I also have another membership site, The Functional Nutrition Library, that earns me about $2,000/month. Last year I made just over $20,000 from that site. I started it about 1½ years ago out of personal need. I was working with clients one-on-one and learning more about functional nutrition, but I didn’t quite have the funds to invest in the several thousand dollar online courses. I was doing a ton of self-education and reading tons of research journals. My background, before I became a RD, was actually in research so I’m very comfortable in that space. And I like it! I enjoy reading and learning. I created a massive Evernote collection of notes on different topics and I’d reference them when seeing clients. Sometimes I’d share them with other RDs if they had a question about something I’ve already researched. People really enjoyed them and told me they would pay for them. That was my lightbulb moment and I realized that I should throw them up on a website and charge a monthly/annual fee for people to access them. I keep updating the content and making it better every week. The Functional Nutrition Library was one of my most steady income sources throughout 2018.
I’m still doing a little bit of freelancing and I stopped seeing clients. I thought that I’d like seeing clients, but as I did it, it really brought a lot of anxiety for me. I think it’s just my personality and it’s always been like that. Even working in research and running participants and experiments. It’s just not something that comes easily or joyfully to me. I’m more of an introvert and a writer. I found myself applying to a freelance writing gig for Healthline.com two years ago. I didn’t get the job in the beginning. That’s another huge learning point for people. Don’t give up! I eventually got offered the position 10 months later. A lot of that was from follow-up. I earned about the same amount from that as I did from The Functional Nutrition Library. The fun and exciting part is affiliate income. Kind of what you’re talking about with Pay Flynn. I have to pinch myself that I’m able to make money in that way.
Libby – Can you briefly introduce what affiliate income is before you tell us how much you’ve made from it?
Erica – Affiliate income is when you promote someone else’s product or service and you earn a percentage of the sale. Since I have The Unconventional RD Facebook community, people always ask me about my favorite products, tools, providers, etc. It’s really easy for me to tell people what I use, give them my affiliate link, and explain to them that I’ll earn a percentage of the sale if they click on my link. It’s important to be transparent and let people know that they don’t have to click on it. They can Google it instead of clicking on the link. Just from that (affiliate income), I earned around $12,000 in 2018. I made almost as much as I made during the presale for my Business Bootcamp by promoting other people’s stuff.
Libby – Would you attribute the affiliate income to the strong community that you have in your Facebook group because it’s active, niche, and really comprehensive? Is that where you’ve been able to drive your affiliate income?
Erica – Yes, I think so. My #1 affiliate is Heather Neal’s RD Entrepreneur symposium that happens twice every year. That was a dream, synergistic relationship because we have almost the same exact audience: RD entrepreneurs. She put together this symposium and I’ve been a speaker at all of them, twice a year for the last couple of years, and I promoted it through my email list. I also took a cue from B School. Have you heard of it?
Libby – I haven’t taken it, but I like Marie Forleo, the creator of B-School. So you’ve taken B-School?
Erica – I have. When I signed up for that, I signed up through someone’s affiliate link and part of the deal was that if you signed up through their affiliate link you get part of the course for free part of the course for free. I did something similar. If you signed up through my link, I gave you a bonus. I was giving away different bonuses on each iteration, but usually it involved a few free months of the Functional Nutrition Library, an exclusive ask-me-anything webinar, etc. It was pretty effective.
Libby – Smart. For those of you who are listening, I’m an affiliate for Erica’s membership. If you’ve purchased Beat The Algorithm, you can also affiliate that course – if you’ve enjoyed it and used it. One of the rules here is that you are an affiliate you have to have actually tried the program and recommend it. You don’t want to mislead your audience. You want to recommend something that you actually have used and it’s helped you. Because creating and maintaining that trust with your audience is really important and you don’t want to break that.
Erica – Very true. People might approach you to be an affiliate and I would say 9/10 times, they’re really generous in giving free access to check it out. If they don’t, that might be a red flag because you want to be authentic and promote something you’ve tried. You don’t have to say yes to every single proposed affiliate relationship. It’s okay to be selective.
Libby – And to add to that, I would only be an affiliate for something in my niche or something I use or have used. I am careful and strategic to make sure it makes sense and that I’m building trust.
Erica – Honestly, to have a really good affiliate launch, I basically promote the RD Entrepreneur Symposium as if it was my own product. I do an email sequence, offer bonuses, etc. That’s a really strong promotion for someone else’s product. If you get too many of those and you’re bombarding people with sales emails, that might not go over so well. A moderate approach is best. Maybe one person’s product you promote regularly and the rest are promotions of opportunity. For example, if someone asks about it or if you mention it on a podcast, you can provide your affiliate link then.
Libby – That’s a really good point. And you also want to be strategic about it. I like that Erica treats it as her own. In true affiliate marketing, if you’re promoting product or service that you like, you should have a strategy that you’re treating it as your own. Erica’s process with an email sequence and an upsell is really important and I think it’s underused. If you really want to sell with an affiliate you should be taking it seriously. Again, if that product/service fits your niche and you strongly recommend it. I think people are very much “halving it” with affiliate marketing and aren’t doing it the right way. So if you do choose to do it, think about a strategy.
Erica – Yeah it really does make a difference. I’ll give you some idea of the type of difference it can make. For example, the first time I promoted it, I didn’t even have an email list. I basically launched The Unconventional RD Facebook Group off the back of the RD Entrepreneur Symposium because I was speaking at it and I wanted something to point to at the end of my presentation to have people follow up with me. That’s how the Facebook group was started. And I only made a few hundred dollars as an affiliate that year because I didn’t have an email list or a strategy. It was mostly just friends and me posting about it on Facebook. The second time, I sent out one email. I was scared to promote it because I didn’t want to be spammy. And at that point I wasn’t nurturing my email list very well and I wasn’t sending out valuable stuff every week. I was on the fence and I ended up sending one email the night before the cart closed and I made around $1000 in affiliate sales. That was much better but I wish I had sent out more emails because that was a good outcome from one email! The third time I sent out multiple emails over multiple days and I was nurturing my email list with a weekly newsletter that was full of helpful information. That year I made around $8000 in affiliate income.
Libby – That’s incredible. What I love about that story is that you tried something, modified it, tried again, and you modified it again. That’s how it works with online business. I see a lot of us get frustrated when you tried something once or not even once and that’s not how it goes. You have to be working it and are working it. Look at all of the success Erica’s had after troubleshooting and adjusting after a couple times. I think that’s really inspirational. Thank you for sharing that background.
Erica – I guess I can continue with some smaller income streams. I do have quite a lot but then it drops off from here. In 2018, as I mentioned earlier, I got a freelance writing gig and I loved it way more than I enjoyed working with clients one-on-one. I was starting to feel like I was juggling too many balls with seeing clients, writing, the membership sites, the Facebook group, income reports, etc. I did a little soul searching and told myself it was okay and that I can let something go if it’s not true to me and what I love to do. It’s okay to add an income stream and let one go. You don’t have to keep adding because you’ll end up burnt out. Eventually, I phased out my one-on-one work. I took down the tab on my website to work with me as a private practice RD and went all in with writing. I still earned about $6,000 in the first few months of 2018 from my private practice, but I wasn’t accepting new clients so that petered out at the end of the spring. When I was working with clients, depending on the circumstance, sometimes I would recommend supplements using FullScript, an online store where you could create really convenient supplement recommendations for your clients. It’s similar to if you ordered and stocked it in your office, but you don’t have to keep an inventory. You can sell it through FullScript, but then they take a cut of what you would make selling it at market price. For example, if the supplement costs $10 wholesale, they usually sell it to customers for $20, maybe you would get $7 and FullScript would get $3. You can also share a portion of the income you get as a discount for your client if you don’t feel comfortable earning an income from supplement recommendations. It’s just convenient because you can recommend supplements from professional grade lines that are only available to medical professionals. They literally click one button and it’s shipped to their house. Over the years, people would order supplements through that and I would make a small income from that. I made about $1000 from supplement sales last year. Also, I was still doing some recipe development in the beginning of 2018 so I earned about $1000 from that.
Digital goods. This is really exciting one! Thinking back to when I started the Functional Nutrition Library, if the RD2RD website had been a thing yet, I might not have started my membership site and I might have just sold a bunch of handouts there. I do have a few unrelated handouts that I’ve put on the RD2RD store. It’s basically a peer resource for dietitians where you can upload handouts, business tools, presentations, etc. and sell them. You can buy or sell as a vendor or a customer.
Libby – Yeah, I had Megan on the podcast in October and she’s great. She explained it so if you want a refresher, check that episode out for more in depth discussion about how she came to that platform.
Erica – It’s a genius idea. So I didn’t make a ton of sales from that, but I did make about $50 from random handouts that I spent time making when I first became an RD. They were sitting on my hard drive not doing anything. I made $50 from them! That’s a dinner out. This is a little convoluted, but in my membership site I have a few mini online courses that help guide people through different topics in functional nutrition. For example, implementation of things like how to get setup on FullScript, how to order labs, etc. When I first started the site, I didn’t have a course platform on my own site so I was using Thinkific. It’s sort of like Teachable. It’s an online course platform that you pay for monthly to use and then people can enroll. I was auto enrolling people who were members of my library into my courses on Thinkific. Those are still on the internet and available for one off purchases for $29. Randomly throughout the year, people will buy those. I’ve also had other RDs really like some of the online courses and ask to purchase access to them so they can give their students in their courses use of my slideshows so I’ve made around $500 from those courses. It was a really unique opportunity so I gave them a bulk discount and they gave their students a code to get in so they could check out my content.
Only two more really small income streams. I did a little bit of mentoring which was really fun! This was a dietitian who was a new LEAP therapist. For a long time, that’s what I did with clients so I helped her get her processes up and running. And then I made a very small amount from ad revenue, around $200, from my various websites. I’ve put no effort into this. I just used Google AdSense, the lowest paying ad network. I didn’t even try to optimize the ads. You can get into the nitty gritty of it but I just used the default lowest setting and made around $200 from it. Those are my income streams and it added up to about $75,000 for the year!
Libby – I have a few follow up questions about the multiple income streams and you earning 75k from online. What’s your biggest takeaway from your income streams from 2018 that you’ll be applying to 2019?
Erica – The easiest income streams were always right in my face and I didn’t always see them. I didn’t even talk about this, but when I first started and thought you could just build something and people would just buy it, I had a few product failures. They didn’t go anywhere – mostly because I didn’t have an audience or niche. I created something and I wasn’t really helping anyone with anything specific. When I look back at things that did work, which are mostly my two membership sites, are things that would have helped me. I didn’t have to get super complicated. If I’m missing something in the marketplace, sometimes it’s enough to build something that would help you and then share it with other people. That’s the philosophy I’m taking with me into 2019, even with the business bootcamp. I’ve been focusing on SEO, learned a bunch about it, created a bunch of processes that I’m using to myself so I might as well open it up for other people. It’s actually been really successful and I think it’ll be my main focus for 2019.
Libby – What a great takeaway. Anything else you can tell us about your income reports?
Erica – They’re on the unconventionalrd.com and I started posting them in 2017 when I started the Facebook group. I wanted to give myself some accountability and talking points to start discussing in the group. If it was something I’m struggling with or was a big win for me, I could share it in the group and we could all learn from it. I wanted to accomplish more transparency in the field. I read a lot of income reports but they were from food bloggers and not RDs. I figured I might as well do it! If I’m okay with being open about it, then it doesn’t matter what other people think. I just put it out there and knew it would connect with the people it was meant to connect with. And like we were talking earlier about removing some of the “comparisonitis” and not waiting until you’re successful, being vulnerable, celebrating your little wins, etc. It’s exciting and worth celebrating!
Libby – It’s great to lead and show those other dietitians that the first $1000 is great depending on your goals. It’s still a great start. You’ve inspired me to considering doing it and if I do them, I’ll be sure to give you a shout out.
Erica – Yay! Please do! I love income reports and I don’t know of any dietitians who do them so if you wrote them I would read them!
Libby – It makes you stand out and they’re so helpful and inspiring. I don’t think the actual amount matters more than the action that you’re doing it and that you’re inspiring so many people to think outside the box. What I love about you, Erica, is that you’re not a side of passive income – you’re all about passive income. I love passive income myself and I still do one-on-one counseling. I have plans in the future but I still see one-on-ones. Erica really inspires me to distribute my income streams to the passive side. A lot of our field believes you can only make money with services and that’s not true. There’s so much opportunity beyond that whether you’re an introvert writer like Erica or if you’re an extrovert who wants to do speaking engagements. You don’t have to be in the service-based box. The opportunities are endless and it’s possible. Membership is recurring revenue and is a fabulous opportunity and idea. I’m so glad you’re doing that and showing us how much you’re making from it. Let’s talk about April’s income report.
Erica – So I’m a little behind and I just posted May 2018 so I have 6 months to catch up on. But, April 2018 was my first five figure month which was a huge celebration! 10k/month is a pretty common goal for people.
Libby – Yeah, because 10k/month is a six figure year which is a lot of people’s benchmark. Not for everyone, but it’s a great start.
Erica – Yeah, you hear that all of the time. I was thrilled! That was my first one and it actually was largely in part from the RD Entrepreneur Symposium.where I made $8000 from affiliate income. I should also mention that it was $11,000 in profit for April 2018.
Libby – When you say you offer email sequence, did you offer a bonus for you? Can you remind us exactly what you did to make the affiliate stand out?
Erica – So I didn’t just send one email the night before! I started out with an introduction to what it was, mentioned that I’d be speaking, highlighted what you could learn, and I gave my affiliate link to check it out. It was basically a warmup email. I know I sent out at least 4 emails over a week. Maybe more than that actually…4 main emails and then the final few before the cart closed.
Libby – I got that it was a sequence, but I thought you might have given a bonus too. You just gave them a few reminder emails throughout the week and that’s what helped?
Erica – No, I did give a bonus too, but I gave a bonus on all of them so I think the difference maker here was the sequence. I offered even better bonuses in the beginning but I didn’t have an audience or a relationship with them so I didn’t make as many sales.
For April, the bonus was 3 months access to the Functional Nutrition Library, which may or may not be relevant to everyone. That was the main bonus, but then I also did an “ask me anything” webinar.” I also offered a coupon for my upcoming products like the Unconventional RD Bootcamp. Some people that signed up through my affiliate link are getting one month free. That type of thing. I’ve seen other people offer bonuses but you really have to think about what you’re offering. For example, sometimes people offer a free consultation, but 70 people signed up with my link so if I offered a bonus like that, it would mean weeks of full time work. You have to be able to fulfill your offer so be sure that it’s scalable. Because what if 70 people sign up and you have to fulfill what you’ve offered? I always try to make it mutually beneficial and passive.
Libby – Not to mention, if you offer a one hour call, you have to give parameters like a time frame, cancellation policy, and other stipulations. That can be exhausting. And in addition to that, you’ve got time zones. And if you’re offering a one-on-one, what is your upsell? If you’re offering 3 months free to your library and a coupon to your product, ideally they’ll stay on with you. But if you’re offering a one off call, then your upsell isn’t as directly related to that one call. In my opinion, the upsell or bonus should be related to the long term relationship you’re trying to cultivate like your membership service. I’m not a big fan of offering a one hour call because I don’t think it’s scalable and it doesn’t directly relate unless I’m offering a high price package. It’s not beneficial for the long term. You’d mentioned that 70+ people had purchased it through your affiliate link, correct?
Erica – Yes. But not all of them redeemed the bonuses. Maybe half of them used the code.
Libby – Did you tell them that they had to use it by a certain date? Because I’ve found that some people will use it later.
Erica – No. It’s still good to this day. There was someone who just signed up yesterday with the code from the last symposium that was 3-4 months ago. It doesn’t matter to me when you redeem it.
Libby – So we’ve talked about passive income and SEO and how you’ve become a clear authority in those spaces. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and how you got to where you are today?
Erica – I think we kind of touched on some of it out of order, but the broad overview in terms of my experiences with passive income and SEO, I did everything wrong in both of those realms first. Then I figured out that I did everything wrong and went back to try and implement correctly. I have a few failed attempts. After I went through B-School, I connected with a fitness instructor who wanted me to work with her to create an online program. We spent months all summer putting this thing together and were selling it for around $200 bucks and we sold 3. That was the world’s biggest lesson. Now I understand the importance of validating and preselling. You know how I mentioned that I sold $14,000 in presales for The Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp? I’ll never make anything again without pre selling it or validating it. It’s that vital to me after spending all summer on a program and making $300 after splitting it with her. That was soul crushing.
Libby – That was $300 of you learning how to spend your energy for next time. I love how you’ve taken all of these lessons and applied them to make money and impact. If you look back at it, sure, you spent a summer creating a program that didn’t sell and it was frustrating, but look at what you’ve learned from that experience.
Erica – No one does it perfectly the first time, ever. You just have to roll with it, keep tweaking, and try new things. Just keep trying and you’ll eventually come out on top.
Libby – It’s taken me some time to figure things out and I’ve been very open about that and that’s okay. What’s not okay is to curl into a ball and not do anything. You want to take action in the space where you’re an authority. For Erica, it’s Facebook and membership communities. For me, it’s Instagram and in some degree podcasting as I continue to take this platform to the next level. As we wrap up, I wanted you to tell us a little bit more about the RD Business Boot Camp which I am an affiliate for. Make sure to check out my blog post and show notes and click on the (affiliate) link so you can join us in this community.
Erica – Yeah so that’s going to be starting on Wednesday, January 16, 2019. Depending on when you’re listening to this, that’s probably pretty soon. Hop on over to the website (see resources below) to check it out. But of course I recommend using the affiliate link. As I was mentioning, I felt like the Unconventional RD community was kind of maxing out on its helpfulness. It’s really big now which means there’s tons of people chiming in with advice, but it’s also really busy. If there’s a big thread and it moves fast, it’s hard to keep up. You might see that and join the community because it’s for dietitians and wellness professionals who are interested in passive and alternative income. But once you enter, it feels overwhelming and you’re unsure how to start and learn more. That’s what I’m trying to cultivate with the paid business bootcamp. It’s also going to have a private, more concentrated Facebook group for paid members. The goal is to really focus on one aspect of business at a time. We’re going to do 3 business bootcamps every year – one every 4 months. Each one will be 6 weeks and there’ll be a few months in between to prevent information overload. There’s a pause in between to implement, hold each other accountable, tweak, share, and give feedback on what we’ve been working on. I tried to consider how I’d like to learn if I could go back and be beginner me and that felt like a good set-up. That’s the overall premises of the business bootcamp. You can either sign up monthly, pay the whole year monthly, or just when you have the time to focus on your business. I wanted there to be options because not everyone has a huge budget in the beginning. I know I didn’t. So I wanted it to be a little more accessible if you want to pay month-to-month. You can also pay annually if you know you’re in and you want to be in there for the whole year. You’ll get access to all three bootcamps. I’m also offering each individual boot camp for sale separately in case you only want to learn about one topic. But you miss a lot of interaction with that option. I’m going to keep it up there for sale on my website as a “course” and see how that goes. This is a great example of tweaking because I have no idea which option will be the most popular. I want to put them up there, see what sticks, and maybe tweak it for the future.
The first boot camp is focusing on SEO, which is basically how the heck you get your content onto page one of Google search results. It’s not an instant thing. It’s a long process that takes at least 6 months to see great results from it. Especially if you have a new blog. Basically, I just launched a free blog in September to go along with the Functional Nutrition Library because I realized it’s a horrible idea to have an entire website behind a paywall with no content for people to check out and no way for people to learn what you’re about. That’s why I created the blog to go along with the FNL. And that’s why I started learning about SEO and implementing myself. I created a 6-week course to guide people through that because from personal experience, I avoided it for years. It sounds like a big scary word and you are overwhelmed because people are talking about SEO, keyword research, etc. It sounds overwhelming and complicated, but it’s really not once you understand it. I just wanted to cut through all of the crap and show people what to do. Each week is laid out and will help you go from not understanding anything about SEO to having a system to implement in your business.
Libby – Thank you so much for your time, it’s been fantastic having you as a guest. Do you have any final thoughts?
Erica – Thank you for having me! I love your podcast. Just like you were saying, there aren’t a ton of people posting income reports, but there also isn’t a lot of RD podcasters! So I totally admire what you’re doing and I’m a huge fan. In terms of final thoughts, don’t be afraid. I feel like online business is going to become more and more relevant in the dietetics space. There’s a huge untapped potential to be an online teacher, thought leader, influencer, etc. It’s a relatively low cost space to enter because you don’t need an office. You just need a laptop and internet connection. You can get something up and running for just a few hundred dollars. A website itself isn’t that big of an investment.
Libby – Couldn’t agree more! We need more thought leaders in this space and more conversations and communities. Thank you for providing that from the passive income and SEO standpoint.
Erica – Thank you for inviting me to talk about it! I think it’s really important and not talked about enough.
Unconventional RD Business Bootcamp (affiliate link)