What does it take to build a thriving brand online? How do you create a following and leverage your influence to achieve your goals? What happens when you feel the need to make a shift and end up walking away from the very thing that brought you all that success? On this episode of The Amazing Seller, you’ll hear from Scott as he welcomes his guest, Jill Stanton.
Jill and Josh Stanton are the co-founders of Screw The Nine To Five. They are serial online entrepreneurs and world travellers. In her conversation with Scott, Jill opens up about their journey, why they decided to move from affiliate marketing to building a personal brand, the value of getting clarity in business, what it takes to connect with a large following, and much more. You don’t want to miss a minute of this engaging episode featuring Josh and Jill's story!
Hard work pays off.
Jill and Josh started their journey in 2011 working jobs they saw no future in and decided that they needed to make a change. They leapt and started putting together an ecommerce business focused on skin care. While it took a lot of hard work and sleepless nights, their hard work paid off, and they were able to secure their first month with $1,000 in profit. They ended up selling that business for $50,000 and went on to start several other businesses in 2012. The big takeaway from Jill and Josh’s initial success is that they were sick of their current circumstances and decided to do something about it. In short, they took action! They weren’t experts in skin care; they were just willing to go out there, put in the work, and trust that profit would follow and it did!
Don’t become a slave to your business!
Success and growth are a what every business leader is after, right? But what happens when all of the success becomes a weight that drags you down? From Jill and Josh, the complexity and daily demand of their business began to take a toll and caused them to rethink their approach. The last thing you want in business is to find yourself shackled to something that doesn’t fulfil you. It might sound crazy, but their story could be your story! What will you do when that moment comes and feel like you’ve become a slave to your business? Will you stay committed and miserable or will you make the changes necessary? To hear how Jill and Josh pivoted and took their efforts in a new direction, make sure to listen to this episode of The Amazing Seller!
What do you really want?
At the end of the day, one of the best things you can do for your business is to identify your “why.” If you’ve been around the TAS community for very long, you know that Scott is passionate about helping sellers like you figure out this important aspect of entrepreneurship. Do you know your “why?” When was the last time you reevaluated it? For some people that “why” will be a constant but for others, it will need to change as their business grows. Learn from Josh and Jill’s story and how asking the question “What do I really want?” helped them get to the core of their “why” by listening to this episode of The Amazing Seller.
OUTLINE OF THIS EPISODE OF THE AMAZING SELLER
- [0:03] Scott’s introduction to this episode of the podcast!
- [5:20] Jill Stanton join the podcast to share their story.
- [12:00] Jill talks about their affiliate marketing efforts.
- [14:00] What led Josh and Jill to focus on building their personal brand?
- [17:00] Why you need clarity in your business.
- [24:00] Jill talks about connecting with a large following.
- [28:50] What is QBR?
- [32:10] How has life been since Josh and Jill pulled back in their business?
- [36:00] Jill talks about their traffic strategy.
- [42:00] Attention is the new currency.
- [44:40] What do you really want?
- [47:45] If you want to change you’ve got to start forming positive habits.
- [53:30] Closing thoughts from Scott.
TRANSCRIPT TAS 621
TAS 621: Why Josh and Jill Stanton CLOSED Their $300k Online Business (BIG Lessons Learned)
[00:00:02] Scott: Well, hey, hey, what's up, everyone? Welcome back to another episode of The Amazing Seller Podcast. This is Episode #621 and today I’m really excited because we’re going to take…
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…a little bit of a turn here. We’re not going to necessarily talk about Amazon today or even e-commerce for that matter, although it will teach you a lesson here about entrepreneurship and really the road that we travel you never know where it's going to lead and you can't really expect it to. And what I'm going to do is I'm going to interview, I already did, you’re going to listen to this conversation that I had with Jill Stanton from Screw The Nine To Five. Now, her husband and herself have built multiple businesses over the past seven or eight years and the reason why I wanted to get her on, number one, I've been a fan of theirs for a while and we’ve had some mutual friends and we finally got connected and I said, “You know what, I want to get you on. I want to hear all about this.”
Why the heck would you close down a $300,000 per year business? Pretty much, I’m not going to say all profit, but it's a more profitable business when you look at as far as physical products to a digital product. They had a membership site. Now, they've done a lot of different things. They've done some e-commerce, they've done affiliate stuff, a lot of affiliate stuff, affiliate products for skincare, for health products, and all of that stuff and you’re going to hear about that but I wanted to get around and say, “Wait a minute here like what just happened?” like I've seen them build these communities, really good successful communities which you guys know I've said recently that the new currency is attention. If you can get attention, that is your new currency and I’ve talked all about them. I’ve talked more about that in the future as well and they are awesome at creating communities, thriving communities. Now, they’ve built communities of 20,000, 30,000 people and then they’ve closed them and said, “You know what, we’re done,” and they went on and started something that was new, not necessarily new, but they wanted to get rid of the riff raff or they wanted to get rid of the spammers because whenever you get a group that size, it becomes a lot of work.
[00:02:04] Scott: And so, then they started up another one, built that up to a good-size and then they closed it and now they've actually closed down their money machine really, their revenue stream completely. They just cut it right off and they're going in a whole new direction and I wanted to get her on to have her explain the thought process. Now, one big thing is they just had a kid so that does change a lot of things. I think we all can agree on that but you're going to learn about the journey of being an entrepreneur and if you think what you're doing today is what you're going to be doing 10 years from now, you're probably not going to be doing that thing. I’m just here to tell you, but you are going to learn so much by going through this process and I like to call it your journey because you're learning all along the way. Now, here's one thing I do want to say before we listen to this interview with Jill is then being affiliates for products, they could be your affiliates.
So, when you're out there looking for influencers, this is the power of influencers because they know how to drive traffic. They know how to build communities. Wouldn’t you like someone like them to be able to grab a hold of your skincare product or your garlic press and say, “Hey, this thing is awesome. This is why I like it. You should go buy it.” That's the power of them having the attention and then being able to drive traffic to your stuff. That is happening all over the Internet, all over the online space. We all know if you get a celebrity to get behind something, it usually takes right off and they pay celebrities to do that. Well, what they're doing on a smaller scale is they’re becoming that attention. They’re becoming the people that are being trusted and I'm not saying they're going to promote your product. What I'm saying is you need to look for these types of people and if you know how to get attention and traffic and build communities, this is stuff that you can do as well with your own products, with other people's products. So, you’re going to hear Jill, I mean, there's tons of different ways you can make money online. We all know that, but what way makes you happy? Which way makes you aligned with who you are today?
[00:04:08] Scott: Because if you would’ve asked her five years ago that they were to close down a $300,000 per year membership site business, she would’ve said, “You’re crazy,” but now they are. And there was no like doubt in doing it. They said, “We’re doing this and we’re just not feeling aligned with it anymore. We want to go in a new direction, we want a different lifestyle now, and that is going to happen.” So, I just want you listen to this interview because I think it's really, really good. I also want to get on and just talk to Jill because she is a great entrepreneur out there. She's a mom now so I mean I have something in common. I have kids. I’m not a mom, but I have kids and her husband is really, really smart with like SEO and she's great with build communities. So, I think in the future I’m going to have them both on just to do a section or a segment on each of those categories because they're so smart and brilliant with doing that stuff. So, I think I pumped this up enough. You guys ought to be excited.
Now, here's what I’m going to do. I’m going to drop their link in the show notes at TheAmazingSeller.com/621 and their website is awesome, Screw The Nine To Five. I mean, what a better domain that that? I mean, it's just awesome. So, anyway, I'm going to stop talking so you can enjoy this interview that I did with Jill Stanton from Screw The Nine To Five.
[00:05:21] Scott: All right. Jill, thank you so much for coming on the podcast. It's been a long time. I've been following you. I’ve been paying attention to what you guys are doing, you and your husband, and I want to get down to it. But before we do, let's hear a little bit about who you are. Who’s Jill and Josh Stanton from Screw The Nine To Five? Who are you guys?
[00:05:38] Jill: Just a couple of weirdos.
[00:05:41] Scott: That's good. We’ve got a lot in common.
[00:05:44] Jill: Well, first off, I’m so pumped that we made this work so thank you so much for having me.
[00:05:48] Scott: Yeah.
[00:05:49] Jill: Yeah. So, I actually got my – Josh and myself, we started in two totally separate businesses. So, he had previous business with a previous partner. He had software, he sold courses, he had affiliate sites, all that kind of stuff and I came from a TV and modeling background which then transitioned somehow randomly into social media marketing and management for bars and restaurants because I was a bartender for like 10 years and before that working in hospitality for about another six years so I kind of knew, I mean, small talk is my strength because as a bartender you’ll build that muscle real quick. And so, I just started pitching my services to my boss at the time I was working in Australia after Josh and I had met and he had heard that I was there shooting a WebTV show really before WebTV was a thing. I kind of missed the timing on that one and he wanted to start marketing his business online and just through social media and through video. And so, I put together this like comprehensive package, trying to be all legit and pro.
[00:07:00] Scott: Of course.
[00:07:01] Jill: Pitched him to manage his three venues at the time in the gulf coast of Australia and he said yes and I was like, “Oh, awesome.” P.S. I also quit bartending. So, that was how I finally like “screwed my nine to five” because I had a different kind of 9-to-5. I had like 9 PM to 5 AM and it was certainly not what I wanted for the long haul. And so, when he said yes, that was my first foray into like an actual profitable business because like I said, before I got WebTV shows and at that time at least there was like no money in that and so that was my first foray and then I started trading dollars for hours. I’m watching Josh. He had the software company and online courses and all these things, making all this money barely working and I was like, “What am I doing wrong here?” In time, we were kind of each getting disenchanted with our businesses around pretty much the exact same time. And so, we just started tossing around the idea like what would it look like if we started a business together like what would that be? What would we do? And like how would this work?
And he is like, “Well, we could start an affiliate.” I was like, “Sounds great.” And he is like, “What should we do?” and I was like, “Uh. I don’t know. This is your world.” And he was like, “Well, I think we could do skincare.” I was like, “Sounds good,” and literally, I just went along for the ride and so I immediately threw myself into the deep end learning about skincare and like testing all these products and doing all these face masks. And it’s funny because we’ve since sold the site but there are so many videos of Josh and myself online.
[00:08:35] Scott: Oh really?
[00:08:36] Jill: It was like ridiculous homemade face mask. He was such a champion.
[00:08:40] Scott: Oh, that’s funny.
[00:08:41] Jill: He was such a trooper and so that transitioned into us like at that time we're just trying to figure out like we had never built a brand together and so we got that one rolling. It worked out really well then, we moved into a beauty site and then a fitness site, a high-heel site, like we just started personal hygiene, supplements, like we just started branching out and rinsing and repeating until we had about 30 different affiliate sites. And then as this tends to happen, as you start something new, and we seemingly don't have a “job” anymore, we were like, “What are you doing? Like, how do you make money? We’re traveling heaps.” So, they’re like, “What? Did you rob a bank? What happened here?” And so, it was actually on our wedding week which is probably the one week you shouldn't work but we were a bunch of lunatics and so we’re on the patio having a few rums if I’m being honest because it’s our wedding week, listening to Bob Marley and we are about to move to Thailand because it was a big digital nomad hotspot.
And so, we’re like, “We should really document this so that we can stop answering the same questions.” Josh was like, “Well, what would we call it?” A few rums and I was like, “Screw The Nine To Five,” and both of us were like, “Oh, my God. I wonder if that’s available,” and it was and so we just picked it up and did nothing with it for about four months because we had never built a personal brand like, yeah, we built skincare, beauty sites, or whatever but like sharing our journey like figuring out stories like services. We had never done any of that kind of stuff. So, we kind of just sat on it because we didn't really know what to do and long story short, we finally figured it out, started gaining steam, and then from there it was just snowballing and so I feel like we kind of got, we did a lot of things. We’ve offered and sold a lot of things within the six or seven years that we’ve had the Screw.
[00:10:37] Jill: And so, it’s funny because recently just actually as of January 1 we shut down all our paid offers and went back to our roots in affiliate marketing but inside the Screw brand so now we get to blend both worlds. So, both things we’re really good at is, one, having q very cheeky brand and, two, being traffic drivers. We love shining the light on other marketers and entrepreneurs and really cool things and not having to truthfully like create everything and do the fulfillment and the customer support and all that stuff. We just get to partner and send some traffic and have a great time together. So, that's my long-winded story.
[00:11:14] Scott: No. It’s great. So, you’ve been at it over six or seven years. You guys have been kind of doing your thing, kind of doing a lot of things. And I think that's one thing though, to highlight for anyone listening, is I like to think about like you're experimenting like you're playing, you’re experimenting, you're learning. Now, the big thing is, is like you're learning. Like a lot of people will say, “Well, I did this thing and it didn't really work out but you learn through that process. You learned what you're good at, what you're not good at, what you need to work on, any of that stuff. I'm curious. On those affiliate sites so was it just – because I’ve done some affiliate marketing stuff too but like so was it just like you're focusing on one niche and then like you said like makeup or skincare. So, it’s like you guys were doing all of the getting traffic and maybe getting the attention, but then you’re like these are the affiliate offers that look like they could be ones that you're just endorsing and then you're making money from that.
[00:12:09] Jill: Yes. So, affiliate marketing is simply just for anyone who may not know, is simply the process of getting traffic and then setting it through a referral link and if anyone buys through that link on that merchant’s page, you get a commission. So, in terms of the skincare site and the beauty site really, and the fitness site, all of them were very broad but we would niche down in the specific skin condition. So, things like acne, anti-aging, stretch marks, all the scars, all that kind of stuff and we would test it ourselves just to make sure like it actually works. So, we’re not just goofing anything. And then we got all of our traffic. This is how long ago. We got all of our traffic, all of our SEO, and Google rankings through guest posting. That’s it. We never pay in ads. Nothing. It was all done through just like sheer might and building links through guest posting.
[00:13:04] Scott: Wow. That’s awesome.
[00:13:05] Jill: It’s a bit different now.
[00:13:06] Scott: Yes, it is a lot different. And I mean that’s with anything and I want to talk about that too because you’re pretty good at the old Facebook thing there. You know, you built some groups and some communities and I want to talk about that. You’ve done some podcasting, you’re doing podcasting again, but I do want to know and I want to go back to you started a podcast then you ended up stopping the podcast then you started the podcast. I want to hear a little bit about that and kind of where you’re – I know you read a book recently. What was it? Clockwork I think it was.
[00:13:34] Jill: Oh yeah. I love that book so much.
[00:13:36] Scott: It’s a good book, right?
[00:13:39] Jill: Adrienne Dorison and Mike Michalowicz is so good.
[00:13:41] Scott: Yeah, really, really good but it's interesting to see how you go through these different cycles and it's also about I think too because now you have a baby and so that changed some things and it’s like, “We got to rethink this thing,” like, “And I don’t want to be building courses all the time and all this.” So, I definitely want to dig into that but so when does it become, okay, we’re going to get rid of all the affiliate stuff and we’re just going to focus on helping people screw their 9-to-5.
[00:14:10] Jill: Yeah. So, it was just the screw was really getting steam and it was our focus was split and so we made the decision of sell all our affiliate sites at that point just so that we could go all in on the Screw because we love the mission and we love the message and we just see such potential with it. And then it's funny because we kind of lost our way. We got pulled into the shiny object syndrome like on crack which is online marketing and all the potentials and all the way to make money. And it's funny because as we’re making our latest transition, I was really beating myself up like, “Oh my God, we talk so much about doing this,” and now we’re not doing it anymore and we’ve done this and this and like you said, we had a podcast and we stopped it and then we started it again. So, it seems like we've been all over the place and truthfully, I mean, we have been.
[00:15:02] Scott: Yeah.
[00:15:03] Jill: But it's allowed us to find what we really, really love and we’ve both never felt more focused and just committed than ever before because I feel like we had to cast such a wide net and have kind of like this volatile experience in order to bring it back and be super focused, but along the way we got to build some really rad communities, make some really cool friends, and connect to some really wicked entrepreneurs and like really cut our teeth in the space, build a name for ourselves, get our brand going, and now we just get to be like laser-focused on our vision going forward. I just feel like the future is so bright.
[00:15:41] Scott: Yeah. It’s scary though, right? I mean, like when you make that transition or that I'm going to announce it and once I announce it, it's going to be like, I mean, I recently just went through that again even myself like our podcast but not now for almost four years and it's cranking right along but it started out as like Amazon-based. Scott's coined as the Amazon guy and I'm like, “Well, wait a minute here. I don't want to be just the Amazon guy. I know more about marketing and I know about building brands and businesses.” So, recently, I mean, just in the past year-and-a-half, I’ve been really pivoting in that direction and, yeah, you’re going to lose some people but you're also going to gain some people and the people that are there are going to resonate with your message and why you’re doing what you’re doing but it's scary.
[00:16:23] Jill: You have to do what feels good to you like, yeah. Okay. Cool. You might lose some people. I mean, there's more where that came from and like we have such a huge opportunity online to like really impact people's lives and you can't do that if you're doing something based around what you think you should be doing because that's what you built everything off of in the first place and I just feel like when we started having some big realizations which coincidentally happened right after we had a human, I…
[00:16:54] Scott: It happens.
[00:16:56] Jill: And we just had to start asking ourselves some hard questions which I’m sure you had to do as well like what do I really want to do moving forward? And if you don’t have clarity around that, I mean, I feel like that's why we were so all over the place, why we did try so many things because we were out of alignment. And so, when you're out of alignment, I feel like the pain of unalignment is real like you’ll just throw more stuff onto your path to be like, “Well, maybe this will make you feel better or maybe this will make you feel better and maybe I’ll like this or maybe we’ll feel better here.”
So, it's because people don't want to ever stop and actually ask themselves the hard questions like, “What do I really want?” because when you ask yourself that, you have to be prepared to answer that and make the decisions off the back of that because if you realize that you aren’t doing what you really want to be doing, you have two choices. Stay doing what you’re doing and be like, “Oh cool, I have all this clarity. I’m not going to do anything about it because I’m too scared.” Or you’re going to like pull up your skirt and make some big bold decisions and like open yourself up to some criticism but stay true to what you want and build the life that actually mean something to you and so we chose the latter.
[00:18:07] Scott: Yeah. What I find for a lot of people in the beginning, especially is they are chasing the money.
[00:18:15] Jill: It’s for sure. We did as well.
[00:18:16] Scott: You know what I mean? And so, the hard part with that is, is the shiny objects look good because this way it’s easier. At least this person said it's easier because they’re standing in front of two Lamborghinis and then I know that that way is easier because they’re showing me all this stuff but this person over here is telling me it’s a little bit longer but it's not. So, it’s kind of like that thing in the beginning, you’re chasing the money. How do you help people in your community not do that? Because that's a big one, right? It's like how do you give them a result? Because we’re result-driven, right? It’s like we got to see that result either dollars or subscribers. How do you do that?
[00:18:50] Jill: So, all I can do is just like keep it real with them and share my own experience and share the stories that have impacted me and gotten us to where we are at currently and that is through going through some ups and downs and having some critics. People think we’re totally crazy to shut down everything we shut down but like reminding people that, look, anyone can make money online, right? Anyone. If you make a dollar online, you’d make 100. If you can make 100, you can make 1,000, blah, blah, blah. But like building a business and a company is a different animal. And so, you need to get clear on what you want because if you just want to make money online, you can throw up a website, get some AdSense and like, yay, you’re making money online. But if you want to build a company, you need to have patience, resilience, commitment, dedication. You have to have a bigger reason for doing things other than just money because it turns out, I mean, just personally from my own experience, you can make all the money in the world but if you don't like what you’re doing, it doesn't matter because it’s still going to feel like everything sucks.
So, all I can do is just like keep it real with people and share my experience around that because a lot of people thought we were insane to shut down a membership that was over $300,000 a year. But it didn’t matter to me because I didn't like it anymore. I loved it for three out of four years and then Kai came into our world and I was just like I took nine days off after having a kid like because I had people like, “When are you coming back?” I was like, “I just had a human, guys. Can you give me a minute?”
[00:20:27] Scott: Give me an extra day.
[00:20:29] Jill: And so, just like that caused us to ask some pretty big questions like I said. So, I prefer to remind people that like if you push it and if you, I mean, you can do everything you want but if your mindset isn’t as strong, if you aren’t clear on where you want to go, it’s not going to matter because you’re going to sabotage the sh*t out of it anyway. So, I mean, it's always so key and so important to not only get your mind right but get clear on where you want to go and then stay dedicated to that and not worry about the end result because if your success is inevitable and it is, then you know it's all going to work out. So, you just chill the F out and do the work versus we went, “Why isn’t this happening? Why isn’t this happening? Why isn’t this happening?” Because all you’re doing is perpetuating that and then you’re just stuck in a cycle of like a spiral of ugly crying.
[00:21:21] Scott: Yeah. You know, you're absolutely right. I mean, self-sabotage is huge. We all do it to ourselves. We second-guess ourselves. I mean, and it's at different levels too like we’re doing our first live event like next year like 250 to 300 people and it's like it's a big deal. I’ve done smaller ones, the 25 people, and they’re easy now what to do. They were scary though, but then now this is like holy crap like am I going to be able to get sponsors? Am I going to be able to get people to come? You start asking all these questions but a year-and-a-half ago I wasn’t asked those questions, because I wasn’t thinking about doing that. So, it’s just as you grow, I think you're going to have bigger challenges and bigger decisions and you had a big decision to make. You’re like do we shut this thing down? And that's bringing in our income or do we just keep doing it because it’s bringing in income or do we need to be happy? We have the lifestyle we want. Big questions.
[00:22:11] Jill: I’m stressed over it for so long because I didn’t want to let people down. Like they had spent – some of our members had been in there for all four years and it really stressed me out because, A, I had such a crippling fear of judgment I think before we actually made that decision but then I realized like I'm making decisions off what other people would want me to do and not what I would want to do and truthfully, when you show up that way, you’re actually doing them a disservice because Josh and I were like begrudgingly showing up at the end. Not at the end but like before we made a decision.
[00:22:44] Scott: Sure.
[00:22:45] Jill: We’re just like, “God, this feels like death. Why does this feel like death?” You know what I mean? Like everything just felt so heavy. When you are trying to serve from that place like I really believe you're doing a disservice because I was getting impatient with people. I would show up to my hot seats and if it was the same question, I’d be like, “Oh my God, guys, are we still talking about…” That’s not what they deserve. That’s not what they want to hear. That’s not what they’re paying for. And so, we had to check ourselves and figure out like, “What do we actually want to do? And how can we actually help people in a way that feels good to us or us has to make an impact in a bigger way?”
[00:23:23] Scott: Yeah. How was the response from the group? Because you had a ton of people in your free group, but also in your paid group. So, you had both of those because you kind of closed the group down. I kind of want to talk about the first close down and talk about that and then you restarted it and then you closed it again.
[00:23:40] Jill: Well, it’s three groups.
[00:23:41] Scott: I know. So, walk me through that like you're a great communicator and the one thing that I struggle with is getting in every day and touching people every day like it's hard to mix it. That sounds really bad. I’m talking to my wife, “Honey, no, that's not what I'm doing here online.” But actually, like communicating with people like I want to be there but there's so many other things that I'm doing to maintain what's happening and as we grow, we get more demands but you have to talk to those people and you have to communicate, you have to show up. I find that a huge struggle. I have a group right now that's over 55,000 and it's like I have admins and stuff and I more or less try to really just take care of my pay group because they're actually paying but like the free ones, I try to show up there and answer a few questions. There’s no way I can. It’s impossible.
[00:24:31] Jill: That’s what’s funny because so 55,000 that's more than I had as well like my first group got up to 45,000. Truthfully, I really feel like I went against my gut because I wanted to close it at 20. Not close it down but like close the doors and then keep it at 20 because I felt like that was my sweet spot because no one was spamming really, well, that’s a lie. The spamming was lower. It was much more easier to manage because you have to devote a ton of time and resources to it because let’s keep it real, 55,000 members. You need a lot of admins. Your days are spent deleting things like is that really how you want to just…
[00:25:11] Scott: Oh yeah.
[00:25:12] Jill: So, like also my first group I felt lost its charm because people were seeing it as like, “Oh my God, there's 45,000 people I could sell to,” and so it’s just a constant barrage of moderating posts and that’s boring and I don't want to spend my day that way and I didn’t want my moderators to sit there like, “That's what their day look like, combing through a Facebook group for [expletive]?” So, we shut that one down more so, so that I could move the believers and the really engage people, the lifers into the next group where, you see, I had two choices. Either burn it down and walk away from groups which I wasn’t willing to do at that point because this was 2017 or I could hit the reset button and start a new one where, again, I moved the believers into that group. So, that's what I chose to do. It was great and again, like once we started to toss around the idea or dance the idea of shutting down Screw You.
And then once we went through Clockwork which I'm sure we'll get into, that book that you mentioned, it was abundantly clear because Mike Michalowicz does this for the mix thingie that he exercise. If you read the book, you'll know what I'm talking about but it’s essentially tracking your time and like how much are you spending on things that actually move the needle and the Facebook group is taking 10 to 15 hours a week of just me and I had three other moderators in there. And it was an easy decision the minute we figured that out because our QBR, again, that’s our clockwork reference, but it stands for Queen Bee Role and if you read the book, you’ll know what I mean. But it is essentially the single most important aspect of your business that when you focus on it, your business grows, and when you don’t, it dies. Not dies but decreases, stagnate, loses momentum. And we were spending two hours a week on our QBR verses 10 to 15 hours a week on something that wasn't – it was moving the needle but not in the way that QBR was for us and QBR for us is content.
[00:27:11] Jill: And so, it was an easy decision at that point. Yes, I was very scared to make that announcement again because I was like, “Oh my God, I just look like this chick who doesn’t have her sh*t together, who keep shutting things down,” but it was almost like we were shedding a skin in 2018 which sounds absolutely disgusting but it was just kind of Screw 1.0 and now we’re into Screw 2.0 and that doesn’t – it has groups in it but it’s pop-up groups. Not 24/7 groups. More people come in and just use it as an echo chamber that ask questions and market research and pitch people, and I just didn't want that anymore. So, now in 2019 we do pop-up groups that are topic-focused so we have one on audience building, one on membership sites, and one on we’re doing an employee entrepreneur challenge so they’ll be very focused. They’ll be like four weeks, maybe six weeks max and then so we get to like get our community building fix in there and then wish everyone well and wait until the next one. So, it’s pushing us in that way.
[00:28:10] Scott: Yeah. So, you’re not expected to stay there past the six weeks?
[00:28:14] Jill: Totally. Yeah.
[00:28:15] Scott: Okay. Yeah. That makes sense. So, you don't have to worry about managing like ten groups which you could have to do. You wouldn’t want to do that. All right. So, lead me through that though. So, when you went through the book, like what was your main takeaway that you are like, “Wow,” like…
[00:28:34] Jill: QBR.
[00:28:35] Scott: Yeah. Was it? Okay. Why don’t you talk a little bit more about that? Because I know you did a podcast episode on it. We can actually link that up too. You and Josh went through that and I listened to that episode. It was really good. So, yeah, just explain what that means.
[00:28:50] Jill: Okay. So, in the book, Clockwork, by Mike Michalowicz, his partner is my girlfriend Adrienne Dorison and she comes from a lean business background, systems, organizational efficiency, and so they partnered together for this book. And so, the biggest takeaway for us at least was QBR. QBR stands for Queen Bee Role and the reason they call it that is because they were looking for the most efficient organization in the world and it turns out that’s bees and bees have one central role, protect the queen bee, and the queen bee's role is to populate the species and if the queen bee can’t lay eggs, she’s either killed or she kills herself and she's replaced. So, everything that all the bees do is to protect her and their theory is like, “What is that for your business?” because all of our businesses have one thing that when we focused on them like with hypervigilance, our business grows and when we take our eye off it, things stagnate, they decrease, whatever. They feel like death, right?
And so, he has you go through this a few exercises actually where it helps you determine what your queen bee role is, your QBR, and for us we realized it’s content. So, we upped our podcast frequency from one to three episodes a week. We’re going to start getting into videos. We were doing blogging. We have this new roundup series called the hookup. We’re doing these pop-up groups. Like, all of it is centered around content and not just like random content, very purposeful intentional content so that it ultimately leads somewhere. So, for us because we've transitioned our business model into an affiliate-only revenue model, that allows us to partner with people who are hell-bent on creating amazing educational experiences that we just aren’t.
[00:30:47] Jill: And we can create content around those topics and drive a massive amount of attention to them and trust that they will take care of our audience and give them the best possible experience. And then for big launches or anything that we’re a part of, we get to sweeten the deal with our bonus experiences but that is all driven through content and so once we realized that, it was just a process of being like, “All right, well, that’s gone, that’s gone. This is gone. That’s gone. This is gone. That’s gone.” This allows you to have a really simple, streamlined lean business and that's what we're looking for, for this next phase of our business, especially as we have a baby. We just want to have our time back. Like, I said to another podcaster I was talking to last week and I was like, “Look, I'm looking to make an easy million and by like easy, I don't mean simple. I mean EASE-Y. I want ease. That’s our core values, our alignment is bold affiliate and profit. And so, all of that we had to mold our business around things that actually matter to us and that was 100% ease, flow, abundance, alignment. That's our north star now.
[00:32:04] Scott: Nice. I like that. So, how has it been since the pivot? Because it always sounds good on paper. You mapped it all out.
[00:32:15] Jill: Feels free AF. I’m not going to lie. Like, I woke up on New Year's Day and I was like this is the first day in over four years where I haven't woken up and then I, “I should check the Facebook group to see if anyone spammed it. I should check the Facebook group to see if anyone is like complaining or to see if anyone needs help or if I have to answer questions or whatever.” I just had my time back for once and I feel like because let’s keep it rolling. It was really noisy and really competitive in our space and so a lot of us feel like we have to do all the things in order to stand out but what happens if we did less better? What happens if we were able to just laser focus on the things that actually move the needle for our business, cut away all the excess back, and just show up in the way we want to show up? And I understand that a lot of people probably think that was a stupid move but I don’t care because they don’t have to live this, they don’t have to be in our business. And so, we had to do what felt good to us and that was just single focusing on the few things that feel good to us.
[00:33:20] Scott: Yeah. So, I'm thinking about it for like your situation going through that. Again, maybe you have the answer. Like, so you’re creating this content and a lot of times in the content we have calls to action. So, in that call to action, you might be like, “All right, we planned out the content schedule, we partnered with someone. Now, for the next six weeks we’re going to be driving a lot of attention or four weeks or whatever it is. All of our content is going to be focused around this building or it’s going to be focused around how to find your niche or whatever it is.” And so, you do that and you have podcast that live on forever. You have YouTube videos that live on forever. Is there a way that – are people going to come in to that funnel in a sense and then be not led to the right place three months from now, six months from now? That would be my worry.
[00:34:06] Jill: Yeah. And that's happened a million times since we shut down all our other stuff like I’ve had a bunch of people be like, “Oh, Screw’s not open anymore,” and I was like, “Oh yeah, sorry. Where did you find the link?” And so, we’re always just constantly asked because it’s right to catch them all but something great. It is what it is.
[00:34:25] Scott: Sure.
[00:34:26] Jill: I try to not let myself stress out about that because like whatever, that’s going to happen. And truthfully, we don't actually devote that much time on our like public-facing content from facing content like podcasts like, yes, we’ll have people on our podcast we were partnering with or we’ll do a few topics or episodes around that particular focus for the month or the quarter or whatever but anytime that we’re driving to a link whether it’s a pop-up group or anything like that, that link is always going to redirect for like a waiting list if it’s closed for the time. So, we have like if you were to go to ScrewTheNineToFive.com/Popup you would see like our list of pop-ups so far. So, that will always just be there and will always just be like a directory of the pop-up groups we’re going to have and then if for some reason in a few years we decide not to do pop-up groups, then we’ll redirect and just explain why that link is no longer active.
[00:35:22] Scott: Yeah. That makes sense. Using a pretty link or whatever you can easily redirect all that stuff in the future too. Okay. So, as far as traffic going, we’ll talk a little bit about that. So, are you, I mean, some people are saying email is dead.
[00:35:37] Jill: I feel like people have been saying that for years.
[00:35:39] Scott: I know. It’s just like…
[00:35:39] Jill: It’s still in the box.
[00:35:41] Scott: Exactly. So, you know, traffic-wise like so what is your goal so you can create these resources and share it with more people? Is it just getting podcast downloads? I mean, we both know downloads are great, but unless someone actually gets on our list of some kind, it's hard to communicate with those people. So, what is the traffic strategy, I guess, for you guys so that way there you can also build an asset that you also have?
[00:36:07] Jill: Yeah. So, we have a few. We love organic traffic driven through our SEO. It’s our fave. Because the intent around those people coming to your site is typically looking for more information or wanting to build or wanting to purchase something. So, we kind of have a three-pronged approach to our affiliate revenue model and that we have product reviews that are ranked through organic SEO traffic so we don't run any ads or anything like that to it. They just rank and bank. Then we do partner webbies every month. I shouldn’t say every month because we don’t have them every month yet but eventually that’s the goal. That is driven through email list which was built off the back of our quiz and the hookup, and the hookup is if you’ve ever heard of theSkimm, that was my vision for the hookup. So, they’re the perfect example of why email isn’t dead. Their email list is like over 6 million people have subscribed to get a daily email from them. I read it every single day. They do it through email. So, anyway, anytime someone says emails are dead, I’m like, “Have you read theSkimm though?”
[00:37:15] Scott: Right.
[00:37:18] Jill: So, we build our list through certain areas like that through the hookup, through the quiz, through just little freebies that we have. We’re going to have a freebie vault then we have our social media and then Facebook ads and then also I do a lot of podcast interviews like this kind of thing. That is I said to Nicky who’s our number two, our integrator, Nicky, I was saying to her, “At the end of this year, the only thing Josh and I want to be doing is shooting podcast, shooting videos, and getting on other people’s shows and that’s it.” So, that is pure QBR. Like, for us, that is like all we are doing is QBR in that one and she runs everything else. So, that is how we build traffic, getting in front of other people's audiences, building through organic SEO, running Facebook traffic, building out really strong social media, and then, yeah, that’s all organic other people’s email list, podcast, videos, social. Yeah.
[00:38:11] Scott: Yeah. That’s a lot though.
[00:38:12] Jill: A lot of things really.
[00:38:14] Scott: Yeah. And in lot of the stuff I'm sure that you’re being able to take that content and like if you're doing a podcast you probably do a blog post on it, you can do all that other stuff, the show notes, all that stuff helps, video, any of that stuff, and you guys I haven’t even checked yet. Have you guys gotten into YouTube yet at all?
[00:38:32] Jill: So, this is another thing we did and then stopped. That was our first form of content when we first started and we get a lot of video back in 2013 and 2014 and then in 2014 we started on our podcast then phased out the videos because they were time-consuming for us because we script them because we weren’t comfortable but now, we’re just going to do very much off-the-cuff kind of like our podcast. We barely edit our podcast. We just wanted to be like that like Joe Rogan style, very conversational, unedited, uncensored. And so, we’re just trying to create high-frequency, high-quality. That’s our ultimate goal. So, the beauty of knowing your QBR is now you can build a team around that or us doing the only thing that only us can do and that’s creating the voice and the face stuff. And then that's also another reason why we shut down our stuff because you get into the weeds of fulfillment if you do.
There’s customer support, there’s deliverables, there’s fulfillment, there's launches, there’s promotions, there’s then doing the coaching or whatever you’re choosing to do the membership, the live event, the course, whatever, services. And so, we’re like, “What happens if we made money selling nothing?” And so, we could just stick to marketing. That's all we do is we market and we build audience and traffic and we give them the best experience we possibly can.
[00:39:59] Scott: Yeah. So, now really for you guys it's really getting people in on different topics and then you’re kind of creating those resources and it's like, “Hey, if you want this download or cheat sheet or whatever,” they can get it and then also they can be part of your bonus pop-up group if they joined which is smart. Yeah.
[00:40:15] Jill: And I really believe like in a year from now or so our bonus experiences will have waitlist because it will be the only way to work with us. So, I know it's not for everyone, like not everyone wants that kind of business. I totally understand. A lot of people love coaching. A lot of people love memberships and you should be because they’re fantastic. They just weren’t for us anymore.
[00:40:41] Scott: Yeah. Well, again, I think for anyone listening it's like you did that for a while. It worked for a while and then you’re like, “Eh, something’s calling me here. I got to do something different because I just feel like I'm not aligned,” and, I mean, that's happened. I’ve been in business now for 15 years brick-and-mortar all the way to online and launches and all that stuff and it's just always, it just led to the next thing like the next door open door you got tired of one thing and you felt like you needed new energy or whatever. Life changes. You have a new baby.
[00:41:09] Jill: Totally. And I want to continue being creative and if what I'm doing no longer serves then I’m going to embrace my inner Madonna and reinvent it. Yeah. You just have to I think it all comes down to just getting clear on what you want to do and not being afraid of what people think of your decisions because truthfully, I feel like it paralyzed us for a long time and so we kept doing things we didn't want to do because we’re like but we’re known for this like yay. Like, the expectations we put on ourselves, which is like we’re known in this like tiny fraction of a little niche online like who gives a shit? You have to do what feels best to you and here’s a thing. Attention is the currency online and if you don't have it, it’s going to be hard to sell anything. And so, if you know that then our sheer focus is building attention.
[00:42:05] Scott: Yeah. I literally just said that the other day on a Facebook live I was doing. I’m like, “Guys, I’m telling you something, the new currency is attention in your market. Period.”
[00:42:11] Jill: It is.
[00:42:13] Scott: Like, I said that for years, and you've done it, the same thing. If you have attention, you pretty much can sell anything as long as you're delivering the right message and you’re tracking the right people. It's that simple.
[00:42:24] Jill: And everything is easier. Building your social media, building your email list, packing the webinars, getting people to your live events, doing affiliate promotion, selling anything, brand collaborations, podcast stuff, like it's all easier when you have attention. And the precursor to attention is content.
[00:42:39] Scott: Yes. It’s helping people without really asking for them to pay you and, I mean, how many people listen to your podcast, my podcast, whoever, and they never buy a single thing?
[00:42:49] Jill: Oh, I’m sure.
[00:42:50] Scott: Yeah. That's fine, right? But there's people that are going to and those are the people you’re going to help and serve at a different level and those people pay. It's worked for years. It’s just so many people are always like, “Well, why would I give away all my stuff? They’re not paying me.” It’s like, “You don't get it.”
[00:43:09] Jill: It’s like, “Free stuff. Let’s check that out.” But I also think just because those people may not buy something directly from you doesn't mean that they're not picking up on a book recommendation that you’re giving which is driven through on Amazon affiliate or a resource page or a simple mention or just being on your social media and engaging with you.
[00:43:31] Scott: Engaging, right.
[00:41:33] Jill: Which then attract sponsors or whatever. There are so many ways to make money online. Just because you're not selling a course directly to someone, doesn't mean that I don't even want to say that you’re not making money from them because that feel so gross but like that it’s not worth your time.
[00:43:49] Scott: Yeah. Well, I look at it like the payment is them commenting and liking and sharing and being present like that's a payment. That’s a form of payment because that helps everything else and it is what it is. You know, so I like that a lot. All right. Let's wrap this up. I know that you're on a little bit of a vacation over there in some nice weather. Yeah. So, I don’t want to take up too much of your time but I did want to get you on. It's been a while like I said, I want to finally get to meet you in person. I'm sure we'll run into each other at an event or something. But, yeah, I definitely appreciate you coming on. What is like something you could give people that are like in this? They’re stuck, they’re thinking to themselves, “Wow. I got myself in a corner now. I’m not really sure where to go. I don’t want to let this thing go because I put so much time and effort into it but I know I should.” What would you say to that person?
[00:44:39] Jill: The only thing you need to do is ask yourself what you want. What do you really want? And it’s the hardest question to answer sometimes because you’re like, “But these people want me to do this and my family wants me to do this,” but what do you want? What do you want for your life? And then once you have that clarity because it will take a while because you kind of have to like strip away all the nonsense then you’ll have to make a decision like am I going to go back for the future I want that I just got clear on or am I going to continue to play small?
So, if you’re going to have the courage to go for it and I really hope you do, then you have to – the best thing I would say is read the book, Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself, to be honest if you’re in this position, because I read it four times as I was going through this, because it really helps you understand your behaviors and your beliefs. And so, if you can ask yourself these questions, “What do I really want and am I willing to go for it?” that book will help set you up in a belief sense in your personality and the habits you have, and the thoughts you choose to think and the people you surround yourself with, that, I mean, it all stemmed from that for me. It made such an impact for me.
[00:45:55] Scott: What was the name of that book again?
[00:45:56] Jill: Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza.
[00:46:00] Scott: Okay. Cool. We’ll link that up for sure.
[00:46:02] Jill: It’s so good.
[00:46:03] Scott: Yeah. I’ll grab that. I don’t even have that one.
[00:46:04] Jill: I listen to the audiobook.
[00:46:06] Scott: Yeah. That’s good.
[00:46:07] Jill: It’s a book on neuroscience and quantum physics and that sounds really dry. So, if you aren’t into reading books on neuroscience and quantum physics which I’m like how the F did I start reading a book on quantum physics. That’s why I listened to the audiobook because I listen to it at 1.5 and you can rewind it and hence, why I read it four times because I was like, “What?” the first time. But if you're in a position where you know you want something different, you need to start changing the way you show up and that starts with your beliefs and how you choose to be in the world. And so, one thing I was saying, when people say like, “Okay cool, but what happens when I do have the clarity of what I wanted to do?” I’m like, “Well, how would that person, how would future you behave now like how would they be? Would they be doing something they don't like? Would they be depressed? Would they be forcing something? Would they be surrounding themselves with negative people? Would they not be working out?
Like how would they be behaving? Be that way now and then you will fast track your journey there because you will start showing up that way now and that is the first key to everything, to having the alignment and the clarity and the purpose in your life is by setting a certain intention and showing up as that person now.
[00:47:29] Scott: Yeah. It’s funny. I had James Clear on about his book, Atomic Habits, really good book and I love the part where he said you almost have to become that person before you’re that person. So, you have to do exactly what that person is go – if you want to be in shape then you need to be that person that's in shape every single day and if you don't, you got to get back on but you have to be that person. Because if you're not, you'll never be that person and it's kind of hard to understand but you have to get in that mindset and I’m glad that you brought up mindset because so many people think that it's like tactics and strategy. A lot of it is this, right? It’s the mind.
[00:48:04] Jill: 90% that, right? It’ll make or break you.
[00:48:09] Scott: Yeah.
[00:48:10] Jill: Yeah. And it’s so funny. Is James Clear the one that talks about 1% better every day?
[00:48:14] Scott: Yes, I believe it is.
[00:48:15] Jill: Yeah. Okay. So, I took that really to heart when I heard that and this is a lot of what Dr. Joe Dispenza talks about in Breaking The Habit because he is all about being the way you want to be in the future now. So, like personally for myself when we were going through this and we were making the decision I was like, “Okay. So, who would that person,” like who is future Jill? Like, how is she showing up? Is she stressed? Is she doing what she hates? Like is she doing all the nitty-gritty or is she happy? Stress free? She has childcare. She's not living in Toronto in the winter.” So, once we had clarity on who we wanted to be, we started putting all of the things in a place. We made the big decisions, we announced it to everyone and it’s funny because you're about to run a live event next year and we actually told our members at our live event which was very stressful. But met with so much support and love and tears and all things that is the greatest experience but I had to be that way now in order to get to where I wanted to go faster and so that was a huge breakthrough for me from that book.
[00:49:19] Scott: Yeah. And let me, I know we said we’re going to wrap up, but what…
[00:49:22] Jill: I don’t mind but let’s just keep going.
[00:49:24] Scott: I know. Did you have doubts after you announced it again?
[00:49:32] Jill: I like really emotionally imploded, probably right after, when we got home from our live event because I was like, “Holy crap, it’s official.” Like we just got down our biggest revenue stream and I had a good two to three days of like did we just make the biggest mistake of our lives? Did we just make the biggest mistake of our lives? Did we just make the biggest mistake of our lives? We have a son. Is he screwed for life now?” But I had to just be like, “No, I would not have been given or Josh and I would not have been given this clarity and this moment of inspiration if we weren’t supposed to act on it,” because the minute we had the – because really it came down to, it was in June and we’re on our patio having a drink and Josh said, we’re just kind of like we’re so upset of just feeling stuck and everything feeling heavy, and he was like, “Well, what have we liked in business before?” And I said, “Nothing.” What a [expletive] response. And he was like, “No, that’s not true. We have liked something,” and I was like, “What? What was it?”
It was affiliate marketing and it was just like, boom, the heavens parted and all of a sudden, the path lit up and then once you had that clarity like how do you even turn away from that? You have no choice but to follow it because it feels so good. And so, yeah, I don’t even know where I was going with that but that’s where the alignment started.
[00:50:57] Scott: Yeah. Well, again, you make that big decision or even like me announcing like I'm doing an event next year and all of a sudden, I’m like, “Holy crap, like now it’s going to happen like it’s really going to happen.” And then sponsors start paying and I got sponsors that actually are paying. They’re already lining up to pay and I’m like, “Holy crap, now I’m taking sponsors and I've got to make this happen,” and so it's scary and I know that it'll work out and I know it’ll be fine but it’s scary but you have those second-guessing yourself all the time and I think we all do as entrepreneurs depending on where you are.
[00:51:30] Jill: I mean, we put ourselves on the line almost every damn day. The ups and downs are real and not a lot of people understand that but if you have the guts to go for it and you have the stomach to be able to handle it, you can make magic.
[00:51:44] Scott: Yeah. No, I agree and I think anyone can go out there and build a lifestyle business to their needs. They don't have to look inside and I think that’s the other thing, people compare themselves to everyone else. Oh, look at that person. They post everything in Instagram and they’re always perfect and everything is great and then they compare themselves to that Facebook, same thing, but it's like in reality that person is probably struggling in their own way. You’re just not seeing it.
[00:52:08] Jill: I know some like I have some friends who have some seriously big businesses and they can be a mess behind the scenes. They have all the same insecurities. They have all the same worries. They just have a bigger team to worry about and we’re on the line.
[00:52:25] Scott: Yeah. 100%.
[00:52:26] Jill: So, it’s all relative.
[00:52:27] Scott: Yeah. It is. All right. Cool. So, how can people get a hold of you, guys? Because I know you guys have not the community that you had but you have a better one because now it's actually more specific so how can people find out more about you guys?
[00:52:40] Jill: Well, the easiest way is to come hang with us on our website, ScrewTheNineToFive.com all spelled out, no numbers or I’m seriously infatuated with Instagram and so I’m @screwtheninetofive, again, all spelled out, no numbers. Or if you want to get in on the hookup, that’s my new obsessions as well and that’s over at ScrewTheNineToFive.com/Hookup.
[00:53:01] Scott: Awesome. Yeah. I’ll link everything up in the show notes too but everyone listening, definitely go check out Jill and Josh. They’re a great couple, new parents and a new life here ahead of them, and just great, great people. I’ve been following you guys for a while and just great attitudes and also, people that you can trust online because I know that’s not always an easy thing. So, Jill, I want to thank you once again. Enjoy the rest of your vacation and I’m sure we’ll be in touch.
[00:53:26] Jill: Thank you so much for having me. I had such a blast.
[00:53:29] Scott: All right. So, that is a wrap. That was a really great interview and again, those are just questions I had for Jill and hopefully you can see just from that interview alone, there's a lot of things that you can do and there's a lot of things you might be doing right now that might not be what you're going to be doing in five years from now or ten years from now but what you need to understand is everything that you're doing, every action step that you take is going to be educating you along the way. There's things that I was doing in my photography business over 15 years ago that I'm still using today. It helped me to grow into the business owner that I am today and I just wanted you to hear the story because you would look at that and go, “Why the heck would someone just close that entire revenue stream?” Well, that is why and you heard it from Jill herself. And who knows, in five years they could be in another direction and the one thing that I want to say and that she said and I want to highlight this is attention is the new currency and I truly, truly believe that.
So, go over and check out Screw The Nine To Five with Josh and Jill. I’m going to try to get those guys back on again maybe even separately so we can dig into some of that SEO stuff that Josh knows and Jill about building communities. So, if you want to grab the show notes, the transcripts and all that stuff, head on over to TheAmazingSeller.com/621. You can grab everything over there. All right. So, that's going to wrap up this episode officially and as always, remember, I’m here for you, I believe in you, and I am rooting for you, but you have to, you have to, come on, say it with me, say it loud, say it proud, take action! Have an awesome amazing day! And I’ll see you right back here on the next episode.
LINKS MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE
- Screw The Nine To Five
- Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself
- Breaking The Habit of Being Yourself
- Atomic Habits
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