Elena Mutonono

Elena Mutonono: Grow Your Language Teaching Business the Smart Way (#300)

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Our guest today: Elena Mutonono

Elena Mutonono is a seasoned business coach who helps online language teachers move beyond 1:1 lessons and create a smarter system that lets you teach on your own terms and guarantees a stable income. Elena is the author and co-author of 6 books, the creator of several online courses and the hostess in the Smart Teacher’s Library — a community for online language teachers and coaches.

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Transcript

Grow Your Language Teaching Business the Smart Way with Elena Mutonono – powered by Happy Scribe

Three, two, one. Hi everyone. This is Fei from FeisWorld Media. I am really thrilled to be here with my new friend, Elena Mutonono. Welcome, Elena.

So good to have you here. Say thank you so much for inviting me. This is exciting. I enjoy being new people and particularly people that resonated with my work and my story. My life part of my life anyway. So I’m really thrilled to be here.

Yeah, I like when you mention part of your life because everything we do online could be it just really is just a reflection. So slice of our life. And I will do kind of an informed introduction for those of you who haven’t heard of Elena, I hadn’t as of a few weeks ago, but I had to reach out to her immediately. I wanted to describe or how I found your work. I was looking for a way to easily, more quickly delete my Facebook groups that I have been running for years. And your article resonated on so many levels. I can’t believe I read this quickly. And I remember just the way that you approach the issue about I remember talking to your husband about like, oh, maybe I shouldn’t give up. And that’s exactly how I felt. It’s like I nurtured this group should be with me forever, no matter what. But I have transformed into a different type of entrepreneur, a different type of person. And sometimes the group just you feel like not it doesn’t serve you anymore, but in a way that I don’t think I can really serve and or service the people in the group as much as I could.

So that’s the reason. But before we get in there, everyone should go ahead and just check out Alana’s website. It is just incredible. You can see the heart and soul that she put into her work. I binge and read the site for maybe three, four or 5 hours straight. I had the tab open, I couldn’t close it. She’s a seasoned business coach who helped particularly online language teachers. But much beyond that, I think, and I’ve never taught languages for one day in my life to help people online entrepreneurs going from the one on one lessons or one on one consulting gigs to creating a much better and smarter system that let them teach their own terms and guarantees a stable income. And Elena, you authored six books, the creator of several online courses, and you’re the host in the Smart Teachers Library community for online language teachers and coaches. You’re also one of the organizers of the Online Teacher’s Summit, an annual online conference that bring together hundreds of online language teachers and coaches and inspire them to move towards working smarter. So there you go.

Yes. Thank you, Faye. This was a good introduction. I appreciate that.

Yes. So let’s dive right in. I would love to find out your origin story for people to realize. It’s 2022 as we’re recording this. You’ve been writing blogging for a long time. What made you want to start that website? What was the initial stage? Like the year, one, month? One? It looked like, yeah.

So I started out teaching online as a language teacher, as an experiment. In 2008, I found a friend on social media that I hadn’t seen in a while. And we happen to be living in different towns still in Ukraine. I’m originally from Ukraine, currently have been living in the US for twelve years. I had come to the US prior to get my degree, but I got married twelve years ago and moved. So yeah, so she asked me if I could teach her English and I couldn’t go back to the city, it would be very inconvenient. So we decided to do that on Skype. And that’s how it all started. And over time I felt like, what would it be like if I had several clients like that? And it happened. So that my job at a college where I taught folded, and so I got to try and do that on my own. And that was what my business was like in the beginning. I started doing it full time when I moved to the US in 2000, and still in this experimental kind of phase, I was still trying to figure out, okay, what’s going to come out of it?

But that was the first time when I learned about online marketing. Because when you do not have word of mouth, which is what I was using locally, or even though I was working with people online, I was still kind of there in the area. I was in Ukraine, but now that I was in the US, how could I do that? And that’s when all my journey started. I started a YouTube channel and LinkedIn and a lot of open, everything possible. Social media was different at the time, strategies were different at the time, and I continued teaching students for four years and it went the hardest. The challenge, of course, with anybody who does online, it just goes up and down and so it’s very unstable. And so I was trying to figure out how to do it in a more stable way and I would create an online course. Of course, that’s what they told us. But then you still get to the point, it’s like, okay, how do I sell this? Because I only have in my database, maybe I have 30 people that know me through online teaching, but other than that, how do I reach beyond that?

So in 2014, several events happened in Ukraine and Russia. And at that time I had only worked with the Russian speaking audience. I only wrote in Russian. I did all of my marketing in Russian. And those events really prompted me to because I had lost at the time 95% of my clientele. So what am I going to do? So I decided that I will try and reach to the English speaking clientele, which was quite different. And that’s how Elenamotrono.com came to be. And that’s when I realized, okay, I cannot teach everybody everything, which is what I had done for four years. I need to focus. I need to niche. But even at that point, I couldn’t choose. I wanted to still teach English. I did excellent training for a few years, and I still wanted to do coaching for teachers who wanted to go online. But that’s when the blog started, and that’s when I went into the English speaking space.

What year was the did you start the blog?

2014 14.

Oh, interesting. I think that’s something I was going to mention because I started Phaser Old Black House also in 2014, and that was over, specifically. And then as a result, it became a springboard for me to start my business. And in January 2016, our timeline sort.

Of get in there. That’s true. That’s true, because I started in at the end of 2014. That’s when I also created my first online course that was in English. And it was scary to put myself out there as an English speaking nonnative speaker in the online language teaching world. That’s like a big conundrum. Like, do I use my own language, my native language, or do I use the target language, as we call it? And it’s just really, really it was hard to see myself as someone who can reach a global audience by using English.

I’m going to pause. There’s so much to really break down there. Because there is a. I would say a really interesting. Substantial follower of mine who are. Like. For instance. Of Asian descent. But really all kinds of ethnicities and backgrounds. Which makes me so interested in running this channel. Frankly. Even believe it or not. There are also North Americans who follow my work and thinking twice about perhaps they have an accent. A regional accent. Or they feel like they’re just not good. I’m not a good writer. I never will be a good writer. I have so much inside of me, but I don’t know how to express it, how to organize them. So I would like to break down the fear. Do you remember if there’s a certain moment, event, or kind of a period of time where you realize, you know what, I’m just going to put some work out there and to prove yourself wrong, maybe to a certain degree, that.

Maybe people are more supportive of your work than you thought? Like I said, I had two niches. The first one was accent training. And I thought, well, how good am I as an accent trainer? I am a non native English speaker. What can I do? But I had substantial by then, experience teaching non native speakers how to speak English more clearly. So all of a sudden, I thought, okay, let’s look at my limitations, but let’s look at the things that I bring to the table. And I realized that I, as an Accent Trainer and non native speaking Accent Trainer at the time, I could actually give people a completely different outlook on how they can master certain skills that they need for communication. And from that perspective, when I saw myself from that perspective, I gained more confidence speaking to the people. So it was that kind of transformation start to look at not just your limitations, things that you have that are unique, that make you unique. And I think the four years that I had done that, I was prior to that, I had been hustling and trying to see what worked really brought me to that point.

Now, working with teachers, I went to LinkedIn, and at the time, groups were very popular. So I would go to groups of online teachers or people that want to teach online and I would read people’s questions and then I would answer them. So the same questions what do I charge an hour? Which platforms do I use? How do I teach this, how do I find more clients? And so forth. So those were similar questions. And I would just write one answer after another and the next day I would have the same kind of question pop up in another group. In another group. And so that prompted me to create a website. What you see right now, which I’m sure we’ll get to that point, what you see right now is not what it looked like in the beginning. Right in the beginning it looked really shabby. But I had to learn it in one week and I had to write. And then once I put it out there and then I went to LinkedIn and I said, hey, you were asking about how to find new clients. I wrote a whole blog post about that.

And it’s like 2000 words. Would you like to come and read it? And people would go and read it. And I felt like what I knew at the time was more important for me. What I had to offer was more important than the language and the limitations of my language.

Interesting.

Know what I mean? So I realized, okay, I think I have something to offer. And it really doesn’t matter that my website is not perfect and my blogging is not ideal at the moment. I think I have something to say.

That is so critical. Elena, for anybody who is watching right now, we’re watching this later just to know that the first iteration of your website, your blog, whatever it is that you’re doing, even if you have done websites before, even if you have done courses in the past, you may feel more confident, you might nail it a little bit sooner. But the first iteration, second, or even the 10th iteration may not be, probably will never be perfect. But the iteration part I noticed even recently after running my business for seven years at this point, almost eight years, is that we can sometimes be quick to judge ourselves to say, oh, I got to know my avatar, I got to know the persona of my exact client, otherwise I’m wasting my time. But it really takes time for people to get to that point. And which is what I love about your site because I can tell you really niche down. So I was sharing your website just a little bit earlier. I’m going to pull it up.

Sure.

Once again, as we’re looking at this, right, I love the structure of it. And so I would love to welcome you to talk to did you ever had any hesitations or thoughts about, oh, I’m not going to just target online teachers, I’m going to start really broad and see who resonates with this. Or did you really start with teachers kind of just stick to this particular group.

Initially it was online teachers. I did not add the language part there, which is an interesting element that I will talk more about. But initially it was just online teachers and from my blog people could understand that this is me because I was talking about Skype lessons and I was talking about the ideas that people were wondering about like how do I bring more students and how do I do this and that. And so, yeah, I created that. But after a number of years and it wasn’t easy for me to reach out as much as there are so many online language teachers, it was very hard somehow to reach them. And I worked with a coach who suggested, well, like your advice is really helpful to people outside of online language teaching industry. Well, how about you just broaden it a little bit? And so I did. And then I started rewriting my blog posts where instead of one to one lessons, I put like one to one sessions or consultations and things like that. And I did get some people that were fitness coaches or life coaches or nutritionists. One thing, and I think that I did give them quite a bit of my expertise that they could use.

But I also started not just saying that I was not being authentic, like I wanted to own the fact that I am a language teacher. First of all, even if now I no longer teach languages, I coach on my language teachers. I know this industry, I know the struggles, I wanted to use the language that my kind of corner of the world, the people will be able to understand. And I wanted to communicate that in the most authentic way. And if you’re familiar with Bernard Brown, that’s when I had my little breakdown. So that’s when I worked with another coach and she brought me back to the idea of what is it that you want to do, who is your ideal audience? And I was so scared of this whole idea of putting that word language there, online language teachers.

Why?

Because I felt like I was going to immediately reduce my chances of finding more people. Because I was thinking, I want more. But you don’t really need more. You want the right people. You want the people that kind of understand your language. Because I’m a language teacher and language learner first and foremost. That created a really, really strong bond after I put that word language in the online language teacher. And yeah, that was but it wasn’t easy. And I totally get like today when I work with online teachers and they will tell me, it’s so hard for me to narrow down. I know what it feels like because I went through every stage of it. Yes. And what you see today is this website, right? That is iteration number I don’t even know, maybe number eight or ten. So what you see is obviously beautiful. I no longer do my own website. In fact, one of my first readers of that awful Brown website that I had in the beginning, she was a language teacher, but also a graphics designer, and she loved my work and it helped her build her business. And she read my first book that also did not look good at all.

But she was the one that eventually I recruited, and she was my first hire, and she’s been with me for the past six years. She is the one who helped me create the website that looks the way it looks right now.

Isn’t that interesting that many of us don’t realize that we not only create content to attract at the beginning, a niche, small audience, but because you decided to narrow down, now all of a sudden, you go right to the core where people can contribute most to your endeavor, that you see eye to eye, your message, your word, resonate with them. This is one of my favorite sections here. I was just your graphic designer create the rabbit and the turtle.

Like, who actually, we hired an illustrator and we worked with her, and she created the little turtle and the poor little hair. But the idea behind it initially was when we were Redoing revamping my website, I said, I want something on my home page that will not look like, here’s your business coach. Like, I want some kind of a kind of wink to the people that will look at it and say, yeah, I get it, this is me. Or, oh, this is totally me. And also to give that a little bit of a character and to give it a bit of a story. And also, I mean, I wasn’t thinking about all those points of branding and all that, but I really liked I wanted to bring in a tiny little story in there. And of course, everybody knows the turtle and the hair and the story behind it. And so I thought, wouldn’t it be cool to just bring it up. And then we hired an illustrator who helped us bring it to the actual to life. And what has happened over the years is that now people write to me and they say, oh, I’m totally a hair.

Like, I looked at that picture and I saw myself, and I wanted to be the turtle. And people tell me that at the end of my newsletters, I always write turtling along with you, and people will write to me, I’m such a slow turtle, but I’m moving along. So that’s amazing. So now it created a whole language, and I cannot actually take it down. I had a copywriter work on my home page, and she was like, yeah, you know these images. I mean, she was, of course, looking strategically like, oh, people are scrolling too many times. But she says, But I know this is a part of your identity. We can’t take it down. I said, Nope, you cannot take the hair and the turtle down no more.

I know you talked about so casually, but whether I think for people who are watching reviewing this, a visual identity really goes beyond just a logo. And speaking of which, I think in the description below somewhere, I list Taylor brands and a link for you, for anyone to create a logo. Very easily. We dwell logo, how we write our names and what goes what where. Sometimes we end up with a logo that’s so expensive and complicated, and it doesn’t look good on the website, maybe in prints only. But you created not just a visual indicator, but you created a language, a visual language which is so powerful. I look at this and I thought to myself, well, this is I’m getting better. I’m definitely more on the turtle side now. But there’s still a side of my business, and very much so. For the first few years of my business, I was ending in front of a Zoom call way before Zoom was popular, from 08:00 A.m. To 06:00 P.m. Working through midnight. And I was proud of the money I was making. But then I realized, what’s the point of becoming an entrepreneur if I’m completely tied to my desk?

I don’t get to do any of the fun things.

Right, right. Exactly. Exactly. And that was the story too, because I lived through that story, and I was able to empathize with the people that I work with today. They totally know the story. They see what it’s like when you’re wearing your and the headset, of course, was a part of it, because you teach a language, there’s a headset, and you’re just there all the time. You cannot even take a bathroom break. You cannot, you know, eat. You eat in a hurry or sometimes in front of the screen, and you are just not you don’t belong to yourself. And that’s and then you wonder at some point, is that really freedom? Like when people told me that teaching online is going to be freedom forever. And it was actually exhausting and really your health was in at risk. And so I just I really figured out that there has to be something smarter. There’s a smarter way to do that. Oh, this is so cool.

I love it, and I want to just break down a little bit more and we can talk about, like, site traffic and how you’re able to grow. It so tremendously. And quick question about the way you write it resonate with me. Of course, it might not resonate with everybody who’s watching this forever and ever. That’s okay. But what kind of state do you find yourself in when you want to write copy like this? Because to me, I feel like you need to be able to really get in there. You need to authentically feeling your way through writing and kind of uninterrupted or, you know, not somebody else trying to, like, tell you like a language teacher or an expert or a guru is like, you should write it this way, or really resonate. I think this really comes from within. So could you talk about that a bit?

Yes. First of all, there are different ways of writing. So I write for a blog, and that’s one kind of state of mind. I also write on Instagram, and that’s a different challenge because you write it’s a micro writing. You write smaller stories and you add the visual component to it. And then I also write books. So it’s completely different for your copy, for your website, one of the key elements. And by the way, what was written right now, this kind of language is something that we cocreated with a copywriter, but before that, of course, it was my copy. But one of the things that she did, which I believe was really helpful, is she took my client feedback. And I have a very specific it’s an automated way. After I work with a client, I send them a form and then they give me feedback on what their reservations were or what their problems were initially and why they came to me and what I helped them achieve and so forth. And so she took however many I had, I think several dozens at the time. She analyzed all of them and she picked out the most commonly used phrases.

So every single word and phrase here that you find unpredictable income, crazy hours, want to work less, enjoy freedom. And I added creativity and peace of mind is actually how you feel when you work smarter, not harder. But that was all that she took from my feedback forms. That was the language. And then we put it together by presenting what the people struggle is in the beginning and then saying, okay, here’s how you can solve it. And then I created this smart kit, which is a downloadable 20 plus page. Yes. Which is we’re actually now working on that, but redoing that. But that is my 20 plus page kind of ebook that walks people through the process of how they can start working less right now if they’re having too many five, six, 7 hours teaching online a day. So I actually walk them through the process. I took the process that what would I ask myself? What would I do with a one to one client if a person would sit down in front of me and say, okay, can you just give me a consultation? What should I do? Here’s where I am.

I am busy. I have no time to eat properly and I’m exhausted. How can I make more and still enjoy my life? And so this is what the Smart Teachers kit is all about, is where I break it down and teach people how to teach online in different ways. That’s the call to action. And then we put in the story. And the story was, of course, the turtle and the hair. And I wanted to show the difference. Like what they tell you in copywriting. You have to define the problem and then talk more about it. And so instead of doing the usual copywriting, kind of define the problem and then agitated whatever it is, I just wanted to create a story like, okay, here’s one thing. Here’s a hair and here’s a turtle. What are you and what do you want to be? And if you want to be a turtle, here’s a way here are some ways that you can be one. And then I share some solutions that’s.

So powerful to share a story. I think what you’re also describing here, Elena, is there is not one way to do something like this. Whether it’s a legion, your website copy, how you run your Instagram channel. Because I follow several all fairly successful entrepreneurs. One person comes to mind is Vanessa, who has a system. She speaks to a bigger kind of all small business people. She’s quite young and her things are very systemized systematic and whereas I find your work to be like, very also just as effective, but as soothing and funny and edgy to read. Which, frankly, number one, I didn’t quite expect from language teachers. English is my second language. So I’ve gone through learning English and since I was a little kid and really struggled quite a bit because I grew up in China going to regular schools, not bilingual schools. So you just kind of remember, then you forget and you remember again. And so the journey has always been there and language has been the serious and like, very serious. When I learned one grammar mistake shut up. Like, end of the world. How could you do this? And sometimes that’s the way to learn.

Because these days I find your approach as it kind of penetrates through your business, your approach, it’s like it’s just fun. It’s fun. It’s relaxing to read. It’s like it’s okay if I want to take this action because I know it’s okay not to get it right the first time. That’s kind of the feeling. I think that’s part of your brand very welcoming.

Yes, and I really had to work on my writing, obviously, and to make it more authentic. But one of the things that was really frustrating for me in the beginning and probably why I was so passionate about doing my blog for online language teachers is I felt like there was well, in the online entrepreneurship world, everything seemed to be wonderful, no issues. Like, I just walk on the stage and this is amazing, like, I can do it. And I was actually listening to a podcast yesterday. And it was by a guy who was doing was learning languages and he was pretty much following these challenges and he said. It’s funny how like and he himself is a fitness trainer and a soccer coach. And he says. It’s funny how when you start playing soccer. Nobody thinks that or expects that after two weeks you’re going to be playing for a national championship. You may never play for the national championship, ever. But he said, here I am learning a language, and after several weeks, I’m so frustrated that I still cannot carry a conversation. And I thought about that and this is business, like online business.

You start a business and then you expect in five months to have arrived. And I just kind of chuckled because that’s exactly the feeling that I had. I felt like when I went online, everybody I heard was like a story of success. And here I am trying to figure things out and it’s so difficult. That’s why I started writing. I was like, I don’t care. I’m going to write about the fact that it’s actually not so easy, that there are things and that your first time is not going to be a successful time and your first idea is probably not going to bring you money. And what we hear about what we hear is different. Like we hear that people just had this wonderful idea. They went into their garage, they put something together and boom, there’s iPhone twelve. You know, it’s like, wow, this does not happen this way. But for some reason we feel like it. And so in my writing, I give people permissions because I felt like I needed those when I started, because I felt like in the beginning there was so much pressure and it wasn’t until I just said to myself, I’m just going to do it the way I know how, and I can, and I will tell people that I can do it.

And hopefully there will be somebody else who will read it and say, wow, I can do it too, because it doesn’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to make six figures on my 6th month, a 6th month, and there’s no shame in it. I think there was a lot of shame when I was just starting out, and even to this day, there was a lot of still expectations that you will never fail. Once you start gaining traction, you get to a point like, wow, things are going well, and then zoom, there’s no business, or like, things slowed down and all of a sudden you feel like a failure and it starts all over again. But to give yourself permission to say that it’s okay to have ups and.

Downs, isn’t that interesting?

Oh my goodness.

I always get this high. I get this natural high when I talk to online entrepreneurs because exactly like you said, not only when you go from running the same business, which nobody’s for anybody’s watching and starting, nobody’s running the exact same business year after year, it’s so kind of contrary to fulltime jobs. I know people who have literally been that same position for 50 years, and even then things change, but it’s like every three to five years, every decade or so, and the function doesn’t really change as much. Whereas as an online entrepreneur, I see my six, seven years doing what I do every year has kind of changed and transformed. And the most recent one, as I recall, is going from consulting clients, working with a team, servicing a number of consulting clients, to shifting to online learning. Which is why in my signature, instead of promoting all of the Facebook documentary, podcasts, YouTube channels, now I’m promoting more of what I can enable you to do by following these guides, these documents, the processes, the system. And it’s scary because consulting clients per year, I could be generating 2030 grand from a single client.

I just need a few of those to survive, a few more to service my team. But, oh my goodness. When you diversify your revenue, if your online courses are not thousands of dollars apiece, but $10, a $100, it changes the game. So you might actually see a dip in your revenue that you have completely and utterly failed, but you’re actually on your way to something.

And that’s yes, and really, I think giving yourself some space and also permission to say it’s okay, if I don’t generate enough revenue through my online course, I can take another client. I don’t have to talk about that on social media. I can just write emails and get clients that I need and pay my bills, and I will still continue. And that will give me some space and some peace of mind to work on my online courses and figure out what is it that I need and maybe invest into maybe a better copy or to rewrite your email sequence and whatever else needs to be done. And maybe use the time to go and talk on other podcasts and write for other blogs so that people know you and then they can hear about you from other people that they follow so that’s also like an important part of the puzzle that we neglect to even take into account because we always think that. Okay. Now enough people know me and I don’t need to get myself out there anymore. And maybe it’s enough. But then you get to a point where you’ve talked to the same people for a while, your growth has kind of been steady and maybe even plummeted.

So you want to do something new and you realize, okay, if I go and if I start talking on other podcasts and other things, I may not be able to do as much work on my online courses, that’s okay, and I can do this, and I can do this.

True.

But I think we want to create some kind of maybe there’s a pressure, I don’t know what you think, but I feel like there’s a pressure to have, find and show stability at a certain point. And so we feel like, okay, there has to we have to be sort of stable and secure, which of course is another illusion. And that keeps us from trying out new things and do things our way. Which is why we’re doing precisely what we’re doing.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, I agree 110% that we need to give ourselves that space, that permission, and we don’t hear about it from most people. I think we have the feeling that we have to present ourselves in a certain way to be attractive and to attract clients. We have to be seen as a success in order for them to be successful. But in my work consulting through marketing. YouTube strategy. Which is a core component of my business right now. Helping small business owners. I love that phrase. More so than creative entrepreneurs these days. We can talk about why just to kind of help small businesses and some of the brands. Some startups. A lot of the tech companies to understand. For instance. How they can market their products and services through YouTube strategy. Creating this kind of evergreen system. And that is really interesting. Just like you said, we can’t just settle on, oh, this is working now, let’s not touch it. There’s a phrase of like, don’t fix.

What’S working and what’s not broken or something.

Yeah, don’t fix something that’s not broken. Exactly. And I noticed, like, that’s true to a certain degree. And then you’re in the red again. Because over the years I designed zoom, timers, these digital products, and even YouTube ad revenues. At the high point, it was $20 to $2500 during the pandemic because my content back then was well suited for the niche or the needs of people in that moment.

Yes, at the time.

At the time. And then the products stopped. Not stopped completely, but it went from, oh, 2500 for YouTube revenue, 1000 or $5000 for these digital products that are like so no work. I just watch them sit there and it’s so beautiful. I can smoke a cigar now. It’s all good. But then the trends, then there’s more sales. The numbers are changing. And I was like, I’m doing something wrong. I’m like, I talked to my producer, Herman. I’m doing something wrong. Something’s gone. I have become less of a whatever entrepreneur. But then you look at the Google trends, it’s like, oh, here’s a trend of zoom. Zoom is trending down. Virtual media is trending down as the vaccines become available. Oh, actually, none of things about me, right?

Yes. But it really does help see and put things into perspective, to say, okay, things are slow now because of this, or it’s not like, your fault. It’s not like, oh, now you’re failing as an entrepreneur. But I think for me, especially, once you hit a certain goal, like you were saying, revenue goal, and you’re like, wow, I can generate this much while working this little. That’s great. And then all of a sudden, trends change, and then your income goes down. All of a sudden, you get hard on yourself, like, by now I should have been blah, blah, blah. Well, it’s different now. And now you have to sort of rediscover yourself and find your new resilience and find what it’s all about and go back to seeing, okay, how can I serve the people better? How can I connect with the people again?

Yeah, I mean, this is so lovely. I so appreciate this conversational, and I’m going to pivot just a little bit to talk about one of your blog articles that reveal something so deep, which is, in one article, you mentioned just the sheer number of blog articles writing you’ve done, and even just the blog posts. But we all know you also have Instagram, which is different writing altogether, and you have your books. And while I was reading your website, I think, either on your site or somewhere else, it’s kind of like it becomes a little bit of hodgepodge here. But the message here is, while you wait to hit that perfect article, while you wait for the viral video, whatever it is that shortcut, you could have spent the past years writing the articles that you needed to attract a variety of people coming to you through different reasons, different content. So could you speak to that maybe a bit about you know, I think there’s something that you mentioned for years you didn’t generate a penny from your blog post before it becomes became something else.

Yes, and it’s so true that I mean, I like how Seth Gordon puts it. Like, before you get any idea that generates income or even is a worthy idea, you need to produce 100 of crappy ones. Well, we want to bypass the crappy ones because when we don’t want to be judged, we don’t want to seem like failures, and but that’s the I think that’s the requirement in a way. It’s kind of like a part of our job description. When we get into the online space, the question always is not, well, how can I avoid it? But you will have it, like, and are you willing to be judged? Are you willing to fail? And I think, you know, I can kind of guess your background, but my background, I come from very highly performance oriented culture, like, absolutely. And I think our age is probably very close. But at the time when I was born, still Soviet Union, there was a lot of this competitiveness in every single activity. You went like, you go to music school, you have to be a Beethoven. You’re not allowed to be anything less than that. Otherwise, forget it.

You go to an art school, you better be a Picasso. You go to a sports kind of activity, it’s like, well, is it worth it? You can’t do what, you know, the Olympians are doing. So there is always this I’m exaggerating a little bit, obviously, but there’s always this pressure. Whatever you do, you have to be just the very, absolutely best, and you’re not allowed to just be and try things out. And if you fail, that’s like the end of the world. When you go into the business world and you have such high resistance to failure and the attachment of failure to your worth that you feel like, if I make a mistake, then what am I? That you avoid it. And because you avoid it, then you don’t know what works.

Right?

So in the online entrepreneurial business world, the one thing you have to do almost the offset, is be willing to make as many mistakes as you can, because then you will know what doesn’t work, and you can actually find what works. And you need to write so many crappy articles before you get one that may be viral or may never be viral. You may never be viral. And that’s okay, because we cannot control what other people are going to say about our content and about our work and about we can’t control that, but we can bring ourselves, and we can say, I can show up. And so people like, for example, Seth Gordon really changed my perspective right on that. And, of course, Renee Brown and all on failure, and by saying, if you want to have something good, if you want to create something good, you just need to be willing to look at stuff that is not as good. And it’s interesting because when I took Seth Gordon’s course on marketing a few years ago, well, I didn’t know that. That’s a very strong connection. Yes, you did, too.

Oh, I took Altamba. Been following his work for 20 years.

Oh, wow. Yeah, I took his marketing seminar, and as a part of the program, because I was in the US. I received his book that was self published, and I couldn’t believe this. I picked up this book, and it looked like one of my self published books. I think it was Footsteps on the Moon.

Oh, yeah. With an astronaut.

Yes. And I looked at it and I was like, this is totally a better version. This is like something that he wrote. And he’s like, I’m just going to put it together. I may not get a publishing deal, and he is a best selling author, but I treasured that book. I still have that. I think it got some rain while it got here to New Orleans, though. It’s got all these rippled pages. But I love that book because it reminds me that here’s the person who’s been doing this work for 20 plus years and writing for 20 plus years, and here’s his self published book, and he also did self publish his books, and it’s okay. Yeah. And it doesn’t look professional. It looks like nothing that, you know, the book that he now writes that you can buy at your bookstore. But the ideas are just as revolutionary, the language is just as impactful.

Yeah. That’s so funny. I never knew, like, just now I discovered you’re part of the marketing seminar. I was part of that, too, after the L ten BA. But I wasn’t as participating as actively as I wanted to as I was growing my business, but L ten B, I was all in. I would love for you to share some numbers for people who are watching this. Don’t quite get your blog gets substantial amount of traffic, and I know it changes, but do you mind sharing about how much monthly you get versus how many articles you’ve written?

So I have currently I mean, I can pull this because I do look at them, but I do have to tell you that my traffic is not as big as people might think. And I think it kind of fluctuates. But I have about three to 400 visitors a day and very similar. Yes. Right now, I have not been writing as much. I’ve switched more to podcasting, and whatever I write then turns into books. And that was one of the reasons, actually, why I wanted to do that, is so I can write more. I got to a point with blogging where it was limiting me. Like, I wanted to continue this conversation, get deeper, but man, the 1500 cutoff was just 100. Word cut off is really hard. I think I have about 100 blog posts right now. Two years ago, I did a revision and I cleaned them up. So I have actually a place where they are all stored, and they all show me which blog post I have, what I’m selling through that blog post, and what is the lead magnets that I put there, which I only have one, but to make sure that they’re all clean and they’re kind of uniform in them.

But right now I’m using podcast quite a bit, and I just started last year, and I do seasons, so I go from March to June and then from September from August, I think, to December. And so I’ve only posted 616 podcast episodes. Yes. And so far I think I’m very close to 5000 downloads. But that was just that’s only been a year and that’s for the entire.

Time, by the way, you have traffic. I just want to tease out one thing real quick for you to say that you have three to 400 visits a day. Let’s say that’s roughly, give or take ten to 12,000 visits a month. That is not nothing. In fact, right now I don’t have the statistical data, but I will be very interested in looking up on Google. That puts you in top percentile.

Yes, and I do know that I do have google brings me google is my main source of traffic on my website now. So yes, but I do know, like, I hear people say I have thousands of visitors every day. I don’t have that. But I do want to focus and I am focusing on bringing in more qualified traffic. So I am connecting with people like you and others in similar industries where I talk about my work to see how that will impact my traffic and the conversions, the sign ups as well.

Yeah, I think YouTube is something I know you have a YouTube channel, I haven’t looked at it too closely. It may not have been optimized at this point, but I know video content creation isn’t necessarily the people’s immediate go to.

Really, I like that and I’m glad that I connected with you because I will probably come to you in the future. I do want to I do have some content there and it’s not optimized or anything. I just use it in the very beginning of my business because I was at the time using everything possible. Right? Yes. And then I just said I’m going to focus on one thing at a time. So blogging was really helpful for me, especially when my kids were little and I could only write like I could not record stuff because recording was to my noise levels. Yeah, so I could not do that. I did a little bit of video recording before my kids were born and then after they were born, I just would post workshops and tiny little things on there, but nothing really consistent. But I focus more on my blog, which later turned into books, which I really enjoy. And now, because both of my kids are at school, I do podcasting and I’m learning more about that and I myself have started listening to a number of podcasts, which I really enjoy. So that prompted me to do something like that as well.

And I can’t tell you that YouTube is in the books for the future, I don’t know where, and I already have some ideas. The fact that I have ideas, it really tells me that I’m moving in that direction and I really, really enjoy YouTube as well.

That’s awesome. I want to do a quick recap of people thinking that they need thousands of visits. Even like if you think you need 10,000 visitors a month onto your website to generate like multisix figures and all that, you may not need that much. That’s also about where my traffic is. But I know plenty of businesses. Imagine your per unit sale, whatever it is you’re doing, you’re doing construction, 5100 thousand dollars per sale. You don’t need that many people. And I think what also Alana kind of pointed out is the quality traffic is key. So out of, you know, if you get forget about 10,000 people, if you get 500 people and half of them are high quality and on average most people don’t know this on average, that the sale. You know, what is sort of the conversion rate for sale, not people visiting your website all the way down. The conversion on digital product sales, well under 1%. So that’s why traffic does matter. But it’s also relative in terms of context.

Right?

So I know that we have about just for a few minutes left. So I have to ask this question. No. You have a podcast and you’ve experimented with YouTube blogging and now you’re on the podcast. I’ve been podcasting for seven years. I have my own theory and teaching when it comes to how to monetize a podcast. Could you talk about how you see podcasting as a way of generating revenue, bridging gaps to your business, or you’re doing it for fun? You’re not really having existing expectations to fulfill at this moment in time?

Well, I really am. Doing a podcasting for me is a way to create content so I can reach first of all, I find a way to reach people that may not read my blog. So they’re probably right now somewhere listening to podcasts and they are looking and my podcast will come in their search, come up in their search and they are really curious about that. One of the crucial things I think for podcasting, more so than or before you even think about making revenue, is to answer the question that we all need to answer. What changes do you seek to make? And once you are clear on that change, that’s not the question that you just sit there and like, okay, five minutes later I’ve got my answer. No, I mean it’s years of work. And once you get to that clarity of what change do I seek to make? Then you think about the content itself and the concept behind it. What do you want? Do you want, do you want episodes? Do you want talking to other people? And if so, how will that be different from others? So then you need to be familiar with your industry, your particular industry, and then see what other people are doing.

But for me, in terms of monetizing, I just started trying different things. So promoting. For example. My ongoing events or. You know. Talking about books. But I want to in the season or actually this year. See how I can capitalize more on the products that I already have and see how a podcast can help me sell more of in an organic way. But more of evergreen products that I have as opposed to. Hey. I now have enrollment open for this because considering people may not be listening at the same time. What can I do and what can I offer? So I’m going to try this out and see how that works.

So lovely. I’m so glad we get to touch base on this once again, Lena, I’m so grateful that we connected because of Google. Thanks to Google. Yay for us to work, to resonate, and for us to really be part of the same community of Seth Godin once again. But I really hope to stay in touch and I encourage people to comment on this video wherever you’re watching this LinkedIn, YouTube after the fact, and we’ll be monitoring and get back to you. So with that said, I’m going to take us offline.

Thank you. Thank you so much.

Thank you.

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