Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit

Hot Seat with The Fulfilled Classroom

December 28, 2021 Sasha - Business Strategist Season 1 Episode 12
Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit
Hot Seat with The Fulfilled Classroom
Show Notes Transcript

In our Hot Seat episodes, I'm talking to real business owners and taking a deep dive into their business struggles. In this episode, I'm talking with Nicole, owner of The Fulfilled Classroom who, like any true creative, has trouble deciding which of her many ideas to focus on. She also is wondering who best to utilize her Facebook group and email list for growth.

Nicole is a wife, mom, teacher, author, and entrepreneur. After spending over a decade in the elementary classroom she is now working at the college level teaching academic upgrading and has launched her own business, The Fulfilled Classroom. She creates books and resources for educators to use in the classroom that focus on bringing gratitude, mindfulness, and joy into the lives of our students and teachers. 

Episode Resources:
Hot Seat with The Fulfilled Classroom

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Sasha:

Welcome to Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. Whether you're new in business or find yourself in a season of change, get ready to build a strategy, create an action plan and crush those goals. I'm Sasha, host a strategy for creatives. And I help female led businesses grow their brands in authentic, measurable and meaningful ways, without the stress. There's no sugar coated here, I'm serving up real tips and actionable steps you can take to help get you organized, get off the path to burnout and grow your brand like a boss. So go ahead, pull up a chair, grab a notepad, and let's talk business. So welcome to a another episode of Strategy for Creatives: Business Minus the Bullshit. I of course, am your host Sasha and today we have a another Hot Seat episode. So I'm super excited because today I am joined by Nicole who is a wife, mom and teacher, author and entrepreneur. So clearly, she's wearing a lot of hats. And she says that after spending over a decade in the elementary classroom, she is now working at the college level of teaching academics upgrading and has launched her own business, The Fulfilled Classroom. She creates books and resources for educators to use in that classroom that focus on bringing gratitude, mindfulness and joy into the lives of her students and teachers. If you are new to the show and you don't know what Hot Seat is, essentially, it's me meeting with people like Nicole and having real business conversations about problems that they're facing. And hopefully, by the end of the episode, Nicole will be able to walk away with one or two action items that she can do that are going to help her with the problems that she's facing with her business. But more generally speaking, you'll be able to walk away with something too, because as business owners, we all tend to have some of the same problems in business. So hopefully, you guys will be able to get something out of this as well. So Nicole, welcome. Thank you.

Nicole:

Thank you so much for having me.

Sasha:

I'm so excited. I was excited when you put in to be on the show. Because well for one, I do have a thing for teachers. I used to want to be one when I was very young. I was the type of kid who like played school, but actually like assigned homework and things. But then I didn't end up going that way. But I have a huge respect for teachers, I don't especially for those who do the elementary level and the younger kids. I don't know how you do.

Nicole:

Yes, I can agree I've got a huge respect for people that are in their whole careers too, because I I'm no longer in the elementary system, but I have respect for those that still are.

Sasha:

So tell me before we kind of jump into it, tell me just a little bit more about The Fulfilled Classroom and what made you want to start that and kind of get into that?

Nicole:

Sure. I got into it when I actually had to leave the classroom because my family relocated. And so as I started working at the college, I still, I felt the calling to go back, and either help teachers or be with students. I really missed that age group. But I didn't necessarily miss being a full time classroom teacher. So I kind of took this opportunity to create some resources that I would have loved to have in my own classroom at that time. And in just bringing like happiness into the class. And I think we can talk about gratitude at any age and children and the younger, the better. Right? And so they're living in a world right, a world that there's so much need for to be, do, have more, and they're bombarded with all these messages. And so I think kids really need this idea that little things are enough, right? What I have is enough. I can appreciate all the little things in my life. And so that's kind of where I started everything from was that idea of gratitude. And if we can bring this into our children's lives at this age, how much happier will they be when they get older.

Sasha:

I really love that. That's that's such a good idea. And I definitely agree with that I have a son who's four. And especially now because it's right around Christmas time, like we're trying to...I'm trying to explain to him that we have to get rid of some toys, because we have a lot of things. And you know, he's gonna get new ones for Christmas. And it's about you know, let's give to kids who don't have that much. And you know, we are lucky that we have so many things and we're able to do these things. So I can appreciate the mission of your business. I really like that. But one of the things that you mentioned when you reached out was that you have trouble deciding on what type of projects to focus on first. So kind of tell me a little bit more about that.

Nicole:

For sure. I love to create. That's, you know, I think a lot of people that go into the entrepreneurial field feel like they want to do all the creating and the passion things, right. And it's the behind the scenes, the business side of things that aren't necessarily as passionate, like marketing. So when I, when I create something, I have a hard time with following through of, okay, let's get this into the hands of people, and marketed. And I want to go and create the next thing. And right now I have like four or five books that I've started, like, I've written the first chapter in like four or five nonfiction books. And I also have, you know, two or three of my next series of children's books started and I want to do like a course for teachers on gratitude. I want to do something for the kids. I have so many things going on right now. You know, also trying to sell my books, I just became an author recently, and my books all launched during the pandemic. And so trying to think, Okay, I, you know, some people, that's what they do for a living like I can, it's okay that I have my books that I just sell them without having to do courses and workshops and write more books. And but I seem to just fall into that shiny object syndrome, where I just want to do new things and try new things. And I don't necessarily follow through with one path.

Sasha:

So I would say, first and foremost, you're definitely not alone. I work with pretty much all creatives. And what you're describing to a T is a creative mindset. I think it's, and I think it's just the nature of being creative, right? Like we want to, we have so many ideas and it, but it's always that follow through.

Nicole:

Yeah,

Sasha:

that kind of gets pushed to the wayside. And I think a lot of creatives are really good at conceptualizing. But then it's the, the actual work, and I'm using quotes, but the work that comes along with like turning that idea into something as well. it's not as fun, it's not as exciting. It doesn't, you know, like you said that shiny, it's not shiny. So, yeah, I think that that is why a lot of creatives tend to kind of have a whole bunch of ideas, and none that are really at any good place to move forward. So the one thing that I always suggest is to really, first figure out in your business, what makes the most sense for you, and the goals that you have for your business. But, like right now. Because I think we, especially as creatives, we have this tendency to have these big ideas, but they might not necessarily make sense for where we are in our business right now. Or where we are in our lives. Like maybe we don't have the time to devote to doing certain things. So it doesn't really make sense to focus on that. And you made the perfect point, you know, some people, you know, you can just sell the books like you don't have to do the courses, you don't, you know, you don't have to do all that stuff, right now. So I think the first step is really figuring out and this is actually the perfect time to do it, you know, we're going into the new year, you know, what do you envision for The Fulfilled Classroom in 2022, you know, think about two or three big high level goals that you want for your business, whether it's finishing one book that you have, or creating something, a course for teachers, versus, you know, I want to create a course for x, you know, these five different groups, maybe it's just focusing on the one course, or maybe it's just, you know, something that is more narrow in scope and fits into your overall goals for your business. Because a lot of times when we start thinking, and we have all of these creative ideas, they aren't necessarily bad ideas, but they might not necessarily take our business in the direction that we're trying to go in our business. It could be something that's a good idea, but what will end up happening is if we start putting too many things out there and starting to do too much - one likelihood of anything getting done, kind of goes down. But then also, we'll start to confuse our audience. And so what's the focus of our business? You know, who is the business geared towards and what makes the most sense right now to focus on. And I always suggest, especially for anyone in the creative field to really think about no more than like three big goals to have. Because that really allows our minds to focus on what makes the most sense for that. When you start trying to get to like, do more than that, you'll end up probably where you are now with like notebooks full of ideas. And you're like, oh, I want to do all of these things. But if you have something that you can look at, that's like, Okay, I know that my goals for next year are this. You can look at those ideas that you have and ask yourself, Does this fit into those three goals? If the answer is yes, then cool. I know I can kind of create a plan to launch it or to, you know, set some time aside to work on it. If the answer's no, then let it stay on your list as an idea that you have. And then as you start to accomplish those goals and start to move forward with some of these other ideas, you can revisit it. And you know, does this make sense for my business now. Does it you know, now that I've accomplished X, Y, and Z, does this still make sense, or maybe it doesn't fit in at all, maybe it's just an idea that, you know, won't go anywhere. Some ideas, unfortunately, will always stay in our notebooks, they'll never get done. So that's kind of how I like to approach things is really look at where - what our goals are, and then fit those projects and what works into that into those goals. And then, when it comes down to it actually setting the time aside, to do the work for those ideas, once you've narrowed down, okay, I know this idea fits into my goal, I know that this makes sense for my business. Now, let's actually put a plan together, okay, I'm going to work on you know, writing the book, or coming up with the launch plan or recording, you know, whatever modules for this course, then it's actually like doing this step by step to get that idea into "production" versus, you know, not doing anything with it. So how does that sound? I see a lot of head nodding.

Nicole:

Yeah, well, it makes so much sense, right? And you hear that, but I like how you mentioned the time of year, this is the perfect time of year for me to sit back and just envision next year, and what do I foresee happening, and then go through my list of...because I do have a list of all these ideas that I want. I keep it on my phone every time I think of another one I add it to the list. So I can go in there and see do I have things I've already thought of that could pertain to this big goal. And, you know, I like the idea of my course, I think I'll just stick with the course. But what I wanted to do for a whole year now, and I just never got around to it. So, you know, instead, I created a curriculum, but it's, you know, now I'm like, Okay, I'll take those curriculum lessons and make it into a course for the classroom, right? So I'm trying to pull things that I have, and, and work with what I've already created. So because, I've done a lot of legwork for the creation, it's just, you know, you get to a certain spot and you're like, Okay, I don't really know what to do now. So I'm just gonna leave it here and go on to the next thing. So there's a lot of started tasks that I just need to focus on. But I do like to just taking time to sit back and look at my list, what what can be helpful for my 2022 goals.

Sasha:

A lot of times to the things that pull out us repeatedly; So like you said that, you know, you've thought about doing this course all year; those are the things that, you know, we, we really want to focus on. And so those other ideas that start to pop up, you know, we can get excited about them. But if you find yourself having like, oh, you know, I really want to do this course. And it's something that's repeating, that's probably where you should focus most of your energy on. Especially like you said, you mentioned, you've, you've done a lot of this work already, without actually trying to do the course. So it's just a matter of like, looking at everything you've done so far, and then putting it in a structure to start working on the course in a more, you know, structured format, right. It's kind of pulling what you've already done. And I always think it's a good idea when we're looking at whatever ideas we have for projects versus our business goals is to kind of revisit that, you know, it's a good time to do it, because the New Year's coming, but look at it on a quarterly basis, you know, like every quarter, look at the ideas that you may have had that you haven't, you know, on your phone, and then revisit what your business goals are. Because I know for myself, and a lot of my clients that I work with, those can change. You know, things happen throughout the year where maybe it makes sense at the beginning of year to focus on one thing, and as you're starting to do it or as you know, business picks up or it's you know, whatever happens, life happens. Things like COVID happen, you know, the whole world shifts, sometimes those goals don't make sense anymore. So it's okay to you know, revisit that and switch things around. Because I also think sometimes the reason why creatives don't like to do this is because then they feel stuck. They feel like oh, if I'm only working on this one thing, and you know, because that's what my goals are, and I have all these other ideas, but I need to focus on this. And it means I can't do anything else like because now they're not finishing things. They're right back to where they started. I think things change. So it's perfectly reasonable to always revisit those things and always ask yourself, Does this make sense for my business and where I am in life right now, for me to be focusing on those things. So I I want to make sure I encourage you to do that as soon as well.

Nicole:

For sure.

Sasha:

And so you also asked to about utilizing your email list and your Facebook group. I love that you asked this question, because I did a whole Instagram series about, I called it Beyond Social Media about why you need to have an email list and do things like blogging and marketing outside of social media because social media is fickle, and we can't control it. And the only thing that we really own is our email list. You said, you have about 1000 folks in each right?

Nicole:

Right.

Sasha:

Yeah. So you have a really good baseline. I think, when it comes... what are you doing now for your email? Are you doing anything?

Nicole:

I do. Just every Friday, I send out a Fulfilled Friday. And it's got like, a tip tips for teachers things I'm reading and learning gratitude stuff, you know, inspirational quotes. So it's just like a kind of a fun, uplifting, Friday email. And then when I do launch, because I've launched like three different books this year, so I will send out some launch emails when new products are coming out. But that's, that's all I'm doing. But I've been very, very consistent with my Friday emails, it's been just over a year now that I have only missed a couple. So I do have that going for me where I've, I've kind of got my email, and my Facebook group, I'm very consistent with posting and there have my, I have my framework for my content and everything that I try to be pretty consistent with the messages I'm putting in there. Yeah.

Sasha:

Are you...do you segment your list at all? So like, if four people for example, who have purchased your book? Or maybe have you know, how people found you in your Facebook group or anything like that? Are you doing any sort of segmenting?

Nicole:

Well, I have some segments like created for the people that have come through Facebook, I've got them in a different segment. But because I'm only doing my Friday emails, it's just kind of going to everybody right now. And I don't necessarily send different things. Because I would love to get into parents, for my books, because my books aren't just for teachers. They're for parents, or grandparents or whoever has kids, right. And so I would love to have people like that on my list, but everything I do is around the classroom. And so I worry that they would be bombarded with classroom stuff.

Sasha:

Okay, and then do you have...so what entices people to sign up for your email?

Nicole:

I have a Little Things challenge right now, actually, I just started running Facebook ads this past week. I've paid someone. The first time I've invested in my business. I paid someone and we're just getting in the learning, you know, the learning stage now, but I do., I have got a Little Things gratitude challenge in the classroom, as well as 30 days of gratitude prompts that have been really popular. So we're, we're testing those out now. But those are the two main things that get people on my email list.

Sasha:

Okay, so that's good that you have essentially, you know, the funnel for it. I would suggest using so your your 30 days of gratitude, because that doesn't sound as teacher based. That's a good way to start as you start getting signups for that segmenting those people into a separate parent, you know, non teacher category. And then focusing that content that's going out to that segment on, on things that aren't as classroom related, and then doing more of the pushing, salesy piece of it for like your books and things like that. And even, I would even encourage you to, to add some of that into your Friday emails that are going out right now. You know, either if it's a product of the week or product of the month, or you know, something that you're loving that you're selling right now, because it's great that you are engaging with your email like that, like that you're sending out, that you're being consistent. That's always the first thing that you've conquered is the consistency so people know to expect you in their in their email. But we also want to sell to these people without being overly salesy. So you've kind of established that, you know, you're giving them good value in the email. So now it's, it's okay, to kind of start pointing out to them, these are the things that I offer, and you can, it doesn't have to be every email, it doesn't, you know, it can be once a month and an email that you just add something that you know, is new on the site or something that you're loving this month, or something that you know, works into maybe a theme that you have going on in that email. But don't be afraid to start pushing your products or and your website and having calls to action to go to different links and products in your emails. Because people... I think the statistic is, you know, you need at least seven touch points before someone is going to make a sale. But that means that we actually have to be selling to them. If it's just a showing up in the email and we're just providing value that's good because you're building that like, know, trust factor, but at some point you have to actively sell to them. And what can be uncomfortable for us, because most people don't like being salesy, so we don't want to push it too much. While it can seem like it's too much for us, because we're looking at it so often for most people, they might not be reading every email, they're probably not seeing, you know, every time that you're pushing something out to them, so they're not going to see it as much as we think that they're going to see it. So it's better to kind of push out more, that until we feel like it's probably annoying. And that's probably like one or two times extra, is actually when it probably will start to be semi annoying to them. But I think you're doing a good job. In the Facebook group, it's kind of the same way. You know, you want to take your Facebook group, because Facebook is so social media, get those people on your email list, like get them into a challenge, get them where you can talk to them via email. But also do that engagement, you know, if you're, I don't know if you have it already. But whether it's daily prompts, or weekly prompts, where you're asking questions in your group, you're getting people to respond to them. It's a great way if people are asking questions in your group, and you know, you have something in your store available to them, you know, oh, I've talked about this on this blog post or my Friday emails, you should sign up, you know, I have all these tips or this product here, this gratitude journal will be good for you, like, you know, here's the link to it. People know that when they're in those types of communities, they are signing up to be sold to as long as it doesn't feel as if it's, that's the only function, you know. As long as they feel like they're still getting value from it. But you can start kind of creating those conversations were like, this would be amazing for you. And then, like I said, you know, if you have these launches coming up, or these challenges coming up, promo them in your Facebook group, ask questions about, you know, get people excited, what what's one thing that you're, you know, you're grateful for, you should join this challenge. You know and throughout the 30 days, prompts or whatever, you can kind of, like, tease it almost a little bit. Like, you know, ask a prompt in the group, but then say, Oh, if you want to, you know, journal more about gratitude or something like that, I have this great freebie that you can sign up for, here's the list for it, you know, like tease it to them. So they kind of get excited about it, as well. But it's... really social media... that's all about forming the connections and the engagement. But ultimately, I always think it's more to drive them to an email list or to something that you own or where you can speak to them, "directly", and they're getting to hear from you. Because unfortunately, with Facebook, they may be in the group, but they might not be seeing a lot of their posts, you know, you might not show up on their feed all the time, but in the email, you're more likely to be there. And then if you haven't already, just my email list, I would encourage you to do a cleanup every, probably once a year at the very least. And that's just a, it's kind of harder to do it now. Because of the way that open rates are now track, they changed the whole... like Apple did a whole thing about how they changed open rates now to protect privacy. But there's different things that you can Google about, like a essentially like an inactive subscribers. So and you may have seen it pop up in your own emails from different people like, oh, you know, I noticed that you haven't, you know, read in a while or click on a link in a while, are you still interested in my content? You know, please click here, if you are, and put those people into a segment that's like, you know, reengaged audience because those people, if they reengage with your content, they click the link and said, yYes, I'm still interested, then you know, those people are probably your target folks who are more likely to purchase from you, are actively reading or something like that. So put them in a segment where you know, you can can target them in a different way than your cold list. Because if they're not clicking on anything, if they don't bother to say yes, I'm still interested, that doesn't necessarily mean they're not reading, but you know, they're not, they're not going to be as interested. So you can either delete those people from your list, because they're just clogging up space at this point, they're probably not actively engaged in it. They're not going to be your target people. They're not most likely to purchase from you. Or you can kind of put them in their own segment where you still send them emails, but maybe not as often. Maybe it's only when you have launches or things like that and really focus more on that engaged audience who's like, yes, I want to be here. Like I like your content, please keep me on your email list.

Nicole:

Okay, I like that too. That's really good. That's a really good tip. Thank you. I will do that.

Sasha:

So I hope, like I said, I really like what you're doing. I think, like teaching, gratitude, and especially mindfulness, I try to be, I try to be very mindful of my own personal life. But I do think that teaching that to kids and having that be a resource for teachers and things like that, I think that's amazing. I definitely think any teacher based audience is a built in niche in and of itself. Like I think teachers are very, like they're always looking for resources, they're more likely to purchase things, especially because something like this is is more of a niche thing. Like it's not necessarily, you know, as curriculum focus, and you know, normal curriculum focus. So they're more likely, I think, to be tuned into things like this, especially nowadays. So I do think that you know, what you're doing, has a lot of good potential to like, really help a lot of people. So that that's kind of, that's what I would say, to help you focus, and to help work on your emails.

Nicole:

Thank you so much, I appreciate Sasha so much.

Sasha:

And hopefully, for everyone listening, you've been able to grab a nugget or two, an action step that you can take. Pretty much focus on your goals. When you have a lot of ideas, try to narrow it down to what matches into your goals and really nurture those emails. Because if they signed up to be on your email list, that means they want to hear from you. That means they they are interested in whatever it is you're talking about, whatever it is you're selling. And those are the people who are more likely to purchase from you in the long run. So do what you can to nurture those, that list. And to just like you're doing, Nicole is just to kind of have those conversations going showing up in their inbox. Be consistent about it so that they're not just hearing from you when you're have a new product or when you want their money, but you're actually providing value. But thank you so much for being a guest today. I really appreciate it.

Nicole:

Thanks for having me. It's been fun.

Sasha:

Thank you. Are you ready to uplevel your business? Join the five day be your own CEO challenge. All the details are available on the website@www.bi Dash sasha.com. If you liked what you heard, make sure you rate and review it really helps other people find the show. And of course following subscribe on your favorite podcast platforms. Want to follow me on social. I'm on Instagram and Facebook at strategy by Sasha. Make sure you tune in next Tuesday for more business tips.