I’m here today with Ashley from the learning blog Forward with Fun.
Ashley helps people to help their kids learn in ways that are fun and engaging, and don’t require a lot of materials.
She’s created a membership where she helps families to make it fun to teach their kids reading and other skills.
Ashley has been working really hard on monetizing her learning blog and growing her membership over the last year or so. So, today we’re going to talk about how she did that.
First, how did you decide what to sell?
I started creating children’s activities because we were in quarantine. Preschool was canceled, and I had a very active four year old and a one and a half year old that needed to be entertained.
I also felt responsible for teaching them during this time. I have a teaching degree and taught TK and kindergarten. TK stands for transitional kindergarten, and it was really, truly my passion. I still feel a calling to teach.
And so, when I was doing and sharing these activities, just very casually on social media, people said, “Oh, wow, your daughter just turned four and she’s reading. Can you help me? I want to make sure I’m using this time to make sure that my children are not missing out, with school being canceled and all of that.” And so, I thought, “Okay, I’ll create some activities. I’ll send some out. Maybe you’ll test them for me.”
And then Forward With Fun became a membership called The Fun Club. Each week, I send out activities that help kids learn reading and math and also social skills. But my real passion besides teaching those things is to make it fun.
If kids don’t like learning, when they’re five – what are they going to do in all of the years to come?
So, hands on learning is something that was really a big part of my teaching in the classroom, where kids are actively involved in their education, they’re playing to learn and they’re doing activities and such.
That was why I felt like I had something to share, because a lot of people were saying, “Oh, my kid can’t focus. My kid’s sitting at a desk and they don’t want to do this worksheet.”
To me, it’s obvious why they don’t want to do it – it’s boring! So, maybe if we can turn it into a game, that could be something that really makes life easier for parents, and also gives kids a love of learning at a young age. That’s extremely valuable.
This is something you’re not only passionate about, but really, really skilled at. What was your motivation for creating a business?
Well, I am in the real estate world as a property manager. That was my choice, so that I could have my babies at home and take care of them. But it wasn’t very fulfilling, and it’s not where my knowledge lies. I left the classroom to have more free time to raise my kids. I also had some medical things here and there that were going to take a lot of time out of the classroom. But even with all that – property management is just not my calling.
Teaching, though – it’s not just something that was just a job. It’s like my heart and soul. I’ve seen my students grow up and excel!
I missed that feeling of purpose.
If I could create something that would allow me to have that piece where I could still have the time with my own kids, but also be in that teacher role again – that would give me a huge sense of purpose and fulfillment. It really is my calling to be teaching.
And, right now, of course, I can’t be in the classroom. As much as I think about going back to the classroom, there’s so many complications. If, instead, the membership program and learning blog can be the way that I am in the classroom, that’s major for me. In order to do that, I’m going to have to make a full-time income.
Then you actually got your first sales, really early on in launching your business. How did you do that?
I did have a previous coach who was really into selling your offer before you’ve created it.
That was really intimidating to me. For me to say, “Okay, I’m creating these activities. Do you want me to send them to you for money?”
That’s really, really terrifying. But she really pushed me to talk to people and to create it. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have done it. I had no intentions of doing anything in quarantine but watching Game of Thrones.
Do you have any advice for people who are getting similar advice to what you got? Where you need to sell it before you build it. How did you get over that intimidation?
I’m not sure that I did! But, I definitely am confident now that what I’ve created is amazing and helping people.
I think just first talking to people and seeing what their problems were and really realizing, “Oh, that’s not a problem I struggle with because I have these skills that can solve it for them.” So, I talked to a lot of friends that were asking me to create something, but I didn’t feel confident enough to sell it to them yet.
But listening to them, I knew I could help them. And I knew I could solve their problems by asking them questions and basically interviewing them. Then I had to work on my mindset a bit to make me realize that just because I haven’t been in the classroom in the last couple of years, doesn’t mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about. Because I definitely do.
And how did you get those sales? Did you have your learning blog yet?
No, I didn’t have a blog till June.
That tech piece has probably been the most intimidating to me. But now, it’s also my most fun. The whole learning blog thing is fun.
So, for those sales, I had interviewed a bunch of people, the people who I felt would really benefit from these kinds of activities. Then, I called a few – at first, I just called one. And she really pumped me up – she was like, “Heck yes, this is amazing. I would totally love to do this for my son.”
And she bought it. I took a selfie right after to celebrate – “I made my first sale!”
After that, I called a few more people, but there were some other people that I was too scared to call. So, I did a Marco Polo.
Marco Polo is a video sharing app where you can basically leave a voicemail with your face. It’s perfect for all of the moms that I message. I left them a video saying, “Hey, it’s me, I’m creating some activities, and they’re going to help a lot of people. Do you want them to help you too in this really crazy time?” So it felt live without me having to BE live.
So, talk to us about why you decided to use a learning blog as the tool to get more sales in the long run.
Well, I follow some mommy bloggers and such. Also I’ve always used Pinterest as a teacher, and it was really the place to go for new ideas and to make my life easier.
The people that I was viewing as my eventual competitors were all using blogs to widen their audience. My offer is really low cost, so I’m going to need a wide audience. I knew that if I was able to share my ideas via a learning blog, I can hopefully send people over to my membership and my subscription.
That’s actually how we met – you bought my Pinterest workshop and reached out with some questions. And that’s how you discovered the Monetization Accelerator Program.
Yeah. I think I had messaged you a couple of times, because the results that I was getting just from the couple of Pinterest videos you had shared were so major to me. I mean, I was at maybe two or 3000 monthly viewers and then up at a hundred thousand and that was huge change. So, I reached out to say, “Can I give you a testimonial?”
And then I saw that you were launching your course. I read about it and I thought, “This is really what I need.”
My time with the other coach was over, and I wasn’t really where I wanted to be.
I still had all these questions:
- I didn’t really understand anything about blogs, launching to an email list, or really anything beyond creating an email list.
- My email list was growing, but I didn’t have a lead magnet.
- I didn’t have a lot of the really basic things that I would need.
- And, I didn’t know how to find that information.
You had everything I needed all in one place. And I already felt like I knew you from the Pinterest course.
So, you’d already made some good progress. Now we just needed to build on that. Where were you getting stuck the most as far as, “What do I do next?”
At the beginning, it was, “Okay. I’ve created something that is awesome. I have a lot of testimonials. People’s kids are reading from these really short 20 minute activities a day.”
They’re not going to school. And yet people are saying they’re having more progress with their not-parent-teacher. These people don’t have backgrounds in teaching, but I’ve made something where people are feeling like, “Wow, have I just replaced school?”
Which was just such a great feeling, because I want them to get these great results.
But how are we going to tell other people about it? Because the people that are in the Fun Club are really happy about it, and they are sharing but – how do we get to that next level?
So, I was really stuck on how to get the word out, which means getting, as you say, “Eyeballs on my offer.”
What are some of the moves you’ve made so far in the last few months?
Well, I have launched a bunch of different offers, now.
And I think that was the major step for me: taking my email list for my learning blog, growing it, and then knowing how to write a sales email and send it out. I’ve learned how often to do that, how to be myself in the sales email, and how to share what I’ve created in a way that makes sense and doesn’t feel salesy.
Part of my block before was that I didn’t want to come and feel like I’m just a salesperson. That’s what I didn’t like about property management. I want to connect with people. That’s what I loved about teaching, was connecting with the students and parents.
That connection is so major for me. I’m a huge extrovert, especially during this time when we are locked down, still. I want to feel like I can connect with my audience. So, finding out how to launch in a way that feels really authentic was meaningful.
How big was your email list when you joined the program, and what is it now?
I want to say it was in the 100 range. Maybe 150? And now it’s about 530.
What would you say has been the biggest achievement so far with your blog and with the membership?
My biggest achievement is not quitting!
There’s a lot of stuff that I don’t know. I don’t think I’m not technologically savvy, but website design was crazy. That’s not for me. And then, automated emails, I still fight with MailChimp and I get so angry. I can really be the biggest critic of myself. And so, if one email goes out with a mistake, I basically feel like, “What am I even doing?”
Because it takes me away from the mission, all the little tech stuff.
So, having the weekly calls or access to tell you my problem, or even the other people that are there. I’ve made connections with other people going through MAP and I just feel like, “Okay, I’m not the only person that’s made a mistake. I can keep going. And the only way that I’ll fail is if I just quit.”
So, I think it’s pushed me past all the points where I might quit. And now I’m like, “I got this now. There’s no way I’m going back.”
What would be your one piece of advice, or one thing you wish you knew sooner?
Gosh, there are so many things I wish I knew.
I think that it’s important to make sure that you remember to enjoy the journey. Why are you doing this in the first place? If you don’t enjoy it, you’re not going to last.
And, the mindset piece is really crucial.
But, I think my number one thing is not to compare yourself to other people.
I really struggled with seeing my feed full of people saying, “How to have a 10K month and this and this and this!” And that’s not currently where I’m at. So, I kept thinking that’s the goal – that’s what I have to do to, in order to be successful.
And that was really dragging me down, because I was feeling like, “Gosh, I’m pretty far away from that. When is that going to happen for me? Maybe it’ll never happen for me.”
I decided to shift my mindset around, “What does success look like for me?”
Is it about having so much money?
Or is it more about really being able to use my membership and learning blog to help parents teach their kids at home and the surrounding things?
So, when I stopped looking at all these people saying how much money they’ve made, that really was a big game changer for me. And suddenly, I was having an easier launch, making more money than my last launch, because I wasn’t really thinking about whether or not it would sell.
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Ashley’s story highlights what feels exciting to me about being a coach: helping really good people make money, and then putting it back into the world.
If you need some help making more money with YOUR business, feel free to drop me a comment below.
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