How I Lost £2,000 and 9 Months of My Life Trying to Follow the Rules

Today's story is one of the most important I will ever share with you. Pay attention. Because what I'm about to share with you could save you a lot of time and money, as well as preventing the acceleration of grey hair.

Sometime around May 2015 I decided: I need to create an online course.

Creating my first online "flagship" or "signature" programme was going to catapult me to wild and instant financial success. 

My Facebook feed was inundated with ads from people promoting courses to learn how to successfully create and launch your first online course the right way and earn a lot of money in the process.

So I went all in and invested in a pricey online course to, well, teach me how to create an online course.

Makes sense, right?

The course was amazing. Very detailed. Very specific. Told you exactly what to do from A - Z. And so long as you didn't deviate from the plan, you would definitely succeed.

So I did. I followed the plan. Day in and day out over about 9 months. 

Along the way, I invested money in:

  • Vimeo for video hosting.
  • Screenflow for recording my course modules.
  • A microphone for improved audio quality.
  • Leadpages to have grow my list of potential customers.
  • A new domain name and web hosting to host my new online course. (AND, can I just point out that I actually paid one hundred freakin' dollars for my new domain name because, well, I'm as stubborn as they come and when I found that the domain I really wanted was taken by a lady somewhere in the US but apparently not being used, I reached out to ask if I could have it. She said yes - for $100. So I paid. Because I wanted it.) 
  • A Wordpress theme designed specifically for delivering online courses.
  • A couple of Facebook ads.
  • An SSL certificate for enabling secure transactions on my new site. 

Total it all up and you're looking at around £2,000. 

Oh, and did I mention the 9 months I was working on this? I think I mentioned that. 9 months!

I started strong. I was excited and enthusiastic.

But as time went on and I followed through with the step by step plan, I began to feel bored, frustrated, out of integrity and massively out of alignment.

Because I think this is so important for you to hear, let me tell you what, exactly, was causing me to feel that way:

  • Customer research. The course required a process of customer research including blog posts and surveys. I'm all for creating something people want, but I'm also the most impatient person on the planet and basically anything that requires planning and preparation takes all the fun out of everything for me.
     
  • The 3-part FREE video series. If you haven't heard of the 3-part THREE video series I can only tell you how lucky you are. Once you know about it, your life will be changed forever and you'll be sucked into thinking that the only way to ever launch anything successfully is by creating a free video series to gather leads who you will eventually sell your programme to. Creating these just didn't feel right to me. It was all too forced. Too prescribed. 
     
  • Creating the entire course before selling it. The course instructed that we design and create ALL content before starting to sell the programme. Did I mention I'm impatient? I require immediate feedback. If I'm not getting feedback quickly, my motivation goes down by about 10,000%.
     
  • #followthesytem. The course I followed to create my programme used the hashtag #followthesystem. If anyone questioned anything, ever, the response came back, #followthesystem. This just DOES NOT sit well with me and immediately activates my "woaaah, there's something wrong here o-meter."

By the time my course was ready to launch, I was disgusted with myself. I felt dirty. I had no desire to sell my programme in its current form. 

But I did. I launched the course and followed through to point Z just to assure myself I'd done what I could.

And no one bought.

Obviously that was no great surprise to me. Actually, it was a relief.

And you know what happened after that?

The best few months I've EVER had in business.

Having been gifted this wonderful experience, I went totally off the rails, doing everything in exactly the opposite way to which I'd been doing things for the previous 9 months.

I thought about what *I* wanted to create for you, put sales pages together in a couple of hours and launched them the same day. No opt-ins, no free video series, just simple emails with information attached.

I created 4 new programmes in the space of a month or two and sold more online products than I've ever sold before.

I didn't invest in any new equipment to run them. I used what I had and made it work. I created on the go, day by day. 

My energy was high. My enthusiasm was high and people emailed me saying things like "you're on fire."

And I WAS on fire. Because I was creating from a place of alignment and authenticity. I was working with not against my natural strengths - my impatience, my ability and desire to create and get things out quickly, my ability to work under pressure and preference for working on everything with a very tight deadline.

And because I was creating in the way that works for me, the energy behind my words flowed out too. And people bought my programmes. And it felt amazing. It felt amazing to be creating and selling and serving and really just giving people the best of what I have to offer which is a combination of my knowledge and experience and my capacity to encourage and support with love, kindness and a whole lot of kick ass energy.

Because, hello, your audience aren't stupid and they can feel when you're excited about what you're creating and selling vs. feeling like a piece of scum about it.

Here's the crux of it

I'm NOT here to tell you that following an A-Z plan, doing a 3-part FREE video series or anything else included in the course I followed is wrong. 

Nothing in that course was wrong. It was extremely well put together and very high value. The formula works brilliantly. And people make a lot of money following it.

What I AM here to tell you is this. And please, listen to this carefully. Scratch it into your brain and DO NOT forget it for your entire online business building career:

  • There is NEVER only one way of doing something.
     
  • Any time someone is asking you to follow a plan, step-by-step, question the hell out of it. 
     
  • The ONLY thing that works is what works for you. If something feels shitty to you, you've got no hope in hell of selling it and creating a successful business around it. Also, if you happened to have some success with it, you'd still feel shitty because it's so far out of alignment for you.
     
  • Trust your instinct. I knew pretty early on that this way of creating felt wrong for me. But always stubborn, I kept going anyway. I mean, actually, I'm glad I did because it filled me with a whole new creative fire I didn't have before that led to all my new programmes and more income through online programmes than I'd ever had before. But you could save yourself some time and frustration by just listening to what you intuitively know.

So how shall we wrap this up today? 

How about this...

Learn everything you can from those around you. But constantly question what you're learning. If you know how to listen to yourself, you'll intuitively know which are the right paths for you and which are the ones to steer well clear from.

Essentially, this:

YOUR business. YOUR life. YOUR way. Ok?

Love and courage,

Leah