How Danielle MacKinnon Created Big Success In A Narrow Niche
Animal Communicator & Entrepreneur
Danielle MacKinnon is a MemberMouse Customer
"I was in a mastermind call and a friend said, ‘I think I'm going to start a membership site,’ and it was one of those moments where I was like, ‘Oh, what's that? So am I.’"
Over the past 13 years here at MemberMouse, we’ve seen our customers start successful membership sites in nearly every niche imaginable:
- Japanese nail art
- Handstand training
- Paleo meal planning
- Electronic bass music
- Canadian natural textiles
- Dating for single parents
The list goes on and on and on. Trust us.
And even though it’s become almost cliche to utter the advice…
“The riches are in the niches”
…more and more, this seems to be true.
If you’ve ever doubted the power of getting super narrow with your niche selection – or felt mildly afraid that no one will understand your idea because it’s too “weird” or too specific – we’re beyond excited to introduce you to our guest on today’s episode of the podcast.
She’s living proof that even the most esoteric and specific niches are full of people who are longing for deeper education and connection.
Her name is Danielle MacKinnon. She’s an animal communicator (also known as a pet psychic), author, and entrepreneur.
Over the past 8 years, Danielle has built a very successful online business that consists of membership sites, online courses, and private communities.
She joins us on the show today to share the story of how she became an animal communicator, started her online platform, and grew it into a thriving business.
If you’re working on an idea that you’re worried might be “too niche,” this episode is for you.
In it, Danielle shares a ton of helpful advice about trusting your intuition and following its lead.
In the second part of our conversation, we talk about those classic “magic eye” pictures. After we recorded this episode, we found this one that perfectly matches what we talked about.
You can take a peek at it here:
(image courtesy of hidden-3d.com)
|1:43||Meet Danielle McKinnon!|
|4:30||How Danielle discovered her gifts & became an animal communicator|
|16:55||Are psychic abilities gifts? Or can you learn them?|
|31:12||How Danielle transitioned from a Fortune 500 career to being a full-time animal communicator|
|34:45||When Danielle knew it was time to start her membership site|
|43:58||The most surprising thing about running a membership site|
|51:31||Danielle's advice for other "niche" entrepreneurs|
Eric: Hey, Danielle, welcome to the show.
Danielle: Thank you for having me.
Eric: Yeah, it’s my pleasure. Before we get started, I just have to give a shout out to someone on our team, Melissa, and she’s the one who introduced us to you. Melissa attended one of your online classes a few months ago and shared how much she loved it and what you’re doing, and then we realize that you’re actually a MemberMouse customer. So that was a perfect fit for this podcast. We’ve had a lot of amazing guests on this show before, and some of whom work in very specific niches, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb here to say that you might be one of the most unique, interesting niches we’ve come across. So could you tell us a little bit about your background and what you do?
Danielle: No, it’s a totally normal niche. I’m a totally normal person.
Danielle: So what I do is I am an animal communicator, which means pet psychic, and I have an online school where I teach people how to communicate psychically with their pets. I have a membership where all the animal lovers get together and we practice connecting with pets psychically and playing with intuition. I do retreats and workshops and classes and go around and teach around the country. So, yeah, I know. I mean, if you take out the animal psychic part, maybe it’s normal.
Eric: Well, let’s be clear. I didn’t say it wasn’t normal. I just said it was niche. I mean, what’s normal? I’ve worked with a animal communicator. My dog passed beginning of this year, seven year old Australian Shepherd, and it was really tough. I had a friend who recommended an animal communicator and I met with her and it was great. There were things that this person didn’t do any research. They didn’t know anything about me, but there are things that she said that there’s no way she could have known these things. So it was a helpful part of the grieving process. Let’s just put it that way.
Danielle: I think a lot of people actually, that’s how they find this work is a pet has passed and they’re grieving and they’re basically searching the internet for something that’s going to help them with that grief because it’s a very different grief from when a person passes. When a person passes, universally, everybody comes together and says, “Wow, that’s so hard,” but for a lot of people, when an animal passes, they don’t have others in their life who are going to be like, “Wow, I so understand why you’re grieving so much.” So it can be an additionally lonely place, a pet passes. So it makes sense that that’s when you would have reached out to an animal communicator.
Eric: I’d love to hear more about how you stepped into your purpose as an animal communicator. From what I read on your website, it seems like there were two inciting incidents that helped put you on your path.
Danielle: Yeah, this was not my plan. Originally, I was going to be a writer and a veterinarian, but when you’re seven, I mean, I didn’t have the vision when I was seven to understand that this was a thing. So, it was originally I was in the corporate world and my dog got sick and she was at the vet for four days. It was a devastating time at the vet. It was really, really expensive. We could barely afford to have her be there and nobody could figure out what was going on. Then I met a friend who said that there was a pet psychic that I could go and see, and for me I’d always been interested, but in my family, I was told this stuff is crazy. So I ended up taking my husband and my dog to see the pet psychic, and within about five minutes, he was able to tell me that she’d eaten corn cobs and she’d eaten them because she was anxious because my husband and I had been fighting about my mother.
It was my mother-in-law, but it didn’t matter. The difference between mother and mother-in-law, there’s no way that guy would’ve known that unless my dog told him. So that was kind of like the moment where I went, “What am I doing in the corporate world? This is not fun stuff compared to this animal stuff. I want to do that.” So I took a class that next weekend from the guy, and this was a long time ago. I know it’s kind of funny, but there weren’t as many animal communicators around as there are now. Psychics weren’t quite out the way they are now, psychic mediums, so I didn’t have any business model to look to go, “Hey, this is how I want to build my business. This is what I need to do in order to have a business.” So I basically took the class that weekend and then started a business, which tends to be my way. I take a lot of risks.
That was going fine. I was still working in the corporate world, and so there was about an overlap of part-time animal stuff with corporate world for like four years, I think, and then I was doing these readings where I thought with animal communication, what you’re going to do is you’re going to connect with the animal and you are going to tell them what they need to do in order to be better behaved. So if a dog is barking obsessively, I get to psychically mind control that dog through animal communication and say, “You got to stop doing that.” So that was my original approach, well, we’re going to control animals through this psychic thing, and it was okay in the beginning. I was connecting with animals and people were liking their readings. They were so excited because they were like, “Wow, you’re really connecting with my animal,” but I wasn’t having outcomes.
Meaning other than they saw me really connecting with the animal, I wasn’t able to make the animal do things differently. So the second thing you’re talking about was my reading with Jesus, the Chihuahua. Jesus, the Chihuahua, the woman brought him to me because he was peeing in a plant in the kitchen and it was causing problems in the house, and she wanted me to tell him to stop. So I was like, all right, cool. This is my thing. I’m going to psychically connect with him and tell him to stop. So I connect in and I’m getting to know him and everything’s fine. It’s like a usual reading, and then we get to the point where I need to tell him stop peeing in the plant. So I said, “There’s this problem with you peeing in the plant. Why are you peeing in the plant? Do you have a kidney infection?”
Then Jesus and I launched into like a 20 questions version, a psychic 20 questions. Are you peeing in the plant because you have a kidney infection? Are you peeing in the plant because you don’t know where out is? Are you peeing in the plant because you’re mad at someone? Finally, Jesus, little dog, big personality, he’s like rolling his eyes at me, psychically, if you can imagine, and then finally I give up and I say, “Why are you peeing in the plant?” Which now I know we don’t play psychic 20 questions because I don’t have the answers. The animal has the answers.
Jesus tells me that he’s peeing in the plant because his human is in an abusive relationship. When she is being abused, which is usually in the kitchen, he’s peeing in the plant to demonstrate that no matter what, no matter who it upsets, you take care of your own needs, and that’s what he was doing to model that for her. That’s kind of when I gave in and I said, well, I think this is better than psychic mind control. These animals are really tapped into us in a different way than I thought, and I need to honor that. It kind of changed my whole perspective on what I was doing, what the purpose of what I was doing was why I was here and what I wanted to do really with my business.
Eric: That’s amazing. There’s so many possible directions to go with that. I think the reason is because you’re talking very nonchalant about all this stuff, but what you’re referencing is a very deep and profound thing. So it’s like, so if I’m going to meet you where you’re at, it’s like, okay, well let’s just act like that was all just very matter of fact and not talk about it.
Danielle: Yet you don’t have to, and this is something I’ve been running into lately. I had to film myself doing some readings, and then the people who didn’t know anything about animal communication all came back with, “But when do you talk to the dog?” Because the dog was there, but I wasn’t looking at the dog to connect with the dog. I was connecting with the dog in my head, regardless of how much the dog ran around. I forget that people are open. This is what I find. People are open to this stuff right now, which is great, but I have to remember where to how much they don’t know, even though they’re open. So I think that’s what we just ran into there.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, something that’s compelling to me about, or a question that often comes up to me with regards to psychic things, is it seems to me that the mind has one way of interpreting the world. It’s a very kind of like nuts and bolts, mechanical, concept oriented, input, output type of way, which we all very much understand, and then the psychic or in the intuitive world is a little bit more formless. It has a subtle voice as compared to the logical mind. It’s like you get a hint, you get a taste, a sniff in the breeze of a certain scent and it can be missed. Then the thing for me is like, okay, say you can actually get to the point where you’re tuning into these subtle, intuitive hits. When it comes to comprehending it and taking an action, how do you blow it up, magnify it without distorting it?
Danielle: So kind of like if the intuitive information is coming in, how do you know that this is the intuitive information to take action on?
Eric: Sure. I think that’s a good question too, but specifically what I was asking is you know it’s an intuitive information, but how do you then make sense of it so you know what to do in kind of terms of like taking an action, like, okay, say I intuitively get a sense about something with an animal or communicating with some animal. How do I translate that into an action of saying something or formulating it into words or something like that?
Danielle: So when I’m teaching, what I teach is when the information comes in to stay as exactly true to your experience, not interpretation of the information. So if this animal gives me a picture of something, I describe exactly that picture and not what I think it means. So instead of saying he loves to play ball, all I saw is a picture of a red ball. I’m going to say, “I see a picture of a red ball.” Because one of the things you have to do is you have to kind of remove your filter as best as possible from the information, because the animal’s giving you this information as they want it to be received. So if I interpret all the stuff I’m getting, now, I’m bringing Danielle into it. Now I can never fully remove myself from a reading. I’m going to be here no matter what, but the better that I can do at just sticking with what I call the raw data, the more accurate it’s going to be to what that animal wants me to know.
The other thing is a lot of the time we are looking to an animal to give us information that we’re going to take action on, but a lot of what that animal wants us to do is be more in connection with them. So you may think it’s like that animal’s going to tell you that you have to go on more walks somehow, but sometimes it’s no, we’re just supposed to be together. I see your heart. I feel your sadness, and this animal’s letting you know, no, I’m with you and I’m here and I’m supporting you. So there’s this other kind of internal relationship, internal emotional relationship that you end up being able to experience when you connect with an animal in this way, in addition to the more expected stuff like he doesn’t like his food, she wants more walks, that kind of stuff.
Eric: Yeah. I mean, and let alone the psychic component of this. It’s a hard exercise to purely take raw data and not put interpretation on it. To be able to perceive that that’s actually happened, that we have made an interpretation, we haven’t just looked at the raw data. I mean, just let alone the additional complexity of dealing with psychic realms and intuition, in the physical world, you look at something there’s all these subconscious, unconscious filters, interpretations happening. So how do you disentangle that?
Danielle: I teach people to use the language of raw data. I saw, I heard, I felt, I knew, and then I smell and I tasted, and there’s some others as well, but that’s how I get my students to back out of the interpretation. However, a lot of them want to receive the information from the animal and get like four or five data points, and then like a person would do in regular life, combine all those data points to come up with an answer to then share the answer, but it doesn’t work well that way because now we’re getting back into interpretation. We’re getting back into what we think it means versus allowing it to be exactly what that animal wants it to be.
If I’m receiving information from my dog for me, I still have to make sure that I’m not interpreting and I’m initially looking at exactly the raw data that she’s given me. Then I can figure out what it means. Maybe I hear a song, she sends me a certain song. I’m going to just say, all right. She sent me this song, but if I happen to also have an emotional connection to it because of blah, blah, blah, three years ago, whatever, when it’s for me, I then can also add that in once I first looked at the raw data that she’s given me. Does that make sense? So we always just want to try and get it directly from them first.
Eric: That makes a lot of sense. Do you think that the skills it takes to be an effective … because in this context of their conversation, I’m aware that we’re talking about animal communication because that’s what you do. However, there are psychic components in dealing with everything. So to me, we’re talking about animal communication, but I’m aware that this is applicable to life in general. It’s applicable to business. It’s applicable to relationships with humans, with ourselves, et cetera. So do you feel like in your experience when working with students that there is some people who have more of an innate capacity to do these things than others? Is it something that has to be a gift or is it something that everybody has the capacity to learn at a certain level?
Danielle: So first, yes I do animals, but I also do all the other stuff. Animals is kind of my passion, but along with learning all this stuff, it opens up all of your intuitive senses, so yeah, I totally get what you’re talking about there. Second, I don’t believe it’s a gift. From what the animals have told me from what I’ve learned along the way, we’re all born, able to do this, but we shut it down. So when somebody’s taking my class, they’re simply learning how to find what already exists, but has been shut down. Having said that, I have seen a pattern that people who have had significant trauma in their lives when they were young, tend to be able to open up more easily.
I had significant trauma as well, and the reason is that, and I’ll use myself as an example, growing up, I had to learn other ways to be able to know what’s happening in my world. So I had to not shut my senses down in order to keep myself safe. So I’ve had to understand somebody’s intentions, despite the smile. I’ve had to feel their energy. I’ve had to learn how to walk in a room and be like, “Ooh, nope, this isn’t good for me.” So the people who have an easier time opening, meaning everybody can do it, but the people who have it a little bit easier are those people who kind of suffered in their life.
Eric: Yeah, that makes sense.
Danielle: The people that I tend to attract, very analytical people who love to gather data, who like for things to be all organized and because I’m kind of the same way. It’s funny because that means then to do this work, they have to unlearn a way of existing in the world. They have to become okay with sharing whatever it is without knowing what it means, without knowing that this is the answer, without even knowing if you’re delivering accurately because a lot of this is just having faith that, hey, I’m doing this thing and I’m sharing this information and I’m doing my best. That’s really hard for analytical people.
Eric: Yeah. I love that word on learning because I feel like it’s such a positive perspective shift because a lot of times, especially for analytical people, when we go into something new, we feel like it’s about an accumulating of something. I’m going to accumulate something such that I can acquire a new skill as if you don’t already have it and you’re getting it from somewhere else, but the thing about intuition, psychic abilities and other subtle forms of connection, it’s more of like what layers do I need to peel off that are blocking me from experiencing the things that I already have the capability to experience.
Danielle: What’s really cool about that is, so I teach animal communication. I also teach something I call Soul Level Psychic, which is opening your intuition, but when you work with the animals to open this way, the animals are actually evaluating you while you’re doing it. “Oh, okay. Let’s see. He needs me to give him information this way, because that’s going to bring up this baggage that once he releases, this part will open up.” So they’re actually actively working to help us do this because the result of being able to let go and not needing to have the answer all the time and having more faith have great ramifications throughout your entire life.
Eric: Yeah. I’m doing this really interesting thing right now. I’m traveling through the United Kingdom and I’m going through this website called trustedhousesitters.co.uk. So it’s basically people with pets put dates that their house is available and what pets they have, and I can look at it and be like, okay, I want to take care of that pet, and in exchange for me taking care of their pets, I get a place to stay.
Danielle: That’s so cool. Wow.
Eric: It’s been this really amazing actually healing journey because I lost my dog earlier this year, and so now I’m getting this opportunity to spend a couple weeks at a time or whatever with new animals connecting with them. It’s really interesting because I’m noticing that there is this fundamental flavor of dogs for me, like a connection that feels similar across all of them, and then each of them have their personality. Something else that I notice that’s interesting is that how flexible dogs are in terms of, for example, I notice that pet owners, when they introduce me, they act as if they’re training me on how to drive a car.
It’s like, “Okay, he does this well, he doesn’t do that well, and he acts this way.” Then my experience is like no dog ever behaves the same way with their owner as they do with me. Everybody has to make their own relationship with the dog because the way I interpret this is like, okay, they’re pack animals. So every time there’s a new person involved, they’re going to figure out where they sit. They’re actively listening to see where their position is and each person’s energy, they’re so in tune to energy. I’ve learned so much about energy and subtle cues about body language from having a dog and raising him from a puppy. They’re just great teachers in that regard.
Danielle: I believe it goes even deeper than that, meaning you’re talking about this experience that you’re having here, but what I believe from what they’ve told me is that you’re actually supposed to be with these animals. That before you incarnated here, you knew these animal souls, even the ones that you’re just with for two weeks, and these animals agreed to incarnate, meet up with you at some point in this life and help you grow and evolve. Some animals have bigger roles. Some animals have smaller roles, but it’s interesting. I just did yesterday on TikTok, this woman TikToked her husband at a cat hotel and this cat had come out and sat in her husband’s lap. Her husband was like uncomfortable around animals. The cat never did that with anyone else.
So the video of this moving music and everything, but you could just see these two were meant to be together. I commented on this and then a few people wrote, “Yeah, but they’re not going to be able to adopt the cat. It’s not working,” implying that no, it’s not an animal soul contract. They’re not meant to be together because they can’t adopt him, but actually that’s the crazy thing about this stuff. It doesn’t matter the length of time. This guy now, his heart is open. He’s ready for this cat. He’s ready. He wants this type of love. That may be all that that cat needed to do for that guy.
Eric: That’s such a beautiful lesson to take into everything that in every relationship there is not this length of time, perceived length of time does not equal impact.
Danielle: Yeah. It doesn’t.
Eric: I’m sure all of us have had the experience of anything, something that momentarily experienced some memory from the past, it just was so brief and never experienced again, but it stands out as a shining milestone or something that transforms something and that’s sometimes all it takes.
Danielle: So you’re having a pretty cool opportunity to experience some amazing connections. The cool thing about is with each connection, I mean, it’s obvious with that guy, right? We know he was kind of afraid of animals, was uncomfortable and now he’s open. That’s a really obvious one, but there’s something to learn for your soul’s journey in every single one of these experiences.
Eric: I feel that 100%, and I just reflect on it from a higher level, like looking that this was not a plan of mine. I didn’t know about this site. Somebody told me about it when I was here. So you just look at all this stuff and you’re just like the beauty of things unfolding when there is no plan is so much better sometimes when there is a plan because to me addiction to planning is, in a sense, a trauma response for lack of control. So planning is something that we can do to create really a false sense of security because ultimately what control do we have?
Danielle: I wrote about that in my Soul Contracts book. The idea is that that control is a workaround based on a negative belief. The negative belief for me, which is why I tend to go to control, is I’m not safe, supported and protected. If I can control it, I’m all good. So one of the things that I’m working on and one of the things the animals in my life come in to help me do is learn about not controlling.
Eric: Yeah. The thing is too, it takes a lot of courage to not control, because it can be argued very easily and effectively that it’s safer to control, but the thing is safety also, it shuts you off from experience. So yeah, it’s safe, but-
Danielle: Well it’s safer to control, but that means you will only ever be safe if you control and you can’t be in control of everything you control. So you’re never actually going to feel totally safe. So we have to back it up and look at the negative beliefs driving that. I am not safe, supported, and protected. What I have people do is I have them actually look around and find all the places where they’re looking to control. It’s something I’ve had to learn in my business, especially teaching classes. At first, I always wanted to write out all my classes, like we’re doing this, we’re doing this, we’re doing this. Then I noticed I was still doing that and I never followed what I wrote out, but I had to write it out anyway because it gave me a sense of control. Eventually I got to the point where five minutes before, I’m like, “What am I doing today?” and just had to become comfortable with that because that’s the way it was working.
Eric: It’s okay to go through a process like that.
Danielle: It is an interesting process of not doing but observing.
Eric: I feel like that’s a common thing for me. Any new thing that I do, there’s always in the beginning, an over preparation. Like when I started this podcast four years ago, it was a lot different than it is now. I don’t, I feel like that’s a natural part of learning something new, because I think there’s this thing that we can do. We’re like, “Okay, control is not good,” and therefore we can go to the place where we become controlling by saying we’re going to not control, which is in a way controlling. It’s this delicate balance of some things are natural.
We have to be patient and learn to listen to ourselves. Like where am I at? Where is this coming from? If it’s purely like, oh, this is a new thing, I’m feeling a little uncomfortable, I need to help myself prepare, then that’s okay. Hold yourself in that place and allow for that young elementary school student first day of school, you got to little nervous, who am I going to meet here, right? Then it goes from there. The more experience we get, the more comfortable we get. Then by the last day of school we’ve been transformed by the experience.
Danielle: That’s the thing that I always talk about is control being one of them. The things we develop like that are basically us using our willpower so that we don’t have to experience something, but even using our willpower to stop ourselves from control is a form of control.
Danielle: So I try to back people away from using willpower and going into this place of just observation. So if I’m observing myself in my life and I’m noticing these things about myself, it actually helps me understand better who I am and why I make the choices I make. From there, it actually shows me that it doesn’t always have to be the way my belief tells me it is, which in turn shifts my belief. That observing myself is the same observing myself that I use when I’m being intuitive with an animal or not regular psychic, but you know what I mean. It’s that all of this observation is what allows me to do what I do personally and in my work.
Eric: Yeah, it’s like a subtle detachment. It’s introducing a subtle space between-
Danielle: Yeah. Like noticing, oh, I just made that decision. Huh. Okay. Not judging it, just noticing. It’s noticing without judgment. It’s funny that it’s the same thing when I’m doing the work or I’m doing it for myself, but both ways allow me to be more present without necessarily going into that reactionary place.
Eric: Yeah. It’s a really delicate dance because life, the experience of what’s happening, well, let’s just say sometimes the intensity of it, the observational aspect of ourselves and the detached aspect of ourselves, you’re like, “Oh, well now I need to come in. Now I need to come down and I could do everything else. I could watch that, but this, no, I need to step in here.” I don’t know who the I is anymore in that explanation. The result is that kind of like soft gaze of our own life has now dissipated and now we’ve chosen to just dive into the current and we’re lost in it.
Danielle: Yeah. That was a good way to say that. The soft gaze.
Eric: Yeah, it’s like those magic eye paintings. Did you ever do those?
Danielle: Oh yeah. Love those.
Eric: Yeah. I mean it’s a lot like that. There’s just like you’re looking at it and just like this subtle way you can relax into it where you see the picture, but if you try, you can’t see it.
Danielle: Yeah. It’s across the board. What am I working on with my students a lot of the time? I can’t tell you how often I’m like, “You’re trying too hard. It’s okay. Just relax.” When they start treating it more like it’s a game, it actually works for them. When they’re serious and they’re trying to do it right, and they’re trying to get it perfect, it actually doesn’t work.
Eric: Yeah. So switching gears a little bit here, when you decided to start your business and go into this, you mentioned you were kind of in a fortune 500 career, corporate world. What was that like for you, that transition? Were you supported in that with the people in your life, or was it a little rocky?
Danielle: When I first got into this and realized it was a thing, I tried to get my husband to come along with me. Come to this call, do this thing. Let’s go to this class. He’s nice. He wasn’t really into it. He grew up in a very strict religion that he was very hands off about I don’t want anything to do with that. So when he heard me mentioning psychic stuff, to him, he associated that with religion, and so he was basically like, “That’s your thing. I’m not going there.” He was supportive, he just didn’t want to participate. So I continued working my corporate job. I was doing this part-time. I was trying to force my husband to get on board. It was very clunky. Then we bought a new house. We signed the papers at like noon on a Friday, but at 10 that Friday I had been laid off from my job, and the bank didn’t know because they had called at nine the job to confirm.
Eric: Perfect timing.
Danielle: Right? Talk about the universe protecting me. So I took that as a sign. I said to my husband, “Well, I feel like this is because I’m supposed to go full time.” I had been getting signs all along, you’re supposed to let go of your job, you’re supposed to let go of your job, and I just hadn’t. So I took this as a sign and decided to go full time, and it was very, very challenging at first because I didn’t have any models. I didn’t have anybody. I was more of a techy person in a lot of ways, and this was, what, almost 20 years ago.
I remember I got my own radio show, but at that time radio on the internet was you pre-recorded the radio show and then you emailed it over and then they would have to upload it into your show. I mean, it was just very, very different from what there is now. So I really had to put myself in this place of, I don’t know what I’m doing, but I’m just going to try it anyway. I’m going to try this thing. I’m going to try that thing. That’s the place I was in when I was doing animal communication anyway, because I had no idea what was possible and what wasn’t, and I just carried that into my business and basically took one huge risk after another.
Eric: Nice. I also feel like that I don’t know mentality is also the precursor of good things. I don’t know what the hell’s going on, but I’m going this way and we’ll see what happens. That’s the beginning of a lot of great journeys.
Danielle: I’d be on the phone with a client and they’d say, “Can you tell me about this?” I say, “I don’t know. Let’s see,” and it’s actually what I teach my students. Stop thinking I have all the answers, just try it. It seems to work.
Eric: Yeah, because the thing about having all the answers is if you feel like there’s a situation where you don’t, then you won’t go into it.
Danielle: Then you have to look outside yourself for that answer.
Eric: So I’d love to hear about how you created your membership site and when that happened. You mentioned that you weren’t a big tech person.
Danielle: No, I was a big tech person.
Eric: Oh you were?
Danielle: Yes. I liked tech.
Eric: Right, right, yes, you were. You were. Okay.
Danielle: That radio show was high tech, in fact.
Eric: High tech in 90s style. Oh no, it wasn’t 90s, but I’m imagining Saved by the Bell fashion for some reason. Psychically I’m picking up on that. Okay, you’re into tech. So what was the process like for you when you first started your membership site? I mean, and when did you know it was time for that transition in your business?
Danielle: The first thing I started was my online school, and that was in 2014, and then I started my membership site in 2017. The online school is kind of what got me thinking about, I need a space for everybody. I need a place for all these people at all these different levels to come together because the courses in the school kept everybody separated out. Then I was in a mastermind call and a friend said, “I think I’m going to start a membership site,” and it was one of those moments where I was like, “Oh, what’s that? So am I.” I mean in 2017 it wasn’t that big of a thing. It wasn’t common. So I really didn’t know what it was, but it felt intuitively like that’s my thing that I need to do. So I started, I kind of investigated all these different ways and the original way that I put together used, this was back when Facebook was amazing.
My main concern was really having a place for everybody to feel like they are supported and in community, where they could action each other. So the original way that I did was kind of makeshift, I don’t know, is a jury rigged a word? I keep using it now?
Danielle: It is? Okay. I figured out with my web person, we’re going to put it together like this and she didn’t know anything about them at the time either. None of her clients had it, but it wasn’t really working. It wasn’t pretty, it wasn’t smooth, and the community part was attached to Facebook and I didn’t like that. So I did end up changing it, within like three months I changed over. I think that’s about when I changed over to MemberMouse. I mean, I just stuck with MemberMouse because I needed the reporting. I needed to be able to see, not emotionally or psychically, what people were doing and how long they were staying. Oh no, I think it was maybe like nine months in that I switched over.
Eric: I think I know probably why you chose MemberMouse, is because our colors are blue.
Danielle: I really do like blue. I do, I like blue.
Danielle: That’s funny. I mean, I need to not have to spend time figuring out my technology. I’m really good with technology, but if it’s not obvious, if it’s not like this makes sense when you do this, oh, and there’s that exact information I’m looking for, I think technology should be like that and I’m not going to waste my time if it doesn’t give me the information I need. I’ve gotten maybe in my old age a little like, nope, you’re not giving me what I need. I’m not doing this anymore.
Eric: Yeah, for sure. I think too, like you said about animals earlier on, they choose us. I think that ultimately everything that shows up in our world is there to be a part of it in some way, and it sounds very weird to say that about technology, but all of these labels are just labels, right? At a certain level, all of this stuff has an energetic signature to it and ultimately at an essential level, that’s what we’re interacting with and we can do it without being conscious of it, but we can also do it and be conscious of it, which is a lot more fun, I think.
Danielle: We know how big Zoom is now. I was one of the original adopters of Zoom. When I talked to their customer service, they’re like, “Oh, you’re one of those,” because it was that same thing. There was an intuitive part of me that went this is the thing, this is the one. I agree, there is an attraction when it’s right.
Eric: Yeah. It’s the same thing I felt that day four weeks ago or sometime, five weeks ago when I was sitting in the kitchen and this person mentioned the trusted house sitters thing, I immediately know, I was like, oh, that’s something I need to do. I’m going to go create my profile tonight. Done.
Danielle: You don’t even have to think about it so much.
Eric: Which again is a practice to come to a point where you’re okay not thinking about things because if you don’t have that practice, then the mind always wants to know what the payoff is. What’s the outcome? Why am I doing this?
Danielle: Every single place in my life, even today, right now where I am feeling stress is because I am not practicing basically looking at it like it’s all fun. Every single place where I’m like, “No, I got to do that better. I’ve got to dial that in.”, when I’m pushing myself like that, I lose that thing that got me to Zoom, that got me to start my business after one class, that thing, that risk taking thing, that part of me, and it’s funny because I know that and yet there’s still places where I’m like, no, I’m still going to dial that in better. I’m still going to master that thing and make that happen.
Eric: It must be part of the journey of it, right? I mean this kind of like tension and relaxation and tension and relax. We’re not in control of that, and I feel like, I don’t know. I don’t know how it operates, but even for me, every two weeks I have to move to a new place, so there’s this repetitive cycle of like, oh, I’m in a new place. I haven’t got my grounding and then I get grounded and then I get grounded and I’m like, oh, I have to leave now. I’m letting go. I’m saying goodbye, and I’m coming to a new place. I’m uncomfortable. Is this place going to work for me? This thing’s not right. That thing’s not right. Oh, I’m comfortable again. Oh, now I have to leave.
When these patterns play out in such short succession, you’re like, oh, it’s just a sunrise, sunset, different experiences. The sunrise is a different experience than the sunset. It feels different. I think it’s just like that. Things feel different, but then culturally, there can be judgements placed on a sunset versus a sunrise. Look, this is a big one. Culturally, there’s a distinction between the beginning and the end of relationships. Beginnings of relationships are great. Endings are not good. Why? Why is an ending of a relationship not okay and a beginning is okay?
Danielle: I was just dealing with that in something I was writing for this ebook I’m putting together, which is about how we view the end when an animal dies as a bad thing, as a horrible thing, and yet when the animals are talking to me about it, they’re viewing it as the next step. They’re literally just, “Okay, now I’m complete with this body. I’m moving on to this thing, whatever it is.” So there’s almost, it is a feeling of evolution for them and it is a feeling of, “Yay, I did that part. I’m moving on,” versus we’re looking at it so definitively, which makes me even not like using the word death because of how humans react to death versus what it means to an animal, which isn’t actually death. So yeah, I know exactly what you’re talking about there.
Eric: When my dog passed, it was unbearably hard. For a month, I got to a point where I weighed myself, I had lost 10 pounds and I didn’t even know that I wasn’t eating. I just did not know. At the same time, while I was in that experience, that depth of that for four weeks, I also perceived at the same time that the level of depth of experience that I’m experiencing right now is profound. This doesn’t come about. The only reason that I can get to this deep level of experience within myself is because of how special that relationship was. So in a way, yeah, the ending, it doesn’t feel good, but ultimately full circle, that whole package from beginning to end, can’t possibly break it down, but that’s the magic. You can’t just pick and choose what you want. You can, but that’s control, and if you control, then you’re missing a lot of the nuance of the gift and the mystery.
Danielle: It won’t last anyway.
Eric: Right. Yeah.
Danielle: One of the things I find is that a lot of animals are crossing over right now because they’re completing the work they can do with us in their physical body, but they want to continue the relationship after they’ve crossed over. So it’s really not an ending.
Eric: This is what the animal communicator said to me, get this. She said it was all good, everything was good about me passing over, et cetera, but then he said one thing, he’s like, “Whenever you do something with music, I’ll be there.” I compose music and I’ve been composing music since I was 14, but here’s the thing. It’s always been kind of a side thing for me, something I’ve kept for myself and close people. I forget the timeline, but basically shortly after that, all these pieces came together such that I could start performing my music with an orchestra.
So I did that last year and now that’s why I’m back in England again. Next week, I’m literally with a 60 piece orchestra again, doing my music. If you look at it, music is what brought me to England, and through that process, I’m also spending time with these dogs and reconnecting with that energy. So I’m not going to spell it out, but my experience is, there’s something interesting about that.
Danielle: How cool that you are in a place where you’re open enough to notice and be in it consciously. That’s awesome.
Eric: So what’s one of the most surprising things that you’ve discovered about running a membership site.
Danielle: I would say it’s actually the gratitude that people have, being able to have all of this information accessible to them whenever they want it, at being able to, a lot of what’s in my membership site, other than community, are videos with tools and techniques and things they can do on their own, and since I’ve got people from all over the world, a lot of them can’t do things at the time when I would normally do something. So they’re being able to access information whenever they want, pause it, use it however they want, whenever they want. In my mind, I’m like, okay, I put this thing together, I’m delivering this content, but the emails that we get back about how grateful people are for being able to do that, how they would not be able to find that information elsewise or they work nights or days or whatever it is, I’ve been surprised at the gratitude that people have for this way of having this information available to them.
Eric: I think that you have two components to your membership, right? You have your Soul Level Animal Communication Course and you have Be Open membership.
Danielle: So the Soul Level Animal Communication Course is separate. That’s in the school. The Be Open membership, that’s where we play and practice animal stuff. There’s also videos and classes and stuff like that in there, and then there’s just regular intuitive stuff in Be Open as well. I mean, regular intuitive stuff. You know what I mean?
Eric: Sure, sure.
Danielle: Not animal.
Eric: Yeah. So how did you choose to structure your membership like this?
Danielle: So originally it was mostly animal stuff, animal intuition stuff and animal based content, but what I found was that when somebody’s interested in this stuff, it helps to be able to give them more. A whole other aspect of what I do is working with guides and doing intuition. So the animals were actually opening the people up enough where they wanted access to all this other information. So I had to add in like a whole second side to the membership.
Eric: So the Be Open membership is a more global all encompassing. It’s not necessarily just about animals, but probably an entry point for people is that they’re looking for the Soul Level Animal Communication, they do that, and then after they’re done, they’re like, “Oh, I want to keep going,” and then they go into the Be Open membership?
Danielle: So it’s really interesting. You’re right, they’ll take my beginner animal communication class, Soul Level Animal Communication, and then when they’re taking that class, they’re like, “I want community.” So they have their community through the class, but they also want the Be Open community. So they’ll buy that, but if someone comes in and becomes a member of Be Open and they’re not taking a class, they’ll actually end up taking a class as well. They feed each other, which is really awesome because they’re really complimentary.
Eric: Sure. Do you see opportunities and getting feedback in things for other more low level courses, like a Soul Level Animal Communication Course, but something different? Are people asking for anything?
Danielle: Yeah. So recently I did, and this is a format I want to repeat because it worked really well, I did a four week series in the community, in Be Open and it was a clearing series where instead of teaching, I actually did the clearing work for the group, and I set it up so everybody could receive that, but I sold it as, “Hey, when we do this clearing series, I need to close Be Open. I need to close registration so that we can all track together and do this.” So for those four, once a week sessions, nobody could join Be Open, but it created this insulated, intimate feeling where people felt safe to share what the experience was, which was really awesome, and then it also created interest. The people who weren’t in, they really wanted to get in before I closed it temporarily. So more like that, for sure.
Eric: Yeah, and of course there are actual marketing strategies. People will sell and tell people, “Oh, scarcity,” right? The thing is, just like we were talking about earlier, when you see somebody smile, but energetically you sense it’s not there, this stuff works on the internet too. If a program is closed, but it’s not really closed, just as a gimmick, people get it, and if you’re faking the thing, oh, I’m going to, this is a closed group, but you still have registrations open because you’re like, “Oh, nobody’s really going to know. What are they going to know if I’m still …” Energetically, it has felt, whether people are conscious or not.
Danielle: This was truly with the purpose of we’re going to do this big clearing work. I can’t have people coming in who have been doing it, who aren’t familiar with the community. It really needed to be just that current us at that moment. It felt so good to just have that group in that moment, and then I opened it up and I told people it’s only going to be closed for this period of time because I actually don’t like when a membership does the scarcity thing. “We’re open now.”
Eric: That’s a little corny.
Danielle: For me, it just doesn’t resonate with me, and it doesn’t resonate with my people. So I tried it once and I just didn’t like it, and so I decided, no, the thing’s open. I want people to come when they’re ready to come, but I will do this again if I have another one where I need it to just be the group so that we can track together. That felt so good to me.
Eric: Yeah, it feels really special because it’s kind of like you’re deciding to watch a movie with a group of people and if you keep it open like 15 minutes in, you’re all into it, and then this guy walks in and you have to pause it and explain, “Okay, this happened and this happened. Okay, everybody ready? Let’s start again.” It disrupts the flow.
Danielle: No, you can’t be here. You did not do clearing number one guy. What are you doing?” So it worked out well, but it also showed me the power of bringing a group of people together who all are kind of feeling the same with an intention that is the same and how good that … I just really liked it, but not for good. I would not like it if I kept it like that. That doesn’t feel good to me. It doesn’t fit my business. It doesn’t fit my personality.
Eric: Now, we talked about you left your corporate job.
Eric: Circumstances happen such that you didn’t have a job anymore.
Danielle: Yes. The universe was like, “No, Danielle, we told you to leave your job. We’re just going to fire you now.”
Eric: Then you started doing the animal stuff. So when did you get to a point where you felt you had learned enough with that that you could actually start teaching it?
Danielle: I started teaching pretty early on. I probably started teaching within a year of doing it. There wasn’t anyone teaching around. There wasn’t anyone teaching. There was the one guy, but he didn’t even live on the same side of the country as me. I think teaching’s always been in my blood. So the way I taught was I actually learned more while I taught. So because I was doing it intuitively I would come up with various ways of teaching based on intuitively what I was hearing to say, which tends to be how I do a lot of things.
Eric: So as we wrap up here, I just want to ask you what advice would you have for giving your experience in building your business? So many things go into it. What advice do we have for other entrepreneurs out there who work in a very specific niche and maybe they don’t feel like it’s valuable enough or enough people would be interested to do it?
Danielle: Yeah. It’s interesting because there’s part of me that feels like, oh, my niche is so small, and yet I have found these ways to like, I’ll use social media as an example on my TikTok, which it’s TikTok. It’s TikTok, but what I found is I had to find ways to bring in big numbers of people to then filter through to my people. So on TikTok, one of the things I’ve been doing is I have TikToks that go out that are very broad and appeal to a mass audience, that’ll bring in like a million or whatever, but in that million there’s 3,000 or 4,000 who are like my people. So there’s these differing feelers. There’s the broad feeler, and then there’s the real, actual full on Danielle content that I’m putting out there, and so I’ve had to find these ways that reach both. Does that make sense?
Eric: Yeah. So you created a funnel?
Danielle: I mean, yeah, using TikTok, but there’s not really a funnel, but, so I’m funneling it down and I have all those on my website and everything. In terms of how I actually built my business, it’s more of those, I mean my friend calls it a hell yes. That’s how I felt about MemberMouse. That’s how I felt about Zoom. That’s how I felt about a membership site. All of these pieces where there was no part of me that thought about what I was doing other than that, I was doing that. Those are the moments that have formed some really pivotal parts in my work. Same thing with, oh, I need to do animal communication. What am I doing. I just kind of went forward with it without giving in a lot of thought. For me, those gut moves that didn’t take in all the data were the best moves.
Eric: Right, because if you think about it too much, you might talk yourself out of it.
Danielle: Yeah. If I’m a person who’s looking to create this Danielle thing, well that Danielle thing doesn’t exist anywhere else because there’s no other Danielle. So I can’t look out there to see the exact model. I can find things that ping me and that I’m excited about, but then I need to take them all into Danielle’s world. It took me a while to start realizing the Danielle way is actually awesome. I think we think that our way has to model off of somebody else, and it was a problem for me for a long time. I don’t have anyone. Then I realized, no, no, no, my way’s cool. My way’s cool.
People will like my way if I like my way. So I would say spontaneity, going with that gut feeling are the biggest pieces. I know what that’s crazy, right, but of course it’s coming from a psychic, go with the gut feeling, go with the hell yeses to know where the direction is. A lot of my students are trying to start their businesses and they’re looking at it from a very data driven perspective. I try to pull them back to, if you go where you feel most excited, you are going to get delivered the pieces that you need, the guidance is that passion. So I would say following the actual passion.
Eric: Yeah. Don’t mess with the hell yes.
Danielle: Oh, that was good.
Eric: Trademark. You can have it though.
Eric: Yep. No, and I had the same exact experience with my music, and I recognize that the more that I do it, the more that me going into the hell yes of my relationship to it is about embracing a relationship with myself, and it’s not about me knowing who I am. It’s about me discovering who I am because the hell yeses are essentially that’s the next step. You’re not given the information about where that step goes
Danielle: Or why.
Eric: Or why.
Danielle: Or why. I want to know why. I never get the why. I just have to be, okay, here I go.
Eric: Yeah. The thing is, I have a number of hell yeses and they’re kind of like these parallel tracks and the thing is they switch. So I’ll feel like I’m walking down the music track and everything’s flowing and then it’ll stop. It’ll go cold, and now the MemberMouse track picks up and then it’ll stop, and then this other one picks up, and it bounces around on its own. The thing is if I try to control it, I would not let go of music, and I would go into MemberMouse when I’m asked to do that. Then I would mess up the whole delivery mechanism. I think when I look back on the 13 years I’ve been doing MemberMouse, that’s how it was in the beginning. I was very determined that I was going to do something.
So I spent so much energy building the business, 60 hour weeks, this kind of thing, multiple jobs, living with my parents, all this stuff. The thing is I realize in retrospect that so many of the things that I was doing was just that I felt I needed to do something. Knowing what I know now, there were only these critical points that were delivered to me that really propelled things forward, and of course this isn’t to say that I regret anything that I’ve done, but it is a recognition that I carry with me now that listening is such an important practice. Because it saves, like you were talking about earlier about stress, stress is really a result of trying to do everything ourselves when really we don’t have to. If we listen, then we will get clarity. Then people want to know, “Well, how do I get clarity? How does it come? What does it look like?” Well, that’s not listening.
Danielle: No. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been mad, like, “No, no, no. I just want to know where’s it going, and then I won’t be stressed. Just tell me what’s coming. I’ll be good then,” and that has not worked once.
Eric: No, it doesn’t.
Danielle: Not once, no.
Eric: But it’s a fun journey.
Eric: It’s fun when you just recognize that it’s not about having the answers and that’s it. I will say thank you Ozzie, five month old Cocker Spaniel for being very good during this whole conversation.
Danielle: Yeah. my dog too. Not a single bark. Yeah.
Eric: Yeah. So we appreciate them. Thank you so much for this amazing conversation. It’s been really nice connecting with you.
Danielle: Thank you for having me. I had no idea what to expect. This was awesome. Thank you.
Eric: I didn’t either. I didn’t either. Thank you so much, and we will hopefully talk to you again soon.
Thank you so much for listening to my entire conversation with Danielle.
I hope you’re walking away feeling excited and inspired to work on your big — and potentially niche — idea for a business.
Many thanks to Danielle for coming on the show and sharing so freely from her experience.
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Thanks for Listening!
Thank you so much for listening to this episode of our podcast. We hope you enjoyed our conversation with Danielle and are walking away with new ideas and strategies you can use to grow your niche membership or subscription business.
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