Don’t Be Fooled By Passive Income with Gillian Perkins
Entrepreneur, Author, & Founder of Startup Society
"Something I think many people miss about passive income is that even if you don't have to do much work to continue to get some income from it, most of us who have that drive inside of us that compels us to go out and create something, we're going to want to take it further. We're going to continue to do work to increase our income over time."
Let's get real for a second…
Raise your hand if you've ever read and been inspired by a book like Rich Dad, Poor Dad or The 4-Hour Workweek.
Have you ever heard the sirens' song and fallen under the tantalizing spell of passive income?
“Make money while you sleep…”
“Do the work once, get paid forever…”
Maybe you've had an idea for an esoteric wart cure eBook that'd make you a millionaire, a vegan pet food affiliate marketing blog, or even thought of buying a laundromat or set of ATM machines.
It's OK, we've all been there.
The idea of passive income seems great (at first). Who wouldn't want to create an income stream that required little to no work?
But once you get to work on your project, the reality of achieving truly passive income begins to set in. What once seemed like an easy and lucrative idea shows you it's true colors.
Now don't get us wrong. It's not that passive income is a myth or a lie. It certainly can be achieved. It's just that the reality of passive income looks much different than how it's sold to us in books, blogs, and courses. As Gillian (our guest on this episode of the podcast) would say it’s not all “sundrops and rainbows” or even “rainbows and ponies.”
Meet Gillian Perkins
That's why we are so excited to welcome Gillian Perkins onto the podcast today. Gillian is an author, entrepreneur, and marketing strategist who helps online business owners start and scale their businesses. She's a prolific content creator and has gained over 200,000 subscribers on YouTube. Over the past few years, Gillian has tried just about everything under the sun in her quest to earn passive income.
She's written and sold a paperback book, invested in rental properties, created online courses, and most recently built a membership site.
Gillian joins us on the show today to share the lessons she's learned in her quest to build a successful online business and give you a realistic look into what it actually takes to earn passive income.
Our conversation culminates in an in-depth discussion of membership sites: why she started hers, how she got her first 300 members, the joys and challenges of running one, and her advice to you to get yours up and running.
This is a really special episode and we hope you enjoy and benefit from our conversation.
|2:46||Meet Gillian Perkins and learn why she became an entrepreneur|
|7:25||The 3 definitions of passive income|
|12:12||Why Gillian considers money a metric, not the destination|
|14:49||A breakdown of the 5 main strategies Gillian has tried to make passive income|
|24:07||The difference between an online course and a membership site|
|28:50||A look at the amount of work it takes to build a membership site|
|33:38||Adopt this mindset when you're building your membership site|
|37:36||What Gillian loves about membership sites (and their challenges)|
|43:21||The truth about the membership model no one talks about|
|49:05||How Gillian got her first 300 members|
|55:40||Specific ways to measure your audience's engagement|
|58:56||Solving the "Free vs. Paid" content conundrum|
|1:02:40||Gillian's advice to get your membership site up and running|
“My dad, he worked for himself. So I always saw that flexibility and that freedom that he had. I still noticed that he was in control of his own life in a way that a lot of other people weren’t. And the thought of having someone else in charge of my life, be my boss, wasn’t something that ever sat well with me. Which led to me reading a lot of interesting books about how money is made and about economics. It at least sparked that desire in me to figure out an alternative way to make a living for myself and a way to work smarter instead of working just harder”
You’re listening to Gillian Perkins, our guest on today’s episode of the Subscription Entrepreneur Podcast. We’ve got a fun, engaging, and informative episode in store for you today.
But before we dive in…
Raise your hand if you’ve ever read and been inspired by a book like “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” or “The 4-Hour Workweek.” Have you ever heard the sirens’ call and caught “passive income fever?”
I sure did.
I first came across the idea of “passive income” while reading “Rich Dad, Poor Dad” on a flight back from a long stretch of consulting work overseas. That was before I became an entrepreneur and started my own business. Back when I had a job.
This book was pivotal in my journey as an entrepreneur and may very well have been the catalyst that ultimately led me to build MemberMouse.
But the thing is, if you’ve spent any amount of time chasing the mirage of passive income, you’ve undoubtedly come to understand just how much work actually goes into creating “passive income.”
And Gillian is no stranger to this.
Over the past few years, she’s hustled and tried just about everything under the sun to earn passive income. She’s written and sold a paperback book, invested in rental properties, created online courses, and most recently built a membership site.
Gillian joins us on the show today to share the lessons she’s learned in her quest to build a successful online business and give you a realistic look into what it actually takes to earn “passive income.”
Gillian details all of her attempts to earn passive income and reveals which strategies have been most successful… and which have fallen flat.
Our conversation culminates in an in-depth discussion of membership sites: why she started hers, how she signed up her first 300 members, the joys and challenges of running one, and her advice to you to get your up and running.
This is a really special episode and I hope you enjoy and benefit from our conversation. So, without further ado, let’s get to it! I’m your host Eric Turnnessen and this is episode 123 of the Subscription Entrepreneur Podcast.
Eric: Welcome to the show Gillian. Thanks so much for joining us.
Gillian: Thank you so much for having me. I’m excited to talk about membership sites today.
Eric: To get started, do you mind giving our listeners and myself of a brief overview of a little bit of who you are and what you do?
Gillian: Certainly. My name is Gillian Perkins and I am a business consultant. I focus in on helping people who create online courses and other types of digital products with marketing their products online. I have a YouTube channel that’s pretty successful. We have about 200,000 subscribers over there right now. That’s the main way that I help my audience at large. We also create courses for our customers, as well as run a membership site help them create more passive income in their businesses.
Eric: I’ll also add that it’s a very engaging YouTube channel. In fact, that’s the reason we’re talking today. A friend of mine is a long-time follower of yours. We were just having dinner and somehow, we were talking about the podcast and they asked, “Have you heard of Gillian?” I’m like, “No, I haven’t.” Then I started watching some videos and I thought, “Oh wow, this is great!”
Gillian: That’s so interesting.
Eric: So, that’s how this came about. Have you always wanted to own your own business and to be an entrepreneur?
Gillian: When I was a child I started having that interest. My dad worked for himself, he’s a landscape architect. I always saw that flexibility in that freedom that he had, even when he was working really hard, sometimes 70-80 plus hour weeks. I still noticed that he was in control of his own life in a way that a lot of other people weren’t. That became my normal. That was what I really expected from day one. The thought of having someone else be in charge of my life, be my boss, wasn’t something that ever sat well with me. Beyond that, I don’t know if I exactly planned to start my own company. I didn’t think about it that much, but I did start thinking about how to make money without working a job, or without you being hard physical labor. That was the labor that I saw in my life because my dad ran a landscaping company. I saw him and his employees going out there in the field, as they would say, and digging ditches. That was what they would always say they were doing. What are you doing? You’re digging ditches. That was the main work that I saw people doing. I was a very lazy child and I just thought, “I don’t not want to dig ditches.” So, how do we make money without digging ditches which, led to me reading a lot of interesting books about how money is made and about economics. I didn’t know from the start – none of us do – what we want to do when we grow up, but it at least sparked that desire in me to figure out an alternative way to make living for myself and, a way to work smarter instead of working just harder.
Eric: Did you ever do anything like a lemonade stand, or something like that when you were young?
Gillian: Oh, yes. My childhood was full of failed lemonade stands. I tried so many things along those lines. I was quite frankly very bad at it, I would say, but the thing I was good at was not giving up. I just kept trying over and over again regardless of the results, or the lack of results. I don’t think that I ever had a true lemonade stand, but I did a lot of very similar things. I remember one year setting up a table in my front yard and selling my Easter candy, or trying to sell my Easter candy – in the middle of summer. A few neighbors came over and out of pity for me bought some of my Easter candy. It was all sorts of strange little things like that that ultimately slowly taught me – I don’t even know if you would call them business lessons, but they taught me a lot of things that didn’t work and I realized why they didn’t work. That allowed me to, overtime, get over those things that I would have tried as an adult – not selling my Easter candy, of course. Trying some things that I would have tried later on.
Eric: That’s cool. I did a lemonade stand. However, I set mine up in the middle of the road.
Gillian: That sounds like a good strategy. You can just block the traffic there and …
Eric: Yeah. If you want to get by you have to buy some lemonade. I also had a dog catching business. I did a lot of things where I basically found ways to charge my parents for things that they already wanted me to do.
Gillian: Yes, I found ways to charge the neighbors mostly because my parents weren’t very into paying me to do things aside from … they did give me a small allowance. I remember that I started selling flower bulbs. There was something that was supposed to be some sort of fundraising tool that you could use where you could sell flower bulbs to your neighbors and your friends and then you got like 50% commission – kind of like selling Girl Scout cookies. I think that was the only thing that I did that I actually made any money at. I also tried starting various organizations which, is interesting now that we’re talking about membership sites. I would start different clubs or different charities. Then I would go around and ask the neighbors to donate to my charity or to join my club. Sometimes they would, a little bit, but it was one venture after another I would say. Just trying to see what would stick and none of it stuck.
Eric: That’s really interesting. You were very active. I definitely had some entrepreneurial interest when I was young, but I wasn’t doing a lot of stuff. It sounds like your education started early. You’re talking about your dad and the job that he was working. I think that you’ve read the book Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
Eric: That’s a book that really helped change my perception as well. The concept that really stood out to me is earned income vs passive income. Father’s job was more earned income. So, what does passive income mean to you?
Gillian: That’s a great question. That’s interesting because there’s the dictionary definition. There’s kind of an implied logical definition and there’s what it means to each individual person. Dictionary definition, this won’t be for verbatim of course, but I do read it on a pretty regular basis because I talk about passive income frequently in my business. It doesn’t say doesn’t say income obtained through no work. It says income obtained or maintained through little to no work. This doesn’t have to be income from doing absolutely nothing. Of course, nothing is created with absolutely no effort. Then there’s this implied definition which, I think some people think is work income that you have created that you don’t have to do anything to maintain. My personal definition – I would say that it’s income that you probably did a lot of work to create initially. You built a membership site, or you created an online course, or you bought a investment property or, if you bought a stock perhaps. Then over time, like the dictionary definition says, you have to do little to no work to maintain it. However, something that I think many people miss is that even if you don’t have to do much work to maintain it to continue to get some income from it, most of us who are interested in business or who have that drive inside of us that compels us to go out and create something, we’re going to want to take it further. We’re going to continue to do work to increase our income over time. A great example of that would be my YouTube channel. We make two videos every single week and we generate a fair amount of passive income through the ad revenue. YouTube displays ads on our videos, people click on those ads and we got 50% of what those advertisers pay to YouTube. I often identify YouTube as a source of passive income. Some people will come back and tell me it’s not passive income because clearly, you’re working really hard to create these videos. Yes, I am working really hard. It takes a lot of effort and a lot of time certainly to create the videos, but if I stopped creating videos today, I would continue to earn income from all the old videos that I’ve created in the past. That income would continue for months and months if not most likely years into the future. I’m continuing to do this work to build my business and to build my audience so that my future income will be even bigger than it is today, but hat doesn’t mean that YouTube isn’t generating some passive income.
Eric: Also, what you said earlier is about your intention and why you’re doing it. If you’re trying to do it to get to the passive income and you imagine at some point you’re just going to stop and do nothing, a lot of times those ideas don’t land and have success because you’re not willing to actually put in the effort to get to a point where you generated enough past assets that can fuel present income. For you, it’s really clear to see that your main motivator is not the income side of things, you just have a joy of sharing what you’ve learned with people and maintaining and contributing to that community that comes to you.
Gillian: I would completely agree with what you just said about how you might not have enough motivation to actually do the thing that you need to complete the project that you must complete in order to get that passive income off the ground and make it starts flowing in if you don’t have much motivation that you’re going to continue to work afterwards. I see that time and time again where people think that they want to create a course to start generating passive income or build a membership site. They have great ideas quite frankly, but they don’t have enough motivation to do those things. Enough motivation for the thing itself. They’re only interested in making money. Nothing wrong with being interested in making money as I told the story of my childhood. That was my like prime motivator there – the reason I was reading these books, the reason I was trying these different things. I was trying to figure out how to make money and that continued into my teens and into my early twenties until I finally found something that A, I really liked doing and B, was actually making me money. It took a lot of time and a lot of chasing that desire to make money, but it wasn’t until I found something that I liked in and of itself that I was able to turn it into a success.
Eric: In your case it sounds like the money was more of a metric than it was an end. You were doing the things that you were doing and saying, “are people willing to exchange a resource that they have in exchange for what I’m doing? Is there an alignment such that they’re willing to transfer something over to me?” The income just becomes a metric for that. That’s proof in the pudding. Now that you have it, you didn’t just peace out. Like, “thanks guys, see you later.” If you’re starting a project and you’re already trying to look for shortcuts, that’s a red flag, right? That’s a good sign the motivations in the wrong place.
Gillian: That is such a good way to put it. The money was just a metric for quite a long time I thought that what I really wanted was the money. I thought that was my motivator. I thought I was very motivated by making money. Not motivated by people’s reaction or by the benefits that I was getting from working with the clients, or the joy I was experiencing from work. I thought that it was the money that I wanted. I just wanted to get the money in a good way because I had good motives or I had a good character that was driving this desire. I wanted to do good things with the money, but especially as the money started to finally come I realized it was not the motivator at all. I wanted some things that money can buy. I wanted the flexibility and that freedom. I wanted to live in a nice environment and things like that. I wanted the security that money brings, but the money itself – now that I have enough – I actually have two work so hard to find other metrics to measure my success by because I’m not motivated by money.
Eric: That’s great and a nice place to be for you. I believe too that being in a position like that is a reward for the approach you’ve taken. You’ve continued in your adult life to try these different things. I think it would be valuable to go through some of them – the different strategies that you’ve tried to get to the point where you’re making the income to support the lifestyle you wanted. I wish I had some sound effects, like from Family Feud or something. “Okay let’s do the lightning round.” Let’s go through these pretty quickly and if you just want to talk about your experience with the vehicle and say what worked, and what didn’t. One thing you tried was a paperback book.
Gillian: I did. I wrote a paperback book about two and a half years ago now. It’s called Sorted Freedom Through Structure. It’s a book that talks about how to organize your life both in terms of your schedule and in terms of your house, to have more freedom and more flexibility. You would think that being a more organized and being more structured might feel stiff, awkward and restrict you from doing things you want, but really it can get you a lot of flexibility and freedom to have the opportunity to focus on those things that are truly important to you in life. You didn’t ask for a synopsis of the book, but I wrote this book is about. It did really well actually. Initially much better than I thought it would do. I had absolutely no network at that time – a small group of friends. I’m an introvert myself so I don’t have a large group of friends. I have no family. It’s my mom, my dad, my brother and me. We have no extended family whatsoever. I really wasn’t expecting it to do well at all, but just sharing it in a few Facebook Groups, using a strategy for marketing it on Amazon and getting it to rank well on Amazon, I managed to sell about 10,000 copies in the first week which, completely blew my mind. Not expecting that and it went on to sell several more thousand copies over the following month or so. Massive success there, but how much money did it make? Not all that much. You earn about $5 per copy that sells, but how we were able to get a lot of those the initial sales was by putting the book on an extreme sale. Which was great for getting that exposure out there, for helping it to get some momentum so that we could continue to make sales in the future and for getting it many more people’s hands – did a lot for me for growing my platform, but in terms of earning passive income, I didn’t make very much money. Would I recommend it? Yes. Really, I truly would because it taught me so much and it helped me grow my platform. It helped me develop a lot of expertise and be seen as an expert in the industry, but it’s not going to pay the bills.
Eric: Then from there, I don’t know if it was directly after, but the next thing you tried was the eBook route.
Gillian: Yeah. It was directly related to that. I’ve published several other eBooks on my own website, but I published the e-book version of Sorted, my paper paperback book on Amazon, at the same time. It was great pairing because it’s much easier to discount of the e-book which can help your paperback book to ranked better. They work hand-in-hand. The e-book earns a similar amount of money as the paperback does. The paperback gives the e-book a lot more credibility. People see it as a real book when there’s paperback version. You make about the same amount of money with either one though and there’s a lot of competition in both spheres.
Eric: Ok. Next thing – a completely different area is you tried rental properties.
Gillian: Yes, I did. This is actually quite the quite the tale. It started back in high school and I don’t know if you’ve ever tried to buy a house as a high-schooler. Tried that for a minute. Not worth the effort there or maybe it was, but I didn’t have the perseverance for that one. What I discovered that was even if I couldn’t get a large bank loan and buy real estate – true real estate- what I could do was buy manufactured homes. Not buying the lot, I’m just buying a house that is sitting in a mobile home park. In retrospect I have no idea why this occurred to me as a way to make money, but it did. I knew someone who was doing it and I just asked him, “what are you doing?” I saw he was making some money and I was trying everything. We started doing that. I had saved a few thousand dollars because I was running a service business. I was teaching piano lessons and flute. I saved a few thousand dollars doing that. We started buying these mobile homes and we would buy them and in theory what would happen is we would fix them – repair them – and then we would sell them on payments. We would be financing, essentially, we were being the bank. What actually happened was that people wanted to buy them regardless of whether we fixed them. Just the fact that we are financing them made them much more appealing. I did that for a couple years where we bought about six of them over a period of about two years. We would buy them for a few thousand dollars and then sell them for about twice as much, but financed. Quite an interesting little project. In and of itself I wouldn’t exactly recommended it just because there was a lot of challenges that came along with it, but it did one very good thing. It gave me a very easy way to step into the world of real estate without the intimidation that would come with the much larger risks associated with a much more expensive property. After we do that for a couple years, my husband and I bought a triplex. It’s three rentals attached together like, three townhomes. We got a really good deal on it unbeknownst to us to be completely honest. I didn’t realize what a good deal it was until we had purchased it. Oh there are so many stories that could be told just with that. Everything anyone says about the challenges that can come with being a landlord, they are true, but I would still would recommend being a landlord. We own that property for about three years and we had a few different tenants come and go. For the most part they are pretty good and we made a few hundred dollars every month. For most of that time we chose to actually live in one of the units. The rental payments from the two other tenants more than paid the mortgage. We had free housing for three years. It was a really nice way to be able to save money that we weren’t spending on housing. It allowed me to reinvest into my business which is one of the great things about passive income as I’m sure you know. It allows you to build momentum because you’re not having to work for every penny that earn. Normally you have some extra money coming in. More than you could just earn in your standard 40-hour work week and you can then reinvest that money back into your business. That’s what the rental really allowed us to do.
Eric: At some point you got into online courses?
Gillian: Yes. I started trying to sell online courses right about six years ago. In retrospect I wish I’d realized that I was an early adopter on that. Certainly, there were people selling online courses before that, but I assumed that lots of people were selling them – that this was old news and only now do I realize that O was kind of at the forefront of online courses becoming a popular thing. I wish I’d known what the advantage was there then because I had no clue. I started trying to sell online courses and I had, like I said, absolutely no audience. I made my first course and it was a pretty fine course actually. Even just looking back on it, the quality of it was pretty good, but I have no one to sell it to. I was trying to “build” my online business and I was doing everything except actually attract customers. I wasted a lot of time, spinning my wheels, working on my business without actually making any progress there, but when it finally did take off – coincidentally, not coincidentally, was when I focused on building my audience. Then focused on delivering to them what they were asking me for. Then it became a really good source of passive income and probably one of the most passive aspects of my business to this day. Those courses, unlike a membership site which, we’re going to talk about in a minute here, they don’t require ongoing support aside from a small amount of customer support – if people want a refund or something like that. For the most part, we’re selling self-paced courses that don’t come with that added support benefit. Obviously, it gives the students a lot of freedom to be able to work at their own pace and to not be paying the premium prices that would go along with paying for a mentor, coach or consultant. At the same time, allows it to be very much set it and forget it from our end as long as we have some sort of system for consistently driving leads to that funnel.
Eric: What was the monthly revenue that you ended up coming to with your coursework?
Gillian: At this point, we’re bringing in between five and ten thousand dollars from the courses. That’s about a quarter of our business revenue. Right now, we’re in the process of really overhauling are funnels. We’re moving from a very simple sales funnel strategy to something that’s much more complex. We’ve brought in a lot more help and support to enable us to do that in a really strategic way. We’re anticipating that over the next six to twelve months here for the revenue from the core sales to go somewhere between five and ten times of what it is right now.
Eric: That’s a lot more nuanced of course, but you’re getting more leads to it. You’re getting more eyes on it. You’re having more efficient ways of converting those leads into buyers.
Gillian: Mostly more efficient ways of converting them because YouTube and blog traffic, those things are really fueling the fire. There just isn’t enough wood for the fire to burn right now. We’re dumping gasoline on this fire and there just isn’t even enough for the fire to eat up. We’re really missing out on a lot of customers that we could be closing. We have products to sell them and we have lots of leads, but we’re not converting them at the rate that we want to convert them at.
Eric: Now we get to the membership site. At this point, according to some people’s understanding what, you’re already talking about is a membership site, like selling courses. A lot of people come to MemberMouse, they want to sell a course. They end up basically just doing that and that’s what they call a membership site. Somewhere you can access content, but your definition, and also other people’s definition, is different. Let’s first say what do you consider the difference between a membership site and what you call online courses?
Gillian: Truly the difference in my mind is just the pay structure. Membership sites are sold on a subscription basis. Someone is becoming a member by subscribing to the site. They are paying every single month where a course is either a one-time purchase, or else they’re paying payments that are going to come to an end at some point in time. Maybe it’s three payments of $333 to equal a total of $1,000. That’s the main difference that I see. The content that we offer in our membership site is very similar to an online course except that we’re adding new content to it every single month.
Eric: Was there a point in time where you consciously made the jump, the switch between doing the online course model where you’re selling a one-time purchase item or a limited number of payments item to the subscription process? When did you first come across this concept?
Gillian: I’m not exactly sure when I first came across the concept. I feel like it was fairly early on when I was reading a lot of books, about five to six years ago, about how to make money online. One of them was the 4-Hour Work Week. Maybe membership sites were mentioned in there as a possible way to make money online. I’m not really sure, but sometime right around then. I was introduced Pat Flynn and Smart Passive Income. At some point in there I got this idea. I remember thinking that it was a really interesting idea. It sounded like the best way to make passive income, but I immediately realized that there is a certain problem with meeting that critical mass to actually get your membership site off the ground. I think at the point when I started seriously considering it, I had already created my first online course and I saw how difficult it was to make sales off the course. I just thought creating a membership site would be a lot more work even than that. I’m not sure if I would be able to get anyone to join it. It’s been sitting on the back burner for a long time, thinking about it over and over again – what the membership site could include and what the main value of it would be beyond the features. What is the main benefit of it? What would set it apart from other membership sites? Over the past several years I’ve joined other people’s membership sites. Really just to snoop I would say. Find out what they were doing in there. What was working, what wasn’t and learning some things along the way. Unlike many other things in my life that I dabbled in and then tried, then tried again and kept trying until they worked – membership site I kept watching, kept thinking about and waited until I finally had an idea that I was sure was going to work. At a certain point, when I realized that not only had I been wanting to start a membership site for years, but I also saw that we had developed this strange problem with her audience. I say strange, it seemed strange to me, I wonder though if many people have this problem which is that we had to find a target customer. Then we had to try to market to this customer. We hadn’t done the best job that we could have done. After months and months of marketing what we had was a lot of people who weren’t quite the right people to buy the service that we were selling to them because that’s exactly what we were selling. We were selling higher-priced services and the people who attracted were people who were interested in that benefit that we were promising, but they did not have the budget for a high-priced service. These were people who had a strong motivation but, the product was just a poor fit for them. At that point we had one of two options. We could either regroup and start tracking a new group of people, or we could take advantage of the people who we already had the attention of and offer them a new product that would be better fit for their situation – what they actually needed. In looking at our options it really seemed like it made a lot more sense to take advantage of this opportunity that was before us now instead of trying to start over from scratch. That was when I realized that starting a membership site really would be the answer to the problem. We needed something that would be affordable them and at the same time worth our time and effort upgrading it, i.e. able to generate a significant amount of income. A membership site seems like it really fit the bill. Right about one year ago, a little more than one year ago, we finally launched the site. Of course, we spent maybe three to six months before that building the site. It was a relatively easy process once we figured out what tools we wanted to use and created the content. We create a lot of content in my business, so that part wasn’t too challenging for us. Although, I know that it is a big hurdle that a lot of people face if they’re not already in content generation mode. Because there had been so much preparation done before this, because I’ve invested so much time over the past few years building my audience, once we finally decided to do this it was a hole-in-one. We managed to sign up 300 members in our first membership window – when we were accepting new members.
Eric: So, you’re doing an open-closed model?
Gillian: We have been doing up until this point and we are planning to do that up until our upcoming summer launch. We’re going to be opening the doors again in July. At that point, we’re going to open the doors and try an evergreen model instead. We’ll see how that goes.
Eric: Great. Before we move onto other things. There’s a lot in what you just said from my perspective. One of the key things that I always like to remind people, especially if they want to do this is. You can’t come at building membership site like going to the store and buying something off the shelf. You have to understand even with the experiences that you had, the fact that you were coming in with some skills, you’re not starting from scratch, you still had a three to six month build. I would say that that’s pretty average for people. You’re not building some cookie cutter thing and you have to invest in the container that you think is going to take you where you want to go. That takes time and effort.
Gillian: Yes, absolutely. I made a video a few months ago and I was talking about passive income in different ways to generate passive income. I made an analogy relating it to when I make YouTube videos. Obviously, everyone who is listening to this has watched a YouTube video at some point in time. When you watch someone in a YouTube video it can be very deceptive how much work it was to create that video. Sometimes you see there’s a lot going on, this is full-on cinematic, clearly a lot of effort was put into this, but most of the time you see someone sitting on their couch talking to their camera. You think, “man I could do that.”
Eric: “I do that all the time!”
Gillian: “I do that all the time. They have so many subscribers and they’re getting so many views. I know they’re making money because of this. Why don’t I do this? It looks so easy!” In reality, not to say that this is the hardest job in the world, it isn’t by any means. It’s something I really enjoy and is relatively easy, but it still takes a lot of time. On the days when I film in YouTube videos, I have to wake up extra early. As a female I got to put on my makeup, do my hair, write the script for the video, I have to do some research for the video, I have to tidy up my office, I have to set up all the lights and the camera. Then I sit down right at my desk and I talk on the camera for probably 30 minutes if the video is going to be 10 minutes long. I want it to be perfect so I say everything about three times. Then I turn off the camera and I think it’s done there, it’s not because we still have all the editing and post-production. Then we want to create all the other assets to go along with it like creating the thumbnail. I could go on, but obviously the point is that it’s not just those 15 minutes sitting down and talking to the camera. It can look so easy from the outside in a membership site is exactly like that.
Eric: Same thing, yeah. There’s nothing wrong with that. The challenge is that people have unrealistic expectations which makes them quit at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. There’s legitimate reasons why one should turn around and say this isn’t right for me, but I see a lot of time the reasons why people are bailing is because they have unrealistic expectations, which is an easy one to address. This is why I’m doing the podcast. This is why I do live office hours for our customers every week is because have a product. What I’ve seen in our stats is that people don’t stick with it, and what I’ve also seen doing these podcasts and doing the office hours. People say I have this problem running into the challenge and I’m pretty much saying “don’t worry, it’s okay you’re going to make it.” It’s a nuance. The best thing we can all do if you want to create something is understand that it’s a process and give ourselves time to do it. Easy come, easy go. If you can build something overnight, it’s likely it’s not going to be what you think it’s going to be and it’s not going to stand the test of time.
Gillian: Yeah, that is true. It’s so important to anyone who wants to create a membership site that they steel themselves against that before they even start. Go into it optimistically, expect to create something great, plan to create something great, but also expect it to take a lot of work. While membership sites have the potential to make really significant income, there is only that opportunity because relatively few people built them. That’s because it does take so much effort not only to create the content, but obviously also to set up the site and more than anything else – really to attract the right people who want to become members of your site.
Eric: And, you know Gillian, it’s actually not that much effort. It is and it isn’t. There were times in my career in set starting this business where I was working 70-80 hours a week. For a long time working multiple jobs, stuff like that, but if you look at it all it takes, what’s more important than the effort is consistency. If you chunk it down and you do something every day, or every weekend and you hold yourself to it – something will happen. It doesn’t need to be crazy. If you’re focused, we can all do amazing things in a few hours.
Gillian: Yes, I completely agree. Let me share a couple things with you. First of all, how many hours are we actually working? When I say this is hard work, I really do mean we need to put in the effort and we need to put it in consistently. I don’t mean we need to work 60, 70, 80 hours a week. Sometimes if that’s necessary, when you’re first starting a business or launching a new product perhaps. On a weekly basis I’m working 25-30 hours a week. Far less than many people work for far less money. The second thing is you mentioned is that it’s all inconsistency. This is a conversation I have with my audience all the time – consistency vs. quality. What’s more important? A lot of the time what my audience is talking about is when we’re creating YouTube videos – what’s more important? To create more YouTube videos more consistently, or to create better YouTube videos? I have a strong belief that consistency is what matters in terms of effort. Consistency of effort.
Eric: And consistency will result in quality.
Gillian: Yes, so much! Consistency and effort and then through that consistent effort, we’re able to produce quality because in terms of production quality is what matters. It doesn’t matter how consistent you are putting videos on YouTube are posting on Instagram if it’s not quality content, but the only way to produce that quality content is by putting in that consistent effort.
Eric: Exactly. Chicken and the egg. You can’t get past the learning phase. We all see the top of the mountain where we want to get and we see the people who we want to emulate, but you’re not going to do that on day one. They didn’t get there without making “mistakes” – they’re not really mistakes, just not the ideal in your mind’s eye on day one. You and I are in total agreement on this and I could you talk about this forever with you. If you put in front of somebody, “you could buy this rental property and make this much a month, you could start this membership site and make this much a month in recurring income,” nobody has a problem or an issue with the fact of what you can get out of it if you do it successfully, but nobody also thinks about it. When I own a rental property what’s it like to be a landlord? When I run a membership site, what’s the day to day? What am I doing, what’s involved in that? Now that you’ve had time to be in that position, what is it that you love about membership sites and what is challenging about them to you?
Gillian: What I love about membership sites – which is probably the easier question, I love creating content. I would say to anyone who doesn’t that they might want to think twice about creating a membership site because it normally involves creating a lot of content. Not always, there are some models that you could use to create the membership site that wouldn’t involve you personally creating a lot of content, but that’s something I really enjoy about it. I actually really enjoy engaging with the members. When you’re selling online courses, it can be a little bit of a black box sort of feeling where you have a thing that you made, people are buying it and you don’t really know why they’re buying it, or who is buying it which, can make it difficult to scale because you’re not sure how to find more of these people who are buying your course. Whereas with the membership site we’re talking to them on a daily or at least week basis. Really getting to know them, find out exactly why they joined and who they are. That makes it a lot easier to market the site in the future. Then I also love the flexibility that comes with a membership site, which might sound surprising because you do have to maintain the membership site of course, but I just find that I have so much flexibility on a daily basis. I still have work I need to do, but it can all be done in part of the month and I can take the rest of the month off, or it can be done in the mornings and I can take the rest of the day off. Even though I put in plenty of hours of work, just that flexibility and that control over my own schedule is the thing that really makes me feel happy with my life and like I can live my life how I want to live my life. Then as far as things that I don’t like. To be completely honest, I don’t love that I have to continue to put out content simply because that’s something that’s always going to be on my calendar. However, I am a firm believer that there’s always solutions to challenges or problems. We are looking at some alternative ways where we can be complementing the content that I’ve already created with content from guest experts. I’ve also been working on building out my team a lot. We hired a content manager and a project manager. People who can take over the running of the site which of course doesn’t mean that I can’t continue to interact with the members and love on the members and create content for the members as much as I want to. Personally, I find that I want to do those things so much more when I don’t have to do them, but it does take me out of that pivotal role of the business where I have to show up time and time again.
Eric: I share that experience with you in the role that I play. One perspective that I can take on it is the challenges that the business present to us sometimes are simply guidance to where our next destination is. Specifically, what that looks like in terms of what you’re talking about is there was a period of time where I was a software engineer for MemberMouse. I was building the software. That’s what I enjoy. That’s my comfort zone. At some point I was told, in one form or another, not by a person, but by circumstance, that I needed to play other roles. You have to replace yourself because if you we’re going to grow this thing, then there needs to be other people involved. You need to share your knowledge in a way where people can do what you do. There’s a lot of valuable lessons in that for me personally, in letting go of ego, allowing other people to shine. Then building a community that’s closer. We’re building membership sites with customers, but then our team becomes a community too. Then that’s another level of relationship and it just adds a lot of dimensionality to this this journey that you’ve gone on. You’re being propelled forward in a sense. You’re at the forefront because people are following you as the leader. Where you go ends up being less about where you are choosing to go but more about listening to what the people you gather around you are asking for.
Gillian: With this and all the ventures that I have tried in the past, it really has been such a learning experience. As you mentioned a few minutes ago, they’re not exactly problems that we’re running into or mistakes perhaps. They’re not so much mistakes, they’re simply things that we need to learn how to overcome. Circumstances that we have to learn how to overcome – learning experiences. That’s exactly what I found with a membership site. Even though we did launch very successfully with 300 members right out of the gate, that didn’t mean that it was an instant success and that it was all sundrop and … I am terrible with expressions. Sundrops and rainbows? Rainbows and ponies? I don’t know what the expression is here.
Eric: I love your expressions.
Gillian: My expressions are great because they’re all original. I don’t remember expressions. It wasn’t all perfect from there on out. We had to figure out how to serve the members better over time. That meant that we lost members in the process, but we can only be thankful for those members that we lost because of what we learned from them. That’s something I really enjoyed about running a membership site myself. The fact that I constantly get feedback so that we can constantly improve.
Eric: One of the things that I really love about membership sites and the subscription model is that everybody’s coming to the table with the same agreement: I want to be in a relationship with you and you want to be in relationship with me. Here’s my money to show that I’m with you and I’m doing the recurring thing. Then from your side of things, your focus naturally gets placed on serving those people who are there. As opposed to a one-time purchase product, in order to keep the same revenues each month you need new people. Naturally even if you don’t want to, you have to put your focus on getting new people, which means you’re not going to have as much time for the people who already said they wanted to be. That’s why I really love the subscription model.
Gillian: I completely agree with that. It’s interesting. I actually hadn’t really thought of that. I just thought, isn’t it smart of software companies to be switching to more of the ‘software as a service’ model. That makes them so much more money. How intelligent of them. For me as a consumer, not so great, but “oh well. Good for them at least for figuring out this better business model.” Until, maybe last year or a little bit longer ago we were shopping for a shopping cart software for our courses. We were looking at a bunch of them including DriveCart and SamCart and several others. We noticed that some of them were one-time purchase and many of them were subscription model. As a business we are looking at the revenue and the expensive side of things thinking, it probably makes more sense to just buy this outright. We will save a lot of money. Until I happened to read on a forum where people are reviewing these. One of these software options was being sold as a one-time purchase instead of a subscription. This person who commented on the forum didn’t feel like they were taking care of their customers. They didn’t feel like the company had that obligation to take care of their customers in the same way. This person said that they would rather pay the subscription fee so they could get that ongoing support. I had never even thought about that, but ever since then I have noticed there’s so much across different companies that I have engaged with and different products that I have bought. The products where I have a membership or I’m hanging subscription fee, I noticed that the customer service is much better. I’m getting such a better support as a customer. Really, it’s like we’re being forced to buy a support package, which could be seen as a negative. Someone especially who is purchasing these products, investing my money. I’m actually so thankful and excited to purchase that support package so that I can get the biggest, best results from these products that I possibly can.
Eric: Also, it gives more stability to the business you’re working with because there’s a much better sense that they’ll be around. We’re not in brick-and-mortar days. When we’re building our business and choosing the tools that we want to run it. If one of those fails, that could significantly impact our business.
Gillian: Oh yes. Oh, the joys of running an online business. You click one button wrong, one service goes down. Yeah
Eric: Yeah. As a business owner that’s why I really appreciate it. I’m not a marketer. I like to create solutions. Having a subscription allows me to work with – a smaller group probably than it would be if it was one-time purchase, but that ultimately that smaller group is more engaged than those other people I want to work with. The ones that want to have the conversation.
Gillian: You know, I don’t think – sorry to contradict you – I don’t think it is a smaller group because I was at a Digital Marketer Summit a couple months back and they were talking about the concept of ‘happy customers don’t refer, successful customers refer.’ By providing a service, a software or any sort of product through that subscription model and giving them better support, because the business is more stable, because we have that commitment to them, because we want them to keep paying us. We give them such a higher level of service than we ever would be compelled to otherwise. Even if we really wanted to see if people succeed otherwise, we wouldn’t have that specific metric that would be compelling us to do so. That means we’re serving our customers much better. Helping them become much more successful, which means we ultimately are going to get that much more word-of-mouth marketing from these customers and profiting more in the process.
Eric: Going back to the expectation thing – the fact that your target was 300 members is really nice. Often times people come up with these crazy numbers about what it’s going to take to get to a point where the site and the business can actually be viable. They may say, “I need 5,000 people, how am I ever going to get this?” 300, there’s a lot of impact in how you got there. How did you approach getting to that number?
Gillian: Let me just first say that the number wasn’t 300, it was 100. We said if we get 100 members this will be a success, it will more than pay our expenses, it will be a viable test of this membership site and it will give us that core group that we need to be able to use them as our guinea pigs – essentially as a beta group to figure out how we can help them the very best. What we do to change so that in the future we can market this even better. Now back to your question, how did we approach getting those 300 members? For me, it was all about building up my email list – obviously I’m not the only person who says this. but it’s all about building up an email list leading up to the launch. We were putting out high-quality, free content. Obviously, some people choose to use paid traffic and other people are mostly focused on organic. I have used both in the past, but I found more and more that I liked the challenge of using only free content. Not just for the personal challenge, but because it really compelled me to focus on the quality of the content. Creating share-worthy content that was so good, it got people talking. If I was relying on paid traffic – when I was relying on paid traffic – I was always coming back around and thinking, maybe the ad manager just isn’t doing a good enough job. Maybe we need to work on our targeting a little bit better. We need to optimize those click-through rates, things like that and missing the core of the issue which was we need to work on clarifying our message. We need to create content that actually gets people’s interest and causes people to engage and share it. It needs to be that good if we want the content to also compel people to buy because of it. For the past, at least year-and-a-half here, we’ve relied solely on organic traffic and it’s a decision that I’m really happy with. Not to say that we will never use paid traffic in the future, especially once we got these new funnels completely built out, up and running, then we might decide we’re ready for even more fuel on his fire. So, strategy for getting those 300 members. We focused on creating the best quality content that we could, unless anyone who is listening be confused thinking that I run a professional production company and have a full video production crew, go watch my YouTube videos. They’re mostly me sitting in my office with a camera.
Eric: And, a cup of coffee
Gillian: And, a cup of coffee and honestly some lights that I bought at Walmart because they work. This isn’t an expensive operation. This isn’t something that anyone who is listening to this probably can’t do on their own, especially if you already have a smartphone. Most smartphones these days have perfectly fine cameras in them. Then as you get momentum, as you’re creating results for yourself, of course you will turn around and reinvest into your business, create even better quality content. I just don’t want anyone to think, Gillian has the resources to create high-quality content, but I don’t. High quality content is primarily content that is on topics people are interested in and is interesting content. Content that catches people’s attention which can be done…
Eric: Which isn’t about production.
Gillian: It isn’t about production quality. A couple weeks ago, maybe about two weeks ago, YouTube suggested to me a video called ‘I DIY’d My Vacation Wardrobe.’ I looked at this video and I thought, why is YouTube suggesting this video to me? I do not watch videos about DIYs. I do not watch videos about wardrobes. The thumbnail is a terrible, like terrible terrible smashed-up collage of all these off-color pictures. It reads: includes alligator encounters. I looked at this thumbnail and I looked at this video and I thought, why in the world is YouTube recommending this video? The video had something like 1.2 million views. I finally clicked on it. I couldn’t even explain why I clicked out of it, but I was like, I got to see what’s up. So, I watched this video and I sat mesmerized for 13 minutes and 32 seconds. First of all, this video, terrible production quality, like the worst production quality. She was shooting it on her phone and I don’t think she even had a very good camera on her phone at all. The coloring was all off. The audio did not sound great, but the entertainment value of this video was so good. Her timing with her editing was so good. She was just cutting it at just the right points to make all of her jokes land in the perfect way. I sat there and this watched entire video then proceeded to message my entire team on Slack with the memo “watch this.” So, it killed all that productivity too. Then I showed it to my husband at dinner who watched the entire thing. Normally he’s like, “nice honey, whatever,” but no he watched the entire thing. Then a few days later I sent it to my entire email list of 40 something thousand people because it had entertained me. I thought it was such a good example of content that was not high production quality. It wasn’t even on a very useful helpful topic. In fact, she zoomed through the DIYs so fast that in her own words she said, “this probably won’t actually be useful to you,” but she brought value to my life because it was an interesting video. Now obviously when we’re creating videos for our business, normally we’re not relying solely on entertainment value. I don’t want anyone to think that I’m saying you have to be funny. If you watch my videos, I’m not funny, never. I’m not I’m not funny, but my audience enjoys my videos. I think that’s the key thing that we need to pay attention to, is the audience enjoying the video? Are you attracting the right people to watch the video? You’re making videos on topics and with concepts that they want to watch. Maybe that’s DIYs, probably for most businesses it’s educational videos, but it also might be inspirational videos, or any other sort of content. I completely lost my train of thought at this point.
Eric: How do you measure that? You say you want to you want to create videos that your audience wants to engage with. You’re at a certain point with your YouTube channel that’s probably not where a lot of people are at right now, but how can people – if they are putting a YouTube video up, how can they tell if people are engaging with that video, if it’s what people want and how can it guide them in terms of what they do next?
Gillian: Okay, earlier on you were talking about how much money was a metric that I was judging my success by. Metrics is something that I am very compelled by. Even though money isn’t my motivation, metrics I find very motivational. That is one of the reasons why I’ve been as successful on YouTube as I have been. YouTube provides exceptional metrics, better than any other platform that we publish on. The analytics that go along with the videos, the resources that YouTube gives you in terms of seeing how long people watch your videos for, when they stop watching, the click-through rate, and getting you information on the demographics of your audience. YouTube gives you all the tools in order to figure those things out without having to be tech savvy or without having to do calculations on your own. It’s all right there at your fingertips. The two metrics that I would encourage people to pay attention to if they are using YouTube -it almost goes without saying, but views. That’s telling you whether or not people are actually clicking on your video. This is whether or not they like your thumbnail. YouTube recently rolled out within the past few months here the metric of actually click-through rate which is really helpful. Prior to having access to knowing what people’s click-through-rate was if your video didn’t get very many views, you weren’t quite sure whether YouTube was serving it to a lot of people and they just weren’t clicking on it, which would be an indication that they didn’t like your thumbnail, or whether YouTube simply wasn’t serving it to people. Which could be in that there was indeed a number of other things wrong. Now we can see the click-through rate what that tells us and what we can learn from that is if YouTube only served it to 100 people or even less only 50 people, but 20% of the people clicked on it! For reference, 4% is the average like good click-through rate on YouTube. Anything over 4% and your thumb nail is on point, but then beyond that you didn’t get very many views. It only served it to 100 people. You got maybe 10 views. Not very many views, so why did YouTube not serve it to very many people? Well, if your click-through rate was good then really the only other reason is if people weren’t watching it for a very long time after they clicked on it. They start watching the video and then either the quality isn’t good enough, it’s boring or it wasn’t on the topic that they thought it would be on. It wasn’t the video they thought it was going to be based on the thumbnail and the title that you’d given it. The only metrics that YouTube really cares about, in terms of judging whether or not a video is good and whether it should try to recommend it to more people, is click-through rate and then watch time. Those are the two metrics that we really need to pay attention to. Obviously, there’s lots of other things that are influencing those metrics, many different variables, but those are the two metrics were really watching – not likes, not comments.
Eric: I’m sure you go into these things in-depth in different content you’re providing either in your membership site or on your YouTube channel or anywhere else, right?
Gillian: Absolutely. We give a lot away for free in our business. There are numerous videos on the channel right now about how to do keyword research to find trending topics for your videos, all sorts of things like that. Then we got much more into depth with the actual “how to” inside the course.
Eric: With all this content you’re creating, how do you determine what’s going to be free content and what’s actually going to be reserved for people are paying for membership?
Gillian: Anyone who runs a content business knows that there’s a fine line to walk here. It can be really challenging. Some people maybe navigate it more gracefully than others. It’s something that I certainly find challenging. I have a general rule of thumb that I always try to abide by and then I always just air on the side of giving more. I heard this quote years ago, that I believe I heard as a quote, but I’ve never been able to figure out who to attribute at to. The quote says, “an artist’s greatest enemy is anonymity – be anonymous.” If you want to create something, if you want to sell something, and by ‘artist’ that could be you’re an author, you’re a vlogger on YouTube, you’re a course creator, anything where you’re making something. If people don’t know you exist, that’s going to be your biggest problem. Once people know you exist whether or not you’re charging a little or a lot for what you’re selling, whether or not a little or a lot percentage of your audience is buying it, just having that audience there – having people know you exist – that’s the first step in to then being able to eventually earn revenue from it. How do I decide what should be free and what should be paid? Quite simply, the ‘what you should do,’ and ‘why you should do it,’ is the free. The ‘how to do it is’ the paid. I’m certainly not the first person who said that by any means. Basically, if I was to create content about starting a YouTube channel, what would go on my YouTube channel as free content? I would create a video called ‘Why You Should Create a YouTube Channel,’ or ‘Why You Shouldn’t Create a YouTube Channel.’ Play devil’s advocate there or ‘The Top Three Reasons I’m glad I started a YouTube Channel,’ or ‘How I Get My Views on YouTube,’ but I wouldn’t tell them exactly how to analyze their YouTube analytics or how to troubleshoot to figure out how to get more views. I’m telling them what they should do but I’m not explaining and especially not showing exactly how to do it.
Eric: That makes sense.
Gillian: Like I said, I do always err on the side of just giving more because I find that that is what really helps my audience grow as best as it can. Now that can create problems and challenges when creating the paid content making sure that it is enough better than the free content. That our customers are satisfied. Ultimately, that does cause me to have to do more work and dive in deeper to create paid products that people will be excited to buy and really satisfied with. We don’t want to just package the same thing that is being given away for free as a paid product because I’m obviously not going to have satisfied customers. It creates more work on our end, but ultimately, we get the best results doing that.
Eric: As we’re wrapping up here, is there anything that we haven’t talked about that that jumps to mind that you think would be worthwhile mentioning to an audience who may be solopreneurs, or at some level in the beginning stages of getting a membership site off the ground?
Gillian: Something I’ve been saying a lot recently is that it doesn’t matter how good your conversion rate is if you don’t have traffic. There’s so many people in the online space who talk a lot about the importance of building your email list and who talk about how to generate sales and it really just all has to start with having traffic in the first place. That means building your audience, or coming up with a good paid strategy. Whatever it is, so that there are people coming in to the top of your funnel. It doesn’t matter how good your conversion rate is if you don’t have traffic. If you’re trying to build your email list, might Google ‘how to build my email,’ or ‘how to get email subscribers.’ What you find is a lot of great blog articles telling you how to increase the conversion rate on your website, how to get more people who are on your website to opt into your email. They tell you how to create a great freebie, how to setup your email form or maybe turn your website homepage upside down so that it starts with your opt in form. All sorts of great strategies, but if you have three people visiting your website for a week it doesn’t matter if your opt-in rate is 100%. Your email list is going to grow really slowly.
Eric: That’s a really good point. I definitely made that mistake for many years at MemberMouse. My comfort zone was being a software guy and creating the product. Now, here’s a problem that you can help me with. I sell membership software. It’s really good membership software. We have thousands of people using it. Thousands of people coming to us every month to start using it. Here is a problem. 50% of those people or either going to do nothing – pay us for a few months and then quit, or they’re going to do something, meet some obstacle and leave as a result of that. You are a powerhouse of energy with tons of information that helps people in this exact stage to get to the point where they actually are utilizing a product like MemberMouse. It’s not all about the software. This is something I’ve had to come to admit. It’s not all about me. We provide the tool. We provide the car, but if you don’t get in and drive the car anywhere, it doesn’t matter if it’s the best car in the world. I see so many people across our customer base who are meeting all these different kinds of challenges. Where are the places and resources that they can go to find out more and learn more from you?
Gillian: The number one place would certainly be my YouTube channel because that is where we do give away the most of our free content. They can find that at youtube.com/gillianperkins online, or they can simply search ‘Gillian Perkins’ on YouTube. Once they’re on the channel, something that not people realize is that there are search bars on YouTube channels. Any topic that you’re interested in, just utilize that search bar to figure out – maybe you want to learn more about a membership site or about starting a YouTube channel. I do think that that education component is really the most important piece. Whenever you’re starting any sort of a new venture, especially something that’s a little bit more involved like a membership site. As we talked about, I have tried many random little things, as a kid, as a teenager and as a young adults. Most of them failed and most of the time it was because I’d gone into them with very little knowledge about what I was trying to do. The first thing that I would say that I did that was really successful, not just be got by, but it was a really successful was the YouTube channel which we started about two years. It took off almost from day one. Within the first month or two we started doubling our subscribers every single month. The reason was because even though I started the YouTube channel two years ago, I had spent two years before that researching and planning and being a student of YouTube as a platform. Studying the algorithm, studying other people’s channels, other people’s content so that I can learn as much if I possibly could before I even made my first video. I knew that it was a very competitive space. Membership sites, they’re not very competitive in the grand scheme of things at all, but they are very challenging on a personal level. You have to have that consistent effort. If you don’t have about long-range vision of what you’re trying to create and some idea of the obstacles, you’re going to run into them and what you’re going to do when you run into those obstacles you can quickly become discouraged. You will be one of MemberMouse’s failed customers.
Eric: Our stats reflect the stats that people share about the success likelihood of a business. Nine out of ten businesses fail. That’s all we’re seeing in the stats. People leave the path for a number of different reasons. Someone like you with a personality where you this ability to be a trailblazer. You’ll go into things and try things. Not everybody’s going to do that and that’s okay because the benefit is your running a membership site. You’re sharing the lessons that you’ve learned from these things. You’re not the only one doing this, but this is a benefit of people like you. You have a proclivity to have that energy and enthusiasm to try a lot of things. Not everybody does, nor do they have the time. It is really important to learn the lessons. but when you can learn from someone who’s tried a lot of things, you can skip a lot of the things that you had to go through.
Eric: It’s well worth it. It’s a no-brainer really if you want to do something.
Gillian: Something I would just emphasize is the reason why I started taking action with so many different things, so early on – especially taking action on them before I had the knowledge or the training that I needed. I definitely didn’t have anyone who taught me how to do all these things. It stemmed from fear. I saw so many people in my life who I was not inspired by, who had dreams and for some reason, halfway through their life, had not taken a step to pursue them. That really scared me. As soon as I was legally able to start doing anything in the realm of business, I just jumped on it. I thought even at the time, this will probably fail. To be completely honest if failed, many of my ventures failed much less – they fail as much as I thought they would. When I first bought that first mobile home I thought, I’m probably going to lose all this money. When I created my first online course I thought, nobody is going to buy this, I’m going to waste all this time. Yes, it did take a while to sell that first mobile home and it did take a while to get my first student inside my course, but ultimately both those things went on to make me money and not lose money – which I was expecting the first time to be a failure. I was just afraid of putting it off, and putting it off and never taking that first. I would issue a challenge anyone who’s listening to this right now to jump before you’re ready. To take action whether you know everything or not. Become a student and learn as much as you can. Head over to YouTube, watch the videos about my membership site or about how to start a YouTube channel. Whatever it is you want to do, that knowledge is there, but don’t put off taking action until you have all the answers. A, you never will and B, it’s better to start taking action now and learn as you go. There’s so much to be learned from experience.
Eric: 100% agree. I will add to that that the other reason to take action and take steps is one of the things that happens as you gain experience and move forward is you learn to ask better questions and more refined questions. When you’re getting started, you just have no basis on which to even formulate a question other than, let me jump in the water and see what happens. That leap is essential. If you’re not making the leap, you’re not moving forward. It just has to be done.
Gillian: That is so true. Let me just give up real quick example of that. For a few years I was trying to build my business. I was studying so many different things. I was spending the 40 plus hours a week working on my business and most of that was learning. I was reading books. I was taking online courses trying to figure out how to make my business be successful. It just wasn’t working. I had no idea why because I was investing so much time and energy both into the working on it and also the learning. I felt like I was doing everything right. It wasn’t until someone mentioned to me – I finally happened to hear that I needed traffic. I needed to build an audience. If I didn’t have an audience, I couldn’t make sales. Suddenly that clicked and I realized that was the question that I had never been asking. Specifically, the question was how do I get traffic or how do I build an audience? How do I get people to join my email list? I wasn’t asking those questions because I didn’t realize that that was what I was missing. It’s not until you start taking action that you can discover what your missing and then you can start asking better and better questions. Through that process, find the answers. Answers that otherwise, without taking that action initially, you wouldn’t even know to look for.
Eric: Truth bomb. Awesome, well thank you so much for taking the time to join me and have this discussion. It was really great chatting with you. So, people know do you mind just sharing your website and your YouTube channel so people know where to find you?
Gillian: It’s youtube.com/gillianperkinsonline or you can just search ‘Gillian Perkins’ on YouTube. My website is just gillianperkins.com
Eric: Thank you again Gillian. Really appreciate you taking the time.
Gillian: Absolutely. Thank you so much for having me.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki
- The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss
- Sorted: Freedom Through Structure by Gillian Perkins
Thanks For Listening!
We hope you enjoyed our in-depth discussion with Gillian about online business, passive income, and membership sites. We’d like to extend our sincere thanks to Gillian for coming on the show and to you for listening. We’d love to hear any questions, comments, or feedback you have about this episode. Join our discussion and leave us a comment below!