In the latest of our Podcast interview series, I chat with Kate Erickson. She is the content creator of the Entrepreneur On Fire blog and the ‘better half’ of John Lee Dumas in business and life.
We chat about the challenges of developing an online business and yourself, as well as their new project.
Together, John Lee Dumas and Kate have produced ‘The Freedom Journal’. This aims to help everyone reach their own potential and turn their dream into reality while raising money for the Pencils Of Promise charity.
Kate herself knows how difficult it is to be an internet entrepreneur, so the knowledge she has to share is invaluable.
She became a part of EOFire in 2013 after a number of years learning the tricks of the trade and writing for other people.
But before this, Kate wanted to be a college professor. She has many lessons to teach, so pull up a chair and pay attention.
Find Out Who Your Perfect Customer Is
Early on in any online business, you need to make a decision about who your avatar is.
And no, they don’t have to be blue or a crude likeness you made of yourself when designing your character in a game.
This is your target audience – the perfect customer. The person all your content gets produced for.
Entrepreneur On Fire has Jimmy as their avatar. And they know exactly what he wants.
It enables them to ensure that everything they do is to provide him with everything he needs. They know what he struggles with, what he aspires to be, and how he wants to consume their content.
Your “Jimmy” can be one person or an amalgamation of people. You need to find out who they are, and then begin to know them intimately.
You could do this by asking your customers a few questions, or just having a chat with the one person you have in mind when you produce your content. Once you do know them you can nurture them, and then will help grow your business.
But over time, this person is likely to change, so ensure that your avatar alters accordingly. Kate admits that in her first business, she didn’t have a strong avatar, and as a result she struggled to make it a success. So it highlights just how important it is.
Discover What Your Niche Is
Now that you know who you’re writing for, and what they desire and detest, you can tailor your content to please them.
This can then become your niche. Let’s go back to EOFire’s Jimmy. He wants to learn a wealth of knowledge but perhaps doesn’t have the time to sit and read.
However, he would like to take full advantage of the time he takes traveling to and from work, 5 days a week.
So, they produce a podcast that gets released every day of the working week, and Jimmy can listen to it as he drives to or from work.
You can download and listen to the Marketing for Owners podcast as well!
They have fulfilled the need of their customers while creating one of their main selling points. It may only be a part of their business, but it’s an important part which has had a role in them becoming a success.
In fact, John and Kate give a fully transparent view of their EOFire business finances and income and, in 2015, hit nearly $4 million in revenue and cleared just under $3 million in profit.
Develop Your Voice
Being a good writer does not instantly guarantee success. There are many instances of great writers never making it and lousy writers triumphing.
As a graduate with an English degree, Kate Erickson is quite obviously a brilliant writer. But success didn’t come easy.
Having spent years producing scholarly writing, that was her natural writing style. However, that didn’t convert into readers and customers.
There are many different styles of writing, and it can take the time to work out which one is correct. But again, having a well-developed avatar for your business will allow you to know what the best option is.
Kate says that this was a huge learning curve for her. She has found that a natural, conversational writing style works (just like we do too).
It is what people want to read as it is generally more engaging and entertaining.
The key is to teach people something new in every article, but in such a way that it doesn’t feel like learning.
Prepare To Admit When You May Be Wrong
No-one likes admitting when they’re wrong. But doing so is the first step towards resolving the issues and becoming better.
And particularly, no-one likes admitting they’re not good at doing something they thought they were great at.
An example of Kate doing this herself is the realization that her writing style was the problem. However, it is that experience, and that process, which has helped her to achieve her goals of becoming a successful blogger (and then some).
Although it isn’t a nice undertaking, it can end up being the best and most important thing to help your business grow.
Don’t Be Afraid Of Trying Something New
It can be all too easy to get comfortable, especially if what you’re doing is successful and working well for you.
But even if you’re currently ahead of the curve, if you stop still for a moment, then all your competitors could quite easily overtake you.
And you’re the one left behind and having to play catch-up.
So trying something new gives you the opportunity to find a new way of reaching your customers, and a new way of finding success. Even if it’s out of your comfort zone.
I’ve been dabbling a bit in Periscope to reach new readers.
It’s brilliant if it works. And should it not work? Well, it’s not the end of the world. But find out why it didn’t work, because you could learn some important lessons to help your next project.
EOFire is currently in the process of trying something new themselves. Kate and John have launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new book ‘The Freedom Journal’.
But book publishing and Kickstarter campaigns are both new experiences, and Kate admits they knew nothing about either.
Never Stop Learning
On the road to becoming a successful entrepreneur with a business you can be proud of, you’re going to learn a lot of things. In fact, you should never stop learning.
As a result of producing their first physical product, the EOFire team have had to learn a lot of new things.
One of them is how they market an actual thing, as opposed to a podcast, blog or online community. But when you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to signal for help. It’s not a sign of weakness, but rather an acceptance that you just can’t do everything yourself, or that others can do it better.
For their new project, the team now consist of proven experts on book publishing and Kickstarter campaigns. In 2014, John took on Lewis Howes as a mentor.
It is with his help that were able to produce successful webinars. Rather than just giving something a go, they made sure they did it right without such a long learning curve.
Make Sure To Build Relationships
You don’t need to make your business relationships quite as cozy as Kate and John. But every relationship you have, professional or otherwise, is important to help the business grow.
And you should be making relationships with everyone whose path you cross. Every relationship you can make is going to be beneficial.
You may find yourself helping them from time to time, but it’s something you can also call up if you find yourself needing help.
In the EOFire podcast, they have interviewed over 1,200 entrepreneurs. John has built a relationship with every one of them.
That’s a huge wealth of influential people which they can turn to for help in any way. One way in which they are spreading the word about ‘The Freedom Journal’ is to ask all those entrepreneurs for a favor.
Think of all those potential avenues which could get directed down towards their product. You shouldn’t be afraid of taking advantage from any relationship you have.
So long as you’re happy to return the favor should they ever ask you to do the same.
One of the main lessons ‘The Freedom Journal’ will teach is to help people reach their potential. It’s easy for us to say ‘I wish’, but it’s harder to actually do something other than wishing.
The process of turning dreams into reality is difficult, and one way around that is to break it down into smaller, attainable tasks.
Over time, and after completing these smaller tasks, you might have actually achieved your big dream. Breaking it down then makes the process seem less daunting.
Stood at the bottom of a mountain, it’s easy to get hung up on how hard it will be to conquer.
Plus, the sense of accomplishing little pieces of your big goal will help to motivate you and give you the enthusiasm to push on.
Download the Kate Erickson interview transcript here >>>
So keep dreaming and set yourself a target for life.
Get yourself over to Kickstarter and check out ‘The Freedom Journal’. Kate and John have put blood, sweat and tears into their project and that effort has paid off handsomely.
At the time of publishing, it has raised over $220,000 of their $25,000 goal with over 3,700 backers. Amazing!
The money raised goes to a good cause called Pencils of Promise which builds schools in developing countries.
Kate keeps us motivated with her own podcast called Kate’s Take and that’s worth subscribing to if you want to keep on track.
To see Entrepreneur On Fire’s marketing system in full flow (and it’s a great one to use as a model) head over to this page.