Nicole Walters of The Monetized Life is the real deal. This boss babe turned online entrepreneur was once working with billion dollar clients and now she's bringing that knowledge to her blog, biz and, most importantly, you.
Focusing on helping everyone from stay at home parents to small business owners via webinars and coaching, Nicole has multiple courses, a killer blog and a Periscope worthy of her name, ScOprah.
Are you ready to Monetize Thyself? Here's how...
Click to jump to individual questions or read the full interview for our weekly roundup newsletter, Make Change Weekly.
- How would you describe what you do?
- Can you talk a bit about your corporate background?
- How did you transition from the 9-5 to working for yourself?
- What steps did you take after you quit your job?
- How did you launch and what were your results?
- Did you expect to see such great success?
- How did you use social media to grow your email list?
- What's the best part of owning your own business?
- What's next for you?
Ashley: Hey everyone. Ashley over at Teachable and Make Change. Very excited today to be sitting down with Nicole Walters. And if you haven't heard of her, you are going to. Nicole, do you want to say hi and tell everyone what you do?
Nicole: My name is Nicole. I'm an income strategist and I specialize in income makeover. So, it's not about these crazy, big, six figure launches. It's more about how to turn several small wins into big financial independence.
Nicole is awesome. I ran into her content first on Periscope and then I started reading her blog, and was just so impressed because what she is saying is real and also, she has this amazing background that's really impressive. She's worked with huge clients and big names. Nicole, do you want to talk about that a little bit?
Before I got into the whole world of bringing my corporate skills directly to people, I worked in Corporate America like everyone else but I did it for, oh my gosh, probably 10, 12 years and I was working with multibillion dollar companies, the top health insurance firm, one of the top two retirement firms in the United States.
I was a business consultant. Then I was a sales executive. So, I really only dealt with your major corporations, business to business, facilitating sales and generating profit for the companies. It was pretty cool stuff. I got to travel a lot which was fun and I got to meet a lot of...I was only talking to CEOs. But then, after a while, I was like, "You know what? I want to be one."
I feel like sometimes people start coaching really young in their career and you've done it professionally, you've mastered that. And then you left and started your own business. Tell me about that transition and when were you like, "All right. I'm done, time to quit the 9:00 to 5:00. I'm doing this."
Okay. So, I don't know if you know this story Ashley, which is kind of fun because we just met. So, here is what happened. I think that I always have the entrepreneurial bug. I always was like, "This isn't for me. I have authority issues." I really need to do my own thing.
But I also knew the importance of Corporate America teaches you a lot of foundations and I learned a lot about things from running a decent Excel report and understanding profit margins, to negotiation and business meetings, and professionalism.
Those are all skills I'm able to teach now and bring to my own business. But no matter what, I knew that day was coming where I was like, "I got to quit this 9:00 to 5:00 thing." I can't. So, I don't know if you know this, but I quit my job live on Periscope in front of 10,000 people.
I legit called my boss and the thing is I didn't do it in the crazy, jumping off the plane type of way. It was totally classy, but I basically have been telling people for a full week on Periscope, "Guys, I think this is the week. I think I need to do it." I was building my business. I was like, "I think this is the week I'm going to call my boss and just end it."
I'm going to go find this later.
I actually have the video. It's in my academy, 1K1Day. I can talk more about that later. But I have the video of my quit day. It's the craziest thing. So, that Friday, I called my boss and my boss was remote. He was in Chicago, otherwise, I'd do it in person. So, I called him and I was like, "Hey, I've got something to talk about." And he wants to talk about like next week's meetings, blah, blah, blah. And I'm like, "Yeah, we're not going to talk about the next week meeting because I quit. I'm done. I can't do this anymore."
And it was scary because I've been talking about it on Periscope but everyone was like, "You really shouldn't...can we see? Is that okay?" And my husband is an attorney and he was like, "Yeah, you can do it. Just make sure you don't record his side of the conversation because it's a two-party state," because my husband is no fun.
It is nice that you have that kind of legal advice there though.
It really helps, it really helps. I got him on the phone and it went really well. And I just let live streaming do its live thing and I left it on. But I just have the conversation and I was super nervous, and everybody online with me was super anxious. Some people were shouting, "Don't do it. You're going to hate yourself forever. Don't do it." Other people are like, "Go for it girl." It was really a mixed bag.
I had family members at the same time texting me, tweeting me like, "Stop what you're doing." My mentor was even like, "Are you sure you want to do this this way?" it was really scary at the time because once you're in, you're in and it was live.
It started out with him saying, "I'm sad to see you go." But then he was like, "What are you going to do?" And I was like, "Well you know what, I've learned so much and I want to start teaching regular people. I've already started and people are growing. And they're making money, and their businesses are thriving, and I want to do more of this and it feels good." And he was like, "If you're making money and it feels good, why are you still here?" And then I bust into tears. It was amazing.
That is really amazing. I've never heard of anyone doing that before and such a risk too. You got how many people live?
10,000. I was freaking out. I think my biggest fear was that my boss would be like, "Turn in your laptop. Bye." But he was so nice and encouraging. I talked to him the other day. I'm actually doing a surprise trip for my team because we've had such a successful year and I contacted him because I'm actually hiring my old company's services for my new team. And it was definitely one of those moments like...
Yeah, like "I've made it."
Yeah, I've made it. Right? He was like, "I'm so excited." He was like, "Less than 10 months, it's not even a year." He was like, "And you're coming back and hiring us. That's so cool." And I was like, "Yeah, I know." So, super exciting.
Yeah, and I think that's awesome for everyone out there who's listening right now to hear because that is a scary conversation. When you start to tell everyone like, "Hey, I'm leaving this awesome job that's super stable and super safe to take this risk." Our friends want what's best for us, but a lot of times that's the least risky thing.
Absolutely, and entrepreneurship is unfamiliar. You don't know it unless you've been in it. Right? So, friends are like, "What are you doing," but in reality, you got to go with your gut and part of why I shared it was just to be authentic. I was giving al this business advice, helping people be entrepreneurs, but I wasn't a full time entrepreneur myself. So, I was like, "That's not honest and I need to share this part of the journey too."
That's the real deal, that's it. Cool. So, what came next? You quit this job. You had started building your business, what did those business steps look like post job quit?
Prior to quitting my job, I did all the official things. My husband had me set up as an LLC. I'd already started the trademarking process for some of my products that I developed, my courses, my content. I've built up my following on websites like Facebook and Twitter, and I was periscoping regularly and using live streaming as a lead generation tool.
A lot of people minimize live streaming. They're like, "It's new, it's hip, Snapchat," whatever. But in reality, it was a great way for me to showcase my platform, to showcase some of my skills. And then, working a premium capacity and I directed people to my platform. So, my email list was growing like crazy.
Yeah, so you were collecting emails from all of that?
I was collecting emails, right, because one of the big things I always teach is always take the relationship offline. You never want to start interacting with people without building a place for them to go. So, that was what I'd already done. So, I was like I have a place for people to go and it's really about time and capacity. If I have more time, I can actually take on more people that are willing to work with me.
That was the next step. Once I quit my job, the next day, I literally flew to Tennessee on a speaking engagement. The next week, I was on NBC Raleigh. I just had things to do. That was the next step. And the next thing I launched was my course, 1K1Day, which is wildly popular.
Yeah, totally. Okay. I'm interested in that. Where did you have the content from? How did you launch? What were your results?
I am a big believer in teaching what I know, what is tried and true. I'm not really one of those rinse or repeats or recycle type of people.
So, when I was in Corporate America, one of the things I did was I said it's really important to me to take the skills I'm using now, the skills that I use to negotiate, skills that I use to create different income streams for companies and I figure out liked systems ad tools that are available online, web-based and inexpensive.
That's what I did for myself first.
I was like, "Cool. I have three solid income streams that are generating income for me to the tune of about $1,000 a day. Right? So, some days were like $300, some days were a thousand.
But all this money was being made semi-passively and it wasn't being made on the side of my 9:00 to 5:00. I was like, "Okay, I got a thing here. I got a system. So, how do I package this and sell it, and make it work?"
And thanks to sites like Teachable, that was what I was able to do. I was actually able to take my knowledge, package it on a platform to really make it something that people were able to access and learn. And that was honestly the hardest part.
If it wasn't for educational platforms and having the ease of being able to upload and create content, Teachable is a great example of how simple it is to take your knowledge and turn it into something that's accessible by the masses. And the customer service at Teachable has been phenomenal with that sort of thing.
What I loved about it was that you're able to turn your knowledge into something accessible, put a price tag on it, and people would pay for it. And that's basically what happened. I did a launch, my first launch. I made five figures overnight super easy and I sold out in four minutes. It was crazy.
Did you expect that? Did you know that was going to happen?
No, so, I actually had, not a launch manager officially, but she is now part of my team. I'm so not tech savvy. I feel like my becoming an entrepreneur at this time and the rise of platforms like Teachable, it's just a beautiful juxtaposition of awesome because I am not tech savvy.
So, if it wasn't for platforms that make it easy for me to get my knowledge out there for others to access it, it just wouldn't work.
I have a launch manager who literally was on the phone with me while I was live Periscoping saying, "Hey, we've open cart. If you want to enroll in this course..." And I was doing like a Blab interview, which is another live streaming platform and literally we opened cart and everything crashes.
It was unbelievable at first. It crashed because we weren't ready for the volume. And then we are like, "Holy cow. We enrolled everyone on a payment processor before we gave them access to the course" because we didn't know about integrated systems like Teachable where they collect the money and it's already done. And if I knew about that...
You didn't use Teachable at that time?
We didn't use Teachable at that time. That was the number one mistake I made.
We did the payment processing through a webinar platform and that was what crashed. They crashed because they literally did not know the volume was too much. It was hundreds of people in like four minutes. They were just out one time trying to process the credit card.
It was just insane. Second launch, we went to a platform like Teachable and that solved all the problems because you guys know what you're doing.
Yeah, and that's how I found you was on social. Can you talk about how you used those new social programs to help actually grow your business via email list and not just a number of followers?
I'm really big on profitability over popularity. So, it's great. I have so many friends and so many clients that are huge bloggers with six figure followings on Instagram and they just don't make a penny.
If they're not getting a sponsored post or brand relationship, they're not making any money. And the sad thing is they're really knowledgeable. They didn't get that followership by accident.
What I do on live streaming is my turbo opt-in method where basically I get on there and I tell people, "Look, instead of doing the whole building you into a six-week funnel and then directing you to a freemium, and then teaching you in a webinar, and then giving you the sale."
Instead, I'm like, "Let me get on live streaming, show you my dopeness and my awesomeness right up front, let you know that hey, I've got you. Here are some systems you can use right now. Plus I'm in the journey with you. Look at what I am doing. This is what it looks like every single day." And I even get on there and I'll cry. I'm like, "I'm feeling I'm crazy."
We all have those moments.
Yeah, we all have those moments and it's authentic. And being able to that has allowed me to skip a lot of the email list relationship building that we typically do in the past. And people are like, "I know you. I get you. I see what your life is like. You're an entrepreneurial mom. Your three-year old just ran across the background naked."
This is real life. And because of that, people are willing to invest in you and they're willing to trust you to help them build their business. And that's how I've been using live streaming and it's working like a charm.
So, was live streaming something you did from the beginning or was it something you did as growth?
Actually, another truth moment, I'm so bad at tech that Periscope came into my life again at the right time because I was like, "I want to host a webinar." People were asking me about some things I was doing at my blog and they were like, "Can you do a webinar or show us how to do this." I was like, "I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to do a webinar."
So, I was like, "Cool. Just hop on Periscope and I'll show you there." And once I did that, people were like, "I love the way that you teach. I love it. Do you have a course I can buy? Do you have..." anything that I can do and I was like, "No." And then I started building it.
Your business is obviously taking off, it's growing. Would you mind giving us a very quick overview of those major steps from idea to where you're at now?
One of the first things I always recommend is that people outline their course idea and their product. So, if you are looking at a platform like Teachable for instance, and you're saying you want to build something out with modules and lessons, and attachments and downloads, all that good stuff, and video, the first thing I recommend is write out an outline.
Just put it down on paper or use a white board so that you know what it looks like. And the reason why is then bring somebody else in, have them look that same board and say, "Does this make sense?" If we've started here, by the time we get to here, do you understand the thing I'm trying to teach you because when you're so in it, you may not realize that it comes easily to you. You may not realize that it's tough for other people to understand.
You'll save so much money in filming your video content, your time. And you'll also realize that some things that you want to sell as video really should be written as transcript because people need that visual aspect.
That will be the first step of any sort of idea. Then, find the right platform that works for you, that fits your price point. I know Teachable, I think they have several different options in different price ranges which is awesome because if you're a new entrepreneur, you shouldn't spend a bucket of money for the fanciest things first because frankly, you have no idea how your launch is going to go.
You need something that will let you grow. So, start with their lowest package, get your stuff out there and then launch it, put it out to the world, send it to your friends and family, blast it to your email list, talk about it on live streaming. And then engage with people. I think that's the step that people always forget.
There is the idea, there is your launch, but at the end of it, stay in your course. Go in there, if you are using Teachable, comment on people's stuff, write on, make sure you're interacting with them. So, that way, they're able to say, "Gosh, I felt like my teacher was really present." And then, that was going to help you not just for that launch or relaunches, but for future launches.
Preach, exactly. That's what we say. We say those same exact things. So, it's awesome to hear you finding that that works. So taking a little bit of a step back, you started this business. You've quit your job, what's the best part of running your business? What's it like from where you're at?
So, I'm not going to lie to you. I have my days where I'm like, "It'd be so nice to take a PTO day." I would like to get paid to sit on my butt. It's going to be really nice, but that does not exist in entrepreneurship.
If you're not working, you're not getting paid.
I do have my days. But I think the best thing is location independence. So, as long as I have my phone, I can work. And if I want to work outside of my patio, I can do that. If one of my kids needs me, I am a foster mom to three girls. So, if one of my girls needs me, I can be there and guilt free, and be all the way present, both mentally and physically not worrying about a deadline or a spreadsheet.
They exist, but it's my business. So, that I think is probably the most joyful part of entrepreneurship that just can be beat. I'll never give it up.
I think everyone seeing out there is doing that right now. They want that same freedom for whatever reason it is, whatever's motivating them. That's it. Very cool. So, as you're growing, what's next?
I don't know. I'm launching my course, I'm interacting with everyone, but it's been great. Right now, where I'm focused on my business is just on the give back. I want to learn more about my community. I want to interact with them more. So, I am pouring myself in there. I'm answering emails for hours a day. I run all my own social media so I can talk to people. I'm just really big about getting away from the automation of relationships. I want to be present in my business.
So, right now, I'm enjoying that. I'm just enjoying talking to people, getting to know their names, their pain points, their children, their hobbies, and that's the blast. It's been so rewarding that I know it's going to burst the next great thing. So, that's where my mind is right now.
That's an amazing place to be and I think everyone appreciates that. Definitely stands out.
It's nice. It's fun too. I'm a dork. I like meeting people. I know we're doing an interview, but I'm like, "I want to ask Ashley questions like did she do ombre highlights or was she all blond and then let it grow out?" I am so distracted. I want to ask questions.
I am the same way. And what's really cool is when you run your business, you can tailor your business for what works for you. We're on social. Social works for you. You have this amazing personality. People come to you. We always tell people who are writers like, "Focus on that, focus on this." Yeah, so how do you think that's played into your business? How do you play it to your strengths?
One of the things that I like to do is definitely do what makes you happy. Right? So, with entrepreneurship, I don't want to lie. It's not a situation where if your favorite thing to do is eat pizza every day, you're going to wake up and eat pizza, and get paid for it. No. There is work.
But as I've been building my business, one of things that I am getting to do is as I delegate to my team the things I don't want to do is that I can just focus on the things I enjoy the most. I love interviews because I just like meeting people. And I like talking, and I'm by myself all day.
I love being able to get on Periscope every day and just chat. Some of my scopes are business related, some of them are me making dinner with my kids. What's cool is that all relates to my business because I'm sharing that authentic journey and I think that is probably what I like the most about interacting in this space of entrepreneurship. And it's cool. I get to meet people like you and I get to talk to CEOs of Teachable just because. Yes, I definitely remember.
I love my job too because it's exactly this. Okay. I have a question though. As we've been talking, you keep talking about a team, you've got people helping you. As someone who is just starting out, has just quit their job, a lot of times you don't have the budget for that. So, at what point did you start bringing in other people to help you and who were your first hires?
No, that's a great question and I don't get it enough. It's a totally legit question. So, the very first person I brought on was my head of operations and to be completely fair, I came from a six-figure job, so I had the income and revenue to do that. It was necessary because there was no way.
I have the ideas, I have the concepts, I have the content, but I needed someone to help me with the tech, to bring the two things together. So, what I recommend whenever I'm teaching my courses, save yourself the overhead. Use platforms like Teachable, use platforms like PayPal. Don't absorb extensive amount of cost trying to buy the fanciest, neatest thing.
There are platforms that provide all the services that you don't have to pay for. Save your money where you can, but you don't have to skimp on quality for your audience because when the time comes that you need to hire someone, that first person is probably going to be a virtual assistant or someone who is going to handle, I will never coach automating the relationship aspect, your social media things of that sort.
Answering your tweets, liking your posts, I am not here for that. But what I do recommend automating is things like sorting out your inbox, so that that way, you're reading the things that matter first. Or somebody doing research assignments for you, spending time getting content or someone running your surveys.
A virtual assistant can do all of those things. And my entire team is based in the U.S., I pay them a fair salary. I'm really proud of that and we get together once a year on a trip. That way, we can interact and see each other, and work together. So, we share the profits as our business grows and that's just how we structured things. And it's working. I see their words 10 times over.
Very cool. And a lot of people say that. VA is first and foremost. And you can, you can find someone who knows what they’re doing and you can make up what you're paying them in revenue.
Yeah, and especially with courses too. I always get it when it comes to video. People like, "Oh man, I need a new camera, what backdrop do I use?" First, pre-sell your course, do it rough and dirty, make the income and then you can start working on it.
You are so right, Ashley. I feel my first edition of 1K1Day, I filmed it on my iPhone 6, standing in my bathtub with a bed sheet behind me for a white background.
I wish I was more surprised, but it works. So many people do that.
It really does.
John and Eliot, they launched a course earning $2 million. It was an iPhone 5 at the time and it was hanging from the ceiling with a fishing wire.
Wow and it's funny because honestly, what it comes down to is if your content is strong and you have the passion to deliver it, you will find success that way.
It isn't about having a movie star set.
I remember standing in my tub and actually hovering to try to make sure I was level with the tripod on my iPhone 6. I feel like the whole thing like this kind of like turned on a corner, and my bathroom had great acoustics because I didn't have a speaker. That was the advantage. It's crap when I look back on it, but doesn't everybody need a story for Forbes?
And if you're talking to Forbes, it seems like it worked out. I love that, I love that. Cool. All right. Do you have any other strange little tips for course creators having done it?
I do. So, one of my best tips that people don't know and I think that it might give people some freedom is look, nobody is that unnatural at their wording and their content. So I think a lot of people will look at me and they'll look at my course, and they're like, "Wow, you're here and you're like this." So then you want to do blah, blah, blah. That's because I'm using a teleprompter.
That's part of the advantage of writing out your content in advance and what I did was ideal for a newbie. I didn't make a bootleg teleprompter. I made a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and I just hit the space bar as I was recording, and that just went across the screen, and I read that as I was filming my course.
So, if anyone is out there saying, "I don't know how I'm going to remember and I feel I have to do a bunch of editing and I keep flubbing my lines. I am messing up my content." Use Microsoft PowerPoint, upload all your script and your content, and then hit that space bar and keep recording.
It works. It's very simple. Okay. At this point in your business, obviously successful, you obviously know what you're doing. I would like to ask, what are you struggling with right now in your business having done this launch, having built a business and going on to those next steps.
So, real life, and this is what I share on Scope every day. I struggled. I just went through a whole burnout situation.
Maybe about two weeks ago, I had to take off three days for my business where I literally got a hotel room, left my family, and I just slept and I got my whole life back together.
The reason why was I've been working nonstop for months and months flying cross-country for interviews, maybe three or four times in a single month. It was just insane.
When you're in it and you're in entrepreneurship, it feels so good and it feels so delayed if you've been working in the corporate world or doing things that don't align with your purpose, that you find yourself with this weird energy and enthusiasm to stay up until three, and to just do crazy things.
What's hard is you have to balance self-care. You have to take off those three days. So, now I just put them on my calendar. I don't know how I'm going to feel at the end of my launch. I'll probably be on a high and I'll feel really good, and want to keep working, but I put three days in anyways because I have to take a break.
Otherwise, I'm going to break down.
What will happen is you'll make mistakes in your business. You'll flub little emails. You won't be as productive and ultimately, you'll hurt your purpose by not taking a break from your purpose. So, in doing that, I came back recharged. It was perfect. I'm so ready to go.
I love that advice. I think I've read so many bloggers where people talked about the burnout and how that's very real. You get addicted to this hustle, it's so easy to do that.
I didn't think it could happen to me. I was like, "I'm not going to burnout. I'm not burned out." Even when I was in my burnout, I was like, "This isn't burnout. I probably had a little more...I just got to..." This is that moment where people say you have to push just a little harder. Right? No, that was burnout. I was in it. That's what that was. I needed a break.
One last question before I let you go, what is your last minute advice to anyone out there right now who is like, "I'm ready to quit my business. I'm ready to screw the 9:00 to 5:00. I'm ready to go?"
Anyone who is willing to do that, the first thing I say is make sure you've built a place to go. So often we think of it as quitting and leaving something, and then branching out on my own, and our mind hasn't connected with the fact that no, you're quitting your old job, but you're hiring yourself. So, are you a place that you want to work? Do you have the tools to be able to do that? Have you built a place to show up every single day?
One of the first things I recommend is sketching out what your day would look like before you quit.
So, it's 9:00 to 5:00, what am I going to do?
I remember after quitting the next day, I had an event the next day, but the first Monday that I was home after quitting my job, I was standing in my kitchen holding coffee like, "What am I supposed to do right now?" I've got things to do but I don't know where to start. I just felt a little bit in a haze and I think it's important to understand that you want to be your best boss ever.
So, be prepared before you quit your job. And what's great is you have opportunities using just the internet, online business, Facebook, live streaming. I teach things in my course, 1K1Day Academy, and platforms like Teachable. You need to get started now, so that when you leave, you're leaving and going to something amazing.