It’s that time of year again. If you run in certain circles, you already know it: Marie Forleo is opening up enrollment for her mega-successful business course, BSchool.
The emails from affiliates start rolling in. The reviews. The sign-up bonuses. It’s heady. I thought I’d put my story out there for people, because I’m not an affiliate for BSchool. I’m not trying to sell you on it. I’m more of an impartial reviewer—and that’s important, because BSchool is a big decision.
Two years ago, I was swept up in the excitement. A year earlier, I had quit my full-time journalism job as associate editor of a hyper-local magazine to have a baby. I was their award-winning food writer, and I continued to write my food columns as a freelancer, so at the time, it seemed like a perfect fit that I should continue my print column online and start a local food blog. I knew that people made money blogging, but I didn’t know how….
I spent about a year working on that blog, and very little happened. I did some freelancing, but I earning only a tiny fraction of my previous income. My very supportive husband was starting to get nervous and we agreed that I could have one more year to try to “make it work” working from home before I put our daughter in daycare and went back to work at some kind of “real job.”
I needed a big shift to happen, and I needed it to happen fast.
Around the same time, the publisher of the magazine realized that I was blogging under the same name as my column—and she didn’t like it. I’d never tried to keep it a secret; I honestly thought she’d think it was a great promotion for the magazine. She didn’t. She freaked out and threatened to take me to court if I didn’t cease and desist. I was horrified, mortified, and terrified all at once.
Rather than throwing in the towel, however, I saw it as a sign—a sign that I needed a fresh start. I negotiated two months to get a new site off the ground before giving up my old site and domain name, and the publisher agreed.
And then I went and signed up for BSchool.
It was a huge investment and leap of faith for me at the time. I was earning only $300 a month in steady work, plus the occasional freelance article here and there. I used my savings to pay for BSchool in the hope that it would pay me back.
BSchool: Year 1
In those two months, I devoted everything I had to BSchool. My husband and I budgeted to have a babysitter come in for a few hours twice a week to watch my daughter while I worked on BSchool. I worked nap times, nights, and weekends. I built a new website from scratch, using what I learned from the course. I “launched” my new website with 75 subscribers to my email list, and thought it was a HUGE win. Laughing Lemon Pie was born.
Over the next year, I worked my tail off on that website. I created piles of content. Wrote two ebooks—one free, one paid. I tried affiliate marketing. I tried guest posting. Some of it worked, and some of it didn’t.
Because of Laughing Lemon Pie, I got some other writing gigs that paid anywhere from half a penny a word to $15 a post, and my income went up—slightly. I sold a (very) few ebooks. I sold a (very) few affiliate products.
But I was learning a lot. Towards the end of the year, I realized something very important: I had picked the wrong niche. I had picked a topic I was passionate about: eating like a foodie on a budget. I was excelling in that niche. But here’s a pro tip: people interested in living on a budget aren’t easy to sell to. Even a $9 ebook. The best product in the world won’t sell if your audience isn’t willing to buy it!
I wasn’t making much money, but I was learning what it took to run a blog and grow an audience. I’d had some pretty big successes, including getting noticed by one of Martha Stewart’s magazines and getting invited to guest blog for them, getting picked up by the Huffington Post, and doubling my email list with a single guest post.
BSchool taught me how to successfully market myself, I just had the wrong product.
It was about that time that I realized that people might pay for that experience and knowledge that I could bring to their blogs. But my year was up. My husband and I sat down and had a heart-to-heart. I wasn’t ready to give up, and neither of us was ready to send our daughter to daycare full time yet. Plus, we both saw the potential in my new idea. We agreed that I could have another year to try.
BSchool: Year 2
Full of inspiration and promise, I put my BSchool knowledge to use again, built another new DIY website (this one!) and hung out my “digital shingle” as a ghost blogger.
I went through BSchool for a second time, trying extremely hard to see the information with fresh eyes, not assume that I already knew it all.
But the more important aspect for me became the Facebook community.
In my first year of business as a ghost blogger, fully 50% of my clients have come from the BSchool community.
As I’m getting more well known, I’m getting more leads from other sources, but starting out, having a ready-made, active, involved community of my ideal clients was beyond important: it was crucial. At first it was scary putting myself out there into this ever-growing community, but I approached it from a place of service rather than selling, and it’s served me incredibly well. People I’ve never even worked officially now recommend my services because I’ve been helpful to them on the community. And there’s no more powerful marketing than that.
The Bottom Line:
BSchool wasn’t a magic pill for me. It wasn’t a quick fix. I didn’t make back my investment in the first year. It didn’t skyrocket me from nothing to six figures.
But it was a huge part of my success. Having all the information about launching and running a successful online business in one place probably saved me years of trial and error. Having access to a community of my ideal customers played no small part in getting this business off the ground.
I’m not making six figures. But, in my first year as a ghost blogger, I earned almost exactly my previous salary as a magazine editor—and I did it working about 20 hours a week, instead of the 60+ hours I put in at the magazine. I get to stay home with my daughter, who now attends daycare two days per week while I work. I have the flexibility to go attend mommy groups, set up playdates, take her to ballet class (starts in two weeks!), go to the zoo, etc.
I’ve also had the flexibility to drop everything and fly home to Texas when my dad’s leukemia came back. I was able to be there for my family when my grandfather’s health was on the decline and my dad was in the hospital. And my business came with me. My clients never needed to know, or notice a hiccough, because I can work from anywhere.
No, it’s not as sexy as spending a month on the beach in Costa Rica, or working from an apartment in Paris. But it’s been priceless to me.
Is BSchool the right investment for you? Only you can say! But I can tell you that I wouldn’t be here without it.
Got questions? Hit me up! I’m happy to answer them in the comments below.
P.S. Marie’s free trainings are always worth the price of admission (and then some!) so be sure to watch her videos even if you don’t decide to invest!