Listen to the Full Interview
FULL INTERVIEW ONLY $4.99
Featured Entrepreneur Interview
Sue Ann Gleason of Conscious Bites Nutrition
Stephenie: I do want to step back to the start of your business and just talk about what it was like for you going out and getting your first clients and working with them and determining what you should charge and what your process was.
Sue Ann: I started my business basically with a newsletter. You hear the words, “The List. How many people do you have on your list?” I think at the time I probably started with maybe 200 people on my list. Those 200 people maybe came off my email my list. I sent a letter to friends and family and talked about how I was launching this business, I was very excited about it. At the time, I was still in school and I basically started by practicing. I offered people free sessions to practice. I did that for several months.
From there, the list started to grow organically, slowly. From there what I did was I started a newsletter. I will say to you that I built my practice on a beautiful website, a very consistent weekly, content rich newsletter and relationships. As people started working with me, I had a monthly talk or seminar in my home. I started out with a cooking class or a talk in my home each month and a weekly newsletter.
Then I moved into a more global community, I started moving into an internet practice. So now, instead of delivering workshops in my home, I’m delivering tele-series over the telephone to people across the country. I kind of moved organically from a very small circle to a much broader one. But I didn’t grow that list with the “list growing” methods that we hear about so often. I truly grew the list slowly and organically and by that I mean through relationships. At the bottom of my newsletter, “If you know someone who would be interested in my work and what I offer in this newsletter, if so pass it on.” And I doubled that list in a year.
My list is not huge, but my following is very, very loyal. So when I send out 600 newsletters, 2 – 300 of those people are opening the newsletter and that’s pretty significant. For me it’s not about adding, adding, adding people, it’s about really serving that list and watching it grow. I’m also very conscious that my newsletter is authentic. I don’t follow the “building celebrity” model of newsletters.
You won’t find photos of me with my famous marketing coach, there’s no “Where’s Sue Ann” box, you know, that let’s readers know where I’ve been and who I’m studying with. I make sure that every single thing in that newsletter has values for my readers. They’d much rather have a delicious, skin enhancing recipe than see my itinerary.
I would say those are my biggest marketing tools. A consistent, beautiful newsletter, beautiful website and either teleclass series or talks. Something to get me out, into the world. Because it can be a lonely place being a solo entrepreneur. We have to get out.
Stephenie: Right. What is your process for coming up with the content for your newsletter or your website or your teleclasses, or whatever it is that you’re doing?
Sue Ann: My content creation comes from having a really good listening ear. By that I mean, it seems to me right now, when I speak to people in my niche… and my niche seems to be moving into entrepreneurs, entrepreneurial spirit, women in their 40s and 50s. It’s hormones, they’re all struggling with hormones. So I’m making sure that the teleclass series I’m designing right now has a piece in there for women who are struggling with the changes in their body. Their way of moving through the world because that happens as we age. So I make sure that my newsletters and my teleclass series meet the needs that I’m hearing as I listen to the women around me.
Sometimes I’ll send out a survey, “What’s keeping you up at night?” Or sometimes it’s really coming out of what I watch my clients struggle with. Body image, overworking, adrenal failure and then I will craft a series around those struggles. Because I know that if they’re struggling, there are other women out there that are struggling with those same issues. But you have to really listen.
It’s not I want to teach, it’s about what people really need.
Stephenie: Going back to your first clients, I know you said that you would do practice sessions, how long did it take for you to feel confident in your skills and decide to start charging?
Sue Ann: I did start charging, let’s see, I charged even the practice people because everything that I learned and everything that I know about money is that when you invest any amount of money, you take your work much more seriously. So I had, I called it my, “Friends and family learning rate.” It was never free.
And it’s interesting, one of the models for talks is you go out and you give your talk for free and then you’re kind of selling from the stage. Or you give your initial consult for free. I never followed that model. I always felt as though, because I knew me, I’m this over delivering spirit. I knew that I would end up giving more than I needed to in a free consult. So I put it out there right away that my initial consults had a price points.
Then I gradually, as I got more confident and as I built my skill set and really intentionally built that so that my practice would stand apart from others. That I would have components to my work that were unique to me. I gradually increased my fee. Then when I designed my own signature systems, this was only after maybe a year to a year and a half that I saw what I was doing, I watched my process, I saw that I was creating my own concepts, then I constructed my own systems. That’s when I realized that it was time to really increase my fees.
So in one bold move, I put it out there to someone who called looking for my services because they found my website or maybe they heard me on a telesummit, and I just stated my fee in a package format and she didn’t flinch. She was that invested. It was a very high price point and what was really beautiful about that for me was that the next day after our first meeting I got a four paragraph email from her about all she got from our first session together. I know, and I know I’m good at what I do, but I also know that came largely from her investment. Her investment in this service. The level to which she invested was pre-scripted by the level at which she was willing to invest. Her work has a direct relationship to what she’s invested in this program. And that’s pretty significant to watch.
So gradually. I raised my price point gradually but confidently.