The Benefits of a Recurring Membership Model Over an E-course Business Model
Jess is a renowned naturopath, mum and founder of Natural Super Kids. In this episode of Conscious Business Builders podcast Jess chats about how she grew her thriving and profitable naturopathy business online, and why she prefers an online membership model over a standalone e-course business model.
Click HERE for Jess’s FREE Gut Health eBook
Click HERE for Natural Super Kids website
Click HERE to access Laura’s business coaching services
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Thanks so much for coming on Conscious Business Builders podcast.
Hello, Laura. So nice to be talking to you.
You’ve been a regular on my Eco Chat podcast over the years so it’s great to have you on the Conscious Business Builders because you’ve managed to grow such a thriving, profitable and amazing business online that’s making such a difference to people’s lives. So I’m really keen to chat about that with you today and share your journey with our listeners.
Yes, thank you. Business is another topic that I love talking about, besides health, which is what we’ve talked about before.
For sure. Now, let’s just dive straight in because as I’ve mentioned, you have created a thriving and profitable conscious business around helping parents raise happy and healthy kids. What led you on this path? What kick started it for you?
Jess, you’ve created a thriving conscious business around helping parents raise healthy, happy kids. What led you on this path?
Oh, good question. It’s hard to know how far to go back. So I, I studied to be a naturopath straight out of school. And so really that was the foundation but I knew fairly quickly that I didn’t want to consult and do the traditional kind of naturopath consulting one on one in clinic. Although I still do a little bit of that, I knew that I wanted to make a bigger impact than I could in one on one work. And also, I wanted more freedom and flexibility in terms of the hours that I could work. And that really came about after I had children.
Going back to work after I had kids I started attracting more mums and kids into my clinic just sort of naturally from the people that I was hanging out with. So I was seeing lots of mums and kids and I was getting some really good results in clinic with kids with things like eczema, behavioural challenges, fussy eating and gut issues. And so I was loving that kind of work. I was getting great results and I decided to sort of go online and start developing e-courses and that sort of thing. So that’s kind of how it all how it all came about.
That’s so interesting you say you decided to go online and develop e-courses because that was where we met. Do you realize that six years ago, we met in an online community where we were both taking a course on how to build an E-course, that’s six years ago now!
Oh, my gosh, six years ago, and I do remember that’s where we initially met now that you’ve said that.
I launched my Home Detox Boot Camp and you launched your Natural Super Kids e-course that’s now evolved and changed over the years and we’ll chat about that. But yeah, I just remembered that we were some of the goal kickers in that community. We were some of the first graduates with our courses and had an offer that converted straightaway which has obviously gone and changed both of our lives.
Wow! A trip down memory lane. I remember you standing out to me in that community, obviously because our work was aligned but also because we were both serious about getting our e-course launched.
We were definitely the high achievers, along with Julia Jones, who is my next guest on this podcast! It’s amazing who we meet in these online communities that end up becoming our colleagues in the online space and our friends who we can share tips in online business.
What do you see are the biggest obstacles for parents to raise healthy kids?
I love this question because there’s so many of them and I think it sets parents up to feel like they’re failing or they’re doing something wrong. I think the biggest one of all is being time poor and feeling like getting your family healthy or making those healthy changes needs to take a lot of time. Some people think they almost need to quit their job because they’re going to have to be in the kitchen all day every day. And look, eating healthy does take more time than ordering takeaway or relying on processed, packaged food. So yeah, time is a big one. Just the easy access to processed food both for us as families and also for our kids especially as they get older and they get more independence and they might be out and about or you know, the birthday party influences or social occasion so I think that exposure and easy access to processed food is another big obstacle that families face.
And toxins in the environment. You know, our kids are now being exposed and I know I’m talking to someone who knows all this, but our kids are now being exposed to more toxins than ever before and that’s definitely having a detrimental effect on their health. And another one that’s really tricky for parents is kids being fussy eaters, picky eaters. So even if the parents are doing their best and educating themselves and cooking these nice whole food meals and then putting it in front of the kids and then their kids won’t eat it. So that’s another big, big obstacle I think that parents are facing. But at Natural Super Kids, we are all about trying to make it as easy as possible, and giving people the resources, tools, strategies and the recipes to make it easy to boost the health and nutrition of their kids.
What advice / tips do you have for our listeners who are parents themselves, want to improve the health of their kids, yet are struggling to keep all the balls in the air?
Yeah, definitely. Well, I think first and foremost, we need to make sure that we’re looking after ourselves. We can’t be giving from an empty cup. So I think the strategies that we need to implement as mums are just the basic things, like getting enough sleep.
I talk to so many mums that have that lovely time when the kids go to bed and the house is quiet, they’ve got a bit of time to themselves. So they end up staying up way too late. And they end up on this sort of, you know, cycle. So the basics…. getting enough sleep, making sure you’re moving regularly, whether that’s just walking or there’s so many convenient ways that we can exercise these days like YouTube videos, just getting up just dancing around the house with the kids and eating well. I think those foundational things for us as parents are really important, and doing things regularly that bring us joy as well so that we feel full enough to be able to then look after the rest of our family. So I think that’s a big one.
And another one is just to try just to keep it simple. It doesn’t need to be really difficult to switch to healthier foods. So you know, making recipes that have a few ingredients and learning how to cook from scratch, but in a very simple way is another big one.
Getting organized with your cooking as well as doing bulk batch cooking is definitely something that I do like. If you’re in the kitchen and you’ve got an hour to cook dinner there’s no reason that you shouldn’t be cooking three dinners in an hour, you know, while the pots are dirty. You’re chopping the veggies anyway. So I like to focus on those kind of meals that I can make a few batches and then serve those in different ways to kind of trick the family into thinking that they’re getting a different meal every night. Something like a mince, a chilli con carne type meal packed with lots of veggies. You can serve that with rice one night, a Mexican bowl the next night. You might freeze a batch and serve on some sweet potatoes or with lots of salad.
I like to make one meal in a big batch and serve it for a couple of nights in a row in different ways and then freeze at least one batch for the next week as well. Cooking like that, rather than just thinking about the meal that straight in front of you makes such a big difference. And I guess one other thing I would say is, ask for support and use your friends, your family, your community. Things like sharing school drop offs and pick ups so that you’ve got that bit of extra time to get things done or ask your husband to go and do the midweek food shop on the way home from work. I think as mums, we feel overwhelmed but there’s people out there that are willing to help and we need to be better asking.
We so need to be better at asking. I even do an online grocery shop in the very busy weeks. We’re all raising our kids isolated in our homes, whereas only a couple generations ago it was communities raising kids. I don’t think our formula in the Western world, where some of us might have grandparents interstate or still working well into their 60s and even early 70s, is easy. We don’t have the support and care that mums once had. So you’re right, this modern woman who’s been taught that we can have it all, we’re trying not to let it be visible that maybe some of us are tired and things are slipping through the cracks. So that point that to rely more and build that network, particularly in the school communities, I think makes a big difference.
It does. Just being open with other mums. You’re not the only one that is struggling to keep up with everything, we all are. And I think if we be vulnerable and share that with other mums, then that open conversation just really helps as well.
Great, great tips. Let’s switch to your business. Now, obviously, you’ve created a really successful business and you’ve learned a lot of lessons along the way and had lots of learnings. Would you mind sharing maybe your top three ones to date?
You’ve been successful in creating your own thriving naturopathic business online. What have been your three biggest business learnings to date that you’d like to share with our listeners?
So many lessons! So I think number one is to kind of have that mindset of, of playing the long game. I think we want it all and we want it now. And especially when we’re starting off in business, like it’s hard to be patient, but you know, just having the view of playing the long game building relationships, not being in too much of a hurry. I know that’s really hard when you’re starting out, but I’ve definitely learned that you can’t rush things in business and you need time to build a community and build an audience and build relationships with other people that are in business that can really help to propel your business forward as well. So, having that mindset that it’s a long game, rather than just burning out before you get there.
The other one would be just being generous with the information that you’ve got to share. I think a lot of people go to those free sort of online events, like whether it’s a webinar or video series and someone’s launching, and really, you get no value out of it. So my approach, I’m probably too generous with my free information that I share for free, but I think it has really helped my business. I think having the mindset of abundance, and that people are still going to sign up to your paid stuff. You don’t have to kind of keep your best stuff. I think Amy Porterfield says to give your best stuff away. And I’m definitely a fan of that sort of approach and being generous with people, giving people time.
Until really recently, I was still answering all my emails. Within the last few months, maybe two or three months ago, I hired a customer service girl who does my customer support and answers my emails and that sort of thing. And that has been really great now that I’m at the stage in business that I am at, but up until a few months ago, I was replying to every email and that sort of thing. So being generous, building those relationships with your community and other business owners I think is really important.
And the third one would be consistency. And I know this is really hard. But I think that the key to a successful business is being consistent with what you’re doing and trying to stay focused in your own lane. You know, because there’s all sorts of things that you can do. You can do podcasts, you can do Facebook Lives, you can do YouTube videos. You can be on all these different social media platforms. But I think choosing the things that you enjoy doing and the places that you enjoy being, and being consistent there.
Just to give people a bit of an example, I’ve been doing a Facebook Live show for about 18 months, maybe even closer to two years now. Every single Tuesday night, I do a Facebook Live Show and I go live at the same time. I talk about a particular subject and people now know that I’m live at that time. It’s like your favourite TV show, although that’s not so relevant now we’ve got Netflix where you can watch what you want, whenever you want. But people come to know that you’re going to be live at that time or your podcast is going to be released at that time. So showing up on whatever sort of platform you choose. And being consistent with that and being generous. And that’s really what’s worked well for me over the last few years.
I agree totally. That’s some of the similar beliefs I’ve had as I’ve grown my business – quality content, consistent content, being generous, like giving before you’re receiving. I think that also grows your following as well. People think “If she’s giving this away for free, Wow! What’s in the membership? What’s in the course? Like this is amazing!” You set that quality expectation and that value right from the start as opposed to giving content that’s just lacklustre. If you give Lacklustre in your free content people automatically assume that your courses and services are lacklustre. So definitely set the bar high and build that anticipation.
I find that for many of my coaching clients, a lot of them struggle with that, too. They’re like “Oh, what should I give away for free? What should I keep for my courses?” And I advise to give away your best stuff. You course or your membership is really your roadmap. It’s your framework, step by step, how to get the result and your ad hoc content can be these little bits and pieces all over the place.
Yeah, paid content is more like a step by step straight to the point kind of stuff. So, I totally agree with what you’re saying there.
Both of us have been running online courses for six, six years now. I think we both launched in the same month six years ago. And we have both transitioned to membership models over the years. I really want to talk about when you transitioned Natural Super Kids from that standalone course that you’d launch say twice a year into a recurring membership model. How did you know that this was the best next step for you to take in your business and how has this decision impacted on your business and your clients and customers as well?
In recent years you transitioned away from a typical e-course launch model to running a recurring membership. How did you know this was the best next step to take in your business, and how has this decision impacted on your business and your clients?
Yes, I love talking memberships because it has just transformed my business in so many ways. At first I was a bit sceptical because it’s quite a low entry point. And I would just think, you know, $20 a month or $30 a month, how are people making their businesses work from that kind of money? But what I found with health is that it’s a work in progress. It’s not like you get to this point where, okay, my family’s healthy now and I don’t have to care about it anymore.
So, I guess the nature of the work that I do is people need that ongoing support and particularly with kids, they go through different developmental phases. You come across different challenges, from toddlers to teens. So people were getting through my course and loving it, but they were wanting more from me and I was getting asked questions, you know, what’s next? How can you support me next? So that was a sign that I needed something more ongoing and a membership definitely felt like the answer to that.
I launched my membership about two years ago now, and I just love running a membership. I think I can give that ongoing support to people and also build those deeper connections with my customers as well, rather than “right this is just a six week course and then see you later, off you go!” So I’ve got members in my membership that have been with me right from the start and of course, in terms of a business model, you’ve got that recurring revenue, which is really nice.
So each launch, even though I still do live launches, each launch sort of builds on the last. It’s not such a spike in revenue coming in through a course launch and then back to nothing until you launch again. With the membership, you definitely get a drop off, and that’s a little bit hard to get your head around with the membership in terms of people are going to drop off. Either they don’t require what’s in your membership anymore or it’s not a good fit for them or whatever. So you definitely get the drop off but you’ve got that fact that it builds as time goes on. So yeah, I really love running a membership for all of those different reasons. And there’s so many different topics you can cover when it comes to health and kids health so I’m creating content consistently.
Another thing that the membership has allowed me to do is build a team. So at first it was me doing everything. I’ve now got another naturopath who’s also a wholefood chef, and she’s now developing the recipes and the meal plans. And she’s supporting the community as well as it grows. So it’s not all on me. I’ve also got a virtual assistant. My newest addition to the team is customer support who liaises with the customers. So having the membership and that recurring revenue has allowed me to be confident enough to bring people onto the team. Whereas before when I was launching, I didn’t know if I could always afford to be paying someone every week.
And you can have the odd launch that may not go as well as another launch out of nowhere. And I think we’ve both had some like that over the years that have just not performed, maybe Facebook hasn’t approved ads in time or whatever has happened, and it’s led to a launch that hasn’t hit your targets. But if it’s a launch of a membership, you’ve got that ongoing base revenue that’s still coming in each month, it’s not going to cause that stress. Whereas when you’ve got that e-course launch spike model of two or three big launches a year and if one of them doesn’t go well, it’s very risky.
Yes, that’s so true. I mean, you still have and I’ve definitely had, launches that haven’t gone as well as I would have liked for the membership, but it’s not as stressful for those reasons that you just said. About playing the long game… when I first launched the membership, I think I got 168 new members in my initial launch. I hadn’t created any content yet. It was just like, this is my idea. This is your price. It’s never going to be this price again. And people trusted me because most of them had already been through my course. So I had 168 people sign up for that. And then I was, you know, I’m going to have 2000 members by the end of next year or whatever. But no, it doesn’t work out like that. Because you do get the drop off. People cancel.
You’ve got the churn.
Exactly! The way my membership is set up is that people can cancel whenever they want. I only want people in there that want to be in there. But you can still see that it’s building and building and building. Not as not as fast as I originally thought it would. But yeah I just love the business model of memberships.
I think it’s a much easier way to serve your clients and your new customers but easier for your health and your stress levels as well, because you don’t have those peaks and troughs as you would with a standalone e-course launch model, which we have both lived and breathed as well for a couple years before we went down the membership route. Now you’re building a team and you’ve had some great wins along the way. With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell the younger Jess who’s just starting out on her business journey, particularly in this online business space?
With the benefit of hindsight, what would you tell a younger Jess who is just starting on her business journey?
I think, you know, I wanted it all and I wanted it quickly. I’d say that you can have it all but you can’t have it all right now. I mean when I started building my business, so my kids are now 12 and nine, I had young kids and I wanted this big online business. So I think the stress of trying to get too far too soon, definitely took its toll.
I was just lucky I have all of the naturopathic knowledge so I was doing all of the self care stuff and looking after myself. Otherwise, I would have totally, totally burnt out. Play that long game. That’s what I would say to the younger version of myself, keep plugging away, keep showing up, be consistent, and stick to one thing.
When I first started my business, my initial online business was Energetic Mama. It was aimed at health for mums, helping moms get more energy. But I quickly found out that mums we’re much more interested in working on their kids health than their own health. And that’s kind of one of the big reasons that I transitioned to kids health, as well as the fact that I was sort of doing more of that one on one work in my in clinic, so I launched my Natural Super Kids course. But my main brand was still Energetic Mama and even though the launch of Natural Super Kids was really successful, I still went on to dabble in courses and actually create courses that are more to do with mums health. Whereas if I had just really focused and stayed on that kids health path, which I’ve come back to now, my progress would have been a lot quicker. So I think, yes, not being distracted by all of the different things that you can do and just doing that one thing, but I guess it takes a bit of time to figure out what that one thing is going to be. So maybe you have to kind of play around with a few initially.
You’ve responded well. I mean, you’ve probably beaten yourself up, and you could have maybe claimed back that year or so if you hadn’t gone off in that other direction. But there’s been times in my business where I’ve created what I wanted to create, not what the customer wanted. I went down the Home Energy track because I’ve been a home sustainability auditor and I used to go out and do home energy and water audits in my community for households. And I really want to put that in the online space. It went well but people were more interested in chemicals in the home than reducing their household energy use. If I had staying on chemicals in the home and hadn’t run off and created another course… who knows? There’s much power in sticking with one thing.
Yes, you don’t need lots of offers. I think we both had that that idea when we started out like I’m gonna have six different courses or have all of these different offers, but it just complicates things. And when you find out the reality of launching…. having the courses there is one thing but you’ve got to actually launch all those courses over and over again. And I did just want to say, because I think this might be helpful for some people, what you were saying in terms of creating what your audience wants. So that’s actually how my Natural Super Kids course came about in the first place.
I sent out a survey to my Energetic Mama subscriber list, asking them what course they wanted me to create. I knew I was going to create a course and there was things like boosting energy for mums, adrenal and thyroid health for mums. I can’t even remember what else but very, very last on the list was a kids health e-course and that was the one that 70% of people who responded wanted me to teach. So that’s what I first created as a result of listening to my audience. I think listening to your audience, surveying your audience and asking them what they want is so valuable.
I did the same thing, because of course we were in that course together! I wanted to create a zero waste course so I could help people create a waste free home. But my following told me they wanted a chemical free home which was fine by me because I’m really strong in chemistry and am very interested in the topic and live and breathe it in my life. The artist in me wanted to create the waste e-course but then the businesswoman in me recognised my audience wanted the chemical one. But I still went on to create other and then didn’t have time to launch them. So that was an expensive mistake really, not to mention all the time and energy that went into doing all that.
I was having a conversation with someone the other day that was trying to come up with her online course idea. Just so many people feel like they’ve got to get the content all perfect and figure out the platform. But you can launch something really easily and you can deliver it in a Facebook group to start with. You can test it and see if people actually want it. Create the sales page, create the course outline and put it out there and see who buys it. And that’s what I did with the Natural Super Kids course. I think I’d created one or two modules. But when I put it out there people bought and then I had to create the rest of it because people had paid me for it. So I think getting things out there, more quickly is the way to go, as long as it’s not going to be too stressful for you.
That’s such great advice. I did the same thing. I created that my Home Detox Boot Camp content on the fly. I mean, I had it all outlined and I had the first week or two created and it was an eight week course. But by about week six, after every Monday night working until midnight, putting the finishing touches for the module to go out to people’s inboxes at seven o’clock the next morning, I was exhausted and it took a long time to recover from the effort. But at least I didn’t do all that effort and then launch it to no-one. If I did it again I’d still do the same thing. But I always have at least the first two modules sorted. That at least takes that pressure off the first couple of weeks.
And make sure you’ve got the space as well in your schedule to be able to create the content as you go. I think that’s important too.
Gosh, we can chat all day!! Yet school pickup is beckoning both of us.
Please share where our listeners can follow you online!
The best place to find everything is over at my website naturalsuperkids.com. So that’s got all of the links to all of my social media. I’m mainly active on Facebook. I do the weekly Facebook Live show that gets converted into a written blog as well and put on my blog. So we’ve got heaps of free information for parents about the health of their kids. I’m quite active on Instagram as well.
I’ve got a free gut health ebook that I’m getting really good feedback from actually. I talk about gut health a lot because it really is the foundation of our kids health. I think if we can get their gut health right or start improving their gut health, we can see so many benefits in terms of their immune system, their behaviour, their mood, and even their fussy eating. Even things like allergic tolerance can be improved by working on gut health. So that is a freebie that people can download.
I also have an online masterclass coming up about gut health as well on the 3rd of March. We’re going to be talking about the three proven ways that you can transform your kids health for better immunity, better behaviour, better allergic tolerance and to address fussy eating. So that’s going to be really fun. I’m making it sort of a big event. So there’s going to be the master class, but we’re going to have a Facebook group, and we’re going to have some free bonus trainings as well.
That sounds awesome. It’s so good to see how your brand’s grown over the years. I know you’ve put in so much time and effort and passion and we haven’t even talked about that year you took off and tripped all around Australia. So I might have to get you back on the show in coming months to impart some more wisdom, but it’s just great to see it working and I can’t wait to see how you continue to evolve in future.
Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. And yeah, I’d love to come back to talk more. I love talking about all things business. So thanks so much for having me.
Over To You!
Have you transitioned from an e-course business model to a recurring membership model? Share your wins and learnings below!
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