Dorie Clark – Entrepreneurial You – Monetize Your Expertise Create Multiple Income Streams and Thrive
Dorie Clark is a recognized expert when it comes to personal branding. Her latest book, Entrepreneurial You, is a bookend if you will that completes a trilogy on the topic of building your personal brand and leveraging it to boost your career.
I was fortunate enough to interview Dorie for her first two books as well. If you're interested in hearing those conversations you do check them out at the links below.
Reinventing You – Define your Brand Imagine Your Future
Stand Out – How to Develop Your Breakthrough Idea and Build a Following Around It
In Entrepreneurial You, Dorie walks the reader through how to use capitalize and monetize your expertise and create multiple income streams so you can thrive, not just now but for years to come.
I have been following Dorie for years now and have started in earnest to implement her advice. Having watched her implement the strategies and tactics discussed in her book and covered in this episode, I can say without hesitation if you're looking to improve your career and your place in life, Dorie is someone you want to emulate.
There is so much useful information in this podcast I decided to do something different for the show notes, provide you with the complete transcript. I have edited it for ease of reading but 98% of what follows is our conversation. Enjoy the show. I know I did and still do.
Entrepreneruial You Podcast Introduction
“What actually holds a lot of people back is that they assume that you have to have a really good plan and strategy in place and then you go execute it. And what I've come to find again and again is that it's actually really rare for that to be the order. Typically, you start by doing. You start by kind of fiddling around and experimenting with things and it's only through that process that you actually find the connective tissue.”
Ryan Rhoten: Dorie, welcome back to the BRAND New You show.
Dorie Clark: Ryan, thanks. It's great to be reunited.
You've done a lot since the last time we spoke; you've written a book, won a Grammy, which I'm sure we're going to talk about at some point today during our discussion, traveled the world, and you've even taken up stand-up comedy.
What drew you to stand-up comedy?
Well, you have certainly been doing your homework, so I appreciate it. I got interested in stand-up comedy because I like comedy in general. I did improv when I was in college, although I'd never tried stand-up. And about a year and a half ago, a friend of mine who lives here in New York; a woman named Terri, who's also kind of involved in a business and entrepreneurial space, had started doing stand-up performances and she had been taking classes and stuff like that. I thought it was really cool, so I was talking to her about it and she mentioned that it had started with her taking a class. And I thought, “You know? I should do that. I should make time for it.”
I was fresh off of my book tour for “Stand Out,” my last book, and I had just been on the road so much, I had kind of burned myself out with all the travel. So, I was looking for things that would enable me to spend more time in New York, where I live. And I thought that stand-up would be a great way to do that and kind of take advantage of one of the really unique things about New York, which is just its concentration of comedic talent.
So, I signed up for the course and I liked it.
I signed up for another one, and then I started doing performances. Which, what's really nice is that when you do stuff as part of a comedy class as opposed to just going to open mics, the first people who are in your audience are usually friends that you invite.
So, it actually goes pretty well, because mostly they're just excited that you're up on stage. They're like, “Oh, yay! You're so amazing!” Frankly, the low bar is very helpful in that process. If you go to an open mic where you just don't know anyone, it's mostly other comics, and they are impossible to get to laugh. They're just like, “Whatever. You're no Chris Rock.”
That's pretty awesome. I have a couple good friends, both have been on the podcast as well, Gary and Lisa. They both have taken improv classes as well. So, I'm wondering, when you took your stand-up class, do you feel that that helped you at all with your speaking? I mean, I know you've spoken many, many times, but do you feel that that adds something to your speaking?
You know, it's hard for me to see a kind of direct correlation in the sense that … I mean, certainly speaking helped me with stand-up because with stand-up there's a couple of things that you have to master.
One, of course, is the art of the jokes, but the other is just the comfort being on the stage to begin with, which a lot of people have a really hard time with if they've never done it. So, for me, I was fine being on stage, but the actual art of crafting stand-up is so demanding. It really made me appreciate it.
I feel like stand-up comedians are some of the smartest people in the world because frankly, the bar is that much higher.
When you are giving a business talk, what people are looking for is are you reasonably entertaining? Are you reasonably educational? Did you do an okay job? And it's like, yeah, great, amazing.
What people are looking for in stand-up, what is considered the minimum bar of success in stand-up is can you make someone laugh out loud every 10 seconds? I mean, it's just shockingly difficult to do. So, I have an infinite amount of respect for being able to do that.
It's been a useful process for me, learning how to think about crafting jokes and things like that. I can't say that it necessarily has, at this point, a lot of crossover benefit in terms of my regular business speaking, but certainly, I think it's amping up my overall brainpower to be able to do it.
Ryan Rhoten: That's awesome. Well, I know … I will say that your joke about your mom being a nurse made me chuckle.
Dorie Clark: Thank you. Thank you.
Before we dive into your book, with all the traveling that you've been doing over the last several years, I have to check back in and see, is Paris still your vacation place of choice?
I think it probably is. Yeah. I haven't been back in a few years because I've been going to so many other places since we last chatted. I've spent time in Buenos Aires for the first time and Budapest; those are both places that I think are pretty high up on the list.
They're very beautiful cities. I'm going to be going to Copenhagen next month for the first time, which will be great. But yeah, probably Paris still wins for now.
Entrepreneurial You The Book
You already mentioned it as the last time we spoke, you had just released your latest book, which was “Stand Out,” and that was a follow-up to your first book, which is “Reinventing You.”
Which by the way, are two excellent books in their own right. So, for the listeners who've not checked those two out, I highly recommend not only do you go check them out, but also go back into the archives of this podcast and listen to our discussions about them.
But keeping that in mind, one of the things I found interesting is you started out your book, right at the very beginning of “Entrepreneurial You,” is that you said, these three books combined … So, “Reinventing You,” “Stand Out,” and now “Entrepreneurial You,” you conceived as a trilogy. When did that concept of a trilogy become clear to you?
Dorie Clark: Oh, only recently.
Ryan Rhoten: As you were writing the words?
Basically. I think that what actually holds a lot of people back in general, in terms of business life, is that they assume that you have to have a really good plan and strategy in place and then you go execute it.
And what I've come to find again and again is … Certainly in writing my book, “Stand Out,” which dealt with the topic of how do you create a breakthrough idea and build a following around it, is that it's actually really rare to have … For that to be the order; for you to have the strategy and execute it.
Typically, you start by doing.
You start by kind of fiddling around and experimenting with things, and it's only through that process, through an iterative process, that you actually find the connective tissue or you actually find the central thesis, so to speak. And so for me, it was in the process of writing “Entrepreneurial You” that I realized that it was really a capstone to the messages in “Reinventing You” and “Stand Out.”
I want to stick on this concept of threes now, as we start to dive into your book because it is divided into the following three sections.
Section One: Build your brand
Section Two: Monetizing your brand
Section Three: Extend Your Rreach and Your Impact Online.
Entrepreneurial You Section One – Build Your Brand
You mentioned right away that you think it's important … And actually, you've said this over the last couple of years through your email messages that you send out, that it's really important for career professionals to develop some type of entrepreneurial pursuit on the side.
Why is that so important today?
Well, I think there's a lot of reasons why it's very useful for people, even who have a day job that they love, to have a side income stream. Probably the biggest and most salient, from my perspective, as someone who got my start having been laid off from my job, is that it provides you with a backup plan, with a safety net.
If you have been cultivating something of your own on the side, you are not quite so dependent on that day job. And god forbid, if something happens, you have some alternatives.
In fact, in my new book “Entrepreneurial You,” I tell the story about a guy that is probably well known to people who are into the podcast world, Pat Flynn, who has a blog and a podcast called Smart Passive Income.
And the way that he actually got his start was that he was an architecture employee who lost his job in the recession of 2008. But fortunately for him, he had published an eBook, which had come out the month before he got laid off.
The eBook actually did so well that he realized, “Wait a minute. Maybe I shouldn't look for another job. Maybe I should pursue this. Maybe I should pursue blogging and podcasting full-time.” And so he started doing that and has built a really robust career for himself. But he wouldn't have necessarily gone in that direction if he hadn't been experimenting on the side.
So, risk mitigation is one important thing.
Another of course is that it's another way to bring in some income, which we can all use. Also, I consider it very much a form of skills building and professional development. It's a way that you can learn valuable things that you can bring back to your day job. And in fact, that sometimes makes you even more indispensable.
So, okay. Let's squash this excuse right now, because I can hear listeners saying, “That's all fine and good, but I don't have the time to do this stuff.”
You sent out an email, I think it was just last week, that was titled, “Why You Need 20 Percent Time and How to Carve It Out.” So, can you help those who are struggling with this concept of, “I don't have time.” Let's address how they can actually carve out time to do this stuff.
Yeah, absolutely. So, without question, everybody's busy these days. I mean, we're all assaulted with emails and meetings and obligations and things like that. But the truth is, some people are doing things and some people are not. And there may be extenuating circumstances. I mean, maybe there's some incredibly busy launch that you're in the middle of at work. Maybe you are caring for a sick relative that is literally taking all your time. If that's the case, okay, maybe this isn't the moment. But for the majority of people, we really can focus ourselves to be able to do this.
I get a little upset sometimes because you hear a lot of suggestions. They're just like, “Well, think about how much time you spend watching television and watch less television.” And it's like, “All right, whatever.”
Maybe there are some people that are still watching like five hours of television a day. And if so, yeah, maybe you need to watch less television. I watch maybe an hour of television a month. I'm already done with that. And many, if not most professionals that I know, have already cut out the fluff and the flab from their schedule.
But I think that the key thing and the way that I think about it is that it is useful to understand the time that you put into a side venture. If we think of it as this sort of separate, special thing, like “Oh, I have to make new time,” then you're just going to say, “Well, I don't have any new time, so I can't do it.”
What we need to think about is how we can use the same pool of existing time for more than one thing. And if we can leverage it better, I think that is the path forward. So, for instance, like podcasting is one of my very favorite activities. Interviewing people for blogs, let's say, is another.
And part of the reason that I like these activities in terms of thinking about ways to create side projects and side income streams is that you are literally doing, in this hour we're spending together, three things at once.
1 – You are networking; podcasting is a great way to network with people you want to talk with.
2 – You are creating content, which is valuable for spreading your brand.
3 – You are doing a form of professional development.
You can reach out with your podcast and anything you want to learn in the world, you can reach out and say, “Hey, person who knows about this. Let me interview you. Let me pick your brain, essentially.” But you're doing it in a way that gives them some value, because you're helping to promote and publicize them.
So, if we think about, “Oh, I can spend this one hour and I can get three distinct benefits from it,” that's when we begin to see that there actually are possibilities.
Ryan Rhoten: What is a portfolio career?
Much as an artist or graphic designer or whatever would have a portfolio, where they've got a whole bunch of different things and they're like, “Here, check this out, check this out.” They've got stuff to show you. In having a portfolio career, it's basically someone who has multiple income streams; multiple things that they are up to, and it's a great way of diversifying risk and opening up more opportunities. For instance, I have eight different income streams that I pursue, and it helps make sure that no matter what external factors are out there, that I have enough legs on the table that if one of them gets knocked out, it's not the end of the world.
And as you build this portfolio career, one of the benefits of it is you also start to begin to build a reputation for whatever your niche is or whatever space you happen to be working in. And most people that I talk to really struggle with writing, but I kind of feel like it's the core of getting started. And I think from your book, you may feel that way as well. Do you think that writing is good to help people start to build that reputation?
I think that writing is a really good starting place. I don't think it's mandatory, so if somebody is really like, “Oh, I hate this,” then that's fine, there are other options. What I would say is that for me, content creation is the key driver. And if you feel more comfortable doing videos or audio or something like that, great. Do that, no problem. But somehow, you have to share your ideas with the world. If you're going to get … I mean, it's pretty basic; if you're going to get your ideas recognized, if you're going to have people actually reach out and say, “Oh, that Ryan, I really like how he thinks,” well, you're going to have to put your ideas out there so that people can actually see that they like your ideas. That's the necessary first step.
Ryan Rhoten: So as you're sharing your ideas, do you think it's better to share your ideas on your own blog or on someone else's blog?
This is a source of debate or contention. I think there are multiple ways to do this right. Certainly, some people who have become very successful over time are people who have their own blog and have gotten known for that. Let's say a Seth Godin for instance, has been blogging for years, and many people go to his blog as a destination site. That being said, there is an argument for go where the people are. Meet them in a place that they're already at, especially if you are first getting started.
So, what I suggest is that you have a hybrid strategy. For instance, in my book “Entrepreneurial You,” I profile a guy named James Clear, who's been able to build up a massive email following. He has now like something on the order of 400 thousand email subscribers, which is just astonishing. And the way that he's done it is that he's blogged regularly on his own website, but then he syndicates that content to a variety of other sites; Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Lifehacker, et cetera. And always at the bottom of it, it will say, “To learn more, to get James' free ebook, go back to his website.” So, he's driving people there for the signups. So, it's kind of a both and.
Okay. Let me ask you this, because this is something that I hear a lot from people who are starting to blog or they're starting to really pursue a portfolio career. How does someone reach out to say, some of these bigger publications if they want to write for them? So, like Inc., or Business Insider. Do you just send somebody an email and say, “Hey, I want to write for you?” And cross your fingers?
Well, you certainly can do that. I have done variations of that. I would say the best option, if you have it, is to get referred by a friend or colleague, of course. So, it's useful to think about your social network, to scroll through your LinkedIn, to see if you know people who already blog for those publications. And if you do, reach out and ask them, A, if they have advice about breaking in, and B, if they might be willing to introduce you. If they are, great. That is the best way in.
If you do not have that option, then yeah, cold pitches are just fine. Your success rate is not necessarily going to be massive, but it's worth doing. In fact, this is a process that I went through. In late 2011, I decided that I wanted to start blogging for more publications. I was writing some for the Huffington Post, I was writing some for the Harvard Business Review at the time, but I wanted to add other publications to my stable. So, I went through a very detailed process, where I came up with a list of about two dozen publications that I would like to write for potentially. And these were business publications or they were websites for newspapers or TV outlets, et cetera.
So, I went through the process of number one, determining if they had a blog. Number two, if they did, did they take outside contributors for the blog. Number three, getting the email address of the blog editor and then writing a pitch letter and just saying like, “Hey, here's who I am, here's what I'd be interested in writing about, here's some links to past clips that I've done” so they can see the quality. And then just kind of waited to see what I heard back.
So, out of about two dozen, I had three responses. So, not an incredibly high hit rate, but not terrible either. But then it drops off steeply; out of those three, two of them pretty much stopped writing to me right away. They were like, “Tell me more,” so I'd give them a little information and then I never heard anything. But one of them actually turned into something. I ended up connecting with the managing editor at Forbes. They were, at the time, really making an effort to increase their stable of online contributors, so I got in early. And I ended up writing for them regularly for about three and a half years as a result of that. So, that was completely off of a cold pitch.
Ryan Rhoten:nnThat's awesome. And think about now, the other 23 people that you pitched and how they're thinking, “Man, I wish I would have answered those emails.”
Dorie Clark: Ha. They probably don't even remember that, but I do hope that you're right, Ryan. I hope that every day they're just gnashing their teeth.
I like that strategy, it's really good. And it's really good for a few reasons. One is something we've already talked about, but one of the things you mentioned before when you're talking about James Clear was capturing emails. I always hear from people, they ask me when I say, “You should start a blog, we should start moving you in this direction to help you get recognized for your expertise,” they always say, “Well when should I start collecting emails?” Should you start the day you start a blog or should you wait? When should you do that?
I would say pretty much right at the beginning it's a good idea to start collecting emails. However, there is a caveat, which is that if you were to just collect the emails and then not do anything with them, then that's not terribly helpful because people will forget pretty quickly that they have signed up for your email list. And then you email them six months later and they're like, “Who's this Ryan spammer?” You know, delete.
And so that causes problems. But provided that you have something to do with the emails; provided you have a strategy where you're going to reach out to people … It doesn't have to be that frequent, but let's say every other week maybe? Even … I think in general, people should email more than once a month, but even if it's just a monthly email just to stay on the radar. If at first you have a plan for that, that's useful. It's just a way of keeping people in your orbit as you mature as an entrepreneur. Then by the time you're really ready to leverage it, you've got an audience that you're speaking to, which is very powerful.
Ryan Rhoten: What do you see as some of the best ways to capture an email address?
Yeah, so this is important. You've put your finger on it, Ryan, in many ways. “Join my email list” is not, in 2017, a very compelling value proposition because people are already on so many email lists. I mean, we're begging to be off of email lists. I subscribe to a service called Unroll Me, which helps kind of bundle up emails and it helps you unsubscribe from spammy ones that you never even intended to be on to begin with. And it's now unsubscribed me from something like 17 hundred email lists. It's just astonishing. So, that's where people are; they're wanting to unsubscribe, not resubscribe to more email lists. So, the best thinking is that you really need to have a better and more of a compelling value proposition.
So, instead of “Hey, join my list,” you need to have something nice to give people, to incentivize them to want to do it. There are different names for it, but it could be called an opt-in, it could be called lead magnet, but essentially it's some kind of thing, typically a digital asset of some sort, that you would promise people that if they give their email address then they can get free access to that. So, it could be anything.
For instance, for my book “Entrepreneurial You,” I have an Entrepreneurial You self-assessment, which is 88 questions that helps people figure out how to apply these principles of creating multiple revenue streams in their own lives. Incidentally, if anyone wants that, it's at dorieclark.com/entrepreneur, so folks can see that. But other alternatives, it could be like a short eBook, it could be a series of videos that you've done, it could be … Maybe there's like a special webinar. It could be a checklist of something helpful, like a resource guide.
For instance, in my book, “Entrepreneurial You,” I mention the tools that I used to create my online course, “Recognized Expert.” And one of the points that I make, because you hear from people is like, “Oh, well, I couldn't afford to create an online course because it would be just obviously so expensive; all the tools that you need and all the filming and whatever.” So, I really make the point, no, it doesn't have to be expensive. I spent probably like 200 dollars or so on materials, that's it, and was able to create a nice course. So, I have a list of the tools that I used. If folks are interested in that, it's at dorieclark.com/videotools. But that's the kind of thing, depending on your topic, you might have a resource list like that. Those are all good forms of opt-ins.
Entrepreneurial You Section Two – Monetizing Your Expertise
Ryan Rhoten: All right. Let's move into part two, monetizing your expertise. I've got to say, you start out by saying, “You've got to charge what you're worth because that's the key to creating your long-term impact.” Okay. So, I just went solo myself in August.
Dorie Clark: Whoa! Congrats.
Ryan Rhoten: Not necessarily by choice, more by necessity. Let's just say that I can now relate to you and Mr. Flynn in the story that you told earlier. Right?
Dorie Clark: Oh no. Sorry, man.
No, but fortunately, I had been following your advice for the last three or four years and I was literally able, the very next day, roll right into what I'm doing now. So, I can tell you that as a new solopreneur, freelancer, whatever title you want to give me at this point, I kind of struggle a little bit with this charging what you're worth thing. So, I'm just curious, what advice do you have for people to really start to begin to determine the value that they can bring for the services that they provide?
Yeah. It is so fraught. It's a very complicated thing. And in fact, just before we got on the call, Ryan, I was typing up an email because a piece of mine came out today in the Harvard Business Review. I didn't come up with this title, they did, but they called it, “Why You Should Charge Clients More Than You Think You're Worth.”
Ryan Rhoten: Okay, so I'll just wait until that email comes out.
Dorie Clark: Yeah, exactly. Solve all the problems. So, yeah, just join an email list, kids.
Ryan Rhoten: There you go, yeah.
But it's very complicated. Partly because there's not a lot of market transparency. Like sometimes we don't even know what's appropriate to charge, and partly sometimes it's a confidence issue about like, “Oh my gosh, this seems so crazy.” I think back when I was a journalist, you know the job that I got laid off for, I was getting paid, I think it was 28 thousand dollars a year; that was my annual salary. And now, I'm getting paid not quite that, but not far from that, for like a speech. And it's just crazy to make that mental translation in your head, to be like, “No, it's okay to ask for that.” But really, other people are getting that. And to convince yourself is wild.
Ryan Rhoten: I can relate.
Yeah. So, I think that there are a few ingredients at play that can be helpful. So, number one is definitely trying to educate yourself about the market because if you know that other people are getting premium prices, it makes it feel less weird. That's sort of the dynamic, right? Is like if you look at somebody else … Let's say you're charging 50 dollars an hour, and you see somebody who's getting 100 dollars an hour, I think it's a lot easier to understand like, “Hey, I could charge 100 dollars an hour too, because that guy's not better than I am. I could do that.” It sort of empowers you.
So, part of the way to do that is to reach out and make … Really assiduously try to cultivate a lot of connections among fellow practitioners of your craft so that you have a better base of knowledge of people you can talk to about this. And some people might say, “Well, that's weird. Why would you make friends with your competitors or whatever?” You know what? No one's your competitor. No one is your freaking competitor. A rising tide lifts all boats, right? We have to look at the world that way, otherwise, we're going to drive ourselves crazy. So, I think the more we can have just a network of people that we want to help, it's great.
Online communities are especially great for this because for the people that maybe feel weird talking to another professional who has the same thing in the same town, fine. Make friends with another professional across the country that's doing it. But you want to get accurate information about rates and what people are charging. It's also useful if you have friends who hire people like you because they've probably seen a lot of information about bids and RFPs and whatever. They know what going rates are and they can help you with that.
The other thing that I would say and this is really a theme that I drive in my online course that I developed, “Recognized Expert,” which is about how to become a recognized expert. One of the best things that you can do early on is to overinvest in trying to develop so-called social proof, meaning credibility for your business because what justifies premium pricing in many clients' minds is essentially they want safe options. They want people where they feel like, “Oh, if I pick Ryan, I'm okay paying more money because I know he's going to be good. It's not like this crapshoot, I know he's going to be good.” So, we want to give them as many reasons as possible to believe that and to feel confident in that. This is where social proof comes in.
So if for instance, you have these affiliations that you can kind of draft off of, it becomes very powerful because folks feel like, “Oh. Well, Ryan's been pre-vetted, so I don't need to expend the cognitive energy vetting him myself.” So, that could be that you have worked for or consulted for brand-name organizations, you know, “Oh, if Ryan's consulted for Google, then that's good enough for me” or whatever. Or it could be having a leadership role in professional associations, it could be writing a book; that's a good one, it could be that you have certain perhaps industry designations or certifications, it could be sometimes an alliance with an alma mater. You know, “Oh, well he went to such and such business school.” It could be blogging for a publication that people have heard of. Any of those things increase your social proof and therefore increases the rates that clients are willing to pay.
I think one of the biggest challenges for me … Not now, because I've been working on this for the last three or four years, but when I first got started … And you actually recommend when you start monetizing your expertise, to begin as a coach or a consultant. And I think one of the things that people struggle with is, “Okay, but you know what? I know this subject and it's actually pretty simple.” So, what we do is we assume that everybody else has the same level of knowledge that we do. And I personally think in order to be able to even begin to think about charging someone money or working as a coach or consultant, you have to get past that mindset. Would you agree?
Yeah, definitely. I mean, we all have natural talents or things that we've spent a lot of time on. So, yeah, things seem simple to us, but it's really crazy how things are difficult for other people. So, I think about coaches that I've hired and I'm a believer in hiring coaches in general because it's like, how else are you going to rapidly uplevel your performance? You were alluding earlier to me being part of this musical theater fellowship program, and it's a very prestigious program in the industry. And I applied last year and I did not get in. So, I was going to apply again this year and I just said to myself, literally I'm like, “Well, in the past year, you haven't necessarily learned how to do it differently. It's not like I took a class or something where I've upleveled my skills. I would just be flailing around trying to do something different, but I don't even know what different would look like or what would be right.”
So, I thought, “You know? I should just hire a coach.” In the business world, that would be my advice to someone if they were in a situation where they're like, “Wow. I did this thing and it didn't work and I don't know what to do.” It's like, “Well duh. Hire a coach. That's what coaches are for.” I would tell anyone that in business. And yet, it took me a while to realize that in musical theater I should do that, too. But sure enough, there's plenty of people, especially in New York, that are very skilled in musical theater. And even if you're not in New York, you can hire on Skype. So, I hired a tutor and this woman was really able to guide me in terms of how to make my effort better. And I was then able to get into the program, which was amazing. But that was a triumph of coaching and being willing to learn.
You espouse all through all three books the importance of networking, to even be able to find the right coach for you. So, I'm wondering as you start out on your entrepreneurial journey, obviously, you can't monetize or coach anybody if you don't have clients. So, how important is networking when you're first getting started becoming an entrepreneurial you?
Yeah, so the way that I think about networking, it is something that early in your career, you should really over-index on. There are phases in terms of what you want to spend your time on and if you just network, network, network all the time, and that's like the primary thing that you do, that's great, but sometimes people get comfortable doing something and then they just keep doing it past the point where it's useful.
I think it's always good to do some networking, but what I am suggesting is that we think in terms of phases. And early on, I would say network a ton because you need to be meeting people, you need to be making these new contacts so that you know who to call when you have questions and other people know that you're out there to call you. That's really important. And then a little bit later, once you have met all of these people, then I think it's time to shift into the other elements of what I talk about in the “Recognized Expert” course in terms of the methodology of creating content, so that then people will know to come to you later on.
Ryan Rhoten: Now, do you consider speaking, creating content as well?
Dorie Clark: Yeah, yeah. I do. I mean, it may or may not be captured on video or whatever, but it is a form of publicly sharing your ideas. So, it definitely fits into that.
Now, one of the chapters in your book is about speaking. And if somebody wanted to get started in speaking, how do you recommend people get out and start to find places that they can speak? I know you spoke at a lot of places. How did you find all those places?
Yeah. So, one of the things that I talk about in “Entrepreneurial You” is I've created my own little framework. I call it Clark's Law of Professional Speaking. It sort of describes the process that everybody goes through unless you're already like a basketball star or something who's kind of parachuting in and everybody's like, “Oh, you're a celebrity.” But presuming you are a normal person, phase one is that just no one is interested in hearing you speak in general. Number two is that they're interested, but only if you speak for free. Step three is they are interested and they might even pay you like a little tiny, tiny bit of money. And then finally, step four, and you have to go through all the others to get there, is that they are so interested in hearing you speak that they are willing to pay your fee, they are willing to pay you what you're worth.
So, it's a lot of steps a long the way. So, for basically everyone, even if your goal is to have a paid speaking career, it starts with being willing to volunteer to do free talks. So, some early places to do it … I mean, for me, I would speak at a local chamber of commerce event when I was first getting started. There were civic groups. Where I was, it was the Main Streets organizations for local business owners. So I participated in events and workshops that they did. The Local First organizations. Again, these sort of small, civic associations or associations of business owners that would have things. I would do stuff like that, and I would raise my hand for them sometimes. They're not always going to come to you, especially at first. So, if you're on an email list and you're seeing, “Oh, we're having this day of workshops, blah, blah, blah,' I would volunteer and email and be like, “Hey, do you want me to do one?” And that's how you get the early practice.
Ryan Rhoten: Speaking of workshops, one of the other ways you recommend monetizing your expertise in your book “Entrepreneurial You,” is in-person workshops. How does one even go about organizing something like that?
Yeah, so in-person workshops are something that in some ways consider them a little bit of a later strategy, just as an FYI, because in order to get enough people to do an in-person workshop … We're assuming this is a paid one. You have to have a reasonably sized audience to draw from because you need enough people who are interested in the topic and then B, you need enough people who are available on that date and willing to pay whatever your price point is.
With that caveat, that it's not like the thing that I would suggest for most people on day one. The thing I would suggest for most people on day one is something like coaching or consulting, where you really only need like one client to make it work. So, for in-person workshops or things like that, this is something that I've started to get into in the past year or so. And I really treated it in a lot of ways as an experiment upfront, because I wasn't sure how it would go; and I'm still in many ways in the experimental phase of trying different things.
So, I had launched my “Recognized Expert” pilot course. I hadn't expanded it out and done the full launch yet, but I had like a 40 person pilot for it. And the pilot had gone really well, and the people who participated, they were just like bonding. We had this Facebook group and people seemed to really like it. So, there was a lot of interest. I kept hearing from people that they wished that they could get together in person. So, I thought, “Well, maybe this is an opportunity.”
So, I did … Before I launched anything, before I planned anything definitive, I sent out an email just to test demand. So, I sent it to the list of 40ish people and said, “Hey guys, I'm thinking of doing an in-person workshop. I've heard from some of you that you'd like to do this. I am contemplating doing it in New York City. Here's what it would be, it's going to be like a mastermind day and we're just going to do a series of hot seats where people talk about their business and we're all going to share ideas. And here's the price point. Who would be interested in this? Who's ready to commit if the date is right for you?”
I got a reasonable number of people raising their hands for it, and so I thought, “All right. That sounds pretty good.” So, for everybody who raised their hands, I sent out like a Doodle poll for the date, and I saw what worked for most people. So, I picked the date and I said, “Okay. We're doing it. It's going to be here.” And then sent around the link for folks to be able to sign up. Because this was a pilot, I charged less that I normally would and we were able to fill it just with a couple of emails, basically. So, it was a great experience and in fact if anyone is interested in the exact email, like the text of what I sent out, if people are interested in creating something like this for their own, I have that available at dorieclark.com/mastermindemail. And folks can download the script there.
All right. Let's move into the last section of your book here. And we already kind of talked about creating online courses. What are some of the benefits of creating an online course? And I guess I have another question, too, that which is, what could go wrong with an online course? How could you, quote, do it wrong?
Ha ha ha. Well, one way to do it wrong, obviously, is to spend a lot of time creating it and then no one buys it, which is the saddest …
Ryan Rhoten: Yeah, that happened to me.
Dorie Clark: Oh no. That happened to you? Oh, what was your course, Ryan?
Ryan Rhoten: Well, see, it actually still lives and exists online.
Dorie Clark: Okay.
Ryan Rhoten: It's just that I created the course right when I got started, so I had no audience.
Dorie Clark: Right.
I had nobody paying attention. But that was the direction everybody was saying, “Oh, you got to create a course. You got to create a course.” So, I created a course, and like I said, it still sits out there online, you can find it at thepersonalbrandingblueprint.com.
Dorie Clark: Right.
Ryan Rhoten: I haven't moved it or taken it down yet, but I think I sold like 10 seats and that was it. Now for those 10 people, they got VIP treatment.
Dorie Clark: Right.
Ryan Rhoten: But it went nowhere.
Oh man. Yeah, that is totally painful. So, what I suggest and what I lay out in “Entrepreneurial You” is kind of a formula, and it's the one that I followed as well, to try to avoid as much as possible the pain of that. I mean, of course, we can never control the universe 100 percent, but broad brush strokes, when it comes to creating an online course. The strategy that I followed based on the interviews that I did for “Entrepreneurial You” … Because in a lot of ways, I was writing this book so I could learn from the experts and then practice things. But it starts with number one, survey your audience to see what they're interested in because that's a really good starting point. Just kind of go from the ground up.
Number two; based on what they have told you that they're interested in, offer a pilot and just say, “Hey, I'm thinking of doing this. Here are the details. Who's interested? Who's willing to put down money for this?” And then you see, okay, do you have enough for the pilot? And if you do, great. You run the pilot, it's at a cheaper price, so that kind of the bargain is that people will get more time with you, more of your personal attention. But they have to give more feedback about what they want in the course, what's confusing, what they want less of, et cetera so that you have a lot of data.
So, you do the pilot, if that seems to go well, you advance onto offering your course. By this point, it's able to be pretty refined because you've already spent a lot of time with this pilot group in seeing what they like and what they don't. So then you put it out there and instead of what happens with most people, which is just like they tinker in their basement and they're like, “Voila! Here it is!” And then, you know, crickets. You have already been going through and cultivating this process, so you already have a strong set of data that is indicating that it will probably be successful. So, you're essentially trying as much as possible to de-risk the process.
Yeah, I think that was probably my biggest learning was … Well, I mean multiple things I learned when I failed miserably on that one was … But probably the biggest one was that I put out a course of things that I wanted you to know.
Dorie Clark: Yes.
Ryan Rhoten: Not necessarily a course of things people were saying, “Hey, I want to know this stuff.”
Dorie Clark: Yeah, yeah.
I could obviously talk to you about this book all day long, but one thing I want to touch on before we start to wrap things up is this concept of joint ventures. For those who don't understand what I'm talking about, but they've probably seen the emails, when you talk about joint ventures in your book, what are you referring to?
A joint venture is essentially where you enter a partnership with someone. Now, caveat, this should definitely be someone that you respect and that you have vetted their work to make sure that it aligns both content-wise and philosophically with your approach. But let's say that you and I were doing a joint venture together. So, if that was the case, then I would for instance, send an email out to my list and I would say, “Hey everyone, my good friend Ryan is doing a virtual summit and you can watch 50 videos of really interesting people. It's all free, check it out. Here's the link to sign up.” So, they get a special Dorie-affiliate link, so you track it back and people know that I … You know that I have sent you these people.
So, if those people later go on for instance, to buy the all-access pass to the summit. Let's say it's 100 dollars, 200 dollars, then I would get a percentage of that because I sent you those leads. So, people do joint venture arrangements for summits. Sometimes it's for online courses, but it's basically a win-win arrangement where I send you leads and then I get a commission as a result of having sent those leads.
Ryan Rhoten: Yeah, so did I mention I have an online course?
Dorie Clark: Hey!
All right. I'm going to go ahead and start wrapping stuff up here. And by the way, I love the way you end your book because you end it with … At least the way I read it, you end it with this question, which is what are you working for? And specifically, in that paragraph, you have a statement about your personal journey and your career, which is, “I had to be willing to give up the ghost of what I had imagined in order to grasp what is possible.” How often do you see new entrepreneurs or people that are just getting started really struggle or wrestle with that?
I think it's a great, philosophical question. I mean, many people, many of us … This is a human tendency, get wedded to very specific outcomes. And in all facets of life. “I thought my business would be this” or “I thought this person was going to marry me” or “I thought I was going to get this promotion” or whatever. And I think we all know intellectually, we can see it in our friends and family a lot easier than we can see it in ourselves.
At a certain point, you're just like, “Girl, he's not going to marry you.” You know? You've got to … You could be mad about it forever, you could be bitter about it forever, but it would be a lot more effective for you to move on and adapt and get to the next thing. Open yourself up for the next thing. And I think that the essence of entrepreneurship is this willingness to adapt, this willingness to reinvent yourself, this willingness to try things and say, “You know what? Great. I thought this online course was going to sell a million copies, but you know what? If it didn't, all right. I'm not going to just sit here crying. I'm going to try something else.”
You just keep rubbing that in. What I love about that is I have a … I don't know if you know who Sean Wes is, but I have a poster from Sean. I keep it right here by my desk. It says, “You are more than what you do. Your title does not confine you and your job does not define you.” What I love about that is how closely it correlates to what you're saying here. You've got to give up the ghost of what you imagined because a lot of people I've run into see themselves as, “I'm an engineer.” “I'm a product manager.” “I'm an accountant.” And they put themselves or pigeon-hole themselves into that, and they're afraid to see what's possible and go beyond it. And I think if people will remember that they have to give up that ghost of what they think they are or what they've imagined they could become, they can open themselves up to the possibility of becoming an entrepreneurial you.
Dorie Clark: Yes. Love it.
Ryan Rhoten: So, with that, I think we'll go ahead and wrap up. What are the best ways for people to get in touch with you?
Thank you, Ryan. Well, if folks want to get in touch, one way, of course, is to check out my book, it's “Entrepreneurial You.” The past ones for people who are interested in the complete collection are “Reinventing You” and “Stand Out.” And if folks would like to get in touch, learn more, on my website, dorieclark.com, I have more than 400 free articles that I've written for places like Forbes and Harvard Business Review. And that website, dorieclark.com is also the place that you can download the free 88 question Entrepreneurial You self-assessment.
Dorie Clark: So, thank you so much, Ryan for having me.
Ryan Rhoten: No, thank you. And I agree, it is a treasure trove of ideas and thoughts. Do you have any final thoughts you'd like to leave with the audience before we hang up here?
I think the most important though is when it comes to expanding out your business, being more entrepreneurial, you don't have to do 10 things. You certainly don't have to do 10 things at once. This is really about starting the process of just putting in place small steps that can really compound over time. And so when I think about my business and multiple income streams and stuff like that, it's not like, oh, tomorrow you have to come up with 10 new ones. Just pick one for 2018 and say, “You know what? I'm going to expand it to one more income stream.” And really learn that max that out. Say, “You know, I'm going to start the blog or I'm going to start to do coaching on the side” or whatever. You can grow from there. It opens up new opportunities. But it's … With each small step, it's making new things possible.
Ryan Rhoten: And it gets back to what you said at the very beginning; you have to start by doing.
Dorie Clark: Absolutely.
Ryan Rhoten: Dorie, thank you very much for your time. It's always a pleasure when I get a chance to talk to you and I appreciate everything that you do. Not just being on the show, but you're an inspiration to a lot of people.
Dorie Clark: Ryan, thank you.