I recently had the opportunity to speak with Jenn Scalia for the Push Pull Sales and Marketing podcast, and in less than an hour she proved why she has been successful in this online marketing space. Jenn has grown her business from nothing to seven figures in just two years by helping fellow entrepreneurs accomplish their goals. Throughout the interview she shares practical strategies and advice that will help you grow your own business, which is always the goal of the podcast. You can listen to the full episode here, but continue reading for some great info!
Shari: It is always interesting and inspiring to hear how people get to where they are. What is your backstory? How did you get to this point?
Jenn: I love to share my story of how it wasn’t always so perfect, because many times we look at people who are successful and think that we don’t have the same resources or advantages. I started my business because I got laid off from one of the best jobs. Some people hate their job and use that as inspiration to become an entrepreneur, but I really loved my job and was counting on it to support my two year old son. When I lost my job, I didn’t just start searching for a new one because I was sick of how corporate doesn’t care about the personal stories of the people they are laying off.
Instead I decided to start a business in the midst of a lot of personal difficulties and without having an idea of what I wanted to do. My background was in marketing and social media so I began doing freelance work for small businesses. It was okay… It was relatively easy for me, but it wasn’t fulfilling, and I kept thinking to myself, “I’m doing all this great social media stuff and getting exposure for other companies, why can’t I do that for myself?”
Shari: Yes, I can totally relate to that. I went through a similar thing. I started my personal blog, MomShar.com, because I was tired of just putting all of my work into somebody else’s site. I still do a good amount of freelance work, and I enjoy it; but it is nice to have the balance of having something to call your own that you can build and grow for yourself as well.
Jenn: Exactly. So at that stage, I found someone that we both love, Marie Forleo. I instantly began absorbing everything she talked about like a sponge, and she was where I first found out about coaching. I didn’t know what coaching was at that point, but I loved the idea of helping people change their lives. So, as you can tell, there were a lot of stumbling blocks at the beginning of this journey for me.
Shari: I think that’s important to hear. A lot of times people feel like they need to have the perfect idea and plan before they start, but there are whole worlds of opportunity out there that we aren’t even aware of. I didn’t enroll in college picturing to end up where I am today. Instead you just do something. Do something that is the best fit for right now that is going to at least take you a step further down the path. That’s the only way that it’s going to snowball, and you’re going to keep finding those opportunities.
Jenn: I love that you said that. That is one of the most important things that I love to share with my clients and with my tribe is that you need to be open to change. Whatever you think you’re plotting and planning and putting a perfect little bow on today is going to completely change in a year, in 3 years, or even 6 months from now. Your ideal client could change, the way you work could change, your business model could change, your personal life could change. So being an entrepreneur, you have to be open and ready for change and be willing to roll with the punches. That’s totally part of it.
Shari: Absolutely. Especially in the digital realm. Gary Vaynerchuk often cautions people about getting romantic about the way that they do things instead of adapting to whatever the market demands. Go to where the audience is, go to where the interest is. Change as much as you need to with the knowledge that whatever you did before wasn’t a waste. You are still moving forward. I think it’s a frustrating thing, but it is also what keeps a lot of entrepreneurs going. I feel like we tend to get bored easily if things stay the same for too long. So that is definitely not an issue if you’re working in consulting or online type of stuff. It is always changing. The best advice today may not be relevant tomorrow.
Jenn: Exactly. Love it. So rocky start for sure, and then I started to shift who I was working for. I was working with women who were successful. Successful pharmacists, real estate agents, people that had careers that were really great at what they did. But I started shifting to working with entrepreneurs and helping them with their confidence and their self esteem and really helping them overcome their fears and doubts. That kind of snowballed from there. That’s where the magic happened.
I combined the coaching with my marketing background, and when those two worlds collided everything really blew up - in a good way. I think alignment is also a really important thing to touch on as far as what’s that turning point? From the struggle to really making it happen. I think you really have to be aligned with your work. You have to be aligned with your purpose, what are you really here for? Also, the people that you are serving. Are they the right people? Are they people you can really connect with or relate to?
Shari: Right. Do you feel like you recognized when that alignment happened? Do you feel like you saw it right there in the moment or was it that you were just getting results all of a sudden that it was clear that you were on the right path. What kind of clicked for you?
Jenn: Yeah, it was definitely the results. I was making about $5,000 a month as a life coach, which is nothing to sneeze at. Most people don’t make $5,000 at their regular jobs, but, for me, something was missing. I was just like, “You know, this is great, but I want more.” I was getting bored. I didn’t really want to write articles about confidence anymore. I was just getting to the point where I just didn’t think this was it. I think there was so much more and when that happened, the results were astounding, so crazy!
I doubled my income in one month from when I switched. Then the following month I quadrupled my income, and I was like, “This is insane! This is it!” All of that struggle in the first year and a half was worth it. I need to go through that mess and figure everything out before I could really skyrocket.
Shari: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a very clear sign. You can’t miss that. And you made enough pivots in the meantime and got enough experience to be able to deploy that against that new role.
A lot of times when I find that or the next thing, you have that burst of new energy where you don’t care that you’re working on something until 1 am. You’re excited to go do it. You’re thinking about it throughout the day. It’s definitely helpful in a practical sense to get you further because you’re willing to put in more hours, but it’s amazing what it does for your personally as well when you’re feeling fulfilled in your work life.
Jenn: Exactly. It doesn’t feel like work. I always tell people, “I want to come up with a different name for work.” Because I hate when I have to tell people, “I have to work today,” or, “I’m just working.” That’s not the word. It just does not describe what I actually do. I’m not working. I’m literally doing what I love. I’m literally living my passion and doing that every day, and I enjoy it. Work to me, seems like something people have to do, that they don’t really like.
Shari: Right, I know. I felt like I needed to correct myself this morning. I was talking to a friend and said, “I have to go record a podcast, I gotta run.” And I was like, “I GET to go record a podcast. It’s something I’m looking forward to.”
I wanted to shift a little bit. What are some of the most common questions you hear from people? You know, the most common struggles they’re running into, or the piece of advice you find yourself dishing out over and over again.
Jenn: That was a loaded question. I think that the most common thing that people are coming to me for, or if I put out a post in my group asking, “What are you guys struggling with?”, it’s typically just, “How do I get clients? How do I get in front of my ideal people? How do I get people to buy from me?”
I think that there are so many moving parts, so many things that we’re told we have to do as if there is a magic formula that will get you clients and get you paid. But it isn’t really about selling or “getting” the client. It’s about going out there and sharing what you have, what you do, and how you can help people. It’s about attracting the right people to you. It really is that simple.
I often have people tell me, “I am doing all the right things. Why am I not making money?” And my answer is that they are clearly not doing all the right things.
Shari: Or not doing all of the right things for themselves specifically. They are following somebody else’s pattern. How much do you recommend kind of staying in your own lane? I think there’s such a fine balance of researching best strategies and then deploying what’s going to be best for you. I think a lot of times we get caught up in “10 Best Ways to Grow Your Instagram Following.” When maybe you shouldn’t be posting 3 times a day. Maybe you should be posting 3 times a week for your particular business. Any recommendations?
Jenn: Yeah, I love that you bring this up because I talk about this all the time as well. Sometimes we see somebody that’s doing well, and we see what they’re doing. But we only think we know what they’re doing since we only see the outside. “Oh, they’re posting this many times,” or, “They’re launching this way,” or, “They have this certain Facebook ad,” or, “They have a 3 part video series.” Then we start to think that that particular thing is the magic formula.
The reality is that we have no idea what’s going on. We have no idea the strategy and effort that is going into those campaigns. It is a big mistake to start copy-catting. Instead, I totally operate on the feel-good philosophy. I don’t like to say that out loud too much because I think it sounds a little cheesy but, to be honest, I do.
For example, if you don’t like video maybe you shouldn’t do video right now. You should work on that skill and get used to it, but don’t just do video because everyone says you should. It you are not good at it right now, or it doesn’t come across as genuine, you are not going to attract the right people.
Shari: It could do more harm than good. There are situations where it would be better not to do anything than to do it poorly. That’s not to scare people away, but that’s just the reality of it, especially with something as transparent as video or live video. People can tell within 5 seconds whether you’re comfortable or not. Most people are nervous to do it and most people are nervous with public speaking and those kind of things. But there is a difference. We can just detect it and like you said, practice. It doesn’t mean, “Well, video is never for me.” It just means maybe you need to work on it behind the scenes a little bit more.
Jenn: Exactly, and to your point as well, do what feels good. So maybe video is not your thing. Start a podcast. Maybe you like talking. Maybe writing is your thing. Maybe writing is how you communicate with people. Find that thing that you are really good at, and the thing that helps communicate what you do the best and do that.
I actually started with a podcast. I had a podcast about two years ago because I was very nervous to be on video. Two years ago you would not have caught me dead on a video and now I do them all the time. I do my Facebook Lives and my group and things like that, and it’s because I got comfortable not only with just being in front of the camera, but also what I was talking about. So I’m so confident in what I do and what I share that it doesn’t matter. I can go on any medium and talk and share my story and be on stage or in front of the camera. But it takes that. You have to be really confident in what you’re doing.
So if you’re not loving video right now, start with a podcast. Start talking it out and as you get more comfortable then you can take those baby steps and maybe do a 30 second video on Instagram. Then you can go from there.
Shari: Absolutely. It’s such a good point too. The more you do it, the more you believe in the story you’re telling and the advice you’re sharing. It tends to flow more naturally. It is a skill to some extent. When you started out with your podcast, if you were talking that much and that often about what you think it takes to crush it online than it becomes second nature and public speaking becomes easier. Networking events become easier and writing about these things becomes easier. It all absolutely comes together the more that you work at it.
As far as things that might not be your strengths, or things that you feel like you’re not doing as much as you could. At what point do you recommend that people start outsourcing those kind of things? Obviously not video, you can’t really outsource video. But whether it’s hiring a VA or scheduling, using different scheduling tools or anything like that. Do you have some recommendations. When you’re a solo entrepreneur, at what point to you step back and say, “I need to find some help here.”?
Jenn: I think immediately. I hired my first VA about 2 years into my business, and it one of those things that I look back and really wish I had done this a lot sooner. The thing is that, even though we’re solo entrepreneurs, we can’t do everything ourselves period.
Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean that you should be doing it. I tell my clients to outsource whatever is going to stress them out or take them longer than it should. It could be creating a lead page, setting up email series, creating Faceook Ads, etc.
You have to see the value in your time. So let’s say you’re a coach, and you charge $250/ hour, and you spend 4 hours trying to figure out a lead page. That’s $1000 that you just basically threw out the window. Where if you pay someone $30/ hour to set that thing up for you, they do it in an hour, and you spent $30. It’s all about perspective. I hear from people all the time, “When I have money I’ll get a VA.”
Shari: But you’re not going to get to that point unless you get the help first.
Jenn: Exactly. So it’s like, the chicken and the egg thing. You’ve got to because you have to start to see the value in your time, right? You can be spending that time talking with clients. You could spend that time creating a launch plan or sales page or things that are actually going to make you money.
Shari: Right. Or, appreciating the value of having some down time. Taking the time to rest up and take a step back. If I feel like I’m hitting writer’s block, or I’m getting burned out, it’s because I haven’t taken the time to just live life. I don’t feel like I have any new material because I’ve been sitting with my computer. That’s not all that inspiring a lot of the time.
Jenn: You’re absolutely right. I just had a client the other day who sent me her entire schedule, and it was packed. Basically I told her, “You’ll get a lot more done if you take a bunch of stuff off your schedule.” I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but you need to give yourself some time. Time gives you the ability to refresh, get more creative, come back with new lenses and really be able to be even more productive.
Shari: Absolutely. Is there anywhere that you typically go, or that you recommend clients go, to either find a VA or find someone to do a lead page or whatever else?
Jenn: This is a great question, I’m so glad you asked it. I personally have my own VA and online business manager that I have sourced. One tip I want to give people: I would not go into a group and basically say, “Hey, I’m looking for a VA.” Or, “Hey, I’m looking to outsource.” Because you’re going to get a bunch of people who will say, “Yes, I can do it,” and, “I’m awesome, and I’m amazing,” and they’re going to let you down. I’ve heard so many horror stories with VAs. If anything, ask a friend. Ask for a specific recommendation. Has anybody worked with a VA that they love? Can you recommend her?
Also, Upwork. Upwork is a great site, and they have people who do everything. Anything from customer service to website development to designing a PDF. And all of those people have ratings as well so you can see if they are good, are they fast, what people think of them, how many hours have they worked, etc. It’s a great resource for one-off tasks. They’re not contracted. It’s basically, “Ok, I need this lead page done,” or, “I need this change to my website,” or, “I need this PDF made,” and you just pay them per project. It’s really cool.
Shari: That’s a really nice option to have. And if you’re looking for a long-term VA, many people are open to starting things on a trial basis, and you will be able to tell pretty quickly whether they’re going to be a good fit or not.
Along that same line, since that was a great recommendation, do you have other things that you use a lot. A book, or website, or an app, or an e-course, or something like that, that you feel brings a lot of value.
Jenn: One of the things that we’re using a lot in my business is called Groove. All of my emails get put into Groove, and my team has access to those emails as well. From there we can assign emails to certain people, set up automatic responses, or take notes right in the emails. It is a great way to keep your inbox decluttered and organized.
I also use Type Form a lot. I probably have about 100 Type Forms since I use it for everything - surveys, feedback, applications, etc. I use it for target market research, and I use it internally. I especially like that it has a modern feel, and you can customize them to match your brand and embed it into your website.
Shari: I noticed that your website is packed full of little quizzes. Right there on the home page, JennScalia.com, “Do you have what it takes to crush it online? Take the quiz to find out.”How are you coming up with those quiz questions? How are you incorporating it into the site? Do you outsource some of this usually? Are they successful in capturing important info?
Jenn: Yeah, they are very successful, and I recommend that all of my clients incorporate quizzes into their websites. It is something that is so fun and easy for people to do rather than having them download a whole ebook that they have to read through later. Instead the mindset of a quiz is, “Oh, a quiz! I want to know what my result is.” Then based on those results, I am able to better segment my lists.
You can have three different quiz results, and then three different funnels based on what result that person gets. Different people will be more responsive to different products, or maybe they are simply at different stages of their journey. I wouldn’t talk to a beginner the same way I would talk to somebody who is doing well in their business. The actual communication before the pitch is different.
Shari: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I have run into the issue time and again as a consultant for businesses who are not segmenting their email lists, and they are losing potential sales because of this one, simple issue. You don’t want people to wonder if this email blast is going to be relevant to them, you want them to feel like you understand them and are bringing them value with every single email.
Jenn: Exactly. I also feel that some people do not want to send anything to smaller segments of a list - why send it to 1,000 people when I could send it to 12,000? The truth is that the smaller segment is primed for that particular product so you will get a better result and better conversions by selling to the right, smaller list rather than blasting through your entire list.
Shari: Well, let’s wrap up… Do you have any final thoughts? Any tidbits that you want to share with our audience about how to become more successful? If you’re looking to build a business, and you are just starting out, what do you do?
Jenn: I think that the best thing to do is really just be yourself. I know it sounds corny and cliché, but people can sense when you are not being your true self - they can feel it. Don’t be sleazy. Don’t be a copycat. Come from a place of service and let people know how you can help them. I know too many people who start a business where money is the main motive, but if you come from a place of knowing your own strengths and how they can genuinely help others, people will come and hire you because of that.
Shari: That’s a good point too. We’ve talked about it on the podcast before, if you do have a mortgage to pay, keep that full time job. But do the side hustle as well. In that form, you have the opportunity to be really genuine and to be really generous with your time and information. Do what you want to do, even if it’s not paying you right now. Just get started with it. Start putting yourself out there. Start learning. And hopefully it will work out one way or another.