Over the past 12 months, I’ve been working 1-2 hours per week on a side project.
I’ll reveal it in this blog post, finally!
First of all, here are my biggest lessons learned…
Clarity comes from Content Creation
When I started the project, I had no idea what my framework would be. I didn’t know how clients would work with me, or even what issues I would work with them on!
There was no training or certification that I’ve gone through. Nor have I intensively learned from any one coach/expert.
I simply had an intention to share my thoughts about personal/spiritual development, and let any clarity emerge from there.
To activate that intention, I committed to publishing a short article every week, consistently, no matter how good or bad it was, allowing quantity to eventually lead to quality. A few months into my project, I also added a weekly short video (using FB Live, so it’s easy.)
Clarity about my content, modality or “theory of change” did start to emerge, after publishing a few dozen articles.
Now I have a clear idea of what clients would do with me (if I accepted clients) or what courses I could teach there.
Clarity comes from creating content… don’t wait until your message is clear before you start creating!
Authentic Content + Facebook Ads does work to build a real audience
I also made sure that my articles and videos were seen by likely audiences, using Facebook Ads.
I made sure to exclude my existing audience (the fans of George Kao Page and those those who have engaged within the past year) -- because I wanted to experience building a new audience from scratch.
None of my friends, family, clients, nor colleagues knew about my side project.
FB Ads worked -- within a few months, I started noticing regular “likers” of my content, as well as commenters and sharers. This was completely due to Facebook Ads, building from zero fans and zero publicity, while hiding the page from my existing network.
You can do it, too. Especially if you have the help of your friends and colleagues, help that I didn’t have.
A quick glance at my new fans’ FB profiles shows me that I could definitely enjoy interacting with some of them, and would be happy to have them as clients/customers.
However, would they actually buy?
This remains to be seen, because I never had the time to do any audience research, nor did I create any thoughtful services or products.
During the 12 months, I did post 2 offers / calls-to-action, but each was done very hastily, taking only 15 minutes to brainstorm and post… all without any audience research or conversations.
This brings me to my biggest lesson…
2 hours a week is not enough time to build an authentic business.
Even if it’s a side thing, and even if it’s with a long-term view, 2 hours weekly doesn’t allow enough time to build an authentic business.
It's barely enough time to write an article, make a video, run Facebook Ads to distribute that content, and a few moments of brainstorming.
But it doesn’t provide the time to connect personally with audience members, to have client sessions, to develop products and programs, to explore partnerships. These are crucial activities that would have provided me the insights to really turn it into a business.
If I carved out 10 hours per week for that project, I believe I would make it productive, and build it into a revenue-generating venture, providing a part-time income.
Why was I unable to put in more than 2 hours a week?
If you want to build an authentic business, and yet, you have obligations such as a full-time job, are you willing to carve out at least 10 hours a week?
If you’re not in love with your job, then I hope you say “Yes, I will do what it takes to create a productive structure of 10 hours a week!”
How to spend those hours productively?
See my 4-step action plan for building an authentic business.
So now I’m going to stop the marketing experiment, and show you the side project:
It’s just a Facebook Page right now. I’m starting to put some writings on a Soul Gym medium.com account too.
The Journey Continues...
I’m glad to have been able to experience what it’s like to try to build an audience from scratch, in a different niche.
As I continue working with my own clients (as a business/marketing coach), I’ll continue sharing the lessons learned with you, so that you might benefit in building your own authentic business, too.
Now that I’ve unhidden my side project, I feel more integrated. I can start to talk about it openly. I can use my real name there. I’ll continue creating consistent content there, as my passion project.
Who knows what’s in Soul Gym’s future? No matter what, I am enjoying the journey.
George Kao is a Marketing Coach for small business owners, especially solopreneurs such as Coaches and Mentors. He focuses on ethical & effective ways to grow one's platform and build true livelihood.
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