I got an email this week, asking me if I could share a post or a podcast talking about how I closed my long-running membership site after 9 years, and what that feels like a year later. (BTW – if you’ve got anything you want me to write about or do a podcast about, just pop me an email! I love requests!)
So I thought I’d talk about that… and give you a long ass business overview as well while I’m at it!
So! I started my membership site back in September 2010. Back then, it was called the Goddess Circle. It started with access to a couple of courses and meditation kits. It eventually became the Shining Biz & Life Academy. I kept creating and adding more programs into it and by the end it had over 140 programs in it. For a long while there, I was creating one new course a month for my Academy members!
I taught tens of thousands of women through it, and it was a huge joy. It was hugely profitable – it brought in about $8 million over the years (!) and I had up to 80% of my members renew every single year… that’s totally unheard of in membership programs!
And then I had the soul calling to close it down.
I talked about my reasons I closed the Academy here – mostly I was just ready to change into a new business model of creating more intensive courses and selling them individually. I wanted to fully enjoy that creative wave of idea and creation and releasing it into the world and then hibernation again, instead of feeling like I was on a creative hamster wheel. I’d been doing it for nine years which is an absolute age in the internet lands! Plus, I felt like I needed to honour it for the gift it was. It was given to me as an idea by the angels. And I felt like I would be dishonouring the gift if I kept it going after getting the angels’ directive to close it down.
It felt scary to close it down – it was my biggest income source and my biggest creative dream. i’m definitely a financially risk-adverse person (even though my personality doesn’t seem risk adverse at all!) so I made sure I built up another income stream to replace the Academy before I closed it down. (You can find out more about my income streams & investment strategies in my Money course!)
Closing down the Academy allowed me to wipe the slate clean and simplify my business. I’d been on the path of right-sizing my business for a couple of years. I’d discovered through hard won experience that I actually hated managing staff, and really liked being able to do all the things in my business. I didn’t want to wait for a developer or specialist assistant or graphic designer to do things for me. I wanted to be able to use all the tools myself to launch quickly as ideas came to me.
I ended up killing off a lot of the software I was using (like Infusionsoft for my CRM and newsletter and Memberium for my custom-designed course website, Vimeo & AWS to host course content, Leadpages for opt-in pages). Instead I migrated to using one service – Kajabi which has CRM, course website, newsletter, opt-in pages, email sequences and website fully integrated. It ended up saving me a craptonne of $$$ – Infusionsoft alone was $25,000 a year for me (!!!) Their 24/7 chat support is fabulous too – it means I don’t have to pay an IT bro $300 an hour to problem solve, and instead it’s just me or my part-time VA chatting to their free support to get fixed. Between the two of us, we’ve managed to pull off what it used to take a full-time team of 10.
I decided to keep my main website on WordPress software for now just because I’ve got 2000+ blog posts on here already, and it would have been a pain in the ass to transfer them onto Kajabi. I use the Divi plugin on WordPress to make it easier for me to design and update pages myself.
If I’d kept doing the Academy, the transition to new software would have been much tougher… but making the change as I changed business models was pretty damn seamless!
The simplicity of our IT systems is pretty fucking stellar now. It’s meant I can come up with new ideas & launch them within days. I had the idea for the Money, Manifesting & Multiple Streams of Income on a Friday night, and by Monday afternoon it was launched in the world! It’s ended up becoming one of my best-selling courses… I fucking loooove running with random ideas.
I started creating new courses about 18 months ago.
In that time I’ve created 7 courses & programs:
- 40 Days To Finish Your Book
- 40 Days To Create & Sell Your E-Course
- Money, Manifesting & Multiple Streams of Income
- Anxiety Balm
- Soul Care For Uncertain Times
- Two short-term coaching programs – Goal Getter & Get Shit Done Club
And I also wrote/created 6 more books & products:
- SALT: an erotic novella (written under my pen name)
- 2021 Goal Getter Life Workbook
- 2021 Goal Getter Biz Workbook
- Goal Getter Weekly Planner
- Goal Getter Daily To Do List Planner
- 2021 Wall Planner
I fucking love making freeeee shit. I want to do so much more.
Here’s what I’ve given away recently:
- Quarantine Planner
- Poster of Austin Kleon’s creativity rules
- 35 Things To Do When Business Is Slow
- 6 Money Mistakes Women Make
- Cheatsheet on Surviving Financially in 2020
- 10 Productivity Hacks
- I’ve been interviewed on a shit tonne of other people’s podcasts from talking about birth to anxiety to business building & everything in between.
Other shit I’ve created & done
Just for fun, I also started a podcast: Leonie Dawson Refuses To Be Categorised. I didn’t want to make it perfect or polished or podcasty at all. I wanted it to feel like a chat with a dear mate over a cup of tea and cake, talking shit about everything and anything under the sun. It’s been bloody fun. It’s now got over 40 episodes & has been listened to over 20,000 times.
I did a complete rebrand & website overhaul to make it even more creative. I got photos done by the incomparable Michelle & Jacko from Eyes of Love Photography and website was done by Soul Stirring Branding. I’m probably due for another branding photoshoot… my VA is starting to get bored from looking at the ones we have everyday. HA!
My goal with business and money is to create more than I need so I can redirect those funds into the places that need it the most.
On the philanthropy front, just over the last year we’ve:
- donated over $17,000 to Australian Wildlife Conservancy (my goal is to hit $25,000 by end of year)
- fed a family of four for three months through Foodbank Qld
- donated $2,500 to Aboriginal & Torres Strait Island Legal Services QLD
- donated $1,000 to Healing Our Way
- gave 166 course scholarships to Black, Indigenous & People of Colour
- gave 200 course scholarships to frontline healthcare workers
- donated over 6,000 Goal Getter workbooks to non-profits to use with their clients
All in all, it’s been such a creative, fertile time for me. The simplicity of my business in terms of staffing and tech means that my time is freed up to do the things I love most of all: creating, connecting & helping.
More courses! Don’t know when or what… but they’re coming!
In the meantime, I’m concentrating on sharing the 2021 Goal Getter workbooks and planners with as many people as possible!
Let’s continue turning up and shining our light bright in the world.
To your shining success!