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I am joined by Kate Ahl, the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, and we're talking about her business journey.

Episode 10: Business Lessons from Pinterest Agency Owner, Kate Ahl

Are you ready to hear yet another way that you can grow a successful online business?

I am joined by Kate Ahl, the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, and we’re talking about her business journey.

While her business is different from mine, there are so many great tips on navigating business opportunities in the online space that resonate with me as an online business owner.

Kate Ahl is the owner and founder of Simple Pin Media, a Pinterest management and marketing company. Through their work with over 700 Pinterest accounts, they take a data driven approach to crafting a Pinterest strategy that aims to help their clients and students find their perfect person on Pinterest. Kate teaches thousands of people about Pinterest marketing through various speaking engagements and her podcast, the Simple Pin Podcast.

In Today’s Episode We Discuss:

  • The benefit of getting good at one thing and sticking to it
  • How people overcomplicate platforms
  • Why courses don’t always work out
  • The problem with chasing what everyone else does
  • Why you shouldn’t have imposter syndrome
  • An overview of membership profit margins
  • Becoming confident in what you teach and how you teach it

I think it’s so important for you to hear different ways that you can grow an online business so that you can find out which one is right for you.

Make sure to connect with Kate using the resources below if you are interested in growing your business through Pinterest!

Resources Mentioned:

[00:00:04] You are listening to the Empowered Business podcast, I’m your host, Monica Froese, a mom of two and your secret weapon to creating a six figure digital product business.


[00:00:16] I’m on a mission to help 1000 women make 100000 dollars a year. That’s right. One hundred million dollars towards financial independence for women. As an online business expert, I am teaching you everything I know right here week after week so you can join us on the journey to 100 million dollars. Sound good. Then let’s jump in.


[00:00:47] Oh, boy, do I have a special treat for you today. I am talking to one of my very best friends in the online space. Her name is Kate All and she is the founder of Simple PIN Media, which is a Pinterest management and marketing company. And through their work at Simple PIN, they manage over 700 Pinterest accounts and they take a data driven approach to crafting a Pinterest strategy that aims to help their clients and students find their perfect person. On Pinterest, Kate teaches thousands of people about Pinterest marketing through various speaking engagements and her podcast, the simple podcast. And let me tell you, Kate is one of those people that you just want to keep in your life. She is one of the most genuine people I’ve ever met in this online business world and truly is just so giving with her time and her knowledge. And I couldn’t be more excited to share this interview with you. Now, you would think because she runs a Pinterest management company, that we would be talking all about the mechanics behind Pinterest on today’s episode. But that’s not what we’re going to talk about. Instead, we’re going to talk about her business journey, because I think Kate has a very interesting business journey.


[00:02:04] And it’s just one more way that you can approach online business. So last week we talked with Brandi Myles, who helps people become service providers. And Kate is actually an agency owner, and that’s how she got started. So it’s just another way that you can build an online business. And I think it’s so important for you to hear all these different ways that you can grow a online business so that you can find out, like, do I want to start with digital products? Do I want to grow an agency? Do I want to be a service provider? And so I hope today that from hearing Kate’s journey, you’ll take away some key things about how to grow an agency if it’s right for you. And if you want to learn more about how to use Pinterest to grow your business, it’s a great place to do that. So we’ll link to some awesome resources at the end of the in the show notes and we’ll talk about that at the end of today’s episode. OK, so let’s bring on Kate.


[00:03:01] Ok, welcome, Kate. Thanks so much for joining us today. I am so excited to chat with you. I know for once you’re my podcast instead of me being on yours. Yes, that’s true. And I’m excited that you have it. Congratulations. I know. Thank you. Yeah. So I’ve been on your, like, what, three times? I’m like one of your honorary guests. I know you are one of the few repeats at three times, except every time we talk on yours, it’s always about like the mechanics of Pinterest. Yeah. We decided today we’re not going to talk about the mechanics of Pinterest. We can do another episode about that because I’m sure there are people that are interested about the mechanics of Pinterest for digital products. We’ll get there. But today I find that Kate has a very fascinating entrepreneurial journey, which I know very well. So I have to remember that I know it well. So I need her to fill in the gaps so that I don’t talk like you all know what I’m talking about. So to get started, can you tell us a little bit about your entrepreneurial journey and how you got to where you are today?


[00:03:58] Yeah, I started actually right after my son was born helping a friend on her Facebook page, because that was when Facebook business pages had started. And she said, I don’t have any time. You don’t have any money, so you should come work for me. So I found that I really loved it because it felt like a game to me in the way that you were trying to manipulate this engagement or you’re getting people to have conversation. And that comes really naturally to me to ask questions. It’s just I’m a fact finder. It’s just what I do. So as we started to get into it, she said, well, why don’t you start on my website, too, on my blog? And she had a Froogle deal couponing site specific to the Northwest. And she said, I really want you to focus on affiliate marketing. So she taught me all about what affiliate marketing was. And I have a degree in political science that I plan to be a teacher. So this was really just a stop gap to we are really stinking poor, we need something. So I started into it and I realized I love to affiliate marketing. I loved that connection with finding a product I knew could really serve people in an authentic way, not just like slapping whatever I could slap an affiliate link on. And so as I started to write over there, I started to kind of get this feel of what the online industry was like.


[00:05:06] And it was so fun for me. We just enjoyed it so much. So then twenty thirteen Facebook could changed the way its business pages were run and was really introducing the ads and you just saw the interaction plummet. It was like the Facebook apocalypse. Pretty much. It never is like where do I go, where do I go? Well, everybody was starting to talk a little bit about Pinterest, which had started in twenty ten as invite only twenty eleven. And people were like, what is this Pinterest thing? I use it sometimes for recipes, but I don’t really know how to use it for marketing. But people were talking about how much traffic they were getting. It was like, how can I take what I got with Facebook and make it happen with Pinterest? Well, the problem was, is that business owners felt exhausted at that point already. With this grind, especially in the Froogle deal, space of like post post post, like we were posting twenty five to 30 times a day getting these things out there and then getting them on social and it was a grind. So then when you went to Pinterest, it was, well, what do we put over there? Because it didn’t feel there was no time to it. It was very evergreen.


[00:06:06] So now it became you had to write a blog post and they were like, how do I write a long form post? And then how do I do this so late? Twenty thirteen. We had lost more money. I was sitting at her kitchen table and she said, Why don’t you manage people’s Pinterest pages? And they said, that’s a really stupid idea. I’m never going to do it. She was like, well, you don’t have any money so you don’t have an option. Was like, just got a good point. So I started investigating everything and I could I learn scheduling tools and I got three better clients and said, Tell me everything I’m doing wrong. Tell me everything I’m doing right. What do you like, what do you not like? And let’s just do it for three months. I’ll give you a super cheap price in exchange. You give me all the feedback that I need. I bought simple PIN Media the domain because I wanted it to be simple. I knew at that moment the stress that these bloggers and specifically were under and they needed somebody just to take it off their plate because they are reeling from the Facebook loss and they couldn’t really wrap their brains around like what Evergreen blogging and SEO and all of that look like, that they really just needed me to come in and take it off their plate and do it in a way where they felt caretake for where they understood, like, oh, somebody is actually working on my account and they haven’t just gone rogue or whatever.


[00:07:17] They’re actually doing the Best Buy my business. And so three months in, they were like, this is amazing. I’m going to tell my friends. And I was like, OK, like maybe I can take a couple more. He was still working for my friend Angela, who at the time. So I’m kind of navigating both businesses. And I have a two year old, a four year old and a five year old at home, too. So in between times and my husband trying to get jobs, it was just a crazy, stressful time, but I loved it. So probably about eight months in, my daughter was diagnosed with type one and we’re in the hospital. And I was like emailing clients. And I’m like, oh, my gosh, they’re going to be I’m mortified. I’m it’s weird now, looking back on it, feeling mortified about this type of thing. But you feel this pressure in working with clients to serve them all the time. But they were so gracious. And in that moment I thought I needed number two, I need a backup. I need an emergency person. And so I hired a friend just to pin, like, a lot of fashion stuff because she’s really into that.


[00:08:11] And then later that year, in November of twenty fourteen, my email box started filling up with a ton of recommendations like so-and-so mentioned you in their newsletter. I want to hire you, I want to hire you. And I went out to my husband, the living room. And I’m like, are we going to do this? Like, is this going to be legit? Because there’s a side hustle, right? There’s like funny money. Right. And I was making crazy weird money off of affiliate marketing, but it was very seasonal. So it would be this like bloated paycheck and then like nothing. And he said, yeah, let’s do it. And I hired a business coach because I was very aware that I just didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t know how to put one foot in front of the other. And so at that point, going into twenty fifteen, we basically said, let’s legitimize this. And I was afraid. This is so funny to say I was afraid to use the word agency for a long time. And I think I still struggle with it sometimes too, because that felt just so corporate and big and fancy. And I was just this mom working out of her closet in between nap time, but people were coming to me and that’s how I got started.


[00:09:15] Ok, so it’s been eight years since you first took on your very first Pinterest client? Yeah, I think what you said first, I want to point out the lesson in how an online business things change, because for anyone who’s like new to online business, back in the day, Facebook was like this open source to just get unlimited traffic. You could build up a Facebook business page and organically gain a lot of traffic for free, which is what you were helping Angela do with her deals. And then basically Facebook went the hey, you’re going to pay for us now. So if you watch the social dilemma on Netflix, they make a really good point that when you use free, open platform as a user, you’re selling yourself like it’s not free to use. You’re actually selling yourself. They need to make money. The way Facebook, Pinterest, all these platforms make money is they’re monetizing you as a user by serving you. AD So this is before Facebook opened up the floodgates of like, OK, now you’re going to pay to play. And of course, every time a platform opens up the floodgates or I should say closes the floodgates and makes you start paying another platform will always be on its heels because that’s what capitalism is. Entrepreneurs do this. And so Pinterest came in and they did not. When you started in twenty thirteen, there were no promoted pants. There was no hope for tithing. So it was the floodgates again for these bloggers to come in and get this free traffic.


[00:10:38] And essentially you sort of run well, you were you were like at the right place at the right time because you had this experience with. A blogger who is getting tons of free traffic and basically got caught off at the knees and she needed to go somewhere else, and there was this platform that was allowing you to recoup that traffic for her to a degree. And so you could work your way into being an expert, which is like a perfect storm and a lot of ways. Yeah. So, OK, I want to talk about the agency stuff now, because I do agree that I think there’s a lot of different definitions of what a marketing agency is. So when I put in my Fortune 100 career in tech, I worked at an agency that was actually owned by the company. So it was very strange because usually when you think of a marketing agency, it’s a third party. So if you’re a company, you’re hiring a third party agency to manage usually not just something singular like Pinterest, but like a media buyer who’s going to buy across all platforms, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, whatever else is out there at this point. And so I worked for an agency that was actually owned by the company. So our only client was the company I worked for. And so we covered everything from email marketing down to running the event. So it was very all encompassing. What I find fascinating about what you did, I would still say that what you have is an agency, a marketing agency. But what’s fascinating, and maybe it’s because of the online world being what it is, you’re not a one stop shop. And in fact, you only did organic Pinterest for a very long time. So you are super narrowly focused. So I guess that leads me to the question is, do you think because you were so singular and narrowly focused that it allowed you to grow a lot faster?


[00:12:16] Yeah, I do.


[00:12:18] And I think there were a lot of times that clients would come to us and say, I’m having such a good experience with you. Will you please manage my Facebook page? Will you please do Instagram? And I’m like, I can’t, because if I try to go into Instagram and I try to go into Facebook, we become spread too thin and we no longer be good at we no longer are good at that one thing. And I wanted to be known for being good at Pinterest. I wanted to go deep. I understood it. It made sense to me. And even though I had done Facebook marketing, that felt like such a game to me and it felt like there were so many rules and the rules were changing every single Tuesday that for a long time. And I would say even still, Pinterest is very predictable for the marketer. There are some tweaks, obviously, that you can do, but the foundations of how they work have very much stayed the same since twenty, thirteen, twenty fourteen really when they did the smart feed. And so once you knew those things, you can really help settle people. And that’s what I also felt like I did, was I talk to people off the ledge of this social media angst to go, we’re not Facebook, we’re not Instagram, we are just Pinterest. And so here’s what I need from you. Here’s what I’ll do for you. And that worked. And so, yeah, I think that it helped a lot to be very nesh and to be one of the first out of the gate. And now I have all that history, too. That’s the other thing, too. Like I have a lot of history with Pinterest to go. I see the path and I see the changes and I can help you navigate that because I do know where they’re going and I’ve seen it before. But we can still this can still be awesome for you. Let us help you do it.


[00:13:57] Ok, so now and I mean, you see it on Pinterest. I also I think tactics change. Strategy doesn’t. Pinterest is a search engine at its heart. And so at the end of the day, you have to get found with keywords. And if are people searching for what you were pinning, I mean, that is like the basic question. This is what it comes down. I don’t know why people get so obsessed with things. Of course, things do change on Pinterest with how much you should be spending and not. And like Pinterest changes rules, they change their algorithm to the point where they favor certain types of content, whatever that’s going to happen with any platform. Honestly, at the end of the day, all it matters is someone has to be searching what your opinion is about. And if they’re not, you’re not doing it right. It’s kind of what it comes down to. I don’t I feel like people overcomplicate it, but it’s the same rules apply with Google and YouTube. Yeah, exactly. And I’m not saying that it’s necessarily the easiest thing in the world because things will always change, but I think it doesn’t have to be as complicated as some people like to make it. That’s where I mean, you definitely agree. OK, so back to your story in twenty fifteen. That’s when you decided, OK, this is going to be a thing. We’re going to make this basically like in an official agency, we’re going to hire people. And I know from following your journey for so long, this happened rather fast. I feel like you went from having a couple of people to having quite a large team. So I want to get to the point where we talk about where the intersection happened between your agency got to a certain point where you were taking on so many clients and learning so much, you had this benefit of getting all this data from all these different types of clients, different niches. And you aggregated that to be able to become a teacher to other business owners. So how did that where did that Crosspoint happen?


[00:15:39] Right. That was probably, I would say six months into twenty fifteen with the coach that I had. His first job was really. To say, like, how do we build foundations, you have no structure, really, I mean, kind of did, but I have like a binder right where I would, like, write things. And it wasn’t even digital for a little while just because I needed to capture notes in the moment. And so I just wrote them down so that first six months I was really setting the foundation. And then he said, OK, you have all this data. And that was one thing too, was how do you collect data in the right way? And he said people want to see the numbers. People want to see the data that they want to know what you have. And I have this hard time taking the numbers that I had and really translating that into a consistent theme for people. And what I realized was that there wasn’t and that was actually what I could teach was that if you’re looking for me to give you a one size fits all, I can’t because I see too much. That was the thing that really I was frustrated with because I saw everybody talking about their experiences with one account and I could look to the 15 or so accounts I had at that point and say, that doesn’t hold true because I have this proof to show you that it doesn’t hold true.


[00:16:46] And so I felt this frustration between how do I teach this? Like, how do I then take that and go, here’s what I’m finding and not sound like a total jerk to to say, like, here’s stuff is wrong. It’s right for them, it does work for them. And when you singularly look at an account, that is the most important thing, because that is what’s going to drive your information. But then as you grow and grow and grow, now we’ve worked with, I don’t know, six or seven hundred accounts. You just see so much that, you know what’s coming down the pike and you can start to predict. And so that data really drove a lot of what I was going to teach. And that’s when we started to think about the podcast and blog post, too, and Google. So that went into like May of twenty sixteen was when we launched that.


[00:17:30] So you had a big free Facebook group, which was like the Pinterest Facebook group for bloggers on the Internet for a very long time. I think for as long as I’ve been doing Pinterest, which recently closed comments. So don’t try to find it. You can’t. We’ll talk about what Kate offers now, which in my opinion, is a lot better. So there is something she offers. But that big Facebook group I know you told me you inherited it.


[00:17:52] I did, though, and that was twenty fifteen. You’re right. So in my search to figure out how to do Pinterest, I came up with these small kind of underground group of people who are also trying to figure out how to do Pinterest. And it was a secret Facebook group at the time run by a woman named Jill, and she had it for a long time in early. Twenty fifteen. She said, I don’t have passion for Pinterest anymore. The smart feed had been introduced and it had kind of spun everybody on their side. And so she said, can you just give it to you? And I said, sure, I’ll take it, because it only had I mean, it was still secret at the time. So you couldn’t find it on Facebook at the time. Secret groups. Now you can find anywhere. But at the time you had to be a friend of somebody so they could actually invite you to this group so you could see it. It was crazy. So I turned it into a public group, but it was still private, right. You had to request to join. And then I started to think about strategically, OK, I want to know people’s analytics. Now, this this is not about self promotion of simple print media. This is OK. I have this data. Does this data line up with what other people are experiencing? So not this sounds very manipulative, but it’s not. But how do we get people to be collaborative and sharing of their screenshots and their data so that we could put our heads together and see what’s going on? And what resulted was everybody saw what I saw, that you couldn’t take what you were doing and learning and have it apply to another account and have it work, especially food to DIY. I mean, you just couldn’t do it. So, yeah, I grew from I think I got it at like three hundred and fifty people closed at twenty thousand, which was a smart decision.


[00:19:32] We actually can do that too. So OK, so you have a free Facebook group where basically they’re not your clients. There are other people who are trying to run Pinterest for their own businesses and they want and bloggers just do it. Yeah, yeah. Bloggers mainly, I would say probably bloggers were like the stronghold in the beginning at least. Yeah. So you have a free Facebook group, you have a podcast that you started working on and then somewhere in here you decided to do the one thing that we both decided is a bad idea when it comes to platform specific things, which is you launched a series of courses because I had them back in the day. When was that? What made you decide to go the course route?


[00:20:14] It felt like the thing to do, because that’s when a lot of the digital products really bursting on the scene. You had some people who had been doing them and you kind of heard this like wild, wild west of products like you can make all this money bulba. So it felt like, OK, if I’m going to teach it, how am I going to teach it? A course seems like the best route. And I saw other people making a lot of money. So it probably I think it was August of twenty sixteen right up for the podcast. I had created the course. I put it on teachable. Put everything in there, but I quickly realized that I needed a community component, but I had this free community, did people want Facebook groups? It just became so muddled for me that it was it was hard there because all of a sudden, this is another thing that I experienced as growing this agency for that previous two years. I was very much dedicated and devoted to clients. And not to mention at this point I 15 team members. So I’m also navigating how to help my team members really manage for people and train them and manage my inbox and all of that. And now I have this course and now all these people want something from me and I struggled with this. If I give my students stuff, do my clients feel like I’m taking from them or does my team feel like I’m taking from them?


[00:21:32] And who do I serve here? And it just added another element into my business I really, really wasn’t prepared for. But I did it because everybody else was doing it.


[00:21:41] That’s the truth. Yeah. And I can appreciate that, because if you think about this, you have a team of 15. You’re accountable to your clients first and foremost, because your business foundation was running Pinterest accounts for clients. You’re accountable to your clients getting them results. And now you’re leading a team, I mean, leading a team and running a business in and of itself. That’s why we have CEOs in the world is a full time job on its own. And as someone who ran for Pinterest courses for four years, that was my job. I did not have time to be. And we’ve talked about this team building. I didn’t have time to be the CEO because I was too busy keeping updated on everything that’s going on on Pinterest so that my courses were super relevant. And it became a vicious cycle of burnout, which I’ve talked about in previous episodes of Why pivoted away from because, you know, you don’t control Pinterest changing. So you had already two full time jobs really running the agency, running your business and having your team and getting all the foundations running. And then you took on this course component and something that was going to change all the time because in 2016 they had just really released promoted PIN. So that was coming on, which is a totally different algorithm than organic. And of course, people were very curious about that. Was it going to be the death of Pinterest now that they’re going the paid route, although they were very slow compared to Facebook. But is the advantage Pinterest move slowly? Yes, they do. They move slowly, which kind of goes with the whole content. Facebook content disappears and Pinterest content lives on forever. So how long were the courses at play for before you decided to shut them down? Yeah, they were. Let’s see, it was about two years.


[00:23:19] And I will say this, and I don’t know if somebody listening needs to hear this, but the entrance of courses into my business brought the entrance of imposter syndrome. I never had that before I wrestled with. I still do. In fact, we were talking about this last week at my mastermind. It brought in a new element of it, just this comparison trap that was just was and has been very paralyzing at moments. And I remember launching this and then I even tried to launch workshops there in twenty seventeen to because I thought, well maybe there’s a different model I remember and a coaching call telling my coach like I can’t believe it. I only made like ten thousand dollars off of this. And this other person had an income report and she made like ninety thousand dollars and I was just like devastated. And I remember he looked at me, he was like, are you crazy? Are you crazy? It was the tough love that I needed. And he said, How much are you making off your clients? And I think of the time it was like three hundred thousand a year or something like that. He was like, you don’t have her business. You are comparing apples to oranges.


[00:24:25] So literally everything you make on courses is kind of gravy for you because you’re already making all this money off recurring income, recurring income. Let’s just say that instead of a one time sale and I just was chasing too much of what everybody else was doing that that opened that door to just this. You know, I think that we talk about imposter syndrome when people talk about it a little bit, but like what it can do to us kind of internally and how it kind of is this weird companion that you kind of have all the time that you have to undo. Course has brought that in for me. And I wish I just would have seen it a little bit differently in hindsight. So twenty sixteen. I brought it in. Twenty eighteen I closed it and I decided it was too much between the navigating of both sides and who was going to do what and what team member was going to be helping with what it was. It just was kind of a mess. I think the content was good. That wasn’t the problem. It was me internally not feeling like this fit like a glove.


[00:25:27] Well, and that kind of makes sense because I know all the Pinterest courses that were out there and some of the launches that you’re talking about and how they are, we don’t know how much they’re paying adds. Let’s keep that in mind. When people with high launch numbers I had a really high launch number myself this past January, and I was telling my husband, I don’t talk about exact. Numbers, I just don’t feel like it’s anyone’s business and it’s kind of like, I don’t know, it just feels weird. I usually keep it percentages, but I got my panel back and I was like, I’m telling you, if I told people how much I made off this launch, they would assume that I spent a crap ton on ads. And in fact, I didn’t. And it was a super huge profit margin. And the reason I don’t I don’t really want to talk about it publicly is because there’s just such a misconception that it makes me so mad. So when these people were having these big Pinteresque launches, we don’t know how much they were spending an ad spend and also to point out that was their entire business model. So to the original point I was making, that you really were wearing three full time hats. Of course, you couldn’t put that kind of attention to make it at ninety thousand dollars launch, even if it was without ads, because you had to keep your clients happy, you had to keep your employees happy and you were really rapidly building on that side of the business.


[00:26:36] So, yeah, impostor syndrome is something that I deal with a lot of new people to digital products now. And I’m constantly reminding them, and this is a truth. Every single product I’ve ever put out and I don’t know, I’ve done like between low end digital products to high end digital products, 50 to 70. I mean, I’ve launched tons of things over the years. I think every single time I have a bout of imposter syndrome, every single time, because I’ve kind of come to the point where you just have to acknowledge that someone’s always going to have something better and someone’s always going to have something worse. Like, it just kind of is. It’s not about that. It’s about that you have your own unique spin to it. I’ve tried to remind myself that people don’t buy from me because mine’s necessarily the best. It’s because they want to learn from me, because how I teach resonates with. Yeah. And I think that for you, very true, because you have a very stable outlook on Pinterest. You’re not into the whole what’s happening this week.


[00:27:27] Let’s hack this thing. And that’s fine. There are people I have a very good friend who is all about hacking Pinterest and she tells me very interesting things. Yeah, but she’s in it every day, whereas we take a more longevity. So it’s like you figuring out someone, a consumer. Do you want to deal with the longevity side of things or do you want to deal with the super ups and downs on the tactics side every day? And that’s something for a consumer to decide. That’s the beauty of the fact that you shouldn’t have imposter syndrome logically, because the way you teach is unique and there’s going to be a huge segment of people that resonate with that. And they’re going to be a huge segment that don’t that want the immediate like, OK, tell me what changed the last twenty four hours. Like, no, I can’t do that. Me neither. So OK, so we retired the courses in twenty eighteen and then I feel like you had a lull when it came to the teaching side of things. You still had the podcast going, you still had the group but there was a lull. Right. There was really nothing. You were selling from a teaching perspective and digital products for like maybe a year.


[00:28:30] Yeah, about a year. We really, really focused. Well, our primary focus with the podcast is always been getting people familiar with how I teach. But then. So everything is converted into an optimized blog post. So we were getting a lot of Google traffic. That’s our number one traffic driver. So we wanted to look at that and really spend a lot of time growing our email list. Think about how we could really connect with people and nurture them. And we knew that if people got really good at Pinterest, eventually they’d make enough money and then they’d hire us. So that was kind of our ladder there and why we were using things. But I still felt this ache to teach and we still had that big free Facebook group. And it was like, OK, this is this is where we’re investing in our teaching, but we’re not really being compensated for it. And this group was costing us so much money in the way of moderation. And a lot of people have big groups and they can work very from the get go. The culture of the group was so important to me. Like I didn’t want anyone complaining. I didn’t want anyone dogging Pinterest. You could say you were struggling, but we delete and ban people who would go in there and be like, Pinterest sucks, but it’s like that is not productive. I don’t have room for that in my life and I don’t have room for you in this group. So May of twenty nineteen actually. March of twenty nineteen.


[00:29:41] I was in Mexico with my mastermind and I was like, you guys, I’m really struggling like this. Teaching part of me is in here and I don’t know how to do it in a way that feels like it’s not, of course, video all the time. I’ve talked about that. It’s so labor intensive, especially with Pinterest changes. You can record a video in two days later they change the button and that sends people being mean if they can’t find the button. So we were we are in the pool and they were like, you need to do a membership. And I was like, what in the world like memberships are for? They’re just not for me. They’re for like products or whatever. They were like, no, I think you could do it. And we came up with the name The Collective, and then 90 days later we launched the membership. Oh yeah, I QuickStart, which is I’m not a QuickStart on the Colbie, but I’m starting to think that I’m a superhigh follow through. If I see how it makes sense, I’ll do it. But if I can’t see how it makes sense, I won’t do it. I should also say right about the same time we launched our promoted pins advertising like division of our Compa. And that was hard for me, too, because you and I were talking about this before on the Strengths Finder, I’m not strategic. I’m not strategic at all. At all. So getting somebody into the Department of Promoted Pins was important and I needed to let somebody run with that.


[00:30:58] So that required me to really turn into a coach at that point of somebody. But the membership allowed me to teach in real time without this, I guess, labor intensive updating videos all the time. And we created the first year of content as we went. And now we’re almost into year two and the learning library is there. So then we added the component of coaching and mentoring. And I was also knew I had to get people to help me. And so we very strategically curated mentors and then some of my team members. So there’s about eight people who help support the membership without me. And that’s sometimes hard because I feel like I’m not giving a lot. But I also recognize my role has really changed in the company and it’s really become so much different. And what I give them is what I can give them. And it’s all of me every time. And I’m giving them the best that I can. And I’ve finally settled into a place that says the membership is perfect for simple pin. And how I invest in the membership is perfect for simple pin. And I’m not going to compare it to somebody else’s business because very few people have a business model like mine. There’s maybe like one or two that I know. I’m sure there’s more. Right. But one or two that I can look to and go, oh, you have a model like mine. I know your mental struggle because it’s a lot.


[00:32:13] Ok, so first thing about memberships is the obvious, where of course you typically get paid once and you know, and that was revenue on your books once. But a membership is recurring. I could hammer this home or ever, because it is super important that if you’re going to be constantly on the hook to provide the latest and greatest to only get paid once and have to do that perpetually, it’s backwards business. I who I could say a lot about my feelings on the online course model being very, very backwards and wrong and making no logical business sense. This whole idea of lifetime, anything. Oh gosh. Is crazy. So I think that’s a whole separate podcast episode that I have to have at some point. But I mean essentially you recognized. So when you have a platform like Pinterest, it’s changing all the time and you were constantly updating it. But these people paid you for the access to the course once. It was really for so many reasons, a losing model on top of the fact that you had this other side of your business. Now we go to the membership route where people are basically you’re only getting as long as you’re paying. That’s the beauty of memberships on top of it being a better way to deliver the content because Pinterest is dynamic. Was that your major reason for going the membership route?


[00:33:25] Yeah, because I had already seen recurring revenue. I had it for years. That was the model with clients. And a lot of people kind of dog this agency model as a training time for dollars. But it’s math, right? You can figure out a way to make it work. I don’t manage client accounts anymore, obviously, because I can’t anymore. I don’t have that capacity because I’m leading a company. But even when I was right above the people who were doing my account specialist, you can figure out a way to still make money off that, that once you scale that, that’s how you make money. So then we looked at the membership site and the recurring income. The profit margin is way higher because you’re not having so much team over there. So it can be productive. And yeah, it’s recurring. It’s predictable. I hated these bloated things in my business because not only would it like I would have this huge thing, it would be so awesome. But then I’m like, oh, now I have to go back to the lifetime thing. Now I’m on the hook forever. Right. And you don’t want a forever course and Pinterest, you don’t want lifetime access. You know, people still ask me.


[00:34:30] They’re like, I have your old master course, which they don’t anymore because we shut down. But they said, can I go back and do it? And this was like twenty eighteen or even twenty nineteen. I’m like, I created that course in twenty sixteen and sure I updated it. But I’m going to tell you right now, no, do not go back there. And I don’t think unless you’re teaching on something that can be more evergreen, of course might make sense. Right. But on a social media thing, no way. And I wanted to be able to pivot in real time. I wanted to go, oh, this doesn’t work. Or I wanted to truthfully and this is why we shut the Facebook group down, is I wanted a place in a community where people could flesh out these changes together where we could. You can’t take a change on Pinterest and do a module. You just can’t because you need to let the glitches work out. You need to let Pinterest figure out where it’s going to go and where it’s going to land. And that can take six months. So if it releases remember Pinterest communities. Right. Whatever that thing anymore was short lived.


[00:35:31] Yeah, exactly. And like, I’m going to create or even did podcasts or whatever.


[00:35:36] It doesn’t work. How many people. And I had it even though my focus was on Pinterest ads, I still got, of course, organic Pinterest. How many people emailed us and said, what are you going to talk about communities? I said, I’m not because I know it’s not going to make any sense. And we were right. I have a very strange ability to call things like two years before it happens. But that frustrated some people because they thought that I owed it to them, which was kind of crazy. It’s like, wait, you paid once for a course three years ago. I don’t really owe you anything like that. Very strange mentality the way the online course industry works. OK, so membership’s though. Here’s the cool thing. In my opinion, with a topic like Pinterest membership for all the reasons I’ve already mentioned. But even one more is that what you’re allowing people to do is be present when they’re working on that as a skill in their business. So the reality is, is that.


[00:36:27] Most people who are in business to keep not just they’re not just doing a side hustle, it’s not just like, oh, I do this thing in the margins when my kids nap, if they’re treating it like an actual business and they’re looking for consistent year over year growth and hiring team. The reality is they’re going to come in for a very specific amount of time. They’re like, OK, my company needs to grow and learn Pinterest right now and I need to get it on a basically an evergreen be able to turn for us. This is not going to be my focus for two years. And a membership allow someone to come in and pay when they need the help and the content to learn it and when it’s time for them to move on because they’ve mastered it. Their company got to the point where they needed to with it. They know enough. Then they start paying you. You stop having to support them. And it’s really like it’s beneficial for them. It’s beneficial for you. It’s just smart all around, in my opinion. And I can’t believe it’s been two years. I feel like you just opened it yesterday. It feels like four to two years ago. I know. I know.


[00:37:24] Where did two years ago and we’ve learned a lot about memberships and we spent a lot of time caretaking less on the content, which I feel like you do with the course and more on the people and serving them and asking them questions to say, OK, what do you need? How do we help you with implementation? How do we help you connect when you come back in? How do we get the information to you in such an easy way? Like we’re very strategic with our emails that go out every Sunday, our links, our orientation of the membership. And what’s cool now is now we’re starting our ads membership. Right. But we’re able to take all these things from the collective. In fact, we were talking about yesterday, all the things we kind of wish we would have tried and try it with this. And there feels like this less pressure. And we go, this is our model. We’re going to test this first. We’re going to go this route on this price. We’re going to try and open close car model, which we don’t have with the collective. And now we get to compare. And I think that is also a freedom from the imposter syndrome because it’s nobody else’s model but simple pins model. And the only data we get to compare to is what we see in our numbers instead of what I read in somebody else’s report.


[00:38:36] So essentially now than eight years in, you have almost four sides of the business. You have an organic Pinterest management, you have a paid promoter, PIN Pinterest management. That’s agency side where you help clients and you have separate teams that handle each. Then you have organic Pinterest membership, which is the simple PIN collective, and that really steered away from promoter pins for the most part. Like you touched on a very high level on promoter pins in that. And now you’re seeing and I’m so happy that you’re doing this because, I mean, I blew up my Pinterest ads course and, you know, I still get tons of emails about the number one question I get, of course, as well. Who do you recommend me to now? It’s a wide open space and threatens to fill it, have something to recommend. And now you’re filling it with a model that you now know because you’ve done this. I think it’s so important for people to get on. They’re doing digital products, trial and error, like the course model didn’t resonate with you. It didn’t work out and you didn’t give up like you just took you step back, gave yourself time to reevaluate, try it again. And now it’s working so much so that you’re going to go ahead and create another membership and mirrors your agency perfectly because you have two sides there. Now you have two sides teaching. So, I mean, it took eight years. So, yes, people have years really understand that in some ways it’s weird because I try to explain this to people in the real my real life that it seems there’s a level of it seems crazy easy, almost like, wow, I can’t believe I built this. And it seems kind of fast. But in essence, you know, it’s not that fast. It’s consistent building blocks and being willing to try different things. And and so many people are just so quick to give up on their first thing doesn’t work. I feel like you’re a really great lesson in consistency and just keep going. Yeah, well, thank you for that. I would agree.


[00:40:25] Yes, it’s the keep going and it’s the powering through all the lessons you have to learn about yourself. And I think nobody talks about that as much and how the business you create and the products that you create very much match how you’re wired and how you’re wired to work. And I’ve worked with Kickstarts before and they will get off the block like nobody’s business. I’m not a QuickStart. I’m a high follow through and I can be a QuickStart if I know the path that I’m going. But this whole journey has been a lot about like what works with Kate’s personality or even it’s like your greatest gifts and your greatest weaknesses match together all at the same time. And you are wrestling through that as you grow your business. And that’s the thing I think is really important for people to take away before they create a product. And you’re somebody you just got to do it right. You just got to make the mistake and that’s how you’re going to learn. But you have to figure out the best way to teach for you and the people you are serving and the moment you move.


[00:41:26] Your tunnel vision on to somebody else, and this is such a trap for me, is I see an ad or see something else and I’m like, oh, it’s over there. Like, Oh, they did this. I’ve lost it. Like, I’ve lost my mojo. I’ve lost where I’m focused and people want to. And this is I think what we’re taking into the ads thing is like people want to learn alongside you and that’s sometimes where their greatest aha moments are at. And so it’s allowing yourself to pull back from the teach, teach, teach in to watch me just do this. And people are like, oh yeah. And that’s all people need sometimes is they just need this aha. Nugget of wisdom to go, OK, that’s what I need. And sometimes I think as course creators we want to create this big elaborate thing that says, like, here’s all my stuff and they’re like, I just needed a video of illume video that was four minutes and it’s like, that’s all you need.


[00:42:15] Ok, that is the evolution of a teacher right there. Gosh, I could say so much about this. I could talk to, you know, we could talk for like seven hours. This would be like a Joe Rogan podcast on four days. I’m sure, though, if people are listening, like we said, I said it already, there are going to be people who I want to know everything that’s changing as it’s changing and I want my hands super dirty. And then there are going to be people that are throwing up their hands going, yes, for consistency. I just want consistent growth. I want consistent strategy. So those people are probably wondering then how they can actually learn from you. So can you share how people can join? And I would love to know when the membership is happening. So basically there’s two things. Right? We have the simple PEN collective. Where can we find that?


[00:43:00] Yeah, the simple then collective is just go to simple pen media, dotcom slash collective and that’s open all the time. And we kept it open all the time because we find that people ebb and flow of when they need Pinterest help. And so we do get a lot of recurring members that will stop for a little bit and come back. So there’s that. And then there’s the ad society. And this is a new model and a new way of teaching for us because we’re going to be doing a lot of live coaching calls and hot seats, because, again, back to what I said, like, people want to see that in real time. So it’s a little less moving away from that. I’m just going to teach you how to do an ad into I’m going to teach you how to think critically. You teach this way, too, like how to think about your ad. So the Ad Society open on March 17th. So I don’t know how that aligns with when this podcast airs, but we’ll keep it open in a beta group for two weeks and then we’ll run that till June and it will open up again because we want to get a lot of data from the people who are running ads with their pain points are right now what their biggest hurdles are. Pinterest ads have changed and we also are we finally found our own model of teaching in our own Pinterest frameworks. We’re going to be putting that in there to to help people identify. It’s like a quiz, almost like where you at in running ads. So that will be there on the ad society, too. So everything you can find it simple. Pan media, dotcom.


[00:44:14] All right. And we’ll be sure to link to both the collective. And I’m assuming there’ll be a wait list even if it’s closed for the anxiety. Yeah, we’ll make sure to link to both of those in the show notes. So I just want to thank you for sharing your business journey with us, because I always find I always love talking to you, but I also find that you have such insightful things to share. So thank you. Thank you.


[00:44:38] Thanks for tuning in to today’s show. Be sure to follow along with me on Instagram at Redefining Mom. As always, you can find all of the links and information mentioned in this episode at Monica Fros Dotcom Foord slash podcast feed you right here again next week.

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