A year ago, I was sitting at my computer googling phrases like “Is B-School a scam?” and “Alternatives to B-School.”
I knew I wanted to take the course. Knew in the depths of my soul that I was supposed to do B-School. But even so…
I was hoping, hoping, hoping for an excuse. Money was tight. I didn’t have much client work coming in, and really had no idea whether or not I had the business savvy & talent to turn my fly-by-night freelance practice into a proper business.
Someone tell me Marie Forleo is a fraud. Someone tell me it’s a big money grab. Someone write a review saying B-School is a total waste of money.
No such luck. (Say what you want about B-School, Marie Forleo manages her online reputation like a BOSS.)
With a bit of digging, I found this post on Suitcase Entrepreneur about an alternative to B-School, but it didn’t resonate with me. In fact, something about it made me feel icky inside.
So late one snowy February evening, after the kiddo was safely asleep, I cautiously brought it up with my husband.
“So, um…there’s this program I’ve been looking at called B-School. I know all this online stuff isn’t really your world, but this woman Marie Forleo is a huge deal, and I really feel like this is what I need right now.”
My man Jay supports me in everything. Even though the payments would be going on my credit card (I mean, duh—who has $2000 in the bank just waiting to be given a job?), I really needed his blessing.
“Can’t you learn that stuff online?” he asked.
“Maybe,” I said. “But I don’t know how to pull it all together. And I just feel like this is what I need to make this business a real thing.”
(There were a lot of “I feel like..”’s in this conversation, for the record.)
I proceeded to tell him exactly how many times I’d been through a B-School launch (3x), point to other people I follow who’ve taken it (ex. Kate Northrup, Danielle Laporte & Amy Porterfield, to name a few), and carefully made my case.
In the end he agreed. Either that or he cautiously stayed silent in his opposition. Jay’s very good at supporting my wily, intuitive business style, even if it doesn’t always make sense at the time.
My coach Kathleen stepped in and made it really easy, fronting me $1000 for future work. I used the money to make my first payment, and (with the crazy USD exchange rate at the time) used the remaining 2 hundred to catch us up on a few bills.
Enter Marie Forleo & B-School
Here’s a snapshot of what came next (and maybe a sneak peek of what’s coming for you)
Week 1: Profit Clarity
This module could more aptly be called “stuff you’re SUPPOSED to do but never take the TIME to do, because you’re not sure how (and if ever) it will make you money.”
…like figuring what you really want from your life, from B-School, and from your business.
For a lot of people the biggest job in this module is identifying who you want to work with—not just demographic intel, but the actual minutiae of that person’s life, from the books they read to the kind of relationship they’re in, to their weird beliefs about what they’re capable of and why they don’t need you / can’t afford you.
I had to do this exercise at least 3 times before I came up with Jane Sharp, a 40-something sex & relationship coach who, as I’m only just now realizing, is pretty bang on when I think of the type of clients I work with today.
This stuff works. Who knew?
Week 2: Website
I had a huge head start on B-School because my website was already a) active and b) pretty good. (That’s a long way from “very good”, but it’s way better than starting with nothing at all, which is where a lot of B-Schoolers begin.)
The topic is LOADED, and Marie’s really good at treating it in a way that doesn’t cause you to shut down and quit.
Marie tackles the critical must-knows like:
- Why it’s vital to take control of your own website
- Why you only have 2 choices when it comes to technology
- Guidelines on choosing the right website platform
- A downloadable checklist for hiring a web pro
I already had 99% of that stuff “figured out” at the time, and I still got a ton of wisdom nuggets in this module and made some pretty sweeping changes to my website (with the help of Laura Belgray—you can’t beat 1-on-1 time with a copywriter to shape up a website. That applies to copywriters as much as it does to non-copywriters.)
The community started to come together around this time, and deep, soul-connections began to fuse.
By now I was already starting to get connected with B-Schoolers online and in the real world. I had a standing weekly Starbucks meet up with my gal Tamara Arnold aka The Enchanted Fairy, and a rotating group of local B-Schoolers.
One of the (many, many) little-known benefits of B-School is that there are people all over the world doing it. If you’re in a remotely large city (mine is population 200,000), it’s easy to find people to be your accountability buddies, and work the program with you.
Around this time I drove up to Toronto to have lunch with about 20 other B-Schoolers, several of whom I still keep up with, others I share audiences within a rad Instagram comment pod, and 1 of whom I’ve done a TON of business with (web copy, sales page, emails…the whole bit).
Week 3: Communication
I took a g-i-a-n-t step in my business after watching this module: I finally left Mailchimp (which I’ve never enjoyed using), signed up to ConvertKit and started writing a bi-weekly newsletter. I haven’t missed a week since.
I only had 30 subscribers, most of whom were blood relations. (Yes, I have a big family.)
The biggest hurdle was just getting started. I see a lot of my clients struggling with this one, but the most successful among them ALL communicate regularly with their audience.
Since Marie creates stellar (and expensive-to-make) free content every week, all year long, and only opens the doors to her program 1x per year, it’s worth hearing what she has to say about content creation.
- The purpose of free content & how it fits into your profit plan
- Why the “Hey, I’m alive!” factor is so important (that was big for me)
- How much free is too much & how much you need to share
- The long-term forecast for free content
- The “Happy Meal” mistake most people make & how to avoid it
No matter where you go, there’s always someone saying “content is dead” or “email is dead” or some similar refrain. Marie proves this is simply not true. Even now, as I see what content has done for my business (and the point is being further driven home in my mastermind group), I still need to hear it again and again.
Week 4: Office Hours & Implementation Time
Whew! Made the halfway hurdle. Though I didn’t know it at the time, I was really lucky not to have too many clients for the first month of B-School. At the time I fell into the “fully DIY” camp and I was implementing almost everything Marie told me to, which took a lot of time.
By now I was already starting to see results. I was getting more inquiries about working with me (some of them B-Schoolers, some from elsewhere) and subscribers were starting to trickle in. Only a few each week, but that’s a lot compared to zero, and it kept me motivated to keep sending my bi-weekly email newsletter.
#confession: I didn’t attend the office hours calls. I listened to the first one for about 15 minutes and decided it wasn’t for me. (I plan to try again in this year’s round of B-School.)
Week 5: List Building
This wasn’t my first lesson in list-building, but it was the first time I acted on what I learned. (That’s the magic of Marie Forleo.) In this module, Marie covers the nuts & bolts of list-building, plus more high-level stuff like…
- How list building fits into your big business picture
- Why thinking the money is “in the list” is dead wrong & what to focus on instead
- How to “preach from the mountain tops” and get people to join your list
I love learning from Marie because she’s a super talented copywriter herself. (Some of her B-School emails are in my file of all-time fave emails.) This is one module I can’t wait to go over again in this round of B-School.
Week 6: Offerings
If I had to point to a single module and say “this one impacted my business the most” — it would be this one.
Pre B-School I wrote whatever copy people asked me to write, and crossed over into content a lot. Even though I didn’t enjoy doing content, and didn’t consider it my strong suit, I didn’t have the courage to turn it down.
Marie got me thinking about how I package up my services. I hadn’t realized how hard I was making it for people to purchase my services because they had to either a) pay an hourly rate or b) design a copywriting package themselves.
After working through this module I developed 3 copywriting packages — a full website from-scratch, a full website touch-up, and a one-pager package. (I didn’t realize I was also doing some powerful price comparison, which is great for conversions.)
The “touch-up” package didn’t sell at all, but the other 2 did really well. Starting the conversation about packaging my services was a really important step. It’s a conversation that’s still going on in my head today. I’m tweaking my pricing & packages on a monthly basis.
Marie also covers:
- Why being selfish is the key to delivering outstanding offerings
- The art of “pruning” and why she’s killed almost every profitable offering (let’s hope B-School doesn’t get pruned next!)
- The Easy Button Strategy that will take any offering from average to OMG
Week 7: Marketing
This is the last module of B-School, and it’s The Big One.
Kind of a “duh” moment, but I didn’t know others also felt resistance around marketing, and I breathed an audible sigh of relief when the subject came up in the first video of this module.
Marie makes you want to love marketing, even if you don’t right now. She spends a lot of time working through the ugly underlying beliefs a lot of us have about selling our stuff, and covers other topics like…
- The real truth about marketing that most people never understand
- Why viewing yourself as an “expert” will keep you broke
- How to get creative in your marketing, while still remaining honest (this has worked magic for my business, and I often wonder why other entrepreneurs aren’t using my “brutal realness” strategy)
- 5 disciplines that will help you have a steamy love affair with marketing
This is the only module where Marie Forleo talks explicitly about copywriting, though I consider all the preceding modules as the fundamental legwork for crafting high converting copy.
JUICY SIDE NOTE: Somewhere in this module Marie names copywriting as the #1 skill responsible for her business success. Word to that. Sure made this copywriter’s heart soar.
Week 8: Office Hours & Implementation Time
By the end of B-School, I was already itching for the next thing. #confession, I skipped office hours again.
I’d gotten a taste of all the juicy strategy & knowledge I didn’t have, and I wanted more of it. I was lusting after other courses I wanted to take with Todd Herman, Amy Porterfield and Denise Duffield-Thomas, and hungry to make more connections in private FB groups (a gold mine of support, clients & friends).
What I Got Out Of B-School (i.e. the Dollars & Cents)
I had my biggest month ever after B-School, and the high is still rippling through my business a year later. I consistently have 5-figure months. And even though I reinvest most of it back into my business, I have huge, huge momentum behind me now, and my business is growing as fast as my heart & soul can keep up.
What I’m saying is, we’re not fully at the laptop-on-a-beach, sipping-gin-and-juice-in-the-DR stage of life yet, we will be soon enough. Next winter fo’sho. (We don’t actually drink much in my family, but you get the sentiment.)
But that’s just money stuff. Now that I have it semi-figured-out, I can appreciate things that are a lot more important:
I have clients I L-O-V-E love. I work from an office that’s positively sacred & beautiful. I get to do my favourite thing on a regular basis: write. And I only work as much as I feel like. (Currently, I’m on a 4-day workweek.)
I’ll close this with the email I wrote to Marie’s team a few weeks after B-School concluded. If this sounds like a life you’d like to lead, I hope you’ll join me for B-School 2017.