S1 EP4: Jen’s Journey from Laid Off and Pregnant to Successful Lifestyle Entrepreneur

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Today’s guest is Jen Smith. Jen is co-host of the Frugal Friends podcast, which I highly suggest you check out if you haven’t already. Jen and her co-host Jill are so funny, you’ll literally just feel like you’re having a conversation with two of your best friends. They’re amazing.

And on top of having a very successful podcast, Jen has done a lot of other things in her business. She’s been a freelance writer and blogger, she’s sold online courses, written and sold eBooks, she and Jill host an online summit called The Future of Frugal Summit.

We’ll include links for all of those resources and more in the show notes for this episode so you can go and check them out.

There was just so much that I wanted to talk to Jen about on our call because she just has so much experience and wisdom in all of these areas. Some of the things we touch on are:

  • Jen’s story of getting laid off at her job, while pregnant and about to give birth, and how she was able to build her business during that stressful time.
  • How you can diversify your business while maintaining a simple business model
  • How to attract the right people to be in your audience (and repel the wrong ones)
  • Understanding the purpose of every piece of content you create
  • The number one mindset shift that has improved Jen’s life and business the most. (And it might surprise you coming from a frugal living podcaster.)

And of course just so much more that I’ll let you find out yourself without rehashing our entire conversation.

Don’t forget to stick around to the end of the episode to hear my key takeaways, thoughts, and action items you can take away from this conversation.

Links and resources:


Key Takeaways

Thanks to Jen for providing so much value and insight on this episode. Here are some of my favorite key takeaways from our conversation and some action items that you can start implementing today.

Key takeaway #1: You can use your network from your day job to build your business.

Jen really kickstarted her whole business by using the connections she made at her full-time job. She was working for a personal finance website, so those connections obviously made sense to build her personal finance freelance writing business.

But even if your job isn’t directly related to the business you want to build, you can still use your network. And if you’re like me and the thought of being seen or putting yourself out there in front of people you know sounds absolutely terrifying, I get it. I have been known to block people I know in real life who follow my business accounts on Instagram or TikTok.

But it can be as simple as reaching out to your network with an email like, “Hey, I am starting a new business offering ______ services. Do you know anyone who could use my expertise? If so, I’d be forever grateful if you could put me in touch with them or give them my information.” Simple and painless. Using your network is one of the fastest ways to grow a new service-based business. 

Key takeaway #2: 80% of your results come from 20% of your efforts.

Jen mentioned on the show that she reached a point in her business where she was pretty much running four businesses: a live virtual retreat, podcast, blog, and freelance writing. Each one was making money and was profitable and could’ve been an entire business in and of itself. But she realized that 80% of her business growth was coming from the podcast. So she let go of everything else.  – the YouTube and social media following she’d built for her blog, the clients she’d worked so hard to land – so that she could focus on the podcast. And now she’s on track to have her most profitable year yet. 

So what can you take away from this? 

  1. Number one, focus pays off. In the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown, there’s a graphic with two circles. The first circle has a bunch of different arrows pointing out of it in all directions. The arrows represent your energy. All the arrows on this circle are short. Because your energy is going to a bunch of different things, none of those things go far very fast. The second circle has one long arrow. This represents putting your energy into one thing. Because in doing so, you can go much further much faster.
  2. Number two, find your 20%. What are the 20% of your efforts that make up 80% of the results in your business? This will obviously look different based on the type of business you have and what stage your business is in. If you’re just getting started with a service-based business, for example, then the 20% of effort that will give you 80% of your results might be reaching out to your network to get new clients, like we talked about earlier, as opposed to posting on social media or writing blog posts to bring in cold leads.

Key takeaway #3: People resonate with YOU.

This one mostly applies if you have a business where you’re the face of the company. If you’re a blogger, coach, podcaster, course creator, or anything where you’re the front-facing person in your business. People resonate with people. Jen found this out when she and Jill, her co-host, started The Frugal Friends Podcast. They were just trying to be goofy and funny with their “Bill of the Week” segment, and people loved it because they were being themselves.

One place you can apply this to is in how you market your business. What comes most naturally to you, and where do you feel most comfortable being yourself? Is it in writing? Then a blog and/or email newsletter might be your best marketing tool. Is it on video? Then try YouTube, Instagram, or TikTok? For Jen (and for me), it’s behind a microphone. So podcasting makes sense.

Like Jen said, try all the things, see what works for you, and when something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to let go of it. Contrary to what you might have heard, you don’t actually have to be everywhere at once.

Key takeaway #4: Make sure your content has a purpose.

There are two ways you can approach any content medium, whether it’s a podcast, blog, or social media.

The content can BE the product (so you make money through sponsorships, ads, affiliate marketing, etc.) or it can be your top-of-funnel content.

First of all, what’s a funnel? Jen was referring to your marketing funnel. So if you draw an upside down triangle, that’s your funnel. At the top, you have your blog, podcast, etc. These are the types of content that bring people into your world, make them aware that you and/or your business exist. Then, like Jen mentioned, you can capture their email address and send them a newsletter, updates with new content, etc. You’re nurturing that relationship, building trust, proving that you know what you’re talking about and what you have to sell is valuable and, eventually, leading them to purchase your product or service.

There’s a funnel acronym: AIDA – awareness, interest, desire, action. So that’s the kind of funnel that Jen is referring to.

She mentioned on the show that this is how she and Jill use their podcast, The Frugal Friends. The goal is to get people into their marketing funnel so they can nurture that connection and lead them to their paid mentorship or their online summit, which are the main ways they make money in their business.

Now, there’s nothing wrong with monetizing your content directly with ads, sponsorships, affiliate sales, etc. That can even be your entire business model as a blogger or niche site creator.

One thing to keep in mind is that it takes more time to monetize a blog, podcast, or your social media directly because you have to build an audience before advertisers will pay you. 

The faster way to make money with your content is to use it to drive people to your products/services. Which goes back to something we talked about in the episode with Pete McPherson – having something to sell first, before you start creating content.

Key takeaway #5: Try everything and see what you like. And if you don’t like it, move on and try something else.

As you can tell from Jen’s story, she’s tried a lot of stuff in her business. From blogging to selling courses and eBooks to freelance writing, and now podcasting. And one thing that came up in our conversation several times was this idea of: try it. If you don’t like it, if it’s not for you, then don’t try and force it to work. Move on and try something else.

This sounds so simple. And maybe it is for you. But I’ve definitely found it hard to move on in the past. Especially if I’ve spent so much time and effort creating a course or a service offering. It can be really hard to throw all that away and change directions if something isn’t working for you. But it’s what we need to do in order to find the things that do work.

That applies to different social media platforms, types of content like podcasting or blogging, and also the products and services you sell. Give it some time, a few months maybe, and if it’s not working or you don’t enjoy it, on to the next.

Key takeaway #6: You can go fast alone, but you can go further together.

Having a lifestyle business doesn’t mean you have to do everything yourself. You can (and at some point, you probably should) hire people to help you. That doesn’t mean you need W-2 employees, but when you get to a point where you’re profitable and you have money to invest in a team, to hire out the things that you don’t want to do or that don’t grow your business, use it. Hire people so you can stay in your zone of genius and focus on the things that only you can do.

Key takeaway #7: The pie is infinite.

Jen said this is the number one new belief that has most improved her life and her business. And it’s the idea of having an abundance mindset versus one of scarcity. A scarcity mindset says things like:

  • There’s not enough to go around
  • If I make more money, that means less money for someone else.
  • There’s only enough room for one at the top.

And a scarcity mindset says things like: 

  • There’s more than enough to go around.
  • Me making money doesn’t take away from anyone else.
  • We can all be successful.

Your mindset matters because it impacts the way you feel and what you do in your business. If you think there’s only so much success or money to go around, then when you see someone else doing what you want to do, you might feel defeated and then not take action because “Someone else is already doing it.” Or you might avoid networking with people in your space because you see them as competition. And that can rob you of not only new friendships, but also new opportunities.

Jen said the thing that’s most helped her shift from scarcity to abundance-minded is reading books on the subject, which I couldn’t agree with more. Two other things that have helped me:

  1. Changing the way I speak. I no longer say things like “I can’t afford that.” or “I wish I had her success.” I try to reframe those kinds of thoughts in a more positive way, like, “I’m choosing to do _____ with my money instead.” or “Her success looks great on her, and I know it’s possible for me, too.”
  2. One exercise that I really like, aside from having a daily gratitude practice (which I also highly recommend) is making a list of things that you want, and making every other item on that list something that you already have. So the first item is something you want but don’t have, second is something you want and you do already have, and so on. This exercise is simple, and it’s very similar to a regular gratitude practice. But it helps me remember and get into the feeling of actually wanting the things I already have. And that’s a more abundant space to be in than wanting what we don’t have.
Episode Transcript (click to expand)

Introduction

[00:00:17] Megan: Hey there, thanks so much for being here on the dollar sprout podcast. Today’s guest is Jen Smith. Jen is co-host of the frugal friends podcast, which I highly suggest you check out if you haven’t already Jen and her cohost, Jill.

[00:00:33] So funny, you will literally just feel like you’re having a conversation with two of your best friends. They’re truly amazing at podcasting at business. Yeah, I can only aspire for the dollar sprout podcast to be as good as the frugal friend’s podcast one day. On top of having a very successful podcast, Jen has done a lot of other things in her business as well.

[00:00:59] She. Began as a freelance writer and blogger blogger, technically I think, um, she’s sold online courses. She’s written and sold eBooks. She and Jill hosts an online summit called the frugal, the future of frugal summit. Uh, and we’ll include links to all of those resources and more in the show notes for this episode, so that you can go and check them out.

[00:01:25] There was just so much that I wanted to talk to Jen about on our call because. So much experience and wisdom and all of these different areas that I just mentioned. Um, so we talked about a lot and it was kind of an, uh, not focused on any one topic, but Jen shared so many amazing gems about business. And some of the things that we touched on in this episode, our Jen story of getting laid off at her job while she was pregnant and about to give birth and how she was able to build her business.

[00:02:00] During that stressful time, we also talked about how you can diversify your business while maintaining a simple business model, how to attract the right people to be in your audience and repel the wrong ones. Understanding the purpose of every piece of content that you create and the number one mindset shift that has improved Jen’s life and business the most.

[00:02:23] And in my surprise, you coming from a frugal living podcast. And of course, just so much more that we talked about that I’ll let you find out for yourself without rehashing our entire conversation. So don’t forget to stick around at the end of this episode, to hear my key takeaways, some thoughts and some action items that you can take away from this conversation.

[00:02:45] I hope you enjoy this episode, please. Welcome Jen Smith, everybody.

Interview with Jen Smith

[00:02:51] Megan: Hey Jen, welcome to the show.

[00:02:52] Jen: Hey Megan, thanks so much for having me.

[00:02:55] Megan: The last time we talked, you and I had a call a few months ago, I think back in August. And on that call, I realized that you’re like even more of a multi-faceted.

[00:03:06] Business woman than I knew before, because you’ve done so many things in your business. I met you like through your freelance writing when you were writing for dollar sprout, but you’ve also sold eBooks. You’re like a best selling author on Amazon, which is awesome. Crazy. Um, you have your podcast, the frugal friends podcast.

[00:03:28] You guys also did a summit in 2021. That was your first summit. Is that right?

[00:03:34] Jen: Yeah.

[00:03:35] Megan: So many things that I want to cover. I don’t know that we’ll have time to cover all of them in this call, but I do want to hear about your entrepreneurship story. So you’ve done all of these things, but where did it start for you?

[00:03:52] Jen: Yeah. So it’s been, it’s been crazy for a girl who. Always had parents that worked a W2 job, didn’t go to college. And we were never, I was never exposed to any like business owners or even like really technology growing up to be ha like having such a multifaceted. Online business and, and not really investing in a lot of education, how to do it.

[00:04:18] I’m always building the plane while I’m flying it, uh, which is a blessing and a curse as you will see from the story. Uh, but, but yeah, it started back in 2016, end of 2016, when my husband and I were paying off our student loan debt, we had about $78,000. And we were a year into paying it off and we had a year to go, but I didn’t know, we had a year to go.

[00:04:50] I just knew that we had a lot left to pay off and I wanted to, I wanted to share my story to help people who were doing. We’re wanting to try to do what we had been doing. Uh, so I, I knew that it was going to be taking us a long time. I wasn’t going to have a lot to do for at least another year. So I started writing no formal training in it.

[00:05:18] Uh, but after a few months I was able to get kind of like a quasi internship with the penny hoarder and they are, I’m really lucky that they are local to me. And I didn’t even know that when I say. And so that was the first time I was paid for my writing, um, is writing for the penny hoarder. And so they, they offered me a job, but at that point I wasn’t ready to leave the job I was working.

[00:05:46] I was a full-time acupuncturist and I really loved the field. Uh, but by the end of 2017, I was so, so about like 10 months later, I was, I was kind of ready to like spread my wings and see what else I could do with online business. In that time we had started renting our guestroom out on Airbnb. So we were making money that way I had started designing t-shirts and they were selling well on a merch by Amazon.

[00:06:17] I had released my, um, my first book, the no spend challenge guide, and it was a bestseller. And so I really thought that I could. Uh, do more if I, you know, had some more guidance in this online business world. And, and for some reason I thought a blog was the way to do it, obviously, because that’s, I was reading that online.

[00:06:40] I was working for a company that started as a blog. And so I thought that was the way to make it happen. So I. Started working for the penny hoarder at the beginning of 2018, uh, because I wanted to see what I could learn from them and actually had to stop writing my blog since it was kind of like a direct competitor.

[00:07:05] And that’s how the podcast was born couldn’t write, but the penny hoarder didn’t have a podcast. So that was just very serendipitous.

[00:07:14] And in early, I think March, 2019. So about a year later they had a mass layoff and that was just a few months before I was to give birth to my son.

[00:07:28] And I realized I have been I’ve, I’ve built this stuff that was in place before the penny hoarder and it’s just kind of been passively growing and I’ve gotten all of this, uh, this knowledge, not like insider information, but you know, like practical business information because I was focused on absorbing it versus just focused on getting a paycheck.

[00:07:57] And I was creating connections and I was focused on that instead of just. Working my nine to five and having my weekends. And so I built this foundation where I was like, I don’t have to go back to work. I can start my own thing. Uh, and that is an, I just really quickly put a call out to my network saying, Hey, I am a former staff writer for a, you know, I think it was Forbes 500, maybe fastest growing company or something.

[00:08:30] And. Let me write for you. And that’s how a dollar sprout reached out. And I started writing for dollar sprout, and then I just, it kind of like all built up to where it was, uh, the balance and Investopedia and ARP and all of these like really great companies. so that was kind of the start and along story to the start of my journey to where now.

[00:08:54] I’m not doing any freelance writing, and I’m just working on the podcast and that’s a whole other story in and of itself, how I got from there to here. But, we get, we can talk about that later on.

[00:09:07] Megan: Uh, I, so we were talking about before we hit record the like amount of work-life balance you’ve ever, you’ve been able to create in your business where, you know, you. Get all four gets three. Is that what you said? You stopped working at three or four. Yeah. And I don’t know if you said, do you like you don’t work Fridays?

[00:09:28] Is that true? Or did I just make that

[00:09:31] Jen: I, for a long time did not work Fridays. And just, uh, this year I started working. Five days.

[00:09:38] Uh so that that’s because I wanted to, not because I had to, because I actually like what I do and I wanted to do more of it.

[00:09:45] Megan: Yeah.

[00:09:45] well, that’s an awesome position to be in, right. That’s ideal. Um, so you have that work-life balance now, but what was that like? What was it like in the early days of building your business? Um, no, a lot of people talk about when you’re first getting started, especially like a lot of our listeners are already working and they’re working on.

[00:10:05] Building side hustles and businesses on top of their current full-time jobs. So what was that process like for you? Was it a hustle and grind, or were you able to kind of like slowly build it over time?

[00:10:19] Jen: It’s it’s a little different for me because I, I always, I rejected hustle culture, but I also am an Enneagram three achiever. And so I can’t not achieve like, no goal is good enough for me. Like I have to meet and exceed. Every single time. So my personality is one that I can’t stop, but I’ve never, I’ve never been one to say, like, I want to have, I want to be the biggest and the best.

[00:10:53] That’s never been my goal. So I do now I start work at 10. Like I work out in the morning and take my son to daycare. And then I work till like three 30 and pick them up by four. And then I don’t work when, after I pick him up. So that’s kind of like a good solid schedule for me. And like last week he had hand foot and mouth disease and I took the entire week off and there was no question or stress about whether I could do that.

[00:11:23] Cause I just did it. And then unfortunately got it myself. And so I really wasn’t able to work.

[00:11:31] So, so that, that is, that’s what I have now, but it took me a big mental shift to get there. At first I was hustling in part because I had this money, this mentality, where I needed to make money. To survive. I was still kind of coming out of the, uh, we’re paying off debt.

[00:11:52] We need as much money as possible mentality, which is something I had to deconstruct. And then also I had a postpartum like anxiety, uh, and I, I thought I need to do all of this now because parenting only gets harder and then you have another one and yada, yada, yada. And I put a lot of pressure on myself to, uh, to beat, to Excel at both work and motherhood, and that wasn’t healthy at all.

[00:12:24] Uh, and so I was, I was working, but I was, I was doing, I wrote a book, uh, after Kai was born. And I was working on my blog. I was working on the podcast and then, uh, the pandemic happened and then we decided to run a summit. And it was about the time when we got to, we decided we wanted to do the summit because we’re huge proponents of bringing.

[00:12:52] Online disconnected communities together in meaningful ways. So not just like social media as a substitute for meaningful relationships. And, and we thought a summit was a great way to do that, to kick off, uh, the mentorship that we run in, um, in a really intentional community and financial mentorship. So that was kind of twofold.

[00:13:15] And it was when we got to that, when I realized I can’t do everything. Like I was running three, essentially three separate businesses, like a live event, a live virtual event, a podcast and a blog. And, and it was, I had very little help and I was, I had a mental breakdown and that is it. That is what changed everything for me.

[00:13:43] And I was talking to someone, uh, a wise mentor who said,

[00:13:48] What if you like, what’s the one thing that you want to do going forward? And it was the podcast, it was in the 80 20 rule of everything, like 20% of your effort. Is what 80% of your results come from? Some, something like that. It might get the wording mixed up, but, but that the podcast was my 20, that was doing the 80% of growth in my business.

[00:14:14] But I had worked on this like freelance writing. Oh yeah. That was like my fourth business was a freelance.

[00:14:20] So I built up these clients. I had built up this blog and this YouTube channel and social media, like I built all that stuff up. So it was very hard for me to like, let it go. Uh, because it was all, it was more profitable than the podcast at the time, but the podcast was growing faster, more organically with less effort.

[00:14:44] And, and so it was at that point where I said, okay, I have to get rid of this sunk cost fallacy of these other things in my business that I’m kind of like white knuckling, let them go. They’re not failures. They were learning experiences to get to this only doing the things in my business that I love.

[00:15:05] And now since, uh, since July, that’s what I’m doing. I have so much of a clearer picture doing one thing. There’s so much synchronous. And things are growing even faster to where like next year we’re going to be way more profitable with the podcast than I ever was with all four of my businesses in the past.

[00:15:29] Megan: That’s awesome. Yeah.

[00:15:31] And I think that really speaks to the power of focus, which I guess like are arguments in both directions, right? Like I hear people, some people say focus on the one thing and in your case, I think it made a lot of sense with the podcast. You know, the 80, 20 rule of the podcast, like already been so successful and you could look at it and see what I put more time and energy here.

[00:15:53] This thing could really grow. Um, but then there are also people who argue for the opposite of like diversify and do these all like all these different things. So I imagine that was a difficult decision, especially like when you said you spent so much time growing these other revenue streams and these other like parts of your business.

[00:16:15] Jen: Yeah, there, there were, there are areas for diversification, even though I let go of those other things. There were areas for diversification under the umbrella of the podcast that I couldn’t even say. Until I let go of the stress and the multitasking and the juggling of everything and just focused on the one thing.

[00:16:40] And I I’m so glad you mentioned the one thing because I’m, I am a huge proponent of, um, the book and the whole system and philosophy. And I have been for years, and I, when I, when I was on that call, uh, with my mentor and. He, he said it. So plainly it made me feel so stupid and hypocritical for being such a big proponent of like simplifying and focusing on, on one thing that makes all other things easier or unnecessary in the future.

[00:17:17] And not even having it doesn’t need to be like a. All or nothing, but just like, uh, in the here and now sort of mentality. I I’ve been talking about that in the financial, the field, uh, with financial goals and stuff for years, but hadn’t applied it to my business, which is what, the one thing, like they only focus on like businesses and I try to interpret that for like people paying off debt.

[00:17:42] And it was, I mean, I felt like, like a dummy.

[00:17:47] Megan: Yeah, I get that. Um, but it is, I mean, I feel like it’s also so easily to get, this are so easy to get distracted by all the different options. I also started my blog in like around 2016, I think, which is, I forget on your timeline when you started your blog, like around that time, 2015,

[00:18:12] Jen: same. Yeah, same.

[00:18:13] Megan: Yeah.

[00:18:14] And it was. It hasn’t gotten simpler, but it was like, I went from blogging immediately to, oh, I should make an online course. Or like, what about membership communities? And then when It comes to blogging, you know, should I focus on like branding or actually write in con yeah, I don’t know. it’s just so easy to get distracted by all the things out there and feel like you’re not doing enough when.

[00:18:42] Especially when there are other people who were like, just seem to be omnipresent across all platforms and like, ah, I don’t know. It’s I relate

[00:18:52] Jen: it’s so funny. Yeah, because the podcasts we put no effort into at all, our shownotes suck. Our website sucked for so long. We put no effort into advertising it or promoting it. We would get on some podcasts sometimes because we need, that was the best way to grow our listenership. And we also used, uh, our, our titles for our episodes were very SEO, optimized.

[00:19:21] Because people use podcast searches, just like, uh, they do Google searches. Literally. Those were the only things we did just because they made sense. But otherwise it was very not strategic at all. We didn’t take a course. We didn’t have like things in place. I just used my own blog email lists to let people know there was an episode every week.

[00:19:46] That’s it. And, and that was the thing that really did it. And I think a big thing, a big part of our growth was keeping people around through our Facebook community. And involving them in the episodes too. So they feel like they’re part of the family. So we have our bill of the week, every week where we ask a listener to send in their favorite bill, whether it’s like when they lowered, when they paid off or a person or animal named bill, it’s very vague and people love it.

[00:20:19] And they feel part of our story because they get to participate and. We didn’t know what we were doing when we did it. We were trying to be funny and authentically ourselves. And that was what people resonated. And, and when I was doing my blog, I was trying to be SEO friendly and like trying to do all of that stuff, but I wasn’t authentically me.

[00:20:46] And I didn’t even realize I could be most authentically me behind a microphone. And it had. Turned that that way. So I think, I think it’s, there’s no harm in trying everything out because you don’t know what’s going to stick for you. We are not, nobody is like an expert in who they will become. So try the things, but when something doesn’t work, don’t be afraid to let go of it.

[00:21:15] Megan: Yeah, I think that that’s so funny that you say that you put so little effort into it, but because you were being yourself and being authentic, that’s what people resonated with.

[00:21:24] Um, this is the third interview that I’ve done for the podcast so far, and I don’t know what order the episodes are going to come out in yet. Um, but this is also the third time that authenticity has been mentioned in like building your business and growing and yeah, I think. It is so true. It’s so true, but it’s also so much easier said than done.

[00:21:51] I think, like you said, when you were blogging, you were more SEO friendly, but was it, was there ever a time for you even early on in your podcast where you felt like. You’ve tried to be authentic, but then you look back maybe weeks or months later after recording content or like writing content. And you were like, Ooh, cringe that doesn’t, that’s not me.

[00:22:13] You know,

[00:22:14] Jen: Yeah, it’s so easy to do that. And you don’t even realize that you’re doing it. So I am lucky enough to have a cohost, uh, and who is one of my. Closest friends who makes me feel like me. And that is a huge blessing. And I think a huge reason, like part of our successes is our dynamic. And so I. Go onto like other podcasts or I did, when I would go into other podcasts, I would, I would kind of get this sense of like, I have to be a podcaster or I have to be this or that.

[00:22:56] And over the years now, I’m just, I’m like being me, worked so well on our show that I’ll just be me on everybody else’s show too. And it might be a little weird, but.

[00:23:10] somebody is listening to it and they like that weird that’s who we want to attract to our show. So I want to be my most authentic self and we see all these people being successful.

[00:23:21] There are different mediums because they can be their most authentic self on those mediums. And so I think that’s why we try all these different things. But like I said, like, I didn’t know, podcasting was where I was going to be my most authentic me. Like, I didn’t know until I tried. So it is I think, good to try, like throw spaghetti at the wall, so to speak.

[00:23:46] Um, but, but like, Try one at a time though, like give yourself a year and say, you’re going to try everything like for a few months throughout the year and, and see how it see how it makes you feel energy wise. Cause that’s a big proponent too. Like I, I grew a following of 75,000 people on Tik TOK, but social media drains my energy and I’m still doing a lot.

[00:24:14] I found that I’m still doing a lot because it is something. That we have ventured off into because we’ve, we’ve created our solid foundation on our show and our email list. So now we’re looking to expand, like, what’s our next thing. And I was like, okay, all of our people say. They want us on Instagram, so let’s be there.

[00:24:37] And, um, and we’re there. We show up and they love it. And it’s exhausting. So now there’s, there’s gotta be this balanced where you serve your audience, but you also preserve your energy and maybe you don’t grow as fast as the people out there that are single and don’t have kids and have nothing to do except post two to three reels a day.

[00:25:01] It’s okay. That you can’t grow as fat. And I talked, I talked to me when I say that it’s okay, that you can’t grow as fast as them, uh, you know, but you have to preserve your own energy and put you first.

[00:25:14] Megan: Yeah, I think it’s such a relief personally, to hear you say that because like I hate being on social media. It is so draining for me to, you know, and, but I go through periods where I’m like, okay, you know, this is what I need to do for my business.

[00:25:31] You know, this is how I’m going to get people through the door. And, um, Yeah. And I’ll go through periods of like posting a video a day on Tik TOK or something, and then I’ll get so exhausted that I’ll go for months. I’ll get, like, this has happened in my financial coaching business where I, like, I got a handful of clients earlier this year from Tech-Talk.

[00:25:52] Um, and then I stopped posting on Tik TOK for months because it’s just exhausting. And so I think that’s great advice of like, Find out what doesn’t drain you do more of that focus on building that And then yeah. you can branch out to other things. Um, you mentioned

[00:26:13] Jen: And you can hire someone to do the things that work, but you don’t love.

[00:26:18] Megan: Yeah. Yes. Um, you mentioned earlier diversification in your podcast. Would you mind to talk a little bit about that and the different ways that you guys have been able to monetize your podcast?

[00:26:34] Jen: Absolutely so many people see a podcast as an arm of a blog or a YouTube channel or something.

[00:26:45] I think that it is a very it’s, it’s just another top of funnel. So if you look in it, funnel like sales funnels, the podcast is a way to get people. Uh, onto your email list. And then on your email list, you can, you can build a relationship with them to where you can serve them, offers to your products that are most appropriate for them, so that they will give you money.

[00:27:10] And then you have a business because you do not have a business without money. Sometimes we only focus on the advertising portion of a podcast, but if you are just waiting for advertising money, you going to be broke for a long time with podcasting. Uh, it was, it was not until, I mean, we had a couple thousand downloads an episode before we got advertisers and it wasn’t until we hit 10,000 an episode that it was actually.

[00:27:41] Easy to get advertisers where I could like reach out to someone or they would reach out to me. And it’s just like, that’s not attainable for everyone. So looking at your podcast is the top of your funnel and seeing, okay, how can I use, how can I use this to get more people onto my email list? Uh, so that I can have other arms.

[00:28:07] So. The summit is an arm, um, of our show. We got sponsorships from brands for that. And then we also sold an all access pass. It had like a bundle of products around that, uh, from our different speakers. That was a lot of work. I do not recommend it for people starting out at all. We had a, a really established.

[00:28:34] Presence in the podcasting, you a personal finance community in general. So we could reach out to people and we’ve had relationships with them. So they would say yes to speaking and same with, with these advertisers, with the brands. Uh, so it was a lot of work to put on an in completely different website.

[00:28:53] Um, set up branding, all of that. But that was something that launched. That was the thing that launched our mentorship, which is a monthly membership for people who want guidance and support on their journey to their first hundred K network. And so we, we use it as a, um, holistic, like an affordable financial coaching sort of thing.

[00:29:20] We don’t do one-on-one uh, but we have the mentorship where people can ask us questions. They can use the hive, mind, they can find accountability partnerships in groups. So that is kind of our core offering. The thing that we put the most love into. Um, and for, for people. And then, um, so that’s kind of the bottom of our funnel and the podcast is the top.

[00:29:44] So everything in between there just kind of gets people to the mentorship. Uh, we have just a lot of free things that we give people and. People can also pay for those things. So we have like a Shopify store, frugal, friends.shop where sometimes we’ll give away stuff from there. And if you want something, that’s not being given away at a certain time, you can pay for it, but they’re like lower cost things.

[00:30:09] So we have a super simple like monetization strategy now, which is far from where I used to be with like a bunch of high praise courses, low price courses. Coaching everything books. Um, the books I still have, and I actually just wrote and, um, probably released by the time this comes out the second edition of the no spend challenge guide, which was like a passion project for me.

[00:30:38] I didn’t need it to make money, but it was, uh, something I wanted to do for fun. But so yeah, we have are, are those parts of the funnel. And then we also have the advertising dollars now that are just the cherry on top, um, that help us, uh, then the, um, advertising like helps us actually put more people into the, to the funnel.

[00:31:04] So that’s kind of the synergy of it all.

[00:31:07] Megan: yeah. Gotcha. Okay. Yeah,

[00:31:09] I think that what you said is so true people when they think about when a lot of people think about blogging or podcasting and all these different content mediums, they think about like, how can I make money directly from.

[00:31:24] The content, but you’re saying like for you all, you have your core offerings, you have your mentorship, you have your online summit and the podcast is just a way just like a blog would be or social media to get people into those offerings, but not necessarily the way that you make the most money in your business.

[00:31:48] Jen: absolutely. And so like the summit is kind of even a separate business from the podcast though. They are, uh, connected, but it’s, it’s just more ways to get people into the. Offer. And like we are the frugal friends podcast. We are not, we are our high volume, low cost business. So we’re not selling 400, 500, $600 courses, you know, or, or more, some people charge, you know, a thousand.

[00:32:17] Uh, so we’re not doing that. We’re never going to do it. And so we had to just think differently. So how do we reach more people, get the higher volume and, and get more people into the funnel. And a lot of people make, make the mistake of looking at the funnel backwards. So they just focus on the top and, and ad revenue and affiliate links.

[00:32:41] And all of that stuff is, are cherries on top. Uh, but your core offer is really what you should be building first and it doesn’t have to be perfect. We’ve just redesigned. Every time we launch the mentorship, we redesign it. So it started with a completely different name, completely different format, six months ago.

[00:33:01] And we’ve just refined it based on what we’ve seen works and made it better. So your core offer doesn’t have to be. The same forever, but it, you should start with that. And then everything you make podcast episodes, videos, blog posts should all be in alignment with that core offer and point not advertise for it, but point kind of encourage people to get on the path you want them to be in order to see your core offer as a solution.

[00:33:33] And in the email, once they’ve given you their email, Then that’s where you can kind of lead them more directly into the core offer. So we, we mentioned the mentorship on the show only in the times when we’re launching, but otherwise we, we don’t, but we will do episodes that lead people into the mindset and the path that our ideal mentor.

[00:34:01] And so we, but we don’t advertise. That’s why we’re doing it.

[00:34:05] Megan: Yeah. I think that’s great. And I think that that just little bit right there will save so many people a lot of time because chef’s kiss, like that’s great advice.

[00:34:18] And I think like it’s something that I personally. It’s one of the things that I did so poorly myself, when I first started my blog and my business, I was like, I didn’t even know how I was going to make money. You know, like, and I didn’t have a core offering. I didn’t have a service. I didn’t have a course.

[00:34:35] I didn’t have anything. I was just like, Put stuff out there and then we’ll make money. I don’t know. So Yeah.

[00:34:43] I think that right there, build your core, offer, know how you’re going to make money, like have a plan for making money. And then all the content you create is to get people to make money or. You know, get people into your funnel to make money.

[00:34:58] Um, so one of the other things that I did really poorly in the beginning of my business that you did really well is I started out, I spent so much money starting out. Learning things, paying for courses, paying for coaches. When I wasn’t even at a point where I was ready for a coach, I don’t think like, I think going back, looking back on it, I should have waited to hire a coach, but I spent thousands of dollars in my first, like year to 18 months of starting my business.

[00:35:34] Just. Trying to learn. And, yeah. So I guess my question for you is you said that you did that well, you didn’t spend a lot of money, but it also costs you in certain ways. So can you talk about what were the things you were glad you didn’t spend money on? And is there anything that you wish that you had invested in sooner?

[00:35:57] Jen: Yes. Okay. I am somebody who, who decides they’re going to do something and I do it and I’ll, I’ll spend some time researching, but I’ll do it while I’m learning. And that’s kind of how I learn. I, I love. As I’m doing it. And so that’s been great for online business and I will absorb as much free content as possible.

[00:36:20] I’m frugal. I don’t like to pay for things. And that is the detriment to, to my scaling. It’s been really great foundational. But when I started investing in, I started investing in a few courses and those really helped me. I bought one for Facebook ads, which now I would never recommend anybody buy a Facebook ads, course save the money and just hire it out.

[00:36:49] I spent $2,000 on Amy Porterfield’s digital course academy, which is, I believe hands down the best course on creating courses that you can buy, like bar none I’ve heard from other people, like other experiences, best money I’ve spent. I don’t make courses anymore, but I did it.

[00:37:12] And I launched a few courses and knew I was doing it. Right. And when they didn’t go as. Planned or, uh I didn’t enjoy it. I knew I wanted more of the community building aspect versus just educational, but I had to do it in order to learn that. And I knew I did it well, it wasn’t, was it me who was messing up?

[00:37:32] It was just what I didn’t like. So when I started doing that and being like more, liberal with my spending on that things, things started to take off, I really waited too long to find a, a mentor. I still don’t have like what I would call a business coach. I have highly skilled people around me. I am part of a mastermind and I do have a lot of people around me, but I didn’t have a neutral third party to challenge me.

[00:38:09] What I needed to do until this year. And I was looking for a business coach for a long time, but I just didn’t want to spend all the money that they were costing. I was willing to spend some money, but I just wanted to make sure they were right for me because so many are just pro our coaching disguised as like it’s programs.

[00:38:28] It’s courses disguise this coaching that want to put you into a system and just. Put you in one side and spit you out the other. And so that’s not what I wanted. And so. I have had to get creative in how I pieced together that mentorship. And, and that is what has that journey is what has inspired our membership to be that affordable, alternative to mentorship for people who don’t want to get like a financial coach or, you know, don’t want to just be a cog in a wheel of courses.

[00:39:07] So that is, so that journey shaped what I now offer our listeners. So I’m glad I went through it, but I did wait a long time to get the help that I needed to scale my business and become a better entrepreneur.

Slow-Round Questions

[00:39:25] Megan: I’m going to go ahead and move into our slow round questions if that’s cool with you.

[00:39:31] Also introduction for this section of the podcast is called the slow round.

[00:39:37] I will say this in every single interview because I will take any chance I can get to bring up Mike Birbiglia. And if you don’t know Mike Birbiglia, he is the greatest comedian of all time. He’s my favorite comedian. And he has a podcast called working out and instead of like rapid fire questions or like lightning round or whatever, he does slow round. which I

[00:39:58] Jen: Yeah we have a lightening round I, yeah,

[00:40:01] I love the idea of a slow round.

[00:40:03] I want to do that. Yeah.

[00:40:05] But Jill loves the lightning round.

[00:40:07] Megan: Oh, Yeah, Well, I mean, it’s like a fan favorite. Everybody loves rapid fire. Like, you know, the quick questions and

[00:40:14] Jen: ours aren’t even quick. I don’t know why we call it the lightning round because Jill likes announcing it as the lightning

[00:40:20] round And that is it. She just likes saying it. And I like laughing at her as she says it, but I I’m eager to participate in a slow ramp.

[00:40:33] Megan: Cool. Yeah, I’m a slow round kind of person. Everything I do is very slow and so it fits. Okay. So first question for the slow round, what is a common myth or misconception about running an online business or a lifestyle business that you want to clear up once and for all.

[00:40:55] Jen: the thing you start doing is the thing that’s going to make you rich. It is very common that the thing you start doing, isn’t the thing that you continue to do or that you do long-term and everyone thinks they have to wait until they have the perfect idea. That’s going to make them rich. But the thing that gets you, the idea.

[00:41:19] That’s going to make you successful in online business. You won’t be able to get that until you start. So you have to start with something just like, I mean, when we were talking about core offers, your core offer should not stay the same. It should grow and change as you grow and change, but you just have to start with some kind of core offer.

[00:41:39] I think that’s the biggest misconception that you have to start with a good idea. Start with, you know, start with an ID. That you think could work and test it and ask around, you know, validate it. But don’t, by any means, believe that that’s going to be the thing that makes you rich or that’s the thing you’re going to be doing for the rest of your life.

[00:41:58] Megan: Awesome. Okay. Second question. What is one of the best or most worthwhile investments that you’ve ever made in your business?

[00:42:05] It can be an investment of time or money or your energy. Anything.

[00:42:12] Jen: I think the best investment that I have made is in having Jill as a cohost. And I think. That was a, that was an investment in of risk because when we started, I didn’t know, Jill very well. Like I had met her husband like 10 years before. And we had become like, uh, my husband and, um, her and Eric we’d all become really fast friends.

[00:42:44] Like we, we visited them in Pennsylvania when we came up with the idea for frugal friends. So, but I didn’t know her well enough to where I wanted to start a business with her, you know? So. When it started, I was like, okay, this was, we’ll see, we’ll see where this goes. It was mainly to help Eric get into podcasts producing, um, as, as a work career, which it absolutely did.

[00:43:10] And he’s very successful like in podcasting now, but so right. That risk was everything like taking that risk. And I don’t know. If that’s a piece of advice I would give to people, but it’s so worked out for me because I get to do what I love with someone. I love who, who is the perfect. Begin to my yang sort of, but we are also so similar instead we’re such good friends and people are always shocked when we’re like, oh, you, you guys are actually friends.

[00:43:49] Like you hang out, not just doing the podcast. We hang out all the time and we never posted on social, uh, or anything so that I thought I had to do everything myself to be successful. I thought that for a very long time, And it’s what kept me from hiring things out from hiring a VA editors, et cetera. It’s what kept me from investing in courses and mentorship.

[00:44:19] Cause I felt like I had to figure it all out on my own and it was after starting frugal friends with Jill, when the phrase you can go fast alone, but you go further together. Became a reality for me. So even if you don’t take a chance on a business partner, building a team is essential.

[00:44:42] Megan: and it doesn’t even like, do you guys have any other full-time people in your business or for the podcast?

[00:44:50] Or do you just have freelancers?

[00:44:53] Jen: No, we just have freelancers.

[00:44:55] Megan: So when you say team, like it can, that doesn’t mean that you have to build like a multi-person company or like, you know, shoot for the stars were all about like low scale effort, low effort, lifestyle

[00:45:10] Jen: low effort Yeah, for sure. I don’t want to have W2 employees ever, like, I don’t want to build a business complex enough. To require that, um, just a few part-timers doing what they do best so that I don’t have to do the things that I don’t like.

[00:45:29] Megan: Yeah. Amen. Social media. First thing on that list,

[00:45:34] Jen: We actually started doing more social media once we hired a social media manager and I have to correct that mistake that I’ve made for myself. Yeah. Right. That’s me in a nutshell.

[00:45:44] Megan: How did that work? How did you end up doing more social media?

[00:45:48] Jen: Because I’m paying for it. So I think I need to get my full value from it.

[00:45:55] Megan: see you like

[00:45:55] Jen: That’s also a lie. Um, yeah,

[00:46:00] Megan: Okay. Last slow round question. In the last five years, what new belief behavior or habit has most improved your life and or business?

[00:46:12] Jen: I over the past five years have been consistently breaking down. My scarcity mindset and I’m not a woo person. I don’t, I don’t do manifestation. I don’t know any of that crap, but scarcity mindset is, is real and is something that holds so many people back. We don’t even know we have it, but believing. The pie is finite.

[00:46:42] And if I have a P a piece of it, somebody else doesn’t get a piece of it. So that’s like creates guilt and seeing somebody else have a piece of it means there’s less for me. And so that creates doubt. Uh, and so I see all of these things and I realized like the pie is infinite. There is no. Like there is there’s room for an infinite, more like higher number of personal finance content, creators, and podcasters, even frugal living podcasters with female.

[00:47:18] Co-hosts like, we don’t have to be the only one. If everyone just had like 500, 500 to a thousand, like paying raving fans, that would be great. And there’s more than enough people. Trying to get their finances in order that we’re, we’re short, we’re short staffed, uh, here, you know, so the, the pie is infinite and just because somebody else is succeeding a doesn’t mean I have to do that.

[00:47:46] Doesn’t mean I’m going to succeed doing that. Um, and B it doesn’t mean I can’t succeed doing that. Like there was really no aspiration to succeed with podcasting, when we started, because there were already. I in my mind, I was like, who’s going to beat Dave Ramsey. Who’s going to listen to us over Dave Ramsey and that’s such a lie, such a lie.

[00:48:09] Um, right. And, and so I had, you know, had that, but also saying like, if I go for more, it doesn’t mean there’s less for somebody else. So like at, at a job going for, for more money, Like it doesn’t mean that there’s less money for other people or me going for more listeners or more money, like in the show, in our business, like asking for more on social media, deals, which are just shrouded in secrecy. Going for more doesn’t mean there’s less for somebody else.

[00:48:43] It doesn’t mean that I even deserve or am worthy of that much. But it definitely means like,

[00:48:50] It’s uh, but I am, you know, I don’t have to think I’m worthy of as much as they’re paying me, they just have to have the budget, like money isn’t personal in that sense, finance, like the way you spend your money as personal, but.

[00:49:04] In business money as a personal. And so that’s the biggest shift out of that scarcity limiting mindset that I have. Um, I’ve really grown, I think, as a person, mostly, and how I interact with other creators too. Sometimes I still get like, I’ll look at somebody’s success. This is so petty. Like I’ll look at somebody’s success and be like, everybody knows about them.

[00:49:30] Nobody knows about it. And I also that’s a lie too. Cause I keep saying like, nobody knows about frugal friends, but we’re such a good podcast, but nobody knows. And I’m like, like people know, you know, like people keep saying like, oh, your party guests is, is blowing out. And I’m like, is it,

[00:49:49] Megan: right.

[00:49:49] Jen: it

[00:49:50] Megan: It’s hard to see from the inside.

[00:49:52] Jen: right

[00:49:53] Megan: like a stable what’s the, it’s hard to read the label from inside the bottle or whatever,

[00:49:58] Jen: Yes. Uh, and so it’s all, most of what’s in your head is a lie, when it comes to stuff like that. So that’s, that’s why it pays to have other people in your life, peers and mentors, to tell you what is on the outside of label of.

[00:50:17] Megan: Yeah. Yeah, for sure. Have there been any practices or anything in particular that you can attribute this shift in, in your way of.

[00:50:27] thinking and the scarcity mindset to.

[00:50:32] Jen: A lot of reading, uh, Kind of just, I don’t even know what books, but, but a lot of reading probably more online and doing research because it’s, we think first about scarcity mindset in, in terms of like asking for raises and, and our spending and stuff like that. And so I was doing mostly research to help our listeners in doing, you know, the mentorship and the episodes.

[00:51:00] And then I kind of started to see how it was limiting me, like putting the two together and then finally talking to people about my revelations. And they’re like, yeah, Jen, like you didn’t see that. And then just having them reveal more to me is really how it came about.

[00:51:19] Megan: Awesome. Thank you so much for sharing. That was

[00:51:24] great

[00:51:24] Jen: thanks so much for having me. It was fun to, to share this side of my story.

Key Takeaways

See key takeaways at the top of this page.