When I moved to warm and sunny Bermuda from cold and dreary Boston back in 2016, I knew I wanted to do 2 things: 1) to bring more of my entrepreneurial side to my music career, and 2) to grow food year-round.
I had ZERO idea what either of those things looked like.
As far as my music career had always gone, I just waited for opportunities to come from others–contractors, presenters, administrators, conductors, etc. I wanted to have more control over what, where, and with whom I performed. As for my garden? The idea of growing through the winter, and into what was basically a bed of limestone rock was totally intimidating.
Both were going to involve a lot of learning, and likely quite a bit of investing in time, energy, and money.
Unfortunately, I had also just given up a significant portion of my income, and I didn’t have a ton (or any, really) money to spend on said learning.
Back then, I turned to freebies like podcasts and blogs for my business, and youtube and the free (and, it turns out, pretty toxic) “compost” available at the dump. (Remind me to tell you about the time a truck dumped a car-sized mountain of crappy “compost” at my (very steep) driveway just as a hurricane was arriving.)
I didn’t have extra cash to put towards these projects, but I did suddenly find myself with loads of time. So that’s what I invested with for those first few years. The time it takes to piece together bits of free info from podcasts, and the time it takes to turn kitchen scraps into the perfect soil.
Now, 7 years later, I regularly dedicate a portion of my income each year on coaches, courses, retreats, and masterminds in order to get expert eyes on my business, build relationships with my peers, and learn from the best. We’re also now able to spend more on materials to build raised beds, organic compost, and fertilizers, and water lines for the garden.
But there are plenty of options between that free podcast and a $15,000 Mastermind, and there are pros and cons to all of them. I want to outline some of the options at every stage of the game (and we’ll drop the gardening metaphors….for now… and stick to building careers in the arts ;- )
Whether you are a performer looking to book more concerts for yourself or your ensemble, a writer looking to grow their audience or someone with a creative dream project you are eager to get off the ground, there are GREAT ways for you to start investing in yourself at any price tag.
Okay, here we go!
I’m listing all of these in one place because they all give you similar experiences with similar Pros and Cons. One of the most important lessons I learned–a concept I think about every single week in my career, is something that I learned from a podcast. And even though I’m now at a point where I can invest in great coaches, I STILL take in free content on a daily basis. (Read to the end for a listing of a few faves.) And…shameless plug, you should hop onto my mailing list. I send out a weekly email each Friday with a few bits of info/tips/hacks that I think you’ll find useful.
Most webinars and bootcamps (short, 1-5 day online challenges) used to be free, and some still are! But with the end of the Pandemic came busy schedules, and fewer people stuck at home, waiting excitedly for ANY adult human interaction and hosts started finding that people would sign up for a free event and then blow it off. However, when people pay, they pay attention, so even charging a minimal amount like $25, was getting them into the metaphorical room.
With Online Workshops, Webinars, and Bootcamps, the teacher is usually offering it right before the launch of a bigger program. We all do it to gather people who might be a good fit for our program, get them started, and then let them know about the bigger offer. Is it a sales tactic? Yes. But I don’t know anyone out there who isn’t busting their butt trying to give amazing content and information in these free or low-ticket events.
The last thing we want is for anyone to feel like they wasted their time with us. This is NOT, I repeat, this is NOT one of those time-share scams where they get you in a room and the ONLY thing you learn is why you should give them all of your money. The idea, rather, is to teach you something truly useful, and give you a chance to see what it’s like to work with them.
You can find various mini-courses on all sorts of topics. From how to master Instagram to SEO, to Excel Spreadsheets. These are pre-recorded and when you pay for them, you’ll get login information to access the course.
These group offers generally run between $2,000 and $8,000 with some running significantly higher depending on the length of time, number of trainings, and other factors.
Generally, these sessions are held live and online.
One of my best friends is someone I met in my first live coaching group, 3 years ago. We Voxer each other multiple times a day, every single day.
Two people who were in one of my first rounds of Profit Pivot just met for the first time IRL–2.5 years later! They were at the same conference and sent me a selfie that warmed my heart.
Again, this varies greatly in price depending on the kind of coaching, the experience of the coach, and how much access you get from them. They can run from $500 a month to (I kid you not!) $50,000 a session. To give you an idea, I see my 1:1 clients alone every other week for 90 minutes, hold office hours every week (basically just a giant work party/Q&A session that all of my group and 1:1 clients are invited to) and they can Voxer me whenever. My fees are now around $1,000 a month.
There are 2 basic kinds of Masterminds, but both lean heavily on the peer dynamic. A paid mastermind is put together by a coach, and the members are hand-picked or can apply, but the group is held to a certain standard (income level or type of work are typical) Instead of following a training syllabus like in a group program, masterminds give each member time in the “hot-seat” to talk about their projects, and ask questions, talk about where they are getting stuck, and get ideas and insights from the rest of the group.
Unpaid masterminds are put together by a group of peers themselves. I was in one with a couple of friends back in 2019! And it was a huge kickstart to the early days of my business. Brendon Burchard put one together with his besties (Amy Porterfield, Jenna Kutcher, Lewis Howes, etc.) and although they don’t pay to be IN the mastermind, they all commit to getting themselves to wherever they are meeting in person–covering their flights, hotel rooms, meals, etc. (*Also, what I would give to be a fly on THAT wall!)
Some of the better-known mastermind groups can run up to $25,000 or $50,000. But then, you’re paying for access to the greatest business minds out there.
Looking back, I can’t believe how far I’ve come. From pulling the old dead plants out of the dried-out pots or the garden beds with 5-year-old soil I had them in, and planting new ones in their place. No surprise, they weren’t terribly successful.
Eventually, I learned that I needed to build up that soil with nutrients. Good nutrients–not cheap chemicals. And that those good nutrients could be free with compost that I made slowly and patiently, one banana peel at a time, or with slightly more expensive bags of compost or chicken manure that I bought at the garden center. Those things allowed my flowers and vegetables to thrive and succeed, and our careers are no different.
Investing in ourselves is a necessary step in our growth, and I have yet to see anyone succeed without doing it in some form. If you have all kinds of time but are short on cash, go for the free things. It will take you much longer, but you WILL be getting good information. If you have less time, and or, a bit of money to put towards it? I can promise you it’s worth it. It will fast-track your growth and get you there a lot sooner.
It took me from 2016 to 2020 to get to the first step with free content, and then a year of a group coaching program to get to the next step, and less than that with my current mastermind group.
Would I have done anything differently? No. Honestly, at first, I wasn’t perfectly clear on what it was I wanted to do, and I didn’t have cash on hand to pay for programs or courses. The free content got me started. I felt inspired and encouraged to keep going.
But I will say that I am SO glad that I DID, eventually choose to invest in that first coaching program and each course I take gives me so much new knowledge. I think it does need to be done at some point. It’s worth saving a little bit each month at the beginning in order to start seeing real growth and progress at some point.
I’ve experienced it first-hand, and I’ve witnessed it with my clients.
Have you taken a course or participated in a group program, or do you have a favorite podcast? Let us know in the comments so we can all share resources. You can find my round-up of favorite podcasts for creative entrepreneurs HERE. It’s a bit outdated and leans toward musicians, but while a couple of these podcasts have changed hosts, they are still around, and are all still amazing! I’ll do an updated post with some of my new finds soon (and I’d love to include some of yours, too!)
P.S. If you enjoyed this blog post and want more insider info on how to thrive as a creative, be sure you get on the list to receive my Friday “Weekend List.” Each one is loaded up with additional tips, tricks, and things to think about, including a new curated list of articles, books, podcasts, and things that I think you’d enjoy. Click Here to Get the Weekend List!