by Casey Lewis | Oct 11, 2016 | Career, Dreaming, Small Business
I’ve been tired.
I went from high school, to college, to dating my future spouse, to working 3 part time jobs, to working a full time job, to getting married, to building a home, and facing over $300,000 in debt by the time I was 21 years old.
We had a baby, lost our jobs, went through an epic financial meltdown, fought off bankruptcy and foreclosure, dug our way out of a huge hole financially, had another baby, built a business doing work we love, sold a house and bought a new one, and this week it’s our 10 year anniversary. It’s been a busy decade.
Your life maybe hasn’t been quite as extreme, but we’ve all definitely been busy.
And busy leads to tired, tired leads to stress, and stress leads to burnout…. and y’all I love the work that I get to do. I don’t want to burnout.
So about 6 months ago I realized that I could press pause, take care of me and my family, and come back to press play when the time felt right. I could come back to writing and creating new content. I could come back to the big business plans and scaling a company and hiring employees and creating products and changing my little corner of the world.
But I can’t do that stuff if I’m burnt out. I can’t do that stuff if my family isn’t with me. I can’t do that stuff and not have friends.
There are definitely seasons of life that require extra hustle and working multiple jobs and sacrifice and those seasons are important. Those seasons allow you greater seasons of rest and opportunity in the near future. So if you’re in one of those hustle seasons, then hustle. Go kill it. I promise it’s worth it.
But if you’re on the edge of burnout… if you’ve missed your kids recital or play or baseball game on multiple occasions… if you haven’t had a date with your spouse recently… if you haven’t had a guys night in months…. if you’re just tired of working so darn hard…
…pressing pause doesn’t make you a failure. It positions you for greater adventure.
by Casey Lewis | Jun 14, 2016 | Career, Marketing, Small Business
If you’re going to operate a business that can be sustainable and serve your customer base well, you need to know who they are. Unfortunately, even though our business has existed for almost 7 years now, I have never taken a moment to ask my clients anything about how we can serve them well. I don’t know how they know us, what their specific needs are, or how they like engaging with our company.
So I have been operating on assumptions and serving needs where and when they would pop up.
About 2 months ago I started our first client and reader survey to find out more about who was engaging with the website, Facebook, Twitter, and overall internet presence and I was quite surprised at the results. I had made some poor assumptions about who I was serving and I was wrong.
Doing this survey explained a lot to me about why we haven’t been able to reach certain goals as a company and more importantly what we need to do in the future to serve people better.
If you’ve never questioned the clients that walk through your front door, or on your email list, or in your restaurant, or from your website, I think you’re missing a valuable opportunity to connect deeper with those you wish to serve. (ps. I’d love to help you do this. Reach out to me here if you’d like some guidance.)
We received about 800 responses from the people of the internet. Below are the results from my now annual reader and client survey along with my insights into what the info for 2016 is telling me.
Since this survey was primarily intended for the audience our company engages with online, this wasn’t a huge surprise. I wrote my first book in March 2016 and really started engaging with internet marketing and strategies about 24 months ago, even though I’ve been writing online now for 7 years.
There’s tons of value in knowing the age of your target audience. Knowing that most of the people that interact with me on the internet are in a similar life stage that I’m in is going to help me produce content that fits in with that same demographic. For example, I can write an article about the top 20 ways to pay for college on my own website and since 65% of those reading the article are between 25-40, they have no use for that article. It doesn’t apply to them. They’re either fresh out of college themselves or their kids are still 5-10 years away from college.
I shouldn’t create content about how to travel the world well when you’re retired because exactly 0% of those in the survey are in retirement age.
This doesn’t mean I can’t write these articles. It just means I should publish that article to a more select audience on a website where that article would provide more value to more people, because it doesn’t serve the majority of my audience that I’m connected with well right now.
I honestly expected a more 50/50 split. But knowing this will impact the other voices that I bring into our company. If I added another voice to the podcast for example, it’d be beneficial if it were a female that could help me relate to 70% of those listening.
Married women in their 30’s. That’s the demographic of who is primarily interacting with content I produce online. It’s not what I expected. It’s not who I’ve been developing content for the past 5 years. I honestly thought I’ve been producing content for young families and young men in the mid-20’s… because I was a young family man in my mid-20’s when I started all of this.
No surprises here. However this was a solid validation for me. Part of the company mission is to help people get out of debt. If those that were interacting with our content didn’t have any debt, that’d be silly for me to produce content focused on that area.
So we have a good chunk of people in the $5,000-$30,000 range, and another good chunk of people in the $30,000-$60,000 range. For average purposes, this helps me know what advice to give that can help most people.
Because as I’m writing an article, or recording a podcast episode, or creating a video series, I have a certain audience member in my head that I’m speaking to. More often than not, I draw from my own perspective when we had non-consumer debt and our number fell in the $100k+ range. That’s not what people that are looking to me for advice are experiencing. So now when I produce content I can say, “If you have $10k in debt, do this….or if you have $60k, do this….” It allows me to more deeply connect on an individual level with each piece of content.
As a side note, way to go 21.2% that are debt free!
The big 3. Student Loans, Car Payments, and Credit Cards. So when I’m creating “Get Out of Debt” products and content, I know that I can briefly touch on personal loans, 401k loans, and HELOC’s. But I need to spend my time focusing on the big 3.
This is a pretty good reflection of income ranges in North America. What did surprise me is that over 60% are making well over the median household income. It just goes to show that no matter your income level, you still need money help.
I expected there to be more Dual Income Earning Families. This was a big surprise to see it split so evenly. So now I know I can develop content for stay at home parents and that over 50% of people could benefit from it.
I wrote this book in 2013. Before I really started getting big on internet marketing. And clearly I’ve done a terrible job promoting it and giving a compelling reason why it can help. My writing style has improved drastically since 2013, but the value of the book is still quite solid. I’m still proud of it. But I’ve got to do a better job learning how to market books. That’s on me and something I can learn to improve.
55% rated themselves at a 5 or below. Again this is just validation and confirmation that people need help in this area.
If these numbers were reversed I’d be in the wrong business. I was actually surprised at the little sliver of “Not Really” but the vast majority of people that interact with my online content want to be debt free.
I’m an idiot. 68.7% of people that interact with me online trust me enough to exchange their hard earned money for a class, product, or software to help them with money and I haven’t created one yet. As a business owner, that’s a horrible feeling. People want something from me, I can benefit from it in the process, and nobody is being served. Ugh.
I was super surprised by the answer to this question. 34% of people love their career. Another 33% say they’re pretty happy with where they work. That’s completely opposite of a Wall Street Journal Study that says 8 out of 10 people HATE their job. I guess I’m hanging around pretty happy, awesome people on the inter-webs.
I had plans to develop curriculum and content that would help with working through transitions into a “dream” career. But with 67% of my clients and readers saying they’re pretty happy already, it doesn’t make sense. This one question probably saved me 3 months of work and money and marketing and promotion for a product that likely wouldn’t sell much.
On the opposite end however, people want to make more money. 79% feel they’d like to make a little more, a lot more, or making more money is a necessity. That’s something I know how to do well and can help with. There’s a need that I can serve that I’ve been missing and would’ve continued to miss without this survey.
Since the answers got cut off on the chart, they are: Knowing what to do with money, Accountability with money, Discussing money with your spouse, Managing a Budget, and Earning more money.
Again, I’ve been putting together some content to help people engage better in their marriage about money discussions. That’ll help 16% of people. I’ve been putting together content that teaches the “how-to” type stuff. That’ll help 15% of people.
What it looks like I need to be working on is Accountability groups, budget tracking and managing tools, and education for making more money.
I thought a larger percentage of people would be struggling in this area. That’s probably just me projecting my former issues onto my clients. But I’ve spent a lot of time and effort into creating content over the past few years helping people get on the same page with money with their spouse. That content benefits maybe 25% of my clients, while the other 75% are doing pretty awesome.
Again, I’m an idiot. 52% of my clients would pay me $10/month ($120/year) if I’d just develop some easy to use software. Another 30% would use the tool if I had a free version. As a business owner that’s tens of thousands in revenue being missed out on. As a person that wants to help people, they’re basically screaming at me to create something to help them and I haven’t…. yet.
This is kind of a new dream. I think we could host a pretty awesome conference that’s less “feel good” and more tangible action and equipping. So I was just curious if people had any interest in something like this. 37% said they’re likely in and over 85% said they’d interested. That’s enough of a response to really consider doing this thing!
Here are the answers: Getting out of debt. Boosting income. Relationships with money. Real estate. Investments. College planning. Small business. Marketing.
Boosting income and small business were the 2 stand outs in this group. They also are things I’m super passionate about. It doesn’t mean I’ll do less of the other stuff, but my focus may shift some so I’m helping people with what they’re asking for most.
So here is the shocker. As much as everyone says to have your own domain and website… the vast majority of people want to just interact with my content on social media.
That’s why if you go through the archives of caseylewis.com you’ll see that there hasn’t been a lot of new content published lately. But if you go through my Facebook timeline for the past few months, in between the jokes and pictures of queso, you’re going to find regular status updates that are “mini-blog-posts” on a very regular basis.
This is an indicator of a shift in technology and web design. I don’t know exactly what it means yet, but I know social media and mobile ready content is how I’m going to interact with people more in the future.
Still an idiot. More than 50% of people would pay me $100 to create a class about stuff I’ve personally done and know a lot about. And I haven’t created the class.
Yep. Idiot still. I asked a direct question if someone would pay me if I created something and they’ve overwhelmingly said yes. This is tens of thousands in revenue for the business, but it’s also providing extreme value to help people.
This was really the first big product I launched online besides my book. I’d say I did a better job of getting the word out. This was also valuable data to see because I know how many people purchased the Fit Money Challenge. I know how many people took the survey and I know how many people say they’ve heard about the challenge. That gives me a good ratio to know how many people will sign up for the next round based on the number of people I tell about it.
And speaking of the next round, 52% of those on the survey said they’d participate in a new round and they told me what price range they’d be willing to pay. This is great for the pricing strategy when we do launch a new round of the challenge.
I personally hate my wallet. I always have. It’s hard to use cash and carry a traditional wallet. I’ve been search for a while and been unable to find something that works so I personally want to create my own. I thought it’d be huge and that my clients would like it. But 67% aren’t interested or don’t even know what it is. It’s tough to create a product around those numbers.
I think this falls into the social media shift happening as well. I’m glad I asked this question because my thoughts were to spend a lot of time and effort on designing and creating an awesome website filled with specific content. But it doesn’t appear it’d be a go to source for the majority of my audience. I still may create it because it serves value for those that need it, but it’s no longer a priority.
So that’s what I learned from my first reader survey. What do you think? Could your business benefit from gaining insights like this?
I’d love to help your company survey your own client base. If you’d like help on something like that, just reach out to me here.
***I don’t currently publish content frequently on this site, however I send a weekly Newsletter email out that is full of money tips as well as links to other valuable money and career related content. If you’d like to receive the Newsletter and also a FREE copy of my 30 Days to Better Money eBook, you can sign up here.***
by Casey Lewis | Jul 14, 2015 | Career, Dreaming, Small Business
I really wanted it to be my company’s fault that I was miserable in my corporate job.
And the company before that, it was their fault too. And the one before that, they were to blame for why I wasn’t enjoying my work.
It has to be something these corporations are doing wrong that’s making me feel stuck in a dead-end job.
I mean, I would show up to work everyday with a terrible attitude, mainly because I hate traffic and the office was 90 minutes away. Then I’d spend the next few hours catching up on social media, reading the top articles on Yahoo, setting my fantasy team rosters, all while pretending to work in my fluorescent lit cubicle. Then I spend about an hour doing my job and head off for a long lunch.
Coming back from lunch, I would chat with co-workers some before heading back to my desk to get some work done. When 4:00 rolled around, I’d start winding down for the workday and get ready to head home. Then I’d dread my 90 minute commute home and play over and over in my head how much my job sucks.
Tomorrow, press repeat.
Okay, so I wasn’t that bad of an employee every day. Some days I would give 100% to my corporate job that had the nerve to ask me for a full 8 hours of work doing the job they’d hired me for in exchange for a steady paycheck, health benefits, and 14 days of paid vacation.
But most days, they’d be lucky to get 75% out of me.
Here’s what I know about myself. I hate traffic. When I drove in for the interview and it took 90 minutes, I should have known I’d be miserable.
I don’t enjoy working inside an office building for 50 hours a week. I’m a free spirit baby. Let me spread my wings! When they told me I’d need to be in the office by 9am and go home by 6pm and that I’d be sitting in a cubicle, I should have known that I wasn’t going to enjoy the job.
While I love sales and it’s a very strong skill-set for me, I don’t enjoy high volume new business acquisition sales jobs. (That’s a fancy way of saying telemarketer). So when I read the job description, I should have known that this wasn’t going to be fun.
It wasn’t their fault.
They paid me a very fair wage. They provided me with some great opportunities. I was just a very terrible employee. And when I’d start to blame them for why I hated work, I’d just go find some new company to be a terrible employee for.
When I called a Do Over, I chose to start my own business.
I love my work. I get to help people using my unique skill-set. I have opportunities to hustle on projects I love every day. I get to build some awesome relationships with people online and people here in my local community. I put in 110% of a hard days work and still finish up the day with energy to hang out with my wife and kids.
But now that I work for myself full-time, some days the longest commute of my life is the 32 steps my Fitbit says it takes to get from my bedroom to my home office. There are still opportunities for me to be miserable in my work if I choose to be.
And that’s the lesson I’m learning about dreams and Do Over’s. I get to choose. My work doesn’t have to be miserable.
Entrepreneurship is right for me. Maybe working for a big company or a small business is more your style. I’m not trying to convince you to quit your job and step out into the sea of being self- employed.
I worked for several of the worlds biggest and best companies. I could have made the choice to call a Do Over at my corporate job and been the best employee I could possibly be. I could have made the choice to invest in the relationships with the people around me. I could have chosen to have a better attitude and work hard. I could have looked for ways to use my skills to improve the company and my job. I could have chosen to enjoy my time working for them while getting ready to start my own adventure.
My company was the biggest investor in me chasing after my dream.
It wasn’t their fault I hated my job.
(Check out my friend Jon Acuff’s new book Do Over to find out how you can build a Career Savings Account and call a “Do Over” on your own career.)
by Casey Lewis | Jul 13, 2015 | Career, Debt, Dreaming, Marketing, Money, Small Business
The more I talk about the need to increase your income in order to get out of debt and build wealth I find that the idea hasn’t crossed the mind of very many people.
Sure, we’d all like to earn more money. But have you really taken time to think about what you’d need to do to make it happen.
We’re at the halfway point of 2015.
Did you set an income goal for the year? If so, it’s time to check in and see if you’re on track.
If you didn’t set an income goal for the year, a great place to start right now is to total up how much you’ve made between January-July. Now, can you earn 10% more? What about 30% more? 50%? Double?
Once you set the goal, the next step is to come up with some ways to make it happen.
For many people, the fastest way to earning more money is creating, starting, or increasing your own business. And as a business owner, you need to know how to use some great tools to attract new customers.
Tonight, at 7:01pm central I’ll be giving a FREE live screen share presentation of the tools I use to attract readers, listeners, clients, and how my systems make my life easier as a business owner. It’s 100% free. I’m not selling anything. There will be no “pitch” that you’ve come to expect with webinars. It’s just me, hanging out with some friends online and showing you some awesome ways to build a business.
If you’d like to join me, register here. If you’re not available for the live screen share, sign up anyway. The replay will be available.
by Casey Lewis | Apr 22, 2015 | Career, Debt, Dreaming, Marketing, Money, Small Business
Besides living life on a budget or getting out of consumer debt, one of the best things you can do financially is to focus on drastically increasing your income.
You already work hard. You trade hours of your life for a paycheck from someone else and maybe they don’t offer over-time opportunities and getting a raise anytime soon is probably not going to happen. If this is you, and you’re wanting to boost your income you really have 2 options.
First, apply for new jobs that pay more than your current job. Who cares if you meet all the qualifications on the job description? Make your resume pretty and just go for it! You may just talk someone into a new position that pays you double what you’re currently making.
That may be a good option, especially if you’re working toward that type of job for your long term career. But maybe you just need a quick boost in income for a short time period to help you reach some other financial goals like getting out of debt, or building a savings account.
Here are the steps I would take if I needed to boost my income quickly. Substitute the business I use as an example for whatever you would like to do.
- Create a simple business card for “Casey’s Lawn Service” and spend $50 to print 500 of them.
- Go to an upscale neighborhood in my area and place my business card on the front door of 500 homes.
Let’s say I got a terrible response rate from this of 1%. That means 5 people call me to come mow their lawn. That would be 5 people paying me about $25 a week, for 6 months. That’s $500/month for the next 6 months! Not too bad for a few hours of work.
Now, if I really wanted to get a better return, I’d step outside of my comfort zone some and here’s what I’d do.
- Create a simple business card for “Casey’s Lawn Service” and spend $50 to print 500 of them.
- Go to an upscale neighborhood in my area and knock on 350 doors.
- When they answer the door, I’d ask them “who maintains your yard and landscaping?”
- I’d then let them know that I mow lawns in their neighborhood and that I’d love the opportunity to take care of their lawn and landscaping for them. I’d tell them that the cost is $25/week. If their lawn needs mowed while I’m there, I’d offer to do it right then for them.
- If they say no, I would ask them “Are you not hiring me because of the price or is it because you prefer to take care of your lawn yourself?”
- If they say that it’s the price, I would ask them “Is there a price per week that you would hire me to mow your lawn?” (There likely is)
- Once they tell me they’d pay me $10 a week I’d say this: “Tell you what Billy, if you’d let me place a small sign in your yard each week when I come mow your lawn, then I’ll mow your lawn for the next month for just $10 a week. After a month if you want me to keep mowing, we’ll raise the price to my normal rates. If not, no hard feelings and we can still be friends. This will help me tell your neighbors that I mow lawns in this neighborhood and it gets you a great deal. Does that work?”
- Billy will likely hire me. If he doesn’t at that point, I’ll shake his hand and move on to his neighbor.
- Notice I saved 150 cards above. Every time I mow a lawn in the area, I will go to the neighbors that are immediately around my customers house, knock on the door, and tell them that I take care of their neighbors yard and ask if I can provide their lawn care service too.
In my sales experience from the past I know that this process is going to bring about a 20% response rate. That’d be 100 homes. At $25 a week. For 6 months. That’s a $60,000 a year business. As a bonus, all of the work is in a small serviceable area, so I don’t have to drive all over.
I probably couldn’t take care of 100 homes all by myself. I especially couldn’t do that many if I had a full time job as well. I’d need to hire some help, but that’s okay because I’m making an extra $5,000/month.
Sometimes businesses get accidentally started this way. So whether you’re looking to boost your income to reach a short term financial goal or you’re looking to start up a new project, it is absolutely possible to create more income with a little bit of effort.
What type of side income are you thinking about trying?
by Casey Lewis | Feb 17, 2015 | Career, Dreaming, Money, Small Business
In years past the goal, the American Dream, was to go to college, get a good job with a good stable company, buy the house with the white picket fence, grow old with the love of your life, and after spending 30-40 years with your company you’d retire with a healthy pension.
Fast forward to 2015 and beyond and that landscape is drastically different. Instead of pensions, companies have opted for employee contributions into 401k programs. The idea of staying at the same company for 40 years to a majority of young employees seems crazy. And of course crippling student loan debt is causing young 20-somethings to postpone marriage and delay purchasing the house with the white picket fence.
The workforce is rapidly changing from W-2 employee’s at corporations to independent freelance contractors. With that in mind, having more than 1 way to earn money is going to be critical to the American Dream in the future.
This fancy internet thing has changed the entire landscape of the American workforce and it’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Now, if you’re a copywriter you no longer have to commute an hour a day to the office where you’ll sit in a cubicle for 40 hours a week waiting on your next assignment. You can basically do that job from anywhere in the world. Even better, you don’t have to just write for one company, but you could bring on 5 or 10 different companies to write for.
Now if you’re a personal trainer, you don’t just have to sit at the gym all day, 40 hours a week, trying to convince everyone there that they need your services. You can build an online audience that loves your training methods and seeks out ways to pay you for your advice, coaching, and support.
Now, if you’re a plumber you don’t just have to go fix leaky pipes all day. You can shoot Youtube videos of yourself doing the work, set up a Google Ads account, and get paid when people around the world are watching your videos on how they can do the job themselves.
Now, if you’ve built a successful lawn care business, there are other people around the world that would pay you for the knowledge you have of how you built that business.
I have friends making thousands of dollars selling things they create on Etsy. I know teachers making hundreds of extra dollars each month selling the curriculum they create on Teacherspayteachers.
This is the New American Dream. Getting paid for work you were going to do anyway, when you want to do the work, and from where you want to do the work. Finding more than one way to make money in the future is going to be critical. Why not start now?
Question: What are some things you could do to add an extra stream of revenue to your household income? Tell me your thoughts in the comments.