The journey from martial arts business owner to health course creator to online entrepreneur membership site creator with Kevin Geary of Digital Ambition in this episode of the LMScast podcast hosted by Chris Badgett of LifterLMS.
Kevin started his first successful online business in 2013. Before that he was the co-owner of a martial arts studio where he lives in Atlanta. That is where Kevin had his first entrepreneurial experience working in a brick and mortar studio. Around 2012 he started to lose interest in the martial arts industry, and the partnership in that business was not going great. As his business turned into a soul sucking day job, he ended up looking for different avenues.
Building websites for himself was his experience in web design, and the idea of location independence was Kevin’s inspiration for jumping ship and working really hard to make his business Digital Ambition work.
During the time Kevin spent working in martial arts he had fallen out of practice and found himself gaining weight, peaking at about 40 pounds overweight. He began a real food diet and functional fitness exercise routine, and he got into healthy shape again. During his process of losing weight, people inquired about how he was managing to get back in shape, and he structured a program they could follow along with that eventually translated into an online course.
The idea behind functional fitness is to emphasize natural movement by committing to routines that have you move and condition the way your body naturally does. Sports and jogging are a few examples of functional fitness.
Assisting students in the process of implementing the strategies you teach in your online course is a great way to make sure you’re delivering effective solutions and get feedback on the success of your program. Kevin shares how he structures his live calls and mastermind sessions through his business to ensure his clients get the most out of the programs.
Building the know, like, and trust factor with your audience is a big part of making sales and connecting with your students. Kevin has both a podcast and a YouTube channel he creates content for. Relatability can also be communicated in a big way through YouTube and videos in general. Kevin shares how he connected with Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income, because Pat was also a father entrepreneur looking for location freedom through online business.
To learn more about Kevin Geary be sure you check out DigitalAmbition.co. He has a few free guides over there to check out. At LifterLMS.com you can learn more about new developments and how you can use LifterLMS to build online courses and membership sites. Subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. If you like this episode of LMScast, you can browse more episodes here. Thank you for joining us!
Chris Badgett: You’ve come to the right place if you’re a course creator looking to build more impact, income, and freedom. LMScast is the number one podcast for course creators just like you. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I’m the co-founder of the most powerful tool for building, selling, and protecting engaging online courses called LifterLMS. Enjoy the show.
Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name’s Chris Badgett, and we’re joined by a special guest, Kevin Geary from DigitalAmbition.co. Welcome to the show, Kevin.
Kevin Geary: Thanks for having me. Glad to be here.
Chris Badgett: I’m really excited to get in it with you, because I help entrepreneurs, you help entrepreneurs build profitable digital businesses, online businesses. For me, it’s specifically in a course base. You also have a journey as a course creator, someone who’s created a membership. There’s your kind of case study and your journey, what worked for you. You said that started in 2013? Is that right?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, my first working online business started in 2013, and that was the online business that allowed me to go full-time online.
Chris Badgett: What were you doing before you became an online entrepreneur?
Kevin Geary: I was the co-owner in a martial arts studio here in Atlanta that opened in 2018. I was the manager of a martial arts studio before that. That was the very beginning of my entrepreneurial journey, running a brick and mortar studio. In 2012 ish, I really started to just not like that industry much anymore. The partnership that I was in wasn’t going that great. I was already starting to kind of … My first daughter was born in 2012. And so I kind of had what I felt at the time was a soul sucking day job at that point. I just despised getting up every day and having to go back into that studio, and that environment in that situation. I started looking at different avenues.
Kevin Geary: I had had experience in the online space before that doing blogging and things like that. I had been designing websites for a long time just for myself, not as a business or anything. I had tools, and I decided at that point, all right well if I’m going to jump ship … I loved the idea of location independence and schedule independence. I was like, let’s go online really hard and see if we can make this thing actually work, this idea, this concept of online business. 2013 is when we launched. That was in January of 2013. August 2013, I left that job, and the rest is history.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Was that your health related online business?
Kevin Geary: Yes, yeah.
Chris Badgett: Was martial arts the bridge to the health focus? Because I know martial arts has a lot of inter gain and health and fitness.
Kevin Geary: It does, yeah. No, but that wasn’t the bridge. The bridge was my own personal health journey. When I switched into teaching in martial arts, I was so busy on the teaching side of things that I actually stopped practicing for a while, and I gained a lot of weight. I didn’t have a good diet and good eating. When I stopped the actual training side of it, I was just doing teaching, and I was doing coaching. We had a national competition team, so I was traveling around doing that. All of that took my time. I stopped training as much I was, gained a lot of weight. All throughout my life, I was up and down with weight. I had to watch my weight very carefully. In, I think it was 2009 ish, I was basically 35, 40 pounds overweight. At that time, I went to get a physical. They said, “You have high blood pressure, you’re a borderline diabetic, you need to get in control of this stuff.”
Kevin Geary: And so I started making a move towards that, and thankfully I went online, I found the real food movement where it was like, hey, just eat real food. Stop doing all the dieting and the Weight Watchers stuff that I had been doing in the past. I started doing that, started doing more functional fitness instead of going to the gym and reading a piece of paper, and doing sets, and this and that. I just started doing more natural stuff. I just went out and walked, I played tennis, I did stuff that was fun. I actually lost all of the weight fairly easily just following the real food, functional fitness kind of stuff. At the martial arts studio where I was teaching all of the students, mostly were kids, the parents were like, “Dude, what are you doing? You just lost all this weight. You look fantastic. What are you doing?”
Kevin Geary: And so I started telling them, sharing with them. They asked me, “Hey, can you put some structure to this so we can follow it?” Started to do that. They started following it, they started getting amazing results. At the time I was like, all right well, maybe this is the thing. I love doing this, I love seeing what it’s doing for other people. Maybe we should take this, this should be the online thing. We should try to bring this into the online space. And that’s what I did.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Can you just elaborate a little more on functional fitness? What does that mean?
Kevin Geary: Yeah. There’s a lot of different ways that people go about the idea of functional fitness. Some are just like, it’s activities out in the world. Sports is a perfect example of functional fitness. But now other people-
Chris Badgett: It’s not isolated movements in the gym.
Kevin Geary: Exactly, right. But other people do take it into the weight room, and so they would design weight lifting routines that are more functional. It’s like somebody would consider a dead lift to be more functional than a bicep curl or something. There’s different definitions of it. But for me, it was out in the world, out in the environment, and stuff that translates to the real world. Yeah, all those isolated weight lifting exercises you see people doing with dumbbells don’t really translate to your daily movement and any athleticism or anything like that.
Chris Badgett: Very cool. What did you create? What was the online business in this niche? What was it? Was it a course? Was it a membership? Was there an e-book? What was it?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, no, it was a course. Right off the bat, I went into the online course space and probably made one of the biggest mistakes doing that is that I tried to make this giant six month online course program that covered everything. Everything that people wanted to know and was asking me, that was what went into the course. It had structure and it had like, all right, we’re going to do this step first, then this step, and then this step. I had another coach that I brought in to help with all of that. We launched it incorrectly where the very first time I put it out, I let people buy. It was six stages, and I let people buy individual stages instead of just buying the entire course. That was the original way.
Kevin Geary: And then figured out very quickly, all right, that’s not going to work. And then packaged it all into one, and just slowly but surely did it at the wrong price points. It was tremendously cheap. I think the payment plan was like six payments of $9 was the very first offer of it. This is a course, by the way, that ended up selling for $695 at some point. You can see the vast difference in, all right here’s where we started and here’s where we got to. But that stayed the flagship product for a while. We ended up calling it back from a six month to a 90 day course to make it a lot more digestible and approachable for a lot of people. And in doing that, it became simpler and easier to follow, and then we got feedback from people going through it on how to make it better and how to get people better results. It just was in constant development and restructuring, and we relaunched it multiple times. But that was one of the main things that we offered.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. I just want to highlight how you went back through it, you kept adjusting things. You didn’t just walk away and be like, this isn’t working.
Kevin Geary: No.
Chris Badgett: You just kept changing it, testing assumptions. I think that’s really smart. Now, you offer a membership at DigitalAmbition.co where you help online business owners people grow or get started. This is the other niche you’re in, which is the online entrepreneurship niche. How do you help those people?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, I bring them into a membership community environment. Basically what I wished I had been in when I was going through this the first time, and really the second time, and then all the times I failed before that would’ve been nice to be in something like this as well. But it’s kind of like, and I found this for myself and almost all of the online entrepreneurs that I talked to. A lot of people want to sell like a recipe. They have their marketing recipe or their Facebook Ads recipe, or this and that. For me as an online entrepreneur, most people that I work with and talk to, they want somebody who has a cookbook where it’s like you come in like, look at my business, here’s what’s going on in my business, here’s what I feel is going wrong, here’s what I feel is going right. What do you think I should do next? What do all of you think I should do next?
Kevin Geary: And so it’s not like a, come learn this, come learn that. It’s more like a, come look at what I’m doing. Give me that feedback and advice based on your experience, and then help me execute on that, and make sure that I’m executing correctly. You’ve probably experienced the same thing. It’s not that online courses can’t have this component. They certainly do and probably should. But somebody can learn something in an online course. They can learn the exact right thing that they need to do for their business, and go off and just be terrible at execution, and then it fails.
Kevin Geary: And then what do they say? “Hey, that thing you taught me doesn’t work.” Or, “That thing you told me to do doesn’t work.” It’s like no, it’s the execution that went wrong, not the idea, not the strategy or the tactic. Being in that membership community where we’re constantly … I’ve tried to build a membership community in a different way than the other ones that I see available out there where a lot of people want to make membership communities centered around come learn things. Here’s all the trainings that we have. Come do our trainings library, and we bring guest experts in to do all of this training. Our pitch is more like, come in and let us look at your business. Come in and let us hear what you have to say about what’s working and what’s not working, and what we think you should do next. It’s more about that personalization and getting you that guidance, that personalized guidance and support that you really want. That person looking over your shoulder saying, “All right, I see your sales page, here’s what I would recommend that you change. Here’s what you did really well. Here’s what’s missing, here’s this landing page, here’s why it’s probably not working. Here’s why that Facebook ad might not be working.”
Kevin Geary: Making those adjustments and pivots just as I did. But of course the figuring it out all on your own method is very costly in both time and money.
Chris Badgett: I love this. When I see somebody who’s making an online training program, I’m always asking what’s in the stack. The most successful ones are not just courses. It’s not just the training library. I’m just looking inside what your offering here is. You have the premium training library, but you also have checklists, cheat sheets and more, a helpful community, weekly hot seat calls, and the Hive, which is like your own news portal. Just like what’s going on? Or that’s what you call it. You call it-
Kevin Geary: It’s like a community feed, yeah. The community feed. The way that we-
Chris Badgett: Okay, so what’s new. It’s like a word of what’s-
Kevin Geary: It’s what’s new, it’s all of people’s posts. You can come on to the hot seat calls, for example, and you get to sit in the hot seat, and you get to choose one thing. We don’t go over everything. You get to choose one thing that you want to focus on in your business. You tell us what that is. It’s just like a mastermind, but you get to be in the hot seat every single week, basically. It’s a smaller condensed time slot, but you get to be there every day or every week, and you get to focus on your specific business. It’s not a mastermind in the sense that you have to show up and also give advice to everybody. It’s just me. You show up, everybody gets their time slot, and we go hard in the paint on that one thing. And then you take the advice, and you go execute it. And then if you want to focus on something else, guess what? You come back next week to focus on something else. We don’t go like, “Here’s this, and then that,” and I give you this giant checklist of to-do stuff, dumping it on your plate.
Kevin Geary: We pick one thing to fix or to go after, and then you execute on that, and then come back. Now, that’s with me. We also have the community feed. If you want feedback from everybody in the Hive, then you go to the community feed, you post, “Hey guys, I just made this new landing page, I just made this new Facebook ad, I just made this new sales page. Please go take a look at it, let me know what you think. What’s missing? What needs to be changed? What’s not clear?” You can get general feedback and advice from the community that way.
Chris Badgett: Wow, that’s awesome. What is the checklist, cheat sheets and more? These are extra resources? Which are awesome because it can take big ideas and actually give you an execution plan or help you take big idea and break it out into something that you can actually use. What are some example checklists and cheat sheets you have?
Kevin Geary: Yeah. There’s actually two of them that you can get for free. Two of the major ones that I offer, you can get for free. I give them away for free because I want people to see what the thought process is like, and what the kind of resources that we develop are, knowing full and well that if you download one of these, you can’t really sit there and do it on your own. You have to have guidance or feedback on it, or parts of it explained to you. One is called the one page freedom plan. That’s available for free in the site. That’s a cheat sheet. It’s a one page business plan that basically outlines everything that’s super important to keep focus on for your online business. I have another one that’s called, how to sell anything online. This is a multi-page almost like a workbook. You can just go down item by item, and it’s basically asking questions about things that your prospect is thinking about or needs to know, things that they hate, things that they desire. It just goes down.
Kevin Geary: If you’re saying, all right, I have this new online course, how am I going to write emails to sell it, how am I going to write Facebook ads to sell it, how am I going to create a freebie to get people in the door for it? This workbook answers all of those questions, and answers it in a way where when you’re writing, you can take what you’re writing and instantly insert it into a Facebook ad or an email, or whatever you happen to be doing to promote this thing. Again, people can have that for free. A lot of it, they can probably do on their own. But in order to do it effectively, it’s really helpful to have somebody who has done it before and knows what they’re doing to say, “Hey, am I writing the right stuff down? Am I using this stuff in the right way?”
Kevin Geary: People can have that for free if they want. If they want the guidance to go along with it, obviously that’s available to them as well in the Hive.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. If you go to DigitalAmbition.co/freedom-plan, you can get that. I’m not quite sure where on your website to get the workbook.
Kevin Geary: I’ll send you a link to it. I don’t have that one publicly. I have a video on my YouTube called, how to sell anything online, and then the cheat sheet is attached to that. I did that more as a content upgrade instead of a global freebie opt-in kind of thing.
Chris Badgett: What’s your YouTube channel called?
Kevin Geary: DigitalAmbition. That one, fairly recently, I actually announced … just a couple months ago I said, “Guys, I’m going hard in the paint on YouTube for the rest of the year.” That’s pretty much a brand new channel, but there’s some really good stuff there for people.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. You’ve gone from zero to over one million in online course sales across two different niches, so the health and the digital entrepreneur. What’s something that got you to escape velocity from the martial arts job that you did want to stay at, I believe? Or did you just say, I’m just out of here anyways, and I’m going to cut off my resources, and I just can’t take anymore? Which one?
Kevin Geary: No, no. No, I definitely didn’t do that. I definitely didn’t do that because like I said, my first daughter had just been born. My wife’s a stay-at-home mom. I was it. I’m the money coming in.
Chris Badgett: You had to reduce risk?
Kevin Geary: I did, I did. And so, when I say I started the business in 2013, that was the official launch of the online business. Now, if we’re being honest, all through 2012, while sitting in my … I have some assistant instructors who can teach class. Every time I’d go back to the office, while they take over the warmup or the cool down, I’m in there pounding away on the keyboard, getting blog posts written or stuff outlined that I’m going to have for this online business, and we started developing the website behind the scenes. And so a lot of the prep work … it’s not like I just launched in 2013 and boom, we’re traction and momentum and all that stuff.
Kevin Geary: There’s like six solid months of preparing to launch the website for this thing that was going on behind the scenes. I was doing that all through 2012. And then 2013 starts. I have my full-time income from the “day job.” I’m a co-owner, but it really feels like a job. I’ve got that, that’s nice and secure, launch the website. It wasn’t until April where we really got the first version of the online course ready to go. Like I said, the pricing was all wrong there, but people were buying. I had a podcast, I had a lot of blog articles by April. January, we started publishing. By April, a few of them started to rank, and just bring in some organic traffic. It was just random, a sale comes through. At $9, somebody agreed to make six payment of $9. And then the next week, a sale came through.
Kevin Geary: I go look at the analytics, I see, hey it’s coming from some articles, there’s podcast downloads happening. And so, I knew, all right, people are buying it at $9. Now obviously I do a little math and I’m like, this is going to take forever at $9. I start to feel like this is worth a lot more than $9. We go from 9 to 19. And then we went from 19 to 29, and then we went from 29 to 39, and 30 to 49. Went up to like $59, six payments of $59. Because every time I raised it, nothing happened. The sales didn’t go, they just kept coming in every time I raised the price. And so, we got the traction and momentum that way, just building. Those were pretty quick. I would change it from 29 to 39 after two weeks. When I went from 19 to 29 and nothing happened, I was like cool, let’s just go to 39. And so that all happened fairly quickly.
Kevin Geary: Of course with the recurring payments, they do cut off at the six month mark, which kind of sucked. But it did give pretty consistent revenue each month. Our turn rate was very low. There were not a lot of cancellations. We did get a lot of cancellations when I tested out a trial period. For those out there listening, if they’re wondering should I do a trial for my thing, we did see a huge … we tried a $1 trial for that. It works. In certain niches, I think that’s perfect. For certain products and things like that, it’s a great thing to try. It just wasn’t a good fit for us. We got a lot of people in the door who just wanted to poke around and like, hey, let’s just see what’s going on here. They had no intention of doing the work and getting results or anything like that. It’s kind of just a distraction for us. We took that away. But I got to a point where I was comfortable with the direction everything was headed, and I had more ideas for products and services on the table.
Kevin Geary: I was so fed up, and it was a big risk, but I took it. It worked out. I’m not saying that people should take that risk. I feel like the boat was coming into the dock, it wasn’t quite there. I kind of leapt off and swam as hard as I could to it. But it worked out.
Chris Badgett: In Japanese culture, there’s the concept of kaizen, which is continuous improvement. I see some people have it, and some people don’t. What is it about your situation that gave you the motivation to keep tweaking, to change the prices, to change the offer, to change this value stack in the program? Why did you keep working it?
Kevin Geary: Part of it is just having my back against the wall. There wasn’t any other option. I couldn’t sit there and keep watching a $9 sale roll in. It’s not going to pay the bills. It’s not going to get me to where I want to go. It’s not like I was inexperienced in entrepreneurship. I was running a martial arts studio. I was doing all the marketing for our martial arts studio. I was doing the online marketing for our martial arts studio. I was selling membership. Every single day people … A lot of people struggle with the online space because they’ve never sold anything before, they’ve never promoted anything before.
Chris Badgett: But you did that brick and mortar.
Kevin Geary: Yeah. Every day, I was on the phone with people, closing deals, I was selling out tournaments, I was getting people into our tournaments.
Chris Badgett: What does a martial arts membership cost per month?
Kevin Geary: We were selling at that time, 139, 149 a month.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, that’s substantial. One sale, that’s a lot of money.
Kevin Geary: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: If it’s for a year.
Kevin Geary: Yeah, prepay is for that. $1200 for the year, whatnot. If they have family members, some of those deals were $3500.
Chris Badgett: Buy one, get one. Yeah. Yeah, that’s huge.
Kevin Geary: Yeah. It’s not like selling little e-bucks and stuff like that. I was super comfortable getting on the phone with people. I started back when I was 18, is when I started my first go at a business. It was a mobile bartending service. It completely failed because I made myself the salesperson, and I had no idea what I was doing, and I didn’t even want to get on the phone with people. I was trying to just sell all the deals through email. They were like, “Can you give me a call?” I’m like, “No. I don’t know what that’s about. I don’t call people. We’re going to do this through email.” So yeah, needless to say, that business didn’t go well. But that’s what happens to so many people, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: Because they don’t have experience, like I don’t want to get on camera, I don’t want to be on YouTube, I don’t want my voice to be out there, I don’t want to be on a podcast. There’s so much of that stuff that prevents people from being successful just because they’re afraid of it. I went through a lot of that. But by the time I did the martial arts thing, and then I was ready for this online business, there wasn’t really anything holding me back at that point.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. Now, you mentioned, you admitted a mistake of making what we call on this channel a giant course.
Kevin Geary: Yes.
Chris Badgett: And then you dialed it back to something we recommend, which is a 12 week program. You said 90 days, so three month program. How did you take this library of information that’s huge and think more about, week one, week two? How did you make that transition?
Kevin Geary: Well, first of all, I did an audit of it, and I realized when I was first building this thing, some of the stuff sounded good and felt like it needed to be there. But once you watched people go through it, and you started talking to people, it was as simple as let’s just take one stage, like stage three or something … Each stage had eight or nine different modules in it, which I don’t design any of the trainings I do anymore like that. I pretty much do three parts. It’s three parts, and then that’s a core thing, and then we’re going to move onto the next one. This had like eight or nine different things. One of the pieces of feedback we got a lot of times was, I’m having trouble knowing where I’m at in the course, in the program and what to do next, or the checklists are too long, and on and on and on. But there were conversation, people would tell you, “Hey, module two, I just skipped it. I didn’t even pay attention to it.”
Kevin Geary: When so many people tell you that over and over and over again, it’s like, we’ll just take that module out. Obviously it’s not necessary. And so, you just watch a bunch of people go through it. Even though I was selling it at the wrong price, I was kind of thankful because it was getting a lot of people in the door, and a lot of those people turned into good testimonials and really good feedback for what needed to change in the program. We just started with what are people telling us if they’re not liking X, Y, Z? Or they’re not even using it, let’s just take it out. We took a simpler is better approach, and then that became …
Kevin Geary: It’s funny because in marketing, the same situation can have really good pros, and really good cons, and it’s just what you decide to focus on. When it was a big six month program, we marketed as, look this stuff’s not easy, it’s going to take time. That’s why you need a giant program like this. And then when it was stripped down, it became, hey we’ve learned over time, here’s the most efficient way to get you from point A to point B. I still think there’s probably a good selling point for, we’re going to make a year long course, and I want you to commit to this thing, and I want you to pay a really sizeable amount for it, and you’re going to stick with it. Because we’re structuring it that way. But then again, there’s also a really good selling point for why something should be 60 or 90 days, to get people quick wins and get their momentum and traction going. You can do it either way, but the 60 to 90 day thing is far easier from a business standpoint to promote, to build, to sell.
Chris Badgett: That is awesome. You mentioned you’re doubling down on YouTube.
Kevin Geary: Yes.
Chris Badgett: Why?
Kevin Geary: YouTube for me, when I look at the channel and how it’s used in particular, in the health space, it was just a lot of talking to camera. I feel like that’s not quite as good. You can probably find ways to make it more interesting and stuff. But with what I do now, I do a lot of screen sharing stuff, I do a lot of tutorial based stuff. And so, video just makes a lot of sense. But from a standpoint of marketing, when I look at how people are using channels, the two that I love the most are podcasting and YouTube. The reason is, when somebody discovers your YouTube channel, the same is true with your podcast, high percentage of them dive in deep. They will go watch lots of your videos, they will go download the last 15 podcast episodes you did, and sit there and binge listen to them, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: Not only are in their ear as well as in their eyeballs with YouTube, and then your content is getting into them the same way it would through a blog post, but you have all of these different channels that you’re hitting on. The ear, the eye, the brain, everything is engaged. What I found is that people just build know, like and trust way faster. It’s completely different. I don’t think there’s anybody, at least I haven’t met them, that’ll read a blog post and go, great, I’m going to sit here and read the next 15 blog posts that you have. Especially mine when they’re 2500 words long. You can’t just have that kind of attention from people, but they’ll gladly do that with a podcast. They’ll gladly do that with a YouTube channel. And so, if those things aren’t there, you’re missing out on those people who will be super fans and just binge all of your stuff and then be like, “All right, where do I buy?” Because they just listened to hours of your content.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. How do you stand out in a crowded niche? Helping somebody start and grow an online business is a crowded niche, but there’s only one you.
Kevin Geary: Yes.
Chris Badgett: You probably have your specific type of person or tribe that you work with. Can you give us some insight into how you stand out in a crowded market? Just so people who are faced with the same thing … Crowded markets aren’t necessarily a bad thing either. But how do you approach that challenge?
Kevin Geary: Yeah. There’s a few different ways. First of all, I present myself as a normal, every day guy, person. You can go to my Instagram, and you’re going to see my family. I’ve got three kids. I do the daily family grind. And so, one of the things is, is you don’t have to be a 22 year old single, high driven, entrepreneurial guy to succeed at this stuff. If you’ve got three kids, and you feel like you don’t have any time, I’m for you because I’m going to show you how to win in that kind of environment. That’s one, just presenting myself that way, which is just the real me. That’s what I am, is a dad, an entrepreneur that feeds his family through the internet. The second thing is I like to tell people the truth about the heard work that it’s going to take. I like to tell people the truth about the ups and downs, and the pivots and adjustments, instead of presenting this, here’s your blueprint, you’re going to go from point A to point B in a perfectly straight line, and just follow me and pay me, and that’s what’s going to happen.
Kevin Geary: There’s that, just not sugar coating everything for people. And then the third thing I think is the size and the scope. I’m not telling people, look, come here and I’m going to have you build a multi million dollar online empire. I’m going to get you location freedom, I’m going to get you schedule freedom, you’re not going to be living paycheck to paycheck. You’re going to be doing pretty well for yourself, and you’re going to love life a lot more because I’m going to give you balance as well as an escape from this day job or whatever it is that you’re struggling with. If you’re already decided, hey, I’m going to be an online entrepreneur and you’re struggling, I’m going to come in and make this business simpler and more profitable for you. I hate the idea of building this giant complex online business. Again, trying to build a high risk, online empire type thing. That’s just not my thing. I just want to be happy. I want to be able to travel when I want to travel, I want to live where I want to live. I don’t want to need anybody’s permission for anything. I just want to be independent, and I want to do that through online business, and that’s what I help other people do. Whether they haven’t started yet or they already have started.
Chris Badgett: That’s great. How do you deal with the two market challenge of helping beginners and people start, and helping people grow? Is there an advantage to serving both?
Kevin Geary: No.
Chris Badgett: How do you help them? What?
Kevin Geary: No. No, I struggle. I struggle to serve both. I shouldn’t serve both. If I was giving myself advice I would say, “Stop serving the people who sitting on the sidelines who they want that life and they want to maybe pursue this. Stop paying attention to them. Stop helping people start online business. That’s very difficult.” It’s much easier for me. One area that I focused on was bloggers, for example, because I noticed that bloggers specifically, they’re into this make money online world. That’s why a lot of them got into blogging. They think blogging is my business. They’re trying to turn a channel into an entire business. They’ve got ads all over their site, and little e-book products, and they’re just working their face off. I found it very easy to bring those kinds of people in and just make some tweaks and adjustments to their business, and they go from blogging to having an actual business. And they have a lot more free time, and they love life, and boom, it flourishes.
Kevin Geary: That’s much easier for me than taking somebody who’s like, “I’ve got three ideas. Which one’s going to be profitable? How do I build a website?” All that stuff. However, when I look at legacy and I look at impact, the idea of taking somebody from where I was like this soul sucking day job, you’ve got kids to feed, you hate your life, there’s no reason why you’re doing what you’re doing, there’s so much opportunity online. Taking a person like that and actually helping them succeed and helping them make the transition successfully, I don’t think there is any bigger impact that you can make. And so, I have made a bad business decision in helping them in order to make what I think is the right decision in general. Because I have the skills that can help them, and so I shouldn’t just cut them off because it would be easier to do so.
Chris Badgett: I really admire you for that. Yeah, that’s an interesting challenge to help beginners and intermediates at the same time. But not giving those beginners a chance when you can help them, when you can throw them a lifeline, there’s a ethical or moral question there maybe. I don’t know if those are the right words for it. But if you can help them, why not? I think the challenge is we have to figure out how to help them in a more scalable way. There’s always tiers and packages, and more passive versus more active. Your hot seats, I want to go back to for a second. If I’m a customer … I just want to make sure I understand. Does everybody who has an active membership have the chance to come to the same hot seat call, which happens once a week? Is that how it works?
Kevin Geary: We use an RSVP format. I actually do multiple calls, but we do an RSVP format. The call schedules are posted.
Chris Badgett: That’s what I wanted to ask you because it sounded like if I show up, it’s just me being in the hot seat.
Kevin Geary: No, no, there’s other people. This is the thing too, there’s a lot of people that they want to show up, they don’t have anything to talk about. They already have what they need to be focused on in their business. They’re already executing. And until they finish that, they don’t really need more, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: But they want to show up to listen because what a lot of people have told me is, they just get tremendous value out of hearing other people get advice. And so, depending on the hot seat call, we might have six seats available for the actual hot seats. Those will be 10 minute seats each. We can do one where the format is more like a blitz format where everybody gets a 5 minute spot, and we can do more people on the same call. I do have a gold membership where people pay a lot more. They get Voxer access to me, they also get a completely separate hot seat call with much longer time slots, much fewer people on the call. That is an option as an upgrade. That’s not available on the front end. You already have to be in to do that. That’s another way we work on the scale. But yeah, the call schedule is posted, and it’s first come, first serve as far as RSVP’s go. The system we use puts everybody in order by when the RSVP. The first six people know, I’m getting in.
Kevin Geary: The people that just want to show up and listen don’t RSVP. They just show up and they just listen. They’re not on the list. Everybody can see who’s RSVP’d for this call and that call. They know if they’re going to get a spot or not, and it’s very simple and easy to use. My goal is not for them to get on every single week because if you’re just getting on so we can talk more when you should be executing, that’s not helpful to you or me, or anybody else. There’s a culture that we’ve established where people understand how this works and what’s best for everybody, and what’s best for them and their business.
Chris Badgett: How else does your program help with helping people execute and implement, and not just get into information consumption mode? How do you help people overcome that challenge?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, for example, two things. Just to explain more of the hot seat calls, we’re not just talking. We do it on Zoom like we are now. And so, I pull up people’s sales pages on the screen, and we go through it. I pull up their freebie, I pull up their Facebook Ads account, all of this stuff. We dive into the actual execution of it on the call. It’s not just like, here’s what I think you should do, and blah, blah, blah and we just talk. Which also is … I’ve been in Masterminds before … much more beneficial I think than just being in a Mastermind where everybody’s talking at you and to you, and things like that. There’s only so much that can be discussed. At some point, we actually have to look at what’s going on. There’s that. And then the training side of things, I make it very clear to people when they sign up. This training’s library is not for you to just go browse around in, or poke around in, or tell yourself stories about how you’re being super awesome and super productive by learning all of these new things.
Kevin Geary: I pretty much tell them to stay out of it. I say come to the hot seat calls, let’s look at your business, let’s look at what needs to happen. If there’s something you’re missing, that you need a training for, I’ll tell you where to go get it, or I’ll tell you what module to go look in. But this isn’t for you to just poke around and consume all of your time learning new things. If you ask for feedback and the whole community decides, hey dude, this is the direction you need to go in, you need to get the Facebook Ads fired up on this thing, you need traffic and you need it right now, we got to see if this thing’s working, and you’re like, I don’t know how to do Facebook Ads. Cool, there’s a training for that. Go do it. And so, you’re directed at the trainings you should do. It’s not just come in and learn, and learn, and learn.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Thank you for that. I think that’s super valuable, and especially for people that do end up creating a big course or a membership with lots of training. Really good coaches will help direct you to the components you need in what order. That’s a super valuable skill and what makes the difference between a great membership and one that ends up being a little bit of overwhelming.
Kevin Geary: Yeah, it’s super important. Because if you leave people to their own devices, they will. They’re like, well, he put this training library here, better do it all. You know?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: And then they haven’t done anything on their business. Super important.
Chris Badgett: I was just checking out your podcast, DigitalAmbition. You’re over 100 episodes. As of this recording, you’re at 120 episodes. Why podcasting? And how has it affected your business?
Kevin Geary: Podcasting is I think my most natural way to create content. It’s the easiest for me. Writing used to be, but I’ve gotten very tired out on writing. Podcasting was the next easiest channel for me. Plus, what we talked about earlier as far as people binge listening. And then just the data on people telling me when they sign up, “It was your podcast, it was your podcast, it was your podcast, it was your podcast.”
Chris Badgett: That’s what you’re hearing?
Kevin Geary: Oh, yeah. For sure. Yeah, yeah. The podcast is a really good job at just building the know, like and trust. And then converting people into the membership or I do group programs as well. Sometimes we’ll convert into those really well from a podcast. And then the reason I said I’m going hard in the paint on YouTube is, and I told my podcast audience this as well, and my email list, YouTube was on the docket for a while but I wanted to get the podcast a certain level of traction and momentum before dividing my attention. Because YouTube for me is not nearly as easy. There’s a lot more setup involved. I’m a perfectionist that I’m constantly battling perfectionism and how the video quality is, and how the videos are going to work, and all this nonsense that really doesn’t need to be there. But it’s there for me. YouTube is a harder channel. I kind of put it on the back burner. Now I feel like, all right, I have the resources to focus on it, so might as well do it.
Chris Badgett: Some people, they take their podcast and they put it on YouTube? Kind of like what we’re doing with this podcast right here.
Kevin Geary: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: But sometimes people … and this is, I have a software company that’s different from having a course and coaching company. But how are you approaching YouTube differently from podcasts? Or are you repurposing podcasts?
Kevin Geary: I do repurpose them for sure, but not in the way most people are repurpose them. I will do my podcast thing. I do my podcasts based on outlines. I don’t interview guests, I just teach.
Chris Badgett: You don’t have a guest. You’re talking direct to camera.
Kevin Geary: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Or to microphone or whatever.
Kevin Geary: Yeah, direct to microphone. I try to have that just one-on-one connection with my audience. I try to give them tremendous value. I try to check them every now and then. I will get on the intro and say, “Hey, if you listened to the last 50 episodes and done nothing with it, then you need to check yourself.” Because I do give a lot of value, but I don’t want people to just get in the mode of, hey I’m just going to sit and listen to Kevin and nod my head, and not do anything. I want people to take action. There’s a fine line between that. If you give too much value, they’ll either take it and go execute on it and never need you, or they will sit and listen and nod their head and be like, “Man this sounds great but it’s a lot of work and I don’t want to do anything.” So I’m always trying to find that balance. But let’s say I have an idea for a podcast episode, I’ll do the podcast, and then I will make it a video by recording from scratch the teaching again in a different way for the video.
Kevin Geary: It’s the same topic, a lot of the same content, but it’s not just recording myself making the podcast and then uploading it to YouTube. I’m making it as a video. If I wasn’t podcasting, this is what the video would look like.
Chris Badgett: Oh, that’s awesome. How long are your average podcasts or YouTube videos?
Kevin Geary: Most of my podcasts are over 15 minutes. They’re going to be anywhere from 15 to 35 ish minutes. My videos tend to be 10 to 25 minutes.
Chris Badgett: Let’s talk about how you prepare to record. If you’re going to go up against the … you’re alone in your office or wherever, and you’re going to do it, topic selection, do you have a little whiteboard that you have ready to stay organized or something on your screen? What’s your process?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, I have an iPad that I just started using. I bought an iPad a long time ago. I’ve had iPads the whole time. I’ve never found a use honestly for an iPad for business until the Apple Pencil came out. The Apple Pencil was a game changer for the iPad, in my opinion. I use the Apple Pencil now because I like writing. I type too much, so I hate typing. When I’m doing outlines, when I’m doing notes, when I’m recording ideas down, I like to write that stuff. And now the Apple Pencil lets me do all of that in an iPad. And so, I, like everybody have ideas for podcast episodes or videos throughout the day. And so, I have a giant catalog of ideas. And then when I’m like, all right, we need a podcast for this week, and different from many podcasters, I don’t record a big chunk and then they’re all scheduled. Every week I sit down and I’m like, all right, here’s what I’ve been hearing, here’s what I’ve been seeing in my audience, and this and that. What’s the best podcast for them this week?
Kevin Geary: And so I’ll go into my big ideas list, and if one hits the nail on the head, I pull it out, I outline it real quick, and then I go record that podcast. Now, recording that podcast is like a warmup. Everything’s in my head, the way that it’s going, the way that it needs to go. Sometimes I make a mistake in the podcast, that then when I do the YouTube video, I can make sure that that’s included. But the outline’s done, I’ve already presented it once, now I flip on the camera and I do it for the camera in a different way. And if I need to add things that can’t be included in a podcast like, let’s show a screen while we do this, then I add that as well.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. Are you ever creating video with the Apple Pencil? Are you drawing diagrams-
Kevin Geary: Yes. For sure. Now, I don’t know how many are … definitely in trainings that I’ve done in the Hive, I’ve done that. There are videos like, if you go to my YouTube now, you’ll see me do white boarding stuff, but I’m doing them with a pencil on my computer, or my mouse on the computer. And so, I’m just drawing with the mouse, and it looks terrible. Those happened before I figured out how to connect the iPad to the screen and record it and all of that stuff. Because there’s a little tech involved there that, it’s not super easy.
Chris Badgett: Are you recording in screen flow or on-
Kevin Geary: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Okay.
Kevin Geary: It’s Cantasia. That’s the same-
Chris Badgett: On your iPad?
Kevin Geary: No. I hook up the iPad to the computer, and then Cantasia allows you to select the iPad as the screen, and then you just open the Notability app and you start drawing, and Cantasia’s recording it for you.
Chris Badgett: That’s awesome.
Kevin Geary: Yeah.
Chris Badgett: Cool. Well, you’ve made it to the lightning round, Kevin. I want to congratulate you on that. Thank you for sharing so much great knowledge. I can tell you got a lot of it, so I’m going to try to mine as much as I can for the course creators who are listening out there. You’ve made the transition from day job, main street brick and mortar business, into the online world. And then you continue to refine and adapt, and grow. Even just this thing about the iPad and the Pencil versus the track pad or whatever, and trying to use on the screen. What are some influences that influence you, whether people or books or whatever that helped you? I know you’ve got a lot going on, but I know you’ve got some ideas and some wisdom from others, YouTuber, whoever it was. Who helped you? Whose ideas helped you cross successfully?
Kevin Geary: Yeah, when I think about books and I think about YouTube, and I think about podcasts, and if I had to narrow it down to one person, I don’t think it would be a book. It wouldn’t really be somebody who conveyed information to me. Yeah, I’ve drawn lessons and tactics and strategies from dozens of books, and dozens of podcasts, and dozens of YouTube channels. But I think the first person who really made everything feel possible to me was Pat Flynn. I know he gets mentioned all the time, but you can see why I identify with him. Regular guy, dad, entrepreneur, not flashy, he’s not putting cars in giant houses and boats all over his Instagram and all this other stuff. Just a normal guy. And then he was releasing way back when … I don’t think he does it anymore … income reports. I watched his progression back in the early days. And so, you always need somebody, I think. When you are wondering, is it possible to do this thing, you need somebody to show you, that you relate to, that it is possible.
Kevin Geary: A lot of people in the online business world aren’t relatable to me, when I look at their Instagrams or I look at their videos on YouTube. They’re not relatable. The one thing I hate the most is people who are 23 with no kids releasing, here’s how to have your most productive day, here’s my morning routine. And I’m like, you have no distractions. How could you not have the best morning routine ever? It’s not relatable. I don’t want fancy cars, I don’t want mansions. I just want freedom from this shitty job that I have. Can I just get that? Can we start there? So Pat Flynn was the first relatable person who for me it was like, this is possible. When Pat says, “If I can do it, anybody can do it,” I believe him. Right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: And so, that was my, I think, biggest inspiration.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, he definitely inspired me. He’s inspired a lot. He continues to just do the same thing and keep doubling down on what he does well. I see, I think this is his podcast player on your website, is that right?
Kevin Geary: Yes. Yeah.
Chris Badgett: What’s that called?
Kevin Geary: The Smart Podcast player, I think.
Chris Badgett: Where do you host your podcast?
Kevin Geary: Fireside.FM.
Chris Badgett: Okay. Was there-
Kevin Geary: You ever heard of it?
Chris Badgett: What?
Kevin Geary: Have you heard of it?
Chris Badgett: I have not heard of that one, but I’m open.
Kevin Geary: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Now, I switched to them honestly because of the stats. They have really, really robust stats. For me, when I was with Libsyn … First of all, I like using beautiful software. Libsyn felt to me like I was stuck in 1998 all the time. And then I didn’t want to go to Blubrry or whatever it’s called, however you pronounce it. I came across Fireside in an online forum, and people were like, “Oh yeah, this is fantastic.” A podcast host is a podcast host, but when you have really robust stats, which is tough with podcasting is to get accurate, robust stats, Fireside sealed the deal for me there.
Chris Badgett: That’s cool. I don’t know if you know this, but I just noticed last week that podcast, playable podcasts are starting to show up in the Google search results directly in the search-
Kevin Geary: Oh, that’s good. I heard that was coming. But yeah, it’s good to hear that it’s out in the wild.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, yeah, I just noticed that. I think that’s cool. What’s the essential tech for YouTube? The people who watch this are course creators, people who are building training based membership sites, or they want to. The video rabbit hole, it takes people. There’s people still stuck there. But if you were to advise a digital entrepreneur who’s going to start with a YouTube channel or whatever, what’s the basic tech stack?
Kevin Geary: For me, and because I’m a perfectionist and because I’ve been doing … I also by the way have photography experience for very long time just doing it for myself, right?
Chris Badgett: Yeah.
Kevin Geary: 14, 15 years of photography experience, so I’m not new to cameras and things like that, and I’ve answered a lot of questions like, “what’s the best camera for a beginner,” and stuff like that. But I used to take, I had a Canon 5D Mark II from photography, and I tried to use that initially for videos. Huge mistake. You can’t see the screen, you can’t focus on yourself. The setup and just getting something usable out the door, it was an absolute nightmare and it made me want to quit back in the early days of doing video. What I would say is the best tech stack for entrepreneurs who want to be on video, need to do courses or YouTube, or whatever, get whatever camera you’re comfortable with that has a flip around screen and good auto focus, like face detection auto focus so you can just literally turn it on and it focuses on your face, and you don’t have to mess with all of the controls or anything like that. It’s got to have an external microphone input.
Kevin Geary: I use a shotgun mic, and I have a little boom stand that sticks right over my head so you can’t see it in the camera frame. That goes back to the audio recorder. I forgot what it’s called, the H5. The Zoom. The Zoom H5. That sits on top of my camera. The big mic goes into that, that goes into the camera itself. The other thing I learned is I do not want to mess with matching up audio and video. The audio has to run directly into the camera feed or I’m not doing it because it’s too much work, and too much room for error as well. So microphone straight into the camera, and then do as light editing as possible. Don’t get sucked into the world of very detailed, high end editing. Just record, and my recording process is very simple. I present to the camera like I’m presenting to people in the room, or I feel like somebody is sitting across from me in the chair. If I screw up, I don’t stop it and restart it. I just pause for a little bit, and I just pick up where I left off, and then I just look for pauses when I’m editing and just slice them out, and just make it super simple.
Kevin Geary: Same thing with my podcast. People ask me all the time, “How much is your podcast editing time, your video editing time?” If I have a 30 minute podcast, I spend five minutes editing it, and it’s out the door. With a video, same kind of process. Takes a little bit longer with a video, but I’m not sitting there meticulously editing stuff and adding a bunch of fancy slides, and all this other nonsense. It’s just content, now let’s get it out the door.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Final question real quick. One of the quickest ways digital entrepreneurs can get out there and start marketing and getting leads is to actually leverage other people’s audiences. You approach me, I have an audience of digital entrepreneurs. You were prepared to add value to this podcast. What is your process and psychology around coming on somebody else’s stage? Because sometimes we think we have to build this all from scratch, but you can actually work with other people too. How does that work for you?
Kevin Geary: Yeah. For me, it’s make people say no. A lot of pl don’t ask because they just decided that they’re going to be told no before they even ask. The step one is just to ask. Now, a lot of times you’re not going to get a response, and at that point, you need to go to the next level. All right, so if you really want to be on that show or network with that person in some way and you don’t get an initial response, go friend them on social media and go start interacting with their posts. You’ll start showing up. They’ll take notice of you engaging with their stuff, and over time, that thing is going to develop. Don’t be in a rush, don’t be pushy, and definitely don’t sit on the sidelines going, well they’re probably not going to say yes so I just won’t ask. Ask. If you get a response, great. Go from there. If you don’t get a response, just connect with them, and keep engaging, and just be natural, and develop an actual relationship, and then it’ll work itself in over time.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Kevin Geary, thank you so much for coming on the show. You can find him at DigitalAmbition.co. Go check out his one page freedom plan. He’s on version 3.0 at least at this recording because he’s constantly improving things.
Kevin Geary: Yes, because I’m constantly making it better.
Chris Badgett: Yeah, thanks so much for coming on the show. Is there anywhere else people can connect with you besides DigitalAmbition.co?
Kevin Geary: That’s it. Everything’s there.
Chris Badgett: Awesome. Well, thanks so much, and we’ll see you around.
Kevin Geary: Excellent, thank you.
Chris Badgett: And that’s a wrap for this episode of LMScast. I’m your guide, Chris Badgett. I hope you enjoyed the show. This show was brought to you by LifterLMS, the number one tool for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses. To help you get more revenue, freedom, and impact in your life, head on over to LifterLMS.com and get the best gear for your course creator journey. Let’s build the most engaging, results getting courses on the internet.