Grit and marketing can take you far
Let me introduce you to Louise Henry.
Louise is a tech expert who helps entrepreneurs create passive income businesses. She has 134K YouTube subscribers, 8.5 million video views, and just under 30K followers on Instagram.
And after making zero sales on her first launch, she’s gone on to sell “$100,000s of that same online course.”
I stumbled on Louise’s YouTube channel in March 2020 and have been addicted to her content ever since. Her story inspires me — not just because she’s made $100,000s, but because it’s a story of grit.
Let me repeat: she made ZERO sales on her first launch.
“I was upset, and self-doubt really kicked in. I thought that I’d wasted all this time on this online course… It’s not going to work, and it’s never going to be successful.”
I wanted to learn how Louise has gone on to make $100,000s online, so I’ve broken her success into two parts.
Part I is all about her story.
Part II goes into her strategy.
Louise lived in her parent’s basement whilst building her online business, working from 5am — 7pm most days.
Sadly, her first business didn’t work out, but it did help her develop skills she could then use as a virtual tech assistant.
She intended to turn her client services into an online course business. However, she started as a virtual tech assistant because she lacked the expertise to make a course.
Also, helping other entrepreneurs with the “back end of their business” meant she saw their problems.
“Luckily, a lot of these clients needed help with Squarespace… So as I worked with each client, I became a Squarespace expert.”
At the time, Louise saw people recommending WordPress for website building, but she knew Squarespace was easier.
So she built her first course — Website That Wows — alongside her client work.
“I’m glad I did it this way… It meant my income was sorted, and I didn’t put myself in a stressful situation.”
Louise worked a lot but knew it would be worth it in the end. She saw countless entrepreneurs on Instagram raking in the $$$ through online courses.
That was before the bombshell of her first launch.
Undeterred, Louise looked into where she’d gone wrong.
“A lot of the time, it’s not the course itself.
“It’s how you’re talking about it, your messaging, and the marketing…
“That first launch, I’m pretty sure I sent just two emails that weren’t compelling, so that’s why it didn’t work out.”
She started to work with mentors and get help in these areas, including spending $997 on an online course.
“$997 felt like so much money at the time! I cried in the living room in front of my family.”
After lots of trial and error, Louise started to see results.
These results weren’t massive, but she phased out her client work as the results became more consistent.
Seven years later, she lives in her dream home with her partner and their cute dog, Charlie.
So how exactly has Louise made $100,000s from her online courses?
It’s time for the strategy.
This screenshot sums it up:
“CONTENT → EMAIL LIST GROWTH → LAUNCHES/PROMOS → SALES FUNNELS”
Each of these pillars needs to be in place. If not, the whole thing falls apart.
But there’s more to it than this.
Let’s dig deeper.
Main Channel for Driving Leads: YouTube
YouTube is one of the biggest drivers of leads to Louise’s business. She’s been posting on the platform since 2016.
In this video, she shares her growth to 100K subscribers.
Here’s the breakdown by year:
The numbers in 2016 — her first year on YouTube — were pretty modest.
“I didn’t take it seriously because I didn’t fully understand the potential of the platform.”
The same goes for 2017:
“We’re all going at different paces and coming into it with different skills and experiences.
“Go at your own pace.”
In 2018, Louise started posting more frequently and reached 3K subscribers:
Her earnings in 2019 grew significantly:
2020 is when things get interesting.
She had 3.3 million views and earned $58K through YouTube:
And halfway through 2021 — when this video was made — she reached 100K subscribers:
Initially, Louise posted two tech tutorials a week — Monday and Wednesday — and one travel blog every Friday.
Although this posting schedule has changed, Louise’s videos have a theme.
They’re always valuable.
Here are five other things worth noting:
- #1: Her thumbnails are eye-catching. They’re colourful and descriptive, and they nearly always include Louise’s face:
- #2: Her video titles are SEO-optimised. She uses Tubebuddy to help choose which keywords to target.
- #3: Her branding is consistent. She uses the same intro/outro music for all her videos and always wears brand colours.
- #4: Most of her videos are evergreen. Louise’s most-watched videos are tech tutorials that are less than 15 minutes long (e.g. “How to Create an Animated YouTube Intro/Outro FAST”
- #5: Her banner is clean and on brand. It also points to her website:
Creating YouTube content can be time-consuming, so here are four ways Louise speeds up the process:
- #1: She uses Keywords Everywhere to come up with content ideas. Install the Chrome extension, add credits, and it’ll help you find keywords to target when you search on YouTube:
- #2: She uses Plann to find trending topics. Using this tool saves her hours and lets her piggyback off trends, particularly for YouTube Shorts:
- #3: She uses Descript for editing videos. “It makes editing your videos as easy as editing a Google doc.” She also uses this tool for repurposing video content (e.g. taking clips from her YouTube videos and turning them into Instagram Reels).
- #4: She batches tasks for particular days. For example, Louise has writing days, filming days, and editing days. She can shoot 4–6 videos on a good filming day:
Overall, Louise thinks she’s made a lot of YouTube mistakes:
“I’ve been too scared to share some things… I’ve posted too many straight tech tutorials when I should have let my personality shine. I’ve been torn over what style and kind of videos I want to make…”
And here’s what she’d do if she were starting now:
“I would spend time developing my own style, share my personality, and change my definition of value.
“Entertainment and inspiration are just as valuable as informative, step-by-step videos.
“Rather than reaching more people, I would focus on building a tight-knit community that comes back and watches every single one of my videos.
“I would also share the successes and failures and bring your audience along…”
Other Channels for Driving Leads: Instagram, Pinterest, Partnerships, Affiliates, and Ads
Instagram is Louise’s next biggest social media channel.
Here, she posts behind-the-scenes Reels about running an online business.
She also promotes marketing events for her courses, like five-day challenges. These challenges are great ways to create a buzz and drive new course sales.
Louise did try to make her course sales evergreen, but she soon realised launches had an “astronomical impact” on her business.
In other words, her courses aren’t open to customers all year round. They’re only open at certain times. This limited availability makes her courses more scarce and valuable.
So she rotates the launches between her three courses and delivers a free promo event/challenge before the launches to generate buzz.
If someone misses a promo event, they get put on Louise’s email list, where she offers business tips and advice. They’ll also be told about the next promo event when that happens.
In the week leading up to a challenge, she posts Instagram Stories and Reels and goes live to her audience.
As Louise points out, “People need to see something at least seven times before they purchase.”
However, Louise doesn’t depend solely on organic marketing.
She also works with paid ad marketers who run Facebook and Pinterest ads for her business.
“If your business is not bringing in the number of leads you want per month, maybe it’s time for you to invest in advertising…”
“I wouldn’t want just to be relying on my organic marketing efforts. I like having ads out there so that I know I’m guaranteed a certain amount of leads coming in…”
“If you have the right systems in place, you can expect a portion of those leads to turn into customers, and you can make that investment back.”
There are other things Louise does too. For example, she asks business friends to promote her events to their audiences. (She does the same in return.)
She also has an affiliate program for her courses, similar to Justin Welsh.
One of the most effective marketing strategies in her toolbelt is partnering up with “business besties” and hosting workshops:
“I tell the partner that we will share the revenue…
“I also handle all of the tech and make it as easy as possible for them to partner with me. So I will give them copies of all the emails, social media graphics — anything I can do to make this as simple as possible…”
“We then host the workshop, it goes well, and brings in tons of new leads and sales for my business.
“But that’s not where it ends.
“You then want to take this workshop recording and turn it into an automated sales funnel. This way, the partner has a reason to drive traffic back to your business for years to come…
“I’m all about working smarter, not harder…”
The key to all of this?
Remember that it’s a numbers game:
“Of the people who sign up [to your marketing event], only 30% will show up…
“And then only 10% of these people will buy your product.”
Unsurprisingly for someone who teaches entrepreneurs how to make amazing websites, Louise’s website is beautifully designed and thought through 😍
Before building your website, Louise recommends getting “super clear on your brand and personality.”
To this end, “create a brand board of visuals.” For example, Louise uses consistent fonts, colours, and icons that are on her brand board.
This is the board she used for her old brand, Solopreneur Sidekick:
One of the most important things for your website is to make the copy sound like you.
Here are some tips Louise shares:
- Grab your phone and go through your texts with your BFF. Look for words and emojis you use all the time. You can then store these in a “brand bank” doc (see above).
- Imagine you are talking to your BFF when writing your copy.
- Record yourself talking about the subject rather than writing it down.
Here are some further website-building tips for beginners that Louise shares.
Take some time to soak them in:
“Know why someone would hire you over everyone else doing the same thing and use your website to communicate that.
“Your website is not about you. It’s about your ideal client.
“Pretend you’re speaking to one person when writing your website copy.
“Paint a picture of where someone is and where you can take them.
“You want your personality to jump off the page.
“Sprinkle testimonials everywhere on your website.
“People want to see who is behind the website. So put a photo of you on your about page.
“Place as many trust builders on your website as you can: places you’ve been featured, testimonials, reviews, case studies, and any relevant certifications/education.
“Use consistent fonts and colours across your website, and don’t use more than 2–3 fonts.
“Don’t overload your website. Instead, ask yourself what your ideal client needs to know to book you and include that.
“Purchase a custom domain and email address to look more professional.
“Make sure your website passes the five-second test. A new visitor should know exactly what you do and who you do it for within the first five seconds of visiting your website.
“When people come to your website, you either want them to buy from you or join your email list.
“When someone lands on your website, keep them there as long as possible. Also, be careful linking out and displaying your social media too prominently.
“On each page, tell visitors what action you want them to take next.”
Here’s every single tool Louise is using in her business right now:
- Asana — For organising her personal and professional lives
- Squarespace — For her website
- Kartra — She used to use a bunch of software (e.g. Leadpages, ConvertKit, Deadline Funnel, and Teachable). Now, she just uses Kartra. Having an all-in-one tool saves her time and money.
- Canva Pro — For making all her graphics
- Zapier — For connecting tools that don’t have APIs
- Loom — For recording course videos
- Quickbooks — For her accounting needs
- Plann — For planning and scheduling her Instagram content
- Acuity — For letting people book calls into her calendar (similar to Calendly)
- Crowdcast — Louise uses this tool for hosting live webinars. It’s also the tool I used to host my very first webinar (which was a complete disaster — but not because of the tool.)
- Slack — For messaging her team
- iMovie — For editing YouTube videos
- Proof — For adding sales proof to her website
- Chatra — For responding to people’s questions that come from her website
- Zoom — You know.
- Add Event — “If I’m ever doing a live training and I want people to be able to add the event to their calendar so that they get reminders, I’ll use this tool.”
Despite all the obstacles put in Louise’s way, her goal remained clear: she wanted to build an online course business.
Seven years later, her goal is a reality.
Sure, it’s not entirely passive yet. Louise still works incredibly hard. However, she does make money in her sleep by leveraging systems and automation tools, and she’s living her dream life.
This gritty determination is why I find her so inspiring.
In one of her videos, she summarises her experience of transitioning from 1:1 services to online courses.
I think these are great takeaways to leave you with:
- “It doesn’t need to be perfect. Your first version of your online course is just that — your first version. Just get started. It will improve over time.”
- “Don’t give up if you don’t get any sales. It probably means something in your marketing or messaging is a little off, or you haven’t built the right audience yet, which takes time.”
- “A lot of resistance will come up as you make this transition. You’re going to worry if you’re expert enough to create an online course and whether it’s already been done before, but there are like 5 billion people online… There’s always a unique way of doing things and an angle you can find.”