Today I am talking to Kelsey Sorenson of Wife Teacher Mommy. She has been a student of mine since 2016 when she bought my first course on promoted pins. She was a new business owner at the time and that was the first online course she purchased to help her business grow. The course led to a viral promoted pin that brought in tons of sales.
Kelsey then went on to take my Facebook Ads Intensive course and was able to see amazing results with her Facebook ads.
Kelsey has created an amazing membership, the Wife Teacher Mommy Club. It’s an incredible experience and community for her club members where she's supporting teachers and homeschool moms and making sure they have all the resources they need to teach well.
She also has a certified life coach who comes in to give a coaching component several times a month.
Kelsey has created an incredible experience in her Wife, Teacher, Mommy Club, and I can’t wait for you to hear all about that. You'll hear about how she hires new team members, her amazing curriculum and resources that are continually being released in her shop, and her membership. Kelsey’s business growth has just been incredible over the last several years and I know you will love hearing from Kelsey about the journey from that very first digital product she created to now this enormous Wife Teacher Mommy Club with more than 700 members, a huge shop full of amazing resources, and three full-time employees.
I've been watching Kelsey grow at what seems like an incredible rate. She’s grown her business into this amazing thing and the Brilliant Business Moms community needs to hear all about how she’s done that and what's working for her.
Want to know the details? Press play on the podcast player below to listen!
From Teacher to Business Owner
Kelsey was a full-time teacher before her first son was born. She didn’t want to go back to school full-time and so decided to just do occasional substitute teaching instead.
“I didn't really intend on starting a business but then when I was subbing I realized that a lot of teachers did not have great sub plans left for me. But I'd been a teacher too so I knew why.
“Teachers already have so much to do. So I was like maybe I will just make some sub plans and throw them up onto TPT.
“Teachers Pay Teachers is kind of like Etsy for teachers. We call it TPT in the teacher world.
“I didn’t think much of it and it's not like they sold like hotcakes from day one or anything. Actually my first month on TPT I think I made $0. But once people started finding them and leaving reviews that they liked them, I thought, oh, people like this. And then they kept asking for more. And so I did it for more grade levels. And eventually, I got to where I had a full week for pre-K through sixth grades, which is really cool.”
First Business Growth Via Pinterest Promoted Pins
One of Kelsey’s sub-plan binder pins started to pick up traffic and she wanted to make the most out of the momentum. She hadn’t really made a lot of money in her business yet and was struggling with the idea of paying for an online course.
Kelsey decided to go for it and bought her first-ever online course which happened to be my (now retired) Brilliant Pin Promotion class. After going through the class, she promoted the sub binder pin that had started to go viral and the results were amazing!
“It really drove up the sales of that one product. And now it's like the top-selling one on TPT and is still our very top seller. And I feel like that's really what propelled my business at first, to the level like to become really more of a full-fledged business.”
From Promoted Pins to Facebook Ads
After seeing success with promoted pins on Pinterest, Kelsey decided to add Facebook Ads to her marketing strategy.
“I started promoted pins first. And actually, I don't even use them anymore. I should probably try it again. But Facebook ads- I feel like that was really taking it to the next level. And you know, at that time, it was so nice, because I had those video ads doing so well and I feel like I could just leave those running forever. I miss that from back in the day. But it was fun to learn how to use them and test a few different things. I did not test nearly as much as I do now. But I feel like having your course really is what helped me to learn them.”
Moving Beyond the First Best-Selling Product
Kelsey’s sub plans were so popular that she actually struggled to get the word out about other products sold in her shop.
“We became really known for sub plans. And some people really thought that's like all we did, and it actually took some education, like when we launched our recent membership, to tell people about all the other products.
“Those are our top sellers. If you go to TPT, that's what's gonna show there, because they've sold the most. But we have so many other resources. Right now we're releasing something new probably every week.
“We can help you with your sub planning. Those are all still there and they've gone through multiple revisions. They're amazing. But we also have year-long resources for different subjects. We have science and social studies, and we have reading passages that are really amazing. And we've even helped homeschool parents.”
“Our goal is now not only to help you with your sub planning, it's also to help you with your whole life. We help you with planning, so you can spend more time with your family and then we help you with the whole mindset issues of everything as well. We have two calls a month in our membership with our life coach. The value in the club is really, really amazing and that's really what we are focusing on now.”
Serving Her Customers with a Membership Business Model
As Kelsey mentioned, she is releasing new products weekly. At this rapid pace, it is a struggle to promote each product and really give it justice. Switching her business model to an all-inclusive core membership offer seemed like the best answer.
I remember Kelsey coming to the Brilliant Business Moms Membership group and asking questions about what to offer and how to structure the membership. And I feel like all of us were worried that she was giving away too much. But I love – and I will always praise this – when a business owner goes with their gut and goes with what feels right to them. And it's worked out so well for her!
Kelsey says, “it was really kind of scary. And it was actually my coach, who encouraged me to not think of it in this scarcity mindset.”
In an all-inclusive membership offer, you run the risk of people joining, downloading all of the material, and then canceling.
This happened a few times for Kelsey but overall, the membership has been quite successful.
“While we have had a few people take advantage, downloaded like 800 things, and then canceled. And, you know, that kind of hurts, but it's a very small number.
“So the over 700 members who are in there now paying monthly? Like, it's totally worth it, you know? And for our teachers, it really just makes it more affordable and accessible for them. So they can access everything. But then for us, it gives us that recurring revenue.
“The membership really helped us carry through. This recurring revenue is a buffer when ads are struggling and it's really helped us be able to experiment more and not be scared that we won't have the revenue coming in.”
Filling Her Membership with Amazing Value
Kelsey currently has about 700 members in Wife Teacher Mommy Club but hopes to grow to 1,500 members. When the membership first opened, it included access to Kelsey’s full product line at a value of $4,000. She has been adding more material almost weekly so the current value is even higher and continuing to grow!
“There are a lot of things that only our members get. Every month we make resources that are only for our members and those are never sold outside the membership. So now that library of member-only resources is growing.
“Then we have the coaching calls. We've been having two or three of those per month that our members can attend. And if they can't attend live, they can watch the video replay.
“We also have a private podcast that, again, is only for our members. For every guest that I bring on to the Wife Teacher Mommy Podcast, we do a bonus segment with some extra time that only our members get access to as a bonus podcast.
Bridging the Gap of a Seasonal Content Membership
So teachers usually have the summer off. To avoid having her members cancel their membership over the summer, she added a summer conference as a way to retain members into the next school year.
“Part of the reason we have a summer conference is as a way to retain members over the summer. So instead of teachers canceling and then starting back up when the school year begins, we'll do this big event to keep them in.
“But then my business coach suggested that we open it up to anyone and sell tickets to make it more of a win-win where can retain members and then also gain members.
“So we're doing this summer conference and our event is called Educate and Rejuvenate. It's happening on June 28th and 29th, and it is going to be so much fun! We have over 20 speakers, including some really big names in the education space. It's a virtual conference and we are selling tickets for only five bucks.
“Some people that do like a free summit with an upsell but we are doing a $5 buy-in which helps with the cost per lead a little bit. And then we offer an upsell which is our Platinum pass which gives you replay access for longer because with the $5 ticket they only get 48 hours access. They also get a bundle from the presenters that is worth over $400, and then they get a free month of the club. So that's our way to get them in.
“During the event, the platinum pass will be $97, or the club is only $29.99. So it's kind of a no-brainer to join the club to get the replays.
“And finally we're doing a VIP day of bonus content on June 30 that is only for members. So our members get the full VIP experience at the event, everything that platinum pass holders get, and then they get the extra bonus day as well.”
Kelsey’s membership is higher priced than others in her space but she works hard to make it feel like a premium experience, full of value.
“In our Facebook group, we occasionally post prepaid Starbucks gift cards, so members can go get their Starbucks on the way to work. And we do weekly giveaways. It's just a party! And it's really so much value for what they're paying – only $29.99 a month or $299 a year. But I feel like that's what helps people join and stick around. Some of the other memberships charge $10 to $20 a month and we're charging $29.99. But we're the only ones who have all of this as part of it. So I'm kind of trying to make it as premium of an experience as possible, so it really feels like it’s worth more than the $29.”
Building a Team to Support Her Business
Kelsey creates new content at an amazing pace! One way that she does that is by having a team working for her. I asked her to tell me more about how she found her team members and what they do for her.
“Well, for one thing, we don't just have contractors that we work with. We have two full-time employees who at the beginning of this year were both full-time curriculum designers. And now . one of them is kind of transitioning into managing the team because there's just so much going on now with the event coming up. So she's been helping with the event but still does some product creation. Then we still have that one other team member who all she does for 40 hours a week is create content for our members. So I feel like that's how we're able to turn out so much.”
As far as how she does the actual hiring, Kelsey has created a very thorough hiring process.
“I've learned a lot of this from listening to Kris Plachy’s podcast. She is a certified life coach. And her whole thing is about building your team – she is really good. So I learned a lot of it from her. And then my coach Kara Charron, who I'm working with now, is also amazing and I’ve learned a lot from both of them.
“I have people fill out an application. In the application I have test questions. So if they're going to be creating content, I believe I had a question about deadlines and how they would address a particular scenario or what is something you might create to fit this learning standard. Something right on the application testing their knowledge. And then everyone who passes that goes on to round two, and they do a VideoAsk interview. So I'm happy to use the recorded video questions rather than spending a lot of time to be face-to-face with all of these people.
“After the first VideoAsk interview, they do a smaller non-paid project that is tied to what they would be doing if hired. You don't want to make it too challenging, because I think there are even laws about how much you can require them to do. You want to make sure that they really want the position and it's not just people who are applying for every job they can see. Usually, less than half of the people actually complete that project. So that weeds people out right off the bat.
“From there, you choose the final prospects. Last time, we had six people who got to the final process, which is a larger paid project. I have them create something that I’m actually going to use and I’m paying for it.
“After all of that, we do an actual face-to-face interview. I feel like with that process you learn so much about the candidates and what they can do that you're able to find a really good fit.”
Kelsey posts her job openings on local job boards and places like Facebook, Indeed, etc. She said that when hiring an employee, it’s much easier for payroll if they are in the same state. For her most recent opening, she also sent it out to her email list.
An important part of the hiring process is writing the job description.
“That is part of it, too, actually writing your job description. It's kind of like a product itself. You're selling people on wanting to work for you. So at the beginning, talk about how amazing it is and talk about your values before you get into the nitty-gritty details of the job. This helps you find people who are excited about it and who are the right fit because they feel like they are aligned with your values and your passion.
“For example, our most recent opening was for digital marketing assistant. At the very top of the page, I say, ‘Do Facebook ads fascinate you? Are you obsessed with Instagram? Would you love to be paid for spending time on social media? Do you have a passion for education and an eye for design and love recommending products to your family and friends? Our new full-time digital marketing position might be a great fit for you.
“So that's kind of like the very beginning little tidbit. And then we talk about our company. We’re a small online business looking to expand in the education space. This is what we offer. Then I do our core values, which are- We are go-getters, we are learners, and we are team-oriented with an explanation of each one.
“So we cover all of those things before we even get to the actual job description part of position reports to, job type, salary, etc.”
“Hiring is a skill that you can only learn by doing.”
“I feel like I'm getting better at weeding people out as I’ve done this more. One of the most important components of hiring is just that gut feeling. And you have to trust that. As the business owner, even though I take my team's feedback, at the end of the day, I'm the one who gets to choose who we hire.”
Launching and Marketing the Membership
Kelsey’s membership is still new – less than a year old – so she is still testing and exploring different ways to market.
Reduced Price for Initial Launch
“At first, the way we really got our members was we did two launches with lower prices. So when we did our Early Bird launch, it was to our full email list and they had to opt in to the waitlist to get the early bird launch price. The early bird launch was $15.99.
“And then we had a Founding Members launch which was $19.99. And those people lock in that price forever. That's the only time we've ever done or will ever do that because it was just kind of to get that baseline of members. And they were really our beta testers because, at this point, there were things we were still trying to figure out. So it was kind of like a thank you for testing it out for us. We didn't have free product testers, just people getting a better deal.
Kelsey’s most recent launch was in March when she offered a last-chance discount before adding the coaching call component.
“Occasionally after the initial launch we offered specials like $10 off your first three months or discounts off the annual price but what we're figuring out is now that we have the coaching we don’t want to discount anymore. We are firm on that $29.99 because we've been adding more and more and it's worth that cost.
“Now what we're trying to do is just offer bonuses at different times, which when you have a membership that gives away everything that's kind of hard to do. We're still kind of figuring that out.
The Educate and Rejuvenate summer event is the first big membership enrollment push since removing discounts as an incentive.
“So now with the event, our big thing is the bonus day. We have all the Platinum Pass perks they'll get. We have a little swag item going out in the mail to the first certain number of people who sign up and if they join annually they get a tumbler.”
Kelsey’s main marketing angle at the moment is simply to emphasize the value as much as possible. In every email and on every shop page, she is pointing out the value of the club membership compared to purchasing individual items.
“For some of our larger bundles, the membership is actually cheaper than buying the bundle. So some people join that way. The other thing is an upsell funnel. So if somebody has spent like a certain amount, you can then apply it towards the membership.
“I feel like we're just imagining and testing out a lot of ways to promote it.”
Many Different Buyers’ Journey Paths
Kelsey has been trying to cover all the different ways a buyer might come to her membership. There’s a full sales page for the membership in addition to mentioning it on every shop page. The very first listing in her shop is the club membership so that it can easily be added to their cart as they are shopping.
“The first actual listing in the shop is the club and we have a full sales page for it too. I figured maybe some people will convert better from a sales page, or others from a product listing. I don't really promote it that way but it's there and it has all the reviews on the page that people have written. There are over 100 reviews on it because we have like an email that goes out, that's super easy, you can just fill it out right in the email to leave a review.
“So I want to have all the different ways they can come in available.”
Before the Membership, It All Started as a Shop
Kelsey’s Wife Teacher Mommy Club is less than a year old. Before she offered the membership, her products were only sold individually through the shop. I asked her how she drove traffic and sales to the shop.
Every new resource is always 50% off for the first 48 hours and never discounted that much again. So anyone on the email list will be notified of the new release and the sale.
But before a buyer has joined the email list, they are finding Kelsey’s products via Pinterest or organic search. She has one particular blog post for science and social studies that ranks very well and brings in a lot of sales. She’s continuing to work on SEO and optimizing her content as much as possible.
Kelsey’s recently launched podcast is another way that people may learn about her and her products.
She says, “just trying to do all the things!”
Using Facebook Ads to Drive Traffic and Sales
“Facebook has definitely been the biggest revenue driver but I also don't want to be too reliant on it. So that's why I'm trying to grow these other avenues as well and the membership with that recurring income.”
As you recall, Kelsey was in one of my very early Facebook Ads classes. And as you probably know, Facebook Ads have changed a lot in the past year or so. I asked her to tell me about how her strategies have changed over time.
“If I could have a time machine, I would have made a membership back when I was getting a 4 ROAS on the regular! If only! These days I’m happy to see above a 1.”
Running ads now requires a lot more testing. Different creatives, different copy, different audiences.
“I used to only really look at the ROAS but now I look at a lot more like cost per purchase, click-through rates, all those things. And then I go look at the actual funnels because right now I'm not really running many ads directly to the shop because I feel like with a shop it's harder to see accurate data for it and compare. So with these funnels, I'm able to compare it and make sure it's profitable and look at what is the average purchase for that funnel from Facebook ads.
“We make a Facebook-specific version of our funnel and then I'm like, okay, the average cost per purchase is $19 so I want to make sure the cost per purchase is $19 or less. So even if that individual ad set isn't showing that, I know that overall as I'm looking at this funnel that's only for Facebook ads if it's getting us members and it's going to be profitable.”
“Tracking has gotten a lot harder since the iOS changes so it’s important to adapt and find other ways to get as much data as possible. You really do have to look at the whole big picture. And yes, keep testing new audiences and new ads and all that. But if that whole big picture is working, and is building that business, and whether it's breakeven this month, and profitable next month, keep your eye on the big picture.
“Throwing in the towel isn't the answer because I know long term Facebook ads are what helped us get where we are. Our event funnel is very good. It's converting really well, like 8% conversion on the sales page. And then it was like 27% in the Platinum Pass, and 10% of those immediately joined the membership. So I know when we get people, it's doing really well. So it's just figuring out how to make those ads really stand out in the feed, so people stop the scroll, and testing all kinds of things to get them there.
“The other thing I tried to do is not think that I just lost a ton of money, but focus on that I got some purchases, those people are now on my email list and might join the membership. And then even just that awareness of you know, like you said, that person might think, Oh, I like that- I'll get it later. I mean, on average people have to see something, it used to be seven, but now it's 16 times before they purchase. So that was one of those 16 times. We're getting people ready for the primetime, you know, so you don't want to just completely ghost and be gone. Because you want them to be ready to buy when they're ready.”
Brand awareness and exposure are important to build over time. A customer may have seen your ad a few times but then did a Google search to find you which means even though the ad drove the sale, it won’t be reflected that way in the statistics. Also, some people are wary of ads and links and will instead go directly to you via a search rather than clicking the ad. There are so many ways people can end up buying from you, even indirectly, because of ads.
I'm just so impressed with the ways Kelsey has grown her business and the systems that she’s come up with to make the club this incredible experience for teachers and homeschooling moms and the way she’s always thinking of new resources to serve her audience. It's just wonderful.
Connect with Kelsey
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