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Women in Business – Surviving the First Two Years: “Invest in knowledge.” Interview with Leanne Scott

Interview with Leanne Scott, founder of Passive Income Superstars, on her experiences being a woman entrepreneur.

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Please tell us a bit about yourself, and describe your company.

I’m a UK-based passive income strategist, blogging coach, and founder of Passive Income Superstars. I started my business in 2019 after developing a passion for affiliate marketing with my own travel blog, The Globetrotter GP.  I noticed that most affiliate marketing courses for bloggers only skimmed the basics, and more in-depth courses were charging so much that they were out of reach for most bloggers who perhaps only saw their blogs as a side hustle – as I did initially. 

So, I set out to create a mixture of free and affordable paid courses, and resources that covered more advanced strategies that could help bloggers take their blogs from side-hustle to a full-time profitable business. 

I also wanted to focus on ethical feel-good strategies based on trust, and building relationships between the blogger and their audience. Many people worry that affiliate marketing can come across as “salesy” or inauthentic, and I wanted to show them how they could still receive great results whilst retaining their personal integrity.  

Now I teach bloggers and online business owners how they can use a variety of passive income streams such as affiliate marketing, email marketing, and selling digital products to scale their businesses. Until this point, most of my training is delivered via online courses and ebooks, and inside my Facebook community. Yet, I am planning to expand over the next few months to work with one-on-one clients helping them to brainstorm personalized creative business strategies. 

What has been the most challenging thing you have faced in the first two years of operating your business? How did you overcome it?

My initial challenge was learning to promote my own products instead of someone else’s. As an introvert, self-promotion is not something that comes naturally to me. I had to start showing up on social media, appearing on video, and presenting at virtual summits which felt very uncomfortable at first. 

I would watch the playbacks of my presentations and compare myself to other speakers, wishing I came across as polished as they did. I remember speaking at one summit which was attended by over 4,000 bloggers experiencing the worst imposter syndrome. But shortly after the presentation, my inbox was flooded with messages from the attendees thanking me for ‘keeping it authentic’ and being ‘approachable.’ I realized that my style did not have to mirror every successful blogging coach ahead of me. My own style might be less polished, but it was also my superpower and the reason my audience connected with me. 

Another challenge I faced was launching my affiliate marketing course. Although it catered to all website niches, my background in travel blogging meant that travel bloggers made up around 50% of my audience. At a time when travel was on hold, I really worried that it would hinder my sales. It felt like the worst time ever to start an online course for bloggers! 

Instead of ignoring the issue, I chose to tackle it head-on. I talked about it on my sales page and in sales emails and I showed up on Facebook live training to talk about pivoting in niches affected by the pandemic. By tackling objections upfront, I was able to achieve a 3.7% email list conversion rate when I launched in July 2020, exceeding all goals I have previously set.

Please tell us what lead you to the path of entrepreneurship?

I didn’t start out in marketing; in fact, I got a degree in medicine and worked as a doctor for 10 years before starting this business. But working as a general practitioner sometimes felt like I was on a hamster wheel and I felt something was missing. I took a 4-month sabbatical after I completed my specialty training and spent some time in South America. Whilst there, I started a travel blog to document my experiences. 

I attended a few blogging conferences and started to realize my blog could be a side hustle which fulfilled my need for a creative outlet. I started promoting group adventure tours as an affiliate and 18 months later, had generated $350K in revenue for one of the companies I promoted. It was around this time that some friends talked me into starting a website teaching my strategies. 

I planned for it to be a slow burn side hustle but everything changed in March 2020 when the pandemic struck. My travel blog income fell off a cliff – no one was booking adventure trips anymore. I was also struggling to get any work as a locum doctor which was pretty surprising since most healthcare staff were busier than ever. But I had some health issues which made me more vulnerable to Covid and so I was restricted to remote triage only which was incredibly frustrating. 

So my low-key side hustle suddenly became my primary business overnight. It was the push I needed and over the last year, I have launched 12 digital products including courses, ebooks, digital planners, and design templates. I am now looking to start incorporating one-on-one coaching into my business, helping bloggers add new passive income streams to their business.

My business has gone from strength to strength and I’ve grown an engaged community of bloggers and online business owners seeking to add new income streams to their businesses. I focus on teaching ethical, feel-good sales strategies based on trust and relationship building. 

I now know my true passions and skills lie in creative business strategy. I think when we finish school at 18, we are still learning about ourselves and it’s so easy to choose the wrong path. If someone told me then that I would be an entrepreneur running my own business, I would have laughed. Starting a business was not even on my radar but now I couldn’t imagine doing anything else! I’ve finally found a career path that actually makes me happy. 

What are the three most important things every woman entrepreneur should do, when first thinking about starting a business?

Make sure you put aside a savings nest egg. Even when you have done all the math, there are always unexpected expenses. Also knowing that you have that nest egg, will help you to have the confidence to take calculated risks and try new things. I always try to have at least 6 months of living costs in a savings account at any one time. 

Invest in knowledge. It can be tempting to spend all your budget on shiny new tools and services but money spent on knowledge is never wasted. So consider taking courses, joining memberships or mastermind groups or investing in business coaching. This will help you to avoid making mistakes others have made before you allowing you to reach success much faster. 

Network as much as you can. The more people you know in your industry, the more doors that will open. Opportunities can come from the most unexpected connections. For example, a blogger who I met and helped for free turned out to be friends with the organizer of a virtual summit and so doing a  simple favour lead to being invited to speak at her friend’s next conference, reaching thousands of bloggers. So go to conferences (online or in-person,) join online communities and attend networking events as often as you can. Also, make sure you are always helpful and supportive and give more than you take.

 Are there actionable steps a woman in business should take to ensure that her company is successful in two years?

Don’t be afraid to take some risks. Very few successful business owners have never taken risks to get where they are today. I turned down a potential partnership in a GP practice to explore blogging as a career. Many people thought I was mad but my instincts told me it was the right thing to do.

Make time for work-life balance. It’s very easy to burn out, especially in the early years where you may be working independently without a team to support you. Set yourself some clear ground rules such as sticking to set office hours and having at least one day off work each week. Setting autoresponder emails to let your customers know that you will respond within a certain time frame can help take the pressure off. 

Don’t try to do everything at once. There is more than one route to success and just because someone is doing it one way, doesn’t mean you have to do it that way too. Instead, choose your lane and stay in it when you first get started. It’s better to master one project rather than try several at once with partial success. When you have a good handle on it, that’s the time to try new things and introduce new revenue streams into your business. 

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