Do you wish you could create a second income on the side but just not sure how to get started?

You’re not alone!

With so many options out there for new entrepreneurs, just choosing what to do can be very overwhelming.

During this episode of Do The Damn Thing, Laura Foy sits down with Marie Tavernier, a digital diva who began an online academy with courses designed to help those just starting up their own businesses.

But how did Marie first get things up-and-running? What challenges did she have to overcome? And what tips and tricks does she freely share with others in her own online course?

Be sure to watch our video now to find out how she did the damn thing!

Read the script:

Laura: Hello everybody. Welcome to another episode of Do The Damn Thing. My name is Laura, and today I am very, very excited to be joined by Marie Tavernier all the way from overseas. Welcome to the show Marie.

Marie: Hi.

Laura: How are you? Tell everyone where you are in the world.

Marie: I’m in London. I’m in the UK.

Laura: Very nice. I believe you are our first international guest, so you have popped our overseas cherry. We’re very excited to have you. And we really just want to get to know you. We want to talk about your story and your business. I know a little bit about you, and I found it to be very inspirational. We’re hoping that we can convince others to Do The Damn Thing. So let’s start by telling people what you do? What’s your online business?

Marie: Okay. So I concentrate on people who were like me in the beginning. People who want to create another way of getting an income stream. They want to work from home. They want to be around their kids. And this was the position that I was in 18 months ago. I’m concentrating on people who don’t have a big social following. They can do things on a small budget.

So I create courses, webinars, eBooks – whatever I can in the digital field, just to teach them exactly how to use their social media to start earning some money.

Laura: And it’s obviously a booming industry. Especially with coronavirus – and even before that – everyone is turning online and looking to ramp up their social media skills. So let’s talk about you. Where did your skills come from? How did you become the expert that you are today?

Marie: So I started in sales just over 20 years ago. I have a marketing background in sales and property sales. I did everything that was commission-based. And I kind of worked my way up the ranks. And then, I went into the online field. So I started to do things like ads online and magazine space. And I kind of realized that if I can do this for somebody else, and sell this space for someone else, and make them triple the amount of money that I’m making myself, then there’s got to be a way that I can do this for myself as well.

So I started to dig around and started to look into other ways that I can put my stamp on things. And the more that I sort of dug around and found things, the more I realized that there are other people already doing this. They’ve already kind of hit the nail on the head. They’ve already got it out there, and I wanted to do it too. I wanted to see if this could work. And so I started with a blog.

Laura: I actually did a brief stint in sales, and personally, I think that is a tough job. It’s very stressful. You never know what your paycheck is going to be. Your success heavily depends on others buying what you’re selling. So was there a moment for you where you decided, “Maybe I don’t want to work in this industry, and I want to do my own thing?” What was that light bulb or that “Aha!” moment that went off for you that allowed you to go out on your own? What was that like?

Marie: I remember working for a company called Thompson Local who did ad space. And there were listings, and they had this new section where they have an online section. And you were to sell a website, and you were to sell ad space to new entrepreneurs.

And I remember going into this woman’s home – she was a single mom with a little boy. And I was to sell her this £1500 package. And I remember including many add-ons. So it ended up being £2100 in the end. She didn’t have the money, but she was prepared. She bought into me. But I didn’t believe in the product. I didn’t believe in what I was selling. And by the time I got the signed paperwork – because obviously, you’ve got the dragons behind you kind of breathing down your neck to get these sales in. But my heart, and my values, and my morals – I just couldn’t connect the two.

And at that point, I just said, “Enough’s enough! I can’t do this anymore.” So I remember spending a lot of time actually working with her out of business hours to make sure that her money wasn’t being wasted. And I put that time in off my own back. And then afterward, I just said, “No, I’m done.”

Laura: I love that story. I actually had a similar experience. I was selling ads on television and was selling them to local plumbers and small business owners. And I was like, “I don’t know if I believe that these television ads are ever going to help these people.” So I totally identify with that story. So, you made this decision to go out on your own. What’s day one like? Are you just like, “I’m going to build a course. I’m going to start writing.” Did you already know the basics to launch a successful Instagram business, or did you have to educate yourself?

Marie: I had to educate myself. I was studying at the time. I was getting my HR degree. And during the degree, I started my blog about a year before I graduated. But I had no social media. I had no Facebook. I had no Instagram. I had nothing.

Laura: How long ago are we talking here?

Marie: This was in 2016, so just over four years ago. And when I graduated, I actually had a teaching position set up. And it was paying £21,000. Coming off of a sales background and knowing what I could earn, and then looking at that possible paycheck, I just thought, “Well, how am I going to do this, and take care of two kids, and run a successful blog? It just isn’t doesn’t add up.”

So at that point, I just thought, “No, I can do this. I can do this myself.” So I started to dig around on Instagram. I actually got it off a TV program where they were making millions off an Instagram page. So I thought, “I’ll give this a try.” So that’s how it started. Yeah, it was just a moment.

Laura: You must have some innate belief in yourself to have that, you know what I mean? You’ve got that strong character, which is amazing cause you’ve got to have those “cojones” to go out there on your own. Those are the people that we look for at HipCat… opens in a new tab to HipCat society website…. And most of them are happy and grateful that they did make that jump and that they did the damn thing.

So, did you have a mentor? I know that you’re out there teaching others. Was there someone that you looked to or someone you modeled?

Marie: I’ve modeled people that I found on Instagram. But initially, I would find someone, and I would literally hound them until they spoke to me. I would just be on the phone, in the Instagram DMs, saying, “Can you speak to me?” I actually did it a couple of weeks ago, and we speak all the time now. I did it to somebody else on Facebook, and I just said, “You’re doing a lot more revenue than I am. I can see that from your posts and the things that you share. Can you tell me how you did it?”

I think that’s one of the things that people forget or they’re too scared to realize. If you show people how hungry you are, they can’t deny you. It doesn’t add up because they’re hungry too. They have to be hungry to be where they are.

And I do like teaching people that they don’t have to have a blog in order to do that. I think a lot of people connect the two and they feel that affiliate marketing means a blog. And that means it’s going to take two years to build up the content and  build up the audience. But actually, it doesn’t. You can affiliate market to your small audience on social media. And I teach how to do that and how to start.

Laura: They’ve been there, and they recognize the struggle. The struggle is real. I’ve been known to stalk someone every now and then myself. No judgment here. Do you have an industry or a niche that you specialize in? And if so, was it always that way? Where do you get your clients?

Marie: A lot of my clients come from freelancing. I built my portfolio up on Fiverr… opens in a new window to Fiverr website…. And then from there, I’ve kind of funneled a lot of my clients into my own email list. And once they’ve come into my email list, then I speak to them and have conversations with them that way, and do small coaching calls – that sort of thing.

But in terms of a niche, we’re just looking at beginner entrepreneurs. People who want to make money. They want to add a second or third income stream, but they don’t know how. They’re looking at all these influences, and they’re thinking, “Well, how do I do that? I know I have a skill, and I want to make more money, but what do I do? How do I bring more in?” I’m focusing on those people. So the majority are single moms—I kind of focus on people like me, to be honest.

Laura: Your message is gonna resonate with that audience, so that makes absolute sense. For those of you just joining, I did want to remind you that we are live right now on Facebook with Marie Tavernier. So if you have questions, comments, or just want to say, “Hey,” go ahead and enter that into the chat. You are getting a bunch of likes and hearts.

But in the meantime, I want to ask you a few more questions. Do you have an area that you specialize in? Is email marketing your thing? I know you mentioned that once you get them into your orbit, you send them a lot of emails. Is there a focus, or are you kind of all over the board?

Marie: I’m quite broad across digital marketing, but my focus has always been affiliate marketing. I find that it’s one of the easiest things to get into initially. And I do like teaching people that they don’t have to have a blog in order to do that. I think a lot of people connect the two, and they feel that affiliate marketing means a blog. And that means it’s going to take two years to build up the content and build up the audience. But actually, it doesn’t. You can affiliate market to your small audience on social media. And I teach how to do that and how to start. 

Laura: When I think of affiliate marketing, it’s like, “Hey, I use Constant Contact… opens in a new window to Constant Contact website… as my email provider.” So now I’m going to tell my people to use Constant Contact. And then I’m going to get a little piece of the cake from those people. Is that what you were suggesting? I would assume that I need a large audience before I start making any money. I’m not trying to get your course for free, but could you give us just a nugget?

Marie: Yes. The main thing about affiliate marketing is this: If you’re using a product, then you’re going to speak about it with a little bit more gusto. There’s going to be loyalty in the brand that you’ve chosen. So that’s fine. And you can share that. But you can also go onto something like ShareASale… opens in a new window to ShareASale website… and you can sign up for products that you have never heard of before, but you know that they would resonate with your audience.

So if you’ve got an audience where the engagement’s really high on things like memes or funny videos, or maybe you have a social media with a lot of quotes – you can actually find a product that specializes in that, and you can share that product. And then you can drive traffic so that they can get more of it. And they can have it like a diary. It could be a journal of affirmations. It depends on what your audience has become accustomed to. And you can find all the products there and just start sharing different things on different types of media.

So it doesn’t have to be all focused on Instagram. You can put some stuff from Snapchat or Twitter. It depends on where your audience is and what they’ve become accustomed to. And if you’re new, then just choose something. Just start fresh and choose something.

Laura: I think that most people assume with an online business, you have to have a product. But you’re saying you don’t. You don’t need anything. You just spread the good word and watch the mailbox money roll in. That’s a really different approach to it, and I kind of love it. I kind I need to start doing that. I might need to take your course.

Melissa loves how you just went for it. She wants to know, “Were you scared? How did you push through that fear?”

Marie: I wasn’t scared at first. I probably have become scared at moments during the process. But when I started, I just went completely in, and I think it comes from my sales background. It’s the focus. I put everything into little boxes. I knew how many emails I needed to send and how many calls I needed to send in order to convert. So I went with that mindset into my business. I knew then how many pieces of content I needed to create in order to draw people in. Then I just needed to do that consistently, which is no different from sales, especially when you’re making phone sales, or you’re knocking on doors. There’s a process.

I put everything into little boxes. I knew how many emails I needed to send and how many calls I needed to send in order to convert. So I went with that mindset into my business. So I knew then how many pieces of content I needed to create in order to draw people in. And then just to do that on a consistent basis, which is no different from sales, especially when you’re doing phone sales or you’re knocking on doors. There’s a process.

But then there are moments during the process that you do become scared. Yet, you’re responsible for the information that you put out.

Laura: As I do these interviews and I talk to people, I find that a lot of people say, “I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into.” It sounds like you had a little bit of that. So what are some of the things that are really different than what you had expected?

Marie: I think it’s realizing that as things become quicker, you have to keep up with them. Initially, people were happy with just a static post. They were happy with a quote or a picture, or a basic meme. But now it’s having to put out videos to get more engagements. And now the meetings are having to be a little bit more refined. And you’re having to put your personality out there and just find wording that connects with your audience and different age groups. That can be challenging.

Laura: We’ve got a quick question. Melissa says that she doesn’t see herself as an expert, but can she make a course or an e-book to sell what she does know? Any advice for that?

Marie: Absolutely! You do not have to be an expert. Here is one of the best examples I was given before I created my first course. One man actually made a course by reading a book. He made millions off of just one course. He read a book, and for every chapter, he thoroughly studied it. He became an expert in that one area, and then he made the course as he went through the book. He literally just made it as he went on.

So I always say to people that there’s really no such thing as an expert because things are always changing. So make a course based on where you are at this moment. So I still consider myself a beginner. So I make courses for beginners. I make courses for the intermediate level. I don’t believe I’ve reached the advanced level in my business. So wherever you are in this moment, create from where you are. 

Laura: That makes a lot of sense. You’re meeting them where you are. You’re not speaking down to them. It’s all about getting that message to resonate with the right audience. Do you have any tips for somebody really new? How do you find an audience? How do you build an audience?

Marie: Most of the time, your audience is already with you. You’ve got a network. If you’re not on social media, which is very rare, then I would say to start building something and start speaking to people from your voice, showing your personality and building your brand that way.

And just remember to show a little bit of you. If you’re comfortable on camera, then start making some videos, start having some conversations, and start building from whatever your passion is. Always start from where your passion is. But if you do have your own social media accounts, you’re probably already sharing things anyway. And if it’s a little bit all over the place, just start to funnel everything down into one area. Test your posts and see what your engagement is. And then focus on what works. 

Laura: We’re looking at your Instagram… opens in a new window to The Diva/Online Teacher Instagram page… right now. I can see that you’ve definitely got a style. It looks like you’ve got certain colors that you tend to use more consistently. Is that something that you kind of learned as you went, or is that a coincidence? And what tools do you use to design your Instagram page?

Marie: I’m so glad you asked me that. I actually have created a course on that very same thing. I use Canva… opens in a new window to Canva website…. I’m in love with Canva. I use Canva for everything. So I’ve created a course to show people some of the features that a lot of people don’t know even exist.

It is intentional, but I’m not one of those people, as you can see, that has a completely cohesive feed where everything is perfectly aligned. I like to show my personality, and that’s organized chaos, to be honest.

Laura: So you are a Canva affiliate.

Marie: Yes, I am.

Laura: So if anyone is not familiar with Canva, use Marie’s affiliate link and go ahead and sign up for Canva.

Marie: And you can take the course. There are two hours of good content available now. It’s actually the newest one I’ve done.

Laura: Since the show is called Do The Damn Thing, and we are talking to really your audience, as well as ours – people who maybe are a little nervous – they want to start, but they’re not sure. What do you have to say to them? What advice do you have to help them put those limiting beliefs out the door and get up and take action? What would you say to the people out there who are still afraid?

Marie: Start on day one and just do the damn thing from day one. Don’t second-guess yourself because you didn’t second-guess yourself when you started your social media pages. You’ve got Instagram. You’ve got Facebook. You’re sharing other people’s memes. Start to share things that are connected to you, and what you want to do, and whatever your goals goal is.

I don’t know why you have social media account. Sometimes it’s just to share your personality at that moment. Keep doing that, but have a focus and a goal. Just start from day one and keep going from there. And if there’s a software or a package or a platform that you have been told to use, don’t just rush in. Study it. Go through it. Go through a course. It doesn’t have to be mine. Go through a course. Go through a webinar. Go through an e-book. Study it and then start to put the pieces of the puzzle together. And then you become your own expert in your own area. And that might take you a month. It might take you three. It doesn’t matter. But start today.

Laura: There’s a quote out there that says something along the lines of, “There’s somebody out there and probably a lot of people out there who need to hear it in your voice.” There’s so much information overload right out there. Somebody needs to hear it from you. Somebody needs to hear it the way Marie says it. And I love that. And I think that is very aligned with what you’ve been telling me here today. Just be yourself and be authentic.

Marie: Don’t try to be anybody else but yourself. Just be who you are. And don’t try to change the things that you feel somebody else will judge. A good example is Gary Vee. He doesn’t change who he is. He doesn’t stop swearing because he doesn’t know who’s listening at that moment. That’s his thing. That’s how he operates. He’s not putting it on. He’s not doing any extra. He’s giving value, but he’s also giving you his actual personality. Some people will like it. Some people won’t. You can’t please everybody.

Laura: The right people will like it. You mentioned that organized chaos is how you live. Are there tools or software that you use that you could not live without? What runs your business?

Marie: My business is run off of MailChimp… opens in a new window to Mailchimp website…. I am actually about to go into SamCart… opens in a new window to SamCart website…. My business is also run off of Canva. I would say that is probably my number one tool because it provides most of my content, including my course content as well. I also use software like Apowersoft… opens in a new window to Apowersoft website…. That does my editing. It does my MP4 conversions. It does my screen-recording as well, which is essential to my course creation. So everything comes under one umbrella.

Laura: I always like to hear what other people are using and real-life stories. Speaking of that, Charlie says, “How do you like working with MailChimp? Do you find that your emails are rejected like crazy? Any tips so that you don’t end up in the dreaded spam folder or not even delivered at all?”

Marie: I haven’t had that problem. I did have some initial problems. Unfortunately, they don’t like the words “affiliate marketing.” It seems to flag an issue, and I had my account closed twice. So, I raised that issue with them, and they seemed to not know what on earth I was talking about.

But I tried other platforms, and I just wasn’t happy with the results. I wasn’t happy with the feel of it. So I’ve come back to MailChimp. I’m very careful about what I put in the content. My open rates are very good. I think the bounce rate is very low, maybe one or two, and that might be the fault of the potential customer who’s maybe putting the wrong address or maybe it’s not live anymore. So, no, I haven’t had any issues so far.

Laura: I think the fact that you have a strategy with email is the most important thing. We only have a couple more minutes, but I just wanted to touch on coronavirus. How has this pandemic affected your livelihood? And has it been beneficial?

Marie: From a health perspective, at the very beginning, it was scary. You had to make sure that you mentioned it in certain things to let people know that you were aware of what’s going on and how they must be feeling. From my perspective, during the lockdown, it really changed the way that I do my business and how I work in my business from a home-life perspective.

But in terms of factual sales, I saw an increase. I saw an increase around the second month over here. I saw an increase around probably the end of April. And I think that’s just generally because everybody’s looking for ways to have some financial security.

And even though I’m not in the stocks and shares market, it’s just about them actually putting some action in and utilizing the things they’re already on. Everybody was on a Facebook live and an Instagram live during the lockdown. And I think they still are – maybe not as much. But how do we utilize that to make money? How do we use our audience? So, you kind of focus on that. You don’t want to use it as a tool, but you have to be aware of what’s happening around you. And then use it as an advantage in a way. 

Laura: I think a lot of eyes were opened into the possibilities that are out there. Just in companies like Microsoft that now offer permanent remote working. And, of course, Zoom stock is through the roof. So there’s a lot of opportunities that can be had, and people have had to pivot. I think you hit the nail on the head.

We are just about out of time, but I wanted to give you an opportunity to tell everybody where to find you and how to get in touch with you. We will also list all of this in the description below. How can people reach out to you and take your courses?

Marie: The best way to do it is to join me on Instagram. So it’s @marietaverniers… opens in a new window to The Dive/Online Teacher Instagram page…. And you can find me there. I usually link everything that I post to a relevant course or ebook, or webinar. And I share stuff there first. So I usually do a pre-order so that you can know what’s coming and what I’m working on. So you can find me on Instagram.

Laura: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. Now I’m going to go be an affiliate marketer and quit my day job. Thank you much for your time, and we’ll see everybody next week. Bye-bye.

Marie: Thanks, Laura.

So please like us on Facebook… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Facebook page…, follow us on Instagram… opens in a new window to Hipcat Society Instagram page…, and connect with Marie at… opens in a new window to Marie Taverniers website….

Graphic of Do the Damn Thing with title to never miss an episode

Like our Facebook page so you never miss an episode… opens in a new window to HipCat Society Facebook page….