I Got Fired. It Fueled Me To Build My Own $300K/Year Business
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
Hi! I’m Jorden Makelle. I started online as a freelance writer, and now, I run Writing Revolt, which is a blog and YouTube channel that helps freelance writers learn how to make money online, even with no experience and no college degree.
I push writers to ditch exploitative content mills and bidding sites and instead start a real, sustainable writing business.
In my best-selling program, Killer Cold Emailing, students learn how to start freelance writing from absolute scratch –– just like I did when I lost my job in 2015! I also have a blog post copywriting program, F Yeah Freelance Blogging, that students take to learn how to write blog posts that drive results for their clients.
My online business now brings in multiple six figures, and just as importantly, I’ve been able to build an incredible online community and help thousands of writers succeed and live their dream life!
What's your backstory and how did you get into freelance writing?
I lost my full-time job unexpectedly in 2015 the same day my husband’s work contract ended at that same workplace. That day was incredibly stressful –– we walked out of the office with no clue what we were going to do to get by.
Getting fired is what finally propelled me into starting my own freelance writing business, and I think the urgency of having no backup plan is what really pushed me to succeed!
But the whole situation ended up being a major blessing in disguise. Getting fired is what finally propelled me into starting my own freelance writing business, and I think the urgency of having no backup plan is what really pushed me to succeed!
Just about 4 months after losing my job, I had my first $5,000 month as a freelance writer –– even though I had no college degree and was incredibly inexperienced. My freelance writing business continued to grow to over $8,000/mo. I was finally living my dream life, working from home full-time, and writing for a living, which is something I had wanted to do for years!
Being able to live out this dream made me realize that I wanted to help others start writing from home too. That’s how the Writing Revolt blog began!
Through trial and error, I had created a marketing and cold emailing process that was really unique –– and exactly what I wish I’d had started. So I put all of that information into my Killer Cold Emailing program, which was the first online course I ever created and launched. Today, it’s my most popular and best-selling course, and it’s helped so many beginner writers start a full-time freelance business from home!
Take us through the process of designing, prototyping, and manufacturing your first product.
When I started as a freelance writer in 2015, I looked everywhere for a true step-by-step process I could use to get started freelance writing. Specifically, I wanted to know exactly how to pitch/cold email and set up a marketing plan that would ensure my long-term success.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t find much! Most courses and tutorials I saw appeared to include a bunch of different marketing tactics –– but no comprehensive, step-by-step plan where the entire process worked together. I had to create my own step-by-step strategy through trial and error, which was ultimately very successful and now lives inside the Killer Cold Emailing course.
I was very intentional about launching the course without obsessing over tiny details like branding, logos, etc. I whipped up a quick logo for the course myself in Canva with a purchased font and chose a few simple colors for the branding. Then, I focused fully on the most important part – creating the course content I knew would change people’s lives by teaching them how to start freelance writing.
Being an online course, the production costs were very minimal. My biggest “cost” was the time and effort I spent creating the course and building up my blog beforehand, which was several months.
Describe the process of launching that first course.
My first ever Killer Cold Emailing course launch ran from late November 2016 to early December 2016. That launch didn’t look anything like a launch I’d run today, 5 years later, but it was still very successful considering my experience level and email list size! I made about $6,000 from the launch, and I was able to help so many writers start their business, which was incredibly fulfilling and gave me a major sense of purpose to keep teaching my process.
I had a couple of thousand email subscribers at the time, but I only sent the launch email sequence to a small segment of about 300 people who had specifically opted into seeing it.
Below is part of one of those first launch emails. I wanted to make sure I was selling – but doing so ethically and authentically. I also shared exactly what was in the program so there was no confusion.
To create urgency during the launch, I offered special VIP pricing of 20% off to anyone who enrolled before the deadline.
I believe the course was only around $189 then. I wanted to give my readers an incredible offer and keep the pricing low as a way to say thank you for being the first-ever student and trusting the Killer Cold Emailing program and process.
After that, I left the course up for sale on my site to get evergreen sales, which trickled in, but my launches were really the major source of my online course revenue.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
I have made a major shift in my business in the past year or so. I used to try to do it all – running a huge Facebook community of writers, posting to Instagram all of the time, writing and publishing blog posts constantly, etc.
Now, instead of spreading myself so thin and trying to do it all, I focus almost 100% of my efforts on two things:
My YouTube channel and my email newsletter.
As far as YouTube, I have over 43,000 subscribers right now. It’s an incredibly positive community and a refreshingly kind corner of the internet!
When I started posting to YouTube, I wasn’t a video content expert by any means. I just used best practices when it came to SEO and general content structure. Fortunately, that was enough to get me started, and one of the first-ever videos I posted now has over 200,000 views!
Really, success on YouTube is just about using the same general tactics you’d use to grow a blog –– cultivating a genuine community, having a strong brand, creating high-quality evergreen content that gets heavy search traffic, etc. Once I did all of this on YouTube and added in more video skills like pro lighting and better editing, my channel took off even more.
I currently have 28,000 email subscribers, and I truly love hearing from my audience. I try to read every newsletter response and reply to most of them! I typically send a newsletter every week, and then, I also send course launch emails to my list (usually a few times a year).
Most people sign up for my newsletter by downloading a freebie I offer on my website or YouTube channel. More recently, I’ve added a dedicated “Join My Newsletter” page to my website, with loads of testimonials from readers, so I’ll be testing that as a way to drive sign-ups.
Overall, I find that I enjoy my newsletter and YouTube so much because they allow me to have more genuine and meaningful interactions with my audience than I ever could with other methods, like typical social media.
By focusing almost solely on YouTube and my newsletter, I’m able to create the best content that helps the most people. Plus, I can devote far more time to helping my course students, which has been great.
I feel that I’m able to succeed with my marketing because, ironically, succeeding with marketing isn’t the only thing I care about! I’m really invested in the writing community, and I genuinely care about the community. I’d like to think that shows throughout my content and everything I put out online!
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
I’ve gotten to a great place in my business where I’m able to take care of myself while also taking care of my audience –– which has always been my biggest goal. I’ve been able to travel full-time as well, which was always a huge dream of mine!
My business is super profitable, and I’m so grateful to have the freedom I always wished for when I worked at a full-time job. Plus, I get to help others achieve that as well, which feels incredibly fulfilling! Especially during a time in history where having the freedom to work from home is more important than ever.
As far as traffic building, I don’t use paid ads at all –– I’ve done them here and there in the past, but my business success is almost exclusively due to organic community building and the resulting growth of my blog, YouTube channel, and email list.
These days, outside of launches, most of my online course sales happen due to my evergreen webinar sales funnels. I teach in-depth online classes via my webinars, and then at the end of each webinar, I pitch my online course.
Usually, about 3% of those who enter the sales funnel to end up enrolling, which is a great conversion rate and I believe is largely influenced by the fact that I have loads of testimonials for my courses.
As far as goals, I’m happy with my business right now, so I’m kind of in business “maintenance mode.” Not really pursuing major growth – just enjoying helping my community, supporting my amazing students, and putting out the best content I can!
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
One of the biggest lessons I’ve always carried with me is to not let perfectionism get in the way of getting started.
My first ever version of my blog design was super simple. I made mistakes during my first launch that I kind of cringe at today. And my first ever YouTube video was me sitting on the floor in my bedroom and just talking (on top of that, the video was blurry!).
But all of those mistakes were necessary for me to get where I am today. That’s why I always tell my audience: You have to feel the fear and take action anyway. The first version you ever create of something probably won’t be very good, but it’s a necessary step on the pathway to success.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
I’m a big fan of simplicity when it comes to business tools –– sticking to tried and true processes that work instead of getting caught up in the latest thing or changing just for the sake of change!
I use Google Calendar and Canva constantly for task management and content creation because they pretty much epitomize “tried and true processes that work.”
Other tools I use and enjoy are ConvertKit for email newsletters, Teachable for online course creation, and SamCart for checkouts.
I’ve been using most of the same tools since I started, but SamCart has been a more recent addition to my business. It’s great because you have tons of control and loads of options when it comes to the checkout process that truly impacts revenue and also creates a great experience for your customers.
Ultimately, any tool I choose has to deliver an excellent experience for my audience and an easy user experience for me on the backend as well. When those two things intersect, I know I’ve found something I can use long-term for my business.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I’ve become a devourer of mindset books over the years! I’ve especially enjoyed You Are a Badass by Jen Sincero, The Art of Less Doing by Ari Meisel, and Essentialism by Greg McKeown. Basically, anything involving a money mindset and running a lean and intentional business.
The TOP 7 BUSINESS BOOKS You NEED To Read in 2021 For BEGINNERS;
It’s interesting because, over my years coaching writers, I’ve learned that mindset issues often hold beginners back from success: fear of failure, fear of now being “perfect,” and fear of rejection are the most common.
For anyone starting, I think it’s so important, to be honest with yourself about your own fears and mindset issues –– and then, ideally, find a book or resource that helps you address them!
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting?
Be willing to make a fool of yourself. Don’t be afraid of failing publicly – accept it as an inevitable step on the pathway to success. You can and will get through it.
Most people are so scared of other people judging or criticizing them that they never chase their dreams. If that’s you, ask yourself: Is it really worth it?
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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