Does it feel like every time you pull up Instagram or Facebook it’s an ad for a new course, a podcast launch, another best-seller, or (my personal fave) a freebie that’s going to FINALLY show you how to build a six-figure business working only three days a week. The constant launches, pitches, and promises for a better life and business. If your social media feed isn’t overwhelmed with this content, then your email inbox probably is.
So if education is everywhere, how do you know where to invest your money and who to trust? And WHY is it like this in the creative industry?
REDUCE THE NOISE
When I started my business, I craved knowledge. More than that, I consumed content constantly, on my commute to work, over my lunch hour, even while I was editing in the early mornings and late nights. Like myself, many creative business owners did not study the field that they’re working in at a formal level. For example, I went to college for nursing, not photography. I googled my way to becoming a photographer and surrounded myself with information that I wanted to know.
So it only makes sense that my social media feeds would be filled with targeted ads based on my interests and research. Eventually, I realized that while it felt like education was everywhere, it was because I put that information in my direct path. Furthermore, I had to acknowledge how many industry peers I was following on social media. If I was sharing content, I was consuming two-three times as much from my social feeds. Everything in front of me was screaming “grow fast, hustle harder, work longer, make more money!”
And eventually I started to realize something. The information that we take in has a direct impact on our thoughts, our hearts, and even our mental health. Have you ever felt anxious or overwhelmed after listening to a podcast, just thinking about how far behind you are? What if you aren’t actually behind at all? What if you’re right on track and building a business at your own pace.
I learned that in order to stay in my lane, I needed to drastically reduce the noise in my life. Do I still consume education? Absolutely, I still love to learn and grow. However, I’ve put a filter on what I learn, when I learn it, and who I learn it from.
After reducing the noise around us and filtering out the education we consume, it’s time to find a trustworthy educator. And that feels hard, doesn’t it? If it feels like everyone is teaching, then how do we know who’s legit and who simply has a great marketing team?
Over the past three years, I’ve found that there is no foolproof way to find a trustworthy educator. However, there are a few tactics to at least identify the educators who seem to stand out amongst the crowd.
- Follow them for a set period of time
- Raise your hand if you’ve purchased education from an educator you JUST discovered that day/week, etc. My hand is raised. Want to know how many times that has worked out for me? Almost never. Take the time to study an educator before investing money in what they have to offer. Do you like the teaching style? Are they repeating widely circulated information, or do they have something new to offer? Do their sales tactics feel icky to you or are you comfortable with how they market?
- Ask to speak with a former client
- Of course the testimonials on their sales page are brilliant, they want you to purchase their product! A good educator should be able to connect you with 1-3 former students who would be willing to chat with you on the phone and provide an honest review of their experience.
- Pay attention
- Pay attention to what the educator is doing in their business. And I mean really pay attention. I once made a large, last minute investment because peers that I admired raved about the content. As it turned out the educator had recently taken a step back due to “business overwhelm.” Ironically, the course was essentially teaching us how to create a simplified business and life. So remember, not everything is as it seems.
START AT THE BEGINNING
As you search out content and educators, take the time to evaluate your current level of knowledge, what you really need to learn, and be honest with yourself about what would be the most helpful information right now.
Investing in education simply because it’s “on sale” is NOT a great business strategy. It’s important to be mindful of where you are in your business and what type of education matters in the present. Try not to skip steps. In other words, laying a strong business foundation is the best thing you can possibly do for yourself, your business, and your future. Have you ever invested in a Pinterest course, when you’re not actively blogging? Or how about a Facebook Ads course when you don’t know how to sell to the fans you currently have?
Make a list of the areas of your business you struggle with and then start from the top. This will help to simplify the process of education, develop a plan, and then provide you with ample time to research educators in each individual area of business. As you discover education, be very clear about what exactly you will be learning. For example, if the sales page is not extremely transparent on the content provided, you may consider looking elsewhere or reaching out to the educator for clarity.
APPLY WHAT YOU LEARN
Remember how I mentioned that I consumed content daily in the beginning? It was literally daily. From morning until night, if I wasn’t at work I found myself reading a business book, browsing Pinterest, diving into photography blogs, and listening to podcasts and audiobooks on my commute, even while I was cooking in the kitchen!
However, a lot of the information that I consumed I never applied. It was either outside of my current scope of business, it was strictly motivational, or it simply wasn’t beneficial to me, my business, and the life that I wanted to build.
How often are you consuming content and education that you never apply to your business? Do you listen to podcasts daily? Are you constantly on the search for the next best business book? Does the information you consume actually translate into actionable steps for you daily? Not only does the process of consuming content without taking the time to apply it waste our time and valuable energy, but it can start to take a toll on our mental health.
Everything we intake affects our hearts and our heads, whether it’s education based or not. As humans in a modern world, we are already surrounded by information daily. Furthermore, as small business owners, we intentionally add an extra serving or two of information to our already full plates. How do you think this impacts your anxiety, self-worth, and progress in both business and life? In other words, please consume content intentionally and take the time to apply what you learn.
TRANSITION TO 1:1
Phew, you made it! First, you’ve reduced the noise around you, discovered a trustworthy educator, developed a plan, applied what you’ve learned, and you’re making major progress in your business. So, where do you go from here?
Thankfully, because there IS so much education available, you can typically find an online course, book, or podcast on almost every topic. So as you work down your list in each area of business, there’s usually a more affordable route for getting started.
Wondering what happens after you’ve covered the basics and would love to learn more? This is when I find that general “online courses” may not be the best option. The problem with courses, is that while they may be full of incredible information, that information probably isn’t helpful for every individual at every level. Eventually it’s time to search out 1:1 education options.
If you have found that you’re investing in education that seems less than helpful, then you’ve probably reached this point in your business. Thankfully, the next step is relatively simple. Start by identifying your major pain points and the areas where you’d love to learn more. Then go back to that list of trusted educators, ask to speak with past clients, and start to make inquiries into 1:1 education that will project you to the next level of business. 1:1 sessions can also be a great segue into making a large investment with that educator. If you’re considering a mastermind or a high level business course, start here if the price is right and get to know the educator on a deeper level before committing to anything long term.
In the Fall of 2018, I started to practice everything that I preach above. I had made some major blunders when investing in my education. I was listening to podcasts and audiobooks daily, diving into every business book I could get my hands on, and yet I was at a complete business standstill and felt anxious about my progress and my future.
Amidst all of that, there was one educator whom I had been following for over a year, and continued to admire and take valuable information from. Finally, I knew it was time to invest in Katie O. Selvidge.
Katie had a proven track record with success in her own businesses and with clients that she taught. I started with a 1:1 session and applied as much information as I could from our time together. It was at that point that I started unsubscribing from podcasts, cancelled my Audible subscription, cleared up my email inbox, and started to find clarity in the process. I then signed up for her free mini course “Edit My Course”, and actually spent the time working through the content each and every day.
When Katie launched Editors Course last December, I felt confident it was the next step for me. I needed to go back to the beginning and create a solid foundation for my business. I wanted to work with intention and instill purposeful business practices to create a life and business that I loved. The course is still in progress, but I had the opportunity to fly out to Oklahoma in August to attend the in-person Editor’s Course retreat and actually meet Katie and my fellow course attendees.
It was my first ever in-person retreat and a perfect refresher for my creative heart. Taking the time to research, apply and start small has made all the difference in how I view education in this industry. It has calmed my anxiousness regarding progress, provided clarity for my future, and definitely lightened the load on my bank account and business expenses!
Enjoy some beautiful images from our Sessions at Spain Ranch and Retreat Dinner at Katie’s home.