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- Who: Katie Colormaiden
- Website: trashto.cash
- Course Topic: Selling
Who are you and what course have you created?
I’m Katie Colormaiden, a designer, writer and developer, which is often called either a “full stack” designer or a “unicorn.” I work with brilliant, playful, spiritual entrepreneurs all over the world in my company, Embodyart, which I’ve run for 22 years. I also work with innovative Fortune 500 companies. Besides communications, I design my own line of artistic rugs.
I’m certified for building online courses with software called AccessAlly, a sophisticated WordPress plugin.
My own course is called “Trash to Cash,” which is a suite of three mini courses. You can take one or all three in a bundle. The three mini courses are: Declutter, Sell, Organize.
What market does your online course serve?
My people are brilliant, playful, spiritual entrepreneurs. When it comes to the need to declutter, entrepreneurs almost all have excess stuff they feel they can’t devote the necessary time to going through, decluttering and organizing. Part of what’s unique about my course is that I teach you how to sell what you declutter on Poshmark, my favorite social selling platform.
I got good at this during Covid and realized I had to share what I’d learned with others because it was such a big experience. You’ll learn way more than the obvious benefits of a cleaner, more relaxing home, extra cash and a nice sense of organization. For example, this way of selling makes you a better communicator and copywriter by its very nature because you engage with buyers; you don’t just put stuff up and wait.
What’s the biggest benefit of taking your course?
For decluttering, the result is a deep sense of knowing who you are in this moment in time, which brings peace and can take your life in directions you never expected. This experience is very different from just thinking things through; it’s a physical experience that leads places you can’t go without undertaking this.
For selling what you declutter on Poshmark, you’ll learn a ton about pricing, negotiating, communicating, customer service, simple product photography, shipping, the way small amounts actually do add up and it’s a jolt of fun in your week that’s life enhancing. The extra cash is a definite bonus too. I’ve made $5.5k so far.
For organizing, you’ll feel more grounded being able to know where everything is and how to find it easily. That saves you a lot of time and stress which has a big ripple effect in your life.
I’ve heard from people with kids that their kids are helping them declutter and go through all the steps. There’s no better way to teach your kids how to do these valuable things than to show them by example and then have them naturally want to join in.
How did you get into the market?
It’s such a fun story. Completely unexpected. I’m a certified developer for building online courses and I’d offered one hybrid (live online) course before called EmbodyFocus which taught my own system of time management and productivity combined with mindset and it was a very gratifying experience. So I knew I wanted to create another course(s) but wasn’t sure what.
During Covid, I had just done another round of decluttering and had boxes piled high in my music room waiting to be donated. As months wore by, no one was picking up or allowing drop-offs for donations. It drove me nuts seeing the whole room taken up by boxes. My cat loved all the boxes, which was adorable but cat hair in stuff you’re donating isn’t the best add-on.
I’d sold a tiny bit on Poshmark and slowly had started to sell more out of frustration from all these boxes jamming up my house that no one would pick up.
One day I had that moment we all get when we’re ready to make a real change. It was the “that’s it!” moment. This is the best moment! It propels you into action. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. I looked at the boxes and said, “THAT’S IT!” I couldn’t stand seeing them clutter up my room any longer and no one knew how long Covid restrictions would continue. This was after the boxes had been sitting there for 6 months.
I tore open all the boxes and sorted them into three groups: Sell, Donate, Chuck.
Within a couple hours, the entire room was cleared and almost everything was sellable, which I’d learned because I’d slowly started to sell more on Poshmark during this time. I donated a few things to a nearby church box that were decent but couldn’t be sold online for various reasons and even gave a few nice things and books to a passerby (e.g., a high-quality stepladder) and I chucked the few things that weren’t in donate-able condition.
I was stunned. The whole room was cleared out and I was ready for business.
I listed everything online and the fun and profits began.
There are a lot of details to getting good at this and as my success grew, I posted about it and people were extremely interested. So a lightbulb went off and I thought, wow, I should create a course on how to do this.
And there you have it.
I realized there are three distinct parts to this experience the way I see it, which are: Declutter, Sell, Organize.
Decluttering is where it starts and a huge life changer. I was already very much an advocate of decluttering so I knew all about the benefits and difficulties people would be likely to encounter.
I’d had so much fun selling on Poshmark that I became a Posh Ambassador Level II, a status you can reach there.
I know how daunting it can seem to approach selling online and I’ve tried other platforms with little or no success, which is why I’m teaching what I know works. And it’s FUN, which is the best motivator. Making back some of your financial investment for things you aren’t using is also a relief. Plus, there’s a big factor of sustainability built into this process of reselling.
Organizing is something I’ve always been good at. During Covid when we all had so much time at home and to ourselves, I took my organizing skills to the stratosphere. You can’t organize properly until you declutter or you’re just shoving things into spots and you may not even want to keep those things. So organizing has to come after decluttering. I know from feedback how much I have to share about organizing.
Why did you decide to create an online course in the first place?
I’ve run my own business for 22 years and for about 18 of those, it’s been online. I communicate through my website, social media and e-mail and have clients all over the world. In the circles I’m in, online courses have been a big topic of focus and growth for years. I had the good fortune to connect with Nathalie Lussier who’s the creator with her husband, Robin Li, of the AccessAlly platform.
AccessAlly is a sophisticated WordPress plugin for building online courses. As an online entrepreneur, I’ve taken dozens of courses on diverse topics hosted on all sorts of platforms so I’m familiar with options. In my opinion, AccessAlly is the best option available because you can design your course any way you want plus it’s got the tools you need, including a new Community / Forum feature everyone wants. In 2017, I got certified as a developer for AccessAlly so I could become expert in this superb software. I’m unique in that I offer design, copywriting plus development and that’s both what makes me special and what I love doing.
Did you have any moments of doubt before you created/launched it?
OMGosh, yes. I’ve agonized over all the details from naming to how much depth to go into to pricing and especially creating videos. The platform wasn’t an issue, luckily but pretty much everything else was debated.
If so what made you turn it around and do it anyway?
I’m basically a determined pitbull when I decide I’m going to do something. It might take years but if I’ve decided, I’m going to eventually make it happen. I’m surrounded by awesome course creators and entrepreneurs so there’s no doubt that courses are a fantastic offering to add to your online business. The courses I’ve taken have been very helpful so I know the potential power. And for all of us, we have to just start. You’ll always change things as you learn and grow but you’ve got to start for that to happen. You just have to have faith!
What’s your online course like?
The course consists of three sections: Declutter, Sell, Organize. Each section is a mini course so you can do one or all three, however, they’re a logical progression from each other so it makes sense to do all three unless you happen to already be expert in one area.
The course is presented in a private online portal using WordPress and AccessAlly. Once inside, you get access to whichever course(s) you’ve enrolled in and click to get started.
There are individual lessons for each course, along with handouts. Lessons have a video introduction that leads to walkthrough slides. The videos are me teaching and walking students through what they’ll actually encounter. I create slides in Photoshop because I prefer the artistic flexibility over PowerPoint. I’m far from a video pro. For now, I use Screenflow to record videos. Screenflow makes it easy to record yourself and your presentation together if you want to show up in a little window in the corner of your slides, which many people like.
There are live workshops for each course, delivered via Zoom. There are several handy bonuses, including a list of best-selling brands on Poshmark and my favorite organizational resources.
How long did it take you to create your course?
It took about a year and a half to get to the place where I knew what the course would be enough to be able to “pre-sell” it, which is when you invite students in before it’s completely done and it’s a win/win because their contributions and opinions will help shape what the course will be and they get extra attention besides their input being taken into account.
Tell us a little about the process of launching your course and getting your first sale(s).Things almost never go the way you’d expect, lol. I got my first paying client through an online group challenge I was in. - Katie Colormaiden Click To Tweet
I shared a post about my course and the student said, “OMGosh, I was just wondering where I could sell what I decluttered and then you pop up!” That’s what we all want to hear. Since she’s my first client, I told her the course wasn’t even completed yet in terms of video recordings but she’d be part of shaping it and I gave her a few extras for hopping on board. So just like people tell you, I was able to sell it before it was even done.
What I realized I hadn’t known before is that you can sell your course before it’s done IF you really know your topic. That’s the big piece you need. Customers can tell when you talk about your topic if you know what you’re talking about and when they sense that, you can sell it.
Do you have a lead magnet?
I don’t have an active lead magnet for this course as the course has just started through word of mouth. However, I have one planned and can’t wait to share it. It’s called “52 Tweaks,” a tweak for each week of the year, delivered in batches. It’s incredibly helpful items that can seriously make your life better; things you feel like you can’t live without once you’ve got them. These are all things I or people I know have discovered that make home organization and life exponentially better.
I’m also sending occasional e-mails telling my audience about the course and inviting questions and participation. And I continue to post online and invite people to opt-in.Having a deadline is always a good incentive so even with my low-key first launch inviting people to help shape the course, there’s a kickoff date when people need to sign up by. - Katie Colormaiden Click To Tweet
What’s the traffic strategy that works best for you?
As of right now, it’s old school, just talking to people everywhere, whether that’s in groups, to friends, to people when out and about. I think this is a good approach when you want to test your idea, especially because you can see firsthand how people react. Of course, as you grow you need to scale and then the systems I use with my clients are what you want with e-mail automations.
What online course platform are you using?
I use WordPress with AccessAlly, a sophisticated WordPress plugin that works with several tag-based CRMs to function brilliantly and it’s software I’m certified in as a developer.
Do you like it?
I love it. Because it uses WordPress, you can design your portal and course sections exactly how you want. Not only does it make your courses beautiful but they also are uniquely you. If you want customization, this is a great choice for you.
Are there any features you wish it had?
It’s got everything I need and more than I’ve seen in any other solution.
What made you decide to use your chosen platform over others?
I chose AccessAlly because I admired the results I was seeing people create with it. All the most beautiful and smart courses by entrepreneurs that I saw were being created with AccessAlly in my entrepreneurial circles. I’ve taken courses on most of the other platforms out there so I’m familiar with options. And I’m open-minded so I stay aware of what’s going on. I choose AccessAlly hands-down. Every time I explore other solutions, they’re missing something that I want.
What other tools do you use to run your online course business?
- Ontraport CRM & E-Mail
- Shopify & Seguno E-Mail
- PopupAlly Pro
- Deadline Funnel
- Wistia Video Platform
- AccessAlly Order Forms
E-mail marketing is key. I use Ontraport CRM (Customer Relationship Management). AccessAlly works with several tag-based CRMs. Your CRM and AccessAlly talk to each other back and forth. Tags let participants into the areas of your portal they’ve gotten permission for and keep them out where they don’t have access. I also use Shopify because I’ve built my e-commerce store there. Shopify makes it easy to sell.
Opt-in technology is key. I use Ontraport forms and PopupAlly Pro, created by the makers of AccessAlly, for beautifully styling opt-ins. I care a lot how materials look as a designer. My clients are visually savvy so making my courses beautiful as well as user-friendly is a high value to them and to me. It makes you want to spend time in the course portal and do the work for the results you’re after.
Zoom is necessary for live sessions.
I love Deadline Funnel, which is countdown timer software that’s smart and different. The creator, Jack Born, has fantastic tutorials and shares many course creators’ journeys so it’s a good resource.
What books or training programs have you found useful on your journey to a successful business owner that others might find valuable too?
I’ve taken countless programs. I’m in Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula. I took Marie Forleo’s B-School. Nathalie Lussier’s Launch It & Profit is a wonderfully helpful course that enabled me to write a previous course outline in one weekend where other attempts had fallen flat for me.
Do you have any big mistakes you’ve made along the way that you’d be willing to share?
Waiting too long to jump in! That’s the biggest mistake. Everyone tells you to just start and they’re right. Get clear on your topic and then invite interested people to help shape your course with you. It’ll save you a lot of time changing things down the road. And it’ll save you anxiety worrying when you’re not getting your course out there.
Please share some idea of revenue.
My course is in its first run so these numbers aren’t available yet.
In addition to revenue are there any numbers you would like to share?
When I first realized that I was onto something with selling on Poshmark, I casually posted a picture of real sold packages going out the door with the heading “I made $1,879.25 selling what I decluttered during Covid!” Much to my surprise, I got about 200 likes and comments quickly, much more than usual responses. I asked those 200 people if they’d want to learn more about how I did it and many said yes. That was great proof for me that people were interested in this topic. That was a significant part of what prompted me to say, wow, I should share how I did this, maybe in a course? I went on to sell $5,455.45 so it keeps growing.
What has creating your course done for you personally?Creating a course is a big undertaking and it will make you feel many things: smart, overwhelmed, organized, curious, capable… - Katie Colormaiden Click To Tweet
I absolutely love getting better at all the pieces it takes, from interesting people to signing them up to sharing helpful information and improving lives. It’s humbling. It absolutely makes you feel accomplished, which is a great feeling. It’s an amazing way to reach people far and wide. The skills you learn creating and running a course are very translatable into other areas of your life too. So learning to communicate better, dealing with finances and potential returns, paying attention to and learning from what your audience tells you, as a few examples.
Do you have a story of a transformation from any of your clients?
Yes. This happened in the decluttering section of my previous course and is part of what motivated me to create a course focusing fully on decluttering. My amazing client (Lisa DeLand) went through the decluttering process with my guidance and the group. She was dedicated. Her husband had died too young and she was having trouble knowing what to keep and what to hang onto. She was stuck in the toughest category of all, which is sentimental items. Through my course, she found peace and let go of what she needed to. She experienced that letting go of sentimental items doesn’t mean letting go of the people, places and experiences that matter to us. It just opens up space for you to live now and not dwell in the past. It’s one of the biggest and best experiences of my life, to know that I affected someone so worthy in such an important way. It’s what makes me want to keep making courses.
What advice do you have for people just starting out?
Try not to feel like you have to explore every possible option out there. If you find a platform that appeals to you, go with it. Build your course and learn what it has that you like and maybe what it’s missing so you can find it elsewhere next time if needed. So many people get hung up on technology and I understand. But it doesn’t move you forward; it keeps you stuck. Jump in!Also, don’t get stopped by the idea that other people are already offering your topic. You will do it in your own way. - Katie Colormaiden Click To Tweet
That’s really important. People buy from people they relate to and like so your people will want your version of whatever your special genius is.