Tori McElwain

Embark on a transformative journey with Audra and Tori as they unveil the secrets to converting any hobby into a viable business. Dive deep into market research, brand positioning, and the pivotal steps to make your passion pay. Regardless of your interest, this episode offers a universal blueprint to chart a new course in your career. Tune in for game-changing advice.

Tori McElwain

About the Guest

Tori McElwain is a quilt designer and mentor, with a passion for helping others develop their skills and knowledge.


As a coach, author, and teacher she is dedicated to helping Quilters and Crafters design engaging and impactful workshops and courses.


15% off my book: Workshops Unleashed, currently on Presale. Coupon Code: messymiddle


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Audra Carpenter



Tori McElwain



CJ Carpenter



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Episode Transcript

*What follows is an AI-generated transcript may not be 100% accurate. 


[00:00:00] Audra: All right. Welcome back to another episode of The Mess in the Middle Today. My special guest is Tori, and we’re gonna get into her story a little bit and how she is showing up in the universe.

[00:00:13] She’s got a great little pivot going on, and for those of you that are in one industry, looking to step out into whatever’s next for you, this story will be great for you. So dig in and Tori, welcome to the show. Hi.

[00:00:28] Tori: Thank you. I’m excited to be here.

[00:00:31] Audra: good. So let’s take a few minutes and catch people up on who you are and how you’re showing up.

[00:00:36] Tori: Sure. currently I am a quilt pattern designer and a course designer. so this all started way back, 10 years ago really, when my husband decided he wanted to join the Army two weeks after we got married. Oh my goodness. Okay. So I had this plan for my life, and it wasn’t like a detailed plan, it was just I was going to go to college, I was gonna graduate, I was gonna be a teacher.

[00:01:01] And marriage was probably somewhere in there. but it ended up coming a little earlier than I anticipated. But I had this plan of graduating college. I was in my last year of college and I was going to be a teacher. And then he comes to me two weeks after we got married and says I wanna join the military.

[00:01:14] And my entire life got flipped upside down ’cause I can’t get certified where I was without having two more or three more years worth of, education and all that. So I had to figure out a way to create a business around this. In a way, nomadic lifestyle where we’re constantly moving due to training, due to, assignments and things like that.

[00:01:36] So I dug into my skills and what did I know [00:01:40] that I could turn into a business? And one of the hobbies I had was quilting and the other one was baking. I tried both and quilting was coming out pretty well. but baking, I tried cupcakes and they tasted really good, but they did not look good.

[00:01:56] So I stuck with, okay, I cut that out. stuck with quilting. I started selling, quilts. So baby blankets, quilted objects such as, they have little tag blankets. I was around the time of my life where a lot of my friends were having babies. So that was my main focus was baby blankets and memory quilts.

[00:02:13] Okay. And then I decided that, I wish the point where the demand, I couldn’t keep up with the demand. I couldn’t keep up with that. So I pivoted to making quilts, to making pattern designs and selling the design, the patterns. Okay, nice. And teaching, so teaching those patterns, teaching how to, quilt the basics and, workshops.

[00:02:36] So I traveled around the country teaching at different quilt guilds. I had virtual classes every month. I taught locally at my local shop. I also did. Long arm quilting, which if you’ve never heard of a long arm uhhuh machine, it’s a 12 foot long table with a gigantic sewing machine on it, and it quilts the three layers in a quilt together.

[00:02:55] So it’s the top stitching that you see that kind of combines all the layers. So I learned how to do that so I could do all parts of quilting, and it was really fun, but I found myself in a complete creative burnout. Yeah, I bet. I bet. So one thing I wanted to do was allow my hobby to stay my hobby, but still be in the quilting industry.

[00:03:17] And while I was teaching traveling, [00:03:20] I’m working with all these teachers. This is my, my, most recent pivot is I realized there was a gap between I. Pattern designers and those amazing creatives that are creating these amazing textile art and those who wanted to teach it and actually teaching it in an efficient way, to get their point across.

[00:03:39] ’cause with, workshops and things, you have a time limit. Yeah. So you really need to be able to come across efficiently, be able to run a classroom, be able to run a training, be able to present the material in a formatted way. And really be able to teach. So I pivoted to teaching the teacher, and that’s my latest pivot right now.

[00:03:57] I have a, the Quilt Patch Course Academy, which we’ve had two successful launches. And I am writing a book right now called Workshops Unleashed so that I can reach even a wider audience. And, and then I’ve. Opened up a membership, which we’re going through like the beta version and working on the framework that I built for my own system.

[00:04:18] And it’s working out really well so far, and they’re, the members inside are loving it. We have seven people right now and, I’m getting great feedback. So that’s awesome. Where

[00:04:26] Audra: I’m at right now. That’s great. What a great story. So there’s lots of things I wanna dig into there. a couple of the things that you said, I think other people can really grab a hold of this is you started hitting a point of creative burnout.

[00:04:41] And I think as a small business owner, we typically get into either solve a problem for something that we couldn’t find a solution for, or I. We want to go the hobby route and something that we’re really passionate about, and that creative side of it sometimes gets, smothered by [00:05:00] the technical science side of a business.

[00:05:03] And typically you get burnt out before you recognize that, hey, this is stifling the whole point of why I started to do this. So it’s good that you were able to recognize it before you completely blew up your business. ’cause a lot of people don’t catch it in time. What was it that was happening for you at that place where you were just like, something’s gotta give here and I’ve gotta reassess where I’m going.

[00:05:27] Tori: I was pregnant. I was having my second child. And we were moving two months after her due date. Oh my goodness. And I was, I didn’t wanna create, I Didn’t wanna create another pattern. I didn’t want to create another workshop. I didn’t wanna even teach and finish the, the block of the month that we were working on at the moment, which is we do just a 12 inch square, which was a different little design every, every month until you have a whole quilt.

[00:05:50] That was a block of the month. Okay. So it was a small,project and every month, and I just, I couldn’t. It was very difficult for me to get the passion back to even complete those small projects, and I realized that I couldn’t do this long term.

[00:06:03] Audra: Okay. That’s good. just being conscious, being pregnant, taxes your body to begin with, and especially if it’s number two.

[00:06:10] ’cause you still gotta work with number one. Yeah. And then throw a move in there, A military move. that’s a lot. That’s good. where did it come back where you said, okay, I’m working through this burnout. I’m getting things back in check.

[00:06:24] Now I wanna pursue X. what was that transition for you?

[00:06:28] Tori: I’ve always taught. I was I was always teaching from as a small child and I went to school. You heard to be a teacher. And I actually did get certified in our first permanent duty station. We were there for almost [00:06:40] four years.

[00:06:40] So I had the chance to earn a master’s degree in curriculum and instruction with a. Texas teacher certification ’cause we were nice stationed in Texas. So I was in the school system for three years, once as a, the first year as a full-time aide, and then two years as a kindergarten teacher. And that was my first experience with burnout was after that second year of teaching kindergarten.

[00:07:01] And it actually coincided, I know I coincided with the birth of my first kid, so we had planned his birth because as a teacher you typically. You don’t get a lot of time off. So we planned it for the summer and we were lucky enough to hit our window. And he was born a week after my second school year ended.

[00:07:18] perfect timing. And then we moved three months later, So teaching has always been there. Yeah. And then when, of course I started, with the quilting, I started first one-on-one, and then I started workshops because I saw more and more people asking me about it.

[00:07:30] So I was like, Hey, okay, come on, let’s teach. this is what I love to do. Let’s do it. And I had a lot of fun still teaching, but not necessarily creating the patterns. Okay. and the whole quilting part of it. But I was really enjoying the business part, studying the numbers, learning about marketing, email marketing, like just figuring out how to write.

[00:07:50] ’cause I’ve never been a writer. I have dyslexia, so it’s really difficult for me, to write. And the more I learn, the easier it’s becoming. it’s a really fun, especially with marketing. I encourage you to talk, to write the way you speak. So that’s been really encouraging. So I’m like, okay, I can do that.

[00:08:06] so I dive more into that side of it, and especially when I couldn’t quilt, like I couldn’t touch fabric. It was so bad. Like I, I still have trouble like getting back to it. Even now. But I still enjoy it and [00:08:20] I’m keeping it as a hobby now and really focusing more on the course design and the more I get into it.

[00:08:26] Audra: a lot of us will run into that place of pivot where the creative side, like we had just said, turns into more of a job and it just sucks a joy out of why you were doing it to begin with. And you can go one of two ways you go where you’ve got so much, burnout or P T S D from.

[00:08:46] Too much that you completely walk away from it. And some people have closed businesses because of it, because they can’t figure out how to reconnect to the business. I’ll run into that often with people that have been doing the same thing for 10 years. I ran into that with my agency. C I started in 09, probably around 15-17, 2017.

[00:09:09] I started feeling the same way. I am. Like I just, I can’t build another website or I can’t do, another, strategy around this. It was just like, it was so rinse and repeat and so repetitive that I was losing interest in it. And, It was hard for me to get excited about what I was doing, and so I did things a little bit differently.

[00:09:29] I started volunteering. I thought, I need to get outta myself for a little while because I am too much in here and let me see if I can reconnect to this. And there’s a volunteer organization I’ve brought up numerous times across the country called They’re funded by the small business administration.

[00:09:49] There’s probably 14, 16,000 volunteers across the country, and they help people through different stages of business. So we’re all volunteers. There’s no money involved. [00:10:00] It’s just to go and get some resources from some people that have been there. And so I started volunteering here locally and it, it gave me a couple different things.

[00:10:09] One, I walked away with it saying, okay, business with startups hasn’t changed that much in 10 years. Because I was working with more advanced companies. Companies that you know, are maybe at 10 million trying to get to 20 million, or they’re kicked off. They just need some help with systems or find new revenue.

[00:10:27] So it was more advanced companies. I hadn’t worked with startups in a long time, and so it was really nice to get back to them. it’s easier today than it’s ever been in the history of, entrepreneurship to launch a business today, but there’s still a lot of, fundamental pieces missing where people are doing it out of order.

[00:10:46] So I walked away with that of, okay, you know what? I can really help this market and there’s things about it that I love and there’s things that I don’t do anymore. I had to make that pivot. It can’t just be about money, especially when you’ve been doing somewhere, I’m in year 15 now, going into year 15.

[00:11:06] I. I needed to make it pivot because it was becoming too, just to the point of avoiding it or not wanting to look at it, or, I can’t listen to another podcast, I can’t watch another video. I can’t, build another funnel. and so pivoting and focusing on things that I really like doing, which, this podcast, building out the marketplace that I’m working on now, taking my services and pivoting the agency model into more of a done with you instead of a done [00:11:40] for you.

[00:11:41] And, tying in AI has been huge of reigniting things to be excited about. So a hundred percent. Get that. Okay. where are you headed now? So I’m glad that you were able to hold on to the teaching thing as part of who you are as a human and how you’re going to serve and show up on the planet. So that’s super cool.

[00:12:03] No matter what industry you’re in, you will probably find, say you pivoted into sewing or you pivoted into something else, teaching will probably be a fundamental of that. yeah, I’ll always pull back to teaching. Yeah. So what does tomorrow look like for you? Tomorrow

[00:12:21] Tori: is a little hazy.

[00:12:23] Okay. In the next couple years, my husband will be exiting the military. So it always fills up in the air when a change is coming, I, it’s hard to plan in advance, but the next couple years I am. Building up my audience, I am hoping to have a larger reach for the Quilt Patch Course Academy.

[00:12:47] like I said, we’ve had two successful launches and we’ve had four dedicated students for each one, so it’s not a huge launch, but it is, you’re proving

[00:12:54] Audra: out the model. Yeah. Yeah. That’s awesome.

[00:12:57] Tori: And even the name, because the name was creatives course, Design. The first time I did it, I was like, this isn’t landing.

[00:13:05] I’m taking those students who they wanted more. So that’s where that membership is coming into play. The digital marketing part, ’cause a lot of them were really good with in-person marketing. They know to go to shows, they know how to, go to local shops and, do [00:13:20] more local marketing for themselves or even reaching out to, distributors and things like that.

[00:13:24] But what they didn’t know how to do was to enter the social media realm. And that’s where I was really studying and really getting into the last two years. So I was like, Hey, I can help you. We can set up the basics, we can set up. again, I love planning. So one thing that I help create us with is strategy.

[00:13:42] Good. So I’m trying to, at this point, use that strength of strategy and planning to help create as an. It out right now and I’ve got a framework and so far it’s working. but we haven’t gone completely yet, so we’re seeing, How it’s working so far. So far, it’s going well and, helping them with their strategy on digital marketing and getting their courses out there so they can get more students into their workshops or into their offers.

[00:14:09] And we have,a quilt shop owner who’s a personal friend who’s where I learned how to, to long arm and actually, Quilt at her store. Nice. And we have long-arm quilters, we have pattern designers, we have all these different industry specialists, and then we also have an astrologer and a paper crafts person.

[00:14:26] Nice. So I have a couple different people in here going through it, and it’s been really interesting to see. How my framework that worked for me and a couple others. ’cause like you mentioned, volunteering. I did, that’s how I started with the digital marketing was just helping, friends. And we came up with an accountability group and I was coaching them and helping them with strategy.

[00:14:45] I didn’t realize what I was doing like at the time and later I stepped back and I’m like, okay, what can I do to help my. People in my course like move forward with their workshops. And then I realized it was strategy because so many creatives are, [00:15:00] they have so many ideas, Not focused. And they’re not, they don’t have a plan.

[00:15:03] They just like they need a plan out their Exactly. Yeah. And so that’s one of my strengths. So that’s something I’ve been trying to use, I’m really provide for them, is using my strength and strategy. And, build a community for all of us to be together. That’s good. To network.

[00:15:18] Audra: Yeah. you’ve been doing this for a long time, so it may not be a fair question, but do you find that your sell is a little bit easier because you’re in a hobby industry?

[00:15:30] Tori: I don’t, no. no. Okay. Because the hobby industry is seen as extra might not be the right word, but because it’s not, A necessity. Exactly. A necessity. So it’s depends on who you’re talking to. If they see creativity as an essential part of being human, as I believe. Okay. Creativity is an essential part of being human.

[00:15:53] And one way that, my industry’s creative is quilting. It’s creating with fabric. And, not a lot, not everyone sees it that way and. Sometimes offering the price point that I have is a struggle ’cause like why would I pay that much to do this hobby?

[00:16:10] Audra: So it’s what’s your price point?

[00:16:12] Tori: so my membership is gonna start at $47 a month.

[00:16:17] Okay. That’s very affordable. Yeah. Yeah. And then, the course patch, the Quilt Patch Course Academy is, 4 97. Okay. And we’re in it for almost three months.

[00:16:26] Audra: Okay. And that’s to teach them how to sell their product, their workshop, their community.

[00:16:32] Tori: So we come up with a workshop that is both virtual in person and to present at guilds.

[00:16:38] So it’s taking this same topic and [00:16:40] being able to put it in four different formats, essentially, so that they can present it whichever way they feel

[00:16:45] Audra: more comfortable. Nice. That’s great. I think that’s,is that community a decent size?

[00:16:52] Tori: It is. Yeah. The quilting community is, it’s growing and I know a lot of people don’t hear too much about it.

[00:16:57] but it, I don’t wanna mess up the figure, but I think last figure I heard was it was growing into a $2 billion industry. Nice. In 2022. I don’t know about 2023 yet. Okay. but that’s what they predicted. Not predictive, but that’s what they said at the beginning of this year, around January.

[00:17:14] They were saying that was a 20, a $2 billion industry and it’s growing. and you can hear just me, explaining some kind of people we have in our group, we have a lot of different facets to quilting. We’ve got like the art of the stitching and we’ve got, fabric design, we’ve got piecing and pattern design.

[00:17:27] We’ve got Okay. quilt shops and retail side of it. so there’s a lot of different facets. And then there’s me where I’m teaching teachers.

[00:17:36] Audra: That’s awesome. you guys listening to this, listen to what she’s saying. if the industry is not for you, that’s fine, but it’s very important to look at, she’s in a hobby space.

[00:17:47] She has found that there are a lot of moving parts, which there’s going to be in any industry that you want to go into. If the hobby place or the creative side of it is where you want to pursue, take a look at where you can fill in to turn that into a viable business for you. Is it through, teaching teachers?

[00:18:08] Is it through group coaching? Is it through product development and helping people explore their creativity? What is that special piece that you’ve got that you can deliver out there? I [00:18:20] think this is one of the spaces that. AI may not disrupt yet because I think another big component of the niche that you’re in is community and the people connecting to each other.

[00:18:33] I don’t have a lot of experience in it, but my grandmother used to knit and make quilts like nobody’s business. I think I’ve got, Too many of them between pot holders and slippers and quilts, everything else as she used to knit for us. I mean it was definitely something for her generation.

[00:18:51] And then, my mom’s done some of it, but not so much. My sister and I. but it’s good that you’re holding onto that and that there is a community. people I think don’t spend enough time exploring what could actually be a viable business. You don’t have to have a, massive like masterclass type platform to be able to make a large impact in the industry.

[00:19:18] Yeah, I agree. Completely agree. That’s awesome.

[00:19:21] Tori: So what is And my pivots, I’ve even niched further. Yeah. Yeah. As I’ve gone.

[00:19:26] Audra: Yeah. Now, do you feel like you’ve made those decisions based on what you needed or what your audience needed? I

[00:19:34] Tori: tried to do it for both. Okay. so as you heard, like I, my big pivots came with a big life change.

[00:19:40] so that was one thing. And then, I also look to solve a problem. I want to be useful, I want to be helpful. And I see, okay, young moms staying at home that have these hobbies and these skills and this craftsmanship. And they do it because they need an outlet. But they could turn it into something more if they wanted to.

[00:19:58] And then I also [00:20:00] see on the other side, Women like my mom who’s facing retirement. she’s two years from retirement and she is an award-winning longarm quilter, which is why I know so much about Longarm quilting. definitely look up a picture of the longarm, if you still dunno what we’re talking about.

[00:20:13] But it’s a gigantic machine and she. Free motion quilt. She guides it by hand and she does this amazing work and she’s facing retirement with no savings or very little savings. Yeah. And she’s looking to see how she can grow that into a business. So I’ve been pulling her along with me Good. As one of people testing out my framework.

[00:20:31] and she’s been finding a lot of success with her workshops. And she was one of those creatives that I was describing where she can do the thing and she can show you how she does the thing, but she was having trouble.

[00:20:41] Audra: How do I package

[00:20:42] Tori: that up? Yeah, exactly. so she was a great case study for me.

[00:20:47] Audra: that’s how most of the small businesses start. We find a little bit of a need. We dig into it, we learn a little bit more about it, we help a few other people, and then we realize, wait a second, this is actually a little bit bigger than what I anticipated it could have been.

[00:21:03] Yeah. Alright, so let’s talk about some of the challenges that will come up in this pivot. I know it’s not always been easy, right? No. it just happened, you just woke up, built a membership, you’re on your way.

[00:21:17] Tori: Ideally that would, that’s what would’ve happened. each time I pivoted, it’s been a changing audience.

[00:21:22] It. Okay. So the first time, when you’re selling quilts, you are selling to a completely different audience than selling patterns for quilts. Okay? So that was completely different. And this one where I had a audience of quilt makers, and now I’m pivoting to [00:21:40] quilt teachers. So they’re not looking for patterns, they’re not looking, some might be to teach, right?

[00:21:46] But for the most part, they’re. Business owners themselves, or at least it’s a side hustle and they’re business specific. So they’re looking to, and this is where I’m trying to pinpoint how to position my offer and my course and my book and in fact is try to figure out, What exactly they’re looking for.

[00:22:06] I know they’re looking for an investment for their business. They wanna invest in what they’ve got, which is time. They might not have a lot of money, but they do typically have some time. Okay. And, They’re usually still working fully in their business by themselves. They’re solopreneurs or they have a virtual assistant, and I wanna be able to give them a guide that they can get through quickly and efficiently and Come out with, a ready-made product that they can get on the market quickly. Good. Or service, I should

[00:22:33] Audra: say? Not product, but service.

[00:22:35] Tori: Yeah. Or product. If it’s prerecorded, could be a product. Yeah.

[00:22:39] Audra: Okay. That’s, that is awesome. one of the big challenges small businesses have is first finding that initial audience.

[00:22:47] How did you go about doing some research to find this new group of people that you were talking about?

[00:22:54] Tori: So I was in some of the groups already. So one of, okay, a big one is a Facebook group. There’s a particular Facebook group for quilt pattern designers. So that was one where I would comb through it and I’m like, what questions are they asking about courses and webinars and what are they looking for in this and that.

[00:23:09] And then, I also threw spaghetti at the wall on Instagram and was sharing tips and tricks and tutorial. Not tutorials exactly, but different ways to format Oh, change or something. I started, yeah, I [00:23:20] started blog writing and then sharing that and seeing with my audience what was sticking ’cause as a pattern designer and

[00:23:26] collaborating with others. I had some in my audience already, as more support than anything. I had a couple of different, Accountability groups. So I dived into that after I realized that this might be something I could do on my own as a business, as a different pivot and started talking to them, Hey, this is where I’m looking.

[00:23:44] I’m not trying to recruit you, but what are your biggest struggles when it comes to teaching your patterns? ’cause everyone in. One particular accountability group wanted to teach their patterns. Okay. So that was a great source of just asking them questions and, but I really tried to approach it as, I’m just looking for feedback and I’m not trying to sell to you.

[00:24:03] I’m just like Trying to figure this out. And they were super helpful. So all I really researched, so I joke that my master’s degree is, a degree is a degree really, it’s like a degree in research, Master’s. Yeah. Yeah. So you pretty much learned how to research. So I pulled those skills out from that time in my life and I dived into market research and just got in there and tried to figure it out along the way.

[00:24:25] And then again, just trying, just throwing stuff out there. Is this what you need? Is that what you need? I did throw out a weekend workshop, Three day workshop for, I think it was low price one. It was like, I think it was 47. I tend to go around 47. Yep. Yeah, four seven for three days. We’re going to map out your course and it was a kind of an overview of the framework that I used for the Quil Patch Course Academy.

[00:24:46] So it wasn’t detailed, but it would’ve gave them a course that they could have then built out more detailed on their own, and nobody signed up. Okay. I’m like, okay, so this isn’t working. Okay, pivot. Now we’re gonna look at, would you like to teach your pattern? So [00:25:00] let’s look at that. And that got a lot of feedback, so I made a blog post on it and that got some views and I’m like, okay.

[00:25:05] Okay, so we’re going in the right direction here. I’m to something. Yeah. Yeah. And then I noticed that description was a big thing, like coming up with a description. So I made a blog post about that, and that’s being included in a free guide that I created. And then that just came out last week, and my audience has, quadrupled good in this last week.

[00:25:23] After sharing that, I’ve taken all that research, all the questions, surveys, spaghetti throwing, and I created it into something, a little guide or it’s a 35 page guide. It answers the top 10 questions that I found. that you face when approaching, creating your workshop for the first time. So a little bit marketing, a little bit description, a little bit, designing and like surveys, feedback, that kind of thing.

[00:25:46] And that has brought in a really engaged audience just in the last week. ’cause I’ve sent out several emails about, following up with them and I’ve only had two unsubscribe and I’m like, this is great. I am finally. I think I got

[00:25:58] Audra: it. You’re on a, on the right path. Yeah, and that’s awesome.

[00:26:02] There’s lots of great things that you just talked about there. One of the biggest you said is research. And how I say that is you get better at asking questions. The more questions you can ask. I think we sit in a kind of a silo of we need to build this product and this is what we’re gonna do and this is the market we’re gonna deliver to, and we don’t really.

[00:26:25] Get that feedback and we don’t ask questions, we just build it. and it takes longer to do that. So if you build a little bit, ask some questions, get some feedback, tweak it a little bit more, tweak it a little bit more, then you get to this place where you’re [00:26:40] at where, okay, I’m saying the right thing, I got the right offering, and the right people are hearing me.

[00:26:47] And that is the trifecta of what we are all looking for when we start, especially with something new, when we’re not paying attention to those and we’re just throwing up a product on different markets hoping it’s somebody’s gonna ticket. It’s such a longer process and a lot of people don’t ever end up getting success.

[00:27:06] today there’s too much noise. It’s so loud out there and so competitive. Like I said, 10 minutes ago, you can launch a business overnight today, but finding that audience, getting the right message in front of the right people with the right offer, I. Like you said, I had it, it’s $47. Who wouldn’t wanna pay for a three day workshop?

[00:27:27] That’s perfect. Doesn’t mean that anybody’s gonna take it. So good for you for sticking in there. And is it always easy, do you always approach things as this is research or do you, like some of the rest of us come back and say, This sucks. I don’t know what I’m doing. No. I have

[00:27:47] Tori: all the moments like that all the time.

[00:27:49] I’m like my, it is just like right now I feel like I shared earlier, I think I’ve got it, but then I said I don’t know if I have it because I really don’t. It’s again, spaghetti at the wall. I think one phrase I heard, I’m trying to remember who said it. I think it might have been pink pinky coal, I’m not sure.

[00:28:05] But, it was create publicly. And then you’ll know if you’re creating an offer that’s sticking. so that was one of my like spaghetti at the wall, references was creating publicly. And and that was really valuable ’cause then I could see what [00:28:20] was working. And again, I’d step back and be like,this isn’t going the way I thought it was gonna go.

[00:28:25] Like the workshop, the weekend workshop, I really thought that I had something great there and it would lead into my full quilt Patch Course Academy. And it was like, Nope. I don’t know

[00:28:35] if

[00:28:35] Audra: it was or what, but it could just be timing too. Yeah. as you build your audience and more people, come into your universe, are you familiar with what’s called a value ladder?

[00:28:45] Tori: like it sounds familiar and I think I understand the concept you’re getting at, but No, I don’t think

[00:28:49] Audra: so. Okay. so a lot of times what happens is we launch a business and it may be at a higher price point, but nobody knows who we are yet. So it’s very tough for them to come straight in at that price because you’ve not done any nurturing.

[00:29:05] They’ve not spent any time getting warmed up before they’re ready to buy from you. I think Russell Brunson maybe, early back from ClickFunnels came out with this value ladder where the first interaction, you start warming them up with free stuff, but then the first one is a very low ticket.

[00:29:23] And I think when he came out, his first thing was like $7. And then that, then you nurture them more with email, and then the next thing is 37 to $47 and then you can, you work your way up through something that’s more expensive, but it’s because you’ve earned it and you’ve added value to them along the way, which makes it worthwhile to be able to say, Hey, now I have a $500 product.

[00:29:49] Are you interested? If I’ve done my work right and I’m adding value to you every step of your process through my, workflow or my funnel or my [00:30:00] process, then you should be ready for it. So the workshop may have just been too big at that time, and they needed to be nurtured a little bit more to come into that system for you.

[00:30:13] Tori: And I think that’s why not. I think, I know. That’s why I started the free guide. good. ’cause yeah, that’s where the idea came from. ’cause I haven’t heard of it as a ladder, but I like that image better ’cause it’s going up rather than the funnels. What I keep hearing is that you’re getting a lot of people through the top and then you’re getting a few trickle at the bottom with a higher price point and they’re trickling down.

[00:30:32] But I like the idea of a ladder butter.

[00:30:35] Audra: it just nurtures them through. the funnels, the why did the net is because you may attract a lot of people that aren’t your buyers. So they hear your message. They may wanna come in and find out more about you, but they don’t end up like the pivot that you’ve made.

[00:30:51] Now to teach teachers, I may be interested in quilt, so I come in at the top of your funnel, but as you drip content on me, I don’t wanna be a teacher, so I fall out. And that’s why you end up with just, the specific few at the very bottom. So the way that funnel works is the stop people at the top is cold traffic, meaning, I don’t know about you, I dunno about your brand.

[00:31:14] And then warm traffic is, I’m starting to learn about you and I have interest in whatever your widget is. And then hot traffic is, I’ve been nurtured. I know who you are, I know what you sell, and I’m looking for your solution, and then they’ll buy from you. So just a little bit different reference there.

[00:31:31] But the, the opt-ins still work really well now. It’s not as easy as it used to be, and that’s why it’s so important that opt-in is [00:31:40] valuable. and the way that you bring them into the system is how do you communicate with them in the next steps? do you read books or,

[00:31:50] Tori: yeah, I try to. Okay.

[00:31:52] And I got two littles, but I try to,

[00:31:54] Audra: Russell Brunson from ClickFunnels came out with his third book and his trilogy, it was called Traffic Secrets. Okay. I would definitely grab that. Even if you only grab the P D F, because the traffic is really the main thing. The widget that you’re trying to sell is irrelevant.

[00:32:13] I hate to say it that way, but without the traffic and the community. People engaged that are willing to buy. It doesn’t matter what you’re selling, it’s true because it’s not gonna turn into a viable business, otherwise you have a hobby, right? there’s also a big difference in building an audience and building a community.

[00:32:36] So an audience would be more people that are cheering you on, your mom, your friends, your family, people that are supporting you, peers. Supporting your cause, cheering, always liking your content. Always this, but they’re not your buyers. The community is the people that are learning from you, engaging with your content, and are buyers or prospective buyers.

[00:33:00] And a lot of people at the beginning of that journey, Don’t realize that is typically a transition that you’re gonna need to make. First you’re nobody. Then you know that you are getting content. If you’re doing this all organically, then you’re getting content out there and people are starting to recognize, oh, she’s the gal that does this, or he’s the guy that does this,[00:33:20] and they like your content and support you.

[00:33:23] You gotta keep going and push through and get a little bit more specific. So out of that a thousand people that are listening, the 10 that are actually willing to buy from you here, that you’ve got a message specifically for them. Then they go into that wonderful place where you can, now we’re in a community, you and I can talk about the things we wanna talk about, and that’s when you really start getting some momentum.

[00:33:49] Tori: As you’re talking. I’m imagining how, my initial workshops went and one of the things I had was a, I created a, another guide. It was a quilting terms. ’cause every niche has its own work language. Yeah. and it brought in a lot of people.

[00:34:06] it was a really successful, Lead magnet. Lead magnet. Exactly. and those that trickled down were perfectly positioned to go into my coaching level workshops. Yeah. So as you’re talking, I remember that happening organically. I remember that happening without me trying a, I shouldn’t say too much, I didn’t put a lot of work into it, but it, without me doing it on purpose, So as you’re talking now, I’m imagining, okay, who do I have now that’s fitting into that community? Who do I have that is just audience, who’s community and yeah. So I’m thinking about ways to nurture them. I’m just following my thought process. So that was, thank you for that.

[00:34:42] Audra: No, that’s good.

[00:34:43] That’s, that’s why we kind of wanna talk through this. ’cause typically people don’t know. I don’t know what I don’t know, so I don’t know what to expect. we’ll talk a lot about data, especially at the level that I’m at. It’s all math. you’re at the beginning, so it’s [00:35:00] creative and building feelings and emotions and connecting and all that kind of good stuff.

[00:35:05] But once you get your system worked out, you know your product’s working, then it becomes math. And it’s, am I hitting the right audience with the right message? Am I running ads? Are my ads converting? are my emails getting opened or what are my subject lines? all the data that goes into it.

[00:35:24] A lot of business owners don’t dig in. There, did that work? How much money do I have in the bank? can we add more products to the list? But I have actually reached out and set up a few podcasts where I’m gonna, interview data people. And the reason for that is people need to know what is a good opt-in, what is a good email conversion?

[00:35:44] what does it mean when it says 12 people opened and only one unsubscribed? yes, we can do the math and tell you, yeah, it was a 10 per seven, 8%, whatever. But really looking at it, saying, how do I build on top of my last email? what am I supposed to be looking at to see why it’s working or why it’s not working?

[00:36:05] especially with when it comes to email, because the more you can get them to open it, the more you can communicate, the stronger our relationship is gonna be become. And you may not be ready to buy now, but when you are, you’re gonna think of me. Because I’ve given, and I’ve given, and when you’re ready to make a purchase, typically I will be the one that’s built up some goodwill with you.

[00:36:29] And that whole law of reciprocity kicks in and, Bob’s your uncle and we’re going shopping.

[00:36:35] Tori: I love data. I’m gonna look forward to that.

[00:36:38] Audra: Yeah, so I’ve got my first [00:36:40] guy starting tomorrow. He actually owns a da data company, so that’ll be super, super good. But I’ve got a few others that we will interview, one on social media, one on website traffic, one on emails and funnels, and we’ll just take each one of the main stuff on and just simple, I, I’m not looking for people to become data scientists, but you’ve done so much organic.

[00:37:02] Work to get people in there in your list or on your social media or in your community. Why would you not be paying attention to the data? To get better conversions? To serve them better?

[00:37:15] Tori: And that’s one thing I’ve been pointing out with my membership, the seven that we’ve got through there.

[00:37:19] we talked about metrics last time and I’m like, just keep an eye on your metrics. And there’s four things. Just check your subscriber rate, see the click through. Are they going through it? Are they, just something basic. And it’s amazing to see when I point out how they can use it, how it clicks.

[00:37:33] this is how you use it, so this is what it’s for. This is what you’re looking at and this is how you use it. And they’re like, oh. one of my favorite things was figuring out where my audience was on what social media platform. Okay. So I tried to find the quilters, like I was trying to find the quilters.

[00:37:47] So I was, I signed up for every social media platform and shared for three months. That was my goal, three months to find the quilters. And if you’re wondering, all the quilters that I found are on Instagram and Pinterest.

[00:38:01] Audra: Yeah, that makes sense because it’s very visual. Yeah, exactly. That makes sense. And then there’s

[00:38:05] Tori: a.

[00:38:06] Audra: Scroll ing, it’s scroll. Okay. Okay. Are you using TikTok?

[00:38:11] Tori: I did with my patterns, creating stuff, and that was really fun. And now with the course design, I’m like, what do I put out there? So that’s one for the back burner. Focusing more on Instagram right

[00:38:19] Audra: now. yeah. [00:38:20] Especially if you can get the opt-ins for the membership.

[00:38:23] Yeah. That’s a better route to go. That’s awesome. What a great story. Again, I think it, the, or the industry’s irrelevant. it’s good that you find something that you love doing where you can add value, but just the openness that you have, It’s refreshing. thank you. a lot of people that are going through this messy middle.

[00:38:46] there’s two approaches we could take to it. One, it’s overwhelming and I’m getting kicked down every single day and getting beat up versus I just need to do more research and find out what’s working and put it out and tweak it and put it out and tweak it. So what a great approach.

[00:39:04] So if you’re listening to this and you’re stuck, maybe it’s just reframing the direction on how you’re looking at your day-to-day and how you’re running your business, because it makes all the difference. It’s not that Tori is in that different place than many of the people that I talk to. I think it’s perspective and really recognizing.

[00:39:25] I’m new and I’m working it out as I go, and my goal is to serve and add value to people’s lives.

[00:39:33] Tori: And one thing I found to add on to what you just said was that a lot of, business owners, at least that I’ve worked with over the past, year, they have this big picture. And they’re so focused on the big picture that they don’t see what is the next step.

[00:39:48] So all you really gotta do is focus on where do you wanna go, but what’s the first, next step to figure it out? You don’t have to know where you’re going yet all the way. What’s [00:40:00] the first, next step? And get there and then figure out the next step.

[00:40:05] Audra: That’s good. That’s very great advice. So any last words you would leave our community with

[00:40:12] that kind of helps them keep pushing through. Maybe they’re struggling with figuring out what you just shared in their business. Take a break. Take a break. Okay.

[00:40:24] Tori: I would take a break. that’s been so valuable for me. Even if it’s a weekend break, turn everything off. Focus on something that you enjoy doing.

[00:40:34] for me it’s going outside. I work in a basement for the most part, so sometimes I just need to go outside for a weekend, turn off all devices, and focus on my family, and something that I enjoy doing. Turn my brain off and come back and try again.

[00:40:52] Audra: Good. Good. That’s awesome. we’ll wrap up there. I can’t add anything to that.

[00:40:58] If things get to be too much, take a break. Tori, thank you so much for being here. I’ve really enjoyed this.

[00:41:03] Tori: Thank you. And thank you for your advice. That was very

[00:41:05] Audra: helpful. good. All right guys. Until next time, keep moving through the middle.


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