OMG we’ve just gone over the $100k mark‘ I shouted to anyone who would listen in the foyer of the hotel I was in.
I was at a marketing event in London a few days after I had just launched my ’Social Networking Academy’ and had been watching the sales climb during the week.
By the time the launch ended, I had generated $117,000 in 7 days.
I couldn’t believe it. All the doubts I had about myself and this business model melted away as I realized all the hard work and months of frustration and fear were worth it. It worked.
Four years later I topped $600k in course launches and a year after that $1million in physical product sales.
All of that from $1000, 3 suitcases and a 4 year old under my arm!
How it all Began
Ok it wasn’t that bad, I don’t have a super dramatic rags to riches story, but it all started when my partner & I decided we wanted to escape the drudgery of the UK and start a new life traveling the world.
We had a good friend who seemed to be living the life we wanted, doing this thing called ‘Internet Marketing’ and we wanted in.
Ever the risk takers, we sold everything we owned in the house we were renting at the time, packed up 3 suitcases, and with the $1000 we’d made from selling our worldly goods and our 4 year old under our arm, jumped on a plane to housesit for our IM friend in Cyprus.
We really had no idea what we were doing or were going to do and had limited savings and a couple of credit cards, which we calculated might get us through 3 or 4 months without any income.
Nothing like burning your boats and giving yourself a deadline to encourage some massive action taking!
The Road to Millions!
I had joined a program called ‘Chris Mentor Me’ shortly before we left created by the lovely Chris Farrell, and was learning how to build an ‘optin’ page and start generating email addresses. Plus I was doing some webinar training with the super funny Steven Essa (where are you now Steve?) and had made some great friends along the way all on their own journeys towards making money online.
My challenge at the time however was that I really didn’t know what niche I wanted to make money in!
I really had no concept that this was a business like any other and the internet was merely a tool to help you reach a much wider audience.
Back in 2010, all the online gurus were touting ‘make money fast’, ‘make a million with a click of a button’, ‘download this program and get rich quick’!
In my naivety I was convinced with my work ethic, I’d be a millionaire with a few months!
How wrong I was.
But rather than sit about and do nothing I just started experimenting with everything I was learning about.
I started a forum called ’The Entreprenette’ with a free training course called ‘Start Your Own Business in 21 Days‘ and built a list of 500 people (mainly from the Chris Mentor Me forum).
I created my first product showing people how to build a landing page without a website or domain (using Awebers built in short urls) which sold for $4. I made my first $27 online!
I played with webinars, blogs, article writing, JV (joint venture) giveaways, PLR (private label rights) products. Basically anything that looked like it might generate leads or income.
I was getting pretty frustrated when…
Facebook Fan Pages
In the August of that same year, sitting on our balcony in Cyprus, I logged on to a webinar with the lovely Chris & a guy who was selling Facebook landing pages.
Back then Facebook business pages were a much bigger deal than they are now and most businesses didn’t understand how they worked, and so this guy was touting a business model in which he would build you an optin page within a facebook page and you could start to generate leads from this super popular social network.
At the time I wasn’t a huge FB user and was intrigued by this potential business opportunity.
Over the following weeks I immersed myself in facebook business pages learning everything there was to know about how to grow a business using facebook.
I discovered some code on a blog that would help you build a landing page inside of a facebook page and paid a guy in the US $100 to develop it into an easy to use template and launched my first facebook fan page – Free Facebook Fan Pages.
Through Chris’s program I had learned how to create an email funnel and began uploading free videos onto Facebook teaching others how to use fan pages to generate leads.
These were the days when organic reach on facebook was huge and so I quickly built up a decent sized audience.
I also created an optin, using the templates that helped you build your own landing page as my giveaway and began to build my email list.
Sometime in October/November of that year I launched a video based course called 2000 fans in 27 Days for about $47. I honestly cannot remember the specific numbers but I think we sold around 300 copies which was handy as the credit card bills were starting to pile up.
My confidence in this as a business model was on the up and with some coaching from my good friend Chris Farrell I began work on a membership site.
By this time we were living in Australia in my partners folks basement, which when you have your own child is never ideal.
Even though my video course had sold it barely paid off the debts at the time and we were fast running out of cash.
My partner was working on his own projects but they were more long-term and weren’t generating any income so we were relying on this business working or we’d have to pack up our travel dreams, head back to the UK and get jobs.
I remember going for a walk in the local neighborhood and listening to Tony Robbins on my iPod, seriously contemplating giving up.
By the time I got home I was so fired up, I created, organized, and held a webinar called something like ‘The Three Steps to Success’. Hasten to add the whole thing was about tenacity and not giving up and it received such a positive response, I knew I had to keep going and make this dream a reality.
By the following April, I’d built a substantial email list, my membership site was ready and back in the UK in my Mum’s living room I launched The Social Networking Academy.
I made thousands of dollars of sales on the launch webinar and as I said at the start of the post generated a total of $117,000 in seven days. The rest they say is history. We haven’t looked back since.
How I Generated $117k in 7 Days
- I found a hungry niche. Every man and his dog wanted to know how to use FB to grow their business. I tapped into that niche and became the go-to person for total beginners.
- I offered a massive amount of value. I made videos, jumped on Skype calls, responded to emails, and went out of my way to help as many people as possible understand how to use Facebook for their business.
- I created a high-converting lead generator. My free fan page templates went like gangbusters. They only cost me $100 to set up, but meant that people had a very easy solution to the complex problem of adding code into their FB page (back in the day my friend, back in the day!). Within 6 – 8 months I built an email list of around 18,000 people.
- I put a lot of time and energy into ensuring The SNA would be a high-quality product that I could sell with energy, enthusiasm, and absolute conviction.
- I had a lot of help. From Chris’s program to chats on the phone with friends and colleagues to people helping me build pages and graphics etc, to working with some awesome people to actually build and sell the site, etc. Without all the help I had I probably wouldn’t be living the life I am now.
From Zero to Six to Seven Figures
After my initial success, I continued to sell The SNA as a monthly membership site for around 12 – 18 months and it was our main source of income for a while.
I then went on to create lots of singular social media courses, which whilst being hugely effective in generating leads and sales, were painful to maintain as the social media sites change their platforms like my daughter changes her mind.
I played with affiliate marketing and made a cool $65k in a few months. I did a bit of coaching and tried lots of different things still on a journey to find the one thing I wanted to hang my hat on.
Brand wise I went from Free Fan Page Templates to The Social Networking Academy to Online Marketing Addicts to Jo Barnes Online.
I’d figured out the business model, but as of yet hadn’t worked out what I wanted my business to be!
In 2014/2015 a mentor of mine convinced me to start an Amazon business and in my usual method of teaching as I learn, I sold limited access to an ‘over the shoulder’ course on building a business on Amazon.
My partner’s business venture hadn’t worked so he stepped in to help with getting the Amazon business off the ground and I focused on the training.
It grew so fast that within a year, we had generated 7 figures in Amazon and I’d sold 100’s of thousands of dollars worth of training.
It was without a doubt our most financially successful year yet, but instead of celebrating, by the end of 2016, I was burnt out.
The entire year had just been launch after launch for the training program, I’d worked myself into the ground and never wanted to do another launch as long as I lived!
For me, it was time to slow down, take a backseat in the business and reassess the direction I wanted to go in.
Lost in Paradise
Living in Phuket, Thailand was a bit of a dream come true, but by the end of 2016, I honestly had no idea what I wanted anymore. I was lost!
I knew I loved running courses, managing groups and teaching others how to do stuff, but I hated sales, and launches, and funnels, and all the money making stuff that went with it.
I just wanted to create.
My husband was running the Amazon business, which was making a lot of money, and he was keen for me to step back for a while and let him crack on, so for a couple of years I tried the ‘ladies who lunch’ strategy and started working on my health, and spending more time with my daughter etc.
But this only made me feel even more lost. As much as I relished the time with my daughter, I’m a born entrepreneur and I was itching to start something new.
In 2019 I half heartedly started the Your Lifestyle Business blog. I had some fuzzy vision around online business and lifestyle, but was reluctant to do any social media or sales funnel style strategies. So I thought niche blogging, which I’d never tried, with display ad income might satisfy my entrepreneurial urges.
It was a slow burn and from 2019 – 2021, my commitment was a bit hit and miss, but by October 2021 I started to take it a lot more seriously, set a goal of achieving 100,000 monthly visits and immersed myself in the world of SEO.
Gradually my traffic began to climb and in March 2023 I hit 100,000 pageviews, and in August I had my first five figure month grossing over $11,000 from sponsorship and affiliate sales. (Not a sales funnel to be seen!)
NB: It’s a lot of work to make money from blogging using only organic traffic!
Plus it’s a very risky strategy as when the Google Helpful Content Update hit in September, my site, alongside thousands of other niche site blogs, was decimated overnight.
Just like that 3 years of work wiped off the face of the google planet. Boom. Gone.
Finding Myself Again
Little did I know, as I was licking my wounds, that this was actually the best thing that had happened to me in years!
You see, I’d got so caught up in the SEO flywheel with Your Lifestyle Business, the blog was far removed from my original vision for it and was moving in a direction I didn’t want to go. Plus I hated blogging for SEO! It was so boring and repetitive and restrictive.
I wanted to write (and talk) about travel, and freedom, and the idea of mastering your own destiny! But that was going off topic and wouldn’t add to my ‘topical authority’!
So, one evening, after a huge epiphany I decided to start all over again.
But this time I wanted something I could build over the long term. No more projects, or experimental niches, following trends, algorithms, or where I thought the audience was going at the time.
I wanted something that I was crazy passionate about, something I could build for me.
I asked myself;
- What do I generally talk about, read about and are interested in on a daily basis?
- If someone said you have 60 seconds to write a 1 minute speech what would you talk about?
- What am I happy to immerse myself in for the next 10 – 20 years?
- If I was running a podcast, who would I want to interview?
Every single answer was travel, freedom, nomadism, solopreneurship, energy (particularly post 50), and living your best life.
Welcome to The Working Traveller
So here we are!
The Working Traveller is a complete reflection of the life I live with my family, and just happens to coincide with my daughter finishing school and us heading out into the great unknown once again!
As I write this it’s February 2024 and I’m throwing myself into this brand with everything I’ve got. I can’t wait to see where it goes over the coming years, and if you’re reading this, thank you so much for coming on the journey!
It has been a ride getting to this point and after so many years I finally feel like the quote I once saw in a Jen Sincero book;
My plan over the coming years is to take everything I’ve learned and invest it into this brand, hence The Working Traveller will consist of this blog, a newsletter, social media channels, physical products, digital products, a podcast, a membership academy and lots more!
Most importantly my goal will be to share my travelling adventures across the globe, and inspire and guide any and all budding nomadic solopreneurs, particularly 50+ adventurers, to find their passion and purpose, build a business or side hustle, travel the world and live their best life!
Make sure you’re signed up to the newsletter to come along for the ride!
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Thanks for taking the time to read my story. I hope it inspires you to action and please know if I can do it anyone can. I’m not a 25-year-old super tech who works 24/7. I’m just a Wife & Mother who wanted to see the world!