Case Study: 0% Churn!, with Ali Manning (Membership Series) - Rick Mulready

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Case Study: 0% Churn!, with Ali Manning (Membership Series)

January 5, 2022

One of the key concerns membership business entrepreneurs have is retention. How long people are staying in your membership, and how to keep members from leaving.

Losing members is commonly called “churn,” and it’s constantly on the minds of many online creators that have a membership business.

If your churn rate is 5%, you’re doing pretty well. That’s the average figure in most membership businesses. You’re doing really well if you’ve gotten that number below 3%.

My guest on today’s show has essentially a 0% churn rate. Ali Manning is a bookbinder and book artist. In her membership she teaches people how to do bookbinding, and other crafting activities.

Most importantly, she’s achieving this phenomenal churn rate with an online membership that’s predominantly over 65 years of age, which is stereotypically the least tech-savvy age group.

Ali is blowing that stereotype out of the water. She’s built a thriving online community around her bookbinding and craft teaching, and her members stay subscribed for years and years.

Ali’s here to break down how she created her amazing membership, how she retains people, and how she provides so much incredible value to her members.

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • What you should focus on when starting your membership
  • Ali’s successful sales funnel strategy
  • How get useful feedback from your customers
  • Starting and growing a thriving community
  • Should you lead your community, or let it be more user-directed?
  • Running ads in the wake of iOS 14.5
  • What your membership tiers should look like

Links & Resources:

Ali Manning’s Links:


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Other Episodes You’ll Enjoy:

How to Legally Protect Your Membership (and Yourself) with Autumn Witt Boyd and Chanteé Hallett

Is a Membership or a Course Right For Your Business?

Membership Case Study: How Hallie Sherman Added $10K/mo With a New Membership


Episode Transcript

[00:00:00] Ali:
We only do one thing. I don’t have a course. I don’t sell product. I don’t do anything else. Occasionally I’ll do a collaboration, or I might do a little something, but my sole focus is on this membership, on these people, and serving them 24/7.

I feel like that shows in what we do and how we do it. My focus isn’t split.

[00:00:56] Rick:
One of the key things when we have a membership in our business, or if you’re thinking about adding a membership to your business, is retention. How long do people stay in your membership? There’s different metrics that we use to measure that. The primary one is churn rate. If you’re doing 5% and below, your doing pretty well. I’d say 5% is about average. If you’re in the 3% range or below, you’re doing extremely well.

My guest today, is Ali Manning. She’s one of our Accelerator coaching members. She has essentially a 0% churn rate in her membership. Ali is a bookbinder and a book artist. In her membership, she teaches people how to do book binding. These are like craft projects. She has built this amazingly successful membership where she essentially has 0% churn rate. Her members stay with her for a very, very long time.

One of the most important things about this is her audience primarily is made up of women 65 years old and older. An older audience tends to be less tech savvy, right? Well, Ali is proving all of that wrong in her membership.

Does she have to do work and teach people? Of course, but she’s built this vibrant, amazing community teaching people how to do books. It’s a very inexpensive membership. It’s around $20 a month, and people stay in her membership for years.

I wanted to have Ali come on the show today to break down how she’s created this amazing membership, what she does in the membership to retain people, and provide this amazing value and experience for her members.

As you’re listening, if you’re an established—meaning you’re already doing at least 100K per year in your business—if you’re an established course creator, or membership creator, or an online coach, and you’re looking to take things to the next level, but maybe you’re stuck. You’re feeling overwhelmed. You’re not really sure what next step to take.

I invite you to check out and apply—it’s application only—to our Accelerator coaching program. Go to You’re going to hear a lot about it here today and the amazing case study with Ali Manning.

So without further ado, let’s go hang out with Ali.

Ali welcome to the podcast. How are you doing?

[00:03:33] Ali:
I’m great, Rick.

How are you?

[00:03:34] Rick:
Good. I’m making this smirky face right now because I’ve been trying to get you to come on the show for a long time, and here you are.

[00:03:44] Ali:
I did not know that.

[00:03:47] Rick:
Yes. Yes.

Well, I am pumped to have you here, because you have an amazing membership.

So, you’re a member of Accelerator, and when I first met you, you already had a successful membership. I’ll never forget the conversation that we had, maybe our first strategy call, and we’re talking about your goals. I was like, we need to increase those goals because you’re not really stretching yourself. Let’s, just be honest. We know you can reach those goals.

So, it’s been so much fun, and is so much fun watching you with your membership and grow your business, and the types of conversations that you’re having now. and yeah.

Anyway, let’s stop leaving people waiting for what the heck Ali Manning does for her business.

What’s it all about? Who do you serve? Let’s let’s dive right into that.

[00:04:54] Ali:
Okay. so I am a book artist. And a book binder, and I teach this traditional craft of making books by hand, to a community of people through a subscription site or a membership site. my twist on it is that it’s a very traditional craft, but I use modern materials, modern methods, and it’s for sort of the modern artists, the modern crafter.

It’s a, the majority of my audience. Artists, the crafters, many of them have retired or are sort of in a second career, sort of second phase of life as it were. And, this membership has been, this is we’re in our third year now. So it started in 2019.

[00:05:44] Rick:
What made you start it?

[00:05:45] Ali:
That’s an interesting question.

It’s kind of a personal story. Am I allowed to share a personal story?

[00:05:53] Rick:
Yeah, I don’t. Now, now that I asked you that I’m like, I don’t, I don’t think I know the answer to this already.

[00:05:59] Ali:
I don’t share this very often. So, yeah, it’s a pretty personal story because I mean, I’d had my business since 2014 and, like many artists, I sort of followed a very traditional route. I got a studio, I rented a studio with other artists. I taught classes locally. I sold my books locally. I had it C store I stayed pretty small and, made very little money. but in 2018, my best friend of like 20 years, We went out for coffee. It was like just after the holidays. And she’s like, yeah, you know, I’ve been feeling unwell over the holidays.

And, I was just actually in the emergency room and, she got a call to say that she had cancer and she was 48 and she was a single parent of two teenagers. And, I’m like, okay, you know, we got this, we’ll fight this. We’re going to we’ll get through this together. Well, we didn’t, we didn’t get through it together.

She had a year, by January 31st, 2018. 19. She had died and she hadn’t made her 50th birthday. So, and that, you know, and I don’t, I don’t mean to be like cliche, like, oh, life’s too short. But I spent a year with her. I, we, you know, I went to all the doctor’s appointments, all the chemo appointments, I slept at mass general hospital on the couch of a you know, hospital and for weeks at a time. And that was a long time to like reflect on, you know, what’s important in life and, and what was important to her. And what’s important to me and, you know, just, I really struck me. What, what, what would I, what would I do? Like, what am I leaving behind? Like what if I just had that literally one year, what am I leaving behind?

And I’ve got a fabulous families, you know, I’ve got a great husband, 25 years this year and a 21 year old daughter who is amazing. And there was still something inside me that felt unfulfilled. I’ve always been great at artists sort of building communities. And I’m a great teacher and I just love like paper and books, but I knew that I just had something so much bigger inside me.

So literally a couple months after she passed away, I was like, okay, I have to, I have to just reach a whole lot bigger. And so my goal now is just, you know, worldwide community of people who love to do the same kind of thing that I love to do. And yeah. So that’s kind of where it came from. And I hope I don’t sound cliched and like, oh, life’s too short.

But honestly, like it kind of is. And what kind of, what always strikes me is, prior to that, I was always so afraid of what people would think. Like what would my family think if I decided to do an online business, what my friends think, you know, like, why did I care? Like, okay, in order, people are going to say, what if, what people going gonna say when I do a Facebook live?

Or what if they, are they gonna say, if I do a zoom call, like I, I was so sort of invested in. So what other people would say and what the people would think. And from that, honestly, from that moment on that year onwards, I thought it doesn’t matter what they think I need to show up and do this thing.

That’s so important to me. So that’s

[00:09:06] Rick:
What I did. It’s not cliche at all. I think that’s, you know, I think a lot of people have those for whatever the story is, whatever the reason is that they don’t necessarily share. So I appreciate you sharing that story. How did you get things going? Online, you were, as you mentioned, you were in that very traditional sense of like Etsy and, you know, local studio space and so forth.

So what, like, what was that process?

[00:09:33] Ali:
Well, maybe I cheated a little bit because I did, I did start a blog in 2007 when like, you know, the days are like tight pad and blogger and younger group. Remember Yahoo groups. I do. Yeah. So I did start a blog back in 2007. It wasn’t a business. So I did have some experience of sort of created a community.

You know, none really online. I did have, I kind of upgraded from the Etsy store to a Shopify, so I had a Shopify site, so I had like a online retail store, but again, it just wasn’t making the impact that needed it to, it was, it was retail sales, which were great, but it just wasn’t. You know, so much paper I can ship to folks.

So I, you know, my toe had been dipped in the water, through like, as I’d been blogging consistently throughout that time, I, you know, I was on social media and I had an e-commerce store. but I did decide to take, Stu McLaren scores tripe in 20 18, 18, 19. I can’t remember. Who knows what she had, but anyway, I took tribe.

And, from there, you know, that kind of gave me the kick up the backside to get the membership site

[00:10:43] Rick:
Going. You got that going. So before we even get into that, what does it mean to be a Bookbinder and a book artists? I know that a lot of people are like, wait, what is that? What is she teaching actually?

[00:10:58] Ali:
Oh, really? So it’s. It’s creating a book by hand. So that book could be made from leather, from paper, from recycled items could be from wood. And I mean, anything could be a book, but generally speaking a book is a sewn bound structure and it can be blank so that you could write. But it could also be blank ready for you to paint in it, but it also could, you could be binding your own, paintings, your, an artwork, anything, any form of artwork that you want to bind into a book.

And like a book is an interactive experience. Like you can put a painting on a wall and look at it and it’s great. But a book is something that you hold a book is tactical. Book you open the pages and you discover what comes next and what comes next. So it’s a really different art experience. Sorry

[00:11:50] Rick:
For everybody listening right now.

I want you to this, listen to what Ali just said and how she explained it. we’re on video right now and just, she just rattled that off and I was listening to you, Ali. And I was like, you just painted a picture of. the value of what a book is and how you can create your own version of it. Yeah.

That’s what people buy into. Oh yeah. Right. Yeah. And so, You know, if anybody listened to the show right now is like, well, I don’t think, I don’t know if my niche is big enough or I don’t know if this is something I can actually monetize. Well, what Ali just described when I first met Holly, I was like, you do what?

Cause I didn’t understand it, but it’s fascinating. And to, to hear you talk about it that way right there, I think that’s an amazing lesson on messaging and how you describe what you do and the value of. For people. And so you started the membership and you, what were some of the, like, how did you start to get people into it? what kind of success did you have at first or not success? Like what were some of the things that went into that first time you actually got.

[00:13:12] Ali:
Well, I did, I did have a list. I mean, I don’t remember honestly now, you know, three years ago, I don’t remember what the list size was. Maybe a thousand. I don’t even know.

I had a small list and you have to understand because it’s a niche market. and not many people do this. They’re fairly committed people. If they’re on your mailing list and they they’re reading your blog or they’re on your, You know, I had a small Facebook group. They’re fairly committed people. so I had a pretty strong list. I had a small Facebook group and that list was mostly through consistent blogging and having the e-commerce store. so you know, it wasn’t from ground zero. Yeah. You know, it wasn’t like overnight, oh, I just put this thing out there and it was successful.

[00:13:59] Rick:
So I started fAling from the sky.

[00:14:03] Ali:
So I think the founding members, shit, we had maybe 250 people join as founding members,

[00:14:10] Rick:
Which wasn’t on your list of. Roughly. Yeah. So you didn’t run ads, you just went internal quote, unquote, you didn’t know ads at all. At that

[00:14:18] Ali:
Point, I didn’t run blood joined your program and then that was kicking and screaming.

[00:14:24] Rick:
Yes. Yes. We’ll talk about that too. so you had 25% roughly of your email list. Yep. Join your program.

[00:14:35] Ali:
Yeah, that’s pretty consistent. I pretty, that’s pretty much the conversion rate I work on is 25%.

[00:14:42] Rick:
Yeah. Which is amazing, which is amazing. And so when you launched it, did you have a whole bunch of con, like, did you know what it was going to look like? did you have, like the first month, did you have just the outline and promise or what did you have?

[00:15:00] Ali:
I had the first month. Oh my goodness. Now I couldn’t, I’m too much of a planner for that. no, what I, I had, I think when they joined, there was a bonus project ready. I think we, we dropped, I think we launched one month and then, you know, The F by the end of the month, the first project would be up.

So that was in progress and that was ready. And then I had some ideas of how I thought it would go. but I very much wanted this to be a collaboration and it, and it still really is. The community itself is a collaboration of, I mean, I, I run the community. I lead the community. We’re a sort of living, breathing entity.

So it evolves and develops over time. We add things, we take things away, we tweak things. so yes, I had an idea. Does it look like, I thought it would partly, partly not. So it’s definitely changed over time.

[00:15:53] Rick:
So, so when you welcome those first 250 people into the membership did you offer a yearly option at that point? Or was it just monthly?

[00:16:02] Ali:
Never, ever offered a yearly option.

[00:16:06] Rick:
And I’m glad that you don’t, because we’re going to talk about why that’s the case. how much was it?

[00:16:12] Ali:
Like, do you get done? I I’m so embarrassed.

[00:16:17] Rick:
That’s okay. Because your, your current membership is super low. What was it at that time?

[00:16:22] Ali:
10 bucks.

[00:16:24] Rick:
$10, $10 a month. And you were creating this community for people. And what else were they getting?

[00:16:36] Ali:
At that, at that time they were getting one prerecord. So it’s a book, a book project. So a certain type of binding. So one prerecorded, book project. So obviously me. And it’s pre done, and uploaded to the sites on the first of the month.

And then for that, there was a Facebook group. And I think we had a, community call like a, zoom call committee call. And that I think was it at the time I think I had, I’m also a library of sort of basic tutorials. up on the website too.

[00:17:14] Rick:
So you launched this for $10 a month and all of a sudden you have 220 $500 reoccurring each month. What did you start to learn about the membership shortly thereafter, shortly after launching it? What were some of the things? Cause you just mentioned like, you know, now you’re, you’re like, well, I it went into direction. I wasn’t quite thinking it would go.

Then other areas are like you thought, what were sort of some of your big takeaways shortly after launching it that first time?

[00:17:46] Ali:
Hm, that’s a good question. It’s like trying to think back to ancient history, even though it’s not that long ago. I’m not sure this is going to make a whole lot of sense to, listeners, but. as the months progressed, they were making lots of books, which is the point they’re making them book. but they were, wondering what to put inside them. So a lot of them had like shelves full of empty books. So some of the feedback I got was, well, maybe we could use some help putting stuff in there.

So that then led to a guest artist program, which we have now once a month we have a guest artist who comes in and there, there might be a cAligraphy. they might be a painter. They might be a printmaker who gives us, a one to one and a half hour lesson it’s to what to put inside the book. So that kind of added another layer.

So that was one thing that was one thing I kind of got from the feedback, from those people. is that the kind of thing you

[00:18:39] Rick:
Mean? Absolutely. Absolutely. before I asked the follow-up question to that, you launch your membership?

250 people in that. Yeah. How long are they staying? At what point did you, launch again?

And how long are those? That is that first group staying in the membership?

[00:19:03] Ali:
I mean, no offense, honestly, occasionally we’ll lose one and it’s like, what? yeah. they’re mostly still there.

[00:19:11] Rick:
So three. Two years later, two and a half. Yeah, two and a half years later, They’re still, they’re still in the membership and you grandfather them in at the $10 price, $10 a month price point. At what at what point do you re allow people into.

[00:19:32] Ali:
I do know, I forget now, maybe it was three or four months later, and then we increased the price into 15 and then three or four months later, we opened it up again at 20 and now, we do it three times a year. That’s it set at three times a year now? until next year, then it’s going up to 24. Because it’s lower than the standard in the industry.

[00:19:57] Rick:
The next time you launched at three, four months later, and then the next time after that three, four months later, how are you getting people in at that. point?

Was it just building your list and nurturing, and then you’re just opening it up to them.

[00:20:09] Ali:
I didn’t start doing the challenge launches. I think this is our fourth challenge launch prior to that. we were just doing yeah.

Organic growth. the minute I decided I was going to do this, the money I of. You know, my friend passed away and I was like,

I gotta get on with my life kind of thing. I started doing a Facebook live, which was frankly, at the time, the most painful. Ever, but now, I mean, thank goodness I did because it’s just, I love doing lives now.

They’re really fun. so I started doing a regular Facebook live regular time every week, you know, the thing you’re supposed to, the thing that you tell us to do. and just let Facebook page. So it’s just organic growth like that. Nothing, you know, nothing super fancy, no paid ads, just consistently showing up and provide them value. Yeah. Gotcha.

[00:21:03] Rick:
So you just mentioned that you now launch yes. When you open it up and welcome new members, you use a, a, challenge and use a paid challenge.

Yes, I

[00:21:14] Ali:
Do. Yes. So I do challenge. Tell us about that. Oh, it’s great. I love it. so yeah, this’ll be F I want to say this is our, for. it’s almost like, you know, you go from launch to launch and it’s like, the previous one is like, it’s gone now. It’s in my rear view mirror. so it’s a five day challenge and it’s a book project exactly the same as we would do inside of the membership.

So there’s no difference. And when I do a project, I split it up into sections. So, what I do is I split the project into five days. perhaps normally the video is six or seven videos who knows, but I split the project into five days and then each morning they get a prerecorded video with the days work they’re supposed to do.

And it’s 15 minutes say, You know, directions. And then at noon Eastern, we meet on zoom for a live Q and a you know, answer the questions I do giveaways And, that’s, that’s actually a very important part of the challenge is to get them into that life. And, it’s almost like a, you know, a webinar, get them to show up to a webinar. and then yeah, they pay $10 and which is great. it used to fund my ads on those ads and then wall.

So it literally used to completely fund the ads. And if I used to make a profit, which I thought was great. Yeah. And, and then generally speaking. I think in, well, generally speaking, we convert, then those challenge takers about 25, to come into the membership. During the pandemic, we had a freak one where we converted 40%.

Yeah. You know, like everything, it was a freak. So I can pretty much rely on about 25, 24, 20 5% of those people. And, and the reason is because They get a taste of what the membership’s like. They get a taste of me, my style, my teaching style, the way I shop on zoom, but they get a taste of the community because, because all the club members get it for free and they’re encouraged, you know, I have them as like ambassadors in the Facebook group, encouraging people they’re on the zoom calls.

I mean, this is their community. They have ownership of it and they. they’re invested. so yeah, it’s, it kind of gives them a little toe in the water before.

[00:23:37] Rick:
So th there’s a lot there that I want to unpack. It’s all really good stuff. want to unpack it because there’s so much in what you just said, Ali, that so many people can take away.

And use these nuggets, if you will, in their own business, whether it’s a membership, whether it’s a course or what have you. so you you’ve mentioned community. So you launched, you got 250 people in there. You launched a couple more times that year after year one. What are your numbers at that point? Do you remember?

[00:24:12] Ali:
700, 800, something like that. I think I was at a thousand when I came to you. I don’t think,

[00:24:21] Rick:
Yeah, I think you were just under it where you still charging $10 at that point. It’s up to 20 yards up 20 at that point.

[00:24:28] Ali:

[00:24:31] Rick:
Okay. So you’re welcoming all these people in at 20 bucks a month. that is very nice.

Monthly reoccurring. Your churn rate is basically non-existent because your, lifetime customer value, if you will, is essentially minimum 12 months, 12 months. Why do, you think people stay in so long?

[00:24:55] Ali:
Well, we could be in for another two hours. Talk about that. when, when I was that you asked me about this earlier, I was thinking about it. And I, literally just did a brain dump and wrote down a whole long list of, on a sort of very practical level, all the strategic things we do. which is a lot, you know, but when I sort of stepped back and looked at that list, what really struck me is that we are. very, very focused on.

All those small strategies, all they have in common is they’re all geared towards the mission that we have and our values and, the goal of the, the community like that seems to be front and center of everything that we do. And I hadn’t even really thought of it. I mean, I’m very clear on what our values are.

Not just mine, but the community is my team. We’re very clear about those and we’re very clear about our mission. And it seems to me like we’re just consistently doing everything to meet that And that’s why they’re staying. If they leave. It’s just because that’s not the kind of, community they want.

That’s not the kind of values they look for are by values. I don’t mean morals. I just mean the sort of right. Type of environment they want to be in. So I think we have real clarity on that. And that seems to really, yeah.

[00:26:16] Rick:
And I thought it was interesting before we hit record, is that you’re like, I wrote some things down to prepare for our talk today.

And you said that you had a light bulb moment in getting clarity on exactly what you just said. You knew I was going to bring up your retention rate because it’s so high and you were like, oh, it all kind of. Yeah, it wasn’t really intentional, but now it’s intentional. But the things that we’re, that we’ve been doing all circle back to the values and the mission and all that sort of thing,

[00:26:46] Ali:
I tell you something else, which I personally think this helps and I think you’ll be pleased to hear this is that we only do one thing.

I don’t have a course. I don’t sell. Product. I don’t do anything else. I don’t. I mean, occasionally I’ll do a, you know, a collaboration or, you know, I might do a little something, but my sole focus is on this membership on these people on serving them like 24, 7 pretty much. And I feel like. Shows in what we do, how we do it, my focus isn’t split.

I’m launching this product. I’m trying to do something else. I’m always just, and I’m not meaning to brown nose, but I think I swear I must be four or five years ago. You said that on your podcast. I remember thinking Hmm. That’s interesting. You

[00:27:35] Rick:
Know, Some sort of like sound effects on the show here because you all, I want you to, to hear what Ali just said, and you have a very healthy business on many different levels, revenue, retention, rate community, your team, the, the time that you put in all that stuff, you you’ve created an amazingly healthy business and you have one offer and it’s 20 bucks a month right now.

And it will be going up, but right. It’s 20 bucks a month and you have just like, you just sit out a, you you’ve gone all in on it and you’ve just done the best job possible in creating the most amazing offer in creating the most amazing experience and the community and your team to support it. And people stay in a minimum of 12 months.

[00:28:30] Ali:
It’s not rocket science. Yeah. You know, just focus on one thing.

[00:28:37] Rick:
So, what’s one example of you just mentioned, like everything circles back, if you will, to your values, Write of the community. So what’s an example of something that you might do that circles back to it.

[00:28:53] Ali:
One of the values is, Abundance. So that the sense that there’s enough to go around there’s enough money, there’s enough inspiration. Like we all have something to share. and that I really try to make the membership about my members and what they’re creating. I really, I try hard not to make it about me and. sort of my way or the highway or I’m the one with all the answers.

So I really try to bring in their voices as much as I possibly can. And so I get the sense. Sometimes it may be some people might feel threatened because frankly, half the time my members, books and artwork is way better than mine. I just happened to be good at running this business and good at teaching, but their books often really way better than mine.

I’m not kidding. and I love that. Like, bring it on. We intentionally lift them up and make them from central the time. So, you know, the bottom of every project that we have, there’s an inspiration gallery and everyone’s work goes in there. Every newsletter. It’s, you know, they’re mentioned, this is what this person’s doing.

This is what this person’s doing. Once a month, we do a whole digest of different things that people have been doing. If they’re teaching a class, if they’ve got, you know, sale in their Etsy shop, if they, you know, created some special project for their daughter’s wedding or it’s just always sort of twisting it around.

So it’s on them. so that’s sort of one way that. We really try to live our values. That there’s enough everything to go around. And I don’t mind lifting up. I don’t mind bringing in guest artists and let, I mean, obviously we don’t want them doing sales pitches, but I want to bring in other voices and they get to promote their class.

And it’s great because

[00:30:37] Rick:
There’s enough did that as a result of listening to their feedback, to your community’s feedback, they were like, okay, we’re we can, we’re creating these books, but like, Yeah. Always. How often, like, what is that circle of information? If you will look like from, requesting, like how do you get feedback?

From your, from your members?

[00:30:58] Ali:
Yeah. like officially we do a survey, at least once a year, maybe more like every nine months, focus groups. So we have smaller focus groups, where they, you know, so we have, we tried to keep it tight with a set list of questions and, and so forth. but mostly I’m just, I mean, they’re listening.

I mean, that paying attention, I mean, because. This is my sole focus. I’m in that Facebook group. Let’s read in what they’re saying and trying to pick up clues. It’s like sifting for clues. If I see consistently that three or four people in a week have asked about glue, for example, like what type of glue should I use?

That’s a key for me to be like, okay, I’ll come up with a, you know, a cheat sheet for the, at glue or we’ll do a special zoom call or that glue, for example. And it’s just, or someone has a really interesting technique. And I noticed they’ve got 20 comments in the Facebook group. I’m going to reach out to that person and say, Hey.

Can you come on to our next crew to call and just explain how you did that technique because people are really interested. So it’s just, it’s efficient, you know, it’s intentional and kind of anecdotal almost.

[00:32:04] Rick:
Are you running the group, meaning like from a community aspect, are you leading it or is the community leading in itself and how did you create that?

Within within the community or was it, or did it just like it wasn’t intentional. It just sort of happened that way. And this is like, oh, this is where I really wanted an envision all along.

[00:32:29] Ali:
I, I didn’t intentionally. No, I didn’t. There’s nothing, honestly, I did intentionally. It’s a good size. I mean, the numbers help if it was a community of 20 or 30, but you know, we’re, we’re over 1500 now, so it’s a numbers game too, but it’s all.

But I think it’s more that we foster the sense of, this is their community and they have ownership of it. So they just love answering each other’s questions. You know, if someone can’t find a link or someone needs an ID, I don’t believe to say anything. I mean, I can, but it’s better if I don’t. Yeah.

[00:33:04] Rick:
So you haven’t over 1500 people in there right now

[00:33:07] Ali:
For now.

Wait till after my launch.

[00:33:10] Rick:
So we’re recording this the first week of October. You are opening enrollment again in early November?

[00:33:17] Ali:
Yeah. My F my challenge is November 8th through the 12th, and then we open cart on the last Friday of the challenge.

[00:33:23] Rick:
Yeah. Okay. So I want to take, I want to walk through the challenge and Just kind of break it down. Cause this is something that you do extremely well. Obviously if you’re converting roughly 25% of the challenge that’s, especially for our membership and even at an inexpensive quote-unquote $20 a month is still a membership meeting. It’s reoccurring, you don’t offer a 12 month.

Right. And so. just to kind of kick things off and then we will come back to the Facebook ads and I want to resurface a conversation that we had last year, but you offer the challenge. It’s a paid challenge is $10 to join. Yep. And in general, how many people do you do you get to see.

[00:34:16] Ali:
Over a thousand, 12, I think the last one was then the last one was 1400 and something, our goal for this one’s 2,500.

[00:34:28] Rick:
I love it. Paying $10 a pop. I have a challenge. Okay. So they. They sign up, they pay their $10. I’m going to get really granular with you for a second here. So they sign up and if you don’t know the answer, that’s okay. They sign up. Thank you, page what’s. Is there something special about the thank-you page?

Like, are you giving them a certain direction telling them what to do? Talk about.

[00:34:54] Ali:
And you know what, this is only through experience. So don’t, don’t think this is how it was at the beginning. Cause we, you know, we’ve made every mistake. Sure. Yep. So right now this is what we do. And there’s a welcome video, which I’d make, I’d say, you know, very important, please watch this.

And it gives them an outline of what to expect because of the challenge. Yeah. Like how it’s going to go, because there are just some common misconceptions because most people don’t. Doing a five day art challenge has become more popular, but most people run them live in a Facebook group. So what’s unusual about mine is it’s prerecorded video.

And the reason for that is just, it’s detailed or. Close-up work that has to be, you can’t do it on an internet connection. Yeah. So I give them a very clear overview of what to expect, of the format of the day. And then there’s a button underneath joined the Facebook group. and then, they get to, I think there’s also. I think they’re no, I think that’s in the EMA. Then they, in the first email, they get sent to the website to, download their supply list. And there’s also video that accompanies the supply list. so have plenty of time to gather their supplies ahead of time.

[00:36:07] Rick:
I’m just curious. Are those supplies? affiliate links? No.

[00:36:14] Ali:
Intentionally not. Yeah. Yeah,

[00:36:17] Rick:
No, I don’t. You get, last time you did, it was about 1400 people. And so what do you call this? You call it a challenge

[00:36:26] Ali:
Five day challenge,

[00:36:28] Rick:
You know, to in your marketing, into, to the public.

[00:36:31] Ali:
Yeah, it’s a five day. And then I named the book. So five day fabrics journal challenge, five day media journal challenge.

Yes. So each one’s slightly different. It’s always a different book every time.

[00:36:43] Rick:
L a super smart, but all you’re doing. So wait, so are the, it’s a different book every time, but are the videos New? Yep. Oh, you rerecord the videos.

[00:36:53] Ali:
Yeah. Yeah, I do. Yeah. I mean, I may reuse some, but yeah. I like doing new ones. Okay.

[00:37:00] Rick:
So refresh our memory on who your audience is.

[00:37:07] Ali:
My typical audience, it’s female. probably over 65, many over 75, 70 plus they’re retired. most of them are retired teachers and therapists and social workers. Good librarian.

[00:37:23] Rick:
So what I, just heard from you is women most are retired 65 plus wait, but I thought that they didn’t know how to use the internet and fill out an order form and use their credit card to purchase something.

[00:37:43] Ali:
Sure. Most of them do. I’ll be, I’ll be honest, no ways. I mean, I’m just guessing, I would say we perhaps have a higher number of tech customer service questions perhaps in other memberships, but I don’t know, That’s just what I would guess,

[00:38:02] Rick:
But no, prior to.

[00:38:05] Ali:
No, just with confusion about, you know, maybe one email address for PayPal and one that they use for other things or how to update a credit card just, yeah.

[00:38:13] Rick:
Oh, gotcha. So once they’re a member not major. Okay. So I just wanted to, you know, I knew the answer to that, but I wanted you to reiterate that because so many people feel like, oh, this, you know, this demographic, if you will. They’re not going to purchase because they don’t understand. No, you know, my mom, my mom is 70, 78. I should know I’m laughing because I should note 77 she’s 77 and she would have no idea. She still writes checks and she’s super afraid of like banking online and stuff like that. and so I told you that from day one, I was like, I’m amazed that you get.

Like you are serving this market really, really well, obviously. So on the thank you page, you got the welcome video sign up for the Facebook group link. What percentage generally do you get to sign or to, I’m sorry to go into the Facebook group.

[00:39:14] Ali:
Most of them, because, we’re running ads at this point. I don’t know what the number is pre ads, but I’d say the majority

[00:39:22] Rick:
To the Facebook group. Yeah. So it’s they sign up on that Monday morning. So what’d you say November 8th? It’s a Monday. I just looked at my calendar. So November 8th, this launch, depending on when, when people are listening to this, obviously it could be coming up or past.

So Monday morning they get a PR they get an email in their inbox. We recorded video. Some sort of instructions, I’m guessing on how to watch it. And so you start, you give them. task, if you will. Right. So talk about that. Like, what is the, what is the flow through the challenge? If you will, like, what are you, you’re teaching them from start to finish how to create a book.

[00:40:05] Ali:
Yeah. So what I’m, what I’m trying to do is to get them to have a win, So I market into people who have never done this before and who don’t think they can do it, or think that, you know, it’s too difficult or they think. They’re confused. So I’m showing them from start to finish, do this step a, B, C, D E.

You have a book you know, because that’s kind of what I’m good at. I’m good at breaking down book, bindings complicated. So, but I happen to be able to just break into parts for them. So I’m just showing them how I do that and that they can do it. And they, by the end of the week, they have a completed book and.

The sense of accomplishment and these people are amazed. They’re like, I cannot, you should see the comments. Like, I can’t believe I did this. I cannot believe I did this. I call, I can, because you’re quite, you know, just step by step by step by step.

[00:40:59] Rick:
How long is each video?

[00:41:01] Ali:
15 minutes, maybe. So maybe 10, maybe 20, not long, not long at all.

[00:41:06] Rick:
Okay. So you send it out. First thing in the morning, each day during the week, Monday through Friday and each day during the week also you’re doing a live Q and a in the Facebook group. Is this a pop-up Facebook group or is it.

[00:41:19] Ali:
It’s actually, we actually do the Q and a and zoom just because people struggled with it being live in the Facebook group.

Not everyone was seeing it. It’s a lot. I find it a lot more effective to have the same zoom link for every day recurring meeting and send that out. That seems to be people seem a lot more use.

[00:41:42] Rick:
Oh, okay. Got you. So what I was asking before about the thank you page, I was, so what you are mentioning is when they joined the membership, right?

[00:41:50] Ali:
No, when they joined the

[00:41:51] Rick:
Challenge. Oh, so wait, so there’s a link to the Facebook group. What Facebook group are they

[00:41:55] Ali:
Getting a popup Facebook

[00:41:57] Rick:
Group? Yes. Oh, that’s okay. Gotcha. Gotcha. And so, but they’re getting a zoom link and I would assume that your. Broadcasting that into the Facebook group when you do

[00:42:08] Ali:

Yeah. But I’d rather, they came to the zoo. I’d rather they come to zoom because there’s more interaction. So,

[00:42:14] Rick:
And again, just to reiterate 65 plus his understanding of how to use it.

[00:42:20] Ali:
Absolutely. They are without question. Yeah.

[00:42:23] Rick:
Yeah. So what percentage would you say are actually showing up to the Q and a, and then do you send them like a second email that morning?

Like later that morning to remind them? Oh

[00:42:36] Ali:
Yeah. Lots of reminders.

[00:42:37] Rick:
Lots of reminders.

[00:42:39] Ali:
Going back to the retention. It’s the same. It’s the same for the retention as well as for this, converting these challenge takers, it’s all getting them to shop live like. So for the live events we have for the membership, the more they can show up live, The more invested they are.

And that’s the same for the challenge. The more I can get them into that zoom call. so I cannot remember off the top of my head, the number it’s not huge. It’s I mean, it’s, it’s quite a few hundred, that’d be three 400. It’s a lot to

[00:43:09] Rick:
Manage, which is a lot.

[00:43:10] Ali:
Yeah. so yeah, I mean, there’s three of us managing that and it’s actually really fun. We have like a really good interaction. It’s we have like one person in a team member answering questions in the comments, but then I have someone on screen with me reading those questions out and there’s a really good like interplay between the three. that really helped last time, I think, to make them feel these new people like pulled into this community that we have.

And you

[00:43:38] Rick:
Mentioned earlier that you have members from your existing community, your existing membership ambassadors, if you will join you in the

[00:43:47] Ali:
Oh yeah. And the zoom call, definitely. Yeah. Oh really? Yeah. Oh, the key, the absolutely key because they sell them in. Yeah, totally. It’s brilliant. I don’t need to tell him much about the membership.

We just mentioned the membership. I like it casually in conversation. And then the what, what, what membership? What’s this membership and then they go ahead and sell it for me. So

[00:44:10] Rick:
Yeah. Five day challenge Fridays. The final day you open enrollment on Monday.

[00:44:17] Ali:
No, on that Friday. Well open for challenge takers, right?

Early opens early for challenge.

[00:44:24] Rick:
Okay. And so what does that transition look like? So they just gone through the challenge they’ve built. They’ve created the book at this point. Now what’s the value proposition going into, or for the membership at that? We

[00:44:40] Ali:
Have a party on the Sunday. So on the Sunday we have a wrap-up party on zoom.

So I’m, I make, make like a big deal, you know, aware it’s sparkly dress and I’m, I make a movie. So everyone who’s made a book, I make a movie, you know, but not if I’m finishes, obviously whoever’s made that book. I do a movie, they get to watch the movie of that you know, all the books that literally has hundreds upon hundreds of Amazing. And, I’ll do final giveaways. I’ll do some, you know, do some highlights and little awards, just, you know, pumping them up for the membership. And obviously I sell the membership again, then I’ve sold it, Friday and I’ve just been peppering it throughout the week, just sort of, you know, teasing them.

So that’s kind of how we wrap

[00:45:30] Rick:
It up. I mean super creative. I love that you make a movie out of it. That’s super smart. they’ve created the book at that point. What’s like, why do they want to continue in the memory? Is it, I want to continue to be able to do this. I had so much fun. Is it the community? What are you actually selling at that point?

[00:45:50] Ali:
More of what they’ve just had that week. So more fun, more community. I’ll have a lot of examples of the books that we just made. Hey, this is what we made last month.

Wouldn’t you love to make that? And then, you know, the kind of not sexy books, but generally they’re really kind of intriguing. I was like, oh, I’d really like to make that. So I kind of peak their interest because they get access to all the bad. Project they do. So it’s

[00:46:20] Rick:
Basically two and a half years worth of $20 and they come in $20 a month.

Amazing. So your, a cart officially opens to the public quote unquote, on that Monday. Yeah. And then how long has enrollment opened

[00:46:37] Ali:
In the past? They’ve left open a week. And I know you tell me all the sales come in the last day, but they don’t for me, the sales will come from the weekend from the challenge.

[00:46:47] Rick:
That makes sense, right? I mean, they’re coming off this huge, like so much fun, and you’re also having a big party on that Sunday. I love the idea. It’s

[00:46:59] Ali:
Great. Just to watch and what we have them do is sign up online while they’re alive. Like who signed up, who signed up. So it’s, it’s really, it’s a lot of fun so we can give them a shout out.


[00:47:10] Rick:
What does that following week look like for you? Is it just emails?

[00:47:17] Ali:
I honestly, I don’t do a whole. I just do emails. I might do more this time. we’ve hired a staff member, so I feel like we’re a lot more organized. I mean, generally we’re just like lying on the floor exhausted, but because we have this really fabulous new team member, we’re a lot more organized this time.

So I think I’m going to try and be more intentional, perhaps do some lives. some zoom calls. I don’t, I haven’t even gotten that far yet. So, but generally speaking, it’s been emails

[00:47:46] Rick:
And emails, and I remember the last launch that. You, you had a few, I think it was like a Thursday that we, that you and I were chatting and cart was closing, like on that Sunday or something like that.

And you were a little bit disappointed in sales. And so I was weird. We were just chatting like, okay, what do you have. Plans between that, that Thursday and that Sunday. And what were the types of things that you already had done? And was there anything that was working and you were like, well, I, like, I always sell when I go live.

Like people love when I go live and it works and I was like, okay, well, how many lives do you have between now and Sunday? And you were like, I think I have one, I was like, wait a minute. You just told me that when you go live, you sell more. And when you go live, we’re talking like 15 minutes. And so you scheduled the live for every day.

So like, I think he did one that later Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

[00:48:49] Ali:
And then you sold more? I can’t remember the numbers, but yeah, I’m sure I sold at least another hundred.

[00:48:55] Rick:
Yeah, amazing. It’s just like, just looking at. Yeah, what was working. Okay. Let’s see more of what was working there

[00:49:03] Ali:
And you have the reason, it, the reason it works is we had a focus group recently.

And one of the things that they said they really liked is that, you know, they see my face that I show up because a lot of times, you know, within a membership or a class, you don’t, you see a screen, you see slides or you see, you know, if it’s a craft, you just see someone’s hands. The fact that I’m willing to put my face out there and just show up.

It just that connection. It just makes a difference. The time most people don’t like doing it. I know it’s hard. It’s really hard.

[00:49:36] Rick:
Well, you didn’t like doing it at first, but you said that you just kept doing it, kept doing it and now you really enjoy it. It’s fun. Just like any skill, like if you are not comfortable getting on camera for whatever, you know, like just keep doing it, keep doing it.

Repetition is going to help. Yeah. I teased earlier and I want to start to wrap up, but I want to talk about ads because our initial conversation with it, we ran the numbers, right. And so that was one of the first things we did was like, okay, what is your. What’s your lifetime customer value. And you said, well, people stay in 12 months.

And I was like, all right, well, there it is $240 minimum, $240. Yeah. And so that that’s everything, when it comes to knowing what you can pay for a new customer and, you know, in your conversion rate, your lead costs, et cetera. And so we just ran the numbers. I don’t remember what the number was as far as ad spend, but it was.

Oh three grand or something. It was,

[00:50:41] Ali:
It was no, I think it was like 1200. I mean, it was, I had done it once before I joined Accelerator and it worked great, but I was too nervous to spend any kind of money. Like maybe not even 2000. Yeah.

[00:50:54] Rick:
That’s what it was. That’s what it was. and people were paying $10 for the rent for the challenge.

And your lead cost was like, oh, That was insane between four and $6.

[00:51:06] Ali:
So that’s ancient history

[00:51:09] Rick:
Now. So you’re paying for it right off the bat. You’re paying for your lead cost right off the bat. and so that was really the game. If you will. My goal was to get to show you the numbers, how it worked from an ads perspective and get you more comfortable with ads.

Because as long as you are tracking for each launch, creating benchmarks for yourself, Yeah. So what did you top out at for ad spend?

[00:51:35] Ali:
Last launch 20. I think we spent 20, this one will go up to 35. Yeah.

[00:51:42] Rick:
Yeah. 35,000. Because you know, things convert, you convert like 25% ish.

[00:51:51] Ali:
Yeah, well let’s yeah, I’ve said that now.

Good Lord. Let’s hope it. I mean, well, because the last launch, which was literally the week, you know, the new iOS, updated, I want a pen, $14 a lead that was kind of painful. That was painful because I’m only getting in 10, but if I’m converting at 25%, I’m still ahead. Way ahead.

[00:52:12] Rick:
Yeah. Yeah. are you running lead magnet ads consistently? You’re not. Okay.

[00:52:19] Ali:
It didn’t work out that well last

[00:52:21] Rick:
Time. so you’re in a launch November 8th. What is your ad plan? All right. We’re recording this on October 5th. So you’re a month out.

[00:52:33] Ali:
Oh, that’s starting soon. Well, I have an agency now, which is another thing you encourage me to do because, okay. So honestly I’m not super involved in the ads now. with the meeting last week, They have everything they need right now. I sent it to them today, actually landing page and thank you page and all of that jazz. I’ve sent them the ad videos. So I think they’ll start running ads next Monday. So about a month out, they’ll start running ads a month

[00:52:59] Rick:
Out for registration.

[00:53:02] Ali:
Yeah. Well, they’re going to do some test ads to see which ones hit. So I think they’re going to spend the first, maybe 10 days, two weeks. Testing and getting, you know, whatever it is, they get

[00:53:14] Rick:
Data, data,

[00:53:18] Ali:
And then we’ll start really throwing the money after two weeks before.


[00:53:23] Rick:
So for everybody listening guys, like what Ali just mentioned, and I’d covered this in a recent podcast episode. Launching post iOS 14.5. It is completely different than it was last year. You have to start earlier. If You are starting the standard 10 days out and you haven’t tested or anything like that, it’s way too late. you know, gone are the days of letting ads run three to five days before optimizing, like you need at least at least seven days, seven to 10 days. Yeah, in order to see any kind of, you know, data that’s worthy enough to like start to use, to optimize there’s a three-day delay roughly in reporting. So.

Of what you’re seeing in ads manager and the data that Facebook is using to optimize your ads from the algorithm standpoint. So it’s become much harder for those of you who are launching and, you know, still trying to run ads for your launch as we used to. That’s a big mistake. And so I’ll put the link in the show notes for the episode where I covered. If you were launching launch strategy for your ads, you’ve got to be starting sooner. and the good thing about you Ali, is that you pretty much know your audience, you know, the audiences that work well for you, your messaging is pretty much down, you know, you know, you’ve got your landing page, you’ve got your thank you page.

And so you’re essentially rinsing, repeating the overall launch except for the, except for the book, Like what you’re actually teaching. So you just kind of plugging that into. Hmm, this new, launch and where you go.

[00:54:59] Ali:
Yeah, it’s just tweaked each time. Just tweaking, optimizing a little bit changing things.


[00:55:05] Rick:
What’s your confidence level in your business right now? Oh, from where it was.

[00:55:10] Ali:
Oh, Unbelievable.

I feel so much more confident. Just being in the Accelerator has given me the confidence to hire an ads agency, to spend that kind of money on ads, and to really hire properly.

I’ve only got two team members who are both 20 hours a week, but it’s really given me the confidence to know what work to give them, and what not to give them. Yeah, my confidence is like it’s like night and day different.

[00:55:40] Rick:
Yes. Absolutely. It’s been so fun to watch.

So, where can people connect with you to find out what book binding and book artistry is all about?

[00:55:53] Ali:
Why don’t they find me on Instagram? My company name is Vintage Page Designs.

[00:55:59] Rick:
So, @vintagepagedesigns

[00:56:02] Ali:

[00:56:05] Rick:
Okay. Awesome. I’ll link everything up for Ali and her business over on the show notes page for today’s episode.

Ali, thank you so much for taking us through your business, your membership, breaking everything down.

Super, super appreciate it.

[00:56:18] Ali:
Oh, you’re very welcome. Thanks. That was a lot of fun.

[00:56:21] Rick:
Well my friend, thank you so much, as always, for listening today.

Ali is just one of my favorite people, and I think you can see why after listening to the episode here today.

Again, if you’re interested in learning more and applying for our Accelerator coaching program, it is open. Go to It’s for more established online course creators, membership creators, and online coaches.

If you are listening on Apple Podcasts I’d be forever grateful and indebted if you’d leave a quick rating and review for the show over on Apple Podcasts. Click subscribe so you don’t miss any episodes.

If you’re listening on any of the other platforms like Spotify, et cetera, make sure you follow the show so you don’t miss any episodes that I’ve got coming your way. Lots of amazing stuff coming your way.

As always, again, thank you, my friend, for listening. I super appreciate you.

Until next time, be well, and I’ll talk to you soon.

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