Sally Haughey had no trouble finding her passion. In 2010, she was training early childhood educators and it was her vision to transform early childhood education. Eight years later, she has made a seven figure online business out of her passion.
Serve Your Audience, Not Yourself
It started in 2000 when Sally took an online photography course and immediately loved it. As she was taking pictures, she suddenly thought about the idea of taking her own business online and train early childhood educators through an online platform. She started a blog with a clear goal in mind: She wanted to build her own online business. “This was my opportunity to give my trainings from all over the world,” Sally says. She had always wanted to live in Paris – with an online business, this would suddenly become possible.
She created her first online course in 2011. “I had never done this before, but I wasn’t worried about looking goofy or being perfect. For me, all that mattered was that I was transforming early childhood education because it is what I’m truly passionate about,” Sally remembers. She created “A Dash of Wonder”, and online course on how to be in a school system but still create your unique curriculum. “It’s a course about how to bring a little wonder into the classroom. How to be a rebel in disguise.” She sold it for $27 to 127 people.
Since then, she created up to 20 courses by looking at her blog posts and seeing which ones had brought the most engagement. “These were the topics people were most interested in. I wasn’t doing this for me, my motivation was to serve these people, so I did what they asked for.”
Do What You Love, Even If You Don’t Get Paid
She also posted free high-value content into Yahoo groups. To Sally, it didn’t matter that this didn’t generate any income with this. “I was doing something that I would do anyways, whether I get paid or not.”
Today, her freebie, the Start-Up Guide to Loose Parts, is used in universities all over the world and has been downloaded thousands of times. “It’s something I could have charged money for. But I chose to make it a freebie and now it thrills me to know that it’s making a difference in the industry and it’s building my authority in the field.”
Meanwhile, Sally has an email list of 80’000 teachers. “Maybe 5% of them will buy from me. But my goal is still to leave the other 95% transformed. They don’t have to become my customers, but I want to have an impact on them.” Sally isn’t worried about competitors. “Even if someone is doing what I do, we are united in our purpose to transform early childhood. If anyone is working for the same mission as I am, we’re walking hand in hand.”
The Deeper Level
Sally has found the key to her success. “I always ask myself: How can I serve my customers? I lean into their struggles and connect with them on a deep level. Sometimes, I get really emotional because I’m moved by these people.”
Whenever she is creating something new, she holds herself back and asks herself: Can she still stand in the shoes of her clients? And if not, what is she going to do to reconnect with them? “Really be with your clients. I always talk to the people who are upset or didn’t like something I did and they’re thrilled that I made the effort to talk to them. I show them that I care about them.”
That’s also the reason why she puts everything she has into a new course. It’s not about giving tips and tricks – Sally wants to go on a deeper level with her clients. “When I teach, I want to be moved by what I say myself, because these are the things people want to hear. I put my heart and soul into it.”
From $10,000 to $1.1 Million in Eight Years
Sally built a seven figure online business, even though she is selling low price products. “I have a membership that is $24 a month. Currently, I have 1200 members signed up and it’s still growing. Then I have online conferences that start at $47, and subscriber packages that are $57. Teachers love deals, and they like the price range I offer. You really have to know the mentality of your audience to be able to sell to them.”
In her first year, she made $10,000. In 2015, she reached $500,000. And in 2018, she arrived ad $1.1 million. “When I make money, I look at it as an indicator of the difference I’m making in the world. The more money I make, the more difference I’m making. And I make sure the money I make makes a difference in the world.”
At the beginning, she never thought that she would become a seven figure business owner. “It took time, almost ten years for me. One of the most important things is to stay in tune with your clients and make sure they know you’re on their side.”
Another one is to follow hints and be ready to pivot. Sally was contacted by a publisher who wanted to publish a book with her. She had never thought about it, but decided to go along. It brought her multiple requests to be a keynote speaker and to do trainings. “Again, I thought about who’s needs I’m serving. I listened less to what I thought my audience needed and more to what they told me they needed. And it worked.”
Sally fulfilled her dream and moved to Paris, runs her online business and took up art in her free time. But she will probably soon be off to somewhere else. “I’ve always marched to a different drummer. I’m living a Bohemian life and I love it. It really gives me energy for my business.”
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