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SPI 617: The Formula for Finding an Audience and Generating Revenue with Vanessa Lau

If there’s one thing that’s true about content creation, it’s that consistency breeds legitimacy. But what if you keep putting in the hours and still don’t gain any traction? With no likes and no views coming in, what should you do?

Vanessa Lau quit her Fortune 500 job to become a YouTuber, but finding her niche wasn’t easy. When a video about Instagram blew up, it finally pointed her in the right direction. She now has over 600K followers and runs a multimillion-dollar company helping entrepreneurs and creators build businesses using social media.

This episode with Vanessa is essential listening for anyone looking to build an audience online. We start right at the beginning with strategies you can use to find a niche. Vanessa and I compare platforms and discuss the vital importance of market research for beginners. We also talk about why Instagram is the best platform to get clients when you’re just starting.

Vanessa even shares some game-changing tricks I had no idea about, so this chat is valuable for entrepreneurs at any level.

Everyone starts at zero, so patience is key when you’re still growing. That said, powerful tactics exist that you can use to speed up the process. Listen in on this episode to find out more!

Today’s Guest

Vanessa Lau

Vanessa is an online entrepreneur, content creator, and Founder of The BOSSGRAM Academy.

She teaches new entrepreneurs how to build their influence and scale their businesses using the power of social media. After quitting her 9-5, she started a YouTube channel and amassed a digital reach of 580k subscribers on YouTube and over 200k+ followers on Instagram, all while building a multi-million dollar digital education business.

Today she’s passionate about helping creators and entrepreneurs tap into the social media space so they can monetize their expertise and create global impact.

You’ll Learn


SPI 617: The Formula for Finding an Audience and Generating Revenue with Vanessa Lau

Vanessa Lau: Consistency breeds legitimacy. So you might be discouraged that with your consistency, nobody is liking your stuff, nobody’s watching and you feel like you’re not really progressing anywhere. At the same time, we often forget that time that you spent creating that video, that time you spent creating that Instagram post, that time you spent, you know, writing that caption, you’re building up your skills, you’re building up your experience. And in the long term, you’re gonna be able to monetize that skill, monetize that experience in a big way.

Pat Flynn: That was Vanessa Lau, somebody who, you know, I’ve known about for quite a while, but only recently, especially after we both got invited to speak on stage together at an event. And I’ve gotten to know her backstage, one of the smartest people I know right now, who’s teaching social media, growing an audience and starting a coaching business.

And you can take your expertise, you don’t need a million followers. You don’t need a million subscribers. You just need to be very clear with your messaging and who it’s for and how to reach them on a platform like Instagram. She’s also very, very proficient on YouTube as well. She has way more subscribers than I do, and this is such a treat to have Vanessa on because she tells great stories and more than that teaches strategies that work.

So you’re gonna love this. Welcome to session 617 of the Smart Passive Income Podcast. Find Vanessa on Instagram on YouTube. We have more links for you at the end of the show, but stick around, cuz this is gonna be a great one. Here she is, Vanessa Lau.

Announcer: Welcome to the Smart Passive Income Podcast, where it’s all about working hard now, so you can sit back and reap the benefits later. And now your host, he wants to open a restaurant called the app store that only serves appetizers, Pat Flynn.

Pat Flynn: Vanessa welcome to the Smart Passive Income podcast. It’s so great to finally have you on.

Vanessa Lau: Thanks for having me. I’m so excited to be here.

Pat Flynn: And I don’t say that because we’ve been trying to get this interview going for a while, and there’s been like stuff on your end with construction around your house and stuff on my end with being busy.

Like that’s just how it is with busy creators sometimes. But I think this is gonna be well worth the wait for people watching or listening to this because you are just a rock star. All things, helping creators and Instagram and YouTube, especially. I remember when you first came on the scene, I was. this girl’s go in places cuz like your content is so engaging.

Like what’s your backstory, how did you even get into that? Were you always like a content creator?

Vanessa Lau: Yeah, I, I feel like I started as a content creator first and then the business side kind of found me later, but my backstory is I was actually working in corporate for a few years and through my journey of working in corporate, I got a chance to work with influencers a little bit and I was just mind blown.

By their lifestyle, what they were doing for a living. And it just inspired me to do something similar. And so when I started, I actually was a beauty creator. I did a lot of like makeup tutorials and everything, but when I started creating content for it, I realized it was more of a personal passion, not necessarily something I wanted to monetize or create consistent content around. And I think that a big learning lesson there, is a lot of times we spend years thinking about when we wanna start something and it isn’t until you actually start it and experiment with it. When you realize like, Hm. This actually isn’t for me. And so the sooner you can get started with something like the sooner you kind of know.

And so that was when I realized like, okay, I don’t really wanna do this. What can I do instead? And at the same time, I decided to quit my corporate job, because even though I didn’t like creating content for makeup, I still enjoyed the process of creating things. And the idea of being a creator in general, regardless of the niche and trying to kind of like make that my career. Eventually, I was like, Hey, I’m gonna quit my job.

And I really wanna try YouTube. And specifically I wanted to create videos on YouTube about like my experience in corporate quitting, the nine to five, I was really just like, kind of throwing spaghetti at the wall. And during that time period, when I was creating YouTube videos, I wasn’t making money. It was a lot harder than I thought.

And I was like, Ooh, let me be a coffee barista and side hustle this while I build up my channel. And while I just like experiment with stuff. So I went from a pretty decent salary working in corporate, all of a sudden making minimum wage as a coffee barista while side hustling my YouTube channel. But the cool thing is, is that eventually I, I started experimenting and creating videos about Instagram.

There was one video that I decided to create about Instagram. I didn’t think it was gonna do well, but it was like, you know, I feel like my audience or someone who’s a millennial and someone who is like, you know, my target audience might be interested in social media. So let me just do a fun video about it.

Lo and behold, that video ended up like taking off on the channel. And I realized like, whoa, I had no idea that I knew this much about Instagram, that other people don’t. So how can I continue creating videos like this and find a way to monetize it and thanks to YouTube actually, because I put myself out there, a lot of people ended up DMing, me wanting private coaching, wanting to pay me for my time.

And that’s when the business side started coming about. And then in terms of like me, Kind of doubling down on Instagram. It was me just like doing more videos about Instagram, realizing there was a demand from my audience. And so that’s kind of like my origin story of how I stumbled into this. But when I started, I definitely did not think of myself as like a social media expert at all.

Pat Flynn: That’s crazy. It’s like, it’s almost half accidental. I mean, you were purposefully creating content and trying these different things, but then like accidentally stumbled upon this one particular video. And I love how you said, like, I didn’t even know people needed help. I think that holds a lot of us back from creating content.

We were just like, oh, well, everybody knows this stuff already. Do you find that to be the case with a lot of your clients who you get up on YouTube and, and Instagram as well? They just kind of don’t even know how much they actually know?

Vanessa Lau: Yeah. I think that’s where confidence lies is. Like, when you actually put yourself out there and you share what you know and what you’ve done and what you’ve experienced, what you’ve experimented you, then start casting a net to people who like didn’t even know the stuff that you know.

And I feel like that’s where confidence is built, but you never really are able to get there unless you put yourself out there. And I also found from my experience is when you are good at something, it comes easy to you. When something comes easy to you, you automatically assume that it comes easy for everyone else when it really doesn’t.

And I think that’s where a lot of people struggle with pricing or they struggle with charging for what they know, or even like, if you take a step back, from even like putting content out there, period, because they think that, oh, everyone should know this. This is so easy to do. I’m like, Hey, because it’s easy to you you might wanna understand why that’s easy to you because until you meet someone who realizes like who’s struggling with everything else that’s when you actually realize like, wow, I’m actually good at something. And I might as well like monetize it at some point.

Pat Flynn: Yeah. That’s such a great reminder. And I have to remind myself about that sometimes because I do a lot of different things and a lot of this stuff comes a little bit easier because I’ve been in it for so long.

And, and you kind of forget there’s this thing called the curse of knowledge, where it’s impossible to remember what it was like to not know that thing. And that’s the big sort of bridge that we as creators have to sort of find, and that’s. I think it’s so important that people like you are sharing this journey and are helping others in that journey and a big sort of thing that you’re helping people do is become coaches, right?

Like that’s your jam is helping people find what it is that they’re good at and help them monetize it. Right? What’s what’s the formula that you teach people to go from. Not even believing they have something worth sharing or charging for, to. You know, sometimes going full time with this thing.

Vanessa Lau: Yeah. I think that the first thing that I like to share with my clients, when it comes to really monetizing their genius, that’s kind of what it really is, is understanding that there’s different types of experts that exist.

I think the reason why people are so afraid to get started is because they feel like, oh, I need to be able to have gotten results for someone else before I can even do anything else. And that becomes like what came first, the chicken or the egg problem. Because we only focus on one type of expert, the results based expert someone who has a bunch of social proof who has a bunch of expertise, who just has a lot of testimonials.

But again, like I said, chicken or the egg problem, you need to actually do things and put yourself out there, work with clients in order to get to that place. And so the first breakthrough moment that I see a lot of my clients get is when I actually explain to them that there are different types of experts that exist.

The results based expert is one of them, but there’s also the research based. Where it’s like, Hey, maybe your expertise is the fact that you know so much and you actually save people time because you’re able to do so much research on a topic, you know, something so well, or you can connect people with other people who have that expertise.

And then by association, you become someone of authority as well. So for instance, let’s say even with this podcast episode, we could argue that you are a research based expert right now, because you’ve invited me on your podcast to cover a topic that you may not know, a hundred percent. By association, people are gonna follow you because they’re like, whoa, Pat knows a few things.

Things or two or Pat is an authority in something that’s also one way to be an expert. Another way to be an expert is being a role model, a role model based expert. And that’s kind of how I started where yeah, sure, I don’t know a lot about a certain subject and I also may not have a lot of results, tangible results in an area, but I have my story and I have my experience and I’m just gonna document it.

And the backstory is before I started creating content around Instagram, I was also talking about like, Hey, this was my experience of how I left my nine to five. This was my experience of how I got internships while I was in college slash university. This was my experience in ABC. And these were the lessons that I learned.

And even before I started working with social media clients, I actually had people message me for that type of support, like, Hey Vanessa, I saw this video or this post that you created about your learning lessons of quitting the nine to five. Could I pay you like $50 an hour, $20 an hour or whatever, to walk me through how I can put in my resignation letter.

And I was like, I had no idea just cuz you’re talking about it, but you’re talking about it. You’re documenting your process, your journey, things that you have learned, maybe you haven’t gotten results for someone else, but you got results for yourself and that counts too. And so back to your original question, I find that confidence piece is so important for someone to even take that first step of creating content and of putting themselves out there. The moment they realize that, Hey, I don’t need to have a hundred testimonials or a hundred client reviews in order to even get started. My experience is enough. My research is enough. And my connections are enough.

So that would be the first step.

Pat Flynn: I love that. I mean, before we move on, just to recap, cuz that was so great. I wanna, I don’t wanna skip over it too quickly, essentially three Rs, right? The results based, which is what you first mentioned. That’s where I feel like I came from because I started teaching online business only after I had another online business.

Right. And so people were like, oh, this guy is legit. And that was able to help me stand out from all the other people who were just kind of regurgitating stuff back in 08, so I’m, that’s a long time ago. Research based, I love that too, because you can just step up and become the curator in this space.

Like the, the best curator one person that comes to mind is a good friend of the brands, John Lee Dumas from Entrepreneurs On Fire. I mean, he’s interviewed 2000, 3000 other entrepreneurs. And just by association, just like you said, He’s now in turn, become the expert. And he didn’t even know much about business beforehand, cuz he was coming from service.

And then I love the role model because all you have to do is just kind of share the journey along the way. I think Gary Vee talks about that a lot. Right. Work in public and kind of share along the way. And like you said, people will want to work with you because that also is like, nobody can have that same experience that you have.

So you’re able to stand out and as we often say here, like your vibe attracts your tribe. So the more that you put yourself out there, you’re gonna attract the right kind of people. So thank you for that overview. Cuz I think that opens up a lot more possibilities for people who are like. Well, I don’t know everything about this thing.

So how can I attract people? There’s there’s ways to do it. So, so I love that. So step one is that mindset piece realizing that you have different lanes that you could take, what might be the next step after that?

Vanessa Lau: So the next step is niching down and I know a lot of people don’t like nicheing down cuz they’re like, oh, I’m so multi passionate, and I wanna do all these things, but if you want to have the goal of monetizing or really standing out from the competition without necessarily feeling imposter syndrome, I really do think like nicheing down a bit helped. So for instance, like when you started, you already got results of starting a, another business before you started talking about business and that is the right way to do it.

I think that it doesn’t make sense, and I do think it’s out of integrity. If you’ve never run a business before, or if you have no experience in it, all of a sudden talking about it, unless you’re documenting you currently building your business, or you are connecting other people to other business owners who have that skill.

And so for me, let’s say when I first started, I was like, oh, I really wanna be a business coach, but I’ve never really done that before. And so it doesn’t feel good. You feel imposter syndrome because you know, deep down there is a gap in your skillset. So what do you do instead? Okay, well maybe instead of jumping the gun and all of a sudden being like, Hey, I know everything about business and I’m gonna create content out business.

Let me niche down a little bit and say, do I know enough about marketing specifically? And if not, Okay, can I niche down a little bit less and say, okay. If I don’t know every single thing under the sun about marketing, maybe I can really put my flag with social media. Plant my flag on that hill. Okay.

Maybe, I don’t know. Every single social media platform. I don’t know. TikTok. I don’t know Instagram. I don’t know LinkedIn, but I do know Pinterest, then maybe you can each down be like, Hey, I am that Pinterest expert or whatnot. And if you’re like, Hey, actually, I don’t know every single thing about Pinterest.

How can I niche this down further then maybe it’s about, I don’t know, photography, like how do you actually create the or graphic design, like how to create the actual pins that might get views, even though you don’t know how to actually like put it on Pinterest and optimize it. And naturally when you start at that level through experience and through time, You’re gonna be able to niche up to the place that you wanna get to.

So for instance, like I didn’t wake up one day saying, Hey, I’m gonna teach people about how to be a coach or how to monetize, cuz I hadn’t done that myself. I actually started with teaching people how to quit the nine to five cuz that’s how I started. And that’s how that’s like the most that my experience got me to.

And so I was able to use my story to help other people. And then from there, as I was building my own social platforms, I started getting more tools and more knowledge through trial and error of Instagram or YouTube specifically. And then I slowly started to kind of like niche up. And so that would really be the next step is to really find that one thing that you want to claim and that you wanna be known for so that you can stand out even more and also for you to be able to charge more as well, because you have a targeted solution to someone’s very specific problem.

Pat Flynn: So many things happen when you niche down like that, like you said, there’s less competition to worry about. You can become known as like the person that focuses on that.

And you’re not competition anymore. You’re actually complementary to other brands that are out there who don’t have that specialization. And what I often find happens is like, when somebody niches down like that, like you said, we don’t wanna do that because we want to help everybody. But if you try to help everybody, you’re helping nobody.

And when you’re starting out, I often find like some of my students, they are like, okay, I’ll start niche. And then I’m gonna grow into these other spaces later. But then they find just such joy in being known as the expert in that one thing. And they’ve found their people and it’s a small group, but it’s super tight and they’re paying them lots of money because that’s like their core audience and their, their true fans.

They just stay there. Yeah. They’re like, I’m, I’m not gonna go horizontal and, and now bring other people in. I’m gonna serve these people deeper and go vertical. I’m gonna do now masterminds and bigger products and retreats and other things all for the same people. And it’s just so much more joyful I think when you, when you have less people to worry about and you can go deeper with them.

Vanessa Lau: Yeah. I have two things to say about that, that I think is really important for your listeners to understand. The first thing is a lot of people often confuse their mission with their niche. So, for example, someone’s mission might be like, I wanna help people live their best life. That could be your mission of why you do what you do.

Like you just wanna help people become the best versions of themselves, but that can’t necessarily monetize with a product or with an offer. And so what you have to do is make sure you actually have a niche for the thing that you wanna monetize. That doesn’t mean that you can’t help people live their best lives, but if your product or your service or your coaching is all about helping people live their best lives, it’s so broad that it doesn’t necessarily pass what I like to call the fluff test on a sales call or on a sales page.

So for instance, like, imagine if you wanna on a, if you, we and I were on a sales call right now, and I tell you, Hey, Pat, like my service is all about living your best life. You’re gonna be like, what does that look. What does that mean? How do I do that? And that sales call is probably gonna last like two hours, because at that point I have to keep explaining myself on how I’m gonna help you specifically.

Whereas if you already were super clear on what your product and service does that sales call could probably only last like 10 minutes. Or you don’t even need one, you would just need to like put it on a sales page. And that’s how you’re able to kind of like make passive income eventually, because you are so clear on your positioning with what you offer and what you sell.

But again, that doesn’t mean that your mission in your business or in your content isn’t to help people ” live their best life.” So I think it’s really important to understand that you shouldn’t mix your mission with your niche. There are two different things. I love that.

And then the second thing too, that’s really important to know, okay, let’s say if you’re starting out, you’re stressing about finding a niche right away. And that might actually hinder the amount of experimentation that you can do. And so what I like to explain to my clients and to my own audience is how I see the whole nicheing process that so many business coaches, so many people throw around is I actually like to see it as an hourglass figure where it looks something like, you know, an hourglass at the top of the funnel or at the top of the hourglass, it’s pretty wide.

And that’s usually like in the beginning stages of being a creator or in the beginning stages of like creating your business, it’s like give yourself that grace to experiment go wide for the first three months. That’s what I did with my YouTube channel, with my content. I went wide. What I did do was I focused on like a target audience, at least.

So for me, I kept it broad, but still a little bit tight within a container of like, Hey, I wanna help millennials who are maybe like two years into their corporate job and hating it. And so now I’m asking myself with that target audience, that person in mind, what are the different interests that that person might have, cuz we’re multidimensional being.

I like so many different things. Right. And so does your audience. And so I was like, okay, well, within this target audience, this person might be interested in personal finance, cuz they’re budgeting for themselves the first time they might be interested in how to land a promotion they’re they might be interested in how to quit their job.

They might be interested in social media. So I did videos kind of targeting all those different interests cuz I was basically experimenting on what I like to create as a creator and what they wanted from me and finding like the, the nice bridge between that. And then from there, out of all the videos that I experimented with, it was really the social media ones that not just took off, but that I had the most joy in creating.

So there was not only a demand, but I also liked creating that piece of content or that type of content. As I went down the hourglass, I started to niche down eventually. And then I launched a product slash service slash course about Instagram. And that’s where I made most of the money. And that’s where I really like catapulted from zero to five figures to six figures when I actually like narrowed down my positioning in the market and narrow down that niche. But then the reason why I say it’s an hourglass is over time a lot of people, they might stay in that sweet spot. Like you said, like some people might realize like, Hey, I really love doing this. I wanna stay. Other people might realize, Hey, I don’t wanna do this.

I want to pivot. And they might go up the hourglass and start experimenting again. Or they might say, Hey, I’ve actually grown my audience to a place where people want to know more than what I offer, like they want, they kind of see you as a public figure, in a sense, like they wanna know what you’re eating.

They wanna know your philosophy on life. They wanna know like your thought leadership. And that’s where I notice a lot of people end up nicheing up a little bit and going a little bit more broad. So for instance, people like Gary Vee. Gary Vee he can talk about anything at this point and people will buy people will pay attention because he has that brand equity.

The problem that I see a lot of people who are starting out is they compare themselves to a Gary Vee and they’re like, oh, well, if Gary Vee is so successful and he can talk about anything and everything, then I should be able to do that too. And I’m like, well, you kind of forgot that Gary Vee started with wines.

Then he started about like Instagram. Then he branched up to social media, then marketing, then business in general and then NFTs and all these different things. And. I like to tell people that it’s more of an hourglass than anything. And you just have to really know where you lie on that hourglass and being okay with pivoting and changing as you get more experience.

Pat Flynn: Giving yourself grace to go wide at the start and not necessarily pigeonhole yourself per se, or make that difficult choice right away on the exact sort of lane you’re gonna be in is so refreshing in, in opening. I really never heard it put that way. It almost reminds me of you and I spoke together at Grow With Video Live with Sean Cannell recently, this was in may of 2022, which was super great. This is the first time Vanessa and I met each other in person and. It was super fun. We did like a TikTok dance together, which was and a whole bunch of other things. It, it was super fun. Vanessa was great on stage by the way. And I don’t know if you’re gonna be speaking more, but if y’all have a chance to see Vanessa speak, you should go and, and take that opportunity.

But we watched Alex Hormosi speak. He was a big sort of headliner at that event. And at that event, he was teaching I talked about this in my, in my first issue of my Unstuck newsletter, how he was using Twitter specifically to be his sort of place to experiment right. And share different things. He would post just opinions, random thoughts, different tips, and he would see which ones got the most engagement.

And then based on that, right, just like with you and your Instagram video, right. You could see which ones pop and then you can go deeper with them. And that is like your signal to go down the hourglass a little bit more. And so I think a lot of business owners know that after they start, but to be able to sort of experiment with that and use that as a validation process at the beginning is really freeing.

I think a big part of this, however, is like, You gotta be a little patient, right? I think a lot of us, especially the, the younger folks listening are like, I want results now. And if I’m not getting it now, it’s must be the, the wrong way. And I should try something else. How, how do you speak to patience around all of this?

Vanessa Lau: Oh man. Patience is key. I think I, I will say one thing that has helped me. Whenever I’m feeling impatient about something is I always look at like my favorite creators and especially on YouTube, but even on Instagram, I start like scrolling down to their first few videos. I start like looking at their first few drafts and the year, like the timestamp of when they created it and the quality that it was in.

And that always makes me feel significantly better when I am able to track back on someone else’s journey. Because it reminds me that everyone starts from zero. Everyone had a rough first draft, or maybe at the time you thought it was great. And then you look back, you’re like, oh my God, I can’t believe very, I, I posted that, you know, and so right for me, I sometimes get stuck with the whole patient’s thing too.

But what I realize is two things. I always look back on other creators, but also I remember the saying of consistency breeds legitimacy. So for me, I realize like it’s important to be consistent, to get to the goals that I want and to be legitimate in what I do, because let’s say you might be discouraged that with your consistency, nobody is liking your stuff, nobody’s watching and you feel like you’re not really progressing anywhere. At the same time, we often forget that time that you spent creating that video, that time you spent creating that Instagram post, that time you spent, you know, writing that caption, you’re building up your skills, you’re building up your experience.

And in the long term, you’re gonna be able to monetize that skill, monetize that experience in a big way. So that’s another thing. The third thing I will also say about patience and consistency too that I think is really important to say. There are a lot of people who don’t engage with your work that will pay you that want to pay you.

They’re silently making their decision on whether or not they want to buy from you. So even for me, I’ve spent, thousands hundreds of thousands of dollars on mentors, on coaches, on programs and all of that. And I actually didn’t realize that pretty much every single thing that I bought from a person I’m not the type to engage with their work publicly.

Like I’ve never liked their post. I’ve never like commented on their post. I’ve never done all that, but I, I read it. I watch it. And then I realize like, Hey, I like what this person has to say. I like their perspective on business. I like their perspective on a certain aspect that I’m hoping to improve. I wanna buy from them.

And so I think it’s also important to know that there are people who are silently deciding whether or not they wanna buy from you in the future. And if you decide to stop being consistent, because you’re not getting the likes and you’re not getting the comments, then it would be a huge shame. And you’re actually cutting off, you know, a possibility of actually making income.

Pat Flynn: Hmm. Yeah. Those people are watching. They’re listening, they’re reading. And if you base your success on the number of likes you have, or the number of email subscribers, I mean, there are people who buy my products, who aren’t even email subscribers. You know, you gotta keep going.

I love what you said there. And I think that really helps for us with patience and putting things into perspective. Okay. We have niche down. We maybe we picked a lane or we’re experimenting and something’s kind of going pretty well. What are the next steps from there? Where does this go?

Vanessa Lau: I’m glad that you’ve circled back on that, by the way.

So once you’ve identified the niche, I mean, I’m assuming that at that point you’re creating content and we can obviously talk about Instagram strategy specifically, but after you’ve identified the niche. I always like to tell people to do some market research, a little bit to kind of identify, like, what is the offer?

What is the program? What is the thing that you wanna help people with? I think a lot of times we just assume that people want something, but until you actually. Get that touchpoint of doing some market research and what that can look like is it could be as simple as going on Instagram and doing a poll of, Hey, what are you struggling with right now?

You know, what would be something that would be helpful to you, but even better, if you could actually create a survey. And be able to like, have those soundbites of like exactly what people are saying in their language of what they’re struggling with and even better inviting them on a, like a one-on-one call to learn more about that pain point.

That to me is like a huge win and is actually what we teach our clients that are starting from absolute scratch. Because the moment that you get on a call with someone, that relationship is being built. And at that point you can even ask like, Hey, I’m thinking of launching service or I’m thinking of helping people with X, it’s actually gonna be the pilot program for it, or it’s actually gonna be the pilot session for it or whatever else.

And would you be interested in being like a V I P client, or would you be interested in being a beta client for it? And that’s how I got my first few clients. I only needed really three to actually validate and get that experience. For me it wasn’t about the money. It was about getting the experience and hopefully getting a testimonial at the end of that, like shortened experience of helping someone get a win.

And then from there afterwards, you can decide like, Hey, now I have these great testimonials that I can put on a sales page. And so let me actually start actually selling this at full price. Now that I validated my methodology, I validated that I can get people results. I validated that what I teach for what I say works, and I have some proof to show for it.

Now, at that point, it’s really talking about your offer, a lot more, you know, selling it at the full price, having the content strategy serve you. And we can talk about that like separately too, but that’s just how I would start. And then eventually you’re gonna get to a place where you might be booked out of one-on-one clients.

And I also tell my students like, Hey, one-on-one is a really great place to start because you don’t need a big audience, you can charge a lot more for one-on-one work at the beginning, especially because you’re trading your time for money. And that really deserves a higher compensation. But once you kind of hit that ceiling of like, Hey, I’m booked out, I’m not able to work one-on-one with so many people and I don’t want to, then you start scaling up by saying, Hey, how can I leverage my time?

Maybe you can sell a group container instead where instead of working one, along with everyone, you’re working with five people at a time, but they’re all on that same call so that you are creating leverage with your time. And then eventually you scale that up even further. And you’re like, Hey, actually, I don’t wanna do this many calls. And so how can I package this into a curriculum? Something that’s a little bit more course like, and maybe I just hop in once a month to do a call if needed.

So that’s kind of how I was able to scale up my operations scale up my genius, scale up my skills, and then in conjunction with all of that, it’s really me showing up on, on social media to showcase my expertise for free, to give people a sample of my work, to kind of nurture my audience and making sure that I have those touch points for them to buy my offers for them to be able to DM me for them, to be able to, you know, land on a sales page, book, a call, whatever it is.

And so that’s kind of how that process works in terms of like, how do you go from zero to actually working with clients?

Pat Flynn: I love that. And to get those initial results up front with the founding sort of people or the beta or, or, or the pilot program is so key because when you get those results, it not only yes, proves that you can get results, but it proves that, what you’re selling is actually valuable and will help you with that confidence. And that imposter syndrome goes away at that point. I, I find with my students when, when they finally get those first people in and they, and they get them some results. I think we, we definitely need to talk about, okay, I have this niche I need to get clients, but no, nobody knows I exist yet. Right.

And so your strategy is, is using content and social media to do that. Give us a quick rundown, cuz I know this is what you teach this is in your programs and, and whatnot and I appreciate you sharing everything you are sharing today. How would a person who’s just starting out, like which platform would you choose and how would you utilize that to get people, to find you and, and interested in your program?

Vanessa Lau: So I really recommend Instagram and the reason why is not necessarily, because I think Instagram is the best. The reason why is because I think Instagram is the easiest platform for you to get clients on.

Especially if you are just starting out. The reason why I say this is because I can’t at this moment in time of this recording of the podcast, I cannot think of any other platform that has all the features and capabilities that Instagram has. You’re essentially able to attract, nurture and convert all in one.

What I mean by that is name another platform where you can not only do photos and videos, but you can also DM send voice notes, hop on a call like a FaceTime call, go live, do all these different things. Like I can’t think of another platform that has those capabilities. And so without leaving that platform, you’re able to do it all essentially.

Whereas let’s say with YouTube or podcasts, you know, things that I know you and I are both on. I can’t DM my listener or I can’t DM my viewer one on one. I can’t hop on a call with them directly in the platform to understand their problems even more like I know when I first started, I actually was able to not even invite me to invite people on zoom, to do a call with me.

I was like, Hey, you know what? This is a great DM conversation. Do you wanna FaceTime and talk more about your pain points? And then I close clients literally without leaving Instagram. And so that is why I recommend Instagram for people who are not only starting out, but maybe don’t have time to add on another platform.

Now, for those of the more intermediate listeners that kind of have the capacity, have the team, I like to pair Instagram with another platform that can double my traffic or get even more traffic. So for instance, for me, I pair Instagram with youTube because I feel YouTube gets me a lot of discoverability more than let’s say Instagram. And YouTube allows me to do like long form content, which allows me to build more trust with people.

Or it could be like podcast and Instagram. To me all in all I see Instagram as more of like a relationship building platform. And if you are someone who’s already doing like longer form content, whether that is YouTube, podcast, or blog writing, I also like seeing Instagram as the great way to repurpose a lot of the content that I’ve created because of all the different layouts and formats that I can use on Instagram, whether it is carousel reels photo stories, live streams, all of those things. So to answer your first question, that’s kind of like why I choose Instagram for a lot of people.

Pat Flynn: You’ve made a great case for it, for sure. Could you even just use Instagram without even really needing even like a website, for example, to do this kind of work?

Vanessa Lau: Yes, I think so. And I think too, one of the mistakes I made when I first started my journey of like making money online is I focus so much on my website. And I’m like, why did I do that? I think all you really need at like, at most is like a sales page maybe so that you can direct people to like a longer form page that tells you what you do.

But now fast forward to how Instagram is like today. You might even be able to get away without having a sales page. You could have like a highlight reel. That has like a bunch of slides telling people about what you offer and then you can link them to like the payment page, if you want. Or you could have, like now there’s a pin post feature on Instagram and how I leverage my pin post feature is instead of like what most people do, which is like pinning their most highly engaged with content, I actually have my pin post the first post that people see says, Start here. When they click on it, it’s like an Instagram reel of me explaining what I do, what I offer different ways to connect with me. And that way it’s a really great like directory for people to know how to leverage my YouTube channel versus my Instagram.

What offers I have, what is the best way to reach out to me? Like I have that pinned as the very first post. And so I feel over time, Instagram has just gone really good. And there’s a lot more capabilities that allow you to sell and that allow you to showcase the things that you need to show without necessarily spending time on a website.

Pat Flynn: That’s so crazy. I didn’t even think about that with the pin comment. That’s so smart. That’s so smart. It’s similar to like YouTube, how you can have like a featured video when a person goes to your YouTube page. And instead of having like a welcome to the channel, you can like, if your goal is subscribers, you can put the video that gives you the most subscribers or the one that best showcases your programs or kind of whatever you want there.

Wow. To do that on Instagram. I’m like looking at my phone, trying not to do this right now, but I love that as an introduction. You know, I think I’ve always steered away from Instagram, personally for like this kind of thing, because you can’t link to anything, right? Like that’s what everybody says. Like I, all I get is the link in the bio and that’s, that’s it.

Vanessa Lau: No, Pat, you can do so much. Can I tell you what you can do?

Pat Flynn: Please tell me, blow my mind.

Vanessa Lau: Okay. So a few, like a few like standard things, obviously like I hope that most people know this cuz it’s been out for a while. So don’t think that I’m outdated, just know that I wanna share it in case people don’t know, but like you don’t need 10 K followers anymore to put a link in your stories back then you needed 10 K to swipe up in order to like access anything.

And then you had to really rely on your link in bio. Now anyone can add a link, but the second thing, and this is really more for like intermediate people maybe. But one thing that has worked really well for me and I’ve made over $60,000 in three weeks just by doing this is actually leveraging ManyChat. So ManyChat is like an automated DM automation type of platform.

But what you can do with ManyChat is you can set it up so that for a specific post that you did, you can say, Hey, comment, the word, passive income, or like DM me the word, passive income. And I’ll send you a link to my program to my lead magnet to whatever, and people will just drop the keyword and it’ll automatically send in the link and you can set up that automation.

And so how I was able to make 60 K in three weeks just by doing this without me necessarily like manually sending people a link is I created a few reels featuring my product, I’m I was selling like my social media dashboard that I created on Notion, $47 product, really like mini offer, basically, I basically did a reel of me using my product, me showing like people how to use the template.

And then my call to action was DM me the word Notion or comment, the word Notion and my assistant, my digital assistant, Betty the Bot, will send you a link to get this yourself. And two amazing things happened was number one, people actually left a comment Notion, Notion, Notion, Notion, Notion in my comment section, which boosted my engagement, it looked like I ended up getting like 500 comments because people were literally writing Notion as a keyword.

And then the second awesome thing is my bot. And because I was transparent that it was a bot, I was like, Hey Betty the Bot , my digital assistant will send you this link, Betty the Bot is gonna take care of you, Betty the Bot send them the DM with the link. And they were able to buy the product automatically without me even needing to serve them.

And it was awesome because what I liked about this was the fact that I was upfront that, Hey, a bot is gonna be sending you this link. Her name is Betty. And it’s so funny because people DM back. They’re like, thanks, Betty the Bot wink. And it was just so cute. And so I was like mind blown because I was able to see all the sales, like all of a sudden come up on a $47 product.

Because I used Instagram reels, and this leads into like my next point that I wanna talk about, which is like, how do you create content that allows you to be seen on Instagram? What type of content you create? Yeah. Yeah. You know how the Instagram algorithm works right now is it’s really favoring Instagram reels.

So even for me, when I look at my analytics, you know, most of my reach comes from Instagram reels, and most of that reach is like non followers. And because I promoted my service or my product in a very non promotional way. It was more just like showcasing, like, Hey, here’s how I map out my content and me using the product that I created.

You know, I was able to get a lot of eyeballs on that to non followers. So people who didn’t even follow me bought the product too, because it was like a $47 offer was kind of a no brainer product. And so I just wanna share that there are so many ways to share links without necessarily being like check out the link in my bio.

Pat Flynn: Okay. Yeah. You totally. You now I’m looking at my phone’s a little bit closer to me now, because as soon as we hang up, I’m gonna start looking at it. So ManyChat is the tool. Yes. I’ve heard that before people were using it for Facebook messenger, but now Instagram it’s that totally makes sense. You’re providing value upfront.

You’re giving like a template or something away for free. People comment, something. Probably figure out in the back end of ManyChat so that when that happens on that post, Betty will send a DM. And then the link is in the DM. You can link however many times of whatever you want in DMS. But like, again, it’s not just about the profile link anymore. That that’s fantastic. I, I love that.

Vanessa Lau: Yeah. It’s like setting up an email automation, you know, and it’s really cool cuz if you actually go into ManyChat, you have the whole inbox there too. So like I’ll have my team look at the inbox and you can spark a conversation based on all the people that ask for the link.

So it’s, it’s kind of like an inbox management as well for your DMS. And so just sharing that as a little hack that has actually helped me money, like helped me make money, which is awesome.

Pat Flynn: Thank you. Role model right, right here before we finish up. So that was more of an intermediate sort of tip, let’s go back to the beginner who’s just getting started on Instagram or is finally gonna start taking it, you know, seriously with business in mind, but wants to do it right. How are they gonna get exposure for the thing that they are now claiming, that they know a lot about, or are an expert in, they don’t have any authority in, in that space yet? How might one use Instagram or what parts of Instagram would you use to do that? What would the content be? Because before even a program comes into play, you still have to build authority.

Vanessa Lau: Yes, absolutely. When it comes to content strategy and how that like intertwines with leveraging Instagram, for me, how I like to see it is I see three objectives.

I wanna attract someone. I wanna nurture them and I wanna convert them to buying my offers or being a part of like my gated stuff. And so with that in mind, I start thinking about, okay, what, first of all, what features on Instagram do I need to leverage to meet that objective? So let’s say I’m in a season of like, Hey, I really wanna grow my platform.

I really want to attract people. What feature should I be using for that? Well, right now, how the Instagram landscape is working is okay, reels is a really great place for me to focus my efforts on if the goal is to attract non followers, because there are, you know, reels is the only place where there’s like that actual dedicated explore feed, very similar to TikTok.

And most times you’re gonna be served content from people you don’t even follow. And so I will think about, okay, I’m gonna use a real strategy in order to attract people. And later on, I’ll talk about like the specific content to create. In terms of features. The next thing I think about, okay, well, it’s really important for me to also nurture the person that ends up becoming a follower.

And so even though feed posts like carousel, don’t actually reach a lot of people. Don’t specifically don’t reach a lot of like non followers. They mostly reach the people who already follow you. I still like to leverage carousel posts, to like have texts that kind of expands more on maybe a more niche topic or maybe like a more specific topic.

Like I still have that going on. And I also like to think about like accessibility as well, just because reals is popping off right now, and this is a mistake that a lot of people make is you really wanna diversify your content for accessibility. The person who’s watching a video might not be the same person who likes to read or might not be the same person who likes to just like, listen or look at photos. Right. And so I always try to diversify that.

Now, going back to the whole nurturing thing, you know, I’ll do carousel posts where people can swipe through my thoughts. But I’ll also say, okay, well, I won’t need to make sure I show up on stories as well to nurture people for them to understand like the behind the scenes of what I do or learn more about me as a human being, or maybe create that like intimacy with my audience, because your stories will never reach people that don’t follow you yet.

It’s always gonna reach people who already follow you. So that’s within that nurture bucket. I also think about like DMS as well, making sure I, you know, just be a human, communicate. I know when we spoke at the event and you spoke on stage, one of the strategies you shared was your What’s up? strategy, where you will go on a 30 minute walk and you will look at your recent activity and just send a DM to all the people who recently followed you or all the recent people who recently commented on your stuff, check out their profile and you would literally send them a video like, Hey Doug, cute dog on your profile. I’m so glad that you were like a part of my community. Let me know how I can help you.

Like to me, that’s nurture. That’s like taking care of the people who have opted in to see your content. And I think your what’s up strategy really inspired me to even double down on that nurture piece of my entire social media strategy.

Awesome. Now the next stage two is like, okay, convert. Okay. Now you need to make sure that people are buying your stuff. So your content, you can use reels or carousel or whatever, but you have to talk about your product. Like you have to talk about what you offer here and there, like once a week, talk about like share your client testimonials, share your social proof, really create content that tackles some objections that people might have, make sure that your call to action is actually linking to your product or to your offer.

You might not get the engagement, but that’s not the goal. The goal is for you to get sales. And so your metric of success is different. And so making sure you have understood in terms of the features that you might want to use. And from a conversion standpoint, too, it’s about optimizing your link in bio it’s about making sure you are actually having sales conversations in the DMs.

If it’s okay for me to like jump into the actual content. Could I do that?

Pat Flynn: Yeah, let’s finish with that.

Vanessa Lau: Yeah. Perfect. So how I like to see it. So now at this point I’ve broken down. Okay. You know that on Instagram or any social media platform, this is really like, could be anything, but Instagram is the perfect place to do it.

Cuz there’s so many features that can fill all three buckets of attract, nurture, convert. But when it comes to the actual content strategy, I like to think about the buyer’s journey. So I like to think about it as okay. Someone who I’m trying to attract, they don’t know I exist. They are unaware of my product.

They’re unaware of me and they’re are likely unaware that they even have a problem that needs to be solved. So what type of content, whether it’s reals or carousel, doesn’t matter now we’re just talking about pure content strategy. What type of content do I need to get them to be aware when they’re at the stage of unawareness?

Okay. So maybe I need to start creating content. That’s more foundational. So let’s say my niche that I decided to niche down on was Instagram. I might create a reel that says, Hey, what is Instagram? And why do you need to use it for your business? That’s like foundational knowledge of someone who may not even been aware that they needed to use Instagram for their business.

Now I’m creating content using Instagram reel that will reach people who don’t follow me yet for them to understand the importance of Instagram. Right. Makes sense. Or, Hey, here are five mistakes that you are unknowingly making when it comes to Instagram. That’s something that might bring someone to a point of awareness of like, holy, I didn’t even know that I was even making this mistake, or I didn’t even know that these features even existed.

For you, you almost gave up on Instagram because you’re like, oh, well I can only do link in bio, but I’m like, yo. You could do ManyChat and you’re like, oh, my phone is closer to me now because I want to like, re-look at my strategy. Or even me telling you like, Hey, yo, did you know, you can like ping your post to your Instagram so that people know about your offers.

Now you’re like a believer and now you might be like, Hey, I’m aware that I have a problem. I have a gap now, cuz I’m not doing this. So I wanna follow Vanessa to learn more. So that’s kind of like the stage of content that I like to create for that person who is unaware they even have a problem.

Naturally. If someone has a problem, they’re gonna wanna dive deeper in understanding this problem or solving it. So a good example I like to share is let’s say now, you know, you have a cough. Okay. You’re coughing. You have a problem. You might be like, okay, but I don’t know if it’s COVID. I don’t know if it’s strep throat.

I don’t know if it’s just a minor cold, I’m gonna do even more research to figure out this problem that I have and actually putting a name to it and then also to solve it. And so the next stage of my content strategy, whether that’s usually this is like maybe the nurturing stage is I’ll start creating content around symptoms.

So calling out symptoms, so like. If you are not seeing the amount of, if you are not getting sales for your business, here’s probably a reason why it’s because your Instagram isn’t ABC, like it’s really like calling out those symptoms, or I might say, Hey, here are five ways on how you can increase the amount of followers that you get on your Instagram.

Those are the types of content pieces I might create so that people have that quick win. And they’re like, Ooh, okay. I’m slowly realizing that I do have a problem. I have a very clear understanding of what this problem is now. And now I’m like getting these quick wins from Vanessa to solve them.

Then at that point, the next stage is consideration. Like, okay, technically anyone can talk about how to do certain things. And there are a million other people teaching Instagram on social media. Why Vanessa specifically, why should I keep listening to her? And so for me, I will shift gears and this is where stories could be really cool. Or even just like carousel posts or even reels doesn’t really matter.

But it’s like, or maybe even a live stream could be great too, for this is I start creating content around my personal experience that really highlights my authority. So for instance, I’ll be like how I grew my program to 7 million with a $0.99 product. Or lessons that I learned from, I don’t know, being on YouTube or I might even do content just around my frameworks.

Like here is my content matrix of how I organize content specifically. And so from there, people are like, whoa, this is something that I can only get from Vanessa from her unique experience. I mean, yes, I could listen to Pat. I could listen to Sean. I could listen to whoever, but Vanessa’s really showing me that she has some really unique method.

A really unique like IP intellectual property that I can’t get anywhere else. So now I have to make a decision. Do I wanna buy her product or not? And that’s where your promotional content comes into play. Because at that point, it’s about talking about your offer, talking about like the features and benefits, creating content that really tackles some objections.

So for instance, at that point, when someone’s considering to buy your product, they’re like maybe it’s too expensive or maybe now’s not the right time. Maybe I don’t have enough time. So now I will literally go on Instagram stories or go on the DMs or really create content around why now is the best time to get on Instagram or, you know, five ways on how I was able to afford my first coaching program.

And this is what I did to do that, or, Hey, let me like share some social proof and some testimonials of my clients who got wins on this program, despite having similar objections. So those are the types of content pieces I would create for that stage. And what you can do in your content strategy is every week, like first week could be content around getting people aware that they even have a problem because they’re unaware.

Second week could be, Hey, now I’m going to talk about like, all my content is gonna be centered around just like doubling down on that pain point and giving some quick wins. Okay. Great. Third week of the month, I am going to talk about just like my personal methodologies, my templates, my frameworks, my IP that I’ve created.

Okay. And then fourth week, I’m gonna talk about just like my program. And so maybe you’ll see a lift in sales in the last week of the month because at that point, you’ve got a 30 day attract, nurture, convert strategy that you’ve built on. Long winded answer, but I hope it helps just little mini, mini training.

Pat Flynn: Thank you for that. I was about to say it does feel like a little bit of a training that we got a preview of I know what you offer in your programs and such, and you’ve got some incredible success stories coming out of, of your programs and such. So first of all, I just wanna thank you so much for your time and, and over delivering truly so much here for people. I’m inspired.

I think the audience is inspired as well. I know that people will wanna follow you on social. Where can, where can they go and, and follow you there?

Vanessa Lau: Yeah, I mean, my YouTube channel has so much great content around Instagram, YouTube. You can follow me on Instagram as well. I’d love to connect. Those are the top two places that you can find me hanging out in.

Pat Flynn: And what’s your handle?

Vanessa Lau: Just search up Vanessa Lau on YouTube and then on Instagram. It’s

Pat Flynn: Nice. Vanessa. This has been incredible. Thank you so much for delivering, just like you did on stage at, at Sean’s event. And I’m just really excited to dive even deeper into your content.

And I do agree your YouTube channel is just a plethora of really good information, especially, and you, you like to keep things fresh, you keep us up to date on what’s happening and, and I appreciate those tips and I’ll definitely put them to good use. So hopefully hopefully make you proud.

Vanessa Lau: Great. Thank you so much for having me, Pat. It was a pleasure.

Pat Flynn: Right, I hope you enjoy that interview with Vanessa. I absolutely loved speaking to her and I know you will too. If you go and check her out on YouTube and or Instagram, Vanessa Lau, check her out. She’s awesome.

Thank you so much for listening to this episode, we also have more links available at the show notes area. Would you can find at and Vanessa, thank you so much for your time today. Appreciate you and hope we can meet together in person again and speak on stage. If you ever get a chance to see Vanessa speak on stage even though she hasn’t done it very often, she’s amazing. So go and check her out, Vanessa Lau.

Thank you so much for being here today. Appreciate you for listening all the way through, and I look forward to serving you in this upcoming Friday’s episode. Make sure you don’t miss out. So if you haven’t done so already hit that subscribe button. We’ll see you soon.

Cheers, peace out and as always Team Flynn for the win. Have a good one.

Thanks for listening to the Smart Passive Income Podcast at I’m your host Pat Flynn. Our senior producer is Sara Jane Hess. Our series producer is David Grabowski. And our executive producer is Matt Gartland. Sound editing by Duncan Brown. The Smart Passive Income Podcast is a production of SPI Media. We’ll catch you in the next session.

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