About This Episode
June Bolneo is the Founder of The Digital Workforce, a company that teaches people how to shift their careers online so they can become location independent. She's looking to monetize her company, but she's having a hard time doing that. She also currently works a full-time job separate from The Digital Workforce, and wants to move full-time with her business. She's started to run out of hours to dedicate. How can she go full-time?
We start by analyzing June's current business structure to find out where she's spending the most time, and where she could automate or delegate to get some of that time back. We also discuss price-points, and how June might be able to more successfully monetize by reevaluating her business model and managing expectations with her clients. June creates an action plan for positioning her business so that she can get more time back and serve more people too.
What You'll Learn:
Learn how to reevaluate your business so you can scale, monetize, and go full-time as it continues to grow.
AskPat 1029 Episode Transcript
Pat Flynn: Hey, what's up everybody? Pat Flynn here, and welcome to AskPat 2.0, Episode 1029. That is a really large number now. It's crazy that we're over 1000. It's just, these numbers are very hard to say. Thank you so much for being here. We have a great conversation today with June, who's looking to shift a lot of the efforts that she has with her job-job to her side hustle, which she wants to turn a little bit more full-time and begin monetizing. Although she is a making a little bit of money there already, how can she scale that up? She almost tapping out on the hours that she has available for that, so what can she do?
Well, we're going to talk about that today and work through that with June, right after I tell you about today's sponsor, which is FreshBooks, one of my favorite companies. Seriously, not just because they have a great team there that's there to help us manage our business finances, but the software continues to improve over time. I remember when I first started, it's very different than what it is now. It's just so much easier to help you keep track of your books and your invoicing. The invoicing stuff—if you're a coach, or you do any consultations, or you have clients, or you do any billing of any kind, you can create an invoice, a professional-looking one, branded to you in less than thirty seconds. You can send it out, you get to keep track of who owes you money, who has yet to open those invoices. It's really handy, so check it out. If you want to get a thirty-day free trial, all access, to FreshBooks, and just see for yourself how awesome it is, all you have to do is go to FreshBooks.com/askpat, and just make sure you enter “Ask Pat” in the “How did you hear about us?” section. Awesome.
Now, here we go, we're gonna get into the conversation with June. Sit back and enjoy.
Hey, June, thank you so much for coming on AskPat 2.0. How are you?
June Bolneo: I'm good, thank you for having me. I'm pretty excited.
Pat Flynn: Absolutely, this is gonna be a lot of fun. Why don't you tell everybody what it is that you do?
June Bolneo: I am the founder of The Digital Workforce. My company actually teaches people how to shift their career online. Most of the customers, or the clients that we deal with, are corporate workers, office workers who normally have nine to five jobs, or it could be maybe housewives or somebody who just got laid off from a job, and they're trying to find out their way. Especially, back in the Philippines, when I was still in the Philippines, employment was really tough. What we try to do is, we teach people how to find work online so that they can be location independent, and we use their experience from the previous jobs that they have and apply it for jobs online, basically.
Pat Flynn: I love that. And how long have you been doing this for?
June Bolneo: Since 2015. It started out with just a few of my friends. Amazingly, I got so much good feedback that it scaled up from there. My friends referred their friends, and their family, and it just grew. I initially had 40 people attending my first webinar, and then from there on I had like 200 students afterwards. It's really amazing.
Pat Flynn: Nice job. Well, kudos to you for helping people in need. Because, obviously, I went through a layoff back in 2008, and I had no idea what to do. It's great that there are people out there who are helping people like that. Just hypothetically, a person watches your webinar or finds you on your website, and wants to work with you. How do you actually work with them to help them through that?
June Bolneo: Right, so the first step would usually be—people would be looking at how to work online, or how to get started. We have a three-day course, like an introduction course that you can find on our website, TheDigitalWorkforce.com, you can start for free. It's an introduction on what type of jobs are available in the market, how do they apply, how do they prepare their profile, how do they get paid, and how to make it sustainable. Because, that's the main concern for some people, “I want to go ahead and start working online,” and they have this notion that it's just like a per-gig deal, and it's not. This is something sustainable, it's something proven by myself, by my friends and my students, that you can really shift your work from a regular office job to completely remote work. You just need to know where to start, and you start by taking the free course.
Pat Flynn: Got it. And then are they becoming essentially freelancers and consultant-type people? Are you teaching them how to build an online business and sell their own things to people?
June Bolneo: Yeah, so typically they become freelancers. In the course, we give them ideas on what type of jobs they can take. Maybe, they were admin support before, like secretaries, or something where it's mainly with admin jobs, right? For someone like that, even maybe a VA type of job would be—or a VA position would be suitable for you, because you're comfortable with doing office work and research, and working on Excel, and Word, and that kind of stuff. It gives you an overview of what the positions are, so you can see yourself in them and apply for it.
Now, this could vary. For a researcher, you would look for SEO. For a graphic designer perhaps, or maybe they want to go into web development, that's possible as well. We give them this roadmap that they can take, depending on their previous experiences. Because one of the main things, I don't . . . One of the main things that they are worried about is, “This is something very new to me. I have no idea what this is,” right? Or, “where should I start, where should I go? I only know XYZ.” But, the course basically gives them an idea that, “No, you have experience. You worked for ten years as an admin support. Did you know that there's also a need for admin support online, so this is where you should apply, this is how you should prepare your profile,” and blah-blah-blah. It's basically like that.
But, to answer your question, yes. Most of them become freelancers. Then, eventually, once they get a taste of what freelancing is like, some of them build their own businesses. Maybe they would go to ecommerce and drop-shipping, or it starts off as a freelancing gig, and then they become more later on.
Pat Flynn: Nice, I like that. I usually, when people come to me and say, “Hey, what's the easiest way to get started? How can I make money now? I need money now,” freelancing is typically the answer. Then, really quick, before we dive into what you need, what is the URL, just so people know?
June Bolneo: It is TheDigitalWorkforce.com.
Pat Flynn: TheDigitialWorkforce.com. Perfect. June, what's on your mind related to all this? How can I help?
June Bolneo: Right, so I actually, my main job is a project manager, and we're handling marketing projects. I want to make this, The Digital Workforce, something that I can monetize. Right now, it really is more helping people, and that is the goal of the company. It's for us to normalize that idea that working online is just as good as working in a regular office with a company. It is a job. But, for some people—and I know this, because I've been working as freelancer, as a remote worker for six years—there is still this stigma that when people find out that you work online, it sounds so unstable. So our company's goal is to help people have the idea that this is normal. This is work, this is a job.
But, I'm having a hard time monetizing this. The free course of course is free, and we have an internship wherein people can go and apply as an intern for fifteen days, and we will guide them through the entire process. At the end of the internship they will find a suitable job for them, but this is very time consuming on my end, and also it doesn't really generate a whole lot of money for me.
Pat Flynn: Right.
June Bolneo: I feel like there is a glass ceiling for the people that I can handle. I can only handle at least fifteen to twenty interns at a time. In this way, it's very hard for me to scale up if everything is dependent on me.
Pat Flynn: Right.
June Bolneo: Aside from doing the internship, I would like to know, what are the ways that I can monetize this company, the website basically?
Pat Flynn: Are you getting paid for the interns, from the interns?
June Bolneo: Yes. When they apply, they sign up the internship, and it's not really a whole lot. They pay $99 to do the internship, and there is a module that they need to follow. It is like a course—it is a course. But it's a guided course, and I check in with the interns every day once a day, and at the end of the . . . Because, it's two weeks. I meet with them at the beginning, and at the end of the internship. There's a one-on-one call for us to evaluate when they start, and evaluate at the end of the course when they finish it. As you can imagine, I only have twenty-four hours a day.
Pat Flynn: Right.
June Bolneo: Not just that, I also have my full-time job, which is—even though it's remote, but it is the one that is supporting me. That's where my income comes, and The Digital Workforce is like my little baby.
Pat Flynn: Right. No, I know. This is cool. This is like your little side project and it is helping people, and you're already maxing out on, essentially, how many hours you can help people with.
June Bolneo: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: The internship, how many people are you helping through that right now, or typically can you handle at a time?
June Bolneo: Typically I handle fifteen interns at a time, but I would open the seats for twenty people. But so far, the patches that I've handled are either ten or fifteen, so yeah.
Pat Flynn: That's a lot for you because of just, the time.
June Bolneo: Yeah, exactly. Yeah. What I really want is for me to focus on, instead of working for other people—because I am a project manager for someone else, which is great. I'm also helping their business. It's not that I don't like my job, I actually love my job. I really do love my job.
Pat Flynn: That's great.
June Bolneo: Some people would ask, “You hate your job but you do it because it pays your bills.” For me, actually, I really like it. I'm very passionate about marketing. I would like to apply that same passion into my company because I want to build my income, generate it in my own company. That's the dilemma, I guess, that I have. How do I shift my attention from the job that I have right now, which I also love, to my company to make it stable and monetize it so that I can focus on it?
Pat Flynn: As a project manager at your current job, do you have people under you, or people who you help to do what it is that the business owner wants to do?
June Bolneo: Yes I do. I have a team of people—developers, graphic designers, and also marketing staff—that does the job. However, I'm very much hands-on with the things that we're doing because the strategy mostly comes from me.
Pat Flynn: Sure. Do you like working with other people like that? Is that what you enjoy about that job?
June Bolneo: Yeah, I do. Because of this strategy, that's mainly it. It's like, you plan out something and you set a goal and then you hit that goal and you realize, “Yeah, that was because of my strategy.”
Pat Flynn: Yeah. That's awesome.
June Bolneo: It's kind of that way. Yeah.
Pat Flynn: Yeah. Totally. That's what project management's all about. Okay, okay. Maybe people hearing this can see maybe where I'm going with it. Maybe you can too. Let's go back to the internship really quick. In the fourteen-day period that you are working with an intern, what's required of you? You said you check-in with them every day. What's taking up the time?
June Bolneo: Right. Basically, the internship goes like—you need to do time blocking. You block the time. What I mentioned, most people that I work with have full-time jobs. They have nine to five work.
Pat Flynn: Right. Right.
June Bolneo: The only way for them to actually find time to apply for a job online is if they block their hours. I'm a very big fan of time blocking and that's the reason why I can handle multiple clients at the same time,because I block my time. That's what I apply on the internship. You need to block two hours of your time every day, and I will check-in on you on those hours and see what you're doing, how are you progressing, and stuff like that. It's like monitoring them during that time block because otherwise, if you don't ask them to block the time, it will never happen because they're kind of maxed out already and working nine to five.
“I have family. I have personal things. I have blah, blah, blah.” It's very difficult for them to actually sit in the computer and work two more hours right? Unless someone is there to coach them and ask them, “Do this, and this is what you need to do during those hours.”
Pat Flynn: Got it. Monetization can obviously happen in several different ways. I think that what you're offering is great for your students. You have a free course for people who, they can't pay you yet or they're just getting started or they find you and you haven't built the relationship with them yet, but you can still help them through the free course, which is great. That's self-guided right? That doesn't require any of your time, correct?
June Bolneo: Yes. That's self-paced, self-guided. It's completely up to them.
Pat Flynn: I like that. Now, I can pay though, you to get a little bit of hand holding along the way, which, anybody who wants to go through a transition or especially those who have a pain, they would pay for that because they want answers now, they want to move quickly. And you're offering them that for $99 for the two-week period.
June Bolneo: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: Couple things here. Number one; does it have to be you that's actually helping those interns? Could it potentially be somebody that you train, or perhaps somebody you already work with, to help? That way you could . . . Again, the offerings are great.
Here's how you make more money. You either begin to automate the process that's making you money, and so you could do that in a couple ways. You do that by hiring people to do those things. I don't know if that's possible yet. If you want to do that, which it sounds like . . . this is where my question earlier ties in, which is: You just love to work with people and you can consider these people that you work with as the people under you, like you have in your job right now, who can help you with your interns, so that way you're able to scale. As you said, you've reached a ceiling. This is how you break that glass ceiling. That's one way to do it.
Number two would be to automate some of this. You could get more hours back, which would allow you to help more people. If—for example, let's say the emails that go out are automated every single day, and you only respond to people that have questions kind of thing. Using software or tools or something like that to do some of the work for you. If you don't know if that's possible, then what you do is take the lifecycle of one of these interns and write down every single step along the way, and then you might be able to start to see, “Oh, this doesn't have to be me. This can be a software. This can be something else. Oh, I don't even need to do this.” That begins to allow you to do that. The other thing is, you can increase your price point. If you're spending two hours a day with me, for fourteen days, that's twenty-eight hours. You're essentially saying that the help is only $3.50 an hour.
June Bolneo: Because it was something that was very new back then, and you had to also needed to consider my clients were actually Filipinos, and they can't afford a $300. I think that's one of the considerations that I had before, when I started it out. I have never increased the price point, but you are definitely right. That's something that I probably should.
Pat Flynn: I would double or even triple it, June. Especially now that—I mean, it sounds like the audience's is a little different now. The economics of that audience are different. What's going to happen is, for me, $99 to get daily help from somebody . . . I'm like, it's only worth $99? It must not be that valuable. Right? Where, the perceived value of what it is that you're offering could be much higher. What's really cool is like, as you increase this price point, yes, there's going to be people who won't be able to afford it. You can either send them to the free course or have something in the middle. Maybe the $99 is the automated internship where they still don't get access to you, but they get a little bit of hand-holding through the tools.
It's not self-paced now. It's now fourteen days, and now you will have this. Then at the $300 or $500 or whatever—you can experiment with the price point—that's when they get access to you and get the handholding. And now, even if you help three people at $500, you're making the same as if you were helping fifteen people at $100. Do you see?
June Bolneo: Right. Yeah.
Pat Flynn: Then you'd be able to better help them. They're more likely to follow your directions. You're going to get a better clientele that way. Now, one thing I was thinking that might be cool, is because the big promise here is that you will find a job, you'll get a gig or whatever at the other end—maybe there's a way that you could structure it such that they pay $250 up front, to work with you and then they learn the skills, they learn the process and then you also say—you say, for example, that it's like a $500 internship but you only have to pay $250 now and when you get your position, your first job, that's when the other half would be due, so that you could soften the price a little bit by doing that. And people, if they go through this transition, they get their first gig, that's huge, what you've just given them. You've given them not just their first money online, but you've given them the motivation, you've given them the tools that they can now make more jobs with and have more gigs and that . . . $99, June, it's not attracting me. Even though in most cases we assume that the cheaper it is the better, it's actually not true. Based on all that I'm saying, what might be your next steps, or where is your head at right now?
June Bolneo: Right. Yeah, that's true. I'm thinking I will have to evaluate like, how much should I increase? That's also the challenge. How much should I price it? I have thought about this several times before, and looking at other people who have the same or somewhat similar courses that I do and I . . . I think that's where I find the difficulty is. How do I price this so that it's still something affordable, but also doesn't really compromise me and my time?
Pat Flynn: Yeah. That's going to take some evaluation, like I said. I also would consider the name internship. That word makes it seem like it's not as potentially prestigious as it could be. I would play around with that. What it is you are helping people do is . . . It's so valuable. If I were to ask you, June, working with you for fourteen days, how valuable is that to the person? You likely have students that you can go back to to help you with this evaluation. “Hey, how much was this actually worth to you?”
June Bolneo: It changed lives, I can tell you that. It did.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, I would have guessed that. So you need to increase the price point, and that's going to be the easiest way to make more money and help honestly, probably, help more people, 'cause they're going to go through it better and you're going to be able to manage more people too. That's going to take some thoughts. I don't know. These pricing models are going to take a little bit of thought. I don't think we'll be able to nail it down today. But I'm encouraged that you had already thought that. I think hopefully this call is validation that that's important to think about and to make a decision on.
June Bolneo: Right. That's true. One thing that I would like to mention is that we tried—I tried handing over the hand-holding on to one of my graduates before who successfully went through the internship and got a job and everything. But the connection is very different, because when people sign up, they see me because I'm the face of the company. They look at me as, “She is the one who was promoting it,” and I'm the one who is really passionate about it. Most of the people who sign up are kind of expecting that I am the one who will be guiding them and so that attempt didn't work as well as we hoped. That's something we need to look into I guess.
Pat Flynn: Yeah, we've had conversations like this in AskPat 2.0 with others who are hiring a team, but then people don't want those people, they want the main person. In that regard, it's more of a positioning problem. If the expectation is to work with you and then they get handed off, that's never good, right? That's like, that's not what they expected. But if you up front say, “I'm going to be working with you. I have my team behind me. They have their super powers and we're going to make sure together that we can do this for you.” Then instead of you spending two hours every day with a person, or something like that, it would be just a little bit of time. They still see you, but then this teammate of yours would come in to also help, that doesn't come out of no where. They're trained to know that this person is a part of the team too. The other part of that is you're not able to help more people, because it's only you.
June Bolneo: Yeah.
Pat Flynn: This person came on board to be another you, and to allow you to help and serve more people. June, you're changing lives. You said it yourself. I think you have to solve that problem somehow.
June Bolneo: Right.
Pat Flynn: Because people need you. They need you.
June Bolneo: Yeah. I agree.
Pat Flynn: Cool. So what are some of the takeaways from today's call?
June Bolneo: I need to find some way to automate some of these tasks that I have, and to find someone that I could hand off things to that are not necessarily things I need to do myself, like the followups and sending out emails.
Pat Flynn: Wow, you said it better than me. What else?
June Bolneo: Basically, yeah, and also I think you hit the head of the nail when you said it's more about the positioning that I need to introduce my team as my team. We need to deal with things collectively rather than just me leading the way. It's us going together.
Pat Flynn: Right.
June Bolneo: So that when somebody comes on board it's not like, “Oh I need to work with June because she was the one who lead this,” blah, blah, blah, right?
Pat Flynn: Right. And I'm glad you said that, because that affects the kind of person you hire. You're not just hiring a random person who can do these tasks. You're also hiring for personality, culture, and the kind of business you want to build, so that's good.
June Bolneo: Yeah, totally, absolutely, I agree.
Pat Flynn: And then price point, right?
June Bolneo: Yes, most importantly.
Pat Flynn: Just making sure.
June Bolneo: Most importantly, the price point. I will have to evaluate that. I need to really sit down and spend some time. This is really an uncomfortable topic or subject for me, not just to discuss with someone, but to discuss with myself, because when I started the company initially I wasn't really in it for the money. That's the thing.
Pat Flynn: Right.
June Bolneo: I was doing webinars and one-on-one coaching and all this kind of stuff for free, and now I'm putting a price point in it. It makes it very kind of uncomfortable.
Pat Flynn: Here's what I would do, June. I would go to some of your graduates and see if you could chat with them and just tell them, “Hey, you know, I'm reaching a ceiling. I want to help more people. I feel like that's one of the things I need to do, is increase my price point. If I had made this $250 and you came and you saw this, now that you've gone through, do you think it would be worth it?” I guarantee you if you're changing lives like you said, you're going to have people go, “Oh, June, yes, absolutely, totally. It's worth even more than that.” That should, hopefully, encourage you to realize that you are completely underselling yourself right now.
June Bolneo: Yeah, okay. All right. I will get in touch with them.
Pat Flynn: Cool. Maybe just one or two conversations. You don't have to send an email out and schedule everybody, but just honestly, a couple conversations could do a lot of good. June, thank you so much for coming on and opening up for us and allowing us to kind of dig deep, and I think it is super helpful for a lot of people who are going through the same thing, so thank you so much, June.
June Bolneo: Thank you. Thank you so much as well.
Pat Flynn: All right, I hope you enjoyed that interview with June. June, best of luck to you. We'll follow up with you later on and see how things go, and how you can start putting a lot more effort and focus into your own stuff, which I know you enjoy, and see how you might be able to scale the monetization efforts there as well.
Hey, all of you, if you also want to get coached on AskPat, just like June did today, all you have to do is apply. I can't select everybody, I definitely can't select everybody, and I cannot promise I will select you, but you know that nothing will happen unless you take action. Most of these people didn't even expect to get selected, so that's the fun part of this. Go to AskPat.com, you can apply right there on that page. It just takes a few minutes to go through, and then I select them along with a few of my team members. And then we'll reach out to you if you are selected. You can do that, AskPat.com.
By the way, make sure you subscribe to the show if you haven't already because next week we are going to be talking with Debbie, who has a very localized sort of brick and mortar business. It's kind of brick and mortar, but a little bit online, but it's very localized. How can she scale and expand out into the online world, and have access to more of the world? We'll talk about that in next week's episode. Make sure you subscribe so you get that and the other episodes in the future delivered automatically to your device.
Hey, I just appreciate you so much for sticking around. I appreciate you. I'll see you in the next episode. Bye.
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