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EPISODE 004: RACHEL PEDERSEN ON GROWING HER ONLINE BUSINESS USING THIS ONE STRATEGY

Rachel Pedersen is the CEO and owner of her social media marketing agency. She is a full-time Social Media Consultant and Strategist and is the founder of Social Media United. Rachel is known as a leading authority on storytelling through social media and Facebook ads.

In this episode, Rachel and I chat about mindset, community, strategies, and funnels.                          

"Scale the unscalable. There are 9 out of 10 chances that your competition is too lazy, busy or unmotivated to build relationships with people. If you implement the hidden funnel and build really strong relationships, no one is ever going to take or touch your business."

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Topics Discussed In This Episode:

  • The biggest challenge she has faced building her online business
  • The mindset shift that helped her go from being a struggling single mother to a marketing strategist known by many
  • What she has done to build her community and what she continues doing
  • One strategy that has really helped her grow her business
  • How to understand what her community is really looking for

Full Transcript


Chrys: Hey guys, welcome back to another episode of hack your online business. Now today I have the queen of social media here on the show with me, Rachel Pederson. What's up Rachel?

Rachel: Hi Chrys. I'm so happy to be here. You're one of my favorite people to talk to.

Chrys: Awesome. I love that. I want to be your favorite people to talk to cause you are one of my favorite person to talk to. So for those of you who don't know Rachel Pederson, she is the CEO and owner of her social media marketing agency. She's a full time social media consultant and strategist and she is the founder of Social Media United. Now Rachel is also known as a leading authority on storytelling through social media and Facebook ads.

 And today we're going to be talking about mindset, about community, about strategies and about funnels. So Rachel, you were a college dropout who became a single mother on welfare, and this was a few years ago, right?

Rachel: Man, just six years ago, which is crazy.

Chrys: That's so crazy. Now you took on your first client in 2014 and in one year you grew your online following to over 40,000 people. You are absolutely the bomb. You founded an online university for social media managers, you've scaled your social media management company to over six figures. That's an incredible journey that you've been through.

And I'm sure the past few years haven't been as easy as it seems on your social media. Cause I've been following you and I see that you've been to Disneyland, I'm seeing that you've been doing a lot of awesome stuff, but I know it isn't as easy as it seems. So what has been the biggest struggle or challenge starting or growing your business?

Rachel: Ooh, okay. So the struggles from zero to six figures were very different than the struggles that we've experienced over the last couple of years. So I've been doing this just for three years now and we're at a $2 million run rate between our businesses, which is crazy. So it's very, very intense. And you know, I always encourage people to recognize that what you see on social media is not always the full picture. Like that's a highlight reel. And it's not that people are trying to deceive other people, but nobody needs to air all their dirty laundry on social.

But honestly, there has been so many challenges over the last two years and especially in the last year. I had my third third child this year, so most of this year was spent being pregnant and then with a newborn. And yet we've had more growth than we've ever had in our business.

And so one of the big challenges that I come up against all the time is that when people think that it's all perfectly balanced and no, it's not. There are days and there are weeks that are just intense focus weeks, and my biggest challenge is when I'm there, I don't feel like the world's greatest mom. And I'm glad that I have great family to support my kids during those times.

But then when it's time for family, of course, business, the focus isn't there. And so one of my biggest challenges has been trying to figure out how to be fully present no matter where I am at. That's been a serious challenge.

Chrys: How do you balance being a mom with three kids running a business and your husband works with you. So how do you balance this whole family and work thing?

Rachel: You know, it kind of looks more like a complicated tango. It's not like yoga, it's more like a crazy drunken Irish dance. One moment you're literally cleaning up spit up cause your kids just spit up all over your shirt, and then the next minute you're on video masterclass for Clickfunnels. So it's really funny and I'm glad sometimes that people can't see what's happening behind the scenes.

This is actually kind of a funny story. I haven't shared this before, but when I was pregnant, this is a perfect example of what balance looks like. I was so sick, so I would be taking a call, I would mute the call and I would go and be sick in the sink and then I'd get back to the call and answer questions. And that's exactly what it looks like. It's one minute you have to transition from mom to business owner.

But what I do like is that I'm able to, for example, my daughter had a fun run at school the other day and I was able to schedule time out and make sure that I was able to make it and be there and not every parent can say that. So that's why I love the freedom and flexibility that this business does give me.

Chrys: You've said that having the right mindset was kinda how you made the shift from being a struggling single mom to a marketing strategist now known by many. So can I just tell us more about that shift in mentality?

Rachel: Oh yeah. Mindset is everything. It's so funny cause I had never really known about the power of mindset until I discovered struggle. And that's when someone that I really respect, Cat Howell, we had an amazing conversation and I was like, I'm struggling and I don't know what to do. And she said, you need to look at your mindset girl. Like what happened? What shook your confidence, what ruined your mindset?

And I was like, mindset. I haven't really thought about that before. And that's when I discovered that mindset is legitimately the number one most important thing that we can work on as entrepreneurs because the game is all mental. Making money is easy, building a business is easy. It's the mindset and the personal development that are challenging.

Chrys: I love that you mentioned that because a lot of people, they associate mindset with being this whole woo stuff and they are just like, I'm not going to focus on mindset. I'm focused on hustling hard all day. So I'm just glad you mentioned the word mindset. And I know you've been told no many times in your career. So what are the common things that people were saying no to you, Rachel?

Rachel: Everything. Oh my gosh. Like even in the beginning people were like, are you sure you want to do this? You shouldn't be working so much. This isn't gonna work. You're a mom. One of the big ones, and this was crazy as well, I was pregnant. People were like, are you sure you should really speak at Funnel Hacking Live? You're pregnant. Take it easy. Like go put your feet up. And you know, the cool thing is Russell didn't have that opinion at all when I told him, Oh no, I'll be there and I'm speaking. Like I'm going to have maybe a baby on stage, but I'm going to be there.

He believed me and I proved that to be true. But people have said no to me all along the way and it's interesting cause one of the hardest no has been in my personal life. So six years ago I was a single mom struggling on welfare and today we own a multi-million dollar business.

But for example, we want to get a house and it's not as easy as people would think because we have to go through the process of building our credit and making sure that the actual income that we take from the business is the right amount for the house we want to get. And so we were turned down for houses so many times over the last couple of years and I was so frustrated.

And then that's where the mindset kind of came into play because it's like I can sit here and hear no over and over and over again and just feel like beat up and I'm never going to get this dream house. Or I can say, okay, why is it a no, tell me all the reasons why it's a no.

And of course you get the whole laundry list of reasons and it's like, okay, now we're going to go down the list and work on every single one of those until it's a yes. So that was a huge part of the mindset is why is this a no and what can I do to break down those objections?

Chrys: I am just kind of wondering have you ever accepted it and just went, all right, someone said no, I'm just not going to do it.

Rachel: More so in the beginning. It's really interesting, but most of the time I get yeses now if that makes sense. Like now that people know that I mean what I say and I'm going to go for what I dream, I don't get as many nos. But when I do it's pretty easy. I just present a case to show people, well this, I understand how you would see it this way, but I'm going to present a different set of facts and data and figures and show you a different perspective. And that's been honestly a huge game changer.

Chrys: I love that train of thought because a lot of my listeners listening in, they might be at the beginning stage of their business and they have probably been told no all the time because they have not built their reputation. They are not known by many just like you are right now. I love that you said that in the beginning you got more nos and now you're getting more yes. 

So that's a great insight into how and why people are saying no to others. So Rachel, let's move on and let's talk about how you grow your online community to over 40,000 in 12 months. So I know you had a post that went viral on social media, but were there things that you were doing after that viral post to continue to build that community?

Rachel: Yeah, it's interesting because the viral posts helped my Facebook page to grow, but it only grew it to about 9,000 followers. But it did help my Facebook group to grow to a couple thousand. So it wasn't the big massive boost that everyone thinks it might be. It was more of a confidence thing for me. It showed me what's happening with social media. And so after that, I wasn't done. Like that wasn't a magic bullet to grow a community.

Now I have served over 5,000 students, I have 20,000 people in my free group and then I have a collective couple hundred thousand followers on all the other platforms. And so after that, I realized nothing ever is just given to you. Platforms don't just grow, you have to be there and be present and build relationships.

And as crazy as it sounds, my Twitter account even, no matter what I'm posting, I also need to go in and engage with people otherwise it's nothing. It's just a broadcast and that doesn't relate to anybody.

Chrys: Can you walk us through specific strategies that you did to grow that community from that 9,000 to 40,000 that you have right now?

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. So one of the things that I did was in the early stages especially, I replied to every single question and yes, it's as exhausting as it sounds. No, I didn't have a VA doing it for me. I stayed up late, I responded to questions, got to know people, recognize their faces and I remembered what they were talking about. And it's so tough because it's something that's unscalable. You know what I mean? We all want automation, we all want [inaudible].

But then I look at one of my heroes in business, Brian Chesky, the founder of Airbnb. And when they started Airbnb, they did the unscalable. They didn't create something that was created for the masses. They made it the absolute best that they possibly could, and they went personally and stated every single one of the houses, they went and photographed the houses, the founders of the company. And so when he shares, we scaled the unscalable, I realized this was unscalable right now.

But what I can do is I can build this really strong culture, one at a time, one relationship at a time. And people would say, Rachel, that's not sustainable. But it's like, okay, well I'm just going to do it right now. We'll figure out what comes in the future. And what I did find is that it was able to be scaled because when I built that relationship culture, suddenly other people started to kind of pick up the mantle from there and say, I'm going to handle it from here and started doing the same thing. So it became like this amazing ripple effect.

Chrys: How long were you doing this one on one replies and reach out?

Rachel: So long. To this day, I still reply to a lot of the comments that I get. I reply to a lot of questions every single day. I reply on Twitter, and this is me personally, not including my team. I reply on Twitter to people. I like their tweets, I tweet at influencers. I also respond to questions. My Facebook groups, not every single one, but I'm there answering questions every day.

Occasionally I reply to emails when people ask me a question, I'll personally reply. I don't like emails, so I don't check them. But those really awesome curious people who are just, I need to know this, I'm absolutely going to reply. On my Facebook page, I actually reply to many of the comments. So I still do it quite a bit.

Chrys: That is absolutely crazy because I know a lot of people, yes we do the things that do not scale at the beginning, but as businesses continue to grow, eventually the founders or the owners will start to delegate stuff to the team and you've got a huge team.

Have you ever thought about, Hey, you know what? I just don't want to deal with this anymore or I don't have time for this anymore and my assistant is going to take over the one-on-one replies.

Rachel: You know, there's definitely temptation with that. I'm just going to be honest. But my big thought is if something comes from me personally, I want it to actually come from me. So if there's a message that's replied to me, if someone asks a question in a community and I reply, it's me. I don't ever want someone to speak out pretending to be me. And I know that sounds interesting.

I think it's a little different than social posts, like content. I would rather not do it then have someone else do it and basically give over all of my business to someone else and saying like, I trust you with however you're going to reply. That just, I don't know. There's something about it being me that I really, really liked.

Chrys: Guys do things that do not scale, especially if you're at the beginning of your online business and be personal. If you are replying one-on-one, take Rachel's advice and be personal. Try to reply all of the replies by herself. Don't get your assistant to do it for you. This is going to create this personal relationship with your audience.

Rachel, my friend showed me a video of you at Funnel Hacking Live 2018 and I want to talk about this because you mentioned that it is important to understand people and know what they need. So I want to talk about that because I'm beginning to do more of that myself with my own community. So what did you do back then to understand what your community needed?

Rachel: Silly as this sounds, a big part of the process was just asking people questions. Oftentimes I think when you're someone who grows a platform or you got influence or followers, it's easy to assume what people need. And a lot of people aren't willing to slow things down and actually discover what people are truly in need of.

And there's two different sides of it. There's what people want and what people say they want is oftentimes not even close to what they actually need.

So what I like to do is I say, okay, what is it that they're saying that they want and what can I infer from that as what they actually need? So for example, if someone were to say, I can't close sales for the life of me, or I can't charge what I'm worth, they're like, I want a masterclass on how to price it or how to kill objections.

And it's like, okay, so that's what they want. But just as we talked about before, what do they actually need? They need the mindset that they're worthy, they need the mindset that they can charge. So I like to kind of bundle the two together. What is it that they're saying that they want and what is it that I can infer from it they actually need?

Chrys: So how can my listeners dig deeper and find out what their audience truly need? Is it a matter of running a survey? Is it a matter of speaking to them one on one? What do you recommend is the best course of action here?

Rachel: You know, one of my favorite ways to do this is actually to go on Facebook lives and start to talk about a particular topic. And when I start to talk about the particular topic, especially like I said on Facebook live, I'll say like, I want to invite your questions or like, what are some of the big things that you're coming up against? And it invites a community to converse, which is really, really cool. So you can say comment below and share with me when it comes to fill in the blank. What are some of the big things that you hit? Like what are your roadblocks?

And as much as surveys are awesome and great, surveys, I'm going to be honest, people don't tell the truth on surveys. Everyone wants to make it seem like their life and business are put together. I am not against ask campaigns, but I oftentimes find that the best things are found actually in the trenches.

So getting on a live and asking people, but then also if you have a community, start to look and see what they're talking about. Like what are the posts that you always see? Is it a fear of discovery calls? Is it a fear of parenting and balancing being an entrepreneur? What are the conversations you see going on? We spend a lot of time researching what people are talking about because what people are talking about, you can honestly look and see what they, what they're needing more than anything.

Chrys: I absolutely agree with Facebook live videos. I think they are the best way for people to just share their thoughts with you live in person. Guys if you aren't sure what to do with Facebook live videos, go check out the second interview that we have of Stephanie Liu who is literally the queen of all Facebook live videos and streams.

Now, Rachel, how did understanding your people and your needs actually help you to scale your company?

Rachel: Oh my gosh, it was huge. I mean it's really funny because sometimes we as entrepreneurs think that we have all the answers. I mean we're the smartest people in the world, right? Like we have all the answers. And so because of that, because they're smart, because they come up with ideas, we sometimes honestly just give people what we think is the right answer. And when you actually slow down and listen to people, it's a totally different outlook. It's a totally different outcome.

And so I want you to think about like a time when you went to the doctor and we've all had good doctor experiences and we've all had bad doctor experiences where you're like, I never want to see that doctor again. I think about one where it was like I was trying to explain to the doctor what's going on. And they were completely brushing off everything I was saying because they had already decided what I needed before we started talking. You know, the second I said X , Y, and Z are my symptoms, they were like, Oh, it's this. And I was like, but can we also look at this because... nope, nope, it's this.

And when we get into that mode where we're not actually listening, we aren't prescribing what people are truly needing a solution to. So on both sides of my business, both the education and the client side, it's pretty simple. I ask questions, I listen, and I create a solution for their problems.

Chrys: Rachel, you mentioned about this hidden funnel that I want to talk about because I know it's clearly something that we need to know. So it has made you more than $200,000 with this hidden funnel. Can you tell us more about this secret funnel that not many people know off?

Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. So the hidden funnel, if I were to just limit it to 200,000 I think I would be underestimating what it's done for my business because my belief is that the majority of my business has come from this hidden funnel. If you search for my agency online, we don't have a website, we don't have a funnel, we don't have any formal case studies. Isn't that crazy? And yet we do phenomenal numbers and we get great results for our clients and we've got a team. And how does that make sense, right?

Well the answer comes all back to the relationship funnel. The hidden funnel is the relationship funnel. And so often people aren't willing to reply to messages or connect with somebody. It's so interesting. But oftentimes people come to me and they say, my agency wasn't listening to me or I reached out to four different agencies and no one responded. And people aren't willing to put in the relationship work.

So it kind of comes back to what we were talking about earlier, but the hidden funnel is the part of your funnel that can't be tracked by metrics and you will never be able to see the ROI in terms of a spreadsheet. You're never gonna be able to go into your spreadsheet and say, okay, well this is our conversion rate from the relationship funnel.

But when I think about it, I've spoken at events where I didn't pitch anything, didn't do any lead gen, I just spoke at the event. And then after I spoke, I connected with a ton of people. And a great example of this is an event that I just spoke at and after the event, we are in the process of securing three major clients from that event. So even though no, I didn't teach from stage, people might say, yeah, but what's the ROI of a speaking engagement? I don't know.

I mean I look at the relationship and then I look at what was generated afterwards just from connecting with people. And literally we're going to bring in five, maybe even six figures worth of business over the next year just from that relationship funnel from that event.

Chrys: I can absolutely concur of this. I mean I've got a couple of examples over here guys. So when I used to work in the advertising agency, we've had clients who would come over to our agency only because the previous agency gave them horrible relationship management. They were nice, they weren't great. So they would come over to our agency just because we were the nicer guys.

Then another example I've got is I just spoke at an event and just like what Rachel said, the true ROI at the end of the day was the relationships that we build because they eventually, some of them would become clients. At the end of the day, relationship is so important. Building a one on one relationship and as we talked about earlier in this podcast, that one on one touch, a human touch, going live on Facebook are so important for your business. Rachel, I know that you've got a new book coming out. Is that true?

Rachel: That is very true.

Chrys: Oh my God. How do you have time for all that stuff?

Rachel: Oh my gosh. I'm going to be honest like I need to put a big wager on it and I haven't done this yet. I need to give myself like a deadline cause I got the first six chapters done and then it was a crazy month of travel and I didn't make the progress I wanted to on the book during all of that travel. So it's not always, everyday I'm sitting down typing out, you know, a thousand, 2000, 5,000 words. It's more after everything else is finished. But I'm so excited about the book because it's going to be called "I'm the boss".

Chrys: You are the boss. Rachel, you are.

Rachel: I'm the boss!

Chrys: Yes you are.

Rachel: And the foreword is written by Russell Brunson. So I'm so excited to bring it to the world. But it's one of those things where I have to decide every single day. Am I going to spend my evening working on the book or am I going to spend my evening with my family? And based on how busy our business has been, it's been family in the evenings. That's what my priority is.

But that being said, I'm committing to waking up earlier and starting to work on my book again every single day. It is a grueling process. Chrys, have you written a book?

Chrys: No, but I've been thinking about it, but I just don't know where to find a time. But now having spoken to you, I'm like, wait a minute, Rachel has three kids. I have none. What's my excuse? But what made you decide to create a book?

Rachel: Ooh, I mean, so many things. I just found the other day on my profile a note from seven years ago where I was talking about writing a book, and it was all about how I wanted to write a book and I wanted it to be a New York times bestselling book. I've always wanted to write one. And so it's not a matter of wanting to write a book cause I always had that desire. It's more a matter of I need to get this first book done because I literally have 30 book ideas that are all sitting and waiting.

I've always known in my heart that I'm a writer and I've always known I was supposed to write. In fact, Chrys, it actually goes all the way back to when I was in private school and the teacher would assign us an assignment, like I want you to write a two or three page story. And I would write 26 page stories. And my teacher was like, okay, just so you know, like this is great and I'm glad you're passionate. I'm done grading after the first three pages. I might read it, but I might not.

And so I would literally write these entire in-depth stories from a very young age. And so writing is something I identify with so strongly. It's not a matter of if it's a matter of when and how many.

Chrys: Have you ever considered a career in writing in that case?

Rachel: Ooh, you know, I'll be totally honest. I think that when it comes to writing, what I love about books is the ability to get books into the hands of people who need to read it. So for me, everything in my career is going to stem around building a platform so that I can impact with my books.

Chrys: Once you are out and done with your book, please let us know. Let my listeners know, because we need to grab that book. Is it going to be on Amazon? How is it going to be?

Rachel: It is absolutely going to be on Amazon. Oh yeah. It's going to be everywhere. You'll see it. You're not gonna be able to turn around twice without seeing an advertisement.

Chrys: That's a good one. Rachel, leave us with your final tip on hacking our online business.

Rachel: Ooh, the ultimate hack, and this is kind of crazy because this leaves your business unhackable by competition, is like Brian Chesky shares: to scale the unscalable. But the crazy thing is if you look at your competition, there's a nine out of 10 chance that they are too lazy, busy, unmotivated, not caring enough to build relationships with people. So if you implement the hidden funnel and you build really strong relationships, no one is ever going to be able to take your business, touch your business, your competition is irrelevant.

Chrys: Rachel, that is a perfect way to close out this episode. I cannot thank you enough for providing so much valuable information today. Now before we go Rachel, where can my listeners learn more about you?

Rachel: Easiest place to learn more about me is on my website. It's rachelpederson.com, all Es and a D in my last name and I look forward to everyone who listens to this episode, because Chrys, honestly, everything you do is excellent and so I'm sure that people are like excited for every episode, but thank you so, so much for having me.

Chrys: No thank you so much and thanks guys for spending time with me and Rachel. Head on over to hackyouronlinebusiness.com. You can find the show notes, the links and everything that we just talked about. Thanks Rachel, it has been awesome having you share your knowledge with us today.

Rachel: Thank you so much Chrys.

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