Music Major to Course Creator with Melissa Guller | Ep #21
Melissa Guller is joining Second Act Success to talk about her journey moving from the music industry to opening her own online business empire and excelling as an online Course Creator. Melissa is the founder of Wit & Wire, where she teaches online business owners how to scale their business through courses and through the Wit & Wire Podcast. Melissa is a master of making the tech side of running a digital business a little less intimidating and helps entrepreneurs create a profitable online business. I am not only a fan of Melissa’s work, but I am one of her students as well. This is Melissa Guller’s Second Act Success story.
CONNECT with Melissa Guller:
Instagram – @witandwire
TikTok – @witandwire
YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/c/witandwire
Website – https://witandwire.com/
SHOW NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE:
PROFILE OF SUCCESS
Degrees/Certification: BA in Music, Business, and Entertainment Industries
Career Milestones: Launching her own business Wit & Wire
Current Career Status: Business Owner
Future Plans: Continue creating more online courses to help creators build their businesses.
Advice: “You don’t have to figure it all out. You don’t have to have all the answers, but if you’re curious about starting a sewing business, maybe you start one social channel where you start offering tips and you see what people ask you about. Or maybe if you really aspire to have a YouTube channel and you enjoy being on video, just focus on that one. Or if neither of those sound good. Try putting out just a simple one page website that is barely fancy at all, where you say you’re available for hire and start telling people the first step doesn’t have to look the same for everyone, but you don’t have to do all 20 steps at once.”
01:18 – Introduction
02:29 – College and first jobs
03:21 – Family of entrepreneurs
04:32 – Working in the music industry
06:59 – Following your heart as to what you really want to do each day
08:19 – Starting with a side hustle first
09:07 – Being a leader and that leading to being an entrepreneur
10:31 – Learning from different jobs over the years
11:55 – How the online business world has evolved
12:37 – Working with Ramit Sethi
13:56 – Working at Teachable
16:58 – Podcasting
17:58 – Launching Wit & Wire
21:12 – Thread between all of her roles
23:21 – Starting her own business
24:56 – Success in her business
27:32 – Value in online courses
30:05 – 5 Fast Qs of the Week
32:19 – Connect with Melissa Guller
Second Act Success Podcast
Season 1 -Episode #21 - Music Major to Course Creator with Melissa Guller
Guest: Melissa Guller
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Melissa Guller: You don't have to figure it all out. You don't have to have all the answers, but if you're curious about starting a sewing business, maybe you start one social channel where you start offering tips and you see what people ask you about. If you really aspire to have a YouTube channel and you enjoy being on video, just focus on that one. Or try putting out just a simple one page website that is barely fancy at all, where you say you're available for hire and start telling people the first step doesn't have to look the same for everyone, but you don't have to do all 20 steps at once.
[00:00:28] Shannon: Are you at a crossroads in your career or in life? Well, don't worry because life's next chapter is waiting. This is the Second Act Success Podcast. I am your host Shannon Russell.
I'm a television producer, turned boy mom, turned business owner, podcaster, and career coach. If you are looking to start a new career or begin a fresh chapter in life, then get ready to be inspired with stories of women who have done just that. [00:01:00] We will share advice and offer steps you can take to help figure out what your true calling in life really is.
It is time to shine. So let's turn the page and get started.
Welcome to Second Act Success.
I'm squealing right now because my guest today is Melissa Guller. She is an online course creator and founder of Wit & Wire. Melissa is a master of how to create amazing digital courses. And she offers some of the best advice out there for online business owners. I should know, I am not only a fan of Melissa's, but I am one of her students as well. It is my pleasure to introduce you to Melissa Guller of Wit & Wire.
[00:01:44] Shannon Russell: Melissa, it's truly surreal for me to be chatting with you on my podcast because you were the force behind me launching Second Act Success. I took your podcast accelerator program through Wit & Wire and it was the most amazing course to help me bring my vision for this podcast to life. So [00:02:00] thank you so much for that. And I'm so excited to chat with you.
[00:02:02] Melissa Guller: Yes, I'm so honored to be here.
[00:02:04] Shannon Russell: I wanna turn the tables and kind of interview you why don't you tell me where your story started?
[00:02:09] Melissa Guller: Oh, I mean, how far back are we going? I would say professionally, I used to kind of say, I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and. The funny thing now, looking back is that I could never have guessed. I would end up here running my own business because this job didn't exist when I was doing things like choosing a college and choosing a major back in the day. to give the, you know, 32nd high level version, I ended up going to college to get a music degree because I was trying to mix my passion for music, with the practicality of working in the entertainment industry. And after working at a record label Maroon 5's label. I quickly realized it wasn't quite for me and that maybe music was better kept as a passion.
I moved through different careers in event production before working at General Assembly and then getting into the [00:03:00] online business space first, working for Ramit Sethi, and then for Teachable. Before starting my own business, Wit & Wire, where I now help creators turn their own skills and passions into profitable online businesses. So it's been an unpredictable journey, but I feel very grateful and fortunate to wind up right here where I am today.
[00:03:16] Shannon Russell: I've heard you say that your family, you have a family, of entrepreneurs.
[00:03:21] Melissa Guller: When I was growing up, my dad was an entrepreneur. He was a business owner and I was probably the only eight year old who knew how to spell entrepreneur because people would ask what my dad did for work. And that is what I said. You don't fully understand what's going on, maybe when you're eight, but I knew my dad ran his own business and. I also have two grandfathers who had their own businesses and even my great grandfathers. So it really does run in a family. And I feel really lucky to come from both sides of my family are just full of hardworking, very caring people who value family and spending time together and not being workaholics, but who also have ambition and drive and wanna do good and help [00:04:00] others and provide that kind of support. Looking back, I definitely did not always wanna follow in my dad's footsteps. I thought a business degree sounded boring. Sorry, dad. So that's why I kind of spiced up with the music business degree. But now I see just how much freedom and creativity comes from being a business owner. My business looks absolutely nothing like my dad's and his business doesn't really look like his dad's either. I think we've all kind of had our own personalities, influence the types of businesses we run.
[00:04:27] Shannon Russell: Tell me about graduating from college. You have this music degree and what's next?
[00:04:32] Melissa Guller: The intention all along is that I thought I wanted to work for a record label. So between my junior and senior year, that's when I got an internship in New York at a record label and to their credit, it was a great internship. They let me sit in on a lot of meetings. I got to see what it might look like to work at a label. But what surprised me was just learning that I didn't really see myself doing any of their jobs. I couldn't. Visualize it, I realized that [00:05:00] selling music, even from Maroon 5, one of my favorite artists, it just didn't really light me up. I think that was the start of realizing that, although we often talk about following your passion and I believe in doing work that you enjoy wholeheartedly. I think what we don't talk about enough is the fact that. What you do day to day, those tasks vary in how passionate you might feel about that kind of work. Like I really enjoy nerdy stuff like creating spreadsheets and organizing big complex things and making them simpler. And I absolutely love teaching. Those are skills that are not necessarily about choosing an industry. I could be happy doing those skills in different contexts. After college, I decided I wasn't gonna pursue. Music, but the event production industry felt like it was similar enough. My degree is technically music, business and entertainment industries. So I felt like it was still in the direction of entertainment. And that was very much about production having these bigger scale, like tech and pharma conferences and all these things happening behind the scenes, which really suited me. I have more of an introverted personality. [00:06:00] I enjoyed kind of being behind the scenes. Even shifting into the online business world, so I think it was just a real eye opener to be in this job that yes, I liked. Yes. I liked the people. They treated me well, it was in an industry that felt like the passion direction yet learning very quickly that it wasn't a right fit.
[00:06:17] Shannon Russell: that makes me think about. Internships in general as something that are so valuable, I'm a broadcast journalism, communications major , like very similar to you. And I loved news, so I took an internship at CBS in New York city, and I realized I did not like news. So I shifted because of that internship and realized, okay, I don't like news. Oh, you know what? I like entertainment. I like the different aspects of television. So that's what I ended up going and producing for for many, many years. But that internship was so valuable because it taught me what I did not like. Same with you. Right? It's taught you that. Ooh, I thought this was what I was going for, but no, it's not feeding my soul. It's not what I wanna do every day.
[00:06:59] Melissa Guller: [00:07:00] And advice I would offer to anyone is. even whatever your job looks like today, whatever you're aspiring towards in the future. If you can take stock about like, what actual work am I doing? That is my favorite part of my day. And what work is kind of like middle ground. Like take it or leave it. We all kind of have some of that. But then there's also probably work that you don't enjoy or things that surprised you about for you being in news. And for me being in music, like for me, one of the ways that I landed on starting my own business and even today, one of the ways, that I make decisions around what I do is by thinking about the kinds of work that I enjoy doing and how I spend my time. I don't think often enough, we're taught to design a life and a career around doing the kinds of work that you enjoy and then creating the space outside of work to live a life that you enjoy. So that's advice that I wish I had been given sooner and a couple books that helped me were The Compound Effect and Designing Your Dream Life. Those are two books that are maybe helpful for people on that current self, soul searching journey.
[00:07:57] Shannon Russell: Excellent advice because you're right. If you are [00:08:00] in one career and you need to make that change people, can volunteer, rather than jumping full force there's companies that want volunteering that want to maybe expose you to the industry and you can see if it's a fit before you dive in and you realize this is not for me.
[00:08:19] Melissa Guller: Also think for anybody interested in an entrepreneurial journey, having a side hustle, or even just doing something very simple, like you do not need a huge fancy website. You can put something up that just says I am open to one-on-one work about these different topics. That's all you need to be in business. For me, it was just a matter of somebody asking and me saying yes. So there are ways you can kind of dip your toe in the water. And find just one client and see if you enjoy talking about this topic, do you enjoy helping them? Maybe you enjoy building one Squarespace website and that's a good way for you to test to see, do I want to potentially pursue this direction? So with business it's not all or nothing. And I do think it's really helpful to do those small things to test and [00:09:00] see what you enjoy.
[00:09:01] Shannon Russell: When was the first time that you felt like you could be your own entrepreneur, that you could start your own business?
[00:09:07] Melissa Guller: I didn't aspire to it but I always felt like I enjoyed being a leader, and the first time that I earned money outside of a full time job was when I was teaching at General Assembly. I worked there full time, but they were looking for instructors to teach classes on campus on nights and weekends. And I volunteered. I said, you know, I would love to teach Excel. And then what happened after some of the classes is that people would come up to me and they would ask if I offered tutoring. I didn't, but I said, yes, let me get back to you with my rates. And then I would go home and like Google it. And then I would come back with rates or somebody asked me if I did business consulting. And even though I didn't same thing, I said, absolutely, let me get back to you with a proposal. Then I went home, made something up and I sent it over and that's how I first got into business. I like to share that story because too often, I think we assume. That everyone has a perfectly [00:10:00] formed vision of what their business will look like. And if you have that kind of vision, that's incredible. But for me, it was really eye opening to just start saying yes to opportunities, to learn how I like to make money, who I like to work with and what I like to talk about. And there are often more opportunities around you than you might realize.
[00:10:19] Shannon Russell: You found these opportunities and you could have easily said no, but you said, sure. Yes, I can. I'll figure it out. And then you started realizing you could make money on the side doing things that you are interested in.
[00:10:31] Melissa Guller: It was so empowering to have that realization too. When I started my online business journey, I was reading things from Ramit Sethi like his book I Will Teach You To Be Rich was a helpful personal finance book for me. And then I ended up working for him full time and we were doing like 12 to 18 course launches per year. We were driving like eight figures of revenue. And just the fact that somebody would pay $2,000 for an online course was mind blowing to me. I couldn't even [00:11:00] fathom the fact that this was a real thing. Then after I switched and I started working for Teachable, that was a whole new level because instead of working for one course creator, which was still an incredible learning experience. Then When I worked at Teachable, I had the opportunity to see more data for hundreds of thousands of different course creators across all different industries, from raising goats to flying drones or watercolor painting. And that's when you really started to see, wow, you can earn money online in just about any industry. There's an outdated. Saying about you can't earn money in the arts. You can't earn money in all these different industries. And I think modern business is proving that that just isn't true. So I thought it was really important to help more people realize that their skills were not just helpful, but also profitable.
[00:11:43] Shannon Russell: And it's changed so much over the years. Like Right now, we're in such an online business world. You really got into it at a time where you could teach yourself and really start now teaching other people like myself.
[00:11:55] Melissa Guller: It's funny because I've been in the industry for, before the pandemic even started, I was already [00:12:00] working online and it's so fascinating to see how the pandemic has shifted things, because I think for. Better, but also, you know, for worse, we're online more, but it also means we're more used to things like zoom meetings. We're more used to interacting with other people online and learning online, which means we're also perhaps more comfortable with different ways to earn money online and our location no longer limits us. There are just so many more doors that I think have been opened because we are so used to this virtual world.
[00:12:29] Shannon Russell: Let's go back to Ramit. How did you first get in touch with him and start working with him and learning about his courses?
[00:12:37] Melissa Guller: I read the book. I got on his email list and I became a student in one of his courses. And that's when I learned that his business was hiring. Ramit was running a 50 person, fully remote business at the time. And I was looking for a It was actually a tougher decision to apply though, because I had just started my own side business [00:13:00] using the teachings from Ramit's universe and I had to make the tough decision. Do I apply for this job knowing. That I will have to shut down my own business because it was potentially competing with that role. Or do I stick it out with what I had and I made the decision to apply for the job and accept it because I knew I could learn so much being behind the scenes. At a company like Ramit's, where we were doing such a massive scale, of course, creation where I was managing a 15 person remote team. And we were just doing the, the biggest course launches I've ever personally been a part of. So now it's an invaluable part of my story, which led not only to that role, but then to working at Teachable as well and now to Wit & Wire. So I think it was the right choice, but there are so many different, I would say, crossroads like that, where you kind of have to take a leap of faith and go with your gut.
[00:13:48] Shannon Russell: so when you left there, then you went to Teachable. Will you tell us a little bit about what Teachable is in case there's some people at home that don't know what it is?
[00:13:56] Melissa Guller: Teachable poached me. I'm very happy that they did, and they [00:14:00] are a software online that allows you to create and sell your own online courses. So some people are familiar with companies like you Udemy, or Skillshare. Those are marketplaces like as a student, you can go to those websites and you can take a course, but as a business owner, Although I do have a fairly successful Skillshare course. That's not really how I make money. It's almost like I'm talent. On that platform. I have provided a course and I earn a very small amount of money. So what Teachable does and why it was created is because the founder actually had a Udemy course and realized I'm not really making money, I'm helping Udemy make money. So the same way that you can use something like Squarespace or WordPress to build your own website. You can use a course creation platform like Teachable to drag and drop in your own videos. Add in your PDFs, create your own course. Have students actually check out and pay for the course and enroll. It's your complete solution to create your online school is the term they use and sell online courses to your own audience.
[00:14:54] Shannon Russell: So you start working at Teachable and what exactly are you doing for them?
[00:14:58] Melissa Guller: Teachable was [00:15:00] a startup. When I joined, there were only 35 people and they made up a role to hire me. So my title officially was Head of Special Projects. And I reported directly to the CEO. That was a really fun position to be in because I got to work on all kinds of different initiatives across the company, from marketing to product, to operations, to running an internal hackathon, to find new ideas for the company. After I think about a year. The then vice president of the marketing department shifted his role within the company leaving a temporary vacancy. So I actually stepped in as the interim VP for a little under a year, helping the marketing team and doing a lot of the initiatives And then I ended up staying in marketing for the rest of my time there in a director position. I also pitched the CEO on starting a podcast, and then I became the host and producer for the first two seasons. That was just an idea that I felt would work, that I felt was important to the company to tell more stories of what a course creator really looked like. So [00:16:00] I held a lot of different hats and I worked on a lot of different projects over my nearly four years there, but I really felt grateful for just all the years and the opportunities I had there.
[00:16:09] Shannon Russell: It seems like you learned so much there that you've taken into your business now
[00:16:14] Melissa Guller: For sure. There's just something really specifically valuable about working at the software company because you're exposed to so many, literally hundreds of thousands of creators who are doing different things with the platform. I felt like I learned a ton. Both from the data that we would analyze about Teachable's customer base. And then also doing things like hosting the podcast where I got to talk to successful creators across different industries. So you just hear about all these different stories and strategies, and you start to see themes between like what's working and what all of these different successful creators have in common.
[00:16:46] Shannon Russell: Right. And you're taking all those skills with you. You're learning on the job, which is really cool. So the podcast that you pitched and produced and hosted was that your first venture into podcasting.
[00:16:58] Melissa Guller: So I'm the crazy lady who has [00:17:00] now four podcasts, but they're not all active anymore. Initially I was just curious about podcasting and I started my own show. I was interviewing other guests on it with kind of an array of topics. I was mostly self taught with various, you know, YouTube videos and blog posts from different experts I admired, and that show is no longer in production, but it led me to start a second show called Book Smart about personal development books with a co-host M and that podcast became fairly successful. It still gets thousands of downloads per month, even though frankly, we haven't released new episodes recently. And. Between those two shows I felt like I had enough knowhow to not only produce the podcast with Teachable, but also to pitch a concept that I felt would be useful for the business. So I put together the proposal, shared it with the CEO, got approved, got the budget, and then became the host of that show. So it was technically the third podcast.
[00:17:53] Shannon Russell: So you left Teachable . and started your podcast with your own company, Wit & Wire.
[00:17:58] Melissa Guller: It was an interesting transition [00:18:00] because about two years before I left Teachable, I made the decision. Then I knew I wanted to start my own business. It had been something on the back of my mind for a while. I had started my own company before I joined Ramit, but it didn't really have time to get off the ground. But now having seen so many Teachable creators succeed, it really inspired me to think they're doing this. I can do it too. And there's never gonna be a right time. So I'm just gonna go for it. I had the, Privilege of having a full-time job that I enjoyed, and that gave me the freedom and the flexibility to start a business on the side where I wasn't rushed to earn money. For the first six months of Wit & Wire, I was really just putting out blog, post testing growth strategies on Pinterest, building up a little bit of an email list, and I didn't feel in a rush to do anything. So I was just trying to see where momentum took me and what I could build up. And then about six months in that's when I launched what is the program now called the Podcast Launch Accelerator where I help online business owners turn their podcast [00:19:00] idea into a full podcast and get their first thousand, listeners. But what was interesting about the initiation of Wit & Wire is that I always knew I wanted to talk to online business owners. Those were my people, specifically women and minorities to help amplify more diverse voices in the online business world. I knew one day I would wanna talk about course creation because that is my background professionally. It's what I loved, but I also didn't wanna go into it immediately because I was doing course creation stuff. Full-time at Teachable. We were talking about it all day every day. And I felt like if I were to do that, and then also on nights and weekends do more stuff about course creation, even just kind of feel like a lot. So instead of building a business around one topic, I decided to build my business around a very. Ideal audience member. And that's why I decided to start with the podcasting program because I knew I had a lot of skills to simplify the tech, simplify the production, make it easier for people to launch that would be really helpful. And then in time, if I launched another program on course creation or other online business strategies, [00:20:00] TBD that it wouldn't feel like a shock, it would still fit into the audience that I built, but that's how it started mostly about podcasting. And now today, the podcasting program is absolutely still active, but I do talk a lot more about course creation and have a signature course on course creation as.
[00:20:14] Shannon Russell: And I can attest that the Podcast's Launch Accelerator was such a wonderful program because it led me to having my own podcast. I learned so so much, I'm definitely a big fan and a big believer in what you're doing and everything that you're teaching the world. So thank you.
[00:20:29] Melissa Guller: No. Thank you. I mean, your podcast is a Testament to your hard work as well. Like I love what I do because I get to work with amazing business owners and creatives who have something important to share. And I often say that I measure my success in student success stories. Not just sales. So the fact that we're here together on your podcast is I think a huge, happy moment for me. Like, this is why I do what I do.
[00:20:50] Shannon Russell: Aw, happy moment for both of us. so thank you.
I always like to talk with my guests about the threads between all of the different paths and all of the [00:21:00] different steps leading up to where you are now. And there's so much that I'm hearing from you that is connected. What would you think the thread is from, graduating college until now in all of the different roles that you've had?
[00:21:12] Melissa Guller: It's much easier to look back now in hindsight, but I think a few of the things that tie all my roles together are first of all, the eye for doing things more efficiently. I'm always looking for ways to make processes run more smoothly in less time to make it easier for everyone. And then sharing those like abundantly with everyone around me and being helpful and of service and not keeping them to myself. I think that underlying theme of trying to simplify things and make it repeatable, definitely translate now to even being a course creator because that's effectively what a course is. It's a process that I can teach to someone else so that they can carry it out and use it for their own vision. Teaching others has been another big one, whether I was teaching my fellow coworkers or then teaching in person at General Assembly. Teaching online now through Wit & Wire and even teaching a lot of the teachable [00:22:00] material. There's definitely like a theme of teaching in addition to the theme of simplifying. Also think there's this theme of like being a producer, just being behind the scenes, somebody who's making all the things move smoothly and having that eye for. Those are the few of the things that are not only threads, but also things that I've now intentionally sought out and built into my business. I think as a business owner, especially there's this temptation for more, for growing a bigger business, having more revenue, growing, huge, having a team, all these things. I definitely aspire to grow a little bit bigger than I am today. I have like clear revenue goals in mind and maybe having a couple of full-time employees, but I don't want the business to be so big that I operate myself. Of the work that I enjoy. I like the teaching. I like interacting with my community. So having a clear pulse on those threads of what I've enjoyed from all of my jobs and my business also informs where I'm going in the future to make sure that I keep those parts of my day instead of automating them or delegating them out.
[00:22:56] Shannon Russell: I love that. That's a great point to really see that in yourself and know that, this is [00:23:00] where I wanna move forward. You have a very clear vision. That's great.
You've worked at all these different startups productions companies. Now this is all you and you Decide you're gonna start your own company. That was really all about you and everything you've learned up until. How did you come up with the name, making the website? Just how did you create this brand?
[00:23:21] Melissa Guller: I agonized over the name. And even though I always give this advice and believe it's true that the name doesn't matter as much, uh, that a lot of names work really well. I just remember brainstorming probably well over a hundred options before I picked Wit & Wire. In terms of the inception of it, the first six months of Wit & Wire were just blog posts, building on an audience. And then I launched my first course and it started to scale, but I was doing an overlap of Wit & Wire and Teachable for nearly two full years. Wi & Wire was not yet replacing my whole teachable salary, but I was making money and I had a fair amount of confidence that it would go up. It felt like I almost didn't even have time to think because [00:24:00] every second of the day was just tasks for work or tasks for written wire. So when I left. I felt like my brain had more space to think, like I had more time to breathe and my revenue ended up doubling within about three months. The mental space, in addition to the actual time made a huge difference and it was a leap of faith and in a good way, people reminded me, you know, if Whit and wire doesn't work, of course I can go back and get a job. At the same time, I deep down believed and still do that. The business idea I had was the right fit. It was the right fit for me to earn money. It was the right fit for me to support other people and that everybody would benefit if this business continued to grow. So I did fully like believe in myself and in the concept, but I knew the worst case scenario also wouldn't be that.
[00:24:47] Shannon Russell: Where are you now in the business? Do you feel like you are where you wanna be? Are you more successful than you thought you would be at this point?
[00:24:56] Melissa Guller: I don't think I had such a, a rigid timeline of what I wanted to earn. [00:25:00] What I will say is that the business has continued to grow and build momentum. And the more decisions that I've made, especially in the last year, Finally starting the course creation program , and then starting to scale it and having that be a focus instead of just sticking with the podcasting course, like the more of those decisions that felt right in my gut that I followed the more the business has grown. I've gross a little over $200,000 in revenue in the last 12 months. And I'm definitely on track to continue scaling beyond that over the next year. And my goal is not to earn infinite. , but I do have a set number in mind, looking at my life in New York, my business expenses savings, and just, you know, living a comfortable life for myself and my family and at the same time, I feel good about my availability to work closely with my students and to still be like personally involved with them. So I'm feeling really excited and optimistic about where the business is now and definitely excited about where it's.
[00:25:55] Shannon Russell: And That's just so amazing of how much you're able [00:26:00] to have your flexibility. You're living in your apartment in Brooklyn, you get to create your. Lifestyle and still make so much revenue that you can support yourself on your own terms.
[00:26:12] Melissa Guller: It's very humbling in a lot of ways, I think I've been in this sweet spot where I've gotten to see so much of the online course industry, but even so when I started Wit & Wire, there's still this question, like, okay, Can I do it for myself? Like, can I actually take all these things that I've learned, turn it into a business and go full time on this dream that I have. And now I'm a little over a year out just being full-time on W and. Literally every single day, I feel grateful that I can do what I do and I never take it lightly. The fact that people choose to invest in my business and that they choose to work with me to help them build their own businesses. It's not a responsibility that I take lightly, but it is extremely rewarding. And the fact that I get to design my life, not just at work, but also outside, I get to spend more time with my family, traveling to see them. I have [00:27:00] this location, independent job, like all of these things I think have made a huge difference. I have now experienced it for myself, but I've also seen , how doable it is for so many different creators of all different lifestyles and diverse interests. So I really just wanna empower more people who are interested in an entrepreneurial direction to try it out, dip a toe in the water and see how it goes.
[00:27:21] Shannon Russell: Would you suggest if someone is thinking about starting a second act, that they take an online course to kind of help themselves maneuver faster into that new act that they're looking for?
[00:27:32] Melissa Guller: I'm a lifelong learner. So I have always invested in courses or even just started with like blog posts or YouTube videos to help me kind of get my feet wet. I think there's kind of two camps that are both great choices. One is the thought that you wanna do it right from the beginning. You wanna invest in help from an expert, whether it's a coach or a course, and you want somebody to really lay out this blueprint of how to go from, start to finish. And if you find somebody that you trust, I think that's an absolutely great decision. On the other hand, if you are truly like just getting started, you have [00:28:00] no social media, you have no website. Like if you are absolute ground zero, I think there's something to be said for trying the strategy of getting one person to pay you of not focusing so much on building a huge audience, but just seeing, do I enjoy this kind of work without going to all the trouble of even naming a business or doing anything like that, you can just use your own name at first and operate as a sole proprietor. So I think that what feels right for each of us in the beginning will be different, but you can ask yourself, like, what is the smallest step? Is it finding one client. For some people, maybe it is more about getting on TikTok and just seeing what content sticks and seeing what kinds of videos you like to produce and what questions you start to get asked. So there's no one right way to start a business, but I think there are a lot of great ways you can test the waters.
[00:28:44] Shannon Russell: That's great.
[00:28:45] Melissa Guller: I think a takeaway I hope people get is that you don't actually need the answers before you get started. One mindset. That's helped me a lot as a business owner is that yes, I have kind of this big picture vision of what my life looks like off, further into the years ahead. In terms of [00:29:00] actual business strategy, I'm usually focusing on more of like a three month at a time decision making timeline, and that helps everything feel less permanent. So if you're worried that you have to have all the answers up front, you have to have it all figured. I would definitely encourage you to instead ask yourself what could I do in the next three months? What's something that I could try now. And then also give yourself permission to put, pause on other things.
As an example, I had always kind of wondered about starting a YouTube channel, but I never had the time. So I started one maybe six or seven months ago for Wit & Wire. And it has been a huge help to grow my business, but I also wasn't able to continue doing every week publishing a new video. So now I do like two a month and kind of as needed. And that's what worked for me, even though it's not traditional advice. But if I had started my business and tried to do blogging, podcasting, YouTube, social media, all this stuff, it would've felt overwhelming. So for now, just think about the next three. Think about what you can do that will either help you build an audience, help you make money or both, and then give yourself permission to change your mind, [00:30:00] change your mind later, and to put off some other projects for the future.
[00:30:05] Shannon: Alright. It's time for our Five Fast Qs of the Week. Here we go!
[00:30:10] Shannon Russell: Name one thing that these different chapters in your life have taught you.
[00:30:14] Melissa Guller: How I like spending my time professionally and to disassociate the word passion from the industry that you work in and to instead focus on how I like to spend my time, who I like to be around and who I like to work with,
[00:30:26] Shannon Russell: Would you recommend taking a leap into a big life change to your best friend?
[00:30:31] Melissa Guller: I would, but based on what I've done, I always. Like a toe in the water first. So I've never been afraid to take action and to go for it, but there's a reason I didn't quit my job and start a business. The next day, it worked better for me to do a bit of a gradual lead in. So I would say I'm always going to encourage a best friend to take the leap, but to figure out what's the smallest step of that leap and then take it ASAP.
[00:30:55] Shannon Russell: One piece of advice for someone starting their second act today.
[00:30:59] Melissa Guller: It's about [00:31:00] choosing that small step. You don't have to figure it all out. You don't have to have all the answers, but if you're curious about starting a sewing business, maybe you start one social channel where you start offering tips and you see what people ask you about. Or maybe if you really aspire to have a YouTube channel and you enjoy being on video, just focus on that one. Or if neither of those sound good. Try putting out just a simple one page website that is barely fancy at all, where you say you're available for hire and start telling people the first step doesn't have to look the same for everyone, but you don't have to do all 20 steps at.
[00:31:31] Shannon Russell: What does the next chapter look like for Melissa?
[00:31:34] Melissa Guller: I am focusing more in the course creator direction for Wit & Wire for this year and likely next year as well. The podcasting program is going nowhere. I'm sure other programs may come up too for online business owners, but really focusing my energy on helping people find a profitable course. Get their initial students and then scale their own programs so that they're open year round and just consistently enrolling new students because I feel very [00:32:00] passionately about helping more people earn money online and create the kind of life that is not only professionally fulfilling, but also personally fulfilling. And lets you support your family and spend time with your loved ones and do the things that you enjoy. So course creation is the priority of the courses that I'm now selling.
[00:32:16] Shannon Russell: So how can our audience connect with you?
[00:32:19] Melissa Guller: If you are interested in launching your own online course or learning more about course creation, online business tips, or podcasting as well. You can follow me @witandwire on mostly TikTok and YouTube or the podcast these days. And if you are curious to download the toolkit of all my favorite course creation tools, which is what I'm asked about most frequently, you can grab it at witandwire.com/coursetoolkit.
[00:32:42] Shannon Russell: Thank you so much, Melissa. This has been so much fun. I appreciate you being here.
[00:32:47] Melissa Guller: Yeah, thank you for having me.
[00:32:48] Shannon: Is it Melissa, just a wealth of knowledge? She has a great way of taking something digital that seems super techie and breaking it down to seem not so scary. If you are interested in [00:33:00] creating a course of your own or launching your own podcast, you can learn more about working with Melissa witandwire.com
Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, recommend to guests with a great story, and learn more about us. Visit secondactsuccess.co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. So you don't miss a single episode. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much. Thank you again for listening. I am Shannon Russell, and this is Second Act Success.
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