Ep 294: From Solopreneur to Agency with Facebook Ads Pro Zach Spuckler

From Solopreneur to Agency with Facebook Ads Pro Zach Spuckler

My guest on the show today is Zach Spuckler, founder of Heart Soul & Hustle and the Heart Soul + Hustle podcast, and I’m excited to bring you his story today because I’ve found all the different ways he’s pivoted in his business fascinating!

I started following Zach back in 2015 when I was just starting out because I really resonated with his authentic marketing strategies.

After making over 1.5 million dollars in online courses and coaching sales, Zach pivoted to serving that same audience with marketing services and consulting.

He's now the chief marketing extraordinaire at his Facebook Ads & Consulting Agency where he works with his clients to achieve multi-six-figure launches, automated funnels and consults on marketing strategies for course creators looking to scale their business.

Zach and I talk about:

  • Zach’s online business journey and the unexpected lessons he’s learned along the way.
  • Why Zach pivoted from one-to-many to one-to-one.
  • What goes into a 6-figure launch.
  • How to validate your ideas.
  • The biggest Facebook Ads mistakes Zach sees people make.
  • Zach’s best advice for anyone wanting to grow their side hustle.
  • The one belief Zach had to change about himself to get where he is today.

My favorite quotes from Zach:

  • “Always keep one foot in what you're doing and put one foot forward and continue to test things out before you make a big leap.”
  • “There is no “wrong move”. There's only determining what you want to do, putting in the effort to make it happen and then pivoting if things aren't working.”
  • “When you're running ads and you have a proven offer, you're taking a calculated risk. And when you don't have a proven offer, you're taking a gamble.”
  • “There are phases at every level of your business where you've just got to hustle.”

Shannon Mattern: Zack, thank you so much for being here on pep talks for side hustlers today. Can you share a little bit more with my listeners, you and what you do?

Zach Spuckler: Yeah. So first off, thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited to be here. My name is Zach Spuckler. My company is heart, soul and hustle. And we work with digital entrepreneurs that are either course creators, coaches, consultants, or have digital products that are looking to scale in the online space. And we've done that through a number of different ways. And originally I had a lot of courses that supported people, but we've recently pivoted our business a little bit to serve people one-on-one. So we do one-on-one ads management, one-on-one consulting, and revenue share consulting.

Shannon Mattern: So I shared in the intro with everybody how, you know, I came across you, I came across you in early 2015 I think it had to have been in like their freedom hackers Facebook group or something where I first really like saw what you were doing. I think I even have on my phone bookmarked like an article you wrote on your blog about how to run challenges. And I like, I, you know, I'm probably one of those people who like took your advice all the way along and then just never told you that I did and that, that it was like massively helpful to me in my business. So, so thank you for that. Um, I want to know a little bit more about how you got your start, you know, what were you doing, um, in, in you, in your life when you decided to start an online business and what, what was the catalyst for that? Yes, so

Zach Spuckler: it's a really interesting question because I've always been really motivated by being my own boss or generating my own revenue online. And so it really started back when I was about 12 or 13. And I know that it started before I was 13, because I used to do all kinds of stuff online and I had to use my dad's information cause you had to be like 13 to actually, you know, get a paycheck and be like, you know, on the up and up. And so I've done a lot of stuff and I, you know, one of the first things that I did was actually called pay to click advertising. PTC. We're all really familiar with PPC pay per click, but paid to click is where you basically click on ads and you get revenue for doing that. Now there are people who are paying to be in front of the people who are paying, getting paid to click.

Zach Spuckler: So it's like make money online or generate more revenue, right? So they're really like these, um, these spammy advertisements that you click on and you get like a penny for clicking on them. But the caveat is you can use the money that you generate to hire referrals. It's very, um, like two levels down. And so you could get referrals and generate revenue. And, um, I ended up generating several thousand dollars doing that. Um, when I was like, you know, 13, 14, 15. And so that's that like really was one of the original catalyst was like, Oh my gosh, there is something to this internet thing where you can actually make money. And so, you know, fast forward over the years I've done a lot of different things. I've done direct sales, I've affiliate marketing, I've done website flipping. Um, I've done freelance writing, so I've done a lot of different stuff and I really landed in 2015 I was in my master's program.

Zach Spuckler: I was actually running a food blog that was doing relatively well, but I was super burnt out. If you've ever run a food blog, it is like legitimately a full time job. You have to make recipes, you have to cook them, you have to test them, you have to photograph them, you have to go buy props for the photos. Like it was, it was a lot of work. And I remember, you know, thinking I had run in my food blog business advertisements, I actually had an online course with my food blog and I had run some ads and I thought, you know what, maybe I can just start talking about advertising and people will be interested. Maybe I can get a couple of advertising clients. It'll pay a little better, it'll make me a little bit of revenue, it'll keep me busy. Maybe it'll even let me quit.

Zach Spuckler: You know, my master's program, cause I did not love my master's program. I was doing it because my undergrad degree was not going to get me anywhere in the world because I was specifically pursuing a master's or a doctorate when I started my undergrad. So I decided to start talking about this on Periscope, which is like really old school. You may remember it, you may not, but it's essentially live streaming before Facebook live was a thing. And I started talking about advertising and within about 30 days I had a number of clients. Um, I was way under charging. It was keeping me super busy. I was doing everything myself. And after about 30 days, people were like, Oh my gosh, like the advertising is cool, but you are like gaining a massive number of followers on Periscope. Um, over a couple of years we brought it up to 20,000 followers and people were like, how are you doing this?

Zach Spuckler: Right? Because the big thing about Periscope, which is a little different than like Facebook likes, cause you might be like, well 20,000 isn't that much. But at the time people essentially by default had notifications on and so every time you go live, you were sending out tens of thousands of notifications to people that you're alive. So it was like this really intimate way to interact with your audience. And so I could do a stream where we had like a hundred, 200 people live just hanging out and listen to me talk. And so like I said, after about 30 days, people were like, the advertising is cool, but how the heck are you getting clients from Periscope? And so we really quickly ripped whipped up a Periscope training course. Um, I went on to affiliate that with some big marketers in the industry and then I got back to my roots and created a Facebook advertising course.

Zach Spuckler: We took both courses to over six figures. And then, um, after all that was happening, people are like, how are you launching these courses? And we were using five day challenges and, um, we created a five day challenge course, which we took to over half a million dollars in revenue. Um, and yeah, that's kind of the story of where we are now. And then, um, after doing that for a few years, you know, I have a mentor who says, you know, like it's, it's Zig when everyone zags do something different. And I thought, you know, no one is going from one to many to one on one. I've built this reputation, I built this name, I've got traffic coming to my website. Um, what if I switch to one-on-one and just serve people in a different capacity and build up a team to do that. And so that's what we did. We shut down all the courses. Um, as of this recording, we, there's still time for people to download the courses, but they're coming offline very shortly. And, um, yeah, we, we now serve people in a one-on-one capacity and we've got a full client roster and that's what we do now.

Shannon Mattern: I love that journey. I find that so fascinating from, you know, when you said like, we built this up, we build up all these courses, you're doing everything that everyone else is doing. Now let's pivot to the one on one model. Um, I, I find that really fascinating cause I recently did the opposite. I recently shut down my one-on-one model to focus exclusively on my courses and training. And that for me has been like such a huge relief. But I want to know for you, like what kind of, what were some of your, your fears or hesitations and going from the one to many model to the, to the one-to-one model, if, if you had any at all.

Zach Spuckler: Yeah. Well I think the biggest reservation was that I was comfortable, right. And with the online courses we were on evergreen, we were launching, we were getting results. It was paying all my bills. Um, I was moving across the country at the time that I decided to make this big pivot. I was moving from Ohio, which if you know anything about Ohio, it's not ridiculously expensive to live there. Um, and we moved to San Diego, which is like outrageous between taxes and cost of living and gas. Um, I think like in Ohio, like a good day for gas is like a dollar 89 and a good day for gas in California is like three 49 so that's crazy a difference. Um, and I think that those were my biggest fears was like, you know, what if, what if this is the wrong move? Right? Because earlier in my career I very much was like, you know, always keep one foot in, in what you're doing and put one foot forward and you know, continue to test things out before you make a big leap.

Zach Spuckler: And I will say that I did still kind of do that this time. We in November of, I've got to think about what year we're in. November of 2018 we started quietly taking on ads clients while I was still running the courses. Um, but in August of 2019 we basically like announced to everybody like, we're, we're, we're not doing courses for the foreseeable future. We stopped selling them, we stopped promoting them. Um, we left them online because we had a lot of clients that like the online portal and, um, you know, even that is retiring now. Um, but I think that the big reservation was like in August, it was kinda like, okay, it's a do or die. Like you shut down the courses, you know, it wouldn't be, um, a good idea to bring them back, um, because you shut them down. And I don't think that would elicit a lot of trust to be like, I changed my mind.

Zach Spuckler: I'm like, right. And so what really happened was I had to go all in and, and I had to start hiring and I said to start training my existing team and have conversation with my team. Like, do you want to stick around for this? This is what we're doing now. It's, it's obviously different. Um, can you support these new roles and responsibilities? And all of that was really scary but exciting because it's, it's new stuff. Um, and I, I don't know what I was watching the other day, but I was watching a TV show and somebody said something that really stuck with me and they said, you know, nervousness is just excitement in, in a different way, right? Or showing up a different way. I don't remember the exact phrasiology but, but basically they said, you know, nerves or excitement, you get to choose. And so I just got really excited about the potential of what was ahead of me and I think that made a huge difference.

Shannon Mattern: You said something that kind of stuck out at me that, that I think about, well, maybe more than I should when I'm making decisions. Like, well, what if this is the wrong move? And then, you know, after I let myself spin out just a little bit in those kinds of thoughts, then I can really redirect to be like [inaudible] I'm going to do whatever it's going to take to make sure that this is not the wrong move. Right. You know, it's like, it's one of those things where it's like, I'm going to make this decision and I'm going to see it through and I'm not going to, you know, question what I could have done or what I might have done. I'm just going to do everything that I can to make sure that this is a success and learn the lessons that I need to learn to like go along the path to make it happen. And it sounds like that's, you know,

Zach Spuckler: yeah,

Shannon Mattern: that level. That's the level of confidence that you brought because it's like, no, but we don't know from data. You don't know if the wrong move could have been staying with the courses. You know, we don't know from day to day, right. We just know that like, I'm gonna make this decision and I'm going to see it through to the end, you know, and I'm going to make it happen. So I think that that's just something that, um, you know, I know a lot of side hustlers are questioning like, am I doing things right? Am I doing this right? Am I making the right decision? It's like there's no such thing as a wrong decision in my opinion. What do you think about that? Yeah, I agree wholeheartedly.

Zach Spuckler: And I think the big thing is like, you know, I had a mentor who when I was really in the online course space, said something to me that really stuck out right along this same vein. And he said, look, what you're developing is not skills on how to sell courses, right? Yes. Superficially that's what you're doing. But what you're learning to do is create something out of nothing or make money for yourself and you need to, and that's a skill that doesn't go away no matter what you're doing. And I think if you're listening to this and you're like, well, what if I am making the wrong move? The thing is, you know, there are, there are people making money. You're doing every imaginable thing, right? We've venture capitalism, um, drop shipping, you know, selling courses, selling services, selling widgets that they've created or invented, right? Selling, um, ideas. Like there are literally people who just come up with ideas and sell them and that's their full time. Right? So, you know, the big thing for me is like, there is no wrong move. There's only determining what you want to do, putting in the effort to make it happen and then pivoting if things aren't working or you need to make a change.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. And I feel like, you know, the things aren't working or thing or you need to make a change is like, you know, is this business serving me and my goals and my visions and my values and what I really set out to create in the first place. And I think, you know, with me, when I, when I saw that, you know, I was spending so much of my time on one-on-one client work where I loved my clients and they're amazing. And I know some of them are listening to this and I don't want them to like think that, you know, I didn't love every second of it, but I get so much more out of the broader, um, teaching and training than I do just kind of sitting in my bed, um, you know, banging out websites. So it's just like, it fuels my soul to do more things like this than it does to work on, on, on websites. And I just think that that's something too, I needed to learn that about myself in the whole business journey than to just, Mmm.

Zach Spuckler: Make it all be about the money I guess. Yeah. Well, and I love that because I think that's the other thing is like, you know, when I switched from courses to one-on-one is like, there was definitely this element of like, what is exciting and what is getting me going? And one of the things that I've, I've talked about before is like, it's, you know, I, I love my students. We've gotten amazing results for our students and that's always been so incredible to see. Um, but when I work with people one on one, I get to experience the results with them. And that is such a shift in experience. Like we have a client who we worked on a multiple six figure launch and it was like, you know, we ran the ads, we helped do that. We were part of the team that made that happen. And so, you know, there's something that just lights me up, being able to be on the team that's making these massive moves. And I just love that.

Shannon Mattern: That is, that is so cool. Um, I want to ask you more, a little bit about, um, you know, how you help your clients and you know, who's a good fit for moving into a one-on-one adds consultancy in a little bit. But I to kind of dig back into, into your journey a little bit before we get there on, you know, you tell the story and it sounds like it was just very, not effortless, but just, you know, we went from, um, from course Periscope to courses to this, to that. What were some of the, some of the unexpected like lessons that you, that you learned along the way or, or any of those things that happened that made you think,

Zach Spuckler: wow, I never really thought that was possible? Yeah, that's a great question. I think the biggest thing is, you know, we had our first six figure launch and

Zach Spuckler: I remember doing that and being very like [inaudible] shocked that it happened. Um, well what was interesting is, you know, you see people online doing it and you think, Oh my gosh, I can do that too. And, um, this is not me saying, Oh no, you can't do that. Right. But this is me saying a lot of times we see the 10% of the activities that are public and not that 80% of activities that are in the backend. And when we did that launch, I mean I remember being like, you know, we had somebody on the team that mapped out everything in Infusionsoft and we wrote everything in advance and we hired a copywriter and we, um, scheduled all the ads in advance and did everything in advance. And you know, we worked with an ads manager and we did all of this backend stuff that like people don't necessarily talk about.

Zach Spuckler: And I don't mean that as like a, it's a, it's a secret in the industry. People don't talk about it. I mean, it's just, it's not the, for lack of a better term, it's not the sexy side of what people want to talk about. No one wants to be like, Oh yeah, the biggest thing for my launch was like planning everything out. And so, you know, we had spreadsheets and we had timelines and we had all this stuff that went into this launch. And so, you know, that was one of the biggest lessons that I had was like, you know, it's yes, the 10% of like showing up on livestream or running Facebook ads for having a sales page. Yes, that stuff is important, but it's the things you don't think about. Like do you have it designer for your sales page? Have you designed a sales page yourself before? Have you written the copy for a sales page? Have you tested it? What does your optin look like? What does your offer look like? All these things that just take testing optimization and planning. Like that was a huge eye opener for me that a lot of that stuff had to happen to get really good results.

Shannon Mattern: So it's like you put a six figure effort into this six figure launch. It was not just like, Oh well I have a sales page and I have a freebie and I have an email sequence and I have all this stuff and I ran some Facebook ads and voila, a six figure launch, which, which I think, and like I, I totally agree with you. I don't think anybody's trying to present it as it's that simple. I think it's, I think, but I think it does like come off, you know, sometimes it's like, well, you know what's wrong with me because I'm not, you know, I'm not having those results or whatever. And one of the things that you really pointed out is there's a whole lot of validation that goes on beforehand that I think, um, and I don't know, you tell me if this is the case, being able to interact with your ideal clients one-on-one in a situation like a Periscope or a Facebook live to know exactly. You know, how they talk about their struggles, what questions they have, all those things probably did that help you validate quite a bit faster than coming up with all of it in your head? Absolutely. Being able to have a two way conversation with your clients is, it's just essential.

Zach Spuckler: Yeah. And we, I think you can do that in a number of different ways. I know a lot of people are advocates for like get on the phone and do research and things like that. And I think that that is absolutely a great way to do it. Um, we always did it through like surveys or one to many models. Um, I'm not a huge, like now I am cause I do a lot of stuff. Um, but at the time I was like, Oh, I don't want to get on the phone. Um, that's what it was. I just like Mary resistant to that, but not on the phone all the time. Um, but I would, I would say that anytime you can have a two way conversation with your audience, it's going to be really powerful.

Shannon Mattern: Yeah. Yeah. So what are some of the, what are some of the things when you take on a client, when someone's applying to work for you, work with you and your consultancy, what are some of the criteria that you want to make sure that they have before? Before you're like, okay, yeah, you're a great fit for, for having a company like mine manager ads. Yeah. Well, and I, I'd love to,

Zach Spuckler: to answer that, like with, you know, being ready to hire anyone to manage your ads, right? Because a lot of people are like, Oh, maybe I'm not at the level to work with Zach so maybe I'll hire someone else. Or um, maybe I'm just not at the level to work with an ads manager at all or, or maybe I, I totally am ready cause I don't want to deal with Facebook ads myself. And I think the biggest thing that I tell people in terms of qualification is like number one have a proven offer, right? And when I say have a proven offer, what I mean is, has it sold before? Because we have worked with people in the past when we were really, really selective about it now where they're like, I've got the money, I've got the idea and I want to launch. And we actually do still take on clients like that. But we are like very candid from the jump that like this could, you could throw, you could be throwing all your money to money away. And what we tell people is that, you know, when you're running ads and you have a proven offer, you're taking a calculated risk. And when you don't have a proven offer, you're taking a gamble.

Shannon Mattern: And it's like, are you okay gambling or would you rather take a calculated risk?

Zach Spuckler: That's the first thing. The second thing is do you understand the fundamentals of advertising? So a lot of people hire an ads manager because, um, in the nicest way possible, they want to bury their head in the sand and say, I don't want to deal with ads. I don't like ads. Ads are not for me. I don't get it. I don't understand it. So I'll just hire someone else. Right? And what I tell people is like, that is all fine and well to not want to be hands on with your own ads, but you want to be hands on with your own ads, right? Because if an ads manager come to you, comes to you and says, Hey, you know, your cold audience isn't really converting, um, we need to do some new targeting and your custom conversion isn't firing. So we need to fix that. And you're like, I don't know what that means.

Shannon Mattern: What did you just say to me? Yeah,

Zach Spuckler: what did you just say to me? Um, it's not that a good ads manager won't educate you, but it helps you have really high level conversations. So a lot of times when we're working with clients, we love working with someone that's run ads before because we're not just saying, Oh yeah, we'll run your ads, we'll get you lots of leads. We'll make this happen. We're like, what is your CPL, Ben? Um, what historically has the cost and what are your goals? How achievable is that? What do we need to budget for that? And so being able to have really successful high level conversations with your ads person is going to make a massive difference to your business. And that's, that's the second thing. The third thing is you want to have had a successful promotion. So whether that, you know, and promotion I use very broadly, that could be an automated funnel.

Zach Spuckler: That could be a challenge. That can be a webinar. That could be a video series, that could be a series of emails that you've launched internally to your list, but you want to have had a successful promotion or funnel of some kind because when a good ads manager comes to work with you, they're going to look at your past data to determine your future result. And if you don't have any past data other than yeah, I've gone on live stream, I've sold a few of this offer, now I'm ready to do a webinar. Um, yes, I think that that is a fantastic step. No, I don't think that's the time to bring on an external company to help you. Because the other thing to keep in mind is that when you hire an ads manager, you take on the cost of an ads manager so you don't just have your ad costs anymore. So if you haven't run a successful promotion, you have to put more money in taking a calculated risk that you'll get more money out to both fund your ad spend and your ads manager. So those are like the three big criteria. A proven offer, a proven promotion, and at least fundamental knowledge of Facebook advertising.

Shannon Mattern: So how would you recommend that someone gets started? Um, you know, learning those fundamentals. Would it be to just run some ads to build their list so that they get an understanding rather than trying to run ads to an actual offer or, you know, what would your advice be for someone who's like, okay, I think, you know, I think I'm ready to start, you know, putting some of my budget towards paid traffic, but they haven't done anything before. What would your, what would your recommendation be to them?

Zach Spuckler: Yeah, mine would be to start with something that has a backend offer promotion or something. So a lot of people say like, Oh, I'm just running this ad to build my email list. And like, that's, but you're, you're spending money, right? You're not earning money. You're not creating an ROI. So even if it's a basic five email sales funnel with like a $50 offer at the back end to recoup some of your costs, um, if it's a webinar where you're going to sell something right away, what I recommend is that when you start playing around with ads, you'd be asking yourself what is the longterm play here? Right? And a lot of people like, just to be really candid, right? If you're going to run ads to build your email list, you're going to get a hundred emails for three to $700. I know that's a broad range, but it depends on your niche, your audience, your offer, all of this stuff.

Zach Spuckler: So let's just be really conservative and say five bucks, right? So you're going to spend $500, you're going to get a hundred names and emails, you're going to optimistically have a 30% open rate. So 30 people are going to open your emails when you go to promote your webinar or your video series or whatever you're promoting. I'm like, optimistically, 10% of those people are going to click. So that's three to four registered for people getting to the registration page and 60 to 80% will register because it's your warm audience. So you're looking at, you just spent 500 for three webinar registrations, right? If you're looking at this like I'm building my email list for a future launch. Now all that being said, there are some hidden factors here. Like you can run ads to that email list. That email list may follow you over on social and it's going to build your social profiles.

Zach Spuckler: So realistically that a hundred people could be 20 to 30 webinar registrations. So let's just be completely fair to the process, right? Um, but even still, if you had a $50 offer that converted at two to 4%, let's say a hundred people go through, four people pay you 50 bucks, now you paid $300 for 20 to 30 revenue in our registration. So I like to tell people, if you're going to run ads, you might as well have an offer of some kind, whether it's a funnel, whether it's a webinar, whether it's a challenge. I've always been a big fan of challenges. I'm, I'm partial to that, but um, or biased I should say. But if you're going to run them, you might as well run them to something that's designed to generate an ROI for you.

Shannon Mattern: Well, that kind of leads me to my next question, which you may have already answered, but what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see people make when it comes to, um, Facebook ads in general?

Zach Spuckler: I mean, I think the biggest mistake is not understanding the value of a lead to your business. And I think that that just simply comes down to, it's a, it's a, it's a higher level view of the exact same thing that I just said, which is like what is a lead worth to your business? And I always love to use Netflix as an example because I think it's like, I think they're up to $12 a month. I know they've shifted their pricing a little bit. They used to be like 10 bucks a month and they went up a little bit. Everybody panicked. I did not. I love my Netflix, but you know, Netflix is willing to spend over a hundred dollars to acquire customer because they know once someone joins Netflix, they're not leaving, right? And it's like whether you're on a membership model or a course model or a consulting or a coaching model, what is someone worth to you?

Zach Spuckler: And one of the easiest ways to look at this is, I know a lot of people start in one-to-one. So let's say you know that you spend, I don't know, $400 getting a call booked, right? That might sound really expensive, but let's say you close at 40% right? So you need to get two and a half, three calls booked. So let's just say three. You spend $1,200 to book three calls. Well, if your package is $2,500 you just doubled your money, right? But if you're like, if you don't know your clothes, right, if you don't know what a lead is worth to your business, if you don't know any of that, then, um, you're going to struggle because you don't know what you can spend to book a call. Now, the question that always comes up from this is like, well, if I've never booked a call before, how do I know what a cost worth to my business?

Zach Spuckler: And you can use industry standard numbers, right? So think about what the industry standard is. You know, a lot of people listening like I don't think it's a crazy assumption to make that a lot of you are already in courses, you're in Facebook groups, you're in a lot of these things, right? Ask people how things are going for them. Say like, Hey, when you got started, what was your close rate when you got started? What does your email funnel convert out when you got started? What percentage of people bought from your challenge? And then be conservative. Just be conservative. If people are like, Oh, my challenge was 3% 4% 5% 3% 8% 9% then I would take the lowest, drop a percentage off of it and be like, okay, if my challenge converts at 2% here's what that value of a lead works out to, right?

Zach Spuckler: Um, if you get a close rate, again, a range of close rates, like start at 20 to 30%. A lot of people, myself included, we don't start good at sales. We don't crush it on sales calls. So ask yourself like, are we, um, you know, if I have a low close rate, how much can I spend on a call? And how do I get people on the phone from ads? Right? So it's like this duality of number one, where does a lead worth? But additionally, what is the longterm play, right? What is the longterm play here? Is it to get people on the phone? Is it to get people into a webinar? Is it to get people over to a sales page? Is it to get people on the phone? Right? So you've got to ask yourself, what is the longterm play here? Because a lot of people we hear, and I'm not dogging on it, cause I think it's true that the money is in your list. And so we build the list and thinking that's going to make us money. But if you don't have something to do with the list, you won't make money. So to me, the biggest mistakes are not knowing the value of a lead and not knowing the longterm play for your business.

Shannon Mattern: I'm so glad that you shared those metrics that you shared because I think one of the most tragic things that I see about people starting an online business is that they have such high expectations, outcomes right out of the gate that when the results don't meet those high expectations, they decide that their offers not good enough, that they're not good enough, that the market's over saturated and all of the things and they, they internalize it, that something's wrong with them. Rather than looking at the data in comparison to like, what are the benchmarks, what are the industry standards, where did this fall and what do I need to change for next time to make that happen? And, and I think understanding, you know, those conversion percentages and understanding, um, those benchmarks in those close rates and all those different things can just like make such a huge difference in someone's willingness to continue testing and changing. And testing and changing rather than thinking like, well, I only sold two, so this must be a horrible thing. It's like if you're right in line with those conversion percentages, great. Now you just need to go get more people. Right?

Zach Spuckler: Absolutely. And I love that you say that because I think the reality is we do have really high expectations, right? Yeah. I can't tell you when I was getting started, I was

Zach Spuckler: 2122 years old and I used to call my parents and be like, I'm about to do this launch, it's going to crush it. I'm totally going to quit my job and then it would fall flat. Right? And that happened like more times than I care to count. Right. And um, I think that we just, we, we see a lot of the flashy numbers and you know, what I always like to tell people is like, look, much like we hear like Instagram is the highlight reel. Advertising is totally to highlight reel, right? Like no one's like, Oh, you know, with, with a few exceptions, there are some really good ads. I've seen that talk about the failures. But for the most part, people aren't advertising their worst moments. They're advertising their best moments to show you what's possible. But that doesn't mean it's possible tomorrow. That doesn't mean it's possible. Next week it might be months or years before you hit the level of success that you think or have been, I'm told is like so easy to achieve in 30 days.

Shannon Mattern: Well, and I, and I feel like, you know, we're told it's easy to achieve in, in a certain time because you know, it's like, Oh, and, and, and I don't think that this is disingenuous, but it's like I'm shortcutting this process for you because I figured out all of the pitfalls. That's what, that's what, you know, people say when they're teaching a process or a strategy and [inaudible] and all that stuff and that's all fine and great, but at the same time, you also have to understand that you're going to need time to learn it. You're going to need time to implement it. You're going to have unique situations and scenarios that, um, will come up that might, you know, make it take a little bit longer for you to those results. So I think it's just, you know, be, be very patient and be very persistent.

Shannon Mattern: You know, people can absolutely help you shortcut, um, you know, the pain that they went through to figure it out. But there's really no shortcut for validation and testing and building your own audience and you know, and figuring out what that audit, how that audience thinks and talks about what they need. Um, that's a process that, that, you know, you can't really skip in my opinion. Absolutely. So you mentioned a couple things that made me think, um, yep. Me too. And that was like, Oh, I'm going to have this big launch and then I'm going to finally quit my day job. Like I thought that so many times and it was just like, ah, the day job is still here. Tell me about, um, was it, did you have a day job that you were trying to leave or was it your masters program? Like, what was that point at which you're like, okay, I'm going to take one foot out of like this traditional Midwest upbringing that I'm sure that we, since you are from my hometown or lived in my hometown that you know, [inaudible] I, and I think it's probably America too, not just Midwest, but like you get good grades in school, you go to college so that you can get the job so that you can get the mortgage, fund your retirement and then maybe live long enough to like actually travel and enjoy the money that you saved by working, um, forever.

Shannon Mattern: And for me, just growing up around people just like me, this whole other world of like being an entrepreneur and creating an income online seemed very like possible, but yet not for me, right? Not for like how I grew up in, not for what I know. And so, um, that decision to leave what everybody, I know thanks is like the safe way to go into this whole like you do what, what do you do? Like, I'm just like, Oh, I'm a web designer because that's the easiest thing to explain to people than to say, Oh, I teach people how to build websites and that I make money through teaching them how to do it. And they're just like, what? Like how does that happen? So I guess that was a long way of asking you, like, what was that transition like for you to, um, to just say, yeah, I'm not, I'm not doing this. I'm doing this whole different thing, which a lot of people don't really understand. Yeah.

Zach Spuckler: The big thing was like, number one, I don't think my family was surprised per se because I always pursued this type of thing. You know, for years and years I did freelance writing from my bedroom when I was 16 years old and I would like make money doing it. And so I don't think anyone was like massively surprised. I don't think they understood what I did at first. And now my parents do have like a really good grasp on it. Um,

Shannon Mattern: but

Zach Spuckler: you know, the big transition was like I was in a master's, I was working a day job. Um, I didn't have a full time job. I think I was working 20, 25 hours, just a week. Um, cause I was in uh, um, Oh, what do they call it? Uh, an assistantship. So I was working to pay my tuition and then I would go to school at night and you know, that I did not love that. Um, I remember, you know, driving to school one day and I'm a very emotional person so just be prepared for that. Um, I just remember like pulling over and just like crying because I was like, I do not want to do this. I do not want to go to class at 5:00 PM to learn about infectious disease. Cause I honestly don't care that much. I would rather be at home doing something that really lights me up and like this is not it.

Zach Spuckler: And I was originally going to school, uh, I got my undergrad in exercise science and I was originally going to school with the plan to transition from that to either occupational or physical therapy. And I was introduced to a class where we kind of trialed, um, occupational therapy and, and I, I hated it. I dreaded that class and it was like a hands on class where you worked with people. Um, and I felt like such a bad person cause you actually work with kids and everyone's like, this is so fulfilling. I love this, this is amazing. And I was like, I cannot handle another week of this. Um, but that was a huge eye opener that like I was on the wrong path and that I didn't love that. And like what I'd been doing in my spare time, I'm learning about marketing and SEO and all this stuff was like actually going to pay off if I pursued that further.

Zach Spuckler: So I think that the, the big transition was just like taking that leap. And I remember, I remember actually like being at my job and I know that this does not make me a good worker bee, but I was at my job and I was working on my followup emails for one of my webinars and I was like, this is going to be like a five figure launch. Like I'm going to make more money in the next week, then I'm going to make or have my tuition paid this entire semester. Like that was crazy to me. Um, and I don't know if that's fully accurate, but that's what it felt like. I don't really know how much my tuition was. Um, but that's what it felt like. And I was like, Oh my gosh, there is so much potential here. Um, and my parents were like, you know what, if you replace your income for six months, then I think it makes sense to leave.

Zach Spuckler: Um, I did it for three and was like, I'm leaving. Um, and that's, that's what I did. You know, I, I would, I would literally leave my job Periscope on my way from my job to the car and then I would drive home and then I would Periscope before my class and then I would do classes and then I would come home and I would Periscope again and I was Periscoping three to five times a day in between all this other stuff. Um, promoting my products, promoting my email list, promoting all of this stuff. Um, and you know, as some stroke of luck it worked out. I love that said that like,

Shannon Mattern: Oh this doesn't make me a good worker bee. Every side hustler out there works at work. I used to love when we would have like a meeting. I'm like, Oh yes we have a company meeting. Cause I can like open up my laptop and work on whatever I'm working on and look like I'm taking like furious notes because you know, this meeting is like pointless anyway. And so, you know, I get to sit here for like two hours and work on whatever I'm working on and I'm still here doing my job. I sitting in these meetings, I was like, I was totally the same way. I side hustled. Um, I side hustled for three years. Uh, the first year I kept it a secret is like a secret double life. So I was very shy about, um, having a, having a, a very public presence, um, online.

Shannon Mattern: So that was a little bit challenging. But then I was fortunate in those last two years that we had a change in leadership and my new boss was an entrepreneur. She was like, Oh, I actually own two other businesses and I'm the CEO of this company and you know, all the ideas that you're learning. Um, I consider this your professional development to go grow this business cause you're helping us. And I'm like, if only every employer had that attitude. Like you could keep us side hustlers longer and we could like help your bottom line so much when you let us, like also pursue our passions in addition, in addition to that. But, um, I really appreciate you sharing that story because, you know, everybody has a different, um, just a different experience about, about, you know, whether they were super risk averse to leaving the day job or what kind of guidelines or constraints that they gave themselves.

Shannon Mattern: And um, I love that you were like, I did it for three months and then I left. Like, I'm not waiting six. Like, I know this is happening and I'm doing it. So I love that. Um, so I have just a couple more questions for you before we wrap up. You grew your business from nothing too multi, I think over $1 million in revenue. That's accurate, right? Not in a single year. Right. But total over the past we did over 1.4 million in revenue over the four years that we did courses. That's amazing. That's amazing. So you [inaudible], you created all of that. Um, you know, you've been through the, the online course model, the one on one model, all of that. What is the number one piece of advice you would give a new entrepreneur who is, who's just getting started? Who wants to get where you are today. Yeah. So maybe it's a little controversial. Um, but what I like to say is like there is, there is a hustle phase of your business and I think now,

Zach Spuckler: um, it's really kind of, um, appealing to be like, you know, do things that feel good and you know, all of, all of that. Right? And I'm not saying that that's not true. Um, because it is, um, it is important to do things that feel in alignment. It is important to, um, it is important to do things that feel good and are in alignment with what we want to do and move us forward. Um, but there is a phase in your business where you've got to hustle, right? And the only way to supersede that is to make a big investment of, of money. Um, because then you can run ads or then you can hire someone or then you can do those things. But most of us start our side hustle or our, what we want to be our full time hustle was very minimal resources.

Zach Spuckler: Right? Because that's just how, you know, the, the majority of people listening to this are like, I know when I started, I saved up $2,000 in a savings account and that was everything I had to do it. And I invested like a thousand of it into an online course, right? So, you know, I didn't have a ton of money to do advertising. I didn't have a ton of money to hire a team. I didn't hire my first VA until I had done six figures in revenue. Now I would not recommend that looking back. Um, but there are phases at every level of your business where you've just got to hustle. And I think everybody defines that differently. And I think that there is this element of like, um, even the people who are like, don't hustle or hustle in their own way, right? It's just when you're in full alignment with what feels good, it doesn't feel like work.

Zach Spuckler: And I think that that's what we have to really wrap our minds around is like, sometimes it's work, sometimes it's hard, sometimes we don't want to do it. Um, sometimes we don't feel like doing it, but you've got to hustle through some of those phases if you want to take it to the next level. I remember just as a little side story, when we launch our first course, we, um, we launched it on a Saturday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and I was like, the whole thing will be ready for you by Friday, which was a huge mistake. And I remember when like Monday, I didn't want to do it. Tuesday, I didn't wanna do it. Wednesday I went to Starbucks to work on it and I just like went to the Starbucks bathroom and like cried it out because I was like, what are you doing? This is crazy.

Zach Spuckler: How are you going to meet these deadlines? Um, what are we possibly going to do? How am I going to make this happen? But I rallied, we hired somebody to do the slides. Um, we, uh, I think we hired somebody to create an intro like video for us. Um, we ended up making 2200 and investing about 1100 into the process of selling and creating it. And that was scary. And terrifying, but you know, I buckled in and we got that thing done by the end of day Friday. And um, I think that sometimes that happens in your business, you over commit or you under commit or you commit to the wrong thing and it's like that does happen. Um, and so there just phases where you've got to just hustle and put the work in.

Shannon Mattern: I am just sitting over here nodding, thinking yes, yes, yes to everything that you just said because you know, when we are just starting out, we have more time than we have money most of the time. And you know, I hear this advice all the time or it's like you shouldn't ever operate outside your zone of genius. And I'm like, that's a great goal to work towards. But I don't think that, you know, I teach web design, right? I don't think that every entrepreneur should always DIY their own website for forever. But I do think just kind of like how you talk about with Facebook ads, you have to have like a basic knowledge of how things work so that you know that you're getting something that's going to work for you in the future. And so I think it's just so important to learn what you need to learn, to be able to hire smartly and trust people and know the questions to ask and all those things like as you grow.

Shannon Mattern: But you're absolutely right there. There is a time where you just have to hustle your butt off. And you know, in those first few years, you know, I was working a full time job, you know, 40 50 hours a week with the commute on top of that. And then on top of that, I'm probably working another 40 hours on my side hustle, you know, all around that. And it's like, you know, people would tell me like, Oh, you're working too much. And I'm like, but this doesn't feel like work outside of this. So if this doesn't feel like work and it feels like fun and it's amazing and it's a hobby and I'm so excited about it, like I don't feel like I'm working too much, but I know that then there got to be these points where it was a grind and it was a drag and I did have to set my sights on like what is this all for?

Shannon Mattern: And just keep reminding myself like what is this all for? I will, I will ultimately get to that thing that I want, which is there's nothing like that. Freedom, flexibility and financial independence that comes with um, being your own boss and owning your own business. And like you got to make a move across the country without having to try to find a job out there. It's just like that ultimate freedom. So I really appreciate you pointing out that, that you know, there is, there is a period of you just got to like hammer down and make things happen for awhile. Yeah. So one more question. I asked this to everybody on the podcast, and that is what belief about yourself did you have to change to get where you are today?

Zach Spuckler: Oh, that's a good one. Um, you know, I think that the big belief that had to shift was like, this is possible for me. Yeah. Right. And so I think on a superficial level, we always are like, I do this or this is going to be the big launch, but on a deeper level, we're like, what if this doesn't work? And I had to really shifted the mindset of like, this will work. And even when it doesn't work, you're like, that's not, that is not attached to me. My, so maybe the belief is like, my worth is not determined by my net worth. Mmm. And it's like, you know, I did that. I remember, um, I remember the first time I hit six figures, I was like, I'm going to celebrate. I'm going to go to the mall. I used to be a big sneaker head and I'm somebody who collects sneakers.

Zach Spuckler: If you're like, what does that mean? Um, and I, I bought like one of my first pairs of shoes that was like full on retail way overpriced. Um, but I wanted them and so I bought them and I remember feeling like so empty and being like, this does not feel like any, any achievement at all because I had tied my worthiness to that number and I was like, when I buy that shoe, I'm going to feel worthy, right. I'm going to feel worth it. Um, and like it didn't happen. So I think for me the big belief that I just shipped was like, my worthiness is not tied to how much money I make. It's not tied to, um, how much revenue I generate. It's not tied to what I buy or what I do. Um, yes, all of that stuff feels good, but my worth is not my net worth.

Shannon Mattern: That is just like one of those kind of mic drop moments, you know, it's like that is it. It is. I mean, because we all, you know, we go into business because, well, not everybody, but I went into business because I wanted to make enough money to have the freedom. And then when you're focused on that bottom line all the time, I mean, even just last week, I've found myself obsessing over like, you know, my program that I just opened, am I going to hit that? Am I going to hit that goal? Am I going to hit that goal? And it's just like when I can pull myself out of that mindset and like switch to thinking like, Oh my gosh, how many people have I actually been able to help, you know, uh, accomplish what they want, which lets other people accomplish what they want.

Shannon Mattern: And it's just this way bigger ripple effect. And it's so much more important than like, how much money did I make last month? You know? And I think that I can get caught up in that just as easy as anybody else still six years in. I can still like find myself kind of getting sucked into that. Um, but the, and it's, it's not a good feeling. It's a very negative, empty, hollow feeling like you described. And it's like the way I, I've finally taught myself how to like reframe that and be like, that's not why you're doing this. You're doing this for those emails that people send you, that tell you like how something that you shared with them change their life. Like that's the stuff that is, um, the stuff that makes me feel great and I, I shouldn't even attach my worth to that. So I'm working on working on that too. But, um, I that, that's, that's, um, that's very, very powerful. So thank you for sharing that. So where can everyone learn more about you and connect with you and learn more about your ad's consultancy?

Zach Spuckler: Absolutely. So if you want to learn more, um, if you're a social creature, you can follow me over on Instagram at heart, soul hustle. Um, I recently did a little experiment where I took a long break from Instagram. So, um, you may see it's been a little quiet, but I plan on changing that in the next couple of weeks. Um, but over on Instagram or if you're like, I'm totally interested, I want to learn more. I want to see case studies. I want to find out more about this. You can head over to hard hustle.com where you can fill out an application to work with us and read more about our client case studies, listened to the podcast and then if you're looking for something really specific you can head over to heart, soul hustle.com forward slash case study where we have a full blown case study of one of our top clients that you can see how we work, what we do, how we create results for people and how we actually work with our clients.

Shannon Mattern: Very cool. Well thank you so much for being here. This was an awesome interview. I could ask you a million more questions, but we are out of time. So, um, I will link up everything that we talked about in the show notes and I really appreciate your time today.

Zach Spuckler: Yeah. Thank you so much for having me. It's been a blast.

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Resources mentioned in this episode:

  • Client Case Study: Creating $120K in Revenue Directly from Ads in an Online Course Launch


Zach Spuckler is the founder of Heart Soul & Hustle and creator of a podcast by the same name. After making over 1.5 million dollars in online courses and coaching sales he pivoted to serving that same audience with marketing services and consulting. He's now the chief marketing extraordinaire at his Facebook Ads & Consulting Agency where he works with his clients to achieve multi-six-figure launches, automated funnels and consults on marketing strategies for course creators looking to scale their business. You can learn more about him at HeartSoulHustle.com.

Connect with Zach:

Heart Soul Hustle Website