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The Product Comes Last

Jessi Frey and I are kindred spirits. I mean, I've never had a record deal or toured Europe with my band (I was president of my high school marching band) but we both want to be in control of our destiny. We want to own our time. We want to decide for ourselves how much money we make. We want to do something that matters and have freedom in the process.

Jessi launched The Great Gutsy “to explore the art of online business: how to start the right business for you, how to stick with it and how to make it flourish, so that you can own your work and life.”

Read on to learn more about Jessi, how she's built businesses with WordPress and get some advice you can use right now in your own business.

When did you start The Great Gutsy and why? 

I started The Great Gutsy in the beginning of 2015, so early days still! I started my previous business back in 2012, which was a natural cosmetics business. I created handmade skincare products and sold them almost exclusively online.

After two years, I realised that a product-based business wasn’t right for me, but I loved the online part, so decided to create The Great Gutsy around all the things I’ve learned – and keep learning about online business.

What do you feel makes your target audience special?

The people that I feel I can help the best are creative, idea people who struggle to figure out what it is that they want to do or how to make their ideas happen. I’ve been there myself and have gone through that process many times.

I have also worked as a product developer at Nokia and Microsoft, and a big part of my job is to clearly define, what it is that should be done and then making sure it happens.

Why did you decide to build your first WordPress site yourself? 

I built my first WordPress site back in 2007. I had an idea of an affiliate-style e-commerce shop, but I didn’t want to spend the money on getting it made for me. I knew how to build simple HTML websites, but my skills were way too basic for the vision I had for my shop. WordPress seemed like the perfect solution, as I was able to build my shop myself and it supported all the features that I wanted.

What was the most difficult thing about creating your first WordPress site?

For someone new to WordPress, I think this biggest problem is overwhelm. There are so many things that you can do, that it takes a while to get your head around what everything is and how it all works.

What was the easiest thing about it?

What I love about WordPress is that once you get the hang of it, you can make WordPress do almost anything you want. I built the webstore for my cosmetics myself from the ground up.

As my business expanded, I was able to make the required changes myself, and all on a shoestring budget. For example, I had a significant amount of customers from Finland, so I made my site multi-lingual and multi-currency, so I was able to serve my customers in the language and currency that they preferred.

Had I had my webstore created by an agency, I probably would have had to spend ten times more money and time to make it work the way I wanted.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking about starting their own business?

This is my biggest tip: The product comes last. Most people start their business with an idea of what they are going to sell. They make that thing, launch it, and then wonder where they are going to find customers. That’s a really difficult route.

Instead start with the people that you want to serve, and once you’re clear on that, listen to them, and THEN create the product that they need from you.

If you could go back in time and do something differently, what would you do and why?

I’d do the above! I made exactly that mistake with my cosmetics, and wasted time and money on creating products that people didn’t want.

You don’t really know what they want until you get out there. At the same time I don’t regret anything. Doing is much better than planning, and each experience will make you better at what you do.

How long did it take you to launch your site?

I’ve created so many WordPress websites by now, that to get the basics done for a brand new site takes me just a couple of hours. It’s the content that takes time. My cosmetics site took me probably a few of weeks because I needed to get payment systems, product pictures and lots of copy in place.

The Great Gutsy took me a long time in terms of market research and really figuring out what I wanted it to focus on. However, once I was ready to go, I had everything in place – including my free 30-page ebook for anyone who wants to sign up – in about a week.

I’m also a self-confessed theme junkie! Total waste of time, but I just love trying new themes out and seeing my site in a new dress. Haha!

How do you promote your site?

I’ve been getting active on some forums and Facebook groups. Twitter is always good, too. I have also been guest posting, and am looking to do more collaborations with other bloggers. I love doing interviews! I have also experimented with Facebook ads and have been getting great results with a very modest budget.

For the cosmetics I created competitions with giveaways and had them featured in beauty blogs. I also gave away free samples for people who signed up to my email list. These converted to sales really well.

Do you have an email list, and if so, what is the most effective way you have grown your email list?

Growing an email list is my priority #1 in terms of marketing. To do that I do all the above. Giving away a really good quality free gift for a sign-up is key. Not many people do that for physical products, but it worked amazingly well for my cosmetics.

For The Great Gutsy, I wanted to write a really compelling guide, addressing one of the biggest pain points that I knew people had, not holding anything back.

Do you earn money from your site, and if so, how? Affiliate marketing, ads, products, etc.? 

I haven’t monetised The Great Gutsy yet, but from my previous experience I can tell this: I’ll never put advertising on my site, it’s just ugly and doesn’t really pay for the pain. I will probably be an affiliate to products that I love and want to recommend. Mostly I’ll be looking at consulting and creating my own digital products.

Who are your favorite bloggers or podcasts?

I love the spunky style of Ash Ambirge from The Middle Finger Project. I am also an avid reader of Ramit Sethi’s I Will Teach You To Be Rich. My new girl crush is Kimra Luna, who is just insanely helpful. I follow Marie Forleo, Nathalie Lussier and Nathalie McNeil on Youtube as I really like video. My favourite podcast is Navid Moazzez’s Lifestyle Architect.

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

To everyone wanting to start a business, I say go for it! It’s a constant learning experience and so much fun. Learn to do things yourself, and you’ll get things done quicker and easier. You can upgrade to fancier stuff later, once you’ve got your business up and running. Be the boss and own your work, your money and your time. That’s the mantra I founded The Great Gutsy on.

I'm putting Jessi on my list of favorite bloggers! You should definitely check out The Great Gutsy for super-actionable online business advice. Also, be sure to download her free e-book on how to find the right idea for your online business. You can find Jessi on Twitter at and on Facebook at