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Ep. 33: Finding empowerment through financial freedom (Tori Dunlap, HerFirst100k)

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If we told you someone’s online audience grew from 30,000 to two million in just one year, would you believe us? That’s Tori Dunlap’s reality. After starting a blog about life as a woman in her 20’s while she was still working full-time in marketing, Tori found herself answering questions about all things finance. Not only that, but she realized that this was actually the thing that ignited her passions.

Then came HerFirst100k, Tori’s business dedicated to serving women all over the world. She empowers women to invest, pay off debt, conquer job interviews, and more. In this episode, Tori tells us about where she started before HerFirst100k, how setting boundaries was a pivotal moment in her business, why you shouldn’t shy away from charging what you’re worth, and so much more.

Today’s guest: Tori Dunlap, HerFirst100k

tori dunlap tori dunlap

Firstly, Tori Dunlap is an internationally-recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25, Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded HerFirst$100K. Her goal? To fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over one million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings, and invest.

Host of the #1 Business Podcast, Financial Feminist; author of the upcoming book “Financial Feminist” (Harper Collins); and Adweek’s “Finance Creator of the Year,” Tori’s work has been featured on Good Morning America, the Today Show, the New York Times, TIME, PEOPLE, New York Magazine, Forbes, BuzzFeed, CNN, CNBC, and more.

Currently, Tori travels the world writing, speaking, and coaching about personal finance, online businesses, side hustles, and confidence for women.

Where to find Tori:

Read the full transcript below.

Haleigh: Nothing gets me more hyped up than women standing in their power. It’s my favorite thing in the entire world. So yeah, that’s really the mission of her first 100k is how do we give women these actionable resources in order to leave toxic situations that don’t want to be in anymore start businesses, have kids or not have kids get married, not get married, retire early, donate to causes they believe in right? All of these options opened up to you and you’re financially stable.

Tori Dunlap is an internationally recognized money and career expert. After saving $100,000 at age 25. Tori quit her corporate job in marketing and founded her first 100k to fight financial inequality by giving women actionable resources to better their money. She has helped over 1 million women negotiate salary, pay off debt, build savings and invest. Host of the number one business podcast financial feminist, author of the upcoming book of financial feminist, and ad week’s finance creator of the year Tory’s work has been featured on Good Morning America. The Today Show the New York Times time people New York Magazine, Forbes, BuzzFeed, CNN, CNBC, and more.

Welcome to Everything Is Teachable. The podcast that takes you behind the scenes to learn how everyday creators have transformed their skills and passions into online courses and businesses.

If I told you someone’s online audience grew from 30,000 to 2 million in just one year, would you believe me? That’s Tori Dunlap’s reality. After starting a blog about life as a woman in her 20s while she was still working full time and marketing, Tory found herself answering questions about all things finance on a consistent basis. Not only that, but she realized that all things finance was actually the thing that ignited her passions the most. Then came her first 100k Tori’s answer to empowering women all over the world to invest, pay off debt, conquer job interviews, and more. In this episode of everything is teachable. Tori tells us all about where she started before her first 100k how setting boundaries was a pivotal moment in her business, why you shouldn’t shy away from charging what you’re worth, and so much more. Let’s say hello to Tori. Tori, I am so so happy to have you on the show. I’ve been looking forward to this all week long. And I’m so glad you’re here with me. How are you doing?

Tori: Thank you so much for having me. I’m doing well. How are you doing?

Haleigh: I’m doing great. That’s a perfect way to kick off the week. Let’s go ahead and jump right in, shall we? So I’d love you know, I know you’ve talked about this quite often on your social media. But for people who are new to you who don’t really know you quite yet, I’d love for you to tell us a little bit more about pre her first 100k Tori. So where did you begin before becoming a full time entrepreneur?

Tori: Yeah, so a lot of people are shocked to discover that I did not study business in college, I did not study finance. I studied organizational communication and theater in college. So I got a BS and org calm and a BA in theater. And yeah, the plan was to go into marketing and work my way up through a corporate environment doing social media, calm community engagement. And so the goal Yeah, when I was in college, I first wanted to be an actor realized I craved more stability than that provided and was like, Okay, calm seems to be a really good happy medium of all of the storytelling aspects, connecting with people, the things I loved about theater. And so I was like, okay, the goal is to work my way up the corporate ladder, maybe be like VP of Marketing by 30. So I got into my first job out of school, within probably two weeks, I realized the corporate was not going to be for me forever. I didn’t like making somebody else rich. I didn’t like working and having to be subordinate to people I didn’t respect and, yeah, I felt very much this urge to do my own thing. And I always knew I wanted to be an entrepreneur, I again, just thought like, oh, it’ll be later it’ll be, maybe I can start in my late 20s. And maybe when I’m, you know, in my 30s, I can, you know, run my business full time. Who knows. So I started her first 100k in late 2016, as originally a blog. Like I said, I graduated that year. Obviously Trump got elected, I was coming into adulthood and coming into womanhood in a very different America than I expected to be. And and then I think a lot of us expected to be and I realized through conversations with friends, that there was just this huge gap in terms of the financial knowledge between men and women, and that it was our best form of protest. Having that financial education having that financial knowledge was our best way to bridge that inequality. gap. So I don’t think we have any sort of equality for marginalized groups until we have financial equality. And in reflecting back on my childhood, I realized my parents were educating me about money. We’re having transparent conversations about money that was very much a given in my house, and thought that was the norm. I thought everybody knows not to overspend on credit cards, everybody knows how to manage their money and when I was the friend all of my friends were coming to for advice and guidance, I realized that I had with that privilege came a responsibility so I started what was a blog in late 2016 or later evolved into her first 100k I was running it on the side of my nine to five and marketing and yeah, just kind of had a crazy 2019 we built a ton of momentum and right before COVID happened in November of 2019 I quit my quit my job to run her first 100k full time and haven’t looked back since.

Haleigh: An amazing story and were there little moments that led up to being like Alright, now it’s time to start my own thing or was there anything in particular that really pushed you to make that move to entrepreneurship? Or was it just kind of like over time?

Tori: I mean, it was a bunch of little things I actually started my first business when I was nine so I owned vending machines the type where you put a quarter and you get a handful of candy out I own 15 of those by the time I graduated high school so yeah, I gotten a taste of entrepreneurship loved it obviously very different you know, running it as an adult and running an actual a larger business than that was but I think it was just these little moments of just like the obvious things in corporate but that you don’t realize until you’re graduated and you’re working like oh, I have to I have to ask to go on vacation and I only get an X amount of vacation days a year and I have to work for this person who’s toxic and misogynistic and I have to respect him even though I don’t like him and I have to yeah make him rich and it was just it didn’t sit right and it was also yeah it was just the realization once I found what my mission was, I very much believe it was what I was put on this earth to do and it’s it’s so I see the impact our work has literally every day and I didn’t see that in corporate not even close right I didn’t see that we get messages every 10 minutes from a woman somewhere in the world that our advice has changed her life and that’s the coolest thing. So like there’s the part of the business that has impacted me personally I mean I’m making way more money than I ever did a corporate I am employing people now I’m giving them jobs we have a team you know I have the flexibility to work from wherever I’m actually about to go digital nomad and like a month and all this flexibility I know I’m very excited we can talk about I’m very little scared intimidated by it. So like the flexibility to do that and then on the flip side of just the mission of her first 100k like we are a community now of 2 million people like it’s so crazy wow yeah I think it was just these little moments of my own personal realization of like okay, I don’t want to do this forever. I don’t want to be financially dependent on a toxic situation because a lot of us are financially dependent on our jobs and some of us love that some of us love our work some of us love you know the corporate environment I had good jobs I also had terrible jobs but as a whole I was like this is not for me I don’t I don’t love this and so it was the personal aspect of me being able to run my own thing make a lot more money have a lot more flexibility and then on the flip side just yeah the realization that there’s so much work to be done in our society there’s so much work to be done in terms of equality and nothing gets me more hyped up than women standing in their power it’s my favorite thing in the entire world So yeah, that’s really the mission of her first okay is how do we give women these actionable resources in order to leave toxic situations that don’t want to be in anymore start businesses have kids or not have kids get married, not get married, retire early, donate to causes they believe in right? All of these options opened up to you and you’re financially stable. So yeah, it was these two aspects of the personal aspects of me wanting to be an entrepreneur for all these personal reasons and then also the realization that we could make a huge impact running the business that we run now.

Haleigh: Yeah, and I mean, I personally have been so inspired by all of the amazing content and advice and insights that you put into the world so I mean, hearing first of all that there’s a community of 2 million people that is crazy. It’s amazing peasy.

Tori: This time last year so we’re recording this in July so July 2020. We had a community of 30,000 What’s my god I was about 30. 35,000 wow, you know, crazy crazy.

Haleigh: I had that question slated for later but I actually want to talk about that now because that is that’s that’s good. So I jumped that I’ve jumped the shark I’m no please. It’s fine. We can hop all over the place. So yeah, your community has seen crazy, crazy exponential growth. So what advice and what kind of strategies have you used and do and currently use to build that really strong, really tight knit community online?

Tori: Yeah, my number one rule, my number one, like business ethos is serve before you sell. Always, always, always, always, you need to make sure that you are giving value and providing value to somebody’s life before you try to ask them for anything, ask them for their money, ask them for their time, ask them for Yeah, a follow right, you have to make sure that you are giving value that you are serving them before you ask for anything serve before you sell. So this works for me, like posting really actionable advice in a tech talk video, or offering a free course online or engaging in answering comments on an Instagram Live, it looks like me running my business for two, almost three years before I made any money off of it. Because it was a lot of me developing that trust and credibility with my audience. Of course, I come from a marketing background. And I see people do this all the time, I see new business owners do this all the time, they think, okay, the the way I’ll get followers is by selling my products. So like, I’ll sell my products, and then people will follow me on Instagram, or, you know, I will, I will push my services, I’ll push coaching, I’ll push you know, courses or whatever, right? And then people will follow me, that’s not how that happens, right is it is so much harder, but so much better, to build that trust and credibility, and then leverage them into customers, because you’ve already done the hard part, right? You’ve already built that relationship with them. So they’re willing to give away their hard earned money to you because they know that what you have produced is going to be valuable, because you’ve already built that trust with them. Right, you’re not asking them right off the bat, do something for me, and then I’ll do something for you later. That’s not how this works, right? That’s not going to develop trust, that’s not going to develop a good solid relationship. And I think that that’s one of the reasons we have the community that we do is we’re so focused on providing value we’re so focused on, you know, making sure that people feel like this community is of value to them. And that isn’t work for free. I want to be clear, that’s not do things for free. That’s not under compensate yourself. That’s more make sure again, that you have this service focus mindset as opposed to like, gimme, gimme, gimme all the time. I think the other thing that we have been really thoughtful and intentional about is, of course, my thing is money, buy things personal finance, business development, you know, debt payoff, savings, investing in starting businesses, especially geared towards women. But I have chosen to be, you know, pretty transparent with my audience about just who I am and what my life is. And I think a lot of business owners get in this rut of like, Okay, this is my niche, and I just have to talk about this all the time. No one wants to hear about me talk about anything else. If you follow me, you know, like, I’m obsessed with Timothy shallow May, like fried chickens, my favorite food, like, you know, I literally posted today of like, I have all of these interviews with different media outlets. And I’m like, it’s also day one of my period. And like, you know, I didn’t do what men can do bleeding, you know, and I already knew I didn’t even have a hashtag on it. I know, my audience well enough to know, I was like, this post will perform great, right? Yeah, it’s I don’t have to, I don’t have to just stick to the thing that people came there for. Right? Because again, we’re building that trust and credibility, we’re building a relationship with this person, right? And some of my favorite relationships in real life. Right? You know, maybe they started as business relationships. And now I know that this person personally, and I trust them more for it, I like them more for it, I want to spend more time with them. So that’s the other thing is, is don’t be afraid to to offer a different perspective on something else. If somebody is coming to you for I don’t know, personal fit, you know, Personal Training, or, you know, I don’t know, like, I’m looking at all my plants in my apartment. somebody’s looking at coming to you for plant care, I don’t know, right? And you can talk about things besides that, right? If you make courses about business development, talk about your own business, talk about how you developed that talk about the struggles around that talk about you being able to go on vacation now that you have a business right, there’s other things that you can talk about besides the thing that you’re trying to market? Yeah, so I think that that’s worked really well for us as well.

Haleigh: Oh, definitely. I mean, yeah, not only have your have you and your team produce content that’s so valuable, it’s so consistently that way too, which is so important. And like you’re saying, in order to build trust, people are following you for a reason they just they also want to get to know you and I like as a follower of your Instagram. I love seeing like inside views into your life like what you’re doing. What’s Timothy shallow, am I doing I love that. I think it’s amazing, amazing on a red carpet. So let’s get it all the time. Looking stunning all the time all the time.

Tori: I think I think that that’s part of it is and you also have to decide especially like we were talking about the growth of like 30,000 followers to 2 million. I, we’ve had a lot of growth pains just with me navigating what that looks like, I get recognized in public now. That’s weird, exciting. But like, yeah, that didn’t happen last year. You know, I was very upfront about like, who I was dating last year and now I’m I’m, that’s something I want to keep private. So it’s just like that those are the things that you have to figure out is like, yes, if you want to showcase parts of yourself, if you want to invite your audience in amazing. Also, you need to figure out what your boundaries are. And I’ve kind of had to learn that the hard way of you know, I was I was very, very open and candid about a lot of things in my life. And, and I’ve kind of scaled that back a little bit. I’m not being dishonest. I’m not lying in any way, right? But there is a, there’s a certain point where you have to establish Okay, what do I feel comfortable discussing publicly? And what do I not feel comfortable discussing, and those things can change, especially as your audience changes? So yeah, I’m not saying you know, if you if you’re not comfortable unveiling your entire life, please don’t do that. That’s probably not the healthiest thing to do. But, you know, it is important to infuse part of yourself You don’t have to be like the buttoned up professional all the time, I just condensed like four minutes into like a TLDR. But literally, that’s the thing. It’s like, don’t just talk about the thing that they’re you think you’re quote unquote, supposed to talk about? There’s other parts that you can showcase that are not the you know, pencil skirt, blazer buttoned up version of whatever you’re trying to talk about?

Haleigh: Exactly, yeah, it’s always okay to be a little bit vulnerable, according to what’s comfortable for you. Right? That’s a really good segue, though, because something that I really admire about you, is that you are really, really good at setting boundaries. And I was wondering if that’s something that we could talk about?

Tori: I don’t know. I don’t feel great all the time. But um, yes, the process is yeah, I mean, you know, you said that it, like I said, it’s a learning process. It’s all just even getting started with them can be hard sometimes. So kind of, how did you kind of learn to better set boundaries for yourself, especially once you started seeing so much more growth, just things started getting crazier? What were some of the things that you tried to implement into your life to do that. So one of the beautiful things about building the trust that we have with our community is that they will be very open with us. And they will come and slide into our DMS and write us multiple paragraphs about what’s going on in their life and what they’re struggling with. And I don’t know how much you know, about like, enneagram I am a textbook enneagram. Two, I wanted to look at so you know, enneagram to our core motivation is like, love and be loved. We’re very, like service oriented. I will help you like whatever you need. The joke is literally I will walk to the end of the earth for you. But I need you to thank me for it. That’s like our big thing, right? It’s like, yeah, I need to be acknowledged for it. And what started happening is the more and more we grew, I felt whether it was it was definitely it’s not this amount of people directly. But I started to feel okay, I have now 100,000 people knocking at my door. Now I have 500,000 people now I have a million now I have 1.2. Now I have one point, right? And I literally one time, I’ve done this with my team to I googled what 100,000 people in a stadium looks like. And I’m like, oh, now we need to multiply that by, you know, at the time was a million at most, right? by 10. Right? Me who just wants to be helpful. It was so overwhelming. I do not have a million people, my dams, let’s clarify. But the feeling of that I’m knowing right, that I have a million people’s financial tragedies, financial trauma, knocking at my door and asking for my help. Beautiful, beautifully into it. Also exhausting. Absolutely exhausting. And so we had to turn dams off and Instagram. Like, we just turned the AMS off. And there’s ways to get in contact with us, right? There’s also i do i do coaching, right? That’s what coaching is there for? And I can’t afford coaching. That’s what courses are there for. And if you can’t afford courses we have, we have free you know, we have all of these digestible things. And we had to get we had to get Yeah, much more intentional about setting these boundaries, and it’s something we’re still struggling with. I think the other thing that if you’re listening if you’re either a business owner or you know very well if you’re a business owner, but if you are someone who asks, have your online creators, please, please, please do the research first. One of the things I see because people are stressed and they don’t know where to turn and they feel Oh whelmed as they go, Oh, I just don’t know where to start, tell me where to start. I literally have a web page on my website called start. I have a start here, highlight, I have, you know, I can’t make it any more obvious. And so I just need you to do like two seconds of heavy lifting. I need you to go look at the resources that are already available. Because chances are you’re not alone. You’ve asked a question that probably a bunch of other people have asked. And so I’ve created a resource for it. So I think that that’s the other thing is it was continues to be overwhelming when people were like, I don’t know where to start. And I’m like, I don’t know how to make this easier. Like, giving you all the resources. I just need you to consume them. Right. Right. I have I’m teaching you how to fish. I just need you to go click play, right. Yeah. And so I think that that’s the other than the other frustrating thing is I know all of these people’s intentions are beautiful. It’s also so much emotional labor for me and my team. Absolutely. I it’s so much labor for me and my team.

Haleigh: I think it’s called compassion, like compassion, compassion, fatigue.

Tori: I literally only figured this out because BetterHelp sponsored our podcast, and I got I got some free therapy through them, which was great to know about the experience. And literally like in the survey you fill out, like when you’re trying to find a therapist, they’re like, Are you suffering from you know, depression, anxiety. It was like compassion fatigue. I was like, What is that? They googled it? And I was like, Nope, that’s it.

Haleigh: Like, yeah, no.

Laura: No, it’s literally that’s literally what it is. And it sounds for those of you who don’t know, cuz I didn’t until a couple months ago. It’s exactly how it sounds like you were exhausted from serving all the time. You’re exhausted from trying to like, give up yourself. So yeah, we’ve had to become way more strict on our boundaries. We used to respond to every email, we don’t anymore. And it’s not because we don’t care. We care very, very, very much. But it’s like, yeah, imagine 2 million people pounding on your door, asking me for help, like, literally unloading their their significant trauma onto you, which, again, is beautiful and intimate. And I’m so thankful that people feel that level of trust, but it’s also super overwhelming. But more actionable things that we’ve done. Yeah, we’ve turned off our dams. We don’t answer all of our emails. And we give, we have an auto reply that goes out to our general email of like, here’s where you can find a bunch of resources for these certain things. It goes back and forth. There’s days where I’m not on Instagram at all, and my team handles all of it. I also love the community. So it’s still something I’m navigating of, like, how do I be on social media as a consumer and not as a business owner? I don’t have a fence stuff. Maybe at some point. I will right now like my Instagram is the her first 100k Instagram. So if I want to go on Instagram, I also see the comments flooding in, I have my notifications turned off. So that’s one good thing. I don’t have any notifications for any social media. Yeah, and just I think, emotionally allowing myself some slack of just when people put these things on us, just understanding that I am only one person, I’m going to do everything I can to help people. But ultimately, we just can’t, we just can’t intimately help everybody that we want to help. And the way we navigate that is Yeah, like creating courses or creating, you know, more general content that can hopefully serve them in a different way. So right yeah, it’s been tricky. We’re still navigating it.

Haleigh: Yes, it’s all a process. And you know, I think I’m sure you can agree with this. One thing for anyone who’s maybe in the same boat is remembering it’s you just have to release the guilt that comes along with feeling like you do have to answer every single question that comes in. Because I think

Tori: It’s a guilt that women especially carry, because we have been conditioned to be caregivers, right? That’s our, we’ve always been told as women that’s our primary purpose in this world is to be a caregiver to a spouse, caregiver to children caregiver to ailing family member family members. And it’s the same thing as a business owner is like, Okay, I have to take care of everybody. And it’s like, you literally physically can’t. So you have to let that go. And the other thing that has been the most helpful delegate, hire people, if you are a team of one, and you can afford to not be a team of one anymore, even if it’s just for five hours a week, I hired somebody again for 510 hours a week when I was working nine to five, because it was over so overwhelming. So right if you can afford to hire people, or if you can make make the budget work in order to hire somebody, please do that. Could not recommend it enough.

Haleigh: What are some good resources that people could use to find like a VA or, or something along those lines?

Tori: Yeah. I have a friend Jess, who also is a tech talker. It’s how we connected and her whole thing is she was a VA and teaches other VA how to be a VA so I can send you her link to put in the show notes. She’s a great resource. For me a lot of it’s just been like word of mouth. It’s a lot of finding really good people through others. If you have a business owner you admire, message them, email them and just be like, Hey, who’s your team? Who do you work with and Do you know anybody, right? There’s also just typically you can go on somebody’s website and see who they work with, right? Who designed their website, it’s probably credited at the bottom, who their publicist is, you could go see, you know, on their press page. So if you have somebody you admire, Go, Go see who they work with. But a lot of mine, I, my whole hiring thing has been actually very unique. Other than one person who’s on our marketing team, she is older than me, I’m 27 just turned 27. Other women, thank you appreciate it. Other than Kristin, who is our marketing, more of our marketing managers who’s older than me, everyone else on our teams under the age of 23. When I did that, very strategically, because I like making them into my little Frankenstein. Like I like I like being able to hire people who are really hard workers, and who really care about the mission and train them to do what I want them to do. And it doesn’t work for everybody. But when especially when my business was first starting, I couldn’t afford to pay like an expert’s $100 an hour, right. But I could, I could use some of my own time to Yeah, again, train people to be able to give these 20 year olds jobs, who I really love and whose work I love. And I think hiring based on character and based on work ethic, rather than skills has been huge, because skills are trainable character isn’t, you know, or I can I can teach you a certain system, I can teach you how I want an Instagram caption written, I can’t teach you initiative. I can’t teach you, you know, to care about what what we’re building. So I think that that’s one of the things that I did that was really smart is find people who I really like and respect and who were really, you know, really good at working hard, and then training them to do the things that I wanted to do. Yeah, that’s

Haleigh: Amazing. I think I’m really appreciative for you sharing all of that, I think that a lot of fellow creators struggle with you being a one person team sometimes. And it’s like, and it’s okay to get help. It is okay to have extra support

Tori: Necessary. It’s a multi seven figure business now I would not have it without my team. Not even close, not even close. That’s why Yeah, if there is, it’s not even no shame, it is the smart business thing to do. Definitely, like, if you can afford to hire somebody, and you’re not hiring somebody, that’s not a good business decision. Like right, we’re gonna burn out, that other person can help with so many other things. I’m shocked sometimes where people will still think I do this all myself. And I’m like, how, how do you think I do this all myself? Like I can’t even imagine, right? So yeah, if you can afford help, or if you can, again, like flip this switch here in order to to free up funds, please do it. It will be it will make so much of your life and your business easier. And we’ll be able to scale your business, I would not have been able to grow my business as fast if I didn’t have a team just not even close. So yeah, that and terms of boundary setting that’s been hugely impactful in terms of describing the business. And yeah, allowing, allowing us to do more things and serve more people in different ways. Yeah, being able to expand and being able to do more with the power of a team has been huge.

Haleigh: Definitely, that is so so valuable. And you know, as you’re saying, you know, at this time last year, your audience was like around 30,000 people, which is still even at that point really great. No, we were super happy with that. So definitely, and you know, I’m sure at that time, something that and I think I’ve mentioned this in previous episodes already, but some piece of advice that we give new creators who are kind of thinking about Okay, well what kind of online course topic do I want to do? I don’t know where to begin, we usually ask them, what kind of questions do you tend to get all the time and that’s probably a good indicator that you should start online course around that so I kind of wanted to ask you and start to dive into that a little bit. What At what point after becoming like full time entrepreneur, did you decide that bringing online courses into your business would be the way to go?

Tori: I so appreciate you saying that because that’s what I tell people all the time your audience will tell you what they want. Right? And that’s the power again of serving before you sell is you have an audience that you can ask, you have an audience who is ready and excited to buy what you’re selling. And that way you know you have customers, you know you people are going to buy it if you’ve asked them for what they want and you give it to them. The course has kind of happened over a period of time and running my business wanting to make it more and more passive. So I was doing one on one coaching. My my like early introductory rate was an hour for $49 so long are so cute. Oh. And then I moved I was doing coaching for probably six months to a year and was doing Like these one off sessions, and I was doing that for a while, and it was just too active, it was just a different person every time for an hour. And typically, like we would only work together for like one, maybe a couple hours. Most people it was just like a one hour kind of deep dive. And it was a lot of my own time. And I was like, okay, a lot of my own time, and I’m getting asked the same questions 90% of the time, there’s a little bit of a difference, but pretty much I’m getting asked the same questions, where do I start? How much do I need an emergency fund, I can’t figure out budgeting, what do I do. So after about six months of that, six months of really testing, I was testing my content, I was testing how to, you know, showcase these concepts and building my own confidence and teaching them, I moved more into a workshop model. So I took you know, that 90% content that was that was familiar that was consistent and turn that into a workshop that was an hour for a certain price point that anybody could tune in from, you know, anybody could tune in from anywhere at a specific time. And then they get the replay did that for a while it helped in terms of you know, I only had to do this once, or maybe twice a month. But still a lot of my time in terms of the prep for the workshop, making sure buddy had the link, you know, all of that. And so tested, the content got really clear again, about what I wanted to cover in the workshop, answer people’s q&a live. So I knew, you know, what questions do they still have wrote all of those questions down. And so from the coaching came the workshop from the workshop came, of course, right, that was kind of a natural transition, is I was able to test my content and still get paid for it right? And all of these different different ways, and continually make it more passive. So now with a course unless somebody has like a, you know, logistical question, like I can’t log in pretty much everything through teachables automated for us. So you know, we can we can serve way more people, we can get a lot more people in and out with less of our active time. And that’s really been nice. It’s a lot of upfront work to create a course a lot of upfront work to create funnels and to create a sales page and to create the actual content and, and to market it and to make sure people can find it. But once you do all that, it’s pretty hands off at that point other than like answering questions and comments, if that’s something you want to do.

Haleigh: Okay, yeah. And something I would love to know. And something that I think that is kind of like a little bit of a hot topic is really making sure that online course creators are keeping their students super engaged, and excited to go through the curriculum. What are some, like strategies that you’ve either learned early on or something that you’ve implemented? With your online courses that have you? Have you seen any improvements in student engagement or certain things that you’ve tried that have really worked well for you?

Tori: Yeah, one of the things is that pretty much in every module, we encourage them to go to the comments. So we encourage them to engage in the comments, either reflect on the material, we do a lot, I’m a big like, journal person, so all of my courses have some sort of journaling aspect to them. So we either have them share, like their journal thoughts in the comments, or you can even journal in the comments. Some people do that. And the cool thing that starts to happen is not only do we have people going in to share their own thoughts, is that other people will comment with them. So then they’re connecting in the comments. And then it becomes this kind of organic community that you know, we hoped for, but didn’t necessarily plan for. So that’s one nice thing is it’s allowing them to share information, allowing them to reflect and be like, Oh, yeah, that was useful, and then talk to other people about it. So that’s been really helpful. And we also have our team in there answering questions. So if you do have a specific question that you don’t feel like the the curriculum acknowledged or answered, we do our best to get in there and answer it for you as well. So yeah, I think that that’s one way we’ve we’ve allowed people to engage and to keep coming back, we also make our courses unlimited in terms of accessibility, that’s not the choice we made of like, the joke is like, you have this course until I die. You have it for as long as long as you want. So you can blaze through it in a day and then come back in a year, you can do one module every week, you can again, come back as your life changes, like, you know, I have a course about about negotiating your salary. And we don’t only cover negotiating a salary in a new job, but also negotiating for a raise. And this is material that you’re going to pay, I think we’re at 197. So $200 for and you’re gonna have as material for your entire life. And so that’s a great way for, you know, to increase the value. People feel much better about that, knowing that they can consume it at their own pace, and come back to it whenever but also they’re going to be in there all the time. And we have people yet who blazed through it in a day and then come back in the year and they’re like, Oh, this didn’t connect with me back then because I didn’t need it or I needed to hear this again, because I’m in a different place in my life. So I think that that’s one great value add that allows the course to become an easier sell, but also has people you know, integrate themselves into the course more and more frequently.

Haleigh: Oh, definitely giving, I think giving people the opportunity to kind of be autonomous with how they approach the curriculum, especially for such evergreen topics like that is so important. That’s really great.

Tori: Yeah, and there’s no panic. I think a lot of people like, I’ll do like, you know, maybe a sale on the course. And they’ll be like, Okay, what, but like, when does the material expire? And I’m like, never like never, like never. They’re like, great, cool, like, it’s a no brainer. At that point, you know, you could buy it now and not consume it for a year and come back when you need it.

Haleigh: That’s the best. I love that. Something that I’d love to know, if you’re starting your business today. What are some things that you would do right off the bat?

Tori: Whoo, it’s a great question. Hey, the number one thing, it’s classic marketing, MBA shit, but like customer persona, super humble. Customer persona is simply you’re sitting down and you’re defining who your ideal customer is. Now, your customer is not always going to look like this person. But this is the person who you’re creating marketing materials for us is the person who you have in mind when you’re creating products. So mine is Jennifer. She’s 29. She lives in New York, she doesn’t have kids, she’s engaged, she makes around 70 to $75,000 a year. She’s ambitious, she knows generally how personal finance works, but wants to level up her life. You know, she’s actually she’s very similar to me. And so I think that getting really clear on your customer persona, yeah, their demographic information, what their interests are, what they like, and don’t like what TV shows they watch, like, do they travel? Where do they travel? Like, that’s really, really helpful. And just in terms of thinking through who your business is for, and then test it constantly test your customer persona. Is this actually who you’re talking to? Is this actually who you want to talk to. And if you’re getting a bunch of people who, you know, for me, if I was getting a bunch of like, 55 year old guys were following me, that probably means I’m doing something wrong. either. I actually should be appealing to them. And they’re actually my target market, or my content does not aligning with who I’m trying to market it to. Right. And that’s the other thing that I wish I would tattoo this on new entrepreneurs, foreheads, trying to be everything to everybody make sure nothing to nobody. Oh, trying to be everything to everybody and make sure nothing to nobody. We are so eager to get customers and to gain followers and to expand our business. Right? That we’re like, Okay, I’m I for me, it would be like, okay, I am personal finance, right? Or, like, I’m money in every aspect of business and every aspect. And that’s not specific enough, both from me trying to create content. And also if someone comes and finds me, they’re gonna be like, is this for me? Like, what? What’s this girl’s deal? Like, I don’t know anything about what she’s trying to do? And yes, I ostracized a bunch of people by bleep being blatantly feminist. I also created brand ambassadors and brand evangelists by doing that, right? I was really clear that like, money and politics are interrelated. You can’t separate them. They’re inseparable, right? We’re going to talk about how money affects us differently. We’re going to see personal finance as a form of protest. It’s largely for millennial and now with tik tok with Gen Z women who are liberal left leaning, right? Who are that’s my target market. Yeah, I ostracized a lot of people. But I got really clear on who my market was, and who I wanted to talk to. Don’t try to be everything to everybody, because it’s not going to give you a clear direction. And people will also not be able to connect with you. Because they don’t know if what you’re producing is for them. And that’s something that I had to kind of learn as I went of realizing, like, Oh, this is who I want to talk to. And, and yes, that might mean less customers at first, but ultimately, I’m going to be better off for it. And of course, I have men follow me I have women in their 60s, follow me, right. So hey, you know, they will find your content anyway. And people outside of your target market will find your content, but that’s the person you’re trying to speak to above Anybody else?

Haleigh: Definitely. And what advice would you have for someone who is interested in idea of becoming an entrepreneur, but they’re like, I have so many interest? What do I choose? Where do I even begin?

Tori: Almost like I have a course for that? No, I literally have I literally have a course called idea to income for somebody who’s starting starting to grow side hustles. So whether that’s wanting to be an entrepreneur or just wanting to make money on the side, the entire first module is just trying to figure out like, what the idea actually is and how to flesh it out. We do journaling prompts, we figure out like how much time do you have, what passions and skills do you have that you want to leverage? So that’s a shameless plug for my course. But I think therefore it one of the smartest things I did was Yeah, start a side hustle because it was a great way to To take my time and test a bunch of different things. In 2016, when I started, I was not the personal finance person, like that wasn’t the thing. I was writing a blog for 20 something women and sharing my experience. So I was talking about career I was talking about travel, I was, you know, talking about things that interest me. And what I realized over like a year, year and a half is that the common thread was money, I would talk about travel, but I talked about, like, how I scored this crazy flight deal, or how I negotiated like, my, my car rental down and realize, like, Oh, this is really what I’m passionate about. It’s just through the lens of all these different things. So that took a while I didn’t, you know, I didn’t pop out of the womb being like, yes, it’s gonna be financial feminism in this way, and I’m gonna do courses, and I’m gonna do speaking, and it’s gonna be a podcast, like, I didn’t know that, and I wouldn’t have known it had I not tested it over time. So don’t be afraid to just get started. That’s the other big advice I’d give somebody is we get so caught up with, like, what should my logo be? What should my brand color be? What should my website look like, and it’s like, I just need you to fucking get started. I just need to get started. You can figure all the rest of that out later, like her first 100k didn’t even exist in its current iteration till early 2019, I operated under a different name, I rebranded them, hey, you can do that, right. And you’re only going to figure that out by continuing to iterate and, and work through that. So yet, don’t be afraid of getting started. Even if it’s quote unquote, wrong, you’re going to figure it out, right, you’re going to figure out what’s wrong, and then you’re going to pivot, and it’s going to be fine. And then I also was so glad that, you know, my nine to five was my first investor, I don’t have any investors, my nine to five was my first investor, I took all the money from a nine to five. And that was the stability, it gave me the opportunity to build my business really slowly, and to make the big decisions, because I wasn’t dependent on my business, to pay my rent, or to pay my bills. So yeah, it’s not for everybody side, hustling and hustle culture has definitely been glorified in a really negative way. But if you can side hustle, and that’s of interest to you, it’s a really great way to test a business idea over time without burdening it too quickly.

Haleigh: I love that so much. That’s amazing. But something that I think people have a lot of trouble with, is charging what they’re worth, whether that’s for certain events, or even pricing their course, what advice would you have for people who don’t really know where to begin with pricing?

Tori: The amount of times I have sat with entrepreneur friends, and just been like, this price, and they’re like, yeah, that sounds good. Like To be honest, and no one’s gonna tell you that. But that’s truly what ends up happening a little bit as you like, throw spaghetti at a wall and see if it sticks. In terms of the the practical side of it, is I really tried to think through, like, what is my cost per hour? How many hours am I spending on this? So if I spent 100 hours on this course, and I’m pricing it at $50? Not a great use of my time, right? Not a great use of my time or money. So I think that that’s part of it is figuring out, like how much time went into this? How many expenses do you have? We have to pay taxes? entrepreneurs seem to forget that, right? Yeah, like when you get a W two paycheck, when you get a corporate paycheck, your tax has been taken out. If you get $97 from a course, you gotta pay taxes and expenses on top of that, right? You got your fees, and you’ve got probably 30 to 40% and tax. So like, factor that in when you are in sales tax on top of it, factor it in, right when you are when you are pricing your pricing yourself pricing your courses, you can ask your audience, however, that’s not sometimes the best use of your ask. Because some people just especially when you’re just like, Hey, I have a course I would talk about this, what would you pay for it? They don’t know, everything’s included, they don’t know how much time you spent, right? It’s really hard sometimes to ask your audience what they would pay, because we all want to pay like $10, for things. So I think that that that can sometimes be a good thing is sometimes a little challenging. I mean, I think a lot of it just comes down to like, How much time did you spend on this thing? how, you know, what are the taxes and expenses that went into it? And for me, it’s a lot of like, How valuable is this information really, with me serving a lot and giving a lot for free. There’s, there’s parts of my courses that you’ve probably already seen, you’ve seen some of this material before. But I always try to keep at least one huge concept that no one’s ever seen before. And it’s only in this course, right? Can’t get it if it’s if you don’t purchase the course or if you don’t engage with it. So that’s something that I factor into of like, how much of this information Have I given somewhere else that’s more easily accessible? How much are they paying for the information itself? How much are they paying for the fact that I packaged it for them in a certain way? That’s part of it, too. It’s not just the information that’s in there, but like maybe I’ve talked about all of these things, but maybe I talked about one on a podcast and we’ll On a tick tock and one and like on CNBC, right. And I maybe I’ve taken all this information and put it together. So that’s part of the value of course, too. So, yeah, it really comes down to, you know, what are your expenses? What’s the tax? How much time have you spent? and How valuable is the information in the format you’re giving it?

Haleigh: Right? Oh, that was that was amazing. Thank you. That is I feel like that is so like, shout that from the rooftops. Like,

Tori: I feel I feel sometimes as an entrepreneur, I was literally doing this with a friend this morning. We we did like a couple workshops together, and then we sell the replay, and we know how valuable it is. And we purposely sold it for a little bit less to like, get good testimonials and to like test this content. And I literally texted her this morning, I was like, I want to increase the price. And she’s like to what? And I’m like to this number and she’s like, how about this number and so like, it gets to a point sometimes where it literally is and and a lot of entrepreneurs don’t say this, but I’ve had these conversations with every person who also runs a business where it’s kind of just like, okay, yeah, you know, it’s like, it’s very much that in a lot of ways, yeah, figuring out like, Okay, this feels like something people will pay for.

Haleigh: So yeah, so many so much back and forth. thoughts and brainstorming and going back and trying new things. That’s so important. Yep. Always something you know, we’re getting close to five o’clock. So something I would love to know, this is more or less business related, more personal related. When you find yourself starting to kind of feel a little bit burnt out, you need some time to recharge, how do you practice self care?

Tori: Um, it’s a great question something I’m still like boundaries, trying to navigate. I’m just coming off of a week of vacation, which was mostly vacation. It never unfortunately, fully is. But I mostly took it off. And this was actually I was talking with my team, it was the first time I didn’t really crave working. Typically, like write down in my laptop and be like, Okay, it’s time for emails. And literally, I sat down a couple times over the vacation. I was like, I don’t want to do this. To do this, I don’t have rights. So yeah, I think I mean, delegation is a form of self care, again, like hiring other people’s is huge. Working out, it’s been been massive for me. And actually, now that like the world’s opening up again, I’m realizing just how much I missed it, I do more classes quite frequently, pre pandemic, I was in the studio two to four times a week. And that was super impactful for my mental health. And the last year and a half we’ve done at home classes, which are not even close to the same and so not the same. I walked out of class a couple days ago and was just like, oh, no wonder I’ve been like, horribly depressed for the last year. I just, like felt so good. and was like, yeah, to see people be in a room full of people. And then yeah, sweating my body and meditating. I was just like, Oh, well, that makes a lot of sense. And I think that that’s part of it is realizing like What does light you up and figuring out how to incorporate more of that. So what are the things that actually do bring you joy, not just the things that you’re told should bring you joy? Because some things I’m told by people I go into run I hate running. I don’t run on Sunday that people love running

Haleigh: That’s not love it? Yeah, not.

Tori: I’m carrying like four pounds on my chest. Like you got a double sports bra that like that’s not happening. runnings not happening, right? So like that for me. If somebody goes to tell me to run I’m, you know, I like thank you for your feedback. However, that is not what I’m going to be doing. Because that’s not helpful for me. Right? And then And then, I mean, it’s a tick tock cheesy as it sounds like, I’ve really gotten good at romanticizing my life. I’ve gotten really good at seeing just these beautiful things that are super simple. Like, yeah, a bunny walks in front of me, you know, as I’m going to my car, and I literally think to myself, cool. I get to write that down in my journal tonight as something I’m grateful for. That’s literally the thought that I have. I’m like, Oh, cool. I have one of my three gratitude journal things, right? And I remember it when I’m going to go write it down, or, yeah, I took 20 minutes, and I read outside. And like, it was so nice, or, yeah, tomatoes are ripe right now and in season and it tastes so good. You know, like basil and mozzarella, right? It’s just like these really, really simple things that have been really important. I like pretty much everybody on the planet Earth has had a really rough year. And I talked about this a couple weeks ago, this was the first time I like really talked about publicly, like we killed it this year. We had a fucking business year to remember but like, personally, I went through a lot of shit this year, it was the hardest year of my life. And I’ve had to learn how to keep myself alive and keep myself functioning and, and we’ve all had to figure that out. And I think just giving ourselves credit for that. of like, seeing Oh, this this really small thing that happened was Beautiful, or Yeah, I went to the grocery store and I know how to drive myself to the grocery store. And I know how to pick out good food for myself. And I paid for it with money that I earned. And then I loaded it into the car that I own, and drove back to the apartment that I pay for, right? Like, it sounds so ridiculous. But that has helped so much in terms of just validating myself and also giving myself credit and then taking care of myself just knowing like, I yeah, I’ve worked really hard to be able to create this life for myself, and I feel really grateful for it. I don’t know if that answers your question. It’s something that we it’s really hard to navigate. And also self care has been so like, commodified? And so very much like it’s bubble baths. And it’s

Haleigh: No, it’s messier than that,

Tori: Oh, those are self soothing activities. And there’s nothing wrong with self soothing activity, they went to rant on a rant about this on my podcast, like self cares, the hardship. Self Care is like going to therapy and looking at your money and working out when you don’t want to work out and eat a salad when you don’t want to eat a salad, right? Like it’s the hard things that you do in the moment in order to make your life better, right. And so there’s ways that you know, you can do that more like intense self care, and then also just ways that you can rest. And I do think those are two different things. I think they do get acquainted a lot. And I think I even answered yourself clear question with really rest answers. So yeah, I think that I think defining that can be helpful to have like, Okay, what am I going to do that the self soothing activity, alright, eating cookie dough, that’s a self soothing activity, right? Or Yeah, taking a bath or crying uncontrollably for a while. That’s a self soothing activity, sometimes self care. So here is again, the harsh shit like you don’t want to do, but you know, future us going to be going to be thankful for it, cleaning the kitchen, before you go away on vacation. That is my ultimate self care activity. That’s it. I hate it in the moment. But then I come home, and I’m like, you know what, pastori? appreciate you. Thank you for cleaning up. Where you left, right? And then yeah, like, what is rest? What is, you know, yeah, going on a walk, reading a book, taking time away from social media, getting a meal with friends? Yeah, I think that all of these things have kind of been lumped together. And really, I think they’re like, there’s some it’s like a Venn diagram. I think there’s there’s some crossover, but really, they’re kind of three separate things. Definitely. I want to stop caring. Oh,

Haleigh: This is no, I there are so many gems in that. And I’m like, it’s so beautiful. So thank you for sharing,

Tori: Trying to navigate it. I’m still trying to figure out what that looks like. I’m still trying to navigate through that and figure out Yeah, for me, what is the self soothing activity versus the self care activity versus just rest? Yes. And I don’t Yeah, I’m still trying to figure that out that answer, especially after the year, we had,

Haleigh: Oh, for sure. And I just, I know, I’m not the only one who feels this way. But it’s just, I appreciate so much that you’re so willing to share so much of your journey, both professionally and personally. It’s amazing to see.

Tori: I appreciate it. Thank you.

Haleigh: Yeah. So coming to a close here. This has been such an amazing conversation. And I’d love to know and let our listeners know, where can people connect with you or learn more about all of your services?

Tori: Yeah, so I run her first 100k I am at her first 100k and all the socials at RFI rst 100. Okay, her first 100 k.com we also have our podcast called financial feminist is the number one business podcast in the world. We wrapped up season one, oh, gosh, probably a month ago, a couple weeks ago now and so you can binge all of season one, it’s out and yeah, tik tok and Instagram are our primary community. So we’d we’d love to see you there.

Haleigh: Awesome. And before we hop off, do you have any last words of wisdom or any inspiration for our listeners,

Tori: I’ll talk to the particular people who might still be working corporate or might be working at a job they don’t love and dreaming of being an entrepreneur. The most freeing quote I heard was that every job is paid training until you get to work for yourself. And that was so helpful for me when I felt like I was wasting time I felt like okay, I, I could be working on my business right now. And I’m not and I’m like wisdom away at this job that I don’t like and I want to every job is paid training until you get to work for yourself, even the toxic ones, you’re like, cool. That’s not how to run a business. Right? Right.

Haleigh: It’s talking about went away for later, right? That is something.

Tori: That I shouldn’t do when I manage a team. You know, that’s a behavior that I shouldn’t exemplify when I’m trying to navigate you know how it is to run a business. So yeah, I think that that was super helpful and just liberating me from the pressure of becoming an entrepreneur maybe before it was time allowing myself that grace. It’s just like, yep, I’m learning. I’m learning a lot. Well, I’m here and I’m getting paid to be here and paid to to train and to learn all these skills before. You know I quit to do my own thing. So that’s something that that helped me a lot. As I navigated navigated a nine to five,

Haleigh: Thank you so much for sharing and thank you so, so much for joining me today. so grateful and I’m really excited for everyone to hear this.

Tori: Of course, thanks for having me.