This week on the podcast, we’re talking with Monica Froese, Digital Product Coach & Online Business Owner. She shares her story of creating an angry postpartum blog that led her to where she is today – teaching other women how to create digital products. Her main goal is to help women gain financial freedom. This conversation was inspirational on so many levels, I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did!

Topics discussed in this episode:

  1. Why Monica started a postpartum blog about maternity leave
  2. The importance of gaining your financial freedom
  3. Knowing how to create a product ascension ladder
  4. The difference between active products and passive products
  5. How to decide which content should be free vs. paid
  6. The importance of growing an email list
  7. How to make people remember you by providing a KLT factor


More on Monica Froese:

Instagram | Website

Resources Mentioned:

Britney Gardner 0:02

All right, Monica, welcome to the new like control show.

Monica Froese 0:06

Thank you for having me. I love the name of the podcast, by the way.

Britney Gardner 0:09

I know I'm still pretty proud of that one.

Monica Froese 0:13

I mean, it's so obvious, but yet I can't believe it wasn't taken. So good job.

Britney Gardner 0:18

Yeah, I can't either. You know, it started in 2016, which feels like forever ago at this point. But there have been a couple that have tried to pop up after which we've had to, you know, deal with, but

Monica Froese 0:30

Well, it's a good name. So yes, you should protect that.

Britney Gardner 0:32

Absolutely. So, anyway, I'm actually really happy that you're here. Because one of the things that I know that you're passionate about, and I see maybe a lack of information in the marketplaces is on product ladders, and the know, like and trust factor. And I've said in one of my recent episodes that, you know, that's really hard to find original topics at this point. But when you take two good topics and kind of mash them up together, magical things happen. I feel like that's what might be happening here. Hopefully. So why don't you just start off with a little bit about how you got to be where you are today on and then we can kind of dive into talking more about the K LT factor in the product ladders.

Monica Froese 1:16

Yeah, so I started as what I guess most people would coin in the online space as a blogger. I really didn't start, I started in 2013. My first blog was called redefining mom. And I was simply born out of a need, that I was angry postpartum with my first baby, I had really bad postpartum PTSD. Due to birth trauma. I was seven years into my corporate career at the time, I worked for a fortune 100 company. And I was apparently I found out afforded like, the best benefits in this country, I was like, I was in the top 7% of benefits, you know, for like getting my 12 weeks off. And the nice clap that you get for getting 12 weeks off, not full pay, though I didn't get full pay for those 12 weeks. But, you know, like, they'd give me back my job at the end of the 12 weeks, and I say that tongue in cheek, I was very angry. And then I like, as I read more about this and learned about how crappy the maternity leave laws were. In the United States. I started a blog because my mentality on a blog at that point was like in the good old days of live journals, and you know, a blog was like telling your story, right? It wasn't content marketing, I wasn't thinking about it as content marketing, I was thinking about it is like, I have this, I have this issue. There's no way I'm the only one and I'm going to go rant about it. That's what I do best. So I did. And then I got all of these interesting opportunities. Like I got to meet President Obama and actually talked to him about my experiences of working mom, I got to go on some national news spots, but I wasn't making money. That wasn't the whole point. I was just, I'm at a good career. I was just mad, you know. And so well, after I met the president, it pretty much dawned on me that Hmm. Maybe this could be something and at that time, I would say the online space start having more awareness towards like, I guess it was like Mom blogs could start making money online. And I hate the term on blogs, because I know so many people who would fit in like a technical mom blog category that are so successful, like million dollar businesses, and they, I just, I never want to downplay that. But there was not a lot of awareness about monetizing blogs, when I got started in 2013, around the 2015 2016. timeframe, a lot of people were talking about it. And that's what I unbeknownst to myself, like, I didn't really, I really didn't realize what I was doing. But I created my first digital product, which really kicked off what I do now. Now I teach other women how to create digital products, with the intent of helping them gain their own financial freedom so that they are in control of their lives. And you know, financial freedom is just very important to me from a female perspective. Just having control over over that, whether you have a spouse or don't have a spouse, whatever that might be. And what ended up happening was in 2016, I quit my corporate job and my audience was this audience of working moms, I had Bill, again, not trying. And when I quit my job, they're like, wait a minute, this girl who preaches about the right to work, and she's so passionate about it, quit her job, what does that mean? I'm like, Wait, when I'm building a business, and they're like, Well, how

do you do that? I'm like, I don't know. I'm just trying it myself. I can't teach you how to do something I haven't done myself. And so I ended up boiling it down to they were they needed something from me, but I'm like, I don't I don't really know what to give you at this point. I can't teach you how to do something that I'm actively trying to do myself. So one of the things that kept coming up was, well, you need a budget. They don't like how do you just give up? How do you just walk away from your W two wage? Well, I had to map out a budget. And it really came down to the money and my husband and I had developed this pretty straightforward, but maybe like, we're spreadsheet nerd so maybe it's a little bit more advanced. For someone who doesn't like spreadsheets, I call it the family budget spreadsheet. I created it in Google Sheets, made it a template recorded a video didn't know how to edit videos back in 2016. So in that video stills, the one that goes out when it gets old, so I don't know how bad I will never listen to it again, because I have no idea. But I mean, for hours, my life was spent creating, to meet the need of what my audience was telling me, they needed to be able to project out their cash flow, all these things, it just came very naturally to me, I've got my MBA in finance, it's just something that, you know, for me, it's just how my mind works. And that spreadsheet to date has made over $300,000 with pretty much no effort. And I do not believe in ever saying like passive income, or anything like that. Because every, every dollar made, require some effort, whether it's customer service, emails coming in, because someone didn't get there, you know, they, they put in the wrong email address or a card was declined, or they don't know how to use the spreadsheet. Nothing is truly passive. But in terms of like, what could be passive, that product ended up being my first of hundreds that I've created. And what I couldn't articulate to then was, my audience had a problem, I had a solution, I created a digital product, and met that need. And then from there, my audience kept having more needs. So that's the product ascension ladder. So then what was their next problem? And then the next problem, then, before you know it, I was just like building upon this momentum of what they needed from me. And eventually it clicked that well, then digital products started getting a little bit more momentum in the online space. And I remember thinking, I've been doing this for a very long time. You know, it just, it was just something that came naturally to me. And that's not what I teach in a nutshell. Yeah. So

Britney Gardner 6:44

there's a couple of things to unpack there. I think that the two things that were most notable to me is, you know, the pursuit of the passive income myth, right? Yeah, maybe it took you four hours to actually put this particular product together, that does not factor in all the time you took building the audience with your blog in the first place, which again, as you mentioned, wasn't necessarily meant to monetize. Originally, it was just something you're passionate about, or in your words, angry about. You know, you put it together. But you know, there was some serious effort put in there. Regardless of whether you intended to monetize it or not, you'd already done that work. And then, of course, you mentioned the customer service, and all the things that are required after the fact, because I've

Monica Froese 7:27

created so many digital products. Now, I would say that there are ones that are more active, and more passive. Like there's, there's a spectrum of them, you know, I've done everything up to, I have a multi $1,000 mastermind that requires a lot of my involvement, there's not much passiveness going on there, it requires my time to show up live to be present, versus someone paying me $70 For a spreadsheet that I did create once in package once and now I have, you know, team members that can answer emails and stuff. So it's like, there's a spectrum of how passive something can be. I would say that the spreadsheet has become as passive as possible at this point, but never truly passive that is met.

Britney Gardner 8:08

Yeah, so so there's that. The other point that I really kind of latched on to your story there is that when you found out that they had fulfilled this need, you're like, well, that I've got another need. And you did this, you know, as you said, kind of an A make it up as you go along kind of fashion. There are definitely many, many business owners that probably have done that exact same path, you know, but you had already taken the time to build up goodwill with your audience. So you know, one, they already trusted you from all the content you've produced along the way too, you had a good spreadsheet, if they did not enjoy that spreadsheet, I would imagine they would not have continued being clients of yours. But you were able to kind of build upon that momentum and move them up the ladder. So so I'm hoping that that's what we can kind of dive into is where where you found, you know, some stumbling blocks along the way, where you found really easy ways to move them along the ladder. And and obviously tying it back to the fact that you're solving problems. That is what marketing does marketing talks about how we're going to solve your problems.

Monica Froese 9:15

Well, I think the one thing, okay, so the know, like trust factor. And this is something I talk to my students a lot about, because I work with a lot of people who got started blogging, where they put out a ton of free content, and they've trained their audience to expect everything for free, even to the point where like, they they a lot of bloggers know to actually grow an email list, but they use the email list to send people back to their content that's also free. And that always confused me. I'm like, But don't we have to also know what we're selling at the end. Like you have to be selling. Being in business means you're selling something, you know, that's all all businesses are selling by the way, and I don't get overly emotional about this at all. And so I really like we're Working with bloggers because they know how to attract people to them. What has been maybe taught in a way that I don't resonate with or never really quite understood was? Why are you spending all this effort getting people to for free and not offering them anything paid, there's nothing wrong with offering them something paid. So I always say start with the end in mind. And the end of mind to me is always what you're going to sell. And then you work backwards from that. So your free content, you're putting out great put out free content, I am not Pooh poohing free content at all, it is important for also building the know like trust factor, but it needs to lead to how you're making money in your business. And so I love bloggers because they know how to get traffic to them. And my whole idea is like, Okay, so the first thing they'll say to me is, well, my audience expects everything for free. They're never gonna pay for for it. And I'm like, but here's the thing, when you get someone, let's say, to sign up for your email list, if the first thing you do is present them with an offer for a product that you are already telling them, whether they take it or not, that you are someone who sells who sells things, who can offer them a transformation, because that's also what a digital product is, because it's a solution to your problem. But it's a transformation, that's what you're providing with a digital product. So you're already putting it that buggin in their ear that like, okay, like she has things for me. And this isn't gonna be a free free gravy, train, like a lot of bloggers feel like they've trained their audiences to expect. And then so right away to when someone takes that initial offer, you have already built the initial step of that know, like trust factor, because they have trusted you to give you money. Now, like you did point out something very interesting, you're like, I'm assuming the spreadsheet was pretty good, because for people to stick around. Luckily, it was I can't say I definitely knew what I was doing. But I mean, I came from a corporate background, and it was, you know, I had a, I had a professional career. And I think like my expectations of what I was providing were quite high. And luckily, I think that came across in what I produced. And I do so if you fall down on that initial product, so an ascension ladder, and product ascension letters, you solve one problem, then you build upon it, right. And the products don't have to get more expensive either. And people that's like one thing that I feel like is a myth in the online world is people assume, or they come to me and they think I but Monica, I'm not gonna be able to end with like a 500 hour course my topic doesn't lend itself to five another course my whoever told you, it'd be five another course, it just has to solve another problem, your people have lots of problems that you can solve, they don't have to go up in price.

So, you know, I just lost my thought what I was going with that, but

I was like, as I get really passionate about people saying that you're you just always have to charge more and more and more, I'm not actually I have essential ladders that do go up in price on certain topics. But I have other ones that are just flat, they're just a bunch of products that solve a lot of problems that the same avatar has that stay relatively the same, but they need to trust you that's I think, where I was going, if your first product that you sell to them is junk and doesn't give that promise doesn't fulfill that promise, they're never gonna buy from you again, you've ruined the know, like trust factor. And so that's why when people think, well, if my first product isn't going to be that expensive, they want to like, not make it that great. I guess sometimes it's like a mental block I've seen that some people have and I'm like, no, no, this is literally you building that know, like trust factor with your ideal customer, you want to knock their socks off, don't hold back, make it the best it can be. Or I get a lot of questions too about, well, how much should I charge for a $14? Ebook versus 100? Page? Ebook? And I'm like, do we care about the number of pages? Or do we care that you're giving them what they need to get the transformation you promised them? I don't care how long it is. Don't give me too much. Don't give me too little give me exactly what you promised me and charge accordingly. That's all.

Britney Gardner 13:44

So I'm a big fan of separating free content that provides value from free content that generates leads. And I talked about that on the show quite a bit. And I know that you were mentioning, you know, bloggers who are just so like, stuck in the rut of but my audience thinks I'm gonna give everything for free. Right? So when you're talking with with bloggers, especially as we're talking about building a product letter that does all of these things like where do you draw the line on on what free content should be and what paid content should be?

Monica Froese 14:21

That is such a good question. So I believe, I think there's like two ways I look at this. And I'm pretty sure this is how I teach it in everything too. So free content is. So we do an exercise called reverse engineering where we use the three major search engines Pinterest, Google and YouTube to identify the problems that our people are searching because that's all a search engine is is people go with the problem, they put it in the search bar, and then they want you to have results. And so it's a goldmine to figure out what problems people are actually having related to your topic. free content needs to overcome those objections like the objections people have to suck for us. solve their problem because every in every topic, there's objections. There's something holding them back from seeing success and whatever it is you want to sell. And they're going to have all these objections that come up and free content can overcome those objections can answer those most pressing questions, to get them to believe that they can take action, and what you're offering. So that and then the other thing is, sometimes it makes sense to explain, like the what and the why, and then provide the how in the paid product. I guess a good example of that would be I ran a successful Pinterest ads course for four years, I think it was four years. It was it was quite successful. 1000s of bloggers went through it. And I learned very early on. See, as someone who came running paid Pinterest ads came very naturally to me. And so I did a free challenge when it first launched, and it was a three day challenge. And on the last day, I showed them how to set up an ad campaign because honestly, that was not the goal of the course, anyone could follow the three steps of intersection makes it very easy to set up an ad. And in my mind, I'm like, this is like, literally, they lead you through how to do this. So that's not going to, but people thought oh, she gave me the how I don't need to buy the course. Miko. No, no, no, no, the course is like how to all the things that come after you hit publish on that ad, how to understand your metrics, how to make good decisions, how to actually have a successful campaign. But it was like, well, she showed me the how I'm done. I don't need the next step. So you have to be careful that there's a differentiation that they still you need them to want the product or to understand that they need it. So like this natural lead in that, like, I understand meeting you where you're at, I understand your problem, which is like the what and the why, and here and I and let me give you like speaking in their language, like why you're experiencing this frustration, why you want to accomplish what you're looking to accomplish. But if you tell them how to do the whole thing, they're never going to buy your product either. So those are like the I guess the two major ways I draw the differentiation between free and paid.

Britney Gardner 17:07

Yeah. And then you know, there's that kind of like intermediary house situation where they think that you've given them the house, even though you've not given them. I think that's what happened in your your, you know, paid pin course, right. Like, they thought that setting it up was the only house that they needed, not realizing that actually making it a profitable endeavor was like the real how, realize that till they, you know, have some unprofitable pins out there. Right. So

Monica Froese 17:37

yeah, that's exactly what happened. So when I retooled the challenge, I did not do that I there was a lot of other stuff that could give them a cousin a free challenge. For me, it was really important, you want them to accomplish something, feel like they're accomplishing something, but it had to be differentiated from the ultimate of what they were going to accomplish, which is to have a profitable ad campaign. So I learned along the way, I mean, I launched several times over those four years and, and learn the audience. And that was for, you know, a more expensive program. So I think a lot of times with smaller digital products, it's more so overcoming their objections with your free content, answering those burning questions that are holding them back, that naturally lead them to be like, okay, she gets it. I understand. So, I gotta tell me how to do it now. Yeah, and my product, I'm gonna tell you how to do it.

Britney Gardner 18:32

And here's the link for that $17 product or that $147 product or what have you. Right. So okay, so that's, that's really great for content for larger products, I could see if you have, and this is coming from someone who doesn't have a ton of smaller priced products might do. But I could see if you had a lot of smaller price products, the ability to create content, geared at overcoming the hurdles for those purchases would be a lot. I mean, you'd have a lot of different content pieces out there that you'd have to manage, because with so many different products out there, unless you have a good way to to kind of string them together. And like one good long piece of content.

Monica Froese 19:14

I said, this is part of my personal evolution in the online spaces. I used to put out a ton of blog posts essentially around these smaller topics and protect not on the business to business side, you know, teaching digital products, but on the consumer side, the working mom side with redefining Mom, we had tons of blog posts we put up like, Okay, so the budget spreadsheets, we have a whole pillar on our blog about family budgets. And I could have taken that angle and I did I took that angle a million different ways. And it probably wasn't necessary. Now. In my opinion, especially for lower priced products. It's what I would call pillar content like those two to three really good pieces of code. content that addresses these hurdles that people are having, and you just promote the crap out of those, you know, that's what you lead with everywhere. And then I'm also really big on building funnels. So for me, I often go right to the, to the, to the free opt in, like I, I don't spend a whole ton of time creating a bunch of blog posts. Instead, I drive primarily to get people to give me their email address right away. Because the thing about blogs too, that can be hard is there's a lot of noise on them, like I whole separate topic, like I'm not a fan of display ads, I think it actually drives bloggers to monetize the wrong way. And then they get kind of stuck in a trap there and they never really get out of it. For me, even without that, like I don't have display ads on my site, but we took off the sidebar, we still have a menu, there's anytime someone comes to any piece of content, if there's any other call to action, and the main call to action we want them to take it can distract them and our attention spans are so not there. They're just you know, so when I run like paid ads, and when I'm directing people on Instagram to where I want them to go, generally, I'm leading them to the top of my funnel, which is get on my email list, which immediately is going to be led with that what I call tripwire offer a limited time offer, you know, whatever you want to call it. And here's the thing, too. I don't, the whole point of the limited time offer is because when you're training them to understand that you are going to be selling stuff like you're getting on my email list, and I do have stuff to sell. So don't feel bad that you're going to be sending sales emails, because you're in business. That's what we do. There are people that don't want to wait, and they want to buy right now. Like, give me the thing right now I'm going to buy it and why would you deny that? Why not just you should. But there will always be people that need to know more. So they get on your list. Now they have this opportunity to get to know you more. Like for me now I lead a lot of people to our podcasts where they can listen to me and get to know me that way before they might ever pay me money. And that's fine. Because everyone's everyone is different. But my attitude in business has always been this, I want to own the relationship. And I will give you all my stuff after. So it's hard for me to ever lead with too much because I like our podcast show notes are like blog posts, but it's more like getting become part of my world. And then it'll give you all the free stuff. But I want you part of my world first. So I'm very hyper focused on getting that initial conversion, which is to get on my email list. And that's, that's how I teach to

Britney Gardner 22:27

it's definitely something that I personally can work on, I would imagine a good chunk of the audience probably feels the same way. But but for me, it's definitely something that I've kind of let go in my pursuit of filling certain funnels or selling certain services, I tend to forget that the gatekeeper of my business is that often, you know, and, and I have like a fantastic opt in gift personally. But the promote the crap out of it, as I said, is probably something I could do better.

Monica Froese 22:59

Yeah, I mean, there's especially with last year, iOS 14 really took a hit to Facebook ads. And oh, that's like, I really do strongly believe that online space is going through quite the transformation that there's just so much going on all at once. And the pandemic really changed the way people are interacting with content online. And honestly, I when I look, when I really like I call it my 10,000 10,000 foot helicopter view, my team laughs at me, because we'll be like talking in the weeds or something else. And I have this idea. And I'm like the helicopters coming out. And I can like see all the roads in front of us. It's like my strategy view. And one of the things that just really strikes me about how the online space is working right now is if I had not spent the time growing my email list like I did for all those years, I it would be a very tough goal right now, I would say you have like Gone are the days of running an ad and I can I had one ad, I want to say this probably 2019 2020 That thing was so profitable, brought so many leads for practically nothing. It was like, honestly, it was like printing money. It was like raining money. That's what it was. I mean, that's not you can't build, I was very aware that you can't build a build business. That's not a business model. But I took advantage of it while it was there. And then I just think of all the other ways that I've always been so hyper focused on getting that email conversion. And I just think, wow, our email list in so many ways has saved us. And given us control is ultimately in my business. I feel like it has given me control, to be able to communicate with people when I need to communicate with them, and not have to try to earn them to come back you know, because if you don't have way to communicate with them, then you're always chasing them down across the internet like well, maybe I can find you on Instagram or maybe I'll find you through an ad or maybe I'll find you on Tik Tok but that's exhausting. acquiring new leads constantly is exhausting in the business one on one when was getting my MBA was, it is cheaper to sell to an existing customer than to acquire a new customer. Right. And so that's what an email list allows you to do.

Britney Gardner 25:09

Yeah, and obviously, you know, in all this time that you've done that, you know, going back to the whole know like, and trust factor, of course, you've put the time and you've, you've put that work in with the people on your list, you've been producing good results for them, when they do purchase things, you know, they come back, they have that loyalty to you, because you showed them right up front, hey, this is what I'm doing here. This is what you can expect to receive here. And this is what I'm going to offer you. You can't force them to purchase, obviously, but you are putting it there on offer based on the validity of everything else that you've offered so far.

Monica Froese 25:44

Yes, and I will say this, but the know like trust fast factor, one of the things I think I did exceptionally well as I was growing my list is while I always had a sales mentality, because I believe that, you know, I am in business, and when you're in business, you have to make money, otherwise you don't have a business. And I never bothered me to sell. But I spent an extremely large amount of my time writing fairy, I guess I would call connection emails. And I have people to this day, that will come up to me at events and say, when you wrote this email about your cluster migraines, or when you went on that cruise, and you got vertigo, or your postpartum experience, like you put into words, the thing that made me feel alone and isolated and like, that has nothing to do with me teaching you digital products, my migraines and my vertigo and all that stuff. But those are the things that made people remember me and and the things like one time I was on a podcast. And now I have a mug behind me that says mom guilt with a cross out. And I just like I was very pregnant at the time. I remember that very pregnant and very, like exhausted with my second. And I asked about mom guilt. And I was like I just don't do mom guilt. I don't believe in it. And they're like, What do you mean, you don't believe in it? I'm like, it's a social construct. Like I'm not I don't, I'm not going to be guilted about being a mom. And it. So many people have come up to me. And then like, that just changed how I showed up as a mom. And I'm like, what is that? I mean, that's like, really honoring and but that's why people that is ultimately why people can connect. I mean, it's not this like stale process word, by my budget spreadsheet. I mean, that's boring. Why did you know I say all the time, you can Google budget spreadsheets family even put in the name of my product, family budget spreadsheet into Google, tons of free ones come up. But why did why will people pay $17 for mine, because my sales page tells a story about how my husband and I paid off $65,000 in debt using this exact system. Because one day, we didn't hit the commission numbers in our commission job that we needed to and we were scrambling and we really didn't know what our financial future look like. And this is how this was born. And if you can relate to that, this will probably help you. I mean, you don't relate to that when you Google that and a stale template comes out that you can download no one explains to you how to use it no one, you don't have any, you don't know that it actually worked for anyone because it's like, there's no face to it. And that's and so that's where the know, like trust factor, just being

Britney Gardner 28:13

human person. Yeah.

Monica Froese 28:15

You know, human people connect to it doesn't even have to be specific to that topic. They just need to know that. There's a real human on the other side of it.

Britney Gardner 28:24

I love that. I think that's a pretty good place to kind of sum everything up here being human and building up that casualty factor. And, Monica, if people are interested in what you're talking about, where can they find out more about you?

Monica Froese 28:38

Oh, we made a unique link for you. It is Monica forward slash K Lt. And basically, we just keep that page updated with everything that we have going on, obviously be a way to get on my email list. Because as I said, talking about that with around here, and also I have a link on there to my Instagram, which we I actually do answer all of my DMs on there. So if you're, if I said something, you're like, oh, I want to tell her about that. That's usually when people slide into my DM so like I heard you on this podcast and so feel free to do that. You want to tell me about something you like that? I said

Britney Gardner 29:14

influx of oh my gosh, I had vertigo to DMS I guess we probably know where that came from.

Monica Froese 29:21

And I even get some people are like I did not like what you said that and that's fine. I am all for the debate. If you don't agree with something I said, let's have a debate. Just be nice. We could just be nice.

Britney Gardner 29:32

Boys right? Yeah. Well, Monica, thank you so much. I greatly appreciate your time here and I know that a couple of things you said resonated enough with me that I'll be looking at a couple of things in my business so obviously, personal thank yous are in order and hopefully that everyone else listening it can say the same thing.

Monica Froese 29:51

Yeah, thanks for having me.

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To Market Your Business Online:

Navigating how to market your service business online–especially when you’re moving from 1:1 services to a 1:many model–doesn’t have to be hard even when you have a lot of moving parts.

You just have to know where you’re going. The Biz GPS Intensive is the best way to get that 30,000-foot view of your business–and a concrete plan for the next six months.

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Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!