Are you a therapist considering ways to broaden your income streams? What can you start doing today to get the ball rolling? How can you structure this process with some of the best tips?
In this podcast episode, Joe Sanok speaks with Nicole Liloia about multiple streams of income.
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Meet Nicole Liloia
Nicole Liloia is a therapist and business strategist who helps women entrepreneurs build bigger businesses and create consistent income growth. She loves helping them create multiple income streams that allow them the freedom to work less while still making more money.
Nicole’s first business was a counseling private practice but she quickly added in multiple income streams so that she could travel more while still running her business. She got her Masters in Social Work from Columbia University and has contributed to Forbes, Huffington Post, Mind Body Green, and more. Nicole always says yes to tacos and loves Apothic wine.
You can find her online at www.nicoleliloia.com and download her free tool, the Consistent Income Generator so that you can create a personalized plan to have consistent income growth in your own business at nicoleliloia.com/
In This Podcast
- Nicole’s first steps to creating multiple streams of income
- Some examples of where therapists can build extra income
- What can get in the way of therapists adding multiple streams of income
- First steps you can try
Nicole’s first steps to creating multiple streams of income
In the beginning you want to make sure you have your own audience that you did market research with that are interested in it, and that you could sell to them first and see that it actually works – or actually even better, ask them if they want to buy it, sell it before you create it – Nicole
Nicole sends surveys to her audience to find out what kind of solutions they would like, what they would need and want, and what their general income bracket is looking like so that she can tailor a new product to suit their needs and that would be appealing to them.
Some people do not like always being sold to, but that is not her target market. Nicole recommends:
- Working on your own mindset around it and not taking it personally if people are not interested in purchasing everything you have to offer, and secondly to
- Deliver high-quality content when you post it. Consider also offering some top-quality content as well. When people decide to purchase from you, they have built up trust in your resources overtime.
Some examples of where therapists can build extra income
Therapists have great opportunities for multiple income streams.
- Group programs
- A workbook
You can fill up one-to-one client spots or small groups with good references and referrals, but in order to reach a certain number of sales and working with larger groups, you will need to work on building your audience reach.
Build this reach outside typical counseling through:
Niching down and keep specific with your target audience, because it shows off your expertise and it gives you an idea of where you need to go to reach your ideal customers.
I think that is really hard for therapists because we have so many skills and we can help so many people, and we get worried about closing ourselves off to clients. We sometimes have a lack mindset, like people won’t come to us if we’re too specific – Nicole
What can get in the way of therapists adding multiple streams of income?
For some therapists, it is getting around the idea of the fact that creating multiple streams of income is a different kind of selling. Instead of working with SEO and sending emails, you are directly engaging with and selling to people.
You have to become used to directly talking with people and getting specific with issues that they run into in terms of therapy work.
First steps you can try
- Get clear on your target market
- Develop a small freebie for them
- This helps you get visible to them and encourages them to sign up
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Meet Joe Sanok
Joe Sanok helps counselors to create thriving practices that are the envy of other counselors. He has helped counselors to grow their businesses by 50-500% and is proud of all the private practice owners that are growing their income, influence, and impact on the world. Click here to explore consulting with Joe.
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This is the Practice of the Practice podcast with Joe Sanok, session number 503.
Well, I’m Joe Sanok, your host, and we are talking about one of my favorite topics, and that’s multiple streams of income today. You know, I remember when I first set up the one-year practice plan, and I did the math on it of how much work it was going to take. And I thought, for the amount of work that this is, I need to make sure that I make at least $150 a month for this thing. So I had this mindset of okay, I’m gonna do $150, I’m going to charge $150 a year for this email. And it was that you got a weekly email walking you through growing a private practice. I remember when the first person signed up, and I had written I think four or five emails, and then I just had to stay ahead of that person. And actually, we had some snafus with our PayPal and we had to switch over to AWeber. And I remember, I was writing this email and then I had to copy it, like, there’s one person on one list and then one on another because it’s just there was some snafus that had happened with payments. And that was when we were with MailChimp and we switched to AWeber for emails. And it was exciting because I had to think about okay, this person now has gone through this process, and then I wrote those emails. And inevitably, when people got charged $150 the second year, they almost always said, wait, why did I get charged again? And so I realized that really the value was in that first year, that $150 for that first year.
And so I paid myself for that time and sold usually about one a month, so $150 a month, which was fine once it was written because that was totally passive income. But then I remember, I did a flash sale around Black Friday one year – I think it was Cyber Monday – and instead of $150 every year, it was a $17 one-time fee. And so I did that and I think I sold like twenty. And so, I mean, that’s what, $340 I think, so way more than that hundred and fifty bucks. And so I thought, well, maybe I should keep it at $17. And I have. And that then has allowed me to have that stream of income that grosses about $1,000 a month that’s a hundred percent passive, those emails, people every week are signing up for that $17. And then they get early access to Next Level Practice through that. It’s people that have gone from just being passive listeners to then giving a little bit of money, $17, and so that mindset shift of just getting free stuff from Joe.
So today we’re talking about multiple streams of income and obviously over time, I’ve built many different streams of income, and I’m always exploring and refining that. In fact, recently I had a chance to invest in a private practice outside of the field of counseling. And I was really thinking about doing it and applying it and as I thought through it, I realized it was distracting from kind of my main work, so I walked away from that opportunity. Because there’s lots of ways to make money. It’s just how do you want to make money. So today, we talk all about that with Nicole, and I can’t wait for you to meet Nicole. So without any further ado, here she is.
Today on the Practice of the Practice podcast, we have Nicole Liloia. Nicole is a therapist and business strategist who helps women entrepreneurs build bigger businesses and create consistent income growth. She loves helping them create multiple streams of income that allow them freedom to work less while still making more money. Nicole’s first business was a counseling private practice, but she quickly added in multiple streams so that she could travel more while still running her business. She had her master’s in social work from Columbia University, and has contributed to Forbes, Huffington Post and Mindbodygreen. Nicole, welcome to the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Hi, thanks so much for having me.
Yeah, well, let’s go back to you had a practice, you added multiple streams of income. What was happening in the practice where that was even on your radar? Because I don’t know what your story is, but for me, I didn’t even think outside of the traditional model. It was working in a nonprofit, hopefully get a job at CMH. Get a job at CMH, hopefully get a job at the community college. Get a job at the community college, now I have a pension and great health insurance – I’ve arrived. So it wasn’t even like on my radar for the longest period of time. So, what happened?
Well, what first happened for me was that I got burnt out. As a social worker, you know, you sort of follow a similar path. You start at an agency, and you stay at the agency, and you get your hours, and you get old at the agency, and retire from the agency, or maybe you do a private practice. And I actually got really burnt out at the agency, and got my hours in so that I could have a private practice if I wanted to. But I took some time off to travel and volunteer first. And when I got back from traveling, I was just like, oh, my gosh, like, what do I do? Immediately, I thought ‘job’ again. I didn’t really feel ready for a private practice. But I was like, I am so lazy, like, I don’t want to go back to a nine to five. Something’s wrong with me, like, I just don’t want to work. And what ended up happening was that, you know, I started back working slowly. I got a part time job, and then I got some contracting jobs doing clinical work and doing case management for a nonprofit. So I sort of had a bunch of different income streams that gave me a really flexible schedule, and also put me in control of how much money I wanted to make. So I was sort of used to that, and having money come in from multiple places.
And then I started my private practice and all of a sudden, I was, like, oh, my goodness, I just recreated a nine to five for myself. You have to come in, you have to see your clients, you see, typically the same clients at the same time, every week. If clients don’t show up, I lose money. If I get sick, I lose money. If the winter is bad, and we can’t go into the office, I lose money. So I started to panic. And at that point in time, I was also kind of discovering the online business world, which was seven years ago. So it was still a lot newer at that time. And I took some online business courses, and I just discovered coaching, and I discovered courses and group programs. And I was just like, hmm, this is interesting. This seems like new ways to add an income that don’t require me to be physically present in an office so that even if I want to travel, I can still work and travel at the same time.
Well, and for travel, why travel? Why was that the kind of defining goal for you?
Well, like I said, I had recovered from burnout and taken some time to travel and volunteer. So for me, it was just kind of that experience of being able to go to one location, like I was in Venezuela for three months, and really being able to go for a long period of time and absorb the culture of a new place and just have that experience, versus kind of going on a one week trip to a resort, or whatever – not that I don’t mind that too – but I liked more of that, you know, travel experience where you really immerse yourself in the culture of a new area.
Oh, yeah, for sure. I mean, as we’re recording this, we’re a week and a half out from leaving, but when this goes live, we will be living out of national parks, and, you know, we have this new camper and the idea is that we can not feel rushed in these areas. So often when we’ve traveled either internationally or nationally, you know, you’re someplace for ten days, and you’re trying to hit all the highlights, but you don’t really get to know the area, or get to know the people, or kind of see how that part of the country really is. So no, I’m with you. I feel like travel just opens your eyes to so many different things.
Right. And I think just even having that experience and seeing how people live in other countries made me realize like, I didn’t want that nine to five, strict schedule too, anymore.
Yeah, well, so what were some of the first steps that you took when you realized you wanted to add some multiple streams of income?
Well, the first steps I took was, unfortunately, I kind of just started creating stuff. I didn’t do any market research. So I sort of came up with an idea – I was focused on more, like, stress management at the time, in particular with women in their twenties, their mid to late twenties and early thirties, who were really unhappy with work, either they wanted to, you know, get promoted, but were struggling with confidence, were struggling with how to assert themselves, how to be seen as a leader, it was causing them anxiety, depression, things like that, or they were just like kind of overworking themselves, they weren’t happy with where they were at. So their outside life was kind of just going to hang out with their friends and complain about life, there was really not a lot of happy, relaxed moments. So I had done a lot of journaling, to kind of get clear on my next steps in terms of business. So I just one weekend and got the idea to write and publish a journal prompts book, and then I got the idea to turn it into a course – and it’s funny because I was just telling the story – and I kind of figured I had priced it low at like $25. I had a few hundred people on my mailing list at the time. And I figured, you know, this was going to be such an easy sell; who wouldn’t buy that for $25? So my goal, I think, was, I was like, I’ll easily sell five hundred of these. So my goal was, like, $12,000, and I think maybe after a year I had made, like, $500.
Yeah, I mean, classic, like… we talked a lot in Podcast Launch School about ‘fall in love with the pain and the people before you pitch the product’. But same thing with me. Like, there’s so many times that I tried to create the perfect product, and then oh, yeah, if I run the numbers, if only five hundred people get this, that’s just like a little more than one a day, like, oh, it’s gonna make all this money. But then you don’t put in that market research and you don’t have that audience, it’s like, well, who’s gonna find it unless you do a bunch of paid advertising?
Exactly. And you know, even then, I mean, well, back then paid advertising was a lot easier. But nowadays, I think it’s a lot trickier to get it to convert, and takes a lot more money. So in the beginning, you really want to make sure it’s even selling to your own… you want to make sure you have your own audience that you did market research with that are interested in it. So you could sell to them first and see that it actually works. Or actually, even better, ask them if they want to buy it. Sell it before you create it.
Yeah, yeah. So talk through kind of how you validate an idea before you launch it.
Yeah. So I mean, now I have a decent-sized audience. So I send surveys to my audience about, like, what are their current pain points? And what kind of solutions they would like. I also talk to previous clients and see, like, what else they would want, what else they would need. I’ve definitely tried all kinds of income streams. Right now, I’ve been running workshops, which is really fun, and the way I did that was I did surveys, you know, like, a couple months ago, to my list, about what they wanted. It was actually, like, they wanted a lot of stuff around marketing and things like that, which makes sense because, you know, my audience is service providers, therapists and other businesses who are interested in multiple income streams, but they’re just not confident in their marketing. And it was really interesting to see that because I never even used the word marketing, even though that is what I teach – I teach people how to get visible, I teach people how to sell, how to create products that people want. But I never used the word marketing myself. So it kind of was like a highlight to me that I need to start using that word more, or else people might not even realize that’s what I’m teaching them.
So I started to see that there was kind of two areas where people fell into. The one where they wanted more consistent clients, and then the second where they really wanted a bigger audience to sell new income streams to. So I created an idea for a workshop about getting booked out with steady clients. So what I did was I sent an email to my list, just saying, hey, here’s the workshop I’m thinking about creating. Are you interested? I put in two links, like, ‘Yes, I’m interested’, ‘No, I’m not interested’. And I just tested it out that way. And then enough people said they were interested. I got about fifty ‘yeses’. So I created it and posted it a few days later. I just initially opened it up to the people who said that they were interested. I got most of it sold out and then I opened it up to the rest of my list and then sold thirty… I had opened thirty spots. So I sold those out.
Yeah, so it really was just kind of having that list, reaching out to them as to whether or not they’d be interested, doing kind of a pre-launch list and then launching it to them.
Yeah, it was really, really simple.
Now, do you continue to follow that model? Or have you added anything to it?
Well, part of that model is then offering them a deeper way to work with me. So actually, that workshop which brought in about $1500, then I ended up selling like $5,000 more of services on top of that. So it was really beneficial for, you know, a two-hour workshop, to really run that and then use it to sell people into my newer group program that’s coming out later this year. And also kind of like, again, selling before you create it, you know, selling enough thoughts that I was able to know that I should move forward with the program later this year.
Yeah. Now, I feel like there’s some people that they’ll create a product or a webinar or masterclass, whatever you want to call it, and they’ll sell people into it, and say it’s $99 so it’s a lower kind of entry. And people go into it expecting, alright, I’m gonna really dive deep into this. I’m gonna get a lot of stuff. And then they end up getting kind of sold into a higher-end product within something they just bought. And I feel like some people feel like, I already paid for this, why are you selling me within something I paid for? And then other people kind of see it as a lead generation. How do you find that balance to not make it feel kind of icky for people when they buy something, but then they also are told, here’s some natural next steps, if you want to go deeper. How do you find that balance?
I mean, I think there’s always going to be people who don’t feel good being sold to. And I think that, unfortunately, like, that’s not my target market because I can’t help those people after a certain level if they’re not going to invest in themselves. So I think part of it is just, like, one, working on my own mindset around it and not taking it personal if people find selling to them a little icky sometimes. And then I think the second piece is obviously just delivering good, high-quality content, you know, free content, first of all. So, I try to deliver… I email my list regularly, I do lots of free trainings regularly, I do lots of Facebook Lives, I have a Facebook group where I show up regularly and answer their questions, and give free content there. So I think that when they do purchase something from me, there is a level of trust there and they’ve already received a lot. And then, you know, again, in the two-hour workshop, I gave them actual strategies. I think when people feel sold, it’s when they feel they don’t get a lot from the lower priced products.
Yeah. So they went into it, they didn’t get much – it’s just basically a big sales pitch – versus you’re given what you’re told you’re being given, and then you’re told, all right, here’s some next steps for you. I remember actually Killin’It Camp in 2019 when we hosted that out in Colorado, I don’t know, I don’t remember exactly how much we made off of the actual event, but we ended up making two to three times more off of just saying, hey, if you want to join a mastermind group, if you want to join Next Level Practice, if you want to join Podcast Launch School, or if you want to come to Slow Down School next year – not knowing COVID was coming, so we refund a lot of that or just transition into doing coaching for the live event we sold – I want to say we made two or three times more off of kind of the upsells. And it really… for us, we viewed it as okay, you’re here at this event, you obviously are invested in the work we’re doing, and if you’re ready to have some extra hand-holding, for us to walk you through launching a podcast or, you know, building out courses, or growing your practice, and you want that extra step, awesome. If not, like, take everything you learned here, bootstrap it, keep working hard. And if you don’t want that, that’s fine. But we also wanted to be able to say, if you want extra help, and you have this trust built with us from flying all the way to Colorado, hanging out with us for three days, then we wanted to offer you something as well, if you’re ready to take that next step.
Yeah, so it sounds like it worked really well for you too. And that your audience too really knows, likes, and trusts you and was willing to take that next step with you and say ‘yes’ to that.
Yeah. Well, maybe… yes, for sure. Walk us through maybe some examples of therapists building extra income.
How can they do it? Give us some bullet points of like, what people should even think through because I think a lot of times it feels so foreign, or they hear ‘passive income’ or ‘multiple streams of income’, and they’re like, what the heck does that even mean in my world?
Yeah, definitely. So I think that therapists have such great opportunities for different income streams. Usually, our typical income stream is the one-to-one clients, and the one-to-one hours and, you know, basically, you can get capped out and won’t be able to surpass your income at a certain point. Yes, you could raise your fees and things like that, but that’ll be the only way to make more money. So you kind of want to also add in new income streams so that way, you have some more financial security if things like COVID happen again, or flare up again, or things like that, where, you know, one to one clients drop-down, and you can have some other, like, ways to work with people too so you’re not so reliant on the one to one.
So typical income streams for therapists typically involve group programs, courses – and the group programs and things like that, all of this can be done in person or online. A lot of my clients have success too, with workshops, one day workshops, I’ve had clients do book clubs, you know, I’ve had them create low cost products, maybe like an ebook, or templates, or a workbook or something like that. And then of course, just straight out courses too. But I think that the difference is that you can fill up one-to-one client spots, or even small groups, pretty easily with just having solid referral sources and things like that. But when you start looking at courses, bigger programs, maybe like low cost memberships, or books or things like that, you are definitely going to be able to reach more people to get a certain number of sales.
Yeah. And how do people do that? Because they’re not going to, you know, put their clients on their email list most likely. How do you start to build that audience and really think through what people would like to buy outside of your typical counseling?
Yeah, so typically, I do recommend… I think that this is really an important area where clinicians need to niche down and stay really specific with helping a specific kind of group of people. One, because it really shows off your expertise, and two, because then it’s going to really give you an idea of where you need to go to find the potential customers. And I think that’s really hard for therapists because, I mean, we have so many skills, we can help so many people, and we get worried about closing ourselves off to clients, and we sometimes have a lack mindset that, like, people won’t come to us if we’re too specific. And that’s sort of why my first course book failed is that I was too general. It was just like, hey, here’s this book of journal prompts to help you manage stress.
Now, even if I had just taken it one step further, and said, hey, this is a book of journal prompts and a course to help you get through career stress, you know, or something like that. That one word would have really caught people’s eye. And they would have been more likely to [unclear] where if it’s just like a general, you know, again, general stress management kind of thing, people don’t know it’s for them. And when it comes to like investing in a product, or course, or group program, or a workshop, like, people really want to know that they’re going to go and they’re going to get a specific, you know, result from it, or specific strategy to help them get specific results.
So I think the first part is really getting clear on that niche, developing your expertise, creating content in that area. And I really recommend that people start to build a mailing list because what it allows you to do is really build an audience that belongs to you, versus an audience that’s on social media, and could be taken away at any time, or algorithms change and suddenly, nobody sees your stuff anymore.
Yeah, they make you pay to see your own audience.
Yes, exactly. So I think it’s really important to develop a mailing list because you control that, and you can actually see, are people reading my content? Are people interested in this? Are they clicking on things? Are they replying to my emails? Am I getting a huge number of unsubscribers? Is this content not resonating with people? So it really gives you a good opportunity to figure out what people like, and are learning from you. And again, like, that’s where I survey my audience. So it does give you an opportunity to have an audience that you can survey as well.
And I always say make sure you have a specific freebie. I think a lot of times too therapists just kind of have a general ‘sign up for my newsletter’ on their website. But that doesn’t, again, bring in people who are targeted and necessarily ready to work with you. When you have a specific freebie – like one of my clients had… she is actually a baby sleep consultant, and she had a really specific freebie that was, you know, turn your toddler’s nighttime routine into something very peaceful. I forget what it was called. But it was one specific tool to help you with one part of your child’s sleep routine. So people who sign up for that are saying, hey, I have a problem and I need help. And I’m ready to take steps to change it.
That’s such a great example. What do you think gets in the way of people kind of adding multiple streams of income?
I think what gets in the way is I think particularly, obviously for therapists, like, it’s a different kind of selling. It’s not putting a website up, and playing around with SEO, and having people call up and say, I want an appointment with you. You’re really directly selling to people. Just like me, I made that mistake when I launched my first course. I sent one email and I thought everybody on my list was going to buy when honestly, not even all your list reads every email; only a small portion does. But you have to really learn to follow up with people. You have to learn how to be specific about their problems. We’re not used to talking about that; we’re used to talking and describing our work in terms of therapy words, you know, in terms of, like, symptoms and in terms of, you know, the types of trainings we have, but to the everyday person, that doesn’t really matter to them.
Yeah. So I guess when you think about first steps, what would you say if someone listens to this, they say, Nicole, I love this, this is great. What are the first steps I can do on my own to start to even consider multiple streams of income?
I would get clear on that target market and develop a small freebie for them. So people that you want to work with, and you see yourself creating courses and group programs for, or workshops or things like that, really get targeted on one small problem that you can solve for them in a freebie. And when you have that set up, then you could start getting visible in front of those audiences. Otherwise, if you’re getting visible in front of those audiences, it’s going to be hard to capture them and have them remember you. They may follow you on social media, they may not. They may check out your website and forget to ever come back. But if they are signing up for something, then they are becoming part of your community.
Hmm, so awesome. Well, the last question I always ask is, if every private practitioner in the world were listening right now, what would you want them to know?
I would want them to know that they absolutely do you have a specialized skill or knowledge area that they can use to monetize their business in new ways. And to just take that one step and think about a small problem they could solve for those people.
So awesome. Well, you have a consistent income generator toolkit. Tell us a little bit about that, and how people can get access to it.
Yeah, so the consistent income generator toolkit came from my work with clinicians who wanted to develop multiple income streams, but didn’t really have clear income goals. So it helps you not just identify the income goal that you want to have but it helps you break it down amongst the different income streams. So it helps you break down how many one to one clients and sessions you need to see, and then if you’re going to add in groups, you know, how many group members you need, how many courses you need to sell. It helps you figure that all out so you can develop an action plan to put in place to fill those things up and actually hit that income goal.
And how can people get access to that?
Yeah, they could go to nicoleliloia.com/cig.
Awesome. And we will put a link to that in the show notes as well. Nicole, thank you so much for being on the Practice of the Practice podcast.
Thanks so much for having me.
So what is it that you are going to do with this information? What’s one small step you can take towards getting towards multiple streams of income? If you’re just sitting in the chair and doing those sessions, you always will have to be in that chair in order to make it work for you to make money. And so I want to encourage you to go from one on one, to one to many, to things that are scalable, that aren’t even based on your actual time, and grow those opportunities. You have skills that can be applicable in webinars, ecourses, membership communities. Go do that because it’s gonna help improve the world, but also, it’s gonna improve your pocketbook. So thanks so much for letting me into your ears and into your brain.
TherapyNotes is our sponsor today. TherapyNotes is the premier electronic health records, they help you stay organized. They have people you can actually talk to. So many other electronic health records like [unclear], Simple Practices, other ones, they don’t have live support. They don’t have actual people. It’s only kind of chat support. That gets frustrating. If you want real people to talk to, walk you through things when you’re stuck, you want to sign up for TherapyNotes. Use promo code JOE for you to get those extra months for free. And if you’re a Next Level Practice member, just forward that receipt once you sign up and we will get you six months for free as one of those extra bonuses. We have lots of bonuses for our Next Level Practice people. So make sure you do that, and thank you for letting me into your ears and into your brain. Have an awesome day. Bye.
Special thanks to the band Silence is Sexy for your intro music; we really like it. This podcast is designed to provide accurate, authoritative information in regard to the subject matter covered. It is given with the understanding that neither the host, the publisher, or the guests are rendering legal, accounting, clinical or other professional information. If you want a professional, you should find one.