Have you ever wondered if your strange collection of skills and interests could be woven together to build a profitable business?

If you have, you’ll love today’s Hero’s Journey article.

Lauren Pawell is a rare breed: she has a background in development and marketing. That’s a combination you don’t see every day!

Some people might have encouraged Lauren to choose one field or the other. But she persisted and has built a business that artfully combines her many passions.

Lauren’s story is this month’s Hero’s Journey feature. We’re tapping the collective wisdom of our community members to bring you reports from the front lines of the content marketing world. See all the Hero’s Journey posts here.

Read on as Lauren shares what she’s learned over the years and how you can use her hard-earned wisdom in your own business.

Building a one-stop revenue-building shop

Lauren Pawell: What sets Bixa Media apart is my background in both development and marketing. This allows me to sit at the intersection of business, technology and design.

We help entrepreneurs turn their WordPress and Shopify websites into revenue-generating powerhouses. We do that through a mixture of website design and development, content marketing, search engine optimization, paid advertising, and online reputation management.

Not only can we write killer copy, but we can also evaluate your technology options, decide which is best for your needs, and build everything for you, while keeping your business objectives at the forefront of the process.

I find our clients really value having a partner who can help them from A to Z.

Perhaps more importantly, we’re able to tell our clients where not to waste their dollars and effort, and where to focus their resources.

Even if this doesn’t always match what a client had in mind, our honest feedback resonates with business owners.

We offer two types of services:

  • 1:1 online marketing services: For medium-sized businesses who are looking to outsource their online marketing, we offer a variety of services designed to amplify their online exposure and generate more customers.
  • DIY programs: For small businesses or solopreneurs who don’t yet have the resources to outsource their marketing, we offer educational marketing programs through Websites That Generate.

My business is primarily online, although I do plenty of networking offline — I find they go hand-in-hand. The offline contact tends to tip the scale in our favor, especially when it comes to securing large contracts.

Putting the brakes on spinning wheels

Lauren Pawell: I started my business for two reasons.

First and foremost, after working in marketing overseas for a few years, I saw so many small-to-medium-sized businesses with a wealth of online opportunity at their fingertips. But they just didn’t have the right guidance.

As a result, they were spinning their wheels in so many different directions with little-to-no impact.

I wanted to help them pick that low-hanging digital fruit, so that they could continue to grow their businesses and entrepreneurial dreams.

So, in 2011, I moved back to the United States, booked my first client at a friend’s birthday party (notice that offline touchpoint!), and haven’t looked back since.

The best part of that story? Our first client still works with us today and has gone from a one-man business to a 20+ person company. Now that is why I started Bixa!

I don’t share the second reason with many people, but I feel it will resonate with the Copyblogger audience.

In 2011, I had been through one-too-many bad bosses and was tired of not being in charge of my own destiny, from both a personal and career standpoint. That freedom I craved drove me to start my own company.

My driving motivation is to help other entrepreneurial spirits achieve the same freedom I have.

Conversion experiments that paid off

Lauren Pawell: Converting cold traffic into qualified leads is a finicky beast, especially when it comes to selling online education.

It’s not hard to understand why — cold traffic doesn’t immediately pull out their wallets. It took quite a bit of trial and error to dial in our lead-nurturing process, but we did it.

A few highlights:

We use Facebook ads as our hook

A new email subscriber generated from a Facebook ad was not likely to immediately jump up and buy our program. However, when we started to establish trust and demonstrate our authority through a few different mediums, we were far more successful.

Here’s what we do:

First, we run the new subscriber through a long welcome series over email. We send them 7 emails over 20 days, all of which include a lot of copy. It helps us weed out unqualified leads.

While in many approaches we did not want a lot of unsubscribes, in this case, we welcome them. It allows us to filter out anyone who doesn’t immediately love us.

After this, we direct the subscriber to our private Facebook community

There we share weekly educational content over video and give 1:1 feedback, similar to what they would experience in our course. This also helps establish us as a trusted and authoritative figure.

Then, we deliver free educational webinars on specific topics

This helps the subscriber better understand their problem and the solution they need to transform their situation.

Finally, we open our doors periodically

Last, but not least, we sell our program through email during specific times of the year, and are available on live chat to answer any questions the prospects have. (This, again, is similar to our course experience).

Some may say we give away too much for free, but I find this really helps us find great students. Plus, it allows our Facebook ad spend to generate far more ROI.

When we didn’t follow this solution and jumped straight from Facebook ads to a webinar to a sales email, our conversion rates weren’t great. Now, they are stellar.

So, if you feel like you are wasting dollars on Facebook ad spend, consider the rest of your funnel. Now that we know what works, it’s far easier to justify scaling up our marketing spend.

Venturing into online education (one validated step at a time)

Lauren Pawell: In Q2 of this year, I decided to test the idea of online education programs.

I wanted to be less reliant on 1:1 client work, which can be unpredictable. And I wanted to help all the entrepreneurs we were turning away due to a full calendar on our end, and limited resources on their end.

To validate the idea, we began being incredibly transparent about our marketing tactics.

We educated our audience through a number of mediums, notably: email, online webinars, and a private Facebook community.

I believed that through great educational content, we could:

  • Empower solopreneurs, allowing them to achieve quick wins in their businesses
  • Determine whether there was a demand for our DIY programs

This effort has been quite successful. We recently presold an educational course (before it was created) that our audience was begging for.

By validating an idea through free content first, we were then able to dedicate the resources to creating paid educational programs. A course takes a lot of front-loaded work, especially content creation. The last thing I wanted to do was create a program no one wanted.

As an added benefit of this education-first approach, when 1:1 prospects come through the door, they are already sold on working with us. Because they already understand the “why” behind our recommendations, the selling is 90 percent done by the time we write a proposal.

The Rainmaker Digital products Lauren uses

Lauren Pawell: We use quite a few Rainmaker Digital products, including:

I also happen to be a new Copyblogger Certified Content Marketer. And I’m attending the upcoming Digital Commerce Summit in Denver.

So, needless to say, I’m a Rainmaker Digital diehard!

Refining and scaling up for the future

Lauren Pawell: In the final quarter of 2016, we’ll focus on refining our sales funnels and scaling up our DIY programs.

Our educational courses at Websites That Generate haven’t been marketed on our website, or really even promoted outside of email. That’s because I wanted to run a few groups of people through our programs to ensure we really dialed them in.

Now that we’ve gotten the process down, we’re ready to scale up. The first step in that process requires some adjustments to our sales funnel. Then, we can scale up our lead generation through Facebook ads.

An unsolicited piece of advice

Lauren Pawell: If, like me, you’re considering creating an educational program to complement your 1:1 services, I highly recommend the Rainmaker Platform.

All of the technology was so easy to set up, allowing us to focus most of our effort on the course creation and marketing.

When it comes to selling a course and serving your students, the less you have to worry about the technology, the better.

Find Lauren Pawell online …

Thanks to Lauren for appearing in our Hero’s Journey series.

Do you have questions for her? Ask them in the comments.

We’ll be back next month with another story to teach, inspire, and encourage you along your journey.


  1. Dr. Lawrence Kindo says

    Converting cold traffic into paying clients is an art I wish to master. Having cold feet about trying to wade into uncharted territories has held me back numerous times. Now that I am ankle deep in the water getting some cold traffic to my sites, I wish to try to convert them into an engaged community and may be monetise it in the long run.
    Thanks for your suggestions and for sharing your experience. Surely helps to know someone has been there and done that!

  2. Hi Lawrence, I totally get the fear of wading into uncharted territory. Here’s the thing: you can’t get right something you never start. And the first time you put something out there, it won’t be perfect. So when you accept that it’s going to be messy, it becomes a heck of a lot easier.
    If you’re looking to get started on engaging your cold traffic, my suggestion is to begin with email marketing, so you can start to speak with your website visitors on a 1:1 basis. Their feedback will help you determine what to do next.

  3. Daniel Z Chohfi says

    Lauren you have a great journey and it’s amazing how you mix 1:1 services with the DIY program. Congrats and see you in Denver!

  4. Thanks Daniel, I appreciate it! I’m looking forward to meeting you in-person and hearing more about your experience in Latin American markets.

  5. Charles says

    Great content, as someone that used Genesis in my design company that I am launching, I am always interested in what product pairings are working for others.

  6. You’ll love Genesis, Charles. It’s a killer product with exceptional speed.

  7. Lori Tian Sailiata says

    I love how you started with a solid roadmap, but weren’t afraid to experiment, gather feedback, and shift direction as necessary. Big goals and small steps. Nice combination.
    Thank you for sharing and widening the path a bit for the rest of us on the same journey.

  8. Great insight Lori. Small steps and pivots are key to success. Because really, the initial roadmap is just a hypothesis. You have to react and adjust as you test it.

  9. Oh, the cold audience finicky beast! I liked your approach of seeing who is the best fit by giving them a lot of information out the gate. I’ve always wondered if too many emails is a turnoff but you’re right, it lets you know right away if people love you or not! Thanks for all the helpful information!

  10. Travis Hise says

    Great information! I am interested in the Rainmaker system and what particular features you felt were most useful in converting cold leads? This is an area we and our clients struggle with daily. Your outline of the process is compelling; your feedback would be appreciated.

  11. Travis, so I actually rely on systems outside of Rainmaker to generate and nurture leads…Facebook ads, a private Facebook group, webinars run through GoToWebinar, and email marketing run through Drip.
    The Rainmaker Platform serves as our delivery platform for all paid educational programs. We’re able to:
    1) Drip educational content in modules, using a combination of video content + downloadable PDFs;
    2) Allow members to ask questions via the Community Forums;
    3) Integrate for live 1:1 chat support (although admittedly, this integration isn’t totally dialed in yet); and
    4) Accept payment via the Stripe integration, prior to allowing students access to paid programs.
    Long story short, I use Rainmaker as a way of getting our product in the hands of our students, rather than as a lead-generation tool. That being said, I’m sure Pamela has some ideas for you in this regard.

  12. JJ Mayo says

    Thanks Pamela for featuring Lauren! This is such a great article. I’ve had first hand experience with Lauren as I’m in one of her online programs. I can tell you she is a ROCKSTAR and would highly recommend any of her training courses!

  13. Pamela Wilson says

    JJ, thanks for stopping by. I’m really glad we were able to share Lauren’s story. It’s inspirational!

  14. Tricia Stephens-Adams says

    Another Lauren groupie here! She shares incredibly valuable content through her emails, courses AND facebook group. Love hearing the behind-the-scenes story of her journey. Thanks Pamela and Lauren!

  15. Sarah Ann Kelly says

    Lauren’s weekly newsletter is one of the ones that I actually read because she ALWAYS has great advice and tons of downloads. Highly recommend!

  16. manju rai says

    Nice Post! It’s really a good read. lauren is really a great writer.

  17. Thanks Manju, I so appreciate the kind words.

  18. Idan Rubin says

    Great article! I’m a Front End Developer for several years now, currently taking my first steps in marketing and landed my first job in the field several weeks ago as a digital marketer.
    Your words convinced me I’m on the right path, even if it seems daunting at first.
    Thank you very much Lauren.
    All the best.

  19. Idan, if you combine marketing with your development background, you’ll be a force to be reckoned with! While marketing may seem overwhelming, it’s a lot like development. As someone already well-versed in uncertainty and problem-solving, you’ll find it’s a similar animal…just a different language.
    And most importantly, congratulations on landing your first digital marketing job!

  20. Pamela,
    I can see that you help companies with Facebook promotions as well. Although I never personally tried a SMO agency, but I did try my hands on FB paid promotions myself. The main problem I faced was a huge increase in “fake likes” from spam accounts and hence “zero conversions”. How do you filter these out and make sure that your promotions are mainly being targeted to the REAL audience?

  21. Sai, Pamela may have a different take than me, but here are my two cents:
    (1) Check your ad targeting. This is frequently where many make mistakes by going too broad. Also, I recommend starting your Facebook ad process by targeting warm traffic first (retargeting website visitors and your email list). Once you dial in your funnel with warm traffic, it’s more likely to convert cold traffic when you expand your campaign targeting.
    (2) Check your ad copy and creatives. Do they resonate with your ideal customer? If not, it doesn’t matter where you place your ads, they won’t convert. Also, consider starting slow, don’t ask for the purchase right away. Advertise a lead magnet, get the Facebook user’s email address, and nurture the lead via email. Then, after they’ve gone through a follow-up sequence and you’ve given a lot of value, ask for the purchase.
    If you’re going to work with an agency on your Facebook ads, make sure they help you beyond just the campaign set up. While the setup is important, there’s a whole marketing ecosystem that has to work in tandem with your ads…your emails, your offer, your landing page, etc.

  22. SM Nuruzzaman says

    Thanks so much Pamela for the outstanding post.
    Keep sharing such decent posts and educating regularly.
    Regards, SM

  23. Hi there Pamela,
    This post is just so awesome. I read it, but saved for bookmarks because it really gives me more attitude on the internet world. Keep up the good work.
    Cheers, Clay Smith.

  24. Hi, Pamela! I met you through Debbie Hodge at Teach What You Do and signed on for your helps as well as Lauren’s. I’ve learned so much from Lauren! After reading this article, I now know that I need to enlist more of Lauren’s help in growing my business. Thanks for letting us hear from Lauren today so we now understand the full scope of what she’s capable of doing for us. Thanks, Pamela and Lauren!

  25. Hi Laura,
    Thank you for sharing this insider information about your marketing strategies.
    Could you tell me if your private Facebook group is free to join? You seem to be giving away tons of value there (and your free time with 1:1 support) and am really curious how you can manage this if you do it for free. The final ask must be naturally very pricey.
    Thank you,

  26. Attila, yes our private Facebook community is free to join. As a marketing effort designed to nurture new email subscribers, it’s a great way to engage our list.
    To play devil’s advocate, if we didn’t provide any value, why would anyone stick around? This philosophy can be applied to any content you create…whether intended for email, a blog, webinars, lead magnets, etc.
    Before you can ask for a sale, no matter how high or low the price is, it’s imperative you win the trust and confidence of a lead first.

  27. Kerstin Begley says

    Note to self: Must remember the *Rainmaker Platform*. ????
    I seriously LOVE Lauren’s content & the value she gives to her peeps in her emails (obviously I’m one of them ;)).
    I’ve learned so much in the *Emails That Generate* program. I’m so glad Lauren was there when I needed her most. In fact, I didn’t even know what I needed at the time …
    Thanks to Lauren, I figured it all out. She’s a rising star. Always 100% committed to her clients, giving help, support, insight, & encouragement. Without her I wouldn’t be where I am today (wouldn’t even know what “ChimpMonkey” is, aka *MailChimp*).

  28. Lisa Artliff says

    Hi Lauren
    A really good insight in how you got everything off the ground. As a new business owner the world of social media is vast but I know it is something that I am actively trying to tap in to.
    I started my business for very similar reasons, to help SME and start-ups engage in good design at a price they can can afford to help promote their business effectively and to gain the freedom of working for yourself.
    You have such a strong strategy and vision of where you are going. Thank you for sharing that and thank you for letting me be part of your facebook group.

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