The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your Online Business using ConvertKit, ClickFunnels and Teachable

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Business Tools / 10 comments
The Ultimate Guide To Growing Your Online Business Using ConvertKit, ClickFunnels And Teachable

Do you find yourself stuck in your online business? Unable to grow or scale beyond where you are right now?

If so I truly believe it’s because you’re still trying to do everything yourself and not implementing kickass systems that can help you automate and grow your business much faster.

In my 2016 Suitcase Entrepreneur Annual Survey, I found that nearly a quarter of my audience offers some sort of service and are trading time for money.

Which is not a bad thing, especially if you love what you do.

But put that together with the fact that more than 80% of people who took part in my survey have absolutely no systems or automation in their business.

That led me to the conclusion that you are stuck trading time for money.

And that can get really frustrating, really fast.

I know that you want more time, money, and freedom in your life, and you deserve it. But as long as you continue to run your business without the help of smart systems or team members to help you be more effective, you will always feel like you are playing catch-up, and your to-do list will never, ever get done.

Just to give you a few examples, here are few ways that implementing smart systems can make your life easier:

Can you imagine what a nightmare it would be to try and send 1,000 emails, one at a time, in one day?
But thanks to email service providers like ConvertKit, you can do just that in less than 5 minutes. Total.

What about manually adding new customers to a database, one by one, with all their contact details?
It might work if you’re getting 1-2 sign ups in a day, but when it gets into the double or triple figures, it becomes impossible to keep doing it manually. Again having customers sign up via ConvertKit removes that manual step of keeping your own records.

What if you’re collecting leads online or selling products or services, for which you will need to set up landing pages and sales pages?
With just 1 or 2 pages, you could get away with creating them from scratch. But if you have to create new ones every week or so, wouldn’t it be easier if you could just copy everything from a template and just update only the relevant sections?
That’s where a service like ClickFunnels can come to your rescue.

That is why I’m a huge fan of the tools and kickass systems which make the task of running my online business simpler and easier. And by the end of this post, I promise to have converted you into a systems nerd too.

Two benefits of implementing systems in your online business today

The obvious benefits of using a system in any business (not just online business) are that they save you a lot of time and money in the long run, and they make your day-to-day job easier.

But when it comes to online businesses, there are specific benefits which implementing the right systems can help you achieve:

Benefit #1: Your online business can scale much faster

Many online businesses become stagnant after a while and fail to grow because they do not have the right systems in place before they’re needed.

You may be at that stage right now or heading there. I can understand your hesitation in investing in these systems. The best business systems cost both time and effort to implement. Not to mention, the upfront financial investment can be intimidating.

You need to pay for their services, and you have to learn how to use these new tools or train your team members to do so. So what ends up happening is that most entrepreneurs (especially while starting out) avoid them completely.

But the payoff is huge. Once the systems are in place, your online business will be running like a well-oiled machine. Even if you have thousands of leads and hundreds of customers signing up every day, the systems will take care of it all. You won’t even have to lift a finger.

The return on investment you’ll see will make you wonder why you didn’t do this ages ago.

Benefit #2: You get to be the CEO, not the manager

A big issue with many entrepreneurs is, feeling like they have to do everything themselves. I am guilty of this myself.

I mean, how could we not feel this way? The business is our baby, after all.

But this attachment also leads to getting overwhelmed when the business grows and we realize we are doing more harm than good by not having those important systems in place. We become focused on the ensuring the day-to-day operations are running smoothly, and don’t have any time to dedicate to growing or planning for the future.

We tend to keep on doing things just the way we’ve always done them because this is what we know best. This need to always be in control only leads us to become ineffective and stops us from scaling or even delegating work.

That is why every online business needs systems in place to ensure that day-to-day operations are running as smoothly as possible.

I would even say that it is your responsibility to ensure that you are doing the things necessary to grow your business and delegate as much of the admin and process oriented tasks to the sexy systems available to you. It will allow you to move on from being a manager and become a CEO for your business.

I understand that technology is a little scary and not always user-friendly, but that doesn’t mean you have to avoid it. In fact, most of the business systems now come with excellent tutorials and support teams to help you get acquainted with them faster.

In the end, systemizing your business will help you to stop trading time for money and even increase your value by letting you focus on the most important tasks in your business that only you can do.

What systems do you need for your online business right now?

These days you can find an app, tool, or system for whatever business task that you can imagine. Which is fantastic, until it gets overwhelming just trying to choose which one is best. As entrepreneurs, our perfectionist tendencies mean we can get stuck for a long time, considering and evaluating all the options.

But the truth is, you are already using some systems even if you aren’t aware of it.

  • If you have a website, you’re probably using WordPress or Squarespace (or something similar), so you don’t have to write each line of code to even put up a simple about page.
  • If you are collecting email addresses, you are most certainly using an email service provider like ConvertKit or Mailchimp, so you don’t have to enter each subscriber’s email address into a spreadsheet manually.
  • If you have regular meetings with clients or prospects, you are using some version of a calendar tool (Google, iCal, Outlook, Calendly, etc.) to schedule them.
  • And if you are accepting online payments, I can almost guarantee that you are using Paypal. And if you’re a little more advanced, perhaps even SendOwl or Stripe

These are all systems that we don’t pay much attention to. We take them for granted because they work so seamlessly in the background. That’s the beauty of smart systems. They make tedious tasks effortless for you.

But the truth is many of these systems didn’t even exist 10-15 years ago. In fact, running a business entirely online had not even occurred to people until the late 1990s.

Technology has grown by leaps and bounds since then, but the basics of building a business have not changed at all. And even though there are systems available to help you run your online business, you don’t need all of them.

To help you decide what parts of your online business you can systemize, try answering the following questions?

  • Are there any repetitive tasks that I have to do daily/weekly?
  • What things do I need to remember and recall frequently? (Ever forgot your password, anyone?)
  • What are the tasks that I absolutely hate doing, and would rather have someone else do?
  • What tasks am I doing repetitively that I could delegate to someone else?
  • Are the numbers (of leads, transactions, emails, etc.) so large that I just can not deal with them manually anymore?
  • What part of my business would be cool to have done completely automatically? (There’s a good chance that someone has already created a system for it)
  • Where am I spending most of my time daily and how can I optimize it?
  • What systems do I need to grow my business?

In over six years of having built my online business up to multiple six-figures, I have tried thousands of tools and systems. And as a digital nomad, these tools and systems have been indispensable in running my business.

If you’d like to know more about the specific apps and tools I use as a lifestyle entrepreneur, listen to the podcast episode where I talk all about it. But if you want to see how I run a completely location independent business using just 3 tools, click the image below.

Enroll in Rock Your Systems

In this mega post, I’ll be focusing on the big-ticket items, i.e., the systems that will have the most impact on your online business when used right. So let’s dive in.

The high-impact systems that I use to run Suitcase Entrepreneur

#1 Project Management System – Asana

#1 Project Management System Asana

It would be hard to write any post on using sexy business systems without mentioning the sexiest one of them all – Asana.

It is one of the best free tools I’ve ever used to simplify my projects, help me plan my days and weeks, manage my team and organize my business.

I would say, on an average, I save between 2-4 hours per week using Asana to set my own daily tasks as well as those of my team, instead of using emails and other tools to streamline every activity.

This system has been an absolute game changer in my business. That is why I wrote a separate mega post on how to use Asana to become a productivity and task management genius.

So these are some of the best features of Asana that I absolutely love:

  • Track your team’s progress and individual tasks
  • A single dashboard to check status updates and discuss projects
  • Assign tasks to specific team members and set due dates
  • Get rid of all email clutter by getting only the updates you need
  • Use colors and tags to easily identify tasks at a glance

For full details on how I use Asana, go check out The Ultimate Guide on how to use Asana to become a productivity and task management genius.

#2 Email Marketing System – ConvertKit

The way you build relationships with people is by talking and connecting with them. It’s no different for clients and customers, and email is still the best way to do that.

That is why it is important that you have a communication and marketing system that makes engaging with your community and customers super easy, and ensures that your emails and autoresponders reach them, every time.

Although ConvertKit advertises itself as an email marketing system for professional bloggers, going head-to-head against Mailchimp and Aweber, it is much more powerful than any other competitor.

ConvertKit’s secret sauce is its ability to tag and segment customers without creating separate lists.

What this means is once someone signs up for my email list, they get tagged according to where they signed up from.

For example, if they showed interest in a productivity product, I can set up ConvertKit to send them emails related to productivity and time management.

If they showed interest in location independence, I could send them emails about digital nomads and the freedom lifestyle.

And I don’t have to do any of this myself! ConvertKit will take care of it automatically.

So if you have ConvertKit, you don’t need a separate system for keeping track of your leads and customers, and what relationship they have with you or your business.

So far, these are the features of ConvertKit service that I love the most:

  • Send emails that look personal and are easy to read on mobile too
  • Powerful email automation that helps you target specific customers
  • Choose exactly who should receive your broadcast emails through custom segmenting
  • Send emails to everyone who is interested in a particular product, while excluding everyone who has already purchased
  • Beautiful and flexible opt-in forms that automatically change width depending on where you place them
  • Good-looking and easily customizable landing pages

I’ll be honest, I was actually on the lookout for an alternative to InfusionSoft to send emails to my list.

During the biggest and most complicated launch of the year, something went wrong with InfusionSoft, and I ended up with the lowest ever open and click-through rates of any launch ever. It cost me several thousand dollars in revenue and pissed me off to no end.

After considering multiple options, I finally settled on ConvertKit because of their advanced tagging and segmentation options.

I worked directly with their support team to migrate my list onto their servers, and am excited to now be using this amazing system. Check out this video where the ConvertKit team answers my questions and helps me set it all up:

If you haven’t yet started collecting emails (what are you waiting for?) or are looking to switch emails service providers, I’d recommend you go with ConvertKit.

With its beautiful and easy to use interface and lovely support team, you would be served well even if you have just one product and a linear sales funnel.

But the best part is that ConvertKit grows with your business. When you get into delivering multiple products and have overlapping sales funnels, trust me, you will need a system that can adapt to your needs. And ConvertKit has been designed exactly for that purpose.

{Full disclosure: I’ve included affiliate links above which means if you make the smart decision to start using them too, I get a small commission}

#3 Sales Funnel Management System – ClickFunnels

#3 Sales Funnel Management System - ClickFunnels

Whatever your business model or niche, you have to have a sales funnel in place. And trust me, you have one even if you don’t realize it yet. But it’s important to review and optimize your sales funnels if you want your online business to grow and have the impact that you want it to have.

That is why I have been with InfusionSoft for well over two years now. It is an all-in-one system that lets you manage sales funnels, customers, payment systems, emails, etc.

However, since it takes care of so many complicated functions, there were always tiny glitches and hiccups in how it executed everything. That is why many people have lovingly renamed it as ConfusionSoft.

I had no intention of moving away from InfusionSoft until they messed up big time during my biggest launch of the year. So I started looking for alternatives and the moment I discovered ClickFunnels, it was like my vision suddenly went from black-and-white to technicolor.

At first, I was very skeptical of their claim that if you have ClickFunnels, you technically don’t even need a website. But having purchased it and gone through their amazing 21-day training program, I am completely blown away.

Here are some of the amazing things that ClickFunnels can do in your business:

  • It replaces your website, shopping cart, and autoresponder software saving you thousands of dollars
  • Drag and drop page editor that lets you create landing pages and sales pages that look exactly like you want
  • Pick from readymade sales funnel templates and simply replace with your own content and links
  • Gives you everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products online
  • Integrates easily with most CRMs, sales cart providers, and autoresponder softwares
  • No more IT support or admin work needed

ClickFunnels has the potential to manage every kind of sales funnel you can imagine. From a simple optin and thank you page for collecting leads, to a content series based funnel with multiple upsells.

It doesn’t matter if your focus is on webinars, blog posts, video series, or email marketing, there’s a template to help you do it.

From selling physical products to online training programs to one-on-one services, it will help you design and implement a sales funnel that is customized to your business model and niche.

You can even use it as your entire website, even integrating blog functionality!

I first came across ClickFunnels as an alternative to LeadPages, which I was using to create landing pages and sales pages (which are an important part of every sales funnel).

As great as LeadPages is, it had severe limitations when it came to customizing the layout and feel of the page.

My team and I have spent dozens of hours just trying to get a sales page to look good before a launch. Not to mention, the integration of LeadPages with InfusionSoft left a lot to be desired.

But after I started researching more about ClickFunnels I was amazed by how much value they offer. All I will say is, if you have even one product/service on offer, try their 14-day free trial. The seamlessness and cost saving will convince you to switch over from whatever else you are using.

Here’s a video where I show you why ClickFunnels is superior to LeadPages, and why I made the switch:

You can see examples of beautiful optins and sales pages my team built on Click Funnels, with no previous experience at all in using it, that only took a few hours total.

If you visit these pages, you may not be able to tell, but they are linked directly to ConvertKit (which integrates seamlessly with ClickFunnels)! So every single step, from a visitor opting in, to finally buying something and becoming a customer, is completely automated.

{Full disclosure: I’ve included affiliate links above which means if you make the smart decision to start using them too, I get a commission}

#4 System To Create And Sell Online Courses – Teachable

#4 System To Create And Sell Online Courses Teachable

A big chunk of my revenue comes from my premium educational course, The Freedom Plan.

I have always been a fan of WordPress, so I chose WP Courseware plugin to host it on its own WordPress site. It has been there for three years in a row, and I have been happy with it.

But the problem becomes complicated when you have multiple online courses.

So when I decided to create Idea To Income, I chose to go with LifterLMS. Which, again, is a pretty good WordPress plugin that works straight out of the box. But then I had to reach to their support for technical issues that cropped up, including how to simplify the complicated purchase process.

Sending people to a sales page on LeadPages, directing them to a checkout page on InfusionSoft, getting them to sign in through the LifterLMS interface? It wasn’t pretty and definitely not user-friendly.

I mean, when you have a 7-step login process just to get to the course content, you know something’s wrong.

If you want to see all the options, I considered, check out this post on choosing the best software to run your membership program or online course.

Once I got clear on the fact that I will have multiple online courses to cater to the different needs of my audience, I realized that I need to create a seamless experience between all the different courses.

I didn’t want to deal with setting up multiple pages, across different systems, dealing with tech support for each of them, and replying to every customer support query because some integration broke.

That is why I ended up choosing Teachable as my preferred choice for a selling and delivering online courses.

In fact, my latest course, How To Rock Your Systems (which I co-created with Amy Mitchell) is live on Teachable, and I loved the whole process of setting it up. (Rock Your Systems has been replaced with an amazing and much more in-depth course called Harness Your Hustle. Check it out here)

Teachable takes care of everything from the sales page to checkout page, to payment systems, and of course, actually hosting the course content. Also, their user interface (from an end-user point of view) is minimalist, beautiful, and easy to use. Here’s a video where I show you how easy it is to create an online course in Teachable.

These are some of the additional benefits of selling and delivering your online courses through Teachable:

  • Use custom domains to set up your courses, without the teachable branding
  • Highly customizable course sales pages as well course content pages
  • Easily upload multimedia files directly or import from Dropbox
  • Create quizzes and discussion forums within the course
  • Create your own coupons and promotions
  • Set up course pricing the way you want – one time, monthly, annual, etc.
  • Accept international payments and even set up multiple currency support for the same course
  • Comprehensive dashboard with course engagement and student information statistics
  • No need to worry about hosting or security or technical problems

I have two courses on Teachable now, and they both sit under my Freedom School. Which means people can find one course of mine and thanks to my other courses being listed alongside, make the decision to purchase another – which is a bonus.

The Freedom Plan is next in line for getting shifted over to Teachable, and I’ve already been getting great feedback from members who love the clean design and easy to navigate functionality of Teachable.

It doesn’t matter if you have one course or multiple courses, you must try Teachable out for the amazing experience they offer, for the course creator as well as the course consumer.

If you choose the premium plan and have a course valued at $97 or higher, then just one sale and it would have already paid for itself.

One amazing feature of the Teachable premium plan:

If you want to co-create a course, which is the business model I’m adopting, you can also create payments to each ‘creator.’ For example, you could receive 60% of any sale, and they could receive 40%, and those payouts happen at the time of the sale. All handled by Teachable automatically.

Which is brilliant! No admin, no fuss.

But even if you are starting out, Teachable offers a free plan, where you only pay them a percentage of each sale you make. There really is no way you can lose by giving Teachable a shot.

{Full disclosure I’ve included affiliate links above which means if you make the smart decision to start using them too, I get a small commission}

Apart from these amazing new systems I’m using to grow my online business, I use 3 tools that help me run my business from anywhere in the world. To find out how you can make your business completely location independent too, check out my new course, Rock Your Systems, by clicking below.

Enroll in Rock Your Systems

Rock Your Systems has been replaced with an amazing and much more in-depth course called Harness Your Hustle. Check it out here

How systems help you to streamline your online business

#1 Streamlining your business through systems integration

You may be wondering how having so many different tools and systems will help you simplify your life, right?

I challenge you to use a time management tracking tool like Time Doctor, to automatically capture your hours working before and after you start implementing some of these tools. You’ll be amazed by what a difference it makes.

The great thing about ConvertKit, ClickFunnels, and Teachable is that they integrate seamlessly with each other. If these systems weren’t sexy enough by themselves, the fact that they all interconnect with each other means that they can help you take it to the next level by streamlining what you do further.

So all you have to do is set up these systems, link them together (you can find all the details in the FAQ and tutorials of each system), and they will take care of everything after that, without you having to lift a finger.

It doesn’t matter if you have 1 customer or 1000, these systems will do the work for you, and you can focus on creating more value (in the form of content, products, and courses).

The best part about having such seamless integration between these different systems is that they allow you to execute some complex actions, which you’d never be able to do manually.

An example in action is our awesome home page quiz. Once you take the quiz, you’ll be shown your results page, with next steps and the option to opt in to receive your own quiz results profile. After you opt in, you get a one time upsell of 50% off my Ideal Year Planning workshop.

Visit my homepage to see the whole thing in action.

#2 Streamlining your business through templates and plug-and-play solutions

I’ll be honest, I’ve just started implementing these systems, and I can already see how powerful they are, and what other opportunities they can help me capitalize on, as well as how to plug the gaps in my current offerings.

So in that way, they’re also getting me to think more strategically and helping me to make more sales by thinking through all the options for my customers.

What I love about all these systems is that rather than you having to start from scratch, they pretty much provide the perfect blueprint to simply edit and use. You can get started with all of them in just a few clicks.

For example, ClickFunnels has every single Sales Funnel template you could think of – for webinars, ebooks, courses, events, etc. You just plug in your own content and hit play.

Similarly, ConvertKit has templated email autoresponder series, that literally walk you through the next email to write to provide great value and convert more readers into customers, so you don’t have to figure it all out yourself.

I WISH that I had access to these types of tools when I started out. It would have been so much easier, less time consuming and way less expensive than trying to learn the ins and outs of online marketing and conversion tactics by myself.

It just goes to show how powerful and flexible these systems are, and why you must invest in them if you want to grow your business and have more freedom in your life and business.

{Full disclosure: I’ve included affiliate links above which means if you make the smart decision to start using them too, I get a small commission}

Three key things to keep in mind when investing in systems for your online business

I hope you are now excited to implement some of these sexy systems that will make the job of running your business more fun. But before I let you run off all excited to play with these new toys, I want to bring a few things to your attention.

As I mentioned before, there are tools and systems available for every single task in your business. But that doesn’t mean that you need all of them. Investing in systems has to be a business decision, and I’d advise you to keep the following three things in mind.

#1 What’s the return on investment?

The biggest concern that entrepreneurs have when investing in tools is how much it will cost them. That is a valid concern, of course, but more than the cost I would ask you to think of it as return on investment.

Let’s say investing in a system that can help you save 5 hours of your time every week. You can then use these 5 extra hours to create more content for your online courses.

In one month you can save 20 hours, which is more than enough to create a short video course that you may be able to sell for $50. If you manage to sell the course to even 10 people, that’s a total of $500.

That’s $500 you wouldn’t have been able to make if you had not invested in that particular system. Wouldn’t you say it’s worth paying $99/month for it?

#2 Does it make sense to pay for the downtime and backup systems?

All these systems may make the job of running your business easier, but it takes time to set them up in the beginning. And if you already have a few systems, but are looking to switch over to better ones, the downtime is going to be a concern.

For example, migrating my list of over 25,000 subscribers from InfusionSoft to ConvertKit took nearly a month. But I was still paying for InfusionSoft and Mailchimp while it happened because I needed to send emails to my audience and customers.

But since then I’ve managed to cancel out and get refunds on a myriad of tools and systems I no longer needed and was paying for all this time.

In my case, the technical problems with InfusionSoft cost me thousands of dollars in revenue. I do not want to be in the same situation when my next launch comes around, so it made sense for me to switch over to the new systems.

And since my business is almost completely online, I can not afford to make this switch without having backups in place. The way I see, it is an investment in the future of my business.

You might want to consider if it makes business sense for you to invest in or upgrade to a new system.

#3 Are the tools you are using serving your needs?

I’ll be the first to admit that I was really surprised last month when I saw how much I had paid over the entire year for all the systems and tools I was using in my business. I realized that I had been paying for things that I wasn’t using anymore, or had bought some new ones that could replace a few older tools.

As you know by now, I am a huge fan of using sexy systems to streamline my business, so I keep trying out different ones just for the fun of it. But from a purely business perspective, they don’t always serve my needs.

For example, I loved LeadPages, but now that I have invested in ClickFunnels (which lets me create beautiful, custom designed landing and sales pages) and Teachable (which has its own simple, minimalistic layout for online course sales pages), I won’t be needing LeadPages anymore.

Your case might be a little different. Let’s say you have a service business where you need to have multiple meetings in a week with your clients, with prospects, and with other service providers. Instead of wasting time emailing back forth between all of them, you could simply set up a premium account at Calendly which will cut down on all of that and free up more time for the real value generating activity — the actual calls.

Just because a system or a tool looks cool doesn’t mean you have to invest in it. I always recommend trying them out if they offer a free trial (and most of them do). If you find they make your life and business easier, then, by all means, go for it.

Are you ready to systemize and take your online business and life to the next level?

I remember the first online course I ever sold was a simple recording of the in-person workshop I had done. I didn’t get a lot of sales from it, but it was an amazing feeling.

It blew my mind that I could put something up for sale on the internet and people could buy it anytime they wanted. I literally made money while I was sleeping and felt like I had found the secret to becoming wealthy.

But that was just the starting point, and I did not realize then how much work it actually takes to build and grow a business online. And I’m not just talking about money. You have to be able to keep your energy and passion alive through the months and the years that follow.

If you aren’t excited to get up every morning and work on your business, you won’t be able to stay in business for long.

My purpose in creating this business was to live a lifestyle of true freedom. I wanted to be able to make money while traveling the world, and I did not want anything to stop me from traveling, exploring and taking time off when I wanted.

Without the sexy systems I have implemented to scale and grow my business I would never have gotten to the place I am today – having traveled to 70 countries in the world, while growing my business to multiple six-figures, with clients, customers, and audience members in over 150 countries.

I want you to be able to have the same kind of freedom in your business and be able to live a life full of adventure. I believe the more time you spend working on your business, rather than in your business, the more time, money and freedom you can create for yourself.

That is why I want you to implement the systems that I talked about in the post (Asana, ConvertKit, ClickFunnels, Teachable). They will take over the burden of doing the dry, technical and admin work and help you devote more time to creating value for your business and enjoy doing the things you love.

I have even co-created an on online course (with my Chief Systems Chick, Amy Mitchell) to show you how we implement kickass systems to run Suitcase Entrepreneur. The course will help you really manage your online business, and without the stress.

If you are struggling to stay on top of all the moving parts of your online business, feeling overwhelmed, and not even sure you are making any progress, Rock Your Systems is designed for you.

This course will help you to:

  • Sort out chaos and beat overwhelm
  • Go from reactive to proactive in your business
  • Get clarity on what needs to happen (and when!)
  • Create more, sell more, and do more of what you love to do
  • Feel like you’re leading your business, not the other way around

If you’d like to grow your online business, get more time, money and freedom check out the Rock Your Systems course by clicking the button below:

Rock Your SystemsRock Your Systems has been replaced with an amazing and much more in-depth course called Harness Your Hustle. Check it out here