You win in life if you get paid to do something you would do for free. This is how it can feel when you turn your greatest passion into your profession. Imagine those things you love to do, those topics you love to talk about, those things you love to learn are all part of how you serve customers and generate wealth. Many businesses are born out of passions and yours could be next.
Angela Gargano is an athlete, coach, fitness model and speaker who has successfully turned her greatest passion into an online business. After opening her own gym and then making the move to online, she has competed in the American Ninja Warrior four times, won the title of Miss Fitness America and built a fitness empire. Her brand, Strong Feels Good, teaches women to step off the scale and focus on strength and feel as a way to measure progress. She has also helped more than 500 women get their first pull-up with her online program, Pull-up Revolution.
From Gargano’s experience turning her passion into her profession and running a successful career she loves, here are four steps to creating an online business of yours.
Start saving your dollars and share your passion
Passion, yes. Stupidity, no. Gargano recommends that you keep an eye on the bank account, especially when you’re starting out. “Before I quit my nine-to-five job, I made sure I had a five-month buffer,” she explained. “I didn’t want to be so stressed about money that I didn’t have a chance to focus on what I was trying to create.” The money never ran out. She was able to start and scale faster than her savings ran out, which gave her peace of mind in the beginning. Five months may seem way too long or way too short, we are all different. If you have a job now, find the buffer that feels right for you. Once you have it, start. Even before you’re ready to take the plunge, you can already research and publish. You don’t have to wait to lay the foundation.
Having a passion is not enough. You have to be willing to share it with anyone who will listen. Gargano does frequent social media documentation so that anyone who found her online can get to know her personality and work. “Every Monday I share a picture of my week’s schedule, then every few hours during the day I share pictures of what I’m doing. I also share the stories and progress of the people my work helps.” Gargano believes that a critical element in turning your passion into your business is “sharing with the world how much you love what you do.” Passion and enthusiasm are infectious and magnetic, so make the most of it.
Do your research and niche down
“I knew I was passionate about fitness,” Gargano explained, “but it’s far too broad a field.” To find your niche, you need to think about who you want to serve and listen to what they ask. “As a female Ninja Warrior, the first step is being able to do a pull-up. I realized so many women kept saying their goal was to learn how to do a pull-up.” Those interactions led Gargano to her niche: pull-up training for women. “I went all out and made it my thing.” Frequency cannot be ignored. The more your audience mentions their struggles, the more you get booked for a specific service, the more obvious it is that this should be your niche. Follow the signs, they will show the way.
Before creating and marketing her courses, Gargano researched like crazy. “I signed up with lots of other people in the gym and I’ve looked at how they’ve arranged their funnels. I quickly realized that I needed to give as much value as possible before asking for a sale, so I did.” Gargano focuses on helping people achieve their goals rather than focusing on making money, but finds that this approach works for customer satisfaction as well as sales. “I share images and videos that are authentic to who I am, and I collect data about what works so it continues to score. While my social media is all about me, it’s really about my customer. I use my experience to help others help them achieve their goals.”
Even with a growing online business and loyal customer base, Gargano is still doing research. “I interview my clients for spotlight features and I use Instagram Stories to survey them about their challenges.” These valuable insights can all be turned into more content and products.
Take messy action
Sometimes you just have to throw spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks. Sometimes you don’t even know you can turn something you’re passionate about into a business. But you’ll never know unless you try. Gargano has made quite a few mistakes. “At first I was doing high ticket sales through my Instagram, but I soon realized that I hated sales calls. Not only that, but my audience didn’t want to spend $3,000 on a course, which I totally understood.” Gargano turned and focused instead on helping people who really wanted to change something without parting with thousands. Even then, her first $100 course flopped and she went back to the drawing board.
When she tried to figure out why no one bought her first course, she realized, “I hadn’t created any kind of trust in my audience.” Gargano began partnering with major publications and championing her existing audience. After hearing her audience complain about back pain and lack of core strength, she started selling a 30-day core program that she hadn’t yet made. Suddenly 100 people signed up and she knew she was onto something. “I saw that my audience had a problem, I listened and I created something to solve it.” More messy action involved sending cold emails to publications, including a photo of myself photoshopped onto the cover of Oxygen Magazine to everyone who worked at the magazine. Gargano said she had no idea what this could accomplish, she just took action.
Network with intention
During her early days in the gym, Gargano identified the key people whose success she wanted to emulate. Then she began to stand in front of them. It was as simple as “going to the workouts they attended in New York.” Gargano would, “meet, introduce myself and then start talking.” Once she met a few people, she found it easier to meet the next, and soon built a solid foundation with the fitness professionals she wanted to be. “I helped them, we talked about our dreams and passions together. I was amazed at how much they wanted to help me, but then I realized they were where I once was.”
Gargano left no part of her success to chance. After sharing her passion, crafting niches, taking messy action, and meeting the right people, she learned the art of following up. For her, this came in the form of “a simple Excel spreadsheet of all the people I met, all of whom I followed up every three weeks.” Gargano knows people are busy and messages can easily get lost in someone’s inboxes, but she’s convinced that following up over and over led to the big breakthroughs others missed. “An example of this is Oxygen magazine. After persistently responding to my Photoshopped magazine cover, someone finally emailed me to invite me to a shoot.” Perseverance pays off, so keep going.
Armed with your greatest passion and a laptop, you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Go all in on the thing that gets you excited to wake up. Find a core audience and add insane value, then listen to their problems and create a suitable solution. Take every opportunity to be generous, be visible and meet new people, then follow up and keep following up to build an impressive network and online business.