You get up in the morning, grab your bags, your laptop, and your passport. From there, you’re out the door, working your way through morning coffee and getting a new stamp added to your ever-growing list of passport pages before the sleep is out of your eyes.
You’re on your way to your next speaking gig in Belgium -- or Brazil, or Bahrain -- and you couldn’t be more excited.
Because you get paid to hop from flight to flight, airport to airport, teaching people a subject you’re passionate about and exploring the world at the same time.
New foods, new cultures, new people: no day is ever the same.
It’s the nomad’s dream, right?
It was -- and still is -- for Jamie Keddie.
But like so many others have discovered, Jamie began to realize supporting himself through education and traveling wasn’t as romantic as it once sounded:
- It meant saying “yes” to gigs he didn’t always want.
- It meant accepting pay rates that weren’t always great.
- It meant never having real control over his day-to-day.
- It meant never taking time off for himself.
In a journey that seemed at times doomed to fail but with a protagonist as determined as he was smart, Jamie turned his story around and gave his dream the rosy-colored hue it once had by building an online business and launching a membership program.
Today, he’s still traveling as much as he wants -- but it’s on his terms, and his alone.
Here’s how he got there, and how memberships are making every day better than the last for him.
How Jamie found his calling
Ten years ago, Jamie delved into the world of teacher and instructor training. He set out to show educators and other professionals how to improve their storytelling skills.
With a background as an English language teacher, he had an intimate understanding of what his potential audience members faced in their daily struggles -- and he knew he could leverage that understanding to create amazing educational experiences for them.
So he started booking auditoriums and hosting workshops across the world, helping teachers bring story and storytelling to the front of the classroom.
It was a labor of love and skill, and his talks quickly earned him a reputation as a world-class storyteller.
The nomadic lifestyle that came with being a global teacher suited him, and it continues to be a regular part of his life -- but he’s become much more selective than he used to be.
Because slowly, like every coming-of-age story, he began to realize his journey could take him so much further than one airport to the next.
He just had to leverage the right tools to make it happen. Unfortunately, finding those tools was an adventure in itself.
“I was really slow to understand the possibilities that were there for me through marketing,” he recalls. “I spent a lot of time chasing things that were never actually there for me in the first place.”
How Jamie built his audience
Still, all of that time chasing after opportunities was worth it.
Because with every challenge Jamie encountered over the last ten years, he triumphed and learned the lessons he needed to become the successful entrepreneur he is today.
And, most importantly, he learned the value of building a mailing list.
Jamie already had a resource site that was popular with teachers. And from this website, he had created a small group of subscribers. One day, he decided to engage them..
“Twice a month, I would send out a story or a storytelling idea – something that I thought they would enjoy or find useful. I was aware of the importance of building up an engaged mailing list. But I wasn’t sure why.”
Note: Jamie’s still send out his bimonthly stories. He refers to this as his Sunday Post and you can sign up here: http://eepurl.com/dcJMpv
Without knowing it, Jamie was actually laying the groundwork for an online business.
The result of those seeds is impressive: today, his email list stands 10,000 subscribers tall.
In those early days, having an engaged, growing mailing list was enough for him.
It supported his offline business between giving talks and hosting workshops, helping him make a difference in the lives of other teachers and stay afloat.
But he was also working on his website for hours-on-end and never taking time off because the work felt never ending.
And he felt like he never had anything to show for it, either.
It wasn’t an ideal place to be: not for his business, his audience, or himself.
His first launch: Barely breaking-even
Determined to change things, Jamie decided to write a book and leverage his booming email list.
And, thanks to his experience with leading workshops, he already had the inspiration and material he needed.
Thus, the first incarnation of Videotelling: YouTube Stories for the Classroom was born.
Unique to Jamie, “Videotelling” -- telling stories based on the narratives of short videos, often from YouTube -- had become (and remains) his hallmark as an instructor.
Where others had merely accepted the cliche that a picture is worth 1,000 words, Jamie saw a unique way to engage students and create interactive learning experiences.
Today, he teaches marketers as well as teachers how to use video telling to ignite a spark in the classroom and boardroom. But it wasn’t an easy path to get there.
Initially, he began creating a book to explain his method.
“That was a huge mistake because it just became more and more complicated,” Jamie explains.
The book ballooned into a beast of burden with no sign of slowing down until Jamie flipped the script and changed his approach.
Rather than telling people how to tell stories, he showed them and created 45 engaging, readymade stories based on YouTube videos for maximum student engagement.
Wanting to deliver the best possible product but short on funds and long on time, Jamie used crowdfunding to give his book the critical final push.
It was exceptionally successful: he achieved 130% of the funding he needed to self-publish the book.
But between hiring a designer, an illustrator, three different editors, and a consultant, that extra 30% disappeared before it ever hit his bottom line.
“So by the time I finished that book and got it to my distributors, I was just burned out,” he says.
Jamie had ended up on a treadmill of diminishing returns with his products, and he wanted off.
His business had to change: his own story needed a new chapter.
That’s when a friend, a businessman Jamie describes as astoundingly shrewd, passed on this advice:
"You've got to start doing subscription because that's where it's all at."
Never one to look a credentialed gift-horse in the mouth, Jamie realigned his goals and made subscriptions his new mountain to conquer.
He was already familiar with a few platforms where he could sell digital downloads, but he needed one that allowed him to create a subscription-based membership.
So after getting his materials together, he launched his membership program, Storytelling Membership for Teachers, in May 2018.
In just a few short months, Jamie’s life started to change for the better.
“Before, the traveling was my bread and butter, and as a result, I basically said yes to everything,” Jamie tells me.
That meant traveling to places he didn’t actually want to go to for income that didn’t always justify the stress, and with a limited amount of time -- often as little as one hour -- to really connect with the audience.
“And now, the Podia membership is starting to become my bread and butter, and it's going to just get better and better from here.”