How she used online courses and urgency to grow MasalaBody.com
A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to chat with Nagina Abdullah (founder of MasalaBody.com), about how she got started with her blog, and how she has been growing her course and online business.
Thank you, Nagina, for your time and for sharing your story with us!
Watch the full video interview here or read the full transcript below:
J: This is Jack Born, founder of Deadline Funnel. I’m here with Nagina Abdullah. She is a client of Deadline Funnel. I believe that we have chatted on either support or through live chat, previously. I was looking something up on one of my favorite podcasts and I said, “Hey, I recognize that person.” And I reached out to you and sent you an email.
That’s how we got into this conversation about maybe we should do an interview about how you’re using Deadline Funnel in your business. I think everyone needs to hear your inspiring story. I want to make sure that everyone hears about your story and how you got into creating a course. Maybe that’s where we should start.
N: Oh, I’m so excited to be here. It’s so nice when you’re reaching out by email and then to actually start to get to know someone, but you’ve always been so helpful with all of my questions for Deadline Funnel. Like, right at the last moment, I had so many questions and you’ll always get back to me. It’s so great to have that.
J: Well, we’re here to make sure that everyone is able to set up their funnel. Happy to help. So, take us back to your story. Share with us some of the story that others might not have heard of, if they haven’t checked out Side Hustle Nation, which is a great podcast, by the way.
N: Yeah. Well, I started my blog, which is called, and now my business, MasalaBody.com, as a result of a personal transformation. I lost 40 pounds through eating really delicious foods that I mixed with spices that I knew about, since I have grown up with them. I actually was a follower of Tim Ferriss’ ‘4-Hour Body’, so I started following what he was saying, but then adding some of the spices that I knew about. What happened is, I had actually been struggling my entire life, to be at a weight that I wanted to be at. After I had two kids, it was really hard to get to a place, it was even harder after two kids. I had a very demanding management consulting career. I was traveling all the time. That’s why I started following Tim Ferriss’ ‘4-Hour Body’, but I started mixing it with the spices. Before I knew it, I had lost 10 pounds in one month. Then I lost 40 pounds in nine months.
Everyone around me started asking me what I was doing and how I was doing it. So I started blogging about some of my healthy recipes and then I started talking more about some of the other things that get in our way, in terms of getting healthy or mind-set and social situations, and travel. I started writing all about that and I started a high-end, premium coaching service, where I coached other ambitious women on how they could lose weight and I would give them an exact plan, exact everything of what to follow. That program showed me, I actually was able to coach over 50 women and help women lose up to 40 pounds, in my one-on-one coaching.
That’s when I decided to launch a group program, where I could share my knowledge and get results from more people at once. As a result of the popularity of my spices, I created a program called ‘SpiceYourselfSkinny.com‘. It’s an eight week program where I help women lose weight through meal plans, a community support, and really step-by-step directions on how to do it. That’s where I started using Deadline Funnel, as part of that. I’ll talk to you more about that.
That’s really how I’m working on scaling my business, is through that Spicy Yourself Skinny group program now.
J: Awesome. Some of the things that are really interesting about what you just said is that you started sort of with the high-end and then you, in terms of the higher priced, more one-on-one type of stuff. Actually, you started with a blog and then as soon as you productized, you went to the high-end and then you did the group coaching and now the online training.
Is there, looking back at that, I don’t know if that was your plan all along, but what was your experience with going in that direction? Was that a positive one, to start at the higher ticket, one-on-one stuff, or how would you do it differently today?
N: It was actually my strategy to do it this way. I knew what, I had a goal of the way I wanted to do it. What happened is, when I started, I had a small email list. In order to really grow myself as an expert, as well as to make significant revenue, I had a smaller number of people that were going to buy from me, which I knew, because I was working on growing my list.
I needed to charge higher prices to make significant income right away. With one-on-one coaching, or even group coaching, whenever there’s a personalized element to it, you can charge a lot more for it, because as a customer, you’re getting a product that’s customized to your life. That takes a lot of work. It takes a lot of time, from someone else. So, naturally, you can charge more for it.
I had a five-figure price, for my first product, right out the door. What I had done first is I grew my audience first, for six months. I emailed, I sent emails, I blogged, I guest-hosted, I grew an audience. Then, I started sharing my one-on-one coaching and I started getting clients. It took time for me to learn how to get clients.
Like I got my first client, then I got my second client, then I changed some of my pricing and I was actually able to get consistent clients, where I was making $10,000 a month, from one-on-one coaching. This was consistently, every single month. Even more, 10-15,000 a month. At that point, I had maxed out my calendar. I knew there was only so much I could grow, with one-on-one coaching.
This whole entire time, I also had been growing my email list. I’d been guest-hosting, I’d been writing really, quality content that was being shared. Once I had maxed out my calendar, I realized, “You know what? Now it’s time for me to do my group program. I can charge less, but then I’ll have more people to buy.” So I’ve been, naturally, able to scale up and make much more revenue. I went from $10,000 months to now having $30,000 months. Not consistently, yet, but that’s the goal, to start having consistent months like that, as well.
J: That’s fantastic. Congratulations! So, a question I have is, when you were first starting out, did you focus solely on just putting out really amazing contents? Or did you try other things, like webinars? Just kind of curious, what sort of things you tried when you were first getting going?
N: When I first started, it was all about making it easy. Doing things that were comfortable to me, because if I took on too many things, it was overwhelming. I was really getting to know the online world and the online space. I started, I definitely, I started with blogging. It’s still, writing content is still the foundation of my business, because when you write really good content … When I say really good, what I mean is, it’s not like academically really good. It’s not an essay. What I do is, I really have interviewed and I have listened to my target audience, which is ambitious women. I really understand their pains. I understand their frustrations and their struggles. I understand their desires. They struggle with time. They struggle with finding clothes in their closet every morning, but then they want to be able to wear whatever they want. They want to be able to run a 5K with their family.
I write about those things and it really resonates with my audience. It’s also because I’m part of my target audience, so I actually know how they feel, but I also talk to a lot of people and I put that into my emails. That was really what I did for probably the first year. As I was looking to really get consistent with my sales, that’s where I started looking into other avenues of bringing in clients and then I started adding on. First, what I did was teleseminars, because it was really because I was nervous about the technology of a webinar. I was scared that everything would drop and everyone could see me and they wouldn’t be able to hear me.
I said, “Let me start slow.” I started with email, then I went to tele-classes. I would do like a teleseminar for an hour and I would talk on the phone. I actually made, that’s how I made my first $10,000 month, was doing a teleseminar and then offering, making an offer during the sale, for my program. Then after I felt comfortable with that, then I added on webinars. Webinars converted even, actually, tele-classes and webinars both convert really well for me. I started doing those. After awhile I had a system in place where I would do two webinars a month and I would be able to hit my revenue goals and make that consistent income.
I do a blend of all those things now. I did definitely take it step-by-step. I think that was really, really helpful. Taking it slow and looking at it like a long term gain, not trying to do everything at once, but then adding things on over time and really knowing how effective each piece is in the whole entire spectrum.
J: Awesome. So, take us back to before you, just before you decided that you wanted to look for something that Deadline Funnel solves. Can you put me back in the shoes of where you were at that time and what sort of problem or pain you were trying to solve, when you started looking for Deadline Funnel?
N: Yes. Definitely. So, when I was looking for Deadline Funnel, this is when I had done all those things. I was working on my group launch. When I say ‘group launch’, it’s an online program, but there’s an element of personalization, because we have a Facebook group. I call it, it’s a group program, but it’s all pretty much online. There’s no personalized services. I was looking at launching that for the second time. I had actually created a shorter version of my program that is an up-sell, not an up-sell, sorry. It’s a down-sell, actually. After, if you don’t buy my program, then I usually will offer that to you.
What I wanted to do, I was looking at bringing in people, into my launch, like growing my list for my launch and I wanted to see if the people were actually buyers. I had had some experience where a lot of times people sign up for your list because they get a freebie, they get something, they just get the freebie and then they’re not there afterwards. I wanted to see, are these quality people? I decided to offer my down-sell as a pre-sell. Once people joined my, got my freebie, on my thank you page, I had an offer for a three week version of my Spice Yourself Skinny program. It’s called Spice Yourself Skinny Jumpstart, 21 day jumpstart.
On the thank you page, you would get that right away, you’d get that offer. I had a video. You would click on it and then you would go to my sales page, but Deadline Funnel was connected to it, so I said, “You only have 48 hours to make this purchase.” I was really trying to test out my audience, at that time. I wanted to see how many people were buying. Is anyone buying? I actually, surprisingly, Deadline Funnel worked amazingly, because it’s from every single device that anyone signs on from, they will get the same timing. It really would close in the 48 hours, for each person. I did make significant sales that surprised me. It’s like I wasn’t doing anything and Deadline Funnel was helping me make those sales because the cart was closing, over and over.
That’s really how I started using Deadline Funnel, is to test out my audience, to see if they were buyers. Along the way, I also made significant, decent revenue, as well.
J: Are you, have you started adding it elsewhere in your funnel? Do you have plans to?
N: I have plans. Right now I’m working on one more, we’re doing another live launch of my program, right now, because I’m testing out what’s working best. So I’m really relaunching my program multiple times, so that I can see what works and what doesn’t. My plans are that after some time, I will consider making an evergreen program. Once I start doing that and once I start even testing that, because I’m going to need to test that out for some time to see how it’s working. That’s where I would definitely use Deadline Funnel, because I’ll be able to offer the course. What I’ll probably do is, I’ll probably offer the course. Some of it will be through Facebook ads, some of it will be through my list and go to a webinar, a webinar for me that’ll be automated. Then Deadline Funnel will be part of that process. I’ll say, “You have 48 hours” or whatever it might be, to make your decision and then you can join.
Urgency is so key. It’s so funny, on all of my launches, even when I’m doing it live, it’s so amazing how only when I offer something that’s going to expire, that’s when all the sales come in. I could be giving the most amazing information for weeks, but nobody does anything until I say “You have to buy now, for this free gift.” Or “You have to buy now because the cart is closing.” It even happens to me. I don’t buy until someone forces me to buy. That’s why it is so, it’s like psychology. Deadline Funnel, to me, it’s not the software that’s so incredible, which it works so well, so I love that. It’s the psychology that it’s based on. It’s based on the urgency that you have to put into place to really incentivize people to buy. Even though your product may be amazing, there has to be some reason that that person has to buy at that moment, or they might move on and forget about it. That’s absolutely, I’m going to start using Deadline Funnel more as I start automating, but right now I do live.
I replicate Deadline Funnel live, because I’m doing live launches and so I’m using that urgency during my launches, but I’m not going to be doing live launches forever. I just can’t.
J: Right. I want to say, what you’re doing is really smart. Just this morning, I was telling someone who was asking, “Should I do an automated webinar? Should I do this other thing?” I said, basically the question was, what converts better? The answer was, “Well, it really depends, because there’s some webinars that convert amazingly and you could have a webinar that doesn’t.” My advice was, “Look, if you’re going to go the webinar route, I really recommend that you do several live webinars. Keep doing them, because you’re going to find, and record all of them, because you’re going to find that eventually you’re going to do one where the sales just rain in and you just feel it in your gut.” “Man, I was on. I don’t know what it was, but I just had extra energy and it was just clicking.” That’s the one you want to record.
I’ve never been able to go into a session and script out an automated webinar that I’ve never delivered before. I do a lot of webinars. I’ve never been able to just sit down and say, “Okay, this is an automated webinar and I’m going to create it.” I think it’s been the same experience for all the best automated webinars that I’ve seen. You do them live and you see what works. Like you were saying, you test things out. You try different offers.
I just did one recently where I tried a different sequence of follow-up emails and it had a big impact on conversions. So, that’s the type of thing where doing it live helps you then take what you’ve learned and put it, automat it. Find something that works, first, then automat it. That’s really really smart, what you’re doing.
N: Oh, well, thank you and that’s so true. I have a quick story about that where, during my last launch, I had planned to do … I had four webinars that I actually created. Different content for each of them. So, my first webinar, it was called ’13 Spices to Spice off your first 10 pounds’. I did this webinar, it was Thursday, at noon, eastern standard time. What happened is, of course, a lot of people in all the different time zones, they wanted to, they wanted me to do it again. So I said, “Let me do it again.” First of all, the first webinar I did, it converted like 30 percent of my overall sales happened on that first webinar.
Then, I did it again, on the weekend. Then it converted again. Then I decided to do it on Sunday morning, so Sunday morning I did it but then something happened to my connection and it, right as I was about to pitch, it got cut off. It was the worst nightmare, it was not good. It cut off right at my pitch, then I had to say, “I’m so sorry. I’m going to do it again, tonight.” In between the time that I did it in the morning, in between the time that I cut it off, in the morning and the evening, there was a replay that was going out from the day before. People were still buying and then that night, they bought again. Okay. So four times, the same webinar, people bought over and over and over again.
Then I did a different webinar, the next week, which was called like, ‘Eight Spicy Snacks to Spice Off Your Belly’ or something like that and nobody bought. Nobody bought. Not one person bought. I did another one, it was something around smoothies, like spicy smoothies. Nobody bought. Then I did an encore presentation of my 13 spices and again, like, huge, huge amount of buyers, all again. The thing is, a lot of time it’s the content in your webinar. So, now I know, this launch, I’m only doing that 13 spices one. That’s it. I’m just going to do it over and over again and once I start to take it, if I do take it to an automated, if I start to automat it, that’s definitely the webinar that I would use.
It is so important to test it. There’s so many things that could happen. You have to try it out and you have to try it out over and over again. And see what works.
J: Yeah. I want to take a look at this from another angle, so, for anyone watching this interview, if you’re just starting out and you’re either trying a piece if content or a blog post, or especially a webinar, if it bombs, meaning that people don’t attend or people attend but they don’t buy, don’t give up. It might be that you just need to change the topic, the title of the webinar, the topic, it’s so so so important on top of all the other things that you could do right or wrong. In a webinar, even what it’s about, could make a huge difference.
N: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I talked about this before, but when I started growing my list, it didn’t happen overnight. I got, the way that I grew my list, really, in the beginning, was to guest-post and I tried to get my posts in places that were getting traffic. A lot of places, I would pitch to and they would not, hardly anyone got back to me. I just kept doing it and doing it and what I realized was, the ones that got picked up, it wasn’t, it was like a very small percentage, like probably like five percent of what I actually wrote, what I actually pitched, got picked up.
Some of those, like one of them went completely viral. One of them went, one of them got me a recurring contributor role. Then, the other ones did fine or some did nothing. I had to submit it over and over again. By submitting my guest posts and seeing which ones got published, that is what actually gave me my ideas for what’s resonating with my audience. One of my articles that went viral was around how these five spices helped me lose 40 pounds. That’s one of the ways that I got the idea for my ‘Spice Yourself Skinny’ program, is because I tried so hard and finally, this one angle hit and then I realized there was so much interest in it. That led to me creating my program.
It really is about testing things out and not giving up and just knowing that you have to try to approach it, from a different angle. That’s it.
J: So, to wrap this up real quick. I was wondering, is there maybe one big lesson that you’ve learned over the past six to 12 months that you’re willing to share? It might be something you’ve already shared, you just really want to call extra attention to, either one?
N: Yeah. I mean, I really think, for me, okay. My lesson that I’ve learned is that I now add failure in my process of success. What I mean by that is, I have failed multiple times in reaching where I’m at today and I’m still working on climbing, but every time I create a new program, the first time it’s not going to … It’s pretty rare, if it’s successful right away. There’s going to be something that I have to change. Maybe it’s the way I’m selling it. Maybe it’s the actual program. Maybe it’s the name of the program. Usually, the first time, I now look at things as a test. Like, I put something out there and I say, “You know what? I’m going to test out how this works.” Whereas in the past, what I used to do is, I would put all of my hope in this product and I would launch it and I would say, “Oh, my God, I can’t wait. I’m going to be able to do so many things. I’m going to be able to help so many people. I’m going to go so many places.” Then nobody would buy.
It made me realize that that’s just part of the process, because every time I would fail, I would actually fix something and then I would get better and better and better, to a place where it was almost unimaginable. It’s like now I look at failure and I call it ‘testing’, as part of my process and I know that I’m going to have to fail, in order to succeed. That means that people may not buy this this time, but then I’m going to change it and then they will. I’m going to keep growing from there.
J: So, let me ask you a follow-up question to that. You didn’t say this specifically, but I’m thinking back to some lessons I learned. It sounds like you used to spend more time assuming that something was going to work and building it, sort of what I call, in ‘stealth mode’. I didn’t come up with that, I forget where I picked it up from. Basically, you’re off building on your own for three months or so and then you release it and you find out it didn’t work. Why didn’t it work? Are you now figuring out a way to test a little bit smaller? Like maybe do a quick webinar on the topic, to see if there’s any pulse, whatsoever? In other words, are you trying to shorten out that testing cycle, so that rather than spending three months building something, you’re doing a quick test and then building on what works?
N: Yes. Oh my God. Absolutely. That is such a good insight into what I was saying. It’s like definitely getting feedback along the way, along the development path, is so key. That’s exactly what I used to do. I would go hide and like develop this whole launch and create all this material and then I would put it out there and then I’d be shocked why nobody wanted it. Now, what I do, this is how I did my ‘Spice Yourself Skinny’ program, when I came up with the concept, I wrote about it. I have a Facebook group, but you could do it on Facebook, you could do it by calling your friends, you could do it by sending it to your email list. I asked them, “What do you think about this program? What do you think about using spices for getting, losing weight? What would you want to know, inside of my program? What would you want to know?” I gave them three suggestions.
Then people responded, there was a lot of interest and then I realized, even the question was generating interest, so let me build on this. Even your question doesn’t generate interest, maybe you need to come at it a different way. It’s definitely asking questions, listening to the exact words that your audience is saying when they’re responding to you, exactly what they want. What are they looking for? You’ve got to talk to them in their own language, and then use that in your marketing copy.
It’s definitely about that. Right now, I’m actually testing. I’m starting to create a concept for a new product right now. It’s going to be a higher end program geared to busy, ambitious women, specifically. I’m just talking to people right now and really trying to understand what they want, to figure out how I can angle it. I’m going to do so much more testing this time, because that’s exactly what I lacked the previous times.
J: Extra tip I’ll throw in is that, if you can, this is something that scares a lot of people, in fact, it scares anyone. Getting on the phone for even 10 minutes with a lot of people. Because, unlike a survey, when you have five conversations with people who are you’re potential, ideal target market, just five conversations or 10 conversations, is going to give you so much feedback and information about what you learned. I’ll throw this out there, a great book that I don’t hear enough people talking about, is a book with a really weird title. It’s called ‘The Mom Test-M.O.M.’. the whole idea is that when you go in to ask your mom, “Hey, I’ve got this great business idea, what do you think?” She says, “Oh, that’s wonderful, honey.” Because she wants you to feel good about it. The whole concept is how can you structure your questions in a way where even your mom would give you valuable feedback. She’s not going to tilt the answers based on wanting you to feel good about yourself. It’s a really good book.
I really, really, really appreciate your time. This has been great information. You’ve been extremely generous with sharing what worked in your business and you path. Really inspirational, both the origin story about how you were able to transform your life and then also how you took that and turned it into a business. Thank you so much for sharing that.
N: Oh, thank you. Thanks for having me, it’s been so nice.