You win at life when you get paid to do something you would do for free. That’s how it can feel when you turn your number one passion into your career. Imagine those things you love to do, those topics you love to talk about, those things you love to learn, all being part of how you serve clients and generate wealth. Plenty of businesses have been born from passions and yours could be next.
Angela Gargano is an athlete, coach, fitness model and speaker who has successfully turned her number one passion into an online business. After opening her own gym then making the transition to online, she has competed on American Ninja Warrior four times, won the title of Miss Fitness America and created a fitness empire. Her brand, Strong Feels Good, teaches women to ditch the scales and focus on strength and feeling as a way to measure progress. She has also helped over 500 women get their first pull up with her online program, Pull-up Revolution.
From Gargano’s experience turning her passion to her profession and running a successful career she loves, here are four steps to creating an online business from yours.
Start saving your dollars and sharing your passion
Passion, yes. Stupidity, no. Gargano advises that you keep an eye on the bank account, especially when starting out. “B§efore 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 wore down, something that gave her peace of mind in the early days. Five months might seem far too long or far too short, we’re all different. If you’re in employment right now, work out the buffer that feels right for you. Once you have it, begin. Even before you’re ready to take the leap you can be researching and publishing. You don’t need to wait to lay the groundwork.
Having a passion isn’t enough. You have to be willing to share it with anyone who will listen. Gargano prolifically documents across social media, so everyone who has found her online can become familiar with her personality and work. “Every Monday I share a graphic of my week’s schedule, then I share pictures of what I’m doing every few hours throughout the day. I also share the stories and progress of the people my work helps” Gargano thinks a critical element in making your passion your business is “sharing with the world how much you love what you are doing.” Passion and enthusiasm are infectious and magnetic, so make the most of them.
Do your research and niche down
“I knew I was passionate about fitness,” explained Gargano, “but it’s far too broad an area.” To find your niche, think about who you want to serve and listen to what they are asking for. “As a female Ninja Warrior, the first step is being able to do a pull up. I realised so many women kept saying it was their goal to learn how to do a pull-up.” Those interactions were what led Gargano to her niche: pull-up training for women. “I went all in on this and made it my thing.” Frequency cannot be ignored. The more your audience mention their struggle, the more you are booked for a specific service, the more obvious that this should be your niche. Follow the signs, they guide the way.
Before creating and marketing her courses, Gargano researched like crazy. “I subscribed to loads of other people in the fitness space and I looked at how they laid out their funnels. I was quickly able to see that I had to give as much value as possible before asking for a sale, so that’s what I did.” Gargano focuses on helping people reach their goals rather than focusing on making money, but finds this approach works for both customer satisfaction and sales. “I share images and videos authentic to who I am, and I collect data on what works so it continues to hit the mark. Although my social media is all about me, it’s actually about my customer. I’m using my experience to help others achieve their goals.”
Even with a growing online business and a loyal customer base, Gargano is still researching. “I interview my clients for spotlight features and I use Instagram Stories to quiz them on their challenges.” These valuable insights can all be turned into more content and products.
Take messy action
Sometimes you just need to throw spaghetti at the wall and see what sticks. Sometimes you don’t even know that you can turn something you are passionate about into a business. But you will never know unless you try. Gargano has made her fair share of mistakes. “At first I was doing high ticket sales through my Instagram but I quickly realised I hated doing sales calls. Not only that, but my audience didn’t want to spend $3000 on a course, which I totally understood.” Gargano pivoted, focusing instead on helping people who really wanted to make a change without parting with thousands. Even then, her first $100 course flopped and she went back to the drawing board.
Trying to work out why no one bought her first course, she realised, “I had not created any kind of trust with my audience.” Gargano set about creating partnerships with large publications and showing up for her existing audience members. After listening to her audience complain about back pain and lack of core strength, she started selling a 30-day core programme that she hadn’t yet made. Suddenly, 100 people enrolled and she knew she was onto something. “I saw my audience had a problem, I listened, and I created something to solve it.” More messy action included “sending out cold emails to publications, including a picture of myself photoshopped on the cover of Oxygen Magazine to everyone who worked at the magazine.” Gargano said she had no idea what this might accomplish, she simply took action.
Network with intention
During her early days in the fitness space, Gargano identified key people whose success she wanted to emulate. Then she set about getting in front of them. It was as simple as “going to the workouts they were attending in New York.” Gargano would, “meet them, introduce myself, then get chatting.” Once she met a few people, she found it easier to meet the next, and soon she had built up a robust contact base of the fitness professionals she aspired to be like. “I helped them out, we talked about our dreams and passions together. I was amazed at how much they were willing to help me, but then I realised they had been where I was once.”
Gargano didn’t leave any part of her success to chance. After sharing her passion, niching down, 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, each of whom I followed up every three weeks.” Gargano knows people are busy and messages can easily get lost in someone’s inbox, but she is convinced following up again and again led to the big breaks that others missed out on. “One example of this is Oxygen magazine. After following up persistently about my photoshopped magazine cover, someone eventually emailed to invite me to a shoot.” Persistence pays off, so keep going.
Armed with your number one passion and a laptop, you can achieve anything you put your mind to. Go all in on the thing that makes you excited to wake up. Find a core audience and add insane value, then listen to their problems and create a solution to match. Take every opportunity to be generous, be visible and to meet new people, then follow up and keep following up so you build an impressive network and online business.