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  • Ankit Uttam

From ZERO to $1,000,000 in Revenue From His Side Hustle in 2 Years

Spencer Russell was once the kid who couldn't read in first grade. He knew it, and so did everyone else. "Dumb kid," they called him, a label that stuck as he struggled with every subject that involved reading and writing.


Spencer Russell

Despite the rough start, Spencer caught up, a feat he knew many kids weren't lucky enough to achieve. This memory of feeling behind fueled his future.


Fast forward, and today Spencer an award-winning teacher, recognized for his dedication and innovative methods in teaching, with accolades like the Harriett Ball Excellence in Teaching Award and being a semi-finalist for HEB Rising Star Texas Teacher of the Year.


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Spencer discovered the very same strategies that help older kids learn to read work with toddlers, as well.


Spencer Russell

He started documenting every day of teaching his son to read (to really read) at 2 years old, and today he is helping parents and caregivers teach their little ones, too!


How did he build a business around it?


Let's do a deep down into his story


 

Identifying the opportunity for his Side Hustle


Spencer was inspired by Jim Collins' Good to Great, and he sought the sweet spot where his passion, skills, and economic viability intersected.


He pondered, "What can I do better than anyone else, that I love doing, and that can support my family?" The answer was clear: teaching young kids to read.


"I've taught my son to read at two. I'm onto something here," Spencer realized.


This wasn't just a personal victory; it was a potential pathway to making a broader impact while also securing his family's future.


Spencer Russell

Diving deep into market research, Spencer scrutinized the landscape of online parenting courses. From sleep training to behavior management, there was a wealth of resources available for almost every aspect of early childhood development.


Yet, there was a glaring gap in the market: early reading skills for toddlers. This gap was not just a niche; it was a goldmine waiting to be explored.


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The market teemed with parents anxious to give their children the best start in life, parents who would spare no expense to equip their kids with the skills for academic success.


Despite the crowded marketplace of parenting advice and child development strategies, the specific area of toddler reading was surprisingly underserved.


Spencer saw his chance. He had the expertise, the proof of concept with his own son, and now, the realization that there was a significant demand for what he could offer.


This was more than just an opportunity to make a living; it was a chance to make a difference.


He envisioned a program that wasn't just another parenting course but a transformative learning experience for children and their caregivers alike.





 

Preparing for launch

After recognizing the gap between his teaching expertise and business acumen, he dove headfirst into a self-imposed crash course on online entrepreneurship.


The worlds of The Online Course Guy, Russell Brunson, and StoryBrand became his classrooms, each offering unique insights into crafting a successful online business model centered around education.


Spencer absorbed lessons on creating compelling content, engaging potential customers, and the mechanics of online marketing. He understood that his venture's success hinged not just on the quality of his teaching method but on his ability to communicate its value and reach his target audience effectively.


Putting theory into practice, Spencer launched a basic version of his course for pre-order at $49, targeting a mid-June release.


He started by tapping into his immediate network, sharing his vision and the potential impact of his course on early childhood reading.

Spencer

This initial promotional effort was purely verbal, relying on the strength of his personal connections.


The early days were a test of patience and resolve. Despite the nods, smiles, and words of encouragement, actual financial commitments were slow to materialize. Spencer faced a stark reality: interest does not always translate into investment.


After a tense few days filled with doubt, the breakthrough finally came—a single sale. It wasn't the flood of orders he had hoped for, but it was enough. Enough to prove there was a market, however small, for his course.


Encouraged by this modest success, Spencer continued to push forward, refining his marketing strategy and enhancing the course content based on the feedback and insights gathered from his initial cohort of 31-32 pre-orders.


This initial group of users, though smaller than anticipated, was invaluable. They were not just customers; they were early adopters who believed in Spencer's vision.


Now it was time to double down on course development and finalize the content.


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Customer Experience Focus

Optimizing the customer experience became Spencer's next significant challenge and opportunity. He understood from early feedback that while his course content was valuable, the completion rates were lower than expected.


This insight led him to a pivotal realization: the issue wasn't the content's quality but how it was delivered.


"My focus shifted to engagement and accessibility," Spencer remarked, reflecting on the adjustments he needed to make. He chose Kajabi as his new platform, a decision driven by its robust support for mobile users and on-demand learning.


This change was strategic, aligning perfectly with the lifestyles of his primary audience—busy parents seeking flexible learning solutions for their toddlers.


Spencer Russell

To enhance engagement further, Spencer invested time in re-recording his course videos, ensuring higher quality and more engaging content.


This meticulous attention to detail and commitment to quality underscored his dedication to providing a high-value learning experience that resonated with his audience's needs.


 

Gaining Social Media Traction

Parallel to refining the course, Spencer ventured into social media to expand his reach. He recognized the power of platforms like TikTok to connect with a broader audience and share valuable insights into early childhood reading.


It was here that Spencer's strategic content creation paid off. A video about teaching sight words captured the attention of viewers, marking his first viral success.


"This sight word video was a game-changer," Spencer explained. "It showed us the potential topics that resonated with our audience, guiding our content strategy moving forward."




Leveraging data analytics, Spencer became adept at understanding what worked and why. Each video served as an experiment, with varying elements tested to gauge audience engagement.


This rigorous analysis helped Spencer refine his approach, focusing on content that not only captured attention but provided genuine value to viewers.


By dissecting each video's performance, Spencer honed his ability to craft messages that struck a chord with parents and educators alike. Questions about viewer retention, the inclusion of children in shots, caption placement, and the nature of the hook (positive or negative) guided his content creation, ensuring each post was optimized for maximum impact.


Through continuous refinement of the customer experience and strategic use of social media, Spencer demonstrated the power of adaptability and data-driven decision-making in building a successful online educational platform.


 

Diversifying Traffic Sources

Recognizing the limitations of relying solely on social media for traffic and audience engagement, Spencer started to diversify his outreach efforts.


He initiated a weekly blogging routine, carefully writing articles around carefully selected keywords.


This approach not only expanded his visibility in search engine results but also provided valuable content that resonated with his target audience, further establishing his authority in early childhood reading education.


Spencer Russell

Simultaneously, Spencer ventured into paid advertising. Experimenting with Google and Facebook ads, he aimed to drive potential customers to a free online workshop.


This funnel served as an introductory experience to his teaching style and the value of his reading curriculum. Despite being a newcomer to paid advertising,


Spencer's analytical mindset allowed him to quickly adapt and refine his strategies, moving steadily toward campaigns that yielded a positive ROI.


As his audience grew, Spencer focused on maximizing the customer lifetime value (CLV). He offered three distinct courses in his reading curriculum, priced at $99 each. For those interested in the complete series, he provided a bundled option at a discounted rate of $249. This pricing strategy was designed to cater to different needs and budgets, ensuring that more families could access his valuable resources.


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To further engage his customers, Spencer implemented a strategic email marketing campaign. New subscribers received purchase incentives, while past buyers were treated to an automated nurture sequence that offered additional content and support. This approach helped maintain a strong connection with his audience, encouraging repeat purchases and sustained engagement.




Spencer acknowledged a pivotal learning curve: the missed opportunity of not adopting a subscription model from the start. He recognized the potential for a more consistent revenue stream and deeper customer engagement through recurring payments.


To address this, he expanded his product offerings to include physical items like workbooks and flashcards, enhancing the learning experience and meeting his customers' needs more effectively.


Looking ahead, Spencer is considering the addition of a paid membership program, further diversifying his revenue sources and providing ongoing value to his audience.


 

Technology

In terms of technology, Spencer leveraged Kajabi for course delivery but didn't hesitate to explore specialized tools for specific needs.


ActiveCampaign became his choice for email marketing, offering advanced segmentation and automation capabilities.


For online workshops, he utilized eWebinar, providing an interactive and scalable solution to engage his prospective customers.


Despite the high costs and complexity associated with migrating away from integrated platforms, Spencer was committed to using best-in-class solutions.


This decision underscored his dedication to providing an exceptional customer experience, powered by the most effective tools and technologies available.


Through strategic diversification of traffic sources, a focus on maximizing customer lifetime value, and a careful selection of tools and technology, Spencer has built a robust and scalable business.


 

Spencer's approach to managing the day-to-day operations of his growing business reflects a blend of discipline, prioritization, and a deep understanding of personal productivity.


By structuring his day into "success blocks," he ensures that each aspect of his life and work receives the attention it deserves, without allowing any one area to overshadow the others.


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Morning Ritual


His day begins with a morning ritual focused on physical and mental health—cardio, stretching, a cold shower, and some time spent cleaning. This routine not only energizes him for the day ahead but also instills a sense of accomplishment right from the start.


Learning and PQO


Following this, Spencer dedicates time to learning—reading, journaling, and meditation—activities that fuel his creativity and strategic thinking.


The core of his workday, termed "Prolific Quality Output" (PQO), runs from 8 AM to 11 AM, during which he focuses on the most critical and impactful tasks without any distractions.


Adhering to his "11 AM rule," he avoids messages and emails during this time, ensuring that his mornings are reserved for strategic, high-value work.




Midday and Afternoon Blocks


After a quick review of stats and dashboards, Spencer shifts to content creation, spending the afternoon filming videos, brainstorming lesson ideas, and designing graphics.


This block from 12 PM to 4 PM is crucial for maintaining the high-quality, engaging content that his audience has come to expect.


Evening Routine


The late afternoon and evening are reserved for personal time—working out and quality moments with family, reinforcing the importance of balance in Spencer's life.


Once family time concludes, he catches up on emails, messages, and miscellaneous tasks, ensuring that nothing critical slips through the cracks.


 

Looking Ahead

With a solid operational foundation in place, Spencer is poised to expand his reach further. He plans to broaden his course offerings, extend his physical product line, and even undergo a company rebrand to appeal to a wider audience.


This rebranding initiative, moving away from the name "Toddlers Can Read" to something more universal, reflects his ambition to cater to a diverse range of learners, from toddlers to adults.


Spencer also recognizes the potential in international markets. By localizing content and tailoring messaging to accommodate cultural nuances, he aims to make his reading programs accessible and relevant across the globe.


Despite these ambitious plans for expansion and rebranding, Spencer remains grounded in the core mission of his company: to empower parents and maximize the reading potential of their children.


His commitment to listening to customer feedback ensures that his business remains aligned with the needs and expectations of his audience, while his strategic approach to innovation and growth positions him for continued success in the future.


 

Key Takeaways

The journey of Spencer Russell highlights several key takeaways for entrepreneurs and educators alike, demonstrating the value of strategic thinking, adaptability, and customer-centric innovation.


Embrace a Blue Ocean Strategy


Blue Ocean Strategy, involves finding and exploiting new market spaces ripe for innovation.


By analyzing competitors and understanding deep-seated customer needs, Spencer identified a largely untapped niche—early childhood reading education.


This approach allowed him to operate without significant competition, creating value in a market that was previously underserved.


Leverage Social Media for Quick Wins and Viral Growth


Social media played a crucial role in Spencer's ability to gain attention and traction for his business.


His viral TikTok post is a testament to the power of understanding and adapting content to meet the audience's needs. Entrepreneurs should focus on creating content that solves problems and resonates with their target demographic, using social media not just for promotion but as a tool for viral growth.


Diversifying traffic sources ensures that the business isn't overly reliant on any single platform, safeguarding against changes in algorithms or platform policies.


Listen to Customer Feedback and Adapt Accordingly


A key element of Spencer's strategy was his attentiveness to customer feedback. This feedback loop informed his decision to expand into physical products and consider a subscription model, highlighting the importance of building what people want and need.


Listening to customers helps in refining product offerings, enhancing user experience, and identifying new opportunities for growth and expansion.


Key Takeaways in Summary:


  • Find Your Niche: Identify gaps in the market where you can leverage your unique skills and meet unaddressed needs.

  • Social Media Savvy: Use social media strategically for quick wins and viral growth, but ensure to diversify your traffic sources.

  • Customer-Centric Approach: Stay attuned to customer feedback and be willing to pivot or expand your offerings in response to their needs and desires.


Spencer Russell's story illustrates that with a clear vision, strategic use of digital tools, and a commitment to serving the customer's best interests, entrepreneurs can achieve significant success and make a meaningful impact.




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About

My name is Ankit Uttam

I'm an Author (20+ books- A few of them have been on bestsellers charts too), and I'm a solopreneur who is trying to learn each day about how to navigate this growing space and also help a few people along the way.

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