Has the online coaching industry traumatised female entrepreneurs?
Episode 20825th November 2022 • The Courageous CEO • Janet Murray
00:00:00 00:18:03

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I’ve spent most of this year recovering from an abusive relationship.

As is common with emotionally abusive relationships, it took time to recognise what was going on. Because, at some level, I believed it was my fault.

So I kept trying harder. 

Gave more and more of my time and energy. Until I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

Just to be clear, I’m not talking about an individual here.

I’m talking about an industry.

An industry that continually gaslights women and makes them feel they’re not good enough. And affects women at every level - from side hustlers to newbie online business owners to 6 and 7 figure business owners like myself.

In this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast, I’ll share why I think the online coaching industry has traumatised female entepreneurs (and how). PLUS my predictions for 2023 and beyond.

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Janet Murray’s Courageous Content Planner

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Janet Murray’s Courators Kit

Janet Murray’s FREE Ultimate Course Launch Checklist

Is it time to shake up the online coaching industry? (podcast)

How Kate sold 19 digital products in just 15 minutes (podcast)

How Susan made 6k on her first digital product launch (podcast)

How to stick to a content plan when you're neurodivergent (or just find content planning hard) (podcast)

How I discovered I had ADHD (and why it’s my superpower as an entrepreneur) (podcast)

How I discovered I'm autistic and have ADHD (podcast)

The transgender journey of a parent (and why Josephine Hughes made a podcast about it) (podcast)

Janet Murray’s website

Janet Murray on Instagram

Janet Murray on Facebook

Janet Murray on LinkedIn

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I've spent most of this year recovering from an abusive relationship as is common with emotionally abusive relationships. It took time to recognize what was going on because at some level I believed it was my fault for not being nice enough, for not doing enough, for expecting too much. So I just kept trying harder, getting more and more of my time and energy until I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

I'm Janet. I'm a content strategist and I'm also the creator of the Courageous Content Planner and a whole host of content kits that will save you time and money in your business. I also have strong opinions about the online coaching, uh, marketing industry, and in this episode of the Courageous Content Podcast, I'm going to get a little bit vulnerable and share how the industry has affected me.


And by the way, a trigger warning. Here I am going to talk briefly about post traumatic stress disorder. So this abusive relationship, just to be clear, I'm not talking about an individual here. I'm talking about an industry, an industry that continually gaslights women and makes them feel like they're not good enough and affects women at every level.

From side hustlers to newbie online business owners to six and seven figure business owners like myself, I've created quite a bit of content this year about some of the unsavory practices I've seen in the online. Including an episode entitled, is It Time to Shape Up the Online Coaching Industry? I'll link to that in the show notes, but I don't think I'd really taken in


how much it had impacted me personally, and the light bulb moment came in a therapy session, and yes, it did drive me to therapy.

d run a mastermind program in:

That's exactly how people talk when they've been in abusive relationship. And this made me do a lot of thinking because I've worked with some lovely clients in group and membership programs over the eight years or so. I've been in the online space, people who've been really


grateful for my expertise.

They've implemented my advice, they've got great results. I've interviewed some of them on this podcast, a couple of episodes that might be relevant. How Kate sold 19 digital products in just 15 minutes, how Susan generated 6,000 pounds from her first digital product launch. There are certainly some lovely, lovely people that I've worked with who've implemented.

They've respected my advice and they've got great results, but I've also worked with people who've exhibited some really challenging behavior. For example, ignoring my advice, them blaming me for not getting results, making snide comments about me during group Mastermind calls. And in one memorable case, this really did happen coming to a mastermind day and then.


Ignoring me, literally putting their nose in the air and ignoring me throughout that event. And when I asked them what was going on, what was wrong, they said they didn't want to be associated with me. And yet that person had turned up to take part in a mastermind day. I've had people email me and say, I'm a horrible person, that I'm selfish, that people say really nasty things about me in Facebook groups.

I've had people accuse me of stealing their content. Ironically, one person who sent me a really nasty email, supposedly by accident, this email was intended for someone else, I think. And when I challenged them on it, they said, oh, well you deserved it. Basically. You name it, it's, it's happened to


me and it's, it's not nice.

And ironically, the very thing that helped me to build a successful online business, my ability to take responsibility for my results and continually seek improvement actually also became my downfall. Because I think at some level, I believed some of my clients were playing up because I wasn't providing enough content or giving them enough my time.

And that my years of experience and my proven results were not enough for. So I gave more, and I remember in one particular program I was running, I actually upped the amount of content time that I gave, even though I was charging less than my peers, and I just kept giving more, but it just seemed to never be enough.

And I'm really not


sharing this to be all wos me poor me, because I know I've got loads of things to be grateful for. I'm working in an industry that's helped me to build a multi six figure business, one that I can run from home. Most of the time I'm doing work that I really, really love. I get to be creative every day.

I get to plan my own destiny if it doesn't sound too cheesy, but it's also along with undiagnosed neurodiversity. And of course I've got a podcast on that too. A couple of podcasts on discovering my autism and adhd. I linked to those in the show notes too. It has contributed to a diagnosis of complex ptsd, post traumatic stress disorder.

Yeah, I have literally been traumatized by this industry and the sad thing is I know I'm not the only.


Because trying to make a living in an industry where you are continually gas lit, you're made to feel like you are wrong, as if nothing you can do is ever good enough. That is traumatizing. As one of my friends predict recently, this industry is full of scam artist.

He then went on to name a few people I shouldn't name on this podcast, but people who monopolize the online space and in my opinion, are often taking advantage of people who don't have the funds to invest in their expensive programs, but they're desperate and they buy into this whole builder six or seven figure business overnight.

It's scary. And the problem is that


all of us who work in the industry, even those of us who don't get involved in practices like big affiliate launches, I've made a podcast episode on that soon. Why? I don't do them. I looked at that one in the show notes. But even those of us who are ethical, who try to do business fairly, We have to deal with the casualties of some of this behavior.

We're serving people who've been sold that lie, that making money online is easy. That anyone can make six or seven figures overnight. People who've invariably had their fingers burnt with investment in online coaching or resources that promise the world, but deliver virtually nothing. And I've, of course, that's going to be.

And of course, barely a week goes by without an


abusive email or a message from a customer. And what really strikes me about some of the messages that we get is that they're typically completely disproportionate to what has actually taken place. So for example, a planner getting lost in the post. I recently dealt with a situation where there was a lady who bought my planner in the past and she didn't like the fact that it had all the additional resources this year, and she wanted me to.

The product, and she wanted me to only sell her the planner. My team dealt with this individual privately. They said, unfortunately, that that wasn't going to be possible. But this person became very persistent and they got onto one of my Facebook ads, I think it was, and just being so negative.


The response just seemed so disproportionate to what had actually happened.

It's like going into McDonald's and kicking off because they won't split a Happy Meal or something because every business or brand, it's their prerogative what products they sell and how they sell them. So while that might have been disappointing for that customer, the response. Just felt really disproportionate and personal and not very nice.

And when you're doing business ethically, when you are working your butt off, as I have done for the past eight years to provide high quality learning opportunities, it's hard to deal with people like that. It's upsetting and however much you try to tell yourself, it's just this one individual. It's


just a couple of people, you know, like the lady who went on one of my Facebook ads.

Posted that she could get better in the pound shop. I mean, come on, . I love that when this stuff is happening over and over again when people are not treating you like you are a real person, making really quite personal comments. I had one person who requested a refund recently for something. And as part of their case for a refund, said in their email, I really respect the fact that you are open about your autism and adhd.

And then spent three paragraphs pointing out all of my flaws, all of the things that they felt were wrong with me. And I actually emailed that person back and said, Hey,


your complaint was justified here, but this wasn't justified. Making it personal wasn't justified. And it does take its toll. So what's kept me going at times is reminding myself that some of the people in my inbox who are abusive or they seem mad at me or my team, they're not really mad at us.

They're, they're mad at themselves, which is why they're hypervigilant, they're ready to attack even when there isn't a threat. And I also keep reminding myself that I've stayed true to myself, my beliefs. I'm not perfect, but I work really hard. I try to do the best by my clients, and I have not got involved in practices that I think are unethical.

I haven't made as much money as I might have done as a result, but I can sleep at


night knowing that I've made the right decision. So I guess what I'm really hoping, and that's why I'm publishing this content at the end of 2022, looking ahead to 2023, is I'm really hoping that over the next few years, more women, more individuals, will be brave enough to speak up about their experiences because it is absolutely possible to generate income from selling digital products online.

What isn't possible for most is overnight success. It's not possible in any industry. I mean, I know that I was really privileged. To come to the online space with a background in journalism, because I knew how to write. I certainly wasn't an expert in writing sales pages or email marketing had copy or completely new


disciplines that I had to learn.

And believe me, I learn. I read tons of books. I listened to loads of podcasts because. Copy is so, so important when it comes to selling, particularly online. And despite my professional background, I had a lot to learn, but that's not the kind of thing that we hear online. Few people are honest like me. To talk about the many hours that we have spent building our businesses, about the sacrifices that we've made, about the guilt that we might feel about maybe not spending enough time with our children or our families, because we've been obsessively building our businesses.

You barely hear about that. It's all about the holidays and the working from the beach, and it's just not,


just not realistic or true. So I really am hoping that more of us who've been affected by this industry because. I feel traumatized. By having to deal with, I guess, some of the casualties of this industry, but also I feel a bit silly that I bought into some of this stuff myself.

It took me so long to crack on because as a content strategist and teacher, I really believe that my aim should be to provide the shortest route to any goal. Like I shouldn't be creating multi module online courses needlessly. I shouldn't be asking my clients to join 12 month group coaching programs to develop skills they could master in a few days.

And if I think it will be quicker for me to write their sales page for them and more cost effective these days, I


just tell them I have a real problem with high ticket group programs. Because, and I've already touched on this, they rarely address that biggest barrier to success in online business. Copy.

If you can't find the right words to describe your offer, if you can't articulate in writing the transformation it provides, you don't have the budget to hire somebody who can do that for you, which most people don't. When they're in the early days, you will struggle to sell your offer. And it annoys me that people are spending thousands of pounds a month sometimes on these high ticket masterminds when they could be harming a copywriter.

That's the bit that they need help. Whenever I'm working with clients who are struggling to sell their product service, it's always the copy. It's always the sales page. It's always the fact that the benefits or the transformation don't come


across. I can fix that for people. They don't have to pay 60,000 to be in a high ticket mastermind or spend 12 months trying to get to the point where they can write a decent sales page or a decent email nurture sequence or whatever it might.

So I started by talking about my fear and trepidation about running a group program. I kept thinking about it. I kept thinking know this is a really great way for me to help people move to the next level. It's recurring income, , but it just made me. Feel sick. I, I thought long and hard and I worked with my coach on ways that I might be able to deliver it that protected my energy and protected me from the type of characters that you get in the



You always get certain types of people in group programs, so you get your keynotes. Who I love who. Come to the sessions, listen to what you have to say, go off and implement. But you always get the group of kind of like Ming Girls, I, I call them, who kind of band together decide that they think they can do better.

I've rarely run a group program where someone hasn't said to me, can we do the Zoom calls ourselves? I mean, how insulting is that? Like you sign up to somebody's coaching program and then suggest that you might run your. Sessions because one of the reasons people join these programs is to get clients sometimes.

And, um, I'm guessing the thinking behind that is that if they get to run the Mastermind calls, then they imagine that this would be a


great way to show their skills as a coach, even though they may not have much experience at tools to help the individuals in that group. The other types of people that you get, and I would probably be this person, is the people who get bored and they really don't want to listen to hours and hours of mastermind calls.

ething that I did a lot of in:

And something that I'm increasingly feeling is what works shortness of learning and mentoring. I definitely see that as what I have the most impact and, and also


where I can help people with their copy as a writer by trade. That's my superpower if you'd like, and I think it's where I can make the most.

I've worked with a lot more clients in the last year running content intensives, but also adding in a done for you element. So this year I work with one client who actually write all of their podcast scripts with them on Zoom calls. Absolutely brilliant. Total weight off their shoulders. And then I also wrote a white paper with that same client, five and a half thousand words over two, three hour Zoom calls.

And then I went off and I edited the white paper for them and turned it into three further podcast episodes and also social media posts. I love doing that kind of work because. I know I'm having a real


impact and I'm really saving people time. Also, working with another client in a kind of done with you way where we started with the content intensive to create a, an event content strategy, and then I went away and created some of the email marketing content and the social media content for them and loved doing it.

I'm also running a couple of route retreats for a small number of individuals. I did a couple of those last year. Josephine Hughes, who was on one of my recent podcasts about her experience as a parent of two transgender children and why she made a podcast about it. That one in the show notes as well.

Definitely worth a listen. She was on one of those retreats and that's where that podcast idea was born. So still gonna be focusing on my


content planner, my content kits, also my live event next year. Those shorter births of learning, but also going to be doing more one to one, and combining coaching, the mentoring side with implementation, because they're the parts.

ber of podcasts to publish in:

I have built a successful online business selling digital products at sale. One to many is not many people that have done that with the kind of


price point, but I don't have to do fruit masterminds because other people are doing them or because I can do them. Because I have that experience. I can choose to lean into the things I enjoy the most and where I can have the most.

el really positive going into:

Over quantity. They're starting to get a lot more realistic about what can be achieved, and I feel really excited by that. And


I hope this episode inspires you to be courageous enough to do it your way, which sounds a bit cliched, and to build the kind of business that works for you and really lights you up rather than the kind of business you think you should be building.

And if you enjoy this episode as ever, I would love to hear from you. The best place to connect with me as ever is Instagram. I'm @janmurrayuk.



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