Here’s How The Unemployable Initiative is Helping Solo Entrepreneurs Build 7-Figure Businesses

Featured in this Story of Awesome:

Launched on Mighty Networks in September 2019, The Unemployable Initiative is a paid membership site that offers courses, coaching, and resources to solo business owners to help build their business, boost their revenue, and more.

The Spark: After finding success with The Unemployable Podcast, co-hosts Jerod and Brian decided to start a community where followers could connect with each other.

Jerod’s Mighty Moment: “We always say that people pay for the outcome–they initially buy for the education component, but they stay for the community.”

Jerod Morris already knew that combining a course with a community could be a gamechanger for any membership.

And he was already pretty familiar with Mighty Networks, too.

Jerod had first found Mighty Networks when he was looking to expand his podcast about podcasting called The Showrunner. He had been trying to find a place to host a course and a thriving community together:

“We wanted a place where people could interact that wasn’t a Facebook Group, that provided some of the benefits of a Facebook Group, but without the negativity. We ended up starting at Mighty Networks, but at that time there weren’t any course offerings. So we had to run the course elsewhere.”

When other opportunities came up, Jerod shuttered The Showrunner community. But he wouldn’t be gone from Mighty Networks for long:

“I learned a lot from that experience. And when it came time to collaborate on other projects, and the conversation arrived at ‘How are we going to take our audience from an email list or a podcast to the next level?’ My answer was always, ‘Well, we’ve got to try Mighty Networks.’”

He spent the next couple of years creating other Mighty Networks that aligned with his passions, including Assembly Call, a community for Indiana University sports fans, and The THINKERS Workshop, an online training community for people who are committed to becoming better thinkers.

Then last year, Jerod and Brian Clark—his co-host on The Unemployable Podcast— started talking about creating a community for their listeners. They wanted a place they could host webinars, offer resources, and give their members access to peers that they might not have known otherwise.

They also knew they could make their membership really valuable by adding a course. Luckily, Mighty Networks had built a course feature—and Jerod was sold:

“We already had so much in place: a big email list, a solid podcast audience. So when it came time for a community, Mighty Networks was the answer. Because not only do we get the community features, but we also were able to offer courses in the same place. And that took it to the next level for us.”

With that, Jerod and Brian started building.

A New Initiative: Asking for Ideas and Feedback

Because Jerod and Brian already had a sizable audience in place, they first had to establish how this new membership was going to be different from what they were already offering. They started thinking about different ways to add value:

“We decided that with The Unemployable Initiative membership, we wanted to drive people towards outcomes, give people the tools to build their freelance or solopreneur businesses, and provide support. We wanted to have a place for our people to congregate. And we wanted to offer a really high-value course with exclusive information that we hadn’t shared before.”

Jerod and Brian started developing an eight-week-long course, The 7-Figure Small Intensive, that focused on using a curation model to build an audience, learn about that audience, and then develop products and services for that audience.

At the same time, they launched The Unemployable Initiative’s Mighty Network and set it to private. Using their email list, they invited prospective members to apply for membership by filling out a questionnaire. That way, they could get on the same page as their members, and start to understand what they were looking for in a community. And they could also ensure that their initial members were committed to the community, not just passersby who wouldn’t return.

Jerod and Brian offered those initial members free lifetime access to the membership. They figured this approach would be beneficial in two ways: it would encourage more people to join the community, and Jerod and Brian could get more valuable feedback:

“I’m a firm believer in seeding the community with free people at the beginning before you start charging for it. That way, you can make some mistakes and do some learning in front of people who aren’t paying for your community. But they’re still giving you a really, really valuable resource in terms of their time, attention, and feedback.

It gives you the opportunity to make the community better for when you do charge for it, and when people actually come in there, they’re not coming into a quiet room. They’re coming into a community that’s already thriving.”

After two weeks, they closed the community and directed any additional prospective members to sign up for their waitlist, enabling them to beef up their email list and gauge continued interest in their community. For the members already inside The Unemployable Initiative, they offered access to the 7-Figure Small Intensive, for a one-time fee of $499. The conversion was huge: out of about 450 free members, over 100 signed up for the course.

Because they were dedicated to experimenting, and because they were relying on their members’ ideas and feedback, Jerod and Brian opted to run their course live. That way, they could tweak the intensive, as needed, alongside their growing community:

“When we initially launched the course, we were basically building it live in front of people. We were able to take advantage of these really valuable course features—embedding video, audio, slides. We did live Q&As. And we were able to get feedback and implement it as we went along. Those initial members were really integral in helping us build what we have now.”

Come for the Course, Stay for the Community

Today, it’s easy to see how that approach paid off.

The Unemployable Initiative now has a single-tier membership plan, priced at $49.99 per month or $499.99 per year. When a new member pays for access to the membership, Jerod emails them a link so they can access the 7-Figure Small Intensive course as part of their membership. (Existing members who did not initially purchase the course when it was offered can still purchase it as well).

With a paid subscription, members get exclusive access to:

  • Weekly webinars. Jerod and Brian offer a variety of educational webinars, including Lunch & Learns, webinars where community members share their knowledge; and guest lectures, where an outside expert comes in to speak on a relevant topic.
  • Weekly accountability groups. They also offer an organized accountability system with small groups that Jerod curates based on interest. Members outside of those groups can get in on the action, too: On Mondays, Jerod sends out an accountability thread, asking members what they want to get done during the week. And on Fridays, members are invited to post their wins and successes.
  • Weekly Hot Seat. With the Hot Seat, members submit a problem or challenge they’re facing in their business via a Google Form. From there, Jerod posts it, and invites members to start a discussion and share their own experiences around the issue. The idea is that when the Host posts it, it will appear more “official” and get more visibility.
  • Monthly Q&As with Brian Clark. These Q&As are a chance for community members to submit questions to Brian and pick his brain a bit. Sometimes, Brian is joined by a member of the community who shares insight into their specific industry.

In addition to the above, members also get access to The Unemployable Marketplace, where they can seek and barter products and services; access to a free course, Unemployable Tools for Freelancers; monthly virtual happy hours and community co-working opportunities; and access to all past Unemployable Initiative content, no matter when they join.

To keep the latter organized, Jerod has renamed his “Courses” section “Education.” There, he archives courses, past webinars, and older content into a sort of structured library that’s easily accessible for everyone in the community:

“So far, it’s really helped people find things easier, especially new members. They can come in, get started, and just go directly to this library instead of having to search through everything on their own.”

Jerod has also recently started putting together roundups every two to four weeks, and sending them out via email. He’s found it to be really valuable for members, especially those who are away from the group for a few weeks at a time:

“It’s helped people stay connected. They know that we’re always going to be there and that they can catch up on everything they’ve missed pretty easily. They’re never too far removed from what’s going on in the group, even if they’re not in there every day.”

When it comes to recruiting new members, Jerod and Brian invite prospects to complete a course delivered via email called The Curation Code. That course—which is available as a webinar to community members—covers some of the basics from the 7-Figure Small Intensive. The goal is to get prospects into a funnel, and encourage them to purchase membership in The Unemployable Initiative community. Once they’re in, they get access to the full 7-Figure Small Intensive course:

“That’s become our ongoing revenue model. More and more people are signing up through the email course, and they’re joining because of the 7-Figure Small Intensive. And then once they’re there, they see this huge opportunity for community, and they become a part of it. We always say that people pay for the outcome–they initially buy for the education component, but they stay for the community.”

Looking Towards the Future

Jerod and Brian are already looking towards the future and brainstorming ways to expand their reach.

Last month, the pair put together a self-paced course called Email Marketing Essentials, where they touched on a variety of topics from understanding an audience to the fundamentals of ConvertKit email software. For now, it’s available for free inside of the community. But in the next few months, they’re planning on making it available for people outside of the community who aren’t ready to commit to a monthly or yearly subscription:

“We want to provide something for the people who aren’t ready to commit and give them a peek at what they would learn inside of our community. Some people just need to see that there’s a product between zero dollars and $500.”

For now, the pair behind The Unemployable Initiative is committed to growing their community through experimentation and putting their members first:

“Being unemployable is about having the freedom to do exactly what you want with your business. And within our membership, we put a lot of emphasis on connections, community, and an ongoing education that’s responsive to our member’s needs. If you’re going to have an effective community, you’ve got to understand why people are there and what they want. And you’ve really got to adapt what you’re doing to those desires.”

3 Key Takeaways from Jerod’s Story of Awesome

  1. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Jerod and Brian have relied heavily on feedback from their members, especially during their initial launch. When you’re open to tweaking your membership and adapting to your member’s wants and needs, you give yourself a greater chance for success.
  2. Don’t be afraid to run a course live.When Jerod and Brian first started their flagship course, they didn’t have weeks of content planned out. Instead, they ran it live, which enabled them to put the community front and center.
  3. Price at a premium. With The Unemployable Initiative, Jerod and Brian are offering their members results, transformation, and the opportunity to be a part of something bigger. If you can do the same, you can also charge a premium for access.

Read More Stories of Awesome