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A Solopreneur’s Guide: Course Review

It took just a little over 48 hours for me to make my way through the entire “A Soloprenuer’s Guide” course by Jim Galiano. To be clear, not because it’s short (it’s …

Kyle Van Deusen

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Courses, Education

Kyle Van Deusen

Kyle Van Deusen

The Admin Bar

After spending 15 years as a graphic designer and earning a business degree, I launched my agency, OGAL Web Design, in 2017. A year later, after finding the amazing community around WordPress, I co-found The Admin Bar, which has grown to become the #1 community for WordPress professionals. I'm a husband and proud father of three, and a new resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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It took just a little over 48 hours for me to make my way through the entire “A Soloprenuer’s Guide” course by Jim Galiano. To be clear, not because it’s short (it’s actually quite in-depth!) but because I watch everything on 2X speed, and I dedicated quite a few hours to it so I could sum up my thoughts for you before registration to the course is closed in just a few days.

I was immediately attracted to this course before its release for a few reasons.

First, I was already a huge fan of Jim, his teachings and his style. I’ve learned this over the past year or so of listening to his podcast faithfully.

Second, I have always been pretty set on being a “solo” business. I don’t know everything I want, but I do know that I DON’T want a “traditional” big agency (with employees, overhead, and all that brings).

This course is perfectly matched for both of these things. If you are a fan of Jim’s podcast- then you’ll be pleased that this course is essentially a in-depth, extension of his podcast but in video form.

I’m not going to write some in depth summary of everything, but I did want to communicate my overall feelings on the course now that I have made my way through it, who I think it’s a good fit for, and why you might consider picking it up (besides the fact that it’s probably the most affordable course out there).

There’s No Fluff

This whole course is no-fluff. If you’re the kind of person who is going to be off put by not having all the bells and whistles, fancy graphics, top-notch learning management system, and professional video editing- then you might not enjoy this course.

If  you’ve listened to or watched Jim before, you know that’s not his approach- and this course is no different.

All the videos are screencasts of Jim’s screen with his voice walking you through all the material. If there is any editing, you won’t pick up on it. No jump cuts, no back and forth to talking head shots, nothing in the “fancy” department.

It’s all done through a very simple interface directly on this site (which looks more like a series of video blog posts than the modern day LMS systems. Don’t get me wrong- it all works as intended, but there’s no special attention paid to the UI (I know for some that’s important).

He includes a big downloads section with resources. Most of these are Word documents, PDFs, and spreadsheets. Again, there’s nothing here for flare. It’s all focused around simplicity and communicating the material- there might even be a stick figure or two 😉

I’ll be honest here- when I initially logged into the course, the first thing I did was crack open the downloads (Jim offers these up right away) so I could check out the email/video scripts, prospecting maps, and some other goodies I had my eye on– but I was a little disappointed.

The scripts seemed simple, the prospecting map was basic, and none of it had much “continuity” in the visual department. I was a little worried that I had bought something that was going to be below my expectations (or possibly for someone with little to no experience in the industry).

My mistake here was looking at these things “out of context”.  Yes, many of these resources are VERY basic. But, what I learned after going through the video modules (where ALL the gold is at) is that being basic was the whole point.

I haven’t shared any of these thoughts with Jim yet (hi, Jim!), but when we do chat about this, I’m sure he’ll be the first to tell me that all this is intentional. After completing the course, what I’m realizing is that his goal here is to keep you from getting lost in the weeds or distracted by the shiny things that we (as designers) often get fixated on.

I don’t say any of this as “dig” at Jim’s course or his design skills- but rather as a caution to people (like me) who might judge a book by its cover so to speak.

It Paints a Complete Picture

What I think is most useful about this course is that it’s an overview of the complete picture of running a solo digital agency.

Jim takes you through every step… How to think about and build the kind of business you want to have, how to cover yourself with contracts (and his example is available as a download), how to use verbal proposals, how to find & acquire talent (most of this through outsourcing / subcontracting offshore resources), how to position yourself in the marketplace, accounting & invoicing (including software recommendations), how to find and get in contact with prospects, content marketing, & even how to get yourself (and clients!) free publicity.

My biggest appreciation in all of this is in the first few modules that cover all the planning. This includes deciding what kind of business you really want, writing a business plan, and having a goal in mind. These things might seem basic, but I promise you- most people skip these steps and make assumptions in their head.

Taking the time to actually sit down and plan out these (sometimes boring!) things is crucial to the eventual success (or failure) of your business.

Who is this course for?

If this course was a few hundred (or even a few thousand) dollars I would say the people who could benefit the most from it would be the people who are at the beginning of their journey to running their own agency, or are just exploring this idea.

A Soloprenuer’s Guide is a great lesson in the fundamentals that have been learned by 30+ years of Jim’s successes and failures. Going through this course allows you to fast-track some of these things and make sure you are starting off on the right footing.

From this perspective, you’ll have a ton to gain from Jim’s insights and approach.

However, at the price point, I honestly think this is valuable to just about anyone in the digital agency space. Even if you only pick up one or two tips that are “new to you”, the investment will be well worth the small entry fee.

I’ve been involved (in some fashion) in business for nearly 20 years, went to school for it, and have run my agency for the past 3- and what this course gave to me was the “connectors” between all the dots.

It’s unlikely that I’ll use many of the downloads or resources Jim included in the course because I’ve already put in the time to establish my own tools and processes. But where the “lightbulb moments” for me were is in the “connection” between all the dots I already have in place.

Because the course is formatted in a linear processes (step 1, step 2, step 3, etc. with each step building on the next) it gave me a clearer understanding of how all the pieces I have in place are actually connected.

I’ve already started to see how I can make some slight adjustments to what I’m already doing that will help improve my workflows, strengthen my relationships with clients, and smooth out the processes I’ve already put in place.

The Ultimate Question: Would I Buy This Again?

The ultimate question for me when looking back at these course investments is “Knowing what I know now, would I buy this again?”. Often we get convinced to buy something because of the marketing and sales page to then only regret it. So, to me, this is the measuring stick.

I typically regret software purchases at a much higher rate than courses. It’s pretty difficult to not learn something new, and investing in your own education is almost always more adventitious to your business development. Software becomes outdated quickly, but “lessons learned” tend to stick around much longer.

So, would I buy A Soloprenuer’s Guide again knowing what I know now?

Yes.

Do consider what state your business is in though. If you’re new or young in your business, this course is worth 5X the price. If you’re like me, and getting some nuggets here and there out of it, it’s priced quite well. However, if you’re a long-time vet with years of experience under your belt, you might not get as much as you’d hoped.

In summary

Jim’s approach is not unique when you look at this from the business perspective. However, many of these principles and philosophies have been lost on digital agencies who (because of the nature of our work) have tried to replace tried-and-true practices with more tools and flashy software.

Stripping down the whole business to look at the nuts and bolts in a simplistic form (where most people in business might traditionally start from) is a refreshing perspective in our industry.

If you are just starting out and feel overwhelmed by the amount of tools, software, techniques, approaches, and strategies- then going through this course will put your mind at ease and give you the ability to look at this business model at its most simple form without all those distractions.

If you’re further along in your journey (like me), then where this course might be beneficial is seeing how your existing processes and strategy might (or might not) be rooted in some basic fundamentals of business.

This is much more of a business course than anything else. Not in the formal education since, but more from the school of hard knocks / been there done that / let me show you how this actually works in real life kind of way.

Registration is open from now until Black Friday (Nov. 29th) and you can find more and register by visiting https://theadminbar.com/solo/

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Kyle Van Deusen

Kyle Van Deusen

The Admin Bar

After spending 15 years as a graphic designer and earning a business degree, I launched my agency, OGAL Web Design, in 2017. A year later, after finding the amazing community around WordPress, I co-found The Admin Bar, which has grown to become the #1 community for WordPress professionals. I'm a husband and proud father of three, and a new resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

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