This time, we're chatting with a highly sought-after speaker and coach who is best known for helping people to start their own online business. In fact, she's now trained thousands of people around the world during her 20 years as an online entrepreneur. Alicia Lyttle is also the founder of Pow Social, a digital marketing agency based in Jamaica with clients such as the National Commercial Bank and Hertz.
So, it gives me great pleasure to say Alicia, welcome.
Thank you. And I'm excited to be here.
It's great to have you with us and for those people that maybe haven't come across you before, maybe you could start by telling us a little bit more about your story.
What inspired you to venture into online marketing?
So this is my 21st year, whoa, 21 years as an online marketer and I've loved every minute of it.
So what actually happened was 21 years ago, I met a man who I started dating and he said that he had some knowledge that he wanted to turn into an online course. So, at this point, I was actually working in Washington, DC. I was working at the White House. This is back in the year 2000. It was in the Clinton administration and I was in the environmental section. So it's called the Council on Environmental Quality. And my path was to be an environmentalist. I had gone to Tulane University for my undergrad and my bachelor's is in earth sciences and environmental studies. I know, so totally unrelated to what I do today. And then I have a master's of science in public health with a concentration in environmental science.
So, I went to the School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine at Tulane University for my master's. So, I was ready to work on my PhD. The job that I had, we had done some amazing things and I have the opportunity to work at the White House. So anyway, while I was working at the White House, I met someone who did not work at the White House but was an entrepreneur. And he wanted to know how to do this. And he was like, "I bet you could help me figure it out. If you figured out how to work at the White House, you can help me figure this out." So, I dived into it, but back in the year 2000, there were very few courses or books or e-books on how to start an online business.
So, I found a teleseminar. So it was at night, this guy named Armand Morin would tell you to dial into his phone number and then he would teach you how to build a website over the phone. I know, crazy when you think about technology and how far we've come. And then he would teach you different strategies. So, I would listen to Armand every time he had a teleseminar and he would send out these emails so that you wouldn't miss it. And we developed a website that was very ugly, but in our first year, we made half a million dollars online.
And that was when I said to myself, "Wow, this internet marketing thing, it's crazy. I never knew that you could sell your knowledge online and people would just buy it like this." So, what we did was we actually sold a book and a CD on my ... I eventually married him, but the guy that I was dating at the time, he was a trader and he was teaching people how to trade. So the course was on trading, commodity trading. And so it costs me about maybe $7 or $8 to make the book and the CD. And I was printing it in my basement on this huge laser printer. And I had a CD duplicator, making everything in the basement. And then we charged people $297 for the course and $7.99 shipping and handling.
So, the profits that we made on it was about $290 a package. And I was just blown away. I'm like, "This is the highest profit margin ever. I love this internet-based business." So, that was the first year and I've had my ups and downs, but I've definitely been hooked ever since. So, the guy that I was dating at the time, he inspired me to venture into it because he said, "I bet you could figure this out and I'm really wanting to sell my knowledge online." I was like, "Yeah, this is a challenge. Let's do that." And it took me on a completely different path than where I was going professionally. But yeah, that's how I ended up in online marketing..
I was going to mention that from humble beginnings, it's turned into this big business for you. But it wasn't that humble at the start, by the sounds of things to get such a result straight out of the gate in your first year. You must have been blown away by the success?
I was. It was a lot of hard work though, trying to listen to a teleseminar and figure out how to run an internet-based business was definitely hard work. And there were no seminars. In fact, I don't think I ended up going to a seminar until three years later.
So, it took up an enormous amount of time and trial and effort, but it was worth it. And I remember at this time when I met him, I had an apartment in Washington, DC. I was young, maybe 24 years old, or 23 years old. I had no furniture. I was sleeping on the floor of a studio apartment. But working in the White House, but still, I had just gotten to Washington, DC. And then now I'm learning about an internet-based business. You see, what my dad had always taught me was that in order to be rich, I had to either be a professor or I had to be a professional athlete.
So, as we were growing up, my dad took us to different lessons to try to see if we could be an athlete. And my sister actually took up golf and she became a professional golfer. She went on the women's LPGA Tour, but there was no money in it. My sister's an internet marketer now. And me, I decided that I was going to be a professor. So, my whole goal in working in Washington, DC was to get a scholarship to go to college because my parents couldn't pay for my college. I had a full scholarship to get my master's degree. I was on scholarship for my bachelor's. I figured out different ways to pay for my education. But I say that in saying that my career path and my internet path intersected when I said, "You know what, to be rich, my daddy said there's only two ways to do it, athlete or professor."
And so after I left Washington, DC, I did get a full scholarship to go to college. I went to the University of Michigan to do my PhD. But while I was at the University of Michigan, I asked my professor how much money does he make a year? And when he told me how much money he made in a year, I was like, "We made that much last month in our business." Of course, I didn't say it out of my mouth, but I asked him again. I said, "That's a year?" And he said, "Yes." And I'm thinking to myself, "My dad lied to me. Professors are not rich."
And also you proved your father wrong as well, I guess, because you found a third way to become rich.
I did. And at that point, I did drop out of the PhD program. So I left Washington, DC, University of Michigan PhD program. This is when our business was building. And then, I dropped out of the PhD program and became a full-time online business owner.
And obviously since 2000, the internet has changed dramatically. You must have noticed quite a lot of change from how things were back then to what it's like today?
Absolutely. So, one of the biggest things I was talking to my sister about yesterday was what it took to build a website back then. So we used FrontPage and Dreamweaver. You had to take a course and buy books, and it was hard coding to build websites. Now, I can build a website in under three minutes, and you can time me, by using these different funnel building drag and drop builders. Things now, because of technology, allow us to launch a business in record time. And for those of us who've been around for 21 years and remember building our webpages on Dreamweaver are so appreciative of where technology is today.
You have something that can make my life easier, faster, be more efficient in business? Show me, and I will buy it.
And to people who are coming in today, we're like, "Boy, you have it so easy. If you only knew what it took to send out an email back then." Right? I had one of my students come up to me and she was like, "Oh my gosh, it's so hard to build a website. I don't know which block to put where and how to replace the photo." And after she was done, I said, "Okay, well, let's go take a class in Dreamweaver and build it and hard code it from scratch." And she was like, "What?" I'm like, "Exactly. Stop complaining. Take a minute to figure it out, but appreciate the software that you have today." And what I love is that these software companies are just getting better and better with the end goal in mind of making it as easy as possible for their customers to build the pages, the assets that they need in order to support their business.
So, all I can do is every time I see I'm addicted to technology and tools because of this, because I've been in this industry for 21 years. So, what? You have something that can make my life easier, faster, be more efficient in business? Show me, and I will buy it.
And now I guess it's a good time for me to ask, can you give us some tips as to which tools we should be looking at?
So, let me talk about tools that I use every day, and then we can talk about different tips for starting an online business. So, first of all, let's talk about the tools that I use or my students would use every day. Definitely, you need a software that is a funnel builder, website builder software. I use both the GrooveFunnels and ClickFunnels. So when I'm going to build or launch any type of campaign, whether it's a landing page, a membership site, sales page, whatever I'm doing, I will use one of those two platforms to build my pages, GrooveFunnels or ClickFunnels. And then you have to have an email autoresponder. So, there's plenty of them out there. So choose one that works for you, but the money is in the list. So, you have to make sure that you're collecting name and email addresses at every opportunity that you can.