I'm Melissa Rodgers, recovering supermom, corporate dropout and CEO of a successful online business that I built from scratch with a baby on my hip. Through lots of trial and more error than I'd like to admit, I built a thriving company that impacts thousands of busy high achieving moms around the world- and gives me and my family a life and future that we had only dreamed of before.

I created the Self-Made Mamas Podcast to bring you step-by-step strategies and inspirational stories that will help you design a business that gives you the life you really want and the future you've been dreaming of. If you are an ambitious business mom or one in the making, you're in the right place. So... let's get to work!


Integrity and Online Business

October 7, 2021

Episode 12 of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast

On today’s episode of Self-Made Mamas, I wanted to offer you a follow-up to Episode 11, which was all about whether or not Business Coaching is a Pyramid Scheme or Scam. I like to keep my podcasts fairly concise, so I wrapped up that episode after explaining how my “coachsulting” business model works and then explaining some common practices and constructs that exist in the industry at large. I wanted to do a follow-up episode to this because I delivered a lot of information in that episode with the goal of making you aware, and today I want to provide some advice and offer some thoughts about how you can take action not only to protect yourself from unfortunate investments but also to conduct your own business with integrity while still being hugely successful.



If you are running or launching a client-based business and want to sell out your services and create profitable digital products, then listen close. The doors to my flagship program, aka my third baby, The Self-Made Mama Society are opening soon and I want you to get on the VIP Waitlist so you don’t miss out. The Society is the only program of its kind on the market—designed specifically to be accessible, hands-on, and results-oriented. I know there is no one-size-fits-all magic pill in online business, and that’s why The Society is a combination of cutting-edge curriculum, weekly group coaching, hands-on FB group support, and one-on-one sessions with me. If you want the best community, the most transparent and genuine support, and direct access to real expertise and action-focused coaching, head to theselfmademama.com/society to get on the list and get access to an exclusive VIP bonus when the doors open.


So…Integrity and Online Business. If you listened to the last episode of the Self-Made Mamas podcast you might wonder if those two things can even go together anymore! Sometimes when you start to understand a bit of the uglier side of this industry, it can feel really demotivating and overwhelming. You might feel like, “why bother?” Or just not want to be involved at all.


I don’t ever want you to feel like that, and I obviously never want to discourage you from pursuing your dream just because some people are setting a shitty precedent for how to go about it. Today we’re going to flip the script and talk about how to safeguard yourself when shopping for a coach or educator, and then how to embody integrity and run your business in a way that aligns with your values while still being very profitable, because obviously we start businesses with the intention of making money, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!


The Honest Truth


The very first thing I want to say is this: the truth I am about to tell you is what’s going to protect you from getting scammed or mislead—but only if you choose to accept it fully and be empowered by it because I think that it is empowering, and I’ll explain why after I share it with you. So are you ready for the hard truth?


There is no silver bullet. There is no secret sauce, no magic pill, no cookie-cutter solution you haven’t yet learned standing between you and a six-figure business or whatever goal you have in mind. There. Is. No. Secret. Solution.


If you are pinning your hopes and dreams for making a certain amount of income or hitting a specific revenue goal onto a single system or solution, you are going to be let down. If someone is selling you that promise, especially with a big fat price tag, I would tread carefully. In my experience serving literally hundreds of clients, here’s what I’ve come to realize:


Your success comes down to your ability to consistently learn and apply new information about your target market, understand your own data and results, and adapt your actions accordingly.


Those are soft skills, my friend. You cannot learn them from a $9000 program that teaches you step-by-step how to build an online course. You cannot learn that from someone’s 10-Step Evergreen Webinar method. You cannot replicate it by copying exactly what you see someone on Instagram doing.


For example, I can show you my low-spend Ads strategy in explicit detail. You could follow every single step, down to the tiniest detail, and if what you write in your ad copy doesn’t resonate with your target customer, if the creative doesn’t jump out of their feed and get them to pause and click, and if the page you send them to doesn’t immediately offer them something they strongly value and make it easy for them to buy or opt-in to it, your ads won’t work like mine do. Period. It is so much more than a step-by-step process, and that’s the point I’m really trying to drive home here.


Successful marketing and sales is a cumulative process. It’s the constant intake of information and the active, consistent application of that learning. Some people are naturally better at it than others, but at this point, I’ve watched hundreds if not thousands of women start and grow (or start and stop) their businesses, and I can tell you that the ones who make it are the ones who learn fast, apply their learning consistently, and don’t give up—even in the face of failure.


Now you might feel a bit frustrated by me saying that there is no secret solution. Trust me, I wish there was! The knowledge that there is no gimmick or trend or silver bullet you can buy to get your dream results in your business is actually very empowering, though, because it means that your success is guaranteed not by someone else, but by your own willingness to try, to learn, and to fail. Yes, there is some technical stuff you’re going to need to get together and there are specific skills you can acquire that will help you. However, learning how to come up with content pillars is not going to magically drop a hundred grand into your bank account. Spending 100 hours of your life creating and rehearsing a show-stopping webinar doesn’t guarantee you’ll make any sales. 


There is a reason that I’ve structured the Society to be support-focused, and there’s a reason it costs a fraction of what almost any other online business expert would charge for what I offer—because I am really passionate about delivering transparent business mentorship to those who need it most, and changing the way this industry operates by leading with realistic expectations, a program structure that is focused on results and not just revenue, and giving my students a safe and supportive place to learn, fail, and grow. I don’t want this support and knowledge to be cost-prohibitive. I mean, do I want it to be a Walmart clearance shelf experience? No, but I also want to make sure it’s accessible to business beginners and those already serving clients but still needing help. If I took this offer to any 7 or 8 figure coach they would tell me to triple the price at the very least, but I have a very clear vision for this program and while I obviously need to make money to continue operating a business, I am much more focused on the impact of this program than I am on the income it generates. 


Nothing would make me happier than filling this community with hundreds of driven, ambitious, and authentic women who want a real-deal business and are willing to put in the time and effort to get it. I could not be more grateful for the 40+ women who are already in there helping each other and growing together because they are all so smart and so supportive of each other. It’s literally just the best.


Integrity context, woman sitting on floor of office with bookings around her and laptop in her lap


Picking the Right Coach


Back to the topic at hand, which is how to protect yourself when you’re shopping for a coach or educator. Now that we’ve established that there is no secret hack or gimmick that can hand you a successful business, you can easily cross the most scammy or misleading offers you come across off of your list. 


The next layer to this is to look at the skills an offer will teach you and make sure, A) it’s something you actually want to learn, and B) this is a skill you can apply in a variety of ways to create the result you want so that you go into it with ownership of your own results. I prefer to learn hard skills from more condensed offers like workshops or mini-courses. Huge high-ticket courses are hard to absorb and hard to finish, so it can be a challenge to get what you paid for. In some cases, the skills are really valuable—like running ads for example—but in that case, I would rather have a membership-type model where I can get support and have questions answered.


On that note, when it comes to high-ticket offers, I personally feel the true value is in the support. If I’m paying thousands of dollars to get access to someone’s experience and education, I want to be able to ask questions. I want them to be able to troubleshoot with me if something they’re teaching doesn’t work out for me, and I want people who actually know what they’re doing to be teaching me. I was in a high ticket program last year where the creator had actually hired students (who hadn’t even achieved the results her program promised) to be the program coaches and to “coach” her customers inside the group and on calls. Within a week I realized they literally knew nothing about anything except how to regurgitate one specific method being taught in the program and could not really help anyone except to clarify things straight out of the videos.


That does not sit right with me. On the one hand, as coaches, we do need to create offers that are sustainable for us to deliver, but I think some people in this space have become desensitized to the fact that there are actual human beings joining their programs and have taken that to an extreme. There seems to be a lot of focus on the front-end marketing, and very little on ensuring the experience behind the paywall is excellent. I think that is really the core of the issue. My goal with Self-Made Mama is that no matter what you buy from me, you feel like you got so much more value than you paid for. I’ve had people tell me that a $2.99 product helped them make an extra $20,000 that year. I’ve had people share that their $2000 Society investment has helped them secure more clients in just a few months than a $12,000 program, and I love that. It makes me so happy and I love that for all of us.


When you’re shopping for a coach or course, first you need to verify that the offer actually contains what you’re looking for in terms of skill development and support. Ask yourself if the promise they’re making is realistic, and also if it actually solves the problem you want to solve. Sometimes we get so sucked into a funnel that we buy products that solve problems we only think are problems because the funnel told us they were! Next, look for results. Now, every program creator has star students and everyone has people who don’t really do the work and never move towards the result they signed up to get. That’s normal, and while it would be nice to have a 100% success rate in everything you sell, as an educator you can’t force people to do the work the way it needs to be done, and so unfortunately that’s never going to happen. As a consumer, I typically ignore the written out testimonials on a sales page (I’ve actually seen people make them up entirely which is insane and not a good idea) but I do like screenshots, and that’s what I use in my own marketing. A lot of times customers will DM me or coaching clients will WhatsApp me their wins, and with permission, I screenshot them and use those to show the results of my programs. I know for myself I want to see people like me implementing the program and getting results, so I also want to offer that to my potential customers. Personally, I’m less interested in the show pony testimonials because I know they are usually the exception to the rule and often those people are also paid affiliates of the program. This isn’t a bad thing but also doesn’t elicit a lot of transparency in many cases. It doesn’t mean those people didn’t actually get results, it just means that their experience is maybe not typical, and again, you want to establish whether or not the program is going to serve the needs of someone like you, at your stage of business/life/whatever. I hope that gives you something to think about when it comes to shopping for a coach or educator.


Integrity context, woman sitting at desk on laptop with books and binders on her desk


Doing Online Business With Integrity


Now let’s talk about how you can do business with integrity, particularly if you are offering any kind of coaching or consulting, information products, stuff like that. The absolute easiest way to ensure that you are not participating in weird pyramid scammy marketing and sales practices is this: Do excellent work. Go above and beyond for your clients and customers. Structure your offers so they are getting way more value than they are paying for every time, and so they feel valued throughout the process.


The positive effects of approaching your work this way are literally endless—you will get almost constant direct referrals, people will talk about you and their experience resulting in indirect referrals, you will feel super confident talking about your offers and marketing yourself because you know how good the work you’re doing is, and most likely the lifetime value of a customer for your business will be very high, meaning you need fewer customers to create the same amount of cash, meaning you can spend more time serving them and less time finding new ones, and the cycle of excellence continues.


When it comes to selling information and expertise, I think this concept is really important:


Don’t teach other people what you’ve learned, teach them what you know. In other words, don’t regurgitate other people’s content. Absorb it, apply it, understand it, adjust it based on your values and experiences and knowledge, and then teach it.  


For example, if I watch a video or read a recipe about how to make a lasagne and I’ve never made one before, I could totally tell you how to make it—what ingredients to use, in what order, how to assemble it, etc. If I’ve never made it, though, and you ask me, “Can I use veggie ground instead of beef?” or “Can I use zucchini instead of pasta?” then I cannot confidently advise you. I can guess, of course, but what if you were paying me to teach you how to make lasagne? Would it be ethical for me to charge you to make guesses about how you should do it? Probably not, right?


That’s how I feel about coaching and information products in general. To be super transparent, I know for sure in my very early years doing this I tried teaching stuff I had learned but didn’t actually know inside out. Let me tell you, it’s not the same as taking the time to truly build expertise and experience. It’s almost impossible to be confident in what you’re selling if you’re not quite sure whether or not you know what you’re talking about. I am so confident in what I teach now and how to serve someone who asks something I don’t know that it has basically removed all the stress from serving clients for me. I never feel bad sharing my pricing, I never feel bad promoting my offers because I know my shit, and I know if you are willing to be helped, I can help you.


The last filter to put your marketing and sales through if you want to operate with integrity is this: Would you want to be sold to in this way? Would you want to sit through a webinar that made you feel bad about yourself, agitated your anxieties around a problem you’re having, then put pressure on you to make a fast decision about whether or not you were going to buy the solution? If not, don’t do that. Would you want someone to demand a decision and a credit card on a sales call without giving you time to think? If not, don’t do that. Would you want to be lied to about what being in a program is actually like and then locked into a payment contract for said program? If not, don’t do that.


Sometimes it feels like doing things the way we see everyone else doing them is the only way, like it’s just going to be so hard to achieve what we want if we don’t follow the status quo. The reality is that doing business in a way that feels really good is actually so easy, and it will make you more money in the long run than trying to replicate methods that don’t match your values and your personality and the way you want to see yourself as an entrepreneur.


I’m going to leave it there for today. I hope that was helpful and answers some of the outstanding questions you may have had after last week. I’d love to hear what you think so get into my DMs if you want to chat and make sure to share in your stories because I’d love to see them.


Action Items


A. There is no silver bullet or magic secret solution you haven’t yet learned standing between you and a six-figure business or whatever goal you have in mind.

    1. If you’re pinning your hopes and dreams onto a single system or solution, you’re going to be let down.
    2. If someone is selling you that promise, especially with a big price tag, tread carefully.
    3. Your success comes down to your ability to consistently learn and apply new information about your target market, understand your own data and results, and adapt your actions accordingly.


B. Things to think about when shopping for a coach or course:

    1. Is this a skill you actually want to learn? Can you apply this skill in a variety of ways to create the result you want so that you have ownership of your own results?
    2. Who is actually doing the teaching in whatever program you’re buying? Are you learning directly from the person you’re buying from, or are education and support responsibilities being offloaded to team members? Is this important to you?
    3. Verify that the offer contains what you’re looking for in terms of skill development and support. Is the promise they’re making realistic? Does it actually solve the problem you want to solve?
    4. Look for results. Not just written testimonials (that could be fake) or a couple of big names splashed on sales pages (star student show ponies). Look for real testimonials from real people who’ve gotten real results and aren’t the one in a million.


C. When approaching your own online business with integrity, do excellent work.

    1. Go above and beyond for your clients and customers. Give way more value than they’re paying for every time so they feel valued throughout the process.
    2. Don’t teach other people what you’ve learned, teach them what you know. Don’t regurgitate other people’s content. Absorb it, apply it, understand it, adjust it based on your own values and experiences and knowledge, and then teach it.
    3. Ask yourself if you would want to be sold to in the way that you sell to others. If you don’t want to be sold to in a way that exploits anxieties, uses pressure and urgency, demands immediate decisions, and lies about what you’re really being offered, then don’t sell to others in that way.


Thank you so much for joining me for this episode of the Self-Made Mamas Podcast. You can find more information about working with us at theselfmademama.com or connect with us on Instagram at @selfmademama_. I can’t wait to chat.


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