Teaching classes for a paper crafting company that constantly pushed her to take her business to the next level gave Christie Daugherty more anxiety, pressure, and stress than she ever wanted in her life. She started giving online sewing lessons, but soon discovered a surprisingly underserved niche that made even better use of one of her greatest talents.
Now, at Be The Light Lettering Tribe, Christie teaches women hand lettering techniques. She helps her audience lift others up and has created a powerful, inclusive community built on deep relationships and empowering, transformative work on her terms.
Today, Christie joins the podcast to share the story of how she discovered her most valuable skills, why her membership site is a job second and a community first, and how to avoid overwhelm for both your students and yourself as you create and run a membership business.
- How local demand for lettering classes – something Christie never before had thought to teach – led to creating her membership.
- Christie’s biggest doubt when it came to the membership model – and why it proved to be completely untrue.
- How to take action when you feel paralyzed by fear.
- The most surprising feedback Christie ever received – and what makes online businesses so uniquely inclusive.
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- “Lettering is very therapeutic.” – Christie Daugherty
TranscriptRead The Transcript
Shelli Varela: When you listen to your audience, they’re going to tell you exactly what they want. And sometimes it’s right under your nose.
Stu McLaren: There is a big trend brewing that’s revolutionizing the way business is being done. Big companies like Netflix, Amazon, and Apple are jumping on this too but so are thousands of others in all kinds of markets like photography and calligraphy, fitness, finance, meal planning, lesson planning, dog training, and so many more, and they’re doing it by shifting to a recurring revenue model. Hi. My name is Stu McLaren and for more than a decade I’ve been helping tens of thousands of entrepreneurs generate recurring revenue through membership sites. Join our host, Shelli Varela, as she takes you behind-the-scenes to see how these companies are building a thriving tribe that spends with them every single month. Now, let’s get to today’s episode.
Shelli Varela: Christie Daugherty, welcome to the It’s a TRIBE Thing Podcast. How are you?
Christie Daugherty: I’m awesome. It’s so great to be able to share my story.
Shelli Varela: I’m happy to share it as well. With that said, I would love it if you would share with our amazing listeners who you are, who you serve, and most importantly, how you got to be that person.
Christie Daugherty: Okay. Who am I? And who I serve? I know who I serve. Okay. So, I’m Christie Daugherty. I have a business called Create with Christie and I have a membership tribe called Be The Light Lettering Tribe. And I started off, in the beginning, being a schoolteacher, and then things evolved into that. What was your other question?
Shelli Varela: Who you serve and what your backstory is… So before you were a membership site owner with recurring revenue, before that, at the very beginning of your story, there was a person who had an idea or was living in a situation where there was a transition created and I’m curious about where that started.
Christie Daugherty: Yes. Okay. So, back when I was growing up, I’ve always been a teacher. Whether the kids in the neighborhood wanted to or not, they’re going to sit there and they’re going to listen to me. And then in college, I got my bachelor’s in education so I taught school for about three years, and I wanted to stay home. And while I was at home, I just thought, “I need a purpose. I got to figure out something to do.” And I started with this paper crafting company and there I was able to use my teaching skills and my love of creativity because I love to design, I love to create. And so, we would make cards and scrapbooking was so popular then. I had a lot of people around me, I was teaching classes, and I love people. And so, all of that was like the perfect combination for me. The problem was I completely lost myself because it was push, push, push for the next thing. And this company would, you could earn trips and bonuses and that kind of thing. And so, I would push myself to that point. And so, it became a job and because of that, I started having a lot of anxiety, pressure, and stress. So, after that, I decided I need to take a break. So, you want me to keep going?
Shelli Varela: Please.
Christie Daugherty: Okay. So, from that point, I came home and I just thought, “I got to get myself together. What is my purpose?” And I knew I loved to create so I just kind of thought, “Okay. I’m going to work on my Etsy shop, and I was selling a lot,” and I was listening to a podcast, and I heard, “You can teach classes online,” and I was like, “No way. What is this?” I love people. I love my students.
Shelli Varela: When you heard that, did you think to yourself, “That’s too good to be true?”
Christie Daugherty: I did because I thought, “Wait, that means I don’t have to be around people because I’m struggling with anxiety right now,” and I love being creative and I love teaching. So, it was a no brainer. I just had to figure out how to make it happen. So, I started teaching sewing lessons online. And in online when you teach classes, it’s not like people are going to flock to you. They’re just going to be like, “Oh, look at this lady teacher sewing.” They have to know how to find you. It’s not that easy. So, I had people in my town that were asking me, because when I would sew, I would put these little labels on the bags, and I would hand-letter them and print them out. And that’s what made him special. People love the lettering on there. And so, they started asking me, “Can you teach us how to letter?” And I was like, “No, I don’t know how to teach you.” So, I did some research and I thought, “Well, I’m just going to try it. I’m going to do a class.” So, people came over to my house. I said, “If I can get six people, then I’ll do this.” Well, 25 people wanted to come. So, I was like, “Okay. There’s something to this. People want to do this.”
And so, I was listening. I have a business coach and I heard her say, “Give people what they want. You might want to teach sewing, but that’s not maybe what they want. They want hand lettering.” And at that point, I was like, “Oh, okay. I really didn’t know it was that popular.” And from there with the classes online that I did, I also did some hand lettering classes online, but people want that interaction with you. I would say the people that I’ve interacted with, most of them want a relationship with me. They don’t want to just take my class and be done with. And so, that was kind of like eye-opening as well. I start hearing about this membership group. I thought, “What is that?” And because I love people, because I love to teach, because I love being creative, it just totally made sense for me.
Shelli Varela: Yeah. It sounds like it ticked all the boxes. I’m curious about how that felt transitioning from because you said something really interesting. Listen to what they want and give them what they’re asking for. What was that like, that first instance where you thought, “Well, they want to learn lettering, but I teach sewing. Lettering can’t be a thing.”
Christie Daugherty: Yes, it was like, you know, I didn’t want to hear that at first because I was like that’s not what I know. You know, it made me nervous to think how am I going to teach this? How is this going to work? Are people really going to want to follow me online for lettering? Is there really that many people out there? You know, it’s just all these questions and it wasn’t my plan so I had to totally rethink everything and I’m so thankful that I was open to that. If I was closed-minded and just keep doing sewing, that’s not really what’s the most popular thing right now. People are loving to sew but I mean hand-lettering is huge right now.
Shelli Varela: What was the biggest doubt you had going into this? So, I’m hearing you say you had like a regular crafting business and you’re teaching sewing, you learn about online business, and it seems all that seems too good to be true. What was the biggest doubt you had that turned out to be unfounded when it comes to transitioning into a membership site?
Christie Daugherty: Nobody’s going to sign up. That’s the scary part. You’re like, “Okay. I’m going to put this out there and no one’s going to care,” and everybody’s going to be like, “Well,
who does she think she is?” You know, it’s that imposter syndrome. You think, “I can’t do this. Who would want to follow me? Who would want to be a part of something that?” I mean, they’re committing to me and they’re paying to be in my course and what if I don’t deliver? It’s just, yes, a little scary.
Shelli Varela: Would you be willing to talk about the piece where because I hear this so often when people they have either a gift or a talent or a skill like your lettering. You didn’t even think it was a thing. You’re over here teaching sewing and you’re on the other side lettering and it’s the thing that people are drawn to. Would you be able to speak to your first thought process you had when people are expressing an interest in that? But because it comes so easy to you, you don’t think it’s a thing?
Christie Daugherty: Oh, that’s a great, great question. Yes. I absolutely thought how can I teach someone? Does everybody can just look online and watch? You know, like if you want to, you can get online and you can learn anything you want if you want to spend hours watching YouTube or whatever. And so, I just thought, “Who am I? How am I going to do this? Why will people listen to me or want to learn from me?” You know, it’s just that’s fear. I think we just let fear take over and we just think I can’t do this. So, a lot of people I noticed they put off starting a membership group because of the fear. You don’t want to take that step forward because what if, what if, what if?
Shelli Varela: What was the thing that helped you, with that said, jump off the edge or take action or execute in spite of the fact that you have all of these fears that right now are paralyzing somebody else? Because what I want to encourage everybody to do is to consider trying even though you don’t have it all figured out, even though it’s not going to be perfect. What did that piece look like for you when you had to actually take that step into, “I’m not sure what this is going to look like?”
Christie Daugherty: Well, honestly, for months, I would tell myself, I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it. And I felt like I don’t have all my ducks in a row. How am I going to do it? It’s the fear of how. Is this going to work? And again, is anybody going to sign up? And It was just like I am a woman of faith and so, honestly, I just had to pray about it and I just had to – I kept hearing podcast and business coach say, “You just got to start. You might not get it right but you just got to start.” Stu McLaren, I love him and I love that he gives me permission to do it scared and it may not go exactly right but you can adjust. That’s the great thing about having your own business like this. Let me just say, I have the best job in the entire world. I get to do everything that I love. And you know, at first some people at first they don’t like the idea of you’re not person-to-person. But now you can be on the computer and you can see each other. You can still form a relationship with people and you may not see each other in person, but it’s really cool when you do eventually you may get to meet them in person but you can still get a real deep personal relationship with people online.
Stu McLaren: So many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. This isn’t luck. This is a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and if thousands of others can do it, you can too. To find out what type of membership site would be right for your business, visit GetTRIBEGuide.com. Go to GetTRIBEGuide.com and download it today. You’re awesome!
Shelli Varela: I would absolutely echo that because one of the ladies who’s taking my course lives in New Zealand, and I love her to bits. I feel like I’ve known her forever and we have never physically met. So, I absolutely echo that sentiment for sure that the relationships that you form with the people who are showing up weekly, daily, whatever that looks like in your membership, it has a profound impact on your life in many ways, not the least of which is you’re out there with people that are aligned with the things that you love to do.
Christie Daugherty: Yes, absolutely.
Shelli Varela: What is the best piece of feedback that you got that surprised you? So, just to recap the story, you start offline, you’re brave enough to take this bold step, you do you start this membership site, you don’t know in the beginning if it’s going to work or how it’s going to turn out. What’s the most surprising best piece of feedback you’ve received from one of your members?
Christie Daugherty: Okay. This just blows me away. I mean, I could get emotional thinking about it. People thank me so much for doing this. Like they tell me it’s such an amazing place for them. And I’m going to tell you, it’s a lettering job but honestly, it’s a community first. It’s a community first. We’re very focused on scripture, and hand lettering, it lends itself to writing out scripture really pretty and it helps you learn that and these women are seeking relationships. I mean, I can’t believe they’re paying me and they’re telling me, “You have no idea how much this means to me.” And another thing that I like to share is in the beginning, I just thought, here are some people and they’re just going to take a chance on me and then maybe get out of it or whatever but what I’m seeing is, is there’s a lot of people who couldn’t go attend a class. There’s a lot of people who have health issues. They can’t leave their couch, and I’m actually providing a service for them that they just, you know, it’s something that they didn’t even have the opportunity to do. And so, I love that I can offer something that they didn’t even know as a possibility.
Shelli Varela: You bring up a really good point because oftentimes people will say something like, it’s an online community, and is there value and will people pay me and will they want it and will they show up? And you make a really good point because the truth is you’re offering opportunities for somebody to be included that might not be included otherwise.
Christie Daugherty: Absolutely.
Shelli Varela: Incredible. So, if you could have one wish that your business and more importantly, the impact of your business could be anything you want it to be a year from now, what would that look like for you, for your life, for your business, and for your members?
Christie Daugherty: That’s a great question. I just continue to pray about what is next for me, what is next for my tribe. And I’ve toyed around with some different things. I toyed around with the podcast actually. And because my goal in the whole membership tribe is for people to be the light and a world to others, and to spread that. And so, there’s not a number. I’m not saying I want to get 100 members or 1,000 members. It’s not about that. It’s about one person at a time. And I feel like one thing that sometimes we do is look at each person as a number. I want to look at each person as a person that has a family that has struggles like I do that needs support that needs community. I don’t want to forget that they are all people. So, the future from now is just spreading the light to others whatever that looks like.
Shelli Varela: That’s amazing. That’s one of the best answers I’ve heard.
Christie Daugherty: Thank you.
Shelli Varela: Well, I mean, it’s so important. We always talk about features versus benefits and while people in the front end could say what you do is you have a lettering membership, given some of the stuff that you are lettering about, the scriptures and what have you, you’re creating a community but there is also an element of inclusion in a world that is so lonely and being included in a group that is like-minded, that is inclusive. And also, I’m feeling like there’s probably some sort of meditative component that in the days that are just so quick, and so spinny and so busy, you get to have some time for self-care and just sit down and do the thing that you love with the people that means something to you.
Christie Daugherty: Absolutely. Lettering is very therapeutic. And I was actually thinking, you know what, I think I want to do a live class where I just put on soft music and tell people to join me and let’s not talk and let’s just letter together. I think that would be so good for people to just be able to stop and I feel like sometimes you have to teach them how to do that. You would think that we could sit down and do that but really, I mean, it’s like any other thing. People go work out in a group because that’s a time dedicated for that. It’s hard to go work out on your own sometimes. So, if I could just schedule that and people could sit down and just relax and write, I think that would be amazing.
Shelli Varela: The visual of that, by the way, is stunning. That would be amazing. And it’s true. Oftentimes, people will talk about whether their day was productive or not. And I think you’re right, I think to a degree, many of us need to be taught and/or reminded that when you are slowing down, when you are taking time for yourself, that is just as important. It’s kind of like the silence between the notes is just important in music as the notes themselves.
Christie Daugherty: Absolutely.
Shelli Varela: If you had one piece of advice to offer somebody who’s entertaining starting a membership site, but maybe has one of those doubts that you had in the beginning, what would you tell them?
Christie Daugherty: I would say when you get your group started, the number one thing that I was taught and it’s in TRIBE with Stu McLaren is overwhelm. And I learned that quickly when I joined a group, I could not keep up. I just thought, I just got to get out of this group, I can’t do this. It’s too much. I can’t keep up. And so, I think in the beginning, just be careful that you don’t offer too much because that’s the number one reason why people quit. And that was the hardest thing for me because you want to give them value. You just want to give, give, give. But the thing is, is like once you give them something, we got to give them time to process that, work through that. If you’re giving them something else on top of that, then they’re going to get overwhelmed.
Shelli Varela: And it seems counterintuitive, right? Because we’re inclined to think, “Well, it can’t be that easy.” But not only is it that easy, it’s more effective. Less is more. Work smarter, not harder.
Christie Daugherty: Exactly. I wish I knew that in the beginning. I mean, I knew it but I didn’t. You still don’t believe it. I have a friend that I’m kind of talking her through her new membership and she said, “Oh, I’m struggling with that. I want to give them everything. I just want them to, you know, I feel like it’s worth it,” and I was like, “Girl, they love you,” and you’ve given them…
Shelli Varela: And they can’t handle everything at once.
Christie Daugherty: That’s right. They’re going to stick with you. They love you. And you know what, I think keep in check with your group. Honesty, and show them like I talked about being a lot but do you all think that I’m always the lot, you know that my struggles. This is what happened to me today and how I should have handled it. You know, just being real.
Shelli Varela: We need more of that in the world. That’s for sure. I wanted to thank you so much for your time and for sharing the story because it is an inspiration to others who are a few steps behind you. And if people are looking to find you online, where’s the best place they can reach out?
Christie Daugherty: My website is CraftWithChristie.com and Christie is C-H-R-I-S-T-I-E so that’s harder to spell sometimes. If you’re older like me, Christie Brinkley spells her name that way, the model. And then on Facebook, Create With Christie on Facebook and Instagram. That’s what I’m on there. I love to invite people to come letter with me. It’s a great way to relieve stress and bond with other people and learn the Scripture.
Shelli Varela: Amazing. And you are doing great work in the world. And we wish you the absolute best for that vision for you, for your family, for your members and for your business.
Christie Daugherty: Thank you, Shelli. This was fun.
Stu McLaren: I hope you love that story. It’s amazing, right? That’s what It’s a TRIBE Thing is all about. So many people in all kinds of niche markets are leveraging their existing knowledge and influence and they’re transforming it into passive monthly income. Listen, this isn’t luck. There’s a repeatable formula for producing a growing subscription income and each week we’re going behind the scenes to show you exactly how they did it. Get the latest stories and actionable ideas from each episode at www.ItsaTRIBEThing.com and if you know one other person who could benefit from this, tell them to subscribe. Tell them to go to ItsaTRIBEThing.com.
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