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From Employee to Creator-preneur: My journey from $20k/yr to $100k/yr

Actualizado: 3 jul 2023

How to succeed as a content creator

My creator-preneur journey.

It all started there. Barcelona, September 2017...

At that little bunker where the air was so dense and limited that it was even hard to breathe.

At that little bunker where the air was so dense and limited that it was even hard to breathe.

Picture this. No air, no music, because it was forbidden, no freedom because the 9 to 5s were more 9 to 8s and only $20k per year.

I was selling my soul for $20k a year, working overtime, and leaving my dreams behind.

Before starting this position as a Social & Digital Manager at a very prestigious Spanish chain of hotels I almost made it. At least I thought I did.

I had lost my job at a startup and I took 8 months off while working on my own projects: Instagram & my blog.

But 8 months weren’t enough to learn, to make mistakes, and to understand what it really takes to grow an online business on social media.

And I had to go back to work because I couldn’t figure it out fast enough and I needed to pay my bills.

The moment it clicked for me was when one day I arrived at the office and my colleague told me the director hadn't liked the fact I had left at my time, sharp, because he liked when people stayed a bit over to show their commitment to the company.

He also mentioned the director didn't like it when I listened to music so I wasn't allowed to have headphones on.

The director, my manager, and my colleague were all slaves of what society had depicted as the norm in a corporate environment.

But I wasn't like them, nor I wanted to be another slave.

So I quit & it was the best feeling in the world.

After that, I worked for another startup that was cooler, at least they let have your headphones on, but that didn’t last long either.

I worked for another startup that was cooler, at least they let have your headphones on, but that didn’t last long either.

I lost all motivation after the first few months and the project ended up closing down...

July 2019

The day they gave us the news that the company was closing down and that we were going to receive a compensation pack while receiving help from the government was the best day of my life. Well maybe not the best, but you know what I mean.

The universe was giving me the green light to go chase my dreams again.

I started running social media accounts for small businesses in Spain and Canada while growing my photography account on the side.

I started running social media accounts for small businesses in Spain and Canada while growing my photography account on the side.

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with this account. I just wanted to grow it but a lot of people discovered me there and it brought my first paid gigs as a photographer and other content creation projects.

shootwithjuan instagram

But managing multiple accounts, while your own is not the easiest job. Bless Social Media Managers, they work so hard.

And I soon realized social media management wasn’t for me. I wanted to create a higher impact on people at a more personal level. So I started doing social media coaching.

I had no clue what I was doing. I started giving social media tips and launched a BETA coaching program.

3 sessions for $90.

It was still more than what I was earning before.

I got three people in. One never paid me.

I had heard about email lists, but I had no clue if they really worked.

But I still gave it a go, created a hashtag guide, built a small list of 200 maybe 400, and launched my first coaching program.

hashtag guide

I didn’t follow any frameworks, strategies, or rules. This launch brought me my first real coaching clients.

I remember thinking “People trust me. That’s good.”

But pivoting from photography to social media marketing on Instagram was really affecting my reach. It was really frustrating because I knew I was knowledgeable about Instagram, I had grown other accounts, but mine was stuck.

September 2021

So I decided to create a new project: IG Creator Academy.

ig.creatoracademy instagram

I repurposed a lot of social media content that I have posted on my photography account so it was easy to get started.

I had just read a book calledLaunch” by Jeff Walker. A book that gives you a step-by-step plan and strategy to launch your first digital product or program.

I had had success with my first coaching program but it still wasn’t enough to make a full-time income and quit my other social media clients.

So I started working on this group coaching program called the IG Creator Academy, which was another reason why I started that Instagram account.

In October 2021 I had my first viral reel and my account grew from like 1,500 to over 10,000 followers in a few weeks in November it had grown to over 30,000.

follower growth

So I launched.

One day goes by… crickets

The second day goes by…. More crickets

Third day… nothing still

I canceled the campaign and hid myself in my pain and frustration.

Not even one person joined my program.

That’s when it clicked for the first time. More followers won’t equal more sales.

I quit Instagram for two days, cried, thought about changing careers, then I was back at it.

I think that’s one of my biggest traits. My perseverance.

After my first failure, I started reading Patt Flynn’s “Superfans” and I got the idea of creating a free challenge. A free Reels Challenge.

At the end of the day, that’s what most people knew me for. Reels.

The challenge was a great success and it had almost 1500 participants.

Then one day I got an email from Adobe. Are you freaking kidding me? Adobe wants to partner with me. This definitely is a scam. But it wasn’t

I had NO idea how to set my rates so I researched on Google and found over 20 different articles and learned how it had to be done.

I closed my first 5-fig brand deal with 38,000 followers.

That’s when it all made sense. This is how it’s done. This is how influencers make money. Good money.

But I consider myself very ambitious, and I wanted to do more. I still wanted to have my own products. Build my own business.

And I had always wanted to create a course. The Instagram Creator Academy might have not worked out, but I still had that brand. So I created my first product: a mini-course on Reels

The Explode With Reels course was my most successful launch to date. It made over $15,000 during the first week, and considering this was a low-ticket product priced at $47 - this meant VOLUME. Lots of courses sold.

Honestly, I was shocked. I couldn’t believe I was selling. I couldn’t believe I was selling SO MUCH. I kept refreshing the page every two hours or so and sales kept coming in. Almost every hour. It was insane.

While this was happening, other big brands like Later, Thinkific, Notch, The Leap, and Metricool (my biggest partner & longest up to this date) started approaching me for partnerships, and with my new negotiating skills, I closed very lucrative deals. I even had to reject multiple deals because all contracts were exclusive.

A few months after the Reels course launch, I decided I wanted to launch another product, but this time a low-ticket subscription. Since I was sharing weekly trending audio and putting a lot of time into it, I thought making it a subscription would be a great idea.

So I launched the Reels Trend Report. For $7 a month, you’d get a weekly report with 7 trending audio and 4 predictions with tips, ideas, hooks, etc It was a great success too, and enrolled over 180 members.

Then, a few months later, I was already working on my next course. My signature program would teach creators how to grow on Instagram & make a full-time income from it. Just like I'd done it.

I spent MONTHS creating this program, I took courses, read books, and listened to podcasts. I poured my heart into this program.

And of course, I had very high expectations. And with high expectations, come high disappointments.

I few months earlier I did a pre-sale offer where I would give access to 10 people at 50% to get their feedback on the program as I created it. I got 11 people in. Everything seemed to be going as planned.

pre-sale to 10 people who gave their feedback

The day the course launched I heard crickets. I was freaking out.

The next morning I made one sale. Better but still freaking out.

I had done everything right. Followed the right frameworks, and proven strategies that had worked for thousands of people. But for me, it wasn’t working.

But I couldn’t stop at this point. The promotional campaign was going to be running for 10 days and I needed to show up every single day, multiple times.

Thankfully, I managed to save this launch, and more people enrolled in the end. A total number of 22 (including the founding members) so this launch barely crossed the $10k mark. Still not bad.

2022 continued to get better with more brand partnerships and even more products like the Reels Creator Club (an improved Reel Trend Report).

And I knew it was time to invest in the business.

I needed help in different areas so I hired a VA right for the launch of my signature program. I hired an OBM to help me organize & structure my business and hired a Video Agency to help me launch & manage my YouTube channel.

IG Creator Academy YouTube

My monthly expenses were rising to over $5k/month. But it was fine because my monthly income was on average $10k/month.

That year, I grossed over $113k between brand partnerships, my products, and coaching.

The problem came at the end of 2022 and the beginning of 2023, when multiple long-term deals ended and sales started to slow down.

In February 2023 I realized I wasn’t profitable anymore. My monthly expenses were higher than my current income.

I was forced to cut down on expenses and that included the VA, the OBM, and the Agency.

I knew I needed a cash injection so I thought of re-vamping my very successful reels course, improving it, and increasing the price.

Once again, I had high expectations based on how well it had done the previous year. With doubling the price and having improved my positioning as an industry leader over the last year, I knew sales would be great.

So I re-launched. On the first day, we did almost $2k, so it looked very promising. But then it just stopped. And I had no idea what was happening. But once again, I had to continue promoting.

In the end, it did almost $4k but was very far from the first launch. It was disappointing. And it started to affect me a little bit.

On top of this, my reach and engagement on Instagram were at their lowest ever, my YouTube channel wasn’t growing, and I wasn’t profitable anymore.

It started to really make me doubt myself, my skills, and my abilities.

Luckily, Metricool had renewed me for another 6-month contract but that wasn’t starting until April.

And I needed cash.

Perhaps, a good way of having made quick cash was by offering 1:1 coaching again. But at the time, I was traveling a lot and couldn’t really commit to weekly calls.

So my next decision was to, once again, revamp and relaunch my Reels Membership. Since Instagram had just announced that they were going to give more priority to other formats, I thought making it an all-Content Membership would be a great idea.

I already had members inside so it would be easy to get some testimonials for the campaign.

And I launched the IG Content Club. In my opinion, my best product up today because I’m literally providing all sorts of value and resources every single week.

IG Content Club

But, this was the worst launch I ever had. I enrolled 2 new members during the week of the campaign.

More members have come after that since it’s an open membership, but never near as many as the previous times I launched this membership.

And that’s pretty much where I’m at at the minute.

And all I can say is that I’ve enjoyed every single moment.

When I look back today at that moment in the cubicle, I feel grateful for two reasons.

Because that’s when I realized I had to start my journey and also for having the balls to actually start it.

And all the fucking setbacks, roadblocks, and challenges have really been blessings in disguise because they’ve made me not only a better creator-preneur but also a better human!

So, now you might be wondering, what’s next?

Well, you know me well by now and you know I can’t stay still, so I’m working on a new program that’s going to be one-of-its-kind!

My favorite part? It’s a program that will involve a lot of AI components because having gone through the challenge of having to re-structure my business, cut down on expenses and resources, and do everything by myself, again, I wouldn’t have been able to do it, without AI.

I’m really excited to announce that I will be pre-launching this program for an exclusive group of 10 people at 50%, which will help me co-create & shape this program!

If you want to know more, just send me a DM on Instagram!

And if you made it up here, THANK YOU!

It would mean the world if you would like this video & leave a comment saying what was your favorite part or moment of this video!

And see you next week with more social media & monetization talks!


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