From a Cleaning Business to a Member Site Empire, with Angela Brown (MNM Season 1 Episode 4)

July 13, 2021

From a Cleaning Business to a Member Site Empire, with Angela Brown

Episode 4, Season 1 – with Angela Brown

Welcome to the fourth episode of The Micro Niche Mastery Podcast.  

Our guest today is Angela Brown from savvycleaner.com, who now owns a member-site empire after selling a 25-year professional house cleaning business. 

  • Angela looked back to the reason why she sold her business in 2015
  • Angela learned how to start a business and a Youtube channel by watching Youtube videos
  • According to Angela, the quickest and fastest marketing for her was through a YouTube channel
  • Angela worked on her YouTube and podcast at the same time and was answering the 50 questions that people would ask a startup business
  • Angela mentioned their three original pieces of content – blog, podcast, and a YouTube show
  • Angela shared how important email marketing is for her
  • Angela explained how t-shirts helped her nurture her email list
  • Angela described the process of creating the core content of her business
  • Angela’s number one money-making service or product was revealed
  • Angela narrated how she developed a mobile application
  • According to Angela, “The more specific you are, the easier it is for people to recommend”
  • Angela shared the secret on how to stay in business. Listen to learn more 


Click Below to see the full transcript of this episode

Open Transcript

Welcome to the micro niche mastery podcast, where we help you establish yourself in the perfect micro niche. So you will get noticed and grow your business faster. And now your host, he runs six businesses and all of them include a podcast in their growth strategy, Ziv Raviv


Hello, and welcome to the micro niche mastery podcast. I am here excited to share with you the story of Angela Brown from savvycleaner.com. After 25 years of professional house cleaning as a business and she decided in 2015 to sell her business and start an online venture into YouTube and podcast, she was able to find an audience, create an audience, and also create a successful online courses business in the membership site, and even a t-shirt a funny cleaning t-shirt business. So let’s hear all about it. Hello, Angela.



Well, hello there. And thank you so much for having me today. I’m super excited to be on your show.



Thank you so much. And you’ll now in North Carolina when we’re doing this interview in your home. And can you tell us a little bit about the moments that might’ve been, not an easy decision to sell your business in 2015?



Yes. Thank you. I was a professional house cleaner for 25 years and we had one of the largest independently owned cleaning companies in north and South Carolina. And we had a troubled teenager that came to live with us in the summer of 2015. And it was a pivotal moment for us because she was destructive and suicidal and violent. And I couldn’t let her around anyone because she would assault them. And I couldn’t take her to customers’ homes because she would steal from them. So I had literally 24 7 care in order to help her save her life. And so I had to stay at home and my business was out and about in the service in the field. And so I had to decide, what do I know that I can work from home? And that became well, what God gave me and what’s in front of me is that I know how to clean.


And so I can create a training course on how to clean and I can sell that online. The only problem was I’d never really spent any time online. I was just learning how to type. I didn’t have any social media accounts. I didn’t know how the internet worked. I just kind of hoped it would all go away. And when it didn’t, I decided to embrace it. So I sold my business in 2015 and I ventured into the online space and I started learning as much as I could, as fast as I could from YouTube videos on how to start a business, how to grow a YouTube business, how to start a YouTube channel. And I realized that to get out to my audience, the quickest, fastest marketing for me was going to be able to create a YouTube channel. And I’d never anything like that before.


And so it wasn’t just let me learn the internet, but it’s like now I’ve got to learn how to make a video. And I’ve got to learn how to edit the video. And I’ve got to learn how to upload the video. Oh, what’s this thing called SEO. And there’s all this stuff to learn. It was one of the most challenging, interesting and innovative times of my life.



Did you start with the podcast as well immediately? Or did you take some time before you started that?



That’s a great question. My philosophy has always been work smart, not hard. And so I started thinking to myself before I ever started a YouTube show or a podcast. What does this look like? Five years down the road in five years? Will I wish I would have started a podcast in five years? Will I wish I would have started the YouTube show in which comes first?


Is it possible that I could do them both simultaneously? And because I didn’t have any skills in either market, I’m learning them both at the same time. I said, well, I’ll teach myself them both at the same time. So from day one, I decided that I would do the podcast first, but I would record in front of a camera because at first I was just a talking head show and my philosophy is do what you can, where you are. And at the time I was one person, I was the director, the creator, the producer, the talent, the editor, the everything. And so what can I do? And what I can do is I can stand in one spot in front of a camera with lights and I can, I can answer questions. And so if you were going to jump into the house cleaning business, what questions would you ask?


And I sat down and I wrote about 50 questions that people would ask a startup business. Then what I did is I dedicated one show to each answer. So my shows are short, they’re five to eight minutes each, but that is the perfect time. If a house cleaner is driving from their home to a job in the morning to listen to a little bit of motivation for cleaning for the day. So that was my audience. That was my goal because my show is for cleaning business owners. So to answer your question, I started out from day one with both a podcast and a YouTube show. So I clip a microphone on my lapel. I stand in front of the camera and I recorded the show. Then what I’ve done is I’ve edited the audio version and that goes to become the podcast. Then it snaps together with the video and it goes to YouTube to become a YouTube show.


Then once it goes to YouTube, we send it off to rev and they do transcriptions word verbatim of the show itself. Then we take that and I send it now to an editor in the beginning. I did it all myself, but I now have help. I send it to an editor and they create a blog out of it. So every day we have three original pieces of content, which is a blog, a podcast, and a YouTube show. And so people can watch or listen. However they want. The cool thing is that we link them all together for search engine optimization. And so it took me 39 days to really figure out the search engine optimization of it. And then we’ve been number one, two and three for the search engine terms of the day ever since day 39 on our podcast. And we’re now 1,130 episodes in God.


I wasn’t sure if you meant every day. And I realized it like really half a day and like, oh my God, that is a lot of content and very, very impressive story of like how you repurpose or like yeah. Generate multiple pieces of content, which is so important. I’m dying to ask you about the business side of things. But before we go there, tell me about your email list and how it grew during those years.


So I knew that email marketing was going to be really important for me. And for this reason, at the time that I jumped into the online space, everybody was changing their rules a lot. And so I realized that no matter who changes, what rules I need to have a website and I need to have email that way. It’s my playground. And I can send everything out from my hub.

And then all the social media that we do can come back to my hub, but I need a hub of my own. And so we hooked up an automated email marketing program, and I had no idea how it worked. It wasn’t until about a year end of the business, where I started having a little bit more breathing room when I started to hire some people. And I started to outsource some stuff that I looked at my email marketing and I had a 200,000 people on an email list. And then I was like, who are all these people? And where did they come from? And every time we produced something like 10 tips for this or five tips for this in the podcast, we’d often say, Hey, there’s a freebie in the notes below. And so check it out. People would click on it. And then it would send them to this thing where they could download either a worksheet or a checklist or some, a flyer or something like that for their business.


So we ended up building this huge email list, and I hate to say this I’m so embarrassed, but in the beginning I had, I had no newsletter to send to them. I had no way to really follow up with that. And so I was like, oh, there’s another piece of software I have to learn. And so I had to dig in and I had to figure out how you do broadcasts and sequences and all that kind of stuff. But my philosophy is this. You have to nurture the email list that you have. And so right now you’d mentioned earlier that we sell t-shirts. We do resell funny cleaning shirts @funnycleaningshirts.com. But the cool thing is we only announce a winner. We give away a free t-shirt every single day. We only announced the winner inside the email. So we’ve trained people now every day to open up their email and say, did I win?


And so every day they’re in front of us every single day. And at the bottom of the email, we’re not selling anything nothing’s for sale at the bottom of the email. There’s one link that says new stuff, that’s happening this week at savvy cleaner, which is our other business. And when people click on that, then they’re led over to our courses and the other things that we have for sale. So it’s not a heavy sales pitch at all. It’s this fun, oh, Hey, here’s the funny cleaning shirt of the day. The people will just click on it just for inspiration. And they’re like, oh, I’d like to win that. Or I’d like to win that for my cleaning lady. And so that is our email nurture. But if people are not opening your email, you do not have an email list. You have a collection of data that is useless.


You got to get people to click every single day or frequently so that they remember you and you can stay in front of them.



This is the, just, uh, so good to hear you say that. So tell me a little bit about how you’ve developed the business side of this. Cause what you do create takes a lot of time to build up, to create all this content, but I’m sure that you got to really better in the process. So that now, like nowadays, how long does it take to produce the core content?



 Well, I’m still in the business full-time and I say in the business full-time because right now we’ve hired in the last few years, as I could afford to hire people. And we’ve monetized the YouTube show 14 different ways. And so as we’ve been able to monetize the show, I’ve been able to hire more people.


And so I’m still in the business. Hands-on because every single thing that I do, I ask myself this question, am I the best person for this job? And the answer is often like, no, not at all. So then how quickly can I learn this job so that I can put together a little package of what this job is and then I can outsource it to someone else. And so I have lots of packets and my packets are now up on the website. And if you’ve been invited to be part of our team, there’s a website where you can go and you can pick up a packet and the packet will say something like here’s a project of, and I’m just throwing this out there. 20 graphic images that we will use for a Facebook group that say something like, Hey, welcome to our group. You’re going to make 20 of those graphic images for me underneath that.


It says level of importance on a scale of one to 10, how important is this project? Is this a number 10 projects? Like our YouTube shows that go live every day. That’s a number 10 project that has a deadline to it, a graphic image for a welcome message for YouTube or a Facebook group that might be a number five or a number three. And so if you do it today, that’s great, but I’m not going to lose sleep over it. If you don’t get to it today. And so people will jump in and they will pick their packages based on, you know, are they going to be able to turn it in today or do they need a couple of days lead time or whatever. And then I say, this is the process that you will need. And so, and these are all independent contractors that we will outsource them to, but it will say you’ll need Photoshop or Canva or PicMonkey or something like that.


And we specify what you’re going to need a computer, internet access, a Dropbox folder, or a Google drive folder. And then people look at it and they’ll say, oh yes, I have all of these tools. Okay, great. I’d be good for this project. I have this set of skills. And so once they’ve determined that they’re a good fit for that, then I always put my price. The price is negotiable. If somebody wants to negotiate it, but we, we dish out a lot of this stuff to fiber, for example. And so once I’ve put together my package, I’m a hundred percent clear what I’m looking for. And now I’m a hundred percent clear of what it looks like when it comes back to me. And there’s always a deadline. Like we do all of our payroll for independent contractors and employees Sunday night at 6:00 PM. So if your project is turned into me Sunday night by 6:00 PM, then you get paid.


And if you don’t, you have to wait til the following week. And so that way we’re not cutting checks all during the week, randomly spinning our wheels, doing crazy stuff. Everything’s on a really tight system.



So with what the actual contents, the daily podcast, how long does it take for you to actually record?

It really depends on the type of show. It usually takes anywhere from, I don’t know, maybe about a half hour to record a five to eight minute show and that’s to pull together the questions and the content that I have, and to make sure that the lights are set up right. And that I recorded it properly. And then as soon as I record it, it goes to processing where I do a couple of presets and I set it up a certain way. And then I pass it off to one of our editors.


Then when, and we use a Google keep file, which keeps everything in line. And it has a list, a checklist of all these different things that need to be done once that editor is done, she’ll send it back to me through Dropbox folder. And so I’m going to check in later on in the day after it’s been edited, and then I’m going to check off that she’s done and make sure that that goes in her list for being paid. Like I approved that she did this show and then it goes off to our podcast editor. Who’s going to make sure that the podcast is up and running. And then the blog editor, that’s going to make sure the blog has done. And then also somebody uploads it to YouTube and does all the SEO and everything on that as well. So there are several stops along the way.


And so to say, it takes all of a half hour. That’s really not true because I’m in and out of the show four or five times a day, the problem is, and this is where it gets tricky for me, we’re working on 15 to 20 shows at a time. So we’re a couple of weeks out working in advance. So at any given day, I will jump in and out of like 20 different shows. And so if I walk away right now, I cannot tell you for the life of me, what should I do is came off. Even if I just watched it, I can’t tell you.


Wow. So you have this like very old machine by now of how to produce a daily show that is successful. The tail gets a lot of people’s attention, and then there’s also a business to add money to make. Uh, so what is your number one moneymaking service or product?



So our number one moneymaker are the courses that we’ve created and the courses are on how to start your house cleaning business, but it’s a membership. And so we have people that join the membership and it’s, we have two memberships, we have one for employees and one for employers. And so if you’re just getting started in the cleaning business, you’ll probably go through the business one because it teaches you how to set up a business and how to set up your LLC and trademark your logo and all those kinds of things. And then also on the training side, it’s going to teach you the training end of it, as well, which is training and certification, which are like chemical safety and personal protective equipment and all that kind of stuff that you need to know as a house cleaner.


And then when you start hiring people, you are busy as an entrepreneur. You don’t have time to stop and train them. So then you bring your train, your employees through the training program, where they learn about chemical safety and how to wash your equipment between jobs and stuff like that. And so it’s a really great program, but that’s where we make the bulk of our money is from the recurring subscription of our membership site.



And do you offer anything like coaching or group coaching or anything of that sort



Part of our membership? We have, we started out calling it group coaching and we just switched a couple of weeks over and now we call it group mastermind. And the mastermind concept is a little bit from just group coaching in the group coaching. It was just me answering questions, but what we’ve determined and decided was that collectively we’re smarter as a group.


And so as a mastermind group, we let other members jump in and say, well, I tried this and here’s what worked for me. And someone else will jump in and say, I tried that and I liked it, but I tweaked one thing and it worked for me better. And we use the Toastmaster system where we have timing lights. So you have one to two and a half minutes to give your answer and then you’re cut off and it’s the next person. So that works.



That’s interesting. So tell me more about the, like the t-shirt business. Like where did that come from and is it like a money-making business for you?



I’m, I’m glad you asked that question. And the answer is no, it’s not a big money maker for us at all. We sell 40 to 70 t-shirts a day and that’s not a lot of money compared to how much money we’re spending to keep it afloat.

And so it’s completely a marketing expense for me right now. And I’m taking it out of my marketing budget for here’s, how it started when we got onto YouTube, somebody came to us and said, would you like your own, your own clothing line? And I said, no, that is not part of our business model. And I think it’s really important in any micro niche to know exactly what you offer and what you don’t. And what we don’t do is we do not warehouse inventory or ship products. We do not warehouse inventory or ship anything. We’re just not equipped to do it. It’s not part of our future. We’re not doing it. So they asked me for a clothing line and I could just see boxes of stuff in my garage. I’m like, no, we’re not, no. And so, uh, somebody came to me a few months later and they said, what if we did print on demand where you gave to us the graphics?


And we did all the printing, the fulfillment, the shipping, we took the orders. We did the customer service and the returns. And I said, whoa, tell me more. And so I got really interested in the print on demand concept. Well, we jumped in and did that for about six months and we didn’t really make any money at it. We didn’t really know how the t-shirt business works or how online commerce works or any of that stuff. And then during COVID, we had a lot of our people take off and go home because their kids were now at home. And so I had a graphic designer that said, do you have any extra work for me that I can do at home? And I said, do you wanna make some t-shirt graphics? And we both kind of jumped into learn the t-shirt business at that time, what we decided was if we were going to embrace it, we had to really embrace it full on.


And so what does that mean? So I started taking online courses on how do you grow a t-shirt business? And what does that mean? And how do you get on Amazon and how do you sell your stuff worldwide? And how do you ship it worldwide? If the, if the airlines are not going to other places like you got shipping issues. And so what we discovered really quickly is you can’t sell a product. Nobody knows about. So we decided, because here’s the thing. When you have a course, it’s really hard every day to head up an audience every single day, to try to sell them a course, Hey, buy my course, buy my course, buy my course. So after a couple of days, they’re going to get sick of you. And so we had to figure out a way what’s creative, innovative, and fun, where people will open our emails every day.


We’re like the t-shirt business let’s let’s sell t-shirts. So in order to get to the next level of Amazon, Amazon has all these weird rules. You have to sell so many shirts that, you know, you have to sell so many, like they’ll give you 10 shirts. You got to sell 10 different varieties or 10 different designs before you can get to the 25. And you’ve got to sell 25 of the designs in order to get it to a hundred. And they have this weird tear process. So we decided in order to get through the tiers, we would buy our own shirts to qualify for that next tier. And so what happened was we decided to give away that one shirt that we bought every day. And so we made the announcement every day. Here’s a new shirt, which meant we had to create a new shirt every day.


So every single day we’ve come out with now 575 designs since it’s COVID of last year. And these are all original. One of a kinds of t-shirts that are funny cleaning shirts for house cleaning. So then what happened is we gave a shirt away. We would make the announcement. And like I said, at the bottom, there’s one link that will link people back over to our courses. And so that is the marketing for our course. What is so weird is this though, I cannot tell you how many people have one or a free t-shirt, but then suddenly, and mysteriously show up in our courses, they weren’t members. They were not part of our email list before they this an ad or something for a t-shirt. And we are running Facebook ads right now for the t-shirts. And then when people sign up mysteriously, then they joined and our membership is not expensive.


It’s like 64 95 a month, but we’ll do the math on this. You give someone a free t-shirt one time and they join a recurring membership as $65 a month. And they pay over and over and over and over again, the math works out on that all day, right? That’s a really good way to do that. So it’s, it was just an innovative way for us to experience creativity. And one of the things that was kind of a sidebar that we didn’t pay a lot of attention to, but when you’re creating a t-shirt every day, you’re really juicing up your creativity. You get really creative every fast every day. And then you start thinking in terms of comedy, like, Aw, that’s so funny. That should be on a t-shirt. So it’s boosted our creativity. It’s boosted our humor. It’s really forced us to learn our email marketing program.


It’s forced us to learn Facebook ads. So every element of your business is going to teach you a new set of skills that no matter where you go, or how you pivot in your business, you’re going to use those to build your business, you know, in another area, what I recommend it. Yeah, absolutely. It’s one of the funnest things we’ve ever done, and we’ve built a lot of Goodwill as a result of it. We’ve had lots and lots of people wearing our brand shirts. Now out in the market.



Speaking of Goodwill, you have recently tell me a little bit about that.




Well, the mobile app came as an accident. I do a lot of quality control, and so I had an appointment and I was sitting out in my car waiting to be called in so that they don’t let you inside the waiting rooms.


Now, still because of COVID. And I was sitting there taking one of my courses on my smartphone. And every time I tried to log in, we have lots of resources. I click on a resource and it would bump me out of the program. And so then I would log back in, but I had to type in the URL and then I had to type in my email and then I had to type in the password. And then I was back inside the course and I had to sort through and open up the course and okay, now I’m back in. And then I would click on a few things and I clicked on a reference just to see if it worked, because again, I’m doing quality control. And as I clicked on it, it would bump me out of the program again. And then it happened like 20 times.

I was so mad at my company. It was me. It was, of course I created, and this is my company. And I’m sitting here just dumbfounded. And I said, nobody told me what a bad user experience. This is really bad. So before the day was out, I contacted the company and I said, can you teach me how to make an app? I need an app like yesterday, already one click. I needed to be back where I left off in that program. So if you click on the resource and a bumps, you about one click you’re back where you right where you started. And so there was a company that said, yes, we can help you. And so I created this little app and then with the app, you get to decide, what else are you going to add onto that app? Okay. So we have a little bit about our course.


You can join. If you didn’t know about it, there’s a place where you can register for your free t-shirt of the day. There’s a place called new stuff where you can read our newsletter of the week. And our newsletter is like a wall of fame. Now highlights all of the members of our courses that have taken the courses that week. And I like that for the reason that we have lots of people that call me and they want to know who they can hire for house cleaning that have been through my courses. And so I say, well, here’s a list right now. You can just download the app and then every week check. And so we made it available on Android and iOS. So now in 175 countries, literally overnight, our app went live. And then all of a sudden, a bunch of people started joining our courses like 16, more people a day have been joining our courses since the app came out and I’m sitting here going well, that’s money in the bank.


So inspiring you, just so many things, right? And you started everything by choosing a very, very clear Micro niche. Did you ever come, uh, come up to you like the idea of back then pivoting into the online business, but doing it in a, not about the cleaning business. Did you ever consider something else?



Well, yes and no. The riches are in the niches, as they say. And it’s really important to know what it is you offer, because if you don’t know what you offer, you can’t sell it and no one can buy it because who knows what they’re buying? Oh yeah. There’s this really nice guy. And you sell some stuff. And I think I’ll take a course from him. I’m not real sure what it’s about. You can’t recommend it, but if it’s narrow and you say, oh, it’s house housecleaning training people like, oh, house cleaning, training.


Well, my house cleaner needs that, or I need that because I would like to clean my house better. And then they recommend it to their friends. What is it? It’s house cleaning, training. The more specific you are, the easier it is for people to recommend. And so did I ever think of doing something else? Yes. Every single day I get about 20 pitches from other places and other people, can we partner together? Will you sell my stuff? Will you market this? Would you like this business venture? And I have to be really clear about, is this part of the bigger package when I said yes to the t-shirt industry. It’s because I saw this as an opportunity house cleaners wear t-shirts okay. We clean houses wearing t-shirts. If there’s a funny cleaning saying, here’s how you can use this to market your business. When you’re standing in line at a grocery store and you’re wearing a funny cleaning shirt that says, beware of dishes, somebody is going to go, ha that’s so funny.



Do you hate dishes? And they can say, I do. I’m a house cleaner. And I hate when I go into someone’s house and the kitchen is full of dishes, right? It starts a conversation. So there are natural conversation starters. And I saw that as a perfect segue into my business. So if they would have said, can we create something where we’re selling fancy dress shoes? That’s not in alignment with my business. And so every single day, you have to make sure that what you’re saying yes to is worthy of your time and your effort and your resources. And does it fit in with the existing audience that you have? Because if the answer is no, then pass on it, pass on it. You can always come back to it, but pass on it because you only have a limited amount of time, energy, and money, and you don’t want to spend any focus that does not exactly speak to that same audience.


And so every single thing we do, and we were a year and a half into the business, when the Airbnb industry just smacked us upside the head, like we were standing still, they’re like, we don’t do deep cleans. And we don’t do bi-weekly cleanings weekly and three and four times a week. When we flip our properties, what do you have for us? And I was like, and I realized we were perfectly positioned for something, but we didn’t have anything in place, but that was a perfect opportunity. Where can we pivot just a little bit, we can pivot. And what we’ll do is this. We will introduce every Wednesday, we will have an Airbnb show on our YouTube show and we will cater to that audience. And we’ll set up a private Facebook group for the Airbnb industry, because yes, it is cleaning. And we have a lot of regular house cleaners that also do Airbnb cleanings.


It wasn’t something completely different, but it was about the cleaning for the Airbnb space. And to say that we’re in a niche market every single day, I get asked janitorial and commercial cleaning questions. And every single day I turn them away. That is not our specialty. That is not what we do. I love you for trying it. Here’s my buddy. She’s been in the commercial industry for 30 years. Go say hi to him. Okay. That’s not who we are. And so you have to be willing to say, no, that’s how you stay in business.



And that’s how you go micro, Angela Brown from savvycleaner.com and funnlycleaningshirts.com. Did I say to clean.com? Oh man. Just, I highly recommend people go to savvycleaner.com, just check it out and realize the depth of what you do. And just, if you just reverse engineer and deconstruct and just be as productive as Angela Brown, you will also be noticed in your micro niche and we’ll be able to go business. Thank you so much for this inspiration moment and Angela and I hope you all the best.



Thank you so much. Thanks for having me. This was awesome.


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