Maya Elious is a personal branding strategist who teaches experts how to create content to grow and monetize their online brands. She’s helped hundreds of students and clients launch digital content platforms such as blogs, challenges, master classes, webinars, and courses. As a first generation American who dropped out of college to break free from the mold, she believes in the power of pursuing your purpose despite the naysayers. She enjoys encouraging women to use their voices to share their messages in the form of online content to reach more people.


In This Episode

In this episode of Modern Ontrapreneur, Landon Ray chats with personal branding strategist Maya Elious about how to view content as a way to converse with your audience, why you should use “the beer test” when choosing clients, and why it’s crucial to care wholeheartedly about your leads.

Topic Timeline:

1:08 Don’t Work With Jerks

Be more particular who you work with and use “the beer test.” Work with clients who you’d want to socialize with.

3:25 It’s All About “The Story”

Maya’s unique story is what makes her stand out.

4:56 Consistent Content Creation

Make your content be a consistent conversation with your audience.

6:54 PilotPress

Continuing to grow online membership knowledge.

7:40 Permission to Use Your Voice

Maya hopes to be the encouraging force who drives change in people’s lives.

9:24 Give a Damn

If all you think about is the size of your list or the money you are getting, you will fail.

If your heart isn’t in it to help other people, I feel like you’re either going to fail or you’re going to burn out.

– Maya Elious

Show Transcript:

LR: Welcome to Modern Ontrapreneur, I’m Landon Ray and today I have Maya Elious. Maya is a personal branding strategist who teaches experts how to create content to grow and monetize their online brands. She’s helped hundreds of students and clients launch digital content platforms such as blogs, challenges, master classes, webinars, courses. As a first generation American who dropped out of college to break free from the mold, she believes in the power of pursuing your purpose despite the naysayers. She enjoys encouraging women to use their voices to share their messages in the form of online content in order to reach more people. Thank you so much for being here, Maya.

ME: Thank you so much for having me.

LR: Yeah. How long you been at it?

ME: Well, I started making money online back in like 2008. And, then I’ve been teaching and coaching full time technically since 2013-ish.

LR: Yeah, so a while. So, if you could go back to 2008 or ’07 and, you know, have your current self give your younger self a tip about how to make your experience easier, what would it be?

ME: Don’t work with jerks. Be really particular about who you want giving you money. Because, I think starting out we’re just so excited that people actually want to pay us. But, it’s like, there’s nice people that will pay us, too. And, there’s people that you actually can make a connection with that will pay you as well.

LR: Yeah. Sounds like you had a couple of rough experiences.

ME: Yeah, because I started out as a graphic designer. So, I think in service-based businesses, working with people so closely things can get kind of personal, things can get kind of touchy. So, I think it’s always really important to work with people that you actually like and actually have a connection with.

LR: How do you figure that out before you’ve gotten into business with them?

ME: Well, I’m finding that now that I know how to target the right people, I’m working with people that I would actually hang out with in a personal setting. And, I’m hanging out with people that have similar values as I do, they like the same jokes that I like, they watch the same TV shows. So, kind of just thinking about would I actually hang out with person if they weren’t paying me?

LR: Yeah. That’s interesting. When we have a, I don’t think it’s like a formal thing, but we learn from Vishen Lakhiani at Mindvalley, one of the criteria that he has in his hiring process is whether or not they pass the beer test, which is basically the same thing. Would you want to go out and have a beer with these people? Or, would you not? It’s interesting to think about the risks that may be involved in having a homogenous sort of culture. But, then on the other hand, you’ve got to go to work every day. And, you spend half your waking lives there. And, dealing with people that you enjoy. And, I think a lot of us think about that too in terms of our employees. But, you’re talking about having a beer test with your clients.

ME: I like the beer test idea because I use that same analogy technically with the people that I do hire and the people that are on my team. But, it’s just like my team has to work with these people, too. And, I don’t want my team working with assholes. I think it’s just definitely important that there’s a culture standard with your team. But, there’s also a culture standard with your clients.

LR: Yeah. So, what is your unique skill set?

ME: For me personally, I think when people are like, “How do I make myself stand out? How do I make myself unique?” I really just think it’s story. There’s a million personal branding strategists. There’s a million people that teach what I teach. But, I think people connect with me specifically based on how I started, what my story is, I connect with a lot of women that were too scared to leave their job, or too scared to quit college, or too scared to do something because of their parents. Because, that’s part of my story. Being a business coach I don’t really think is that unique to be quite honest. I think I am unique because of my story.

LR: That’s an interesting perspective. Most of us imagine that we’ve got to have some kind of superpower in order to be successful, to kind of stand out. But, what you’re saying is that as long as you’re providing value, you know in your case as a coach, that today we have the opportunity to stand out simply because there’s a crowd of people that will resonate with who we are.

ME: Right.

LR: And, so, then it becomes about making sure you get that across in some way.

ME: Yeah. I think that’s why personal branding is so important. Because, our industries are so saturated. It pretty much doesn’t matter what you do; your industry is basically going to be saturated. Especially when it comes to marketing and online business. And, so, building your personal brand, it allows people to get to know you beyond your skill set. Because people hire me, yes, for strategy and coaching and stuff like that, but they make the decision to pay me because of who I am.

LR: Yeah. So, what’s working right now to grow your business? To grow your personal brand? To attract customers?

ME: Yeah, I think what’s working is the consistent content creation. Oh, and I was just doing a talk and saying that it’s not just about putting out content but thinking about content as having a consistent conversation with people that you want to build relationships with. And, having a consistent conversation with people that you eventually want to pay you. So, I think what’s working is that I’m always thinking about my audience and how I can serve them. Whether it’s through free content or it’s through the products and services that I’m selling.

LR: So, how do you come up with new ideas that are going to be interesting to your audience on a really regular basis?

ME: I think it’s just about being intentional about actually having conversations with your audience, right? So, it’s like people want their audience to like them, but they don’t actually have the conversations with their audience. They’re like, “I want engagement.” But, it’s like, “But do you even talk to your audience? Do you ask them what they want?” So, I think that’s really important. And, then, also just having outside conversations with people, telling people what you do. And, then, asking them what areas they’re struggling with or what they would be interested in learning about what you do. That’s where content derives from.

LR: So, what does it look like to have a conversation with an audience. Because, I usually have a conversation with a person. What do you mean have a conversation with an audience?

ME: So, I think when I say have a conversation with an audience, I think about my overall general following online. Like my Facebook groups or like my Instagram following. And, I’ll post something, I’ll pose a question, and then people will come in and give me a response. And, then, that helps me think, “Oh, people are struggling with this.” Or, “People are curious about this.” So, then, I’ll create content based on what people are telling me that they’re struggling with. Or, what they’re excited about.

LR: Yeah. So, it’s just staying engaged, not guessing. It’s just more about asking.

ME: Exactly. I don’t think there’s a need to guess especially when you have a group of people that are willing to just tell you what they want from you.

LR: Yeah. So, what are you learning right now? What’s kind of like the cutting edge, the next thing that you’re struggling with that you’re trying to figure out.

ME: Yeah, I think what I’m excited to learn about next is using PilotPress actually.

LR: Oh, wow.

ME: So, I just switched from a different platform to PilotPress to transfer my members. So, I’m just trying to learn how to continue growing my online membership. And, really how to use partner programs as well. So, that way I can get some affiliates to help me grow the online membership.

LR: Awesome. So, technology, you’re like get in there and deal with it yourself.

ME: Sometimes I do. I like the tech nerdy stuff. I think it’s really fun. Especially because I did start off as a web and graphic designer. So, that stuff is really fun to me. But, then, I also do have somebody that enjoys that, too, on my team that can help me every once in a while.

LR: Yeah. Awesome. So, when you think about, you know, we talked about going back in time, but what about going forward in time and looking back. What would you like your legacy to be? What would you like to be remembered for?

ME: I would like to be remembered for pretty much just giving people permission to use their voice. I think sometimes we’re just looking for somebody to be like, “You can do it. It’s okay. You can share your message with the world.” And I want to be that person that’s like, “Maya really encouraged me to move forward with my purpose.” Or “Maya really encouraged me to do that talk or to put out that online course or to really just push forward with what I believe in.”

LR: And, then, so what does Maya say when that person musters up the courage to use their voice and spends all the time that they spend to write that first blog post, or to practice that first talk, and then they post it and they get zero comments. Or, they go do the talk and people are like, “Oh, that was really nice.” And, the feedback isn’t what they hoped it would be. What does Maya say to encourage them to try again?

ME: I usually encourage people to make the first step. And, then, after they make the first step, it kind of switches into discipline mode. You can’t just do this once and think you’re going to get all of the results, right? You have to continue doing this. So, I think that’s the most important thing that people need to know. If you’re really serious about what you’re doing, you’re going to push beyond step one.

LR: You’ve either got to persevere through these kind of setbacks, or this learning process, or you’re just not in the game.

ME: Yeah. You’re not in the game.

LR: A little bit of tough love from Maya.

ME: Yeah, you gotta be willing to take a hit. If three people read your blog post, then promote it more and write another blog post.

LR: Yeah. Good. So, we live in this unique time where people can blog. And, they can do a million and one other things that they couldn’t do just a few years ago. We’ve called this thing Modern Ontrapreneur to try and get at what it means to be an entrepreneur in this unique moment. What do you feel the opportunities are today and the responsibilities for entrepreneurs today?

ME: I think the responsibility is, of course, just thinking about who you want to serve. And, I think that’s kind of getting lost in translation. People are so focused on like, “Okay, I have to do a webinar.” Or “I have to do a Facebook ad.” They’re so focused on what strategy’s going to work best and make me the most money. And, of course, that’s really important, but a lot of people have just lost focus on who am I really here to serve? Why did I decide to start this business? So, if your main focus is just getting the most people on your email list and making the most money, I think you’re going to burn out pretty quickly. Because, results don’t just happen instantaneously. So, if your heart isn’t in it to help other people, I feel like you’re either going to fail or you’re going to burn out.

LR: Yeah. So, really it’s a foundation of giving a damn about what you’re doing. And, that’s the thing that gets you through the three readers on your blog post, right?

ME: Exactly. Yep.

LR: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for being here, it’s been a real pleasure.

ME: Yeah, thank you so much for having me.

LR: Will you sign our wall?

ME: Yeah, absolutely.

LR: Awesome


Want more Modern Ontrapreneur Podcast?

Check out the previous episode featuring Andrew Warner of Mixergy.



About Ben Cogburn
As Ontraport’s Traffic Manager, Ben Cogburn spends most of his time in our parking lot. Just kidding, he’s our resident digital advertising guru. As a geology enthusiast, Ben graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in Environmental Studies. So to say that he likes rocks is an understatement. You can find Ben hanging out with his rock collection, playing video games or hunting down new figurines to add to the impressive display he has on his desk.