How Creators can use SEO to sell

(4 min read) The unique philosophy that helped Nicole Burke build a 7-figure home gardening business. Featuring Kajabi, Manychat, and Attentive.

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This lifestyle Creator refuses brand deals

If a brand came to me with a deal where I knew my audience would love it, where it would be a treat for my audience, I would take it. In fact, I would probably do it for free! But I haven't gotten that yet. 

Nicole Burke is the Creator of Gardenary, a home gardening business. Over the last year, she’s blown up on Instagram in a big way...Yet, she refuses to do brand deals.

Instead, Nicole builds trust with an audience that finds her on social media and via other channels, like SEO, and then sells to them directly. 

Her approach allowed her to build a 7-figure business well before she had 1M followers.

Let’s get into it!

.Sponsored.

Together With

Nicole launched Gardenary on Kajabi back in 2017. By 2020, she hit $500k in revenue from her courses on Kajabi, and crossed $1M in 2021 - well before she crossed 1M followers on any platform. 

Kajabi was this wonderful all-in-one suite for me. 

She’s a big advocate for Creators selling something ASAP:

Sell something as soon as you can…there is nothing that will move you forward in your business more than someone who paid you money to give them a product.

Want to start moving your own business forward? Sign up for a free 30-day trial of Kajabi now:

The Business

.Breakdown.

I know it looks like I have this gigantic audience, but a year ago I had 250,000…it's still possible [to make money] when you're even smaller than 100,000.

Gardenary has done over $1M in annual revenue since 2021, but only blew up on social in 2023. Before that, paid media and SEO drove sales.

SEO is a slept-on customer acquisition strategy for Creators.

With Instagram, you’re just interrupting their scroll, so you have no idea - even if you catch someone and they become a follower - if they actually want what you have. 

With search, these people are literally searching. The intentionality is there and if you can actually be the answer to their question, they are really valuable leads.

The basic approach to SEO is fairly simple:

  1. Identify the search keywords you want to “own”

  2. Create a ton of content about and featuring those keywords

There’s a bunch of nuance, but for those looking to just get started, Nicole has some tips:

  1. Put yourself in your customer mindset - which is frequently “Day One”

85-90% of the people who see your content are you on Day One, but most of us create for ourselves. You have to put yourself back to Day One and make content for that person. That's the sweet spot, both on social and on your website. 

  1. Find out the problems your customers are trying to solve (hint: they’re probably telling them to you)

For the first few years, I didn't see the gold mine that was in the comments. That is your SEO: exactly what they type. 

A huge example for me is that everyone types in…”But what about the deer?” So that is my SEO: “How to build a vegetable garden even if there's deer”.

  1. Pick keywords based on the searches they’d make that align with your offerings.

My thing is growing gardens in raised beds, so “raised beds” became one keyword. I use really beautiful trellises, so for anybody who searches the word “trellis”, I want them to find me. 

With each of those, we have a course that goes with it, and then we have products in our shop that go with them, too. 

You want to prioritize the keywords that you have the most things to sell off of - where there's a lot of income potential for you to own that word on the Internet. 

Sales of physical products (e.g. garden supplies, books) and digital products (e.g. courses, guidebooks) drive Gardenary’s business. 

Most Creators who have organic web traffic or an Instagram following as big as Gardenary’s would also run ads or do sponsored content.

Not Nicole.

If you come to my website and I have you for 30 seconds, I'm not going to blow it on some stupid ad that Google decides they want to pop up on my blog.

While her POV might make it seem like she is anti-marketing, that’s obviously not the case since she is successfully selling a ton of her own products. 

I 100% believe in people buying stuff that helps them. 

She’s very focused on customer experience via her Three Beliefs framework that I wrote about a few weeks ago.

I think any buyer for any company has to be convinced of three things: the seller is authentic, the actual product works well, and they can do it.

Nicole isn’t interested in fast monetization hacks. Ultimately, her strategy comes down to trust.

Sales is trust, plain and simple, and trust takes time. 

Giveaway

Do you want to go to VidCon Anaheim? It’s my favorite convention - I’m hosting 3 panels and maybe some parties as well this year!

We’re giving away 2 Industry passes + $1000 to cover travel and lodging.

The Operation

Nicole employs ten (10) full-time employees and two (2) contractors. She’s got a few tips for Creators thinking about hiring:

Cover your weaknesses

As soon as there's money to cover it, hire for your weaknesses. 

They say a chain is only as strong as its weakest link; if your weaknesses are the weak links in your business, hire to make them stronger as soon as it makes sense.

Overindex on sales and marketing

It will tank you overnight if you're spending loads and loads of money on admin and operations and you don't have the sales and marketing to match it. 

Sales and marketing create revenue, while admin and ops are cost-centers that are necessary to enable revenue. Get the money first, then figure out how to deliver.

The Stack

Nicole’s most valuable tools and partners:

Nicole launched her business in 2017 using Kajabi as an all-in-one solution.

I literally spent as little time online as humanly possible before I started my business. 

Kajabi was this wonderful all-in-one suite for me. I could host my courses there, landing pages, email, everything was there, so it was huge for me. I taught myself almost all of it and did all the tech behind it up until 2019, before I started getting help. 

Today, she still uses Kajabi for the courses and digital products that drive 65% of her business.

Instagram

Since Gardenary initially grew by spending on paid media and SEO, Nicole has a very different perspective on social media than most.

People complain about the algorithm and I'm like, “Can y'all shut up? This is free! Like, free-ninety-nine!” 

All of us can get on here any time we want to and make a video, and the potential is huge. Every month, 15 million people see my videos. And I don't pay a dime for that! 

Manychat is what we use for DM automation. That's how we turn our Instagram followers into people we get to serve to the next level through our email list. It’s life changing - we get hundreds of thousands of email addresses through Manychat. 

Attentive

Attentive is really powerful to convert website visitors to become email subscribers…Manychat and Attentive take Instagram and website attention and then turn it into leads.  

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
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