3 strategies to get to 7 figures

(4 min read) How Zac Perna’s philosophy of pursuing connection over perfection lands him millions in annual revenue. Featuring MacroActive, ClickFunnels, and Newie.

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He earns 7 figures by being different

You cannot make money if you're just being a carbon copy of the next person. 

Zac Perna, by my math, makes around $200,000 a month creating fitness content for 1.8M fans across YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook. That’s more dollars per year than he has followers. 

Today, we’ll talk about the 3 strategies that got him here, the challenges of doing too much, and the funnel he uses to drive his lucrative membership business.

Let’s get into it!

But first, we have a sponsor:

.Sponsored.

Further down, Zac talks about how he needs to outsource more…so it’s very appropriate that our sponsor this issue is Upwork!

My Creator Partnerships group at Patreon had a secret team. They weren’t Patreon employees, but they did the heavy lifting for our Creator outreach campaigns - finding Creators, compiling analytics, and vetting the content. This group of helpful humans people were our contractors from Upwork - a marketplace for independent freelance professionals. 

Using Upwork, we were able to find the right freelancers for the right jobs and scale our team up and down as needed. Many Creators, small-business owners, and startup execs use it the same way, to outsource the tasks and projects that would be better handled by someone else.

If you’re a Creator monetizing by offering services, you should sign up as a freelancer, flex your social metrics in your bio, and add screenshots of your best content to your portfolio to attract great opportunities that get you paid.

Whether you’re looking for expert help or offering your well-honed skills to potential clients - give Upwork a try!

The Business

Zac’s audience is fairly well-distributed, with no platform following over 1 million…and yet, he’s making millions.

Even though YouTube is his biggest audience, Instagram has the biggest impact on Zac’s revenue by far. My guess as to why is that fitness is an especially aesthetic category.

Zac has five (5) significant sources of earnings - a personal training membership app, brand deals, coaching other coaches, platform revshare, and his book.

The membership app represents about 50% of his income, and generates over $100,000 per month. He’s gone as high as $126,000 in his best month.

If you do the math ($100k+ per month from the app represents just 50% of his revenue), that puts his total revenue well over $2.4M per year - without a single platform having an audience over 1 million.

But how?

Start small

I didn't know where to start, so I just got a spreadsheet, wrote some plans, emailed people, and just tried to get my following - which was a couple thousand at that point - to at least pay something like a hundred dollars for a plan. 

Zac initially built his business manually. He didn’t launch with a fancy app, he launched with spreadsheets, PDF, and email - he “bootstrapped” it, running lean and using the resources he had to build his business by hand.

As he signed more and more clients, eventually he hit capacity. That’s when he decided to invest in infrastructure to sign more clients - i.e. the app.

I did enough business to where I could actually think, “Oh, this could be a thing…” but I couldn't write workout plans for 8 hours a day. I had to level up to scale it, and that's when I actually built the app, legitimized it, and found that that was the winning product.

There’s no shame in starting small - in fact, it’s the best way to learn about your customers’ needs and establish a quality offering.

Speed over polish

I can go in, shoot a video, send it off, and it's in the app in an hour.

Zac’s app has hundreds of videos showing different instructional content to different subscribers depending on their unique body types, nutrition needs, and fitness goals. 

Still, he’s constantly adding more as subscribers ask for additional content to meet their unique fitness needs and questions. 

He believes it’s more important to get them solutions quickly than to make those solutions look and feel perfect.

Sometimes my staff will go, “We need this exercise that you wrote.” And I'll go that day and shoot it because I don't need it to be perfect…I’d much rather have flexibility and agility over the perfect white background - people are not going to care, they just want to know how to do it. 

Zig when others zag

Nowadays you can find millions of hours of watch time of fitness creators and you won't know a thing about them, because they're all just carbon copies of the same thing. You cannot make money if you're just being a carbon copy of the next person. 

Zac feels strongly that the content templates and trending topics so many Creators gravitate towards - and that, frankly, drive so much audience growth on platforms like TikTok - are wrong for Creators looking to build real businesses.

The money comes from you connecting and building an audience that actually goes, “I like this person. I trust them.” That's where you can monetize it. Beyond that, you're just chasing ego metrics. 

The Operation

Zac has a team that handles the technology side of his app, and he hires an editor for some of his videos, but he mostly handles everything himself. 

I run my own ads, I manage the funnel and the process of setting it all up, I do my email marketing…I edit a lot of my own video, and I film my own content as well.

I probably do a little bit too much.

I asked how he finds time for all that…

I don't. That's why I struggle a little bit.

Outsource, people, outsource!

I would probably do more content but actually have it outsourced, so somebody controls that - then I would use my time for growth and strategy.

Speaking of outsourcing…

.Sponsored.

This seems like a good time to remind you that Upwork is our sponsor for this issue. If you’re looking for freelance help with tasks that you’re either not great at or take up too much time, check them out.

And if you’re looking to sell your skills and services to clients yourself, sign up as a Freelancer!

The Stack

Zac’s most valuable tools and partners include:

MacroActive

I've been with them for a long time, and they're pretty good. They're great for running the fitness service. It's not a cheap endeavor, so some people don't like to start with them because they want to test the waters. 

Remember - Zac also didn’t start with them. He started with spreadsheets.

Start small and invest as you scale.

ClickFunnels

I love being able to create a landing page and then change it immediately - I can take control of the development of a website and test offers. For example, this morning I literally created an entire funnel for a new free challenge that I'm running. Then, I gave people who sign up the ability to upgrade and try a VIP program for a month, and added all these extras in there. 

If I had to then get a web developer to come up with that, I wouldn't even do it.

Testing and iterating is key to scaling a business, but it’s hard if you have heavy infrastructure. Keeping things light and nimble can help you figure out what works and what doesn’t without spending a ton of energy or money.

Newie

For Creators just getting started who want a simple, no-cost-upfront way to sell and test and iterate, Zac recommends Newie.

It works off the back of Stripe, but if you just want to sell a subscription or a product, it's probably the easiest thing in the world….If I'm on a call with you right now and I'm trying to sell you a $10,000 package and you say, “Oh, I can only pay in five installments,” I'd just be like, “Yep, $10,000, five installments. Here's your link…” It's like Stripe, but with more ease of functionality.

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Written by Avi Gandhi, edited by Melody Song,
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