If you’ve been listening to this show for awhile, you already know how much of a fan girl I am for the online marketplace RD2RD.
It’s basically a website where dietitians can sell their handouts, presentations, and tools to each other without having to handle all the annoying tech stuff!
It’s just such a wonderful and innovative idea, and SO beneficial to our profession, that I get excited every time I talk about it.
And TODAY, I’m lucky enough to be chatting with the founder of RD2RD, Megan Boitano!
What You’ll Learn
- How Megan took RD2RD from just an idea to an actual functioning website (and how she got her first users.)
- How the real-life growth of the company compared to her original expectations.
- What she’d do differently if she had to start over.
- How selling on RD2RD can benefit nearly any dietitian, whether you’re an entrepreneur or working full time.
- Why buying resources on RD2RD is better than just trying to find stuff via Google searches.
- The secrets to being one of the top-selling vendors on the site.
- Plus helpful resources for people interested in getting started on RD2RD.
More About Megan
Megan Boitano helps dietitians leverage their expertise and generate passive income with digital products.
She is the founder of RD2RD.com, a digital marketplace for RDNs to purchase and sell original, digital goods such as nutrition handouts, presentations, webinars, books and more.
Connect With Megan
- Website: RD2RD.com
- Instagram: @rd2rd_marketplace
- Facebook: @RD2RD Marketplace
- YouTube: @Megan Boitano
- Twitter: @rd2rd_marketplace
- LinkedIn: @Megan Boitano
Episode Show Notes
Erica Julson: eticianIf you've been listening to this show for a while, you already know how much of a fan girl I am for the online marketplace, RD2RD. It's basically a website where dietitians can sell their handouts, presentations and tools to each other without having to handle all the annoying tech stuff. It's just such a wonderful and innovative idea, and so beneficial to our profession that I get excited every time I talk about it. Today, I'm lucky enough to be chatting with the founder of RD2RD, Megan Boitano. Megan shares with us the origin story of RD2RD, how she took it from just a great idea to an actual functioning website, how she spread the word about RD2RD and got people signing up in the very beginning.
Erica Julson: How the real life growth of the company compared to her original expectations and what she do differently, if she had to start over. Then, we kind of switch gears and we talk about how selling on RD2RD can benefit nearly any dietitian, whether you're an entrepreneur or working full time. Why buying resources on RD2RD is better than just trying to find stuff via Google searches, the secrets to being one of the top selling vendors on the site, and some helpful resources for people interested in getting started today. I had such a great time chatting with Megan and I really hope you enjoyed this interview. Let's dive in.
Erica Julson: Welcome to the Unconventional RD podcast where we inspire dietitians to think outside of the traditional employment box and create their own unconventional income stream. We'll talk all things online business to help you start, grow and scale your own digital empire. Hi, Megan, thank you so much for being here today. I am so excited to talk to you about your experience founding one of my absolute favorite websites RD2RD and listeners of this show know that I mention it like every other episode, it feels like so it's about like high time that you're finally on as a guest.
Megan Boitano: Thank you so much for having me, Erica. I'm a big fan of what you're doing, the ideas that you bring to the Registered Dietitian community. It definitely was an inspiration for me getting started so it's an honor to be here.
Erica Julson: Yeah, I feel like we started like around the same time because we both had the ... we got the ZING grants around the same time for different businesses but yeah, well, I think even though I know I've talked about RD2RD a lot on this podcast for new listeners, could you start by giving us maybe a quick summary of what RD2RD is?
Megan Boitano: Absolutely. RD2RD is a digital marketplace for registered dietitians to buy, sell and share their resources with each other, the larger healthcare community, as well as the public and digital products are things like handouts we create for our practice, forums, slide decks, treatment protocols. So these are all delivered digitally, instant download in a marketplace being multiple people are buying and selling which marketplaces have just boomed over the last five years and I'm sure we'll dig into that a bit more but RD2RD is that for registered dietitians. A place for us to buy, sell and share our expertise in digital format.
Erica Julson: How did you even come up with this idea? What were you doing in your career at the time? How did this come about?
Megan Boitano: Yeah, so I was at a unique point in my career, having moved out of the corporate world from being in clinical nutrition management, and I had decided to start a private practice after adding to my family, really realizing that that full-time nine to five didn't allow me to do that mom role in the way that I wanted to. As I started my private practice, I just became really frustrated that I had to reinvent the wheel that how many private practice dietitians are there out there, and I'm spending hours upon hours figuring out what to put on my health history form. I thought, "My goodness, this is this doesn't have to be this way."
Megan Boitano: So it was that problem and I think when we talk about online business, or we talk about success anywhere, it's ... that problem has to crystallize for you and I kind of remembered the website, Teachers Pay Teachers, which as a parent, I had used resources to help my own child, different learning things and I thought, boom, boom, those two things came together and I said we, as registered dietitians need something like teachers already have and I thought, "You know what, I want to ... this is for me. Why not me? Why can't I bring this idea to life," and that's really how it started.
Erica Julson: That's amazing and my brain immediately goes to like, "Okay, I feel like nine out of 10 people would be like, oh that's such a great idea and it will end there." How the heck did you implement like what did you do? Did you know anything about websites before this? How did that happen?
Megan Boitano: Looking back now, I was absolutely insane to even take this on but I think that's part of the beauty of ignorance, right, is that you really don't know what you're getting yourself into and most things as I say are figure-out-able, right? If you are really determined to learn and master a new skill, you can figure it out. So, I guess my background had a lot of tech in it and one thing that I think is unique, I mentioned I was in the corporate world and I had actually gone back for a second master's degree. I was looking at healthcare quality and patient safety and systems and process, six sigma, lean.
Megan Boitano: I've been pulled out of my clinical role into the healthcare quality department and really looking at in the healthcare system how do we design quality processes and I'm a process thinker. So to build RD2RD, there are so many different processes in place from the registration, to the selling, to the what happens next and for my mind, it was just an absolute ... just like giving me access to the candy store, right? Then, there was that tech element which required me to basically marry process with technology and that is a huge element of my background as well, implementing electronic diet office software systems and call centers and just ... that's the way my mind works.
Megan Boitano: So somehow my really random, I would say, background as a dietitian, as I had stepped away from that to be more at home, in the private practice, it fed that element of me. I really felt like it was something I needed at that time to feel like me. I don't know how else to describe it.
Erica Julson: Okay so even more granular, like what did you do first? Did you set it up yourself? Did you hire any help? Just trying to flesh it out for people who might have similarly lofty ideas but not know where to go.
Megan Boitano: Yeah. I think you go into that research phase of not the rabbit hole of learning everything that I need but based on what I need this website to be able to do. So first and foremost going out and saying, "Well, what really is a marketplace, right? What's the inner workings of them going to a few different ones and doing things like reading their terms and conditions, right?" You learn a lot from that. Going online and reading different blogs, reading people who sell back end tools to create marketplaces. Typically, you're not going to need to go out and hire a custom web developer to create something completely custom. What can you take that's already out there?
Megan Boitano: Similar if you're going to start an online course. You're going to be looking at something like Teachable or Thinkific or a course builder that has all of those building blocks. That's what I did. I didn't need to start from scratch. There already were tools set up for people like me to go in and then, compare which is going to be the best fit for the type of products that I'm selling. My background with a tech. So, that part took a little bit of time, right, to go out and compare different platforms and ultimately making a decision that, I actually have been very happy with and finding a good partner to build my first WordPress website.
Megan Boitano: I'm kind of proud to say that my first website was $1200. I found ... I actually interviewed a number of people. That's another pit of my background as a clinical manager. I've hired hundreds of people, interviewed thousands of people and in my business career, I know talent when I see it and I know the right person when I talk to them and I think that's been an incredibly beneficial thing to leverage as I've built people and added people to my team. I have a big gut instinct about who's the right fit and I trust that, like just deeply because I've been through that process enough times. So, I hired a web guy to basically configure all the back end.
Megan Boitano: I've never built a website before and I wanted it done, right? Really, it was what we want to call it minimum viable product. It was ugly. I didn't have brand colors. I didn't have images. I didn't have standardized text and font but as we went back to that problem, if you have a problem that you're solving for people, it doesn't always have to be pretty. If you're agitating that problem and offering a solution, people are going to come whether it's beautiful or it's still a work in progress. I think that's a really important message, maybe for your listeners because that was something where it held me back.
Megan Boitano: Well, I've got to get all of these things done before I can put my idea out into the world and that ... I just don't believe that that's true.
Erica Julson: Yeah, plus I feel like you need to validate. At some point, you got to like get out there. It makes your people really want this before you spend like two years designing your fonts. Yeah, I know, I feel the same way with ... I think around the same time, I was launching my nutrition membership site and yeah, it was horrifically ugly but you know what, it got an upgrade a year later. Sure, it's the same with your site which yeah, I remember what it looked like when it first launched versus now and yeah, you just get-
Megan Boitano: Wouldn't you say like if you'd have built what you thought you needed if you'd have made that investment, it would have been a poor investment because you learned what you needed over the course of that first year. When you validate it then you know all of the ... what's not good for your users and what's taking extra time that then now, you're equipped to invest, I think. That's the point of that minimum viable product. To get your idea out there and then, give you the education you need to figure out what's the right ... what are the things to invest more money in?
Erica Julson: 1,000%, yes and I think that part that you just said on what the user feedback, you can kind of see where the hiccups are in the whole system. Yeah 1,000%. So, thank you for sharing that because I think that will help lighten the pressure maybe on people who are thinking about starting a new project. It does not have to be perfect. It should not be perfect actually, right, with dates.
Megan Boitano: Yeah, and I did do some vigorous testing because I implemented a lot of healthcare software. You don't just throw it out there and hope it works, right? You have a very structured validation process, so having beta users and I had a series of seven or eight tests because when I worked with the programmers in my past life, we would say, "This is ... this, this and the output should be ... you expect to see this." So I had a set of beta testers that went through and ran a series of tests to help me identify you know issues that maybe weren't working as simple as issues with browsers or things that you aren't going to find on your own that you find when you have beta testers out there.
Megan Boitano: So it doesn't really matter whether you're doing a course or a practice. You should have people besides yourself testing. Testing how your process works and giving you feedback because if people come to your site and they're frustrated, they have a poor experience, you offer better support and they're going to be able ... they're going to want to come back if they have a good experience.
Erica Julson: Totally. Yeah and just from experience, people will let you know generally if you have enough people going through your stuff like, "Oh hey, just so you know like this link is broken on this email or whatever," and then you can go back and like, "Oh, thank you," and fix it because you won't catch it all by yourself, you just can't. So in terms of the funding for getting this started, did you just have your savings that you use? Did you apply for any funding? How did that go?
Megan Boitano: Yeah, so you mentioned the Zing nutrition grant which that was $1,000 grant from Zing nutrition bars and that was really ... as I mentioned, it was $1200 to start the website and then, the rest I had to pay for some WordPress tools and whatnot but really that all in first investment was about $2500 which the rest of that yes, I did pull from savings. I was like, "Well, I'm seeing clients in the private practice," and I thought, "Well, I'll just take some of that from my little, we want to call our side hustle, our passion project," but really looking at not spending more than was necessary to get that minimum viable product out initially.
Erica Julson: Yeah and like just FYI sometimes people spend like two times that on just a regular website with no marketplace, so that's an amazing deal.
Megan Boitano: I got a number of quotes and to build the marketplace like Teachers Pay Teachers with all the bells and whistles many hundred thousand dollar quotes.
Erica Julson: Ding.
Megan Boitano: Not being able to get any really legitimate website building company to take a job less than 10,000, I really feel like you're not really their ideal client, if you're looking for something less than that and not to be ... I mean, they're running a business as well and if they can get ... who are you going to get? So, I think those are some elements of why went out and look for something that was more of a no brainer. It was already set up to do all of the things that I needed to do and it was really just setting it up on the back end, not necessarily needing all of that customization, really holding off on who am I to think I know what customization I need when I have absolutely zero experience.
Megan Boitano: Go with what the experts have put in their tools because they have helped lots of people like me trust them first, then go out and say, "Okay, now I know my business. These are the areas that I need to invest on customization." I can speak to some of those later on but that in my experience, I'm really glad I trusted the people who put the tools out there, that they had set it up for best practices and honestly, they did.
Erica Julson: Can you share the name of maybe at least like the main plugin that you're using?
Megan Boitano: Yeah, I use Easy Digital Downloads. They are an eCommerce, so we want to talk about ... if you want to sell anything from your website, whether you're a marketplace like me or you're selling an eBooks on your own website, you need a shopping cart, which is a place where people put the item and then they go in and they checkout and pay for it. So there's multiple options. Most people have heard of things like Shopify, Easy Digital Downloads, WooCommerce. Some of the key things to think about with your shopping cart are self-hosted versus not. That's kind of a topic I know, you've talked about but something to write down, if you're thinking about selling digital downloads, are you going to go with something that's more of like software as a service or something that's self hosted. There are pros and cons. So I went self-hosted.
Erica Julson: Yes, and I love your website and Easy Digital Downloads seems like super well-functioning, like it has everything it seems like that you need.
Megan Boitano: Getting in and talking to various developers as I started to need customization, that talking about the code on the backend, whether the code was clean or it wasn't clean, when you talk to enough developers that you hear, Easy Digital Downloads ... WooCommerce, and Easy Digital Downloads are kind of two of the big, in the self-hosted game that ... what I've heard from a lot of developers is that the code is just cleaner on Easy Digital Downloads and I like their ecosystem and it's worked for me. I think you can find what you need in either and I think not getting hung up in the perfect choice, I think it's like going on vacation and spending all this time, trying to figure out if you should go to the Bahamas or the Azores.
Megan Boitano: Are you going to have a good time, it's going to be fine. In most cases, it's going to be fine, so picking one.
Erica Julson: Yeah, like with my courses. I fell backwards into selling courses and I actually thought I was just doing a membership site. So I have, still to this day, all set up with a membership site plugin, which is probably actually not ideal, because if I'm selling more than one thing, I would like to have a functioning shopping cart and I don't, so I have to make bundles and sell bundles. Yeah, it's not ideal but at this point, it's like, "Okay, at some point, I'll go in and do a whole upgrade," but it's working. I'm doing multiple six figures of business with this random setup.
Megan Boitano: So you make a good point about your process. When you have mapped those things out and you know the different elements. For me, I'm using the reviews extension and like custom success redirect. So I have a very complex process map of where all of these elements are. So when somebody else gives me the bigger, better, more awesome or maybe I should use X, Y, or Z, it helps me to not get distracted and I feel like I'm missing out on something, when I can actually go back to my process and go, "Yeah, that's really not a good fit," rather than just kind of jumping from thing to thing or wondering that you aren't using ... I mean, you are using a set of tools. Those tools are not your process.
Megan Boitano: They enable whatever structure you want to use to sell your online products. They are the tool. They're not the process. So for me, that's been really helpful, whether it's email marketing or opt-in forms or what tools I use that ... where does it fit in the process not, I'm moving to X, Y or Z because that's really not ... as your business grows, it becomes more and more complicated, unless you start with the process. You're going to be spinning yourself around.
Erica Julson: Yeah, yeah, I know. Making a move at this point in my business would be annoying but I don't know, it's like this weird balance between how important are those upgrades at this moment in time, like having a shopping cart or upsells at the end. At this very moment when I only have three things for sale, it's not make it or break it but people listening right now, I'm in the middle of like revamping all of my offerings and I can see how some of those things might be nice in the future with my evergreen funnel, so it might be coming, change might be coming in the next year, but not in the next month or anything like that but great point.
Erica Julson: Getting started is more important than like spending a year in the weeds trying to figure out all the little details honestly. It will change. So I'm really excited to hear as well, so now that you've got the site up and running, how the heck did you get people to join? How did you spread the word?
Megan Boitano: Yeah. So, taking advantage of where do you people hang out, that would be an ideal audience, part of my audience, right? So I'm looking for registered dietitian. So of course, you're going to do social media, Facebook groups and I took advantage of live video on Facebook. So, I started the RD2RD live show, gosh, it was three years ago, in November. So it's been a full three years now, which was kind of two-pronged. One, it was networking, right? So just like you in the podcast, it's your co-mingling audiences. So having the guests on, helped me to then ... they would talk about the fact that they were coming on the show. Then, it helped to spread the word about RD2RD.
Megan Boitano: So of course, Facebook groups, starting Instagram, social media and the like. Then, I started writing content, blogging, right? My blogging strategy has changed, which I hope we'll have time to dive into, but I really started to focus on topics that if you were someone who would be keen to sell digital products that that topic would be interesting to you. I didn't honestly do it from an SEO perspective, I actually took more of the approach of what are the questions that I see asked over and over and over in these Facebook groups that I could link to a helpful article that would establish me as an expert and bring them to my website and see what I have to offer. Maybe you want to call it guerrilla warfare but it worked, that was one thing.
Megan Boitano: Then, looking at how I could have free content, which works as almost like an opt-in for the website and gets people to RD2RD, that then they would see how it works and go, "Oh, I actually got the download. Well, now I feel more comfortable actually paying for something because I know how the site works." So building some repeat customers and just trust that you will deliver what you say.
Erica Julson: Yes, I think the big takeaways from what you just said there is like, if you build it and do no promotion of any kind or any attractive mechanism, most likely people will not find it. They will not be coming in droves.
Megan Boitano: They're not going to be at your door down, they're not going to come find you, no one is going to come and find you.
Erica Julson: They don't know you exist. You need to ... At some point, you hit this sort of like ... I don't know what the right word is, the ball gets rolling enough where once you become a recognized brand, as I would say you are now, then it's a little less guerrilla warfare-esque but I totally relate in the beginning. It's like, "Yeah, you need to kind of like make a name for yourself." For anyone listening, yes, SEO is like a slow game. Depending on your target market, may or may not fit, like you're targeting specifically dieticians, not necessarily like everyone is selling digital products, so that's probably something that you're thinking about when you're creating your content.
Erica Julson: So I love that you were like, "Oh, hey, I know where these people hang out and I'm in these groups, and I see all the questions, like I can be the answer." Anyone else listening can do this exact same thing. You can create blog posts that ... so it's evergreen, it's always there and working for you and when you see people ask these questions, you're like, "Hey, check out this post," gets into your website and be like, "Oh, what website am I on? Oh, let me click over here. I could buy digital goods on this site, like this is amazing," and then maybe they send it to a friend and there it goes. So great, great insights.
Megan Boitano: I think that you mentioned the SEO I wish, I didn't have all of that knowledge going in. Again, I'd never run a website, never sold anything online. Literally, I had never sold anything online and I launched a digital marketplace. If that's not the craziest thing ever, whatever idea if you're listening and I don't know, I don't have the skills. Yes, you do, like I you do. You will learn as you go, so I just ... I feel like we tell ourselves all the reasons why we can't but there's absolutely no reason that you ... there's no magical stamp, you have to go out and get to like, get started. You get the Getting Started stamp when you get started.
Erica Julson: Yes, and I think the theme of this episode is like you learn by doing. So how's it going today? Has it been growing year after year? Did it meet your expectations right out the gate? I know ... I'm excited to hear your answer to that because-
Megan Boitano: Well, you have painted a fairly rosy picture and I think there's that first year that's all very exciting and there's a lot of those bursts of just excitement, like you get the website launched and then, you're maybe making your first few sales and there's some people who are excited and then ... right, you finished maybe that first year and things are going okay, but the time that you're spending, right, there's a lot. Maybe not growing at the pace that I wanted to be growing and I thought, is this a good idea? Is this sustainable from a business perspective? I almost quit about a thousand times, that just trying to run my private practice, looking at the numbers and saying, how can I run two businesses?
Megan Boitano: How can I ... I don't know anything about online business. The reason why it's not growing is because I'm not good at this. I'm never going to get good at this and I really wrestled with whether or not I should throw in the towel or not and thankfully, I had a mastermind group at that time, and just having other people who had started businesses, run businesses, had similar experiences, really helped to pull me out of those deep, dark moments of wanting to quit. In some cases, quitting is the right decision. I'm not to say that every business isn't going to succeed but that this business wasn't meant to be stopped. I just needed support like anybody did.
Megan Boitano: When you're launching and growing. So the first ... just to put it in perspective, the first year, RD2RD made a whopping $6,000 in sales, a little over. Okay, so that's not very much, right? Comparatively, over the last three months, we're averaging more than 10,000 a month in sales. So, if you're looking at, it took some time, right, to get there. Recently, having made some investments in blogging and SEO and communications and a little bit more on the email marketing, so yeah, it wasn't always rosy and I guess, I'm just really a persistent person and that I wanted this to work, right? I think sometimes it really comes down to wanting the results more than the fear, right?
Megan Boitano: Is this fear that I'm looking at or is this really and truly, objective data that I'm acting on?
Erica Julson: Yes. So what kind of data were you looking at to keep you motivated?
Megan Boitano: Many of us have looked at, do I need a business coach, right? I think I got to the point where, I convinced myself that I needed to hire somebody to help me and I had some long conversations with my spouse. He said, "You don't need a business coach, Megan, you know what needs to be done." I think that was that reality moment of, I did know what needed to be done but I wanted to work and the time that I had allotted to work was really, 10 maximum of 20 hours a week to fulfill the reason why I left my full time job and I was starting to get bitter and disliking the work that I was doing, because it was taking away from the quality of life and other aspects.
Megan Boitano: I was trying to run a private practice and I was trying to blog there, and I was seeing clients and running back. I started to dislike what I had built with such passion. I'm like, "What happened here," right? So, then I decided that I was going to stop, I was going to stop seeing one to one clients. I was going to take this 10 to 15 hours a week and I was going to try to make RD2RD successful and instead of investing in someone to tell me to do things that I already knew I needed to do, I just didn't have the time to do, I decided to invest in people to help me do that, right? So about six months ago, I hired someone to help me research keywords and outline my blog posts.
Megan Boitano: I hired someone to write those blog posts for me. I hired someone to write a year's worth of social media posts for each one of those. I have a virtual assistant who now schedules posts for a year, helps me create my content but what do I have in return for that? I have made myself accountable for strategic planning in my business. I've already wrapped up my 2021, quarter one content calendar. Every newsletter I'm going to post, every blog topic that's going to come out, every subject of every vendor newsletter, every little element that I ran, a department with millions of dollars budget, tons of people, I know how to do this but I didn't have the base under me.
Megan Boitano: I'd always had people to delegate to and I'm like, "What has worked for you in the past," and that for me was a switch like becoming a business owner, coming into my own about ... like you're running a business. This isn't some hobby little passion project and that was a moment for me and I haven't looked back since.
Erica Julson: Yeah, that makes my heart sing, it's so exciting and for anyone listening because this is going to air later than we're recording, when Megan was talking about finishing her whole Q1 planning, this is still the end of 2020 at this time, so she's months and months ahead, which is great. I wanted to, really quick before we move on, ask how did you find these people? Because I think that is a really big hurdle for a lot of business owners.
Megan Boitano: Yeah, so a couple people in different ways. So my nutrition communications person, I found through the Zing nutrition grants. So interacting with ... I don't know if you mentioned names on this show, but she was the person who I interacted with and was doing communications for that company and-
Erica Julson: You can mention names, if you like.
Megan Boitano: Okay, okay. Krista Ulatowski, KUcumbers Nutrition Communication. So she's in that fellow registered dietitian, which I felt would know my audience, but also has a background in PR and like advertising, and from the beginning helped simple things like I was a member of Nutrition Entrepreneurs Practice group, hiring her to write members on the move, like the little blurb that goes in to submit. I hired her to pitch me to some various, like stone soup blog and today's dietitian and she had a relationship with the people. So she helped write that pitch for me. Then, I remember at the Today's Dietitian Conference, she came up to me, dragged me over and I met face to face at the table with someone from Today's Dietitian.
Megan Boitano: It was like a month later when they finally hired someone to write a feature about RD2RD in Today's Dietitian, which felt like winning the lottery for me. I don't know about you, but as a nutrition business owner that felt like the lottery. So really looking at what my business needed, like she from a nutrition communication standpoint, writes the email blasts that accompanies each of my blog posts. So that's a really important content. Yes, social media posts are important but for me, that email marketing is a core strategy for me, because I know if I click on the link to read that blog, the likelihood that I'm going to make money off of that click is so high.
Megan Boitano: That's the reality, we're running a business here. Yes, I want the email to be helpful. Yes, I want to have content but that's not going to keep me afloat, right? I need to make money off of the traffic that's coming to the website. So looking at where are my money making opportunities and once I got enough content on the website, enough quality products, where I started to see blogging as a way to make money, right? Because if I could bring the traffic in and convert those people into buying products, that this was the way that then how do I attract more vendors to my website?
Megan Boitano: Yeah, you can sell on your own website but you've got to do all your own marketing. No one is just going to show up and buy your stuff. Selling on RD2RD means I have someone who's blogging and targeting keywords around the products that you're selling. I have someone like I'm doing the email marketing. Do you want to do that or do you want to sell on a website that, that's why people sell on Amazon. That's why people sell on Etsy. That's why people sell on eBay because it takes that element off of their plate. That's where I went, "Oh, that's the value that I'm going to bring. That's what's going to bring more vendors better quality products and more customers." It's kind of a fulfilling ... it fulfills itself, right?
Erica Julson: Yes. I love the ecosystem. I can see it all in my mind like, "Oh, this all interlinks." Yeah, you use MailChimp, yeah, for your email?
Megan Boitano: I do. I do.
Erica Julson: I believe you can track sales. Yeah?
Megan Boitano: I do. I do. So I can see all of the ... whether they're a subscriber. So, there's a couple of different things on the Easy Digital Downloads side, I use their MailChimp extension, which talks to MailChimp. So even if they haven't opted in to be a subscriber, I can see that they're not yet subscribed but I can still see their order history. So when they do subscribe, it has all of that information there. So for example, let's say, there's a free resource around the 10 principles of intuitive eating that I then want to send a marketing message to people who have downloaded that but haven't purchased this specific product, I can get that granular very similarly like I did for the cyber sale that we just wrapped up.
Megan Boitano: If I have a daily deal and I've been marketing that, don't send them marketing email to someone that already bought the daily deal. It's just an absolute no, no but if you don't have the tools on the back end, you have no other way but to really annoy people, by sending them an email to buy something they've already bought.
Erica Julson: I feel like for a marketplace, it's even more important and helpful than maybe like, in my case where I only have three things but how ... you can probably say like, "Oh, they've clicked on this item or downloaded this freebie," and then you know that they're interested in that and then you can set up ... for people listening, I don't know what level they're at but you don't have to do this all manually. This is all automated, where you set it up, like, "Oh, people who are like interested in XYZ thing, if they click this link, they get a certain tag in your email marketing thing," and then that kicks off a whole automation of other things that you start sending them now that you know what they're interested in. Then hopefully, you make sales, yeah.
Megan Boitano: Correct.
Erica Julson: Yeah, it might sound complicated, but it's kind of like you set it up, and then it runs itself in the background, kind of.
Megan Boitano: You have to learn it just like anything and that there are many different options out there and whatever one makes sense to your brain and has the functionality. For me, sticking with ones that have a lot of integration and as privacy and data regulation has become such a focus, making sure that you're looking at an email marketing company that's set up to keep you compliant as well. So, just making sure.
Erica Julson: Yeah.
Megan Boitano: Since they have access to your ... they're a data processor for you, yeah.
Erica Julson: Most of the big, big ones that you hear of are compliant but yeah, it's definitely a risk if you're like using some random one and definitely do not be using just Gmail, that doesn't work. It's not compliant, so before we move on, I do want to talk about how people can sell an RD2RD but just to wrap up this topic, looking back over the last few years, is there maybe anything you've learned or anything you do differently from what you've learned based on all of your experiences, if you had to go back?
Megan Boitano: I wish there was that luxury of going back? Honestly, I think in my own personal situation, I needed to go through the journey of trying the private practice route and trying to run them both at the same time to really have that moment of I don't want to do client work because had I started RD2RD, I would have felt like I always had that fallback of, "Well, I could just go to do one to one client," but instead that's the fire. That's the motivation of I know I don't want to do one to one, that's not for me. So, it doesn't give me that easy ... I don't want to say easy out but doesn't give my mind that out, which I think is sometimes as important.
Megan Boitano: So I wouldn't necessarily change anything. I did have this moment where, we talk about coming into your own as a business owner. I had somebody you know, reach out about buy online businesses and they had a podcast and it was really interesting and actually a little ... not going to say crushing but a little bit, that they really going through, like what's the value of an online business? So it's really, how many people you're bringing in and how you're converting them and the reality of as much touchy feely wonderfulness you want to have about your business, are you doing those things? If somebody was an investor, looking at RD2RD, they'd say, "Megan, you're doing a really bad job. You're not doing a good job."
Megan Boitano: For me looking at it, I was like, "Aw, that hurts." I have all these wonderful feelings but feelings isn't success. So, that's where some of that mindset shift came into, "Okay, I need traffic and I need to convert those people," and over the last, really six to nine months really putting in some of that back end infrastructure, which we won't even have time to talk about with my developer. So setting aside 100 to $200 a month to build up a little kitty to hire my web developer to do things that allow me to automate those money making activities on the back end, that it doesn't happen quickly but it's not quickness.
Megan Boitano: It's the methodical, over and over of small little incremental improvements that you went from having $300 a month in upsells to consistently having five to $6,000 a month in upsells, more than 50% of the money that comes in every month is because I'm suggesting products to people, because people are adding items on to the cart, which is me making that effort day after day and not doing it one time or two times. It's every single day, every single week. That's how you get results consistency.
Erica Julson: Yes and I don't know if we touched on it but you make money via splitting the revenue, basically, with the sellers. Yeah?
Megan Boitano: Yes.
Erica Julson: Then, you have different plans available.
Megan Boitano: Yeah. So RD2RD, want to ... creating a store and listing products is free. When you make a sale, there is a service fee paid to the marketplace. So people who want to be a free member, so they're not paying for their store, not paying for their products, it's 35% of each sale, and that covers transaction fees, which you got to love those. Then, all of those sites security and customer service, like you do nothing, right? You list your products and you even have to think about it. For many people who opt for the premium membership, that you get 80% of each sale. So that is an option but people ... we have the premium membership and we have basic, but I really felt it was important getting started to make it risk free for people to try, to open your store and list products.
Megan Boitano: You don't have to pay anything, right? I'm asking for the ... put your expertise on the marketplace and give me the opportunity to sell those products for you, and when I do make a sale on the website, that a percentage of those stays with RD2RD which then again invest in growing the marketplace as well.
Erica Julson: Yeah, then similar model with all the course platforms, like Teachable or Thinkific, they all have free plans that take a percentage, like that's just pretty standard as far as it goes in terms of selling stuff online and then, you can do the math, I think I did the math on what the breaking even point is, but I didn't write it down for this episode, for RD2RD but there's a certain point where if you're selling X, Y, Z number of dollars.
Megan Boitano: $35 a month.
Erica Julson: Yeah, then it makes sense to pay for the annual membership and then you get more per sale.
Megan Boitano: That's actually a really interesting element. So when I started the website, I wanted to have that distinction, but to know that was a manual process, so every time somebody purchased a membership, I had to go in and manually change on the back end and track when all those subscriptions were coming up for renewal and that's not a process. That's manual not so good, so that was one of the first investments that I made with the developer, is what can we do from a code standpoint when there's an active subscription, that this happens automatically. So those are the kinds of things where we talk about what can you automate, even things like a vendor. I needed a master list of who's selling on my website.
Megan Boitano: My tool couldn't provide me with one of those, so I was keeping a master spreadsheet. So having them program a report that I can export each month for ... God forbid, I would lose my website, that I have a list for security purposes. So really, it's not glamorous, like I feel like running an online business is not those beautiful glamor shots, people put on Instagram, sitting there at the beach. It's a lot of ... it's not very glamorous, right?
Erica Julson: Seriously, I don't know if it's just me or the way my brain works but I prefer that type of work over like, "Oh, here I am on Instagram." It just doesn't like resonate with my soul. I'm like, "Yes, let me get into the data." Yeah, I feel you. So where do you see this site in like five years. I know, it's not available right now worldwide so is that maybe something that eventually will be in the pipeline?
Megan Boitano: Definitely. Part of the challenge of being a global marketplace is the privacy and the tax implications and I'm excited that the developer was recently able to do some work that's preparatory for being able to do a more global marketplace and then also, looking at, from my business perspective, my audience right now is limited to registered dietitians that are with the credential of registered dietitian, that the reality is, there are other professionals with nutrition expertise that don't fall in that ... don't have the credential of how can I make RD2RD more broadly available for dietitians that are ... if I'm going to sell across the world, not everybody uses that certification across the world.
Megan Boitano: So looking at how can I open up the marketplace in a way that allows more people to sell that have a nutrition expertise. So that's something that I'm currently exploring and hope to have in 2021 because a website like Teachers Pay Teachers, there's dietitians that sell on there that don't teach in the classroom. So who am I to be such a iron gatekeeper of who can put their expertise online and I've actually felt very passionate about the fact that that's really not the right thing for my business to be so iron gate like this is ... you have to have a CDR number in order to sell on my site. I actually feel like who am I to take that. I'd like to put that out there that it's going to broaden.
Megan Boitano: I get calls from everything from therapists, to speech therapists and occupational therapist. I'm not really sure of expanding to other disciplines, but definitely within the nutrition realm.
Erica Julson: Yeah, I can see it like long, long term, you could be health care professional, like obviously not that long of a name but same idea, yeah, yeah. I feel similarly with like my SEO course and stuff, people ... It's all kind of like marketed right now to dieticians but then people will be like, "Oh, my therapist friend could use this." I'm like, "Yeah, they could." I mean, all the examples are dietitians right now but like they could still use the info.
Megan Boitano: You make a good point of who ... I put a lot of time and effort into expanding to Canada and allowing Canadian dietitians to sell and I've had some uptake, not to the same degree, so I think it's also important to just because you have a few people mentioning something, doesn't necessarily mean that it's this amazing, huge, untapped market that's going to grow your business exponentially and that also looking at how is it going to complicate things? What am I going to need to not just launch but to maintain that from a ... what are the other downstream workload and really, sometimes you have to say no, it's not the right time and not being afraid to say it's just not the right time.
Erica Julson: Yeah, I'm not saying no, forever but I'm saying, "Not right now." Just because, yeah, you're right, I think it's important to get ... I've been following some advice of people who are like, "Okay, one product, one audience, one million dollars and then you can expand?"
Megan Boitano: I love that.
Erica Julson: Okay. Yeah. So that's what I'm kind of focusing on for 2021. I think I can do it. So I need some focus here.
Megan Boitano: You're a rock star. I love everything that you do.
Erica Julson: Thank you. Likewise, right back at you. Okay, so before we close out this episode today, I do want people listening to fully understand how they can use RD2RD to benefit their own businesses. So maybe can you give us some examples, what are some really popular ideas or products that are selling right now by dietitians?
Megan Boitano: So RD2RD has you know what you would expect a lot of client education resources, and forms and what I think people don't understand is how we see clients, and do our work. If we're thinking about a private practice dietitian, isn't necessarily just a handout with a bunch of information inaudible familiar with something within nutrition care manual. What I love seeing and what I think it's changing, what's making RD2RD really work is resources that are actually applicable in practice. So, it'll have information and reflection question and action items and an accompanying like, clinician guide.
Megan Boitano: It's really ... if you're an expert in a certain area, how do you take what you're doing, whether you're a retail dietitian or you work in long-term care, getting new contracts and work ... it's whatever makes your specific niche tick, that that is probably something that you can sell on the marketplace. So protocols like treatment protocols. If I'm seeing a client ... these are the things that I need to be thinking about, like there's a set of gentle nutrition handouts, wonderfully, excellent set of resources, very popular because it really doesn't exist right, out in the world. Another product that's doing really well is a set of templates for like practice better.
Megan Boitano: So instead of having to set up all of your own forms on the back end, everything from your physician referral type things that it's all just done for you, you import them and you're done.
Erica Julson: I had Jen on the podcast, talking about that.
Megan Boitano: Thinking outside the box and a new intern, like if you are wanting to take an intern in your practice, just some of the things that you might need and it's often the things that are easy in your practice, that you don't think about how helpful they could be like a HARO template for answering those emails, that a lot of times it isn't ... if you're selling something that's $10 and it's a small thing, but it's about quantity, right? So maybe you'll have 50 people buy that versus one $500 product calculators like sports nutrition related calculators or different resources. To me, I love seeing the ... I couldn't have even imagined the type of products that are on there.
Megan Boitano: That's really been a learning element for me is just knowing that, I don't know what dietitians need but by talking and listening and looking at what the data is telling me about what's selling, that then I can go out to the vendors and I can say, "Hey, have you thought about doing X, Y, or Z," and really harvesting, putting my ideas along with the experts to really bring new things to the marketplace? That's where I found, "How do I take what I know that my vendors don't know. I don't need to be them. I don't need to know everything about functional nutrition or pregnancy but how can I help them sell more?" That's been helpful for me.
Erica Julson: Yeah, it's one of my favorite things, even on my nutrition membership site is like looking to see what people search for and like what I don't have and then that guides what I might add in the future, because I know people already want it. So it's like a no brainer. Sure you have similar data.
Megan Boitano: Yeah, I love looking at the search term.
Erica Julson: I have a question for people thinking about selling, what do you think makes your best sellers stand out? What's making them be so successful versus maybe the people who just have a couple sales here and there?
Megan Boitano: You have to follow the best practices for selling online, which is it's not just about the resource, it's not just about the handout that the customer gets when they purchase. It's about writing the sales copy. Someone will say this is a cardiac diet handout, nobody knows what's in your resource. They don't know why it's better than somebody else's, they don't know how it helps the patients that they're working with, that it's looking at making sure that you know how to write a product description, which is sales copy, right? So that's something that when someone has a well-written product description, those products sell better.
Megan Boitano: Also, including page previews, so when you're selling a resource online, you need to show people elements of the resource they're going to get, expecting someone to pay even $10 for something that they can't see. It's not that they're not going to buy, they're not going to buy yours. They're going to click to somebody else's that might be inferior to yours, that's showing content. So you need to learn how to make those page preview images. I have tutorial videos and blog articles, but you have to do it. People making a featured image. So when someone search for the term, let's say intuitive eating, they're scrolling through their phone at thumbnail images. If yours doesn't look good, it's not going to get clicked on.
Megan Boitano: So, those are kind of couple of important elements to sell and I hear many people going, "Wow," I don't ... I'm just going to throw a few things up there and if they sell then I'll spend some time at it and that's really the wrong way to go about it. It's looking at not just taking a shotgun and throwing up a bunch of products but looking at what can I use to attract people to my store, so is there something I can offer that's like a free resource that's ... whether it's the hunger check and I'm selling something related to intuitive eating that then I mention in the free resource listing with a link to it.
Megan Boitano: People, thinking about selling online, it all applies and I do some of that on the back end but those are some of just the basics to make more money selling on RD2RD.
Erica Julson: Super helpful and you have resources to help people get better at this stuff, can they find that just at rd2rd.com or is there a special area?
Megan Boitano: Rd2rd.com, there's something called the Getting Started hub, getting-started-hub, which has a lot of links to the blog articles quick start guides, some videos that I have. I'll also be relaunching the jumpstart program which I basically walk people through, you were kind of one to one with me with some check-in meetings and content on getting started and that I'll be doing again in 2021 but I really think you don't necessarily need some specific person to walk you through. A lot of it is trial and error. If you start selling digital products, it doesn't matter whether you look back at them six months or a year later. You're going to want to update your visuals you're going to want to improve your product descriptions. It's really getting started and then, making improvements as you go.
Erica Julson: Yeah, yeah. I do all that type of stuff on Canva. If you're thinking, "Oh my gosh, this is really intimidating," it really doesn't have to be even the things that you see where it's like, "Oh, like a phone screen or a tablet," and there's like an image in it, you can do that in Canva and I'm sure your tutorials guide people through that but it's not that hard. Even, it looks so fancy like, "Oh, it's really not that bad."
Megan Boitano: No, and those are the big light bulb moments of, "Oh, it's not ... if I'd have known it was that easy, I would have been doing this a long time ago."
Erica Julson: I just redid all my graphics like that, for my relaunch. There's literally like an icon that you drag over from Canva and then, there's an empty thing in the middle and you drag another picture inside the screen of the computer and then, it looks like a mock up, like I'm amazing, look at what I have created. Okay, so and then to close this out for people who maybe don't want to sell but they might want to buy stuff to help make their business easier, like you were just talking about not reinventing the wheel, why do you think it's helpful to purchase specifically from RD2RD and not just like a Google search or something?
Megan Boitano: Well, RD2RD, you're getting the expertise of people who have practiced and they're vetted and I think if someone's going to put the resource up for sale, I think in most cases, they're putting a quality product forward and you'll have the opportunity to do things like read reviews. Ask questions in advance. One of the functionalities that I added was a Send Message button. So I always recommend pre-sale questions as the best practice, and online, before you buy something, to ask a question. So if you're looking at a form or you want to know if a resource covers X, Y or Z, you can message that seller and ask those questions in advance.
Megan Boitano: That is probably going to save you time and I'm ... anyone, you can create all of these things yourself. I really think it's the saving yourself time element. That is really what you get with RD2RD because you can search and compare products from multiple people and just be done with it. If you have to give a presentation and you want to get a slide deck and not have to spend the time creating it, that's great, or you could read through all the outlines of the slide decks and sit down for the next four or five hours, six hours and make your slide deck. There really isn't ... It's just you want to save time?
Erica Julson: Yeah, totally and I was going to say, I think, to me, the biggest asset is it's all in one place, versus thinking about Googling it, you probably going to land on some random person's website that you're like, "Is this reputable," and then maybe they have like one thing you need but then you can't compare it to anything else really easily. So yeah, the marketplace aspect is really beneficial and the more dietitians that get on it, and create stuff, the better it's going to get. So let's all come together here people, make this thing the best place to buy and sell nutrition resources, because it's just such a great idea. So helpful for our whole like industry, so thank you for spending the freaking crazy amount of mental energy and time and money required to get this off the ground because it takes a unique person, I think, to take that on. So thank you,
Megan Boitano: I am thankful, you've been such a help from the beginning. It's hard to measure how just those little ... this is good idea on days where you're feeling really down about your business where a few of those little messages go a long way. So thank you for being ... words of encouragement oftentimes, so you might not even know.
Erica Julson: Well, where should people go if they would like to connect with you further and follow along with your work?
Megan Boitano: Yeah, obviously, rd2rd.com. If you want to open a store, there's a big old button right there on the homepage or you can search for products but I'm on Instagram, rd2rd_marketplace and then Facebook as well, we have our RD2RD live show on there. I also have a YouTube channel which has all of our prior live shows, which is a lot of fun and maybe I'll eventually get to a link but I have a free CEU ... one CEU webinar on getting started with digital products, which is a great way to grab a free CEU as well as learn some of those as I was alluding to product descriptions, then images that really does a good job of some case studies and otherwise, to really say is this for me.
Megan Boitano: I think that webinar does a good job of kind of crystallizing or clarifying for you if this is really something you'd want to pursue.
Erica Julson: Yeah, send me the link and I, for everyone listening, will put all these links to the webinar, RD2RD, everything we talked about just right on the show notes for this episode, so at the unconventionalrd.com, click on the podcast tab, find this episode number and it's all right there. So, yeah, thank you again for being here. I really appreciate it and I hope this inspires everyone listening to go for your big dreams, and also to participate in the marketplace, if that's part of their vision of their business because it's such a good opportunity.
Megan Boitano: Thank you so much, Erica. I had a blast.
Erica Julson: That's it for today. Thank you for hanging out with me on this podcast. I'm so grateful for every single one of you listening, and just some behind the scenes updates on what's going on in my world, I have been working super, super hard on updating my SEO course content, giving it a nice little facelift for 2021 and it should be done in the next few weeks. So once the content is done and recorded and all uploaded to the site, I'm going to release it to my current students right away, so everybody who's already enrolled gets access to all of the content moving forward at no extra charge. So look out for that, if you're already a current student, if you're an affiliate of mine.
Erica Julson: Also look out for some emails. I'll be sending you about ways to promote the course when it's ready to be launched to the general public, and then, I will do a couple weeks of promotion here and there. I'll do a little online masterclass and then, people will be able to enroll if they desire. So yes, this has been such a long time coming. I've been working on this for like at least six months. So, I can't wait. I feel like ... even though I'm due with a baby in August, I feel like this is my other baby, I'm about to put out into the world. So yeah, just wanted to give you a heads up. People asked me a lot like, "When is your course going to open again?"
Erica Julson: So that's the updates hopefully soon and thank you for being so patient and I know all of the updates are going to be well worth it. Other than that, I'll catch you next week.
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Erica Julson is a registered dietitian turned digital marketing pro. She has over 12 years of experience blogging and building online businesses and has taught over 900 wellness professionals inside her signature program, SEO Made Simple.