Jadah Sellner and her husband had a simple dream – to own their own business while spending as much time as possible with their young daughter. The couple’s child center on the Hawaiian island of Kauai seemed ideal … until it wasn’t.
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From there, Jadah started a parenting blog. But it was the day that she had her first green smoothie that her life truly changed, even if she didn’t know it at that point.
In a business sense, perhaps it’s more fair to say it was a combination of green smoothies and 30-day challenges to get other people to drink green smoothies that did the trick. Listen in to hear how this simple approach led to a massive email list, a thriving business, and a vibrant personal brand.
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The Show Notes
How to Use Interactive Challenges to Build Your Email List and Business
Jadah Sellner: My name is Jadah Sellner. I’m a movement-starter, a community-builder, and I get people to fall in love with kale and spinach. I’m definitely unemployable.
Voiceover: Welcome to Unemployable, the show for people who can get a job, they’re just not inclined to take one, and that’s putting it gently. In addition to this podcast, thousands of freelancers and entrepreneurs get actionable advice and other valuable resources from the weekly Unemployable email newsletter. Join us by registering for our free Profit Pillars course, or choose to sign up for the newsletter only. at no charge. Simply head over to Unemployable.com, and take your business and lifestyle to the next level.
Brian Clark: Hey there, Unemployable people. I am Brian Clark, founder and CEO of Rainmaker Digital, and this is Unemployable on the Rainmaker.FM podcast network.
If you’re looking for more power, less pain, and higher profit from your online marketing efforts, you owe it to yourself to head over to RainmakerPlatform.com and check it out. It’s the all-in-one solution for building your online digital making and sales platform, and there’s a free trial where you can check it out at no obligation.
Today’s guest, Jadah Sellner, and her husband had a simple dream–to own their own business while spending as much time as possible with their young daughter. Their child center on the Hawaiian island of Kauai seemed ideal, until it wasn’t.
From there, Jadah started a parenting blog, but it was the day that she had her first green smoothie that her life truly changed, even if she didn’t know it at that point. In a business sense, I guess it’s more fair to say it was a combination of green smoothies and 30-day challenges to get other people to drink green smoothies that did the trick. Listen in to hear how this simple approach led to a massive email list, a thriving business, and a vibrant personal brand.
That has to be one of the more original opening lines we’ve had on this podcast. Of course, one would expect that from you. How are you doing?
Jadah Sellner: I am doing really well. I feel really grounded today.
Brian Clark: I’ve been following you on Facebook, and you’re living the dream, I got to say.
Jadah Sellner: Yes, I pinch myself a lot, that I am living exactly the dreams that I said out loud a few years ago. It’s crazy.
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. Well, that is awesome. Jadah is another of the people—’of the people,’ wow, you just stop being able to talk–one of the persons that I was acquainted with when I went to the Philippines a month or so ago. When was that? Time is flying.
Jadah Sellner: Yeah. That was a month ago, a little bit over a month at least. It was last month.
Brian Clark: She was also one of the speakers, and I don’t know what it was, but your presentation really connected with me. You gave me a lot of great ideas. I thought, “Hey, we got to have her on the podcast, so she can give everyone else great ideas as well.” In fact, that’s what you do kind of, wouldn’t you say?
Jadah Sellner: Yes. I’m all about making idea babies. That is one of my specialties.
Brian Clark: You are known for making kale and spinach easier to go down in the form of green smoothies, so we do want to talk a little bit about that. You’re actually even transcending that, which is very interesting.
Perhaps take us back and share your journey with us, because a lot of people may not know how you got into the whole green smoothie thing, and then where you’re going from here.
How Jadah Got into the ‘Green Smoothie’ Thing
Jadah Sellner: So in 2011, the summer of 2011, I had my very first green smoothie. My husband’s aunt blended me something with kale, spinach, pineapple, and mango inside a blender, and I was freaking out. I was pretty sure that it would not taste good, and I was definitely surprised it did. I was someone who never consumed veggies.
If it wasn’t corn or potatoes, then I wasn’t eating a vegetable. I was very shocked. Within three months of drinking one green smoothie a day, I lost 27 pounds. Green smoothies were really the gateway drug for me to have more energy to follow my passions. At this time, I had been really kind of depressed before the green smoothie habit took on.
My husband and I had a brick-and-mortar business in Kauai, shut that down, and just trying to figure out how to make money and still have my daughter by my side, who at this time was four years old. Got her to drink green smoothies. Simple Green Smoothies was actually never supposed to be a business. It was more of just a passionate habit that I was telling people about.
I got my business partner, and we had a parenting blog. Got her hooked on green smoothies and her little ones hooked on green smoothies as well. While we were running a parenting blog, we were obsessing over the green smoothie habit.
I would say, about a little bit less than a year after we had started our parenting blog, I started an Instagram account called Simple Green Smoothies to share our recipes with the world. Little did we know that people actually really loved the recipes that we were sharing. From July to December of 2012, we went from zero Instagram followers to 30,000 followers.
That was where the Simple Green Smoothies business was born. We said, “I don’t think anyone is going to want to buy anything about green smoothies from our parenting blog. They’ll be really confused,” so we launched SimpleGreenSmoothies.com in November of 2012.
Brian Clark: Fascinating. You had a brick-and-mortar business. Was that taxing? Was it just not really what you were about?
Why Jadah Realized a Brick-and-Mortar Business Wasn’t Her Thing
Jadah Sellner: Yeah, I think ‘taxing’ is a really good word. My husband and I, neither of us have college degrees, and we definitely didn’t have any business starting our own businesses. It was a play and learning center for kids, and it was a way for us to have our daughter be by our side. But what we quickly learned about running a brick-and-mortar business is, you’re not only spending money on your own rent, you’re also spending rent for the lease of the physical space.
The idea that we had was for parents to stay with their children, but we had to pivot to the market. They actually wanted to drop their kids off. It turned from a play center to more of a childcare, preschool-type of thing. That was not in alignment with what my husband and I really wanted to create.
I always say that, if a business is compromising your health and your relationships, that you have to let it go. We were all-in. We wanted it to succeed, but it wasn’t panning out the way that we wanted it to. It wasn’t worth it for us to keep it open.
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. More interestingly, so you shift into the blogging world, with parenting being the natural topic, obviously, given your passion and your previous business. Then you just stumbled upon the green smoothie thing, which is fascinating. When you started the Instagram account, you didn’t think of that as anything other than, “Hey, I want people to get in on this as well”?
The Instagram Account That Started It All and the Importance of Being Willing to Pivot
Jadah Sellner: Yeah. With the parenting blog, we were going the old-school, online business model–we were praying for sponsorship, paid ads, affiliate links. Like, “This is how we’ll make our money.” That wasn’t working. The blogging industry was shifting in 2011, and the rage of generating income online was about creating ebooks.
We thought of like, “What is an ebook that we could create?” Green smoothies ended up being the one that we felt the most passionate and excited about sharing with other people. The Instagram account was really just to help us promote this ebook on our parenting website.
Brian Clark: Oh, I see. It makes sense, though. It’s a healthy option for families and all that. Then it took off. It became the thing.
Jadah Sellner: Yes, and we had no idea that it would take off. I think that’s an important lesson, even from the brick-and-mortar business and into the parenting blog into a green smoothie blog, is being willing to pivot. We were definitely willing to pivot in our business with going all-in on the green smoothie movement.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I remember from your presentation, I think, your initial sales were healthy. You were, of course, thrilled with them, but you really started to explore how to go about getting people engaged and really to pay attention in a way that can be tough sometimes with all the noise out there in social media and whatnot.
Was that when you started implementing your 30-day challenges, or did that evolve more gradually?
The Birth of the 30-Day Challenges: Proof Why Interaction Helps Build a Massive Email List
Jadah Sellner: Yeah. It was actually really almost the first thing that we did. Our website went live November 2012. By January 2013, we had our very first 30-day green smoothie challenge. It was just a free opt-in offer that we wanted to share with our community. “How can we get people from social media–from Instagram and Facebook?” We had all those followers over there, but how could we get them to our email list?
That was the birth of the free 30-day Green Smoothie Challenge. Before that, we had a free ebook. It was five green smoothie recipes, and we grew our email list to 2,000. We were like, “Woohoo, that’s amazing!”
Then we launch our first 30-day green smoothie challenge–New Year, New You–in January, and by the end of that challenge, we had 30,000 email subscribers. It’s the momentum.
Brian Clark: Yeah, and that was January of what year?
Jadah Sellner: 2013.
Brian Clark: Oh, wow. Okay. That’s a big list and a big jump in list.
Jadah Sellner: Yes.
Brian Clark: Well, of course, it’s the beginning of the new year. Everyone’s got resolutions to be more healthy. That sounds like it was a bit strategic in the timing, right?
Why Timing Isn’t Everything (and Why Creating Group Interaction Is)
Jadah Sellner: Well, timing was definitely on our side for that New Year, New You, and we really thought … we’re like, “There’s no way we’re going to grow our list again doing another challenge in April.” But we did our second challenge in April, and we doubled our list to 60,000 email subscribers.
We thought that it was just a timing thing, that it was just about New Year, New You, and in that first year, we went from zero email subscribers to 200,000 email subscribers with no paid advertising, no guest posts, barely any blog posts.
Everything was all about content on our social media platforms. The power of hosting a challenge for your community is that you get to court your community long-term versus the free ebook that someone gets and you hope that they read it. You hope that they take this online class, but now you’ve created a container of a timeline, a set timeline.
“We’re all in it together. We’re going to start on this day, and we’re going to end on this day together.” I think that is what people are craving, connecting to other human beings. That’s really what social media is supposed to be about–connecting and bringing people together, live and in real-time.
Brian Clark: Yeah, content is important, but really, what you’re talking about there is group interaction, right?
Jadah Sellner: Yes.
Brian Clark: It’s an event. It’s an experience. It’s not just words on a piece of paper now.
Jadah Sellner: Yeah.
Brian Clark: I’ve been doing this for a long time, and hey, that used to work because people didn’t give away free content. But times have changed. You’ve really clued into the nature of social media, which we need to get our content to spread–but you’ve added a participatory element, right?
Jadah Sellner: Yes, yes.
Brian Clark: Now, where did this come to you from? Did you see other people doing challenges online? Did you just feel like it was the right vehicle for this particular topic and product?
Using Personal Experience to Build a Product People Value
Jadah Sellner: We really were thinking about … how we create any product or any offering for our community is, “How did we do it? How did we get to this place? How did we get to the next logical step?” For me, it really just started with drinking one green smoothie a day. I didn’t change anything else about my diet, initially.
That was like, “How do we get them to adopt the same pathway that we took to create this habit in our own lives?” It was just like, “Don’t stress out about anything else, but buying these green smoothies.”
Another thing that we paid attention to was, it’s very overwhelming as a beginner, drinking leafy greens, that you kind of freak out, “Well, how much spinach, and how much kale?” That was the added thing that we wanted to include was a shopping list.
On social media, we’re just sharing free recipes. We’re sharing beautiful photos of raw ingredients, but how do we make this even easier for them? Having a shopping list, well, they can go to the store and feel like they have someone holding their hand so that they don’t use that as a barrier of not knowing how much to get and how much to put inside the blender. It’s all about making people’s lives easier and removing those barriers of not wanting to take action.
Brian Clark: Yeah. I’ve got a question for you. I am too lazy to make my own green smoothies, but that’s why I work hard–so I can go to Whole Foods and buy one.
I want to ask you about your favorite smoothie ingredients. So I think the recipe there is kale and spinach, of course. That’s the good stuff. Then there’s apple juice, strawberry, and some other sweet fruit, obviously, to make it taste good. Is there any concern with the sweet fruit, the sugar content in that? If it makes it taste better, are you like, “Go for it,” or do you think that’s bad?
Jadah’s Advice on Adding Sweet Fruits to Green Smoothies
Jadah Sellner: Yeah, I say if it makes it taste better, if your body will crave it the next day, go for it. Actually, we really target beginner green smoothie lovers, where we’re not for the hardcore yogis and raw foodists. We’re for the ones that don’t eat any veggies.
As long as you’re excited to drink it the next day, I say go for it. As you put more leafy greens, as your body consumes that, your palette also changes. There’s going to be a day for you where you’re going to be like, “This is actually too sweet for me, and I’d like to have less fruits.”
We don’t use fruit juices or anything like that. We really try to use just the raw, whole food ingredients. We don’t do any dairy. We don’t add any sugar, no maple syrup, honey, anything. It’s just, “How can we use the fruits to make that?” Then you can flip it and do more leafy greens and less fruits. It depends on your palette.
My business partner and co-founder Jen Hansard, she loves drinking veggie-based smoothies and doesn’t need that much fruit. I’m not a V8 drinker. I’m not a bloody mary drinker. I need it to be sweet, so I’ll always have more of that, the sweet fruits, in there. But my body is really happy with it.
Brian Clark: Good. You made me feel better. All right. So we’re not doing these challenges just to build an amazing email list. That’s certainly an enduring asset that you’re carrying with you, right? Every time you do one, your list doesn’t go away. They stick with you.
Jadah Sellner: Absolutely.
Brian Clark: But you do sell a product at the end of the challenge. Is that correct?
Jadah Sellner: Yes.
Brian Clark: Talk a little bit how that works.
How to Use a 30-Day Challenge as a Primer for a Paid Product
Jadah Sellner: So as I said, when you are hosting the challenge, you’re getting people ready to take the next logical step. For us, that was really just wanting to eat healthier meals. Like my body was like, “I don’t want to eat meat right now. This is really weird.”
I love like chicken wings. I love hot dogs, and all these things, but my body was telling me that it just needed a break from heavy processed foods. That’s the next logical step. After drinking one green smoothie a day for a certain amount of time, your body is actually ready to eat healthier, whole-food meals.
We surveyed our audience after our second free 30-day green smoothie challenge. “What are you struggling the most with when it comes to healthy eating?” It was all about meal plans. They want a magical chef in their kitchen. We all do. Just like, “How do we take care of that, take that pain away from them of having to think of what’s for dinner? ‘What do I have to eat each week?'”
We created a 21-day plant-based vegan-friendly cleanse called Fresh Start 21. That’s the product that the first time that we launched in July of 2013–so this was our third 30-day green smoothie challenge–in the first 10 days, we did $86,000 in sales.
Brian Clark: Amazing. That is really amazing. Yeah, you’re right. You’re priming people.
Jadah Sellner: Yeah.
Brian Clark: You’re getting them to take action. They’re feeling better about themselves. What’s the next step? And there you are with it.
The Power of a Simple Business Model
Jadah Sellner: Yes, it’s so simple. Our business model and how we nurture and love our community, our tribe, the business model seems so simple, but it makes it easier for us, as founders behind the business. It also makes it easier for the people that we serve, just gives them the simple next logical step on their journey. That’s what we’re really there for.
Brian Clark: Yeah, absolutely. I think it was the second to last night in the Philippines that you and I got to sit together on the bus and chat a little bit. You talked to me a little bit about where you’re going from here, that you feel incredibly blessed, yet there’s more that you want to do.
Talk to us a little bit about that. I’m all about the evolution. There is no ending point. We’re never going to be … you don’t get satisfied. You do the next adventure, right?
Why Jadah Is a Walking Billboard for Good and Why She Focuses on Love Over Metrics
Jadah Sellner: Yeah, I think that’s such a great question that you’re asking. I’ve realized that I am a walking billboard for good. When I learned about green smoothies and how it changed my life, I couldn’t not tell people about it. I had to tell my mom, “You’ve got to buy a blender. You’ve got to do this,” and really allowing that story and that movement to amplify through social media, through our website, through our products.
As we’ve been building this business, we’ve been building this amazing team culture. We do this thing every Friday called ‘Friday Love Notes,’ where we celebrate the transformation and the stories that are coming from our community. I just geek out on community-building and entrepreneurship. I know that there is a more loving way to build a business where you are focusing on love over metrics first.
Don’t get me wrong. I love making money because it means that every dollar that we make means someone said yes to their health. If you are building a business that serves people first and is about loving those people and really taking care of them, then the profits will follow. I am just a walking billboard for building a business with a foundation of love.
That’s really the next evolution of what I’m most excited to share with other people–how to stay connected to the people that you serve. So much we get caught in the online marketing world of numbers and million-dollar this and, “Got to build your list to this size.”
But we then become disconnected from why we truly started the business and who are we really excited to change their lives, and really staying connected to the people that you’re serving as your business evolves and grows. That’s what I’m stepping into.
It’s scary. We have a published book. We have this beautiful business, an amazing team, an amazing global community of millions of lives we’re touching. I’m just like, “Hey, I’d like to move into this next evolution,” where I almost feel like I’m starting from scratch. I think that is the power and the artistry of being an entrepreneur. We love creating to new things.
Why You Know When You’ve Found ‘Your People’
Brian Clark: Yeah, that really resonates with me because I obviously run this very healthy bigger company, Rainmaker Digital, but I’m so passionate about doing Unemployable. It’s not even about making money. It’s just these are my people.
Jadah Sellner: Yes!
Brian Clark: That matters. It matters to me. I remember–going back when I first discovered I was an entrepreneur, that that’s what my DNA was–I started seeing ways to make money everywhere. That’s how your brain flips, right? But 98 percent of them I would never do because, “Oh, god, can you imagine doing that all-day long?” Right?
Jadah Sellner: Yes, yes, so true.
Brian Clark: It’s very important to really, really care. That may sound kind of kumbaya, but it’s the truth because you’ve got to live with your work. Tell us a little bit about how you plan to exemplify this. What’s the next step? I know you’re speaking more. That helps.
Jadah’s Next Step: Helping Others Build Great Businesses and Feel More Connected to the Communities They Build
Jadah Sellner: Yeah. I really love … where I shine and get excited is to speak and share through voice. Being on this, being on a podcast, and sharing my words on stage is really exciting for me. Actually, my next step is supporting other people who want to build and feel more connected to their communities, to their tribes, and build their email lists strategically, but from a place of love–because I will go kumbaya on you here.
I’m actually creating a course called Build Your Challenge and showing people how to really love up on their community, but have a strategic sales funnel that takes people and primes them for that next step in their transformation. That’s just the beginning. I’m a big dreamer.
Like you said, these are my people. The entrepreneurial community, it’s my tribe. I am on the hunt to find as many ways as I can to serve that community of that it’s the work we can’t not do. I’m sure Unemployable podcast, not necessarily growing the revenue into what you’re building with Rainmaker. It’s adding, it’s supporting it, but it also is time away from really building it to that next level, but it’s just something that you can’t not do.
Those are the type of people that I really like to support and connect with. I have a mentorship lab where I’m helping other entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next level. I could geek out on this stuff for hours.
Brian Clark: Yeah. Let me say this. I am super supportive and excited that you’re doing a course on how to use these challenges because people have the hardest time building email lists. It really does take some creativity, and I think your approach to interactivity and all of that is really good. I’m also just terribly pleased that I found out just before we started this that you’re going to build it on Rainmaker.
Jadah Sellner: Yes! I’m so excited. I’m in love with Rainmaker, just the simplicity and all in one. If I started a business called Simple Green Smoothies, I like things to be simple, easy, and fun. Rainmaker is sexy. The back-end is sexy, and I don’t say that about back-ends of many people, like systems and tech.
Brian Clark: I’m not even going to touch that one. That’s awesome. All right. Well, tell us where we can find you in all your various locations and roles at this point. You’re wearing more hats than you used to.
How to Find Jadah
Jadah Sellner: Yeah, I’m a Gemini, so I can play these different roles, dreams, and aspirations. If you are interested in having free green smoothie recipes sent directly to your inbox, we host a 30-day green smoothie challenge several times a year. We have an awesome community on Instagram and Facebook, @simplegreensmoothies.
Our website is SimpleGreenSmoothies.com/30 if you want to sign up for the free challenge. If you are an entrepreneur that wants to build a business based on love and really connecting and nurturing your tribe, then definitely stay tuned with what I’m building over at JadahSellner.com.
Brian Clark: Awesome. Well, you have a new fan in me. I’m glad I got to know you. I will be watching because I think you’ll definitely be going places. Thank you so much for your time today.
Jadah Sellner: Thank you, Brian. It was great talking with you.
Brian Clark: Okay, everyone, I hope you got a lot out of that. I certainly did. She’s the best. RainmakerPlatform.com–head over there. Build your own business. Follow your dreams. Do that stuff. Whatever that may be, just keep going.