I attended the Recurring Revenue Retreat November 16-19, 2022 at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Orlando, Florida. The conference was “devoted to growing your business with recurring revenue through website services and digital products” and had eight speaker sessions, two “magic”mind groups and two networking events.
If you’re considering attending in the future, read on.
Mike Killen of Sell Your Service was the first speaker. Mike’s talk had the same title as his new book — Sell Futures, Not Features. His advice was to:
- Determine who you’re selling to. “I work with small businesses” is not a niche or a market. Think of a specific type of person who you would work with for free because you’d be able to help them so much (and they would be so happy that they would pay you after!)
- Determine the problem they’re having. What are they waking up at night worrying about? What do they care about?
Stephanie Hudson of Sweet Tea Marketing talked about accelerating your recurring revenue with Marketing GPS. Building websites and offering care plans is a good start, but what clients really need is marketing. Her solution is a fractional CMO and done-for-you marketing services for 7-figure businesses. She recommends searching for job postings for marketing managers and then reaching out to those companies with your offer.
You could charge $5K/month for these services and either do the work yourself or delegate (in house or with her company, FocusWP). She also has a course available for pre-order teaching you how to do this!
Thiago Carvhalo of Deer Designer presented on making “unlimited” work for recurring revenue services. Many people are intimidated by offering unlimited services, but Thiago had some recommendations:
- As long as what you’re offering is greater than the need of your clients, you’re giving them unlimited
- For every client who takes a lot, there is one who won’t
- Discovery calls aren’t needed when you have transparent pricing
- Have clear and constant communication plus quality control
- Have systems and processes for every single thing (Thiago showed us a screenshot of his Notion dashboard and it was AMAZING)
John Falke of Johnny Flash Productions gave his presentation on multiplying and automating recurring revenue by hiring rockstars. In the hiring process, he experienced pitfalls that he advises you to avoid — hiring without vetting, looking for a unicorn, feeling like you have to hire full time to hire quality, hiring people who are less talented than you and hiring people you wouldn’t want to hang out with.
John walked people through his “rockstar” process that includes requesting a video intro after the candidate sends in their application as well as offering a paid trial test before a live, video interview. He put his process together in a product that you can purchase at Hire a Rockstar. John also recommended Great by Choice; I’m a sucker for a good business book recommendation.
The second day opened with a panel about leveraging content, community and courses for MRR (monthly recurring revenue). The panel consisted of Beth Livingston of WP Project Manager’s Academy, Nathan Ingram of Monster Contracts and Joe Casabona of Podcast Liftoff.
The panelists had great answers to a number of questions:
- What content attracts? Anything that solves an important problem; plus, video content
- What wouldn’t you do again? Be inauthentic, not take time to define goals, move your community
- What business model is working for you? Freemium models, recurring membership options including group and 1:1 access
- What’s one piece of advice you’d give? Give generously with your content and time. Pay attention to your processes; if they solve problems for you, they’ll solve them for others
Chris Lema gave his presentation on the need for constant experimentation. Too often, we don’t experiment — we just try to get incrementally better without leaving our comfort zone. We don’t create a culture of experimentation and the cost of our experiments, when we do them, is too high. To combat this, find low-cost, low-effort, testable hypotheses. What do you want to do? Why do you think it will work? How will you measure the results? For example, let’s say you have a new hire. How will you know in six months that you like them?
Amber Hinds from Equalize Digital recommended growing your recurring revenue by offering accessibility monitoring and remediation plans. Accessibility is a rewarding area because you’re helping real people. Look for clients who value SEO, performance, quality code and who care about DEI and have strong corporate values around community. With those clients, you can use a tool like her Accessibility Checker to identify issues, fix issues and show progress.
Jason Resnick from NurtureKit had a great presentation on putting middle of the funnel sales on autopilot. When people express interest in your services but don’t buy, you can create a salesperson campaign. Jason had a ton of other great tips including asking yourself how each email can relate to a product or service you have, sharing “how I” vs. “how to” emails more often, personalizing your CTAs and showing up and being relatable to people.
Brad Morrison from GoWP was the last speaker. I enjoyed the lessons he shared from building a 7-figure business including simplicity, building little by little, using Profit First, embracing adversity (as periods of major growth follow adversity!) and trusting yourself.
Each afternoon, we met with our “magic”mind (mastermind) group for two hours. My group consisted of Kate (our mentor and facilitator), Tanisha, Cyndi, Debbie, Mary, Sarah, Kim and Manny.
Everyone had a turn in the hot seat:
- They briefly described a problem they were having in their business
- Everyone asked questions to better understand the problem
- We each offered a solution
- We voted on the solutions to determine what the person should do next
I’ve been part of masterminds before, so this was familiar to me, but there were two key differences.
- Kate encouraged us to be brief in our problem description. Sometimes people get bogged down in the explanation, clouding the issue. Keeping it brief ensured that we’d stay at a high level and not find ourselves in the weeds.
- We voted on solutions at the end. All of the solutions offered were excellent so it was often difficult to decide! The goal was to vote on what to do next though.
I won’t go into detail on each person’s issues, but common themes were — how to justify higher pricing to consistently have 5-figure months, ongoing scope and project creep with clients, how to expand the business but work less in it and what direction to go next in the business.
The issue that I brought to the magicmind was growing my new business, Scenic Route Digital. My goal is to help service businesses add an additional stream of income with a digital product. I’m starting a podcast/YouTube show to talk with people who have created digital products where I interview them about their experiences.
The group recommended two main routes:
- Build my audience, possibly by creating an additional lead magnet around all of the resources that someone would need in the digital product creation process. (I have a lead magnet about brainstorming a topic currently.)
- Work 1:1 with a few people to create my process, and then showcase the results on my website.
There were two networking events during the retreat — a welcome reception and an after-party. (There was also a speaker/vendor dinner for speakers and vendors; the same night, attendees could meet on their own for dinner.)
The welcome reception was held the very first evening after check-in. I was nervous, not having been to an in-person conference in over three years and not really knowing anyone.
I awkwardly introduced myself to a few people, and eventually connected with Adam Warner, who invited me to dinner with a great group of people. I enjoyed getting to know everyone and the deeper conversations.
The after-party was at Splittsville, a bowling alley at Disney Springs. When I left my room to find the bus, I ran into Robert Jacobi and ended up sharing an Uber with him. We talked about our families, our travels and Eastern European Christmas Eve dinners — it was one of my favorite parts of the trip! Everyone had a lot of fun bowling, eating and hanging out.
A few of us went back to one of the restaurants at the resort for drinks. Although most people knew each other well, I was glad to be part of the group and listen to their stories. I made it until almost midnight — a huge feat for me. (I did not play any 2AM volleyball.)
There were six vendors at the retreat. Each gave a 10-minute presentation between sessions and they were available to talk (and pass out swag) at their own tables.
- Cloudways — Managed WordPress hosting
- Deer Designer — Unlimited design for your business for a monthly fee
- GoDaddy Pro — Tools for managing sites, clients and projects
- Pathfinder SEO — SEO coaching, monthly reporting, checklist and keywords
- WP Roadmaps — Project Manager academy
- Your Biz Watchdog — Google Business Profile optimization and white label services
Connecting with others
At the start of the event, the organizers recommended that we use the event to connect with others and build our network. They also recommended that we set some goals using Nathan Ingram’s goal generator worksheet (view the simplified and extended versions).
It was great to connect with people in person, but no one had business cards so that I could follow up after! Some had digital business cards, like Kim at Boost Web Studio. She had a QR code easily accessible on her phone so people could scan it. Someone mentioned that they also had a phone case with their QR code printed on it, which I thought was genius! I quickly tidied up my social profile page and created a QR code to share.
Along those lines, I wish the organizers had an attendee directory so that I could connect with people after.
I was bummed that there wasn’t really anything about the conference on social media. The R3 Twitter account wasn’t active, and there was only a little bit in the private FB group. No one was really tweeting about the event, either.
The conference was held at Disney so that people could connect, relax and bring their family if they wanted to. I chose to go alone so that I could focus on the conference completely, and was glad that I did. I attended every event (with the exception of dinner the second night) and soaked up as much as I could. It worked for me to not have my time and attention divided, but many people brought their families and seemed to be happy doing both, so do what works for you.
I’m also not super into Disney and didn’t go to the parks or anything before or after the event, but a lot of people did.
Many speakers talked about offering additional services to increase your recurring revenue. Marketing, SEO, design, reputation management, Google business profile management, accessibility services — things your clients need in addition to a website and care. To be able to offer more services — hire a team, partner and/or white label.
Everyone who spoke had an offer:
- Direct services, like Deer Designer, NurtureKit or Equalize Digital
- Or a digital product geared towards their peers — here’s how I did a thing and you can too (like John Falke’s hiring course)
The speakers were there as part of a marketing effort, which makes me wonder:
- Would speaking fit in to your marketing efforts?
- Where and to whom?
- What is your offer?
What I’d do again
- Go! I love a conference, especially smaller ones. Everything was included, the resort was amazing and I loved being close to everything
- Take advantage of the early bird discount. I signed up and avoided the back and forth of “should I go” or “should I not go”
- Go by myself so I could focus on the conference and make new friends
- Bring my iPad and keyboard for taking notes
- Participate in everything
- Connect with as many people as I could (be realistic about this though; I always think I can connect with more people than I actually do)
- Check the weather! It was a little chilly and we were often indoors, so I’m glad I had a sweater
- Write a summary like this
What I would change
- Have my digital business card ready (repurposed social profile link/link in bio)
- Try to get people’s email addresses so I can follow up after
- Leave room in my suitcase for swag and/or not get so much swag
The Recurring Revenue Retreat will be held at the same time next year — November 15-18, 2023. Keep an eye on their website for tickets!