Rebecca Bryan is a quilter, author, and entrepreneur behind Bryan House Quilts. She’s revolutionized the materials world with a unique fabric line and thread collection while also teaching in-person quilting workshops.
At the start of her journey, she was searching for a better way to support her family and make time for her art. Read on to find out how switching to an online subscription based membership brought Rebecca the financial success and peace of mind she sought.
Why did you decide to jump into knowledge commerce?
My quilting business started with the publication of my first book, Modern Rainbow Quilts. From there, I began to travel to teach at guilds and quilt shows around the United States. I continued to grow my workshop offerings with the publication of my second book, Modern Triangle Quilts.
Then, my husband took a new job, which moved our family with four school age kids over to the Netherlands. Living overseas made it unrealistic to travel back to the US to teach in person!
I’d been thinking about offering my workshops online, but this move was just the push I needed.
What was the first digital product that you launched? Why did you choose it?
When I first started, I chose to launch one of my workshops taught from my Modern Triangle Quilts book, “Design Improv with Triangles”. In the workshop, I guide the maker through a series of hands-on exercises resulting in them designing their very own Modern Triangle quilt blocks. I chose this class because it featured my most recent book and I recognized how much more in depth an online workshop can go when compared to a three-hour or six-hour in person workshop. (See my Equilateral Sampler Quilt, pictured in Rockport, Mass.)
Can you share more about the performance of your workshops that came with a one-time transaction?
I really enjoyed the whole digital experience with my students. For one, I found it completely surprising how much I enjoyed teaching on camera and via Zoom. I cannot overstate how incredibly (painfully!) camera shy I used to be, but showing up on camera for my students felt so rewarding. Plus, I got to know my students as we spent time together, even though it was virtual. The whole experience felt pleasantly delightful!
So, I began to offer more online workshops starting with a project of the year program. In quilting, we call these “Blocks of the Months”: each month, we make a new set of quilt blocks and then at the end of the year, we sew all the quilt blocks together to finish our quilt. Woohoo! (See Rainbow Remix, my 2018 BOM.)
What inspired you to offer a subscription based product?
As my catalog of “Block of the Month” programs grew to three, I realized I could provide my students with more value and support by housing all my “Modern Triangle” projects together in one membership. So in March of 2020, I opened the doors to the “Make Modern Triangles”, the official club for helping quilters create, make, and finish blockbuster modern triangle quilts.
Inside the club, members can choose exactly what project they want to make and they enjoy instruction and support from myself, and stay motivated to “bust their blocks” by working together in a community of like-minded quilts from around the world. The “Triangle Chatter” community is amazing! Everyday, I’m completely blown away by the project and progress photos our members share.
How did your audience react to your subscription?
Favorably, I’d say!
These Block of the Month products are such fun programs to put together from my perspective as the teacher. However, the whole experience really comes to life inside the community; the anticipation for the next step and watching piles of blocks grow; the commiseration when something goes wrong; the satisfaction of completing each step and saying “ta da!” together! It’s all amazing and all part of the camaraderie we all experience together, as a community.
What did you learn from starting your subscription that you take to heart running your business today?
Oh boy. The biggest lesson I learned, the hard way, is I create way too much work for myself. So, I’m constantly looking for ways to simplify.
When I first started my business, one of my main goals was being able to contribute to the support of my family without having to go get a “real” job. I started when my four kids were babies with the hope of growing my income to match that of said “real” job.
I wanted to create a business where I could work maybe 25% of my time at the computer and then the rest of my time creating in my sewing room.
But as a creative person who loves to teach, I’d get sidetracked by taking everything quilt I made and creating a product around it. As you can imagine, that gave me a lot of work to do! And that actually took me away from my sewing room and away from my goal.
To keep it simple, I now focus (mostly!) on my membership, paring everything down into essentially one offering.
What impact did starting a subscription based product have on your business?
By simplifying and focusing on building my membership, my business has doubled for the past three years (thanks Kajabi for those sweet, sweet analytics!). I’ve met my goal of building a business that can support my family and one where I’m not chained to my computer: I have time to create and make art.
I am so much less stressed. I feel great about the product I’m offering my members. I love watching my members create. And I have more time. I feel secure. That peace of mind frees up my bandwidth. It’s not perfect, but I know what I’m building, how to improve it, and I can see the growth and development coming in the next few years.
With my membership, there’s so much less stress. For the most part, I know my business revenue for the year. And I don’t feel like I have to teach everything new I’m working on or create a new product to sell. I can focus on providing fabulous content and connection for my members but also on creating for myself. Plus, I can be present and flexible to take care of my family.
How did Kajabi help you achieve those results?
My goal was and is and always will be simplification, so Kajabi made perfect sense. It’s so easy for an online business to get complicated real quick. Kajabi offers simplification, and I am here for it. Everything I need is in Kajabi, and with the exception of a few other tools (from the before times when I didn’t use Kajabi), I use Kajabi exclusively.
What advice would you give someone else who wants to start a subscription based business?
Lean hard into your “Beta” version and keep it “Beta” for a longer than you think you need to. I wished I’d kept mine in beta mode longer. From your Beta, find what works, do more of that. And then spend time and energy polishing and perfecting what’s working. Keep it simple and stay laser focused on simplicity. And start with your beta now; the longer you wait, the more complicated it gets!
Kajabi is the best way to turn your knowledge into income
At Kajabi, we’re working to build a world where everyone can build a life and business around their knowledge. Like in Rebecca’s experience, we’re here to support people who are looking to build predictable, stable revenue streams so they can focus on their goals - whether they are business or personal.
With Kajabi, you can sell your expertise online. Create online courses, establish membership sites, offer coaching programs, host a podcast, and sell other digital products. Plus, you'll get marketing tools like a website, CRM, email marketing, landing page templates, and helpful analytics to help you spread the word about your products and earn more revenue.
Fully explore what Kajabi has to offer and start building your subscription business during your free 14-day trial of Kajabi today!
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