This summer has been a WHIRLWIND of activity behind the scenes at Creative Dream Headquarters. And now it's done! I've moved my whole business from Simplero to Access Ally, and Convert Kit.
This spring, I attended Rachel Rodgers’ Small Business Town Hall on creating equitable businesses (if you follow that link you can see the recording on that page - it's really good!)
I want to know what I can do to create more equality in the world, so I was REALLY happy about this town hall, which left me with a better understanding of what I can actually DO.
Long story short, my work after the Town Hall led me to discover that the owner of Simplero, who was the main supplier in my business (for hosting, automations, emails, my membership site + shopping cart), has taken a public and vocal stance against the dismantling of white supremacy.
This discovery was uncomfortable for me because of how HARD it is to move an online business like mine - like probably 3 months of work.
This led me to realize how often I had wanted to leave Simplero, and how trapped I felt by how hard it is to leave. The owner of Simplero has a long history of not following through on his promises, and many of those broken promises had negative repercussions on MY business - without an acknowledgement or apology.
I wrote all of these broken promises here, but then seeing them all in a list made me feel uncomfortable about sharing it in public. It felt gossipy and vindictive.
I will just say that when simply speaking the truth feels inflammatory you know you're not in a good situation.
So I left.
It took just over 2 months, and it was REALLY hard. It was also interesting to me that having this overwhelming all-consuming project actually helped take my mind off the state of the world, so that was an unexpected benefit. And this seemed like a good time to do it, since I am mostly quarantining at home anyway.
There were a lot of hurdles.
For example everyone I spoke to said it would be impossible to move the Creative Dream Circle the way it is (an active membership, with people receiving new content every week, and everyone in their own place in that content). I'd have to "end" the Circle and re-start it somewhere new. But Dream Book is an ONGOING course, I can't end it.
Finding the tech to support my vision was challenging. Most of the companies in this space are owned and run by men and have that same "tech bro vibe" that was frustrating me with Simplero.
Let me back up...
When I moved to Simplero in 2014, they had a totally different brand than what they have now. At that time they were marketing themselves as tools for spiritual entrepreneurs. They were talking about integrity in business, which I resonated with.
At that time, I WANTED to go with Access Ally. But it was out of reach both technology-wise and financially. Access Ally is a WordPress plug-in, so I would be putting it on MY website, so I would be responsible for security and functionality of the website. I just couldn't do that.
I chose to go with a third party option, a company that would host the classes themselves, and be responsible for that website. And I know that WAS the right choice at that time - a third party option is really good for a lot of online teachers and coaches!
The Dream comes to me
Access Ally HAD been out of reach but Simplero had re-structured their pricing plans (after promising to NEVER charge more for more contacts, or courses, or membership sites) and I was at the top tier, so at this point Access Ally is less expensive. And the internet has changed, I no longer feel comfortable on a regular shared hosting site for WordPress, so now I have premium secure hosting which means... Access Ally was no longer out of reach in any way.
Access Ally is a woman and minority owned business (VERY rare in this space) and they attended that same Town Hall are were also inspired and motivated by it.
And access Ally allows you to create a 100% customizable teaching website.
[It's AMAZING. And it's a HUGE GIGANTIC learning curve. Though they do have tons of tutorials and amazing support - it's not recommend to create a custom site on your own - here are a lot of Access Ally experts you can hire to help.]
I feels SO empowering to create my own platform for my work.
I got to do everything the way I wanted to do it!
100% customizable is so great... and so hard.
It means I did get to create every part of it just how I wanted to - but I had to CREATE every single thing, it wasn't already there for me.
The number of automations and moving parts to creating a functional online classroom is MIND BOGGLING. There were steep learning curves on steep learning curves.
I definitely overwhelmed my mind, which is already stressed from the current state of the world. I was getting vertigo and headaches almost every evening towards the end, my whole mind/body system was just over-taxed. (I had to give up coffee to keep them under control!) (I LOVE COFFEEEEEEE!)
(The headaches are gone now 🙌🏻 )
And then it was done.
I moved my people in late last week and set a whole day aside just for handing issues that may come up with the move... in this kind of project I don't know what I don't know, you know? But I had tested everything thoroughly. And Access Ally has AMAZING tutorials for every little thing.
And there were some hiccups of course. But on the whole everything went ok and we have an online home that FEELS LIKE HOME.
Access Ally needs a CRM for the automations, and I went with Convert Kit. The owner of Convert Kit was one of the presenters at that online town hall for equitable business which is where If found out about them. They are "tech bros" but they have outlined actions they are taking to be an anti-racist company and felt like the best option for me. They've also been helpful in getting my stuff moved over to them.
It was one of the Covert Kit people who showed me how to move everything WITHIN the active sequence - so making it possible to move my members to the new site without having them lose their place in Dream Book.
So yeah - that thing everyone said was impossible was completely possible - it did take just over 2 days, of just working on moving people, to move everyone, but I think that was 100% worth it.
Working with companies who are more in alignment with my values feels better.
I mean my new online classroom is WAY better. It's more flexible, more engaging and better looking.
The people who take care of the software CARE about the experience that my students have. And you can really see it in how the classroom works!
Simplero's values are more around supporting entrepreneurs in making more money. When there were issues with their classrooms, making it hard for my customers to engage - they didn't take those issues seriously because that's not where they are focused.
This experience showed me how important it is to understand MY values in a certain situation and then only work with people whose values match mine.
And I think I got better at spotting when people CLAIM to have a certain set of values but are actually acting from a different set of values.
I wish I had made this move sooner.
But I also know it all happened at just the perfect time.