Welcome to the Design Your Dream Life series.
If you’re new here, this is a series where I am interviewing people who have designed their dream life. You can find all the interviews here on the Design Your Dream Life Page.
My hope is that you’ll be inspired to design your dream life, just like these people have. If you have any questions of comments for them, drop them in the comments!
They won’t all be online entrepreneurs or multi-millionaires, but many of them will be because, well, that’s my jam.
This is the first post in the series, and I couldn’t be more excited to have Caitlin Pyle here to share her story. Truly, this post is SOOO good! You guys. Read. It. All. Caitlin
To give you some context, Caitlin’s official bio reads: Caitlin began her work-at-home journey in 2011 after getting brutally fired from her $16-per-hour corporate job. Starting with a freelance proofreading side hustle, she quickly replaced her income by freelancing, then transitioned to helping others build their own work-at-home income using the power of the internet. Caitlin’s business has since evolved into a multimillion-dollar media company, and she’s been featured in notable media outlets such as Forbes.com, The New York Post, Business Insider, Fast Company, and Foundr.
Caitlin’s main website is bcpmediainc.com.
Here were my questions for Caitlin!
Finish the sentence “I knew I was living my dream life when…”
There were a few milestones for me. I first knew I was living my dream life in April 2015 when I spent a week in New York City, but I still made $11,000 while I was traipsing through the Big Apple!
Then it was in February 2016 when I hired my first virtual office manager, trained her, and then went on a three-week vacation with my husband for our five-year wedding anniversary. That happened right in the middle of our year-long South America trip. Even though I had been living and working in South America for six months already, I was still doing almost everything in my business on my own. I was working 14-hour days and was exhausted. I needed a break, but I was afraid to fully hand things off to another person.
We got back from South America in July 2016 and decided we wanted to build our dream house. There were some rough patches along the way where it certainly didn’t feel like we were living the dream life, but little things occur to me on a regular basis that remind me that we truly are. Even something as simple as buying exactly what I want at the grocery store without checking the price reminds me that I am financially free.
What was your life like before all this that led you to make a change?
My life was mediocre and average before these mindset and lifestyle shifts. I had not a 9-to-5 but an 8-to-5 job. I spent the best hours of every weekday sitting on a bar stool at a table-like surface. Management was militant about time. They owned me from 8:00a.m. until 5:00p.m. We got in trouble if we clocked in at 8:02a.m. and weren’t allowed to clock out a single minute before 5:00p.m. Even after I got fired, I didn’t believe I could earn more than $40,000 or so per year. I didn’t make the connection between more skills and a higher income.
I wasted a lot of time feeling like a victim, feeling scared, and not taking responsibility for my results. Like many people, I didn’t think I could learn anything new… but looking back I think there was also a part of me that believed I shouldn’t have to learn anything new. I did all the right things, you know? I was valedictorian, top of my class in college, got a degree… shouldn’t things just work? Shouldn’t I just be successful?
Then at some point I woke up and realized I’d been living in the delusion that college somehow entitled me to success. I mean, that’s what we’re taught, isn’t it? To be successful, you have to go to college. I don’t think there’s a lie in the world more widely believed than that one. Somehow we expect that all kinds of lucrative opportunities will be waiting for us when we walk across the stage with that glorified piece of dead tree.
The reality is we’re prepared for almost nothing after a 4-year degree other than to be a cog in someone else’s wheel. It took a lot of time — between 2009 and 2014 — for me to figure out that if I wanted a better opportunity, nobody was going to hand it to me. I had to create my own opportunity. I had to create my own success. And slowly but surely, that’s what I did.
What’s your lifestyle like now?
I work at home and love it. My home is my oasis. I get up in the morning and immediately — or almost immediately — do a handful of things to get myself into a positive frame of mind before I ever start working.
Usually I’ll spend 10-30 minutes reading before I even get out of bed. Then I put on my workout clothes and do 15-45 minutes of movement that wakes me up and makes me feel strong. For the last four years, I’ve done barre workouts paired with cardio on a Jumpsport fitness trampoline. I jump on it while I watch my favorite TV shows! After my workout, I make a quick nutrient shake (I use Garden of Life Raw Organic Meal — it has 44 superfoods!!) and take 1-2 minutes to breathe before I start responding to email.
I like to set timers when I work — especially when it’s something I don’t want to do! — because it encourages me to get it done in the time frame allotted instead of dragging it out!
In my free time, I love getting together with friends to enjoy good food, wine, and conversation — maybe some games. I love trying new restaurants, taking walks with my dog and husband, and sometimes just staying home to relax.
How many hours per week do you work?
Right now I work 2-4 hours a day, 3-4 days a week. So anywhere from 6-16 hours a week of dedicated work time.
A lot depends on what projects are going on — we definitely have seasons of hustle and seasons of recharge, so when I’m in a “hustle” season, I work a lot more.
I try to take Mondays and/or Fridays off. Sometimes I work on the weekends if I want to. It wasn’t always like that, though — remember the 14-hour days of 2016! — and I’m almost embarrassed to admit how “little” I work now, BUT… the work I do is fast-paced, intense, and only I can do it. After 4 hours of intense work, I am usually wiped. I describe it as “hitting a wall.”
When you build this kind of business, you have to learn to delegate or you’ll drown — and I was definitely drowning when I hired my first virtual office manager back in February 2016. Although I was scared to hand things off to someone else, the moment I did, my life dramatically improved.
I now have more mental energy to focus on doing the things only I can do, like interface with my audience and create the vision for continued growth and impact for the company.
How do you make money?
I’ve also invested capital in growing several other content brands (such as TranscribeAnywhere.com and ScopeSchool.com) in exchange for a share in the resulting revenue. I also do affiliate marketing and occasionally participate in affiliate launches and contests.
In the near future, I plan to offer a high-level mastermind retreat for a small group of 8-10 budding entrepreneurs — LIVE at my home!
How long did it take for you to make $1k per month?
Since I began my journey as a freelance proofreader, I got to $1k per month pretty quickly — within a month.
When I started my first blog in November 2014, I generated $1k also within about a month with the 1-on-1 training program that eventually became my first online course.
I launched my first course in February 2015 and generated $3900 in the first week. I had an email list of 220 subscribers when I launched. It doesn’t take much to start generating $1k a month, but it *does* take skill. I think that’s a common mistake people make — they want the money, but they aren’t willing to learn the skills they need to earn it.
- Side note from Natalie- I launched my first course using the strategies in Six Figure Blogger. Highly recommend it if you want to make money online selling courses.
How long did it take for you to make six figures per year?
Things grew quickly with that first blog. We grew to $100,000 in less than 90 days; to $1,000,000 in 15 months, and now our revenue is between $200,000 and $300,000 per month.
BCP Media generated $2.1 million in 2017 and we expect to reach $5 million in 2018.
HOWEVER… I started proofreading professionally in 2009 and didn’t make it my primary income stream until 2012.
I grew a freelance business from $0 to $45,000 per year before I ever started my blog.
They say “overnight success” is often 10 years in the making, and whoever “they” are… they’re right! I never would have succeeded as a digital entrepreneur had I not succeeded as a service provider (proofreader) first. I started at the bottom just like everyone else.
Side note from Natalie – I LOVE this quote – “I believe I am made for more. I deserve to succeed financially. My past doesn’t dictate my future. If I can solve problems, I can make money.” This is the manifesto for Caitlyn’s Work-At-Home Heroes Facebook group. This photo was taken the day that she launched the Work-At-Home School program.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting out that you know now?
Mindset is everything. When I first started my blog, I was so convinced it would fail that I almost never started.
The day I bought the domain for ProofreadAnywhere.com, I said, “I give it six months.” I didn’t believe I’d keep it up for longer than that, but I was willing to give it a shot.
There were multiple times between 2011 and 2014 where I said to myself I’d never earn more than $40,000 or so per year — and I believed I’d be “just a proofreader” until I was 80. I didn’t believe I had the capacity to learn new things; I didn’t realize that learning how to do more stuff was the key to earning more income. I had no idea.
I also wish I knew back then that money is not a scarce resource.
Because I was so convinced that my project wouldn’t survive longer than six months, I was hesitant to put ANY money into it. I did everything myself. Once I finally did invest money into it, my income skyrocketed. Now I know that if you want to see your bank account balance go up, you have to be willing to see it go down a little bit first. There is a big difference between spending and investing.
To this day, I still fight the scarcity mindset, even though my husband and I have amassed more than $2 million in our investment portfolio.
The scarcity mindset is hard to shake — I grew up seeing my parents fight about money, I witnessed the family business fail, and like many people, I was conditioned to believe my income was determined by what degree I had.
Now, I know that I have the ability to generate as much money as I want; I’m only limited by my skills and my actions.
What advice would you give to someone who is starting out and wants to design her dream life?
1) Again, mindset is everything. You can actually live a version of your dream life today. Right now! You can do that by choosing to treat yourself well no matter where you are in your journey. Don’t wait until you reach your goal to allow yourself to be happy; choose to be happy now because you deserve it now. You cultivate happiness from the inside — money and material possessions only make us feel good for a moment. True happiness is something we can generate anytime we want. We often trick ourselves into thinking our reward is money, the nice house, the car, or the recognition. But your true reward — and what makes all of the hard work worth it — is the person you become along the way.
2) Focus on learning skills that solve other people’s problems — that alleviate people’s pain — and financial success will follow. A lot of us start out seeking to solve only our own problems. Usually, that problem is that we need more money. Our focus is on me, myself, and I. That kind of focus incites a lot of fear and self-doubt because in our minds, it’s ALL on us. But if we flip the switch and start thinking about other people — and paying attention to their problems! — your fear and self-doubt dissipate because now you know that making money is not about you. It’s about solving other people’s problems. Solve problems, make money. It’s really that simple.
3) Start, and then don’t give up. Many people who believe they’ve failed never failed at all — they just gave up. You might look at someone like me and think you’ll never get here. I thought the same thing back in 2014. I looked at other entrepreneurs who were two, three, four, even ten years ahead of me, and I almost never started at all because I just couldn’t see how it was possible that I’d ever get to that level. So often we try to understand every step of the process before we even have the guts to start on Step 1. Here’s the thing: Step 58 won’t make any sense until you’ve completed Steps 1-57. So don’t waste mental energy trying to understand all the steps before you take action. Just start at Step 1, then go to Step 2, and so on. Everyone who’s gotten to Step 58 — and far beyond! — all started at Step 1!
A Final Note!
THANK YOU to Caitlin for sharing her story, giving such valuable advice, and taking the time to answer my questions.
I’m so in love with Caitlin’s story. She is absolutely killing it! What I love most is her honesty, hustle, and value of mindset over everything. (This is so similar to my growth and beliefs!)
Caitlin is a queen! And she certainly is living the Design Your Dream Life motto. A big thank you, Caitlin!!
Are you inspired by Cailtlin?! Let her know in the comments!
P.s. If you want to start a blog, you can check out these free resources: