Your Biggest Vision Episode Ep. 12- Ruth Soukup

Ruth Soukup, Creator Elite Blog Academy, Blogger behind Spending Less, Living Well, and New York Times Best Selling Author.

Ever wondered the true potential behind blogging? Maybe you’ve liked the idea of having a creative outlet or a hobby blog, and even making some extra money, but haven’t thought really big about the potential of a blog? Today’s guest will debunk any hesitations you may have about blogging.

Ruth started her first blog, Spending Less, Living Well, over seven years ago. It started as a couponing blog with hopes that she’d be able to retire her husband so he could be a stay-at-home father. Since then, Ruth has gone on to create one of the most popular resources for building a profitable blog out there, Elite Blog Academy, she’s authored eleven books and has become a New York Times Best Seller, she is the host of the Do It Scared podcast, and her most recent book, Do It Scared, interviewed 4,000 women to understand fear and support them in moving past it.

Needless to say, a blog is a powerful thing! Check out this episode to hear:

  • How and why Ruth started a seven-figure couponing blog, against all odds.
  • How Ruth battled debilitating depression and even uses it to keep her strong today.
  • What advice Ruth gives to those just starting out on their blogging or entrepreneurship journey.
Ruth is a New York Times best-selling author, blogger and creator of Elite Blog Academy. Click through to hear her story from zero to seven figure business.

Podcast Episode

Transcript of Episode with Ruth Soukup

Hi everyone welcome back to Your Biggest Vision I am your host, Leah Gervais. I’m very excited that you’re here and very, very honored to have Ruth Soukup here with us today. I’m going to tell you about her officially in a second, but on a personal level I have read your blog for years. Your blog was one of the things that inspired me to start years ago and I just met Ruth, for everyone listening here in New York, and she is the nicest person. Ruth Soukup: I’m not scary, apparently, I’m scary, I got told that this weekend. Leah Gervais: People thought you were scary? Ruth Soukup: Not at the event. No, my friends told me that. They were like “you don’t know how scary you are.” I’m like, “really, I’m scary?”. That was news to me. So you just never know. Leah Gervais: Well you didn’t scare me, but you certainly are very accomplished so maybe people are just nervous. But anyway thank you so much for doing this with me. We’re just here having a beer so yeah, cheers. Ruth Soukup: This is awesome for me because normally I’m on keto. But I’m cheating right now, so I’m enjoying this beer a lot, you have no idea. Leah Gervais: Good, good, you deserve it. So on a bit more of an official level, Ruth is a New York Times bestselling author, she is dedicated to helping people break through fear and create a life they love. Her top ranked Do It Scared podcast ,which I love, and her popular blog Living Well, Spending Less. Through these, she provides easy to follow guidance for following your dreams and reaching your goals. She’s also the founder of the Living Well planner and Elite Blog Academy, as well as the author of five best selling books. She has a new one coming out which she’s going to tell us about as well called Do It Scared. You can look out for that in April. So just thank you again. Ruth Soukup: Well, thanks so much for having me. This is awesome. I’m excited to be one of your first guests. Leah Gervais: You and me both. So my podcast is all about your vision and what it’s like to have to fight for your vision even when things seem like they are all working against your vision and I know that you went from having a coupon blog to a seven figure business. So take us back before you even had the blog and what you kind of envisioned for your life and your career before any of this even happened. Ruth Soukup: Oh well hopefully this will make people who are listening feel better for not having a vision if you don’t have a vision, because I certainly didn’t have a vision at that point. When I first started my business, I was a stay at home mom of two little girls, ages one and three. Really, I was not looking to even start a business. I was just looking for something to do that wasn’t going to target and my husband and I were fighting a lot about money. And because I was the mom of a one and three year old, I had nothing to do except go to Target and that was causing a lot of problems. So, I really started out of desperation, more than anything else, just trying to figure out something to do. I was trying to, I guess I don’t even know if I would have said I was trying to find a vision, I was trying to find myself really. Ruth Soukup: So, I started this blog and right away, I discovered that there was this whole online world of blogs and bloggers and people were making money doing this. I was like, “oh my gosh, there’s like a whole other world out there that I didn’t even know existed”. I had been in the business world before I had kids. But my husband and I had always agreed that one of us would stay home with the kids. We didn’t care which one and we had actually taken turns a couple of times. At that point, I was a stay at home parent and not loving it. So all of a sudden I saw this potential and I was like, “oh my gosh, I’m going to do this, I’m going to make enough money blogging that you can quit your job and stay at home and I can work”. Ruth Soukup: He was like, “honey, that is the stupidest thing that you’ve ever said, you cannot make money on a blog”. I was like “I can, and I will and I’m going to prove it to you”. So then from then on, and even then, I don’t know if I had a vision. Except to say that my vision was to figure out… my original vision was just to figure out how to make it work and how to actually make enough money that he could quit his job and that took about two and a half years. Leah Gervais: Okay, so I know it’s always hard looking back to when you had that moment of telling your husband, I’m going to make enough so that you can leave your job. Could you truly envision it? Could you feel it? Or was it sort of a pipe dream at that point? Ruth Soukup:  Oh, well, I could feel it. But it was also like a total pipe dream. I talk about this actually a lot. It felt crazy. I mean, he thought it was crazy, my friends thought I was crazy. They thought I was nuts, because here I was, not only starting this weird blog about couponing. They thought couponing was weird. I mean, much less, the whole blogging part. My friends were not couponers, that was not my circle. So they sort of were a little judgy about the whole couponing thing. Then I was making videos at the grocery store, I’d run into them, they were embarrassed saying that they knew me. They would kind of laugh at me behind my back, but I didn’t care. I don’t know if I would call it a vision at that point, but it was a goal and it was something that was driving me and even if nobody else could see that it was possible, I knew that it was possible. I didn’t know how it was gonna work, but I knew I could do it. I just kept at it. Leah Gervais: I’ve heard you tell on your podcast before about even the bank teller making fun of you. Ruth Soukup: Yes! She was so snotty. Even to this day, I can still hear her voice in my head. It was bad. Coupons, for the record, are not glamorous. That is not a glamorous way to make a living. But I’m proud of those coupon days. Leah Gervais: Yeah, good for you and you know I think that the two years that it took you for to have your husband leave his job. You know, I think we all know intuitively that none of us start on top, we all have that fuzzy phase. But it’s so much easier said than done to stick through it during that fuzzy. So do you have any specific things that worked really well for you during that time when your vision was… you know, sometimes you start something and then all the sudden it actually feels even further than when you were dreaming of it. Because you’re like, wow, now I’ve started it and I have no idea how to get there it was easier to just talk about it. So, are there tools for you or tips? Ruth Soukup: I always believed that I could do it and I was very determined to do it. But I would read books, probably the first six months that I was blogging there wasn’t that much out there on blogging at that time, because I started in 2010. So internet businesses and all this stuff were very new still, there wasn’t a lot out there. But I remember I read Darren Rouse, who’s a pro blogger; I read his book, like 50 times in the first six months. He was the voice in my head saying, you can do this, this is possible, you can do it. He wasn’t actually saying that, but in my mind, he was and I would read as much as I could. I would read all these different articles. I would just try to keep filling up with encouragement in order to keep me going. Leah Gervais: The belief in that anyone had in you, you relied on that, including the belief in yourself. Ruth Soukup: Yes. Yeah, because there weren’t a lot of people that believed that it was possible because nobody was really doing it. I was the first one of anybody I knew, to actually make it work. That was when my husband really quit his job. Then that was when sort of when it all blew up and people were like, oh my gosh, how are you doing this? That’s when I wrote my book How to Blog for Profit Without Selling Your Soul and trying to answer that question. But up until that point, it was sort of just this. You know, it’s so easy  when I talk about it… when I go on interviews like this it’s like you know, I built my business from zero to you know, last year we did $5.3 million dollars. So in eight years, I built this multi-seven figure business with 15 employees. It’s this huge thing and when you look back, eight years, man, that does not seem like a long time. When you look back and think, man, it only took you two years to go from zero to retiring your husband. That doesn’t seem like a long time either, right. But when you’re in it, to your point, it feels… every week feels like an eternity. When you know how it end, it’s easy to feel like it’s not a long time, but when it’s this nebulous future that could be a week, it could be a month, it could be five years, before you’re making any money, it feels like forever. Ruth Soukup: But there’s so many people, I think that quit right before they strike gold. So close. You’re so close, just don’t quit. That’s where I just would tell anybody all the time, you just have to keep going because you never know when that moment is going to be. I certainly didn’t know. When I look back, it seems fast. But at the time, it did not seem fast. Leah Gervais: Sure. Well, and it’s so amazing to hear you talk about when you were starting out, and there weren’t that many resources and you read pro blogger over and over because, you know, now I’ve been doing this for about three years. If I were to think of like the go to source it would be Elite Blog Academy. So to think that you you made that like, what were you doing before your own course was there? Ruth Soukup: Honestly, that was one of the reasons I was so passionate about doing the Elite Blog Academy because it wasn’t… when I first wrote that book, How to Blog for Profit, that was not my audience. I did not write about the business side of blogging or anything I wrote about coupons and saving money and living well, and spending less. But I had so many people asking and then I realized I could be the voice in people’s heads telling them to keep going and now I am. I mean we almost 10,000 students in 60 countries on Elite Blog Academy. We’ve had just like the craziest success over the last five years of just watching people build these six and seven figure amazing businesses and it’s so neat to see how that builds and that the potential that you have as just an online business owner to impact people, but then for that impact, to reach even more people and for them to reach people. It all just keeps growing exponentially and it’s really, really cool. Leah Gervais: That’s so amazing. That must be so rewarding. Ruth Soukup: It is. Leah Gervais: So how many years into it, did you hit seven figures? Ruth Soukup: I hit my first seven figure year was 2015. Leah Gervais: Okay, so about five years into it. Awesome. Yeah, that’s amazing. You built a seven figure business in five years. Ruth Soukup: Yeah, when you think of it that way, it is amazing. Most of the time, I feel like as an entrepreneur, most of the time you feel like I have no idea what I’m doing. I don’t know. Every day I’m like this might work, it might not work, we’ll have to see. Leah Gervais: We’re having beer at 4:00 o’clock. Ruth Soukup: That’s just the way it goes. I mean, you’re always trying new things, throwing spaghetti against the wall. And the benefit of being in it a little bit longer is that at least I have some things that I know work. There are parts of my business where we have the numbers to like, if we do x plus y, we will get z, that makes sense. We can repeat things but we’re still always like, if you want to keep growing and keep evolving, you have to… it’s a fast moving world, right? So you have to keep up on new stuff too. So, there’s always a part of our business that’s trying new things like we’re doing some new things this year. We have no idea if it’s going to work. I’m like, should we set a goal, should we not set a goal? I don’t know if it’s going to work. We’ll see what see what happens. But we also have things that are proven products that we know will work, Leah Gervais: Right. That, I think, was a big, turning point for me. I’m sure for so many listening, if you’re in the new faces, and you don’t have that equation that’s proven yet, get that down, and then things become a lot more fun. Yes. Because then not everything’s a question of, will I make money? Yes. So, Ruth Soukup: Yeah and be careful about trying too many things all at once. That’s what I tell my students all the time, you’re just throwing spaghetti against the wall, you’re going to see what sticks. But the danger is that sometimes people are so busy throwing the spaghetti that they forget to turn around and look and see what’s sticking because you want to do more of the things that stick and fewer of the things that aren’t sticking. Leah Gervais: Right, right. Yeah, that’s very good advice when you’re on your own and it is ery true. So switching gears a little bit, one of the things you’re very open about his mental health and how you have gone through such a huge business transformation, but also personal transformation and how your business has has changed how you feel mentally, and I want you to feel open to share, whatever you like about this it’s so personal, but just in context of this show, I’m sure you had moments where you did not see the vision and if you’re depressed, you don’t see the vision and how you keep fighting for something that isn’t there for you at the time. Ruth Soukup: Yeah, well, that’s a great question. So when I was in my early 20s, I went through really bad depression. I mean, we’re talking like off the deep end, multiple suicide attempts. I was hospitalized for two and a half years really, really, really bad, bad depression. I was on all sorts of medications. Then when those didn’t work, they did electroshock therapy. I mean, like, seriously like even like straight jacket like crazy. So this was like a massive like massive breakdown and through all of that I ended up I was married at the time I had gotten married in college to totally the wrong guy and ended up divorced, bankrupt, and so I found myself in my you know, at 23 or 24 like basically bankrupt divorced, crazy, I dropped out of college all alone. When you’re depressed for two and a half years like that level of depression people don’t stick around they try at first to be supportive but I was not a fun person to be around and so pretty much lost all my friendships and everything along the way and so kind of like getting to that point of just realizing I have nothing that was definitely a rock bottom moment for me and but it also like time taught me how to how to fight back too. I had no choice when you hit rock bottom, there’s nowhere to go up. It took me a really long time, I got a new therapist, we started just talking not about like all the bad things that have ever happened to me. But literally like, here’s how you go to the grocery store, here’s how you get a job. Why don’t you get a dog and just like really, really normal stuff. Eventually I did end up finishing my degree and getting that really good job and getting my life back together. But it was just slow, slow, slow, slow, slow, but I think what that taught me first of all, it taught me really good coping skills because I’ve been depression free now since then. How long was 15 years? Um, yeah, so that part is great. But it also taught me that no matter how badly you’ve messed up your life, you can always fight back, I don’t think there’s anyone on the planet that has screwed up worse than I have in that many different ways. Ruth Soukup: If I can come back from something like that and build a seven figure business and have a great husband and two beautiful healthy, healthy kids, then there’s literally hope for anybody on the planet. I think that helps me even now it’s not like I don’t ever have down days or days where I feel like oh my gosh, what am I doing. But I also really just understand to give myself grace on those days and to have really healthy coping mechanisms. I do practice a lot of self care in my life to make sure that I’m getting enough sleep, and that I’m getting enough exercise, and that I’m eating well and taking breaks when I need them. So that I can always maintain that that high level of mental health because I’m not gonna lie, having a business is a huge amount of pressure. It’s a huge amount of pressure when you’re just starting out and you don’t know if you’re going to make it, but once you get to a point where it’s the size that mine is. I have a team of 15 people whose livelihood depends on me. There’s a certain level of revenue that we have to meet every single month because I have to pay the bills. So it’s just, there’s just more zeroes, right? The same stress but more zeros and it’s a different kind of stress. Leah Gervais: I bet that you haven’t gotten this, is one of the reasons you’re such a great mentor and teacher to people as well because having gone through what you’ve gone through you, I’m sure can see people through their fullest potential and not see them as victims because you know, that if they go through something hard they can get out of it, just like you did. Sometimes people really need to be, you know, sometimes people don’t see that they don’t think they can handle things and you know they can. Ruth Soukup: That’s probably true, I don’t accept a lot of excuses so it’s, it’s funny, I have a very tough love mentality. I love helping people but I will not B.S. you. I have a mastermind group that I coach and sometimes I come down with really hard on them because I will call call them out like instantly as soon as I see limiting belief popping up or excuses being made at that. That doesn’t fly in my group and yeah it’s a little bit scary I guess that’s why they called me scary. Leah Gervais: Well you know, people are paying you to be their friend. What they need is not a friend, they have friends. It’s hard, it’s hard because you don’t want to be mean but you also care about their success so great. Well that’s thank you for sharing that and opening up with that I can’t believe everything that you’ve done and yeah, I don’t know there’s a lot to be said for for hard times. I guess some of the time. Ruth Soukup:  I think so. I mean, I look back on it and I have zero regrets. I wouldn’t wish depression on my worst enemy. I wouldn’t wish any of the stuff that’s happened to me in my life, the bad things on anybody, but at the same time, I’m not regretful of any of them. I think that every hard thing that we go through makes us stronger and more capable and more empathetic and just able to appreciate what you have even more. You can’t have the sweet without the bitter right two work together. Leah Gervais: Yes. It’s so true and just like in the beginning phases of business, it’s always harder in the bitter moments to remember like, this is part of it, but it is a good reminder. So how have you been, you know, starting a business out of nothing, building into multiple seven figures, having a staff of 15 people and being a working mother, how do you think that that’s changed your daughter’s view? How do you think it’s empowering them to be higher visionaries for themselves? Ruth Soukup: Well, I’m not sure that it is. It’s funny because then my kids don’t actually remember anything other than me doing my blogs, they they were so young when I started and then they were so young when my husband came home that there’s a lot of things like they think it’s normal to have a stay at home Dad. They don’t realize how different that is. Sometimes they do a little, sometimes they’re a little weird because you know they don’t have any friends whose Dad’s stay home or anything like that honestly like they don’t even know that I know how to do laundry that is completely foreign to them of just the the normal day to day stuff is what he handles. Whereas mommy always works and mommy goes to the office. Ruth Soukup: So, I hope that someday it makes a difference to them. I kind of love that they are going to grow up thinking that it’s normal for women to kick butt and that is just what they see and that’s their new normal. One thing though, that we really have started dealing with now is that you know, my business has done pretty well and so with earning more money comes a certain level of perks. We get to go on really great vacations and you know travel really well and stay really nice places. So they’ve started to ask on occasion like, “oh, are we rich now?” And I’m like, well, I’m rich , you’re not rich. Yeah, so I’m really just trying to get them to understand that my money is my money, if you want money you have to work for your money. Money comes from work and so it’s funny because they’re starting to be a little bit more entrepreneurial they like to sell things. My office is right downtown, right across from the farmers market on Saturday, so they go on my porch and sell things. So I mean, I really want them to understand that they have the potential to do anything, anything in their lives, but they have to do it. Yeah, I don’t want to raise entitled kids, I worry about that alot. Leah Gervais: Yeah, that’s a very good point. That’s a good point. Okay. Final question before our quick vision questions. Just what would you tell yourself? I’m going to go with actually five years ago. So when things probably were starting to pick up, would you ever imagine that you’d be where you are now? Ruth Soukup: I think, jeez five years ago that would have been, yeah, right when my husband quit his job to stay home was about about five years ago. I remember right after that, actually, he left his job, and I was so terrified for being the sole breadwinner of the family on, you know, an online business that I wasn’t even sure was like as an actual thing. At that point. I still didn’t quite believe that it was a real thing. And so I was so terrified that it could go away at any minute that I remember hustling like crazy and so much so that my income tripled probably the next month after he left his job. We’ve never looked back since. So, I think that I would tell that girl because I look back and go oh my gosh, on the one hand that fire I probably needed that fire underneath me to just like really go after it full force but at the same time to just say okay relax like am I going to be okay just be more strategic. I think I could have made some strategic decisions at that point that would have gotten me to where I am faster versus what I did which was just to say yes to everything. Leah Gervais: And you probably, I always think like I would have just enjoyed it more if I just chilled out, but yeah it’s always in hindsight. Ruth Soukup: That is so true. Leah Gervais: Okay, awesome. So quick questions. What is your go to podcasts and book, you’re allowed to pick yourself. Ruth Soukup: Yeah, absolutely. It is the Do It Scared Podcast. My favorite business book, this one goes really well with when you’re talking about vision, I read it every single year is Good to Great by Jim Collins and I absolutely love it. And also, if you’re starting to grow team, I highly recommend Traction. Leah Gervais: Okay. Okay, awesome. And what’s one thing you do daily to keep fighting for your vision? Ruth Soukup: That’s a great question, so I have a team and we have a daily huddle every single day. Leah Gervais: Wow, that’s great. Are you all in person? Ruth Soukup: Nope. Only three of us are in our office which we have a headquarters building in Florida. Everybody else is virtual. We meet on zoom. And that I find, is just so important for the entire culture of the team that daily huddle. Leah Gervais: What is if you had to choose one thing you’re most proud of so far in the pursuit of your vision? Ruth Soukup: I would say growing a business from scratch without anybody else’s help. Leah Gervais: Without anything. Okay, amazing. So where can people find out more about you, I know you have some fun things coming up. Ruth Soukup: Yes! Well you can find out basically everything about me at my main website which is https://ruthsoukup.com and that has links to all the other things or go to Doitscared.com if you’re interested in my new book which comes out May 21st. Leah Gervais: It’s going to be amazing she told us a little bit about it at the meeting we were at last week and I can’t wait to read it. Ruth Soukup: Yeah, I’m very excited about it, it’s been it’s a huge project we did this study, a fear study with over 4,000 participants and I think it’s going to be kind of a game changer for people I cannot wait. Leah Gervais: And it was 4000 women right? Ruth Soukup: 4000 women, yep. Leah Gervais: Oh my god that’s so amazing I know fears like I could talk about it forever. It’s the number one thing in this whole journey. Ruth Soukup: It’s true and it’s specifically about how fear holds us back from pursuing our goals and dreams and what you can do about it when you start to identify the types of fear that’s holding you back. Leah Gervais: Yeah, I love that because it really is just, it’s all about just understanding it. It’s like it’s such a relief that you’re reading this book because if you just go read it, you’ll know how to move forward anyway and then you don’t have to be so intimidated by things anymore. Well, thank you so, so much for doing this and being here and for sharing everything. Ruth Soukup: Thank you for having me here. Leah Gervais: Well cheers to you. To keep your vision alive. And well. We have put together a short and sweet checklist of five practices you can do every single day to make sure that your days are LED with the intention toward your biggest vision these tasks on long they shouldn’t take you more than 20 or 30 minutes all together if they will have a profound shift in how you spend your time your energy and of course how you spend your life so to download that go on over to yourbiggestvision.com and you can download this free checklist immediately. You then can also sign up for our weekly newsletter, where you get the latest episodes in your inbox and in personal invitation to join the live recordings that we do once a week on Monday. And if you liked this episode, I’d love for you to share it with a friend. You also can subscribe on iTunes. And if you feel so compelled, we’d love it if you’d leave reviews. That’s how this message gets spread. And that’s what helps us keep going and supporting you in your greatest vision.

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