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  • Writer's pictureInge Hunter

Being a member of The Agency.

Episode 17- 'Reality of being in The Agency with Eve Tokens and Ellie English'

Link to Podcast- Spotify and Apple

I've invited a couple of my agency members to just chat about the agency because Surprise, surprise, I am launching the agency. And it opened on the 27th of February. So I've got Eve and Ellie. So Eve has been in the agency Well, coming up to a year because it's a year long programme, she's done it once. Ellie, has been in the agency for two years because she loved it so much that she decided to do it again.

My name is Ellie. I run the Instagram account, Ellie English teacher. I am a British English Pronunciation specialist. And I work with professionals who are wanting to improve their British English Pronunciation and their speaking skills, so they can get better jobs and get paid lots more money.

And I've actually been in the agency for a couple of years. So at the end of my first year, I had a real sense that I'd learned loads I put loads of groundwork in but that I really wasn't finished, that I hadn't reached the potential that I wanted to reach. I hadn't sort of hit everything that I wanted to hit. And although that is always an ongoing process, isn't it? And I think as business owners were never happy, I did feel that there was more in me that I needed to get out. So I signed up for another year, which was the best decision ever.

So where were you before you started the agency? Or how would you describe yourself then and now?

Well, I've been teaching for years actually, in classrooms, and then I had a small tuition business where I had local students. But I very much knew that I really, I wanted to be able to bring it online. I also knew that I wasn't bringing in enough new students, I was too dependent on agencies, for example, like tuition agencies who take a huge cut of your income. And I just wanted to feel more in control of the whole process, more able to bring in my own students, more able to set my own hours, set my own my own goals, etc, etc, etc. And to do that, I knew that I needed to be online, but I needed to know how to properly market myself really. I had lots of ideas, I've done other courses before where I kind of studied a little bit of this and a little bit of that.

And what you did really, really brilliantly was kind of focus me and settled me down and really made me be very kind of systematic about the building of my business and building up my marketing in that, because before that, it just been a bit of a scattergun thing, really.

And now well, now I feel like I know what I'm doing. I didn't know what I'm doing. You do.

It's that sense, though, isn't it? That there's always more to know. But yeah, I do. I know what I'm doing. I've got a really solid foundation now for business. It feels much more secure than it ever has in the past. I don't feel as I don't feel as vulnerable to outside influences. I feel much more in control of things now than I ever did in the past.

And I feel like I've got a really solid little business here that is absolutely going to grow and that I understand the whole love and I understand what's important to you may not be what's not so important to me. Although I haven't started outsourcing anything yet. I know now what it is that I need to outsource. And that's the next step is bringing in some support.

If you explain who you are and what you do, give us just pitch. And then where you were before and how you feel now.

So my name is Eve Tokens. I am the founder of a website called the creative, where I teach people online how to design patterns and make their own sustainable fashion. I've had this website for about since 2016 when I started it. I love everything about it. I'm a trained fashion designer, creative pattern cutter, which is why I'm so passionate about it and teaching people how to create their own sustainable fashion. Yeah, I love it. I've been working within, I've worked with him before the agency, I think it was called to design on socials. It was like a monthly Instagram thing, social method, facet and social method. I really enjoyed working with that. And when I joined the agency in February last year, she jumped into my inbox in my DMs like, ‘Hey, have you considered the agency’ and I had clicked through a bunch of times and checked, and I just thought, oh I've been doing this online thing for so long, I don't need to do this. I know everything that's in yada, yada, yada. But the truth is, my business started by using Pinterest. That's how I got my brand started. And then I moved to SEO, and built my business further that way. And I needed something different, I needed to start using other digital marketing methods that know and feature so well. And so it became a no brainer to actually join the agency and start diversifying. And working with being mostly I have to admit, it was the accountability, because I don't like being told. And it's not that Inge tells me off. But literally before every single call ‘I haven't done this’ it was gonna turn me off. Like it's what I tell myself to get stuff done.

And so before joining the agency, I struggled to maintain a consistency in everything i Because there was no one holding me accountable. And since joining the agency, I have been consistent in pretty much everything that I do.

But even my partner says that it's been a lot easier in the last year since I've had somebody there who is basically like my business mentor. Since she's been there, I've shown up every single day. And I've focused on something that needs to be done for my business every day, and I'm a lot more chill, I'm more relaxed. I'm not worrying about stuff that I don't need to worry about. Because I've got someone there that I have my 1:1 once a month and she likes me solid.

So I find it really hard to describe the agency, because I feel like on its layer on its level. But it's the way that I look at it's like a whole support network, like it's a massive kind of 12 month long commitment. I think for anyone joining an agency. It's not like, ‘I'll just dump a couple 100 pounds on a course on Instagram and that will sort my business out.’ This is a little bit like, ‘I'm actually going to step into this 12 month thing where someone's going to be on my case for 12 months.’ So if one of you could describe it for me, that'd be really helpful.

It's not just about digital marketing. I don't know if the word community is appropriate but when you join an agency you've got you've got someone in your corner, like whenever you need it, you've got someone in your corner, you've got there someone who's like guiding you through the programme for the whole 12 months. But you've also got the people that you meet through the agency who were there every single day like if you've got a struggle or a question or anything like you just pop into Slack and you pop it in there and you've always got someone there that's got your back. That can help you think about things from a different angle, a different perspective. It's just brilliant. It's like a year that will change you, how you think about your business and how you work within your business.

I think it’s just so useful, isn't it being able to network with people who are quite similar to you, or you've got lots lots in common with as well, I know that before I joined the agency, I did try to network locally, and I went to some meeting and it was just full of these men in suits. And then I came away from that just feeling like the biggest fraud ever actually, came home and cried, and I just said I can’t do this, what am I even doing here? Pretending that I've got a business and actually being in the agency, there are people very similar to me, and in lots of ways it's like finding your tribe a little bit really. And that's not to say that every single person in there is my best friend and all of that. Because it's a big group. And some people you get to know really well. And some people you don't really see very much, and some people you really bond with. And that's normal. And that's the advantage, isn't it of being in a group with lots of other people as well.

It was interesting, actually, when I first signed up for the agency, though, one of my hesitations was like, Oh, I don't know if it's that much, really, like, I've got one session a month within.

And then we've got like these homework sessions, but I can just do when I want to do, like, why do I need to do, but actually it's been the perfect amount because it is enough. And it's also not too much. It's the right balance. And sitting in silence on Zoom, doing homework is an incredibly weird thing, because it's actually really motivating. And it really gets you work done. And it makes you turn up and it makes you plan.

What's the most unexpected thing you think when you signed up, that you didn't expect?

I feel so much better, emotionally, I don't know whether this is just the changes that were going on, in my own life anyway. But I feel so much more stable and measured, and in control, because when you've got a business, and you've got your name on it, and it's not going very well, it can really impact your personal life as well. And likewise, your personal life, I was finding that I bring it into, into my business with me, because I work from home. But I think that there's been something that has happened, where I've really been able to split the two parts of me, while also keeping them together. And I am still only one person, but I'm able to kind of shut the door and be here, and be there and not be here. It's like a different way of looking at your business. And my business is very, very personal. It's absolutely mine. It's absolutely my project and everything. But there are also other things in life as well. And there are other things that I can do. And I find I'm better able to actually switch off as well, so I can have a planned weekend away from it and not be worrying about it and not be checking things every five minutes and needing to log in every five minutes. It's like an extra layer of confidence.

What about you Eve?

I think the unexpected thing is going through the agency and having my calls with you each month.

It's helped similar to Ellie actually, it's helped me step back and realise that

I don't have to do everything within my business. That actually nothing will fall apart if I'm not there. Like I just took a few weeks off and went away. I've hired a writer and I've hired a PA like I'm a control freak and like a really big introvert and going through the agency, it's helped me see that actually I can step back, and other people do because other people like Karens a nurse but she had someone that was doing all her social media stuff for her. And it's just like, well, actually, and you yourself have like a huge team, by my standards is huge. And it's like, I can sit back and I can outsource to other people, and I can let other people take responsibility, and I can actually enjoy my life, like the life that I want to live and why I started my business in the first place, I can actually have that.

How did I get you to that point? Because if you look at the sales page of the agency, it's like marketing, like we're gonna focus on some of the marketing disciplines.

Because the belief you have is, you just know you have this absolute faith in us. And you just gently guide us and nurture us and get the best out of us. I think, because how else would I've come to this point.

I wonder if it's because of how systematic you are, as well with things and what you've been really good at. And this has spilled into my own life as well. Is action, do it stop yakking about isn't talking about it, just just get on with it. But also, don't worry too much about everything else, just do that thing. So like, for example, with my pronunciation course, first of all, I have no idea why it took me so long to realise that I needed to have a pronunciation course. But then when I did start creating it, I actually sold it before I created it, like I had that mapped out. But it was just literally a Trello board of, this week is this and this week is that there's no content there. And then I sold it, and then had to create it straight away. And there was a really, I won't lie, it was quite a challenging month where I was creating, creating, creating, and I had these students like just a fraction behind me all the time. And every morning, I'd wake up and I'd be like, recovering. But actually, without that sense of you just saying, right, first thing you do is sell it, then you can create it, just have to do it. That's all you have to do. It just has to be good enough. Without that I wouldn't have done it is the bottom line, I wouldn't have done it. If I'd been doing it on my own. I would have talked myself out of it somehow I would have found good reasons not to do it. And there would have been good reasons. But it's I think it's just your focus on action and your focus on not worrying about doing everything at once that has really created the transformation. Mathematically doing a little bit at a time as well. By the end of the 12 months, it's all done anyway.

We'll pick up on that challenge. What have you found the most challenging about the agency?

I don't think there's been anything that's been challenging about the agency. I think what's been challenging has been the business and things that they've thrown that have been thrown my way through the business. And the agency is very supportive. So I mean for example, one of the motivating reasons why I joined the agency for the second time was because of where my students were from they were, I don't know how much detail to go into. So I'd created a membership. And unintentionally the majority of my students were Ukrainian and Russian. I hadn't designed it like that, it was just that was the audience that I attracted. And February 2022, obviously, we had the invasion of Ukraine. And I lost, but I didn't lose the membership. It still existed, but I lost75% of my students. And I won't pretend that I didn't look for jobs at that point. I just thought I could, I've had enough. And actually, that was a big motivating reason for rejoining. But it wasn't the only reason. But actually knowing that I had that support and knowing that it was in my corner, and also that my business and you know me, so that the agency, although I stick to the death of everything ever, it wasn't a hard thing. It was supportive.

I think the only thing I found tricky is having the content like the monthly modules to go through. Because if you come at it from

I'm not gonna like Trump, my own trumpet, the one chunky trumpet.

But I've been online as it were, I've had an online business since 2016. And when I came into the agency, I was like I don't need any of this. I know everything. There's an arrogance there. And what I have found challenging is actually putting that knowledge that that preconceived idea I have that I know everything, putting it to one side, and actually going in and watching the modules, the different areas, taking on board, the learnings, I found that initially, very challenging, but now I just go in and I do it, and I take ticket. I appreciate the fact that there's extra stuff that you know, because everyone has a different perspective of everything. Ellie and I both got different perspectives of how the agency has impacted on us.

And it's stupid to think that you know everything just because you've taken this online course. So you joined this membership. There's always a different, another person's experience that will have some kind of impact on you. If you take it on board or not, but you can't be closed off to these things that might actually have an impact. And I think that was the challenge for me overcoming that and being like,’I don't know everything’.

That's really interesting.

I think a whole bunch of people look at the agency and think, ‘no I know it. I'm good’. But I think I'd agree if I was going into a programme, I'd have to do this. So let me go now because things change as well, don't they? Next year, we’re updating it. So it's gonna be super vocational. So instead of the pre-recorded workshops to work through every month, there'd be one focus template, like going to build our funnel this month, here's the template, here's some videos to help you, I'm gonna go over it at the beginning of the month.

But people start the agency at various different points. And people always say to me is my business in the right point to start the agency, and we've got some people who start and they've got no business, and they just start and then some people who start who have a very established business, and they start and I think that the thing that binds them all together, is probably just that ambition for more like that feeling that? No, there's more to do here. Or I want a community or a structured way of doing something in the next year. Would you think that's a fair assumption?

I think that's very accurate.

I do know what the agency is. So what advice would you give to someone who's thinking of joining?

Do it? Just do it?

What advice would you give someone who's decided they're going to do it? But because you sign up in 2017 February, like the last week of February, beginning of March, the modules don't actually start till April because there's a whole month where it's kind of like a little bit of onboarding little things get on with but it doesn't actually begin. So what would you say to someone at that point where they've paid their money, but the modules haven't started yet?

Just be patient. I think when I first joined, I thought I was a bit ready to dive in.

I would also add, to have an idea of how and what do you want to get out of the agency, don't just sign up because Inge rocks, because she does but have an idea of what you want to achieve by the end of it, because it will help you throughout like when you start and you go through the different, although you've said that it's changing next year. But having an idea of what you want, like I knew what I wanted to get out, I want it to be more consistent. I wanted to make sure that I was ticking things off each month that I wanted to do. And I think if you don't go into something, knowing what you want, like, even if it's just a vague idea of what you want to achieve by the end of the year, it just makes it easier for you to work through everything and set those kinds of goals each month throughout,

So I did the agency for two years, it doesn't feel like a repeated year at all. It's my experience, and it's my development. And this second year, I'll be fair, I've not even logged in to any of the videos, because I watched them all last year, so I don't need to watch them again. But that doesn't mean, I still haven't got a huge amount out of it. And I've still obviously had the one to one support and the group support. And next year, I'm going to be doing loads more work again. It's just going to be just continuing to just live and it's work. The point is that the nature of the agency, it's not like this absolutely prescribed thing with this is the precise thing you're going to do. It's more like if you're working on your funnel, and you've already got a funnel, well, I'm sure that people are going to be thinking, is this the best performing funnel it can be? Or can I tweak this form? Can I improve this funnel? Or is there a drop off in this funnel, etc, etc. Whereas, you know, other people in the funnel are going to be like, What even is a funnel?

You guys could just go and sell it for me. That'd be great. Do you think there's anything that I could be doing better? But honestly, do you think there's anything that I could have done better or anything that you think could improve for next year?

The only thing I would say, this is relevant, I think in like September, October, and we had a call and you had been worried about having that like saying something to me on that call about separating my to Instagram, like my personal phone. And all I would say is like, because of the respect I have for you. And like everything that you r&d, if something like that were to come up for future agency members, don't worry so much, because we appreciate the fact that you are open and honest with us and we know you're in our corner. Because I hate the thought that you were worrying about it. I was I was so worried

about wishful thinking gives it some context. Because people listen.

So with my Instagram account, I had had a habit of sharing very personal, non relevant to my business content to deal with a personal loss. And I was very worried about talking to myself about that and having that separate so that if someone comes to my Instagram account, they should see what it is that I do. Like it should be about designing and making fashion sustainable fashion and it shouldn't be deeply personal stuff about my personal life. And she was worried about pointing that out to me. And she needn't have because I needed somebody to tell me. So don't worry about a scenario like that coming up with future agency members, like you know that your hearts are in the right place.

It's really hard sometimes to tell someone from the best possible point of view because I have to come at it from marketing business growth, looking at someone else's business from outside the labour. Is there anyone in their business inside that hole inside the jar thing? I find that a bit hard when sometimes I have built a relationship with someone, and I know them personally. But I have to give them a really frank view of how your business is looking at the moment. Because like Ellie said, you know, we live and breathe our businesses because we do it from home. And I found that really, and I was honestly worried about saying it, not that I thought you'd take it wrong, but I was worried about saying it in the wrong way. Because I want to speak the best so I have to kind of know it.

But like nurturing the right with the right language to do the right decisions for your business. I'm not telling you to turn around and be like, it has got no clue like you do. You know, it's that whole Greek, you know, big, fat Greek wedding where she says, The man who's the head of the house, but the lady has the neck and she can turn the head whichever way she wants. And I have to be like the neck because I don't run your business. I'm not financially kind of committed to your business. I've got to turn around and be like, what you're doing wrong. But the business won't work or grow if I don't like to do my job properly. That's why I was worried.

Examples like I remember when the whole thing that you mentioned was the Russian Ukraine War happened and you were launching things and you were going to completely stop. And I was like, nope, you've got other people in your audience that are not from Russia, not from Ukraine who are there for your business. So you can't base your whole business on whatever outside society is happening. Definitely came down on you then.

But I think that's because we also worked together for like 12 months. So it's not like a quick 16 week, kind of overhaul of one aspect. It's like a full is marketing and it but it's also you get your set in the way of yourself of your business tech gets in the way of your business knowledge could get in the way of your business, but

a mindset I've actually found really helpful because of Lindsay, which I wasn't expecting, because I was like this isn't one of my needs. But actually, I've made use of two or three sessions, and I've got the third one booked in. And they've been really helpful in helping me make shifts, like in my head space, sticking to everything.

Did you go in with something that you wanted to talk about?

The first one I had no idea about was in December, I had no idea what I wanted to talk about. I was just like, I've got three sessions. I should make the most of them because they're part of the agency and I don't want to lose them. So did the first one and I remember saying to her, I have no idea how this works. And she's like, Well, have you got anything you're struggling with? And I just sat there. I was like, what kind of things should I put like, I had no experience of it. So I was asking her what I should be putting in the second session we had last week. And that was really helpful. Because I had a problem with something. And I was gonna have a bath the night before. And I was like you know what I'm not. I'm just gonna save it for my call with Lindsay. And so I turned out with a problem I needed her help with. It was great. We worked through it in about 20 minutes. And then she was like, Is there anything else that you need help with? So we ended up just chatting through some of this different previous session. So you don't have to turn up to the sessions with a struggle that you want to work through. And the thing is with Lindsay, she's really good at asking the questions even if you're not aware of the thing you're struggling with. In December, my thing that I turned up with like when she was asking me I said I was about visibility. And actually it turned out to be that the problem I was struggling with was getting my sewing patterns. I want to create certain patterns. But I felt a huge pressure to be creating them. And telling everyone about them and making them available for sale. And she was like, Well, why do you have to tell everyone that you're working on it? Why can't you just be working on it in the background? And as each one is ready, you're just putting it out there. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself to be so hyper visible, like just just take a chill pill, like, if nobody knows, then there's no sense of failure. There's no sense of all the things that I was making up in my head to be a big thing. She really helped me through that. And again, last week as well. So make use of those.

Yeah, I had one of them. And it was like, how can I look after myself to not get so hideously? Because in September the launch was just an awful, awful launch because of politics. And it was about how to put a bubble around it. And it was just like, you have to write a policy, about what your stances and as academics, and I did, and that's, it's just like now, so no, my policy is, that's it I've tried.

I think I'll give you the knowledge of the dead, like the digital marketing stuff, and I'll give you my support. But then I don't know how to do it, or I'm not qualified to kind of coach people through personal things. And I'm also not huge I know about tech, but I'm also not hugely tech literate. So that's why I pulled in Lindsay to do life coaching, and Alex to do tech, and it's funny, because at the beginning of the aid, like towards the beginning parts of the agency, everyone's like, I know that I don't know how to embed a form on my website but then Linday doesn't get used until towards the end. It's like Lindsay, please help. Because I've got the knowledge and I've done the tech.

I just don't want you to leave. I feel this every year. Such a bittersweet moment when I have to say goodbye to one cohort. Welcoming you to any parting statements about the agency?

If you've got that serious thought in your head of joining, what are you waiting for?

Just do it. Just do it. Just do it. Just do it.

If anyone's got any questions just message me over my instagram, Ingehunter, and check out The Agency website to find out more and see if its right for you and your business!

Linked here is Ellie English Teacher website, EllieEnglish.

Linked here is Eve tokens website, The Creative Curator.

Inge x


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