How This Course Creator Quit Her Day Job and Made $12K per Month with Partnership Marketing

Eighty hours per week. That’s how much Shannon Mattern had to work to keep her business afloat in the fall of 2017. Despite her best efforts, she was tired, running out of ideas, and couldn’t seem to break away from her business for even a few days.

The worst part?

From the outside, it seemed like Shannon had done everything right:

      • She waited until her side business replaced her 9-to-5 income to start working on her business full time.
      • She consistently executed and took action every single day.
      • She created great products that her clients loved.

    A photo of Shannon Mattern

    When Shannon started working for herself three years ago, she had high hopes for what she could accomplish. She pictured a higher income, relief from the long hours she put in while working a job and a side hustle, and more time to focus on what she loved: teaching her students how to build DIY websites.

    Instead of gaining freedom from her new venture, Shannon found herself financially and physically stressed. She had enough money coming in every month, but she was still operating paycheck to paycheck — only this time with the added expenses that come with self-employment.

    For two years, Shannon tried every marketing strategy under the sun, with little success. Then, in the beginning of 2019 — after two years of hustling — she started to turn things around.


    She focused on one thing and got really good at it.

    That one thing was marketing to Other People’s Audiences — or OPA for short.

    These days, Shannon continues to use OPA to pull in $15,000 per month, while working half the hours she used to. Plus, she enjoys her work a lot more.

    “I love what I do now,” says Shannon. “It doesn’t feel like a grind anymore.”

    Shannon's Average Monthly Revenue: 2018-2020. You could quit your day job too if your coaching or course revenue looked this good every month.

    In this piece, we’ll walk you through how Shannon was able to grow step by step. We’ll show you:

      • How OPA (partnership marketing) helped Shannon blow past her previous growth goals and plateaus.
      • Why partnership marketing worked when dozens of tactics had failed before.
      • The biggest “Aha!” moment that made Shannon realize she could have fun and market her business at the same time.
      • How she was able to rake in more than $20,000 from one successful partnership, less than six months after trying the tactic for the first time.

    We’ve helped many coaches, consultants, and course creators scale their businesses throughout the years. Book a complimentary strategy session and we’ll audit your business strategy and talk through a 90-day plan to skyrocket revenue.

    Why Shannon Got Stuck (Right After Leaving Her Job)

    Every month, Shannon posts an income report on her website, detailing how much money she made the previous month and where it all came from. August 2020 was no exception.

    When she looked back on her growth, she noticed one key problem that stalled her progress right after she jumped into entrepreneurship full time: falling victim to Shiny Object Syndrome.

    “I was looking at what everyone else was doing to explode their traffic and 10x their email list,” explains Shannon, “so I started chasing shiny objects that pulled me off course.”

    See, from 2014 to 2017, Shannon built her side business from zero to $5,000 per month using just a handful of tactics. Her first winners included building an email list, creating valuable content to give her audience, and SEO.

    After leaving her full-time job, Shannon felt pressure to perform. Her small business needed to grow. So she tried every tactic she could think of.

    “I was doing everything,” says Shannon. “I was on Instagram, I was doing SEO, I was on Pinterest — every single tactic that you could possibly think of. I was trying to go all-in on all of them all at the same time. And it was exhausting.”

    After a year of trying the “do everything” strategy, Shannon was feeling burned out, tired of living hand to mouth, and was down to her last few thousand dollars in savings. She knew she needed to change her approach, but she wasn’t sure how.

    Then, in December 2019, she read about the Growth Tools Partnership Accelerator. Shannon had been reading the Growth Tools blog for some time, so she was immediately interested, but she was hesitant. She’d already bought or consumed dozens of trainings before — with little success.

    “I was like, ‘Am I really going to spend more money on another course?’” says Shannon, “But it was different. It was an intensive thing where you actually show up and get some one-on-one feedback.”

    So Shannon signed up, and beginning in January 2020, went all-in on partnership marketing. Soon, she found the program to be a total game-changer for her marketing skill set and business.

    Shannon Accelerates Her Growth with OPA

    There were two factors that ultimately made Shannon decide to sign up for the Growth Tools Partnership Accelerator:

    1. She knew this wouldn’t just be another course where materials were fed through an online platform. Instead, Shannon had weekly calls with a live coach who would answer her questions and feed her suggestions one on one.
    2. Shannon realized something about her own strategy had to change. What she had done up to that point wasn’t working, and if she didn’t do something soon, she’d burn out and her own business would fall apart. “Something had to give,” she explained. “My strategy was unsustainable.”

    Shannon also trusted our Growth Tools team because we told her exactly what she was going to do before she signed up for the program. She scheduled a free strategy session (you can schedule your own strategy session by clicking here), one of our coaches talked with her about her business, and together they decided partnership marketing would be the right fit for her growth goals.

    You can learn more about OPA in our Partnership Marketing 101 post, but here’s the gist of it:

    1. Find a content creator in a space related to yours.
    2. Pitch them on how you could educate their audience for free.
    3. Teach their audience something awesome.
    4. Watch the leads pour in.

    Basically, you find people who are already talking to your target audience and offer to give away free value in exchange for exposure.

    Let’s clarify a bit with an example.

    When a Hollywood producer is launching a new movie, do you see them running Facebook ads? Nope.

    What about sending emails out to an email list? Nope again.

    What they do is send their top stars on a publicity circuit to visit Ellen, Jimmy Fallon, and other media outlets. The stars help Jimmy and Ellen entertain their audiences and get the word out for their new movie at the same time.

    It’s a win-win.

    Hollywood makes movie > Actors + Actresses hit the news circuit > Show hosts get free content > Audience hears about the movie > $$$ Tickets sell

    And you don’t need to be a movie star to make this strategy work for you. You just need a valuable skill worth sharing. Then, you only have to find the right people to partner with, and making your business stand out becomes simple. For Shannon, this strategy was a no-brainer.


    First of all, she knew she had a skill that a lot of people wanted to learn about. She previously had sold a DIY web design course and received rave reviews. She just needed to get in front of more people.

    Second, she understood that partnerships are the number one way to grow a coaching or course business from zero to six — or even seven — figures. Here’s why they work so well:

      • They require no previous experience, results, or marketing expertise.
      • All you have to do to get more customers is teach — something a coach or course creator is already doing.
      • Most importantly, it’s the fastest way to get in front of an audience without having to build one from scratch.

    That last point was a big deal to Shannon, who realized that an audience was the puzzle piece she’d been missing in her marketing.

    “None of my previous training worked until I had an audience,” explained Shannon. “After I worked with Growth Tools, I could apply what I knew in a whole new way.”

    Shannon also had an existing podcast called “Pep Talks for Side Hustlers,” which made outreach easier. She already felt comfortable with audio interviews and could offer to swap features with her target partners.

    Pep + Talks for side hustlers

    That highlights another great point about partnerships: They let you start where you’re comfortable. For Shannon, this meant podcasts. If you’re terrible with audio but have a great writing mind, you can start with blogs or guest emailing. You can do whatever works for you.

    But the biggest win for Shannon was her ability to focus. Now, instead of running around chasing shiny objects, she was able to get really good at one thing. And soon, her efforts paid off.

    How Shannon Raked in More Than $20K from Just One Partnership

    Here’s an example of how this works. For one of her partnerships, Shannon reached out to another course creator, Kathy Goughenour, who trains people to become virtual assistants (VAs).

    Shannon knew this would be a great fit because VAs often help people with website marketing tasks, and that’s exactly what Shannon teaches people to do. She teaches people to build websites and market themselves online without being techy — perfect for VAs who help successful entrepreneurs.

    So she started by inviting Kathy onto her podcast. And because this was one of Shannon’s first times pitching a partner, she went for a very soft ask.

    Instead of pitching upfront, Shannon talked to Kathy after the podcast and said, “I help people build websites even if they’re not technical. If you ever have a need for that, I’d love to set up another time to talk and partner together.”

    Immediately, Kathy invited Shannon to present to her audience. As it turns out, virtual assistants often have a ton of questions about web design, but Kathy didn’t have any resources or experts to turn to for information.

    A few weeks later, Shannon hosted an hour-long presentation in her new partner’s group. By the end of the training, several people had signed up for Shannon’s free web design email training, and over the next few months, for paid programs.

    WordPress + Demystified: How to create an amazing website for your VA business (even if you're not techie)! With Kathy Goughenour of Expert VA Training and Shannon Mattern

    Looking back, Shannon can attribute more than $20,000 in revenue to that one hour-long training in a Facebook group.

    Shannon continues to use OPA as her primary marketing tool to this day, and in August 2020 she brought in more than $19,000 of revenue — her biggest month so far.

    Now, Shannon has:

        • No more 80 hour work weeks.
        • No more financial stress about whether or not she’s going to be able to pay her bills.
        • No more one-on-one clients that suck up her time.

    And, as an added bonus, she now enjoys her work more than ever. “I just get to show up, do what I love doing, and not ‘sell,’” she explains. “All I have to do is say ‘Hey, if you want to learn more, go here,’ and send them to my funnel.

    “It’s way more fun than just selling all the time.”

    Shannon Doubled Her List Growth with OPA

    When we talked to Shannon, we also asked her to tell us about her success in terms of a common metric: Email list growth.

    Her answer?

    It depends. “It’s hard to say an average,” says Shannon, “because I just hammered down on partnerships so much. It could have been 20 to 50 for one partnership, then hundreds for another one.”

    Part of the reason email subscribers vary in number so much is that Shannon specifically looks for subscriber quality, not just quantity. Now that she has the hang of partnerships, she is at the point where she can vet potential partners to make sure they’re likely to promote her to their audience.

    Still, in just a few short months, Shannon used OPA to more than double her list growth rate, while keeping the focus on quality.

    “I was bringing in maybe 100 or 150 new email subscribers before,” she explains. “Now I’m adding sometimes five or six hundred every month, and it’s quality over quantity, too.”

    How Coaching Helped Shannon When Courses Couldn’t

    These days, Shannon is excited to continue partnering with other course creators and coaches. She still uses her own podcast to open doors and start conversations, but she’s adjusted to using more direct asks in her outreach.

    “The Growth Tools coaches called me out on my soft pitches,” says Shannon. “They said inviting people on the podcast was great, but there was no reason not to go for a direct ask.”

    It took a bit of encouragement and mental work to start using more direct asks, but when she did get used to it, Shannon realized that it was all just a mental game.

    “You can still build a genuine relationship and add a ton of value without the slow playing that I was doing,’” she explains. “I was totally out of my comfort zone, but I did it.”

    In addition to calling her out when she needed to overcome mental blocks, Shannon credits the personalized attention and pace of the coaching program as deciding factors in her success.

    “I’m very independent, so I loved that the coaches just gave me everything I needed to hit the ground running,” says Shannon.

    In addition to regular check-ins, her coaches also made themselves available for impromptu questions. This allowed her to work through the program very quickly while still getting the support she needed.

    At the end of the day, it was Shannon’s ability to focus on the one thing that would move her business forward and give her the cash flow she needed to truly escape the 9 to 5.

    “What I learned from Growth University was a really solid, stable way of marketing my business that springboarded me to where I am now,” Shannon says. “And I’m super grateful for that experience.”

    Stuck in a Marketing Rut? Try OPA

    If you’re reading this right now and thinking, “Wow, Shannon is a boss. I could never make $15,000 in one month,” I’ve got two things to say to you:

    1. You’re right. Shannon is a boss.
    2. You’re wrong. The strategies we talked about in the blog CAN help you fully quit your day job and make $10K per month or more.

    You don’t need to grind out 80-hour work weeks.

    You don’t need to juggle 17 different marketing tactics.

    You don’t need a complex, multi-part funnel with 11 upsells and downsells.

    You do need direction, focus, and a healthy dose of gettin’ it done. And sometimes, you might need a little push to get you started.

    If that sounds like you, do me a favor. Get out a piece of paper and answer this question:

    If you had to pitch five people next week on a partnership for your business, who would they be?

    Write down the answer. Now go do it.

    Who knows? You could be the next OPA success story.

    We’ve helped many coaches, consultants and course creators scale their businesses throughout the years. Book a complimentary strategy session and we’ll audit your business strategy and talk through a 90-day plan to skyrocket revenue.