A 36-year-old single mom explains how she turned her skill for getting people to open their emails into a business that brings in $40,000 a month (2024)

Liz Wilcox has always identified as a teacher. She has a bachelor's degree in education and a master's in educational leadership.

When she pivoted from teaching to blogging in 2016, "I had to Google the word entrepreneur. That's how ignorant I was," the 36-year-old single mom told Business Insider. "I'm definitely an entrepreneur at heart. I just never had the word for it."

The career shift came shortly after she had her daughter.

"I realized that being the traditional public school teacher wasn't the path for me. I heard you could make money with blogging, so I started an RV travel blog," said Wilcox, who was living in an RV at the time.


The gig paid the bills but, more importantly, revealed a niche skill: she was really good at getting people to open their emails — and she enjoyed the process: "I love email marketing. I always say, no one is more passionate than me about electronic mail."

After three and a half years, Wilcox sold her blog for $30,000, which she used as startup money for an email marketing business, she said: "I tried to be pretty conservative with it, especially since it wasn't this giant sum, but it definitely helped me pay for software, pay for a small job from an outside contractor — any little things that I needed."

Launching a subscription-based business and growing to 4,500 members

Wilcox knew her target customer from the start: beginners.

"I have an education background. I'm used to working with beginners. I actually love beginners and love explaining this email thing," she said.

Plus, she saw a gap in the market at the time.

"It was in the age of the pandemic when online businesses really soared," she said. As a result, demand for her expertise — building email lists, retaining subscribers, and ultimately selling them a product — also soared, resulting in "a lot of high-ticket, big online courses — 10 or 20 modules, 22 hours of content."

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She decided to provide the opposite: "I said, I'm only going to give you so much content every single week, you don't need any of the other stuff — and I'm going to charge $9. That was almost unheard of, but I really stole that price tag from Netflix. Back in the day, Netflix used to only be $9."

A 36-year-old single mom explains how she turned her skill for getting people to open their emails into a business that brings in $40,000 a month (1)

The first six to nine months after launching her coaching subscription "were pretty slow," said Wilcox. She was confident in her product but didn't get confirmation from a sales perspective until 2021, specifically over Black Friday weekend.


"I opened up what I called 'the annual pass,' which is where you pay for a year and you get all these bonuses. I sent out one email with the subject line, 'I'm only selling 100 of these.' I didn't know how it would go but I wanted to create some kind of incentive to buy right now," she said. She intended to keep the sale open for 48 hours but sold out in two. "That was something like $13,000 in two hours. That's when I thought, 'OK, I'm really on to something.'"

Wilcox reopened the annual pass sale two weeks later and collected another 225 members.

"In a matter of two weeks, I had made more money than most people make in a year," she said.

Up until that point, she'd been supplementing her subscription business with individual client work. But after the second annual pass sale, "I never took a client again."


As of June 2024, Wilcox has 4,500 members. At $9 a month, that's $40,500 in just subscription revenue — or nearly $500,000 a year. She also earns money from affiliate marketing, live workshops, and partnerships. BI confirmed her monthly sales, which have reached six figures during particularly strong months like November during Black Friday.

Setting up the business to be as passive as possible: 'I've worked 10 hours in the last 30 days'

Wilcox's income is as passive as it gets — she estimates she's worked "10 hours in the last 30 days" and, as of June, has already created the content she'll need and use for the rest of 2024 — but it took years of work to set it up that way.

"The first two years of the membership, it wasn't overwhelming but it definitely wasn't passive. I worked every single week on creating the content, coming up with ideas, finding customers. Things like that used to take quite a bit of time," she said.

She also put in upfront time to do "evergreen marketing," like going on podcasts. "A podcast lasts forever. We might have recorded today, but someone might listen a year from now and sign up for the membership."


Keeping the long-term view was critical to her success, she added: "It would have been easy to say, 'Well, this person's offering me $5,000. Maybe I won't schedule those podcasts because I need the $5,000 right now.' But I knew in a few years' time, the podcast interviews would be worth more than that $5,000."

Her low pricing model and strategy of offering "bite-sized chunks" of content also contribute to her business's passivity.

"Everyone talks about passive income but they keep growing. They say, 'I'll add this and I'll raise the price. I'll do this and I'll raise the price.' But to me, I never want to raise the price," she said. "It's a very low-responsibility type of membership, which lends itself to be able to be passive."

A 36-year-old single mom explains how she turned her skill for getting people to open their emails into a business that brings in $40,000 a month (2)

Creating passive income allowed her to fulfill her lifelong dream of competing on "Survivor."


"They take away your phone the second you go to LAX," said Wilcox, who was a contestant on Season 46 of the show. "For five weeks, I didn't have a phone, a laptop, no connection to the outside world. And it was like, 'Well if the business burns down, I'm gone. It burns down.' But it didn't burn down. Everything went just fine, and it feels amazing as a business owner to say, I walked away for five full weeks."

Now that the show has wrapped up, Wilcox has shifted from maintenance mode — improving her membership program and keeping her current clients happy — to growth mode. One of her main goals is to hit 10,000 members in the next 12 to 24 months, which would be over $1 million in annual revenue from subscriptions.

"More than the money, I really want to do that because I want to show people what is possible. I want to show people that you can have a million-dollar product without charging $10,000 for it," she said. "My personal definition of success is not about what car I drive or what school my daughter goes to. It's about showing people what's possible."

A 36-year-old single mom explains how she turned her skill for getting people to open their emails into a business that brings in $40,000 a month (2024)
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