Ep #280: How to Launch a Successful Course with Alisa Berry

The Design You Podcast Tobi Fairley | How to Launch a Successful Course with Alisa Berry

Today, I’m joined by a member of my Online Course Incubator program, Alisa Berry. Alisa has just created a course that is selling like hotcakes, and she’s here to share her story, how she brought this course to life, and how the Online Course Incubator program helped her create this amazing offering.

Alisa Berry has been an interior designer for over two decades. However, she began her career as a Christmas tree decorator and designer. Alisa has always had a deep passion for Christmas, and now she’s turned this passion of hers into an incredible course. She’s been getting rave reviews, making crazy sales straight out of the gate, and she’s showing us exactly how she did it.

Tune in this week to discover what it takes to launch a course that sells. We’re discussing why a course is a great additional revenue stream in your design business, how creating this course fit around her projects as a designer, and how Alisa engages her audience so she can successfully sell her course.


Our Online Course Incubator relaunches again in the fall of 2023. We only take 10 participants, so click here to get on the waitlist!

Discover a new path to success in the Interior Design Industry with our live 3-part training: How To Create Additional Revenue Streams. Join us as we teach you the strategies to launch innovative income streams, freeing you from the limitations of traditional design services. Don’t miss this opportunity to revolutionize your business and thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Grab the Training Series now to prepare your business for today & beyond!

What You'll Learn From This Episode

  • Where Alisa’s passion for Christmas design comes from.
  • What Alisa did to leverage her social media following.
  • How Alisa made her investment in my Online Course Incubator back in her first week of sales.
  • The level of accountability you get inside a program like my Online Course Incubator.
  • Why a course is a great way to create additional revenue streams in your design business.
  • How Alisa created a simple course that anyone can learn from.

Featured On The Show

Full Episode Transcript

You are listening to The Design You Podcast with Tobi Fairley, episode number 280.

Welcome to The Design You Podcast. A show where interior designers and creatives learn to say no to busy and say yes to more health, wealth and joy, here’s your host, Tobi Fairley.

Wow, 280 episodes, that’s a lot of episodes you all. Some of us have been together for a minute and I appreciate you so much for being here. So while you’re listening to this today, I am moving my daughter into college, will probably, maybe even the night some of you are listening to this, be driving myself home probably with a few tears because it’s a wonderful moment, but a bittersweet moment and I’m so excited for her.

But I’m also excited for you for today’s episode, because I have my friend and a member of my online course incubator program, Alisa Berry, here. She has just created a course that is selling like hotcakes and I want you to hear about her, her story, what she did to finally make this course come to life, pull it out of her, how our online course incubator program helped her do that.

And by the way, we’re launching another group of online course incubator this fall. So if you get inspired and you want to join us, we’re going to tell you all about that really soon. Okay, so I’m going to be quiet and let you hear this awesome episode with my friend Alisa Berry.

Tobi: Hey, Alisa, welcome to The Design You Podcast. I’m so glad you’re here.

Alisa: Thank you for having me, I’m happy to be here today.

Tobi: So we had to reschedule three times, partly you, partly me. We live in small towns, the electricity or whatever goes out for random reasons, we have storms, but it’s been a minute coming, but I’m so glad to have this conversation. And I was thinking last week, that happened on purpose because if we had recorded this a month ago, we wouldn’t be able to be talking about the amazing results of a course that you just launched, which we’re going to talk a lot about today. But before we do that, why don’t you tell everybody who hasn’t heard of you, doesn’t know you yet, who you are, what you do, and then I’m going to jump into some exciting stuff.

Alisa: Okay. Well, I’m Alisa and I have been an interior designer for about 25 years but I began my career as a Christmas tree decorator and designer. And so it developed from there. It’s been a long learning process for certain. But Christmas has always been my passion. For a long time, that was a secret passion. It was something that I wasn’t always just proud of. I didn’t want people to think that that was all I could do. So I didn’t tell everyone about it for a very long time.

But I get giddy whenever I decorate for Christmas and I take an entire month out of my design business every year to decorate homes for Christmas. So it’s a big deal for me.

Tobi: I love that so much. We’ve talked about this before, but when I first opened my business in 1999, I did Christmas decorating as well. I had a little shop outside of Little Rock and we sold Christmas decor and we worked our buns off from November 1st until about December 10th and it about killed me every year but it was so fun. So when you talk about it and I see you posting and you and your team decorating I’m like, “Oh my gosh, people have no idea how hard this work is, it is really, really hard.”

Alisa: Yes, it’s very physical work, but it’s very fun and rewarding. You get that instant gratification that you don’t get on any other design project, so I love it.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that too. I mean, it’s so fun, yeah, you’re right. Well, and there’s something great about there being a beginning and an end to things, even just the season. Because with design projects they can go on forever and ever and then somebody adds something else on and you’re like, “I’m never going to finish this.” And not only do you get to finish a tree in an hour or two, or a home in a day, once the certain part of December rolls around, that work is done. You put it to bed and you get to just kind of, I guess, sit back and bask and dream in all the things you’ve created.

Alisa: I do, absolutely.

Tobi: Yeah, that’s so fun. Okay, so we’re going to talk about a few things today but one of the main things I want to talk about is the fact that you have for the last six months been in our online course incubator, which was a totally new experiment for me. I’m always testing and trying things. But I was watching lots of people like you because we’ve been friends for a while, who I knew had a course in them. And just were like, “I’ll get around to it eventually. I’ll get it there some time.” And I was like, “What? She even knows what her topic is.”

What is in the way, could I hold people’s hands? Would a deadline create results? And so you’re our very first success story because to my knowledge, you’re the first of our, I don’t know, there’s 10 of you in there that have launched your course, which you just did to rave reviews, to big success. So tell us a little bit about, well, I guess, tell us anything you want. I want to hear kind of about that process, what it’s been like for you. But why don’t you start by blowing people’s minds with how out of the gate your course is just selling like crazy?

Alisa: Well, it’s doing well. I don’t have an email list. Tobi’s been working on me for years about that. I’ve been very resistant. I guess you’re going to have to do another incubator, six months of teaching people how to get [crosstalk].

Tobi: Okay, perfect.

Alisa: That’s another course for you. But without that I’ve been able to leverage my social media to launch the course. And I’ve had great success. I launched with a $100 offer to clients and that’s for the first 100 and the first week we sold 33.

Tobi: Amazing. Which just to do a little math for you all out there listening, that’s five figures, that’s a lot of money. I don’t have my calculator in front of me, but it’s about, let’s see what, getting close to $20,000 in the first week. Amazing.

Alisa: So I made all of my investment back during the first week.

Tobi: Because online course incubator, that’s what I was thinking the first day or two you’re like, “Well, I’ve sold 10.” I’m like, “She’s already paid for her investment in online course incubator.” Which is always my goal. If we can get people to buckle down and do the thing and then they pay for us quickly, the rest of it is just gravy. So let’s talk about this process because we’re making it sound simple and we’re making it sound like everybody can do this and if they launch a course, they’re immediately out of the gate going to make $20,000, which is not going to always be the case.

You do have a very specific niche, a wonderful topic, you’re known for this work, it’s unusual. There’s not a lot of courses in this segment out there. But beyond all of that, why don’t you talk a little bit about what this has been like to build your course, what is different that maybe before when you weren’t finishing it, it was just an idea, what happened? What changed to help you get this out into the world?

Alisa: I stayed very busy in my business because my business is me. And so for me I needed that guidance. I needed someone to just as you said, hold my hand, walk me through the process but it’s also accountability for me. I needed that accountability to do something other than just put my head down and work every day. And it was not an easy process. As I told you, we were down to the last 10 minutes before launch fixing a leak to the website to make sure everything was running correctly.

And we put in, 24 hours in, leading up to the launch in two days just trying to get everything done. So it’s not that I procrastinate about it, but I did put it on the back burner, thinking eventually when I have time, it’s something that I will get to. The time never comes unless you make the time.

Tobi: Exactly, yes. And your comment about procrastinating, one of my mom’s friends years ago who stays super busy like you do, like I do, said, “Truly, I don’t procrastinate. It just takes me that long to get down my list sometimes because there’s so many things ahead of it. It’s just how it is, there’s just priorities.” And so like you’re saying, until you make something a priority, it’s going to just sit in line in the queue and that could be forever.

You could have gone a lifetime and not launched this course. And we’re talking $20,000 in the first week but I mean it has so much potential over a lifetime or to spawn into other courses or things that could really be a game changer in the way you work in your future, right?

Alisa: Absolutely. As I reach this double digit 55 this year in September, I want to find ways to create different streams of revenue obviously. I’ve listened to you for years and I knew that this was a possibility. I did not know it was going to be that successful the first week. And that’s exciting because it’s July. Now, what’s it going to do in September and October when more people are actually thinking about decorating? It’s exciting to think about that possibility also.

I do actually have plans for a second course. I want to teach other designers the benefit of doing this in their business and that there is actually money in this outside of the course.

Tobi: Yeah, that’s amazing. So let’s go back to, well, first, let’s spend a minute talking about your business because I think a lot of people, they’re hearing you and they’re like, “Yeah, she didn’t have time.” But I want them to really understand what time looks like for you. So tell us, you are a sole proprietor. We’ll talk in a minute about how you have finally opened up a little bit to getting a tiny bit of help, which I know was one of your sticking points which it is for a lot of people because you had tried some help in the past it didn’t really work.

So kind of paint the picture for us of what your business looks like, what your days look like, what you’re doing. Because I want people to really understand, you did not have a whole team of people like I have helping crank out this course. You muscled through it. You did the work and you launched it while still running your very busy design business.

Alisa: I did absolutely. For me, I will usually have on average 13 to 15 projects. And currently I have three new construction projects that it didn’t matter when they all began. One has been in the works for three years, one, two years and one a year and they’re all going to finish in August.

Tobi: How does that always happen? It is the weird mystery of interior design. It’s like, I don’t know, not to be, I know this won’t bother you because you’re funny and you talk about a lot of things. But getting women in a room and their cycles get together. You get a bunch of projects on the calendar and their cycles get together and the next thing you know it, they’re all on the same schedule, the busy work’s all at the same time, the installs are all at the same time.

Alisa: So everybody needs drapery at the same time and furnishings at the same time. And so it has, I’ve been working till midnight and beyond for several months. I do everything myself. When I say new construction projects, I work with clients from the beginning of the project, from their plans preferably, before their final all the way through the construction process to the finishing. I want to put the last accessory in and the last piece of art on the wall for them.

And so these three projects, in addition to about, I think I currently have a list of 10 small projects that I’m also finishing up. And of course they’re all going to finish in August and early September also. So honestly finding the time to do the course, I started hitting the panic button. I was able to participate in some out of town trips this year. That I didn’t want to turn those opportunities down for my business, because being seen in our industry is very important. I’ve been to markets and more than anything, I keep up with my social media, I work my social media.

Tobi: Yeah, you’re really good at that.

Alisa: It takes two hours a day just for my social media.

Tobi: That’s amazing. We’re going to circle back to that in a minute because you’ve been really good at that for a long time. And that’s definitely one of the things I think that is not only so instrumental in keeping your business pipeline full, but really making this course sale success happen right out of the gate. Because we joked about an email list. And an email list is amazing and it will come in handy later kind of when you’ve gotten the mad rush of a lot of people that currently follow you from your Instagram.

But I have always had at least 50% of our sales for anything, if not 70 or 80 coming from my social media, even as much or more than email. And I’m finding right now our email is kind of not as effective as our social. So if you’re going to have one or the other, you’re in the right place for sure. So talk us through, because you were saying working till midnight and you know I’ve been in a season. And these things do come in seasons. I definitely don’t recommend that people exhaust themselves all the time because it’s not sustainable.

But you and I have been in a kind of a similar season. I’ve been trying to get my daughter off to college. I’ve been launching an ecommerce shop, which is like launching a course or in that same vein of creating something new and I’ve had some long nights too. But what does that look like? What was the process for you of putting this course together, getting this on paper, what was hard about it, what was surprising about it? kind of take us into your brain as far as what that looked like?

Alisa: Well, I would not dedicate time during the day away from my ‘job’ for my interior design business. So I worked on this course every evening between 7:00pm and 10:00, 11:00, 12:00pm every night. But for me, having those accountability sessions that we had in our group really forced me to concentrate. It gave me something to think about each time, for each segment of the course.

Once I got down what I actually wanted to say and how I wanted to do the course, it was the little things, even the title of the course that I would struggle with and I know you’re laughing because you kept saying, “Keep it simple, keep it simple.” And I was like, “That just sounds dumb.” But it actually was the thing that I think people wanted from me was to keep it simple. And I wanted to make it a very complicated process.

And so for me, going back and thinking things through and not dumbing it down but keeping it on a level where anyone could actually understand what I was saying and could learn from me was a process. That was really hard. I rewrote the course, I think, at least four times before I got it to where I finally said, “Okay enough, let’s record it and be done with it.” Because I can always go back and rerecord it. I did learn that from you.

Tobi: And you’ll want to or at least parts of it or pieces or add bonuses because you have to get it in the hands of the people that are going to use it before you know what’s missing or what they want more of or what you could have added. And so, yeah, we perfectionists as designers and creatives love to keep tinkering with things, but I think it’s just that ripping off of the band-aid and putting it out in the world that’s so important, right?

Alisa: I believe it is, absolutely and yes, perfectionism is one of my deep faults.

Tobi: Gifts.

Alisa: But also a gift.

Tobi: A blessing and a curse. It’s always both sides of the coin together. That’s so great. So basically what you’re saying is you had a temporary side hustle. And you created this thing that’s kind of been living in you for a long time but the good news for you is it wasn’t you had to go learn something new. You started there, you know this like the back of your hand, which I always recommend that people don’t decide, it would be fun to get into this new area and write a course about it. This is your, really in a lot of ways, kind of your life’s work and your passion, right?

Alisa: It really is it. There is nothing other than grandchildren that gives me more joy.

Tobi: And you have a lot of those that I also get to see on social media thankfully. Okay, so side hustle, it worked, you buckled down. You used the things we gave you, the worksheets, the organizational tools, the accountability, all of that stuff worked, which I love to hear. I mean I suspected it would, but you just never know. That was my guess of I think they just need somebody to say, “Put it in this format. Do this thing.”

And I just recorded a podcast about this actually yesterday that’ll come out later this week, part of my revenue stream series. And so it will already be out by the time people are listening to this one. And I was talking about how a lot of people want you to say, “Do this exactly this way.” But what’s so funny is we think we want that because we feel stuck, but we don’t really want that.

Because what I noticed and I assumed would happen, when we give you a format or a tool or a spreadsheet or something almost every person in the program said, “Okay, I took part of that and then I made it my own or I liked that inspiration, but I did mine differently.” Which is exactly how that needs to work for people to trust themselves and buy into their own course or program, but still, can you talk a little bit about that? What happens when you see an example or when you see a process that helped move you forward where before you were maybe second guessing or stuck?

Alisa: Well, for me in the course you gave us a lot of spreadsheets and those make my head hurt.

Tobi: Is that the only format though? I gave you other formats.

Alisa: No, you gave me different formats.

Tobi: In case you hate spreadsheets.

Alisa: And so just like when I was in high school and they would give us word problems and they would want you to work them out a certain way to get the answer. And I could always come up with the answer and my teacher would look at the work and she’d go, “But you didn’t do the work right.” And I was like, “It doesn’t matter, I got the answer.” You gave us enough, I had to find a way to work around the spreadsheets because it’s just not something I enjoy doing. So I’m just like, “Yeah, I’m not doing that.”

Tobi: Exactly. I love that. And we knew that too. So we said, “For those of you who like to write things out, here’s a fill in the blank form. For those of you who want to drop little tiny modules in boxes on spreadsheets”, which I do love to do, “Here’s the spreadsheet. Here’s an example of what something could look like when it’s finished.” But that’s exactly how I always love for people to basically take what you need and leave the rest.

And I think you did that so well where a lot of people can, if they’re not careful, can get stuck in that because they’re like, “Well, I didn’t do it the way she said or I’m struggling with the formula or the format or the steps that she exactly told me to.” And of course you are in Enneagram 8 like me, but you have the confidence to be like, “I’ve got enough information. I can now go make this my path, my way, my process and make it work out.”

Alisa: Right. And I think that’s the beauty of having, for me, that timeframe and that deadline was I couldn’t get stuck. I did not have time to get stuck. So by setting that deadline of this is my launch date, I did not allow myself to get stuck on spreadsheets. I’m like, “Yeah, I’m not doing those. I’m going to find another way around. I’m going to use this worksheet and I’m going to get the work done this way.”

The hardest part for me was the technology, learning five or six different apps. And I had no idea you had to have certain speakers and microphones and all of these pieces and parts that come together to make the course. I’m just not a tech person, everyone assumes that I am because I do social media. That’s a whole different kind of tech and they don’t have any idea how many courses I’ve taken to learn to do social media.

Tobi: Yeah, but you’re scrappy and you’re resourceful and savvy, and that’s what I like about you because you’ll figure it out. So you and I have talked for a while, for a few years probably about how you work really hard by yourself. You’d love to have some help, but it’s hard to trust other people and it just feels like a waste of time sometimes to bring people on and to train them. I just don’t have time to worry about that. And you’ve had a couple of poor experiences with having people on your team.

But you finally decided to leap and get some virtual assistant help because you didn’t really have a choice, you wouldn’t have met your deadline probably.

Alisa: I didn’t.

Tobi: So can you talk to us about that, not only about what kind of help you got and what it did for the course, but what you had to do with your mindset and kind of your thoughts to be able to get over that hurdle?

Alisa: Sure, absolutely. Well, I took your advice and I went to a certain group to hire a virtual assistant. And she and I matched in personality. And I thought, she’s definitely the one, this is going to work out. And so I had her do specific tasks that again I didn’t want to do. I didn’t want to create my own slides but I didn’t also want to use templates. And so I had her create slides and they were good but they didn’t hit the mark. And so I was complaining to the girl that actually built my website, I gave her all the work and I said, “Okay, now here you take the tech part and you build it for me.”

And she said, “Well, Alisa, you know I do virtual assistant work.” And I said, “No, I did not know that.” And she then told me that she could help me do the same things. So she and I got on a call and we divided up the list of what needed to be done. And she said, “You’re just going to have to let me have half of this list. This is the half that you can’t do. You don’t have any idea of how to do it.” And I said, “You’re right.” And so I gave it to her and literally, like I said, the 24 hours leading up to the launch of the course, she and I were texting and calling and going back and forth.

But for me to allow someone else to have that much control right before I launched this course, which was so important to me to get it, and that perfectionism of wanting to get it out there and do it correctly, it was difficult. But I had to trust her. I had had great results with my website. I was very pleased with what she’d done there and it worked out that she was the right virtual assistant but I had to ask for that help.

Tobi: I love that so much. Yeah, and it’s so funny that a lot of times there is a person right there that’s kind of like low hanging fruit, but we don’t talk it out loud, we don’t say what we need. Even just being reliant on other people is hard for a lot of us as creatives as Enneagram 8s, as moms. We’re trained to do everything ourselves, and especially if we’ve come through our business kind of bootstrapping it like you have and like most of us did at least in the beginning.

That transition to letting somebody help you and showing yourself that it doesn’t actually slow you down in the long run. Because we’re like, “It would just be faster if I do it myself or I’ll like it better if I do it myself.” But there’s some point where that whole idea of teaching people to fish actually you have to rely on other people because there’s only so many hours in the day.

Alisa: That’s correct, you can’t do everything. And that’s probably my greatest downfall is allowing myself to accept that I’m not capable of doing it all. I think most of the time I tell myself that I am but in the end I’m just not able to do it all.

Tobi: Yeah. And sometimes we just get tired. And sometimes we’ve been in business for 25 years and we’re in our 50s like we both are. We’re kind of like, “Yeah, it might be nice if somebody else took some things off my list.”

Alisa: And it definitely would, so she and I will continue to work together. And that’s going to open up some different avenues for me that I haven’t pursued before. Because I can now feel comfortable with going to her and saying, “I want you to do this for me. I need you to create my email style for me and help me with that.” And then I’ll just fill in the blanks and that’s going to be huge for me having someone take that off of my plate.

Tobi: That’s so exciting. Amazing. Okay, so let’s talk about social media, because you have really, truly been in a lot of ways, I mean, I know people call you the Christmas queen, but they could also kind of call you the social media queen really, when it comes to the design industry because you have done it so well. You have what I consider a large following, I think a lot of people would consider a large following. You’re very active.

And you’ve been able to make it your own. You have some hilarious things like your Friday funnies that people come to you for. So what is your secret to being great at social media and being so consistent? It’s got to be, well, obviously you think it’s a priority, but talk to us about that. Because I hear over and over again every week from designers, “I should be doing this. I don’t get around to this, I don’t have time to do this. I don’t like doing this.” And I don’t hear that from you ever.

Alisa: Well, I don’t like doing it, I wish I didn’t have to but it is necessary. I had a store once, also a furniture and interior design store for 10 years. And when I opened that we sought out help with marketing. And I remember the guy saying to me then, “You need to get on Facebook.” And I said, “No, that’s something for my teenagers. I don’t really need Facebook.” And he said, “No, trust me. This is where marketing is going.”

So I got a Facebook account and started to grow that with my business and it was huge. And he was 1,000% correct. More than my print advertising I had results with my Facebook. And so that is now around 48,000 people. And last year when I did just a last minute, I’m going to show people how to put ribbon on a Christmas tree as I was decorating my own Christmas tree last year. That one video had over two million views. I had people from the UK, Australia, everywhere coming to me with that. And I was like, “Oh my gosh, two million, how does a video get two million views with only 48,000 people seeing it?”

Tobi: Right. Well, and I want to reiterate, this was last year, not five years ago, not ten years ago. I mean we have a person in our Millionaire Mentorship right now that just started being really consistent with putting decorating tips up on Facebook and Instagram and TikTok. And I think she’s grown her Instagram with that by maybe 1,000 people. And her Facebook went from, I don’t know, a couple of thousand people to 23,000 people in a month. In a month she got 20,000 followers on Facebook right now this June in real time that are real buyers of her services.

And a lot of us think Facebook is dead or it’s old or it’s boring or it’s stupid or a waste of time and this is still happening now. It would happen, it will happen for you again. I’m sure you’ll grow in a big way this year with this course.

Alisa: Well, and people are always surprised to find out that 99% of my business comes from Facebook. It’s not actually Instagram that my business comes from, I’m very active on both. But Facebook, I have a business page, I have a private group. Now I have an exclusive community for Christmas and so I’m very active there and I have cultivated a culture of people who want to learn from me. And they come to me for design tips. They come to me for Christmas decorating tips. And so that is why I make it a priority. I don’t have to spend money. I don’t advertise.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that, it’s so good. So when you’re putting content on Facebook and Instagram too, I’m sure but what is it, what kind of content? Give us an example of something you would put on that those people are coming to you for, is it how tos, what is it?

Alisa: No, I will share my work. I’m very open and very honest, that’s one of the things I would tell anybody, whether it’s Facebook or Instagram, you have to be yourself. You cannot be someone else because people see through that very quickly and we’ve all been taught what they’re going to buy is you, more than anything they want you. And so they like that I’ll share my work or I’ll share perhaps something from another designer and we discussed it. And they’re free. I don’t keep them from saying what they feel about it, what they like about it, what they don’t like about it.

But I used it to give them ideas of what they could do in their homes. I think people live in a bubble and they think that certain things are not possible for them. Not everybody is a DIY person. And not everybody can afford an interior designer, but everybody wants ideas. And it may be one idea that sparks them to do something in their home and then that will grow into something else. And so it’s just constantly putting ideas in front of them. And that’s my goal is to constantly give them ideas.

Tobi: I love that. And I noticed exactly what you’re saying on our other student that I was talking about right now. She posted something and she posted a tip that says a lot of designers don’t like this thing, but I’m okay with it and here’s why. And then the same thing, the comments are so free and some people were like, “Exactly spot on.” And other people were like, “No, I don’t like that at all. I like this other thing instead.”

And just letting people, the feed kind of becomes its own animal. And you’re not in there trying to control it or message it. You’re just almost creating a chat room for people to discuss design and decorating ideas. And you just spark that discussion with sort of the tidbit or the snippet or the concept or inspiration that you post there, right?

Alisa: That’s correct. And they do want to talk, that’s the thing, they’re on Facebook to talk. They’re reaching out to talk to someone. Instagram, it’s video or it’s stills for them. And they don’t really want to talk on Instagram. That’s why you have to work so much harder to get someone to comment on Instagram. Facebook is 100 times easier, put an idea out there and ask people what they think, they will tell you.

Tobi: That is so interesting. So what happens when people either don’t agree with you or don’t like your work or they’re like, “I would never do that”, what do you do? What happens in you, do you just let it roll off? Was that a transition for you?

Alisa: It’s definitely been a transition as an Enneagram 8. There was a lot of blocking and deleting at first. But then I had to let it roll off, whether it was my work or it was someone else’s. The thing that I believe in the most is that God created us all unique and different. He didn’t spend time making you and I in His image to be exactly the same. So my number one thing that makes me, just irks me in interior design is to see one house after the other and they all look exactly the same. I cannot stand that.

And so I’m very vocal about that and I think that attracts people because they either love that look or they hate it, but they love that look because they’ve been sold to, that that’s what they should do. That’s a marketing ploy. So when you start putting it out there to people and getting them to think about what am I being sold? Then I’m just being sold the farmhouse look because somebody’s going to make money off of all that farmhouse decor.

And then in a couple of years when that’s gone by, then they’re going to come up with something different and they’re going to make money off of that too because they’re smart and they know how to do that. But that doesn’t serve the average person.

Tobi: Right, exactly. And I think the only way that it sometimes serves them is maybe they have a little more confidence because they think well, my friend has it and I have it so I must be doing something right, but does it fill them up? Does it feed their soul? Does it inspire them? Absolutely not, no, they’re going to be looking for the next thing, which is the whole marketing ploy, [crosstalk] that, they’re going to be looking for the next thing, the next trend, the next thing to talk about. That’s so good.

Alisa: They’re constantly spending money that they think they can’t use to hire an interior designer. But if they actually had looked at all the money they had spent on the things they didn’t need that didn’t fulfill them, they would have had the money to hire someone.

Tobi: So good. Yeah, that’s so good.

Alisa: To pull it out of them what was really them and then to design and decorate that way for them then they’re satisfied. And I have clients that have come back to me for years. All three of the clients that I’m currently working with, I’ve done multiple homes for. So they continue to come back because it’s easy for them. They say, “I don’t know what I want. You tell me what I want.” And so I’m like, “No, I’m not going to tell you what you want but we’re going to figure it out together, it’s a process.” That’s what I teach on social media also.

Tobi: I love that. That’s so good. Okay, so what’s different then about Instagram for you? If that’s how you get success on Facebook, how do you have success on Instagram? Because I know you do have a lot of success there too.

Alisa: I do, I try to be as real there, it’s a lot more work on Instagram. On Instagram everybody’s about the reels. I am not about the reels. I don’t watch them. I don’t like them. They aggravate me so I don’t do them very often.

Tobi: That’s hilarious.

Alisa: I’m just going to be that rebel and I’m going to do my thing. And so I try to figure out what people want on Instagram. Sometimes I hit it, sometimes I don’t. And it’s just I take what doesn’t work, I archive it and like, okay, try something different. But Instagram literally for me is a day by day process of learning what will and will not work for them.

Tobi: Interesting. And when you say you spend two hours a day on social media, what are you doing in that two hours typically?

Alisa: Creating content and analyzing insights, but I also spend a lot of time, if someone takes the time to comment, whether it’s Facebook, Facebook group, Instagram, threads, wherever, I give them a response. If I miss one, it’s rare. I always respond to every comment because that’s what I want them to do. I want them to come there and have a conversation with me and I appreciate people that take the time to look for my post or who do that so it’s important to me to create that conversation.

Tobi: Yeah, that’s so good. Okay, so as we’re wrapping up, this is so fun, I could talk to you forever. I mean we’ve talked about a lot. We started with courses but the reason your course is successful is because you started in Christmas, you’ve built this brand and name for yourself for years. And you’ve really supported that through social media, which is really just kind of textbook of buckling down and doing the work really is what it sounds like to me. Then put this course out in this sort of environment that you had created and primed the pump so of course people bought your course.

And I think that’s why when we said earlier, not everybody that puts a course out is going to have 20,000 in sales the first week. But I think this is more a lesson in the consistent business building. So in that or the course or anything else, is there anything we haven’t touched on or that you want to reiterate for people who are like, “Yeah, I want what she has, I want the success she’s creating?” Yet they’re still struggling to create that, I think probably most of them are struggling with the social media piece really.

Alisa: And it’s not something that happens overnight. To build that following did not happen overnight. To keep that following, it’s a daily process. It is something that you really, in my opinion, have to dedicate time to. I don’t believe in again, hiring firms to do it for you. I can see that when I look at other people’s Instagram or their Facebook, I’m like, “There’s no passion in it. There’s nothing to invite me to comment there.” So you can see it instantly. And I don’t leave that out of anything that I do on social media. I keep it real. I keep it funny. I try to keep it true to who I am.

Tobi: So I guess my last question would be, what is it that you think, because I’m sure it’s a thought, me going into my life coaching brain, a thought drives a feeling, drives an action. What is it that you’re either thinking or feeling that makes you go ahead and show up and do it every day, even though you don’t want to? Because you were putting the course off after your work, but you’re not putting your social media off. So what is it that’s making you show up and do the social?

Alisa: It’s the results, I mean, it’s without the social media I don’t think I would still be thriving when I’m starting to see in our economy that other designers are struggling but I also see that they don’t put the work in. They’re not doing the social media. They’re kind of shrinking back from it, maybe the same way that I shrunk back from doing the course because I had that fear of getting it out there. Maybe they don’t know how or they don’t see the value in it, but I see the value in it because I have the results from my social media.

Tobi: And when you were early on not having the results yet, what kept you going? Was it because it was fun and you got a little bit of a bone thrown at you from somebody when they’d leave a comment? What was the thing that kept you doing it when there were five people following, not 50,000 people following?

Alisa: Well, it was that I had someone in my ear saying, “It takes time.” When I hired that marketing firm early on, he told me, “It’s going to take time. You’re not going to build this overnight. You’re going to build this as you build your business.” And back then you could create 10,000 followers without all of the algorithms that are going on these days, it was easy to gain it. And now it’s a much slower process, but I can tell with every new follower if I work hard to get that person to comment or like, then I see the same ones commenting and liking all of the time.

Tobi: Yeah, so it’s relationship building, yeah, exactly.

Alisa: It’s a relationship that you build, yes.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. And I think that’s so true. And I think when people think about as numbers or followers, not faces, not humans, and they also think of it as a chore and I have to. Then they’re probably not going to show up and do either of those because they’re not connected to it. But what I hear you saying is not only are you connected to the people, you want to comment, if they comment, you answer, you’re building relationships and you want to give them.

I loved what you said earlier, you said not everybody is a DIYer, but also not everybody can afford all the things we do, but everybody wants ideas, everybody wants ideas. And so that shows me that you’re actually invested in the people that are on the other side of your social media. And I think that probably is the key to your success. I bet you did the same thing in your course when you were creating your course.

Alisa: I hope so. I tried to be invested. I was thinking in my head, how is this person going to receive this course? I’d have specific people that follow me in mind and I would think about questions they had asked me in the past about maybe doing ribbon or how I attach the crown to the tree or something. And so I tried to make sure that when I was teaching that, that I spent a specific amount of time on those things.

Tobi: Yeah, I love that. I do that as well. I’m teaching a three part series on revenue streams right now and when I see people I know or that have followed me for years, some I know personally, sign up. My brain immediately goes to, I wonder what they’re going to need out of this. Let me think about their business. How big is their business? How small is their business? What is their team? How are they going to create this differently than somebody else?

And that’s exactly what you’re saying, when you put out content or create your course you’re thinking of individual humans and saying, “This person’s husband’s crafty, he’ll be able to figure out that top or this person’s going to be doing it by herself on a ladder. How do I make sure she knows how to wire that piece in, or that it doesn’t fall off?” And that customized care is what’s going to continue, I think to make you successful. So good.

Alisa: I hope so. That is what I try to give. That is why I spend so much time on social media. I could have a life, but I choose social media instead.

Tobi: But you and I only know each other now as friends in person because of social media so it is real. Amazing. Well, thank you so much as always, you’re always transparent. You always share all the things. I loved this so much. I’m just giddy for your success. I cannot even stand it. I can’t wait to see where this goes. Thanks for letting me be a tiny part of it, but for those people who want to find you and want to either buy the course or follow you on Facebook or Instagram, where do they go?

Alisa: Okay. So on Facebook it is Alisa Berry Interior Design, the number one S-T because I want them to think about me first. On Instagram it is Alisa Berry Designs and then my website is alisaberrydesigns also.

Tobi: Okay. And spell Alisa.

Alisa: Yes. A-L-I-S-A. We could do a whole podcast on that.

Tobi: One S not two?

Alisa: Correct.

Tobi: Yeah, I think I probably always try to type two and then I’m like that’s not it, back it up, girl, take one out.

Alisa: It’s spelled Alisa and it’s pronounced Alisa.

Tobi: Perfect. Okay, well, thank you again. I loved every minute of this and I know people are going to love this episode. So I’m so glad you were here.

Alisa: Thank you. I appreciate you having me.

Okay, so if you loved this episode, which I know you did, head over and check out Alisa’s course, her program, her on Instagram, she’s so inspiring. She’s so funny. I enjoy her so much. I know you will enjoy following her too.

And get on the waitlist for our online course incubator, head to and get on the waitlist because we are taking only 10 people into our course incubator for the fall session. And in just a few months from now, early next spring, you could be selling your completely finished course too. Okay, friends, so hop over, Get on that waitlist. We can’t wait to work with you and I’ll see you next week with another great episode of The Design You Podcast. Bye for now.

Thank you for listening to The Design You Podcast. And if you want to discover a new path to success in the interior design industry, then join me for my three part training called How to Create Additional Revenue Streams. In this training I’ll teach you the strategies to launch innovative income streams and free you from the limitations of traditional design services.

Don’t miss this opportunity to revolutionize your business and thrive in today’s competitive landscape. Grab the training series now to prepare you and your business for today and beyond. Go to

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Hi! I'm Tobi

I help creative women (and a few really progressive dudes) design profit-generating, soul-fulfilling businesses that let them own their schedule, upgrade their life and feel more alive than ever!

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