How to Make $21,000 in Six Weeks

How to Make $21,000 in Your First Six WeeksWho wouldn’t want to make $20k in 6 weeks? How about in your first 6 weeks of business? Without a website to speak of?

That’s exactly what Nikki Elledge Brown did, and when I heard about her story, I just had to get the dish.

I first came across Nikki because we’re both in the same online program (Marie’s B-school). I first-hand witnessed her gain an almost unstoppable snowball effect of traction for her completely new biz.

So, of course, I wanted her to spill the beans. Below is a Q&A with the lovely Nikki Elledge Brown who graciously allowed me (and you!) a peek inside her seemingly quick success and how you might be able to replicate it.

Without further ado:

“The Communication Stylist” by day, proud military wife and toddler mom by night, Nikki Elledge Brown is a fun-loving communication expert who helps bright entrepreneurs attract their dream clients, one brilliant message at a time.

In her first six weeks of business, she brought in over $21k, 740 subscribers, and 95 one-on-one clients – without even having a website! Her immediate success proves her theory that smart, authentic communication is all you really need to attract the right people and build a fun, profitable business.

Liz: What is it that you do? Who do you serve?


My specialty (experience and formal education – B.A. and M.S.) is in Communication Studies.

My clients are bright entrepreneurs who see the value in smart, authentic communication. I help them attract their dream clients by creating an genuinely engaging presence – both online and in person. No fakey pants – no false air of what they think they “should” sound like, but the best versions of who they really are.

So many folks have AMAZING talents and skills to bring to the table, but when it comes time to communicate their value, they flop. They’re missing out on great business because they’re not creating the right impression of who they really are – whether on the screen, in print, or in person.

It’s my job to fix that!

Liz: What sort of growth have you seen for your business? Give us the deets!


It’s been kinda crazy. I accidentally launched my biz back in April. (I say “accidentally” because the overwhelming response took me by complete surprise.)

I’ve been “in business” for almost four months, and as I write this, I’ve connected with over 840 email subscribers and 110 clients.

Those numbers are far beyond what I ever imagined, but what really boggles my mind is that the vast majority of this growth happened in a span of three and a half WEEKS. Truly. In my second month of business (late April, early May), I had a super-basic FREE MailChimp opt-in box, a few well-crafted Facebook posts, an unfinished logo screenshot, and four bootleg (yet thoughtful) newsletters.

I put out a special offer in Marie Forleo’s B-School group, and this happened (without an opt-in freebie OR an actual website):

  • My subscriber list grew from 41 to 718 people.
  • My client list grew from 2 to 92. Not kidding.
  • My business income went from under $600 to over $20,000.

In 3.5 weeks. Redonkulous.

Liz: What do you think has been the ‘secret’ to your success?


I’ve been trying to figure that out, because my clients are dying to replicate it!

Here’s what I chalk it up to:

A targeted audience: You’ve gotta speak to people who want what you’ve got. The B-School community is filled with my dream clients – smart solopreneurs who know they need help communicating their true value in a way that feels authentic.

Great timing: And you’ve gotta be a bit strategic about it. I shared this special offer in “marketing week” – so this issue was at the forefront of their minds.

Proof: We’re social creatures. We need proof. Even though I didn’t have a website, I’d shared a few testimonials from my free sessions to provide social proof. Also, my actual writing was proof that I can walk the walk. I was “selling them” on the value of smart, authentic communication WITH smart, authentic communication. The (social) proof was in the pudding.

Authenticity: Smart entrepreneurs see the value in keeping it real. Throughout the whole thing, I was totally myself. I was as surprised by the crazy reaction as everyone else was, and I let them know it. I didn’t wanna pretend like this was EXPECTED. At some point I literally said, “Is this a joke?!”. I was reacting with genuine gratitude. It was ridiculously humbling. I think people were drawn to that.

Buzz: There’s nothin’ like jumpin’ on a bandwagon. Once people kept commenting, liking, and signing up, more people kept commenting, liking, and signing up! Before we knew it, there were hundreds of likes, comments, and new subscribers over a span of DAYS. One person literally said, “I don’t know what I’m signing up for, but I want in!” HA!

Again, I didn’t create this on purpose, so it’s hard to nail it down. But it’s just fun to be a part of something that feels big. I think this felt big to all of us.

Liz: Did you really start from ‘zero’? What experience/connections do you think gave you the ability to achieve such awesome growth so soon in your new business?


Yep. In March 2013 – I didn’t have a list, and I had 0 clients.

When it comes to experience, however, I’m no new kid on the block. I’ve got bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Communication Studies – the social science of communication. I spent nearly 2,000 hours teaching communication at the college level before deciding to switch my focus from serving bright students to serving bright entrepreneurs.

I’ve spent my entire life helping family and friends proof, edit, revise, reword everything – from resumes and cover letters to emails and awkward personal conversations. Communication is my #1 StrengthsFinder strength. It’s part of the fiber of my being!

Liz: How do you recommend others try to replicate the growth you’ve seen?

See tips above :)

Liz: How can people connect with you to watch you in action?


I’ve got a lot of exciting things planned for the fall, including live Q&A calls, a new spin on my one-on-one sessions, and the big kahuna – my first online writing course designed specifically for entrepreneurs (as opposed to college students!). I’ll spill the juicy details at my digital home sweet home,

Click here to snag a FREE copy of The Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet – the must-have checklist for writing deliciously personalized copy that sounds like YOU.

What about you?

Thanks again to Nikki for taking the time to share her story with me and with you. If you want to watch Nikki work her magic on the social media webs, you can catch her on Facebook here.

But tell me – what are your tips for gaining traction with a new biz? Or start a spark on an existing one? What’s been your best strategy for growth? What do you think of Nikki’s story? Let me know in the comments!

Did you like this post? You might also be interested in my Ask the Expert Series – How Do You Find Your Customers Online? Parts 1 and 2.

18 Responses so far.

  1. Thanks for sharing, Liz!

    Since writing these As for you, I’ve celebrated my four-month biz anniversary AND passed the exciting 1000-subscriber milestone. (Woohoo!) My VIP list is at 1094 as I type this, which is a true testament to the power of a valuable opt-in freebie!

    Click this link to check out the “digital scrapbook” of my first 1000 subscribers – including dates, strategies, screenshots, and all:

    Annnnd of course: Please feel free to shoot me Qs over on FB. Happy to share what I can if it’ll help other entrepreneurs (newbies *or* vets) get sweet results!

  2. Love Blonde says:

    While I congratulate Nikki on her success, I’m curious as to how she managed to execute with 92 one on one clients in 6 weeks? I actually don’t question making 21k in 6 weeks, when I started my business which was a top down business with corporate clients, and 20k a month retainers, that amount of money can be very easy to come by – but I will say for one on one clients that’s a doozy – $500 in today’s world, post 2008, is a lot of money for 92 solopreneur clients to come up with…..I have former Wall Street Executives I work with that would have a hard time with that one for a single hour…. even the most coveted people in online marketing would likely have some questions….

    How do you average 15 clients per week at six weeks for branding and copywriting services or even coaching 15 people per week? Yes, I’m sure it’s doable… but with no platform, no systems in play… you’re just winging it and you have 92 clients? What’s Nikki’s definition of a client?

    A better explanation from Nikki would be a focus on due diligence and would serve the greater community and bschool as a whole instead of just taking Nikki’s word for it…. in business and in blogging… you never take one’s word for anything. (no offense Nikki, but with great successes and great losses in business, I don’t take anyone’s word for it… not even family :))

    Verification of assumptions is necessary and frankly the only way to adhere to best practices.

    Liz, did you verify all of the assumptions or methodology Nikki has communicated? I’m not saying what she has communicated isn’t true… there’s just a lot of missing facts and no due diligence which would lend so much more credibility to Nikki’s story.

    In addition, without proper due diligence, this is a very dangerous way to do business and can be misleading to many entrepreneurs who look at this story and believe it’s just as easy to do it or even feasible….

    Quite frankly, for a new entrepreneur like Nikki, this is also dangerous because she’s overpromising and will be guaranteed to underdeliver. When the majority of people try it her way, whatever way that is because it’s not laid out, or follow her advice and fail or just barely make it…. the only person going to be left out to dry is Nikki…..

    Nikki’s positivity and energy shines through… that’s clear… but what would be more impressive to people who have been entrepreneurs and suffered ups and downs over the years is proper due diligence and verification from all parties.

    With verification, I would feel better about her story and the informercial type feeling/newbie entrepreneur thing wouldn’t be so prominent in my mind.

    All I know is success is awesome… but I prefer to work with people who share the underbelly, even if it’s teeny tiny… frankly who have been run over and left for dead a few times in business…. often when things are too shiny shiny there’s something amiss… and it always comes out in the end… the truth always surfaces…

    I love to mentor young women…. young women who are struggling are those I often serve…. and I’ve heard a few of them refer to this story…’s a bit disconcerting for me… because even though it’s inspirational on so many levels… I don’t believe Nikki or any of these women who are just starting out realize or know how challenging entrepreneurship can be…. reality dosed with inspiration is ideal… Why? Why do I even bring this up? Because many of these women… single mothers for example supporting their children are seeking to pay their bills based upon Nikki’s story….they believe it’s that easy…. and frankly…. maybe it is… but unless I saw the verified facts with the real details… I have to question a new entrepreneur like Nikki’s story until proper due diligence is verified.

    • Liz Lockard says:

      Hey there! Thanks so much for commenting.

      I love that you bring a skeptical eye to stories you read online – a lot of the times it’s necessary. What might clear up a lot of your confusion is that I do not believe Nikki SERVED all these clients in 6 weeks. She was booking out her summer.

      If you want the screenshot proof, feel free to jump over to the blog post that Nikki mentions in her comment here. I would be skeptical too if I hadn’t witnessed it first hand in the private Facebook group we’re both in.

      And I love these stories – no not everyone is going to have this sort of almost immediate success (I certainly didn’t) BUT I actually disagree with you in that I love the inspiration they provide. Also – Nikki, though she started with zero clients & list, started with a SERIOUS amount of experience.

      I encourage you to check out her website – the list of happy clients she has is almost endless and they’re all real people – you’re welcome to verify on your own :)

    • I can definitely understand why you’d be a skeptic. If I hadn’t worked with her myself I might question those claims too. But coming from not just a client, but a repeat client, I can honestly say that the reason that Nikki was able to do that was because she promised high value work and she came through. She didn’t just deliver, she knocked it out of the park. A savvy entrepreneur knows that their copy can make or break them so if you want first class results, higher a first class communication expert. Nikki is exactly that.

      As soon as we finished our 60 min one-on-one session, I booked the next. I was hooked.

      Not only that, but the power of referrals cannot be underestimated. Immediately after our session I put out a social media blast to all my of followers that Nikki is a must have resource in your toolbox.

      Having actually worked with her I was not shocked to see how much success she had in such a short period of time.

      Way to represent for all the military spouses trying to build their legacy Nikki! You go girl!

    • Denise Boudreau-Scott says:

      I have to agree starting off a new business and being so successful is not easy. From an outsider’s perspective, Nikki’s success came to her because of her talent, ability to quickly build rapport and hustle. She didn’t sit at home waiting for the phone to ring, she was constantly posting in forums where new business owners hang out…her target market. Her helpful input, fun attitude AND the fact that every time I read something of hers it made me want to buy from her turned me into a client. I thought, if she is making me buy her talents, she can help me write so someone will buy my talents! It worked for her, I became a client. It worked for me, her messaging helped me define much of what I struggled with for a long time. As for over promising and under delivering, I have had the exact opposite experience and feel that I have gotten so much out of Nikki for a fairly small investment. Who knows how that will change when her number of clients continues to soar (and I have no doubt it will) but based on my experience thus far I am sure she will figure out a way to continue to create magic on a larger scale.

    • Hi there, Love –

      Totally understand the skepticism. As I’ve said before multiple times, even *I* may not believe this story if I hadn’t experienced it myself, and I’m all about giving people benefit of the doubt! I even mentioned here in the Q&A that this was a crazy reaction. Not normal. Totally get it.

      Liz gets it too. I don’t think she meant to imply that this is something everybody can go out and replicate. I also don’t believe that someone has to be “run over and left for dead a few times” in order to have credibility or tremendous value to provide.

      I’m an open book with absolutely nothing to hide, so I’m actually quite happy to share “the underbelly” (did exactly that last week on a post about my first 1000 subscribers).

      Some say there’s no use trying to convert a skeptic, but since you’re actually questioning my integrity, I can’t help but address the Qs you brought up here. Hope this eases your concerns over due diligence, but if not, at least I can say I tried!

      **I’m curious as to how she managed to execute with 92 one on one clients in 6 weeks? How do you average 15 clients per week at six weeks for branding and copywriting services or even coaching 15 people per week?

      I didn’t.

      I want to make it clear that I didn’t *work* with all of these clients in six weeks. They booked their sessions during that short window of time, then I worked with them throughout the course of the summer – May, June, and July. One-hour sessions, some with bonus follow-up sessions via email, all with my undivided attention to ensure they were happy with the experience. Up to 10 per week some weeks. (I’m a toddler mom. Only have a few days per week when I can “work” beyond naptime and bedtime!)

      If you take a chance to read the blog post about my first 1000 subscribers, you’ll see my initial offer was for $199. Just about 70 folks came in at that rate before it went up to $250, then $299 for the rest of the summer. My new single session rate began August 1st, and so far I’ve got 3 new clients for August.

      ***Yes, I’m sure it’s doable… but with no platform, no systems in play… you’re just winging it and you have 92 clients?

      That’s not an accurate statement. The private B-School Facebook group (amazing community of over 6,400 entrepreneurs) was my platform, and even though I didn’t have a site yet, I had splash page, opt-in, online scheduler, and payment system set up. I keep track of clients in a spreadsheet. I have a pre-session and follow-up system via email (it’s all about communication, right?!), and during the sessions I do exactly what I do best – help folks communicate in a better way.

      No fancy systems, no problems.

      ***What’s Nikki’s definition of a client?

      I call them my “dream clients” – the 113 entrepreneurs who have paid for at least one session with me to-date. For names and faces, feel free to check my “Happy Clients” page. It’s filled with real, smart, amazing business owners from all walks of life, from all over the world. (So far all but one of them have been fellow B-Schoolers. The one who wasn’t, was referred by a B-Schooler!)

      ***Liz, did you verify all of the assumptions or methodology Nikki has communicated?

      I didn’t really communicate any particular methodology, and yes, she is in the B-School group and “first-hand witnessed” the whole thing, as she said. That’s why she approached me to do this interview. She’s also seen screenshots of my PayPal account that verify over $21k of payments in a span of (what was actually *four*) weeks, from 4/22 to 5/20.

      ***Quite frankly, for a new entrepreneur like Nikki, this is also dangerous because she’s overpromising and will be guaranteed to underdeliver.

      Not sure what you mean by “overpromising,” but just to clarify: My business isn’t about making $21k in six weeks. My business is about smart, authentic communication. Attracting ideal clients by presenting the best of yourself in your messaging. I can absolutely deliver on that, and have, all summer long.

      ***Closing thoughts

      This has been a whirlwind of a “launch party,” no doubt. I’m so thankful for the experience I’ve gained this summer, but this isn’t a pace I’m looking to sustain long-term. In fact, I’m currently creating an online course so I can leverage my time and help more people starting this fall. (That’s also mentioned on my website.)

      I appreciate you bringing this up, because I’m sure you’re not the only one with these Qs. Totally understandable. I sincerely hope you believe me (and my clients) that I’m not a sleazy scumbucket making false promises, but your opinion is yours, and there’s nothing I can do to control it. As Bill Cosby said, “I don’t know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everybody.” (Love that quote!)

      This whole experience has been such a crazy blessing. This story is and will always be a huge part of my business and experience, and as a whole, my clients, readers, and fellow entrepreneurs are inspired by it, not defeated by it.

      I truly believe there’s no earthly explanation for the past few months. As a Christian, I can only chalk it up to being “a God thing.”

      And I’m more than happy to share it.

      • ALSO – just one more thing to hopefully make this a more meaningful discussion (that’s not just about $$$):

        Before earning my 1st entrepreneurial dollar, I decided to donate 10% of my gross income to organizations I believe in, like Holden Uganda Foundation. The launch you’re reading about here fully funded a well for over 1,200 beautiful people in Uganda, completed in the first week of July.

        I shared the story (and photos) on my blog to encourage others to find a way to give, even when they feel like they may not have “enough”:

    • amy aversa says:

      I can see how you would be a bit skeptical about what Nikki has achieved, but I’ve worked with her and she provided a fantastic service. After our working session I sent her a note telling her I thought she was going to do very well–so I wasn’t the least bit surprised to hear about her monetary success in such a short amount of time. Nikki has that special mix of talent, smarts, experience and drive that are unstoppable when put into motion.

      I also achieved considerable monetary success in my first year of business. It was a lot of hard work, BUT it’s totally doable, even for us single moms.

      The downside to putting yourself/your story/your success out there is that there will always be skeptics. The upside is that the majority of people will be inspired and motivated by your story. Isn’t that the point?

  3. Toni says:

    As a fellow BSchooler, I just want to vouch for Nikki. I haven’t worked with her yet (but would love to!) but have seen her amazing talent and business growth in our private FB group. She is so sweet, sincere and smart! I don’t doubt her success one bit. She truly has a gift and I’ve seen first hand entrepreneurs flocking to her.

  4. HeatherLeigh says:

    I would just like to toss out that Nikki IS the real deal. I have worked with her personally and the value she is able to deliver in a very efficient amount of time is truly appreciated.

  5. Sumbul says:


    I have worked with Nikki for 2 of my businesses. We met through b-school at a time when I did not want to hire an expensive copy writer to write for me but I wanted to write my own copy and wanted to work with someone to make it better without changing the real content and message. Nikki did just that for me. I was able to get my message across without the word jubberish that tends to distract clients and since then I have had more sales than I used to before and my copy has given potential clients the clarity they needed to know my product.

    Like me there are several other entrepreneurs in b-school who had a copy but needed it to be awesome. Nikki came to so many of us at the perfect time. I’m officially launching my new website this week and I owe a lot of its brilliance to Nikki!

  6. Connie Holen says:

    Great post Liz, thanks! What is so cool about Nikki’s launch story is that it shows how when someone has a God-given talent for something, and the guts to boldly act on it, sometimes magic happens. As a newbie entreprenuer I totally realize that is not the norm, but it IS inspiring to see. I was one of Nikki’s very first clients and I can assure anyone that asks that I feel the value I got out my sessions with Nikki was worth every cent. And when a client feels like that, she can’t help but tell everyone she knows. Over-delivering on value early-on was another one of Nikki’s secrets to success!

  7. Terri says:

    The truth is Nikki did manage to get all those subscribers and clients and work with them as she was coming out of BSchool. She has the skills and talent and used her divine timing to pull it all together. She wasn’t afraid to step up to the plate and do it! I admire her for that! But, like any other entrepreneur she will have to stay on her game and keep it up. (That’s where the true success will come from.) I’ve no doubt that she will! Not everyone has that quick of success but there are some that do. We all have our own timing and the key is to just keep on your path and do your work with integrity… the rest will follow!

  8. Victoria says:

    Love –

    Thank you for being honest with your thoughts and concerns. I’m glad you’re speaking them. So often, we hide from really saying what we want or mean.

    I am not one of Nikki’s clients (yet?) and I want to touch on one of the things that you mention – the struggles and challenges entrepreneurs face, and especially the ones you mention you work with.

    I’ll speak for myself, but you are dead on. I face my own internal struggles when offering my talents to the world. Should I do this? Will it turn out ok? etc.

    As an outsider looking in and watching Nikki grow herself as an entrepreneur, watching Nikki own herself and her strengths has made the biggest difference – not the numbers (although those are VERY impressive!).

    Some people proclaim confidence like icing a mud pie. It’s a valid concern!

    I have never met Nikki, and I could never claim to know someone else’s struggles, and yet I can’t say I see any mud.

    From what I have seen, Nikki has a wealth of experience (that we often don’t acknowledge or notice when examining someone else).

    Behind impeccable timing is often a lot of work.

  9. I’ve worked with Nikki once and would do it again in a heartbeat. In fact I plan to as soon as I have all my content written and in place. I truly believe she is a superstar in her field and would trust her entirely to edit all of my written work. Her success is as real and honest as it gets. This girl has skills and she’s dead on when it comes to communication.

    I can understand one’s skepticism but when it comes to Nikki, she’s the real deal. As she says “there’s no fakey pants” with her. She genuine and authentic and this shines through in her work. My hour session with her flew by and left me wanting more of her talent.

    In fact, many of the women I have met through Marie Forleo’s B-School have been amazing. It’s probably the best group of women (and a few men) you could ever come across. Nikki’s the real deal – professional, effective, smart.

  10. Authenticity and integrity are words that easily describe Nikki Elledge Brown and the work she does. B-School happened to be the place where everything converged to blast off Nikki’s business. Her talent, the platform (private fb group), and her ideal clients (all needing copy at the same time) was the perfect mix to generate such crazy numbers. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed watching Nikki’s success and LOVED our call together and follow up email. Marie Forleo’s B-School is all about making a difference doing what you love and Nikki sure is doing that. Making a difference not just for satisfied customers but also families in Uganda. This story is a great example of hard work, talent, determination, compassion, faith and fun. Long may Nikki’s success continue!!!!! Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. Jen Smith says:

    I have had the true pleasure of working with Nikki and she’s an amazing writer, thought starter and entrepreneur. The key to her success is that she’s open, honest and kicks serious a@#$ at following up – a trait that I LOVE as a fellow type A Woo! I can’t wait to see her continue to rock it and share every second with us! You go girl!

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