How Vocal Coach Felicia Ricci Uses Video + Email to Turn Her Passion Into a Thriving Business
By Kristen Dunleavy December 15, 2015
Some people know her as Elphaba, but her subscribers just call her Fel. No matter how you know Felicia Ricci, one thing’s for sure: she’s a vocal coach with a knack for helping singers of all levels find their inner voice.
Felicia’s path to finding her passion was a little different. For starters, her first job out of college was understudy for the lead role of Elphaba Thropp in the musical Wicked. That experience inspired her to write and self-publish a book about it.
“The experience of being in this mega musical was so bizarre to me, and I couldn’t believe that no one had written about it,” she said. “It was fulfilling and rewarding in a lot of ways, but it made me realize I didn’t want to do theater my whole life.”
Around the time Felicia wrote her book, she also began creating videos teaching people how to sing songs from Wicked. That’s when everything clicked. The response to her book and videos snowballed and gave her the confidence to pursue her passion.
These days, Felicia supports herself with her passion. She’s formed a thriving community, including more than 40,000 email subscribers.
How does she do it?
“YouTube is my funnel into email. Email is the backbone of my business. That’s how I’ve been able to monetize,” she said.
But there’s a lot more to it than that. Read on to learn how Felicia creates awesome video content and how she uses it along with email marketing to grow her business.
Quick Stats on Felicia Ricci
Number of subscribers: 40K+
Average open rate: 25%
Average click-through rate: 5.26%
YouTube views: 600K-900K per month
Find your community
It’s not easy to build a following. Sometimes, you need to go where your audience already is. That’s what lead Felicia to YouTube – it just made sense for her business.
“YouTube just happens to be a place where people are hungry for singing and how-to videos,” she said. “I don’t search Google, I’ll more likely go to YouTube. That’s personally how I learn. I knew quickly that I wanted to work with people who were similar in that way. It was my instinct to say that YouTube is the place where singing tips can thrive. That’s the first reason I had success on YouTube.”
If you’re just starting to get the word out about your business, find where your ideal audience hangs out online. Then, get involved in that community and start building relationships. Growing your following won’t feel so daunting when you have friends in the right places.
Create awesome video content
Once Felicia found her community, she had to consistently deliver stellar content to them. In her case, that meant creating compelling videos.
Video can do wonders for your marketing, even if you’re not belting out the tunes in Broadway’s hottest musical (but it doesn’t hurt). If you’re considering using videos to get the word out about your business, Felicia has a few tips for you.
First and foremost? Be yourself.
“People grossly underestimate how important it is to be yourself on camera,” she said. “That’s one of my greater assets. I feel when I’m in front of the camera, I can talk to people. I think people really relate to people who can make mistakes and be conversational.”
Speak your audience’s language, be honest and own up to your mistakes. People will love you for it.
Next, remember that it’s what’s inside your video that counts. If you have great content, it doesn’t matter if you’re shooting on an iPhone.
“Content quality trumps production value,” Felicia said. “My long belt-singing course, which I make the majority of my income from, was filmed on an iPhone. I keep saying I should redo it because it doesn’t look exactly right, but it’s me. It’s completely me and people respond to it.”
And if you have a great idea? Pursue it. Today.
“At first, it’s gonna be messy,” she said. “Connect first, figure out what you want to say, then assemble it into a nicer, pleasing package. Design is important, but if that’s a reason why you’re not starting yet, don’t let it hold you back.”
Turn your casual viewers into subscribers
Community? Check. Solid video content? Check. Now Felicia needed to seal the deal and convert her viewers into members of her tribe. That’s where email marketing comes in.
“For a while, I thought I could rely on YouTube ads for my income,” she said. “But it’s not sustainable. Instead, YouTube is where I reach out to millions of people who are on the site worldwide and ask them to opt into my email. Email is how I get people into my tribe and my singer community. Then I’ll sell products through the email channel. Email is the heart of my business.”
Felicia has dozens of free singing lessons on her YouTube channel, ranging from tips for singing high notes to how to sing “Hello” by Adele. She also has a longer, more detailed email course called the Belting Crash Course that she promotes at the end of each of her YouTube videos. Like her YouTube videos, this course is 100 percent free. It’s exclusive to her subscribers, so people have to sign up for her email list to access it.
“I have annotations throughout my videos that say, ‘Want to learn how to belt for free? Check this out!’” Felicia said. “In the video description, I link to it too. Reinforce it as much as you can, but you don’t want to be annoying about it. You want to make sure people enjoy your content first before you ask them to do something, otherwise you’re being needy.”
People can also opt into her email course using a sign up form on her website. It looks like this:
Once people opt into her list, they’re taken to a thank you page that explains what they can expect out of the course and a personal thank you from Felicia herself. To create her sign up form and landing pages, Felicia used Megaphone.
After that, her new subscribers receive an autoresponder series containing the three videos in her belting course. Felicia’s emails are plain text and read as though they’re written to a friend. Here’s what the first email in her email course looks like:
When they click on the link for her course, they’re taken to a landing page with her video. Her video courses live on a Weebly site. It looks like this:
The course itself is extremely detailed and provides a ton of value.
“I’ve gotten feedback from people saying they’re surprised it’s free,” Felicia said. “It’s an offer you can’t refuse.”
It isn’t until her subscribers reach the end of her free email course that Felicia promotes her premium paid course. By this point, they’ve received a lot of incredibly valuable, free content. Some of them might be ready for the next level. It makes sense to ask them if they’d like to continue learning with a longer, more comprehensive course that has a tuition fee.
“The important part is there’s a sequence to it,” she said. “It gets people interested and shows them there’s value to be had so I’m not just asking for a sale right off the bat. It’s not like, ‘Did you like my one YouTube video? Pay me $50!’”
And if they say no? That’s OK. You can use email marketing to play the long game, like Felicia does.
Play the long game with email
When it’s time to promote your paid product or service, not everyone will be eager to buy. In fact, most of them won’t. But you can use email marketing to build stronger relationships with those people over time. And maybe, just maybe, down the road some of those people will become paying customers. That’s how you play the long game with email marketing.
“Give stuff to people who may not be able to afford to buy, but it’s at no cost to you,” Felicia said. “You’re just putting content out there for people who are interested. The good thing is you don’t need a lot of people coming into your email list to make a meaningful amount of sales. It’s passive income.”
Keeping all of your subscribers engaged – not just paying customers – is super important for growing your business. In addition to her free and paid courses, Felicia keeps her subscribers engaged with a bi-weekly newsletter.
“I give people the opportunity to sign up for my general newsletter,” she said. “The call to action there is free singing tip videos to build your confidence. The idea is that I keep in constant communication, but not in an annoying way. I’m not someone who emails unless I have something to say, otherwise people will delete it.”
Put feedback to work
For Felicia, one of the biggest benefits of staying in touch with her subscribers is the regular feedback she gets from them. That feedback is a source of constant inspiration for her video content.
“Sometimes in the P.S. of my email I’ll say, ‘Did you like this video? You can comment, but you can also just hit reply and let me know,’” she said. “Sometimes their questions will inspire my next video. It’s handy from a business development perspective because you can just talk to people.”
When it’s time to create that content, she always works with her ideal customer in mind.
“It’s important to me to have a really clear idea of the kind of customer I want to draw,” she said. “You want to be specific about the stuff you write about. For me, my singing tips videos really skew toward self-development and self-confidence and the mindsets that go behind singing. I call myself a voice finder because that’s my approach to singing. The way I teach is geared toward that approach. When I try and think of a topic, I think, what would that ideal customer want to learn about when it comes to singing?”
Use feedback from your subscribers to constantly improve your content. If people have questions or comments, respond to them whenever possible. Giving your audience personalized attention not only makes them feel special, it gives you a good reputation and helps you market your business.
Make Felicia’s tips work for you
Felicia was practically bursting with great ideas to help move your business forward. Here are some key takeaways.
- Find where your ideal audience hangs out online, then get involved with that community.
- If you’re creating video content, be your most authentic self in your videos.
- Give away awesome content for free. Only then can you ask people to buy from you.
- Keep all of your subscribers engaged via email, regardless of whether they’re a paying customer. You never know who you’ll convert in the long game.
- Ask for feedback often to stay connected with your subscribers. Then, use it to inform your content.
And if you’re still hesitating on getting started? Here are Felicia’s parting words of advice.
“Start before you’re ready,” she said. “Everything I’ve done has been done with a lot of discomfort at first. There’s no way to think your way through feeling ready. You have to learn by doing it, making a bunch of mistakes, but knowing that people will still embrace what you’re doing if what you’re doing is of value.”