For the love of all things holy, stop marketing. Do this first.

My God, there’s a lot of shit involved in getting a business rolling.

This is assuming you have a business. That you know what you’re doing/selling. A really common problem for people in passion businesses is they don’t have anything to sell.

I’m a life coach is not a business.

I’m an artist/I make shit/ I’m really good at interior design–want some? is not a business

Fuck the patriarchy is not a business

Writing a blog is not a business. Even if you’re a feminist life coach artist who has a lot to offer–it’s not a business.

The interwebs are full– FULL of advice about marketing your wares.Some of the advice is sleazy. Some is awesome. Some is basic. Some is shallow. But it’s all moot if you don’t have something to sell.

You better know what your wares are before you worry about trying to market them.

Marketing overview (assuming you know what you’re marketing): the basics

  1. Figure out who your people are.
  2. Go where they hang out.
  3. Be helpful.
  4. Ask for their business.


  • Communicate on social media.
  • Blog.
  • Start a newsletter.
  • Pricing.
  • Build a website.
  • Branding and identity.
  • Vision board.
  • Manifest.
  • Figure out the technology.
  • Elevator speech.
  • About 8 zillion other things.

Does this list freak you out?

If you find yourself trying to figure everything out that I just listed, I bet you’re tired. Overwhelmed. Not getting anywhere. Starting to worry about money, like really worry about it.

Getting a j.o.b. is just around the corner.

Stop focusing on the tools and get clear on the why.

When you get really, really clear on your why you’ll be closer to having something to offer people.

Building the perfect newsletter template and sign up box won’t get you jack if you don’t know what your newsletter is about or who it’s for or why you’re doing it.

It’s like building a house by focusing on the screwdriver set and never thinking about the house you’re building. If you don’t know you’re building a house, you might end up with a boat. Nothing wrong with boats, people. As long as you don’t really want a house.

3 questions

What do you do?

For whom?

How do you profit from it?

My answers:

I’m a life, body and business coach. For entrepreneurial spirits. I earn $ from 1:1 coaching and groups. My coaching and classes solve specific problems that funky entrepreneurial spirits have. They want to go deeper within themselves and want to solve whatever is standing in their way. I teach them how to stop overeating so they don’t have to be food’s bitch. And how to build their lives and businesses based on what’s awesome about them, rather than what they think they should be doing. My 1:1 and group programs solve these problems.

I’m working on an awesome product that will do this about 1,000 times better and without my having to be present.

Any marketing stuff I study will help me create things for those people to solve those problems. There are several very specific problems that those types of people have. I can create any number of things to help them. That is my business. Those are my people.

I’m clear.

I took Marie Forleo’s Rich, Happy, and Hot B-School last year. It’s an awesome program. And I got a lot out of it. But I would have gotten about a zillion times more if I’d had something specific to market.

If you have something to sell, take it. (affiliate link) It starts 6/11. It’s the most comprehensive and best marketing program I’ve seen. I answered specific questions here.

If you don’t know what you’re selling, wait.

I’m really good at helping with that. I love entrepreneurs in the early stages of business–that place when they’re either trying ot figure out what to sell or trying to figure out what it is that they’re trying to sell. So, either they’re figuring out how to make $ as an artist or they’re trying to figure out what kind of artist business they’re creating. If you’re in that new stage, you don’t need marketing help. You need focus. Clarity. The right questions. I’m your girl for that.

Can you answer those 3 questions? I’d love to hear your answers in the comments. If you’re missing part of it, we can work through it together.











23 Responses to For the love of all things holy, stop marketing. Do this first.

  1. Rebecca May 13, 2012 at 7:29 pm #

    I help people bring meaning to parenting.

    I do this for young parents who are just figuring the parenting thing out; for parents in crisis and for people trying to parent themselves through a significant transition.

    I do it with classes and 1:1 coaching.

    GREAT questions. Great article!

  2. admin May 13, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Rebecca girl,

    What does “meaning” mean? Are they new parents? Parents of drug addicted teens? Parents in personal crisis or who have kids in crisis?

    How will I know if I run into someone I should send to you?


  3. doni-marie May 13, 2012 at 9:02 pm #

    I can’t even keep the three questions fresh in my mind without checking! I lack clarity due to traumatic events in my life. I will stab at the answers to the questions, and I will miss for sure! But it’s a start:
    1) I represent new perspectives through storytelling; I teach through writing compelling stories.
    2) My people are readers who give themselves over to new beauty by relating to the common threads that unite uncommon worlds.
    3) I profit from this by starting with Sarah Yost so I can get out of my own way and continue through my project to the publishing aspects, which include forms of business mentioned above. xodm

    • admin May 14, 2012 at 6:50 pm #

      So what do you sell? Stories?

  4. Leona Mizrahi May 14, 2012 at 6:03 pm #

    Dang girl! Dig your post + your straight forward approach. It’s what more of us need to hear.

    What do you do :: evolutionary catalyst

    For whom :: spiritualists

    How do you profit from it :: 1:1 + group coaching – currently in content building process

    • admin May 14, 2012 at 6:51 pm #

      I like. What is an evolutionary catalyst?

  5. Laurie Rosenfeld May 14, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Well said Sarah! I agree with you 100% that B-School is WAY more valuable when you’re clear about each of these three questions: What you do, For whom, and How you profit from it. The only caveat I would add to what you have written is that when I took B-School last year I *thought* I was clear about all three. It was in the process of doing B-School and gaining access to so many other entrepreneurs and resources that I realized I was not clear enough, not specific enough.

    One year later, after taking B-School, and due to some intense brand strategy work I have done with someone I met through B-School, I can answer your questions with clarity:

    I am a Career Strategist, Change Catalyst and Executive Coach. I am a thought partner for successful executive women who have checked off all the boxes of success by external standards and are dissatisfied. They know they are capable of more. I help them achieve the clarity they need to claim their full potential, make their greatest impact, and create success on their own terms. As a result of our 1:1 work, my clients feel vital and alive. They are bringing their highest and best selves to the world. They are authoring their own lives and tuning into their own internal compass. I will soon be adding group programs and retreats.

    I love your clarity Sarah! xoxo

    • admin May 14, 2012 at 6:52 pm #

      Fuck yes!!! Love it. That. is. clear.

  6. Kerrie Blazek | In Her Element May 15, 2012 at 2:54 am #

    Great questions, Sarah! When I took B-school last year I had very little clarity and it was tough to market and grow a business. Now I’m pretty sure I’ve have answers…

    What do you do? I teach women how to be HAPPY + have FUN, in order to produce magical results in their lives!

    For whom? Women aged 25-45 who are looking for life’s On Ramp. I work with ladies who are awakening spiritually (students of Abraham Hicks, The Secret, Mama Gena’s School of Womanly Arts) and want to move from the intellectualization of ideas into an embodied practice of happiness.

    How do you profit from it? I teach online teleclasses: The 40-Day Feel Good Challenge (launching July 6) and coach select women one-on-one. I also have a second class in development: Savor & Celebrate!

    • admin May 16, 2012 at 4:11 am #

      I love that you say they are awakening spiritually. That is a very specific spot. LIkey.

  7. Heather Lentz | We Be Healthy May 16, 2012 at 12:50 am #

    I am also B-school graduate from last year and a currently taking Hustle Your Business Bootcamp. So I hope I can get this one right by now!

    1. What do you do?
    My business is We Be Healthy.
    I am a Health Strategist, Recovery Advocate & ReDiscovery Activist
    I change people’s lives by teaching them changes that they can make that can impact their health.

    2. For whom?
    I help people heal and Be Healthy, to recover from an illness, accident or past lifestyle.

    3. How do you profit from it?
    I teach 1:1 coaching and coaching programs; teach cooking classes; sell weight loss products, supplements and cookbooks. I provide customized strategies, solutions and guidance so they can take control of their health and start living the healthy lifestyle they deserve.


    • admin May 16, 2012 at 4:12 am #

      customized strategies–like a coaching program or strategy session?

  8. Erika May 16, 2012 at 4:09 am #

    Love the questions!

    At first I was like, what? I don’t know! But then I listened to my heart and the answers where right there!

    What do you do?
    I design and make visual art – clothes & accessories & photography

    For whom?
    For dreamers and lovers of beautiful things

    How do you profit from it?
    By making this world a more beautiful place – one handmade piece at a time!

    Thank you so much! ♥

    • admin May 16, 2012 at 4:12 am #

      So, how do you make money? What do you sell?

  9. Anastasia Valentine May 16, 2012 at 9:16 pm #


    I help businesses identify their profitable ideas and bring them to market!

    I work with amazing solopreneurs to BILLION dollar companies!

    I profit by providing unbeatable services from myself and my amazing team of professionals!

    wow that just felt good writing down. THANK YOU Sarah!

    • admin May 17, 2012 at 3:01 am #

      You’re clear. THANK YOU!

  10. Jess May 16, 2012 at 11:22 pm #

    I create teaching tools that are fun and easy to use to help business owners and entrepreneurs tackle their tech fears. I want to empower them to own their technology, instead of the other way around….and if I told you how long it took me to figure this out…OY VEY!! But B School helped, without question. And a lot of soul searching, which I’m still doing.

    • admin May 17, 2012 at 3:01 am #

      Oy to the Vey. I know. I hear ya.

  11. I love, love, love that you focused on being sure to have something to sell before you get all caught up in the marketing. B-School was great but I am with you:: I would have learned a zillion times more if I was clear + had something to sell. So…I’m still refining (aren’t we always?!) but here are my answers.

    I create operational plans and strategies for creative entrepreneurs who have a new idea every second and can’t get focused enough to take solid action. I am their start-up business partner and virtual COO for a limited engagement.

    I work almost exclusively with solo entrepreneurs who are seriously committed to their businesses – no jobbyists! I also consult with larger companies on team dynamics and getting a solid operating structure in place that accommodates growth, change and team turnover.

    I make money largely through 1:1 contracting with a product (that runs without me!) in development.

    How awesome does that feel?! Holy wow, girl!

    Jennifer Peek
    Find Your New Groove
    Left-Brained Strategy for Right-Brained Entrepeneurs

    • admin May 17, 2012 at 3:02 am #

      awesome. I love that you make money with a product that runs w/o you.

  12. I absolutely agree with you, Sarah, you will get so much more out of bschool if you are crystal clear, have a service + products to promote.

    Here are my answers (great Qs by the way)

    I teach women entrepreneurs how to break-free from the daily grind of their business, so they can build a highly profitable and productive empire that doesn’t depend solely on THEM, all while having more fun, fulfillment & freedom.

    In short, I help them stop trying to do it all so they can enjoy it all 🙂

    I work exclusively with successful women entrepreneurs who are determined to create highly profitable businesses that yield dazzling lifestyles.

    I currently make my cashola via 1:1 private coaching. But, soon, very soon, I will add online group workshops/coaching and info products to my revenue streams (long overdue).

    Of course none of this is etched in stone, its always involving 😉

    Good stuff, Sarah!

  13. admin May 17, 2012 at 3:03 am #

    Your “in short” statement is crystal clear. Crystal.

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