I DID IT! I can't express how excited I am to share this final grant report because this journey really pushed me to becoming a greater content creator, business owner and advocate for web monetization.
The goal of this grant was to build an entirely new web monetized website on Wordpress, before distributing free Coil trial memberships to my existing MICOPEIA.com customers, as a value proposition for those interested in taking my herbalism workshops and courses. My initial proposal had some lofty ambitions of being able to build an entirely new website THEN figure out a membership service plugin component. Honestly, because of my past experiences with Wordpress, I thought it would be a breeze...but it wasn't.
...and somewhere in those moments of tech frustration that would ebb and flow from June-July this year, I realized something: the goal of my grant is to successfully be an example to other small business owners that web monetization can be a powerful and EASY tool to adopt; however, who am I to expect that every small business owner is proficient enough to build a whole new website BEFORE offering their own value proposition to onboard folks to engage with their Coil-exclusive content?!
I legit realized: "Rashon, this is not practical and/or realistic...AT ALL!"
So I went back to the drawing board to honor the work I'd already been doing on my website and business, to align my efforts alongside the growth of web monetization. I suddenly realized - "I need to make this all make sense for other small business owners, with a specific focus on fellow owners building their stores and communities on Shopify."
This was a major wake up and shifting moment in my journey.
Doing this, I was able to reach out to some developers during the last 45 days of my grant funding, and together, we were able to figure out how to create a courses section RIGHT ON MY OWN EXISTING WEBSITE/STORE/SHOPIFY! This is HUGE because now, my customers/community members don't have to go to an entirely new website and space to access my educational content; rather, everything is ALL IN HOUSE! Now, customers can purchase a workshop and/or course (the first course is available for FREE), and then, I am able to create sections of my courses for BONUS CONTENT that is web monetized!
Some perks of this shift also include the fact that all of the videos through my courses are self-hosted which means that I don't have to upload them on YouTube, keeping them exclusive to my space. Also - this journey forced me to build new friendships and strengthen older alliances.
In researching how to make Shopify compatible with web monetization, I was able to make friends with tech grantees from the XRPL Grant program who are working to facilitate micropayments with Shopify through their grant. Im hoping between linking that team with the developers behind my courses, we'll be able to figure out how to create built in gated sections to my courses that are only accessible by Coil subscription! I also found out that XUMM wallet creator Wietse Wind has hopes to integrate the ILP within the XUMM wallet, and has been trying to work with Shopify on integrating XUMM within the platform. So...we are very close to the cusp of game-changing innovation between web monetization and Shopify...which is MAJOR!
In the meantime, to keep this experiment with a value proposition alive, my dear buddy and amazing soul Adam from gFam (and fellow GFTW grantee) came through with a whole superhero cape on. Now - I will be hosting the bonus web monetized content, in addition to even more exclusive content, on gFam Learn! A new space dedicated for gFam users to share lessons and tutorials, I can make content Coil-exclusive, simply linking my MICOPEIA.com courses directly to my gFam Learn lessons! This means that I can still distribute those free Coil trials to my customers/community members, in order for them to access my bonus content!
"To successfully introduce my existing community to web monetization while being an example for other small businesses to look towards, the leading objective in this proposal is to build an entirely new web monetized Wordpress website to host my educational wellness workshops and courses. Then, as a value proposition for customers, offer complimentary free 1-month trial subscriptions to Coil with every purchase they make, thereby introducing them and potentially onboarding them to web monetization via a content creator/small business owner they already know and support."
Amazing things happen when you get out of your own way, and I love going back and reading my initial intentions with this round of grant funding. Sure, things didn't execute exactly how I had planned, but they certainly have worked out much better than I had dreamed of.
I haven't really done a proper announcement that the first FREE course is now available on my website and so far, in the first 24 hours, close to 20 people have already completed it! When I share the news about Coil, bonus content and how they can get free trials...I think we may break the internet.
Throughout October, I will be promoting the new courses section, the MICOPEIA x gFam content partnership (which is web monetization promotion) and distributing those Coil trials.
For reference, here were the deliverables that I outlined in my initial proposal:
~~1. Completion of Writing 3 Evergreen Webinars/Courses in Wellness and Herbalism
- Completion of the New MICOPEIA Web Monetized Wordpress Website
- Acquiring 300, 1-month free trial subscription codes from Coil
- Dedicated social media posts/ads marketed towards promoting the new workshops and courses~~
- Distributing 1-month free trial Coil subscription codes to customers who make a purchase at MICOPEIA.com
- Social media contests seeking followers to nominate a woman or POC to receive a MICOPEIA Care Package that includes a 1-month free trial Coil subscription to access the new web monetized website's content
- Completing a 60-day post-project completion report examining how many users renewed their memberships after the 1-month trial
As far as key activities, as stated in my grant progress report, I needed a 30-day extension due to a residence move I had to make towards the beginning of the grant funded period; moreover, with those technical delays I faced after the move, I wasn't able to distribute trial codes or start the social media contests according to my proposed timeline, and now those activities are planned for October! So PLEASE - make sure you're checking me out next month because there's a bunch of conversation about web monetization that will be taking place, as I encourage folk to check out my herbal workshops and bonus content.
Sometime before the end of the year, ideally at the Interledger Summit, I'll share details and data from my post-project completion report so we can see how many of those trial members actually ended up signing up for Coil after the trial ended.
I made sure to budget for social media marketing, primarily on my two most active social media channels - TikTok and Instagram.
...and y'all...I AM TAKING OFF!
If you've been riding with MICOPEIA since the before and/or the earliest days of Coil, you remember me before I even had a TikTok (which was created during the first round of grant funding in 2020) and my MICOPEIA instagram only had a few hundred followers.
Well, I can't shout it loud enough from the mountain tops that GFTW, Coil and Interledger have changed my life...because with the social media marketing and communications for this grant period, I have gained over 8,000 new Instagram Followers and 20,000 TikTok Followers since I began pushing/boosting posts that promote the new courses! THIS IS SOOOO HUGE! I now have close to 9,000 Followers on Instagram and over 67,000 Followers on TikTok.
Well, I already have 3 completed courses that I am slowly releasing, in an effort to promote Coil user retention (a la _Stick around and renew your Coil membership because a new course is coming next month), and I will be starting to distribute those Coil trials in the next few days!
I am genuinely excited about having completed this whole integrated system of content and business in a way that I can stand on any platform and teach others! My sales have taken off, community engagement is through the roof on social media and people are already taking my classes! I dreamed of this moment a few years back and never could I have imagined it would be a new community and technology that would come along to bring it to fruition...but by golly...I am so incredibly grateful and blessed.
...and y'all! The MICOPEIA community feels it too! They are so excited about this content and opportunities to learn more about investing in themselves, valuing their content and their time online. I even have requests to do a LIVE workshop so I can explain GFTW to my community and how they can get involved! So THANK YOU for truly supporting me to this amazing new level ...in LIFE!
As far as small businesses and content creators using web monetization, I genuinely know that MICOPEIA is just the first example of what's to come, and we are still at the very early stages.
I truly look forward to working more closely with gFam, Coil, GFTW and Interledger to keep advancing what we're doing AND to bring more people into our communities!
SIGN UP FOR THE WORKSHOPS!
The first workshop/lesson is already up. Go ahead, sign up, go through it and then get ready for the next one to be released in October. The best part? You're already a Coil subscriber so you'll be able to access the bonus content on gFam with NO issues!
I'll be adding a space to allow for participants to leave course comments and engage with other students in the workshops, AND I'll be hosting Coil-exclusive LIVE workshops on my website (hosted through a private YouTube stream)...so follow me!