Announcing the Small Farm Nation Academy

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Where oh where can you go to learn all the skills you need to market your farm business? Today I’m going to tell you about the greatest farm tool you can invest in this year, the one that will help you to get growing!

Hey guys, and I don’t mean to suggest that you’re all men. I mean, more than 50% of my followers are female. But I just use “guys” to mean the same as “folks” so…you know what I mean.

So hey guys. 

Today I want to officially announce the Small Farm Nation Academy.

Now, talk about a belated announcement!

I opened the Small Farm Nation Academy late last year, in October.  So, yeah, we’re talking about 10 months ago.

Okay, so what is the Small Farm Nation Academy?

Small Farm Nation Academy is an online membership site. You subscribe to it, just like you subscribe to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, HBO and countless other subscription services.

Those services are great, and I subscribe to most of them. But they’re playgrounds. They’re distractions. They’re for relaxing, unwinding and family time.

Small Farm Nation Academy isn’t a playground. Rather, it’s focused solely on high-quality training content to teach you how to build your brand and market your farm business.

It’s where you’ll learn how to attract customers rather than constantly hunting for them. It’ll teach you how to become the preferred brand in your marketplace rather than just another farm. Or worse yet, a farm that no one knows about.

Small Farm Nation Academy is all about helping you become an expert marketer so that your farm will become truly sustainable. Because if you’re not financially sustainable, you’re flat out not sustainable at all.

And you can’t be financially sustainable without customers. True, profits drive sustainability, not top-line revenue. But if you don’t have the revenue…meaning the sales from customers, what chance do you have to be profitable?

Zilch. You got no chance.

So profits always start with sales. That means marketing is job one. So that’s what I teach and what you’ll learn inside Small Farm Nation Academy.

Okay, fine, but why a membership site? Why not just create a simple farm marketing course?

That’s a good question, if I do say so myself. Thanks Tim. And, it’s one I struggled with because creating a course is so much simpler than creating a full-blown membership site.

For one, the technology is much simpler for a course. You just record the videos, create a few simple PDFs as learning aids and upload it. You don’t even need a custom site. There are plenty of platforms, such as teachable, Kajabi and others to easily host your course.

Easy peasy lemon squeezy.

Another reason  courses are much simpler than membership sites is that they’re basically one and done. Create the content, upload to your platform and then just create a funnel to market the course.

By contrast, a core feature of membership sites is that new content is released frequently. At least once a month. Just like you get new shows to watch on your favorite television subscriptions.

And, as Small Farm Nation Academy members know, I’ve created tons of content, releasing new content almost weekly since launch. This has resulted in a big library of content already which will certainly grow in the weeks, months and years to come.

That content is critically important to members because they’re all, and you’re all, at different stages of your farm business. And you have different skills. Some are already skilled with, say, copywriting but lack skills in list building, while others are strong with web design but suffer from ineffective copywriting.

So a rich training library allows members to pick and choose what training they need to solve the most pressing marketing challenges they have at that moment.

And there are a bunch more reasons why a membership site such as Small Farm Nation Academy is way more complex than a simple farm marketing course. Those reasons get into why I chose the membership model rather than a course format.

So let me explain.

Okay, the most important thing I wanted to accomplish with this product, the Small Farm Nation Academy, was to truly make a difference in the life of family farmers. To be there on an ongoing basis to help them with whatever their business or marketing challenge was.

I felt I could better achieve that standing beside them on a monthly basis rather than offering a one-time course. I knew from experience that you’d need help not just once, but on an ongoing basis.

Maybe this month you have questions about your farm brand. Choosing a name, designing you brand identity and so on.

Next month the questions might be technical, but basic. Such as creating a modern, responsive website, understanding the differences between Squarespace, Wix, Weebly and the others, and how to decide.

Or getting a firm grip on the three levels of search engine optimization, choosing compelling images or basic graphic design.

Later you’ll have questions on go-to-market strategies. Should you choose farmers markets, CSA’s, metropolitan buying clubs or drop points, selling to restaurants, distributors and retailers. You’ll want to know how to pitch chefs and may have fears to overcome. You may struggle to get into the best farmers markets and need help.

And lots more examples. Believe me, you’re going to want and need help with your farm business on an ongoing basis. And that’s what I wanted to be available for. To help you get the answers that are right for you when you need them.

Now does that mean I have all the answers?

Of course not…but I have a lot of experience that can serve you.

In one way shape or form, I’ve spent the last 30+ years engaged in marketing. God I hate to say that…30+ years. Damn….that’s old. No wonder it’s getting harder to keep up with my six-year old daughter.

Anyway…back on point.

I’ve been in marketing a long time. Seen all the changes, all the technologies come and go, and understand how the pieces fit together. I also know you can’t build a sustainable business without effective marketing, and that you won’t command premium prices and be the preferred brand without exceptional marketing.

So I honed my marketing chops in the corporate world. Working first for large, B2B communications giants before starting my own business in 1995. Then I built that business into the 130th fastest growing business in America according to Inc. Magazine.

But as I’ve said and written about many times, I left all that behind. Who knows what the real catalyst was. Michael Pollan and Joel Salatin played a role, but honestly only after we had decided to ditch the rat race. Maybe it was the fact that I spent two years writing for Foxfire magazine in my final two years of high school, and it was time for me to go full circle.

Whatever the reason, I was called to the land. So we started a sustainable livestock farm and produced…everything. I mean everything.

Grassfed beef with a herd of Murray Grey cattle. Grassfed lamb with a large flock of Katahdin sheep. Woodlot pork, first with Berkshires, then Large Blacks before finally settling on the Ossabaw Island breed of pigs. And we had hundreds of them.

We also had two eggmobiles, each with 400 hens in it. And tons of chicken tractors with heritage breed chickens, but also Pekin ducks, geese and lots of American Chinchilla rabbits.

After a few years of that we decided we needed more. Or at least I did…my wife wanted a bit of a simpler life, but my entrepreneurial side was still eager to explore farm enterprises.

So we opened a dairy, built up to 24 beautiful Jersey cows and began milking twice a day. We sold some of that milk as raw milk, but my interest was in cheese making.

So I got a 1,000 pound vat and began making cheese. I never even made a wheel of cheese at home. Not once. My first time making cheese I made 50 wheels of Camembert. Then I went on to make blue, Gruyere and clothbound cheddar as my primary cheeses.

They won awards at the United States Cheese Championship, The American Cheese Society, the World Jersey cheese awards, the Good Food Awards and elsewhere.

We loved farm life and and we love farm life now. I still make cheese a few times a week and sell it through a herd share program.

I suspect you love this lifestyle too if you’re listening to this. But…and listen up here because this is really important…you can’t live this lifestyle unless you can pay for it. And the way we pay for it is getting customers to support what we’re producing from the land.

Whether it be soap, medicinal herbs, fibre, mushrooms, meat, fruit, dairy, spirits or agritourism, you gotta get customers.

Otherwise you’re running a super expensive hobby. And you’ll probably go broke. Because as the old saying goes, “There’s a lot of money in farming. I know because I put it there.”

I was fortunate to be able to combine my experience and skill in all aspects of marketing with my passion for sustainable agriculture and local food. And I’m as passionate about it today as I was 12 years ago when I took my first steps out of the rat race.

But the way I want to help today, to make an impact, is by helping you. By helping as many farmers as I can to create farm businesses that will sustain them financially and spiritually.

And that’s why I created the Small Farm Nation Academy. To be there to serve my members.

So, here’s what’s inside Small Farm Nation Academy.

There are several completed training courses. As of this episode, those completed courses include:

  • The Farm Business Mindset. This is a 6-lesson video course that includes the one-page farm business plan, and a template for creating your own.
  • The How to Develop Your Farm Brand course is an 8-video lesson course. It includes your own fillable Brand Development blueprint, as well as lessons and tools on choosing your farm name and how to design your logo.
  • The 9-video Website Design & Development course shows you all the sins most farm websites create, gives you a template to outline your website strategy blueprint, walks you through the differences between site builders such as Squarepace, Wix and the rest, teaches you SEO, shows you how to set up a WordPress site and more.
  • Speaking of WordPress, I have a 20-video course on everything you’ll need to know about setting up and maintaining a WordPress site. Truly awesome stuff.
  • Then there’s my Email List Building Course. This is a 13-video course that covers everything from choosing email list providers and optimizing your site for email sign-up to advanced list building tools and tactics for driving traffic to your site. I promise you that courses of this caliber, just this email list building course, are routinely sold for $1,000 or more online. And this one is better than those (I’ve seen them) and it’s included free in the Small Farm Nation Academy.
  • I’ve included, get this, a 21-video course on setting up a WooCommerce online store. If you’re using WordPress, and you should be and I explain why in my website course, then you’ll want to have a WooCommerce store to sell online. Even if you’re just listing and selling farm events.
  • Okay, we’re far from done. I also have a comprehensive 8-video Farm Copywriting course. It’s an awesome course that teaches you why people are turned off by your copy, how to find BENEFITS that matter to customers, how to write winning headlines and subject lines, power and persuasion words and more. And don’t fool yourself…we’re all copywriters in this day and age. This course will help you to stand out and get results from your copy.
  • Then there’s the Content Marketing course, which I just released last month. It’s a 9-video course on how to create a content marketing strategy, how to discover relevant topics and specific blog post ideas, 13 rules for great blot posts, how to promote and recycle content and more.
  • Plus there’s another completed course in the Small Farm Nation Academy, and that connects to another benefit I’d like to discuss. It’s the FarmPress Customization course. Which begs the question…what is FarmPress?

Glad you asked, Tim 😉

An amazing benefit Small Farm Nation Academy members get is FarmPress. It’s a child theme I’ve created to run on WordPress. And, get this…it’s free to Small Farm Nation Academy members. When I say “free,” I mean I host your website, for free. No more of you paying Squarespace, Bluehost, Host Gator or anyone else for your website. You get a hosted FarmPress site for free. And that includes as many email accounts as you want and it includes SSL protection. So you can save any money you’ve been spending on SSL or email accounts.

Pretty slick, huh? But, as they say, wait, that’s not all.

FarmPress is an intuitive drag-and-drop page builder so it’s remarkably easy to customize the design the way you want. Sure, I set you up with a demo site that already looks incredible. If you just swap out the logo with yours and change the text, the site will, I’m sure, look much better than what you now have.

But you’ll likely want to customize it. And that’s why I have a course on FarmPress customization. It includes videos to teach you how to do just that.

Of course, even with all these training videos on all these subjects…you’ll have questions. So a rich forum is included in Small Farm Nation Academy so that you can ask questions and get feedback.

Now, a lot of you do that now through Facebook Groups. But, come on…there are two nightmarish problems with that.

First, Facebook is a playground. You might mean to go in and ask a question, but you’ll quickly get lured away into a massive time suck.

Second, ever try to search and find anything in a Facebook group? There’s no way to see popular threads, or display by thread. It’s just a long running timeline, and that’s why it’s a waste of time. Something piques your interest, you click…and now you’re distracted.

That’s all solved in the Small Farm Nation Academy forum. Just logon when you have a question or want to see what others are talking about as it relates to running a farm business.

Then hop off and get to work.

So, Small Farm Nation Academy includes a forum and all those completed training courses, and several other courses in development. Such as courses on email marketing (which is different than email list building), social media marketing for farms, go-to-market strategies, getting media & PR exposure for your farm and farm photography, video and graphic design.

And there are the member makeovers, where you can ask to have your website, social media pages or marketing materials professionally reviewed. I post a 20 minute or so video review for you and other members of the Academy to see.

And there are the monthly Mastermind calls I do. So you’re not only learning from me…you’re learning from others who have built great farm businesses. Such as Will Harris from White Oak Pastures, Greg Gunthorp of Gunthorp Farms, Curtis Stone the Urban Farmer, Jordan & Laura Green of J&L Green Farms, John Suscovich of Farm Marketing Solutions and many, many more.

Man, I’m out of breath talking about all the stuff that’s in the Academy. But there’s one more benefit I’d like to cover.

You get one-to-one private coaching anytime you want it. While you can see all the posts in the forum, I’ve created the ability for you to open private one-to-one discussions with me that only you and I can see. It may be something you’re not comfortable discussing in the public forum, it may be something you have a competitive uniqueness on and want to discuss privately. Whatever. We’ll talk online and, if needed, hop on a video call.

So now you see what I mean. I’m out of breath saying all this, and that’s why a membership site is SO much more comprehensive (and difficult) than simply a farm marketing course.

But it’s what I feel is honestly needed to help you and Small Farm Nation Academy members to thrive. Farming is hard enough, we all know that.  I just want to be there alongside you, whenever you need it, helping you to achieve your farm goals and become the preferred brand in your market.

I closed down Small Farm Nation Academy to new members over the summer but have just reopened for the time being. If you have a farm business or are even thinking of having one, hop over to Small Farm Nation Academy right now.

Join us and let’s turn you into a farm marketing superstar!

Thanks for Listening!

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Small Farm Nation creates beautiful farm websites and offers online farm marketing courses that help farmers grow profitable farm businesses.