I have this radical idea…
Or at least, radical compared to most of the noise I see on the Internet right now.
I don’t think you need more balance.
I don’t think you need more drive.
I don’t think you need more hustle.
Sure, there are plenty of folks out there who need more get-up-and-go, but if you’re reading this, I doubt you’re one of them.
No, I don’t think you need more of those things.
You need strategy. And skills.
And you’re in luck, because that’s my jam.
While I love unicorns and glitter and singing showtunes, my work is anything but fluff.
I don’t do theory.
Instead, I draw on my experiences as an owner of four wildly different (and wildly successful) businesses as well as a lifetime of professional performing in theatre, film, and TV.
Basically, I’ll help you tell your story… and sell your stuff.
(And I recommend you do both.)
My students represent local and online businesses, they sell products and services, and they’re everything from solopreneurs to CEOs.
Regardless of what you do, my work works, and I’m delighted to share it with you!
“Your course content is top-notch, very thorough, entertaining, and taught in a way that makes things stick. And I trust what you teach because you’ve done all these things in multiple businesses (online and offline)… the way you communicate helps people take informed action that’s the next best step for them (not a cookie cutter, right or wrong approach).”
The Marketed Musician
Learn more about my courses and programs.
But first, here’s my “official” short + fancy bio
(they made me do it.)
Courtney Foster-Donahue is an Atlanta-based four-time entrepreneur as well as a business, branding, and social media strategist who specializes in video content creation and Facebook marketing and advertising.
She helps entrepreneurs of all kinds through a variety of online programs and content, including her acclaimed courses SEO in a WKND™, Visual Branding Basics, DIY Video Basics, OBS Success, and her signature program, FB Everything™.
Leveraging a 20-year career as a professional stage and screen actress and singer, Courtney also synthesizes her talents and skills as a performer to help others build their brands using both strategy and storytelling.
Want to hear my whole story?
Want the inside scoop?
The why and how and everything in between?
Grab a chair and a glass of your favorite something-or-other because it’s a long one.
But a good one.
While I love my work, I didn’t start this business out of desire, but rather, demand.
If you had asked me what multiple six-figures meant a few years ago, I would have guessed it was a figure skating move.
(But like, a really cool one.)
I was born in Mobile, Alabama (right on the Gulf Coast), the daughter of an electrical engineer and an artist.
I tend to think I take after both of them; I’m what I call ambi-brained: left-brained and right-brained. (It’s something I made up. Let’s just go with it.)
It’s a weird analytical-meets-creative world I live in, but it means I have no trouble understanding the more technical elements of Facebook and search engine optimization (I even know a little code!), yet I’m just as comfortable teaching visual branding and storytelling through video. I was even a professional actor and singer for many years.
I was introduced to the theatre at a young age, in part because my extroverted mother was afraid her introverted child would never be able to speak up and stand out. (Which is funny, if you know me.)
I loved performing – and I was actually really good at it! I got the attention of talent agents, and soon found myself booking commercials and voiceover work quite consistently.
If I wasn’t in school, I was at an audition, a play rehearsal, a dance class, a voice lesson, or a gig.
Though it may seem an arbitrary blip, these early experiences as a professional actor taught me so much about sales and storytelling.
(After all, every audition is essentially a sales pitch.)
My working-child-actor days led all the way to college, where I earned a BFA in Musical Theatre. College was great and made greater still when I met Josh, my future husband (and future business partner).
The next few years after college brought us an engagement, a wedding (we were even featured in The Knot!), and lots of professional theatre and film work. We were in the lucky minority of actors we knew who were able to make a full-time income doing our thing.
This time also helped me to develop a new skill: teaching.
Wanting a steady stream of income to bridge the gap between acting and singing gigs, I started teaching dance. I had been dancing since I was two years old, so this wasn’t a crazy leap, but teaching was a new frontier for me. Teaching came naturally to me, and making sense of abstract concepts — in this case, the artistry of dance — felt like old hat.
Choreography was the next natural progression, and I soon found myself getting as many choreography gigs as acting and singing gigs. While just supplemental at the time, these jobs taught me how to teach — a skill I didn’t even know I needed or would ever use beyond the dance studio or rehearsal hall.
If you’d told me that all my years of teaching dance would eventually lead to teaching business strategies, I would’ve thought you were crazy.
Yet, I teach entrepreneurs every day, and I still draw on lessons learned during this time in my life.
In 2011, my husband and I made the decision to move to New York City.
It wasn’t that unusual considering our field, and we knew we always wanted to try it. And so we did.
Along with our two dogs, we moved to NYC in August of 2011, and we never looked back.
We enjoyed New York City, and the professional opportunities that came our way in just the first couple of months were great. We both had relatively flexible “survival jobs” (as actors refer to them in NYC), and we had the time in our schedule to actually go to auditions. #LivingTheDream.
We were doing it. We were making it happen.
Then everything changed.
One day, while teaching a dance class, I injured my neck and back.
It was a terrifying experience, and long story short, I was bedridden for almost two months.
The lost income from not being able to teach dance or do anything for that matter definitely took a toll on our savings. (Not to mention, we had NO health insurance.)
The longer I was out of work, the more our savings dwindled. We got poor – fast. It wasn’t uncommon for our checking account to have a single digit number (or more realistically, to be in the negative).
There are plenty of “we were so poor that…” stories, but suffice it to say, we were miserable, and as time went on, we didn’t see a way out.
Aside from struggling financially, I was also struggling emotionally. I had come to NYC for my acting career – a career I’d had since I was a young child. I couldn’t do the very thing I set out to do in this brand-new city, and I was losing my very sense of purpose.
To distract myself, I played on the Internet (basically all I could do from bed), and almost accidentally, I started to learn about blogging.
I’d always enjoyed writing, and blogging was an exciting new possibility. It was something I knew I could be successful in regardless of my physical state.
Though I knew nothing about blogging, had never really read blogs, and didn’t even know anyone who blogged, I learned everything I could and went for it.
My blog grew quickly in readership.
I was an early adopter of Pinterest, and I had also begun to play with Facebook marketing, so I was able to drive tons of traffic my way. What I was doing worked, others took notice, and I began to get hired out for freelance gigs, doing social media consulting and management.
The more I dipped my toe into this online business world, the more I found that I enjoyed it.
At the same time that I started getting into blogging, Josh shifted his focus towards training dogs professionally. (It was something he had done as a side hustle for years.)
We both knew that there had to be a future in which we could work together – having more control over our income, and on our terms, but we didn’t quite yet know what that would be.
At some point, when we would talk about the future, it didn’t involve us living in NYC. The pull of our family in Atlanta was strong, and while NYC had certainly been a great adventure, we knew we had come to the end of that adventure.
We decided that moving back to Atlanta meant moving back on our terms, and those terms meant starting our own businesses.
I started my first business.
During my time in NYC, I worked the occasional gig for a children’s entertainment company doing princess parties. This was something I enjoyed, and I sought to create a similar business, but in Atlanta.
I put the blog on hold and leveraged the skills I had acquired to get my business in the number one spot on Google for its keywords in the first month.
We booked our first five parties during our first week in business.
I found that entrepreneurship came naturally to me.
At the time, I didn’t know anything about online courses or business influencers or anything like that. Instead, I operated intuitively, and it turned out that my entrepreneur’s intuition was spot on.
Soon, I had a staff of performers who did the parties while I focused on growing the businesses.
I started my second business.
2014 was a year of important milestones and growth.
Early that year, I taught my last dance class (ever!) and had replaced my teaching income three times over after just three months in business.
When the opportunity came to open a second location in Knoxville, Tennessee, I took it.
Quickly, I learned how different a business could look in one city versus another. Differing demographics taught me that while the actual business structure may be the same, there was no one-size-fits-all approach to marketing.
This was a vital lesson for me to learn. It was invaluable for me as a local business owner, but it also had huge ramifications later as an online business owner.
With the success of my businesses, I found myself becoming the go-to person among my friends for business, marketing, or social media advice.
I began consulting and coaching.
Soon, I was helping friends of friends and people who found me through my website. I was doing as much business coaching and consulting as I was actually running my own businesses. And I loved it!
The more I did it, the more I realized that I needed to “make it official.” It was also around this time that I partnered with my husband to help him take his dog training company to the next level. We started coaching other dog trainers through our shadow program, and our local business grew dramatically as well.
I still wanted to run the party companies, but wanted to shift more of my focus to helping other entrepreneurs. I made it my mission to automate as much I could with my other businesses so I could find the hours in the day to do what I really enjoyed.
As 2015 came to an end, I put things into place so that I could officially launch the business in the new year.
It was also at this time that my mother and I began preparing to open our Etsy shop – a dream we’d had for a while.
Tragedy and Tenacity
Like nearly everyone does at the end of every year, Josh and I had decided that the following year would be the best yet. We had huge, exciting plans. Those times of hardship that we first encountered in NYC were like a distant memory.
Our businesses were blooming, nearly bursting at the seams, and we were so optimistic for all that the New Year would bring.
We would never have guessed how difficult, yet defining 2016 would be for us.
On the evening of January 7, 2016, my mother died suddenly of a brain aneurysm.
I had talked to her that morning; she’d been fine, aside from a headache that she couldn’t shake. (But then again, she always had headaches so this wasn’t unusual or alarming.) I got the call from my father that evening that they were on their way to the hospital; she was gone a few minutes later.
The level of devastation we felt was indescribable. My mother was a truly important part of our lives. She was my best friend (and soon to be business partner).
Every vision we had for our future included her in some capacity. Her sudden passing altered the trajectory of our lives forever.
While I had begun the year with plans of starting and growing my business, I found myself paralyzed and unable to get started.
(Fortunately, my other businesses were so automated that they were able to work for me, even though I couldn’t work for them.)
The loss of my mother also meant new responsibilities for Josh and me. My mother had been the primary caregiver for my brother (who has autism), but suddenly, that responsibility fell to us.
While my father was still alive, his work would often take him out of town, which meant that Derek was living with us most of the time.
Even in the midst of tragedy, Josh and I counted our blessings. We had created career paths for ourselves that allowed us flexibility and location independence.
Taking care of Derek, while not something we had expected to do for a couple of decades, was made much easier because we were truly our own bosses.
In time, I began to emerge from the fog and entered the most productive season of my life (most assuredly, with a supernatural push from my mother).
Wanting to be as present for my brother as much as possible but still help as many clients as possible, I prioritized creating streams of passive income.
I officially (and finally) launched my business at the beginning of May 2016.
Due to demand from my followers, my first product was a course all about search engine optimization (SEOinaWKND.com), something I had taught myself during my blogging days. It was an immediate – and encouraging – success.
I followed that up with a few mini-courses which were like appetizers for what I was really working towards: my Facebook course (FBEverything.com).
In the meantime, I launched and grew my group for entrepreneurs, The Lemonade Stand Society™, I started blogging again (this time about business and social media strategy), and I began doing weekly videos on Facebook (my Tough Love Tuesdays series).
Drawing on my many years as a professional actor, I kept the focus of my videos both educational and entertaining. This grew my following even more quickly, which meant an even greater demand for more products and courses.
The turning point came in July 2016 when I did my first ever launch of FB Everything.™
After years of using Facebook as my primary social media platform to grow my businesses to six figures, I created a program that gave me the opportunity to share those same strategies with other entrepreneurs.
Almost 3 months to the day that I started my business, I had grown my following, doubled my group, and tripled my income.
While I love my other businesses and what they have given me (and continue to give me), this business truly is my passion-meets-purpose project.
I’ve had a lot of adventures – as you can see from this long timeline of mine – but one of the greatest adventures of my life has been entrepreneurship.
And perhaps one of the best parts of my own entrepreneurial adventure has been the opportunity to empower other entrepreneurs – far beyond just a Facebook course.
In a business world where more and more coaches (with no previous business experience themselves) are teaching business strategy, I am proud to create products, courses, and trainings based on real life business experience.
Essentially, I created what I wish I’d had when I first got started.
And I can do so because I have actually been there – in the trenches. I don’t have to speculate because I have done it. And because of my years of teaching, I can teach it. (And well!)
Though seemingly arbitrary at the time, I feel that all of the different experiences in my life have led me to this point.
And I’m oh so glad to be here.
I don’t know what brought you to this point. (And my hat’s off to you for reading this whole darn thing.)
But I don’t think it’s an accident. I’ve shared my story – at least, the exciting parts; Now I would love for you to share yours!
Let’s start a conversation.
I have created a totally free mastermind-meets-nest-o’-comfort where we can do exactly that. Whether you are just getting started out or have been doing this thing for a while, you’ll be right at home in The Lemonade Stand Society.™
If you’re looking for an encouraging, inspirational, and all-around magical group of entrepreneurs, look no further. You’ve found it.
And we can’t wait to meet you.