Why I Stopped Coaching

Eventually, I keep thinking, I will become accustomed to the way life changes. It’s inevitable, after all.

But even as I keep improving the ways I react to change, I must admit: change is hard. It’s fucking hard.

And, as it seems I say so often when I post here, because I just don’t do so often enough - so much has changed since my last post.

As you may or may not have noticed, empoweredmuses.com no longer exists. This was a difficult decision for me, but after months of thought it still feels right.

When I started Empowered Muses back in 2015 I was excited to offer the skills and tools and templates I’ve created over the course of my career to talented models who needed a marketing boost. I knew from past experience that I had developed strategies that allowed me to book plenty of work without cold calling. (A strategy that I don’t judge at all, but personally hated having to rely on at the beginning of my career.)

I jumped in headfirst, with plenty of passion and very little game plan. I invested hugely in coaching and education to help me get the business off the ground. I invested in learning how to create an effective webinar training, how to structure courses so people will learn from them, and how to market in a way that felt in integrity for me. This was primarily content marketing: emails full of valuable information, an ebook, free webinars, Youtube videos, a few live events, and the chance for any model who wanted it to book a free call with me for tips on how to advance their careers.

I’ve always felt that newer models deserve resources that will help them build a safe and profitable career without needing to pay for it, so I offered copious amounts of free information. I decided to charge only for the information I knew would advance a model’s career from moderately successful to immensely satisfying, tools and strategies that would pay for themselves in extra bookings.

And I taught so much more than just marketing tools - I worked with my clients on time management and career satisfaction. We didn’t just focus on making money, we focused on better paying and more enjoyable gigs so they could have more free time, more mental bandwidth, and spend more time at home with loved ones.

I explain all of this because I am feeling, quite intensely at the moment, the same imposter syndrome that haunted me throughout my entire time attempting to build Empowered Muses into something sustainable.

I truly believed in Empowered Muses. I still do. I believe that resources and training around business practices, marketing, copy, and more are important for new and experienced models alike. I also believe that our industry is so different that typical trainings won’t help bridge that gap - one of my clients had a business degree and successful startups under her belt, but couldn’t figure out how to apply that education and experience to nude modeling.

So I strove to provide the trainings and resources that I looked for when I was a newer model. I’m extremely proud of what I created and built. And I’m heartbroken that it didn’t work out.

Throughout the four years that I worked to build Empowered Muses I worked with some amazing models, and I received some lovely feedback that I will treasure for years. But I also had to turn down so many models who I knew I could help, who couldn’t afford my rates to work with me 1-on-1 or in a group program.

Over and over again I had to have difficult conversations about money with talented models who I knew could afford to pay my rates by booking just one or two extra shoots each month, knowing that by working with me they could book at least twice that, knowing they’d say no anyway because that’s an impossible catch 22 of a situation to be in.

And it broke me.

For years I kept trying, working with the models who could afford my rates, wanting to serve the models who couldn’t. I offered scholarships, group programs with sliding scale fees, and burnt myself out.

And in the process, my savings ran out.

At the time, I was still recovering from my surgery and had no other source of income.

And while I still believed that what I offered was going to make a difference for the models I spoke with, I also knew that I needed an income in order to survive. I began to feel, for the first time, pressure to sell. And I didn’t like that at all.

I didn’t ever want to feel pushy or salesy in helping models to make a decision that could affect their entire careers. When I started feeling like I was moving out of integrity and going into calls with the goal of signing up a client rather than just helping as much as I could, I knew it was time to make a change.

That’s when I met an absolutely beautiful woman at an event who said she wanted to try nude modeling and asked me to help. For the first time in ages, I lit up. That had always been my end goal, what I truly wanted to do with my life: helping women experience posing nude in a supportive, empowering environment.

I put together a wonderful program for her, and we started working together. It was magical, and I thought I’d found the future of Empowered Muses.

But as it turns out, most women aren’t incredibly keen on the type of spiritual work combined with a nude photoshoot experience I was offering. And again I found myself struggling, focusing on trying to get clients rather than trying to change lives.

And then somebody I knew well, somebody I trusted, somebody who had helped me grow Empowered Muses, suggested that maybe coaching wasn’t what I’m supposed to be doing right now.

I remember the conversation vividly. I was staying with a fellow model, laying sideways across the bed in the guest bedroom with my phone on speaker, trying my best not to sob and failing. I felt utterly betrayed. This friend I was talking to was supposed to have my back, and they dared suggest that I abandon everything I had worked for for the past four years, everything I had built and believed in.

But they were right.

I finally realized what they had tried to tell me - I was utterly depleted, emotionally, physically, and financially. I was still recovering from surgery while trying to work full time and support family members, and I was in a fundamentally unsustainable situation. I had worked full time through planning my wedding and barely took a two week break afterwards. My response to not being able to support myself via Empowered Muses was to invest in more and more training - over four years I spent probably 3-4x more on business trainings than I earned through Empowered Muses.

On no level was I capable of maintaining the rate I had been going at.

While I was absolutely convinced that my friend was wrong about me needing to quit coaching, I did concede that I needed a break. For the first time ever, I asked my spouse to support me financially 100%. In June, I did no work. No coaching, no modeling. No marketing. No sales.

And my creativity, my energy, and my enthusiasm for life began to return.

By the end of June I was focused on bringing in the bulk of my income through modeling again. By August I was lining up a part time job with flexible hours that would supplement that income. By September it was clear that Empowered Muses, as I had hoped for it to exist, was gone forever.

It’s taken me more than a few months to mourn that realization.

I’m undeniably happier now. I have more stability, more energy and creativity for photoshoots, and more confidence. But I mourn my dream of changing our industry.

In some ways, I’m sure I have changed it. I’ve helped pro models gather the confidence to raise their rates reflective of their experience and start taking deposits, actions which will help improve industry standards for everyone. I’ve shared game changing tools and strategies with a group of wonderful models who will, eventually, help the next generation of models, spreading those tools and strategies until the best of them are common knowledge. And I’ve created free resources that will be available forever, or as close to it as I can manage.

I’m sure that my foray into Empowered Muses garnered me some enemies as well. Some were certainly vocal: I had photographers who hated what I was trying to do for models, and models who hated that I had the gall to charge for it. And while the majority response I received was overwhelmingly positive, I do wonder how many industry connections I somehow damaged without ever knowing it. I believed in what I was doing, and I marketed it. At the end, I probably marketed it a little too vehemently.

But would I change the experience? Not at all. Mentoring models has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, short of marrying my spouse and becoming a nude model myself.

Someday, I hope I can complete my dream of creating a comprehensive online course for models who are seeking the tools I offered - something I can offer at an accessible price, without burning myself out.

In the meantime, most of the free resources I created are still available. Depending on my blogging urges, I may try to put out more.

Truth to tell, if a model wants to work with me badly enough to reach out and ask, I would love to do more 1-on-1 coaching. But I doubt I’ll ever again offer it full time. And honestly, that feels much better.

Immersing myself in the world of Empowered Muses helped me to crystallize and finesse the materials I offered in a way I never would have been able to otherwise. It was a valuable experience for me, and I believe for the models I worked with as well. But I’m much happier focusing elsewhere now, and I don’t expect that to change.

So if you’ve wondered what happened to Empowered Muses, now you know. And if you’ve wondered how I’m doing, I’m doing great. There have been a lot of changes recently, and at least two or three more things worth writing blog posts about are brewing. Life is never calm, and someday I’ll learn to make time for rest instead of hoping it will appear. But overall? Things couldn’t be better.

I hope the same is true for you.

About the Author

Eleanor is an accomplished traveling nude model and has been pursuing her art since 2010 and posing nude since 2011. Her work has been published in a variety of magazines, books, and galleries, including a special event at the Louvre.

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