Since 2015, Nicole Burke has founded and grown two companies to 7 figures in annual revenue, amassed a social media following of more than 800,000, and written two bestselling books — all while working part-time as a mom of four.
Burke is the founder and owner of Gardenary which exists to make gardening ordinary, whether you think you have a green thumb or not. Through her signature online courses, she teaches students her at-home garden system and teaches gardeners to become Gardenary Consultants to start their own businesses.
After the success of growing her gardening businesses, Burke recently founded Wyldlyco, a program that helps small business owners grow their businesses organically, primarily with short-form videos.
Here’s a snapshot of Burke’s business empire:
- Earned $5M in revenue from her online businesses
- Organically grew Instagram presence by almost 500K in one year
- Taught over 6,000 students and gardeners to date
As a longtime Kajabi user, Burke knows what it takes to grow an audience, build community, and sell online courses seamlessly. If she had to give one piece of advice for creators who are building an online business today, it would be to just get started.
“Sell something as soon as you can,” she recommends. “The people who are the slowest to have success wait way too long to sell something [because] they think it has to be perfect.” She adds, “Let me tell you, there is nothing that will move you forward in your business more than someone who paid you money to give them a product.”
The Challenge: Unsustainable Service Business
From her early journey as a gardener to her current success as a 7-figure entrepreneur, Burke’s mission remains the same: make gardening ordinary again.
“If you grew up like me, [you] didn't know where your food came from,” she says. “Gardening was a skill that pretty much every human being had a century ago. But over the last few decades, we got further from the garden. As grocery stores and shipping food became more prevalent, we really changed the way we do food, especially in America.”
In 2015, Burke shared her passion for gardening by starting a service-based gardening business called Rooted Garden. Not only did this empower her to help others reap the benefits of a home garden, but it also allowed her to work part-time so she could spend more time with her four kids.
She started Rooted Garden with $400 and grew it to a six-figure business in just one year. But that rapid growth came at a cost. In the spring of 2017, Burke was so overloaded with client work and child care that she found herself in the ER with health issues — she knew she needed to make a major change in her business to sustain it for the long haul.
“It was kind of like a fork in the road,” she recalls. “I could go really big with my physical service business — I could hire a team, get trucks, and hire other supervisors — or I could keep my business the size that it was and grow in another way.”
The Solution: Taking Her Expertise Online With Kajabi
Seeking to make a change, Burke discovered the concept of an online course through entrepreneur and founder of B-School, Marie Forleo. The idea of turning her gardening skills and knowledge into an online course was the pivotal solution to scaling her business without burning out again.
“When I listened to the course about creating online courses, I was like, this is a way I could replicate my system and replicate myself,” says Burke. “I don't have to buy trucks, I don't have to hire a huge staff — I can take exactly what I'm doing and replicate it and make this vision happen in a very simple way right from my living room.”
Her first course, which she launched on Kajabi and priced at $97, was called Salad Garden School, a four-module course that taught people how to grow a salad. Burke says she wanted to start by teaching people about some of the easiest vegetables you can grow, like lettuce.
“I recorded it in my living room,” she remembers. “I made slides and voiceovers and took all these pictures of things from my salad garden.”
It wasn’t long before people began asking Burke about her business, hoping to build something similar to hers. So, after seeing the success of her first online course, Burke simultaneously built a second online course — this one designed for entrepreneurs who wanted to start their own gardening business.
The $600 program was called the Kitchen Garden Coach Society and she had 35 gardeners sign up for the first launch. This was only the beginning of what would become the foundation for Burke’s two main programs today: Kitchen Garden Academy and Gardenary Consultant Certification.
The Results: Scaling to a 7-Figure Business
In 2019, Burke devoted her time to creating the full system for what is now the Kitchen Garden Academy, her signature program that teaches people how to build their own kitchen gardens at home. That same year, Burke embarked on writing her first book, Kitchen Garden Revival.
“[After] I wrote the book, I basically created the course to take the book to a different level,” she says. “I would take the things I could squeeze into the chapters and then turn them into full on videos.”
In 2020, Burke rerecorded her signature garden coach program. By the end of the year, her two courses on Kajabi generated over $500K in revenue for her company, the Gardenary. And in 2021, she achieved her first million-dollar year with Kajabi.
Looking Forward: Teaching Business Owners the Power of Organic Social Media
While Burke is no stranger to social media, having used Instagram since launching her first business in 2015, it wasn’t until the last couple of years that she fully leaned into the organic growth powers of short-form videos.
In fact, she’s going all in on video. After dealing with the highs and lows of paid advertising, she decided to ramp up her organic content. She hired a full-time videographer to create short-form videos for her Instagram — and she shares one every day.
“I've had 16 videos go viral with over a million views over the last year, but I've posted over 800 videos,” she shares.
Her consistency and dedication to video has paid off. At the beginning of 2023, Burke had around 260,000 followers on the Gardenary Instagram account and grew to 640,000 by the end of the year, all without paying a cent for advertising.
Burke believes anyone, regardless of current audience size, can harness the power of short-form videos to grow their business online, but only if they’re committed to creating consistently and frequently.
“You can start from zero and be huge in no time, but you have to put the work in,” she says. “Any video you post has the potential to go big, but it doesn't happen if you don't post the videos in the first place. It's just like gardening, right? If you put the work in and you keep planting the seeds, eventually you get that one video.”
To help other business owners navigate the challenges of organic social media, Burke started Wyldlyco, a program that helps small business owners grow their businesses using short-form videos. Below are some of her tried and true tips for growing your business through social in 2024:
Step 1: Start posting videos. Burke recommends posting very short videos that are between three seconds to a minute long. If you’ve watched Reels before, then you know you can either do a voiceover or use a trending sound. If you opt for the latter, Burke suggests using a trending sound with under 10,000 uses. She also suggests posting a video every single day, even if you don’t think it will perform well. “I would rather you post a bad video than not post it all,” she says. “You are going to think something looks bad, and your audience is going to love it. And you're going to think something looks awesome, and your audience is going to hate it.”
Step 2: Always include a call to action. Every video you share needs a call to action (CTA). The CTA should encourage viewers to take the next step and get a free resource from you. For Burke, her CTA is to get viewers to leave Instagram and go to her website to dig deeper into what she offers. She does this by encouraging users to comment or DM her with a keyword to receive her free resource, whether that’s a worksheet, a guide, or a video series. “You never know when you're going to hit it [big] with a video,” she says. “And if you didn't put a call to action on that one video, you missed your chance.”
Step 3: Deliver the free resource. Simply send the promised resource to their email address or to the number that they've shared with you in your DMs.
Step 4: Invite them to a live event. Burke generates interest in her online courses through live events like webinars and workshops. The live event you invite users to can be anytime in the near future, Burke suggests. “I always heard you cannot invite people to a live event that's more than two weeks away” she says. “[But], we have totally busted that. We had three different webinars in January and we started inviting people to them in October.”
Step 5: During live event, offer a course or membership. Your live event is where you get to sell your course, your program, or your membership. By this point, Burke says, your audience knows you so well because you've been showing up every day and entertaining them with short videos, and you've already given them a free sample of how you teach. “Whatever online program you have, give [attendees] a time-sensitive offer they can sign up for during the live event,” she says. “You've now turned that scroller into a sale.”
Want to build an online empire like longtime Kajabi creator, Nicole Burke? Check out Kajabi’s online course tools to get started.