#38: How This Couple Built an Online Business Around Language Learning
When May and Jim met on an online language-learning website, little did they know that this would be the start of an exciting career and their future marriage!
They decided to share their passion for Spanish and language learning with the world and started creating content through a podcast and YouTube channel and building Spanish Immersion Retreats.
Welcome to The Creator's Adventure, where we interview creators from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business.
Today we are talking with Jim Fricker and May Lario about how they started their language learning business Spanish and Go, the best ways to learn and teach a new language online, and how they adopted a different business model by offering in-person retreats and a podcast membership for their customers.
Jim Fricker and May Larios are the creators of Spanish and Go, an online resource designed to inspire you to learn Spanish, experience the culture, taste the flavors, meet the locals, and appreciate the beauty of each country where Spanish is spoken.
Learn more about Spanish and Go: https://spanishandgo.com/
Bryan McAnulty: Welcome to The Creator's Adventure, where we interview Creator's from around the world, hearing their stories about growing a business. Today I'm talking with Jim Fricker about how him and his wife built an online Spanish teaching business and how they have a little bit of a different business model where besides their online course and their podcast, they actually have a premium podcast membership and in person retreats.
Hey everyone. I'm Bryan McAnulty. I'm the founder of Heights Platform. Let's get into it.
Hey everyone. We're here today with Jim Fricker and May Laos, the creators of Spanish and go and online resource designed to inspire you to learn Spanish. Experience the culture, taste the flavors, meet the locals, and appreciate the beauty of each country where Spanish is spoken. Jim, welcome to the show.
Jim Fricker: Thanks for having me, Bryan.
Bryan McAnulty: So my first question for you is something that we've been, asking a lot of guests recently is what would you say is the biggest thing that you did or that you are doing that has helped you achieve the freedom to do the things that you enjoy?
Jim Fricker: That's a great question.
Well, for us, Start of it all was really with YouTube where we started making videos on there. And once we came to the realization that if we created content that helped people as much as possible, that gave 'em valuable, actionable information that we could basically, clone ourselves in a way by creating content that was useful to people in Evergreen and thus free up time for ourselves.
So then we started realizing once. Began doing that, that we could free up so much time and live a much more relaxed lifestyle. Not having to worry about deadlines too much because the more we produced content, the more we could kind of do whatever we want.
Bryan McAnulty: Awesome. Yeah. That's a, an awesome discovery to make.
So can you tell us a little bit about the story of how you and mine met and how you came up with Spanish and.
Jim Fricker: Yeah, so I used to be an audio engineer recording studio owner, music producer, and I love doing that gig, but I also wanted to travel a lot. I'm from Rochester, Minnesota, and the winters get terribly cold there when as a teenager I was fortunate enough to be able to tour around with some different national touring acts like corn and, stained and a bunch of.
and that kind of gave me the travel bug, so, mm-hmm. in 2010, I was thinking, Well, I love producing music, but I'm sitting in a room all day in front of a computer for the most part, and I wanted to get out and explore the world more. So I thought, well, what's the best way to do that? And I figured, well, the first step would probably be learning another language and what other language than Spanish.
Since I had already taken some classes before and I figured that was the language that would allow me to travel to, the most countries. And so I figured I'm gonna start with that and then see where things go from there. And so a, a friend of mine recommended a platform, which back then was kinda like, It was a language exchange, a little bit like Facebook, but for languages.
And you could go on there and see other people's profiles and what languages they spoke at what level, which languages they were interested in learning. And that's where I met May, and I had been learning Spanish after I made this realization that I should, I should learn Spanish for about six months.
Then I heard about this platform. And Met May on there and we can never remember who messaged who first. But from there, we just started this, back and forth exchange, kind of a language exchange where I would write something to her in. Spanish and then she would, correct me and she would write something to me in English and I would correct her, although her English was way better than my Spanish back then.
And so we would just go back and forth like that for for months. But after a while, she invited me to come down to Mexico to meet her in person. She's always been a language. And so she invited me down during spring break when she had a chance, for some time off. And so I came down to Mexico for the first time.
It was my first time out of the country by myself. First time in Mexico. All of my friends and family thought I was kind of crazy, like, What are you doing? Going down to. To meet someone you've never met in person in Mexico. But to me it was just part of the journey. This is what I wanted. I wanted to get out and travel more, and this is kinda my first opportunity to do so after I started learning Spanish.
So she, met me in Guadalajara. And showed me around her home state and, and some other places. We had a great time. We really hit it off, fell in love, and we thought, Wouldn't it be great if we could do this for other people? If we could kind of be, a guide for people who are interested in visiting Spanish speaking countries.
Like Mai was a guide for me explaining all of these cultural differences and things about the language. And for me it was just life changing. I knew lots of people visit Mexico. There must be a market for what we were interested in doing. So we thought, well, why don't we give it a shot? And back then we thought, Oh, should we do a podcast?
Should it be a blog at? And eventually, we went to a conference together. This is after getting married and going through the immigration process because that's a whole separate. . But at the conferences we were going to, everyone was saying Video's the future, so you should really focus on video because you can record a video and from that, use the audio or convert it into a blog post.
And we thought, Okay, so we're gonna go, go down that path. And that's how Spanish and Go really started was, as a YouTube channel where we. Trying to be the bridge for people into the Spanish speaking world. There's over 20 countries that speak Spanish, and only 42% of, the US population has a passport.
And fewer than that, but 20% of Americans can speak more than one language. So, . It was a situation where we thought we can really niche down and serve a, a community of people who want to explore and experience Spanish speaking countries on a deeper level. And that's, that's basically the start of it.
And from there we expanded into, podcasting and hosting Spanish immersion retreats here in Mexico. Awesome.
Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, that's a awesome story. I can relate to a lot of it actually. So, I, I got the travel bug, around 2010 as well. I went on my, my first trip, was to Italy and after that, I was hooked and
I came back home for maybe a few months and then left, left the US to go travel for over a year. Just traveling around. Oh, that's awesome. And yeah, and, and from there, eventually I did, meet my wife as well. I met her actually in Hong Kong. And, my parents at the time thought that it seemed a little bit insane.
I was meeting somebody that, in a completely, different side of the world. But by that point, at least I'd traveled other places. It didn't seem that crazy to me anymore. But, but yeah, I can relate to, to all of that, going through the visa processes and, and all that. So, yeah, it's really interesting.
Oh yeah, and definitely I think, more people, should travel. I think if I was going to make like a course or something now myself, one of the things I would make a course about would. How to go and travel because I think once you do it, even that one time is,
Jim Fricker: So inspiring. Oh, absolutely. Yeah.
It's life changing and it gives you a whole new perspective on the world once you get out. The more we travel, the more we find that locals tend to be. Afraid of even their neighbors. It's like, Oh, MA's from Kama. And I remember the time we were telling people in her, well not her hometown, but where her, mom lives, my mother-in-law that we were planning on going to meet you a con, which is this one state over to Experience Day of the Dead, cuz it's, they're known to have one of the best day of the dead, experiences there.
Everybody was like, No, no, no, no, don't go there. It's, it's dangerous. But people in Mitch account think that about Klima. So it's like the, the people who haven't gotten out very much tend to be more afraid of like leaving that space because they've gotten used to that, that comfort zone. Right. But I think the more you go out, the more you realize that the world isn't as scary of a place as people tend to make it out to be.
Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, definitely. No doubt. I mean, Especially when I started traveling, my, my parents I think were worried about me and thinking like, Oh, it's gonna be dangerous, or something like that. And like to me, like there's a lot of places where I've been where I'd rather be in that city, in that country at two o'clock in the morning than in northeast Philadelphia where I actually grew up.
It felt way safer in those places than, actually where I grew up. So it is, it is interesting how, how the whole thing works and, and yeah, it's not, it's not as scary as, as people think it might be.
Jim Fricker: Right? Yeah. Yeah. I really believe that. There's so many anecdotes that I could talk about there.
We actually lived in Puerto Rico for almost three years, and we remember running into our neighbors there and. Talking with some other neighbors about taking a trip to Mexico and they're, some of the neighbors are like, Well, you're going to Mexico. Isn't it really dangerous there? The funny thing is, we've met Mexicans who are afraid of visiting Puerto Rico, so it's just hilarious how it goes both ways.
It's like if they were to just kind of meet one another and, and visit each other's countries, I think most of that fear would go away. Yeah.
Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. That's so interesting. So, you, you both have been. Living in these new places, and learning about each other's culture. Would you say there's any challenges or cultural differences that you experienced?
Jim Fricker: Oof. Well, I feel like I'm fairly adaptable now. Looking back at some of the differences, it, it doesn't seem like they're all that crazy. I mean, coming down to Mexico, everyone hears about don't, don't drink the water, right? So you kind of have to learn how that works. And, and people in Mexico will they drink, filtered water from Ara phone.
It's like a big damage on container, with filtered water. And that gets delivered to, most places, unless you are like a really well-to-do, family. And you might have some sort. Filtration integrated into the house. But, some other things are like, like going to the bathroom here, right? You can't throw toilet paper away in, in the toilet.
You have to throw it away in the trash. Like some things like that were kind of a shock at first. Now they seem perfectly normal, but looking back between the two of us, may and I didn't really have. Too much of a struggle in terms of our relationship, in terms of cultural differences because we're both very open to learning more about each other's cultures.
And I think May probably had more exposure to, American culture than I did to Mexican culture, just because of music and pop culture and, and the different shows that get overdubbed into basically every country in the world. And so, We didn't really experience too much in terms of our relationship when talking about.
Culture shocks. I think maybe the first time I met her mom, it was a little strange that she had to, to sleep in another room than the one I was in. And that's just a cultural thing, like if you're not married, it's kind of a tradition in most Mexican families that if you have a guy over its, he's not gonna be in the same room as, as, the, the gal he's dating.
So little things like that, I mean
Bryan McAnulty: What about any reverse, many differences, culture shocks there, anything like that?
Jim Fricker: Like coming back to the US? Yeah. I feel like those hit me harder these days. Maybe just because I'm used to the culture here now and we're only in the US for maybe two or three weeks a year now.
And so when we go back we notice things like going to the restaurant. They'll take your card if. If you're gonna pay, usually be like, Oh, I wanna pay with my card. And they'll take the card and they'll go run it here in Mexico, they'll never do that. It's kind of a security thing that they run it right there in front of you so you know that they're not like trying to copy it or, or charge a different amount or something.
Sketchier charge you twice. So little things like. There's definitely a culture shock. I don't know if it's a culture shock so much as a sticker shock, coming back to the US everything is so expensive. I mean, you can buy avocados for a fraction of the price here in Mexico than what you can get, get 'em for in the us and it's, it's a bit of a shock to see like one avocado for a dollar 51 that would buy you, you know, at least four here, , depending on where you're getting them from in certain states that grow a lot more than others. And, and you can get 'em for even cheaper than that. Yeah.
Bryan McAnulty: I mean, well still even here, so I'm in Texas, we're like right above Mexico and, yeah, we wanna get like the, the big like organic avocado, like Yeah. That's how much it costs still, so, Yeah.
Jim Fricker: Yeah. That's crazy to me. Yeah. To make a guacamole, it's like, it's gonna be 10 bucks at least once you add up all the ingredients and mm-hmm.
that's just insane. Right. Yeah, that's definitely a big culture shock. And there are other things I. We have so much space in the US Sometimes when you're walking down, the streets here, for example, we're in Oaxaca City right now getting ready for an immersion retreat. And sometimes the sidewalks are so narrow, but in the US it's like you've got all this space.
Most houses have, you know, like a backyard here. Sometimes it's just one building right next to another and there's hardly any space. Sometimes there's no. You know, area for grass or for kids to play. Sometimes it's just everything feels, a lot closer together and that, that is always kind of a reverse culture shock when we go back to the US.
Bryan McAnulty: Yeah, that's interesting. Yeah. For me, spending a lot of time in Hong Kong, Hong Kong has like the, most expensive real estate in the world for like the size of what you're getting. Because everything is just so small. And, it's very, very efficiently built, but, like it's nothing compared to the US.
Like there is no single family home even. It's just everything is in a high rise. And so my wife even, she grew up like her, her brother and her parents, on the 19th floor, but in like 250 square feet. And that was, that was the whole house. And already like that was not, that's not bad. Considered, for what it is.
I think like the biggest thing I've ever rented there was 500 square feet, and I feel like I got lucky. But like there's a lot of times where like I've rented something that was like 200 square feet and it's like over $3,000. It's unbelievable. Wow. But at the same time, like you have a, you have a convenience there that is also like unmatched because the, the highrise is not efficient enough.
They will build the high rises on top of like a five story mall. So you go down your elevator and now you're in the mall and all the restaurants are right there. So you don't even have to really go outside even. So in that sense it's interesting, but at the same time, it doesn't feel like, the place to like raise a family because like as you said, like there's no such thing as a backyard or anything like that.
Yeah. But yeah, for me, a something that stood out as a reverse culture shock, and I asked that because I didn't really experience, I feel like too many culture shocks traveling. It was more so when I came back, especially when I was going for a while. I distinctly remember that, meeting with my friends and they said, Oh, hey Brian, what's up?
And I just froze and I didn't know what to respond. I mean, what do you mean what's up? Nothing's up . And then, because it is such an American thing to say, Oh, what's up? And, I'm expecting like, how, how are you? Or, or something And like, I forgot how to answer that question, so, Ah, sure. That was interesting to me.
Jim Fricker: Yeah. No, I'm glad you brought that up cuz that actually happened to May, in the US. I remember she was telling me, she went down, she was going down like the bike path to head to the store or something and someone said hi. And for her, she was like, Hi, What? She thought the person was trying to start a conversation like why are you saying hi?
Do you, Do you need something? Do you have a question? Yeah. Do you want to chat or something? And it's, it's just one of those things that's maybe it's a Minnesota nice thing. I don't know if, people say hi randomly to strangers. In, in Texas is, is often, but in Minnesota, it's very common. But in, I get where she's coming from cuz down here, usually if you're gonna greet someone as you're just walking past them with no intention of stopping, you would say ao.
You'd say goodbye. Mm. Which to me is strange. So yeah, it's just funny how we kind of interpret each other's cultures differently, cuz for us it's perfectly normal to say hi to someone randomly on the street. But it's goodbye here in Mexico. So I could see where the confusion could come in in that situation.
Bryan McAnulty: Yeah. That's. All right, so we had a look at your website and it looks like you have an online course, a podcast, and then a podcast membership. Can you explain a little bit about what the, membership is all about?
Jim Fricker: Yeah, so the podcast membership. Is all about providing extra, extra materials for our students who listen to the podcast.
The podcast is completely free. It's available on all major platforms, but it's entirely in Spanish. And our approach and what we've discovered is that one of the most efficient ways of learning a language, once you get kind of the the bare bones, Basics down at first is to start listening to as much of it as you possibly can.
Real conversations, because then you're able to start, putting some of the things that you've learned together. And one of the best ways to memorize new vocabulary is by trying to figure it out in context rather than. Listen what, Rather than just looking it up in the dictionary, because what we do, when you just look up a word, most of the time, I don't, unless you're gonna go back and practice it and put it aside and put it on some flashcards or use something like, Anky, which is a good memorization program that's available for free.
You're basically telling your brain, I can look this up whenever I, I want to, and I don't really need to memorize it. So with the podcast, , we're really enforcing and utilizing that tech technique where people need to listen to the conversation, try to figure out the bits that they're not getting.
Sometimes people just starting out listening to the podcast, they're only understanding maybe 20 or 30%, but as they continue on, they're building their vocabulary a lot faster because they're making these connections, from a real conversation. You get used to. The words and phrases that are repeated frequently and, and then you can kind of sort that out in your brain that these are the more important words that I need to, to memorize to really understand real Spanish conversations.
So the podcast on its own is useful, but the extra materials that we provide in the podcast membership are things like a word for word transcript that's really useful for people. I'm sure if you've ever tried to learn another language, this happens to most people where you hear a native Spanish speaker and sometimes.
Sentence, you'll hear a string of words and it sounds like one or two words, right? Cuz they're saying it so quickly. But with our transcripts, we have word for word transcripts for every single episode of the podcast. And we have an interactive transcript player, which is a little bit like karaoke, where students can read word for word what is being said.
So what might sound like, just one or two words might turn out to be a sentence or two. But it, if it's spoken really quickly, you might not be able to break down each word from from that phrase. And so that's really useful for our students, and that's just one of the extra materials that we offer for the membership.
The other thing is basically an exclusive podcast where we explain some of the most important words and phrases from each episode in English, and so that accompanies every single. Podcast episode that we offer that's in Spanish. So there's basically the, the all Spanish podcast and then the All or mostly English podcast where we break down different words and phrases from every single episode.
And that's useful because there might be a few words in a podcast episode that you just couldn't figure out from the context, or they might be. Words that are used colloquially in different countries that might have, a different connotation to them that you might wanna be careful of and know about when visiting d.
Spanish speaking countries. And so we'll go in and explain that more in depth in English. So we'll go in and explain Chito, for example. Might be something, oh, I'm sure we explained it, probably dozens of episodes ago, but in Mexican Spanish, that means cool. And so it's useful to understand what situations, it makes sense to use Cheeto in.
Right? It's not. Formal, it's not something you would use with your doctor, maybe , but it's very common in just everyday Spanish conversations. So having the breakdown section for a lot of people, it, it brings, it brings the podcast back down to earth a little bit where it might feel a little intense listening to a full conversation in Spanish, but then to say, Oh, okay, this episode was about.
In English, and we're gonna go down, a list here and explain some of the most important words and phrases. That breakdown section also has an interactive transcript where everything we say is written down, and it also, we include a PDF with all of the different words that we broke down for that episode with, the phrase that.
As we used it in the podcast episode in Spanish, along with the translation in English, so they can see side by side. Oh, okay. It really helps students fill in the, the, the parts that maybe they weren't able to catch from the podcast episode. So then the next time they, he, they hear these words, they'll say, Oh, I remember they talked about it in this episode, and they had this explanation about it.
And sometimes our little anecdotes, really help people memorize, Different words. For example, I might, share a little story about how I use this incorrectly, and it was super embarrassing. So, that for some people, they can learn from my embarrassment and, hopefully better memorize the phrase or the word that we're explaining there.
And then, in addition to that, we have, a quiz for every single podcast episode. So it's a way of for our students to test their comprehension and make sure they got the most out of the episode. And in the membership, people can comment, so if they have any questions about something that, they're a little confused about, they can ask there and we can get back to them right in the membership area.
Bryan McAnulty: I think you mentioned that, Mai actually had a background of teaching in person. Right. So most of our audiences composed of online course Creator's. So, for you guys like teaching the language online, would you say that it's more challenging compared to in person or what, what other things do you feel like you adapted or, or changed?
Jim Fricker: Yeah. In some ways it's more difficult because you don't always get that immediate feedback. Well, you don't get that immediate feedback, right. The best you can get is really a comment, from somebody. And we definitely take our students' feedback seriously. There's been a number of things over the past few years that we've changed with the podcast to try to make it a little, little bit better for our students, and we're really thankful of the people who do leave comments.
That's why we always say in our podcast episodes like, Hey, if you have any questions, reach out. We definitely take your your comments and suggest. Seriously, cuz we're always trying to improve the experience for all of our students. So I would, I would definitely say it's more difficult. That's one of the reasons why we.
Running the Spanish immersion retreats because we have students right there with us. And so if they have a question, it's a little bit easier to dig into what their confusion is about. Because you can, well, you have all of these other, forms of communication that you don't get from an email or a comment in the membership area, right?
People can, usually do a little bit better of a job explaining what it is that they're confused about, so, We're always trying to collect as much feedback.
Bryan McAnulty: Mm-hmm. , can you tell me a little bit more about that? So you have these, these in-person retreats, that are in Mexico, right? For people who want to improve their Spanish.
Jim Fricker: Yeah.
Bryan McAnulty: So how does that work exactly?
Jim Fricker: Yeah, so our in-person Spanish immersion retreats are a unique program that we developed from the ground up. Plan. Basically everything will, will go. We'll start by going to a new city and exploring, exploring it with our team to find the best places to eat, the best experiences to go on.
Sometimes, for example, we're here in Oaxaca. There are tons of mescal tours, so we'll go on and, and do the hard work of testing, testing out all the, the best mescal tours and finding the right one for our group. And this. Basically an experience for students to come down to Mexico in a safe environment where they have teachers at their disposal, basically 24 7.
And an itinerary built around learning Spanish and getting the most out of, their experience in a particular place of Mexico. So each of our retreats is a little bit. Depending on the city that we're in, but all of them basically start out each morning with having breakfast, of course. And then, classes and our classes have to do with what we're doing later on in the day.
So the classes are very interactive. They're a lot of fun. In our groups of up to 12 people, they're really forced to use their Spanish as much as possible and use what they're learning on a daily. And we'll have like a, a main group and then we'll break that group down into smaller groups, that are more fine tuned to each person's level.
And from there we even have, time for each student to have. Some one-on-one classes, throughout the week with a teacher to focus on the things that they're having the most trouble with. But for example, our beginner week, for beginner to intermediate students, they'll come in and we'll have different classes covering some of the most basic things you need to know to feel comfortable when you're traveling in a Spanish speaking country, like how to ask for food and we'll have a class.
About ordering food in Spanish and then they'll obviously get to go out and and practice that in person and get feedback from us and how to ask for directions, how to make small talk. These things are essential for people to. Be able to feel comfortable traveling in a Spanish-speaking country. And that's really our focus in general is, is travel.
Spanish, is what we call it. It's kind of the, the niche of Spanish so that you can get out an experience, not just Mexico, but other Spanish-speaking countries. And so we've been fortunate to host students from, multiple countries coming to join us in Mexico, often for the first time, who had never been to Mexico before, maybe had never left, their home country before.
It's. So rewarding to us to see them come join us and then have the confidence to go out and, and return to Mexico sometimes on their own. Actually, I remember the first retreat we hosted, there was a gal who joined us. She was in her early twenties and had never been to Mexico before and. Right after the retreat, she planned a solo trip to Mexico City, because she felt so much more comfortable about her Spanish and, and really getting to experience Mexico firsthand that she thought, Oh wow, people's fears about this country are kinda overblown.
I definitely want to come back and, and so they're really unique experiences, extremely rewarding, and we just love hosting them. Awesome.
Bryan McAnulty: So for those who are listening and are maybe thinking like, Wow, you got all this stuff set up. You have the course, but then the podcast and then the membership, the retreats, what did it look like when you guys started and like, was it always a goal to like have these retreats or like how did it turn into what it, eventually came to today of like as far as like figuring out what product fits.
Jim Fricker: Sure. Well, yeah. Early on we thought we were just going to start off as a podcast and we recorded like 11 episodes and my Spanish wasn't all that great and we ended up not releasing any of that. But as we were kind of diving into what we wanted to do, we were kinda leaning towards YouTube and a blog because we we're going, we started going to these conferences.
Actually, I should back up a little bit. Part of our inspiration was, from a podcast we had listened to together teaching Spanish and from another blogger who is a travel blogger, he goes by the expert vagabond actually. And, he's one of the, the OG travel bloggers. Was someone I followed way back then and I thought, how cool is that to be able to travel the world and, and make a living online?
So we actually reached out to him and, when he was in Mexico and he's like, Well, Yeah, you guys aren't too far away. How about we meet up? So we met up with him. He was with a bunch of other travel bloggers and this is way back in, I think, 2010 or 2011. And we thought, Wow, this isn't just this one guy that I was following.
It's a whole group of other people who had figured out a way to make money online. And so they gave us some tips about some conferences we can go to. We started going to conferences together to get more inspiration. What we wanted to do, or maybe what direction we should take. And that's basically how we stumbled on the idea of like, Oh, okay, we should have a YouTube channel.
Because as I mentioned before, at least at these conferences, they're really emphasizing the fact that, well, if you have a video, you have not only images, but you have audio and you can convert the audio into text. And so basically any video you make could become a blog post. And so we ended up creating over a hundred videos on YouTube.
I think before we decided, well how about we do YouTube and a podcast? And that's kind of where we stop posting is often in on YouTube cuz it's a lot to do , YouTube and podcasts. But we started to learn to delegate and to to develop our team a little bit. And so the. Channel ended up being more of a place for people who were interested in learning Spanish, who wanted to travel to Spanish speaking countries.
And so it's mostly in English. We have some. Resources and tips for learning Spanish on there. But we also talk about cultural differences. We'll care compare the Spanish of maybe two different countries. For example, the, the Spanish that's spoken in Puerto Rico is quite unique compared to Mexican Spanish.
And so we've recorded a few videos about that and that really helps people. Maybe are in the beginning stages of learning Spanish to kinda understand how, how it works, how different accents and dialects work, how different slang works. And, that's really a great resource for people who are kind of just starting out.
But from the, from there, we thought, okay, we get plenty of comments from people like, Okay, you're teaching Spanish, but you're not producing videos that are entirely Spanish. Why not? And it was just that, it's like you can't really. Serve everyone at the same time. And so we thought, well, the, the podcast is a better platform for people who just want to hear Spanish conversations, so we have.
Similar content on the podcast where we talk about differences in culture and we'll compare different accents and slang and vocabulary. But there it's also a great opportunity for us to interview locals in the countries that we're visiting. So we will interview. You know, someone from Guatemala or someone from Puerto Rico, or someone from Chile, or someone from Ecuador, as we're traveling through those countries, because sometimes people just stand out to you like, Oh, this, this person has an amazing story, or What they do is fascinating or so important to the culture of, of this place.
So we should get 'em on the podcast. And, and that way listeners can not only hear a different accent, but learn about a different culture.
Bryan McAnulty: So yeah, your content creation was really what, was that initial focus, I guess that helped to kind of grow the audience and then also like inform you of, of who in the audience wants what, as you said of like some people who are at the spot where they, they can't really quite understand, just listening to only Spanish yet.
But then others who want to hear only Spanish and be able to listen to something like that podcast. Okay. So, yeah. With that said, can you share any tips that you've come across or that you've learned, along the way of how to keep people engaged in learning? Because it's something that learning a language is not something that you say, Okay, I'll do that for a week and then I'm done.
You gotta keep, keep practicing it.
Jim Fricker: Yeah. I think that's something that we've learned running Spanish and go as a business as well. There's that in common with earning a language. You have to be consistent. And if you are consistent, you get people in the habit of listening to your content on a regular basis as well.
So us being consistent on the podcast or releasing an episode every Tuesday helps our students be consistent and learning Spanish because they have a new episode to listen to. Right? Sometimes you, well, often learning any skill, you reach a plateau, right? And so if you're not. Being consistent about learning something new all the time, you'll probably get to a point where you get bored or you feel like it's too difficult and you just kind of drop off.
And I think the vast majority of people who wanna learn another language, they end up losing interest for one reason or another. So that's why I think having these different avenues for people to learn with us is useful to students. They have a lot of different resources and a lot of different ways to, to learn Spanish and consume like real Spanish conversations because there's always something new to learn.
Not only about the language, but about the culture and the traditions of of the different places they're outta visit. So for people who wanna travel, I feel like. If we can get them into the habit of listening to the podcast or having them join us in person on a trip, that's addicting. Right? If, if they get to that point, if they're like, Okay, I'm gonna go on a trip, at that point, it's kind of like, Okay, this is awesome.
Most people just love the experience so much that they, they wanna keep at it, right? And so it feels like a big accomplishment to a lot of people to go to another country and speak. Almost nothing but Spanish or be learning so much about a new country where they feel comfortable coming back. And so I guess our strategy has been, produce lots of different kinds of media on a consistent basis and con consistently ask our audience what they're interested in.
Starting out, when you don't have an audience, one of the best things you can do is kind of ask Google what people are interested in, right? You can do some SEO research, see what are the things that people are listening or looking for the most, and that's basically what. Kicked off our, our YouTube channel.
That's when we started seeing real traction is when we're like, Oh, okay. A lot of people ask, How do I order food in Spanish? Okay, we're gonna make the best video we can about how to order food in Spanish. And then we converted that into a blog post and both of them are doing really well, not only in YouTube, but and Google search, and that brings more people to us.
So kind of second level is, okay, once you have people following you and interested. And the types of content that you're making, how can you collect feedback from them? And, and for us, that's been kind of the process of figuring out how we can automate getting feedback from people whenever possible.
So sometimes that's, you know, asking for them to fill out kind of like a, how to quiz, but, survey, what's it called? Insta, Sometimes I forget the word in English Survey. Survey, that's the one survey and, get their feedback about what they enjoyed, what they didn't enjoy, what they'd like more of.
And like I said earlier, we, we listen to our audience all the time when it comes to that stuff. You have to always be willing to improve and say, Oh, how can, how can we make this even better next time? And that's been our strategy. All right. That's great.
Bryan McAnulty: So one of the things that, we'd like to do on the show is have each of our guests ask a question to the audience.
So if you could ask the audience anything, anything that you're curious about, anything you want them to think about, what would that be?
Jim Fricker: Yeah, this is a good question. I had to think about this a lot, but, I've always been an entrepreneur at heart, but I've definitely had. Kind of a, a limited mindset about how much I could accomplish it. I always had this drive to be an entrepreneur, but I think a lot of people run into this is how do you kind of break out of that.
And so I think one question that's useful to think of, and I, I don't know who said this first, but what would you do if you couldn't fail? So what would your business look look like if you're like, I'm all in on this. I, I'm gonna make it work and you have complete faith that it's going to work out. What would you do?
And the more we work on Spanish and go, the more I'm like, why didn't I think bigger earlier on? Right? Why didn't we think about, doing, I don't know, this aspect of the business, Even more doubling down on this. And I think a lot of the times, It came down to just fear and thinking too small or thinking that, Oh, we can't do that.
Or if we do it too quickly, it's going to be a disaster or something. And it's really just that, that limiting mindset, right? That it's that self-doubt. So that'd be my question to the audience. What would you do if you couldn't fail? Yeah,
Bryan McAnulty: it's a great question. I think that's a great way to look at it. With that said then, since you mentioned.
What's, what's the next thing then? What's beyond like the, the retreats or what you're doing now, that you, you wish you could do?
Jim Fricker: Yeah, that's a good question cuz we have so much going on already, but for us, I think at this point it's just a matter of refining our systems and delegating more so that we can be more present for the, on the YouTube channel as well as the podcast.
It's getting to the point where we should really be focused on content creation and then. Passing on as much of, of the editing and, that sort of thing onto others. And that's a skill that we've had to learn along the way as well. And we're definitely not experts, but I, I suppose that's the next step is to basically do everything we're doing now, but do it, even more consistently to be able to produce more content, to be able to help even more students and bring people.
Our way so that we can help them connect to different Spanish speaking countries, inspire them to travel and, and gain the skills to be able to, gain the confidence to do it on their own. Awesome. Because I think that's, that's what it's all about. I mean, if you can get out and travel and experience in other.
Culture in another country in your life where you're in the minority, where people, like you are in the minority, then, or with a different, with, the background that you have are in the minority. It's such a humbling experience and it's incredibly enriching and it'll change your perspective of the world for the better.
And, I think that's, that's something worth doing for everyone.
Bryan McAnulty: Awesome. Yeah, I definitely. On that note, one of the, the ways I like to think about that is to say, say to yourself like, if you were playing a video game, would you really wanna only play level one if there's all these other levels out there?
And to, to not travel is like playing the same level over and over, so why, why not see all the other ones? Cuz there's so many other ones out there. So that, that's the kind of comparison, I guess, the way I look at it.
Jim Fricker: Oh, that's good. I like that. I like that a lot. I used to love gaming and, and, that's a really good comparison.
Cool. All right. Awesome.
Bryan McAnulty: Well, Jim, it was so great talking with you. Before we get going, where else can people find you online?
Jim Fricker: You can find us at spanishandgo.com. We have links to our YouTube channel and our podcast there. You can find us wherever you listen to podcasts. Learn Spanish and Go is the name of the podcast.
And if you're interested in joining us on a retreat or checking out the membership, that's all at spanishandgo.com, but also post, on Instagram and same there at Spanish and go. All right. Awesome. Thanks Jim. Thanks for having.
Bryan McAnulty: If you enjoyed this interview and want the chance to ask questions to our guests live, tune in on Tuesdays when new episodes premiere on the Heights Platform Facebook page. To learn more about the show and get notified when new episodes release, check out The Creator's Adventure dot com. Until then, keep learning and I'll see you in the next episode.