We scream as soon as we get on the phone.
I don’t meet many people who can match my energy—I am one of those bear hug, can-hear-’em-laughing-from-a-mile-away kind of people—but instantly, I have found a kindred spirit. A filthy fucking rich one, at that.
If you were to ask Erica Reitman if she were “filthy fucking rich,” she would say something modest, like, “Well, it’s easier when you’re in a foreign country”—lifestyle arbitrage and all—or even this: “I don’t even remember what I invested in or bought of yours, but you were the first person I found online that wasn’t boring, and you kicked all this off for me.”
Talk about a moment of surrealism.
Lifestyle arbitrage, in case you’ve never heard the term, refers to earning in a strong currency, like the dollar, but traveling & living in places where your money goes farther, essentially letting you increase your net worth by default. When I lived in Santiago in 2011, for example, I earned my first $103,000 online…but living there, it felt like I had the buying power of $300,000+.
But, that’s not why Erica Reitman is filthy fucking rich. She earned $842,000 last year in straight up, cold hard U.S. dollars…though, living in Mexico City with her husband, Greg, probably does feel like a lot more.
This year, however, she’s on track to beat that—and then some—with her brand new agency…which is completely disrupting the online business industry and offering a fresh alternative NONE of us have seen before.
And I am old.
Here’s why I wanted to interview Erica:
- She charges $25,000 per person for a 3-month engagement—not a year, not 9 months—and doesn’t bat a single eyelash. It’s 3 months, $25K.
- There’s a $10,000 upgrade if you want to Voxer with her 1:1 throughout the engagement—an interesting reflection for those who have traditionally included this for free—for a grand total of $35K for 3 months.
- Out of the 5 clients she signed this month, 3 of them opted for the upgraded option. (And you better believe I grilled her on how she’s converting so well.)
- AND—this is the most wild part of this entire story—she built her entire business on Instagram. Consider me tarred, feathered, and humbled. (I’ve historically dissed on Instagram so hard for its pathetic ROI, but Erica’s strategies are LEGIT.)
- SHE’S NEVER PLACED A SINGLE AD.
- She’s not interested in scaling her business.
- She says fuck more than me.
- Oh, and did I mention she also Airbnbs out her home back in L.A. and grosses $7k – $8K a month…while managing in all from abroad?! That’s not even included in the $842K she did last year.
Of course, let’s not also forget the fact that she was in a completely different industry a few years ago.
She’s gone through a massive pivot in just 3 years.
And we talked all about how she did it—and how you can, too.
Let’s start at the beginning.
In the early 2010s, Erica and Greg lived in Park Slope, Brooklyn. (EAST COASSSTTTT!) She had a blog called “F*cked in Park Slope” where Erica took an interest in interior design, and started running experiments in their apartment. Blogging was new, so she decided to start posting all of her works-in-progress.
One day, the apartment ended up getting featured in a design magazine. 🤯
Next thing she knows, complete strangers start reaching out to her to ask if she was taking on clients. “I was just like, what are you talking about???” she laughed.
But, the fanfare didn’t stop there: next, HGTV called and asked if she wanted to write for them for their website, which is an absolute ode to the power of showing your work on the internet. While you may think you need to have the most polished portfolio on earth, in reality, all you need to do is show up with enthusiasm.
And show up with enthusiasm she did.
She started posting all of her design inspo on Instagram, too, and then when she and Greg moved to LA in 2013? She figured it was the perfect clean slate where she could, just maybe, actually start a legit interior design business.
Her entire feed from 2013 – 2018 was full of mouthwatering interior design inspo. (And cursing. Lots of delicious cursing.)
You know, not many interior designers were out there cursing, you know, trying to be funny, basically giving all the info away about where we source. I was definitely a rebel interior designer, and a lot of other designers not appreciate it, or like me very much, but I just didn’t care.
Then, in 2018, something unexpected altered the course of her orbit forever:
She booked a trip to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. It was just supposed to be a vacation. They ended up never leaving.
“We didn’t intend to move to Mexico. But San Miguel was a hot bed for expats, and everyone spoke English. So we just thought, why don’t we just Airbnb our house and go away for six months and just have a fun adventure in Mexico?”
After one month, they decided they might never go back.
Except, this presents a problem for an interior designer who needs to be physically in a space, back in L.A., to do her work.
So that’s when, in May of 2018, we see her slowly begin her pivot, even though she couldn’t have predicted what was to come, when she mentions that she’s going to start sharing more on her IG feed about how you, too, can become an interior designer if you’re self-taught.
ANDDDD, Erica Reitman enters the business chat.
In between posting “field reports” from San Miguel, she starts teasing out this online course she’s working on for self-taught interior designers. She starts posting more content around this theme.
Then, on December 13, 2018, she goes ahead and announces her first 6-week online course for wannabe self-taught interior designers. “It’s starting in January,” she says. “Check out my ‘coaching’ highlight in my profile and click link for more info.”
1,292 people liked the post.
By April of 2019, Erica was letting LOOSE on the business world with unconventional ideas and fresh takes that were contrary to what most “influencers” were telling you to do.
Like this one, about giving the middle finger to making all of your Instagram photos the same aesthetic (absolutely worth typing out here):
The other day I was listening to a podcast of this online influencer chick who I DEEPLY respect and basically want to copy her entire business model and life. She’s the real deal. But she gave this piece of advice about Instagram that I keep hearing and every single time I hear it I can’t help but roll my eyes HARD.
She was talking about the overall look of your instagram feed & was saying something like “do you want your feed to feel dark and moody…or maybe light and airy?
Here’s the thing babes: if you’re a graphic designer & you love this shit, cool. Go spend 1 million hrs making your feed feel cohesive by only sharing photos with burnt sienna, bubblegum pink and orange sherbet shades in them. Only use the A5 filter on VSCO cam and then just take that pic of your fun new totally insta worthy project and throw it in the trash cause…uhm…I don’t see any burnt sienna in there boo?
Look, your feed WILL look fab if you do this stuff. But here’s the truth: people only “consume” your whole feed like that ONCE—when they follow you. That’s it. Then they just see your pics scroll by one by one.
I’m only sharing this shit, cause if you’re like me: all this feed cohesive bullshit has ended up being a giant clusterfuck of annoyance, inaction, and frustration for you.
I don’t like taking pictures….& if I somehow manage to get one that doesn’t look like a flaming pile of garbage, I sure as hell don’t want to be worried about whether or not I have something in the shot that is vibing with my color palette.
I mean, have you ever gone to someone’s profile who you were interested in, read a couple of posts you dug, and then thought “fuck that noise…she doesn’t have a cohesive color palette so I’m not following her.” Cause I haven’t.
I have a better idea. Let’s all ditch this color palettte BS & instead get laser focused on our content. Let’s only share good shit that’s of crazy value to our audience.
So yeah: I don’t have a color palette. But guess what: if your ass makes it to the end of one of my long-ass captions, I can promise you that you’re going to get some REAL good shit along the way.💁🏼♀️
She also started mixing in heavy heaps of self-confidence & mindset, like this fabulous post:
Here’s the ONE thing that could help you most with building your brand RN: have a motherfucking opinion.
👉🏻 I hate gallery wall.
👉🏻 Topo Chico is the best sparkling water on the planet…Perrier is garbage and should all be dumped out in the sewer.
👉🏻 I like dogs more than people.
👉🏻 Velvet is the best Spanish language show on Netflix.
👉🏻 If you’re a creative entrepreneur, Instagram is the platform you should be going all in on to build your biz.
👉🏻 If you really wanna connect with your audience in a meaningful way, write honest long ass posts.
For the love of gawd, stand up for what you think and what you believe in.
Don’t sandwich your POV with a litany of “you might have a diff point of view” buts or “I don’t want to offend anyone’s” buts. TELL ME WHAT YOU THINK AND TELL ME HARD.
Because here’s what happens when you do: you become the authority. You become the expert. You become the person who I can just tell knows wtf is UP.
And I see that you were brave enough to tell me…and now I’m listening way the hell harder than I ever have been before.
I might not agree with your ass, but I’m totally here to listen to what you have to say. Now you just gotta get out there and fearlessly SAY IT.
By July 2019, she’s launched another course—a mini test course—called “Uplevel Your Instagram” based on one premise: “your follower count has fuck-all to do with the success of your biz.”
By August, she’d proven the concept and evolved it into something bigger: “Insta Dream Camp.” She had 73 students enroll.
The reason why I’m going through all of this is because I want to highlight how real success happens: in teeny, tiny evolutions. One evolution at a time.
No one launches a $25,000 program out of the gate. They start with what they know—in Erica’s case, interior design. They use that as a bridge to their new interest. They start teaching interior designers what they’ve learned about business. Then they put out a miniature $97 course about Instagram. Then, they do more generalist courses on business. Then, they put out a bunch of other programs in between.
In fact, I asked Erica to give me a list of the programs she’s run and what their price points were.
Here was her list:
- I have a mini course on how to use your close friends list on Instagram for a launch and that’s only $97 [and my only course that’s still for sale]
- My course, Instagram Coach Camp, was $697 and then I did an “all in bootcamp week” where I taught the entire course from start to finish everyday on zoom for $1997
- Intensives were $997 for one hour
- I get asked a lot to speak in other people’s masterminds and I charged anywhere from $597 to $997 for that
- I did an “offer lab” one week intensive where I helped people reinvent their offers and product suites and that was $4997
- Mastermind (3 months) was 12k and 24k for VIP upgrade
- 1:1 coaching was 20k
- And there were some one-off masterclasses, etc that I did, but none of them were big money makers.
This was how she earned $842,000 last year in 2021—only 3 years into her business coaching endeavor.
But, she had built up a world of trust first by posting about what she knew: interior design. That’s where she got started. And that goes to show you that starting anywhere is better than freezing into paralysis for years, full of imposter syndrome, secretly worried that you aren’t good enough to charge, say, $20K to coach someone.
Erica’s superpower has been confidence—a confidence that comes from DOING IT.
Yet, she’s also the first person to admit that even she suffers from what she (hilariously) calls: “dick brain.”
She even has a hashtag that acts as a throughline for her work: #yourbrainisadick
It’s this irreverent mix of mindset talk that, from where I’m sitting, has really helped her to stand out from other coaches. As she said to me during our call:
If I figure something out, I want to tell you, so you don’t have to go through all the shit I had to go through to figure it out.
Erica’s real. She talks about her real life. And she talks about real topics that other people can relate to. It’s not just a feed filled with helpful, but boring, business advice: her feed is HER, acting like your BFF, telling you all the shit she thinks—and what’s helped her along the way.
Relatability is a golden business hack, even though it’s never taught as a business strategy.
It’s 100% how I built The Middle Finger Project and other projects, like Meat & Hair—without Instagram as a marketing strategy. Which presents an intriguing proposition:
Perhaps the platform isn’t as important as the person.
So often, we get on these things, whether it’s Instagram or email marketing or whatever, and we instantly clam up and become a “professional” version of ourselves, stiff and stuffy and full of self-judgment. But, no one wants to talk to that person in real life, and I suspect no one wants to hear from that person online, either.
Erica’s a phenomenal example of how just showing up naturally, effervescently, and full of life and vigor, without censoring her every thought, is a lead magnet strategy in and of itself.
Here’s a signature Erica mindset nugget of gold:
Do you ever walk into Whole Foods and say “WHOA, GUYZ…EVERYTHING IS FOR SALE HERE AND I’M VERY OVERWHELMED AND TURNED OFF”??
This is how your audience feels!
They want to know what you’re selling!
Yet, time an time again, she pairs this with hard-hitting advice that feels contrarian to everything else that’s out there.
For example, “Welcome to Instagram for grown-ups,” where she desperately urges you to “forget your checklists and content pillars, and the hack you just heard about on Clubhouse.”
Or, her “anti-scale” strategy that rags on cookie cutter approaches.
Or, when she credits her “close friends list” as THE strategy that “LEGIT resulted in my highest ROI out of annnnnny other trick, tip or hack I’ve everrrrr used on Instagram.” Behold:
Do this shit TODAY and you’re gonna create a captive group of hot leads that are ready to DM you, buy from you and sing your praises.
1️⃣ Come up with a bomb ass focus for your CF list (preferably related to what you’re selling now or soon].
2️⃣ Give your community some seriously juicy reasons they should join.
3️⃣ Deliver killer CF List content.
Then watch as like 95% of the ppl who buy your shit, hire you, reach out to you and promote you are from your Close Friends List.
I credit a giant piece of the success I had with my recent $100k launch to my CF list.
So, Erica Reitman goes from interior designer to complete rad business coach, earning tons of moohah from her perfectly-pillowed living room in Mexico.
Though, she’s since relocated to Mexico City because “Greg and I are very much city people; we lived in New York City for so long, and we lived in LA, and San Miguel de Allende is freakin’ dreamy but it’s a small town. The first week we were [in Mexico City,] like, the sheer joy we felt when we opened up Uber Eats.”
But moving to Mexico City wasn’t the only big change she decided to make.
In 2021, Reitman noticed a problem: while her clients loved her coaching, they often struggled with execution.
Where to find a designer?
Where to find a copywriter?
Where to find someone to help me with my social?
Where to figure out my branding in the first place?
There are a lot of moving parts to online business. And yet, even if you do manage to find the perfect dream team, you then face a new problem:
None of those people are talking to one another.
They’re typically all freelancers who work independently. So you’ve got Joe Blow over here designing your website before the copy is ready, or you’re putting everything on hold and waiting for the copywriter, but then you have to do a professional photo shoot, which the designer needs after the copy, but before they can get started. It’s a whole rigmarole.
You now have an all-new job that’s called: managing people. And we all know that managing people is the worst. 😂
I have thought for years and years about how much bank someone could make if they would just solve this problem for us all. Have daydreamed about it! Have had full-on fantasies about how cool that would be, were an agency to exist that specialized in online business and offered not only coaching, but a full-service, soup-to-nuts option.
Guess who’s showing up to execute?
Just this past month, Erica Reitman has done a slow pivot once again—except this time, she’s marching down the runway with a team.
Icon.Agency is a modern online business agency that does it ALL.
✅ Online strategy & coaching
✅ A killer team to execute
✅ And, full management of the team
Yet, perhaps what’s most interesting about this exciting new model is in the way it operates.
It’s not a traditional agency model in the sense that Erica hires on X number of people and they all work for her day in and out on staff. Rather, she personally goes out and hand-assembles the perfect team for your project, based on everything from what industry you’re in, to your brand, to your personality, to your specific needs, and more.
The team is then assembled for a 3-month sprint. (She refers to them as “expert collaborators.”)
During those 3 months, you MOVE.
You work with them. They manage the project. And you get your dream online business.
But, here’s the part that was really interesting to me.
In a traditional agency, a project manager often acts as the middle man between the client and the agency. Why? Because agencies don’t want their clients poaching their talent. It’s incredibly common for clients to say to a web designer, for example: “I’ll pay you X to do this for me directly.”
But Erica Reitman has a different approach: she intentionally puts each one of her creative collaborators in the spotlight.
“This is something that I am really proud of. One of my favorite quotes—call it cheesy if you want to—is that a rising tide lifts all boats. I want to support as many women as I possibly can. So, we built this model really around that idea: instead of having, you know, 15 different freelancers that we have either on retainer or on staff, we work with expert collaborators and I want to help them build their businesses as well. I don’t want them to be an anonymous copywriter under the umbrella of Icon Agency. I want clients to know who they’re working with, and when we’re done working together, if you want to keep working with them, I want you to do that too.”
My immediate response: THIS IS REALLY GOOD.
Especially since, as Erica also pointed out during our call, that traditional agencies have this old, stodgy approach of “you’re going to sign on with us and be with us here foreeeverrrrrr, muahahaha!”
She much prefers the 3-month sprint.
Her signature rebellious nature shows back up in the way she designed even this:
”The idea of putting together a program that lasts a year makes me want to jump out the window—even with people I absolutely love. I don’t want to make commitments like that.”
Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.
But then I asked a curious follow-up question:
“So, repeat business is not something you’re seeking?”
That’s when the true genius of her business model revealed itself.
“We do offer what we call a ‘continuation package’ which allows us to continue working with clients who want to keep us managing stuff and staying on top of it all and dealing with vendors and making sure that everything is kind of coming together and the way that it was when we were working together. It’s fun as hell for me to scheme and dream w someone and help them execute and then continue to get to do that and watch as their business grows.”
Now this is phenomenal.
ANY business has a hard time getting clients to sign up for an extended period of time, especially with so may variables: will we like working together? will this really work? does this make sense for me? Am I going to like it? Is the investment worthwhile?
Most businesses try to get over this hump with a standard exploratory call, hoping that’ll be enough to sign a client on for, say, a year. But Erica’s 3-month-sprint model is actually quite useful: it allows for a contained project, with specific deliverables, within a relatively short time frame, so her clients can get a fast win….and it lends itself to a much easier “yes” up front. Then, more selling can be done on the back-end, if a client would like to continue.
But also? Erica pulls in a cool $25K for just those 3 months—which is a sweet chunk of change, but also an appropriate number, given the sheer amount of deliverables.
What I didn’t tell you about, however, is the $10K upgrade: if a client wishes to also have private access to Erica via Voxer—an app for one-on-one walkie talkie like chat popular in the business world—and they’d like heavier doses of coaching from her in the form of mindset work and “get your head out of your ass and let’s go” work…they can pay $35,000 for those 3 months and be happier than clams.
Given that the agency is new—they don’t even have an official website yet!—Erica has only done one round of client intake, opening up 5 founder spots that also include an additional in-person retreat in Mexico City as an incentive.
All five spots sold out within weeks.
3 people out of 5 opted for the $35,000 upgraded option.
Though, something of note is Erica’s affinity for payment plans—something she followed back up with me about via email to make sure she added:
One big thing that we did not talk about is that I am a GIANT fan of payment plans. I hear people on social media saying shit like “attract your PAY IN FULL clients” and that’s cool, but honestly: I much prefer a payment plan. First of all, I find that it’s so helpful for people who are making larger investments as they build their businesses and need to manage cash [like even I use them! As it helps so much with monthly cash flow]. So, I always offer payment plan options. And because of this, I have “stacked income” every month. So for example, we just started the most recent Icon Agency sprint, but I’m also still getting payments from the last round of my mastermind. I have income mapped out until mid 2023 [as I offer 12 month payment plans for the agency].
On a payment plan, her services work out to be about $2,000 – $3,000 per month, depending on which option you choose.
One of the biggest benefits, she says, of offering it this way is that instead of her offerings being scattered across the board, as they were before, now everything she does is consolidated into one big, powerhouse offering.
Yet, I still had a few more questions about the way it all worked on the back end: namely, what happens to the clients who don’t opt in for the continuation?
What she told me next was another idea worth its weight in gold:
“We happily hook them up with the expert collaborators so they can continue working with them on their business! But, we also ask for a 10% commission for the first engagement.”
And the crowd goes wild! 🎉
More people need to do this. It incentivizes sharing in a way that’s helpful to all parties involved.
Furthermore, when I asked about her sales approach—how does someone sell a $25,000 service???—she was clear about three things:
First, you gotta get on the phone.
Second—no selling. ❌
In fact, she refuses to sell you her services over the phone.
”At an investment that’s this high, it’s weird to send a stranger $25,000. So, I want to make sure that we both have an opportunity to get to know each other and feel really good about it. Because I’m so upfront about the price, I don’t get pricing objections on the call. But I think it’s awkward when you have that moment on a call and somebody’s like ‘well, so what is your decision?’ So, I don’t do that: I tell people from the get go that even if you’re ready to pull out your credit card, I’m not going to take it, I want you to think about this. I want to make sure you’re coming at it from a really balanced, thoughtful place. So, I’m not going to let you sign up even if you want to: you have to wait at least 24 hours.”
“I only work with people who I would be cool going out to brunch with. That’s my litmus test: would I have fun eating pancakes with you at lunch? Could we have bottomless mimosas?”
It’s that kind of surefire, entirely human approach that seems to be the hallmark of Erica Reitman’s success.
When I ask her what she thinks the key to her success is, she tells me it’s all about designing a business that feels good and exciting for you.
I had a client not too long ago, who was a total night owl. She woke up at 11—she she was not a morning person—and she was a coach, so she started offering ‘pajama sessions’ for other night owls. It doesn’t occur to our brains, normally, that we can do stuff like that, but that was when she was at her best and that’s what she wanted to do, and all of those like nighttime sessions immediately filled up as soon as she told her clients about it.
She also cites the fact that we’re on a Zoom phone call, instead of a Zoom video call, as a another example. “There are probably some people who would be disappointed not to get to chat with you on video, but you’ve found a way to make this work for YOU. That’s what this is all about.”
(I then go on to praise the one million reasons why I love Zoom phone, but none of that is relevant here. Okay, fine, I’ll tell you: transcriptions of the call for accurate quoting, no distractions during the call—you know how we get distracted by our own faces???—no extra time wasted getting camera ready, and no worrying about my lighting when I’m traveling and in a hotel room. Voilà!)
The only time I heard Erica ever even so much as remotely hesitate was toward the end of the call, when I asked her what was next. Point blank: she knows she needs to do a better job of growing her email list.
She tells me she believes very strongly in social media and content; that she doesn’t only love creating it, but it’s 100% responsible for the existence of her business and all the money she has made. But, she’s also really cognizant about “what’s going on with IG.”
“I can see what’s happening with Instagram and that’s kind of why the writing’s on the wall, for me, and I really do kind of want to lean into other things, like email, and I don’t know if you’re on TikTok yet, but…”
She openly states she doesn’t know that you could replicate the success she’s had there, because “back in the heyday of Instagram, if you used a fucking hashtag, you’d get 1,000 followers—it was so much easier to build a community.”
So, she’s re-figuring things out, as she puts it, as things continue to shift. She’s wanted to start a podcast “for fucking ever”—and get on TikTok, too. She loves TikTok, and it’s only a matter of time, I imagine, that she’s taking that platform by storm.
But the real focus is going to be on (finally) building her email list. She’s managed to get about 3,000 subscribers since 2018, but she’s never put much emphasis there.
”I have no idea why I’m so resistant to it. I absolutely love writing. But my brain has turned it into this, I don’t know, this unconquerable thing that, in my mind, I keep building up—and, for whatever reason, we haven’t focused on it, but that is going to change.”
And all I can say back to her is the only obvious thing one COULD say:
Imagine what you’ll do with an email list.
Once she figures out how to make it fun, that is.
Because fun is the real magic of Erica Reitman. Sure, she’s a business coach. Sure, she’s used Instagram to get eyeballs. Sure, her carpet is way cooler than all of ours. But none of that is why she’s been successful.
The real success comes from the pleasure she takes in doing everything she does.
With flair. Enthusiasm. Excitement. Fun.
And, as they say, the person having the most fun wins.
Sometimes, they also happen to get filthy fucking rich in the process, too.