In this post Linda Marson, founder of Global Spiritual Studies, puts herself in your shoes and asks some of the questions you might have about how she came to embark on this venture. “It’s a story about having an idea, about taking a leap of faith, about embarking on the Fool’s journey full of exciting ideas, challenges, friendships and joy at watching the seedling I planted grow and flourish. So many beautiful flowers have already bloomed – how many more are below the surface, just waiting for the right moment to burst forth?” Over to you now for more questions…
YOU: Where did the idea for Global Spiritual Studies come from?
LINDA: I don’t have a neat answer to that question. I literally woke up one morning with the concept of a website where experts in any kind of spiritual or esoteric modality could teach master classes and courses. Since 2008 I’d been using web conferencing and Skype to teach tarot to small classes of students from one side of Australia to the other. So, I guess that’s the spark that ignited the fire…and gut instinct told me I would never be short of fuel and people to join me round the fire!
YOU: So, how did you turn a bright idea into a business?
LINDA: By following my gut instinct! I’m an archer – my Sun is in Sagittarius, so there I was in mid 2010 with a target somewhere up in the ether – all I had to do was aim that arrow and trust it would hit the target. My astrological chart is 80% Fire, no Earth and a smattering of Water and Air. So I’ve never been short of ideas, passion and enthusiasm. To compensate for the lack of Earth, I’ve had to train myself to ground those ideas and work methodically towards a goal. But that doesn’t come easily, so you won’t be surprised to hear that it took me almost three years to do what every budding entrepreneur does – a business plan!
YOU: How did you find the business planning process?
LINDA: Somewhat daunting and a massive reality check. I knew I couldn’t do it without help, so availed myself of Brigit Esselmont’s business mentoring service. Brigit’s online business, biddytarot.com is highly successful, but most importantly, she understands where I’m coming from because she’s in the same field. And she knows about turning a hobby or sideline, into a viable business. Three years down the track, there’s no shortage of quality classes and courses on Global Spiritual Studies – feedback from people who’ve bought them proves this. But I need to make sure teachers are properly rewarded on an ongoing basis for the time and effort they put into recording the classes and preparing resources.
YOU: What is your business model?
LINDA: It’s quite simple really…I offer people the opportunity to expand their teaching mode to include web conferencing. Apart from a small once-only administration and orientation fee, teachers pay nothing to offer classes and courses through Global Spiritual Studies. We work together to promote offerings and revenue from sales is split between teachers and Global Spiritual Studies. It’s similar to business models used by product distributors and retail outlets.
YOU: What have been the highlights of the first three years?
LINDA: Forging partnerships with wonderfully talented teachers who are passionate about their spiritual practice and about sharing their wisdom and insights. Then there are all the people who have participated in live classes, bought recordings and products and shared their stories with me. Some feel like old friends, so often do I see their names on orders and in the text chat during live classes.
YOU: And what about the main challenges you’ve faced?
LINDA: Getting the word out, getting traffic to the website, but most of all, attracting people to courses. When I talk about courses I’m referring to a series of anywhere between five and 25 classes that build a body of knowledge and practical learning experiences for people.
YOU: So what are you doing about getting more people enrolled in courses?
LINDA: This is where the business planning has come into its own. It forced me to look at how established online schools structure their courses and what I already knew but wasn’t facing, became glaringly obvious. People like to know when a course is starting and they want a way of interacting with the teacher. In the present model, this interaction occurs when courses are first recorded – people are in the web conference room asking questions and making comments and, in some cases, participating in regular Skype calls or in online discussion groups. But once courses are recorded they’re promoted as self-paced learning. Start whenever you like, purchase one-on-one mentoring sessions if you like, or just watch the recordings without any contact with the teacher, if that suits you.
However, research shows that people undertaking a course of study at home do like to have the opportunity to interact with teachers. So in mid 2014 we modified the way we offer courses by setting times when teachers facilitate private online discussion groups, answering questions and commenting on people’s responses to exercises and activities contained in classes. This happened, for example, when Mary Greer was recording the five classes in her Petit Lenormand course and it worked extremely well. During these periods we sometimes schedule live teleconference via Skype to answer people’s questions in real time. These are recorded and made available in the private discussion group.
So sign up now (on the right of this page) to the Spiritual Studies and Travel fortnightly newsletter to get advance notice of when online discussion groups for courses start, as well as all the latest on what’s happening with master classes.
My study story
It can be hard sometimes to make a commitment to a course of study. You wonder whether you’ll have the time, whether it’s worth the effort and whether you’ll like the teaching style. I know this only too well from my own experience. In 2009 I finally decided to do Evelynne Joffe’s year long course on the Kabbalah – a decision I’d been putting off for years. But when the time’s right, the teacher appears and you wonder why you took so long to do it. It was an amazing experience with long-term results I could never have imagined – what I learned during those classes helped me navigate through a series of major life decisions that year.
Needless to say, Evelynne was one of the first people I contacted when I started to work on making Global Spiritual Studies a reality. Together we converted her face-to-face course into 28 online classes which took us almost another year to record. By the end of the course, which we called Living the Tree of Life, you begin to truly understand the meaning of balance and harmony and how to apply the Jewish mystical tradition embodied on the Tree of Life in your everyday life.
Click here for information about the course which is available for download or as files stored on a DVD or USB flash drive.
About Linda Marson
Linda Marson is a former President of the Tarot Guild of Australia and author of Ticket, Passport and Tarot Cards. Before the manuscript was even finished, Linda was onto the next stage of the Ticket, Passport and Tarot Cards journey – a series of 22 short programs for community television in Australia – one segment for each of the 22 Major Arcana cards. The series won an award for the best personal or spiritual development program on Australian community television in 2006.
No longer content to write or produce TV programs about tarot and travel, Linda took people on tarot guided journeys to Peru for a number of years. She continues to do this through a partnership with Gothic Image Tours in the UK.
Linda has been reading Tarot cards for over 25 years and for many years wrote for, and edited the Tarot pages of Spheres, a spiritual magazine in Australia. She has presented workshops on various aspects of Tarot practice and organised major Tarot events involving internationally renowned Tarot experts. In 2011 she established Global Spiritual Studies. For more information about Linda visit her page on Global Spiritual Studies and her Experience the Tarot website.
Over to you for questions and comments…
I’d love to hear from you…what bright idea sparked you into action in your business? Do you have any ideas about ways we can improve what we offer on Global Spiritual Studies?