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How a 28-year-old single mom turned her $1,200 stimulus check into a $1.3 million business

  • Ellie Diop, known as “Ellie Talks Money” on social media, is a business coach based in Los Angeles.
  • She used her stimulus check to start her coaching business, spending on startup costs.
  • In 10 months, her business generated over $1 million in revenue.
  • Read more stories from Personal Finance Insider.

After being laid off from her job in 2019, Ellie Diop applied and was rejected from over 50 different jobs. That’s when she realized she needed to be more creative to provide for her kids as a single mom. But, after being unemployed for a year, she did not have much to invest in startup costs.

When Diop received her $1,200 stimulus check last year, she saw an opportunity to invest in herself and leverage her business, management, and marketing experience to start a coaching company.

With the pandemic, she noticed that many millennials were looking to understand how to start a business. “I saw a lot of unanswered questions. So many business coaches were either men or single women without kids or women in a relationship without kids. I did not see anyone who could offer my point of view, so I decided to become that person.”

Seeing that underserved space in the market, she launched “Ellie Talks Money” in 2020, an online coaching business to help millennials set up businesses, build business credit, and obtain grants.

Ten months later, her business has generated over $1 million in revenue, according to records viewed by Insider.

Here is how Diop turned her stimulus check into a seven-figure business.

She used a portion of her stimulus check to fund her startup costs

Diop looked for a social media platform that would allow her to offer her products and services at a low cost once she was ready to sell them. After researching the different options for a month, she decided to focus on Instagram. In her prior corporate role, she managed her company’s Instagram and had learned how to create a visually appealing page at a relatively low cost.

“I leveraged my experience in the corporate world to get started,” she said. “I knew I would need good lighting, a website, and a tool to edit my visuals and create my first product.”

Diop spent $170 on two ring lights to ensure she could create visually appealing photos. With limited funds available, she decided to build her own website. She spent $145 to purchase the domain name, build the website, and pay for the first year of hosting.

After researching an affordable tool to edit her photos and create appealing visuals for Instagram, Diop purchased a Canva pro membership for $120.

She kept her marketing costs low

Diop spent close to $450 to get the equipment she needed to get started. She then decided to focus on delivering free value to attract her ideal audience, which allowed her to keep her marketing costs low.  

“I spent 45 days scrolling through Instagram every day, researching, following hashtags, before making my first post. It is important to look at who is having success in the field, analyze what they are doing that is working, and identify which needs they are not meeting,” said Diop.

She provided free quality content, which attracted her target audience. Then, with a budget of $150, she paid for sponsored posts on pages that reached her target audience, a cost of around $25 per post.

Once she started building an audience, Diop developed her first product using Canva. She did not have much money to spend on marketing, so she offered her course and services for free to her ideal clients in exchange for reviews. 

“I also did free coaching calls for people for two weeks before launching my paid coaching calls. That is how I got testimonials in the beginning,” she said.

She showed up consistently and authentically

When Diop started selling her first product, she would get in front of her audience almost every day via Instagram Live; it was an opportunity to market to her audience for free. She continues to show up consistently. 

“Be in front of your audience,” she advised. “Your customers have to like you, trust you, so they can continue coming back. Show up as yourself.” 


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