Mar 23, 2023

Emily Kramer: From Carta's VP of Marketing to thriving solopreneur

By Wes Kao
Co-founder of Maven
Discover how Emily Kramer left her full-time role and built a successful marketing career with her consultancy, newsletter, fund, and highly-rated course. Learn key lessons from her experience.

Emily Kramer has an insane career in marketing. She went to Harvard Business School & was Head of Marketing at Asana and Carta. The most impressive part: She left her full-time role at the height of her career–and is now even more successful working for herself.
Today, she runs a well-respected consultancy, newsletter, fund, and course.
This is a new phenomenon. Before, if you wanted to advance as a marketer, you had a few options:
(A) Climb the corporate ladder
(B) Raise VC money or bootstrap your own startup
(C) Or run a “lifestyle business,” which means having all your friends think you’re “consulting” because you’re in between jobs
That’s all changed. Emily is proof and here’s her story:
Emily developed her course on Maven after noticing a pattern among her clients: Founders at early stage startups didn’t know how to build a marketing team from scratch. She says, "I noticed a pattern of founders at early stage startups who didn’t know how to build a marketing team from scratch. Because I was the first marketing hire at a bunch of startups, I was in a unique position to help.”
She had already been writing her newsletter and consulting, so she turned her most popular frameworks into live workshops. She gave her students space to ask questions, apply the frameworks, and give each other feedback. Her course on B2B Marketing has a 9.8/10 rating–one of the highest rated courses on Maven.
"The course is a way to bring my newsletter and community to life."
When reflecting on the impact on her students, Emily says: "There's nowhere else you're going to get this hands-on cohort experience. I hear from students all the time that it has changed the trajectory of their career.”
Peer-to-peer learning is a key tenet of her cohort-based course. Students form lasting relationships and peer groups that continue after the course ends. Emily shares how these connections can build confidence:
"When you’re a team of one, you don't know if you're doing it right. So meeting other people in the same spot as you can help you become more confident.”
It’s a gloriously symbiotic feedback loop: Emily watches for when her students’ eyes light up, which gives her new ideas for her newsletter. And creating content gives her ideas of what to share in her course. She says: “In my course, sometimes a topic really lands or the conversation goes in an unexpected direction. That helps me write my newsletter."
Her vision is for her course to be "the most immersive experience of her community." She aims to keep the cohort size small and run it once a quarter while adding shorter offerings.
Key lessons from Emily’s experience:
  1. Build up knowledge that’s valued in the market. This gives you options on how to monetize. It’s good to be in demand.
  2. Scale your impact. Emily found that 1:1 consulting was rewarding, but not scalable. Through her cohort-based course, she can now help hundreds of B2B marketers.
  3. A course business gives you freedom, but it’s not a silver bullet. You get to choose how often you want to teach, how many students you want, and whether you want to earn $50k/year or $500k/year. But anything of value takes effort to build.
  4. Even the most talented people feel self-conscious about sharing their work. Emily has grown her following to 20,000 on LinkedIn–and she’s still shocked that people want to hear what she has to say. That’s normal. If you want to become a solopreneur, you have to get used to sharing your work.
  5. It’s not harder, it’s different. If you’re savvy enough to get hired, get promoted, improve your craft, manage people, and drive results, you’re likely a pretty competent operator. Those skills are transferable. Running a solo business is not harder than working in-house. It’s different. And most importantly, it requires betting on yourself.

PS If you’re a solopreneur, teaching a course is a great way to bring your content and community to life. Over 3,000 subject matter experts have gone through the Maven Course Accelerator to turn their knowledge into a community-driven, live course.
When you start earning on Maven, you keep 90% of your course revenue minus Stripe fees. On average, instructors earn $20,000 in their first cohort. Plus, you own your IP and content. Our goal is to help you launch and grow a course you’re proud of.
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