Entrepreneur: Corey Wilks, psychologist

Biz: Creator Alchemy

Tilt: Helping creators reach their potential

Primary Channel: Newsletter (2.6K)

Other Channels: Twitter (5K), YouTube (300), website

Time to First Dollar: 4 months

Rev Streams: Coaching, courses, sponsorships, affiliate marketing

Our Favorite Actionable Advice

  • Keep learning: When starting Creator Alchemy, Corey learned through trial and error. He had the mindset to keep going because he knew he could figure it out. 
  • Don’t waste time: Time is someone’s most valuable resource. Make every piece of content, course, or offer worth your audience’s time.
  • Rely on yourself: Corey found coaching clients to be a more reliable and profitable primary revenue stream than third-party platforms that could change their algorithms.  

The Story of Corey Wilks

Corey Wilks spent his academic career in clinical psychology, preparing to help people achieve their potential. Earning his doctorate from Marshall University, he specialized in addiction treatment as a behavioral health provider. While he maintained his strong interest in helping people, he quickly realized he wasn’t living up to his own potential.

“I was trained to help people flourish but was only able to help them survive. As soon as I got them to a sub-clinical diagnosis, the insurance dropped them, and they could no longer afford my help. I could only help them get their head above water,” Corey explains to The Tilt.

Corey realized he was frustrated, burning out, and not staying true to his core beliefs in freedom – the freedom to realize his potential and the freedom from wearing khakis and polo shirts. This is the moment he got the entrepreneurial itch.

He knew he still wanted to help people. He also knew most psychological content online is locked behind a paywall or a jargon-filled academic journal. 

In February 2020, Corey published his first blog on Medium. Still working as a psychologist, Corey had found an outlet to alleviate some frustration and satisfy his compulsion to write and help people. Corey saw his first dollar from creating content in May 2020. 

With COVID-19 ruling the world, Corey negotiated a remote contract in October 2020 and moved with his girlfriend to Louisville, Kentucky. Two months later, he received a 30-day notice to return to the office. He was jobless effective Jan. 1.

From clinical psychology to full-time creator entrepreneur

Corey found himself at a crossroads. Getting a license in Kentucky would take four to six months at a minimum. He had the blog and a runway of three paychecks to figure something out. 

As a psychologist, Corey admits he did not have a great view of coaches, especially life coaches. But his training and desire to help people flourish made coaching a realistic, not to mention viable option. Corey enrolled in a course at the College of Executive Coaching and became a certified professional coach. (Coaching and consulting is the most popular and profitable revenue stream for content creators, according to The Tilt’s 2023 Content Entrepreneur Benchmark Research.)

Now, Corey had the tools to help more people realize their potential and flourish, but he still had no clue how to make that happen. 

He frantically searched YouTube and Google for “how to be an entrepreneur and run your own business.” As someone without a business degree who grew up poor in rural Appalachia, he had no business connections or mentors to ask for help. 

Luckily, the creator and entrepreneur community came to the rescue. He credits his friend, fellow entrepreneur and psychologist Nick Wignal for helping during the first months. 

He asked Nick, “How do I even do a WordPress website? I don’t even know what a theme is?” 

Nick guided Corey through the basics of website design with WordPress. Corey learned about landing pages and how to market your content. 

“I just frantically self-taught for a few months. I learned it’s OK if you feel like you don’t know what you are doing. It’s totally cool. Just don’t let it stop you. I promise you will figure it out. Maybe frantically, but you will,” Corey says.

Now a full-time entrepreneur, Corey knew he needed to fill in knowledge gaps. He took a handful of courses instrumental in helping him build the business. But much of his journey has entailed trial and error. “I need to learn copywriting? OK, let me take a course, learn from it, and then put my own spin on it,” he explains.

A potentially life-altering event prompts question

Just two months into being a full-time entrepreneur, Corey found himself in the hospital, uninsured, with a massive infection that could be terminal if it spread.

Waiting on the test results alone, Corey had a pivotal thought: “What if I die today? Am I satisfied with how I spent the last seven days?” 

He answered “yes,” and (spoiler alert) he survived. But this question became central to his life, business, and coaching services. He asks it weekly. If the answer is no, he evaluates why he couldn’t say yes.

Corey encourages all entrepreneurs to ask themselves this question weekly: “What can I change so I’m satisfied with how I spent the last seven days?”

This idea is a central component of Corey’s content tilt. Corey helps creators reach their potential and not live in mediocrity and die with regret. If you know you are capable of more, but you choose not to do more, what is stopping you?

Road to revenue 

Corey continued building his business and earned his first dollar as a full-time entrepreneur in March 2021 from an affiliate partner. He calls this time as his “rice-and-beans” months. Corey eventually realized he could not rely on third-party monetization and depend on the algorithm of third-party platforms. Coaching was a revenue stream he could control better.

Corey landed his first coaching client in April 2021 and grew his client list from there. A big success came when he landed YouTuber Ali Abdaal as a client. 

In October 2021, Ali Abdaal posted a YouTube video about eight challenges he was having in his life and businesses. Corey remembers thinking at the time that Ali’s challenges were exactly what he coached people on.

Corey dropped what he was doing and wrote an article that served as a reply to Ali’s video. He outlined how he would begin with Ali and how he would tackle each challenge. Corey walked through all the challenges as if he was already working with Ali and then hit publish. The same day, Corey tweeted to his small following, asking for their help retweeting in hopes that Ali would see it.

Ali saw the article and immediately asked Corey to coach him for six months starting in January 2022. Coaching Ali led to the creation of Corey’s first self-paced course, World-Class Coaching.

“Find out who your dream clients or your dream audience is and just create content specifically for them. Others will find benefit in this content, and you may just land that dream client,” Corey explains.

Corey also added live cohort coaching groups and conducted three over 18 months. He recently added a second self-paced course, Build an Intentional Life, based on these live-cohort classes. 

Cutting back to expand business

Continuing the business model to own his audience, Corey launched a newsletter in September 2021. Growth has been slow, but joining growth programs like ConvertKit Creator Network tripled his subscriber count in six months. Like most other creators, Corey’s two biggest pain points are getting his content found and conversions. He knows his content is solid. It just needs more eyeballs. 

To help solve this, Corey plans to cut back on coaching and focus more time on growing his newsletter subscribers. Building his YouTube channel as a growth strategy for the newsletter is one priority. Corey believes that “YouTube is always looking for people to watch your videos. It does not have the short shelf life of the other major social media platforms.” 

While it means still depending on an algorithm, it is a means to drive people to the platform he controls, the newsletter.

Advice for content entrepreneurs

Corey shares some advice for his fellow content entrepreneurs:

Direct revenue is key to being a successful entrepreneur. You have to have control over your money and your customers. Build your audience and create content and products they want and find value in. Make your content worth someone’s time. Your work may not be perfect. In fact, it probably isn’t perfect. That’s OK. But is it valuable? If the answer is yes, hit publish. 

More creators should try coaching as part of their content business. A lot of creators struggle to monetize and refine who their audience is or what audience they are trying to attract. When a creator coaches someone in their audience, the creator is getting paid to learn how to serve the client better. You learn the things people struggle with and develop strategies to help the coaching clients. You can then take what you’ve learned and turn it into valuable content for your entire audience. 

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About the author

Marc Maxhimer is the director of growth and partnerships at The Tilt. He holds a bachelor’s degree in English and mathematics education and a master’s degree in educational administration.  He previously taught middle school for 16 years.  Marc lives in (and loves all things) Cleveland with his wife, two daughters, and dog.