My First Vacation, My Worst Nightmare

Have you ever felt like someone literally pulled your intestine out of your mouth, tied it around your neck and all you see is death clouding over you? What if this was because you skipped one step, ONE small step while hip-hopping your way towards success? What if it happened right when you were almost living your dream life and you thought everything was perfect?


This was me a few months ago (April 2016 to be precise) and if you have been there, well my heart bleeds for you because I would not wish that fate even on my worst enemy.


My head hurt too much. My body hurt too much. It seemed that everything hurt too much. I wouldn’t open my eyes for hours and hours, not because I didn’t want to face the excruciating reality, but I sensed it would hurt too much to open them.

In a matter of days, my freedom, my dreams, my exuberance… left waving from the 9 ¾ platform as the smoke train pulled out.

I remember lying in bed, fighting tears (and nausea), thinking about how abruptly life flipped its side and what I was going to do about it…


I had just come back from my first international vacation (or any real vacation for that matter) ever! Taking my family to Saudi Arabia was like a dream come true. From getting the visa and hotel reservations to pre-tour shopping, from exciting days of packing the bags to meeting friends & family before we fly (Yeah! We Pakistanis do that, we’re simple like that), down to the day of departure (OMG!!! It was my first time at an airport and just being there felt heavenly) … everything went as planned.


The moment we landed, I took a moment to observe exactly what I was feeling. It was a strange sensation of elation and anticipation. I reveled in that moment, breathed in the new air, and smiled…pushing my trolley and heading towards the bus stop.


Anything less than to say that those 14 days and 15 nights was the best time of my life would be an injustice. I had imagined that kinda freedom for years. I had dreamt that freedom. I had breathed that freedom. I had lived that freedom (through my mind’s eye), until I GOT THAT FREEDOM.

  • We stayed in 5-Star hotels, dined in fancy restaurants, enjoyed taste-bud tickling street food
  • We met people from more than 12 countries, different ethnicity, different nationality, but all in one place, bonded by love & affection
  • From roaming around in markets and buying (sometimes drooling) presents to ah-mazing sight-seeing and hiking 2500 ft. all the way to the top of the Cave of Hira


By all measures, it was a phenomenal trip.

And I never imagined for the life of me that something so GOOD would leave me feeling crippled by pain and such anguish.

Ideally, I should have been celebrating my success; starting an online business, making boatloads of money, and then taking my family abroad at the age of 25. All that and more, despite being from a small village (where women, BTW, aren’t allowed to work or step outta their home without permission) …how cool is that? Very. Right?


And oh! Like a smart-cookie, I made damn sure that I wouldn’t come back to an empty bank account. Booked solid for May and June before I left, I was sure to come back and reap the rewards.


But in reality? I tripped over my own feet while tap-dancing to the beat of my success.

  • $5,500 advance payments refunded to clients (in total, $11,000 in lost revenue) …
  • 3 ready to pay prospects turned away (Valued: $4000-6000) …
  • Dozens of Facebook tags unanswered (You can’t put a price tag on connections) …
  • Tears, pain…and then some more tears…

My inbox kept buzzing until it wasn’t. And I could do nothing but to give in.

What happened?

My sinus flared up, I got blocked. My head, my nose, my ears, everything was at a standstill.

Brain tumor.

Respiratory infection.

Acute Madness Syndrome.

Black Magic.

Evil Spirits.

Jet lagged.

Or, the fact that Donald Trump was running for President.


A hundred and ten diagnoses were being thrown my way (I literally counted) and there was nothing I could do but wait it out…. as I laid in misery and accounted for my mistake.

Mistake? Mistake! What mistake?

My simple, teeny tiny (Read: Terribly HUGE) mistake was … that in all the hustle and grind to make money and then more money, I blurred my concept of success and forgot my own definition of freedom. Amidst 1:1 bookings (website copy, sales funnels, and the whole shebang), helping my clients birth new projects, and being an active catalyst for multiple $20k+ launches…I never stopped to nurture my own business properly.


There was no active lead capturing

There was no list nurturing

There was no sales funnel


HECK…Despite having one thousand and twenty-one ideas, the passion to go for them, and resources at my disposal, I had no product to sell. All my revenue was totally reliant on my 1:1 Services. And while it feels incredibly amazing to serve clients and see them thrive (and of course, make moolah), in all honesty my business wasn’t a business, I was just a glorified highly paid freelancer.


ON A SIDE NOTE: There’s nothing wrong with freelancing. But if you want to have a business and call yourself an entrepreneur, act like one. Period.


Now, If I had taken the time to work on my own business and strengthen the foundation, no matter what kinda circumstances I was going through, I would have a steady income stream doing what little (or more than a little) I could.


Let’s see what I could have made if I had a funnel launched in February (because initially, I had planned to launch a product by the end of January, 2016).

Product Price: $67

Estimated Buyers to date: 250+

Minimum Made: $67 x 250 = $16,750/-

Now, that’s just a basic rundown of what I missed out on.

The argument could be made that money that was never yours to begin with isn’t something you lose. BUT! I beg to differ. If I can whip up cash-creating copy for my clients, why on earth can’t I do the same for myself?

So you see, if I had a funnel setup I could have easily made enough money ($5,000+) to not worry about refunds, and feeling like a complete failure and thinking that no one will ever work with me again.


There’s nothing more powerful than experiences that life teaches you. And this is ONE mistake I do not even wish on my worst enemy!


That said, I wanna talk funnels with you!


A Funnel or Sales Funnel is a process that takes your readers on an adventurous journey and filters them into buyers and non-buyers at various points after they first come into contact with your brand.


This super fun journey comprises of 3 C’s.

  • Creation
  • Connection
  • Conversion

And with that comes your dancing Cha-Ching.



If you’re a funnel virgin, I’d highly suggest you to start with the 5-Day Connection + Conversion Sequence. You can use this sequence to build connection, establish yourself as an expert & sell your stuff to people who sign up for your list. Just set it once and see the cash rolling in for the rest of your life.


And the best part? You can use this sequence to both sell your products (trainings, courses, programs, eBooks) OR 1:1 services.


Once you get the hang of it, you can further create multiple funnels in your business to ensure that each set of audience on your list is well-attended and catered to. Because truth be told, not everyone on your list is at the same stage. They are all at various points in their journey; thinkers, go-getters, skeptics, beginners, and people who need your advance tactics.


Some of the other funnels you can create are:

  • High-Ticket Sales Sequence
  • Product Launch Sequence
  • Webinar Sequence
  • Flash-Sale Sequence

Super cool, right?



  • PRODUCT – You’re gonna need a product that is in-line with your beliefs and solves a problem for your ideal customers.
  • FREEBIE – The very first step that your ideal client needs to take in order to solve their pressing problem, make it your freebie. Usually, it’s the first chunk of your product. The freebie will serve as a lead magnet to bring people onboard.
  • A SOLID PLAN – Yes, you will need to work for this, sales on auto pilot isn’t as auto as one would imagine. A strong marketing plan includes delivering massive value to your ideal clients via blogs, social media posts, livestreaming, and videos. You can then put your content in front of thousands of people by using Facebook Ads.
  • BIT OF TECH MAGIC – No matter what walk of entrepreneurial life you belong to, there’s no hiding from the fact that tech runs it all. You’ll require an Email Service Provider (My personal recommendation is ConvertKit as its painlessly simple and easy to use) to build your tribe (email list) + a landing page to have people sign up for your list. As for your actual product, you can either directly sell it to your list through your emails, or create a sales page.
  • EMAIL SERIES – At the heart of the entire process is either 3, 5 or 7-day email series. This is gonna lay bare The Good, The Bad and The Ugly to your audience. Creation + Connection = Conversion.


So, your product idea leads to the creation of your freebie, which in return helps in building the connection with your audience through a well thought-out marketing plan, and that connection then propels conversion and brings in cha-ching. Not that difficult, right?


However, the key to making your email sequence work is that you have to keep your reader hooked with your copy. Make it Clear, Concise & Compelling + add total YOUness to it (a bit of wit and whole lotta personality!).


Okay okay! I hear you. It’s hard to write if you got no baseline, because not everyone’s cut out to be an electrifying writer, but guess what! Taking action, whether it’s broken, beaten or half-assed is still better than sitting on the sidelines and saying “Imma do it later.”


All talk and no action makes you and me both two very dull entrepreneurs.
Yep! I mean it!


That is exactly why I am gonna spice this blog post up and give you my sizzling hot Sales Funnel Starter Kit. Give me just less than 60 minutes a day for 5-Days and I’ll personally help you write your Connection + Conversion Email Series so you can put your mind to ease and enjoy the cool money breeze (Haa! It rhymes).


So! Let’s gear up and build your first (or next) sales funnel!

And I’ll see you on the other side.



I know you already are in business, but my question is:

What kind of comfort level and freedom have you created for yourself? Does your business allow you to go on a vacation or attend an emergency without losing your sanity (and money)?


Leave a comment below and let me know. I’m looking out for your response.


See you soon,


P.S. For all of you who may be wondering about my health, after an emotional roller-coaster of pain, tears and despair, I am on the road to recovery and kicking some major biz ass!



    Anita Young

    Still trying to get my head around this concept. I’m starting to get the idea of how it could work for a service, but not sure how it applies to a craft / goods business like mine.

    • Maria

      Anita, you can totally create a sales funnel around a product/goods based business as well. Use a discount coupon as a lead magnet and then keep your list updated with all that you are doing (to create a connection) & your offers.


    Elizabeth Salazar

    Great post! I love that you share your story and break down what you could have made!

    • Maria

      Thank you for stopping by Elizabeth 🙂 And what better way to learn than from a practical (and expensive) mistake!



    I love how you didn’t let the sickness stop you, it was a setback.. sure but it only served to further fuel your goals and desires.

    That’s the key element to take away from this, better late than never.

    What an amazingly real and raw story you’ve shared in this post, An absolute privilege to read.

    And of course! Let the 5 Day Challenge Begin! 😀

    • Maria

      Thank you for the sparkling words of encouragement & appreciation Hammad. Always a pleasure!


    Tasleem Khan

    Thank you for the reminder, we need to look after ourselves, and need another source of income other than doing client work.

    So glad to hear you are getting better, and that you never stayed down, you only saw it as a set back and are growing from it.

    • Maria

      Yes, exactly Tasleem! There’s so much more to life than 1:1 work (not that 1:1 work isn’t important) and being entrepreneurs, we should definitely “create” more and more opportunities for ourselves (because finding them is too mainstream).

      And thank you! 🙂

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