Here’s Where Degrees in Theology and History Converge
Julie Bogart can offer you an education in more ways than one.
For starters, her company Brave Writer can teach you smart and entertaining ways to homeschool your children. Just ask the hundreds of thousands of families in 191 countries who do it. Or tune in online to one of Brave Writer’s teachers to do it for you.
Then, here’s the lessons Julie can teach you about not only thriving during the pandemic, but also practically doubling her company revenues from $1.6 million to $3.1 million. She theorized that this multi-sectarian endeavor pre-COVID could become an outlet for even more parents who were new to homeschooling during the pandemic, particularly those who had never imagined choosing it for themselves. And she figured out a way to make them all customers for life.
The 25-year online teaching veteran—and now CEO—began her homeschooling endeavor in 2000. After her divorce 10 years later, she focused even more on its success to support her five children—who yes, she was homeschooling. “I had a background in professional article writing, ghost writing and magazine editing since before 2000, she explains, “and I noticed the available materials to teach kids were perfunctory. So I wrote a program to teach parents how to teach kids and I taught kids online at the same time.”
Julie’s stellar reputation for teaching writing in the homeschool world allowed her to begin live-streaming on Instagram and Facebook Live, and up her speaking presence at homeschool conferences. The more people who heard her speak about the parallels between parenting and homeschooling, the more she heard how much they wanted support.
Today, Julie has parlayed that need with a staff of more than 50 remote curriculum writers, teachers and support staff to countries beyond the United States, including ex-patriots and even some English-as-a-second-language students in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Europe, Taiwan, Mexico and Canada. In fact, the book she wrote in 2019 entitled “The Brave Learner” was translated into several other languages, including Polish, another audience in which she has a strong following. “The Poles really love me!” she says.
To make matters even more impressive, she still runs the entire company from her kitchen table. Julie’s 35 remote online teachers work from all over the world; some teaching one or two classes a semester; others three to six classes a week. “We’re a woman-owned business that employs almost exclusively women,” she says. “Our biggest growth edge, though, is to hire more diversity, as we are proud to now reach all students—Jews, Muslims, Christians, LGBTQ+ and atheists among them. I’m also really proud of the fact that the business is female led and female run.”
During the pandemic, Julie decided to reward the membership community she began seven years ago called Brave Learner Home. Members who had paid $198.00 a year in the past, she offered, would be able to access this support community for free, as long as they spent $198.00 or more on one of Brave Writer’s classes or programs. The offer was counterintuitive to most other business models, but for Brave Writers, it was a move that doubled the company’s business during a pandemic where many companies struggled or even closed. “I said, ‘let’s make membership a benefit of buying our program,’” she theorized. “It incentivized all these people to buy our program because they wanted to be members who could use the forums for support.”
Members also began to receive advanced registration to competitive classes that are often sold out from just the community members. Members receive so much value that they are really invested to be all the way in.
In the post-COVID world, Julie is now conjecturing how to sustain this momentum as children return to school. Clearly, parents will continue to benefit from community chats about everything from how to get your child to do homework to navigating kids through a divorce or addressing child suicide or sibling rivalry, supporting teaching math and much more.
“I can feel the change happening,” notes Julie, “as the effects of schooling during COVID are going away and knowing our membership offer is not brand-new anymore. We need to rethink our market strategy. I’m not worried about it because I know how much we grew last year and how tired my team is!”
Julie’s theology background gives her pause to enjoy that she is helping parents, students and teachers be their best selves, and her world religion background—together with the history lessons she’s learned—continue to have an enormous impact on her own development as a person, educator and parent.
Meanwhile, Julie’s new book “Raising Critical Thinkers,” debuting in February 2022, expands her literary world to all parents versus just homeschoolers. It’s particularly oriented toward raising kids in the digital space, including teaching your kids to identify and assess misinformation on the Internet.
This depth of perspective is yet another reason why it’s hard to believe that Julie has never been on a job interview, nor ever worked in a company. “I went from homemaker to freelancer to CEO,” quips Julie, who says her 83-year-old “phenomenal” mom and author of 70 books herself is her inspiration. “I marvel at my ability and self-confidence to take risks,” she says. “I had a fortunate upbringing where my mom, who’s also an author who raised her kids after her divorce and taught me to write, has supported me at every turn.”
And then there are the lessons from NAWBO; the organization she stumbled upon in 2011 while searching for venues where her favorite personality Elizabeth Gilbert was speaking next. “When I came to hear her speak and experienced this organization,” she says, “I came to realize NAWBO was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself…ever.”