by Cory Hott January 25, 2024
As a relationship coach focused on helping gay men thrive, Amari Ice now enjoys a flexible lifestyle that allows him to choose his work hours, where he works, and how much money he makes in a year. But his venture into the world of career freedom didn’t start out this way.
Less than a decade ago, Amari worked as a program manager focused on sexual health, HIV and STD transmission, and empowering Black, gay men. He loved the actual work, but it wasn’t long until he grew dissatisfied of working within the local hospital system.
“I got my first job working in a nonprofit, and I learned very quickly that nonprofits don’t pay,” Amari recalled with a smile. Despite coming from a family of entrepreneurs, he never imagined he would become one himself. He knew, however, that he needed a job that paid more, yet still aligned with his passion. He knew he needed to develop business skills to open up more opportunities. This led him to pursue an MBA in marketing while still working for the nonprofit.
But an even bigger dream was brewing.
From Nonprofit to Relationship Coach
Amari had previously started a nonprofit with his friends and helped his mom expand her cleaning company by focusing on marketing and business development. In the end, however, neither was enough to replace his full-time job.
“First I had the nonprofit, which was heart work, but there was no money. And then there was the cleaning company, which was money but no heart. I had to do something that I love, but that also makes money.”
What I thought was, “The money comes, and then I calm down. What I learned is that you calm down, and then the money comes.”
Reflecting on his time at the nonprofit, he realized the common denominator across all verticals was his people skills. It was his natural talent for bringing people together romantically that excited him. In his personal life, he had successfully matched several friends and acquaintances into happy relationships. At the nonprofit, he often found himself in the role of coach.
His job often included hosting weekly events spanning topics from adoption to relationships, astrology to financial health, and everything in between. The issue, however, was that the nonprofit’s clientele showed up for their weekly events, yet few showed up for the core services of the hospital: STD testing and treatment, leaving Amari to couple his events with those services.
“As part of my job, I was already coaching,” Amari explained. “When you’re coaching LGBTQ people, a lot of what’s gonna come up is about relationships, right? And so, I liked to give people resources because we often don’t remember everything from a coaching session.”
A Lack of Gay Relationship Coaching Leads to a Niche
But when he went looking for books on relationships, the results yielded few options he felt were good fits for the nonprofit’s clientele.
“Of course there are thousands of books on relationships, generally in straight relationships,” he said. “And then I found maybe twenty that were written on gay relationships. But none were written specifically for or by a Black gay man.”
Sensing a need, Amari first considered simply creating a free resource to give his relationship coaching clients. But in a serendipitous moment, a grander vision emerged.
“I was like, ‘Okay, well, maybe I’ll just put a resource together,’” he said. “I wrote my initial book plan on the back of a postcard.”
On that postcard, he outlined his goal of writing a relationship guide for gay men that would hit the bestseller lists within months of publishing. Ambitious? Absolutely. But possible? That remained to be seen.
“I thought, it needs to be short deadlines,” he said. “This was in December of 2016. I wrote that I wanted my manuscript to be complete on April 1st of 2017. So I gave myself what, five months? So April 1st, and then I’ll publish the manuscript by May 1st. Of course, I didn’t know anything about it.”
The Book Writing Process
Originally planning to write two chapters a week, he imagined the book hitting the bestseller lists within the first six months, and selling thousands of copies before it was released. He planned the different LGBTQ media outlets he’d connect with, a national tour of other empowerment projects across the country, and more, all on the back of this little postcard, with a working book title up top: The Gay and Lesbian Guide to Relationships.
He saw the book project as the perfect outlet for his innate relationship coaching skills. “I was already doing the work,” Amari said. “I just wasn’t charging people for it.”
The very next day, as if the universe was providing a nudge, Amari stumbled upon a Facebook ad for Difference Press’s program to help coaches write a manuscript in nine weeks, aligning even better with the goal he had just set.
“I didn’t apply right away because I didn’t know how much it cost. I’m probably not making enough for this. So I did some research for a few months, and I finally applied in February.”
The exact date was February 7. Difference Press accepted his application shortly after, and although he didn’t meet his original goal of having a manuscript done by April 1st, he did have it completed by April 30th.
Working with Difference Press gave him the structure he needed to overcome his tendency to procrastinate. “I love to learn, but I hate homework,” Amari admitted with a laugh. The process encouraged accountability. “The reason I wanted to hire a book coach was because I knew that if I did it by myself, I was probably not gonna get it done.”
The result: Lasting Love At Last: The Gay Guide to Relationships. Although the book never hit the New York Times bestseller list, it did become an Amazon bestseller.
Mere weeks after publication, Amari took a leap of faith, leaving his steady hospital job to launch his own relationship coaching business for gay men full-time.
That first year in business was a rollercoaster ride, full of unpredictable income and uncertainty. At times, self-doubt crept in. But results with clients kept him motivated.
“It took a while for me to get to a place in myself where I felt emotionally stable,” he shared honestly. Through trial and error, Amari learned an important lesson about attracting money versus calm. As he put it, “What I thought was, The money comes, and then I calm down. What I learned is that you calm down, and then the money comes.”
From Passion to Profit
Now, years into his entrepreneurial journey, Amari’s business is thriving. His schedule is flexible, with plenty of time for self-care and no morning alarm buzzing. He cherry-picked the lifestyle elements most meaningful to him, like monthly trips, minimal work hours, and total location flexibility.
“I get to travel when I wanna travel, eat what I wanna eat, wake up when I wanna wake up, sleep when I wanna sleep,” he said contently. “I work with a handful of clients a month and I’m making a huge difference in the world by just being myself.”
Revenue grew quickly thanks to speaking opportunities, events, and conversations catalyzed by his bestselling author status.
“It developed so many opportunities just from the conversation of being of people being interested and curious about what you do,” he said. As a published expert, he found it much easier to grab people’s attention and trust.
Now a prominent relationship coach in the LGBTQ community, Amari gets to pick and choose fun speaking gigs at events across the country and beyond.
“I’m speaking at Chicago’s Pride, Pacific Northwest Pride, DC, Atlanta,” he rattled off excitedly. International keynotes are now on the calendar too, with engagements booked in London.
For Amari, the book provided credibility that allowed him to charge for the innate skills he possessed all along. Writing Lasting Love At Last with Difference Press gave him the mindset shifts and marketing formula to turn his purpose into a profitable relationship coaching business that allows him to do what he loves.
His advice to others considering writing a book is to understand you don’t need to have everything mapped out or finalized.
“Wherever you are right now is fine,” Amari emphasized. “The process is designed, even if you haven’t written a single page yet.”
All you need is the initial idea. The rest will flow.
Amari is now living proof that writing a book with the right support can help launch a life-changing business doing work straight from the heart.
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