In this episode:
01:50 – Who’s your best customer?
05:49 – Creating a product for yourself
08:20 – Choosing your space
09:57 – The danger of being a pioneer
11:59 – How to validate your idea
16:50 – What a course feeds
18:32 – More on the back end
21:58 – Do something that is going to sell
24:56 – Two big tips
26:17 – Wrapping up
James: James Schramko here. Welcome back to SuperFastBusiness.com. This is Episode 619 – Which Online Courses Will You Create in 2019? Today, I brought along my special guest, John Lint. Welcome back.
John: Hey, everybody. Nice to be back. Thanks for having me, James.
James: John, I’m enjoying doing this Membership Series with you because we are covering some really great topics. Some of the things we’ve talked about have really only ever been discussed behind closed doors, and certainly not freely available online up until the series, and that’s because we’ve been working away behind the scenes. I’ve been working inside SuperFastBusiness membership. You have been helping members of 10XPRO.io software, which is your baby, and you’ve been growing that and it’s turned into quite the machine.
So today, we’re going to tackle this subject of which online courses will you create in 2019, because it’s a great time to create a course, because the platform has never made it easier. And with some of the ideas we’re talking about in this podcast series, we’re actually getting some usable information. So get out the notepad, grab a coffee, this episode is going to be punchy. And we’re going to cover a few things you might want to do, especially in that research phase, which is probably the most critical phase before you go launching that course. You ready?
John: Yeah, ready. Let’s do it.
Who’s your best customer?
James: So something I look at is who is your best customer. And often that best customer in the past many times has been me. I’ve been the one going through the research phase. I’ve been the one pulling out the credit card. I’ve been the one buying things and joining memberships and getting courses. And as I did that, I became quite the expert in what things were good and what things were not good.
And I remember one of the first successes that I had online was being an affiliate for some software, and I created the guide, or the cheat sheet, as it was called back then, that really helped people who bought that software get so much more from the software. And I did that by collecting all the information I could using actual data from my own research and tests and then putting it and compiling it into this manual that grew bigger, that I eventually put into a membership. Or you could call it a course. It doesn’t really matter.
At the time, it was a one-time membership. So you could buy the XSitePro cheat sheet, as it was called back then, and it gave you this one-time access to my course. And it was where I learned all my valuable skills. That’s where I first learned how to run webinars. It’s where I first learned how to put together a PDF document with hyperlinks. It’s where I first did all my copywriting. I learned about back end to making money from the customers who bought the course, and I think we should definitely cover that today.
We’re going to cover what else can your course feed, because I think it puts a very strong reason why you might want to do this. So who’s your best customer? It might be you. Or maybe you’ve already got customers who are buying things from you right now. And it wouldn’t even matter what business you are, whether you’re a pest controller, whether you sell research papers, whether you write articles, whether you’re a copywriter, whether you have some kind of service, maybe you’re an accountant or lawyer. I’m willing to bet there’s a course that would be helpful for your customers to get better results, to improve their situation.
I’m wondering if you’ve got any ideas too, John, on who’s your best customer?
John: Yeah, I mean, your example was great, because you took some steps and you were using that software and you experienced some pains, some of the struggles, some of the frustrations, right? So that’s why you created that guide and you thought, hey, that’s going to help other people, because if I’m struggling with that, then surely other people might be struggling with that too.
So that’s how you kind of discover those topics, or the topic for your course. And that’s something super important to remember. Whenever you want to create an online course, as an information publisher, the main thing to always remember is that we’re not here to write an encyclopedia of steps or information. We’re not selling information. We’re selling transformation and to be able to help someone transform himself, get a specific result, we need to find out what are they struggling with, right? When we’re talking about doing research for a topic of an online course, that’s really, really important.
So what are they struggling with? What are their problems? What can I help them with? What kind of result can I help them get? And more importantly, as well, what is the shortcut to getting that result? How can I package my knowledge, my information into an awesome course that is going to help them get the result they want, but as fast as possible, right? We talk about the magic pill sometimes. Well, you know, obviously, magic pills don’t exist. But if we can try to have the shortest path to victory, then that is going to be usually a course that will sell, a course that your audience will want to buy from you. So discovering problems and frustrations is very, very important.
James: You may have the first tweetable from this episode – you’re not selling information, you’re selling transformation. I like that one, John. And I will say a course is much easier to sell than a membership. We’ve covered this before, but if you could just put together your first course, even if it’s just a validation thing, even if it’s a low price point, (doesn’t have to be a low price point, by the way, it’s probably just as easy to sell a high-ticket course as it is to sell a low-ticket course) what we’re really looking for is to establish that there is a market, there are buyers.
Creating a product for yourself
And one way to do that, of course, is what have we been spending our money on? And for me, when I was an affiliate, I realized that I should probably be promoting recurring income solutions. And I started joining other people’s memberships that had affiliate programs, and I observed what was going on. One of my beefs with one membership was that the people who sold the membership never ever showed up. I thought that was crazy. They sold this membership, and the whole idea was access to them, and then they’re not there.
There was another membership I joined, and I noticed a trend about this membership. I don’t know how to say this kindly, but they kind of had low expectations. It was like they were a low-altitude club. It was a reasonably cheap membership, but they had these low-cost mindsets, and I could see that being a part of this membership was going to hold me back. It was like clipping my wings. It’s like they wanted to bring their troubles and make everyone else responsible for their failure. So it was like a losers’ club in a way. And I thought, that’s no good, We need some something inspirational, and we need to have high achievement, great results.
So if you look at some of the things I offer in my own solution, now, one is that I turn up, and the other one is that we have a minimum criteria for someone to be in there. And we’ve ended up having a community where three quarters of them are making six figures or more, which is, you know, really great, it’s good to fly with other eagles. So I picked that up by doing my research. I answered the question, Who else is in this space? And what are they offering? How much do they charge? How did they deliver this?
Now, the same is true for courses. I’ve bought plenty of courses over the years, I’ve built plenty of courses, and I’m always open to the idea that there will be a new way, a better way to package information, to help someone get a result, that will be easy for them to consume, that they’ll be able to implement it and that it’s going to do what no course has done in the past. So there’s always the chance of improving.
And what I’d like to see in the market is a selection of courses. It shows the market, it proves visibility of this market. Because those people with those courses have your customer, and now you could actually get in front of that customer, either as an affiliate or doing a joint venture, or these days, it’s much easier just to target those customers, whether it’s through social media audiences with paid traffic, whether it’s creating a message that really appeals to that audience and dangling it in front of them with the constant repetition of videos and podcasts.
“Most buyers don’t just buy one course.”
Choosing your space
And what I like to think is that most buyers don’t just buy one course. Most people, in our space, especially, are buying multiple courses because their problem doesn’t just go away. A business owner’s problem in my space is going to want to keep improving their business, they’ll keep wanting to make more, they’ll keep wanting to work less. Unless there is a selection out there that actually really, for some reason, love working crazy hours. That’s their badge of honor. But I’m not going to go there – I’ve dedicated a lot of attention to that in the past. But there’ll always be people who want to improve their business, and that’s why in my space, the business course market, that’s a really good place to be, because people will justify their purchase to improve their business and it’s also probably a tax-deductible purchase. So that’s one space.
There’s also the other space of the hobby interest market. There’s plenty of products out there for people who are very passionate about their chosen sport. So if you have a garage full of sports paraphernalia, if you have every fishing rod, reel, bait and tackle and a boat and an engine and life jackets to go with it, maybe there’s a course on that. I have a friend who sells a course, or an information product (or whatever you want to call it), on how to maintain the battery in your golf cart. That’s just one example of how niche you can go.
What I want to see is, I want to see that there’s a bunch of courses out there on similar topics that you can come along and educate yourself about or hire people to create content for you and to go into that market but with a better offer.
“You never want to be a pioneer.”
The danger of being a pioneer
John: Yeah, yeah. And this is super important. You never want to be a pioneer, actually, right? You’d never be on want to be the first one in a new market and just say, OK, well, I’m going to try to do a course about this. Look at that. There’s nobody selling a course about this topic. It’s actually a red flag. I mean, unless you’re Apple or Facebook, you have tons of money, and… sure, OK, you’re going to go in there and you’re going to try to dominate that market, fine.
James: But if even on that, John, look at Yahoo. They’ve made some terrible moves and they’re now not worth what they were before, and they were the big dog. Look at Myspace. Look at Netscape. Some of the big ones out there have gone in early. I mean, we’ve been seeing this in the big business world. Have a look at a company like Tesla. It’s gone and started a fight with Goliath.
James: You know, it’s throwing stones at his face, it’s been reversed pioneering this electric market. And when the big boys come to town, like the huge job cuts that GM’s just done to now get competing, we’ve got Volvo; we’ve got Volkswagen; we’ve got the big car companies now are going to go all electric. Now they’re going to come in on the market and play, and that’s when the big boys get to take over and we’ll just see what happens to Tesla after that happens.
So being a pioneer, it’s very difficult. And gosh, you know, when I started online 13 years ago, a lot of people didn’t know what Twitter was, and I think Facebook was still fairly early days. And over time, I had to educate people about social media, or how important it would be. These days, everyone’s using it. They’re actually beyond using it, they’re hooked into it.
So there is a market cycle. There’s that early part of the market where you actually have to invest a lot of time and energy to educate people that there’s even a need. And then you go into the early majority, where, you know, people come on board. And then the fattest part of the user curve, is like, between the early majority and the late majority, that’s when it absolutely peaks. That’s the spot you want to be, which means there are already courses in the market where you’re going to be trying to market to, and that’s a good thing.
How to validate your idea
John: Yeah. And you said that word, you know, “validate”. Yeah, you want to validate your ideas and you validate your ideas by answering these questions, are others making money with this topic? Let’s say we’re talking about online courses, OK, are they selling an online course about this topic? If the answer is no, that’s a red flag. You actually want yes. You want other people to be selling online courses about that topic. Why? Because they just validated the market for you. They just told you, hey, looks like there is money to be made in that market. Right?
And then you need to analyze: how long have they been in business? Is this an old website? Are they running ads? Are they building their email list? Great, then you should subscribe to their email list and you should read all their emails. You should visit their sales pages, and you should read all their sales letters and watch their sales videos. Why? Because you’re going to learn a ton. If they are a decent copywriter, they’re going to be targeting the pains that people are experiencing in that market to be able to sell that online course. This is a gold mine. It’s going to tell you exactly what you should do. You know, like what are the pains? What are the hooks that you can use? The words, the power words that they’re using, right?
“If other people are making money, chances are you can, too.”
So validating your idea, seeing that other people are making money, because if they are, then chances are you can, too. Now the trick is that you want to be, obviously, like you mentioned, James, you want to be different, you want to stand out from the crowd. And that can be by having a specific package, by allowing them to get the result faster, in a different way, with your own technique, by adding, obviously, awesome bonuses. Like, some kind of coaching, group coaching, whatever it is, right? You package that solution in your own way, but you got everything started, because you got that validation upfront that removes the risk, basically. It removes the risk, and now you’re not really risking. You know that other people are making money, and you can too. You just need to follow the process.
James: Yes. Put it in a spreadsheet. Put down the the popularity of the site and how big is it, how much do they charge, what are their bullet points on their sales page. And then list down your strengths. What are you good at? What are you special at? What are you actually the best in the world at? Or who can you find who is very good at this, and bring a new angle to it. And that’s how you start to get it.
And if you’re already going to make a product or a course or a membership around your existing customers, I encourage you to score your customers, put them out on a spreadsheet, list down your top customers and figure out what is it that makes a good customer and what problems and pains do they have that you’re solving and how can you get more just like that. Where did they come from? Why did they buy your other products or services? And this is a blueprint to the research phase of setting up your online course.
John: Yeah. And talk to them, right? I mean, that’s the best way, you know? Especially when you’re first releasing your course. You might have a few sales, great. Then really work, really deliver, really help them out, because those guys are going to be the foundation of pretty much your entire business, because you’ll be able to really find out a lot of information by connecting with them. Yeah, it’s going to take some extra time, but it’ll still be worth it. You will know, is your online course good? What was not good? What could you do better? Why did they purchase? All those questions that you just mentioned, you can just, by talking to your customers, you can find that out.
And of course, you want to have awesome testimonials, because down the line that’s what’s going to help you sell it to a broader audience.
James: Yes, and don’t be afraid to manually sell these courses face-to-face, over the phone, assisted sales. Don’t expect to set up your fully-automated online multi-sequential funnel or any of that bollocks. You have to put up your offer page.
James: Or even before, while you’re building your course, while you’re doing your research and mapping out, put up a waiting list. Just put a waiting list. Talk about the pain and how you’re going to solve it, and people could enter the details for them to find out when it’s coming. That allows you to do a little mini-launch. And we talked about this in a prior episode, in The Membership Series. You might want to build up your dam and wait until you have enough interest. But this will help you, and you can publish content on the topics and get a nibble for how it’s going.
I mean, for example, if enough people comment or remark or take action from The Membership Series, that would highly encourage me to put out a membership course and a membership book, because I know there’s a very strong appeal in the marketplace for this particular product. Other people have had $2,000 products that may or may not have delivered the results that people wanted. There’s definitely the buyer of that type of product is going to want to keep buying products on that type of product.
And by all means, buy the other products out in the marketplace. It’s OK to purchase them, to invest. I know a deca-multi-millionaire who still sends off for direct response mail offers that come to his letter box and that are advertised in the newspaper, because he wants to be a student of their process. And remember that not all that money is going to come from the course – and this is a really important one – the reason we might want to do a course is because it’s the start that helps you make sales down the track.
What a course feeds
So we look at, what else does a course feed? Obviously, yeah, it could feed a recurring membership. You could feed a continuity, you could feed that recurring payment element, the one that I’ve been able to achieve, but I have built such a solid wall of content that I can get people into a membership cold from my warm content.
I don’t have a course in between necessarily, but in saying that, I just had a new member join SuperFastBusiness, and he’s been following me since I started online, so we’re talking about 2005 or 2006. And the thing that helped him was the book. So if you don’t have a book, I would recommend getting a book, because a book is a great conversion tool. If you have a book, make a course around the same topic as the book. And I plan on publishing books and courses around the same topic, ongoing.
Someone asked me today inside SuperFastBusiness membership, if I were to start again today, what would I do? And my answer is, I always pretend that I’m starting again from today. So what you see me doing now is what I would do if I were starting from today. I am amassing my ideas and intellectual property into the most organized notes possible that will turn into books and courses and feed my membership. And they also feed the other kinds of deals that I do in the background, which I might have talked about. And certainly inside SuperFastBusiness membership, I’ve given away that blueprint for revenue share deals but I don’t think I’ve podcast about that. I am speaking about it at SuperFastBusiness Live 2019. I’ve invited one of my students, Charley Valher, to come and reveal the model that I’ve been coaching him on. But it leads to these things.
More on the back end
So the back end things are numerous. Let’s cover a couple of them.
One, we’ve already covered, the continuity relationship. The other one we’ve talked about is business relationships and partnerships. I’ve actually formed fantastic business relationships with some of my very best customers. I didn’t start as friends, I’ve started as business relationship, and then they’ve become friends. And I just want to talk about this for a moment.
When I’ve witnessed massive partnership bust-ups, often I can trace the cause back to where people were friends and then they decided to go into business. And that can be deathly for a business partnership. I found the better way to do it is to have a business relationship first, and then become friends. And that creates magic for the partnership. Actually, I’d put you and I in this bucket, John.
John: Yeah, I think so.
James: You know, I didn’t really know you when we turned up to the Maldives a few years back.
James: We’ve stayed in touch and been on repeat visits, and we’ve done some business ventures and this joint podcast together. And I’ve really enjoyed developing that friendship. Now we’re texting back and forth when the Pipeline Masters is on, talking about surfing maneuvers. So you know, it’s a great way to set things up. So you might actually end up with business relationships that could have profitable ventures.
You can also run live events, and the people who have bought your course are very likely to buy a ticket to a live event. You can publish books, because people who have bought a course will buy any book you publish, I guarantee it. You just drop that book out there, they will be the first people to buy it. Same for DVDs or any kind of rich media that you want to deliver to someone’s house. The people who have bought your course will get that. In fact, a lot of people bundle a live event into a course, have you noticed that, John?
John: Yeah, yeah, totally. As a bonus, you know, that’s the usual strategy, especially on high-ticket items, but you can do it as long as it works for you. And yeah, that’s usually a bonus, where you get two tickets to the live events, something like that. And also, you can also bundle it with group coaching. And that’s also something that you can sell on the back end of a course, it can be ongoing group coaching, or it can be ongoing one-on-one coaching at a higher price.
It can also be done-for-you services, right? If the course teaches them something, well, maybe they want a faster result by maybe hiring your company, that allows them to get that result faster and you do the work for them, if that is your model, if you’re doing some type of agency type of service, right?
So really, it’s about building an asset. You’re not just creating a course, you’re not just publishing information, you’re building an asset that you can then really leverage in multiple ways, like we just talked about – membership, continuity, live events, coaching, all of that stuff.
And you can use it in multiple ways. You can use it to attract partners so they can get a commission when they sell access to it. So now, you’re getting free traffic and you’re getting sales because other people are promoting your course. But you can also give it away to key select partners. Why? Well maybe because you’re just starting out and you want to build your email list super fast. Well, that’s something that I used to do way back, you know, in 2007. That’s how I exploded my list when I was entering some markets. So you can create a course, you can offer it to a partner and say, yeah, just give it as a bonus, because they just purchased your your course. And then now you’re getting basically a list of buyers.
So you can do it multiple ways, but the important thing is to do it and to do something that is going to sell. And you know it’s going to sell when you are providing a specific result that they want, right?
James: Yeah, you know, I’ll back you up on that. When I sold Traffic Grab, that course, two and a half thousand copies, it really fueled our SEO service. We had a lot of people buying SEO because they did the course, they loved it, and they wanted more, but they didn’t want to do the work. Because it was a bit of work to do. So if you’re in a market where you provide a service, then it will be great to create a course that teaches people how to do at least the lite version of it themselves. So A, you’ve got something to downsell from your service if someone doesn’t want to buy your service. And B, you’ve got a pathway that you can bring people into your service.
And whenever you have a course, it’s worth putting a few bonus modules for your other courses. It’s like you’ve got the captive member there and you’ve got them… I bought a program from a guru recently, (again, I’m just seeing what they’re up to) and after the painstaking, grueling upsell hell and not getting delivered the product, and having to go through support, what happened was, I got the one product that I bought was in there, and then there was four videos and the three other videos were all upsells for some other program. They were like previews. So they were maximizing that real estate, there was like three quarters of the membership area was dedicated to the other courses that I hadn’t purchased. So there was a little bit of technology being involved there.
“Having a list of course buyers is probably the ultimate database.”
Of course, other things – if you ever do another podcast, you could seed that from your course buyers. Having a list of course buyers is probably the ultimate database. And I only focused on buyers. This might sound crazy, but I never even captured email addresses from my website. In the very beginning, all I captured was people who purchased the product and claimed from me, and that meant they just spent $198. And that was my first database, was people who had spent $198, and I only needed 100 of those people to to build out my empire. My first thousand people, you know, was a solid income. Because those people had other future needs, as I discovered, and I was able to create the rest of my information business around that and my service business. We ended up building websites and all sorts of crazy stuff.
John: Yeah. Well after that, it becomes just a matter of listening to what they want, right? Listening to what they’re saying. And from that, you get a ton of ideas. And actually, that’s what I like to do. If you have an online course, great. And then start engaging with your current customers and see what else they want. And you might hear, Yeah, you know, the course is awesome, but I’m a little bit busy and is there…? I get this question all the time. With 10XPRO, we give all the tools, we have awesome training, all of that. But a section of our members, they want an even faster solution. They are actually looking for services. “Hey, do you know someone who can help me do everything?” OK, so that will give you an idea of the different things that you can just add. And you can then basically decide what is it that you want to do with all the ideas that we just gave you.
Two big tips
James: And that’s more or less what I did. I created the perfect course for people who bought this software that wasn’t my software. So this is really the big idea: have a look at what services are out there, what software is out there that you could create a course that goes really well with that service or software. You don’t have to be the official owner. Be careful about trademarks – don’t go and buy a domain name with their trademark name in it, even if they give you permission, because they’ll probably revert later and this is a very dangerous place to build. So that’s my tip there.
“A customer is worth more to you than a stranger.”
My second big tip is, once you’ve got the customer and you have built a course, offer those people a loyalty coupon on your future courses and your future memberships, because they are worth more to you than a stranger. And they deserve more of a reward than a stranger. It’s like when I run a live event, my members get the first release of tickets at the lowest price, because they’re my customers. Even though they would actually pay more than the general public, because they’re my diehard fans. I give them the lowest end earliest price option, because I love them and I want to look after them. I want to do the opposite of every bank and telephone company and insurance company on the planet who rips off their customers and gives better deals to complete strangers. And I think that sucks.
What an episode. Wow! We’ve talked about the research phase… And I just want to point this out, you know, I never had to go to eBay or Amazon or the bookstore and look for what Dummies books are available and and go into hardcore research mode to figure out what to sell, because I was starting off with my own problems. And once you get a few customers and you listen to them – which you said, John, and it’s just a fabulous point – they will tell you, they’ll ask you. How can I do this or do you know how to do that? Or, where can I get such and such?
If you want to build relationships, you will have enough ideas to build courses forever and ever. I mean, the reason we’re talking about this topic, and the reason I’ll probably publish a course around memberships, is because I get asked this every single day and I’ve been doing it now for a decade. So I have become a source of information, as you have now with the software that actually makes it easy to create your online course, to create your membership with a few clicks of a button. Pick a nice domain name and put up your offer page, or even just put up your waiting list and you are away, and you’re off to the races with your own race track.
And I think it’s been a wonderful episode. And by the way, if you’ve got suggestions or ideas for future topics that you’d like John and I to discuss on The Membership Series, please comment right near this episode. This is Episode 619. We do read the comments, we do answer the questions in our podcast. We certainly look at the iTunes ratings as well. If you leave a review and you talk about it, you know where to find us. And of course, you can reply to any of my emails, so I do read every email that my team broadcast.
James: John, thanks for coming and sharing again.
John: Thank you for having me. It was awesome as always.
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