So, you may not know this, but the first paid online course launch I ever did (about 2.5 years ago) was to an email list of only 71 people. For a total of $1350. And some recurring revenue of about $1000 per month after that. And guess what? I ran exactly zero high-pressure webinars (or webinars at all) for my launch, and I sent zero pesky emails, just emails filled with value and information.
It was a crazy time. In which I had no idea what I was doing, but I desperately wanted to get my valuable, organized information out to more people at once—more people than I was able to reach through 1-on-1 coaching and small in-person workshops.
“But, what’s up on this case study though?” You may be wondering.
It’s funny. I was having a conversation with one of my best friends not too long ago—a friend who was definitely around me all the time when I was launching this first product—and they had absolutely, 100%, no idea that my email list had only 71 people on it when I first released this course. And then, they told me it actually inspired them a ton.
That meant so much to me. And also made me realize that the few Periscope broadcasts I’ve shared this in before are not enough to really help and (hopefully) inspire others. I knew I had to make a case study out of it.
And so I did. I made two versions even. A shorter one that you can consume as a podcast and cheat sheet and a longer one that you will be able to watch as a workshop in the near future. For now, may I please introduce you to the audio version.
You can catch it as a podcast episode here (it’s even downloadable). And you can download the accompanying cheat sheet here. Or, you can read below for some of what I cover in a Q+A style. It’s not the whole episode and all the tips, but if you’re short on time or only want to read, the cheat sheet or summary below is for you.
So, some of the main highlights of what I cover are in this episode are:
- What it means to “scale” a product. (Hint: Scalability does not mean passive income.)
- How I built my (super small) audience before my launch.
- How I decided on the topic of my first course.
- What exactly my first course consisted of.
- How much (if any) money I had to spend to make the course.
- How I picked the price for my first course.
- How long the course took to make and if it was finished when I launched. (Hint: No. It wasn’t.)
- How I promoted the course and which promotion efforts gave the best results.
- How much (net) money the course brought in.
- What % of my total list purchased.
- What I did after my launch.
- And more.
As I’ve been creating some new secret brands and helping both clients and friends build more clarity and profitability into their businesses and websites, I’ve noticed something major. It’s HARD to find good WordPress themes for infopreneurs.
As someone creating valuable content and selling your knowledge as information products, it’s extremely important to have a website that is attractive, functional, and organized in a way that helps direct your audience to what you need. And if you’re like me, in love with WordPress and all its capabilities (not that I don’t frequently build Squarespace sites too), then you may be lost on what themes best suit your needs.
And I wouldn’t be a proper co-host of #InfopreneurMonth (P.S. it’s free; check it out and register here) without putting together a list of amazing themes that you can use for your information business.
Hey, did I mention that it’s #InfopreneurMonth?
Okay, now that we know all about the exciting content of this month, let me introduce you to my 10 favorite themes for infopreneurs . . . all available for under $50 from Creative Market . . . one of my favorite sites to get business goods from.
I love the intelligent design of Wildfire. It brings in the popular trend to highlight one main call to action (CTA) at the top of your site with a large hero image, but it also allows you to highlight other content and resources quite nicely on the home page (in the 3 boxes below the hero image).
As an infopreneur, you could use the top CTA to direct people to your newest, best free resource that serves as an opt-in for your email list. Perhaps it could be something like:
Oh, hey there. Regina here. Talking about one of the most exciting (to me) forms of content ever. Ever, ever.
Like, my friends, and other epic people that I belong to online communities with, all know that this is the type of content that currently makes my world go ’round. I mean, basically.
The lovely Tors even said this:
And here’s the deal. There are a few super valid reasons to start with workshops if you want to get into info products, or build your email list, or create content that you can re-package as an opt-in or bonus, or show yourself as a coach or expert on a topic you’re passionate about. Tons of epic reasons.
Like, 8, to be specific.
Hosting workshops . . .
1. Helps people start to see you as a teacher and an expert in your niche. A great workshop topic, attractive graphics to support your event, a simple signup process, and a helpful agenda/worksheet to go along with it and you will seem professional, experienced, and amazing.
This impression goes a long way whether you’re providing services, trying to line up speaking opportunities, or creating information products, membership programs, or coaching/mastermind groups.
2. Causes you to create actionable worksheets, tips, and content so that you can see if you even have enough material, information, etc. to create a full course/program out of your topic, or if it might be better as a book, or if it should be a one-on-one service, or be left alone as a workshop, or abandoned completely, or done as a collaboration, or made into a group program, etc.
3. Gives you tons of packaging options. You can use your workshop as a free opt-in event conducted live, a free opt-in conducted live and then packaged as an evergreen opt-in or product bonus, a free opt-in conducted live and then sold afterward, or a paid product . . . among other options.
4. Allows you to test out EVERYTHING. It would be horrible to waste time (or money) developing something as intense as a course or book that turns out to not actually work for you or your audience. Developing worksheets, slides, and a script or bullet points of info for your workshop will help you figure out if the content works for you, of course, but actually presenting the information to your audience will allow you to get a real understanding of how it works for them. Was it too long? Too short? Too hard? Too confusing? Just right? Etc.
5. Helps you create a larger product or series as you go. Instead of planning one major resource (think course, online school, etc.) and leaving it looming over you, you’re able to plan it and create small sections/modules of it as workshops. #Brilliant
6. Gives you an additional price point to serve your audience with, as well as a different level of intensity/urgency of information—many times, a workshop will be more actionable and comprehensive than a blog post, eBook, or other type of resource.
Serving your audience at varying levels of need (amount of information, price, learning style, etc.) is a way to show you care and to impress your ideal people.
I’m a woman of (what some would call) many “contradictions.” I love Drake, but I also love Frank Sinatra. I listen to Louis Armstrong, but I also need Snow Patrol some days. I watch all the action movies. Ever. But 80% of my movies are pre-1950s. I’d love to spend a Sunday completely immersed in NFL games, but I also cry at cheesy rom coms (or “chick flicks” if you must). I’m weird to say the least.
BUT. When an artist comes along and speaks my business language and drops hidden gems of clarity for us to learn from, I feel it as my duty to share. So without further examples of how weird I am, let’s get into these 14 Drake lyrics that will help you kill it in business and in life.
Oh, and if you don’t know who Drake is. THIS.
Let’s start with 5 quotes to get your mindset right.
1. It ain’t about who did it first, it’s ’bout who did it right.
Lyric: Wu-Tang Forever (song), Nothing Was the Same (album)
So your market is “saturated” and you don’t see where you can possibly fit in. You see someone doing what you want to do and they’re already doing a really good job of it. Uh huh. I feel you.
But I guess Drake never should have started rapping then. I mean. Jay Z. Diddy (Does he rap still? I don’t even know which name we’re supposed to be calling him this year, so I definitely don’t know if he still makes music.). Etc.
I shouldn’t have started blogging either, by this logic. Neither should my favorite blogger, Erika Madden, I guess. But here’s the thing about that.
It really is not about who did it first, it’s about who does it right.
Do you have perspective to add? Do you have voice to add? Do you have lives to change? Can you put in the work? Are you willing to do it right?
Then do it.
2. She look like a star, but only on camera. Only on camera.
Lyrics: Cameras (song), Take Care (album)
I know. I know. He/she looks like they know EVERYTHING. Their Instagram is a collection of the most perfect images ever made. They publish income reports with income of $50K per month and only $323.47 in expenses. And then you figure you must be doing everything wrong. Clearly it’s easy and you’re just not able to get it. What’s wrong with you, eh?
Incorrect. It takes her 1 hour and 52 minutes to set up each of those IG photos, 25 minutes to shoot, and 17.4 minutes to edit each one. And by the way. Her desk never actually looks that clean. And by the by, she fell on her face millions of times before she made $50K per month. That, and, can you actually verify these stories?
There’s no benefit in comparing your status to what other people look like on camera. To what other people carefully select to show you. No benefit.
She look like a star, but only on camera . . . only on camera.
3. You should just be yourself. Right now, you’re someone else.
Lyrics: Hotline Bling (song), Views From the 6 (album)
Seriously. If you want to build a sustainable business that brings you joy for the long run, you should build something based on who you are. I even did a whole scope about this. Because, you know those times when you make money doing something that’s not true to you? Remember how fun that is?
Not at all. Not at all fun is the answer.
When you build a business based on who you think people want you to be, or who you’re peeping online right now and unintentionally copying . . . it’s just not real. And it’s just not fun.
And if it’s not you, you’ll eventually run out of content.
Truth be told. The first, and second, and every time I’ve published an eCourse, I’ve done something “wrong.” Considering that the whole concept of making money from online courses as independent publishers is incredibly new in the grand scheme of things (we haven’t been doing it for 50+ years like many other forms of business), this is not too surprising.
When I started, I had less than zero idea what I was doing. I picked a random timeframe (90 days), and a topic I was passionate about (establishing a blog—because I did WordPress for a living at the time), outlined each day, and published a signup blog post. << This first course was a free one by the way. One that I did not even finish. #Shame
Even still, it was valuable to the people that stuck with it, and it became the core substance for a course that would later help me make an unexpected six figures. I don’t say that to be flashy; I say that to encourage you because I still had no idea what I was doing when I released even that course.
But here’s the thing. Releasing courses, learning how to create content that helps, figuring out how to sell your materials . . . it all gets more organized and efficient as you go. Things start to make sense. Things start to flow. You start to see patterns. You become more epic at it. I truly believe we will never become “perfect” at releasing courses or other information products, but we can certainly figure out what works well and set ourselves up to learn more as we go.
So my friend, I’m going to sum up the steps of course creation in a framework I haven’t seen presented before. Mainly because I had to learn this as I went and because I don’t read other posts on courses—not because I’m the only legitimate resource (ha!), but because I want to share what has worked from my experience and from the plans I’ve been able to help others put in place. This is not information I read from someone else’s book some 2.3 years ago. This is stuff I believe in, and I hope it helps you create an online course that delights your audience, matters in the marketplace, and sells well.
One of the wisest things you can do for your course from the jump is to plan its position in your market, in your audience’s lives, in your brand, and yeah . . . I’m about to repeat myself, in your market.
Seriously. Even if it’s a free course, it needs a position.
Think about it, on a basketball team, there’s a point guard, but there’s also a post player and a wing. Somebody has to direct traffic, somebody has to take and make those 3-point shots, etc. Okay. Actually. I don’t jack about basketball, so if that’s incorrect, just smile and nod and give me a virtual pat on the head for trying.
But the point remains. The coach doesn’t need to and doesn’t want to put five point guards on the court at the same time. Can we say disaster?
So, if within your industry/niche, there are already 17 metaphorical point guards with similar skills, all playing—why turn out a point guard? And if you do decide to make a point guard (figuratively speaking, here), how will you position said player (your course) to be distinguishable and desirable outside of the 17 that already exist?
Figure out your course’s position first. It will help you know how to frame it for your audience, what to build into it, how to price it, and what you need to produce in order to make it epic.
And yes my infopreneurial friend, I do have a 2-day workshop and crazy cool workbook for you on creating courses from scratch—in case you want to go deeper into framing and positioning. Let’s move on to the next step.
GET MY FREE 4-HOUR TRAINING,
46-PAGE WORKBOOK + WEEKLY BUSINESS NOTES