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.
Oh man. Listen. I 100% believe what I’m about to say and it IS big. I’m not even necessarily being the overly dramatic version of myself that I normally am.
Here it is.
There are six distinct blogger career paths, which if you understand and work on, can absolutely change your world.
I’ve been down each one of these paths in the past, and it is time to share them . . . and to change the careers that we consider, pursue, and build for ourselves.
P.S. Everything below and more is available as a podcast episode. And here is the flowchart I reference and show.
For years, and years, and years society has been quick to teach us the traditional career paths of lawyers, and teachers, and plumbers, and even professional basketball players. We know which schools we need to go to, which judge to get an internship with, how to get certified during night school, which recruiters and game stats we should shoot for, etc.
We know that once we become a lawyer, we can look forward to either practicing law at a major firm and trying to make partner, or starting our own firm, or teaching law, or working as a public defender, or working for a major corporation as an attorney, or doing pro bono, or advising a non-profit, or getting into politics and perhaps running for president of our country one day.
But, what about career paths for bloggers? For content creators? For some of these positions and interests that are popping up, making money, and sticking around?
Just as becoming a lawyer doesn’t guarantee you money or clients, but it does provide many paths to monetize (explained above) and many specialties to focus on (family law, corporate issues, intellectual property, taxes, tort law, etc.) and is thus considered a legitimate career . . .
becoming a blogger doesn’t guarantee income or fame, but it does provide many paths (explained below and in the podcast episode) and practically endless specialties to focus on (food, business, travel, crafts, fitness, accounting, fashion, etc.) that make money and should thus be considered a legitimate career.
I hope they start teaching it in schools everywhere soon. But until then, may I please present my shiny new Blogger Career Paths flowchart with some explanations and notes (if you’re taking them) that I hope will blow your mind? Okay. Let’s get started.
The first thing to understand is what is happening in any career path, anywhere, at any time, on any day. You are learning something new in one of two ways. You are either:
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.
A few days ago I was in Baltimore speaking at an epically useful conference called Blogalicious. So many amazing people were there, it’s almost unfair. And I promise, this post will be about how to create info products, but please just let me share what got me here.
Two of my favorite people (okay, that’s cheating, they’re my sisters) also spoke at Blogalicious. We all attended each other’s seminars and had an amazing time. Check out Mattie of Mattieologie.com in the middle picture below on the left, and Maya of MayaElious.com on the right.
At the end of one of my sessions, Mattie posed a great question to get us all thinking.
Can anyone with information they’re passionate about (and truly knowledgeable on) create an info product?
And my answer was “YES.”
Why? Because I have an IRL friend who runs a chess website that makes a few thousand per month. He teaches people the basics of chess as well as complex moves (or whatever they’re called–I’m not epic at chess) in a membership site. I also have a friend who teaches people how to downsize to a camper and make a true home out of it. She too makes thousands per month from this one course.
In my personal experience, I happen to like talking about freelancing, coaching, and infopreneurship, because other than two briefly successful cleaning and t-shirt businesses back in the day, these three areas are the ones I’ve been able to build profitable businesses from. Whereas I rarely freelance or coach anymore, I still love teaching on how to get started and grow in those areas as well as how to get into creating info products and establishing your empire. I’m deeply in love with creating eProducts and teaching others how to monetize their information.
Today I want to share the three keys to creating a successful info product, my list of both common and uncommon info products, as well as an invitation to join a free 5-lesson email course on infopreneurship that starts soon.
Step 1: Pick a Clear + Helpful Teaching Topic
It’s important to pick something clear. What do I mean by this? Your topic needs to be:
- One that you can explain.
- One that you can describe the benefits of.
- One that you know you can be helpful with.
- One that you feel confident hopping into a Q+A session on.
- One that you know you can present in a way that helps others really grasp it.
The key is that you will have to position your product. Positioning is about giving your product a distinct place in the market. If your info product doesn’t stand out from the countless other options, you’re making your job as the primary marketer and instructor/creator much harder.
You can position your product as:
- the ultimate guide to ______
- an authoritative niche guide to ______
- the low-cost resource for ______
- the luxury experience in learning ______
- the most interactive and community-centered guide to ______
It just has to have a recognizable position. When trying to figure out what position your eProduct will have, consider:
- what your audience doesn’t need any more of
- what your audience is not used to seeing
- how your audience processes new information in your industry (skeptically, excitedly, etc.)
- the information your audience is currently lacking on your topic
- the other resources and guides your audience has likely purchased
Think about it right now. Does the product you’re considering creating have a unique position or advantage in your market? What additional features or reconfiguring might help it get there?
The simplest and most noticeable ways to position a product away from its competition are (1) playing with how much it costs, (2) changing how comprehensive or niche it is, and (3) being purposeful about the experience it creates for your customers.
What are the brands with the most distinct positions in your mind?
- Apple? They position themselves as higher-priced (which is meant to communicate higher value) with a luxury experience (everything from the packaging to the stores in which they’re products are sold is all “ooh” and “aww” worthy).
- Wal-Mart? They position themselves as the low-cost leader in home and grocery needs with an extensive inventory. They don’t advertise the durability and quality of their items as much as a more luxury or higher-priced brand like Nordstrom would do.
You get the point!
Step 2: Pick the Type of Info Product (That Best Fits Your Audience and Your Information)
So, InfoBoMo (Infopreneur Book Month) has brought about some of the most interesting experiences, awesome new friendships and business alliances, and of course, some excellent resource shares and questions in the community.
As I was answering one particular question, my thought was:
Dang, I’m writing this woman a whole blog post. Don’t hate me.”
Then after I was done, my thought was:
Dang, I should make this a blog post. Other people probably have the same question.”
So, here we are, you and I . . . about to dive into: How do you turn a blog post series into a book? OR EVEN How do you turn a blog post into a book?
My friend, I do not have all the answers, and I’m sure there are multiple ways to go about it, but I can tell you what I’ve done in this situation in the hope that it helps.
When expanding on posts that already exist for free on the webs, I try to take a step back and look at the whole topic from the reader/customer perspective. This comes in the form of five questions you can ask yourself about your current post or series as well as five general idea-generating questions you can ask yourself to create an awesome chapter/content list for your book. You can download the worksheets below (just click on them) to help you work through and record your ideas from this post.
For the purposes of this post, let’s take for example a series you did on car maintenance for your “modern superwoman” blog. P.S. If it is a single post you are turning into a book, break it down into the main points/sections you made. Below, I assume it is a series, but you can change my list out for your post sections.
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