P.S. For you fellow Drake fans, I was considering titling this post, “If you’re reading this, it’s not too late” but then I realized you would have no idea what the article was about.
P.P.S. I am seriously open to debate on this topic. I will present my views but I am deeply interested in learning from the way other people see the world.
There is one reason (you—if you’re someone who is busy building a meaningful business) I was inspired to write this, and I have a few quick illustrations below to show my reasoning. Hopefully you won’t hate me when it’s over.
Why I’m strongly against online course and digital product refund policies that make people do X amount of work or jump through fiery hoops to get a refund.
I write this blog for you. I create tools for you. I stay up at night dreaming, scheming, and creating for you. Not just in the “I say this because this is how online marketers are supposed to talk” way, but in the “No, literally, I relate to where you are and who you are, and where I had to come from to create various businesses and products I love” kinda way.
Refund policies that make clients submit worksheets, and modules, and proof of this and that and the other rub me the wrong way.
If your entire audience consists of people who don’t care about money at all, then cool.
If you have people in your audience that care about spending their money on things they get value out of, or who are on a specific budget, or who may, despite your wishes and requests, spend their last dollar on your program, then hmm.
Not that text lessons and articles aren’t super valuable, but in the interest of making your online courses (or blog in general) more accessible, delightful, and useful for different learning styles, it is a good idea to explore the many types of media you can create—easily—and most often without any investment at all other than your time.
Check out the 23 types of media below that you can add to your online course, website, blog, landing pages, and more to create a more valuable and user-friendly experience for your students and audience.
1. Animated videos with voice narration or an epic lesson
A nice change from slides (or from only including video of yourself), animated videos can be a great, clear way to communicate short lessons, to advertise your course, or to help students learn how to use your course dashboard. And yes, if you are wondering, I show you how to make animated videos from scratch, with a $0 video budget in The Epic Business Lock-In™.
2. Recorded presentations—video of your slide deck with narration/lesson audio
I use these a ton in my online courses. Even for lessons that you already have completely written out as text lessons . . . if it’s something that looks good as slides, and will offer a different learning experience for your students, why not record a quick presentation? You can use QuickTime for free, or get software such as Camtasia or Screenflow to do this.
3. Live online workshops
One way to build out the modules of your course, or add valuable bonus content to them, is to create live online workshops on your course topic. You can use them as your main course sections by releasing them on a schedule and making them only available to your students, or you can use them as standalone content pieces (either paid or free) to build your email list or to have additional surprise content to offer your students or blog readers.
Even as a super duper introvert, I’ve now done more live workshops than I can possibly count. They are a wonderful way to get used to teaching, test out content, grow your email list, or build your course. If you’re considering doing your first live workshop, check out The 7 Types of Online Workshops You Can Use to Grow Your Brand, or my article on How to Create + Host Online Workshops (or Live Classes) for Free.
4. Online workshops, edited and repackaged (with extra goodies) after the initial recording
This is one of my favorite ways to create NEW value and new content out of something you’ve already done. You can take one or all of the live workshops you created in #3 above and make them awesome by:
- Editing the recording down and taking out unnecessary dialogue, time-specific references that don’t apply anymore (ex: “Next week I’ll be doing another workshop on X topic.”), and any sections you don’t feel went well.
- Adding in a re-recording of any sections that you want to redo. You can also add in corrected slides (if you noticed an error after it was too late to fix it), or entirely new sections that you think of by simply recording your screen (talked about below) and audio at the same time.
- Adding in a workbook to the workshop. Now that you’ve done the live event, you know exactly what you said, all the points you shared, and you have all the content done . . . why not make an actionable workbook or follow-along notesheets for your workshop? If you were rushing to get a workbook done before the event, you can now go back and make it everything you want to.
- Creating a PDF export of your slide deck (if you have one) for people to download and use after the fact to follow along with your workshop.
- Getting a transcription of your workshop, or transcribing it yourself, so that you have a text version of everything you said. This is something I’ve done by hiring someone form Upwork.com. Once you have a transcription, you can provide a more accessible version of your content to people.
Videos of your screen (often called screencasts) allow you to provide software tutorials, or tips/hacks on how to do any type of computer task, and much more. In the example below, I’m talking through a flow chart for a business. Screencasts are one of my favorite types of videos to create and teach because they don’t require much tech (plus they don’t require you to have your face on screen if that’s not really your style) and can be done for free.
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:
Aye aye aye. Sheesh. This is about to be a real dose of real.
But what’s the point of having a voice or building a brand if you don’t use them for what matters?
Today, I will endeavor to explain something that I hope truly, truly, truly helps you. Something that will likely provide some clarity and much needed truth about a sometimes confusing world.
It’s all about how not to get sucked in by this six-figure blogger “trend” going around.
And yes, I’m gonna lose some friends (correction: “friends”), upset some people, and remove the chance to ever collaborate with certain people after this . . . but zero flips are given about that because I’m not here for them, I’m here for you and this post may help someone, hopefully, avoid a business-draining, fund-draining, attitude-deflating decision in the future.
To be clear before we begin, not all bloggers who make 6-figures fit the things I’m about to say. Some of us have brands, and friends, and audiences, and content that are really important to us and the income was a natural progression of that plus a lot of hard work.
The “6-figure suck-in” really refers to the super annoying trend to publish income reports that are misleading, to title your courses and resources in a way that implies an unrealistic promise, and the wave of people caught feeling like they NEED to make 6-figures or NEED to reach a certain income amount in a certain time or else they’re failures.
Here are 7 characteristics of brand owners to keep in mind as you make purchasing decisions and as you process how you’re feeling about your own business.
Again, not all 6- or 7- or 8-figure bloggers are bad and out to get you, but the bloggers who want to suck you in share a few things in common . . .
1. They put VERY misleading numbers + words in the titles of their courses, workshops, and other resources.
How to Go from Zero to $10K in 30 Days
Create 6-Figure Webinars
How to Build Your 6-Figure Coaching Business
It’s all a sneaky/chill form of an implied promise. It is my #1 pet peeve and I get so many emails from others who hate it too.
Can the average motivated person really go from $0 to $10K in the 30 days they take your course? How many people have created 6-figure webinars after implementing the tips in your class? Are people truly going to learn all they need to in your “6-figure” coaching business webinar that lasts 45 minutes and is just a sales attempt for your $2,200 offering?
Like. Really. I’m truly asking you this question dear brand owner.
How about telling us how YOU created $100K in income from a webinar after 10 years in business and 55 other webinars? That’s a course I might take.
Or how about “How 5 Years and a $20K Investment Helped Me Make 6-Figures” . . .? That sounds more believable.
When you read these titles and tweets, try not to get sucked in or feel a certain way about your business. Honestly, there are so many other factors that play into people’s success than the facts and figures they fit onto their sales pages and opt-in advertisements.
Were you urgently searching for a resource on creating 6-figure webinars before you found that one guy’s course? If not, keep moving . . . don’t make a purchasing decision in that moment. Sign up for some of his free stuff . . . stuff where he doesn’t try to sell you a $1,000 offering.
2. They seemingly ignore the fact that they do not blog about anything close to what you do . . . all while making implied promises about your results.
And now, let’s talk about how even if they titled their course “How I Made 7-Figures from a Blog” . . . they blog about marketing through webinars, not the power of a whole food lifestyle, or parenting twins, or getting in shape, or whatever it is you care about and blog about.
I have had three blogs in my time on the Internet that I’ve monetized successfully . . . a writing blog, a design blog, and this creative business and infopreneurship blog. I do believe that I can help people with other interests than these, but I’m not going to title my course $0 to $100K Blogging.
Check out the outline and modules of the courses you are considering . . . are they unintentionally teaching things that only make sense for their industry and not yours? Try to judge their ability to truly help you before being caught up in the magic of the statistics they publish.
3. They don’t accurately represent how much work is required.
Just to make sure I’m not crazy, I’ve had a secret project going on. I’ve been establishing another, separate, secret blog based on all the principles I learned after building hundreds of sites for customers, running 10+ blogs of my own, and monetizing 3 of my blogs.
It’s STILLLLLLLL hard work. It is STILL hard to write the number of posts I wanted to before launching. It’s still a lot of work to create custom images for every resource. It still takes energy to write good stuff. And you know what? It’s still fun.
I don’t want to trade in the hard work for some super magical unreal formula for success. Hahahahahaha. The concept of a formula for success is ridiculous. Maybe math works the same way every time, maybe a science experiment always has the same results, but a life, content that comes from your heart, the Internet, they don’t play out the same way for everyone. They just don’t.
4. They don’t accurately report their income.
Y’all. It’s most likely because they really don’t know any better, so I don’t say this to be rude, but . . .
Some people are literally using made up accounting methods in their income reports. There are two generally accepted accounting methods: cash-based accounting and accrual-based accounting (a.k.a. the cash method and the accrual method). I’ll explain them briefly.
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