Online courses are a $46 billion industry.
Everybody wants a piece and for good reason. It can be a fantastic way
to earn a living from your passion, your skill, and your experience.
But it can also be overwhelming to get started. I’ve launched six-figure
courses, and I’ve studied thousands of successful course creators.
And I’m going to show you everything you need to know to build a profitable course
from the ground up. We’re going to cover everything, from
coming up with a profitable course idea, to creating your course
content, to naming and pricing your course, and building a sales machine
to make sure that your course sells. I’ll help you avoid the biggest mistakes
that can crush your chances of success, trust me, I have made most of them.
And I’m going to be here to help you with every step
of the way. Let’s do it. ♪ [music] ♪ I’ve spoken with so many creators
who want to make an online course, but they’re struggling to come up
with an idea. They’ll say things like, “What can I teach that people will
actually pay for?” In this video, I’m going to show you three tested and
proven ways to come up with a profitable idea for your online course. The
first thing that you should do when you’re trying to come up with a
course idea is to think about, what are you already helping people do?
Are you a consultant that’s already being paid for your expertise in something?
That’s a fantastic idea because it’s already validated and people are already
paying to have that problem solved for them. Or, are you the go-to person at
work for solving a particular problem? For example, we had one creator that I met
last year who for years had been the go-to person at work for Excel questions.
Anytime anybody had a question about macros or formulas or templates,
they’d always come to her, until finally, one of her coworkers said,
“Why don’t you just build a course about this stuff? I’d be the first person
to buy.” And now, she sells a course about spreadsheets to thousands of people.
Third, do your friends or neighbors ask you to help them with something in
your free time? Courses don’t have to be work-related. Do your friends or
neighbors ask you for help with travel planning or finding great flight deals,
organization, or rooftop gardening? All of those are examples of
profitable course ideas. And finally, have you done something hard that
you had to learn how to do? Now, that might sound really
simple, but it’s actually really, really helpful for a lot of creators to
think about this. Because if you’ve learned how to do something difficult,
you probably learned how to do it the hard way, through lots of trial-and-error,
lots of research, you probably sifted through tons of information online
and in books trying to sort the good from the bad. Chances are somebody
else wants to learn how to do that too, and by creating an online course,
you’re just creating a shortcut for them to learn that faster. The second
way to come up with a course idea is to survey your audience.
If you have an email list or a social media following, or even a group of
friends that you think might represent that market that you might be selling your
course to, you can start with them. Think about the broad topic your course
might fall under. It might be design or programming or marketing or business or
productivity or one of a million things, but just think about that broad topic and
then ask some open-ended questions about how people approach that topic.
For example, tell me about your experiences with blank.
Tell me about your experiences with design, programming, marketing.
What is your biggest challenge with blank? Now we’re getting into the problems that
we can solve for people with the course. And finally, how are you currently
dealing with those challenges? Now, this is a really important question,
because we all have challenges that we kind of think, “I’m not going to do
anything about that. It’s a bummer, but I’m not going to act on it.”
Those are not good ideas to build courses about, because people aren’t
motivated to solve those problems. But if you find that people are
already buying and reading books, or looking for articles,
or paying consultants, or even buying courses on a
topic, that’s a great course idea, because it’s already validated.
You know people want a solution and they’re willing to pay and to work to get
it. Now, you can do these surveys via email or with a form,
but the best way to do it is live, either in-person or on the phone or on a
video call. The answers that you get will be so much more open and honest.
And remember, when you hear something interesting, dig deeper.
Ask the person why they feel a certain way about something. Or say,
“That’s interesting. Can you explain that to me a little bit?”
The deeper you go, the more you’ll understand the true challenges that
someone is facing that you’ll need to solve for in your online course.
Let’s say you’re trying to find out why somebody dislikes a particular thing.
Let’s use cooking as an example. You’re trying to create an online course
about cooking and you talk to somebody who says they find cooking hard or
intimidating. Now, that’s good, but that’s not really deep enough for
us to be able to create an online course about. We don’t know what specific
challenges to solve. And so you push on. “Interesting,” you say. “What
is it that you find so intimidating about cooking?” That’s when you
start getting into the real insights. And it may be things that seem simple to
you, like they’re afraid of complicated recipes that require a bunch of
ingredients or tools that they don’t have, or they hate washing dishes, or
maybe they’re afraid to cut themselves chopping an onion because they heard about
it happening to their grandma’s mailman’s friend one time. See how much deeper these
responses go. When you really understand your students’ fears at this level, you
can actually help them overcome those fears and find success in your course.
But if all you know is that they find something hard or intimidating,
where do you even begin to help them? The third way to find a profitable course
idea is to go out and to find a gap in the market. I’ll show you what
I mean by that. First of all, think of that broad topic again, that
broad umbrella topic that you think your course topic might fall under.
Second, we’re going to go to reddit.com. And why Reddit? Because Reddit is
the sixth largest site on the planet. Statistically, there’s a very good chance
you’ve been on Reddit today. Reddit has millions of active users,
hundreds of thousands of comments posted every month, and if there’s a conversation
going on about the problem you’re going to end up solving, it’s probably going on
on Reddit. So we’re going to go to Reddit and mine it for great course topics.
But we’re not going to go straight to Reddit. The first thing that we’re
going to do is start with Google. We’re going to type in “reddit .com” plus
our umbrella topic. Now, for this example, I’m using cooking, but use whatever you’re
thinking here. And what Google is going to return is a bunch of subreddits,
that’s what Reddit calls its communities, that are relevant to your topic.
All we’re doing at this point is taking those subreddits and throwing them into a
spreadsheet. Don’t worry about starting the spreadsheet from scratch.
You can download a template right below this video. So, we’re
taking these subreddits, we’re throwing them all into a spreadsheet,
and then we’re going to go to Reddit itself and do the same thing.
We’re going to search, search for our topic and see what
subreddits Reddit recommends. Click on “Next.” Try to build a list of 10
or 15 of these subreddits that we can mine for ideas. Next, we’re going to go into
each of these subreddits and do some searching. We’re going to use some
search terms that indicate that somebody might be struggling with something,
that indicate that there might be a problem that we can help solve.
Here are some examples. “Suggestions.” “How do you?” “How can I?”
“I can’t stand.” “I’m struggling with.” “Can someone help?” “Please help me.”
“Any tips?” Now, remember, when you use these search terms,
especially the ones that have multiple words, search in quotes because
that’s going to give you an exact phrase match. Now, here’s an example of
what happens. When I search for “suggestions” on the AskCulinary
subreddit, this is one of the subreddits that Google returned as a popular cooking
subreddit, I get some really interesting course ideas. “Dish suggestions for
somebody with dietary restrictions.” “Getting more protein from beans
in a way that’s not bland and boring.” “Looking for tips to improve food
presentation.” These are all potentially excellent course ideas. Now, look
at how many comments are in some of these threads, 89 comments,
973 comments. That’s a topic that people get fired up about, and the more
fired up people get about a topic, the more emotional they get about it,
the more likely that there’s a course idea waiting in there that people will
get excited about buying. This strategy is really simple,
but it’s really powerful. Just repeat this process with all of the
subreddits you found, and in no time, you’re going to have a list of 10, 15, 20,
25, or even more possible ideas for your next online course. Just grab that idea
generation template below this video and you’ll be ready to get started.
As you can see, there are many ways to come up with both impactful
and profitable course ideas. I hope you give these a try. ♪ [music] ♪ As a creator, you’re probably full of
ideas, and we’ve all been there, right? “I have so many ideas. How do
I pick just one?” It’s fine, relax. This is something that so many creators
struggle with. I’m going to show you a simple framework for taking all of your
ideas and picking the very best ones. We’ve worked with hundreds of creators who
are struggling to narrow down all of their ideas into the very best ones, and
we’ve developed a simple process for doing it called the Passion/Profit
Matrix. Here’s what the Passion/Profit Matrix looks like. We’re just going to
take all of our ideas and plot them out into these four quadrants, based
on how passionate you are about the topic and the profit potential for the
course idea. Now, why passion? Well, here’s the thing, building
an online course business, just like building any kind of
business, is full of peaks and valleys. It gets tough sometimes, and if
you’re not passionate about the topic you’re building a course about,
you’re going to have a lot of trouble getting through those tougher times.
But if you’re super passionate about this and need to get it out into the
world, then you’re going to make it through those valleys. And profit
potential just comes down to, are people willing to have this problem
solved for them? This is something that would have surfaced in the research that
you did to create your course topics. Were the conversations that you found
about the topic online really heated and sentimental, or were they kind of
bland and boring? Were the conversations that you had with people in your research
really animated and emotional, or did people not really care?
That’s what we’re going to gage here. So, here’s an example using the cooking
course that we started in the last video of how those topics might look
on this Passion/Profit Matrix. I went through Reddit,
I found these topics, and now I’ve plotted them here.
I’ll show you how this works. So looking at the bottom-left here,
low profit potential and low passion, “How to make vegetables stay fresh
longer,” “How to do dishes faster.” You know, I didn’t really find a lot of
active, heated discussions about these things, and frankly,
I’m not that passionate about them either, so they’re not the best course ideas for
me. Moving up to the top-left here, “How to make eggs.” It’s something I
enjoy doing, I’ve done for a long time, but people, again, didn’t seem to get
really heated in their discussions about cooking eggs. And I checked out
Amazon and egg cookbooks don’t seem to sell that well, so I’m going to
leave that as a course topic. Now, moving to the bottom-right,
low passion, but high profit potential, “How to cook healthy to-go lunches for
young children.” This is a really, really passionate topic for a lot of
folks. People get really emotional about this challenge. They
begin to feel like failures as parents if they can’t pack
healthy lunches for their kids. It’s a fantastic course topic. The
only thing is, I don’t have kids and it’s not really something I care about
that much, so I’m probably not the best person to create this course. However,
if you have kids and this is something you’ve overcome, by all means, steal
this course idea and make lots and lots of money. Now, moving up to the
top-right, we get into the really good course ideas, so “How to grocery shop
better.” I notice some people phrase this differently, some people phrase it
like meal planning or grocery planning, but it all kind of fell into the same
bucket, “How to grocery shop better.” I love this topic. It’s something I think
about a lot, and people get really, really animated in the discussions about
it, so this is a great course topic. “How to use knives like an expert.”
Again, a really good course topic. People get animated about it, has high
impact. If somebody learns how to use knives better, they’ll be
more confident in the kitchen, they’ll cook better, they’ll be
safer, so a great course topic. And this is actually the one that I’m
going to use as we build out our course in the next video. And then finally,
“How to impress your date and loved ones with cooking.” Again,
very good course topic. This is a high-stake situation for a lot
of people, and they’re willing to work hard and to pay to have this
problem solved for them. Now, a lot of creators get to this point
and they get excited about a topic that they could potentially build an online
course on, but then something stops them cold. They get to looking
around the internet and they think, “But…but…but there’s already a course
about that. Somebody already did a course about my topic.” And you know
what? That’s actually good, because that means that that
is a validated course idea. It means that people are willing to pay
money to have this problem solved. There aren’t very many new problems today.
The same problems that have been around for hundreds or thousands
of years are still problems today. Take, for example, productivity. Seneca,
the philosopher, wrote about productivity 2,000 years ago. Godia wrote
about productivity in the 1400s. Ben Franklin wrote about productivity
200 years ago. Here’s Ben Franklin on productivity. And it remains a problem
to this day. Every year for the last 17 years, there’s been a different
bestseller onThe New York TimesBest Seller list about productivity. Okay?
This problem has not gone away despite many, many, many
bestselling attempts at solving it. And you can think about your
course problem the same way. Just because somebody else has created a
course about that topic, doesn’t mean that the problem is solved for everybody.
Maybe their course is the best for their students, and your course
will be the best for yours. So just grab that Passion/Profit Matrix
right below this video and you can get started picking your best idea. The
Passion/Profit Matrix makes it easy to take all of your ideas and figure out
which one is your best bet for turning into a profitable online
course. I hope it helps you. ♪ [music] ♪ It can be overwhelming trying to
build a course from scratch, but it doesn’t have to be. We have
a process for building your course that’s going to make the whole
thing simple and straightforward. There are two big traps that many
course creators fall into when they first start building. Either they’ll sit back
and stare at a blank screen waiting for inspiration to strike and not
really knowing where to start, or they’ll brain dump everything they
know about a topic onto the page, organize it into modules,
and call it a course. The first one is obviously bad
because you end up with nothing, but the second one is actually the wrong
approach too, because you end up with way too much. The goal of your course
is not to deliver as much information as possible. It’s to deliver a result.
That’s what your students are paying for, an outcome. And so, when we start to build
our course, we start with that outcome. Think about what your students want to
walk away with when they buy your course. Write that down and put that
at the very top of your outline. And once you have that end result at the
very top, we’re going to take that end result and break it into its component
parts. Now, what does that mean? Let’s say I’m building a
course about knife skills, right? The end result for me is I want somebody
to be able to pick up a knife in the kitchen and cut with confidence.
What does that take? Well, first, it’s going to take learning some general
knife safety, so you don’t get hurt. It’s probably going to take some learning
about knife care and cleaning, so you can keep your knife sharp.
You’ll probably take a lesson on choosing the right knife for different tasks,
so that when you see a recipe, you know what to do. And you’ll
probably need to know some common techniques, like mincing,
dicing, brunoise and julienne. You might need to know how to cut more
efficiently, so after you know the different cuts, you can go a little bit
faster. And you might need some next steps to level up even further after you get
through these other modules. Now, we’re going to take each of these
component parts and break them down a little bit further into modules. Now,
we’re going to throw them into our outline here…and don’t worry about building
this outline from scratch. You can use a template that we’ve created
for you and you can find a link to it just below this video. So, we’re going
to take those component parts and break them down into their
component parts, into modules. Modules are just chapters.
So in the first chapter or the first module, we’re going to cover general
knife safety. So for general knife safety, we’ll probably have to cover holding a
knife properly, choosing knives, and maybe some recommended brands so that
the student can go to the store and select the right knives. On the right side of the
outline, we’re putting the content type that we’re going to deliver each of those
lessons in. We’ll talk about choosing the right content types for your course
modules next, but in the meantime, grab the course outlining template below
and take that end result and break it into its component parts,
figure out what modules you’ll need to build, and then we can get to building.
Having an outline gives you a clear plan for building out your course,
and it just makes life so much easier. Take the time and get this part right.
You’ll be happy that you did. ♪ [music] ♪ Once you have an outline for your
online course, it’s time to build. Now, this part is going to look different
for every creator, but there are a few things to remember that will make
this process a whole lot easier. The most important thing here is to keep
it simple and play to your strengths. If you’re a writer, write.
If you’re a designer, design. If you’re a talker, do audio or video.
Your course doesn’t have to look super polished or like it was created
in a Hollywood studio. In fact, the very first course I had that was a
six-figure launch, I recorded it with no tools other than my computer and
QuickTime. It was just me talking over a slideshow, but because I had done
the prep work and I knew that my content would be valuable to my audience,
it didn’t matter what tools I used and it didn’t matter how fancy I got with my
course. It worked. So keep it simple. And that’s it. Don’t overthink this step.
If you’ve done the work to prepare for it and remember to keep it simple and play to
your strengths, your content development is going to go just fine. ♪ [music] ♪ Imagine you’re in the store and
you want to buy a bottle of hand soap. You’re walking down the aisles,
and if you’re like me, you don’t know the first thing about hand
soap, so you’re looking at the bottles, you’re looking at the colors, the prices,
the packaging. If that stuff doesn’t capture your attention,
you’re never going to try the soap inside the bottle. Pricing and packaging
make a massive impact on all buying decisions, and online courses are
no exception. Here’s how to name and price your course to ensure that it sells.
The name of your course is the very first thing that most prospective
buyers will see. If you get it right, it’ll pique their curiosity, it’ll draw
them in, and it’ll make them want to learn more. But if you get it
wrong, they’ll just ignore it and move on. We’ve seen thousands of course titles.
We’ve studied which ones sell and which ones sit on the shelf. And
almost all of our top-selling courses have three things in common when it
comes to their name. Great course names are targeted. The name of the course makes
clear exactly who this course is for. For example, “Knife skills 101:
learn to cut with confidence” is a better name than just “Knife skills” because that
could mean a whole bunch of things. Great course names are results-oriented.
The name conveys the result that the student can expect by taking the course.
So something like, “Get your first 5,000 followers” is a much better name than just
“Learn Instagram marketing.” And finally, great course names are unambiguous.
The name doesn’t use fluffy language or jargon that confuses the prospect and
makes them think really hard about what the course is actually about.
So “Build your freelance business” is a far better name than “Finding freedom,”
which could be about building your freelance business, but could also
be about a million other things. Here are some other great examples of
course names that are targeted, results-oriented, and unambiguous.
“Marketing for Developers: Learn how to build something people want
and get your first 100 customers.” “Action Scene Animation MADE EASY.”
“How to Prepare for Divorce.” “Data Analysis the Lazy Way.”
I love this one, “Using Google Sheets and apps like Zapier to save hours at work.”
And finally, “How to make a living as a WordPress Developer.” Targeted,
results-oriented, unambiguous. As for pricing, pricing is a deep,
complex topic, but you don’t have to make it one. We recommend a simple model of
goal-based pricing. Do you want to reach the highest number of people?
If you just want to reach as many people as possible, for example,
if you’re using the course as a lead generation tool, then offer it for free,
because if there’s no barrier to enroll, then you’re likely to see a lot more sign
ups. But do you want to make the highest total number of sales? In that case,
price your course low enough to make it a no-brainer for as many people as possible,
which is usually something under $30, depending on your niche. You can
look at competing courses for some benchmarks here. Or finally,
do you want to earn the most total revenue? This is where you
get to charge the big bucks. Now, for most creators, it’s a
lot easier to earn $1,000 selling a $1,000 course to 1 person than it is to
earn a $1,000 by selling a $20 course to 50 people. So, go high-end with
your pricing here and test to see what the market will pay for. You’re
not setting your prices in stone, and you can and you should play with your
pricing and test new things to see what works. Don’t get caught up in
trying to make your pricing perfect. Just get the course out there and see what
happens. You can always change things up later. Decisions about the name
and the price of your course can paralyze creators. A lot of creators have
courses that just sit on the shelf for weeks because they just can’t
make a decision on these things, but you’re better off selling than
overanalyzing. Just pick a name, pick a price, and get
your course out the door. ♪ [music] ♪ There are two ways most creators sell
courses. Together, let’s figure out which one is right for you. The two
most popular ways that creators sell courses are product launches and
evergreen sales. Here’s an example of a launch-based course by Brian Dean.
A launch-based course is one that’s event-based. It happens during a
specific time window, for example, during a week. The course is
open for a week, and after that, you can no longer buy it.
Outside of that window, enrolment for the course closes.
The second kind of popular launch is evergreen. With an evergreen sale, your
courses are always available to anyone who wants to buy. That’s how Aja Edmond
sells her courses on Podia. There are pros and cons to each approach.
For example, product launches create urgency, motivating your prospects
to act before the cart closes, but they’re also much more time-consuming,
and the launch week is an exhausting time for many, many creators. A lot of
course creators have launch week scars. They’re also more fragile.
With a short sales window, if anything goes wrong, you
don’t have a lot of opportunity to recover. Now, evergreen courses,
on the other hand, lack the urgency of product launches, but they
also lack the concentrated time commitment that launch week brings.
They’re simpler, they’re easy to improve over time because you don’t have to
wait until your next launch to try something new. For your first course,
we recommend keeping it simple. Start with evergreen sales. It’s
easier, it’s less time-consuming, and it can be done without having
a big audience to start with. How you structure your sales is just one
of the many decisions you’re going to make as you launch your online
course, so keep it simple. You can always
change things up later. ♪ [music] ♪ It’s every course creator’s biggest fear.
You spend weeks or months pouring time and effort into building a course, and
when you finally release it, crickets, nobody buys. It sucks, and I
know that because it’s happened to me too. But as I learned many years
ago, it’s also completely avoidable with the right email marketing strategy.
When it comes to selling your online course, your email list is your
number one most powerful asset. Don’t have one yet? No problem,
we’ll help you build one. But first, I want to share something with you.
What is the number one best day of the week to send marketing emails?
Think about it, take your time. Have your answer? Great.
I’ve asked this question to roomfuls of expert marketers, hundreds of
them, and when I ask for the answer, most of them will say Tuesday or
Wednesday. And it makes sense, right? On Monday, people are coming back in from
the weekend and digging out a little bit, getting started. By Thursday, people
are in the full swing of things and they’re productive. They’re not really
paying attention to their inbox. By Friday, everybody has checked out, and,
of course, you don’t send marketing emails on the weekend. Well, let me
show you the results of a study that HubSpot did on millions of marketing
emails. Here are the average open rates of those millions of marketing emails
by day of the week. That seems pretty crazy, right? Now, I don’t
tell you this to tell you to send emails on Sunday. That might not work for
you. I tell you this to give you an idea of how to take these “best practices,”
take them all with a grain of salt, because what worked for somebody
else might not work for you. Sure, try the best practice,
but try the exact opposite too. Play around with things. The worst
thing that can happen is that you learn from it. And the best thing that
can happen is that you discover something that will transform your business.
And so with that, let’s get into a few email list building tips. The first
thing you can do to build your email list is to create an irresistible
lead magnet. Now, you’ve seen these when somebody offers you a checklist or a
template or an eBook or some kind of gift in exchange for your email address,
in exchange for signing up for their list. That’s a standard lead magnet.
But we’re not talking about standard lead magnets. We’re talking about
irresistible lead magnets. I’ll show you what I mean. Back
when I ran marketing at a company called Groove, we had an email signup
form on our blog post that offered an Book in exchange for an email address. Now,
when we added this, conversions really increased. We were converting 1% to
2% of our readers into subscribers before we put this form up.
After we started offering the eBook, conversions went to about 4.5%,
so a really impressive increase, almost a 3X increase in conversion rates.
However, that was a good lead magnet. What we tested next was an
irresistible lead magnet. You see, we created a blog post called “17 Email
Scripts That Helped Us Grow Our Business (For You to Steal).” Now,
the scripts in this blog post included everything from email outreach templates
for marketing or hiring scripts, management scripts, really useful stuff.
Now, people could see the scripts, they were screenshots.
They were screenshots of the actual emails, and people could see
them, they could get inspired by them, they could even write them down by hand if
they wanted to, but they couldn’t just copy and paste them into their own emails.
And so the lead magnet we offered on this blog post was this, “Grab all 17 email
scripts for free. In a PDF that you can copy and paste from.”
People were already getting value from this article, and this lead magnet
offered to exponentially increase the value that they got from it. Here’s
what conversion rates looked like on this lead magnet, 21.69%, crazy.
It more than quadrupled overnight just by creating a more irresistible lead
magnet. Now, the takeaway here is that your lead magnet should be directly
related to the content that your visitor is already getting value from.
The more specific it is, the more irresistible it will be. Some
ideas for how you can do this include turning an old blog post into a PDF,
and offering that, either on the same blog post, so the value add is you
can take this blog post on the go, or you can offer it on top of another
relevant blog post, so that this PDF adds value to the existing blog. You
could create a checklist to help your readers execute on the strategies and
tactics that you’re outlining in the blog post they’re already reading.
You could compile a list of related tips. You can use something like Canva which
lets you make it look good in a PDF or an image. There are lots of ways to create
added value with your lead magnets. Just make sure to make them specific
and related to the content your reader is already getting value from.
The second list building tip I want to share with you is to publish guest
content. Now, guest content can drive an incredible amount of traffic if you
do it correctly, and the reason it’s so powerful is that you’re exposing your
business to an audience that may have never heard of you before, and
you’re doing it in the context of a publication that they already know and
trust. For us, that means that guest content is the number one source of
new subscribers. Now, this is important, doing guest content right actually creates
value for the other publishers and their audience. Nobody is doing you
a favor by letting you guest post on their blog. A lot of people think,
“Oh, you know, I feel bad asking.” No, don’t think that way because creating
great content is actually really, really hard for publishers, and
they’re under pressure to do it over and over and over again. So by
delivering a piece of great content to a publisher, you’re actually doing them
a massive favor because that’s one less piece that they have to create.
But success in guest blogging really just comes down to the pitch. And I’m
going to show you exactly how to craft a great guest blogging pitch.
This is a real example of a pitch email that I’ve written to guest post on a
massive, massive blog called Buffer. If you’re into social media marketing,
you’ve probably read their blog and you might have even read our guest articles
on it. Let’s go through this pitch and dissect it section by section so
you can take what works and apply it. The subject line is simple, and the
email goes like this, “Hi Courtney! Hope all is well. I’ve been working
on a blog post that I think will do really well, and could potentially
be a great fit for the Buffer blog. I’d love to publish it there and help
promote it to our 7k+ subscribers. We recently published posts on the
Kissmetrics and Shopify blogs. Let me know if you want first crack at this one.
It’s about some interesting results we found from testing “story-driven” posts on
our blog. We tested two variants of the same article (one with a story-driven
intro, the other without). I expected the story-driven one to do
better, but I was surprised by just how much better (300%) it did.
This post tells that story, and gives tips and strategies for easily
weaving story and narrative into the reader’s own content.
Mind if I send the post your way for review?” Now, what’s important
here? The first thing is that this is about them, not you. We’re not
opening the email with, “Hey, I have a great guest post that
I’d love to publish for you.” It’s, “Here’s why this is
going to be valuable for you.” Second, we have a compelling teaser for
the article. We’re not coming to them with an open-ended idea like, “Hey,
I’d love to publish a guest post for you. Do you have any ideas? Or,
is there anything you’re looking for content about?” No,
we did our research, we know what the Buffer blog tends to
publish and what tends to do well there, and we’ve crafted a story idea just
for them. Finally, this email has a clear call-to-action, and it’s not,
“Here’s the article, check it out.” It’s, “Mind if I send the post your way
for review?” Now, this might sound like a subtle difference, and it is,
but it’s actually really important. We tested a number of different
calls-to-action in these emails, and what we found was when we offered
to send a link rather than just linking to the article in the first
email, people were far, far, far more likely to respond positively.
Now, here’s why. Asking if you can send over a link is actually a really,
really small ask. You know, the person only has to say yes or no.
They don’t have to spend 10 or 15 minutes reviewing a link that you’ve already sent.
And in a lot of ways, it’s actually a lot easier to say yes than no,
because if you say no, people feel like they have to explain why.
And so it’s an interesting bit of behavioral psychology that helps
us create a better call-to-action, because when somebody says yes to this,
now when you send them the article, they’ve essentially already agreed to
read it. The third tactic I want to share with you is one that so many people
overlook and ignore. Here’s what it is. Every email that you send is an
opportunity to grow your list. Here’s why. Every single email software allows
for you to add a signature to the bottom of your email. Think about how many
emails you send in a day, whether it’s to customers, partners, peers,
whoever it is, that’s valuable real estate. That’s the kind of real
estate that companies love to pay to advertise on. You have that real
estate available to use for free, so make sure you put a call-to-action to
sign up for your email list in every single email that you send.
This is really easy to do. In Gmail, you can just go to the Settings tab
and add a signature right there. This will go on the bottom of
every single email that you send. That’s dozens or hundreds or maybe even
thousands of opportunities to get new subscribers every week or month depending
on how many emails that you send. The fourth list building tip is
to join social media groups. There are social media groups for just
about everything under the sun, and joining them gives you access to
engaged audiences that are interested in the topics that you are selling
products about. Finding these groups can be really easy. Just go to Facebook and
type in the topic that you teach about, and look at the Groups tab.
You’ll see lots and lots of groups that congregate around your chosen topic.
You can do the same thing on Reddit. Reddit has subreddits for just about
everything. Or you can just search on Google with the word “community” or
“forum.” That should turn up lots of interesting results too. Like I
said, there are groups for just about everything, but this is important.
Don’t just run in there, guns blazing, spamming everybody with your
content or your products, okay? That’s not going to work. That’s
just going to make people angry and get you kicked out. Take the time to
really become a value adding member of the group. Participate,
answer questions, ask questions. Don’t link to your content just yet.
Then you can start introducing your email list in really small ways.
Once you’ve been a member for a little while, if somebody asks a question
that you’ve written an article about, you can say, “Hey, that’s a great
question. I actually wrote an article about this about a year ago.
Here are a few bullet points that might help you, but if you want to read the
whole thing, just hop over to this link here.” And if you’ve already
established yourself as a contributing member of the community,
nobody’s going to fault you for that. But remember to take the time and get
initiated first. Here’s a script that you can use. Whenever you join a new community
or group, just introduce yourself and start interacting with the community.
This isn’t a shortcut or a silver bullet, this is a long game,
but just like other long games, it’ll payoff if you’re willing to put in
the work over time. Another great way to build your list is to run a giveaway.
You’ve probably seen these already, people offering prizes if you join their
giveaway contest or if you join their sweepstakes, and they can work
really, really well if you do them right. Typically, you’ll see lower-value
subscribers, but you’ll get higher numbers, and the reason for that is
you’re not actually telling people to sign up to get value from your list, you’re
getting people to sign up because they want a prize, and then the hope is
that they then find value in your list. So, statistically, the subscribers will
tend to be of lower value, but you’ll probably get higher numbers
quickly. You can use a free tool for this, like KingSumo. It’ll run your giveaways
for you automatically and it’ll generate a winner. Now, here are some
important things to keep in mind, get creative with your prizes: books,
tech gadgets and tools, gift cards. Here’s what’s really, really important.
The gift must be uniquely valuable to your audience. What does that mean?
We’re not giving away Amazon gift cards or Visa gift cards or something that is
useful to everyone, because if you give away something that’s useful to everyone,
then everyone’s going to want it. We want to qualify our entrants.
We want to make sure that people who are entering for our giveaway are
uniquely qualified for our list. And so make sure that if you are giving
something away, that it is uniquely valuable to your audience.
If your audience is designers, give away books about design or gift cards
that only designers would find useful. Or if your audience is writers,
give away writing tools or books. This is the number one way that you can
make sure that your giveaway entries stay high value and have a high chance
of converting to being great email subscribers. So to
recap, there are five really, really powerful ways to build your email
list that you can start with right now. You can create an irresistible lead
magnet, publish guest posts by pitching them the right way, using up that
signature real estate that you have at the bottom of every email that you send,
joining social media groups and playing the long game by getting initiated and
becoming a value contributing member, and finally, running a giveaway,
but making sure that your prize is uniquely valuable to your audience.
And remember, don’t get married to the best practices. Don’t just read best
practice articles and assume that everything holds true for you.
Let yourself have some fun with it. Play around. The best thing that can
possibly happen from ignoring best practices and trying the opposite of them
is that you find something that turns your business around in the best possible way.
And the worst thing that can happen is that you learn from it. Email
marketing continues to be the most effective channel for selling online
courses, and your email list is your most valuable marketing asset.
But don’t get discouraged. Everyone starts with zero subscribers.
The sooner you get to building, the sooner you’ll have
an audience to sell to. ♪ [music] ♪ We’ve all gotten bad sales emails.
As the person getting the email, at best, you ignore it or you hit Delete,
but at worst, it makes you angry and frustrated. But as somebody with
something to sell, how do you make sure that your sales emails are appreciated
and welcomed by your subscribers? And more importantly, how do
you make sure that your sales emails actually sell? Let’s find out. Now,
one thing that might surprise you is that success doesn’t come from a single great
sales email. The best sales emails are actually part of a sequence that
moves your prospects along in the buyer’s journey. Here’s what I mean.
How often do you buy something from someone you’ve never met who knocks
on your door? I bet that doesn’t happen pretty often. We want to buy from
people that we know and trust, and your customers are no different.
The best way to sell your course with email marketing is to create a series
of emails that takes the subscriber through all of the stages of the course
buyer’s journey, starting with awareness, when they become aware of the problem
that you’re solving, then consideration, when they’re weighing their
options, and finally, the decision, when they’re ready to commit to a specific
solution. You can get endlessly sophisticated and complex with your sales
sequences as you grow, and you will, but for now, just keep it simple and get
it done. Use this template to write your five-step online course sales sequence.
You wouldn’t buy a course on improving your golf swing if you haven’t thought
about golf in a few months, right? And your prospects aren’t going to buy a
course unless the problem you’re solving is top of mind for them.
So in this first email, we’re going to introduce ourselves,
tell a story, and get them thinking about the problem with a gentle nudge and
an invitation to engage. For this example, we’re going to pretend that we’re
selling a course about knife skills, and this is the first email that we’re
sending. “Subject: ‘My 3-year old has better knife skills than you.’ Hi Jane,
I’ll never forget the condescending way he said it. I was watching an episode of
Ultimate Recipe Showdown,a show where home cooks were invited into a
professional kitchen studio to pit their best recipes against one another.
One contestant, frantically working to finish her dish before time ran out,
drew the attention of Michael Psilakis, one of the “celebrity chef” judges.
“My 3-year old has better knife skills,” he commented as she rushed to chop
an onion, leaving a pile of uneven, jagged bits on the board. In that
moment, I realized two things: First, that either he’s a jerk or the producers
told him to act like one… And second, that my “knife skills” – although I had
never thought of them in that way – were exactly like hers! I had never given much
thought to how to properly use a knife in the kitchen, and yet I often ended up
with dishes that: Looked nothing like the photos in the recipe (I’d call them
“rustic”, but really they were just sloppy). That took way longer to cook
than recipes said they should (I didn’t realize this at the time,
but that had everything to do with knife skills, or my lack thereof).
That came out wrong because I’d see steps in the recipe that seemed tedious,
and I’d skip them altogether (“Butterfly the chicken? NOPE”). I have to be honest:
even though they were directed at some lady I’d never met, Michael’s comments
made me feel pretty bad about myself. Despite the fact that I liked to cook,
I was a complete amateur when it came to knife skills. I’ll always remember that
moment as the one when I decided to do something about it. And I’m glad
I did. After years of practice, and lots of trial-and-error,
I’m more confident in the kitchen than ever. I see recipes that call for
complicated cuts – did somebody call for a brunoise? – or chopping huge piles
of vegetables, and I’ll just smile and say, “bring it on.” It’s made cooking at
home SO much more fun, and the look on my friend’s faces when they see
me in the kitchen is priceless. “I didn’t know you were a chef!” (I’m not,
of course. I’ve just learned how to cut like one.) It may seem like a trivial
thing, but I can honestly say that developing great knife skills has changed
my life. And if you’ve ever been frustrated by how long a recipe takes to
make, or backed down from cooking a dish because you were intimidated by it,
or felt bad that you couldn’t impress your date with a gorgeous meal…then it can
change your life, too. And tomorrow, I’ll show you how. But first, a question:
what’s your “white whale” recipe? The one you’ve always dreamed of being
able to cook, but have shied away from? Reply to this email and let me know. Best,
Remy.” What did you notice about this first email? First, it tells a story.
Stories are the best way to grab your subscriber’s attention and engage
them. Humans crave stories, especially ones with vivid
descriptions and specific details. Second, it agitates the problem.
We’re going beyond saying, having bad knife skills is bad, right?
That’s boring, nobody wants to read that. We’re showing just how deeply
the problem can affect us. And third, it invites the subscriber to engage.
It takes them from thinking about the problem as you, the writer, faced it,
and it gets them to think about the problem and how it impacts them.
Hopefully, you also notice that this email feels like a human being wrote it,
rather than a sales person. In fact, there’s no pitch at all.
The primary intention here is to begin building a relationship with the
subscriber based on a shared frustration about the same problem.
Now that your prospect is thinking about the problem, let’s share some
insights with them that can help them take the first steps toward solving it.
Why would we do that? Why would we help them for free,
while we’re trying to get them to pay us for a course? I understand why you might
be thinking that, but the simple answer is trust. Put yourself into the reader’s
shoes. Wouldn’t you be more likely to buy from someone who had already delivered
something of great value to you for free? Of course, you would. You’d trust
them more because they’ve shown you that they can help you.
The key insights that you share in this email aren’t going to be the ultimate
solution that your course is. They’ll simply be useful tidbits that help
your reader take those first few steps toward success. And as you see in this
example that I’m going to share with you, don’t be afraid to get personal. Sharing
stories from your own journey lets your subscribers get to know you,
which helps to build trust. After all, we’d all rather buy from people we know.
“Subject: The most important thing to know about knife skills. Hi Jane,
I spent more than four years trying to improve my knife skills,
so that I can go from someone who gets scared of hard recipes to someone
who happily pursues them. I learned A LOT in those four
years, and yes, I got much better. But I also learned a few things along the
way that, if I had known them on day one, I probably would have become an expert a
lot faster. Today, I want to share one of them with you: A sharp knife is
worth 1,000 hours of practice. A friend of mine is a restaurant chef,
and I asked him to come over and teach me a few things. Secretly, I was
also excited to show him the fancy German knife I had bought a few months
prior. I had been practicing with it, and it just looked so…cool.
The first thing he does is show me a technique for slicing tomatoes (I could
never do this without getting tomato juice all over the cutting board). Ready
for him to tell me how impressed he was, I sheepishly hand him my expensive
knife. He takes one look at it and grins. Except instead of praising my
excellent taste, he says “yeah, I can see why you were having
trouble. This thing is dull as a rock.” What he taught me that day,
and what restaurant chefs have always known, is that the most important
part of cutting well and (safely)… More important than the type of knife you
choose. More important than how expensive or cheap it is. And yes, more important
than your technique, even. …is how sharp your knife is.
A cheap knife that’s sharpened well will outperform an expensive dull
knife, 10 times out of ten. And it’s actually not that hard to keep
your knives sharp! A simple $30 tool can keep your knives razor-sharp for life
(here’s a YouTube video on how to use it). And if you do nothing else to improve your
knife skills, keep your knives sharp with monthly honing. It’s a
game-changer. That’s all for today. I hope this helps you. Tomorrow,
I’ll share something I’ve been working on that could help you transform your
knife skills, no matter how advanced (or not) you are today. Best, Remy.”
Now it’s time for the pitch. In this email, we’re going to outline what
our course offers, and why it would be a great solution for the reader. This is
also a good place to point out who the course is not right for. You’re
in this for the long haul and ensuring that you only attract students
that are a good fit for your course will help you build a tribe of delighted and
successful students rather than ones who quit your course because they’re not a
good fit. Just like the other emails, we’re going to keep this one personal.
Your readers are buying from you, so your personality needs to come through.
“Subject: Finally: Learn to Cut with Confidence. Hi Jane,
Over the last couple of days, I’ve shared some stories with you from my
own journey to mastering knife skills. It took me a LONG time,
and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I took dozens of knife
skills classes, from the local kitchenware shop to the culinary institute.
I read every book and watched every YouTube video I could get my hands on.
I even hired a professional chef to coach me for a day. And while I’ve learned an
incredible amount, I’ve also come to understand something:
it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Out of everything I’ve learned, only
a few things – less than 10% – really matter when I step into my home kitchen
every day. All of that training was a great way to satisfy my curiosity,
and perhaps prep me for the culinary career I’ll never have…but as a home cook
who just wants to be more confident in the kitchen? It was too much.
The problem is that nobody offers to teach you those few key things,
and only those few key things. To really master knife skills for a home
kitchen, you either have to spend a ton of time or a ton of money (or both)
learning more than you need to, and then try to parse it for what’s
truly important. Until now. Over the past few months, I’ve
been working on distilling those key lessons into a course that’s designed
to teach you how to use a knife with confidence… No matter your current
skill level. No matter what knives you have. No matter what kind of
food you want to cook. And today, I want to share that course with you.
Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With Confidence is a five-week course that will
help you overcome any hesitation you have in the kitchen, so that you can: Tackle
any recipe you see with confidence. Actually finish cooking recipes in the
time listed on the recipe (or, often, faster!) And impress your friends and
loved ones with our chef-like abilities. The course is now available,
and I invite you to enroll today. Learn More and Enroll Now.
Looking forward to seeing you in the course. Best, Remy.” All right,
we’ve made our first pitch, but our prospect still has some
reservations. And why shouldn’t they? We all want to make sure that we’re
investing our money and time wisely, so it makes sense that they want to take
some time to think about whether they should buy your course. In this email,
we’re going to answer some of those key questions that they might be
wondering about. “Subject: Questions about the course? Hi Jane,
Yesterday I told you about my new course, Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With
Confidence. Today, I’m going to share a few questions that I’ve been getting about
the course, in case it helps you decide whether it’s right for you. How
much time does the course take to complete? The course includes 5
modules, with roughly 10 minutes of video each, and several worksheets.
The coursework can be completed in about an hour each week,
but the more you practice, the faster you’ll see results.
I recommend setting aside two hours per week. Do I need to buy new
knives for the course? Probably not! The course will show you the techniques
that work with many different kinds of knives. And rest assured,
if you do need a new knife, you don’t need an expensive one.
The course has recommendations for some great knives that are under $30.
What if it doesn’t work for me? That’s what the money-back guarantee is
for. If for any reason in the first 30 days, you’re unhappy with your
purchase, just email me and I’ll refund your tuition. Have any questions not
covered here? Reply to this email and let me know. Ready to
enroll? Learn More and Enroll Now. Hope to see you in the course. Best,
Remy.” All right, so maybe your subscriber hasn’t purchased yet, but they
haven’t unsubscribed either, so there’s a good chance they’re still
thinking about it. Let’s make one final pitch, a last attempt that’s going
to show them why they should act now and not ignore the problem any longer.
This is also a good time to get them to reach out to you if they
have any questions at all. “Subject: Dinner next month. Hi Jane,
Imagine that it’s Wednesday, March 24th. Five weeks from now. You come
home from work. It’s dinner time, but something is different. You’re
not thinking “should I get takeout, or grab something out of the freezer?”
You’re not resigning yourself to another night of leftovers. You grab some
fresh veggies out of your fridge, and you start chopping, not
thinking twice about it. You’re calm, steady and completely in your comfort
zone. A few ingredients and 20 minutes later, you’ve prepared a
beautiful, healthy and delicious meal from scratch. It would have taken you
over an hour to make something like this before. Not that it matters,
since you probably wouldn’t have considered a recipe with so much prep.
But that day, you breeze through it, and you reap the rewards of a wholesome,
tasty dinner that you made yourself. That’s the level of skill and confidence
that Knife Skills 101 is built to instill, and if you enroll today,
you can achieve that in just five short weeks. But to get there,
you need to take that first step. Enroll Now. Hope to see you in the course.
Best, Remy. P.S. The course is backed by a 30-day money back guarantee.
If you’re not happy, you get your money back,
no questions asked.” And that’s it, a five-step email sequence that you are
free to steal and use for your own course. Again, you’re going to improve on this
first version with time as you get to know what works and what doesn’t work
for your specific audience. But don’t overcomplicate things when you’re just
getting started. It’s way more important to get this out the door than it is to
spend countless hours trying to get it perfect. A simple and effective email
sequence can be the difference between a course that falls flat and one that’s
a monumental sales success. But you don’t have to be a professional
copywriter to create one. Just follow a proven framework,
and you’ll be selling in no time. ♪ [music] ♪ A sales page can turn prospects
into online course customers, or it could confuse them and scare them
away. But you don’t have to be a professional copywriter to
create an effective sales page. Here’s how to build a sales page that
converts. Writing an effective sales page is like writing great marketing copy for
any project. If you’ve already done the hard work to really understand your
audience and what they’re trying to accomplish, then the hardest
part is already finished. Now, there are plenty of great copywriting
formulas out there if you search on Google, but the one that we recommend
is the simple and straightforward PAS formula by the legendary copywriter
Dan Kennedy. PAS stands for problem, agitate, solution. And to use it,
you just write your sales page in the following order. What is the problem that
your course solves for your students? State it at the very top of your sales
page. That’s your headline. Remember, don’t worry about wordsmithing
anything. Just use the words that you’ve seen your audience using to describe
their challenges. Next, A, agitate. What are the pains that this problem
causes for your prospects? List them here in the next section, both
as a reminder and a warning of what the cost of not solving the problem could be.
If you’ve been following along in the past videos, one thing you’ll notice as we
go through the sales copy is that if you’ve done the research beforehand,
you can actually repurpose a lot of the sales copy that you used from your emails
on your sales page. “I know I was. I’ve always loved reading cookbooks
and browsing cooking sites, dreaming about making all of the fancy
dishes they contained… But dreaming about it was where it stopped.
Because as I read the steps, I knew that I wasn’t going to tackle
these dishes, for three reasons: My version would come out NOTHING
like the photos in the recipe (I’d call it “rustic”, but really it would just look
sloppy). It would take me way, way longer to cook than recipes said they
should. It would come out wrong because I’d see steps in the recipe that seemed
tedious, and skip them altogether (“Butterfly the chicken?
NOPE”) A few years ago, I was watching a cooking show where
home cooks competed to create their best dishes, which then got judged by
professional chefs. As one of the home cooks frantically struggled to finish her
dish on time, the “celebrity chef” judge snidely remarked: “My 3-year old has
better knife skills.” In that moment, I realized two things: First,
that either he’s a jerk, or the producers told him to act like one.
And second, that my “knife skills” – although I never thought of them
that way – were exactly like hers! I have to be honest: even though
they were directed at some lady I’d never met, Michael’s
comments made me feel pretty bad about myself. Despite the fact that I
liked to cook, I was a complete amateur when it came to knife skills.” Finally,
the big reveal. Share the solution to the reader’s problem and why they should act
on it right now. “I’ll always remember that moment as the one when I decided to
do something about it. And I’m glad I did. Because it made me realize that ALL of
those fears in the kitchen – about my food not coming out right, about
recipes taking too long – had nothing to do with me not being a
great chef…and had everything to do with knife skills. After years of
working on my knife skills, and lots of trial-and-error, I’m more confident
in the kitchen than ever. I see recipes that call for complicated
cuts – did somebody call for a brunoise? – or chopping huge piles of vegetables,
and I’ll just smile and say “bring it on.” It’s made cooking at home SO much more
fun, and the look on my friends’ faces when they see me in the kitchen is
priceless. “I didn’t know you were a chef!” (I’m not, of course. I’ve
just learned to cut like one.) It may seem like a trivial thing, but I
can honestly say that developing great knife skills has changed my life.
And if you’ve ever been frustrated by how long a recipe takes to make, or backed
down from cooking a dish because you were intimidated by it, or felt
bad that you couldn’t impress your date with a gorgeous meal…then
it can change your life, too. But I’ll be honest…it took me a LONG
time, and I made a lot of mistakes along the way. I took dozens
of knife skills classes, from the local kitchenware shop to the
culinary institute. I read every book and watched every YouTube video I could get my
hands on. I even hired a professional chef to coach me for a day.
And while I’ve learned an incredible amount, I’ve also
come to understand something: it doesn’t have to be that complicated.
Out of everything I’ve learned, only a few things – less than 10% – really
matter when I step into my home kitchen every day. All that training was a
great way to satisfy my curiosity, and perhaps prep me for the culinary
career I’ll never have…but as a home cook who just wants to be more confident
in the kitchen? It was too much. The problem is that nobody offers
to teach you those few key things, and only those few key things.
To really master knife skills for a home kitchen, you either have to spend a
ton of time or a ton of money (or both) learning more than you need to,
and then try to parse that for what’s truly important. Until now.
Over the past few months, I’ve been working on distilling those key
lessons into a course that’s designed to teach you to use a knife with
confidence… No matter your current skill level. No matter what knives you
have. No matter what kind of food you want to cook. And today, I want to share that
course with you. Knife Skills 101: Learn To Cut With Confidence is a
five-week course that will help you overcome any hesitation you have
in the kitchen, so that you can: Tackle any recipe you see with confidence.
Actually finish cooking recipes in the time listed on the recipe (or, often,
faster!) And impress your friends and loved ones with our chef-like abilities.
The course is now available, and I invite you to enroll today.”
And there it is. An effective sales page doesn’t have to be complicated.
Just by using a simple formula like PAS, you can create a sales page that
connects deeply with your audience. And before you launch, there
are two other accessories that you might want to consider for your sales page
that could drive conversion rates up. The first is called social proof.
Social Proof is a psychology concept that’s often used in marketing. In fact,
you’ve probably seen it used more than once today. According to Dr.
Robert Cialdini, in his famour book,Influence,we view a behavior as more
correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.
Simply put, if you want to convince someone that something is a good idea,
show them that other people think it’s a good idea, too. You’ll see this often on
websites in the form of testimonials, and client logos, and you can use it to
your advantage by including testimonials from past students who have completed your
course. Launching your course for the first time? No problem. You can
still use testimonials to get your prospective students to trust you by
getting testimonials from people who can attest to your skills, even if
they haven’t taken the course, just like this. The second sales
page accessory to consider is a money-back guarantee.
This is what we call risk reversal. Risk reversal is exactly what it sounds
like. It removes the risk from buying your product. For online courses,
the most common way to do this is with a money-back guarantee.
Here’s what Joanna Wiebe, a course creator, and the
founder of Copy Hackers, said about money-back guarantees. I hope that these copywriting tips show
you that great copywriting doesn’t require being a great writer, it just requires
being thoughtful and thorough. And that’s it. That’s everything that
you need to know to create and sell a profitable online course. Selling
courses can be incredibly rewarding, and I hope that I’ve convinced you
to get started. If you like this video, and if you have any questions at all,
just leave a comment and let me know. I appreciate you watching. ♪ [music] ♪