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- 7 Easy steps guide to launch your online course successfully
How many course creators create their online course content even before they know they have an audience or not? The answer is too many! So many course creators spend hours and hours developing their content, then spend days and sometimes months recording and editing high-production quality videos. Only to find out later that they don’t have an audience to sell to. I made this mistake not once but two times. I created my course on how to build a website. Although this course has a huge audience the problem was I didn’t have any audience. I spent literally two months just recording the course. Then I created an online course on how to build funnels. Same mistake this time as well. The only good thing about this course was I spent just a couple of weekends on it. But then I found the real secret sauce for creating and selling the course. In this article, I will give you a step-by-step process to launch your course even if you don’t have an audience. What will be our process to launch online course? Before I break down the steps, I would like to summarise what we are going to do here. We will conduct a short training session online through Zoom. We are going to promote this training through Facebook ads. At the end of the training, you are going to share the details of your flagship program and present attendees with a sales page. People who register for your flagship program will be added to your Facebook group and then you are going to deliver your course live, one day each week. So, let’s get started. Condense your content for the webinar You must have an idea about your course in your mind. If you convert your idea into videos, it can be a six-hour-long training or even more. But for the webinar, you need to condense it to just one hour. Call it a webinar training or masterclass or whatever you want. Make sure you cover your process or your framework in this one-hour training. You don’t want to give everything and at the same time, it should not be too thin. At the end of the training, your attendees should feel that they have learned something. At no point, they should feel they have wasted one hour on nothing. Read more about mapping your course in my other article. Prepare the presentation Once you have mapped out your course, you need to bring it to some visual medium. It’s better to create a presentation using any of the tools you are comfortable with. It can be Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote, Canva, Google Slides or something else. Your presentation should have only one point on one slide. If there is too much information on the slides, people will tend to read the slides rather than listen to you. Now, this presentation is not just an informational presentation. But it’s a sales presentation. At the end of the presentation, you are going to pitch your course. So be ready for a pitch. Even if you are uncomfortable doing a sales pitch, buckle up and do it. And don’t think what the attendees are going to say. If they are pissed off they will leave. It doesn’t matter. Those who will stay may buy your course. You will be providing the link to your sales page. Few tips for the sales pitch Include bonuses. People like relevant bonuses, please don’t add crappy ones. Give timelimit. Although I am against putting a lot of sales pressure, still give some time for your audience to buy the course. You can keep a one-week deadline. Create a sales page and webinar registration page In the last point, we talked about the sales page. But how to create one? Where to host it? For this, we are going to use Systeme. Systeme is a sales funnel builder along with the ability to host courses. The best point about Systeme is it’s FREE. You don’t have to spend a dime to create your sales page. But, which design to choose? If you will go to Systeme, you will find there are so many ready-to-use templates available that you don’t have to build anything from scratch. Also, you will need a sign-up page to register for the webinar. This page also can be created with Systeme. And not even that but you can also send reminder emails through Systeme. All you need to do is set up email automation. Remarkably this also is part of their free plan. Make sure you’ve registered on Stripe or Paypal to collect the payments. Run Facebook ads Now our basic infrastructure is ready. The sales page is done. And the presentation is done. Now, it’s time to bring people to your event. For this, you could do organic promotions, like posting on your Facebook page and group. Or collaborating with someone. However, the best way is to run Facebook ads. You can start with something as little as $10 per day. You can run a traffic-type Facebook ad and send traffic to the sign-up page you have created on Systeme. You can even run a lead-gen ad or a conversion ad but that’s out of the scope of this article. I will suggest you read up more on Facebook ads. Conduct your webinar Now it’s time to conduct your training. You can conduct this training over Zoom. However, make sure you have sent your Zoom invite via automated emails through Systeme. Make sure the following things are working Internet connection Laptop battery Webcam Mic (if you’re using an external one) Keep a disaster management plan in place. What if something stops working? What can I use to replace it? Don’t forget to record the training, because you then use it later on for evergreen webinars. Remember at the end of the webinar you have to share the link to the sales page. Create a secret Facebook group for your students Once people have registered for your online course. You can send them an invite to your private Facebook group. This will be good because you can interact with your students. Give them updates on when new lectures are being released and clear their doubts. Deliver your course Now, this is the real deal. Once you have your students inside your course, you are going to deliver them lectures of your online course every week. This could be once a week or twice a week. It completely depends on you. And I will suggest you deliver them live. You understand more about your audience through live interactions than recorded ones. And of course, you will be recording these live lectures, because then you can use them later on and at the same time the students who could not come live will be able to watch the videos. So, this is the 7-step process you are going to follow. Conclusion The best part about this process of building an online course empire is you build your audience and then sell. Instead of creating first and then searching for the audience. So, go ahead and follow this process and launch your online course. I am sure you will be successful.
- 5 Extremely useful tips to plan your course content
If you want to provide transformational content to your audience then you need to plan your course content in a meticulous way. Your aim as a course creator is to take your students from point A where they are facing issues to point B where they are pain-free and their problems are solved. Creating that smooth journey is your primary job. If it’s bumpy and hectic then you have failed as a course creator. So, let’s look at the five extremely useful tips to plan your content Map the journey with milestones The first step in planning your course is to Identify the problems your audience is facing, that will be your point A. You already know what the end result of your course is going to be, so that’s your point B. Now, your job is to find out the major 5-6 milestones in that course. For example, in my WordPress for Everyone course, I have 6 different milestones Identify the objective of your website Finalize the sitemap and mindmap of your website Create rough designs of your website, finalize colours and typography Install WordPress and set up themes and plugins Build your website Make is secure So, these are the major 6 milestones in my course. They start with nothing and have no idea of what they want and the outcome will be a completely secure website. Here are some tips to create this journey Each milestone should be major. Your students should feel that they have achieved something at the end of each milestone. Don’t go beyond 6 milestones, otherwise, your course will become a long drawn-out course and students may leave it. This is how you can use the journey method to plan your course. Create a framework Sometimes you cannot map your course in a linear journey format. In that case, you can create some sort of framework. For example, I had a blogging course and it used the 4P framework. Each P had some meaning and students would complete one part and then move on to the next or whatever part they want to. Frameworks usually don’t force the journey on the students and students are free to take the path they want to. Bushra Azhar, a prominent online marketer and course creator has created a framework called The Eight Psychological Switches. Same way Russel Brunson has created multiple such frameworks. Perfect Webinar Secrets One Funnel Away Challenge 5 Days Lead Challenge And many more such frameworks. So, when the journey is going to be a non-linear one then opt for a framework-based module. Actions are important Every module in your course, be it a milestone or part of your framework, should contain some actions. A lot of courses focus so much on theory or even the DIY part is so poorly done that it’s not useful. Just an example, I joined the Email List Building course for about two years and one of the modules was using Facebook ads to build your email list. It talked about creating traffic ads, conversion ads and integrating Facebook Pixel with your website. However, all that DIY part was shown through multiple screenshots and not actual step-by-step videos. You should show students how to do something and then actually ask them to do it. You can even ask them to upload their work somewhere for their peers to review it. Unless and until you add actions to your course, you are creating just a preaching video that has no real meaning to your students. So, whenever you are planning your course, make sure you are adding enough actions for your students to take. Avoid information overload Let me give you a simple example. In my course WordPress for Everyone, I teach non-technical entrepreneurs how to build their own websites. This course completely focuses on WordPress and gives a step-by-step guide to building your website. Now, I wanted to I could have added information regarding how plugins work. How do themes work? How do websites work? It’s easy for me to create this content and add it. But I didn’t. Do you know why? Because my audience doesn’t need to know this. All they care about right now is to build their website, make it live and start earning money. They don’t need deep information regarding the web and the different technological information. If I had given this information, then either of the following things could have happened Getting overwhelmed with excess information and quitting Too long course with too much unnecessary information Request for refund Inherently we course creators consider that if we put more information into the course, we will make it more useful. But that’s counterintuitive. Remember, your students are already fed up with unnecessary information. You don’t want to bother them more with excess information. Worksheets, quizzes and exercises You must ensure your students are excited to go through your course. And one way to make sure they remain engaged is to add worksheets, quizzes and exercises. If your course only contains videos or only one type of content then your students won’t remain as engaged as they would with different types of content. These things also give your students a sense of accomplishment. My take I will suggest don’t start building your course haphazardly. Take your time to plan your course. However, do ensure that you are not stuck in analysis paralysis. Your course content may not be perfect to start with, but it should be at least closer to the points I have mentioned above. So, go ahead and map out your journey, or create a groundbreaking framework and start working on your course. When you have the end result that you want to give to your students then working on all these things will become easier. Best of luck 🙂 If you want to know, how you can host your online course for free without paying a dime then you should read the other article I have written. Click here to read more about it. I have also written about the myths that will hamper your course creation process. You can read about the myths by clicking here.
- 3 Important reasons why passive income is not really passive
Yesterday I received a call from one of my students who said he wanted to understand the different opportunities in passive income. He was running his boutique digital marketing agency but he said he is too busy and doesn’t have any time to do anything else. So he wants to understand how he can explore passive income, sign up for affiliate programs, and earn passive income so that he can reduce the emphasis or the hours he is putting in active work. From my experience, I told him passive income is not really passive and you have to work really hard to make it passive income. In other words, you have to be very active to earn passively. People read different success stories in blogs and articles they watch videos on YouTube regarding how people earn 10k per month and 20k per month through passive income. Unfortunately, they don’t understand or don’t know what goes behind setting up the system to earn 10k or 20k per month. So, in this article, I am going to share 3 reasons why passive income is not really passive and you need to be really active in order to earn passive income. But before that let’s see the ways you can earn passive income Ads One way is to earn through ads you can sign up for Google AdSense or Ezoic and place different ads on your website. And if you have a good amount of traffic you can earn a decent amount through ads. You can also monetize your YouTube channel, however, you need at least 1,000 subscribers and 4,000 watch hours to be eligible for the YouTube monetization program. Affiliates The second way is to earn through affiliates. Let’s say you are a digital marketing agency and you are using multiple tools in your agency. And most of these tools have affiliate programs and you can sign up for these affiliate programs and promote them through your blog by writing some articles. You can place affiliate links in your article that provide value to your readers. These are the two major ways of earning a passive income Generating traffic Generating income through your blog or through your videos is a numbers game. You need to bring as many people on your website to make sure you earn a decent amount. Let me give you one example. I was watching the Income School YouTube channel, which shows how you can earn through blogging and affiliate programs. And in one of their videos, they said you need to write at least 150 articles in the first 3 months for your blog to generate decent traffic. Now that means 150 articles in 90 days which translates to 1.6 articles per day. There are two ways you can write these articles either do it yourself or outsource it to someone. But you cannot outsource 150 articles to somebody else because your blog needs to have your own voice. So you need to write at least let’s 100 articles. Do you think writing 90 articles is a passive thing? Of course not right from doing keyword research to finding what should be written in the article and then actually writing the article refining it is a long arduous process. There is nothing passive in writing these many articles. Now blogging is one thing but what about YouTube videos? It is advised you should put at least 2 videos per week. Now, video creation is a lot more difficult process than writing a blog. Because you need a script then you need at least a minimum gear to shoot your videos and then you need editing software, music, and B-Roll videos. From my personal experience, I spend about 10 to 12 hours creating a 15-minute video. Now, I am not a very proficient person in talking about videos, but considering I am a beginner and assuming you are also a beginner you need to spend at least half a day creating a 15-minute video. So, you can multiply 10-12 hours by the number of videos you want to create per week and find the time in your schedule. Again I want to ask you the question. Do you think creating videos is a passive activity? Value-added content Creating content day in and day out is a difficult job. Writing your first 50 articles or shooting your first 50 videos will be a fairly easy task, but then you will start running out of ideas. And that’s when you are really thrown a challenge. You need to understand who is your readers or viewers of your videos, understand their problems, understand what they want to learn and then you need to do a lot of research. Then only you will be able to come up with multiple topics that are worthy of your audience’s time. So are you ready to slug it out and find out the different topics, do extensive research and then actually execute your plan and create that content? As you could have understood by now, creating content is not a one-day activity and you need to be involved very actively in the process of content creation. Create it and they will come your way This is one of the biggest with passive income. That you need to create your content one time and they will come your way. It’s not like that, you need to bring the traffic to your content. now you can do that through collaborations, through social media, or any other medium that you think of. You need to be on your toes because as I said this is a traffic game. The more traffic you have the more will be your income. And to bring that traffic you need to work really hard to find out the different sources of traffic work on the sources and bring people to your site. Sometimes you even have to edit your previously created content. For example, you might have created one article on which plugins are best for creating a membership site. But now some of these plugins are either old or their owners are no longer maintaining them. Then you need to go ahead and edit your article and say that this plugin is no longer working or you removed it altogether or you find out the new ones and add it to the old list. But for that, you need to be active. So these are the 3 reasons why passive income is not really passive. Understand passive income What is passive income? In the terms that I understand passive income means you create some assets and then you earn through those assets without working too much on the asset that has been already created. For example, you might be an author, you have written a book on web development and now that book is getting sold on Amazon or through your website. Now, this is the asset that you have created that is earning you money. What does it mean you don’t have to work on your book again altogether? No, it’s not like that. You still have to publish further revisions, add new content, and remove old content that is not relevant anymore. The same way goes for your blogging, you should write articles that will be evergreen and won’t need too many edits down the line. So passive income is actually a passive income however in order to set it up and maintain it you need to be active. I will highly suggest you watch the Income School channel on YouTube, they have excellent videos on generating passive income through affiliates and blogging. The link to the channel is given below. Income School Just to mention I am not affiliated with them in any way however I am a regular consumer of their content. Read more about how you can host your online course for free.
- The sad truth behind the high ticket courses
To date, I have signed up for three high-ticket courses. However, my experience with the two of them is not very good. I could easily find the same information on Udemy and Skillshare which cost a fraction of what I paid for the high-ticket course. The one high-ticket course was transformational so I am not saying that all the high-ticket courses are bad or have poor quality. Before we start let’s define what are high ticket courses. Now for someone, it could mean a $2000 course for someone it could be a $10,000 course. But for all practical purposes let’s call all the courses above $2000 high-ticket courses. Focus on sales than the actual course Selling something at a very high price requires you to be a good salesperson and when we are talking about online courses the same thing is done either by the salespeople or the sales page. What I found is a lot of high-ticket course creators focus so much on sales that they forget there is an actual course to be delivered. People are buying your courses because they are facing some problem and they want a solution to that problem if your course is not providing that solution then it’s of no use. Let me tell you my experience of one such email list-building course. So when I started my online course business I wanted to build my email list, my audience. I so badly wanted to build my audience that I jumped on the signup page instantly. But on the signup page, there were multiple timing options and I thought how could this person deliver webinars of 1-hour length with a gap of 15 minutes between them? Difficult right? Because nowhere on that page it was written that it’s a recorded webinar and not a live one. The webinar was portrayed as a live webinar with fake comments. But I didn’t know that. I was young and I was naive. I fell for the marketing and I bought the high-ticket course of building an email list. And to my dismay, the course contained so much useless content that I felt what warranted this course creator to charge such a high fee for this course. There was one module in this course that talked about Facebook Ads for building your email list but there was no step-by-step process shown. It was shown through a presentation with screenshots of different Facebook screens and that’s it. So when you are talking about using Facebook ads to build your audience your students are going to expect that you are going to show step by step process. But unfortunately, that step-by-step process was part of another high-ticket course. Now, these things are called upsells. I feel selling high-ticket courses is putting a lot of pressure on course creators and they are completely focused on the revenue rather than the result. I’m not saying that they should not make money they should. even if I want to make money with my online courses there should be some correlation between the value of the course and its cost. Low-quality bonuses Now let’s come to value in the previous point I spoke of, there should be some relation between value and cost. Now the course creators have become expert marketers rather than expert course creators. There is a fashion of adding multiple bonuses on your sales page. For example, they will add a bonus saying you will get access to their Facebook group and the actual cost of joining this group is $999 but you are getting it for free. Is the real cost of that Facebook group $999? Just to inflate the price of the course multiple such bonuses are added which are actually of no value. So 5-6 such bonuses are added each costing $999 or $1999, sometimes even higher, making the cost of the course in the range of $10,000 or $20,000. And then they will say, they are not going to charge you this amount instead you are going to get it for $1999. So many new people fall for this stuff and the bi this course at a high price thinking that they are getting a good discount or a good offer. Not just that there is a fake timer also on this sales page. The fake urgency created by the sales page compels the person to buy the course at a very high price. There are so many good course creators who absolutely don’t add any bonuses and just sell on the actual value of the course. I feel these are the real course creators who want transformation in their students A lot of fluff in the so-called high-ticket course Now this problem is not specific to only ticket courses but it is applicable across the board. But when you find there is a lot of fluff in a $20 course versus a $2000 course, it makes you think what was the purpose of charging such a high price. I believe a course should take your student from point A to point B without any fluff without any misdirection and without wasting his or her time. It has become a fashion for high-ticket course creators to add mindset-related videos in their courses when it’s not required. It gives them a gateway route if you fail. They will say you don’t have the right mindset to succeed. In yesteryears, a student's failure was considered a teacher’s failure but now the teacher will say you have failed because you haven’t worked correctly or you don’t have the right mindset. My take Let me make it very clear I am not against people who are selling high-ticket courses. But I am against course creators who are unnecessarily adding fake urgency, a lot of fluff and low-quality bonuses just to increase the cost of the course. Course creators should charge the real value of the course rather than the inflated one. There are a lot of gullible people who are not financially well off falling for this marketing trap and losing their hard-earned money. That is what I am against. Read more about the myths that can hamper your online course business.
- 5 Course hosting platforms rated as per their ease of use
We course creators have a plethora of options for hosting our courses. That’s a good thing because the course hosting companies are always on their toes and want to give us better tools for us. The bad thing is that the new course creators don’t know which one to choose from the different tools available. This problem has caused a lot of problems for new course creators. They are stuck so much in the tech-loop, that they don’t select one tool and run with it. Instead, they spend hours and hours reviewing different tools. So, in this article, we will talk about seven popular course hosting platforms and we will arrange them by the ease of their usage. Podia (Ease of use rating 9/10) This is the first, course hosting platform I have used. And I was so happy with it. The only reason I switched from Podia was that it didn’t integrate with the payment gateway I wanted. I hosted more than 2000 students on Podia and both me and my students were very satisfied using it. The biggest advantage of Podia is, it’s minimalistic. And when you’re just starting with your online course business, you want something minimalistic. Having too many options will drive you to use them and lose your focus. Having very few options to choose from makes Podia one of the best course hosting platforms for the new course creators. But does that mean Podia cannot scale with your business or it looks very basic? No, on the other hand, Podia looks sophisticated and modern. Features of Podia Course hosting Video hosting Membership sites Sales pages Checkout Integration with PayPal and Stripe Webinars Email marketing Podia costs $37 per month on its basic plan. Check out Podia New Zenler (Ease of use rating 8/10) This is my current course hosting platform. I was sceptical about moving from Podia which was working very well for me. But, New Zenler turned out to be one of the best course hosting platforms, I have used. New Zenler is comparable to Kajabi in its features. However, they have a very simple workflow and an easy-to-use dashboard. I have used Kajabi for a very short duration but whatever I found in it was confusing. New Zenler has an easy-to-use dashboard. You can quickly find out different options. The biggest ease of use with New Zenler is everything related to the course is available inside the settings of that course. Pricing, curriculum, sales page and all the things related to a particular course are inside one single screen. The page builder provided by New Zenler is easy to use for a beginner and there are a lot of templates available which you can use. If you want a full-featured course hosting platform at a low monthly price then New Zenler is the way to go. Features of New Zenler Course hosting Video hosting Membership sites Sales pages Checkout Integration with PayPal and Stripe Webinars Communities Email marketing Email automation Marketing funnels If you want to have a system that has more features than Podia, then New Zenler is the way to go. Also if you’re a course creator from India then, you get Razorpay integration out of the box which will save you hundreds of dollars on Zapier. This was the sole reason for my shift from Podia to New Zenler. Currently, New Zenler is available at a monthly price of $67. Check out New Zenler Thinkific (Ease of use rating 7.5/10) Thinkific is one of the best-looking tools out there it’s cost-effective and it provides a free plan as well. If you look at the screenshot above you can see that all the options are laid out in a very easy-to-understand manner. , Thinkific is used by many of the popular and successful course creators. However Thinkific has Limited features on its $49 a month plan, and if you want more features you need to upgrade your account to either a $99 plan or a $499 plan. If you want to use Zapier actions and triggers then you need to use the $99 plan, whereas in the case of both Podia and New Zenler Zapier actions and triggers are available on all plans starting from their basic plan. You will need Zapier as your online course business grows, therefore having support for both actions and triggers on the basic plan is very important. But that’s about the commercial part of Thinkific. Since we are talking about the ease of use Thinkific is easy to figure out for a beginner. The page builder they have provided for building sales pages and other static pages like the home page is very easy to use. It’s bug-free minimalistic and at the same time modern and sophisticated. Check out Thinkific Teachable (Ease of use rating 6/10) Teachable is probably the first option that many of the course creators look at. it’s very popular and used by very successful online course creators like Pat Flynn, and Melyssa Griffin. Teachable is probably the cheapest of all hosting platforms to start with available at just $29 per month if you pay annually. When it comes to user-friendliness Teachables page builder is not very sophisticated and pretty basic. When I started building the page using Teachable, there were very few options available. Somehow the landing pages for the sales pages built with Teachable look a little old. And if you compare it with Aodia or Thinkific you will see a drastic difference. However, the process of creating the course and managing your students is very easy in teachable. Creating your curriculum and laying out your lessons is also very intuitive and easy. Similar to Thinkific, Teachable’s cost increases rapidly with higher plans. And it treats Zapier similarly to Thinkific. Check out Teachable Kajabi (Ease of use rating 4/10) Kajabi is a full-featured course hosting platform available at a premium price of $149 per month. Most of the highest-grossing course creators are using Kajabi to run their online course business. So, if you look at their community it’s filled with high-achieving course creators. However, when we are talking about ease of use Kajabi is probably one of the most difficult course hosting platforms to use particularly for beginners. Creating a course and attaching a landing page to it involves multiple steps. You need to create a pipeline attach it with your course and then you are done, but if you look at New Zenler everything is in one place. But that’s not the case with Kajabi. To create a simple course on Kajabi I had to spend almost a day which was achieved in just a couple of hours on Podia. If you are a new course creator I will suggest you go with either Podia or New Zenler. Kajabi is available at dollar 149 per month on its basic plan Check out Kajabi My take on course hosting platforms I will suggest you pick New Zenler and start building your course. Because news handler is both easy to use and cost-effective. Check out my other article on how to host your course for free by clicking here.
- 3 Dangerous myths that may hamper your course quality
New course creators often come up with some preconceived ideas regarding how their course should be like. Some of these ideas are harmless but some of them are dangerous for your online course business and they will stop your business from taking off. For example, I thought I need a video with super high production value. And there are such other myths that really hampered my growth and delayed launching my course. And I don’t want you to go through those hardships. That’s why I’m writing this article. So, in this article, we’re going to look at the different things that can affect the quality of your course. What’s the most important thing that a student wants in a course? Transformation and not information. That’s all. Transformation is the only thing, a student wants from your course. They are at point A, facing some problems and they want to move to point B, where they have no problem. As simple as that. What happens is we try to cram as much as information we possibly can, thinking that it will make the course valuable. Because we don’t want to overload people with information and provide no real transformation. Now, as a course creator, your only responsibility is to accompany your students on that journey and provide them with the necessary help to pass the hurdles. You want to solve their problem and not overload them with unactionable information. But what happens instead? We develop our course with some preconceived notions and degrade the quality of the course. So, let’s look at the three dangerous myths that may hamper your course quality. You need Marvel Studios quality shooting This is a big one. What happens is we’ve enrolled in some courses on either Udemy, Skillshare or some courses created by very popular course creators. Now, these courses have extremely high production value. The high production value is either because they’re already very successful course creators or they’ve ample money to spend on hiring a videographer and editor. But, you don’t have to fall into this trap. Remember the Point A to Point B journey? That’s right. You don’t need fancy videos, fancy edits and cinematic style shooting. All you need is videos that are engaging because of the information you’re sharing and not because of the different video gimmicks. You just need 4 things Your mobile camera / or a laptop webcam A good quality USB mic Screencasting software if you’re recording screens (software like Filmora, Screenflow, Camtasia, even Zoom can work) Editing software (Filmora, iMovie, Screenflow, Camtasia) That’s it. Only these 4 simple things are required to create videos for your online courses. Audio matters! Even if your camera is bad it doesn’t matter, but you need a good mic. I use BlueYeti for my videos but any USB mic will work for you. If your students are not able to hear you properly then they won’t be able to consume your course and it may happen that they will not complete it altogether. So many course creators, don’t even start shooting because they don’t have the best quality gear. Yes, the high production value is definitely desired, but only after you have validated the course and more and more students are joining it. Be minimalistic, when you are starting. Don’t aim for the stars. Duration of the course is important I have signed up for many courses on Udemy with the duration of the course more than 40 hours. How many of them, I have completed? Almost none. Were these bad courses? No. They were fairly good. But 40 hours to learn something that can be learnt in let’s say 10 hours is what I want. I want the shortest path to success like you and thousands of others. Nobody wants super-long courses. People are looking for courses with reasonable duration. Ask yourself if you want to go from Point A to Point B, do you want to drive for 2 hours or 8 hours. And you have your answer! You need an expensive course hosting platform with all the features to be successful You see a lot of course creators hosting their courses on Kajabi or Thinkific. So, naturally, you will also want to host your courses on these platforms. But do you need them when you are just starting out? No, not really. You can read in my other article that, you can in fact start delivering courses for free. There are tools like Systeme and New Zenler which will allow you to deliver your courses for free. Of course, there will be some limitations, but you don’t need a full-featured suite when you are just starting. Many course creators either invest too much in course hosting platforms and sales funnel builders in their initial days as course creators. The worst thing they wait for the money to come in and delay the launch of their course. I made this mistake. And it just delayed the launch of my course. Some of the blame falls on the shoulders of the course hosting platform companies as well. They promote themselves as they’re the gateway to your success. Agreed, you need a good course hosting platform. But your hard work is going to make you a winner and not any tool. So, go ahead and don’t worry about using any expensive course hosting platform. Start with any tool you are comfortable with. My take All I want you to do is build a course that will help your students with going from point A to point B. Remember transformation. Super long or unnecessarily long courses with a lot of fluff are no-go. Nex thing is you don’t need expensive equipment, I spent heavy money on a gear which later on I found out is not required. You just need a good mic. That’s definitely a necessity. And finally, you can start with free tools like a Facebook group or Systeme which will help you host your courses. That being said, don’t fall for these myths, go ahead and build your first course.
- 5 Important reasons why you should never build a custom course hosting platform
Every course creator faces some or another issue with the course hosting platforms that are available. The issues range from lack of features, lack of support or lack of customisation. So, many times they feel like developing their own course hosting platform. Before I tell you the reasons why you should not think of building a course platform by yourself I want to give you a one-liner answer Should you build your own custom course hosting platform? The answer is no you should not. While building a custom course hosting platform may seem easy and fairly straightforward, but I must warn you it is not. There are so many moving parts involved in the back of a course hosting platform that apparently we don’t see it from the front. So let’s go ahead and look at the different reasons why you should not build your own custom course hosting platform. The development team and costs associated with it The companies building course hosting platforms spend immense time and money on the development of the tool. Right from ideation of the software, finding different actions associated with different users like what a student can do, what a teacher can do and what an admin can do? In the development of a course hosting platform, people from multiple disciplines are involved., You need an analyst, who will find out the exact requirements and help developers understand these requirements. These people are primarily involved in the documentation part of software development. They study the software in-depth and create a document mentioning each and every minute detail. Then of course you need programmers Who will do the actual development work and then there are user experience designers who will determine how your software will look like and how it will behave. Finally, to test what the developers have done, you have testers. Testers will do you in-depth testing, finding out every little small bug present in the system. And again the development team will fix these bugs. As you can see there are many people involved in the process and these people will cost you a huge amount of money if you are aiming to build a team that is technically proficient. Maintaining over a long period of time Many non-technical course creators feel that creating a course hosting platform is a one-time thing however it’s not. Even the biggest of the companies face the issue of maintaining their tool over a period of a long time. For example, in the previous section, we talked about testers finding the bugs. And it may seem like finding these bugs is a one-time thing, but the thing is when you actually start using the software that you have built you will find many more bugs. You need a dedicated team of programmers who will keep on weeding out the bugs. Moreover, technology changes every now and then so you need to be on your toes as far as technology goes. Using old Technology will increase vulnerability to security issues and threats. Sometimes even with the good technology and all the security in place hackers will get one step ahead of you so you need your team in place who will be looking after these things on a continuous basis. Disaster management What if everything goes wrong, your server crashes and you have lost your data. The data which contained information of the students, their billing information and their progress in different courses? You should have some recourse for this kind of disaster. You should be taking frequent backups, testing those backups time and time again. Many times it happens that the libraries you have used for developing your tool have some security loophole in them. Therefore your development team should always be looking out for such kind of information. As it will help them avoid the disaster because they can plug the loophole before the disaster happens. Time to market When you are running a business, time to market is very important. You should be able to launch your product or service in a timely manner. And this is true for your courses as well. So, when you decide to build your own course hosting platform instead of using ready-made platforms like Systeme, New Zenler, Thinkific, Teachable, Kajabi, Podia or any other such tool, you are increasing the time to market. Developing your own course platform will involve a lot of time. Depending upon the scope of your course hosting platform it can take from 2 months to even a year. So, the question you should be asking yourself is do you want to wait for such a long time? Can your business afford the investment in building the course hosting platform and at the same time waiting for your course to launch because your platform is not ready. This is the call that you have to take. Cost-benefit analysis Currently, tools available in the market to host your course like New Zenler, are available at a very competitive price of $67 per month. Even the costliest of them, Kajabi costs $149 per month. Now, you need to find out the cost of developing your own tool and then the cost of maintaining it over a long period of time. Find out how much is your return on investment and at what time you can recover your money. This is the very important analysis you should do before deciding and investing in building your own course hosting platform. So, what should you do? In my honest opinion, you shouldn’t build your own course hosting platform. Using already available tools should be the right way to go. Unless you’re very sure of the above points. Systeme Systeme is a free course hosting platform, and not just that, it’s also a sales funnel builder and email marketing solution. You get all the things you need to start and run your online course business. Read my review of Systeme by clicking here. Check out Systeme New Zenler I’m hosting more than 2000 students on New Zenler and I’m very happy with the quality of their platform. The issues are far and few; and the support is helpful as always. Check out New Zenler
- 5 Excellent platforms to build your thriving online community
Why build communities? Rounding up your ideal audience is the ideal way to monetize your offering. Imagine, if you have to go out and find new customers every day. Difficult right? But what if, we create a group of people who are your ideal customers, or are your current customers. It will be easier to sell to this group right? Because they are facing the problem you’re adept at solving. It’s a win-win situation. You get ready to monetize the audience and they get solutions to their problems. Here we are specifically talking about online communities. So, what are the different options to build online communities? Facebook Group This is the best and free way to start your group. There is almost no learning curve and both you and your audience are already on the platform or they are at least comfortable with using the platform. Facebook groups should be your go-to option when you’re just starting out. Importantly, the lack of a learning curve for both parties is a blessing. Since you are already on Facebook, you can easily create and manage the group. Even if you’re stuck there is ample help and information available to resolve the issue. The biggest issue with online communities is engagement and compelling members to use the community. As many of your members will be using Facebook often every day, you don’t have to take special efforts to bring them to your community. Plus whenever you post something or go live, your members will get notifications. The benefits of Facebook many times outweigh the tools that are specifically built for creating online communities. Read my post on why building your community outside Facebook may be a bad idea. Mighty Networks Mighty Networks is the go-to option for many high ticket coaches and people who already have experience in building an online community. Mighty Networks will cost you $33 per month on its basic plan and it increases to $99 on the next plan. I have personally used Mighty Networks when it was available at just $12 per month. I tried building my community on it as I already had close to 2000 students in my course. However, my students preferred using Facebook. When I asked why the resounding answer was they are so used to WordPress that they didn’t like the idea of learning something new. However, what I saw of Mighty Network was very impressive. The overall look and feel of Mighty Networks is modern. You will feel you’re using something very premium. Features of the basic version of Mighty Networks are as follows Community Website Native Livestreaming & Video Chat & Messaging Events & Zoom Integration Paid Memberships With a $99 per month plan, you get the following additional features Online Courses Live Cohort Course Creation Analytics & Member Data Zapier APIs & Workflows Sign up for a free trial of Mighty Networks Circle.so Circle is another paid tool to build your online community. The features of Circle are somewhat similar to Mighty Networks. However, the pricing is a little on the higher side. The base plan of Circle starts at $39 per month and increases to $79 and $399 on higher plans. The core features of Circle include Engaging discussions Rich member profiles Unlimited events Group chats & private messaging Private messaging Moderation iOS app Accept payments with Paywalls Custom domain Access to Circle’s own private customer community, workshops and trainings Sign up for a free trial of Circle Discord Discord is a group chatting application that has evolved into something bigger and has become a go-to application for creating communities. Many online entrepreneurs are using Discord to create support communities, many share traders are using it to share different tips and much more. However, with Discord, it may seem like it’s meant only for a certain audience, mainly a younger audience. As you can see from the screenshot above, the look of the discord room is fairly modern, and many people will feel overwhelmed. But if you get the hang of using Discord, it can be a very powerful tool. You can sign up on Discord for free and start creating your own community. I’m part of multiple communities that are built on Discord and I found it very effective. In the future, I’m contemplating switching to Discord from Facebook. Click here to sign up for Discord WhatsApp / Telegram / Signal These mobile messaging tools are becoming thriving communities. Who would have thought WhatsApp groups and Telegram groups are going to rule the world of communities. Be it shopping or help, WhatsApp groups are a real force to reckon with. However, with a WhatsApp group, you cannot go beyond 256 people in a single group, whereas with Telegram the limit is 200000. One issue, particularly with WhatsApp groups, is there is no way to hide your or other members’ phone numbers. Due to this, it can become both a privacy and security issue within no time. You need to have strict rules wherein if you should have control over what other members can do with each other’s phone numbers. I have more than 5 groups for my online courses where I support my students and I am quite happy with running them on WhatsApp. I have a group on Signal as well but that is not as thriving as a WhatsApp group. My take I’m of the opinion that, you should start building your community on Facebook, instead of building it on some paid tool. Paid tools like Circle and Mighty Network are very good, there is no doubt about that, but Facebook is easier for everyone. Additionally, when you are just starting with building the community, you don’t know whether it’s going to grow, and putting money in community building tools is not advisable. I made that mistake and ultimately found out that my audience liked Facebook better than anything else. Both the time and money invested in creating a community on Mighty Networks was a huge waste of time. However, this is not the fault of Might Networks. So, go ahead and start building your online community on Facebook and provide immense value.
- 4 Important reasons why you should not use WordPress to host your courses
Most of us already have a website built using WordPress right? Therefore it becomes a very natural option for us to use WordPress for hosting our courses. But is it that easy to use WordPress for hosting our courses or is it the right option for us if we are not technical? In this article, we are going to explore whether hosting your courses on a WordPress site is the right option for you. First, we’ll see the reasons why you should not choose WordPress and then we will move on to the reasons why you should choose. Reasons why you shouldn’t choose WordPress Highly technical WordPress is fairly technical to use you should be able to install themes and plugins required to make your website host courses. For that, you need to install plugins like Learndash, LlifterLMS or other such plugins. You should be very comfortable in updating those plugins, setting them up and making sure those plugins are not incompatible with each other. Additionally, you should be able to update WordPress whenever the new update comes while making sure the course hosting plugin you are using is compatible with the version of WordPress Backups Your WordPress site whether it is hosting courses or not requires frequent backups. Some of the hosting providers provide automatic backups at a certain frequency. For example, Siteground provides you with daily backups and the same goes for WPEngine and Kinsta. But if you are using shared hosting like Bluehost or Hostgator they do not provide automatic backups. So, either you have to purchase their backup service or take the backups manually using plugins like Updraftplus. Since you are storing the data of your students, their progress in the course, and their billing details, it is highly essential that you take backup. Losing the data of your student is disastrous. When you are using course hosting platforms like New Zenler, or Teachable, Thinkific or any such other tool, the backups are not your headache. Their system takes automated backups and you are completely shielded from that responsibility Security Every website whether it’s a course hosting platform for your static website is prone to malware attacks and hackers. And since we are storing the data of students it is our responsibility to make sure that it is safe and secure. Not just the data of the students, but if hackers get control of your website then things could get bad very quickly. So when you are using WordPress to host your courses you should be taking up the responsibility of security. Yes, the hosting does provide things like firewall and malware scanning yet you need to make sure that you are using safe and trusted themes and plugins. By chance, if you are using a sub-standard theme or a plugin then you are opening your site to two different kinds of vulnerabilities. Now, this responsibility is not on your shoulders when you are using a third-party course hosting platform. Scalability This is one of the major factor that is often ignored. a WordPress hosting or any hosting for that matter has its upper limit. So, let’s say you have a shared hosting used for hosting your WordPress based course platform then it can handle up to 500 students. Now, this number is just a random number and I don’t know exactly which hosting you are using and how capable it is. But it has some upper cap Therefore To handle more students you need to upgrade your hosting. Otherwise, the performance of your course hosting WordPress site will be hampered and the students will not get a seamless performance. You are courses on WordPress site If you are using a very cheap WordPress hosting. you need decent hosting like cloudways or Siteground which you can scale up very easily. So if you think, you don’t want to take responsibility for the above things then hosting your course on WordPress is not the right option. Now let’s look at the reasons why you should choose WordPress Reasons why you should choose WordPress Cost control With WordPress, you have control over everything, right from which hosting to use, which plugins to select and everything else. Except for changing the course hosting plugin, you can change almost everything. You can change the course hosting plugin also but that will involve super hard work and it’s not advisable to do so. But with other tools such as Kajabi, Thinkific, and more, you cannot control the costs. Kajabi costs $149 per month, but what if they increase the cost to $500 per month? You don’t have many options but to shift yourself to a different platform. This way, it’s easy for you to control your costs and keep a check on your finances. Customizable WordPress by its nature is highly customizable. If you hire a WordPress developer, then you can do anything and everything with WordPress. You have access to all the source code, which you can change to make it suitable for your requirements. That’s simply not possible with other tools. The core difference between WordPress and other tools is that WordPress is open source. Open source means you are allowed to change the source code. My take Even though I’m a WordPress developer, I rarely suggest, to host your courses on WordPress. There are too many moving parts, too many failure points and a lack of peace of mind. Unless you are a tech-savvy person willing to dip your hands in tech, plugins, themes and hosting; I will suggest not to go the WordPress to host your courses and stick to third-party tools. My suggestion If you want to build your course hosting platform for FREE, then you can sign up for Systeme. Systeme is free to use service to build not just your courses but you can create sales funnels, do email marketing, create automation and workflows etc. I have been using Systeme for my new venture and I couldn’t be happier. If you want to read why Systeme is better than ClickFunnels, click here. You can sign up for Systeme for free by clicking the button below. Sign up for Systeme for FREE
- Shopping list for building a WordPress website when you’re low on budget
- Is Podia a good option to host your online courses?
What’s my experience with Podia? I used Podia for more than two years and had hosted more than 2000 students in it and I faced absolutely no issues with Podia. My students were quite happy with the system. The only reason I switched from Podia to New Zenler was New Zenler had native integration with Pazorpay which is my choice of payment gateway and if I had to use Razorpay with Podia then I had to use Zapier. So to reduce my cost I switched to New Zenler and there was no other reason for switching from Podia That being said let’s look at the reasons why you should use Podia to start your online courses empire. Easy to use One of the great things about Podia is that it’s very easy to use even if you are not a seasoned technical person or you haven’t used such kind of software before still, you will feel at home. Podia makes it very easy to find things they have built a simple dashboard where you can find Courses Coupons Audience Email Marketing Affiliate Sales Account management It’s all very obvious and you don’t have to pull your hairs to find simple things. And I have used tools like Teachable, Thinkific, Learnworlds, Kajabi and many more. These tools are not that easy to figure out there is a certain learning curve but when it comes to Podia you don’t have to face any such issues, I was able to create my course and the sales page required in just a couple of hours whereas to build the same thing in Kajabi I had spent almost a day. So I was very happy with the ease of use that Podia provided. So if you are a non-technical person you will find Podia very easy to use. Minimalistic Podia provides a minimalistic experience to a course creator it’s not overly complicated When you use their page builder you will find that the options are limited and there are not many widgets available to use. But does it affect the effectiveness of building the sales page? Absolutely not in fact when you are just starting out getting a minimalistic experience is the best thing that will ever happen to you because if you are provided with a plethora of features then you are going to build something fancy. Something that is going to take away time from Creating your course and doing what you love what you are passionate about. So, when you are provided with a minimalistic option you take to stick to what is available and make it work because ultimately what you are going to say on a landing page matters more than how it is designed That being said the sales pages built with Podia are sleek and modern. Honestly speaking it’s very difficult to build an ugly landing page with Podia Great user experience The one part of the course hosting platform is used by us course creators but the other part and most important part is used by your students. They will log into your system, they will see the videos, they will be consuming your content and they will be doing some admin tasks such as you know viewing their invoices or maybe changing their password, email id and things like that. And Podia is really great at this. As I said earlier it is very easy to find things with Podia. Things are easy to figure out. The whole ‘look and feel’ of Podia is modern and things are laid out in a proper manner. Very rarely you will get support queries from your students regarding how to access their course or where the videos are? Works with Zapier If you are a seasoned marketer you know that you need to use Zapier at some point in time because one tool may not be able to satisfy all your requirements. And that’s why you need to use multiple tools but when you are using multiple tools you need those tools to talk with each other for example.. If you want to push the data of someone enrolling in a course that is hosted in Podia to Google sheets. Then, in that case, you need Podia to speak with Google sheets but that is not possible directly because neither of them has direct integration with each other. And that’s why we need to use Zapier which is duct tape between Google sheets and Podia. This is just one example there are many such use cases where you will require is Zapier so it is important for an online course creator to have a system that is compatible with a Zapier And Podia is quite good at that. I will not go into the details of how Zapier work but there are actions and triggers in Zapier and Podia supports both actions and triggers on its basic plan whereas tools like Teachable, Thinkific provide actions on their higher-end plans Great support Even if a tool is very easy to use you are going to face some issues and that’s why you need support from the company that is building that tool and Podia excels at providing ‘A’ grade support. They have live chat support using which you can ask their team the questions directly and in my experience Podia support is very responsive and they do resolve your issues in a timely manner That’s my personal experience. Pricing Podia for its features is available at a great price for just $39 a month and the higher plants are not too costly either. Additionally, you get a 14-day free trial during which you can test out how Podia will work out for you. Conclusion So, go ahead and signup for the free trial of Podia by clicking the button below. Sign up for free trial I have used it for more than 2 years and faced no issues at all so best of luck to sign up for their free trial and start building your courses. Do read my other article on the simple course hosting platforms you can use.
- Can you build a sales funnel using WordPress?
Sales funnels are the heart of any online business as they are the gateway to your success. They bring you leads, they give you conversion, they actually convince people who don’t know you to show trust in you, your products and services. The problem is there are many sales funnels builder out there and their cost ranges from $0 to $297 per month and sometimes cost even more. And then it becomes really hard for the new online entrepreneur to select the right funnel builder. And out of this confusion, many of the online entrepreneurs ask ‘Can I build my sales funnels in WordPress?’ Many of them already have a WordPress site, and it’s very natural of them to ask this question. The answer is a resounding yes! Yes, you can build sales funnels using WordPress. Different tools to build sales funnels using WordPress Cartflows Cartflows is one of the popular sales funnels builders. One of the creators of the Astra theme is the co-founder of Cartflows. So, you can guess the quality of the plugin. Cartflow comes in two flavours, one is free and the other one is paid. The free version, in my personal opinion, is not that useful. If you want to leverage the power of sales funnels then you need a paid version. The annual version costs $199 and the lifetime version costs $799. You can know more about Carflows by clicking here. Different features of Cartflows One-click upsells Order bumps A/B split testing Conversion templates Checkout layouts Pre-checkout offers Analytics and reports And your risk is covered because they do offer a 30-days money-back guarantee. Many of my colleagues who were using expensive tools like ClickFunnels have shifted their base to Cartflows and they are happy. Checkout Carflows OptimizeFunnels OptimizeFunnels is part of OptimizePress; a popular name in the WordPress community. To use, OptimizeFunnels, you need to purchase the OptimizePress’ Suite plan. This will cost you $199 per year. You can create the following funnels with OptimizeFunnels Launch Funnels List Building Funnels Sales Funnels Webinar Funnels It’s not very clear from their website, whether they provide features like Upsells, One-time offers, and order bumps. A detailed review of OptimizeFunnels is on the way. Stay tuned for that. For more information on OptimizePress, do click on the button below. Checkout OptimizeFunnels WPFunnels WPFunnels is another good sales funnel builder for WordPress. It costs $97 per month which includes 1 site. Their pricing model is different from 2 of the above tools. The features available in all the 3 plans are the same, what changes is the number of sites you can use it on. So, a $97 plan gives a license of 1 site, $147 will give 5 sites and $237 unlimited site. All these costs are annual and not per month. WPFunnels boasts of Ready to use templates Drag and drop builder Order bump Custom checkout templates One time offers Upsells and downsells Support for Gutenberg and Elementor So, these are the three different tools you can use to build a sales funnel using WordPress. Checkout WPFunnels Please note that I’m not considering tools that are just page builders like Elementor, Thrive and Divi. I’m considering tools that can work as full-fledged sales funnels builder. Why people prefer WordPress over other tools? Let’s look at the different reasons why people prefer WordPress over anything else. Familiarity with WordPress WordPress is easy to use. Many online entrepreneurs have already spent a lot of time using it, learning it and that has made them comfortable using WordPress. I have been using WordPress for almost 10 years now, and while I learned other tools like ClickFunnels, GrooveFunnels, Systeme.io and other such tools, every time I thought man, WordPress is so easy to use. But the thing is, probably ClickFunnels or GrooveFunnels are easier than WordPress to use, but I was so familiar with WordPress, that while learning something new, I was bit apprehensive. Nobody wants to go through the learning curve. Learning something new over what you already know and can use is always preferred. Cost For hosting a WordPress site, all you need is a domain, hosting, a decent theme and an easy to use page builder. This cost is quite controllable; if you decide to go with basic hosting, your cost should not be higher than $150 per year and then for higher-end hosting there is no limit. Whereas, in the case of other funnel builders cost about $97 per month. Now there’s a new kid on the block, Systeme.io, which costs nothing to start with. And, the decision to increase the costs of these tools is complete with those companies. For example, if ClickFunnels start charging $497 instead of $97 then you either pay up the higher cost or you shift all the funnels to a different platform. And no you cannot just migrate them like copy-pasting something. So, the cost is a major factor and one should definitely consider it. So, what are your reasonable options? Personally speaking, even though I’m a WordPress developer, I don’t like to use WordPress for building sales funnels. WordPress is good for building traditional websites and to some extent landing pages. But to build a complete sales funnel using WordPress is not something I’m comfortable with. Because ultimately WordPress is built as a blogging platform. We should not stretch it beyond a limit. Plus there are issues like Site security Frequent backups Ability of the hosting to scale-up when a surge of traffic comes In fact, I have written one article on why ClickFunnels is better than WordPress for sales funnels. This article to be honest is applicable to all the funnel builder tools out there. I’m of the opinion that, you should use something like Systeme.io if you’re just starting out. Because it’s free to use and easy to learn. Sign up for Systeme.io You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars just to build simple sales funnels. So, go ahead and start building your first sales funnel and start making money. All the best to you 🙂