Table of contents
Online Courses Strategies Summary
Have you been thinking about creating online courses to expand your brand and increase revenue in your business? Is it the right time? Is it the right move for you?
During this show we'll guide you through the following questions:
- Who should be producing courses and why?
- How do you decide what to teach?
- How do you design the course?
- What is the process for generating digital material?
- What software do you recommend?
- What is the best way to promote and sell courses?
- What mistakes have you made that people should avoid?
This show will help you decide whether creating online courses is right for your business.
You'll also get the simple steps to designing and generating digital courses to transform your ideal clients and increase your impact and income.
Words of Wisdom
Why are people taking this course? What are they trying to accomplish? Then when you get to where you have to sell, it's really easy because you're walking people through that progression and you're giving people exactly what they want. When you go to write your sales copy and talk to people about it, it's a lot easier. — Jen
When Toby and I first started doing live streaming on YouTube we found we were answering the same questions again and again. So we created a course. We knew exactly what people needed. — Shelley
Can't Miss Resources
- Visibility for Your Podcast: Get your podcast seen and heard in as many places as possible!
- MemberVault (course software) changed their pricing structure
- Videotero is teaching a new photography course free on YouTube
Watch the Show
Listen to the Show
Transcript: Should I Create Online Courses for My Business
[00:00:00] Jen McFarland: The Women Conquer Business show is an educational, how to, women in business podcast that features stories, marketing news and real life experiences from fun and friendly hosts, Jen McFarland and Shelley Carney. Join us as we dive into the details so you can slay marketing overwhelm, streamline processes and amplify your impact.
[00:00:24] You'll learn strategies and tactics, leadership skills, and practical advice from successful women entrepreneurs to help you grow, nurture, and sustain your business.
[00:00:38] Hey, you're in the right place. And it is a new week.
[00:00:41] Shelley Carney: It is a new week.
[00:00:42] Jen McFarland: This week, we are talking about courses. So should I create a course to expand my brand and business? We're going to be talking about who should be producing courses and why and what the best methods are for building and selling courses.
[00:00:56] But before that, Hey there, Shelley.
[00:00:59] Shelley Carney: Hello. It's a crazy week. Crazy. Crazy. As you can see, we're having lots of snow going on here in New Mexico.
[00:01:08] Jen McFarland: Except that's a fake background.
[00:01:09] Shelley Carney: Oh, shh. Snow over there, out the window. It's a white day, white.
[00:01:17] Jen McFarland: I am in the last few hours of being in Boise, Idaho. My mom got back from Hawaii. Boy, that was the shock of her life coming back and seeing the cold weather. And it was really yesterday and she was thinking maybe I should just get back on that plane and go back.
[00:01:36] Shelley Carney: Right? Yeah. We had a beautiful day on Tuesday, 70 degrees and we were outside walking and riding bikes and enjoying the beautiful weather. And then it's snow everywhere. So crazy weather.
[00:01:50] Jen McFarland: It is crazy.
[00:01:52] So what else do you have going on? What do you have for breaking news?
[00:01:56] Shelley Carney: Oh, breaking news. This just in, or is that breaking news?
[00:02:02] Jen McFarland: I think Toby took a little break. He took a break. We were supposed to have music. Boy, we're having a lot of production issues today, but that's okay. Breaking news.
[00:02:13] Shelley Carney: All right. Breaking news. Toby is teaching photography classes on YouTube. Live on YouTube on Videotero Live. He's doing small set photography for product shots, still life, book covers, social media posts and backgrounds. And today at one o'clock, he's going to show you how to shoot this shot of this Valentine pendant.
[00:02:38] He's going to explain the the lights, the equipment and settings and apertures, all of the information that you could need to understand how to do photography like this. This is going to be a weekly show and we'll talk about different kinds of photography every week. Right now he's in a series on small set photography. That includes backgrounds and the underlays. Floors and walls so they call it.
[00:03:04] Jen McFarland: Who is this for? Who are the ideal people to be?
[00:03:08] Shelley Carney: People who are interested in photography, learning photography, knowing more. Maybe you get a brand new camera. Like we saw some people this week on a particular podcast we both enjoy, and they're both getting new cameras and they're like, there's so many settings. I don't know how to do all this. If you're getting into photography, it's a really great place to go and ask questions. If you really want to learn more about taking photographs of your personal products. Say you make things like oils or soaps or something that you sell on Etsy, and you want really high quality, professional looking photographs. You can learn to do that yourself. So that's really great for those people.
[00:03:47] Jen McFarland: So today at one o'clock that's mountain standard time.
[00:03:50] Shelley Carney: That's right.
[00:03:50] Jen McFarland: Then go check that out at Videotero Live that's on YouTube, and that is an example of a course. We're talking about courses, so you can do courses on YouTube and there's a variety of ways that you can do that. We're going to talk about that in just a second.
[00:04:04] My breaking news is actually related to courses and then it's going to lead the broader discussion about having courses. For those of you who have followed me maybe for a while, or know a little bit about me, I was an early adopter to a product called Member Vault. Member Vault is a course platform really based in gamification.
[00:04:24] What gamification is, it's almost like when you are being rewarded for continuing to play, basically. So it's a lot like Netflix for business owners who just want to create a lot of stuff and kind of keep people engaged and keep them on. You can give people points, and then if they earn enough points, they can upgrade into free products and all different kinds of things like that.
[00:04:47] It is a great platform for people who are just getting started with courses. Full disclosure, I am a certified partner for Member Vault. I'm also somebody who was a founding member. I was one of their founding 100 and I have paid a lifetime fee to have it. As I say this, understand that I know a lot about this product. I really believe in them. They're a married couple in Olympia, Washington, which is only like an hour and a half, maybe from where I live. I've just watched this company grow and I've really enjoyed it.
[00:05:17] Now, one of the reasons that I was always able to really recommend Member Vault to people is their pricing structure. They have always had a forever free program. It's something that they have offered since the beginning. So if for forever, if you had a hundred people or fewer they may have recently lowered that to 50, but if you had a hundred people or fewer, you have the full featured product and you could use it for anything you could make.
[00:05:46] These were not, you didn't have to have free products and you could have. It was like three products capped at a hundred people. So imagine that you could do everything. So think about it like this, you could have a $500 a person per month product running on Member Vault and as long as you had under a hundred people, it would be free.
[00:06:05] So it was an amazing deal. The mistake I think that they made is that they called it forever free. When you call something forever free, people have expectations. We're going to put a pin in that here in a second. They also have amazing customer service and they have had this really amazing Facebook group with all these people singing their praises and they have been answering the call.
[00:06:27] Anytime people were asking for things, asking for features, talking to people about features, they were always there answering the bell. On February 14th, this is the breaking news, on February 14th Member Vault announced that they were discontinuing the forever free plan. They were discontinuing the starter plan and the base plan unless you were already in it.
[00:06:46] What they're going to is a single plan at $99 per month, unless you were already in there. If you already had a paid plan, they will keep you at that paid plan for life, but not the free plan. They're not offering that anymore. The reason was, and I think that this is perfectly understandable, they weren't making money. It wasn't sustainable for their business. I assume that they were spending a great deal of time in the Member Vault collaborative, in everywhere, really helping people through things and helping people grow their business. They weren't business consultants, they still aren't, they're trying to make money and sell a product.
[00:07:24] When they announced that they were getting rid of the forever free program, it's only three days ago, the flaming pitchforks have been out everywhere in that Facebook group. I just mentioned you could have had a half million dollar business or a million dollar business running out of Member Vault for free and they're not making a dime. They don't even take anything off of like payments or anything. So all these people are just freaking out and everything, and the truth is running a business costs money. If you are running something like a course platform or anything, you need to make money.
[00:07:59] So what they're doing is they've decided that they want to have the best service, however they're defining it, and I think they're changing their services as well. They want to have up to 10,000 people paying. So they want to cap their service at 10,000 people paying $99 a month. That's what they figured out that they can do and what works for them. The lesson, I think, for many small business owners, consultants is when you offer something for free, whether that is a Facebook group or courses or a product, like in their case, they are a SAAS company, which means software as a service. They have made a very deliberate decision that they want to grow their business to a certain place they're entirely self-funded.
[00:08:46] So they don't have to raise a bunch of capital and they don't have to have all of the users all of the time they've made a decision. The lesson in here is be very cautious before you start something for free, like a Facebook group where you're offering everything because you do end up attracting a lot of tourists.
[00:09:08] People who are not buying a ticket to get your services, they're not hopping the bus all the way they're buying into getting as much free stuff from you as they can. Then as soon as something changes, they're ready to burn you in effigy as quickly as they can burn it down.
[00:09:27] These are some of the kindest people I have ever seen, and people who have been in that collaborative for years are suddenly just turning on them. It wasn't just that they were helping people with courses. They are really great, Erin Kelly and Mike Kelly, they run Member Vault, is really great with email sequences. They were sending out swipe files to people. They were really guiding people who were starting their business through some really fundamental things. A swipe file would be like an entire sequence for how to attract people and keep people on your email list, and get the email marketing going. They would work with people through lead magnets, so offering something for free and getting people into your Member Vault, but you could also use it if you had a website. Now all of a sudden, all of the people who are taking all of this information for free, who are getting everything for free are turning their backs on them and saying, oh you're terrible people. And some people are not using very nice words to describe.
[00:10:21] The truth is they are running a business. They don't owe you anything for free. We could end this show tomorrow and we don't owe anybody, anything. We don't.
[00:10:34] We all are in this to make money and Member Vault is too. In as much as there's a part of me, that's oh, that's heartbreaking, because for really small business owners, it was always a great thing. If you weren't sure if you wanted a course, if you weren't sure if this was really for you Member Vault was a great place to start.
[00:10:52] You could start with Member Vault and you could get your feet wet, like even you, Shelley, you said that you have a Member Vault, but haven't used it for awhile. It's a place where you could have done that, and that is going away. For me personally with the people that I work with, that's a little bit hard and I totally completely understand it.
[00:11:08] I think that this is really the heart of the matter. When we talk about, should you create a course? Should you have a course or do any of these lessons? Is this something that is right for your business? It's important to understand that creating courses requires resources. It requires time. It takes a great deal of effort. If you are bootstrapping and you need a platform to be free, yes, there are ways you can do that and understand that it's not elegant. Because having a course takes time and it takes effort. If you are stepping into that to really grow your brand, then you need to understand that to really do it, or to do it up, where your brand is really maybe showing up, it's going to cost you money.
[00:12:00] There is no longer, as far as I know, a fully branded website out there that you can have because Member Vault is taking theirs away. I support that decision and I think there are a lot of people out there who are, there's going to be a lot of gnashing of teeth.
[00:12:15] I've seen it before in other Facebook groups where people think that they've gotten something and they found a great deal. Then, it gets pulled back and they're just not very forgiving. It's in that online space. It really validated for me personally, as a business owner, why I have never had a Facebook group. Because I didn't want to just sit in there and be giving and giving and then if it ends, people tend to turn their backs on you. I think that is unfair and unfortunate and it happens again and again, and I'm sure you've seen it. Haven't you seen that Shelley?
[00:12:46] Shelley Carney: Oh, absolutely. Toby and I used to have a product called Vidnami and they sold their business.
[00:12:52] They sold this wonderful product where you could just put in a short script and it would create a video for you. It would do voiceovers. It gave you music. It was amazing. You could have any length of video you wanted, up to about three minutes I think it was, and it happened very quickly.
[00:13:08] It was simple to use. Then they sold their business to Go Daddy and everybody was all up in arms about it. Some people had built their entire business based on this one product and they were just furious. What are we going to do now? What else is there? People started passing back and forth other pieces of software that they could use that had many of the features of Vidnami, but not all of them.
[00:13:29] Lumen 5 is one of them that I use now for something similar. But people were just very angry. Why, how could you do this to me? This is their business. They could do whatever they want with it. They gave you notice. They told you what was happening, why it was happening, when it was happening and what to do about it. They provided that kind of support. And all you could do is attack them.
[00:13:50] Jen McFarland: That's exactly, that's a hundred percent, but not everybody, but some people and then there are some people who are being pretty cheeky in the group. Like I said, I was one of the founding 100. There are a lot of people who bought lifetime and there's somebody who posted a meme that was like, if you bought lifetime, you'd be like, and it's like a queen.
[00:14:06] There are people throwing shade at the people. They all say that they need it to be free and they didn't read because they're still offering if you were on the free plan, they're still offering the $19 a month plan, which is still an incredible deal. It's very hard to find that even elsewhere.
[00:14:21] Shelley Carney: We used Member Vault when we had a membership for a close to a year with the treasure hunting community. We would get together and do book study a couple of times on Zoom a week. We kept all of our resources in Member Vault for them. It was just a real easy place for them to get that, get those resources.
[00:14:39] Jen McFarland: Yeah. It's really great for that. I use it mostly now as a client portal, so I use it still, but it's not what we're using for Epiphany Courses for a variety of reasons. That is something that we can talk about. So should we officially move into training?
[00:14:55] Shelley Carney: We're in training now
[00:15:05] Jen McFarland: New sound effects. Oh my goodness. So we are in training. One of the things we've talked about is that I have a new business called Epiphany Courses, which means I am for the most part, a full-time course creator at this point, making business courses that we are selling. I was telling Shelley before the show, the first one, How to Find the Right Marketing Tools For Your Small Business is a book, an audio book, and then also a course. They're all very short form.
[00:15:33] But what we're talking about today, and I think that was part of what led Shelley to think maybe we should talk about courses and whether building a course is right for your business. The first question is who should be producing courses and why?
[00:15:46] A lot of people think that selling online courses is just a natural progression in your business. Like this is just the next thing that you should be doing. I want to caution people about "shoulding" all over yourself. What I mean by that is there's no shoulds. You don't have to do anything.
[00:16:05] For people who do not like teaching, don't create a course. If you don't have a passion for walking people through things very slowly, for answering questions, for making decks, slide decks and sharing things with people, taking feedback and going through and doing that, don't do it. Period full stop.
[00:16:27] It's like having a Facebook group, nobody has to have a Facebook group. Nobody has to have a course. That would be the first rung, as far as I'm concerned, in terms of who needs to have a course. If you're going around and teaching things like I have been for a few years, I have been teaching around the community. I'm like, I should really start monetizing this, these signature talks. I should be monetizing some of the work that I've done with audio lessons and selling it myself. So if it's a natural extension in that way, if you have a group, like a paid membership group and you're already doing maybe some sort of walkthroughs on different products, that's more of what I would call a natural extension into your business.
[00:17:07] So it's a good thing to have courses. In terms of making courses like who should be doing it. Again and we mentioned it a minute ago, I think it was a good idea to have courses if you have some sort of support system. So like at Epiphany, we have Gail Bender and myself, and we have Kaitlin. Kaitlin is helping us with some marketing and some other tasks so that I can have more time to build these courses.
[00:17:32] So in terms of a production and she doesn't know it yet, but if Kaitlin's watching, she's going to be helping with some of the course building as well. It takes time and it takes effort. So if you are not in a position to handle all of that, it may not be the time. So it's better if you have maybe a staff or a VA or somebody who can really help you with producing the classes. That helps if you've been teaching, because then you are able to really answer questions and then your courses can be about the questions that you're answering over and over again.
[00:18:07] I think that really flows into what it is that you do, how you decide what it is you're even going to teach. The best things to teach are the things that you're talking about again and again. Is that kind of what you found Shelley?
[00:18:19] Shelley Carney: Yeah, when Toby and I first started doing live streaming on YouTube we had a lot of people coming to us and asking, how do I start my own YouTube channel? How do I do the live streaming? What products do you use? So we created a course to answer all of those questions. We knew exactly what people needed. We could take them step-by-step through all the different sessions to get to what they wanted. A lot of people ended up taking that course because they see us doing it and they want to know how it's done. Yeah,
[00:18:51] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. If you're trying to decide what you're going to teach, or if you find yourself answering the same questions over and over again, it is a good idea to monetize that in some way or teach it. Put it out on YouTube and teach it, right? It is one of the things that you can do to really, you're answering a lot. We've talked about SEO on here before where SEO is really just customers asking questions and you're answering them. It's the same thing, how to videos and behind the scenes content are so huge for people that if you have something that you can share and you don't have to charge a lot of money for it, but you can charge a little bit and then it does tend to get people into your pipeline if you're a service provider.
[00:19:33] Now with Epiphany Courses it's a little bit different because we are that's, our business is creating all of this content and selling it. So we have a real workflow of making a course, making it into a book, making it into an audio book, and we're not upselling people into anything.
[00:19:48] We are teaching people core things that they need for their business, and then they can move on and do whatever else they want to do with their life. So it's a little bit different in terms of why we are creating courses and who we are selling them to. I think if anybody has any questions specifically about who should have a course, what platforms, things like that, please ask those now and let us know what your questions are so that we can be sure and answer them.
[00:20:16] In terms of how you do it. We've talked a little bit about who should be producing courses. If you have a strong passion for it, go ahead and make it. Don't let it stop you. If you don't have a big audience, don't let it stop you. If you don't have a big group. If you don't have a budget, guess what? You can do a lot. You can use private YouTube videos and give people access, you just need a way to get the word out and a way for you to say, okay, here's where it is. So when people pay you, then you can send them a link to where they need to go. There are a lot of different ways of doing that.
[00:20:52] Just be creative and really think about what it is that you have to offer and how you can share that with the world. You can do that in so many different ways. Honestly, the first way is you talk to people in person, or you have networking events and things on Zoom, and maybe you record the Zoom call and then you can just sell it.
[00:21:14] A lot of people do that. It doesn't have to be a really specifically designed course, at least in the beginning. Then as it evolves, then you can talk about like, how do you design a course? And I think that as someone who has a lot of training experience, it was a big part of what I did. I know I've had such a varied background, but I was a teacher in Peace Corps when I lived in Kazakhstan.
[00:21:41] And then I was also corporate training was a big part of what I did. So we were designing software, wringing it out. Doing all of the specifications. Then we had to train the users on how to use the darn thing. So that was me. I would go out there. I'm a little bit entertaining and I would go out there and have dog and pony shows and answer people's questions.
[00:22:01] So I have a lot of experience in how to like design trainings and how to get people engaged and walk people through stuff. If you have that experience and you're designing your first course, it's always a good idea to run through it with somebody else and get feedback from somebody is going to be really honest with you about what's really great and what's not really great
[00:22:21] If you're using this to market your business from a marketing perspective, you want to make sure that you've got branding on point that you're really walking people through it, that they understand what it is that you're selling or what's that next step. If you have a next step also, in terms of designing the course, we are talking about like a beginning, middle and end, and you have to really think about what is it that they're going to get out of this course.
[00:22:48] And you you begin with the end in mind to a certain degree, like what's the Delta. So if somebody comes in, where are they at when they come in? Then if they complete the whole course, where are they going to be at the end? And that's what you have to think about is what is it, what, why are people going to be taking this course?
[00:23:07] What are we trying to accomplish? And then how are we going to get there? And so when you think about designing your courses, that's really what you need to be thinking about is what journey am I taking people on? Why is that journey important to them? And I know that a lot of this sounds like marketing speak, right?
[00:23:24] But it's not because if you think about where it is that you want people to go and you're answering the questions every step of the way, and you design your course in that way, then guess what? When you do get to the point where you have to sell the thing, it's really easy because you've basically, you're walking people through that progression and you're giving people exactly what they want.
[00:23:49] And then when you go to write your sales copy or whatever, and talk to people about it, it's a lot easier because you're really focused on, I have seen this problem, XYZ problem as a service provider, as somebody who's delivering specific goods and services, and I am going to deliver you this change. And that is exactly what your course is about.
[00:24:11] And so that is why it's so important to think about where it is that you're taking people. What is that journey and how is it that they are going to be impacted by having gone through the whole experience with you? And so that's how you design the course. And you can do that with a deck. Like I love to design my decks in case.
[00:24:34] That's how I do it. Everybody does a little bit differently, but I need pretty things. So I like to make pretty things and do it. And then I just take decks from when I go and speak in public. And I adapt them for people who aren't there to ask me questions. And I try to answer the questions that I often get in the deck.
[00:24:55] So I'm answering the questions that I expect. And then that's why you revise courses later. It changes as you, and it evolves as you do it. So a lot of courses aren't just set and forget. It is a whole process for creating it.
[00:25:13] Shelley Carney: One of the things that I can recommend to people is if you decide, you probably want to do a course, that there are lot of pieces of software and applications out there that are available and they have tutorial videos that will walk you through how to create a course, what you should include. Toby and I created a couple of courses on Udemy, and they also have a whole tutorial that you can go through and learn how to do all of these things.
[00:25:39] So if you think I would think I want to do it, but I don't know, you go into some of these products and go through their tutorials and it will inform you. And then you'll say, I don't have that kind of time, or I don't have that kind of technology experience, or I don't think I can do this, or I don't want to do this, or you'll say I could do that. I do that all the time. That's easy. So it will inform you and help you to understand what's involved. And if it's something that you really want to do,
[00:26:07] Jen McFarland: For those of you who don't know, Udemy is a place where you can host your courses, they will facilitate it. There's also, I think Skillshare is another one that will do it.
[00:26:18] There are a few different places where you can do that and you are able to put your course up there and sell it. And then you get a percentage of that. So you're paying in so that they can sell it and they have their own cash register, like all of it. So you don't have to deal with it as much, but you don't get a hundred percent of it.
[00:26:37] Shelley Carney: And that's how you pay them to host it for you. They take a commission.
[00:26:41] Jen McFarland: There's really low tech ways where you're not paying anybody to host it. And then there's. The second tier, which is where you can have somebody else hosting it, and then there's the entire self hosted phase.
[00:26:50] A lot of people, I really am a big believer in using platforms that you own. However sometimes there are some real advantages to using something like a me, because you may be able to find new people that you haven't had before. And that's what we have found. So I have been doing kind of a hybrid of that, where we have hosted the how to play a podcast.
[00:27:11] It's a, the ultimate podcast planning guide on AppSumo. We priced it super low so that we could build an email list and we have learned and met so many new people through there. We've gotten a lot of subscribers. It's been really great. So we have a base of people who are interested in what it is that we are creating and selling.
[00:27:30] We also have people that we can email to. takes a percentage of it. But then we get the people on our platform and they can go through and engage with our courses using our platform. The platform we're using for apifany is teachable. And that's because we can have multiple different instructors, multiple different bios as it evolves, then we'll be able to do like author splits and it'll be really good for that.
[00:27:55] There are a lot of really great platforms out there. Like Podia is one that I really like. It's good for solo brands. Member Vault is really great. There's so many different course platforms out there. Thinkific is good. One of the really popular ones that I actually do not recommend is Kajabi and that's because they have such severe limits on what you can do.
[00:28:18] It's three products and it's something like $150 and I'm like, that's just too much. A lot of people are going to outgrow that they have such severe limits. I think that's the case with any marketing tool that you're looking at is you need to really be aware of what the limitations are, so that you can then engage with that product.
[00:28:37] And it can last you for more than a few months or a couple of years, because then the next tier of Kajabi is really expensive. And if you're not selling. Enough courses to even cover Kajabi. It's really not worth your time. Yeah.
[00:28:50] Shelley Carney: Yeah. I agree. We actually recently got Marble, which it was offered on AppSumo and I'm still learning it, but it's something that you can use to just get started with a simple courses, even free things that you want to just bring people in and run them through.
[00:29:07] Here's how to work with us, or here's why you might want to work with us little courses that are just introductory like that. So
[00:29:14] Jen McFarland: I haven't seen Marble. I, you know how I'm a big fan of AppSumo. If courses are going to be a huge part of your business. Probably don't buy it out on AppSumo because those tend to come and go a lot. So you want to be really careful about having something super core to your business, but if you're playing around with courses and you want to learn about it, they had one for a while called guru can. And that one has turned out to be a really good platform. I think that's continuing to grow.
[00:29:40] There's one out there now. I, it's not Marble, it's a different one that will AI generated courses. So you can give it like a topic and it starts to really put all of that together. So there's all kinds of platforms out there. There's all these different ways that you can slice and dice it.
[00:29:56] And, but I just highly recommend that you don't get a platform that is so expensive, that you have to really hustle to sell enough to make it work. And I know that Kajabi says we can also be your website and we can do, and we can be your email marketing. The email marketing is somewhat limited.
[00:30:12] The website is okay, but terrible for SEO. There are just so many things, so many factors before you put all of your eggs in like an all in one basket that you really have to consider. If you're using it for your business, it's a lot different than if you're using it for, just for courses. There's some platforms that are really great for courses, and there may be not as great as your website, but if the, if something like a job is so expensive, a lot of people tend to just, I'm just going to do everything there.
[00:30:39] I'm just going to bite the bullet and it's you don't have to have a website that costs $250 a month. That's ridiculous for most business owners that doesn't make any sense. So you really have to really think about in terms of the platform, this is really about what are you going to grow into?
[00:30:57] What makes the most sense, what is cost-effective for us and how can we really grow into it over the long haul? For many people, you could just start with some private YouTube videos, get a sense of whether or not you like it. Maybe even have like small group paid events where you just start testing out, like what it's like to, have webinars and train people using video and get a lot of feedback on whether or not you really enjoy teaching and whether or not people are really responding to what you're teaching and how you're teaching it. That's what I think.
[00:31:30] Shelley Carney: Get your feet wet.
[00:31:31] Jen McFarland: Get your feet, wet, get out there and do it, and I think a lot of people get
[00:31:34] Shelley Carney: Before you commit to Kajabi or some big, huge,
[00:31:37] Jen McFarland: and the same thing, like with, it's just the case with anything there's so many right ways to do it. And I think a lot of people say I'm gonna, I'll do courses when I can afford Kajabi or I'll do courses when this or that.
[00:31:49] And the truth is just start, just do it. And then it's all going to be okay. You might, you don't want to put a huge investment in, if it's not. Something that you even enjoy or something that you're even gonna want to do. That's my 2 cents worth, a lot of people have this trail of, tears, all these places that are just like abandoned projects and things like that.
[00:32:11] Don't overstress yourself on too many projects. Don't overburden yourself with too much of a heavy lift in terms of finance, test it out, figure out if it's really what you want to do. Because T promoting and selling a course is it's a lot of work. You have to plan out what does that marketing campaign look like?
[00:32:30] How many touch points are we going to do? How are we going to get the word out to people? Are we doing things with, Facebook ads or Google ads? How are we going to find the people who need the course the most and entice them to buy it? So it takes a lot of. Effort to really see this thing through.
[00:32:49] And if you're not in it for all of the facets, then it's best to know that right away before you've made a huge financial impact. Yeah. Or time investment. Yeah, a hundred percent. Yeah. Yeah. I have to say that through Epiphany Courses, we've found that this takes a lot more time than I had thought.
[00:33:07] Like I had to go home and update my little I have a dry erase board where I put like my goals and like what, what I'm going to do in Q1 and what I'm going to do. And I have to go back and I have to reframe some of those goals because after going through this whole process of what it's going to take to get all of this product out, even though these are things that I've taught for you.
[00:33:28] I'm like, oh, okay. I need to like re frame and refocus. Continuing to scale back some of the consulting services that I offer ramping up more speaking engagements and things like that, so that I can clear the mental space to do courses. And now I know it takes longer than I thought, and this is not it's not that I just, that I have to build the whole thing and I'm holding onto it. It's more no, I'm the brain I've got to do a brain dump and make it into a course. And that's the thing. It takes a lot of time and effort, and it's not mentioned to discourage you.
[00:33:59] It's more to say, this is really what it is. If you want to do a good job at it, and it's something that you really value, then it does take a little bit more time. Yeah. Throwing something up there. And then, what did somebody call that spray and pray? You just put a bunch of stuff out there and then pray that somebody gets it.
[00:34:20] And when it comes to courses, it takes a long enough time that you really do need to be focused in on if this is for you, because it does take things like a marketing plan and it takes understanding, the Delta of what it is that you're trying to get out of. It not only as a business owner yourself, but your students, what are they going to get out of it?
[00:34:43] Shelley Carney: Something that we learned through the process of doing courses ourselves and doing YouTube videos weekly is save your evergreen content for your courses. If it's something that's going to be changing a lot like, oh, here's a new app and it's breaking news and this is changing if that's happening, put that in your YouTube content, because people expect things to change when it's a YouTube show. You don't go back three years ago to find out information and expect it to still be relevant today, you look for stuff that's come out this week and this month, and this year first to find those relevant pieces of information that are still true. But with the course, you want to have your evergreen information in there.
[00:35:27] Like marketing principles, they don't change. They're always the same. Certain things are always going to be the way they are. Building a business, always going to need the same fundamentals, those sorts of things that are evergreen. That's what you want to make sure to include in your, as your building blocks for a course.
[00:35:46] Jen McFarland: Oh a hundred percent. And in my field, I'm finding that to be quite impossible. And that's part of the problem with the, that some have had some starts and stops on some courses. And the reason for that is we have, in terms of digital marketing used to be that I could teach that. It was like out of the box, I'd go in and update some things because the fundamentals of like digital marketing 1 0 1 like that, wasn't changing weekly, and now since COVID with everybody being home, everybody, the buyer behaviors, consumer behaviors have changed. So incredibly at such a rapid pace, how apps are delivering services or what they're offering. Like all of that is changing at such a rapid pace that, you know, having we're having to update content a lot more often than we used to so that we can serve our people the best.
[00:36:36] And that is something that, I have to think about. And I think it's certainly something that business owners really need to consider is how much, how often, or how often are you willing to change this? And it really is about the evergreen content to the extent possible. And then for me, I'm thinking about having, just making sure that the things that I think are likely to change, having them separate.
[00:36:59] So I can just upload a new video and it's not like a huge commitment. So you have to be strategic about what it is that you think is likely to change because otherwise, you're making courses. The same course over and over again. Yeah. And you don't have time for that.
[00:37:16] Shelley Carney: That's right. So like for instance, if Jen was teaching something and then she wanted to talk about, here are the apps you should be looking at to make that work, that should be a separate video that she could change out because apps change a lot. All those things that she knows are going to be changing in the next 12 months, then that's a separate piece. And you keep your videos short anyway, because people can only sit for so long before they need to do something else. But keep them under five minutes or less.
[00:37:46] And then when you have to go in and change that out, it's not such a big deal because you're like, okay these apps have changed. Let me go in and change that one video.
[00:37:55] Jen McFarland: Yeah. And that's been, the challenge is how fundamentally, how businesses deliver services are changing. That never used to be the case. It used to be you could just talk about different apps for how you connect everything. Now it's in my field is changing fundamentally, but for most people that's not the case for most people. It is, squirrel away the things that are likely to change, like which apps, you want to use.
[00:38:20] And then the rest of it, you can keep it in and, it's interesting. So yeah, five minutes or less, that's really a common video length. I've taken other courses that are much longer. And I find that I have to pause them and continue later because I get distracted and busy. So you really want to pay attention to that.
[00:38:36] You want to think about, and that's one of the things that I like about Member Vault, although they are starting to add it into other course platforms is how are you going to have people finish? Or do you not even care about that? 'cause a lot of people don't finish a course. So you have to really think about that.
[00:38:54] How long you want to retain somebody, what that looks like for you. And then that will help. Maybe don't put all the goodies at the end, because maybe they're not going to get that far. You want to really think about how you weave things in to try and keep people engaged. Engagement has been really a big part of selling courses
[00:39:14] Shelley Carney: and giving them those wins, those immediate wins. As soon as they get on and do the first introductory video, they should accomplish something. They need to feel like, oh, I filled out this card or I wrote down the name of my first idea or something. They have to have some kind of win to keep them going, to keep them engaged.
[00:39:36] Jen McFarland: Absolutely.
[00:39:37] Shelley Carney: So do you have any mistakes that you've made that people should avoid that you can think of?
[00:39:42] Jen McFarland: Don't, we all make mistakes all the time. I think that in terms of mistakes, I would say that I don't even know if I would call it a mistake. I understand that if you are paying a platform, whether it is Podia, Teachable, Member Vault, whatever really thoroughly understand things like the limits the limitations of it, what can and can't do.
[00:40:07] And a lot of people will say you should just go with WordPress. There's some downsides to that as well. That's highly technical and the backend doesn't necessarily look as good for your users. So you have to think about that as well. So you really want to think about before you choose a platform, what it is that you want your users to get out of it? What kind of experience they're going to have? What is it that you want to get out of it? And the reason why is it is really hard to change. I don't know if I could call it a mistake or not, but it's w I had chosen Podia and I really liked it. And then I shifted my business.
[00:40:44] We created Epiphany, I got Podia for my own business, and I bought it for the year. And that was the mistake was I bought it for the year. And then it had been before I ever even created a course and sold it. I had to shift onto a different platform that could handle AppSumo better, that could handle multiple teachers and, all kinds of revenue splits and things like that.
[00:41:07] So to the extent that you can plan out what it is that you have on tap, like whether it is. Do you want a platform that hosts the videos there? So you don't have to have a Vimeo or, do you want, what is it that you want it to do? How easy and all inclusive do you want it to be?
[00:41:25] Because it's hard to move. And that was the mistake I made. I had gotten like a lot of my stuff up from Member Vault into Podia. And then before I could even get it out, I had to undo that and put it somewhere else. And that was really, it's really hard. And I would say that's a mistake that, you do this with intentionality, take your time.
[00:41:43] Maybe don't buy it for a year. Like I do to save a little bit of money, make sure that it's the right investment because courses can take a lot of time and a lot of effort. Yeah.
[00:41:57] Shelley Carney: Yeah. I suppose we tried it out on Udemy just because we didn't want to have to market it other than just to say this exists, go check it out.
[00:42:06] But again, you don't make very much money because you Udemy is always putting their courses on sale. So a lot of times you're making three to $5 if somebody even finds your course, and there's so many there that it's it can get lost very easily. On the other side of that is doing it yourself on a platform like Thinkific or Teachable or one of these. And then you have the responsibility of letting people know it's there selling it getting people to go there, to sign up and then, really holding their hand as they move through the course, you have to make that determination of do you want to set it up and forget it? Or do you want to babysit everybody?
[00:42:50] Jen McFarland: Not only babysit everybody it's do you want to answer all the questions? Do you want to, if somebody has technical issues, do you want to answer the technical questions? If it's, there's a lot to it and you have to think about it and that's why in terms of who should be producing courses.
[00:43:03] Yeah. It really is about the phase of your business really should dictate which of the ways that you decided. That's the thing about you, to me. They're selling courses like 90% off all the time. And I was like, oh, I'm not going to do that. I want more control over pricing. And for Epiphany certainly we wouldn't do that because, we want to have our own different teachers out there.
[00:43:24] We want to look at it a lot differently. You, to me really doesn't work for what we're trying to accomplish on. On Epiphany, because we want to have several different courses with several different teachers. We are not a competitor for you to meet, but it's similar. Like we want, we are vetting people at a much higher level before they're ever allowed to come on and sell courses on the platforms.
[00:43:46] So it, it does take a lot of time and it does take a lot of effort. And it's really important to look through all of that. So you can avoid some of the pitfalls, I took a class in the last year that was all private YouTube videos and they were amazing. Like the class itself was amazing and it was all handled through email marketing and like sending me reminders and getting things to me, it was a really great course experience.
[00:44:10] And then it was all done. Like I said, she did it for free. She's selling it through her email platform and through her website and talking to people in Facebook groups and the delivery of the course, that's all. For her, she doesn't have to, she doesn't have to pay YouTube anything.
[00:44:26] The downside of that is all the YouTube ads and all of the distraction of being on that casino that we know of as YouTube, there's upsides and downsides to everything.
[00:44:36] Shelley Carney: Let's talk about Epiphany Courses and what that is and what you're doing with it. Tell us about that.
[00:44:42] Jen McFarland: Yeah. So Epiphany courses it is short, and I won't even say necessarily short form, but courses that are an hour or less geared toward decision makers within organizations. When we're really targeting businesses in the first five or so years of their business, there are just so many questions that come up for people.
[00:45:01] And what we're doing is creating courses that are standalone courses, meaning you're going to get everything that you need out of them within that hour long course or less, we want to really make them an hour or less. And also it's not selling you or branching you into something bigger or different. So these are, again, like if you have questions on a certain topic, like we're just going to give people that quick hit and then hopefully you enjoy it and you'll come back and tell your friends about it.
[00:45:33] These aren't like we're going to send you through a whole path and then you're not going to get answers. And then you have to buy the next course or pay for a big marketing package from me or somebody else. And that's the differences, the secret sauce. We know that business owners don't have 16 hours to consume content about, how to choose marketing tools or what do I need to have on my website, or, any of the things that come up in the first few years of business, we are giving people the answers right away so that they can do it.
[00:46:03] Right now we only have a couple of courses up and they're both about podcasting. We're working a lot on different marketing courses. That's the stuff that I've been teaching all around the state. And the price point is going to vary based on what people are expected to get out of it in the longterm of their business.
[00:46:21] But they aren't going to these, aren't going to be like five or $6,000 courses or anything like that because they're so short. But the impact can be very great if you do the time to invest in your own business. Because what the courses are really like, okay, here's what you need to do to really improve in this area or that area.
[00:46:41] They're quick, like quick, practical coaching sessions to really help people get through stuff.
[00:46:46] Shelley Carney: Excellent. And you're hosted on Thinkific did you say?
[00:46:50] Jen McFarland: No, we're on Teachable. The website, a website is on WordPress. We have a pretty prolific blog right now and then we're hosted on Teachable and yeah, it's been really great so far. We've had a great experience.
[00:47:05] Shelley Carney: Awesome. Okay. And for those of you who are considering doing a course, but you don't have the technology know-how and you want somebody to just take over the production of it for you, we can do that at AGK Media Studio. Just go to AGK media dot studio and reach out to us and we're happy to do all the production for you.
[00:47:26] And then you'll just take all that material. It all belongs to you we're just, the production people, you take it all and you put it up into, for instance, Teachable or one of those types of products. And you have. So that's right. Yeah. That's awesome. So that's all about courses.
[00:47:44] Jen McFarland: That's right. I feel like we covered a lot.
[00:47:47] Shelley Carney: I think so. I think so. I didn't see any questions, so we must've answered everything. But if you do have questions and you're watching this later after it's no longer live, make sure you put those in the comments on the video, or just reach out on the website, women conquer biz.com.
[00:48:06] Jen McFarland: That's right. And then in the show notes for the podcast, we also have links for how to reach out to us as well. So a tweak of the week.
[00:48:14] Shelley Carney: Tweak of the week.
[00:48:23] Tweak of the week. Something that Toby and I discovered this week is called Podpage. Takes your podcast, RSS feed and creates a website with it basically. It's really super quick. It's just fun. And it gives you a bunch of different layouts that you can choose from. And then after you've chosen a layout, you can still further personalize it, however you want to do it. We have been able to add our podcast, our blog, and our YouTube videos into one place along with they can, you can fill out a little interest form to get our free download. And you get added to our email list and you get a free download. It shows our tweets and our Facebook posts.
[00:49:10] So that keeps rolling. And so when we're doing a live stream and we're out live on our Facebook or Twitter, it picks it up and it shows it on our site. And we there's our videos that come from our YouTube channel, which is of course how we start our podcast. And you can see it shows whatever you need.
[00:49:32] It shows where we are hosted on the different podcast players. We have our blog, we have on our we have an about page, which we put our company information there that we talk about what we do as a company and how to get started with us on our about page. Helpful stuff there that all you have to do is just plug things in, and you don't have to put a lot of thought into it.
[00:49:54] Jen McFarland: Is this replacing your AGK media.studio?
[00:49:59] Shelley Carney: We are in the process of deciding that we're going to see how this performs. They have told us that they are they work really hard to provide excellent SEO for your brand and your podcast. So we're going to see how it performs over the next few months and then make that decision about do we need any other kind of a website or is this going to be what we want? Yeah, Podpage.
[00:50:22] Jen McFarland: I think it's great, especially for people who have a show and they really want to have a place to keep their show. I'll be curious to see how it works as a whole business website. I tend to think it's probably not robust enough for most business owners to really use it as the whole site, but so much of what you and Toby do really is a spin off of the shows that you're doing. It might work really well for you. It's a, it's all, the devil's in the details as they say.
[00:50:51] Shelley Carney: So a lot of these things are things that I do have on the current website and some of them are like, oh, wow. I never thought of doing that before. There's a guest form. If people want to be a guest on our show, they can go there, fill that out. It's got its own release right there. And that they provide, which is a wonderful release. We read through it and it's this is perfect. We don't even need anything more than this. Then it gives you the opportunity to build an email list, to build a guest profile list. It's just, it's really thought thoughtful and wonderful for podcast producers.
[00:51:31] Jen McFarland: No, I think it's perfect for shows and it's interesting because, we use Captivate for the Women Conquer Business show as the host, and they've started building in podcast guests. Like I think everybody's trying to help us solve that problem. It doesn't seem like a problem, like having guests, but it is a lot to manage. And so it looks like they're really trying to help with Podpage. I'm not familiar with this product at all, so we'll just have to wait and see, we'll just have to see.
[00:51:58] Shelley Carney: It's fairly new and they do have an affiliate program, which we're going to get in on because we're excited about it right now. We're talking about it on our shows. Use our affiliate link and we'll get, an additional kickback and it doesn't cost you any extra. We'll make sure to include that in the show notes. So if anybody is interested in checking that out and using our affiliate link, you're welcome to do that.
[00:52:19] Jen McFarland: Cool. That's awesome. So I think we're about ready to close. So what do you have for your inspirational nugget?
[00:52:28] Shelley Carney: Nugget time? Okay.
[00:52:34] Magical inspiration. I was going through my Daily Stoic book today and also taking a look at my goals. And you spoke about your goals as well. For goals. On my board. I like to include things that I have done or I'm currently doing so that I can say, oh yeah, promoting my women in podcasting book, I'm doing that.
[00:52:56] I'm making that happen. I'm in the middle of it. And I'm proud of myself and I'm doing great. And that gets me right in the moment as to say, I am proud. I am satisfied. I'm doing well. I'm happy. If all you have for your goals is things you haven't yet accomplished. Oh, here's a weight goal. An ideal weight goal.
[00:53:17] I want to hit I'm not there yet, so that could be like, future B is going, oh, I'm not there yet. Anxiety and worry and dissatisfaction basically. So I like to have a mix of both so that if I'm feeling dissatisfied by, I'm not anywhere near my weight goal, but I'm working on it every day.
[00:53:37] But I am doing this other things, and I'm in the middle of it, so I can be proud and satisfied with what I'm doing. So I suggest that to people to make sure that you include those things that you're already doing every day that are getting you closer to those bigger goals.
[00:53:54] Jen McFarland: Absolutely. You have to have some way to feel good about everything that you're doing or you're not going to do it.
[00:54:01] It's true. Yeah. I think I've mentioned before still reading Atomic Habits. I love it because it's really about doing the little things and having that dedication and it always adds up to something big. And I really believe that. So I think that what Shelley's talking about is a hundred percent spot on.
[00:54:17] It helps you reduce anxiety to feel good in the moment.
[00:54:22] Shelley Carney: Yes. And you can only feel proud and happy and joyful in this moment. If you're thinking about the future or you're thinking about the past, you're not going to be proud and happy and joyful, you're going to feel either anxious or regretful or, so yeah.
[00:54:36] Think about things you're doing right now and how they're going to pay off in the future. Yeah. All right. All right. Like watching this video, right? The pay off. Cause you learned all this stuff today about
[00:54:47] Jen McFarland: Listening to the show. That's so awesome. All right. Everybody, you have a really great week and thank you for being there.
[00:54:53] Shelley Carney: Thank you so much. And we'll see you next week or we'll be in your ears next week.
[00:55:03] Thank you for joining the Women Conquer Business podcast hosted by Shelley Carney and Jen McFarland. Please subscribe and leave a comment or question regarding your most challenging content creation or business problem. Then share this podcast with family and friends so they can find the support they need to expand their brand and share their message with the world.
[00:55:24] Check the show notes for links to valuable resources and come back again next week. .
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