How to create, sell, and profit from an online course ?
Speakers: Rhea Punjabi, Corporate Trainer, Career Coach.
The coaching journey started around six and a half or seven years ago when I was in the physical space going to educational institutes and corporate spaces and coaching people, which I still do, but with a lot of webinars coming in using a lot of ads in the last few years, especially around 2018ish, that's when community building for course creators caught my attention as well, and from 2019 onwards I started exploring this space better, created my first online course, which went flop, made losses. But then that's what the failures taught me; I tweaked the model a lot, and yes, now I'm able to actually collaborate with a lot of people out there in a lot of communities and sell not just the courses but coaching programmes as well.
1. I was wondering if you have a specific segment that you target as a course creator or coach, or if you have a broad segment that you can actually create courses for different verticals?
There are two segments here: the person segment, where people are looking to advance their careers but are coaches in the offline world and are hesitant to come online. The idea is to help people accelerate, but there are two sets of audiences: one is made up of people who are looking for jobs, and the other is made up of people who want to have a digital presence, and who want to build this digital asset and get another source of income as well.
2. Everyone wants to build a business online and take coaching courses. How do you get started? What are the first steps you take to think about the problem statement first and then look at where you can find the right kind of audience for it?
If you had asked me a few years ago, my answer would have been to just go ahead and shoot the courses and publish them, but obviously, that could lead to failure. The correct approach is to first decide what niche you want to be in. You might be good at multiple things, but you don't want to jump into multiple things. You want to, you know, build your authority in one space first. If you're confused between two to three initials, sit down and think about where it is that you can command authority or where you have a lot more knowledge, and pick that niche first. Choose the segment with whom you want to work, which is your ideal customer; after that, you go ahead and choose your offer statement, what kind of positioning you want to do, what is it that you want to show people that you specialize in, and where is it that you can help? Once this groundwork is done, this is like laying the foundation. After that, you go ahead and craft the curriculum and don't shoot a single video or spend a penny; instead, you go out there in the market and do a beta test to see if people are willing to buy a coaching programme from you or if you're willing to buy a post. If you have at least one buyer or at least two buyers, you know that your course is going to be successful.
In my first batch, we're going to do it completely live, collect a lot of feedback, and then start recording it as if you're recording, you know, course videos for your courses. Once that is done, the shooting and editing bit is done, and that's when you think of the whole tech and automation thing. So they consider technology and automation to be the first step, whereas it is much later in the journey to consider technology and automation once your courses are short, and then you consider your entire Facebook ads in the remaining tribe building community building, and that is a good roadmap.
3. You mentioned gathering names or getting people to sign up for your course before you created it. How do you do that? How do you create an audience that would be willing to pay you for the value you can provide, and how do you go about doing this?
Because I was losing money while experimenting, the only sensible route seemed to be to go the organic route, which was basically being active on the platform where your audience is. You don't have to be active on every social media platform out there; you can just choose one where your target audience is and start providing a lot of value there. In my case, my audience is on LinkedIn.
4. What kind of content specifically for LinkedIn works for you? Was it long-form content? Did you stick to a particular niche? How does one grow an audience on LinkedIn?
Typically, there is no answer as to whether it should be a long-form or short-form; you have to do everything—polls; tiny videos that could be a minute long; or really long personal story-related posts. To be honest, there is no answer there, because there are times when the long form does really well; there are times when even a simple poll does really well, and that's one stumbling block. It's important that when you post something, you're doing it with the intention of helping people solve a problem. I always recommend that when you're creating your course, you do some research on what problems people have and try to provide solutions to those problems on LinkedIn or whatever platform you choose, and then see what kind of response you get. That's why you're assuming the pain point; otherwise, you'd have this opinion. The game of researching and then testing it out to see if it's working should be a part of your curriculum where you go more in-depth and explain how you find a solution to that.
5. You set up an audience through Linkedin, and they were able to sign up for your course. Which platform did you host the course on? Was everyone on the same platform? Was it your website or a blog? And how did that go?
I've experimented with a lot of platforms, primarily teachable and Xender; eventually, I shifted to a new Xender, and after that, I experimented with Graphique as well; these are the two tools that I'm currently using. But I've heard that UUKI is new in the market, and it seems really good. In fact, I went ahead and researched it, and it definitely looks like a promising tool. To be honest, the answer would be to choose any tool that is available, whether it is a forever-free plan with some limited meditations or tools that, don't you know, burn big holes in your pocket.
6. How did you end up here? I trade in every time you launch a new course. What do you think about pricing? How does someone who's just getting started think about pricing?
Your pricing should be such that if you charge $1,000, people who invest that much with you should be able to make 10 times as much as $10,000. That's a simple formula that I have for pricing: people should be able to make a minimum of 10x when they come and buy something from me.
7. In your case, was the content in a coaching format, like live content, or was it hosted with a lot of written content? And how is the engagement between these two?
Coming from a training background, I had the understanding that your audience is always going to be a mixed bag. Some of them would be visual learners, and some of them would be auditory. Some of them would love to read a lot, and some of them would be the kindest. I leave it up to you whether you want to keep your camera on or off when creating a course because this is the biggest myth people believe: that if they're on camera, they'll learn more. Nothing of the sort; in fact, my own online courses are incomplete without my camera. What matters is the visual element, or what people say should be appealing, that should make them stay 100 percent of the time. That's the visual element. Auditory could be any piece of you know what you're making sure of, for example, if there are NLP coaches or mindfulness coaches they may reattach a meditation or they may literally attach a piece that people just have to plug in and listen to, or for reading you may give them some articles to read. It could be in a PDF or Word format, or just pointing them to a resource on the internet. From a kinesthetic perspective, it could be a lot of riding work in some cases, like communication coaches who could actually tell their candidates to go ahead and get into a role-playing system that involves an aesthetic element.
8. When you evolved and had experience building a couple of courses, what did you learn from the first two that you launched? What would you do differently, and what was the learning as such?
The biggest learning was that I wasted eight and a half months shooting and editing videos, and then I launched out only to realize people weren't buying. That was the biggest learning. The second lesson is: don't fall for fancy tools. You'll see a lot of fancy tools on the market, but you don't need them. Honestly, you just need to choose your tools carefully because that's a space where you can save money and instead put that money into Facebook ads that generate more leads, and the third learning that I have is that. Again, from personal experience, you don't have to be on camera all the time. I remember it taking me a whole year to post an Instagram video. I mean, that was the kind of fixed mindset and overwhelm that I was going through. If you're somebody who's great with, um, their knowledge and you're really good at your camera consciousness, it's absolutely fine; just keep your camera off, and you can go ahead and still win the show out there.
9. You specifically mentioned Facebook ads, and as you initially stated, you built out an audience, particularly on LinkedIn; did you consider other platforms as a channel to grow your reach, and how did you go about it?
Personally, I've used Facebook ads the most when it comes to paid formats. I've not really experimented with Google ads out there because I mainly believe, apart from Facebook, in the power of collaborations. I get into a kind of close collaboration with a lot of communities out there, and we help add value to each other's communities. That's one method, and the third is to use email marketing, either directly or indirectly. Maintaining your database and old email. Many people say cold emailing is bad, but try it for yourself or be selective in the audience you choose when cold emailing, and you'll get a response.
10. Did you find anything that didn't work as well as LinkedIn as a platform when you were building an audience or a community on LinkedIn? The question being related, we are building UUKI as a community platform where you can host your community members, have a direct relationship with them, and in the long term engage with them with live events, post discussions, and now courses as well. Did you think about building a community, or is it something you started thinking about for your take on this?
I believe in the power of communities. There are different ways in which people look at communities. For some people, a WhatsApp group is a community, or in this case, a UKKI or a mighty network is a community. It's important to build communities because that's the way in which you are going to have repeat customers. Coming back to the question where you asked about the difference between LinkedIn and communities, there's definitely a lot of difference. LinkedIn is more public in nature; you don't want to keep things private on LinkedIn; you want everything to be public out there. And while it's great for networking, and yes, there are a lot of LinkedIn groups, it lacks the feel of a community, even if there are groups. In a community, people are more close-knit; they want to share things with each other; they want to receive feedback from each other, and they want to guide each other. When you have a closer community, like in the case of UUKI, you can just put up a file and say, "Hey, I'm stuck here. Can somebody help me? Can somebody be my accountability buddy?" Those things are possible, or you know in a closer community, you basically need setup. So, while LinkedIn is great, I wouldn't say it's the best place to build your community in a sense.