Content Sparks Success Story – Ellen Finkelstein

 

In today’s Bright Spark online course success story, Sharyn Sheldon and Sarah Arrow chat with Ellen Finkelstein of Change the World Marketing.

Ellen shared all sorts of gems about how she's used online courses to make an impact by helping her own audience build businesses, including how she leveraged our course on ‘The Power of Storytelling in Marketing'. You'll also find out how you should be approaching your own online course planning, so that you can build a business you love.

Watch the video of the interview to learn more, or read the transcript below…

 

 

Sarah Arrow:

Hello, everybody in the Content Sparks community. I'm really excited to be here today with the fantastic Ellen Finkelstein who has just raised a really high standard for Bright Sparks community videos as she nearly burned down a house. So, if you want to be in these videos, you're going to have to do something more than Ellen, maybe burn down your garage as well. And you will see a little bit of that later on. Not too much because I don't want to spoil it for you. For those people in the Content Sparks community who don't know you, who never attended one of your incredible sessions that you've done with Sharyn, tell them all about you.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

The whole thing, right? My autobiography. I started as an author writing computer books, and I was writing books on AutoCAD, which is a drafting computer program and also PowerPoint.use online course content to write an ebook

I started my first website as an author platform in 1999, EllenFinkelstein.com. even though I was writing books on both topics, I focused on PowerPoint. And as I developed that website, I went from just really writing blog posts as a platform, to having an email list and then finally to creating my own eBooks and to sell them off of my website and being an author and having done pretty well with royalties, from published books, with McGuire Hill and Wiley. It was an amazing thing. For example, I had one book on AutoCAD. It ended up being about 1200 pages, which is crazy. And it sold for $50 full price, $30 on Amazon, but even at $50, the wholesale price was $25. And I got the 10% royalty, which is $2 and 50 cents.

But then I could write an ebook that was $10 and get, you know, $9 and 50 cent for, each one that I sold. And so that was a real eyeopener for me. And that was how I started selling things online, creating products, writing, and selling online, and really becoming an online entrepreneur and in 2011 or so, I created a local course to help other people create online. There are online businesses and that became changedtheworldmarketing.com. I decided that I really loved that. And I still have these two businesses, you know, it's definitely two things that I do. But I would say that most of my focuses on ‘change the world marketing’ right now.

 

Sarah Arrow:

Brilliant, and it's got a great title because we want to change the world in some way. So it inspires lots of people.

You've been in business a long time. What would you say are the significant events in your 21 year online business history that has caused you to pause for a moment and do perhaps a little pivot?

Now we've all experienced the COVID-19 that's made us do some little changes. We may have been in business long enough for the global credit crunch that caused us to do a little change in the movements in your career.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

One of them was that concept of realizing that I could sell my own books and make more money than working for publishers. So that was one of them. But another one I would say was just understanding that I could do more than write eBooks.

I could create courses. I could really teach people how to do this and creating that change the word marketing website, as part of that live course showed me that I could teach people the steps to do that. So, I think that was a big part of it.

 

Sarah Arrow:

Yes, a bit part of that pivot epiphany moment, when you realize, instead of getting $2.50 for your book, you can have $9.50 for a much shorter book.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Yeah. But you know, much easier book. One of the other things that happened was I started when my children were really young. And I also, we mentioned before, maybe before we started recording, that I live in Southeast Iowa. It's very rural, it's an hour and a half from the nearest airport and four and a half hours drive from anything. And so, I needed to work from home because my kids were really small.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

And now that they're grown up, and then my two boys at 30 and 32, I can travel anywhere I want and do it, you know, anything where, what I want, but in both cases, working online was really crucially the so I could stay home or so I could travel. And so that focus, you know, now with COVID-19, everybody's like pivoting from live presentations to online presentations. And I've been doing online presentations since 2007, actually for a long, long time. And so that has not been much of a pivot for me. I really liked the online space and I liked being able to reach.

webinars enable you to speak all over the world

I think that webinars are an amazing transformation, enabling speakers to speak all over the world. Whenever you want, you don't have to get somebody's permission. You can just put on a webinar and invite people. I've been doing for years a series called outstanding presentations workshop.

And the second year we did it, we got 3000 people from 97 countries. And that's just the kind of reach that is so amazing. It's really inspiring. And, and so I really think that being able to reach the world with your message, you can publish your own book, you can do it in writing. You can do webinars, which is speaking. And so, you can do whatever you want. You can reach people however they want. And I just think that's amazing.

 

Sarah Arrow:

Yeah. That's fantastic. 3000 people from 97 different countries, anybody else from the Content Sparks community, watching this, you got to bring your big numbers to these calls. More than 97 countries, I want more than 3000 on the webinars. Poor Sharyn's sitting there shaking her head!

So, you've mentioned speakers. Who else are your audience? Who else do you serve?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

The concept of change the world marketing is that the people who connect with me, they have a message, they have some knowledge, they have some experience to share with the world. And, basically the two ways that you do it is you either write it or you speak it. So besides speakers, I have authors, or content creators, and that's why Content Sparks has been, I think, is such a valuable service because the quality of what you create. I've had not only used it myself, but my coaching clients have used it. And so, it's really helpful as a way to start, especially when you're starting a business and you don't have your own content yet, and yet you want something that resonates with you.

And so, you know, I think that's been, been really valuable, but it's basically either writing or speaking or combination of both as a way to get your message out to the world.

 

Sarah Arrow:

That's brilliant because most people know whether they're a writer, a speaker, or they do both. And I think it was my attempting to avoid speaking that led me to write writing only to realize that it's probably easiest to speak.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Well, it's true that that people seem to have an affinity for one or the other. Some people are afraid of speaking. Some people find writing very tedious. And so, I often tell people if you're more comfortable speaking, then use the dictate features of both word and Google docs lets you dictate. And if it's easier for you to write, then you write out a script and you have something concrete that you can use for speaking that you can practice and get comfortable with.

 

Sarah Arrow:

That's brilliant. And you've mentioned you've been teaching online courses since was it 2011?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Yes. I would say since 2011, although I wrote my first ebook in 2007, I would say, but in terms of teaching courses, yeah, 2011.

 

Sarah Arrow:

So that's over 10 years’ experience, probably more than that because you probably talk in real life, live workshops and things like that. When you decided to make a shift to online courses, what problems were you looking to solve for your audience?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

A lot of it had to do with online marketing. So how to do the technology. I think a lot of people, especially people with some kind of inspirational message, their focus is not on the technology. They might not feel comfortable with it. So, a lot of it is how do you create an infrastructure for an online product or an online course, and then to expand that, how do you turn that really into a business?

So what's the whole infrastructure of having a website and having an opt in form and having an email list and marketing to that email list and creating partners to work with them, then creating products at different levels, you know, higher priced and lower price. And so on like that, maybe having coaching and having that all work together, the structure of an online business. So I think that it was partly the infrastructure that's technical, but also the strategy, what's your strategy? What's your business model and how do you make it work? So those were some of the problems I think that I was trying to solve for people.

 

Sarah Arrow:

And in delivering the training for your audience, how did that impact your business and your life? Did it make things easier for you or did you put up a course and have to re-evaluate everything? What is the story around your first course…

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

So, I'm not sure I remember which was my first course, except maybe that live course of how to create a business. But I think that I'm kind of a natural teacher and I'm also a natural studier. So, I would teach myself and then teach others. I learned a lot from teaching courses. I would have to do research in order to get everything straight. I would learn a lot and I like to fiddle around with things. And so, I would pick up tips and everything like that. I think I just dove in there with some knowledge that I had. And then by teaching it.

 

Sarah Arrow:

How did you discover Content Sparks?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Well, I think it was through NAMS, Sharyn. So, through David Perdew. We used to have conferences and that's where we met. That's where we actually met, at a NAMS conference, and we met, but we didn't really connect that much right away. So, you know, we talked or something like that, but then we connected again a second time and I'm not really sure how it happened, but I was on your mailing list. And so somehow we connected. I don't know if I bought some but I think we promoted each other. You promoted my PowerPoint. And you've been getting commissions ever since I think little, one little bit, you know, every month. And, you're a member of my membership, which is over ellenfinkelstein.com.

And I've promoted your things several times. You know, I've certainly promoted different products of yours as well. And as I mentioned before, I've also given a link to my clients for them to use. So, I have two clients, especially who've done a really nice job of turning your products into, into products that they, that they sell. One of them was part of a bigger course. And the other one was, was his first product that, you know, that really helped him move forward in his business because he works full time and it wasn't something where if he was going to, he wants to create a big course based on his book. He needed a low price product. And if he was going to create it for himself, it was going to put off his goals for a long time. So, it was really wonderful.

 

Sarah Arrow:

Okay. So, this is the question that I get to ask that puts you on the spot. Are you ready? Why did you choose Content Sparks?

There are lots of people that do the same as Content Sparks, but we both know they don't because the quality from Content Sparks is incredible. And yes, Sharyn pays me to say that, but I say that anyway, because I own practically everything.

So we know the quality  is really high, but aside from that, why choose Content Sparks? If somebody was on the bench and not knowing whether to go Content Sparks or to some rubbish company down the road, why would they choose Content Sparks?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

I think that you make different choices for PLR, for private label rights content based on the results that you want to, where you're going or where you are in your business or what your strategy is. So, I do buy PLR from other people, but I don't use them in the same way. So, I wouldn't use them to create a whole course,for example, The Power of Storytelling course, one that I turned in and I sold it for $149.  I think I would only use Contents Sparks for something like that because it was so complete and the quality was so high. It's just a different type of thing. And so, it just depends what you want.

I think that your content is especially valuable for creating online courses as opposed to just a low priced product. I think it came with, I don't know, six or eight modules, I eventually ended up calling them chapters and I replaced one completely that I didn't really like and replaced it with something else, which ended up being wonderful. I completely replaced the PowerPoint slides, because that's one of the things that I do. I wanted it to be very unique. So, one of the things that was so amazing about the course was all the examples, the examples of stories from different companies, but because I know that other people buy this as well, I wanted to put in all new ones.

And so it actually took quite a long time, but I wanted all new stories. One of the cool things that I did was, I don't know if you know, Tom's shoes, do you know? Tom's shoes, pretty famous business. And he has an amazing story where he went someplace in South America and he saw kids without shoes. And he decided he was going to give a pair of shoes for every pair of shoes that he sold and they do other things as well. And so, I actually wrote them and asked them if I could get permission to use their story and a screenshot from their website and they gave me permission to do it. And so that's kind of one of the things where I know it's unique because I asked permission and they gave me permission to do it.

 

And so that's part of the course that you can see the extent I went to to get unique stories. And some of them are from my experience, but others, I just researched to get new examples.

But the fact that you had examples for each type of story was the springboard or the inspiration for me to go find another one for each one there, as opposed to not having that, says it's about stories. So, you had to find stories, you know, it was applicable there.

So anyway, it was complete enough so that I could work with it and create what I consider to be a really good course. And I've sold lots of copies of it.

I did it live the first time with 11 people, and then now I sell it as an evergreen course and it's been very successful for me. So I was very pleased. So I just think that focus when you do really want to teach a course, then, you know, you know, content sparks would be my first choice for that. Although my other two, that my clients who bought them, one of them put it in a course that she had and the other one did turn it into a kind of ebook. But you know, so there are other ways of using it, certainly, but he, that one he really liked the content. You know, he was very impressed with the content.

He still feels a little uncomfortable selling something that he didn't write completely himself. And then also, we may, you had chapter in that one, this was the thing about going out of your comfort zone. That was the thing that he used. And there was a chapter there that was related to business about teams and it wasn't relevant to him at all because he's in the personal development area. So, we just took that chapter out. I told him to just take that chapter out completely and it really worked. It was great.

 

Sarah Arrow:

That's brilliant. Are we okay to talk numbers?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

So, obviously there were, I think I had a discount. I just counted it down to 99 for the first time for maybe nine of the people.

And two of the people paid 149, which is the current price. So I can figure out what that was. I mean, I certainly got my investment back quickly, like that. And I would say, first of all, it's also an upsell. I have a free offer that I made called the, write your story worksheet, which I didn't get from you. I created that myself, but that's my free offer that, that upsells to that. And so, it's become a whole funnel for me, you know, and I think that's an important thing. And then after that, I, you know, I can work with them in my reach, the stars club membership program, something like that.

 

Sarah Arrow:

Well, that sounds really good to have the product that was at the time of launch around $47 currently a little bit more than that, 140 something dollars. And then being able to sell that for 99 per person.

So eight people, so that's 800 and then two people or three people, one thing like that, 149. So that's another 450 that's 1,250 bucks. Now, obviously your time goes into that, but that's $1,200 profit. And even if we paid you $50 per hour, you're still looking at making six or $700 profit on that. And clearly being the expert, you are, you are more than $50 per hour. I'm just throwing a random number in.

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Yeah. Yeah. And it's hard for me to judge how much time I spent because I did it over a few months when I had time here or there, I would stop it and start and stop it and start it and add it. But it also, it was an important topic for me, partly because I do have this whole business around PowerPoint and speaking as well, or one of the nice things about the course was that I was able to promote it to both of my lists. So not only changed the world marketing, but my PowerPoint listed EllenFinkelstein.com. And so, I was able to promote, and then I have a LinkedIn list for training managers and they were interested too. So, I was able to promote it by email, to about 20,000 people. And then I was able to promote it to my LinkedIn list, which has over a hundred group, which has over a hundred thousand people. So, it was very usable in both the corporate world and my online marketing world. Those are the two businesses, the two markets that I have. So, it really bridged the gap very well. And it's a product that I'm proud of that I wanted in my, in my repertoire, my stable of products.

 

Sarah Arrow:

That sounds fantastic. Thank you for sharing that with us. And quite often, people, they don't fully understand the incredible return on your investment that you can get from using the brandable content, because you're starting with a base and packing it out with your knowledge, and like you say, with you and your clients, you take pieces out of it, you research and add in different stories and then it becomes wholly something of yours rather than just a brand course. So, my next, really tough question for you, brace yourself for this one. How has teaching courses impacted your life?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

I love to teach people. So it's, it's something that I really enjoy doing, and I love to teach people something that will help them. You know, I love to help other people do that. And so that's just been very rewarding. And of course, I do it and it's a business as well. So, I do it in a way that I make money teaching the courses. And so that's just been a very satisfactory business model for me to be able to teach people all around the world. Something that will help them, that, you know, for them to make money for them to get their message out, and yet make a living doing it. I can do it anywhere. We, we spend the winters down in Florida because Iowa is very cold. I have my laptop and you know, that's my office and I could do it anywhere that I want. So, it's just been a very fulfilling way to make a living.

 

Sarah Arrow:

That's brilliant. So I have to ask what are your plans because you've done all of this, Microsoft EDU, the AutoCAD PowerPoint, the change the world marketing, where is Ellen Finkelstein going in 2020, 2021. So in each one, where are you going in the next 10 years with your business?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

By 10 years, I hope to be retired, but, but now I'm planning a course that will be a high-end course, a high end six month course that will take people through the entire process. I call it knowledge to income blueprint. And so they take their knowledge and I'll take them from like zero to their first sales. And it's, they're different people. Some people have it. I just did a survey of my list and I was shocked at how many people said their knowledge is still in their head. That was the largest group of people. And then there was another group of people. The second largest was the knowledge is on their computer somewhere, but nobody's ever seen it. And then the third group was they have tried to get it out there, but not enough people came. And so, I want to help people learn how to promote what they have. And the fourth group was, they it's ready, but nobody has seen it yet. And so, I just want to help people through that process. People who have this message have this knowledge as valuable and just take them through the exact process of setting up a website, if necessary, you're setting up a, a free offer, setting up a product and learning how to promote it and sell it. And once they have that structure, once they know how to do that, they can do it over and over again. That's what I'm working on.

 

Sharyn Sheldon:

My first question is, since you've been using Content Sparks content for a while, what have you learned from yourself from using it?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Well, I've learned, first of all, I learned when I did power of storytelling, I learned some things about storytelling. You know, the content is good enough that I learned something from it, which is good. And when I promote it to my list, I often tell them that they can buy it to learn from it themselves. They don't have to think about selling it to others. So sometimes the value of the course is valuable enough just to buy it, learn from it.

So I've learned things from what I've bought as well, but I also learned how to use pre-written content as a product, how much I wanted to edit it. And everybody has their own level of wanting how much they want to edit it. You know, because I've been a writer and a speaker for so long and I'm a content creator. My level of wanting to edit is probably a little bit more extreme than others, but you know, I've learned how much I want to do that. And so I just, and I really, one of the things I really like about your products is you have these different levels. So you have just the content and then you have the teachers' content and you don't have these different levels so that you can buy something that's really a complete, ready to teach course right away. Because I'm such an editor. You know, I don't, that's not what I want and because I want to create all my own slides and everything, you know, that's not what I want. I just want the content. And then I go from there with it. But I certainly have seen how you can, you do you create these different levels with different people who have different levels of, you know, of, of need for creating products.

 

Sharyn Sheldon:

And so what would you say to someone else who's been through some of the same challenges as you and, and wants to move ahead in their business, maybe use courses to do that?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

Well, one of the things I would say is to use them strategically in part of your funnel.

So if you buy a course, then I would recommend extracting from that course, something for free, a freebie and you know, maybe a checklist or something like that, that's taken from the content. And so I would recommend creating that whole funnel with a, with a free offer and then upselling to the course.

Another thing that I do all the time and for me, it's easiest to teach the course live the first time and then recorded and then sell it as an evergreen course after that. And I think that's a valuable thing to do.

And finally, once you have that free offer, then you need to systematize putting that off that free offer in front of an ideal audience. And so, there are many ways of doing that. Some people use ads, but I use Facebook groups a lot for that. And so, I have a spreadsheet and I have different free offers and I've outsourced this to my virtual assistant. And so, every day she has something else to promote in a different Facebook group. And it's a cycle of four or five weeks that cycles around. And so, my offers get automatically get put out to appropriate groups that are not already on my list. You know, I can always promote to my own list, but this is getting it out there. It's free to do it.

It takes some time to organize it. But I think once you have that, then you have this stream of income that automates itself. And so that's, that's the way to do it.

 

Sharyn Sheldon:

That is brilliant. So where can people learn more about you and especially you have this whole course you're going to have coming up?

 

Ellen Finkelstein:

So changetheworldmarketing.com and can sign up for my email list and they'll find out about it.

Yeah. And I'll send you the link also to my free offer. Your story, the write your story worksheet, which was, which leads into the course that the power of storytelling course that we've worked on. It is the thing that's so cool about this worksheet. Not only should every online entrepreneur have their story or their signature story, and, but they should, but doing that, creating that story is actually a very meaningful, personal experience of going back and finding, sort of what you asked me here, how did you get to where you are and, and all of that. So it's a wonderful experience to, to fill out this, this worksheet. And so one of the things that I teach in the course and the full course by the way is something that I don't think, I don't know if anybody else teaches it, but people do it, but you know how, when you're on my list, you know how, like almost every day when I send out my email, I start with a little story about something I did today. So I teach this little micro storytelling of just being able to take anything you did and then connect it to anything you're trying to promote. And it's an amazing steal. And when I finally figured that out, it was, it was really an eyeopener for me that I could connect anything to anything like, Oh, I worked in my garden today. Well, you know, garden… things grow. So that's related to growing your business, you know? So, I mean, that's like basically the idea of it is that you connect anything to anything. So yeah, absolutely start with the right story worksheet and then maybe move up to the power of story time, because it really teaches some very life changing skills. Brilliant.

 

Sharyn Sheldon:

And I love that you pull stuff out, you add some of your own, you use the examples as inspiration – because everybody should be making it their own, using it as a starting point. And then making your own, you don't have to use everything that's there. You can take stuff out and create things. So, brilliant. I love this case study. I love the whole story that you told us about everything you've done and using it to grow.

And it's a brilliant example of how you set up a funnel, right. Using a course. One small course.

 

Link to Ellen's site:


https://www.changetheworldmarketing.com/

 

How to Use the Power of Storytelling in Marketing

How to Use the Power of Storytelling in Marketing


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Ellen Finkelstein


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  • This person (Ellen Finkelstein) was such a credible realistic person in this interview it was like a breath of fresh air. Interesting experiences and ideas presented in a thoughtful way. Not an ounce of hype. Well structured presentation weaving Content Sparks and her own products into the presentation yet never seeming pushy.

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