Do you struggle at all with building online courses that will be profitable AND get amazing results for your students?
I recently did a short audio interview (19 minutes) with Danny Iny of The Course Builder's Laboratory in which we discussed the following challenges:
- Differentiating yourself in a crowded market where many others are selling courses on the same topic as you (and some are from big names in the industry)
- Building the right amount of interactivity and support into an online course…. especially if you don't have access to a lot of resources
- Scaling a course to sell to large numbers of students, even if you're a small business or solopreneur
- Selling a course without having to be a ‘salesperson' or cheerleader
- Deciding how much content to provide for a higher-priced course
- Striking a balance in pricing between the ultra-cheap or free and the high-end premium courses
We even talked about whether the whole ‘self-study' approach to a course works at all – where it does and where it doesn't make sense.
You can listen in here:
We've put together a shortened transcript of the interview which pulls together general points:
How can course builders differentiate themselves when there are already so many people out there teaching courses on their topic?
The first question is to ask if there’s something missing.
If you can point to a competitor who’s already doing something perfect that gets everyone the outcomes they need and the price is right, then don’t build the course.
If you look around and feel there’s something that needs to be taught that isn’t, then there’s an opportunity.
Create something that fills that need and be clear about why you created it.
If people aren’t getting the outcomes they want, there’s going to be a market. You just have to make the case that you have that offer.
How do you handle not having the resources or staff to provide personal interaction?
Being an individual doesn’t mean that you can’t provide support; it just means you can’t provide it at scale.
If someone is working on their own and enrolls 10 students a month who pay $2000, they can probably afford to support them.
It’s about matching the level of support that your course requires for students to be successful.
You can provide that and start hiring people if you want to get that larger scale.
If you want to add extra interactivity and support, how do you balance helping them and making it an exceptional experience when maybe you don’t have the time?
You start with what you’ve got. If it’s a small amount of students and you’re offering more support, then you charge a premium.
It’s important to do that with a new course because you don’t know where people will get stuck.
Providing support to a small group doesn’t take a lot of time and allows you to charge enough to make it worth your while.
Use the experience to learn and reduce the support needed when you scale the course.
How can you make sure you still get enough interaction when you scale the course and start using things like recorded video?
By providing support early on you’ll see where people need help.
Questions people ask will either be specific to their situations, or they’ll be questions that everyone is asking.
As it becomes more scalable, it doesn’t mean there won’t be a way for people to reach out to you. There will still be a way for you to know if people have questions.
The key is to get to the point where the volume goes down so that it’s cost effective for you to do it at scale.
How do you tell at that point, when you are at scale, where people are stuck?
You find that out before you get to that scale.
People are still going to leave feedback, but the idea is to smooth out those speedbumps before you get there.
Do you have tips for how to still get interactivity when you’re using recorded content?
Interactivity is a function of what is the most valuable outcome for your student
Sometimes a self-paced experience is great, and at others they might need to be able to post progress.
You might use technology that checks off their progress, or have them send in updates for you to check off so that you know they’re on track.
You can use automation technology to send them emails if they don’t log in for a certain amount of time.
This is built from the insights you gain as you work with people more directly on a smaller scale.
How can a seller break through cultural differences in countries where the typical American cheerleading type of selling makes them uncomfortable?
You don’t need to be that type of seller to be successful.
That approach might resonate with certain markets, but doesn’t with mine.
We have a large proportion of students in Canada, the UK and Australia where the over-the-top aggressive approach doesn’t work as well.
There are a lot of larger enough markets to support any individual business so that you don’t have to worry about adopting a style that isn’t yours.
You have to find a way to be as effective as you can that aligns with your style – what we teach you to do through our program.
Any tips you could share now for people to get over the ‘sales pitch’ challenge?
As that’s a very context specific question, no.
But that does underline why in certain contexts, coaching and individual attention is important.
Every student in our program gets a dedicated coach on our team to make sure everyone gets the support and answers they need.
Do they get actual practice with the selling part of the equation?
We have multiple modules about the selling and enrolling of students.
We share multiple strategies and approaches, give them the steps, templates, blueprints, simulations and examples. There are opportunities to practice, get your feet wet and step out of your comfort zone in a controlled way.
This is in a way to not freak you out or overwhelm you, but empower you to stretch your abilities and be able to do more.
How do you handle people who come to you and say ‘Such and such (big name guru) says do this’, and you have to say ‘well that’s not right’?
That’s amazing when it happens because it doesn’t have to be just your word against theirs.
You can say ‘this is why I don’t think that’s a great suggestion’ and explain the different of your approach.
Jay Abraham said that if you articulate the problem better than they can, they will trust that you have a solution.
You earn credibility by speaking the truth in a way that’s clear and compelling to your listeners.
It’s not a problem – it’s a wonderful opportunity.
When someone gets confused, what do you do? As you add more interaction, do you raise the price and give more content?
Higher price is not justified by more content. It’s justified by getting to a better outcome faster.
The solution is often not about adding content, it’s about taking it away and becoming more focused, taking away the things that are distracting or confusing.
Working with students gives you feedback as to what matters and what you need to zero in on. Sometimes that means providing more support and you learn to do that in a way that’s focused and dedicated.
You need to evolve towards a situation where you can do less but deliver more because that’s what matters to your student.
How do you get to the middle ground between cheaper or free Udemy-type courses and the really high-price expensive ones?
Why would you want to be in the middle?
Udemy is information – not real education. There’s not much in the way of support or interactivity. They’re not expensive legitimately. That’s what they’re worth and that’s great.
There are a lot of issues with the higher end courses that cost a lot and don’t provide much more than that.
It’s a decision of do you want to be providing information which is low cost, low value, or high cost, high value?
You want to be pricing based on the values and outcomes you’re offering.
Does the self-study model work?
My perspective is that usually no, but it depends on the student.
There are students who are going to be successful no matter what – they’re motivated and it doesn’t matter how much the course sucks, they’re going to do well.
There are also students who aren’t going to be successful, no matter what. Even if you hold their hand as they do the homework they’re never going to take action.
Don’t worry about either of these groups.
Then there’s everyone else in the middle and this comes back to information vs. education. Information is good at broadening horizons and giving knowledge that can be integrated into existing expertise.
Information isn’t good at giving you a level of competence that you don’t already have – you need education for that.
Self-study is not usually effective at growing from a certain level of knowledge to a higher level.
So the way to differentiate yourself from those who just put an eBook out there is to add that extra bit of support that’s going to help them implement things?
Which is what gets people results and has the benefit of allowing you to charge a premium because it’s worth it.
Any last tips?
A lot of people will struggle with uncertainty. The answer is not to worry if you stumble a bit – everybody stumbles.
Get started and get out there.
My hope is that a lot of you will do this through us. We don’t just teach you the steps to follow; we offer you the support.
We provide the guidance that allows us to guarantee your outcomes. We’re so confident we says ‘if you follow my program and you don’t get the results you want, you’ll get double your money back’.
I’d love to work with a lot of the people who are listening to this through our program.
If you'd like to learn more about Danny's program – The Course Builder's Laboratory – click on the link below:
I rarely recommend another person's training program, but Danny's checks off every single box of what a good course should have… if you want to get results.
So, if you've decided you want to create a profitable online course as part of your business, I highly recommend you check out Danny's.
Want the full transcript of the audio interview? Just click on the button in the box below to download a copy: