Transcript: Creating a Successful Online Course: From Idea to Sales Page [rebroadcast]- DS519

Doug: Hey, what’s going on. Welcome to the Doug show. My name’s Doug Cunnington. And today I’m going to talk about digital products, specifically online courses. And go into some of the details. I’m a huge fan of digital products in general, over the last, uh, I would say. A few months, I’ve been trying to interject some of that information into my YouTube videos, into some of the emails that I send out. And I, we ended up. Looking back at my vast archive of episodes. And saw that I actually talked about digital products and online courses in the past. As a extremely lazy person, always looking for shortcuts.

I thought, Hey, what the fuck? I will rebroadcast this episode. It looks like I talked for about an hour, so there must be some great information in here. It was a good episode. I actually went back and looked at it and it’s a good episode. So this is a rebroadcast, but it’s been a while. It’s been a while since I actually published it before. So I feel confident even if you listen to it in the past. It’s still going to be valuable. Even if you’ve already released online courses before, um, this should be helpful as well. And if you haven’t, I will point you in the direction of a, uh, free resource.

I put together a short guide. I think it’s like a little more than a page. And it goes through several different digital products, just in case online courses don’t sound like the right fit for you right now. It basically asked you a few questions and based on your skillset, your interests, the kind of products you want to create, it points you in the right direction so that you hopefully can create a digital product that works for you, your working style and your preferences.

So I’ll put a link in the description so that you can check it out. And again, it’s very short. I have been doing some new resources like this. And I put them in a Google doc instead of a PDF, a PDF is static. So once you download it, I cannot update it in the future. But if it’s a Google doc, when I realized, Hey, I have more information to add to it.

And maybe you end up going back to it in the future. I can update it. So it is a living document that you can reference without further ado. Let’s hear all about digital products and online courses. Have a great day out there, please make sure you check out. And download the free resource. It’s a very helpful. We’ll talk to you on the next episode, but keep listening, keep listening. Um, I’m treating this like I’m signing off, but the episode is just about to start.

 Intro Music

Doug: Hey, what’s going on? Welcome to the Doug Show. My name’s Doug Cunnington, and in this episode I’m gonna be talking about online courses and other digital products. This episode was inspired by Kyle, longtime listener. He emails me every now and then, and I was happy to see this email from Kyle not too long ago, and he referenced the fact that I talk about online courses.

Occasionally I sell an online course. I don’t mention it too often. Perhaps not often enough here on the show, but I have a few courses actually, and I haven’t talked about actually like creating a course or how I market it or anything start to finish. Kyle asked about courses and my process for creating, uh, a course, how I get the ideas, how to outline it, hosting the course and the sales page, and then promoting the course on the website and via email. So he actually gave me further information here , I’ll read that out in a second.

But generally, here’s what we’re gonna. We’ll talk about the things that Kyle asked about, but we’ll get into some of the specifics, especially around, I guess, outlining the course and then the early sales portion. I do it a specific way. I think it’s a pretty popular way to do it. I won’t spoil it for you here early on, but I think it’s a fairly popular way to do it and that’s the way I saw people do it.

When I was coming up and I actually took a course on courses back in the day, it was called Seven Figure Courses by Derek Halburn, and I think he shifted from like the online influencer in course creator space to, I think he has like a health brand that he partnered with someone, but he did really. On YouTube.

I watched a ton of his YouTube videos. I think he had a podcast for a little while too. And he, for whatever reason, he was like, all right, I’m moving on to something else. But I took a course on courses and a lot of this stuff that he taught, I executed, it was a very expensive course, by the way, highly valuable.

I made the money back like within the first launch, which was amazing. So that is one of the reasons I had confidence in selling courses, cuz I got so much out of various courses that I took, started very small. When I started learning about earning money online, I would get like a hundred dollars course and that was a lot.

I was like, oh my gosh, this is some stranger on the internet, should I even trust them? And I leveled up over and over again and I’ve purchased a couple courses that were like, say three to $5,000 in that price range there. Usually I’ll get the, you know, the top tier. Not always, it depends on what the course is, but often I would get that top tier.

And anyway, I’ll go through a lot of that stuff. Kyle does ask about hosting the course, and I will give a plug. I’ve used many different course platforms and tested them out. When I first started, I had like a self-hosted WordPress plugin, so I managed the course myself, which was mostly fine, but now I use Kajabi so I was using.

Other course platforms in the past and I’ve tested them out. But Kajabi is great. I’m an affiliate by the way, so I get a commission if you sign up. But they have email marketing built in. They have funnels built in. You could host your website there if you want to. I already was hosting my website on my own WordPress instance, so I only host a course there.

They have a community aspect, they have coaching. You can put your podcast there. Basically, it’s a full suite of marketing products and I only use like the course and the email, maybe some of the funnel design, but that kind of fits into the marketing piece as it is. I don’t use the podcasting, I don’t use the website hosting cuz I already had solutions for that.

I don’t like managing communities, so I don’t use that portion. And for the coaching, I usually just do it outside of Kajabi as well. Whenever you have a all in one type solution, it’s almost never best in class for any of the solutions. But I would say Kajabi is above average, average for most all of the things that it can do.

So I’m confident in recommending it and when I talk to people that have used it for a while and they’ve moved around, having everything together integrated within the product that you’re buying is really useful. So when I had my own WordPress instance of my course, it was, it was working fine, but I was using like AWeber, I was using.

Evergreen Funnel, probably I think a couple other products, and I had to use Zapier to integrate them, which was great. Zapier’s a fantastic tool to integrate these different things that don’t normally fit together. However, whenever one of those things breaks and they do break, they always break because there are upgrades.

Someone, one of the, one of the applications will upgrade. They’re doing something, and then it breaks the integration, and then you have to troubleshoot and figure out what’s going on. If that happens at the wrong time, say during your launch week, it could be big trouble. So anyway, having all of that tech stack under one.

It’s super helpful. You don’t have to troubleshoot it yourself. It doesn’t mean things won’t go wrong, it just means you don’t have to, you don’t have to be the one trying to figure out what’s wrong when you have no business troubleshooting such issues. So anyway, I like Kajabi a lot. I’ll put my affiliate link if you wanna check it out, but they do all the things that you need it to do.

Like I said, email marketing and course hosting is the main thing that I use. And like I said, it’s not gonna be number one top in class for any one thing, but it’ll do whatever you need it to do. You may have to make some compromises and whatever, figure out other solutions, but you’ll be fine.

Trust. and it is, it’s a little more expensive if you’re just looking at it for one of those things. But when you add all of it together, it was much cheaper. I was probably paying, like, I can’t quite remember, it’s been a few years. I’ve been using Kajabi for like three years. I think I was paying something like 800 to a thousand dollars a month on like the software that I was using.

And with Kajabi I’m paying like 150 bucks a month, something like that. So it’s, it’s way cheaper if you use, , all the things that you can take advantage of, I guess. Okay. So we’ll start out going back to the email that Kyle sent. So he gave me some preliminary information and he said I can mention this on the podcast.

So he has one, the website, seven years old domain rating of 43. He has 560 blog. Monetization breaks down with 50% affiliate sales and 50% display ads. Affiliate sales break down 80% from one course and 20% from other digital products and physical products. The average revenue is $5,000 per month. The average monthly expenses are $3,500 per month, and it’s kind of high because currently there’s a an aggressive content push.

So he is publishing a lot of content, paying writers or an agency. The email list has 1800 subscribers, and that is made up of buyers and non-buyers. So it’s the, the full audience, 2023 goals, build more links. So he’s neglected that since 2020, and he wants to create and sell his own digital course primarily through email.

He has been putting off creating a course because number one, it seems really hard. Number two. Video seems hard. Number three, creating a sales page with a good hook also seems hard. And number four, he’s worried that the course won’t be able to compete with everyone else’s.

his concerns are very common and very normal. So we’ll break down everything here. And the way I like to approach digital products and courses is to kind of remove the risk so you’re never over committing.

One of my students, Christie, who’s been featured on the the show many, many times, she went, I encouraged her to create courses. , it was a good way to sort of de-risk and kind of diversify the platform, the earnings and all that stuff. She, she’s old school, even though she’s younger than me, she’s old school, and she was like, I want to create the course before I try to sell it.

And it, I fought with her every single time we talked . I still stand by that. That was a horrible decision. And basically you should always pre-sell the course. So this is the, the number one thing to take away here. So you need to think about testing the course idea. And this pre-sale is the way that you validate your market.

If you try to do surveys, if you try to, do calls, if you try to ask people what they think, their opinions are interesting, but largely useless. . If people are talking to you, if people are going through the survey, you don’t know how truthful they are, especially if they’re like face-to-face. You get them on a call, y they don’t wanna disappoint you.

Or if, I mean, even worse, if you’re asking like family and friends, that’s like the worst place to get advice. It doesn’t really matter what they think. The only way to truly validate your idea is to pre-sale the course. You have to pre-sell it. If you don’t, then you risk developing the whole course and then no one buys it, which is really defeating.

If you try to pre-sell the chorus and then no one buys it, then you know that it’s either the wrong audience, the wrong. product or the wrong price point. There might be a couple others, but those are gonna be the three main things. There’s other ways you can validate the idea. You can look for competitors, you can look for, you know, people that have the problem.

Maybe they’re in forums or Facebook groups or somewhere. But if you, or, or even, old school research, you can go to, , the bookstore, check out the magazine rack, and you find an a magazine in that niche and you see like what problems people have. There’s probably advertisers in there that solve that problem.

You have to think about how big the problem is as well, and you need to find a problem that people will actually pay to solve. , you go through that list, you probably have a pretty good idea. The, the big thing is like, if you know that there are other courses out there or other products that solve the problem, then you know that people are buying the course.

There’s a market there. So I mean, you can use, some tools to gather information. Like I said, the surveys, focus groups, social media, you can get some ideas, but like you don’t know if they’re actually gonna pay until you do the pre-sale stuff. If you have an email list, like Kyle, then you can just ask your, your list, you know, what are you struggling with?

They’ll tell you. Maybe you have some idea from like YouTube comments. It doesn’t even have to be your YouTube channel. You can look at videos in the niche and understand the issues and questions that people have. So if you can identify the main. Pain point, or at least several of the main pain points, then you probably have a decent course idea.

The one of the concerns that Kyle mentioned was just competing with the other courses out there, and I can’t remember if I wrote this in the outline coming up and I wanna mention it now. If you have a, an audience, if you have like some personality integrated, some branding integrated into your site or your podcast or whatever your platform is, people will want to learn from you specifically, even if there are other courses and other information available.

If you have an audience, there are some people who like you enough that they wanna learn from you and not another person. Maybe they trust you more. Maybe you have a similar background as them. Maybe there’s just some intangible thing. that they have detected wherever your platform is. So if you’re able to put it in your own words and your own branding, some people will wanna learn from you versus anyone else.

Even if there are great competitors, don’t worry about that so much. If you have an audience, you’re gonna be okay. The next part, right? So you have your idea, you’ve sort of validated it in a couple ways. The next part is outlining the course. So it is key to do this, right, because it helps you design the whole course and it helps you design the sales page.

It also , it’s, it’s big for the sales page, all right? And we’ll come to that in a second. But basically it helps you organize your thoughts and be really specific about what you’re teaching. Now, if it’s your very first course, there’s a strong argument to go for a sort of, I’ll call it a mini-course, but it’s just a course, and I’ll make a distinction.

There’s a, I don’t want to call it mini, but we’ll say it, a small course that teaches you to solve one problem. There are other courses that are considered in air quotes, flagship courses, and they take you through a transformation. They take you from Y like being completely new to being an expert, right?

So that solves several problems. Quick example, for my course, multi profit site, you can start not knowing anything about websites or keyword research, not know anything about WordPress, and by the end, you will know about all those things, perhaps be expert level and be able to earn a full-time income.

from the website. So you start nothing. You’ll learn a bunch of shit. You’re transformed into this side, hustling, badass, whatever. I have taken specific little pieces out of there or created like other courses that solve other problems, smaller problems. So I have a the productivity masterclass and it teaches you to get more done in less time.

It doesn’t take you from A to Z, it’s taking you from like A to F or something like that. It’s a much smaller course. It is primarily text-based. There’s a few videos in there. It’s a much smaller course and correspondingly it’s much cheaper. So the point being, if you are working on your very first course, it’s really great to focus on.

A single problem and just solve that one problem. Versus a flagship transformational course, you can select one of the transformational units or sections and just take that one piece out and create a small course that solves one problem. And then later you can essentially take that course and insert it into your flagship transformational course.

And it is okay, you know, if you, you could figure out if you wanna credit people that purchase the, the one problem course, the smaller course, if you wanna give them a discount code to buy the, the big flagship, that’s cool. Like, that’s just a problem to solve. Really simple and platform. Kajabi and the, the main thing is it makes it simpler and easier to create the course and you don’t have to do as much work to get started.

And I am a big fan of incrementally adding complexity and difficulty. So it can be completely overwhelming. If you’re thinking transformational course five units, three lessons per unit or more, that’s overwhelming. But if you’re doing the smaller course, it’s say one or two units and there are two or three lessons per unit, it’s much smaller, much easier to manage and it will make it less stressful.

And then you could incrementally add complexity later. . The other great part is if you select one unit to build out first, then when you insert it into the big flagship course, you’re in great shape. It’s fantastic at that point because you can just I mean, you’ll, you’ll just insert it. So you may have to put some context around it to make sure people know that it’s part of the, the full course now.

But essentially, you’ve done a part of the work already. So you outline the course, cover all the necessary topics. It’s really important to, to do it is a draft, right? So nothing has to be permanent. You just need to get some ideas on paper. And most likely you’re gonna end up in a situation where you may have to add some stuff later, and that’s totally fine.

Like what might happen is people will ask questions and you realize, oh, I need to create a mini lesson based around these frequently asked questions that I see. So, couple things about the outline. So you’ll have an intro, kind of get people primed and ready for learning. So that could be, you know, part of like your background, your story, or maybe a student story or someone that you’ve coached or something like that.

So they can kind of see what’s coming up. You will literally tell them what’s coming up. So you can kind of think about this as like a, a talk that people might give at a conference or a speech or something like that, or a lecture, right? So you give a little intro, then you tell people what they’re gonna learn and then they know kind of what you’re gonna go over, kind of primes them a little bit and then, tell them, and then at the end you’re going to summarize it.

So fairly straightforward. You could check, check out some books on the, the topic area. So there, there are probably, maybe not always, but there are probably books that teach the same thing that your course might teach. So you can look at their table of contents and see how they organized it and give you a really good idea about what you need to put in there.

You can go to the library, you can go to a bookstore, you can look on Amazon and just check out what the table of contents are. And that really makes it easier. So you will probably, if you do that, you’ll probably spend more time editing. You don’t wanna put all that stuff in there. It’s probably way too much, but that’ll give you a really good idea how to structure it.

Now you want to. , make sure that you have some personality in there. Make it entertaining and informative. Everyone has a different presenting style, but if you are making it more engaging, putting, say stories in there, whether it’s from you, whether it’s from like a book or an expert out there, or people that have taken the course or worked with you specifically, those stories and examples are really good.

And again, it’s totally fine to use a story that is not yours. Just give credit, right? Don’t pretend like it’s yours but you. Maybe you read a great section in a book and you’re thinking, this is fantastic. I want to use like this storyline as something to make a point in my course. So you could integrate all that stuff into your outline.

So you have your outline, you kind of know what you’re gonna cover. You’ve done some external research. via books or other courses or anything that you can get your hands on that has like organized information, you can use those ideas. You don’t have to recreate the wheel. So up next is hosting in the sales page.

So we’ll tackle hosting. I’ve plugged Kajabi. I really like it. I personally use it. I left, other solutions. However, there are other options, right? A lot of people use Teachable. A lot of people use shit. I can’t remember some of the other names out there. I would not go with Udemy specifically. To my knowledge, they don’t have as much flexibility on how much you’re gonna charge for the course.

And they always run discounts and sales. I bought a couple courses, um, I think like three courses in the last couple months on photography and. They were on sale for like 10 bucks a piece. That’s why I bought three, like from their normal price of whatever, 80, 150 bucks. I don’t remember. It was like a chunk that I probably wouldn’t have spent, on three courses.

But if I could buy three and they were all discounted, like 80, 90%, I’ll, I’ll buy ’em. That said, you know, I wouldn’t go with, , Udemy just because they run huge discounts. There’s other platforms on there at this point, it’s probably a commodity. It’s very probably comparable on different platforms.

I just like Kaja because it’s all in one full marketing suite and the course hosting, so it, it fit the bill for what I needed to do. You can’t try to host it yourself, but I would not really recommend that so much. And one area to look at more closely is the ability and flexibility of. Having affiliates.

So having affiliates to help sell your course really effective. And sometimes maybe you want to make it easy for people to sign up, maybe you wanna make it easy for people to, I guess, get paid. And then maybe you want to give custom commission rates to certain people. Make sure you understand what capabilities the course platform solution has for affiliates. Sometimes you can’t adjust all that stuff. So as far as creating the sales page, I was coming up during a, maybe a transitional time on the internet. So some of the course sales pages and product sales pages that I saw were super long form with a yellow text and they looked like you shouldn’t trust them.

But that’s just how people did things. So I actually bought some courses like that, but things shifted and now they are a little more sophisticated. They don’t have the blinking pink text or whatever kind of nonsense. And honestly, these days you probably can get a template that tells you exactly what to put in each section.

And depending on the price of the course, you can have a very short sales page or a much longer one. Generally. I mean, that is a pretty good rule of thumb if you’re selling a course for like $27. Maybe it just needs to be one page, right? You can tell people what you need to tell them there. If it’s $270, maybe it needs to be like five pages.

I’m making up the length here. If it’s $2,000, maybe you need like 15 to 50 pages to explain. your story, have testimonials, have information about what’s in the course. And I’m talking, you know, big flagship courses. I haven’t checked out how long my sales page is, but it is extremely long. It is extremely, very, very long.

The flagship course is like a thousand or it’s 500 to $2,000. So I need to explain what’s in the course. I need to tell my story. I need to have plenty of testimonials. But if you have a smaller course that is cheaper, it could be much, much shorter. You shouldn’t be afraid of the, the sales pages. And I think these days probably I would go over to chat G p T and say, what should I include on a sales page for X kind of product?

Here’s the price range and it can probably give you a template and tell you where to plug. Plug in your content. You probably can put in some of the core pieces of information and it will. probably do a really good job on the sales page. That said, when I was starting, I would keep a very small swipe file.

So the concept is people will see some sales copy that they like, maybe it’s a sales page or something like that, and then they’ll file it away and they’ll come back to it whenever they’re writing something similar to get some ideas from it. Maybe it’s formatting, maybe it’s a specific phrase. Maybe it’s a story in there and they wanna find something similar, but in some way they like something so they put it in their swipe file so they can swipe the idea and use it on their own.

You shouldn’t, you know, copy people’s exact words or anything like that, but it’s just like inspiration and research. So if I bought a course, I usually would take that copy and everything that they did, and I would put in my swipe file. So I started gathering ideas like that. Additionally, Some of the webpages that I was using or not webpages, but I guess it wasn’t, it wasn’t exactly a WordPress theme, but some of the, I guess page builders, they had a lot of templates built in.

Some of them were long form sales pages and basically it just put placeholders in. So you could just go to the section and type in what you needed to, to have like the testimonial or your story or what’s in the course, all those details. Maybe there’s a money back guarantee, right? So it would tell you exactly what to put in there and you can just fill it in.

Like many things. It is an iterative process and your first pass through, it’s gonna be not that great. , you can edit it in the future. Maybe after you get some interaction with your audience, maybe actual students that went through the course, then you’ll have really specific things that you can actually put into the sales page.

But generally, you should be able to find a really good template that does a good job and can take people from being curious about your course to actually buying the course. As I mentioned, I want you to pre-sell the course. I think most of the course platforms out there have like free training, and while I haven’t gone through any of them, , I’m 90% sure they probably tell you that you should pre-sell your course.

I’m 99% sure because if you don’t pre-sell your course, you are essentially. putting all your time at risk because you don’t know if people are gonna buy your course. So how will people trust you enough to do the pre-sell? So here’s the thing, you are always upfront. I pre-sold all this shit that I worked on and in the last couple years I have known that the courses will sell.

So I’ll go ahead and develop them. I don’t pre-sell something if I know that it should fit for the audience. So my last like three to four courses, no pre-sale, I just sold it and it was fine. I had a few years under my belt and I knew that those were products that were going to work just fine. So that said, always be upfront.

So my very first product was an ebook. Those were kind of popular in 2013 and I pre-sold it. , I decided if I sold 10 of them or more, then I would move forward with the ebook and write it. If I didn’t, then I would go back to the, the drawing board and figure out if it was the wrong audience, wrong product, or the wrong pricing.

So I had an email list, only a few hundred people, I’m wanna say like three or 400 or so. And I sold an ebook for like a hundred bucks. So it was really cool. 11 or 12 people purchased, I think maybe 12 people purchased. Then one of ’em dropped out after like a couple days. They said, ah, I’m not interested.

But I was up front and I said, this is an alpha version, not even a beta. This is an alpha version. This is gonna be. , I’m going to spend a lot of time with you. I’m gonna talk to you. If you have any questions, I’m gonna answer the emails and then we’ll fix it in the beta version. And the people that I was learning from were doing just this with their own courses.

They were releasing an alpha, pricing it a little bit cheaper because it’s gonna be lower quality because it’s a first version. They would have a beta, which was a little more expensive, but still lower than the final price. And then they would have an actual release. So there was like a three phase situation these days.

I mean, you could just do like a beta version, charge people a little bit less, give them a little bit more, right? So I, I wanted to interact with the people that bought the first version because I needed their input to improve the course for the final version or alpha beta. Each time you want to iterate, you want to improve it.

Constant improvement. So you’re upfront, you tell them, Hey, , this is a pre-sale. The, the course is not going to be out until X date. I am pre-selling it now. So you can get in early, it’s going to be cheaper. You’re going to get specific interaction with me. Maybe it’s one-on-one, maybe a 30 minute call. You can really get a lot of information.

It’s great for the student. They get like one-on-one coaching, but you get a ton of information, real market research after someone has gone through the course and then it’s a little bit cheaper. You get that little extra and it’s a good sort of a good compromise, a win-win situation for both you and the student.

And when you get the final version done, then all the beta people, they always get. the latest version and they paid less for it. And those are gonna be your best customers. They trusted you up front. So you, you let people know that it’s presale, it’s going to be released, they’re gonna get extra interaction and they’re gonna have lifetime access.

They’re gonna get the updates, all the good stuff, right? Very low downside for them. You could also put a note in there if you want to, you don’t have to do this, but you could put a note and say, Hey, if we don’t reach a minimum, um, number of students, then you know, the course won’t be released. I would say you potentially could leave that out if you set the, the bar at, 10 students and only nine people showed up to pay you.

I mean, that’s a borderline and maybe we move forward with it. But here’s the thing, you could back out, right? So, If you don’t hit the minimum number, you could refund the money and say, Hey, I’m retooling the course. You could be a hundred percent transparent too and you could say, we didn’t get enough students.

There’s some kind of mismatch here, and I, I would personally do that. I would just say, Hey, there’s some kind of mismatch. I appreciate the support. Let me know if I could help you with anything. Happy to answer your questions. Actually, will you jump on a call with me? I would love to hear what your problems are and maybe it gives you an idea to how to retool the course or the outline and that’s, you know, really all you need to put in the pre-sales.

Like here’s what we’re gonna cover. Your transformation should be A to G or A to B or whatever. And just so they understand like what is in the course, if you have to back out, that is okay. You. The thing is, it’s a win. You saved yourself a lot of wasted time. So if it doesn’t work out, refund the money.

Tell the people why. See if you can get more information and then figure out, what the fuck you have to do next. But generally, you shouldn’t feel, you shouldn’t feel too bad about having a pre-sale fail. You should feel really bad if you develop the course and then you tried to sell it and then nobody bought it.

There’s a huge fucking waste of time. And why I encouraged Christie so often to like, you know, you gotta pre-sell this stuff. Everyone’s quite used to it. They’re not afraid. You’re gonna take their money, they’re paying with a credit card, they’re very protected.

If you don’t deliver, they’re gonna get a, they’re gonna get a charge back. So whatever platform you’re looking at, you’re gonna be able to refund them very easily. It’s no big deal. Pre-selling is a normal thing to do. And number one tip. So I’ll, I’ll move on from here. Another tip for the sales pages. So once you do have, um, some interaction with your audience, whether it’s before the course, whether it’s while you’re trying to sell the course, you’ll have emails and real accounts of people with the problem.

You actually can snag this from like YouTube or Facebook groups as well. If you can use the real emails, the real words that people use that actually have the problem that you’re trying to solve, then it’s very powerful. That’s what you want when a. Person is reading the page. You want them to think, oh, I have that exact problem.

I type that exact question into Google. I was asking my spouse about that just the other day. And this person really knows the issues that I’m suffering with and they can help me solve my problem. So if you could use the exact words that people use, it will make you stand out because you seem like you understand the problem.

Okay, so there are a few things. I won’t make this, uh, an exhaustive list cuz I, I don’t have one. But there are some things that you should definitely put on the sales page that might not be obvious. One is testimonials. Two is a very clear call to action. Like, go do this. Like go sign up, download the course now.

Get access right now. I mentioned it before, you should have some sort of a guarantee. I like to have like a 30 or 60 day guarantee. You could put specific details around it if you want to. But I would go, find courses that are similar to yours, see what they’re putting on their money back guarantee, and just remove the risk.

That is the idea. You wanna remove the risk from the student and you take on that risk. I typically have between, I would say, five to 10% of a refund rate. So there were times when it was a little bit higher, sometimes a little bit lower. It just depends. I don’t know why, but there will be some number of refunds sometimes, if your sales material is really.

Sometimes people will purchase that really should not have purchased, and then they’ll, couple days later, they’ll have the buyer’s remorse set in and then they’ll think, I sh I shouldn’t have bought that. And that, that happens. I have worked on my sales material for several years and I mean, honestly, it took me like two years.

It took me eight launches to iterate and get it really good. And the first launch, I don’t share this too often, but like one of the first launches that I did, or actually the first launch of my flagship course, it was like 10 or 12 k. Pretty good. Nice launch. Slowly over time, over the two years I was optimizing.

I was changing little things. I was making the offer a little bit better and. The biggest one that I had was like a 70 K launch, which is a lot. And I was, I mean it was slowly growing, but when I had that one I was like, that is bananas. That is a lot of money. And you know, some interest in the course and the, the market and the amount of work that I do is less so.

My launches are not that big anymore. But the, the point is I worked really hard optimizing, so to your point, Kyle, some of this stuff is hard. And I’ve talked to a couple friends and they like tried to launch and it was kind of okay and they made a, you know, a couple thousand dollars and they weren’t happy with it and they stopped iterating.

It’s a motherfucker. To do this sometimes, like you’re changing things that you won’t know if it worked until a few months later. And it’s a very slow process depending on the price of your course and how much work you’re gonna put into it and the thumb screws that you could turn and all that stuff.

But some of the lunches were big, some of them were smaller, but it took a very, very careful, uh, set of thumb screws to kind of hone it in. So I feel very good about like some of the sales material. Okay. One of the other big tips, use concise language if you can. Make it shorter. Make it shorter. And I’m saying that as someone with a really long sales page, I’ve trimmed some stuff out here and there, put in the countdown timers.

They work, it looks, I don’t know, it’s not scammy. I don’t use like the evergreen timers that are fake. Mine are real timers. Cuts off, and then the time ends. So I do true launches. Scarcity works. Scarcity works. So you could either do it by limiting the amount of time that people could purchase. So I do one launch per quarter, and the scarcity works if you want to limit it in a different way.

You can make it a certain number of seats. Now, if you are saying, Hey, I’m only selling 10 of these, you have to give like a real reason why I’m pretty upfront and I will say it takes support, right? I support the course myself. So if I. Can only handle a certain number of students because I know there are a certain number of questions.

Then I could limit it and say, I’m only doing, five people with one-on-one coaching. That’s it. I’m not gonna do any more than that. So you can have scarcity in the amount of time or the number of seats, but it works. And if you don’t use scarcity, if you just have your course evergreen and you don’t have an evergreen funnel set up, then people will, you.

You just won’t sell as many. You just won’t sell. Sell as many. Testimonials are critical and people wanna see someone that is similar to themselves. And that is one thing. If you go check, check out my sales page. I have single men, I have family guys, I have almost retired people, I have single women, I have mothers.

I have a wide range of people. So that. There’s a good chance that a person might identify with the IT project manager or the single mom who also has a full-time job, right? So I, I pepper in that stuff and I think it’s really important that people wanna see someone similar to them. Okay. This is getting a little long, so I’m gonna, I’m gonna start wrapping it up here.

And as far as promoting the course, I like email. I have tried video courses, but when I was going through some copywriting courses and some other sales materials, I, I was, I was like, I wonder, why my video, my videos are not converting as good as what everyone says they should. And part of it is like, the people that were telling me, , the videos should convert better.

We’re selling something related to video or webinar promotion or something like that. And Ramit Satie, I took several of his CORTI courses and he mentioned that if this was based on, I think some of their courses and some of their case studies and not a huge data set, but they have several courses that I will teach you to be rich.

And they said if their email copy was very, very good, then video sales letters or webinars did not seem to help conversions that much. I found that to be the case for me. Your mileage may vary. I know some people do webinars and they were, they’re like webinars crush it for me. They work every time and it converts better than anything else for my market.

Email works great. I. Tested webinars for a while, for a year, right? I gave it a chance. You heard me talk about all the iteration that I did. Webinars and video sales letters did not seem to help that much. And my copy on the sales page and the email copy seems to work the best. One piece that is probably very important is I do YouTube and I do podcasts, so there potentially is a great deal of trust between the audience and myself that I don’t need to rebuild.

I don’t need to do a video sales letter. I don’t need to do a webinar. There’s 500 YouTube videos related to a topic. I’m just out there enough, and I think that could make a difference. If you don’t have the same kind of platform, then your mileage may vary. Maybe the video’s great because you. You need to come across as trustworthy and you can do video and really make that work.

Launches are really the best to have. The scarcity. The scarcity. As far as limiting the number of seats, that’s a little shaky at best because if it’s a digital course, there shouldn’t be a limit. It’s not like you’re gonna run out of inventory. If you could sell 10,000 of them, you would probably wanna sell 10,000 of them.

So I don’t use social media, but a lot of my friends, they sell their courses great via Instagram or whatever, and they get people on their email list, they get people under webinars, they get people just engaged with them via social media. I don’t do it, but if your niche is one that works, then do that for email marketing.

My primary sales channel. I like to do a pre-launch, so you never want to send out an email selling something that the email subscriber did not know was coming. It will seem shocking. It will come off salesy and if you’re like my email list, it’s usually like value, value, value, couple hard sales weeks per year, and then it’s just value, value, value.

I’m not asking for anything very often. If I started to send a, an email and it was just like, Hey, I’m selling something, it would be a little alarming. So I like to send pre-sale type, pre-launch emails the week before and usually I do like three emails to let let someone know. Not everyone opens every email, so it’s important to put.

That little note like, Hey, next week I’m launching this thing. You can tell them a little bit about it, but I’d like to keep it a little mysterious so people are curious and then they know. Then when you sell it, they’re not like, ah, this asshole is sending me a sales email and I’m not interested. If they know it’s coming, maybe they don’t wanna open the email, whatever, right?

But let them know it’s coming During launch week, I like to send daily emails. It may seem like a lot, but I found that to be acceptable and you will get unsubscribes. The thing that I’ve learned is if you don’t, if you don’t send emails, then people won’t buy stuff. And again, people don’t open every single email from you.

Sometimes they get busy, maybe they don’t care about that subject line. So I like to send it daily if you think it’s too much. Slowly get over it, however you need to do it, and just test it out. At the end of the launch, I tell them, Hey, we’re going back to normal email frequency next week. Thanks for putting up with all the emails.

One thing that can help this is to make every single email either valuable because of the information in there, or entertaining if you’re really good both. So if you could make it valuable or entertaining, it won’t matter that it’s selling something, the person will get something out of it. So if you can make sure that, even if it’s just like a laugh, right?

If you can make it a little entertaining, that’s cool that that’s all you have to do. , it took me a little while to get over sending the daily email because I was like, oh, I, I don’t want people to unsubscribe, but it turns out that if they unsubscribe and they’re not gonna buy anything, then what the fuck were they on their, on your list for?

Right? So if you’re doing it as a hobby, that’s one thing, but if you’re running a business, then you kind of don’t want people that are not gonna purchase anything on your list. And there’s some caveats, right? I’m stating it in a very well harsh way. But there’s value of having like a community aspect in your email list.

And I think I have that sort of thing. But the point is, occasionally we gotta pay the bills, right? You’ve got to sell some. every now and then. And to do that you have to send some emails. And the true fans, they will number one, either come back, I’ve done this before, I’ve unsubscribed, and I’m like, actually like their content.

I’ll hop back on, I’ll re-sign up to their email list. I like them so your true fans are gonna come back. Or your true fans will get used to how you send emails and they’re like, oh, I know that during these launch weeks Doug’s gonna send several emails. And if it’s not a really good subject line, then I’m not gonna read it.

But I’ve done really, I’ve done a lot of work to make sure that when I send those marketing emails that they are valuable or entertaining so that even the non-buyer or the existing student of the course would find it valuable As far as social media. . I don’t have any personal experience as far as marketing the course and promoting it, but I think if you have testimonials in your social media feed, and I’m thinking Instagram specifically, that’s probably one of the most valuable things that you can do, is have your former students, your successful students out there like retweeting or you know, showing up.

Maybe they shoot a little video and then you share it on your feed. And finally, if you have some credibility within the industry or you have some peers, you can use affiliates. Now, I would not use affiliates until you have refined your own course sales process and sales page a little bit, just because.

You don’t want to get a lot of hot traffic ready to convert, and then they land on a first draft of a sales page. That is one reason, you know, I hear from people, they, they have like a new product. It’s like a new SaaS product or a new course or whatever, you know, fuck version one. I don’t, I don’t want to deal with version one.

I want you to get your shit together, figure it out, and then, then I can send you some traffic. Then I can introduce you to my audience. But version one is rough and I want you, I want people to work it out on their own. I don’t want to go through, I don’t want to go through using your beta product. So if you’ve sent me an email and I was a little cold to you, number one, I get a lot of emails and number two, I don’t want to, I don’t wanna be a tester, I don’t wanna be your software tester.

In conclusion, Kajabi’s really good. Check them out. If you’re interested, all of the course platforms will have some kind of free training. You can learn basically everything you need to know about courses by going through the free training, and it makes sense, right? If they train you how to create a valuable course that sells well, you are gonna be a very sticky customer.

These SaaS companies want you to sign up and then never leave. When I have used these kinds of products I’m on for like four or five years, I mean the lifetime value for someone like that, it’s huge. It’s huge. So one of the big benefits, and I didn’t talk about this, but when you have your own products, the margins are high, as high as they’re gonna get.

So one of the issues with niche sites, affiliate marketing, like affiliate marketing, you can earn some great money. Your commission rates for affiliate marketing, it’s gonna be a higher value per visitor on your website than display ads by a huge margin. Most of the time, if you’re selling your own products, it’s a similar kind of jump with your margins to, depending on what your business is like, your, your margins are gonna be like 90% for your course.

Like the software, while it can be expensive on a month to month basis, like it’s not that expensive. It’s a few hundred like now, it’s so easy to set up a course. The other thing is it diversifies your income from volatile. Platforms. So that could be Amazon or Walmart, or even if you have a great affiliate program, private deal, maybe they’re paying like whatever, 20% something great.

Sometimes those affiliate deals, they just go away. Maybe the company got funding, they poured a lot of money into affiliates relationships, and then that funding ran out, right? Maybe they, they got a new director and they’re like, ah, we’re not gonna waste money on affiliates. So it just goes away. And, you know, I heard of this, I heard about these kind of stories more in the past, but, you know, maybe someone had this killer affiliate deal.

They were making whatever, 40, 50% conversion rate, or, sorry commission rate. And, you know, they’re making huge amount of money for. sending out an email. I had a list like this at one point, and some of those deals, they just go away. They pop up, but sometimes they go away. The great thing with having your own course and selling it via email is a lot of the, um, a lot of the issues with like building your business on someone else’s platform, they kind of go away, or at least they’re highly buffered.

So even like with you know, Google traffic, you know, unfortunately, you know, NI side project, the traffic is dwindled a little bit since I don’t blog is often. I don’t wanna compete with those really. Tough go-getters that are internet marketers and they’re publishing a lot, they’re hiring great writers, they’re doing guest posting.

I didn’t wanna do all of that stuff. I kinda ran outta steam and it wasn’t very fun. So my, my traffic is sort of dwindled. However, I do have the podcast. So while I am building some stuff on YouTube, which is not my, um, own platform, the podcast is independent and that is good. And I have an email list, and YouTube is a little more open than some other platforms like Instagram or Facebook, which is one and the same, or TikTok.

And it kind of works for me. But if you can get away with the dependency on other platforms, it will add a bit of a moat around your business, which is very good. And finally, one of the great things with having your own courses is. , it’s hugely flexible. So some course creators in my space, they have communities.

Like one of the main aspects is having a great community. Now, me personally, while I like interaction in person, like in in-person conferences, that kind of stuff, that’s cool. I don’t really like online communities that much. They’re fine, but I’m like, I don’t want to type messages back and forth and sounds weird when I say it out loud cuz some people love like Facebook groups or other forms or whatever, but it’s just not my thing.

I pop in there every now and then if I need to answer or sorry, ask a question or something like that. But if you want a community you can set one up. Like my buddy Matt Vei has money lab.co. While it is a suite of courses, it is a community as well. And community is one of the big aspects and. For me, I just want to have the course.

No community. I used to do office hours for chunks of the year. I would do, I think like six sessions each quarter and then I realized I don’t wanna do office hours anymore, and I just made it email support exactly what I wanted to do. If you wanted to have a live stream each week where you did a answer questions and people could ask you, and you had a little community where people could chat and all that stuff, you could set it up however you want.

You could launch once a year, you could launch once a month. You could have affiliates, you could pay the affiliates, whatever you want. You have all the flexibility in the world. You could actually run ads as well. You do like Google Ads and see if you could convert that way. So a lot of different ways to just customize it to exactly the kind of work that you want to do.

So I am a big fan of courses. I, I think it’s like a significant level up from creating just a content website, which is one of the reasons, like I haven’t really talked about it too much, just certain aspects here and there, but it, when you add a digital asset, it is completely a game changer. Once you figure out how to sell it, it is even better.

Then it gives you confidence to create other courses, right? You can do the big flagship one, you can do other small ones. You could branch out. Most of us have multiple interests in different areas, and you could teach anything you want. Once you have like kind of the main idea, the main concepts on how to create a course, how to sell it, you could take it to any different market and hugely valuable.

As we wrap up here, I realize that Kyle also talked about video being difficult, and it is, that is a hundred percent right. If you look back, I haven’t deleted my early videos, but if you look back on YouTube, I look terrified in front of the camera, but through sheer repetitions I’ve gotten better and it feels, uh, somewhat natural these days just to look into the camera versus staring at a slide deck or something like that.

And I think, people working at home and doing more Zoom calls and stuff, I think a lot of people are a little bit more comfortable, but. Delivery is tough. Use a teleprompter. I have a teleprompter that hooks up to like an iPad mini. Um, and you just set the iPad Mini on there and there’s teleprompt software that’s really good.

You can load in your file and read it out. I’m very, very good at it. It took me a little time to develop the skill. You wanna make sure you don’t sound like a robot and have some inflection in your voice and maybe throw in a filler word here and there. Maybe throw in a little ad lib comment as well.

But if you use a teleprompter, your delivery will be much cleaner. Earliest For me, it was much cleaner and it made editing almost not required. So my early videos or my early courses there, there were a lot more. editing needs. But now I can do a much faster, cleaner job with a first take and maybe not even need any editing or if editing is needed than it’s much easier to do.

So highly recommend a teleprompter. I think the one I bought was like maybe a hundred to $200, and it just has some, you know, reflective glass in there at the right angle, and you just mount it to your, uh, tripod and put the camera on there. And it’s like a new studio. So pretty effective way to make sure the delivery is good.

But like anything, I mean, it, it just takes practice. I was literally horrible, , literally horrible on many of the early videos. Probably the first a hundred. Like a lot. So anyway, if you have questions about this, let me know feedback@doug.show. Just like Kyle, if you have a question or show topic to suggest feedback@doug.show comes directly to me, put it on the list and then I’ll do some research.

I’ll prepare a little bit, trying to do a better job, and I love to have your ideas so that I can actually cover something that you care about. So thanks a lot, Kyle. Much appreciated. And don’t forget, check out Kajabi. If you’re not on the email list, you can sign up for my email list. It’s over@nichesiteproject.com.

Click the green button, enter your name and email. And I think that’s it for today. So have a great one. We’ll talk to you next week.