Selling online courses is a great business model with high profit margins.
There is no marginal cost of replication. Once you create your course, you can sell it an infinite amount of times without increasing your expenses.
But if it were so easy, how come everyone doesn’t do it?
In this article, I will break down the step by step framework you can use to create a course and generate $10,000 a month in profit.
Step 1 – Have a Skill Worth Productizing
It sounds so obvious, but the first step to creating a successful course is to have a skill set worth making a course out of.
Anyone can make the same old copy and paste course about “growing your Twitter following”, but the real money exists in creating a course out of a specialized skillset that has true value in the market place.
The reason why I have been able to sell so many courses and memberships with Copyblogger is because I spent 10 years building an actual business through long form writing, SEO, email marketing, and copywriting.
The lessons in my course are backed by real world experience. The proof of my success lies in the results themselves.
In addition, I sell memberships to The Bootstrapper because I have a proven track record of starting, building, and scaling profitable businesses.
No one wants to take business advice from someone who has never started a business before.
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Think of your course as the productized version of your knowledge and skillset
What unique skill do you have that people would want to learn from you? What value do you bring to the market?
Most course creators don’t have a legit skillset to bring to market. Instead, they repackage information that they find on the internet and try to present it as their own.
This is a fast track to failure, because with this strategy, your course is simply a commodity. The information you are presenting is not unique or special.
Your customer is not stupid and they know when someone has the credibility and the experience to put their knowledge into a course and effectively teach a valuable skill in exchange for money.
So before you take the first steps to create a course, you may want to take a step back and do some freelancing or start an agency instead. After that, you will be in a much better position to productize your knowledge and create a successful course business.
Step 2 – Create Content that Separates You from the Crowd
In order to build an audience, you must be remarkable.
I love how Seth Godin defines the word remarkable.
Remarkable simply means that when someone sees your work, they are compelled to make a remark about it.
If you are not remarkable, then you are easily replaced.
You already know that in order to sell digital products you must grow an email list of loyal followers.
The problem is that very few people tell you how to create the kind of content that other people want to follow. How do you get people talking about you?
The best approach is to simply live an interesting life and then document your experience in a way that only you can.
Interesting people have interesting things to talk about and they present their ideas with an interesting perspective.
Your job is to create content that combines your unique perspective with a skillset that brings value to your readers.
Naval calls this “specific knowledge.”
It’s an abstract concept, so let me give you an example.
I have been able to combine my skill of writing with my interesting experience of addiction and sobriety. I have a viewpoint of the world that no one else has. I’ve been able to build an audience of people by teaching the lessons I’ve learned in business and combining it with a unique outlook that I have acquired through my unique life experience.
Here is another example.
My friend friend Shawn has a very unique perspective on hiking and nature. If he were to combine his creativity with his knowledge of hiking and trails, he could build a huge following of people who latched onto him because they would see him as an authority in the space.
Shawn is an interesting person. People want to hear what he has to say.
Live an interesting life and create content that shares your unique experience in a way that ads value to the lives of others.
Do that for long enough, and you will generate a following.
Step 3 – Create and Publish Your Product
Creating courses is harder than it looks.
I remember when I was writing Agency Clarity, I was completely dumfounded by how difficult it was to take the knowledge in my head and create a curriculum for it.
Remember, your customers don’t know what you know. What you may think of as common knowledge will be the first time many of your customers learn about it. So leave no stone unturned.
Here is the basic breakdown I use to create courses.
Start with the end in mind
What problem are you solving? Be specific. Figure out exactly what your promise is and then work backwards.
People don’t want information, they want a solution to their problems.
Focus on the solution you are providing and then move to your outline.
Create an outline
One of the challenges you will face is figuring out what information you should put in the course and what information you should leave out.
The way to solve for this problem is to map out your curriculum before you start to record.
Record and Publish
Recording is easy. Publishing is hard.
This is when you will start to second guess yourself. “Who is really going to buy this course?” you might ask.
The fear and the doubt kicks in.
Your course will not be perfect. But you need to write it, record it, and publish it.
At this point, your course may be published, but it won’t be complete.
You can always go back and make adjustments. You can add to the curriculum, you can incorporate new concepts and update it. The more you do this, the more valuable your course will become and the more money you can charge.
Try to see your course and an ever evolving and dynamic product. It should never stay still.
Step 4 – Automate Your Sales
I don’t spend any time selling The Bootstrapper. My sales funnels and automations do all the selling for me.
Email funnels are where the money is made.
Once someone signs up for your email list, you want to IMMEDIATLY start selling your product. Many of you will make the mistake of thinking that “you don’t want to come across as too salesy” and so you will be passive and wishy washy in your sales.
This is a huge mistake. If you have something of value, then you should charge money for it.
My automation runs over the course of 5 days. If people sign up to The Bootstrapper within those 5 days, then they get a 30% discount on the membership.
If a person DID NOT buy the product, then I send them to another funnel which offers them a last chance offer to pay monthly. That final offer is only good for 1 day.
Last week on the podcast, Ethan and I dissected a Twitter thread written by Jordan DiPietro. Jordan has sold hundreds of millions of dollars worth of products in his career. If you want to get started with email funnels, following Jordan and reading this thread is a good place to start.
Step 5 – Grow! Grow! Grow!
Once you know your funnel is converting well, then you dedicate ALL your time to generating new people into the email funnel. This means writing blog posts (like the one you’re reading), publishing videos on YouTube, appearing on podcasts, or creating content on Twitter and LinkedIn.
The end goal for any business you create is always to get yourself in a position where your entire focus is on growth.
With your focus on growth, this will be the catalyst to get you to that $10,000 a month benchmark.
Crunching the Numbers
I want to show you that $10,000 a month is not an unreasonable number. There was a time in my life where I dreamed of making $10,000 a month and the task was so monumental that it didn’t seem possible.
Making $10,000 profit is totally possible. If I can do it, than you can do it. In fact, you can make much more if you are able to break your limiting beliefs about yourself.
Here is the basic math
$10,000 a month requires you to make $333 a day. Let’s say you create a course and you price it at $199. That means you only need to sell 1.67 courses a day to make $10,000 a month.
In addition, what makes course business so profitable is that once you create the course, there is no additional cost to replicate the product. There are no overhead expenses. Once you create the course, you can sell that same product over and over again.
With profit margins that high, almost all of your revenue will be money that goes straight into your back account.
As long as you have something valuable to offer, you can generate a unique perspective that builds a following and then you can create a product that sells itself.
From that point on, the rest is a matter of focusing your efforts on growth and marketing.
With this framework, no one can stop you.