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AMY PORTERFIELD: “Not only did she pre-sell to validate the idea, but before she pre-sold, people started asking her, ‘How are you doing this?’ That's like a ding, ding, ding moment. When people start asking you, ‘How are you doing this? How did you do that? How did you get results?’ that's when you need to really start paying attention. You know something that people want.”
“So, first, people started asking her, ‘How are you getting those designs created?’ And then, she pre-sold. People paid her for it. And then, from there, she started to realize that no one else was teaching how to do this. Yeah, the software was out there, maybe some how-to videos inside of the software, but not teaching how she used it.”
“So do you see how great this is? She knew that if she could show up and support them with these smaller, bite-sized courses, she'd be able to serve her industry and set herself up as the go-to expert for educating design experts how to start, grow, and market their business.”
“Now let's talk numbers.”
INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-million-dollar business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, money, and time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and helps you create a life you love, you're in the right place. Let's get started.
AMY: Not all digital courses are created equal. And if you've been with me for a while now, you know this. There's a signature course, a spotlight course, and a starter course. All are different and unique in their own way, and all can work well for different entrepreneurs and online businesses.
Today I'm going to share student success stories about each course—why this type of course worked best for them, what kind of success they've experienced, and how it ties into their existing business. Plus, I've even asked them to share a little advice and guidance for other entrepreneurs thinking about creating a digital course. And don't worry. If you're new here or if you need a refresher on which each course type is all about, I've got you covered. I'll share more about each type of course throughout today's episode. You're going to love hearing stories from Rhea Reed, a photographer with a signature digital course; Clare Le Roy, an interior designer with a spotlight digital course; and last but certainly not least, Louisa Deasey, a writer and author with a starter digital course.
By the end of today's episode, you'll walk away with an idea of what type of course would work best for your business right now. That way, you can get to work creating your course and becoming your own boss. Let's get to it.
First, we're going to kick things off with my student Rhea Reed's signature course. To refresh your memory or if you're new to the three course types that I teach, a signature course is a complete, comprehensive system in one course. It's the most in-depth of all three types of courses. It's specific and detailed and includes the entire framework for a total transformation or a really big result.
So Rhea is a wedding photographer, coach, and educator that teaches rising pro photographers how to run a profitable photography business. And she's actually an ex-corporate girl like me. She's an ex-corporate girl-turned-photographer-and-digital-course creator. After creating a successful photography business, other photographers started asking her how to do the same. So at that point, she created the Photobomb Academy, and she began teaching photographers her secrets of the trade one on one. So she did one-on-one consulting. However, she quickly found that between her one-on-one training sessions and her photography sessions, she was strapped for time.
Now, Rhea always knew that she wanted to create a digital course, but she didn't know how to create or launch it. That's when she found Digital Course Academy®️. From there, Rhea created her signature course, From Hobbyist to Pro, which is a digital course for new-to-rising pro photographers. It teaches them how to build a solid photography business using the roadmap that Rhea took to build her own business and to authentically create a brand. She created this signature course using the exact steps she took to become a full-time photographer, making six figures in her own business consecutively year after year.
So she had results. She knew how she got to where she is today. She is her own ideal-customer avatar. So in her digital course, she taught what worked for her. She was an expert because she got results for herself, so she taught that to other budding photographers.
And notice, she uses an entire roadmap from start to finish, how she did it, to pull together the content for her signature course. That's what a signature course is all about. You're taking them from point A to point Z to get big results throughout the process.
Now, what Rhea enjoys most about having a signature course is that it's allowed her to focus on in-depth content for the course without having to hold back. And as course creators, that's one thing we don't like to do, right? Can I get an amen? We don't like to hold back. We like to give our best stuff in our courses. So a signature course allows you to do that, where you can really just go in depth and teach what you know and get people big results.
Also, she wanted to host a group-coaching program that deepened the community connection and openness within her industry, and having a signature course and adding this group-coaching program to that allowed her to do exactly what she wanted to do in her business. She also feels she's able to add content to the course material in her bonus section. And because this is a signature course, she can add this value without feeling like she’s giving too much away.
All right. So Rhea's launched From Hobbyist to Pro three times now. Her first two launches, she had it priced at $497, with the option of a VIP up-sell of $997. However, with her most recent launch, she only offered the VIP price—baller, right?—which included the signature program made up of five modules and over twenty lessons, as well as a private Facebook group, and three live coaching sessions for $997. Since she first launched her signature course in May of 2019, Rhea has enrolled over forty students and made over $30,000 from one digital course. Good stuff, right?
When I asked Rhea if there were any lessons she's learned that she can share with other entrepreneurs or those dreaming of becoming their own boss, this is what she said. “I think having digital products as an entrepreneur or coach is extremely important right now. This is the time for self-education, and a digital product is a perfect way to teach without having to show up in person every time. I also think that if you want to scale and reach more people, you have to have valuable digital products.” Rhea, I could not agree more.
To check out Rhea, her business, and her course, head to rheawhitney.com, and I'll link to her in the show notes as well.
All right. Moving on to a spotlight course.
This type of course takes a deeper dive and offers specific and hyper-detailed information into just one specific area. My student example for a spotlight course comes from Clare Le Roy, one of my Australian students. Clare is a mom of three young boys, and I find Clare so inspiring because she's so very driven to continue to create a thriving business that brings her joy. She's had some personal challenges inside of her family, but she's still committed to showing up every day, even if it's at five a.m., before all the boys get up, so she can continue to grow her business. Courses have allowed her to move her business completely online, which offers so much flexibility.
Okay, so Clare’s spotlight course is called SketchUp for Interior Design Beginners Course and links up as an addition to her brand. The Little Design Corner is her brand, which provides online courses, workshops, and resources for designers, decorators, and renovators.
Now, when I first heard of this, I had no idea what SketchUp was. I had to look into that. But basically, her spotlight course is specifically for those designers who want to learn how to use a popular piece of software used in the design industry called SketchUp.
Okay, I got to stop here and just say you can create a course about anything. If there is an audience that needs to know what you know, you could blow their minds with your skill set and your knowledge and your know-how. So Clare could have easily said, “Not a lot of people want to know how I use this software,” but then, yes, they do. She's kicking butt with this software. She was growing her interior-design business using this software. And we all know that you could start to use a software, and you could click around, and you can hunt and peck, and you can just scratch the surface. But then you could look at your neighbor, and they're deep into it. They know all the shortcuts, all the hacks, all the cool ways to use it, and they're literally getting a hundred times more output than you are. So this was just so cool when I heard this story. I was like, yes, yes, yes. Clare honed in on one specific area.
Now, before creating this course, Clare had been working with clients one on one for about seven years. She noticed that she kept getting questions about how she was designing the drawings that she shared on social media. And that's when she had the idea for the spotlight course. She initially did this course as a pre-sell, as kind of a way to validate that people really did want this and that they were willing to pay for it. And get this: she made $36,000 during a pre-sell launch, which completely confirmed that this was a course people wanted.
Now, with my brand-new Digital Course Academy®️ program, meaning we literally rebuilt it from the ground up, we included a pre-sell training, how to pre-sell your course, because we believe it's a great way to validate your idea, and it's a quick cash injection. So, Clare’s a perfect example of this.
So she has kind of a cool business setup, because since she first pre-sold her spotlight course, she has since created a total of four different courses, which are all doing extremely well. And she identified that this type of course would work well in her business because she recognized that there was very little business and online support offered for interior designers and decorators. Did you hear that part? If you're multitasking, come back to me. Not only did she pre-sell to validate the idea, but before she pre-sold, people started asking her, “How are you doing this?” That's like a ding, ding, ding moment. When people start asking you, “How are you doing this? How did you do that? How did you get results?” that's when you need to really start paying attention. You know something that people want.
So, first, people started asking her, “How are you getting those designs created?” And then, she pre-sold. People paid her for it. And then, from there, she started to realize that no one else was teaching how to do this. Yeah, the software was out there, maybe some how-to videos inside of the software, but not teaching how she used it.
So do you see how great this is? She knew that if she could show up and support them with these smaller, bite-sized courses, she'd be able to serve her industry and set herself up as the go-to expert for educating design experts how to start, grow, and market their business.
Now let's talk numbers. And keep in mind that these are in Australian dollars, but still mind blowing. So Clare first did her pre-sell launch in August 2019. She priced her course at $297 for the Early Bird, about $205 dollars in U.S. dollars. And she generated $36,000; $25,000 U.S. dollars; like I mentioned. So then she went on to a regular launch in October of 2019. So, not a pre-sell. And she set the price at $397, which generated about $63,000. Again, that's about $44,000 U.S. dollars, almost doubling the pre-sell.
Now, at that point, Clare decided that she wanted to turn this course into an evergreen course, which means that she's not doing live launches. They’re prerecorded webinars, automated emails. And she officially did that in February of 2020. Ready for some numbers? Since then, she's generated an additional $500,000—okay, in U.S., that’s $350,000—with one course. What in the world, right?
What I love about Clare is that she knew she wanted to create a course, but she really wasn't sure what she would create a course around or how she'd scale traditional interior design work. But when there's a will, there's a way. And Clare is a perfect example of just that. She listened to her audience and let that guide her course.
Like I mentioned earlier, where I started with a starter course; then my audience told me what they wanted, and that was a spotlight course; then they told me what they wanted, and I discovered a signature course. So let your audience guide you. You might just land on a signature course like that. Lucky you. I didn't. But let your audience guide you.
When I asked Clare if there was anything she learned from having her course that she would share with other entrepreneurs, this is what she said. “You have to push past your fears to achieve the things you want. I spent lots of time thinking about my courses and how I would morph my business, but had the normal sorts of fears of actually putting my head down and getting on with it. As soon as I was able to move past that, my business just fell into place, and I am now on track to have a million-dollar year this year.”
Clare, I love your story. So if you want to learn more about Clare, head to thelittledesigncorner.com, and I'll be sure to link to it in the show notes.
Okay, now let's take a look at a starter course. And this course comes from my student, Louisa Deasey, and it's called 30 Day Journalling for Memoir e-course. A starter course is kind of your jumping-off point. This is the type of course where you're going to help your students get started in your area of expertise. And many times, as you'll hear in Louisa's story, digital-course creators will use a starter course as a way to prepare their students for their signature course and to offer a lower price-point product for those who want to dip their toe in before jumping completely into a larger program.
So Louisa's course is a complete starter journaling course for anyone hoping to write a memoir. It's a thirty-day intensive, meaning that her students get writing prompts and reflective tools delivered to their inbox every day. And then they receive all of their materials on the last day as a beautiful e-book that they can use for prompts over and over again.
So before creating this course, Louisa actually created her signature course called 90 Day Memoir. She knew that she needed testimonials, and she also found that some people in her audience were reluctant to invest in her larger program if they had never worked with her before. And that's when she decided to put this starter course together.
Now, it doesn't always happen like this. A lot of people just start with the starter course, and then they build up to something bigger if they want, or maybe they just only ever sell a starter course. But Louisa's story's different, and that's what I wanted you to really understand today. Everybody's story around creating a digital course is different. And you can be a rebel. You can do it your own way. Create a spotlight course first, or only ever create a starter course, or just go right into a signature course. You do what speaks to you. Go with your gut on this one.
Okay, so back to Louisa. She created that signature course. She realized she needed something before that for people to get their feet wet, so she created this starter course. And it was really beneficial in just capturing her audience, bringing them in. They would spend just a little bit of money on her starter course, and then they'd want to work with her in a bigger way.
So she's made about $3,000 with the starter course, but has gone on to make five figures—well on her way to six figures—with her signature course. So this has worked for her. Plus, with the starter course, it helps her students to confirm if they really are committed to writing every day, because if they aren't, they wouldn't be a good fit for her signature course. How great is that? The starter course actually kind of sets the rules for, are you really ready for something bigger?
Louisa also shared that her smaller course has been a great way to get feedback from her students so that she can keep over delivering and addressing their needs. One thing that Louisa kept bringing attention to is that creating her starter course really didn't cost her anything except paying someone to create her PDF e-book, which is not expensive. She also shares that she was able to put this program together quickly and without much hassle because she focused on something that she knew came easy to her and something that her audience members needed.
And so when I asked Louisa if she had any lessons or advice to share with other digital-course creators, this is what she said. “I think if you can create a smaller version of your signature or more complex course, do it. Try it and set it up super-low cost and low tech so that you can get people just to try it. You need feedback and testimonials when you're just starting out. So by creating a starter course, you can do this.” She says, “Try to think of the one skill your students need to have down pat before they even move along to your signature course.” So again, she didn't do the starter course as a big moneymaker. She did it to qualify and move people into her signature course. Now, you don’t have to do it this way, but I promise you some unique perspectives on how to add a digital course to your business, and there you have it.
To check out Louisa, you can go to louisadeasey.com, and again, I’ll link to it in the show notes.
Okay, so there you have it. Now that you have some examples, let's talk through each type of digital course to help you to decide which one would work best for you and your business and your topic idea. Now, speaking about a course topic, if you need help with identifying a topic, head back to episode number 328. So that's amyporterfield.com/328. I can pretty much guarantee that you'll get some amazing course-topic ideas from that one episode.
Okay, so here's the deal. If you have a roadmap to a specific transformation—whether you got results for yourself or you get results for your clients, and you've got that step-by-step process, and you can promise a total transformation when people go through your course and implement what you teach them—then just like Rhea, you've got a signature course that you can create inside of your business. Keep in mind that creating a signature course will usually take you the longest to create. However, you'll also be able to price this type of course the highest out of all three types.
Next, do you have an area of expertise that is specific to one thing, just like Clare does with her SketchUp spotlight course. If you can hone in and get really detailed on just one piece of a puzzle, then a spotlight course would be a perfect fit for you.
And lastly, if you want to teach your audience something that's entry level, kind of like a 101, and maybe down the road you offer a bigger product or a bigger offer, like Louisa does, than a starter course would be a great place to start. Also, keep in mind that you do not need to have a higher-priced course or offer created in order to create that starter course. That's something that can always come down the road.
That's exactly what I did. I created a starter course, and then my audience told me what they wanted next, and from there I actually created a spotlight course, and then they told me what they wanted next, and boom, I fell on my signature course, and that’s the course I launched over and over and over again with great success.
So be patient, my friend. I hope you found a ton of value in these examples, and you now better understand what type of digital course would be the best for your online business.
Also, you can find links to Rhea and Clare and Louisa by heading to the show notes.
Thanks so much for joining me here today. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.