AMY PORTERFIELD: If you have no idea what topic you could create a digital course about, or maybe you have a million topic ideas but can't settle on one, have I got an episode for you. Yep. This episode was written with you in mind because we're talking all about topics. And it's not just me talking about topics. It's my students, students with real-life examples of how they came up with their digital-course topic idea, how they chose from multiple ideas, and how some of them went from absolutely zero ideas to a course that's selling like hotcakes. What I love about my students’ stories is that they really paint the picture of what it looks like to settle on a topic idea for your course. I have a feeling that you're going to be a whole lot more confident about creating a digital course by the end of this episode.
Also, I want to call you out if you're thinking, “Amy, I have no idea what I'd teach, so there's no use.” I want you to kick that thought to the curb and listen in with an open mind—deal?—because I know you're going to love what you hear.
INTRO: I'm Amy Porterfield, and this is Online Marketing Made Easy.
AMY: I've done a lot of launches, maybe too many to count at this point, and one common theme that I see through every launch of Digital Course Academy is people struggling to land on a topic or what they want to teach inside their digital course. And I get it. It's a big deal. Without the right course topic, launching a digital course would be tough. But what I find time and time again is that it's not really that they're struggling to come up with a topic or settle on what they would teach. Oftentimes, it’s self-doubt and imposter syndrome getting the best of them. Maybe you can relate. Like, you've thought, “Honestly, what would I teach about? I'm no expert.” But the truth is, dear listener, you are an expert. And even if you just have a 10 percent edge on your students, you've got a golden topic. I've talked about this before, but just to make sure my new listeners understand what I mean, let me briefly explain.
The 10 percent edge is when you're just 10 percent ahead of where your students currently are, so being an expert isn't necessarily required. Instead, if you are just a few steps ahead and you can bring them on a journey towards a transformation using the steps you've used yourself or you've used with somebody else, you can teach that. If you have a desired result, something that other people want, you can teach them how you got there. But you don't need to be the expert of all experts with a master's degree and tons of certifications. No, not necessary.
So in this episode, you're going to hear about my students, and I'll introduce them one by one. What I want you to notice is the wide range of digital-course topics, from overcoming unworthiness to facilitating sacred ceremonies to finances and law and anything goes. So again, keep an open mind. Listen to those little hints of inspiration and know that you, too, can do this.
In fact, after you listen to this episode, I have a little task for you. I want you to head to amyporterfield.com/bootcamp and join my free thirty-day boot camp, where as a community, we are answering the seven questions you need to kick-start your digital-course-creation journey and diving deeper into identifying your course topic. This is for anyone who has ever thought about creating a digital course, or maybe you're just starting to wonder if a digital course would work for you and your business. I want you to get in the free—yeah, it's free. It's really good—free thirty-day boot camp. Go all in with the prompts that I'm going to give you. Like, show up, do the work, and see what you come up with. We've done boot camps like this before, and many people walk away ready to start a digital course. It's amazing. So head on over to amyporterfield.com/bootcamp. Join me for thirty days of getting clear on your digital-course journey. I'm so excited and can't wait to see what you create. But for now, let’s get to the podcast episode.
My first student’s name is Adia Gooden, and Adia has been a licensed clinical psychologist for ten years. And although she loved one-on-one client work, she always dreamt of helping more people and having a bigger impact. A digital course was her answer for that. So she went on to create Unconditionally Worthy course, a powerful seven-week journey that professional women can use to finally realize their unconditional self-worth. She made over $26,000 on her first launch, and here is her story about identifying her course topic.
“My course is about helping people connect to their unconditional self-worth, and I came to this course topic in a couple of ways. The first is I spent years struggling with low self-worth and feeling unworthy and trying to feel worthy, to feel like I was good enough, to feel like I was lovable, through achievement, through relationships, through trying to be the perfect friend. And what I learned after years of struggling in this way is that it just didn't work. That wasn't the solution. And I eventually came to realize that really I needed to connect to a sense of worthiness within myself. And when I made that shift, it was really powerful and transformative for me.
“In addition to my personal journey to unconditional self-worth, I also am a clinical psychologist, so I work with clients. And I was seeing the same things that I experienced in my clients, so high-achieving people, very accomplished people, feeling unworthy. And the combination of my personal experience, along with me supporting so many people who are also struggling with low self-worth, helped me to realize that this was really needed in the world. And also seeing my clients’ lives transform when they connected to their unconditional self-worth really inspired me to try to help as many people as possible know that they are worthy unconditionally.
“When I was creating the course, I think my biggest struggle was trying to figure out how to make it feel personal and really supportive, how to make my course members feel seen and heard and affirmed that they were worthy, because that's something I offer in the individual therapy that I do. But it's different when you're expanding, and you're serving more people. And so I was really trying to figure out how do I, first, structure the practices that I do myself and offer to my clients in the format of a course? And how do I continue to make it feel personal and resonate on a deep level? And so the structures that were provided, the systems and frameworks that were provided within DCA were really helpful in terms of me thinking about how to put all of this together, how to translate my personal and professional wisdom into a course that would help people.
“I thought a little bit about doing a course on imposter syndrome. I do workshops on imposter syndrome and that sort of thing, and it's a pretty popular topic. But I realized that I wanted to do a course that fell really squarely into my sweet spot. And this course, the Unconditionally Worthy course, falls right into my sweet spot because it relates to my personal experience, it relates to the professional work I do as a therapist, the skills and the practices that I know that I can share, and I am so passionate about it.
“I believe deeply that when people know they are unconditionally worthy, life just opens up for them. Things stop feeling like a struggle. They stop overworking. They feel at peace. They feel so much more joy, and they contribute their gifts really fully to the world. And that is something that just lights me up, and I’m so excited to do that, to share this message with people, and that's why I decided to create the course on this topic.
“I did have some content on this idea of unconditional self-worth, which has really supported me in this course-creation journey. I did a TEDx Talk on this topic in the spring of 2018, and that really supported me and helped me in developing the ideas and the concepts, and it helped me to validate the fact that this is a topic that resonates deeply with people. So I've seen comments on the YouTube page where the video is hosted, I've gotten messages, I've gotten emails from people saying that this talk and the topic really resonates with them, and that really helped to give me the boost to feel like, yes, I need to put this out in the world. It’s going to resonate with people.”
AMY: Okay. Now I want to introduce you to my student, Braden Drake, an attorney and tax pro, who had aspirations of creating a flexible income so he could spend time with his loved ones. As he was creating his first digital course, Legally Launched, his mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, his uncle passed away, and another was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Although he was tempted to throw in the towel—I mean, who wouldn't it be, right?—he reminded himself that he was creating this course so he could be there more for his family. He went on to create and launch his course, generating $8,000. He's since gone on to create more courses, generating more revenue, and spending more time with those he loves most. Here's how he came up with his first digital-course topic.
“Well, hello, there. My name is Braden, and I'm going to tell you about the first course that I created. So I've since created many courses, but I figured I'd go with the first one because that's what got this whole party started.
“So my first course was called Legally Launched. It was a step-by-step process to help small-business owners get their businesses legally formed. And I came up with this course topic because it was something that I already did in my law firm. So I was a small-business attorney. I helped people form their businesses, get their LLCs, their business licenses, their DBAs, their EINs, sales-tax permits, all this kind of stuff. And what I knew was that this part of the process really wasn't difficult. There's a few good key areas where it's helpful to have an attorney, specifically if you have a business partner, if there are other more-complex areas involved. But for the most part, if you’re forming a sole proprietorship or a single-member LLC, the steps are pretty simple. So I thought, rather than have people pay a lot of money for an attorney or be totally in the dark doing it on their own or using different online services that I thought didn't really provide great services, why not come up with a course that helped my students do this?
“So, I had some other course ideas, like I mentioned. I had tax course ideas, all different kinds of stuff. And since, I’d ended up running with some of those, but I think it's really important when you're starting to come up with one idea and stick with it.
“And the reason I chose Legally Launched was that it was something that I could easily sell to people who were inquiring to work with me one on one. And I think if you want to move out of one-on-one services, that's a great place to start. Some stuff is going to be a much harder sell, right?, like having people draft their own contracts. That's really scary. People are still going to probably want to hire an attorney to do that. But filling out this form with the State Department LLC, it's pretty simple. So that's the way I looked at it. What's the quickest and easiest way I could get people results? That was the course that I wanted to start with.
“This course topic also fell kind of within my sweet spot of knowledge, because as a small-business attorney, this was something I was doing, I won't say on a daily basis, but at least on a monthly basis. I had clients, like, every couple of weeks that were coming to me to get answers to these questions.
“Another thing I did early on in my business—and if you're relatively new in a one-on-one business or maybe you're pivoting to a different topic, this is something that you could do as well—I did probably about seventy to one hundred different paid strategy sessions. So these were one-hour, deep-dive consultations. My clients would send me a list of questions they wanted to cover ahead of time. And when I got into my course-creation business, what I did was I took all of those questions that I had from all those students, and I sorted them into categories. So these are all the questions we have about LLC and business formation, and that helped me create my outline for my program. So if you're coming from one-on-one services, maybe you have some survey answers like that. You could probably brainstorm a list of them. That's a great starting point as well to outline your course content.
“So, this was my first course. It really came from my background doing one-on-one work. Since then, I have written a book, I've done a lot of speaking engagements, and I created a signature course. I started with a spotlight course, and then I created the signature course, and now the signature course is what I have become known for. So it's been a fun journey. No regrets. My business is now entirely course based. I have a membership as well, but I love to serve and educate online entrepreneurs. It is very, very fun.”
AMY: Next up, please meet Hilary Krueger, a busy mom of four, who was the housekeeper, wife, supermom, and number one supporter. One day she just decided she wanted to go for it. So she launched her business, no website, no email list, nothing, but she was determined.
Fast forward. She created the digital course Talk Email to Me and generated over $11,000 in revenue. Here's how this busy momma came up with her course topic.
“I came up with my course topic to start off with because I found that there was so many courses on how to build an email list, and people were buying those courses. And then I was getting tons and tons of people come to me, saying, ‘I love your emails, Hilary. I love the way you're writing emails. I know I need an email list. I started my email list, but I don't know what to write to them.’
So that's where I came up with the idea of my course. It's called Talk Email to Me. And basically it's telling them and teaching them a super-simple framework on how to write emails to other human beings. And I always say human beings because you're writing to other humans. They're not robots on the other side of the screen. So I put a really humanized angle onto how to write emails that not only get opened, but that also sell and don't feel sleazy and come from a place of abundance. I had some other ideas, but I really looked to my audience and wondering and asking them what it is that they wanted from me.
“I also feel that this topic really ties into my sweet spot because I have been writing two emails every single week for over a year, and time and time again, people are like, ‘How do we work with you? How can we pay for you to write our emails?’ And that's great. I think that writing emails and copywriting and content writing is awesome, but I want to empower everybody, that you have stories to tell, and you can tell them in a really simple, streamlined way instead of always hiring it out.
“It really lights me up, also, because I think that email is the way. Email is not dead. And if we can all feel empowered to write our own emails, then it feels so good to be able to come up with a story, turn it into a concept, and write your own email versus, like, telling your copywriter to write it. And it's just something about doing it yourself.
“So I've had people come to me for writing their own emails. I did, like, a mini mastermind around email writing. I've done email audits. It just seemed to have made sense to, then, empower everybody to write their own emails. I realized that this was a super-big issue when I had people come to me time and time again, that they started their email list, but they didn't know what to write to their audience.
“So, that's my course. It was called Talk Email to Me. It was extremely, extremely successful.”
AMY: My next student is actually returning to the podcast from episode number 329, “How Three Entrepreneurs Found Success Serving a Small Niche Audience.” Her name is Sandra McLemore. And while she was waiting to get her green card to become a U.S. citizen, during which you can't work or travel for five months, she was left thinking about what she wanted to start a business around. A friend suggested she go with a small niche and create a course for the travel industry. Sandra had worked in the travel industry for over twenty years. From retail to the marketing, media, revenue, product, and even strategy side of things, she’d done it all. So it just made sense to her to turn this expertise into a course called Travel Marketing Revolution, which shows travel advisors how to get new clients online and has allowed her to build a seven-figure business.
Now, side note, Sandra came to my house, and we filmed a testimonial with her. And when she came, I got to meet her wonderful husband and the most adorable little boy with the chubbiest cheeks. Like, I'm thinking of him now, and I get the biggest smile on my face. He was such a little charmer.
So anyway, it's really fun that I get to meet my students in person and hear their stories. So this one is very personal to me. I just love Sandra. So here's how she honed in on her topic.
“So when it came to picking my course topic, I have to say it really picked me. I really took your advice seriously about only teaching something that I actually had proven results in doing myself or for clients. So I visualized my career from the beginning of my career to that moment. And I saw a street intersection where three streets meet. One street was marketing, another street was the travel-industry experience, and the last street was television hosting and producing. So those are the three things that I'd spent most of my career doing.
“At the time, I had eighteen years of experience in those three industries, or professions. So it was literally staring at me, right down the face. My expertise was in travel and marketing and media, and so it's no surprise that that's what I ended up calling my business, Travel Marketing & Media.
“So like you, I started out serving my audience with social-media coaching and services, and I did two years of one-on-one work. Now, I don't love one-on-one work as much as I liked being a course creator, but those two years have proved critical to me, as they were the start of me truly learning my ideal client.
“So even though there are literally, like, 145,000 travel advisors in America, I know them intimately. And when I say intimately, like, collectively, I know intimately. I know what problems they face in their business. I know their insecurities. I know how all of those years of work experiences that have led me to that intersection can help them.
“I knew that I wanted my course to solve the one biggest problem that travel advisors have, and that's getting a consistent stream of new clients. So in a world where everyone is slammed with ads on TV and on their news feed, encouraging them to DIY their travel plans by booking online, it's a challenging time for travel advisors to be seen and heard. A lot of people would say to me, like, ‘Do I even exist anymore?” And getting a consistent stream of new clients is hands down their universal number one problem for their profession.
“So my course topic solves that problem for them. My course helps travel advisors get a consistent stream of new clients for their travel business. And I truly believe that if your course creates the opportunity and support for a true transformation, and if you only try to solve one problem for your clients, you can create a course that makes a difference and, of course, a course, that's easier to sell.
“So, you see, I could have created a course on how to start and scale a travel business, but that's huge, and that would take at least a year or two for my students to see results. I could have created a course on how to better use Instagram to gain authority as a travel advisor, but that's just, like, 1 percent of the things that they need to do every day, and quite honestly, it’s not really a game-changing tactic for their business. So really focusing in on their biggest problem that my clients had and creating a course that solves that problem, that I truly believe is what makes my course successful.”
AMY: Next, I'm honored to share the story of my student, Scarlett Cochran. Scarlett actually fell into the entrepreneurial world completely by accident. At the time, she was miserable at her job as a consumer-finance lawyer. Her husband encouraged her to find a passion project, which gave her the nudge she needed to explore something else. After having success herself, Scarlett helps professional women create streams of income to supplement their household income so they can quit their day jobs and have more freedom. Scarlett has generated multiple six figures with all of her launches so far. Here's how she landed on her course topic.
“When I started my online business, One Big Happy Life, I was actually a practicing banking and finance attorney. That's what I did in my day job. So it felt perfectly natural for me to take that knowledge and those skills and bring it to One Big Happy Life so that I could teach people how they could start taking control of their finances and spending guilt free on a life that they love today while also building wealth.
“For me, choosing to create a course on personal finance was definitely a calling. It was something that I had devoted my career as a lawyer to, so it came naturally to me. I knew that I had an affinity for the topic, that I had information about the topic that other people didn't have, that I had a way of approaching finances and money that was new and fresh and different and, I think, just the kind of upheaval that the personal-finance space needed. And I just personally felt called to it because I knew what a difference it had made in my life when I took control of my finances, and in particular, what a difference it made in my life when I started prioritizing the things that really mattered to me, like being able to travel with my family and making sure that I was putting money away in my nest egg and the amount of control that that gave me in my own life and in my own finances. And I knew that a lot of people really wanted and needed that, too, because most of us don't learn about money growing up.
“So I knew that there was a need, I knew that I had the expertise, and I knew that there was profit potential there because, well, I wasn't the first person out in the market. There were other programs that were being sold, and so I knew that the concept had already been vetted, and so it's not like the idea of spending money to learn about how to manage your money was a foreign concept. People were already doing it. People already had multimillion-dollar businesses that were based on teaching people how to manage their money well. So I felt like the profit potential was also there. So, yeah, it definitely fit that course sweet spot for me.
“By the time I created my course, I had a lot of free content. I'd been publishing videos on YouTube for almost two years at that point, and I had also started a personal-finance membership where I was teaching smaller masterclasses each month. So I was able to take those smaller classes and build on those to create the curriculum for my signature course.”
AMY: All right. Next, you're going to hear from my student, Anne Marie Pizarro. She was a nurse by trade, but knew it wasn't her favorite job. By the way, it's okay not to like the job you're in. Even if you're doing something as amazing as being a nurse, it's okay to want to make a change. I don't know who needed to hear that, but I think a few of you did.
Spiritual healing and wellness had always intrigued her. And so she began learning everything she could about Akashic records and the human-energy field while still nursing full time. After gaining tons of knowledge, she took a huge leap of faith and launched her own holistic practice. She had a goal of leaving her full-time job, and after six years of hard work, she was able to retire from nursing and pour all of her passion and energy into her growing practice.
Now she offers a twelve-week digital course called Becoming an Akashic Records Guide. In it, she teaches other curious intuitives and practitioners how to use their unique healing gifts to build a successful and sustainable holistic business. Her first DCA ten-day launch generated $10,000. Here's her sharing how she came up with her course topic.
“When I first started DCA in 2020, I had a totally different idea for my course. I had frameworked this idea called the Earth Angel Light School, and when I brought it up to my pod, the most important feedback I received was that though the idea was cool, it just seemed scattered, unclear, unfocused, and a lot of work. When I stepped back and read what my previous students and clients were struggling with, I could see the gaps where I was missing out because I just didn't have enough time to spend with them.
“That's when I had this major epiphany. Why would I start DCA with a whole brand-new project when I had something in front of me that I was building in bits and pieces? I'd been testing and teaching, growing my courses over three years, and I had an email list. I knew that DCA was what I needed to really bring it all together.
“That epiphany birthed my signature course, Become an Akashic Records Guide. It's a fusion of three of my strongest classes, and I was adding a huge element that holistic practitioners just weren't getting in the courses they signed up for, which was business training. It was totally like that cheesy scene where the heavens opened up, light pours in, and a choir of angels sings in harmony. It was this moment when I felt that inner click that said, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is it.”
AMY: Hopefully, by now your creative juices are flowing, and you have a few topic ideas in mind. But you might still be thinking, “Okay. Now what? I have this idea for a digital course. What the heck do I do with it?”
You know me, and you know I'd never leave you stranded. This is why I want to remind you to head over to amyporterfield.com/bootcamp. Do it! Join! It's free. It's a community like no other. I am so excited about what's going on in this community. It's full of like-minded people dreaming and planning on creating a digital course. For thirty days, we’ll support one another, and at the end, you'll be hyper clear on the seven most important questions you need to answer before embarking on your digital-course journey. It's all about getting clarity and getting questions answered that you might have before you even get started with your digital course. Again, that’s amyporterfield.com/bootcamp. I can’t wait to see you there.
Thanks for joining me here today. I hope you loved these stories. I absolutely love hearing my students’ stories of success, and I hope they inspired you. I'll see you next week, same time, same place. Bye for now.