TL;DR I've made ~$6k building and selling an online course over the past 9 months. Hoping to at least double that over the next 6.
So, this is my personal story of entrepreneurship that I thought might be helpful for folks to hear. I still "work for the man" and haven't struck it rich, but am trying to change that every chance I get.
Over the past several years I've felt the pull to do something on my own. Working for others has always left me unsatisfied and I don't like the idea of relying on someone else's product/company for my livelihood.
With that, I've been trying out different business ideas. I started out with a mobile mindfulness app, which has brought in about $250 over the past couple years. Not amazing, but it was a good start. I think I could have done better with it, but feel the market is a bit oversaturated right now and making money off of mobile apps is a bit tough.
A little over a year ago I started reading about on-line courses and how they can bring in a significant amount of income when done right. Posts like:
- Everything you wanted to know about creating a $100k online course and Everything you wanted to know about creating a $300k+ online course
- How Jeff re-launched an old product and made $2,500,000
- Behind The Scenes Of A $117,000 Product Launch
All of these served as motivation that yes, it is possible to do this sort of thing.
You see, my mom was a bit of a "pyramid scheme" sucker, investing her time in Amway, Herbalife, Noni Juice, this dotcom bust e-commerce gold coin selling company called "smartMart" and countless others. So, I see business opportunities like dropshipping and such with quite a skeptic eye. Yet for some reason, the course creation felt different.
Having a background in education (was a high-school teacher for 8 months and enjoy giving presentations/workshops), I thought it was a good fit for me. For the topic, I chose an open-source software I was using at work and really liked. It felt like a great niche market fit (and still does). The software is popular, but not crazy popular to where everyone is spinning their own course already.
So I set about making my course. I started by creating a free e-mail course on a related topic. So far that course has gained me about 350 subscribers. I won't turn down those numbers, but it probably wasn't worth it at the time for the conversion rate I've had (maybe 1% actually buy the paid course).
After finishing that, I set about validating my course idea. I did this through the model I read about via Buffer's start. I made a couple free videos on the topic and published them to YouTube. I created a landing page with an email capture form to see if there was interest.
There wasn't a ton, but it was there. Enough for me to take the dive in to creating the real product.
After creating the first several videos for the course, I decided to open it up to sales (at a very steep "early-access" discount). I had hoped to complete the videos much quicker than I have, but I still needed to keep my full-time job, and with 2 young kids in the house and a million other obligations, progress was slow.
Still, I kept at it, and finally decided to focus as much as I could on the course in order to make the push to the halfway mark. I revamped my package and split the course in to two, since:
1) It's a lot of content, and splitting it in two gives folks more options.
2) It allows me to officially launch the first half earlier (rather than wait for the entire thing to complete)
3) I heard Price Anchoring was a thing
At the end of 2016, I finished the first half. It felt good.
I decided to take some time off from video creation to focus on a couple things:
- Reworking the free email course
- Marketing the paid course through a "launch week" (more on that to come)
- Working on another sales lead idea (will probably have to shelf this idea for now as I need to get back to the videos)
I reworked the email course and let subscribers know. I like when "marketing" is really just giving valuable content to folks for free. Seems like a good deal to me.
I'm working on my launch week. I've contacted several companies related to testing to see if they had interest in offering their product in a collective giveaway. Some said no, but four have said yes. That's good enough for me :)
I'm finishing the touches on a sweepstakes page (will update this post with the link when it's ready). Next week I'll do a small marketing blitz pushing the sweepstakes to target audiences. I'll do my best to not be spammy, but I'll probably offend a few folks by offering free products in exchange for their moment's attention. Oh well.
I'm hoping to bring in a good amount of attention for the course, both through the giveaway, and the prize sponsors who have much bigger audiences than me.
I second guess myself every chance I get. Then I remind myself that "Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent".
I'm working a part-time job (30 hrs/wk) to pay the bills and build up savings so I can go at this entrepreneurship thing full-time later this year. I really, really, really wish I could take the dive right now, but being a parent means making ends meet, and hopefully teaching my kids the virtue of being responsible, but not letting that responsibility be an excuse to never try.
It's been a tough ride. I love creating the content. I enjoy content marketing (aka making cool things to give people). It's incredibly difficult to only let that passion out at night and sometimes on the weekends. But I think I'm going to make it.
I'm going to at least keep trying.