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:
- It's a lot of content, and splitting it in two gives folks more options.
- It allows me to officially launch the first half earlier (rather than wait for the entire thing to complete)
- 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.