Episode 61

The top five tips for a successful online course with Deb Barnes

If you’re looking to create an online course, check out this episode where Deb shares her top tips including:
– Have a proven process, method or framework
– Help others get results
– Make sure your topic is in demand
– Plan well (including market research and finding the gap)
– Include touch points and accountability

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Deb is the CEO of DB Course Strategies – an online course creation business. With over 20 years in the world of learning and development, including over a decade spent as an Instructional Designer, Deb specializes in creating learning programs that simplify complex subjects into manageable, transformative pieces for learners.

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The Trick to Create Online Courses
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[00:00:00] Deb: I definitely have people who come to me that I don’t think are ready. And one of the biggest things I find is it’s people who don’t have a proven process or a, uh, method. So maybe they are an expert at something, they have a lot of knowledge.

[00:00:16] That’s kind of the challenge with the industry is a lot of people say, I have so much expertise, quote unquote expertise, I should create a course.

[00:00:25] But when it comes to putting that all into a program, if you have just all of this knowledge, it’s going to become kind of a mediocre program, I guess I could say, because it’s not gonna have a clear step one, step two, step three. And what we’re looking for is a transformation. So we’re looking for a clear, almost like an arc, right?

[00:00:46] They start off at the, at this, this one step, they are working toward one milestone and then another milestone, and then the course wraps up. And so when you have a process of getting results for yourself, that’s what I look at first is like, how has this worked for you? Right? How have you implemented this in your life?

[00:01:07] And if they, if they can actually like look at it and in terms of they’ve integrated it and applied it and they have a framework, a system, then that’s like a good, that’s very, very good. That’s a good indication for me that they’re ready. But then not quite yet, because the second thing is I’m also looking for whether or not they’ve helped other people get results.

[00:01:29] Rene: Hey everyone. Welcome to Your First Digital Product, a show that helps maxed out service providers create their first digital product so they can gain an additional income stream, grow their impact without increasing one on one work, and experience more time freedom. On the show, I talk to business owners who have launched digital products and dig deep into how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. I’m your host Rene Morozowich. Let’s go!

[00:01:57] Hey everybody. Today I’m here with Deb [00:02:00] Barnes. And Deb is the CEO of DB Course Strategies, an online course creation business. With over 20 years in the world of learning and development, including over a decade spent as an instructional designer, Deb specializes in creating learning programs that simplify complex subjects into manageable, transformative pieces for learners. Hey, Deb, how are you?

[00:02:21] Deb: Hi, Rene. I’m good. Thank you. How are you?

[00:02:24] Rene: Okay. Yeah, I’m good. Um, I am excited to have you here today and well, why don’t you tell us a little bit about yourself and then I’ll tell the audience like about this episode specifically.

[00:02:33] Deb: Sure. So my name is Deb and I run a course creation business. So I started my business a few years ago. Um, originally I started off as a done for you course creation business, and I still do that, but now I also do coaching and consulting. Um, and before I opened my business, I was in the corporate world, as you mentioned.

[00:02:56] I was an instructional designer and I worked in very large organizations building training programs for companies. I actually opened my business right during the, during the pandemic. I was one of those people that kind of the, what, what do they call it? Like the, the quietly quitting. Group of people that were just kind of leaving their jobs, trying to find something more rewarding, less stressful.

[00:03:20] So yeah, so I opened my business and so yeah. It’s been like three years now.

[00:03:25] Rene: That’s awesome. Yeah. And you have a nice roster of clients and you’re already into coaching and helping people, so I love that. And so I just wanna tell the audience that this is a little bit of a different episode. Um, although you do have a product, we’re not really going to talk about the product. We, well, we might, uh, but it’s not specifically about your first product. Um, it is more so about courses.

[00:03:46] So I have talked about courses before. I’ve had some guests who have courses. Um, but really I want to talk to you about what goes into a course.

[00:03:58] And who is ready [00:04:00] for a course and how you know you’re ready or not ready. Um, of people, when they think of digital products, the first thing they think of is a course, and that’s maybe not always the best choice.

[00:04:14] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:04:14] Rene: So I would love to, to talk to you about that. Where do wanna start? What where should we start?

[00:04:20] Deb: Okay. Well, we can talk a little bit about why it’s not the best choice to start off with a course. In my opinion, this is my opinion only, and so when people are looking at programs and products, when they look at a program or a course, those are tend to be a little bit more money than like a template or a download or a little mini product.

[00:04:42] And in exchange of their money, they’re not necessarily getting anything physical, right. They’re not getting a tangible asset like a template. So it is very, uh, hard to sell courses. Right. That’s why what’s one of the challenges is really driving that motivation and drive for people to actually put down their credit card and pay for a program.

[00:05:04] So. If you are not used to selling and if you’re not used to marketing, and if you don’t have that skillset under your belt in the beginning, trying to sell a $500 program or even more than that, um, is challenging. However, it is sometimes easier to start off with a $39 program or a, you know, whatever it is, $70 program and trying to get good at that.

[00:05:29] And then you can work into, this is my opinion, only. I don’t know how you feel about that, but just from experience, a lot of people say, you know, course creation takes a lot of time. It’s difficult and there are things about it that are difficult, but to be honest, the marketing side is even more challenging.

[00:05:47] There’s different avenues for selling it, but the, the skillset for marketing and selling is a little bit more difficult, um, when it’s a course opposed to just like a digital product.

[00:05:58] Rene: Yeah. Yeah, definitely. I [00:06:00] agree with that. I think that people don’t think about that part. Even with regular smaller templates, eBooks, things like that. I don’t, I think that people think, um, and I have a website background and have built a lot websites over the years. Uh, the same thing, like if you build it they will come.

[00:06:15] Deb: Yeah.

[00:06:15] Rene: Which is not, it’s not the case. You have to market. So there is a lot that goes into that course

[00:06:20] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:06:21] Rene: And or even into that smaller product. And you have to continue to market. It’s not this like passive income. Like I wanna get a T-shirt that says like, passive income with like a big like line through it.

[00:06:30] Deb: I wanna I a coffee mug like that?

[00:06:33] Rene: Yeah, Yeah, that’s what would be great. ’cause it’s easier to hold up for the video

[00:06:38] Deb: Yeah.

[00:06:39] Rene: passive, like that’s not a thing.

[00:06:40] Deb: It doesn’t exist.

[00:06:41] Rene: you create it You create it ahead of time, but it’s not just going to sell itself. Like there has to be some, you have to bring awareness of it to people,

[00:06:53] because people are meeting you every day, you know, they, they come across you on social media. They come across your website, wherever they find you, they, you know, maybe a, a colleague, you know, shares your information. They are just learning about you, so they don’t already know that you have a product and you can’t really expect them to go digging for it. Like, oh, you know what, I wonder if this new person that meeting like has something for sale that I would buy.

[00:07:17] Like, I don’t think that’s how it works.

[00:07:20] You have to do those other other things. is there a, like any, any kind of marker I guess. So you get people who come to you and they want to create course.

[00:07:31] So how do you kind of vet people say like, okay, I think you’re ready versus you’re not ready. So like, years in business or audience size or like anything really and I’m sure they’re not like hard and fast rules. But like what are some things that you look at to say like, okay, I think that you would be successful with this, versus I don’t think you’re ready.

[00:07:51] Deb: Yeah, so that’s a good question because I definitely have people who come to me that I don’t think are ready. And one of the biggest things I find is [00:08:00] it’s people who don’t have a proven process or a, uh, method. So maybe they are an expert at something, they have a lot of knowledge. So, for example, somebody who went to, um, naturopathic uh school and has a certificate and has a lot of knowledge about.

[00:08:21] Diets and different, um, you know, how food can improve your performance, but they don’t actually have a system. And what I mean by system is like a framework. So they just have all of this, uh, deep knowledge and they wanna create a course. So that’s kind of the challenge with the industry is a lot of people say, I have so much expertise, quote unquote expertise, I should create a course.

[00:08:45] But when it comes to putting that all into a program, if you have just all of this knowledge, it’s going to become kind of a mediocre program, I guess I could say, because it’s not gonna have a clear step one, step two, step three. And what we’re looking for is a transformation. So we’re looking for a clear, almost like an arc, right?

[00:09:06] They start off at the, at this, this one step, they are working toward one milestone and then another milestone, and then the course wraps up. And so when you have a process of getting results for yourself, that’s what I look at first is like, how has this worked for you? Right? How have you implemented this in your life?

[00:09:27] And if they, if they can actually like look at it and in terms of they’ve integrated it and applied it and they have a framework, a system, then that’s like a good, that’s very, very good. That’s a good indication for me that they’re ready. But then not quite yet, because the second thing is I’m also looking for whether or not they’ve helped other people get results.

[00:09:49] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:09:50] Deb: This is because, just because something’s worked for you doesn’t necessarily mean it’s gonna work for a lot of people. Especially as we get into [00:10:00] programs and courses, if, especially if it’s self-paced, like a self-led course where you’re not in there supporting people. If they’re gonna be watching a bunch of videos and you’re expecting them to get results from a bunch of videos, you better be clear on your framework.

[00:10:15] You better have a proven process that you know works for other people. And so that’s part of the challenge with courses, as many people create them without really considering that it, it has to appeal to many people, but also work for many people.

[00:10:30] Rene: I’ve been seeing a lot of this lately. I feel like on social media people are saying like, just because it works for you doesn’t mean it’s going to work

[00:10:41] Deb: Yeah.

[00:10:42] Rene: So I think having that, you know, proven process

[00:10:46] Deb: Yeah.

[00:10:46] Rene: and proof that you have helped other people.

[00:10:48] But also, I never thought about the framework. I mean, I’ve heard of frameworks before, obviously, and I know people have them and you know, I think they’re great, like that’s a great marker, you know, for you to say like, okay, you know, are you ready? Let’s look at your framework. Let’s see how many people it helped.

[00:11:03] Deb: Yeah. And when I say framework, it doesn’t have to be something complicated or fancy, like it’s kind of a fancy word. So I don’t wanna like scare people and think, oh my gosh, I need to learn about frameworks. It literally can be four or five steps, like milestones. So if you think about, you know.

[00:11:22] Learning how to cook, bake a cake, right? Um, if you think about it as simple as that, there’s like basic milestones that we’re aiming for, right? You get the groceries and then you, you know, you cut up the ingredients, that’s sort of a framework for me. It’s like coming up with like that step-by-step plan from beginning to end.

[00:11:41] Um, and the last thing I just wanted to say about how I know, like, if I know somebody’s ready is whether or not their topic is in demand. And this is something that isn’t necessarily a, a make or break thing, but it’s something I recommend. [00:12:00] Because there’s a lot of, um, expert advice around there about like, just do, like, create a course on what you know about and what you’re good at or what you know, what you’re an expert at.

[00:12:12] But the, this is where the selling piece comes in because a lot of courses sit on shelves. Right. And they collect dust and they could be the best course, the most beautiful program, the best transformation. But if it’s not in demand, uh, then it’s not going to sell, which is a whole waste of time. So one of the ways that I, that’s kind of like the, brings me back to my point about testing it on others or making sure it works for others.

[00:12:40] Because if you can show that it works for others and you have that, um, that review, like that testimonial, that it works for others in itself, that’s creating demand because people are seeing that you can get results for other people. But if you have just like an idea you don’t know whether or not anybody’s gonna buy it, right?

[00:13:03] Then don’t create it.

[00:13:05] It kind of like goes hand in hand with like, like coaches like are really great for creating courses. ’cause they already have a framework. They walk people through their framework and they have a somewhat an of an audience that they can sell their course to. They have, it’s in demand, right?

[00:13:22] So, but if you don’t have an audience or if you don’t have a framework and you don’t try it on other people, then the demand is low. And so you’re gonna be, um, it’s gonna take you longer to get your course out to the world and, you know, making the dream, right? The 6 figure dream. Yeah.

[00:13:40] Rene: Yes, yes. Yeah. Yeah. I hear a lot about that too, right? So let’s say you have the framework

[00:13:49] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:13:49] Rene: you create the course, but maybe you don’t, you’ve helped some people. Like, do you recommend some sort of like, intermediary steps? Like [00:14:00] do you send people, you know, people come to you, they wanna create a course, you say you’re not quite ready yet. Go and do these other things first and then come back. Like, is there a certain number of people that you should have helped or, you know, I guess maybe any other things that, you know, I guess would be helpful for people who are thinking about courses specifically?

[00:14:18] Deb: Yeah. Um, I don’t think there’s like a number per se, like, oh, you should have helped 10 people by now. I don’t think it’s like that, but it is sort of a, so I guess the big answer here is market research and market analysis, competitor analysis, seeing what’s what people are buying and what people are asking questions about.

[00:14:44] And also looking at your audience. Um, now if you don’t have an audience, that’s a whole other thing, but we do wanna start with understanding what the, what the market wants. And so that’s not that you necessarily have to have so many people under your belt in terms of clients, but if you have tried a couple of things out with certain people, um, and you’re like, okay, I think this works.

[00:15:06] Like also go to the market and figure out like, is this what people are asking for?

[00:15:12] Rene: Do you have any tips on market research?

[00:15:14] Deb: So I, I did quite a few things. I went into, uh, other Facebook groups and looked at what people were asking. And also just understanding the challenge of the industry in general. So why people weren’t getting results. So if they were taking these courses that I was quote unquote mimicking, right?

[00:15:38] I was mimicking these courses. ’cause these were, these are the courses that were doing well, I was trying to figure out why some people weren’t getting results from those courses. And that’s the gap. That’s that, that’s the gap I could fill. And I think a lot of people can do that. They can be like, okay, this is my expertise.

[00:15:56] This is what’s doing really well in the marketplace. You [00:16:00] don’t wanna be competing with those people. You wanna be different and you wanna find the gap. So you do that through, uh, you know, analyzing your competition, but then just looking at what the general population is saying about your industry.

[00:16:13] Rene: Right. And I wonder though, how, how you can tell if other programs are doing well or not just based on like the testimonials or, ’cause like a lot of people can put maybe like a political campaign, right? Some people can put many more advertising dollars behind something, and over the place, and then you think they’re doing well, but maybe you don’t really know the whole story of their sales.

[00:16:35] Deb: You can take a look at the gurus, right? Every industry has a guru or five

[00:16:41] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:16:42] Deb: or even just the, um you know, the outliers. Some people do income reports and they talk about their sales. Like, you know, they, some people do do that.

[00:16:52] I don’t do that very much, but look at those people. Um, the, what’s interesting is oftentimes these gurus and people that are bringing in millions of dollars a year, uh, they have a ton of testimonials. Um, but in that industry, there are still complaints, right? People who are not able to get results. People who take the $2,000 program to learn how to do something and don’t get results.

[00:17:21] So why are they not getting results?

[00:17:25] And so I, that’s why I began to look at their sales, the the competitor sales page. So what are they teaching and what are the, um, the user saying, like the complaints or like what are people saying that why they can’t get results? Is it because there’s not enough support?

[00:17:42] Is there a piece of a piece of knowledge or skillset that is kind of overlooked or dismissed

[00:17:48] Rene: or assumed? Mm-Hmm.

[00:17:50] Deb: or assumed? Yeah. Um, and so, you know, that’s where we kind of get into that subset, the niche subset. And that’s where sometimes it can be worked quite profitable. [00:18:00] ’cause if you can hone in and solve like a specific problem that’s not addressed in like the bigger courses, then that can be a very good entry point for you.

[00:18:10] Like a differentiator, right?

[00:18:12] Rene: Yeah.

[00:18:13] Deb: Yeah.

[00:18:13] Rene: Yeah, definitely. Yeah. Because you can speak to that problem and obviously you’re seeing that people are having

[00:18:17] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:18:18] Rene: and you know, you being able to speak to it and you know, people, it resonates with them and they’re like, oh yes, I have that problem.

[00:18:24] Deb: Exactly. Yeah. And that’s how I approach, so with my com, with my clients, a lot of the times, once I’ve determined that, okay, they’re really, um, they’re really great, uh, candidate for a course, I start to really hone in on their secret sauce. So what is their differentiator? Because we’ve come a, we’ve come a long way now in courses where it’s not, not, there’s not too much out there that hasn’t been done before.

[00:18:51] So we really wanna try to find the, the ’cause we can’t teach at all. Right? So when they come to me, they oftentimes, they have these big ideas, and I’m trying to find what is that thing that is a little bit different than you that we can really hone in on and why people would buy this course. And so I think that, you know, that’s my job is I do a little bit of market research for people.

[00:19:16] I also help people do their own market research. I have a product that I give them when they’re a client, a little, uh, training that they, they can go through so they can start to do that market research on their own.

[00:19:26] Rene: For people who are thinking about it, so let’s say yes, they have a framework. They have helped some they have a differentiator or they found it, they have, uh, you know, some research to see that they can solve a specific problem or address something that’s not being addressed. What else can you tell us that maybe aren’t aware of? Like time investment or, so I guess maybe like creating and then selling like, you know what people, like the word course is so small, there’s a lot involved . [00:20:00] What are people not knowing like, or do they have to do it a certain way?

[00:20:04] Like, you know, I I, when I think of course, I think videos and I think workbooks.

[00:20:10] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:20:10] Rene: and depending on the package I buy, maybe like a live component or there’s office hours or community. Like, what are some other things I guess that, that you are seeing nowadays in terms of courses that, maybe has changed over time too.

[00:20:25] Deb: Um, so definitely the self-paced programs. I completely, DIY I find are kind of going out a little bit. Um, people are needing accountability. And I think the trend is heading more toward, um, not necessarily longer containers, but more comprehensive containers that allow some kind of accountability or support.

[00:20:48] Um, so even if it’s a shorter container, like two months or three months, people want that support. Um, and people don’t want long containers. Right. You know, six months, 12 months. Yeah. So it’s, that’s sort of the shift I’ve noticed from when I started the business three years ago to now. Um, I still have clients who come to me who wanna create these ginormous programs.

[00:21:11] Um, but you know, I advise against it, but, you know, people are, are welcome to do what they want, obviously. But that’s the trend I’m seeing. And I think, ’cause at at the beginning you had a question, which is like, what, what’s all involved in it? I think the mistake that people, ’cause you said videos and workbooks, is people kind of go there first, like.

[00:21:31] Rene: Yeah.

[00:21:31] Deb: I wanna create a course. So, and I actually have, um, some students in my coaching program right now who did this. And the very first step is let me create some videos. So they just started to create like a slide deck and record some videos, and then at the end of it, they’re like, Hmm, this isn’t actually that good

[00:21:51] And so like, what did I do wrong here? So they spent, you know, like, you know, a couple of weekends putting some videos together and they’re just, I don’t think this is very good. So [00:22:00] the, um, the time dedication to course creation, I’m gonna say like 70% of it is actually before you even start creating slides or recording videos.

[00:22:11] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:22:13] Deb: So there’s a whole analysis piece. So basically what we just talked about, which is the market research and your differentiator. That takes time. And then after you know the direction you’re going in the act, the, um, structuring and the, uh, planning out the lessons and knowing how it’s gonna be transformational and integrating, uh, making sure that people are integrating what they’re learning into their life and infusing, uh, resources and takeaways that are helpful.

[00:22:44] All of that planning is about 70% of course creation. The videos and all of that is fast , and believe it or not, yeah, believe it or not, it doesn’t, it’s not as complicated as you think it is. Like you don’t have to be a tech wizard to do it.

[00:22:59] Rene: Yeah, the planning part. Somebody I think, I don’t know if it was on the podcast or somewhere else, somebody told me that planning isn’t sexy, and I didn’t say anything at the time, but I thought, huh, I think planning is great. I love a good plan because I think when you have a good plan and a comprehensive plan, then it makes it so much easier to just, you just do the next thing on the list and yeah, maybe it, it tweaks over time or, you know, you make a couple changes here and there, but having a, you know, really good rock solid, comprehensive, well thought out plan I think can make it way easier for you so that yeah, you’re not like, oh, I’ve recorded 50 videos and these are all terrible, and

[00:23:36] Deb: Exactly. Yeah. But also, yeah, and when you have that planning piece, this is one thing that I tell my students is, what’s amazing about this, once you learn how to do it, even though a lot of people don’t want to learn how to do it, but I’m like, you actually do wanna learn how to do it because this is going to help you build additional courses down the road.

[00:23:56] Like you should, like, you know, people sometimes ask me, you know, [00:24:00] ’cause I create, like I have a couple of small like mini courses, I’ve got like two larger courses. People are like, how do you do that? And I’m like, because I know I have, I know how to create a course. Like it can happen so fast once you know, the process.

[00:24:13] This idea of people spending six months or more to create a course like blows my mind because I’m like, it’s actually not that, it’s actually not that hard once you know what you’re doing. Uh, so yeah, the planning, even though it takes up a lot of the time, once you know how to do it, it’s repeatable.

[00:24:31] Rene: Yeah. And I think that sometimes even once you just do it the first time like once you just do it the first time, you’re like, okay, I get it.

[00:24:39] Deb: Yeah.

[00:24:39] Rene: Like get the whole thing and yeah, then maybe you make changes or yeah, you’re ready to do it again. And you you have such a,

[00:24:48] Deb: totally.

[00:24:49] Rene: of the whole thing

[00:24:51] Deb: Absolutely.

[00:24:52] Rene: before you’ve done it.

[00:24:53] Because it’s different than a service. Products are different than services, and I think we’re, well this, you know, target audience are service providers. We’re all very used to providing

[00:25:01] Deb: Yes. Absolutely.

[00:25:03] Rene: products are not just like, another thing, like there’s

[00:25:07] Deb: Mm-Hmm?

[00:25:07] Rene: that.

[00:25:09] So if someone comes to you and, because I think this is another thing, like you’re ready to create a product of any kind course or anything, you’re like, I want to include everything I know.

[00:25:18] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:25:20] Rene: That’s often not a great place to start because yeah, there’s no clear transformation. There’s, um, it’s just too much. People can be overwhelmed. So when someone comes to you and they have maybe the content for three courses

[00:25:31] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:25:32] Rene: like how do you advise that they like proceed? Like, do you, do you say like, okay, create this course first and then create this as another course

[00:25:42] you know, like, do you, do you help them to break it up like that?

[00:25:46] Like, I think another term too is like that signature course. The signature course is like, the big course is maybe kind of on its way out too.

[00:25:53] Deb: Yeah. So this is interesting because, uh, recently in my business I’ve been, been experiencing, um, repeat [00:26:00] projects. Either the client comes to me with one course idea, but then they come back with another. Um, and then I’m noticing a trend also where people are coming, like you said, coming to me with a, a, a whole mountain of ideas and

[00:26:15] I can see three programs, right? Um, and so sometimes what happens is people want to start with that big program first, and then they want to, after that build like the mini course or they wanna build something on the front end to bring people into the signature program. What I’ve noticed this is people have the idea that it’s actually like later on in, in your journey, in your customer journey, because we are the experts.

[00:26:43] So we tend to wanna teach closer to our level. And we forget that there’s all these steps before. So I’m like visually with my hand, like showing you like the before period. But, um,

[00:26:56] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:26:56] Deb: so I can sometimes say to people, you’ve, I’m actually helping a client right now. He came to me and I was like, this is actually two programs.

[00:27:03] And he was like, oh, you’re right. Uh, I said, and you probably need a lead magnet at the beginning because the lead magnet needs to kind of build problem awareness and educate people about, um, the basics. Kind of like, you know, getting started 101 in this, in this field.

[00:27:21] But he is teaching independent consultants. But these are people that want to become independent consultants. So he wants to teach, have this like ginormous course about becoming an independent consultant. But for example, these people don’t even run a business yet.

[00:27:35] So before they can become an independent consultant, they need to have a little bit of a mini program about how to start your business, get your business official, right? And how to set up your whatever your accounts and stuff to get started, but before that, they need a lead magnet to help them understand the bigger picture of what they’re getting into.

[00:27:57] So I help people kind of map it all out. And then obviously there’s [00:28:00] also like all the bonuses, um, that we wanna add in to certain programs that make sense for that particular transformation.

[00:28:07] Rene: Yes. Yes. So I guess my question, well, so I watched a YouTube video about this once and it was, yeah, I feel like you, like you, you’re listening to this, great. But yeah, I feel like you should watch the video because we’re, we’re doing a lot of hand hand movements here. So it was mapping out your customer journey,

[00:28:26] like where they’re starting and where you want them to go, then breaking those steps down. You know, maybe there’s five steps, but then breaking each one of those steps down. And some part of that framework is paid

[00:28:40] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:28:40] Rene: but the rest of it is your free content. Your free content will get you here, and then your paid content takes you the rest of the way.

[00:28:48] So how do you advise people, I feel like it’s like a chicken or egg kind of thing. If I create a lead magnet that is free, um, to make someone problem aware, I don’t have the product to sell them yet. So I create the lead magnet, make them problem aware, just get them on my list, then create the product, then go back and

[00:29:08] Deb: Hmm.

[00:29:09] Rene: or go back and update my funnel whatever to say, oh no, I have a product for that.

[00:29:13] Deb: I, I think you should probably have, first of all, you should have more than one lead magnet.

[00:29:18] Not to complicate the situation, but as a business owner that’s wanting to scale and grow their email list and sell products, you should have more than one lead magnet. That’s just a thing that I believe in. So relying on just one lead magnet to sell your course isn’t necessarily the thing to do. Um, so what I would suggest is you have a lead magnet to generate leads, um, and to nurture them.

[00:29:43] But then you’re gonna have a customer journey, like a lead magnet, mini course, signature course. That’s gonna be something that you’ve mapped out. And maybe you start first with a mini course and the lead magnet, right? And you get that going.

[00:29:59] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:29:59] Deb: Then [00:30:00] you build the signature course later. Um, so a lot of the clients who come to me are like that.

[00:30:06] They’re like, bam, bam, bam. Like they want, they, you know, they hire me to fill, to build out the mini course. The next month I’m building out the signature program in the background. They’re working on their list building and on their lead magnet. Right.

[00:30:20] Rene: Nice.

[00:30:21] Deb: But I don’t think you should just have one lead magnet.

[00:30:23] Just to be clear, , it’s like if one’s not gonna be enough.

[00:30:26] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:30:27] Deb: How do you feel about that? I’m curious to know what you think about that.

[00:30:31] Rene: Yeah. I mean, I think it’s, it’s the thing where, and, and guests will come on the podcast and say, here’s what I have. I don’t wanna overwhelm you. So like, if the intended audience for this is people who have not launched a product

[00:30:45] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:30:45] Rene: like, you know, you need this many subscribers and like 15 lead magnets or whatever, like, can be overwhelming, but you’re not gonna do all those at one time. yeah, first you have to have one lead magnet, and then as you build your list yes, you can add other lead magnets and experiment with, know, the, the process that works for you. So, yes, I, I do, I agree having more than one is good. Um, but having one at the beginning is good.

[00:31:12] Deb: Sure. Yeah. Like if you’re just going to do one lead magnet and, and like your goal is to sell the, the mini course or the course, whatever, have them both ready to go. Um, my opinion. But, you know, otherwise you can just build your list with any lead magnet, you know?

[00:31:30] Rene: Yeah, that makes sense. So are you seeing with the, with the, let’s say a bigger course, so not a mini

[00:31:35] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:31:36] Rene: bigger course, you seeing that people are offering it maybe two ways? Like they’re offering it with no involvement then at a higher price point with some involvement or people just doing involvement or like, are you seeing anything? Or does it just really just depend on the person and the industry?

[00:31:55] Deb: Um, it, yeah, it kind of depends on the industry. Um. [00:32:00] So a lot of my clients that have one-on-one coaching and at a kind of higher price point are using the course as a ga an entryway into their world, right? So if you can’t afford one-on-one coaching, I have a smaller container, right? With self-led, self-paced, you know, to get a taste of my processes or my methods.

[00:32:24] And so that seems to be working well for people. If you are not doing coaching and you just wanna like sell a self-paced course with like no support, I’m, I’m, to be honest, I’m not seeing those do that well, unless you have a very large audience and you can price it at a, at a price point that is very accessible to everybody.

[00:32:47] Um, but this is just my experience. I mean that the world is a big place, but I’m just noticing that majority of the, the consumers, like, they’re not looking for a completely hands-off product unless it’s quite low price. I would say like under a hundred dollars. Yeah.

[00:33:06] Rene: That makes sense. And for the ones that that you mentioned that the you know, people maybe can’t afford, like the 1:1 engagement

[00:33:14] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:33:14] Rene: There’s, is there still like a, there’s still a communication that the next step be a 1:1 engagement.

[00:33:22] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:33:22] Rene: Like, that’s not just the end of line. Like there’s a, they can continue the journey if they want, you know, if as they grow their business, as they become more, you know they have more funds or

[00:33:35] I just think we’re doing like, you know, free content, like blog posts, social posts, email newsletters, smaller paid product, little bit larger self-led, you know, maybe then a group program or a one-on-one.

[00:33:48] You know, like there’s, you know, different levels. Uh, the product ladder, I guess.

[00:33:53] Deb: Absolutely. And so when I’m creating the course, uh, for clients, um, you know, we will, we will [00:34:00] infuse that a little bit in the program. You know, like we’re at the very end of the course. One of the final things is if you want like one-on-one coaching, uh, click here to book in a call.

[00:34:10] Um, that can also be in your automations, your emails, after somebody’s purchased the program, you can send a sequence so that they’re aware of the other products or programs that you have.

[00:34:21] Rene: So people have gone through all of this, they have created the course, and they’re putting it out there. I’ve heard some people will run the course live for the first time, um, you know, and then they can make it evergreen or, uh, only runs twice a year or, you any number of other permutations, like, so what happens after the course is created?

[00:34:44] Is there any, any thoughts, anything that you’re seeing? Anything that you recommend that works well. Don’t do thing, or basically anything after. Course is done. You know, a like nice finish this. Put it out world, and then what do we do with it?

[00:35:00] Deb: Yeah, so there were like two different, I find there’s two different camps. There’s the camp that’s like, I’m going to make this evergreen right away. I’m gonna pour some ad money into this and I’m just going to set it and forget it. And then there’s the other camp, which are, the idea is I’m gonna deliver it live first to get some feedback and see how the content is landing with my people and then tweak it and then work to toward going evergreen later on.

[00:35:31] Um, I am on the camp where I think you should deliver it live first, and that’s because I truly care about the actual curriculum and that your students are in getting results. If it’s so self-paced, you know, on the other end when you’re just aiming for quote unquote passive right? And you just wanna set it and forget it.

[00:35:51] Those are the courses that I find, uh, dry out. Are you actually looking to see, are people finishing your course? You know, if they’re not finishing it, [00:36:00] why? Like, where are they dropping off? Like, a lot of times that camp is not worried about that. They’re just worried about the money.

[00:36:06] Right? But I tend to attract on the other side, which are, yeah, let me, like, let me do it live. Let me, like, you know, I care about my clients, I care about my business, my brand, my reputation. A lot of the times the people that hire me have built, know, a clientele, a roster, a a brand. Um, it, they, they deeply care about how their product is received.

[00:36:30] So I say, then deliver it live, right? Deliver it live once or twice. Get that feedback, tweak it, and then you can look to going evergreen, for sure. Yeah.

[00:36:39] Rene: Yeah. I definitely don’t love the idea of putting something out there and not caring if people finish it or not. Like I feel strange about that because I don’t want someone to have bought something then not used it because I feel like it’s like it’s, you know, the, the money for that product is nice, but they’re not becoming, um, an evangelist, right?

[00:37:04] Deb: Yeah.

[00:37:04] Rene: They’re not saying like, I bought this product, I finished it, completed that. I use it all the time. Hey, friend,

[00:37:12] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:37:12] Rene: telling people about it. They’re just, don’t wanna mention it at all because they’re maybe embarrassed that they didn’t finish it. Um, so went waste.

[00:37:20] And I know that we can’t control, like, you know, once it’s in someone else’s hands, I know that we can’t control, you know, their timing or life circumstances or whatever. But I do think that know, getting that feedback, walking people through it, so yeah. I think I’m in the live camp too. Yeah.

[00:37:34] Deb: Mm-Hmm. You’d be surprised though.

[00:37:36] Rene: a good way to go. Really ’cause people, yeah, it’s this passive I don’t know, I just don’t, I don’t know if I’m like just don’t believe it. Or yeah, you have to just be like this kind of mega where you have like all the team members and all the moving pieces that are kind of just doing it for you and all the ad dollars.

[00:37:55] Deb: So I’ve seen actually, like I’ve in Facebook groups, um, where people are, are complaining about [00:38:00] students not completing their course, um, and what to do about that.

[00:38:04] I’ve seen people come on and say, what do you care? You’re getting paid.

[00:38:09] Rene: No.

[00:38:10] Deb: Wild. Wild.

[00:38:13] Rene: That’s crazy.

[00:38:14] Deb: Yeah.

[00:38:14] Rene: So, do you have any thoughts about that? If, is there anything we can do as creators ensure completion, I guess

[00:38:26] Deb: Hmm.

[00:38:26] Rene: of, or more con consumption of our products?

[00:38:30] Deb: Yeah. So I don’t know if you know the statistics, but the course completion abandonment rate is abysmal. It’s terrible. I believe it’s something like only 10% or 15% actually finish the program that you created.

[00:38:50] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:38:51] Deb: Um, I’m laughing because, you know, some, some of us put so much time and energy into this, and then it’s so sad when you, nobody’s actually taking the program.

[00:39:00] Um, so, you know, a lot of people talk about engagement, right? And this is something that, you know, people are like, I want my course to be engaging so people will finish it. Um, online courses is not really about engagement, so engagement’s kind of this, like, we don’t have to worry about, and people talk about attention spans and all that.

[00:39:20] Um, yeah. So, you know, you don’t wanna have 30 minute long videos, or even 20 minute long videos. You wanna have short, short, shorter videos, shorter chunks. And also, rather than thinking about engagement, you wanna think about the output. So what your students are gonna be doing at the, at the end of a lesson.

[00:39:40] So how are you going to make it relevant to the point that they’re actually applying and integrating what they’ve just learned. That’s engaging. So adult learners don’t care about worksheets per se. What they care about is, is this relevant and is this going to help me? And if so, [00:40:00] let’s get this done.

[00:40:01] Like, let’s, like, let’s move the needle. And that’s what your course should be, right? It should be about the them moving the needle, them seeing like those little victories, those little breakthroughs, every module or something. And when they get that sort of, those little victories after every lesson or every module, and they feel that they’re progressing, it’s going to encourage them to keep going.

[00:40:24] But if we’re inundating them with a bunch of videos and useless, I’m gonna say useless, but I don’t know if that’s the right word, but just worksheets because we need a worksheet, you know, like arbitrary things, adults will disengage immediately. They hate that. So kids are different. Kids give me a worksheet.

[00:40:44] You know, give me something to like focus on and like, keep me busy, right? And prove that I know what I’m doing. Adults aren’t like that. Adults are like, do I really have to do this stupid worksheet, right?

[00:40:54] Rene: Mm-Hmm. I don’t have time for this. Yeah.

[00:40:57] Deb: Yeah. So keep it focused, keep it minimal. Like I always wanna have videos like shorter than 15 minutes and there’s a clear takeaway or action step that’s going to move the, the needle, right? And

[00:41:11] Rene: Mm-Hmm.

[00:41:11] Deb: over and above that doesn’t belong.

[00:41:14] Rene: Yeah, people want to add more. They’re like, what if I add this thing and add this thing and add this thing? Like, no, no, no. Stop adding things. Like, it’s, partly to justify to ourselves that we are worth it or that, you know, charge a certain amount.

[00:41:27] But yeah, giving much more stuff, like maybe it works in that marketing psychology really quickly to get people to buy, like, oh, all these bonuses, I’m gonna get it now. But, you know, I think it can really overwhelm people quickly. So curious about. I’ve, I’ve been in this situation before where I bought a course and the first module I got stuck.

[00:41:48] Deb: Oh, no.

[00:41:49] Rene: don’t know how to do this. Like, I don’t know how to, to, to answer this or to whatever. And I didn’t continue because it felt like each thing built on [00:42:00] something else.

[00:42:01] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:42:01] Rene: do you any thoughts about like,

[00:42:04] Deb: Hmm.

[00:42:04] Rene: like, yeah, it’s great to have an action or a win the end of each one. what somebody doesn’t get a win there?

[00:42:10] Like, is there some sort of like wording that we can put in for people to reach out? Or can we tell people, like, just continue even if you didn’t get this one? Or are they linear? Or you take chunks, you know, types of courses? Or

[00:42:27] Deb: Mm-Hmm.

[00:42:27] Rene: matter?

[00:42:29] Deb: Some courses are not linear. I try to make them linear, but sometimes they’re not. And sometimes you can kind of, kind of like choose your own adventure, , uh, but for the most part, I think linear is best. But to answer your question, like what I do and what I recommend, this is something that I recommend, particularly for my students.

[00:42:51] My clients tend to just wanna do their own thing. Um, but for my students, I tell them, have an onboarding um, session. Uh, so after you kick off your program right, that first week, in that first week, have like a quick 20 minute call with everybody who joined your program. Make sure that they are in the, that they are in the portal.

[00:43:13] They got all the links, they know where the workbook is, ask them how much they’ve watched, right. Of the course. Right. So this is kind of like, most of the time they’re gonna be like, I think I’m in the portal. That’s what they’re gonna say. I think I know where the workbook is and I don’t, haven’t watched anything yet.

[00:43:30] So this is like your first call to make sure that they’re taking action right away, right? Like, okay. Perfect. No problem. We’re still in the first week. That’s okay. Your task this week is to get into the portal and watch the first module. And then I always suggest that you have, at least if you don’t do a weekly coaching call or a q and a session or biweekly, something like that.

[00:43:53] If you don’t do that, then the one thing you should do, I think is module three. There [00:44:00] should be, uh, some kind of checkpoint by module three, either module two or module three. Either they are submitting something, um, or it’s like a quiz or an assessment, or they’re booking a call with you.

[00:44:12] Some kind of touchpoint in that process to ensure that they’re taking action. And if they’re not taking action, why? And this is where you can do that mitigation. Like what’s the challenge here? Right? Sometimes the challenge is, is pretty simple, and this is also gonna help ensure that you, um, are improving your curriculum, right?

[00:44:33] Because if people are not getting past module one. For something that’s kind of simple right then, or maybe it’s not simple, maybe it’s actually a big gap that you missed. Right. So I always recommend a checkpoint in the beginning. I think after I’ve done so many, ’cause I also do audits. I audit people’s programs and it is very, very, very common after this first or second module for people to start dropping off.

[00:45:00] People lose motivation. When people first get into a program, they’re very excited and they will take the first couple of modules and then they get busy and they get distracted. People don’t buy programs with the intention of giving up.

[00:45:12] I just feel like as a course creator, it is our responsibility. I mean, it’s two, it goes two ways. They have a responsibility to do their part, obviously, but we have a responsibility too to make sure that they’re getting the most out of the program. You know, in the beginning especially, I wanna make sure they’re getting into the curriculum, that the very first few modules are running smoothly for them, that they’re getting results.

[00:45:34] Right? And this is gonna be especially important for new course creators. If you’ve never, ever delivered a program before, do these things, um, it’s gonna make your curriculum and your course creation, um, business, like your course business so much better.

[00:45:50] Rene: And really like, you care, like you mentioned that before. Like you care about your clients, you care about them getting results. That’s why you did this to begin with. Working on some things and [00:46:00] adding some of those checkpoints and things, you know, I think can only be, be better for you because then you can identify yeah, any problems and you can improve it over time. So I think that feedback is super important.

[00:46:09] Let’s say you have 10 modules. Like let’s say your course has 10 and are things to do after each one. Should I have 10 workbooks or should I have one workbook?

[00:46:20] Deb: This is such a good question.

[00:46:22] People always ask me this. So there’s, yeah, I think what works best, so if you think about, um, the way that a, a portal, uh, like the inside of a portal is set up, it’s usually kind of linear, right? You’ve got like your modules, like the skeleton is like module, and then lesson, lesson, lesson, and then module.

[00:46:40] Lesson, lesson. Lesson. So I personally like to do it either one or two ways. Either you have one giant workbook that you, uh, have as a download at the very beginning of the program. So when you’re maybe doing your welcome video, Hey, welcome to this course. My name is and this is what the overview of the program is.

[00:47:00] And there’s a workbook to accompany it. Download it here. So that’s a good way to do it. But the other way is to have one, one workbook for each module, not lesson. So that’s very important because the mistake I see is people have one worksheet that they ask their participants to download for each lesson.

[00:47:21] You’d be surprised how many courses are set up that way. Um, and that is to me, when I see that, okay, so after each lesson you download a separate worksheet, it’s disjointed for a reason. Because what people are doing is they, um, are adding in lessons. Like they probably at one point had like one workbook for one module, and then they started to add in lessons or move lessons around.

[00:47:46] So they change the whole structure of their workbook so that it was like individual worksheets for each lesson. And what ends up happening is you end up having a bunch of like, individual worksheets all over your, like your computer, right? Or something like [00:48:00] downloads. And it’s all disjointed and disorganized.

[00:48:03] This is like something I’m actually very passionate about, as you can tell,

[00:48:07] Rene: Yeah. I like it.

[00:48:08] Deb: because I see like such a mess happening into people’s courses and I’m like, this is awful. Let’s like contain everything yeah.

[00:48:15] Rene: Yeah. Let’s tidy up. Yeah, I’m, I’m totally with you there. I love that. Okay. Um, great. So yeah, I know we’ve been talking a long time. So do you have any advice for us, any summary, sort of like, typically when I do regular episodes, I ask like the two to three pieces of advice for creating your first product.

[00:48:31] But, um, in this case it could be for, you know, maybe knowing when you’re ready to create a course. things you’ve already kind of like,

[00:48:40] Deb: Sure. Yeah. So number one, do market research . So if you follow me, uh, on Instagram, whatever, or you’re on my email list, you’ll see and hear me talk about market research probably once every quarter. It’s like a huge thing that I talk about. Um, I think the second thing is realizing that course creation, and we talked about this, isn’t just physically creating a video there, um, the, the magic and the effectiveness of a course happens in the planning stages.

[00:49:08] Um, and the third thing I wanna say is you don’t have to be, uh, you know, a tech guru, so you don’t have to know how to like, edit videos. Like I don’t do any video editing and I don’t, like all of my tech is either free or super low budget. And I actually, um, have a list of resources that you can use in your course creation, your course business that are completely free, like that you don’t have to spend any money and you can still create a course and still make money from a course.

[00:49:39] Um, you know, or you can choose to like spend money, but there is a really low budget way to do it, for sure.

[00:49:45] Rene: Nice. Yeah. I think people are like, oh, I’m gonna go out and buy a ton of

[00:49:48] Deb: No. Yeah.

[00:49:49] Rene: Do that. Yeah. Yeah. Even for the selling, I always, advise looking at you’re already using, like your, like even your email marketing platform, some of those offer a way to [00:50:00] sell looking at what you’re using, instead of

[00:50:03] Deb: Yeah. Exactly like, you know, Google’s Google Slides is free, right? Um, most people have PowerPoint, right? Canva has a free version, right? And you can create your slides on there. Um, if you have, if a marketing, email marketing system, like I use MailerLite, it’s free, right?

[00:50:23] So I can send all my emails and do my email marketing through there for free. Um, I don’t do any video editing. I record in Canva.

[00:50:32] Rene: Oh, can you. I didn’t know you could

[00:50:34] Deb: yeah. Yeah. And so, or you can do Loom or something, but I think Loom is paid. Um, or Zoom. You can even do Zoom, but Zoom is paid too I think. And I even had a client who created a, you know, I helped her create a live coaching program, so no videos, right?

[00:50:52] It was all just live sessions. She delivered them all through her Zoom account and then sent the recordings through her email, through her Gmail. Not even a, an email marketing platform, just her Gmail.

[00:51:05] Rene: Wow.

[00:51:06] Deb: Like basically she only paid for her Zoom account. She didn’t even have a course platform.

[00:51:10] Rene: Wow.

[00:51:11] Deb: So you can do it on the cheap, right? So there’s no excuses.

[00:51:15] Rene: Yes, exactly. Yes,

[00:51:17] Deb: That’s it.

[00:51:17] Rene: And don’t buy all that

[00:51:18] Deb: Yeah.

[00:51:19] Rene: Yeah. Awesome. Great. Thank you so much for being here. Can you tell us where we can find you online?

[00:51:24] Deb: Yeah. So I’m a, I’m pretty active on Instagram. You can find me at db_coursestrategies, and yeah, if you just look me up there, um, that’s probably the best pace, place to find me. Um, and then my website is www.dbcoursestrategies.com.

[00:51:40] Rene: Yay. Great. Well, thank you so much for being here and talking to us all about courses.

[00:51:44] Deb: Thank you, Rene. You’re so lovely. It was a great chat.

[00:51:46] Rene: Hey, thanks for listening. I’d love to continue the conversation in your inbox. Email SUBSCRIBE to hey at yfdp.show or sign up in the show notes to get bi monthly emails about [00:52:00] how you can create, launch, and market your first digital product. Can’t wait to see you there.