I’ve known David Siteman Garland since December of 2008 back when he ran a tiny local television show in St Louis. Fast forward to today and he owns the popular media blog, TheRiseToTheTop.com, where he teaches other people how to make money creating digital courses online.
If you’re interested in starting your own digital course, make sure you click here to check out his training class.
Also most recently, he launched his own software designed to help people create their own membership sites without any technical knowledge required.
David is one of the most successful mediapreneurs that I know and today he’s going to teach us what it takes to sell digital courses online. Enjoy!
What You’ll Learn
- How David went from running a local tv show to selling online digital courses
- How to build a large audience of loyal followers
- How David built up traffic for his media blog
- How David uses Facebook ads to drive traffic to his courses
- The step by step methodology for creating your own course
- How to get signups without a large email list
- The pros/cons between having a launch and an evergreen product
- The best way to start a membership site
- How David launched his software product and his launch process
Other Resources And Books
- Create Awesome Online Courses – Learn how to make money with your own digital course
Now if you enjoy this podcast please leave me a review on iTunes and enter my podcast contest where I’m giving away free one on one business consults every single month. For more information go to Mywifequitherjob.com/contest. And if you are interested in starting your own online business, be sure to sign up for my free six day mini course, where I show you how my wife and I managed to make over 100k in profit in our first year of business. Go to www.mywifequitherjob.com for more information.
Now before I begin I just want to give a quick a shout out to this episode’s sponsor Bigcommerce. Now Bigcommerce is a fully hosted shopping cart platform that allows you to set up your own online store in minutes. And as most of you probably know, I teach a class on how to start a profitable online store. And Bigcommerce is actually one of the shopping carts that I highly recommend in my class. Now here is what I like about Bigcommerce. Unlike other competing platforms, Bigcommerce doesn’t really nickel and dime you with every little shopping cart feature. And when you sign up, you immediately have a fully featured and extremely powerful shopping cart at your disposal.
Now there’s also an incredible theme store where you can choose from a variety of attractive store designs, so you don’t really need a designer. And they also offer integration with Alibaba which is new, so you can easily find products to sell online. Now if you are interested in starting your own online store using Bigcommerce is as about as easy as it gets. Everything from design, to payment processing is all built in, and you just have to populate it with your own products.
You can literally start your online store in a matter of hours. Simply go to www.bigcommerce.com/mywifequitherjob, sign up and you’ll instantly receive one month free. Once again the URL is www.bigcommerce.com/mywifequitherjob, now on to the show.
Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast. We will teach you how to create a business that suits your lifestyle, so you can spend more time with your family and focus on doing the things that you love. Here is your host Steve Chou.
Steve: Welcome to the My Wife Quit her Job podcast. Today I have an old time buddy with me on the show, David Siteman Garland. Now just the other day I was looking through my emails to find the first time that we actually corresponded, and it is actually way back in December of 2008, back when David run a local television show in St. Louis.
Anyway today David runs popular blogs/video blogs/teaches other people how to create courses at the risetothetop.com, and he also teaches other people how to create awesome interviews, all of that’s– I think that’s one of your older products, and most recently he launched his own piece of software designed to help people easily put up their own membership sites. Now David is probably one of the more successful online mediapreneurs that I know, and with that welcome to the show David. How are you doing today?
David: I am awesome Steve, that’s so funny that it goes back to December 2008. I remember that, that’s– it’s amazing how time flies, but thank you so much for allowing this email blast.
Steve: Now, yeah, crazy, right, what is that like seven, eight years? That’s crazy.
David: I still– there’s no math, but sure, we’ll call back.
Steve: Well, just a quick aside before we begin, just before the show your assistant asked me whether it was an audio or video interview, and when I replied audio only I got this email saying sweet, no video, I’m not going to shower or wear pants. So…
David: Right and I am wearing shorts, but I did shower because I did cross fit today, so I had to that, but that was more for the sake of my wife and other people, versus obviously this interview.
Steve: Excellent. So give us a quick background story and tell us about– because I know you’ve moved a lot of times, or the course of your career, tell us about the Rise to the Top, how you went from running a local television show, actually even before that, I think you did something related to hokey, right?
David: Yeah, that’s right, so I’m– when we’re doing this interview I just turned 31, about a month ago, I started kind of entrepreneurial journey right out of college, worked for a local– this could sound so crazy because it was, a local professional inline hockey league for a couple of years out of college, and I was– I kind of got broad in there, I kind of do everything all the older people didn’t want to do, and sort of became– I kind of took it over a little bit, over those two years. So I ended up basically running the league, and the sponsorships, doing different things, I ended up talking on the radio like those– it was just as like crazy real world MBA, if you will for a few years after college.
And then I started a television show/website here, I’m from St. Louis Missouri, and I came up with this idea, and it really actually happened I think at a coffee shop, I was sitting with a friend of mine, and I said, you know, it’s just so funny, looking back it’s so ridiculous. I was just like wow what have– how do you create a TV show? Like what if I did a TV show where I interviewed different types of entrepreneurs, and kind of make it—I made it like a talk show into this– but I want to put it on the local TV and I want to put it on the internet.
And I started way back in 2008 because I had sort of generated an interest with entrepreneurship, and that’s kind of where it began, I began– I took all my permits for money basically, and started this local TV show. I went around and sold local adds, and no clue what I was doing, really no long-term plan, or anything like that, and that’s how I got going essentially with my business which has changed a lot up to today now.
Steve: Yeah. So this television show, why did you decide to shut it down in order to go online?
David: Well yeah…
Steve: Was it not getting any traction or?
David: No, no. it got plenty– it was really just an evolution, because what happened was, I interviewed local entrepreneurs, I’d buy some studio space like I would rent studio space, and I would get videographers and stuff like that, and I would interview a lot of local entrepreneurs. And it was a blast, right, people in St. Louis, then I actually traveled around a little bit, I went out to Los Angeles, I went to New York. For example, [Jerry Vinokurov] [ph] was a very early interview on the rise to the top, went actually to Los Angeles, said if you did a million match maker party [inaudible] [00:06:54] like really-really interesting people.
But a shift for me came, and there’s been many shifts sort of throughout my career so far, a big shift for me came actually when I met my wife Mercy, because I realized I didn’t love that model at that time, I mean I said, you know what I don’t really want to travel around everywhere. I don’t really want to be kind of be slapping all over the place, I want to come up with something that’s more– I don’t want to say automated because it wasn’t into that yet, it was more like– well I could shoot this from home.
And that’s when I started doing interviews online basically via Skype, and I remember the very first one I did was with Peter Shankman, who since he sold the company was called Help a Reporter. And I remember we did it, and this by the way before it was super easy to do stuff on Skype. This was video interviews on Skype before everyone was doing video interviews on Skype, right?
Steve: Okay, yeah.
David: So we had really like Jimmy rig this thing up and I don’t– I’m not a techie by the way. So we had people in here trying to help do this stuff, and I remember we did the first interview, and we got– I got like look at it, and edit it, and we realized that we interview– we recorded all of him, and missed all of me, right awesome. So he was super understanding, and we ended up shooting it again, and stuff like that.
But then for the next few years, that’s what I did. I interviewed entrepreneurs– all different types of entrepreneurs online, and that allowed us to also leverage, go from kind of local, kind of ads and sponsors to more internet based ad and sponsors like HubSpot, CITRIC, were some of my sponsors, and we did that for several years until kind of the major shift that happened.
Steve: Okay, and then you had a kid, did something change again after that or?
David: Well that was just– that was recently.
Steve: That was recently, yeah.
David: So, shifts came a few years ago, I mean what happened was first of all, did 500 sport shows, and at one point I was showing five days a week. It was a blur– it was crazy looking back again to as far as these stories, like I said in retrospect are really crazy. But let’s– we got to do it sometimes, you know, and so I was doing this and this is where the shift started to happen. First of all, I started to realize, and this is kind of [inaudible] [0:09:04] obvious speaking here, but when you have something that’s 100% sponsor based, you have very little if any control of your revenue.
David: Right, is that fair to say, because the sponsor could wake up on the wrong side of the bed, someone could get fired, someone could shift jobs, and boom. What if 80% of your revenue is gone over night, you don’t control it, you don’t take control of it. And for me, I started to get more and more worried about that, because people come to me, and start saying David you need to have your own products and programs, right.
And I started interviewing these people, which I have now the mediapreneurs are people that were creating their own online courses and products and programs and selling them, the Andy Porterfields of the world, the Ryan Lees, the Marie Forleos. I interviewed these people and like you know how that CV– it’s probably happen in your life before too where you kind of like have this light bulb of like Oh my God, this is what I’m supposed to be doing, like this is like Oh my God, I can totally resonate with these people, because I started– everything they were saying, I was nodding my head and I was like they were talking about, that they were making amazing revenue.
They were helping people, how cool is that, you’re helping people get results whether it’s in business, fitness, life, whatever it might be, right. They were not tied to a computer doing one-on-one work or working with sponsors 24/7 or anything like that; they had very much that elusive, freedom-based lifestyle we talk about. Not that there’s no work, there’s plenty of work, but you got to do it on your own terms, right.
And also they were– they just had these killer lifestyle, they can just spend time, they could do what they want, they can spend time with kids or family or going out or traveling or sports. Whatever they wanted to do and they just didn’t seem as stressed and as ridiculously bogged down as a lot of the other types of entrepreneurs that I interviewed. You know, they were raising money, they had very high margins in their business, how cool is that, right.
It’s not like I’ve been watching, I don’t know if– have you come to the show Steve it’s called The Profit on MSN base A?
Steve: Yes I love that show, yeah.
David: Amazing show, I love it like I got my wife and we watch it all the time, and it’s really a good show and I always fascinate when someone’s like it’d be great if you made 25% on what you bring in, I mean or 20%. If I bring in a million dollars, let’s just say and I make 200,000 they were saying that’s amazing. I look at this business, and I’m like Oh my God, the numbers are almost reversed.
Steve: Yeah, I know totally.
David: It’s almost reversed, it’s such a high profit margin, and it’s so much fun. So that’s when I started obsessing over online courses and what ended up happening is I launched my first online course, I did hundreds of interviews, thousands of hours of research in about– it was about four or five years or so. I launched my first course called Create Awesome Interviews [inaudible] [0:11:51] introduction, which is teaching people to do what I was doing, right online interviews. So it’s all about that, and I remember the very first launch that I closed, did $19,800 to 400 people, just 400 people on that, that raised their hands and I said, you know that I might be interested in this, right.
And for me, it wasn’t the amount of money, but it was just a life changing shift, to say Oh my God, there’s a tremendous opportunity here to be teaching and to be sharing knowledge with people, and walking them along a path to get them results, and that’s when my business made the shift into online courses.
Steve: Dude, I think we have like the same story, so I started out with my blog with just affiliate advertising revenue?
David: I remember that absolutely.
Steve: And then one of my affiliates, my top affiliates decide to cancel the affiliate program.
Steve: And so I was like crap. And then I decide to create my own online course too, but your course wasn’t around, so I was sitting there and having to figure everything out from scratch as well.
David: Right, which is a pain in the butt, right, I remember it, right.
Steve: Pain in the butt, yeah. But now you know that revenue just kind of comes in and like you said the margins are like 99% right, so-
David: Right, it’s cool, and a great point that you made there, that’s a scary amount like I’m a big believer in entrepreneurship that you want to have control of your revenue, right you want to have control of it. And for me, that was just crazy, we’re able to build it up, we did 90,000, then 100 and the next launch we did 75,000, then it got over in to six figures. And it grew it grew and then we did more products and more programs over time and kind of perfected the process, and that’s when I really kind of turned the ears and I said, okay, what do people want to know that are following me?
And my subscribers, what do they want to know, what do they want to know more about, and what happened was the dialogue had changed over the years from, hey David how do I do interviews, to hey David how do I create, promote and profit from my own online course, how did you do it, like teach me how to do that, and that’s when we came up create awesome online courses, because we really perfected it over the years, I mean exactly what to do to walk someone through the process of doing this and being successful with it.
And so that’s when we launched that course and that’s when I hate to say the world changed, that’s exactly what happened with us. We– it was our biggest launches to date, out biggest success stories, people come in and say hey, I remember a girl in– Nikki Brown, she’s one of our earlier customers of create awesome online courses. She’s an army wife, she lives in Hawaii, she’s amazing, and she was a part time park ranger and college professor, and a killer copywriter, just absolutely amazing.
David: Watched the course about copy, and did 50,000 dollars on her first launch, you know…
Steve: That’s crazy.
David: And it started propelling and it’s not just about stories like Nikki and I’ve got a thousand stories like that, right, but it’s also the people that make the 2,000 and the 3,000, that could be life changing, right?
Steve: Oh Yeah.
David: And so for us, I’ve done the podcast for five-plus years, and I looked at it and said this is the way we’re going with our business. So I actually– and I was a little burned out too after doing interviews almost five days a week for a long-long time. And so we shifted our whole business to be solely focused on how big people, create and promote and profit online courses, and helping them with that. And that was software and now different things that we are doing, but it’s all based around that very specific niche and need. And we become one of the world leaders at it which I’m super proud of.
Steve: Yeah, I mean, I always recommended your products on my blog and they kind of sell themselves in fact so…
David: Yeah, and I think that was cool is the dialogue kind of changes over time with products and programs right. Because when I started it you did too, same as I think, a lot of it in the beginning is you say, “Hey, here is what I have done and I have gotten my results. And now I want to teach you how to do it, right?” That’s how it starts, it says, “Hey, I have done this, now I’m going to teach you how to do this right?” But over time as you get success in it and testimonials, now it’s like, “Hey, I learned how to do this, I taught myself how to do this, and did it. Now I taught these people how to do it, they did it. And boom you are off to the races, you know what I’m saying is it snowballs over time; you gain a lot of momentum.
Steve: Yeah, hey, Dave one thing that I kind of admire about you is that you’ve always been really great at building kind of large and loyal audiences, followers. And so I was just thinking by the time you started selling online courses you already had a pretty large following, right? And so I was hoping that you could actually take us back the old days of The Rise to the Top first. In the very beginning, how did you kind of get traffic around, how did you build up your name so that when you did some of these launches they had immediate effects?
David: Yeah, that’s a great point and FYI even my first launch I didn’t really even focus as much on email list building back in the days I should have. And now that’s really the crux of the business is your email list and your relationship with said email list, right? With the people on the email list, and so back in the day I didn’t even have all that big of an email list, but the way I got started — and again this is just the way I did it. There’s probably a lot simpler ways, back there, first of all I didn’t know what direction we are going to end up going right? All I knew is we’re doing interviews about entrepreneurs.
So early on, a few things would happen. Number one, I literally started — when I first putting my show up I just– like my own Facebook page, like personal facebook page. That was one of my first kind of little audiences or people just — big people I knew from college, stuff like that or family. Like that’s how it kind of started a little bit. Well I just — my first probably 50 people were people that were probably from my private Facebook page. Or people that I had met — one former fashioner, I would literally send out individual emails Steve, back in 2008 and say, “Hey, I’m starting the show, if you want to know [inaudible 00:17:51], this guy you want to spam anyway. And then I would be like add them all to an email list or something evil.
So I said, “Hey, I’m starting this show and interview people, here is what’s going on with that,” like — kind of like a little like personal PR, like type thing there. And I said, “Hey, if you are interested, let me know and I’ll add you to our email list, I’ll let you know when new episodes come out right, like that kind of stuff. And we started to kind of roll it a little bit that way.
Then what happened is — and again the climate is a little bit different now than it was in 2008 right? Like there was not as many with shows as there are now, it was very kind of new — most of people who had shows were like super techie people, which is not me by any means. Or just kind of people that happen to be on the bleeding edge like myself. And so what ended up happening was people were going — ended up sharing their episodes when they got interviewed. And this was critical, and the thing was, here is the thing that’s important Steve.
I did 500 plus interviews, I never once asked someone to promote, ever, not one time. Because I think that gives a bad feeling in peoples’ mouth when and it was like, “Oh, you just interviewed me so I can promote it.” Do you know what I mean type thing? And so for me I always just said, I sent them a link and I said, “Listen, thank you so much for coming on, I just want to share this with you.” And my thought process behind that was also, hey, if they like it and they watch it, they are like “Oh, this is really cool and well done, and I liked the questions and I liked how I sounded.” Like all that kind of stuff, then they would share it.
And if they share it with let’s say — let’s just use a random example, a thousand people Steve. What I have noticed is let’s say 200 come and watch it and 50 people say, “You know what I liked it so I’m going to subscribe, right?” Well, compound that over time, I mean that happened with almost every interview. We had a lot people share them and that started to grow the list early on. And that was how really I started to build those relationships. And also I think the key that I have always tried to do Steve is talk and type like I’m in real life.
Steve: Yeah, you definitely talk — I mean talking to you, you definitely act like you are doing real life for sure.
David: Yeah, and I think that was the greatest compliment you could ever get. Like I remember when I was speaking at events, I don’t do events and stuff anymore. But when I was out kind of speaking and stuff like that, that was like always the greatest compliment I could get, if someone is saying, “Hey, you are just like you are online, right?” And I think that’s a good teaching moment there because it’s not the case with everyone, let’s just put it that way. So I think that — you hear this, it’s almost cliché, you would agree, but I talk to people like they are friends of mine, and we are having fun, like that’s why I talk to people.
I don’t talk like a marketer or an infomercial, or a CEO or anything like I’ll talk down to people, anything horrible like that, that you wouldn’t want to do. I treat people just like we are friends and it’s a family. And I think that’s helped really kind of grow it over time, because at the end of the day getting traffic and bringing people in is one thing, but it’s really about building the relationship with those people that’s critical.
And now, honesty the relationship a lot of time is built through commerce with us. Do you know what I mean? Like the relationship is built through great content if you will, like meaning a free webinar or a free video series, or some kind of free teaching element. And then really the relationship is solidified by some kind of commitment, meaning purchasing a product or program and then it goes from there. So it’s definitely been an interesting journey for sure.
Steve: As you were doing these interviews, you mentioned that the landscape has changed right? And so I remember you hosted everything on your own site, and you used to collect subscribers that way. So how would that have changed today, like given that there’s podcasting, there’s YouTube, there’s all these other avenues. How would you proceed today if you were to get started?
David: That’s a really good question, what I would do today. It would be similar; there wouldn’t be a ton of changes. For me – it’s [inaudible 00:21:54] with my brand, I could get away with a broader show like I did then. You know what I mean; a lot of times if you were to start today you are going to need something much more specific, because there’s so many broad shows out there, right? Like on entrepreneurship right, like — for example doing a show about people that have online stores right? Like that would be a type of specific thing that would be pretty cool.
But in terms of the marketing, I would definitely obviously be on iTunes again, maybe on YouTube; I have to think that through. But here is the thing that I think would be the biggest thing, Steve is that I would have plenty of calls to action in my podcast, basically doing ads for myself.
Steve: Okay, would you take on sponsors then?
David: Maybe, but I would say that my first — I would say my primary goal though of a podcast besides create content obviously and having fun, would be that I want to get leads and people towards my products and programs, right. So I would want them to walk them down a path towards create awesome online courses, maybe towards Course Cats that you mentioned earlier, which is helping — it’s a theme and a closed website to help people create their own course website on word press without needing an insider to develop or write. So might be walking them down a path to that.
So I think a lot of times I would be promoting free stuff that you would have enter your email address for during the podcast, does that makes sense? So like I would say, ‘Hey, check out this free video series on creating awesome online courses. And send them over there and whatever that link is and they could enter their email and start down a path to get free videos, and then eventually the invitation to join the program. Maybe for cost cut, it might be something that I’m working on now, it could be like a tutorial on how to set up a course from start to finish. Whatever it might be, I would be my own advertiser.
That would be my number one thing I would do, maybe later on I would consider other ads, but I would make sure that I didn’t cannibalize my own sales. Because that’s really at the end of the day what the crux of a business is.
Steve: You know what’s hilarious about all this David is that I had the same struggles with my podcast also. So in my podcast in the beginning and the end I pushed my own stuff, my free mini course, and starting your own online store. And just recently I have been getting offers for sponsorships. And I debated to myself for a long time whether to take this, because the money actually isn’t that great and so right now I’m just trying with a sponsor right now, with the podcast and want to see how it goes.
David: Sure I mean running is fair, and that’s what’s cool about this business and that’s what I love about retreats. If you want to kind of lamp it all together in the media entrepreneurship, is that you could do these experiments. And either it’s not going to be — it’s not like you are building a hotel, and you are taking on like $20 million in a day, and it might not work, right? Like this is not that big of a deal, you give it a shot and you are like okay, it’s either good or not.
And I think in my opinion it’s going to be a numbers thing whether you feel like it’s taking away from your own sales, is it making sense or not, it might, it might not. I mean, a great example Steve is John Lee Dumas entrepreneur on fire. He does a good job of kind of walking in the line with sponsors and his own products and programs.
And I also know for a fact, that his products and programs by far outsell. I mean in terms of his—I mean not even close, but he still does sponsors as well, so there’s not a perfect answer to that, I think you really want to keep your goals in mind. Because the last thing I would want though is cannibalizing my own revenue of my products and programs, because I’m promoting Snookies Cookies or whatever, whatever it might be.
Steve: You always come up with these whacked out names for stuff that I don’t know where you pull that stuff from.
David: I don’t know, neither do I.
Steve: So you know I got an online course myself, which is got about 1,200 members at this point. So I thought it could be kind of interesting to compare some notes on the entire process. So let’s say someone in the audience wants to create their own digital course and this is right up your allay. Walk me through the steps. What is step one and what is the logical progression in doing so?
David: Yeah, there’s really seven steps to creating an online course for sure. And the first step there’s a little bit by depending on where you at right? So the first step that I recommend is that people either know what topic they want to create a course on or they are not 100% sure on what topic they want to create the course on, right? So they either know or they don’t know if you will, when you started yours where were you?
Steve: I knew exactly what I was going to do, just because my whole blog had just one theme to it.
David: Right, which is so awesome, and that’s why you are a genius and the rest of us struggle Steve, right?
Steve: All by accident my friend.
David: Right, but it’s funny because I was actually more in the number two. And a lot of people I talk to, people I have done webinars with and things like that; they are often in number one like you are. They kind know what exactly what it is, I’m like well aren’t you just lucky. But regardless of whether you are number one or number two, here is a couple of tips. If you are not sure exactly what you want to do your course on, I call this the paying attention principle okay. Start thinking about what questions have you been getting online? I had coffee at cocktail hours at — wherever you go via email, on your website, like anything like that start paying attention.
That’s how I started back in the days I said, “Oh my god, people are asking about interviews, it’s been right under my nose the whole time and I had no clue right?” So I would start with that. Another way to look at that is if you have a podcast or blog. If you don’t and you know how to post, someone walks people through stuff that’s gotten really good attraction, I think that’s another good thing to look at there as well.
But regardless whether you are at one or at two, if you have an idea come up with some kind of idea you want to test, right? And what I would recommend doing is actually sending out a quick little survey. And use whatever assets that you have to promote said surveys. What I mean by that is, if you have an email list or a Facebook page, a blog, a podcast, some combination of all those things, if you’ve got none at all you could start with your personal Facebook friends, something like that right?
And I ask them one open ended question, and that question is, what do you want to know more about blank? And blank is obviously don’t type blank, you want to type in the topic. What do you want to know more about opening your online store? Or you could even tailor it Steve, what do you want to know more about growing your online store, it’s very different right, starting versus growing, very-very different. You could start to tailor these things, right?
And what ends up happening, it’s not about getting a thousand responses or anything like that right? It’s just about kind of testing the waters a little bit to get some feedback, get some ideas, get the language used, build some confidence up. Because a lot of times what I realized, is people don’t realize how much they know until some people to fill out their survey.
They are like wait a minute; I thought everyone knew how to set up an online store right, or whatever it might be. And you realize that you have — a lot of people get trapped in this, well, who am I to be an expert, right? Why– I’m not an expert, and I always tell people you don’t — the expert fairy doesn’t come flying in the window at night, and come in and like tap you and like sprinkle you with expert dust and fly away, right? If you done something where you’ve got results and you can share this with other people, you are good to go. This is not like you have to have 50 books and live on a mountain, have you noticed that Steve?
Steve: You know what’s hilarious about what you are saying just now, I remember like when I first created my sales page for my course, and it wasn’t converting that great. I sent out this survey, and then people started telling me what they want to hear. And then I would use their exact language on the sales page and it started to convert better.
David: Right, and you know what’s also interesting about that is a lot of times you will pick up stuff that you didn’t even think about, right? Like for example I’m making this up or let’s just say it’s about an online store and oh my god, like the number one question is which shopping cart should I use, right? Well, now boom, lights should be going off in your head. This could be a great leading point on my sales pages. This could be a free video that I could do, like, “Hey, here’s the best shopping cart to use, I am going to show you exactly how to do it right now, if you want information on the course go here.”
You know what I mean, like there’s a lot of different things you can do with that, because the foundation of this kind of stuff is critical. And I think that’s one of the key things. People want to skip, and just kind of go start recording stuff, let’s focus on the foundation first, and it’s going to make the rest of this process very easy, in all honesty. If we know what to do with, it’s very easy.
Steve: Sure, so what – let’s say you have your idea already. What’s the next step?
David: Do the survey, right.
David: And then the next thing is like to kind of get the core stuff out of the way. So that means; naming, pricing, all that kind of good stuff, right. Like kind of that foundational thing about your course, before you even record it. And I’m a big believer — I love recording stuff first, I mean recording stuff before I sell it, versus, you know kind of doing the hey I’m going to release it as I create it type of thing, because I’ve noticed that actually adds a lot of stress on top of people. Meaning that now they have to worry about marketing and promoting, and they have to shoot module four, and like this and that. There’s a lot of stuff that goes on, so I’m actually a believer that you want to record early on, but…
Steve: Interesting, I actually went the opposite stance, just because I needed a kick in the butt to get working.
David: Yeah, some people do. And that’s why I always encourage people regardless of which way you’re going to do it, and this is important Steve, that you want to get a date on the calendar, right?
David: I don’t give a crap what you need to do, put a date on the calendar. It will be this is it, like it will be done. You know what I mean? And you’ve got to do that, and you’re right. Some people do need that actual kind of pressure and that’s totally fine. But in terms of naming your course, this is something people get hang up on, and it’s a lot easier that they think because at the end of the day, the name doesn’t matter. And this is so important — like the name doesn’t matter.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be about the result you’re getting people and the hook. What’s the promise? What’s the result, you know. How can you — it’s the sexy part of it, if you will. Like what’s the promise of doing your online course? So for example Steve what’s your promise?
Steve: My promise is that you will have an online store up and running and you will be profitable.
David: There you go. And our promise for example, is that you will have an online course, right?
David: And you will do a launch, and you will bring in sales. So you want to have something that’s specific, that is if they follow exactly what you do to a T, what’s the result? And if you can’t get that, you don’t have a good topic, you know. And so, the key here is not worrying about the name. I would just grab a .com, you know, and this is — I think it’s important. I don’t — you could have your core website, and put a bunch of courses up on it, I like to have each course being its own little mini-branch.
So — because when you’re — I’m a big believer in charging premium prices, and getting premium customers, and creating premium products, Steve. And the thing is, I love having little mini-brands. So I would love if people grabbed the .com that they want for that course. You know supersexycourse.com.
David: Steveistheman.com course, whatever [Inaudible] [00:33:04]
Steve: I totally agree with you Dave. We like took the exact same path here, go on. Sorry.
David: Yeah, so — yeah exactly, so, right on. So you want to grab a .com, it’s great for branding. It makes things a lot easier. And then in terms of pricing your course, you know people have different philosophies here, and I’ve learnt a lot of this over time and tested it, and there’s really no reason to not be in the top 10% of your market. And I think this is so critical because people say; well I want to try to undercut people, or I want to do a special ridiculous discount, no.
The top 10% of your market is going to attract the very best people, the least problem people, in all honesty, and also people that are much more likely to get results because they are invested in it, right? We’ve always heard, I going to get what you pay for. Right or you’re going to get what you pay for. [Inaudible] [00:33:51] someone over there, so we went to Las Vegas, and we went to the most expensive buffet in Las Vegas, Steve, I don’t know, $200 or so. I don’t know how much, the most expensive one. So I’ll say it’s $200, I’m going to eat a wheel barrel full of lobster if we do that. And the reason for that is I want to get my money’s worth, you know what I’m saying. You want to get your money’s worth.
David: And so, I think that’s where you want to think about pricing is towards the top end of the market. Now people calling me and say, David wait a minute, how am I going to stick out from the competition? There’s another course out there on my subject. I can’t believe it. What am I going to do? Should I pack my ball and go home? And the answer is of course not. Other courses on your subject is a good thing, is a good thing. If there’s other courses out there on your subject, that is showing you that you have a hot market, and it’s something that people are willing to invest in, right?
Yet someone in my Create Awesome Online Courses program even [ph] private Facebook group just for customers, and we had someone coming in there and say you know, I want to do a podcasting course, but I’m really nervous about it because I see so many out there. I see this one, is great. I see this one, it’s great.
And so there’s many, many ways that you can stick out from the pack, and one of those ways, besides your own experience and your own teaching style which is going to be unique to anyone else, which is important, but also the fact that you can come up with some kind of gap or specific niche, that you can serve. So for example, this customer we realized that he works really well with people that sell services. Okay, so sell service based businesses. He had more specific terms for that, but I’m just basically blank.
Steve: That’s fine, yeah.
David: Service people, and he wants to teach them how to podcast with also the specific end result of using the podcast to drive to a funnel that will help generate more business.
David: And that’s very, very different than teaching people how to podcast and get sponsors. Or teaching people how to podcast, and just have some fun, and not have a business to associate with it, or this or that. So there’s always ways that you can niche down. And I think that’s one of the key things to think about during these foundational periods of your course is you know can I niche down on topic? Can I niche down on people?
So for example on topic would be something like that, and on people, right? Maybe another one, instead of doing a course on how to generate leads on social media, which is very broad and ridiculous, you might want to do one on how to generate leads for attorneys on LinkedIn. So the more specific you can go with something, and not just have a broad process, the better off you’re going to be when it comes to your course.
Steve: So to summarize what you’re saying, basically you want to get fewer customers, but those customers will be higher paying. So you want to create a premium course to a very tailored audience, right?
David: You want people who will make comment and see your great free content, and when they see a great course, they say; heck, yeah, that is me, or that’s not me at all. You want one or the other, you don’t want that middle ground, it’s kind of for me, I don’t know, maybe, maybe not, right?
David: That’s not good. You want people to be like; oh my God. He’s — he or she is talking directly to me, that’s me, that’s me, I’m totally on that. And that’s when you’re eliciting that emotion, where people are going to invest because they want that, they want what you’re offering, versus like; it’s kind of for me and my neighbor, and the puppy down the street, right? And that’s where people start to get themselves in a little trouble.
Steve: Yeah, so one thing that a lot of people get concerned about is if they have a course or something, how do you going to get people to sign up if you don’t have a big audience or a big list already built in. Like you had that luxury when you launched, but your students obviously won’t, right?
David: Well, I got across the board and I always tell people that — and this is the way I design this Steve, I designed it for people that have an email list of some kind. I design my programs– because another lesson here — let this be a lesson is that a course for everyone is really a course for nobody, at the end of the day. So we draw a little line, the same way we say; hey, you might have 50 people, you’ve got to have some people.
Well probably 10X the amount of people that you have after you do a launch of your course, because a lot of people don’t know this, but a launch of your course is one of the best email builders itself, by going through a launch and doing that whole process. But we have had people come in, that have had less of an audience, we just don’t — we don’t — I don’t specifically teach list building. I can give advice and do different things there, because everyone comes at it from a different stage. We want to look for people that have an audience of some kind, and they’re ready to create a course and promote it to that audience, and also grow that audience, you know.
Steve: I see, I got it.
David: But that being said, you know, there’s plenty of ways you can start out with that, and one of the greatest things that you can do is start with a give-away. Start with a give-away. A give-away that you in return, someone gives their email address, you give them something free. A free video series, a free cheat sheet, a free resource guide, a free infographic, whatever it might be, and that can be one of the greatest basis for list building is having this great free give-away, that then — you then promote your butt off on the internet.
There’s a lot of different ways you can do that, right? You can start with again a personal Facebook page. You can start by doing Facebook ads so that seeing if people sign up, right. You could do — you could go out and try to get on podcasts and say, hey I’ve got this unique angle on this topic, I would love to come on and teach it, and then at the end, you get to plug yourself, on the podcast, or whatever it might be, you say, hey check out now my free resource guide, my free cheat sheet, my free video, at this link, right? Same thing with guest blogging, if you could get out there and do it. So there’s definitely a massive hustle element that comes with building a list, Steve. Would you agree with that?
Steve: Absolutely, and so just curious, you have a bunch of students. Have any of them one with really small lists have been successful selling their courses?
David: Absolutely, absolutely. And the funny thing is, I tell people it’s designed for people that have a list of some kind, and people won’t listen to me, all right. They’ll say oh I know, I’m going to give it a shot, and then it’s funny; we’ve created this kind of fourth category of people that buy our course. Like our categories a lot of times are; a blogger, a podcaster that wants to create a course.
Someone that has a course right now and maybe it’s not going so well, or maybe they want to do even better, so they want to come in and learn the process, or someone that does like one-on-one work or some kind of other work and wants to scale it. You know, they speak, they are an author, whatever it might be, and they want to scale it. They come in, but our fourth category has been what I would call the committed beginner.
Committed beginner is the person that comes in and says you know what, I don’t have a list, but I’m going to listen to everything you say, and I’m going to learn a little list building on my own, you know a little bit, and I’m going to go out there and get it. Maybe I might grab an ads program, maybe I’ll do whatever. So, there’s a guy named Brian who just launched a course — this took him less than a month. I’ve got to double check on it, I don’t want to completely quote that, it might be five weeks, you know shoot me. But he started with nothing, Steve. Nothing and we’re talking nothing. And he came in — he came out of the great opt-in, it’s — he actually didn’t want me to talk about his topic all that much, because it’s pretty competitive…
Steve: Yeah, that’s fine.
David: But here’s what I can say about the topic, the topic is teaching people how to pass a specific exam. Does that help?
Steve: Okay, yes.
David: So its teaching people how to pass a specific exam, he literally came up with some free videos, put up an opt-in page, used LeadPages or whatever he did for that, sort of driving some ads traffic, and he actually started a little blog where he’d get some articles, and get some things out there, that are all pointed towards this free object, okay. He got just a few people, now. I want to say it was like 80 people, 70 people. Something like that, walked them then through where they got this free piece of content that made — walked them down a line towards the course, and said; hey, you like this free stuff? Great here’s the course, right. He ended up doing about $3600 already in the sales from this.
David: And realize this is from nothing. I mean what else could you say about what other type of business would allow you to do that so quickly, and so, now he can build on it. He’s built his credibility. He can use those people for testimonials, and he can grow from there. So you know, if you want to start and your assets are relatively low as to who you can reach online, I think a great way of starting, if you know exactly what you’re going to do, and I think that’s important Steve. The problem is when you have someone that comes in that has no audience and no clue what they want to do.
David: That’s not really who I serve, and I think those types of people just need to get out there and get more experience, in all honesty. But if you know, you’ve got this great thing you want to teach, but you don’t have an audience yet for it, that could be very doable, because that’s when you can start testing offers. Testing ads, hustling your butt off to get on to podcast, and doing guest blogging, that’s where all that stuff can happen. So I don’t want to deter people and say oh my God, I have no lesson out of here, it’s just if you’re clear on your topic, and what you have to offer, there’s a lot of ways you can do that as well.
Steve: Cool, hey David. I wanted to spend at least a couple of minutes talking about standard platforms and kind of throw you a little soft ball here. So let’s say someone wants to create a course, what platform do you recommend, and does there happen to be some sort of plug-in that makes the whole process easier?
David: Yes. Well four — actually four steps is not a plug-in, so we’ll talk about this. This is…
David: This is interesting, so let me back up the story on this, is that when I first started doing courses and teaching courses, it was a massive pain in the butt to get your course website up, right? Because you had two options, essentially, option one is that you get a third party site. So somewhere you pay a subscription or something like that, and you put your course up on there, and you pay every month, but I don’t mind paying every month for something, but there was also a lot of other weird stuff that would happen. Like transaction fees or you couldn’t customize anything.
So it didn’t look really good. Or their sites were not reliable, or they would take your customers and start marketing them other stuff, right. All kinds of stuff, because at the end of the day, remember we talked about control of revenue, it’s the same thing with your course website. You want to have 100% control of your course website. Not 98, you want 100%, right?
David: So the best option, what I’ve always used is WordPress. WordPress because then you can build something that’s really cool. But here’s the problem, until now with WordPress has been– I’ve always told people listen, WordPress is great, but to get it looking, you know amazing, and working perfectly, you’re going to have to hire a designer or a developer. Unless you’re a super techie person, which not so many people are. I mean, if you are, and you’ve got great design ability and great tech ability, you are in the very small percentage, okay.
And so what we realized — and you know what, a lot of people do go out and hire people [Inaudible] [00:44:40] and it’s great, but there was never a solution where you could build something that looked like a six figure designer and developer did it, but you did it yourself. Or you could even pass it off to a virtual assistant. That — it’s that easy. So I got to gather with my developer Brad, who I’ve been working with for five years, and I said “Listen, in all honesty, I’m sick of answering the WordPress question.” I get it 50,000 times a week, people say, hey what theme should I use? Like what’s this?
And we’ve tested everything out there, and we just didn’t like a lot of stuff that was out there. It’s either it didn’t look good, or it didn’t work well. And we said we want to make something that is very easy, that people can customize and make stuff look a million bucks, get their course up online, move on with their day. So that’s where we created coursecats.com.
I mean Brad really did all the heavy lifting on this, because he took what he normally charges $5000 to $6000 for and made it into a very affordable piece of software that people can get, where they get this template, they get this theme and template and sales page for their course, and then a guide with videos and everything to walk them through, okay, now you do this, now you get your hosting, now you do that, now here is how we are going to put our videos up. Here is how we are going to do this; here is how you make the colors. And we did a kind of soft private launch for this to my customers, and it sold out in 50 minutes.
And then we opened up another 100 sponsors, sold out less than in two days. And we’ve had people on and this is coolest thing that were procrastinating and there was stock, they said — one guy actually said, he had been waiting for five years which is a little scary for everyone. But they were able to get their courses up over a weekend, over a day, over three days by doing – you know however time they wanted to put into it. They were able to get it up, but not only up but up where it works and it looks good.
So that’s of Course Cats this [ph], so the way that we do it, think of it as a framework Steve. And then we actually have just a few, very-very few, recommended plug-ins, because we didn’t want to reinvent the plug-in game, because there’s actually amazing plug-ins out there now. I mean plug-ins for those who don’t know, what I’m really referring to is what we call membership site plug-in, or a course plug-in.
And what essentially that does is protect your content, so just your customers can see it and it integrates with your payment processor and your email service source kind of things. So we have four that we recommend inside the Course Cats to help people. But you can think of Course Cats as basically as if you would hire a big time developer or designer to create your site and make it look awesome, that’s what it is.
And I’m very-very proud of this because we’ve never done anything big like this before, and it just came from years of people asking for something like this. And we said, “Well, we can’t find a solution that we want to recommend, so we are going to go create our own, and that’s where it’s gone from there.
Steve: So would say it’s a WordPress theme then?
David: Yeah, I would say it’s a theme on steroids because it’s much more I think, because you get a theme, but you also get a full guide to walk you through everything. Not just a theme but also other stuff, like how do you get this plug-in and put in there right, for example. And also– and this was Brad’s idea in all honesty, is that we kind of came up with this thing called the perfect sales page for just for online courses. And you get the sale page as well, all that integrates there at least. So it’s yeah, so that’s a good way of looking at it.
Steve: Okay, and then you recommend membership plug-ins that kind of work with the theme seemlesly.
David: Exactly, we walk you– and at the end of the day you don’t need that many pieces to create a really successful course website. Like we were talk about this the other day, you need hosting and a fresh WordPress installing, we recommend Bluehost for that. Then you get Course Cats and that takes care of like 98% of the rest of it. Meaning now you have got okay, a place to put your marginals, a place to put your bonuses, your downloads, your full website, right? Your sales page, okay, then you simply integrate it with one of the four plug-ins that we recommend, and we are going to add more over time. We are really– we are really specific on that stuff because we don’t want people adding stuff that’s crappy, right? Like we want to make sure that they are like okay, we don’t want to add something that breaks.
We want something that works really well, so we got our recommend plug-ins like WishList and PowerPress and a couple of other ones in there. So that will then protect your content and also integrates with your email provider and stuff like that. And then we talk about your payment processor which could be something like Stripe or authorized.net, and that’s it.
Then you are off to the races and I think that, for me watching my students and myself with this, this could be one of those thing that people waste so much time, not only on, but thinking about right? They are like, what I’m going to use? What’s plug-in? What’s this? What’s that? They drive themselves crazy and it causes what we call techno stress, right? And the thing is we just wanted to alleviate that, we wanted to be like let’s not worry about this. Let’s get it up and get it done.
And now we can worry about the fun stuff like promoting and marketing and creating great testimonials and really helping people. Let’s get past the tech stuff and move on. And that’s really why I want to get pass it because I got — frankly sick of hearing people say well, this plug-in or that plug-in? You know what I mean? This theme or that theme or like well, we are just going to lay it out for you and do a step by step system on what to do.
Steve: I mean this piece of software seems like a very logical progression to what you’ve been going towards, right?
David: Yeah, for sure because it’s simply listening and understanding what people’s problem and ambitions are in my niche and going with it, and making sure that it makes sense. So I think to me, people, one of the mistakes I see out there is people say, “Well, I’ve got my course on creating teddy bears. Now I’m going to create a piece of software on kettle bell swinging.” And you are like, “This doesn’t make any sense my friend. This is like two completely different universes.” So I think the more you can bring things together and make it into a really integrated thing, makes a lot of sense and it’s also a lot of fun.
Steve: Cool man. Hey, we’ve already been chatting for 50 minutes Dave. Where can people find you if they have questions for you either about creating courses or your theme.
David: Yeah, so and I’m sure you’ll have some links you can put whatever you want.
Steve: Yes, absolutely.
David: There are some special wants. One is www.createawesomeonlinecourses.com which you can be, you start with that and Steve I might have a special link for you for all that kind of good stuff. My main site is the www.risetothetop.com which links to everything. So it links to Create Awesome Online Courses, it links to Course Cats. And then of course you can check out Course Cats at www.coursecats.com meow, you don’t have to put in the meow. You don’t have to put in the meow.
Steve: Are you taking new customers for that right now.
David: Yes. So we are actually officially– we are actually in the– well this will be up for a Russian or—yes we are open and customers can come in absolutely right now.
Steve: Awesome dude. Hey, well thanks Dave for coming on the show. I learned a whole lot about online courses and I hope this kind of pushes some people who are sitting on the sidelines over the edge.
David: Awesome Steve. Thanks for having me. It’s been a blessing and a pleasure.
Steve: All right man, take care.
I hope you enjoyed that episode. I have known David for seven years now and it’s been really cool to watch him become a media mogul, and find his calling teaching others how to start online digital courses.
For more information about this episode go to www.mywifequitherjob.com/episode75, and if you enjoyed listening to this episode, please got to iTunes and leave me a review, because when you write me a review, it not only makes me feel proud, but it helps keep this podcast up in the ranks, so other people can use this information, find the show more easily and get awesome business advice from my guests. It’s also the best way to support the show. And please tell your friends because the greatest compliment that you can give me is to provide a referral to someone else either in person or to share it on the web.
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Outro: Thanks for listening to the My Wife Quit her Job Podcast, where we are giving the courage people need to start their own online business. For more information visit Steve’s blog at www.mywifequitherjob.com.