33: How An E-Course Can Position You As A Thought Leader
I’ve got to admit -- I’ve been side eyeing e-courses for a while now.
I’m intrigued by them but also a little wary of the promises I hear
experts making related to e-courses and spiked income.
I’m sure you’ve heard these things too: “E-courses are passive income.” “Make money while you sleep.” “Build it and they will come.”
These all feel like big promises for little work.
I’m very aware I’m working on not equating hard work with valuable work, but still — if e-courses are really the path to cash, how is it possible to make yours stand out?
I had Sharice on the show because she approaches course creation differently. On this episode she lays out:
When you might be ready for an e-course,
The benefits of creating a course to supplement other services and/or products,
How to be clear on your differentiators and target market needs,
Whether you should consider an open or closed cart launch model,
And things to consider when structuring your first course.
MEET SHARICE ENIS
Sharice is a marketing technologist, course designer, and the entrepreneur behind Sharice and Co. She helps coaches, consultants, and experts turn their knowledge and experience into beautifully packaged online courses and membership sites. Her goal is to help you get your online course done faster so you can launch sooner.
As a self-proclaimed introvert, it may be a surprise that Sharice grew up in the performing arts. Dance and acting took up a large portion of her childhood. And while she doesn’t attribute these things as influential to her path as an entrepreneur, she still took singing lessons as an adult. Practicing using her voice and breaking through self-imposed reservations about standing out has helped her show up more fully and confidently in her business.
Speaking of her business, Sharice is fully aware people are skeptical about the model of course creators creating courses on how to build a course.
In her opinion, this motivated business owners to start creating a course because they think its going to be a quick and easy project to generate new income. But as Sharice knows, solid build-out is a project that needs managing. As a designer and project manager, Sharice helps her clients not only understand how to package up their genius; she helps lead them through the entire process.
FIGURING OUT WHAT YOUR AUDIENCE NEEDS
ARE E-COURSES REALLY PASSIVE INCOME?
WHAT TO CONSIDER WHEN BUILDING AN E-COURSE
YOUR MINIMUM VIABLE PRODUCT
It’s taken time for Sharice to figure out that her ideal client isn’t the beginning-stage entrepreneur. She works with emergent thought leaders who have a track record, expertise, and have taken clients through their process before. They want something that encapsulates their expertise and represents them at the highest level.
And while there is self-doubt that comes along with serving an audience that has a bigger business than her own, Sharice quickly realized there are a lot of people serving the entry-level entrepreneur. There are not that many serving the 6-7 figure business coach who has the money to invest in a course.
Most of her clients have a team. They’re not just looking for a virtual assistant (VA) to support them with marketing. They need someone who has a deep specialty in course development who’s been there, done that, and knows the steps you need to take.
You might be wondering, “Well what is the difference between a VA or OBM and what Sharice does?”
A VA or general freelancer is more task oriented. That means you’re still expending mental energy — and time! — to figure out what tasks you need completed and then delegating those tasks. Working with Sharice, on the other hand, means entering a defined process. She manages the project and is proactive with asking questions that you may not have even thought about, but are important to the outcome.
As you think about your own differentiators, consider how you might be different than a generalist. Do you have a defined process? Are you owning the project management? Can you guide your clients through areas they haven’t thought about before? By clearly understanding what you bring, compared to others, you’ll have an easier time explaining to your ideal client the value of working with you.
You might be ready for a course if:
You’re bringing your business online for the first time and want to build your following and list,
You’ve hit a ceiling with the way you work right now and can’t grow anymore,
You’re dipping your toe into teaching, or
You want to help more people than you can trading time for dollars.
There is always going to be upfront labor required when building a course. How you sell it is going to dictate how much effort goes into it from there.
Some people launch with an open cart. They have open enrollment — meaning that their course is always open for purchase. Open and closed cart enrollment means that the course is open for a short period of time and when the cart closes it’s unavailable for purchase until it opens again. Having an open-closed cart enrollment creates urgency around the purchase rather than allowing people to think that they can put off the purchase because it’s available all the time.
When your course is $97 or below, it can be set up as more passive income because it feels more like a impulse purchase. Customers see the investment as lower risk. But when you get above the $97 price point it may be important to give customers a little more motivation to make their purchase with a limited time offer.
Sharice also recommends that when first launching your course, you consider running it live. This is a great way to get feedback, be interactive with your customers, and test the material. But, of course, it’s not a passive way of selling the course.
Unfortunately there are misconceptions about adding a course to your business. You can make money while you sleep, but you’re putting the work in while you’re awake to market the course in order to make sales.
One misconception that Sharice hears often is that if you’re creating a course it needs to be a big, comprehensive, signature offering that replaces your one-to-one work. While that’s certainly an option, you can also create a starter course. You can also create a course to help get more leads for your one-to-one work.
Before diving into any design, Sharice recommends starting with a planning session where you’ll consider things like:
What your goals are for creating an e-course?
What kind of course should you create?
How should you price it?
Speaking of pricing, Sharice gave some great tips on the topic. The first thing you need to consider is what your operating costs will be for the course. If you’re using a platform for hosting, that will be a monthly cost.
You also need to consider what you want the ROI is for the person investing in the course. Will they make money off of what they learn or is it more for hobby? If you’re teaching someone how to advance in their career or land a higher paying job, a $1000 investment might seem worth it to them. But if it’s just for entertainment purposes, $97 might be more reasonable.
You’ve also got to think about your own financial goals. It’s important your course is financially sustainable. Sharice has seen entrepreneurs create debt for themselves with a course because they thought it would be easier than selling their services, without considering the costs of keeping the course running.
Finally, are you going to DIY or hire someone to help with the build out and/or marketing? You should consider what the impact of this course will be on your brand and the time you’ll be spending to achieve results.
Obviously there’s a lot to consider when creating a course. But Sharice wants everyone to know that when you’re first starting out there’s immense value in bootstrapping. You can always improve your course over time when you’re ready to make an investment or bring on a partner to help you get it done.
Very few of us can afford to invest in someone to do everything for our businesses. And the expectation that we have to be specialists in it all is unrealistic.
The most important thing is just getting started.
Course creation can bring out the perfectionist in all of us and if we listen to the voices in our head telling us it’s not good enough, we’ll never share it with the world.
Sharice shared that she’s paid for courses that weren’t perfect. The video quality was fine, but just fine. They recorded with a webcam that was far from studio quality but it got the job done.
Instead, focus on what you minimally need to move froward and introduce something that’s different than what everyone else is offering.
Don’t be afraid of standing out. Too many of us are blending in because we see there are others in our space doing what we do. But when you notice that others aren’t thinking about your industry the way you do or executing the same, that means you’re actually starting to brand right.