EPISODE 110

Create High-Ticket Programs with Frank Bria

In this LMScast Chris Badgett of codeBOX discusses ways to create high-ticket programs with Frank Bria, host of the Scale to Success podcast and creator of the High-Ticket Program. We’ll be covering pricing, scaling, and the basic building blocks of a successful program.

Frank offers some of his keys to building a high-end course, beginning with pricing based on the value of knowledge. The problem is that knowledge is becoming less valuable over time, so you want to base your pricing on the results you’ll deliver to the customer. If you switch to outcome based thinking in developing your courses, your customers will be able to see immediate life-changing value in what you’re offering them.

People buy things for one of 4 reasons: to make money, save money, stay out of jail, or realize a better life. You need to identify which of those 4 outcomes your courses provide for. What most entrepreneurs do wrong is to play the psychological game of making people want something to ease their pain, but then being ambiguous about how you’re going to deliver on your promise. You do need to create that gap, but you also have to bridge the gap. Customers need to see that you have a map and a plan to take them where they need to go.

Frank then explains the SAM Framework for resolving the 3 core customer objections and how to get past those objections through providing the skills, accountability, and mentorship they need to achieve their desired results. Training is not enough – you need to walk them through the processes using tools like a Facegroup or mastermind group, email program, Q&A sessions, or other intentional ways of delivering on your promise.

Chris and Frank talk about the fears that often prevent people from making the transition from a highly successful career to providing online courses as a business. Frank explains his pricing theory and tells how to think about pricing for the results you provide online at the same rates you have charged conventionally, because you should basically make the same money for the same result.

They discuss the 5 building blocks you need to create high value programs, which are virtual training, a mastermind group, coaching, a done-for-you service, and live events and workshops. You can get Frank Bria’s free blueprint for his 3 steps to create high-ticket programs here.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. In this session we’re talking with Frank Bria from Scale to Success and the creator of High-Ticket Program, and we’re going to get into some really interesting ways to look at pricing, scaling, and really when you’re designing your courses, that you make sure that you take certain essential building blocks into account if you want to build a successful and scalable program. Frank, thank you for coming on the show.

Frank: Hey, my pleasure. It’s a honor to be on your program. Thanks.

Chris: All right. Let’s get right into it. You’re known as the high-ticket guy so what are some of the keys of building a high end course? We get asked this a lot. How do I price my course or if I want to create a premium course, what are the key parts of that but what are some common misconceptions and then how do we get into really starting off strong going for high-ticket in the beginning?

Frank: Yeah, it’s a great question. Basically one of the things that makes it tough when it comes down to pricing is what is the value of knowledge. That fundamentally is the question that we end up asking and I think that’s actually the problem because it’s a trap question. It’s like a trick question. What’s the value of knowledge? Whatever it is, I don’t know the answer of what’s the value of knowledge but I can tell you this for sure. Whatever the value of knowledge is today, tomorrow it will be less.

Chris: Yeah.

Frank: Price of knowledge is going down for sure. There are already people running around saying the price of knowledge is free. Content is free. Whatever. It makes it tough when we are trying to make a business out of teaching. It makes it tough to come up with good pricing. Obviously you want to be paid for your efforts so how do you pull that off? The answer that I’ve come up with, that I think makes the most sense to me personally based on my background and the kind of work that I’ve done is to stop asking about the price of knowledge and to start asking about the price of results.

What is the price of the outcome? Because we’re learning for a particular purpose. We’re learning for an outcome so the example I love to give is the example of someone who teaches a Twitter course. What’s the purpose of learning how to use Twitter? It’s not so that you can feel better about using Twitter. Maybe it is. Maybe we’re feeling less frustrated and it’s easier to live my life but the whole point is if you’re a business owner and you’re using Twitter, you’re doing it specifically to gain leads, to get sales.

The value in the knowledge of getting sales is the value in the sales. That’s now something I can quantify and that’s something where actually price isn’t going to go down. It’s actually going to go up over time. If we can make this switch of worrying about how much we price the knowledge and how much we price the results, if we can switch over to outcome based thinking in what we do, then we’re in a much better place. We’re in a place where prices go up, we’re in a place where we can charge high-ticket, we’re in a place where our clients see the immediate value.

We don’t have this thing where it’s like, “I went through your 8 modules and watched your videos. I just didn’t really think it was worth $99.” All of that just goes away and we’re back to a place of you got results. You got money out of this. The challenge I think there is that a lot of times when we develop courses, we don’t think about outcomes. We think about learning outcomes. That’s a instructional design thing but we don’t really think about life outcomes, like life changing outcomes and so I tell people, “Find your life changing outcome. What is the outcome you’re trying to generate for your audience that is life changing?”

If you think I’m overstating it by saying, “life changing outcome” you’re probably in the wrong business because I think as an entrepreneur we should all be out there trying to make big impact and that’s the ticket to high sales. People always say, “What’s the ticket? What’s the secret to selling something for high-ticket?” The secret is changing lives. Period. That’s it exactly.

Chris: That’s really cool. Let’s give out some examples of a big outcome. It’s funny in the online course space in some ways you have to work a lite harder for it where as in society at large, sometimes there’s some assumptions in operation where people don’t think twice about $100 grand in debt for a education. I’m not saying that’s good or bad I’m just saying it’s more just assumed that that’s there but I don’t know. I’m just thinking off the top of my head. I would pay a lot of money for something related to my kids and their health and wellness and well being or a elderly parent or if I was trying to make a career move and have a much better paying career, that’s of value to me.

Frank: Absolutely. Yep. The way I look at it is this and this may be really I don’t know, very tactical but I think people buy stuff for 1 of 4 reasons and only 4 reasons. They either buy something to make money, to save money, to stay out of jail, or to have a better life. That’s it. Really.

Chris: Okay.

Frank: We can categorize all these great outcomes into one of those 4 buckets. The trick is that what a lot of people think actually my audience buys things for more than one of those reasons. Maybe they buy things to make money and have a better life. I guess my argument is that deep down inside that’s probably not true. Deep down inside your audience probably really only has 1 thing in mind. Think about it this way.

Let’s say that I was a business coach as an example and so I’m a business coach whose goal it is for you to make more money and of course with that more money you’ll have a better life. That’s one business model. Now let’s say I’m a business coach whose goal it is to have you have a better life and really enjoy your life. Of course you’re going to need money to be able to do that. You can see those are 2 different businesses. They’re going to attract 2 different kinds of consumers. They’re going to teach different things. They’re going to focus on different things.

Even though we think we’re doing 2 things at the same time, we’re really not. We’re really only doing 1. To your point earlier, here’s the gotcha. People typically spend way more money to have a better life than they do on any of the other 3. Maybe not stay out of jail.

Chris: What’s an example stay out of jail thing?

Frank: Attorneys keep people out of jail.

Chris: Okay right.

Frank: Also there’s lots of management consultants whose job it is to keep you in line with tax laws and compliance regulations and stuff. I put it in there because there’s all sorts of businesses that keep you out of trouble with the government and of course you spend money on that knowing you’re not going to get any of it back. You pay your CPA, that doesn’t really help you. Your tax CPA different story. Maybe he can help you.

Chris: You’re avoiding pain or potential pain.

Frank: Yeah exactly. People, and this is the funny thing, people who are dead broke, in our industry, we have all these people who are like, “I’d love to pay for your course but I don’t have any money because I can’t pay the rent” and all this stuff. Yeah. Watch those people get a DUI. They have $10,000 like that to pay for an attorney to keep them out of jail. Those people will find the money. Definitely there’s this box that’s important to keep your eye out on.

The thing is that the better life thing, like you said. Your kids having a better life, you getting a better career, you being able to take more vacations, those sorts of things people pay money for. The trick is is that it’s hard to quantify but the good news is people sort of mentally put a good premium on that outcome.

Chris: If I want a better life and I’m going to have more free time, I think the popular culture assumption is that there’s a lot of snake oil or just disingenuous offers out there. As somebody who really believes in a product they’re creating to give people a better life and free up more time through building a better business or whatever it is, how do I trust you or how do you handle objections?

Frank: Absolutely. That is the … Before we get to the answer, let me tell you what everyone is doing that is absolutely wrong about this. This is the thing. The classic marketing stuff tells you to build a gap. You create this wonderful picture of how things can be in the future and you get them to mentally invest in all this really awesome stuff happening in their life and then you get them back to today, why it’s not happening and what all the challenges are and all the problems and you get them to feel the pain and you get them to want that gap and you make that really painful and then you stop.

That is the mistake. That’s what causes the snake oil salesman. Anyone can do that. Anyone can play the psychological game where you make people want something and you realize they don’t have it and you make it hurt enough and you use the right words and neurolinguistic programming and all this kind of stuff and then suddenly people are going to pay you tons of money without anything and I just think those days are almost over because people are getting wise to it.

The difference is is that yes, you do need to create that gap but you also have to provide a bridge over the gap. You don’t have to give them the answer but you have to say that you have the way. The way I love to think about this is I think about the 1 thing that I follow absolutely even if my gut tells me it’s wrong and that’s my GPS. If I’m in my car driving and that little voice tells me to turn left and deep down inside, it’s like, “Nope, turn right. You got to turn right.” I know everyone in the audience has totally been there. You’re coming up to the intersection and you’re like, “I’m supposed to turn right. I’m supposed to turn right” and it says, “Turn left, turn left.” At the last minute you’re like, “I’m turning left” even though you think you’re supposed to turn right.

Why do you do that? Because you can see on the map that there’s a line between where you are and where you want to go and so your absolutely 100% certain that even if maybe it’s the long way or it’s an extra turn out of the way, you have a path to get there and that’s what we as teachers and service providers need to provide for our clients. They need turn by turn directions on how they get from where they are today to where they’re going to go. That doesn’t mean we give them that all away for free but they have to see the line on the map that traces over the gap. You don’t have to provide the bridge to get there. When you do, it’s not snake oil anymore. It’s, “Oh, first I have to do this. Then I’m going to have to do that. Then I’m going to have to do that.”

Once you can provide that level of detail, you can get rid of that part of the objections of okay yeah you actually have a plan. You’re not just talking about let’s figure it out together. This is really actually something worth investing in

Chris: That’s really cool. That makes a lot of sense. In terms of that path and you have the milestones and the individual components, I heard from you something about Sam framework. Can you tell me more about that?

Frank: Yeah sure absolutely. Because we talk about results and this comes back to your still part of your question like how do you resolve the objections. There are objections and programs not enough. The way I like to describe it is that there are 3 objections that your prospect has. 1, you don’t have a program to get me there. 2, I don’t trust you and 3, I don’t trust me. Those are really your major objections. You’ve got to somehow get past those and here’s the real trick. Your prospect may tell you they have objections to your program if you’re lucky. They may tell you they don’t trust you if you’re really lucky but they’re not going to tell you that they don’t trust them.

You have to know that this is going on in the head of your prospect. How do you do that? One of the ways to really focus on the “I don’t trust me” the prospect doesn’t trust themselves is that they’ve probably invested in training before and haven’t gotten results or they’ve gone through other people’s stuff and found it was snake oil. Because we’re focusing on outcome, because we’re focusing on results, there are really 3 things that you need to provide your prospect in order to get those results. 1 is skills. Absolutely. You have to teach skills.

Another one is accountability because your prospects going to have to need to do something. If they don’t have to do anything, what’s the whole purpose of this? They’re going to have to to do something and you’re going to have to hold them to do that something and the 3rd thing is mentorship. The difference between accountability and mentorship is accountability says, “The learner needs to do something.” Mentorship is, “The learner needs to observe something.” They need to watch you. You as the expert whether that’s seeing examples, whether that’s asking questions, whether that’s getting feedback from the thing that your learner is actually doing.

All 3 of those things need to happen. You can’t just teach skills. The example I give is if you don’t believe me, go get brain surgery from the guy who just read the textbook. No one’s going to go do that. You want them to have walked through this with someone who watched what they did before they operate on you. The same things true with your prospect. They want to make sure that they’re surrounded by this. Training isn’t enough. You can’t … Training is great. You get skills that way but if you really want to create high-ticket results oriented programs, you have to provide for accountability and mentorship as well. How are you going to do that?

Maybe it’s a Facebook group, maybe you have a mastermind, maybe you have an email accountability follow up program. Maybe you have Q&A sessions whatever it is. You have to come up with some intentional way of delivering on those. We call that a Sam profile. That’s skills accountability and mentorship. Every stage of the learning process you need to identify what the Sam profile is of that stage and then deliver on it.

Chris: That’s very cool. Let me take a slight detour and just ask you a personal question that I’m wondering about which as somebody who’s worked with a lot of entrepreneurs and helped a lot of people launch courses and do other things in business, I’m aware of this whole fear of success thing and I used to not believe it or understand it. Then over and over again, right on the 5 yard line, right before launch or right before it’s almost done or almost about to go into the world, inevitably, and I’ve recognized this in myself too. I’m not free of this but where does that come from? Do you have any thoughts on that just in terms of helping people get through that? Is that from a lack of mentorship? Is that from a lack of the right skills or where does that come from?

Frank: That’s a great question. I think there are 3 components to fear of success. 1 is just mindset stuff. It’s the whole impostor syndrome. I don’t belong here. How did I get here? I don’t know what the heck I’m doing. Of course that breeds a whole bunch of, “oh no, all of these people are now trusting me to help deliver some great result and if I fail, I don’t just fail me, I fail all of them.” We all have that.

I think anybody who doesn’t have that is a sociopath. We all have that and anyone who says they don’t is a liar. It’s there. The thing we have to do is admit it’s there and I think we do need mentors to help us through. I certainly have a mentor. I’ve had mentors in the past. One of my mentors is Michael Port and he’s been an incredible teacher and mentor to me and yeah, there have been times where I’ve been in that moment of, “Oh no, this is” and he’s been the perfect guy who’s been like, “You are the next big thing” and I’ve been like, “Wow, you can say that about me?” It shakes you out of it.

We absolutely need mentorship to help us through that and people who have been there before and can recognize that in us. That’s definitely one. The second thing is is I think fear of success can often come from a lack of planning. Okay great, now what? Let’s just say I get this across the 5 yard line and I make the touchdown. Now what? Now I’m going to have to do something I’ve never done before and so that is I think a combination of skills and mentorship. What is the next stage? What are you doing to do next? This happens a lot in service businesses where I talk to service providers, even really successful ones where I say to them, “Okay listen, your client’s not in the room. We have the cone of silence on. You can be honest now.” Honestly, right before you sign up that big project, right before they sign on the line, there’s a little twinge inside of you that’s like, “Oh crap. There goes my schedule.” You know what I mean?

Chris: Yeah.

Frank: We’re really excited about the revenue. We want the money. We totally want it coming in but there’s this little, “Oh crap, that’s going to be a lot of work” and I do think that that element of … It’s like not matching our plan. The business is incongruent with the life we want to live and I do think that a lot of fear of success has to do with I’m successful in the metrics that everyone’s telling me I should be successful in like revenue but for some reason it doesn’t feel like success. Every win feels like it’s a bit of a pure victory. There is that for sure.

I think that’s a business model change and we do need I think people to point out to us, “Hey, if you’re having a twinge of regret every single time a client signs up, there’s a problem that you probably need to fix.” You probably need to figure out what your selling and how it aligns to what you want to be doing.

The third thing is accountability. I think every single on of us gets to that … There’s a part of us that gets to that 5 yard line and it’s like what do you have to do to get it over the line? It’s extra work. It’s the classic 80/20 rule. 80% of the effort to get the last 20% done and sometimes you just need somebody to just kick your butt and help you get that last little bit done. I think if you take a look at all of those pieces together, that helps us … That means you can surround yourself with the resources you need to ensure success when you get it to that red zone.

Chris: Awesome. A lot of people listening to this episode I know because I talk to a lot of people as they’re starting to get into thinking about online courses and different part of that journey but a lot of them are highly successful, make good money consultants and service providers who really want to get into the product ties service or the done for you. I’m going to take my service and I’m going to package it into a course to get the same result for the client. What is the key for making that leap because it’s a big leap and it’s also really scary for people to do but how can they do it without the fear and how can they do it the right way and can you save them some classic stumbling blocks in that transition?

Frank: I’ll tell you the biggest problem that usually happens when people make that transition. You’ve got a classic consultant or high value service provider. When they do project work, when they do one on one work, they’re making good money. They’re charging 40, 50 $70,000 or something. Some of my clients they’re charging $150,000. Before I made the switch over, my clients I was charging them $350,000. How do you make that switch over?

Here’s the big challenge. Go out on the internet and you start looking at courses and course providers and you start looking at price points. You see everything. You’re going to see $19, $99, $500, $2000, all over the map. When I started doing courses, I joined, I won’t even say the name but I joined this one platform for courses. You put your course up there and then you put the price that it’s $799 and then you immediately mark it down to $19 with this idea of getting this flood of people in.

Okay great. Do the math. If I’m going to take the time away from my $70,000 consulting engagement to sell $2000 courses let’s just say, you have to sell 35 of those things in order to make it make some sense and that takes some time. If you talk about a $19, forget it. The numbers are just astronomical. The biggest challenge people have is how do I keep my cash flow going when I make the switch over and I blow away the premise entirely at the beginning. There’s this idea that when you create scalable income that you have to start small and you start with the low stuff and you get your foot in the door and you build this ascension ladder of smaller then bigger then bigger then bigger then bigger and then one of these days maybe I’ll create that wonderful mastermind where we take the 5 people to Tahiti and charge them $100,000.

Isn’t that the internet marketing bill? I just think that whole thing is crap. The whole idea of doing that is complete crap. The idea behind being a high valued service provider is that you’re creating results for your clients. If you create results for your clients, you can do so in a scalable way. You don’t have to do it in a way that sells your time but if you’re getting those same results, why in the world would your prices drop? If you’re priced correctly and you’re charging $70,000 because they’re getting at least 10-20x return on investment. They’re making $700 to $1.4 million lets say on your stuff.

Great. If you do it in a way that doesn’t sell your time and they’re getting the same results, why should your price change? You should be able to charge big money for that exact same result. You probably can’t do it by just putting a couple of videos online. You’re not going to basically get rid of yourself and all of the things that you do with a couple of video training programs but the training is a core component of an overall program. When you plan correctly and you look at the accountability and the mentorship component as well and you design something that gets your client the same result, then you should not be messing around with $500 courses. You should be charging 10, 20, 50, $100,000.

I have a client who has a scalable program that costs $100,000 and that’s because the client gets $1 to $2 million of benefit out of it. It’s all about the value that you’re providing. If you do that first, you don’t have to worry about where’d my money go? That’s the big challenge of making that transition.

Chris: That’s awesome. Let me ask you a question before we get into the stack for programs. What are the key pieces? If we’re looking at something where it’s not obvious what our starting point is that we want to provide a result of 10x value, let’s say you’re looking at something like health. How do you quantify that in terms of 10x result? I know they’ll live long enough to see their grandkids or there’s other ways to talk about it but if it’s not obvious if you take my $10,000 course you can get this $100,000 job in a year, that’s kind of obvious.

With the more abstract or subjective results, how do you do that? How do you-

Frank: Yeah. Great question. The answer is unfortunately you have to ask. It’s basically price testing but before we get to that easy tactical piece, let’s talk about 1 strategic element of that which is really important.

Chris: Okay.

Frank: If you are providing the better life component. We talked about that 4th reason people buy. You have to understand that the value you provide is highly dependent on the person taking that program. For example, I have a client who is a dietitian and she helps women get over digestive IBS issues and basically gets their time back and the program that she offers is for women entrepreneurs who basically are losing 5-10 hours a week because of their health and their business. Get that 5-10 hours back and put it back in their business, basically they get a return on that investment.

Chris: Got you.

Frank: If she was going to offer that exact same program to somebody who let’s say just occasionally has stomach pains, they’re not going to pay $14,000 for her program which is how much it costs because the value to that woman isn’t the same.

Value depends on it’s in the eye of the beholder and a lot of times what happens is we’ll say, “I help you prioritize your life better so that you can spend time doing the things you really enjoy.” Great, that’s awesome. 1 person who doesn’t have a real pain point around that is like, “That’s lame, I wouldn’t pay very much for that” and then we as the course creator go, “Oh, no. I’ve got something that’s not very much of value.” No. We got to go find the audience where it is of value and there’s going to be an audience where it’s a very very painful problem.

When I was a corporate consultant and I worked on 5 continents, I was flying all over the place and 350,000 miles a year, if somebody told me that there was going to be a way to prioritize my life so that I could spend more time with my family, I would have paid a ton of money for that. It all comes down to finding the right audience. It’s not just a matter of identifying exactly what the outcome is but it’s also finding the people who care.

Once you find the people who care you have to ask them. This is a core piece that I really strongly believe in. A lot of people when they create courses or programs, the very first thing they do is they put up a lead magnet and they start sending Facebook traffic to it and all this stuff and I hate that because it totally cuts your legs out from underneath you in getting feedback, desperate feedback that you need. I think that you really need to validate your course or your program with pilot clients.

That means actually going and talking to people, not as part of a sales conversation but literally as a validation process. Here’s the problem I’m trying to solve. Here’s the pain I think you have. Let me validate that. Does that make sense? Do you feel that pain? Is that something you’d invest some money in? How much money would you invest to make that problem go away? You tell me. By the way, I’m thinking of charging X. Would you pay that or not?

Here’s the other trick. If I talk to 7 people about price and all 7 of them tell me that the price is good, my price is too low.

Chris: Right. Right.

Frank: This is something that people don’t understand about pricing theory is that you actually want 30-40% of people to say yes and then you know your price is good because you’ll get a good conversion rate and you’ll also make money out of it so if i make 7 validation calls, I want 5 of the 7 people to basically validate that I’ve got the right problem and the right solution. It’s something they would invest in and yes, all of the words you’re using, they make sense to me. All that stuff.

Of those 7 people, I only want 3 people to tell me that they would buy at the price that I’m offering because that gives me about a 42% conversion rate which is better than a 33 which is what I usually shoot for. Then I know I’m not under charging. Sometimes the nos in the validation tell us just as much as the yeses do.

Chris: Very cool. In terms of pricing, last question here, what is the stack to create high value programs? There’s online courses but there’s more to it. What else could you do? Some ways in our world we call that blended learning a little bit where there’s different modalities to connect with people whether it be events, the online course, and whatever but what is your stack?

Frank: Exactly. I always focus on scalable methods so I don’t like one on one, I don’t like projects. Those are custom projects. I don’t like those so I immediately throw those off. If we’re going to build a program, I want it to be something that’s scalable and for me scalable means that every new client does not take up any more of your time.

Chris: Okay.

Frank: That’s the goal. On day 1 we’re not going to have that, but the goal is we want to create that. If that’s the case, if that’s the goal then I see there’s basically 5 building blogs. They’re like Legos. You can have them put together any way that you want that make up that process. We’ve already talked about one, that’s virtual training. Makes total sense. It’s probably a core component of every program. Some kind of virtual training.

2 is a mastermind. When I talk about masterminds, I want to talk about a real mastermind. I’m not talking about the, “Oh I just wrote my book and so now I’m going to create a mastermind.” That’s not masterminds. Masterminds are specifically a small group of people with a very particular goal together for accountability and you are a facilitator. You’re not the expert, you’re not the guru, you’re just facilitating the dialogue. The learning happens between the participants. They keep themselves accountable, they meet together on a regular basis to do that. That’s what a true mastermind is.

The third building block is group coaching. This is actually what most people call a mastermind but it’s really group coaching and that is where you are the guru, you are the expert, you’re providing mentorship mostly for a group. Answering questions, showing examples, bringing them things that you think would be useful. You’re the curator of the group. The fourth thing is a done for you service. A lot of people go, “Wait a minute, Frank, you just said no project work.” Done for you services are a little bit different. When I talk about done for you service, I’m talking about a very specific outcome that you know how to create and you can create a very specific process that generates it. Almost like it’s a manufacturing process.

It’s the difference between a custom project where you go when your client says, “What can you do?” You go, “I don’t know what do you need?” That’s a custom project. We’re not in that business but you need your course setup on our system? Yeah we do that because it requires step A, step B, step C, step D. Every single time. We have people for that. We have a bench of folks that do that work. You on day 1 might be the person doing that work but the idea is that you can train somebody to take your job.

The last one are live events and workshops. All 5 of those Lego blogs have different Sam profiles. Back to the skills, accountability and mentorship. Virtual training provides skills but it doesn’t provide any accountability and mentorship. While a mastermind is a horrible place to teach skills and actually doesn’t do a lot of mentoring but it’s great accountability. If you look at those different blocks, you’re going to use them in different ways and you can actually design it really intentionally to make sure that you’re getting the results that your folks need.

Chris: That’s awesome. That’s a really powerful stack there. Frank Bria, ladies and gentlemen. If people want to hear more about what you’re up to and how you can help them more, where do you want to send them?

Frank: If people are interested in this stack and how to put that together, we have a blueprint that actually walks through the 3 stages of putting a high-ticket program together. If you go to frankbria.com/blueprint, you can get it for free.

Chris: Awesome.

Frank: Download it for free and it’ll walk you through those 3 big steps and it talks about some of the things that we’ve talked about in more depth.

Chris: Perfect. Thank you Frank for coming on the show. We’ll have to do this again sometime.

Frank: Yeah, my pleasure. It was a lot of fun.

Chris: Have an awesome day.

EPISODE 109

Top 10 Pricing Models for Online Courses and Membership Sites

The new LifterLMS 3.0 release introduces a new access plan engine that allows you to generate any kind of pricing model you choose. In this LMScast with Chris Badgett of codeBOX you’ll learn about the top 10 pricing models for online courses and membership sites with tips to help you choose the best one for your needs.

Chris begins with the basic one-time payment. You set a price, and the customer pays it. Access time may vary, but the price won’t. The next most common model is the flat, recurring payment. Again, the price doesn’t vary, but the payment recurs each week, month, year, etc. The third approach is the payment plan pricing model, which gives the customer a choice of making a single payment for your product, or paying installments which usually end up costing more altogether.

A popular option is the free with membership incentive to purchase one product, like a membership, and then receive a course or group of courses as part of the package. Members-only pricing offers exclusive courses only available to members. The dollar trial offers the first course of a series for a reduced price with following installments at regular price, while the free trial allows customers to try a course for free, or gain full access for a limited time. The advantage of a trial that requires a small payment is the level of commitment that payment implies, while the free trial can help build your email list or potential user base.

The next pricing model is known as the service fee and recurring payment. The initial payment is substantial, but subsequent payments are lower. This model is used where there’s some setup involved, or an investment of time and resources preparing the student for the course. Then we have launch pricing, also known as special occasion or sale pricing, where you offer a temporary reduction in price to attract new customers. This is usually done for launching a new product, for holidays, or as part of a marketing strategy.

The 10th pricing model is the free course or membership. Similar to the free trial, it’s completely free, and it’s a great way to gain trust and show people what your courses can do for them. A mini-course or introductory course is a great option to grow community and generate interest in your paid courses.

Chris describes each of these top 10 pricing models for online courses and membership sites pricing models in the podcast, and details how you can leverage them to your specific situation. For a detailed, illustrated coverage of these pricing models and how to build them, visit the LifterLMS blog.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and in this episode, we’re going to be talking about the top 10 pricing models you can use for your online course or membership site. With the release of LifterLMS 3.0, our software for creating, selling, and protecting engaging online courses, we released a new access plan engine so that you can essentially generate any kind of pricing model that you can think of. If you offer multiple options at once, it builds a nice little pricing table that you can use to show your prospective online course customer or membership site customer what the various pricing options are and what they get. In this episode, we’re going to get into 10 of the most popular pricing models. You may have thought of a lot of them, but there may be some that you haven’t thought of yet. Then at the end of this episode, we’re going to be talking about how to choose which one is best for your particular online course, membership site, or learning management system.

The first one is just the one-time payment. That’s where a course just has a sticker price of $100. That could be it. That’s really simple, very straightforward. In another episode we’ll get into access length, like whether or not to do lifetime or during a specific date range or it’s good for a month or three months or one year. In this episode we’re just talking about pricing, so the first and the most obvious one is one-time payment.

The other one that’s very common is what’s known as a flat, recurring payment. That’s where it’s just a particular amount, $30 a month, $100 a month, $1,000 a month, whatever it is. It’s just the same amount of money that recurs over and over again. That recurring could be every week. It could be every year. So it doesn’t have to be monthly, but that’s what a lot … In online education or membership sites, the monthly is probably the most popular.

Then we have the payment plan pricing model. A payment plan is very similar to recurring, flat recurring. It’s more just like a specific flat recurring model that’s right next to a one-time payment option. If for example you’re offering a course for $2,000, you may also offer a course, that same course, for three payment of $699. Usually when you have a payment plan, those payments add up to greater, in total add up to a greater amount than the one-time payment option, so there is some incentive for people to, if they have the money and they’re ready to roll, they may want to save a little bit by giving the one-time payment, or if they’d rather reduce risk or spread out the payments, they can use the payment plan. Payment plans also sometimes have the first payment a little higher than the subsequent ones, so it really just depends. That’s a payment plan.

The next option is free with membership. This is very common, where you have a online course website or learning management system and all the courses have a single price or a single flat recurring price, or you can also get all the courses on the site by joining one membership level, which has its own pricing structure. That’s what free with membership means. It means if you become a member, then you get access to this course, this group of courses or all the courses on this website. The next is members-only pricing. This is for more exclusive training where you can’t even buy this course unless you’ve already bought or become a member of some kind of membership. That’s what members-only pricing is. If I don’t have the membership, I can’t even try to purchase that course.

The next option we have is the dollar trial. It’s like a flat recurring payment plan, but the first payment is very cheap. It’s $1. Often times you’ll see like, the first week or the first month is a dollar, and then it jumps up to $30 or $100 or $300, or whatever. The reason people do dollar trials, it does a couple of things. Maybe they’re trying to earn your trust and demonstrate that they have what you’re looking for. Sometimes they’ll do drip content so that you couldn’t just come in for a dollar and take everything, or go through everything. You would have to allow your recurring payment to go into the higher payments before you could actually start to access everything. A lot of times the reason people do that is just to give their audience a hint of what’s inside and to earn your trust.

The reason they put a dollar on it is to avoid just a flood of … If it was completely free, by putting a dollar on it, at least the person has to pay some money, which shows some level of commitment. In a lot of cases the dollar trial works in that way, but there is also the free trial. That’s the seventh pricing model that we’re going to talk about here. It’s really the same thing as the dollar trial, except for that first week or that first day or that first month it’s completely free. That would be more popular than the dollar trial if you cared more about maybe building your email list size or your potential user base. It’s very common. The free trial period is one of the oldest marketing models in the book. To get a free sample of something is an original marketing idea. The free trial works exactly in that way.

Then there’s what’s known a service fee and recurring. This is simply a recurring payment where the first payment is quite large or significantly larger than the subsequent payments. For example, the reason people would set something like this up is, if they know there’s going to be significant training for you in the beginning of the program, maybe some live coaching, a lot of things to get you set up with the materials you need to get going and started, a lot of effort there, the owner of the platform may be charging more upfront because they have to invest more of their time and resources to get the new learner started, but then maybe the next month, if it starts at like, “Okay, first payment is $300 and then it’s $30 a month,” that’s where you have the user invest big in the beginning, but then they’re staying at a much reduced rate. They probably have less demands on the business of the online course website and perhaps they’re staying for the community and so on. That’s what service fee in recurring is. Again that’s like the first payment is $300 and $30 a month.

The next one is launch or special occasion pricing, sale pricing. It’s very common. There’s all kinds of launches where people do a one-time launch or they a launch every month or they do a launch two times a year, once a year. During that launch they may, surrounded by a bunch of marketing activities, they may reduce the price temporarily of the online course, courses or memberships just to help try to convert more sales and also just as part of the marketing strategy for launching a course or relaunching a course or membership. Then there’s other sale pricing that people do. People are very accustomed to things in the digital space, like cyber Monday or around the holiday season or the new year when people are setting new goals and getting ready to start new projects.

Depending upon what industry you’re in, what niche you’re in, it might make sense to have sales at different times of the year, but sale pricing is an important part of any kind of strategy. You have to be careful with sale pricing. You don’t want to do it too much and develop this discount brand and train your audience that they can just wait around forever because you’re going to be having a sale all the time. You can do that if you want, but just be aware that you may become perceived as a discount brand. You’ve probably seen that before with the brick and mortar store, that always has the sale sign in the window and some thing is always on sale, there’s always a blowout sale and all these things. Just be careful with it. It’s very powerful. Just be conscious of what that does to your brand.

The last and most … Not most common, but one that is definitely a good one to leverage for different reasons is the free course or membership. Just like we talked about that free trial, you can also make something completely free forever or for a limited time. That’s very powerful for helping your audience earn trust in you to see what you have and to get people inside of your community and your ecosystem. I highly recommend having at least one free course on your site these days. The consumer market is very savvy. They’re very skeptical. You have to really earn the trust of people, especially if you’re not well known, so it’s always a good idea to give something away for free, a little mini course or your introductory course. Even though it might feel a little counter intuitive, it can actually help grow your community and get more people interested in your higher, more advance training or that has a price tag on it. Those are the 10 top pricing models that you can do with LifterLMS.

I would encourage you to go to blog.lifterlms.com. You can see this whole blog post and you can see in the screenshots exactly how you set those up inside the interface. Which pricing model is best for you? The answer to that one is definitely, it depends. The way to think about it is to think about long term recurring value or lack thereof, and how much value is there. if you don’t have any live components, you’re not having new stuff to the course or membership, you may want to just do a one-time price, potentially have a payment plan, and that’s it. It doesn’t make sense to charge $30 a month, $100 a month, $1,000 a month if your course never changes. If you some drip content in there, that maybe it drips out over the course of a month or three months, then yeah, that makes sense.

I see a lot of people sometimes mistakenly think that lifetime recurring is a good idea when there’s not recurring value. Just be really conscious about it. If you are going to offer something for lifetime and have recurring payment, you really need to do right by your people and think about how are you going to achieve that ongoing, continually adding value. One day to do that is to have a monthly webinar, monthly office hours, keep bringing in new content to your membership or new courses. That is just one way to think about that. In terms of how much money, like how do you know if you have a $20 course or a $200 course, that can be very subjective and objective. There’s a lot of conversations around perceived value and actual value, but really, at the end of the day, what I recommend the way you think about it and the way I like to think about it if I’m creating something, is I look for 10X to 100X value.

What I mean by that is, first of all your course needs to get real results, predictably. If the person does it, does the work, goes through the training, and your course really truly works, and whatever that result is, if you can assign a value to that, the cost of your course, if you want it to really go gangbusters, should be 10 times less or even 100 times less than that value. Let me give you a specific example. If I’m teaching you how to start a web agency and make, let’s say, $50,000 in your first year from just barely knowing how to use WordPress to having a business where you do web development and web design, web marketing for other businesses, individuals and companies, that is a result on promising that you will, if you follow my steps, you will be able to make $50,000 as a solopreneur web agency owner, and I’m going to take you to zero to hero on that in six months or whatever.

That end result is that $50,000 in a year, so one tenth of that would be a $5,000 course. One hundredth of that would be a $500 course. If I was going really high touch, lots of one on one, I might consider the $5,000 offer. If my course is more passive in nature, maybe a monthly webinar here and there, a monthly office hour, I might be more likely to do the $500 price point. Just looking at that 10X or 100X value is a good way to think about how to price your courses. It’s not so important. Some people say that $20 to $30 per hour of video in their course, but that’s not as important as what is the real true impact of that course in somebody’s life. I know sometimes you can’t always assign a monetary value.

If you’re training somebody in some kind of health or fitness goal, those results can literally be priceless to somebody, to have their health or regain their health, so it’s hard to put a value on that, but it’s also important to look at who’s your demographic, how much disposable funds do they have, whether are other trainers and things like that doing in the industry, so there’s different ways to look at it. Thank you for looking at this episode on pricing. Again, go to the LifterLMS blog. That’s at blog.lifterlms.com if you’d like to read through these 10 pricing models again and look at screenshots of exactly how to build them. Thank you for watching and we’ll catch you in the next episode.

EPISODE 108

Creative Uses for Online Courses Outside of the Internet Marketing Space with Jeff Long

This LMScast with Chris Badgett of codeBOX covers creative uses for online courses outside of the internet marketing space with Jeff Long of the Online Course Coach Podcast.

Jeff’s background in video, web development, teaching, and corporate training come together to make him an outstanding online course design coach. Video is an especially important element of your course for SEO, marketing, and student engagement. Courses with video rank higher in Google and are more effective for student learning and retention.

Online courses are also beneficial beyond general education applications. For public speaking entrepreneurs, courses can be developed from content they already use in their presentations. They already have video from their events, and may have written books. All of that can be packaged for sale through a website, or as a back of the room package.

Manufacturing businesses can benefit from offering their own training courses and video for internal training for new hires as well as current employees, plus overviews of HR and OSHA training. Sales reps can access those courses and videos from their tablet for every sales presentation wherever they are. And their customers will benefit from user support courses that explain how to use the product they’ve purchased, from setup to usage and safety. It’s also a great list generator.

Any content you present repeatedly for onboarding, training, and support can be produced once in an online course, probably a mini-course, and then presented indefinitely at will. And offering great online courses and video will set you apart as an industry leader and high-level expert in your market.

The LifterLMS platform for creating and selling online courses has benefited from this concept as well by offering a demo course, which they also use for internal training of new hires, developers and support staff. The video course is also a primary marketing asset as most conversions happen after a customer views the demo.

Jeff offers several tips for listeners with emphasis on always doing a quality presentation, even for a free mini-course or video, as that offering may be your customer’s first exposure to who you are and what you have to offer. Jeff Long is offering a complete course for creating high-quality courses quickly and within your budget. You can get information and sign up for that at the Easy Video for Courses website.

Whatever creative uses for online courses outside of the internet marketing space you’re doing, the LifterLMS course development platform makes it easy to get your course designed, built, live, and ready to sell.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris Badgett: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. My name is Chris Badgett, and I’m joined today with Jeff Long. How you doing, Jeff?

Jeff Long: I’m great. I’m great.

Chris Badgett: It’s good to have you on the show. On this episode, we’re going to be talking about creative uses for online courses, and then we’re going to get into some of Jeff’s key wisdom around video, which he has a lot of experience with, and pull out some gems for you out there. First, Jeff, tell us a little bit about yourself. Where do you come from? What do you do?

I know I first came across you on the Online Course Coach Podcast, which is one of my favorite podcasts that I recommend to anybody who is passionate about online courses and being an education entrepreneur and looking for good resources for a wide variety of information, and tips, and some great interviews. Your guests are incredible. Check out Jeff there, but tell us a little bit more about you. Who are you and what do you do?

Jeff Long: Yeah. Thanks again for having me on the show. It’s been an honor. I’ve been listening to you guys for a while, too, so it’s kind of this reciprocal thing. I started in 2003 with a video production company and had two business partners at the time, and we quickly found out…We’d make these great videos, but our clients’ websites were terrible, outdated, built in a flash, et cetera, et cetera, and so they would ask us to build a website to pretty much house the video. This was before even YouTube was popular, and things like that. We have this one-two punch of videos and website development. My parents are both teachers, lifelong educators. They’re now college professors, and so I have a teacher bug in me, I guess you could say, that I always love to teach.

In fact, fresh out of college, I did corporate training with Lowe’s Home Improvement, so anytime a new Lowe’s store open across the country, I flew there. I trained everybody from the store manager to the store janitor and had a lot of fun. It was a blast. I even got to go to Hawaii, and Alaska, and Canada, and everywhere here in the U.S.. Those things combined, the video, the web development, the teaching background, and corporate training all came together and ahead many years ago.

I don’t have an exact point or date, and it just made sense when plans kept coming to me and saying, “Oh, you do a video and a web. I have this training I would like to videotape, and then put online, and deliver”, and it just morphed into one of our niches that we specialize in an offer. Whether that’s corporate, eLearning, and training or more entrepreneurial-based, it’s been a lot of fun working with some different clients, and we’ll talk about some of those projects and some innovative ways or interesting ways to create online courses that many people hadn’t thought of. That’s a little bit about me. Like you said, I have the Online Course Coach Podcast which I get to interview amazing people, and I just have a lot of fun just asking questions, shooting the breeze like we’re doing here today.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. That’s awesome. That’s a lot of great experience and it’s interesting how things overlap with the teaching background, the video. I started out actually as just an amateur guy who really fell in love with digital video. I was that guy. I’m very much come from a wilderness background, so I used to be ice climbing on mountains on a mountaineering expedition and climbing a big wall, carrying my little digital camera.

Jeff Long: Nice.

Chris Badgett: It was that passion for video that really is what brought me into the web, and when I saw YouTube come on the scene, I was like … After I became more entrepreneurial, I definitely saw the opportunity in what was happening with videos. It’s just this veracious appetite for video as a communication tool, and …

Jeff Long: Yeah, and it helps so much with SEO, with your marketing. I know Forrester Research did a survey or a study and found that a website with video on it is 53 times more likely to be on the first page of Google than a website that doesn’t have a video, a text, and image only website. Then, on the Online Course, let’s see if I can find that stat real quick. I think it was on the Online Course side. A course that has a video content, it was …

I’m not going to be able to pull it up on the top of my mind. It was like 82% more effective when students took the course and it was video-based, so immediately, when they took it, they didn’t remembered a whole lot more than a text-based course. However, over time, they remembered it 82% better than the other students that didn’t have a video-based course, and so just the idea or just the fact that the information seeps in, syncs in when they can hear it and see it and experience it through a video. I could talk about the benefits of video forever, but I know we have other things where we’ll talk about for that.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah. Just another SEO tip I want to throw out there for people, for example with this podcast that we’re recording right now, I have transcripts that are done from these episodes which are full of keywords or whatever, and no matter what your industry is or your niche or your online course platform, you have a blog and you’re doing videos, getting transcripts is a great way to build up just some real, natural SEO as long as you’re talking in the words that people in your industry use. It can be a lot easier to do it that way than trying to write a 4,000 word post, so it’s definitely one of my SEO tips for people looking to get found because we talk to a lot of people here who are at the beginning. Not always, but a lot of people at the beginning like, “How do I start? How do I get found?”, and video is just such a powerful way to get found.

Let’s get into some creative uses for online courses outside of internet marketing. There’s a lot of people in the online course space who get interested in things like passive income or making money online. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there’s a lot of other ways to use online courses or to blend them into something else that’s already going on, and I know you have a bunch of experience working with a lot of different clients and interviewing and so on. How else are people using online courses outside of the internet marketing space?

Jeff Long: Yeah. Let’s start at the entrepreneur level. My company works with larger companies that have HR departments or marketing departments, et cetera. We’ll talk about some of those in a second. One thing that I think is a huge opportunity is with speakers, so public speakers, motivational speakers, and you guys had a really good podcast on that a while back on speakers and online courses.

I just think that, and I’ve worked with quite a few speakers, there’s such opportunity because they already have that content. They’re talking from the stage. They perhaps have a book that they’re selling or a video for back of the room sales. They can just package that together in a course. It’s a no-brainer, so it’s a revenue stream and it’s something they can sell both on their website, as well as back of the room sales.

Whenever I talk to speakers, a lot of times, they have thought about that, but they don’t know that … I guess they already … They usually have the content already in the can in some capacity whether that like I said that’s a book or a DVD series. It’s just creating that extra course material whether it’s quizzes or essays or whatever that might be, or even providing a private Facebook group so there’s more interaction, so I think speakers are a tremendous opportunity for online courses. What are your thoughts with speakers?

Chris Badgett: I 100% agree. That’s actually where I got my start in online courses. As an entrepreneur, you don’t necessarily have to be the expert. You can also be the publisher, so for me, as a guy who understood the web, understood video, understood internet entrepreneurship or whatever, I see opportunity all around me. I did a project with my wife where we found some of the best speakers in the world on topics in organic gardening and permaculture which happens to be a niche that we’re interested in and is actually it’s popular in different parts of the world, but it was a very easy sell.

We would go. We would find these speakers. We would go to where they were already speaking, and just ask them the question of like, “We will help format this in an online course. Instead of reaching this room of 20 or 200 or a thousand, let’s make this available worldwide”, and it was just an easy sell. We did it, and that project continues to add value over and over again, and everybody’s happy.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: It’s just about capturing that medium, that speaking or the book or whatever it is and just bringing it into the online course space as a publisher.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah. That’s why I love working with speakers. It’s funny. Probably in the late ’90s, in early 2000s, I worked with a couple of speakers putting their cassette tapes onto CD, so on CD. Physical CDs.

Chris Badgett: Okay. Yeah.

Jeff Long: Then, a few years later, we migrated all to MP3 and put it online to sell. Like you said, finding those industry experts and partnering with them, whether it’s a joint venture or straight up normal project where they pay you for the project, to me, as an entrepreneur, I love opportunities where there’s a win-win, and so I think speakers are like we keep saying, there’s huge opportunities to help them succeed, and by doing so, you can also succeed as well like we’ve both done.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, and especially if they’re not really online in any kind of major way. They’re just waiting to be … There’s an opportunity there waiting to just scale it out, and that’s still early days in a lot of industry and niches. I mean, there’s a lot of topics out there that people speak on.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah. I was at a speaker’s conference last year in Dallas, and one guy was, he spoke about mountain climbing because he had climbed Everest, and other people were more family and relationship speaking and et cetera, et cetera. There are so many available topics. It’s amazing.

I think the one challenge with many speakers is even though they do it full-time, they’re not the top tier, so it is like what you did is to find the top tier speakers and pursue them versus some speakers that are struggling or not as prolific as maybe some others are.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Just to put you back on that idea, when we started doing that, our video production quality was quite low. It’s just a $500 or maybe less camera in a dark room with poor lighting and a lapel mic that had a little feedback, but because the speaker, and this one that I’m thinking about in particular is known as the number one in the world, best-selling author on the topic of permaculture, it didn’t matter because the content was there and that was good.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Over time, I got more evolved as an entrepreneur. I started bringing in professional film crews and all this kind of thing. I was able to grow from there, but when you’re at the top while video production and quality is important, I was able to get away with it and still survived and realized, “Oh, but I still need to improve” just because they were so good. They were the top of that niche, and those people are more approachable than you realize.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah. No. That’s true. Even though my background is in video production, we do high level, high-end video shoots and projects. As far as online courses, you’re right.

It’s the content that’s key, so whether you’re using your smartphone or a web camera or DSLR or whatever, it’s more about the content and there is a time and a place to increase the quality of your course, look and feel through a video. But I’m definitely not one of these people that says you have to spend a bunch of money to create your online course videos. I always try to start simple as “Unless you have a huge audience that expects a certain level of quality”, but even then, you can sometimes get away with cheaper tools.

Chris Badgett: Totally. Totally. What are some other places or creative ways of using online courses that you come across?

Jeff Long: Yeah. We have a fair amount of clients that are in the manufacturing space. What I love, I consider myself almost like a creative or a digital problem solver that happens to use the tools of video, eLearning, website development, so whenever I talk with a manufacturing company, I ask some questions. One of the questions is “Explain how you’re doing internal training, new hire training, HR, OSHA”, all those things that many of them are required to do, and I’m always surprised how few manufacturing companies do not do any type of online courses, eLearning, video training, et cetera. One example for instance was a company, and they do, I think it was stud welding or arc welding or both.

They have this little box. It looks almost like a briefcase, and that’s where it generates power and helps do the arc welding and some of the things. I don’t want to get too technical because I’ll be out of my league here quick. They were having a problem where their sales team would go out, and they would say one message, and then the customer service folks would get a call, and they might say something a little different, and then the people that were actually building it in the back of the facility, they would know something else, so we created this eight-part video training on really from setup, to usage, to safety, to everything the client could use. Of course, we’ve put it on their website.

Their sales team was able to put it on iPads and you can go across the country, and just everybody was on the same page because it was well-documented in this video course. Here’s the funny thing that happened or the thing I didn’t anticipate is, and I’ve been doing this since 2003. Video, especially video courses and good video courses quickly elevates you to an expert level, even this company I worked with. They were an expert in their field I would imagine, but once I had this video series, trade publications, and different trade shows, and other people in their industry were calling them asking about how the video is made or “Can we use some screenshots for our brochure?”, or just things that quickly propelled my client to a different level just because of these videos. Then lastly, I got a call from him.

He was at a big trade show in Dallas. He said, “Hey, we just won our biggest contract of the year”. I congratulated him of course. He said, “One of the key factors was I have this video course for our product”, and my client’s new customer looked at that as an innovation and they were cutting edge, and they were making it happen, and so the customer was talking to my client. “Hey, if you guys are that cutting edge, we know that you can serve us for years to come”.

There’s all these ripple effects that to be honest, I didn’t think about, I didn’t market, I didn’t promote when I was doing the sales pitch to my client. It was just fascinating how that video series propelled them higher in different people’s eyes.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome, and what you’re touching on there is not linear in nature. It didn’t just make something marginally better. It actually made a lot of things a lot better which is interesting, and that’s the power of the internet and the true power of scale.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Though, I’m curious when you first did that project, was it meant initially just to be for internal training and the public wasn’t going to see it or was it for everybody?

Jeff Long: It was for everybody. We had considered some extra modules or whatever just for internal use, but it’s really helped their SEO. We talked about SEO earlier, and so we got the transcriptions and we did our keywords and tagging it appropriately, so it’s really helped them with SEO and searchability.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. Yeah. I mean, we have the same experience at LifterLMS which is a digital product for creating and selling online courses, but we have a demo course that if we hire, knew somebody, knew on support, they’d go through it. A lot of what we do is custom development built on top of LifterLMS, and if there’s a developer coming in to work on those kinds of projects, they take that course. It’s our number one marketing asset.

Most of our conversions happen after somebody … They were on the demo, and then they decided to buy. Those videos are on YouTube and going all over the place. I mean, it just keeps going on and on and on. It’s really amazing what, if you’re a product company or a service company, how valuable it is to slow down, take a second, and curate all that knowledge as opposed to just doing it one-off because think about how efficient it is every time somebody needs to learn about our product for one person to stop and show this one-on-one relationship, and then that moment in time is gone forever.

Jeff Long: Yeah. It’s interesting you mentioned that. I spoke at WordCamp Columbus this year. Obviously, most of the audience are web developers, designers, and that kind of people in that industry, and we got off on a topic about similar to what you just said that if you find yourself doing the same onboarding, training or whatever with your clients or with your employees or freelancers, create a course. It doesn’t have to be this big, blown out, huge, mega course.

It could be a three-lesson module or a three-lesson course, a mini course, and that just takes so much time. I mean, it could be as simple as “Here are the ten things you need to do to log into your WordPress website and add a blog post. Go to this page, and then log in, and then add your title, then your keywords, and then your tag”.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Jeff Long: It doesn’t have to be complex, and I think there’s a waviness or a value to courses where back in the day, it used to be, “Hey, sign up for our newsletter”, and people would just sign up in masses, and then that fell off, and then, “Hey, sign up and you get this free report”, and that has fallen off, and then “Get this audio or whatever”. The course is a perfect list generator, list builder, so yeah, I’ve seen that countless times just like what you’re saying with your courses and what not that it just helps on so many levels.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. Absolutely. What’s another one? What’s another creative use for online courses?

Jeff Long: Yeah. We talked about speakers earlier. I worked with Carrie Wilkerson of The Barefoot Executive. She wrote a ‘New York Times’ best-selling book, and then she’s a speaker as well. We did a whole, big, long day video shoot where she flew in, and we had make-up people and multiple cameras and big crew and all that, but part of that was we did some different videos. Some are more highly produced, and then the course videos were a little scaled down.

She just built her email list just like we talked about a minute ago, and so she had a ‘7 Day Business Blitz’ where she would give different tips and strategies to help you in your business for seven days. She emailed me about a month after the launch and she said she had about a thousand new subscribers added to her list because of that. While she is in that speaker space and somewhat internet marketing space, she’s so authentic, she’s so good, and she was using this mini course as a list builder, but man, it packed a powerful punch to the audience. You know this, Chris. If you’re thinking of a free course, don’t make it crappy.

Chris Badgett: Right.

Jeff Long: Make it awesome, because that’s the first exposure to you that your customers will have.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. That’s really good stuff. Yeah. Do you recommend … I’m just curious on that free mini course, the beginning or something.

Do you recommend that coming out, or what are your experience and what have you seen in terms of having that be just videos that come out their email or actually putting those inside of a learning management system? Do you have any way of …

Jeff Long: That’s a great question. I don’t know. Yeah. I haven’t done any split test, so I can’t say definitively back-to-back how that would convert. I think it depends on your audience and topic, and I think that would be a fun test to see if you send out emails with video in it and they click, it’s a good page or if they have to log in. I don’t have an answer for that.

Chris Badgett: I’m just curious. I’m always wondering about that. I do agree and I’ve just seen it so much that the free email mini course is the way to go.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: Another one I’m seeing a lot lately and maybe we could chat about it a little bit is this whole concept of people doing a virtual summit.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: It’s live, there’s all these experts come in, and they talk about a specific topic. It may or may not be curated into a path to follow. That might just be a bunch of people weighing in on their perspective on a topic, and then it’s free. That may be free, an online virtual summit, and then after that summit is over, then it gets curated into a course or a membership. Are you seeing that going on or what’s your take on that trend?

Jeff Long: Yeah. I think it is a good strategy. I’ve been on one recently and it was a lot of fun. I don’t know. Personally, I don’t know if people are going to get fatigued of that.

I think it’s been going on for maybe a year or two. I don’t know when that tipping point will be when it’s like, “Okay. I get invited to a summit every week or every month. I just don’t have the time”, so I think there’s value and with everything. The more niched down or obscure your topic is, the more you can do a summit and it’s new in your industry, so manufacturers or some of the clients that you’ve worked with, Chris could really benefit from that, but if it’s kind of the typical like, “Hey, how to make money online or how …”, I think we’re all tired of that.

Chris Badgett: Right. Right. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. Let’s get into some video tips. You’re here.

You’re a video guy, and we get hit all the time with video questions, and you have an upcoming course on effective video. Can you tell us a little bit about that, and then start giving us some tips?

Jeff Long: Yeah. I do. I got to look at my calendar here. Starting October 26th through November 11th, I have a three-part video series all about how to create effective online course videos in half the time, because I find that through my podcast and doing coaching and different things, people want to create effective courses. That’s what it’s all about and that’s what we’re both passionate about, Chris, is effective training that changes lives and impacts people.

I know there’s a barrier to entry with video. People think it’s too costly, too complicated. They don’t want to get in front of the camera. There’s a lot of things that keep people from creating videos, and so this three-part series really talks about how to create videos in half a time, some of the tools and resources I have, and then I also have a contest I’m running with about $800 worth of prizes and discounts for people to build their website, their course, their videos, et cetera, so that’s a fun experiment I’m doing with the course as well.

Then, I’m going to be launching a full-blown out course right after that early November type of thing, so yeah, it’s going to be a lot of fun. We’ll talk about the different pieces of equipment you might need, whether you’re on a small budget or large budget, so audio, video, lighting, graphics, some of those different things, as well as how to truly and effectively teach with your course content. It’s going to be a lot of fun.

Chris Badgett: What are people doing with video perhaps incorrectly or underoptimized in terms of teaching through video? What are they doing or not doing?

Jeff Long: Yeah. I think one of the struggles is trying to fit your entire life’s knowledge into your course.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Jeff Long: In fact, I have a client who does this. Every time, I say “We need to cut it down”, so that the goal is not how much packed into this. It’s more about “What’s the simplest way to convey this message and teach this without talking forever and ever and ever?” I had an entrepreneur one time tell me … He would pay five times the amount for a specific course if it to be cut in half dramatically. He said, “My time is worth more than money, and so if I can get in and get out and get what I need to, that’s more important than the cost of the course”, so I think finding that happy medium of content versus length is key.

In fact, I saw a study that said “Videos that are for eLearning and training have about a 12-minute limit for people to stick with you”. We all know that promo videos and marketing videos should be under probably three minutes or so, but with training videos, you can go longer, but there’s that 12-minute limit, so when possible, try to keep each lesson, module, video, whatever under that 12 minutes.

Chris Badgett: That’s awesome. What about tools? If somebody is first starting out, let’s say it’s an entrepreneur who’s already successful, whether they’re a speaker or let’s just say they’re a solo operator, but they already have a nice income, they’re not struggling, but they’re new to the whole technology thing and they’re going to have talking head videos, what do you recommend?

Jeff Long: Yeah. Perfect. I recommend to start with what you have, and most people have a decent smartphone that has good video, so why not start with using your iPhone or your smartphone? Just make sure to get a tripod that can hold a smartphone. You don’t want to hold your arm, had your arm out, selfie mode when recording a video for 12 minutes of course.

That’s one thing is make sure to have a good tripod. Then, make sure to have good audio. Whether that’s a lavalier mic, and you can find these on Amazon for 20 bucks or so. There are ones that cost a lot more, but you can do it for 20, and so that way, it sounds good. It’s steady.

Then, the third thing you need is good lighting. I recommend be in your window or be somewhere where there’s not harsh shadows. You could even be outside as long as you’re not half in a shade, half in the sun. Those are the things I would recommend. Start with a video camera you have, whether it’s your smartphone or a webcam, get a tripod and stabilization, get good audio, and then make sure it looks good with the lighting.

Chris Badgett: If you don’t have an iPhone, what’s the best audio option, like just to use earbuds like this if you’re recording a video or what?

Jeff Long: Yes. RODE makes a really good … It’s called the ‘smartLav+’. smartLav+ if you pronounce it like that.

Chris Badgett: Is it wireless or corded?

Jeff Long: It is corded.

Chris Badgett: Yeah.

Jeff Long: They do make some wireless ones. It’s hard for me to recommend wireless because the wireless Lav mic I have is almost a thousand dollars, and I’m not going to recommend that for normal people.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Right.

Jeff Long: It’s more in the high-end. I mean, you can definitely. You can use your earbuds that come with it. It’s just personally, I think it looks a little funny if you have your earbuds in a course. I’d prefer to have less wires in it, but that might just be my perfectionism coming through.

Chris Badgett: Absolutely. What are some other low-hanging fruit things you see for education entrepreneurs out there who either classic mistakes or just easy places to get started and really bring it up a notch?

Jeff Long: Yeah. I think a lot of it is … Here’s a tip I would do, and I actually broke this rule recently, so I’ll remember next time is don’t record your first video first. Let’s say you have a 10-lesson course, and each lesson is a video. Chances are if you’re brand new to video or if you don’t do it much, you’re going to be learning on the fly, and that’s fine, and your first video is going to be your worst. All right? Let’s be honest.

Chris Badgett: Right.

Jeff Long: You don’t want to start off with your audience’s and your students’ first impression being one of your worst videos, so you might just do a practice video and get it out of the way and just say, “You know what? That first video, I’m just going to throw it in the trash. We’re not going to even use it”, so there’s no pressure, or you can start in the middle. “Let’s take video five and work all the way up to number ten, and then back starting from one up to five”. That’s what I would recommend is … Most people don’t think of that.

They just think sequentially, “Hey, one through ten. Start at one. End at ten”, but start in the middle because your first video is going to suffer and you’ll have to rerecord it. Like I said, I just went through that recently myself because I’m used to producing other people’s videos. I’m not always in front of the camera as much as I would like to be.

Chris Badgett: Right. That’s great. I remember when I first recorded LifterLMS demo course, the very first video is like “Why LifterLMS?”, so I was like, “I might as well wait until I’m warmed up, and then I’ll come back and do that really quick one at the end” after I’ve done everything else and really gotten the rhythm.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That makes a lot of sense. I also want to just echo what you’re saying. It’s important to not be too hard on yourself and go ahead and launch your first lesson or your first course, have it not be perfect, and just know that the next time you come around, you’re going to be better.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: A lot of people have to go through like, “Okay. That was my first course”, and either redo it again in a year or launch a different course, but the main thing is just to start. I’ve never seen anything like video where people struggle with perfectionism, and I know it brings up a lot. You have to be on stage, you’re public speaking in a way. It just brings up a lot of issues, and I just see so much perfectionism around video. If that’s blocking you of not being on stage, then maybe you should start with a screen cast kind of course or whatever which is totally fine.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah. You’re right. I think people are always critical of how they look and sound and act on camera. I mean, I am too.

I watch a video, I’m like, “Man, I sound like that? Are you kidding me?” Nobody else thinks that because they just know you as you, and so you always are your worst critic with video. The good thing is you don’t have to be perfect. I think with …

When I worked with some of our corporate clients that we do sales videos and marketing videos, yeah, we have to stick on message and stick true to brand, and it has to be more scripted, but when you’re teaching, it’s more just to let your expertise come through. If you say some ‘Ums’ and ‘Uhs’, and if you stumble, it’s not the end of the world. Like you’ve said, Chris, just get that course up there and thankfully, LifterLMS makes it easy to get a course up and to swap out components of it. Maybe you do a phase two or a version two, and you can easily swap in or out the new material, so it’s really a no-brainer. I think people overcomplicate it thinking, “Oh, once this course is made, it’s set in stone for all eternity”, and it’s not.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. It’s never perfect. Even right now during this call, I can hear my neighbor who’s outside that window just started out the leaf blowers. I’m pretty sure it’s coming in through my mic, but whether it’s dogs barking, somebody interrupting, somebody saying ‘Ums’ and ‘Uhs’, there’s always going to be something.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: If your course is really financially successful, then you can hire somebody to come through your post-production, and then cut out all the ‘Ums’ and ‘Uhs’ and make you sound more articulate if you really want to, but it’s not a reason not to start and just get going in the first place.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Yeah. Here’s another tip because most of us make a lot of mistakes on video or screen cast or whatever. If it is you on a video, and I have to do this a lot, trust me, is I hide my mistakes with creative editing. Let’s say I talk for one minute, and in the middle of it for 15 seconds, I start talking about something, and I just mess up.

I can cut that part out and either put a transition, I can put an image over top of it or extra footage, or a graph or a chart, anything to cover that up. You see this a lot with the news. I don’t really watch the local news just because it’s always depressing, but they show the anchor there on camera and here she is talking, and then they cut the footage of what they’re talking about, so you don’t know if that anchor person is talking straight through or if they’ve cut up some of the interviews and different things. That’s an easy way to cut out your mistakes without your audience knowing about it.

Chris Badgett: Yeah. Yeah. Editing, if you’re using something like ScreenFlow or iMovie, you can do a lot just right after the fact, and even sometimes I’ve done it before where I will clap in the middle of a show.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That’s just me putting a spike in the audio graph, so I’m like, “Yeah. Right around there, I need to cut something out”, but I know pretty much, I don’t need to touch everything else, so it’s just a way for me to speed up the editing process. Yeah. I go to that spike, look for what I wanted to edit there, and then keep going.

Jeff Long: I love it. I’m so glad you brought that up. That’s like a power user tip, so congrats. You’re a power user. It really is.

Let’s say you do a promo video or something where you record the same phrase over and over or whatever. Like what you’ve just said, Chris, I either snap or clap my hands for a good take, so I know, “Hey, I just look at the time lines for my claps or snaps”, and I cut that and keep it, and I catch all the rest. That way, you don’t have to watch through every take and retakes and all that because it’s pretty monotonous and time-consuming.

Chris Badgett: Yeah, and that comes from the movie industry. I think you have one on the wall behind you, but that thing that people do where that goes like clack, we’ve all seen it.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: That’s one of the reason they do that.

Jeff Long: Yeah.

Chris Badgett: It’s just like a visual representation of a transition or whatever.

Jeff Long: Exactly.

Chris Badgett: Cool. Jeff, this has been great. Can you tell us where to find out more about you and tell us again about your upcoming course and where people can go to find out more?

Jeff Long: Yeah. You can find out more about that course at ‘Easyvideoforcourses.com’. If the video series is still going, you can sign up for that. If not, you can just get on the wait list. I’ll probably push it out six months from now just because I want to make sure I can properly equip and handle the students that are coming in, so ‘Easyvideoforcourses’ is probably the best way to learn more about that.

Chris Badgett: Your podcast?

Jeff Long: The podcast is ‘Onlinecoursecoach.com’. We interview different people and different industries, as well as they have quite a few solo shows talking about just like what we talked about here today, video tips, as well as different marketing strategies, and how to build courses, and fun things like that.

Chris Badgett: Awesome. Thanks for coming on the show, Jeff and we’ll have to definitely do this again sometime.

Jeff Long: Yeah. Thanks so much, Chris.

EPISODE 107

Getting the Right Web Team For Your Project

If you’re thinking of hiring a web development team, then listen to this LMScast with Chris Badgett and Ali Mathis of codeBOX. They’ll give you some important guidelines for getting the right web team for your project.

There are many options for choosing your support team, from freelancers, agencies, or friends in the business. Make sure you choose well, because it will be expensive and painful if your web company fails. Many customers arrive at codeBOX after having a bad experience with another web development provider. Their most common complaint is a lack of communication once money changes hands that leaves them feeling confused, alienated, and frustrated. They don’t know what’s going on with their project, and often the finished product is not what they wanted.

At codeBOX we build custom eLearning platforms using LifterLMS, as well as other integrated technologies and third-party APIs. Our goal is to build relationships and be a long-term trusted advisor for our clients. Before we start any project, Ali conducts an in-depth discovery process with the client to learn what they really want to build, then provide them with a timeline and estimate. Once the project is under way, Ali answers emails daily, calls each client weekly with a progress report, and answers any questions or concerns they may have. We are able to provide this service remotely to a global clientele.

As an online education entrepreneur, you’re probably not going to find a web development support team in your physical location, especially if you live away from urban areas. It’s especially important to work with a service you can trust to be flexible, responsive, and professional, and to keep you well informed. You might be tempted to hire lower-cost services in other parts of the world, but you’ll always get what you pay for. It’s a wiser choice to pay more up front to get what you really want the first time. Effective project management and communication is what makes the difference between projects that might turn out okay and those that exceed expectations.

With codeBOX web development services you know you’re getting the right team for your project from beginning to end. We value our relationship with you and are committed to becoming your technology partner for the continuing success of your business.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

Chris: Hello, and welcome back to another episode of LMScast. I’m joined today with Ali Mathis. How are you doing, Ali?

Ali: Great, how are you, Chris?

Chris: Awesome. Well, good to have you on the show. In this episode, we’re going to be talking about getting the right web team for your project. If you’ve been following us for a while, perhaps you saw on LMScast, the last episode, where we talked about how to evolve from just being a one person show with your learning platform, your membership site, your online course, your LMS, your web application, whatever it is … to going from being a one person show to having at least a decent web hosting account and start building a team so that you’re not doing it all. If you’re watching this video, you’re probably already at that stage where you’re exploring looking for a team to support you.

The company behind LifterLMS is called codeBOX. You can find out more about us at gocodeBOX.com. One of the things we do at codeBOX is we build custom learning projects, or platforms on top of LifterLMS that often incorporate Lifter. Or, we bring in other technology and integrate through other third party APIs, and really just build whatever you can think of in terms of a user story of what you want your platform to do, what you want the experience to be. We can build literally anything, and that’s more of a custom development project. If you’re at that spot where you’re looking to hire a team, you should start interviewing, and looking around, and exploring what your options are. You could go with a freelancer. You could go with an agency. You could go with one of your friends who you think might does web design.

There’s some important things you should know about setting yourself up for success, because if you fail with your web company, it can be very expensive, it can be very painful. You can not get the outcome, or make the progress you want to have. When we start our engagements with clients, we get to know each other a little bit. Ali, here, leads up a lot of our discovery processes with codeBOX, where we get to know our clients and figure out exactly what we’re going to build, and consult on that, and come up with a detailed timeline and estimate. We get to know each other, and one of the things we find out early on is there’s a common thing we see that clients have experienced, and it relates to dealing with a previous web team, or a team they’re not having a great time with. Can you tell us more about what this common trend we’re seeing is?

Ali: Sure, Chris. Yeah, in the past couple of discoveries we’ve had, and speaking to our clients about their past experiences. A lot of them have commented to me that they’ve had unpleasant experiences, just due to poor communication from the web development, which possibly is partially due to poor organization, just not returned emails. That leaves the client confused and alienated from the team. They’re not really sure what’s going on with their project. They haven’t heard back from anybody, and they just feel really frustrated.

Chris: Yeah, and that’s really too bad. As an education entrepreneur, whatever it is you’re trying to build on the web, when you start looking for that team to support you, especially if you’re not in a urban area, or a bigger city, you’re going to be looking for a remote team to do what they do. Either you’re looking in other parts of the world, which have different currencies with different pricing, so you’re trying to get more bang for your buck. Or, you’re trying to go where the best talent is. If you’re looking for a development team that specializes in building learning platforms on top of LifterLMS, this is the absolute best one. If that’s important to you, you would come to codeBOX for that.

You have to look around. When you work with a team that’s offshore, or not in your town, that you may never see face-to-face, that involves a lot of trust. It can be really disappointing when that relationship doesn’t work out, or you feel ignored. I don’t know what’s more frustrating than asking a question, or checking in for a progress update, and then hearing nothing, hearing crickets. There’s nothing that could be more frustrating than that, especially if I had a lot of money on the line. I’d really value that communication.

Ali: Yeah. I can speak for myself personally, but I try to respond to all of our client emails same day, often within the same hour. When we run a project, we communicate with the clients on a weekly basis. If necessary, we talk to them more, but we always schedule a weekly check-in call, just so we can show them or talk to them about what we’ve been working on, and ask questions. They really get to know us well, and we get to know them well. I think it just makes for a much better process.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, and it’s just one of those things where I think you get what you pay for. You can probably find somewhere on the internet where you can get a website built for you for very cheap, but you’re not going to get that communication. You’re not going to get that team behind it. You’re not going to get the good advice and the consulting along the way. You may get a team that’s not able to actually execute on what you’re asking for, or can’t adapt with you as your needs and your priorities change during the project. I’d encourage you to really check out your options out there. If you are looking for economic value, to be aware of the trap of taking your project to something that you find, like on a website, that’s super cheap, or outsource everything. You do get what you pay for.

In the past, we’ve called it ‘developer abuse.’ I don’t necessarily like that term, but I feel like I’ve just heard a lot of potential clients and customers just having a hard time with working with and communicating with their development team, and even feeling taken advantage of, once the money exchanged hands. Or, the project got under way, then all of a sudden the communication that was there during the sales process just totally disappeared. We do the opposite. It’s just that communication is so key.

Ali: Yeah, I think part of that comes from … Part of our package is having a dedicated project manager on the projects who’s able to maybe translate what the developers are saying, and the technical language to something that the clients can really understand. If they’re not as technically minded as the developers are, and just be that bridge of communication, which is really, really important.

Chris: Absolutely. Ali, you have an incredible gift at that, and building that digital bridge is key because you have to … I like to think of us first as foremost at codeBOX as solving business problems. We really want to get to know you. We want to know where you’re trying to build, where you’re trying to get to in terms of success. If we don’t understand that, if we don’t communicate and understand each other around that, then we can’t bring the best digital or technological software solution to make that happen. We need to understand those business problems, and we need to be able to communicate that down to the engineering level, … and vice versa when we’re getting advice from the engineering level, we need to be able to advise that to someone who’s speaking more the language of business and what they need for their project. Effective project management and communications is absolutely essential. It’s what separates the projects that go well with ones that exceed expectations, and so on.

Ali: I think that’s honestly really one of my favorite things about my job is getting to know the clients, and hearing about their companies, and their businesses, and their challenges, and their problems, and just building a relationship with them. I think that’s what makes codeBOX so special and where we really excel. I really enjoy having … We have several VIP clients that have been clients of ours for a long time that we have regular weekly calls with. I look forward to it every week. I look forward to hearing how they’re doing, how their project is doing, how their business is doing. We really make an effect to get to know our clients, and they feel like friends more than business partners sometimes.

Chris: Absolutely. Just to close it out, I just want to leave with a metaphor. I heard somebody once say that when you build a house, everybody hates their contractor when they’re done, or the building team. That really just means there wasn’t good communication there. We like to take the opposite approach. When we get done building your web property, or your home on the internet, we value your relationship at the end just as much as at the beginning and during the middle. We want to end up as that trusted technology partner for you that you can always count on, and know that you can get in touch with, and communicate with, with problems or new ideas, or new features, or new concepts you want to flesh out. Yeah, we’re here to build the best possible house for you, and also communicate well with you on that journey.

Thank you for checking out this episode of LMScast. I would encourage you, if you, if you haven’t checked it out yet, go to gocodeBOX.com. Again, codeBOX is the company that makes the LifterLMS software, and it’s over at gocodeBOX, where we do our client projects, our custom development, and design. Go ahead, Ali.

Ali: You can also subscribe to our company newsletter on our website, and that’s a great way to learn more about our team and what we’re working on individually and as a company, … and follow us on Facebook, as well.

Chris: Absolutely. Yeah, that newsletter, go check it out. It’s not your average newsletter where a company just tries to sell you stuff. We talk about what’s going on with us as individuals, and spotlight interesting things that we’re seeing around the web, or with our clients. Again, go to gocodeBOX.com, find the subscribe link, and we look forward to catching you in the next episode.

EPISODE 106

The Future of Online Education | LifterLMS 3.0 and Beyond

Every country in the world is currently reforming their approach to education, and LifterLMS is evolving as well. This LMScast with Chris Badgett of codeBOX will explain his vision of the future of online education for the new LifterLMS 3.0 and beyond.

Chris’s life work is about finding new effective and engaging ways to learn and to facilitate learning. He has 2 small daughters that he’s invested in providing the best possible education for. To do this he employs a method called “unschooling,” a philosophy that advocates exposure to a world of learning opportunities to allow students to fully experience areas that interest them most. The role of the mentor is to protect learners from making unrecoverable mistakes, while allowing other mistakes to act as learning experiences through reality-based feedback.

This same philosophy has gone into the development of LifterLMS, including learning from mistakes. Chris feels he made one of those mistakes when he recently shared news about the LifterLMS 3.0 upgrade, but failed to offer the reasoning behind those major changes.

In deciding how the new LifterLMS should be improved, some considerations included:

  • Utilizing technology that supports effective and engaging learning
  • Providing access to the tools necessary to reach experts around the world and integrate them into the classroom
  • Making it possible for people with valuable knowledge and life experience to easily launch online training platforms to create income and impact
  • Curating learning materials from diversified sources in order to create the most effective and engaging learning journey
  • Helping people follow their interests from wherever they are, take control of their learning, and connect with mentors and peers while helping others grow
  • Rewarding learning method creators based on the effectiveness of their content and craft

The mission that drives the roadmap and evolution of LifterLMS is to democratize education in the digital classroom by facilitating personal leadership, rapid learning, and connection to others on the same path. Accomplishing that has required some tough decisions that need to be explained. In this podcast Chris details the reasons behind adding some paid extensions and add-ons, removing some previously free services, and providing options for new and current users of the LifterLMS platform.

The LifterLMS 3.0 software is a major upgrade, and some things will simply be backwards incompatible. The coding and architecture simply can’t stay the same if the platform is going to progress. In order to deliver on our vision for the future of online education we’ve made progressive decisions for LifterLMS 3.0 and beyond, and we want you to enjoy all the shiny new features we’ve introduced based our users’ feedback.

Sign up here to get the free version of LifterLMS right now, or get ready to run faster with the Universe Bundle which was released when LifterLMS 3.0 came out.

Post comments and subscribe to our newsletter at for updates, developments, and future episodes of LMScast. Thank you for joining us.

I made a mistake.

But before I get into that, I wanted to share a story with you …

First I invite you to listen to Sir Ken Robinson tell the story of how every country in the world is currently reforming education in this video:

I believe there are exciting, new, effective, and engaging ways to learn, thrive, teach, and facilitate learning in today’s world.

Working on this problem and opportunity surrounding effective learning along with unlocking human potential is my life’s work. I’m not just thinking about next year or about the standard five year plan. I’m thinking generationally, focusing this work 50 – 100 years out.

A personal journey with learning
I love to learn.

I’m a parent with daughters who also love to learn.

I’m a very private person, but sharing a little bit of my personal story will help you see my root motivation and vision for the future of online education and LifterLMS.

My children do not go to school, even though they are of school age. I’m not a big fan of labels, but you could label us as practicing “unschooling.” Unschooling is an educational method and philosophy that advocates learner-chosen activities as a primary means for learning. If a parent, teacher, or anyone for that matter, wants to support an unschooling learner, it is done by helping expose the learner to a variety of experiences allowing them to discover interests and communities on their own. Supporting unschoolers is all about facilitating and allowing the learner to lead.

It is important to recognize that unschooling is not anti-school.  Rather it is about seeking out the most effective resources, at the right time, and in the right way for each individual learner. My approach isn’t as dogmatic as it may sound (which is why I don’t like labels). For example, my children enroll in specific classes in our community that interest them, like art and music. I am simply sharing my personal story, beliefs, and choices.

Of course as a parent, mentor, or leader, we have a duty to protect unschoolers from unrecoverable mistakes. However most mistakes and failures are recoverable. We want lots of those kinds of mistakes, and we want reality to provide feedback on what’s working or not. “Real world” or reality-based feedback is a powerful teacher.

Keep reading. In a little bit, I will show you an example of reality-based feedback related to the mistake that I made.

Now if you think about it, we all have done some unschooling in our lives even if we didn’t realize it.

As a kid I was bored and unengaged for much of my classroom time. I had a “good” education, but I could have gotten a lot more out of those years.

It wasn’t until college that I was allowed to start making conscious decisions to lead my own education.  I persued classes that actually sounded interesting to me like anthropology, sociology, philosophy, sustainable development, appropriate technology, travel, and outdoor leadership. This was really the beginning of an unschooling approach for me.

The secret sauce to unschooling that works for me includes:
Taking leadership of my own path
Continuously improving my craft and experimenting constantly (which I find easy when passion or interest is there)
Surrounding myself with others who have chosen a similar path (no matter where they are on their journey)

Many great things in my life have come from embodying these three personal truths. It is through this unschooling approach to life that I have found success in an outdoor leadership career in Alaska, a work-from-anywhere, semi-nomadic, married-with-kids lifestyle, and as the passionate online education software entrepreneur standing in front of you today.

Again this is my personal journey and what’s evolved for me. Your journey and path is your own. You get to define what success means to you. There are many paths. Choose yours.

So how does online course, membership site, and learning management system (LMS) software fit into all this?
Please allow me to ask you a few questions that I have asked myself over the years.

Read each question, pause, and really think about what the answer might look like.
What would a world look like where we had technology that supports effective and engaging learning?
What would a world look like where all teachers had access to the tools necessary to reach experts around the world and integrate them into the classroom?
What would a world look like where people with valuable knowledge and life experience could easily launch online training platforms to create income and impact?
What would a world look like where people and businesses could curate learning materials from diversified sources in order to create the most effective and engaging learning journey?
What would a world look like where people anywhere could follow their interests, take control of their learning, and connect with mentors and peers while helping others grow as well?
What would a world look like where learning content and learning method creators were rewarded based on the effectiveness of their content and craft?
These are the questions that consume my curiosity.

I’m motivated for myself, my family, you, and all of the world’s people.

Learning is what makes us human.

But I don’t just explore this learning utopia in my mind.

I also think realistically about the tools and specific cultural transitions that need to transpire to get us there.

So what would a software look like that facilitates a learner’s personal leadership, rapid learning, and connection to others?

The answer to that question is what drives the roadmap and evolution of LifterLMS.

I invite you to come with us on this journey to the next evolution of learning. Our mission is to democratize education in the digital classroom.

What does democratization actually mean?

At it’s core, the democratization I’m talking about concerns empowering individuals and learning communities.

The big shift that’s happening right now in education starts with personal leadership.

The democratization starts within you.

You decide who is leading your learning journey.

Is it you?

Is it someone else or something else?

Do you realize you have a choice?

Sometimes we are unaware of our own belief systems and assumptions which include who and what we allow to lead us.

I guarantee you can remember a time when you were in control of your learning. You chased something of interest. No one forced you. You experimented with it, sometimes successfully and sometimes unsuccessfully. You found a community related to this interest and you got involved. Eventually others came to you looking for guidance on their own free will and you helped them.

What was that for you?

At LifterLMS we are building tools that help education entrepreneurs create learning platforms that matter. These are platforms designed to create high-impact, engaging, learning environments that can also be extremely lucrative if your content and methods are good.

I believe you need the following elements to be successful as an online course creator, membership site owner, or learning management system administrator:
Wisdom, knowledge, life experience
Instructional design (an intelligent packaging of the wisdom into an effective class structure, curriculum, method, path, system, program, etc.)
An online course delivery system, membership site, or learning management system (LifterLMS offers all three of these approaches simultaneously or separately)

Some say that when building an online education program, there is a preferred order in which to do things. Many people do this backwards.

I learned the ideal order from a great friend and mentor…

1) Build community.

Community happens naturally when you allow the natural social connections to form through something like an unschooling approach. Unfortunately today there’s a lot of unnecessary focus on gimicky tactics for “building the list” and “persuasion techniques.” The strongest communities are simply a natural byproduct of pursuing your unique version of meaningful work.

2) Build learning content.

This also happens naturally as your competence grows and you begin helping others who are less experienced. Over time your methods of helping and facilitating get better and better as you see positive trends from what is working in reality. The instructional design improves as time goes on. Your unique methods of helping or facilitating real learning become the learning content and framework.

3) Create the delivery system.

Unfortunately I’ve seen way too many people focus on the tools before they have the community and the content. The tools are a very important part of the puzzle but they are not the starting point. The online course, membership site, or LMS software should support the exchange of knowledge, set the student up for real world application with direct, reality-based feedback, facilitate community, and empower the learner to lead their own journey.

What’s new in LifterLMS 3.0 and what does the future hold?

LifterLMS 3.0 is about to roll out. In last week’s post we wrote about 19 of the top new features, benefits, and changes.

I made a mistake by sharing with you what was happening with LifterLMS 3.0, but not why. That’s an example, by the way, of me making a mistake in the real world and getting reality-based feedback from real people. That’s part of my unschooling journey as a software entrepreneur. That’s a lesson to me that helps me improve as a communicator.

LifterLMS 3.0 is a major upgrade. Moving from 2.7.12 to 3.0 is a major version change in terms of semantic versioning. The point system we use here is often misunderstood or misused. In a major update, there are some things that are backwards incompatible.

Backwards incompatibility is not a bad thing. For example, when you decide to have children, you can not expect to have the same life you had before kids. Life has forever changed, but this is not a bad thing.

There is a fork in the road here. We are exposing a seam. In the words of Seth Godin:

“There is a seam. That was one color, this is a different one. That was yesterday, this is today.”

For LifterLMS 3.o there are a lot of awesome, shiny new features shaped by the voice of our users, but there are also a few backwards incompatible changes. The code and architecture behind the way people purchase and access courses and memberships have been completely rewritten from the ground up. Also the ability to sell courses and membership with PayPal or WooCommerce have been moved out to paid add-ons. These integrations have also been completely rewritten to work with the new payment and access system and have even more functionality than their predecessors.

People who are currently using these payment methods in an older version of LifterLMS that do not want to pay for the new PayPal or WooCommerce add-ons are in complete control and can make the decision to NOT update their version of LifterLMS. There will be a big red alert message next to the usual update available area in WordPress. If someone accidentally updates and changes their mind, they can choose to roll back to the previous version which is freely available here. If they don’t know how to roll back, there is a community of web developers and even WordPress “version roll back” plugins out there.

Some might be wondering why we decided to move the PayPal and WooCommerce functionality from the free core software out to their own premium extensions.

It was a tough decision and this is why we chose this direction:

1) Some of our users don’t need eCommerce features. Some sell their training offline or through a different method. It’s important in a product for the main feature set to be desirable to the majority. If selling your online training is important to you, then you may want to go to the store and purchase individual eCommerce add-ons or you might want to get them all through the Universe Bundle that will roll out alongside the LifterLMS 3.0 release. Remember, our top priority is making online education work, not just eCommerce. We are LifterLMS, not Lifter-eCommerce. Of course we want education entrepreneurs to be successful and make a profit. I’m sure you would agree that if your learning content and teaching methods are effective and desirable, you can afford to pay for the tools you choose to sell them with. It’s easy to put skin in the game when you’ve got a valuable and effective training product.

2) As a business we need to be able to grow and pay great people to provide product support and continue product development. We give a lot away for free to the community, and we’re happy to. But any good product needs to have a sustainable business model behind it. The major business expenses in software products are support and continuous improvement. It’s in the learning community’s best interest for LifterLMS to be able to fund and accelerate development resources towards more learning-focused functionalities, like more advanced assessments, assignments, teacher capabilities, and much, much, more.

3) You can still validate your online course, membership site, or learning management system for free with LifterLMS. The free LifterLMS 3.0 includes a new feature (manual gateway) you can choose to use that puts a transaction in pending status after checkout pending arrival of a check, cash, bank transfer, payment through a different system, etc. Once you get payment, you can change the order status and the user is immediately let into the courses and/or memberships that they purchased.

You could also validate your training by selling the course or membership with an easy PayPal invoice, embedded PayPal button, WooCommerce simple digital product, Gumroad digital product, FreshBooks invoice, and a host of other free-to-set-up or low cost services. Upon payment, simply deliver your customer a LifterLMS voucher to activate their purchase, give the user a coupon, approve the order manually in LifterLMS, or enroll them manually. It’s easy to validate your minimum viable training product (MVTP) with LifterLMS.

Once you have proof of concept, we offer a suite of products to help you create an amazing world-class platform. You can buy individual products or save big by investing in the Universe Bundle where you get everything we make. At the end of the day if your course is delivered through our system and good enough to make money, it’s in both our best interests for LifterLMS to be able to afford to support you and continuously improve upon the tools that make your platform possible.

4) We want to run, not walk.

Of course we care and sympathize with people who want a valuable component to remain free. I understand where these people are coming from, but I am also offering an invitation to take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

For those of you that you that wish to continue, I know you understand why it’s important for us to be running into the future together, not walking.

Running not walking
I have a vision for transforming how we as humans worldwide can learn and teach.

I have a vision for how we can lead ourselves, build healthy relationships, and experience the joys of rapid learning.

But I’m not just a dreamer.

I’m a builder.

I can connect the dots to get us there.

However this is bigger than me, you, and LifterLMS.

This is my vision, but this isn’t my story.

This is our story.

This is our time.

Let’s run, not walk, forward.

In order to run, LifterLMS needs to have a strong business model behind it. LifterLMS needs to be able to cover support costs, cover development costs, and grow fast.

In order to run, LifterLMS needs a community of users who share this vision and our shared journey. LifterLMS needs a community of users that are making courses that matter.

Your time is limited. So don’t waste it by living with an education operating system that is under-optimized.

You’re time is limited. So don’t waste it by not valuing the tools and the community that is here to support you.

Let’s run, not walk.

Sign up here to get the free version of LifterLMS right now or run faster with the Universe Bundle coming out soon with the release of LifterLMS 3.0. Again, we will prorate existing customers. Contact us here if you have an active license and would like to be prorated and upgraded into the Universe Bundle.

If you want to run faster and join us on this journey but need financial support because of geography based currency issues or exceptional life circumstances, click here to explain your situation and apply for a partial or full software scholarship.

The release of LifterLMS 3.0 is an event. Click here to watch the replay of the LifterLMS 3.0 Launch Party Webinar. There will be some limited-time discounts for everyone to celebrate the launch. There will be deeper discounts for current LifterLMS Pro users as promised.

I will see you at the starting line. Make sure you are on the email list so you’re in the loop.

Get ready to run into the future, not walk.